Sunday, December 28, 2008

Shopping With Niecey

Back in August my mom had foot surgery to remove a weird growth, she found out shortly before she was going to come visit me that she needed the surgery. The vacation time was already submitted and she basically had no choice but to cancel her plans to come see me and use that time instead to have and recover from the surgery (she is still recovering but definitely on the mend at this point). During the time that was supposed to be spent with me fell her birthday, I had planned to take her out to eat as her present, the last minute change in plans left me without a present for her nor time to get one so I told her that we would celebrate her birthday next time I visited her, this came over the Thanksgiving holiday. She was working insane hours at work and did not get a whole lot of time to see me so there was no time to go out to eat so I decided to do the next best thing, make her dinner at home. I picked Niecey up from kindergarten that afternoon and told her we were going to make Grah a birthday dinner, she definitely liked this idea. I took her by Grah's work to say hi and inform her that dinner would be awaiting her when she got home, then we went over to a local and cheap grocery store. I did not know ahead of time that they had these incredibly adorable kid-sized carts, Niecey informed me as we walked in, I thought to myself, "Score, I can make Niecey do all the work, she'll have a blast, and I will get an awesome blog post out of it!" And so our shopping adventure began!


1. We got some fresh bread, salad, broccoli and squash for Pa (his favorite, Mom loves it too though). Oh and some of my favorite vegetable in the white fanny may box (mmmm mint meltaways, chocolate being from a bean and mint being a leaf it counts double as a veggie!).

2. Off to the meat department, Niecey decided we should eat cow, I helped her pick a reasonably priced cut (aka cheap), I can't remember what it was only that it is technically used in roasts or something, I cooked it like a steak as I do most cuts of beef. As long as it tastes good I do not mind having to chew my food, good exercise, hehe. I got tired of carrying her coat and discovered the second use of the cart's flag. (Faces blanked out to preserve innocent bystanders' privacy.)

3. Cutting through the frozen stuff section.

4. Niecey was ready for her closeup! We got the fixings for cupcakes since it was a birthday celebration and Auntie Kee is an awesome cupcake maker but a not so good cake maker (unless she buys it from the bakery).

5. We also picked up some fruit and milk. And of course mushrooms for Auntie Kee's signature mushroom gravy (which damn near killed her last night when Grah helped her make it, note: make sure Grah is not going to add greasy "drippings" to gravy after it already has olive oil and a touch of butter in it, GI nightmare!).

6. Niecey had to load the groceries on the conveyor belt. The clerk warned me not to let the managers see me taking pictures, she was really nice, I told her I would throw a fit and write a really mean blog post about the store if they tried to stop me from taking pics of my adorable cart slave! Guess they made a no cameras policy after some idiot teenagers had recently gone in the store with one in a gorilla suit videoing him rampaging through the store and scaring the crap out of young kiddies, jerks!

7. Another cute pic of her loading the groceries on the belt.

8. Of course she had to bag them too, I did help, didn't want everything all squished!

9. I was too busy cooking and keeping my assistant cook busy and safe to take pics while cooking and then we all descended on it like rabid dogs when I was done so the only food pic is of the cupcakes. We got 50 candles and had them all stuck in the cupcakes and lit, I wanted a pic but the heat of all those cheap and small candles had them last maybe 30 seconds after they were all lit! I had no idea how much light and heat would be put off by that many candles, it was really neat! I took this pathetic pic of them after we pulled the candles out, imagine them looking like they are all on fire and you've got what it looked like, hehe.

All in all it was a lot of fun shopping and cooking with Niecey. She can be a pain in the butt to get to eat but I have noticed that the more she helps make the meal the more she is willing to eat it. Too bad that small helpers can make the job take a lot longer than it normally would! When I am not in a hurry though it is definitely amusing to let the kiddo help out, she is soooo proud of herself when she does and it is nice to encourage her to develop new skills and it is generally good quality time spent together.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Niecey's Thanksgiving Thankfulness Two

Niecey has decided that she wants to write another Thanksgiving post, I tried to get her to label it as a Christmas post but she would have none of that craziness so Thanksgiving it is!

Each of the following is proceeded by "I am thankful for..."

1. Auntie Cheryl (who I stole for like three weeks)
2. Auntie Kee (Because I am insanely indulgent)
3. Big Bear (best $9.99 I ever spent)
4. Monkey Weasel
5. Tiniest Weasel (aka Smallest Weasel)
6. Turkey
7. Pa
8. Her Computer (Yes she has her own, it is an old junker from our uncle)
9. Trees
10. Her house
11. Momma Weasel
12. Pa's computer (which I am using now)
13. Boy Weasel
14. Middle Weasel
15. Cheese because it's yellow (Yellow is her favorite color if you didn't guess)
16. Time (she got a watch for Christmas)
17. Bunnies (Auntie Cheryl has two of them)
18. Frogs (because they hop apparently)
19. Random crap on the desk (she is listing everything on the desk trying to think of more, she is so a blogger in training!)
20. Herself (so am I, best niecey ever!)
21. Auntie Cheryl's sock monkeys (oh how she covets them!)
22. coolwhip(she wrote that herself copying the cool whip "bowl", aka the fancy dishes in my mom's collection)
23. crown(sweet, she is writing this post now, I just have to add the parenthetical comments for her amusement)hehehohoho
24. Big Weasel (aka Eldest Weasel)
25. Music (Ian will like this one)

And there you have it, things Niecey is thankful for, hope you enjoyed it!

