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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

on topic!

I'm pretty sure the above is what is happening to my arms.  If you could have stripped away the skin to see the muscle a month ago and then again today, that's what you'd see.  Okay, I wouldn't exactly match the picture.  I have more boob and less belly, but arms? Uh, yeah, I think so.

See, kids, my post-op instructions included not lifting any heavy objects.   My doctor didn't/wouldn't exactly put a figure on that--I've heard other people having been told no more than 5 pounds (!) or 10 pounds or "no more than a newborn baby" or "no more than a gallon of milk."  Mine said "Weeellllllllll, I wouldn't go lifting full laundry baskets..." I chose to interpret that as laundry baskets full of wet, not dry, clothes, because, bitch please.  Anyway, I have tried to be good.  I have not picked up either of the 19 pound cats. I have not carried my real purse full of what's usually in there because I'm pretty sure that's 15lbs in itself.  I haven't lifted full grocery bags or containers of kitty litter or taken out the trash.

At my two week checkup I was hoping to be released to lift more, but no. Tomorrow's my four week visit and hope springs eternal.  Especially because I have to admit I got a little lax this weekend while doing hurricane prep.  I was instructing my son to put this there and that there, no no no closer...and well, I ended up helping because the sweet Baby Jesus knows I am really not good with delegation.  If you want something done right... So, yeah, I sincerely hope my doctor tells me it's okay to start lifting a little more, just so I can put my mind at ease that tacking a plastic tarp over my basement sliders didn't just cause me internal adhesions.

With all this up-till-now good behavior, my upper body is atrophying like whoa. The first couple weeks after surgery I was flexing in front of the bathroom mirror, as you do, thinking, well now, my muscles are not falling off, go figure. Ahem. Flexing not so satisfying these days.  Coincidentally (or not so much) I've lost three pounds since my procedure, leaving me at a weight that frightens me a teeny bit***.  Since I have been making and eating such things as this and these and oh, yeah, these and (with some substitutions) these and obviously have not been starving myself, I can only posit that I've lost three pounds of muscle.  That's three months of bulking progress, yo. It's enough to make a grown woman cry. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, that and tiny infants in peril. Shut up, I KNOW I'm hormonal, ok? And if you don't know what the hell I'm talking about, it's because you didn't read the previous post. Try to keep up, wiil ya.)

Now, seriously, some time around January when I am cleared to actually lift weights, I know it'll all come back.  Lots of gym time, lots of food = maybe next summer I'll be back to where I was this summer, refusing to wear anything other than a tank top unless strictly necessary.  In the meantime, hey, it's hoodie weather. No one's gotta know that my triceps are sad!


***oh, don't be concerned: BMI =19.9, I'm not even underweight

off topic

I've been watching either the local news or CNN for the past 32 hours. It's possible for me to do this when they're covering a natural disaster as opposed to when they're covering politics. That just makes me ragey. If you've watched CNN this morning, I'm sure you saw the footage of the NICU nurse from the NYU hospital that was being evacuated, sitting on a stretcher and ventilating the tiny baby in her arms manually after having taken said baby down nine (or eleven?) flights of stairs lit only by flashlights.  It made me cry. Just a little, yo. The NICU and Special Care nursery nurses I've known in my professional life have almost universally been very competent and very kind, adept both at inserting IVs into the tiniest veins you could possibly imagine and at comforting and educating new parents who are dealing with the scariest things a new parent could imagine. In short, they rock. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that hand ventilating a tiny infant in dark and precarious stairwells is all in a day's work for them. It still made me tear up.

It also made me want to write this off topic post to say thank you to all those people who choose these careers that involve responding to disasters. The firefighters and cops and EMTs and Coast Guard and National Guard and medical personnel--y'all are unbelievable.

Thank you.


Friday, October 19, 2012

needles, wut?

My acupuncturist, Marcy, whom my friends have heard me talk about way too much, was on an NBC nightly news segment on back pain!  Here's an extended version from the MSNBC website:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
I'm not sure what acupuncture does--I don't exactly buy into the concept of chi--but it does something. I've had treatments that left me so loopy and spaced I almost sat in someone else's lap on the subway on the way home. I've had the weirdly pleasurable sensation of lying on the table with the needles in and feeling as if I had a heavy, invisible blanket on me, weighting down my limbs. I've a previously sprained ankle that kept swelling up on and off for months finally stop doing that when Marcy scraped at it with what literally was a Chinese soup spoon. (In the massage world, I think we call that cross-fiber friction, but I've never performed it on anyone with an eating utensil.)

Oh, and then there was that time Marcy treated a point on the top of my head because I was feeling depressed in a flat, ennui-filled way, and mentioned casually that she would never needle that spot if I was in my much more common state of freaking-out anxiety because it was a stimulating point. Whereupon, several hours later in bed, I found myself suffering from the female equivalent of the fabled "call your doctor for an erection lasting more than 3 hours" of the Viagra commercials. Holy crap, one of the weirdest (and least comfortable) experiences of my life. I seriously wonder if the ancient Chinese treated that point on people suffering from, y'know, sexual dysfunction.

So, yeah. I don't understand exactly how or why acupuncture works, but it's pretty cool. Plus, I'm perfectly willing to pay to take a nap in a dark quiet warm room in the middle of the day, yo. It's not slacking--it's medical treatment.


