November 30, 2011

Goodbye, NaBloPoMo...

This has been an interesting month.  When my friend Not Supermom encouraged me to sign up for NaBloPoMo, I admit I did so a bit grudgingly.  I knew I needed a push to post more consistently (I've never done particularly well without deadlines), but I also doubted whether or not I could keep it up daily.  But I did.  And I am better for it.

Sure, I copped out on more than a few days, posting humorous pictures and the like just to fill up space.  No doubt I'm not the only one of the 2000+ November NaBloPoMo bloggers to do so.  And I'm secretly proud of the fact that I didn't have to resort to using one of the daily writing prompts to get me started.  Still, the discipline of a deadline helped and I somehow managed to post each and every day this month--sometimes within minutes of midnight, but daily nonetheless.  In the process I have learned a little more about what works for me and what doesn't when blogging, which is valuable information.  Also, I have gained 4 new followers over the course of the month, won a Liebster award, and have now had over 4,700 page views.  That's quite a significant increase from the the molasses-like creeping towards the 3,000 mark of only a month or so ago, and it boggles my mind.

Hopefully I will be able to take this exercise and use it to my advantage.  I'll probably never blog daily--that's pretty demanding, and you never know when something unexpected is going to crop up--but I hope to use this impetus to keep me blogging at least 2-3 times a week instead of once a month.

So thank you, Not Supermom, for encouraging me in the first place and for Liebsterizing me, and thank you BlogHer for providing me a platform in which to share my thoughts and experiences and to trade them with all of the other amazing women bloggers out there.

Pretty cool, when you think about it.

Doctor Earnest, Body Pictionary and the Sparkle Salvo

A week ago today, merely 3 days after my surgery, I hobbled off to see my new primary care physician.  I would have simply rescheduled given the circumstances, but I didn't have much choice since I'd completely run out of my blood pressure meds the day before.  The hubs had to stay home from work to drive me to the doctor's because I still wasn't allowed to drive myself, what with the being all hopped up on drugs and everything.  Every bump was torturous, particularly when I wasn't given enough warning to brace my ouchy stomach against the impact.  It's a little pathetic that it took me 16 months to find a doctor down here that was both accepting new patients and my insurance, but there you go.

Mercifully the waiting room was not busy, so I only sat 5-10 minutes--just long enough to see who won Dancing With the Stars (like the war hero was ever NOT going to win)--before heading back to run down my stats and meds with the nurse, after which I was taken to an examining room and told to sit on the table.  Yo, Nursie--that's a little easier said than done just at the moment.  I stood there contemplating the little step and the distance to hoist my patootie up onto the seat, then climbed up on the step.  At this point I was at a bit of a loss, so I ended up turning in circles two or three times like a dog before finally figuring out how to scootch onto the seat with as little pain as possible.  Mission mostly accomplished.

"Come here and I will taunt you a second time..."

Having successfully (more or less) navigated the examining table, I quickly became bored, having foolishly forgotten to bring a book.  I looked all around the room, just like I always do, observing all the little jars and contraptions on the counter and all the pictures hung in the room, as well as the inevitable ugly wallpaper.  If I'd been less physically compromised, there is every possibility that I would have snooped in the drawers as well, being the curious sort of person that I am.  Don't worry, though.  I don't look in your medicine cabinets or bathroom drawers (most of the time, anyway).  So there I sat, bored and distracted, till I noticed one of the fake "sparkles" on my t-shirt had fallen on the floor.  And, just so you know, it was that shirt--the one that got me busted by TSA and resulted in a groping free-for-all, minus dinner first.  I brushed my hand against the shirt and a couple more rhinestones popped off.  I probably should have just quit at this point, but of course I didn't.  After all, it was something new to do.  Before I knew it, I'd spent a good 10 minutes sitting on that table, flinging cheap bits of glass and plastic all over the room.  Clearly months of laundering had loosened the sparkles because I could get them off both by brushing my hands firmly over them and by alternately slackening my shirt then suddenly pulling it taut so that the sparkles shot across the room like they'd been ejected from a Gatling gun.  The more that shot off, the more I wanted to shoot off.  I started aiming for things--the chair, the trashcan, the window...I'm pretty sure I even heard a ping in the sink once.  By the time I was done, easily half the little black and silver sparkles left on my shirt lay scattered across the floor and step.  Clearly I cannot be left unsupervised for any length of time.

When I heard rustling in the corridor outside my door, I rapidly wiped the sparkle remains from my pants and shirt and the table and tried to sit looking as innocent as possible in spite of the refuse peppering the examining room floor.  The new doctor came in and got right to business.  Let's call her Dr. Earnest, because while she seemed thorough and efficient enough, her whole demeanor screamed bland concern and excruciating earnestness.  Frankly, I was slightly put off, being the smartass that I am.  I'm pretty sure that Dr. Earnest's sense of humor (if she even has one) would have floundered were I to start dropping F-bombs like I did with the Minor Med and ER doctors.  In that respect, at least, I preferred the F**K doctors.  Of course, I've also now just made them sound like experts in fornication.  Whatever.  They're guys.  They'd probably like that.

Speaking of doctors with whom I'd like to f***...

Dr. Earnest looked over my forms, intrigued that I'd just had an appendectomy 3 days before.  I really wanted to say it was her own damn fault, considering her office had refused to see me on the Friday before my surgery, but it would have been too much like kicking an overly forlorn puppy.  So I didn't.  Naturally she wanted to check out Dr. "Don't Call Me" Shirley's handiwork, so she had me lie back on the table.  She gently and carefully inspected my abdomen, requesting permission to peel up the fresh bandage I'd put on the day before after my shower.  She continued to stand there looking concerned and exceptionally earnest, then said she was worried about the big red spot on my stomach below my navel.  I looked down.  Red?  Please--it was pink at best.  I told her I'd just assumed it was razor burn from the nurses shaving off my strip of belly hair, adding that my skin tended to be extremely sensitive; for example, the adhesive from my C-Section dressings caused an allergic reaction, leaving stippled red marks all over my stomach.  She replied that she had noticed a reaction to the bandage she'd just peeled off, but was still earnestly concerned about it and said that while they were very good at "bagging the appendix on the way out" (Ewww--so didn't need to hear that) to make sure it didn't contaminate anything, sometimes it could still cause infections.  I must have made a face at this point because she immediately put her hand up and rushed to assure me that she didn't think I had any infection INSIDE, but maybe just on the skin outside.  She seemed very put out that I hadn't been sent home with antibiotics.  I still wasn't particularly fussed about the pink skin; heck, I still had a big red circle on the side of my boob from where they'd put the EKG patch.  Even today you can still see the outline where it damaged my skin.  Nothing like having an extra areola lying around.  Clearly she wasn't inclined to let it go, though, what with all her tutting and fretting.  Then she asked if she could draw on me.  Um, what?  "Okay, suuuuuure."  She took her ballpoint pen and put a line around my pink spot, telling me that I should watch to make sure it didn't go past that line, and that if it did, I should immediately contact them to have a prescription for antibiotics called in.  She also told me that if it washed off in the shower, I should redraw it.  Great.  First the extra areola, now this.  I'm starting to look like people have played Pictionary on me.  Reminds me of when I used to let my daughter draw all over my legs with her gel pens.

