Let me tell you about my Coxsackie…

About two weeks ago, I suddenly started feeling very sick and just tired and run down. My throat got really sore. I didn’t have a cold or anything, I just felt drained. Luckily, it really only lasted a couple days, one of which I worked from home and just napped between meetings. (I probably had a fever, too, but I was too tired to get up and find the thermometer.)

That all finally passed, and then I noticed this tiny bump on one of my fingers. The next day I had a couple more, and then a couple more. By that Friday, the palms of my hands and edges of my fingers were covered in little red dots and bumps, and I noticed the same thing on my feet when I got out of the shower! Then I worried.

My mom told me to go to the urgent care place nearby, so I went in and was seen right away (they’re great there). The doctor came in, I told him my symptoms again, and he asked, “Do you have kids?” No. “Are you a teacher?” No. “Well, have you ever heard of the Coxsackie virus?” Actually yes! MB had just been telling me that she thought baby R had Coxsackie, also known as Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease. Yes, the thing babies get. Although it’s mostly found in kids, adults can get it too, so I must have picked up the germ somewhere 7-10 days earlier!

There is no treatment, but it’s also not really serious – although in adults it can cause fluid around the heart that can lead to heart disease, so the doctor did listen to my heartbeat (nice and strong, no fluids). So I just had to wait it out. By that point I was feeling totally fine, except for the bumps on my hands and feet, which were just annoying. The following day was probably the height of the bump situation – they didn’t really itch or hurt, but they were just uncomfortable (especially the ones on my feet, as I walked around).

Luckily, the bumps really started to heal over after that. It’s now a week later, and really all the dots and bumps are gone, except you can still kind of see shadows of the first ones that appeared (they lasted the longest and were the worst). I’ve been trying to exfoliate my hands to help them clear up faster, lol!



2013 Goal Wrap-Up

There are still a few more days in the year, but I’ve pretty much checked out at this point, so let’s take a look at how I’ve done on my 2013 goals.

  1. Read 25 Books
    I missed, by a little bit. According to Goodreads, I completed 19 books in 2013 (may squeeze another one in there before the end of the year), with four more in progress. Considering I read two books in 2012, this was a huge improvement!

    Of the 19 books I read, 7 were fiction, 5 I’d call memoirs, and at least 3 left me really frustrated with some or all of the characters. At least 8 were somehow educational.

    Having a Kindle was kind of a blessing and a curse – on one hand, it is so convenient to read on! On the other hand, I have this weird hangup about spending money on books, so I got caught up, especially in the beginning, in the fact that the books I wanted to read were not available through my library and I didn’t want to spend money on them. My new thing is cashing in my Ebates earnings for Amazon gift cards, and using that to cover book purchases.

    Another encouragement to read was the fact that I started a sort of book club at work. Some coworkers and I were regularly recommending books to each other, so we decided to get together once a month and read and discuss the same book. It’s hard to coordinate everyone every month, but it’s been fun and we read four books together this year.

  2. Send 2 Cards/Letters per Month
    Nope.
  3. Be a Better Blogger
    This didn’t really happen. Most months I was lucky to get one post written. I blame a number of factors, including the ease of sharing things instantly via Twitter or Facebook, and the fact that most of my other regular blogger friends have tapered off as well, either moving more to another platform like FB, or just disappearing… I still want to keep a blog for myself, so I do try to at least check in and summarize what happened in the last few weeks.

Now, before you say I failed, I picked up an additional goal in the latter part of the year of becoming a little more physically fit. After a few months of weekly meetings with a trainer, plus being more active on our own, I hadn’t lost any actual weight, but I felt “less fat,” and I think that’s just as important (especially considering my original goal for myself wasn’t weight loss but just to do more activity). GG has been using the gym at his office, and I’ll probably join a gym as well, and we plan to continue meeting with our trainer in the new year.

