Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Amateur Night

My best friends husband coined the phrase, Amateur night for New Year's Eve.  I adopted it, because it is perfect.  New Years Eve is an international excuse for normally logical well mannered people to be stupid.  Not that I haven't been stupid on New Year's Eve or other nights, but on New Year's Eve the stupidity is rampant.  All kinds of people who typically never drink go out and decide that it is New Year's so you must get sloppy.  Hence Amateur Night.  

I, myself, am not a fan of the holiday.  As a kid we always went up to my aunt and uncle's place in the mountains where we would play games until midnight.  Many times as an adult, I have done similar things gathered with friends to play games, hang out, no one drives anywhere, no $100/ head fee etc.  Just togetherness and fun.  The problem in LA is you have to drive everywhere. Henceforth, I volunteered to work.  A ready made excuse to not participate.  It isn't that I am not looking forward to 2009, or am in a bad place right now.  I am actually in a very happy place and happy time in my life.  The future looks great, I just am not a fan of the whole New Years Eve thing.  Still, I wish everyone a Happy New Year and please be safe, there ARE a lot of amateurs out there.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Very Merry Christmas

This year was a special Christmas, my brother's inlaws invited my parents and I to join them in Taos to celebrate. So we all journeyed to the VERY cold mountains of northern New Mexico where we enjoyed 5 days of wonderful hospitality and family togetherness. I got to ski for two days in amazing powder, but couldn't see much because of the snow. We all enjoyed a white Christmas, and many board games.

Sunset over the mountainside

Girls v. Boys snowman contest on Christmas day- it was a tie as voted by our partial judges

Addie on skis.  She is getting pretty good.

Owen heading down the slopes.   

The adults enjoying post skiing margaritas while trying to thaw out and before getting the kids out of ski school.

Thanks to our gracious hosts for a wonderful Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Birthday Poisoning

I never used to believe that it was possible to lose the ability to tolerate certain foods.  I have a friend who used to be a vegetarian and she would claim that eating things with even a hint of meat in them would make her sick because she hadn't had meat in so long.  I laughed at her. I thought that line of thinking crazy, but nonetheless when she came over for dinner I would cook the meat in a separate pan out of respect.  For months now, I have been eating super healthy- very little salt, minimal processed food, pretty much no refined sugar, only whole wheat bread and pasta and only that rarely.  I pretty much eat nonfat yogurt, chicken, fresh fruits and vegetables.  You get the idea, but this was my birthday weekend and the people at work got me a princess cake.  This thing was beautiful-  white cake with mascarpone cheese on the inside, white frosting, topped off with some kind of marsipan thing.  Sugar on top of sugar on top fat and sugar.  I ate a piece it was delicious.  I felt a sugar rush and then CRASH.  Within 15 minutes, my friend said he could see it in my eyes- serious crash.  I was weak, dizzy, nauseous, couldn't focus.  It was awful.  I tried eating something healthy to feel better no luck.  4 hours later, I still felt like hell, so I decided to go for a run since eating good food wasn't helping. Finally I felt almost back to normal, my trainer claims that is what I should have done in the first place.  Seriously, bad.  No more cake for me. I truly felt poisoned, ick. 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me

Happy Birthday to me, happy birthday to me.  It has been a weekend of birthday celebrations.  I am looking forward to this coming year with all of the good things that are happening in my life.  So, I am joyfully celebrating this birthday with friends and family, but wishing that those of you too far away to celebrate in person were closer by.  

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Happy Blogiversary

In addition to this being the week of my birthday it is also the second annivesary of my creating this blog with this post. In writing this little blogiversary post, I reread that first post I ever wrote and it got me thinking.  I started this blog at a dark time in my life, at a time that I thought I might lose my leg because of my diagnosis.  I was scared and needing to let it out.  My blogsite is 1goodfoot, because that was what I had and I feared that might be all I'd have.  I am glad that I have chronicled this whole event, but some of it is still really hard for me to read.   I know I lived it, but I want to forget.  Rather than bemoaning where I came from I want to celebrate where I am now.  In the next few posts, I am thinking about detailing how I went from 1 good foot to 2 stronglegs and find myself here in the best shape I have been in years.  Stay tuned, but first I have a birthday to celebrate.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The sisterhood

The other night I went out for sushi with 3 of my single girl friends.  All of us are in our late 30s/ early 40s.  We sat around the table eating our edamame discussing the usual- guys, dating, work, life when one of the group got serious.  She informs us that she is now 1 week into radiation for breast cancer.  They caught it really early, she had a successful lumpectomy.   Not the usual single gal dinner chat, but then as I looked around the table, I thought of giving the response that the girl sitting across the table gave to me when I told her of my diagnosis 2 years ago-  The simple "welcome to the sisterhood."  I still remember her saying it.  It wasn't pity or fear she was sharing with me, it was friendship, welcoming, and an understanding that you only have if you've been there.  I hope that we were able to share that kind of welcoming to our friend.  

Then on further reflecton, we all realized that oh man-  here we are 4 single women in our prime, and 3 of us have had cancer in 3 different forms.  All of us were diagnosed early and have good prognoses, but one of us has already had a recurrence.  We all are healthy appearing, vibrant young women, none of us has that "woe is me" thing going, but yet how?  That is rhetorical , obviously.   It seems to me that you keep hearing more and more about younger and younger adults getting diagnosed.  I like to hope that it is because of better screening leading to catching it earlier, but I don't know.   I thank goodness for public awareness about mammograms that caught my friends tumor at such an early stage that she has an excellent prognosis.  I am thankful that she, who had a lot going on in her life at the time, didn't cancel the appointment as so many (including myself) do.  Thus, giving her the best chances possible.  I continue to encourage everyone to get their own screening done- please

This post is dedicated to you my friend-  may health and healing follow you and may you know that people are thinking of you.-  Lisa

