Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dear Friends, Today is Talk Like Shakespeare Day!

Dear Friends, today is Talk Like Shakespeare Day!
And therefore all in blank verse must we speak.
In honor of the legendary scribe,
Pentameter iambic shall I use
Today while rendering my thoughts in print.
I must aver, it's harder than it looks.
I can't believe he wrote WHOLE PLAYS like this!
It really casts his works in a new light.
The good news is that blank verse doesn't rhyme,
And even then, to write this post took time.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Chocolate compound beats codeine for cough-suppression - Boing Boing

Chocolate Compound Beats Codeine for Cough Suppression (via

Next time you have a cough, head for the Hershey's. Apparently, the theobromine in chocolate (the same substance that makes chocolate toxic to dogs, cats, and horses) is a better cough suppressant than OTC and even prescription meds.

It's good news for me, since I can't take dextromethorphan, which is in almost every OTC cough remedy as well as many prescription offerings. Now if I can convince the doctor to give me a prescription for chocolate chips, I'll be all set. :-)

Mother Nature's orchestra

I had reason to walk to Broad Street and back a little while ago. My 0.6 mile trek had quite the soundtrack. Mockingbirds, robins, English sparrows, song sparrows, starlings, red-winged blackbirds, crows, and mourning doves... and those were just the birdcalls I can identify. I've seen other kinds of bird in that half-mile-plus span -- cardinals, grackles, bluejays, and slate-colored juncos, to name a few -- who didn't make their presence obvious this afternoon.

The varied nature of the sounds, and the complete independence of the different voices all calling at once, reminded me of the sound of an orchestra warming up while they await the conductor's cue to tune up with a Concert A pitch.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Camo eggs?

Mark's dad is home from the hospital, so we went to visit his parents this afternoon. On the way home, we stopped in a CVS where, of course, Easter products are currently for sale as that holiday is next Sunday.

Nothing says "Easter" quite like plastic camouflage eggs with plastic soldiers inside. Hence, I suppose, the reason I saw this particular package for sale this afternoon.

It's reminiscent of the Easter baskets I blogged about in March 2008:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Patient Education

This URL is posted on the bulletin board next to my father-in-law's hospital bed. We are all about to become learners about congestive heart failure.

Edit to add: I already am unhappy with some of the things I'm seeing. For example, it's not nice to realize that a patient who has symptoms while at rest is in one of the more advanced stages of the condition.

Hospital Psychosis

My father-in-law is in the hospital. Mark took yesterday off from work and we went to visit him.

It was the first full-blown case of hospital psychosis I've witnessed. That happens when removing the patient from familiar surroundings causes extreme disorientation. Wow. It's both scary and heartbreaking to see what happens to a person whose brain has gone that route.

The good news is that a return to familiar surroundings brings relief of the psychosis symptoms. The bad news is he can't go home until the medical issues for which he was admitted are resolved. As of yesterday, he still had excess fluid, ankle swelling, shortness of breath when breathing "room air" unaugmented by oxygen. There is no way in creation they can send him home like that. He doesn't currently use oxygen at home, but yesterday's visit left me wondering if that will be added to his medical regimen when all is said and done. Yesterday, he declared that he isn't a heart patient. Maybe he WASN'T a heart patient, but if that was the case before now, clearly the circumstances are changing.

Yesterday's visit was just tough, all ways round. It's hard to see someone so ill AND so utterly disoriented into the bargain. :-(

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I'm sensing a theme here...

I took my mom food shopping tonight. My dad has been having major issues with neck, back, and arm pain, and while treatments have been helping, he hasn't been driving while this has been going on. My mom doesn't drive, so I drove her.

Mark and I don't need much in the way of groceries, but I managed to find a few things we "need" in the house, especially since I've been back to the diet/exercise regimen I was on prior to the surgery.

First, I found something Mark and I both like, flavored almonds. They're not so easy to find close to home, but the supermarket where my parents shop had all sorts of them. It's a healthy snack, as snacks go, as long as you eat a normal portion of them So I picked up chocolate-flavored and chocolate-mint flavored.

Then when we were in the dairy aisle, I noticed chocolate almond milk. Into the cart it went. (We normally drink soy milk.)

