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Sunday, January 28, 2018

Don't Call Me Grandma

My eldest and her husband became parents yesterday.  I was privileged to be present for the birth..and much of the hard labor. I came away with that experience wondering just how the world's population got this big? OUCH. I also wondered why anyone would do it a second time ON PURPOSE. 

You see, I never experienced what I likened to pushing a watermelon through a straw. While I had a nightmarish labor with Katie, I ended up having a C-Section (under general anesthesia) and another C-Section with Sophia. I really didn't know how the conclusion of labor works!

The hospital had implemented a lame policy due to the heavy flu season. Only two visitors were allowed in the room at a time, and the baby's daddy counts as a visitor. When arriving on the floor, a visitor is required to sign in and get a badge with the room number printed on it. For the entire day, the family members and best friends/photographers were swapping badges and taking turns in the room with Katie and Christian. How this prevents the flu I have no idea! The same number of people go in and out of the room...just two at a time. The policy makes no sense, but it was strictly enforced by a person at a desk with security camera feeds on two monitors. 

It was hard to get text replies from inside the room, as the visitors were not exactly focused on their phones. All I know is that it was about two hours of "We're going to start pushing soon."  Finally, the pushing started, with daddy and photographer in the room. About an hour had passed with no word.  Then a text came in: "We're going to take a break. We aren't making much progress." Uh-oh. Time for this mom to feel a tinge of concern.  I asked to switch places with the photographer since nothing was imminent so I could get the scoop and make sure my baby wasn't in distress. 

When I arrived in the room, my daughter was in severe pain, with muscle spasms in her thighs and arms between contractions. The nurse said there was no progress and she had called for the doctor--who hadn't even been in there yet! When the doctor arrived, he checked her progress and coached her through a couple of contractions, which I think helped her know exactly how to push, and helped us to know how to help her. Suddenly I was a labor co-coach! 

After about 20 minutes or more of helping by holding one of her legs up and watching for progress down below, I realized that the photographer was now locked out.  I convinced the nurse to let her in and let me stay. I texted her and told her that the nurse gave permission for her to enter, and shortly after that, the Gandalf at the desk called the nurse to verify our story. 

Now Katie had her best friend to help coach her breathing and take pictures, her husband to hold her leg and count down the pushing, and her mom to hold her other leg up and watch for signs of an emerging infant. No one else wanted to look but I was mesmerized by the unbelievable sight of a hairy little scalp emanating from between my daughter's thighs. 

She had a very rough time for a spell. Before I came in, the epidural had apparently had a leak in the line, so she wasn't getting medicated. Once that was fixed, she did better for a short time, but then her muscles began cramping and she was getting exhausted. Just when the head began to become visible, a nurse noticed the epidural pump was empty. She went to get a refill and reported back that both med carts were empty and she had called the pharmacy for more.  She never got that refill. That poor woman ended up with "natural" childbirth after all...except she was confined to her back because she still had the catheter in her spinal column! 

When there was enough head showing the nurse called the doctor back in and things got really intense. He suited up, removed the bottom of the table and set up what amounted to a big Hefty bag under Katie's bum to catch the byproducts of childbirth. I watched as he gingerly slid his fingers between the baby's head and vaginal tissues, gently stretching the skin and lubricating the exit. Katie said it burned, but I think it's what helped her avoid an episiotomy. 

I kept staring at this hairy little bump down there and wondering where the face was. After a few contractions, the rest of the head emerged and the baby was facing directly toward me! This was the only time during the whole affair that I was taken aback. The face was slightly bluish, covered in the waxy vernix caseosa, and scrunched up in an angry grimace. My mind immediately processed this as Kuato. Oh Baby E, forgive me for thinking you were Kuato for that short moment!

Next, the doctor guided one arm out, and then the other, and the rest of the baby girl slid right out. The doctor placed her on Katie's chest and the nurses went straight to work wiping her off and suctioning her nose and mouth. It was an overwhelmingly emotional experience for us all. The doctor clamped the cord and handed Christian the scissors for him to cut it. 

As all that was happening I was watching what was going on at the bottom of the bed. No one ever told me just how much blood and fluid would be pouring out of my daughter! (Remember, I was asleep for C-Sections!) After the cord was cut, the doctor pulled out the rest of the cord and the placenta and dumped it in a bin. Some bloody fluid was drawn up with a syringe and set aside. So much red liquid kept gushing out of my daughter that after a few minutes I began to wonder if she might be in danger of hemorrhaging! She was quite uncomfortable as he tended to his business of removing every bit of tissue and clot that he could from deep inside her. He administered some medication to help stop the bleeding and then he picked up a suture needle. 

