Mole Hole

Yesterday I had my appointment to get the mole on my back removed, along with, of course, the usual blood pressure check. I was not counting on the visit being so focused on the procedure that I’d have no chance to talk to the doctor. In fact, I thought I’d have more, but laying on my side with three people working around me was not so opportune. About all I was able to do was find out he had not heard from the neaurosurgeon, and tell him about the MRI scheduled for Saturday and the EMG scheduled for May 4th.

They have a nursing student who’d just started. She’ll be there for seven weeks and is just the cutest. In an opposite world scenario, for her I relaxed completely and she got a lower blood presure, while I tensed and stopped breathing for the regular nurse and she got a higher one. Relatively speaking, since the highest they got between them all was about 130/90. Considering the circumstances and my BP being higher when I am there, I wonder if my recent faintness and vertigo had either low blood pressure or abruptly changing blood pressure (or drug side effects) connected to it, besides the sleep deprivation that was probably a factor. Instead of being thrilled, the nurse, at least, is still not happy with the bottom number. Half empty.

Besides the mole on my shoulder blade, the doctor noticed a skin tag he didn’t like a bit below it, so I got a twofer. They get biopsied as a matter of standard procedure. The whole thing took far longer than I’d expected, but was kind of interesting.

The doctor stitched the mole incision heavier than he would have, knowing what I do for work and that it had to hold. Seemed to be just fine. Oddly enough, the mole was more or less right in the spot where my back is worst. IMHO anyway, and it may be that the neurosurgeon is focusing on my lower back the way my primary focused on my neck, even though I emphasized the other spot to both. Not sure if he ordered MRI of whole back or just lumbar section, which is the part of his orders I heard. That and something about “both sides.” Guess I’ll know tomorrow. And if my doctor said “ouch” when he heard I was having an EMG, that could be interesting. Shame it’s not until May 4th.

What I was about to say is not only was the big mound of stitches where the mole was fine for a vigorous shift unloading trailers, but also that part of my back stopped bothering me. Probably pure coincidence. How could there be causality at all? Still, found it fascinating, considering how bad it got the past couple days. Then again, there seems to be some correspondence between the back pain and bowels often enough to stop ignoring.

They gave me some spare strips to go over the incision to help keep it together, and had me buy waterproof bandages to go over it before showers, to come off immediately after. That makes things interesting, since I can’t reach. Well, almost can reach the big one, kind of, but the small one not at all. When it was time to take the bandages off they’d left over the spots, I had to ask Sadie to help. I’m dependent on Deb for the bandaging part to take showers, so I can only take them if she is going to be here and awake before and after. Doh.

I go back on Wednesday April 8. They put it in as an appointment for 8:30 AM, but I am supposed to drop by between 7:30 and 12:30, check in, then go in and find my congenial friend the student nurse. Presumably I will see the doctor and he will tell me when to come back. Perhaps I can even discuss other things. Minimum, though, they’ll want to monitor my blood pressure regularly. Maybe I can get extra visits while the student is there!

Meanwhile, I think I need to start logging stuff. If I get numb here or there, skin crawling, involuntary urge to flex or twitch, sensation of warm water running down my thigh (nope, not from me), what is happening or hurting at the time besides, where and how long, those kinds of things, then I can stop forgetting what I wanted to mention and give them more to go by. I spent about three days recently with my feet feeling numb, even if the rest of me seemed fine. I’ve had that for a long time, but blamed it on shoes, or an association with gout attacks, or on my feet always having been weird, and if I mentioned it then hello, they might decide I had diabetes. I’m conditioned not to draw attention to things, especially if they might be dire but haven’t felled me yet, most of all if they might be diabetes or another “mother told ya so” malady. Not sure how I’ll do the mechanics of that. Maybe e-mail myself from wherever I am with the Blackberry, then compile it.

Can’t think of what else I might have been planning to say. Guess I’ll call it a post and move on with the day. Have a huge list of stuff to do.


Neurosurgeon Visit

My consultation with the neurosurgeon was today yesterday, so I thought I’d post a report. I managed to be super early, despite leaving later than planned. Had to stop for MRI films on my way, which these days means a CD. Drove to Boston, which turns out to be the best option all around. BMC is far south, right off 93. Parking took me 5 minutes of driving around garage to get a freshly cleared spot, but cheap,

MRI shows disk bulge in neck, but collected symptoms would seem mainly something else. He was surprised my doctor hadn’t ordered MRI of rest of back.

He did a very thorough exam, compared to what I am used to. More like having a physical than having the doctor barely look at fully clothed me. Not sure I like the proportion of visits that have been $95 blood pressure checks over the years. Oh well.

My impression is that one or two of the reflex taps I wasn’t as responsive as I could have been, and that I may have been misidentifying some of the needle prick versus hand tests. Could be wrong.

As always, I didn’t get to or remember to give every possible detail. I am beginning to think I should keep a log and take that or notes. Yet in some ways he got more detail because he was so professional, direct, and systematic.