"Oh, Mommy...ready or not, here I come!"

Dr. Earnest told me to go ahead and sit up and then stared stupidly at me lying there till I told her it just wasn't gonna happen without her help, considering my ab muscles had recently been sliced and diced.  She dutifully (if confusedly) helped me up then gave me prescriptions for my meds, both a 30-day one which I could immediately refill since I was out, as well as a 90-day one so I could finally use the mail-order pharmacy on our insurance.  Sweet.  Then I went home and spent the next three days being paranoid over whether my pink spot was spreading past the lines or not, ignoring the fact that I was usually looking after I'd just been holding my stomach down while I coughed or sneezed, thus making it redder.  In the meantime, my stomach kept itching, so I finally took the Band-Aids off.  The big one I'd had around my belly button had rippled on my skin like Band-Aids do, leaving a blister in each ripple pocket.  Great.  I peeled off all the Band-aids, cleaned everything, put on antibiotic cream, then replaced the big Band-Aids with smaller, "non-stick" ones.  I still have scabs leftover from those stupid blisters.  Two days later, my stomach was once again itching incessantly and burning (and not just because they had to shave me); I thought that if I didn't get the big bandage off immediately I was going to scream.  I ran to the bathroom, peeled it off, and instead of blisters it had rubbed my skin so raw this time that some of the skin came off with the bandage.  Awesome.  Now the assorted red marks from my various dressings comprise more surface damage than the lappy appy itself does.  I seriously need to get myself some of those clear, waterproof dressings that they use in the hospital.  Those didn't damage me at all.  Needless to say, I loaded up on antibiotic cream once again and stopped wearing bandages altogether.

Comfort-Flex my ass.

Here I am, a week later, mostly recovered from my surgery and doctor visit.  Scabs are starting to fall off, I can once again lie on my stomach, and I'm only hopped up on blood pressure meds (I stopped the Lortab a week ago) and Allegra.  You'll also be relieved to know that the pink patch faded back into a normal skin tone, having never crossed the line.  I finally got to drive yesterday and even made it through my penultimate chorale rehearsal before our concert next week.  The only thing I still struggle with is a cough and dry throat courtesy of Dr. Jolly ("It will only be sore one day" my ass) and whatever germs I inhaled in the hospital.  So much for the zealous protection of my voice and throat during my cold 3 weeks ago...still, it could be worse.  It could have gone to bronchitis, but hasn't yet.  At least if it does I know that Dr. Earnest will be happy to give me all the antibiotics I want.  Every day I move a little more freely and hurt a little less, though I still largely have the stamina of a gnat.  But it's coming along.  It really has been quite the bizarre year for me, medically speaking, and I fervently hope there are no repeats of it next year.   On the plus side, I can only get appendicitis once.  Done.


November 29, 2011

Procrastination

Given that I have approximately 10 minutes to put up my penultimate post, this cartoon from chibird seems appropriate:

Add caption

 "Procrastin-a-a-tion is making me late..."  Yup.  Story of my life.

November 28, 2011

The One With the Recovery and the Cannibalism

And now, part two of the Great Surgery Saga.  The surgery itself went pretty well, or so I'm told; obviously I wasn't exactly conscious for the proceedings.  The procedure took maybe an hour, then it was maybe another half hour before I started coming around in Recovery.  It's a weird feeling, coming around...it's sort of like waking from a dream, except not because you are slowly trying to make sense of what you're seeing through the dubious filter of leftover anesthesia.  Everything seems so surreal for those first few moments as though if you were to close your eyes again, it wouldn't really have happened.

As I became more aware, the nurse on duty started talking to me.  Eventually I was awake enough that they wanted to replace my undies, which they'd stripped off pre-surgery so that they could install a catheter.  And can I just say that  I will be forever grateful they chose to do the catheter after I was knocked out?  Nothing like getting to hoist yourself off a bed inverted-backbend-style, using freshly incised abdominal muscles, while a random nurse attempts to navigate your underpants over some weird Velcroed baggies surrounding your calves and up over your ample assets.  After what seemed like 10 minutes (or possibly hours) later, I was once again discreetly covered, with all personal business tended.  The nurse was very impressed at my ability to hold myself up for so long while she performed this service; meanwhile I was mentally casting aspersions on her parentage and encouraging her to speed up the process via the application of more than a few choice words before I either killed her or passed out.

I was wheeled to my room somewhere around midnight, barely two hours after I was first taken into the OR.  Though still a bit groggy, I didn't go to sleep right away, having already spent a couple hours enduring the twilight sleep of the dead.  Nurses flitted about as they do, checking my blood pressure and temperature (with a sad, boring, NON-temporal thermometer) and the like.  They continued to push  IV fluids and antibiotics and I was allowed to have ice chips in an attempt to mitigate the horrifically dry sandpaper mouth I had as a result of the anesthesia.  While on my second cup of ice chips, I was told that I would next get to start on clear liquids, then could move up to cool stuff like juice or soup, finally graduating to soft foods the next day provided I didn't hurl on anyone in the meantime.  Screw that.  I hadn't had a single crumb to eat the entire day and was the closest I'd come to feeling nauseous throughout this whole thing because of all the drugs I'd just had on a very empty stomach.  I convinced them to give me some crackers and grape juice, which the nurse did grudgingly, fully convinced I wouldn't be able to keep them down.

Yummy, pasty, saltines.  Emphasis on the SALT.

 
Mmmmm...grape juice.

