Turbulent Tuesday: Short Edition

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

So, for this week's Turbulent Tuesday I'm keeping it short and sweet whiny.

I went to work today, with the never-ending headache. About noon, I felt much worse. Which is hard to imagine considering how shitty I felt this weekend. No retching, but just all over horribleness. Headache, chills, aches. All of it.

Not good.

When I got home from work, I had a 100+ degree fever. When I took my temperature a few minutes ago it was much closer to 101 degrees. I have a headache and a wicked sore throat. I think it's probably a virus, but either way I feel like I'm being dragged through the gutter right now. Which is a fancy way of saying I feel like a big pile of crap.

I skipped both my labs tonight, which will I'm sure cause some totally unnecessary complications next week, but there was no way I could even be upright for 6 hours, let alone engaged in the class.

And now I have to sacrifice another sick day and stay home tomorrow. I know I shouldn't feel guilty for missing work when sick, but I do. Especially because I stayed home yesterday (when I didn't have a fever, but did feel like crap). But obviously, I am not well, and maybe if I wallow in bed tomorrow, study some and rest a lot, I'll be back on my feet for real on Thursday.

So my Turbulent Tuesday was short and unpleasant. How was yours? Tell me all about it (in the comments), even if it was good. Misery loves company, but we also love a good party pooper.

The Next Step

Monday, March 30, 2009

Because I'm on a roll with the whining...

This headache. Oy this headache.

It started before the xanax-tastrophe but has grown exponentially since then and has not let up for even a single moment. I have a reasonable threshold for this pain, but this is kicking my ass. I actually bothered to take something for it (usually I don't because nothing helps and I'd rather not take unnecessary drugs), but it was to no avail.

(Incidentally, 8 hour tylenol doesn't seem to be any better than regular tylenol except that its harsh warnings freaked me out enough that I only took 2, not the 4 I otherwise would've. So maybe 8 hour tylenol is better for my kidneys...)

I called my neurologist last week about the Pamelor (headache prophylaxis for those just joining us) snafu and he agreed that it needed to be stopped. Insomnia and paresthesias in my hands will not do, especially not at the base dosage. Unfortunately, he said we've kind of come to the end of the road as far as prophylactic drugs go. There are very few we haven't tried and the majority of them will have more severe side effects and are not likely to be more effective.

I've been searching for an adjective for how I've felt about his disclosure since I heard it on Friday and frankly, fucking frustrated is about all I've got. And really sorry for myself, which is probably not necessary, but there is anyways.

I did what I was supposed to do. I made the big decision to have a surgery that was supposed to change my life. And it did. But so temporarily that in the grand scheme of life I'm starting to wonder if it was worth it at all. I hate feeling this way, both physically and mentally. Both are exhausting and taxing.

It hurts to exist on this very earth right now. I'm soaking in a hot bath and I'm in misery. I have an exam that I had to push back to Thursday that I cannot study for because I cannot devote enough mind space to it to actually learn anything.


And my neurologist is trying, he really is. But we're screwed. We've done everything we're supposed to do and for what? I've taken truck loads of drugs, dealt with crazy ass side effects for what?

For nothing.

I am still in pain. I am still without answers of why the surgery worked for 8 months and then seemed to reverse itself. Is there something we're missing? Tethered cord? Ehlers Danlos? What do we even do now? I mean, what's the next step? We've used all the drugs and treatments and done all the scans, so what now?

How do we fix this?

Or is that the answer?

We don't.

We can't.

I guess we work on coping instead. Coping with a life of this pain. Coping with waking up in the morning with the same pain you went to bed with the night before. And the night before that. Taking drugs to help you eat while in the middle of a week long headache because the nausea interferes with your normal appetite. Taking Percocet just to get a night's sleep, even if not a painfree one.

What kind of life is this? I guess the obvious answer is one I will learn to deal and thrive with. If my choices are not living and living this life, there really is no choice at all. I will learn, but it will take time. And probably a lot of whining.

So, you know, get used to this place being pretty boring.

Cold Turkey

Sunday, March 29, 2009

So one of the things that I didn't tell you about from last Wednesday was an appointment with my psychiatrist. For a few months now, I've been building on the idea that I want to be off of the Xanax XR that I've been on every day for the past 4 and a half years. I tried many other medications to control my anxiety and none of them worked until the Xanax, so even though it's not the best drug to be on for a long period of time, it was really unavoidable, assuming I wanted to be able to eat and function like everyone else.

Anyways, on Wednesday, I told the shrink I was ready to taper off of it. I didn't want to go cold turkey because I've been on it for so long that I feel wretched if I skip even one dose, so cutting it off completely seemed like a bad plan. She agreed and wrote me a new prescription for the Xanax with a tapering schedule that would last about 4 weeks. It was perfect, I was pretty darn happy with it.

On Thursday night when I went to drop the prescription off, the pharmacy noticed that the doctor failed to put any actual dosage directions on the prescriptions besides "decrease as directed." Unfortunately, the pharmacy couldn't fill it from that information. Xanax is a controlled substance, and as such, there are a myriad of rules that must be followed for its proper prescription. They said they'd call the doctor and get it sorted out by about 4 pm on Friday.

So about 5 pm on Friday I went to the pharmacy to pick up the prescription. Shock of shocks, it had not been filled. My doctor didn't call them back and they only bothered calling once. Leaving me, in a word, screwed.

So cold turkey it was.

And for the first roughly 20 hours, I was pretty much fine. By Saturday night, I had a wicked headache. And the worst insomnia I ever imagined. I honestly thought last week's experience was bad, but when I was sitting wide awake in bed at 6:15 this morning, having not yet gone to sleep, last week seemed like a luxurious sleep vacation.

In all, I got about 4 hours of sleep and not surprisingly, today I feel like hell. I'm exhausted, my head is a mess, my stomach is more queasy than I'm okay with and when I tried to take a short nap, I couldn't fall asleep.

