Thursday, July 31, 2008

The New Friend

Lately, Patrick has been playing with a boy I'll call Isaac, who lives somewhere in our neighborhood. He met Isaac through another friend who lives two doors down. They were all playing outside one evening in this other friend's yard, Isaac rode by on his bike, and then he stopped to play. He stops by here almost every day now looking for Patrick. He's a very polite boy, and seems like he probably comes from a good family (ie his parents probably aren't crackies or anything). Still, I am uncomfortable with this friendship.

Isaac is ten. Patrick is five.

I tell myself that there's no reason to be alarmed; we live in the same neighborhood, and boys beyond a certain age (and below another certain age) are all interested in basically the same things: video games and outdoor stuff. Isaac comes over, the two of them troop upstairs, and play video games together, or splash around in the hot tub together. I never hear any fighting, and it doesn't seem that he's using Patrick for his stuff, really, any more than any other kid likes to play with another kid's stuff (I particularly worry about this with the hot tub - I don't want kids coming here just so they can use the 'pool'). I checked with Josie on this, since she's actually been in the hot tub with the two of them, and she said that they seem to get on like gangbusters. I also tell myself that Josie is 9, and I expect her to play nicely with Patrick, and indeed the two of them do pretty well together, considering that they have entirely different interests. Josie plays with Patrick's friend Audrey up the street, who is 6, which is a three year difference, and she's also been known to play with her 3yo sister, although that's more of Josie liking to be The Mommy and take care of people.

Still, I'm conflicted. There's a big difference between 5 and 10, and I can't help being nervous. DH says that it's probably a summer thing, and that he's OK with it because Isaac has been so polite, to the point of calling DH 'sir' in conversation. Patrick, of course, loves the attention of an older boy, and would play video games with Methuselah, if he showed up.

Any thoughts? Did any of you have much older friends?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cable Schmable

What IS it with cable companies???? (also insert cell phone companies, internet companies, etc, as you like)!!! We have had nothing but problems since we had the stupid cable installed, and it's only been since the beginning of May, for heaven's sake! First, it was an incorrect installation that gave us the entirely wrong channels and a broken remote. Then, it was that we couldn't get anything above channel 70 on the bedroom TV. After several calls, and customer service agents insisting that it *wasn't* that we needed a cable box for that room, surprise! It was that we needed a cable box for that room. So, we got a month of free 'preview' service for the digital package, which we were already subscribed to, so the person gave us a credit. Hmph.

The other day, I noticed that we were no longer receiving the digital package. I had a feeling that it was that the freebie period had ended and 'somehow' our account had had the information that we were already subscribers to that service before we were credited was deleted. So, today I finally got around to calling to complain. Here is our conversation:

Me: Hi, I noticed that I'm not getting anything above around channel 120. I think my digital channels are gone. Can you help me?

Her: Why don't you check what number you're not receiving above and call me back.

Me: I think it's the digital package that's gone. We were getting it for free for a month because our install went so badly, in addition to the regular trial period.

Her: No, everyone gets it free for ten days. It had nothing to do with your install. I show you had it free for 30 days, in June.

Me: Right, the 30 days were for June, but our service started in May. June was credited to us because our install went wrong. (mentally: hello, you just said yourself that we had a longer period than usual for free, duh, why are you arguing with me!!!!)

Her: No, it wasn't. Call me back when you know what channels you want.

Me: OK, never mind, it doesn't matter how the channels were or weren't there, I just want the digital package added. Those are the channels above the 120s, right?

Her: Yes. I can add them, if you'd like?

OH, HOLY HELL. What is WRONG with people?!?!?! First of all, I hate that customer service has changed from 'the customer is always right' to 'the customer is always wrong, and you should point it out repeatedly until they give up and die of frustration, which will ensure continued service without any more calls'. She said it herself, we HAD FREE SERVICE. She was just SO invested in being right that she couldn't even stop arguing when she had made herself look like an idiot by reading aloud my point from her own screen! And, seriously, even before the entire conversation took place, it was obvious which channels are missing, and obvious that I wanted them, so her response should have been, 'oops, sorry about that, let me add them back in for you.' Period. But, no. And let me add that we used to have DirectTV, which I liked just fine but refused to have installed at the new place because it takes them a month to get here, and then the last time I had the local installers out, they actually asked me 'does your husband know what you're asking us to do?' Yeah. No thank you, Cletus, I think I can take it from here.

