Brrrrrr…And Other Things To Cross My Mind

Right now, I am really grateful to not be in North Dakota. While it was a wonderful place to live, with lots to do and with some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, right now it’s freaking cold there. Not just your garden variety chilly…according to the weather lady on channel 2, it’s 21 degrees below zero. That’s not the wind chill, that’s the actual temp. –21F. That’s nipple-puckering, nose-hair-freezing cold. Kind of makes me happy with out 25 degrees and falling…

It occurred to me last night, just in that moment before falling asleep, that I have memories that are almost 40 years old. I can remember bits and pieces of my life from four decades ago. That was a depressing way to fall asleep.

And of falling asleep…I have had the funkiest dreams for the last couple of months. Mostly I’ve been dreaming of alien invasions on one scale or another; either there’s this mass of incoming alien ships blackening the sky, or just a few wayward sentient non-humans poking around. Now, I’ve been reading a lot of science fiction lately, but these dreams started before I picked up the first sci-fi book. Now, it would be nice if I were some kind of hero in these dreams, but mostly I herd kids into buildings and then stare out a window as alien ships zoom in to land.

All the ships look like stealth fighters…that’s gotta mean something. Right?

Maybe it all just means I’m think of OH as a land of aliens and I’m ready to go home. Or maybe I think of CA as a land of aliens, and I’m ready to go back to my people. Either way, now that we’ve decided (and I doubt we’ll change our minds, not unless the hospital out here dangles an outrageous amount of money in front of the Spouse Thingy), we’re ready to just go. The Spouse Thingy was thinking that as he was scraping ice off his truck in the freezing cold yesterday morning—he’d retire today if he could. I’ve had the impulse to start going through accumulated crap and get rid of stuff we really don’t need. I want to clean out the garage, but it’s just too cold right now. I want to clean out closets, but want is as far as I’m getting with that. I might want to, but I’m still too lazy to.

Ok, so I’m glad I’m not in ND right now. But I’m still cold.


Things That Call Out In The Middle Of The Night

Every once in a while, when I can’t sleep, I watch infomercials. It’s a good thing that I’m upstairs in bed, and my wallet and the phone are elsewhere, because at 2 a.m. the dorkiest things suddenly inspire “Ooooh…I want that…” I’ve resisted, but not because of some personal tripumph on my part; I resist because I’m too lazy to get up and get a phone and a credit card out of my wallet.

Ok, I did get the Tae Bo video tapes…but I bought those in a store, when I was fully awake, and had contemplated the purchase for a long time. And having spent some time training in a martial art, it made sense—for me it was a familiar and fun way to work out. I till think so.

The last couple of years, I’ve hit on those late night infomercials with Tony Little demonstrating his Gazelle Glider and my reaction is almost always Oooooh. I want. Really want. It looks like fun…

I caved today. Totally caved.

WalMart had the entry level Gazelle for about $80, so I bought it. The Spouse Thingy assembled it, and in the living room it sits, waiting for me to climb on and start moving.

Yep, I just have to start using it.

As soon as my dinner settles.



Nuttin’ =twitch= Wrong With Me =twitch=

All right, I had my appointment yesterday but a couple of lab values weren’t back yet; they must have come in this morning, because the doc left a message on my answering machine this afternoon while I was out acknowledging the call of a cheesy rice burrito. My growth hormone levels are now in the normal range, which means I don’t have to increase my daily dose of replacement hormone. My thyroid, while technically normal, shows signs that I’ll need replacement thyroid hormone soon. TSH was high, and free T4 was borderline normal. The range of normal starts at .78 and mine was .78. The Spouse Thingy explained the high TSH as my body is trying to put out useable amounts of hormone, but it’s not quite working out.

I’m not surprised, and neither is he. I’m already symptomatic: I feel cold from the inside out most of the time, can’t lose weight no matter what I seem to do, lately there have been renewed body aches (but not like those of FMS…it’s different, but I don’t know how to explain the difference.) A little tiredness. But mostly, I can’t get warm. We keep the thermostat set at over 80, and I’m still cold. The Spouse Thingy is probably sweating his goodies off, but he’s not complaining about it. On the other hand, I’m complaining loudly, and often, about being cold.

Now, the obvious thing is that I should have told the doc about those symptoms yesterday, but I didn’t. My bad. He’s a damned good doctor—he knows his stuff inside out—but he’s not exactly the approachable kind. During appointments he sits at his computer and looks at it, mumbles a bit, asks a few questions, but I didn’t feel particularly welcome to do much more than answer direct inquiries yesterday. That was my feeling; that doesn’t mean that’s so. He may have very well listened closely if I’d brought the symptoms up…I just didn’t.

