Oct. 30th, 2014

I'm a little overwhelmed with baking cupcakes, cleaning the house, making everyone else clean things, and helping everyone have everything for their costumes, for tomorrow. Not really sure I'll be back in town in time to get the little kids on their early release day tomorrow, either. And I'm a bit preoccupied with my mom being in the hospital, AGAIN...she had a double heart catheter today to try to diagnose her troubles. When I called her, she was headed out with her IV pole to smoke, and brushing off my suggestions of telling the doctors her health history. I'm not as maddened by this shit as I used to be

My kids' All Hallow's Read books for tomorrow:

Ananda - Hansel and Gretel, by Neil Gaiman
Aaron - Unnatural Creatures, Stories Chosen by Neil Gaiman, Written by Various Authors
Isaac - My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish, by Mo O'Hara
Jake - Creepy Carrots, by Aaron Reynolds
Elise - Click, Clack, Boo by Doreen Cronin

For myself, it's most definitely gonna be Prince Lestat, by Anne Rice.

I think a lot about where and how to buy books. The big kids books listed here are from Amazon. My book will be bought at FIU's Barnes and Noble, tomorrow. The little kids' choices are all from their school's Scholastic Book Fair. A huuuuuuge number of our existing books have been bought at used book stores/sales, and off of eBay for stupidly tiny amounts of money. I get things from BJ's book tables fairly often, if I see something good when I'm there for groceries.

I guess it's just a weird and thought provoking thing, to me, that independent bookstores are disappearing, and the monopoly Amazon stands to hold over all of publishing (not just distribution). Que sera sera...

Friendly reminder that my interview about and reading of my horror story, My Aunt Vicky's House, is still available here. There is a free pdf download at that link as well, featuring original art by my friend Memo, in case you just want to read it yourself.

It's really awesome to me that the pdf has been downloaded 210 times!

The eBook that story is a part of is a horror trilogy featuring me along with two other authors, and is available on Amazon, for $2.99.
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I was kinda shocked tonight.

I had a series of events that made it so I couldn't do my giant regular grocery run this afternoon (doctor's appt, dose of adrenaline to "open my lungs" that I completely crashed after, we'll talk about this later). The point is I realized after running through the Pollo Tropical drive thru for dinner - a sure sign that the evening has gone way off track - that I also didn't have much for breakfast or almost anything to send with everyone for lunch in the morning.

For breakfast, I decided to make this pumpkin bread recipe, which I've done before to rave reviews with the following hippy dippy substitutions:

-Half coconut oil and half greek yogurt, instead of the vegetable oil. All coconut oil or all yogurt would probably also work.
-Twice as much pumpkin as they say.
-About 3/4 cup less sugar than they say.
-Add dark chocolate chips.

It's baking now, making everything smell good.

I had stuff for that in the house and everybody loves it, it's quick in the morning, ok. For lunches I was kinda stumped, and I don't want to base both of those meals off bread. I'm not really happy with how we've handled school lunches thus far, to be honest - it's not terrible but a lot of the time I'm sure we're spending too much money or they should be having better food. Or both.

We've done pretty well with breakfasts - look at this strata from Smitten Kitchen that I made last week. Ananda and I ended up basically eating that for dinner, too. /Tangent.

This evening after picking up MORE PRESCRIPTIONS (omg), and here comes the "shocked" part I opened the entry with, I went to this new "Walmart Neighborhood Marketplace" that just opened a mile away. It's 24 hours after all. Apparently "Neighborhood Marketplace" Walmarts are only grocery stores, and are trying to front like they're, I don't know, Publix or something.

This place had little lunchables-esque prepacked/partitioned things GALORE...for $1.00-2.00...in the produce section... It went like this -

For Isaac and Jake, I got these things that each had 2 kinds of apple slices, grapes, and cheddar cheese cubes. For Elise, one with raw broccoli, baby carrot sticks, grape tomatoes and ranch. I also got the 3 little kids a 3-pack of individual packs of fresh blueberries, to supplement.

For Annie, nearby, I found a cranberry, walnut and feta packaged salad with a fork and some raspberry vinaigrette inside. For Aaron, I went and got a regular "classic" actual-Lunchable (crackers, cheese, turkey, CapriSun, reese's cup), because he loves those damned things and I never buy them so he's gonna be thrilled.

This was all only $15.54, with tax. It would be $18.75 just to send them all with lunch money for the cafeteria food, which is kiiiinda garbage a lot of the time at the younger kids' school. I mean, the stuff I got tonight is not "as good" as the stuff I normally buy...none of it was organic, the salad dressing is crap ingredients, it isn't the sort of cheese I would usually get. I wouldn't want to make a habit of all that excess packaging. But I really did not expect to go in there and find such surpisingly healthy stuff done up as convenience foods, so cheap. The last time I tried to shop in a Walmart (granted it was a normal Super Walmart and it was awhile ago), there was not NEARLY so much selection for this kind of thing. And really - an apple's worth of cut slices, about 2 ounces of cheddar cheese cubes, and a handful of grapes, for your kid, ready to grab off a shelf and shove in their bag...for one dollar?! They had a similar option with cheddar and colby cheeses, that had almonds, too, for $2.00 - Starbucks basically sells that same damn thing for $6. And it's not like Starbucks food is organic. I mean obviously the Starbucks food options are stupid-expensive. But...

