Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pitcher's Elbow: MRI's Aren't All the Same

This blog post actually contains a bit of helpful advice. No kidding.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to make a habit of it. But this is something people need to know. Because not knowing about it could result in your health insurance being cancelled. Or your arm slowly rotting off. Or both, which would equal a bad day in my book.
This is my 13-year-old son Andrew. He's a really good pitcher. And he's kind of a punk. 
Since Memorial Day weekend, Andrew's had a mysterious, on again, off again elbow infirmity. As caring, responsible, baseball parents who don’t want to be judged and talked about harshly by other baseball parents, James and I have done our best to keep Andrew’s pitching arm healthy. Ya know, no curve balls, only a limited number of pitches per game. No vigorous hand shaking, no fist fights, no arm wrestling, no rock-paper-scissors, no participating in color guard, no directing traffic, limited hitch hiking and absolutely no doing the chicken dance at wedding receptions.

In spite of our best efforts, some tendon or ligament or piston or catalytic converter is causing him occasional pain when he throws. Back in June, Dr. Stapleton (Mr. Tommy John Surgery) recommended an MRI to see exactly which piece of elbow hardware is malfunctioning and if it's still covered under the warranty. 

Elite MRI in Dublin was able to get Andrew scheduled quickly. They were super nice. Gave great service. We were very satisfied. And our insurance company approved it, (which is an important piece of this story.)

follow up appointment with Stapleton three days later

STAPLETON: "You're gonna have to get another MRI. I can't make out anything on this one."

James and I weren't happy with Stapleton. We assumed he'd forgotten his glasses and was giving us the run around, so we had a couple of doctor friends take a look at the MRI film. 

Both physicians put on their most strained faces, as if they were constipated and trying to decipher ancient code written in disappearing ink on the wall of an underwater cave. 

DOC ONE: "Well, I think that's his elbow. Or it could be the Virgin Mary or a pterodactyl. I'm not really sure."

DOC TWO: "yes, that's definitely his elbow because it's a right angle. And elbows are right angles. So, yeah, I can read it."

JAMES: "Can you see his flexor tendon? I think that's what we're looking for."

DOC ONE: "No, honestly, I can't make out any details. Elite MRI is good for getting folks in quickly and they offer great service, but their imaging magnet isn't as strong as the hospital's or the Medical Center's. Their films are usually good enough for us to work with, but they don't offer the sharp detail that you need for an elbow image."

ME: "Well crap. That's good to know."

DOC ONE: "yeah, I guess you'll need a better quality MRI."

That was two months ago. 

We're now seeing Dr. Jody Smith, an orthopedic surgeon here in Richmond.

DR SMITH: "I'm so sorry, but Cigna didn't approve another MRI. They said they already paid for one back in June."

ME: "But that one was bad. No one could read it."

DR SMITH: "I'll call Cigna myself and explain that the first one was poor quality, but I can't promise anything. Insurance companies can be tough to battle."

So, that's where we are today. Still no answer from Cigna. Still no MRI for Andrew. Therefore, no real understanding of what's going on with his elbow. Very frustrating. 

I'm not trying to trash Elite MRI. Our experience there was excellent. But if we'd known that there was a magnet quality issue, we'd have used a different provider. Maybe we're the only ones this has ever happened to. Maybe every other MRI they've done has been crystal clear. I don't know. But I also don't want anyone else to go through the frustration that we're dealing with. 

And that's all I have to say about that. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Grandma Logic

My mom has been visiting us for over a week now. She keeps saying funny stuff that I swear I'll remember and then I don't. So I'm posting this one to live on my blog for all eternity.

ANDREW: "Ouch, I fell off my bike onto my butt and now it's killing me!"

GRANDMA: "That's why you should always wear a helmet."

ANDREW: "On my butt?"

I'm still laughing.

And here's another one...

(Having lunch at Subway)

ME: "Mom, what are you gonna get?"

GRANDMA: "I guess, just a hot dog."

ME: "We're at Subway! They don't sell hot dogs."

GRANDMA: "Well, Honey, there are signs everywhere that say 'foot long.'"

Happy Birthday, Jack Weight! and why the Denver airport will always be special to us.