He seemed to think there was not a strong or at least immediate need for surgery, but that was the start of what seems like it will be a longish process. I am waiting to hear from the MRI place regarding when they want to schedule me for that. I have already been scheduled for the EMG (nerve conduction study) he ordered. That will be May 4 at 8:00 AM. Both that and MRI will be in Brockton, which is convenient. Once I have an appointment for the MRI, I have to call BMC to make a followup appointment.

In the meantime, I need to find work that isn’t “FredCo” or similarly hard on the back (for all it often bothers me least, in the spot that seems most tied to numbness and in terms off feeling numbness itself, during all that activity). And doesn’t involve driving. And involves sitting in a chair that won’t hurt me. And I need to replace my chair, which apart from cost I was waiting to do after this visit in case it affected that action.

I know it sounds odd, but I keep realizing things in retrospect. I’ve had numbness in my feet routinely for ages, which always seems worst when I have gout attacks, but happens any time. Thing is, anything like that that might make the medical people cry out “aha, diabeeteeeez!” tends to go unmentioned. Same with peripheral neuropathy symptoms that aren’t numbness but are funky. I’ve posted about those now and then over the course of time. Or I am sure I have, without actually going and searching to point to the instances.

Did I remember to mention that? Of course not.

Anywho, I have an appointment Thursday with my doctor for a normal checkup and removal of my funky mole. Aw shoot! Forgot to take my blood pressure meds this AM. Doh! Hate to skip a day so close to a checkup, but no way this late in the day. I’ll sleep through work. It’ll be interesting discussing this whole thing further with him, assuming he allows a couple minutes for that. Since I have him for an appointment for a procedure and not just wham, bam, blood pressure’s still high per usual, there may be hope of more chat time.

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American Idol Blogging (and way too much else)

Let’s see if I can sneak in a quick post around my daycare duties. They (and by “they” I mean Henry) tend to know the difference between my fingers hitting the keys for anything substantive and not, so I can type a tweet or something like a Google query or URL, but not a post or e-mail. Haven’t tried the in-between of writing or revising a resume or LinkedIn desriptions lately, but they fall more to the substantive if only in terms of concentration and here he comes, like clockwork. Well yay, he… nope, he started walking off until I started typing again. Okay, he left. And Val drew him back. Score! He couldn’t get to my lap so he gave up. Go me!

You will have noticed a distinct lack of American Idol blogging. Or other TV blogging. I mean, ignoring for a moment the limited blogging generally, which is a combination if things, partially overlapping, which see a subsequent post, if not a full explanation therein.

Sadly, for the moment we have settled into a reasonable combination of Deb working 2:00 to 11:00 PM, while I work out of the house 3:45 AM until somewhere between 6:30 and 8:00 AM, normally to just after 7:00 AM. Her 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM shift didn’t work well, though it could have if I’d set a strict bedtime for me and the kids of 7:30, and not worried as much about her getting supper of whatever we’d had not long after we’d eaten, or making her something when she arrived. In the last few months I struggled with being boxed into the role and slipped a bit, but generally I take the “feed everyone” job seriously. (On that note, Sadie says “more apple!!!” and I am called away…)

Where was I?

Right. I don’t know how I was doing the “FredCo” job well enough to be retained as permanent, because I almost never got enough sleep the whole time, and I sleepwalked through every day between shifts, which come to think of it may not have helped my enthusiasm for my domestic duties. Oddly, though, I had faith I would become perm, while Deb wasn’t so sure I’d even last the seasonal stretch. Doesn’t take so much: Don’t let anything stop me from going to work, focus, do the job well, be inexorable, try not to get so hurt I have to stop. The new policy is get to bed as early as possible and even if it were tempting to wait up for Deb, 11:30 PM would be out of the question. It means easier to have a routine that gets us there, with flexibility the 7:30 thing would not have afforded. So the target bedtime is 8:00 PM, but if it takes until 9:30 sometimes, oh well. If we are asleep at 8:30, that lets me sleep potentially as long as 6.5 hours, which is amazing. I was routinely getting 4 and under. If I got more, it was by Deb being the evening parent and the morning parent. She routinely got too little sleep, and had less time for herself than needed, let alone customary from before I had even a job tucked into a theoretically out of the way, brief time slot. Interstitial employment?

(Pause to peel another apple because Sadie wanted more. Apparently the Pink Ladies are a huge hit.)

(And he is on my lap.)

(And saved by Val needing to be wiped.)

(And finally closed door to try to finish this quick, since my solution of doing dishes to feel unencumbered went far worse than this did, with two of them mothing me.)

Now where was I?

I go to bed before Idol, and Deb works during Idol. Part of the charm was watching together. We also are too busy to tape and watch. Thus I have been catching highlights via Rickey, except for having caught bits of some of the audition rounds. I have some idea who is participating and how the competition stacks up, know some of the drama, know details of how they’ve changed things this year, and so forth, but the viewing experience? Not getting that this time.

Not to mention the TV problem

(Sadie pounded on door to roust me because Henry changed the channel and messed it up. He will not learn not to do that.)

Not to mention the TV problems we have had, which I troubleshot yesterday, resulting in a revelation as well as the expected.

