Metric Centric

I have never been a big fan of going to the Doctor.  In fact I have managed to evade the whole process for more than 13 years other than an occasional drop in for antibiotics for a bout of the flu.  But as I saw another year in my 40’s coming around, I decided that it was time to get a clean bill of health or find out if something was wrong and get an early notice of life expectancy.  It didn’t happen right away but I finally made the appointments and subjected myself to “the annual physical.”


Did I mention I don’t think much of Doctors?  They have waiting rooms full of sick people flipping through outdated magazines and transmitting their unknown diseases to the pages of last season’s interior design fashions.  They have tests you can’t study for and results you can’t understand.  They have invasive tools and unflattering gowns.  And they inevitably can’t finish anything in a single visit…you have to keep going elsewhere for reasons not fully explained.  At the end of the day they recommend a pill or a surgical procedure that is sure to have some unspeakable side effect or an unreasonable extended recovery period.  And to accompany all of that mish mash of disagreeable experience, they generally have no sense of humor and they are always running late.


My initial trepidation was relieved with a very flattering blood panel score that left me boasting to any one who would listen of my cholesterol and triglyceride panels and an unexpectedly ideal blood sugar level.  Who knew that someone with – shall we say – my weight fluctuation history – and less-than-perfect diet regimen would get such a glowing report?  And a thirteen year gap in that special “female” exam rendered an equally unexpectedly pleasing result.


It was the much dreaded mammogram sequence of events that brought me to my knees and left me reeling from the possibility that I might not be invincible.  A wise friend recommended that I not go alone but I felt I was up to it and initially waived through. 


But I got the “call back”. 


Some of you know what I’m talking about.  They try to lighten their voice and act like it happens to everyone once in a while, but that call is a real show stopper.  Their insistence that I take the next available appointment didn’t make me feel any more positive.  And when the second appointment was completed I was gently and sensitively informed that I had a 12 centimeter mass in one breast and a 9 centimeter mass in the other – both with “malignant characteristics” – whatever that is.  The next step was to biopsy the masses and determine whether they were indeed – malignant.  My appointment was scheduled within days and I left the Radiology Center numb with fear.


How could I have missed a lump that size?  They were respectively the size of a softball and a baseball and I never felt a thing!  What an idiot I was for not getting checked sooner!


And then I went home and started the internet research process.  And I called everyone I knew who was ever in, of or near the medical field.  Even though I tried to keep the conversations light, I got just enough information to spend the next 48 hours researching every available resource of types, treatments and reconstruction options for breast cancer patients.  And I set my mind to be in control of my treatment like I had never micro managed anything before.  I would be my own advocate and I would tell them exactly how I would be treated before during and after surgery and treatment and recovery.


I was armed with a three ring notebook containing all my research, all available insurance coverage information and just enough legal ammunition to make one of them want to sedate me with something that would take out a rhino in one of those National Geographic documentaries. 


And then they called again.  My doctor’s office was unable to sign the necessary forms authorizing the Radiology Center to perform this necessary procedure because she was on vacation and the receptionist hadn’t brought any of it to her attention before she left for Maui.  They would have to reschedule until the following week.  And they were so so sorry.  They just couldn’t believe a doctor’s office could miss this.


Are you kidding me?


My sister in law was kind enough to verbally peel me off of the emotional ceiling and share my insult and then I did what any neurotic control freak would do and I spent my extra week of torture furthering my internet research with a fervor usually reserved for lunatic fringe Al Qaeda terrorists. 


Yeah – you didn’t want to be the next medical professional I had an appointment with.


And then the big day came.  I put my withering fearful psyche into a tight bra and a bullet proof vest and armored myself with my ever thickening binder of R&D and headed to the Radiology Clinic.  Alone of course.  And not because no one could stand to be with me at this point either.  I just didn’t want anyone to see me cry.


Signed in and dressed for biopsy combat, the technician came in to give me an overview of what they were going to do and as she found my computer generated sonogram and started to point out my offending “masses”.


And then I heard it.  The most wonderful word I had ever heard.




Not baseball size.  More like pinkie nail size.