Niecey has decided to end this with "hehehoho"

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas 2, Microblogologist 0

First off, merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate Christmas, to those of you that do not disregard the merriment if you so choose, you can definitely be merry if you want, whatever works for you and happy Hanukkah to my Jewish reader(s) and to Doc (if you read this Doc my present to you is I gained about 2 pounds in mostly healthy ways). That said Christmas is kicking my ass. Last Christmas I spent inside my car, outside my apartment, in the freezing cold weather we in the midwest all know and love *cough despise cough* before going to work for a few hours and then having company over in the form of a police officer and three firefighters. This Christmas so far does not seem like it is going to turn out much better. What you want me to go into excruciating detail? OK, for you my dear readers I will.

Round One: Christmas 2007 v Microblogologist

Last Christmas I was supposed to go see my family only they were sick. I was dating a guy who lived at home with his parents and his dad (who is awesome) has cancer and is immunocompromised. My goal in life at the time was to get to see boyfriend and not kill his father (who I adore). I also did not like the sounds of the diseased masses that was my family at the time, seriously ew. The year before I went to their place for thanksgiving and they decided to give me more than thanks, they gave me influenza, thanks family! After that I tended to avoid going home if they had some form of pestilence but especially with the immunocompromised in my life (besides bf's dad there was also my diabetic friend and her former premie son, aka my godson Buggy).

So I decided to wait it out and go home for new years instead. I was not thrilled with this, missed everyone and had worked my butt off to get my experiment done in time so I could have gone and all but I was trying to make the best of it. I had found a duck at the store for a good price and decided to make it for my meal, might as well celebrate with a nice meal. I baked the duck and I think made mashed potatoes and beans to go with it, some of my favorites. Right when my dinner was done the carbon monoxide detector decided that to inform me that I was going to die.

I opened the kitchen window (it was probably in the 20°F range, thanks Pasha for teaching me that alt 248 = °), turned on the stove vent thing, and muted the CO detector and sat down to eat. Unfortunately the stupid detector only stays muted for a short time before telling you that you are going to die some more in its own special ear splitting way. I think death may in fact be preferable to the horrid pain the alarm inflicts on my poor ears! I kept muting it for a bit but eventually got frustrated and moved me and my meal out into my car so I could at least eat it instead of having to get up every 30 seconds to hit the alarm. I called my BFF Pasha from the car because I knew it would make his Christmas to hear I was eating Christmas dinner in Oldsie, it did, Merry Christmas you bastard! (I swear we really are friends!)

I finished eating and the damn alarm was still going off so I decided to let the apartment air out some more and go get some work done, not like I had anything better to do. I went back in to get some stuff and open more windows and then abandoned ship. I went to work and enjoyed having the lab to myself and made up a bunch of dilution blanks, which I use to see how many bacteria are in a sample. I got back home around 1am and the damn alarm was STILL GOING OFF! The neighbor was outside smoking and told me that it was ok since he could sleep through it, I was soooo glad. What really ticked me off was the fact that the neighbors knew the alarm was going off but none of them checked on me, this is not the first time alarms have gone off in the building and they have ignored them. I check when I hear one, if it were in their apartment I would knock and see if they were ok if it went off for more than a few minutes, maybe it is a cultural thing... So I decide it is time to call the after hours number listed and get the ISUPD and they dispatched a cop and called the fire dept. They did not find any CO in my apartment and pulled the battery from the alarm. My guess is that there may have been CO produced by my oven that triggered it and then it got stuck on, could have been defective just as easily, wouldn't be the first time for either scenario in this neighborhood. Definitely a Christmas FAIL.

Christmas 1, Microblogologist 0

Round 2: Christmas 2008 v Microblogologist

As my regular readers know I contracted a plague (respiratory virus not bubonic) at the end of October when a professor decided to visit my lab and share the viral love. I quarantined myself for over 3 weeks and almost didn't go visit my family for thanksgiving but Doc checked me out and told me that I had a secondary infection and was no longer contagious and to get my butt out of here and go see my family. He didn't send me off without drugs of course, he is my drug lord after all. He sent me over to the drug dealers and they hooked me up with an antibiotic (highly debated) and these cool little cough suppressant pills. He tried to put me on two antibiotics but I protested and got it down to one, having a wacky GI tract to begin with I didn't want to beat the crap out of it with antibiotics. My Bubbie (grandma) basically called me an idiot for not listening to him and taking both, the woman who pretty much tells her friends I am a genius and going to cure cancer or something (highly unlikely), Mom also thinks I should have taken both. I currently think that I should have had both but perhaps staggered them, my GIT has been acting up a bit since I had the first round so who knows how bad it could be if I had two at the same time unbalancing the system. Remember, I do approve of antibiotic usage when it is needed.

So I took my meds and went for thanksgiving and had a blast. The antibiotics seemed to help but they did not knock it out completely, I am still sick. Thankfully I became a functional not contagious sick person so I was able to get back to work and worked my butt off since the day I got back so I could be done with the current experiment before Christmas. I did in fact finish it, not counting the ones I have to redo and we were supposed to leave the 23rd for Chicago (we as in Baby Sibling aka my babysitter aka The Unmarried Housewife), but I lost track of time and we weren't ready to go at a reasonable hour and I was starting to feel my sinuses building up pressure. The plan was to leave early today but I was feeling progressively sicker and my sinuses want me dead so that didn't happen. I am hoping that tomorrow I will feel better and be able to make the trip but either way I believe this round goes to Christmas.