Also, here's another little pet peeve while I'm at it - we have a mail slot in our door. We have two dogs, and Baci will happily shred the mail for me, thus saving me the time and effort of doing it myself. However, just in case the mail might contain, I dunno, a check (like THAT would ever happen - checks only flow one way at this house, and that's OUT the door), we have a huge mailbox that sits on a big post right next to the stairs. Just to clarify, the mail carrier has to WALK PAST IT to get to our porch, where the barking dogs are waiting to receive the mail from his fingers at the slot. Yet about once a week, the mail comes through the slot. I believe it's when our regular carrier is on vacation, or maybe they do a rotation in our town or something. Occasionally, I'm here when it happens, so I go outide to find the carrier and politely point the box out to him (so far it's only been men), and they always act so surprised, like it's shocking that someone with dogs has a box. Today when it happened, the guy told me that last year he had delivered to a house that had little dogs that met him every day at the door and promptly shredded everything as soon he put it through. He said it was his day's entertainment, because being a mailman is a terrible job. ??? Okey dokey, then. Sigh.

But it's the cable people that really piss me off.

Monday, July 28, 2008

a nice day at The House

Today has been a peaceful day. First thing, we had to go to the kids' new school so Patrick could have his hearing / eyes checked, and everyone actually cooperated and we got there a few minutes early!!!! (I KNOW!!!) I found out that the school also does home visits to all incoming K students, so someone will be here early next week, I'm assuming his teacher. This is like night and day from when Josie started K in the county we used to live in. We didn't find out who her teacher was going to be until the day before school started, and not only did the school not visit incoming students, but we were actually DISCOURAGED from coming into the school!!! We actually ended up pulling her out in first grade to homeschool because of that, and various other issues, like school-tolerated bullying and verbal abuse of the students by a teacher. Anyhoo, Patrick's teacher will be coming here, and I'm delighted that they are so involved! It seems so... homey.

After that, we went to the gym, which I haven't done in forever and a day, and I did cardio and weights. For once, both kids had a really good time in the childcare, too. Typically, Josie sulks and pretends to be bored, and Patrick gets upset because he didn't get enough time on the video games they have there. Today, though, it was obvious that they had been running in the basketball court and climbing area, and they both said they had a good time. I'm so glad, because when they have a good time, I'm a lot more likely to go. It's hard enough getting my own initiative up, but when I also have to fight two draggy kids, forget it.

When we got home, Josie went to a friend's house, and Patrick watched some TV. Then, Josie and her friend came back here, and they're all playing outside in the hot tub. This is good, too, except this particular friend has been repeatedly told that she's Special (and not in the short-bus way), so she sometimes acts accordingly, expecting that things happen when and as she wants them, whining, etc. She also puts on an act of being really timid, which is catered to by her mother, and drives me bonkers. I understand why her mom does this, because she had a terrible childhood herself, and she's projecting onto her daughter, who is of course having a wonderful childhood, except that now she's WAYYYY coddled and over-praised. Anyway, other than that, said child is perfectly nice, and they all get along pretty well, so I'm still happy to have her here if she's going to take the pressure off of me to amuse the monkeys!


After my friend's daughter left, we went to meet DH at the pool for an hour or so. That was lovely, too, because since we've been going at the end of the day, there is pretty much no crowd there, so the kids can go down the slide and off the diving board all they want with little or no wait.

Now the kids are running around with some of the other neighborhood kids, like a herd of wild elephants. Slam! in the house, booomaty boomaty boom up the stairs, shrieks of laughter, bang bang, boomety boom boom, slam! back outside again. Before we moved to this part of the world, we were The House in the neighborhood that all the kids came to, and I pretty much ran a lunch and snack cafe. It was nice, actually, because the kids were happy, no one really fought, and everyone was tired at the end of the day. Also, I always knew their friends, which is good both so I know what kinds of people they're with, and also as they get older, it means I'll know all the teenagers in the neighborhood and be on good relations with them, which would hopefully protect us from any petty thievery. It seems that we're moving in that direction again, which is good with me. I mean, I like it when the kids go to other people's houses as well, since it gives me quiet, but really I don't mind having six kids here.

