Friday, May 28, 2010

In my dream, I'm a teaching scientist and I live in Philadelphia

Another doctor's appointment today. My TSH levels are higher each test but still "normal". Up to 2.6 now. My symptoms are worse. Body temp never gets above 98.1 F and is usually much closer to 97, sometimes as low as 96.5. Face puffy-puffy, joints achy-achy. I sleep. A lot.

I do think my doctor is finally convinced that a "wait-and-see" approach is no longer appropriate.

"Your thyroid is HUGE, you definitely have a goiter" she tells me.

Today I think I managed to convince her that she has to start actively treating me. Does this mean I get treatment today? No. But I've got a promise that by July, after a few more tests, she will do something. We'll see. I'd say that I won't hold my breath but I might as well hold it a little since the ping-pong ball in my neck, which is pressing on my wind-pipe, saves me so much effort in the breath-holding department.

I am starting to understand how so many people turn to crack-pot "alternative" medicine. I don't mean to suggest that non-western medicine is crap. I'm talking about the modern day medicine hucksters, selling fake "remedies" on late-night TV. The type of advert where it is claimed that scientists have discovered something great for your weight loss, or your sleep problems, or your poop problems but are just "keeping it a secret".

I'm a little embarrassed to admit this but right now, I think I might be the target of those ads. I know that I'm not well. I'm pretty sure I've been sick, and getting sicker, for two years and that it's affecting my work, my relationships, and the rest of my life. (What is there other than work and relationships you ask? Um... laundry and dishes mostly). I'm glad I don't have a TV or I could see ordering some of 2010's latest snake oil. I wish I were kidding.

I live in a sort of permanent fog now. I'm really worried about my job performance. I fantasize about things that used to be routine for me. I live in my head a lot and my fantasy life has always been really rich.

For example: Fantasy Life B.L.T (Before Lumpolina Thyroiditis)

I go to a cafe to read the paper. I have a perfect latte and also strike up a conversation with a stranger. She turns out to be a recruiter for a new biology-environment-human-medicine-space-travel think tank. A week later she calls to see if I can do a little consulting for them. They are really lacking an ECM biologist on their team. It goes well. I keep my job in Philly but moonlight enough to take short trips to exotic places like Taiwan, Cuba and Outer Space. I use those experiences to enhance my teaching and thus win a teaching award. I also use my new found connections to put together the best young investigator grant EVER. In my spare time I write a book about my work as a teaching biology-environmental-human-medicine-space-traveler scientist. It's so informative but also so warm and hilarious that it becomes a best seller. I'm invited to go on the Daily Show. John Stewart loves me and invites me to have dinner with his family. John Cusak (but not jerky) or Fareed Zakaria (but not married) or Sidney Poitier (but not married and from 1968) or David Sedaris (but not gay and less OCD) happens to be in the audience of the show because he's coming to dinner at the Stewart house and he falls in love with me. It becomes a famous romance and we write several books and/or screen plays while I also pursue a successful career in science. I can afford to move my mom, Froggie and her brother to Philly. Plus, through all this I'm 30 lbs thinner and have really great clothes. Plus two Cell papers. Plus a Nature paper. Plus I have some gorgeous babies with John-Fareed-Sidney-David. Plus some other great stuff.

Ha ha! Fun.
However, my fantasy life is very different these days.

For example: Fantasy Life W.L.T (With Lumpolina Thyroidcrapitis)

It's Saturday and I manage to wake up before noon. When I wake up, I feel refreshed from sleeping and my body doesn't hurt too much in my joints for me to move about the apartment. I have a healthy breakfast because I feel good and I'm hungry. Then, I pack up some laundry and take it down to the laundromat to wash while I plan experiments for the week. I finish my laundry, drop it off at my house, and head in to the lab for a few hours. I get all prepped for the coming week and leave feeling on top of my job and excited about research. I walk the 1.5 miles back from work chatting with my mom or A~ on my cell phone. I pick up some fresh groceries on the way home. I make a yummy dinner and then wander out to meet a friend for a glass of wine before calling it an early night. It's fun to have a drink with a friend because my head is clear, I can focus on what they have to tell me and I have something to talk about other than how much I sleep and how frustrated I am with my health care. I'm a teaching/research post-doc and I live in Philadelphia. My clothes aren't that great but at least they are clean. Plus some other great stuff.

