Sunday, December 30, 2007


Lest you think I spent all day in Austen land, I also:
--Went to the gym for 40 minutes! (the new iPod is a great motivator, let me tell you)
--made chicken and spinach rice for lunch
--made a creamy orzo for dinner, but I'm not eating the whole pan so it's OK. :)


I give you...

The Jane Austen Project

(the first draft, anyway).

My compilation of notes, background, genealogy, and other JA trivia.

In defense of Jane

Over the reunion, Di, her husband Matt, and myself were browsing in Barnes and Noble, the three of us being bookworms of the first degree.

Whilst in the fiction section, Matt made the mistake of trashing Jane. I hit him for that ( :-) ) and then responded, "at least she's better than the Brontes!"

"They're the same thing," said Matt.

Um, no. So here I post a very, very brief compare/contrast of the two.
Jane is, of course, the better. :)

Ahhh, family

Some pictures from the reunion:

1) Grandma, Paige and myself.
2)Some of the cousins: (L-R) Michael, Jack, Jenny, Courtney and Ryan (my godson, who, unbelievably, is 10 now)
3) Me and Paige with Patricia the Bunny
4) Me, my cousin Diane and her husband Matt at dinner
5) My brother with his godson, Brendan (who does not pose!), and Brendan's sister, Paige (who mugs like mad for a camera).

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Christmas to All!

While I wait for the arrival of relatives, I thought I'd do some quick blogging.
First off, here is the 2007 Branden Christmas party picture--10 years running:

I can't believe the party has been going for that long--or that when it started, we were all high school freshman. Yikes! By this time next year, at least two of the couples will be married!

Midnight Mass was phenomenal. Remember what I said about the night bringing out the best in us? It surely happened. Our pastor told me after Mas that it was "marvelous." The Mass itself was marvelous, with Msgr. Funk incensing the creche, the altar, the ambo, and the gifts at Communion. And his chant is always great.

Mass ended a bit after one, and I was in bed around 2, with everyone up and assembled 'round the tree at 9. It was a great Christmas, complete with Mom's yummy cinnamon rolls and sausage breakfast and the Christmas Ham at dinner.

One of my favorite Christmas gifts? An iPod nano, which hooks up to my CI via a cable that came with my CI. It is so awesome! I'm listening to it right now. :)

Today begins the Heilmann Family Christmas Reunion at Easton, so I am looking forward to that. My grandparents should be arriving in about an hour, and my Uncle John and his wife, my Aunt Sue, came in last night. We had dinner with them at Brio and saw National Treasure: Book of Secrets afterwards (good movie, very fun).

I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas season--I'll see you on Saturday!

Oh, books!
The books I got for Christmas (at least thus far)
--The President, The Pope and the Prime Minister by John O'Sullivan
--The Princes in the Tower by Alison Weir
--Son of Dust (part of the Loyola Classics series)

I've finished the Weir book and the O'Sullivan book is not far behind...

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Tomorrow is The Big Day, or, if you prefer, The Day Before The Big Day. Since I sing Midnight Mass, Christmas Eve always feels like The Day to me, since it’s a long day. :)

Singing Midnight Mass is one of the privileges of being in the parish choir. This, with the Triduum, is our most intensive Mass and one that requires months of preparation. Tomorrow, along with the baking, celebrating, and traditional events, there will be much practicing of the cantata we are singing before Mass, as well as the Mass music proper.

Praising God in song and chant is one of my favorite ways to pray. While I have developed a love of contemplative, silent prayer, singing is a true release, an expression of my soul and what I really feel in that moment. The Christmas and Triduum Masses are especially prayerful, since the music tends to be the same every year, so I can truly delve into the mysteries of the lyrics and the Mass without being distracted by my part.

My choir has about 35 people, give or take. Tomorrow night we will meet and begin singing our program at 11:00. For about an hour our voices will set the stage for the Mass we are about to offer to the Lord. The music is not perfect, but it may well be tomorrow; the atmosphere has a way of changing us, motivating us to offer our best on this night. I, of course, will be pacing up and down the choir room and the vestibule, as is my habit, until we begin warm-up. I am always filled with nervous energy.

The Mass begins at Midnight, and our new pastor has an affinity for chant, which I love. So I imagine the Mass will be a bit longer than usual, but who cares? Midnight Mass is truly a joy to attend. Singing “Joy to the World” as the recessional is always a high point, as organ, flute, trumpets, and voices join together to praise The Word Made Flesh.

We will praise God with our litugry, our “work of the people”, as we welcome His Son to earth. And I can think of no greater privilege than to welcome His Birth in song with my choir mates.

Christmas Zoo Trip

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Checking the list...

Today's accomplishments:
--Oil change: 1
--trip to a frenetic grocery store: 1
--total meals supplies purchased for: 4
--cars washed: 1
--Batches of fudge made: 1 (YUMMY!!!!)
--Loads of laundry done by Mother: (thanks, Mom!) at least one

Still to come:
Dinners to attend: 1
Christmas gifts to give: 1
Crazy zoo trip with crazy friends: 1

:) :) :)

Christmas Countdown: T-minus 3

Gifts to give: 3
Gifts to buy: 0
Gifts received: ?
Thank you notes written: 4
Songs to practice: An ungodly number
Floors to clean: 2
Floors to vacuum: 1
Height of Mt. Laundry: Approaching Everest

But at least I got Monday off!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Dr. W visit

I saw Dr. Willett (my ENT) yesterday; no big deal. He said my sinuses looked a little dry, but not as bad as he'd seen them. He did a wash and took some cultures (always lovely and fantastic fun!) but otherwise, not to bad. He'll call Dr. A when he gets results.
And that, hopefully, is the LAST doctor visit of 2007. :)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

HTP! (Hail to Pitt!)

GREAT men's basketball victory tonight in NYC over Duke in OT--a 3 pointer with three seconds left.
It was beautiful. Merry Christmas to Pitt Nation. :)

Christmas gift for you

Go out and treat yourself to this.

You will not be disappointed. Seriously.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Tonight is the LAST choir rehearsal before Midnight Mass!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Book club reminder!

WHO: You :)
WHAT: Online Book Club (or, as Nutmeg calls it, the Bloggy Book Club)
WHERE: Right here!
WHEN: January 21, 2008
WHY: To talk about great books!

THIS MONTH'S SELECTION: In This House of Brede, by Rumner Gooden.
Link here, so you can go get it! Go! Now! It really is a great book!!
Future books:
--February: The Poisonwood Bible
--March: The Christmas Box
--April: A Thousand Splendid Suns

And it continues!

I did more yoga AND my cardio video.
I am proud. :)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Starting the regimen

I just did yoga for the first time in like a month. Yay! :)

Todd report

OK so I'm still OK. PFTs, etc. holding steady while the NiOx has dropped significantly, which means any inflation that was happening in the lungs is resolving itself. Dr. A thinks that I need to have my sinuses checked (which means setting up an appt with Dr. Willet) because they might be what's causing my issues.
He also wants me to start pulm rehab again to stretch out my lung tissue and expand the lungs, since he thinks that might be causing some of the obstructive defects we're seeing in the PFTs. Yes, forcing Emily to stick to an exercise regimen--oh the joy!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Desperate rationalization

Scene: My apartment, the kitchen table.

Tiffy and I are pondering the very large chocolate and caramel covered apple I am about to slice into.

Me: (to tiff) Want a piece?
Tiff: (pretending to ponder) Yup.
(I distribute pieces)
Me: This is really good. (looking at the rest of the apple) I guess I'll have to eat it all soon, though.
Tiff: Yeah, because it will go brown.
Me: And that's not good.
(We continue eating)

(I have since had one more slice. There's still 3/4 of the LARGE apple to go...)

Da Baking

Continues unabated...

--Tiff and I did a number on the Snickerdoodles. :) :)
--More Peppermint Meringues! (But only 12 today, b/c it was a humid and that affects the volume of the egg whites.)
--And Toll House Chocolate Chunk cookies are coming out now because I had a serious chocolate craving. They are soo yummy--and I get to eat the batter!! :) :)

(Hey, I'm NPO after Midnight until Todd's done w/ me tomorrow, so I better stock up now...)

Todd again!

(Back to purple....)

Another Todd visit tomorrow.
Another one.
This weekly pattern is getting old...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

"Make it pink!"

We're pink for Gaudete Sunday, folks!

"Rejoice in the Lord, always. I say it again: rejoice!"

(And if you don't know what movie the title is referring to, go here)

Culture Cat: Nutcracker

Just got back from BalletMet's production of The Nutcracker. Since I haven't seen it since junior high, I was looking forward to revisiting an old favorite. I especially love the score (but we can thank Fantasia for that!).

The cast rotates at each performance, so I can't really give a definitive appraisal, but the cast we saw was excellent. I've been attending BalletMet productions regularly (I've been a subscriber the past two years and have seen three of their four productions this year), and they are technically and artistically a very talented company. The cast also includes many of the kids from their Academy, who were unanimously charming (even if there were a few flub-ups here and there--they're kids, and they handled them very well.). My favorite groups of kids was a tie between the pages and Mother Ginger's children. All of the principles performed beautifully. The dancing was accompanied by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra who did a glorious job with Tchaichovsky's familiar score. (I love live music. Love it.)