I guess I just went in with really low expectations. Now I'm wondering how many people might get their kids totally different stuff if they just knew those were there available. I would never have thought to look for convenience lunch options in the produce section, I was just walking through and happened to spot them.

So, my "health." I dunno, mang. It's basically went like this:

Early September everyone got sick with some flu-like thing, which was gone within a week for almost all of us.

After that first week, Annie, Isaac and I were still sick. They went to the doctor for notes for school and came home with codeine cough syrup for the evenings, prescriptions for rest and fluids, and diagnoses of bronchitis and possible sinusitis.

Isaac, who is always hit hardest with respiratory illnesses, has continued to seem to get sick again, and then get all the way better again, ever since - he's been well enough to go to school consistently but is sometimes miserable in the morning or right before bed, and I wrote him a note for PE a couple of times when he was going in with very low energy. I've called his doc and talked about this twice. There's no fever, it's just tiredness, congestion and sometimes sore throat, coughing or both. Very intermittent, and Isaac has an extremely low threshold so he can be hard to gauge. He's also spent the night at his friend Andrew's house, went swimming at a birthday party and continued with music classes during this time, it's pretty weird.

I've been having moderate to severe coughing fits whenever I talk much, laugh at all, or try to sing, all day erryday. Sometimes, it's completely unexpected, I'll just get surprised into a random violent coughing fit that leaves me with my eyes watering - often when I'm sitting quietly in class, or deeply asleep. Both cases tend to cause me to leap up and run to another room. When not coughing, I often feel a little short of breath, especially but not only when walking around. Not terribly so, but for instance it's challenging now to talk on the phone as I walk around campus, and that is not normally the case. The coughing hurts my hernia, sometimes a little and sometimes more, and just makes me tired. Or, maybe the illness that's causing the coughing also causes me to be tired. Maybe it's the lessened oxygen I'm taking in? Who can really say at this point? NOT DOCTORS.

I definitely have good days, when I think I'm really getting/almost better, and bad days, when I think it's getting worse/coming back.

I went to FIU's Student Health Services about 3 weeks ago. After about 2.5 hours and being seen by three different escalating people (student nurse, student doctor, actual doctor) they gave me a 10 day course of Amoxicillin for suspected sinusitis and probable walking pneumonia. It did jack shit for my illness, which makes sense since I've since learned Amoxicillin doesn't treat walking pneumonia or even many cases of sinusitis anyway, you need Zithromycin (a "z-pack") for that.

The Amoxicillin did give me a whole week of low grade nausea and a raging yeast infection of doom. Student Health Services also gave me albuterol and flonase that really did work pretty well at helping me to breathe and to cough less, but also made me so emotional that I basically couldn't function, so I quit taking them, because I've got shit to do and that's putting it lightly.

Last week - that is, 4 days after I finished the course of Amoxicillin* - I went to a Baptist Urgent Care Center (meaning, a hospital run, fancy-shmancy urgent care, with imaging and everything). They did a chest x-ray that confirmed my lungs are clear. They also observed my booming and barking cough, whenever they asked me many questions or requested a deep breath. I could most read quietly for 30 minutes between speaking with people, feeling fairly normal. Yet they guided me from the exam table to a chair, when it was making me see stars to try to breathe deep as they listened to my chest and I started to sway.

They seemed reeeeaally irritated that I didn't want to do any more steroids if I could avoid it, since I don't feel like crying for 6 hours (per dose). The doctor there ended up prescribing me a stronger, broad spectrum antibiotic on what she called "the off chance" that I have mycoplasma. But she diagnosed me with bronchitis, since my lungs are clear. Mycoplasma = pneumonia, and everyone from the AMA to the WHO and even the CDC says you don't take antibiotics for bronchitis, which is almost always viral. The rare bacterial bronchitis is marked by a high fever and coughing up lots of brown stuff, neither of which I have. So I had some serious misgivings about jumping the gun with more, heavier duty antibiotics just as I was finally recovering from the last round. She did also prescribe codeine cough syrup for me, which works great but makes me so tired that it is only a nighttime/naptime solution. Don't get me wrong, I'm sleeping way better now, so that is a good thing.

I finally made a damned appointment with my normal doctor. I don't generally do that these days because it can be hard to get in at the temporary space they're working out of since her office burned down a couple of months ago. Limited hours and high demand.

That appointment was today. She swabbed my throat through a somewhat horrible long-bendy-Qtip-up-through-the-nostril-for-days procedure, gave me the adrenaline and some other thing shot, and prescribed some stuff that is steroidal but I haven't tried before, and can hope for the best with if I get desperate during the daytime. Culture should be back by Friday.

