Thursday, September 30, 2010

Code Red

This afternoon I was working away on the computer when I heard the overhead speaker call a Code Red on the building adjacent to where I work. I jumped up, grabbed our fire extinguisher, and ran over there. Got around the corner to see the rent-a-cop sitting at a table doing paperwork.

Me: This was a drill?!

Him: Yeah. (glad I came so they could fill a blank that someone showed up)

Me: Then why didn’t you say DRILL? I wouldn’t have lugged the extinguisher over here if I knew it was a drill.

Him: (old guy – not paying attention) (has me sign the form that I showed up)

Me: Do I at least get a sticker for it?

Him: Honey, you know I don’t have any money to give you.

About this time there are people carrying their purses coming out from the stairwell. They stop and look at me and say, “It’s just a drill? You should have said that.” (as if I had something to do with any of this) I told them I didn’t know anything about it and pointed to the extinguisher that I brought with me.

That’s when the rent-a-cop looked up and said, “She didn’t say DRILL?”

The valet guys laughed at me when I walked back by them. They asked me what I thought I was going to do. I told them I was going to put out the fire. I think they would've laughed if I wasn't so serious when I told them what I was going to do. Then I asked if they'd used one before, raising the extinguisher. They hadn't.

I was shocked. I thought everybody has used an extinguisher before. We had to do it in high school Chemistry; it was a requirement. The local fire station built a 4x4 fire pit in the front yard of the school, lit fires, and we took turns with an extinguisher putting it out. It took the scary out of what really isn't a big deal.

I don't usually go to the drills. When I was a CNA I went to all of the Code Red calls because I was the only one who could run with the extinguisher. But I've not even thought about grabbing the extinguisher since then - but, then again, I've not been around anywhere they've called a Code Red either.

Is this just me? Have any of you pulled the pin and aimed for the base of the fire? Was it not a requirement for anybody else?

I went back to work, but wasn't nearly as productive as I was before I was interrupted.I was going to save the world, but I didn’t even get to pull the pin out of the extinguisher. My superhero skills will have to be used another day.

And now I'm worried that I'm going to have to build my own fire for Baby when she's in high school so she can learn the PASS acronym and grow up to save the world from fire drills, too.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

0.11 mR/hr

This is a Geiger counter. It has a little wand attachment that you can use to wave against things that are radioactive to measure the activity. This isn't exactly the picture I wanted to get, but when I picked it up and it started beeping I wish I'd gotten a picture of the physicist's face who was sitting next to me. He about came unglued, "That's not supposed to beep!"

I explained that I'd intentionally been exposed to I-123 the day before for a scan. Then he got super excited and wanted to help me calculate exactly how radioactive I was. I just wanted a picture of the screen with the needle, but he was insistent that we also show the knob because that's the number you need to do the math. So here you go... and the answer is the title of this post.

Then I asked how much radiation a person would have to be exposed to in order for them to glean superpowers. I love this physicist. He's a nice guy and can explain things to me in a way that I understand them... but he's not from this country. He looked at me, "Super? Powers?"

me: Yeah, you know, like Spiderman got his powers from being bitten by a spider. The Hulk got his powers from radiation exposure. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles got their powers from walking through radioactive waste. How much exposure do I need to get some super powers? Is it cumulative?
him: Oh, no. It's not cumulative.
me: So you're saying that super powers are based on a one-time exposure and not lifetime cumulation?
him: It's not cumulative.
me: So you're saying that my chances of getting super powers out of all of this is not likely at all.
him: No. Not likely.

I told him he broke my heart, that I was counting on telekinesis.
I think he had no idea what I was talking about.

And then about three hours later I received fantastic news... my Tg is down from last year and my scan only showed normal uptake. No 2nd opinions or surgeries are needed at this time. I'll continue my 3 month follow-ups and we'll do our yearly rigamaroll of labs and scans again next fall.

Thanks to everybody for their well wishes, prayers and good vibrations. It all helps.

The Hater and I are doing the happy dance. We're going to have ice cream later to celebrate.

After we came home I told Baby the good news. She was so excited that she pooped all over herself. Two blowouts in less than twenty minutes.

We live a most blessed life indeed.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

check your neck

This morning I dropped my drawers for shot #2 of Thyrogen. (Shot #1 was yesterday.) I always tell the guy that I wore my sexy panties for him, although there's nothing especially sexy about them. We always laugh, and he always tells me that if I were anybody else he'd get one of the women in the department to give it to me. We don't actually say the c-word, but we both know why I'm there.