Jack Weight turns nine today at 5:03 pm. He was actually born at 2:03. But that was in Walnut Creek, CA. Having to wait those extra three hours for an age change is one of the downsides of escaping San Francisco's ludicrously high cost of living.

JACK: "I think we should have a Hammer style dance contest for my birthday festival."

ME: "it's now a festival?"

He's always been a tad grandiose, but original. I'm glad we have him. He makes me smile at least 27 times a day. And I'm still in disbelief at how normal he and his brother seem to be turning out despite my own messed-up-edness.

In fact, the primary reason that Jack exists is because I was terrified that I'd be a complete failure as a parent. And if Andrew had a sibling to share his misery with, he'd be less likely to become a serial killer.*  

James already had three precious, but much older daughters, plus Andrew. Outside of income tax purposes, he didn't see the need to add to the collection. But I couldn't shake the preoccupation of my own childhood loneliness and depression being passed down to Andrew.** And in my unreasonable mind, only a sibling could fix that, or at least give Andrew someone to eat Christmas dinner with and argue about whose turn it was to visit their mom in prison.

James and I fought about having another baby at least once a week, sometimes more depending on the lunar cycle. I nagged. He ignored. I cried and begged. He drank. It went on for nearly two years.

Returning from a vacation to Mount Rushmore, my neurosis finally won the battle. 

(this sentence makes it sound like only my neurosis was on vacation. That'd be cool if you could send your character defects away for a while. I'd be more than happy to pack its bags, buy the ticket and drive it to the airport.) 

Anyway, if you've ever been to the Denver airport, you know that it's an excruciatingly long marathon of moving walkways. One after another, after another, after another, until two years have passed and you've slowly walked to Jupiter and back.

It was on walkway number 47 that I craftily introduced the baby subject once again. Unable to escape from between his insufferable wife and a Branson, Missouri bound couple who were wider than they were tall, James finally snapped. 

ME: (sounding like an addict in need of a fix.) "Honey, Andrew just can't be an only child.*** Please, just one more. Just ONE."

I didn't expect James to answer. He never did. Even today he rarely does. It's a skill he's perfected.

I was wrong. 

JAMES: (in a booming voice that shook the entire airport, the planes in midair and probably the city of Denver.)


A post-earthquake silence hung in the air. 

"thank you." I croaked in my smallest voice.****

The Branson bound couple put down their buffet guides and looked at us for a long second, not sure whether to offer congratulations or put in an advance call to DFACS.

This story has a happy ending.... or a happy "so far." James didn't yell anymore and warmed up to the idea of another baby. He started referring to Jack as his protege even while he was still in utero.

My kids don't seem to have any of the problems I had growing up. They're confident, light-hearted and not in the least bit socially awkward. 

Thank you, God. Thank you. 

And Happy Birthday, Jack Weight. Funny how no one ever just calls him Jack. It's always Jack Weight...sure is great. Hey, that rhymed. 

*If Dexter Morgan and his brother Brian had been raised together, they'd have turned out to be perfectly normal fathers of four with regular jobs that didn't involve blood spatters and prosthetic limb construction. Darn you, Harry, for ruining that. (From the Showtime series Dexter.)

**Even though I had siblings. Go figure.

***I now know that "only children" can be some of the happiest, most well-adjusted humans in long as their parents are reasonably sane. Having siblings or not having siblings isn't a good indicator of emotional well-being. 

****No, Jack was not conceived at the Denver airport. Dallas-Fort Worth is much more romantic. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

It's Now Thoughtful (or less, depending on whom you ask) Thursday

Today I'm trying something I've seen other bloggers do for years. It's called Wordless Wednesday...where you post a bunch of random photos that supposedly represent your life....on a Wednesday. (That was so yesterday.)

Some bloggers only include photos that make their lives seem like one endless girls' night with spa pedicures and highlighter colored cocktails and a glamorous job that they never work at. When do they do laundry? and wait in line at the DMV? 

They're not all like that, though. I once saw a Wordless Wednesday where the blogger posted photos of her skin tags and lesions, asking her readers for dermatological advice. I applaud her resourcefulness in the self help category.

Oh shoot, this is already too wordy to be called wordless. And it's going to get worse because I can't conceive of posting photos without captions. 

Here honest snapshot of my life and all of its trivialities. 

