Friday, April 25, 2008

Guess whose crossword was accepted by the NYT?

I just got the good news that Will Shortz has accepted a Sunday crossword co-constructed by my friend Tony and me. It will likely be many months before the New York Times Magazine runs this crossword, but: Wahoo!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's that time of year: Heartfelt donation request time

But first, it's information time. Information about ovarian cancer. The wife of an acquaintance of mine, a woman I met briefly last year, died of ovarian cancer a week ago. Her name was Michele.

The disease was fairly advanced by the time it was diagnosed. For a year before diagnosis, her doctors said it was just irritable bowel syndrome, that's all—and they didn't recognize her vague symptoms as the warning signs of ovarian cancer.

Almost a year ago, my aunt died after a three-year struggle with ovarian cancer. She, too, had experienced vague symptoms and consulted multiple doctors for months before her cancer was finally discovered.

One of the biggest reasons that ovarian cancer is so deadly is that the symptoms are so nonspecific. From that Mayo Clinic link comes this information:

Recent studies have shown that women with ovarian cancer are more likely than are other women to consistently experience the following symptoms:

  • Abdominal pressure, fullness, swelling or bloating
  • Urinary urgency
  • Pelvic discomfort or pain

Additional signs and symptoms that women with ovarian cancer may experience include:

  • Persistent indigestion, gas or nausea
  • Unexplained changes in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation
  • Changes in bladder habits, including a frequent need to urinate
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Increased abdominal girth or clothes fitting tighter around your waist
  • Pain during intercourse (dyspareunia)
  • A persistent lack of energy
  • Low back pain

Now, how many of those problems have you experienced off and on? A lot, right? Gas, bloating, indigestion, constipation or diarrhea. Apparently what marks these as suggestive of ovarian cancer is persistence and worsening—rather than coming and going or acting up depending on what you've eaten, if those vague abdominal symptoms just don't go away, it's not a bad idea to ask your physician to give you a workup to rule out ovarian cancer. This might include a transvaginal ultrasound (using what I like to call the "cooter wand"), a rectovaginal exam (like a pelvic exam, only with two entry points), and/or a blood test to check your CA-125 level. (Note: CA-125 tests can be false-positive and freak you out, or miss many early-stage ovarian cancer cases, so it's not the be-all and end-all of ovarian cancer detection.)

On Saturday, May 3, I'll be taking part in the 11th Annual Break the Silence: Walk for Ovarian Cancer, held by the Illinois chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. The NOCC is the nation's leading ovarian cancer public information and education organization; the group promotes research, raises awareness about ovarian cancer, and provides support for women and families dealing with the disease. If you'd like to sponsor me, please visit my donation page. There's no minimum donation, and every little bit helps. I'm hoping to raise $500 overall.

Thanks for your consideration, and please spread the word about ovarian cancer's nonspecific and deceptive symptoms. Many women and many physicians don't think to suspect ovarian cancer, so it's incumbent on all of us to be familiar with the symptoms and be able to advocate for ourselves and the women we care for.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I will spare you a photo

Really, it's that I'm too lazy to take a picture and post it. If I'm going to do that, then I'll get mired in the process of sorting through those other photos I wanted to post, and nothing will ever get done.

And I also don't want to horrify and repel you, or show you The Scarlet Pimple.

Words must suffice. On my neck, above the larynx/Adam's apple zone, just left of center, I have a giant...thing. I believe it to be an ordinary pimple, but it's completely ignoring the tea tree oil assaults I have administered, and it won't shrink or appear vulnerable to a good, firm squeeze. It is not anchored to anything firm.

In short, this thing is freaking me out, not to mention those who behold it.

It needs a name. And there will be a poll in the sidebar for one week. Won't you please help name this evil baby?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Feminist LOLcats!

Check 'em out. If you like LOLcats, you like feminism, or you like giggling, you need to see these annotated cat pictures.

My favorites are the "I'z not racizt, I has black cat frend!" and "I dansed, but revolushun no come."

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Mr. Tangerine's special brand of genius

This morning, Ben had what we term "a messy poop." He wiped. He wiped again. He wiped some more. And so on, and so on. He may have sat down to a bowl with some TP already in it, but the approximately 29 wipings that followed? Overloaded the toilet's capacity to flush it all away. Ben flushed, the water level rose, and I lifted the tank lid and jiggled the whatsit to stop the influx of water.

"Honey! We have a situation here!"

Take a moment to ponder how you would remedy the situation.

The approach that Mr. Tangerine came up with was new to me. He stretched out a wire clothes hanger and used it to tug two thirds of the TP globs away from the escape hatch, and flushed. One third, down the hatch. Then he unleashed half of what remained, and flushed again. After that he neatly disposed of the hanger, and the toilet was cleared via a third flush.

Staged flushing! I never would've thought of that.

Note: This method is unlikely to work for a giant turd like the one in David Sedaris's "Big Boy.