Friday, August 22, 2008

Pressing Question

Okay, have you ever been surfing around lazily on the Internet, leaning forward at your desk with your chin in your hand, gazing languidly at the screen? And have you ever been startled out of your reverie by sudden strange movements from your cursor, flipping out and moving all over the place, seemingly spontaneously with no help or direction from you? And have you ever been on the verge of panic, thinking 1) a restless spirit is trying to communicate something from the beyond or 2) you don't know how but you've totally broken the computer and your husband, who just had a buddy completely overhaul the thing as a favor when instead he could have charged you an arm and a leg for the service, is going to kill you?

And then have you sat up in alarm only to realize your left breast was pressing the space bar?

No? Just me? Okay then.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Can Explain

Well, I promised an explanation so here is what I hope will not be a feeble attempt at it. But I really must advise you to get comfy because this could take a while. I'll wait while you get a drink and use the loo. Maybe you should grab a blanket and an energy bar? Maybe an emergency flare? Ready? Okay, good.

So, I don't know if you know this, but 2 years ago I started a blog, The Knut Hut. It started out as one thing and then morphed into another (basically a venue for me to amuse myself). There was a time when a day didn't go by that I didn't feel the itch to patter my fingers across my keyboard, the compusion to check if any comments had been left, the burning desire to see if my favorite fellow bloggers had posted anything new. I loved that little blog; it amused me, made me think, made me laugh, made me cry, provided me an outlet for expressing my thoughts, feelings, and random silliness without a word of reproach or dissent. It also provided me with a glimpse into the lives of others I will never meet who are living their own lives the best way they know how, getting through each day with their own measure of humor and grit. I felt smart, creative, funny, welcome and productive. I felt I belonged to something.

Well, I didn't know what it was, but about a year ago, something starting stealing my mojo. It happened kind of gradually, and looking back now I can see it really started even before I began my blog, but slowly I began to lose interest in all the things I used to love. And my blog was no exception.

In my despair, I childishly blamed my beloved blog. It had to be the blog's fault! It had failed me! What I needed was a new blog! One that would let me sparkle and thrill always! So I started a new one, a kinder, gentler one. One in which I pretended to NOT be a dork (you see I had assumed that my first blog has just gotten way too dorky for anyone's good and was causing all my problems). Dorkiness was not to be allowed in this cleaner, tidier, more grown-up blog.

Well, you can imagine how that went. I am too much of a dork and too little grown-up for that to have been a raging success. And I began to see that it wasn't the innocent blogs, it was me. And I suddenly realized that blogging, that activitiy which had become dearest to my heart, had become like everything else in my life at the time, a chore and a burden.

I lost contact with people I had begun to consider friends, just dropped them flat. I let the first blog languish for over six months and kept the second barely afloat with the most insipid, banal, vapid posts imaginable. It was rather dispiriting.

So, what, you may ask, has brought me back to the land of the living bloggers? Glad you asked my friend, glad you asked. Turns out, I have a glandular problem! All of it can be blamed on my oversized, underactive thyroid! Do you believe it?

A year ago, my doctor found my thyroid was enlarged and had a nodule in it. I think I even blogged about it (yep, I did, here and here). For a variety of reasons, I waited an entire year before seeing a specialist about it (don't scold me, it wasn't entirely my fault). A few months ago, I had a repeat ultrasound (after my doctor took care of scolding me) which determined my thyroid was even bigger and the nodule had grown to become a mass joined by several other smaller nodules. I was ordered to have a biopsy immediately. Say it with me, Yikes!

I had suspected for a while that I might be hypothyroid (you know, I really need to determine once and for all which is more proper: being hypothyroid or having hypothyroid. Or maybe it's having a hypothyroid? I'll get right on that). Once the prospect of cancer loomed, even so very distantly, on my horizon, I began to do research. Turns out I have nearly every symptom of hypothyroid. And, after reading a few testimonials from other patients, I suddenly realized my symptoms had been steadily getting worse over the past two years, the past year especially. I have spent the last two years plodding through my life like a mack truck has been strapped to my back, like I've been half asleep. It was all I could do to keep my children fed, safe and reasonably clean this past year. It took every ounce of strength and energy I had and I suffered greatly every minute. I don't think anyone can truly understand unless they've been through something like it.

I finally got to an endocrinologist for that biopsy. And the tumor is benign, thank God. While talking to the specialist I became more aware than ever of how many symptoms I have had for years. So even though all my blood work came back normal, doc put me on a daily dose of thyroid hormone to shrink everything back to normal size and see if I feel better.

