Friday, November 29, 2013

What's in a name, anyway?

As I sit here, watching White Christmas, I am reminded of Betty and Judy Haynes.

The kittens. Not the fictional sisters from the movie.

That's right. We had cats named Betty and Judy Haynes. (They were sisters. As in, literal sisters (get it?) in the same litter of kittens and we ended up keeping them.)

Who names their pets after Christmas movie characters? We do!

Other crazy pet names: Arizona (though we didn't actually name him that, we inherited him from a couple hippies and he was already christened) Josephina (originally named Jose, but then he turned up pregnant and we had to rename her to something gender-appropriate). And who could forget *Beavis and Not-Beavis? 

*Beavis and Not-Beavis were not actually OUR pets. (As you may have guessed.) Judy did not like any kind of strong language, esp the kind of strong language that would be implied by naming one cat Beavis and the other one... something other than Beavis, that also started with a B. (Children of the 90's, you get the reference, I am sure.) Beavis and Not-Beavis liked the eats better at our house, so they moved in when they were teenager-cats. I'm pretty sure Not-Beavis had a litter of kittens at the same time as Kitty and Josephina. ... As I recall, there were 17 kittens living on our patio that summer. (No wonder Josephina was always trying to find a way into the house, stooping so low as to rip a hole in the screen and try to smuggle her young in through the window in the family room. Too bad we typically kept that actual window closed and she'd invariably get stuck between the screen and the glass, howling through her mouth full of kitten, begging to be let in. To no avail. Poor sap.) 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving, ya'll!

On this day, I am (once again) overwhelmed with how very many blessings, how very much LOVE, I have in my life. Thank you. Thank you, all. For everything.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Testing positive

So, I heard from my doctor's office with the results on Henry. She said, and I quote, "We received your results. You test positive for a hernia."

Something about the way that news was delivered makes me laugh out loud. Who'd have ever thought one could "test positive" for a hernia? I love it!

Now, her original advice was to get the ultrasound done and then make an appointment with a general surgeon. That wouldn't be a problem, per se. I happen to have a general surgeon (the one she suggested, lo those many years ago when Darth Vader was discovered), but with it being this close to my PET... well, I'd rather wait and get the opinions of my swell docs at MD Anderson before I go scheduling any consults with other surgeons. So, I did what any self-respecting patient with an entire battery of doctors at her disposal... and I asked both SMIL and the doctor's office to send copies of the ultrasound to my beloved.

And then I scripted the following email to let him know it was coming:

Dear Dr. H,

I just wanted to give you a heads up that you should be getting a special delivery from SMIL this week. I'd had a cough for, oh... like a month (read: too dang long), so I went to my primary care doctor a couple weeks ago and walked out with both a prescription for a Z-pack and an order for an abdominal ultrasound. (I was pretty sure I was developing a hernia before I started coughing in October. But the coughing made it worse. So (SO!) much worse.)

I had an ultrasound last Thursday, and had a call from my doctor's office to confirm I am "positive for a hernia" on Friday afternoon.

My doc is advising that I contact a general surgeon and schedule a consult for surgery to correct the hernia. Before I call my old general surgeon (love Dr. Hyde like I do), I would rather wait for the results of my PET scan, to make sure there's nothing else going on. I figure, if I need anything more than hernia repair, Gimbel is my man. (Also, since he is the last doc who opened me up, I'm not about to schedule a surgery with anyone else without his go-ahead.)

Oh, and I like to email you. ;-)

You may receive duplicates, from both SMIL and Dr. Gibson's office. (Because I am the queen of overkill - you may have noticed - I asked both offices to forward them to you.) ... I just wanted to let you know that they were coming your way, and why.

I hope you have a perfectly lovely Thanksgiving holiday this week. I'll see you on Dec 6th.

- Laurie

You can imagine my surprise and delight to receive the following response from my beloved H this afternoon:

I am letting Dr Gimbel know about this

Lets wait to see what your PET shows

i will see you on the 6th

Happy Thanksgiving to you too


Did you see how he signed with his initials, instead of his whole (official) name? ... It's pretty intimate, right? ... Yeah, I thought so, too. (Esp since he took the time to spell out G's whole name.) I'm pretty sure we're getting serious.

