Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Greetings and Salutations, Oh My Long Lost Friends

How are you all? I miss you! I thought it might be appropriate to update you on how things are going for Team Stimey and check in with you all. How are things? What's the latest? Did any of you worry that I had died?

Let's see. What's happening? Well, I just got an email from Netflix that a DVD of a movie I don't remember putting in my queue has been mailed, so I have that fun surprise going for me.

I could tell you about my knee, as that is all I've been blathering on about here for the past several months. Good news! It's feeling a lot better! In fact, I ran my first race since my injury just last Sunday. It was a 10k across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Jean standing in front of a view of a bridge
Too bad it was such a dismal day out.
Good lord did I run slow—like, slower than early days running Jean, but I ran every step and, honestly, that was my goal. When I signed up for this race, I was sure I was going to have to walk some of it—I really didn't think I'd be ready. I'm proud to say I worked really hard to get to my super slow time.

This was an especially important feat after a recent neo-knee drama. A few weeks ago I had triumphantly run 4 miles without stopping and was feeling awesome about myself. A couple of hours after that I was walking into my garage when I somehow stepped into a little strap with both of my feet. I couldn't do it again if I tried. I fell. I fell hard. I fell almost entirely on my right knee, which was at least not the knee I had surgery on.

drawing of me falling in the garage
My head almooooost hit that pole. I coulda died.
I was incredibly sad. That afternoon my knee hurt but wasn't too bad. By that evening, I was contemplating opioids for the pain. The next morning I could barely walk. In both pain and mobility, it felt just like my left knee had immediately after surgery. I was heartbroken. I didn't want to spend the next several weeks recovering because I somehow calf roped myself in my garage.

Happily, the next morning, my knee was a billion times better. I was able to run again by the weekend. It was super scary and pretty painful though.

The children are pretty good. Ups and downs, ins and outs, but mostly good. They're all huge almost-adults now.

That's Katie. She's a nerd.
Katie is driving with her learner's permit these days. She has to drive for 60 hours with me before she can get her license. I got one of those "Student Driver Please Be Patient" magnets that I slap on my car when she drives. Then I saw one that said "Student Driver and Screaming Parent" and I wished I'd gotten that one although I think Katie would be even madder about that. She's actually pretty good at driving. But she's new. It's a whole thing.

There's Jack on Halloween. He's a something from Splatoon.

And Quinn. He acquired 18 pounds of candy trick or treating.

He was an emoji. A terrifying, terrifying emoji.
We still have five cats. I currently have to give Sharky eye drops five times a day, so that is great and bringing us closer together. No, not really. He eyes me with suspicion every time I get close to him and sometimes he hides under the bed from me. Then I have to put some food out as a lure and then scoop him up and hold him down while Pickles looks on in horror. It's really eroding our relationship.

Also, we're embiggening our kitchen, which, while ultimately great, was not planned out to occur at the best time. Right now they're building the outside of the new kitchen and then they will break through the wall once that is completed and we will no longer have a functional kitchen. That part of the renovation will be happening right around Thanksgiving, so I'm really looking forward to cooking a turkey in a toaster oven in the living room.

I have a new athletic project coming up that I'm pretty excited about. I've been planning it and thinking about it (and teasing it here) for months now, but haven't pulled the trigger because then I actually have to do it. Now that my knee is mostly better I think that I should get started on it soon. Also, I bought a domain for it, so I guess I really have to do it now. But I can't start until I create myself a little logo. There is order to this madness, y'all. It is called Project Crow. What do you think it is?

There's a lot going on, huh? Well, I am coping by doing absolutely nothing but playing this new kind of puzzle that a coworker introduced me to, thereby ruining my life. It's called Picross and it is the greatest. And the worst. You're welcome and I'm sorry. There are some good time-sucking apps available.

Photo of Oreo. I'm holding her paw out.
Fist bump.


Sunday, August 26, 2018

(Not) Run-zo

So. I haven't been running. After I saw my ortho in July and he broke my heart, I decided to take all of August off and maybe try running again in September. As it is not yet September, I haven't started running yet.

Because my plan is to wear the fuck out of my current knees then get new bionic ones that will surely be all kinds of technologically awesome in five to ten years, and then run the shit out of those, I am not overly concerned about long-term damage. In fact, at this point, I kinda am Team Long-Term Damage. What I'm afraid of is that I will go running and my knees will hurt really bad and then I won't be able to run even though I don't care about my knee health.

I mean, my whole thing, my whole ability to be okay with being a slow, chubby runner is that I am staying healthy so I can live and exercise until I'm really old. When I track and limit the food I eat and work out hard and still don't lose weight and I get angry at my body, I try to pull back and remember that even though it's not exactly how I want it, I should love my body because it is strong and it can run far and it does amazing things. And now it can't. And I'm dealing with a sense of being betrayed by it.

Although my knees only really hurt when I try to sit down or stand up, so as long as I remain either standing all the time or sitting all the time, I should be fine. And really, its only a problem if I'm going more than 90 degrees. *starts hauling all the low chairs in my house to a backyard bonfire*

I mean, a smarter plan would be to do leg-strengthening work, actually somehow lose weight, and do some research on what the best options are for me. So far, I've successfully started with step one. I have a Peloton now and I ride a lot and I do leg and core work through their digital app, so at least I'm not sitting on my couch eating potato chips.