Then we got to whatever aisle had Nutella in it. For those who haven't tried it, it's a chocolate hazelnut spread that IMO is delicious. I haven't bought it since Mark and I were first married, nearly 12 years ago. I decided I'd waited long enough. I made one concession, though, and decided to try the house brand as it cost less and had fewer calories.

Chocolate- and chocolate-mint-flavored almonds. Chocolate almond milk. Chocolate hazelnut spread. Have you noticed a theme here?

I also got a package of 4 jar openers from the dollar aisle, and if THOSE had come in a chocolate/nut flavor, I'd have opted for that version as well. But as jar openers are inedible, I had to settle for the non-chocolate/nut variety. ;-)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ian Laperriere

Flyers Town Hall Meeting: Ian Laperriere is our surprise tour guide for the Flyers Locker Room area. :-) It was nice to thank him directly for all he's done for the Flyers. He's a legit warrior.

Town Hall: Laviolette

Flyers Town Hall Meeting: Coach Peter Laviolette addresses fans.

Town Hall: Holmgren

Paul Holmgren

Flyers Town Hall Meeting: GM Paul Holmgren addresses fans


Last year, I saw five different specialists during the course of the year. Now I'm adding another: an ear/nose/throat doc. I don't know if I'm just becoming more self-conscious about asking people to repeat themselves, or whether I actually am making that request more often than usual. Either way, as I haven't had a hearing test since age 12, I decided that I'm long, LONG overdue to have my hearing checked. 35 years is, to put it mildly, rather too long to go between exams, particularly for a person with a family history of early-onset hearing loss.

My biggest concern is whether I'm losing clarity, not just volume. That's what my dad is dealing with: he has nerve deafness, which not only causes decibel loss, but garbles what he CAN hear somewhat. There's no fix for THAT. Hearing aids can amplify the sound, but there's nothing that will get the sound clearer when the sound distortion is happening with the ear itself.

But there's no sense borrowing trouble. I get numerous phone calls in a given week, and I'm not necessarily noticing my problems getting worse when I haven't got lipreading to rely on. So even if my hearing clarity turns out to be impaired, it can't be THAT bad yet or I'd be having a far worse time using the phone.

In any event, it's well past time to establish the state of my ears via a baseline hearing test. Once I do this, when I get going with regularly scheduled tests, we'll have a basis of comparison to see what, if anything, has changed from one test to the next.

Monday, April 11, 2011

April 10

Yesterday, April 10, was both a happy and a sad anniversary. The happy one was what I called our Mini-versary: the one-year anniversary of bringing Mini home. :-)

The sad one was the two-year anniversary of the final regular season home game for the Phantoms: 4/10/09. I will never forget losing my team. It was exactly like a bereavement to me, and that's pretty much how I've processed it over the past two years.

I'm genuinely glad for the coincidence of getting my dog on the anniversary of losing my team, as it gives me something happy to focus on on April 10.

Thursday, April 07, 2011


Whew. What a day. It started out challenging, with the funeral of a longtime friend's father. And it ended up with a FREAKING parking ticket because JFM's street has a time limit, which I exceeded because of going to the funeral luncheon. Fanabla. Why is it the only farging city department that works promptly is the parking authority? 15 freaking minutes after it was over the limit, BOOM. Instant ticket. Try getting any OTHER city authority to do something within 15 minutes. Your results will be more like, "within 15 minutes of the Rapture".

Arrrrgh. Did I say, "What a day"? More like, "What a week!"

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Nervous breakdown

Dear Lord. If I don't have a myocardial infarction right this minute, I might never have one.

Our loveseat and sofa both have a recliner on each end. Mini saw the recliner opened up numerous times when I first came home from the hospital, and never once investigated the inner workings of the loveseat.

Tonight, Mark had his feet up, and unseen by him or me, Mini decided to get right into the innards of the loveseat.

Mark had already gone upstairs to go to bed when I heard the dog crying from... somewhere in the general direction of the loveseat.

I still don't know how she did it, but she got allll the way between the fabric that comprises the side of the loveseat, and wedged her head through a small gap between a metal bar and the wooden frame of the sofa itself.

