Friday, March 31, 2006

Dropping

My own version of a "low cholesterol" diet is apparently working. Three weeks ago, I weighed in a 209 lbs., and as of this morning, I tipped the scales at 201 lbs.

I've turned into a label reading, being choosy when selecting items at the grocery store. I'm pickier when browsing through menus at restaurants. I try alternatives to what I used to eat and have become a fan of Boca Burgers, Terra chips, ground turkey and skim milk. I workout at the gym three times a week, use the stairs instead of the elevators at my office building, park farther away in order to get a small bit of walking into my routine. The vending machines downstairs quietly rust as I haven't had a hankering for M&Ms or Twix bars in quite some time.

My pants fit looser. My shirts hang more comfortably over my stomach. I feel as though I'm standing taller, more erect, more confident. I sleep better.

My only question: why didn't I do this months ago?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Grootmoeder

Wet, grey days make me feel like a song by The Carpenters -- lonely, sad, in need of company. With my parents camping in the desert surrounding Palm Springs, I imagined how my Grandmother felt -- cooped up in her little apartment at The Wellington, not able to move around as well as she used to -- and left work a bit early to visit with her.

Her apartment sits on the second floor, with a small deck/balcony overlooking a slightly curved cement path through hibiscus and rose bushes in the courtyard. Even on the sunniest of days, her place is cool and shaded, so on as gloomy a day as yesterday, her rooms tend to be dark and even colder. When I arrived, I rang the doorbell and heard her shout to come in. The door was unlocked, and upon entering, I noticed the darkness. A single lamp standing on an end table beside the sofa barely threw enough light to encircle one end of the sofa and her recliner. I followed her "Hello?" to the bedroom where she sat on the bed speaking to my Aunt on the phone.

"It's me, Grandma. Your Grandson, Greg."

"My Grandson?! Well, how are you?" Her speech seemed a bit slower than before, not slurred but almost as if she struggled to remember the words. She mumbled something into the phone and slowly placed the handset in its cradle. The door into the bathroom stood open allowing a red-orange glow from the ceiling light to filter into the bedroom. The orange lightly tinted her cheeks and eyes, adding to the brightness of her smile. I bent down to give her a quick hug and a peck on the cheek, then steadied her walker as she hoisted herself slowly from the bed. I followed her into the living room, steadying her recliner as she positioned her left foot along the edge of the rug -- "so I know where to aim myself to sit down" -- then slowly tumbled into the cushions. I sat on the couch, and we talked for the next hour about my job, both our medical problems, my Mom and Dad, "March Madness" and so on.

She wrung her hands and rubbed them up and down her arms while we talked, as if trying to keep herself warm but not quite succeeding. "I'm always cold," she said, though the heater noisily blew warm air into the apartment. A green fleece blanket, trimmed with thick yellow yarn, she kept folded next to her recliner in case the room became too cold. I tried to convince her that her apartment was warmer than my house, that when I jumped into bed, it was beneath an electric blanket, a comforter, another knitted blanket, and a wool cap that my cousin found in Peru. She laughed and told me I was just being silly.

She looked good for having recently stayed in the hospital. Her hair had been cut and styled, tinted with a bit of red to highlight her face. She had lost some weight, and her clothes hung somewhat looser to her frame. I noticed her legs were wrapped in Ace bandages, and she moved them occasionally as if they still hurt. "Some days are better than others. It's a good thing you didn't come yesterday. I couldn't get around too well. My arms hurt. My legs hurt. Your Aunt stayed with me the whole day until I felt better." I asked about her medicines, and she said that everything was under control. She worked out a schedule and was sticking to it. "It's a terrible thing, getting old."

