Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Kooky, Not Spooky

Generally, around this time of year, the Blah Blah family is occupied with Halloween – in particular, with Viva’s costume. Ever since Viva became old enough to have an opinion about Halloween, she has favored the selection of a costume that not everyone else will have. Thus, last year, amidst a swarm of princesses and pirates in her class, she stood out as the very memorable elephant clown:

This year, Viva decided quite early on that she wanted to be Bat Cat.

If you are not familiar with the television program (programme? It’s British) Charlie and Lola (or if you’ve only seen one or two episodes), you may not be aware of this particular superhero. Bat Cat is a television character in Charlie and Lola’s world, and their favorite superhero. Lola has a Bat Cat lunchbox and there is an episode where Charlie and Lola make up a Bat Cat story where Bat Cat saves Squabbles the dog’s hairbrush from a burning building. Bat Cat is a cat who dresses up like a bat. He can fly (he has a cape), but other than that, I’m not aware of any other superpowers. Viva is quite taken by Bat Cat, and Sweet Dub has encouraged this fascination by creating his own stories about Bat Cat, complete with alter ego whose name I can’t possibly reveal here.

Do you see where this is going?

Of course, there is no such thing as a pre-made Bat Cat costume. Fortunately, both Bat Cat and Batman seem to have an affinity for black, grey, and yellow. Hence, we bought a Batman suit, which I split down the back, added a cat’s tail* to from the inside, and sewed back up. I also cut off the mask from the cap, and I need to shorten the cape so you can see her tail. Right now I am working on modifying the utility belt and I have created a Bat Cat logo to go across her chest and cover up the Batman symbol. Sweet Dub actually deigned to cross the threshold of the craft store and brought me back several squares of felt, so yesterday I made patterns and cut and pinned most of the logo together. I am pleased that (a) it’s actually coming together and looking good and (b) I had the time to do this because I’m on medical leave.

I will post pictures when it’s complete so you can all enjoy the cuteness. Or at least have a laugh.

Speaking of which, Sweet Dub also purchased a costume. I am not sure what compelled him to do this because I have known him for 7 years and he never has. But you know, that Sweet Dub, he is unpredictable. On Saturday, while Viva was out of the house, he tried it on:

He also ran wildly about the yard in a deranged performance that completely validated my decision to merge my life with his, 'til death do us part, etc. I have video, but it is very jumpy:

Have I mentioned that it is painful for me to laugh? You know, because of the recent abdominal surgery?

Why is he trying to kill me?
* Not from a real cat. No animals were harmed in the assemblage of Viva's costume.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Now With More Sulfites!

Viva update: Sweet Dub left work early yesterday and took her to the pediatrician. Diagnosis: no urinary tract infection. Not sure what to think. The doctor told Sweet Dub no bubble baths (which we don’t do anyway, because I’d read somewhere that can irritate the genital area), and no wearing underwear to bed. Viva seemed mildly disturbed by this, which is interesting, because she likes to frolic about in her altogether whenever possible. At any rate, she seems fine today. *

Lisa update: I feel like I have turned a corner. Basically I stopped taking my pain medication because it was clogging up my digestive tract (one of the stated side effects), and I started drinking wine instead. I know this sounds ridiculous. I am not a medical professional, and I doubt that any physician would recommend this course of action to you. But I was a bit desperate. Since I feel best in the morning, I wasn’t taking my Vicodin until the afternoon anyway. Yesterday, I had a half a glass of wine at 4 pm and another half a glass at 8 pm. Slept like a baby and my digestion is back to normal. Today, I feel great. I mean, relatively great. I still feel like I have paper cuts on the inside of my abdomen, and a general bloating and not being able to lift things, but in the overall scheme of things, SO much better.

Moving on: today, I’ve been working on photo albums. Ever since we got a digital camera, we’ve been lax about putting photos into any kind of order or even printing them out. Somehow in there, we stopped putting any photos in albums somewhere around the end of 2005. Oops. It’s kind of a big job, no? So I am organizing my photos, uploading them from various sources onto Flickr and I will then order some ungodly number of prints. Sweet Dub lost almost all of his baby/childhood photos in a fire – I mean seriously I think we have three pictures of him under the age of 10 – so he is rabid about documenting our life. This means that we have a very large number of photos. But for the moment, I have nothing but time. I’m not going anywhere, so I’m enjoying looking back over our photos. Here are a couple of cute ones from August 2006:

Will post more as I go along. Maybe.

*Better than my mother-in-law, who is old school and a bit freaked out by Viva telling her that her vag!na hurt. She couldn’t imagine where Viva had learned that word.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bear With Me

Warning: Rant, with a little bit of rave (in the original sense of the word - i.e. minus the glowsticks, techno music, and Ecstasy), to follow.

Aaaagh. I am undone. It appears that Viva has a urinary tract infection, for which her pediatrician can not prescribe antibiotics unless we bring her into the office or bring a urine sample. I can't drive yet, and Sweet Dub just went back to work yesterday after over a week off to take care of me. Added to that, his boss was called out of town unexpectedly for a week, so he needs to do both his work and hers. We are already on a rather ridiculous schedule wherein we wake Viva up at the crack of dawn, feed and clothe her and do her hair, and then Sweet Dub drops her off at my in-laws', where she dozes on the couch for an hour and a half and then her grandpa takes her to school. I am hoping I will be able to drive by next week, but we'll have to see.

