Thursday, August 23, 2007

music musings

For the first several times I heard this song, I thought the “hardest thing” he was referring to was leaving. Then I realized it was staying. Hm.

There are certain people you just keep coming back to
She is right in front of you
You begin to wonder could you find a better one
Compared to her now she's in question

And all at once the crowd begins to sing
Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same

Maybe you want her maybe you need her
Maybe you started to compare to someone not there

Looking for the right one you line up the world to find
Where no questions cross your mind
But she won't keep on waiting for you without a doubt
Much longer for you to sort it out

And all at once the crowd begins to sing
Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same

Maybe you want her maybe you need her
Maybe you started to compare to someone not there
Maybe you want it maybe you need it,
Maybe it's all you're running from,
Perfection will not come

And all at once the crowd begins to sing
We'd never know what's wrong without the pain
Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same

Maybe you want her maybe you need her
Maybe you've started to compare to someone not there
Maybe you want it maybe you need it
Maybe it's all you're running from
Perfection will not come

and yes. i happen to like a few of the fray's songs.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


um...i'm not sure what the hell i've gotten myself into. i've already forgotten everything i knew in structural analysis I and i'm taking the second one AT GEORGIA TECH.

although, part of me is curious to see whether my belief about my major professor is true: his classes (and their difficulty) could stand with pride next to ANY georgia tech classes...AND he was a sarcastic (hilariously funny) ass. i'm going to miss him.

so a friend and i bet a dollar on the homework for this class: i'm betting it will be less than or equal to thompson's homework, he bet it would be more (quantity) and more difficult as well. so we shall see. (and note i'm not the one who only wanted to bet a dollar. i'd have bet ten).

however, i'm a little nervous. we have an "assessment" tomorrow (so the prof can find out how stupid we are?) during the last half of class AND IT'S BEEN TWO YEARS SINCE I HAD STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS I. so instead of looking over my old stuff i'm whining on here. makes sense, don't you think?

ok now i'm REALLY going to go study a little. just so i'm not THE DUMBEST person in the class.

Monday, August 20, 2007


i start master's classes today.

i'm sorta nervous...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The whole transplant thing

I think for much of my life I ignored the fact that my mom was really sick. Part of that was my optimism (or unwillingness to face reality), and part of it, I’m sure, was because she always played it down, refusing to talk about it unless something was going on with it. She didn’t like for anyone to go to the kidney doctor with her; didn’t like to talk about how the appointments went, and if we asked she’d always say, “It’s fine.”

Then in August of 2005 none of us could pretend anymore. Her kidney function had been dropping slowly but steadily for a while, and the doctor said it was time to start the process to get her on the transplant list. She was at 14 percent kidney function then. She went through all the tests at Emory and got on the list. During this time, I vividly remember confronting the fact that my mother was mortal and that she had a serious, life shortening (potentially life threatening) disease and that even if she got a transplant she could die in the OR. Finally facing the fact that this was real and that she wouldn’t just keep trucking along was a painful, scary process, at least for me. I wasn’t ready to give my mother up. I still needed her around. And I’d always known that most likely my parents would die before me but knowing it and realizing it are two totally different things. I spent many nights crumpled on Caleb’s chest, crying.

Eventually, the immediate panic wore off and it was more of an underlying dread. I had time to adjust to the fact that she’d most likely get a transplant and that the surgery, although possibly life threatening, had MUCH more of a chance of making her better than anything else. So I was excited and hopeful (and very tired of waiting for a donor). Months went by. Then we passed the year mark. In retrospect, I feel like we as a family should have explored the possibility of living donors who weren’t relatives. However, I think Mom would have gotten mad at us had we just sent out random letters or e-mails to friends and family asking them to get tested. If she has to get another transplant down the road (which is pretty likely, actually), I am TOTALLY going to ask friends/family if they want to get tested whether she wants me to or not. Anyway, back to the relevant discussion. At the year mark, I think we all started to get a little worried. They had said 8 to 9 months…and it had been longer. And her kidney function was hovering dangerously near 10% (that’s when they start considering dialysis, and people who have ever been on dialysis don’t do as well with transplants as those who haven’t).

November 2006. Still no word of a transplant. Her nephrologist scheduled a dialysis workup appointment for the Monday after thanksgiving day. The news of that was a huge blow to me—I can only imagine how Mom must have felt. All that waiting, kidneys hanging in there, and now with no transplant, having to consider dialysis and possibly decrease her chances of getting a successful transplant.