Just as I was in the crux of a huge anxiety attack spurred by the rumbling roller coaster of my stomach, I saw a voicemail message show up on my phone. It was the pharmacy. They had my crack Xanax.

I know it seems crazy that after going 36 hours without it that I would go back, but it's clear that stopping the medication suddenly is not what's best. In order for me to be without it, I've had to take a ridiculous sum of other pills to keep the side effects at bay and that goes against the whole point of what I'm trying to do. It's just not worth it.

So today I took my regular dose, and starting tomorrow and for the rest of the week, I'll take 3/4 of a dose. Then 1/2 for a week, then 1/4 for a week, then alternating none and 1/4 for a week and hopefully by then, I'll be unmedicated but not unhinged.

Basically the last 2 days were exactly the situation I was hoping to avoid in tapering off the medication. I envisioned a smooth process where I'd be able to cope with life, but that is not at all what I have seen and experienced. I've been more anxious, in pain and sicker without the medication. I'm trying not to be discouraged, but that's an uphill battle right now.

Here's to hoping that from now on things will go according to plan. Since it seems like we finally have all the components of it...

A Study Guide to Human Decency

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It seems as if there's a rule written somewhere that the internet can only go so long without kicking you while you're down. And by the internet, I mean some anonymous asshole leaving a totally unnecessary comment. Because they're attention whores. Well, listen up attention whore, I'm talking to you.

Specifically to attention whore who left this message at 8:12 this morning:

"your blog would be far more interesting if you would whine less."

First, my blog would be far more interesting if I didn't have to review the guidelines of human decency, but that's neither here not there, since I'm going to do it anyways.

What I find, first, most ironic, is that you chose to leave that comment on a 3 word blog. 3 words. Now, I seriously considered sitting down and writing out a 30 paragraph monologue (I guess they're all monologues, whatever) about the number of things that had gone shittily that day. BUT, ironically, I decided not to, because (gasp) I didn't want to whine.

And yet, there you were anyways.

What you seem to be missing is that this is MY blog. You choose to read here. I have the freedom to write whatever I want in my personal space, but you do NOT have the right to shit on my comments. Understand?

And what did you think would happen? I'd read your comment and be like, oh my God, that chicken shit anonymous commenter is right! I should whine less, and then my blog, which is the center of my universe, would be more interesting! The key, I've found it!

Um, yea. Instead, I'm guessing you thought it would go something like this, I'll not even leave my name, because I'm chicken shit and say whatever I want, with no regards for what anyone else feels because I'm a giant asshole.

Yea, I thought so.

Now listen carefully, because I think you'll find this VERY helpful. If you look at the top of your screen, on the right hand top corner for a PC or the left hand corner for a Mac, you'll see a red x. This red x does something MAGICAL. It closes the screen.

If you don't like my blog, if it's not interesting to you, then STOP READING. I don't need you to tell me that you're going to stop, I'm totally at peace with it. The internet is a HUGE place and there are plenty of blogs for you to troll read. Please, go visit one of them.

Or, if you'd like to talk like adults instead of like catty 14 year olds, you could leave your name. You could hold yourself accountable to human decency and not be an asshole. By leaving out your name, you're as good as saying, I know what I'm saying is wrong, but I'm going to say it anyways, and this way no one can come to my blog/send me an email and be an asshole back. Grow up. Face the consequences of your actions. Or go away.

While I appreciate your constructive criticism, I don't need it. Yesterday was a really shitty day. I am stuck in a job that I can't stand, I had a gynecologist appointment where my gynecologist confirmed one of my bigger fears in life, I got into a stupid argument with my husband, I spent 3 hours at a physics lab that was so poorly put together that I literally had to explain it to the professor, and oh, right, I did it on 3 hours of sleep with horribly unpleasant paresthesias in my hands all day.

If I want to whine about my day, I will. I come here to talk about what's going on with me. If that means I'll forever have a small blog with a few loyal readers, then rock on, because I don't aspire to fame. I aspire to be content with myself and to share my life with people who are interested in it, which you've made abundantly clear, isn't you.

You don't think I'm interesting when I whine? News flash: I don't think you're interesting when you're an asshole.

I guess we just need to go our separate ways. Go find yourself some attention somewhere else, I'm done with you.

An Open Letter to This Week

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dear This Week,




Turbulent Tuesday: Silving Lining Edition

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

So I realize I totally didn't do the Turbulent Tuesday last week, which is really ironic since it was like the most turbulent day I've had in a solid year, but I remembered today and I'm bringing it back, whether you liked it or not.

First, the new medication. It's a mood stabilizer, which is weird, because I don't feel any more stable at all. In fact, I feel like crap. I'm EXHAUSTED all day and not sleeping at night. And I have a massive headache today. Which, I know the medication shouldn't prevent yet, it's only been 4 days, but if it can make me feel like crap all over in 4 days, it should be able to do its assigned task in that amount of time. Just sayin'

Anyway, back to the sleep issue. I can't even seem to get into a deep sleep when I try to dope myself up with Phenergan. Which I'm primarily taking because this medication is making my stomach feel like it's rotting. I wake up with bile in my throat and am constantly wanting to chug pepto bismal by the gallon, just to make the acid stop. And, as if that wasn't enough from one little pill, this stupid medication has taken away one of my greatest loves: the flavor of Diet Coke. Dude. Not okay. I can't be tired all day from a medication and simultaneously grossed out by my favorite caffeinated beverage. And I'm only on 10mg right now, I can go up to like 40 or 50. Don't hold your breath.

Today was, for whatever reason, the longest day of work ever. I mean ever. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I know where we're moving now and I have my eyes on the prize: June 1st. Which is approaching at the speed of a herd of freaking turtles. Seriously, this week alone has been the slowest ever. (Why no, I'm not feeling superlative-y, why do you ask?)