I'd called for Mark's assistance in getting her out, but once we realized that we couldn't lift the loveseat off the floor without risking strangling the dog, there wasn't much he could do. Mine were the only hands small enough to actually get into minimal open area so I could determine the dog's predicament by relying on the sense of touch.

Poor Mini was crying, a sound that's distressingly similar to a newborn baby's voice. Then at first when the Scary Hand appeared in front of her face, she tried to bite it. But a moment later, she realized it wasn't a Scary Hand, it was Mom's hand, and alternated between licking my hand and crying.

I finally did the only thing I COULD do to get the dog out. I cut into the fabric on the side of the recliner. It's the side that faces away from the foot traffic anyway, so the repair job I'm going to do on it won't be too dreadful to behold.

Once I did that, I was able to straighten Mini out and align her body with the direction her head was facing. Then it just became a matter of carefully extracting her. This was easier said than done, as she'd gotten not only her head, but her ears past the point where the logjam occurred, and her ears were not wanting to cooperate when I tried to maneuver her back in the other direction.

But I was persistent, and careful, and eventually I was rewarded with a safely extracted Mini in my hands, wagging her tail.

Because I'm Italian, and there is no problem so big that it can't be resolved by applying food, I proceeded to the kitchen and gave Mini a scoop of dog food, though this isn't normally a time of day she'd be eating.

I then took the piece of chocolate fudge that I'd been saving for emergency purposes and ate it. When Mini saw me eat, she started eating her food, too. As long as I ate, she ate. But I ran out of food before she did, so there's still some dog food in the kitchen.

Mini, meanwhile, has been checked over and there's no outward sign of damage, nor any indication of soreness when I touch her anywhere. Still, just to be safe, I dug out one of the anti-inflammatories left over from her neck pain episode last October, and gave it to her. She might not hurt yet, but that's a pre-emptive strike against soreness that might appear later.

She's now parked by my side on the couch as I type. She just gave a biiiig sigh of content. If my own hands weren't scratched and scraped from grappling around under the loveseat, and if I wasn't sitting here trying to unwind from the Adrenaline Dump of the ages, I might not even know anything significant had transpired.

If I've said it once, I've said it a zillion times: pets don't need nine lives as much as pet PARENTS do. Mark threw his shoulder out while trying to move the loveseat, and my heart attack is having a nervous breakdown.

Tomorrow I'll figure out what to do with sewing the fabric back up.

It's always sunny in my doctor's office

This is the light fixture on the ceiling in Dr. C's waiting room. I guess it really IS always sunny in Philadelphia! :-)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Allergies, phooey!

The good news: Mini and I took our favorite Long Walk for the first time since before my surgery.

The bummer: Broad and Pattison looks... WRONG without the Spectrum sitting there. Last time we took that walk, the Spectrum was (externally) completely intact. Now, it's entirely gone. Only rubble remains.

The nuisance: I should have used sunblock. I flat-out forgot my sunlight allergy, and took my walk in short sleeves. Winter sunlight is too weak to trigger itching, at which point, the sunblock gets put away. But I now have my proof that Spring sunlight is, in fact, strong enough to cause a reaction, because I've been itching unmercifully for the past few hours. GRRRRR. Sunblock time.

Friday, April 01, 2011


I just got an automated call to confirm an upcoming doctor appointment.

It said my first name along with the date, time, and location of the appointment along with the doctor's name. Then later, it said, "to protect our patients' privacy, a photo ID is required at the time of the appointment."

Um, about that whole PRIVACY thing... You just had a robot announce all my appointment details, *without* confirming who exactly picked up the phone, but you say you want to protect my privacy? Isn't it a little late for that?

Good thing I'm not trying to keep anything from anybody, where my health is concerned, so I don't have to worry if Mark ever picks up the phone on one of these informative little robocalls.

There's an app for what?

Ever since John Paul II made some changes to the Rosary, by adding the Luminous Mysteries to the points we're supposed to meditate on, I've searched in vain for a printed reference that I could use. No luck. Every time there's a "How to Pray the Rosary" handbook or pamphlet in a church, it's always a reference to the pre-change method.

Wouldn't you know it? There's an iRosary app for the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad that lists both the old AND new methods of saying the Rosary. Hooray for the Catholic geeks of the world, who realize there's a need for such things. :-)