Her eyes stared out the window, perhaps watching the rain drop against the green leaves before falling to the ground. The eyelids drooped a bit. I thought that I was wearing her out so I decided to be on my way. We hugged and kissed, and I felt some of the remnants of the sores as I held her hands. I asked if she needed anything before I left. "Stop by and see me again, will you?" I promised that I would and that I would get my brother down to see her, as well.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Tapping the Weekend Away

Saturday, my boyfriend and I decided to use the remainder of his Disney 2fer Ticket and visit California Adventure before the Spring Break rush. I hate to admit it, but we were a bit late for that as the park was more crowded than usual. Hundreds of families pushing strollers with sleeping or screaming children, college and high school students herding into the queue areas, wait times for attractions exceeding 60 minutes. In spite of all this, we enjoyed a wonderful day, and I was able to entertain him with my vast knowledge of useless Disney trivia, such as where to find some of the hidden Mickeys in the rides and attractions that have come and gone within the park's brief five-year history. (Scary, I know, but it helped to pass the time while waiting in line.) We rode everything that we wanted: raising our hands to feel the weightlessness of the drops during The Tower of Terror, dodging a banana cream pie during the Muppets' 3-D movie, leaning over to kiss at the zenith of the Sun Wheel. I even won a large, blue dolphin for him playing one of the boardwalk games. I think he was sufficiently worn out by the time we left at 9:30 PM.

I moved furniture Sunday morning, trashing my former TV set and entertainment center with a used, better-made, real-wood piece and new TV. My brother offered to help, but I knew that he arrived home in the wee hours of the morning from his job. So as not to disturb him, I managed the heavy furniture and appliance move by myself. (My arms are telling me never to do that again!) Later that morning, he and I discussed the impending removal of the roof to my carport because one of our neighbor's is doing some re-modeling of his backyard. (Long story about which I don't know all the details....) My brother was worried that removing the roof would leave a large hole into the space above my house so he climbed into the crawlspace to check things. To both our surprise, a small window at the far end of the space, away from my house, opened into a view inside the neighbor's roof though, fortunately, not into the house itself. All we saw were layers of insulation and a myriad of dusty spiders.

After cleaning up and carting items to the Goodwill, I drove to South Coast Plaza for a bit of shopping before meeting CS and RG at Jerry's Deli. A week earlier, we found discount tickets for the touring production of Dr. Doolittle starring (and directing and choreography by) Tommy Tune and jumped at the opportunity to catch the Broadway legend in action. Whenever we see a show at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, we eat beforehand at Jerry's to enjoy an incredibly huge meal, to soak in the Broadway atmosphere evoked by all the windowcards, photographs and other theater decorations and to catch up with one another. So tonight, we told jokes, ate wonderful food and perused the first four packets of photos from RG's voyage with his partner aboard the Queen Mary II. After oohing and aahing over the pictures, we walked from the deli to the theater and settled into our seats to enjoy the show.

A very family-friendly show, however, we wanted to smack the family sitting next to us before the show began. They arrived just before the curtain, and when the father asked his son to sit next to us, the boy said, and I quote, "I don't want to sit next to fat people." The parents did nothing to admonish him for that statement, instead allowing him to take the seat farthest from us. Rude, stupid little twit. Not even an apology from the parents. We moved to the empty row behind us but were forced to listen to him and his sister playing games on the mother's cell phone during the entire performance. And what a fine show it was. Tune's choreography was stunning, with all the fast foot work and how that young man playing Chee-Chee the Monkey could keep up with him was astonishing. Colorful sets, good action, masterful puppetry with some of the animals/characters and a light, fluffy story made for a fun evening. Seeing Tommy Tune in action was amazing as he can tap the heck out of a song. That made up for the tacky family seated in front of us.

What also helped was ordering dessert at Hamburger Mary's afterwards....

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Smiling and Joking

I want to send a big THANK YOU to everyone for your kind words and thoughts. The medical deities must have heard them because the hospital released my Grandma last night. The doctors and nurses managed to drain about 95% of the fluid from her extremities during her 3-day stint in their care. According to my Dad, she was walking around fairly well with her walker, cracking jokes, laughing and smiling. In fact, her spirits improved so much that she didn't want to return home just yet so they stopped for a bite to eat at a Coco's where she devoured a whole cheeseburger on her own.

The good news overwhelmed me so much that I missed my book group last night.

Or, it may have been because of the first fifteen minutes of Lost last night during which hottie Matthew Fox is seen in the shower and then toweling off and strolling around shirtless in the underground hatch. For quite some time. Did I mention that he wasn't wearing a shirt?