The signal comes through rabbit ears, and through the miracle of cables and splitters we could record something on the VCR on one channel while watching another channel, or watch a tape. The DVD player hooked directly into the requisite red, white and yellow jacks, rather than the antenna jack.

It barfed a couple months or so back. Ended up having to feed antenna to VCR and VCR to TV using DVD cables, or leave the DVD cables on the DVD player. Switching between them had to be a physical act of moving cables, so it was a big deal to watch TV as it happened, or to tape it, which couldn’t be done while watching a DVD anymore. If the kids picked something we had on tape, like Mary Poppins, we’d make a proverbial day of it and watch multiple tapes, maximizing the benefit of the cable swap.

I’d meant to try the “old” TV, which is the newer TV, which is smaller, else there’d have been no reason to switch to the other.

(They just busted into my locked door. So Val could ask for help with one of her new belts she got for her birthday. Then succeeded herself. Then left him in with me, closing the door behind her, Go Valerie.)

It was fairly apparent that the antenna jack on the big TV was more or less fried, but that wasn’t beyond all doubt.

(Pause to let Henry out and stuff.)

Thus the desire to test, if not automatically, definitely switch.

I confirmed the diagnosis, leaving us a good working kind of small TV that can be used as we used to, and a bigger, older TV that isn’t good for much besides hooking to a DVD player. Which might be viable if and when it could go in a separate room for the kids, or if one of us had space and preference for it versus the fact we can watch DVD on our computers (or will be able to, in Deb’s case, once I put in the drive that I ordered), and versus the watching of Hulu that can and does happen on our computers.

Having started on the course of not being able to watch AI this season, I can’t see us suddenly starting to tape it, but at least now we could.

Except… we can’t. Not yet.

You know how Obama has an advisor on such matters who worked for a company that benefits from a delay in the switch to HD, so mysteriously a delay has in fact been invoked? That was not enough to stop Fox. Home of American Idol.

In my A/V geeking yesterday, I found that

(Pause to wipe Sadie and hand out snacks to the bottomless children and be amused at Sadie’s declaration she didn’t want to miss much of the show she was watching, ‘I’m watching PBS Kids!”)

I found that channel 64 was on an endless loop announcing you were not seeing their programming because they had switched, so get off your asses and get a converter if you don’t have cable or a new set, here’s how. That’s Fox in Providence. Channel 25 was gone entirely. That’s Fox in Boston. It’s a tossup which will come in better for us, so normally we’d watch whichever was clearer that day. Not that Fox was alone, since it appeared channels 10 and 12 were gone as well, essentially eliminating commercial network television as an option for us.

So much for the delay.

And TV watchers or not, HD transition delay or not, the coupons for $40 of a $48 converter box expire, so I will need to get one or two sooner rather than later. For an extra $8 I’m inclined to get a spare, just in case we use a second TV or one dies or whatever.

In long, that, folks, is why you have not been and probably will not be seeing breathless commentary here about American Idol this season. Maybe sometime in the season we will manage, or I will manage, to do some actual watching of it, live or taped. The “FredCo” job can’t be forever, if you ask me, just because it’s too little to be so much of what I rely on, and it’s too physically demanding. The trouble is that I have to transition to work that pays so well that daycare is not an issue, or that is “work” not a “job” and can actually fit in with the kids and dishes and stuff, either being relatively interruptable, or doable during time Deb can and will cover me as if I had left the house and was no more available than I am now Tuesday through Saturday mornings 3:30 to generally about 7:30. I’ve been interested in working from home at times in order to be available to help, but mostly that just doesn’t work. A couple of saving factors are that we live in a 24 hour, 7 day world, and that we won’t necessarily overlap hours entirely for the foreseeable future, even if I extricate myself from domestic box into corporate cubicle.

Now. I have another post in mind for here, and maybe I can put that forth today, but also I have a post I started last week, elsewhere, directly relevant to getting work, potentially to be seen by tens of thousands of people, potentially meme-setting in scope. But at least self-motivational and all that. I was white-hot inspired and then wasn’t able to work on it and lost the feel, but at least it can be done enough without the heat, so long as there’s time and permission to actually work on it.

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Not Official But…

The job I have totally not blogged about as intended is planning to keep me beyond seasonal. I am “reliable and a hard worker.”

I’d been wanting to post about how cool it is, in terms of logistics, handling and managing physical stuff, being no-nonsense and well run, and reminding me of a computer program written in physical form rather than in software. It is, after all, a sorting and routing routine. Then there’s the physical fitness aspect, and the fact I’m so capable to handling it, offset by the downsides of how easy it is to be injured and how grueling it is. In the “here’s an entire day or two of exertion to do in 3 – 5 hours” sort of way.

More significantly, I’d been mentally composing a post about my psychology and aspects of my employment history it resonates with, and it being a mental as well as physical reset. I’m not the fastest at unloading trailers and slinging 1000 – 2000 or so packages a shift, but I’m up there, without losing quality in the process. My boss at my last job like this would probably not have been satisfied I was fast enough!

Anyway, in a cosmic sense it’s not enough, but in an ohshitwhatarewedoinginjanuary sense it’s fantastic news. If it’s less intense and we finally get used to it and manage bedtimes and such better and get the cars fully reliable and do some strategic child offloading, many things could be possible. It can hardly help but be a better year, but still, why not shoot for a good one.