Christmas 1, Microblogologist 0

Final Score: Christmas 2, Microblogologist 0

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Community

When I talk about my blog to people, whether it be fellow bloggers or people who are unaware of the blog world I will often cite reasons for starting this whole blogging thing. I lurked the blogosphere blogless for over a year I think, I enjoy reading and being a grad student I often don't have enough time to really get into a good book and so rarely bother trying to read one. Blogs were different, they are like a long series told in many short segments and it was easier for me to read a post or two or 100 in my spare time (aka time I should be doing lit review, bleck). Another thing about blogs I found was that if I really liked something brought up in a post I could comment about it and therefore interact with the author, how cool is that?!

As is often the case reading one blog led to reading another and another and another... The blogs I read in the beginning were premie blogs but eventually that led to blogs written by non-premie parents. After awhile I noticed that there were these social clicks/rings between some of the blogs I read, this intrigued me. Not too long after this I was reading one of my newest favorites and came across this post. I got a good laugh out of it and commented, we had a comment and e-mail exchange in which we discussed the idea of my having a blog:

NukeDad: I know that a lot of people who read it [his blog] are bloggers themselves, are you a blogger?
Blogless Microblogologist: I am not a blogger myself, life as a grad student who doesn't get out much does not make for much amusing blog material*.
NukeDad: Keep in touch, cuz when you start your blog I want to be one of the first subscribers.

This exchange happened about two weeks before I started this blog. I had actually entertained the idea of starting one before but had concluded I would be the most boring blogger ever, him expressing interest in a blog by little ole' me made me think about it more seriously. After this conversation I talked to Baby Sibling about hypothetically starting a blog and we threw around some ideas of what I would call it and write about and she came up with "Microblogology" and I instantly fell in love and HAD to start the blog immediately.

Back to the concept of community, the topic of this post, I even named it that. Seeing how the different bloggers interacted and formed friendships definitely attracted me to joining the blogosphere and becoming one of them and not just be a lurker on the outside looking in. Life can be a little isolated when you live 350 miles from most of your family and friends and don't make friends that quickly/easily in general but especially in the college setting**. So I started the blog and it did not take that long for me to make a few friend in the blogosphere. Not too long ago (ok fine, forever ago), I was recognized for this in what I consider to be one of the best awards I have seen by WeaselMomma, this is so sweet of her (thanks WeaselMomma!) here it is: “These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers! Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”

How sweet is that?! Only problem I have is that I have to choose 8 people, there are WAY more than just 8 people in my blog roll who totally deserve this award, but here goes:
  1. NukeDad
  2. Nonna
  3. LiteralDan
  4. Sweetened Taters
  5. Missives from Suburbia
  6. Waltz in Exile
  7. Former Goat Nanny Diaries
  8. 7 Acres of Heaven
I see this as a sign that I have made it into the blogging community, a community that I am very proud to be a part of. I have witnessed several occasions that highlight how awesome the blog community is but the most recent example I have come across I think is a shining testament to just how great our community is. It all started here, on WeaselMomma's blog, her husband had lost his job and she jokingly suggested that her readers should help them out by clicking her google ad links***. What started as a joke ended up earning her almost $200 since all of us WeaselLovers started clicking her ads, she was amazed and so grateful that people took the time to actually click. It was exciting and fun since she would update us as to how much money was earned at the bottom of her posts. Then out of the blue it was over, google got rid of the ads program and never sent out the $200. And then, just like a pheonix rising from the ashes (a second time in a way), the blogging community rallied. They would NOT be beat by this, they WOULD help the Weasels! And thus the Save the Weasels' Christmas was born, run by Big Bad Daddy Rant and pimped by others, like NukeDad.