And I started to laugh.  Not that it is any less serious, but that it was just like me to not to recognize the difference between centimeters and millimeters.  I got the tail end of the metric system in high school and I was barely paying attention to much of anything then anyway.  I have never been much of a measurer – I sew and I cook and I eyeball what I think would be the right amount and then get a little extra because if a little is good, than more is better.


So I knew right then that they wouldn’t be scooping out my chest cavity with a backhoe and I took the rest with tears of happiness and relief.  They called with my fibrocystic results the next day and life returned to my normal chaos.


But I didn’t take all of the experience lightly and I didn’t fail to recognize that I have once again been blessed and put on notice that God has his eye on me.  He must have a sense of humor and he must enjoy occasionally pulling the rug out from under my carefully pedicured feet so that I can lie on my butt and remember who’s in charge. 


I want to thank everyone who prayed for me – not only that I would experience the healing of my body and a quick recovery, but for those who prayed for my sanity and that I would be able to hold onto the shreds that I have left as it is.  I am especially appreciative of those who listened to my “worst case scenarios” and my extended reconstruction and recovery plan.  I appreciate the tears shed on my behalf and the love and care I felt from every email I received letting me know I was being thought of and prayed for.


And I can’t leave out a special recognition to my long suffering husband, Michael, who did everything he could to “fix it” including locating, acquiring and installing an expensive adjustable bed so that I could recover in the ultimate comfort.  I am sure he never expected to have the pleasure of my unfettered panic mode in full display – everything he loves about me exposed in a very unflattering light and some of my less attractive traits surfacing so loudly and lastingly.  I am sure if he thinks about it long enough he will give serious consideration to taking a vacation alone during my next real or imagined health crisis. 


I am very grateful to be in such good health physically and I am recovering from my completely self inflicted emotional and psychological trauma and I intend to live each new day to the fullest with a special thanks to God for giving our scientific community a metric centric tool that few of us in the non-medical field that are “of a certain age” understand.  I would like to also suggest that they start to use more understandable terms – like “pea sized”, or “marble sized”, or “golf ball sized”.  Perhaps even have a couple of cans of Playdough to demonstrate what they are talking about.


Am I asking too much?

Whenever I Say Your Name

I love Michael.

When I think about him I get a little shiver.  When I see him I get excited – like a kid I get excited.  When I kiss him “Goodbye” or “Hello” we almost always linger a little – not always – but enough to know we are lingering. 

He makes fun of the way I make up lyrics to popular songs when I sing with the radio and it makes me do it on purpose to hear him laugh at me.  His laugh is like those soprano wind chimes to my ears.  I love to make him laugh.  

I make fun of the way he obsessively has a specific place for all of the things in the console of his car and can’t turn on the car until he knows that all the pens and lighters and tic tacs are in their specifically assigned places.  I tease him about the way he subconsciously squares all the staplers, the receipt book and the calculater with the lines of my desk at the warehouse.  And yet, as particular as he is about everything being just so, he can’t write down a phone number without transposing the numbers.

Michael has two speeds.  Off.  And High.  He can jump out of bed before his eyes are done opening, take his morning pills, start the coffee, turn on the computer, and wipe down the cabinets before I recognize that it’s even morning.  He multi-tasks verging on dangerous.   He has been known to change clothes while driving down the highway in torential rain while talking on the phone and reorganizing the back seat and changing a CD.  I am always glad he can’t really see well enough to add texting to his activities.  He eats lunch on the run or standing up over the sink and can hardly bear to sit down in a restaurant and leisurely peruse a menu.  We only eat in restaurants where he already knows what he is going to have before we go inside.  But when he finally sits down, he is usually asleep within minutes.

The love of my life turns over every nickle before he spends it.  A sharp contrast to my impulsive purchasing habits.  Our employees have to become accustomed to negotiating over their pay for a days work.  I agree with our policy of performanced based pay but he will calculate the milage and the fuel cost of each delivery while I value the tasks accomplished while under our direction.  I think the value of unloading a truck full of mattresses as being equal or greater to a single delivery while he regards the same unloading as a non-revenue producing task.