I am absolutely obsessed with the Peloton (that's a whole other post), but being a runner is such a big part of my identity. I don't want to lose it. And I love to run. I just really love it. Even when it's hard, even when it sucks, even when it is hot and humid or freezing cold, I fucking love to run. I can't imagine not doing it.

After school starts, I think I'll start running on my treadmill exclusively for a while and will definitely ease into mileage. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

(Not) Done-zo

It has been a rough summer. In my grumpier moments I've considered peace-outing and just putting up a post here that says THE END even though I knew even as I was thinking it that I would regret it.

A lot of my angst has been that we have been super busy. I have regularly spent up to FOUR HOURS A DAY or more driving one kid here and then sprinting over to this other location to pick up another one while abandoning the third at home and then hurrying back to pick up the first one and repeat, repeat, repeat. The first two months of my summer felt like an elaborate puzzle where the pieces were getting my kids to places and home and not forgetting anyone anywhere while still trying to fit in work, my physical therapy, and all the regular appointments of daily life that never end.

Spoiler alert: I did it! Also, I was only late picking kids up 3 times and with all the pickups I did, that is an excellent on-time rate. In addition, big thanks to my homies (Gayle, Heather, Alex) who helped me when it was just not possible for me to be in two places at one time.

I did manage to get one on-going activity within walking distance of my home, which was Katie's driver's ed, chosen specifically for that reason. Sorry, Katie. Also, the irony.

June and July were spent going to physical therapy for my knee twice a week, which significantly added to my scheduling difficulties. That went really well and ended with the therapists putting me on the treadmill and me feeling great about myself followed a week later by an appointment with my orthopedist wherein I waited an hour past my appointment time for him to walk in and take five minutes to destroy my heart with words like "after seeing inside your knee" and "no more than two to three miles a couple times a week" and "you can do long runs, but you'll need a total knee replacement in five to ten years" and that's when my grumpier moments solidified into complete despair. I was way ahead in working through my five stages of grief because I hit depression by the time I made it back to the parking lot.

I have a lot more to say about that, including my plan to get two total knee replacements in five to ten years, but that is for another post.

For now, I am pleased to report that my schedule is lifting. I had three days this week that, until a couple of days ago were completely empty squares on my calendar (two of them are now filled with a trip to a trampoline park and an echocardiogram FOR MY CAT), but I had a day where I just sat around and did nothing and it was great.

To recap: This was a rough summer. It rained a lot. We didn't go on any vacations. There was a lot of drudgery in driving everyone around. I had a lot of working mom guilt. I only ran four times all summer. Projects I started got dropped. It was hard to get anything done. My kids bickered with each other all the time. It also felt like they played video games all summer long.

But there was a lot of good too. While I was driving my munchkins around all of Maryland, they were attending fun and educational camps and hanging out with their friends. I was able to go to New York City twice to see shows on Broadway. Alex continues to amuse. I only work part time and it is for an organization I deeply believe in so my guilt is mitigated. I got to spend some good time with my own friends. There was a lot of joy in small moments.

That is why even though this summer was exhausting, I'm not ready for it to end. When I fall into my depressed or irritated spaces, I try to remember that it is temporary. I am decidedly NOT done-zo. But I am looking forward to some empty squares on my calendar once school starts.

Friday, June 15, 2018

What time is it?*

When I saw Hamilton on Broadway last summer I knew I wanted my kids to see it too. The story, the cast, the music—they needed to have that experience.

Because it was coming to DC, I knew they would have that change. I also knew that it would be a really tough ticket to get and so I began scheming about how to get seats. The tactic I ended up with was season tickets for Alex and me and a rotating schedule of friends.

The bonus to this tactic is that Alex and I (and said rotating schedule of friends) got/get to see a bunch of other great shows at the Kennedy Center as well. In fact, we liked it so much that we renewed our subscription for next year (although we're shaking off the friends).

*takes a moment to acknowledge my complete and utter privilege here*

June 13 was the night for us. I had been looking forward to it for months. I'd even specifically scheduled my knee surgery to ensure my best theater experience. By the time Katie, Jack, and I drove down to the Kennedy Center to meet Alex I think they were happy it was finally time if only to get me to shut the hell up about how excited I was. (Quinn is going in September. He needs more of a one-on-one experience.)

Me, Katie, and Jack in front of the Hamilton poster
You guys, I'm not the only one. There was pretty much a line to take photos in front of the poster.
The show was fantastic. I even think the elderly couple sitting in front of me who reviewed their printed out Wikipedia page about the musical during intermission enjoyed it. (OMG, I love those people. So funny.)

I was so excited to see Jack and Katie's response to the show. Katie had been obsessed with the soundtrack for a while, but Jack had only heard parts of it, although he loves it and was excited to go to the show. In fact, if we're in the car and my kids are arguing with each other, I put on the soundtrack and everyone shuts up. It's one of my most foolproof parenting strategies.

They LOVED it. Jack has a tough time at long, stimulating events like this and Hamilton is LONG. But it held him. He got it. I was beyond proud of that kid. Katie of course loved it. In fact, there was only one time when I evidently laughed too loud that she got pulled away enough from it to lean over and whisper, "Mom, that was really loud."

Moms are always embarrassing.