Friday, October 12, 2012

boo boos

Oh, hai. Long time no write. Been busy getting ready for surgery, having surgery, and now recovering from surgery.  Down to one percocet a day, so I suppose I'm alright to get some coherent thoughts down on electronic paper. NOT PROMISING ANYTHING. Ahem.

And if you think I'm about to post up pictures of my boo boos, um I mean incisions, sorry but no. Don't think I didn't consider it, but my attention-whore tendencies only go so far.  Let me just say, you can't even really see the one that's inside my bellybutton. Props to whatever ob/gyn gave me this super-deep innie forty-nine years ago, thereby making my gyn's cosmetic job easier in 2012!

No, the Boo Boos I actually am here to write about is the "Honey Boo Boo" family.  If you just genuinely went "wut?", my hat is off to you.  I too was blissfully unaware of this little piece of pop culture effluvia until, in my convalescence, I saw someone online jokingly*** say to a friend, "You're fat, but not Honey Boo Boo fat."  Having sorta kinda vaguely heard that this was some sort of reality show but unclear on the details, I was prompted by this comment (and the boredom that comes from being more or less glued to one's couch for days) to explore further.  Where did I go but that bastion of nasty snark that is the TWoP reality show forums?  (I know, I know.)

There I found out that Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is a spinoff from Toddlers and Tiaras (which, the title is self-explanatory, no?) and follows a little girl from Georgia who participates in child pageants. The "joke" that  the audience is supposed to be in on is that the little girl is chubby, not particularly pretty and not particularly talented, and thus unlikely to win even the low-rent competitions she participates in. Oh, not to mention that she has an enormously redneck/white trash family, with a dad in whose face there is never not a hunk of dip, a pregnant 17 year old sister who doesn't know what the word "abdomen" means when she goes for an ultrasound, and, most prominently, a morbidly obese, very loud, crass mom, June, for whom farting on camera is the height of hilarity.  Here's an unflattering and then a relatively flattering shot of June, just so you know the size of the lady in question.

I read the first twenty or thirty pages of commentary on this show (shut up, I'm practically a shut-in, yo) and then decided I had to see for myself whether this shiz was as horrifying as all the pearl-clutching internet commenters claimed.  So *I paid* $1.95 for two episodes on Amazon instant watch.  If only I made money from writing, I coulda claimed that ::cough:: "research" ::cough:: as a business expense on my taxes.  Sigh.

Well, I gotta tell you, I was not as horrified by these people as I went in there expecting to be.  First of all, it was pretty obvious to me that, as we all know, reality television is "reality" television and a lot of the crassness, etc, was playing a role for the cameras.  June, in particular, may be uneducated and white trash, but the woman isn't stupid.  She appears to have a good amount of self-awareness and know exactly what she's doing. Hell, she was smart enough to get her kid a TV show. (We'll leave the morality of pimping your family life out for television dollars out of this. Poor people have done worse shit for money.)  And I was charmed that this family seems to actually, you know, all like and care about each other.  That's as rare on TV as it is in, y'know, real life.  Little Alana, if not Shirley Temple II, is actually a very sweet kid when not being prompted to act obnoxious for the cameras.

With my opinion now unbiased, I went back to read more internet commentary on these people, and what struck me the most was the judgy judging and, yeah, pearl-clutching about their weight problems and purported eating habits.  People were, apparently seriously, suggesting that June have her children removed from her for eating junk food.  Other people, also in apparent sincerity, suggested that all their health/weight problems would be solved if they just used their backyard to grow a vegetable garden.  The silliness and self-righteousness was amazing.  First of all, as someone who has occasionally tried this "gardening" business, let me say that a.) if you have a non-green thumb, it ain't as easy as the green-thumbed among us might suggest and b.) every tomato I finally managed to harvest probably ended up costing me twice what I would have paid for it in the supermarket or even the farm stand.  But secondly, what I think a lot of people who actually have relatively "healthy" eating habits don't realize is that if you've grown up on a diet of nothing but processed food not only do you not see anything wrong with eating that way, but you probably don't think unprocessed healthy food tastes good.  It's not as simple as "give those people some salad and lean protein" and they'll be thin, it's "salad and lean protein is gonna taste like crap to them."

I myself, living in a decidedly non-klassy area, have frequently seen such relative horrors as young (and sometimes not-so-young) moms putting soda in baby bottles or sippy cups, feeding young toddlers Cheetos and donuts to keep them quiet, and carefully tearing takeout fried chicken into pieces a 9 month old can eat without choking.  I don't think this means these women don't love their children. I don't think this means these women want their kids to be part of the OMG! obesity epidemic! or to get the di-a-bee-tus.  I think these moms are feeding their kids what they themselves have always eaten, what tastes good to them, what they think of as normal food.  And I'm willing to bet a whole shitload of them don't know how to cook anything that doesn't come out of a box.

It's not so simple as "food deserts" or "junk food is cheaper than healthy food" though those things play a part.  It's not so simple as educating people about nutrition or even teaching them how to cook good, cheap things at home. It's that we have a whole couple generations of people who've never eaten anything but processed food and to whom that's all that tastes good.  I don't know what the answer to this is, though I think exposing all children to *good tasting* fruit and vegetables and real cheese and yogurt and whole grain bread and decent non-battered meat in school, starting in preschool and up, would be a start. But no one wants to pay for decent food in the public schools, do they?  That costs $$$.

I do know that shaming and pearl-clutching about those fat fat poor people and their horrible eating and parenting habits doesn't do bupkis.


***joke being that the person in question isn't fat at all and both people and everyone else knows it