Thursday, September 30, 2010

As they say, thicker than pea soup.... 

Ever heard a chronically ill person mention brain fog and wonder what they meant? Here's an amusing but honest explanation from But You Don't Look Sick:

Excuse me....I didn't hear you, what was I saying?

I've been particularly foggy since I got back from Colorado. Part of it is the post-vacation flare, but I also have more on my mind than usual, which always makes it worse. Today alone, I had to be reminded of an interview I had promised to do, I accidentally put a food scale in the freezer TWICE, had to be reminded that Dan needs to get some expensive work done on his car, forgot to make a phone call, got lost in my own neighborhood trying to avoid construction, and forgot to eat supper.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Got my annual mammogram on the 21st. Did the standard number of scans, and they said I was done. I thought that seemed too easy, but went home happy I wouldn't have to come in again for another year, a rarity for me.

But sure enough, the next day, I got a call from my primary care doc's office telling me that I needed more scans on the left breast plus an ultrasound. That's unfortunately what I'm used to. In the eight years I've been getting mammograms, only one year did I not require extra scans either because of my dense breast tissue or because they found lumps that turned out to be cysts.

So yesterday, I went to the clinic that does the more specialized testing. They showed me one of the previous week's scans, which featured a good sized lump, which wasn't there last year and which is larger than any of my previous cysts. To make sure it wasn't a fluke, they re-scanned the breast six ways to Sunday, including angles that hadn't been done the previous week.

When they did the ultrasound, I was surprised that I could actually see the lump myself on the screen without anyone having to point it out. It did not look anything like the ultrasounds from previous years. I had the sinking feeling that this would mean a biopsy, since I'd required one three years ago for a much smaller lump that they couldn't initially dismiss as a cyst.

The doc came in after viewing the scans and said that the lump resembles a tumor. It doesn't necessarily mean cancer; two possibilities are hyperplasia (which I've had in lymph nodes in the past) or a fibroadenoma. Either way, I need a core biopsy, one that will be more involved than the one I had in 2007 but not as extensive as open surgery.

The biopsy is scheduled for October 7th. I'm more cranky than concerned about it. The chances of me having cancer are pretty small, but if the lump is a complex fibroadenoma (a non-cancerous lump of multiple tissues that can grow quite large), there is a chance I would have to surgically remove it.

I am sooooo tired of biopsies! For various reasons, I've had biopsies of the following in addition to the left breast: salivary glands, thyroid, lymph node, skin, intestine, and a tumor in my foot. I know it could be a lot worse, but at the moment the twins seem to be more trouble than they're worth.

Stupid boobs.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Woah, Nellie! 

A few weeks ago, some friends told Dan and I that Alison Arngrim, the actress who had played Nellie Oleson on the TV series "Little House on the Prairie", would be at a local bookstore signing copies of her new book entitled "Confessions of a Prairie Bitch". I said, "sure, I'd like to go to that" and then of course forgot all about it. Luckily, Dan remembered, and we went to the signing on Friday night.

We went to the book store an hour early with me in the wheelchair, unsure if there would be a line or crowd because my experience has been with signings in Denver where such things are the exception rather than the rule. But Sioux Falls is pretty small, so even though we weren't the first ones through the door, we were just 15th. We took a ticket and were told Ms. Arngrim would be doing some Q and A at 7pm, but there wasn't any particular place we had to gather before then, so we were free to wander the store after purchasing her book.

I also acquired Janet Evanovich's 15th book in the Stephanie Plum series, which was on sale in hardback for cheaper than what the paperbacks go for. Then we killed time looking at various things until our friends arrived. They had brought a camera, which hadn't even occurred to me to do because most of the signings I've been to didn't allow photographs.

We made our way to a section of the store where a black curtain and temporary staging area had been set up. A smallish crowd filled in around us, mostly people my age who had watched the show when it originally aired, but also some older who were participating in that weekend's book fest plus some kids who had probably been watching the show on the Hallmark Channel. An employee of the store gave everyone with a book a Post-It note on which to write our names so the autograph could be personalized.

Right at 7pm, Alison Arngrim arrived, her hair still blonde but in a cute short bob, wearing a leopard print blouse with a bright red jacket over it with a sparkly pin on the lapel that read "bitch" and the same twinkle in her eye that she'd had on the show. She had a pink smart phone out and was actually recording the audience as she walked in. She brought with her a bag that had been made by the actress who had played Miss Beadle on the series, and inside the bag, believe it or not, were a Nellie Oleson-style wig and two prairie bonnets which she had brought to wear in photographs.