And do I ever! I feel like Rip Van Winkle, like I have finally woken up after being asleep half my life. I can sleep at night, and when I wake, I feel rested. I wake up smiling and happy, not dreading the drudgery before me. I accomplish my housework, my chores, my responsibilities with the children with peace, almost serenity. I am noticing things I never did before. Have the birds always sung like that throughout the day? Has the air always smelled so fresh? Has a cup of tea always tasted like this? I'm alive again and I cannot believe I suffered so long the way I did.

I may still have a long road ahead of me. According to my blood work, my thyroid is functioning normally. My thyroid levels have always appeared normal, which is why I never seriously considered I might have thyroid issues. But, in my research I have found that many patients with hypothyroid have perfectly normal-looking lab work. Something needs to be done about the way this is tested, don't you think? I have to go back to the doctor in three months to see if everything that needs to have shrunk has shrunk. And if it has, I'm afraid he's going to tell me I don't need to take the medication anymore and I'm going to throw myself into traffic. But let's not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?

Now, what does this have to do with my blog? My interest in the things I used to love has come back. I'm puttering around the house again, cleaning things I don't have to clean, researching recipes I've never made before, planning way ahead of time for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas (how I hated those Holidays last year--yes, even Halloween was a drag). My mind has cleared, my wit has returned, my reason has been restored. And on top of the medication, I'm on a low-carb hypothyroid diet that seems to have singlehandedly solved my hypoglycemia.

So, I'm back. And I'm feeling gooooooood! I decided a fresh start was in order, rather than simply restarting my first blog back up again. Besides, there were some things about the second one I really liked and decided to incorporate into this new one. So here it is. I've heard good things about WordPress and am looking forward to getting back into my groove.

I've got my mojo back, baby, yeah!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Hostage Situation

This is why I don't buy nice things.

Let's start at the beginning: last winter, December of 2007 to be exact. I decided to buy myself a new winter coat because my old one was literally falling apart (because I was a skinflint and decided to buy the cheapest one I could find, but that's another story...or not because it's really boring).

I wound up finding a good, warm coat that fit me rather well and didn't make me look like The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. And it happened to be on sale and I got to save lots of lovely money even though I didn't set out to.

I saved so much money I decided, quite uncharacteristically of me, to buy a second coat, a dressy coat. I went to Macy's and found a suede car coat that looked great on me and, miracle of miracles, was on sale. So I bought it. It was the most expensive thing I had bought for myself in a long time, even with the sale price, but I looked at it like an investment and reasoned I would only be wearing it for special occasions.

Fast forward to early Spring. Vance Excalibur, my freaky genius of a brother-in-law, earned himself a PhD in Chemistry from Penn State. The whole family gathered to celebrate the event by having dinner at a fancy restaurant. I wore my best clothes, including my suede coat.

For reasons I can't remember, I draped the coat on the back of my chair, instead of depositing it somewhere safe. Is that enough foreshadowing for you? Can you just guess what happened? During the course of the meal, a waitress stumbled while giving Daria her martini and sloshed half of it all over my chair, giving my precious suede coat a good alcoholic dousing.

Typical, I thought, just typical. The one time I buy something expensive for myself and take great pains to keep it clean and good condition, being very careful not to wear it at frat parties, dance raves or in close proximity to my children or the dog and still, somehow, it gets booze thrown all over it. I left with the address and phone number of the restaurant and the assurance from the manager that I would be reimbursed for my dry cleaning bill, but I was bitter.

A few weeks ago, The Viking needed a suit cleaned for an interview. I decided to try a new dry cleaner near our home. As I was running out the door, somehow, I remembered to grab the suede coat. I showed the stains to the young woman behind the counter, she explained she would do the best she could but because the fabric was suede, the stains might not come out completely. I paid the $38, tucked the receipt securely in my wallet for mailing to the restaurant and left the shop.

A few days later, The Viking's suit was finished, but the coat was not. I picked the suit up without incident. Then Dharma and Vance came to visit, then Man-Cub and I went to Chicago and I temporarily forgot about the coat. Today, I suddenly remembered I needed to pick it up. It hasn't been there even a month yet so I wasn't worried, but I was not prepared for what I found when I got to the shop.

