February 28, 2009

The fun just never ends

Sorry for the long delay in posting, but you'll be happy to know that my medical terminology class is coming along fine.

What's that? You didn't realize I was taking this course? Well, neither did I! I certainly never signed up for it, but the past year has been a veritable bounty of medical knowledge for me: Meniere's Disease, Vasospastic Syndrome, etc. etc. just to name a few of the more exotic ones. At this rate, I may as well sign up for medical school so I can start earning more money to help PAY for all this knowledge!

This week's words are: Avulsion Fracture off the Distal Phalanx. What a mouthful, but I was very proud of myself because I actually spelled everything correctly when I went to look it up on the internet after getting home from the hospital.

So here's the story: For the second year in a row, the boys have been playing church basketball with the local ward, even though we're not LDS. Anyway, this year has been really fun as they are both very athletic and work together like a well-oiled machine (at least on the court - I don't know why we can't have that same camaraderie at home!), and it's been fun for me to watch and listen to the other parents as they praise my boys. The games have been much more entertaining than any NBA game I've ever seen, with both teams doing body slams, wrestling, etc. in their attempt to keep control of the ball.

Thursday is game night, so I rushed home from work so that I could get them back to the school on time for the start of the game. I pulled up to the school's front door and booted them out at 5:55 - a mere five minutes to practice before the start of the game! After dropping them off, I went to find a parking space and gather my half-time reading material together. I wandered in just as the game was starting and did my typical proud-mom-who-doesn't-really-know-squat-about-basketball routine: Cheering only when a basket was made because I know that's a good thing.

Our team played just as hard as usual, but couldn't score a basket to save their life. The ball would be thrown up, roll over the basket, and drop down into the waiting hands of the other team. It was quite painful to watch, but our team still showed their usual spirit.

After the game, the kids and I walked out to the Tahoe. Braden was a little subdued (e.g., not binging off the walls like he usually does), but I assumed it was because of their loss. As we drove home, I noticed him carefully removing a bandaid from the pointer finger on his left hand. I knew it hadn't been there before, so I asked what happened.

"Oh, just a bad jam," I was told. Apparently, during the warm-ups, somebody had thrown a wild ball which he blocked with his hand to prevent himself from being smashed in the face (although it still managed to create a small chip to one of his front teeth. Great.). His nail had been bleeding, so he got a band-aid from the coach and continued to play the entire game.

I turned on the dome lights to take a look. HOLY! FRICKIN'! COW! was his finger swollen, and lovely shades of purple to boot. At home, I looked at it more closely and had the sneaking suspicion that it was probably broken. Having just gotten done with a finger injury of my own, I thought about just using my splint and taping it. But that still, quiet voice inside told me I needed to have it looked at. After calling my mom to get another expert opinion to tell me what I already knew, I decided we'd indeed make the drive into town (25 minutes away). To say that Braden put up a protest is an understatement, and part of me thought I was going to have to hogtie him and drag him bodily back out to the truck. After bribing him with the promise of dinner at McDonald's, we were on our way.

The instacare in town closes at 8:00 so we had to go to the hospital emergency room, a place where Braden and I have together spent many a night ;). After the typically long wait (which is by itself going to be the topic of another blog in the next day or two), we got the x-rays and the diagnosis: definitely broken. On a side note, Braden and I had a small wager going on what the diagnosis would be. The good news is that I won; the bad news is that the 10-minute back rub he owes me will have to wait several months until he heals.

But I digress. The diagnosis of course was the avulsion mumbo-jumbo listed above. What that means is that when the ball hit his finger, the tendon that attaches the tip bent backward so quickly that it literally ripped off a chunk of bone. Can I get a great big Double-Ouch?!!! Because it involves not just the bone but the tendon too, healing is going to be a bit trickier than just a normal break, and if not taken care of properly can result in "Mallet Finger," another fun term to add to my list.

Anyhoo, wish him luck as we go to a hand specialist on Monday...

February 28, 2009

February 17, 2009

It can still make me cry

Years and years ago (roughly 17 to be exact) I was pregnant with my first child, Evan. One of the hit songs on the radio at that time was "Where've You Been?" by Kathy Mattea, who has always been a favorite of mine. During the emotional, hormone-laden days of my pregnancy, all it took was hearing the first three notes of that song and I would immediately burst into tears. I still remember the first time it happened. I was married to the ex at that time (obviously!) and I was sitting on the floor of our little apartment listening to the radio (just as a side note: I don't know why, but I have always liked to sit on the floor and I still do it. It just takes me longer to get up these days!). The above-mentioned song had barely begun playing when I burst into tears. Almost simultaneously, he came home from work and rushed to my side to see what was wrong. With tears literally streaming down my cheeks I sobbed while trying to tell him that I was crying because the song was so beautiful. I'm sure he thought I was a complete nut, but I remember just feeling so deeply touched by the words. I think that was the first time that I realized what weird things a child can do to you, both inside and later outside the body!