I must say, transplant and kidney stuff aside, this particular month was one of the most stressful of my life. I was about a month from graduating college, had no motivation due to all the turmoil in my life due to relationship worries and stress from school, and was borderline behind on schoolwork. I went home over thanksgiving with the intention of catching up. But of course I procrastinated the first day (Tuesday), because I’d just gotten home that evening! So Wednesday I was at Harry T’s in Carrollton getting my oil changed and car washed. My phone rang, and it was Amie. She almost never calls me from her cell so I answered it. She asked where I was and I told her. Recognizing that something was off (she sounded REALLY strained) I asked what was wrong and she said Emory had called and said Mom might have to come up there that night. I don’t remember the rest of the conversation. Feelings washed over me in rapid succession: relief, crazy screaming tearful joy, stark terror…I wanted to vomit. I told Harry’s people not to wash the car, just finish the oil and hurry. And I left. I got home (Mom was at David and Amie’s house—we were all going to have dinner there that night and she’d gone down early to help cook and help with Jenny). Daddy was asleep since he’d worked the night before. I decided not to wake him up in case it was a false alarm. (I did, however, sneak into his room and put the cordless phone RIGHT NEXT TO HIS FACE--you know, just in case). Then I called Mom and asked if she wanted me to pack a bag or anything just in case (meanwhile detachedly thinking, wow, we should have already done this—we knew it was coming and didn’t know when, like a baby, and you pack bags when you’re about to give birth…why the hell didn’t we??) and she said yeah so I packed a bunch of shit in a hurry and drove to Temple (David and Amie’s house) to wait with them. On the way there, I laughed, I cried, I prayed—and then I realized that if I prayed for her to get a kidney I was most likely praying for someone else to die. That made me stop in my tracks. I immediately stopped praying for her to get a kidney and instead prayed for God (assuming he’s up there listening) to do whatever he needed to do, but I was not going to pray for someone else to die.

Over the course of the afternoon/evening, Mom and Amie and I cooked dinner, Emory called to get height/weight/other info, we ate dinner, they called again just to say they didn’t know yet, Mom didn’t eat in case she had to have surgery, and we waited. Mom got a shower, in case she wouldn’t be able to the next few days. And we waited some more. I didn’t and couldn’t eat much because it all stuck in my throat. I seriously considered puking a couple times. At about 8:30, they called and said, come. We freaked out. It was the night before thanksgiving at 8:30 and we needed to be in downtown Atlanta, and who knew what traffic would be like?? We devised a plan. Mom and I would be in my car, David in his truck. David would lead because he could ride people’s bumpers with flashers on and flash his bright lights and presumably they’d be more intimidated by his truck and get over, out of the way. Halfway there (I told Mom we weren’t going over ninety, but really I think we were around 110 most of the time) the traffic sign showed a traffic jam on I-20. David called and we revised the plan: get on 85 north and let me be in front to weave through cars (carefully, of course) and go that way. We made it in less than an hour. Maybe even 30 minutes, I’m not sure. It’s kind of a blur.

After we’d been there an hour or so, we were told that the surgery wouldn’t be till the next morning and that if Mom wanted to eat she needed to before midnight. By then, Melissa and Derek were there so we (along with David) left to find food while mom got tests and checked in. We brought back McDonalds and all ate crowded in the room. Daddy found someone to work for him for a few days (he wasn’t off that week) and was waiting on them to get to the hospital in Rome and relieve him so he could come back to Atlanta. David left about midnight. Derek left at some point, don’t really remember when. When Daddy finally got there about 2 am, Melissa and I went to her house to sleep for a little while. On the way to her house, Mom called and said they’d postponed surgery and we didn’t need to be back at the hospital till eight or so.

Suddenly, it was five AM and Melissa was shaking me awake. When I woke up enough to realize what was going on, I understood that we needed to leave RIGHT THEN, that they were taking Mom back for prep at about 6:30 and if we didn’t hurry we might not see her before the surgery. We got there at six and sat around with her for a little while. Caleb came and sat with us. Then it was time for her to go be prepped for surgery. Watching them wheel her out and not dissolving into a crumpled sobbing heap on the floor was the single hardest thing I’ve ever done. Daddy went down there with her and the rest of us commenced many hours of waiting. I wanted to fall apart. I am SO GLAD that Caleb was there. To this day I wonder if he knows how much I needed him; couldn’t have done it without his strength.

