Friday, February 29, 2008


I smoke, but I have the sense to feel guilty about it, and I'm intermittently trying to quit. If I'm around kids, I don't smoke, and if a child for some reason materializes while I have a lit smokarette, I either hide it or put it out. They don't need that stuff in their lungs, nor do they need a bad example (I assume that my coolness is so immediately evident that even one glance at me smoking would cause impressionable children to forever and inextricably link cool and smoking in their fragile little brains).

But to continue to an open letter to the other folk I encounter in the impromptu smoking area outside the hospital:
Don't ask to bum a cigarette. Especially don't ask me if you are obviously pregnant--particularly if you are "about to go into the ER wit' contractions" or if you're already in a patient gown that barely covers your 40-week belly. Would I run around the nursery or NICU passing out cigs like candy? Would I blow smoke into a PICU incubator? No, and that's why I'm not giving one to you either. It comes to the same thing.
Don't ask me if I have an "extra" cigarette. I never have extras; I don't buy extras; they're all for me, and they're expensive. Don't think you can get around the expense by offering to "buy a cigarette" either, because you're either hoping I'll just give you one and say, "don't worry about it," which is manipulative and disingenuous, or you're actually going to pay me for it, which is worse. You're sick; that's why you're at the hospital. If you didn't before you came in, you almost certainly now have C. diff and P. Aeruginosa and Goddess knows what else knocking around on your hands (maybe some drug-resistant TB thrown in the mix, judging by that sonorous cough), so I'd prefer you didn't fish that quarter out of your fanny pack, thanks. Treating professionals can glove and Purell up before they come into contact with you without causing offense; I can't. Don't ask, "Can I get a cigarette?" because my impulse--which I will have to bite my tongue to suppress, causing me discomfort and making me even less likely to give you anything--will be, "Sure you can get one. Hell, you can go get twenty--there's a Shell station just across the park. Knock yourself out."
Last but not least (this has actually happened, and would be a really cool story if it weren't so sad): If you are a 6 foot 6 guy, with multiple tattoos that your patient gown shows off to perfection, and a MASSIVE CHEST TUBE that you have just HANGING OUT, please at least hide the tube a little so I feel less guilty when you intimidate me into giving up one of my smokes. Because I will forever remember that I gave a cigarette to a guy with a pneumothorax/ sucking chest wound/ whatever, and I will always feel bad about it.
Speaking of which, doesn't "sucking chest wound" sound redundant? I think it is a foregone conclusion that penetrating chest wounds suck...ha ha. And to me, "spontaneous pneumothorax" sounds like the fun kind of pneumothorax, the kind that would call you at 3 pm on a Friday and say, "Leave work early, I'm at your apartment with the convertible and a cooler full of soda and snacks, and we're driving to Atlantic City tonight!"

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

As you know if you read regularly (all six of you), I moved recently. To a slightly more...interesting part of town. My dad calls it "the edge of Boystown," as in there are lots of gay folks around here (just like Chicago's Boystown! Isn't Dad a riot? Seriously, though, I'm glad he didn't say something exponentially more offensive), and there are a lot of people about who seem to be either 1) into the WNBA, ie, lesboriffic, or 2) into Madonna, interior decorating and musical theater. So there's that.
But just on the other side of where I live is a major Kansas City thoroughfare which is well-known for being, hmm, simultaneously economically depressed and colorful. Within a few blocks of my house, there is:
1) a storefront mosque
2) a tattoo parlor (right across the street from the mosque, actually, which made me bust out laughing the first time I noticed it)
3) a storefront church (Assembly of God, if you're keeping track)
4) that low-income neighborhood staple, the 'variety store,' ie cigarette and liquor emporium; this particular variety store has a sign with a picture of a gentleman--I guess it must be the owner--who looks like the love child of Don King and the Reverend Al Sharpton
5) a clothing store started by two young entrepreneurs by the names of "J Bone" and "Ja Quan" (per their signage)
6) A CVS with the. largest. liquor. department. I have ever seen. In fact, the storefront advertises "Photos. Beer. Wine." No mention of pharmacy, though I suppose most people are aware that CVS is primarily a pharmacy chain, not to mention the fact that a large number of the people I've encountered in the store appear to be taking care of their pharmaceutical needs on their own (and I'm not talking about alternative and complementary medicine). I would say 75% of the people buying something at this CVS are buying one alcoholic beverage or another. Not that they're just buying booze--but they're certainly picking some up while they're there. ("Oh, right, I need some tampons...and some toothpaste...and a fifth of Canadian Mist.")
7) A little family start-up restaurant/drive-through called "Wings n Things." Every time I drive by I wonder what the "Things" might be, then decide that it might be better not to think about it.
8)The most depressing-looking day care center on the planet, with a painting of Shrek by the door (over the boarded-up windows) proclaiming, "Smile, Your on Camera!" Every time I see the "Your" I have to fight the urge to slam on my brakes, grab a Sharpie out of my purse and fix the damn thing. Yes, I'm a grammar Nazi; so what?
9) An auto sales lot advertising "used cars starting at $475! No credit, bad credit, no problem!" I feel like somehow someone is getting screwed over. Call it my spidey sense.
10) Two payday loan places, perhaps the only locations more depressing than the day care center. And they're always full.