Or he's trying to get me to break up with him, and that's why there's not one piece of punctuation in his entire email.

Tomato/tomahto. (He's gonna have to try harder than that if he wants to shake me. I happen to know that English is, like, his fifth language or something. If I'm gonna forgive anyone a lack of punctuation, it's gonna be H! Please.)

Friday, November 22, 2013

You mess with the bull, you get the horns.

Hands down, the best pet we ever had was Kitty. (Aka: Purrs and/or Mama Z)

She "followed" Tyler home from school when he was in kindergarten. (Like cats follow people, but whatever.) She was a big kitten - what my mom likes to call "a teenager cat" - when she came to us, and she stayed until she died. I don't remember how old she was, but she was oooooold. Like, toothless-wonder old. But she was sweet until the bitter end. We loved her. We ALL did.

This is a pic of Kitty that I snapped when I was in high school, I think, when she was in her prime.

She was a beautiful creature, wasn't she? So soft, so fluffy, so sweet. ... Unless you messed with her babies, and then she was a holy terror.

One fine summer day, the Curt brothers came to play, with their dog in tow. The pooch followed Jared into the backyard and onto the patio. Kitty had a relatively new litter of kittens in a box under the window, and she was lying in the box with her babies when the dog came snooping along.

Jared looked over at the animals and said, "Your cat better watch out". Kirk looked right back at him, and said (if I remember right), "I wouldn't worry about her."

Just about then, the dog got too close to the box, and Kitty came barreling out at him. She slashed him across his nose, and as he buckled and starting to cry, she launched herself onto his back and dug in for a long, hard, ride.

Poor Jared didn't know what to do, except cry "Get her off of him!". We all stood by and laughed as our fluffy little Kitty brought a Queensland Heeler to his knees.

I'm pretty sure that dog never came in our yard again. Jared did, sure. But not his dog. ... Still makes me laugh out loud.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


So, I got Henry's picture taken this morning. He's getting pretty big. The ultrasound tech talked me through what I was seeing on the screen (as much as she legally could, anyway... the true report has to come from the radiologist after looking at the films) and at the end she drew a line on the screen from one corner of Henry to the other.

Five centimeters, kids.

That's roughly as much as I lost of my diaphragm last summer. (Read: A lot. AKA: Henry's a growing boy.)

She wouldn't let me take any pics of the screen (you know I always want to do that), which was sort of a bummer. Hopefully, when my doctor gets the results and has me come in for the official lowdown, she'll let me snap some pics of m'boy.

Because my sweet doc is on a snail mail delivery system (why they don't email, I do not know), it'll take 3 days or so to get the results. ... Hopefully, by Wednesday of next week. We'll see.

In the meanwhile, I'll continue to lie down a lot. Because that doesn't hurt.

Interesting sidenote: I stood through the entire ultrasound. Crazy, right? I've never done THAT before! Also, I was on a total fast. No food or liquid for 6 hours prior to the ultrasound. I've always had to drink, like, two 32 oz sodas bottles of water prior to lying down on a bed while they pushed a rolly ball around on my tummy. It made sense, once she explained it to me (the hernia bulges more when I'm standing - when I lie down, it sort of disappears into the mass of squish that is my tummy - so she'd get better pics of the little dude if I was on my feet), but still... interesting, no?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Christmas PSA

Okay, so... I made an executive decision (not sure why I'm calling it that, since I live in a household of one, but whatever) regarding the purchasing of Christmas presents this year:

I'm not doing it.

You heard me. I'm not buying Christmas presents this year.

This is why:

1. I have no children to disappoint in the gift-giving department
2. I'm paying for an ultrasound tomorrow, and a PET scan in two weeks (the downside of not having had surgery in 2013 is that I have yet to meet my out-of-pocket maximum, so I'm still paying 10% on my scans)
3. I'm too tired to go shopping after work, and the crowds in the stores on the weekend make me nervous
4. All my siblings, cousins and friends are grown ups and will understand points 2 and 3

I may send cards, but that's a big, fat, maybe.