Kathy is still a favorite of mine, and tonight she just happened to be putting on a show at the theatre in town. Months ago, when I had heard that she was coming, I started finagling a way to see the show. The hubby is always too tired to go anywhere on a weeknight, so I knew that option was out, and I really didn't want to go alone. Fortunately, my friend Bonnie and I are always on the lookout for fun things to do and have been talking for six months or more about getting together to see something. The announcement about the concert came out during the Christmas break from work, and we both emailed each other the same day, almost the same time, to say "this is the one!"

Anyway, the show tonight was AWESOME!!! She has probably the world's most beautiful voice, and puts on a lovely, heart-touching show. And you know, that song still makes me cry!

February 17, 2009

February 14, 2009

Momentarily speechless

For the past several days I have been contemplating the power of words.

As a budding English major, an avid reader, and someone who likes to write a lot (yes, I know I write long posts - I can't seem to help myself. Why use 20 words when 200 will do just as well?), this is a no-brainer. Important words like "I do" immediately come to mind as life changers. The words we choose and the tone we use when discussing "delicate" things with our spouses can change the entire tone of our marriage. I love to read certain authors (J. R. R. Tolkien and Pat Conroy are two that come to mind) as much for the way they use their words as for the subject matter itself. Words have the power to make us laugh or cry, sometimes within the same sentence.

Last weekend I was asked by an old friend to write her a letter of support; something I am more than happy to do, and in fact have done for her in the past. The problem is, I am having a terrible time trying to decide just what to write that will have the affect needed. For the first time ever, I seem to be at a loss for words.

Years and years ago I had hired "P" as Savannah's daycare provider, the fifth she had had in her first 2 years of life due mostly in part to job changes, both on my part and that of the other providers, and at least one provider that neither of us (nor most of the other kids in her charge) cared for. In desperation after learning that this most recent provider was cutting back her hours, I called an ad in the paper that was advertising an open slot in her home-run daycare. I took Savannah with me and went to check it out. Her home was a cute little place I had driven past daily on the route I take to work and had always thought had "personality."

P, a single mom with four kids of her own, was one of those people that you instantly felt like you'd known all your life and could talk to about anything. I sat and visited with her for about an hour after I'd toured the daycare and asked all my "protective mommy" questions. The most telling moment was when Savannah, who was notoriously bashful at that age, bypassed me, held out a book to her, and promptly climbed in her lap to be read to. There was no question that this was the place!

For the next 2 1/2 years, this was where she went, day in and day out, and there was never a problem. She never cried when it was time to get ready to go there as she had done with the previous one, and oftentimes when I'd go to pick her up she would beg to stay for "five more minutes." Savannah flourished in P's home, and this was where she learned to write most of her letters and where she found her first BFF in one of the other little girls. For myself, I also loved it there. As I was usually one of the last parents of the day to pick up my child, we developed a habit of visiting each night and really became good friends.

Two years later, just a few months before Savannah was to start Kindergarten, P remarried and moved to a different city, and I once again had to find a new daycare provider. Even though this person came highly recommended and said all the right things when I went to interview her, it just wasn't the same. We made do throughout her kindergarten year, but we were both relieved when she entered first grade and no longer needed daycare. Anyway, not long after P moved, we lost touch with each other, and I've wondered often over the years how she was doing.

And then last weekend she called. Turns out that she had moved to another state where she's been for the last couple of years, once again doing daycare out of her home. Crying, she told me the rest of the story. Apparently, a few months ago a little 18-month-old girl in her care fell and hit her head hard against the base of the couch. An ambulance was called and she was rushed to the hospital where she later died during surgery.

I can only imagine the pain this has caused, especially for someone like P who has such a true love and joy for working with little kids. But then she told me the shocker: Three doctors did an autopsy. The first two have gone on record as saying that it was an accident, but the third has taken the position that it was abuse and that it could only have happened during the time that P was watching her. Anyone who knows her knows that this is the height of absurdity! I honestly have never seen anyone (completely including myself here) that was more patient and gentle with kids than she.

The letter she needs me to write is to be sent as a character reference to the prosecuting attorney who is trying her for manslaughter. I readily agreed to do the letter, but never before in my life have I felt so much pressure to "get it right." How do you convey in mere words what someone has meant to you and your family? How do you tell someone who you know is reading your words with jaded eyes how much trust you have in the person they're looking at as a villain? How do you console someone who has had the worst thing they can imagine happen, only to be accused of causing that pain?