Maybe someday I'll get my ass in gear and take some moody black and white pictures of the neighborhood. Maybe I'll be the next Mary Ellen Mark. Or maybe I'll just stop in Wings n Things and look at the menu, and finally stop the nagging voice in my head asking, "What 'things'?"

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Testosterone is a controlled substance. And so should it be.
Speaking of controlled substances, I have a doctor who's sort of driving me crazy with her cowgirl prescribing practices. A psychiatrist, to be more specific. I recently upped the dosage of one of my drugs, and haven't been doing spectacularly generally, moodwise, and as a result I've been pretty tired (intense training for the upcoming road race season probably hasn't been helping...walking up the stairs after my workout today, my calves were crying...). I mentioned this to her, in the casual way you mention things to your psychiatrist--"I think the new dosage is a little sedating, but I understand that will go away with time, and I'm just hanging out waiting for my body to adjust..." To which she replies, "If it's really bothering you, I could write you a prescription for ProVigil, and then you wouldn't be so sleepy."
Whoa. Back that train up into the station. What?
First of all, treating side effects from drug A with a whole new drug is something I'm not completely comfortable with. Sure, if I have to have chemo (God forbid) someday, some Zofran would not go amiss. But taking a sedating mood stabilizer, then adding a dash of modafinil to keep my head on straight so I can go to work? No. Try again. See what's behind door number 3, because you are not a winner this time.
Furthermore, modafinil is a controlled substance. It's not seriously hardcore, I mean, it's no MS Contin (how does she know so much about narcotics? you wonder. My uncle died when I was 18 after a protracted and painful battle with not one but two types of cancer. Somehow he won the "your life will turn to shit" lottery and over the course of 10 years developed a fibrosarcoma in his leg which was removed but metastasized--as we later learned--to his lung; and an unrelated adenocarcinoma of the lung that showed up shortly after the first metastases did. Did I mention he also had both his legs amputated above the knee because he developed diabetes but didn't control it? So, yes, he had lots and lots of drugs around. I remember visiting his house and literally seeing bottles--not drugstore vials, but glass dispensary-type bottles--of morphine sulfate sitting around) but it's a respectable Schedule IV, up there with your Ativan and Talwin.

Then there's my PCP, who offered to write for Tylenol #3 when I had that boil on my butt earlier this year. Huh? This is the same guy who once thought it would be a good idea to write for Fiorinal for my migraines (can't take triptans or ergotamines with SSRIs, I know, but surely he could have thought of something better than a Schedule II narcotic?). When I went to Cornell and told my doc there I sometimes got migraines, and took Fiorinal for them (though not often, because I don't like being knocked on my ass) I thought she was going to have a seizure. "That's a really bad idea," is all she said. So now when I feel the aura coming on, I just get into bed, have a handful of aspirin (ok, I'm kidding--seriously, an aspirin overdose can f*ck you up a lot worse than some narcotics can, mostly because there is no equivalent to Narcan for aspirin...) and try to sleep through it. Unless the guy upstairs is playing 'Wonderwall' on his guitar for the fifth time in a row, in which case I roll over, fire a few shots through the ceiling, and then try to sleep through it.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Damn, I really wanted to be Lara Croft. *sigh* Speaking of which, I really need to rent Mr. and Mrs. Smith again. Normally I'm an artsy-fartsy movie aficionado--French and Chinese and Italian films, little indie movies, documentaries like "King Corn" or "Black Gold" (I'd link them, but I'm lazy tonight...) but anything with lots of Angelina Jolie, lots of weaponry, and not very much clothing is always going to get me. Mmmm, Tomb Raider.

