Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tumor Humor - Part 3

I call my doctor to report a splitting headache and some numbness in my face. It's outside of office hours.

“In case of emergency, hang up and dial 911.”

Though I feel hesitant, I call 911 and explain the situation.

“We're going to send someone over to check it out.”

Five minutes later the paramedics arrive in flashing ambulances. I hope the neighbors aren't watching.

There isn't one guy, there are six. And they are all really, really cute! This is like some personal bachelorette party complete with Chippendale men. Is this a dream? I half-way expect these guys to start dancing! They're all there in uniform being very attentive, taking my pulse and blood pressure. I'm sure my heart rate must be going up a bit! If I'd known I was going to get this kind of attention I would have called 911 a long time ago and made sure I was wearing something other than sweats! I didn't even put on makeup!

“I didn't expect so many of you!”

I wonder if it would be inappropriate to take a picture.

As five of the cuties are gathered around asking me questions, a sixth goes upstairs. Apparently, it must be protocol for someone to go up and check your medicine cabinet to find out what kind of drugs the poor victim is on. Not that I don't want a cute guy in my bedroom, but I'm not prepared. My room is a mess! And right in the area where the vanity is--where my prescriptions are stored—is where I've left my underwear---dirty underwear! Inside out!

That's not all.

My little stash of drugs includes none other than--I'm embarrassed to say-- vaginal cream antibiotic. Lovely. A vaginal infection is just what I want to discuss with some hot, young paramedic.

Tumor Humor - Part 2

When I suddenly started seeing double as I was driving my son to school on Friday, I knew that something was really wrong. The fact that I can barely remember the drive, other than the strange sensation of “waking up” at a light with a flat tire, was unnerving, to say the least. This one couldn't be explained away as “just one of those things.” Everything else that was unusual—dizziness, insomnia, sensitivity to cold, weight loss despite eating loads of chocolate (yay!), my love of Laptops – these things have been more pronounced than usual, but haven't warranted a huge amount of concern.

When I called the doctor to tell her I had experienced double-vision when driving, she wanted me to come in immediately for an MRI. Yippee! VIP-treatment! Mental note: When seeking quick medical attention, you are taken much more seriously when you complain about double vision, than when you complain about mood swings.

The MRI did reveal a small growth on my Pituitary Gland. The doctor was not surprised because this was consistent with her recent blood work findings. The Pituitary Gland sits right behind the optic nerve, so it's not unusual to experience double vision with this type of growth. The doctor set me up with an endocrinologist and a neurologist.

She assured me there were no brain tumors. The Pituitary Gland isn't technically your “brain” and this growth could most definitely be treated. “If you have any other unusual neurological problems, be sure and call me right away.” she told me.

Unusual neurological problems? Well, that's a big bucket load of possibility! People have told me my whole life that I have a very strange brain! It would be unusual for me to act normal! The fact that I'm now completely paranoid about a brain abnormality is exactly the way my normally abnormal brain works!

So last night when I had a splitting headache and my lower jaw felt numb, I was sure it was another brain malfunction.

Tumor Humor - Part 1

This morning I'm taking some sick time from work. This is kind of silly because I'm here, typing on my laptop, which is all that is really required for me to “work.” The most physically taxing part of my job is the energy required to get up and go to the bathroom. However, we get five sick days a year, and I can't remember ever taking one. I can work from home and I'm addicted to email. Even when I'm legitimately sick, I manage to check my email, just to make sure I'm not missing out on some late-breaking information. I want to keep up on any schedule changes for the Team Happy Hour, for example.

But yesterday, I went to work, despite the recent diagnosis. I tell my co-workers in an ominous, scary way that I have a “brain tumor” in order to solicit the most sympathy. People look at me in horror! “Oh my God! You will be in our prayers! What are you doing here?” I figure I might as well milk this sympathy for all its worth. “Yes.” I say in a brave, resolved voice. “God will see me through this!”

A pituitary gland tumor (or, if I'm drop the melodramatics, it's really just a growth, and not very big) is almost always benign and treatable. They can either remove it through the nose (a very unique booger) or maybe even treat it with drugs or radiation. I'll find out more today.

The exciting thing is that this can explain so much! Everyone blamed my dizziness on my blond highlights! And all that scatter-brain behavior? It all makes sense now! The pituitary gland controls all the hormones. As any female can attest, we have enough trouble with our hormones even when things are working normally! Apparently, my hormones are completely out of whack, and NO, IT'S NOT BECAUSE I'M PERI-MENAPAUSAL! AHHHHH! I'M GOING TO CRY IF ANYONE TRIES TO CONVINCE ME OF THAT!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Who Needs Money? - Bowel Cancer Research

Last November I met Ian Usher, this guy that's traveling the world accomplishing 100 goals in 100 weeks. He's really quite a fascinating character and I've been following his blog with interest. When I told my 14-year-son about him...all the cool places he's going and things he's doing...my son's first comment was a very matter-of-fact: "He's going to run out of money." Note to self: Stop worrying about money...or at least stop talking about worrying about it...in front of Scotty!

My son's not the only one that mentions the little issue of money when I rave about Ian's adventures. People want to know if he's independently wealthy. How in the world does one afford to take off for 2 years and travel the world? I'm sure it's a question that Ian gets asked a lot...in fact, I asked him that myself when I talked to him.