Unfortunately I got behind on my reading because I had to work and did not find out about this until now, too late to donate nor pimp it, left only to document the fact that not only did they manage to replace the $200 they managed to earn up $250! In the end it is not about the money, of course it helps, but this $250 means so much more than its face value. This money represents how people can come together in times of hardship to help someone out just because it is the nice thing to do. The moral of this story is that there is still good in this world, sometimes it seems hard to find but it is there. I don't know about you but this definitely helps restore some of my faith in humanity! And this act of unselfish love couldn't have been directed at a nicer family, I had the great honor of meeting them with my little Niecey over thanksgiving break and they are truely wonderful people.




~~~~~Copy LiteralDan Section~~~~~
*I must say I stand corrected, apparently a few people do find my world amusing.
**In my experience as both an undergrad and a grad student one tends to form a "buddyship" with someone that ends when the shared class ends. To me a real friendship is one that continues on, even if you don't talk much when you eventually do it is like nothing has changed, the majority of my friends that fit into this category are ones I have known since K-12.
***Google ad links was a blogger feature that allowed you to host some ads and if people clicked them the blogger would earn money from it, like 0.001 cents a click so it took a LOT of clicks for this feature to make a blogger much money.

Friday, December 12, 2008

An Update, A Message for Doc, and An Answered Question

So I have not posted since I was in Chicago over the Thanksgiving holiday, what a neglectful blogger I have been! Rumors of my death are somewhat exaggerated, my new wife/babysitter is taking very good care of my workoholic self. Though her looking up what a GI doc would likely do to me if I ever let Doc talk me into seeing one has led me to conclude that I think I would rather die than take that referral. Good thing my issues are not life threatening, Doc said he has yet to lose a patient and I would hate to be the one to ruin his record!

My Shadow and I rocking the bun look Grah dislikes

I have not forgotten this blog and all of my bloggy friends, in fact in my spare time I have been trying to catch up on my blog reading, remember I was a blogoholic before I was a blogger. I will be posting more about my trip over thanksgiving and such but it will have to wait until I have a few more brain cells working. Since coming back I have been working every day and I think I am averaging about 10 hours a day, though not all of that is working 10 solid hours and I have been going to water aerobics (Thursday was the last day before finals and break sadly). I still have some residual plague symptoms but it is not that bad and does not interfere with my working so I plan to ignore it and hope the immune system eventually works it out.

Niecey and Smallest Weasel (so cute!)

Despite all the driving, 5.5 hours to Chicago followed by about 5 to Michigan after sleeping an hour between, it was worth it to get to see my beloved family and it was such a treat getting to meet the real WeaselMomma and her delightful family. My little shadow definitely felt it was worth the time and gas for me to come visit her and go meet our new weasel friends. I was not planning to make the trip since I was still sickly but Doc assured me that I was not contagious anymore and told me to go see the family. Niecey definitely appreciated the fact that I followed his advice and wanted to tell him. Here you go Doc, a video on my blog just for you, thank you so much for all you do to try and keep me functioning despite my orneriness:

video

And I have decided to answer a question (and probably go off on several tangents) I received from Abby here since my computer ate my reply to her on her blog and also I have a tendency to write way too much for a comment (if you aren't cool with this Abby let me know and I'll delete this part or edit it). She and her wife have an adorable daughter who has GI issues, some of her symptoms are quite similar to mine but the poor kid is way worse than I am and we have different causes for our issues. I find it interesting that so many GI issues have very similar symptoms and treatments, I learn so much reading about what they are going through with Hallie (though of course I prefer the posts that tell how cute and smart she is with pictoral evidence). In my experience and based on what I know and have read, people with GI issues have to find the right balance of drugs and foods to either control or lessen the symptoms. The current treatment Hallie is on or is about to be on involves a course of antibiotics to try and knock back a potential overgrowth of bacteria in her intestines (most likely kinds that are not the healthiest to have) . Someone suggested that they put her on probiotics (she is actually already on them), which are health benefiting microorganisms (generally bacteria), to hopefully prevent some of the more unpleasant aspects of going on the antibiotic* (diarrhea mainly I am guessing but they can cause more than just that).

Being a microbiologist with similar issues and who happens to work with probiotic organisms (specifically Bifidobacteria) I commented that I felt this was good advice. Use the antibiotic to knock out the bad and then take probiotics during and after in hopes of colonizing her gut with healthy bacteria. She asked me what I use and somewhat ashamedly I must confess that I do not really practice what I preach and currently am not taking any probiotics. I was trying to get into the habit of eating Dannon Activa but I do not like yogurt and especially after coming down with the plague I had even less desire to eat the stuff. I am definitely considering trying probiotics in pill form but have not gotten around to looking at what my options for that are. In Hallie's case I would recommend taking a supplement that contains at least one strain of Bifidobacteria (for her colon) and potentially a Lactobacillus species or two (or more, they tend to colonize the upper intestines) because the goal is to help her get through the antibiotic and establish a healthy flora. Given that the science is behind on substantiating claims made about certain possibly probiotic organisms (human studies are complex and expensive) and currently probiotics are not regulated it is hard to say if the claims made by these products are valid or not**, but it does not hurt to try.

I really hope that the antibiotic, mixed with probiotics, helps balance out Hallie's system. It is hard enough as an adult dealing with GI issues and knowing the reason behind them and the treatments (some of the treatments can be unpleasant), I cannot fathom being a child and only knowing the pain and discomfort these issues bring. But it is not all bad, Hallie has parents who fight for her and will do anything to help her as well as a nanny who adores her and does what she can to help as well. Also she is developing an instinct for what foods make her sick, something I am starting to get as well and it is very useful. No matter what she is an amazing little girl who is going to be a big sister in about two months (8 weeks).

~~~~~Copy LiteralDan Section~~~~~
*Anyone can have GI issues during and after antibiotic therapy, the intestinal flora in humans is very important and antibiotics tend to wreck at least some havoc with it, one of several reasons not to go on antibiotics unless it is necessary. I am not against the proper use of antibiotics, improper use of them and the resistance that is resulting from that is a huge public health concern. They can cause more harm than good in someone who is sick with "just a virus" and I am glad that doctors are more and more standing up to their patients who insist on having a script even when it is clearly a viral infection and it is explained to them that an antibiotic will not help. I say those people should be put on placebomycin and told it should work within 2 weeks and they should drink plenty of fluids and rest...
**Please do not interpret my skepticism as my not thinking probiotics give benefits, as a scientist my job is to be skeptical.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Microblogologist in the World of Weasels

A few months ago I came across a hilarious blog. Little did I know that not only would this blog entertain me and give me a fun source of blog fodder (the Flat WeaselMomma series), but it would lead to my becoming friends with the real WeaselMomma. And so being that she lives not too far from my parents' place and I was pretty sure she wasn't a serial killer* I suggested we have a playdate "for the kids". She must have decided I wasn't a serial killer* as well and her daughter Monkey Weasel decided it would be fun to have us crash her birthday dinner so Niecey and I jumped in the trusty oldsmobile and off we went.

A great time was had by all and the real WeaselMomma is an even better cook than the Flat one! Her family has the same tradition as mine and the birthday person gets to pick the meal so we had fried chicken, broccoli and noodles so ironically both forms of WeaselMomma made me chicken.

Her entire family was delightful and Niecey and I felt at home right away. I am so happy we were able to have our get together, we'll definitely have to do it again! Niecey wanted to write WeaselMomma a letter when we got home, she wrote the first part and then I took over:

Dear WeaselMomma,

i am niecey i am 5. I have a bear named big bear, he is my favorite bear. He loves me and I love him too and I have a monkey comforter and I like it, it is my favorite and I love it. And I have my own bed I like my own bed. I sleep downstairs and I go to kindergarten at school and I have friends that I like they are nice to me.

