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Malevolent butterflies in the stomach June 7, 2014

Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, papers, research.
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I’m sitting at my computer this morning with somewhat bated breath.  I was supposed to be presenting a paper at a conference about now.  Instead, I am at home, and my major accomplishment was getting out of bed and getting dressed.  Oh yeah…and I ate a bagel and a banana without getting sick.

I was on my way to the conference and decided to leave a day early.  I was going to spend the night in Minneapolis with some friends and then continue on the next morning from there.  I was doing great until about a half hour before I got there, and then I started having stomach issues.  The problem with having celiac disease that was undiagnosed for so long is that I’m *always* having stomach issues, and I more or less ignore them now.  “Oh gee.  I must’ve eaten something that didn’t agree with me,” is one of the most common phrases I’ve used over the past five years.

I met my friends for dinner and then went back to their place.  I found that the stomach pain kept getting worse, though it was coming and going intermittently.  After about two hours, I needed to go to the ER because I was in very serious pain along the bottom of my ribcage.  I spent the next couple hours getting checked for gall stones and pancreatitis and losing my dinner and getting lots of drugs.  The doctor’s conclusion is that I either had a bug…or I did eat something that disagreed with me.  The only problem is that I have no idea what it could have been.

Fortunately, a colleague was also attending the conference, and he agreed to give my presentation for me with the consent of the session chair.  I got to come home (which is a long story in and of itself), and rather than worrying about how I was going to do on the presentation, I get to worry about how my colleague will do.

The whole situation is ironic, however.  I’ve always told people that I get sick to my stomach before I have to give a presentation, but I guess this time it was literal.

Chronic illness July 23, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in family, personal.
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I’ve had a lot of stuff going on, so the blogging has been light.  I also have a lot of things I’d like to talk about, but the blog isn’t the best place to do it.

However, I’d like to throw out some questions.  For those who have a family member with a chronic illness (of any kind), I’d like you to comment on how you deal with it.  Specifically, how do you handle financial concerns related to treatment costs?  How do you avoid feeling ‘trapped’ when helping support the person who is ill?  And finally, how do you deal with all the other people who just don’t “get it”?  What kind of support have you been able to get and how difficult is it to find?

Please feel free to comment anonymously as I know this is a touchy subject.  I’d just like to see what brilliance the intertubes can provide this week.

It’s amazing what I can get done when I’m not at work July 5, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in grad school, personal, research, writing, younger son.
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I never thought I’d be thankful for my child being sick.  I suppose I should as it means he’s acquiring another immunity.

I’m guessing the younger son had West Nile.  At least, the symptoms were consistent with West Nile, and it showed up a couple days after his daycare took the kids to a nearby state park to swim.  Swimming hole = mosquitoes = contagion.  The younger boy is usually pretty healthy, but it was obvious he was pretty sick this time.  He spent two days solid watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons, eating jello and yogurt, and sleeping.

I constantly had a thermometer in my hand.  The worst was reading temps of 103.5°F, because then I had to convince myself that it was really better not to give him Tylenol.  See, the kid wouldn’t sleep unless I let his fever run up, and I know from past experience that you’ve got to let them hit that spike or it just drags out for days.  It seemed to work because less than 24 hours after we initially discovered he was sick, his fever dropped down in to the below 101°F range.  Yesterday, which was 48 hours after we found out he was sick, he was going stir crazy and taking Mike and myself with him.

In the meantime, I was stuck at home, and it was the probably some of the best uninterrupted time I’ve had in months to work on my dissertation.  This resulted in a big jump forward, at least from my perspective.  In that time, I learned how to use the debugger and managed to fix a couple major issues with my code.  On top of that, I managed to finish a fictional novel I’ve been reading for the last six months.  (Yeah, I know…)  I even spent some time doing some fun writing of my own (though obviously not the blog).

I also was asked to take care of a rescue dog for a couple days.  He’s a very sweet boy, but he makes Gigadog look tiny.  (Maybe we should call him Teradog?)  I’ll probably be picking him up tomorrow, so I’ll try to get some pics up.  (Depends on how busy he keeps me.)  I think we’ve decided to call him Rainier, since he’s huge as a mountain.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he and Gigadog get along well.

Am I better yet? June 25, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in research, work.
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I had a minor surgery last Friday.  The doctor said I should be well enough to go back to work in 4-5 days.  I’m at three days now, and I’m getting a bit batty, even though I’m also sleeping a lot more than normal.  When I’m awake, I feel like I need to be doing something.

I would be fine with this except that the university has a policy that I can only access the supercomputer cluster from on-campus.  I was going so nuts yesterday that I made my husband drive me up there (I was on restricted driving, as well) so that I could do a couple things.  I would like to get him to bring me back today, but he’s trying to get some work done, so I don’t know how likely that is.

It’s funny – at least when I’m sick, I don’t feel like doing work and so will take it easy.  But here, I’m not sick, I don’t feel too bad, and I just keep thinking about all the stuff I want to get done.  At least I have to be home to let the plumber in…I think it’s the only time I’ve been thankful for a plumbing emergency.

