31 May, 2012

Valhalla Ren Faire, here we come!

It's a wee bit past midnight, and exactly 24 hours hence we will be headed for Lake Tahoe and the Valhalla Ren Faire. I should be sleeping, but I was given a bag of leather this evening and I was unable to plug the creative font. I've been wanting to dance with Danse Macabre for years, but haven't had the garb for it. I've jury rigged appropriate attire and was lacking only a skull mask to complete the garb. Using the braille my own skull method of drafting and some ingenuity, some of my precious new leather has now been transformed into a folk art skull mask. I'm quite pleased with it, and now only need to paint it and add some gilding (because I can).

27 April, 2012

Coming up on two years post-op, life is good. I did notice some definite changes related to the change in horomone levels, but they are stabilized and managed now. I noticed some definite fatigue, and was turning into lizard woman with dry flaky skin. My hair has still not recovered in terms of thickness and went through a good year of exceptionally slow growth. Weight (which I didn't need more of), wants to accumulate at even the thought of food. I am now on 100mcg of thyroxine daily and much of the symptoms I've just decribed are improving. I actually feel rested now, or as rested as you can be when keeping the busy schedule we keep. My hair is starting to grow again, and my skin is almost back to normal. Weight is still an ongoing issue, and in all likelihood will continue to be for life. I no longer freeze when it drops below 70 and actually have warm feet on occasion. I do have palpitations more frequently than I used to, but they aren't an issue since they rarely last longer than 30 seconds at a time.

28 August, 2010

Post op day 3: hemithyroidectomy

I'm feeling pretty useless. I get up and pretty much do nothing for a couple of hours--perhaps putter about online or tag along to the grocery store, and that completely wipes me out. Emotionally, I'm on a rollercoaster, and I have waves of sadness and crying jags for no reason. I tell myself that its just hormonal changes after surgery, but that's not much of a comfort. I can't focus on anything for more than a few seconds and it feels like I'm operating my brain via long distance remote control. I want to read, but simply can't concentrate to follow the storyline in any meaningful manner, plus I fall asleep at the drop of a hat. I rock at hotflashes though, so I can say I'm good for something!

Physically, the swelling has gone down a bit so that I'm no longer hoarse, but its still tight, stiff and sore, and the area all around my incision is red and rashy looking. Last night I started putting a thin layer of hydrocortisone cream on the red area, being careful to stay away from the actual incision, and I'm much less itchy today. The wound itself is still weeping a fair amount of serous fluid and is all crusty when I wake, so I gently rinse it with sterile saline and then pat the crusties away before applying the bacitracin. The rest of my body is less sore finally, so turning in bed is easier despite my head still weighing about two tons. Baby steps of improvement, but I'll take them. My neck is numb all long the platysimus muscle, better known as the shaving muscle to you men. I'm guessing the nerve was cut during surgery, though it functions fine. That's a minor inconvenience though, and is more an interesting observation than a complaint. I uploaded a mess of pictures into a public folder on Facebook, so if you want to see the recovery process including a gratuitous shot of my actual thyroid, go look me up over there. My profile name is Katlinel Qamar Al-Shefa'a, which is a combination of my dance name and real name. The profile itself is friend only but the surgery fun photo album is open to everyone.

27 August, 2010

Post op day two: hemithyroidectomy

Day two is coming to a close. I'm still surprised at how much this is taking out of me, because after a couple of hours I'm whipped and ready for a nap. I'm still having hot flashes and surges of emotion when I want to cry for no reason at all, but Les is very supportive and even bought a couple of new fans to help deal with the hot flashes. My neck is far more swollen than it was yesterday, and is red, itchy and warm to the touch beyond the area where the tegaderm was. Its weeping a little serous fluid as well. I'm not sure if its all buildup of serous fluid inside my neck, continued allergic reaction, or early infection. I'm of course anxious about infection, but I would think if it were getting infected it would hurt, and the sensation is more of heat, pressure and tightness (plus insane amounts of itching) than pain. I'm hoarse, but I can swallow alright and have no trouble breathing.

