Thursday, August 31, 2006

"Have a nice winter!"

That's the last thing Dr. Hayman said to us as we left the appointment yesterday. If everything continues to turn out like it did yesterday, then we will!

My M-spike is still holding steady at 4.2, which is exactly where it was on July 5. My x-rays were all completely fine: no lesions, no change since December. My hemoglobin (iron level) is down just another tiny bit at 11.8 (normal range is 12.0 - 15.5), but Dr. Hayman says she's not too concerned about that yet. She said I could try taking an extra vitamin or iron pill to see if that helps. If the myeloma is causing the anemia, however, I could take all the iron I wanted and it wouldn't do any good. I've been plagued by low iron for years, though, so it's totally possible it's just my failure to eat red meat and not the myeloma. We'll see. Everything else I was tested for (kidney and liver function, calcium level, white cell counts, platelets, etc.,) was completely normal.

Because I'm holding steady for now, I'm going to continue my two-month doctor visits here in Kansas City through the winter, and we won't go back to Mayo until the spring, unless, of course, something bad crops up in my tests. Dr. H gave me a form to give to Dr. Great and Powerful Oz so he can fax her all of my results and she can review them in Minnesota without us having to go up there every time. I just called Dr. GPO's office to make my next appointment; I go in on Nov. 6.

And here's the most joyous news of all: Dr. Hayman says I can stop the Pee Pod tests for now!!! YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!! How I have waited for this day.

So ... it was the best we could have hoped for. After July's scary appointment and the need for more x-rays, I honestly thought that this appointment was going to be The Big One -- the appointment where everything went ka-plooey in my bone marrow. Now I have at least a two-month reprieve from going ka-plooey. Big sigh of relief.

Oh, and the physical therapist's office called about WCB's appointment. They can't get her in until the end of September! I figure she'll either be walking by then and we can cancel, or she'll be a non-walking 16-and-a-half-month-old and we'll be freaking out, so it works either way.

Now I'm off to have a nice winter.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Happiness Hotel

If you ever have to go to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, DO NOT stay at the Days Inn downtown. I picked it because it was a little cheaper than our last hotel and is within walking distance of the clinic. It had the Most. Uncomfortable. Bed. Ever. I'm counting the mattress that Jay and I bought at Sam's Club when we were first married. As Jay and I huddled in the sinkhole that was our mattress, I said, "Do you remember the hotel that Kermit and Fozzie stayed at in The Great Muppet Caper?"

"YES!" said Jay. "YES! THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THIS HOTEL IS LIKE!"

Well, except for the singing muppets and the cool double-decker bus.

We're sitting here in the waiting area on the 10th floor of the Gonda Building. My appointment with the doctor is in about an hour and a half. I had all of the tests this morning, including the x-rays.

When you have x-rays here, men go through one door and women go through another. Then you're shown to a changing-room area so you can put on a gown. They call you back in groups of four, and then they ask each person to give her birthday, just so they know they have the right person. I was the only person in my group not born in the 1930s. I was the only person not starting conversations with the words, "Betty and I were driving home from our bridge group, and ..."

Then they give you something to change into, depending on what you're going to have x-rayed. I noticed the others in my group either got just a gown or just a pair of shorts. I, on the other hand, had to go the Full Monty and put on a gown, an enormous pair of green shorts, and some little green slippers made out of foam. The slippers had happy faces on the toes. Maybe I should have asked if I could keep them, because they were kind of fun.

My x-ray techs were a little cranky and kept snapping at each other. Obviously, they did not take the time to look at my happy-face toes. I had to get A LOT of x-rays, and many of them involved very weird positions. ("Now put your arms over your head, bend your knees, and roll over on your side." "Now put your nose and your forehead up against this board.") I have to say, though, that the x-ray table was much more comfortable than the bed last night.

So now we wait. The waiting room is really filling up. Once again, I appear to be the only person around here not born in the 1930s.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Here we are at Mayo ...