Katie was holding the baby with her left hand. I took her right hand in mine and said, "Squeeze my hand, not the baby." She didn't know why and then suddenly OUCH. He put two stitches in her, "to make it look good."

What a privilege it was to see my grandbaby brought into the world. What an honor it was to be able to be a part of such an intense and important day of their lives. It is an experience I will never forget and I will always be grateful for. What an absolute joy it was to see my daughter nursing her child and my son-in-law diapering and cuddling his tiny daughter and comforting his wife. 

I had not known the name of my granddaughter until after I left the delivery room. Grandma Linda was the next to go in and came back with a report of her first name: Evelyn. It wasn't until Grandpa Rod came out from his turn that we found out her middle name: Elizabeth--the same as mine! Evelyn Elizabeth. A beautiful name, thoughtfully chosen. 

No one was allowed to post the name or photos online until Katie did so the next morning, but I texted it to friends and family because HOW COULD I NOT?

I left Auntie Sophia (I like to call her Tía Sophia because isn't that cute?) to hold her tiny niece while I went and Jamba Juice and food for everyone. When I returned I tidied up the room and we left the exhausted new parents to rest. 

When we returned the following day with Katie's favorite lunch, I was amazed at how she had bounced back already. She had good color, was getting out of bed and walking, and she was nursing like a pro. Mom and baby both looked content. She did so much better than I ever did! What a strong, amazing woman she has become. She has a true parenting partner in Christian and they both have more than enough love to give this precious little one. I am proud of them both.

Welcome to the world Evelyn Elizabeth! GG loves you!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Why Can’t My Kid Ever Seem to Get the Medical Help She Needs??

My poor daughter has been constant PAIN.

After SEVEN MONTHS of suffering and mom fighting for her, she finally had an MRI last week. The results? HER BACK IS BROKEN.  Literally.  She has a fractured spine.

I am so flippin fed up with the horrid medical system. SEVEN MONTHS.  I asked for an MRI way back in April. Our family physician was worthless... she literally told Sophia that “everyone has back pain” and that she would have it the rest of her life and told her to take ibuprofen.

When she didn’t get better after 3 months and several weeks of PT the dr finally ordered another x-ray, which was “negative” and recommended she see a specialist.  But no one would see her except for Rady Children’s Orthopedics (who I already hate due to her mismanaged broken ankle of 2 -1/2 years ago). When we finally got an appointment do you think we saw a dr.? NOPE.  A PA took a full spine X-ray, which shows a crooked spine—🙄. PT was ordered but i fought their stupid internal referral system (my insurance does not require preauthorization for PT) for FIVE WEEKS. She finally got an evaluation for PT on the first day of school. 😡
When her pain got so bad one day that she was limping and called to be picked up from school early I took her to Children’s Urgent Care where the dr advised us to go their ER where she wouldn’t have to wait, but just get an x-ray, and he would call ahead.  Well that didn’t happen. We waited 2 hours for an ER Dr to say he couldn’t do anything for her and didn’t want to expose her to any radiation. He said she needs to see Ortho and I told him I had been calling to get her an appointment but they didn’t have any appointments available.   I still have to pay for both the Urgent Care and the ER bills....

I finally got her in to the real Ortho and he advised us to quit PT because it wasn’t helping, and agreed that an MRI was in order, and as soon as the MRI was authorized they would call us to schedule.  Two weeks later I called to inquire.... of course it had been authorized, but no one bothered to call.

Once the MRI was complete, the hospital told us we would get a call in 2-3 days with the result.  HAHA. You guessed it. I called after 5 days and was told the results were in but there was no one there who could give me the report.  I finally got a call from a nurse today. I asked for a copy of the MRI report and a note for school and she told me she couldn’t do that. I’ll have to try to figure out how to obtain those online with MyChart—which i know from experience is not updated in a timely fashion.

Treatment will be 3 months in a back brace with PT (because that worked so well the first two times) and no physical activity at all. They are supposed to call me back when they have a brace for her... but we are getting on a plane to Atlanta Wednesday. Do you think we’ll have it before we go? I have little faith.... 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

I Just Can't Say Goodbye

I'm no good today.  I can't stop crying. I'm a wreck.  My best friend... more than a best friend.... is moving in a couple weeks. We've been inseparable for 18 years. No one else gets me--truly gets me.  I'm so sad. I'm gonna be completely empty inside. 