My corsets arrived today from England, so Les strapped me in and I rocked a steel boned tightlacing corset with my Frankenstein stitches. Of course, tight corset and tight swollen neck did make me feel a little claustrophobic, but I really wanted to wear one of the corsets today. :) That said, I was pretty happy to unlace when we got home from errands at Fry's.

The serous drainage from my neck was getting crusty and painful, so I took my first shower, carefully washing my hair and only getting an indirect spray of clean water on my neck for a few seconds. That was enough to rinse away the crusties, and after the shower I gently patted dry and applied some hydrocortisone cream on the red areas, careful to stay away from the incision itself. That got a light application of bacitracin, as per MD order. Hopefully the swelling will start to go down soon! I'm also really hoping its not infected and just still irritated from the tegaderm. I took benadryl last night to kill the itch because I was afraid of scratching my incision during my sleep. I'll be doing it again tonight because its still pretty itchy. If its not turning the tide tomorrow I'll be getting it checked for infection because I do NOT want a nasty infection of my surgical site. Now, I'm off to try and find a comfy sleeping position and rest my neck from my five ton head.

26 August, 2010

Post op day 1: at home

After discharge, we dropped off my pain Rx at Walmart and since we had a 30-60 minute wait, went to get dinner. Chicken fried steak was EXACTLY what I wanted for some reason, and hit the spot. I am still stiff all over, and can't really turn my head, but have no swallow issues, and definitely notice that its a LOT easier to breathe. I have a little swelling and am stiff from that, but really its the itching from the tegaderm that is driving me batty. Dinner finished, I'm rapidly running out of energy, so we head back to pick up my pain med so I can go home and crash. I waited in line only to be told that I couldn't pick up my prescription because it wasn't due for refill yet! I was flabbergasted. What refill? I had been discharged from the hospital two hours before and it was the initial prescription! It seems that the hospital had called it into their pharmacy even though we had a paper Rx from the day before to fill, and they had filled it and charged my insurance even though we hadn't picked it up there. Between that, hot flashes, sheer exhaustion and my head weighing five metric tons, I was ready to cry. The Walmart pharmacist was very nice about it and tracked down the problem, having them reverse the charge to my insurance so we could pick it up there rather than fight rush hour traffic back to UCSD to pick it up.

Once home I took a vicodin and crawled into bed, gone to the world in a matter of minutes. A few of our ubiquitous El Cajon ants crawled on me during the night and I was filled with the mental picture of having my incision attacked by thousands of them, rather like they attacked Lillith's mouse a few weeks ago. Of course, nothing of the sort happened, and I slept all night, undisturbed except by some pretty achy position changes. Les was delighted to report that I didn't snore at all, and he actually woke several times to make sure I was still breathing. The surgery was worth it for the greater ease in breathing alone, let alone the final definitive word on benign vs malignant.

Day one, post hemithyroidectomy

Day one post op. I was sore, but really not nearly as badly as I expected. The dressing itches something fiercely, and has a small amount of bloody drainage on it. I snapped a cellphone camera photo to document it, as well as a nice one of my huge purple hematomato on my arm. The latter is actually quite a lovely colour. The local is pretty well worn off so I rang for some pain medication to keep things to a dull roar, since they are tolerable but definitely reaching the decidedly uncomfortable mark. The doc ordered morphine--great. Not only does it not do anything for pain for me, it gives me the dread urinary retention. While getting up to pee every two hours is not fun, having urinary retention is less fun. Vanessa was wonderful and listened to my concern, getting me an order for Vicodin which does work for me. She offered 2 tabs,but one generally knocks me on my ass, so one it was. Sure enough,an hour later I was out cold from it, rousing only to go to the bathroom or change positions. My neck isn't very swollen but I can't really lie on my right side because its pretty sore then. The hot flashes are continuing and are a big surprise. It feels like my inner child got her hands on flamethrower, not just matches! My emotions are all over the place, alternately elated and weepy for no reason. Its got to be horomonal flux, but jeeze, they didn't take ovaries, just half my thyroid! I'm also getting VERY sore all over, so turning from side to side and getting out of bed is an achy project. I feel like I've been hit by a truck, and it doesn't make sense given the surgery I had.