It's like every little thing is making me extra crazy because I know that it's almost over and realistically, a lot of this stuff is stupid. I really don't need professional development inservices anymore. I'm PROFESSIONALLY DEVELOPED. Honestly. I see why it's important, I don't see why it's important when you're moving in 69 days (no, I'm not counting, why do you ask?)

And then, as with each Tuesday, we have the ridiculously fantastically moronic chemistry lab. This week, she spent the first HOUR trying to find a chemical. Yea. Prepared, as usual.

Then we took a quiz, which the person next to me cheated on, again. I don't know why this bothers me. We're not at an Ivy League school, it's hardly even an institution of higher learning, but damnit, I'm not taking the quiz with my notes, and you shouldn't be allowed to either. In this class where things are right or wrong, you shouldn't get an unfair advantage at being right.

AND, for whatever reason, my lab partner can't dissect the word HOMEWORK and discover that hey, maybe you can't do all this work 5 minutes before the class starts. And no, I WON'T GO GET MY LAB SO YOU CAN COPY IT you jackass. Seriously. This is the same guy who asked me for an answer on the exam last week, which I did not give him because HELLO, that is cheating.

And speaking of exams, of course she doesn't have it graded. When asked she said she was going to grade it this weekend, no problem. Hi, if it's no problem, why is it that you couldn't have graded it last weekend?

All that said (and potentially a later rant added after I find out my biology lab exam grade...), it was a Turbulent Tuesday with a silver lining. Two, in fact.

First, I had to stop at home during my lunch (grumble grumble) because I left my class stuff at home and wouldn't have time to go home and get to class by 4. So when I stopped at home, I checked my email. And guess what I found? An email from the kickass school I'll be attending for the next 3 years, letting me know that they received my deposit and that I should write down August 20th and 21st as my orientation.

I'm not breathing a full sigh of relief, because God knows that never seems to work out well, but, they took my deposit. Holy shit this is really happening. Like really really. On August 20th I'm going to go to my first day of orientation for a grad program I worked my ass off for. WOW.

The other silver lining was that apparently, one of the people who complained on my behalf about the crazy chemistry professor, made some really good points to the DEAN OF THE SCHOOL. Because our lab professor said several times tonight that she was going to have to alter some of her grading practices to allign herself with the department. That my friends, is music to my ears.

So, now it's your turn. Tell me about your Tuesday. Was it turbulent? Tranquil? Temperate? Torturous? Don't make me keep listing 'em. Spill it (in the comments).

I want to know, how was your turbulent Tuesday?


Sunday, March 22, 2009

(By Slappy, in case that wasn't evident)

So I’m not so sure if a heartfelt thanks and a picture of my mug is that terrific of a surprise, but that is what you get.

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the readers of this blog, from the bottom of my heart, for all the support they gave me in my St. Baldrick’s fundraiser.

Through primarily this group of great people, I managed to raise $750 for pediatric cancer research. I have never been a part of a fundraiser before, have never asked anybody for donations for any effort before, but I thought this was a terrific cause that I could not look away from. All that the St. Baldrick’s foundation asked of me was my hair.

I had it easy.

But donating my hair had absolutely nothing to do with the quest to extend a child’s life and happiness. My part was simple, but yours was the more challenging. You had to give up your money. And in a time where money is more and more an extension of one’s happiness, and in a time when money is more and more scarce, you selflessly donated to enrich the lives of others, to give others the chance to be happy.

And it goes without saying, but it’s not just the children who are affected by cancer, but parents, and families, and friends, and their doctors, too.

So, although I cannot show you a picture of a kid cured because of the advancements in medical science made possible by your donations, I can show you my effort to act in solidarity with those undergoing cancer treatment. And my act is solely a physical reflection of your incredible acts of kindness.

So again, from the depths of everything I hold dear, I say thank you.


And now the pictures. (The captions are all crafted by his less profound but far wittier wife...)

The Official Shirt
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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

(The bruise is courtesy of me solidly kicking his ass at racquetball 2 times the previous weekend. It's all about the diving...)
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(Has anyone ever looked happier to be shaving their head?)
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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

(Having a Shamrock spray painted onto his head. Only she used too much spray and instead he looked a little like his head was molding...)
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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Pretty good looking fella, huh?

Thanks to all. Slappy said it better than I ever could, but we are both enormously grateful for all of your support.

California here we come, right back where we started from...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

So I had no internet availability to get this to you sooner, but my wonderful amazing husband matched at his first choice residency program, in Southern California, this morning. If you didn't know, California is one of the most difficult places to match period and he matched for not one, but two residencies there. Give the boy a round of applause, he most definitely deserves it.

This means, among many other things, that I get to go to the number one graduate program in the country. I still half-believe that when I contact them today to let them know that I'm coming that they're going to tell me there's been some mistake and I haven't really been accepted after all, but, I mean, it's really happening. This dream is jumping to life before my very eyes. Our hard work, especially Slappy's in getting this amazing match, has led to a dream being realized.

I have loved living in New Orleans for the past three years, but seeing his name flash on that screen today and seeing the word "California" there and inside the envelope reaffirmed that it's where we're supposed to be. Just typing it right now brings tears of joy. After 3 wonderful life changing years away, we're going home.

And there's simply no place like it.

(p.s. Bald pictures coming tomorrow. With extra special surprise.)

(p.p.s. And by tomorrow, I obviously meant this weekend. Because whenever I promise to do something, it doesn't seem to happen. I'm pretty sure scientists have created a whole theorem about this.)

(p.p.p.s. And the new template isn't the surprise. But, how do you like it? Be nice because it took me about 3 hours to get it all the Spanish labels off everything and move the comments to a place where you could, you know, see them and stuff.)

Pig Wrestling

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

For as long as I can remember, my dad (who is a principal) has had a little quote taped to the inside lip of his top desk drawer. It says: "Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, and the pig likes it."

Tonight, I wrestled with a pig. And it got REALLY dirty.