We live in a time where camera scopes can be threaded into tubes that easily snake through people's large intestines. And from the depths of your colon that video can be simultaneously displayed to a group of medical students three continents away. Just wrap your brain around that. Why the crap, hasn't someone invented pads that don't bunch up inside the cups of your bathing suit top? 
I FINALLY sold that God forsaken Oriental rug that I thought would follow me to my grave. Yes, it's the same one you've seen me advertise many times on FaceBook. The one that smells like a rest home for incontinent felines. I was so nervous that the buyer was going to get a whiff of the stench and back out. But I realized that she was God-sent when we loaded it into her truck, which reeked of cigarette smoke. 

My favorite headline of the day. Maybe of the week. Maybe, like, EVER. Do you think the woman got drunk before or after she stole the snake? Do you think in court she could use the "Just-like-Eve-I-didn't-realize-the-snake-was-Satan-and-he-told-me-to-do-it." defense?

Looks like Jack inherited the super-strong, Hall family nearsighted genes. Yesterday, he became a contact lens wearer.  "Mom, I'm gonna need more 'sailing solution.'" I was hoping only one eye would be affected and we could buy him a monocle to wear on one of those fancy chains, like European archdukes in the 1800's. And he could wear jackets with gold tassel shoulder pads and grow a handle bar mustache. Probably wouldn't be so convenient for baseball.

At the same optometrist visit, Andrew had his eyes dilated. These sunglasses give him a debonair combination of Jackie O. and "3D movie viewer. " And they're so much cheaper than Oakleys. 

When I whined that the boys were spending too much time on their devices and needed to learn some real games, this wasn't exactly what I had in mind. But I guess it's not a problem until the sterling silver disappears. (who am I kidding? I pawned that years ago!)
Decorating: Four wall plates. Fourteen nail holes. And they're STILL not right!!!! 
James in his home office. Sometimes he lets me visit him. But only in five minute increments. 

And I declared victory over the backyard yellow jackets. C-4 is officially my new favorite thing. Thanks, Pinterest!!!!
The neighbors have had a crew of combative, hard-of-hearing Mexicans seemingly rebuilding their house from the ground up for the past two weeks. They scream at each other in Spamish all day long.

 I started making up my own Latino Construction soap opera, in which brick mason Javier wants to kill roofer Jose Abreau because he caught him with his Abuela Rosita. And then I remembered that abuela means grandma. And while daydreaming, I should've been doing the dishes because Andrew was eating yogurt with a fork. 
Cali gazes out the window at the Constructiones Latinos all day long. I think she dreams of being a carpenter. 
Meanwhile Anakin lies on his back all day, staring at shampoo bottles in the shower. I really should do more to entertain them. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I Need a Date Night...and better dental insurance

Here's a random photo of my kids that makes me laugh when I'm feeling irritable. 

(This morning...first cup of coffee in hand)

JAMES: "Honey, I've been thinking. I want to take you to....."

(Sentence interrupted by a rhinoceros-sized yawn lasting 28 seconds) 

ME THINKING: (excited with anticipation) "he wants to take me somewhere!!! Yay, he's finally realizing how badly we need a date night! Maybe even a weekend away to a cute bed and breakfast up in the mountains. Or maybe he's gonna say furniture shopping. He was paying attention to all my hints about a new living room set. Geez, will you just finish your yawn already? I can't stand the suspense!"

JAMES: (ending rhino yawn) "so I was thinking..."

ME: "yes? yes? Where are you going to whisk me off to? Is a horse-drawn carriage involved?"

JAMES: "Wells Fargo. They need your signature on file. We can take my truck."

He clearly doesn't know how badly I need to get away. I'm not whining. Well, maybe I am. But it's 12:02 p.m. and over the past four hours I've cleared a toilet clog, cleaned dog feces off a rug, run to Walmart for a box of "make your carpet smell like a dog didn't crap on it" powder, vacuumed the house, made two meals, blah, blah blah. This is pretty much everyday. 

And now I'm sitting in the waiting room of Dr. Krone dds, watching a cartoon featuring Brusher Bailey, a super hero fighting bacteria bad guys on the rough, mountainous terrain of a kid's mouth. 

