Monthly Archives: February 2010

Yet a Little More Detail

Yesterday, when talking to the doctor about proceeding with an MRI, he mentioned that perhaps we were going to find degenerative disc disease. This option is obviously better than the C word, but it still sounds pretty scary.

I’ve done just a touch of research and DDD sounds like an extremely good candidate for what I have going on, according to the symptoms and description of pain. The other good news is that – if this is the case – DDD is nothing near so terrible as it sounds. Two out of three words in the title are misleading. The condition is neither degenerative (in the continual sense) nor a disease. (So what braniac gave it that stupid name anyhow?) Most simply put, it just means that you’ve got damage in a disc and it has not been caused by any particular trauma. A slight twist may have done it, or it may have been accumulative stress on the disc. Largely, it’s considered a perfectly “natural” situation to arise with aging (Wanh!), hence the word degenerative. (Interestingly, it is much more common in 30-40 year olds than the over 60. See link below for details.) It does not indicate a condition that will continually worsen. Better, the pain has more to do with nerve location and the disc’s inability to repair itself than with degree of damage. With DDD, very slight damage can = very big pain.

If DDD is the case, it is also treatable.  Of course, this is still conjecture until the MRI gets done, so I won’t get crazy with details. We may get luckier yet and have it be something even more repairable, but if you’re interested in DDD info for your own reasons, this article gives a great layman’s overview.

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Good Bones

For my sweet friends and family who are more nervous than I realized (sorry for scaring you, dad!), I’ll get straight to it. I got the bone scan today, a very thorough one, and it came back clean.

I saw Dr. W afterwards and he also seemed relieved. Next step: MRI. Yes, I know – it would’ve been great to skip all the radiation and go straight to the MRI, but that’s just not how it works. Still, the doc said that it’s rare breast cancer wouldn’t show up on a bone scan. That aside, we want to know what’s going on. An MRI will just clean up that slight possibility of sneaky cancer cells and – much more likely – reveal whether I perhaps have a disc issue. In which case he can refer me on to an orthopedist. Or whatever doctor matches what they find.

Right now my MRI is Friday night. (Of course they couldn’t fit me in until the moment that blows through all my upcoming days off and goes straight into my next set of days on call, meaning I’ll have to stay out sick. Garh! Believe it or not, I’m really eager to work! Nevermind whether or not it’s a good idea for the back…) But I’ve left a message with the doctor to see if his office can pull some strings and get me in earlier. Any earlier. Even Friday morning would work fine. So, here’s hoping on that one…

Thanks for worrying about me, guys! Sorry if I made you nervous. All is well in Sarahland. Well, all things considered!

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Epic Scheduling Fail

For you sweethearts holding your breath for me here, an update.

Got to the hospital fine and dandy today. Signed in, braved the labyrinth of halls to find the directed place, signed in, waited 30 minutes, got to the room with the nice technician. She told me to remove my clothes and put on the robe. I thought she was jumping the gun a bit. She might not have to buy me dinner, but she is supposed to inject some dye into my arm – which takes 2-3 hours to get where it’s needed. Undressing just then meant a lot of skin time.

This is how we realized that I was in the room for a bone density test, not a bone scan. Ten minutes of confusion later, the lady in the nuclear something-or-other department explains that I was scheduled for the wrong test by my doc’s guru. And they have no room for me at the inn today. Boo. (And let it not go without saying that any medical test taking place in a department with the label “nuclear” attached is beyond creepy, no?)

So…I had the x-rays (clear), but the other test will be Monday morning; I’ll see the doc that afternoon. At least I have a dear friend in the neighborhood of the hospital who is free to waste some time with me that afternoon. Meanwhile, the doc has given me Vicodin. Wow – I didn’t even get that when I had my reconstructive surgery! I doubt I’ll take it, but in some strange way I feel kinda badass for having “permission” to take what makes even Dr. House so functional. I guess if it’s good enough for the most brilliant fictional man in medicine, it’s good enough for me.

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Ghost of Cancer Past

I’m finally back from Britain – husbandless!

Let me back up. I told you we’re moving to the UK, right? Yes, you are correct – we “just” moved to DC. But anyway, long story aside…here we go. And hopefully this will be a move that sticks for a decent number of years.

So off to the UK Del and I went for 2 weeks to see his fam and let him stir the network pot, see what he can dig up career-wise for a few months down the road. While he did that in Birmingham and London, a snapshot of my weeks: rain and a cloud so big that it covers the entire country (I can only imagine the ancient Celts thought it was a sky god); carrying a hot water bottle with me everywhere; hanging with friends Adam, Dan and Anna in London; spending 5 gorgeous hours in the British Museum (Yowza, I love that place!); watching a movie about Nazi snow zombies (Del had the gall to be “disappointed” in the film); a little shopping; a lot of resting; my first visit to an osteopath.

