nightshade1972: (Default)
Christ, not again.

I'm an active member of the online Undernet IRC community. One of my friends there gave me the happy news that her son has just gotten engaged. She's had some difficulty with her son in the past--he's rather rebellious and headstrong, and he's had several serious car accidents. So what does a mutual friend of ours say when she announces her son's engagement?

"Engaged? he obviously needs his head examined... probably damaged his brain in the last wreck!"

This is the second time this week that I've commented on how much I hate the "what are you, brain damaged?" remark, usually meant to be synonymous to "what are you, stupid?" Calling someone stupid isn't nice, regardless of how you say it. And this remark, coming on the heels of Whatshisname the alleged "comedian" who would make "jokes" about "waterhead retards" in his act...this bullshit HAS TO STOP. NOW. IT'S NOT FUNNY. WE ARE EMPHATICALLY NOT AMUSED!!!!!!!!!!
nightshade1972: (Default)
1. How many keys on your key ring?

House key, mailbox key, several retailer's courtesy cards, cashbox key, flash drive.

2. What kind of books do you like to read?

Mystery thrillers.  Lots of nonfiction, mostly history, medicine, law and forensics (NOT "true crime", which tends towards the sensationalistic, but actual nonfiction accounts of the scientific processes involved in crime solving).

3. What are some of the different jobs that you have had in your life?

Bookstore clerk, music store clerk, grocery store cashier, office monkey, housewife, in that order.

4. What is your best childhood memory?

Being a student in Anna Lenhard's fifth-grade class at Avery Coonley School in Downer's Grove, IL.

5. If you had a big win in the lottery, how long would you wait to tell people?

Other than immediate family, I'd want to wait until the check was in the bank, and we had spoken to a financial advisor to set up a plan for sustaining the money to provide a steady income. (I stole this answer pretty much verbatim from gridlore's original post; his plans jibe nicely with my own thoughts on the matter.)

6. If you could change something about your home, without worry about expense or mess, what would you do?

Without actually starting over and buying a different house, the two major things that need to be fixed are the electrical wiring and the hall bathroom.  As in, at a minimum replace the junction box, at worst rewire the whole house; and the hall bath just needs to be gutted and redone--there's a leak under the floor somewhere which we haven't yet been able to afford to fix.

7. Would you go bungee jumping or sky diving?

Neither, both would completely fubar my intracranial pressure, which is a Very Bad Thing for those of us with hydrocephalus.  Flying in a pressurized aircraft is painful enough, I'm not gonna launch myself out of one without a damn good reason, and skydiving ain't it.
nightshade1972: (Default)
As some of you who follow me on FB already know, hubby was in a car accident about two weeks ago.  He was driving a Mercury Sable.  A Tahoe was in the lane next to him.  A Caprice ran the light, t-boned the Tahoe, and the Tahoe sorta slid into hubby.  Rear passenger door was caved in pretty badly, and the window was completely shattered.  Hubby managed to drive away from the accident, the Tahoe had to be towed. 

Because hubby's car was a '96 with several other things wrong with it, our insurance company decided to total the vehicle.  We went shopping for used cars last weekend, and were so astonished at the high prices the various dealers were charging for vehicles with upwards of 50K miles on them that we gave up and started looking at bare-bones, but new, cars.

Fortunately, this is the end of the month, when the sales guys want to make all their numbers.  We had been looking at a manual-shift Fiesta, and we might have been persuaded to buy an automatic-shift Focus, for the right price.  Naturally, when we got to the dealership they had no idea about the bare-bones manual-shift Fiesta, so we had to convince them we really couldn't afford to spend a whole lot of money even if they didn't have that particular car.

The sales guy was actually pretty reasonable, all things considered, and we drove away with a two-year old vehicle with very low mileage, cruise control (hubby drives a lot for work, so that matters to him), and satellite radio capability.  Now I just have to figure out how to get the satellite radio set up for us to pay for it (already emailed Sirius about that) and we're good to go.  It's still more than we can really afford to spend, but hubby needs a car, so we took out a six-year note.  Yes, I know that means we'll pay more in interest than if we took out a shorter note, but we did the deal we could afford.  If we can get to a point in the next couple years where we can start doubling up on payments, that'll help, but right now we're pretty much stuck.
nightshade1972: (Default)
I wish more concert venues understood that some people who go to concerts have issues with epilepsy/seizures.  It's becoming more and more common, particularly in the pop/rock shows, to have some sort of projected light display behind and around the performers.  Sometimes it's a "laser light show", sometimes it's flashing pictures/artwork of some sort, sometimes it's a combination of both things.  The lasers/pictures themselves don't really bother me, it's the frequency at which they flash.  The more rapid the strobing effect, the more prone it is to give me problems. 