I make him crazy with my insistance on pricey pedicures, extensive waxing and lots of expensive hair and skin care.  I recently removed my acrylic nails and went natural.  When I thrust my hands in front of him to show off my perfect manicure, sans white tips, he only noticed that I needed to have my wedding ring cleaned.

He claims he is going to put a three sheet limit on the toilet paper.

When he bought an expensive driver (a golf thing) to get a free 3 wood, I wondered why he didn’t get a new putter since he always complains about three putting when he got the ball on the green in two shots less than 6 feet from the pin.

He is also incredibly smart and inventive.  He sees opportunity when others see nothing more than a closed door.  His fixation with getting past the door and grabbing the opportunity with single minded purpose is inspiring.  And if someone shuts the door he will just climb over the wall.  There is no stopping his enthusiasm and he never fails to finish something he starts.  Michael is a little like a hurricane sweeping through the gulf.  After watching him single handedly move every mattress and box spring in our Tampa warehouse from the back to the front because it flooded and then proceed to set up a system of crates and barricades to prevent it from happening again, our landlord commented…”Energy just spins around him, doesn’t it.”

I know that there is a reason we found each other.  I know there is a purpose for our union of heads and hearts and souls.  We were always both strong, independant survivor types before and somehow we have become stronger because we are together.  I am so proud of him.  And I so want him to be proud of me.  And I want to say his name again and again and again.

Whenever I Say Your Name    

by Sting and Mary J Blidge

Whenever I say your name, whenever I call to mind your face
Whatever bread’s in my mouth, whatever the sweetest wine that I taste
Whenever your memory feeds my soul, whatever got broken becomes whole
Whenever I’m filled with doubts that we will be together

Wherever I lay me down, wherever I put my head to sleep
Whenever I hurt and cry, whenever I got to lie awake and weep
Whenever I kneel to pray, whenever I need to find a way
I’m calling out your name

Whenever those dark clouds hide the moon

Whenever this world has gotten so strange
I know that something’s gonna change
Something’s gonna change

Whenever I say your name, Whenever I say your name, I’m already praying, I’m already praying
I’m already filled with a joy that I can’t explain
Wherever I lay me down, wherever I rest my weary head to sleep
Whenever I hurt and cry, whenever I got to lie awake and weep
Whenever I’m on the floor
Whatever it was that I believed before
Whenever I say your name, whenever I say it loud, I’m already praying

Whenever this world has got me down, whenever I shed a tear
Whenever the TV makes me mad, whenever I’m paralyzed with fear
Whenever those dark clouds fill the sky, whenever I lose the reason why
Whenever I’m filled with doubts that we will be together

Whenever the sun refuse to shine, whenever the skies are pouring rain
Whatever I lost I thought was mine whenever I close my eyes in pain
Whenever I kneel to pray, whenever I need to find a way
I’m calling out your name

Whenever this dark begins to fall
Whenever I’m vulnerable and small
Whenever I feel like I could die
Whenever I’m holding back the tears that I cry

Whenever I say your name, whenever I call to mind your face
I’m already praying
Whatever bread’s in my mouth, whatever the sweetest wine that I taste
Wherever I lay me down, wherever I rest my weary head to sleep
Whenever I hurt and cry, whenever I’m forced to lie awake and have to weep
Whenever I’m on the floor
Whatever it was that I believed before
Whenever I say your name, whenever I say it loud, I’m already praying

Whenever I say your name,
No matter how long it takes,
One day we’ll be together

Whenever I say your name,
let there be no mistake
that day will last forever

A Thousand Words

Michaels niece had a birthday party last week and invited us to come and celebrate.  Lauren is an amazing child – clever – well behaved – sweet – smart – kind – talented – beautiful on the inside and out.  I mean, really…where does this kind of kid come from?   The news always talks about school shootings and troubled teens holding up convenience stores.  She is so not that. 

After our dramatic fallout with Dereks mom and adoptive father, we have had no contact with Derek and I thought it might be time to try again.  I emailed Kim and asked her to allow Derek to attend his cousins birthday party and – after assuring her we were no longer having conversations with the “other side” – she agreed.  Michael picked him up and I met them at Laurens house.  I still don’t trust myself around the ex-wife.  Her blatant “moves” on Michael are still a bit of a sore spot and I don’t think it would be appropriate to yank her hair and smash her face into the side of a brick wall.  Well – it might be appropriate but I don’t think it would serve to further a healthy relationship with Derek. 

