Thursday, January 31, 2013


Losing my mind waiting on this film, that has been prolonged and delayed and delayed again.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Snowy Drive to the U

The University of Utah is a marvelous hospital, as is Primary Children's that lies just below it.  They are both perched on the rolling foothills above Salt Lake City, and I spent years in and out of the both of them for cancer treatment when I was a kid.

Primary's hasn't changed much.  It has been spruced up and has some lovely fountains out front, and a garden area, but I can still enter that hospital and know exactly where I am and where I'm going.  I have me bearings there.
But the U of U hospital has changed drastically! There is only one hallway that I recognize there.  That is it.  The various clinics have been revamped, the entire facade of the building torn up and rebuilt.  I walk in those doors and feel like an outsider, whereas I used to enter the rotunda and there were the elevators on your left (where a stranger taught me to appreciate my freckles), the glass waterfall next to the waiting area that I used to run my fingers through, and my favorite doctor's office down the hall and on the right, where they always had a jar of candy out for me.
It used to look like this...
Now it looks like this...

Quite a face lift, eh?

We went back up there yesterday to see a new specialist about my broken jaw.
He is a marvelous doctor and we were all very happy with him and the time he spent talking with us.
As far as my broken jaw goes, the options are:

A. Put a plate on it that will bridge the fracture. This would be a permanent solution.
B. Wire my jaw shut for 6 weeks and put me in a hyperberic chamber.
C. Cut my face open from the outside and do some serious surgery that may involve more bone marrow grafts and such.

Obviously Option A is the best solution.  Yes, it would be painful and a hard recovery (I'd be wired shut for a bit afterward, but all of my options involve immobilizing the jaw so it can heal), but ti would be permanent and really secure that fragile bone.
However... we have to find a metal plate I am NOT allergic to.  I am allergic to 3 metals that are common in alloys, and as there are not a lot of different plate options out there, I am crossing my fingers so hard the circulation is cut off.  And PRAYING that they have a plate that will work, that doesn't have any allergens in it.

We are also hoping that we can get the insurance to cover this awesome doctor, as he is outside of my coverage.  He works out of the Huntsman Cancer Center, and they'll cover anything if it is cancer related, so it is a matter of convincing them that getting my broken jaw fixed is all tied to me having had cancer as a kid...which is true; if I hadn't have had cancer, I would have a regular jaw bone right now.
Plus I was treated at the U for it originally, and the U of U hospital is generally just badass.
Not to mention the new Huntsman Cancer Center.

Driving up there yesterday, the snow flakes were flying and Foothill Drive wasn't paved.  We were 20 minutes late (even though we left early!).  Neither Eli nor myself had been to the new Huntsman Cancer Center and when we pulled up, we gave the car to the valet and ran inside and our jaws dropped.
It is an absolutely GORGEOUS green glass building full of rich, dark red wood.
It has a soaring ceiling and the entire foyer is a semicircle with a giant staircase.

This is the ceiling of the foyer!

We went to my doctor's clinic and the waiting room was like the conservatory of an American baron.
It had a bunch of miniature handmade ships in glass cases, plush sofas and armchairs to curl up in, and tables full of puzzles for us to work on.  I wished I had a fat book and a day to spend in that waiting room!  And they had free tea, hot chocolate, and coffee with all the fixings set up at a side bar, just begging you to concoct a warm drink for yourself.

The receptionist was really nice and they had me fill out a purple form about my mental state, because they care about the emotional side of things, and not just the physical.
As a PTSD sufferer (from hospital trauma), this took me by surprise and delighted me!
They escorted us back to the examination room, which was a small world in itself.  Comfy chairs, fancy tools, 3 different TV screens, and incredibly spacious.
A social worker came in and talked to me about what I had filled out on the purple form (about my anxiety/fears/PTSD) and explained the programs they have for patients through the center, that include therapy, meditations, group talks, and more.  And they are all free (unless you do a full-on scheduled weekly therapy session).  AMAZING.
And so encouraging! I think they should institute this, and the purple form, at every hospital.
Then the doctors came in, 2 of which were intern types (teaching hospital!) and my main doctor, and his R.N.  They were gracious and thorough and encouraging.
And that is why this doctor, and Huntsman are my #1 choice for my procedures.
Plus, this guy has a Plan B, and a Plan C !! I need more doctors like him in my life.

We are waiting for him to call the plate manufacturers about the metal content, so I'm kind of on edge, murmuring under my breath "please let them have a plate I'm not allergic to!"
and drinking Ensure and coffee and tea like nobody's business. This whole liquid diet thing SUCKS.  And Ensure is disgusting.
Oh, and I can't even properly complain about it because the doctor told me to restrict talking as much as possible to prevent surgical complications.  Looks like my fingers will get their exercise scribbling and typing these upcoming weeks!