Halloween Surprise

As promised, here is an update on our awesome Halloween decoration… Think about when you used to go trick-or-treating. What are the houses you remember? The ones where someone jumped out or scared you (or maybe where they invited you in for a haunted house, but that’s a lot of work…). So I decided that we should dress GG as a scarecrow, have him sit on the porch, and startle the kids. I mentioned it a few times leading up to Halloween, and he reluctantly went along with the idea.

He wore old jeans and sneakers, a flannel shirt, a cap, and gardening gloves. I tied a piece of burlap over his head and drew a little face on it. He could see through it. We arranged things on the porch, and he got situated around dusk.

It turned out great! I have to say, I was very impressed by GG’s ability to sit perfectly still for nearly four hours. It helped that it was a very mild night. The only problem was that he looked so creepy, a lot of kids were too scared to even come up on the porch, so we didn’t get a ton of trick-or-treaters (despite offering full-size candy bars). Those that did venture up often debated whether that was a real guy, or just a well-made scarecrow. Once they were convinced it was a dummy, they would knock and ask for candy, and he would growl and reach for them. It was awesome! We actually recorded the whole thing, and the video totally cracks me up! [Edit – 12/3] I just watched the video again the other day, and it is still cracking me up! [/Edit]

There was not much in the way of super memorable costumes, but one of my favorites was a group of kids who came right after GG had come in for the night (and actually was out getting us dinner). They were older kids, and one was dressed as Instagram – he had a frame around him with the title and links on an Instagram photo. It was very clever, and he was like, “Hey, follow me, that’s my real user name!” so I did :o)

“What’s gonna happen to Chess Piece Face?”

A couple months ago, I started getting this pain in the left side of my head, behind my ear. It felt like I was wearing a tight headband. It would just come on for a couple minutes and then go away. That started happening more frequently, until there was just a constant pain behind my ear. I got a little concerned. Then it started hurting in my ear. I got slightly less concerned – maybe I just had an ear infection or wax buildup or something. I tried some Debrox drops and decided if it didn’t get better in a couple days, I’d go to the doctor. Then I started getting a pain in the back of my head, like at the base of my skull, and I started worrying again – what if I had meningitis or something?!

So I finally went to the doctor, and she basically took one look at me and said, “TMJ.” I have had TMJ issues for a while now. Five years ago I went to see a TMJ specialist. Since then, I’ve just lived with my retainers that I had modified in like 2004 or 2005, and everything’s been fine. But apparently I had a “flare up,” which caused the whole left side of my face to be inflamed (I didn’t really notice that until she pointed it out), and strained all the various muscles of my head. She gave me some Ibuprofen for the inflammation, and muscle relaxers to take at night so I wouldn’t clench my jaw so much in my sleep, giving it a chance to heal.

I took the anti inflammatory, but put off taking the muscle relaxer as long as I could. I have never taken any kind of sedative, been under anesthesia, or anything like that, and I was nervous about what kind of effect it would have. The first night I took it, I had GG set an alarm to wake up in the middle of the night and check that I was still breathing. But guess what – not only did I not die, it was amazing. My face felt fabulous the next morning.

I actually had a dental appointment that same week, so I mentioned it to them as well. They remained unconcerned about my condition (despite having several minor chipped teeth in the past year, likely due to grinding), and suggested I go back to the orthodontist to have my retainer bulked up. (My theory was that I’d chewed my retainer down those last couple millimeters to where my teeth were touching and grinding at night again, causing the flare-up.) So I went there, which is always a surreal experience because the office is filled with middle and high school students getting their braces adjusted. They took my retainer for a week and thickened it up in the front so there was no way my back teeth could meet. Meanwhile, I relied on bedtime muscle relaxers to keep me from getting my jaw-related headaches. When I got it back a week later, it needed a little adjusting, and then they had me come back a couple weeks after that to see how it was and make any final adjustments. They want me to come again in three months just to make sure everything is still ok. (Meanwhile, I think I will need to go sooner because my teeth must be hitting it strangely and I’ve already chewed an edge out of shape in less than a week.)

