Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat or Gum

Another Halloween Party tonight. Adam went as Dexter. I went as one of his victims. Adam wore a Henley and carried a garbage bag, I wrapped my torso in plastic wrap and then we did a blood stain with nail polish.

Another funny Halloween Story.

It's about 600 in the evening. We hear a knock on the door. We wonder who in the world it is.

Trick O Treaters.


But not really. We live in an apartment. We have nothing on hand. Well, Diane is making beef stew but that's worse than the dentist who gives you toothpaste on Halloween.

Gum! We have gum. Unopened. Wrapped. The kids get gum and Adam and I head to the Food Lion to get some candy. I know all this candy is going to be like a dollar tomorrow and I feel like a sucker paying eight bucks for it tonight.

Of course, we only get one more set of Trick O Treaters after that.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Marathon Pumpkin

I went to a Pumpkin Carving Party tonight and carved a Pumpkin that said 26.2 (for Barb). I forgot to take a picture of it. Unbelievable, I know.

Come play with us Danny

Awesome, right? Still, no win in the costume contest.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Come play with us Danny

Photo credit to Stacy Evans.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Funniest Brain Related E-mail of the Day

"Let's start a brain bleed beauty contest. You could be Miss Cavernoma, 2009."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Did Dr KL tell you what you have?

And it’s Tuesday. Appointment with Doctor L. I’ve got Diane in tow and we head to the office. We arrive and I’m told my appointment was at 9AM this morning and I was listed as a no show. Now, brain jokes about cognitive deficits and memory aside I am positive the appointment was at 2:00. Positive.

Later on I learned that they left a message for me at my work number asking me if they could move it until 9:00am. First of all, I don’t know how they got my work number as I rarely use it and rarely give it out (I use my cell phone) and secondly I never got back to them that this change was OK so they really should not have switched it without confirmation from me. Whatever. I was relieved I hadn’t made a mistake remembering the time. I do harbor a bit of anxiety about issues with cognition.

I’m told they’ll squeeze me in and Diane and I sit around for about an hour. Then we sit in an examination room for about 10 minutes. Again I admire the bamboo floors and appreciate the good use of my insurance dollars.

Doctor L comes in. Dressed to the nines, of course. I kind of like and dislike that about him.

Highlights from the conversation

L: How are you?
J: I’m OK, how are you?
L: Better than you (it was funny).
J: Did Dr KL tell you what you have?
D/J thinking – is this some kind of guessing game? Is there something I haven’t been told about? Fortunately, he’s just referring to the cavernoma.
J: Well, I got a diagnosis in a voicemail. I’ve researched it but I would like to discuss it without.
L: A voicemail? The health care system these days (grumble grumble)
J (thinking) At least I get a call back.
L: You have a cavernoma. It’s in a shitty place. Near the brainstem.

He goes on to explain that surgery would be very, very risky. But, he quickly indicates that it’s unlikely they would do surgery on me. It would be a last ditch effort if it bled again AND along with really bad symptoms.

He goes on to explain that pretty much my life goes back to normal.

Of course I have a million questions (Ok, not a million but I actually did have four printed pages of questions. Diane took notes). Most of my questions are along the lines of limitations, prevention and treatment.

L: We have seen the people who baby themselves are not more or less likely to have another bleed.

As far as I’m concerned that’s good news. And bad news. The good news is I can go back to doing whatever I want. The bad news is there’s nothing I can do to prevent a repeat bleed because if there was, I would damn well be doing it.

L: If you have any more questions, just give me a call.

And here’s the moment I’ve been waiting for

J: Er, you’re kind of hard to get in touch with

L (surprised): I am the most reachable Doctor ever. My home phone is listed.

Jamie explains a little. Diane mentions him going to China without any coverage.

obviously not hearing the part of the sentence that included “without any coverage”
I’m entitled to a vacation!

D: Oh, absolutely. Vacations are great. I just got back from a vacation. It’s just not having any coverage when you’re gone.