My son Andrew is getting a filling to replace the one that he recently lost. If that kid doesn't start keeping up with his stuff, I'm gonna scream. 

I guess that's all for now. Andrew is done and ready to go home, where my Prince Charming is waiting to for our rendezvous at Wells Fargo. Maybe I should put on a cocktail dress. 

*Disclaimer: in spite of not picking up on numerous "hints," my husband is a great guy who often does special things for me.

Friday, August 1, 2014

July (sort of) Friday Funny

Today's post is July's Funny Friday, a regular feature published on the last Friday of the month. Yes, I know it's August. But July ran out of Fridays. And that's not my fault. (I plan to write July a strongly worded letter of reprimand for its blatant lack of preparation).

Funny Friday is a collaborative project. Each month, one of the participants submits a picture. Then we all write five captions or thoughts inspired by the photo. Links to the other bloggers' posts are below. I hope we bring a smile to your face as you start your weekend. 

Today's photo was submitted by Someone Else's Genius. 

1) What the crap! The brochure said jazz. This is the lamest band camp I've ever been to. 

2) Yo, Tall Guy! Don't you know that Chess Club meets in the gym on Fridays? Get off my turf before I king you.

3) I wonder if the air is thinner up there.

4) What's UP? LOL Get it? I was making a joke about how tall you are....... oh, yeah. I guess you have heard that one before. 

5)  JOEY: Wait a minute. I know you. You're Enes Kanter. You play basketball for the Utah Jazz.

ROGER MURDOCK: I'm sorry, son, but you must have me confused with someone else. My name is Roger Murdock. I'm the gym teacher.

JOEY: You are Enes! I've seen you play. My dad's got season tickets.

ROGER MURDOCK: I think you should go back to your homeroom now, Joey. Right, class?

OTHER STUDENTS: Nahhhhhh, he's not bothering anyone. Let him stay here.

ROGER MURDOCK: But just remember, my name is...COACH MURDOCK. I'm the gym teacher.

JOEY: I think you're the greatest, but my dad says you don't work hard enough on defense.
And he says that lots of times, you don't even run down court. And that you don't really try... except during the playoffs.

ROGER MURDOCK: [breaking character] The hell I don't! LISTEN, KID! I've been hearing that crap ever since I was at UCLA. I'm out there busting my buns every night. Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes.

What My Husband and I Fight About the Most, a cautionary tale

James and I had the fight again last night. It's a bimonthly ritual where he uses his firmest voice to tell me to keep the @&)"&)&'ing animals off the bed while he's trying to sleep. And I react by sobbing and asking why he bothered to marry me if he never loved me in the first place.

And then he mutters something under his breath, which is my cue to give an Oscar winning performance of hustling the dogs and cats off to sub-zero Siberia (or our very comfortable back deck.)

James and I have a lot in common. We're both right handed and born in North America during the 20th Century to Homo Sapien parents. Oh, and we both speak English and require food, water and shelter to survive. We're practically twins

In spite of our many similarities, we were raised by parents who held radically differing views where pets were concerned. 

I thought everybody grew up in families where animals were treated like royalty. Families that showed up at the Sears Portait Studio with two Springer Spaniels, four coon hounds and a narcissistic house cat...(if he was cooperative. If he wasn't, we'd have to reschedule the whole thing.) 

During many a supper time, my mom would scold me for reaching for a second drumstick. "Angela, you know that one is Scamp's!"
This is our only existing family photo that doesn't feature at least one animal.
That's probably why we all look so miserable. 
It should've been a red flag on our first date when James told me his childhood pet was a goldfish...that lived outside because animals weren't allowed in the house. I should've realized he wasn't a man who would appreciate getting kicked in the face at 2 a.m. by a gassy, 70 pound retriever having a nightmare. 

And so, after nearly 15 years of marriage, my lack of discipline where animals are concerned has caused more fights than anything else. 
             Anakin forgets to ask first if he can have a bite of broccoli.                 
Its not big issues like finances and religion, but the subtle, trivial pet peeves, like dog fur on the furniture, that cause husbands and wives to regularly fantasize about killing and dismembering each other. 

To help people avoid their own relationship pitfalls, I've created a list of vital discussion questions derived from domestic violence incidents minor challenges that James and I have faced over the years. 

