Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Spaghetti Squash Strings With Ease

     Memorial Weekend went by without too much of a hitch but God I was exhausted yesterday cleaning up hard cases after the second Saturday in a row. I think I went to the grocery three times? When Cecelia asked me to go with her to Kroger one morning I forget it's all confusing in retrospect I was like OK because what do you say to an adult-ish kid who wants to spend time with you? Yes. Always. It happens less, and she is leaving soon to spend two weeks with Chanel in London then some time in Denmark with Caroline and she has lots of side trips planned. You'll inspire my next year's vacation, I told her, and she beamed.

    Speaking of Chanel what an amazing human being she's like a cross between Janet Joplin and Bette Midler she has the most incredible sense of style and a beautiful singing voice and a (swoon) raspy British accent and she is magnetic because she is always ON until she falls asleep mid sentence on the couch. That's probably why C is attracted to her as a friend - like attracts like. I got in big trouble for calling her Chenal (it's ok mom because Mrs. Rachel does it too but it's the BRAND. Not the STREET in Little Rock). I was trained over the weekend, bc Chanel came in from London for one day (these kids) - it was supposed to be two, she said, but my Las Vegas got canceled. We chipped in on a new tic she had a terrible day stuck in airports. The Hendrix gals had a big blow out to see her off back to London for good.

    So on Sunday (I'm remembering now) after the grocery trip Jim and Zack were in the pool but Cecelia wanted me to learn how to make spaghetti squash - she did this amazing dish after baking it in the oven then crisping it in the air fryer and mixing it with roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and Boulevard pesto. My mom had a big stint while I was in high school trying to make my bro Crohn's disease friendly meals (basically non gluten - he gave up on that years ago and I finally broke my gluten free stint it's like torture honestly). There was a cookbook with spaghetti squash spaghetti, we ate it a lot, but I hadn't had any since then.

    Sprinkle it with salt and pepper and drizzle olive oil (not too much or it gets soggy), after you cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. This is a small one, lets bake it on 425 for 30 minutes. An hour if it is a big one. We waited, and chatted, and when it was done she took a fork to separate the squash noodles. 

    It reminds me of a testicle, I told her, to her mortification and amusement. We don't get testicles very often, maybe twice a year. Always makes me cringe when I have one in my pile, torsion is easy but tumors are very tough. I never saw this in training, but when I got to Baptist I was alarmed to see in the gross, I guess the PA's had to be trained by some pathologist on this, that the testicular tubules string with ease. Made sense, based on my own experience grossing testicles, but kind of Eww right? And I have never seen them say anything opposite. What is the opposite of testicular tubules stringing with ease? Can they actually string with difficulty? They actually do resemble mini spaghetti squashes, without the tough rind.

    Jack is thriving at Boy's State - he texted us today about winning the runoff in his political party in the race for Lieutenant Governor. I've had two retirement parties this week - Amy head of micro had a big one on Tuesday (cry emoji) and Van, who has been here many years in cytology, is going to travel to make more money. Big pizza party today to see him off to St. Petersburg. Happy Wednesday, much love, Elizabeth



Thursday, May 25, 2023

Friday Eve

     Whew only a few more days of call then a week of work then I'm off. I have never been so ready. In addition to work, I had some jaw-dropping news in my personal and work family this week that have made me manic. Finally feeling more grounded. Nothing terrible (well the work was a little frustrating), nothing that doesn't make sense in retrospect, but still. There are things that make you change your worldview. Like having a kid. Lys brought me homemade pumpkin bread in the hospital when I had Cecelia, I will never forget how wonderful it tasted. And on the ride home, with little C in her carseat, I marveled at how I will never look at banal things like Toys R Us the same. It's like being cracked open, raw and bloody. Then you get grounded, and realize you have to fit into a new mold now.