It is still snowing.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Oh despair, begone to elsewhere!!

After a terrible day, and being in so much pain i can hardly speak another word, I thought "WHAT WOULD ANNE SHIRLEY DO?"
and asked Eli whether or not we could go to the bookstore this evening. He smiled and nodded and I threw my sweater on and as we marched through the snow I said "sometimes it's so nice to go out into the cold night with someone you love."

And sitting here, surrounded by literature that is do delicious I want to devour it all, it comes to me...being on an awful liquid diet that leaves me constantly hungry and weak, there's always something that fills me up. BOOKS!!

Toxic Fog, inside and out.

TOXIC FOG you guys.
That was the headline for the Salt Lake Tribune on Saturday.

And to warn you---I am on pain pills, and tired, and feverish. So apologies for the non-sequiters you may find...

I didn't sleep well Friday night (broken jaw pain, stomach pain, stress, and nightmares about shootings and Mussolini and drowning), so I woke up early Saturday morning and snuck out of bed, careful to not wake Eli, and started running a hot bath.

While the tub was filling with pink bubbles, I went to the dark kitchen to make some tea and went "whooooa" because I couldn't see outside.  It was as though someone had covered all of our windows with gauzy, gray curtains.  So I pressed my face up against the glass (I enjoy weather in all forms) and was stunned by the intense, sleazy fog encasing the morning world.

We don't get fog in Utah. So I was confused, but it looked pretty neat, and I thought it would clear.
I hopped in the tub with Edith Wharton (just her book, not her.. well, her dead body I suppose it would have to be..) and the hot soapy water was just easing away my stomach pain when Eli pushed the door open and cried out "TOXIC FOG!!"

I wondered if he was sleepwalking, or if there was a great new band he heard of called "The Toxic Fog" but no, he had his phone in his hand and held it up to my face.  It was a news article explaining that the confusing fog I had observed earlier was, in fact, poisonous, and that Salt Lake City's pollution is currently #1 WORST IN THE COUNTRY.

We were warned to not go outside.  Especially pregnant women and children.
Eli and I decided to escape the Toxic Fog, so we did what we always do during these January smog-fests in the valley-- we drove up to Park City.

You can literally see the sick yellow air wisp out as you go up Parley's Canyon, and you turn round the big bend and the sun pops out and it is like a new world. You remember what the sky looks like, and how freeing it is to be able to see 15 feet (and more!) in front of you.

We wandered Main Street on the 2nd-to-last-day of Sundance and I was desperate to see RObert Redford, but alas...
Every since January, when Sundance rolls around, I get this deep yearning to see him--not even talk to him or shake his hand, but just to SEE Robert Redford, and it hasn't happened for me yet.  It's weird, I know.  Whatever. Don't even get me started on Harrison Ford or Clint Eastwood.

We had a drink at No Name Saloon and celebrity-watched and people-watched and had a fun time.
But then, the dreaded moment when we had to drive back down the canyon...

as we entered the fog again and I observed just how palpable it is, I realized I feel the same way.
Foggy.  All this health trouble has gotten to my head, and I've had this flu-bug for a month, and have been feverish for the last few days, and I feel like not just my lungs, but my spirit is struggling to breathe against this oppressive smoke.
My head is foggy with depressive thoughts, worries, and guilt trips.  I feel like a burden to my husband and my family because of my health issues.  I feel bad that we're spending so much money on multiple CT scans and such, when we want to buy a house this year.  I know it is all out of my control, and that is what makes me panic-- I know I need to RELINQUISH control and ACCEPT it... it reminds me of that saying -
God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

I know it needs to be done, I just haven't been able to fully do it yet.  It is so difficult to know that there is a serious issue with you--your own body-- that you can't do anything about. And accepting that it isn't my fault and that is okay.. well, that takes time.
I think when we see the specialist tomorrow and get a tentative game plan, it will be easier for me to breathe... and relinquish control.
I know a big part of the issue is that my doctors of recent have not been rock stars.  So it has made me intensely protective of my body and my healthcare, and given me some nasty trust issues with the medical community in general.

Yesterday, I was sitting deep in thought, considering the toxic fog outside and my current state... I feel completely drained, both from the constant pain, and the emotional tsunami of it all, and that E.L. Doctrow quote came to mind

You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can see the whole trip that way.

I pondered on that for a bit, feeling slightly bolstered up, and glanced outside.  It was snowing.
Pure, white, powdery flakes, covering all the mud on the ground, sweeping the smog out of the sky, and I smiled.
Oh, the metaphors!!  Yes, I still feel awful under it all--it is still there, like the crusty grass and muddy rocks under the snow--but I need to remember that a little fresh snow on top can make all the difference.. even if just in the form of a cupcake or a good book or a smile.

Friday, January 25, 2013

On Broken Jaws and Being Tickled

What a week it has been.