That is all. Just wanted to give everyone a heads up.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming/blog-stalking.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

I actually wrote a talk!

Sort of. (Not really.)

I can't remember if I talked about this on ye olde blog. ... I know I did on the facebook, but I can't remember if I ever mentioned it here. (Don't ever get old. Or, if you do, don't lose your memory like I have. It's not fun.) ... Anyway, I was asked to speak at the Single Adult 3rd Sunday fireside this month. (We all know that I am a public speaking junkie. We also know that I will NEVER pass up an opportunity to speak to a group of single adults, because I am what we in the industry like to call a "shameless self promoter". I will get the attention of a tall man just about any way I can, and if that means I need to get up and talk about my history with the cancer, then... so be it.) I had been asked to share some of my experience with the cancer, and speak with an overall theme of gratitude.

Check and check. Those are, pretty much, my favorite things to talk about. E-ver.

And I did something totally out of character and I wrote a talk. (Not really. More like, I made a list. Or, rather, a series of lists. We all know that I love to make lists!) First I gave some details with the initial diagnosis and the history of the surgeries... and then, in the last 15 minutes or so, I shared the following:

What I've lost:

- A kidney, my spleen, a foot of my colon and 5 cm of my diaphragm.
- My immune system.
- A ton of weight. (Most of which I've gained back, but whatever. I lost it at one point, so I'm counting it here.)
- The ability to digest bell peppers, onions, garlic and spaghetti sauce.
- The will to hold a grudge, and/or the desire throw a fit when things don't go the way I wanted them to.

What I've learned:

- Where the retroperitoneum is AND how to spell it.
- That having your spleen removed is a splenectomy, but having a kidney removed is a nephrectomy. (I'm not sure why this is. Neither Merriam-Webster nor can give me a satisfactory answer as to the etymology of the word "nephrectomy". Apparently, it started showing up in medical journals between 1875-1880, with no notes as to the actual origin of the word. ... Argh.)
- All manner of information on stool softeners and laxatives: which brands work best, and how often to take them (and in what combinations) to offset the effects of narcotics.
- How to walk again. Three times.
- That more people remember me, love me, and are genuinely interested in my life than I ever could have imagined.

What I know:

- The Lord has a plan, for all of us. He has a great, wide, plan for all of His children, sure. But He also knows us as individuals, and has a specific plan that was custom-made for each one of us, to get us where He wants us to be.
- Me getting cancer, three times, was part of the plan. I know this, because with each successive diagnosis, I was changed. There were things I learned the first time around that blew my freaking mind: not the least of which is I learned what my body could go through, and still come out okay. (Not awesome, but okay.) With my second tumor, I gained a whole new appreciation for the blessings of the priesthood my life. That second round clarified how important the gospel is to me, how important family relationships and friendship really are, and it helped me learn not to take my life - or anyone in it - for granted.  And the third time around... well, there aren't words (and there isn't time) to go into everything I learned that time, so I'll narrow it down to my three biggest lessons learned in the calendar year of 2012: Love is the most powerful force on earth, prayer is real, and miracles happen.
- I know the Lord loves me. I know that He is aware of what happens in my life. I know that, even when (especially when) things are really hard, He takes care of me. I know that He has placed people in my sphere who bless and enrich my life in ways that I cannot begin to number.
- Again, I know the Lord has a plan. For each of us, He has a plan. And the cancer was part of His plan for my life. I know that. I know it as sure as I know that 1/3 of the hairs on my head are grey because of said cancer. Why I had to get sick, I may never know, but what I do know is that I would never give it back. The sleepless nights, the fear, the anxiety, the pain that I cannot begin to describe, the nerve damage and the scar tissue and the knowledge that I'll have scans for the rest of my life... I wouldn't give any of that back, because while cancer was really (REALLY) hard, it was also incredibly awesome, because it taught me about faith and life and love.
- And the most incredible thing about knowing that the Lord knows me, loves me, and has a plan for me is knowing that He also knows, loves, and has a plan for every other single person on the planet.

