Category Archives: Health

In Which I Go On Way Too Long About Glasses

I’m over 40. Actually, I’m 45, with a birthday looming in less than 3 months, which puts me quite firmly into my “mid-40’s”, much to my amazement.

And, as so often happens to those of us of a certain age, I’ve been wearing glasses, just when working on the computer or for reading, for the last few years.

I had sticker shock when I got my first pair – I forget exactly how much they were, but I want to say they were around $150, maybe more. I found out later that you can buy reading glasses for a couple of dollars at any drug store, and I did pick up a few pair that I keep at various places (work office, home office, bedside table, etc). But I have to say that I was never as happy with the cheapo ones, and I’m still wearing that original pair.

Then I found out about Zenni Optical, and when it was mid- December and I still had a bunch of money to burn through for my flexible spending health care account, I decided it was time for some new glasses. (Seriously, if you wear glasses and have not heard of this company, you really need to check them out.)

I placed the order, using the prescription from my last eye exam (from a year ago, that I never filled), on December 23rd. I ordered three pair: two pair of progressive lenses in different frame styles, and a pair of reading glasses. Total for the three was $99.85 (including shipping). I understand progressive lenses at a typical optometrist can cost upwards of $500 for one pair. Anyway, I got an email from them the following day asking some questions about my order — it seems I had entered some of the information incorrectly. But I was impressed to be asked and the care they took in educating me also.

The glasses arrived last Saturday (about 3 weeks, which included 2 major holidays). They each arrived in their own case, with a nice cleaning cloth for each pair. I excitedly tried them on. I love the reading glasses – I’m wearing them right now as I type this!

But I’m hoping anyone who wears progressive lenses can help me figure out what I’m doing wrong. I can tell that they are indeed “progressive”, with different viewing experiences as I move my eyes up and down. But maybe I don’t look down enough when working on the computer? I thought I’d like them so as to avoid taking my glasses off or peering over the tops of them when someone came into my cube at work or one of the kids calls to me at home. But the reality is…..they’re kind of a pain and not that easy to see with. Am I doing something wrong? Am I not a good candidate for progressives? Please, someone diagnose me without ever having met me or examining my eyes or viewing tendencies!

Random Weekend Thoughts

I’m not feeling up to a coherent post, but have a bunch of thoughts running through my head:

  • We watched Akeelah and the Bee today – what a great movie! I clapped in glee several times, and was reduced to tears several more. I had to stop it a few times to explain some of the subtler points to Krystal, but we all enjoyed it very much. If you have not seen it yet I highly recommend it!
  • Krystal has been complaining vaguely of a sore throat for several weeks. Because she has not otherwise seemed ill, I’ve mostly brushed it off. On Thursday she complained more vociferously than usual about not feeling well (this is a frequent morning tactic, but she always forgets/feels better once she’s started to do something). I told her to go to school, but if she still felt bad she could go to the nurse who would call me. Well, about 11:00 the nurse called. She didn’t have a fever, but was not feeling well. I took her home, where she got a burst of energy, and even admitted she wished she were still at school. Until bedtime rolled around and she had a slight fever. And then the next morning when it was a high fever. Mama called the doctor and the doctor said (no, there was no jumping on beds) — her throat looked quite “injected” even though the rapid strep test came back negative. But based on the visual evidence and the weeks long complaint, Krystal is now on Amoxocillin twice a day for 10 days, which is a whole post in and of itself. Maybe tomorrow.
  • As I’ve mentioned before, I used to own a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (mutt) and have never gotten over my lust for another. After we got Tessie I applied to a Cavalier Rescue group, and I check their site frequently for dogs that we might want to adopt. Many of the dogs that appear on the site specifically say they should go to an adult only home, or one with kids over age 8 or 10, or 12. But on Thursday I spotted one with none of those specifications, who sounds delightful in nearly every way. I’m trying to decide whether to call and ask about him, or if I’m a glutton for punishment with adding a second dog to my already-out-of-control life.
  • I went out, without my kids, on Friday night! Wahoo! And left my child, who had been home sick that day, in the care of our teenage sitter. And Krystal called me from bed, unbeknown to the sitter, to ask me to come home. Major guilt.
  • It was -13 when I got up yesterday morning. Brrrr is hardly the word for it.
  • We are supposed to get 5-10 inches of new snow tomorrow. I am so depressed about that I can hardly stand it.
  • My girls’ birthday party is next Saturday. I have no idea how I’m going to get everything done I need to get done before then.
  • I’m starting to really worry, in ways I haven’t yet before, about the future of my job.