Hold on, someone's knocking at the door...wait, who are you? Arrgh! Ahhh! No, give it back! I didn't mean it! I didn't mean to objectify anyone! I was deconstructing the dominant heteronormative paradigm through transgressive queer iteration! Please, I had a 4.2 average in Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies classes in college! Get out! Get out! *slam*

Well, folks, they tried to take my feminist card away, but I didn't let them. 'Cause, you see, if your feminist card gets suspended, your lesbian license automatically comes up for review...

At least I wasn't the Terminator. Though due to the fact that it's snowing, AGAIN, being in California this time of year might not be so bad...even if I did have to be married to Maria Shriver, and worry every time she kissed me that she would slice open my face with her razor-sharp cheekbones of death.

Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with
You scored as Neo, the "One"

Neo is the computer hacker-turned-Messiah of the Matrix. He leads a small group of human rebels against the technology that controls them. Neo doubts his ability to lead but doesn't want to disappoint his friends. His goal is for a world where all men know the Truth and are free from the bonds of the Matrix.

Neo, the "One"


Batman, the Dark Knight


The Amazing Spider-Man


Captain Jack Sparrow


Lara Croft


El Zorro




Indiana Jones


William Wallace


The Terminator


James Bond, Agent 007


Friday, February 22, 2008

Beth Ditto is so my new hero. She doesn't apologize for her size, her voice will rock your face off (seriously, if you're planning to listen to her band, please make a preemptive appointment with a plastic surgeon to have your visage reattached), and for God's sake her name is "Beth Ditto."

I've loved her band The Gossip for years now, but I listened to their song "Fire Sign" for the first time in...a while...this morning, and what started out as an "I can't sleep, might as well drag my ass in to work two hours early" day became suddenly...bouncier.

Now Baby she can't help it / but baby she don't feel smart/ now baby you can't help it/ 'cause growing up is the hardest part / but it ain't your fault...

Now Baby what are you thinking/ baby when will you learn?

OK, so they're not the most inspired lyrics, but as with almost every work of art it has to be taken as a whole, a gestalt if you will...words and music. Youtube the song. I'll wait. *checks nails, balances checkbook, sighs impatiently* See? Aren't you glad you looked?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Alphabet Game!

Because I'm bored, and because this is something I do to pass the time when I'm bored, and because I need a blog entry so y'all don't get up en masse and stop reading (abandonment/ rejection issues? Where?). Surely you played this game as a kid...if only as an icebreaker at some day camp your mom made you go to, or during indoor recess if you went to a school so po' they couldn't even afford board games (except for the lame ones like "Number Invaders" or "Journey to Grammarland"...though your fifth-grade teacher did try to teach you all how to play five-card stud, before that time he won all of Joey Corbin's lunch money and wouldn't give it back, and got fired for coming to school smelling like a fifth of Wild Turkey). Or maybe that was just my school.

Anyhow, I always try to tell people who ask me, "What kind of music do you like?" that my tastes are wildly eclectic (yes, I really do say things like "wildly eclectic" in conversations...during a luncheon at a med school interview day I told one of the other interviewees, "Just go in there and wow them with your scintillating personality." "Scintillating personality?" he said. Dick), but then invariably I can only think of musicians in one category, and I come off looking like an idiot trying not to look like an idiot, which is the worst kind. So here goes...the ABCs of Anne's music collection. I'm going to use first or last names for the initial letters as suits me, 'k? K.

Alanis Morissette (chick rock); Alison Krauss and Union Station (country/bluegrass)

Bush (heavy 90s rock); Belle and Sebastian (before they were cool)

the Chieftains (folk/ Irish); Chantal Kreviazuk (fragile and angry and damaged)

Dar Williams (folk--girl n' guitar); Dolly Parton (and the...twins)

Emmylou Harris (country); Elliott, Missy (Me, I'm Supafly...)

Fiona Apple (the. best. ever.); Flogging Molly (has gotten me through hundreds of long runs)

Gaelic Storm (folk/Irish); Garbage (I think Shirley Manson's Scottish...)