And we're nice too. I could have leaned over near the end when all I heard was her snuffling to tell her that she was really loud, but I didn't. Although I was pretty encased in my own emotions by that time too.

Alex had steadfastly refused to listen to the soundtrack prior to the show, but he really liked it too. Mr. Stoic even cried at the end. It'll get you, that show. He's agreed to listen to the soundtrack all the way through on his commute so he can get some of the finer points of the lyrics that maybe he missed because of all my loud guffawing.

Alex drove home by himself because he'd come straight from work so I don't know how his trip was, but the kids and I glowed all the way home. I gotta tell you, those two children are pretty incredible. I'm really lucky to have them. It felt so good to share with them something that is so important to me and have them so truly appreciate it. It felt really connecting. Also, my car stopped for candy bars on the way home, so I obviously won "best car trip home."

We saw the show on its second night here, so I'm looking forward to seeing all of my local friends who got tickets taking their own photos in front of that poster and getting to experience the show. I'm so excited for all of you who are still living your pre-Hamilton lives—you're going to love it!

If you don't get to see the show, maybe you will enjoy this "got milk?" commercial from way back that I always think about when I think of the show.



* Showtime.


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Knee Bone is Connected to the Gunk Blob

I am happy to report that my knee surgery was definitely the right decision and my recovery has been like butterflies and unicorns. I couldn't be happier. In fact, I am so delighted by how this went that I kinda want to have arthroscopic surgery on all my joints to improve them. That wouldn't be weird, would it?

My surgery was Friday May 25 at about 1pm, which was a bummer because I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything until afterward. Food isn't such a big deal, but it turns out that I am a fan of liquids. I was actively resentful when I got to the surgical center and there was a water fountain right there in the waiting room. Also, they made me pee for a pregnancy test (negative, thank the good lord!), which was no easy task considering it had been 12 hours since I'd ingested water.

Weirdly (according to Alex), I wasn't nervous about the surgery. I mean, it's not like I was performing it. I was just hopeful that I wouldn't say anything embarrassing while sedated, but otherwise I felt pretty chill about the whole thing.

Alex, on the other hand, was extremely concerned about them operating on the correct knee. He was aghast to hear that I wasn't drawing a big arrow and the words "THIS KNEE. THIS KNEE RIGHT HERE," on the knee they were fixing. I figured if they operated on the wrong knee, there was probably plenty wrong in there for them to fix, so it'd actually be not that bad.

In turns out, however, that apparently enough doctors have operated on enough wrong limbs that there is now a whole procedure in place to make sure that mistake isn't made, meaning the doctor used a single-use marker to sign the intended target of surgery.

My knee in a bandage with an ice pack on top and my doctor's initials on my leg.
I took this the day after surgery. I don't think that ice pack was doing much through the 26 layers of bandage.
 Alex hung out with me before surgery and took a picture "so we have one last photo of you."

Me in a hospital gown and hair net in a bed in the surgery center.
Alex has probably three photos of me on his phone and this is one of them.
As I suspected it would be, surgery was easy, fun, and took only about 10 seconds from my perspective. Then they gave me animal crackers, Percocet, and wheeled me out to my car. Altogether it was a pretty good deal.

My doctor had told me that I should take a week off of work, which I did. I was prepared to spend that entire first weekend in deep recuperation mode, but my body recovered much easier than I expected. I did nap for much of the afternoon after surgery, but felt pretty good otherwise. I was more tired than anything. I only had to use crutches for a day or two and didn't have a lot of pain. Short bursts of energy on my part, however, led to multi-hour naps. People tell me that's because my knee was doing a lot of work inside my leg healing, so I didn't feel too bad. Plus I'd given myself permission to laze around for a week, although if I were to do this again, I don't know that I would take that long. I got so bored I cleaned my kids' rooms. I live a charmed life. I'm really lucky.

[knockonwoodknockonwoodknockonwood]

Alex had told me that the doctor told him the surgery went well but didn't give me many details. When I went to my follow-up appointment with my orthopedist, he told me ("now that you're more coherent") that my knees were much older than I was. I don't know whether to feel pleased for me or outraged for my knees.

He also told me that even more impactful than the meniscus tear was all the "gunk" in my knee bones. He showed me lots of photos of said gunk before and after his cleaning it up. There was also a ligament caught on something that he freed up—or something to that effect; honestly the details of what happened inside there is not that super relevant to my life. I mostly care that I can use the knee again.

I'm almost three weeks post surgery now and I'm feeling great. Apparently being physically active prior to surgery results in a significantly easier recovery. I've started what will hopefully be about four weeks of physical therapy although the PT told me that I can't run until I can do a one-legged squat, so apparently I'm never going to be allowed to run again.

I've been enjoying PT. It's like a not-hard personal training session that ends with, in my case, an ice wrap that acts very similar to a blood pressure cuff wrapped around my knee that squeezes and releases for ten minutes. It's my new favorite thing in the world.

Except for getting to exercise again. I can't run yet, but I am back on my (newish) spin cycle (trying not to be a Peloton nerd, but OMG LOVE) and loving getting to work my body again.

In sum: Surgery > delightful Percocet > napping > deciding I love Percocet too much to keep using it > feeling pretty recovered > living a gunk-free life > yay!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Upside Down

Long time no speak, friends! I hope you're well. I had my knee surgery and am well on the mend and I very much want to tell you about it, but something else came up and I think it is important that we discuss it first.

off-brand PopTart, frosting side up

That picture up there is of a Pop Tart. Well, not a real Pop Tart, but some organic off-brand version of it. And, no, we're not debating whether brown sugar cinnamon is the best/only flavor worth eating, because that's just common knowledge.

