Labor Day 2011

Words coming eventually…

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This Summer I Went Swimming

How do I upload a freakin’ slideshow? Here are the pictures though, my favorite from the whole trip!


And now:trip by the numbers

Books read: 17

Average hours/day at the beach: 5-6

Hours swimming/treading water/discussing sharks in the water per day: 1.5

Percentage of games of Egyptian Ratscrew won by my cousin Billy, he of the freakish pattern recognition: 97

Length of our one Settlers of Catan game, in hours: 2.5

Number of ice cream flavors I tried: 8+

Number of relatives I talked to for more than 30 seconds: 16

Number of hugs I received from a woman I didn’t realize I knew until a few minutes later: 1

Number of awards my dog won: 1 (Best Trick)

Number of awards my dog should have won: 3 (Best Trick, Best in Category, Best in Show)

Number of rainy days: 3ish

Number of movies I took my not yet 13 y.o. cousin to that turned out to be waaaay raunchier than I thought: 1 (Change Up)

Number of overly raunchy movies his parents let him see that allowed me to feel less guilty about that choice: 2343

Shark Weeks watched: 5

Number of unplanned side-of-I 95 stops we made on the way home: 2

Number of those stops that were needed because a bike was starting to slip off: 1

Number needed because the dog was freaking.out: 1

Number of accidental detours made: 1, through the Bronx

Lowest personal safety rating in that area, according to N’s iPhone ap: 5% (/100)


Fun had: priceless (um….does that work in this context? Probably not…)

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Don’t Rain On My Parade

Katy and I are currently sitting on the porch of the casino, which is the gathering place at Nonquitt. We are doing internet stuff. All around us, rain is pelting down. We had to leave the beach when it started to storm, but before that we got in a nice long swim to a rock where one year we  were dive bombed by a seagull a year or two ago. Luckily that did not happen this year.

For my final day with Sarah we went to the Garment District, where one can buy costumes, vintage clothing, and used clothes for a dollar a pound. It was amusing, and we got a terrific romper for Katy that I will take a picture of and post soon.

Meanwhile, here is the rain, and the clothes, and we are relaxing. On sunny days I am going to try not to get on the interwebs much: wish me luck.

P.S. So far, I have read the new Meg Gardiner and am nearly finished with the new Ann Patchett. Life, it is good.

P.P.S. My ankle hurts, which is sad. Here’s hoping it gets better fast.

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Postcards from Needham

I am currently sitting in a very comfortable chair watching (500) Days of Summer with my lovely cousin Sarah. We just went out adn got frozen custard with hot fudge (Sars: “this fudge ain’t no Hersheys!”) and now we are chillin. Like villains. Or something.

On the way from Milford to Needham I ended up stopping in Mystic, CT, to visit Mystic Seaport. I hadn’t been since my mom took me, my sister and my grandfather when I was around 11 or 12. At the time he was not too far away from dying and had definitely entered the Grumpy Old Man stage of his existence. But at Mystic he lit up. He and I walked along–I vaguely remember the visit and how animated he was, before he crashed. He was related to the guy whose whaling ship has the most prominent place, Charles W. Morgan (my name was nearly Morgan, after that guy: although I recognize that given the time period it is not black and white, I am glad not to be named for a whaler).

This time Zoe and I enjoyed wandering around looking at the boats. She has assorted fears, including but not limited to enclosed spaces, metal grates/plates on sidewalks, stairs without backs, and floors that may possibly be even remotely slippery. Thus although I persuaded her to go into one ship she was having none of exploring the Morgan, since the stairs were high up AND backless. But I did get to poke around in ole old ship, and there was a great see-the-bones-of-a-ship exhibit. And OK, I didn’t actually get to LOOK in the bones, but I saw some of it. We also saw a lot of yachts. I asked Zoe why I do not own a yacht, and she was unable to provide a satisfactory answer.

We had a lovely lunch and then walked around a bit more before hopping back in the car. My audiobook for this adventure was “Heads You Lose” by Lisa Lutz and David Heyman. They are exes who collaborated, each writing a chapter with no planning ahead.It is amusing and interesting and I really like the Spellman books, which Lutz wrote, but I must say that in the between-chapter notes, written by each of them, Lutz comes across to me as a controlling, arrogant bitch. This surprised me a great deal. Heyman doesn’t always come across as nice all the time either, but he annoyed me a lot less.

That said, it’s a fun listen–with the exception of the fact that nobody ever just SAYS anything, they REPLY or ASK or etc and it makes me nuts.


Photos from Mystic!

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A Brief Litany of the Woes Experienced By My Family, Fall 2009-Present

Kidney cancer (in an image I won’t forgot anytime soon, I handed the phone to my sister so she could be told while she sat on top of my car at the beach house, fixing the bike rack)

Lumbar puncture

Post lumbar puncture blood patch

Kidney removal

Post kidney removal kidney failure

Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer surgery

Broken ankle

Surgery to repair broken ankle (ORIF surgery)

“Yes, this is the minute clinic. You might be having a stroke. Better go the ER”

“Yes, this is the minute clinic. You might have meningitis. Better get to the ER”

Giant hernia requiring major surgery removed

“Yes, this is the minute clinic. Because you just had antibiotics for another sinus infection, I cannot give you anything else. You’re allergic to too much. Better go to urgent care.”

“Yes, this is your university. Yes, we are being assholes about this, and this, and this. Suck it up, where else are you going to get a degree?”

Stage 4 bladder cancer

Strongest chemo drug known to man, given in four cycles, at nearly twice as much the normal amount

Radiation given

Insane side effects that I won’t even get into

Modified Brostrum procedure attempted on ankle, where it turned out there was no ligament: surgery failed

Job loss

Ankle reconstruction, hopefully successful, for the second time in 4 months. Lots of pain.

