Monthly Archives: May 2011

From the mouths of men…

Uncle I just met two days ago: So, where are you guys on family planning?

Me: *chokes on food*

Uncle’s partner: What?! Why are you asking them that? You can just ignore him.

Me: (to hubby) It’s all yours. (Admittedly, not one of my more intelligent moments.)

Hubby: (to me) How comfortable are you with telling them?

Me: It’s fine, you can tell them. (Imagining something along the lines of “We hope to have our first soon,” but not wanting to say it myself)

Hubby: Well, the test came up negative this morning!

Me: *JAW. HITS. FLOOR.*

Uncle: Well….that was TMI….

I didn’t look anyone in the eye for the rest of the night.

(Also, announcing the same fact on here is totally not as bad. Because I can’t see your reactions. And you all only exist inside my computer. And…shut up.)

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Trains suck

Subtitle: And my husband is a crazy nutjob for liking them.

This weekend we flew across the country to Atlanta to work a quiz bowl tournament. Since we were then on the east coast, we decided to head up to DC and take a short vacation.

The question then became how. I hate airport security and now drive whenever I can to avoid supporting airports. Atlanta is supposed to be a pretty crappy place for security, so the hubby suggested a train. He LOVES trains. After college he took a month long trip in order to ride trains and see ball parks. Yesterday we had down time, so he spent two hours riding Atlanta’s local trains. For fun.

Anyway, he’s been trying to get me to take an overnight train trip with him for awhile, and this seemed like a good time. So I said sure and we got a sleeper car.

Worst. Fucking. Idea. Ever.

To start, getting to Atlanta we had airplane delays so we got to our hotel at about 3am. Then we had to report at ungodly hours for the tournament, so I was anyway sleepy.

We get on the train and go to our car. Which is roughly the same
size as a phone booth. Seriously, sitting up there is barely more room than you get on an airplane, but trains take longer. Woo hoo! But OK, whatever. What is that next to the hubby’s seat? Oh! It’s a toilet! I basically sit in his lap to use the restroom! But OK, no big deal, I’ll just kick him out. I was a little surprised by all this, but still doing good.

Then it came time to sleep.

Or rather, get thrown around the f***ing car while trying to brace myself and ignore the near constant screaming of the horn.

At 2am I was still wide awake.

Finally, awhile later I got so exhausted I drifted a little, but every 10 to 15 minutes I was woken by either almost being thrown out of bed, my arm falling asleep, pain in my back or neck, or a jerking stop of the train.

So yeah. No real sleep.

My husband, on the other hand, slept like a baby. He “likes movement.” I hate him a little.

And now I get to go meet my husband’s uncles, who I’ve never had any contact with before and who we’re staying with, exhausted and unable to control myself. So. Fucking. Stressed. Hello, anxiety.

Trains fucking suck.

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I do not recommend this

You know what I most definitely do NOT recommend?

Applying to graduate school….13 days before classes start.

Yeah. Good planning.

In my defense, I just learned about these programs’ existence 6 days ago.

And the schools just got back to me letting me know things were even possible and how to proceed this morning.

And I’ve already applied to one school and now just have to apply to the departments (which is really the harder part but shhhh)!

And pray to the GRE gods that the good folks at the standardized testing center work on wings of lightning to get my information out the door faster than they predict they will.

Or that the good ol’ USPS speeds the paperwork across the country and into the proper hands in fewer than the 5-7 days I was told to expect it would take.

Have I mentioned what a racket these people have going? Seriously, I have a paper with my scores, but it doesn’t say “official” so I have to pay them a chunk ‘o’ change and beg and plead for them to send the exact same paper with another stamp on it recording the results of a test I paid them a buttload of money to take in the first place. On a computer. That was mostly graded instantly by the computer. Yeah. Good times.

So anyway, if y’all could burn some incense to the gods of the GRE and the USPS. Or maybe sacrifice a young goat. You know, whatever floats your boat. I’m flexible.