We have been through so much together. She was there holding my hand in the hospital when I was about to have my C-Section. She was here visiting when I had ankle surgeries. I went to see her when she had her broken neck repaired.  

We went to our first convention together. We did our first cosplay together. We went to Hawaii together.  We celebrated each others' milestone birthdays, and all the other ones in between. We made crafts together and gave each other homemade gifts. I taught her birding and she started doing the Christmas Bird Count with me.  

We raised teenagers together. She saw my kids graduate and perform in plays. She even went to open house at school as the "other mother" (that phrase turned a few heads!)  Our families shared holidays together. I stood by her side as she and her husband renewed their vows.  We went to each others' kids' weddings. 

We organized womens events and food drives together and we sang together in church. When I left that church I lost all my friends there except her. 

Her and her husband opened their home to us when we were evacuated from firestorms and when they were sealing our floor and I was pregnant I stayed at their house to avoid the fumes. I went with her to help clean out her parents house after her mom died (though I admit I was in a bit of a funk and not much help). 

We have different views on a lot of things, but she's the only person that i can have a conversation about them with and not get mad or argue or think the other person is an idiot. We respect each others' opinions and I've learned a lot from her. She is smart and brave and has a heart the size of Alaska. I feel like she's the only one that really ever cared about me.  

I feel like part of me is dying. I can't stop sobbing.

There's no one else here to do all these nerdy things with me.  No one else that would unconditionally be here at 2 a.m. if I called. She just retired and we were supposed to spend so much time together now. We were supposed to go to classes at the gym and go on hikes. We were supposed to spend the rest of our lives together after our husbands die....and suddenly she's leaving. I don't think i sobbed this hard since my mom died. 

My heart is officially BROKEN. 💔

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Shouldn't Conventions be Fun?

Yesterday, my daughter and I attended Long Beach Comic Con. We left our home near San Diego at 8 a.m. and drove the 90 freeway miles without incident. Once we got to downtown Long Beach, however, everything changed for the worse, and remained that way for the rest of the day.

There was no traffic control heading toward the convention center. I sat behind a bus for nearly half an hour trying to turn right from Pine onto Seaside Way. Every time the light turned green there were cars in the middle of the intersection blocking any progress. Sometimes one car was able to turn right, but that bus sat there for so many light changes that I lost count.  Once we finally got onto Seaside, it was evident that we had to get into the left lane to enter parking. Six light changes later, we were finally in line to enter the garage. Why was it such a slow process? Because there was one lane open to collect the $10 parking fee.

Once parked we walked toward the entrance. HOLY COW. The line to get in was now ridiculously long. Thousands of people comprised a line which stretched from the entry doors, up over the ramp which crosses the street back into the parking garage, snaked through the garage and back outside. It took almost an hour to get inside. There was only a handful of people scanning tickets and handing out badges and wristbands.

We found our way to the Exhibit Hall. It was quite crowded, as you can imagine, but we managed to make our way up and down the unmarked aisles. There was no signage to indicate what row you were in, so the vendors list with booth numbers was not as useful as it should have been.  When we found our friend who was working at a booth inside, she told me that picking up the vendor badges was a royal pain. She was sent to several different locations by staff. When she finally arrived at the correct place to collect the badges, the person didn't know how to find them and actually asked my friend to find her booth in the program for her.

The entire time that we were in the convention center neither of us had any cellular service, and there was no convention wifi. I swear the building is operating inside of a force field.  My iPad uses a different carrier than my phone, and while it showed 3 bars, I could not post to any social media or load any websites. So much for posting for my social media clients. Curiously, when we went outside and walked 25 feet from the building we had full bars.   My daughter tried to pay for something and the vendor couldn't get the vendor wifi to work either! He had her sign a slip so he could process the payment offline.

my Star Trek purchase
After we made a couple of small purchases, we tired of the noise and crowd. We grabbed some lunch then headed toward the panel rooms. The main reason I went to LBCC was to see the Con Man and Firefly panels which were at 2:30 and 3:30. We decided to locate the panel room so we would know where to go for them. An email that I received before the convention stated that the rooms WOULD BE CLEARED between panels, and that the lines for the next panels would be allowed to form ONE HOUR before the panel.

