Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chicken Bones At Any Moment

I glanced to my left and noticed a diagram depicting an upside-down fetus in an ear. Let the Witchdoctoring commence, I thought. This illustration was not exactly allaying any fears I might have had about volunteering to be treated as a pin cushion. My acupuncturist's name, I noted, was White Eagle. Nicknames seemed out of the question on that one. He is, by the way, genuinely Native American/First Nation so at least I wasn't confronted by the alarming prospect of some dude from Cincinnati struggling with a protracted issue of a contrived persona.

So where have I been? Being perforated, among other things, how are you all?

My son's long saga with his funky moles continues as more are removed and the people doing the biopsies, aware that they are examining tissue from something of a medical oddity, are being extra cautious. A twenty-year-old with one instance of malignant melanoma caught before it could spread is the proverbial hen's tooth in the medical world. So as patches of skin surrounding the three traitorous moles are removed, they are examined with a thoroughness that is both awesome and terrifying. One came back with "severely atypical" cells and was sent to yet another university for study.

This plunged two universities' medical schools into a pitched debate, the University of Colorado and the University of Southern California's had themselves a bit of a dogfight over what needed to be done. CU decided that enough skin had been removed, USC begged to differ and my son's doctor threw the decision into the lap of my twenty-year-old son, claiming it was up to him to decide.

This is the same kid who frequently has trouble figuring out how to make the microwave achieve the setting he desires. Unsurprisingly, I made the call on that and since he now goes in for four skin checks a year, I decided to err on the side of "Watch that area." The patch in question is between his shoulder blades and due to repeated movements, is a bit hairy to take more away from anyway. I actually do trust the doctor in question and if there was any question in his mind that it needed to be removed, he have said so. Saying that it was up to Flint was the same as saying he thought USC had eaten their paranoia flakes that morning.

Besides, he still has one on his head to go, on the top of his head, actually. I try to spend as little time thinking about that one as I can, as it hangs out rather too close to his brain for me to contemplate it all that comfortably. Its puncture biopsy also indicated that it is severely atypical.

Severely Atypical. Perhaps a good band name, certainly a decent enough explanation for some of his behaviors but not a thing I like to dwell on too much. Because my son is a Type 1 diabetic, he heals slowly and so we take these choppings in stages. We have that luxury as severely atypical means only that it was contemplating being something bad, but had yet to make up its cellular mind.

Let's hear it for bad cells that dither long enough to be discovered before enacting any nefarious plans. So good fortune, but a goodly dose of stress. This is probably a good description of nearly all of our lives, isn't it? At least I keep good company in all of you.

However, I managed to aggravate most of my old injuries by doing moronic things like clambering up and down ladders, while working out too hard in a bid for endorphins. Insomnia came to visit and then moved the heck in. The malady was one we can all relate to at times in our lives: Generalized Yuck. Migraines, my old foe, were becoming a daily occurrence and as is my way, I finally got ticked off enough by a body in rebellion to do something about it.

Die, stress, die! I declared. I've seen too many people fall to unintentional dependency when it comes to pain pills to trust the suckers, so alternative methods it was.

That's how I ended up staring at the diagram and feeling as if it was, perhaps, full of dung or at the very least, misinformation. That was a given, really. I clean my ears regularly and no fetuses lurk there. I sincerely hope, that is, because I shudder to contemplate the delivery process if I'm currently cooking one up.

After talking to White Eagle, I did ask, "So, are you gonna start rolling chicken bones in a moment?" "Yes, with smoke signals too. Would you prefer that I spit rum or vodka in your face?" "Rum, you can never be sure what vodka's been derived from, so you have to be careful."

A fellow smartass, as you can see. We were going to get along splendidly and have.

By the way, it's helped tremendously. So has the acupressure I had performed all over my darned body to help heal my Qi. This literally left me bruised from head to foot, with small fingertip bruises. I looked a bit like a leopard.

