28 June 2008

It's true. Time flies. I remember quite clearly when she weighed only 6 pounds and 4 ounces, a tiny thing the doctor laid on my chest in the delivery room. She grunted a little. Looked like an elf. I fell in love. Happy 27th birthday, sweet daughter. Like you, your cake turned out just fine.

Another fire post

During the night last night, I got too warm. I decided to get up and turn the whole house fan on. It’s a mighty fan which lives in the attic, and it sucks cool night air from outside into the house through the open windows and up into the attic, where it dissipates back out through the attic vents along with any warm air that may be lingering. It’s wonderful. Running the fan is inexpensive, too, compared with central air conditioning, which we have never been able to afford and certainly won’t ever now, with oil prices going up and up and up while the rest of our economy crashes.

So, whole house fan on, I went back to bed. The cool air from outside flowed over me like soft, cool water as I laid down. It felt wonderful. I closed my eyes.

And then I smelled it, a horrific and noxious mix of wildfire smoke and automobile exhaust, replacing the relatively clean air in the house. Each breath made my nosehairs curl. A week of dense smog, thick enough to see floating in front of your eyes, and I’d turned the WH fan on? Doofus!

I leapt up and ran for the hall, turned the fan off.

So, as of this morning , there were 33 large fires burning across the state. Hundreds, still, smaller ones as well. And possibly more to come with the dry thunderstorms this weekend.

I wait out through each hot Northern California summer fearing wildfires. As a reporter and editor for 13 years in these mountains and foothills, I’ve covered too many wildfires to count for the newspapers I worked for. I’ve seen fires tearing up mountainsides, watched as trees went up in seconds like gigantic roman candles, and seen the charred, smoking chaparral they leave behind them. I’ve heard, up close, the terrible, voracious roar of the flames as they consume everything in their path.

And I am aware, all the time, that all around me are thick, overgrown evergreen forests, mountainside meadows and vast field-lands, all of them crispy and tinder-dry from several years of drought. This last winter I hoped that the good snow we had – nearly a month of “bad” weather that put the California snowpack up to about 130 percent of normal – meant the end of the dry years. But it was not to be. In mid-February, the snow stopped except for a few more brief storms at the highest elevations. And everywhere else, no rain. The clouds came and it was gray, but nothing fell from them. Month after month passed, winter into spring, and there was almost no rain. That wonderful snowpack surplus melted away and turned into a deficit. Again.

And now, with summer only barely started, the fires are here.

The weather bimbo on TV this morning was showing live-cam shots from all over the region. She was oohing and ahhing over how much “better” the air over Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto, San Francisco, and Lake Tahoe looked. Um, I didn’t see it. The predicted breezes are blowing, though, and perhaps as the day progresses the air will improve.

Update: The air has gotten a quite a lot better. The wind is blowing hard enough to ring the larger windchimes out on the patio in the back garden, and it doesn’t smell so bad out there now. So far, no thunderclouds have moved in. My fingers are crossed.

Heart on my sleeve

Here’s what a good cook I am.

It’s daughter’s birthday. She turned 27 on Tuesday, but since it was a work day and all, today’s the celebration.

So I get up early-early, thinking, “cake.” See, I bought this heart-shaped Nordic Ware cake pan – it has flowers and curlicues and stuff embossed in it – a couple of months ago at Placerville Hardware. If you’re ever in this area visiting, PV Hardware on Main Street is a must-see. Oldest hardware store in the West, I kid you not. Anyway, I saw that pan, thought of daughter's birthday, and brought it home with me.

Now, you have to understand, until about four years ago, around Christmas, I never did any baking. It was a family tradition started by my mother and aunt. Neither woman ever baked anything if they could help it, and both were pilloried each holiday season by the side of the family which did bake self-righteous and religious pies, cakes, cookies and candies. They baked, we ate. They looked down their noses while my Mom and aunt got into canned whipped cream battles while serving up the pumpkin pie, obviously not appreciating the hard work that went into the preparation ...

