January 28, 1986.

I was 7 years old and a 2nd grader in elementary school. Two years younger than the age my daughter is now.
Twenty-five years.
I was sitting with my class. Watching live TV. This was the last day we ever watched a Space shuttle launch. Up until then, every single one was an event.
The Challenger.
It was so exciting. Christa McAuliffe was supposed to be the first teacher in Space. She was the pride of all teachers at that time. She was the first member of the Teacher in Space Project.
We had our own “Space” teacher at my school. She was a 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Hanibut. She was a spacenut. She even got a space shuttle simulator built in our school. She was one of the teachers considered to go up in the Challenger that day. It was a big disappointment to our school when she wasn’t chosen.
And then the shuttle exploded. 73 seconds after it launched, it exploded into pieces. All 7 crew members gone in an instant.
I was so young I didn’t understand what was going on at first. I didn’t understand why my teachers were gasping and then crying. Finally, someone explained it to us. It was a somber day at school. I heard a rumor that Mrs. Hanibut had to leave she was so upset.
When I got home from school, my Mom had been crying all day. It just wasn’t possible. President Reagan was on the TV that night offering words of comfort to the families of the deceased and to all Americans.
My grandma lived in New Smyrna Beach, FL at the time and used to watch all the shuttle launches from her condo right next to the beach. She was watching when disaster struck. After that, she never watched a single space shuttle launch again.
My favorite show at the time, Punky Brewster, had a “very special” episode about the tragedy. Punky wanted to be an astronaut when she grew up. I remember her crying as she talked to Henry about it. It was such a cultural moment. I read that within one hour of the explosion, 85% of Americans had heard about it.
I believe the instant that shuttle exploded, America’s love affair with the Space program ended.
Twenty-five years later it still seems so surreal.

No Good Title

My mom loved books.

That’s actually an understatement. Books were her best friends. Books were her constant companions. She once told me that she knew she could get through anything as long as she had her books by her side.
I felt like today my Mom was saying Hi to me. Just a little reminder, after a bad day, that she loves me. It’s something small, and mostly likely a coincidence, but it made me smile and blow a kiss up to heaven.
I’ve been drawn to this book I keep seeing over and over again on the Target bookshelf. Someone I admire recommended this book and I thought maybe that’s why it kept getting my attention. With a 30% off sticker on it’s cover, I finally decided to break down and buy it. Usually I would put it on the library’s waiting list until I had a chance to read it, but I impulsively bought it instead. Like my mom, I’m a sucker for books.
Today, I had a bad day. My mom could tell if I had a bad day from the tone of my voice on the phone, even if I was trying to sound chipper and mask my real mood. She could also tell if I had a canker just from talking to me on the phone. She knew me that well.
So I picked up my book. It’s House Rules by Jodi Picoult. I totally recommend it. Except, don’t tell me how it ends because I’m only half way through. In order to understand how much this quote made me smile, you have to know two things about my mom:
1- She was the smartest woman I have ever known.
2- She was a deputy court clerk for 17 years.
Oliver, an attorney, makes the observation:
“It’s just like nurses in a hospital tend to know more than the doctors most of the time; if you really want to get the answer to a question about court, you should spend more time buttering up the clerks than the judges.” pg. 193
I know my mom would have loved that.

History of my Cell phones

I was 28 years old when I got my first cell phone. That was only 4 years ago. I was a hold-out for a long time. I relied on a landline long after it was necessary. I just never saw the point of a cell phone. I was either at home or work, and if I wasn’t, you could just leave me a message. Sure, there were frustrating times when I needed to get ahold of the hubs, or vice versa, and a cell phone would have made that a lot easier, but still we got by. Then I went back to school. Suddenly I was faced with a situation where I would be in class and if there was an emergency or problem with my kids, no one would be able to get ahold of me. This scared me. The hubs and I tried looking into some cell phone plans, but with me being a full-time student and him supporting a family of 4 by himself, that was virtually financially impossible. Then the hubs got a bright idea at Target one night. He purchased me a Virgin Mobile pay-as-you-go phone. It was the cheapest one they had. I was such a cell phone novice I barely knew how to use it.
Here it is. My first cell phone.

Looking at it now, I can’t believe how primitive it looks. All my friends had phones that could “do stuff.” I don’t think this bad boy could even text. And if it could, I didn’t know how. I was just glad it dialed numbers.

Then in October of 2007, I was hired at my current place of employment. Part of my job is being on call constantly for my clients (I draw the line at hours where normal people are asleep…unless a baby is being born) and because of that, they gave me a cell phone. This is the first work cell I ever had.

Sony Ericsson POS
It was a hand-me-down from the caseworker before me. I don’t remember the screen ever being that clear. I could barely read the screen. The caseworker had wiped all the contacts clean in it except two, which I never understood considering I inherited all her old clients and therefore needed their numbers. I carried this phone around, along with my Virgin Mobile phone, and it got very confusing. Honestly, I had all but forgotten about this phone because it was such a piece of crap, I had blocked it out of my memory. Thankfully, someone at headquarters showed mercy on me and I was able to get a new cell phone soon after I was hired.
This is work phone number two.