I'm starting to think it's gotta be Pertussis. Or at least it might be. In China they call Pertussis, "the 100 day cough." We'll see.

My mother and my therapist keep telling me, "better safe than sorry" and urging me to keep jumping through these medical hoops, and I keep thinking NO, APPARENTLY IT'S NOT BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY. Dealing with being ill with a yeast infection, or while being hysterically upset, is not an improvement. Losing the whole later half of today from the after-slump following adrenaline has done me no lifestyle favors, it's just created guilt, a reason to have to stay up late (tomorrow's food solutions) and doubled up work for tomorrow (big grocery run on a day I would have only had homework and cleaning to do, and Elise will have today's and tomorrow's part of the weekly homework to get done now). Ugh, I'm just so sick of this shit.

I've got a long phone call with a long distance friend that I keep pushing back, and a visit to a local fried who just had a baby that I'm eager for. Neither seems like a good idea with this cough. It's really hard to exaggerate, I am alarming people everywhere I go. It's that sort of cough where the worst part is how everyone around you is really concerned but you have no way to reassure them. I was considering making a Wil-E-Coyote sort of cardboard sign on a stick that I could hold up; "I'm fine, this has been going on forever, please go about your business."

My hernia/abs are such a jutting bunched up mess from the weeks of coughing that I've totally got all the inches I'd lost through weight loss back, around the middle, when I'm standing (when I lie down my stomach is flat, it just all kinda falls forward when I'm upright, until I get it fixed). I guess it's good that I did lose some weight before all this coughing? Intra-abdominal fat is supposedly normally putting pressure on the hernia from behind, so the less of that the better. I've even broken down and worn a girdle for support a couple of days. It helps with abdominal pain from coughing, and flattens things out some, but it's also SO HOT to have that extra layer down here, and digs into my shoulders bigtime all day. I need something fairly heavy duty or it just doesn't work, which is why I usually forgo it all together. Keeping in mind that it's still in the 80s-90s here every day.

I think I'm going to start using my sister's advice and gargling warm salt water and using a neti pot. Along with the cough syrup for nighttime and seeing what the culture shows Friday, assuming I'm still sick then.

And oh damn it all, I worked out all the details this past weekend of getting a tattoo next weekend, with a particular person, time, pricing, a composite image and everything...and now I'm thinking, uh...maybe it's not the best idea to go sit for 2 hours getting a tattoo while having intermittent violent coughing fits? Argh.

We shall see.

*I've also become preoccupied again with the evidence suggesting I have permanently altered, inferior gut bacteria at the root of my pernicious anemia, tendency to gain weight, and shit immune system, since my small bowel resection and massive doses of "antibiotics of last resort." I've been on a yogurt eating, kefir and kombucha drinking, sauerkraut making, probiotic-capsules-by-the-VERY-EXPENSIVE-handful bender, trying to maximize types of strains and quantities of organisms multiple times daily...So nuking it all anew just for funsies is not exactly appealing.
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A 19 year old in my Psych of Parenting class, who calls Instagram "Insta" and acts like everyone goes to Coachella, was surprised to find out that I, a veritable senior citizen, have a tumblr. She asked me if I also knew about Yik Yak.

Now I do. Yik Yak is a world within the world of my (and, it seems, every other) school. It's an app, an anonymous real time bulletin board that follows you to whatever location you are - so, if I'm at FIU, I see a constant feed of new "Yaks" from around FIU. There are about 20 per minute, and all of them can be upvoted, downvoted or replied to. Frequently upvoted posts go to the "Hot" page, which is all some people check, since as it is there are a few dozen hot posts per hour.

As I sat in my Psych of Parenting class, where there are about 75 students in stadium-style rows of seats, my teacher droned on and on as everyone looked at their phones. Today, I was looking at Yik Yak for the first time so I got to see the conversation unfolding:

"This Psych of Parenting teacher actually thinks someone is listening to her."
"OMG dude in Psych of P 2nd row stop sniffling and just blow your fucking nose." (heavily downvoted)
"Those girls in the top row of Psych of P are SO HOT."
"WHO IS SAYING THAT the girls in the top row wanna know who is into them!"

Huh. It's like everyone is simultaneously passing notes to everyone else, but the teacher doesn't even know "notes" exist.

There are also Yaks from all around school popping up, and from in other classes.

"Why is there a robot outside blue garage?"
"Whoever the fuck is throwing paper towels all over the GC bathrooms needs to knock that shit off"
"Girl in the purple tank top with the tie dye back pack can get it, hit me up"
"I think I found the robot owner"
"I've got a jean jacket and black shorts, find me and I'll give you a dollar"
"Anybody on the 3rd floor of PG5 have a light? I'll spark you up."
"Idiot in the gray Civic by old dorms just backed into the same tree twice SMH"
"OH SNAP free doughtnuts by the library don't say I never hooked you up"
"I have to see this robot"
"We got people on scooters, skateboards, roller skates, and bicycles all up in this campus I ain't even gonna be surprised when I see the first one driving their car from class to class"

Because it is the internet, they also argued about racism continuously. Probably the funniest thing I saw was someone who claimed to have her boyfriend on Cuban lockdown, and called it Guantanamo Bae.