My sister and I, in loyal solidarity, decided that we would never, ever bake either. It was all for one and one for all, or something like that. And it was funny – an annual running joke.

Except that that this one not-so-long-ago Christmas I saw this bundt pan that made a cake in a shape like cathedral windows while perusing the narrow aisles of old Placerville Hardware. That pan called to me. So on a whim, I bought it. And then found a bundt cake recipe on the web. I tried it, sure I would screw it up. But noooooo. I made Black Russian cake from scratch, baby, and boy was it good!

So each holiday since then, I’ve made a slightly alcoholic bundt cake. The illicit alcohol and the fact that the years have taken most of my snooty and ultra-religious, righteous relatives off to See The Lord, now combine to make it OK for me to compromise my principles. Mom and my aunt still don’t bake -- this is a pact unto death -- but I’ve added a couple other bundt pans and started a little collection. I bake – literally – one cake a year.

Except this year. I've decided to bake this heart-cake for my baby. I’m up, early-early, thinking “cake.” I’m muzzy. I haven’t had a cup of coffee yet. Yesterday, I bought a devil’s food cake mix. I asked what her favorite cake might be, and she told me chocolate, with chocolate frosting. So, devil’s food. I get out a big bowl. Put the cake powder into it. Add three fresh hen’s eggs. Add a half-cup of vegetable oil. That’s all it needs, I think? The dog sits in the middle of the kitchen, watching me like a hawk. Something edible might fall. I check the directions – or rather, the little picture at the top of the directions. Cake mix, eggs, oil. Check, check, check.

I get my hand mixer, used fewer times than I have fingers, arm it with beaters and mix.

Coffee is brewing but not done yet. I tip the batter over the already greased and floured, heart-shaped pan. It … doesn’t pour. It just sits in the tipped over bowl, thick, heavy and turgid. Stuck.

That’s odd, I think. This is really going to be a luscious, dense cake, isn’t it! So I get my spatula and coax the batter out of the bowl. It lands in the pan, plop. And sits there, a gooey, cow-pie like mound. Hmmm. I tip the heart-shaped pan this way and that, trying to get the batter to ooze into the pointy-tip end, and up to the double mound part of the heart. It … sorta … does. Kind of.

Well, I think, I’ll just stick it in the oven. Maybe the 350-degree heat will melt it into shape. In it goes.

The cake box with the instructions is on top of the stove. I pick it up. And read. And to my horror, notice that I should have also mixed a cup and a third of water to the batter.

Oh, holyshit.

Long story short – I’m about to hit the shower running, dress and shoot off to the grocery store for another cake mix. I could just shoot myself, but that would ruin my daughter’s birthday party. And I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, baking isn’t my thing after all?

26 June 2008

The burning time

This was Highway 50 at 1 p.m. this afternoon, as I drove down the mountain towards Sacramento. Yes, I shot the photo out the windshield with my cellphone as I was driving. No, that's not safe. But I did capture, I think, what I'd hoped to capture, which is the sky and the haze.

It's the end of June, and temps are in the mid-80s to the 90s. Normally a late June day like this is not "foggy." And that isn't fog. It's wildfire smoke. There are no wildfires burning in El Dorado County right at the moment, but there are more than 700 fires burning all over the state as a result of a thunderstorm that came through last weekend. There was hardly any rain in the storm, but lots of thunder and lightning. And now, fires.

I've lived in California for most of my life. I have never, ever seen it like this before. The weather forecast is for a low pressure area to settle in off the California coast tomorrow or Saturday (and I believe it because my left elbow and knuckles are aching). That will, hopefully, get some wind blowing and move this terrible, terrible smoke out of the Central Valley, which is filled to the brim. We may have better air to breathe by Sunday.

But they're also predicting more thunderstorms this weekend, again with little rain in them but lots of lightning.

It's going to be a very, very long summer.

22 June 2008

A little overindulgence

I ran across this post today on the excellent Crooked Timber blog regarding restaurant portion sizes in the U.S., and how Europeans visiting us are surprised by the sheer amount of food we serve up over here.

