Thanksgivukkah Weekend Project, Part 3

Standard

Let’s see. When last we left, I kept painting and painting and painting, and it kept scratching.

Uh, well, that kept happening and I eventually had to give up and say “GOOD ENOUGH”.

I did one more “sand off drippy paint” and coat on the top piece and the sides on Saturday, and then this morning, I dragged everything upstairs to assemble.

From Thanksgivvukkah Project 2013

Here we are with the drawers put together, ready to assemble the main frame.

From Thanksgivvukkah Project 2013

(Why, yes, since you asked, I do love putting together furniture. I’ve VOLUNTEERED to do it for other people. See my neat, orderly little piles of screws, cams, and dowels? It makes me feel like everything is right with the world :))

By the time I got to this partial assemblage, I’d done a good job at avoiding scratching the paint, except for that central shelf thingy. You have to kind of wedge it in there between all the rails and it scratched the bottom rail a bit. Well, it scratched the back rail, too, but I figured no one would ever see that.

From Thanksgivvukkah Project 2013

Another aside, I used to have this great ratcheting screwdriver that matched those two sitting on the ground. It had swappable bits and it ratcheted and I loved it. I haven’t seen it since we moved from Tierrasanta and have assumed it was lost to the move. I miss it.

Once Mike got up, he helped me flip the frame onto the top (I have t-rex arms) and I was able to finish putting the rest together.

From Thanksgivvukkah Project 2013

The drawers were the trickiest part to actually seat in there. I scratched up the sides and the bottom rail some trying to figure out how they actually go in. But it wasn’t bad, and I was able to just touch up the paint. We un-stuffed the old unit of papers, games, cables, random bits…aand then we dragged it upstairs to the no-purpose room/someday nursery.

In the context of the room itself, with the couch and the white Hemnes coffee table.

From Thanksgivvukkah Project 2013

I love that we can hide the keyboards and other randomness in the drawers and not have to look at them through the glass. Plus, the computer gets a lot more airflow now. I was always worried it would overheat inside cabinet.

Next step: Next year’s plan is to get that white bookshelf unit I talked about before and paint the backing of it the same blue color. This should take about 1/10000th of the time the TV stand took to paint. This will replace our (foldable!) DVD shelf and the bookshelf that blocks the hallway to our bedroom (not pictured). And figure out what to do with those end tables. And sell all the extra furniture.

It’s still a little bit too scratchable for my tastes, but I am done with painting for now!

Hey, at least we can move around in the garage again. :)

Thanksgivukkah Weekend Project, Part 2

Standard

Learn from my mistakes, folks.

  1. Don’t try to paint sitting in awkward positions on the garage floor two days in a row. You’ll be hobbling at work for no good reason and your coworkers will laugh at you.
  2. If you are painting on said garage floor and think you’re good because you put down cardboard to keep the dirt and dog hair off the pieces, HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. When you flip pieces over to paint the other sides, they WILL get scratched from random invisible pebbles.

Hence, things like this happened:

From Thanksgivvukkah Project 2013

I tried to be wiser today, by using tables to elevate the pieces so I wasn’t dying.

From Thanksgivvukkah Project 2013

That actually worked pretty well, until, you know, I ran out of tables to put things on.

From Thanksgivvukkah Project 2013

(Yes, that is the officially sanctioned paint-stirring spoon in the bottom of that picture. It cracked at some point and was designated as such when we did the great living room painting of 20…2010??

Anyways, I guess I’ll have to let these pieces dry and then go back and do some more later. This project is taking MUCH, MUCH longer than I had anticipated.

Thanksgivukkah Weekend Project, Part 1

Standard

Alas, we had to return home from Thanksgivukkah last night (Friday), as Mike is on call starting this morning. (OK, he was technically on call on Thursday and Friday, but his kind co-worker swapped some days with him). On the plus side, though, we basically had a “weekend” up in OC with my parents and another “weekend” to ourselves.

When I woke up this morning, I felt a surplus of “need” to do something. I spent a little time perusing Ikea’s app, looking at TV stands, after being inspired by my aunt’s at her house yesterday. I was initially leaning towards a dark black-brown stain, much longer, like this:

I also considered it in the white color, as we have the Hemnes coffee table in white:

THEN I saw the matching bookshelf/hutch like thing:

And I was hit by a bolt of inspiration.