I have started and restarted the letter a half-dozen times, but I feel so totally out of my realm. Please keep justice for P in your prayers, pray for her children who need their mom, especially right now, and of course for the family dealing with the loss of their daughter...

February 14, 2009

February 6, 2009

Leno's got nothing on Braden

Tonight, as I was scrubbing potatoes for the spicy potato soup I'm cooking for dinner, Braden came into the kitchen. Being the sweet-hearted boy that he is, he grabbed the potatoes and, WITHOUT BEING ASKED, started peeling them for me.

To illustrate an average conversation with him and his rapidly-bouncing mind (I swear he literally vibrates with energy, even when standing still in one spot), I record our conversation now for all posterity:

B: Okay mom, tell me a song you want me to sing.

Me: Ummm... (thinking to myself - what song do I NOT want him to ruin for me?)

B: Come on! Think of something country.

Me: Desperado

B: Desperado! Why don't you come to your senses? You've been out riding fences... (Sung as if he was giving an American Idol audition until SUDDENLY, like a Blake Lewis wannabe, the song turns into a beatbox version complete with dance moves).

B: Okay, now give me a love song!

Me: Groovy Kind of Love

B: (Launches into a 5-minute monologue wherein he is Delilah of sappy-love-song radio fame and her caller who is explaining her epiphany about love. I wish I'd had a recorder, because it was completely hysterical! He ended the monologue with the caller asking for "Groovy Kind of Love" only to be told by Delilah that she doesn't know that one.

B: Give me a different love song!

Me: You're the Inspiration

B: Thank you, but what song do you want? Give me another one!

Me: (Brief pause as I roll my eyes...)

B: Joanie, please say you'll wait for me... (this is a HORRIBLE old country song by Conway Twitty that he discovered a few months back that he routinely tortures me with).

As I groaned in disgust, he wandered off to the next amusement. Life here is never dull!

February 3, 2009

Memoirs of a Spelling Bee Drop-Out

What do the words "wiseacre," "beachcomber," and "vanadium" have in common? They are all three the words that have caused me to crash-and-burn in spelling bees.

So wayyyyyyy back in the day, I used to be a spelling bee whiz. I entered in the school spelling bee in both 7th and 8th grades and won first place both years, bringing home beautiful trophies that have long since been lost. However, I can still remember my English teacher showing our class the trophy that first year. Never had my heart desired a single object more! As I wrote earlier, sports were NOT my thing (what with my inability to walk straight), so if I were ever going to win anything, spelling would have to be it. I promptly signed up, took my word packet home, studied my guts out by copying each word down 5 times each in a notebook, and I endlessly harassed my mom to quiz me (thanks Mom, for being such a sport!).

Once I made it past the school spelling bees and went to the district competition, I still did well. The first year, I came in third place, losing on the word "wiseacre," something I had never heard of before. Ah well... at least I had my school trophy and a lovely certificate to show how far I'd come, but I was disappointed to have dropped out so close to being able to go the state competition (only the top 2 moved on).

The following year I was primed to win again. Once again I won first place in the school competition and I was pumped up and ready for the district competition. Unfortunately, the school I went to was in a pretty small, tight-knit certain-religious community, of which I was not. I won't say that there was outright prejudism by most people, but I will tell you that when it was time for the district competition, I was the only student who was told not only the wrong address for where the competition was being held, but even the wrong town. And this by the teacher who happened to talk A LOT about this particular religion in class and who knew that I was not one of "them."

That evening my family bundled into the car, drove the 15 miles to the other nearby town that we had been told was the place, and arrived to a completely empty parking lot and a building with all the lights turned off. After driving to the other school in town just to make sure we weren't confused, we flew the 15-miles back to the town we had started from, back to the high school it had been in the previous year, and what do you know? That parking lot was quite crowded! My mom dropped shy, 13-year-old me off at the front door with instructions to hustle, hustle, hustle! I ran in only to find the spelling bee already underway.

I made my way to the judges table. They originally told me that because I had already missed the first round, I was automatically disqualified. By this time my mom had arrived. To say she was ticked is the understatement of the century, so they relented and let me enter with the admonishment that I would have to spell two words in a row my first time up to the microphone. That seemed fair, so that's what I did, spelling both without a hitch. The next time through I also had to spell two words, this time because they had "mispronounced" the first word, even though I had spelled it correctly. This went on round after round until I was in the bottom three, once again.

At that point, I panicked. I had spelled many more words than the others at this point, and it was fairly obvious that I was being treated differently than the other contestants. Up to that point I had maintained my composure really well, but I finally gave in to a little paranoia. When the word "beachcomber" came up, I was convinced that it had to be a trick, it couldn't possibly be as easy as it sounded. I spelled it "beEchcomber" thinking that it must be something to do with the trees. Finally, I was out, once again in third place and not making it to state.

