Earlier this week, the hospital called to confirm an appointment. We missed the call, so Dave listened to the voicemail while I watched the captioning scroll by on the phone. They were confirming my Friday morning screening mammogram (the one I get every year at this time), and at one point in the captioning I read, “Please be here at 8 am for chicken.”
The captioning on our phones is usually good for a laugh, and this was an especially good one. I even joked about it on Facebook, envisioning a mouthwatering meal of chicken awaiting me when I arrived for check-in (what I assume they really meant).
Alas, there was no chicken … just your standard boob-smashing. This is my ninth mammogram, and before I got my first one I was a bit anxious. As a woman, you lose a certain amount of modesty once you reach the childbearing years; if you aren’t getting an annual breast exam and pap smear, then you’re submitting to frequent pelvic exams (and then some) when you have a baby. There’s just no way to go through these things and be shy about exposing your body a bit.
As a kid, I was horribly modest. I wouldn’t wear halter tops and felt self-conscious in a bikini. If a dressing room had no doors, I refused to use it. This last one drove my mom crazy because we used to frequent a few stores that had this setup. There was just no way I was taking my clothes off in a room full of strangers, with no privacy. Sometimes she could get me to change clothes if she hung up all my stuff in such a way that it gave me a de facto curtain, but more often than not I dug in my heels and refused.
If you’d told me then that someday I’d let someone manhandle me for about 15 minutes during a mammogram and I wouldn’t even blush, I would never have believed you. (I also would have sworn, at that tender age, to never have a mammogram, the same way I swore to never have babies because it meant I had to have blood drawn.)
Mammograms don’t bother me at all, really. They don’t hurt; the technicians are always really nice and laid-back, and have a way of putting you at ease in what could be an uncomfortable situation. The hospital I go to has a really cushy center for mammograms that I kind of enjoy visiting, so it’s all good.
The waiting room is fairly huge (with a kitchen and snacks and all kinds of goodies) and I never know what direction the technician might be coming from to call me back. Usually when I’m in a waiting room, I’m on high alert. I might hold a magazine and glance down every now and then, but I always make sure to position myself where I can see as they come in to call people. I look up at any sign of movement and read lips to see if they’re calling my name. This time, though, I sat back with a magazine and became engrossed in an article. I did get a little nervous because technicians were coming from both directions, usually where I couldn’t see them at all, and oftentimes I couldn’t really understand what name they were saying. Someone else always jumped up, though, so I knew they weren’t calling me. Just when I was in the middle of a really interesting article, I heard my name. The tech was around the corner where I couldn’t even see her, and I still caught my name with no problem at all. That was a first for me!
Afterwards, we went home and Dave started coffee. I had just turned on my computer when I heard him talking. Turns out our bald squirrel friend was on the deck, eating sunflower seeds, and Dave was having a one-sided conversation with him. This broke my heart because it was so cold that morning, right around seven degrees F. I was glad he’d made it through the night, but I knew we had a bitterly cold weekend coming up.
Dave set a cat carrier outside, put some peanuts and pecans way at the back of the interior, and left the carrier door open. He left our patio door open a crack, and waited for the squirrel to take the bait. He was holding a long wooden stick that he planned to use to slam the door shut once the squirrel was fully inside. The whole time, he talked to the squirrel and encouraged him.
I couldn’t watch, but I hovered in the periphery. After about ten minutes, just as the water for our vacuum pot coffee maker was beginning to boil, I heard the cage door slam. Dave held it shut with the stick, stepped out onto the deck and latched the carrier all the way. The squirrel was strangely calm, which surprised us both; no chattering or foot stamping, just hanging out on the piece of berber carpet in the carrier.
It was about ten minutes after 9 am and Willowbrook Wildlife Center had opened at 9:00. After we high-fived, we carried him out to the car, buckled the carrier in, and drove him over. About 20 minutes later, he was in triage and we were giving our information to the admittance clerk. She came back to let us know they were thinking he had mange, which is treatable. After we talked for a while, we gave them a donation (not required, but we wanted to) and headed home, a little stunned that it had all happened so quickly.
It was a pretty great way to end the week.
I’m planning our Thanksgiving menu, which currently consists of ridiculous amounts of food for the four of us. I don’t care; leftovers are one of the best parts of Thanksgiving. I calculated how many pie crusts I need and how much butter; I nailed down an appetizer. After all that planning, I was horrified to realize I forgot to write stuffing on the list. Stuffing, one of my favorite components of the meal! (Shakes head, wonders about self.)
I’m still counting calories over here, a month and a half later. I’m happy to report that I am WAY less bitchy and obsessive than I was when I did Weight Watchers; I’m also losing weight more consistently (slowly but consistently) and not doing the thing where I feel like I’ve starved myself all week and then gained two pounds, you know? That was always discouraging. I’m giving Livestrong.com a big thumbs up for ease of use. Just be careful how you set it up, if you do use it. I did the thing where I put in my current weight and then how much weight I wanted to lose per week, and let it calculate my calories for me. (As a side note, it yelled at me when I said I wanted to lose two pounds a week. “THAT’S NOT ENOUGH CALORIES PER DAY, CRAZY WOMAN!” Being short sucks sometimes.)
What happened, though, was every time I updated to a new, lower weight, it would also lower my allotted number of calories per day. Since I’m super-short (barely 5 feet 1 inch), my calorie count was inching down to just over 1,000 calories per day. I was starting to get lightheaded at points, so I did some reading and apparently a woman of my age and size needs 1200 calories just to keep the ole body functioning. Anything less and my body thinks it’s starving, which defeats the purpose.