She also had two clipboards to pass around. One was an e-mail sign-up sheet for those who were interested in updates on her book tour, her one-woman show and other activities. The other was a petition for tougher legislation regarding online predators (I signed both).

She talked a bit about her book, the full title of which is: "Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated". In it, she discusses the role that made her famous and how it changed her life. Ms. Arngrim also mentioned that she has maintained friendships with the woman who played her mom on the show and with Melissa Gilbert and saw the musical of "Little House on the Prairie" (in which Melissa Gilbert plays Ma) in rehearsal.

Her anecdotes were quite funny, and she really seemed to enjoy taking questions from the audience. When asked her fave "Little House" episodes, she mentioned the two I remember best: the one about the music box, and the one where she is pushed down a steep hill in a wheelchair. She saw me in my wheelchair laughing, and said, "You haven't had that happen to you, have you?" to which Dan replied, "not yet", heh heh.

She talked about when her character was married off and a little bit about the camping episode. I asked her what the audition process was like for the show and was surprised to find out that she actually auditioned first for the role of Laura and then for the role of Mary! But when she read the lines for Nellie, everyone loved the way they were delivered, and she was told she had that role and not to change a thing.

After everyone who had a question had been answered, she sat down at a table to start signing books. It was before she started posing for pictures that someone informed her that she had a lock of hair standing straight up. She was not fazed by this but simply opened up her water bottle, dabbed a bit on her hand, and slicked her hair back down.

The tickets we had been given before the signing roughly determined our place in line, so we didn't have to wait long at all. When Dan and I had our turn, she said she really liked the pink wheels on my chair (I put hot pink duct tape on the rims so the airlines and hospitals wouldn't mistake my chair for theirs), and jokingly asked if I had planned to match her pink phone and pink nails. She signed our book, putting our names in it, and then I put on a blue prairie bonnet, she put on the Nellie wig, Dan stood between us laughing, and our friend took our picture.

Our friends were further back in line, so Dan and I waited until they'd had their turn before we all headed for the door. Definitely the most fun I've had a book signing in several years. And now I am even more eager to read the book.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Accounting for my whereabouts.... 

Some of you may have noticed the lack of blog posts for last week. Or not. Either way, I'm gonna tell you what I was up to now that I'm back.

I was in Colorado. I used to let the world know in advance that I was going on a trip so that they wouldn't think I had gotten too sick to post, but now that is considered an invitation for thieves to descend upon your empty house, so now I just slink off and tell of my adventures later, if my post-vacation flare isn't so severe that I am unable to do so. I do have that flare going on, so this may take me a few days to post, but please bear with me.

When I talked to my dad on the phone in April, he asked me to come visit. Since Dan was actually allowed paid time off from his job this year and we hadn't been home (no, I still don't consider South Dakota home) in four years, we made plans to come out last week. Dan and I had originally considered this to be a vacation, but things took a more serious turn when my dad was diagnosed with a bladder tumor and was scheduled for surgery the day after we were to arrive.

Dan and I left Sioux Falls the morning of September 11. We stayed on the interstate, even though other routes are more scenic, because I need to have easy frequent access to restrooms and cities large enough to have restaurants where I might acquire gluten free food. Our intent was to go south to Omaha, cut west across Nebraska, stay overnight in Kearney (the halfway point between Sioux Falls and Denver), continue west into Colorado and then southwest to my dad's house which is in a rural area outside of a suburb of Denver.

Lots of construction in Iowa as we traveled south, but we made decent time until I decided to find the Qdoba restaurant in Lincoln. We had a nice lunch, but we got caught in a ton of vehicular and human traffic as hundreds of people tried to make their way to the Cornhuskers football game. And I thought Broncos fans were obsessed with football!

Got to Kearney about an hour after we had intended. Dan had been driving for nearly seven hours, so we were quite ready to check in. We stayed at the Ramada Inn, probably fancier than we needed, but we got a decent off-season rate for a room with a king-sized bed, a fridge, microwave, cable and a recliner, so I certainly wasn't gonna complain.

Riding in a confined space for several hours makes me incredibly sore, so I put on my swimsuit and headed for the pool, thinking they had a hot tub. This turned out not to be the case, but since I was already there, I braved the excessive air conditioning and freezing water of the pool and attempted to stretch. I dog paddled a bit, fighting muscle cramps, debating whether this constituted much-needed exercise or a counterproductive waste of energy.