The Batman panel was about to start. The doors to the room were open and I peeked inside. The room looked SMALL. There was a sign on the door with the same information as my email.   I asked a staff person how many seats the room held. He said 700. I looked outside and saw a line of at least 1000 people waiting for the next panel, which was Con Man. I told him I didn't think I'd get in for Con Man, but if I did, I wouldn't have any hope of seeing Firefly, since the room would be cleared and the line would be more than 700 people.  He assured me that the line for Batman was just as long and I'd have a seat and after Con Man I'd be able to walk right back in. I was skeptical.

this is the sign on the panel room door

I spotted a friend who also wanted to see the same panels. We decided to go outside and queue up, not believing we'd see Con Man, but hopeful to be in the line for Firefly. We estimated the line to now be about 1300 people. It started inside the building, went out the doors, along the building, curved along the street, back against the other side of the building, behind some dumpsters, and then between the building and the street. At about 2:50, we were still standing out there. Obviously we were missing the Con Man panel. Suddenly, a staff member took people who were in the middle part of the line along the street and sent them across the latter part of the line where we were and into the building. When I asked why, the woman "in charge" told us that they accidentally had 2 lines and were merging them. What? These people basically cut in front of hundreds.

By 3:00 we were told to all go inside. The doors to the room were propped open and we were told that we could stand in the lobby and watch the panel from there.  We were also told the room would not be cleared after the panel. We could neither see nor hear what was going on in that room, but more and more people kept pushing into the small space. We were wedged in like sardines. I had 1 bar of cell service for a few moments so  I was able to get a couple of tweets out, mentioning the con account and that of the Long Beach Fire Department, as we were clearly in violation of fire codes and the posted convention policy for those panels.
this is the lobby outside the panel room
our view of the Con Man panel from outside in the crowded lobby

As soon as the Con Man panel ended, those in the lobby stormed the room. There were a handful of seats that opened up, but we didn't get one. I stood next to a woman with a baby in the last row who told me that her kids were cranky, so after she got a few pictures, she was leaving. Her husband took the older child and left and I got a seat. My daughter was told by a staff person that she could not stand. An announcement was made that no one was allowed to stand in the back or sides. I told her to wait, but she was not pleased. Eventually, the 2nd seat opened up for her, but through the duration of the panel, the sides and back were lined with people.

Unfortunately, I couldn't hear most of what the panelists were saying. People called out to turn up the volume, but it wasn't enough for the back rows. The entire panel was Q&A, but there were no mics for the questions, so we had no idea what they were, or what the panelists were replying or reacting to.
 the Firefly panel from the back of the ridiculously small room

When the panel ended, we decided we had had enough and would head to the Exhibit Hall to say goodbye to our friend. We were stopped in the hallway because the panelists were to be crossing the hall into another room. That was serendipity. We were able to snap a few pics of them as they exited the panel room.

Sean Maher

Jewel Staite

Summer Glau

Nathan Fillion
When we got back to the Exhibit Hall, we saw two of our friends that were in line for the Firefly photo ops. One did not make it into the panel, the other was with us and did manage to snag a seat in a few rows ahead of us. She left the panel a little early to queue up for her photo. We got an earful from both of them about how the line for the photo ops was also mismanaged, and rerouted, and now they were further back than when they started before many of the people in front of them had even arrived.

This was one of the most poorly organized conventions I've attended...and I've attended a lot of cons of all sizes in several states! I will not be returning to Long Beach Comic Con.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Happy Anniversary Star Trek

Star Trek premiered it's first episode in the US on this day in 1966. Our culture, society, and our science was impacted forever.

Who doesn't recognize the phrases "warp speed," "beam me up," or "live long and prosper?" Even those that have never seen an episode of the original series could pick Spock out of a lineup.

Who can argue the impact of putting issues of racism, inclusion, diversity, peace and tolerance on television, in a fantastical setting, didn't plant seeds of change?

How many pieces of technology do you own that were imagined in the series before our scientists and engineers could make them reality? A cellular phone? A tablet? A microwave? A 3D printer? Have you had a medical scan? Seen a Taser?

On a personal level, Star Trek has meant an endless supply of new friends, deep and impactful relationships, philosophical discussions in person and online, and the ability to incorporate the ideals and icons of Star Trek into my everyday life through my postings for various Trek-related outlets. 

I wouldn't know most of the people I hold dear if it weren't for Star Trek. No matter what differences of opinion we may have--religious, political, philosophical, etc--we have a common ground on which to base our mutually respectful relationships. 