Said pig is my chemistry lab professor. Not the one I was ranting about last week. This chemistry lab professor is an entirely different kind of wrong. She said she taught at another university (has yet to mention its name though) and seems to have absolutely no idea what's going on, but instead of admitting that, feels a need to tell everyone else they're wrong.

Her profound lack of understanding of other humans has led to my fingers being seriously burned and my GPA dropping. Both of which I am pissed off at. And tonight, we can add me being yelled at in front of a group of my peers. Oh, it's ugly.

You see, each week we have a lab report due, including our data sheet from the last lab, post-lab questions and observations and conclusions. We also have a quiz on the upcoming lab. As usual, we are expected to show all work and be precise.

Seems reasonable, yes?

No. Because even if you show an ENTIRE page worth of work, which is all correct, and then make one very VERY tiny error, you get zero points. Of the 5 assigned to the problem. No partial credit, but everything is worth 5 points.

So I emailed her. Politely. And I asked if we could go over her grading policy because some of my classmates have been copying other peoples' answers, with no work, and receiving some credit for those answers. And I don't know, something about that sounds like we're valuing CHEATING over trying.

But first I had an exam for her. In the middle of the exam, I realized she had made a mistake. I brought it to her attention. I asked her to make sure it wasn't just me, but since there were 3 other people at her desk with the same problem, I was comforted that it wasn't. She went on about how then if we think we did it right, we should just leave it alone. Even though the problem didn't work.

I asked her, again, VERY politely, if she could look over her key and make sure that the problem was correct. Her answer? Not right now. Maybe in 10 minutes.

Excuse me? There's a possible error on your test and you'd like to make us all wait 10 minutes before you'll even look at it (side note: when she finally did, I was absolutely freaking right. Thankyouverymuch).

The test went fine, and our grading meeting began.

I had my lab reports covered in post-it notes reminding myself to ask her why I received no credit for doing work. I spoke in a quiet voice the whole time because half of the class was still taking the test, and I asked her about the partial credit. She said no. She said she didn't have time to grade papers and give partial credit. I suggested not making the questions worth 4-5 points if there was no way to get anything but a 4/5 or a 0.

And she LOST IT.

And I quote: "Who the hell do you think YOU are telling me how to grade papers? You don't know my job. You don't know what I do. I make up my grading scale and that's not my problem." Now, to be more accurate, that should all be in capital letters because she SCREAMED it at me. Seriously. Screamed.

I very quietly responded that I was a TEACHER and that I have nearly 100 students, and yet, somehow I always managed to grade and give partial credit. (So maybe I didn't need to go there, and yet, it felt SO good.) And then I tried to tell her that the person behind me had cheated during the exam, and this was really the highlight of the evening...

(again, I quote) "I don't have time to patrol everyone for cheating. That's not my job."

So we can go ahead and pencil into this mega-week the writing of the email to the head of the chemistry department. Because a) don't yell at me in front of my peers and b) people are cheating. And it's not MY job to patrol it either. But I will not be put in a situation where my academic integrity is lost because she cannot even watch the 20 people in the room to see if they're cheating.

NEVER wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and you'll most likely wanting to slaughter the pig. And the pig will still think they've done nothing wrong.

Because the pig is crazy. And has no idea of the shitstorm that's coming.

The Biggest Week Ever

Monday, March 16, 2009

This is a BIG week. Like in the weeks of life, next to the week I got married, honeymooned and the week leading up to and following the birthing of hypothetical children, this is like the biggest week ever.

Today is Black Monday. On Black Monday, all matching 4th year medical students get an email from the matching program letting them know if they matched to a residency. Not where they matched, just if they did. Black Monday is when you find out if the rest of your week will be excitingly nerve-wracking or horribly traumatic.

Slappy matched.

Out of respect for those who didn't and are in the process of scrambling to find a residency, I'm not going to go into great details about how great it feels. (But it feels REALLY great. REEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLY great). And getting through today means we can look greatly forward to the rest of the week.

Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, which is inconsequential except that I have 2 exams back to back, with a short intermission of a meeting with my chemistry lab moron professor (not the same one as the Thursday night one, mind you...). I could happily take tomorrow out of this week and never remember it again. Or, you know, study for the tests instead of blogging. I'm going to let you guess which one is more likely to happen.

Anyways, back on track.

Wednesday, Slappy is shaving his head! He's already raised $625, but the donations will remain open until Wednesday (if you want to donate, shoot me an email: overflowingbrain@blogspot.com). It's going to be an awesome experience, with lots and lots of pictures. And baldness.

Thursday is the day. I mean, Slappy's graduation is important. But Thursday is Match Day. It's the day we've waited for for 3 and a half years.

It is when we find out where Slappy matched. When we find out where we'll be living. When I find out where I can send a deposit and see this dream of entering graduate school materialize (though I won't believe it until the first day of classes and even then I'm afraid they'll find out that I'm a fraud...).

Thursday is the day Slappy's hard work truly pays off. It's the culmination of years of hard work and it's huge. HUGE.

Thursday is a day for huge celebrations as well. They'll run all day long, in true New Orleans style.

Friday is when we find a place to live, figure out moving arrangements and start packing in earnest. Friday is when it hits us that no matter where Slappy is matched, we're moving out of this house at the end of May and we have more work ahead of us than UV rays emitted from the sun. Hopefully we'll be doing all of this sans-hangover.

Friday is kind of the first day of the rest of everything. Friday is when we breathe our sign of relief and move forward instead of staying in this place of, where will we be? Where will we live? Where will I go to school? Do we need 2 cars or 1?

Friday is when we can start dreaming about the future. About where we'll raise our children. About where our lives are going. Friday is the beginning of our future. And I'm just waiting for the story to unfold

I truly can't wait to tell you all about it.

Pain and Suffering

Saturday, March 14, 2009

So, I've been tossing this particular blog around for several hours now and I've decided to go with it. My hesitation stems from the fact that it's a reaction to something that a real life friend is doing and I don't know if that person reads here. And while I realize that some of you may not agree with me here, I just need to say this.

