20 August 2010

DrPH News

On Wednesday, I officially got news that my application for the DrPH programme for which I had applied was rejected. I think it was nice of them to let me know a full 34 days before classes were to have started. But the chair of the programme did handwrite a note of the bottom of the form rejection letter that reads "please call me if you'd like to discuss," and a neighbour of mine who's a professor told me this is a VERY encouraging sign.

Thank you to those of you who supported me through the roller-coaster of emotions this summer while I waited.

And now that I know that I won't be attending school, I'll start the job search in earnest. I had been hesitant to do so because I didn't want to start a job only to tell them that I had to leave because I found out that I was beginning school. And then, a few years later, have a bad reputation in the public health community for having shafted XYZ organisation.

So, now that my days are unscheduled for the next however long, I have contacted Michael Waltrip Racing (you may remember that I won a RaceDay Experience when I was in North Carolina) to claim tickets to the Dover race. Mom is going to fly out here, and we will go to that race together. Then we will fly to Kansas City together to attend the Kansas race together (those races are back-to-back weekends.

It's been a banner year: I lost a job, lost Oscar, got rejected from a school, and for those of you especially close to me, you know about The Big Drama going on this week that I won't be blogging about for matters of personal security.

15 August 2010

Bidding Adieu to Kristi

In 2001, I went to an event at the Asian Arts Initiative. At this event, I met a woman whose name I no longer remember. One thing led to another, and this woman eventually asked me if I might be interested in being interviewed by this woman doing her dissertation on Korean-American adoptees and transnational/transractial adoption issues. Sure, why not.

That researcher was Kristi. She called me, we set up an interview. She was nice and interesting. It wasn't one of those "add water, instant friendship" kind of things. But over time, we forged a friendship. I became more involved in her research - sitting through mind-numbing adoption meetings with her, watching videos, and reading adoption propaganda. I went to her dissertation defence. She came to my thesis defence.

She told me just how wrong a certain guy was for me. I avoided her for awhile after that because nobody asked her. And, of course, she was right. I'm comfortable spilling my business on my blog, but not hers, so I'll just say that throughout the years we've talked a LOT about relationships, parenting, politics, careers, feminism, and the intersections of all of those.

Today, we met for about an hour a few hours before she had to be at the airport. Her older daughter Nina was with her, but her younger daughter Iris was getting in some time with her friend. (Kristi's partner Tom is already in Charleston in their new house.) While Kristi and I talked, I let Nina play games on my BlackBerry. "Min, can I play THIS one? How about THIS one? These all CAME on your phone????" Kristi looked at me and said, "See, THIS is why girls need more than one mom in their lives - for the games on their phones."

I'll miss Kristi. She's one of those people who will tell you what you need to hear, whether it's what you WANT to hear. If I'm ever fortunate enough to be a parent, she's the kind of parent I'd want to be - a very "it takes a village" kind of mentality. Her relationship with her partner is one I greatly admire. They take time for themselves, even though they have two daughters who are both active with extra-curriculars. They don't really have "his" friends and "her" friends. They know they don't have a perfect relationship, and they don't pretend to. So they - gasp - communicate with each other about issues.

It's easy to say these days that you'll still keep in touch - email, IM, text, Skype, etc. But she starts her new job (she's a professor) next week, and she'll be getting Nina and Iris settled in their school, helping them meet new friends, hell - she'll need new friends, too! And all of that just isn't the same as dropping in to see the new artwork that the girls have hung on the walls of their art studio, going to their School of Rock concerts, or guest speaking at Kristi's classes.

I didn't take my camera with me today, but here's a picture of Kristi and me from a few years ago, on the day I graduated from Drexel with my MPH. Good luck in Charleston, Kristi!

ETA: Original pic deleted when blog was moved.  But here's a pic of Kristi from several years ago.

11 August 2010

State of the Min

The Summer of 2010 has been, well, interesting.

I want to thank everyone for being so supportive while I was mourning the loss of The Ocs. Every once in awhile, at the most unexpected times, I get hit with grief. Like when Med Student (who some of you know as Rachel) and I were eating at the local Vietnamese restaurant and she mentioned that she wished she had been able to have gone to free Goo Goo Dolls concert as part of Philadelphia's Welcome America (Fourth of July) celebration. I burst in tears, and she was like, "What happened? What's going on? What just happened?" When I finally stopped crying, I explained that I had also wanted to go, but that was Oscar's last night with us. And we just sat there, in the middle of the restaurant, holding hands for awhile.