Several years ago, shortly after hubby began working at his current job, his department head invited everyone to a get together at the local bowling alley.  Imagine my (and an epileptic coworker of hubby's) surprise when, about twenty minutes in, the bowling alley shut off all the regular lighting, blacklit the entire facility, and punctuating the blacklighting were hundreds of flashing white lights! And this continued about every half hour for the duration of our stay, which was about three hours.

I get that it's "art", it's "pretty", it's "cool".  I get that there's probably a tiny minority of us for whom such displays are a problem.  But I still find it annoying.
nightshade1972: (Default)
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nightshade1972: (Default)
To everyone who lost their lives on that terrible day...Rest In Peace.

To the survivors, who've had to go on without a parent, sibling or spouse...I hope you've been able to find a measure of peace in the decade since your loved one paid the ultimate price.

I'd like to think this country's a little safer since 9/11.  I'm not entirely convinced that's so.  Ah, well, life goes on...whether we're ready for it or not.
nightshade1972: (Default)
For years, I've been a huge fan of the Quaker granola bars in the peanut butter/chocolate chip flavor.  For years, they've come in a 10-count box, for approximately $2.89/box, or 28.9 cents per bar.

Recently I've noticed that the package now contains eight bars, not ten.  Also, the size of the bars themselves has gotten smaller.  But my grocery store still charges me $2.89, or about 36 cents per bar.

I emailed Quaker to complain.  To paraphrase their response, they told me they could either reduce the number of bars in the package, or increase the price of the package.  They chose to reduce the number of bars per package "so that the price would remain the same".

Um...not so much.  As I told them in my reply, anyone who passed basic math in school knows that, even if the *total* price of the package didn't go up, the price *per bar* certainly did, since I'm receiving 20 percent fewer bars per package.  And reducing the size of the bars themselves also means I'm paying more money for less product.

I know a net increase of roughly eight cents per bar isn't a whole lot of money.  But dammit, as Judge Judy likes to say, don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining.  Don't tell me "the price didn't increase" when you know perfectly well it did.  At this point I'm actually less concerned with the price increase than I am with the fact the person who replied to me either unwittingly or intentionally lied.  The former I can almost forgive, but since I have the feeling Quaker told their CSRs to respond to complaints the way they responded to mine, that tells me that corporate knows perfectly well what they're doing, and they could care less whether their own CSRs, or their customers, do or not.

Just wanted to get that off my chest.  Grr!
nightshade1972: (Default)
My US readers may be familiar with the TV ads for a product called the Perfect Meatloaf Pan.  It consists of an inner "drainage tray" which is removable from the outer meatloaf pan, the idea being that, as the meatloaf cooks in the pan, the fat will drain into the bottom of the pan, and then you can use the handles on the "drainage tray" to remove the meatloaf from the pan, leaving the fats behind.

The TV advertisement indicated that customers would receive a two-for-one deal--two meatloaf pans, two cookbooks and two "perfect slicers" for $19.99 plus shipping and handling.  Hubby and I were at my inlaws' one evening, saw the ad, and decided to split the cost so we could each have one full set.  Seems simple enough, right?

Not so much.

I went to asseenontv.com, found the pan, and ordered a set.  At that point a message popped up asking me if I wanted another one.  I assumed they were asking me if I wanted the second set, or just one pan.  I said yes, I wanted a second set, and proceeded with my order, credit card info and everything.

Imagine my surprise when the confirmation email I received quoted me a total price of $107.00!  Apparently they charged me for two complete sets (four pans), at a price of $39.99 per set (double the price I saw on TV), plus S&H.  I responded to the email immediately, since it appeared to come from the company's customer service department, and there was no message in the body of the email stating "this email address cannot receive replies, contact us at (email) for further correspondence".  I never heard anything more about it, so I assumed (yeah, yeah, I know) they'd cancelled my order as I requested.

Last week (almost a full month since I'd originally placed/cancelled the order), I looked at my online bank balance and realized that the charge for $107 had gone through.  I contacted my bank, explained the problem, and disputed the charge.

In the meantime, I'd managed to find the correct website to order the pans at the correct price, and the pans had been delivered to me.  Murphy must hate me, because the day after I'd received *those* pans, the $107 pans showed up on my doorstep!

I finally decide that maybe I need to talk to a real live person, so I call their customer service line to explain the problem.  The woman I spoke to told me that all I had to do was write "return to sender" and the order number on the outside of the box, take it to the post office and mail it back--they'd credit me a refund as soon as they received the package.

So I write "return to sender/order number blahblah" with permanent black marker on several spots on the outside of the box.  I took the box to the post office this morning to return the package, and I decided I was better off dealing with a real live person just in case I had to pay a shipping fee or something.