Then, the day before we leave, Del gets a call from a political guy who needs a guy, yada yada yada and Boom! – my honey has a job. Can you believe he pulled that off? (His job in DC was very gracious about his, “Um, I’m not coming back” email, to their great credit.) So I headed home without him. It’s all very fast and he seems to feel guilty about staying behind, but I’m thrilled for him. My main ambivalence about moving is the uncertainty about it all, so if he’s set with a How, When and Where when I get there – awesome. It leaves s bit of limbo for a few months until after the UK election when he can come home and do the move properly, but no sweat.

Where do the Cancer Ghosts come in? Well, see the osteopath visit mentioned above? That’s due to a 6 week old mystery back pain. It came out of nowhere and just got worse from there. After a  visit to my doc and 2 to the osteo, it was recommended I get it checked out. No one is saying it’s cancer, but the fact is I will always have to be wary of mystery pains.

My gut has said all along that it is not related to the Bad Thing, but try hanging onto that confidence once the doctors send you for MRIs and bone scans. It’s not quite so easy. I know it’s not the first time I’ve been through this, and generally I feel fine. I do, however, feel the burden of never being able to just blow these random things off like most 33 year olds, with a groan about ageing and nothing more.  It’s just a reminder that those ghosts will never completely go away.

I’m being squeezed in for tests tomorrow – I’ll let you know what they say.

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Unintentional Tease

Ok, so I admittedly teased you a bit. But just playfully. Not with anything particularly juicy. And I certainly didn’t mean to leave you on a hanging note for a week! Quite simply, we went to London for 5 days, where my computer refused to connect online.

So here we are. And obviously I made it to England, but it wasn’t without drama. You see, a very very nice agent had placed Del and I on the special check-in list for our flight. And he told me to find him later if I needed help. “Just ask for John.” So when we were being told we would be forced on the flight, I thought of John.

Leave it to airlines – not an agent could be found. The terminal was dead. After several minutes searching up and down the empty gates I spotted an agent, who gave me the brush off as only an agent can. I asked for John, she didn’t even pause to think nor look at me as she claimed she didn’t know him. I explained that I was an employee; I wasn’t hunting down some agent for a gripe. He’d said to ask for him. She was completely ignoring me, and if one thing puts me into a rage it’s people who are rude to you when they haven’t even listened to a word you’ve said (cause if they had, they would be answering you like a human being, due to some relevant info in there). Yes, I know what you’re thinking – Flight Attendants can be sooooo guilty of that and I hate them for this offense also.

I asked the lady, “If you’re busy, where can I find another agent to help us?” A fluttering hand. “Try ticketing.” (More proof that she didn’t listen to me say I was an employee, because an employee has no doubt just how huge and ridiculous a brush-off that is.) I was still trying to keep my cool. “Ticketing?” She nodded, still no eye contact. “So…you’re telling me to walk 10 minutes back down the terminal and leave security, to find someone who should be helping me here?” She uh-huh’ed me while reading some paper. “That suggestion doesn’t help me. Can you tell me what other gates have flights going out?” At this hour, with so few flights going, there were only a few active gates. She would know well which those were. NO response. “Excuse me, but you are being completely unhelpful.” “Ticketing,” she mumbled.

I wanted to punch her in the face. I didn’t say that, but apparently my voice did. With one solitary word. That word was “YOU“. High-pitched and dangerously slow. I got no further than that before Del giggled and turned away. Which said to me clear enough, “Oh my god. This woman has no idea what’s about to go down!”

But his nervous giggle was enough to force air back into my thoughts. Instead I said something rational and true. Like, “You are completely rude and useless.” And as she finally looked up at us and mumbled some excuse I “gave her the hand” and stalked away.

I just wanted to go to a hotel and crawl into bed. But we had to find an agent and convince them to let us leave. Of course I wanted to dare them, “just try and force me on this plane”, but the fact is I can have my travel rights revoked if I don’t play nice. So two hours later, we’re at the boarding for our (potential) flight. That gave us a different version of ridiculousness. (“You can’t expect us to treat you like a passenger. We can’t take the trouble of pulling your bag.” Me: Right. But because I’m not a regular passenger, it is no trouble. Mine should already be off to the side with a bright yellow ‘stand-by’ tag on it.”) And just when I was giving them the benefit of the doubt, saying to Del, “There must be something about the process I don’t understand,” an awesome, no-nonsense Jamaican agent came up, called baggage and barked into the phone, “She’s a stand-by. It’s dead easy. Her bag is off to the side, just take it.” I never thought I’d love a bossy Jamaican so much. And just like that, we were saved.