The other reason I like it so much is a selfish, living-through-my-kids one; when I was young, I was never allowed to have neighborhood kids over. I wasn't even allowed to socialize with the neighborhood kids, actually. My grandmother hated everyone in the world, especially her neighbors, who had really done nothing to engender her animosity (she was a total nutter who spied on everyone on the block with bird watching glasses), so I wasn't allowed to so much as speak to anyone. I wasn't allowed to have anyone over past 4pm, even if I was allowed to have a friend from school over, because she served dinner at 4, so I had to be home and so did anyone else I might have over. Basically, I was the neighborhood hermit who had to sit inside and watch all the other kids play ball in the street, and stay home to hand out the Halloween candy (regardless that it was my birthday and I should have been having the time of my life). Even when I was in high school and we had moved out of my grandmother's house, things stayed pretty much the same, although at least then my mother was distracted by her non-speaking-to-me live-in boyfriend, so I was pretty free to spend all my spare time at someone else's house. Still, that was way past the neighborhood playing stage. So, having The House now is like my childhood fantasy come to life, in time for my own kids. I'm so glad to give them this opportunity, and to be able to see what a housefull of happy kids is like. Better late than never, right?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Who Am I, Again?

This week, while the kids have been at camp, I have been enjoying myself tremendously. I haven't done anything in particular that I wouldn't have been able to do with them, per se; it's that I've done it all sans fighting, whining, and the inevitable World Tour Of Public Restrooms. I've cleaned out and replanted a section of the yard, caught up on all the housework that has been behind since I was in the hospital, done mountains of laundry, and walked the dogs almost every morning, which is one of my favorite things to do. All in the sanctity and peace of my own thoughts. Ohm.

This has made me wonder, where would I be if I didn't have kids? My entire life would be different. I would never have worked at Raytheon, that's for sure, since that entire company is against my philosophy of life (they basically make profit off of warmongering). I would probably still work for a nonprofit in DC somewhere. Would we have moved to the country? I would probably have many interesting hobbies, and be in a lot better shape than I am now. We would actually take vacations, and I would have left North America by now at least once.

I'm not saying that I regret my life choices, and certainly not that I regret my children, because of course I wouldn't trade them for the world! But, this is the first time I've been alone since I left work six years ago, and really the first time I've had an extended period by myself EVER. I mean, I was always either at work, or at the least with DH, unless it was a rare sick day or something when I was alone for a few hours. This week, though, I have been alone for about nine hours a day, every day.

What really started me thinking was an ad I saw in the paper yesterday for an assistant at a photo studio in a nearby town. No experience needed, it says, work while your kids are in school. Now, that sounds pretty appealing. I'm good with people, and I'm a decent photographer, so I think I would be a pretty good assistant. But, do I want to give up what I haven't even had yet? I've fallen into a lot of jobs over the years becasue either I was desperate or I had a child and had to take whatever there was that would allow me to drop off / pick up at a certain time. With the kids both being in school in the fall, I have a chance to do something I actually WANT to do... but what is that, exactly?

Part of me thinks, it might be fun to check out that photography studio, see what it's about. Another part of me thinks, yeah, but who will be here on all the weird half-days and icey days and vacations and for teacher meetings and field trips? What about them?

I also think, since I'm not going to be here with the kids, am I then just being a drain on the family? Does that make me basically a glorified maid during the days, if all I'm doing is housework until the chilluns come home?

I think, as exciting as the prospect of reliable time to myself is, it's also stressing me out a little. People keep asking me what I'm going to do with myself, and I have no answer. I'm a planner, and I like knowing what's coming up. I have no idea what my life is going to be like after the next three weeks, really. I feel like I'm going to be meeting a stranger at the door when I get back from dropping the kids at the bus stop in the mornings, and the idea makes me feel slightly discombobulated.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Zap! and I'm a Be-och

We finally broke down the other day and installed an electric fence for the dogs. Well, really, it's only for our young dog, Baci - the older one, Tyler, doesn't wear the collar needed to activate it because he's not a freakin' Houdini dog. Plus, he's well-behaved, and too old to be such a troublemaker. Baci, however, has been continually getting out since we moved in, and getting bolder each time it happens! He jumped the stone wall, so we put up the fence and dealt with the corresponding debacle. He figured out that there was a space behind the lilac bush in the corner of our backyard, wedged beside the garage, so we put up a blockade. He shoved it aside over a period of days (I imagine, since I can't see behind the shrub without crawling back there) and got out again. I piled leftover landscaping stones in front of the space. He made a new one. And so on.