“For Europeans, one of the really disconcerting things about visiting the United States is the size of the meals. Ok, there’s the phenomenon that the restaurant staff will let you take home what you don’t or can’t eat (and that’s an idea that many Europeans feel uncomfortable with), but there’s still the fact of the sheer volume of stuff that gets put on your plate. It seems it wasn’t always this way. Via someone in my del.icio.us network, I came across this article on how portion sizes have changed in the US over the past twenty years. And not only are American meals bulkier, they’ve also increased two or three times in calorific value. That can’t be good.”

I’m certainly not arguing the fact. I haven’t been to a fast-food hamburger joint for a couple of years, at least, but I know that places like Carl’s Jr. and Wendy’s positively wallow in the giganticism of their burgers. And when I eat out at more refined restaurants, I’m never disappointed by the amount of food that’s put down in front of me.

But because the years have deposited far more poundage on my delicate frame than I ought to be carrying around, and I’m working to get rid of it, I rarely finish a meal when we eat out these days. Well, unless it’s a grilled chicken Caesar salad. I ruv those.

But the post at Crooked Timber made me pause. Because when I arrived in Germany in the olden days (1986, if you must know) one of the things that struck me was the very large portion sizes served up at the restaurants we visited. Portion sizes weren’t something I’d ever noticed at home in the U.S., so I remember this rather clearly. Back home, I’d certainly never felt deprived when sitting down to a restaurant meal, but those German meals were something else again.

Imagine this one: In front of you is a wide plate. In the middle is a sizzling hot ground beef loaf the size of a slightly flattened softball, spiced and savory, and on top of it, a huge sunny-side-up egg. Surrounding the meat is a monster portion of potatoes, lard-fried crispy outside and soft inside (and salted liberally), and, as an afterthought, a small serving of reheated canned peas. You put your fork into the meat and out leaks creamy, melted goat cheese. You don’t have to eat the peas.

This was a very popular and inexpensive lunch served up at a little café-style restaurant just outside the U.S. Army post at which I was employed. Not having weight issues at the time, and of course still young enough to know myself to be immortal, I found it absolutely sublime. Such a meal is, we all know now, pretty much death on a plate.

So you can imagine my bemusement when I read that Europeans visiting us are astounded by the portion sizes served up at U.S. restaurants. But does the word “Europeans” include the Germans? If so, then there really has been a flip-flop in eating habits on both sides of the Big Water over the last 20 years or so. I obviously missed it.

Since returning from Germany in 1992, I’ve rarely fried anything but eggs, and those usually with a thin, tasteless layer of low-fat cooking spray coating the frypan. Oh, I’ll admit to occasionally frying with butter, but not much, and certainly not in the last five years or so. If I sautĂ© vegetables or meat, it’s always with olive or canola oil, and no further fat is added to my meals if I can help it. In spite of that, I’ve managed to pack the pounds on, most likely because my level of exercise went way down when we came back to the States. Over in Germany, I walked everywhere. We had a dog that required walking several times a day, but beyond that, using a car was often more trouble than heading out on foot. I took the city busses, too, which meant walking at least to and from the stops. Once at my destination, I walked block after city block, here and there and everywhere. We took the train for most of our longer trips, which also meant a great deal of time spent with feet on the ground, covering cobblestoned miles as we explored the old places and mysterious corners of Germany, Denmark, Belgium, and Austria.

Living in Northern Germany turned me into a fish eater, too. I’d always liked fish but hadn’t eaten much of it, since my Dad the fisherman didn’t like fish and Mom didn’t prepare it very often as I was growing up. When she did cook up what he caught, it always had tiny, thin, sharp bones all through it, and my sister and I were exhorted to be careful not to swallow and choke to death on them. It didn’t make fish eating a comfortable experience.