If you're engaged or dating someone, then please go over this list with them. It might be the most important thing you ever do. 

1) How many of your exes do you refer to as "psycho?"

2) When riding in the car, do you insist that the windows be rolled up if the AC is on? 

3) If I notice that you have a stray eyebrow hair the length and texture of a piano wire, would you get mad if I try to pluck it? Even if you're asleep?

4) What are your core values regarding the use of bleach when doing laundry? 

5) How often do you help yourself to few bucks when passing the church collection plate?   

6) Is the phrase "does this make me look fat" a sincere question or an IQ test?

7) If you were to enjoy a bowl of ice cream in bed, would I find the bowl the next morning in the dishwasher? Or six years later when we replace our mattress and box springs? 

8) How would you feel about living in a super nice house that you got a great deal on....because a double homicide was committed there? 

9) How often do you miss the toilet? 

10) How do you feel about drinking directly from the milk carton? 

11) When a stranger asks you driving directions, do you leave out a turn or two just for fun? 

12) What's your philosophy on spit cups in the bedroom?

13) At what point are leftovers too old to serve your parents for Sunday dinner?

14) Which Star Wars character do you relate to most and why?

15) Have you or would you ever wear an Under Armour compression shirt with cargo pants? 

16) On sandwiches, do you prefer mayonnaise or Miracle Whip?

17) How do you feel about the show Family Guy?

18) How often do you willingly engage in the act of  replacing a used up toilet paper roll? 

19) In baseball, the score is measured in runs or points? (If your significant other says points, then that's your cue to end the relationship immediately.)

That's all for now. As I think of more questions, I'll be sure to add them. In the meantime, go pick a fight with your significant other about something new and different. 

And if you want to read other awesome blogs from the Friday Favorites linkup, visit Virginia Bloggers

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Home Design Blunders That Drive Occupants to Slow, Certain Insanity

I'd like to personally (not) thank whatever genius thought it was a good idea to place a huge, out-of-reach, awkwardly-shaped, east-facing window in our master bedroom.

Ready or not, this is what I wake up to EVERY MORNING at 6:42 a.m....a 700 degree, super high voltage beam of sunlight.

 It's not a gentle "wake up, sweetheart," nudge. It's a "get up now or I'll set your face on fire," visual scream. Even on rainy days, (which is the darndest thing to try to explain.)

 I would turn over onto my stomach, but five minutes in that position feels like the back of my head is being assaulted by a blow torch and I start to smell burning hair.

There is no snooze alarm. And no sleeping until 10 on Saturday mornings. Thanks to the worst idea in home design history, I'm now an angry, resentful, frustrated morning person..... And I hate all of you. Enjoying life in your dreary bedrooms. You make me sick!

Many times, I've considered covering the offending window with aluminum foil. But that sort of shouts "meth lab." And at this point, I still care what the neighbors think. Maybe by next month, it won't matter anymore because. I'll have committed a class b felony, just so I can go live in a windowless cell. I'm starting to understand why this house, built in 1989, has had 27 different owners. Maybe I'll meet a few of them in prison.

I'd like to thank my writer friend, Pamela Kock for pointing out that there are plenty of half circle window shade options..... But then, I'll have one less thing to whine about.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

And Then a Light Came On. Wait, no it didn't.

It's kind of funny about moving into a new house, figuring out all the property's crazy little nuances, those things that you won't learn about on Zillow or

In our house in California, the washer was located in the pantry, while the dryer was in the garage, off the master bedroom, two zip codes away. I could only assume that the builder was really fond of obstacle courses...or wore dry clean only fabrics. 

Slogging burdensome hampers of wet jeans and towels across a thousand whole square feet and then down a set of shaky, uneven steps would inevitably lead to a string of curse words, followed by a pity party and a box of wine. While others drank because of job related stress or marital problems, my alcohol intake was strictly laundry based.

The washer in the pantry had its own challenges. Once when an open box of rigatoni toppled into the drum, I was tempted to flip the knob to "hot" and start a wash cycle just to be able to say I'd cooked dinner in the washing machine... But then I dropped the idea because choosing between "normal" and "permanent press" proved too big a decision. That's a missed opportunity I'll always regret.

