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The Spouse Thingy
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The Next Generation
It’s true. Whether you want to or not, whether you realize it’s creeping up on you, or not, at some point you begin the process of turning into your parents.
Mine used to buy huge amounts of pecans—enough to fill a 33 gallon trash can—to feed the neighborhood squirrels. I don’t know if they still do that, but I do know they feed the neighborhood stray cats, and at least one found the deal so good she’s stayed around for 10 years. She even tolerates being scooped up and taken to the vet for shots. Didn’t complain much when they had her spayed.
They also used to put out bird feeders. I’m sure the thought was to just feed the birds, but I often wondered if it wasn’t to provide Play Time for all the stray kitties.
But, back to the squirrels. They loved those pecans, and when the back deck was devoid of their favorite nuts, one or more of them would come up to the back door and peek through the glass, looking for a human to come open the trash can and dish out a bunch of pecans. One looked like he was trying to knock on the door—he wanted nuts, and he wanted them ASAP.
We have a couple of squirrels that live in the tree outside our front window. When winter hit we started to worry about what they were doing for food. A couple times a week we’d see one of them scrambling across the street, and we assumed it was in the pursuit of foodstuffs.
So we did it. We became my parents. We bought a squirrel feeder and nailed it to the tree, and bought a bag of dried corn cobs for them to munch on. They appreciate it, though looking at them, they’re not starving.
The bonus to feeding them? It drives the PsychoKitty nuts. Max sits in front of the window and watches them (and the birds that come to grab the leftovers), and he squeaks and chitters, and dances in place like a toddler who has to pee. Hank plopped down in front of the window last night and wouldn’t let Max near it—if Max were human, he would have stared crying. I think Hank knew it, too.
March 5, 2003
More Boring Medical Crap
…or, why I might hit 8 feet tall…
Okay, so I’m not a biological scientist. I don’t pretend to understand exactly how everything in the human body works, but I’m learning more than I ever intended to. This week's lesson has been on Human Growth Hormone.
Yep, HGH. The thing that helped you reach your full height potential. It’s produced by the pituitary gland, and evidently, it’s produced in the same area of the gland that produces Vasopressin (your body’s natural anti-diuretic hormone, without which you’d pee your freaking brains out all day and night), and the area that sends out chemical signals to the rest of your body about producing estrogen. I’ve figured this much out because my body doesn’t make Vasopressin any longer (hence, the diabetes insipidus), and since some things are still missing (ahem… estrogen related), and recent blood tests show my HGH level is really low. Really really low.
Now (wake up! there will be a test later), even as adults you use HGH. Without sufficient amounts, your ratio of body fat to lean body mass can shift, and you don’t recover as well from insult to your muscles (meaning, you don’t repair those little micro-tears you get in your muscles from every day movement as well). I have Fibromyalgia and have had chronic body pain for 6 years; there has even been a study on FMS & HGH deficiency that showed some promise in using HGH replacement therapy to treat FMS.
But… chances are the low growth hormone levels are related to the pituitary tumor I had removed last summer. Still, replacing the HGH might make a big difference in how I feel, and may make it easier for me to put on some lean muscle mass. We already know what my HGH level is (very low), but in order for the endocrinologist I’m seeing to justify the expense of HGH replacement, there’s one more test to be run.
Next week I go in, have a couple of IVs put in place, have some blood drawn, and then they’re going to inject me with insulin to drive my blood sugar way down. When the blood sugar is down, the body releases HGH; theoretically, if my pituitary is producing any, it will then. They’ll draw more blood, then either feed me or push sugar water through an IV to bring my blood sugar level back up.
I’ve been warned that this won’t be a fun morning. The IVs aside, when your blood sugar level is that low, you tend to feel really sick.
Why am I putting myself through it? Because I have high hopes that the test will show that I really don’t produce enough HGH, and can then go on replacement therapy. It may make all the difference in the world for me—in terms of overall body pain, loss of body fat, increase in muscle mass… It might mean that for the first time in 6 years, I’ll start to feel good. I feel okay most of the time, but I miss feeling really, really good.
So here’s to hoping I flunk the test.
I hope you took notes.
Your test will be next Friday.
March 6, 2003
As good as it is, the Cajun Chicken Linguini at Red Lobster just does not like me.
March 8, 2003
It’s a Tease, I Know It
Wow. It's like a day of spring today--after so much cold weather and more than enough snow, we're getting a nice, warm day. The kids are playing outside, laughing and squealing, and most of them are dressed in t-shirts and shorts.