I did, though.  And it. was. awesome.  For the next 30-45 minutes I nibbled on my saltines, first sucking off the salt (lovely, beautiful salt) and then breaking off small pieces and chewing them until they were macerated enough for me to swallow since my mouth was so dry.  While I was gnawing the first cracker into the consistency of wallpaper past, I informed my husband that I was "making paper maché in my mouth."  He raised his eyebrows.  When I took the first sip of grape juice to wash it down, I added "Ooooh, jelly!"  He snorted.  No kidding--it tasted exactly like Welch's Grape Jelly.  It was kinda awesome.  Later I told him that the "jelly and toast" were helping and that I was feeling much better.  I'm pretty sure he thought I was still high on drugs.  I wasn't.  Dry crackers and grape juice DO taste like jelly toast.  I think I pushed him over the edge, though, when I told him I felt like I was having communion (all good Methodists have communion with Welch's Grape Juice in little plastic shot glasses or it just doesn't count).  The hubs kinda half-choked, half-laughed.  I'm not sure he knew what to make of that.  Maybe he thought I was well on my way to Hell.  He should know me better...I've probably been headed there for way longer than this.  I don't think it helped when I looked up after the communion remark to see a happy Jesus crucifix on the wall.  Seriously.  Happy Jesus.  On a crucifix.  (As opposed to on a cracker.)  That's just messed up.  Maybe St. Mary's Hospital only uses Happy Jesus crucifixes because it doesn't want the patients thinking too hard about dying while they're there.  I told the hubs I didn't like Happy Jesus watching me while I ate communion.  Having Him stare at me like that while I was eating my juice and crackers made me feel like a cannibal.  It  gave me the willies a little bit.  I just know Happy Jesus was judging me...me and my cannibalism. 

Happy Jesus welcomes you to St. Mary's Hospital.  He does NOT welcome you to become a cannibal.

It took freaking forever to eat those six crackers, but I loved every single bite, cannibalism notwithstanding.

I finally sent the hubs home around 2 am so he could look after the dog and since there was only a chair in the room, figuring I'd be out cold most of the night anyway.  After he left I was feeling slightly perkier from my cracker communion, so I spent the next hour checking my email and playing online.  After that I did sleep some on and off, though it was difficult to do so around the cacophony of beeps surrounding me.  The IV machine beeped.  The oxygen pump beeped.  I had a blood pressure cuff permanently attached to my arm that inflated approximately every 30 seconds to take my BP, with "take my blood pressure" being defined as "attempting to squeeze my bicep so hard that it makes my fingernails shoot across the room."  There was also the lovely the mechanical drone of my Velcroed leg baggies, which turned out to be leg squeezers hooked up to a machine to make them inflate and deflate them every couple of minutes, thus preventing blood clots while I was in the bed.  I had entirely too many things attached to me.

The next morning I woke up to discover that I had a fat lip, complete with ulcerated blisters, that I hadn't noticed the night before.  It was presumably the result of being tubed by Dr. Jolly the anesthetist, who also told me my throat wouldn't hurt by morning.  He lied.  My throat wasn't the only thing that hurt, though.  My belly button was starting to feel like it had been Roto-Rootered with a red-hot poker.  I had to have a nurse unplug my IV and my leg squeezies and help me out of bed so I could hobble to the bathroom.  I kept feeling like my pants were still around my ankles because of those leg squeezies.

"One, two, three, squeeze those legs, two, three..."

Around 8 am the hubs returned to stay with me.  Before long I met the day nurse, who looked disturbingly like one of the Real Nursewives of Atlanta.  At one point she asked if I'd "ordered breakfast yet."  Seriously.  At this hospital, the patients literally order food at any time from a menu in the room, calling what amounts to Room Service from their phone.  I did this for both breakfast and lunch, and I gotta say, the food was pretty good.   Seems you can't beat individualized service; the foods that were supposed to be warm actually were.  All I lacked was a little vase with a flower in it on the tray. 

The doctor ("Paging Dr. Shirley--'Don't call me Shirley!'") came in shortly before lunch and told me the surgery had gone well, though they had to go through my navel in a slightly different spot than usual, because I apparently have a hernia behind the normal entry point.  Who knew?  Dr. Shirley (you know you'll never stop hearing "don't call me Shirley" now) said he would have fixed the hernia, but it would have involved using some sort of mesh, blah blah, higher risk of infection, blah blah.  Whatever, dude.  I didn't know it was there before, so clearly there's no rush to repair it.  You've gotta love modern technology, though--who knew a "Lappy Appy" involved yanking one's appendix out of one's belly button?  That boggles my mind a little.  The doctor asked a few other questions and was apparently very interested in the frequency of my flatulence.  Nice, right?  Afterwards, he told me everything looked good then gave me a card with his office number on it so I could make an appointment to see him in two weeks.  I was told not to drive for a week and not until I was off the narcotics (well, DUH), to call if my temp went over 101℉,  and not to lift anything over 25 pounds  for a month.  That means the hubs gets to be my tote and carry bitch for another 3 weeks.  Score! 

Dogs have ADHD, Cats have Asperger's.  I'm just sayin'.

We spent the afternoon watching a Friends marathon on TV, including the one where Monica and Chandler got married and Rachel found out she was pregnant.  My stomach continued to burn and my whole body had the itchies, courtesty of a Lortab side-effect.  The Lortab did help take the edge off of my pain, though it didn't knock it completely out, same as when I took it after breaking my toe.  The cacophony of beeps continued until at one point I yelled at the blood pressure machine to shut up, which it promptly did.  The hubs was flabbergasted.  I also have a traffic light karma he lacks and which makes him very jealous.  The nurses continued to demand my name, rank and serial number every time they scanned my bar code for something.  After lunch they make me go and do walkies around the corridor.  At one point I heard an announcement over the PA system:  "Employee turkeys available on Sister Somebody's Porch..."  Okaaaaaay.  That's the first hospital I've ever heard of to employ turkeys.  Turns out it was really just an announcement for the employees to pick up their annual Christmas gift of a turkey, which is still a little weird and nowhere near as much fun as turkey employees would be.

Friends don't let friends have appendicitis.
 
Throughout my hospital stay, online friends continued to entertain me with observations like "Laproscopic appendectomies are cool--your stomach will look like you've had 3-4 gunshot wounds" and "Sorry you lost your appendix; I guess you'll have to rely on footnotes now."  I didn't see much point in having lots of hospital visitors, given that I was only there about 27 hours.  After resting for a couple of hours while watching Friends, we finally headed home around 4 pm.  While the doctor refused to suck out any extra fat while he was performing my appendectomy (selfish), I still got to leave with the dubious distinction of being one of those very few appendicitis victims to completely forgo any nausea or vomiting either before or after the attack.  Yay, me?  Well, no one has ever called me normal, so I don't suppose this should be any different, really.

Once home, I was ensconced on the crappy, non-supportive couch, surrounded by pillows to keep me propped up comfortably.  Even so, sitting there for extended periods made my neck and tailbone hurt.  Every time I had to cough or blow my nose my Santa belly jiggled like a bowl full of jelly, forcing me to hold it down to keep from blowing out my incisions.  I was supposed to get up and walk regularly to avoid blood clots since I no longer had my squeezie legs.  Bathroom trips became very interesting; personal hygiene is infinitely more challenging when you can't bend over without sending shooting pains through your abdomen.  While in the bathroom I checked out my bandages in the mirror and was convinced that my stomach had deflated some.  It looked like someone had popped a balloon with a pin, which I suppose technically someone had.  My feet were less swollen than they'd been in months.  It was pretty fabulous, actually, so I decided I to weigh myself as well, figuring the number would look much happier after so little food in previous days and the loss of body parts.  I was wrong.  I find it grossly unfair that I should leave the hospital weighing more than when I went in, considering.  Talk about adding insult to injury.