On the plus side. by 2 am last night the nausea was gone and my appetite was back in a big way. The doc advanced my diet and that 2 am sandwich was nectar of the gods. Breakfast this morning had more calories on the tray than I usually have in an entire day, and I picked at it, eating the protein, but really having little interest in the muffin or sugary cereal. After breakfast the doc and his entourage of minions arrived to check me out and (to my surprise) remove the dressing. The pulling wasn't a lot of fun, but the dressing has been so itchy that I'm glad to have it off. Now, I wait for Les to wake up so I can be discharged.

25 August, 2010

I lived!

After surgery I remember things in bits and pieces. I woke as I was getting hooked up the the monitors and they were changing my gown which was soaked with sweat and putting a cool air blower on me. That thing felt SO good. I had pain, but not as much as I expected, about a 4/10. I also had some nausea, but it was in the background. I didn't feel like I was going to throw up right away, but was definitely slightly nauseous. My first thought was "I lived!" and my second was "Half or whole?". They told me it was only half and I drifted back into oblivion, still making my best attempt to breathe deeply since I was dimly aware that my breathing was shallow and my O2 sats around 90%.

The next time I woke, Les was there and I was SO glad to see him. He looked exhausted, but he was a beautiful sight, and that kiss was the sweetest I've ever had. I noticed my arm hurt and saw that my IV had blown--I was sporting one impressive bruise on my arm where they had put the 18. OK, where is the IV now? To my surprise, it was tiny little 22 in my right hand. Great--its going to hurt to flush. I would have thought they would have placed a 20 though. Now I was aware that I really had to go pee, but wasn't yet in any shape to get up to go to the bathroom. I was asleep again before they could bring a bedpan.

The next few hours were a blur, but eventually they got a very wobbly me up to the bathroom and I was able to partially empty my bladder. Blessed relief. Les and I were then relocated to an overflow unit since the head and neck floor was full and didn't have a bed for me yet. What a nurse patient ratio! There were two nurses and I was the only patient. I gingerly sipped some juice, very welcome but slightly nausea provoking, so I kept it to a slow sip rate. My neck does hurt, but its very tolerable and it feels like they used marcaine or something to numb the area up because its distinctly numb. My throat isn't nearly as sore as I expected. I kept falling asleep again in between bathroom trips every 2 hours to pee. Finally the anaesthesia is wearing off enough that I can pee somewhat normally.

Les left around 4pm to get ready to work...another night shift on no sleep. I was worried about him falling asleep driving, but kept drifting off to sleep again myself. Around five pm my room was ready on the head and neck floor and they brought a wheelchair, asking if I could walk. I though he meant walk to the eleventh floor (I was on the sixth) and carry my pillow and bag of stuff! I was thinking that I wasn't in any shape to walk that far, not realizing he was asking could I walk to get into the wheelchair. *lol* Of course I could do THAT, I had been walking to the bathroom every couple of hours. They ended up transporting me by gurney because of the equipment they needed to bring, and in short order I find myself meeting my nurse Vanessa, the charge nurse, the aide (who calls EVERYONE Mamma) and respiratory therapy. The room has a nice view, and is a private room, though I can certainly hear all the other patients around me. Another potty trip (they are getting old) and a clear liquid dinner tray and I was lost in sleep again. Drug coma was actually pretty welcome at that point since I was worn out despite having done pretty much nothing. I'm having serious hot flashes, so the AC feels good as I drift off yet again.

I'm a ball of nerves.

We arrived at the hospital and I was so nervous I almost forgot to pay for our parking in the UCSD parking structure. Les was more level headed and reminded me so we took care of that before finding our way to admissions. The admitting clerk was convinced I had only paid $122 of my deductible, and I know bloody well I had to pay $500 before my CT scan so I met the deductible. The $122 is the portion my insurance paid out for the $325 test so I should have a credit. They wouldn't admit me until that was sorted out, so we had to sit for 40 minutes until they got ahold of my insurance company who confirmed I had paid $500 and met my deductible. This was NOT what I needed on top of already being over the top anxious about surgery.