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Karma Rocks

I have many amazing friends, I am blessed that way, but I am thinking of one of them today.  She is one of the strongest women I know.  She has worked in Illinois government since we graduated from college, rising through the years to become a senior policy person for the last republican Lt. Governor of Illinois.  When their administration was coming to a close she moved to a new a job in the Illinois government.  When the new governor, Rod Blagojovich, took over, one of his first things that he did was fire all senior staffers from the old regime still working in the government, including my friend.  He fired them publically, in a news conference and then printed it in the Chicago Tribune.  I read about a few hours after she told me.  Today he got arrested for trying to sell Barack Obama's senate seat for his own personal gain.  Here is what she had to say about that.  Her post is all about feeling guilty for smiling all day.  However, I am right there with you.  Smile on, girl

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Day Before Thanksgiving

It's the day before Thanksgiving and all around the country people are scurrying to cook turkey and all of the fixings.  This year I am joining in the fray, sort of.  My parents house is still under construction and I volunteered to have the family meal as I am thankful for my new "fully functional" kitchen.  Just as I relish in the functionality of my new kitchen it throws a giant road block my way.  Further, I am missing out on the day before food prep because I went to work before 8 am and I am incarcerated in the hospital until 8 am tomorrow. So last night, my sweet mom and I made the cornbread for the stuffing, did all of the peeling and chopping of vegetables, etc.  Only to discover that my sink got clogged up and no amount of plunging or running of the garbage disposal or drano would unplug it.  So, as we prepared for bed my mom asked what she could do to help- I replied, just get the sink and garbage disposal functional by the time I get home from work, oh and take the turkey out so it can finish defrosting.  The thought of preparing Thanksgiving dinner without the use of my sink is just more than I can stomach.  Please wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

All is Good

I have completed my series of tests and all is good. Yeah!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's That Time Again

I'm back in NYC for my every 6 month check up and scans.  I wish that I was a better writer because then maybe I could describe how I feel about these apts, but as it is I do the best I can.  I pretend that these visits to NYC are pleasure, I fill them with social visits.  I smile, I laugh, I look normal, but .....  underneath it all is the everpresent fear that I might get bad news.  I have known the odds from the beginning and while they are in general in my favor, the risk that my disease will come back or spread isn't zero, not even close. The results if it does- Catastrophic.   So, I head to MSKCC, today, I'll have my MRI and run on a treadmill for my exercise testing, tomorrow they PET/CT practically my whole body then I see my doc.  I'll know the results by then.

Wish me luck

Friday, November 7, 2008

The economic ills

So, as I've said jury duty is a big sociology experiment. It is a window into many different ways of looking at things. Our jury was economically mixed- successful people, those out of work, those scraping to get by. Every day a number of the jurors sat in our little jury room and complained about the financial impact of being on the jury, and the pittance that you are paid to be on a jury- $15/day. They complained about the price of food around the court house. How it was costing more money than that generous stipend etc. Yet still every day, I was the only one who brought my food. I brought two or three snacks and lunch every day.  I would spend my lunch hour happily eating lunch, reading my book and relaxing by the fountain that I used to  walk to lo those many years ago when I worked for an LA law firm in the LA Law building.  My point is not my trip down memory lane, but that I was the only one who didn't buy my lunch and breakfast and Starbucks coffee every day. I was getting my usual salary, yet I brought my food. I listened to all of these people bemoan the economy, yet they paid $10 or more for lunch every day. It is small thing, but the ills of our economy are based on this kind of action. People spend beyond their means, and then want to bailed out. These people wanted a bigger jury stipend, but wouldn't do simple things like decrease their expenses. There are countless examples of this kind of overspending, and more taxes and more big Wall St bailouts aren't going to change this simple problem.

 My friend's sister who is a very talented economic journalist wrote an Op-Ed piece for the NY Times a few weeks ago about this theme, and how the blame for the financial crisis lies in both Wall St and Main St because of overspending and over-borrowing, and then she got hate mail. People don't want to see or be told that there are in part to blame.  I hope that people can grow to see the need for renewed personal responsibility, but the climate seems to be going the other way. That makes me sad.

Monday, November 3, 2008

And So It Ends:

I am off of jury duty.  We deliberated for exactly one hour before we all agreed on the case, and this was a civil trial so we didn't even all have to agree.  My faith in people is restored.  I feared that there would be very different takes on the information, but no we all heard the same thing and came to the same conclusion.... Keanu Reeves was innocent.   Yes you heard it right, I just spent a week sitting on the jury of the trial where a papparazzi sued Keanu Reeves for damages and medical bills after he alleged ran over him with his car after Mr. papparazzi refused to get out of the way while trying to get a picture of the star.  Um, hello get over yourself.

Seriously, this is part of what is wrong with our legal system, this guy couldn't manage to tell the same story twice while KR never changed his tale that he hadn't hit the guy. My dad always said his memory isn't good enough to lie and clearly neither is mr paparazzi's.  Plus there was no evidence to support the paparazzi's claim.  Further, the accident happened because papi dude refused to move once Reeves car was turned on, then he backed up, fell over complained of injuries that he didn't have, but did have an xray which showed an old injury, that he then tried to get KR to pay for.  Why oh why, did I have to waste 6 days of my time to listen to this drither.  In my opinion, if you file a silly lawsuit like this, you should then have to pay the court fees for hearing the case.  Maybe then our judicial system could actually catch up with the court backlog, there would be fewer silly lawsuits and we wouldn't all have to live in such a litiginous society.  