The real problem here is that the fence on that side of the yard is our neighbor's ancient decorative wire fence. Since their yard is higher than ours, most of that side of our yard is bordered by a 2ft retaining wall and then the fence on top of it, which so far had been working out. In two places, however, their yard meets ours at ground level, and the previous owner's dog had already started the busting-through process (evidently their dog was out ALL the time), so ours just continued it. I know if I had continued the wire-fence fight, he would have just found another spot, and another, and another. So, we gave up and installed the invisible fence. It's just a wire that runs the perimeter of the yard, and extends to include our front porch, and he wears a special collar with two small, dull prongs on it that, when he gets too close to the wire, give him a shock. I put it on the lowest setting, and tried it on my own hand first - it's not painful, just surprising (hence the term shock, I guess).

Anyway, I still feel like a shit. I mean, the fence isn't in a place where he'll get shocked unless he tries to get too close to the regular fence, like within about six inches, so he doesn't feel it unless he does something naughty, but he's been zapped a few times so far. The first couple of times he was just terrified, and then spent the rest of the night looking at me reproachfully and avoiding me. He wouldn't leave if I went to him, but he didn't follow me like he usually does, and there was no laying at my feet that night. I wish I could explain to him that this is much, much better than him getting hit by a car, or lost.

The evil side of me wishes that there was something like this for kids. As in, if they fight, ZAP! If they sass me, zap zap! And if they hit each other, they light up like Christmas trees! Bwahahahahaha!!!!!! And THEN ... oh.... ahem! what was I saying? Oh, yes, the dogs. Right.

Anyway, yesterday seemed better, and he wasn't totally terrified of the yard. I can tell he's still wary, though, and he's still a little scared of the front porch. I'm hoping it will wear off soon. I don't want him to be scared, and I'm actually hoping that we won't need the collar forever, although he already knows the difference between having it and not, and acts differently when it's off, so we'll see. Just like a kid when its parents aren't looking.

Monday, July 21, 2008


First of all, today was so peaceful! Other than my making the DIRE mistake of taking both dogs to a local, wooded creek on my own (imagine two dogs tied around various trees and simultaneously dragging me through the water, me losing my shoe, and having to slog through the rocky bottom with one bare foot while trying to convince them to leave - it was NOT pretty), I got a lot done. I ran out of time before I could do the blog marathon, so that will be tomorrow morning, but at least I'm making progress!

So, for today, I'm posting a bunch of pictures of various things (also notice new kid pics on the sidebar):

We finally finished working on the kitchen! Here are the before and after shots:

From this:

To this:


Our church's VBS went off really well - here are my favorite photos from that:

This is the castle I built out of cardboard:

The downstairs hallway (that's a rollercoaster mural hanging on the wall that was left over from another event, and the ceiling decoration is a printed paper I bought at AC Moore):

The carousel animals we borrowed from another church who had done the same program, and I used them to make a 'carousel room':

... and the Galactic Room:

OK, that's enough photos for today!!!!! :)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tomorrow, I Love Ya, Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is a Red Letter Day! Both kids are going to all-day camp at the Y for the entire week!!! I will be dropping their shining little faces off at 8:30am, and not seeing them again until around 5!!! I'm so excited I can't even believe it!!!! I haven't been alone like that since, um, college, I think! Woohoo!!!!!!!

While I fully intend to do Things That Need Doing, I also have a looong list of things that Want Doing, like a nicely-sized pile of books, a $50 gift card to Marshall's, info on two places to take dogs to swim that are nearby, and a ginormous list of blog postings that I got waaaay behind on while I was in the hospital and was so intimidated by that I still haven't dared really look at my RSS page. Tomorrow, dear friends, I will emerge from blogger darkness and comment, comment, comment!!!