Once back on the couch, I generously allowed my very clingy dog to join me, something she's not usually allowed to do.  I figured it would make us both feel better, and keep her from jumping up on my fresh incisions the way she did when I first came in the house.  She enjoyed it, but then she's firmly convinced that she belongs there and that I am unjust to keep her from her rightful place on the furniture.

Needy dog missed her all-important leg pillow.  (No leg lamps were available.)

I slept the first couple of nights on the couch, being unable to climb into bed.  My girlie arrived home for break two days after I got home from the hospital.  While I was obviously unable to finish all my projects or house-cleaning before she arrived, I did manage to take a shower that morning so I wouldn't reek of betadine or be completely skanky when she got home.  Wouldn't that make a great greeting card?  "Welcome Home, Honey--I Love You So Much I Washed My Hair For You.  Happy Thanksgiving!"

The rest of the week was pretty chill given the circumstances.  We got a Honey-Baked Ham instead of a turkey and everyone helped with preparing the big meal and cleaning up afterwards.  Friday I got to sit and watch my family drag out all the Christmas decorations and assemble the tree while I sat around on my backside supervising.  I liked that part.

Each day I feel a little better and each day I'm moving around a little better.  I can now laugh or cough without buttressing my belly against the vibrations.  My soon-to-be scars are unremarkable, especially compared to that of my C-Section scar, though the landscape of my navel will remain forever changed once healing is complete.  (I was relieved to find I still only have one belly button when the last steri-strip came off--I was secretly afraid I'd have two or something.  Paranoid much, Ginger?)

While it's certainly not how I planned to spend my Thanksgiving this year, this whole experience has made for a much more profound and personal giving of thanks this year.  I'm grateful that the whole ordeal was as efficient and unremarkable as it was.  There was no perforation in the actual appendix, so I was not exposed to any toxicity and was therefore not sent home with any additional antibiotics.
I am thankful for innumerable friends and family checking up on me and praying for me and bringing me food.  I am thankful that my recovery has been steady and smooth, so much so that I was able to ride to the airport and walk around up to Security to see my daughter off (though I did make the hubs drive around to pick me up curbside).  All things considered, it was a surprisingly peaceful and pleasant holiday.  I can live with that.  And, thanks to Dr. Shirley ("don't call me 'Shirley!'"), I will live with that.

November 27, 2011

Traveling Via Oatmeal

Earlier today my lovely daughter shared with me a link from The Oatmeal.  It seems she was complaining to some friends about the 2-3 babies who wouldn't stop screaming or crying on her flight last night, and one of them passed this picture along.  I love it.  I hope all you travelers out there do as well.



You know you wish you'd thought of this first.

Sorry I had to cut the wings off to make this fit.  If you want to see the original image, click the link above.  Happy traveling!

November 26, 2011

NaBloPoMo Blogger Fail

It occurred to me in the shower this morning (I do all my best thinking there--don't judge me) that my last two posts had that little line between them when they were made on the same day, and I got all upset because I actually finished my "Liebster Clause" post yesterday morning and posted it.  But for whatever reason, it was also dated the 24th, same as my Thanksgiving post.

I'm kinda pissed.  I did write most of it Thanksgiving night, but I had to check a couple of the blog links involved so waited to finish it on Friday. When I put it up yesterday morning, I figured I was off the hook for the day and so I didn't post anything else.  Now my lovely little NaBloPoMo record has been shot all to hell.  I make it 24 whole freakin' days, even through SURGERY, for @#$!! sake, and now I'm gonna blow it all on a technicality???

Crap, crap, crappity crap!!  I. am. not. happy.

On the one hand, the likelihood that I was ever gonna win one of the prizes for posting each and every day was already infinitesimally slim.  On the other hand, I accepted the challenge, and dammit, I wanted to finish it!!!  And I will, but that little break between November 24 and November 26 in the archive is going to bug the crap out of the OCD in me.

So, BlogHer Goddesses, please take note.  I double posted on the 24th only as a fluke because Blogger has issues.  I actually submitted my post on the 25th.  Now look the other way and give me my damn prize.


Here's even proof--posted yesterday, as in the 25th, at 9:45 am--I always "share" on FB immediately after posting.
Stupid Blogger.

Update:  Because my daughter is freakin' awesome, she showed me how to change the time and date stamp on an individual post so that yesterday's entry would be correctly posted.  Yay, Girlie!!!  Of course, now this means that the whining above is irrelevant, but oh well.

November 25, 2011

Liebster Clause

Yesterday, no doubt like everyone else, I woke up to numerous holiday greetings and to inspiring declarations of thankfulness.  While sifting through them all, I discovered that I had been "Liebstered."  Not every blogger gets to celebrate Thanksgiving with the Internet's version of half of a surf and turf.  (I'd steak my post on it.)

To my surprise, my very dear friend over at The Adventures of Not Supermom singled me out for the Liebster Award.  This is awesome, especially considering I am secretly jealous of her blogging bad-assery and want to blog like her when (or if) I grow up.  Seriously--people are pounding on her door.  NPR saw one of her posts and invited her to participate in their Backseat Book Club, and I'm convinced that every time she applies for another writing or blogging gig money and contracts are waved wildly in her face.  I want someone to wave money and contracts for blogging in my face...I can always wear my glasses so the draft from flapping paper won't bother my eyes.  Go read her blog.  Right now.  She is of the awesome.



Turns out the Liebster Award highlights up-and-coming blogs, those with less than 200 followers.  Liebster is German for "friend", so I'm taking a few moments to call attention to those I consider friends and their blogs.


The Rules:

Upon receiving the Liebster Award, you must do the following:
1.  Show your thanks to the blogger(s) who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Post the award on your blog.
4. Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the Internet – other writers.
5. And best of all – have fun!



My picks for this auspicious honor include: 

1.  A Portrait of the Artist - My favorite bad-ass young lady, who never fails to surprise me with her
profound observations.
2.  The Neurotypical Mom Chronicles - A new and promising discovery.
3.  Diary of a Renaissance Seamstress - Another new discovery.  Besides, who doesn't love a good Renaissance costume, whether you've got a kid in the SCA or not?
4.  Scandalous Katie - My secret sister in sin and subversiveness.
5.  Words All Day Through - Book reviews and more from my favorite Disney character come to life.