Further, why is society so obsessed with seeing celebrities going about their everyday lives?  Why is that news, why do we treat it as such?  After having spent 6 days listening to all of this, I vow that my actions will support this claim, and I will not financially support this business that prays on celebrities and then sues them when they get hurt.  Not that I ever did, but now I really won't, I promise

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sociology Experiment
Or Jury Duty Day 4

I have decided that a jury is one big sociology experiment.  You take 12 people who don't know each other and have nothing  in common with each other and put them together for days on end.  Then tell them that they can't talk about their only shared experience, the trial (which is full of so many things that you want to talk about, but can't), and then you watch and see what happens. I am starting to wish that I paid more attention in sociology in college, because the group dynamics are very interesting.   So far it has all been quite amicable.  Everyone is respectful and kind to each other, people bring snacks etc.  Yes, there are little cliques forming, cliques that seem to be based on socioeconomics more than racial groups, but everyone is getting along reasonably.  Depending on how much longer this thing goes on, we'll see how this unfolds.  Stay tuned, and eventually when this is all over I'll be able to tell the real story and it is entertaining, I promise.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Civic Duty

The justice system of the US is based on the concept of trial by a jury of your peers.  I have previously served on the jury in one criminal trial and although it was very straightforward, I appreciated for the first time what a truly powerful criterion getting 12 people from 12 different walks of life to agree on something is.  I know a lot of people will say and do anything to get out of serving on  a jury, but I do think that it is an important thing to keep our justice system alive, and that if I ever had to be on trial, I'd want some smart people on the jury.  So, now once again I find myself sitting on a jury, this time in a  civil case.  Let me tell you it is the kind of case that probably only happens in Hollywood and when it is done, I'll tell you all about it.  Til then I'm a civil servant I guess.  The good thing is when you are on a jury you get breaks, you get a lunch break, and you work banker hours.  This is all much easier than my regular job.  

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sheryl Crow

The concert Friday night was amazing. All of the tickets were General Admission, so my friend Lori and I made a bee line for the front and wound up about 3 people away from the stage. They definately didn't fail to impress. Good time and hopefully good money raised.

These pictures were taken from my iphone which does not zoom and does not have any settings, aside from point and click. Definately gives you an idea of how good our spot was. Worth it indeed

Friday, October 10, 2008

Save Lids Save Lives

Alright, I know that this post is going to infuriate my online friend, Jeanne, and she might even disavow our cyber friendship, but....

Sheryl Crow, who is one of my favorite female rockers (or really just rockers in general) is giving a free concert tonight a few miles from my house in honor of breast cancer awareness month. The entry fee is to have been able to get tickets (no small feat), and then to bring 10 Yoplait "Save Lids to Save Lives" lids. OK, cause marketing is not something I support. The whole idea that a company uses peoples fears about certain diseases or conditions to boost their marketing is just not something I can really get behind. However, the awareness about getting people to have screening tests when breast cancer like so many other cancers is so much more treatable when caught early. That I do agree with. I could go on, but others can say what they feel so much better.

So back to Sheryl Crow, she is awesome in concert and when given the opportunity, I couldn't pass it up. Also, this gives me a chance to comment on her song "Make It Go Away" which I have wanted to do for awhile. When I got her new album Detours, and saw that she had a song subtilted "Radiation Song". I thought oh dear, here goes another mass media thing that is going to make me feel like I have business in the "cancer survivor" club, but this is Sheryl Crow- the woman who wrote- "All I wanna do," "If it makes you happy," "soak up the sun," etc. right. Surely she wouldn't write some sappy I have cancer woe is me, the world is against me song, right? So, I listened with my skeptical ear and was blown away. If I had the talent to write a song about how I felt during radiation, it might have come out just like hers did. (My friends are laughing because musically talented I am not and I CANNOT SING, but I digress) It has anger and fear and optimism tied up with a metronome beating away in the background, sounding a little bit like a slow radiation machine and a lot like time ticking away. The song is raw and brilliant. I love it. I'll see if I kind find a UTube video to post.

So, alas, I am giving in and buying yoplait and happily going to this concert tonight. Details to follow. I apologize to all those I know who are aghast at the idea of all of the pink marketing in October, but it's Sheryl Crow- need I say more

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Squirrel Saga Continues

So, you thought that getting the squirrel out of my closet would be the end of the squirrel game didn't you. So did I. Or at least I hoped. Alas, no such luck for me.

Two days after the rat with a good sense of fashion was absconded from my closet, my air conditioner unit stopped working. The little thermostat was flashing that it had no power. Undaunted, I investigated the unit. I checked the plug- full power, no problem. I checked the connection to the plug, all good. I took the AC apart and my jaw hit the ground. LIterally, hit the ground. After, I was able to recover from the shock, I surveyed the damage. The wires (plural here, hello at least 10 of them) were chewed through. The filter had been knocked through ground. The situation slowly dawned on me. THE SQUIRRELS ATE MY AIR CONDITIONER. Are you kidding me? Seriously, this was too crazy to believe. Then he ate through the wall in two places to get out of his little AC hiding place and set up home in a bag of paper towels, where I found him a week ago Friday. I drove him from that hiding place. Left the garage door open so he would run to freedom, and cried.

Once I was done with my "why me" moment. I finally found a company to close off their access to my house, set traps etc. I called my cousin's husband who lucky for me happens to run an AC repair company. And we sat off to repair the whole thing. One week later, the AC is finally fixed (thank goodness, because it is supposed to be 96 degrees today), but somehow the heater is not. They are coming back out later this week to deal with that little situation. There are screens over all of hteir former entrances to my attics and traps set in various places. Full on anti-squirrel warfare is occurring in my home.

Therefore, I can't help but feel a new profound hatred for squirrels. When I saw one in my driveway as I backed out to go to work today. I wanted to drive over it with my car, and I am not a violent person, but my house feels like it was violated by these little rascals. UGGH

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

More on Squirrels

So, apparently there aren't so many companies that will help you with squirrels. I called around and got a lot of "we deal with rodents- mice and rats, no squirrels." To which I respond, a squirrel is just a rat with a cuter outfit, but nonetheless they wouldn't help me. My wonderful neighbor helped me get rid of it. We went at the thing, armed with long reachy things, thick gloves, long pants,a trash can and a lid. At sfirst he was hard to coax from his hiding place, but as we were posed and ready for action he ran at us and I screamed and fell over. Fortunately, he went up the wall. Ultimately, we got him into our trap and out of the closet. Nerves of steel I don't have. However, the crisis overted. I now have to find someone who will close off their access routes. The joys of owning a home.