First order of business, though, is to clean the house. Now, hear me out - if I do it first thing, I will have a pleasant-smelling, tidy, guilt-free experience the rest of the week. If I wait, the mess will only bother me and diminish my fun until I do it. I'm not talking major, deep cleaning here, at least not at first, just vacuuming (which with a four-story house is a job in itself, frankly) and dusting the living room. Since I'll be alone, it'll take me two hours, tops, to get the place where I can stand being totally lazy in it, and from then on, I'm golden! Hee hee hee!!!

This is really a warm-up for school for me (although their day at camp will actually be longer than a regular school day). They start Aug 20th, which is what, about four weeks from now, meaning once camp is over, it's a three-week downhill slide to MAJOR peace and quiet. OMG, it's so delicious, I can hardly stand it!!!! I've been at home with the kids since before Patrick was born, actually almost literally six years from the day they will start school, and of course had Josie three years before THAT, so I'm due for some serious relaxation. People ask me all the time what I'm going to do when school starts, and I very honestly tell them that I don't know. I mean, I plan on volunteering at the school a lot, and I volunteer to take care of babies for the MOPS group our church runs for the community, but other than that, I have no committments. I'm not going back to work, at least not yet, unless I can find something that's only a few mornings a week and would be flexible for school schedules (and when I do THAT, I will ride the pig that will simultaneously fly out of my ass to work every morning to save gas). I have a girlfriend that works in a school lunch kitchen, but I SOOOO don't want to do that. Growing up, I went to work with my grandmother, who was a GIGANTIC bitch (trust me, my mother and I lived with her, so I know what I'm talking about), every morning at my elementary school's kitchen, where she was head cook, and I have terrible memories of the entire school lunchroom process. Also, since I don't typically allow my kids to BUY lunch at the school (since when did fried cheese sticks constitute a main dish?!?!), it would seem terribly hypocritical to work there. What I'd really like is to be a library aide or something at the school. THAT would be fun. Books all day, and kids in measured doses. I don't know if schools hire people to do that kind of thing, though.

Anyway, back to my blissful week. I will try not to brag too much, or rub your noses in it. If it makes you feel any better, we will not be taking a vacation this summer, AGAIN, because we're always too broke to manage it, so this is what I'm getting. My big splurge will be going to see Batman at some point. My DH is sick with jealousy over that one, but hey - HE gets to go out to lunch with ADULTS whenever he wants, so he can go suck an egg.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Recently I posted about my husband's sister, Kathy, who at 45 is pregnant with twins. She's OK now, as far as I know, but she had a big scare last weekend. She had been lightly spotting for awhile, but last Sunday she started *bleeding*, so much so that she was transported to the hospital via ambulance (her husband is an EMT, so he pulled some strings). Even more unfortunately, it happened during my neice's 18th b-day party, which has doubled as a rememberance ceremony for her twin brother for the past two birthdays, so the poor girl was dealing with the loss of her brother, the potential loss of her unborn siblings, and worrying about her mother's health. I wasn't there, because I felt that it was too soon for me to go after my hospital stay (they live about 45 min away, and the party as usual was going to be at their gazebo at the pond on their property, where there's no running water, nowhere to escape the heat, and never enough places to sit), but my other SIL said that my neice handled it very well and continued swimming and hanging out with her friends without saying anything about it until the call finally came a few hours later that they had finally found both heartbeats and everything was OK, at which point she said 'OK, now I can breathe', and went about her way. Good grief. My MIL, needless to say, was and still is in a complete twist.

One of my friends said that this would make her want to just look away until the entire pregnancy is over, and basically that's what I'm doing. I don't think I could stand to lose another child in this family, never mind two more, even if I hadn't met them, unless I didn't just not think about them almost entirely until they actually arrive. When I *do* think about it, increasingly I'm upset that my neice is going through all this when she's been through so much already, and I worry about my in-laws, especially my MIL, who I think would never recover if the worst happened. So I'm not thinking about it. Officially.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Ah, how the mighty ambitions have fallen. A few months ago, I started many, many plants as seeds in our old house. I laid claim to windowspace in many rooms, pissing off the cat entirely, and things seemed to be going well. Most things sprouted, and were looking

Then, I had the stroke of genius that told me what a fabulous idea it would be to help the plants harden off (grow strength in their stems that they would lack from growing inside without having to harden up somewhat to withstand wind) by setting them outside on top of our back porch roof. We conveniently had a Door to Nowhere, which was a door in our bedroom that led out onto the roof, which presumably must have been a sleeping porch at one time but now was just a falling hazard. Unfortunately, my sparkling intellect stopped just short of reminding me that said roof was covered in asphalt shingles. Asphalt tends to get hot. Heat fries tender roots in the blink of an eye. Thusly, I lost half my plants. Poof.