Either way, I took a long hot shower afterward which felt awesome. I've been keeping my showers short at home because of sewage system problems in Sioux Falls, so it was nice to stay in there long enough to relax and fog up the whole bathroom. Then I flipped channels for awhile, but pretty much every station was either talking about the Cornhuskers or some other football team, so I just had a snack and read for awhile.

Got up early enough on Sunday the 12th to allow Dan to have the free breakfast after we checked out. I had had to drink a Boost for my breakfast, but I did snag some apples for later in the day. We made pretty good time despite more construction, and Dan got some road hypnosis going on because there is NOTHING much to look at in northeastern Colorado, but we got to my dad's house earlier than expected, about 3pm.

My dad and stepmother were babysitting their grand-kids, which was cool because I had never even met my nephew (my stepbrother's son), who was born in November. My niece of course did not remember me because I had last seen her when she was 2 years old. They played with blocks for awhile, and I talked to my niece about kindergarten, which she likes.

We also got to meet the new dog, a yellow Lab mix named Maddie. She's on the petite side but more than holds her own with Onyx, the Weimaraner. She barked at us quite a bit at first and was nervous when we tried to pet her, but she eventually warmed up to us and became quite a fan of Dan.

My stepmother was kind enough to cook supper for all of us, pot roast with carrots, potatoes and fresh tomatoes. Afterward, she and Dad took the kids back to their parents and went to a square-dance group board meeting. Dan and I went to the closest grocery store to find some Boost and string cheese to get me through the week.

While we were out, we decided to drive down to our old house to see how it was faring four years after we sold it. To our delight, it looked exactly the same, in perfect shape. Sad to say, though, the neighborhood as a whole was not doing so well: there were foreclosure signs interspersed with nicely kept homes and others whose lawns had died due to water restrictions.

I did not sleep well Sunday night, which is not at all unusual when I am away from my comfy bed and sofa. Didn't really matter because I needed to get up at 6am on Monday the 13th so that Dan and I could accompany my dad and stepmother to the hospital for Dad's surgery. It was across town, so it took quite awhile to get there; Dad checked in about 8am.

As expected, the hospital was huge, so I used my wheelchair to get around. The surgery was scheduled for 9:30, but of course there was the usual pre-surgery instructions and prep to go through. I knew I'd be waiting around quite a while and brought snacks and plenty of reading material.

The surgery itself was pretty brief, only about an hour and 15 minutes, and even more surprising, it was outpatient. The tumor was about walnut sized, but they had to do a bit more than expected to remove it all. Still, my dad was awake within another hour and quite perky, chatting with the nurses about his dogs.

All told, we had Dad back home and resting by 1:30. Pretty impressive. Then Dan suggested that he and I drive into town to go to the cemetery where my mom's ashes are interred, which we did after visiting a health food store to get me some gluten free snacks for the rest of the week.

The cemetery seemed a bit run down. The flowers in the garden near my mom's niche were dead, probably because of water restrictions, and the bushes were so overgrown that you couldn't even get to some of the interment sites. But my mom's niche seemed all right, and there were still silk flowers in the vase, albeit faded ones.

Since we were in the vicinity of my childhood stomping grounds, I asked Dan to drive by my mom's old house. I'd heard the neighborhood had fallen on hard times. I was relieved to see that someone had apparently purchased the house recently because it had fresh paint and a new roof, but I did note that many of the neighboring homes now had bars on the windows and doors, which was not a good sign.

After passing my sister's elementary school and our junior high, we went over to the house I'd lived in from age 3 to 12. I must say red brick holds up well. The house still looked good even if incredibly tiny compared to what passes for a family-sized home these days.

On the way back toward my dad's house, we popped into a brand new shopping center and went to a sporting goods store. Dan was looking for Avalanche clothing but didn't find much. I, however, did purchase an inexpensive Rockies t-shirt to replace one from their first season that I had worn out.

On Tuesday the 14th, Dan and I met up with a former co-worker who had taken extremely early retirement from the newspaper rather than wait to be laid off. He had a non-healing injury to his tailbone, which meant he couldn't sit or ride in a car for long, so we picked him up at his condo and had lunch at a nearby bar/grill, and I was able to get a pretty good chef salad there. Then, because walking is easier for him than sitting, we went to a large open-air mall in his part of town, and I rode along in my wheelchair with Dan pushing it, so we could shop and converse.