I also promised my 6'4" husband I would do my best not to croak under mysterious circumstances until such time as they healed, as he'd likely be a main (and large) suspect, considering that I had a bunch of bruises on my neck and at the base of my skull. They've since turned a very attractive sulfur yellow.

Boy, do I feel pretty. You likely won't be seeing this look on the runways of Paris anytime soon. It's made me look like cream cheese that has just gone over. Woo and hoo.

I've always had a bad habit of going to ground, choosing to not really talk much about things going wrong. I retreat into escapism like TV or films. It's a hold over from an iffy sort of childhood, where when things went wrong, I'd simply hide with a book and my dog.

Cricket from Cricket and Porcupine is a friend of mine and emailed me, hoping all was well and it was only as I was attempting to hide behind him, saying (basically) "Hey, could you maybe mention that I'm not dead, just hiding for a variety of reasons?" that I realized I'd be giving White Feather a reason to name mw Stands While Clucking.

"You have to learn how to redirect your energy, shut your mind down. Relieve the stress," White Feather told me.

"Dude, if I could do that on my own, what are the chances I'd have a needle sticking out of my forehead?"

His prognosis? "I think you might be Alien."

Told you he was a smartass. At least, I think he was being a smartass. I hope.

I try to show up around these parts when I'm up to being helpful or funny. Be well, good people of the internet!

May the chicken bones have no need to be with you.

I searched the internet for that ear diagram, but I only found this:

Anyone want a Qtip?

Monday, February 7, 2011

In the Basement with Sisyphus

One man versus a rock and a hill for eternity. It never pays to be a figure in Greek or Roman mythology, does it?

I think most of us can relate to Sisyphus, at least a bit. That feeling of futility that can overcome all of us in our jobs, lives, relationships. Housework is Sisyphean. You're not even done with the stuff before it is busy undoing itself. As you finish flourishing a Swiffer around you, somewhere a dust mote laughs maniacally and settles happily in your wake, it's the way of things.

Never-ending stacks of paperwork, quarterly reports, laundry baskets that never seem to be emptied before they are full again, most of us have that sort of things in our lives. There are figures in mythology I have very little in common with and that's something for which I'm tremendously grateful, as most of those folks seemed to be hosed but I can relate to Sisyphus's punishment if not any of his crimes. Still, it's not often and it's not without some form of relief.

Except my basement, that is. As far as I know, that is the true Underworld and for the rest of time I'm going to be painting that sucker. Not just because it's a large area, either. At any moment I half expect Hades himself to pop out of the storage area, flip me the bird and throw a pomegranate at my head just for chuckles.

When we first moved in here I bored the liver out of friends, family and readers here talking about painting, painting and when I had exhausted that subject? I talked about more painting. When you buy a large house inhabited for four prior years by a family with two teenage boys and a general aversion to all home maintenance, you'll likely end up painting a lot. Add in the apparent super-smoker who owned the joint before that and it becomes even more of a necessity.

The basement yawned beneath us, unpainted but fully finished, inhabited by my son for the first year and a half. However, he had an Icarus moment in the basement, or perhaps it is better described as a Prometheus moment, or even more bluntly: he nearly burned us to crisps in our beds one night causing me to release the Kraken within and boot his butt to one of the upstairs bedrooms. He didn't manage to set off the most hated of alarms at least, so at least the gods were smiling on me that night. Or smirking in my general direction, or something.

So he moved upstairs and we ventured downstairs and began to paint. And paint. When we were done with that we cursed a bunch and then we painted some more. The Super-Smokers I referenced before, who owned this house for five years and smoked in every square inch of its four thousand and some square feet, had the basement refinished, but for whatever reason they never had it painted. The only thing adorning the walls and baseboards down there is the drywall primer. I had hope it was just cream colored paint rendered dingy from the long ago dedicated Puffer, but no, it's primer.

This is only important because drywall primer is porous stuff. If it isn't rather promptly painted, it becomes more so.