Jay, the Pee Pod, and I made it here tonight after a long drive. WCB is at home with her grandparents, and I miss her, I miss her, I miss her. I've already called home twice. My mom claims that WCB said "G'night!" tonight at the end of her Goodnight, Duckling book. I'm so sad I missed it. At least I did not throw up in the hotel parking lot again. Plus, we have cable at the hotel, and I'm watching pre-crazy Tom Cruise in Top Gun, which is one of my guilty-pleasure favorites. Never, ever leave your wingman.

Here was the best bumper sticker we saw on the way: Republicans for Voldemort.

Heh. You have to be a Democrat and a nerd to appreciate it. Fortunately, I am both.

Tomorrow starts early with Pee Pod dropoff, a blood draw, and x-rays. We meet with Dr. Hayman around 2:30, and then we'll head out right after that. I'll try to get my results posted here on Thursday. Wish me luck.

G'night!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Contested Development: Season Two

I forgot to post this piece of news yesterday: WCB had her 15-month checkup, and Dr. Nervous Nellie wants her to see a physical therapist at the children's hospital to figure out why she's not walking yet.

Because I don't have enough doctors' appointments in my life. Because I don't have enough to worry about. At least now I can worry primarily about WCB needing physical therapy instead of my own fatal disease. Yeah. Good. Fine. The therapist is supposed to call in the next couple of weeks.

Maybe they can give us some help, though, because I really would like her to walk. She has to walk by Halloween, because she is going to be Dorothy, and there is no crawling allowed on the Yellow Brick Road. They're ruby slippers, not ruby knee pads.

Dr. NN said it could be as simple as a confidence issue: WCB is physically able to walk -- she just doesn't know that she can. Now, look at this child. Does this look like a child with a confidence issue?



OK, don't answer that.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Great-Grandma

My great-grandma passed away yesterday. She would have been 102 years old in October. Her mind started to go a few years ago and the past few years were difficult for her, but I will always remember all of the stories she used to tell us when we were growing up. She grew up on a farm in rural Missouri, and she'd tell us about riding her pony to school in town. Of course, my sister and I thought getting to ride a pony to elementary school would have been the Coolest Thing Ever, but Great-Grandma said she was so embarrassed. None of the city kids had to ride ponies to school.

The story we'd always beg for was the Old Blue Story. It's a pretty horrible story, actually. Great-Grandma's dad gave her some chicks to raise so she could sell them and afford to go to high school in town. No one else in her family had ever been to high school, so it was a pretty big deal. Then one day, her sister Helen's cat, Old Blue, killed a few of the chicks. Grandma warned her to keep the cat away from the chicks, but, no, he got to them again. That's when Grandma and her other sister, Dora, put Old Blue in a bag and threw him in the pond and drowned him.

See? I told you. Horrible. But my sister and I found it fascinating. Before you get the wrong idea, know that my grandma really was an animal lover and a kind and gentle lady. She just really, really, really wanted to go to high school.

I think my favorite story, though, is the one about how she and Great-Grandpa eloped. Great-Grandma started teaching in a one-room school house when she was 16, just like Laura Ingalls Wilder. When she was 19, she and Grandpa decided to run off and elope over Christmas vacation. The school board was going to fire her because
A) Nobody would elope in the middle of the school year unless she had to get married and
B) Married women couldn't be teachers.

Grandma had to get her landlady to go before the school board and testify that she was a nice girl and didn't have to get married. They let her finish out the school year, but then she had to quit because of the whole married-woman thing. She did eventually go back to teaching and taught second grade in Omaha for many years.

I feel very lucky that I got to grow up around her. WCB is named after her, and they got to meet last summer. Not many people come face to face with their great-great grandchildren.

Great-Grandma was my age in 1935. World War II hadn't started. There was no TV. Could she have imagined that her great-granddaughter would be writing about her on something called the Internet?