Since I was burning through the books I'd brought on my trip pretty quickly, I picked up two more: parts five and six (cheap paperbacks) of the Stephanie Plum series I was reading by Janet Evanovich. We wandered a bit while talking about baseball and TV and classic movies. After maybe an hour, our friend and I had run out of steam (all the previous day's activities caught up with me), so we took him back to his condo and called it a day. Spent the rest of the evening chatting with my dad.

Spent the morning and afternoon of Wednesday the 15th recuperating, reading and saving up energy for a big family get-together at my aunt's house. My dad went to work that day, believe it or not, and still felt up to going into town with Dan and me for the dinner (although I was able to convince him to let Dan drive). Besides the three of us, there were two aunts, an uncle, a cousin, and three children of cousins. I brought my camera to get some family photos, and of course we talked each others' ears off, heh heh. We had apples and cheese for an appetizer, and for dinner it was grilled pork chops, baked potato wedges, corn on the cob and green beans. Probably ate more than I should have, but it was yummy. Did hafta stay up kinda late that night because I needed extra time to digest.

We had a dilemma come up on Thursday the 16th: Dan and I had planned to get together with a friend for lunch on the south end of town at 2pm, but then we were invited to have dinner on the northwest end of town at 5:30 with my dad and stepmother and some of their friends. I didn't think we could squeeze in both, but fortunately, our friend called at noon and said she was available all afternoon Friday, so we re-scheduled lunch. Only problem was, we had planned a day trip to the mountains Friday, so if we were gonna get to see them at all, it would have to be Thursday afternoon, so we jumped in the car immediately and headed west.

Because of recent wildfires, I wanted to avoid the area southwest of Boulder, so we headed straight for Long's Peak, my fave mountain, which is to the northwest. Getting straight to anything in the Rockies is a relative term, though, given the wildly winding roads, and it took us a full hour just to get to the mountains from my dad's house as it was. Knowing we were on the clock, whenever I would see something that would look nice in a photograph, Dan would quickly pull over where practical, I'd hop out and snap a couple of pics, and we'd be off again like a shot.

Due to the unusually hot weather (90 degrees four of the days we were there), the aspens were only just barely starting to change color. Long's Peak itself did have a couple of trees with red leaves, but they were too far away to photograph clearly even with a zoom. We did pull over at a church that I think was called Saint Malo's to get some nice shots of yellow aspens, but I got distracted and took so long that when we finally pulled onto Long's Peak Road, we didn't have time to actually go into the park, so we resolved to spend a day there sometime on a future trip.

We went back onto the main road and sped along to Estes Park. I had wanted to photograph the exterior of the Stanley Hotel, but it is gated off unless you are a guest. Luckily, so many people apparently take pix of the place that there is a place on a nearby road where we could easily pull over, and even though the angle wasn't ideal, with the zoom I got good enough photos so that the hotel was at least recognizable.

Once I got back in the car, I realized it was 3pm, and we were supposed to meet my dad and stepmother at their house at 4:30. We flew down the highway out of the mountains, and judging by the clock, speed limits and number of miles to drive, we could have made it in time. But I seriously underestimated the volume of traffic in Boulder, which was at a crawl.

Just before 4pm, we decided to call Dad's house and tell them we would just meet them at the restaurant, but we don't have a cell phone. We found a phone booth, but wouldn't you know the phone had been removed. We were pleasantly surprised and grateful when someone let us use his cell; if only anyone had answered!

We jumped back into the car and kept going. When we were almost directly north of the restaurant, we decided to just head toward it, looking for another phone booth. We found one a grocery store with an actual working pay phone, and Dan got through this time.

We got to the restaurant a half hour early, but I didn't mind as this meant I could just put the seat back in the car in the parking lot and rest for a bit. It was a family owned Mexican restaurant. I was in luck because their red chili enchiladas were gluten free AND tasty.

On Friday, I slept in best I could because I was pretty wiped out from the previous day's excitement. We left my dad's house about 1:30 and headed for the P.F. Chang's that was in a new mall wayyyyyy out south and east, practically in Kansas, heh heh. We were to meet our friend at 2:30 but were still late due to highway construction.