Another large chunk of my babies were lost in the moving process. It was very rainy in the couple of weeks after we moved, and I didn't dare transplant them in the pouring rain because they would surely have been broken. Well, I might as well have tried, because I was so busy with the moving and shuttling of kids to various schools that they didn't really get enough attention. Oops.

Another small chuck was lost immediately after planting. I don't know if the soil was inhospitable, the plants too tender, or what, but the rest of the corn and all the pumpkins went kaput within a week of being planted. (Yes, I did water them.) I planted more seeds, directly into the ground, but they didn't break through.

This has left me with about eight tomato plants, twelve peppers, some yellow and some purple beans, and some cukes. None are growing as they should, however. The only plants to bear anything at all are the beans, and that has been only enough to use them as more of a garnish atop a large bowl of salad, say five or six copped in half and sprinkled on just so I could see them there. All the plants are still alive and green, they're just not growing very quickly.

I think the problem is that they're not getting enough sun. There's a largish tree next to the garden that gives it shade until early afternoon, and I'm guessing that they need more than that? The thing is, though, that I'm willing to bet good money that if I chop the thing down (which I'm planning on doing as soon as it's cool enough that I can't FRY AN EGG on the sidewalk) all the plants will immediately expire from over-sunning.

My only other thought is that since I used all heirloom seeds (ones who have never been genetically tampered with, and can be traced back through the generations as organic, etc), maybe they're a lot more finicky than the catalogues wanted to admit? I bought them after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, which was an amazing, life-changing book for me, and she got a lot of her seeds from some of the companies I ordered from. However, maybe completely organic seeds are not what the fledgling gardener needs. Maybe I need supercharged, amazon seeds to bolster my sad, crop-starved ego for a few years before I try the do-it-yourself needy seeds.

I'm trying to tell myself that as long as I can keep everything green (everything that I have left, that is) for the remainder of the season, I will count this first mishap-laden year as a success, and when I turn it all under in the fall and prep the soil for next year, I will be happy to have at least improved the soil with all the peat moss, mulch, and organic materials I've poured into it. Since our state has more clay than an adobe house, it's not the easiest stuff to work with.

My flower garden, however, is doing fabulously. All the 'dead' plants that I got from Lowe's on their '$.10 Or Best Offer' rack have come back with my hovering and are thriving. I love them. Except my hateful hanging plants. The front porch gets full sun until early afternoon, and the side gets it all day, so they're pretty much crackling.

So, maybe this is my problem; I can only succeed with trailer-park crops, the ones no one wants, that are happy to see ANYONE with a watering can coming along to rescue them. Maybe my organic seeds were too bourgeois for me, and they are showing their petulent insultedness by growing backwards or something. 'Zat, zat WOMAN, shee ees do you say... COMMON for we purebred seeds. Wee will grow back into zee EARTH rather zan offer her our succulent fruits. Wee spit upon her and her pathetic rain barrels. Ptooey!'

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

So Much For NaBloPoMo!

Howdy, Stranger!

Oh, wait, that's me. I'm the one that's been the stranger lately. Sorry 'bout that!

It's not that I don't love you, my blogfriends. I have been, shall we say, indisposed. Kaput. Zonked. Stoned. (and not in a good way, either!)

So, it turns out that my idiot doctor has been wrong ALL YEAR, and I do NOT have a hiatal hernia; I have gallstones! Big ones! HELLO!