Anyway. We'll be back on the road tomorrow, headed up to Omaha for the funeral. Then we'll be home for about a day and a half and head up to Mayo already on Tuesday. Time flies.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A scary home companion

I received the following comment from Amanda about my last entry:

"LOL...Tom Brokaw in the cereal aisle...too funny. But do you think that he's a Count Chocula man or a Frankenberry man?"

Hmm. Actually, now that I think it over, I'd think that he'd go for a no-nonsense kind of cereal. A full-of-fiber, made-for-a-man, tastes-like-sawdust, fair-and-balanced kind of cereal. That's just my own personal theory, though. If anyone else has ideas about what Tom Brokaw eats for breakfast, please weigh in.

Amanda's mention of Frankenberry, though, reminded me of something I meant to post to the blog months ago. One day I was at the grocery store, and I noticed that Frankenberry looks just like Garrison Keillor. You be the judge:





I kept my amazing discovery under wraps, because the first and only person I told -- Jay -- thought I was completely insane. Then when I was searching for images for this blog entry, I discovered that the woman who created Frankenberry for General Mills is also a writer for A Prairie Home Companion. AH HA!! Coincidence? I think not.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Crankton, South Dakota

The name of the town is actually Yankton, South Dakota. My friend DeAnna, who now lives in Minneapolis, grew up there. When she was back for a visit a few months ago, she found herself at the store, pushing a grocery cart behind a particularly cranky woman.

"Yankton?" DeAnna said loudly. "They should call it Crankton!"

And we have been calling it Crankton ever since.

Disclaimer: Actions of above-mentioned cranky woman do not reflect the attitudes of the other good citizens of Yankton. In fact, Yankton is the hometown of former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, and I can't imagine him ever becoming cranky while grocery shopping. Can't you see him strolling down the aisle, wearing a casual turtleneck, pausing to look at a box of Count Chocula and then chuckling knowingly, like he always did after a light-hearted news piece, such as a feature on a water-skiing squirrel?

Anyway. This is why I haven't posted in a while. We were spending some time in Crankton.

Jay's grandma (that would be WCB's great-grandma) turned 90, so there was a nice party at her house; lots of friends and family arrived to wish her well. We also went to the annual Riverboat Days Parade downtown. All of those noisy Shriner cars and honking fire trucks were a little bit scary for poor WCB, but at least we kept her away from the guy in the giant chicken costume. That would have added hundreds of dollars to her future therapy bill.

Now we're all home, and WCB was so exhausted from all of the excitement that she slept in until 8 a.m. today. Yay, Crankton!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ah, music to my rear! *

* I was trying to think of a funny line from MASH, and this was the only one that popped into my head, probably because my sister and I laughed about it for days and days. Charles was playing his French horn, and Hawkeye walked into the tent and said, "Ah, music to my rear!" Still cracks me up.

Anyway.

I got two more entries in my Fantasy Doctor Game. Keep sending them in if you got 'em, folks. My sister said:

Okay, you mentioned Hawkeye Pierce in one of your posts. And as cool as that would be, I'd hate to be in a hospital in a war zone. Somehow, having bombs fall on you as you recover would complicate things. So, as an alternative, I'd go to the hospital where they all went after the war. Remember the very short-lived "After MASH"? Heh, if humor is the best medicine, how about having Corporal Klinger run around your room in a dress?

And who doesn't love Klinger?



A few years ago when we were still living in Minnesota, Jay and I went to a St. Paul Saints (minor league) baseball game. Because it's minor league, they have to do all of these crazy stunts to get people interested. For example, every season they'll get a cute little piggy, give him a cute name such as Hammy Davis Junior or Kevin Bacon, and then have him do tricks between innings. Then, when the season is over, they'll have a big barbecue ... and eat him. Nice.