This afternoon I swallowed 5 pills with about three sips of water. The pills were 1.5 mci of a radioactive isotope that goes by the name of I-123. The purpose of these pills are to get sucked into any remaining cancer tissue, so that when we do the scan tomorrow those cells will glow.

Before I took these pills I had my blood drawn, one tube looking for my Thyroglobulin level, which is basically my tumor marker. It was an exceptionally good stick today.

The best case scenario is the Thyroglobulin level being under zero and nothing on the scan. The next best scenario is at least the same level as last year and no new places of uptake on the scan.

The scan is tomorrow morning. Not sure when I'll know any results - either of that or of the tumor marker.

Last week was my panic. Over the weekend I actually forgot about it. This week I'm just going through the motions, but I'm not anxious. Acutally, the shots have made me tired. Too tired to even play Halo: Reach and get aliens.

So before I konk out and dream of nil Thyroglobulin levels let me take this time to remind you what I remind you of every September: this is thyroid cancer awareness month. Do yourself a favor - the next time you're at your doctor's office ask them to "check your neck". It's really as easy as them touching your neck while you swallow.

It can save your life.

And while you're at it, try really hart not to get cancer because (in the words of my esteemed college roommate) it sucks donkey balls.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Here it is officially fall and our yard is finally greening up. With the grass has come dandelions and other such exciting weeds. Baby had a total blast running around and pointing at all of them, followed by picking one, shoving it up her nose and saying "Mell Good!". I know where she learned to pick flowers, but I'm not sure where she learned to smell them.

It was about 90 degrees outside, windy and overcast - about the prettiest it's been in a really long time. The Hater is home this weekend and we just can't decide where we want to go this weekend between the storms. Hopefully it'll be nice enough for us to get all kinds of fun exciting things done.

Baby gets so upset when it's time to come inside. To hear her you'd think she was being beaten.
Tomorrow she'll be 18 months old. How times flies when you're having fun.

Friday, September 17, 2010

tomorrow's dessert

Found some pretty strawberries at the grocery today. Got them sliced and oozing with splenda in the fridge. We'll have that over some vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce for dessert tomorrow night. Yummy.

Now that's done I'm working on catching up with my blogging AND watching Project Runway. It's one of my guilty pleasures. (The best line from this week: "Jackie Kennedy would not have camel-toe." No, she wouldn't. I doubt that John would've been into that.) Top Chef is my most favorite all-time tv show. My Sister got me watching PR, and we email each other every week to critique and share opinions about it. ... And I like Vampire Diaries. It's totally fun - I've always liked the bad brother better than the safe brother. I'm going to try to get The Hater to watch it with me this fall when it starts back (but he'll never admit it if he watches it with me).

Question number two - because this is my random post where I'm answering questions that other people have asked me... If I could go to any celebrity's wedding I have no idea whose I'd want to see. I'm not good at movie star's real names or social lives. I'd want to go to one of those weddings that are at a beautiful destination where they fly their guests there to stay with them for a week before the ceremony, then wine and dine and entertain them that whole week. Maybe somewhere on a beautiful beach or a snow-capped mountain. And I want them to invite stars that I know so we can hang out on the beach or on the thing you ride up the mountain when you ski back down (the lift?). I want it to be a beautiful storybook ceremony (with childcare provided), and a crazy awesome reception.

Question three... So far in my life, what have I done that I'm most proud of... This is tough... The other day when I wrote about musicals I was reminded of the semester that I did Godspell -- because I also took 22 hours and made the Dean's List. That was hard core. I'm also proud of my first semester after I finished my ed degree where I took 21 hours of all sciences. Holy Catfish that was hard. Those were my two single hardest semesters... But even considering that, so far as schoolin' goes I'm most proud that I made it through nursing school, passed my NCLEX on the first try, and am now a RN. (I spent many tearful nights over hot mugs of chamomile and st. john's wort teas, doubly brewed, wondering if I could do that). I'm also proud of all the volunteer work I've done and look forward to Baby being big enough to go to projects with me.

Question four... I think the greatest invention that's come about in my lifetime has to be the internet. Nannotechnology is super cool, too. And cell phones. (Prozac, invitro fertilization, heart stents, robotic heart surgeries, pathology stains, IMRT, CT scans, and all the new chemotherapy regimes they've come up with.). But probably the greatest invention is the WNBA... just kidding. :)

Question cinq... At this point in my life if I could speak any language fluently I'd want to speak Spanish because it would be really helpful for my job. An unpractical language choice would probably be Japanese so I could watch those scary movies without the subtitles.

Question six... Is it better to be smart or satisfied? That's a trick question. If you're smart, you know that there's more to life than to be satisfied. If you're satisfied, who cares if you're smart. I think I'd rather be smart because if I were satisfied there'd be no reason to keep learning, to try to do or be better, no challenge.