What we are here to talk about today is how you would put that thing in your mouth. Now, when it comes to things like this breakfast pastry or bread sticks with Parmesan cheese on top, or a bite of food with frosting on it, I will always eat it delicious side down so that the frosting/cheese/brown sugar comes directly in contact with my tongue.

I gave this piece of advice to Katie when we were sharing bread sticks the other day and her reaction was suitable considering the life-changing nature of the knowledge.

Coasting off of my success with imparting knowledge to Katie and newly armed with the information that not everyone had thought of this, I decided to tell Alex in case this was new information that I could help him with.

Alex immediately made the utterly ridiculous claim of, “I don’t like to eat things upside down,” even though he'd ever tried it.

Now I turn to you to prove my point.

Do you eat your food upside down?

If no, is it because it never occurred to you until this moment?

Now that you are aware of this, will you always eat top-delicious food upside down?

Or, are you like Alex and completely uninterested in living your best life?

I'm confident that you all will see reason. And before you ask: No, I wouldn't eat something absurd like pizza upside down. Now you're just being ludicrous.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Orthos and Arthros

Bad news about my knee, friends.

Xray of my knee
Bad knee! Bad!

I got the results from my knee MRI a couple of weeks ago. I had waited a couple of days for my orthopedist to call me and when he didn't, I called to find out if they had my results and the receptionist told me that I had to make an appointment for that.

I told them that I wasn't going to do that because I didn't have a good experience with the doctor, so I would just take the MRI elsewhere. Now, it is at this point that I would imagine the receptionist would say, "Oh no, what was the problem? Maybe we can make it better," but that did not happen. Instead she said she'd have the doctor call with the results. And then instead, a non-doctor called me back to tell me I had a bone contusion and medial meniscus tear.

Evidently they didn't care why I'd had a bad experience or they just didn't care period. Cool.

My next step was to find a new orthopedist who could tell me what to do. (Well, actually my next step was to google the hell out of "medial meniscus tear" and discover that sometimes it needs surgery and sometimes it doesn't.) I'd gotten a recommendation from a friend for a new ortho, so I made an appointment for the following Tuesday and then went on a short run to see how it felt on the knee.

I was able to run and after a month without it, running felt amazing. Unfortunately, my knee felt significantly worse afterward AND I pretty severely strained my foot/ankle by compensating for the knee (or at least that's what my new orthopod suspects).

My appointment was last week. I made the appointment for 9:30 on a Tuesday and made a note to myself that I had to get there early to fill out forms. By Tuesday, I'd convinced myself that my appointment was a 10 and that I was supposed to get there at 9:30 with pen and insurance card in hand to be a good patient.

That's why I rolled into the ortho office at 9:32 on Tuesday, signed in, and was feeling pretty good about my ability to handle change.

Then the receptionist called me to the desk and told me the doctor I'd signed in for wasn't at that practice and that I was in the wrong place. Somehow I had managed to deliver myself to an entirely different orthopedic practice with which I had no affiliation whatsoever.

Good job, Jean. Never change anything ever again.

I hadn't put the correct ortho in my phone yet because I didn't know if I'd like him, so I had to search him up on the internet on my phone and beg forgiveness from the receptionist. This is when I found out that my appointment really was at 9:30—not 10. Evidently the front desk at my new ortho office is the nicest in the world because they gave me the correct address and told me that I could still come by to see the doctor. I already liked them better than my previous ortho practice.

Seriously, the front desk was great, the nurse was thorough and attentive, they updated me to let me know they were waiting for a fax from the imaging office so I wasn't wondering why it was taking so long to see the doctor. (Actually, I was prepared to wait all day what with their generosity in squeezing me in.) Also, the exam room in which they had put me had this numbered drawing of chipmunks on the wall:

Framed black and white drawing of three chipmunks.
It's like they knew I was coming.

Anywho, long story short, because of the type of tear I have, yadda, yadda, yadda, the doctor ended up recommending arthroscopic surgery, which I was assuming was orthroscopic surgery—you know, because it is done by an orthopedist—and just ten or so minutes ago discovered that it starts with an "a."

He said I didn't have to do it right away, but I am tired of not running and I figure the sooner I get it done, the sooner I can start relearning to run. Plus, I didn't want to get surgery in a couple or three months only to have to ease into running in the winter again, because that would be some buuuuuullshit.

My surgery is scheduled for just under four weeks from today, so you all should spend that time enjoying my lack of whining, because as soon as I'm hobbling around on crutches, I'm sure I will be the most annoying person in the history of the world. Also, crutches? I feel like they don't know how clumsy I am. This is likely to be a hilarious and embarrassing disaster of a recovery.

I actually feel okay about the whole thing. I'm glad it is something that can be fixed—or at least improved. If everything goes well, the recovery won't be too long and I'll be back on my feet soon.

Until then, I'm looking into upping my cycling and strength training. Although I gotta tell you, after not exercising for a month or so, my motivation is suffering. I gotta learn how to step up my non-running, non-eating activities.