However – I adore my brother and sister in law – and they find me amusing – and their children are such fun to be around – so I knew it would be a good time.  We arrived and the party was already in full swing with Laurens mother, Susan, was making introductions and we were waiting for Michaels brother Steven to return from fetching the pizzas.  Michael turned to Derek and joked “Do you remember being here before?”  Derek looked a little stunned and then shook his head, looking a little confused.  As Susan gave him the big “Susan Hug” Susan always gives people she likes (note to those of you who don’t get a hug) we told her – laughingly – that Derek didn’t remember the last time he was there.  Susan didn’t even blink but gave him the big “Susan Laugh” and took him to a wall where – sure enough – there were several pictures of Michael and Derek from babyhood to Dereks 2nd Christmas.  She pulled a framed Sears Photo 5 x 7 of Michael and Derek off of a shelf and handed it to him and we all went over to this huge leather sectional and sat down in front of a table loaded with photo albums.  Susan is a semiprofessional photographer and snaps pictures of everything – especially of her kids – and has from the moment they were born.  

To say that Dereks curiosity had been aroused would be an understatement. 

Still holding the picture of him and Michael, he picked up photo album after photo album and saw himself playing in the very house where he now sat 10 years later.  Having barbecue.  Opening Christmas presents.  Sitting on something reminiscent of a Big Wheel.  Playing with his cousins.  Obviously happy.  Obviously loved.  Obviously with Michael.

Both Michael and I were a little unprepared for this, but we both had the good sense to just be quiet and let him process what he was seeing.  He sat with us for a bit until we called him for pizza – and he reluctantly set the picture down.  It only took about 15 minutes and an invitation to go play a video game before the consternation wore off and he was off.  Before long he was playing and smiling and having a really great time.

Derek has had a tough time since our first meeting in November.  His adoptive father was always physically and emotionally absent and he has become increasingly abusive since the divorce.  He lost his job and has pretty much spent everything he had and is in debt beyond anything he probably ever imagined.  He hasn’t paid child support in months and we think he might be having some substance abuse problems which are precluding him from being able to get back up on the horse that threw him.  His hatred for Kim – which I completely understand – consumes him and he is currently demanding full custody, blaming her for alienating him from his kids, drinking and driving with the kids in the car as well as insisting that Global Warming is her doing and that she is harboring Osama Bin Laden because he’s a great lover.  Their violent bickering and obscene name calling frightens the children and of course they think all of the drama is their fault.  Derek in particular – being in that awkward stage between a boy and a man – feels that he should “do something” and when he is with us he hates to leave and begs to stay.  Police have been called to both of the residences and they text each other with mean and hateful threats.  Of course Derek has been privy to much – if not all – of this behavior and the stress shows on his face.  We got one of his school pictures and he just oozes anger and frustration.

 derek and marcus

Today my sweet sister in law – Susan – sent me a picture of Derek and his cousin Marcus in the pool at the party.  What a difference.  Derek is smiling and happy and looks like a kid without a care in the world. 

A picture.  It says a thousand words.

To Shoes or Not to Shoes

STRIKER  What was the Question?


There is nothing that is more cathartic that the purchase of a new pair of shoes.  Especially if they are innappropriate, go with nothing you already own and were on sale.  If they are on sale, I buy 2 pair almost without exception.

Shoes can be trusted.  I wear the same size now as when I was 16 and that in itself means alot.  And I wear a size 8 which is a single digit and one I am quite comfortable with.  Also – my feet are a “perfect” size 8 – meaning I can wear the same size in any store, by any designer, in any style.  And a wise – much older woman –  once told me that a good building had to have a good foundation or it will fall over.  That made pretty good sense and even though I have occassionally fallen over anyway in spite of my inappropriate-sale priced-size 8 good foundations, I have always been able to spring up pretty quickly with very little damage…even pride wise – because I know when I do finally rise – I will look good.ITHIKA  A new pair of shoes will never make your butt look big or fail to “properly cover” what needed to be covered.  In fact, a pair of shoes is intended to show more than what you thought was appropriate. 