Yeah, that's got to be it.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Waiting Game

Last night, the light on my answering machine seemed to blink more frantically than usual when I returned from volunteering. I hung my jacket, set my bookbag beside the wedding-chest-cum-coffee-table, turned on the computer in my bedroom, quickstepped through the backyard and the gate to my mailbox, and then, finally, sat on the couch and pressed PLAY. I figured if the call were that important, the caller would have tried my cell phone first.

Wrong.

My Dad's voice, muffled by the static from their cordless phone, spoke from the little speaker. Grandma's in the hospital. She's in terrible pain and her legs are swollen. Call us tomorrow. He didn't sound too upset or out of sorts so I believed things weren't as bad as I could imagine. And, as I told myself before, if it had been very serious, someone would have dialed my cell phone. I erased the message, called my boyfriend, checked e-mail then shrouded myself in my covers, falling asleep.

First thing in the office, I pick up the phone and call my parents. She was out of breath. "Just finished my shower," she told me. I told her that Dad called last night with news of Grandma, and she filled in the details. On Monday, she spoke with Grandma in the morning, and she sounded in tears from the pain in both her legs. Mom drove over to find both her legs swollen as well as one arm, and the skin had broken open, causing weeping, painful sores. They sped to the hospital, where the doctor examined the swelling and the sores and admitted her around 8 PM. The diagnosis was congestive heart failure which accounted for the swelling -- fluid buildup in the extremities. The weeping sores, however, indicated diabetes. The doctor inserted a catheter to drain much of the fluid and prescribed Vicodin for the pain. "She won't be released until tomorrow, if all goes as the doctor wants."

That's where things stand at the moment. Playing the Waiting Game. Grandma's resting in the hospital. My parents are going on a much-needed trip this weekend. I offered to come down to help, but she said not to just yet. (I know it seems like such a silly thing for me to offer; I don't know what to do in this type of situation except to be there for my Grandma and my Mom. What else can I do?)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Dinner in Paradise

Well...sort of. Paradise is a restaurant in Long Beach, CA serving a predominantly gay and lesbian clientele. The small building rests on a corner, directly across from a liquor store and a few other bars. We walked through the doors Friday night and immediately squished into the almost-filled bar. Quite a mixture of gays and lesbians laughing loudly around the small tables and the bar while the man at the piano played and sang, trying to be heard over the noise. He pounded the keys to an old favorite of the cabaret circuit: Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2 by Pink Floyd. What a crowd pleaser that turned out to be, and he followed it with other classics including Space Odyssey and other 70's hits. Before I could say anything to CS, he caught the maître d' and asked about our reservation. He assured us that our table would be ready in a few minutes. In fact, he re-assured us at leat 5 more times as we waited until 8:40 for our 8:00 dinner reservation. More people crammed into the small bar area as we patiently waited.

Finally, our table cleared, the maître d' lead us to an inner corner of the dining area, next to the kitchen and with a grand view of the male asses in the bar drunkenly swaying back and forth to the music on the other side of the French doors. (RG was a bit distracted by one such ass that continually pressed against the glass throughout our meal.) Our waiter introduced himself, took out drink order and promptly returned with a bottle of champagne. Then, we didn't see him for 20 minutes so our food requests weren't even in the kitchen until after 9:30. We did a bit of people watching while we waited, spotting a local celebrity among the diners. When the food finally arrived, CS's was burnt so black and hard that the steak knife would not saw through it; they brought him a better-cooked meal within 15 minutes. The rest of us dug into our so-so meals, jumping only once when the cabaret singer switched to an Irish jig, causing a few of the asses to slam against the window and threaten to break through.

After dinner, we decided to see what was happening at the bars and walked down the street to The Brit. Dozens of men playing pool and drinking beer, but nothing too exciting. Not even the two guys in kilts attracted much attention. We stayed long enough for RG and CS to finish their drinks, then made our way back to CS's house for a few episodes of Absolutely Fabulous.