I can just imagine what I would be like if I were forced to sit at home for a really long time.  I think I’d make everyone nuts.

What are you like when you’re under orders to ‘rest’?

Getting re-oriented March 12, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in family, older son, pets, photography, younger son.
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I’m back home and getting adjusted to normal life again.  Due to illness, I have been sleeping more than normal (which I probably should be doing when not ill, as well).  My sinuses are also not happy with the additional 1500 ft of air pressure…but I’m getting used to it.  Daylight savings also came at an inopportune time as I am now two hours out of sync rather than just one.

The dog was happy to see me and even happier that I took her for a walk today (just couldn’t make myself run). The younger son was very adamant about getting his present, so I handed him a bag of pistachios.  He looked horribly disappointed but managed to squeak out a ‘thank you’.  Then I gave him his real presents: a junior ranger vest (with many pockets for rocks), a book on the wildlife of the deserts of the US, and some Saguaro cactus seeds.  He wore the vest all day and wants to plant a garden of cacti.  (Mike and the older boy were more patient – they got shirts and some cactus candies.)

I did manage to get out to Sabino Canyon on Saturday morning before flying out.  It a beautiful spot.  I’ll probably post more pics on Wednesday.  In the meantime, I have to tell you how tickled I was with the Saguaro cacti.  They are so easy to anthropomorphize, and the one above looked like he was having a conversation with the rest of them.  Or maybe it was yelling at the tourists like myself.  With that little arm sticking out, it looks like it’s pretty adamant about something.


Someone always gets sick when we travel… March 9, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in personal.
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One of the funniest vacations I remember is a ski trip to Duluth where the older boy got sick.  I spent close to two hours cleaning his regurgitated breakfast off the bathroom floor of the fancy condo we rented.  I remember other trips where one of the other kids got sick, and one of us was trying to google the nearest pharmacy or 24 hour grocery in whatever strange town we were in.  (Of course, these things never happen in the middle of the day.)

Since I was the only one traveling this time, I guess that means it had to be me.

Apparently the desert air isn’t very friendly as I have the mother of all sinus infections.  On top of that, it appears I caught some viral thing on the trip here because my whole body is achy.  It feels like I have the flu.  I thought the two were the same thing, but apparently I had to be twice as sick.  Probably to make up for the lack of other people who could also be sick.  Or to make up for the fact that I managed to get sick after taking care of all the important reasons why I came.

The nice doctor gave me some antibiotics and told me to get some rest.  The way my ears are plugged, I can tell my flight home tomorrow is going to be a bit less fun than I hoped.  But thank goodness for modern medicine and airplanes.  Hopefully I will be home and well very soon.

Happy Hanukkah! December 20, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in religion, younger son.
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I think running myself ragged finally caught up with me the past couple days.  I was starting to get a cold a couple days ago and woke up this morning in bad shape.  Fortunately, it’s not an infection…just my immune system overreacting to everything and telling me that today was a day off, whether or not I wanted it.  I guess this is the up side to having the teenager home during the day now: his younger brother has this week off from school, so they kept each other entertained while I lay there in a cold- and cold medicine-induced stupor.

I thought this only happened as a student, but I guess not.  Teaching is just as tiring as learning.

Despite feeling cruddy, we managed to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah.  A couple weeks ago, the younger boy came to us and said he wanted to celebrate.  I wasn’t sure what to do, but a friend sent me some information and I spent a bit of time researching how to properly observe it.

I have to admit that I feel a little funny observing a holiday from a religion with which I have extremely limited familiarity.  I’m not sure why this is.  I would never feel funny if my non-Christian friends participated in Christmas (and I have a lot that do).  I’ve also been invited to participate in a Hillel meeting once.  (I had no idea what was going on, unfortunately…but I was still welcome!)  So I don’t think anyone would get annoyed…but it’s still an odd feeling.

We lit the first candle of the Menorah in our front window.  I don’t know if any of the neighbors saw it, but if they did, I suspect they’re going to think this explains why we never hang up Christmas lights.  Actually, we did hang them up one year, but we didn’t take them down until August.  So now we just never bother with hanging them up.

Overall, it was fun.  My friend sent us a card game that’s about Hanukkah, so we played that after lighting the Menorah.  I guess I thought we had to wait until indulging in fried foods, but I guess not.  Donuts, anyone?

Working through the pain December 5, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in work.
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Late last week, I got a flu shot.  I’m one of those unlucky ones that always seems to get the flu from  having the shot, but I do it anyway because I have a family member who is on an immunosuppressant.  Unfortunately, this meant that most of my weekend was shot as I was fighting a mild case of chills and body aches.

I am, unfortunately, one of those people who also has great difficulty working when I feel ill.  I know some people can do it (like certain members of my family).  I know people who say they like working when sick because it takes their mind off feeling bad.  However, I find that working when I’m sick actually makes it worse.  If I want to feel better, doing something somewhat mindless actually works better.  In my case, playing simple video games or crocheting seem to be things that are helpful.  If absolutely must work, grading seems to be the easiest thing to handle.

What about you?  What do you find helps in these situations?  Are you able to work through it or do you have to take a break from things that require concentration?


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