Hill, Lauryn (R&B / hip-hop)

Indigo Girls (I know it's lesbo music. Shaddup.); Incubus

Jethro Tull (a rock band with a flute player!)

the Killers

Le Tigre (feminist eclecticism)

Moby (techno trance-y whatever)

Nirvana, Nellie McKay (awesome, awesome girl--look up the lyrics to "The Big One")

Orgy (aggressive techno rock); Orton, Beth

Pearl Jam (Grunge...anyone seeing a 90s theme?)

Queen (but only Bohemian Rhapsody; yeah, I'm a poser)

Rasputina (scary Victorian cellos); Rammstein (scary German fellows)

Sleater-Kinney (angry girls from 90s Seattle); Spektor, Regina (my favorite Soviette!)

Tool (metal forever)

Underground, Velvet (it is NOT cheating!)

Violent Femmes

Welch, Gillian (country/ folk)


Yeah yeah yeahs; Yo-yo Ma


Anyone know of X and Z bands? I honestly don't think I listen to any X or Z bands...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

This is one of the reasons why I don't eat meat. Not just because you can get crazy diseases from it, but because of the inhumanity of factory farming and agribusiness. Normally I try not to bring up my vegetarianism much; unless you're cooking for me (which hardly anyone ever is) or you're my doctor/dietitian, it's no concern of yours what I eat, and you would probably prefer not to be burdened with the information anyway. I hate vegetarians and vegans who are dicks about it ("You know, eating cheese is ethically the same as raping a cow." Yeah, sure. Go eat your lentil loaf and leave me alone. Actually, if you could save me a piece of lentil loaf...).

But. Since it's in the news I feel entitled to hold forth a bit. Unless you know the person who's raising your meat, and know that they are raising it humanely--and killing it humanely--chances are they aren't. I try to live my life in a way that minimizes suffering, whether that be human or animal; it's most commonly recognized as the Buddhist principle of "ahimsa," or "non-harming," but Christ's commandment not to do unto your neighbor what is hateful to you is the same thing and is what I remember from my childhood. Obviously, the world is so interconnected and interdependent that it's sometimes difficult (if not impossible) to determine the course of action that will cause the least suffering. However, in this case I think it's a clear-cut issue. I won't die without meat; eating less meat and dedicating less land to cattle could help a great deal in addressing international issues of hunger and poverty; and after years of not eating meat, I no longer have much of a taste for it. That's all; sermon over.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Apparently my GI upset has been...drumroll, please...irritable bowel. And speaking of irritable, isn't that mostly just a diagnosis they throw at people when they can't think of/find evidence for anything else? Isn't it the gastroenterologist's "idiopathic"? Please don't feel the need to placate me with a diagnosis that is not in fact a diagnosis. Feel free to tell me, "Hell, nothing's wrong with you. Go home and eat some fiber and try to control your stress." For that matter, feel free to say, "We don't actually know what the deal is. There's something going on, but damned if we can figure out what or why. We'll get back to you." On the plus side, about 8 hours of my Tuesday were lost, never to return, in a haze of Demerol and Versed (and Benadryl, on account of I was a little wired pre-procedure). Potent stuff, boys and girls. The last thing I remember is the nurse turning me into the left decubitus position (on my left side, basically, legs bent) and injecting "something to help you relax" into my IV port.

I know I got home somehow; I know my clothes somehow got onto my body, and that I ended up in bed at my house; I have no idea how it happened. Gnomes could have helped me on with my jeans and I could've taken a flying carpet home. No clue. So to anyone who needs a colonoscopy/EGD and is putting it off, let me say this: the prep is the worst part. The prep is the seventh layer of hell, with retching and running to the bathroom and so many glasses of miralax you can feel your insides starting to turn into polyethylene glycol. Also, a clear liquid diet isn't the most fun ever (you can have popsicles and jello but no red or blue food coloring. So, basically, you can have orange popsicles--maybe--and orange or lemon jello. Who eats anything but cherry jello? Or maybe lime? BS). BUT. the procedure itself is actually kinda fun, in that you don't remember it at all and get what my friends call "the fun drugs."

Monday, February 11, 2008

Medical Monday

Today I had a stress test. I am now attached to a Holter monitor, a 24-hour heart monitor. Tomorrow I'm having an EGD (esophogastroduodenoscopy--ie, they're gonna put a tube down my esophagus and look at my stomach) and a colonoscopy (4 feet of tubing going in the other direction--they won't quite meet in the middle, thanks to the luxurious length of the small intestine...but close enough).

