Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dream: Outpatient Waiting Room

I approach the elevator with my wife and daughter. I'm dismayed to see a crowd in front of it, jostling toward the opening door and then entering. But then several people in front of me hold back. They're a group that wishes to ride together, and they urge me to go forward. My wife and daughter are already on board, but the doors close before I get on. No matter -- I'll catch up with them.

Now I'm in a doctor's waiting room. I'm sitting across from my wife and daughter, who entered a few minutes before me due to my missed elevator ride. Next to me is an attractive woman. She's enticingly close, pressed against my left side, warm and comfortable. Well, comfortable for us, but perhaps not for my wife. I steal a glance at my wife every so often, but she doesn't seem to be bothered by my closeness with the woman.

Now the woman is stroking my arm, my thigh, my chest. She is wonderfully affectionate and attentive toward me. And then she starts running her lovely fingers through the hair on my chest, which is now bare. She gently tugs out small tufts of hair and put them on my lips. I kiss reflexively. Still my wife doesn't mind.

I enjoy this blissful situation, but I realize it's gone too far. So I tell her that I have to go to the bathroom, excuse myself, get up and leave the waiting room.

Out in the hospital hallway, I realize I really do have to go to the bathroom. I strike off in a promising direction. I go through a door that opens into a vast, brightly lit laboratory area. The doorway is on the second story. Connected to the doorway is a slowly curving structure of white metal with fittings -- not something one could walk on well. So I navigate it as a child would climb down monkey bars. There are small basins attached to the structure. I consider peeing into one of these basins, but I realize it might not be appropriate.

I decide to turn around and go back into the hallway to try another way. I see another door -- large, brown and unmarked. I open it and go through. Just as it's closing, I hear a man's scream that's approaching quickly. I suddenly realize that I entered the psyche ward! I turn around to go back, but this side of the door is smooth, lacking a doorknob. It's closed now, but I didn't hear the latch catch. So gingerly I pry my fingernails into the crack of the door. I manage to open it and squeeze through quickly.

Friday, October 30, 2009

National Blog Posting Month

Wait, didn't I just post about this? Apparently not, because there are (at least) two similar sites. National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo, is the earlier site, having established itself two years ago. NaBloPoMo encourages members to post once a day in any month of their choosing, and each month may have a theme. But November is the Big Month, since it mimics NoNoWriMo.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

National Blog Writing Month

I've just registered for National Blog Writing Month. It's similar to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), except that instead of writing a certain amount of a novel each day, your goal is to write a substantive blog entry every day.

I'm not at a loss for content. The challenge for me will be to find enough time each day to type it and post, especially since I don't like turning on the computer on the weekends.

Anyway, if you blog and lead a life that's nearly equally vacant as mine, why not join NaBloWriMo with me!

NaBloWriMo - National Blog Writing Month

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On Finding (and Keeping) a Pain Management Doctor

Five days ago, Jenny Ryan posted the following Tweet:
Has anyone here ever seen a pain management specialist? If so, do you have any advice on how to find one, what to ask, etc.?

This is my response:
Pain management doctors (PMDs) purposely try to avoid calling attention to themselves lest they attract drug seekers, fond of self-injury, carrying altered prescriptions. But you can ask for referrals to PMDs at the usual places you'd find folks who are familiar with drugs: your PCP, health insurance providers, support groups, and your local high school parking lot.

Your PMD will refuse to call in prescriptions for you. And every prescription he/she will write will have no refills, even though he will go on vacation when a refill is needed and forget to tell you. He/she has no idea how you will react to a certain med, so some experimentation is in order initially. The dose is intended to "manage" pain, not cure it, and PMDs tend to think that pain at 5 or below is good.

You must be a delightfully compliant patient, with an alert yet relaxed disposition. During your appointments, you should endeavor to make good eye contact and resist the urge to glance furtively at your watch or the window or especially the cabinet that houses the drug samples. Suppress all nervous tics, hand wringing, rocking, scratching, tapping, shaking, etc. Otherwise you will be suspected of an addiction.

It's okay to ask for a specific drug. But when the PMD mentions the name of a drug, "Vicodin," for example, it's not a good idea to respond with, "OOOh yeah, that's good stuffcanigetthatpleaseohpleaseohplease!" Perhaps you should not bring your husband with you.

