Thursday, April 28, 2011

praise God

I had my HSG this morning. The right tube has hydrosalpinx (it also did at my first HSG in early 2009). The left tube does not - it spilled properly. (Same result as early 2009.) I had it done again because during my laparotomy in October of 2009, the doctor also queued up an HSG, and it indicated hydrosalpinx in both tubes (she speculated this was caused by the three months of tamoxifen I took before surgery, which may have aggravated my endometriosis and caused adhesions that fused the second tube shut. Endometriosis sufferers taking stimulating drugs BEFORE having surgery: you have been warned). Her hope was that the surgery would remedy this problem, but I had not verified that this was so.

I know I have a foot in the I quit/permanently infertile/no more treatment camp, but I feel like I've had my sentence suspended on the way to the gas chamber. I didn't know I would be this relieved.

I mean this in no way to attack those whose infertily is medically absolute; I will be joining you there soon (the eggs are aging rapidly). But my resolutions for 2011 included checking a few last things off the infertility treatment list before hanging up my gown hat. Although my infertility is understood to be endo-related, I don't have a little framed certificate with a medical diagnosis, and the surgery that should (could?) have helped didn't help, so I want to resolve my condition intelligibly in my own mind and then move on with my life.

I also took my second round of femara this cycle. I will be doing a blood draw on p+7 to see whether it's improving my hormone levels (it has already improved my chart, clearly). I'll also be trying to make a sporting use of this cycle so I actually get my money's worth out of the drugs (didn't do much with last cycle). And next cycle, I will bite the bullet and start intramuscular HCG injections. (I already have the prescription.) Had the HSG results been bad, I would not be moving to that step.

One other thing I haven't done that I would find useful is an ultrasound series. However, it would significantly interfere with my ability to do my job, and I am not sure I want to deal with that much of a pain in the neck. Since it's diagnosis, not treatment, it doesn't really seem worth the headache. I don't have any reason to believe I am not ovulating (other than my obstinate failure to get pregnant), and some ultrasounds helpfully timed after peak day were consistent with having ovulated (but not conclusive - of course).

We shall see.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Part whatever.

I just realized that I need to fix the hinge on one of the kitchen cupboard doors, so I want to be clear that I am not done, done. Maybe that will never happen. But.

I rehung all the hateful mini-blinds (except in the double window where I didn't have to use curtain hardware - I can just take the curtain down at the last minute and not have any holes to fill in). I filled in all the screw holes from where I hung hardware for curtains. I patched all the holes in the plaster. I patched cracks in the fireplace mortar. My landlord came and caulked the gap in the bathtub (but didn't do anything about the fact that the bathtub for some reason appears to be sinking. Of course). I painted over everything I had patched. I used tri-sodium phosphate to clean the soot from the fireplace mantel and the bathroom walls and ceiling (from candles). I repainted the fireplace where the soot had stained it. We went through all the books and came up with three laundry baskets full to give away (still need to cart them to the Goodwill), and I went through all the other closets, shelves, and containers that contain things and threw out a significant percentage of said things. We discovered and killed a mouse. That means (other than the aforementioned cupboard doors I just remembered) the "repair" phase is done. Next is cleaning (the house was TRASHED by the time I finished all that stuff), and next is projects (mending, artwork).

So I started cleaning - I got the laundry room, kitchen, and bathroom done before I was derailed by Easter. I've started the guest room/area, and I need to finish that and clean the living room and our bedroom (my husband may not know it, but he's going to help me with those). This past weekend, I also made a lamb cake for Easter, bought wedding presents (with my BBB coupons) for the two weddings we have on the next two weekends (more people who will soon have babies before me. I have already mentally prepared - don't worry), and bought maaaaaybe just a couple of small things for my future house.

It goes without saying that I have also spent loads of time poring over old-fashioned wallpaper for the rooms of the new house (no, no news. Why would there be news?).

AND, I finally conquered my flexible spending account. A flexible spending account is a totally evil impostor version of a health savings account, that your brain tricks you into believing is basically the same because it has two of the same letters. Do not be fooled. The concept is simple: HSA good. FSA evil. Even though it's your money in the FSA (taken out before taxes, which is why it's supposed to save you money), they make you jump through a million hoops to prove that it's for medical purposes, and even when you obviously have documentation, they constantly reject claims that aren't documented in just the way they would like. Because I lie all the time about my medical expenses. You know, as one does.

