Monday, November 24, 2008

Dollars and sense

Emily's been a sleeping champion these last few days, and that's great because she needs to get her immunity up since her mother has something dreadfully wrong with her throat. It feels awful, looks red and white and nasty, and I probably should go to the doctor but I have to take Mingus to the vet today for his follow-up appointment which I already had to reschedule once. BOY do I love that dog. I tried to give him away as a door prize to the first guests to arrive at our Kung Fu Panda viewing on Saturday evening, but no dice. But we had a great time breaking in Will's theater room, and Emily LOVED Kung Fu Panda so much that she stayed up until 10:30 with not so much as a whiney moment, then went right to sleep without a complaint. She then slept until 9:30 the next morning, took a 3 hour nap yesterday, and is still asleep this morning at 8:30! If I felt all that well I could really be getting some stuff done around the house with my extra Emily-free time but I don't, so I'm pursuing less physical activities, like figuring out how much my foreign currency that the coinstar machine spit out yesterday is worth. I have 81 Icelandic Kronur ($0.58), 83 Peruvian Centimos ($0.26), and $1.63 in Euros ($2.08), score!

The really cool thing is that the US currency I collected up and dumped through the Coinstar machine turned out to be $73.18, which I am turning into an $83.18 Amazon gift certificate with their $10 holiday bonus deal. That'll cover a couple family members' Christmas gifts using money we didn't even really know we had! I also hit up CVS last night for 3 American Express gift cards so I could get my $10 extra bucks and $15 gas card, and I also plan to transfer our family's 5 collective prescriptions to CVS and get a $25 gift card each time. And on Friday morning, when everyone else is headed to the malls, I will be headed to CVS with my coupons to earn some money! Have I mentioned that I am love with CVS these days?

I always used to feel guilty that I wasn't more frugal, but it's exciting that now I am doing it and actually enjoying it! If you have the time, it's really satisfying. Take that crappy economy!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bloody Debacle

I'm always perplexed when I run into an adult who claims that they have never really had blood taken before. Blood and its study/donation/taking/mismatch has figured largely in my life. When I was in 5th grade, our teacher assigned a research paper/presentation on a subject of our choosing, as long as it had something to do with the Civil War. I, being a budding scientist and supremely bored with the study of history and specifically the study of the history of wars (what can I say, I think it's subconscious rebellion against my history-teacher mother and Civil War-obsessed extended family) decided to do my paper on blood. My teacher, God bless her, decided to allow it after hearing my argument that quite a bit of blood was lost during the Civil War and that my paper would end with a tidy closing paragraph mentioning that Antietam was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history. So while my (chump) classmates wrote papers and did presentations on Gettysburg and Robert E. Lee, I delved into encyclopedia articles about platelets and Rhesus factors.

At the age of 12, I was diagnosed with Hashimodo's thyroiditis and Grave's disease, and thus began my intimate relationship with my own blood. Since then I have had varying amounts of blood taken sometimes as often as every 2 weeks, never less often than every 6 months. At first I never had problems having blood taken, it was a very normal occurance for me. I was good at it too, the only times anyone has ever had a problem getting blood from me were after volleyball practice in high school (when I was dehydrated and had spent the last 2 hours beating the blood out of my arms) and while I was being smashed in the stomach and the back simultaneously with sledgehammers in labor with Emily, so I didn't really even notice or care that it took them 5 tries that time. "I don't understand, this has never happened to me before!" exclaimed the 3rd nurse to give it a shot.

I started to realize I was more like my dad (who did many things involving blood to monkeys in his career as a biologist but passes out at the mere sight of a drop of his own blood) in college. Finding myself in desperate need of extra cash and having previously tried various part-time jobs to the detriment of my GPA, I signed up to be a test subject for an experimental vaccine for Dengue Fever. I know, I know, I've been told by everyone I know how stupid I was, but hey, I got $750 and immunity to Dengue Fever (along with the 104 degree fever, blinding headache and painful rash all over my body for days) so there! As part of the study, they took 14 tubes of blood, and they unfortunately didn't use a butterfly needle. That means that every time they changed tubes, the needle wiggled in and out of my arm a little bit, which totally squinked me out. I told the nurse I felt like I was going to pass out, and as if she had been eagerly waiting for just such an occurance, she immediately whipped out the smelling salts which changed my status from "about to pass out" to "about to barf".