Once project squirrel was resolved, I had to clean up after him. Apparently, he had been trying to make himself a nest out of a various arrays of wires found in the office closet. He chewed through three extension cords, an old computer cord, its attendent mouse (no pun intended), keyboard, monitor and speaker wires. (Good thing i don't use that computer anymore.) Given the amount of damage he'd done. I think he'd been there awhile. My house feels dirty now, I want to run around and sterilize everything. HMM- I need this to not be an appealing home for them anymore.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Unwelcome Guest


I heard a loud crash from my office two days ago. I never investigated because - well I didn't. Anyway, this morning, I was working form home when Sadie became very interested in my office closet. Smelling and pawing at the ground etc. So, I opened the closet doors to see a brown bushy tail sneak behind my vacuum cleaner. Sadie ever the brave dog, ran the other way and hid under my bed. I told the squirrel I wanted him to go away, but two hours later, he is still here. UCK
The company that did my fumigation said they only deal with other rodents- not squirrels. RATS- or better SQUIRRELS

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"Thank you for my life"

Last weekend, my hospital held its biannual NICU reunion in Griffith Park. It was a wonderful event that reminded me of exactly why it is that I do my job. I know I complain about the bad stuff a lot. The bad stuff eats at me, which is why I complain, but, as evidenced by Sat, the good stuff is so good it makes up for the bad. I just need to be reminded of the good more often.

Our patient reunion was a BIG event, lovingly put together by our wonderful nursing staff. There were around 400+ people there and many, many former patients. It was really nice to get to visit with the families and see how their little ones were doing often times years after leaving our care. Most of the time, I couldn't recognize the kids, just the parents- not shocking as the kids were babies when they left. There was more then one family where I had to ask the parents which of their beautiful children was with us. One family in particular was convinced that their NICU graduate, who was so sick with a bad viral infection at birth, must have gotten "smart blood" in at least one of multiple blood transfusions because they think she is their smartest. I don't know about that, but it was wonderful to see this little girl, now 3, who spent days on deaths doorstep, indistinguishable from her beautiful siblings.

However, the title of this post comes from a different family. This was a family whose little boy spent at least 6 months with us and his twin sister at least 2. During that time, I was the boys primary attending and got to bond with their wonderful parents. The little kids were born preterm with the boy having complex congenital heart disease on top of being preterm. Henceforth, why he was in the hospital for so long. He certainly had bad days, and days where we weren't sure if he would survive, but survive he did. They are three and half years old now, and while I was talking to their mom, the kids were running around us, playing some imaginary game that required a lot of jumping and tagging of benches, the dogs and us. They looked great, like any other set of three year olds, except that the little boy is definately small, but alas he is a veteran of 3 major open heart surgeries not to mention a few other things. As we concluded our conversation, their mom prompted them both to give me a hug and a kiss. She asked the little boy to say "thank you for saving my life". He walked right over to me, climbed into my lap, gave me a kiss on the cheek and said "thank you for my life." I got all teary. The three year olds change in syntax by just leaving out one word, is what I strive for in my job. I doubt if he got that, but it was still so touching. You see, saving a life- connotes to me, keeping someone alive. However, a life- connotes the appreciation and interaction of all that this wonderful world has to offer, a future, a loving family, and clearly for him great joy at playing with his twin. It isn't just that he is alive, it is that he is alive and thriving in a miraculous way. That at least is what it meant to me.

There are so many other wonderful stories from that day, as it was such a joy to see our former patients gathered in one spot. That should keep me going for awhile.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

You have to move out for 3 days
What to do?

Termites moved into my house. I wanted them out and despite my desire ot do so nontoxically, I gave in and got my house fumigated

Above is my house covered in its tarp while toxic chemicals were pumped inside. Thus leaving me with 3 days for Sadie and I to while away elsewhere. Sadie was easy, she went to the mountains with my parents. I decided to do nothing so simplistic. I took off on a brief tour of the southwest.

Day/NIght 1- I had to work. I had to pay for the fumigation somehow. I spent the night at the hospital and took care of my little charges.
Day 2 I wen tot my gradfather and did a puzzle with him and then loaded myself into the car and drove to Vegas where i met up with some friends. we stayed at the Bellagio and got to watch this out of out window.

Then we went across the street to Planet Hollywood and saw Sheryl Crow in concert. James Blunt opened for her and it was a fantastic show. Our seats were awesome and Sheryl Crow is amazing live. Then i played black jack.

Day 3- After wandering aroudn the strip for a little while I loaded back up into my car and drove to Lake Arrowhead. Spent the night there. Sadie helped me ski and we went for a hike.

Day 4- back home, dirty, tired just wanting a bath I discovered that the gas company had neglected to turn my gas back on like they were supposed to and i had to take cold showers. Hence the letter below. Oh well, my gas is now back on and i had a great weekend even if I drove close to 800 miles. It was fun. Thanks

Monday, August 25, 2008

Open Letter to the Gas Company

Dear Gas Company,

I hate you, you are incompetent. I wish you had competition.

Love, Lisa

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Maybe this is the reason

When I went through my list of can I do the following things again with my doctor- there was one things that both she and my friendly sarcoma doc both balked at, which was water skiing. The concern being that Lefty is strapped into a tight boot and might not come out if I fell putting too much torque on my poor little ankle. I didn't push the issue too much because I hadn't really been water skiing for a long time and i had really lost that skill not because of my ankle and surgeries and radiation etc., but because I let myself get fat and out of shape. However, over the past few months as I have watched skiers go around Lake Arrowhead, I started to long to ski again. I repeated my doctors advice to many people trying to not make me feel so bad and make me believe it, but I have to admit that I really wanted to try. Then a couple of weeks ago I had abunch of friends up to Arrowhead and I had offered to take anyone skiing or wakeboarding who wanted to go. After a couple of hours of pulling several people who wanted to ski (successfully teaching one who had never done it before), I really wanted to get in the water. Then the two people who were successful hatched the plan of getting up early the next day to ski on smooth water, so I hatched my own plan to ski again. I put my ski in the boat, convinced a friend to drive and off I went. Sitting in the water behind the boat ready to start I felt confident and happy. When I got up just like i had done it yesterday, I grinned from ear to ear. I swerved in and of the wake completely in control. Lefty handled it with no problem, and I rejoiced. I debated keeping it a secret because I didn't want to deal with people getting mad at me, but I couldn't. I am too happy about it. I even convinced my dad to pull me yesterday and my watching parents smiled too.