Spouse Thingy will probably email him from the hospital Monday, just to let him know, but since the values did fall within normal, even just barely, he’ll probably let it go for another six months, unless my symptoms get worse.

Obviously, they’re not bad. I have a friend with hypothyroidism and when her levels are really low, she feels like total crap. I’m just really really really really cold. And fat.

But… I’m normal.
I have proof!


You’re Old, You’re Rude, And Oh Yeah, You Smell

Just a routine thing, I had a doctor’s appointment this morning. It was one of those “oh you’re out of refills on your meds and you need blood work to make sure your brain is still intact” kind of things. The kind of thing that really could have been done over the phone, save for the lab work, but for some reason the docs want to actually see you once in a while.

I got there 45 minutes early—I left the house early in case I had a hard time finding parking at the base hospital, which is a common occurrence—and my doc was running about an hour behind. I had a book with me, so that really wasn’t a big deal. I’m a third of the way through Orson Scott Card’s book Xeoncide and figured I could immerse myself in it, and never notice the time that would otherwise drag by. No, I wasn’t particularly upset that the doc was so far behind; he’s a very thorough physician, and he deals with high risk and very sick patients. I could wait.

So I settled back, excited to pick up where I’d left off in the book, and then noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a very pale and seemingly terrified woman to my right. She was clutching the strap on her purse like a lifeline, staring vacantly ahead. Normally I would have sighed, wondered what was wrong, and would have gone back to my book, but the annoying little voice that sometimes pokes at me from the back of my head told me to say something to her.

So I did. I asked if she was all right, and did I need to get someone for her?

She shook her head no, and managed to croak out that she’d just gotten some bad news, and she was trying to digest it. So I asked again if there was anything I could do—and she let it out in one long gush.

The long and short of it; she’d just been told she had a pituitary tumor, and she was scared. Terrified. Her doctor had spoken with at length about it, but after hearing “brain” and “tumor” in the same sentence, she sort of shut down. She heard that she needed to go to the endocrinology clinic, but that was about it.

I know the feeling.

I put the book down—it’ll be there tonight when I decide to curl up in a comfy chair and read—and told her that I’d gone through the whole pituitary tumor thing, and I could tell her what it was like for me. We talked for a long time; while I’m not a doctor or any kind of medical professional, I could at least tell her the things to expect along the way, and share with her websites she could visit, what the surgery was like, and what I’d learned about tumors other than the type I had. Hers sounded like a Prolactinoma, and a small one at that. Small enough that they’ll most likely treat it with steroids and not yank it out. I didn’t promise that, I couldn’t, but knowing that in the grand scheme of pituitary tumors her was small and fairly common, she relaxed a whole lot.

She also has my email address, in case she needs someone to talk to again. And hopefully she’ll be able to get someone to go with her to her next appointment, someone who can hear what she doesn’t.

(As an aside: I read a couple years ago that when you get bad medical news, you only hear 10% of what you’re told after that point…I can believe it.)

So I finally get called back to see my doc; my labs looked good, but the Growth Hormone levels were still out, so he’ll get back to me on that. If it’s low, I’ll increase my dose; if it’s normal, I won’t. Very Simple. And he had to call the lab to see if they still had some of my blood, because there was no thyroid function listed…he suspects that will be fine, too, since historically it has been.

He didn’t even say I needed another MRI. So all in all, it was very good news for me today. I did need refills on all my medications, so he put those into the computer and sent me off on my merry way…

…to the hospital pharmacy, and the waiting room was packed to the rafters. I took a number, sat down with my book, and waited. My number was 560, and they were on 520…it could have been a very long wait, but they were calling out numbers right and left, and it was only 15 minutes or so before they called me up. I would have been out of there in 2 minutes, but they were missing my HGH, and needed to see if there was any in the hospital.

So back down I sat. Right next to this very old woman, who reeked of two to three weeks of not bathing. And almost as soon as I sat down, she started.

“This system is awful. They keep calling the same numbers, and I’ve been waiting her forever. They need to change the system. These people are stupid and slow…”

And on and on she went. I told her I thought the system worked just fine; before they changed it, my wait might have been 2 hours. Fifteen minutes was perfectly acceptable, especially considering how packed the place was.

But she kept on…and on…and on. I finally turned my back to both her attitude, and her smell.

I swear, I hope that when I reach that age, I’m not that bitter, nor that mean. I’m sure there was a reason for the way she was, but I never want to be that person.