Niecey

I thought she wanted to write a thank you note but apparently not, lol. Guess I'll have to thank them myself. Thank you Weasels for being great hosts and making us feel like part of the family! And for all you jealous people who read WeaselMomma's blog and have never met her, she is even funnier in person and hanging out with her was like a living a great blog post. Her husband is hilarious as well and the two of them together...

I can't wait to see the pictures her hubby took, I didn't take many myself so have to wait to see if they turned out. I'm also looking forward to reading her post about our meeting. Oh and there will be a few more FWM posts, I have plans and pics for them but have not gotten around to writing them all up, they will have to wait until I get home.



~~~~~Copy LiteralDan Section~~~~~
*Unless we are both serial killers with very involved cover stories to try and lure our unsuspecting victims and our meeting was part of an evil serial killer alliance to make our stories even more believable.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cooking With Flat WeaselMomma

As any of you who have read my blog in the past few weeks knows I have been sick, still am. During this time I have not had much appetite (normal for me) and most foods do not appeal with me so I have been living on Grape-nuts, ensure, and chicken noodle soup. Much of my time with the plague has been spent with Flat WeaselMomma who has been helping nurse me back to health. We have decided to share her recipe for chicken noodle soup, enjoy!

Step 1: Buy only the finest ingredients.

Step 2: Get bowl.

Step 3: Open can.

Step 4: Put soup in bowl.

Step 5: Heat soup in microwave.
Step 6: Serve and enjoy!
Note: I prefer the soup at full strength.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Niecey is helping me write this post while we are in Michigan with our family. Here is what she is thankful for not necessarily in order.

1. Turkey
2. Auntie Cheryl
3. Auntie Kee
4. Pa
5. Her family
6. Momma
7. Graw
8. Big Bear
9. Big Bear's old ribbon
10. Her monkey
11. Bed
12. House
13. Monkey comforter
14. Auntie Marilyn
15. The kitchen
16. Her cousins
17. Auntie Carol
18. Zippy*
19. Bananas
20. TV
21. Lily
22. William
23. Freddy
24. Telephone
25. Months of the year
26. Herself
27. Her pig shirt
28. Plants
29. Flat WeaselMomma

Happy Thanksgiving everyone, I hope you all have plenty to be grateful for =).

~~~~~Copy LiteralDan Section~~~~~
*Zippy is Auntie Marilyn's dog (Auntie Kee and Zippy are not friends).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Adventures of Flat WeaselMomma: Visiting Doc

Tuesday I went to see my doctor since after more than three weeks I am still sickly. I had sent him a whiny e-mail asking if I could wiggle my way into his "scheduled" athletic walk-ins on Monday, he sent me back to come in Tuesday at 8am and he would make an appointment for me. Resigned to the fact that I wouldn't be able to go to Chicago/Michigan anyway I went to see if maybe he could give me something to help my symptoms while I wallowed in my apartment. Of course Flat WeaselMomma came with me, which amused Doc, good thing for him Non-Flat WeaselMomma didn't come, she is quite possibly more ornery than I am! I had warned him about her to prevent the possible scenario of my not being able to talk and explain why I was carrying around a laminated picture of a friend in an adequate way as to avoid a psych referral/trip to the mental ward. He thinks my psych visit/ward jokes are unfounded since he has never threatened me with that, though he did suggest I spend some time with the stress management/student counseling people which totally counts as sending me to a shrink in my opinion (I am a pain in the butt).

Anyway I arrived at the clinic and asked for a face mask to help prevent my coughing on everyone (ok fine, I got it more for the hilarious picture it would make for the blog than for trying to not spread the plague since I have proven I can prevent spreading it without the mask). I got to spend some time with my amazing nurse, chit chatting while taking vitals and not having to worry about being misinterpreted, priceless. I have had subs a few times, no one comes close to her in awesomeness and I now often will ask if she is working while making appointments to avoid not having her if humanly possible. Nothing against the others, though a couple of them did not mesh with me too well and one scared the crap out of me*, a doc visit is missing something without her as she is a very important part of Team Karen.

Then I got to see my doc, who looked into every hole in my head and informed me I was going on an antibiotic. Thus the negotiations began. I have stong opinions on antibiotic use, they are misused way too much and it is causing resistant strains to evolve rapidly, there are infections that were killers in the past, became treatable with antibiotics but now are becoming highly resistant to the ones we have and going back to being untreatable and deadly (MRSA is one example, also tuberculosis is a big player). Patients demanding antibiotics when they have viral infections and doctors caving and giving them over instead of telling them they are idiots and antibiotics do NOT work against viruses is a huge problem. Another somewhat neglected issue beyond the resistance issue is that humans live in symbiosis with many kinds of beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms and there is a balance between them, killing off portions of them with antibiotics can mess a person up, while uncommon this can actually cause death (usually in really sickly patients but not always). That said I am not against the use of antibiotics and will go on them if I have a bacterial infection, I prefer that there is proof of said infection though. Unfortunately there isn't a quick and easy test he can have done that will definitely say I had a bacterial infection. Discovering bacteria in mucus does not prove it since bacteria are always there. Having GI issues I am even more leary of going on antibiotics.