Realistically, given our current limitations, we won't get a prescription called in until tomorrow, since Viva is in school and Sweet Dub is crazy busy at work so he can't leave, pick her up and drive over to the pediatrician. I hate this. Even when they call in the prescription, I can't go get it. I really hate this. Any time I try to do anything except lie down, I end up feeling crummy. It is extremely frustrating, especially when there are urgent matters like my child's health that I can't do anything about.

End of rant. I just needed to get it out.

Deep breath. This will pass.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Think Green! Blog Action Day

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Thanks to Liz's example over at Los Angelista's Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness, I am patricipating in Blog Action Day. I'm supposed to write something about the environment.

Indeed! Quite timely, as I have set myself a number of chores to do while I am on medical leave, and two of those are to (a) change our diet and (b) research cars.

As far as Item the First: change our diet? How will that help the environment(you say with rapt attention)?

Since we began gardening this past spring and I read (slowly, slowly, while reading other books at the same time) Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I have decided to move gradually to a more local-foods diet. What this means, ideally, is eating fruits and vegetables that come from local growers via the Farmer's Market, and if we eat meat/eggs, getting such things raised by people within a 100-mile radius. Sounds vaguely insane and intriguing, no? Aside from providing us with fresher food that tastes better since it was picked at peak maturity, this also reduces transport distances. The shorter the distance my tomatoes have to travel, the less fossil fuel consumed/CO2 emissions released. It's a small thing, and I'm not saying I'm never going to eat processed food again (see recent post re: Trader Joe's). I'm just saying it makes sense to support the farmers where I live* and Stick It To The Man by not buying food from Big Agribusiness. It also makes sense to me to transition to this new diet gradually. Oh, and to help the environment and my fellow Earthlings by not polluting the air, for the love of all that is decent.

Well, what else, you say? What are you talking about with the car (a.k.a. Item the Second)?

I have been researching "green" cars for quite some time now. The lease on my current sedan (which is fuel efficient but not a hybrid) will expire next summer, and since I am no longer freelancing, I no longer get the tax advantage of leasing the car, so I will be turning it in and purchasing a different vehicle. It takes me forever to decide which car I want (last time I researched for several months). There are so many factors -- safety, crash ratings, cargo space, wagon vs. crossover, fuel economy, passenger capacity, etc. I will probably bore you with them as the months roll on. But where I had been swayed a few months ago into believing that the environmental impact of a hybrid car was negligible compared to that of a standard car, now I'm swaying back in the other direction. I read a variety of articles on Edmunds (you can take a look at their green car guide here) and now I'm just trying to figure out what I can afford and why nobody makes a hybrid car with decent crash test ratings that has some style** and can carry 4-5 people***, a dog or two, and some cargo.

But that's a big decision, and not one I'm going to make today. Here are a couple of small things you can do, if you haven't looked into them already, to make an environmental difference:

  • Bring your own bags when shopping. Once you get into the habit, it's automatic. You also end up having interesting conversations with cashiers and other shoppers when they ask, "Where'd you get those bags?" (One elderly woman was quite pissed to find that the bags I was using were not an option for her at that moment -- she thought the store had changed over to these much sturdier bags. ) For the record, I've gotten my lunch bags and shopping bags via reusablebags.com.
  • If you are in the habit of drinking Starbucks or what-have-you, bring your own mug.
  • And, as Liz/Los Angelista reminds us, one of the greatest wastes (and biggest scams, in my book) is the whole bottled water phenomenon. Switch from disposable to reusable water bottles, and refill from your tap, if you can. (Time to invest in a water filter.)
  • Also, check out Slow Food USA for more info on eating local foods.

And be careful out there.

* I don't actually think there are farmers where I live, not right in the heart of Atwater Village. But yeah, they do farm things within 100 miles of here. Fifty, even.

** I mean, really. Is the hybrid car the Birkenstock of this decade? I want a hybrid because I feel it's the right thing to do, but it's kind of like eating brussels sprouts. You know that saying, "Don't have anything in your home that you do not either know to be useful or find to be beautiful?" (I'm paraphrasing.) If I'm plunking down money on a car, I want both.

*** Viva, parents, and cousins or friends. Not another little Blah Blah. I did just have surgery. Let's be serious.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Better, Stronger -- Ouch.

Well, howdy-do!

When I imagined having surgery, I thought I might go about it journalistically. I thought maybe I could actually write an article about it. It seems to me that would involve some pretty anal note-taking along the lines of, "7:15 AM. Dr. Klein arrives and explains to me what a spinal anesthetic is, and how a dosage of x-10 ccs is the most beneficial. This is because the thingy-do delivers a more potent dose than the who-zee-what. After talking it over, Sweet Dub and I decide on X." But let's face it, that is not my way. And that, my friends, is why I would never make it as an investigative journalist. All the better for you, and for the rest of humanity, I'd say.