Doesn’t matter. I had a good day. I selfishly feel good about being able to make someone else feel better, I was happy to get all good news from my doc, and even happier that it doesn’t appear that they’re going to shove me into that overgrown lipstick tube that they keep hidden in the hospital basement. :)


The Things I Learned This Week

That when you own a business in Ohio, they expect you to file a sales tax return, even if you had no taxable activity. There may be penalties.

Brushing a cat’s teeth takes 2 people, but after just 2 weeks its teeth will be brighter and shinier, but he won’t appreciate the effort.

That’s it’s very easy to think of all the reasons to go home, and difficult to think of any reason not to.

Hiding your head under the pillow doesn’t fool the cat. He knows where your face is and can still get to it.

I can suck down a 12 pack of Caffeine Free Diet Mountain Dew in less than 3 hours, if my medication has worn off.

The cat knows where the warmest spot in the house is, and will stay there even when he knows he is being looked for.

Ten months seems like a long time.


The Not So Nice Of Ice

These images are why ice on the roads is not a thing to attempt lightly. It’s why all sane people should stay at home, nice and safe and warm, watching TV or reading books or playing games. It’s why there is very little out there important enough to risk this happening.

Those pictures were taken January 31, 1997 in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The truck was our finally-paid-off Chevy S-10, and it was totaled. We left home to head into town to pick up a few odds and ends a couple of days after an ice storm; we were fairly sure the roads were fine—and they looked clear.

We barely got a mile or two away from the base when we fishtailed, and then rolled over.
It was not fun.
It’s also why I am very tense in our current Chevy S-10 truck, and why snow makes me white-knuckle it every time we venture out. I’d like to trade it in on something smaller, but we owe more than its trade in value and don’t want to wind up top-heavy on a car loan.


Dayton was hit with freezing rain today, leaving the roads coated with a nice surface of Let’s Slide Around In Our Car. Common sense suggested it would be a good time to just stay home, but people were out there on the roads, getting into accidents, their cars sliding into police cars that had stopped to help other people who had also slid off the road.

I know what most of those people were likely thinking when they left the house: it’s not that bad, the city has salted the roads, I’ll be fine, nothing will happen.

But it was that bad, the temps were too low for the salt to do much good as the roads kept re-freezing, and some things did happen to a whole lot of people. The injuries were few, thank God, but by 11 a.m. there were over 30 accidents reported. One was a semi that just glided past a guard rail and down an embankment onto an Interstate on-ramp.

People went out because they figured they could. No different than we did back in 1997.

Problem is, a whole lot of those people are now going to feel what I do every time the weather is less than perfect; every time the roads are wet or slick or splattered with snow. It’s not a good feeling.

Anyone want a 2002 Chevy S-10 in near perfect condition?



The cat misses the Boy and his Significantly Better Half. Not only did he blog about it, he’s taken to looking for them. In the middle of the night. Several times a night.

The little furball has made sure I haven’t had uninterrupted sleep since they left. He stands in the hallway outside the bedroom doors, hollering his little head off three or four times a night, and doesn’t stop until I tell him to shut up already (no, I am not polite to the cat at 3 a.m. when he’s being a PITA.) I think no matter how long he goes without seeing the Boy, he remembers him, and he misses him when he’s not here.

And having had the Boy here for 3 weeks has made us miss living closer to him that much more—enough so that amongst the discussions of Where To Live Post Retirement the notion of forgoing the much higher pay Ohio has to offer the Spouse Thingy and going back to CA has popped up. More than once.

We’ve vacillated a lot. Stay here. Try Las Vegas, with comparable pay and cost of living (plus no state income tax.) Go back home to CA and take an extra year or two to pay off all our bills. We have time to make a decision—heck, up to the last month or so, I think—so nothing is decided, but the lure of being closer to the Boy is stronger than the lure of money.

Moving would mean selling my convertible.
Moving would mean 5 days stuck with a screaming PsychoKitty in a car.
Moving might mean never really being debt free.

I could get another convertible someday.
The cat would survive, as much as he’d want the world to believe we’re torturing him.
Money isn’t everything.


Um Bop

The house isn’t too quiet yet, but it will be. Sunday the Spouse Thingy will go off to work, and I’ll be alone in the house for the first time in about 3 weeks. And no, I don’t think I’ll enjoy that.

The Boy and his Significantly Better Half went home today. We left for the airport at a bit before 5 a.m. (after staying up all night—well, the Spouse Thingy had the good sense to sleep last night, whereas I stayed up) and left them there a little before 6 a.m. Saying goodbye wasn’t exactly hard, but I definitely didn’t want to do it, and I’m going to miss them both.