Nokia of Unknown Name
This marked the second time I had to enter in all my contacts by hand. I liked this phone much better. And when they told us we could use our phones for personal use because of the unlimited calls/texts plan they got, well the hubs inherited my Virgin Mobile phone. He quickly grew tired of constantly having to “top up.” Their term for paying money to make your phone work. He upgraded a couple of times and finally ended up with an iPhone. He still has the number I got from my Virgin Mobile phone, which I think is kind of funny.
This phone is the phone that taught me how to properly used a cell phone. My cool-as-a-Slurpee sister-in-law, Holly, taught me how to text on this phone. Thank goodness for her! The way I was texting before was too slow to be effective. Small nations are conquered in less time. I was really sad when Headquarters secured a contract with Sprint and we were all given new phones. I had grown really attached to this little Nokia.

This is my 3rd work cell phone.

Samsung Sprint Intrepid
It’s weird that I’m talking about this phone in the past tense because I just barely stopped using it yesterday. People constantly asked me if this phone was a Blackberry and it is not. It’s the stupidest smart phone I’ve ever encountered. If I put this phone to my left ear instead of my right ear in my office, I couldn’t get reception. By the time I had this phone, I had gotten used to using the hubs’ iPhone and had an iPod touch of my own. So I was used to their easy-to-use touch screens. The touch screen on this phone is the exact opposite of easy-to-use. I can’t even tell you how frustrating this phone is. I don’t know how many times I yelled at this phone or wanted to throw it through a wall. And it marked the 3rd time I had to enter my contacts in by hand. Apparently everyone in the system was annoyed by this phone. I got this phone in the middle of an adoption placement and during our move into our current home, both situations requiring reliable service, and it was nerve wracking. It took me a looooooonnnnng time to know how to use this phone. I think the only thing I liked about it was it had a tip calculator. That was nice at a restaurant.
This is my current phone as of yesterday.

Droid X
Not willing to enter in my contacts by hand for a 4th time in 3 years, I figured out that if I put all my contacts into my work Outlook contacts list, they would automatically transfer once I set up my corporate email account on this phone. I can type on a keyboard much faster than a phone, so I was stoked. It took me roughly 4 hours to do it. I was doing it from home yesterday when I finally finished. I know way too many people professionally. When I was done, I deleted all my contacts and texts. But I couldn’t figure out a way to take off my work email and my personal email. I tried everything I could think of. The Intrepid is very user-unfriendly. Finally I had to call customer service where they gave me the combination of numbers and code to take it back to factory settings. What annoyed me is them asking me my account name and number when I explained it was a corporate phone. Please, just tell me how to wipe it clean.
Next I tried to activate my new Droid. The instructions that were sent by Headquarters were for the Droid 2, not the X. Finally I googled it and I found instructions online that taught me how to activate the dang thing. I was able to put my corporate email on there, but I was perplexed because my contacts from Outlook didn’t transfer. So I logged into my work email and went to the Contacts folder. Nothing was there. Everything was gone. I had spent 4 hours and 2 different days putting all those phone numbers and email addresses in there. I was freaking out.
I called our contact at Headquarters who told me to call Verizon. The customer service lady asked me what my account name and number was, and again I had to explain that it was a corporate phone and I didn’t know. After trying to convince me to use Verizon’s “Back-up Assistant,” I realized that they couldn’t do anything. They had no idea why activating my phone would delete my work contacts. Finally I called the Global Help Desk for my work. The brave young genius who helped me was able to restore all my contacts (this was after a mini-meltdown by me that involved crying and a lot of swearing). I was so grateful I offered to bear his children.
After a few minutes, all of my work contacts showed up. I found out that if you sign in to Facebook, the Droid X pulls all your contacts from there too. And it pulled all the contacts from my own personal email account. Now I probably have a billiondy contacts in that phone.
I’ve been using this Droid X for a little over a day and I have to say I like it. Using the iPhone and iPod Touch prepared me for the touch screen on this phone. It’s very easy to use and the screen is so clear and crisp. I don’t want to throw it through a wall (well, now that my contacts were successfully saved) every time I use it. We’ll have to see how it goes.
I’m just grateful because when I was looking through the paperwork they sent me with this phone, it said that this was a 2 year contract. Sigh of relief. Four work phones in 3 years and five cell phones period in four years is a lot to get used to. Some constancy would be nice for a couple of years.
It was so much simpler when I only had a landline.

Adventures in Kidney Testing

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been seeing a specialist because of chronic kidney infections. At my appointment with him he said he was going to send me for an ultrasound and someone would call me to set that up. He asked me if I was familiar with ultrasound, then quickly added, “of course you are, you’ve had 3 children.” Then he wrote in the orders for my ultrasound that he was going to ask the tech to pay particular attention to my left kidney because it is the most frequently infected one.