I hope you enjoy these recent discoveries as much as I do.  As to my own Liebsterizing, I suddenly have the urge to pump my hair up into a Steel Magnolias-style helmet hairdo and run around the house chanting, "You like me...you really like me!!!"  Of course, I'd need something Oscar-like to clutch, but all I've got handy are a water bottle and a TV remote, and those would just look silly.

November 24, 2011

An Attitude of Gratitude

All across the nation today people are cutting into hams, turkeys, pies, and other delicious concoctions, surrounded by family and friends.  For this one day, we are all reminded how good we really have it, in spite of our whining to the contrary the other 364 days of the year.  On this day, we will all fill our hearts with love and joy of being together, even as we fill our bellies to bursting on food produced by the love and careful hands of others.

On this day, I want you all to know how very much I value and appreciate you and your companionship both online and "in real life" throughout the year.  I want you to know that you have made a difference in my life, whether by sharing my laughter or by sharing my tears, and by reminding me each day that I am not really alone, even when I sometimes feel like I am.

I hope you all, wherever you may be, are busy enjoying good food and good companionship, whether putting up Christmas decorations or lolling about on the couch in a post-prandial stupor in front of some football game.  Lastly, I hope you are all as thankful for each other and for the blessings you've been given as I am thankful for min and for all of you in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!

"O Lord, who lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness."

P.S.  And because it is me,  there's no way I can stay serious indefinitely.  So here's a little Thanksgiving humor for you as well:

Eat Mor Bif.

Creative use of tinfoil FTW.  I'm soooo doing this one year.










November 23, 2011

The One With the Diagnosis and the Bad Words

It has not been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone.  In fact, it has been almost anything but a quiet week, and the only thing around here that's been woebegone has been me.  Regardless of any positive or negative feelings I might have about moving here Georgia seems to have several opinions of its own on the topic, given that Georgian karma has been biting me in the bum ever since I arrived.  First there was the pizza debacle (still haven't heard from Papa John's local PR lady), then the broken wrist (though technically that happened in NY, but I was in the process of moving the girlie back to Georgia for summer break so as far as I'm concerned it still counts), then the broken toe, and now this.

All the excitement started exactly one week ago today.  A couple of hours after I got home from choir practice, my lower right abdomen suddenly started hurting.  While there were some sharp pains, the overall effect was more one of major pressure. When I stood, I could barely walk to the bathroom or to bed.  I assumed it was just something I'd eaten not sitting well; on rare occasions I have had similar pain, though it has never lasted more than a few hours.  The pain did not go away, though, and my back and shoulders started suddenly hurting as well, making me feel both like I had just carried an elephant across the room and like my bladder and side were going to explode at any given moment.  Naturally, my mind started skittering across the possibilities--appendicitis, impacted bowl, hernia, gastritis, indigestion, etc.  Nothing really seemed to fit 100% though and, while uncomfortable, it had into a vague aching sensation rather than a stabbing one so I figured I'd just wait it out and see what happened.  Sleeping was difficult, because any pressure on my lower stomach, especially the right side, was extremely uncomfortable.

Now I know what you're all thinking.  That screams appendicitis--and so it does.  Believe me, that was the thought I kept going back to again and again, even though I seemed to have few of the other symptoms.  All throughout Thursday the discomfort continued as mostly a dull ache, but didn't worsen so I didn't take it very seriously.  I'm the sort of person who can ignore all sorts of dull physical pain.  Once I had an abcessed tooth and didn't even know it, for example.  The dentist was freaked.  Anyway,  I also had a consistent, low-grade fever of maybe 100℉, but considering I'd had that for most of the two weeks before from my cold, it didn't seem a big deal either.  The main thing was that I never had any of the nausea or vomiting normally associated with appendicitis.  In fact, I had a Five Guys cheeseburger for dinner Thursday night.  Hardly a typical meal for someone "sick."

"I'll have an Intestinal Blockage with a side of fries to go..."

Friday morning the pressure was still there, so I thought I should probably get it double-checked "just in case."  These three words were to become my mantra for the next two days.  Last week I had finally gotten around to making an appointment for today with a new primary care doctor since I was almost out of my blood pressure meds.  I started out by calling that office to see if I could be squeezed in early to have my stomach checked out.  While I waited for a callback I took a quick shower, which actually made my stomach feel better.  I was only half dressed when the phone rang, so I climbed into the bed to stay warm while I answered.  I was told that I couldn't see the new doctor because they "are only open till noon on Fridays" and because I wasn't an established patient yet.  I had only been "approved" to become one.  Whatever.  I rolled over in a snit and promptly fell asleep for another 3 hours.  When I awoke, I was still feeling a bit better though the pressure hadn't completely left, so I decided to wait another day.  I didn't eat much on Friday because I kept feeling  bloated and full.  I also continued to have a temperature between 100℉ and 101℉, which I also continued largely to ignore.

I woke up around 4 am on Saturday morning with the chills and my teeth chattering a little.  Since the chills weren't the worst I've ever had,  I just put on an extra shirt and snuggled into the covers.  Eventually I got back to sleep.  I awoke again at 7, sweaty, and went to take my temperature.  This time it was 102℉.  Hmmm.  Okay, that's a little less common.  It rarely goes past 101 unless something is legitimately going on.  I checked to see what time the minor med here opened (9 am) and texted my choir director to say I wouldn't be at the extra practice Saturday morning.  Then I went back to sleep again.  I should also point out at that, because Mother Nature hates my guts, she also gave me a little present first thing Saturday morning--because I just really needed one more special surprise on top of a Mysteriously Painful Gut (MPG).

It was a little after 11 am by the time I was up and dressed and moving enough to go the the minor med.  The hubs was still in bed so I drove myself, which was probably a bad idea.  I was still very anxious about what was going on, and I could not get the idea of appendicitis out of my head.  In fact, when I woke up with the sweats it had been because I was dreaming about finding two swollen lumps on my right side.  Why two I'll never know--apparently my fevers can't count.  When I showered that morning, I deliberately shaved--"just in case."  I have no idea why I was so concerned about whether or not doctors would be looking at my hairy legs and pits instead of my gut, but I shaved just the same.  I also made sure I put up my daily post for NaBloPoMo early, put on one of those front-hook sports bras (easier to fasten post-op) and then I selected some sweatpants with a relatively soft waistband.  Just in case.  There I was, dreading surgery more than anything else since it was right before my daughter came home for Thanksgiving and I still had tons of junk to finish, and yet I was subconsciously preparing for it.  Go figure.