And, FSA money expires; you have deadlines to turn in (the umpteenth version of) all these receipts that they reject. April 30, 2011, is the deadline for FSA money from 2010 (and believe me, I will not have another one of these after 2010!), and I got in all my documentation as of this past week! I only put $1000 in the account (we spent almost twice that on medical stuff), but I was afraid I was going to lose some of it because they rejected hundreds of dollars in claims. Instead of saving me money on taxes, it was going to lose me money that would just be taken away and never returned. BUT I WON! They paid me the last of my $1000 and now the nightmare is over.

I almost typed, "Bring it on, 2011 - I can take you," and then deleted it (you see there it's in quotation marks - that doesn't count), because I have an HSG on Thursday, and I could have, like, a Cowper's Gland where my ovaries are supposed to be. My victories are small; my enemies are potentially of infinite variety and near-infinite power. But I am not giving up.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hiya prayer buddy!

For Lent I got to pray for the lovely Karen at Hope - Pray - Trust. She's had a lot going on lately! In January she lost her beloved grandmother. On March 21st, she delivered her baby girl, Mary Grace. She's also a recent convert to the faith (yay!). I'm generally a pretty lame prayer buddy, so I decided to offer up my Lenten prayers for her. I tried to go to Mass every day, and for each day I didn't, I would pray a Rosary. It doesn't bode well for my hopes of attending Mass daily after Lent, but it came out to about 20 Rosaries and 20 Masses for her intentions, as well as a sprinkling of times I remembered to pray the Angelus.

I also had the brilliant idea that I would figure out who her patron saint for 2011 was and pray a novena to that saint. I was so proud of this little inspiration, but my super-sleuthing was unsuccessful - I'm not sure whether she signed up for a patron saint. But since she had named her baby Mary Grace, I thought a novena to Our Lady of Grace might be in order. Fr. Google is more impressive than Dr. Google, it turns out - I found out about Padre Pio's devotion to a beautiful image of Our Lady (although I think that looks like a pair of wings in the picture, not milk), and a novena associated with the image. (I screwed up and forgot on Palm Sunday, of all days, but I prayed it twice the next day and also tacked on an extra day at the end. I figure it counts one way or another.) Since Karen has just lost her grandmother and she didn't have her own mother around as an example of motherhood while she was growing up, I offered the novena for the intention that Karen become a mother like Our Lady (minus the crucifixion part. I was very specific).

Anyway, since I hadn't "met" Karen before the prayer buddy draw, and I now no longer have to be sneaky, I am adding her to my "with babies" blogroll. Go over and say hi!

And, I have to share one thing from the Easter Mass readings (at the Vigil we attended, they read all seven readings, not counting the Epistle and the Gospel!). This is the fourth reading, from Isaiah 54:
O afflicted one, storm-battered and unconsoled,
I lay your pavements in carnelians,
and your foundations in sapphires;
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of carbuncles,
and all your walls of precious stones.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Alleluia! He is risen!

Happy Easter, everyone!

Friday, April 22, 2011

sharing

Last night at the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper (there are two Masses on Holy Thursday - the Chrism Mass in the morning, at which I believe the oils are blessed for the coming year; I've never actually been, as I'm more likely free in the evening and the Mass of the Lord's Supper is the beginning of the Easter Triduum, so I'm biased in favor of that one), the First Reading was from Exodus - God's instructions to the Israelites on how the Passover should be celebrated. There are specific instructions about the food to be prepared, including:
If a family is too small for a whole lamb,
it shall join the nearest household in procuring one
and shall share in the lamb
in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it.
I love lamb, but I've never prepared an entire year-old male lamb, so I don't know how many it would feed. Definitely more than two; probably more than six? And of course one must consider that the Israelites may well have lived with several generations in one household.

But the divine instructions clearly understand that not everyone has the same size family, yet all are to participate in the feast; and for those with tiny families, even what are truly family matters are properly shared in common with other little families in the same boat. It made me think of the many two-person families I know who share one another's joys and sorrows, lift one another up in prayer, and know the most intimate details of one another's lives. For the people of God, large families are a blessing; and those not so blessed join together in fulfilling their roles in the community.