The night that we went was MASH-theme night. For example, they actually flew the ball in on a helicopter. They landed it on the field, and a group of people dressed as MASH characters ran out to the helicopter with a stretcher, put the ball on the stretcher, and then ran it back out for the first pitch. It was all very fun, but when we first arrived, I didn't realize it was MASH night. I did notice, however, that the man taking our tickets was wearing a dress.

I spent quite a long time thinking to myself, "Well. Good for him. Good for him that he's comfortable enough with himself to wear his dress to his job as a ticket-taker. And good for the St. Paul Saints organization for not minding that he wears his dress to his job as a ticket-taker. Good for them. Good for him. Good for everyone! This almost makes up for the pig-eating. Peace on earth!"

Yeah. Turns out he was just Klinger.

Moving on: My brother-in-law voted for Dr. Nick Riviera from The Simpsons:




He'd be on my list, too! Not only does he provide inexpensive medical care, but he successfully put Homer on the gain-60-pounds diet. "Instead of chewing gum, chew bacon!"

Hmm. This whole post has me craving a pork product of some kind.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

More TV celebrities

In the last couple of days, two very important people were on TV talking about cancer. The first was DavidE, a fellow blogger who was on a local talk show here in Kansas City talking about prostate cancer. I missed the live show, but was able to watch the video of it online. He did a great job talking about the disease and helping to raise awareness. He seemed so relaxed in front of the cameras. I'm glad there are people out there like this, because if I had to go on TV and talk about cancer ... well, does anyone remember when Cindy Brady got to go on that game show and then completely freaked out as soon as the red light turned on on the camera? That would be me.

Anyway, the video is no longer available online, but David is hoping to put up his own video on his blog soon, so check back.

Last night, NBC Nightly News featured Kathy Giusti, founder of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. Giusti was diagnosed with myeloma 10 years ago, when she was in her mid-30s. She and her sister started the foundation a couple of years later, which has since raised over $60 million for myeloma research. It's also changed the way research is conducted so that new drugs can be developed faster. Thanks in part to the MMRF, there have been three new myeloma drugs introduced in the past five years. The news story was great; you can read it and watch the video here.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV

Thanks to the three additional people who played my Fantasy Doctor game. I guess there are a few people out there who aren't too busy fantasizing about George Clooney. Hey, anyone remember when he was on The Facts of Life?



Rad!

Anyway. Yvette said her dream doctor is Matthew McConaughey, who played a doctor in The Wedding Planner. I say it doesn't matter if he's playing a doctor or not; he eases the pain.



Next, Rachel voted for Dr. Greene from E.R.


Ah, Dr. Greene. He was somewhat nerdy looking, at least in the world of TV doctors, so you knew that he was really smart. I've had this theory for a long time, ever since a young, good-looking dentist wanted to take out my wisdom teeth several years ago. He didn't even go by his last name. He went by "Dr. Luke."

"I want someone who looks like he studied in dental school," I told anyone who would listen. "Not someone who looks like he spent all of his time chasing women and serving as kegmeister of his fraternity." Nobody bought my argument. The teeth came out. I'm a really terrible dental patient.

Anyway. Poor Dr. Greene. Too bad about that killer brain tumor, as well as that killer plane crash in Top Gun. It wasn't Mav's fault, even though he blamed himself.

Finally, DavidE suggested the cast of St. Elsewhere.



I never watched this show. I think maybe it was on past my bedtime, or maybe it was on opposite Alf. Remember Alf? He's back. In blog form.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Get a haircut and get a real job

After months of denial, I finally admitted to myself that WCB needed a haircut. Desperately. The back of her hair is all cute little curls, but the front part was long and straight and hanging right into her eyes. She was starting to look like Sawyer on Lost.

