Posted by: shadowcatdancing | February 3, 2010

A New Semester

The fall semester came and went without my noting it here, and I am currently watching one of my classes for Spring work on their drafts.  The nose has healed very well, and the major result of the surgery is that I am now wearing hats any time the sun is up.  As winter came on I also noted that my new nose was far more sensitive to cold than the old one, but that will fade as skin becomes more thoroughly integrated into its new location.

Fall was quite  busy, but Spring looks to be a little less so on the academic front at least, as I am teacher one fewer classes, but the mix of classes gives me almost as many units.  I have no idea what summer or fall will bring this year, as budgets and course offerings continue to contract.

The weather has been delightfully rainy this last month, though it is sunny today and has been for the last few days.  I have always loved rain, and would welcome it even if we didn’t need it so badly after years of below normal rainfall.  I don’t know if it is the wetter weather or some other factor, but my arthritic joints are complaining more about this winter than they have the last few.  The right shoulder is particularly difficult just now, which makes me grateful for my iPhone since keyboarding is uncomfortable and I can use the iPhone one handed.

This is the last little bit of relative peace before the papers start coming in and I’m trying to enjoy it.  The deluge starts Thursday with the first set of papers.

Posted by: shadowcatdancing | July 24, 2009

Nose Job

It has been a while since I’ve written anything, partially because summer school is always very time consuming, but mostly because the nose surgery made it at first impossible, and then only difficult to wear my glasses, and none of the work-arounds I came up with, including contact lenses that let me drive, worked really well for the computer.  I got the final stage done yesterday, and can wear my glasses again, though at the moment my nose is sore enough that I can’t wear them very long before I have to take them off and resort to the ice pack.

All is going well.  To recap, a small malignant melanoma had to be removed from the end of my nose.  The location made the removal and reconstruction much more complicated than it would have been had it occurred in any other place, but it was early, removed completely, with clean margins, and there is very little chance of any spread.  One of the things that has amused me throughout this process is the number of people who feel they have to reassure me that everything will be alright.  I understand relative risks, and of all the things that might kill me, this is actually very low on the list, as long as it is properly taken care of, which I am doing.  The other side of that of course, is the number of people I have wound up having to reassure that I really would be alright.

This is my first experience with facial surgery, but not my first surgery.  All of the others, except a tonsillectomy when I was 10, have been orthopedic, and have been spread out over better than 30 years, so I have watched attitudes and practices change.  My first knee surgey, at age 18, had me admitted to the hospital the night before, kept in bed for 24 hours after surgery, and in the hospital for a few days.  That same surgery, if it were done today, would be an outpatient procedure.  I have heard some people talk about his as a decline in care, but I see just the opposite.  I would rather be home, and I have been impressed in my last 2 surgical experiences, but of which were relatively minor, by the efforts made to accommodate my particular needs and keep me comfortable, rather than carrying on by routine procedure, including making sure they kept a blanket over my arthritic shoulder in the cold OR even though I was going to be asleep.  It is not that surgical teams in the past were uncaring, but that they did not really engage with me as an individual, seeming a bit disconcerted when I, having had a spinal instead of a general anesthetic, was awake and talking to them in the recovery room.

It may be a difference in provider, rather than the general attitude in the medical community.  All of my recent procedures have been done through Kaiser, and the earlier procedures were private practice doctor and hospitals.  If it is a feature of Kaiser’s corporate culture, I have to say it is a positive one, and I have found the integration of care I get at Kaiser to be superior to that I have gotten from stand-alone physicians, no matter how good the individual physician I have had in the past.

Posted by: shadowcatdancing | June 8, 2009

New Look

At least one of my 3 or 4 readers disliked the black background, so I have changed the look of the blog.

I am also considering using this blog to publish the novel that was my Master’s Thesis.  It will require a little polishing and updating first, so I’m thinking about a chapter a week.

So, all 3 or 4 of you, do you like this look?  And aare you interested in the novel?

Posted by: shadowcatdancing | June 2, 2009

Blood Glucose Meters

I have been diabetic for several years now, and taking insulin for the last few months.  At times, when I was adjusting medication, in particular when I was working on getting the dosage of the long-acting insulin I am taking adjusted, a blood-glucose meter and test strips was important, and I was testing half a dozen times a day. Now that things are pretty much under control, I test much less frequently, just to make sure that things are staying under control.

At no time, even when I was testing almost obsessively, was a glucose meter my “lifeline” as one of the ads would have it.  Nor does it much matter which brand of meter I use.  I certainly don’t care whether it is “customisable” with different colored plastic panels.  No meter is going to give me any more freedom than any other meter, and all of them require a blood sample, so the line about “no more pricking your fingers” is just short of an outright lie.  You have to prick yourself somewhere, and I have always found my fingers to be the most practical.  I could choose somewhere else, but that is equally true for all meters.

And that, of course, is the manufacturers’ real problem.  All the meters are essentially the same.  The adult diabetic market is huge, and growing, and they each want their piece of it, but they can’t give us any real reason to choose their meter over the other guy’s.

I have news for you, folks.  Insulting my intelligence with silly ads will not win me over.