I'm sort of amazed and feel like a crotchety old anthropologist.
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Day 8 of my 10 days on antibiotics; Day 2 of VICIOUS YEAST INFECTION FROM HELL.

This is how it always goes for me - it's gotten so bad at times that I have quit taking a course of antibiotics halfway through, because I just couldn't deal with the yeast infection anymore. And yes, I see that as both personally and socially irresponsible*.

The amount of miscellany I have injected into myself via syringe in the past 24 hours alone - peroxide, yogurt, coconut oil, probiotic powder... For what it's worth, even WebMD lists yogurt-as-cure instructions and interactions for Lady Yeast, so I am not just crazy.

YET. Nothing like waking from a dead sleep with the firey genital itch of doom making it impossible to lie still, to rapidly erode sanity.

I rarely get yeast infections if I'm NOT on antibiotics. If I do, any one of those things listed above will clear it up almost instantly. Peroxide especially is foolproof, there is a lot of info about this out there including at least one actual study. It's great because Peroxide also works for bacterial vaginosis, whereas most treatments for one aren't so good for the other. Did you know some people with IUDs end up with chronic bacterial vaginosis? Ask me how I know! The good news is, peroxide. I know another IUD user who has finicky vaginal pH and has had great results that she shouts from the rooftops, with boric acid. That is also something studied, that can be researched, though I haven't personally tried it.

I just know that the absolute best I can hope for, so long as I'm still regularly killing off all my good bacteria, is keeping symptoms moderate. This pains me, both literally and figuratively.

If you are a person suffering from frequent, chronic, or just current yeast infection or BV and would like to talk to me, a non medical, non certified, non expert about adventures in vaginal pH, I may be able to help you in the comments.

So long as you are not also on antibiotics.

* I am continuing this course of antibiotics, so please don't urge me to or yell at me about them. If you need to yell at me for the previous course I quit years ago, I will bow my head and take the abuse quietly as my due.
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Thursday; a Mixed Bag (as are All Days)

Today I slept in until 10:00, and then spent about an hour putzing around on the internet, and then about 30 minutes sort of wandering in circles wondering what I should do with my day. I continued, into the evening, feeling sort of useless and unproductive, even though by then I'd washed a big load of dishes, hung up a load of laundry, picked up Aaron from school, made him an optical specialist appointment, went on a big grocery run that ended up being great time with Aaron, and went and paid a bill. It's all so unstructured and hard to gauge, and I feel so at odds with my medicated decision to drop Botany the other day :/ I was actually dreaming about the class, which I would normally have been in this morning, when I woke up.

It's really great that I dropped it, because:

-I need the time and energy for my other 3 classes, especially Stats and French
-I was missing more time due to this prolonged illness, and am still ill
-I was already in over my head in there, from the get go
-those two days at home through the week could be pivotal in my being a better manager of home-things that were not being kept up with

It's really horrible that I dropped it, though, because:

-I was enjoying the opportunity to prove myself and stretch my brain
-I've already learned so much and am spotting (plant) things everywhere I go that I didn't used to recognize
-I really ate up the drive on Old Cutler and the walks around lusciously beautiful areas...going to FIU's main campus is seriously just NOT the same thing
-I spent a LOT of money I can't get back on supplies for that class that I have no use for now

Because of various factors large (I had to be let in via an override and so would need more special permission to re-enter - I can't just go do it online) and small (I don't really WANT to go spend 8 hours traipsing around the Everglades on Jake's birthday, the day Annie gets home from camp, day after tomorrow, when I'll probably still be sick and definitely will be on my period) it feels like it's just...too late. Like I need to let it go. Like I've known I needed to let SOMETHING go, so here it is, something is gone. I can revisit it another time, maybe.

Grant works from home on the days I had that class, so being here with him is both good and bad - he has to work even if he really wants to hang out with me or I really want him to hang out with me, and he takes up an area I'd be studying or napping or blaring music in if he weren't here.

I suppose I don't know how to give myself license to just be here at the house without any official obligations, while he works and with our kids at school. If they were home it would be like I had some continuous and obvious purpose in not working. And if he were gone I would at least feel like I was stealing the time without anybody seeing me lounge about while on a string of important business calls.

It feels important for me to note that he doesn't do anything whatsoever to MAKE me feel like I "should" be doing anything beyond what I am. He was actually encouraging me to drop something and telling me I had an impossible load before, though he's also supportive of me trying to get the class back now, if I were to do so.