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Curls Galore

Speaking of Valerie’s hair, we trimmed it for the first time the other day. No pics yet, but it came out fantastic. And speaking of pics, I still need to create an online card from. well, less to work with than I’d like. On the plus side, it’s not limited to the size that will look good and fit on a printed version. And speaking of limited funds, I need to get a job that doesn’t result in a new bruise – mystery or otherwise – or other injury each day, and that doesn’t pack a full day or two of physical effort into 4 hours.

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Eating At The Table

As mentioned previously, Henry has joined us at the table, and after about a week it seems to have stuck. In fact, he thought it was high time. It’s as if he’s always sat there.

It’s a little crowded, and tricky when the girls are eating something he can’t have, but we’ve done pretty well.

It’s astonishing just how much he loves chili, which in the last incarnations doesn’t seem to have bothered him at all. Other than spices and maybe brown sugar, that’s not a surprise, and any problem should have been modest anyway. More concerning is that one of us touched him without washing peanut butter off our hands and he got temporary, fairly dramatic hives where the presumed skin contact with peanut butter happened.

He has tried dried papaya with no apparent problem. Forget what else there’s been new. He thinks pasta is the greatest, even plain. Oh, he’s been eating a lot of homemade applesauce and some slivers of peeled Macintosh apple. Gave him slivers of raw carrot the other day. If I buy hot dogs (decent all beef ones, checking ingredients), he eats an entire one as part of a meal now.

We had an excess chicken breast thawed the other day, so I boiled it to make chicken salad the next day. Since he can’t have mayonaise, I made him some with canola oil, plus celery salt, garlic powder and poultry seasoning, which I also used in the other batch. He demolished a thick half-sandwich and it was sad I’d not saved him extra. I’ll have to try the oil trick with tuna, if there’s a sale and I can restock it. Looks like it’s one of those foods that’s gone up lately. The amount of oil is enough to moisten and make it act like it would with mayo binding it, but not enough to make it seem oily. Like an invisible binder.

More pictures sometime today, probably. Need to do stuff. It’s a weird day because I had a not-interview at 4:30 AM. That is, it was a see the operation and if you’re not scared then come apply for this part time, wee hours distribution center job. I napped subsequently, but not well. When Deb gets home, I’ll run down and apply, then it’s a background check, interview some morning at 2 AM, and presumably starting after that. Time to feed the kids, start a pot roast for supper in the crockpot, and do some other things that’ll feel useful.

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ER Aftermath

Well, it’s the morning after the emergency room run. He actually looked worse in the end than the pictures showed, and was engulfed in places not pictured.

By 10 PM it had subsided significantly but still looked bad. That was time for a new dose of Benadryl, then he participated in some book reading and hell raising before getting in bed with Deb.

He slept like a rock until 8:30, when we both got up, well ahead of his sisters.

No more hives.

Okay, not exactly no sign, since looking closely in some of the worst areas it’s like there are ghostly scars, redder skin than it should be. Presumably that will fade.

Not only did we not wake him for a 4 AM dose of Benadryl, but also I haven’t bothered with one this morning. If there seems to be the slightest reason, I won’t hesitate.

We probably won’t even worry about filling the prescription, since that was due to be given at 6 PM today only if he still had hives.

All that’s left, besides avoiding eggs, is calling the doctor Monday to arrange allergy testing. That, and I’m curious whether anyone on my side has ever had egg allergies. I know about some allergies or sensitivities to milk, clams, garlic and onions, raw tomato, but can’t remember eggs… or maybe I am thinking my older brother had that problem. Hmmm… Anyone?

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Not Hysterics

I had to take Henry to the ER this evening. As far as we can tell, he is allergic to eggs. He ate far and away his largest serving of eggs so far, scrambled, at noon. He was reacting full-blown about the time Deb got home. We gave him Benadryl, and it no more than slowed it some this time. This is what he looked like after we got home:

This is extreme, but yeah, we aren’t kidding about the sensitivities and allergies. Morton Hospital was awesome. I drove him over there and we got right in. They gave him prednisone, and we have to give him Benadryl every six hours until it subsides and another dose of prednisone if needed about 6 PM tomorrow. We are to call the doctor Monday and arrange allergy testing, now that he’s over a year old. It took no time, and he mostly had fun and charmed people. As I type this, it’s finally starting to recede a bit.

Um… recede in places. His belly is massively worse.

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Apparently Henry has limited tolerance for them.

Even as the whole milk products thing seems to be getting milder.

Horrendous hives. Benadryl has its work cut in for it.

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Grand Rounds Fourth Anniversary

I did a double-take when I saw Glenn saying that Grand Rounds was celebrating its fifth anniversary, since I remembered them starting after CotC, which would have been five in a few weeks had it not lapsed.

Indeed, their first edition was four years ago, almost a year after CotC started. Still a long time, and it was always an excellent idea for a carnival topic. This will be the start of their fifth year, coming up, not to be confused with fifth anniversary.

Check out the fourth anniversary Grand Rounds, the medical blog carnival.