Shoes are a “feel good” purchase that is better than chocolate.  There are no regrets and no self recrimination later.  The “high” is long lasting and can be re-used later by going into the room where you keep all the stuff your husband doesn’t know you bought and opening the box and taking them out one at a time and just looking at them.  Ok – smelling them before you wear them is all right to do too.  That fine italian leather (or not) – is the same to women as the new car smell is to men with the added benefit that when they are no longer new you can get another one (or two) and not have to be ripped off by a mechanic or denigrated, harrassed and schmoozed by a salesman.  I like to wear them with my pajamas and a new pedicure. 

I don’t have a favorite designer – but I think Jessica Simpson has a gift that far exceeds her voice – that of having a guy who can really build some great shoes and letting her put her name on the box.  Her shoes embody the idea of innappropriate and they go on sale quite quickly upon their introduction.  Finding a pair that is not only comfortable, but stylish and available in other colors is like finding my own personal mecca.  Just short of a religeous experience.

And the box.  Ooh the box.  So many excellent opportunities to re-use and re-store other items.  They have great organizational properties in drawers and closets.  I always leave the newest pairs in the original box and rotate them into their final destination as the opportunity to accept new pairs into the collection arises.  SALOPEN

I have just returned from Dillards – which is my personal favorite shoe acquisition destination.  Great selection, great sales and plenty of assistance to fetch my perfect size 8 from the back room.  In fact – when I die I would like my ashes to be scattered in the back room of a Dillards store room where I can rest for all eternity amoung a delicious and constantly updated collection of Jessica Simpson, Gianni Bini and BG Maxaria (or whatever the name is). 

I only bought one pair this time – Michael was with me and there simply wasn’t time to re-think that other black pair with the red heel…But – still…I wasn’t sad for leaving them behind.  Because I know they will be there another time – in a different incarnation perhaps – ready to satisfy my need for the inappropriate.


Is This Reality?

Ok – I admit to being an avid fan of American Idol and Dancing with the Stars.  There – its out there now.  And even though Michael would deny it, there have been many episodes where I have heard the TV in the bedroom sync with the one in the living room as he changes from whatever professional sports challenge he may be watching to a peppy quickstep tune and I know he is watching some attractive and athletic couple spin a breakneck speed around the dance floor.  I “tsk tsk” with every minor footwork mis-step they make knowing full well I would collapse in a sweaty mess if I had any more physical activity other than running to the bathroom occasionally.  And – yes – I grimace when an aspiring idol doesn’t quite “hit” whatever note they were aiming for  knowing full well that if those judges ever made it to Karaoke at Applebees on every third Thursday of the month they would lift that 35 year old age limit and insist that I at least make a token performance before I walk away – record contract in hand.

But, yesterday, with the cards I have in hand,  I auditioned for “In The Shark Tank” – a reality show about people who have invented something and need someone to back them financially.  The panel members are all unbelievably rich self made trillionaires and have all experienced some form of unexpected entrepreneurial success.  We heard about it on the radio the day before and decided to – surprise – jump in and give it a try.  Michael invented a really exceptional mattress topper that is hypoallergenic, water resistant and adds a great deal of comfort to any kind of mattress and it really is a great idea.  We had Jimmy over at Regal Mattress Company make up a briefcase size version of a mattress and then made a topper for it so we would have something to demo and I wouldn’t have to lug around a real mattress.  We wrote out some “features and benefits” for me to use as notes and decided I should appear to be “Casual Florida Chic”.

It wasn’t anything like the American Idol auditions – no lines wrapped around the building and no crazy costumes…oh wait – I take that back.  There was a couple dressed as clowns…don’t know why…or what…

There were some characters though.  One muscle bound anabolic type guy had an idea for a website for men called “” where “men can be men without apologies” and if you sign up you get “man points” which you can turn in for a beer at the Wing House.  It had all kinds of testosterone based “calls to action” and actually had a “man-o-meter” where you can measure and assign a number to your “manliness”.  You got a membership card and a T-shirt and then you would have access to know who the “Man of the Month” was.  I believe this month was Dale Earnhart Jr.  Oh – and the really crazy thing is that you can do things to have your man card “revoked”.  I’m thinking that you wear a t-shirt into my house you will have your dinner revoked…as well as the warm spot next to me in the bed!