Some of this is in jest, but not all of it.

One last thing. My wife despises her PMD.

Wednesday Weigh-In 20091028

Even though I should be getting ready to hibernate by eating non-stop and making my den warm and comfy, I instead continue to work full time and masquerade as a competent father.

Waist = 36.75"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What's Your Dosha?

My overall Dosha is Double Dosha Vata-Kapha:

What's your Dosha? Take the quiz at

Shadow Shot Sunday Sunset Tree

Just a red maple in front of the afternoon sun.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wednesday Weigh-In 20091022

The Weigh-In completely slipped my mind yesterday. So today's Weigh-In has a Thursday date.

Waist = 36.5"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Post Wedding Day Blues

Sunday, it felt like the day after Christmas. That was the day after The Big Wedding for my wife's cousin, an only child. Our daughter was one of the junior bridesmaids. She wore a special dress, which I hope will still fit her should she decide to go to the prom in seven years.

Our daughter had her hair done twice. It was twisted neatly into a French braid for the Tea Party and Rehearsal Dinner on the Penultimate Day. And then for the Wedding it was styled into an ornate up-doo with a few special wispy curls cascading down the sides of her face. She also had make up.

I set aside blog time to study the itinerary and get plenty rest. I was the designated driver and had to make sure I dropped off our daughter at the proper locations at the proper times, and let her travel in the limo at other proper times. I even had the car's battery replaced beforehand just to make sure we'd not get stuck somewhere with just a set of jumper cables and Mapquest printout to guide us.

During the reception, I danced with our daughter to everything she was willing to dance to. No slow dances for her, though. Perhaps I overdid it because at the end of the polka, she asked breathlessly, "What are you doing, Dad?" She had no idea how to dance the polka, so I just swung her around.

I write about the Event now with initial capitals. That's how my wife and I talked about it, as though it were the Coronation of the Century. Yet even though we think it might have been a bit overdone (with eight bride's maids, the groom's men were out numbered 2 to 1), the bride was refreshingly gracious about the Affair. For example, she specified the color of the bride's maids' gowns but not the style. The women were free to wear dress shoes of their choosing. And she went out of her way to thank everyone numerous times with cards, trinkets and refreshments.

So there was the big buildup, and then the celebration, just like the Christmases of my childhood. And Sunday was like the the day the presents were all unwrapped, played with, eaten, tried on, when we look forward to the next celebration.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday Weigh-In 20091014

We're preparing our daughter to be a junior bride's maid. There's a fine line between excitement and anxiety.

Waist = 36.75"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Long Shadows

I'm taking a break from Shadow Shot Sunday because of long shadows -- lengthening Autumn shadows on the lawn from a late afternoon sun, and a sadness creeping over me from a childhood memory.

The memory isn't of an actual event from my childhood. Rather, it's from a general sense of how things changed as I transitioned gradually from a blithe little elementary school boy to a cynical teenager. The thing that awoke this memory was a sheet of paper.

The sheet of paper was on my daughter's desk. It was a printed worksheet titled "Giving a Compliment." It had the handwriting of seven children -- that of my daughter and six of her classmates from the previous grade. Apparently the paper was part of an exercise in which six children compliment a seventh child by writing positive comments on the sheet. It affected her enough to compel her to save it. Seeing the paper made me think that she was trying to cheer herself up, staving off the same moodiness that enveloped me at her age.

Here are the comments that the children wrote:
  1. Nathan: You are good at helping people since you are tall.
  2. Rebeca: She is nice, caring and good at help [sic] Edit your paper.
  3. Jessica: You are considerate and gentle to others all the time!
  4. Sofie: You are really nice and would never say anything bad about anyone!
  5. Ryan: You are nice and never get in trouble.
  6. UN: You are really thoughtful.
The worksheet concluded with one last fill-in, beginning with the printed text, "One compliment I could give myself is that I," I am good at art!

Today, the sheet of paper is in the top left drawer of her desk, right on top, easily accessible for a quick fix.

I still have this sadness. What compliments can I give myself? "One compliment I could give myself is that I" I am a loving father!

Do you need a compliment? Now it's your turn: "One compliment I could give myself is that I" __________________________________

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wednesday Weigh-In 20091007

No time to write much. I've been trying to go to bed early each day instead of eat an after-supper snack.