We have to enjoy it while we can. Tomorrow the high is supposed to hover around 30 and there's a chance of snow. It figures, the one really good day we have, the Spouse
Thingy is stuck at the hospital doing a 24 shift. He could have used the warm day to finally take down the outside Christmas lights. No kidding, they're still up on the house.
Hopefully they'll come down by June...
One Side Of The Big Issue
Email from a friend of mine, who is trying to help me figure out the confusing mass of questions about whether or not war with Iraq is justified. Posted with his permission.
You have been my friend for more years of my life than not, so I trust that you will understand my inability to elaborate on specifics. [Said friend worked for the government for almost 20 years, in one of those “I’d tell you but I’d have to kill you” sort of jobs]
This food for thought, nothing more.
There is more to consider about Iraq than any potential connection with the events of 9/11/02. Forget the politics that have been warped beyond recognition. Forget any potential alliance between the fundamentalist and secular sects of Islam, and whatever theories there might be regarding financial and geographical support of bin Laden by Saddam Hussein. Forget all the reasons that the media parade in front of the public day in and day out. In the end, none of those reasons really matter.
Let’s pretend it’s not Iraq. Let’s pretend it’s a small country called Uberania. Uberania was once a Republic, and its citizens afforded a reasonable amount of freedoms. Then came a coup; Uberania was ruled thereafter by a dictator who modeled himself after Stalin—and prided himself on being much more ruthless. His eldest son was even more ruthless than the dictator, and was in charge of numerous interrogations. He reveled in torture; he had no qualms about chaining a man to a chair and raping his wife in front of him. He had no difficulties in dismembering the woman while her husband was forced to watch. And when he was done with her, emasculating the husband was simply his dessert.
Picture this once peaceful place: terror is the rule of the land. Women are less than property. Children are treated worse than dogs. Imagine yourself standing on a road there, an observer who cannot interfere. As you stand there you see two uniformed men approach a little girl; she looks to be about three years old and certainly is no more than five. They talk to her for a moment, and her eyes go wide with fear. And there is nothing you can do to stop it when they start beating her, pummeling her tiny body with fists and feet. When they finally stop, her blood coats the ground in a thick puddle, and her final breath is preceded by a small sound of bubbling. Her mother sees this from her house but if she tries to stop it, they will turn on her and set her, quite literally, on fire.
You can do nothing, so you move on. You watch as a teenage boy grabs a handful of old, molding food out of a pile of trash, and you watch as he’s shot by a soldier—for stealing garbage. And yet it doesn’t surprise you, because by now you’ve seen firsthand how the dictator handles dissent among his own staff. No one—no one—is allowed near him armed, but he damn well carries a side arm. And he doesn’t hesitate to use it. Hint that he might be wrong, and your brains will be sliding down the wall. Aid is sent to his people in barges of food and medicine, none of which makes it to the citizens. It feeds his army, and the medicine treats their ills while the rest of the country scrapes to get by, living in the shadow of fear, without enough food, and where an illness just a little worse than a cold can mean a death sentence.
Now—what if Uberania once went by the name of the United States of America? What if there were countries beyond its borders with the capability to help? Would saving the lives of most of the people in Uberania, freeing them from a true reign of terror, be worth the risk to the lives of those from whom they hope to find freedom? Would it be worth knowing how many might be saved against a regime with no compunctions against using biochemical weapons on its own citizens?
Would you risk your life if it meant freedom from complete oppression for those people? Would you not hope that if you lived like that, that someone would help you?
I’ve been to Iraq, Thump. None of the political posturing means anything. You can have a healthy distrust of our Administration and get the willies every time you hear the President speak, but that doesn’t mean the fundamental basics aren’t right. Hussein has to go. His cabinet has to go. The people of Iraq deserve, just as much as we do, a life without the constant stress of living in absolute terror. Think about how it felt on 9/11. How the people in NY felt. Imagine living through that every day. Always wondering when the next show will drop.
Yes, there are other countries with the same capabilities as Iraq but with few exceptions, none are lead by a true megalomaniacal sadist. We can play the waiting game, in hopes that he disarms, but that in itself won’t stop the abject suffering of the Iraqi people. People deserve better—and if we have the means to help them, it is in my opinion our responsibility.
View the politicians with healthy skepticism, but look past the rhetoric. There are valid reasons for going into Iraq and removing Saddam Hussein from power. Its people are reason enough.
I’d like to hear the opposing argument—without rhetoric, without calling the president a bunch of names, without referring to the U.S. Military as Bush’s Penile Extensions. Something very calm and reasonable. I need things to think about.