L: There are five other neurosurgeons here.

D: Jamie called your office and was told she had to wait until you got back before any decisions could be made.

L: That doesn’t make any sense

D/J: That’s what we were told.

Towards the end of the conversation Doctor L described it as a "freak" that they figured out what it was. It was only diagnosed because the CT scan I had last week was the same as the CT scan in August, yet I could not have had another bleed. It is difficult to diagnose these.

L: If I were to chose something to be wrong with my brain. This, what you have, would be it.

Hm, comforting?

We leave and agree that Doctor L is alright but his office staff is kind of shitty.

As soon as I get home I go for a run.

For the first time in over two months I feel some genuine sense of relief. This is about as over as it ever really can be.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Snacks for Marathon Planning Meeting I

Recipe for Avocado Yogurt dip here. Corn is leftover from the pork entree.

I talk to the cats too much

At exactly 9:00 I call Doctor L’s office to make an appointment. Well, he’s available on 10.27 the scheduler tells me. I know I’m not bleeding or anything but I would really like to talk to someone about this sooner than that. I think I have to call twice before I can get the appointment moved Wednesday October 21st. That’s still longer than I want to wait but I have to image if something was realllly wrong they would have me in immediately. Still, I’ve been waiting for quite some time now to get my life back to normal. I want to exercise. I want to run. I want to fly in a plane. You know, live a little bit more.

My world is starting to feel kind of small. I talk to the cats too much.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


And tonight I made pork, the other white meat. Diane graciously left out her meat thermometer since that's the key to cooking pork, apparently. I rubbed the pork yesterday and let it sink in overnight. As per the recipe I grilled the pork for six minutes and then put it in the oven.

Now, about this meat thermometer. I wasn't really sure how it worked so I googled "how to use a meat thermometer." and it said "stick it into the thickest part of the chop." And the recipe said "Cook until the meat thermometer reaches 155 degrees." This suggested to me that you put the meat thermometer in the pork as it's cooking and keep an eye on hitting 155. Otherwise, do you just poke it periodically? I was a little skeptical of the whole thing but went ahead with it.

After just five minutes I was really curious about the temperature so I looked in on the meat. Not only was I cooking the pork, I was also cooking the thermometer apparently. Oops. That a pretty serious design flaw, no?

Here's what went wrong. I didn't remove the (plastic!) cover from the thermometer and you're not supposed to just leave it in there. Lesson Learned. And "buy Diane a new meat thermometer" appears on tomorrow's to do list.

Despite the theradrama the meal was fabulous. Recipe here. Pics below.

Cooking Light picture.

Foehl Kitchen picture.

I also made a batch of Super Muffins, but those are old hat now.

Brain surgery, force your hand, I think that's your diagnosis

MRI today!

When I wrote about my last MRI I commented that it was nothing like a coffin as my friends had described to me. Today I understood what they meant. Lucky me got an MRI with a new non coffin like machine at Rex but the one at Wake Med, yeah, that’s a smaller, darker tube I’m in.

Much better MRI music selection at Wake Med however (not that this makes up for the older, scarier equipment).

In the pre scan consultation room I learn that this test is going to be with contrast which means needle time. At this point I’m kind of over being anxious about that.

During the scan I try to sit as still as possible. I take it as a challenge. The technician wondered if I had fallen asleep. Nope, I’m just trying to overachieve however possible.

Later that day I get a call from Dr KL. I’ve stayed close to my phone all day long but of course she calls when I’m not nearby and she end up leaving this message:

“Jamie your M-R-I showed that you have what’s called a cavernoma, which is a tiny little tangle of bloods vessels that tends to clot off and sometimes leak and it can repeat that pattern. It’s near your brainstem. I predict that no one is gonna want just go in and do explotaroy brain surgery for this. If it ever cut loose again your hand may be forced there but at the moment as healthy as you are I think that’s your diagnosis.”