Have a blessed Triduum, everyone.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

something else

As I wait not-particularly-patiently to hear back about the house, I am expanding my home decor imaginings ever further. We know I've picked out paint and wallpaper for a lot of the house. Oh, wait. Did I forget to share every excruciating detail with you? Well, then.

You're familiar, I'm sure, with my chosen kitchen color scheme:

Gast Architects: Projects traditional kitchen

Slate painted wood lower cabinets, warm white upper cabinets, pale creamy yellow walls. I have already allowed myself to bring a few sample paint chips home to pick out the yellow (which will go in earlier, since I have to replace the cabinetry before I can paint it, and I may not do that immediately). This is because the current kitchen is a bit of a disaster:


Off the kitchen, and at the extreme back of the house, is the tiny laundry room. I am starting to be tempted to use this color scheme for real:

Laundry Room contemporary

Then on the other side (moving toward the front of the house) is the dining room:


You know I still love my peacock mural. But if not that...maybe this wallpaper?


And I would paint everything below the chair rail white, in that case. Or maybe...first I could put up some analgypta, and then paint it white. Too much?

Next is the living room:


I kind of like this wallpaper for it:


And as we know, I like this wallpaper for our room (1-2 walls):


And maybe very light gray paint on the other walls (like so. That is Sherwin Williams's "agreeable gray"):


And then there's the itty-bitty third bedroom, the one that has the maid's staircase:


I have an inspiration palette for it:


Including wallpaper I will never be able to afford:


But perhaps there is an affordable substitute? I'm not sure about the second bedroom yet. Maybe something to do with green.

So I've done some mental work on wall colors. I've also done a good bit of thinking about furniture and other things, which is nothing new. But lately I've also branched out. For example: window treatments. I found an absolutely gorgeous linen drapery panel in an old issue of Victoria magazine, and my search for the manufacturer on the internet was unsuccessful, but did lead me to this place. Tell me all those fabrics are not outrageously awesome. OK, and outrageously expensive. I'm not going to buy them, people. I'm going to think about them.

I may make some linen sheers (I can actually sew pretty well. This turns out to be a closely kept secret in blogland, because I'm, ah, too perpetually unproductive to ever get around to any sewing), maybe from this awesome fabric discounter. Such as maybe this fabric:


And I just discovered that Ikea sells Venetian blinds - you know, the real wooden kind, and at a good price, too:


I would be perfectly happy with some of those (I see them as completely different from vinyl mini-blinds, which I loathe), but I can't figure out in my mind which windows will want sheers, which will want curtains, and which will want blinds. Is there an easy way to sort through this quandary? Blinds upstairs and curtains downstairs? Other way around???

And now I'm also thinking about landscaping. Of course I will only plant perennials; depending on when we get the notice to move, I might harvest some of the daffodil bulbs that randomly grow in the middle of our current lawn and are under constant threat from the lawnmower (in the hypothetical universe in which we actually mow). I will plant them along the sides of the front walk. And maybe another type of bulb as well...such as freesia? And I might want some of that iron fencing across the front yard. With maybe peonies in front of it. And maybe holly bushes behind? And I think I need to plant some azaleas in front of the front porch. And eventually there will have to be lilacs in the back yard. And a cherry tree and an apple tree or two. And a bit of a vegetable garden.

This could end up taking up a lot of my time.

Monday, April 11, 2011

some days



are just like that.

Might as well be like that during Lent, right?

Monday, April 4, 2011

RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!

This is obviously a posting theme for 2011.

In January I got around to self-cleaning the oven. In March (for February and March) I threw out half the stuff in the shed; donated half my clothes to Goodwill; threw out the dud pens in the pen drawer; threw out all the extra medicine and toiletries in two cabinets, a chest, and a hamper; and re-painted the rusted refrigerator.

It's now April, and I have patched the holes in the plaster in the living room (still to do: plaster holes over the shower, which are at an angle that's much trickier to fill. But I now have all the supplies I need to do it correctly, so my victory is inevitable). I also notified my landlord about the structural oddity next to the bathtub, so that will be addressed. To do: check all the outlets in the house; pack all the stationery supplies; pack my winter clothes; tap into some local sources for boxes; put all the mini-blinds back up; and clean the candle smoke off the bathroom walls with TSP. But yesterday I accomplished something next to which all these other items pale.