March 9, 2003
The Boy has worked for the last 5 years; he started as a busboy when he was 14 years old, and hasn’t stopped working since then, other than a short stint while we were in the middle of moving from North Dakota to California. He’s a hard worker, and good at what he does.
With the CA job market being what it is, his boss seems to have come to the conclusion that going to school full time in addition to working almost full time is no excuse for not being able to work shifts on demand.
So here we sit, 2000 miles away, not being able to a damn thing to help him out. If we were still there—and right now is when I resent having been transferred after we specifically requested to stay at Travis for our last 2 years—it wouldn’t be a worry. At least then he’d have a sure roof over his head and food on the table. There’s just not much we can do from here.
It’s probably not the worst feeling in the world, but right now it makes me feel pretty damn powerless. I can only imagine how it makes The Boy feel.
March 10, 2003
The Joy Of Discovery
Things Thumper Learned Today
It was an educational day.
March 11, 2003
Ask, And Ye Shall Receive
Knowing smart people is a wonderful thing. I asked for both sides of the equation, and I’m getting it. JP Brassard posted this in my comments, and is kindly allowing me to put it in a post.
Yes, there are many valid reasons to topple Saddam Hussein - he is, truly, a Very Bad Man. But those valid reasons do not give the United States and Great Britain the right, nor the moral responsibility, to act unilaterally, against the wishes of the much of the rest of the world and the United Nations. If there's anything the 1990s taught us - the clusterfuck in Somalia notwithstanding - is that multilaterlism, whether on a NATO or a UN scale, is really the only way to go when confronting regimes with brutal human rights abuses. The Balkans spring immediately to mind. East Timor is another, though the UN probably acted too slowly.
The thing is, we are not, nor should we be, the world's beat cop, not even as the lone remaining superpower in the world. I could even say especially as the lone remaining superpower. If the UN thinks that war against Iraq is not the best current course of action, than the US better damn well respect that decision or come off looking no better than ancient Rome contending with the Huns before the death throes of the Empire drove the seat of power east to Byzantium (now Istanbul (though at some point in between then and now it was Constantinople - probably named after one of the Byzantine Emporers, but that's neither here nor there)).
Acting unilaterally in Iraq displays profound contempt for the body the US helped to create after the bloody conflagration of WWII, and damages our credibility across the globe, which will only serve to harm our efforts in the fight against international terrorism (which, as we all know, is the real threat to the United States' national security). Yes, the people of Iraq deserve better than Saddam Hussein, and it would be oh so nice if we could simply march on Baghdad and kick the Mustachioed One square in his power-hungry ass. But we dare not act alone, nor with a "coalition of the willing" (a lovely, insipidly demeaning phrase, that), that flies in the face of the UN, or we risk a further escalation of tensions, the increased likelihood of terrorist attacks against Western civilian targets, and (in the worst-case scenario), region-wide war in the Middle East.
The people of Iraq deserve better. But it must be the world that acts, not just the US.
My little head is close to imploding as I try to figure this all out… I hate to admit it, but I am still riding the fence on the whole Iraq Issue, and it’s not a comfortable place to be.
March 13, 2003
Ok, I didn’t weenie out. I went to my appointment at the endocrinology clinic and let them stick a couple of IVs in me. It wasn’t too bad—Spouse Thingy came down from the OR armed with Lidocaine, and was able to numb the site where the IVs were going. That was going to be the worst of it, I think, though they expected me to really feel like crap after being injected with the insulin.
The problem is, I seem to be insulin resistant. After the insulin went in it was expected that after 30 minutes my blood sugar would be down in the high 30s. It only went down to 55. They put a little more in… and it went up [insert rolling of eyes]. One more addition of insulin—the last, if that didn’t work I was going to have to reschedule and have all of that amount injected up front—and after 10-15 minutes I hit 44, and stayed there. I never did get as low as they hoped, but probably low enough to suit the needs of the test.
I also never did get as symptomatic as they would have liked, either. Didn’t get nauseous, jittery, clammy… I felt a little warm and for about 3 minutes felt sort of irritated, but that was it.
Then there was this little problem with trying to take blood out of me. For some reason my body just does not want to let go of its blood. I really made that nurse (well, 2 nurses, actually) work for it. Nice nurse that she was, she had a box of mini-donuts waiting for me, so that as soon as they got the blood they needed with my blood sugar way down, I would have something sugary to push it back up. That and a Mountain Dew (I brought a grape soda, but it was warm by then.) Now, she musta been psychic, cause she brought my favorite mini-donuts, and I really like Mt. Dew.