In a troubled and turbulent world, Star Trek gives us hope for our future. 

Happy 50th Anniversary Star Trek. May you live long and prosper for centuries to come. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Glorious Evening!

I was one of the privileged 500 people who got to attend the Star Trek Beyond Fan Event at Paramount Studios last night.  It was a glorious evening full of fandom, surprises, and friends.
Here's how it went down:

 We arrived at the Gower Gate just before 6 p.m. and lined up. We were given release forms to sign. Once in the gate, we were given snazzy wristbands and sent to the check-in table where we presented our ID and received our badges.

We stood outside of Stage 32 until it was time to let us in, but we did catch glimpses of Chris Pine and Justin Lin while waiting. It was a good time to scan the growing crowd for friends and get hugs. By the way, Stage 32 is where the Original Series was films from 1966-1969.

Finally the rollup door began to move upward and we saw the plaque for the Enterprise 1701. We then walked through an Enterprise corridor and arrived at the soundstage. It was arranged like a theater in the round, with a big delta shield design on the floor and three groovy white stools in front of a table with a few props on it. There were big screens with Star Trek Beyond displayed on them and the familiar soundtrack was being played. On each seat, there was a cone of Popcornopolis caramel corn.

We waited and chatted for about half an hour before the host, Adam Savage, was introduced. He was so upbeat and seemed genuinely excited to be there. Adam introduced producer JJ Abrams who spoke a little bit and then they were joined by director Justin Lin. There was a Q & A with  some predetermined questions. Our first surprise was an image on the screen which we were told is a limited edition fan poster that we will all receive. Then the crowd erupted in cheers when JJ told us we were all getting credentialed to see the premiere screening at San Diego Comic Con. It will be an outdoor screening in IMAX 3D.

We were all surprised to hear JJ bring up the subject of the Axanar lawsuit. According to JJ Abrams: "“A few months back there was a fan movie and this lawsuit that happened between the studio and these fans, and Justin was sort of outraged by this as a longtime fan. We started talking about it and realized this wasn’t an appropriate way to deal with the fans. The fans of Star Trek are part of this world. We went to the studio and pushed them to stop this lawsuit. Within a few weeks, it’ll be announced that this lawsuit is going away.”

Adam Savage

JJ Abrams, Adam Savage and Justin Lin
The Fan Poster I received
JJ and Lin left the stage and next the Star Trek Trinity were introduced: Kirk, Spock and Bones. Karl Urban shouted out to the cheering crowd, "Are you out of your Vulcan minds?!" There was more Q & A from Adam, Twitter and few audience members. There was a question from Huston Huddleston of the Hollywood Sci Fi Museum about the tone of the set without Leonard Nimoy, and Quinto responded that he missed him, but that he was in all of their hearts and his presence was felt on set and in the film to a great extent. Speaking of Nimoy, his family occupied the front and center row of the audience. At some point we were also shown behind the scenes footage from the making of Star Trek Beyond. 
The Nimoy Family

Karl Urban, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto: McCoy, Kirk and Spock

We were then ushered back outside to another stage area with bleachers. We were offered champagne or seltzer on our way to be seated. The bleachers filled up and about half of the audience were left standing to the side and behind the stage. Zachary Quinto then gave a short tribute about Leonard Nimoy and the street we were on was renamed Leonard Nimoy Way. The street sign was unveiled and we all raised our glasses in his honor. After some photos were taken of the celebrities in front of the bleachers we went back inside to a large screening room.

(not my photo, but I don't know who to credit)
On the way inside, we had to stop by the Orion girls to get our phones locked inside of neoprene pouches. Once inside, we stood in front of a giant screen. Soon the trailer was played and the response was, by my observation, 100% positive. Security personnel used night vision glasses to ensure no one was recording. Then we were treated to an extended clip, about 10 minutes long by my estimation. We were told VFX wasn't complete, and the it was a bit raw, but I thought it was great! The scenes we were shown were much more "treklike" than anything I've seen from the last two films. 
This is what our phones were in. 

 After the screening we got another surprise. A PARTY! Another wall was lifted away and we were treated to a DJ, waiters offering wine, beer and food, and props and costumes on display. Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine even posed for selfies with some lucky attendees.  We got custom made t-shirts, posed for pictures in the captain's chair and transporter. I had a blast visiting with my Trek Family, old and new!