Turns out this kind of cancer gives one a prognosis of two to three years. That’s fun news to hear on a Thursday!

Also today: air conditioning not working (high today was 102, with a heat index well above that); roof leaking like crazy; pink eye, COBRA not working.


Universe. Give us a fucking break, already. I’m thinking swim up bar.


An Approximate Surgery Timeline

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1230 Arrive at hospital. Get bracelet-ed up.

1240 Arrive at surgery center.

110 Taken back to surgery area. Rather than a stretcher they have a big chair. Give them some urine to confirm my not-knocked-up status. Change into an ugly gown.

130ish Give nurse and then adorable Med Student Chad my medical history. Med Student Chad is only on his second week of ortho and is fascinated by my ankle. Move the ankle around in it’s freaky ways to show him.

2 Tell nurse I’m anxious and am always anxious pre surgery. It’s true, ever since they left me alone for an hour in a surgery center before my tonsils came out many years ago and I had a full blown panic attack. Nurse says that the OR that I am booked in is running late and so my anesthesia doctor is not available.

230 My surgery is scheduled to start in 10 minutes but they are running late. Summon nurse. Tell her that she if she leaves me alone for much longer I am going to start having panic attacks.

240 A totally random anesthesiologist arrives and informs me that he cannot give me anything good because he isn’t working on my case. Would a valium help? It would help SOME, I guess, I tell him.  As he’s arriving my surgeon, Dr. McGuigan, arrives and asks if I have any more questions.  I don’t, really.

300: Med Student Chad reappears. Still waiting? he asks, and I say yes. Mind if I join you, he asks, and I say no, not at all.

3-340: Med Student Chad sits and talks to me for quite awhile. He is funny and interesting and it is very helpful to have someone distract me. We talk about how he is having trouble figuring out his specialty because he doesn’t get to rotate through everything he’s interested in. And other random stuff. I also showed him more ankle tricks and he was fascinated. It was adorable.

335: Another nurse finally comes in and says that they are coming out of the OR. Now they have to clean it. Just get the blood off the floor? I say, and she laughs and says something like that.

345: Anesthesiologist shows up with her nurse. I don’t especially like the doctor herself—I don’t dislike her either but she just isn’t terrific—but the nurse is very sweet. She inserts a needle into my arm with some numbing stuff in it and then tries to start an IV. It does not work. She tries again and again. Still nothing. She goes for my hand. Nope. There are now bruises everywhere she tried, and may I say, thank goodness for numbing stuff inserted BEFORE she starts messing with a bigger needle. Apparently the fact that I haven’t had water in 30 hours means that my veins are not interested in popping up. There’s no choice, the nurse says, they have to take me back totally awake and put me to sleep with the gas. Somebody checks to make sure that the doctor initialed my right leg. Med Student Chad jokes that otherwise they might amputate it. Drug Nurse says that isn’t funny. I say it was. Drug Nurse tells my mom they’ll take care of me and they start to wheel me back.

355: I am definitely a little freaked out and feel tears gathering at the corner of my eyes. Normally they start the knocking out process BEFORE one gets to the OR. It’s freezing cold and someone brings me a warm blanket. Every descends on me all at once, lifting the sleeve of my gown off, attaching EKGs sensors and pulse monitors, etc. It’s a bit overwhelming.  Drug Nurse puts her hands on my face and tells me to take deep breaths. The gas smells gross and gassy (technical term) and I feel myself drift off slowly.

4-645ish: Surgery. I have the operative report but I have no idea what it means. Apparently I was draped and cleaned and then the leg was exsanguinated and a tourniquet applied, which basically means they sucked all the blood out of it and then cut off blood flow to the leg. Hmm. Also, apparently there was all sorts of gross sublaxation and gross laxity and gross instability. Dense scarring was  found as well as a kind of stitches. Something called a rotary sucker shaver was used to debride areas, which apparently means sucking out the dead parts. Or something. Blah blah blah, basically I gather it was really fucking lose. He took, I gather, a 5 mm graft from another tendon ad did some sort of weave involving a tunnel in a bone. WEIRD RIGHT?

7-8: waking up. Slowly. I kept waking up a little bit and saying I was OK only to have the nurse push me back into bed (gently!) and tell me my blood pressure was still high, etc. I got more drugs. And my blood pressure kept getting checked. I drifted in and out for quite awhile before they finally let me go to the other recovery area, where I met Nicole and got my favorite part of the surgery, the post surgery drink and crackers.

9ish: They took my blood pressure one last time and explained the antibiotic/other drugs to me. I fell asleep so Nicole signed for it instead.

930: When we got home I couldn’t walk even on crutches. I crawled up the hill, up the stairs, into the bathroom and into bed.

Since then I’ve been in a fair amount of pain. The ankle hurts every time I move, especially to stand up. I think it’s partially the blood rushing to it. If it’s still and elevated it’s more tolerable, just a general ache rather than the sharp pain. When I move around though—whoa. I don’t like the way narcotics make me feel but I am not fucking around with this: we’re talking Percocet every 4 hours, an antibiotic every 6, and an anti-nausea every 8. Plus daily aspirin to prevent blood clots.

Overall this was a pretty good experience. The pain is awful and I HATED waiting for an OR but Georgetown exuded competence in a way that Sibley did not, and overall I think they did a  good job. The surgeon was apparently very confident that it would work and also very unhappy at what the previous ortho had done: when I get more details about that at my follow up next week I will post again!

My Dog Is Weird

Right after I stopped filming I had to reassure with an “all done!” which is what we say after bathing her or letting the vet examine her. This girl ain’t looking for any new love. Zoe, will you be my valentine?