When we got the white coffee table

I was surprised that it was just like, a white stain. I mean, I saw this AT Ikea obviously. But it was very different from the white dresser we had upstairs that has like a laquered finish.

If that TV stand had a white stain instead of a laquer, it’d be easy to repaint. I’ve been digging (well, if I used pinterest, I suppose I’d be pinning things) kitchens with blue slate colored cabinets, like uh (googling…)

And since we had adopted Karl, the older Mission style furniture felt a little out of place. Surely, it was functional, but I needed a project! (Ok, I tried to distract myself with cleaning the house first, but that only worked for a few hours.)

I had a vision of repainting the white tv stand blue slate, assuming it was not lacquered (spoiler: it was not). And getting the bookshelf/hutch and painting the back of the shelves the same blue. YEAH!

Once, I actually got to Ikea, consumed meatballs, and chased my friend’s 5 y.o. around with a stuffed panda, I realized the longer TV stand was too big for the room with the bookshelf. I opted for the smaller, cheaper version. (Less painful if this painting thing turns out to be a bust, too!).

The bookshelf I forwent for now. I couldn’t justify its price tag. The holidays are coming! But I have visions of putting all the table cloths and napkins and “good” plates in it and getting rid of the small bookshelf that narrows the hallway into our bedroom. We’ll see.

Anyways, I bought the smaller TV stand and went to Lowe’s to agonize about paint (wait, I bought a picture frame too, where did that go?). It’s suddenly four hours later and this is what I have to show for it:
firstcoat

….one coat of paint on one side. TO BE FAIR, I had to sand everything first.

But I enjoyed myself immensely, just sitting on the floor of the garage, in quiet, painting away.

A Short Play

Standard

(Or, How I love 1Password and even bought one of their really geeky tshirts)

Scene: Last night

Newly restored iPhone: Put in your voicemail password!

Me: Uhhhhhhhhhhh (try a few random 4-digit combos)

iPhone: NOPE

Me: UHHHHHHHHHHHHH I DO NOT KNOW

iPhone: NOPE

Me: Maybe I put this in 1Password?

1Password: Here is your voicemail pin!

iPhone: Yep!

Me: Yay!!

The Worst Belly Button

Standard

**I apologize in advance if this offends or upsets you. Please don’t read it if so. I just needed to write it out.

“It might be something, but it might be nothing, we don’t really know yet.”

I was sitting in a tiny room with a obstetrician (presumably?) I’d never met, and a trailing medical student who didn’t say anything, but handed me a box of tissues, even though I wasn’t crying. They had brought me in there after the doctor had done a re-scan of the ultrasound. I thought she was rescanning to show the medical student how to do something. She wasn’t.

The ultrasound technician had said nothing. We’d done a whole, nearly hour long scan at 12 weeks 4 days of the baby. This is known as an NT scan or a genetics scan. Along with looking to see that everything is looking normal, they measure the nuchal translucency (NT) along the back of the baby’s neck. A wide reading is an indicator of Down’s Syndrome. They combine this scan data with some blood work I had done at 10 weeks, and give you a rough indication of your likelihood for Down’s, and a couple other trisomies.

“The good news,” the doctor said, “is that your risk for Trisomy 18 is extremely low, basically as low as you can get, and your risk for Down’s is also very, very low.”

“The bad news, however, is that your baby’s intestines are growing in a sac outside its stomach.”

This is called an omphalocele. They didn’t tell me how to spell it. It sounds like em-phal-lo-ceel. I saw it scribbled on some of the paperwork that the doctor had in her hands.

Omphalocele, also known as exomphalos, is a birth defect of the abdominal (belly) wall. The infant’s intestines, liver, or other organs stick outside of the belly through the belly button. The organs are covered in a thin, nearly transparent sac that hardly ever is open or broken.

The doctor and her silent student (whom I later came to associate with bad news) left and sent in a genetic counselor.

Now, mind you, I’m alone here. I went to this scan thinking it was a routine, no big deal thing. I also went to this scan with a full bladder, because they want you to drink 1 liter of water beforehand. I had had to practice drinking water early in the morning (the scan was at 7:30) for WEEKS ahead of time, because early-morning-water was one thing that had been consistently making me nauseous.