I’m trying one other thing for my jaw, something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I finally found an acupuncturist, and I just finished visit four (of about ten). He’s a real Chinese doctor, so you know it’s authentic. He specializes in pain management, and I’d read reviews from people who went to him for acupuncture and he ended up giving them injections or something. I really wanted to try acupuncture, so I just went in, told him what was going on, and that I’d read that acupuncture could really help with TMJ. He agreed, and explained about the treatment. Then he stuck a bunch of pins in me.

I’d tried reading up on acupuncture, but I guess I wasn’t really prepared – and it’s different every time. He’s been doing 10-15 needles each time, mostly in the left side of my jaw (that’s the side that clicks), but sometimes the right side; also a couple in the top of my head; a couple in my right hand and wrist; and a couple in my right foot and/or leg. The first time I went, I didn’t know where he’d need to reach so I wore loose clothes. He just did my head, hand, and foot. So the next time, I wore jeans, and that time he decided he needed to do one up by my knee, and I had to roll up my pant leg. Then he focuses a heat lamp on a certain area (the side of my face, or my hand) to warm the needles for more effect. And he’ll hook up two needles (two in my leg/foot, or one in my foot and one in my wrist) to this low electrical pulse thing.

The needles don’t really hurt at all, though they seem to get more uncomfortable every time. Also, I thought I would be laying down, but I guess because of where he needs to do the needles, I sit up in a chair, with a pillow on my lap for my arms to rest on. He sets me up with the needles and the lamp and the electric thingy, then turns off the lights and leaves me for like half an hour, during which time I try to zone out and relax (though I usually just think about a bunch of stuff I need to do). Then I hear a timer go off somewhere, and he shows up and pulls all the needles out and I go home.

He says after about ten visits my jaw should stop popping – we’ll see about that – but that I should also continue taking the muscle relaxers for 3-6 months to help prevent further damage. So right now I’m not sure if any improvement I’ve noticed is due to the acupuncture or the pills. (I’m ruling out the change to my retainer, because that was really just to build back what had already been there.) But anyone I know who’s tried acupuncture has had great results, and everyone is very curious to see how it works out for me. I’ll keep you posted!

Not My Day

Today was not my day.

I like to get up at a reasonable time on weekends, but we somehow ended up sleeping in until 10:30, which is so late for us. (I think what helped was that I got up and fed the cats and then came back to bed, so they weren’t bugging me anymore.)

GG and I went to Ikea to get additional shelves for our Billy bookcase so we can store all our DVDs on it. We went straight to the self-serve furniture area and looked up the shelves on the computer, then went to the bin where they were supposed to be, but they weren’t there! But then GG found them a couple spots away. So I guess that part of the day worked out ok.

Then we went to Home Depot so I could return something I ordered online. To return an online order, you need to have printed the receipt you were e-mailed. I had to wait in line for like 15 minutes behind this guy who was returning a million little things in a box. When it was my turn, the lady at the returns desk told me I actually had to go to the regular service desk. So I went over there and the girl scanned my e-mail, then scanned the item, and somehow they didn’t match up on the computer. She couldn’t look up the item manually, so she had to call customer service and get a number to look up… and then I realized I’d printed the receipt for the wrong item, so no wonder it didn’t match. So she just looked up the order using my credit card and was able to credit me for the right item.

Then we wanted to buy a Dremmel tool, which the guy in the tool department recommended. But apparently every Home Depot except this one has it in stock. So we’ll have to get it elsewhere.

Then we went to the mall for lunch. On the way there, I tried to change lanes but there was a car in my blind spot that I almost hit. I ended up not being able to change lanes so I had to turn around somewhere so I could get into the mall. We parked near the food court because I wanted to eat at the Saladworks there, but Saladworks is gone. GG got mad at me because I don’t like Indian food. I went and got a sandwich at Subway, then turned around to look for GG. While I was walking and looking across the food court, a baby was toddling around and fell in front of me, and I stepped (lightly!!) on her hand.