OK, that is all for now – off to enjoy a glass of wine and catch up on some TV.

I just realized the girls’ party isn’t for two weeks, so I both have longer to get everything done, and longer to worry about it. Hey, I’ll take it!

Kung Fu Mama

Krystal has been attending Kung Fu lessons for about the last 2 months. I originally contacted this school to sign Belle up, since I think she needs the physical outlet and discipline, but at the first orientation class she pretty much refused to participate. The instructor was absolutely fabulous with her and turned it into an OK experience for all, and they even agreed to doing a second class for her to see if maybe she just needed an extra week to warm up. Unfortunately, despite talking about it all week, she was even less participatory than the first class. Krystal, however, really impressed them, and she’s been going ever since. Last Saturday she even “double tested” and moved from white to orange, skipping over yellow.

When I enrolled Krystal after the first class they told me they thought she was good enough, and mature enough, to go into what they call the Basic class, for older kids and adults. But since at the time I was still hoping to get Belle involved, I elected to keep her in the kids class.

Over the course of the next few weeks, watching her with the other kids in the class, it became apparent to me that Krystal was far better than most of the other kids, despite their having higher shirt colors than her. So I started thinking about moving her to the Basic class, and then thought that might give me a chance to do it too. Of course, that still leaves my logistical challenge of finding someone to watch Belle, but I’d think about that later.

Tonight was my private orientation class, which they do for all new students. Now, I’ve watched Krystal do this every week for two months, so I had some idea what to expect. And there were no surprises as to what was covered. What was surprising was how good a workout it actually was. I even took a shower when I got home!

So, I signed up. I’m quite sure we can’t afford it, and I still don’t have a sitter lined up to watch Belle while Krystal and I train 1-2 times per week, but I think it will be good for me, good for Krystal, and good for the two of us to do this together. And I hope that sooner rather than later, Belle will be ready, willing and able to do it too.

Me and My Big Mouth

Short version: I have a fat lip.

Long version:

I had a dental cleaning one Friday in mid-October. They did X-rays but were unable to read them that day due to an equipment issue, but said they would call me the following week if they found any cavities between my teeth that needed to be addressed. I went home, had a weekend, and promptly forgot all about it.

A week and a half ago, I got a call from the dentist that indeed something came up on the X-rays and I needed to come get it filled. Yes, some six weeks passed between my cleaning and that call. Whatever.

Today was the appointment for the filling. It was at 11:15,¬† just before lunch, and my tummy was being rumbly during the whole procedure. When the dentist finished he even said, “It’s lunch time, be careful not to bite your lip.” And I dutifully laughed.

I ran an errand on the way back to work/home and was fairly famished when I got back. I quick zapped some lunch and hungrily dug in. My lip was still a little  numb from the Novocaine, but I was doing OK. Or so I thought. My sandwich seemed a bit, well, chewier, than it ought to have been. I realized that I was quite literally chomping on my lip. A quick mirror check confirmed that I will be sporting the effects of this little filling for awhile to come in the form of a very mangled lip.

So here I sit, hungry, and afraid to eat. I’ll be sure not to dutifully laugh when someone gives me excellent advice in the future.

In which I pull my hair out — again!

This must be our year for pests. Which does not bode well for us with the upcoming addition of a flea magnet dog.

First, let me assure you that I am a reasonable housekeeper. I sweep the kitchen daily, wipe down counters and tables, and do not leave food out. My bathrooms are also kept clean. Not lick-the-counter clean, but passable. Or so I thought.

For the last nearly two weeks we have had what I have finally decided is a fruit fly infestation. At first I described them to a friend as “fruit fly-like” because they seemed to be bigger and faster than the previous versions of fruit flies I’ve been in contact with. But after exhaustive searching with your favorite search engine and mine, I must conclude they are indeed fruit flies. The mystery is – what is their food source? Also, why are they in my bathrooms???

Last Friday night I opened a bottle of wine and had a glass. I used my new Mickey-head cork for the remainder and left it on the counter. The next morning I discovered the (already existing) flies absolutely loved my wine. Either that or they are big Mickey fans.

