Thursday, October 30, 2008

Book Friends

This post has been formulating in my mind for a while, but I think I'm finally ready to put it out there. A couple days ago I got an e-mail from my husband asking if I would put together a book list for someone at his work. There are a few people in my life who ask me to do this for them (and I don't mind doing it at all) but this is the first time someone I have never met has asked me to do it.

At work recommending books is what I do. I get caught up in other things, other projects but at the end of the day my job title is simple: bookseller. Every now and then I feel a sense of pride because I am good at what I do. I can recommend a book successfully to most people and sometimes those same people come back and ask me if I have another recommendation for them. And before too long a customer becomes a little bit more than a customer. I wouldn't classify them as a friend but they hover somewhere in between friend and customer. Perhaps they are their own category: book friends.

It makes me feel like I'm doing something right when someone comes in the door and says, "Oh, I love what you recommend. What should I read next?" I don't have what people may classify as an amazing job. I don't save lives, I don't win important cases in court, I don't run a business or anything else that people may think is worthy. But I do get to see people at both good and bad times and I get to recommend books to help them through the bad times, or to help the good times last.

Every now and then it's good for me to be jolted out of complacency and remember why I work at a bookstore and why I love it. I can't describe how fulfilling it is but lately I've been having days where I am reminded over and over again that right now this is what I am supposed to be doing and I am good at it. I am socially awkward in many, many ways but I can always connect with people over books. Always.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Hate Hospitals

Today I had to go to the hospital for a cardiac pulmonary stress test. Yeah, it was about as fun as it sounds. I hate, hate, hate hospitals and this test was all the more awkward because I had to go to my husband's department to take it. I'm glad that Jonathan knows people that might be able to help me solve this breathing problem (which has been going on since '05!) but it would be great if his colleagues had never seen me on a treadmill, hooked into all kinds of machines and breathing like I may pass out at any moment. Did I mention the huge clip that gets attached to the nose during all of this? Oh, and how about the fact that they have to venture up your shirt, A LOT, to insert, and then mess with, the cardiac attachments. I know his colleagues don't think anything of it, it's their job etc. etc., but all I can think about is the next Christmas party. "Oh, so this is what you look like when your shirt is in its proper place and you're not sputtering and sweating all over the place ..."

Okay, I'm exaggerating a bit, but it was still fairly embarrassing for me. And the entire time they're doing the test you can't talk because you have to hold the mouth piece in place. But they want to know how you are doing so you have to throw up 1 - 10 fingers every now and then. Here's the thing though; if a person ever gets to 10 they're screwed because they have you hold onto a bar to keep your balance and they have a pulse-ox on one of your fingers, which means you can't hold the bar too tight with that hand. What the heck are you supposed to do if you reach 10?? Throw both hands up and hope you catch the bar on the way down? 'Cause if you don't get it, you will fall forward and your face will end up catching you. Talk about embarrassing.

I made it to 6 1/2 before I had to have them stop the test because I was dizzy. I was worried they didn't get enough data but they all told me I did great and went on their merry way. Then in the parking garage Jonathan informed me that they just keep going until you tell them to stop or until they reach a certain level. I wish I would've known that before I started the test?! I thought they were in control. I didn't know I could have stopped at any moment. If I would've known that I would've walked in one door and right out the other.

Next week I meet with the pulmonary doctor I've been seeing to go over the results of this plus my other tests. Although just before he left the stress test room he appeared very confused and was talking about how he would have to "think about this case." We did ascertain one thing though. I definitely, no way, no how, not possible, do not have asthma.

My case is complicated for a lot of reasons but the main one is my thyroid problem. I have Graves Disease, also known as Hyperthyroidism and that makes the breathing problem difficult to diagnose.

A few years back when I was doing the test rounds to try to figure out my Graves Disease I realized just how much I hate doctors and hospitals. Figuring out my little disease was very convoluted and I saw a lot of incompetent doctors. Once a doctor diagnosed me I remember trying to come to terms with Graves Disease and having a chronic illness and how that would affect me. That was not a good time in my life. I had a lot of information coming at me and I didn't have a good doctor who could help me process it. It wasn't until I found my specialist that I realized what was happening to me and that I could control it and work with it.

In those confusing months after being diagnosed with Graves I remember feeling like I was beating my head against a wall. Chronic illness, chronic illness, chronic illness. For the rest of your life, for the rest of your life, for the rest of your life. Head against wall, head against wall, head against wall. And now I'm afraid I am going to have another chronic illness and it's going to be another depressing cycle before I adjust and come to terms with it. Or the doctors will once again draw a blank and I'll be back where I started, or where I am now - unable to breathe, petrified to have children, unable to run, exhausted all the time ... Or, here's a third option, that somehow it will be my fault. It is possible that I could be doing this to myself. That option can't be ruled out right now and that's just a scary thought.