And then keep me in your thoughts as I try to corral two people into writing letters of recommendation for me..you know..yesterday, fill out the multitude of forms for the department’s acceptance, write a statement of intent (complete with citations about deaf education issues!), fill out the FAFSA, apply to the other department which I also have to take classes in, and several more things I’m forgetting because my phone is dead and it has my list on it.

Oh yes. There is a list.

Thirteen items to be done in the next few days.

Because did I mention I’m leaving town in two days and will get back shortly before the summer semester begins? (Don’t even try it, I have mean, nosy neighbors, friends coming over, and even people staying in my house part of the time I’m gone. Plus nothing worth stealing.) So basically I need this all in by..tomorrow.

*deep breath*

I have been playing paperwork games all day to get this done. Along with deciding I’d go with this program instead of the other option, since this one costs less than 1/5 of what the other one would cost (seriously? $1,500 a CREDIT? Get real, people!). Along with harassing the very nice secretary at the program begging her to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE help me make sure I get everything right.

Oh, and calling a knee specialist to set up an appointment and fielding a half-dozen calls and e-mails about Companions and tutoring for a few hours.

*pant pant pant*

Here’s to hoping I can get it all done tomorrow! You know, in the hour or two I can probably block out between volunteering and tutoring/private training/group class.

*passes out*

But hey, maybe the nervous, excited energy will keep me going! And then the classes I get to take look (mostly) really cool!

Oh, and I GET TO SEE MY BESTEST FRIEND IN 2 DAYS!

Yup, that’ll do it. Gotta make it to that.

Maybe I should stop blogging and get back to work.

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Oh, healthcare…

I have bad knees.

Seriously. I have for as long as I can remember.

If I hold them bent too long, they hurt. If I kneel in any position, they hurt. If I try to do a squat, they hurt. If I sit on my heels, they hurt. If I use an elliptical or bike for too long, they hurt. And if they don’t right away, they do later.

I never thought much of it. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember.

Then my OBGYN sent me to physical therapy for a problem she detected during my annual exam.

And in treating that problem, my physical therapist kept coming up against walls when I would inform her I couldn’t do half of the stretches she’d recommend because it hurt my knee too badly. Anything in a lunge or kneeling. Anything that involves a deep bend in the knee (quad stretch, anyone?). She finally declared that this was ridiculous, I was too young to have constant knee pain and be unable to do these basic stretches.

So she asked my OBGYN to allow her to also work on my knees.

Which my OBGYN approved, because their office is so busy they don’t even look at most of the paperwork. I picture Colonel Blake from MASH.

Time goes on and I am treated for both problems. The original problem gets better, and now I am only being seen for knees.

Three weeks ago I go in and tell my PT that my knees have been hurting bad that week. She looks surprised, and examines me. She keeps looking, but can’t find anything that could cause knee pain. Sure, my right knee is a little swollen. And sure, my left knee is a little tight. But nothing really out of the ordinary, certainly nothing I should be feeling.

So she orders x-rays.

Let me clarify. She is just a lowly PT. She can’t actually order x-rays. Even though she’s been seeing me for 6 months and is very well-respected in her field.

So she asks my referring doctor, the OBGYN to order x-rays.

The OBGYN is out of the office. And when she gets back…nothing. She doesn’t say she won’t. She just doesn’t do them.

Meanwhile, my knees still hurt. In fact, they have gotten worse. They used to be OK unless I pushed them, now they hurt pretty much all the time, and the pain intensifies when I use them. So standing up? Very painful. Sitting down? Quite painful. Crouching? Damn near impossible. Which is a problem, since my work involves either working with dogs (who you kind of have to get down and up to reach) or working with students (who are sitting, standing, moving, etc, and thus so am I).