Our friend was our former co-worker and next door neighbor. It was really great to catch up because we'd only had a few brief Facebook conversations in the past four years. We talked jobs and dogs anything else that popped into our heads, just like no time had passed.

We split a gluten free order of lettuce wraps, and I had a lunch-sized portion of gluten free moo goo gai pan with chicken and shrimp on brown rice. It comes with egg drop soup, which I love. But even with a lunch portion, I still had to take some of the entree home.

After we finished lunch, we decided to explore the mall as none of us had ever been to it before. Thank goodness for my wheelchair because this was a series of stores that went on for blocks. I rather liked the place with all the retro rock band t-shirts but didn't purchase anything; I did, however, pop into a book store and pick up another Stephanie Plum book and one about the ghosts of the Stanley Hotel published by a local press.

As the sun started getting low in the sky, we decided we'd better head back while we could still easily read the road signs. So we parted ways with our friend and took the long trek back north. Spent the rest of the evening polishing off my moo goo gai pan and talking with my dad as this was our last full day.

Got up early on Saturday because my dad had to work, and I wanted to make sure I got to say goodbye before he left. After a week of gorgeous sunshine and warm temperatures, it was raining and cold that morning, which made loading the car a bit soggy. We left the house about 8am, got gas and realized we had left the cooler behind, went back and got it and were on the highway about 8:30.

If we had thought northeastern Colorado dulled the senses on a nice day, it was even worse in the gray and drizzle. The only real attention-getters between Denver and Kearney were a roadside drug bust on the Colorado side and a rollover accident on the Nebraska side. On the plus side, there was less construction than there had been the prior week, and we got to Kearney an hour before check-in time at the Ramada Inn, which gave us the perfect opportunity for a nice lunch.

As there aren't a lot of restaurants in Kearney where I know I can eat, we went with the Red Lobster near the hotel. I got my usual baked lobster tail (I avoid anything grilled, and while I love crab, I can't get it out of the shell with the arthritis in my hands). We were seated next to a table of about 10 people, all wearing their Cornhuskers apparel.

Our room at the Ramada this time was an interior one with a balcony over the pool area. The trade-off was that it didn't have a recliner like the previous room had, so I just made do with sitting in a regular chair and propping my feet up on the bed, not terribly comfy but better than nothing. As I had the previous week, I made use of the cold swimming pool and the hot shower, and then I watched the uncut version of "Airplane" on cable.

Sunday morning was still overcast, but not as cold as the previous day. We checked out, and Dan did the hotel breakfast and I grabbed some more apples. By the time we got to Omaha, I needed lunch, but Dan was still full, so we found a Qdoba and he just had a pop while I did a naked fajita burrito.

Dan needed a break from driving and wanted to check out the Burlington Coat Factory because Sioux Falls doesn't have one. He didn't find anything he liked, but I spied an adorable purple suit and a grey animal print skirt. Since I can't work anymore, I really didn't have a need for the suit, but I rationalized that I could wear the skirt to church and tried it on; it fit like a glove, but also showed off curves I thought best left hidden, so back on the rack it went.

Omaha to Sioux Falls was kinda slow going due to all the construction in Iowa, but we finally got home around 4pm I think. I must say I'm glad I don't live any further away from Denver. I also wish the trip had been at least three weeks longer to give me enough time to see all the people and things and do all that I wanted to, but I'll just have to be happy with what I got. Have no idea when I'll be able to get back out there, but I hope that I won't have to wait another four years and that I will have more cash to spend next time.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A humanist world view.... 

A friend of mine has a blog on the subject of humanism. If you want a fresh perspective and don't mind some mental exercise, check it out:

I Like Trees

I do enjoy reading about human potential outside the context of faith. There is a discouraging lack of personal responsibility which is pervasive in modern society, and I do feel we need to be reminded from time to time that we can either sit and moan about how unfair life is or get up and do our very best.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

I proclaim this to be hilarious! 

Michael Moore has started a new blog. This was his second post (the first I won't reprint here because of all the profanity):

'A Week of Proclamations'

By Michael Moore

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010 2:45 PM

Last week, President Obama addressed the nation, declaring the war in Iraq to be over and that combat troops were all home. Yesterday, two American soldiers were killed in Iraq -- by an Iraqi government soldier. This followed an attack on Sunday on a U.S. base in Baghdad. It all seemed a bit confusing to me because I always thought that when a President declares something, it's supposed to happen. Now I'm worried about the other proclamations Mr. Obama made this past week:

Tuesday, August 31:
"Today, I am announcing that combat operations have ceased in Iraq. There will be no more combat. Combat is over. Done. Finished."

