I am feeling sad and discouraged and stressed today, because the doctor called with the results of Edward’s most recent bloodwork, and there were good things and bad things, and it all basically means we have to try new things: new medicines, new dosages, more bloodwork in a month. His doctor is so good at explaining things, and I feel good about his ideas and his reasons, but it is still stressful and worrisome. I especially hate reading the potential side effects list of a new medication.

Also, you will not believe this, but the lab (the one that made us go back three times for one set of tests) called yesterday and said they’d neglected to do one of the tests. And fortunately I called the doctor to let him know, because one of the nurses there looked it up and said “…No, we have all the results right here.” So the lab was going to have us come back and redo a test that HAD IN FACT BEEN DONE, and then our insurance would not have covered the duplicate, unnecessary test. So an additional source of stress right now is figuring out what to do about that, because I don’t want to use this lab anymore.

Option A is to drive two hours down to the horrible big city every time Edward needs bloodwork; that’s where we have it done when we’re there anyway for an appointment with his specialist. Upside: they do it right every single time; they always have the right kits; they are part of the same hospital as Edward’s doctor, so the lab/doctor communication is superb. Downside: driving into a city, among drivers who, when I’m scared or can’t figure things out, think I’m being a princess or an idiot or both, and that honking at me will communicate to me the correct way to get through the intersection THEY are familiar with and therefore find easy. Additional downside: every time we take that trip, a part of me honestly believes we will die. I’m not overstating this for comic effect. Additional downside: it takes more than half a day to do it this way, and it has to be during the school day. I’m trying hard to minimize the amount of school Edward misses.

A suboption for Option A is to take a shuttle that would drop us off half a mile from the hospital. Upside: someone else does the driving; fear of death significantly reduced. Downsides: the additional scheduling hassle; the fear of doing something new when I don’t know how it works; walking with a child in the city, when I basically broadcast Town Mouse from every pore; increased fear of getting mugged; same problems with taking half a day and missing school.

Option B is to go to a different lab, the one connected with our pediatrician. Our insurance company says the one we’ve been going to is the only reasonably local lab they will cover. However, when they told me that the only place we could get x-rays done was two hours away in the city, I decided to pay cash and take William to the place in our town. AND THE INSURANCE DID COVER IT, AFTER SAYING THEY DIDN’T EVEN RECOGNIZE THE EXISTENCE OF THAT PLACE. (And it’s not just that I’m misunderstanding, because the place has signs up all over the walls saying patients with our insurance may not be covered; and once when I went there for something for myself, it created an enormous insurance tangle involving backdated referrals for services I didn’t even get.) So I could just take Edward to that lab (same place as the x-ray place) and risk it. Downside: one of the tests is very, very, very expensive. Like, even AFTER insurance we pay $250 of it. So if insurance WOULDN’T cover this lab, we’d be in trouble. However, we don’t get the super-expensive test every time, so Option B may work for the times when we don’t need that test.

Option C is sort of the same as Option B, but involves trying a DIFFERENT different lab. I’ve heard people talking about Quest Labs as being the place their insurance covers. There’s one of those near us. We could try that one. I looked on THEIR website and THEY say they take our insurance. Downside: maybe they’ll be just as bad as the other lab we’ve been going to. Upside: they could hardly be WORSE. And they’re a shorter drive, and now I know the kit needs to be ordered, and that I should go Monday-Thursday, and so forth.

Well, I’m agitated. I think I’ll go into the kitchen and start making things with pumpkin and cinnamon and cranberries. It always makes me feel cheery to imagine so many of us in our kitchens at the same time, working with such similar ingredients.

Not Getting Along

Paul and I are not getting along very well recently, though I hope a recent conversation will help improve things. One of the main issues, for me, is that he’s giving me the “Well, did you make sure it’s plugged in?” tech-support type answer to EVERYTHING I SAY. It’s as if his working assumption is that I’m really stupid, and that I would mention a problem to him before giving it even a moment’s consideration. We have been together for over 20 years, and he already knows that my IQ is a couple of points higher than his, so I don’t know where this is coming from but I sure don’t like it.

He is also doing that thing, that really aggravating thing where I bring up an issue I’ve thought of or an idea I’ve had, and he says “Yeah, I thought of that.” Oh really. You thought of that. Isn’t it interesting how you didn’t mention it before. Isn’t it interesting that I somehow NEVER HAVE A SINGLE THOUGHT OR IDEA that you have not already had. It’s incredible, really. Literally incredible.