The remainder of the weekend leisurely cruised by. My boyfriend and I lunched with the family of one of his close friends on Saturday then napped away the rest of the afternoon. Sunday, back at my place, I finished laundry, read a bit more in Querelle, and finally watched All About My Mother, the DVD the my boyfriend loaned to me while I was sick with pneumonia in December. Fantastic film!! I love Almodovar!!!

AIDS Walk Update: Lots of sponsors so far. The Team reached $405 on Saturday; it's still early in the fundraising game so I'm hoping for more. Thanks to everyone who has donated so far!!

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Eating O' the Green

Ah, yes. It's time to deck ourselves in green, grab a couple of shillelaghs and drink ourselves silly with green beer! Yee haw! Or, you can be like me and have a nice quiet dinner with friends at a local gay restaurant followed by a possible stop at a gay bar. My new diet should make for an interesting evening, trying to decide what I can or should eat instead of what I really want: a big slab of prime rib au jus with horseradish and a baked potato slathered in butter. I've managed to be a very good boy the past week, though, even making my boyfriend laugh while picking apart potential menu items at Disneyland on Wednesday. (I decided on the BBQ salmon with corn cob and baked beans in lieu of the fried chicken.) Last nigh,t I even made scrambled real egg product with Smart Beat cheese and wheat sourdough toast lightly covered in a "buttery" spread. Cutting out the red meats and eating more of the green definitely seems to be working. So far, it's paid off weight-wise, with the scale reading 203 lbs. this morning -- down 2 lbs. from Saturday. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my cholesterol's on the downturn as well.

Have a Happy St. Patricks' Day!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Truancy

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I both took Personal Days from our respective jobs and spent the day at the Gayest Happiest Place on Earth. I rarely take vacation time from work -- unless I'm deathly ill, but that doesn't really count as a vacation, does it? A blue and sunny sky with just a few wisps of clouds and a slight chill made for the perfect opportunity to get away from the office and to stand in lines with dozens of screaming crying children and their cranky parents. However, with it being a Wednesday, most people were still either at work or in classes so the two of us strolled leisurely through the park, checking out the architecture, riding the rides and catching a few shows. My boyfriend bravely listened to my nonsensical ramblings about Disney history, even going so far as to say that I would make a great tour guide for the Parks. I believe there may have been just a slight hint of sarcasm in his voice.

After purchasing his ticket (a be-lated Christmas present), we headed for the Jungle Cruise and spent a good 10 minutes weaving through the building up the stairs and through the maze of a queue when a voice cut into "Moon Over Burma." Apparently, they stopped the boats and requested everyone turn around and walk out the way we entered. Of course, no one moved, thinking it was just part of the humor of the ride, but after the third announcement, people decided that they must be telling the truth. The crowd slowly moved toward the entrance and out into Adventureland. We decided not to let one broken boat stop us and headed for the Haunted Mansion. Through the queue, past the gravestones and the mausoleum, approaching the front doors when the ride operators told us to turn around because the ride had been temporarily shut down. We've been inside the gates of Disneyland for less than 30 minutes, and already two rides have broken down. Did we dare attempt a third ride? Would it breakdown as well? Only one way to find out so we strolled to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and grabbed a couple of Fast Passes because of the 45-minute wait. With an hour to kill before we could ride, he wanted to try Peter Pan's Flight. We swerved our way among the strollers and the people who simply stopped in the middle of the walkway for no reason and got in line. From then on, we observed no further problems with the rides closing while we waited.

We did have one celebrity sighting: while walking through the back streets of New Orleans Square, we bumped into former cast member of Beverly Hills 90210 Cameron Bancroft and family.

It turned into a fun, relaxing day. Neither of us felt rushed to do everything in the Park, and we spent much of the time talking, shopping, holding hands, taking pictures, bumping into each other, laughing and clandestinely smooching. I don't think either of us thought one lick about work. We need more days like that. And soon!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Escargot A-Go-Go

Last night after finishing our volunteer shift, joela, CS and I headed for a late dinner at the local Hoff's Hut. We requested our favorite waitress, and the host began to direct us toward the back of the restaurant, but our waitress intervened, three glasses of water in her hands, and directed us to a corner booth, with both windows commanding a view of Chapman Avenue somewhat obstructed by the ferns and other plants. We ordered without glancing at the menus and settled in to a good chat.