I still haven’t worked a full week since the holidays started, between the office being closed for Bank Holidays (the joys of working for a mortgage company!) and having Dr’s appointments and needing to take half days or full days off.

We had Monday off this week for MLK Day, and I tried to take Tuesday off, because I’d been up all night sick (too many antibiotics and pain pills!). Life with a broken jaw is not easy.
But then trouble was stirred up at department is very good at stirring up trouble.
They can find a lovely day, with not too many problem loans in it, and coffee and cupcakes, and still turn it on its head.  I never have understood those who enjoy crafting drama out of thin air.  Rumormongering is somewhat magical, if you think about it; all of the tension and hurt feelings and suspicions and whisperings that can be borne of two misleading sentences…
So I had to pop into the office for a few hours in the afternoon and help resolve it all.

I also wanted to work from home today, but I was needed in the office.  Promotions are a blessing, but alas, a stressful and demanding one.

So, about the Broken Jaw.  I promised I would write about it, and have received inquiries, so here it is.

After my last surgery in mid-December, to remove the implant from my jaw (that I was allergic to), I didn’t recover well.  The pain got gradually worse and it just didn’t feel right.
Then one night, while I was still recovering, we went to visit my nephews and nieces and they tickle-attacked me, and my jaw got whacked.  It HURT.  But being the tough cookie that I am, and not wanting to upset the kiddies, I didn’t let on how bad it was.  But I had to go outside in the cold and cry for a moment and catch my breath. 
And after that, I started getting a bit of swelling under my chin.
I woke up on the morning of Christmas Eve and had a BLOB there, near the surgical site in my mouth.  Eli was shocked, I was shocked (and in pain), and both of us were terrified.

I’ve had nothing but problems with my jaw. And our immediate fear was THE JAW IS BROKEN!

Because, if you don’t know,I don’t have a typical jaw bone.  It is the fibula of a 7 year old (well, me…when I was 7).
The whole cancer thing..? They cut out half of my jaw bone (everything on the left side) and popped my leg bone in there. But because I was so young, the bone is still TINY! It didn’t grow with me! So for 16 years I have had a jaw bone the width of a pencil.  It was always fragile.

And we always lived in fear of it breaking, which is why I had all these procedures done—to prevent that, take care of my teeth, and get me set up for the rest of my life.  But we didn’t anticipate all of the additional procedures (since we obviously did not know I would be allergic to the metal implants they put in the bone).  But it held up.  Miraculously. Somehow.  All those years.

So there we are, the morning of Christmas Eve, with me crying in bed, not knowing what is wrong, but being in a lot of pain, hardly able to speak, with a baseball sized lump on my jaw.
We nearly went to the ER, but then my surgeon said he would meet us at his office.  He did an X-Ray and looked at it, and thought my salivary gland was blocked.
So then we went to an ENT (his buddy), to have the gland drained.
The ENT examined me and said “I’m pretty sure it is not a blocked gland.”
Me: “How can you tell?”
ENT: “I don’t think you have glands on that side…”

So he ordered a CT Scan. But since that didn’t get done until the new year… INSURANCE FEES!
That CT, with insurance, cost me almost an entire paycheck.

(Scroll down… I wrote an entry here about the CT Scan experience).

And it didn’t show anything.
All it did was freak us out more because it confirmed I don’t have salivary glands.

The day after the CT scan, I woke up and was speaking with a lisp.  I was in excruciating pain and could not chew at all—my bite was off. It was as though my whole jaw had completely shifted. The doctors were mystified.  I wanted another CT scan.  They didn’t see the point, but I kept telling them “something changed dramatically the day after my first CT—maybe the issue will be more pronounced this time.”

And I was right.

I had 2 CT scans within 1 week, and the 2nd scan made it immediately obvious to the doctors that my jaw is broken.  It was fractured, right at the area where the baby bone meets the original jaw bone, and it kept getting worse and finally it basically snapped open, which they could see on the CT scan—this is what totally shifted my bite.  Broken jaw.

So this was obviously incredibly upsetting and I had a meltdown and mourned the break of this sweet, strong little bone that help on for 16 years.  I felt guilty, and rageful, and just SAD. And frustrated.

We are seeing a specialist at the University of Utah on Tuesday to look what needs to be done.  My referring surgeon speculated they’ll put a metal plate on the entire bone… but considering I am allergic to many of the alloy options, I don’t know if that is possible. And that would be a big difficult surgery.
So in the meanwhile, I am living with it.  I can’t chew so I’m on a liquid diet, and still talking funny.  And always in pain.
The doctor originally reassured Eli and I “It can’t be broken, you would be screaming in pain right now.”
I made him eat his words.  I have a wicked high pain tolerance, and I really know how to put on a cool face when I’m burning with agony inside.