This somehow seems so monumental because this I got back through hard work and determination in the gym. I can water ski again because I have gotten myself back in shape. I work out on average 5 days a week, i have lifted more weight then I would have thought possible. I have done some crazy exercises and it is paying off. Today, the following thought occurred to me.... In the early days of getting my diagnosis, i felt that someday I'd realize the reason behind this whole thing. I believed that there was a purpose, if only I could find it. Now, I think maybe the purpose was to jolt me out of complacency at letting myself get fat and lazy and make me get fit. If that is to be the good that is to come out this, I'll take it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

My surreal life

My job sometimes has these incredible surreal moments. Things that feel like they are out of body experiences or just plan so strange that they must have been dreamed up by a Hollywood writer, but no they really happen.

Today, I was having a meeting with a mom whose baby is dying. We were talking about how there is nothing more that we can do for her and about starting to limit some of our treatments. The poor mom is devastated and alone because her husband is driving back from out of state where they live. Then all of a sudden the ground starts shaking, and only gets stronger. The poor woman grabs me with this look of horror in her eyes. "What else could happen today she asks" What else indeed...

There is no happy ending to this story except that the dad made it and didn't feel the Earthquake, and everyone else is OK. Another earthquake day in LA. I miss my school days when Earthquakes usually meant we got to go home early.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


The other day I was at a friends pool party/ bar b que. It was the kind of party where I only knew the hostess and her family, but not the other people there. Fine, I can make conversation with just about anyone. After swimming with my ankle wrapped in an ace wrap to keep the sun off of it, I hid in the shade as the rest of me can't take too much sun either and unwrapped my ankle and settled down to interesting conversation and a glass of wine. Then this nice woman whom I had just met asks me what happened to my ankle. I was about to give one of my non-answers when my friend replied, she had cancer and thought for a little while she might lose her leg, but look at her now. This other woman then says, something like- Oh you're a cancer survivor that's incredible. To which I had to take pause.

Cancer survivor- not a label I apply to myself. The very term seems off to me. The whole concept of survivor is final- like there is a great battle and you survived it, or some natural disaster, or some other calamity. My point being an event which you live through and then it is gone, but I am not so sure if I see my sarcoma as that kind of an event, since I still have to get all of these scans every 6 months and every morning my ankle reminds me that it isn't normal. Plus, the concept of survivor is that you were in danger of not living- right? Well that is something, I never ever considered in this whole event. I worried about how disabled I'd be, how much pain, how much of my active life style I'd get back, but no I never thought that I was not going to survive this whole thing. Therefore, to me- it is no surprise that I am here in better shape than I have been in years. So what to do with the label. My normal response is to ignore such comments, but nonetheless it got me thinking. Am I just an eternal optimist or do people not really understand. I never saw myself as a cancer patient, so I guess it isn't shocking that I can't see myself as a cancer survivor. Am I in denial? Hmmm

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I loved the showtime series Weeds. I became interested in the show one Saturday when KHOP had brought Kyle over for a gamewatch when he was a few months old. He fell asleep as she was thinking about leaving, so she had to stay and we sat around and watched 4 episodes back to back. It was a fresh take on the indebt suburban widow, deeply in debt with two kids to support who starts to sell pot to the city councilman. The writing was good, the show was funny, the acting was great. We kept watching. I set up TIVO to record it and watched the second season in the weeks after my surgery. I read the debates that preceded the third season saying that it was making drug dealing look to safe and easy, but it was just TV comedy. So, I watched the third season. It was darker and more dangerous and not as funny, but there was still good stuff. Nancy, the protagonist was getting linked with bad gangs and her children discovered what she did. She even got her teenage son working for her. The younger son was having serious emotional issues. That bothered me, but it was still TV, suspended animation, right? So, still I TIVo'd the beginning of the 4th season..

In the first episode it came out that one of Nancy's new gang cronies started a fire that devastated her nice Valley suburban town in order to destroy a competitors pot crop since he had attacked her kid. OK, in Southern California, wildfires aren't a joke. Then in episode 2, she moves the family to San Diego and starts drug trafficking for the same violent gang. Not to mention her younger son is clearly suffering and the older one is heading off in a dangerous direction. So, while I get Showtimes desire to make this show darker and reflect the dangers of Nancy's line of work. I feel like they are going too far in continuing to write a comedy about such things. These are all very serious issues and while comedy can be effective political satire. I'm not sure that this show is going in the right direction. I think it is coming off of my TiVo season pass list. Sorry Showtime. You went too far.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

That was then
This is now

So, finally I will post about my last trip to New York. Sorry for the long wait. I have gotten many emails worried that I wasn't posting because of bad news. Fortunately, that is not the case. Everything went well.

My friend V-L took the train down from Pittsburgh to hang out with me. The weather wasn't so good, but the company was excellent, so that was nice. It was great seeing V-L, getting to hang out with her. It was the fun part of the trip. I have previously posted how it feels odd to me that I travel almost 3000 miles for follow up, but on this trip I felt something different about it. For one thing it was incredibly efficient. I had two scans, another set of xrays and two doctors visits in 2days. It was a little exhausting, but at least well organized, and all of the news was good. My scans still showed no evidence of disease, and this perplexing numb foot thing is getting better, and no one is advocating surgery for now. Plus I got to stop PT after that so all is good. Additionally, going far away and having everything done in two days, makes this feel like my illness is in New York, it helps with the compartamentalizing of my life. Plus, I still really like my ortho onc. She is an unusual surgeon and she really listens to what I have to say. So, every 6 months, I'll go to New York- Fine by me. There are worse places to have to go.

The day before my surgery I took this picture in central park-

My mom has been wanting me to take another photo in the same spot on my last two visits, so when Vas and I walked past the rock we complied.