We found our way to pre-op admitting at last and I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had a private room for changing rather than a curtained area with a gurney. I changed out of my buttery soft grey shreddie Melos (they sort of look like cigarette ash) and my comfy top and into their ginormous gown and ugly tan grippy socks. I had gone commando and sans bra since I knew I would have to take them off anyhow. I would rather not lose nice lingerie and wouldn't want to wear old lingerie to the hospital anyhow, so commando it was. My vitals were taken and the initial admissions questions addressed, after which they started my IV. I have small veins and am not an easy stick so I suggested he put in a 20, which is big enough for surgery but small enough for my veins to take without blowing. In went an 18, and to my surprise, there was virtually no pain at all. One hurdle crossed. Les waited with me for about ten minutes and then we had a tearful goodbye as I was popped into a wheelchair to head off to preop staging.

I met with the pre-op nurse, expressed my wish to avoid an intra-op catheter if possible (I got the mother of all UTIs after my last intra-op cath), and also mentioned that morphine doesn't work for me for post op pain, but does give me a rollicking good case of urinary retention. They gave me a TV remote to watch TV while waiting for the anaethesiologist, surgeon and circulator. There is nothing on at 7 am anyhow, and I was far too keyed up to watch anything so I sat there wishing dearly for some versed. I met with the anaesthesiologist, got my questions answered and concerns about nausea and post op morphine addressed as well as being briefed on the agents he would use for me. All is good. Can I have some Versed now?

Met with the surgeon and his entourage of residents and interns and was marked. He gave the intern grief since her mark was rather more central than to the right and the plan is for a right hemithyroidectomy and isthmusectomy, with possible total thyroidectomy depending upon how things look in there. Met with the circulator. Can I have Versed yet? Got unhooked from the IV for a last minute potty break to hopefully avoid that catheter. NOW can I have some Versed? I could have used it an hour ago. They hooked me back up to fluids (hmmm...they use blood tubing. I certainly hope I don't need a transfusion for this!) and it hurt like a son of a bitch when they flushed the IV. Versed please? The line is still patent. Nancy came by from PACU since she works there as well as at the Kaiser Zion PACU and it was VERY good to see a familiar face. She was a blessing for a little bit until anaesthesia showed with my very much welcome 2 mg of Versed. We wheeled down the hall, though several sets of doors and into the OR. I scooted over to the table and they started getting me strapped down. The show is on the road. The next thing I know, I vaguely remember someone starting a new IV on me and someone saying that we needed it now because the IV had blown. After that, oblivion and no more nerves.

S-day is here! Time to have my thyroid out at last...

After a couple of biopsies and doing some research, I settled upon Dr. Weisman of UCSD to do my thyroid surgery. He did a CT scan a few weeks ago that showed at 40% occlusion of my airway, explaining the strangling sensation I've been complaining about for quite some time. It also impacts my swallowing, so I'll be glad to have it out though I'm ridiculously nervous about surgery itself. I know I'm healthy and a low risk candidate, but I'm afraid of dying during surgery and I'm just not ready to stop living yet. I feel like I've started to hit my stride and I have LOT more living to do.

Yesterday I worked, then came home and changed for dance class. I normally take all three of Sabrina's classes, but I ran out of energy after two and a half hours and bailed on the last hour in favour of getting something to eat. I fired up Garmin and the closest Indian restaurant was in the Gaslamp. As expected, there was NO parking in the Gaslamp, so I headed to Hillcrest instead. Wonder of wonders, I found parking within thirty seconds of arriving in Hillcrest, AND even better, it was across the street from an Indian restaurant. I had decided I wanted Indian food in case it was my last meal. I had lamp saag with palak stuffed parantha and galub jamun for dessert. Diet be damned. I also had a half a beer. I just couldn't finish it though the amount I had did help somewhat with nerves. I drove home, chugged water until midnight, showered, washed my hair and braided it wet to contain it for surgery, and packed the things I wanted to take to the hospital for my overnight stay.

Its now just after 4 am and I'm reluctantly awake and getting ready to head out. Poor Les worked all night and got his boss to let him leave a little early so he could take me to UCSD this morning. The plan is for him to stay with me but he just suggested coming home to sleep and them coming back to the hospital after surgery to see me. I couldn't help it, I burst into tears. I do NOT want to be alone waiting to go back to surgery.