After college, I started donating blood because as an O+ donor I felt it was my duty to help. My blood is only half as awesome as O- donors, but still pretty awesome, and I figured that my extensive experience with blood-giving made me a good candidate. My husband's work runs quarterly blood drives, so it was convenient for me as well. All went just fine until my third donation, after which I stood up, walked over to the recovery table, got into a converstaion with an aquaintance (who was waiting to donate for the first time), then passed out cold. I can remember thinking to myself "Do NOT pass out, you'll scare the crap out of her and it would be incredibly rude to pass out in the middle of a conversation", but my postive self-talk was all for naught. The twinkling stars in my peripheral vision could not be held back, and as they led the blackness in towards the center, I keeled right over. I awoke to people slapping me and shouting my name. I saw my friend Matt running over and I weakly asked him "Did I throw up?" Apparently I was very concerned with the etiquette of fainting. As the phlebotomists laid me down on a cot behind a divider and assigned Matt to watch over me, my first-time donor aquaintance mumbled "I think I need another bag of cookies" and went running for the snack table.

Despite my peformance, I donated again, at which point I had the privledge of watching another person pass out. I was totally embarassed, because BOY did she look awful and I was sincerely hoping I hadn't looked like that when I had passed out.

Then I took a trip to Darkest Peru and was banned from donating blood for a year, during which time I got pregnant and that's a whole other kettle of fish. Doctors love taking pregnant women's blood, they must think since you have such an increase in blood volume you can spare it, but listen buddy, I made that myself for my baby so control yourself. After Emily was born, I learned that even though Will and I are both Rh+, the fact that I have type O blood means any babies I have who do not are at risk for severe jaundice because having Will's type B blood (as Emily does) makes them "Coombs positive". I never knew about this beforehand, but daily pediatrician visits complete with heel sticks, weigh-ins that made me cry as I watched my baby get skinnier and yellower, and the eerie blue glow of bili lights taught me quick.

I am ashamed to say that I have become more fearful of giving blood these days, and had not gone back since having Emily. When I got a call on Wednesday informing me of a blood drive that would be happening right where I would be running errands while Emily was at Grammy's house, I couldn't very well come up with any more excuses. I figured I am now sporting about 15 more pounds than I was last time I passed out (my maternal fat stores, which I selflessly carry in case Emily needs them in the future) so I was bolstered by that thought.

So yesterday I walked into a church to resume my blood donation career. And once again, it was memorable.

After being asked my gender (um, wow, do I really look so androgenous that you can't tell?) and deemed fit to donate, I was handed a big pile of plastic bags into which my blood would shortly be pouring. This was a bit odd to me, shouldn't such things remain in a sterile environment supervised by trained medical personnel until being used? I could have taken the caps off the needles and dragged them across the floor, inadvertantly punctured my bag, detatched a tube or done any number of things to compromise them. I just found this a bit strange.

Then I was escorted to my seat, and the phlebotomist had a very bustle-y, "I have way too much going on" attitude about her, but she still had time to yak for quite awhile with each patient when the topic interested her. I can't complain too much, she hit the vein on the first try, and I have no bruising today or freaky clicking in my inner elbow when I bend my arm like I have had before. She plugged me in, then went over to start on the next guy, who had to go coach a little girls basketball team in half an hour. As she was swabbing him with iodine she looked over at my bag and her eyes got big. She said "You can stop squeezing now, your bag is full!". She yelled for someone to come over and unplug me since she had just disinfected the other guy, but all she got were bovine stares so she scurried over to do it herself. She was telling me how she hadn't expected me to fill the bag in under 4 minutes when I heard her say "Uh oh". I was already feeling a little woozy from the needle removing process, but stupid me, I looked down anyway and was treated to the sight of my blood all over the floor. Luckily it was she and not me who had dropped it there, and even more luckily it was just the blood from the tube that they don't really use anyway and not from the bag that had spilled, but I didn't know all of that at the time. I tried coughing, which I knew from past experiences was supposed to push more blood to your head, but to no avail. She was desperately trying to juggle my bag of blood and cover the gore with paper towels at the same time as the other donors' eyes got bigger and bigger, and that was when my dizziness and nausea were joined by my friends, the twinkling stars and I sighed "I think I'm going to pass out".