So I switched things around and set my daily calories at a fixed 1200 per day. That seems to work for me; combined with exercise, I’m losing about a pound a week with no hunger or lightheadedness.
On a related note, one of the things I love about the site is that you can enter your own recipes in and use those calorie counts. I was being lazy and using someone else’s calorie count for homemade honey wheat bread, which was something like 125 calories per slice. (Homemade bread has more calories than store-bought, but the better taste is worth it IMHO.) I finally got off my butt and entered Dave’s bread recipe in and was ecstatic to see that it’s only 80 calories per slice. And that’s with a slice even bigger than the ones I was giving myself before. So yay, homemade bread.
Still no idea if it’s helped my cholesterol levels (they screwed up my blood test on Friday and I have to go back tomorrow to have it re-done) but there’s been a positive effect on my high blood pressure. I’m not sure if it’s the exercise (probably is), but it was 110/60 at my doctor’s appointment on Friday, and I was a nervous wreck. I get nervous just looking at the building my doctor works out of; once I set foot inside my heart just starts pounding. Usually my BP is about 135/90 or a little higher, so when I told Dave what it was on Friday he was ready to check me into the hospital. If it stays low, maybe I can even go off medication.
If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer for someone who cooks, I highly HIGHLY recommend a Recipe Rock. I’m not linking to one because I’m not trying to make any money off referrals or anything, but if you do a search it’ll come right up. Seriously, I use mine every day. Just don’t lose the little magnet ball ‘cause, you know, you need that to make it work.
We’re having a weird November day here – we woke up to temperatures in the 60s and lots of wind, and then some big storms moved into the area. Of course, I’m missing all of it – it seems like nearly every time a big storm comes through I’m au natural (aka deaf), either because it’s nighttime and I’m in bed, or because I’ve taken a shower and I’m waiting for my hair to air-dry (usually one or two hours).
I got out of the shower and Dave excitedly told me about everything I missed (our bathroom has no window so between being deaf and not being able to see outside, I was clueless). He described how the wind was so loud it sounded like a train, and showed me our neighbor’s back yard, which is festooned with pieces of siding that flew off the house next door.
A little while later, while it was still raining and windy but not tornado-like, he grabbed my arm and pulled me toward the patio door. There was nothing there except a leaf plastered to the glass outside. “Aw,” he said. “Goldie was here just a second ago!” (If you remember, Goldie is the outside/feral cat who lives under our deck and rebuffs our advances.) Dave went back to the living room to finish watching his football game.
I dug around and found a cat carrier; during a break in the game, I showed it to Dave. “What’s that for?” he wondered.
“Well, in case Goldie comes back and it gets really nasty, she can walk into the carrier from outside and at least be safe from the weather.” I knew how ridiculous it sounded even as I said the words, but I gave him a hopeful smile.
I may not have been able to hear it, but I do believe that man laughed uproariously.
Dave and I were watching a movie the other night when the phone rang. It’s too far away from the living room to read the caller ID display; normally we’d pause what we were watching and get up to check, but this movie was being streamed through Dave’s computer and we couldn’t easily pause it. So we figured we’d just check to see if there was a voicemail when the movie was over.
About 15 minutes later, Dave cocked his head and then jumped up. I couldn’t figure out what was going on – he was acting like he heard something, but all I’d heard was the sound from the movie. He went to his computer and paused the video, then went down to answer the door.
My mom was standing on our front porch, brandishing her laptop. “Did you get my message?” she asked as we invited her in. “No – wait, did you just call?” Dave said as he took her laptop from her. “Yes – I don’t know what happened but all my stuff disappeared. All the stuff written on the top, how I get to my bank and Facebook …”
She went on to explain what was missing as we brought her laptop into the dining room and opened it up. She uses Internet Explorer, which I’m not familiar with (I use Firefox and, before that, Chrome) but it sounded like she was missing her bookmarks toolbar. I took a chance and right-clicked in the toolbar area, got a drop down box, and saw that her Favorites toolbar was unchecked. I checked it and voila … all her bookmarks showed up again.
After I showed her what I’d done to bring it back (I know it’s easy to accidentally click on things and have toolbars appear and disappear) we headed into the kitchen to feed her some of Dave’s birthday cake (coconut cake with a wondrous Swiss meringue buttercream frosting that I discovered this year … way, WAY better than the kind with powdered sugar which I find to be too sweet).
I knew she’d been out to visit my brother and his family the night before and that they were going to a Halloween party, so I asked what they dressed up as. I heard her say, “Joe was broccoli.” I thought, well, that’s kind of different but it could be a cute couples costume if his wife went as another type of veggie or food. I was distracted at this point, trying to picture how they made the costume (or maybe they bought or rented it?) and I heard my mom saying something about cutting a wig for him. Then I envisioned a green (curly, maybe?) wig, or maybe it was more of a head topper thing and not really a wig, and she just trimmed it so it wouldn’t get in his eyes?
I was in a bit of a reverie, imagining how this costume had come together, and my mom was still explaining. “Yes, he had a black eye, and blood on his face …”
“Wait, Mom,” I interrupted. “What did you say he went as?” Bloody black-eyed broccoli was just not making sense.
“Rocky,” she said. “You know, Rocky Balboa?”