I took her to a special hair salon for babies. Laugh if you must, but ... OK, I can't think of a way to finish that sentence. All of the chairs for the little kids are shaped like airplanes or cars, and each hair-cutting station has a TV screen and a DVD player so the kids can watch Elmo while their hair is being cut. The stylist tried to get WCB to sit in a little airplane, but she (WCB, not the stylist) panicked and clung to me like a little monkey. In the end, WCB and I both put on matching pink smocks, and she sat on my lap in a big-kid chair. We watched The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland and got the stylist to take some fun mother-daughter pictures. When it was over, we got a special "Baby's First Haircut" certificate with before and after photos and a baggie of her curls.

Now she has these sweet little bangs that go across her forehead. It reminds me a little of the hairdo that Hayley Mills had in The Parent Trap. I think she also looks way older. She could get a fake ID that says she's 18 months, and nobody would bat an eye. She could go into a store and buy whole milk for her 10-month-old cousin.

I can't show you the actual before and after photos, since I never publish photos of WCB, so you'll have to rely on these visual aids. They are surprisingly accurate.

Before:



After:

Monday, August 07, 2006

Excuse me, sir. Is this the Delta house?

After much discussion, Jay and I decided that Warren Buffett could use some more money, so we ordered a new couch and loveseat from Nebraska Furniture Mart over the weekend. We've had our old set since before we got married, and it's all worn out and holy, and not in a blessed-by-a-priest kind of way. It's also had numerous, um, encounters with various baby body fluids. I won't go into more details just in case you've actually sat on our couch in the past. You might want to go take a shower now.

We ordered the optional stain-protection treatment for the new couch. That's $84 well spent, I say.

Side note: I did once own a couch that was even grosser than that one. I bought it from the Goodwill for my first apartment in college. Total price: $11. I spent weeks spraying it with various "odor neutralizers" and finally decided to keep it covered with a quilt at all times. I sold it at a yard sale two years later for $20. A profit deal.

Anyway. The new furniture arrives on Friday, so we had to figure out how to get the old stuff out of the way. Last night, we decided to haul the old couch out the front door, down the lawn, and through the back door into the basement. Once we squeezed it out the front door, we paused for a moment, thinking we should just leave the couch out on the lawn and pretend we live at a fraternity house. Jay and I would be the lowly pledges; WCB would order us around and whack us with paddles. That's pretty much how our household functions anyway, so why not add the convenience of an outdoor couch and throw in some booze?

In the end, we disbanded the frat and moved the couch into the basement. Not bad for someone whose bones could fall apart at any second. I felt like I should give my doctor a call. "Why do you need to do x-rays? I can carry a couch down my lawn." I mean, really, let's review:

Things I can lift:

1. Weights at strength-training class twice a week
2. A 20-pound child
3. A couch

X-rays, smex-rays. I think my frat brothers would agree.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Beware of duck

Just when you thought WCB couldn't get any cuter, she invents a new game called Attack Duck.

Last April, the Easter Bunny brought WCB a duck puppet that quacks to the tune of "Rubber Duckie, You're the One" when you move its mouth. A few days ago, I decided to make the duck "attack" her by pecking at her tummy while quacking. WCB thought this was the Funniest. Thing. Ever.

Now we have to play Attack Duck at least 50 times a day. As soon as I take her out of the high chair after breakfast, she crawls over to the duck and brings him back to me. If she had her way, we'd do nothing but play Attack Duck until bedtime. There is little relief from Attack Duck. "Maybe Daddy will play with you for a while," I said, after a particularly Attack-Duck-intensive day. WCB crawled over to Jay, ripped the duck off of his hand, and handed it back to me. I'm a slave to the duck.

To play Attack Duck properly, WCB must first be boosted onto the couch. Then I put the puppet on my hand. After the first "quack", WCB shrieks in mock horror (It's so funny to me that a 14-month-old understands mock horror) and flings herself onto the pillows, laughing hysterically as the duck continues to attack.