When I got to the minor med (my first time there since we moved), I noticed signs in the windows that said "No food or drinks in the waiting room except water."  I was curious, then, why there was a big honking Coke machine in the vestibule just outside the waiting room.  Sure enough, every single selection was for water.  Seriously?  Why not just put in a big Dasani machine, then?  Torturing people with a big red neon "Coke" sign is cruel and unusual punishment, in my opinion.  That's just cold.  Anyway, I went in, walked up to the receptionist, and told her I hadn't been there before.  I foolishly assumed she would take this to mean I needed the requisite paperwork to get started.  Instead, she looked at me blankly and asked, "So, did you want to see a doctor?"  Well, DUH.  "No, I'm sorry, I had nothing better to do on a Saturday than come to a random doctor's office and hang out quaffing water while I watch the UGA game on the big TV overhead..."  Of course I want to see a doctor, you moron.

When all was said and done, I was not in the minor med very long.  I liked the doctor there, though.  He asked all the relevant questions, raised eyebrows at a couple of answers (I like messing with doctors--shows whether or not they have a sense of humor), then had me lie back so he could check my abdomen.  He decided he was concerned that I had a fever and "rebound pain," even though "the mere mention of food should have you barfing in my face" and it wasn't.  I told him that I had been hoping it was just gas and that a laxative would take care of business.  He told me, "Sure, you could try that, but if it's your appendix you'd just blow it out on the pot."  Thanks so much for that image, dude.  Obviously he was pretty sure I had appendicitis, because he told me I would have to go to the ER to get a CT scan to confirm it since "an ultrasound won't work on you."  At least that's the closest he (or anyone else during the whole thing) came to ragging me about being overweight.  I can live with that.

Upon hearing this joyous news, I uttered a very bad word. It sounded a lot like "cluck."  The doctor immediately responded "I know, right?"  I like this guy.  He suggested I go to St. Mary's Hospital because he figured it would be dead during the UGA home game, provided I got there within the hour.  Afterwards, I went out to my car, sat in the parking lot, and cried for a good 10 minutes before pulling myself together enough to drive.  Before I left, I texted the hubs that I was going to the ER.  The response?  "Ok.  I'm going to get my hair cut."  WTF, dude?  So off I drove to the ER--still alone.

When I arrived the ER was indeed dead, at least for a while.  I got checked in and was given a bracelet with a UPC on it.  Every time a nurse came near me, she read my arm with the portable bar code reader and make me confirm my name and date of birth.  I asked one of the nurses once how much I cost when the barcode beeped.  She just looked confused.  Clearly, hospitals are not in the business of FUN.  Next, I was taken to a holding tank where I was given a gown to put on and allocated a bed.  You gotta love those gowns.  Nice and breezy, am I right?  At least the nurse let me keep my underpants on.  She then sucked out 4 vials of blood and left me sitting there till the doctor came by.  While waiting I got to listen to several people come in, including someone hacking germs next to me and talking about vomiting. Across the way was a hysterical woman having breathing problems and screaming at the top of her lungs (with what breath, I wondered) during an apparent panic attack; she also talked about vomiting.  In both cases, the other patients sounded like they were close enough to be in my lap.  While I felt bad for them, their proximity wasn't exactly doing much to assuage my own fears, particularly since I'm pretty sure the fabric curtains separating us weren't exactly impervious to germs.  The nurse later told me that the ER actually gets worse as the home games progress because by the time halftime rolls around people are already drunk off their asses and running into or falling off things.  I spent roughly an hour this way, waiting alone in my bed while crying in paranoia (with a side of hormonally-enhanced fear), kept company only by a box of the world's worst tissues, designed to dissolve upon contact with anything resembling a liquid, and my cell phone.

Herding people through the hospital at checkout speed.

Eventually my wayward husband showed up--a whole ten minutes before the ER doctor.  I was examined for approximately 2 minutes then informed yes, I would need a scan.  Well, duh, dude.  Why did you think I was here?  The nurse brought me some lovely berry-flavored contrast--4 cups worth--to suck down over the next two hours.  Yum.  That's some good eating right there.  Haven't had a crumb of food since yesterday afternoon, but now I get to spend the next 12 hours belching up berry-flavored chalk?  Yuuuuum.  That stuff was NASTY.  During that time, I also got to toddle off to the bathroom, holding a sheet over my gaping gown, to provide a urine sample.  I'll bet it smelled berry-flavored.  In the meantime, I spent most of my time ruminating on the patterns in the holding tank door to keep from getting bored or more upset.

Chalky Magnesium.  It's what's for supper.

It's a Doorscharch test--what do YOU see??

Two of the slowest.hours.ever later I was wheeled off to be scanned, but not before being forced to chug one last cup of berry cocktail and having some other form of contrast injected into my IV port.  I was returned to the holding tank and told the results could take up to an hour.  Yippee.  By this time it was already around 7-8 pm, and I'd arrived at the ER around 1 pm.  Spectacular.  Mercifully, the results came in after only 20 minutes. The doctor told me that yes, indeedy, it was the dreaded appendicitis.  I repeated my very bad word, only more loudly.  The doctor responded, "That's what I said!"  Okay, I like him too.  (And yes, there may have been other words involved.  In fact, I employed quite the string of "F" words when expressing my opinion on the upscoming surgery to my online posse.)  I was still upset but I told him that if surgery had to be done, I'd rather it be done sooner than later.  So off he trotted to contact the surgeon and to make arrangements for surgery later that night.  Awesome.  It seemed unfair that I was the first one in the holding tank and now would be the last one to leave.  In fact, as the person before me was leaving, the nurse said "Happy Thanksgiving--come back and see us!"  Um, scuzemewhat?  You are asking people to have enough problems to require them to return to an Emergency Room?  Dude, that's just messed up.

Sounds about right.

A short while later I was being wheeled down the hall on a stretcher while doing one last FB update from my phone.  The nurse laughed at me and asked if I was addicted because apparently she is too.  We stopped in the middle of the hallway next to the waiting room, where she let me finish my update then give my phone to the hubs.  In Pre-Op a nurse slapped on my obligatory paper hat, took my blood pressure and then whipped out a funky-vibrator-looking thing which she then quickly ran around the side of my head from forehead to ear. Before I could stutter out the question "What the heck was that??" the nurse told me she had just taken my temperature with a "temporal thermometer" and that it was currently considered the most accurate way to measure a temperature.  I gather that only the surgical suite is cool enough to have them; the mere mortals in the rest of the hospital are forced to use boring old ear thermometers.  I was then told we'd have to hang out a while because the surgeon was doing the same procedure, a "lappy appy," at the other hospital in town and he had to finish up before coming over to do mine.

"Temporal rift ahead, Cap'n--ahead Warp Fever 10!"