The company splits the role of Clara into child Clara (Act I and Finale) and "grown-up" Clara (end of Act I and Act II), which is not always done. Tonight we saw Sarah Wilson and Jaime Dee play the roles, respectively. Miss Wilson did an excellent job, demonstrating great artistry and technique, and Ms. Dee was, as usual, superb. (She's one of my favorites.)

Other company standouts:
--Adam Hundt as Herr Drosselmeyer
--Jimmy Orrante as the Suger Plum Fairy's Cavalier and Herr Stahlbaum
--Emily Gotschall as Grandma Stahlbaum (hysterical)
--Bethany Manley as the Spanish Doll--she really danced like a doll. You totally believed it. Incredible.
--David Tlaiye as the Nutcracker Prince
--The Snowflakes/Flowers--awesome!
--Emily Ramirez as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Her solo and pas de deux were just wonderful.
--Jaime Kotrba and James Pierce in the pas de deux of the Arabian Dance. This can be very boring and static if not done correctly. The innovative choreography and talent of the dancers made this a highlight of the night.
--The men who made up the Dragon--very cool.
The Nutcracker runs until Dec. 23 at the Ohio Theater. You can get tickets at the link I posted above.

Surburban snow...

So what did I do all day?
Go here.

Update: the Cheeseburger Hamburger Helper was really good!!! :) AS were the Snickerdoodles (which are wrapped in cookie tins, awaiting the meringues that will join them tomorrow)

Off to the Nutcracker!

New layout!

As you can see, I've changed my layout--time for something new round the bucket.
I'm going to try to keep the colors liturgical. :) We'll see how that goes.

More tree

More tree art:

1. "That what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown"--this ornament talks! Linus tells the Christmas story just like in the TV show.

2. Ariel (who also talks!)--my second favorite Disney movie.

3. Lucy goes through the Wardrobe (she's my favorite Narnia character)

4. A church with "O Come, All Ye Faithful" on the side--that's the first Christmas song I remember singing.

5. The Peanuts and Snoopy play "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". Mom got this for me--I love it!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas pics and countdown:

Gifts to give: Five
Gifts to buy: One
Cards to write: Um, a lot.
Gifts received: three
Edible gifts received: one (a huge, chocolate/caramel/nut covered apple was on my desk at work!)


Top to bottom:
--The S'mores nativity!
--The Tree. Note on the tree: I try to buy only ornaments that have some significance to me. So when I post pictures of the ornaments, I'll explain why I have them.
--Remy from Ratatouille, since I loved that movie, love Pixar and love to cook.
--The Grinch--a childhood favorite. (Dad was the Grinch, Bryan was Max, and I was Cindy Lou Who. Mel wasn't born yet when we did this.)
--Rudolph and the Misfit Toys--I love this Christmas special and can still sing all the songs (ha!) next to Glinda the Good Witch. I LOVE The Wizard of Oz. When I was a little kid I watched it constantly. I bought this last year, firstly because I loved the movie and secondly, I had seen Wicked in Chicago with some of my friends that year to celebrate my first t/x anniversary. In the first scene of the musical, Glinda descends upon the Ozians in a big bubble contraption. :) (I also bought this for Milia, since she went with me on the trip).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Yummy food!

Tomorrow is St. Lucia's day, and in her honor, I have made St. Lucia buns.
My family loves these. Try them, if you've got a few hours to kill (since they involve two risings).

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

More shopping...

For those on your list that you don't know who to buy for, pretty soaps are always great. And the Cloister Gift Shoppe, of the Dominican Nuns in NJ, do a great job! I just ordered their Cloister Garden, Natale (Christmas soap) and Oatmeal soaps to give out as gifts.


For Christmas, I obviously get a lot of books. Here's what I've gotten/read so far:

--Ann Tyler, Digging to America (from Mel): the title is a take off on the idea of kids "digging to China." One of the little girls in the book asks her grandfather is kids in China "dig to America."
The story follows two couples, Bitsy and Brad Donaldson and Sami and Ramia (I think that's her name, anyway), who have each adopted a little girl from Korea. Sami and Ramia are Iranian immigrants (Sami was born in America, while his wife immigrated in high school), while the Donaldsons are born and bred Baltimore residents. The novel chronicles the families' interconnections, their very different child rearing approaches, and how they interact as couples and with their families.
Tyler does an excellent job demonstrating the family dynamics and presents many varied, rich characters for our dissection. The author of Back When We Were Grown-ups and The Accidental Tourist does another great job here.

--Charles J. Shields, Mockingbird: (bought at the Book Loft): A biography (published last year) about the life of reclusive writer Nelle Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird and friend of Truman Capote (who did a great deal of unacknowledged work on his most famous work, In Cold Blood). The biography is richly detailed, especially considering that Lee wasn't interviewd for it, and covers her live in Monroeville, her family background, her time at college, her work on In Cold Blood, time in New York City, the writing of Mockingbird and the film adaptation, and her life after the novel. A good read, with a few pictures, and paints a very nice picture of the witty, solitary Lee.

--The Daring Book for Girls(Bubby got me this): This is awesome! You MUST buy this book if you are a girl, have girls, know girls...whatever! It covers basic things like how to change a tire and first aid, as well as basic sports rules (basketball, etc.), history (a list of female queens/PMs, etc.), royalty, and other great things. It is simply awesome!

No tent-pitching--yet

So I go to see Todd today and everything is "stable", so I just need to give the antibiotics time to work. OK sure. Todd "suggested" I take a few days off so that my body can just do what it wants, which right now mostly involves sleeping. (and not eating, surprisingly--but I'll take it!) So that's what I'm doing for the next few days.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Todd--again, and then...not

OK so I called clinic on Friday asking if my symptoms were supposed to be getting better after a week on the two-drugs combo. Megan said that they might take awhile--give it the weekend and then call back.
So I called back today. Apparently Dr. A wants to see me tomorrow. Oh. The. Joy! So we'll see what happens. I'm preparing both for work (we have session tomorrow, the second to last of this year) and a bronch, because that may be in the offering, and if it is I usually end up staying. So I'll want to pack some stuff. (Minimally, anyway)
Sigh. I want this figured out--Christmas is too close for me to be pitching a tent in the Children's lobby!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

weekend update

What I Did This Weekend:

--Made two batches of Peppermint Meringues (go here--hat tip to Danielle! )

--Made biscotti for gifting purposes

--did 11--count 'em, 11--scrapbook pages! NYC, Tiff's birthday, and the Parish Picnic are now documented.

--Read Innocent Traitor and Light a Penny Candle (I'll try to get bookshelves up ASAP) and am now reading The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen.

--Went to Joann's (twice!)--it's insane!

--Made a Christmas gift for a certain girl I baby-sit for. :) :)

--Bought Nutcracker tickets for next weekend

--Went to my Bon Vie Christmas Party--Richelle, Brian, Shirley, Rob, Alex, Sarah and Branden. Lots of fun with yummy profiteroles!

--Found out Liz is having a baby!!! Yay Liz and Grant!!! :)

--Napped. :)

--Exchanged Christmas gifts with Bubby and Melly. :)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Christmas meme!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Paper, even though I am a rather amateur wrapper.

2. Real tree or artificial? Fake.

3. When do you put up the tree? Thanksgiving.

4. When do you take the tree down? Epiphany. When the Christmas season is "over".

5. Do you like eggnog? Um....haven't had enough to make a call.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? The Care Bear kitchen set. I was about five and I opened all my gifts, and no kitchen set. We have photos of me looking very bereft. But then,lo and behold, Santa had left in in the basement! Tricky old guy. :) And we still have parts of it, so it was a very durable gift indeed.

7. Do you have a Nativity scene? Yes. They're "S'mores" figurines--as in, the baby Jesus is a marshmallow in a graham cracker manager with a chocolate blanket. It's super cute, but probably not the most reverent. :)

8. Hardest person to buy for? My mom.

9. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I always receive good stuff. :)

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? REAL CHRISTMAS CARDS, i.e., snail mail. And they go to just about everyone I know.

11. Favorite Christmas Movie? How the Grinch Stole Christmas (both cartoon and live action) and A Christmas Story.

12. When do you start shopping for Christmas? August.

13. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Nope

14. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Peppermint bark and Mom's Christmas breakfast--sausage and cinnamon rolls. Mmmmmm.

15. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Color!

16. Favorite Christmas song: "O Holy Night", "O Come, All Ye Faithful"

17. Travel at Christmas or stay home? We stay at home for Christmas day proper now; when I was little we used to have CHristmas at home early (it was AWESOME) then spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Pittsburgh with relatives. Fantastic. Now Mom's family all comes down here the 27th and we take over a hotel. :)

18. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer. Dasher, Dancer, PRancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzer, Rudolph. :)

19. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel.

20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Morning.