So right now I guess it's just a matter of bucking up and realizing that this could help. That there may be a solution out there and the doctor I'm seeing now may have the golden ticket. I just hate going through all of this because it makes me sad, depressed and weepy. My poor husband, I know I'm not very easy to live with right now. Most of the time I'm raging at the world because I don't understand what is wrong with my body, but a lot of the time that rage gets spewed all over him.

I'm glad this day is over. I'm going to curl up with a good book now and hope for a better tomorrow.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I'm Pretty Sure I Killed It

I was driving home today thinking about everything but driving when WHAM a bird smacked into my windshield. This is the second time in the past 3 months I've done this. The last bird I think I killed. It hit my windshield and then bounced onto the roof of the car and then in my rear view mirror I saw it fly away. Either that or it was "flying" off the car in a death spiral, but it's impossible to know for sure. This one I KNOW I killed. I screamed, but managed not to swerve or brake, which I think is pretty impressive. Then I looked up at where the bird hit and saw a big bloody mark on my windshield. Yeah, that's right. I hit a bird so hard (I was going at least 55 mph) it left a bloody streak on my windshield. It took a few seconds before I could pull myself together enough to clean off the windshield. All the while I was still driving and trying not to tailgate the slow, slow, slow person in front of me.

I still can't get that huge THUD out of my head - it's going to haunt my dreams tonight. And the truly awful thing is that I can't tell my husband because I always give him a hard time for swerving around birds. Whenever he's driving and goes into the other lane to miss a bird I scoff and say "They'll get out of your way." But here's what he knows that I can't seem to get through my head - They don't always get out of the way!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What to do, what to do

Every now and then I read a book that makes me want to do something I wouldn't normally want to do, or even consider doing. A while back I read a book called Labor of Love: A Midwife's Memoir. After reading it I thought, well, when I have kids I'll have a midwife and give birth at home. It sounds fantastic!

The next morning I woke up and realized two things: a) I'm not even sure if I want to have kids and b) me having kids without pain medication is never, ever going to happen. I have zero pain tolerance and if possible I want my husband to give me an epidural at home before we leave for the hospital. He's in the medical field, surely he can do it.

I'm sure lots, if not most, women go through the process of trying to decide when to have kids, if kids should be had, etc. It just seems like I've been thinking about it a lot lately. I wish I could turn off that portion of my brain, but it seems determined to stay on and active. Maybe thinking about babies all the time is just part of being a 25-year-old female. I know I don't have a "career" but I have a job I love and I'm not looking forward to giving it up. And then there's the actual pregnancy aspect. My hips are going to get wider and they will not go back to their original state - is anyone ever really ready for that??

My dog is curled up in a ball and ignoring me, which means it's time to take her for a walk. A dog is all I can handle right now. I hope someday I wake up with the knowledge that I want to have children and with a date in mind. Part of me hopes to get pregnant accidentally because the decision gets made for me that way, but that's not very mature, or healthy! For now I am going to avoid books about giving birth in the hopes that that will quiet my mind.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The time has come

I've been wanting to start a blog for a while but I haven't had the time, or been motivated enough, to do it. After spending most of the day cleaning and organizing the house I decided there is no better time then the present.

I stayed up until 3:15 last night reading Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I haven't stayed up that late, or read a book in one sitting, in a long time but this book was definitely worth it. This is the perfect transition book for people coming off the high of Stephanie Meyer. I was very, very disappointed with Meyer's portrayal of females in her last book and I don't feel I can recommend it anymore.

I'm on a bit of a high after reading Graceling (and exhausted) but let me give you an idea of the book. Katsa lives in a world where people with Graces, or special skills are used and feared. Katsa's uncle, king of the Middluns uses Katsa's Grace, killing, to control and exploit her. When Katsa meets Prince Po, who is Graced with fighting skills she does not realize she will become friends with someone who will change her perspective of herself and her Grace. As Katsa begins to unravel a dark secret a rival kingdom is hiding she begins to wonder if there is more to her than her Grace.

In Graceling, Cashore handles the struggle to decide between self and lover marvelously. Plus she handles the intimacy between the two main characters very well, which can be difficult for young adult novels.

If you've read Stephanie Meyer's books, and even if you haven't, you should pick up Graceling by Kristin Cashore. And please recommend it to the teenage girl closest to you. This is a book young women will treasure and it has a very positive message about the importance of independence and self!

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