Plus, as I have written many times before I miss my shoes. So, I have now been given the green light to wear heels as long as they are comfortable for me. I walked into Jimmy Choo's and tried on these shoes and even Vas had to declare that they were Cinderella slippers. They felt like they were made for my feet. they are now mine. Forgive me.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


The first sports team I ever cared about was the Lakers. My parents took us to games when we were little and I used to sit on my dad's lap all dressed and scream "Go Yellow"- although I couldn't quite say yellow. Thus a love affair began. The only other sports team that I care about is ND football, and well I have only followed them for half my life. The Lakers, they are my sporting love. I remember gathering together as a family to watch the 80s Lakers- Celtics finals. I HATED the Celtics, especially Kevin McHale, really I challenge anyone who watched the infamous "clothesline" to not hate Kevin McHale. Larry Bird was like the annoying menace, so good you had to respect him. But then there was my team. I used to practice hook shots by the hour to try to emulate Kareem, mind you I never really got it, and Magic is like no one else. In my mind he still is the preeminent player. OK maybe Michael Jordan, but nah I am a Lakers fan, so Magic. What about the MVP you say? Well, he is great, but he is a spoiled numbskull, gifted with so much talent, yet full of histrionics, and named after a steak. So while I love to watch what he can do with a basketball, he doesn't match up to the others.

So it is finally back, the Lakers and the Celtics in the NBA finals. The preeminent NBA franchises with Phil Jackson aiming to oust the Celtics storied coach as the most successful NBA coach of all time and my Lakers aiming to recapture what they gave up in 2004 when they imploded. Game 1 tonight. Game on.

Monday, June 2, 2008

May Book Binge Results

Thanks to my friend Kim, I participated in the May Book Binge. I am somewhat surprised that I didn't read more, but here goes...

Thirteen Moons- Charles Frazier: The second book by the guy who wrote Cold Mountain didn't suffer from the second book curse. This story follows the trials and tribulations of a 12 year old orphan sold by his family to man an isolated trading post in Indian Territory in the early 1800s. It follows his life as he is embraced by the Indians among who he now lives with and ultimately becomes their "lawyer" then congressman through the mass "removal" of the Native Americans to the "New Nation" ie. kicking them off of their native land so that it could be sold. It is definately not a page turner, but a really good story, well written.

The Balanced Plate- Renee Loux (pp1-180) This is sort of a cookbook/ nutrition book so I am including it. Renee Loux is a proponent of the whole food and organic food movement and the first 180 pages of the book explain why. She is also an advocate of being aware of where food comes from. THe book part was well written and easy to read given what it was. INteresting and definately food for thought.

The Memory Keepers Daughter- Kim Edwards- My June book club selection. I won't write too much before discussing this with my friends, but this is a captivating story of bad decisions and how they can distroy people's lives. It made me cry, and yes I had to read the end twice in the first 50 pages to know where the story was going ( a flaw of mine).

LIlah- by Marek Halter (pp 50- end) THis is the third book in the Canaan Triology. A series of books written about famous Old Testament Women. This was my least favorite of the three, but all told it was an easy, interesting read. The first two- Sarah and Zipporah, wife of Moses were really good, I thought.

World WIthout End- Ken Follett- (pp1-150) This book is the follow up to PIllars of the Earth which despite being over a thousand pages is one of my favorite books. It was historical fiction chronicalling the building of the Salisbury cathedral. When I finished PotE I felt like I had lost good friends becuase that one took me so long to read. So far I am still gettting into WWE, but it picks up where PotE ended, and it is like refinding those friends. These books are low on action but high on wonderful stories very well written. I hope I am not disappointed.

Oh yeah, and- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix pp 300something to the end- I am rereading the Harry Potter series these days because when I finished the last one I realized, I had forgotten a lot. THey still are so good and it is interesting reading them knowing the end. You really realize what a good job JK Rowling did.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The End of an Era

After 22 months and over a hundred visits, I am done with physical therapy. This doesn't mean that I have no more issues with my ankle, it just means that I am as good as I am going to get. I was discussing being done with my friendly PT at my last visit, when he got teary. As I finished my obstacle course and prepared to ice my foot, he gave me a hug good-bye. I got teary. Then one of aides joined in, and another patient looked at me and said "How long have you been in PT." 22 months I answered immediately. 22 tumultuous months, and my PT has been there every step of my journey. I am so grateful for his help and support and that it has let me get to where I am now. When I talked to my doctor about stopping PT, she declared that my ankle might be stronger than hers. Probably an exaggeration, but there is no denying that my ankle is pretty strong now. So, Joanthan, from the bottom of my heart- Thanks

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Last night I saw them at the Hollywood Bowl and they were awesome.

Tonight I am going to see them at a Hollywood Screening

Soon I will update you all on my trip to NYC and follow up with my docs, but for now I am too busy trying to be Single and Fabulous!, not ?

Monday, May 12, 2008

How I spent my Friday..

I took Friday off of work and long ago decided to spend it with my godson to celebrate his birthday. I decided a couple of months ago that the kid really doesn't need anything, but I want him to know that we have a special relationship. So, I floated the idea of doing something special with him to his mom who suggested the Noah's Ark exhibit at the Skirball museum. This is a giant interactive exhibit made for the toddler to preschool age set. The kids can touch and play with everything. Genius

Kyle delighted in ringing the bell that was supposed to be the dear's heart.

He looked on in awe as he made it rain by pumping an old style water pump.

He filled the arc two by two with little animals and was so proud of the progress.

He climbed on the camels guarding the way into the pantry.

Then we go to the piece de resistance- the climbing area. Up and down and around he went.

On the way out he counted all of the snails in the garden, and I had to fight the fact that I am my mother's daughter and my first impulse is to squash the snails. When we finally left, he was so tired that he could hardly focus but very happy. A successful adventure I would say.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Book Binge

As my book club friends, who are getting tired of finding books that I haven't read, well know. I am a fairly prolific reader. So wen I saw Kim's post about the May book binge I knew I had to participate. I am currently readng 3 books simulatneously so we'll see how far I get. I'll keep you posted.

book binge

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fire Season Starts Early

The southern California fire season has started unseasonably early this year with the first major brush fire in April- Yikes. Anyway, last nights fire in Sierra Madre burned the hillside of my last hike. So sad to think of that lovely oasis burning. It also forced the evacuation of my hiking friends. Although the news this morning is that their house is fine. It could be a long hot summer folks.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I almost forgot

It has been so long since I have gone hiking up some unknown trail to a supposedly pretty destination that I almost forgot how great it is to discover a beautiful new spot. A week or so ago, I went hiking up in the mountains behind some friends house. We headed off for an adventure, and began our hike up (literally up- almost 2000ft elevation change in about 1.5 miles) and then headed down a trail to the sound of water. This is what we found.

