Tuesday, April 29, 2008


This is how I drove out of the driveway yesterday. Fortunately I remembered before I turned the corner. I wasn't sure if I got the exposure right (eh), or if it were well framed (nope) but then got shy when my neighbor drove by. I grabbed my water and hopped into the car.

We had a big oops this weekend. On Friday we spent the afternoon at Florida's oldest theme park, Cypress Gardens, with Maya's friend, her mom, and her little sister. Right before we walked to the car Maya banged her head climbing onto an old firetruck and got a cut above her eyebrow. Omg the blood. My friend went to get help, I hugged Maya, while the other three kids kept saying that they were scared and shaking. I kept saying it's going to be ok. Finally I remembered I had a new pack of tissues in my bag and I was able to apply pressure and also to clean up Maya somewhat. My friend came back and said the park paramedic was coming. When she arrived, she cleaned it, put on a butterfly bandage, and then a regular one on top. She said that it didn't need stitches.

It is healing pretty well, although I'll probably torture myself a while longer, wondering if we should have gone to the ER. Her worries: is it a bruise? I don't want a bruise! Can you see my bones? Will I need to wear a band aid to school?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Love Thursday

We've had a hectic few weeks since our return from spring break. Sickness, root canal, family birthday parties, Hebrew school. There's barely been time to take care of laundry, or piles of mail and the kids' artwork. All of this rushing about leaves me feeling like I'm spinning in circles.

Fortunately I have these delightful creatures to slow me down and enjoy the moments.

Yes, my child is swinging on a dead palm frond. Gotta love it.

This weekend is going to be all about getting off of this hamster wheel I've jumped on.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Labor Pains vs Toothache: No Contest

When we went to Bratislava I had a cold. I thought that it might even be a sinus infection, because my teeth were sensitive and I had some discomfort in my cheek area. When we returned I was no longer using every tissue in sight, but still had sensitive teeth. After our first week at home I thought the sensitivity was almost gone.

On Friday night at 8 pm the real pain began. Even the internet couldn't distract me, and I went to lie down. On Monday I saw a doctor about my sinus problem. He prescribed by penicillin, 3 advil 3x's daily for the pain, and a nasal decongestant to make sure everything was clear up there. I was to return if I was still in pain at the end of the antibiotic. On Tuesday at work the pain increased. After emailing with my aunt I made an appointment with my dentist.

Oooh boy. I'm so glad I made that appointment for Wednesday, because the pain only continued to increase. I would rate my two unmedicated childbirth experiences as a pain level of 4; over the weekend I would have said I was at 8, and by Wednesday it was a 9. (my gallbladder attacks when my son was 4 weeks old were also an 8-9) The pain was really excruciating- it radiated from my cheek up towards my forehead and behind my eye, and down into my jaw. At this point the tooth was throbbing as well, and any thoughts that I had a sinus infection were vaporized.

A short xray and exam later and we had a diagnosis: root canal needed.He also gave me a prescription for vicodin, because the advil treatment was not even close to offering relief. My dentist referred me to an endodontist, who fortunately had an opening the following morning.

I am not sure that I've ever been so happy to be at a dentist's office- I knew that in a little bit the pain would be gone. While I'd avoided chewing on the left side of my mouth for almost three weeks, on the morning of the root canal I could hardly even chew on the right side without crying out in pain.

The novacaine brought sweet relief! Even when it wore off in the afternoon I was feeling great, and frankly just so, so relieved to not feel like my cheekbone was going to shatter into a zillion pieces anymore. I think the worst part of it was that, unlike contractions, there was no peak and then decrease in the discomfort. The pain was constant. You can't breath through this kind of pain, there's no muscle to practice relaxing and releasing. Another labor tool that was immensely helpful in labor provided no relief with my tooth- labor pain works towards a goal- your uterus contracts in order to help the baby get born. There is no point to a toothache, far as I can tell!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Our Temple's Orphan

At the end of WWII, somewhere in Czechoslovakia, almost 1600 orphans were found in a synagogue. About twenty years later the orphans were taken to London, and eventually made their way to twenty countries around the world.

The orphans I speak of were Torah scrolls which the the Nazis gathered as they marched across Czechoslovakia. In 1964 the scrolls were transported to the Westminster Synagogue in London. The scrolls were examined individually, and repairs were made as necessary, in order to make them once again kosher for ritual use. Scrolls were sent out into the world to synagogues on permanent loan, usually to congregations who could not afford to have their own Torah written (a Torah scroll, written by a single scribe according to exacting rules, can cost many thousands of dollars).

My temple is privileged to have one of these orphaned Torahs. Bratislava is about three hours by car to the town that our Torah came from. We rented a car and took a day trip to Golcuv Jenicov to see the synagogue.

The outside of the building has been restored by the Prague Jewish Museum. The building is used as additional storage for the museum, and it is not open to the public.

There aren't any Jews left in Golcuv Jenikov, and there aren't many remaining in the Czech or Slovak Republics. Most of them went to their deaths in the camps, and others emigrated to Israel or other countries, especially after the Communists came to power.

Today the majority of these orphans have found new loving families. Some remain in London, unable to be repaired enough to be used. Every Torah is special, but I get a chill every time our Torah leaves the ark, imagining the people who worshiped with it back in Golcuv Jenikov.

Next up! MRI

Good gravy. I called the gyn to find out what the radiologist's report said. He recommended an MRI, since I have an aunt who had breast cancer. So now there will be more waiting. Woohoo.

This is what I looked like after the ultrasound exam last Thursday.

I was trying to relax for the picture, but I just love that my jaw very clearly gives me away!

Letting it all sink in

I knew I would appreciate and love being with my sister, nephew, and brother-in-law, seeing the beautiful sights, and having tasty food and coffee. Our trip had one important gift that didn't fully reveal itself until later.

When we got home (it seems like both yesterday and a zillion weeks ago), I realized that my children had never seen a really grand synagogue until they visited the one in Budapest. When I pointed out the ark to Maya, she said "that's the ark? Really?" Our temple building is only a few years old. The building is simple, and although it is lovely, there are no elaborate stained glass windows, no painted vaulted ceilings. When we went upstairs to visit the synagogue's museum, I was thrilled to see their collection of ritual objects- ornate Torah adornments, beautiful spice boxes (used in the havdalah service), seder plates, kiddush cups, and candle sticks.

I'm so glad they had the opportunity to see the richness of Jewish tradition. The Orthodox synagogue my grandfather attended was a grand, majestic place; it had never occurred to me that my children only knew of our modest synagogue, and that they had no idea that synagogues might look different than the one we attend.

I'm not sure that my children would list this as a gift of their trip, but it was for me. Extra special thanks to my sister for planning our trip to Budapest and making sure that we got to visit the synagogue :)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Brain Journey

I once heard the very wise and wonderful writer and lactation consultant Diane Weissinger say in a conference session that humans are the only mammal that wonders (and worries!) whether they have milk or not. Can you imagine a dog doing some of the things human mothers do to make sure they have milk? Of course not. It is wonderful to be human, but our brains sure do allow us to torture ourselves.

I thought of this today while my own brain got off the leash and went for a journey. You see, I had been recalled to the imaging center for some additional mammogram pictures. My doctor's office told me that due to my young(ish) age, my breasts were dense and they needed more pictures. However when I got to the appointment today they explained that there was a dense nodule showing up in one breast and that they needed more pictures of that.

Yikes! The technician took three additional images, and returned me to the waiting area. When she returned from sharing the images with the doctor she said that someone would come get me for a breast ultrasound. Eventually I had two different ultrasound technicians take pictures of an area in my left breast.

At one point I was lying on the exam table, waiting for the first technician to bring the other tech in; for some reason the first woman couldn't quite get what the doctor was looking for. My mind swung pretty wildly from calm to panic, wondering how I would possibly decide on the type of cancer treatment to have (alternative or traditional?), how it would feel to go through treatment, and whether or not I would die. There were times during each of the exams that I truly felt calm and certain that nothing was wrong. And of course times when I thought the worst.

When they got the pictures the doctor was looking for, they escorted me back to the dressing area and informed me that my gyn would contact me in 3-4 days. I started to ask a question and the tech told me she couldn't tell me anything, and that I couldn't speak to anyone about the results, that I'd need to wait to hear from my doctor. I got dressed and went to the bathroom before leaving. I realized that it was Thursday, which meant I could very likely be waiting and worrying all weekend about this. I poo-poohed myself and was going to leave.

But then I 'heard' my mother talking to me. I wish I could recall the exact message I got from her, but the gist of it was that I needed to insist on talking to the radiologist. And even though part of me didn't want to, because that type of thing makes me nervous, I went out to the reception desk and explained that it was not satisfactory for me to be there for about three hours and then be told to wait a few days to hear the report. I was calm and collected. My heart was not pounding. I just did what I needed to- I'm very proud of myself.

So they called and the radiologist did speak with me. He showed me my February mammogram, the additional pictures from today, and the ultrasound. It is very odd to see a picture of your own breast with a big, white spot in it. He feels that it is most likely a fibroadenoma due to the shape, the margins, and the fact that it hasn't changed in size or appearance since the February pictures. His recommendation would be a follow-up mammogram in six months, and another six months after that. He expects that it would show no growth and no change and that I wouldn't need to worry about it after that. If I didn't want to wait, a needle biopsy or other test could be done to confirm that it is benign.

I'm not sure what I will do, I'm waiting to hear from my gyn practice. I did feel so much better after talking to him. I feel ridiculously proud of myself for handling it as I did. I think it is huge for most folks to advocate for themselves, but knowing the anxiety piece of the puzzle that is my mind, well, I think it is just an enormous thing for me to have gone through without feeling any anxiety at all.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Old World Love

Oh Old World, how I love your buildings.

Your cobblestone streets.

Your architectural details.

Your lions.

Your public sculpture.

and last, but not least, your love and devotion for the Classical.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Google Reader Disease

It's in the DSM, isn't it? The drive to read every. last. post. in your reader, despite the fact that your eyelids are oh-so-heavy with jetlag? A sickness I tell you, a sickness.

More later. Or sooner, if the lure of the interwebz is stronger than the droop of the eyelids.