And today I can’t help but marvel – “Who breaks their jaw by being TICKLED..?!”
I can’t think of a better way to have a bone broken.  Can you?

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Freezing Rain, Car Bombs, The Usual Craziness.

Things have been INSANE.
That's why I haven't had a chance to write.

I had a second CT scan to figure out what is going on with my jaw and - surprise !


I will write more on that later.
But obviously, this is very very bad.

And I'm not really handling it like an adult.
Last night we went down the pub with friends for some trivia and I lost my head completely.
I got trashed and had 2 Irish car bombs...on a Wednesday. Wow.

But I kept thinking "What would Elizeth Taylor do?"
And the answer... if Liz Taylor had a broken jaw, she would be down the pub doing car bombs EVERY NIGHT.
Now she was a hell of a dame.
I really miss her and Richard Burton.  Man, what a story !!!

So today I am at work hungover and exhausted, and we have some lovely freezing rain going on outside.
This morning we had to take surface streets to the office because of all the wrecks and spinouts (hoho, black ice!!) on the highway, and they actually shut parts of the highway down.
As the rain hit the windshield, it instantly froze.

A girl in my department was late because a truck cut her off and she spun out, through oncoming traffic, and into a ditch!

And we're supposed to get some snow for the drive home.  Not too fun!
The power has gone off a few times at the office because of the weather and it keeps interrupting work processes, creating more and more work (because I don't have enough already).

I just want to go home, crawl into bed with a cup of hot cider, and watch Dr. Zhivago.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Hitler is Hitler, and he is dead. Nazi comparisons, history, gun control, rant.

People comparing Obama to Hitler is nothing new.

People comparing anyone to Hitler is nothing new (and is such a pathetic and common argument that they fall back on time after time).

But that silly image juxtaposing Hitler with children and Obama with children (taken as Obama put out his new gun laws) is ludicrous.  Let me explain why!

Those in favor of gun ownership (at any cost) are declaring that both Obama and Hitler gained (and in Obama’s case, are gaining) power by disarming their people.  Straight up? This is simply NOT TRUE.  In the popularly cited examples - Hitler, Mussolini, Stain, Pol Pot and Castro - gun restrictions played absolutely no role in them getting or keeping power.

Yes, Hitler did change gun laws.  AFTER the Nazi party was in power, and his alterations actually loosened up the existing laws rather than restricting gun use or ownership. 

The Hitler comparisons have been done for years…probably because they are the only thing that the ignorant and angry can come up with.  The term “Nazi” is common lingo, and you have heard (and probably done this yourself) people adding “Nazi” to your daily vocab as an adjective.  Seinfeld used this tactic with the “Soup Nazi,” and today at work I heard someone tell a pal “Don’t be a Donut Nazi!! Let me have some.”

But politically, this is a No-No.  It’s immature and misinformed and verifies you are a dumbass.

And everyone posting this on their Facebook walls as if it is an empowering statement to “wake up” their fellow Americans makes their fellow Americans with a brain shake their head in sadness.  Oh, the ignorance.

This is the best that people can come up with??
They are history illiterate.

Or, in the case of this image in question, illiterate illiterate (hello, run-on sentences!!).

Also interesting; Hitler and Obama do not reserve the rights to using kids in photo ops.

Stalin, Chairman Mao, Castro, Kim Il-sung, Hugo Chavez, and I’ve even seen some of Gaddafi. It is nothing new and nothing shocking.

Speaking of which…

When we’re going to insult people, personally and politically, can’t we be more creative? Hitler is not the Be All End All.  Yeah, he knocked off a couple million, but it didn’t end well for him, and in the grand scheme of evil, that’s not as many as most dictators murder.

The thing about Hitler is how he did it—the gas chambers and the concentration camps and all.  He wasn’t that good with disposing of the evidence.
But other genocidal maniacs kept their murders more hush-hush, and therefore don’t get the same recognition as Hitler, even though they murdered more, and sometimes in more gruesome ways.
I personally believe a lot of it has to do with Hitler’s toothbrush moustache…and the fact that is name is easier to pronounce. 

Easier than say, Mao Ze-Dong of China, who is estimated to have killed between 50 and 78 MILLION.  His M.O. was systematically depriving his people of their basic rights, and having far too many of them executed, or allowed them (purposefully in most cases) to starve to death. There was also some torture and people being beaten to death by police mobs.

Josef Stalin of course cannot be ignored.  And damn, what a moustache! How can people prefer Hitler’s?
Stalin deserves the credit for Nazi Germany’s infamous concentration camps—he inspired Hitler with his gulag system.  Russian citizens were imprisoned in them for decades (remember Lara from Dr. Zhivago..?).  And because Stalin erased people so completely, there are millions of citizens whose records of existence also vanished, and only their family members and witnesses can testify that they were actually on this earth.  Thus it is difficult to calculate just how many deaths Stalin was responsible for, but the most widely accepted figure historians can come to is 20 million.  They are still stumbling upon old mass graves in Russia from Stalin’s time, so the number continues to edge up. Some estimate the number to be as high as 60 million.
Stalin not only had the gulag labor camps, but also allowed Russians to die of starvation and neglect, as well as deciding not to help Ukrainians during the famine and allowing them to die.