I'm so fucking EMBARRASSED, that I took this medicine a doctor gave me, this thing I know TONS of people who use all the time with no ill effect, this thing I've seen my mother take countless times and that I think of as something asthmatic children carry around in their school bags, and I basically lost my damned mind. It didn't end with the Albuterol, either - the next day, after I explained about the albuterol reaction here, I "just" took my antibiotics and flonase (nose spray) and was weeping an hour later. During our subsequent FOUR HOUR LONG phone call, my sister explained to my silly ass that flonase is also steroidal, and that based on how I reacted to prednisone years ago I should probably just never take anything with steroids. I was trying to do the non-crunchy, I'm really sick, let's-buckle-down-and-take-western-medicine-thing, so I didn't even look at the warnings on any of my prescriptions because I don't have known allergies, I'm not pregnant or breastfeeding, and I know that when I do read them, I end up just not taking whatever it is because it doesn't seem worth it.

Back to today...the evening ended up good, so there's that. I cuddled Elisey in my lap and, after she expressed curiosity about a link she saw on my fb wall, showed her a couple of birth videos. She LOVES birth and it's always sort of ironic to me what a natural, positive view of it she's ended up with - her only remembered experiences are my sister pushing out cousins on her bed, and my cat pushing out kittens on my bed. Elise has basically the polar opposite of Ananda's influences, which have basically led to Ananda being staunchly opposed to ever in her life having a baby.

Elise's class have all got Reading Eggs log-ins now, via the school, which I think is great. We used to love that site, years ago, when Jake and Isaac were using it, and it's expensive (about $60 per 6 month subscription). I watched her take the pre-test and she made it about halfway through it, which excited her. I'm glad she sees it as purely fun and games and is thus REALLY eager to be on it as much as possible.

The two of us sat together and worked for about an hour and 15 minutes on all of her homework. It was really leisurely and good - there were a lot of reading comprehension things where there's a paragraph to read, and then you select the main idea from a list of options. Because she can't read, it's understood with her teacher that I am reading her the paragraphs and the options. The paragraphs routinely mention things she hasn't ever heard of before (the Eiffel Tower, junk boats off Hong Kong, squirting cucumbers, and bison, tonight) so we stop to do google image searches and YouTube videos for things. I can't help but think, as I have many other times with Isaac's homework, that they are really teaching kids to read in a skim-for-the-answers-you-need way that doesn't really involve actually understanding what you read at all. Common Core is actually better in this way than the FCAT prep stuff used to be, but it's still not what I would like it to be. We make it a lot better by doing the supplemental conversations and research that we do, but I still hate the idea that it's being taught as it is.

Anyway, yeah, I read a chapter of Order of the Phoenix to Isaac, and talked to him about the girl he has a crush on. Read a chapter of Goblet of Fire with Jake, and then looked at videos of screaming goats that he'd somehow never seen before and laughed at a lot. Grant read to Elise.

Then I did French homework of my own for about an hour. Grant and I are getting into a groove where he's on a laptop while I do homework next to him, at the dining table, late at night when the house is quiet. It's sweet in it's way.

Obviously I ended up getting a lot of good things accomplished today, in the end. I also totally missed my counseling appointment and realized when my counselor texted to ask where I was. Thaaaaaat's something I should have expected, since I normally drive over there right after Botany and so would have had to keep track of the time here at home to actually make it. And, we fed the kids (organic, spinach and feta) frozen pizzas for dinner. I also didn't track (weight watchers points) for shit, and really haven't this week. And now it's almost 1am and I have to be up at, oh, 6:15ish.

I'm having a lot of possibly paranoid, scared feelings about my health. I just feel so mortal and fallible and like I'm deteriorating or something. My trip to Student Health Services the other day featured the standard interview about my medical history...which for me always includes lots of surgeries, the major intestinal hernia I've been walking around with for years, the small bowel resection I had, the pernicious anemia and constant B-12 shots I have to get. I was trying to explain to this guy how I have frequent, recurring adult ear infections, and how ever since I was a little kid, I've ALWAYS kept coughing for a month after any sickness that involves a cough, and my sister is the same way. And we have booming coughs that alarm people around us. Or just drives people we live with nuts because they're tired of it. Our Dad - who coughs the same way - gets pneumonia at least once or twice a year, and our mom gets bronchitis at least once or twice a year, and that's how it's always been. I was accompanying my mom to the ER in an ambulance at 12, and 14, when there were times when she wasn't well enough to drive herself. All of that is sucky enough, eh?

Well, last night I went down some late night google-hole and came out thinking maybe my parents are ATT deficient - meaning, lacking in this liver enzyme that is supposed to protect the lungs. It is the reason why some small subset of people with COPD (like my mother has been diagnosed with) have COPD. It's also highly hereditary. I've always written off both of their constant respiratory problems as being caused by smoking, but last night is the first time I really took a step back to consider how much healthier most smokers seem, than they do. Good grief, Grant's parents both smoke and I can't think of either of them EVER having a major respiratory illness in all the years I've known them!

It's totally plausible that Laura and I have this ATT deficiency from our parents, all the symptoms are there (and Laura's been asthmatic with environmental allergies all her life) and it's common for it to go undiagnosed until people have COPD or lung cancer in their 40s/50s/60s. Clearly this is not worth obsessing over - there's a simple blood test that can tell you one way or the other, so I'll be getting that some time soon when I'm getting stabbed anyway. If you find out you have ATT deficiency before you have mega problems resulting from it, you can do things to protect your lungs so that you avoid the mega problems.

