Monthly Archives: August 2009

What I Did During My Summer Vacation

Okay, fine, it wasn’t an entire summer, just a long four-day weekend (with a good portion of two of those days spent getting there and back) but I felt lucky to have had even that much time off. We traveled to Minneapolis for my niece’s wedding a week ago — my daughter, her boyfriend and I — and since pictures were taken (mostly by others), I decided to share a few (with thanks to those others).

BTW, I have discovered a new strategy for defending myself against people who aim cameras at me: scowl ferociously and keep moving at all times. Consequently, none of the pictures worth looking at were of me. Really. Not one.

The kids wanted to see the sights, so Saturday we drove around Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles, where we stopped and walked for a while.

The weather could not have been more perfect — 78 degrees with low humidity, a light breeze and clear blue skies.

They also wanted to see the U of M campus. No idea how we ended up downtown instead [ahem], but they were delighted by the ingenious practicality of the vast skyway system and my slight detour was mercilessly mocked graciously forgiven.

We eventually made it to campus, where we saw the brand new stadium and then ate lunch at Stub & Herbs, one of my favourite hangouts back when I was in college there, and I discovered that my ability to park in a space smaller than an actual car has not improved with time.

The rehearsal dinner Saturday night was at the Walker Art Center. I didn’t take pictures, but here is one I stole from this site 

We were in the room looking out that top window and the upper angle of the window made it seem like the entire room was on a slant and you expected your dinner, which was fittingly artistic as well as delicious, might slide off the table at any moment. It didn’t.

Sunday morning I had brunch with one of my imaginary internet friends who lives in the area (I don’t normally consider a place two hours away via car to be “in the area,” but I’ve learned imaginary friends have an odd determination about things like that). There were no pictures, just indelible moments of friendship and conversation.

Late Sunday afternoon, the wedding and dinner reception were held in my older sister’s back yard. Her house is on Lake Minnetonka, which is a very large lake. It’s a very large house. Her back yard is, hands down, one of my absolute favourite places to sit quietly and enjoy the beauty of Minnesota.

The front yard isn’t bad either, and that evening it featured a string quartet serenading the Dancing Hares (or so it seemed) while we enjoyed post-wedding/pre-dinner cocktails.

Here are some pics of the back yard, including the chuppah — the canopy under which the bride and groom stand during a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony.

Everything was so beautiful. Even the cake.

And the hanging balloon-like lanterns.

And as if there weren’t enough beauty outside, there were ornate flowers inside as well.

A good time was had by all. The bride was gorgeous, the groom handsome and both were glowing with happiness. There was much visiting and catching up with relatives and long-time friends, enough laughter and talking to make your brain explode er, to last until the next momentous occasion brings us together again.

Which I sincerely hope will not occur in the midst of a Minnesota winter.


Filed under travel

The power of words

Of all the possible combinations of words in the English language, right now I can’t think of one that is more wonderful than “not malignant.” Nor can I think of a better text message than the one I sent to my kids today: NOT CANCER.

What about you? Got any personal favourite phrases you want to share?

Don’t mind me. I’ll just be over here in the corner, floating near the ceiling, giddy with relief.


Filed under health and well-being

Monday, Bloody Monday

So, today was fun. I spent the first half of it mostly naked and hooked up to complicated beeping machinery, laying on a gurney in a brightly lit room full of strangers whom I had given permission to wield sharp instruments in my vicinity. And you thought your Monday was rough.

Clearly, I have lived in The South too long if I am willing to discuss medical conditions in public. But maybe doing so will convince someone else secretly harboring a strange lump or bump or monster under the bed to go get it checked out.

WARNING: Graphic pictures below. 

[As if that’s going to turn anyone away.]

My lump is on my neck. No, I’m not talking about my head. Specifically, my lump is on my thyroid. Highly scientific internet research informs me the thyroid is shaped like a butterfly. Here is mine — the lump is small, you might not be able to see it:

A few months ago when I first noticed the lump, my self-diagnosis involved jumping to the worst possible conclusion. I was sure the tight achy slightly swollen area must be esophageal cancer run rampant and I worried about the best way to inform people of my imminent demise. I have since learned that the wildest part of the imagination is indeed located in the thyroid gland. Who knew?

After having been seen by at least a dozen medical professionals in as many weeks (if you count the blood-letters and ultrasound techs, which I do), the most dire prediction I could get out of any of them was a cheerful, “It’s highly unlikely that it’s cancerous, but if you have to get cancer, this is the kind to get. It’s highly treatable.” They all took great pains to reassure me that it’s PROBABLY NOT CANCER.

Still. There is that slight chance.

So today, after weeks of waiting — not that I mind waiting, I’m a very patient person [ahem] — I had a fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNA) of the lump, which they do with just a local anesthetic. Why yes, I am going to tell you about it, thanks for asking. In preparation, a nurse called last week to ask me a bunch of medical history type questions. The answers to which were almost unanimously, “No.” She seemed happy about that and said I was a good risk. At one point she asked whether I had any religious objection to any procedure they might perform on me. Which gave me pause. Because, you know, it depends on what they had in mind.

She neglected to mention that shortly after checking me in today, they’d be poking holes at random intervals and inserting tubes in my veins while simultaneously monitoring my pulse rate and blood pressure. “Oh, I see your BP is a bit high today.” No kidding. I swear, those machines are specifically designed to make it go straight through the roof. Here I am being stoically irreligious:

They kept emphasizing they’d be using a “very small needle” for the aspiration procedure. I assumed this meant it would be of sufficiently immense diameter they could use it to suck out my tonsils with no trouble at all, if they hadn’t already been removed when I was six. Why else would they tell me I’d have to stick around for “at least an hour” afterward to make sure I’d stopped bleeding? I was right:

I informed the doctor I was going to tell everyone I’d been the victim of a vampire attack and that he should make it look good. He laughed. Apparently he thought I was kidding. I’d show you a pic of the actual procedure, but it was gory and unsuitable for family viewing. Especially the part where they sort of gouge around in there, vigorously sawing the needle back and forth in the neck to get a good tissue sample. Four different times. Blood lesson: Never settle for one sample when you can get four. I didn’t feel a thing. Well, okay, I was awake, obviously I felt something. But no pain. Everyone said it went well. Here I am, almost completely recovered within mere minutes:

I HAD planned to go in to work afterward. Really. Never mind that the nurses looked a bit alarmed when I mentioned it. In fact, they all kept asking whether anyone was there to drive me home. I assured them I’d be fine. But by the time I got five minutes away from the hospital the local anesthetic had worn off and my neck hurt like hell. So I went home and spent the rest of the day reclining on the couch with an ice pack on my wound — 20 minutes on/20 minutes off, as instructed. You know, there are some parts of your body you really don’t mind having a cold heavy weight pressing down on, even when they’re injured. The neck is not one of them.

I know, you’re probably thinking at least the hard part is over. Not so. The real torture will be waiting another week for the results. But it’s better than not knowing. Seriously, if you have a lump you’re ignoring– stop it. Go get it checked out.

[All kidding aside, everyone at Duke Raleigh Hospital — and I do mean everyone, even the harried receptionist — was extremely nice and went out of their way to make sure the entire process was as pleasant and pain free as possible. They even numbed the back of my hand before they inserted the saline drip. Plus they gave me a very nice ice pack that doesn’t leak once the ice melts. Even so, I hope I never see any of them again.] <– notice the Duke blue, a small tribute


Filed under health and well-being