It's no secret that I have been involved in 4 car accidents, 3 of them major, and none my fault (one my mom was driving, and she was also not at fault). I was significantly injured in 2 and my mom was injured in one. They caused weeks and months of pain, doctors and physical therapy.

And I jumped through the insurance hoops and my medical bills were covered, as they were supposed to be. I was additionally given a settlement of money called "pain and suffering" to cover the other costs, the ones for missing out on work and life experiences. The amount is negotiable and takes into account the severity of the accident, injuries, etc. In essence, it covers the pain and suffering not included in doctor's visits or other health treatments.

So where I take issue is when people are involved in an accident and then sue the person who hit them.

It's one thing if said person was drunk, or on drugs. But if the other driver, oh, I don't know, ACCIDENTally hit you, why on earth should you sue them? Does it make you feel better to make them feel worse? Should they really have to give up their hard-earned money because of an unintentional mistake that I would assume most of them would take back in a heartbeat?

I get that some injuries last a long time and that people are permanently injured in car accidents. These are precisely the things that the insurance is created to deal with. This is why you meet with them and go over, in excessive detail, all the bills, the doctors visits, the missed work days, the missed life experiences. The insurance company doesn't just call one day and tell you what you're settlement is. It's a long process, one which the accidentee (I'm sorry, I simply can't use the word victim in this situation) is intimiately involved.

So, I guess the suing just seems, I don't know, greedy.

And maybe I'm extra-passionate about this because it's happened to my family.

The day before my youngest sister's 16th birthday, she got a car. And 30 minutes after she got that car, with her mother in the passenger seat, she hit a motorcyclist. She was pulling out of a parking lot and neither she, nor her mother who gave her the all clear, saw the motorcyclist. Witnesses said he was speeding, but because no one would say he was driving over 60 (in a 45, because according to the policeman, the speed limit is just a "guideline"), he wasn't even cited.

And the motorcyclist was seriously injured. Injuries which were paid for (and will continue to be for a loooooooong time) by our family's insurance. But that wasn't enough. The motorcyclist saw an opportunity and sued my family.

Over a very innocent, though surely traumatic, ACCIDENT.

It wasn't as if she was driving wrecklessly. It wasn't as if she was drunk or distracted. It was an accident.

Thankfully, he lost and our family's assets (or what was left of them after the insurance rates went through the roof and half-way up into the big blue sky) were not taken, but it would've been horrible for my sister who was genuinely traumatized by the experience. And it would've been wrong.

I've been rear-ended 3 times. Once by a driver who just wasn't paying attention. An accident which fractured one of my vertebrae. Once by a driver who was turned around telling her child to buckle her seatbelt (even though the child was 4 and should've, by law, been in a carseat...) which screwed my lower back up so severely I missed almost half of my senior year of college athletics. And you know what? I didn't sue either of them.

Not because I wasn't affected or injured or otherwise traumatized. Because I was all of those things. And I'll most likely always have some lower back issues as a result of these accidents. But I have to move on with my life. Suing them, getting money from them, would have in no way, undone what had happened. It wouldn't have made them more careful drivers, I'm pretty sure the big car accident took care of that. It wouldn't bring back my totalled car(s). It simply would've given me their money. Money I didn't deserve.

If an accident is so severe that you are permanently scarred or injured, that's the insurance's job to pay, not the job of the person who accidentally hit your car. And it's not that I don't have sympathy for pain because I live just about every day of my life in it. But suing someone for accidentally hitting your car in my opinion is, in it's most basic form, revenge.

And revenge is just not right. And it's just not necessary.

Hopefully I haven't torn apart a friendship in this post, but the more I think about this, the more it angers me. I've seen what these lawsuits do to the person being sued and it's horribly ugly and it's wrong. I'm sorry, but we all need to grow up and act like adults.

Adults who can learn to forgive when people make mistakes and move on from them. Even without big settlements of money.


Friday, March 13, 2009

So, I'm not sure if you'll remember, but back in July I took a soul-sucking chemistry class 4 nights a week for 3 hours a night to try and get it over with. And you may not remember, but the professor was God-awful. And I really mean it. Really, really, really awful.

I did not, however, take the lab component of the class, which is just one of the 5 ways I ended up in science lab night class hell this semester. But that's neither here nor there. What is here and there is that I switched schools. That chemistry class and all my other post-bac classes had been at a fairly decent local university but this semester I'm at the WORST place of "higher" education in town and I'm taking 5 labs and an online class (envy me).

So you can imagine the sheer shock of watching my professor from this summer at the old university, walk into my lab at the new crappy college. The new instructor. And of course she recognized me. OF COURSE. (Though she did call me Amy, which is starting to be disconcerting because that's what they call me at work. Was I supposed to be an Amy?)

As it turns out, she absolutely as horrible as a lab professor as she was as a regular course prof. Who could possibly imagined? (Hint: the answer is anyone she's ever come across!)

Last night we had to do a freezing point experiment where we put a chemical in a test tube, put that in a freezing water bath and measured the temperature at regular intervals until it froze. So she got the chemical and we started. Simple enough, yes?. After 6 minutes of trying to freeze the substance, everyone was stuck at 2 degrees Celsius, but the solution hadn't frozen at all.

We asked her for help and she told us to keep going, it would surely freeze soon.

And so we did.

After 10 minutes, someone kindly pointed out that we were trying to freeze the wrong substance. And granted, it was only one letter different, but you are a TEACHER, you'd think you'd take the time to find the right chemical? I mean really, reading is just not that tough of a skill to master. And this chemical we were trying to freeze? Has a freezing temperature of -120 degrees. I swear, she'd have made us hold it in the damn freezing water bath until next week too.

After I finished my lab, I asked what lab we'd be doing next week and I kid you not, the woman didn't know. So she let me choose. Apparently the concept of a syllabus is totally lost on her. And the idea of PLANNING is a mystery. Wrapped in an enigma.

