Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Unicorn chaser

You know how boingboing always does the Unicorn Chaser after they blog something completely disgusting? This is my version. Gall bladder plushy! So cute! So cuddly. C'mere gall bladdy and gimme a kiss.

All guts, no glory

Shrinky-dink: The Gall Bladder, originally uploaded by St. Murse.

Dear Self,
I mean,
Dear PollyAnna Rose Colored Glasses,

Please remember, the next time you think something is just an "easy little process," look it up in flickr tags. Let reality look you in the face.

And THEN decide if you still think something is an easy little process.


Your smarter self who will probably take a nap soon so you will probably forget this advice, hence the blog entry so maybe you will remember.

In other words, I just looked up the tag gall bladder on Flickr. I didn't know what I would find -- pictures of gall bladders? There were a couple of those, but also a hand full of post-op scars. Really really reallyl big ones. Like almost foot-long scars.

I prefer foot-long hotdogs.

Which is probably how I got into this predicament to begin with (remember: gall bladder disease).

I'm still researching options and awaiting the next doctor visit (September) (19th). So, nothing new to report there.

But the way this whole entry started is because I (reluctantly) picked up the book Ourselves, Growing Older (oh, humility. how i have embraced you.). Which has an awesome, very informative entire chapter all gall bladder disease. AND it answered so many questions that I haven't found in other places. Or I should say, it answered many questions and it answered them all in one place, instead of me having to piece meal together information from this source and that.

It's so good that I am actually checking it out at the library so my family and friends can read it. Those that are interested. And maybe they can help me make my decision (to gall bladder to not to gall bladder; that is my question).

If you are looking for information on gall bladders, gall stones, gall bladder disease or any other of the fun related topics (cholesterol? bilirubin?), here is where you should go:

The New Ourselves, Growing Older
by Paula B. Doress-Worters and Diana Laskin Siegal
Chapter 26
Pages 382 - 388
One more tidbit in this completely rambling, not nicely put together post: you've heard me yammer away that it is more prevalent in mexican-americans and native americans. but guess what other lucky demographic is also a high-contender? SCANDINAVIANS.

Hello: half Mexican, half Swedish. I'm like a gall bladder problem cookbook. Jeeze Louise.

Tajikistan Jan

Wedding dances, originally uploaded by janski.

Jan's been back in Tajikistan for almost a year now (or so it seems). I love her sense of adventure or can-do spirit. Seriously? Jan can do ANYTHING. Anything. Everything.

What I love is this strange dichotomy. Jan is tall with long long blonde hair. And forthright. But more like FORTHRIGHT. And opinionated. And kinda bossy (in a way that only she can be and you love her for it). And just very... above board. There is no meek Jan bone. No coy or eyes-averted or submissive or quiet or holding back. There is just Jan in all her glory. And I love that brazen Jan so loves this muslim nation and it so loves her back.

The world is great, people. Sometimes we lose track of that fact. And sometimes we think that we are very different people. But Jan proves that we can be very different and very all-together at the same time.

See more recent photos from Jan:

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

love letters and dear johns

i love cream, originally uploaded by emdot.

Dear Caballero Sausage Sandwich, Tri-tip Sandwich, Taco Salad featuring sour cream and many many chips and oh the cheese, Any Kind of Burrito, and Cheeseburger,

I miss you very much. I think about you often, though, I must admit, less as more days go by. Tuna Sanwich and Turkey Sandwich have been helping me get through the lunch hour and Soy Yogurt has taken top spot for late afternoon snack. But I still can't help missing those carefree hours we spent together.



Dear Red Wine, White Wine, G&Ts, and Firestone Double Barrel Ale,

I thought I missed you. Which is why I flirted with the idea of getting back together with you. And even met you a couple of times for dinner. But then I was reminded of your sneaky, nauseating ways. I do not miss you, you scoundrels. You pied-pipers. You evil leaders of the evil ways.

No longer yours,


Monday, July 23, 2007

Hey, Look...

(Inspired by Heather and Derek who were inspired by the New Yorker's Simon Rich.)