Posted by: shadowcatdancing | May 29, 2009

Skin Off My Nose

I had a consultation with head and neck surgery today, and got everything set up to take the dark spot, and 1cm of surrounding tissue, off the end of my nose.  The surgeon was very reassuring, which ironically for me, had the opposite effect.

I am not scared, of even worried really, but I find myself very depressed this evening.  Nothing has changed, except that everything is scheduled.  I don’t know anything tonight that I didn’t know this morning, but I’m still down tonight, for no particular reason.

Posted by: shadowcatdancing | May 22, 2009

End of Semester

Grades are in, and I have a little more than three weeks before Summer School starts.  I looked at my last post and realized a lot had happened since I watched the mallard come in for a landing in the Koi pond.  The end of the semester and the work involved in organizing the workshop/ball for my dance group coincided with a bunch of doctor visits for various things.  My blood sugar is now under good control, but a sleep study has left me with an appointment to pick up a titrating CPAP machine in a couple of weeks.  The sleep apnea they discovered can’t be very severe, since the appointment they made was more than a month after the sleep study.

More worrying is the dark spot removed from the end of my nose last week.  It turned out to be a thin melanoma, so I am waiting for an appointment with head and neck surgey to take a bit more skin off my nose.  It shows no sign of having spread, so once that is done it will simply mean regular checks and obsessive use of sunscreen, hats and long sleeves.

On a more cheerful note, my dance group will be dancing in Ashland this summer, and we are all looking forward to that.  I will try to keep up with the blog more regularly, at least until summer school hits, but the best laid plans …

Posted by: shadowcatdancing | March 31, 2009

More evidence of Spring

Mallard visits the Koi pond

Mallard visits the Koi pond

As I was walking across campus this morning I saw him come in for a landing in the koi pond.  Ducks are regular visitors to the pond every spring, and sometimes well into summer.  One year a pair of mallards nested under a tree by the pond and I got to watch the baby ducks swimming along behind mama in the pond all through summer school.  The school blocked off the nesting site with orange construction netting, and after the family moved out they trimmed up the bottom of the tree, so there isn’t a hidden space to nest anymore.  But we still get seasonal visitors.

Posted by: shadowcatdancing | March 25, 2009

Nature Abhors a Monoculture



On my daily walks, undertaken to get back to an activity I enjoy, help control my blood sugar, and get my knees and hips into better shape for summer dancing, I have begun to contemplate lawns.

I have never been very fond of lawns, and the greater the manicured perfection, the less attractive I find them.  Even as a kid, who routinely walked barefoot through the grass, I was more anxious to run my toes through a yard overrun with clover and the little flowers we called lawn daisies than something that looked like a putting green.

As I walk around the neighborhood, I notice that even those working hard to maintain lawn perfection inevitably loose the battle to a wide variety of intruders, and as I was as I child, I am far more drawn to the disordered profusion of lawns overrun with weeds wildflowers.  I like them even better if they are knee-deep.

I may never have been attracted to lawns, but meadows — meadows I have always loved.

Posted by: shadowcatdancing | March 19, 2009



I love daffodils.

As my biology teacher/Shakespeare fan father would remind me every srping, they are related to leeks, and now are often used by people of Welsh ancestry to celebrate St Davy’s Day, instead of wearing a leek in a Monmouth cap.

Which gives me another reason to love them, as I can, like Henry, say “For I am Welsh, you know,” or at least as much as Henry was.  And unlike Fluellen, I won’t make you eat them.

Posted by: shadowcatdancing | February 16, 2009

Fat Acceptance

I’ve been having a problem with this recently.  I have always been fat.  I was a fat child, a fat teen, and a fat adult.  It is what I am.  I accepted that some time ago.  I spent most of my late childhood and teen years on a diet of some kind, and the primary result was becoming a fatter adult than I might otherwise have been.  I realized that in my mid-twenties, and though I had the inevitable bouts of guilt in reaction to what society and media told me about myself, I coped pretty well.

Until my early 40s, I was a relatively healthy fat person, though I had been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome at 25.  My biggest health problems were in the form of joint damage resulting from child and teen years enjoying gymnastics.  In my early 40s, as a result of the last attempt to repair some of that damage to my left knee, I was actively working at getting exercise, and was probably more fit than I had been in my 30s when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.  That brought on one of those bouts of guilt, but with minimal oral medication and care about what I ate, I controlled my blood sugar, and as a side effect of the medication, lost 40 pounds.  That brought praise from friends and family, and complicated my relationship with my weight.

Over the years since, I have had growing joint problems, and have had to increase the oral medications, but kept things under pretty good control, until last fall.  The sugars started getting a little high, and I worked very hard to control them with diet and exercise, and the maximum oral medication I could take, but about 3 weeks ago I had to start taking insulin, and have been adjusting it upward every week since, and still don’t really have the sugars under control yet.  This has been a serious blow to the peace I though I had made with being fat.

I have ample evidence that this is not my fault, that I am not Jabba the Hut.  My doctor was careful to assure me that it was not my fault, that I hadn’t done anything wrong, that type 2 diabetics eventually have to go on insulin.  I can eat all that right things, and not eat very much, and exercise, and still have blood sugars too high.  I know it isn’t because I have sinned.

But that doesn’t keep me from feeling guilty.

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