After that a big guy walked in (turns out he was the anesthesiologist), looked appraisingly at me and said "Tell me something about yourself."  Um, what?  Context, please?  "Medically, I mean." Okay, whatever, dude.  "I apparently have appendicitis.  I have high blood pressure.  I am not happy to be here.  I like long walks on the beach..."  Nothing.  Dry as a post.  Wow.  "Open your mouth."  I gawped open my mouth.  You could clearly see his invisible measuring tapes extend and snap back while he decided what size tube he would need to use on me.  I asked if I had to be tubed because I was a singer and it would screw up my throat.  The nurse then said "I thought you said you were a writer!"  I told her that because I was awesome, I was just that multi-talented.  More blinking.  Wow, these people take themselves waaaay the heck too seriously in here.  The pre-op nurse tried to comfort me by telling me what a great surgeon Dr. Shirley was, and that she'd let him do anything to her.  Great.  Now not only will I never be able to get "And don't call me Shirley!!" out of my head,  I'll also be thinking of Leslie Nielsen having his way with this overly serious nurse.  How exactly am I supposed to take seriously a guy with a name like Dr. Shirley who bandies about ridiculous nicknames for surgery like "lappy appy?"  Yeah.  That's gonna happen.

Because I was still pretty uptight (no doubt the hormones were helping loads) about the surgery, my BP was shooting up to like 157/99.  The anesthesiologist opted to give me some weinie valium to help me chill out.  At this point he finally said something comforting like "it will all be okay" and patted me on the arm.  Any other time, I would likely have found this tremendously condescending; in this instance it was actually a relief because the guy had been so stiff and reactionless previously that it was just nice to see the façade give a little.  After waiting a while in pre-op for the surgeon ("Paging Dr. Shirley, paging Dr. Shirley--Surely he's gotten here by now...") to finish at the other hospital, I was next taken to the ER.  Dr. Jolly covered my face with a mask start gassing me, and all I can remember is being disappointed that he didn't ask me to count backwards.  I also noted that the mask was uncomfortable because he had it too far up and it was poking me in the eyes.  Dr. Jolly finally adjusted it down a bit farther and the next thing I remember, I was coming around in Recovery.

Stay tuned for Part II--The One With the Recovery and the Cannibalism

November 22, 2011

Friendship, Food, and Fabulosity

I have some of the best friends.  When I was scared and alone in the emergency room for hours, my "posse" of fabulous and amazing women kept me company all through the day--they made me laugh, they made me cry, they held my cyber hand and they made me feel safe and protected, just as they always do.  I am eternally grateful to this spectacular group of women for more reasons than I can count.

In fact, one member of this posse took it upon herself to provide me with dinner last night, knowing full well I had already made myself three meals (albeit simple ones) since coming home from the hospital because the hubs hadn't always remembered to do so and I wouldn't ask.  She knows me entirely too well.  She went online and placed a dinner order for us that was supposed to be delivered to my home.  Unfortunately, we were outside the delivery area, but my friend wouldn't give up.  She found another restaurant and, after some consultation with me as to food preferences, placed a new order, paid for it, and we got the hubs to go pick it up.  There was even a little leftover for my lunch today.

This afternoon, my girlie made it home from college for break.  We spent a nice afternoon together, after which she took over meal duties and made us all tacos, which she then assembled for me and served me on the couch so I didn't have to get up.  She's pretty fabulous herself, that girl.

Just after we finished dinner, my choir director from church came by to drop off a breakfast casserole for us to pop into the oven tomorrow.  It's full of lovely hash browns and cheese.  Mmmmm...cheese...

While I haven't particularly enjoyed being laid up, during the process I have been reminded of how very blessed I am to have so  many dear, dear friends surrounding me, all of whom have always been ready at a moment's notice to support me unstintingly and unselfishly in any way I need, and with more love than I can ever possibly thank them for showing me.

So thank you all, dear friends and family--thank you for calling me, for checking daily on my progress, for your best wishes, for your prayers, for feeding me, for making me smile, and for helping to heal me with your laughter and your support.  Both are far more potent than any medicine the hospital could ever have given me, and I am deeply grateful for (and to) you all.

November 21, 2011

Silence is Golden, Duct Tape is Silver

The other day when I was shopping for picture frames, I ran across this little gem:

Duck!  I have gold tape!!
I've never understood why people originally started calling this "duck" tape...do they think that there are several Mallards in need of repair flying around?  Even so, I can deal with the many new colors and prints that Duck/Duct Tape has created.  Heck, I've even purchased a few of them.  They are more festive and happy and generally better suited for my purposes than the traditional "Industrial Pipe Repair Silver."  But this?  This is just plain wrong.  I don't want my duct tape pimped out like some rapper's bling.  Heck, if I popped off the label and strung this on a big fat gold chain, I could hang it around the neck of L'il Wayne and no one would probably ever know notice anything out of place. Duct tape should never be gold.  Silence is golden--Duct tape is silver.  I'm just sayin'.

November 20, 2011

I Heart Guts

Well, the verdict is in--"Survey says...APPENDIX!!"  Yesterday I went to the minor med around 1 pm, was promptly sent to the ER for a scan, and before the night was over, I was one appendix lighter.  I'll blog about it in more detail tomorrow, when I am slightly less high on legal narcotics.  In the meantime, here are some random pictures for you to enjoy.

This is in honor of one of my friends, who earlier made me laugh so hard it hurt when
she said that without my appendix, I'd have to "make do with only footnotes from now on."

I know Cafe Press is awesome, but can you believe there's even a shirt for this??



 I heart Guts.  Don't you?
Everyone needs a plushie appendix.

November 19, 2011

Fear and Loathing in Georgia

Currently I am preparing to head off to the minor med to determine whether the abdominal pain I've had for the last 3 days is something serious like a hernia or appendicitis or an impacted bowel or a gall bladder attack or a team of tiny explosives experts trying to kick my butt from the inside out.  None of these options sounds particularly appealing, as all would likely involve surgery, never mind surgery 2-3 days before my girlie flies home and a mere 5 days before Turkey Day.  I am less than thrilled by this turn of events, to say the least.  The irony is that I finally found a new primary care physician, whom I am scheduled to see--next week.  Her office of Internal Medicine couldn't fit me in yesterday because I am 1) not yet an established patient and 2) they are only open till noon on Fridays (I called around 10).  So now I am off to put my fate in the hands of some random doctor from God knows where, who will no doubt lecture me on the evils of obesity, because that's just how my week is going.  I hate going to the doctor.  Any doctor.

And yet, in my fear and consternation, how do I prepare for this doctor visit?  I shave my legs and underarms, just in case some doctor has a surgical need to invade my body via either of those locations.  Because I'm sure they will be wasting time staring at my legs and pits, instead of standing around trying to figure out how to find the relevant organs around my deposits of extra flesh.  Yeah, that's it.  Meanwhile, I wonder if I could convince them to do a little liposuction while they're in there...