This was my last scheduled appointment with the PT. She again looks at my knees, and says that based on what she can do in PT she sees nothing that should be causing pain. She is willing to keep working with me, maybe it has just been so long with the pain it will take longer for things to really settle in, but she wants x-rays first to make sure she’s not fighting a losing battle. And quite frankly, at this point, she’d rather I go see an orthopedist (joint specialist) first, before coming back to her, to confirm there’s nothing beyond what she can work on going on.

We decide not to ask my OBGYN again. The office ignored me last time, and was quite rude when I called to check in. And quite frankly, knees are a *wee* bit below their speciality area.

So she sends the request to my new primary care physician. A family practice doc.

Who I have seen twice.

Once to get the vaccines my OBGYN had told me I needed before getting pregnant.

Once to ask her to write a letter for life insurance saying that I didn’t need to be on the anti-depressants I had gone off of over a year ago since I was managing without them and had done other things to help (quit my job, gone to counseling, improved my diet, etc.) (Life insurance raised my rates ridiculously because I’d been on meds…not because I was diagnosed, but because I took meds. Yeah. That makes sense. But that’s another rant.) As a reminder, she had never seen me when I was on depression meds, or for anything related to my dysthymia. I had just become her patient a few weeks prior. But she came, listened to me, and did it.

And now, for the third time in the few months she has been my doctor, I am contacting her to do something that another professional had requested.

My PT sent her the request for x-rays and a referral to a joint specialist Tuesday.

I hear nothing.

Thursday I call and check in. A message is taken. That evening the assistant, who would be returning the call, calls me but I’m working, so she leaves a message telling me she’ll be gone the next day but to call in anyway. She says she has some questions.

Friday I call in, and get no one. Leave another message.

Saturday, someone (who I do not believe is the assistant of my doctor but I’m not sure because I was flustered and didn’t ask) calls me. She says they have no record of anything coming in on me and asks for the story. I give it, and she sounds doubtful. She says they’d probably need to see me if they were going to do that (understandable) so to just make an appointment. She forwards me to the scheduling desk…where no one picks up.

Frustrated, I give up. I call my PT and ask, if my insurance doesn’t require it, can I just go to a specialist that she recommends and have him order the x-rays? It seems to make more sense than scheduling a doctor’s appointment to get a referral for another appointment so I can get x-rays.

My PT has been out so I haven’t heard back. I’m hoping I do soon. She’s usually extremely good at returning calls. I’ll call again tomorrow if I haven’t heard by noon.

Oh, and have I mentioned I’m leaving town on Thursday? My husband goes and volunteers at a HS quiz tournament every year, and this year I’m accompanying him for the second time.

Last year, right before leaving I punctured my heel quite badly in my opinion (stepped on a grooming rake, three 1/16″ holes about 1/2″ deep right in the deepest part of my heel). I couldn’t put any weight on it, and this event involves a lot of walking across HUGE hotels and other buildings. That was fun. I used a cane.

This year my knees hurt so bad that, at this point, walking hurts. Things just keep deteriorating. And now, since I leave in three days, it looks like I won’t be getting in to see ANYONE until after I get back. So another year of being an invalid there. I think the event is cursed.

But regardless, this is ridiculous. It has been 3 solid weeks of me playing phone tag with doctors and professionals, and my PT doing the same, to try to get me out of being in chronic pain.

Do you really think I’m cheating the system, insurance and doctors? I mean, are there that many people out there who want x-rays for the rush of it? It’s not like I’m surfing for a prescription for vicodin (which, incidentally, I was handed without even asking for it in another situation when I didn’t want it).

*sigh*

I get why every individual person is acting the way they are. The PT can’t order them. The OBGYN is now out of her specialty. The family practice doc hasn’t seen me. The insurance wants to make sure the procedure is needed (OK, this one I get less, why the hell can’t the PT order the x-rays??). But it’s the way they all come together that is seriously screwed up.

I just want to stop living in pain. I want to be able to move through life without the burning ache.

Why is it so freaking hard to do that?

