Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A True Story About a Terrible 'Taint Rash

This is not a forward. This happened to an acquaintance, and this is the story as told to me over a few days as the affliction played out. I'm posting this story without the victim's permission, so no names are used -- just Guy and Girlfriend. But I felt it was a story that should be told.

Guy gets a rash in his 'taint area. Doesn't go to the doctor. Waits until it's so bad he's almost screaming in pain -- it's dried and cracked and bleeding. Guy goes to the emergency room.

He's put in stirrups, naked from the waist down. The doctors are in shock. More doctors come. Guy hears many doctors saying "whoa" or similar. They hang a curtain across his midsection, to protect his privacy (ha!), and medical students begin parading through. They come in small groups and stand there impressed as they inspect his private area.

He's sent home after about six hours on display. The nurses "dress" his afflicted area and show him how to apply said dressing himself. Girlfriend goes to pick up Guy at hospital. He walks to the car as if he's straddling a hobbyhorse. When he gets home, Guy realizes that the dressing is attached with tape to a very hairy area. He pulls it off, screaming like a lost child. Girlfriend tries really hard not to laugh.

The next morning, Guy applies the entire dressing with about one square inch of tape, total. He begins to walk toward the door, and the dressing slides out of his pant leg. Not enough tape. He inquires about the use of maxi pads as a dressing-holder. Turns out maxi pads don't work with boxers.

A few hours later, Girlfriend receives text message from Guy:
"In CVS. Buying Depends."

The next day, Guy does in fact wear the Depends, and Girlfriend notes that they make him look like a baboon. Apparently Depends have a reservoir in the butt to hold bodily expulsions. And it sticks out. Guy loves the Depends, and wears them proudly.

But the 'taint rash is still very painful. Guy goes to a dermatologist and gets a cortisone shot directly in his 'taint. Guy is then lectured on allowing the area to air out.

I am pleased to report a happy ending. Guy was fully healed after a week or so.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wegman's: Like Times Square on New Year's Eve.

I went to Wegman's today on my way home from work; I left early to meet the roofer. It was about 12:30pm when I arrived, and the place was jammed, but I had to pick up the free-range turkey Steve had ordered.

If you've ever been to a Wegman's, you know that it is normally grocery nirvana. However, there are so few of them in the metro area that the stores drown in a sea of people prior to any national holiday. There were three Fairfax County Police Department patrol cars doing crowd control around the parking lot, and Wegman's seemed to have a lot of security staff on hand as well.

I got perhaps the fifth-worst parking space in existence there, and I trotted toward the distant entrance. By trotting I probably got in front of about 20 people who were doing more of a mosey. (Don't these people have jobs?) Inside, it was chaos. I knew it was going to be rough, so I put my New York on.

I grabbed a handbasket instead of a cart, so I could move quickly. Fast and light. I needed eggs and trashbags, both on the far side from the turkey pickup. I dashed around slow-moving carts and moms with kids, swerving through the aisles at a breakneck pace. Got the eggs and the trashbags, and steamed toward the meat section. I needed pancetta for my turkey, so I grabbed some prepackaged stuff at the deli, and went and picked up the big bird. At this point my basket was full, so I heaved the very cold 14-pounder under my left arm and plowed on toward the checkout, tossing two loaves of fresh-baked bread on top of my basket while en route. I got in the express line and checked out without any major incident.

I considered it a victory to have gotten in and out in 35 minutes, and I made it home in time for the roof guy. I vowed I would not return to Wegman's until after New Year's Day, and I certainly would never go to Wegman's on Thanksgiving week ever again.

Unfortunately, when I was putting away the pancetta, I saw that two of the three packages expired 10 days ago. I nearly wept. At $6 for 3 oz. (each), I have to return them. Plus, I need the pancetta for my turkey and Wegman's is the only place I could find it.

Which means that tonight, I have to go back to Wegman's.

More Nerdy License Plates

Both seen in the past week:



I guess it's good to be proud of what you do...