    I had Paula yesterday for the first time in a month, it was much needed. The clearing over the last few months has helped my GI issues in so many ways. I only have exorcist moments every month, instead of three times a week. I finally went to the dentist for the first time in two years. Last time, she told me my gag reflex was so bad (she couldn't take films) that I'd have to take a benzo and have a driver to come back. That daunted me. After I broke my jaw, I had two root canals in the middle of a work day. Can't take benzos and go to work. So I learned the other day I needed a root canal then a crown and then she can fill four cavities. FOUR! I have never had more than one at a time. Got the root set up for Monday the 5th. After a mom and daughter massage in the morning.

    C leaves for Denmark and London on the 8th of June. So I'm glad I have that week off to spend some time with her. Pedi's and walks together is on her wish list. I miss you mom, she said. She and Woody spent a few days in Florida with my mom and dad this week and that made me happy, the pics are amazing. Her ETA is 7:00 tonight. I bought lots of yummy goodies to plow her with. Dark chocolate covered cashews, caramelized pecans. Fresh pimento and pesto from Boulevard, chicken and garlic tortellini, and Amanda Ferrell, who came for book club last weekend, introduced me to yet another incredible candy bar. Mayan chocolate.

    Where the hell did you get this? I texted her the next day. You are my chocolate angel. Whole Foods check out, she texted back. Jack and S went to town I had to hide the last two. I enjoyed the chocolate pretzel peanut butter one last night there are lots of varieties. Jauss said her son loved them so much she will also be headed to buy more soon. I'm more of a savory than sweet person but I appreciate a well thought out sweet, if only a bite or two.

    Jess told me there were three autopsies (!) while I was gone - she said the transfer to UAMS has gotten much smoother. Gross room is busy, but running well. Lots of John Sims frozens this week. And neuro. I told Blake Phillips in the Dr. Lounge the other morning at 7:30 you and Burson are taxing me this week with weird cases. Tell me, he said. There was an NF1 (think Elephant man). 7 cm mediastinal mass eroding into the C-spine. This is a first for me. I feel like Shaver and I are on the path to figure it out. Detective work. Not easy, but fun, and hopefully we can help the patient.

    Been emotionally labile, uncharacteristically crying. Surprising myself. Luckily I have lots of support. Singing helps. Writing helps. Connection helps. Looking forward to a full house this weekend, Jack is coming over tomorrow too. S's dad (who I love) will be here and his ex Monica is hosting her oldest son Chris and his adult son Zach. Probably will be some pool fun on Sunday, even though we discovered the pool heater is broken and although we are on a list we cannot get a pool fixer to show up for the second year in a row to save our lives. Maybe waist level? If not at least some sun and books and food and company. Happy Thursday, much love, Elizabeth.



Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Felix and Bidets

     Oh my god Europe was amazing. I got the bug - can't wait to plan a new trip for next year. New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, I want to travel. I was too fear based, unlike Cecelia, in my twenties, but hell if we've got 80 year old presidents I've got a long way to go. Europeans are way more laid back - local parts of the towns closed on Sunday through Tuesday while the Sephoras and the Foot Lockers were open seven days a week. 

    S was super excited that there was a bidet in Bordeaux in our hotel. My expression was like Jessica's when I relayed this story in the gross room yesterday, a mix of shock and horror. Not being judgmental, I have learned in Bad Mom Docs that a lot of people like a good home bidet, but it wasn't something that I wanted to try. When we got to San Sebastian there was another one in the hotel. S urged me to try it - this one isn't as aggressive as the one in France (an aggressive bidet?)  so I vowed to try it, if only once.

    I woke up early one morning while S was still sleeping, and checked out the remote on the wall. Was surprised to learn there is a front bidet and a back bidet (I thought only back?). After using the restroom, I pushed the remote on the back, which I thought was mounted to the wall. It fell down behind the toilet. There was a steady stream of water, at first lukewarm and not entirely unpleasant, but it shifted to hot and I was uncomfortable.