Do you know what's really weird? Somehow, someway, next week? We're doing the shortest lab in the manual.

Coincidence? You bet your ass.

So lame I can't even come up with a title

Thursday, March 12, 2009

In case you're wondering why I didn't blog yesterday, the answer is because all I can think to write right now goes something like this:

I have a cold that won't move on from my throat. I hate the new time change. I'm tired of school. I'm tired of work.

LatHer. Rinse. Repeat.

You can see how difficult it was for me to toss that post in the trash. Profound though it was.

Today is not going a whole lot better, so I'm just going to pass on a new nugget of wonder from work. If these stories don't indicated that I am CLEARLY the best teacher of all time, I honestly don't know what will.

(And I swear, I am not making this crap up. I'm so not that creative.)

Me: At the end of the period, we'll watch a little of the movie Marie Antoinette as a preview to next class' topic.

Student: Is that the movie about the girl?

Me: Can you be more specific?

Student: You know, the one who is blind and deaf?

Me: Yea. Helen Keller's real name was Marie Antoinette.

Student: Really? How did she get that nickname?

And I kid you not, the child was honestly CONFUSED when Marie Antoinette heard and spoke to someone in the movie. You know, what with her deafness and all. And I definitely did not make fun of her for it. Because THAT would be unkind.

Or so easy that it's not even fun.

Turbulent Tuesday: Did you know edition

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I've decided that since Tuesdays are my least favorite day of the week (combination of not even being halfway through the week, being tired from Monday and having 6 hours of class in a row) that I would stop trying to hide it. So, I introduce to you, Turbulent Tuesdays. I could've called it Bitching Tuesday. Or Catharsis Tuesday. Or Whine-and-Moan Tuesday, but those were not as, catchy. Let's say catchy.

So Turbulent Tuesday it is.

The idea is this: each Tuesday, I'm going to want to bitch to you, but I always feel bad, so now, I'm designating Tuesday as bitch-off day. Basically, I'm going to stop apologizing for whining on Tuesday (as for every other day, well, them's the breaks).

And in turn, you share whatever is making your life turbulent with the group (in the comments). Misery LOVES competition company. Let's keep each other company.

Today for me was a did-you-know day.

Did you know...

-that going to a 4 hour professional development conference is really really really helpful when you're quitting said profession in 2 months?

-that if during Monday's professional development conference you accidentally drink out of someone else's drink, it will without a doubt, be the most contagiously sick person in a 20 foot radius'?

-that it only takes about 24 hours for the first sign of a mother freaking cold to show up?

-that it's difficult at this stage to determine if it's a mother freaking cold from drinking after typhoid Mary or if it's the first sign of the flu, which is practically crawling on every surface at work?

-that the cost of a parking ticket for parking on the middle of the grass at the school is lower than the cost of parking in a parking spot in the lot without a permit?

-that next week I'm totally parking on the front lawn instead?

So, tell me: how was your Tuesday turbulent?

On Dieting

Monday, March 9, 2009

Yes, I'm going to talk about dieting. Rather, I'm going to whine about it. I just wanted to put that out there ahead of time.

So, on Mardi Gras day Slappy and I were introduced to a really neat iPod/iPhone program called "Lose It" which helps you count calories. You input your weight each day, tell it how many pounds you want to lose each week and it tells you how many calories you can eat each day.

It also has a vast network of searchable foods so you can input your meals, or you can create a recipe and store it in the program to use again. It also has a list of searchable exercises (including "sexual activities," which, in case you wondered, is really not very aerobic apparently. Like 8 calories for 30 minutes. Not really worth it. I mean, not worth counting. Heh.) and when you do the exercises, it subtracts that amount of calories from what you've eaten.

It's crazy amazing. Except that I TOTALLY SUCK AT IT.

That's not entirely true. The first week I lost 4 pounds. However, the combination of eating Popeyes 4 times in 3 days and drinking my way through Mardi Gras helped create 2.5 of those 4 pounds, so it was perhaps a slightly skewed measurement of my awesomeness.

Since last week, I have lost .2 pounds. POINT TWO. I have stayed below my calories every day, I've exercised 5 days in the past week and I am plateauing. How does one plateau one week into a diet? SERIOUSLY. And I know I didn't have a ton of weight to lose in the first place, but at the rate I'm going, I'm going to reach my goal weight sometime in July.

Because, you know, 12 weeks of losing .2 pounds a week is totally the same as losing 1.5 pounds in 4 weeks. Like, practically identical situations.


It's like I look at a snack and somehow the calories jump in my mouth. It doesn't actually seem to matter what I eat as much as whether the scale seems to like me in the morning, and hey, it just never freaking does. I know I need to be patient, but guess what? I HAVE CONTROL ISSUES, a history of eating disorder(s) and I'm not controlling this. You can see how my brain is about to rip apart at the seams.

Honestly, I just want my freaking pants to fit again. It's not even about the weight, it's about not ripping the seat of my pants or not coming home with the imprint of a pants button permanently pressed into my abdomen. Well, and failure. I'm not a fan of failing, and yet, somehow it seems to be my dieting specialty.

Dieting skillz. I don't have them.

Control issues? I have them. IN SPADES.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Lest you thought I was joking about the slob that one of my housemates is, I thought I'd offer you some pictorial evidence.

You see, I went to restart the wireless router (which is in her room) this morning and was literally almost swallowed alive by the shit piles in her room.


And yes, this is probably invading her privacy, but guess what? a) I don't care, and b) all the furniture in that room that she has covered in her crap is MINE. And I feel like when someone ruins my stuff, it kind of breaks the privacy contract.

This is before she moved in:
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This is now:
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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This is before she moved in:
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This is now:
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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

So when I call her a slob, understand that I'm not just being a bitch. I'm being the most literal bitch in the world.

These people are making me freaking crazy.