Still, I liked the taste of fish. After getting out on my own, about the only fish I ate was in the form of frozen fish sticks, because I didn’t know how to cook the actual item. OK, I was afraid to cook it, afraid I’d ruin it. And there were those wicked bones, waiting hook themselves into my throat and kill me.

But in Germany, living in a city on the edge of the North Sea, I was introduced to FISH. I worked in the U.S. Army Public Affairs office on the Army post in Bremerhaven as a writer/editor, and once a month or so one of my German colleagues and I would sneak out for a slightly longer lunch than usual. Longer because getting the lunch usually required a long wait on line. We’d drive the 15 minutes or so to the Fischeraihafen, or fishing harbor, weaving our way along the paved docks between huge, oceangoing cargo ships, giant cranes dangling steel containers and finally, we’d arrive where the tall-masted fishing boats congregated. And there were the warehouses in which nearly all of Germany’s fresh fish was processed.

In one of the these big steel Quonset-hut-like warehouses, we’d walk between long paint-peeling tables of crushed ice into which was tucked that morning’s bounteous catch – heavy sea bass, giant flat flounders and long black eels, mackerels and tunas and many other fishes I never knew the names of. And in our noses, the glorious, warm aroma of frying. Understand that in Bremerhaven, the weather was most often bitterly cold, wet and windy, so this homey scent alone was like the lilting call of a siren.

There was always a small crowd there at the lunch hour – rough-looking foreign sailors, wiry longshoremen and men in neat European business suits, hausfraus and giggling teenagers, sea captains and secretaries. Because there, at the very back of the warehouse was a small kitchen made up of cauldron-like deep fat fryers, mounds of potatoes and the iced, fresh filets of several different varieties of fish. And with our mouths watering we’d order … wait for it … fish and chips.

I don’t know what they made their batter from, but to this day I have never tasted deep fried battered fish filets as good as those were. I’m sure part of the deliciousness was because of the sheer freshness of the fish. Over the years I tried nearly all the different kinds of fish they offered, and ended up loving the flounder most of all. You paid your Deutschmarks and the stout, scowling woman behind the counter handed you a paper boat filled with crunchy fish filets cooked just that moment, and deep fried, thick-sliced potatoes so hot they were still sizzling. I always had to wait for a while for the food to cool a little before I could bite into it, but oh, my. If there’s a heaven, I just know the main meal of the day will always be fish and chips from Bremerhaven’s Fischeraihafen.

This is turning into a gastronomical trip down memory lane, but my point here again is that the portions, both of the fish and the chips, were extremely generous, far more than you’d get even today at your local Long John Silver’s here in the States. And no one has fried anything with lard here since the 70s.

I don’t eat that way anymore. These days, in my constant battle against tubbiness, I eat mounds of fresh vegetables, salads and portions of grilled fish or chicken breasts “the size of a pack of cards.” Nothing is ever, God forbid, breaded or battered. I eat brown rice and whole grain pasta and bread, and very, very rarely indulge in sweets of any kind. And when I go out to eat, I generally order that grilled chicken Caesar or the tilapia fillet with broccoli. There’s always plenty, but it astounds me to think that my European counterparts would consider it overindulgent. I guess since I don’t get to indulge like I used to anymore, I wouldn’t really know.

But it sure is fun to remember.

Note: The photo is of a fish and chip shop in Bremerhaven's Fischeraihafen that looks very familiar, but wayyyyy upgraded since I last visited so many years ago.

20 June 2008

Hello, I’m back. I hope you’ll all forgive my light posting these last many weeks. I’ve been … overwhelmed.

Back on the first of May or thereabouts I went through a scare when a lump was discovered in my left breast during a yearly physical. That discovery led to a mammogram, which I was scheduled to have anyway, and an ultrasound, which I was not scheduled to have. When that was done, I was told by the radiologist that all was fine, there was nothing to worry about and he’d see me next year when I did my next mammogram.

Cool. I was relieved. I felt a little silly too, since I’d blogged about it and worried my readers for nothing.