Another character had invented a toilet seat handle made of copper which he claims has anti bacterial qualities and was “easy to clean if – (seriously) something splashed on it”.  NO! NO! NO!  He kept trying to hand it to me and although I didn’t want to offend him, I politely refused.  Let’s just say that he was quite insistent and I had to spend some time in the bathroom – just me and a wire brush and some ajax.  I still think I might have something under my thumbnail…

I managed to easily secure a place in the second interview and whizzed smoothly through that process where I was then told I would be “taped” and the tape would be forwarded to producers who would determine whether or not I was able to get In The Shark Tank.  I thought I would be fine until the red light on top of the camera came on and then suddenly I was completely obsessed with completely random thoughts that had nothing to do with whatever it was that I had come here for. 

Why did I wear a beige bra under a black shirt?  Was it showing?

Did I look fat?  WHY did I eat those steamed dumplings the day before?  I feel puffy…

Was my hair hanging in my eyes and if I flipped it away would I appear to be a bimbo?

Did I have too much eye makeup on?  That is a sure sign I am nervous…I look like I am a MAC counter manager at Macys.

I forgot my name and where I was from and – for a moment – completely went blank as to what I had practiced I would say in the car on the hour long ride over.  Fortunately I was able to start and then it was just a matter of rote…I really don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to  mattresses but I repeat what I have heard Michael say all of it a million times and the words flowed a little easier when I got my “crutch underneath me.  I stumbled a couple of times but I managed to finished and then the sweet little camera guy told me to wave goodbye – which I did…quite impishly. 

As soon as the camera light went off I regained my composure and the camera guy volunteered that I had done well…and he didn’t say it as if he had been saying it all day for the last two days so I willed myself to believe him.  They said the next process was to weed through all of the applications and then all the finalists would be flown to LA to start the elimination process.  I hope I don’t get a seat on the plane next to the toilet seat guy.

All in all it was a fun experience and I enjoyed being able to dress up like a girl and have a day away from the warehouse.  

The Shark Tank might be the place for me…I hear they make good bait!

Diet Combo #1110

Dieting is the bane of my existence. 

I love good food which is ultimately bad food and I can never seem to get to a happy medium when it comes to indulging in my favorite past time.  In fact – in recent years I have even taken to secretly running through Taco Bell and taking it home to enjoy.  It’s like if I eat it in secret it doesn’t really count.  And I’ve never had a bad body image.  When we got Christmas pictures back from my in- was laws my first reaction was “Who is the fat person?”  Egads – it was me!!!  I always think I see a supermodel in the mirror and I liberally use the “The camera adds 10 pounds…” when looking at pictures.  We have a cheap Kodak Easyshare and I swear it adds 50 pounds.


I have started another diet.  I’m sort of using a combo of high protein, low fat, low carb, a couple of diet supplements, Slim Shots to quell my appetite and a fat burner for the fat that is not blocked by the Fat Blocker.  I have some Carb Blockers too but I am trying to exercise some restraint with all the pills.  Ha!

I am on day two and quite honestly, I do feel less bloated.  My goal is to lose 50 pounds by next Wednesday, but a local dietician tells me that will not be possible without eliminating some body parts.  Maybe I’ll start with cutting off my head since that seems to be where most of the problem lies. 

And I hate exercise that requires more physical intensity than crocheting an afghan.  Actually I never minded going to do the treadmill at the gym as long as I was hooked up to VH1.  Especially if there was an Earth Wind and Fire concert on.  That always seemed to make the time pass quickly.

Everybody always tells me that the perfect workout storm is to add a trainer to the mix, but I’m afraid that would be just one person I had to worry about not letting down.  Or worse that I wold get one of those drill sergeant types that thinks that the body is a temple, blah blah blah.

Well all I can say is that I’m going to do my best, stick with it as long as I can and report my successes here.

And if I don’t report…don’t ask how the diet is going!