Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Quicker Picker-Upper

If you thought bleach cleaned your counter really well, just imagine what it would do to your baby's bottom!

Oh...bleach shouldn't be used on human skin? Well, what about bleach wipes? Wait, those either? I guess that warning label makes a lot more sense now:

In retrospect, is just seems so obvious!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Gray Matter

I am feeling very restless tonight. It’s 2 a.m., and I just discovered several gray hairs (white, actually) when I was looking into the bathroom mirror. They were nestled at the hair line above my ear, just behind my bangs.

I was at the salon recently, getting a cut from Carlos. I always tell him, “Do whatever you want.” The first time I said this he broke out into a huge grin, and although he always does a fantastic job, I thought, Why is he so happy? What did I just agree to? There was no need to worry about Carlos, of course. But as he was snipping away this time, he paused, then shouted, “Look, you have a gray hair!”

I saw age 30 a couple years ago, but I had yet to see a gray hair. So I yelled, “Pull it! Pull it!” He wouldn’t do it, so I asked him to single it out so I could pull it myself. I think Carlos assumed I was having a fake meltdown, but I still believe a minor anxiety attack was the correct response. When I saw it was snow white, I was both horrified that he was right about its very existence, and relieved that it wasn’t dishwater gray. It also reminded me of my grandmother, Celia, whose snow white hair always looked so pretty, albeit perpetually in need of a slight trim.

I was hoping that Snow White was an anomaly. A single strand that peaked before its time. But after my experience this evening, I know it wasn’t.

Normally, I don’t think this would be hitting me so hard but about half an hour ago I finished “Still Alice,” by Lisa Genova, a novel about a woman’s rapid descent into early-onset Alzheimer’s. It was very moving but deeply depressing, and left me vowing that my next read would involve a Parisian police detective who solves a heist at a candy factory with the help of his friends, a pair of married chocolatiers. Or something similar.

The malaise caused by the book will pass, but something else is weighing on my mind tonight. My birthday is about 4 weeks away. I don’t particularly love birthdays, but this time of year also marks another anniversary – the onset of my immune system disorder, CVID. I will be celebrating by starting home care, which my insurance company just approved. A nurse will visit me every four weeks to administer my intravenous immunoglobulin treatment (IVIG), replacing my monthly trek to the infusion center at my immunologist’s office.

Intellectually, I know this is a great development. Going to the infusion center isn’t fun. I get there at 8:30 a.m. and am hooked up to my pre-meds (a cocktail of Tylenol, Benadryl and a steroid, to prevent reactions) by 9:15 a.m., and start my infusion at 10 a.m. I then spend 3 hours hooked up to the IVIG, during which time I sleep, due to the Benadryl. Afterwards, I trudge out, exhausted from the medication and the amount of liquid being pumped into me, and pour myself into a taxi so I can go home and sleep for the next four hours and gradually regain energy over the next couple of days.

At least if I get it at home I don’t have to leave, don’t have to wait for the nurses to attend to anyone else, and don’t have to worry that I won’t find a cab during the lunch rush.

The home care company called me several times. I have, thus far, spoken to an intake coordinator, a nurse and someone from the pharmacy department. They all asked me a myriad of questions, including my height, weight, medications, fruit intake, freckle-to-skin percentage and linen thread count. They also explained that I should expect an introductory package in a couple weeks, which would include basic supplies. Like an IV pole.

My very own IV pole.

Nothing screams, “Hey, I’m young, I don’t have gray hair and I’m available!” like your own IV pole. In fact, I may add it to my eHarmony profile.

It’s funny, because reading “Still Alice” reminded me that I am actually very lucky. My immune system deficiency isn’t fatal, although it does increase the risk of other illnesses. It will never impair my cognitive function. And by discovering it and receiving treatment, I am sick much less often than I ever was before.

But the last two years has seen my life change in many ways, confronting possibilities I never thought I would be considering at this age. I can’t believe I am old enough to have an IV pole, let alone a home health care worker. I’m a little worried someone will pick me up one day, drive me to a nursing home and park me in front of a television, where I will nap in a wheelchair and only wake up long enough to complain that the television is both too loud and not loud enough.

Unlikely, I know. But frankly, I was kind of hoping that if I had to have a lifelong illness that I would at least get to keep my hair color for a few more years.

Oh well. I guess that’s why they invented Garnier Nutrisse.

Friday, January 8, 2010

We Are Not Alone

I have a new roommate. His name is Mickey. I've had worse roommates, but I've also had better. Mickey is happiest when I'm not home. When I am, he keeps to himself, only going from room to room when he thinks I'm not paying attention. He also has an annoying habit of pooping on the floor.

Mickey is the mouse I acquired during my neighbor's recent renovations. All New York buildings have creepy, crawly critters lurking behind their aging walls, and my pre-war space is no different. These four-legged foes seek warmth, sustenance and quiet surroundings. So when the pounding of walls and screeching of power tools started last week, they thought, Hmmm, where can we go? This is when they all scurried right into my pleasant little apartment. I caught two right away, after which I called the landlord, who sent the exterminator to plug up every hole we could locate. He used foam that expands and hardens to fill gaps, glue traps and blocks of poison strategically placed in out-of-the-way spots.

But Mickey...he was smart. He was already inside, and he had no intention of being caught.

I saw him fly across the floor a couple times, weaving his way around the long line of glue traps I had added over the course of the week. From the amount of traps, it looked like I was living in a crack den with an extensive infestation, rather than targeting one evil rodent.

The entrance to my living room, also known as "Glue Trap Alley"

Mickey began taunting me. He left droppings directly on the glue traps and still managed to walk free, which should have been impossible. I accidentally flipped a couple of those bad boys glue-side down on my hardwood floors, and let me tell you -- it was a nightmare, trying to remove the residue. And here was Mickey, using them as a bathroom and casually going about his business.

(Dear PETA, please do not complain about my use of "inhumane" glue traps. I tried other contraptions that don't harm the mice -- but they also didn't catch the mice. I respect animals, but I reserve the right to defend my home from unlawful intruders. Also, I enjoy foie gras, wear fur and eat veal.)

I went away for the weekend, and upon my departure I suspect Mickey said, "Finally, she's gone! I get the place all to myself!"

In his excitement, he got sloppy.

I walked into my bathroom last night and saw what I thought was dust behind the toilet. I looked closer and noticed it was green dust. In the middle was the bar of poison, a quarter of which was eaten. Like the evil queen from Sleeping Beauty, I laughed gloriously, thrilled that Mickey had taken my bait.

Sleep tight, sweet Mickey...