Wednesday, September 1:
"I am here today to declare an end to global warming. Don't ask me how I did it. And there's no reason to look at thermometers or the polar ice caps anymore, because I just told you everything's great. Just send me another Nobel Peace Prize."

Thursday, September 2:
"Today I am announcing there is no more unemployment in America. Everyone else just got a big raise and fantastic health coverage. And all 37 million outsourced jobs are back. (Don't ask your bosses about the raise tomorrow, they'll just be embarrassed.)"

Friday, September 3:
"Today I am announcing that mosquitoes and all insects smaller than a centimeter will heretofore go away and stop biting hard working Americans."

Saturday, September 4:
"After today's victory over UConn, the Michigan Wolverines will cease playing effective football for the rest of the college season."

Sunday, September 5:
"From this day forward, I hereby declare an end to Formica and all other prefabricated counter toppings. Not for me to judge, but: Nobel Peace Prize?"

Monday, September 6:
"As your President, I hereby declare an end to Delaware."

Tuesday, September 7:
"Democratic Party combat operations have ended. Actually, they never started. We've refused to stand up to the Republicans for the past 20 months -- uh, sorry, make that 20 years -- I mean 30 years -- and we see no reason to start now. Republicans will organize a government after November and I'm just hoping they'll give me a few months to pack before they impeach me for being a Muslim atheist."

Wednesday, September 8:
"Today I am declaring an end to the slogans 'Yes We Can!,' 'Change We Can Believe In,' and 'Hope.' The truth is this: No we can't, there's not much change you can believe in, and my only hope is to find a way to turn the clock back to January of 2009 so I can start over and fight like the champ the American people thought they were electing. That is all. I will have no further proclamations."

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

My review of "LOST" Season Six on DVD.... 

This has been submitted to But You Don't Look Sick, but I will be offline for awhile and so may miss whether it ends up posted there. In the meantime, here it is:

DVD Review: "LOST, The Final Season: The Complete Sixth Season"

One of the most perplexing yet entertaining television shows has come to an end. Season Six was relatively brief, just 16 episodes, but it packed a wallop, and the two and a half hour conclusion which aired on May 23 was polarizing. But now that the survivors of Oceanic Airlines flight 815 have come full circle, we can reflect on their journey via a five disc DVD set featuring over 800 minutes of material.

A hallmark of "LOST" has been the use of "flash" segments to show a particular character prior to or after their time spent on the island upon which they crashed so that you learn more about them. In an unusual twist, during this season, we see them in a story line in which there was no crash. This "flash sideways" shows the passengers on the plane in 2004 landing safely in Los Angeles, but it turns out that even without becoming stranded upon a remote island, they still end up interacting with one another in ways that are not random.

Meanwhile, on the island, the remaining characters from the original timeline awaken in 2007 (which passes for present day) after a bomb blast. They find out that their presence on the island is not random, either, but orchestrated by a man called Jacob, who protects the island from those who want to exploit its unique properties. Jacob is hoping that one of the crash survivors will be his successor.

Complicating matters is a dark force with no name. He can appear in human form or as a column of destructive black smoke. This monster was once a man, and he wants to leave the island, but he cannot do so as long as Jacob or a successor guards it.

Season Six is at its heart a good and evil story, but what it points out is that there are no absolutes. Every single character on the show is flawed in some way. Every character has a chance for redemption, but not all of them take that chance.

If you have watched the show from the beginning, you will particularly enjoy the flash sideways on the airplane because you get to see characters who had perished in the other timeline. It's like starting all over again with the same cast but with new plot lines and lots of surprises. If you have ever wondered how your life would be different had this or that not happened, this will give you lots of cause for speculation.

As with each of the five previous sets of DVDs, there are bonus goodies galore, including the usual blooper reel and deleted scenes. A good place to start is with the hilarious narrative that attempts to summarize the entire show in just eight minutes. The woman doing the voiceover has to talk as fast as an auctioneer to get it all in.

Four episodes have audio commentaries voiced by actors, writers, producers or directors. These are insightful, entertaining and often amusing. There are spoiler alerts for each of the commentaries in case you haven't watched the show all the way through yet because they do make mention of events and character outcomes that happen in other episodes.