And there was Franco and Mussolini and Castro, but lets skip over to some current baddies.
Like Afewerki of Eritrea, who runs the country without a constitution and forces every male to enter forced labor when they turn 18. For how long? Who knows—as long as he says and if you try to say no, you’re jailed or murdered, depending on the punisher’s mood.  Journalists, activists, and anyone who worships “wrong” is tortured. No word yet on how many he has killed, or will continue to murder.

And don’t forget Al-Bashir of the Sudan, who is better known because of the genocide and war crimes he committed in Darfur, where about 300 MILLION have been murdered since 2003.

I will also mention Karimov, al-Assad, Sein, Mbasogo, and Mugabe.

Can’t people reference these guys in daily conversation for once, instead of falling on the same old Hitler routine??  [“Don’t be a Donut Karimov! Share with me!”]  Let’s start a new trend people.  A trend based in education.

Welp, based on the popularity of this ludicrous Hitler/Obama comparison, that’s too much to ask.


When I attempted an interesting comparison on Facebook this morning in response to this image, to inform and inspire intelligent discourse, it did not go well.

I tried to point out that Obama is not the first person to be compared to Hitler, and that there are lots of “great Americans” that have more in common with Hitler than anything the extremists are trying to tie Obama to. 

For instance…

If we look back, George Bush Junior curtailed civil liberties in the wake of publicized disaster; he did this following 9/11 (remember the creation of the Patriot Act, and others?), and this is similar to what Hitler did in the wake of the Reichstag fire. Look it up.
And just as Hitler employed worldwide communism to justify Germany’s military increase, Bush has used Al Qaeda and his “Axis of Evil” to validate his military buildup.
Both men endorsed militarism in the middle of a recession.

And as far as Nazis, George Bush Senior was involved in financing the National Socialists, and John Kennedy’s dad openly supported them at first (he lost his position as an American Ambassador for it).

Going further into similarities (beyond the “image” if you will), both Lincoln and Hitler lost their mothers at a young age, and had strained relationships with their fathers.  They both ran their respective countries during wartime, and believed states cannot possess sovereignty on their own.  Hitler so admired this notion (that Lincoln frequently deliberated on), that he wrote about it, and the American Civil War, in Mein Kampf!

And Lincoln and Hitler both considered national deportation of a minority as a solution to their “problems”.  Luckily for Old Abe, things turned out for the best. Well, not for him personally. L

Andrew Jackson and Hitler both worked the banking systems of their country and started printing massive amounts of paper cash. Oh, and they both persecuted a minority to the point of nearly destroying a culture. Don’t leave that part out.

Hitler was a fan of the Enlightenment. Like Thomas Jefferson (and other Founding Fathers, but TJ in particular). Naziism, like America, was founded on many Enlightenment tenets.  The Declaration of Independence and Constitution were based on Enlightenment ideals (“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” was taken from Enlightenment figure Locke’s “life, liberty, and the pursuit of property”).

And like Hitler being hypocritical (he had Judaism in his family tree), Jefferson was a slaveowner.

You can even parallel our beloved George Washington breaking off from England and creating a new form of government to Hitler breaking the Treaty of Versailles and establishing a new party and new age for Germany.

So in this case, everyone needs to PIPE THE F*CK DOWN and go “I think X is wrong, but recognize that he/she is not Hitler.  Hitler is Hitler. And he’s dead.”

I was trying to show that any moron with access to Google Images can draw parallels between people.  You can compare Hitler to ANYONE, especially if your connection is based on a mere image.  You can compare him to the Dalai Lama or Leonardo DiCaprio or Jesus or a kitten for crying out loud (look—they both have brown eyes and they’re holding their heads at the same angle!!! Holy crap this kitten it HITLER!).

That’s all I was trying to point out.  The ignorance.

And I guess maybe I was expecting too much in hoping to open their eyes, but the response I got was even more ignorant:  “um..I’m confused. Do you like Hitler?”
No shit you're confused.  Haha!!
I’m serious.  This was really said (well, typed on Facebook) to me.

I know, it’s laughable! But dreadful. Because I pointed out how stupid it is to compare every politician you don't like to Hitler, I was accused of LIKING A NAZI. 
What the hell is this world coming to?

Please stop with the stupidity people. That’s all I am trying to say.

And I would like to conclude with a quote from Michael Moynihan, who said:

“America isn’t Nazi Germany, and it cheapens the experience of Holocaust victims to suggest otherwise.  By all means, let the debate on gun control roil. But for once, let’s leave Hitler out of it.”      Well said Mike.