Monday, November 19, 2007

No Loaded Guns in the Building

Last weekend, Steve and I attended "The Nation's Gun Show" at the Dulles Expo in Chantilly, Va. I went out of curiosity, and I found that what you hear on the news is true -- you really don't need anything but cash/check/credit to walk out with a high-powered rifle/AK-47/12 ga. shotgun/copious ammo/etc. I know this because Steve bought a gun there, and no records were made or taken during the transactions other than those needed to get his cash. While I support the right to bear arms, guaranteed in the Second Amendment, I firmly believe in background checks and waiting periods. This gun show situation is a massive loophole.

[Update: This page states the following:
Are background checks required at gun shows? No

No state requirement that a Brady criminal background check be done on people buying guns at gun shows if they are sold by "private" individuals or gun "collectors." Gun shows can operate on a "no questions asked, cash-and-carry" basis, making it easy for criminals and even juveniles to buy as many guns as they want at gun shows, including assault weapons. No records are required to be kept on gun show sales by private individuals or gun collectors, making it almost impossible for police to trace such weapons if they are used in a crime.

I guess the upshot is that, even if you have a huge booth at the gun show with a company name on it, and you take credit cards and offer 100s of items for sale, all you have to do is call yourself a "collector" and you're off the hook re: record keeping.]

Clientele at the gun show included lots of older men in ill-fitting mossy oak camo, many fathers and young sons, and lots of military-looking guys with high-and-tights. Needless to say, there were few women present; the ladies room was very clean. And, based on the variety of people walking around, it would not surprise me to find that some of the patrons were gang members and some were white supremacists. Not that I would admit to saying that certain people "look like" gang members or white supremacists. But take my word for it when I say that the secret is definitely out among the hoi polloi.

Apparently they've had some sort of problems with people bringing loaded guns into the building, evidenced by the signs below. In case you can't read them (cell phone photos again), they say: "UNLOAD YOUR GUNS. ALL OF THEM" and "NO LOADED GUNS IN THE BUILDING."

Included for sale at many tables were historical military artifacts, which is understandable. What is less understandable, to me, however, is the number of artifacts floating around with swastikas on them. I saw at least four tables with Nazi armbands and flags for sale. My thoughts on this: The people who think Nazi stuff is cool are the same people who are likely to go shoot up their high schools. So the only use I can see for this is to allow the crazies to self-select so law enforcement will know to keep an eye on them.

I know we have freedom of speech in this country, and I support that 100%. But what's wrong with these people that they aren't ashamed to sell this stuff? Just because you're free to sell it doesn't mean it's appropriate to do so.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Alien in My Intestines

After a delay due to family obligations, here's the first installment of our Ireland story. It starts on the Thursday night before we left.

I was feeling a bit out of sorts around dinner time, and unwisely consumed a buffalo burger, thinking it would help clean me out. Unfortunately, if anything, it made the situation worse. I began to feel a sharp ache in my lower right abdomen. The rest of my evening was spent more in the bathroom than out of it.

As the night wore on, I found myself heading to the bathroom again and again with nothing to show for it. The pain in my abdomen became excruciating. I began to wonder if I had appendicitis. The next day I had planned to work from home, and by the morning, the abdominal pain wouldn't even allow me to stand up straight. I started visualizing the scene from Alien in which the alien bursts from the guy's stomach.
My mom always told us the story of her cousin who died of appendicitis as a teenager. She wasn't feeling well on the day of her prom, but said nothing because she didn't want to miss the dance. The cousin died of a burst appendix that afternoon.

And here I was debating whether I should go to the hospital. If I went to the hospital, I might not be able to board the plane at 7pm. If I waited out the illness and skipped the medical care ... what if my appendix burst somewhere over Iceland?

I spoke with Steve about my plight. He noted that he'd suffered through a very similar problem about two weeks earlier. Thinking back, I remembered Steve walking hunched over with his hand on his stomach. At the time, I thought he was being melodramatic. (Example #457 of karma kicking me in the ass.)