But this is what I hear
Brain surgery. Force your hand. I think that’s your diagnosis.
Brain surgery. Force your hand. I think that’s your diagnosis.
Brain surgery. Force your hand. I think that’s your diagnosis.
Brain surgery. Force your hand. I think that’s your diagnosis

I’ll admit it. My initial reaction is panic and I get a little hysterical. But then I calm down, listen to the message again and start reading and I feel much calmer. Still, I wished I could have spoken with her on the phone.

And then she goes on to tell me that my follow up with Dr L, the guy from the hospital of whom I am not a fan.

I call to make an appointment with Dr L’s office. Yes, I have the info in the message and yes there’s a lot of information online about cavernoma but I dunno after getting a message that even suggested the possibility of brain surgery, no matter how remote, I want to talk to someone.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Made this tonight for consumption tomorrow. Letting it chilllll out in the fridge over night.

No change in the CAT

Tuesday rolls around and I get a message from Dr KL. She tells me that my CAT scan has not changed in the 2 months between scans. Huh. That doesn’t make sense to me or to the doctor apparently. In short, she’s baffled. So, I’m back in for an MRI on Wednesday morning. It’s weird that I kind of thought this whole thing was winding down yet new information is emerging at this stage. I’m a tiny bit worried. And kind of sick of driving down to Wake Med. I much preferred the hospital being next door.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cats are funnier as residents

Diane brought home a dollhouse that her dad made her from DC. She also brought home some dolls but I think cats are funnier as residents.

Feeling Woozy. More tests.

And it’s off to Wake Med again to visit Doctor KL and review my pictures. I felt a little woozy over the weekend and doubt it really means anything but I’m still glad I can mention it to my doctor.

I bring a book and it’s a good thing I did because yet again I’m spending a long time in the waiting room. I think my patience has improved dramatically over the last two months.

She shows me my tests and confirms what she told me Friday. There’s nothing to indicate this was an aneurysm (note the wording of that).

She asks me how I’m feeling and I tell her that I felt a little headachy and nauseous over the weekend. I also indicate a lot of pain in my shoulder and neck and say I probably just slept funny on it, but wanted to report it anyway because you never know.

You don’t mess around when it comes to the brain so she orders a CAT Scan and an carotid ultrasound (this test is a first and is as close as I’m come to feeling pregnant). It was kind of cool to hear my heart beat and I can see why that would be moving for parents of an unborn child.

As soon as I arrive home from the hospital I have to turn around and co back. They need a copy of my scans from August. Something feels old school and absurd about sharing my information this way. I would expect more digital communication in 2009.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The only means of strengthening one's intellect is to make up one's mind about nothing, to let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thoughts.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


Final photo-shoot today. Adam and I arrive at Wake Med hospital bright and early. Actually, it's so early, it's not really bright. And it's cold, too. I'm an outpatient this time, and presumably only there for the day but I've packed several changes of clothes and my own toiletries, just in case.

We register and head upstairs to wait. I'm given sensor that will vibrate when they're ready for me. Just like The Cheesecake Factory or something. In no time at all, a smiling nurse greets us and takes me down the hospital hall. I'm given a gown that is ten times my size and I have fun trying to make it look stylish. They take more blood, put in an IV and make X's on my feet for pulse checks they will do throughout the day. I am much less of a wimpezoid than I have been in the past and Adam is proud of me. One nice thing about an IV is they can administer most of the meds that way. Except one. Which goes in my hip. At the last moment Cid, the nurse, tells me, "I'm sorry honey, but this one is going to burn." She's not kidding. "Holy Crap!" I exclaim. Owwwie. That hurt. Wah.

I'm wheeled into the angiogram room and they basically tie me down to make sure I don't move during the photoshoot. Of course during this time everything itches but one of the angiotech's is a great itcher.

And then it begins. I hear Dr. KL's voice but never actually see her during the procedure. She makes some comment about pedal clip ins.
I'm told what I'm going to feel, and then am told "Breathe in, breath out, don't move." It's unpleasant, but knowing the sensations before they happen certainly helps. I'm much calmer this time (I attribute that to both the drugs and my calm demeanor). The tech team feels tighter and faster and before I know it, it's over.