15 June, 2009

Still more fun with biopsies

After some teeth pulling, I got my appointment with interventional radiology a week and a half later. This time it was at the hospital rather than the office, and the staff was wonderful. When I checked in I wanted to conform the test and Dr Asshat had ordered another needle aspiration biopsy. I told them that I would not sign a consent for that and we were doing either a punch biopsy or an inscisional biopsy because I wanted to be positive that they got enough tissue! They went back and consulted with the doc who would be doing the procedure and he understood how I felt and sent out a consent for a punch/core biopsy. Finally, someone who will listen to me!

The repeat biopsy was done the way the first one SHOULD have been done. They had me lay down and did an ultrasound of the offending mass, draped me and then numbed the area well with lidocaine. Lidocaine burns when it goes into the tissue, but after that it is beautiful stuff so I didn't mind the few second of burning at all. When they actually took the samples, they used the ultrasound to ensure they were in the tissue--it was pretty neat really because you could see the needle advancing on the ultrasound screen. The needle itself is fairly large and spring loaded so that when they are in the desired area they activate it and it jabs down to cut a quick core, after which it retracts and the sample is placed in a formalin transport solution. I felt the pressure of course, but no real pain, though the click of the needle activating did always make me a jump a little. They took a total of three samples and then had me wait while those were run up to pathology for a quick wet mount to ensure that they had enough tissue for diagnosis. They did thankfully, but had they not they would have just repeated the procedure to get a diagnostic sample. That little step felt good because it meant we would have answers finally.

After the biopsy it did feel like my neck was going to explode when I would cough, but when I was between coughing jags it was just a deep dull aching and muscle soreness. When I coughed though it was pretty funny because I had to use one had to cover my mouth and the other to support my throat with some counter pressure in order to minimize the discomfort. Fortunately, that only lasted two days and then I was just left with a bruise that looked unfortunately like a hickey. I'm not complaining however--they did their job properly and with as little discomfort to me as possible.

A week later the results from the second biopsy were in--blessedly benign. My bloodwork was abnormal though, and it seems that the mass has decided to function autonomously and produce thyroid hormones which is leaving me hyperthyroid rather than the borderline hypothyroid its been all these years.

While I am definitely relieved that its not cancerous (nor is it Hashimoto's thyroiditis) the fact remains that it is causing issues because of its size. I always feel like I have a hand on my throat and do have some difficulty swallowing at times. At least a few times a week I aspirate liquids, usually when I'm really thirsty and not paying attention to swallowing. It is also uncomfortable when I sleep because I can sleep curled up fetal style like I always do--I feel like I can't breathe then so I have to throw the upper arm back and drape my arm over my hip/buttock area in order to open up my airway enough to feel like my breathing is unobstructed. This makes my shoulder unhappy but is certainly preferable to feeling like I can't breathe well! According to Les, I also now snore pretty loudly--something I never used to do unless I had a cold. I got one of those moldable mouthpieces and that does help with the snoring, but I'm thinking that taking out that half of the thyroid is really the best plan for me. It will remove the mechanical obstruction making me for comfortable, take care of the hormone issue, and mean that I don't have to have repeat biopsies every six months. It will also remove the offending tissue so that I can have peace of mind that I don't have a time bomb ticking in my neck just waiting to turn malignant on me. Yes, there are risks and I may end up hypothyroid in the long run, but I feel that the risks outweigh the benefits. On to the next stage!

30 May, 2009

Fun with biopsies

As those of you who read the comments may have noticed, in recent months I was found to have a 3.6 cm mass on the right side of my thyroid, and a smaller nodule on the left side. I went through an anxious few months in the initial workup and also learned how to be as pro-active as I need to in order to get appointments in a reasonable time frame. The first endocrinologist (who I dislike for a number of reasons) kept me waiting for well over an hour for my appointment, then breezed in and spent about a minute and a half with me before zipping out again. Honestly, while he knows his stuff, he came off as a pompous ass. They wanted to schedule a biopsy in office in a month since he was going on vacation for three weeks. I had a polite fit and said that was far too long to wait to learn if I had cancer or not. They then got me an appointment with one of his partners for the next week.