An Open Letter to my Housemates

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dear Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber-

So I could've make this letter really short and tell you to GROW UP, but that's not like me at all. And frankly, I'm not willing to change for either of you.

Tweedle Dumb, you need to acknowledge that you are a ginormous hypocrite (not literally ginormous, but figuratively).

You work from around 7 to 4, and some days you only teach eleven students total. On your hardest days you teach less than one-third of the number I teach. You don't have an extracurricular activity to moderate. You do nothing after work.

So your accusing Slappy of being lazy for not vacuuming when he was on a light rotation was pretty rich. You had a whole week off for Mardi Gras, we did not. And vacuuming is about number 26,000 on my to-do list. Furthermore, your best pal, Tweedle Dumber? She has not cleaned a single square centimeter of this house in the 8 months she's lived here. And she doesn't work at all. Perhaps you're barking up the wrong cleaning tree?

But yea, Slappy totally should've been vacuuming while you were sitting on the couch in the living room watching tv for all the hours you aren't working. And also? If you'd like to monopolize the living room with your television watching, stop denying that you don't want your own television. THE LIVING ROOM TELEVISION IS NOT YOURS. We have an extra tv, the cable hookup cost is minimal. And frankly, sometimes we'd like to be able to hang out downstairs too.

Also? Your friend laughs like a lawnmower. Both in tone and volume. So you should definitely have him over until 1 or 2 in the morning.

And the fact that you get such great pleasure out of our cat loving you (which we both know is entirely because you feed her because frankly, the cat is nothing but a food whore), is really just bitchy. She's not yours, she's ours. It would be one thing if she liked you and you acted like it wasn't intentional. It's an entirely different thing that you don't hide the fact that you love that the cat loves you most right now. If you love her so much, why don't you clean out her crap box? Fairweather parent much?

And your best friend, Tweedle Dumber? And her boyfriend, Shrek? We too need to have words.

This is not a brothel. This is not a hotel. 4 people living in this house is already pushing the limits, so when you add one special ogre to that mix, there's not enough room. Not enough room in the refrigerator, not enough room when I'm trying to cook dinner in the kitchen and as in this morning, not enough hot water for 5 people. If the ogre is going to live here, he needs to be paying room and board.

I'm serious. We're not giving away free hot water and gas right now.

But more importantly, Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber, you have got to be aware of the fact that at 6 in the morning, having a conversation where one person is upstairs and one is downstairs is NOT OKAY. Nor is spreading yourselves out in the living room and kitchen such that there is not one SINGLE INCH OF QUIET SPACE in the entire 2000 square feet. Nor is letting food mold in the fridge and claiming it's not yours. Nor is using my yellow onion, which I bought with the intent of using (I'm craaaaaazying like that).

Seriously. Grow up. If you want the house cleaner, clean it. No where on the lease did it say that we would be exclusively in charge of maintaining a clean environment. No where on the lease did it say that you could act like no one else was around to be considerate of. And no where on the lease did it say that we would clean your shit out of the fridge for you. The next moldy dish I pull out of the fridge is going on one of your beds.

I'm entirely serious. The two of you alone are enough to make me need mood stabilizers. But frankly, if I had them, I think I'd crush them up and poison feed them to you.

In short, grow the fuck up. Welcome to adulthood, someday you might be an official resident. Not likely.

Hoping for hot water and wishing for a freaking moment of PEACE and QUIET,

3 Months and 2 Weeks

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

3 months from today, life will be changing. Like, major major changing.

No, we don't know where, but 3 months from today, we're moving. Possibly to California near our families. Possibly just across town to a place without 2 obnoxious housemates (more on that another time). Possibly to the Big Apple.

We don't know.

But, we do know that 3 months from today, we'll be getting in our car and driving to our new home. The quickness of this year has caught me off guard. I can't believe that we went from having 3 years here in New Orleans to having 3 months left. It's been a long 2 and a half years, but it's winding down so very quickly. I'm so very excited and I can't wait for match day to find out our destination.

But, there are more pressing matters...

You see, 2 weeks from today, Slappy is shaving his head. Yes, I'm beating this dead horse again.

He's VERY close to his goal of 500 dollars and is sincerely hoping to achieve it soon. I really do understand that money is tight, but every single dollar helps. On average, I get greater than 200 unique visitors a day to the main page of the blog. If each one of those people donated one dollar, he'd exceed his goal.

I really do get that some of you cannot afford to donate, and I don't begrudge you that situation, just keep him and the kids in your thoughts and we're grateful for you, too.

If you can donate, even a dollar, five dollars, whatever, please email me: overflowingbrain@gmail.com and I'll give you the link to donate. Time is running out and we really REALLY want to meet this goal.

The cause couldn't be better. Slappy needs a haircut more than anyone I've ever met. Kind of looks like a que-tip. I mean, childhood cancer. That's what it's all about.

But seriously, I appreciate each of you who can find a dollar or two to spare and donate to this amazing cause. And I promise this will be one of the last times I badger you about it.


Yet another health break

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

(First, let me say that the 13th comment, well, all of the comments, but especially the 13th comment on the post from Sunday was amazing. Congratulations to you, Lolo. I don't know anything about you except that you made a really REALLY amazing decision today. And for that, I applaud you.)

So after I got the news from the neurologist that the brain nugget was in fact brain plaque, I informed the neurologist that I still needed to be seen because while the Neurontin worked for about 2 solid weeks once back in November/December, it hasn't done a fricking lick of good since then. He said he'd have his office call me to schedule an appointment.

Yesterday afternoon I received the RUDEST voicemail from his receptionist letting me know that this was the 4th time she had called and she had left several messages and she THOUGHT I wanted to be seen in the near future.

Y'all need to be impressed with me for not driving over there and screaming at her. It helps that she's like a 70 year old woman, but nevertheless, RUDE.

So I called her back and let her know that if she'd called me 4 times, it certainly wasn't the right number and that I had received zero of those messages.