Also, I would greatly appreciate not hearing about your arthroscopic surgery horror stories. Maybe after everything goes perfectly for me and I have a like-brand-new leg, we can talk about that, but until then, I mostly want to hear, "Gosh, that sounds fantastic; I think this is definitely the right decision and your recovery will be like butterflies and unicorns and you will be running at twice your normal speed within weeks."

That would be great, thanks.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Squirrel!

I suffered a deep disappointment this week.

I entered a Washington Post squirrel photography contest and I didn't win.

Wanna see my (winning) entry?

I mean, c'mon, right?
It's a squirrel! And it's eating a chocolate chip cookie! How does that not win?

You might remember this photo from a post I wrote several years ago about a trip to the Houston Zoo. Quinn tried to steal the cookie from the squirrel and it ran away. I submitted that information with the photo and still did not win.

Shameful.

Here's the stupid winning photo:

Okay, fine. It's pretty good.
And dammit, it's even cuter in color.

Who knew there were so many squirrel photography enthusiasts? I think I'm going to have to up my game for next year. And maybe purchase a better camera. And take a wildlife photography class. And tame a squirrel.

Watch out, award-winning photographers of small, amusing rodents, I'm coming for you.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The MRI Pot of Gold at the End of the Knee Injury Rainbow

I have had a lot going on since last we spoke. We moved offices at work, my family went on vacation to Albuquerque, and Katie and I went on her band trip to New Orleans.

Okay, when I say it like that, it doesn't sound like a lot, but trust me when I say that each of those things involved a lot of moving pieces and emotional labor. I successfully navigated each of those, however, and have come out the other side. I hope to tell you more about each of them, but that's not why I've called you here today.

You know how I'm always blathering on and on about running and I suddenly fell radio silent on the topic about a month ago? Well, for the first time in my running career, I suffered an acute injury, wherein my knee decided  that NO, THIS AGGRESSION WILL NOT STAND! and halted me in the middle of a run, when I was three miles from my home.

That was a long limp home.

I've had a lot of chronic aches and pains that are probably attributable to running, but I have not yet had an experience where I was all, "Uh oh. Something happened." I spent about a week limping about DC and Maryland and not being able to do things like run for Metro trains or across streets so I finally decided to go see an orthopedist/orthopod.

Said orthopod was kind of a jerkhole and was pretty dismissive of me and my injury. I think that he saw a chubby woman who said she hurt herself running and he assumed that I had just done a little too much and had regular old soreness. He didn't actually seem to hear me when I told him that three miles is nothing to me and actively looked skeptical when I told him my weekly mileage.

*makes squinched up angry face*

By this point in my injury, I wasn't limping quite as obviously and my pain level was manageable, so I probably didn't look super injured when he had me walk back and forth across his office and then do the same on tip toes. Then he asked me to walk on my heels at which point my knee immediately buckled and my pain shot through the roof. I have it on good authority that what that doctor did was have me hyperextend my already injured knee, which is something an orthopedist that believes what his patient is telling him probably shouldn't/wouldn't do.

I'm mad at the orthopod. He didn't even fucking blink that he made that happen.

Anywho, that evening I could barely walk. I was in sobbing tears because I thought I'd reinjured or further injured my knee and that it was now in really bad shape. I couldn't move my leg at all without stabbing pain.

It was a problem.

For his part, the doctor told me to ice the knee and take four Advil each morning and evening for a week and if it still hurt then, I should go in for an MRI. He even held up two hands, each with four fingers extended so I understood what he meant by four in the morning and four in the evening.

I repeat: I did not much care for this doctor.

I couldn't go for an MRI after a week because I was traveling all over the United States, so when I got home this week, I reassessed. I hadn't run since my injury and I'd been taking Advil and icing the knee. I was significantly better. I wasn't limping anymore and I was no longer in constant pain.

But the side of the knee hurts and sometimes when I move it in a new way, there is a shot of pain. I decided to get the MRI just to make sure nothing was wrong. I figured I'd rather find out everything is just hunky dory in the knee than run on it, destroying it step by step.

Frankly. I'd like to have an MRI of both hips, both knees, and both ankles, but I don't think they let you just decide that you want that.

Anywho, I went today and I gotta tell you, the MRI was kind of delightful. I mean, prying my wedding ring off of my sausage finger was a bummer, but once I'd climbed that hill, all was well. For knee MRIs, you go in feet first, so it's not claustrophobic. It is loud, but they give you noise blocking headphones and, frankly, that kind of background noise is actually calming for me.

I closed my eyes and laid very still for 25 minutes with very little problem except for that forehead itch at minute 15. Also, I am a toe stimmer and tend to twitch my toes A LOT, so I had to actively not do that, but otherwise, I was completely happy. I didn't have to talk to anyone. I was ensconced in an auditory and physical safe zone, and I was able to close my eyes and not have to be alert and awake.

Although after seeing the machine, I do have to say that a head-first MRI seems pretty bad — and I'm not even claustrophobic.

Afterward, the tech asked me how it had been. I told her it was relaxing and she said, "I don't believe you." I guess I am not like the other people.

Me standing in an MRI dressing room wearing a long patient gown
Also, I got to wear this ingenious gown with three armholes. Brilliant!
But for the fact that it will be Jerkface McOrthopod who will give me my test results, I look forward to finding out what is on the MRI. Hopefully Dr. Von Dismissive was right and it is nothing but achiness.