I testify that there is a plan, even a plan of happiness. Men are that they might have joy. Even in the midst of our trials - in the middle of the deep, dark night - the Lord knows who we are and He knows what we need. It is my belief that He wants us to be happy, to find the joy in the every day, and to celebrate every good thing in our lives.

* Yup, I talked about poop. From the pulpit. I even said the word "poop". Because it's Whitney's birthday - and because I could. (How often does an opportunity to say the phrase "poop from the pulpit" come up? I mean... I had to snatch that one right up.)

* I had no less than three people (a biology teacher, a doctor AND some sweet soul with an iPad) inform me that the word nephrectomy comes from nephrons. Apparently, that's what kidneys are made of. ... Or something like that. (I stop listening as soon as medical talk gets too graphic. Don't judge. It's a coping mechanism.)

* I had several people come up and tell me that they hadn't planned on coming, but felt like they needed to... and they were so glad they did, because that talk was for them: a cancer patient (breast cancer) and a man who's getting ready to undergo his fourth abdominal surgery in less than a year among them. That is literally what I prayed for, people - that I would say would people would need to hear. (Oh, and that I'd be funny and they would laugh. Because I so didn't want to be a boring fireside speaker. ... It happens. Sort of a lot.)

Man alive, I enjoy public speaking. But beyond the act of standing in front of a room full of people and knowing that I can make them laugh and/or cry, I love the personal connection that comes of knowing that people really heard what you had to say. I love people. I love them SO much! I'm so-so-so grateful for my life, for all of the blessings and all of the awesomeness that I enjoy on a daily basis. And tonight, I'm grateful that I had an opportunity to talk about so many of the things I am grateful for. ... If I could find a way to do this for a living, I'd do it in a heartbeat. I really would. But for now, I'll just go to bed happy that I was able to speak tonight, because I really do love it - so much.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Preserving a moment for children who are not my posterity

I have a couple kids in my life (not mine - don't worry, you haven't missed any big news on the child-bearing front) who have a deep and abiding love for (it may even be safe to use the term "obsession with") my moles.

Meg and Sally, I'm talking to you.

I accidentally took this totally serious selfie the other day, and was astonished at:

A) How green my eyes were that day  ... For those of you who've ever been wont to say that my eyes are brown: WRONG. They are hazel. Obviously.


B) Good heavens, I have a lot of flesh-colored moles on the left side of my face!

So much for me thinking those sweet little weirdos were... well, for lack of a better word, weirdos... for how they like to talk about/touch the many (MANY) moles on my face/neck/arms/etc. I am pretty bumpy, after all.

Friday, November 15, 2013

My secret pet

I know this is going to be really hard to imagine, but by the time I was in 6th grade, I was quite a character. (And no, this week's story won't involve any allusion to my checkered past. ... Except for that last sentence, anyway. ... So don't even ask.)

We hadn't had any family pets since the chickens of the summer before. (Not actual pets, btw.) And, sadly, the pet we'd had before that was my sweet dog Harvey (who we had to let go to another home because he got out of our yard and ate some of Pearl's chickens). And I was, like, in third grade when the Harvey/chicken fiasco went down.

What I'm saying is, it had been A LONG TIME since we'd had a pet. And, in an effort to change that, I started making regular visits to the feed store in downtown Taylor. (Just cracked myself up with that, btw. There is no "downtown Taylor".)

I weighed my options. You know: horses, cows, chickens and ducks. (That's basically what they market towards in a feed store.) We didn't have the land for a horse or a cow, and I'd already found out that I didn't know how to tell the sex of a chicken (or four). So, really, a duckling was my best bet.

I made friends with the dude who worked the counter and asked him how to tell which ducks were boys and which were girls. Turns out, it's pretty easy with ducks. Something about the feathers... I don't remember.