Dr KL asks about reporting results. I tell her that my boyfriend, Adam, is in the waiting room. "Adam and Jamie!" she laughs. "Do you get a lot of Mythbuster's jokes?" I told you I like this Doctor. She tells me my films look fine and to make an appointment to review them with her next week.

My films look fine. I wasn't worried, but I am relieved. This whole thing is approaching over.

I'm wheeled out to the recovery area and have to lie flat for six hours. I'm woozy, but nothing compared to how this was in August. Adam stays with me, Barb arrives, Adam has to leave for work and then later Bengt arrives. The steady team of support makes all the difference.

Barb is especially entertaining. She seems to be having a really good time! I'm not sure if this is a reflection of the excitement of being with me or the excitement of not being at work. The girl got off easy though, I am nothing compared to the nightmare of Hospital Jamie in August. When the nurse comes over with discharge instructions Barb takes notes. I tell Barb I want a conference report.

As the end of six hours near they tell me that they're going to get me upright gradually. In the course of five minutes they raise the incline on the bed, get me in a chair and send me the bathroom. That wasn't very gradual but I must be a superstar, or there's a shift change, or they need the bed.

And with that, off I go. I feel woozy, but am pleased to be headed home. Of course, there's a quick pic with the superstar nurse, Cid.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Sweet Potato Burgers: Alright (art direction aside).

Picture from recipe website

Picture from Foehl dining room table

Monday, October 05, 2009

It's a good thing she doesn't use her feet for this procedure.

And today I meet with Dr KL, the woman who is actually going to do this cerebral angiogram thing. I arrive 15 minutes before my scheduled appointment of 11AM. I am called in by the nurse at 12:30. I really don't mind. The reception staff notified the waiting room that Dr KL had an emergency that morning and was running behind. I'm not bleeding (well, technically, I might be, but you know what I mean). I've got a book. It's a rainy Monday morning. And there's a vending machine.

I'm sure I kept folks waiting when I was in a more emergency situation. Now, they keep me waiting. It all works out.

There is something really geeky about Dr KL. In a good way. She looks at my films. I remember something about them switching tubes during my procedure and I mention it to her. She says "Oh, I won't need to do that. I can fit the tube where it needs to go. I'm good." Confidence + geekiness? I love it.

She gives me a powerpoint presentation (hard copy) about the procedure. I love it even more!

I tell her that the last CA wasn't at all pleasant. She reiterates what others have told me. Many of the symptoms I felt following the CA were related to the bleed, not the procedure. Still, Skinner and Pavlov were onto something with all that talk of associations.

I mentioned the birthday triathlon preceding the brain bleed. She asks me if I "clip in" when I ride. "Of course I do," I say. She mentions that she's kind of freaked out by it. I tell her that toe cages are more dangerous (which she knows) but there's something psychological going on with the clips she says.

Well, it's a good thing she doesn't use her feet for this procedure.

Our photoshoot is scheduled for this Thursday.

You can get a lot done when your Doctor is running an hour and a half behind

Like read a good chunk of a book.

By the time I was actually called, I was so into the book I wouldn't have minded waiting longer. Except that parking is charged by the hour.
I did finish the book later that night.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

A band with gratitude.

Much better than that pokey group playing down in Raleigh.

Friday, October 02, 2009

I need a roller derby name.

For me, I like "Precious." It's ironic, ok?
Diane takes the cake with Die-ane another day.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Happy October


Tonight, I tried this recipe.

Let me reveal how naive I am in matters of risotto. I thought risotto was a type of food, as opposed to something that results from a process of cooking (or should I say stirring?).

I started off as directed by Diane previously. Measuring out all of my ingredients. Mise en place.

And then I stirred and stirred and stirred.

And then, enjoyed. Mmmmmmm.