I walk up to the counter, and explain the situation to the woman behind the counter.   In a very rude tone of voice, she tells me that they "can't do it like that", I have to write my name/address and the company's name/address on the outside of the box, *then* she can take it.  However, the original mailing label was still on the outside of the unopened box.  I politely pointed this out to her, at which point she rudely told me to "fix it myself or they wouldn't take the package", motioned for the people behind me to come forward, and told me I'd have to move out of the way so she could wait on them.

I got out of line, went over to the counter in the middle of the room, and wrote "Return to" and an arrow next to the company name, and circled it.  I wrote "Ship from" next to my name address, drew an arrow to my address and circled my address.  I got back in line and asked the same woman if that would be sufficient.  Again, in a rude and condescending tone of voice, she tells me it's not, I'll have to talk to a supervisor.  She then turns her head towards the back of where she was standing, and shouts loud enough for the whole post office to hear, "Hey, this lady needs a supervisor to explain to her how to address a package!"

The supervisor comes out.  I explain the situation.  We go around in circles for a minute or two, then as part of his spiel he says to me ..."since the package has been opened...".  I cut him off midsentence and told him the package had *never* been opened, and that's why I was confused about the original clerk's inability to process the return.  The supervisor looks confused himself, says "It hasn't (been opened)?", then regains his composure and very snidely tells me "Well, then, all you have to do is write 'refused' on the outside of the box!" I looked him in the eye and said "What do you think 'return to sender' means?"  He immediately starts to scribble out my own "return to sender/order number" so that he can write "refused" on the box himself.  I told him if he wrote through the order number so that the package got returned, I wasn't going to be very happy.

Then I left.  Wish me luck!
nightshade1972: (Default)
I've been keeping my gyno in the loop about everything that's been happening with my weight gain, the visit to the GI doc, etc.  She thinks I may have a "peritoneal inclusion cyst".  The information I found online suggests those generally only occur in premenopausal women with at least one functioning ovary, but my gyno tells me that's not always the case.  Hubby's been playing phonetag with the nephrologist/neurosurgeon unsuccessfully for the last couple of weeks, so I think I may just give up on that angle (at least for now) and make an appt with my gyno to get a clearer picture (no pun intended) as to what she thinks is going on.

Any good vibes/wishes you could send my way would be much appreciated.  Thanks in advance!
nightshade1972: (Default)
Which is effectively the response I got from the GI doc's nurse.

Yes, the results are in.  It appears there's nothing wrong with me from a GI perspective, but the "fluid-filled sac" in my lower right quadrant appears to be left over from a very old right-sided VP shunt placement I had as an infant.

I had my first shunt put in when I was three weeks old.  At five weeks old, I almost died from peritonitis.  That's an infection where the lining of the abdomen becomes inflamed.  In my case, the most likely cause is the introduction of my shunt, which my body perceived as a "foreign object".  At the time of the infection, they switched me from a left-sided VP shunt to a right-sided VP shunt.  When that one failed, they went back to a left-sided placement until July '04.

The scan showed "that I didn't have ascites, just fluid collection" (hence the title of my post).  So the GI chick doesn't think there's anything wrong with me from a GI perspective, but I need to follow up with both my neurologist and my GP. Oh, and she thinks I might have kidney stones forming in my right kidney, which means I need to see a nephrologist as well.

To be continued...
nightshade1972: (Default)
This one's about me, not my MIL.

I saw the GI doc last Monday.  I told her my entire history, detailing the stuff  that happened (hysterectomy, followed six months later by two shunt revisions) seven years ago.  It seemed like a perfectly reasonable hypothesis to me that my weight gain might have something to do with a small bowel blockage, or something similar, possibly caused by an overgrowth/infiltration of scar tissue from those surgeries.  So it was a little jarring when she looked me right in the eye and asked "So...why are you here? What is it you think I can do for you?"

I think more in an effort to humor me than anything else, she ordered a pelvic and abdominal ultrasound.  I had those procedures done early this afternoon.  The tech who did my procedure had a trainee tech "shadowing" her while she scanned me.  I noticed the senior tech had a rather concerned expression on her face, and she seemed to take longer than I would have expected to do the scan.  I asked her if she saw anything interesting, and she told me that I have "interesting anatomy...things are either not where they're supposed to be, or they've somehow been pushed up higher than where I would have expected them to be found."

Then she told me she saw what she termed as "a fluid-filled sac" in my abdomen.  Legally she really couldn't go any further than that: I'll have to wait to see what the GI doc has to say.