Me resting Lefty by the river.

On the way back down

We didn't go this way

What a great way to spend the day. It made me so happy to be able to enjoy the random beauty of nature again. Thanks

Monday, April 7, 2008

Nice People

There still are nice people in this world, people who understand costumer service and at least one of them lives in the midwest.

I just got back from an exhausting business trip to Columbus, OH of all places. It was a quick trip that was all work, but that is OK. The trip was for a part of my job that I currently really like, but the travel stinks. The time change, the long plane flight, being packed like sardines in the airplanes, that is so not fun. Anyway, none of that is the point of my story. I arrived at the airport Friday afternoon about 50 minutes before my scheduled departure. I tried to check in at the kiosk, but it said I was "too early"- what? I marched up to the customer service guy and said your machine is broken, it won't let me check in. (enter 2 year old reasoning skills). Customer service guy responded, "the machine isn't broken your flight is tomorrow". Excuse me! I stared at him in disbelief as I channeled my inner two year old and said, "but I am going home today." Our conversation continued in this circular fashion for another 5 minutes, while he tried to explain that it was Ohio State's spring break and all the flights out of Columbus were booked. I stared at him in a shocked, deer in the headlights kind of way. When I finally had to accept the situation, I walked away from the desk in a defeated sort of way and started to make phone calls to find a way home. About 5 minutes later, the nice customer service guy came and found me on my bench and informed me that he had convinced his supervisor to release a seat for me that I could change my flight and go home on Friday. I could have hugged him. I couldn't believe that he had gone out of his way to help me. I was so thankful. When I tried to express this, he responded- "Well, you were so nice, but you looked so sad. I couldn't leave you stranded."

Thank you kind customer service guy in Columbus, I'm sorry that I forgot your name, but I am inclined to write a letter to the airline praising you for letting me go home.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How many miles have you gone?

I finished my taxes yesterday. I persist in doing them myself because- my dad helps me, they aren't that complicated, and I am a little bit of a control freak. Plus Turbo Tax makes it easy. Anyway, this past year I actually had enough medical expenses to be able to deduct them (well plus the fact that I was on disability for most of the year). Anyway, I dutifully read all of the supporting info on what could and could not be deducted including the per diem rate if you have to stay out of town for medical care. I followed all of the rules ( I hope). Then I got to the part that says you can deduct miles driven for medical care- huh. I thought about it for awhile, I plugged my address and the address of UCLA where I had my radiation and realized that it is 30 miles round trip and I went there every day for 5 weeks plus multiple other appointment. So, I grabbed my trusty calculator and figured that i had driven 2000 miles to go to and from UCLA a few million times. By then I was on a role. I went through my insurance log to figure out how many PT apts I had and how many times I went to USC and how many had my parents house as a starting point and I added all of that up. BTW- I had 60 physical therapy apt in 2007- yes 60. Plus many other apts. Total miles driven in pursuit of my own healthcare- >3000 miles. I was shocked. Who knew I had driven that much. Crazy. Thanks to the IRS for that revelation and for only letting you deduct 20c a mile which would barely pay for the gas at almost $4 a gallon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


This weekend the weather guy said it would rain- he lied- it was an absolutely gorgeous Southern California early spring weekend. Early spring around here means my garden needs lots of attention, especially since I fired my gardener last fall. This weekends project was to trim the vines that run along 15 ft tall retaining wall. This is no easy task which requires getting all the way up on a ladder and then balancing yourself at funny angles while trying to reach the top of the wall to trim it with my hedge clippers (the muscle power kind, not the power kind- I am afraid of those) 6 months ago, I was forbidden from doing this same project becuase they were worried about me falling off the ladder, this time I didn't ask, but i felt plenty strong enough to tackle the project now. The whole process took about 3 hours, when I was done my ankle was sore, in a stiff overworked kind of way, but I never felt unstable so it seemed successful. Several icing sessions later and all is good. Now I need to attack the weeds and mulch my citrus tress.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Work Stinks

I just feel like moaning. Some weeks I love my job, but this week- not so much. (I say this week because for me my week is 12 days long since I worked all weekend, so this really is sort of like Wednesday in some crazy confused universe.) Anyway, I am in search of motivation to make me like work again. Maybe I'll find it soon.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Just Like Riding a Bike- Almost

I did it. I had my first day of skiing on my new ankle and it was fantastic. There was a light snowfall all day making it not too cold, the visibility not too bad and a perfect dusting of Colorado powder on top of the packed snow. Ideal conditions for skiing, but not so great for photos. Last night i got my skis tuned and waxed, this morning I woke up with an exciting sense of fear- would I still be able to ski, would I remember how to ski. After a protein heavy breakfast, I headed out to the ski shop to get my newly tuned skis, the boots felt funny on my scar, but not bad. Up the gondola I went and then I decided to take it easy with some nice relaxing groomers and it was amazing. Just like I remembered except that my exercise routine has made it so that my thighs no longer burn in the skiing position, but my ankle only could do so much. I stuck to the groomers ( of course the blue and black diamond groomers), but I could control my skis, I could do it. I was so happy. Poor lefty pooped out around 2 after at least 12-15 runs, so I gave in and am icing Lefty before going to the hot tub. Then I have to proceed to the work portion of this trip. Still I am so happy to be able to ski. Thank you, thank you.