He laid his case out quite well and after going back and forth about it we agreed on my taking one course of one antibiotic. This is one of the reasons I adore my doctor, I seriously doubt many would allow me to have so much input. Of course in the end he is the doctor and he will not let me talk him out of a treatment he feels that I need and if he puts his foot down I follow his directions. He is the one who went to med school after all, though he totally admitted he only went so that he could put me on medications that would force me to eat more, just as I had suspected all along! He then told me to go to Michigan, which I protested since I am still sick and my grandma is 98.5 and if this bug knocked me around so much I would hate to find out what it would do to her. Based on my syptoms and the timing he is convinced that I no longer have the virus and that my sickliness is due to an overgrowth of bacteria in my sinuses, which are normally there and do not cause problems but under the circumstances have become one. I am on day two of the antibiotics and seem to be doing better, hopefully this course will knock them out and I will be better by next week so I can get going on my research!

Now I know some of you may not be entirely impressed that he lets me argue with him without getting pissy, I personally am since my doctors in the past have not been so secure in their doctorhood. I also appreciate the fact that he takes the time to answer my questions, both real and fake**. If all that is not enough to prove he is awesome then this is, after spending quite awhile hanging out with me asking me about different aspects of my health and life (proving that he cares about me and not just my illness) he correctly interpreted some of my snarky comments/comebacks as insecurity (mind reader!) . I am pretty sure he had not intended to let me know this but to prove to me that I am in his opinion worth his time he showed me his appointment schedule for the day, I was the only one there. That dear readers is one of the sweetest things anyone has ever done for me and I simply do not have the words to express how much it meant to me. And so to prove I am a compliant patient I am getting ready to follow my doctor's orders and will soon be leaving for Chicago and tomorrow will be in Michigan with my family, several members of which have threated to "fatten me up" so this could get interesting.

In other news: Happy Birthday Baby Sibling!!!!! Baby Sib turns 23 today, if anyone wants to wish her a happy birthday you can visit her blog, perhaps a ton of comments will help motivate her to stop neglecting it!


~~~~~Copy LiteralDan Section~~~~~
*Doc was injecting my tendon and asked for a bandaid and sub nurse was too busy galking at my having a needle completely inserted into my wrist to hear the request, which had to be repeted several times. He practically had to yell at her to snap her out of it and told her he needed the bandaid NOW because the needle was sitting really close to an artery. It was bad enough hearing that but even worse was hearing worry/slight panic in my doctor's voice, he is not one to freak out over minor issues. If I need another injection there is no way I'm getting it with anyone but my nurse assisting. Ironic thing, she and I have the same messed up tendon and she was getting hers looked at and possibly injected while I was getting mine injected.

**I usually go in with some off the wall treatment option or diagnosis of what I have that is totally made up and ridiculous, keeps him on his toes ;).

How to Survive the Coming Ice Age

While some of you might believe in global warming there are those of us who know that in reality there is an ice age coming instead, for some of us it has already arrived (current temperature here Actual: 24°F Feels Like*: 18°F.) While there are some people who are excited about the coming death to us all the rest of us are doing all we can to survive until maybe someday Al Gore's predictions of a future utopia will come true and running our oldsmobiles when we can to try and do our part to bring this dream to life.

It has recently come to my attention that one of my favorite Floridian's will be traveling north from her tropical paradise into the land of ice and snow and needs the help of someone who has managed to survive 25 consecutive winters. With the help of Flat WeaselMomma we are answering this plea for help, not only for the obviously humanitarian reasons but also because McMommy's blog rocks and should she perish in the wasteland that is the North from October to April we would lose one of the greatest bloggers on the blogosphere. And so here is the official Microblogologist's Guide to Surviving a Northern Winter:

Start:
Step 1: Long underwear, I personally prefer the newer kinds that are more like leggings and do not have that old school square weave, they can be purchased at walmart for about $7. Unfortunately for me this year they seem to have decided medium is the new small and so my new ones are baggy.Step 2: Optional extra pair of long underwear, if it is really cold or your pants are not made of thick material a second pair of long underwear can save you from freezing to death.Step 3: Clothes.Step 4: The hoodie, this is a very versitle layer, it can work in chilly weather by itself, it can be worn indoors either zipped or unzipped based on the coldness of the establishment, and in this context it is a layer that doubles as a head cover since it seems that winter coats these days do not come with hoods without that tacky fake fur (no offense if you like that kind of thing). I make use of my hoodies pretty much year round since air conditioning is often cranked lower than my comfort zone (~70-85°F).Step 5: The ear/forhead band and boots. My beloved Aunt bought me a headband last winter, I used to scoff at them but now am 100% in love with them, they really help keep the ears warm but also for those of us who have ditched the bangs look it also helps keep the forhead comfy. Boots are somewhat optional if you are not going to come into contact with snow and there are a variety of different styles, I personally went for a cheap and simple black boots that match my coat and do not see the point of spending a lot of money on name brands that you can buy walmart version for a tenth the price. If either not wearing boots or it is very cold wearing two pairs of socks or getting special thick socks will help keep the toes from freezing off.Step 6: The winter coat. The key here is that you want a lot of insulation, make sure it has a decent amount of stuffing in all areas. Step 7: Scarves and hats. Scarves are often used as fashion accessories but more importantly they keep the face and neck warm as they were originally made to do. Hats of course help keep the head warm, a lot of body heat is lost through the head (at least that is what adults told me growing up). Step 8: Gloves/mittens. I never wear gloves, my hands are almost always cold due to a condition I have called Raynaud's Phenomenon**, all year round (it is a huge reason for my cold intolerance). Gloves seperate the fingers and actually cause them to get colder than they would be without the gloves, mittens are better for me but they are very clumsy, I usually ball my hands and keep them in my coat pockets. In normal individuals gloves or mittens can be highly beneficial.And there you have it, all you need to survive the winter and coming ice age. Keep warm!