This is almost identical to the events of seven years ago.  While they were waiting to decide whether to pursue the neurological or gynecological avenue, one of the points the doctors raised is that it's not uncommon for female hydrocephalus patients to develop "pseudocysts" in their abdomen.  I had xrays, CTs, shunt function tests, the whole nine yards, and they ultimately decided my shunt was not the issue, so they referred me to my current gyno for the hysterectomy.  She had to drain fifteen liters of fluid from my belly before she could even start the surgery.  The day before my surgery I was 162 lbs, the day after my surgery I was back down to 134.  I've maintained that weight until recent events, it was the sudden weight gain which got this whole thing started.  Beginning around December of last year, by my birthday (late Jan) I'd put on 35 lbs.  As I write this, I weigh 172 lbs, which is ten pounds *more* than what I weighed *before* my hysterectomy.

And the icing on the cake, as if what I've just described isn't bad enough, is that the Paternal Unit has just been found to have a "small tumor" on one of his kidneys, which they found when he was having radiation for his recently diagnosed prostate cancer.

And they're keeping my MIL in the hospital for yet another day.

When does it stop?
nightshade1972: (Default)
She's having chest pains, and the last time she was in the hospital (early Nov) they put three stents in her left anterior descending artery.

The basic problem with her, other than that, is that she has high blood pressure anyway, for which she's medicated to the gills.  When she has to go in the hospital, that doesn't help.  Then she thinks they can't possibly want to keep her overnight, then she's surprised they want to keep her more than one day.  So when they announce, early in the morning, that she's ready to go home, she thinks that means Right This Second, so she gets excited...and her BP goes up.  Then they tell her she can't go home until it goes down.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  When they told her last time that she was ready to go home, they told her at 7 in the morning, and we didn't leave the hospital until after five that evening.  Surprised the hell outta her--didn't surprise me at all.

Anyway, any good thoughts you could spare would be much appreciated.  Thanks!
nightshade1972: (Default)
My GP's office called this afternoon.  Apparently my cortisol level is normal, and they want me to "force" fluids to try to increase my urine output.  Against my better judgment, I informed the Parental Units of the results.  The Paternal Unit was surprisingly supportive, offering to take me to any further doctor's appts--my next step will be to see a GI doc, because I have a sneaking suspicion I may have some sort of bowel obstruction.

Guess what the Maternal Unit said? Go on, guess...

"Well, you know what this means, don't you? If your kidneys are normal, that means all this weight gain is your fault!"

Now, I was prepared to accept the hypothesis that my meds could be causing the weight gain, or maybe I'm just getting fat in my old age--but my GP didn't seem to think so.  He said that, even allowing for the fact I'm 39 and not in the best of shape, I shouldn't have been at a stable weight for seven years and then suddenly put on 40 lbs in six weeks.

I don't know why I still harbor the ever-fainting hope that the Maternal Unit will one day be fully supportive and nonjudgmental, or that the Paternal Unit might someday see her for what she is.  I'm just glad I have Steve's family, and my online family, for love and support when I need it most.

My heartfelt thanks go out to everyone who responded to my last post.  You cheered me up when I was feeling down, and that's a big part of what friendship (and love) is all about.

*Hugs* to all of you!

:-)

Health woes

Apr. 4th, 2011 09:28 pm
nightshade1972: (Default)
I know I haven't really done an original post in forever, mainly just posting links for other ppl's stuff that I liked.  But if it's not asking too much, some good vibes sent my way would be much appreciated.

Beginning around December, within six weeks I'd gained 40 lbs, and it keeps climbing.  I'm not diabetic.  My thyroid is at the upper limit of normal, but still normal.  And save all the smart cracks about "holiday food", since we no longer have contact with the Parental Units, I don't do a big spread, and neither does my MIL, so that's not an issue.

So now they want me to do a 24-hr urine collection, which I started this morning.  Now, I'm no nephrologist, but I must admit to being rather surprised at how little I've put out since about 9 this morning. 

My GP thinks it might be nephritis, or "inflammation of the kidneys".  I know enough about that to understand that nephritis isn't generally a condition unto itself, it's almost always a symptom of something else.  In some cases, cancer.

I'm trying hard not to psych myself out, but we're broke, and hubby's out of town, and I'm sitting here feeling rather depressed and sorry for myself.  "This too shall pass", as they say, but right now I just feel bleh.

So, anything y'all can do to cheer me up would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks.

:-)
nightshade1972: (Default)
Poetic Frustration


I have to write a sonnet now
I wish I could--I don't know how.
My poems, they have never rhymed
I guess I have no choice this time.

So here I sit, all full of woe,
Of what to write, I just don't know
Perhaps of love, perhaps of hate
Perhaps of something on Channel Eight (local PBS station).

Nothing comes--nothing
Witty and clever
I could be at this
Task forever.

Forgive me for my lack of skill.
One day I'll write something better--I will!

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