The Back is Still Aching

. . . as if you couldn’t tell from all the blogging I’ve been doing.  My time is spent sitting in the only chair that gives upper-back support in the house — a red wingback in the library — and engaging in activities that cause me to move my torso as little as possible.

I’m still participating in the essential childcare procedures (food, clothing, teeth brushing) but laundry?

Forget it.

Picking up toys?


Emptying the dishwasher?

Not going to happen, unless I can somehow magically levitate the machine so that the dishes are all at the same level as my waist.  Loading the dishwasher wasn’t a problem, as I could simply hold my arm down low and drop ’em in without bending over.

The biggest problem is that I have to sleep sitting up as well, which leads to weird dreams and the sensation, upon waking, of not really having slept at all.  Also, that I can’t bend down to kiss anybody, or have anybody sit in my lap for more than a minute.  That’s lousy.

Hopefully, it’ll all be better in the next two or three days.  In the meanwhile, I’ve been watching this:

It’s an animated feature called Sita Sings the Blues.  The animator, Nina Paley, uses the Indian epic Ramayana as a framework for examining her own troubled marriage.  It’s as funny as it is thoughtful (very respectful to its source material), which in some ways was a problem, seeing as it hurts for me to laugh right now.  In addition to using a variety of funky animation techniques (including three shadow puppets who act as our guides to the story) Paley has several sequences where Sita sings along to the 1920s jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw (hence the movie’s title).  Beautifully crafted and executed, I really recommend giving it a watch.  Best of all, the film is available for viewing in its entirety at this public television station’s website — for free!

Sick Day

Today I spent almost all of my time sitting still in a chair, because I have a cracked rib.


Cracked rib: great in a sandwich, terrible in your body!

It happened when Jeffrey burst into our bedroom at 6 a.m. last Saturday, began jumping on our bed, then slipped and landed with both of his knees on my chest.

Yeah, OW.

The sad news is that this is the second cracked rib I’ve had in the last twelve months.  The first one happened on the other side of my chest.  Wimmy was sitting on my lap and squirming, then suddenly arched his back and whammed his head into my ribcage.  It felt like a someone had thrown a bowling ball at me.

It hurts, a lot.  Every time I breathe in, it feels like a strip of rusty thumbtacks is being pressed into my side.  And if you shake your head and call that being overdramatic about the pain, I have a bowling ball I’d like to introduce you to.

My kids are out to get me, that’s all.

Byeroid, Thyroid

So, after long last, my thyroid is finally dying!  Hurrah!

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been suffering from hyperthyroidism (Grave’s Disease) for the past two years.  It began during William’s pregnancy, and I’ve been waiting and waiting for him to be old enough for me to get the treatment: killing of the thyroid completely.  Why?  Here’s what hyperthyroidism gives you:

  • Rapid pulse (120 at rest is my personal all-time high)
  • Heart palpitations (I thought I was having a heart attack)
  • High body temperature (kicking the blankets off at night, even in winter)
  • High metabolism (always hungry)
  • Fatigue (zzzzz)

If you go too long without being treated, your eyes begin to bug out of your head, and it can lead to blindness.  Fortunately, I saw a doctor when I was just at the rapid pulse/palpitations stage.  The standard medication for hyperthyroidism has terrible long-term side effects (painful stiff joints, high chance of osteoporosis), so it’s better to kill the thyroid off and take the medicine for hypothyroidism, the medication for which has nary a side effect at all.

Here’s the treatment: you drink a dose of radioactive iodine.  Your thyroid is the only part of the body which absorbs iodine, so it’s the only tissue that is killed off by the radiation.  The excess radioactive stuff is excreted by the body, which means . . . you can’t be around small kids for a few days. 

See why I had to wait for William to reach toddlerhood?

I fianlly underwent this treatment last Tuesday.  I had to go off my regular medication for three weeks preceeding the treatment, which meant that all my symptoms came back.  I’ve been exhausted, hungry, and hot for a whole month, which is part of the reason why I haven’t blogged, or . . . well, done much of anything for the month of November.

The treatment was odd . . . did you know that many hospitals have a Department of Nuclear Medicine?  And they use a geiger counter to figure out how much radiation might be in your knee?  (At least, they did with me.  “Here, hold your leg still.”)  When it came time to down the iodine, I was lead to a lab hood where a big insulated steel can held a tiny glass vial with a straw inside.  I was given so little iodine that the lab tech had to mix it with tap water so I’d actually have something to slurp up.