~~~~~Copy Literal Dan Section~~~~~
*Here in the frozen tundra there is this phenomenon called "wind chill", this causes the perceived temperature to be lower than the actual temperature.
**Raynaud's causes the blood vessels to constrict, I have a pretty mild form but it is definitely not pleasant.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Adventures of Flat WeaselMomma: Water Aerobics

When I first joined my boss's lab she had another grad student, she was finishing up her master's degree and we became friends (I miss her terribly since she graduated and moved away, college sucks). E is a bit of a fitness nut, she believes that exercise is something that should be incorporated into a person's lifestyle, I was more of a, "can't we just go get ice cream instead?" when the subject came up. Then one day I was loitering in our office distracting her from her thesis writing (sometimes I distracted her too much but there were times she needed it, I tried very hard to balance it), she was a bit stressed as is normal for someone going through the torture that is writing a thesis and preparing to graduate and during her Karen break she mentioned how she wanted to try water aerobics but she wanted someone to go with her. After much discussion I conceded and agreed to go with her, grudgingly.

So we went and she didn't really like it, she was into a ton of cross training stuff and in shape so to her it wasn't the level of intensity she wanted it to be. And then there was me, Miss Whine Why-Do-I-Have-To-Go, and it kicked my butt and I LOVED it! I have a knee with tendinitis and probably arthritis and quickly noticed that it worked the muscles that need to be worked to possibly get the knee back into alignment, I suck at doing the at home exercises, combination of laziness, forgetfulness, and lack of motivation. Water aerobics to me is fun, working out with others around helps to entertain and motivate me, and it makes me feel good, I had gotten somewhat badly out of shape. I am totally committed to it and try to go all four days a week it is offered, I schedule my experiments in such a way that I can do both whenever possible. And so Flat WeaselMomma's visit to my world would not have been complete without her attending a water aerobics class.

I almost dropped my camera in the pool while taking video of parts of the class. The weird fuzzy stuff at the bottom of one part is a towel. And my somewhat randomly cracking up during it is in response to the others making fun of me. I had some footage that was hilarious but unfortunately one of the ladies kept getting into the shot and I don't think she wanted to, since I was in the pool I could not check the view screen to make sure, plus we move around a lot, I didn't know until later. Since I am fairly certain she did not want to be recorded (she moved away from her regular spot when I got the camera set up) and even if she doesn't care I will not post parts with her in it without her knowledge and consent. If people are interested in those parts I am willing to ask her next time I see her if she minds being in the background of a few clips and if she is fine with it then I can make either a "bloopers" vid or edit this one to include that footage. But for now I think this is kinda funny and you get the idea:

video

In case it is hard to understand what I was saying between the noise and my voice not being 100% back I basically said that I do this 4 days a week and thanked you for reading my blog and watching the video =). Oh and I also reinformed my bratty little sister that it is water aerobics not water dancing!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cough Syrup Bender


For two weeks I have been symptomatic with a respiratory virus, as I have previously complained about. I saw a doctor, not MY doctor since it was a last minute squeeze me in on a Saturday appointment, to get a strep test. I was pretty sure it was viral but I wanted to make sure. I was right, both the rapid strep test and the culture based strep test came back negative. This was good in that I do not like being on antibiotics, I will go on them if I need them but it has to be for a very good reason. The bad part is that if it were bacterial I could have gone on an antibiotic and been better long before now.

After seeing not my doctor (and not my nurse), I went over to the pharmacy to discuss treatment options. I am on meds to help me digest my food safely, the main one does not play well with others and basically rules out my taking most over-the-counter meds. He told me I could ingest halls cough drops and recommended gargling salt water and/or spraying it up my nose. So I tried the cough drops, my normal at home treatment of sore throats and coughing, and for awhile they helped but after a few days I started feeling sick when I took them. Then I started to get better and the beginning of this week I told my boss I would very likely be going in and seeing her to discuss the experiment I finished and to plan the next round of it (I am going to repeat the experiment three times, this ensures that the data I collect are* good). Of course telling my boss I was on the mend caused a total relapse and I have been feeling worse lately than when I first came down with this plague.

Since the cough drops were not helping I decided to try the salt water gargle treatment, holy crap I am never ever doing that again! At first I wondered if I put too much salt in (I probably did), so I tried plain water and the result was the same, I am unable to gargle without choking/gagging. After staying up coughing two nights in a row I got desperate and sent my doctor a whiny e-mail asking him if there were any meds I could take. He e-mailed me back, normally he doesn't since he does not want to violate the stupid privacy rules but I begged him to since I knew I would not get the call from him or my nurse, I was so excited! He instructed me to go to the pharmacy and ask for the special cough syrup that contains codeine. Being the most compliant patient in the world I did.


My pharmacists predict that while on this stuff I will be rather knocked out. It was suggested that I likely should not drive by the student pharmacist they suckered into doing my drug counseling (I asked him what he did to piss them off), the pharmacist who tends to find me hilarious added that walking might not be a good idea either. They laughed when I brought up the fact that I have my doc's e-mail address AND a blog, both of which Doc knew when he told me to go on this stuff... This of course proves that my doc is the best doc ever, he is willing to risk my stoned e-mailing him to help me survive this plague! Unless of course he is working on rounding out his psych referral... I wonder how surprised he'll be that I actually picked the stuff up, I am not really into the idea of taking narcotics after watching my middle sister and a dear friend get addicted to them. Oh well, I will only be on it for a short time, if it does not help then Doc wants to see my sorry sickly self.