If you listen closely on a still night, you might actually hear our gigantic basement taking another big slurp of paint. It drank the first two coats on both the walls and the ceiling almost as quickly as I could put them on the walls. They disappeared, letting the yellowed primer bleed back through.

On the third coat it looked like I was going to reach the summit with my rock, but alas it was not to be. By the time I got the third coat on I discovered something entirely horrifying. When I got a gander at the actual color, when it wasn't being sponged up by the drywall, I didn't actually like it. I'm sure there's a mythological figure that would cover that one too but instead of trying to think up one, I basically stuck a wide straw into a bottle of rum and toasted the death of my sanity with my husband. Cheers, Bacchus!

Luckily, the fourth coat is a good color. Of course, I'm going to need to do two coats of that color and then there are the stripes we have planned for one area of the echoing space.

So if you need me, I'll be in the basement with Sisyphus and my husband, who is far too nice a man to be featured in mythology, only he did do a bit of an Achilles impression just yesterday. Rob's tall enough to paint the ceiling easily without a ladder, but he'd hopped atop a stepladder to do some detail work at the top of a wall. Behind him lurked a pool table underneath sheets of plastic and that was easy enough to keep in mind. What he forgot about was the covered free weights.

I heard a horrible clang and turned to look at my husband, who had turned a dreadful tomato red.

"Ow," he said rather briefly, but he's normally not the color of a fruit often mistaken for a vegetable.

"What did you do?" I asked with concern.

"Nothing normal," he gritted out and I let the matter drop.

It isn't that I was uninterested, or unconcerned but his answer indicated that he'd done something embarrassing in addition to being painful. You know what doesn't help in those instances? Someone grilling you while you're still actively in pain.

However, later Rob brought it up again. Now, as it happens, my husband is a runner. He runs six out of seven mornings. He's also very stubborn and runs despite the fact that he has persistent pain in his right heel. It hurts him almost all the time and since he is cussed (and large) he won't do anything as rash as see a medical professional, no, he wants to see if the pain will magically evaporate one day.

So, presumably a good fairy is lurking around in our basement along with Sisyphus and his eternal fate. What happened was that Rob hopped down backwards from the stepladder and jammed his heel on two, stacked concealed twenty-five pound weight disks. It hurt so much he turned dead white after he finished being various shades of scarlet. Then a strange thing happened; it stopped hurting entirely for the first time in over six months.

In fact, it stopped hurting altogether and still doesn't hurt. Even after running this morning.

Since we've been joking about the mythological figures in our basement, we tried to figure out which myth might cover that one.

Anyone know of a myth about the Ironically Lucky Duck? No? The Fortunately Clumsy Warrior? No? The No Pain, No Gain Painter? Still no?

Here I thought there was a myth for all occasions. I'd insert the completely obvious and over-used pun you're all expecting now, but I've got a date with a rock I have to get to.

Take care and have fun.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

May You Live In Interesting Times

Every now and then life becomes a little too interesting. Fascinating, really, and perhaps not in the ways one would hope. "May you live in interesting times" is alleged to be, depending on the source, both a blessing and a curse. It's supposed to be of Chinese origin but then again, anyone other than me remember that, "In China it is considered a compliment to the cook if you burp after eating!" legend?

Ah well, at least it was an interesting claim, even if I can't help but envision tourists, pleased as punch and belching for the gold, smiling broadly at their completely horrified Chinese hosts. I guess I should be thankful that the same prankster didn't try to pull something like, "And in Albania the only courteous thing is to chew with your mouth open while eating solely with your feet!" "In Russia it is the custom to fling Bortsch at passing strangers!" "In India unless you hang your host out the window by his or her heels you have committed a grievous sin against etiquette!"

I'll bet he or she tried, but the burping was the only thing that caught on. Anyway, yes, while interesting as a claim, it wasn't exactly a good thing.

However, while you still have a pulse you stand a chance at regaining some comforting boredom. Less intrigue, more sameness. Bring on the rut, I say!