The sainted grandmas took over childcare for a few days, and I holed myself up in my parents’ house for the duration.  My parents’ house is very nice, but it’s in West Point, where the most interesting thing to do depends on what books you brought to read with you.  My choices?  Karen Hesse’s Brookyln Bridge, Eva Ibbotson’s The Dragonfly Pool, and Nancy Werlin’s Impossible.  So . . . yeah, I read a book a day for three days.  (The best of the three?  The Dragonfly Pool, although Impossible had the smokin’ hot duct tape scene.)

It’s great to be back with the kidlets.  I missed William especially — I’m used to his constant physical presence, the cuddles, the loveys. 

It will take weeks before I notice any kind of effect from the treatment; my heart still jumps around from time to time.  But it will get better.  I hope.  The biggest question from family has been: with my exposure to radiation, what will my emerging superpower be?  My answer: if I had one, why would I tell you?  Isn’t it standard behavior to keep superpowers a secret?  Besides, I’m always wearing glasses.  You wouldn’t even recognize me in my superhero gear, from which glasses are excluded.


Too Big For His Britches

I was nursing William on the couch a few days ago, and when I looked down, this is what I saw:


Hmm. Methinks our boy is growing bigger. At least, his toes are. I’m a bit sorry to retire this suit — I remember Jeffrey wearing it, and it’s rather snuggly. Even with the added bonus of easy toe access, it’s not worth keeping anymore. Sigh.

Now With Double Wrist Action!

baby-hand.jpgWilliam’s latest quirk is to rapidly flick both of his wrists whenever he’s . . . well, experiencing some kind of emotion.  He’ll hold up both hands and just flick flick flick, as if he’s conducting some invisible hyperactive orchestra.  People keep asking me if he’s learned how to wave “hello.”  Um, no. . . although it is tempting to fib and let on that he’s preternaturally brilliant.  But this is how it usually works:

William’s upset about being set down in his crib!  flick flick flick

William is in his highchair, and Mommy is bringing out the mashed bananas!  flick flick flick

William sees his favorite bead-bear toy being held a few inches in front of his face!  flick flick flick . . . and then grab

It isn’t an indication of pleasure or pain, it’s just . . . like the wrist equivalent of seeing gears turning in his head.  Like he’s experiencing so much emotion or thought at once, he has to burn off the excess via his wrists.

Blue in the Face

markers.jpgThis past Wednesday, we had friends over for dinner — a sweet couple and their two-year-old girl. The best part of having dinner friends is that we get to have real dinner conversation with real, breathing, adults who actually talk about something BESIDES Star Wars. However, in order for this clever conversing to occur, we needed something with which to distract the kids. A Secret Weapon, if you will.

Like a big ol’ box of crayons!!!!

YES! It’s only during Dinner Guest Time that the kids are allowed to get out the crayons. They don’t actually color with the crayons — that would be work — but they get to spread them out all over the (freshly cleaned) couch, lob them at each other, build little crayon forts, chew on them, stick them up their noses.

Yes, I’ll do anything for a bit of intelligent conversation. Thank goodness for whoever it was that invented the phrase “Non-Toxic.”

And so it was — the kids were merrily tossing and rolling crayons around the house like so many Mardi Gras beads, and the grownups were nibbling on Coconut Cream Cheese Flan (awesome) and discussing politics.



I know!!

How grownup is THAT?!?

Admittedly, the discussion did involve the word “Obamarama,” but it was immediately followed up with a bit about health care reform, and I figure the two cancel each other out.

However, all of this came to a crashing halt when we discovered that the kids had — somehow — managed to unearth the box of markers as well. You know how we found out?


Yes, that’s Eleanor. For some reason, when our kids are presented with markers, they always prefer to color themselves instead of paper. Usually the face, but they’ll do the tummy if there’s tummy access. (Ella was zipped into her footie pajamas at the time, so the tummy remained, thankfully, unscathed.) Eleanor frequently likes to turn herself into a 13th-century Scottish warrior. Oh, how she howled when we pried the blue marker out of her chubby little hand!


We’ve scrubbed and scrubbed her little face daily since then, but the so-called “Washable” marker stains are still showing faintly on her nose. A blue nose. Like she’s from Nova Scotia or something.

I seem to be getting fond of matching up picture books for the events in our lives, so here’s another one:


I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont, illus. David Catrow. Completely addictive rhythmic text, rainbow-bright illustrations. This book pushes the Silly-O-Meter way, way up, and is excellent for teaching pre-literacy skills. A modern must-read for the preschool set.

Gross Anatomy

lips.jpg“Mommy, does Baby William get milk from your lips?”

Eleanor was asking me this one afternoon as I held her on my hip in the kitchen.

“My lips?” was the only reply I could give.  What was she talking about?

“These, Mama,” she replied, patting my ample chest.  “Your lips.”


“And I have lips, too!” she said, raising her shirt to show me.

How — how — how did this mix-up happen?  That’s what I want to know.