And so dear readers Flat WeaselMomma and I are going on a cough syrup bender** this weekend and hopefully I will be ready to join the real world soon!


Picture Disclaimer: These pictures are totally staged, though most likely it will look like this but with me in bed not in the living room. And no Fizz I will not be making a video of me "high" on the cough syrup, it would be the boringest video ever given than my voice is shot and I will just cough and go to sleep.

~~~~~Copy LiteralDan Section~~~~~
*I used are instead of is because the word "data" is plural.
**I have been on narcotics before when I had my appendix out, they put me to sleep and make me stare at walls and nothing more. I am a very boring druggie, I was also a very boring drunk the one time I let myself get drunk (I was 23 and my mother is STILL scandalized by it and I wasn't even that drunk!). I am kinda proud of the fact that I am at my most amusing when I am stone cold sober =).

Friday FAIL

As I have whined about for about two weeks now I am still sickly, sadly this is totally cramping Flat WeaselMomma's and my style. Thankfully she is a very sweet guest and has been helping to nurse me back to health, thanks FWM, your home made walmart brand condensed chicken noodle soup rocks!

Since my last Microbiology FAIL post was such a hit and I found this picture I had taken a few weeks ago up in the pathogens lab I have decided to post it as another nerdy imitation FAIL blog post (seriously check out the original, they are hilarious):

The purse is owned by a woman who hypothetically should know better than to have a purse, with candy in it, in the path lab, not only sitting right next to where the biohazardous trash is kept before making its pilgrimage to be sterilized but going in the purse to get candy to eat while in the pathogen lab! My lab bench is right by this spot and I was leaving my bench to go get something across the lab and happened to catch her in the act and tell her one should not eat in the path lab... She gave me a look that said, "Huh, when was this a rule?" and mumbled something incoherant, I mentioned it to the prof in case she gets sick so he has a heads up and can defend himself if need be. Seriously the only food that is supposed to enter the lab is for testing and once it enters it is no longer considered safe for human consumption. Oh and I totally did not see her wash her hands before trying for the snack... I was horrified by the entire thing to say the least and declare it an Epic FAIL!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Adventures of Flat WeaselMomma

In my previous post I introduced you to my guest Flat WeaselMomma (FWM) from World of Weasels, she came in the other day. I nearly had a heart attack when I found her smooshed into my little mailbox, I was expecting the mail carrier to prop her in my door like she has done with that size envelope in the past, perhaps I had a newbie or something...


After making sure she was OK I took her to dinner at the Pita Pit, my newest eatery here in town, I go there maybe once a week more or less, it depends on my mood, time and if I am hungry when I am on that side of town. I wish they had smaller pitas, we had trouble finishing the whole thing, they are so big!


Then we headed into the lab. I am still sickly but was starting to feel better and wanted to get some prep work done so I could start working on my next rep as soon as I knock this virus out of my system once and for all (unfortunately it is rallying, sigh). We made the broth for my next rep, broth keeps for quite awhile so I knew if I took a turn for the worse it would be fine.




Then we went to the super walmart, I let FWM hang out with her own kind a bit, see it may look like she is waving but in reality that is the Flat Pride sign.


So all in all a good and relatively productive day, hopefully I will soon get over this virus and perhaps we can go on some more adventures soon! Oh and rumor has it I don't share with FWM and I will admit that it definitely appears that I am a selfish donut hog in the video in my last post but let me assure you that I do in fact share with my beloved guest. This was the scene before I made that video, you can clearly see that FWM had ODed on the chocolate, the thought of taking a bite of the donut made her feel sick.



Doc Disclaimer: Those wrappers were from the past couple days, I am totally not living on chocolate. Oh and if they call you tell the psych ward people they can let me go, or at least give me internet access so I won't go into blog withdrawls, it will so not be pretty otherwise...

Tasty Tuesday Two: Taste the Rainbow

OK so I procrastinated and it is not technically Tuesday anymore but I am going to pretend it is and it is my blog so I can, hehe. It has come to my attention that at least one of my readers struggles to eat veggies and so this post is dedicated to Nonna, hopefully it will help her get her 5 a day of fruits and veggies as is recommended. The little icon on my raisins (above) says that one should eat all kinds of different colors and so I went through my apartment and found examples of fruits and veggies for each color of the rainbow, and here they are:

Red:










Apples













Pomegranates

Orange:










Clementines











Carrots (accidentally frozen)

Yellow:











Yukon Gold Potatoes

(Bananas not pictured since I peel and freeze them and they look weird that way)

Green:












Broccoli












Peas

Blue:








Blueberries
Purple:












Grapes

and bonus:
Brown:







Chocolate (it comes from a bean, beans are vegetables)

I hope that was informative and shows just how easy it can be to get your 5 a day!

And here is a spotlight on nutrition vid and the introduction of a very special guest who is hanging out with me for awhile:

video

Special thanks to my BFF Pasha who told me about Windows Movie Maker, the end got messed up and his recommendation saved the vid!

Doc Disclaimer: In case you read this I am not living on donuts and sadly both times I have eaten them recently they have made me sick, you should refer me to Dr. Kevorkian since I am not sure if life is worth living without donuts (kidding, don't refer me, cursor away from the psych referral button!). Oh and I am so not kidding about chocolate, it is a vegetable! And it is milk chocolate so counts as dairy too, see I totally do NOT need to see the dietitian. Am I your best patient or what!