November 18, 2011

Weird Humor Night

Because I have spent the last two days dealing with a stomach issue, I am tired and not particularly focused.  Also, I only have an hour left to create something for today's post.  So, tonight I'm just gonna share a few entertaining pics with you. Enjoy!

Ding Dong (the witch is dead).

This statement defines my entire family.

An apostrophe wouldn't go amiss, either.

I loved Hugh Laurie long before he was a fake American doctor.


If I thought for one minute that this would work...

If I worked in an office, I would SO do this.

Rock-Paper-Scissors-Nazi-Glock?

I wonder how they got in Daddy's computer in the first place...
 
I really hope he didn't compete in a U.S. Olympics with that very unfortunate name.

True story.

Sources:
www.shirt.woot.com
www.icanhascheezburger.com
www.polyvore.com
www.users.frii.com
www.failblog.org
www.verydemotivational.com
www.theolivepress.eu
www.xkcd.com

November 17, 2011

Constitutional Underwear

Most of you know by now my feelings on TSA's current scanning and enchanced pat-down methods, particularly after my rant in the post Gate Crashing (and Burning).  For the most part, I am not one to make loud or violent protests about things, especially political issues, though I've had my moments.  Generally speaking, however, I tend to figure that both major political parties are pretty seriously screwed up and that neither one is radically better than the other.  I agree with points in both parties and I disagree with points in both parties.  Similarly, I often have very mixed feelings about religiously-charged subjects.  As a result, while I grumble or complain about this issue or that issue, I don't tend to make a huge deal about most of them because I feel that no amount of doing so will ultimately change the majority of those issues.  Call me naïve or uninvested, but I generally find life much more peaceful this way.  It doesn't mean I'm not invested or that I don't care, it simply means that I don't think getting my panties in a bunch will solve anything most of the time.

That said, one of the things I do regularly rant about or speak out about are the airport security measures provided by TSA, or as I like to call them, "Flight Fondling for Fun and Profit."  Many other people are less concerned about it than me or, while annoyed by it, have no real problem allowing the procedures, figuring that complaining will accomplish nothing.  And they have that right, just as I have the right to avoid apoplexy every time a politician does or says something assinine.  If I didn't, I'd be stroking out every 3 minutes.

My frustration with the whole thing is two-fold:  first, I find it appalling that US citizens who frequently tout the Constitution as much of what makes us preferable (or even "superior) to other countries are perfectly content to surrender their Constitutional rights regarding search and seizure, all in the name of possibly stopping one more terrorist.  And that brings me to my second point, which is the assumption that abusing said rights will ultimately make that huge a difference.  How many thousands or even millions of people have to pass through these questionable procedures before even one illegal item is found?  To me that is akin to McDonald's marking billions of coffee cups as "Very Hot" all because one woman was incompetent enough to pour coffee in her lap.  Am I sorry she was severely burned?  Sure.  I can't imagine that I would enjoy having a flaming crotch either.  Does that make suing McDonald's for burning her reasonable?  Of course not.  Heck, if they'd given her cold coffee, she could just as easily have sued for false advertising, because who expects coffee to be cold?

I have no doubt that the occasional person is indeed caught with illegal items on his or her person.  But I still have to wonder how many of those "illegal" items were nothing more menacing than the odd nail clippers or pocketknife or nail file that someone forgot to leave at home.  I am allowed to carry knitting needles on a plane; if I wanted to stab someone, I could do far more damage with one of those than with many of the items considered "illegal."  I also still think that any real terrorist determined to cause chaos can and will find a way around security measures, just as they always have, and that it's unrealistic to think that molesting passengers or subjecting them to even low levels of radiation is going to change that.

Don't get me wrong; I am not suggesting that all security measures should be abandoned.  I understand their necessity, even if I don't always agree with their implementation and practice.  I understand that it is intended to lessen the likelihood of terrorism in flight, even though I doubt it will stop more than a minute percentage.  I also recognize that it gives other Americans a way to feel safer, to feel like their government is actually doing something instead of sitting around impotently like usual.  That, too, is their prerogative, even if it doesn't make a big difference to me personally.  What irks me no end about it is not even that the security is there, but the incredible lack of consistency in its administration.  I detest the subtle profiling involved, including the assumption that anyone overweight or old and saggy or whatever is somehow packing.  I detest that children are yanked out and patted down.  If a teacher were to do that to the very same child, they would be immediately sacked for child molestation, and yet it's okay for TSA to perform this service? I know I always use cute children as drug mules or to sneak my Saturday Night Special past the guards.  Please...most parents are far too beleaguered with trying to get the kids and all their accoutrements on the plane without exposing the entire airport to tantrums.  I hardly think the average parent is concerned with sneaking illegal items past TSA via their children.

Part of what prompted today's marginally more sedate rant was this article, Airport full-body X-ray scanners banned across Europe as unsafe, posted by one of my friends today on Facebook.  The upshot is that the scatter scanners have been banned all across the European Union (EU) because of the increased risk of cancer in using them, both for the passengers as well as for the security staff.  When questioned, TSA's response was to point out the "rigorous testing the technology is subjected to, plus the fact 300+ 'dangerous and illegal items' have been detected by employing the body scanners."  So there you go.  Not only does the US apparently know more than Europe, they have managed to locate a whole 300 "dangerous and illegal" items from among the thousands of passengers flying every day; the article doesn't even suggest a time frame for these 300 items, the implication being that TSA found those 300 items since the scanning started, as opposed to say in one year's time.  That might sound a whole lot more impressive if it didn't represent a maybe--maybe--1% success rate.  TSA might as well make their new slogan "Letting Everyone See You Naked and Possibly Getting Cancer is Okay Because We've Uncovered Dangerous Objects in One Percent of All Travelers."  That's a bit wordy, though.  Perhaps it should be reduced to something like "Screw Your Rights and Health--We're TSA!"

The best part of the article for me was its linked page to something called "4th Amendment Underwear" (for the protester in all of us).   In it are shirts and boxers and even bras emblazoned with the 4th Amendment printed on the items in metallic ink so that when you are scanned by the x-ray machines, in addition to an up-close and personal look at all your goodies, TSA will get a less than subtle reminder that they are violating your Constitutional rights.  Other clothing articles include the slogan "Read the 4th Amendment Perverts."  I'd be lying if I said the thought of wearing such undergarments to the airport didn't appeal to me.  In fact, it appeals so much so that I actually went to the store page to see how much they would cost or if they would even be in my size.  This is what I saw: 


There were socks, too, but I couldn't get a big enough screen shot to include them.  Still, you've gotta love it--every.single.item is sold out.  Apparently I'm not the only subversive traveler out there.


Here's hoping that TSA eventually sees the error of its ways and finds more effective ways to secure air travel, preferably ones that do not involve violating one's rights and privacy or molesting one's person.  Meanwhile, way to go EU--good on you!