Waist = 36.75"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Monday, October 5, 2009

What Did I Come In Here For?

If you're old enough to know who Fonzie is, you've probably done this before: walk into a room to get something and then forget what it was you wanted to get. You might've done this so many times that you know how to walk back to your starting place to remember why you walked into the room initially. And then you'll go back and get it.

Well, I do this with computer programs. I'll open my e-mail to get a quote from a vendor. But it takes at least 15 seconds, so by then I'm already thinking about something else. And when the Inbox pops up, I'll see a message from Mike about some measurements he took that don't look good, and another message about a customer visit for a project that's running three weeks late, and a question about when I'll be done with yet another design. After getting through all that, I'll close the Inbox, having completely forgotten about the vendor's quote. I'll have found something else to work on for a while, until I come back to the previous task, which required the vendor quote. And I'll open the Inbox and start that whole process again. And again.

If there isn't a diagnosis for this, there should be. Maybe this is just your regular old Attention Deficit Disorder jacked up on technology. Or maybe it's early-onset Alzheimer's.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Children Get Autoimmune Diseases, Too

I came across Stiletto Mom's appeal on behalf of someone named Kevin and wanted to draw more attention to it. I won't copy her post, but I'll copy the part that came from Kevin. That should be okay from a copyright POV, since it was intended to be forwarded:
Our pediatrician admitted it early on.

The rash on our 2-year-old daughter’s cheeks, joints and legs was something he’d never seen before.

The next doctor wouldn’t admit to not knowing.

He rattled off the names of several skins conditions — none of them seemingly worth his time or bedside manner — then quickly prescribed antibiotics and showed us the door.

The third doctor admitted she didn’t know much.

The biopsy of the chunk of skin she had removed from our daughter’s knee showed signs of an “allergic reaction” even though we had ruled out every allergy source — obvious and otherwise — that we could.

The fourth doctor had barely closed the door behind her when, looking at the limp blonde cherub in my lap, she admitted she had seen this before. At least one too many times before.

She brought in a gaggle of med students. She pointed out each of the physical symptoms in our daughter:

The rash across her face and temples resembling the silhouette of a butterfly.

The purple-brown spots and smears, called heliotrope, on her eyelids.

The reddish alligator-like skin, known as Gottron papules, covering the knuckles of her hands.

The onset of crippling muscle weakness in her legs and upper body.

She then had an assistant bring in a handful of pages photocopied from an old medical textbook. She handed them to my wife, whose birthday it happened to be that day.

This was her gift — a diagnosis for her little girl.

That was seven years ago — Oct. 2, 2002 — the day our daughter was found to have juvenile dermatomyositis, one of a family of rare autoimmune diseases that can have debilitating and even fatal consequences when not treated quickly and effectively.

Our daughter’s first year with the disease consisted of surgical procedures, intravenous infusions, staph infections, pulmonary treatments and worry. Her muscles were too weak for her to walk or swallow solid food for several months. When not in the hospital, she sat on our living room couch, propped up by pillows so she wouldn’t tip over, as medicine or nourishment dripped from a bag into her body.

Our daughter, Thing 1, Megan, now age 9, remembers little of that today when she dances or sings or plays soccer. All that remain with her are scars, six to be exact, and the array of pills she takes twice a day to help keep the disease at bay.

What would have happened if it took us more than two months and four doctors before we lucked into someone who could piece all the symptoms together? I don’t know.

I do know that the fourth doctor, the one who brought in others to see our daughter’s condition so they could easily recognize it if they ever had the misfortune to be presented with it again, was a step toward making sure other parents also never have to find out.

That, too, is my purpose today.

It is also my birthday gift to my wife, My Love, Rhonda, for all you have done these past seven years to make others aware of juvenile myositis diseases and help find a cure for them once and for all.

To read more about children and families affected by juvenile myositis diseases, visit Cure JM Foundation at

To make a tax-deductible donation toward JM research:

When I think of what my wife has been going through, and then realize that such little children can suffer with similar ailments, it upsets me deeply.

Shadow Shot Sunday Centerpiece

In this shadow shot, the small centerpiece of flowers shows up twice -- once on the wall and once on the chair.

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