(I know, this is pedantic. It just strikes me that it’s an important distinction, just as it will be when we celebrate our sixth anniversary January 2nd.)

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Official Shit List

Mitt Romney
Healthcare Financial, Inc.
Thomas G. Gennis
The voice “talent” of Signature Healthcare’s phone system
The designer of Signature Healthcare’s phone system
Heck, the designer of MassHealth’s phone system
Downstairs neighbor
Upstairs neighbor
Anyone who calls us after 10 PM tops when there’s no deaths in the family or such
Probably a bunch of others not as close to the top of my mind.

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Pictures, Henry, Etc.

I have about a gazillion pictures and even some videos of the kids being insanely cute, at the playground, in the car, at grandma’s, and even at home. I really need to pack up a bunch for the California grandparents and post some. Seriously, I could post a couple “ohmygodsocute” pictures a day and go weeks before I’m stretching or going back that far to get good ones.

I keep starting posts and not finishing them, to the point where I am tempted to write snippets on the fly, no longer than what you see to this point, and just do them when they come to mind and I have time.

Henry waves and says “bye bye” now and it’s the cutest thing. He also progressed almost instantly from walking to running and even climbing. With a bit of support from me, he climbed up a large slide yesterday. See pictures, if I get them posted.

We’re a bit mystified by the whole allergy thing, specifically with regard to dairy, as it seems to be more about contact than ingesting it. The slightest trace of dairy, and apparently certain other things, makes his skin break out. However, he has eaten tiny amounts of dairy in dry foods and not been affected. My grandmother gave him a lemon cookie and I decided to let it go, then read the ingredients and sure enough, milk. Which was also in the oatmeal raisin cookies the girls had. So next time he was there, two days later, he ate two of them. Most flavored potato chips have milk. Who knew? He recently tried one Utz salt & pepper chip and loved it. The test was reaction to the black pepper, which in that amount he didn’t, which was the expected result. Turns out they have buttermilk, yet don’t conform with standard allergen labeling so I’d missed that before.

He can apparently eat eggs.

And mayonaise, but one of the times he had mayo, it inflamed his skin where it got on his belly and chest, or it did in combo with something else, anyway. He was eating a particularly safe meal. He loved potato salad, and it didn’t affect him.

He can eat fresh tomatoes. Thinks they are wonderful. That should be nothing more than the concern one might have for a food moderate to low in salicylates (looking, it’s apparently in the same class as carrots, cauliflower (which he’s had but is meh about), parsnip (ditto), onion, sweet potato (which either bothers him if there is enough or is a red herring or mixed in with the contact problem substances), some squash, etc. Anyway, he is not allergic to them. Yay!

Any non-spiced meat should be fine, and he had a taste of Kahn’s beef hot dogs recently, no problem. No milk in those, which would be the other hot dog concern.

He has had two extremely small tastes incorporating cooked blueberry, no apparent problem.

He has had canned pineapple in heavy syrup, no apparent problem. Small amounts. Not a surprise, as he did OK with even smaller amounts of dried pineapple.

I forget what else he’s had that might be new. Well, besides his birthday cake! Wal-Mart’s brand white cake mix has no milk. Ditto for Wal-Mart’s brand of chocolate fudge frosting (as opposed to milk chocolate), which I ended up using only for accent. The rest got eaten on spoons over the course of a few days, including by Henry, who traditionally doesn’t get sweets because so many are off-limits or uncertain yet. I made homemade lime frosting using powdered sugar, shortening, water, lime juice (a tablespoon or so squeezed from half a lime), and so grated lime skin. The cake was unusually good. The fudge frosting was exceptionally good for canned, to the point of being good as frosting goes, and the lime I made was one of the best frostings I have ever had. It was awesome, and now we know that with the right mix or recipe, cake will be something he can indeed have.

Anything I’ve forgotten will have to wait. I’ve taken hours to write all this, off and on, and that about covers or more what I’d intended.

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Life Gives Us Deadlines

This is an updated and abbreviated version of a post I have been meaning to write and have a couple times had partially written for weeks, and relates to mentions here (linked by Sarah in this awesome post), and over here, and perhaps elsewhere, like this, and on Twitter.

As you may know, we’ve been financially challenged. Things have become almost but not quite stable on the way to the end of the tunnel. We’re not in immediate danger of eviction for being behind on rent. We can eat. The phone and internet – vital to modern life and in our case making a chunk of money and seeking more – are being kept on. The kids have health coverage and Henry will get his one year checkup and shots – albeit not until almost 13 months old due to doctor vacation scheduling – and that’ll set us on the road to getting an even better handle on the allergy/sensitivity problems, which may also become less critical as he ages. It’s actually been I have no idea what I was about to type a little while ago when I stopped in mid-sentence. I think I was going to say it’s been good I’ve been so available, and that will make working from home a Good Thing, except I must be able to work for that to work which is a matter of some juggling and changes. But I digress.

Have to stop and try to remember where I was going with this in the broader sense. I load my thoughts in my head and risk losing them if they don’t spew right out the keyboard.