21. Most annoying thing about this time of year? People who try to eliminate Christmas carols, creches, etc. from every single place on Earth other than a Church. LET'S GET REAL!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Pet peeve--grammar

OK wonky grammar post ahead:

"Alter"--to change. "I altered the dress to fit my sister."
"Altar"--the "table" in a church. The place where the Eucharist is consecrated. Whatever you want to call it. "The servers approached the priest, who was at the altar."


PS--I would also like to add that one is a verb, the other a noun. So they are REALLY not interchangeable. You cannot get up and "altar", as my seventh grade English teacher would say. You can, however, get up and "alter" something.


So many of my friends are having babies in the spring! It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. :)

And, to those having girls, Emily is a great name. Really fantastic. :) :)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Christmas prep

Is rapidly reaching conclusion. Only three more presents to buy! :) :)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Todd redux

Another day, another Todd visit--
--PFTs: Some up, some down.
--NiOx: up, to about 19. This measures inflammation, so you don't want it to be up.
--CXR: same.
--CT scan: confirmed findings of CXR.

Results: New antibiotic (minocycline) added to levoquin since the bug I am apparently growing is tricky so we'll hit it with two things. Ha!

Next up: Appt. next Monday to see if these drugs are doing their job.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

varia and Todd tomorrow!

--YAY PITT! (OK had to say that again)

--My kitchen is a disaster. In the past 36 hours I have made a Coca-Cola cake for my Choir potluck (last night) and I just finished making cookies for the Parish Counil potluck (tomorrow night) an hour ago. Whew. My sugar stores are severely depleted.

--On the plus side, I did some digging in my cabinets (looking for cream of tartar, which was on the spice rack, where it should be--DUH Emily) and I found three bottles of cooking wine, two containers of bread crumbs, a whole pound of confectioner's sugar and a bunch of unsweetened/bittersweet chocolate. Also two boxes of chicken stock and enough pasta to last me until at least February. So I don't need to go shopping for awhile now.

--Why can't the Steelers just go ahead and win a game? Why must they torture me so?? Why?!

--Happy New Year if you're Catholic--First Sunday of Advent!

--Todd tomorrow--eval to see how the levoquin is working. Gotta tell you, I'm not really feeling it. Oh well. Pains in the right lower lobe, where there were "shadows" on Thursday, when I wasn't feeling pain there. If I'm feeling pain there now, I can't imagine that's a really happy thing. Maggie (the boss) Is aware of the doc appt. so at least I've got work covered. And I'm putting all my Parish Council stuff, including the cookies, in the car tomorrow so that if I get bronched I am prepared. Whew.

--I love my Christmas tree. :) :)


if Kansas City could beat Cleveland... :) :)

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Pitt beat WVU!!!!!!!

Friday, November 30, 2007

More Todd stuff

So I called clinic this AM and the plan is for me to come in on Monday for the full work-up--PFTs, CXR, labs, etc. We will look at the data (since Todd is an ultimate "numbers guy") and see what's happening. Potential for bronch is there, with, of course, crappy timing, because Monday is the Parish Council potluck, the Advent evening of reflection, and then the Parish Council meeting proper, at which I am presenting constitutional amendments. Oh well.

Day 2 of the levoquin....not a whole lot of change thus far. Current sats (as in, about 30 seconds old) are 98, which is better than yesterday, but anything about 95% is considered OK. So we'll see...

SOHC: clarification on SCHIP

OK, yeah this is sort of old and the battle is over (for now), but here is some clarification:

the War in Iraq, like all wars, will one day end. Therefore, expenditures for the war will end.

SCHIP is an entitlement. And, as we know, entitlements never end. Therefore, we will be paying for SCHIP long, long after the Iraq war is over.

Thank you.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Book Club reminder!

The Nutmeg online book club is meeting again in January, and I'm hosting--right here!
The book is:

In This House of Brede

Come join us! January 21!

Todd stuff

Eh an interesting visit.
PFTs down a bit--from 59 to like 56 or so. Or 55. I forget. NiOx the same. The DLCO (also known as the "hold your breath for 10 seconds" test) was actually up. Sats at 97%, which for me is lower than normal.

So we had the battle of the numbers--there's something on the lower right lobe in my X-ray, but that's not where the new chest pain is. The chest pain is in the upper left lobe (started last night during choir) and the left side. So I'm all confused. AS is Todd, I think. I am supposed to call tomorrow first thing and let them know what's going on, and then we may bronch, we may not. If no bronch I come in Monday morning to see how the newly-started levoquin is doing. (I took my first dose tonight)

Oh the joy of the pre-winter season and transplants...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Book club date!

Monday, January 21--In This House of Brede.
Read it.
Be here!! :)
Link in the side bar.

Visiting w/ Todd

Time with Todd tomorrow--I'll let you know how it goes!
The normal stuff is on tap--blood, CXR, PFTs, NIOX, etc. I will also be meeting the dietician and probably Megan, our new transplant nurse/coordinator. Woohoo!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Those of you that pray, send some up for me...
Go here for more...

God must be crazy....

I just left a message at a convent regarding a vocations retreat.
Either God is nuts, or I'm nuts, or a combination of both.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

caption: Courtney puts her head on the block for Paige's amusement, Turkey Day '05
I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!
I am about to hit the road to go to Pittsburgh to eat with the Clan--will be back on Saturday! And, my tree is up, so pics to come. :)
(Oh, and finished both blankets. Go me!)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Craftiness of Christmas

My cousin Julie is having twin girls in the spring, so in their honor I have decided to make them fleece blankets for Christmas. Well, or their birthdays. Whatever. :) Anyway, Julie will get them for Christmas.
And yes, the Grinch and Max are on the left. :)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

It's the time...

For this

CI update

I went to see Beth the audiologist on Thursday and we played with the CI a little bit (I need to name that buddy). We tightened the magnet--every time I went to move my hair with my hand, or use the phone, the CI would fall off--adjusted the settings of the MAP (sound thresholds) and also upped the sound frequency from 900 mHz to 1200 mHz, meaning sound comes faster and is processed faster. This makes the sound a bit crisper, and I'm liking it so far. I don't have to go back until May, unless I have problems, and May is the 1 year mark for the installation of the CI, so I'm happy about that. :)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Go me!

I would just like to say I have done Yoga every day since last Friday. I have also done actual cardio exercise.
These are big accomplishments. I'm happy. :) :)


The Nutmeg online book club is meeting again in January, and I'm hosting--right here!
The book is:

In This House of Brede

Come join us! Date TBD.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Responsibility much?

This story from USA Today got me thinking.
I'm diabetic, as we know, a development post-transplant due to lovely transplant drugs. Woohoo!No, it is not the Biggest Thrill in my life to poke myself with needles, but it doesn't hurt, it's not The End of the World, and I can Deal With It.
But then you've got people like the ones in this article, and I start thinking, 'how about a little personal responsibility, here?'
If you're a kid (or an adult) and you've got Type 1 diabetes, there's not a whole lot you can do to prevent it. It just happens. Type II, while it may just "happen", also is dependent on lifestyle factors. And I will admit, that before tx, I was not really into exercise. I knew it was beneficial. I knew it would help my PFTs, etc. But I had such a hard time keeping on weight that the idea of exercising, which would cause me to lose weight (since I never really had an appetite, ever), didn't make sense to me. So I fought it. Yes, bad patient Emily.
But when the mom says:
Zarate encourages Richard to take care of himself, but "trying to get him to eat vegetables takes an act of God and Congress."

Nor is he much for sports. "He's a video-game nut. I say, 'You want to sign up for basketball?' He'll say no." Her sister tries to get him to walk around the apartment building, "and he complains the whole time."

I want to scream, DON'T BUY THEM! You are the parent! You have the control of the money here! If the kid can't play them, then he has no choice but to walk or go outside or whatever. I guess he could just lump around and whine, but that would get old, real fast, wouldn't it? And as for food--don't buy junk! If you only buy healthy stuff, he'll HAVE TO EAT IT, or go hungry, and no kid will go hungry. Come on!

Whatever happened to taking responsibility for our health choices? Huh?

Monday, November 12, 2007


Yesterday's game sure was a squeaker! But we prevailed. :)

Got the day off, so:
--Christmas shopping
--music practice
--prep for Parish Council meeting
--lunch w/ the Bubby
--L&A--go here

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Steelers-Browns rivalry is back - Sports

Steelers-Browns rivalry is back - Sports

The Little Bro wrote this--so read it and enjoy!
Dream Mom: The Birthdays

Te above post from Dream Mom, about celebrating her son's birthdays, sort of got me thinking. Let me share. :)

She talks about the gratitude you feel when your chronically ill/disabled kid celebrates a birthday, because you got one more year with them. But you also mourn the loss of things that won't happen, and look back on the good things that have occurred. Her son just turned 16, and he's not learning to drive; he's finally sitting in the front seat of the car, because that's where it's easiest to place him.