Regardless, I'm hoping to get out on the road again this week. I haven't gone without running for this long in years. It will be interesting to see how it goes out there. And by "interesting," I mean "awful," but that's okay. I hope to be boring you with running selfie after running selfie soon.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Haiku Schmaiku

Something has been bothering me for three years.

When I go to work in downtown DC, I walk through an area of town known as "the Golden Triangle." Every spring the triangle people have a "Golden Haiku" poetry contest and publish the results on little placards that they jam into roadside gardens all over the area. I walk past eighty-six million of these little placards every morning and afternoon.

Now, I'm not big into poetry so we all know that this isn't my thing. We all know that I will resent being forced to read poetry on my way to work. We all know that I have some anger issues.

But it makes me Dennis from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia rageful that the word "haiku" is on those placards in three spots when the poems are not, for the love of all that it holy and just in this world, haikus.

Three lines. Five syllables. Seven syllables. Five syllables. Right?

Not according to the Golden Triangle Management Bureau.

always/one step ahead/sidewalk sparrow by Elizabeth Steinglass
I've wanted to write this post for three years, but haven't because it seems like an asshole move to put someone's poetry up on a blog and then scream at it. I actually like this poem, so I feel better screaming about the concept while still supporting the poet.

Now, in previous years I've been so agitated that I've gone to the website to look at the rules and they specifically state that the poetry doesn't have to follow that traditional haiku format. This year, probably because I'm not the only one ready to send angry letters about syllables, the website has a big quote at the top attributed to the Haiku Society of America that says: "Haiku...a short poem that uses imagistic language to convey an experience."

I'm not buying what you're selling, Haiku Society of America.

Maybe I'm overly literal. Maybe once my third grade teacher told me how many syllables are in a haiku, I shouldn't have locked on so solidly to that idea. Maybe I should just not look at the placards as I walk past them.

Or maybe I just need to finally write this post so the poison of this great injustice to my third grade soul can vent and be released.

haiku comes in threes
of five then seven then five
i feel better now

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Great Move Back


Hi! I finally moved all my posts and photos off of Wordpress and back to where they're accessible on Blogger. Now that that is done, I will be moving my URL this weekend so it points to that blog. All this means is that when you go to http://www.stimeyland.com/ from now, on, it will look a little bit different.

I will also be canceling my Feedblitz subscriber service and also will not be publishing through Wordpress, so if you subscribe through either of these two ways, you should resubscribe using this link.

If you are like me and would never in a million years remember how you subscribed to a blog, I've included screenshots. If you get emails that look like either of the below pictures when a new post goes up, you will need to resubscribe. 

Feedblitz

Wordpress
Also, I have a post planned for next Monday, which will be the first one solely on the new space, so check back if you subscribed but don't see it. (I don't think I have to create a new feed once I point the URL there, but I know virtually nothing about this shit, so I might have to.)

Let's see how this goes! Thanks for being a reader!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Evidence Suggests That I Don't Really Have My Shit Together

Hey, remember Dipshit Friday, when I do dumb things and then tell you about it in the hopes that if I laugh first, you all won't make fun of me? Well, it's back.

*****

I've got a lot going on these days.

There are several big projects at work that I am heavily involved in and a liiiiiiittle bit stressed out about. It's IEP season, with two meetings for two kids within four days of each other. I have two trips coming up—one with the whole family and one involving me being in charge of 12 teenagers I (mostly) don't know in New Orleans. Scheduling everything to work together is a complete nightmare. Plus Alex just got back from a week out of town, during which time I was forced to take over his 6 am waking-up-the-kids duties. Also, have I mentioned that I have three kids that need a lot of driving around and homework coaxing and organizing and feeding OMG WHY SO MUCH FEEDING DO YOU REALLY HAVE TO EAT THAT OFTEN LIKE SERIOUSLY MORE THAN ONCE A DAMN DAY?!?!

I am not...at my best.

I mean, I'm kicking the shit out of all of these things. I am T.C.B.—taking care of business like a goddamn boss, but it turns out that in areas of my life that are less crucial, I am faltering. Like, I am forgetting to do basic things.

I think I realized how all over the place and unfocused I was the day that I parked at the Metro station, went to work, and came back six hours later to find my car was still running.

I HAD LEFT MY CAR RUNNING UNATTENDED FOR SIX HOURS.

Think on that for a minute.

I distinctly remember that morning when I got out of my car and hit the lock button on the door, as I usually do, that something was wrong. The doors didn't lock. Naturally I assumed that the door lock must just be broken, so I got out, shut the door and locked the car from the outside. Then I walked away. Based upon later experimentation, it turns out that if the car is running, the door won't lock via the open door lock, perhaps to prevent people from, you know, leaving their cars on.

The funny thing is that my car dings when the key leaves it, so it must have spent all day sort of desperately flashing the warning THE KEY HAS LEFT THE VEHICLE THE KEY HAS LEFT THE VEHICLE THE KEY HAS LEFT THE VEHICLE while dinging sadly every three seconds.

I eventually came back, of course, and was all, "Why is the car already running?" I decided that I must have accidentally hit the remote start, which I didn't AND which is actually kinda impossible to do unintentionally. I figured this out when I got in the car and noticed three things:

1. The ignition was on full "run" instead of the remote start mode.
2. The car was very warm and had that "imminently overheated" smell to it.
3. A significant amount of gas from my previously full tank had disappeared.
 