Because Hitler is dead.

And I don’t like him.

Never did, now that I think about it.


Is there a way we can force-feed history lessons and logic to the stupid…?

Go ahead and skip to 2 minutes in.  I only found this video a week after I originally posted this blog - and it sums up everything I'm trying to say! Thanks Jon!

Monday, January 14, 2013

How Literature Saved Me From Rabies

WARNING: This post contains spoilers about Their Eyes Were Watching God.
But most people have not heard of that book, or read it, and after reading this you probably will have no desire to either.  So peruse on, dear reader (I love saying makes me sound like Nathaniel Hawthorne)!

I read Their Eyes Were Watching God again this weekend, while stuck in bed with a swollen jaw that limited my ability to eat, chew, and basically enjoy life.

I haven't read it in years and years...I'm estimating it has been about 6-7 since those pages last saw my face...and last made said face glisten with tears.


I was up until the wee hours finishing it and was crying and dripping snot like a baby and started shrieking at the ending (remembering WHY I haven't read it in so long) and then I threw the book across the room and hid under the covers.
This, of course, woke up Eli.
He is used to my reading escapades (you should see me with Jennifer Donnelly novels), so he rolled over in bed and mumbled "what is it this time?"

And after much hair pulling and stuttering on my part, I tried to explain the plot to him (which, unless you have read Their Eyes Were Watching God yourself, does not make a damn ounce of sense).
so I got to the point of
"...and her and Tea Cake--YES BABE, THAT IS HIS CHARACTER'S NAME--were so in love and just finally making it on the muck in Florida and then the hurricane (sob)...and they didn't know (sob)...and they nearly drowned and in the water there was a cow swimming and they tried to grab onto it for help, but (gasp for air) there was a mad dog riding on the swimming cow (sob)--YES! I SAID A RABID DOG SITTING ON A SWIMMING COW'S BACK! IT IS POSSIBLE--and it tried to bite Janie, and Tea Cake tried to defend her (drawn-out sob)...Oh Tea Cake!! And the dog bit his cheek.... blahblahblah... He got rabies and she couldn't save him (more blubbering) and he tried to kill her because he didn't know...and she had to shoot him to defend herself...oh honey it was awful (unbearable sobbing for a few minutes). And she had to go on trial for her life! Even though he was rabid! All because of that damn mad dog!!"

Eli was completely thrown by this one.
Usually he can follow the He-Loves-Her-But-Is-True-Proud-To-Tell-Her and other sob stories of the books I read, but this one, of Rabid-Dog-On-A-Cow-Leads-To-Shooting-Of-Beloved-Rabid-Man was just too much. He said "Jesus, no wonder you have nightmares, reading that kind of shit!!"
But then he got upset at the thought of having to shoot me if I got rabies and that hit him hard, so he got the concept of what I was trying to express.

But I am still not over it! Ugh! What business is it of a rabid dog to destroy love?? And in such a twisted, unfair way?
This isn't the first novel to star those damn mad dogs.

The one in To Kill a Mockingbird scared the shit out of me too-- I can still picture it, sweating and convulsing in the sun, and and palpable terror of someone getting bit by that dog, frothing white at the mouth.
 I shudder just thinking about it... but brave, good Atticus comes out and takes that dog in one shot, his glasses slipping as he does...

Oh Lord, don't even get me started on Atticus Finch!! I love that man as if he were real (in my heart, he is... but then again I love my books like they were my children and collect them like stray cats).

There is also a mad dog in that Gabriel Garcia Marquez story, and even in the book World War Z, and that shitty Old Yeller of course.  I hate that story by the way.

It gets me to thinking about rabies, and the mad dog, as a literary device, and the different things it can symbolize.
In Latin, "rabies" translates as "madness" and is similar to a Sanskrit word for "performing violence."
And the first written record of rabies is about owners who have a dog that is showing symptoms and their responsibilities to prevent bites. Isn't that wild?? The first record of rabies and it involves the mad dog.
And of course, this caused the superstitious (during the Middle Ages, no doubt) to ban dogs and ostracize anyone who was even suspected of being bitten by a dog (rabid or not) to the point that the victim of the supposed bite might kill themself.  Or cut out their tongue.  Seriously!
Madness indeed.

So, due to these novels, I always had an irrational and rabid fear (haha, couldn't help myself), of mad dogs.  But I didn't actively think about it, until a few years ago, when I was in Greece on a college tour, and it confronted me head on.
We were in Delphi to see the Oracle, and it is a charming little village.

Me on the Main Street in Delphi, having fun! This was taken RIGHT BEFORE the attack..