I have tried to not be bitter about this, and mostly I succeed. But every year, when the Scripps-Howard spelling bee hits the news, I can't help but wonder how I'd have done had I made it to state.

Several years ago at the university I entered a spelling bee being held for fun and a very nice grand prize, and once again I came in, you guessed it: third place. Today I entered again. The prize this year was a new MacBook, and my little heart was just as excited as it was years ago for that sparkly trophy. Last night, Braden held a dictionary and quizzed me on it until he declared me ready to go. Come on baby, Mama needs a new computer!

Anyhoo... today I made it through the preliminary rounds, and I was ONE, STINKING, SOLITARY word away from making it to the finals when I was given this beauty:


"Huh?" What in the hell is that?

They used it in a sentence, gave me the language of origin, and finally the definition (chemical element with the symbol V and atomic number 23, just in case you were wondering), all to no avail.

* * SIGH * *

See you again next year...

February 1, 2009

They call me Grace...

When I was growing up, I remember my parents jokingly calling me Grace, although I don't recall if I understood why, exactly. I was also the poor kid in grade school who was picked last on any team, and I didn't understand why about that either (although it may have had something to do with the polyester pants I insisted on wearing in 4th grade because that was the kind my grandma, whom I idolized, wore). Needless to say, sports were not my strong suit, nor was walking a straight line, apparently. In my defense, I must brag, I was one heckuva pogo-sticker!

Anyway, now I get it.

When I was married to my ex, one of the things that used to drive him nuts about me was the fact that, when walking down a hallway, I tended to hug the wall just a tad too closely, making my wedding ring clink. Until he said something about it I hadn't really noticed. Since then, I have noticed more and more, and I tell people that I'm "spatially retarded." If there's a wall available for me to smack into within a 5-mile radius, you can guarantee that I'll find that baby and deliver myself a glancing blow.

My favorite is my desk at work. There used to be a keyboard tray attached to the underside where the computer sits, but it really wasn't set up to be ergonomically correct, so someone removed it years ago. However, when they did that, they failed to remove the runners attached to the side. Somehow it manages to sneak itself forward, millimeters at a time, unnoticed by me until I swivel my chair around to leave my desk, upon which it attacks, delivering a breath-sucking stab to my thigh. I can also count on running into the corner of my co-worker's desk at least once per day, just to make sure the bruises are equally distributed on both legs.

The last few weeks I have reached record lows with my gracefullness quota. As I reported in an earlier post, about 6 weeks ago I broke my toe. I have faithfully hog-tied it to its neighbor toe and have worn nothing but sensible shoes for 6 long weeks now. Unfortunately, I think I keep rebreaking it, because at least once a week I will stub that foot into something, and I'm not bright enough to keep my shoes on in the house to protect it. I tried bending it today, knowing that most broken bones heal after 4-6 weeks, but it still hurts almost as much as it did the first day.

About 2 1/2 months ago I managed to jam my pinky on the right hand, I'm not even quite sure how (probably just walking down a hallway!). It never has felt better, but it wasn't getting worse either, so I just let it be. Then, about 2 weeks ago it started hurting like nothing I've felt before. The slightest bump was enough to bring tears to my eyes, and lifting the laundry out of the washer was unbearable (too bad I couldn't use that to my advantage!). I finally went in to the doc 10 days ago for ex-rays. The good news was that it's not broken; the bad news is that I probably screwed up a tendon somehow. They put it in a brace and sent me on my way, but true to form, I still manage to bash it into things. And typing has never been quite so entertaining! It adds a new challenge at work, at one of the busiest times when I could really do without...

Then today. Today I have been a klutz of epic proportions.

I started the morning off with bumping the finger. Then, when leaving the bathroom, I somehow managed to SLAM my elbow into the corner of the towel rack, right on the funny bone. It literally took my breath away and once again brought tears to my eyes. Later, watching the Super Bowl (I'll be honest - I only watched the commercials - no matter how hard I try to care, football always bores me to tears), I stood up to make a snack run and managed a glancing blow to my hip on the corner of the table. I had promised the boys that I would watch the game with them, so I used the time in captivity to work on scrapbooking. I have a cabinet that has all my scrapbooking supplies gathered together, so I kept making excursions into the other room to grab some other supply that I needed. Sadly for me, the two doors on the top shelves do not want to stay latched. I bent down to find paper on the bottom shelves, and then quickly stood up after I found what I needed. Of course, as you may have guessed, the upper door had popped open, so I brought my head up full force into the bottom corner. It was so unbelievably stupid that all I could do was laugh hysterically as tears ran down my cheeks. Whether they were from the pain or the irony, I don't know.

Padded room, anyone?