Well, although I thought it was over, it wasn’t yet. The radiologist sent to my local hospital for my old mammograms – he wanted to compare them to the new ones. And when he got them, he decided he’d better redo the ultrasound. I was called and asked to come back.

It was done. The nodule they’d found originally was still there, along with two milk ducts that looked, to him, not quite right. He suggested an MRI. I was sent to a breast surgeon for a second opinion. She agreed that an MRI should be done before any other action should be taken.

I had the MRI done. What a very strange experience.

Now, all of this happened over the course of many weeks, during which I wasn’t sure if I should be scared or not be scared. I’ve told myself I shouldn’t be. After all, not all “lumps” are cancerous. The facts say that far more aren’t malignant than are. Nevertheless, this has weighed on my psyche, pushing me down, leaving little space in my mind for more frivolous things. If there was nothing to be concerned about, these doctors wouldn’t be doing all these tests, right? They deal with this disease all the time. If they’re concerned, then I should be.

So yeah, I was concerned. Scared. And frustrated because it was all taking so much time.

In the meantime, I was trying to deal with the side effects of this new arthritis drug I’m taking, which completely knackers me (I love that British expression) for a couple of days each week. I wrote about that in an earlier post.

Finally, I had another appointment with the breast surgeon. This time, she’d have both the ultrasound and MRI results in front of her, and she could make a determination. I went to the appointment on Wednesday this week, glad that finally, whatever the outcome was, I’d know what was going on.

It was not to be. The surgeon had not received the MRI results; somehow, they’d been lost between the civilian radiological company that did the MRI and the VA medical center. She couldn’t tell me anything without them. She was apologetic, promised she’d call me as soon as they were tracked down and she could take a look and read the radiologist’s report.

I was, of course, very let down. Furious, really, but what can you do? The records weren’t lost on purpose, and the VA is a huge – even ginormous – bureaucracy. These things happen. I knew it wouldn’t help to get angry. So I left the appointment frustrated and still in the dark. Breast cancer? Who knows?

This story isn’t funny, but it has it’s funny moments. Today, also as part of the yearly physical, I had a colonoscopy. I spent yesterday dealing with the effects of laxatives and the drinking of an entire gallon of the most vile liquid I’ve ever tasted, “cleansing” in preparation. Long story short: They did the colonoscopy this morning. I was sedated and don’t remember much. They found two polyps and nipped them out. They’re at the lab for biopsy. The doctor told me he wasn’t worried, but they routinely nip and check any polyps they find.

These people are incredibly thorough, aren’t they?

So when he got me home, Mr. Wren just sort of poured me into bed, and that’s where I’ve stayed most of the day, sleeping off the sedation. I woke wanting a cup of coffee. Got that, and sat down at my laptop to read the news, check out my blog buddies and wait for this strange, woozy feeling to pass.

And lo and behold, the breast surgeon called. She finally had my pictures in front of her. She said that while the MRI leads her to believe that the nodule is probably benign, and the suspect ducts look normal, she wants to go ahead and do a biopsy. This was the recommendation of the civilian radiologist who read the MRI, as well. She told me that 19 times out of 20, the lump is benign. But since breast cancer is such a devastating disease, she’d rather be absolutely sure.

Well, I’m all for being sure.

Oddly, her phone call calmed me, even though I still don’t know one way or another. I’m still a little scared – who wouldn’t be? – but I’m feeling more confident that I don’t have this disease. And I’m thankful for a medical system that will go to such lengths to be sure.

The Veteran’s Administration gets dinged a lot for not being able to care for all of our country’s veterans as well as they deserve to be cared for. Like any large bureaucracy, there are problems. Communications break down. Doctors and other healthcare professionals are overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of patients they need to care for. And over the last seven years, funding for vital programs, employees and infrastructure has been slashed to the bone. Cronyism has taken a huge toll.