Here’s what I imagined the people around me were saying when I was...

"Who is that girl with the boy haircut?"
"I don't know, but it looks like Marya."
"That can't be Marya. Obviously it is her twin sister we never knew about."

"Whoa! Where is that awesome voice coming from?"
"I think someone is singing in the shower somewhere in the neighborhood."
"With that talent she should be the lead singer of Styx, even tho they don't have a female lead singer."

"Who's the new girl always hanging out in the library?"
"I don't know, but she obviously has an important inner depth."
"Let's be her best friends."

"Who is that? A new teacher?"
"No, a student."
"She obviously reads Seventeen magazine."
"Yes she has excellent preppy fashion sense."

"That girl really talks a lot in class."
"She is really full of great insight."
"I could listen to her forever."

at the sea

at the sea, originally uploaded by emdot.

The masters tell us that there is an aspect of our minds that is its fundamental basis, a state called “the ground of the ordinary mind.” It functions like a storehouse, in which the imprints of past actions caused by our negative emotions are all stored like seeds. When the right conditions arise, they germinate and manifest as circumstances and situations in our lives.

If we have a habit of thinking in a particular pattern, positive or negative, then these tendencies will be triggered and provoked very easily, and recur and go on recurring. With constant repetition our inclinations and habits become steadily more entrenched, and continue increasing and gathering power, even when we sleep. This is how they come to determine our life, our death, and our rebirth.

— Sogyal Rinpoche
That seems about right to me. I see that happen in me all the time. This period of my life seems to be about recognizing more and more things that are just habitual patterns -- from reactions to cravings to crazings to sheer avoidance.

Oh to shed those seeds instead of sowing them.

Learning Strategies for the Visual/ Verbal Learner

  • To aid recall, make use of "color coding" when studying new information in your textbook or notes. Using highlighter pens, highlight different kinds of information in contrasting colors.
  • Write out sentences and phrases that summarize key information obtained from your textbook and lecture.
  • Make flashcards of vocabulary words and concepts that need to be memorized. Use highlighter pens to emphasize key points on the cards. Limit the amount of information per card so your mind can take a mental "picture" of the information.
  • When learning information presented in diagrams or illustrations, write out explanations for the information.
  • When learning mathematical or technical information, write out in sentences and key phrases your understanding of the material. When a problem involves a sequence of steps, write out in detail how to do each step.
  • Make use of computer word processing. Copy key information from your notes and textbook into a computer. Use the print-outs for visual review.
  • Before an exam, make yourself visual reminders of information that must be memorized. Make "stick it" notes containing key words and concepts and place them in highly visible places --on your mirror, notebook, car dashboard, etc.

From Diablo Valley College's Learning Style Survey. Want to know what your learning style is? Take the quiz.

I'm a Visual/Verbal Learner. Here's what they have to say about that:
You learn best when information is presented visually and in a written language format. In a classroom setting, you benefit from instructors who use the blackboard (or overhead projector) to list the essential points of a lecture, or who provide you with an outline to follow along with during lecture. You benefit from information obtained from textbooks and class notes. You tend to like to study by yourself in a quiet room. You often see information "in your mind's eye" when you are trying to remember something.

Spot on!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

overheard on the phone (aka directions)

him: and take the marsh street exit
phone: mwah mwah waw waw wah mwah
him: marsh. you know. like... your feet are getting wet and there are lots of leaches.
phone: fwah fwah waw waw wah fwaw
him: right. right. marsh. boggy. and then you take broad...
phone: cwaw cwaw cwaw?
him: no. you know, like [sings] give my regards to broadway

Monday, July 16, 2007

Cookie mouse winks...

Cookie mouse winks..., originally uploaded by Leighton Cooke.

Cutest thing! Cookie mouse. Which is more adorable, the photo or the term Cookie mouse? Okay, so the photo is so awesome that it wins hands down. STill, cookie mouse is pretty adorable, too. This photog is the only one on Flickr to ever tag anything as Cookie mouse. I love that.