So I started thinking about my life and the things I've accomplished that most people take for granted, but, at some point, we're supposed to happen, or were in question. Or just normal things that, when you've got a terminal disease, may or may not happen:

1) I got my driver's license
2) I got my first kiss
3) I was engaged to be married, so I've been in love (twice....I think. The in love part, not the engaged part)
4) I graduated from high school
5) I graduated from college--on time! (double major, thank you very much)
6) I have my own apartment
7) I have a real job (with insurance!)
8) I went to prom (sans date, both times, but oh well)
9) I've traveled without my parents :)
10) I'm still here (that counts, right? ha)
11) I can function independent of my parents
12) I can communicate--my mind wasn't affected my CF or any of the other crazy things I've had, and when you read about some kids and their illnesses, believe me, this is a big point.
13) I made fantastic friends
14) I can climb a flight of stairs, yo!

Course those are just off the top of my head. And, of course, there are things I will probably never do--collect Social Security (well, OK, no one in my generation might), join AARP,get married, have kids (my own, biological children). Now, of course, I still want to get married. I haven't become that jaded. And I love children. I would love to have my own. But part of having health issues your entire life is becoming reconcilled to the things that you won't get, or can't have, etc.

Does that make it better? No. But you do have to make peace with it, and be happy for what you can do, and what you have.

This post also reminded me of why I don't understand people who hate celebrating birthdays. You're alive! You're still here! I think we should celebrate that! So many people don't want to get older. I want to hit 30. I want to have an actual mid life crisis at, um, midlife. I want to watch my brother and sister get married and have babies (well, Mel have them, anyway...Bubby's wife'll do it for him. Ha). Every birthday is a big party; every day should be a big party! We're still here! We have another chance to enjoy the great things life has given us, whether it's a coffee break with our officemates or dinner with our friends or a funny movie. Or even finding a good parking space.

So, in the words of Pollyanna's minister, let's "take a little time to enjoy the sunshine. And...think about who's sending it down to you."

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Big Stone Gap pasta

Based on a recipe found in Home to Big Stone Gap

I lb. medium shells
1 lb. frozen or fresh sweet peas
4 oz pancetta or sliced ham
1 pt. heavy cream
butter (about 2 tbsp)
3 garlic cloves

Heat pasta in salted water until al dente. While the pasta cooks, place butter in a deep skillet to melt. Add crushed, minced garlic, pancetta and cream. Keep on low heat. Add the peas to the pasta just before the pasta is done. Drain pasta mixture. Add to the sauce in skillet--toss. Plate and top with grated parmeasan cheese.

NOTE: if you like a thicker sauce, add more cream and butter. :)

Yeah I'm here....

Sorry I've been AWOL lately...a lot going on. I've been working on the novel so go here to see what's going on in that department.

Dr. A visit on M--all is well. Numbers are all good, so I don't have to go back until after Thanksgiving, huzzah! I also saw Dr. Hardin, my endocrinologist, and we're messing with my insulin doses a bit, so that's a work in progress. Always is. Oh well. The diet thing can be hard to follow--healthy things, like fruit, or the 100% juice stuff I like, are often high in carbs. But then unhealthy stuff is not. So what am I supposed to do here? No idea.

Been doing a lot of reading, including the "Big Stone Gap" book series, which are phenomenal (Catholic Italian woman living in the mountains of Virginia, with musicals! And Italian recipes!). There are four books in the series, and they are all worth reading. I am trying the pasta recipe from "Return to Big Stone Gap" for lunch today, and if it's good I'll post it. Mmmm. Pasta. (And since it's about 50 degrees here, a nice pasta sounds really good.)
I also bought Edith Wharton's "Summer" so I'll start that today, too, before the Pats/Colts game (which, really, is ideal for me, as a Steelers fan, because one of these teams has to lose. A great situation.)

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Karen, the best t/x nurse in the WORLD, is having a baby!!!
Congratulations to her and Steve!

Karen and I, Christmas 2005, at her house in German Village (she lives in CA now, sob!)--I'm almost 5 months post-tx

Popcorn: Meet the Robinsons

Last night I began working through my massive DVD pile, and Meet the Robinsons, the newest Disney opus, was on the top. I had wanted to see this in the spring when it was in theaters but that was pre-CI, and animated movies really didn't work so well (the characters' mouths often bear NO resemblance to words they are saying), so I waited for the DVD.

I am glad I finally saw this--it is awesome. Truly awesome. I liked it better than The Incredibles, and I really liked that one. This is up there with my top 5 favorite Disney movies, bar none.

The movie tells the story of a 12 year old boy named Lewis who was left at an orphanage as a baby. He spends most of his time creating inventions, which to the dismay of his roommate, Goob, and the potential parents that come to meet him (his inventions have a way of backfiring on him at inopportune moments).

Lewis's newest invention is the Memory Scanner--a device that allows you to "see what you've forgotten." He's hoping the scanner will help him recover the memory of his mother, who left him at the orphanage. Alas, at the fair, the machine is sabotaged and doesn't work.

Enter Wilbur, a kid from the future, who tells him that A Man In A Bowler Hat (yes, that is the character's name) is after Lewis's invention. Lewis is a bit skeptical that Wilbur is, indeed, from the future, so Wilbur takes him there. In the process, they break the time machine that Wilbur's dad invented. So now they have a broken time machine, the Bowler Hat Guy has the other one AND Lewis's invention, and there's going to be some problems with the space-time continuum (as Wilbur's robot buddy points out). So Wilbur has to get Lewis to fix the time machine (without anyone in his family finding out Wilbur took it in the first place, or that Lewis is from the past), get back to the Science Fair, get the Scanner, and stop Bowler Hat guy's evil plans (whatever they may be). Whew.

Wilbur's family, the Robinsons of the title, are, well, weird. The house has singing frogs, some sort of octopus as a butler, and twin cousins that live in flowerpots. Of course, Lewis meets the entire family, and they do discover that he is from the past. So what now? And why does the Bowler Hat guy want Lewis's machine anyway?

I'm going to leave it there, because all these questions are answered much better in the film. :) Great dialogue, funny characters, and best of all, it's a really sweet movie. I absolutely loved the ending. If you haven't seen this, get thee to a video store or Best Buy and pick it up.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

New post!

Over here.

Bookshelf: Left to Tell

Quick Take: A New addition to my book Hall of Fame, and the first installment of Nutmeg's online book club! This amazing story of a young Rwandan woman's faith-filled survival of the 1994 April genocide will blow your mind and deepen your faith all at the same time.

Left to Tell: Finding God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, by Immaculee Ilibagiza (with Steve Irwin)

"I heard the killers call my name."

That is the first line of a harrowing, uplifting and painful autobiography of Immaculee, a young woman who was a college student home for Easter break when the horrific genocide of April 1994 began in Rwanda. She had grown up the third of four children, and the only girl, with two devoutly Catholic parents who passed their faith onto their children, as well as the belief that all people all God's children, and worthy of respect and love. She paints vivid pictures of her brothers Aimable, Damascene (the brother she was closest to), and her younger brother Vianney. Immaculee had a happy childhood, and she excelled in her schoolwork.
She did not, initially, understand the differences between Tutsi and Hutu that would so change her life. Her first encounter with ethnicity was at the age of 10, when she attended school with older children. Her teacher had a "tribal roll call " (16), and Immculee was dismissed from school for not knowing her ethnicity. The next day, her teacher told her stand up when he called "Tutsi." So she did--and she sawe the horrible impact this emphasis on ethnicity would have first-hand.

As the genocide began in April of '94, she tries to stay at home with her family; hundreds of Tutsis came to the family's property to ask Immaculee's father for help. A few days later, Immaculee was sent to the home of Pastor Murinzi (57), who was friends with Immaculee's father. While Vianney and Damascene eventually joined her, they were only permitted to stay one day. Immaculee, however, would wait out the genocide with five other women for 91 days.

How did she survive?
"I realized that my battle to survive this war would have to be fought inside of me. Everything strong and good in me--my faith, hope and courage--was vuleranble to the dark energy. If I lost my faith, I knew that I wouldn't be able to survive. I could rely only on God to help me fight." (80)

Taking the rosary her father had given her before she left the house, Immaculee immersed herself in prayer all day. When the Hutu killing squads surrounded the house, she prayed even harder. And she learned to pray for forgiveness for the killers.

Her profound faith left a deep impact on me. In fact, as soon as I finished the book, I began it again, but slower this timer, in order to fully absorb the profound insights she had about the nature of prayer, faith and total surrender to God. She knew that only God and His will would help her survive, and that He would give her the strength to handle whatever obstacles she would face during her incredible trials.

I was also moved to tears by the example of her brother, Damascene. (WARNING: HEre be spoilers!) Aimable was in another country, at school, during the genocide, but the rest of Immaculee's family was separated throughout Rwanda as they struggled to survive. Immaculee writes about how Damascene was always her defender, protector, and best friend. Their bond was almost more than brother and sister--it was deeply spiritual.