I don’t want to call any of this “mansplaining,” because that term is funny but it makes me feel not-right, and because I’ve dealt with so many women who do this. A former boss comes to mind, one who would say, “Oh, it’s so CUTE the way you guys can never figure out the paper towel dispenser! Ha ha!”—when we’d already told her it wasn’t that we couldn’t figure it out, it was that we had reasons not to use it that way. A former co-volunteer comes to mind: on her first day, she tried to explain to me how things worked, when I’d been there over a year. And various commenters in various comments sections come to mind; I know for a fact I’ve accidentally done it myself in other people’s comments sections, when I have a GREAT IDEA that of course they would have thought of themselves in the first ten seconds of considering the issue.

I’d thought that if I responded patiently but with some irritation each time, he would work things out for himself: he would think, “Hm, every time she calls my tech support line, it turns out she has already tried ALL of the first ten things we’re supposed to start with, so maybe I should assume NEXT time that I don’t need to start with those.” I’d tried spelling it out: “No, I’m bringing it up because I’ve tried all the easy fixes and none of them worked.” I tried making light of it: “Oh, you already thought of that? Too bad you didn’t mention it, then, because now I get the credit!” I tried impatient irritation: “Pfff, PLEASE. YES, of COURSE I thought of that, and also I made sure it was plugged in and turned on!”

But no: it has continued. He’ll even interrupt me when I’m listing what I’ve already tried, to suggest one of the things I was about to tell him I’d already tried. So yesterday I had to say, right after he’d done it yet again, that he was doing that a lot lately, and it was making me feel as if his working assumption was that I was really stupid. He acted not only chastened but surprised and affectionate (“Oh! Swistle, no!”), so there is some slim hope that I am only yoked to an oblivious idiot and not to an incurable pinehole.

It’s possible that this is just a dumb habit he’s fallen into, and that he can correct it by realizing it. My fear is that this is because HIS areas of smartness are the ones that Look Really Smart, such as physics and math and chemistry and logic puzzles, and that my lower ability/interest in those areas have led him to consider himself much smarter than me. When he is NOT. It’s just that he doesn’t consider HIS areas of low ability (people, relationships, writing, etiquette, unspoken communication, implications, anxiety about hypothetical situations) to be areas of smartness. I don’t want to have to keep REMINDING him that I’m smart in other ways, because then it’s like it’s just an act he’s keeping up for my sake: “Yes, dear, you are smart TOO, in your OWN way! Why, I would never have known how to get the laundry so sparkling white!” I want him to really BELIEVE it and KNOW it. But I am feeling some despair, because it seems like after twenty years he ought to know already.

Last Tango in Halifax

Have I already talked about Last Tango in Halifax? (Netflix link) My mind is so scattered these days. I carry a little notepad with me in my scrubs pocket when I’m at work, because I know if a client says she wants a salad with ranch dressing with her dinner, and then before I leave the room she has me help find her glasses, that by the time I get to the kitchen I won’t remember which dressing she wanted with the salad. The pocket notebook has been so successful, I’ve been keeping an eye out for cargo pants so I can carry a notebook with me always. Or maybe I should wear only scrubs tops now. Or perhaps it’s time to consider the fanny pack.

Good thing I wrote Last Tango in the paragraph above, or I would have forgotten what I was here to tell you about. You know, that is the solid advantage of written communication: so much easier to keep track. I could, for example, just go to my archives and LOOK UP if I’ve already discussed this show. But, eh. Languid hand movement.

Anyway, I love the show. I love it so much. I don’t want to oversell it, because that is just the worst way to start watching or reading anything: assuming it’s going to be amazing. But OH I LOVE IT. I do appreciate and enjoy the storyline with the couple in their seventies, but my favorite is the storylines with WOMEN IN THEIR FORTIES. People are attracted to them! They have relationships! They fall in love! They deal with their teenage children! This is just what I was looking for.

I’ve finished the available episodes, so I’m about 5 seconds into Downton Abbey, which I’ve been meaning to watch. My appetite for BBC shows is so WHETTED by Last Tango. I’m going around thinking (not saying) words such as owt, nowt, summat, lad, arse.