There’s been one big deadline coming at us. The gas & electric can’t be turned off if you have a baby under a year and financial hardship. Henry turns 1 on the 20th. We’ve accumulated most of a year’s worth of balance. In fact, it’s apparently a couple months more than I thought, and the peak bills in the winter weren’t much more than the bills have been this summer. Odd.

We assumed, not unreasonably, that I would get enough work before now to straighten that out and take us the rest of the way out of the basics. As it is, we should be able to cover the current utilities in the future, so it’s mainly about the arrears.

The bottom line is we have to pay at least $1425 by August 22nd to keep the gas and electricity on, and then the other half will be in six installments.

That means needing to come up with about $1000 above what we can otherwise manage.

I have an offer of $150 toward the second installment from a local charitable agency, but not the first, as they have to know the power will stay on and it won’t be wasted dropping in the bucket. That would effectively give me until sometime in October to have gotten the prospective job, or other work sufficient to keep it all rolling.

Someone finally expressed interest in buying the domain I’ve had for sale for several months, so I thought that might do it, but I haven’t heard back. I just replied a third time, from a different address, making a time-sensitive offer to sell it at the lowest price I can reasonably accept. I’ll probably list it again in a formal service to expedite the possibility and give others a chance if the warm prospect bails. That would help some, if it could happen soon enough. We’re looking at what else we can sell in the next week, focusing heavily on my comic book collection from years past.

For the most part, family isn’t a viable source of help, so I won’t go asking them unless it comes down to, say, the last $100 or so between us and darkness.

At any rate, whatever we could say about how we got here, miscalculating and all that, it’s not as important as moving forward. The consequences, if we can’t keep the utilities on, will be the same as eviction. There are contingency plans for Deb and the kids to stay with a friend of hers. I have no such plans, beyond being acutely aware I still own a tent. That just sets up a much harder scenario to escape, makes it hard to make the money we now make online, makes it hard to get work, makes it hard to take care of the kids, makes it hard to keep Henry’s sensitivities watched and controlled.

I haven’t been eager to say anything by way of asking for donations, as we already got helped once beyond all conceivable generosity. We wouldn’t be so stable now, otherwise. I’m itching to get on the other side of the PayPal button and be able to do the same for others. Surely that’ll come, but isn’t here yet.

This was why I planned to do a fundraising edition of CotC, since that was a different audience and reason – appreciation of the carnival in the past or expression of a desire to have it happen in the future – it didn’t feel inappropriate. My spare time for that never became copious, even though the fundraising aspect made it paying work of sorts. Again, not to reflect on where and why but to resolve and proceed.

So. Anything I receive in PayPal (button at top of right sidebar) will go to the gas and electric arrears until that is paid up or something else is a more immediate threat. I’ll add to this if I see later I forgot something, or will post status updates as appropriate.

The other part of the plan, besides maybe mentioning this in a less frantic way, was a post soliciting micro-work of the sort I can actually do while taking care of the kids and having to fit it into minute or few bursts or sleepy midnight interludes. Ironically, planning that, composing it and so forth didn’t lend themselves to my time and circumstances. While that might not raise what a full-fledged getababysitternow job would, it would have helped. I still plan something along those lines, which was not going to be a mere post, but also a mass e-mail to contacts, some of whom might not even realize I am looking. Even some people I expected were aware things were grim had no idea, so on the periphery, who knows.

Oddly, everyone has left me alone long enough to ramble at length. This is as much as I wrote over the course of a couple weeks in an unfinished post on the topic that reached the point where I wasn’t sure what I’d said and needed almost a rewrite of an edit. However, it’s time to make supper before the kids mutiny.

We’re down to about $650 $600 $200 needed to make the deadline. Not there yet, but it’s progress. Almost there! Thank you all so much for your links, donations and purchases.

Update on August 19. 2008:

I’ve removed the sticky status from this post and am updating this one accordingly. While things won’t exactly be rosy and we still could use assistance if anyone feels generous (this big push was for half the arrears; it’ll be hard to pay both the installments on the other half and the current bills, if nothing else), with some juggling and astonishing generosity from several people, we’ve reached the immediate goal. Thanks!!

If you do still want to help out, the PayPal button on the top right remains. Deb’s shop still has a few physical items, though it is going largely virtual. We still have books for sale, and may add more along the line. Some have had to be removed after Henry damaged them, which is helpful.

You’re welcome to use the info in the sidebar where it says “Light the power!” to go directly to the gas & electric on our behalf. That’s going to be over $200 a month to catch up, after all, on to of an average of probably $300 a month over the year, with the big ones coming all too soon. That’s anonymous, unless you tell us you’ve done it. We’ll just see that part of the bill has already been paid.

I didn’t end up selling off some of my comics for this emergency, but I’m not attached to most of them, and will probably put many of them up for sale. Possibly right on one of the blogs, or possibly other places. Stay tuned.

I still am trying to sell, though perhaps I should use that as the domain for selling comics. It has a higher Page Rank now than we do here. Anyway, the auction expires tomorrow, but until then I will accept a bargain reserve price ($500) for the thing. That’s somewhere between 1/2 and 1/20 of what it should bring. I’ll probably put it on longer term offer at a higher price, whether I also sell stuff on it or not. I also have potentially available, but haven’t really thought about price.

