Monday, December 19, 2011

It's What Venus Has

It's an exaggeration to say no one has heard of Sjogren's Syndrome, but not much of one. I usually say it's like lupus, but not as bad. I'm a lawyer - I won't even pretend that's a medically accurate statement. It's what Venus Williams has. Judging by the reader comments left at when she had to pull out of the U.S. Open, many people think she has AIDS. Associating the word "immune" to more than one disease is a challenge for some, I guess, so I tend to stick with my lupus analogy.

Lupus and Sjogren's patients have a few things in common. For one, our bodies can hurt our babies. Well, some of us. We have to have the right antibodies floating around inside, and even then it's an uncommon thing for those buggers to do any harm (two percent). At forty, with three kids under my belt, I assumed I was done, and didn't worry about it. All three are healthy, beloved, and more than enough to keep me busy for a few decades.

Enter July. Mix a near amputation with a crossbow (left thumb), vicodin (me), and most of a bottle of Riesling (my husband), and you have baby number four. When I was pregnant with my son, I was just considered old (or advanced maternal age, which sounds worse, if you ask me). With baby number four, I was old and had what Venus has. So I was given a choice. I could take a steroid, one a good bit stronger than prednisone, in the hopes of preventing my body from hurting my baby. Specifically, her heart. Of course, the steroids could damage other parts of her, so I could also do nothing but hope for the best.

For a week, I weighed phrases like adrenal insufficiency and intrauterine growth restriction against two percent. A damn small number. I decided ninety-eight percent of everything being just fine and dandy sounded pretty good. So I tucked the bottle of pills into a drawer and forgot about them.

Flash forward seven weeks and I'm sitting in L&D at a hospital across the river from my home, listening to a heart beat that sounds like a train running next to the tracks instead of on them. I hate myself. 'Cause insufficient suddenly sounds a whole lot better than defective. I'm educated on atrial and ventricular rates, effusion, and tricuspid regurgitation. My husband is driving our children in a minivan somewhere between the elementary school and our house. Calling him seems like a really bad idea, so I text my sister instead.

At some point, I'm left alone with a dose of the same steroid I'd refused before and my clothes. I swallow the Dex with some water, piling growth restriction on top of AV disassociation. Right on cue,the morse code starts. The message could be anything from "SOS," or "suck it up, Buttercup," or "hey, I'm still here, you know." I don't read tea leaves, or astrological charts, or slips of paper from not-found-in-nature-orange fortune cookies. I'm not about to interpret the uncoordinated movements of an unborn baby. So I just poke her back and tell her I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The first story I ever wrote

I was ten or so when I wrote my first "book." It was written on that beige three lined paper meant to help me separate my upper case letters from my lower case. I tried to find it today. For reasons unknown, I've kept every paper I wrote when I was a Sociology major and an original copy of Madonna's Sex. But my first book has been lost to the ages. The last time I saw it, I was going through my dad's things after he died. My dad was sentimental and a bit of a hoarder. He kept everything, from his notebooks as an architecture student, to cancelled checks dating back to the Nixon administration.

But back to my book. The plot went something like this:

A young girl finds a stray dog in an abandoned car. Her parents, having no souls, won't let her keep the dog, so it stays in the junker. The evil parents discover she's been taking regular trips to the car to feed the dog and forbid her from doing it any more. In despair, the child runs away from home, sleeps in the car with the dog, and promptly drops over from pneumonia. There is some dramatic rescue where the dog finds the parents and bring them to the girl. She, of course, recovers, and the dog is allowed to live with them.

There are obvious plot holes (if the parents know what she's been up to, I suspect the car would have been their first stop). And the story bears a striking similarity to the plot of Dog! by Prudence Andrews.

My boyfriend at the time read the story and laughed. Then he said, "You know what would be great? If the dog was dead the whole time."

Freaking brilliant.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Stupid thieves are stupid

I got a phone call from my credit card company on Sunday. Some charge triggered a fraud alert and they called to verify the purchase. $99 to Blizzard for World of Warcraft.

Now I am the first person to admit that my geek genes run deep. The first non-picture book I read as a kid (at age six or seven) was a Star Trek novelization. I've been known to roll a twenty-sided die in my time on this earth. And when I was a tween, I dreamed of bonding with a fire lizard. But I am not a WOWer. Not my charge. Chase closes the account and I'm told I'll get a breakdown of recent charges so I can tell them which ones are bogus.

Two days later a package shows up at my front door. Coffee that I didn't order. I figure I'll deal with it the next day. I forget. Another package is waiting for me when I get home from work. More coffee! Turns out the person who got my CC number is an idiot and didn't realize he needed to change the shipping address. One quick phone call and I have his phone number, email address, and home address.

Coffee and WOW. I eagerly await the shipments of Funyuns and Mountain Dew.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kids and Rats

Four years ago, my older daughter (we'll call her Heckle), wanted a dog. At the time, I had two kids under the age of five and was pregnant with a third. I didn't want a dog. We got a rat instead.

Rats make great pets. They are smart, they are quiet, and they are brave. That last trait is particularly important for any creature sharing house space with small children. That first rat was a hairless dumbo named Bongie (named by Heckle from a song she heard on Dora, not the habits of my college theatre professors). She was sweet, if ugly. She lived about two years. It took Jeckle, our middle child, a year or so to notice that the cage was empty.

Two years later, we bought two baby rats (female). Because there are no social taboos in rat society (or at least in the pet store aquarium where they are raised with their siblings),the original two were followed in a few short weeks by ten more. They looked just like marzipan pigs. Actually, there were fourteen, but three were stillborn and a fourth went missing. I try not to think too hard about that one. We found homes for most of them, but still have the original females and two males, who were separated the instant I knew which was which.

The males are the friendliest. Maybe it's because they've been handled since they were about an hour old. They fight with each other nearly as much as my human kids do.As I type this, I have a black and white rat hanging out on my forearm. It's pretty cool.

Buy a rat. You'll be happy if you do. Just make sure you buy males.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I hate answering the phone...

I'm not a fan of the telephone. I'm not sure why. I can talk up a storm in person. But chatting on the phone? Hate it. If the phone rings at work and I don't recognize the number, the chances are good I haven't a clue who's on the other line. There's also a high probability that the person has been routed and rerouted a dozen times before landing at my telephonic doorstep and is angry. This morning, I threw caution to the wind and picked up the phone.

Him: Hello, I need to know the statute of limitations for a civil action in Pennsylvania. Is it two years or three?

Me: Well, it depends, but I can't answer that question because I'm not permitted to provide you legal advice.

Him: It's not legal advice. It's an administrative question.

Me: Yes, it does constitute legal advice.

Him: You're fucking stupid.

Good luck getting the answer to that "administrative question," buddy.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I had no idea

Since when does one not put two spaces between end punctuation and the start of a new sentence? I had no clue. So I've spent the last few glorious evenings deleting the extra space. Nine chapters to go. Fun times!

For the record, it still looks weird to me. And I will bet right now if I start deleting the extra space in the next contract I draft, I'll get called on it.