When Immaculee finds out her brother was killed, she is bereft. But he had written her one last letter:

May 6, 1994
Dear [Dad, Mo, Vianney, and] Immaculee,
It has been nearly a month since we were separated, and we are all living a nightmare. Besides what the circumstances suggest, I believe that a tribe can exterminate another tribe only if it's God's will; maybe out lives are the price that must be paid for Rwanda's salvation. I am only certain about one things: we will meet again--there is no doubt in my mind.
I'm going to try to get out of the country, but I don't know if I'll make it. If they kill me along the way, you shouldn't worry about me; I have prayed enough...I am prepared for death. If I do manage to make it out of Rwanda, I will contact you as soon as the peace returns. Bonn will tell you everything that has happened to me...
Immaculee, I beg you to be strong> I've just heard that Mom, Dad, and Vianney have been killed. I will be in contact with you.
Big hugs and kisses!
Your brother, who loves you very much!

The chapter continues with the acocunt of Damascene's death. After reading it, my first thought was--this young man was a Saint. His life and death should be up for Canonization in Rome. For men like him are certainly in Heaven.

Immaculee's strength, faith and determination are astounding. This book deepened my faith and demonstrates how we can surrender to God's will in even the most difficult circumstances. Immaculee and her family are an inspiration to all of us.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Wow I seriously need to do a bookshelf and popcorn update! Wow! I have been reading/watching movies like a fiend!

Upcoming, then:
--Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelly
--Left to Tell (about the Rwandan Holocaust)
--The Gift, Richard Paul Evans
--The Choice, Nicholas Sparks
--Eugene Onegin, Alexander Pushkin
--The Children of Henry VIII
--Elizabeth and Mary

--The Jungle Book
--Knocked Up (yes, yes I know! But I really liked it!)

Whew. OK. These are coming, I promise. Just not today...

Recipe: A Divinely Simple Cake

I love to bake. Cook. Whatever. :) Food is my friend.
So over the weekend< I went up to Sur La Table, and purchased, amongst other kitchen gadgetry, the book Heirloom Baking With the Bass Sisters.
The first recipe I made was Esther Pullman and Mary Brinkman's Irish Sponge Cake.
But this is so much more than a sponge cake. So, so much more.
First of all, it contains four ingredients. Yup--four. It is simple to assemble, bakes for 30-35 minutes (I needed 35) and is, hands down, one of the lightest, most scrumptious cakes I have ever tasted. You MUST try this.

The recipe:
1 1/4 c. sugar, divided
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. cake flour (I used King Arthur All-Purpose and that worked fine)

NOTE: I have a KitchenAid artisan stand mixer. It is a godsend for this recipe. I have noted the various beating levels in parentheses when applicable.

1. Set the oven rack in the middle position. Prehear the oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-in (mine was 9, also OK) Bundt pan with vegetable spray (my note: do this REALLY well). Dust the sides and the bottom of pan with three (3) tablespoons of the sugar.

2. Beat the egg yolks in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add 1/2 c. of sugar and beat until thick, about 5 minutes.

3. Place egg whites in another bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. (If you don't have two bowls, be sure to clean out the bowl VERY WELL and dry it thoroughly before doing this next step) Beat until stiff (level 6). Add 1/2 c. of sugar and beat again (level 4) until sugar is incorporated.

4. Add egg yolks to egg whites. Add vanilla and continue beating with the paddle attachment at medium speed (4) until combined. Fold in the cake flour.

5. Pour batter into pan. Sprinkle remaining tablespoon sugar on top of batter. bake 30 minutes, or until tested inserted in middle comes out clean. Cake should have a nice yellow color. Place on rack to cool. When completely cool, invert onto plate. Slice with sawing motion. Store under cake dome or loosely wrapped in wax paper at room temperature.

And more SOHC--about those wait times...

Corner again:

Anticipation [John Hood]

The Fraser Institute just published its latest survey of average waiting times for non-emergency surgery and other major procedures in the Medical Paradise of the North. The new figure is 18.3 weeks from the time a patient is referred to a specialist until the completion of the procedure. That's the long wait since Fraser began studying the issue 17 years ago.

Naturally, defenders of socialized health insurance quibble with Fraser's methodology and blame factors other than the obvious. More here.


From the Corner:

S-CHIP May Not Be a Losing Issue for Republicans [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

From USA Today:

WASHINGTON — A majority of Americans trust Democrats to handle the issue of children's health insurance more than President Bush, but they agree with the president that government aid should be targeted to low-income families, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows.
Two days before the Democratic-controlled House attempts to override Bush's veto of a five-year, $35 billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the poll shows that opinions on the issue are mixed.

Fifty-two percent of respondents say they have more confidence in Democrats to deal with the issue, compared with 32% for Bush.

Slim majorities back two positions at the core of the president's opposition to the expansion:

POLL RESULTS: Children's health insurance issue

• 52% agree with Bush that most benefits should go to children in families earning less than 200% of the federal poverty level — about $41,000 for a family of four. Only 40% say benefits should go to families earning up to $62,000, as the bill written by Democrats and some Republicans would allow.

• 55% are very or somewhat concerned that the program would create an incentive for families to drop private insurance. Bush and Republican opponents have called that a step toward government-run health care.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Yup, I am :)

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
Literate Good Citizen
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Time with Todd :)

Another clinci visit today--Julie was out, so it was just Todd and I. PFTs are good--61 and 57, respectively, so we are almost back to baseline. I am still doing the aerosol treatments for like two more weeks. I have to go back next week for another follow-up, but if that's good then we can start moving the appointment dates back (woohoo!).

AND we're getting a new nurse coordinator, huzzah! Her name is Megan and that's all I know so far. But it'll be nice to have another nurse to help out Julie and Co.

Dr. A is also a Red Sox fan (he's from Boston), so I told him I would covertly root for them. Everyone else in the state is rooting for the Indians, obviously. :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

For the love of mike...

OK, yes, we know I am against socialized health care and all that. But that DOES NOT mean that I think our system is perfect.
oh no.
For example, most insurance companies don't cover hearing aids. That's right. And they go for about $1,500 a piece, meaning you're shelling out approximately $3,000 for these babies. Apparently insurance companies think you don't need to hear. Yet glasses and dental work are covered by (usually separate) insurance plans.
I think needing to hear is just as important as being able to see, don't you? My CI was covered, but my hearing aids weren't. And then for the CI, we had to proveI needed one before they'd consent. Because, you know, the idea of surgery involving my head is something I like to do just for kicks.

Oh, Canada...

Yup, this is the kind of health care we want!

Canada's Expectant Moms Heading to U.S. to Deliver

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

By Sara Bonisteel

Mothers in British Columbia are having a baby boom, but it's the United States that has to deliver, and that has some proud Canadians blasting their highly touted government healthcare system.

"I'm a born-bred Canadian, as well as my daughter and son, and I'm ashamed," Jill Irvine told FOX News. Irvine's daughter, Carri Ash, is one of at least 40 mothers or their babies who've been airlifted from British Columbia to the U.S. this year because Canadian hospitals didn't have room for the preemies in their neonatal units.

"It's a big number and bigger than the previous capacity of the system to deal with it," said Adrian Dix, a British Columbia legislator, told "So when that happens, you can't have a waiting list for a mother having the baby. She just has the baby.

The mothers have been flown to hospitals in Seattle, Everett, Wash., and Spokane, Wash., to receive treatment, as well as hospitals in the neighboring province of Alberta, Dix said. Three mothers were airlifted in the first weekend of October alone, including Carri Ash.

"I just want to go home and see my kids," she said from her Seattle hospital bed. "I think it's stupid I have to be here."

Canada's socialized health care system, hailed as a model by Michael Moore in his documentary, "Sicko," is hurting, government officials admit, citing not enough money for more equipment and staff to handle high risk births.

Sarah Plank, a spokeswoman for the British Columbia Ministry of Health, said a spike in high risk and premature births coupled with the lack of trained nurses prompted the surge in mothers heading across the border for better care.

"The number of transfers in previous years has been quite low," Plank told "Before this recent spike we went for more than a year with no transfers to the U.S., so this is something that is happening in other provinces as well."

Critics say these border crossings highlight the dangers of a government-run health care system.

"The Canadian healthcare system has used the United States as a safety net for years," said Michael Turner of the Cato Institute. "In fact, overall about one out of every seven Canadian physicians sends someone to the United States every year for treatment."

Neonatal intensive care units in Alberta and Ontario have also been stretched to capacity, she said.

The cost of these airlifts and treatments, paid to U.S. hospitals by the province under Canada's universal health care system, runs upwards of $1,000 a child.

"We clearly want to see more capacity built in the Canadian system because it’s also expensive for taxpayers here to send people out of the country," Dix said.

The surge could be due to women giving birth later in life, and passport restrictions and family separation adds to the stress.

"I think it’s reasonable to think that this is a trend that would continue and we have to prepare for it and increase the number of beds to deal with perhaps the new reality of the number of premature babies and newborns needing a higher level of care in Canada," Dix said.

British Columbia has added more neonatal beds and increased funding for specialized nurse training, Plank said.

"There is an identified need for some additional capacity just due to population growth and that sort of thing and that is actively being implemented," she said.

FOX News' Dan Springer contributed to this report.