Right now, B.L.T. fantasies and W.L.T. fantasies feel sort of equally possible for me. I wish my doctor(s) could understand how scary that is for me. It's not good when you are as likely to marry Sidney Poitier from 1968 or a hetro David Sedaris as you are to get your laundry done on a Saturday. Not good at all. Hoping for July.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fashion trends from a true fashionista!

If you've never met me in person, let me just tell you that I am a fashion diva. In the picture of me to the right of the page?

Jeans: Old Navy,
Clogs: Naturalizer
T-shirt: Sears
Sweat Ring around T-shirt: model's own

So, you probably want to think about taking your fashion advice from me. I don't usually post anything other than stories but I saw an ad for this on and I thought I had suddenly popped into an SNL mock ad: Pajama Jeans? No. Yes? Is this the next snuggie? The tag line is "Pajamas you live in. Jeans you sleep in"

The advert showed a woman proudly walking around in her PajamaJeans (TM) (good thing they trademarked that, this is going to be 2010s Chia Pet, I can feel it) while wearing a blazer and a kicky scarf. Then she sheds the blazer and scarf and curls up in bed. It looks like the perfect gift for the women in your life who are prone to alcoholic black-outs.

I also received an e-mail advert from The Gap. I need a few summer things so I popped over to their website and found some lovely T-shirts (would look so nice with PajamaJeans!). They were expensive, sure, but they come with a narrative and that's worth at least an additional $15.

Here is the narrative:

And here are some examples of the execution:

I know that's hard to read so from left to right: 'The suffragist', 'The patriot', 'The flapper'.

Thanks Gap. I appreciate that you are both educating young women about the term suffragist and enforcing the idea that patriots wear ugly American flags on everything, even their boobs. I look forward to your next line of T-shirts designed around even more iconic female roles. I am particularly excited about your upcoming "The Virgin and the Whore".

The 'Whore' will of course feature a T-shirt with circular cut-outs, directly over each breast.

The "Virgin"? Obviously that will be a T-shirt with even bigger circular cut-outs... directly over each breast.

Monday, May 3, 2010

This is what four States of love tastes like

I am a crabby butt-head today. I am tired. I am behind in every aspect of my work (teaching, research, old papers from former lab) because I have been run down. I spent the weekend with guests. Some of this was lovely, but I'm tired now. Did I mention cranky? I feel like I need a week to get caught up. I need a vacation from being unproductive. I am SO behind at work. I had to cancel my doctor's appointment for this Thursday and it made me want to kick rocks. I'm so sick of waiting for something to be done with lumpolina-the-thyroid-disruptah.

DP was one of my guests and she left this morning. Even in my sleepy stupor, I was sorry to see her go. Sorry, but (when I woke up) completely confused as to what made her want to shove all of my toiletries (the ones I use daily and so keep on the counter) into a drawer. D? You reading this? What's up with that? You had to get the toiletries out of your sight on the morning you left town? That drawer was not arranged randomly, by the way. It was one of the only organized areas of my whole apartment. I still love you anyway. We'll always have D'Angelo's. And Yogorino. And 1993. And the lasagna episode. And raspberries. And the naked mud bath. Plus years and years of conversation. We have a lot actually. I do really love you. But next time leave my toiletries alone?