I went along my merry way that day and later in the afternoon someone did call me and set up my ultrasound with the hospital. The hospital scheduler instructed me not to eat or drink anything from midnight on the day of my appointment. The day of my appointment came and I woke up with a raging headache. Not even a trip to the chiropractor fixed it. I just wanted to eat something and take some Motrin. But I couldn’t. My appointment wasn’t until 1:30 in the afternoon, which was torturous. I decided to go to my favorite sandwich place and grab me a sandwich I could keep in my car and eat the minute my appointment was over.
I got to the hospital right on time and checked in at the front desk. They gave me a beeper type thing and I sat and logged into the hospital’s wifi on my iPod touch and checked my email. I was just about to start a rousing game of Trio Pro (that game is addictive) when they called me to be checked in. After the registration clerk scanned my I.D. and insurance card, asked me a bunch of questions, and made me sign my consent, she sent me over to the Women’s Wellness clinic where they do ultrasounds. Which made me wonder, what if men need ultrasounds of their various body parts?
Anyway, I had to go back outside in the cold to get there. The nurse was helping an elderly lady and told me to have a seat until the clerk got back. She was apparently on her smoke break because when she came back in, I could barely breath. Sorry to you smokers but I’m allergic to smoke and I have asthma. She asked me what I was there for (and she was not the warm and fuzzy type) and I told her a renal ultrasound. She said they didn’t have any scheduled that day and looked at my paperwork. She told me I was signed up to have a needle guided biopsy. Oh hell to the no. I adamantly objected and she got on the phone to admitting and said she was sending me to them. Then she sent me out in the cold again for another walk across the parking lot.
When I got there, there was a nurse waiting for me. Apparently they wanted to admit me, put me in a room for a “short stay” (whatever that means), sedate me, shove needles into my kidneys, and take pieces of them to analyze. I refused. I told them that they were going to call my doctor right that very instant because I was there for an ultrasound. And furthermore, who shows up for a biopsy alone? Wouldn’t you need someone to drive you home after being sedated? Or have someone hold your hand while they shove needles into your vital organs? So they sent me back to the clerk at registration who kindly called my doctor. He was on vacation and his nurse indeed confirmed that I was there for an ultrasound and told them to cancel my appointment and their office would call me later. I was really upset, because certain nurses were trying to bully me into having a unnecessary and quite frankly, scary, procedure. The registration clerk was really nice to me and gave me tissues. As I was leaving for my 3rd time into the parking lot, the nice clerks at the front desk asked me if everything was worked out and said they were sorry.
I walked to the car and called the hubs and was crying. I don’t know why I was so upset. Maybe because I was starving (it was now 2:30) and my headache was made even worse by the stress of the situation. And maybe because my time was wasted. Anyway, I ate my sandwich through tears and was grateful I got the cookie too. There’s no problem that a sugar cookie can’t solve (okay, there are, but I like to eat my feelings). I had to pull myself together because I had a client in the other hospital who I needed to go visit and she deserved my A game.
Two days later I called my doctor’s office. They hadn’t called me yet and I needed to have my ultrasound done before the end of the year. In 2010 my insurance covered 100% of all procedures; in 2011, only 90%. The nurse jokingly said to me, “what Marisa? You don’t want to just show up and have random biopsies?” She was really apologetic that someone got it wrong in the paperwork. She double checked my chart just to make sure that my doctor for reallies wanted me to have an ultrasound. It was sweet, sweet vindication to know I was right! She also told me I wouldn’t believe how many people have the wrong tests done just because they’re too afraid to say anything. She was proud of me for standing up myself. She obviously doesn’t know me because standing up for myself is one of my only talents.
Sidebar: I learned 7 years ago not to implicitly trust doctors and nurses to know what they’re doing. I almost died giving birth to my second child when a nurse tried to diagnose my placental abruption as a bladder infection. I really hated being told by this nurse, with a pat on my head, that she knew my body better than I did. So instead of being rushed into an emergency c-section I should have had, I was sent home to bleed to death. After a couple hours of unbearable contractions at home and bleeding severely, I stopped trusting in the nurse and trusted my own instincts. We have gut instincts for a reason. I went back to the hospital, where I delivered a healthy baby boy, and did not die in the process. It was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, and I have never again just trusted doctors and nurses without question.
Later in the afternoon, in the midst of a huge snowstorm and trying to say goodbye to my father who was leaving to go back home from his Christmas vacation, the scheduling person called me and re-scheduled my ultrasound for the next morning. I was actually glad I had to be in the hospital at 7:30 because that meant I wasn’t going to be forced to skip 2 meals (or even one). When I got to the hospital I was again sent back to the Women’s Wellness Center where I was on the schedule this time. Only the tech had me down for a abdominal ultrasound, not a renal ultrasound. Seriously, what is wrong with the scheduler in my doctor’s office? Luckily the tech was cool and listened to me and did the ultrasound on my two kidneys and bladder.
My doctor called me this morning with good news. He said my kidneys look good. If I ever get another kidney infection, I’m supposed to call him and then they’ll test my bladder to see if anything is wrong with that. For now, I’m happy to know nothing is majorly wrong with my kidneys. I need at least one of them functioning properly to survive. I’m a perplexed not to know exactly what is wrong with me, but at least I have a specialist now and somewhere to turn if I get another infection again. So for right now, my plan is to keep taking cranberry pills twice a day and counting my blessings.