Just, you know, I have this stupid (harmless, deformity looking...) cyst on my wrist for the past two years, and I have spider veins on the backs of my knees now, and it's like WTF, you know? I know that whenever I can actually breathe again, I'm going to have to totally start C25k over again from scratch, for, what, the 3rd or 4th time? I suppose it's a good thing that I'm not giving up on it. But I'm only 32 years old here!

I'm starting to have the opposite of surgery aversion - I wish I could go in tomorrow and get everything fixed at once. I want them to put tubes in my ears and laser away my veins and take this wrist cyst out, while they've got me knocked out to fix my stomach.

I'm also afraid of what more general anesthesia will do to my lungs. I have felt ever since 2007 like I have lessened lung capacity. You're intubated, during general anesthesia, and afterwards they want you to use this thing where you suck and blow in a tube to try to hold this ball up in the air between two marks. But I never really did - I was, you know, dying in the ICU for 10 days post-op, and then when I was transferred upstairs nobody was thinking about it. They sent me home with one, but I barely even tried to use it :/

So yeah, this is one of the reasons why C25K is so important to me - running is something that really makes your lungs work in a way that few other things do. Every step of the way, breathing has been by far the hardest part of the program, for me. Some of that I understand was due to low B-12 and under oxygenation, but, whatever.

It's just too much, you know? It's so scary much. It all scares the shit out of me. And I can quantify progress, like, dude, I've lost 30something pounds this year, and I feel so much better since I started getting these shots, and come on man I'm on antibiotics now this sickness will be gone soon, but still sometimes it feels like an avalanche I could just get buried under at any moment.

It probably would have been good to make it to counseling and talk about all this, this afternoon. I honestly can't tell, though, what part of my feelings are lingering med side effects, what's PMS, and what is totally rational stuff anyone would be upset about. Maybe it will be better to wait until next week, to go talk about it when all that is a little more clear.

Ugh I'm SO tired and really have to go to bed, now.
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Oct. 7th, 2014

My sickness has carried on so long that I actually went to Student Health Services and saw a doctor while I was on campus, yesterday. Lingering sinusitis, suspected (possibly "walking") pneumonia, minor double ear infection. They gave me antibiotics, flonase (nose spray) and albuterol (inhaler).

I've never used an inhaler before, and it took me until this afternoon - meaning two doses in - to realize it was making me fucking crazy. I've had so many crying jags today that they blur together, and one of them turned into a long laughing fit. I've went to Grant, my friend Kristin, and my sister with desperate sadness about everyday shit. I made a somewhat hysterical, heavily filtered entry. I also dropped a class, which while probably a good decision with the month long illness factored in may or may not have been a decision I'd have made unmedicated.

Good lord. Not sure I'll be trying that anymore unless I really just cannot breathe at all otherwise.

I reacted similarly, years ago, to prednisone. This kind of thing is why I'm so hesitant about taking meds when I can avoid it!
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Oct. 4th, 2014

Last night, Ananda put away all the clean towels. So, when I went to bed, there were stacks of clean towels on the recessed shelves in the kids' bathroom, which is where the only shower is. This morning I went to take a shower, and there's a puddle on the floor, and every towel all around the floor, bunched up. Many of them soaked. Like as though maybe the toilet overflowed? Or something? It's just me and 4 kids here since yesterday because Grant and Jake went on a joint birthday trip right after Jake finished up his school week.

Somehow neither Ananda, Aaron, Isaac or Elise seem to have ANY IDEA how this came to be. I was just wondering if water was welling up on the floor from the base of the toilet, because that's happened before, and it can indicate septic tank trouble. Also, everyone knows they're not in trouble if they have some accidental mess like a toilet overflowing or a spill - but that they do have to clean it up.

I made Aaron clean this up, because it was obviously him, because he was doing what he always does when he's lying. I think of it as "over bafflement."

Me, casually: Aaron, do you know why all those towels are on the floor in the bathroom?
Aaron: What???
Me: You heard me.
Aaron: *one eyebrow raised sky high like I'm speaking another language and have changed colors*
Me: *sigh* Do you know why all those towels are on the floor in the kids' bathroom?
Aaron: *totally dumbfounded expression* HUH?!

It's fucking ridiculous, and pretty funny in retrospect. The poor kid cannot lie to save his damn life. He mumbled something eventually about taking a very late shower and not realizing the curtain was open on one side.

Also ridiculous and hilarious even in the moment: last night, Ananda was telling Aaron all his clean clothes were out there ready to be put away, and he needed to go get them. Aaron was playing minecraft and didn't want to budge. I was in another room around a corner but on the same end of the house as them.