The genetic counselor explained that omphaloceles are usually associated with a chromosomal/genetic abnormality, like Trisomy 18 or 13. They offered to do a MaterniT21 test, which is a more definitive test for chromosomes 13, 18, 21, and sex chromosomes. I agreed, and they took some of my blood. This test takes about 7 days to come back. They wanted me to come back for a follow-up ultrasound in a little over a week, so the test would have time to come back. I didn’t know then that we wouldn’t even hear those results until I was lying in a hospital bed, recovering from a d&c.

So here’s the thing, when babies are developing in utero, their intestines grow so fast that they protrude out the stomach and into the umbilical cord. Somewhere before week 12, they’re supposed to have retracted entirely back into the stomach. This seems like poor planning on Mother Nature’s fault, but I digress. When I initially heard about this omphalocele, I thought that the timing was just off. I’d always had irregular periods, and long cycles. Maybe I was really still sub-12 weeks and the dating of the baby was off. The baby-dating process is just averages, anyways. Like, they decided that 1.5cm =8w1d (not actual measurement). And clearly, every baby is not identical. We don’t all arrive in this world weighing exactly 7lbs.

After the initial shock wore off, we really felt like this was nothing to actually be worried about. The dates were just ever so slightly off, and when we went back for the follow up ultrasound, everything would look good.

We went to a Halloween party that weekend and told all of our friends we were pregnant. I was 13 weeks.

Tuesday morning of the following week, at 13w5d, we went for the follow up ultrasound. This was specifically to look at the bowel and intestines, so she didn’t spend a bunch of time looking around.

The tech said nothing.

But it was obvious. The ultrasound looked like looking at a cross section of the torso, like if you sawed the legs off and looked up. A round circle of a torso. Except this torso quite clearly had an extra blob sticking off it. It was probably half the size of the torso.

The tech said nothing.

The doctor, who can say something, was not in yet. We had to wait. We went out to the hospital lobby and waited, pretty much in silence, for 40 minutes. We went back.

The tech said nothing.

The doctor finally arrived, and the tech ushered us in to a different genetic counselor’s office.

We didn’t even talk to a doctor that day.

But do you know who was in the counselor’s office? Yeah, that’s right. The medical student. “I remember you!” I said, as we walked in.

The omphalocele had not changed. It was still there. It was not something that was going to resolve on its own.

She started listing various issues that could be its cause or be caused by it. Including: kidney defects, renal failure, heart defects, neural tube defects, thick tongues, chromosomal malformations. 60% of omphaloceles are caused by genetic defects. I later learned that it has a 25-80% mortality rate, depending on the severity. Assuming it didn’t die in utero, it would likely have to be a c-section. The baby would be put in the NICU immediately and require an unknown number of surgeries to correct it.

They said they could do an amnio at 15 weeks for genetic data. An amnio takes 1 month to come back with all data. That is 19 weeks.

I’m not really sure how long we were there. I remember walking out of the office and seeing a woman waiting for her ultrasound. She had four kids and her husband with her. I remember thinking that that seemed incredibly unfair.

My parents drove down from their house that day to stay with us. A friend dropped off muffins. I got a migraine from crying so much.

By the next morning, I knew I had to end the pregnancy. It really didn’t matter whether it was a genetic defect or not. It was still a problem and could cause other complications, regardless of genetics. It seemed easier to end a pregnancy at 13/14 weeks than to wait until nearly 20. You could maybe feel the baby move by 20.

We called the genetic counselor, who called the women’s health coordinator at the other hospital. They only do “elective” d&cs on Fridays. This was Wednesday. At some point, someone said, “You should have started this on Monday.” (regarding insurance). Gee. Thanks. I spent a lot of the afternoon on the phone with my insurance, and then my primary care, and then managed care, trying to get it approved quickly. If they didn’t get it approved that day, I would have had to wait another week. Which, at the time, seemed like one of worst things imaginable. At 5:30 that evening, the coordinator called back. They got it approved and had had a cancellation. I had an appointment for pre-op at 8a the next morning. She mentioned something called “laminaries” and said they may or may not have to use them.