So after my foray into the annals for ways to combat these creatures, I set up a trap. I cut the top off a 2 liter bottle of soda, poured some wine** in the bottom, and then put the top back in, upside down, creating a “lobster trap” for them. But this generation of fruit flies must be a lot smarter than the ones around when this suggestion was posted, because all they are doing is swarming/landing on the edge, and not venturing inside. And certainly not drowning in the liquid that I have treated with a drop of dish soap to break surface tension.

I created two more smaller/simpler ones by simply pouring a little wine** in a plastic cup and covering it with plastic wrap with a few holes punched in the top. These have been placed in the bathrooms, and I was surprised to discover several flies on the inside of the wrap within a few minutes of placing them. But still they are not getting down in the liquid and drowning, the little suckers!

So, calling all fruit fly experts – what else can I do?? And if you have any ideas on a hidden source I’ve overlooked, please, please, please tell me what to check! I must repeat – we have no fruit whatsoever!

** In case you are wondering, the wine used in the above-mentioned traps is cheap Wal-Mart wine. No true wines were harmed in the making of these traps.

Parenting is a thankless job, but then again…

Tonight when I picked Krystal up from camp she was wearing her sweatshirt by the hood. It wasn’t on, per se, but the hood was over her head and she seemed very invested in balancing it that way as she walked. It started to slip off at one point, and she nervously repositioned it as she came walking down the path towards where I was waiting for her.

“I have to keep this on my head,” she said as she got close enough to talk to me.


“Because I have gum in my hair!” she exclaimed. Sure enough, on one side was the biggest, nastiest, ugliest smeared piece of gummy yuck in her hair. She said she laid down on a picnic table, which some inconsiderate camper had apparently decided was his or her personal gum receptacle.

When we got home I quickly Googled home remedies for gum removal from hair, and decided to try the olive oil method. While that was soaking in we had dinner and Krystal said, “I’m so glad to have you for a mother.” Gosh, what mom doesn’t swoon at words like that?

“Gee, thanks, honey. That’s so nice to hear. What makes you say that?”

“Because some moms would get angry that I had gum in my hair, but you understand when it’s an accident. You understand stuff like that, and I’m glad.”

What could I honestly think or say, but “Wow.” And of course feel guilty for all those times I really do get angry over little things.

For the record, the olive oil worked, though not quite like the “charm” one message board reported. It still took some vigorous combing, but I’m happy to say we didn’t need to break out any scissors.


As a follow-up to Belle’s vagina issues, she had a really rough night last night. She was up for about an hour around midnight, crying and back and forth to the bathroom (and my room) several times. I called the doctor back this morning to report this. The nurse reassured me that her urine really was totally clear and was nothing of concern, that it really was vaginitis. She said the irritation is probably causing the acid in the urine to burn her skin on the way out, which makes her stop peeing before she’s really empty, which makes her have to go more frequently, etc, etc. She suggested squirting water on her as she pees, to dilute the urine as it hits the skin. I went one better and had her just pee in the tub tonight (and then I promptly emptied it!). Unfortunately, when she got in bed she started crying and scratching at herself, so I do think it’s a vicious circle kind of thing. We have always used All Free & Clear laundry detergent and no fabric softeners due to Krystal’s severe eczema, and I may have to try the hydrocortisone (even though the nurse said no creams or powders when I asked). Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions – at this point I’ll happily just take a good night’s sleep!

Our Vagina Chronicles

Oh, I can’t wait to see what kinds of searches turn up hits on this post!

On Saturday Belle complained vaguely that her vagina hurt. I honestly didn’t think too much about it, since she says that from time to time, but never for long. But when she complained again on Sunday I started to take notice. In fact, she said it so often that I had to remind her before we went out that it was something she should whisper to me in the event she felt she had to tell someone, rather than shouting it out for everyone in the ice cream shop to hear.

Monday was a rough day for her at school, and her teacher reported that among other behaviors she stood on her cot during naptime and chanted “My vagina hurts! My vagina hurts!” So much for that little lesson the day before, eh?

But it wasn’t until she got me up three times during the night on Wednesday to complain that I decided I needed to call the doctor. Yes, the same one that sent me to the ER for Krystal last week. (To be fair, it was the nurse, not the doctor, who made that call.)