Come to find out, she had called my home line first, which, while at work I obviously don't answer. Then she called my work number, which I also don't answer while working and then she called my cell phone. All within a 10 minute time span. Which is, you know, totally the same thing as calling me 4 times.

And so I explained that while I taught I couldn't so much carry on phone conversations and she basically ignored me and told me they had an opening for Tuesday morning at 9 due to a last minute cancellation and I snapped it right up.

The doctor saw me this morning and reaffirmed that the nugget/plaque whatever it is, is perfectly fine, but obviously I shouldn't be taking 1800 mg of Neurontin a day if it's not working. But also, he has no idea why I'm having headaches. Which is apparently the mystery of the century. So, anyways, I'm weaning off the Neurontin now, over the course of 4 weeks, and then picking up a drug called Pamelor.

It's a really old mood stabilizer which has been shown to prevent headaches. I'm not wild about being on this class of drugs (especially since I've just in the past week or so decided that I'm going to wean off the Xanax because I don't want to be on it anymore...), and I have a notoriously negative history of side effects with them, but according to the doctor Slappy is working with, it's been shown to be really effective. So I'll try it.

And perhaps a little mood stabilizing wouldn't be the end of the world.

Shut. it.

So now we wean, then we start something different. And I'm not going to tell you about the rest of the day because that is one MONSTER rant that will have to wait for another time. Frankly, I'm afraid if I type it out now, I might swear so much I'd drive half of you away.

And accidentally prove that a mood stabilizer is actually a pretty great idea.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

I can't begin to describe the overwhelming sadness that rushes over my existence when I flip the calendar to March.

March 1st.

7 years ago today, my grandmother died. She died scared, in a hospital, without her husband, with only one of her five children there. No one had time to hold her hand or tell her that she could let go when she wanted. No one could tell her one more time that they loved her. Instead, she died, quickly but painfully and almost alone.

I know some of you will roll your eyes. She wasn't my mother, she didn't raise me or anything, but we were close. I lived with her for a year at a point of great turmoil in my life. She was the core and the heart of our family. And she is gone.

One of the memories of her that I can't let go of was just a few years before her death, in Las Vegas (her favorite place on Earth). Our whole family had made the drive to Vegas for Spring Break and one night we were going to see the Excalibur show. The seats are all in a row and we had to file in in the correct seating order. When asked where I wanted to sit, I told my mom that I didn't want to sit next to my grandma because she smelled like cigarettes.

I didn't know right away, but she overheard me and was crushed. Eventually I found out that she heard and I too, was crushed that I had hurt her. I tracked her down and apologized, a tear-filled apology in the middle of a casino floor in sin city.

What my grandmother told me when I apologized was not what I anticipated and not something I will probably ever forget. She forgave me, but also told me that it wasn't my fault. She said that she had done it to herself and had long before realized that because of smoking she'd lost her family.

It's amazing looking back in retrospect at how correct that statement would be.

My grandmother began smoking when she was in her 20s. She had always been a very anxious person and at the time her doctor recommended it to calm her nerves. Obviously there was no way to know then what she was getting herself into, but in the end she smoked from her early 20s until the age of 75.

In those 50 years she smoked one to two packs of cigarettes every day. She tried to quit several times that I can remember, or at least talked about it, but was too afraid of the withdrawing process. Her fear managed her addiction.

And then, at age 75, after an unrelated surgery, she quit. Cold turkey, no going back. At age 75, using no drugs, or hypnosis, or patches, but rather her sheer force of will (she was nothing if not horribly stubborn), she gave up a nearly life-long habit.

Six months later, she came down with pneumonia and a chest x-ray showed spots on her lungs. On February 25, 2002, she had an invasive surgery where a lobe of one of her lungs was removed. On the morning of March 1st, we found out that the spots were cancerous and that it had already spread to the lymph nodes around her lungs. The doctors had a chemo/radiation plan and while no one was sure if they'd be able to kill it completely, they believed they could slow it down. The news was terrible, but we pushed on with a small ray of hope.

And then that afternoon I called my mom to arrange a trip to visit my step-dad who had, that very morning while the doctors were delivering my grandma's diagnosis, had his cancerous prostate removed. She didn't answer. So I called my sister, who told me to keep trying to call my mom. I did. No answer. So I called my aunt, who insisted I called my mom. After much demanding, she told me what was going on. While I was in class, a blood clot had formed and had gone into my grandma's lungs. She'd died.

That morning we had a game plan. A way to keep her with us.

That afternoon, she was gone.

The last time I saw my grandma was the night before her surgery. I told her how much I loved her and I would come back on the 2nd to visit. Instead I drove home on the night of the 1st. I was too late.

My grandma's doctor looked us straight in the eyes and told us that smoking caused the cancer. It wasn't a genetic anomaly. It wasn't misfortune. It wasn't a random happenstance. It was smoking. Anyone who doesn't believe that smoking kills is completely wrong. Smoking killed my grandma.

Each year I try and honor her in some way, and this year, this is how I'm doing it. I'm taking a public stand against smoking. Plenty of people I know and love smoke and I don't love them less for it, but I am saddened by it. Because someday, smoking will come between them and their family.

Because of smoking, my grandmother never met 2 of her grandchildren, nor her 2 great-grandchildren.

Because of smoking my grandma didn't see any of her grandchildren graduate from college or get married.

Because of smoking, my grandfather lives alone in the house that used to be filled with her boundless energy.

Because of smoking, my aunt had to watch her mother suffer a very painful death.

Because of smoking, our family suffers. Even now, 7 years later.

Smoking will get between you and your family. Maybe not today, maybe not in a year, maybe not even in a decade or two. But it will. Please let our family's suffering save you some. Stop smoking. And if someone you loves does, help them quit.

No one should have to have March 1sts the way my family does. Don't let yours.

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(My very favorite picture. Circa 1990)

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(With the last grandchild she got to meet. Thanksgiving 2001)

Rest in peace sweet lady. You are missed every single moment, but especially today.