Maybe I should just go into a minor emergency clinic and say I fell down and think I broke both my knees. Then x-rays get ordered all the time…

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Words matter

I was just letting the commercials run on my TV when an ad for some kind of new miracle drug came on. In the commercial, during the “Side effects may include…” spiel, the following sentence (of course) caught my ear:

“Tell your health care provider about all medicines you take and all of your medical conditions, including if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.”

Sounds harmless enough. No big deal here.

But that one little word. “Including.” Including pregnancy as one of many possible medical conditions. It is just one more thing that adds to the deep rooted of fear of pregnancy and birth in our culture, to the attitude that pregnancy is a pathology to be managed and treated rather than a natural state of being. I’m sure it was subconscious on the part of the writer…but even that says something.

Usually such commercials will say:

“Tell your health care provider about all medicines you take and all of your medical conditions, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.”

Such a little change. Just one word.

But that one word changes pregnancy (and breastfeeding) from being part of a “medical condition” to being just another piece of information your doctor needs to know about.

I used to think such little words didn’t matter. That people were making a big deal about nothing. But as I’ve studied gender, race and those with chronic conditions that make them different, such as the Deaf, I’ve learned how much of an impact word choice can have on the subconscious, on the things we accept without even realizing we’ve accepted them.

Which is why this commercial just niggled at my brain a little.

It might also have to do with the baby crazies.

Naaaaah….

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Book Updates

Tangled Webs
The Invisible Ring
The Shadow Queen
Shalador’s Lady
Twilight’s Dawn

Anne Bishop

These five books are all follow ups to the Black Jewels trilogy. And I’ve got to say, I really enjoyed them! I’m impressed with the author’s ability to keep a character and world alive and thriving and growing through so many books. Three of these books (The Invisible Ring, The Shadow Queen, and Shalador’s Lady) only incidentally follow the main characters of the original books, but they are still involved while we focus on other, new characters. Twilight’s Dawn is another compilation of four short stories, and the rest are novels. Overall, these are great books: captivating and full of interesting characters and problems. I was pulled in for all of them. However, they are no original series or Dreams Made Flesh. Those four books are the must-reads. If you enjoy those, then you’ll enjoy these. They’re better than the vast majority of fantasy books out there, and if they weren’t connected to one of, in my opinion, the best series ever written, I’d probably have given them even higher marks. My expectations just started at the top, which made them pretty impossible to meet.

The one little annoyance I had with these books was that, to create new problems or expand on her world, Bishop would sometimes introduce totally new concepts. It is explained how these never came up in previous books a little bit, but some of these creations were so big I had a hard time believing it would never have been mentioned before. She is absolutely consistent, there aren’t contradictions in her books at all, but sometimes it felt a little like, “Wait…why haven’t I heard of this before?” That is a minor annoyance, though, I thought she did a great job for the most part, and I must admit, the new concepts were interesting!

Also, fair warning. The last short story¬† of the last book, Twilight’s Dawn, at the end of this massive series will completely rock your world. Especially if you like happy endings. It’s not that it’s not happy, it’s just not…right. I didn’t want to think about it! It was a tough place to be, and while everyone’s response was right on, it was almost harder because I didn’t want to think about it and she made it feel so real! Very hard to read, still leaves me with a feeling of WHAT?!?!?! all these months later.

Beyond the Hanging Wall

Sara Douglas

I thought I hadn’t read this book when I picked it up out of my home library…and I couldn’t remember that I had until tens of pages in. That says a lot.

It’s good. It pulls me in when I first start. And then progressively, it loses me. The fantasy aspect gets a little too big and weird for me, and the transition isn’t smooth enough. I just don’t quite buy it, and it leaves me staring with a brow raised going, “…really?”

It’s a light read. Not bad. But I just can’t say I recommend it.

Elantris

Brandon Sanderson

This is the first book since I read the original Black Jewels trilogy where I was sucked. in. Neglecting my family kind of sucked in. Really, really enjoyed Sanderson’s storytelling, and I now am really looking forward to reading his other books.