I'm not on my period per se, but there's spotting going on, and cramping, and I'm not in a good mood.

The woman doing my stress test today seemed to feel like her convenience was more important than me having my chest adequately draped (Thelma and Louise aren't much, but damned if they aren't all I have) while putting on/taking off the electrodes. Also, she scraped the hell out of my skin before she put the electrodes on. I know you need to exfoliate away some of that excess epithelial goodness, but for Goddess' sake leave me some skin, and put the alcohol swabs on BEFORE, not AFTER. I was not pleased with her. Not pleased at all.
I did fifteen minutes on a Bruce protocol, which surely means something to some reader out there, and was told that the doctor would get back with me about the results soon. Within 1 minute of getting off the treadmill, my heartrate went from 140 to 62. This did please me, and I thought I'd brag about it. *Sings along to The Streets* "You're fit but my God girl you know it!*

Holter monitor itches, and the box is in an awkward location at the front of my body, but I was warned stringently and repeatedly Not. To. F*ck. With. It. So I'm trying to be good, and moving very stiffly to avoid detaching the leads.

Tonight will be the colonoscopy prep (I've been on clear liquids all day thus far) which will mean drinking a gallon--yes, a gallon--of Golytely. Which should really be named GoHardly, or GoFastly, or something similar, because currently it is the biggest misnomer I can think of. So tonight, I will be drinking foul laxatives, eating Jello, and reading the complete works of Marcel Proust on the can.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Oh wow--what does Dr. Phil have more of, brain cells or hair?

Hey, guess what? Dr. Phil isn't actually licensed to practice psychology in any state in the US. Due to an ethical violation some years ago, involving a 19-year-old patient (oh my) he has to take some Ethics 101 type classes, which he's never done. Hence, he's never gotten his license back. Schweet. I know I trust random bald Southern men to tell me how to live my life, regardless of their professional credentials. You know what they say, "If the head is bare and the twang is there--they've got to know what they're doing!" Bzzzzt. wrong.

Recently, for instance, Dr. Phil did a "teen intervention" show. 14-year old Pseudonym McPromiscuous is skipping school, running away from home, doing drugs...basically running down the checklist of delinquent activity. 'Hmm...degrading myself with 30-year-old pervs I've met on the internets...check. Smoking pot behind the school instead of going to math...check...running away...." So what do you do? Look at what's going on in the life of a 14-year-old that makes her think it's worthwhile to get sexually involved with men twice her age? Ask her about a history of sexual or emotional abuse? Try and figure out what's so f*cked up at home that she feels running away is the only way to solve it, and address either the crazy sh*t her parents are doing to her, or any underlying mood disorder? Hell no! Time for tough love. Ship her off to a 'therapeutic school' (is that what they're calling reform schools nowadays?) where she can, and I quote, "learn to take responsibility for herself." Poor girl has never had anyone take care of her, has never had a model of self-care and responsibility--and now, at 14, she's being told to get with the damn program, cowboy up and act like an adult. There's this assumption that she's acting out because she's BAD, not because she's HURTING.

It's true that, biologically speaking, adolescents are insane. Their brains aren't finished cooking, their bodies are doing all this exciting/terrifying/"oh god no one else's looks like THAT" stuff and then you add gallons of hormones and put all this into the pressure cooker of the average American middle/high school. A certain amount of poor judgement just comes with the territory. But when someone goes off the deep end, perhaps it would behoove the adults in their lives to look at the circumstances surrounding the kid's life rather than laying blame at the feet of someone who isn't even old enough to drive/sign a legal contract/buy beer. Way to go, Dr. Phil. Once again you are a douchebag.

Or on an episode where he told an anorexic woman he'd just met: "If you don't stop manipulating, if you don't stop controlling, if you don't start listening, you're going to be dead in six weeks." Wow. Scold her like a little kid, because people with eating disorders don't already have issues with feeling shamed and invalidated. Awesome. Aaaaand the infamous episode where a group of women competed to get free breasticles from Dr. Phil--the one with the most convincing argument for why she needed some boobies to improve her them. What the hell. What the hell. I hate Dr. Phil.