From Corner:

I tremble to return to the subject of the Frost family, if only because so many e-mailers in the 72 hours seem to confuse a debate on health care with an analysis of my sexual inadequacy and the accommodational capacity of my posterior. But here's my, er, bottom line: I am opposed in general to government entitlements; and, insofar as we have to have them, I prefer them to be at state level, which at least injects an element of competition and choice into the system; and, insofar as we have to have state entitlements, they should be finely targeted and properly means-tested.

The Frosts will be out of the news in a day or two but the government program they're demanding will be forever. So, given that Nancy Pelosi held them up as emblematic of "the type of working-poor Americans that the program was intended to help", it's entirely appropriate to consider how emblematic they are. Both The Baltimore Sun and The New York Times have stories on the Frosts this morning, and the interesting point is the matter of whether they do, in any useful sense, represent the "working poor":

Mr. Frost works intermittently in woodworking and as a welder, while Mrs. Frost has a part-time job at a firm that provides services to publishers of medical journals.

Mr Frost works "intermittently". The unemployment rate in the Baltimore metropolitan area is four-percent. Perhaps he chooses to work "intermittently," just as he chooses to send his children to private school, and chooses to live in a 3,000-square-foot home. That's what free-born citizens in democratic societies do: choose. Sometimes those choices work out, and sometimes they don't. And, when they don't and catastrophe ensues, it's appropriate that the state should provide a safety net. But it should be a safety net of last resort, and it's far from clear that it is in this case.

Speaking of choices, young Graeme Frost demands President Bush should choose between Iraq and government health care. I'm not persuaded the Frost family are the best judges of the nation's choices. Middle-class entitlement addiction, as the French President and Prime Minister have recently made plain, is unsustainable even in the wealthiest societies. The Frosts are entitled to make their choices. The President has to choose the broader interest.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

SOHC: SCHIP, again.

Brother, can you spare a CHIP? [Mark Steyn]

This would seem to be a fairly typical media trajectory. The Democrats sign up a sick kid to read their Saturday morning radio address. As Paul Krugman has observed, Bill Kristol, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of us heartless bastards on the right were no doubt too busy laughing to pay attention. But the respectable media were very taken by it:

President Bush, are you smarter than a seventh-grader?

Apparently not. Graeme Frost of Baltimore is 12 years old, a seventh-grader at the Park School, and he understands why children need health care and their parents need help paying for it. He explained it during a rebuttal to the president's Saturday radio address. Yes, we know, Senate staffers wrote the speech for Graeme. That doesn't take away from the message. Does anyone really think President Bush writes his own material?

Of course not. And nor does The Baltimore Sun, which did a nice fluffy soft-focus story typing out the Dems' press release and not querying a word:

Bonnie Frost works for a medical publishing firm; her husband, Halsey, is a woodworker. They are raising their four children on combined income of about $45,000 a year. Neither gets health insurance through work.

If it ever occurred to Matthew Hay Brown, the Sun's "reporter", to look into just what kind of "woodworking" Mr Frost did, he managed to suppress the urge.

"icwhatudo" at Free Republic, however, showed rather more curiosity than the professional reporter paid to investigate the story and did a bit of Googling. Mr Frost, the "woodworker", owns his own design company and the commercial property it operates from, part of which space he also rents out; they have a 3,000-sq-ft home on a street where a 2,000-sq-ft home recently sold for half a million dollars; he was able to afford to send two children simultaneously to a $20,000-a-year private school; his father and grandfather were successful New York designers and architects; etc. This is apparently the new definition of "working families":

Had it not been for a federal health insurance program tailored for working families such as hers - ones lacking the income to purchase private health insurance - Frost is certain that she and her husband would be buried under a mound of unpaid medical bills... She and her husband have priced private health insurance, but they say it would cost them more per month than their mortgage - about $1,200 a month. Neither parent has health insurance through work.

Insureblog, also demonstrating more journalistic initiative than Mr Hay Brown, checked out that last bit:

A check of a quote engine for zip code 21250 (Baltimore) finds a plan for $641 with a $0 deductible and $20 doc copays.

Adding a deductible of $750 (does not apply to doc visits) drops the premium to $452. That's almost a third of the price quoted in the article. Doesn't anyone bother to check the facts?

But who needs facts when you've got the human-interest angle sewn up?

Bonnie Frost still can't drive down the road where the accident occurred...

Bad things happen to good people, and they cause financial problems and tough choices. But, if this is the face of the "needy" in America, then no-one is not needy. And, if everyone needs assistance from the federal government, so be it. But I don't think I want to drive down the road where Bonnie Frost wants to take us - because at the end of it there are no free-born citizens, just a nation where everyone is a ward of the state.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

"That messy love stuff"

OK so those of you who read regularly know that my love life is pretty much nonexistent. And most of the time, I'm OK with that.
But part of me often asks, is it because of me or because of things I cannot control?
To wit:
I would like to date someone for whom I do not have to explain My Entire Medical History during like the third date. It would be very nice to date someone who's known me awhile and therefore is aware of all the Medical Nuttiness that Is Me.
This creates the problem of (maybe understandably?) creating fear of attachment. (Which was the downfall of my last relationship. Sigh) Now I guess on some level I can get that. But then the rest of me doesn't. I can't help my situation anymore than I can change my skin color. It's part of me. And if you're in love, should it matter? No, I'm not saying let's be all Moulin Rouge! here and not be practical. There are, of course, real-life considerations (kids, etc.) that need to be discussed. But should fear dictate a relationship? To be totally blunt, we're all going to die at some point. None of us are immortal (at least, that I know of). Everybody gets something. It's the way life is. And if you love someone, then shouldn't you want to be with them no matter how much time they may or may not have? Or what's "wrong" with them?
Maybe I'm being too idealistic. But there are times when I really wish I was in a relationship, and I wonder how much of the fact that I'm not is due to Situations Beyond My Control. Or if it's just me (as in personality or whatever).
It also seems like guys w/CF, or lung transplants, have better luck getting married. I've seen a lot (well, OK, a fair amount) of married guys in the CF clinic. Not so much for the women.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I love drugs...

OK not so much.
Today the cashier in the cafeteria asked me if I was pregnant. Since I've LOST weight during this most recent IV bout, I was a little bit appalled.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I knew this already :)

You Are an Angel

A truly giving soul, you understand the spirit of Christmas.

I'm a gummi bear :)

Gummy Bears

You may be smooshie and taste unnatural, but you're so darn cute.

Monday, October 01, 2007

My patron saint

Today is the feast day of my Patron Saint, Therese of Lisieux. For my post on her, and some resources, go here.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Jane trivia time!

OK y'all who read Jane Austen books and never know when "Michaelmas" is?
It's today. As in Sept. 29th, the feast of St. Michael (and Raphael and Gabriel, but given that St. Michael is sort of the one who beat Satan in battle, the day gets named after him :).
So when Mrs. Bennett tells Mr. Bingley that she heard "he'd meant to give the place up entirely by Michaelmas," you now know what the heck she's talking about.
Don't worry. You'll thank me later. Now go watch Pride and Prejudice. :)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Benefits to IV drugs

There are some benefits to being on IV drugs that inhibit appetite and, therefore, your options outside the house:

--if you don't wear mascara for a few days, your lashes look REALLY GOOD when you finally put it on. :)

--People are always asking me how I take care of my skin. Honestly, genes and taking care of it (lotions and potions) are part of it, but I really think the other part is there are times when I go days, weeks, without putting anything on it. No make-up, nothing. I mean, when you're bonding with the toilet seat, how much make-up do you really need? Hello?

OK, so these are mostly cosmetic benefits. But they're something, right?
It is a beautiful day here, my stomach is sort of cooperating, so me and the parents are going to eat lunch and generally live outside the house. :) :)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fall rocks

At Branden's, September 1, for Tiffy's 26th (!) birthday...and the Buckeyes!

More ME!

OK you're sick of it, I know, but...
In case you want to read my letter for the transplant brochure, it is here
There is also video of moi...although I'm not sure what the video is. I think it's my bit for the telethon in'06.

In the news...annonymously :)

I made the news again...I know this is old hat by now, but still fun.
Children's is now Nationwide (as in the insurance company, which is based in Columbus, and whom my dad works for) Children's Hospital. So the Sunday Dispatch had a special "re-dedication" insert, which included a hospital time line.
Under 2005? "Children's performs its first lung transplant."

Yeah, that'd be me. :-D
Since I was in house, I showed it to Dr. A (who seemed less than impressed, hah) and Wedny, my nurse, who was also my nurse right after my transplant. So she and I reveled in our coolness for a bit. :) She was very big on eating the last time I had her. I told her that this is obviously not a problem now. She laughed. (In a good way. She was really hard-core about food...much like mom.)

It is NOT in my head!