I was wandering the shops on Main Street with friends as the sun was setting, and saw a model of Ancient Delphi standing on a table next to the sidewalk.  I absolutely love models, so I trotted on over to have a looksie, and then suddenly there was a deep, throaty growl coming from under the table.
It was some ominous shit, as my best friend would say.

And there were 2 wild dogs under there, in heat, and the male was psychotically protective and came at me, jaws snapping, and literally tried to claw his way up my body in order to get at my jugular.
You guys, it was HORRIFYING.  My blood ran cold, and all that.  It really does happen.

And flashing through my mind was not my life, but those DAMN MAD DOGS OF LITERATURE!
I felt my heart crying out for Atticus Finch and his crackshot rifle, and thought "I don't want to die like Tea Cake!" and I swear to God my literary knowledge helped save me.

Because knowing the threat of the Mad Dog from being a bookworm, I knew I could not let this wild dog with the festering eyes and filthy scalp bite me.  So I became my own Atticus Finch and proceeded to beat the shit out of him.
Some of the carnage.. I still have scars.
He had sunk his dirty claws into my skin (they punctured right through the cotton skirt I was wearing) and was snapping at my neck.  I was screaming and everyone around my was screaming but no one wanted to get involved for fear the dog would turn on them.  I saw my opportunity in his exposed stomach, and sunk my knee into it hard.  Then I kicked and screamed and swung my purse into his neck and looked into that dog's mad-looking eyes and tried to appear as intimidating as possible.
And it worked.
Yes, I walked away from that battle (as Henley would say) "bloody but unbowed!"

But I did look a fright.  White skirt, dripping with red blood, myself sweaty and shaking and in shock.
They wanted me hospitalized from the deep scratches the dog made in my thighs, but because Delphi is so tiny all they had there was a little pharmacy.  We talked about an airlift to the city to get shots, but I didn't even begin to wonder how, as a student in a foreign country where I didn't speak the language, could work out at all. And since the dog was dirty and wild, but not likely rabid, we went to the pharmacy instead, where a funny little skit occurred: Me speaking English to the Italian tour guide, her trying Greek (and terrible sign language) to the pharmacist, and eventually another Italian-speaking Greek getting involved.  In the end they gave me the strongest antibiotics they carried, and made me promise to get shots, or go to the hospital if my eyes turned red or something (the translations here were not precise).
When I finally joined the rest of the group for dinner, they bought me an entire jug of wine to myself to celebrate my successfully taking on a vicious street dog, and I washed down the pills with it.
The entire box was in Greek... I'm still not sure what medication I took.  But it worked.

And after crying to Eli about Tea Cake and his morbid death at the teeth of the rabid dog, I remembered what happened in Delphi, and how Tea Cake (and Atticus Finch) helped me defend myself, and my story came full circle.  Thanks, guys.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Field Trip: a photo journal + the 15 steps of a CT scan!

Here is what I did today:
First I lounged in bed, swathed in blankets and Vicks vapor rub. Then I had several glasses of tea, watched the birds at the feeder, nibbled some muffins, took an Alka Seltzer, and got ready to go to the hospital in the middle of a snow storm for a CT scan.
[Note: I didn't have food/drink 2 hours before the CT scan, per instructions from the hospital!]

The following are instructions on how I've goes about getting a CT scan in a snow storm...

1. Wear something warm that will be easy to take off (since you'll be stripping to get the hospital gown on).

2. Bring a touch stone.
This is something reassuring and personal to you.
CT scans may not be terribly upsetting to most other people, but because I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that is tied to the hospital, and medical-type stuff, I have to think about these things.
I don't wear jewelry to CT scans because you have to take it off anyway--I just wore my wedding ring and brought my locket as my touch stone.
It was my Great Great Aunt Ruth's and has pictures of her and my Great Great Grandmother in it, my Great Aunt, and my Grandma Marian that I was named after.
And I also slipped the quote that keeps me going in there--
"when you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on."

3. Go outside and gasp at all the snow !
Yes, it is Utah, and we get snow here.
But after last winter being so dry, this is unexpected.
And wonderful  !! We get snow here, but not typically 2 days of it nonstop.

This white lump you see before you is my car, with half a foot of snow on it!
And those black specks you see in the background are birds-- a huge flock was flying round and round, enjoying the weather, as I came outside to scrape off my car.
It was gorgeous.

Steps 4,5,6...
MARVEL at the snow.
Relish how it looks like and feels like the foam on top of your bubble bath, how you can toss it in the air and watch it float down like a fistful of powdered sugar.
Notice how it sticks to your eyelashes.

Laugh at the morons on Facebook that put on an update every 30 minutes bitching about the snow.  How the plows aren't out, how cold and miserable it is, wahwahwah.  Are they really surprised?
We live in Utah, people.  Where they had the WINTER OLYMPICS.
You wanna bitch about the cold, go to Russia.