However. That being said, again, I found the ending somewhat disappointing. Nothing specific about it, it just seemed a little too pat.

In this book there we are taken to a country with a young bride as she crosses the sea to meet her new groom. This country includes the walled city of Elantris, formerly where godlike people lived after they went through a transformation that allowed them to wield amazing powers, now where people who have undergone the transformation are thrown in and locked. About 10 years ago, the transformation stopped turning people into powerful super-beings, and instead turned them into wrecks of their former selves. Once she arrives she finds herself surrounded by political intrigue, automatically married to a husband now considered dead, since on her trip he was taken by the change and thrown into Elantris. We follow her struggle for knowledge, power and acceptance outside of Elantris, and her husband’s struggle to find a new purpose inside Elantris. The characters are strong, and the reader tries to follow along and figure out how everything can turn out right, or in what way it will end up wrong.

Would I recommend it? Yeah, it’s a good read. Especially since most people don’t get as hung up on endings as me. It is a good, solid, enjoyable book. The ending just wasn’t exactly my cup ‘o’ tea.

Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: A Complete Guide

Penny Simkin, April Bolding, Ann Keppler and Janelle Durham


If you are pregnant, read this book! It is fabulous. Seriously. So. Good.

A few months ago when the baby crazies got strong, I went to get a copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Luckily, I read the reviews first. The attitude in it seems very negative, very focused on all that can go wrong, very flippant about such outcomes, and very do whatever the doctor says, and very full of incorrect information. (Note, I haven’t read it, but I have heard this a LOT since by those who are into births that are more than just going in and letting the doctor run the show. Not that there’s anything wrong that that, but it is not what I want) Not what I was looking for.¬† Not reassuring. Feeding into our country’s culture of fear surrounding childbirth. Some of the reviewers mentioned this book as a better alternative, so I went and picked it up.

So very, very glad I did!

This book covers basically everything you’d want to know about childbirth. It includes discussions of things that can go wrong, along with pain management options, complications, and more. But it does it without trying to scare you. It treats tough topics more like it’s equipping you with information, so that you can go forward and do the best you can. And I appreciated that.

It has a lot of fabulous information. And unlike the book I’m reading now, it includes a real section on how to pick a healthcare provider that you will feel comfortable with, whatever kind of birth you want to have. I mean, heck, it opens with a short chapter on how pregnancy and birth is a momentous occasion! This book seems interested in your emotional well-being, not just your physical, which I appreciate. There are chapters on changes during pregnancy in mom and baby, exercising and eating well during pregnancy, possible complications, the stages of labor, the multitude of options during childbirth, cesarean birth, and even information on recovery after and how to care for a new baby. And while this book is clearly written by those who tend to lean towards more natural births, I really don’t feel it is demeaning or belittling of other options. The chapter on c-sections is fair and informative, there is no snarky undertone or dismissive voice.

If I could only have and read one book on pregnancy, I would choose this one. And if any of my friends get pregnant in the future, I would highly recommend this book to them, if not give it as a gift. So. Good. Highly recommended.

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Options

Today I worked as a substitute para-educator in my local deaf/hard of hearing (public school) program for the first time. While talking with the teacher (who I’ve volunteered with for a few months) I mentioned that I wanted to get my teaching certificate sometime, but probably just in secondary math since there were no teacher of the Deaf programs where we live, and I wasn’t willing to uproot my husband to go to school.

She nodded, and then pointed out to me that there are evidently several places where you can get a masters in Deaf education through an online program.

One of those places also offers a masters in regular teaching through an online program.

Yeah. Online.

I have known of local certification programs for awhile. They take a year and are INTENSIVE. You have to start right on time (I always look into it right *after* the application deadline has passed) and then go full-bore for a solid year plus. I’m just not in a place where that is worth it right now. I am so burned out on sitting in class for the sake of sitting in class. I am so burned out on driving to classes to be bored by lecture on a subject I’ve heard about (or just bored by a poor lecturer). I am just not up for going back to intensive school like that. I have always hated sitting in lecture classes. One class at a time, great, but many? Not happening.

