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9 posts from November 2011

November 28, 2011

Well, I'm feeling sheepish

and embarrassed and humiliated and mortified, all rolled into one!  I'd be more red-faced, but I have to conserve what little energy I have left.  Before I collapse into a complete ball, here's the deal:

I had a CT angiogram of the pelvis and abdomen today.  No, I am not sick, dead or dying.   I am quite healthy and this was not actually required...unless I want to do the major reconstructive surgery that is tentatively planned for January 6, 2012.  

As you may recall, I did not have final reconstruction last year, only an implant exchange and that implant has since failed (as expected).  I never had any intention of keeping the implant longer than necessary, but had to wait at least 4-6 months after radiation finished to allow my skin to heal completely.  Considering what radiation did to the implant, very glad I didn't do anything else prior to now.

The surgery, a DIEP reconstruction, is detailed on the website of my plastic surgeon.  I am not going to link directly to the page, lest someone click right on it and not be prepared for before and after shots.  Instead, you can figure your way around the site if you really want to know what's going to happen.  If not, no worries on my end!

Now before you get your panties in a wad about not being in the 'know'...well, no one is really in the know.  Heck, I'm not even sure it's going to happen, since a lot is dependent on the scan completed today (which almost didn't happen).

It was supposed to be a simple visit.  I would go in, have a quick blood test, a little bit of contrast, a scan and that's that.  Instead, it was a nail-biting, gnashing of the teeth half hour that I hope never to have to repeat.  

The first part was so easy.  I fasted for two hours, showed up on time and filled out paperwork.  I waited a few minutes, changed, had my blood pressure taken and waited again.  Then the torture began.  

You see, I have terrible veins on my left arm.  Guess where blood must be drawn from and where IVs must be started?  Yeppers.  After two extraordinarily painful tries, the tech gave up and called the nurse.  She came in, tried to start a line and within a minute I had contorted my entire body into a pretzel shape.  She then wisely shouted, "Don't move!"

IMG_1474Apparently, with my left arm, the 4th time is the charm.  At this point I waved the white flag and asked to call Pete.  I thought this would be SO simple and I ended up vaccillating between passing out and throwing up.  Luckily, complete NPO goes out the window when you are shaking and sweaty, as they handed me a glass of juice without question.  Ten minutes later, they felt I was sufficiently calm (and would not collapse if I stood up), so I was taken back for the CT scan.

The scan itself was painless.  The contrast?  Good grief, I thought my arm was being shot up for the 5th time!  Luckily I was able to just hold my breath through the pain, but so much for quick and easy.

I took my time getting off the table, getting dressed and then just collapsed in the lobby until Pete picked me up.  Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy, I know, but my veins are just not made for poking.  And now?

Now I get to wait a bit more while the doctor reviews the scan.  Hopefully, I'll soon get a call saying the surgery is a go.  More details soon if it is and if not, well, not entirely sure what will happen...

November 25, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.



Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  Neat photo-op courtesy of the Children's Museum - Pittsburgh and the Little Guy.


November 20, 2011

Like It or Leave It: The Foreign Service

you didn't know that you joined.  Well, I certainly didn't know I had joined it.  Not until many of us (FS spouses & employees) were informed on Friday afternoon in no uncertain terms that there is one and ONLY one Foreign Service.  It runs perfectly, there are never any problems and everyone is happy as a clam.  There is no need for feedback regarding improvements, and to give such is to whine and complain. Constructive criticism?  What's that?

It was nothing more than a simple discussion.  Questions had been asked and issues were raised.  Then there came a backlash.  Forget about changes, it's not the FS that needs to change, it's YOU. Not me alone, but many of us.  We were wrong to think that change is good or necessary.  The Foreign Service is  fine the way it is and if you don't like it that way, it's best you (the collective group of whiners) leave.  My jaw dropped.  Seriously?  Years of many people working for a more family-friendly FS and it's suddenly "like it or leave it"?

The perfect FS sounds a bit much like a fairy tale, right?  No moves ever go awry, no HHE or UAB lost during a PCS.  TDYs are just the right length, housing issues are non-existent and no one gets sick or worse during a move or tour overseas.  Everyone is friendly, helpful and accomodating, no one has a bad day.  Vouchers are always correct, schools are exceptional and life is perfect.

Who works for a company like that?  I know there are great companies out there, but seriously, one where NO mistakes are made, employees are perfectly compensated, all items are created in fair-trade factories and everything runs like clockwork in every single respect every day of every week of every year.  Raise your hand if you work for one.  Not one hand?  Hmm, thought so.

You see, I thought we worked for the other Foreign Service. It's not necessarily perfect, more like a work in progress.  It's a combination of an incredible amount of talent and experience, brought together to share the U.S. with the world.  There are issues just like with any company.  People get sick, furniture gets moldy in storage, consumables are lost and things go awry at post.  Do you know what happens then?

People in this Foreign Service, whether in the U.S. or overseas band together.  They work with others to try and prevent the issue from happening again or to simply alleviate grief or unhappiness, whether in the local culture or the embassy community.  They don't quit and they don't decide because things didn't go absolutely perfectly, that it's time to jump ship. 

They ensure that employees get home when emergencies arise.  They form alliances to help friends dealing with the unthinkable.  They go out of their way to share information in any way they can.  They have an indomitable spirit that makes the Foreign Service the incredible 'company' that it has become.

I know of one young mother who found herself a bit lost of few years back.  Her husband was working in a position that was extremely demanding time and travel wise.  She became a bit stressed over this and the part that hurt the most?  Those who believed and stated many times that "it was his job" and that she should get over it.  She didn't.