When we got home, GG put on some DVRed episodes of “Louie,” but I fell asleep. Then he went out to meet his brother at a bar. I stayed home and did some laundry and cleaning. He called me when he was on his way home – someone had ripped the rear-view mirror off his car! (Ok, that was more GG’s bad day than mine, but it still affects me.)

Good thing I have next week off work – I can really use this vacation!

Ava

A couple months ago I saw the Ava purse on Shop Suey. About 95% of their stuff is not my style, but when I saw this I immediately loved it. I had a big event coming up, so I told myself when that was over, if the purse was still available, I would buy it for myself as a reward.

Last week, I got an e-mail from them about a 4th of July sale and remembered that purse that I’d liked. Not only did they still have it, it was half off! So I ordered it in gray.

It arrived yesterday and I excitedly opened the box to find… A tan purse.


I checked all the other colors it comes in, and this is definitely the closest to gray, but if you look at the picture and video online, it looks more gray than the taupe-colored bag I got. Also the interior is not black, as shown, it’s a darker tan. Oh well, I still really like it. It’s nice quality and looks good. Even though it’s not real leather, literally everyone who has seen it asks if it is.

So today, a friend and I went out at lunch to visit the new Charming Charlie across the street. She was looking for a blue purse, and I picked up anything that was remotely blue. One bag I was immediately drawn to because I liked the shape. The fabric, not so much (it was a plastic-coated blue and brown damask type pattern). As I held it, I realized… it was my Ava bag that I was wearing, just in different material!

I was slightly more ticked off about my new purse – not only is it the color I wanted, the same thing can be had for $19.99 at Charming Charlie?! But, mine is made of nicer quality material, so I guess I’m ok with spending $5 more on it (the sale price). I do like it, weird color or not.

Things I Want to Buy Soon

Wool Jacket: I wanted a jacket that is more formal looking than my regular nylon Eddie Bauer jacket I got last year, but not as formal as my button-down wool coat. I want it to have a hood, and I want it to zip up with fake buttons or at least a hidden zipper. I actually tried on this bomber jacket at Old Navy the other day, and it’s so warm and the hood is huge (I love that), but unlike this picture, the waist is not nipped-in at all, so I just look like a giant blob wearing it. I need something with a little bit more definition. So, the search continues…




Skimmer Sneakers: A couple years ago I got this awesome pair of black and white herringbone Converse skimmers on clearance at Target, and I didn’t really know what to do with them so I never wore them. But I’ve pretty much worn them out this year. They’re just cute, they’ve got a good shape (kind of pointy toe, not round, so they don’t emphasize my huge feet), and they look good with everything. I really need to find a replacement, or at least additional, pair. Even though skimmer season is about over, so it might be hard (or I might find some end-of-season deals).



Boyfriend Sweater: I love the idea of the “boyfriend sweater,” but every time I see one I like I just hear that line from this season’s Project Runway, “They were making something called the ‘grandpa sweater!'” I don’t know, I think they’re cute, but I’m worried that on me it might read as sloppy, and I have to make sure it doesn’t hit at the widest part of my hips, and bla bla bla.


Conan O’Brien at the Tower Theater (or, #pimpbot)

(There are lots of details below, so if you are going to one of the Conan “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television” shows and don’t want to be spoiled, you might want to hold off reading this. However, every show is different, and I kind of wish I had been spoiled because then I would have known things like bringing a camera was not only allowed, it was practically encouraged. Oh well, live and learn.)

Conan’s show in Upper Darby was seriously one of the best shows of any sort that I’ve ever been to. Our seats were right along the center aisle, almost at the very back of the orchestra level. Even though I hadn’t brought my glasses, this was fine, because most of the show was also shot with video cameras and projected on a huge screen on stage. As we waited for it to start, a great selection of songs played and the Conan logo was projected on the screen. Signs in the lobby instructed us to use the hashtag #pimpbot when tweeting about the night’s show, which turned out to be awesome.