I suppose I should explain that I have a kind of laissez-faire "don't ask don't tell" policy about cursing; they know they're Not Allowed to cuss even though I do all the time and I don't really think it's bad, because you get in the habit, and because if they cuss around other adults, those other adults are liable to think they're bad kids, which I don't like. Now that they're in school, the school seems to feel about the same way I do - basically people in the halls or teachers go "language" in a stern tone when they hear someone cursing and it makes everyone giggle nervously and that's the end of it. None of my kids curses out loud around me on purpose, but I've eavesdropped and heard them curse in hushed tones and rolled my eyes and moved on. I've seen cursing galore on both sides of their facebook conversations and texting (they know the policy is they get to do those things but I get to snoop, it's not sneaking snooping) that seems like pretty normal dumb teenage stuff and they know I see it but nobody brings it up. Me or them, I mean. I can tell it's still way more personally taboo for my younger three children, probably because of friend groups and the younger kids' school being a lot more strict about it.

So anyway, last night Aaron didn't want to go get his laundry and put it away and she wanted to be done with her laundry chores (sorting a massive pile and sending it in appropriate directions, along with putting away her own and linens) so she was getting mad at him. She basically SCREAMED "Asshole!" at him, and I yelled, "absolutely not!" because *even I* (haha) don't curse AT people like that, and I've typically been way more serious about "mean" talking as the actual bad words, but they clearly didn't even hear me - Aaron was YELLING, "I don't want to go out there, Mom will see that I'm still in my uniform!" They're supposed to put them on the washer as soon as they get home and change into normal clothes.

I went in there, and I see them basically wrestling on the floor next to his tipped over computer chair that she clearly tried to drag him out of, both half laughing, and she's like, "quit being an asshole, just go!" and he's like, "Annie I can't, she'll see," and I said loudly from the doorway, "Do you guys not understand I'm home? Do you think my ears aren't working?" They both froze with this very brief "uh oh" look and then we all started laughing hysterically.

They're so ridiculous.

Aaaaaaaaaanyway. Sleeping in was great today, STILL feeling lingeringly ill several weeks into this is unacceptable, and I'm going to go confer with these fools about what sort of Saturday hijinks we ought to get up to.
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Sep. 29th, 2014

Just got done emailing Ananda and Isaac's forms for (cello and clarinet) mentoring, then replying to an email from Elise's teacher about a conference, signing Aaron's progress report, and emailing Aaron's dance teacher because he thinks she's still using a wrong address for me. Every night I have a list of these things. They are bizarrely satisfying; easy to check off of my to-do list compared to damn near everything else I have to do, and it's such a small effort for how much care I'm delegating. I'm pretty grateful that they are all so communicative and I don't have to chase after anyone.

Everybody is doing really well - they genuinely like school and have a lot to be excited about. The 3 little kids went in their pjs today, for Pajama Day, and just went around eating different things for Multicultural Day last Friday.

Jake's class got to go lay on towels in the grass and read, as a reward. They looked forward to it for a week and he was all excited. It's going to be a regular thing, now. How great is that?!

He also had this big math project to complete that he enjoyed and I thought was cool - he had to survey a bunch of people about their favorite animal (out of 4 options), and then list the number of votes for each, make a bar graph and another kind of graph, and write a paragraph about his results. He surveyed everyone in his ceramics class.

I'm just grateful that they do so many "above and beyond" sorts of things, I guess, and that it's not just a common core vacuum. I hear a lot of complaints from a lot of parents at other schools, about the common core vacuum :/

A&A's school's open house last week was downright amazing. From the pre-algebra teacher explaining the "whole body learning" strategies she utilizes with teams and individual white boards for every lesson, that involves lots of moving around the room and shouting out (which is why Aaron is acing math and doing it willingly...) to so many of them reiterating that they don't ever want to bog them down with too much homework. The little kids' school is pretty good - I have complaints, but it's better than it is bad. I like it but don't love it. I LOVE the big kids' school. It's the absolute perfect place for them to have went for the first time starting school (at 13 and 14 years old...)

I don't really care overly much about grades, but it's nice that the lowest grade on any of the older four kids' progress reports was one C for Isaac - considering he missed the entire 3rd week of school (out of 4 total weeks they were tallying up), I think that's pretty good.

Elise is failing all her core subjects, because she can't read. Next conference is Thursday afternoon.

This will be continued, but it's been open a long time and I've got to go to bed now....
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College; Time Allotment

Time spent in class weekly: 15.5 hours, in theory; actual is more like 10 tops*
Time spent traveling to and from class weekly: 8 hours, min. (highest has been 9.5)
Time spent parking weekly: 50 minutes, min. (highest has been 2.5 hours)
Time spent studying and doing homework, weekly: 3 hours, avg. (1-5 is normal)
Time spent walking around campus** weekly: 2 hours min. (highest goes basically infinite)

Obviously does not include planning/organizational, of which there's kind of a lot at times - everything from needing to print things and send emails to packing lunch to professors telling us we have to go buy supplemental materials. Or realizing I don't have a working umbrella (not an option this time of year if you're carring valuable paper stuff around FIU).

Still, that's 13 hours per week on academics, and about 11 hours per week - often significantly higher - on "showing up."

My point, I suppose, is just that being in this leg of school involves SO MUCH BS "showing up." It often feels as though I just have to keep going through these tedious motions until next Spring when I get my "you kept coming" certificate.