Good morning!

obstructed view, originally uploaded by slight clutter.

Little happy photo to start your week off right. This is from Slight Clutter/Katya in Texas who does magic with a camera.

Katya is also the person who introduced the word "adorkable" to me. So, you can see she is pretty awesome.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Are you hungry or are you thirsty?

Oftentimes, those of us with a few pounds we'd like to shed, feed ourselves because we think we are hungry, when in reality we are thirsty.

How can you tell if you are hungry or thirsty?

Touch the area where you are experiencing the sensation.

Stomach? (hunger pains, growly tummy, etc) Hunger.
Mouth? Thirst.

It works every time. I swear. Try it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A bit of truth that fits into your pocket (book)

Buy what you do not need, and soon you will sell your necessities. — Ben Franklin

When are feelings greater than actions?

It is easier to act yourself into a better way of feeling than to feel yourself into a better way of action. — O. H. Mowrer

Pretty much true. EXCEPT. Except when the feeling you are experiencing is overwhelming, debilitating pain.

Pain is the great motivator.

Spirtual Warrior sounds corny, doesn't it? I wish there was a better term

Difficulties and obstacles, if properly understood and used, can turn out to be an unexpected source of strength. Gesar was the great warrior king of Tibet, whose escapades form the greatest epic of Tibetan literature. Gesar means “indomitable,” someone who can never be put down. From the moment Gesar was born, his evil uncle Trotung tried all kinds of means to kill him. But with each attempt Gesar only grew stronger and stronger.

For the Tibetans, Gesar is not only a martial warrior but also a spiritual one. To be a spiritual warrior means to develop a special kind of courage, one that is innately intelligent, gentle, and fearless. Spiritual warriors can still be frightened, but even so they are courageous enough to taste suffering, to relate clearly to their fundamental fear, and to draw out without evasion the lessons from difficulties. — Sogyal Rinpoche

Monday, July 09, 2007

Smoke Signals

Just talked to my dad. We're not part Pima.

I was really looking forward to being part Native American, too. Darn it.

Coincidentally, we went to see Sicko on Saturday

And, more coincidentally, we sat next to a woman with emphysema who was hooked up to an oxygen tank.

She laughed heartily throughout the movie. But she also cried, quietly, several times. I could see her wiping her eyes.

That broke my heart.

But the movie in general broke my heart. Whether or not you like/dislike, agree/disagree with Moore, how can you not agree that our current medical set up in broken beyond repair? It is broken. Broken. Broken.

We deserve more than this. We deserve better.

Where I live there is a huge shortage of doctors. You have to wait months to get in for a pelvic examination, a dental appointment. And the dermatologist? Forget about it. Expect a six month wait to see your doc. It's wrong.

Test Results Back

walking home, originally uploaded by emdot.

Test Results Back: gallstone disease.

Disease? Disease? It's just so weird to hear that word associated with oneself.

I did some research over the weekend, and here is a really interesting tidbit that I learned about the commonness of gallstone disease:

  • the mean prevalence of most demographics is about 3 - 15%
  • the mean prevalence in Mexican-American women is 27%
  • the mean prevalence in Native American women from the Pima tribe is 73%

I'm half Mexican. My father's family is from the Gila River Valley, where the Pima Indians are from. My mom is pretty sure that my dad's dad has some Pima blood in him.

Who knew?!

On top of that, I eat a pretty fatty diet. Cheese is my staple. And my paper. And my ink.

I've only had cheese once since this happened, and that once was a total slip of my better judgment and caused another (albeit much much "easier") attack.

The lack of cheese has left me ink-, paper-, and staple-less. What to eat has totally stumped me, despite the fact that of course I know about lowfat foods and yadda yadda yadda. I just am a little slow as to how to bring them permanently (and immediately) into my life.

So, I've been researching (yea for library article databases!). Reaching out to people who might have good advice. And scouring the shelves of booksellers. And slowly I've been figuring it out.

Next step: meet with my doctor tonight for more indepth going-over of my test results and probably talking about options....