Question sept... How far would I travel for a really good meal, one I couldn't get easily... On really hard days when The Hater tells me he'll go get me supper from anywhere I want I always ask him to get me Rick's BBQ in LBG. But 12 hours really is too far to go for the best pulled pork sandwich on earth. The problem with being in the city is really you don't have to go that far to get anything. Before Baby came we made a few day trips for certain meals, but our anti-traveller has kept us questioning even a 20 minute drive from home. So I'll have to say the most we've done is 2 hours, but you really have to KNOW that it's worth it or you spend the 2h drive back just being flat disappointed.

Question huit... Should Han Solo have shot first? Absolutely. It was the original - Lucas should've known better to change that part. Give me a break.

Tomorrow's plan includes a trip to the zoo and TN football. Life is good.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I took baby with me to a graveside service this morning. This was after I called three people to make sure it wouldn't be obnoxious if she came with me.

I've been to several funerals and graveside services since I've been in OK. They're very different from funerals I've been to in TN, where I've been to probably more than a hundred funerals/services. I don't know if it's actually cultural differences or if it's the natural evolution these social events.

On my way back home I called Mom and asked her if she'd noticed some of these changes. My mother, bless her heart, frequently inhabits LaLa Land. But she did suggest, "Well, you know, you are from the Bible belt. It's different here."

This amuses me because OK thinks they are the Bible belt, too. So does KS. And WV. And probably every other state that has a rural area with an active church.

Claiming to be the from the "buckle of the Bible Belt" just doesn't have the same ring to it when you move somewhere and they're quick to tell you that, no, they had that imaginary designation.

But these are just observations, not really the story I wanted to tell. (However, if you, too, have noticed an evolution of funeral services, please let me know that I'm not going crazy.)

The service lasted a little over an hour. I wasn't really prepared to entertain Baby in my arms for that long. I took my sling and she was content to pull four plastic bead necklaces out of her little black purse, put them on, take them off, put them back in the purse, and repeat for what had to be 25 minutes. After that point she was done being held. I opened up my bag and gave her a snack, but she was ready to get down and run.

I pulled my baby leash out of the bag and strapped her in. We walked around behind the service (so not to be that much more of a distraction). I was secretly proud that she didn't want to pick all of the plastic flowers from the vases on the flat-to-the-ground headstones. Although I would have argued that she would've gotten more enjoyment out of plastic flowers than, say, dead people; we didn't have to have the "no, honey, that is disrespectful" conversation. She was content to walk around and dust off the leaves and dirt from the headstones.

About 25 yards away from where they were burying my friend's Dad there was a little white Mary statue. Baby saw it and led me over there. She was babbling and picking up leaves and doing her own thing. I was paying halfway attention and also reflecting on cultural differences and similarities in burying the people we love.

About that time we were over at the statue. She stopped and looked up at me. I looked at her. She said, "Babies?"

I looked down. She was right.

We were standing next to the statue of Mary, who was overlooking more than twenty infant graves.

"Yes, honey. These are the babies."

And she continued to play and dust their headstones from leaves and dirt.

This really jerked me out of my daydreams. How had she known? Although I'd like to think that she's brilliant and was doing the math on the headstones, I know that's not the case. I also know that there's no explanation. She just knew.

Like all things with a toddler - we moved on to play with something else, to walk in a different part of the cemetery. But several times in the next thirty minutes she'd look over to that area and point, "Babies?"

My boss and I carpooled to the service. After it was over I told her about the babies and she went pale and got big eyes, then changed the subject. I tried to bring it up again, but she didn't want to talk about it.

There were other infants buried in the cemetery - scattered in with everybody else. She didn't say anything else in particular about those graves. But she knew when they were all together.

That's my different and strange story for the day.

Friday, September 10, 2010

perpetual it

I was always one of the slow kids, which made me a prime target for being "it" when we played tag. I was tagged because I was easily caught. And it always gagged me when the fast kids would pretend to be slow so you could catch them, but then as your outstretched hand came within millimeters from touching their jacket they'd throw into high gear and run away, laughing over their shoulder. Leaving you standing there, still it, realizing that you were always going to be it because you would never catch anybody.

Oh, yeah, I've got great memories of playing tag...

But blog-tag is different because it's not about escape. With that said, I have been tagged and nobody is saying "it's okay, you can catch me" or "nyah-nyah-nuh-na'nyah". Kelly over atNeffajawea has tagged me with a fabulous four-question game.

The instructions are simple. I answer her questions, then make up four of my own. Tag other people. Don't tease them if they're slow.