All I knew was that I wanted a boy Mallard (because they're prettier when they grow up), so once the ducklings were old enough to sell (they'd hatched them right there in the store, under an incubator light!), I put on my winter coat (it was Spring) and rode my bike to the feed store. (Remind me sometime to tell you about my bike. I still get annoyed, thinking about that stupid thing. My parents told me I could have a new bike, and I could pick out whatever I wanted. ... As long as it was a men's bike in a gender-neutral color, so my brothers could ride it, too. Yeah, that sounds EXACTLY like what a pre-teen girl would pick for herself, doesn't it? Twenty-seven years later, and I still roll my eyes whenever I think about that gray men's style 10-speed. Grrr.)

Anyhoo, I rode my bike to the feed store and I walked out with the cutest little Mallard duckling and as much duck feed as I could buy with change from a $10. Because I didn't have a basket on the front of my bike (like most girls, who had proper bicycles with banana seats), my only option was to balance a grocery-sized brown paper bag FULL of feed on the handlebars as I rode home, with my new little duck friend in my coat pocket.

You read me right.

I was toting my new little duckling inside my coat pocket. (It was the sweetest coat ever. Had a big three color chevron stripe across the chest, and there were zippers on the pockets. Welcome to the late 80's, ladies and gentlemen. Those were good times.)

By the time I got home, I realized that maybe I shouldn't spring my duck on my parents right away. (The upside of a duck v. a chicken is that a duck's bill is flat and wide - no poking of any brothers in the eyeball. But still, I decided I'd keep him my little secret for a while.)

I walked in through the front door, made a beeline for my room, and started to make a my little duck a home in the top drawer of my dresser.

That's right.

I said... I. Kept. Him. In. The. Top. Drawer. Of. My. Dresser.

I cleared out the drawer, and put some newspaper down. Then, I poured in some duck feed and got the little dude a water bowl, and closed the drawer with about 1/2 inch to spare (so he wouldn't suffocate) and went and joined the family for dinner.

For two weeks, I kept that duck hidden in my closet, in the top drawer my dresser. I'd come home from school, wear my jacket back to my bedroom, and take my little buddy out of his drawer and shove him into my right pocket. I'd zip him in (both to keep his fuzzy head hidden and to muffle the quacking) and I'd take him out to the side yard (where there were very few windows) and let him run around for half an hour or so. Then I zip him back up, and go back into the house and make a beeline to the hall bathroom, where I'd run him a sinkful of water and let him swim and splash for a while. After he'd had his play time, I'd take him back to my room. I'd let him walk around while I changed the newspaper and got him some new food and water, and then I'd put him away and go watch Gilligan's Island or something, like a normal kid.

Kirk knew about him (he'd followed me outside once, early on), but he knew that he was a secret, so he never talked to me about the duck unless we were totally alone.

On the last day I had him, Spencer followed us outside and got SO excited about our new pet that he went right in and told Mom.

Argh. Brothers.

Mom took the duck back to the feed store that very afternoon, and gave them some sob story about how her daughter had bought a duck without her permission (and/or knowledge) and she needed to return it. They took the duckling back, and even gave her a refund! (How nice are they?) But they wouldn't take the feed, so she brought it home and told me I'd need to get rid of the duck food, somehow. ... So I told her that I would, and promptly stuffed it onto the top shelf of my closet. Where it stayed until I graduated from high school and cleaned my room out because I was moving to St. George.

True story.

I guess it was just as well. I mean, the duck was getting too big to stuff into my coat pocket. He was also getting too big for the dresser drawer. (He couldn't really stand in there anymore.) And he was JUST ABOUT to have to upgrade to taking a daily swim in the bathtub, which would have been a hassle. (And I don't even want to think about how much poop I'd have had to deal with once he got officially grown up.) But he was super cute. And he was an awesome (secret) pet. Unlike the chicken rooster fiasco of 1984, I've never regretted the duckling. Not even once. (Note: I'm not saying that I'd do it again, but I've never regretted it.)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The (actual) scoop

Remember how, yesterday, I posted that I had no information as to my next scan?