She also didn't quit.  Instead of rolling into a ball and worrying about two more years of craziness, she met with friends in similar circumstances.  She started a small group, an online group, so that anyone in the same position around the world could join.  In the 8 years since the group's inception, the membership has grown to over 320 members.  The (still somewhat young) woman who started the group would like to think that she took a trying experience and turned it into an opportunity.  A chance to help others and create a supportive community for those who needed advice, support or just a chance to vent.

If she were a part of the other FS, she would have just quit and left well enough alone.  She wouldn't have cared that others might like to learn from her experiences or that she could derive assistance from theirs.  Why?  Well, because if you don't like things in the first Foreign Service, you don't strive to make things better, you just leave.

Well, she didn't and I'm glad she didn't.  If she had, she would not have had an incredible community to rally behind her last year through one of the most miserable experiences of her life.  She would not have found out exactly how well the State Department works when getting an employee home ASAP from a dangerous location in a time of need.  And, most importantly, she would not be looking forward to an incredible assignment overseas in August of 2013, where she hopes to do a bit more good.

So, tell me which Foreign Service do you prefer?  The one that's perfect or the one that is rooted in reality?  Frankly, I'll take the latter.

Like that or leave it.


November 18, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.



Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  


November 12, 2011

"These are for you,

Mom, because you are beautiful and you are my princess."


That Little Guy sure has a way with words....

November 11, 2011

{este momento}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you think know the significance of this moment, please feel free to leave your guess in a comment.


Idea courtesy of Soulemama.  




November 10, 2011

The one good thing

about going to a doctor's appointment today (one that did not actually happen) is that I managed to fill out a medical questionnaire in entirety without being angry, frustrated or bawling my eyes out.  It's the first time in 13 months that I could simply check things off and not freak about the box I didn't want to check (at least it said "had," not "have").  There were also boxes I didn't have to check, which made me surpemely happy.

Never mind that I have had to reschedule this appointment twice now.  We'll forget how the insurance company approved 2 out 3 parts of a procedure, instead of the whole kit and caboodle.  We'll dismiss the fact that the surgeon told me to go, only to have the radiology folks say (AFTER I filled out the forms), "Oops, no, won't do any good if you can't do all 3 parts."  

I left the office with the hopes that I will return next week, so I can attempt this procedure for 4th time.  It's nothing particularly dramatic or scary (it's actually a good thing) and if all goes well, I may be feeling more like a whole person again once the new year rolls around.  It's still an "if" though, so more on the topic should it become a when....for now, I'll just rejoice in my silly, little (yet oh so huge) baby steps back to my old normal.  Feels pretty good, if I do say so myself.



November 07, 2011


Nicholas shouted as he alit from the car on Friday at the zoo.  He had the day off from Montessori, as parent/teacher conferences were held Thursday and Friday.  If you are wondering, his was Thursday, and we believe it went well.

I had to conference in Peter as he forgot to block off the afternoon and had work to do!  The nerve!  I was a bit nervous at first (never know when that whole "cheesus" business might pop up again), but I think it went pretty well.  My two favorite statements from his teacher (who rules in LG's opinion) were:

1.  "He's like a sponge!"  I wanted to die laughing, but assumed that would be rude.  It's similar to one of my favorite quotes from the movie Parenthood.  I do think it's accurate, but aren't they all sponges at that age?

2.  "He actually seems to seek me out for conversation."  Yeah, we've noticed this, too.  Not only does he seek out his elders for more, uh, advanced conversation, but he remembers every word we say.  Let's just say we better darn well be able to remember what we said to him.  A double-edged sword, I tell ya.

IMG_1326 IMG_1328Since we actually had nothing happening on Friday and he accompanied me to a meeting on Thursday (and was so patient for over an hour while we, well, met), I figured a treat was in order.  What better way to spend a free afternoon than at the zoo?

Well, there isn't one.   The zoo in Washington, DC, is a mere 30 minutes away and a gorgeous drive on a cool fall day.  Another attractive point?  It's in "the city!"  The city  (or Washington, DC!) is very, very big right now.  He just loves going to "the island" as he calls it and any excuse to go there is a good one. We had no trouble finding parking and immediately headed in to see the animals.

IMG_1330 IMG_1336We saw cheetahs, zebras, birds of every feather, monkeys, apes, gorillas, invertebricks (invertebrates), snakes ("like the snake that ate the deer"...a very big story in our house right now), turtles, and more.  He hadn't been to the zoo in over a year, but clearly remembered our trip last summer and which friends we visited it with.  Since it was not prime tourist season, he had plenty of space to run...and this, made him tired.  So tired, in fact, that twice he said, "We can go home now.  I'm tired and need to take a nap."  

Okay, twist my arm!  Of course, five minutes later he would have another burst of energy, followed by a "I'm tired!  Can we just hang out for a few minutes?"  We did hang out and it was quite fun. We even played a game of Zoo-per Bingo and circled (or triangled) all of the animals we found.  (You have no idea how proud I was of myself for actually preparing and printing out the sheet of paper, which I promptly lost when we left the zoo.)

IMG_1337 IMG_1339We had a lovely, lovely day despite my poor planning that required us to eat at the zoo.  I brought snacks, but hadn't really thought out lunch and was a bit disappointed in the fare.  Little Guy loved it though and thought it most exciting that sit outside on the park benches and eat our lunches.  He opened his hamburger, took one bite and said, "This is DELICIOUS!"  

I can't really say the same for my lunch, but the look of glee on his face was pretty infectious.  It may not have been the best lunch, but it was still a very good day.  So good, in fact, that we are going out to have another field trip this coming Friday.  We will go out to lunch  (see, I can be taught!) with Pete (it's a holiday)  after school and then head to the Museum of Natural History.  Good times, I tell ya, good times.


November 04, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. One photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.


Idea courtesy of Soulemama.