The fun started on July 4th, after a cheeseburger and a hotdog. The familiar pain in my back, the inability to lie down, the sleeplessness, yes, the whole shebang. Except this time, it didn't go away after two hours, or even two DAYS. Every time I started to feel better and tried to drink some water or have a few crackers, the pain would come back worse than ever. It was so bad I actually took some codeine I had left over from some surgery I had done on my hand awhile ago, which helped me at least get some sleep for awhile. By Monday afternoon, the pain was so intense that I left the kids with a neighbor friend of mine, who then left the kids with her husband who works from home and drove me to the ER because I was having problems breathing. The intake people were very nice, and took some blood right away, but sent me back out to the waiting area because they were swamped.

After about a half hour, I felt a POP! and knew that it was over. This has happened to me repeatedly, so I knew that things would change within minutes, which they did. I assumed that this was my hiatal hernia popping back into place. A little while later, DH showed up (the wonderful man had left work before I even told him I was going to the ER because when we had spoken earlier he could tell that I was bad off - you gotta love a man who comes home to help a woman who spent an entire conversation being witchy - and when I called to tell him where I had gone he was already halfway there), and I told him that I was feeling better and just wanted to go home and sleep, since the wait was going to be another two hours at best. DH agreed, and went to tell the nurses at the intakae area that we were leaving. A minute later, a nurse came running out to tell me that I couldn't leave, because my blood tests had shown that my 'levels' were very high, and they wanted to admit me.

(mental note - threatening to leave an ER gets you immediate medical attention if it's truly necessary)

It turned out that the levels of my hormones, etc, that they were testing were for my pancreas, and they were all supposed to be in the 50s. Mine were 250, 250, 500, and 2000. That's a big problem, apparently, because there were all sorts of people coming to talk to me, many of them asking whether I'd been on a binge the night before!!!! (Apparently, binge drinking screws up your pancreas, too.) I told them that no, although I'm sure alcohol might have dulled my pain had I thought of it, I had not been drinking. So, they wheeled me off lickety-split to a CAT scan, where they saw no stones but a gall bladder and pancreas that were all swollen. They then told me that I would be staying awhile.

Since typically you hear more and more about hospitals kicking people out ten minutes after a transplant, hearing that I needed to stay, and for DAYS, was unsettling. But, I was so happy to hear that someone was actually taking me seriously, and that there was medical PROOF that I wasn't whining about indigestion, that I really didn't care. Plus, I hadn't eaten, drank, or slept in four days, so I wasn't really all that with it, anyway.

My doctor came in, the one who has misdiagnosed me for a year, and, I sh**t you not, asked me why I was there, did I have a hernia, had I been taking any medication for said hernia, and had it been helping at all? !!!!!!!!!!! I told him, not terribly politely, that I had been having symptoms for a year, I was taking the prevacid HE PRESCRIBED ME for a year for the hernia HE TOLD ME I HAD, and that since I was in the hospital, it was apparently not helping. He then told me (this is my favorite part) that he was 'just trying to remember'. What a DILLHOLE.

The next afternoon I had an MRI, which showed that indeed I still had two stones in my bile ducts, and that from the swelling I had probably passed a very large one the day before after having it stuck in there for the weekend. After that, I finally got to eat and drink. I'm telling you, beef broth tastes AMAZING after having nothing pass your palate for five days.

Once I got home on Wed afternoon, I of course got online and looked up pancreatitis, and gall bladder attack, and found out all sorts of things, like every symptom I have ever had was conveniently listed on every page on the internet that has anything to do with gall bladders. Also, since gall stones cause pancreatitis (the bile ducts pass directly over the pancreas), my pancreas has been suffering all this time as well. Had I not gone to the ER, the amount of duress my pancreas was under could have caused permanent damage. You cannot live efficiently without a pancreas, because it produces insulin, and the less pain you are in, the worse off you are, because as the pancreas dies, its nerves die too, I guess. Essentially, if I had not gone to the ER, I could have died. That was why they were all so freaked that I wasn't in any pain by the time I got brought back. Not to mention the amount of dehydration I had - my pee was literally the color of burnt sienna. So, my idiot doctor and his non-listening-ness and pooh-poohing-ness could have eventually cost me my life. Once you get to the point of having pancreatitis, you can't really cure it on your own at home, because you have to completely rest your system (thus the no food or water) and if you do that on your own, you will get too dehydrated; also, it will come back every time you have a gall bladder problem from that point on.