*Squeamish Warning*

Laminaries (which I still have not googled), turn out to be tiny, thin little tampon-like devices that they insert into the cervix the day before the procedure to force it to dilate. They only use it after 14 weeks. Guess who was 14 weeks that day? I couldn’t catch a break.

*End Squeamish*

After the pre-op, they mentioned there might be some cramping and discomfort. They sent me home with ibuprofen and Vicodin. I hadn’t been able to take ibuprofen in months!

Ok, so I haven’t been through labor, which I assume is worse, but this is my new high-water mark for pain. I had the most horrible cramps the entire rest of the day. Vicodin merely lessened the torture for an hour or two. I woke up at 3a, and never got back to sleep.

The procedure was at 7:30a and we had to be at the hospital by 5:30a. We waited a lot, and read some trashy magazines. When it was finally time, they took my glasses, and then asked me to walk down the hall to the OR. I couldn’t see. I followed the anesthetist.

I got on the bed. They strapped me down. Blood pressure cuff. Ekg patches. IV. I couldn’t see. They put those circulator cuffs on my legs. They attached this hilarious hose to the hospital gown. It’s some heating device and it puffs up your paper gown like a giant balloon. They told me they were going to give me some relaxing drugs before the anesthesia. The OB in charge was stroking my arm. I thought it was nice, but weird. That’s the last thing I remember.

I woke up shivering, violently, all over. Mike was there. One of the doctors must have been standing nearby, but my eyes were not open. I asked how it went. Mike said it went fine. The doctor told Mike I would probably ask that multiple times. In my stubbornness, I thought, “NO I WON’T” and resolved not to ask again. The shivering subsided after a half hour. I finally got to put my glasses on.

After an hour, they took off the ekg and blood pressure cuff and pulse monitor. I didn’t even realize I had it on, still.

Another woman was wheeled out as I was getting dressed, after having the same procedure after me. I felt so badly for her.

There was some blood. It wasn’t that bad.

Physically, I recovered quickly. I was eating normal food by the end of that day.

Emotionally, it continues to be a roller coaster, 3 weeks later. It’s not going to get easier for a while.

Desk, Actually Interrupted

Standard

This week, they actually shut down the power in our office (and then declared the generator that they got for the neighboring building could also power ours). My co-worker and I elected to stay “down the hill” in the admin building for a sort of work-vacation.

But this also means my lovely standing desk is up the hill and I am not. I’m currently sitting in what we’ve termed “the reject hallway”. This office has a custom, built-in desk, which sounds fancy, but is more a collection of wooden scraps that someone bolted to the wall. No standing here.

Interestingly, though, I value much more being able to sit down.

So, I guess I feel kind of neutral about the standing desk right now? I don’t mind standing, and have a newfound appreciation for sitting. I’ve still not actually lowered my standing desk to sitting height–and mostly used my chair as a jacket holder!

However, it is super nice to be in the building where my users actually are, as opposed to the opposite end of campus.

Desk, Day 6 & 7

Standard

Day 6 3/14/13, Day 7 3/15/13

9:28 A: I guess today is day 6, since yesterday was a very interrupted day 5. I’ve been at my desk since about 7:30 uninterrupted, which is nearly my longest stretch. My heels are just a little bit sore, but I suppose it’s still early yet.

10:00 A: A half-hour later, and I’m already changing my tune. My right leg is majorly aching. I went and found a box to rest it on.

I apparently forgot to append this the rest of the day, yesterday (it’s now Friday). I gave up and walked down the hill at 10:30, just to get away from the standing. I puttered around there and helped a few people and came back around 11:15 and stood until lunch. Then we went to Eureka! and ate tasty food.

I was at my desk again until 2:30, and then I walked down the hill again for a break. Overall, definitely the most time I’ve spent standing, total. I could really use those mats.

Friday

10:15 A: Stood easily this morning until 9:20 or so, when Penny and I went down the hill to work on a computer. I am actually excited about sitting in chairs now! I imagine this will be the last post in the diary of a desk, for now. It’s not very exciting, over time. Maybe I’ll update once we get the mats. The box idea yesterday didn’t last very long. It was crushed in a couple hours.

2:52 P: I was down the hill the rest of the morning, then lunch. Been standing the rest of the afternoon. My feet seem to run out of standing-juice, comfortably, after about two hours. Then I start getting fidgety. Here’s hoping the mats come in the near future!