I blew my diet all to hell today, but for a box of mini-donuts, it was worth it. I only had a few when I was there but I got to take the whole box home. Yay.
Now I wait. It’ll probably be a week or two before the results are in.
So keep your fingers crossed.
This is one test I want to fail.
March 16, 2003
By Any Other Name…
This may come as a surprise to many of you—in fact, I’m certain it will, judging by my email—but my name is not Kathy.
Neither is it Kathleen, Katherine, or Kath.
Now, I have a sister named Kathy, but I’m not sure how so many people came to the conclusion that my name is Kathy. For the last 4-5 months I’ve been getting email a couple times a week, clearly intended for me, but they start out “Hey, Kathy,” or “Dear Kathleen,” or just “Kath!” Rarely are those emails from the same person… so I’m stumped.
I don’t think I’ve corrected anyone in email, mostly because the notes have been one-time things, comments about this or that on one of my websites. Lately, however, people with whom I have had many online conversations have begun addressing me as Kathy. These are people who know me as Thumper, and may have seen my “professional” name on a website (K.A. Thompson), but I’m still not sure how one goes about making the leap from K.A. to Kathy.
In any case, I’m not Kathy.
If you’re not sure what to call me, just call me Thumper.
That sound you heard, that was me, falling off the fence.
Every time I see the news today, every time I see Bush's face on the TV, and hear his posturing, I cringe. The Cowboy Mentality is wearing thin. My stomach has literally done flip-flops off and on all day. My gut is telling me what my head could not.
I love my country, I believe in its freedoms, but if deep down I thought this war was a good idea, and rightly timed, I don't think I'd feel so ill at ease.
We're rushing to war without enough reason, and without giving the UN a chance to act appropriately.
I can't support it. I just can't.
March 19, 2003
Return To Sender
I’m this close (hold your thumb and index finger together real close) to changing my email address and not telling anyone. Or changing it and giving it to only a select few under the threat of severe bodily harm if they share it with anyone.
Here’s the thing… I hate whining. Really hate it. And if you’re in my email whining and bitching and complaining about everyone else, and you rarely have anything nice to say, chances are I don’t like hearing from you, and I only respond once in a while out of a sense of obligation.
Now, if you also enter my email pontificating, and I respond with a different opinion, don’t expect to unload a really pissy reply on me without ticking me off. One of two things will happen: I’ll either ignore you, and you won’t hear so much as a whisper out of me for a very long time, or I’ll let you have it with both barrels.
I am, after all, entitled to my own opinion on life and the things involved in it. If you don’t want to hear my side of it don’t burden me with yours. I’m all for intelligent conversation, but I refuse to be anyone’s verbal whipping boy. If you want to discuss, fine. If you only want me to agree with you, forget it. If you want to share negative gossip about family and friends and co-workers, find someone else. Don’t expect me to talk about someone behind their back. Don’t expect me to be some brainless parrot.
Just play nice, all right?
March 24, 2003
Most Sundays for the last few months the Spouse Thingy and I have gone bowling on Sundays. The base bowling alley has a Family Day special—3 games, a slice of pizza, and a small drink for $6. Well, they include shoe rentals, too, but we have our own. It’s a decent deal, it saves about $10 overall (if you usually get the shoes), and since we really like bowling (because, after all, we are bowling gods. Quit laughing), it’s a bargain.
I see the same people there week after week, so we’re not the only people who seem to like it. I wonder, though, about the people who are there every Sunday with their kids in tow, kids who clearly do not want to be bowling. At $6 it really is a good deal—if you like to bowl. If you don’t, it’s like spending $6 to torture yourself. Or in the case of people dragging the kids along, it’s $6 to torture each of the kids.
It adds up. You have 3 kids and you’ve spent $18 for something they not only don’t want to do, but you’ve spent $18 to torment everyone around you. Face it, kids are kids, and if they don’t want to do something, they let the whole world know. For the $6 you spend on each of them for bowling, you could take them to a matinee at the multiplex.
There’s one family that’s there pretty much every Sunday. They have 4 kids. For the six of them, that’s what, $36? No one is having any fun—they spend most of the time chasing one or more of the kids, yelling at one or more of the kids, comforting at least one child in tears, and they wind up pissed off at each other because the kids are upset and not having a good time.
And face it, the people playing on the lanes to either side of them aren’t happy, either.