The washer and dryer are conveniently right next to each other in our new house, which makes me feel kind of lazy, like we all felt our first time using a TV remote. 

This house also features at least 18 light switches which apparently control nothing. Every house has maybe one that's just there for idle flipping enjoyment, but I'm baffled by all these impotent switches. What could they possibly go to? 

 This one even has a dimmer, which would be great if there was a light in the ceiling to dim. 

Several nights lately I've made Andrew and Jack stand outside staring at the neighbors' houses while I marched from room to room, flipping switches, hoping to see the Weiners' kitchen light flicker on or the Footes'* brightly lit living room suddenly fall into darkness. But no luck. 

Maybe our switches are wired to a house three blocks away...or to the bathroom of the Gap Outlet in Davenport, Iowa. Or maybe I'll hire an electrician to solve the mystery. 

Yes, we now live between the Footes (or Feete) and the Weiners. You don't know how close I came to having the name "Long" printed on our mailbox post. 

One of my favorite bits from comedian Steven Wright was when he talked about moving into a new apartment with a light switch that didn't control anything. When he was bored, he'd flip it up and down repeatedly for novelty. 

SW: "Two weeks later, I got a letter from a woman in Germany, saying 'cut it out.'"

Monday, July 21, 2014

I'm SO Wrightsville, I can top your "I'm So Wrightsville."

I'm loving reading the "I'm so Wrightsville" posts. And while I really should be doing something productive, I'd rather be all nostalgic and post some of my own memories. Here are a few.

I'm SO Wrightsville....
 (Who can tell me where this floor is?)

1) I remember when J.B. Stoner and the KKK clashed against civil rights marchers on the courthouse square in 1980. Parents started pulling kids out of school early that day. I'm not sure if it was out of fear or to get better seats for the action. 

2) I got my ears pierced at Troup Drugs downtown, when it was on the corner of highways 15 and 319 and had the big orange and blue Rexall sign hanging above it. 

3) We ate Sunday lunch at Mrs. Marjorie Tanner's restaurant...every location.

4) I remember our classes sitting in the creaky old wooden, bolted down auditorium seats at the primary school, watching grainy black and white film strips on fire safety and personal hygiene.

5) I remember when the hardware store next to EMC was the Piggly Wiggly. 

6) Someone help me out with this one. I remember my granny and daddy taking me to lunch at a really narrow little buffet restaurant next to or near Sumner Pharmacy when I was about 5. What was that place called? Did I really happen or did I dream this? 

7) I remember trying not to inhale in Outlaw's Grocery.

8) and hearing the lumber yard's 12 o'clock whistle everyday.

9) I remember Miss Mary Ann's "House on the Corner."

10) My first (and only) dance teachers were Miss Lynn and Miss Beth.

11) And I took piano lessons from Miss Jackie Clements. 

12) I remember when the courthouse was pink.

13) and when the Frost House stood where the EMC/Source building is today.

14) when everyone I knew had gotten stitches at least once from Dr. Dodd,

15) and haircuts from Jerry Hood. 

16) Lots of you remember D Bush and Skin, but do you remember Squirrel, the painter? 

17) I remember the two long, skinny, red and white Allied signs that hung in front of the store. 

18) and smelling like grease after spending only five minutes at the Gas-n-Go. 

19) I remember getting free Cokes and chips from Charles at the Country Club because the snack machines always took my money. 

20) and Mr. Roush, the band teacher, who I always swore was one of Hitler's Gestapo men in a past life. 

21) I remember the super impressive graffiti painted all over Johnson's Bridge. Or was it Pullen's Bridge? Oh crap, I can't remember. You know the one on the dirt road between hwy 57 and hwy 15.

22) getting dizzy from staring too long at the psychidellic flowers painted on the halls of the primary school. 

23) sitting at the power lines with Trey East, taking my first ever shot of Jaegermeister, thinking it was pretty good and then downing a few more gulps like it was Koolaid. Later, I sort of remember throwing up. A lot. 

24) Sitting in Dr. Fason's waiting room, staring at the fake stone carpeting, scarred to death of the four fillings I was about to get.

25) and finally, I'll never forget being four years old, hiding in the circular clothes racks, waiting to jump out and scare shoppers at Hall Brothers Department Store.