How To Create Lots of Color Bombs in Candy Crush

This post is for people who play Candy Crush. You know how periodically they have special events where if you create a crazy number of color bombs (50, 150, 300), you get rewarded with a bunch of the special pieces such as lollipop hammers and so forth? If you also play the night levels with that silly owl who can’t even trouble himself to tip a wing for his own balance, level 202 is GREAT for creating color bombs, because there are nineteen of them on the board to begin with, and they count the same as if you’d lined up the pieces and actually created them. I play the level over and over, and it’s no trouble getting up to even 300 color bombs. MAD PRIZES.

To everyone else: I’m sorry this makes no sense.

Lab, Attempt #2

I will just say this: that when we drove half an hour back to the lab that made me cry to try again to get Edward’s blood drawn, they said oh, sorry, this test can only be done Monday-Thursday. We were there on a Saturday. They knew the last time we were there what test we needed done, and they didn’t mention that it could only be done on certain days. There would be no way we would know that without being told, or even know to ASK if it could only be done on certain days. I am starting to feel as if they are punking us.

BUT. We went back again on a Monday-Thursday, and although he threw up (the technician was trying to be nice, but she kept TALKING to him what was happening, and it made him focus on it), the blood ended up in the tubes. I am half waiting to find out that oops, they forgot to send it off and it needs to be drawn again, or oops, they mailed it without the cooling pack and it needs to be drawn again.

This is the only lab our insurance will cover in our area, which makes me hate our insurance company.

Christmas Stockings; Christmas Gift Plan

We have a creepy sky going on right now. If I look to the right, it’s a gorgeous bright blue with white fluffy lamb-clouds. If I look to the left, the clouds are so thick and dark they look dirty, like they’re full of ash. I tried to take some photos, but they completely failed to capture the WHAT DOES THIS BODE?? quality.

I am starting to think about Christmas stockings. Last year I kind of blew it: I kept thinking it was too early to think about it, and then suddenly it was too late, and I basically filled them with candy and snacks. That would have been MY dream stocking as a child, but the children were surprisingly keen on the one or two non-candy things I DID put in, such as new gloves. So THIS year I’m putting in some things I would have bought for them anyway as they needed them, just in regular shopping trips:

* new gloves again
* new winter hats/earmuffs
* new socks (but more fun than plain white)
* new crayons/markers
* more stuff as I think of it

For example, one child complained he couldn’t find a protractor, so he and Paul and another child are all getting protractors in their stockings. Basically, anything a child needs/mentions between now and Christmas is going to be put in a stocking. My mom remarked that this makes for expensive stockings, but it actually makes for CHEAP stockings, since it’s going to be a lot of stuff I would have bought ANYWAY. I won’t go so far as to give them cold medicine and paper towels, but this older-kid stage has been harder than the days when I could fill stockings with clearance party favors and small board books and new bath toys.

I’m also preparing the children that this year I’m planning a repeat of the “one book gift, one clothing gift, two gifts’ worth of things you want” system. (I like the catchy “Something you want/need/wear/read” poem, but have trouble putting it into practice exactly as recited.) It was gratifying how excited they were last year about new clothes when they knew to EXPECT new clothes as a gift. That is, opening new shirts when you were hoping for a video game = sad. Opening Minecraft shirts when you were expecting boring shirts = AWESOME.

Chin Hairs

I feel the injustice of something this morning, and it is that middle-aged men can grow beards to hide their soft underchins and increasingly saggy necks, whereas middle-aged women cannot. These two inexplicably stealthy and fast-growing recurring chin hairs are not going to cover it.

Oh, this reminds me. At a recent get-together with friends, I noticed a friend had a stealth chin hair. I wondered if I should say something and offer to get it for her (I keep tweezers in my pocket AT ALL TIMES now), but I let uncertainty/anxiety stop me. Since then, I’ve wished I’d gone for it. It seems to me that, first of all, it falls securely on the safe side of the line Miss Manners has drawn to determine whether or not to mention something to someone: Is it easily fixable on the spot, or is it something they won’t be able to do anything about anyway, and so it will just make them feel awful? In this case, easily fixable.

Secondly, and more importantly so perhaps this should have been firstly, the conversation in this same group has turned to stealth chin hairs before, so I know that she is aware of them and that she is keen to remove them and that she has a sense of humor about them.

Thirdly, I would want HER to tell ME. I just HATE the way I sometimes don’t see one until it’s, like, half an inch long.