I met with a surgeon today, and will be having my gb out on Aug 27th. They could have done it sooner, but I wanted to wait until the kids are in school. There's no way I can be out of commission like that during the summer - it will take me about a week to feel like a person, and I don't know when I'll feel like driving. Plus, there would probably be so swimming or day trips, I'm guessing. This way, they will be gone all day and I will be able to rest, plus DH will take off that Wed, Th and Fri, meaning since it's Labor Day weekend I won't be alone until the following Tuesday.

Needless to say, once this is over, I will have a new doctor. The only reason I'm not changing now is because I'm afraid it will mess up my insurance to do so, and he won't have anything to do with my care from this point on anyway, since I'm seeing a specialist now (which he told me a couple of months ago I didn't need to do, when I asked for a referral). My friend Jessica told me that I should report him to the state board of licensing, which I think I might just do once this is all over. I can understand making the more banal diagnosis at first, in the name of if-you-hear-hoofbeats-it's-probably-not-a-zebra, but nothing was improving, and I even asked to see a specialist and he told me no, there's really no excuse.

Anyway, I feel OK now, and as long as I stay away from heavy meat products, which I don't eat often anyway (otherwise this would be more than an every-few-months kind of thing), I should be fine until next month. Now that I actually know what to avoid, I can do myself some good, and stop taking the medication I've been on for GERD and stop worrying about caffeine, spicy foods, and trying to sleep upright, which has been killing my back. I can't believe that I've been taking this medication for a YEAR, when I never needed it at all.

In the end, I'm actually grateful that this episode happened, because now I know what it is, and best of all, it can be cured, unlike a hiatal hernia. After August, I should never, ever feel that way again. And that feels GREAT.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

In The Hospital

Hi Everyone - Melissa asked me to post here and let you all know that she's been in the hospital for a few days with gall bladder problems. She'll be home later today - DH.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Oh, I know - how rude, right?! To link you here, and then be GONE! Oh, the horror. :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


What a few weeks this has been!!! I keep wanting to sit down and write, but I've been going non-stop for what seems like forever. The past week has been completely devoured by my responsibility for decorating our entire church for vacation bible school. We are borrowing a lot of decorations from another church up the road, which is great, but I wasn't able to get them or even see them until last Friday, which *wasn't* great, because I couldn't do a lot of planning or working on things that we'd need that they didn't have until this past weekend. It's a huge job, because there are five classrooms that need to be done in their own theme (since the over-arching theme of the week is an amusement park, the rooms are wild west world, outer space race, doubloon lagoon, storyland castle, and the carousel), plus both the downstairs and upstairs hallways and the large entryway room. PHEW! I've been there every day this week for at least a few hours, and will definitely be there tonight and tomorrow as well. I'm trying not to think too hard about how few people have shown up to help out. Three people have come so far, one woman every afternoon and two other people once each. Since about 125 kids usually come, you'd think people would be more inclined to help, but it seems like it's the same few families you always see whenever there's volunteer work to be done. I'm having fun with all the themes, though, and it's going to be finished in time, which is the important part. We've even got some cool K'Nex sets up in the entryway to support the carnival theme! AC Moore was having a 1/2 price sale on the kits, so I got the Hometown Carnival set and the giant swing ride.

Otherwise, things are going really well. The kids are getting along a lot better so far, probably partly because they haven't seen a whole lot of each other since they went to camp one week after the other. Also, Josie is a lot more interested in being on her own in her room in the last few months (FINALLY), so she's not hanging around downstairs where Patrick usually is.

I've also started a walking program in the morning for the dogs. First thing when I get up, I get the kids together (they're usually up before I am) and we all walk down to the local fairgrounds, which is a huge park with several playing fields, street hockey rink and a surrounding pathway. It used to be a horseracing arena back in the day. Anyway, the back entrance is about four blocks from the house, so we all head down there and once we get there, I get out the extendible leashes and let the kids run around the fields with the dogs. It's helping Baci's freakiness issues a lot, and I know it's great for all of us, too.

I'm looking forward to Sunday, when the decorating will be done and the kids will be at VBS every evening from 6-8 through Thursday. It will be the first time all summer when there will be a week where we don't have to be anywhere at any particular time, and I won't be worrying about when and how I'm going to get everyone done.