They were closed. Okay, it was 5:30, some shops do keep ridiculous hours, even though I would assume the majority of people pick up their dry cleaning on their way home from work, but what do I know? But closer inspection revealed a much bigger problem.

It seems the store is closed indefinitely and for unknown reasons. There was a hand-lettered sign that said, "Call Landlord --- --- ----". And there were notes posted all over the door from disgruntled customer saying things like, "I NEED MY CLOTHES! I CAN SEE THEM THROUGH THE WINDOW!" There were even signs posted on the doors of shops next door, saying, "We do not know ANYTHING about the dry cleaners next door!"


So now what do I do? It seems this coat and I are doomed. Are the gods punishing me for splurging on myself? Is it proof that it was a foolish purchase? Oooh, maybe the coat is cursed, and that's why the store closed down! Maybe I don't want it back...

What recourse do I have here? I have a feeling calling that phone number is going to get me nowhere. There isn't any way the restaurant is responsible for reimbursing me for the entire coat, is there? Of course, I can still get the money back for what I paid to clean the hostage garment, but it irritates me that I may never even see it again!

Maybe I need to call the news? Where is 3 On Your Side when you need it?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Sigh of Relief

So it would appear I have no need to get my affairs in order and take the kids on that trip to England I always promised myself I would take if I found out I had mere months to live.

I really don't want this post to be all about this overgrown, under-active thing in my neck, but let's just get this all out of the way, shall we?

My doctor's visit was encouraging on several levels. I liked him: he asked many questions, many of them very specific, he looked intently into my eyes while I answered (I felt a wee bit uneasy, as if he were using Legilimency on me), wrote everything down and took all my reported symptoms seriously. He drew blood, checked my blood sugar levels (normal at the time) right then and there, went over my ultrasound films and lab report with me and scheduled my biopsy.

He was straightforward, gentle and undramatic. And, most of all, he assured me I have no reason to be worried, let alone panic. He actually said I should feel free to reduce the amount of anxiety and tension I have been experiencing over this. SIGH. Of course, I won't relax completely until the biopsy results come back, but I have felt much, much better since Thursday last.

I have a good-sized nodule in the right lobe of my thyroid. Now that he showed me where it is, I can feel it with my fingers. I also have three little nodules on the left lobe, but he dismissed those as unimpressive. And my entire thyroid, right lobe, left lobe and isthmus, is enlarged.

The biopsy results will determine our course of action. If the mass is benign, I will take medication to reduce its size. If it is malignant, I will NOT PANIC (doctor's orders), have the thyroid removed in same-day surgery (can you believe that, same day?), take a shot of radioactive iodine in pill form and take thyroid medication the rest of my life.

Doctor says we also need to take care of my symptoms, which we will tackle once all the results of all the tests are in. Something is making me feel like this, we just don't know yet what it is.

Okay, that's over and done with for now. Our only other news is Redheaded Snippet is away at camp this week and the house is, once again, way too quiet without her. She's in the big-girl section of camp for the first time this year, which was quite sobering as I remember looking at those big girls the first year we dropped her off and thinking it would be eons before my little Snippet was that grown up. ACK! Man-Cub is a bit mopey as he feels she gets to do all the fun things and he never gets to go anything so I'm faced with the challenge of filling his sister-free days with new, exciting and fun things that are also cheap. Hmmm...maybe we'll rent all the Star Wars movies and make caramel corn and hot chocolate and have a marathon. Maybe I can get The Viking to pitch the tent in the back yard and have a camp-out night with him. We'll see.

Right. I must be off. I have to do some shopping as we are out of bread, milk, eggs, peanut butter, cereal, granola bars, not to mention things to cook dinner with. Man-Cub and I had frozen waffles for breakfast and lunch today because it has taken me this long to get myself mobilized and out of the house. What? I had to strip the beds and get the duvet covers and mattress pads washed and on the clothesline before I left! And I can't go to the store without a list! And I can't make a list without going through the circulars and my coupon file! Everything in my life is a production and you should know that by now.

Ooh! And I must make sure I have all the necessary ingredients to make cookies to send to Redheaded Snippet tomorrow. She specifically asked for a care package and guilt-tripped me by telling me she is the only camper who has never gotten a package from home in the entire 6 summers she's been there. So I must have several dozen cookies in the mail by tomorrow or it won't arrive before we pick her up Saturday. I'm thinking sugar cookies. Chocolate will melt and I don't think she likes peanut butter so sugar it will be.

Off to brave the traffic and after-work shoppers...