Or the other day when I was talking to Ria and I mentioned my cats. And then I realised that I don't have cats, plural, anymore. And then I called my mom and cried.

I believe I emailed everyone who left a message for me on the blog who also left their email address, and I received a lot of messages on Ravelry that I believe I've also returned, as well. When I started modding the Free Pattern Testers group, I never realised that I'd meet such caring people with so many of their own stories to share, too!

I've also got another really frustrating situation going on right now which has my life in extreme limbo. Some of you know about it, especially local friends. But when I have definitive answers and know the implications of what's going on, I'll spill all.

In other news, I had my regular three-month check-in with my doctor last week. I'm still low in Vitamin D, so she switched me from 3,000 IUs a day to 50,000 IUs a week. And since I've been having very minor right upper-quadrant pain again (very similar to what I was having two years ago when the gall-bladder in-and-out of the hospital fiasco began), she did a bunch of blood tests and gave me an ultrasound order in case the pain gets worse, and I can decide whether I want to go in for the test. If the pain continues, I can make an appointment with my GI specialist, and I'll have the baseline pancreatic enzyme levels and U/S results for him to see.

She's also sending me to an orthopaedic specialist for my torn hip cartilage to get a second opinion since neither of us are particularly pleased with the progress I've been making with the PM&R guy I've been seeing. But first I need to see him one more time to get my MRI results back, my records, etc. And of course, he's on vacation for the next two weeks. Yay.

And the latest (which I made some vague references to on Twitter): Those of you who have ever tried to hang out with me in the summer know I'm terrified of hanging out outdoors. It's not that I'm not an outdoors person - it's that I'm allergic to pretty much every bug ever. If a bug looks at me, I'll get a huge-ass welt that will itch until forever. This past Saturday afternoon, I had what I thought was a bug bite kind of between my breast and my underarm. So I did the usual - took an Allegra (an oral antihistamine) and treated topically with Benadryl cream (also an antihistamine). But still I itched... and itched... and itched.

Until Saturday night around 11:00 p.m. when I called Mom pretty freaked out. My entire underarm area, going up to part of my triceps area was covered in what looked like tiny bug bites. Now, usually if I've just scratched a single bug bite a lot, I'll break out in hives, but my hives will be really large, and I know what they look like. And when I take an Allegra and slather on the Benadryl, it'll take the hives. But I'd been doing that all night, to no avail. So I was pretty freaked out. Mom and I went through all the usual suspects - no new foods, no new clothes, I had gone tromping through the woods, etc.

Sunday morning, when I woke up, the area hadn't spread, but it now looked like one huge rash (and when I say huge, I mean it - but I'll get to that in a minute). Instead of tiny bites, it looked as if my cat Felix had taken a fire engine red paint can and spilled it on me overnight. I blame Ria. She's the only person I know who has regular access to paint cans.

To make a long story short (or is it too late?), I spent the weekend not sleeping from the discomfort. I was very tempted to go to the ER - not because I thought my life was in danger, but I was simply that uncomfortable and unable to sleep. But my ER copay is $75 and a doctor visit only costs $10. And it being the weekend, I knew I'd have to sit for hours to see someone in the ER when they'd do the same thing the doctor would do. So I continued with the Allegra, Benadryl, and I threw in an ice pack every once in awhile (but since I only have one ice pack, that only worked every few hours).

I finally saw a doctor Monday afternoon. He measured the rash for my chart, and it was an impressive 6" x 8" (told you it was huge). He gave me a steroid taper, which I'm VERY familiar with, as someone with moderate-level asthma. He also told me to switch to hydrocortisone cream instead of Benadryl (or to alternate) since the Benadryl wasn't being effective for me. And to continue with the ice pack. I told him the biggest problem was just that I was "very uncomfortable," and he laughed a bit wryly and said, "I would imagine, from how red and how large that is, that would be the understatement of the year, my dear."

It's getting a little better every day, but that could just be because Fe got some paint eraser from Ria. I'm not sure. Mostly I'm happy that I can read and knit again. Not being able to use my right arm at all for those few days was a killer. While I'm ambidextrous and could use my left hand to eat and write, not being able to use my arm was interesting. (I had to keep it still because if I held it down, the affected upper arm area rubbed against the underarm area, which hurt. And if I held it out even a little, the skin pulled and stretched, which also hurt.)

So... that's my summer so far. Yay!

In the words of Daria, "Is it fall yet?"