The opening act was Reggie Watts, and he was seriously awesome. His humor was totally right for a theater full of Conan fans, too. In addition to normal kind of stand-up, and weird stand-up, he also sang and played some music and made weird sound effects and used a looping machine to make actually really full sounding songs. He was great. If he’s back in the area I’d definitely go see him.

The show itself was structured a lot like a regular Conan TV episode (of whatever show you think he should host). The full band (minus Max Weinberg, who hasn’t been on this tour) came out and played an awesome rendition of Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up,” which I love because it’s so upbeat. Most of the musicians came out into the audience and walked around the whole place while playing. Then there was a video showing what Conan was doing two months ago – mainly, growing a beard, getting fat, wandering around his house, and drinking a lot of wine. His daughter was in a couple shots (“Mom! Daddy smells like pee!”). Then he gets a phone call asking if he can get in shape to do a 32-city tour, so there’s a montage of him exercising, including just pulling off his fat suit, haha!

Conan came on stage and did a bit of a monologue. He talked about what he’s been doing, things he legally can’t do (e.g. he might not be able to use his name, Conan O’Brien, because it may actually be owned by NBC, so he might switch back to his original name – Jet Blaze!), etc. There were lots of Philly jokes thrown in – for example, they brought out a giant cheesesteak, made fun of Upper Darby, and showed a video of Triumph with obviously dubbed-in jokes (things like the real rush hour is when they give away free track suits in South Philadelphia). Andy Richter came out and they had some banter as well. Also, Conan explained that he’d used half their budget to buy this giant inflatable bat from the Meatloaf “Bat Out of Hell” tour, which turned out to be harmless looking, but they had this giant bat on stage, which was hilarious. And he had one of the writers from his show come out and do a bit of stand-up.

There were several musical interludes where Conan got to indulge his inner musician by playing guitar. I forget everything that was played, though based on video clips I’ve seen (just on the news and stuff), it seems like they do generally the same songs at every show. He did a cover of Cake’s cover of “I Will Survive” (except it was changed to be about getting fired from NBC), “On the Road Again” (but it was changed to be about getting “my own show again”), a couple Elvis songs, a cover of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” with extremely heavy bass, and a few more. He had two backup singers called The Coquettes, and it was a shame they didn’t get to do more because in one of the last numbers they really did get to belt out a couple solos, and they were awesome!

Like all the shows on this tour, there were special guests. GG kept saying he felt like Tina Fey would be there, considering Upper Darby is her hometown. Rumors were flying around Twitter that it was John Bon Jovi, Danny DeVito, or even Lady Gaga, but then they brought out Trey Anastasio from Phish to play some pothead Phish song about moving to Alaska or something. Whatever, people seemed to enjoy it.

They then brought out the Walker Texas Ranger Lever, which for legal reasons is now the Chuck Norris Rural Policeman Handle. He pulled it a couple times, then called out another special guest… None other than Tina Fey! She first did it “Upper Darby style,” which meant she pushed the lever with her butt. Then she did it a couple more times, ending on the infamous clip of Haley Joel Osment saying, “Walker told me I have AIDS.” (They play that clip a lot on the local radio show Preston & Steve, and I don’t know if this helped or hurt the response to the clip, but I personally found it slightly less funny/shocking just because I hear it all the time.)

They ended with another musical number, but then of course the crowd kept cheering so they brought Conan out to play some more. He played a song called “40 Days” on an acoustic guitar, and then ran up and down every aisle of the theater (including in the balcony), except ours! I think GG was disappointed he didn’t get to touch him. After that, the house lights came back up and everyone streamed out of there.

In the car on the way home, GG mentioned that he saw the girl in front of him texting or tweeting negative things the whole night, including about “the annoying guy behind [her].” So guess what – I found her (and her boyfriend) on Twitter and tweeted them back. Nothing like defending your husband on the internet!