There are many things in my head, but delusions of pain ain't one of them.
A lot of times when I get a lung infection, I get pain with it. In fact, pain is often a precursor to any data of infection showing up in PFTs, CXRs, etc (as it was this last time). So when it happens I pay attention to it.
Well some people that take care of me like to relegate it to a subconscious creation. This is usually phrased as, "are you anxious about anything? Worried?" or various other forms. It can also come as "wow you're having a lot of pain for this amount of infection."
I just think the anxiety question is about the dumbest one on the face of the planet. Well let's see. I'm having chest pain, usually very sharp, constant chest pain, if I'm making an issue about it. That usually means infection. That's not fun. That could lead to rejection. Also not fun. So yeah, I may have a bit to be worried about. But the worry is not CAUSING the pain. The pain's already there. Now, I'm sure that being physically uptight and anxious is not helping. Relaxation tapes, etc. like the ones Kathy makes me. And those help. But they help to an extent. And that's it.
Pain is real. It is not all in my little head, I'm not making it up because I want good drugs or need attention or whatever. If I'm having it, I would like people to pay attention to it. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Home again home again, jiggity-jig

And we're back...hopefully for longer than 36 hours.
But first!----HAPPY TWO YEAR, AMBER!!!! :) :) :) We are great! (Well, OK, you are great)

I got home around 3:30, I priest (Msgr. Funk) came to visit, which was great, because he's really nice. My stomach is still a bit out of it, but that's OK, too, I'll just go slowly. We're doing IV drug every 8 hours (not too bad) and then once a day levoquin (also not too bad), and I have a script for oral percocet (again, pretty good). Since I didn't sleep at all last night, I'm catching up on it today, and will be at the parents' house probably until Friday, until I get the IV system down. Not that it's hard, but you never know if something's going to go amiss, and if it does, I'd rather be here. :)
Also read Nicholas Sparks' new novel The Choice, today, which was really good, although I had no idea where the book was going until I hit the second part. But I really liked it--great characters and setting, as always in his books.
So back to the homefront, and all that that entails...
Oh, and my transplant buddy K (little heart t/x) was riding her tricycle in the hall way today!

Don't call me at 3 a.m...

OK so I'll blog instead...
Not much going on. Can't sleep so I thought I'd blog...
Nauseous a bit so I got a zofran dose around 2. At 6 I'm due for my next percocet.
Wonder if I should just stay awake for that.
Quiet on the floor, lots of babies, apparently, that need fed on schedule so they keep their weight up. It's amazing how much emphasis is always put on weight GAIN in a hospital. The idea of losing weight it really a foreign concept, at least on the floor I tend to hang out on.
CAught up on some email...even at 3:30 I'm thinking about work. Think that's a sign of something bad? If I had my journal I'd be writing in that, but all I've got it this.
Elizabeth is my nurse tonight and she is awesome. I think she's about my age, which is fun. I have come to the conclusion that nurses know more than doctors about 90% of the time. At least.
Oh! And today is Amber's TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!!! :-

"Don't call me at 3 AM"

OK so I'll blog instead...
Not much going on. Can't sleep so I thought I'd blog...
Nauseous a bit so I got a zofran dose around 2. At 6 I'm due for my next percocet.
Wonder if I should just stay awake for that.
Quiet on the floor, lots of babies, apparently, that need fed on schedule so they keep their weight up. It's amazing how much emphasis is always put on weight GAIN in a hospital. The idea of losing weight it really a foreign concept, at least on the floor I tend to hang out on.
CAught up on some email...even at 3:30 I'm thinking about work. Think that's a sign of something bad? If I had my journal I'd be writing in that, but all I've got it this.
Elizabeth is my nurse tonight and she is awesome. I think she's about my age, which is fun. I have come to the conclusion that nurses know more than doctors about 90% of the time. At least.
Oh! And today is Amber's TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!!! :-D

Monday, September 24, 2007

We're back!

Oh nback in a big way, here at The Resort...
Discharge on Friday, and felt OK. Spent the night at my parents--well most of it--before driving back to my apartment. Sat. was spent relaxing, napping and trying to work off the drug side effects from Thurs./Fri. I made a coffee cake, did a little bit of cleaning (as in throwing away old mail), organized some books, and watched Season 3 of Desperate Housewives. Since I had to sing 8:30 I went to bed around11.
WEll that didn't work because I got very suddeny, very severe chest pains. Which necessitated a call to the powers that be, which led to an appearance in the ER at 1:00 a.m.I was put in a chair and immediately taken back to the "critical care rooms", which are just stocked with every medical goody known to man. I had my port accessed, blood drawn, supplemental oxygen given, BP cuff, vitals every like 15 minutes. I got some dilaudid via IV and a CXR was taken. CT wants a scaned with contrast, which meant the lovely hurt for a peripheral, which eneded up in my thum. We got the pictures, not as clear as we would've liked b/c we used a very small guage needle (all my veins could handle without blowing), so then it was back toa regular ER room while they made room for me up on C5.
We got up to C5 around 6. I had the lovely Medical Resident take my history and drug list, then the nurse came in w/ more dilaudid. At this point I think I slept for maybe 45 minutes. Dad was still with me. NO sleeping. But we did watch most of Spanglish, which is a movie we enjoy.
Sunday was spent basically throwing up everything I ate. So we did ativan for that, which I didn't know you could use for nausea, but it worked. It also gave me the sleep I hadn't had in, oh, 20 some hours. Wooohoo! Dr. A comes in today around 10:30 and tells my nurse he can't wake me up. Elizabeth says, "she only fell asleep at 3 and hasn't slept for about 36 hours."
Basically today was about pain/nauseau management. There is a pneumnonia going on and we're doing an IV drug as well as the oral levoquin. I"m a wee bit nauseous right now but nothing like yesterday. Ugh. HOpefully bile stays where it belongs. We're doing oral pain meds every 12 with tylenol in between if I need it. I just want to sleep normally tonight.
Ian went home early this morning but we got to see him on Sunday. He looked really good and so adorable. His new sister (Sophia) is due in November! I bet his sisters will be so happy to have him home. And my friend Kennedy (another heart t/x) is also on the floor now after coming out of the CICU. So there are friends here. Yay!
All right that's your update. I've been reading a ton of magazines, as usual, and sort of watched the Steelers win yesterday (Oh happy day!).

Friday, September 21, 2007


Well apparently the visit to Shangri-la turned into a sleepover! Ha!
I went in on Thursday and while the numbers were all stable, I was still having some symptoms--rattling in my chest, increased cough, a wee bit short of breath. And, of course, chest pain (which I know and love...ha). Dr. A looked at my CXR and said that if I wasn't having any symptoms, he'd probably say it was normal looking (or at least stable), but since I was having some issues, it would be best to bronch and see what's happening.
So off to the bronch suite we went! Pretty normal there, and we did find some buggies in the initial findings, so Dr. A didn't know if we'd want to do IV drugs or orals--it would depend on what grew out over the next 24 hours. So I stayed the night, getting IV drugs (well, one) and oral antibiotics. I also got the lovely dilaudid/phenergan combo (whoever was the doc on call last night REALLY loved me. :-D), but I'm doing OK now.
I was dischraged around 4ish, and it's all oral antibiotics so yay! I go back in on Monday for another CXR and blood work.
Had some excellent nurses (like always), and overall not too bad a stay. I won't go so far as to say it was "enjoyable" but it wasn't like being in Hell for 36 hours. :)
My little buddy Ian (heart t/x) and his mom were also on the floor when I was there, so I got to see them today which was fun. Ian is the sweetest little guy and he finally gets to go home on Monday! Yay!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Going to Shangri-La....

Tomorrow, anyway. Should be fun times with Dr. A and crew. Woohoo! Hopefully it will be an easy visit without any sturm un drang. :)

Sunday, September 16, 2007


2-0 baby.
49ers next week, so we'll see what happens...the Football Oracle (aka my dad) says that we should win.
And what is up with the browns?! Maybe I should root for them more often--except when they play the Steelers, of course. :)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Fall is here!

Today was the first real fall day in Central Ohio--perfect for an Easton trip and football! I bought a great outfit at Ann Taylor, enjoyed some shopping and a Fado lunch with Richelle and Christine, and had dinner with my parents. Overall a great day (with Buckeye Victory...). I just love fall.
Appointment w/ Dr. A and Dr. H this week on Thursday, so look for updates...

Also, pray for my little transplant buddies, Ian and Kennedy. Kennedy just had another heart transplant, and she's only 5 or 6! She's a trooper. Ian also had a heart transplant awhile ago, but he's in the hospital now. He's a sweetheart, so I want him to get better. :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

More diaries

April 14, 2005

Stayed home today--joints complaining. Ugh.

April 28, 2005

...Sinus thing rescheduled as an actual surgery for next Thursday, which means I"ll probably spend the night as a result. oh the joy. But it's good drugs! Got to look at the bright side, at least...

May 3, 2005

MRI yesterday...oh the joy of 65 minutes in a tube! I ran though the ENTIRE first act of Phantom while in there! Argh! I wish I was a little kid so they'd sedate me!

May 12, 2005

Well it has happened. I am--OFFICIALLY!--on the list. In fact, I am the first in Ohio (well, at least for AB+ blood). So it begins. The marketing crew came and interviewed me today, which was a lot of fun, and they took some pictures. They even want to come to my house and do some video, too. I'm not really sure how I feel--ready, it's not really happening. I told Tiff and Branden--Branden says, "so, should I say congratulations?" I don't know! I don't what WHAT I should be doing. Work tomorrow will be interesting!
It's so weird...I really don't know what to feel. It's quite bizarre, like this isn't really happening to me. But it really is...