Okay, I made up that last part. But, really, it's not nice to tease the slow kid who is habitually itjust because she can't run.

I: Do you like musicals?
Oh, yes, I heart me some musicals. In fact, I wonder if my husband put you up to asking me that particular question. We will celebrate our 11th date-a-versary this October, and he has endured many many hours of me singing show tunes followed by asking him which musical it came from. But, you know, he's gotten REALLY GOOD at naming them after all this time!

When I was very young my parents would play The Music Man on record and my sister and I would dance around and sing with it. That was before I saw it on VHS. It (and, yes, I mean the original 1957 version) will always be one of my favorites. In fact, many times when I change Baby's stinky diapers I sing "Shipoopi".

Every morning when I get her out of her crib I sing, "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" (Oklahoma!). We also sing "Hair" when I fix hers in the morning (Hair). Many times we sing "I Feel Pretty" (West Side Story) while getting dressed. At least three times a week she hears "I'll Cover You" (Rent) between at least a thousand kisses on her face and tummy.

We do lots of "The Sound of Music", too. From "How do you solve a problem like Maria..." to "Doe, a deer, a female deer"... to "I am sixteen going on seventeen"... and "These are a few of my favorite things..." (but never "The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music" because that one always sounds pretentious...)

A "Sound of Music" aside: when I was little we'd watch this one every time it came on tv. After the big wedding scene there was always a commercial break and Mom would turn off the tv and tell us it was over and time for bed. Imagine my surprise when I was watching it in college with my roommate when I turned off the tv and said, "ok, now what do you want to do?" only to find out that the movie wasn't even close to over yet! And, what's worse, there were bad Nazis!! Talk about being embarrassed. I have a friend now who thinks it's the funniest story that I didn't know there was a whole political subplot to the movie until I was twenty.

I have "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and was actually thinking about that one this week because it's almost time to get it out and make The Hater watch it again with me! I love the concept of a crossover cartoon musical. If someone would come up with a horror zombie movie musical I'd have to own it, even if it was terrible.

Mom took me to see "The King and I" in Nashville when I was little. My favorites from that one are "Getting to Know You" and "Shall we Dance?"

I consider "Mary Poppins" to be a musical - and one of my favorites, too. "Let's Go Fly a Kite", "Just a Spoonful of Sugar", "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"...

My college roommate and I used to always watch "Little Shop of Horrors". She was a soprano and I sang alto - so we'd go through the whole musical and she'd sing the high parts and I'd sing the low parts. We even went to an open mic night on campus and sang "Suddenly Seymour" (She sang the Audrey part and I sang the Seymour part.).

"My Fair Lady" is one of my favorites, too. In high school I got made fun of for knowing the songs in this one. A lot of the guys called me Eliza because they were douche bags. At the time it really bothered me, but now I only wish someone would say, hey, you look a little like Audrey Hepburn. Or, even better, you sing like her!

I also love "Gee Officer Krupke" from "West Side Story". It cracks me up. The choreography is just fantastic for that song.

And it wouldn't be a good overview of musicals if I didn't at least give a hat tip to "MoulinRouge", which really had to grow on me because I didn't like at first, and the "Chicago" remake. Both are great, but don't really lend to singing to a toddler.

Oh! I almost forgot! I sang in "Godspell" in college! I sing her songs from that one at least two mornings a week on the drive to day care - usually "Save the People", "Day by Day", "Light of the World" or "We Beseech Thee". (In fact, my VHS of the performance was about to die so The Hater took it to be converted to DVD for me last year because he's the greatest husband in all the land.)

So, in short, yes, I like musicals. They're almost all my favorites.

II: Have you ever been thrown a surprise party?
No. At least not that I remember. If I was thrown one I apologize profusely, but have no memory of being surprised. :)

III: What is the WORST thing you've ever done?
This morning I turned right on red at a place where there was a sign that said I shouldn't do that! I'm such a rebel.

IV: What is your dream vacation?
I used to think I wanted to go to Greece. Don't get me wrong - I still think that'd be awesome. But it'd be even better if it were a stop along the way to going to all kinds of faraway places. I'd like to see it all - and not just the typical tourist stops - on the perfect vacation I'd see countries and cultures all over the world. I want to eat in their dives and worship in their churches. I want to play with their kids and hear their stories.

I want to go to a really old city and touch buildings that are older than our country. I want to feel the masonry and let it whisper to me its secrets. I know - nerd alert - but I would totally geek out if I could hold a book that was bound thousands of years ago. I'd follow all the rules and wear the gloves and not even breathe on it and treat it with the utmost respect and gentleness as if it were a sickly preemie. But I want to hold that book and at least turn one of its pages.