We had a good time while they were here, and I think we’re both glad that the kids could stay as long as they did. There was no pressure to get out there and do all we could do and see all we could see, because we knew we had time. It just felt, in Spouse Thingy’s words, like a nice stretch of quality family time.

And I gotta say, the Boy is not allowed to lose his SBH. We are totally taken with her; she’s not just his fiancĂ©e—she’s family. It felt that way right from the start, and even moreso when they left. Even the cat likes her ;)

At the risk of being too mushy, I feel grateful on so many levels right now. Grateful that they were able to be here for the holidays. Grateful that they wanted to be here. Grateful that the Boy’s SBH was able to come, and that her family sounded like they were okay with her not being there for Christmas, even though they were surely going to miss her. Grateful that on the days we needed the roads to be safe, they were. Grateful that they got home safe. Just grateful.

My life is good. Them being here was just a very nice reminder of that.



There are casinos for people who don’t like to gamble.
No kidding!

Yesterday, after a trip to the Newport Aquarium, we went to Dave & Busters in Cincinnati. I’d never heard of D&B’s before, not until the Boy mentioned wanting to go there while they were out here.

This is an amazing place. It’s the biggest freaking arcade I’ve ever been in, complete with dozens of pool tables, a full bar, and a restaurant. Best thing—if you’re under 18, you have to be accompanied by an adult. Not just in the same room, but you have to have an adult by your side the whole time.

No out of control kids running around.
No prepubescent voices shrieking constantly.
No pee on the bathroom floors.

I’ve always liked arcades and video games, but most of the time they’re crawling with kids, and the better games are never free. Usually a group of preteen boys stake a claim to it for the night, and no one else ever gets close. At D&B’s we were able to play the games we wanted, when we wanted.

The whole place had the feel of a really nice casino, but without the gambling. And since it’s only about 45 minutes away, you can be sure the Spouse Thingy and I will be going back.

The aquarium was awesome, too—in May there will be otters!


Mom, They’re Looking At Me!

Ever notice how a lot of Blogs start out as this nice spot on the Internet for someone to pour out their thoughts on everything from politics to the color of wind, and then morph into the typical “well, today we…” insert: went bowling, to a movie, washed the car, whatever.

Mine did that. In going over the archives in a stretch of boredom where everyone else in the house was either watching TV or playing a computer game, I realized that I went from looking inside my own head to tapping out a chronicle of my days.

And I know why.

Blogs are safe places to throw your thoughts out there to the world…until you realize there are people actually reading it. Once you know you have an audience, those impressive notions of I Have Something To Say become Oh Hell My Mom Might Be Reading This.


Yep, that’s what I thought about last night while I had nothing else to do.

I had another thought, too, while reading Other Peoples’ Blogs. Well, Other Writer’s Blogs. The word “author” sounds awfully damned pretentious.

What do you do?
I’m an author.

In spite of what it says at the top of this Blog, I don’t think of myself as an “author.” I think of myself as a writer. That’s it. Just a writer. And right now I’m a writer without a clear idea of what I want to write about next. I have a vague idea of the type of book I want to work on, but no story.

No story. Now that’s a big help.

Ok. So today the kids are going to plaster themselves in front of the TV to watch the remaining episodes of the second season of Alias that they haven’t seen (so they can pack the DVDs away to be mailed home tomorrow) and the Spouse Thingy and I are going out.

Yep, we’re going out.
To the store.
To buy cat food.

I have a very full life.



We spent New Years’ Eve with friends from the neighborhood, plus the Boy and his Significantly Better Half. We started out at a Greek Deli and after dinner we met at the neighbor-next-door’s house—ostensibly to play games, but the drinking commenced early, and we never really got around to it. It was nice, just sitting around and talking…the subject of how unusual this neighborhood seems to be was brought up, and we all agreed, this was one of the better places we’ve all lived, and mostly because of the people. It’s nice to live someplace where you know most of your neighbors, like hanging around with them, and know you’ll miss it terribly when people start to move (which will start this summer, as the first of us who got here right about the same time is PCSing out.)

Curt and Jaq left around 10 to come back here and order pizza—they were pretty tolerable of all the old people and spending NYE with strangers, and the Spouse Thingy and I came home at 11:45. Everyone else stayed next door to watch the ball drop and to ring in the New Year together, but we wanted to usher in 2004 with the kids.

They’re leaving in 9 days…cripes, we’re going to miss them.

But, they’re here for now, and having them here is a terrific way to start the year.

Happy New Year, everyone!