May 15, 2005

The waiting has been almost preternaturally calm--I hardly worry about it. And yet I am always conscious that the call could come at any time, any place.
Troy was so sweet when he found out I had been listed...I'm going to start writing letters to everyone soon, just in case. I want to have things taken care of.

May 24, 2005

Should I put the count on hold while the insurance battle rages? Karen said that United (OK, more accurately, the State [probably]) is balking at paying for the actual operation and such. They'll cover the after stuff, but not the actual thing itself. So I'm on "hold" while they discuss, but K. said they might reactivate me, since it will be paid for, somehow. So I don't know. I'll keep counting.

Diary entries

From my journals, before tx. Very varied, and I've edited out stuff like what I was reading, watching, and school/friend drama. :)

December 1, 2004

....I'm back in the Resort. The last IV course didn't finish because my veins are just too scarred and tough, so we had to quit the course about a week early. Well, I never really got back to baseline, and I've been coughing more and there's been some blood too. But the real deal-breaker was when I had pancreatitis symptoms on Sunday. We tried to treat them at home, but it was too extreme, pain-wise, so I've been here since Monday. I'm also going to get a port put in before I go home, since all my peripheral and PICC sites have gone to total crap, which is no surprise after 11 years, I guess. So I had my first MRI today (actually, an MRV, to look at my veins), which was a little freaky--I'm not very claustrophobic, but I sure was here. So I'm on the pain drugs and IV antibiotics and phenergan and IV fluids, so I'm really living it up here...

December 2, 2004

Still here in Paradise...port surgery scheduled for tomorrow at 4 p.m. Not much going on here...Branden and Richelle might come visit on Saturday afternoon, whcihc would be nice. Today I also received violets from the choir and a Christmas arrangement from Grandma and Pa.
Still having pains and nauseau...would really like to get this under control...

December 8, 2004
Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Ryan's 7th birthday

Sorry I haven't written...had an IV in my thumb, so really couldn't hold a pen. My hand is still pretty swollen [from the infiltrate] but that's OK.
Got the port on Monday--went OK. It hurts quite a bit thought...I wish that would stoip. I'm still in here, but I talked to [my boss] today and she said all is good at work, so I can relax about that.
Ryan called me tonight, which was great...Since it's a Holy Day of Obligation, Fr. Mark came to give me Communion after dinner, which was nice.

December 12, 2004
Note: this is a really dark entry that I wrote after having a less than wonderful conversation with one of my doctors. So take EVERYTHING with a grain of salt,please. Thank you.

I'm not even sure what to write--I just feel like I shoulde engage in the activity...
I'm 22, and this is my life. Trapped here, always dependent, always under someone's thuumb. I can't do what I want, can't be what I want, can't do anythign I want, because of my life's circumstances and the people who are always saying "no" and denying me opportunity. I don't even know if I WANT a stupid transplant--what good will it do me?--but of course I'll say "yes." Of course it will be done. It doesn't really matte r what I want, or live. I've got 30 mothers who won't let me just be or live or do what I'd like to do. I have a brilliant mind, which is wasted in my work. I have energy and passion that can't really be channeled into anything I care about...
I wish I was free and could do as I pleased...but I"m stuck here, where nothign will change, where I'm held captive to fear and uncertainty...even with the transplant, it's only five more years. I'll never be free, I'll enver be able to do what I want. But I'm the "good" girl, the obedient daughter and patient. I'll always do what they tell me, because I don't have enough courage to go against them.
I'm so tired of people telling me that they do things "because they care." There are times where I wish they cared much, much less. I"m so tired of being smothered by concern.

February 25, 2005
In case you can't guess by the heading, I"m back in my favorite place! Although I must admit it hasn't been too bad...but with joint and chest pain and increase cough, I figured it would only be a matter of time. And I will say, I am enjoying the port much more than I thought, and my arms are gratefully relieved of their IV hosting duties.
I'm on amakacin, two other IV drugs and off Cipro, Ceptax, Tobra (yay!) and minocycline. Huzzah. Mayube now I can keep my head in the game.
Generally feeling OK now trhat we've got the chest pain in order. Wednesday my joints felt like they were on fire--I could hardly walk. Ugh. Like I said to Dr. M tonight, I am ready for some new parts, and once I get my transplant, I am going to rock.

Ferbruary 26, 2005
Still here, still working on the problems. Having chest pain, but at least I'm on IV phernergan now, which is so much better than the pills, I will say. I may actually get some real sleep tonight.

February 28, 2005
Still here...still having pain, still messing with drug combinations. Such is life.

March 1, 2005
Began transplant testing last night with massive blood draws, and by massive I mean about 7 1" tubes!! This has been followed by ANOTHER huge blood draw this morning, as well as 24 hour urine test, whatever that means. I will say, though, that if I didn't have the port, these blood draws wouldn't have happened because my veins are pretty shot, as we know.
We're doing a sat study tonight to chart oxygen levels and we might do more urine tests in the AM, but at least the blood letting's done--Dr. A says that's mostly to find my tissue type for transplant.

March 2, 2005
Going to have some sort of lung scan soon in Nuclear Medicine (egh..) that involves breathing in gas an dhaving IV contrast to see blood flow into the lungs and such. Not quite sure what this entails,b ut it's another transplant thing, and Dr. A says that it's not invasive. I just hope it's not like an MRI...that was not so much fun. Even though MRIs don't hurt, it's quite unnerving to lay inside the tube with your neck and head in some sort of vice-like ocntraption and the inability to see anything except a tiny swuare of wall,b ut seeing anything makes you feel less trapped. Without that little bit of light it would be very tricky. I would equate it to being placed in a coffin or mummysack still alive, yet unable to move. EH! Quite bizarre. So I'm hoping it's not like that, although it's alwasy COLD down there--colder than Radiology in general, which is always about 45 degrees--you could almost keep milk and eggs down there.
And it's so quite, you hardly ever see anyone. You get the feeling you could languish away for hours, down there, waiting for someone to find you and do whatever. But the absolute WORST is floroscopy/intervention, because it's like the Twilight Zone. NO ONE is ever there, the TVs aren't on, the four exam rooms are dark and filled with strange medical equipment and cold steel tables. when you go to get a PICC you go into the Intervention room and lay on a thing, bitter cold plate of steel underneath a huge light and radiology equipment. The nurses put warm blankets on you, but it doesn't really help. Sometimes there's music. It takes about 30-45 minutes of lying cruiciform on the table to find the deep veins (using ultrasound) and then inject the novocain or whatever, then thread and stitch in the's very hard to relax and hopefully they do it ONCE, right, because it's quite uncomfortable to have people tugging and pulling on delicate underarm skin. Dr. Hogan does a good job, but some are just hacks and don't really care if they hurt you.
PICCS generally aren't uncomfortable, though they did make dressing interesting when it was warmer. After a few weeks they start to hurt, and you REALLY wish you could just scrub your sking as well as you can with thick, foamy bath gel...In the summer, you couldn't swim with it, or wear short sleeves, or anything. And [some people] never really got used to seeing it.
Got the scan done. Let me tell you, spending 45 minutes in the dimly-lit bowels of nuclear medicine with your arms over your head is NOT the best way to spend an afternoon. Your arms get quite tired after awhile and those plates get so close! I felt like I was going to be unceremoniously squished...not a nice feeling at all. But overall, not a bad test.

March 3, 2005
Finalyl back...LONG day. Discharged around 2:00, then went to Eastland...then I came home, made up the dinner menu for the next 5 nights and went shopping FOR the menu at 7:30, which took a long while because I'm not used to the new Kroger layout. We've still got to get the bloodwork straightened out for Mondya--I can't BELIEVE how much blood they've needed for this transplant prep so far.

March 7, 2005
Only worked a half day today, which was good, given that the morphine did a number on my concentration and such, and my joints were highly rebellious. But the blood draw went well..while we're on home IVs, I'll be doing 8:30-3:00 hours at work.

March 14, 2007
Entering the last week of home IVs--huzzah! I don't tihnk I can take any more hair neglect. The port is great for many things but hair and body washing are not some of them. Sigh. Oh well. Only two more days!

March 17, 2007
St. Patrick's Day
IV reprieve...huzzah! Clinci went well, although I get the feeling that Drs. A & M want to get me transplanted as quickyl as possible. The whole gravity of the situation is starting to hit me.
Really, really tired...going to bed, so sorry for the short entry.

March 24, 2003
Holy Thursday

IV reprieve but symptom revival...I think that this point it would simply be easier to list the body parts that DON't hurt than to give the litany of complaints. But we're "working on it"...sigh.
Stayed home form work today to give my falling apart body a break...honestly, the sooner the transplant, the better. I am so TIRED of feelign like crap all the time.

March 28, 2005
Easter Monday/ Octave of Easter

....Appointment with Kathy today. Talked about my life within the whole prism of transplant. I'm so nervous about it. I mean, I WANT it, but I'm terrified at the same time. I guess that's normal. Everyone tells me that's normal. I don't know, obviously.