I arrived for that appointment understandably anxious, but also eager to have it done with so that I would have some answers. When I requested lidocaine prior to the biopsy (since everything I've read had said that they use lidocaine first to make it more comfortable), the partner refused to give me any saying that it was quick and he uses a small needle so I wouldn't need it. Um, dude...you are sticking needles in MY NECK, I frigging want lidocaine! He then takes a quick peek at my thyroid with an ultrasound, decided where he wants to go and takes three samples. It is a deep somewhat sharp ache with a strong pulling sensation as he takes each sample, and oddly enough, even though the three samples were taken in one small area, I felt referred pain in three different places: behind my left ear, in the occipital region of my head, and up toward the crown of my head. No, he never did give me lidocaine. Because I knew the main endocrinologist was away for three weeks I told him that I wanted the results as soon as they were in, and did not want to wait three weeks--I wanted answers! He promised me he would call when they were in...and then never did. When they came in five days later the office staff refused to give me any information, saying that the doctor had to read it first. I understand that but his partner was there and was supposed to release my results. After days and days of calling the office staff, they finally strong-armed a different partner into giving me the results--the asshat who was supposed to call me finally did, at the three week mark. All that stress (which also made my asthma spiral wildly out of control) and the results were that there were no results because asshat hadn't gotten any thyroid tissue! Asshat wanted to schedule a repeat aspiration biopsy in the office and I told him pointblank that that was not going to happen. What we were going to do was schedule a punch biopsy in interventional radiology to be SURE we got enough tissue, and no, it was NOT going to be in a month, it was going to be ASAP. He said that yes, that sounded like a reasonable plan and went off to order it. You bet your lying smarmy ass thats a reasonable plan!

22 February, 2009

California suits me perfectly



As the years have gone by, I have found myself hating winter more and more. It reached the point where our short summer season turned into about a month of enjoyment and two months of mud season and dreading the autumn because I knew that nine long months of cold and dark were on their way. Yes, the autumnal displays were beautiful, but all too short lived, and hard on their heels were snow, ice, and darkness at 4 pm.

After 41 years in the northeast, I pulled up stakes and headed west in my new job as a traveling nurse. I've now been in southern California for five months and can honestly say that I have never been happier in my life. Work still has the same challenges, and on occasion has left me in tears of frustration, but it rolls off once I'm home again. Cold here is a relatively balmy low 50s, and though I break out my wool coat, its worn with sandals and minus the hat, scarf, longjohns, and other cold weather accoutrement. I'm a half hour from the beach and even went skinny dipping in the ocean in December. There are flowers all year long, as well as new treats like cactus fruits, churros, and cerviche. The bellydance community here is warm and wonderful though there does seem to be a pronounced cab vs tribal line of division. If we wanted to, we could go see a bellydance performance every day of the week, and on some days, more than one. Add to that my wonderful sweetheart and life here makes me happier than I've ever been before.

03 November, 2007

30 October, 2007

10 September, 2007

Rain won't stop me....

Waving hi from the side of the highway

I've been wanting to do a photoshoot with the giant whale tail sculptures on the side of the highway for a while now, so when the day finally came and the weather wasn't the nicest, I wasn't about to let it stop me. I had planned on taking shots with both wings of Isis and my silk fire veil, but because of the rain I opted to forget the veil, since the silk just wouldn't fly when weighed down with rain. That compromise aside, it was a lot of fun even with the rain. I'm not sure its really legal to park on the side of the highway unless its an emergency, so we tried to make it a speedy affair. As soon as I unfurled the wings, passing cars and trucks started honking their horns. I'm going to take those as honks of approval and surprise rather than honking at the crazy woman dancing around with giant silver wings by the whale tails.



We managed to get a nice set of shots in record time--I think we were there all of about 15 minutes. It was long enough to get chilled to the bone, but not long enough to be sopping wet. Looking at the photos and comparing them to shots from a year ago I noticed that I definitely look smaller and more toned despite the scale telling me that I've gained. I'm still working on getting the scale numbers down, but the photos don't lie. I'm pretty sure I put on some muscle since if it were all fatty tissue I would look larger rather than smaller. I've kicked up my dance schedule as well--I now take about five hours of class a week, plus have troupe rehearsal and daily practice on my own . That practice is about to increase even more since have to choreograph a solo with the wings for our New Years Eve gig at the state capitol. I want to put on a good show for all the New Year's revelers!