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Practicing the grown up look

Alternative to antidepressants: the cygnet tag slide show on Flickr.

Oh the cuteness. The cuteness.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Thoughts on 1966

I was born the year before the summer of love. I think that makes it the summer of dry humping.

Wake Up Call

Wednesday afternoon I found myself in some serious pain. I’d say “doubled-over pain,” except the pain wouldn’t allow me to double over or bend or sit or stand or god forbid laydown. Walking was unbearable and I think it’s fair to say that an 80-year-old in need of a double hip replacement could have shuffled circles around me. So I hobbled and I moaned. Really: I was moaning.

I was having a gall bladder attack. Three words that constitute the most unsexy phrase ever uttered.

It hit me at work around 2:30 - 2:45 (three hours since I had eaten my lunch of tri-tip sandwich and peanut butter/chocolate chip cowboy cookie). For three minutes I thought it was indigestion. By minute four I knew it was way beyond that. I will admit that I panicked a little, confused about what to do. Wait it out? Stay at work? Go home? Go to the doctor? Pretend that nothing was happening? Find a place to lie down?

This had happened to me once before about six months ago. It was terrible and painful, lasted about 30 - 45 minutes, and scared the shit out of my boyfriend. That was after I ate a couple of slices of Woodstocks Creamy Garlic Chicken pizza (which I will never eat again). As soon as it was over I entered my symptoms into google (something like “severe stomach, shoulder pain”) and each result came back with the same subject: gall bladder attack.

So Wednesday, when this hit, I knew I was in for some pretty excruciating pain, but thought it would be over in 30 or 45 minutes.

Thank god I had the smarts to say I had to go home because it wasn’t a 30 or 45-minute deal. I was wracked with intense pain for hours and then pronounced great discomfort for hours and hours after that. In total it lasted 24 hours.

I called Steve to see if he could pick me up from work (I had walked that day and there was no physical way I could walk home), and I leaned against a lamp post shaded by an elm tree and I moaned. I sweated. I considered death. I considered throwing up (wouldn’t happen), passing out, or getting on all fours and dry heaving, right there on campus. I smashed my face against the cool lamp post and just tried to get through the next few minutes.

The gall bladder is a pear-shaped (kinda cute) organ that lives under the liver. It makes bile (not so cute) that helps with digestion. Fatty foods need more bile and sometimes can cause the gall bladder to spasm and swell. Still doesn’t sound like it should be so godforsaking painful as it is, but there you go. The pain typically starts under the right side of the rib cage and is so intense that it radiates to other parts of the body. For me the pain spread across the under part of my ribs (more intense on the right side) , enveloped my right shoulder and shoulder blade, and poured down my right arm to my elbow. There is no relief. No position you can take, nothing you can ingest, and it’s not gas or constipation or diarrhea, so there is nothing to be done there. Really, your only choices are moaning or, if you are lucky, percocet or morphine. Many people go to the hospital scared out of their minds.

I know that Steve wishes I’d gone to the hospital. And the next morning he demanded that I go to the doctor. Which I did (by then the pain was bearable) and there it was agreed that I was having a gall stone bladder attack. I was put on the BRAT diet (and I seriously thought the doctor was nuts. There was no WAY I was ever eating again, much less drinking water) and scheduled an appointment for an ultrasound. The next step, I guess is to determine if I have a gall stone (or five), or if there is a problem with my liver or heart or something (because women often don’t experience heart pain the same way as men).

Since then I have felt better. Normal even. Hungry and pissed that all I am supposed to eat is bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Yesterday I started eating other foods — all pretty bland, extremely low in fat, and easy to digest. I have had one cup of coffee each morning since Friday simply because there is no way I can handle this AND caffeine withdrawal headaches at the same time.

And I’ve realized that I have to change my lifestyle. I say lifestyle instead of “diet” because, hello, food IS my lifestyle. And it has to change. And this is serious. And I never never never ever ever never ever want to experience a gall stone attack again. Ever. Never.

And so a new chapter starts.