About a year or two ago our toilet stopped flushing for some unknown reason. My husband tinkered with the flushing mechanism and it resumed flushing. However, we now had to hold down the handle through about 60% of the flushing time, or it wouldn't flush completely. I became accustomed to this little ritual, and I now forget about the problem until we have a party and half the guests can't figure it out. (I always mean to put a little explanation up and I always forget. But it's kind of ghetto to have an explanation next to your toilet anyway.) Now that I'm thinking about leaving our house, though, I realize that we can't hand it over to someone else without this problem fixed.

Now, I like to be a little bit handy - I can saw wood, and nail pieces of wood together, and I even pre-drill pilot holes sometimes, and I learned to use shop tools at one point, and I can patch plaster and my painting skills are OK (my spray-painting is still pretty remedial, though). But I just do not fix toilets. I was unwilling to call a plumber, though, so I had to be brave.

First I googled and learned all about what causes toilets to behave in this way (possibilities: chain too long; floater worn out). Then I peered into the tank to see whether I could find all the parts they were referring to (some, but not all). Then I went to the home improvement store to see whether an examination of the parts themselves would clear up the remaining mysteries. It did, and I brought one home. But I realized (before I ripped the package open, fortunately) that its fitting was slightly too small for our probably decades-old toilet.

So I brought it back and peered through all the flappers and found one with the same design as ours (a more variable fitting), for a whole dollar more: $5.67, I think. I brought it home. I turned off the water to the toilet (if you have to play with knobs or water lines, that constitutes Serious Toilet Repair, in my book). I removed the old flapper with no casualties. I got the new flapper to attach. I hooked up the chain from the new flapper. I then perceived - all by myself! - that the chain was too long and would interfere with a proper flush. I adjusted the chain several times to achieve the right amount of slack. I turned the water back on. And it flushed properly.

I'm not sure this brief narration conveys how serious an event this is. I have a couple of diplomas from college and law school. Apparently they thought that existing in one place for several consecutive years and showing up for class was some kind of big deal, and I should have some parchment and calligraphy in commemoration thereof. But this - this is an achievement. There should be some sort of serious recognition for an accomplishment like this. No more will I live at the mercy of dark powers, cowering in fear lest the devices on whose mysterious workings I depend should betray me.

I can fix my own toilet.

Continuing my tribute:

"You're whistling up the wrong neck of the woods."

Sunday, April 3, 2011

everything changes

I am always a lame prayer buddy (nothing has changed there - it's one of the reasons I participate so infrequently), but I am really really trying to step up in daily prayer during Lent (preparatory to keeping up better habits after Lent is over), and so my prayer buddy will (one hopes) profit from that.

Today I worked on my substantial Rosary deficit while I cooked a big batch of food for the women's spiritual reflection tomorrow night. Bracketing the issue of doing chores on Sunday (I know it's not good, but I never seem to get everything done; my time is never my own), I find it easy to meditate on the mysteries doing a mindless chore, and with my hands occupied, I become less restless. When I was in college, some friends and I picked up a habit of saying "Jesus, protect and save the unborn" at the end of each decade after the Glory Be and the "Oh, my Jesus" prayer (I had to look the title up - it's called the Fatima Prayer). I never add it when I pray the Rosary with people outside of that group of college friends (I don't mean to imply that I regularly pray group Rosaries - every once in a great while, really), but I realized that when I pray by myself, I always say it.

Back in college, we were all involved in pro-life work (I know this contravenes my no-politics-on-the-blog policy, but it seems essential to the vignette), and I was very passionately attached to that intention. I was well-versed in the facts surrounding the abortion controversy; I knew, for example, that almost a third of pregnancies in the United States end in miscarriage, and nearly another third in abortion. I very much doubt most Americans know that only about a third of babies conceived are ever born (I'm not aware that this statistic is in any way controversial; I think some googling and a calculator would get you there).

It occurred to me as I prayed a few decades today that my pressing desire for our Lord to protect the unborn no longer refers itself to the unborn children who are endangered by the fact that their mothers do not want them. Now, at the forefront of my mind are those unborn children whose mothers lay down every night to sleep afraid that the babies will no longer be alive in the morning. One more way in which I could never have imagined ten years ago that I would be here.