Sometimes, I recite the Shel Silverstein poem "Boa Constrictor" using the word "duckie" instead:

Oh, I'm being eaten by a duckie
A duckie
A duckie
I'm being eaten by a duckie
And I don't like it--one bit.
Well, what do you know?
It's nibblin' my toe.
Oh, gee
It's up to my knee.
Oh, my
It's up to my thigh.
Oh, fiddle
It's up to my middle.
Oh, heck
It's up to my neck.
Oh, dread
It's upmmmmmmmmmmffffffffff . . .

The other day I noticed my hand was even a little sore from quacking all day long. How do I explain this one to the doctors? "It's an old Attack Duck injury," I'll say.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Four things

I got this e-mail forward from my friend Elizabeth. It's one of those quizzes where you answer all of the questions about yourself and send it to all of your friends. I figure my friends are sick of getting these from me in their in-boxes (because I just love them and always do them), so I figured I'd just post it to the good old blog. If you have a blog, I invite you to post answers of your own.

Four Things About Me

Things you may not have known about me.....

Four jobs I have had in my life
1. Stay-at-home mom
2. Greeting card writer
3. Copy editor at a car magazine
4. Babysitter

Four movies I have watched over and over
There are way more than four that fit into this category, but here are the first four that come to mind ...
1. Cocktail (Even though Tom is Officially Crazy now, I still love this movie in a "So bad it's good" way; I need to buy a DVD copy because my VHS is about shot from overuse. Sad.)
2. Forrest Gump
3. The Jerk
4. Most Judy Garland movies. One I can never get enough of is "For Me and My Gal" with Gene Kelly.

Four places I have lived
1. Council Bluffs, Iowa
2. Vermillion, South Dakota
3. White Bear Lake, Minnesota
4. Kansas City, Missouri

Four TV shows I love to watch
1. Lost (on DVD. I'm only partway through Season One, so if anyone makes a peep about what happens in Season Two, I will keeel you.)
2. Scrubs
3. The Office
4. My Name is Earl
(I'd list Arrested Development if it hadn't been taken off the air. Grrr.)

Four places I have been on vacation
Again, there are way more than four, as my parents were big believers in the Great American Road Trip.
1. Alaska (And this one was a road trip! I was seven. My sister and I were in the back of the truck ... I think this is a whole separate blog entry)
2. England
3. Disney World
4. New York City

Four of my favorite foods
1. Mashed potatoes and gravy
2. Chips and Margarita's salsa
3. Chocolate chip cookies
4. Black jellybeans

Four Places I would rather be right now:
1. Anywhere that's not in this house, since I've been spending about 23 hours a day here during the heat wave
2. Disney World
3. Disneyland
4. In bed asleep

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Aw, come on!

You blog-reading party poopers! Nobody else wants to play along with my fictional doctor game? You can't tell me that you've never wished George Clooney was your child's pediatrician. Everyone has. Admit it. If you don't come up with another idea, I'm just going to assume every reader of this blog is sitting around the pediatrician's waiting room, fantasizing about George Clooney. Even the men. Even the people who don't have children.

I did get a response from John W:

Marcus Welby, MD and nurse Julia. LONG before you were born, I think. Dr. Welby, although a family doctor, treated anything, including leukemia on at least one episode and breast cancer. He was the older, unorthodox one whose top priority was always his patient. Dr. Kiley was his young, by-the-book assistant. Julia had her own show, but I think she would have worked well with Dr. Welby. Oh, and if I should ever get pregnant, I would go to Dr. Huxtable.

Oh, ME TOO!! Not only did Dr. Huxtable give all of his patients his home phone number, he would drop everything the second one of those women had a single contraction and rush off to the hospital, no matter what zany thing his family was doing. Like, even when the rest of his family got to meet Stevie Wonder, Dr. Huxtable went to deliver a baby. Plus, he was always trying to eat hoagies without Claire knowing about it.



On a side note: Does anyone else remember when they were all lip synching to that Ray Charles song, and Rudy went, "BAY-BAAAY!!! BAY-BAAAY!!"?

That cracks me up just thinking about it.