Clearly this is a sign that I should employ some self care. Or drop some of my responsibilities. Or take a nap. I think I'll do that one.

P.S. This isn't the first time I've done something along these lines. During one high-stress time in my 20's I parked in the parking lot where I worked and went inside only to have a friend drive by hours later and come inside to tell me that I'd left my car door hanging open. I'd just forgotten to close it. So this isn't exactly a new development. I can't decide if that's a good or bad thing.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

"Highlights" of the "Flu"

I was sick the other day and spent about 24 hours either sleeping or trying not to throw up or throwing up. My crowning achievement of the day was when I picked up Jack from his after-school activity, drove a half block, stopped at a red light, opened my door, and puked out the side of my car until the light turned green.

It was a really effective way to freak Jack out.

I'm fine. I don't know exactly what it was. I thought it was the stomach flu, but since it was so well contained into one day, I am wondering if it was something else. Either way, I'm fine now and mention this mostly because in my late-night delirium, I thought I had a hilarious idea for a blog post called "Highlights of the Flu" and I wrote a list of things on my phone that were said highlights.

This list is incomprehensible. Also? Not all that hilarious.

The one amusing thing is that I took a giant barrel of pretzels upstairs to bed with me because all of our crackers were expired (hmmm, I wonder how I got sick). I put it on my bed and it made a noise and then Pickles the cat spent a good chunk of time rolling it back and forth, seeming to think I'd brought him the greatest new cat toy ever.

White cat sniffing a big jug of pretzels
We were operating at about the same level of comprehension at this point.
And there you have my Thursday. It was not a good day.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Sliding Doors

An insane thing happened to Alex and me today. INSANE. Well, it happened mostly to Alex, but I was along for the ride. I'm writing this in a lighthearted manner, but it was pretty awful as it was happening. Laugh or cry, right? I will preface this story with the information that no Alexes were harmed in the making of this story and everyone is 100 percent A-okay. That said, let me start from the beginning.

Alex went to see the doctor for a routine travel checkup this week because he is going to the Dominican Republic next month. After that appointment they took his blood because he has a physical coming up. NBD. Last night they left a message on our answering machine asking him to call today for his results.

After leaving for work this morning, Alex texted that apparently he was anemic. Then he texted again to say that the doctor wanted him to go back today and then I heard nothing else. Assuming all was well, I drove in to work (I usually take Metro, but I had something heavy with me today) and was there for about ten or fifteen minutes (maybe) when I got the following text:

"I need to talk to you. Can I call you in a few minutes?"

I should maybe tell you now that Alex and I don't talk on the phone. We almost entirely communicate through texts, sometimes even when we're in the same building. This seemed ominous.

His follow up to my asking if he was okay was:

"Dr. XXX needs me to go to the emergency room for some tests. Will you go with me?"

Well. That seems even more ominous.

I set out for the hospital and asked if I could call him from my car, but he was unavailable because HE STOPPED TO GO TO A MEETING BEFORE GOING TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM. Once he got out of the meeting he called to let me know that the doctor wanted him to go to the emergency room because his blood test results were bad in that every one of the counts you want to be high was low. And his platelet count, which should be 150,000 to 450,000 was three.

We named them later: Hildegarde, Barry, and Red.

It turns out that the count was actually 3,000, but that's still not good. And it presents a less satisfying image than the one I was imagining in which his three platelets were huddled together, looking around worriedly, and asking, "Where'd everybody go?"

I got to the ER first because I had no meetings to attend. Once Alex got there, I tried to keep him entertained and told him it could be nothing—maybe they mixed up blood samples and some really sick guy had Alex's good results. Maybe he had thrombosis that is, according to my fifteen seconds of web research, sometimes treatable with medication. I very specifically didn't mention leukemia.

Alex, whose doctor on the phone that morning had told him that he needed to "reorient your thinking," was also pointedly not mentioning leukemia. Although when I sat in a chair across from him instead of next to him, he did remark, "I see. You don't want to sit next to your dying husband." We are the worst kind of people.

They took us into triage, where they tried and failed to get Alex's blood, which wasn't a good sign. Then they took us to a double room where they gave Alex a hospital gown. Alex, ever compliant, put it on OVER as much of his clothing as possible and sat down in the bed.

Shortly thereafter, a nurse came by and stood in the doorway. "I'm not coming in because I don't have a mask on," he said. " But we're going to move you to a more isolated room because of the situation."
Again, ominous.

Their thinking was obviously that Alex was severely immuno-compromised and should not be around other people. Alex looked like he was going to FREAK OUT. I internally freaked out by starting to plan his funeral and speculating about whether I'd be able to donate his organs. Because I'm not a monster, I didn't say any of this out loud.

Seriously. WHAT WAS THE FUCKING SITUATION?!

They wanted to try again to get more blood to retest Alex's counts, so they sent in a tech who worked diligently and with vigor on getting a sample out of first this arm and then that arm as Alex, the dingbat, tried to write a work email with the other hand. I have seen that man do work from his phone in some very inappropriate places, but I think this one took the cake.