At any rate, thanks to everyone who donated, linked, and made a point of buying stuff. It was a big help.

Food & Cooking Kids Medical Pictures

Dairy Rash on Back

Here are a couple pictures of the rash on Henry’s back that resulted from contact with two small dabs of organic plain baby yogurt, proving beyond any remaining doubt his dairy allergy. As usual, click for a larger version.

Food & Cooking Kids Medical

It’s Annoying

Some of the finer points of the thing with Henry are, that is. Tonight Last night he ate summer squash for the first time. A lot of it. With relish. He thought it was one of the Best Things Ever.

It was crookneck, to be exact.

The main list I always consult for relative levels of salicylates mentions butternut and pumpkin. Pumpkin is, from what I understood from having read about it in the past couple years, very closely related to zucchini. And the summer squashes are kind of related, right? So if pumpkin was reasonable, probably summer squash was fine. I also know crookneck was rather distinct from straight yellow summer squash.

Anyway, he ate a pile of crookneck squash, loved it, and later this evening last night got a little itchier than we might expect or prefer, if not full blown bad. Could be the heat. Could be the levels in the squash. Could be something else. All complicated by Valerie being sweet and wanting to share a cashew. However, he’d started itching before that, cashews are super low in salicylates, and a full-fledged allergy would presumably show a more spectacular result. So he got to eat maybe half of a cashew and thought it was the best thing he’d ever had. In fact, the itching could have been heightened simply by his level of sadness over cashew being removed from his mouth and the bowl being empty when he looked in it after following Val around until she set it down.

Still, the itching and slight redness above the usual made me go poking around, and I found a better site for salicylate levels, except it’s laid out badly.

That says “summer squash” is in the very lowest levels. Except… by “summer squash” they mean something also known as chayote, which is completely unfamiliar. Scientifically it is Sechium edule.

That same site says zucchini is one of the worst handful of veggies. It’s grouped with things like peppers, radishes and concentrated tomato products. In fact, the only things that aren’t herbs, spices and miscellany that fall higher are raisins, prunes and raspberries. Seems odd, but I guess he will not be trying the zucchini that’s in the fridge.

But… what about other summer squashes, including crookneck?

Zucchini is apparently part of Cucurbita pepo, along with some types of pumpkin, yellow summer and crookneck squashes, acorn, pattypan and spaghetti squashes.

So why would it be so high? And the others not? They’re not, right?

The site places pumpkin (but which variant?) and marrow squash into the second lowest category.

In the third it places “squash.” Just squash.

So helpful. So descriptive.

A bit more looking things up and I learn that “marrow” is simply a word for squash, in some countries. So saying “marrow squash” is like saying “squash squash.”

I also learn that, in the strictest sense, “marrow squash” is a large, straight green squash that resembles a zucchini, but is often grown to huge sizes and stuffed. I think I’ve seen marrow squash. I think we’ve always called it zucchini and it’s just been that zucchini don’t all look exactly the same.

But wait! If it’s a straight squash, why do I find pictures online of it looking like a green crookneck? Along with southern recipes.

Bottom line, apparently if you seen a reference to marrow squashes, it’s more likely to mean the various summer squashes as to mean the big green or crookneck green ones. Which leads me to that original salicylates list, the one I usually use for handy reference.

Voila! There’s “marrow,” in the moderate column for vegetables, along with pumpkin, parsnips, fresh tomato, carrots, and some other stuff. That fits.

What’s missing from both is a specific reference to butternut squash. I believe we may have developed the impression of butternut as okay by direct experimentation, or by seeing it elsewhere, since we’ve looked at many of these lists or sets of recommendations. They do mostly agree, fortunately.

That leaves me thinking that the reference to “squash” without any further distinction covers butternut and the general winter squashes. Then again, butternut is Cucurbita moschata, which also includes some pumpkin varieties, including one used for commercial canned pumpkin. What I think of as the main winter squash is Cucurbita maxima, which includes hubbard and buttercup.

You have to become an expert just to feed the kid safely. Well, it’s not unsafe for him to get a bit itchy, just uncomfortable. I’d say he clearly reacted mildly to summer squash or to something else, but there was a lack of “something else.” Maybe the charring on the steak? Bottom line, besides that this is confusing, and beware of naming conventions, is moderate amounts rule.

The other day, I gave him peach. No peal, just the inner part, after it had sat on the counter to ripen a few days. I meant only to give him a sliver, but he ate several. Thought it was awesome. And didn’t react at all. Check off peaches as a food he “can have.” But… not in large amounts. Or maybe not so much? I see the lists disagree. The new one has peaches in the second lowest class, along with things like lemon. And apple juice, which he can’t have, at least very much. And light grape joice, which he can’t have. At least not much. The other list has peaches in the second highest class. Along with some of the other stuff the alternate list has in the second lowest class. Wild.

This is why he becomes a science experiment. It’s the only way we learn for sure what he can have without becoming an itch factory or breaking out.