    Surely this will abate after thirty seconds, I thought, but no. I was fidgeting at a crazy angle with my foot to try to retrieve the remote unsuccessfully. Finally I realized this was a bad strategy and shifted back from the toilet to try to grab it with my hands to stop the unmerciful stream of water. Water started shooting all over the bathroom door and floor. Thank god, I thought, I didn't pick the front bidet, it would be hitting me in the face. I grabbed the remote and pushed many buttons before it finally stopped. No more bidets for me. Not in this lifetime.

    I still get really dizzy and spinny with heights, so I tailored the tours to accommodate my weakness. Me, who has ziplined in Costa Rica and hiked mountains. Currently, not so much. We had some non-English speaking transfers, which is fine, but everyone on the tours had a good command of the language. Saying this, I realize my privilege, to not know more than one language (but to be surrounded by French in Bordeaux, after having five years and losing it was a balm). Most of the tour guides were sensitive and accommodated me. But not Felix.

    He picked us up at the last day in the hotel in San Sebastian. The place I wanted to read on the beach (I read four books, only one of which was terrible). It was rainy and 60 the whole time. Felix proclaimed in a heavy Basque accent that he was an amazing driver and had been doing this for 30 years. Red flag. But the trip to the cave and the Witch Museum went without incident, so I wasn't fearful. I heard him talking to S about a place at the top of the highest mountain where you can get good views and buy cheap tobacco and liquor. Thank god I didn't book that tour, I thought.

    We ate lunch at a small town in France with no internet. The food was passable, but when the guide clearly did not understand either French Fries or Pomme du Terres (sorry if I murdered the spelling) I knew he was lying about knowing 5 languages. I saw them everywhere and although we were served them despite our guide's lack of understanding they were soggy and bland. When S went to the bathroom Felix asked me if his driving scared me. No, I said, and this felt like permission, later on, for what happened next.

    S thinks he inadvertently agreed to a trip up the highest mountain. It was at breakneck speed - think of the Pig Trail going almost a hundred miles an hour. I was thrown against the minivan door so much my back felt like it was going to break. He has been cited for his driving, I told S. I accidentally gave him license for this. I'm sick, I cannot get out. I'm a little angry, I agreed to a fisherman's village which should be by the ocean and here we are at the top of the Pyrenees. 

    To his credit, he took it a lot slowly down the mountain after he saw me slumping on the floor of the car and was so solicitous we tipped him as well as any other tour guide. I often tell my kids, when they are going through rough times, turn it into comedy. Own it. Don't be a victim. Like Obama's first book taught me, we learn more from our failures than our wins. 

    Back at work with two weeks of call in front of me. Jet lag has made it tough. Hurtling across the ocean at break neck speed has got to hurt you on a cellular as well as emotional level. Finally recovering today especially since the cases are tough as nails. Cecelia told me she was so jet lagged getting into Spain last summer she was bawling profusely. Made me feel a little better about my struggles the past few days.

    Scottish Brian at Boulevard and I talked about my travels today, he follows me on Insta. I get a pimento only sandwich there - half, and save the other half in the fridge for the next day. I won the free cookie yesterday! Was so freaking excited. A first! He posts a song quote daily and usually by lunch someone has gotten it. Saving nickels, saving dimes. Looking forward to happier times. Linda, I told him. Usually he tells me it's already been deciphered. Monday he said name the song. Blue Bayou, I told him. You win. I want the ginger molasses. You got it. I usually get the quote too late. Ate a third of it for dessert. 

    Today I had a helluva hard case right before lunch. I was trying to pull the undigestible crust off and unprecedentally (not a word, but mine) threw pimento all over my scope and on my light source after the shitty breast case I have to finish off tomorrow, with a lot of others. It took over ten minutes to clean.

    I texted Melody. If I don't laugh about this, I'll cry. I'm in hell too, she said. Is this a Monday? Every day is a Monday lately, I texted back. Eye roll. Can't wait for the new path to start in August. We are running on empty fuel, and we need help. Thank god for vacay. I've got another one coming up in a few weeks starting June 3. Jack's bday! No plans for the summer. Happy Tuesday, much love, Elizabeth.