Well, guess what? Today, I do!

MD called and my PET will be Dec 5th. I'll get the results on Dec 6th. ... Be looking forward to that.

In the meanwhile, I made an appt with SMIL to get Henry's picture taken. I'll have an abdominal ultrasound next Thursday, and it'll take about a week to get the results. Factoring Thanksgiving weekend in, my guess is that I'll get pix of Henry the beginning of the first week of December - just in time to share them with my beloved Dr. H when I see him on the 6th.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The scoop (or lack thereof)

I've had no less than three people ask - in the last week - when my next scan is.

The answer, I am sorry to say, is "I don't know".

My last scan was the first week of June. As I am now a one-kidneyed wonder whose system can't handle the tracer in a CT, I am doomed to the fate of the PET being the only scan I can have. Sadly, PETs cost about three times as much as a CT, and insurance is less likely to approve a PET every quarter. Soooo... I am now on the every six months plan v. the every three months plan. I don't love it, but hey... I've gone a year tumor-free now, which helps. Also, I don't really have a choice.

This is very much an "it is what it is" situation, and I'm doing the best I can to wait it out.

Some days - most days - I'm fine with it. Every once in a while, I have an anxious/worried day, but for the most part, I'm fine.

As soon as I know more, I'll share the info.

Until then, I'm doing my level best to enjoy life and not read too much into my growing stomach. (It helps to have had a medical professional support my theory that the main issue with the bulge in my belly is a hernia.)

Viva la sweater season!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Two of a kind

I made soup this weekend.

It was delish.

I mean, I would have rather had Ken and Myra still living around the corner, so My could chop up the veggies and actually make it for me (why does food always taste better when someone else makes it?), but, alas... The Johnsons live in a far off land and I am unable to mooch their food anymore. It's a tragedy. Oh, well. At least I have her recipe. And I will give it to you, because this soup is fabulous. The broth has the most incredible flavor, and the lentils soak up all the savory goodness. To me, this soup screams "IT'S FALL!". And I love foods that scream "FALL!" at me. ... Obviously.

But the reason for this particular post (in addition to sharing the recipe, because I freaking LOVE this soup and think everyone should have the deliciousness that is lentil soup at their disposal) is that my bag of lentils and I are (okay, were) twin souls.

Would you look at that? My little bag o' legumes had a hernia. Right smack in the middle of him.

Just. Like. Me.

Much like the skin around my bellybutton has thinned (so much so that I can hear AND feel the gurgles and pops as my stomach goes through the drama of digesting my late night snack), the plastic in the middle of the bag  had thinned to the point that there were a few little guys that looked like they were about to pop right through.

Like I said, twin souls. ... Poor little bag. I felt your pain, dude. ... Too bad the only cure for you was to tear you open and make soup out of you. (I can only hope my herniated midsection doesn't share that fate. #Gruesome.)

Here's My's recipe. It's fabulous. Also, it makes A TON of soup. (Says the woman who halved the recipe and still has three GIANT tupperwares full of leftovers in her fridge.)


Myra's Lentil Soup

equal amounts of carrots, celery, and onion chopped fine (I chop about the same amount equaling two large onions each)
1/4 c. - 1/2 c. olive oil
minced garlic (about 3-5 cloves)
Italian sausage (one per person minimum)
1 large can of tomatoes
Lentils (1-2 bags)
Broth cube (or two)
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute carrots, celery, onion, and garlic in the olive oil in a pan.
Add sausage to mixture (removing skin and cut to small pieces) and cook through
Add the tomatoes to the mixture and simmer on medium-low for about 10 minutes.
Add lentils, broth cube, salt and pepper. I usually also add water near to the top (but that depends how soupish you want the soup).
Let it simmer for 45 minutes on low (I'm guessing here!)

My friend Henry

Kids, I have a new friend. His name is Henry.