Poor lady. Poor other donors who had to watch 3 people rush to my side as my blood splattered the floor. And poor guy I made even later to his girls basketball practice with all my drama.

An ice chip in the eye, a rest in a reclined position and a forced ingestion of a coke and I was feeling just fine again. So fine that they allowed me to eat my apple chips instead of cookies (donating blood is terrible for a diet, but I guess you temporarily lose over a pound in the process so that makes me feel a bit better about it) and I was able to leave a bit later. Apparently I bleed too fast, and my body doesn't take kindly to losing a pint of blood in less than 4 minutes. At least now I know.

So I will continue to donate blood because as bad as it briefly makes me feel, I know I am helping someone who is feeling even worse. I encourage everyone else to donate blood too, but learn from my mistakes and try not to bleed to fast when you do it :-)


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chicken and home decor

As anyone who's read my blog for any amount of time knows, it's important to me to feel like I have my life "under control". My standards for "under control" are pretty high, and I can probably count on one hand the number of days I've ever actually felt this way. But it keeps me striving for that goal.

This blog has really inspired me to take control recently. The woman who writes it is the mother of 3 young kids, and she still manages to cook food ahead of time and use coupons! She has made it easy to play the CVS game (where you get all sorts of stuff for free, or even earn money by buying particular products when certain deals are running and you have a coupon). And I spent most of yesterday cooking up 15 pounds of chicken into 2 weeks worth of dinners that are now hanging out in my freezer, waiting to make my life easier on busy nights. And don't worry, I don't plan to serve chicken for 2 weeks in a row.

So yeah, not much else to report except that the old house is officially devoid of stuff we want. Everything we plan to keep is over here now, and we just have to unpack it. Plus pack up the stuff from the old house we want to donate, rent a rolloff and chuck whatever's left and then clean it up, but still, we've completed the most arduous part!

We also have a new window in Emily's room, the cabinets for our kitchen desk area are sitting in the garage, and my couch FINALLY arrived!

The living room still looks a bit sparse though, so I'm thinking I need a lamp or a fake tree or something in the corner. I have also been eyeing this painting for the wall above the couch. It isn't really my style, but it really catches my eye for some reason, plus it's the perfect colors and I really like the idea of having 9 little paintings grouped on the wall vs. the typical one big one. The only problem is that it's really freakin' expensive (not for art in general, but in terms of how much I'm willing to spend on a picture for above the sofa). I found it as a poster on Amazon, so I'm thinking I might buy the poster for $35, cut the individual squares out, then stick them onto canvases (if I can find the right size). I know it's cheating, but it would be getting the same effect for about 90% less money so I might have to just overcome my moral issues with it. On the other side of the living room (behind where I stood to take the picture) I have a console table and I want to put together a little family tree of pictures on the wall above it. I won't draw connecting lines or anything, but I'd like to just kind of group them like a family tree. I have pictures of Will's and my parents on their respective wedding days, and all of our grandparents too so I have a good start. If I go back much further I might have some difficulty finding pictures (if there even are any) but it'll be a fun project and I think our kids will enjoy looking at it.

So that's what I'm focusing on now. There's plenty of other stuff I still need to do, but I haven't really posted any pictures yet and now that the living room looks presentable I wanted to get at least one up!


Monday, November 3, 2008

My house is totally classy

I have my very own bathroom attendant.  She accompanies me into the bathroom every time, without fail.  She pulls the toilet paper off the roll and hands it to me.  When I am finished she closes the lid of the toilet, then flushes.  Then she escorts me out and closes the door to the bathroom, and all she requires is a bit of applause when she completes her tasks.

Oh yeah, I also pay for her room and board and devote every waking moment to her upbringing.  But at least I'm starting to get some service out of the deal!