The triage nurse said it sounded like a UTI, and that I should make sure she had plenty to drink before she came in as she would need to give a urine sample. I called her school to make sure she didn’t pee before I picked her up. I did a little reading on UTI’s myself (both earlier in the week, and then again after scheduling the appointment). I had discounted the UTI thing because she wasn’t peeing any more than usual, had no fever and complained at times other than just when urinating. After being told that’s what it “sounded like” I was dismayed to learn that a UTI before age 5 is considered pretty serious, and additional tests are usually ordered to see if there is an anatomical abnormality causing it.

So when we got to the doctor this afternoon, Belle gave a nice healthy sample, which she declared “bubbly”. The good news: there is no infection. The bad news: what the heck is making her claim her vagina hurts all the time!??!

The doctor inspected her entire crotch area (Is that a better word to use, from a search engine perspective, than genital? Well, I went and used them both so we’ll see!) and pronounced everything normal. She ended up diagnosing “unspecified vaginitis”, which to me says, “she says it hurts but we don’t know why, so it’s all pretty much a guess”. The doctor suggested baking soda baths, mild soap (which we already do), and enforcing the front-to-back wipe technique (which we do for #2, but not #1).

Back at home we had dinner and then got ready for bed. Belle peed twice during this time – once when I said it was time to go upstairs, then again when we got upstairs. I did the baking soda bath for her, and she peed again after that. We got in bed for stories, and when I finished her selection she got up to pee again. And again. She peed 5 times in about 30 minutes, and began whining and crying about how much her vagina hurt the whole time.

And I’m left feeling completely frustrated and helpless. I’ve done everything for her I’m supposed to do. She “shouldn’t” be doing this. I don’t think. I can’t think of anything else to do. I did give her some ibuprofen, as much for the placebo affect as for any pain relief it might offer.

I think she is sleeping now. I am hoping she sleeps through the night (I’m the one who needs it!) and wakes up tomorrow with placebo in full regalia. I’ll let you know! And if you have been through this and have any tips, please pass them along!

It Just Wouldn’t be Summer Without

It just wouldn’t be summer without a trip to the Emergency Room.

Which I guess means I haven’t had a summer in quite some time.

We had a very full Saturday – the girls participated in our local runner’s club’s premier event for kids, which was totally free – there were running events for every age from 3-14, crafts, a kid-oriented health fair, T-shirts and medals for everyone. Even a raffle. Did I mention it was totally free?? Even the raffle – we didn’t win anything, but the prizes were really pretty good.

We ran from there to drop Krystal off at a birthday pool party. Belle and I grabbed lunch out, went into Target to buy raisins for Joey, and came out $65 lighter. Why does that always happen when I step foot in that store???

Belle fell asleep when we got home, which is so rare an event that I didn’t want to mess with it. I called the parent of another kid who was at the party and asked her if she would bring Krystal home when she picked up her daughter. She delivered a very visibly exhausted Krystal. She ran half a mile in the morning, and swam all afternoon – I for one was not surprised.

I put the girls to bed Saturday night, and Krystal basically did not get up until today.

Oh, she left her bed yesterday. Only to end up on the couch, where she napped all day long. She did not eat. She did not drink. She threw up a bit first thing in the morning – no food, just uck. Late afternoon she asked for soup which she did not eat. I offered ice cream which she declined (!!). Her friend down the street called for her to play and she was upset when I said no, but fell asleep again almost right away. She went to bed without an issue (which I was worried might be, given that she slept all day). Around 11 I heard her run to the bathroom to throw up (nothing), and she also had a bloody nose. She asked for a bucket to sleep with, and went back to bed after cleaning up again.

At around 4 this morning I panicked, and remembered the dry drowning case earlier this year, and became convinced this was what happened. I tiptoed in and felt her hot, sleeping body, very much alive. Sigh of relief, but still wondering what the heck is going on.

When it was time to get up, Belle popped out of bed as usual. Krystal snored on. I let her sleep as long as I could, since I knew I would be working from home with her today. But I needed to get Belle to school. And so I did what I swore I was 2-3 years away from doing – I left Krystal home alone while I took Belle to school. She knew I was going, she knows my cell phone number, and as it turns out, she slept the whole time.