And yet the dedicated health care professionals who work for the VA deserve kudos, too. I’m new to the VA medical system, and I’ve experienced some frustrations with it. But I’m here to tell you, I’ve never been treated with such kindness, concern, courtesy and downright friendliness by any other medical care provider I’ve ever had in the past. The VA is over the top in that regard. They’re simply excellent.

Now, it may be that I’m receiving my care from an extraordinary facility and some extraordinary doctors – the new VA Medical Center in Sacramento is state-of-art, and staffed by many docs who also work at the UC Davis Medical Center, which is rather famous in these parts. It may be that as a female veteran, I’m getting some special treatment that my male comrades don’t – they outnumber female veterans by something like 90 percent. So perhaps I’m just sort of unique, a butterfly among army ants. Whatever it is, I’m not complaining.

I don’t know yet when the biopsy will be done. Coordination between the breast surgeon and the radiologist has to take place next week. But I don’t think I’ll be waiting very much longer.

11 June 2008

"Sleeeep, my sweety ..."

I am taking a drug that affects my body on a cellular level.

Methotrexate, the “gold standard” of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis for the last 20 years, inhibits the body’s cells from metabolizing folic acid, which helps them stay alive and doing what they’re supposed to do, depending on what sort of cell they are. This, in its turn, is supposed to inhibit the body’s overactive autoimmune response, which is what causes RA to inflame the joints and make them hurt like a son-of-a-bitch.

It’s all rather elegant, in a microscopic cellular sort of way. Because the cells would die without folic acid – eventually causing their host organism to shut down and die too (that’s me) – I am also taking a folic acid supplement which keeps them alive and working.


Or at least, that’s how it seems. Because since I started taking this stuff a month ago, I have been so frickin’ tired it’s unbelievable.

I take one dose a week. You read right. One dose a week. Until this week, I was taking three tablets of the stuff. On Saturday, I went to see my new rheumatologist for a check up, and I’d strapped on my courage, cuz I was gonna tell the guy I didn’t want to take this stuff anymore. I’ve spent the last month in a semi-daze, exhausted. Sleeping frequently during the day. I’ve felt weak, physically overwhelmed. There have been moments when it’s all I can do just to get up and go to the bathroom.

He actually smiled when I told him what the drug was doing to me. “That’s a quite common side effect,” he said. I didn’t tell him, but I knew that already because I googled the fookin’ stuff and came across several message boards where people of all ages and both genders complained, sometimes in CAPS, that this drug was killing them. “Works great for my arthritis,” one person wrote. “But it’s killing me.”

“It makes me feel disconnected from myself,” wrote another.

I can relate.

I said to my doc, “It’s making me really tired. I feel drained. No energy. I have to take naps.”

My doc smiled. I like him. He’s a rather large, striking cocoa-skinned man with gray fuzz on his head. Golden, wire-rimmed glasses. A kind smile. I think he might have grown up in Jamaica, or Haiti. His speaking voice is deep and mellifluous, and he says “a-gane” for “again.” He’s straightforward and, for a doctor, quite forthcoming with information.

He told me a-gane that methotrexate is the “gold standard.” It works beautifully for lots of people who sufffer from RA. Originally, it was used only as a chemotherapy drug to treat cancer, but at some point they began to realize that even as the drug killed cancer cells, it also seemed to arrest the progression of RA in the patients that had that, too, on top of cancer. Their joint pain diminished. And so in the mid-80s, after trials, it was made available for use in treating RA as well, though in much, much lower doses.

“I would really like you to keep taking it,” my doc said gravely. “You have severe , active RA, and methotrexate can be very helpful. For some people, this annoying side effect lessens over time. I believe it’s the best drug you can take right now.”

“Oh,” I said. He didn’t have to actually call me a crybaby to make me feel like one.

“I started you on a very low dose to see how you’d tolerate the drug. Some people have violent stomach upsets with it, but you don’t. So I’d like to double the dose and get you up to a therapeutic level.”

“Um…” I began.

“I’d like you to try taking it in phases. Over a 24-hour period, take the six tablets two at a time. Say at dinner, then breakfast, then dinner again. In some cases that can help to mitigate the feeling of exhaustion.”