Fourthly, it seems to me that such a thing falls into the category of friendship-increasing activities. That is, once you have helped a friend tweeze a chin hair, is there any way to avoid that making the two of you closer than before? I think not.


[Edit: I wish I’d asked commenters to divide themselves first into groups of “Would you have loud, uproarious conversations with your friends about chin hairs, or not?” Because what I’m wondering is, are the people who would want to cry/die ALSO people who would joke loudly? Or are we in groups of “Would never joke about it and would cry/die if someone pointed it out” and “Would joke and would want someone to point it out”? My group of friends is one that has had the loud uproarious conversations, so does that mean I’m safe to let them know? Or does it mean there are participants who would scream with laughter on the topic in a general way, but then die of mortification if it came up about their own personal chin hair? I really can’t picture this friend crying OR dying. I can picture her saying, “Eww, eww, get it, GET IT QUICK!!!” I’m not planning to point out chin hairs to strangers, or to people who have never had loud laughing conversations on the topic with me.]

Cat Heroism; Frustrating Insurance Issues

I don’t know why people think of DOGS when the subject of heroic pets comes up. Why, just this morning, one of our cats realized he needed to throw up and, with Indiana-Jones-like reflexes, immediately emitted an unearthly yowl to alert the sleeping household to the emergency. As I was still trying to figure out what time it was and how to walk without falling over, he realized something even more serious: he was on a HARD FLOOR! With no thought for his own safety, he ran as fast as his plush paws could carry him down the stairs to the only carpeted area of the house. Just in the nick of time he reached the bottom step. It was a very close call, but he managed it. A true hero for our times.

I have not yet thanked you all for your responses to the Frustration Crying post. I kept seeing comments and thinking, “Yes. YES!” Then I’d start to respond, and feel like I was just repeating myself—or worse, repeating the comment itself. And then it seemed as if it would seem as if I wasn’t responding to OTHER comments because they WEREN’T good, rather than because I didn’t have any response other than gratitude and relief and comforted feelings. Anyway, the whole incident threw me for a bit of a loop, and in a loop like that everything seems impossible to figure out, so let’s just leave it at THANK YOU FOR ALL THOSE GREAT COMMENTS.

Today I am continuing to have this “WHY IS THE LEAST-KNOWLEDGEABLE PERSON IN CHARGE??” feeling about doctors and insurance and so forth, because over the weekend we received two letters. One was from our insurance company, saying “Referral? What referral? We never received any referral, so here is a heads-up that you will have to pay the entire $400 specialist fee yourself.” So I will need to call about that. It’s possible that there WAS a referral. It’s also possible that the pediatrician’s office forgot to send it over. If the pediatrician knows there needs to be a referral, which they do know, and if the specialist knows they need to receive the referral, which they do know, and if the insurance company knows everyone knows this, then WHY OH WHY do I have to be the one to call this morning to ask the pediatrician to send the referral to the specialist, and to ask the specialist to send it to the insurance? Why can’t THE PEOPLE WHO ARE PAID TO DO THIS be the ones to do this??

The second letter was from the specialist, saying that because we have no insurance information on file, they are giving us their uninsured-patient discount. Well. That is very nice of them, and it’s a surprisingly nice discount: it takes off about half the charge. But since I stood at a registration desk for OVER TWENTY MINUTES giving them our insurance information and trying to answer questions such as “When did this insurance coverage start?” (I don’t know, like five years ago I guess, THIS IS NOT INFORMATION I USE BRAIN STORAGE SPACE FOR), and telling them Paul’s Social Security number and birth date, and letting them scan the card, I don’t know WHY I now have to call them and give them all the information again.

Also, if they have no insurance information on file, why is our insurance company alerting us that they’ve received a claim and the visit will not be covered?

It does help to realize that most of this is done automatically by computer. That is, it isn’t as if a person at the specialist’s office deliberately ignored our insurance information; there was just some reason the computer couldn’t process it, so the computer printed out a letter. But it also DOESN’T help, because wouldn’t it be nice if a person DID check before sending out one of these automated letters? Just a quick double-check to see if perhaps alllllllll the information was already in the computer and some glitch just prevented it from processing? Since I think we all know how unpleasant it is to receive such a letter? Well. It does no good to think these counter-reality thoughts.