Finally, they were done and she came back to the room. She was in A LOT of pain. Later we found out the pain was from the catheter, not the surgery, which explained a lot. Unfortunately it took a few days to realize that and by then we were all afraid she wasn’t going to recover well. On top of the fact that the kidney wasn’t working like it should’ve. Those three days were some of the most tense in my life. She didn’t feel any better, she felt like she’d been hit by a truck, the kidney wasn’t working and I could sense that we were all worried and she was giving up mentally. Then her blood sugar was high and I think that was pretty much the straw that broke the camel’s back for her. Somehow, Daddy—whether by force or coercion—MADE her try. Made her walk around the floor, made her try to use the restroom, made her try to eat and drink. Finally around the third day, the kidney started producing, they took the catheter out, she successfully navigated the restroom and began feeling better.

During this time, I didn’t do any schoolwork, of course. But it all turned out ok eventually; I just didn’t get much sleep the next few weeks.

After Mom got home, I thought everything was just great…until I realized she was very quiet and withdrawn and she shook a lot. I didn’t realize how different she felt until she told me one time she liked sleeping the most, because in her dreams she was really herself. I was horribly afraid she’d get depressed or give up, and for a few months I worried about it and she didn’t seem to be herself at all. Then one random Sunday I was at home for family dinner (I can’t believe she still cooked for us all every Sunday feeling like that. But maybe we gave her a sense of normalcy she didn’t feel the rest of the time. We tried to offer help many times because she was shaking so much, but she usually refused and tried her hardest to do it herself) and I looked at her and gasped. She was all, “What is it? A spider?? Where?” and I said, “Mom! You’re not shaking!” Turns out she randomly woke up one day and was herself and wasn’t shaking anymore. It was AWESOME. I didn’t realize how different she was until she was normal again.

Things trucked along for a while, and then suddenly she got CMV (cytomegalovirus). (Well, ok, she’d had a fever for about three weeks so she got labs done and that’s what it was). At the time of the transplant, everyone knew (transplant team, doctors, nurses, and they told us too) that the donor had had it before and Mom hadn’t so she didn’t have any antibodies. They didn’t seem too concerned about it though (she would be on an antiviral for a while after the transplant) so we weren’t either. Apparently, they ALL forgot to start testing for levels of the virus immediately after she went off the antiviral drug and she just hadn’t been tested for it. At all. Until she called them the FOURTH TIME complaining that she’d had a mild fever for 18 days and then for a week it was above 101. THEN they finally decided to make her come in and do labs (just normal labs, they STILL hadn’t realized they hadn’t been testing for CMV and should’ve). They called her and told her to come do more labs the next day to test for CMV because her white blood cell count was up and she had waay to much Rapamune in her system (apparently CMV screws with the liver and it’s ability to metabolize things, like medicine). And not to take Tylenol so as not to do permanent damage to her liver. So she went the next day and they tested for CMV. The nurse called her that afternoon and said she had it, and then went on to say something to the effect of: we should have been testing your CMV levels since you went off the antiviral in May, I can’t figure out why we didn’t. They decided to put her back on the antiviral pill and hope that fixed everything. So far it has. But I am still pretty torqued over the fact that they were completely delinquent in managing a pretty critical part of Mom’s care. CMV can be pretty freaking serious and can cause all sorts of organ damage, and they KNEW the donor had had it and Mom hadn’t and they should have been testing for it. And they (doctors in general) get all huffy when patients/their families ask probing questions or ‘why’ questions or ‘shouldn’t you do ___?’ questions. THIS is why, people. I like the ones that don’t get offended when patients ask lots of questions. I think that’s going to be my criterion for picking doctors from now on. (And don’t worry, I am ALWAYS polite and tactful when I ask—but I still ask). But I digress, again.

So now Mom doesn’t have any trace of CMV in her system, she feels like herself, her cysts have shrunk markedly and she can eat protein again (just not much sugar b/c the prednisone they have her on for anti-rejection is screwing with her ability to process sugar and she’s taking insulin pills, which she hates, but at least at this point it feels like a fair trade-off). All in all, it’s pretty good so far.

I’ve been meaning to post about the whole experience for several reasons…so I won’t forget, to get it off my chest, and just in case people wanted to know. I would like to see my family evolve somewhat such that we’re not all off in our own little hole when it comes to medical issues…and Mom has been the hardest one to crack. Sometimes I wonder how she made it through all these years and especially the transplant essentially alone. She never sought out PKD support groups or wanted to go to the transplant support groups at Emory. Still doesn’t. I told her several times if she ever had any desire to go to one I’d go with her and would be very glad to do it…but I think she just deals with these things differently. If it were me, I’d be seeking out all the people in my boat that I could, just to know what to expect and have people in my life that totally, completely understand in ways that my unaffected friends/family couldn’t. (I accidentally did that with my hearing issues in college, and to this day I have a bond with the Sound Off people…something about shared differences brings people together).