“OK,” I said, feeling like a limp dishrag. Where was my resolve? I really had planned to tell this nice man where he could stuff his evil drug.

So, on Saturday night, I took the first two tablets. On Sunday, I took two more in the morning, and the last two with dinner that evening. So far, so good. I felt fine Sunday, all day.

On Monday, I felt fine. No urge to drag myself, panting, back into bed. On Tuesday, same thing, except in the mid-afternoon, when suddenly I felt as if I was standing in the middle of the Wicked Witch of the West’s poppy field with Dorothy and the gang. “It isn’t the methotrexate,” I told myself desperately. “It’s just the mid-afternoon sleepies. Everyone gets those. Ignore them, they’ll go away.” They did, but slowly.

Cool, I thought. It worked! Thanks, doc! I was pleased. I could keep taking the “gold standard” medication for rheumatoid arthritis after all. I didn’t have to be a wimp or a crybaby.

And then today dawned. I got up early. Usually, when I wake up, I wake up. I’m refreshed. I’m a morning person. But this morning I yawned six times between the bed, the bathroom, and feeding the dog. I yawned a-gane when I made coffee. I kept yawning. I sat down at the computer to drink my coffee and read the news and my favorite blogs. I yawned until I fell asleep sitting up in my chair at the desk.

At 9 a.m., unable to fight the deep urge to sleep anymore, I crawled back into bed. The cat was delighted and meatloafed himself on my hip. I slept for an hour, and then the dog woke me, barking like a fool at the meter reader. I made myself some breakfast, yawning as I poured my GrapeNuts into a bowl. I made another cup of coffee. Ate. Drank. Yawned.

A few minutes ago I went out to the car, thinking that I’d clean it up a bit. You know, dust the console, vacuum the rugs, take out any stuff that had accumulated on the floor in back. Winter scarves, a yoga mat, a heavy coat I wore once and then just left in the car in case I needed it. Now the temp’s reaching the 80s most days and summer solstice is only a week away, I figured I should put the winter togs away and make sure I had a bottle of sunscreen lotion in the side pocket on the door.

I sat down in the driver’s seat and started dusting. A moment later, I stopped. I could barely lift my arms. I was so sleepy it was almost scary. I sat there a minute, gathering my wits, and then forced myself to get up, close the car door, and shuffle back inside. I’d clean the car up later. Maybe next summer.

It seems that taking the methotrexate in phases over 24 hours only keeps the body from absorbing the drug all at once. Instead, it absorbs the stuff very slowly, which gives the cells, initially, a chance to drag themselves back up by the bootstraps between phases. But once the full dose has been taken, the drug settles in quietly and, while the cells are congratulating themselves for being so tough, it just comes out of nowhere and gives them a massive one-two punch.

And I’m K-O’d.

I’d complain less, I think, if the pain from the RA was going away. But it’s not. It hasn’t even begun to abate. That could take three or four months, the doc said. It might not even help the pain at all, but it would slow the progression of the disease in any case.

I see the rheuma doc a-gane in 60 days. If I’m still having this insidious, energy-draining side-effect then,and he starts persuading me with his warm-honey voice that I like sleepwalking, I’m going to stick my fingers in my ears and sing “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” until he hushes. Because I’m all for slowing the RA down, but if I have to feel like I’m running on fumes for the rest of my life, it may not be worth it.

06 June 2008

I knew that ...

What philosophy do you follow? (v1.03)
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Hedonism

Your life is guided by the principles of Hedonism: You believe that pleasure is a great, or the greatest, good; and you try to enjoy life’s pleasures as much as you can.

“Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!”

More info at Arocoun's Wikipedia User Page...







Justice (Fairness)




Strong Egoism






Divine Command


OK, so I live for joy. What else? I'm into simplicity.

What dog breed are you? I'm a Labrador Retriever! Find out at Dogster.com

Yeah, it fits.

Tip o'the hat to BG for the fun.