Crabby-butt-dinky-head. It didn't help that I checked my e-mail first thing to find that I was behind on...EVERYTHING. My fault, I know. Still sucked. Then I get an e-mail from a new Philly friend. We e-mail a lot. This is new to me and I can't seem to stop doing it even though we work in close enough proximity that I could easily walk over and say hello in person. Procrastination or novelty, I'm not sure, but it's wearing me (and likely NPF) out. I had e-mailed yesterday to tell him that I was planning on seeing a movie this evening and that the protagonist shared NPF's name. NPF wrote back today to say he didn't think he could make it, but he'll try. This makes me want to cry when I read it. Not because I'm disappointed that he can't come, but because I hadn't really intended to extend an invitation. I was with people all weekend (well, it was all weekend relative to how little company I keep these days) and I just wanted to have the evening to myself to recharge. Plus, I have a huge zit on my chin (again) and nobody should look at me or even in my vicinity until it's gone. I was stuck between wanting to go to the movie alone and not wanting to go alone since there was a perceived invitation and now maybe going alone meant that I was being rejected. Making connections in a new city is exhausting.

C.R.A.B.B.Y. You figure out what the damn initials stand for. I'm too grumpy to do it.

I worked on the computer for the day. Did not get caught up. Exchanged a few crabby texts with NPF. He was polite (not wanting to seem as if rejecting?), I was terse (why are you making me feel rejected when I only want to be alone anyway?). I almost bail on the movie idea but then buy myself a ticket online so I can't skip it and anyway, it was one-night-only.

Crab face, but then....Things Turn Around*. I go, alone, to the movie. I don't feel lonely. I feel relieved that I'm doing something for me. It's a light movie, but sweet. There is a "conversation with the director" afterwards. He's a light director, but sweet. I walk out of the community center, prepared to take a cab as it is after nine and realize....I LIVE IN PHILADELPHIA! The weather is warm, mid-70's at least and the street is just full of people wandering around, chatting, walking dogs, eating frozen yogurt. I'm totally safe to walk home. This is nice. I put my phone on and find that A~ has called me. This is nice too. I wander to a Chinese restaurant near my house and order "Healthy Vegetarian Szechuan Hunan Special General Tso 'Chicken' " (because nothing says "healthy" like deep fried soy-wheat mash soaked in red dye #5 and high fructose corn syrup) and some veggie dumplings. A~ and I chat about the movie while I stand outside the restaurant, waiting for my food. Some feeling starts to seep into's happy, just your garden-variety-contentment version of happy.

I head home with my"chicken" and we continue to chat. At my front door is a package from LC. This is exciting for me because she keeps bees and I am expecting some of her home-harvested Alabama honey. I open the package and find that it's better than anything ever. One mason jar of Alabama honey harvested from LC's backyard, two mini bottles of Maker's Mark bourbon, a card that says "I miss you, we'll have a drink soon" and five cans of Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale. One of the cans is completely crushed and, although the pop-top is still sealed, the can is empty. This probably explains the soaking wet newsprint lining the box. Still, perfection.

For me that is what four States of love tastes like. It tastes like meddlesome Oregon toiletry rearrangement, peppered with some Pennsylvania self-invoked alone time, soaked in fructose and Washington conversation, then washed down with Alabama honey and Buffalo Rock. I've got women in every corner of the USA watching my back and I'm holding my own too. Behind at work or no, I'm doing okay as a human being.

I know, sometimes my writing can be a bit much. Does it sound too sweet for you? The metaphor a bit tender and mushy? Yes? Well....why don't you go suck a sharp dusty rock? I'll do my happy any damn way I please and that includes both cheesy and happy-crabby. Habby? Cheese-Chappy? Screw you. I'm going to bed.

(but I'm going to bed happy)

*I'm not sure, but I think "Things Turn Around" is the title of an ill-fated work by Chinua Achebe, meant to follow his ground-breaking "Things Fall Apart". Unfortunately, nobody wanted to read it. Mostly it just contained detailed passages of yam crops growing, unadulterated by locusts, and people sitting around chatting about what kinds of non-threatening animals had wandered through the village that day.