Henry is a hernia. And, frankly, is more of a frenemy than a friend. ... But I can't shake him, so I determined to make friends with him (as much as one can make friends with a hernia). To that end, I have given him a name and I'm making an effort to be better behaved, as I've learned that when I am good to Henry, he is better to me. (Read: No more even TRYING to lift anything even REMOTELY heavy. Also, no more going on 2 mile walks. While I did prove to myself that I can walk more than a mile, I also learned that my guts hate me when I make myself stand and be mobile for an hour. ... Yes, it takes me an hour to walk two miles. Don't judge.)

I've had a gut feeling (pun intended) that Henry was coming since mid-June, but he didn't really pop out and make himself known until September.

Over the summer, I'd occasionally have the sensation that my guts were trying to push out through my bellybutton. That was awesome.

Come the first week of September, the pain changed (read: became more constant) and I noticed that, when I had my hand over my belly button, I could feel my stomach gurgling. (That actually WAS awesome. In a creepy sort of way.) Oh, and the area formerly known as my bellybutton started changing. Fast.

On the first Saturday of October, I sat down on my couch and put my hand over my bellybutton and realized... I felt something. Something more than bubbles popping. I felt something hard. Not tumor hard, mind you. More like something-has-broken-loose-inside-my-body hard. So I promptly walked into my bathroom and took a picture. Because I like to document things. And also because I wanted to make sure it really DID look like a hernia from the other side of the camera.

And the verdict was... Yes. Yes, it did.

I apologize to all those readers with weak stomachs and will warn those who have NO DESIRE to see my grody, bumpy, lumpy, scarred and grossly mis-shapen belly (Aunt Cindy, I'm talking to you) that you may want to scroll down quickly so you'll miss the carnage that is up close and  personal pics of my body.

I give you: my bellybutton in October:

And then I turned the camera, so I could get a shot of the bulbous lump at the bottom:


No wonder I felt bruised and battered. I WAS! ... From the inside out. Awesome. (By which I mean: Not actually awesome.)

Less than a week after these pics were taken, I started coughing. Hard. I started coughing hard. ... At first, I thought it was allergies. But then I left the great state of Arizona and headed to California for a baking retreat - and I took my cough with me. And then I brought it home, and continued to cough in Arizona.

The cough? It has not helped my relationship with Henry. ... For a week there, I thought it might have been helping. The bulbousness was spreading out, and I was thinking that all that accidental exercise was strengthening my stomach muscles and all would be well in the world. ... And then I realized that my abdominal pain was changing. It was becoming stronger and more constant, and I was having to sneeze and/or cough with one hand over my mouth/nose, and the other pressing down on my bellybutton (such as it is), to the extent that, if I only had one hand available, I needed that hand for my stomach. I can't blow my nose without pushing in on my bellybutton, and it's getting harder to stand up and roll over.

Shoot. Me. Now.

It's been four weeks, and I've been fighting different versions of that same cold the whole time, so I went to the doctor on Friday. (My family medicine doc, not my beloved Dr. H.) I came home with a fist full of new prescriptions, as well as the assurance that this is, indeed, a hernia.

I have an order to have an abdominal ultrasound (that'll be fun - since we all know that I have a weak bladder in the best of circumstances, and having someone push a rolly ball around on your stomach when you're full of water is the opposite of "the best of circumstances"). Her thoughts are that the reason my stomach has changed is that the coughing has enlarged the hernia, and I'll need surgery. Again.

Here's a more recent shot (again, Syd,  look away):

Oh, and look! You can see one of the tats in this pic. You lucky dogs...

You can't really see the difference between shot 1 and shot 2, but trust me... it's there. The bump is both bigger and flatter at the same time. I don't often have the bruised feeling that I did last month. The bruised sensation has been replaced by an ache that's sometimes accompanied by stabbing pain. I'm torn as to which pain was easier. It's sort of a toss up.

What I've learned from Henry is that life is easier when I'm easier on my body. Sooooo... so much for the plans I had to walk a mile for every episode of new fall tv I was allowed to watch. My couch, my books, Netflix, Hulu and I are fast friends again.