His budget approximately averages out to $100/day, he told me. And a lot of what he's been able to do has been due to the generosity of people he meets. Reading through his blog, I saw that it's often through serendipity that he's met just the contacts to help him fulfill some very unique goals that often require very specialized talents!

One of the most incredible of these meetings happened 2 days after I'd met Ian on Thanksgiving Day. He told me he was meeting a juggler that would help him accomplish his "juggle with fire" goal. I had pictured a street vendor who was probably just making ends meet. "Juggler" doesn't sound like the kind of job that pays well. I pictured Ian and the juggler sitting around with a can of spam on Thanksgiving Day, maybe throwing around some burning turkey legs. I read his blog the next day and saw that the juggler was world famous! Thanksgiving was spent at this outrageously gorgeous mansion in the Santa Monica mountains!

But my surprise and awe at the stories I read on Ian's blog aren't about wealth in the monetary sense. They are about the generosity and spirit of all of those that are helping him to accomplish these goals! I admit to feeling a tad guilty after I read about it all that I met him purely for selfish reasons. I didn't help him accomplish any goal...he helped me with one of mine! And, he bought me a drink at a very posh LA bar to celebrate afterwards.. Undoubtedly out-of-budget when one is traveling around the world on $100/day. It struck me that Ian neither boasted of his fame nor complained about any disappointments or worries of money.

There is one goal I thought maybe I could help him with. (Well...two, if you count the "Mile High Club" but... I wouldn't really call myself experienced in that area unless he's talking about a hike...) I have some experience with fund-raising (as anyone that knows me can attest.) Ian's Goal #81: is to raise $50K for Bowel Cancer Research. (Put Ian Usher in the "Name of Event" field.) His father died of Bowel Cancer and today, Jan.22, is the Anniversary of his death.

I know that these days most of us are worried about money. We're worried about the economy, the value of our houses and investments, and our jobs. But isn't it heart-warming to see people reaching out to someone they don't know, either to give or receive? It can even be as simple as a smile (but even better to donate money to a worthy cause.)

I hope you'll consider it!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Out With the Old, In With the New

I have a lot of difficulty “letting go”...whether we're talking about a relationship or an old vase, I just am not good about getting rid of stuff. My ex is the opposite. When we were married, some of our biggest arguments were about throwing away old stuff. He would go through a room and just throw away anything that he thought was old or imperfect. “If it hasn't been used in a year, you don't need it”, was his motto. I, on the other hand, attached sentimental value to every object. The ticket stubs to movies, the silky nighty I wore on our honeymoon that had become worn out and lace-torn, the beautiful vase gotten as a wedding gift, now held together with hot glue.

So, 5 years ago, when my ex left (out with the old, in with the new), perfectly in character, he said he'd rather have cash than the house or any of the “stuff” within. This worked out perfectly for me. Though it's not easy to afford or maintain this big house, I get to hold on to all my glorious “stuff”. I even had trouble getting rid of the piece of driftwood found in Mendocino that we'd put on the bed to symbolize we'd felt disconnected... like we were “drifting” apart. (Although I admit to being tempted to throw that one through the window of his new house with a note that said, “your new wife might want this”.)

Without my ex around any more to throw away all my precious junk, my kitchen-cabinet-cleanup project is long overdue. My idea of making spaghetti sauce is heating up a jar of Prego so this is more kitchen than I deserve, but I still love it. Taking everything out, one cabinet at a time, I discovered all kinds of “treasures”. Cooking gadgets that I have no idea how to use. Holiday molds that release the jello into a unique shape causing guests to think “what the heck is that supposed to be?” I found another kind of mold, too....on an ancient sandwich left in one of the 10 Bolder Boulder lunch bags that I've collected. Ah...what memories. I found all the baby cups that Scotty used to drink chocolate milk from that have since been chewed up by our dog, Chloe. I found 3-kids worth of elementary art projects and I also think "What the heck is that supposed to be?" I even have a bunch cheesy stuff from MY childhood like my “St. Louis” souvenir cup and saucer.

Let's face it... I'm not just sentimental, I'm a packrat. I can't stand to throw away something that is too old or worn out or sentimental to give to charity, but still has some value (supposedly). I think the weirdest thing I found was something that looked like a urine specimen cup. It was still in a plastic container (unused thank goodness!) but I must have thought the container might come in handy some day when I stuck that little treasure in my food storage cabinet. I have to admit, it was one of the few items in there that actually had a lid that I could find. There were quite a few lids with no corresponding containers as well! Almost everything was stained and weathered from years of use. “Tupperware” was “special” according to my mother. (I can't believe she actually asked if she could take some of these sorry containers, saying I could send her the lids if I found them in my cleanup. Now you can see where I got my packrat behaviors from.) My son asked me if I was going to give them to the homeless... Um... No. I don't think homeless people want old and dirty food storage containers to store all their leftover food in their live-in “refrigerators”. What my Mom didn't want, I actually put in the trash. Thanks to Walmart, I was able to replenish my supply for less than 20 bucks. It may not be “Tupperware” but it's clean and has lids.,

I found lots of mugs that were the ex's... Far Side, “I Love My Daddy”, Enginerd... He drank a lot of coffee, so coffee mugs were a standard gift. I boxed them up to send over. Most likely he will throw them all away. I'm proud that I either gave away or threw away a lot of old stuff, too. But I'm keeping a few of the old things. The “I Love My Mommy” mug will never go out of style.