Food & Cooking Medical

Low-fat diets not best for weight loss

But… but… whaddaya mean the lowest fat diet had the poorest results in a formal study? We all know that if you eat fat you’ll die! Die, I say. And if you are fat you will get diabetes and die. Die! If you lose weight, you will automatically recover and/or prevent yourselves from getting diabetes. Ever! Or blood pressure. Nobody thin ever had blood pressure, after all. And our kids, what are we thinking, not putting them all on statins before their nervous systems can even finish being constructed. Who needs an IQ! Surely not kids. Not in America. Statins in the water! Along with the ritalin. We should probably toss in beta blockers while we are at it, prevent kids from getting blood pressures in the first place. Because, you know, your blood pressure causes your arteries to harden and clog, and it makes you fat, and fat makes you have blood pressure, and fat in what you eat surely translates directly into fat stored in your ulterior regions without even being affected by digestion or metabolism or nutritional needs, going straight into the diabolestertensionheimers matrix and causing your brain, heart and nerves to explode and/or liquify and be expelled and be expelled in an almost ebola-driven manner,

So this study can’t be right, even if a high fat diet has been integral to my massive weight loss of late. That’s purely anecdotal. And studies? They can’t be right, unless they are funded with litigious intent and the more obscurely published the better. Then it’s data.

Food & Cooking Kids Medical Money

Shopping Wizard

Yesterday I managed to spend $67 and get 5 kinds of meat, 3 kinds of fruit, 4 kinds of produce, 2 quarts of rice milk (hey Stop & Shop, change your sign if it’s $1.50 and not $1.25 sale anymore), 2 cans of tomato soup, 18 eggs, a small cheese, 3 loaves of bread (which is about 3-4 days worth lately) (speaking of which, my mother brought a loaf of raisin bread for the girls and they couldn’t get enough of it), a giant bag of on sale chips (which have the benefit of baby can eat them), 3 packs of favorite Kool-Aid flavor (blue raspberry lemonade) that’s not sold at Wal-Mart, black beans, and 2 kinds of crackers ($1.29 for saltines and he seems to be able to eat them, as he can the Keebler Club crackers, which were fortuitously on sale), ziti, relish and chicken boullion cubes. I rock.

Food & Cooking Kids Medical

Yogurt Clinches It

We’ve noted that Henry is clearly allergic to dairy, on top of any oher sensitivities or allergies. It’s beyond a doubt that was the specific food that caused the level of reaction that earned him an ambulance ride this past winter, though the whole meal was a potential mess in that regard, down to the fact I was cooking harriedly and tossing food his way to calm him down with hands that had handled this and that.

Last night he got a skin reaction under his arms, on his upper arms and down onto his chest, in a pattern that smacked of reacting to contact with residue of margarine and parm cheese on one or both of our sets of hands when we picked him up.

So today we pointedly experimented, dabbing a little plain, unflavored, uncolored, organic hippy yogurt marketed for babies on his back in an area where he would not have had any other reason to break out.

It was spectacular. Not like when I did the same with various soaps and such and got no response.

We may or may not have gotten some decent pictures showing how it looks when this happens.

Just from contact.

For someone cooking and serving, that means no touching the baby until the hands are thoroughly clean. It means, as I already figured, being careful about cross-contamination.

Now, he has had times when there was no apparent reaction, as when he found a dried sliver of cheese on the floor and sucked on it a while back. The reactions may still vary depending on what form the dairy product takes, aging and so forth, but… hand with parm cheese and margarine residue affected him. Tiny dabs of yougurt affected him. On skin contact.


He’s also clearly allergic/very sensitive red dye 40 that’s in so many things. He’s less so to the standard petroleum-based yellow. He’s minimally or not at all to the standard blue. In Kool-Aid, it’s the dye, because he can drink the clear flavor with impunity. Which is great, because then he drinks more and gets well hydrated, which helps his skin. The girls are starting to learn he can’t have certain things and that it’s serious.

What’s not clear is whether dairy passes through breast milk in a form that will affect him. That’s hard to test with confidence. It’s becoming a problem for Deb to be unable to have it freely on the chance it might.

At least we have some certainty as to which things are which, and can move with some confidence in what we consider okay, or test him on next. Some things it’s quantity. We had a scare with corn, but he can eat small amounts. Not as grain, but as a vegetable. Despite the eventual confirmation sweet potato could bother him, it should actually be fine in small amounts. It took extremes to get him to react to it. I worried tonight when he ate close to half of a golden delicious apple, which is currently the only raw fruit he can definitely have. It went over fine, though.

Controversies Medical

Another thing we haven’t mentioned:

Running around in circles in the Mega Lo mart takes weight off, too. I’m down to a weight I haven’t seen since probably early 2001. I suppose moving 8 hours a day is bound to do that to you. Shame it hurts so bad, though.

Food & Cooking Medical Totally Random

Woohoo! 248 Going Once…

Won’t really feel the love until I’ve seen it on the scale at least twice, but this morning I was 248, down 2 from my prior low, for an even 60 pounds lost from my high, and 50 lost this year.  Still, I did a double-take, having not expected it, stomach sick or not, metabolism racing from way too much coffee yesterday or not.