One of my favorite segments, "LOST On Location", returns. Each shows an episode behind the scenes and goes into detail about how a particular sequence was accomplished, whether it's portraying a sinking submarine, crashing a car, having a character fall part-way down a cliff, or creating a mythical temple. As usual, it is surprising how many of the stunts were done at least in part by the actors themselves and how few special effects were used.

Other bonus features include a look at how the final season of "LOST" was crafted, one on the concept of the flash sideways, and a segment about which characters on the show were heroes and what made them so. But the most heavily anticipated goodie is "The New Man in Charge", a 12-minute epilogue to "LOST". I found it clever, funny and very satisfying.

If you have never watched "LOST", all six seasons are available separately, or you can get them all in a set. There is a collector's edition that is pretty elaborate, but since I already have the first five seasons on DVD, I didn't find it necessary. If you have seen the entire series, you may still want to check it out on DVD because of the excellence of the bonus material.

"LOST" changed the face of TV with its combination of myth, fantasy, science, depth of character development and unpredictability. It also changed the face of TV on DVD with the sheer amount of quality extras. The Season Six set will have a treasured place in my collection alongside the first five whilst I ponder what on earth I'm going to watch on TV now that it's over.

Now THAT'S a 3-D effect! 

Got this from a Facebook friend. This is amazing and incredibly imaginative.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Had chemo? Shake your butt! 

A catchy, funny and inspiring way to look at illness-related hair loss.

The diagnosis gap..... 

This is the latest from the Celiac.com newsletter. Ten years is wayyyy too long to find out what's wrong with you!

Celiac Diagnosis: Why Do One in Four Suffer a Decade or More?

I have probably had celiac disease all my life, but my symptoms didn't significantly interfere with my life until 1997, and then the cow patty really hit the fan in 2003. If I hadn't voluntarily gone gluten free, I would still be told I had IBS.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

How is YOUR chronic illness awareness? 

Got this from But You Don't Look Sick. Spread the word!

Let Your Voice Be Heard: National Chronic Illness Week

I may be offline during that particular week, but will try and post something about my particular ailments prior to that if I get the chance. In case I don't do a detailed description later, here's the "short" list now: Sjogren's syndrome, gastroparesis, celiac disease, diabetes, GERD, asthma, fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, chronic myofascial pain, periodic limb movement disorder, peripheral neuropathy, and probably a few others that I'm forgetting.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

There are many kinds of invisible disability.... 

Here is an excellent post about the spectrum of disability, and how one is treated often depends on how obvious their impairment is. The author has autism, and I encourage you to read the rest of her blog because we seldom get to see the world from the point of view of someone who has it (I am adding the blog to my Links list):

Invisitble Disabilities

I do definitely notice a difference in how people approach me when I'm in my wheelchair versus when I'm without it. Since I only use it when I must travel longer distances, no one at my church has seen me in it, and so most of the members don't even know I am disabled. But when I'm in the chair, sometimes people will talk to Dan instead of me, will avoid my gaze or will speak very slowly to me like they assume I will not understand. I have found that smiling, looking people right in the eye and being very outgoing whenever possible does help a lot, but there will always be a few that are obviously uncomfortable dealing with me. On the flip side, there are times when I'm not in my chair that I unintentionally appear rude because someone is speaking and I cannot hear them, or I sit in the first available chair without offering it to someone older or turn down social invitations or park in the handicapped space (with my placard, of course).

Coping with, preventing and treating post-exertional malaise.... 

It all pretty much comes down to one thing: pacing. This is the final in a four-part series courtesy of the CFIDS newsletter....

Post-Exertional Malaise: Power to the People

This past week or so, I have pretty much blown it in the pacing department. Big time flare going on due to spending so much time with Dan's family while his grandfather was in Sioux Falls (he left this morning with the in-laws to visit other family in Nebraska, a wedding in Missouri, and will fly back to Florida as his wife will be out of the rehab facility). Better snap out of it because I have some important stuff coming up.

A generous gift, in more ways than one.... 

Read about this in my local newspaper. This could help not just those with MS, but anyone with a neurological disorder.

J. K. Rowling makes 10m donation to new MS centre in memory of mother

It was a gift that Rowling could turn her heartbreak from the loss of her mother into books that jump-started young adults' interest in reading and taught them valuable lessons about surviving despite hardship. But it will pale in comparison with the benefit received if just one person is saved thanks to the research being done into the causes of neuro-degenerative diseases.

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