IMG_3067
I took this photo with his permission AFTER we knew everything was okay. Again: NOT a monster.
The lab tech was successful in getting Alex's blood right when the doctor came in to ask a bunch of questions and tell him about the plan. I had a notebook and pen ready because I was going to be Alex's Advocate and take records and otherwise do everything right, but I didn't because I left it in my purse and I only remember the doctor saying that they were going to admit Alex overnight and go from there.

Shortly thereafter, more techs wheeled a portable x-ray machine into the room to do a chest x-ray. We live in a miraculous age.

After this, it was waiting time. I pulled my chair next to the hospital bed, took away Alex's phone, and we waited for whatever was to come next.

What came next was that the doctor eventually came back in to tell Alex that they had the results from the CBC and his counts were entirely normal. I said loudly and inappropriately, "Fuck yes!" as Alex started to repeatedly ask if the doctor was making a joke.

Confidential to Alex: I don't think doctors are allowed to joke like that—"It turns out that everything is fine. You're totally healthy!...Just kidding! You will likely die this week."

Alex literally asked the doctor three times if he was serious. Turns out he was. Then the doctor said, "Maybe the blood samples got mixed up and someone else out there got your results," which, if you remember from three hours and thirteen paragraphs ago, I HAD ALREADY SAID.

It's almost like I'm a doctor myself.

We still had to wait for more results, so the doctor left and we finally said leukemia, in the "thank God you don't have leukemia" sense and generally reinforced how happy we both were that our lives hadn't changed irrevocably that day.

Our nurse came back in to check Alex's chest with a stethoscope, but he hadn't heard the good news that it was probably a lab mistake, so we told him that. He very solemnly lowered his mask, said "probably," and re-raised it. Alex and I were all, what the fuck?

But then he took off the mask and told us that this happens regularly, blah, blah, blah. Alex joked that some elderly and very, very sick man was all, "I'm totally healthy; I have the blood of a 40-year-old!" and the guy's face got serious and he said, "You should probably follow up with your doctor about that."

Half an hour and a sheaf of forms later, we were enthusiastically and with much relief out of there. We went to lunch and Alex drove back in to work.

Life is weird, isn't it? This story could have ended up much differently. Now, a few hours removed, it feels like I made it up. It was exhausting to go through it for just half a day. But people get sick all the time. One day someone is fine, then there's a bad test, and then everything changes. It's awful and it's unfair and I am so very grateful that it wasn't us this time.

Driving in to the parking garage that morning at a hospital I had never been to, I wondered if this was the first of many trips here. I wondered if I was going to become a regular at this place. I wondered of what this was the first day.

Life is precarious. Every day is a gift. I'm glad that we have at least one more.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Ch-ch-ch-changes

I have been writing this blog since 2007. Originally, I hosted it on Blogger. Then I moved it to a self-hosted Wordpress site because that was all the rage. Now that I write far less often, I'm interested in a free platform, which is why I'm returning to Blogger. Don't even ask me how much I wish I had just stayed there.

Answer: a lot.

So. I don't have any idea how many of y'all still read here. And of you readers, I don't know how many of you subscribe via email or via reader. Any of you who are subscribed will likely have to resubscribe at the new site.

I will be publishing this post and then I will be redirecting my URL back to blogspot. So, if you are reading this and are interested in making sure you continue to get my oh-so-stellar content, look in the right sidebar and enter your email if you want posts emailed to you or click the button that says "subscribe in a reader" (for reader or email).

Caveat: I don't know if older posts will get sent to subscribers as I add them back to the website. I suspect not because they will be backdated, but I am just warning you that this a thing that might happen.

I intend to eventually make sure all of my content is in one place over on Blogger, but until then, you might not be able to find it all. Also, I'm sure that Google searching for said content will be unreliable due to my content being all over tarnation and whatnot.

For now, you will be able to see all 2018 posts at Stimeyland and hopefully the older ones will eventually show up.

Wish me luck, guys. I am sure that I will regret this about ten minutes after I do it, but I want to be in a situation where I don't have to pay for hosting every month if I'm not blogging. (Note: I am not giving up blogging. I just know that eventually I will and I want to prepare now when I still have enough energy to care.)

I've been kinda avoiding writing until I get this done, so I'm pushing the button, jumping off the board, hurling myself out of the plane! I pretty much always fuck up even the simplest blog tech stuff, so stay tuned for the disaster story. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Stimey's 2018 Race Calendar


January 1: New Year's Day 5K
Reston, VA
3.1 miles
Official time: 34:29

November 4: Across the Bay 10K
Annapolis, MD
6.2 miles
Official time: 1:26:19

About Stimey

I am Stimey. I'm mom to Katie, born October 2001; Jack, born in May 2003; and Quinn, born in May 2005. I am also married to Alex, who is an attorney.

Prior to her coming out as transgender in 2017, Katie was referred to as Sam. We are a diverse bunch. Among us, we have autism, ADHD, anxiety, depression, and probably some other stuff too. We're awesome. Myself, I was diagnosed as autistic in early 2012. I'm currently the office manager for the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

I enjoy reading, writing, zombies, Bob Dylan, and filling out forms. I am a runner. I also like small, amusing rodents. And cats.

I've been writing this blog since 2007. It has been moved around a lot and now is at its permanent (free) home back here at Blogger. You will not be able to find all of Stimeyland's historical archives here yet. I'm working on it and will keep you posted.

You can email me at stimeyland at gmail dot com.