27 August, 2007

More Centralia photos



The largest crack in the highway, smokier, wider, and heaved up on one side a good 9 inches higher over two years.










Video of one of the cracks in the highway...note the smoke.

Centralia revisited.


I took my annual trip south to take my eldest daughter to school (actually this time to catch her flight to Italy for her year studying abroad) and again routed through Frackville so that we could see the changes in Centralia. The town itself looks pretty much the same, but the abandoned section of route 61 has been getting worse each year. The ground underfoot has always been hot, to the point where barefoot it was only tolerable for 5-6 minutes. This year it was so hot that it actually started melting the soles of my shoes, and there was MUCH more smoke emanating from the cracks and fissures in the road. Photos from our first trip in 2005 are here for comparison to the photos I'm uploading now. Its a huge amount of change in three years!
Not only was it a humid 96 degree day, but the heat coming off the ground was intense!



For comparison, this photo of the "Mommy crack" was taken in 2005. The same crack today (with my foot for size comparison--shoes ON this time):

25 August, 2007

She's leaving, on a jet plane...



Its been a bittersweet few days. My eldest daughter, my firstborn, my creative and talented artistic wonder is headed off to Italy for a year. She has the opportunity to study abroad for her Junior year at University, and the logical destination for an Italian major would be old Italia. I'm absolutely thrilled for her, and very excited that she's going, but its a bittersweet joy since she'll be gone for almost a year and a half. We are headed down to Pennsylvania to take her to catch her flight out, and I swear that she is the lightest packer ever! She has one 48 pound suitcase and one small carry-on bag. Thats a tiny amount of luggage to cover all of her needs for a year. I'll have to send her some care packages since I'm sure she'll need more than that during the year. One project once I'm home again is to get her a set of silk long underwear and custom dye it--warm, comfy and beautiful for my jewel of a daughter. I think I miss her already and she hasn't even boarded the plane yet!

08 August, 2007

23 May, 2007

Melodia's Magic Pants Map of World Domination


Free Guestmap from Bravenet.com
 Free Guestmap from Bravenet.com



If you have Melos, place your pin!

21 May, 2007

Teenagers can be so SO awesome.



This morning I staggered to the bathroom, half asleep, ready for the morning ablutions. What should I find on the toilet paper roll but the above message...I quite literally burst out laughing. It seems my 16 year old used the last of the paper, and rather than look for a new roll, left me this love note. I just love teenagers! They can be incredibly trying at times, but at other times they are wonderfully funny and creative. This totally made my day!

19 May, 2007

I will never leave the house again...

without marinating in sunblock anyhow. The sunburn I got from the parade blossomed into a bad second degree burn, and the tender skin on my cleavage that doesn't often see sun blistered. After it blistered it ended up cracking open and developing into cellulitis, which is a bad soft tissue infection of the skin at a cellular level. It was spreading and I outlined the red areas with a sharpie to keep track of them. Once it was clear that it was extending beyond the outlining and getting worse, I broke down and went to the doctor. She actually asked if I had gone to the ER for treatment, and made an awful face when she saw it. The best treatment for burns is Silvadene cream which has colloidal silver in it as well as other good things, but since I am deathly allergic to sulfa drugs which are a component of this, I had to use two other creams: a heavy duty antibiotic and a lidocaine ointment to kill the pain. It was actually excruciatingly painful and would keep me awake at night, so I was more than happy to numb the girls. They still ache all the time, but its a constant dull ache instead of a sharp, burning pain, and its very tolerable. What really makes me kick myself is that this was entirely preventable had I just remembered that SPF 60. *sigh*

Oh well. The creams are working their magic, and while there will be scarring, it looks like it'll fade over 6-12 months. I have to debride the dead tissue in the shower and then apply the creams, but it looks SO much better and is no longer splitting and oozing. The cellulitis is almost completely resolved with just one weeks worth of antibiotics, so once I finish the second week I'll be good to go. The new skin will be very delicate however, and will absolutely require tons of sunblock at all times--not a problem as I definitely learned my lesson. I still want a melanin transplant though!