As we talked about low-cholesterol diets and reading labels, car headlights flashed across the window, and I noticed a long, zigzagging smear across the pane of glass behind joela and CS. At the end of it rested a garden snail, stuck fast to the glass. I didn't think much about it, but every time a car passed during the dinner, the trail glowed bright white and momentarily drew me away from the conversation.

Our meals arrived and talk turned to the auto industry. Joela writes for a few auto-centric blogs and brought up how Germany has been able to take the lead in Japan as the maker of luxury cars. He and CS debated the merits of Mercedes and BMW in contrast to the Lexus, while I listened, throwing in a semi-intelligent question when I thought I could. My attention soon turned to the window behind them as I caught a glimpse of a dark object slowing sliding down the glass. The poor snail had finally given up against the cold of the glass and of the wind, unwillingly letting go its grip but trying desperately to stick. I watched the slow descent until the snail lost hold completely and fell with a tiny smack against the window sill and into the shrubs.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Chillin' Over the Weekend

The "big storm" of the weekend never showed in my neck of the beach. Sure, Saddleback and the rest of the mountains are powdered with snow, and the Santa Ana River has a bit of water in it. But for the most part, it rained maybe 45 minutes the entire weekend at my house. The sky threatened more, with dark grey clouds filling the sky and Arctic winds blowing branches from the palm trees, making a trip into the great outdoors seem like a very bad idea. Instead, the boyfriend stopped by on Saturday for dinner and a few movies. We first watched March of the Penguins -- the Oscar-winning documentary about Emperor penguins at the South Pole. After a bite to eat, I popped Zathura into the DVD player. We enjoyed the action, the pacing, and special effects, but the story was basically Jumanji in Space. Same premise, different setting, and no Robin Williams. A nice bit of eye candy was provided by Dax Shepard as the Astronaut, though. It's a fun film, but I'm glad that I waited for the DVD.

Sunday, I did laundry, bought some clothes, an iron and ironing board, and set aside old clothes to donate to the Goodwill. I spent much of the time curled up beneath a blanket on the couch with the space heater blasting warm air around my tiny home and finally finished On the Road by Jack Kerouac.

I know -- one of the quieter weekends for the two of us, but hey, we need to have some "stay at home" time every once-in-a-while.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Reading Labels

My first trip to the grocery store while trying to adhere to the advice of my doctor and the low cholesterol book I purchased lasted over an hour. An hour!! I spent much of that time comparing the labels, re-shelving items with too much cholesterol, checking levels of sodium, wondering if the dark, yellow-orange cheese recommended by the American Heart Association would taste like cardboard or not. I am determined to lower my cholesterol and LDL levels, and believe that I made good shopping decisions. Among the items purchased: Terra Exotic Vegetable Chips, Quakes Rice Snacks (Apple Cinnamon flavor), The Amazing Egg® real egg product, Smart Beat cheese, Promise "buttery" spread, a California sourdough wheat boule, and various other low-fat products.

For lunch, I made a sandwich with two slices of the sourdough bread (0mg cholesterol), two slices of oven roasted turkey breast (20mg cholesterol), 1 slice of the Smart Beat cheese (0mg cholesterol), and served 14 Terra chips (0mg cholesterol) as the accompaniment. The 14 chips counts as one serving, according to the bag. For dessert, I ate 8 of the rice snacks (0mg cholesterol) and two lemon chiffon cookies (10mg cholesterol). A bottle of Glacéau lemonade (0mg cholesterol) served as the drink. Very little fat count and only about 415 calories, all told. We'll just have to see what happens with dinner.

My weight this morning registered at 205 lbs. which doesn't seem too bad. The last time I stepped on the scale two weeks ago, I weighed 209 lbs. My target is between 185 - 190 so keep your fingers crossed!