But these classes are online. I’m a very fast reader (in lecture classes I basically learn from the book anyway). I enjoy online discussions. I could work at my own pace, which tends to be fast. How awesome!

And then I know the DHH program here would allow me to student teach with them…and I could get certified!

Granted, it’s a two year program. But each semester you’re only taking two classes (typically). And they’re online. (What a difference no lecture makes!)

And I don’t want to be out in a year, anyway. I’m hoping to have a newborn in a year. I’m not going to want to start working then. But I would totally be up for continuing with some school. Especially when that school is online and flexible.

So. I have options. And I’m not sure which one (or more?) to pursue. I’ve had in the back of my head that sometime I’ll get interpreter certified. And sometime I’ll get a teaching certificate. But it’s always been later. Now, suddenly, it could be now.

So which path to choose?

Do I want to get a masters degree in education of the deaf? I do love working with deaf kids. They are a lot of fun, and I find it very rewarding. It’s just a great atmosphere to work in. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but I enjoy it. On the other hand, there are ridiculous ongoing administrative and teaching style arguments going on all across the country. Deaf students tend to be behind (not because Deafness makes you dumb, but because many kids in public school weren’t exposed to language at all (or only rudimentary language) until kindergarten, and because English is a second language to them), which means administrators tend to get on you about things that aren’t your fault. Also there is a big misunderstanding of Deaf education by those who aren’t in the know. People who don’t get that these are ELL kids are often in charge. It can be a fight to prove you’re doing a good job if you teach in the kids’ native language (ASL) which is harder for the administrators to understand. And then within the community there’s a big battle for ASL vs. SEE (signing exact english, not its own language, doesn’t make visual sense) vs. oral (no gesturing, just reading lips and using speech). It’s a big can ‘o’ worms to jump into, and if you’re not willing to move options are often limited. Near me there is one school district that has the Deaf program…so I join that one or I don’t join one.

Do I want to get a masters degree in secondary math? I do love teaching math (who are we kidding, I just love teaching). I find it very enjoyable to break down and explain concepts in ways kids get. And I love doing math! But on the downsides, teaching math tends to be much more repetitive. It’s not like English, where you can rotate out what the kids are analyzing, when you are teaching algebra you are teaching algebra. I’m not sure how I’d feel about doing it year after year. And, of course, there’s always the ridiculousness of school officials in charge and their demands. Really, the bureaucracy in schools is just crazy, no matter what you’re teaching!

Do I want to just get my interpreter certification? Not work in a school necessarily, but work as an interpreter. Get to play in languages, which I love, and have good, challenging work. I don’t think I would find it as rewarding as teaching, because I do enjoy teaching, but it would be fun, and it is very flexible hours (you take jobs when you want them). I could work in a school, but likely only translating what others say, doing very little explaining myself. However, when you are an interpreter you are just a machine. You don’t get to have say in things, you are just repeating what others say. So, as I mentioned, I’m not sure how rewarding I’d find this. Sure you do some “explaining” when crossing cultures or picking the best way to convey a message, but it’s not the same. This is the least expensive option, and theoretically, the least amount of time is required for it, too. I wouldn’t have to go to school, just study my butt off on my own. Also means it’s the least likely to get done.

What to do?

Ideally I wish I could just get certified to teach, and do a little extra work to add on both math and deaf ed. That way I’d have flexibility and options as I see what is available, since I feel like I’d be able to do both well, and enjoy doing both. But unfortunately, I’ve gotta pick.

Hmmmmm…

I’ve had similar posts before…the difference is, this time I see real options. As in, look! I could go to *this* program. It would cost this much, which we could afford, and I would do it this way. Scary and exciting all at once!

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