So why torment the kids? Why torment themselves? Why torment the people around them? Yes, the $6/person is a good deal, but not if everyone hates it.
I don’t get it.
Now Spouse Thingy and I, we love it. Or at least we love it when we’re playing well. Yesterday was a sweet day for me, I started off with a 205. Ooohyeah. I followed that with a 188. But we don’t need to discuss my third game… Nope.
Sadly, the Sunday Family Day ends at the end of April, and the bowling alley will be closed on Sundays until Fall. I don’t know why, I just know it’s gonna suck. Dammit, if it’s Sunday, I wanna bowl!
Overheard while sitting in the BX Food Court, trying to write:
In a sing-song voice, "I'm getting pizza, I'm getting pizza, I'm getting pizza..."
I wanted pizza.
I got diet coke instead.
Where's the humanity???
March 25, 2003
The Waiting Game
The nice thing about Spouse Thingy working in the hospital is that when I’m waiting for test results, he can get into the system and find out what they are.
The downside is that even after I know what they are, I have to wait for the doc to call in order to do anything about them. And in this instance, I am not a patient person.
I know the results of the insulin stress test I underwent on March 13th. I even have a nice printout to frame for posterity. For the purposes of this test, normal HGH levels would measure between 0 and 10. Throughout the test, before they gave me insulin, after they gave it and my blood sugar dropped, and after they fed me and it was going back up, my HGH measured at “less than .1.” Less than point-1.
I failed the test.
Technically this means I can now go on HGH replacement therapy—but I still have to wait for the doc to call.
March 26, 2003
Never To Old To Learn
I was bad today… I’ve been craving a Wendy’s Frosty for a couple of days now, so after running a couple of errands, I stopped for lunch. Had a burger, diet coke, and the Frosty. And it made me very, very happy.
Less than a minute after I sat down a group of teenagers came in; loud, boisterous, clothes-way-too-big-pull-up-your-pants-dammit teenage boys. I cringed. There was only one other person besides myself in the dining room when I sat down, and she was older than I am. I had visions of my nice, quiet, self indulgent lunch being ruined by rude kids.
Then, as if by design, this group of boys picked the tables right in front of the one I was sitting at. They plopped down trays piled high with burgers and fries, and were laughing so loud it almost echoed. I was prepared to grab hold on the edge of the table, lest I be sucked into the vortex when they started wolfing down all that food.
They all sat down.
In unison, they all bowed their heads.
And they prayed.
They gave thanks for the food they had, the roofs over their heads, and they asked for protection for the soldiers fighting the war. They asked that “our guys” be given the wisdom to treat their prisoners with justice and compassion. They asked that the families left behind be watched over, and for it all to come to a swift and fair end.
After a hearty “Amen!” the noise level escalated and they laughing began again. Just as loud. There were all the assorted gross noises that teenage boys make and find hysterically funny. French fries flying across the table.
They were being kids.
And I was so ashamed of myself.
There is nothing wrong with being a kid, being loud, having fun and letting your joy shine. Yet when they walked in, I assumed the worst. I’d forgotten the sheer joy of being a teenager with freedom, and I had forgotten that just being a teenager doesn’t also mean you’re going to be rude, obnoxious, and ungrateful.
Those boys were my friends and myself at that age.
We were loud. We prayed together.
They’re probably good kids, the same as my friends and I were. We probably annoyed a lot of people, who never saw the other side of us. I never thought I’d be one of Those People, who automatically stereotype people.
Something for me to think about.
Oh, and kids… pull up your pants. Really.
March 30, 2003
Ahhhh..... Broadband Internet Access.
After maxing out a 22K, this is a freaking speed demon.
I be very, very happy right now :)
March 31, 2003
Relax, It’s Just A Little Prick
This afternoon we went over to the base pharmacy to pick up my first scrip for Somatatropin – growth hormone. The doc left a message on our answering machine Friday afternoon, basically telling me what I already knew, and that he’d put the prescription in.
Spouse Thingy oversaw my first injection, but I did it myself; it’s a tiny, tiny needle, and the writing on the syringe is tiny, tiny, but he showed me where my dose line is and then told me how to inject, pull back to make sure I wasn’t injecting into a vein, and then gave me a special needle disposal box. I feel so special ;)
But… my adventures in HGH replacement have begun. I’ve started a second blog, one specifically to chronicle my progress (or lack thereof), and to make note of any difference it makes in my Fibromyalgia symptoms. It’s HGH Experiment. Feel free to peek in and poke at me if it looks like I’m slacking off.
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