Friday, March 10, 2006

My Heart Will Go On

The appointment with my doctor went much better than I anticipated. He first dealt with this cold I've been suffering for the past few days by prescribing a Z-Max Pack -- take two pills the first day then one pill a day for the next four days. Then came the discussion about my cholesterol. The main level was 240 when it should be at 200; the LDL, or bad cholesterol, was at 164 instead of 160. The other two amounts remained at their target levels. Taking this into account, along with other risk factors including my age, family history, not smoking and good blood pressure, the doctor did not think it was necessary yet to start cholesterol medication. We discussed changing my diet, cutting the red meats, drinking non-fat or 1% milk, lowering the amount of ice cream and other dairy products, losing weight and so on -- all things that can naturally lower cholesterol levels. He did prescribe 1mg tablets of folic acid to lower the homocysteine levels which should help counter plaque buildup in the arteries. It won't do away with it completely, but should lessen the amount or stabilize what's in my system.

I stopped by Barnes & Noble after the visit and bought a copy of The Everything Low Cholesterol Book: Reduce Your Risks And Ensure A Longer, Healthier Life by Shirley Archer to kickstart my new diet program. In about six months, we'll see what happens. In the meantime, I'm going to use part of this blog to keep track of my weight and other items related to lowering my cholesterol. I think that doing so will keep me on track.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I'm Walkin', Yes Indeed*

It's almost that time of the year! I'm walking again in this year's AIDS Walk Orange County. This time, though, I started my own team through my company and am hoping to not only gather sponsors but additional walkers, as well. A sponsorship link already appears on the left side of the blog, and I will periodically mention the walk as the weeks go by, up until the first Sunday in June of 2006. Good thing I'm going to the doctor tomorrow to get this whole heart thing sorted out; I need to be ready!!




* Lyrics to Fats Domino's I'm Walkin' found on E-Lyrics 4U

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Higher Level

The red light on my answering machine blinked at me as I walked in the door about an hour ago. A message from the doctor's office, wanting me to dial a special number for the results of my blood test. I called and listened to the nurse's voice tell me that my cholesterol level was high, as was the level of homocysteine. A high level of homocysteine can lead to atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. I figured the cholestrol would be high, what with the types of foods that I love to eat. But, the other -- which I'd never heard of until Googling it -- that scared me. Calling my folks helped calm my nerves a bit.

The next step: to schedule an appointment to go over the results with my doctor and to formulate a plan of action.

What Book Am I?

orlando
Virginia Woolf: Orlando.

You are a challenge, for outer events, the outside world, the time etc. play no importance to you. Your focus is in writing, in gender issues, and inside your own head. Self-analysis and exploration of yourself as well as the outer world hold great importance to you.

Which literature classic are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, March 06, 2006

The Sounds of Silents

What a way to end a great weekend. I returned home from my boyfriend's with a sore throat, stuffy nose and ears, and a mile cough. Luckily, a fever never showed so I was able to get some work done today at the office, leaving around noon and spending the rest of the day resting.

As for the "days before the illness," he surprised me on Valentine's Day with two tickets to see three short, silent films at UCLA with live organ accompaniment so we hopped in his car Saturday morning and sped North on the 405 to the UCLA Campus. 45 minutes later, we exited at Sunset Blvd. and wound our way through Bel Air to Royce Hall. This grand building was one of the first constructed on the campus, dating back to 1929, and resembled a gothic cathedral. At least, that was my impression as we walked toward it from the parking structure. The interior was even more amazing, with a carved ceiling of squares inset with hanging burnished brass flowers suspended in a light blue sky. The hardwood floor stretched all the way down the aisles to the stage and across each row, doing very little to muffle the clicking of heels and canes as people found their seats. Looking around the Hall, we did manage a celebrity sighting, Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons

The films being screened included Cops starring Buster Keaton, The Rink starring Charlie Chaplin and Bumping into Broadway starring Harold Lloyd. We sat back, marveling at the fancy footwork of the organist as he timed the music perfectly to the films. We laughed at all the right places, watched in awe all the stunts with moving cars and roller skates and Buster Keaton balancing on a ladder pivoting on a flimsy wooden fence. What I enjoyed most, though, was hearing the kids laughing at slapstick that was almost 100 years old. Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd knew how to make movies, and the fact that their sense of humor can still make audiences laugh today -- especially those people who have probably never heard of Chaplin, Keaton or Lloyd -- was amazing.