So I had surgery on Monday morning at 7:30. We'd dropped Viva off with her grandparents the night before, and that went well (i.e. no tears on either part). We arrived at the hospital at 5:10 AM, although we weren't supposed to get there until 5:30. It is amazing how quickly you can get around in LA when there is no traffic. As we got out of the car and began walking toward the hospital, I burst into tears.

Let me backtrack here a minute, since I haven't been able to blog about everything that's led up to this. When I told Viva I was going into the hospital (a week ahead of time), she burst into tears and cried hysterically for ten minutes. I mean, the full-on, face-screwed-up, veins-sticking-out-of-neck, can't-draw-breath-to-speak kind of crying. As her mother, there is some kind of switch that flips in me when I see her that hurt. It is physically painful to watch and it makes me gasp for breath and start crying too. I finally got her to explain to me that she thought I meant that very day I was going to the hospital, which was not the case. She was still not happy about it, but not as devastated as previously.

[One more aside, and I could write a whole post about this, but Sweet Dub and I debated when it would be best to tell Viva about the surgery and hospitalization. We didn't want to tell her weeks in advance, because her sense of time is not that concrete and we didn't want it looming over her for what would seem to her like months. We also didn't want to spring it on her just a few days ahead of time. Then she got a cold and had to stay home from school on the very day that I had to go to the surgeon for my pre-op prep visit, so I had to tell her. This actually worked out okay, because my surgeon has a five-year-old and was able to help me explain to Viva what exactly would be happening and what her job would be when I came home from the hospital. Said job involves kissing my tummy a lot.]

At any rate, Viva became obsessed with death in the week leading up to my surgery. She called me into her room at night and, cupping my face in her warm little hands, she said, "You know, Mama, I love you very much. And if you die, I will never forget you."

"Sweetie," I said, already dying a little inside just from that, "you know that I love you very much too. And I have no intention of dying anytime soon. I am just going to the hospital for a couple of days."

"But if you die, I will never forget you. I will always hold you in my heart, like this," she demonstrated, holding her hands over her heart and looking at me soulfully.

"Honey," I said, "I know. And that is nice to know. But you know that I am going to the hospital and then I am coming back home and you and Daddy are going to take care of me. I am not going to die."

"And if you die," she said, completely ignoring me, "I won't let Daddy forget you either."

"Okay, baby, that's nice," I said. "But I just want you to know that I am not dying. You have nothing to worry about. I love you and I will be back soon."

"Okay, Mommy," she said. "You are such a sweet little mommy." And then we would kiss and hug and she would go to bed and we would have the same conversation three more times the next day (again, you see why I didn't want to tell her more than a week in advance). My poor little pumpkin.

But you can see why I would be a little unnerved by my baby talking about death before I went into the hospital. And why I might cry a little bit in the parking lot.

Sweet Dub was comforting and said all the right things and I pulled myself together and we went inside and registered. And then after a while they took three of us from the waiting room up to the prep area. And while I was waiting in line for the bathroom to give a urine sample, I saw Sweet Dub's face light up in a smile, and he went over to hug someone, and I realized my sister Lola had arrived. And considering Lola lives 50 miles away and has 2 kids of her own and it was only 6:45 AM, it was a big deal. So I burst into tears again. And then she cried and it was all like some kind of frickin' Lifetime movie or something.

But I was glad she was there to distract Sweet Dub and keep him company, because then I had to go into serious pre-op mode. I undressed and got into my very fashionable hospital gown with my plastic hair cap. A nurse came in and did unspeakable things to me while trying to find a vein to stick my IV in (thank God I never got into heroin, I don't think it would go well). Elsewhere in pre-op, we could hear the sounds of an electric razor, and they went on and on and on. We started making whispered jokes about Sasquatch because we are all completely insensitive. Then the anesthesiologist came and explained what kind of drugs they'd be giving me. Then they wheeled me away into the OR, where they gave me the spinal, I talked to the surgeon briefly, and then I woke up in recovery.

In recovery, I discovered that I'd had 10 fibroids, and they actually showed me a Polaroid of everything they took out. It looked like a bowl of uncooked meatballs.

I now have nine staples in my bikini area. I got out of the hospital Wednesday at around lunchtime, which was none too soon if you ask me. And I feel okay. I'm not going to go out and run a marathon, but I feel way better than I expected.

Tips to anyone going through this or something similar (ahoy, Bridget!):

Bring an iPod or some other kind of music-type player with headphones. That and the Demerol will help you sleep for at least 3 hours at a stretch.

Bring a couple of pictures of your loved ones.

Bring a portable DVD player with your favorite movies (not ones that will make you laugh, because that hurts). Daytime TV is dreadful. How many episodes of Divorce Court can you watch? Honestly.

Do not, under any circumstances, be like me and forget your cell phone at the office on your last day at work. You will want to call people.

Bring your own bathrobe, your own soap and deodorant, and if you have longer hair, something to put your hair up.

There is nothing wrong with brushing your teeth in bed and spitting into a plastic cup. Desperate times and all that.

Do not expect your house to be clean when you get home.

Do not apologize to visitors for the state of your house.

Two words: stool softener. Let it be your friend.