Ok. I’m done. I don’t think I left anything out.

Monday, August 13, 2007

i want to curl up in a ball and hide for a few days...and i'm not even sure why. feeling emotional i guess, with no real explanation for it or, because i don't know WHY, no cure either. :(

Thursday, August 09, 2007



sooo.....driving to work this morning, slept a little later than usual, showered, shaved, AND put on lotion, rewarded myself with a starbuck's coffee...everything was cruisin along just fine.

and THEN. some large pointy thing flies out of nowhere on the interstate and puts a huge chip AND six inch long crack in my freaking windshield. the kind of crack you look at and go...ooh. that's gonna spread big-time.

and the worst part? i don't know if they're going to let me autocross with it. and there's a driver development saturday and autocross sunday, both of which i'm already registered for. sigh. plus also i'm not sure where i'm going to get $500 to replace my windshield.

my coffee wasn't as good after that. :( cause i was in a bad mood and all.

anyone know a good glass shop that won't rip me off just because i'm a female?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

random mullings

-why can't life be more like it was in the 1800's? i think work would be much more rewarding if it were for one's own or one's family's benefit. plus, it would help with procrastination because if you just didn't (milk your cows/weed your garden/cook/insert chores necessary for survival here) you'd die. that's a pretty strong deterrent for procrastination, i think.

-why do excessive amounts coffee make you have to poo? oh, they don't make you have to poo? well they do me. and it bothers me cause i like coffee. i guess it keeps me more regular though.

-humans should be able to fly. like birds. then we wouldn't have to pay $145 for skydiving. however, i am glad that skydiving is possible, cause it's a whole lot better than the dreams i have where i can fly. those take effort; skydiving didn't.

-speaking of which, do any of you people ever dream that you can fly? i do. i know my mom does. but everyone else i've talked to just looks at me like i'm nuts when i'm all, "skydiving is awesome! it's like when you dream you're flying--only better!".......what.......why are you looking at me like that?? geez. unimaginative people.

-ripping cd's onto iTunes takes a really long time. so long, in fact, that i only have about a third of them on there and the only thing keeping me from doing more is the TIME. and the repetition. i am NOT GOOD with repetition, generally speaking.

-i wish i was at the beach right now. but then, i always wish that.

-finally, on a more serious note: that bridge that was freaky. and scary. and as an engineer my heart goes out to any engineers involved in inspecting/repairing/testing the bridge. not just because there will be finger pointing and lawsuits and forensic studies, but because whether any of them were actually responsible or not, it's probably in their nature to FEEL responsible and beat themselves up about it. it also brought home a point personally--joining the order of the engineer and pledging to check and re-check and triple check calculations means more than just a pretty ceremony and belonging to something. it means you are accepting responsibility for LIVES. i'm going to go check my last bracing calculations again. and i've been keeping the sheer amount of responsibility in mind when i design stuff. i won't give my calculations/designs to my boss until i feel that i'd be okay if my entire family were standing under whatever connection i just designed.

-that was longer than i meant for it to be. sorry.

going to east/west bistro in athens tonight with amber and delta. i can't wait! (and i can stop by the old house and get a carload of stuff. and my lovely automatic toothbrush).


Monday, August 06, 2007

Burn all the candles out
Make a wish, but not aloud
Re-live the here and now
To see you now and then
I'm a revolving door
I've seen it all before
I will begin again
But I can't start until I've seen the end

I took a look around
I believe in hand me downs
The treasures that we found
When we were brand new

Now that we're old and worn
A little ripped and torn
One day we'll be re-born
One day I will meet you right back here
Once again
Stop me so I can begin

End over end
I'm circling

I'm feeling out of luck
Maybe I just feel too much
That old familiar touch
Will always sting my skin
The good in everyone
The ties we've left undone
The heart that moves your blood
All the things that bring me right back here
Once again
Stop me so I can begin

End over end
I'm circling

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


and i totally didn't remember that my last post discussed that very topic. i think i am cracking up. and really tired. i'm gonna freaking get like 12 hours in today so i can eat lunch with the athens crew tomorrow and then go home relatively early. :)

sweaty armpits!

so i think i'm going to ask my doctor for drysol. this is getting ridiculous. i think i could keep several small potted plants alive with the liquid that comes from my underarms. every white shirt that i have bought within the last year has DISGUSTING looking yellow stains, usually after about three or four times of wearing them. and my shirts are always damp when i take them off at the end of the day. it's driving me crazy. plus, that's just gross when people have permanent wet spots under their arms, and suddenly I AM ONE OF THOSE GROSS PEOPLE. ew.