Ultimately, I popped four Advil and we headed to the airport. That night on Aer Lingus was a long, painful one, and once we landed in Dublin on Saturday morning, I found I could barely stand up. It took me a moment to straighten out. I barely remember going through Customs. We picked up our luggage, some weird bagels to go for breakfast, and went to the rental car lot. After a few shaky trips around the parking lot, Steve seemed to have the right side stick shift fairly under control.

A couple of hours later, we arrived at our Belfast hotel and attempted to check in. It was 11 a.m. local time; check-in was 2 p.m., and the Radisson SAS Belfast refused to allow us to check in three hours early. (This is the first time a hotel has denied such a request in all my recent trans-Atlantic travels.) We left our car in the hotel lot, grabbed a tourist map and trudged wearily into the center of town, unfortunately forgetting our camera. Four more Advil later, I found that, if I didn't twist any muscles in my torso, the pain would stay bearable. If I tried to twist my body at all, it felt like that alien was trying to punch its way out of the right side of my large intestine.

Near City Hall, we hit the excellent Tourist Information Centre and bought a couple of driving maps that would serve us well throughout the trip. Then, we boarded a double-decker tourist bus for a tour of the city. Normally, we would prefer to check out a town on foot, but I was in no shape to hoof it all over Belfast. Not to mention it was about 45 degrees F and it had started to rain.

I'd like to say the tour was exciting and really made the stop in Belfast worthwhile. But truly, although we enjoyed seeing the murals and peace walls on Shankill Road and Falls Road, the epicenters of the Troubles, the best thing that happened on the tour bus was that we got some much-needed sleep. I wasn't even that embarrassed about it. When the tour ended, it was 1:45, and we hailed a taxi for the mile-or-so trip back to the hotel. The cab driver was shocked that we'd need a taxi for such a short trip, but again, I was in no shape to walk, and I was not even a little embarrassed.

Blissfully, we checked in back at the hotel. I collapsed into the bed in a fetal position and slept for a couple of hours. Around 5 p.m. we ordered some room service. I ate a very small portion and fell asleep again until the next morning.

I improved slowly over the next few days, eating bland foods and having the occasional half-pint of Guinness or Smithwick's, which Steve suggested had medicinal properties.

By Wednesday I felt like I had finally been cured. The alien had been beaten into submission.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Stupid Unicorns

Wow, it's been a long time since I've updated. I still haven't gotten to our Ireland recap, but it's on my to-do list. Hopefully things have calmed down enough at this point that I'll have time to post regularly again.

The big news today is that Steve and I have been undergoing some fertility testing, and today we had our "what now" meeting with the doctor. At the appointment today, he confirmed that I have what's known as a unicornuate uterus (UU), which is basically half a uterus and only one fallopian tube. I have two ovaries, but my right one is just floating around in there without a tube attached. Unicornuate uterus is often associated with recurrent loss, second-trimester loss, incompetent cervix, lots of bedrest, an inability to carry twins, and a 40% live-birth rate. How does this happen? About 3 in 10,000 women have this condition (2-4 % of women have any uterine anomaly, and only 1% of those anomalies are UUs), and it's something that happens when we're fetuses ourselves and one half of the uterus just fails to form. So, those of you who know me in person: You always knew I was unusual ... now you know exactly *how* unusual.

The doctor recommended a medicated cycle, which we'll look at starting after the first of the year, when our new insurance starts. It's good to have a plan. Even though my condition has a really stupid name.

One positive piece of information I received today was that even though a lot of women with a UU have just one kidney, I have two. So that's something.

This news scares the crap out of me re: a potential future pregnancy, but all we can do is press on. And I figure, I've already lost two pregnancies, so with a 40% success rate, the odds have moved into my favor, right? (I'll just keep telling myself that.)

When I learned a month ago that I might have this condition, I started looking for info online. There's not a lot of stuff out there -- there's not even a wikipedia page -- but I did find some good resources. You can also find good information by searching for "Mullerian anomalies," of which UU is one type. In case anyone stumbles upon this page while seeking info after a diagnosis, here's a list of some useful resources.

Good Information
Positive Stories
Yahoo Groups (membership required to read and participate in message boards)