Afterwards, we drove down to West Hollywood and bought a few books at A Different Light, then made our way back to Long Beach for an early dinner at The Yardhouse. Just for the record, their (mac + cheese)2 tasted divine -- roasted chicken breast, smoked applewood bacon, wild mushrooms, cheddar and Parmesan cheeses and pasta. We leisurely finished dinner, then strolled amongst the shops of Shoreline Village. At the building with the merry-go-round, he won me a pair of googly-eyed glasses that he dared me to put on. Which I did and proceeded to make him laugh until we stopped for ice cream at the Coldstone Creamery.

Sunday, we ate breakfast at The Shore House and wandered around Belmont Shores before heading back to his place to watch the Oscars. Which, if I may be so bold, was a boring and predictable show. I liked John Stewart, but the audience seemed to be on Prozac or something. Was it just me, or did almost no one seem thrilled -- over than Three 6 Mafia -- to win the award? And, what was with all those self-congratulatory montages about how films have tackled important issues or about creating the "film noir?" (Though I have to give Stewart credit for his "gay cowboy" montage.) Don't forget the music playing as the winners began their acceptance speeches. Huh? No wonder ratings were down 10% from last year.

Anyway, that was my weekend that was. I still have no idea where my cold came from and am about ready to crawl into bed. Good night, Gracie!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Thursday, Bloody Thursday

I arrived at the phlebotomist's office at 8 AM and managed to finish 40 pages of The Year of Magical Thinking before she arrived at 8:40 AM. Within 10 minutes, she'd photocopied my insurance card, jabbed the crook of my right arm with a needle, filled two test tubes and sent me on my Mary way.

I used to dread needles when I was younger. Flu shot? I always remembered the stab, the burning and the painful swelling after the fact. Travel to a foreign country? My eyes welled with tears as the nurse swabbed my butt cheek then skewered it. Root canal? Oh, Hell no! My dental nerves are so sensitive that the dentist has had to re-numb the area three times during the middle of the procedure. Today's blood drawing was nothing. I chatted with the phlebotomist and watched the slim metal cylinder puncture the skin with a quick pinch like pulling a hair from my goatee.

Now, I sit and wait. I think that's the more painful part.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Oh, the pain.... The pain of it all.

The main goal of my doctor appointment yesterday was a follow up to check on the lesion near the crook of my right eye. The doctor used liquid nitrogen around the end of December last year to hopefully get rid of the little, red, scaly thing on my face, and it seemed to do some good. However, the redness and the scaliness never did go away entirely so in his office yesterday, he proceeded to re-freeze the lesion. I closed my right eye and soon felt a blast of cold. I find it amazing how something so cold can feel as though it were white hot and burning the flesh from my face. And afterwards, the pain actually traveled farther into my face, making my sinuses ache. (Today, the area is swollen and tender to the touch.)

One thing that I've begun to learn about doctors is that they don't ask if anything else is bothering you. It's not like dining at a restaurant where the waiter asks if you would like dessert or some coffee before bringing the check. I doubt that a lack of bedside manner is the case; perhaps they need to get through as many patients as possible and don't think to ask because it cuts down on the amount of time per patient. Whatever the reason, I took it upon myself to mention, while he completed my paperwork, that I'd been experiencing some odd chest pains starting at my throat and traveling across my shoulders and somewhat down my pecs into the armpits. The pain appeared suddenly, lasted a few moments then disappeared quietly, and I'd experienced a few episodes ever since the pneumonia incident in December. The doctor turned to me, asked some questions about a family history of heart disease. I told him that my Dad had survived four heart attacks since his mid-40s. I don't smoke. I exercise regularly. While the pains didn't sound as though they might be related to heart problems (more likely due to my asthma), he wanted to rule out the possibility so he ran an EKG. Luckily, it proved normal, but he still ordered a cardiac blood screen to check cholesterol levels and to firmly rule out coronary artery disease.

So tonight, I fast for 12 hours then stop by the testing lab on the way to work in the morning.

I hate getting older.