These are the same people that were whining about the nasty inversion last week--going "I'm sick of breathing in sludge, it is so cold and gross, we need a big storm to clear out the air."
And the big storm comes, and they complain about that.

I, on the other hand, like to giggle like a kindergartner when the snow rolls up over my boots and nearly floods into my jeans.

Here I am, wiping the frame around my car door (so when I open it, it doesn't fall right into my seat...I've leaned this lesson every winter the hard way)--I wanted to share this picture so you can see how deep it is!


Take your time driving to the hospital.
For some reason, I have not seen any snow plows this winter.  So the roads are very icy, which means a 10 minute drive has now turned into a 50 minute tedium on an ice-skating rink.
I left an hour early for the hospital (which is only a few blocks away), and it took me a while to find a parking spot, since most of them weren't plowed.
Then I sat in my car and took some deep breaths, warmed my hands, and listened to some Tom Petty for a few minutes to calm myself and get ready for the hike into the hospital.

This may sound like psychotic overreaction to you, but trust me, it is the PTSD.
And.... I did this trip by myself!! My husband and Dad could both have accompanied me, but I wanted to go in alone. And I did it.  Booooo!

#8 Remember where you parked.  Because it is waaaaaaay out there.

 Look at the sun! 

Still snowing...

#9  Hang out in the waiting room with everyone else getting stuff done, from colonoscopies to MRIs...

Get frustrated that 3/4 of the magazines available have Taylor Swift on the cover with titles like "WHY DIDN'T IT LAST?" and such.  Really?  It doesn't last because her M.O. is dating guys and causing problems in the relationship as a means to an end: her songwriting.
Isn't this common knowledge...?
I'm still not over her using that poor Kennedy kid.
Obviously people are more prone to date the Kennedys over the summer (they're in it for the free yacht rides) but did she really have to dump him at the end of August?  Couldn't she have at least tried to make it last as long as her tan, and go until September, just to avoid the cliche "summer fling"?

10.  Fill out the paperwork.
And at the bottom it tells you they'll probably give you a pregnancy test anyway.
Talk about redundant! And they asked me 3 times in person again.  I actually said "yes, I have gotten knocked up in the 10 minutes since I filled out the paperwork that said I am not pregnant."
Luckily I had a nurse with a sense of humor.

11.  Put on your gown.
They made me take out my hair tie since it had metal in it.  BIG MISTAKE.

 The gratuitous gown shot.  I'm covering myself like that because we all know that these thin little numbers don't leave ANYTHING to the imagination.

12. Wait in the interior waiting room (like a VIP section, where everyone is nearly naked...not because it is a true VIP section in a trashy nightclub, but rather because you are all wearing the crappy hospital gowns).
Again grumble about the Taylor Swift articles in every. single. magazine.
Does the American public really care this much about a flighty little pop star?

I had to put all my stuff (phone included) in a locker at this point, since you can't bring it into the scan room.

13.  Go into the scanning room.  There you will see the CT scanner, which looks like a bed with a huge plastic donut around it.
They'll lie you down, give you an IV, and flush it with saline.
Weird enough, you can TASTE things as they move through your IV, and into your veins.  Yuck.
Then they position you and you don't move as the bed slides into the donut hole and they snap a picture of two.

14. Contrast.
Not every CT uses contrast, it depends on what the doctor wants to see.
My ENT wants to look at the soft tissue in my jaw to see what's going on in there and why I have a swollen lump under my chin.  A CT shows much more than a regular x-ray (CT stands for Computed Tomography, in case you were wondering), and an MRI shows a bit more than a CT.
But MRIs are loud and excruciatingly long, so I would take a CT any day over an MRI!
So they inject contrast (which is basically iodine) through your IV.
I was hooked up to a machine that looked like something you use for euthanasia, and it automatically put the contrast in my system.  Then it was back into the donut for more images.

Contrast is a bizarre thing because it BURNS.  Not in a "please God no I'm BURNING! NOT LIKE THIS!!!!!" way, but in a super-heated, uncomfortable and strange way.
It hits your vein and you feel a little warm and it isn't unpleasant.  Then it floods your system and your crotch feels like you put it under a heat lamp and you think you'll pee yourself (even if you've just gone to the bathroom 2 minutes ago), and your chest and extremities just feel weird--like you've been in a hot desert for 3 hours and there is no shade in sight!

Luckily, if the radiologist knows what they're doing, they snap the images quickly and get you out, and the super-heated feeling soon subsides.
But until you've experienced it for yourself, you cannot grasp that feeling.  Oh contrast.
We're old friends, but it still freaks me the hell out, makes me heart pound, and all that PTSD stuff.

But considering, I did a damn fine job yesterday.  We get the results in 4 days.

15. I rewarded myself with those mint Creamies that are dipped in!
 Never fear, mine weren't reduced fat.  ;)