Follow-up: It is only fair, especially after making cynical remarks about reality, to say that when I called the pediatrician about the missing referral (shortly after writing this post) they said, “Oh, yes: the specialist called us Friday and we faxed it right over.” So! The very people I would LOVE to have handle the situation, DID IN FACT HANDLE IT. The specialist’s office saw the issue, understood the issue, and took action! The pediatrician’s office responded by fixing the issue! EVERYONE GETS NEW CARS.

Frustration Crying

I just got back from yet another frustrating experience at the lab where Edward has his blood drawn. It’s supposed to be much, much better to drive half an hour to an easy familiar location than to drive two hours to the scary big city with all the honking drivers who think everyone should be totally 100% familiar with their scary big city, and it OFTEN IS better, but just often enough it happens that we end up driving an hour round-trip for NOTHING, and ALSO I end up with lots of mental arguments going on in my head as I explain to imaginary technicians why what happened was something that shouldn’t have happened. This morning was one of those times.

I hate to have Edward miss school, but I was working this weekend (insert work-related conflicted feelings here) and couldn’t take him until today, and I was already feeling tense because we should have done it last week. We rushed around so that he and I could leave right after the other kids got on the bus. It’s a walk-in lab, so we waited more than half an hour, and then it was finally our turn, and they said, “Oh, yes, we got the paperwork, but to do this test we need a kit, and we don’t have that kit.”

This is the kind of thing that drives me batty. When they received the orders, and saw the orders would require a kit they didn’t have, why didn’t they call the doctor who faxed the orders and say so? Why doesn’t our doctor know that they would need to send the kit, since, as it turns out, they did send it last time? Why are we, the Clueless Patients, left to figure it all out, when we know NOTHING ABOUT ANY OF THIS? Doesn’t it make the most sense that they should talk to each other and combine their knowledge, instead of having me serve as mediator? Wouldn’t that, in the long run, save a LOT OF TIME AND TROUBLE? But I suppose the time and trouble saved would be the PATIENTS’ time and trouble, so there’s little motivation for the doctor’s office or the lab.

Even worse is that I tried to CALL the lab ahead of time to make sure everything was all set, and all they have is a 2-minute recording (their hours, their location, etc.) that doesn’t give an option to speak to anyone, and doesn’t give an option to leave a message. So the only way I could have prevented this situation from happening was to drive half an hour over there and ask.

Worst of all, when I tried to Use My Words and say all these things in a reasonable way, I started crying. And not just a little crying, but a lot of crying. And I kept crying the whole rest of the time we were there, which was like another ten minutes. It was excruciatingly embarrassing, and it wouldn’t stop. I was just so frustrated with EVERYTHING. To her credit, the technician was very kind at this point, and even sat next to me and gave me a side hug, and said kind things about how I must be so stressed and worried, and that of course made me cry MORE, and arg. Just, arg. And now we will have to go back in a couple of days, and they will recognize me as That Mom Who Cried So Much.

And I am feeling some despair, too, because I always thought that these episodes of frustration/rage-crying (which at least usually are not QUITE so lengthy and damp) would at some point STOP. I had in mind a future where I would be…”old enough,” I guess, not to do it anymore. And there is still hope: apparently a lot of women toughen up after menopause, because of estrogen dropping or testosterone rising or something. But arrrrrrrrrrggggggggggg.

Time Change Printout; Haircut and Streaks; Sentimental about Trick-or-Treat

I should have posted this earlier, but I forgot: here’s the link to the “Wait, right now it would be SEVEN o’clock—no, wait, it would NORMALLY be NINE o’clock…” printout.


I got eight inches cut off my hair and I am so much happier with it:


It’s still long enough to put up, but I no longer hate washing it and brushing it. When I take it down at night, I like the way it looks; before, when I took it down I felt frumpy and oppressed. I’ve even been wearing it down sometimes during the day.

I got some bleachy streaks put in at the same time, and those too improve my hair happiness by a significant amount. I am hoping they will help decrease the frequency with which I am asked if I homeschool.


I got a little sentimental last night while trick-or-treating. People buy candy, so that they can give it away for free to children who come to their houses. They voluntarily spend a couple of hours being inconvenienced by the ringing doorbell. Some of them even dress up, and/or decorate their houses, and they say nice things to these children they don’t even know. All of this because we are an animal species and we VALUE our community children. WEEP. It reminded me of when I got all sentimental about playgrounds. Grown-ups with jobs spend lots of time and effort to design safe structures for children to PLAY on. WEEP.