It's very similar to how the whole time I was getting my AA at MDC, I was spending as much effort and energy on administrative crap as actual academics - various recurring financial aid hoopla, overrides every semester because of when I dropped out while Annie was a newborn, waiting forever over and over to talk to advisors who would then reschedule you when a meeting with the dean popped up... I had all their looping hold messages memorized and knew which front desk workers were not even worth talking to.

I have learned some great stuff, especially from a few choice teachers I remember fondly, and I have had to put in some real effort on occasion. I remember trying to do my online assignments in a hotel computer lounge while we were on a business trip with Grant, and I've stayed up late writing papers more than a dozen times. I've filled about 50 spiral bound noteboooks with note-taking since I started.

But... I think that when I look back it's going to feel like I sat in offices, filled out paperwork, and brought in documents for 2 years to earn my AA, and then I drove on the highway and searched for a parking spot for 2 years until I had my bachelors - all punctuated by trips every 3 months to merch-laden bookstores where I dropped staggering amounts of money and then just had to come back because something was wrong, a week later.

I think ALL THE TIME about how the biggest thing college tests is how many hoops you're willing to jump through, and how the biggest hurdle many, many people I know would face trying to do it (like my little brother?) is continuing to see each barrier as a hoop, and keep jumping. There is money available out there for all of it; there are accommodations for almost any situation. There's tutoring and there's someone whose whole job is to care, but they're on the other side of all these hoops.

*One of my classes this semester is one where the teacher does not take attendance, puts all the material online, and people only come for the tests - especially since it's a class of hundreds in an auditorium style space. One of my teachers routinely lets us out early when she's covered what she has to. And, I'm necessarily half an hour late to my French class every freaking time, but we've had a conference and she is ok with it (it's a two hour class) as long as I'm doing all the work and participating while I'm there, since she understands my circumstances (new construction has changed traffic patterns; she's actually usually 10 minutes late, now, too).

**going to and from class on a 500 acre campus, but also getting something to eat or from Starbucks; locating teachers or dept heads for questions, help, or tutoring; visiting labs for something; meeting someone for a makeup; meeting with a group for a group project; finding out if I should do/participate in this or that
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For posterity, because I enjoy having minutiae recorded to look back on...

-to show me things online
-private time alone to just talk without anyone interrupting us
-a new sketchbook and some kind of soft drawing pencils, for her art class
-forms and money for a school trip
-ok'ing of arrangements she can approve with friends, for later this week
-reiteration that, no, I am still not ok with older driving homeschooled friends driving her places, and am not gonna be anytime in the immediate future
-for me to email her algebra teacher about some of the material she missed while sick, as he apparently wants to talk to me about it

-girl advice and confiding...he is so confused, it's adorably heart breaking
-crickets for his spider to eat
-confirmation of my email address because I'm not getting this thing from his dance teacher (he was misspelling, my own son pulling the ol' alErflame)

-a piece of rescue remedy gum - he believes it makes his anxiety calm down, so it does
-an extended recap of WHY he has to do those particular chores
-for me to know the new "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" book will actually BE AVAILABLE at the December book fair (serious business)
-help finding "Order of the Phoenix"
-for me to know he's gonna need the next size up in pink fleece monkey pajama pants, soon. He's on the third pair he's owned, since he begged his Oma for the first set at 3 or 4.

-a clean beach towel for tomorrow, when his class will be reading outside in the grass
-for me to look at some bar graphs he made
-and a dragon head he was going to color
-trimming of his bangs, which happens about once a week when a stubborn curl insists on dangling in front of an eye
-help finding his Nook and charging cord at bedtime
-a water bottle he could keep in his bed

-to be ordered out of her peed in shorts (WTH that hasn't happened in YEARS, she just didn't make it to the bathroom but she was just walking around without changing?)
-in depth help with her homework
-"love in the bed" (cuddling under a blanket), which featured a rundown of her day
-a form signed to be turned back in and an email TO her teacher, about a conference
-$5 for multicultural day

All 5 of them needed rides home from school, tacos for dinner, cajoling to do their chores and shooing off to brush their teeth on time. Everyone but Isaac needed hugs - he is kind of affection-averse, though not so much as he used to be, so I walk a line between hugging him enough that he still gets some hugs, and being selfish and making him crazy with hugging (he squirms away and gets upset).

YESTERDAY Isaac's puberty questions were reaching a crescendo - he's having a growth spurt and at 10.5 I realized it was time to give him the battered copy of (boy version) "What's Happening to Me?" that Aaron read obsessively from 10-12.

They are really great. I can't really even think of them as a group, these days, as they're each so different that it doesn't even make sense as a concept. They really seem like a LOT of people sometimes, in the evenings. Tonight, when Annie got irritated by the neverending stream of interruptions before I laid down a "give us awhile" rule, she was like, "TOO MANY! You have a PLETHORA of children!"

Intolerable, that one. We laugh together so much.
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tina long-winded marie

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