It's a good thing I actually enjoy staying home in a reclined position. So many people I know would be bored out of their minds. I'm lucky that I was blessed with the ability to sit still and enjoy it. Seriously. Lucky.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The trouble with chickens

Okay, so... when I was, like, ten years old, I bought some chickens at a yard sale.

Yup, you read that right. I bought CHICKENS at a YARD SALE.

They were $4 apiece, which at the time, seemed like a steal. ... Probably because I'd stolen the money I was spending at the yard sale. (This was smack in my prime of shoplifting and serial thievery. Don't ever let me tell you the story about how I used to steal suckers from The Sucker Lady's house and then sell them on the secondary market (aka: the playground at Taylor Elementary). You'd never get over what a hoodlum I was, and you'd probably have to stop reading my blog - which would punish us both.)

Anyway, the chicks were going for $4 a pop, and I somehow had $16 to burn, so... I bought four chicks.

I'm not entirely clear on how I got them home. (Maybe Hudsons dropped them off? No way did I carry four squirmy baby chickens home. ... I mean, it's not FAR - if you're not carrying chickens - but still. I doubt that I carried them myself.)

Anyway, somehow I got home with my chickens and told my parents I'd bought us a farm.

You can imagine how well that went over, I'm sure.

After much discussion on where we were going to KEEP the birds, I made a deal with my parents that if I could make them a coop, I could keep them.

Armed with a pair of wire cutters and ten able fingers, I went into the back yard and commenced building a chicken coop. Out of leftover fence.

You read that right. I cut FENCING with a pair of wire cutters and then bent and twisted the cut ends towards each other to fasten them together. With my bare hands. (Over time, I did enlist the help of the brothers, but it was my vision - and they were MY chickens - so my bloody fingers bore the brunt of the work.)

After a good summer day and a half of twisting metal, I came up with a chicken pen of sorts (heavy on the "of sorts") and my parents agreed to see how this would play out.

About a week later, the chicks started to grow up. As in, get bigger, fill out, turn red (they were Rhode Island Red, which I thought were just bee-yoo-tiful), and...

It turns out none of them were CHICKENS. Oh, no. They were ROOSTERS. All four of them.

Insert a whole heck of a lot of pent up testosterone-laden hostility here. (Also, you can kiss all my future egg income goodbye.)

Pretty quickly, the roosters got a little (read: a lot) feisty. One day, Spencer went out to check on them, and he got pecked in the eye.

And that was the day my parents made me get rid of my beloved chickens those hateful roosters. I can't remember if they took them back to the Hudsons (home of the ill-fated yard sale), or what, but all I know is that I didn't turn out to be a very good egg farmer. (Which is just as well, because my homemade "coop" probably would have rusted over, come winter.)

And I haven't bought a chicken since. Not even one.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Oh, the many ways in which the media shapes my life...

Much in the way that watching Gravity last Saturday solidified that I never (EVER) want to go into space, last night's Blacklist has just made me realize that I never (EVER) want to get on a Subway again.

The End.

Friday, November 1, 2013

I've been a cat lady since I was 4 yrs old.

My first pet was a black cat.

I named her Snow White.

Because I had an insane sense of irony, even as a young child.

(Also, because I was a little girl and I was obsessed with princesses, as is evidenced by the fact that I somehow got my little brother to name his kitten Cinderella.)

Snow White was a totally awesome cat (until the year that I was in kindergarten and she got this weird rash on her neck that she scratched until her hair fell out, but we're not going to talk about that). I mean, she was fabulous. As in, the best little kitty-turned-plow-horse that ever lived.

For real.

I'd harness her to boxes, sometimes to the inside of the baby brother's carseat (I'm not kidding) ... basically, anything I could tie a piece of yarn around ... and I'd have her pull my baby dolls (and other assorted toys) around the yard.

See Exhibit A:

Snow White, harnessed (if you want to call a red ribbon around the belly a "harness") to an avocado green baby carseat liner, with Little Laurie and her baby dolls in tow.

Maybe it's best that I don't have a pet these days. ... Or a baby, seeing as how I have a history of dismantling carseats and using their innards as outside (snow) toys. Sheesh!