08 May, 2007

I need a melanin transplant


I swear that almost all of the melanin in my body is concentrated in a very cool oval shaped two inch long birthmark on my left shin. Its quite cute actually, and long ago I named it Spot. It is THE most beautiful cafe-au-lait shade of brown and I've always wanted to be that colour all over. Sadly, I am instead ridiculously fair, and pretty much never tan, though I might beige a little by the end of the summer. I've given up even trying to tan as I never manage more than a good lobster impression, followed by exfoliation in sheets. :( Rather, I just marinate in sunblock and leave it at that.

For the All Species parade, I worked late into the night for a number of nights before finishing my costume, and the night before the parade was up half the night sewing and making a troupe banner, since we didn't have one. I grabbed about four hours of sleep, got up and spent several hours getting into costume, hair (wheee---dreads down to my tush) and makeup, and then gathered the things we needed, including zills and new elastic as I had flung a zill a few days earlier. I remembered nearly everything...I forgot a critical item for an obscenely fair skinned person however. I forgot my trusty SPF 60. Needless to say, I burnt to a crisp--just barely shy of blistering. Thankfully my costume had long sleeves and covered most of me, but my face, chest, cleavage and belly were very well toasted. Its now four days later and my poor chest is even sorer than before, despite making sure to put SPF 60 on lavishly before leaving the house since the burn. Its my own fault of course, but it makes me SO envious of all of you out there blessed with more melanin than I have. Anyone care to donate any to the cause? I'm putting myself on the melanin transplant list!

Above is not a good shot because the burn got much brighter after this, plus you can't see the way cool stripeys from coin head-dress and belly drape, but it does show at least a little of the burn.

05 May, 2007

All Species Day parade


All Species Day is an obscure Vermont festival held in Montpelier each year. People dress up in animal, plant and nature themed costumes and spend the day in dance ceremonies, a parade, and culminates with live performances and a Maypole on the Statehouse lawn. Our troupe director was asked to be the spring maiden, central in the ceremonies and festivities, but had to bow out due to time constraints caused by her upcoming wedding. The troupe decided to march in the parade anyhow and had fun though it was a bit of mixed bag in my mind.

The parade itself was a riot of colour and costumes and overall exuberant joy, but it was also THE most disorganized clusterf*ck I've ever been in and that made me a bit crazy, because we put a lot of rehearsal time and planning into our parade dance and traveling steps. We had a whole routine choreographed, including travel steps, turns, transitions, different people leading with transitions between lead dancers, and zilling patterns. For those of you who don't know, zills are the brass finger cymbals worn by bellydancers. We were supposed to be following the group of geese puppets, but as the organizers never lined anyone up, the parade happened as a mob scene. I didn't really care WHERE we were in the lineup, but organization would have been nice. Next, instead of proceeding at a parade pace, it was almost a jog. It seems that they took too much time in the park putzing around, and then were late starting the parade. To compensate, they set off at a jog, and a 90 minute long parade lasted about 20 minutes. It was physically impossible to do our choreography at that pace, so we had to re-choreograph on the fly. We put on a good performance, but it was so fast that no one could really appreciate any of the parade. The turns and transitions had to go because the group behind us was practically running us over and one man with the float of the sun was literally breathing on the neck of one of our dancers, which was very uncomfortable for her. We made the best of a bad situation though, and the crowd really loved it when we broke into 3/4 shimmies. Those are exhausting at that pace however, so we had to do them in short bursts.
On the fun side, my dreadlocks got their maiden voyage and that was fun. One woman actually came up to me and asked how to start dreads in her hair, so my dreadfalls must be quite convincing. They ARE real hair, given to me as a birthday present by my troupe director when she cut them off. I dyed them to match my own hair (eight boxes of dye!) and sewed them to hair combs. Once on my head, I wrapped a half turban from some leftover silk I had and they were secure enough for dancing, spins, and as you can see, backbends.

The other downside of the parade? a HORRIBLE sunburn because I forgot the sunblock. That was painful lesson to learn.

30 April, 2007

Vintage shot


I just love this shot. Its not really a vintage photo, obviously, since at 40 I'm hardly vintage, but the colour density reminds me of the beautiful technicolour films of the 1950s...particularly Italian films.