Friday, February 22, 2008

One More Dream

When I first started this road 16 months ago. I was afraid that my diagnosis and treatment were going to take away many of the things I love- walkiing, hiking, my active lifestyle, and skiing. I kept asking everyone about skiing. I had a long talk about it with the prosthesis guy, I have had several talks with my favorite ortho onc and my friendly sarcoma doc. Their opinion is that given the strength of the ski boot it would really be very difficult to hurt my ankle skiing, but no more water skiing for me. Thats OK I can live with that. Given all that, I have been obsessed with trying to get out on the mountain this winter. So, tomorrow I leave for Colorado for a work meeting that leaves 4-6 hours open everyday to ski. I have just pulled out all my ski stuff, I am wearing my boots while typing this. I am filled with a familiar sense of nervous anticipation. I can't wait to get out in the snow. I'll post pictures soon. Wish me luck.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Silence is Golden

Hello out there. I am still alive. I have gotten several emails lately asking about my lack of posts. I promise that the silence wasn't due to anything bad (except my having the flu despite getting a flu shot), but more just because I am back to work full time and busy trying to finish my home remodel, and not really in the mood to blog. Anyway, I am fine. I am at work today, but my kitchen is almost done and I will post pictures soon.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Why You Shouldn't Sleep Through an MRI

Now I realize that most who have had any experience with an MRI will probably laugh at the idea of sleeping in one of those incredibly loud slightly claustrophobic chambers, but I tend to fall asleep. I have had 5 MRIs in the past year and a half, and I have fallen asleep during 3 of them, but usually just that zoned out state of sleep where you aren't really sure if you are asleep or awake. However, last night I took it to a whole new level. I was post call from a nonrestful night in the NICU and my test was in the early evening. I lay down on the MRI table and dutifully put in my earplugs and off I went a short while later into a dream world filled with nail guns and jackhammers, as I was surrounded by that lovely MRi melody that sounds like they are jackhammering your eardrum even with ear plugs. Well, when my dream assailant starting coming at me with the nail gun I awoke with a start and almost jumped off the bed in the middle of one of the MRI sequences, thus necessitating that they repeat it because my movement messed up the pictures, and it was the longest sequence so I got to spend an extra almost 15 mintues with my ears getting jackhammered. So very fun. The MRI tech stated that he thinks I am the first patient to actually enter REM sleep during an MRI. Sleep deprivation will do that to a person.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
ie The continuing saga of my numb foot

I have been trying to come up with a post that explains how I feel about having just completed my first half month stent on service in 15 months, but I don't have the emotional energy right now.

So I am going to continue on with the tale of my numb foot. Yesterday I went to my friendly foot and ankle otho guy for exercise testing to try to determine why my foot goes numb and where the problem is. So, off I went to the ortho clinic in my exercise clothes. He examined me and then we went to the PT gym where I walked on the tread mill until I had symptoms (twice- about 15 and then 10 minutes). Then he examined me and we determined the following things: 1. The bottom of my foot is completely numb, 2. There maybe a vascular component to the top of the foot symptoms, 3- The site where the nerve is bothered is as it exits my poor little scarred inside of my ankle, and let me tell you his tapping on that nerve to confirm that was miserable.

Diagnosis: post radiation tarsal canal pseudo compartment syndrome- Psuedo because that isn't really a compartment except in me where the scarring from my surgeries and radiation has essentially created a compartment.

So where does that leave me

The good: Everyone is now on the same page- both of my treating orthopedic surgeons have reached the same conclusion and the same diagnosis

The bad: Back to PT for me. We are going to try noninvasive ways to break up the scar. So, I get to hang out with Jonathan more

The ugly: Both surgeons also now agree that it is very unlikely that there will be a nonsurgical fix for this. However, no one wants to rush into anything this soon after my radiation.

There you go. That is the state of the foot.

Monday, January 7, 2008

A Dose of Reality

Well, Today was a red letter day in the world of getting in touch with my various orthopedic doctors. As in I talked to both of them. However, the upside is not so happy.

My favorite ortho onc called me back today and listened to my tale of the ever progressive numbness in the foot. At the end she took a long pause and in that measured carefully regulated tone that sends the fear of dread into me she said- (rough quote here) " I am trying not to be pessimistic, but I can't imagine a nonsurgical option to this. I know that isn't what you want to hear." Um- right. I have been clear to everyone that elective surgery isn't likely to happen to poor Lefty again soon, but is this really elective? To answer that I think that you need to understand me which fortunately she does. I don't do well sitting around and going about my business- that is a one way ticket to a place I won't go. I need to be able to count on my evening walks and long hikes when I want them. It is necessary for my sanity! So, if a surgery can fix this then maybe I can deal with that. Remember I am saying maybe. Well, after my 15 minute conversation with her the upshot was that we need objective evidence of if this really is pressure building up in the compartments of the leg and for that I need to have some tests done- Enter foot and ankle guy who called me back about 10 minutes after I emailed him. Yes, he can do this testing. However, first he wants to examine me when I have symptoms, so the next step is to go the ortho office and exercise down the hall until the numbness occurs and then he'll examine me, and then we'll schedule the formal testing. Yikes. More to come....

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

D-day has arrived

14 and a half months after I went out of work on medical leave D-day has finally arrived. Yep, today I returned fully to my clinical work. Of course, only in my world can you be working over 40 hours a week and still be considered part time, but alas it is true. It is just like riding a bike except for the fact that I sit down a lot more than I used to. Nonetheless, it is a major thing. I am back.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

So long 2007
Hello 2008

Arivaderche 2007, Thanks for one heck of a year. I generally think that 2007 wasn't my favorite year, but still I appreciate all you have done for me. I swear that I love that I am healthier than I was at this time last year, but still I am so sad about my physical limitations that won't yet go away. I attacked last year with gusto. Full force ahead because I didn't know what else to do, but now my issues require a more formulated response, and I am tired. Yet still I am thankful to you 2007 you gave me a great insight into life. You gave me a perspective maybe I needed. You gave me the chance to rework a lot of things in my life, and most importantly in a few short weeks you will have given me practically a new house as my remodeling project is almost done. So to you 2007, I say thanks. 2008, to you I say, bring it on. I am ready

Happy New Year Everyone