After a morning meeting, I called the doctor. The triage nurse told me to take her to the ER. Now, this was not so much that they thought her symptoms sounded life-threatening, but that they had no open slots to see anyone, and felt she needed to be seen today.

I haven’t really mentioned Krystal’s eczema, but it is quite severe. Her legs and hands are always raw. Summer is her bad season, and it seems worse than ever this year. She’s also getting to the age where kids are starting to ask more questions, and some of them are not very kind about it. Suffice to say, her legs are completely scabbed up and her skin is always reptilian to the touch – my poor baby.

The ER doctor ordered blood and urine tests, and we watched PBS-Kids on the TV in our room while we waited for the results. Poor kid had to have her arm stuck twice for the blood draw – the first phlebotomist couldn’t find a vein, so she sent in big Dave. He found one right away, but his bedside manner was not quite as good as sweet Tyree. I was also worried Krystal wouldn’t be able to pee, but she did.

Long story (yes, I know I can go on and on!), the blood tests were all normal, including mono. They also did a blood culture, which will take 5 days to give results. The urine showed dehydration, which I didn’t need a test to tell me. The doctor offered her a choice: drink lots at home, or stay and have an IV. She would have promised anything to get out of there, let me tell you! The doc put her on an antibiotic anyway, since she is concerned over all the raw spots due to eczema. Also an oral steroid for 9 days, which is a new one on me. That’s also for the eczema – we’ve done topical but never oral. Oh, and since Krystal hates taking medicine with a passion, and the antibiotic is 3 times a day for 10 days, we are in for a real treat.

Can I give a little shout out to my local CVS? I took the prescriptions over to the CVS next to the hospital, which is always very busy. I got the medications home and tried to give them to her, and the antibiotic, Cephalexin, was supposed to have been reconstituted – but all I had was the powder. I called the pharmacy to ask if I could do it at home, and they apologized up and down for their error in not doing in there, and, I’m sorry, but you’ll need to bring it back in so we can do it here.” I said, “OK, but honestly I probably won’t be able to do it tonight.” And they offered to send someone to the house with the distilled water to do it! Which they did!

Krystal did perk up a bit just before we left the hospital, and drank a bit at dinner. She didn’t eat much, but that’ll come.

So that’s how I spent the last Monday in July – what about you?

U – Unbelievable

Hooo, we’re getting down there in the alphabet! April 21 and U!

Today U stands for unbelievable. One week post “Extreme Haircut” I get a call from B’s school that they found some nits in her hair. I had to go pick her up. Deja vu all over again. My washer has been going non-stop….again. I asked them to check me, since I can’t see my whole head – fortunately they still found nothing. K reported that she was checked during a school-wide check today as well, so if it’s just B, it’s not soooo bad. I gave her another haircut, and during a quick stop in the grocery store late this afternoon she was referred to as a boy by the cashier. Is it bad of me that I didn’t bother to correct her (B didn’t hear)?

I am praying they let her in, and then that she makes it through the day at school tomorrow – I really can’t take having her home with me all day while I’m working – it is very bad, some might say UGLY, for our relationship.

Lice be gone!

(there, that ought to do it……right?)

N – Nit Picking


Lice eggs.

My captor.

I spent the entire weekend cleaning my house in ways I never had before – vacuuming the mattresses for crying out loud, way too many load of laundry in HOT water, and combing, combing, combing hair, over and over. Our routine is: shampoo and comb hair with the nit combs at night, and manually check, and pull or cut, nits out in the morning. K’s hair has appeared clear for several days now. But B’s hair. Oh my.

But I was sure she was cleared of them this morning. I took her to school for inspection, all set to go to work right after. I felt like I was waiting to hear the results of the Bar Exam (not that I would actually know what that feels like), and it turns out I failed the exam. Again. I was close to tears when we left – it’s official, the nits are bigger than I am.

So we came home, and I shaved B’s head. Well, “shaved” isn’t probably the correct term – I used electric hair clippers like a barber would, and ran it over her whole head. She looks like a little elf, and she couldn’t be happier with her new look. It does look adorable now (note to self: dress her in pink and flowers for awhile), but I worry about the growing out process. But we gotta get her back to school first.

If they find any in her hair tomorrow I will officially go insane.