I don't want to run with the bulls or climb tall mountains or swim in specific bodies of water. I don't really want to see a specific event.

I'd just like to experience their cultures.

But that's the once-upon-a-time-in-a-land-far-far-away dream... my more realistic dream is to be able to take some time off and go to Glacier National Park with my husband and my daughter. I went there briefly for an afternoon in college when I was at a research conference in Montana. I can't begin to tell you how beautiful it was - Lake McDonald is the most beautiful body of water I have ever seen. I'd like to take some time and really enjoy the park.

My Four Questions
A. Tell me a story about a vivid memory you have when you were in the third grade.
B. If you could go back in time and visit the you who was a senior in high school the night of your graduation, what would you tell them? Would you give them any advice?
C. If you could go back in time and have a drink with any person in history, who would you visit and what would you drink? (If you choose a Biblical person that's fine, but you also have to answer with a nonBiblical person, too.)
D. What children's book would you say best describes your personality? Why?

Consider Yourself Tagged by the Slow Girl
1. Jane over at Greetings from Kentucky
2. Kelly over at Neffajawea (because you didn't say "no tag-backs")
3. Ely over at Ely Here and There
4. both Bills from Bills Stuff and My Journal
5. Whomever would like to be tagged because I don't want to leave anybody out.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

traveling with a toddler: lessons learned

Four days. Two states away. One seventeen month old toddler.

This is what I should've known:
  • I am of a new generation that doesn't need a wristwatch because I use my cell phone as a watch. If you're going to be traveling by air, it behooves you to go buy a cheap wristwatch. When you're on the airplane you have to totally power off your phone - meaning you are blind with your time perception. This makes an hour flight feel like it takes six times as long.
  • Pack lots of entertainment, but know that the magic of the airplane and airport will provide lots of entertainment and you probably won't use all of what you take with you. I didn't use half of the goodies I packed, but I was glad that I had them. (This includes both snacks and toys.)
  • Spring for the extra seat. The two flights we took to our destination had empty seats and I was able to sit her next to me. This was fantastic, wonderful, magical... but on the way back she ended up in my lap. It wasn't a pretty sight. I think it would've been easily managed if she was still little - not sitting on her own yet - where being held is always a happy place. But with the toddler - uh, no - bad idea. I'd read that other people suggested getting their own seat, but I was sure that wasn't the best idea. I was wrong. Don't make my mistake.
  • If you have a toddler, invest in a kid leash. (especially if you have a lengthy layover) It was nice being able to let her think she was running around, but having some control over where she went. It was a great way to let her burn some energy.
  • Once you arrive at your final destination, don't plan on being busy the whole time. Seriously plan for down time. I messed up with this and paid for it the last day when she screamed and was on my hip most of the day. We will do better for our traveling at Xmas. This will most likely make the people you're visiting frustrated, but their frustrations will be much easier to deal with than toddler frustrations that are exhibited by tired tantrums and the refusal to go to anybody but Mama.
  • Expect changes in the sleep routine. This is different, and for a toddler who is tired, different is scary. Expect it to take much longer to put them down, expect them to wake up multiple times in the night, expect them to wake up earlier, expect them not to nap as well. Even if your angel is a pristine sleeper... Expect the worst so you won't be disappointed if it's bad and you can be pleasantly surprised if your little darling adjusts quickly.
  • Take and plan for healthy meals and snacks so you don't fall into the vacation trap of eating junk. Just because baby's not had Aunt Mildred's pie doesn't mean she needs Aunt Mildred's pie. Even if Aunt Mildred pouts. Try to stick to what routine you had at home so far as treats go.
  • Routine. Routine routine routine. Routine is crack to a baby - take it away from them and they get the shakes and go into withdrawal. If you have them on a routine, do everything you can to keep them on the routine. Don't budge on bedtime or mealtimes.
We had a good visit. She did great, except for the last day. The last day put the terrible in doosey.

I've not recovered from my trip yet and am already daydreaming about my naps this upcoming weekend. And my neck and back are caddywompus from lugging 28 pounds of Baby on my hip throughout the Houston airport yesterday for several hours (which is NOT kid friendly, BTW).

As long as I'm talking about airports, the Nashville airport had a kid play area - one of those petri dishes with foam toys that they can climb and slide off of on top of a padded floor. It was fabulous. Also, the Kansas City airport, although bad, is much better than it used to be. They have tvs and a snack area now. You still have to leave and come back through security to use the restroom, but you can at least sit down in a padded chair and get something to drink.

This has been a Mommy PSA.