I'm going into that because as all parents know all too well, occasionally your kids will become so interesting that contemplating joining the circus, the French Foreign Legion, or one of those strange cults that focuses insane amounts of energy on constructing temples from dryer lint seems the only reasonable option. My son has been posing some interesting problems of late and that's where I've been. Being riveted, so to speak.

I apologize for my long absence from the blogosphere and for being as vague as I can be without actually disappearing from view altogether. Sometimes you want to talk about problems, sometimes you want to get busy solving them. At still others you want to kick the stuffing out of a problem, take its lunch money and insult its mother to boot. I leave it to you to figure out what stage I'm in with my son.

I did want to thank blogger and all the people who dropped by after being named a blog of note. I'm truly honored, particularly since I've neglected the bejeebers out of this blog while being otherwise entranced by ye olde life problems. I've chosen not to tell anyone other than a few close friends the specifics and I'm doing that not to be mysterious but rather to spare you, and them, the necessity of having to join me in the "Oh what the hell, really?" chorus.

We all sing it sometimes though, don't we? Here's hoping all of your lives are free from that particular rendition at the moment.

Hey, to up the interest of the situation? Smack dab in the middle of the WTH Chorus my son had a mole removed and it came back as Malignant Melanoma. Yes, he's still twenty. He didn't invent a time machine and come back to visit me well into his seventies. Don't skip your skin checks, folks. No kidding, sunblock is your friend. For even more interest, it was caught as a surface grouping of cells that hadn't spread yet. For a moment or two there the Hallelujah Chorus easily drowned out the What the Hell singers.

There have been some funny things in life, of course. It wouldn't be the holidays without some absurdity. In fact, it wouldn't be life.

So for everyone who has followed the journey of Puddles, the wonder mutt I have something for you: we now know what Puddles is. You see, one of my online friends informed me that there is such a thing as a DNA test for dogs. Although Rob has fun answering, "North American Good Dog" in response to "What breed is she?" I couldn't pass up the opportunity to buy a test as soon as I knew they existed. A mystery solved for sixty bucks? Less than your average interactive Murder Mystery Theater evening, right? Besides, I shudder to think how badly I'd have to hurt Rob to get him to go to one of those things. I'd likely need to be drunker than a medieval laird too, so there's that.

We awaited the results anxiously. Friends also asked, "Any word?" after being told that, indeed, there would be an answer. A drum-roll would be in order, but so would some warming up of the singing pipes because that chorus I mentioned? Here it comes:

My dog is a Labrador Retriever, English Setter, and American Eskimo Dog. No, I'm not currently drunk, by the way. For real, that's what the results said. My thirty pound, Fraggle-impersonating, terrier-masquerading dog is a mix of things I never would have guessed. I was sorely tempted to mail a picture to the lab so that the technicians could join in the chorus.

For those of you not in the know, this is my dog:

I even know what percentages: Labrador is the most at a level 2, constituting 37-76% of her DNA. English Setter is somewhere in the realm of 26%- 36% and American Eskimo Dog is less than ten percent.

Two bird dogs and a yapping cotton ball. What is even more astounding? We read the breed attributes and Puddles has the personality (and tail) of an English Setter.

You never can guess the outcome sometimes, can you? I thought she was part Terrier of some description and part Sneaky Neighbor Dog. But it all lines up and makes sense.

Thank again to Blogger, to the people who stopped by here and to Hilary, who was actually the person who emailed me in order to say I needed to stop my comforting, escapist routines, get my butt back over to my blog and take note. Only because it was Hilary, she was far kinder and diplomatic than that.

I've always felt like if you are supposed to be doing something, the universe will let you know, somehow, some way. I have no idea why Blogger chose a blog that had been inactive for nearly two months but I was and am, really touched.

I have some absurd stories saved up. Time to get back to remembering that sometimes the outcome of an interesting situation can both a surprise and delight you, after all. For now, I leave you with the cutest image I currently have in my possession: