December 19, 2011
If you are weak of stomach, you may not want to read this saga. It will be ongoing – with new additions periodically.
On December 15th, I underwent a procedure called “Endovenous Laser Treatment with Microphlebectomy”. What the HELL does that mean? “Endovenous” = inside a vein; “micro-” =small; “phlebectomy” = removal of vein.
I have had a worsening varicose vein in my left leg for about 20 years. I decided to see a vascular doctor about it recently. I had it “treated” on Thursday.
Procedure – Thursday, December 15th, 2011
The day began at 5:30am (after giving my final exam in my night class the previous evening). I had to shower before the procedure because I would not get another shower until Friday evening. I also had to apply Lidocaine cream to the entire area that was going to be worked on. (I’ve had poor success with these lido-creams in the past and was not too confident for this time either!) The lido-cream had to be Saran wrapped in place (no kidding!) and I got dressed. A light breakfast, no coffee and WHEE off we went.
We arrived early. The facility was not yet open. I twitched. At 8am we got registered and by 8:30 I was in my treatment room. They gave me disposable shorts to wear, unwrapped my leg and washed down the entire area. To my surprise, the lido-cream REALLY worked. My left inner thigh and anterior/medial calf were completely numb! It felt like they had been iced, but not cold, just that thick-numb-kinda-like-a-piece-of-meat feeling. Once we had gone through all the releases and possible problems I was given a glass of water and Xanax (anti-anxiety medication) to relax. The nurse suggested I take two, I opted for one – not really knowing what Xanax would do, and not really wanting to be totally out of it.
The doctor came in and traced out the veins on my skin with a Sharpie marker. One of the nurses also came in with an iPod and asked what type of music I wanted to listen to during the procedure. She offered elevator music, jazz, 80′s and all kinds of specific artists. I told her that she could put on anything that did not distract the doctor from his primary focus – my leg. She spun through the list for a bit, picked something and put the iPod in the docking station.
(HERE’S WHERE IT IS GOING TO START GETTING ICKY – YOU’VE BEEN WARNED) The first part of the procedure was the endovenous treatment. In my case, what this meant was that a fiber-optic with a laser was inserted into my Greater Saphenous vein starting just below my inner ankle bone (medial malleolus) and “gently” snaked up, inside the vein, to about the middle of my thigh. (This reminded me a bit of the old RotoRooter commercials – but that may have had something to do with the Xanax.) At about this time, I realized that the music that the nurse had picked was… JOURNEY. LOL. I hadn’t really noticed it (thank you Xanax) and when I did, I found that quite humorous. With the laser in place, the fiber got slowly pulled back out with the laser firing every n-seconds to damage the inside (endothelium) of the vein. This damage will cause clotting and, combined with compression, will collapse the vein.
WHEW it is nearly over, right? Oh no, grasshopper – the best is yet to come!
The traces of the veins on my leg were to show the doctor the tortuous path of the vessel within the skin so that he could make small incisions near the vein, pull small sections of the vein out through the incision and cut it, and then make another incision about 1 or 2 inches away and PULL pieces of vein out of my skin. Did it just get really warm in here?? That is the microphlebectomy portion of the procedure. There was lots more lidocaine injected into my skin around the areas of vein that were going to be “pulled”. It was quite odd, come to think of it, because I was awake and talking with the doctor and could feel (and hear) pulling, puncturing, moving of my skin but could feel nothing. The “meat-y” feeling of the skin was all I could feel. It was attached to me, but not really part of me. Only on one occasion was there a big, shooting pain – and that was when he touched a nerve that was running next to the vein. BOY HOWDY was I awake then! It felt like he was pulling miles of vein out of my leg, but after the procedure the nurse showed me the pieces (yes, I am that type) and it was less than 8 inches! Finally after about 2 hours, we were done and the nurses washed me up, SteriStripped my “punctures” (no stitches), put gauze over EVERYTHING (a lot of extra lidocaine solution had been pumped in around my veins, and would be leaking out over the next few hours) and got me into my ever-so-lovely compression stocking (+30mmHg if you are interested).
The Xanax was fading, but still enough to make me a bit dizzy when I stood up to get dressed. I was advised on my medications and sent off with Jack for a 20 minute walk. All walking for the next two weeks is supposed to be slow and careful. No cardio, nothing bordering on exercise, just enough to keep the blood flowing through the deep vein so as to minimize the possibility of clotting in the deep vein.
After our walk, Jack took me to my favorite comfort food place for lunch. It is the ONLY place we ever go where I will order lasagna at a restaurant! It is my absolute favorite and always makes me feel happy. Full belly, drugs wearing off, a little walk and then NAP TIME. The rest of Thursday was somewhat of a blur. Walks around the block. Sitting with my leg elevated. Napping. The pain was not bad, more sore than pain. The gauze under the compression stocking were NOT pretty, and I had a whole other day to live with that before I could take off the stocking, the gauze and have a shower!
January 31, 2010
Well – we continue to be very busy. Our house now has… da da DUM … ALL NEW WINDOWS. Holy crap are windows expensive! However, I’ve gotta say, they look great! Our old windows were aluminum double panes that had popped their seals, and were COMPLETELY fogged between the panes. The new ones are CLEAR! What a concept. And we got wood lining and casings for all the windows, so we now have finished looking windows with frames and sills. It is AMAZING what a difference it makes!
We have also managed to get 2 armoires – one for gozi‘s closet and one for a linen closet. The house is beginning to look like we actually LIVE in it, as opposed to simply squatting amongst the boxes.
Life also rolls along. We’ve been busy. Work (as always) takes up way too much of both of our time. However, along with work we’ve managed a few fun things. Last weekend we went to a (very) short concert at the Triple Door by Phoenix. I have to admit – I’d never heard of the band before, but we are KEXP members, and it was a special event for the members – so we went. It was really good. It was unfortunate that the show was only about 4 or 5 songs long – but the band was running off to a sound check for their evening concert at the SoDo Showbox in Seattle. After the concert and some sustenance, we went to the SAM (Seattle Art Museum) for the Michelangelo:Public and Private and Calder exhibits. Both were excellent – I’m really glad that we didn’t miss them.
This weekend has been a little less cultural. Yesterday was a great class for me on pruning fruit trees. Yes, I’m trying to learn to take care of gozi‘s plum tree! Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to HIRE someone to come and try to fix nearly 10 years of “letting nature take its course”. AFTER THAT, I’ll try taking over to maintain the tree. I learned a LOT in a quick 2 hour class. I’m quite excited about the whole thing. I’m also looking at a few other classes about gardening etc. just to try to maintain my sanity and make the property look good!
The culmination of this weekend…
Yup – we are the proud season ticket holders for the Rat City RollerGirls! Goin’ to the Derby this afternoon! Too much culture is not good for one – a little red-neck strikes a good balance. At least that is what I’m telling myself.
And so the saga goes – still missing Cairo (in some ways), still trying to figure out what the hell I’m supposed to be doing here (although my student evals from last quarter were pretty good – only REALLY pissed off one student), and wondering what I want to be when I grow up.
January 14, 2010
One of the things that I commented on LONGLONGLONG ago in the blog was that, in Cairo, and in association with the University, we had incredible opportunities to see music and lectures and theatre.
Life has been so crazy since coming home. This seems counter-intuitive. We CAME HOME. It should be easy and familiar. And yet many of the cultural and social interactions – beyond Happy Hour or Third Tuesday – have been elusive since coming back. I don’t know if they were any easier in Cairo, but we certainly partook of them FAR more frequently than in Seattle.
In the fall, we “missed” an opportunity to go to a fancy multi-course, Tom Douglas food event with beer pairing. We just never got around to getting the tickets. And then it was too late. We justified our frustration and disappointment by saying that the tickets were TOO expensivo. Then, after the fact, we consoled ourselves because we heard that it really wasn’t that good. Saved by the critiques of others!
Friends have recently been discussing the joy of going to see the Seattle Symphony. It is relatively inexpensive, not that many people go, Benaroya Hall is beautiful, and the symphony is actually pretty good! All of this sounds really promising, but……………..it still doesn’t happen.
Somehow the planning becomes too onerous, the tickets too expensive, our time too short.
Well, recently we decided, “What the hell…” and got tickets to a Seattle Arts and Lectures event. A community dinner on Monday and a lecture on Tuesday. The dinner was catered by, none other than, Tom Douglas at the Palace Ballroom in downtown Seattle. The event and lecture were by Jane and Michael Stern – of “Road Food” fame.
The dinner was… yup… road-type food. Chicken fried steak finger sandwiches on buttermilk biscuits with onion gravy, deep fried pickles, pickled okra and a BBQ’d pig with 3 kinds of sauce. There were not all that many people at the dinner – it was kinda pricey – but we REALLY enjoyed it. AND, with all our recent whinging about being tired of being viewed as “fascinating”, we were in a social situation where we knew NOBODY and pretty much everyone had a story to tell. It was fun to be anonymous for a while.
The lecture was an ex-temporaneous, hilarious, rambling discussion by Jane and Michael Stern about their food travels throughout the United States. They covered myriad subjects, decades, vehicles and misinterpretations (“Jewish tea”). We laughed until we hurt.
The odd thing, for me, was the familiarity of many of the situations, stories and faux pas’ that they described. In the last 3 years, we have had many of the same – only in another country. It gives me pause, and makes me think that, perhaps, our stories are worth telling – but alas, we’ve no writer between us. The blog will have to do.
This event has spurred me to start looking at other lectures, events and generally fun things that are NOT our daily (or worse yet, work related) lives. We don’t need to move half way around the globe to find great culture, we just need to open our eyes.
January 8, 2010
Seattle is still a bit of an oddity to me, but, only5+ months since returning, I am attempting to get things figured out again.
My job is going fine. I haven’t seen my evaluations from last quarter, but I felt the whole thing went pretty well. Only real issues: a LOT of students dropped the class or did VERY poorly. Then again, I also had a substantial number of 4.0 grades – so perhaps it balances out. The quarter system is REALLY FAST compared to the semester system. And the breaks are so short!
Besides that, classes and students are much the same. Upper class Egyptian kids or community college students, the problems are just about the same. Language issues – both spoken and written. Lack of study skills. Outside time demands (my CC students are frequently raising families and have full time jobs – kinda different from my Egyptian students!). Reticent attitudes about engaging in INQUIRY.
The last is the one that pains me the most. The idea that people don’t want to find out the answer seems unfathomable. Student attitudes of “Just tell me the answer/what is on the test” without an interest in the HOW or WHY is, literally, hard to imagine. And yet, every term, there are a few students whose small epiphanies are sufficient to keep me at the job.
Then there is the personal readjustment. I am dealing much better with getting out in “this culture” than a few months ago. I’ve FINALLY gotten back to regular swimming at the Y and yoga – both are as much for sanity as for fitness – although I am certainly in need of the fitness. We have been slowly refurnishing our house after purging nearly everything in the move.
Sunday knitting at our local is starting again and there is decent beer and wine here – so life is not too bad. I still miss Cairo and the friends we left there. Insha’allah I’ll get to go back soon for a visit, but in the meantime, Seattle is feeling a lot better (and wetter) than when we first got home.
August 6, 2009
It is true – we are back Stateside.
I’ve been relatively quiet lately due to lack of internet in some of our cool vacation destinations, only having one computer for both gozi and me (sharing is HARD), being busy just enjoying the vacation, and getting home to no communications opportunities in the house (no landline phone, no internet, no TV, no….).
So now (still no internet – using the wifi at the Seattle Public Library – GO LIBRARY SYSTEM!!) we are ?home? – back in Seattle, in our (empty) house – reacclimating to ?normal? life. I think not.
- Our totally cool vacation adventures make the “mundane” return to Seattle disappointing. Although there IS the Space Needle, it doesn’t really compare to Angkor Wat.
- Not surprisingly, my shipment from AUC has turned into a total CF! The office that takes care of these things says that there is nothing wrong, however:
- My shipment arrived in Seattle BEFORE I did. Only by a few hours, but by the time we got to our messages, there was already one from Lufthansa Cargo.
- The cargo company was calling because my shipment arrived with no paperwork.
- For those who don’t know – that means that all the pain and agony we went thru to make a detailed (kinda) inventory of each box, the multiple customs forms and power of attorney forms etc. were simply not sent. My shipment arrived in the States as 19 boxes/630kg of “Personal Effects”.
- This has caused no end of problems – including my having to go to the cargo office to print out my inventory and then to customs to get the boxes released from AGRICULTURAL hold. Apparently the US customs officials are MOST worried about plant/animal importation problems so if there are no papers, it gets held in agriculture. Joy of Joys.
- Lack of modes of communication (see above) has made the sorting of these problems more… exciting. We have mobiles (Thanks Pat!!) and Skype, but no internet at home to check Skype for messages. Getting this worked out.
- We can’t take delivery of the shipment (should it be ultimately released to the forwarding company to be delivered) until next week due to scheduling issues at the house.
- We (I guess I should say, I) made the mistake of suggesting to stop into our favorite watering-hold for “just one or two” the day after we got back. OOPS. We stayed a LONG time. Friends kept insisting on buying us drinks. I wasted most of the next day with a hangover – my own doing….
- Shopping here is TOTALLY WEIRD. Everything is BIG and BRIGHT. There is TOO MUCH of everything and it is all TOO EXPENSIVE. The shops DON’T ALLOW hagg^H^H^H negotiating on the prices!!! Who do they think they are!?
- Not news to anyone who has moved recently, but we’ve spent EXCESSIVE amounts of money on NOTHING lately. Stupid stuff like cleaning supplies, paper towels and toothpaste. It is mind-boggling.
- Also not surprising, but frustrating, is that I don’t fit in a lot of the clothes that I left here! That severely limits my clothing options until the shipment arrives (see above), which is not likely to be soon enough.
Ahh, welcome home! Change is hard. Life is an adventure.
I guess I live in interesting times.
July 14, 2009
HERE are some photos from Chiang Mai. We didn’t do ANYTHING in Bangkok, so there are no photos from there.
Still working on photos from…Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An….
Still taking photos in Saigon.
More to come.
June 5, 2009
Unless you’ve been under a rock lately, you know that President Obama spoke in Cairo yesterday. It was an historic and yet uneventful day for those of us who live here.
My reflections on all this:
- IMNSHO – his speech was quite good. His oratory skills, ability to exude compassion and understanding, and general “public-speaking-manner” is exceptional. He managed to use balanced reference to the Qu’ran and the Bible. He appealed to people’s sense of “what is RIGHT”. He emphasized our similarities and downplayed our differences. Well done.
- In talking with Egyptians, after the speech, they seemed to gush about Obama with exaltedness that equaled the bile they used toward GWB. In the eyes of the Egyptians that I know, Obama has become the “saviour” of the world. And yet the global reactions to the speech are mixed.
- Cairo was UNCANNILY quiet yesterday. For anyone who lives here, or has visited, the streets of Cairo are rarely clear and quiet. For most of the day yesterday, the traffic, the noise, the general buzz, was diminished. (An aside for those who live here – we had an acquaintance who made it from Mohandiseen to the airport in 10 to 15 minutes!!! OMG)
- Cairo (at least the parts where Obama was going) was sanitized for this event. Streets were cleaned, repainted and beggars banished. The minibus stop next to Sultan Hassan mosque was MOVED for the day!!! Beged - they moved the stop so that “there wouldn’t be a lot of local and poor people congregating” near where Obama would visit.
- I found it interesting that, even with many of the major thoroughfares being closed or heavily restricted, Mubarak made sure that Obama was not DRIVEN anywhere in the city, if it could be avoided. Fat, grey, military helicopters took him to each destination – especially when it involved crossing the city, like going from Cairo U to Giza. I saw the phalanx fly over our building as the left the Giza plateau! Woot, my brush with greatness! LOL!
All in all, though, Cairo really didn’t seem to notice Obama. Another major political figure passing through the City Victorious. It has happened for 4000?, 5000?, or more years – another politician is just another politician.
May 16, 2009
BCA booze cruises on the Nile.
An entire afternoon of cruising the Nile on a lovely yacht, buffet lunch and cash bar. Life is really good.
We will miss the boys of the BCA especially – they have been a family-away-from-home for us.
A handful more pictures HERE. (*Disclaimer: the web page contains a mix of photos from both Jack and me. The photo above is Jack’s)
February 4, 2009
And even some other adjectives!
I am in rant and ramble mode. You’ve been forewarned.
In my previous post about my Core Curriculum/General Education class, I was lamenting the amount of work, the likelihood of backslide in the curriculum, and the feeling of “Why am I doing all this?”. I have been preparing this curriculum, keeping the faculty informed, and designing pages and pages (11 at current count) of “supporting” documents that contain links, activities, readings etc. The thought is to try to get everyone on the same page and feeling comfortable (and not totally overwhelmed) with the curricular changes and some of the new topics we are introducing.
I had my first “all-hands” meeting for this semester. I had girded my virtual loins for a complete blood-bath and evisceration regarding the changes.
It never came. There were some questions and concerns, but, for the most part, people seemed resigned to getting to work to make the curriculum happen. WTF! Who are these people? I walked out at the end of the meeting feeling relieved and TERRIFIED. Relieved that I had not been flayed. Terrified at not knowing when the explosion (or would that be an implosion?) would happen. Because I am pretty sure it will.
That would still (even after the nice things people said to me after the last post) would be ME. Or, at least, the impression that, in this case, students have of me. The reason is because they don’t want to take this course, so they try to find the “easy” professors and avoid professors that they do not have positive (read: cake-walk) peer information about. What this boils down to is, and I quote a student,
“I want to know what sections are being taught by Egyptians, because I am guaranteed an A in those sections. I won’t take from Americans, they grade too hard.”
I shit you not. A student specifically said this to me, the coordinator of the course, as justification to be overloaded into a course that was closed.
Needless to say, I said, “NO”. I have burst the bubbles of many students who sign up for sections randomly and then decide that they don’t like the meeting time, or they think another professor is easier, or… or… or… and they come to my office to get permission to get into another section.
I have explained innumerable (yes, I MEAN to use that word) times that MY concern is to get them into A section, ANY section that fits their schedule and the rest of the excuses are honestly not my concern. They do not like that. I am mean and insensitive (read: American). Malesh.
This occurred today, and nearly had me heading to the airport! This semester I am teaching an upper-division biology course with lab that is required for all majors. As we were preparing for registration (last semester – when students were signing up for classes for THIS semester), I changed the meeting time for the lecture so that I had 2 x 1.5 hour lecture blocks instead of 3 x 1 hour lecture blocks. From a teaching standpoint, as long as the entire 1.5 hours is NOT blahblahblah, more can be introduced, discussed and evaluated in a 1.5 hour block. I had it changed with the Registrar BEFORE the students began signing up for classes, and, I *thought*, we were good to go.
During registration, some students said that there was a conflict with a Chemistry course. I tried to work it out. We could not find a suitable alternative. I said as much to the students. Fast forward to today – the semester has begun, and drop-and-add period ends tomorrow. There is a HUGE hullaballo because students have conflicts between the chemistry and the biology courses.
Loads of angst, hand-wringing and negotiations aside, it has now been presented to me that EITHER I change the course schedule back to a 3 x 1 hour and give it during the earliest possible lecture hour because that is the only time left open in the students schedules OR I am personally responsible for at least one student not graduating on time.
NOW HOLD ON A MINUTE – I used to teach Scientific Thinking, and now I coordinate the course and am responsible for rewriting the curriculum. The above statement is a PERFECT EXAMPLE of a FALSE DICHOTOMY. There are virtually NEVER only 2 possible outcomes for a situation. What are the other possibilities?????
What it boils down to is that the Ethos in my department is that the students rule supreme, and the faculty must give up their lives, families, free time and personal freedoms to make the students happy. In return, the students are free from all responsibility for their actions, need to plan or consider future implications of current decisions or in any way engage their mental faculties beyond the current moment and themselves.
I can’t tell the story as eloquently as my friend. I will simply preface this link with some background. “Odd Man Out (OMO)” has been teaching in the Scientific Thinking course as an adjunct for many years. I have visited his lectures and must concur with the assessments in the link. Ilhamduli’allah, OMO is not teaching for the course this semester.
Read it and weep: The Arab Mind
And INCREDIBLE on another level – yesterday, coming home on the bus, I saw a scooter!
Doesn’t seem too interesting or incredible… there were 2 men on the scooter.
Still not so interesting or incredible… the man on the back was carrying….
Wait for it…
A FULL-SIZE sheet of plywood! No kidding.
I *warned* you that I was in ramble mode.
January 14, 2009
The beer in Egypt, as dear gozi has said, is merely bland and flavorless. The local beers (Stella [NO, THIS IS NO RELATION TO STELLA ARTOIS], Sakkara and Luxor) are weak, fizzy yellow beers that are best consumed super cold, in large quantities on very hot days. Sounds like Egypt.
Thank you to Stone Brewing for this logo!
The wines, however, are actively toxic. The French were, apparently, not in Egypt long enough to impart the art and alchemy of wine making. The Egyptians use French names (Chateau de Reves, Jardin du Nil), but the wine inside the bottle is, more or less, rot-gut solvent that should never be ingested by a living organism.
The Lebanese, however, learned well from the French – their wines are LOVELY. The Lebanese also have the advantage of a hilly, rocky, Mediterranean geography, which is FAR better for growing the vines and storing the wines. So for Middle Eastern wine, I highly recommend Lebanese. Ksara is one of our favorite vineyards.
Egypt has a hot, dry climate that is not suitable for growing grapes. Egypt has imported the grapes or the juices from some great wine-producing areas (Lebanon, S. Africa), and yet the end-product is still horrible. The magic doesn’t exist here. And the intermittent electricity means that wines are kept at constantly variable temperature. They don’t like that. They’ve told me – in the form of intense gastrointestinal distress upon consumption. Also, Egypt is not really a “wine culture” – Muslims self-impose varying levels of abstinence from alcohol, and when they DO consume, it tends to be either the beer (see above) or liquor.
A friend recently posted a link to this wine blog talking about Egyptian wines. We both got a number of laughs out of the tasting notes. For those of you who have tried the wines while here you will probably recognize and/or viscerally remember and agree with the assessments.
For those of you who know me you know that I LOVE to drink wine. Egypt has nearly cured me of that. The trip to Paris (and our lovely guests who have helped supply our coffers with decent, imported wine) has given me faith in wine again. Il hamdulil’allah!!!