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Moving On

So are you tired of the Grammy story yet? I thought so. It was a week ago now, after all. (Wow, has it really been a week already?!) If you want to skip the rest, some photos are here, and you can skim to the bottom here.

Otherwise, the quick tie-up is that we got a great back-stage tour on the Saturday (the logistics that goes into such a show is something you really have to see to even begin to comprehend!), that was pretty cool. We went through the “swag room” too, where all the free junk that celebs get to take is on display. Wow! (Guitars, tables piled high with jewelry, purses…you name it, they get it.) Saturday night we girls went to dinner at the restaurant where my sis worked over 10 years ago on Sunset Blvd and had a great time, as I always do with my sisters (and cousin, when I’m lucky enough to see her).

Sunday was the 2nd day of eating at the never-closed-since-1924 café, along with a dear friend from home who now lives in LA. (Where she moved because her very funny husband was a writer for Conan O’Brian. I’ll let you know if I get any inside scoop on that one!) Then we had to start getting ready, as our limo (My sis scored one 4 hours before the Grammys! How does she do it?)  was coming at 1:00! Off to a tiny cocktail party (no celebs, just music execs, who were all shockingly nice, genuine and seemingly unaffected. I was so pleasantly surprised.) We were slated to walk the red carpet, but we got there too late, missing it by about 5 minutes. (Grrr! Though I also didn’t mind, as I would have surely tripped and called attention my Nobody self.)

The show…well, according to the ratings, you saw the show. Even better than I did perhaps. Our seats were quite good, but you still can’t see what you do on TV, with the cameras right in front of the performers. I do nominate Pink for most impressive performance, no matter where you saw it from.

The post-show party was a Circus themed extravaganza, with food, fire-dancers, acrobats and the whole lot. Bed welcomed me at about 01:00 (not too bad, save for the time change!) and poor sis had to be up at 4. Ouch.

My flight wasn’t so early, but it was sleepless (there were certainly no open Business Seats from LA to NY the day after the Grammys!). Which was fine, except Del and i were meeting in NYC to fly directly on to England. Then that flight’s Business and First classes filled up due to a prior flight cancellation and, while I am not so spoiled by my travel privileges that I can’t fly in coach, I just couldn’t do it that night. I had barely slept in almost 4 days and was just at the end of my ability to “power through”. But Del had also checked a bag and my company was telling us that they wouldn’t take it off.  “You have to go on this plane,” they told us, probably cackling with evil glee on the inside. I begged some, argued some and quietly confessed to Del I would burst into tears if they made us get on. And then –

And then I’m going to have a little fun tonight and leave you hanging. Just for the drama of it. SO what do you think? Did I blubber? Did I curse someone out? Or did we melt the cold hearts of the gate agent?

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MusiCares

So because of my BIL’s absence, “Grammy night” turned into “Grammy weekend” for me, starting with this charity event. Apparently, every year they nominate a person of the year, and that musician is honored by other musicians performing covers of his or her songs. (Last year was Neil Diamond. I was dying to go to that one, but my clever husband pointed out that I would have just cried through the whole thing, as ND was my mom’s favorite thing in the world. That and Sound of Music/Julie Andrews.) All the while, this is also an auction for the charity.

Jack Black was the MC. He helped out by auctioning off his shoes, then tie, then pants. (Click here for Rolling Stone’s coverage and USA Today’s. And may I add that the RS article is the first mention I’ve seen of how much sister’s company paid for me to be there. Wow! I always wanted to go to one of those fancy-pants charity dinners. Didn’t realize I HAD been!) I have never cared much about Neil Young, but I assumed that was because he is a bit before my time and that if I were to be properly educated about him, I would be more impressed. I am happy to say, I came away from MusiCares with exactly this. I never realized what a huge influence Neil Young has been, just how many great songs he’s written, just how long he’s been around putting out unique music.

I also enjoyed that the show was relatively intimate. From this I got a sense of musicians as a “family”. Instead of seeing them as celebrities, with the gloss of tv or other production between myself and them, I was struck by how talented the performers were. How much they really know about music. (Something about the casual manner in which Dave Matthews just walked out on stage, chatted a bit – perfectly comfortable – picked up a guitar and struck up his song…it was impressive.)  And I saw them as people making a living off of music as a complicated and technical craft, not images of people produced by hair stylists, studio synthesizers and Photoshop. That’s what I enjoyed most about MusiCares – totally new respect for many of the musicians out there.

My only performance gossip? Everyone blew me away – especially Norah Jones, Ben Harper, Keith Urban and Josh Groban (I read the USA Today’s critique of the performance, which I heartily disagree with.) – except one of the most anticipated: the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They were pretty bad.

That’s if for today. I will sort out photos tonight. (And by that I mean tonight – as I’ve promised my sister – not my common meaning of “sometime soon…ish”.)

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