Sunday, April 27, 2008

Hotel California

MY GOD THIS HAS BEEN THE WEEK FROM HELL !!! Well, I'll start with the good stuff. My talk at the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbara went great (it's online here), I got a lot of good feedback and met some great people. During my stay at the Institute I was even given an office to work in (see above), not that I spent much time there due to the disaster that descended on Sunday...

As mentioned in the last post I have just had a throat infection, that I thought I had recovered from. Now I'm not so sure, and worse, I think that receiving my immune-crushing Remicade infusion (for arthritis) so soon afterwards caused the remaining bugs in my throat to grow into a horrific ear infection. It all started with being unable to equalize pressure in one of my ears when I flew into Santa Barbara, and that turned into pain, and then severe pain and high fever. Did I mention that it was painful? Let me illustrate:

The first time I went to the emergency room I got some ear drops and pain pills. They did not work for long. The second time I went I was nearly out of my mind with pain and fever. At this point I would like to thank the compassionate health care professionals at Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital for refusing my request to be hospitalized but at least deeming me worthy of a prescription for pain pills and antibiotics, and then shooting me full of morphine and kicking my ass out on the street. Thankfully, the staff at the Best Western South Coast Inn, where I was staying, made sure I didn't die in the gutter and brought me back to my room, even providing me with some food and taking me to fill my prescriptions.

By the way, have you ever tried to function while on morphine? It's a real drag, at least for me. I can hardly move, I hallucinate, and I get very, very sick to my stomach. So, while waiting for my prescriptions to be filled I was imagining that the pharmacist was making special eye signals to the guy behind me to give him free drugs. And while I was walking around the store waiting for my scripts to be filled, I was overcome by nausea and barfed all over the floor. In the drug store. In my mind, at the time, I imagined that the poor people that witnessed this just thought I was some sad junkie. Well, that might have actually been the truth. Anyway, I finally got my drugs and got the hell back to the hotel room where I basically laid in a semi-coma until the antibiotics kicked in.

Here are some pictures to illustrate what is going on with my ear now, which is diagnosed with a middle ear infection. Basically, fluid and pus and all other sorts of good stuff builds up behind the eardrum and doesn't drain properly via the eustachian tube, causing pain and pressure and deafness in that ear. Although I no longer have a fever, I still can't hear anything and it feels like there is a golf ball shoved in my ear. And that still hurts, although not as much as before. Below are some pictures as the Dr. would see the eardrum if it were healthy (left) and as it is now, bulging with fluid behind it.

So obviously I was too sick to fly home at the scheduled time, and needed a couple of days to recover as the antibiotics kicked in. Here is where I would like to thank American Airlines for being total sexist sacks of shit in refusing reschedule my return flight with me, despite my calling customer service two separate times and speaking with two separate people. Why do I say sexist here? Because when my husband called and explained that his wife had missed her flight due to an illness, they immediately arranged a new flight for me for a small fee. This despite the fact that one of the twats I spoke to just gave me the run around and put me on endless hold, and the other one said that because I missed my flight and didn't call in to cancel in advance, that I had no choice but to purchase a new one-way ticket home for $1000+. So pardon my language but just what the fuck is up with all of that?

Well, on Friday I made it back with just a few of the usual delays. Driving back from the airport I got pulled over for weaving across lanes while on my cellphone. I'm sick too but I didn't mention that to the cop. OK, I shouldn't drive while I'm on my phone and the cop lets me go, but since he made me take an exit to pull over, now I have to make my way back to the highway. In the process of doing that I am making a turn from a complete stop and BANG!, no steering! So I roll as far over to the side of the road as I can, thinking that I broke a tie rod (this has happened with other cars I have driven). Luckily the State Police are just up the road and a trooper drives by within a few minutes, and contacts a wrecker for me. When the wrecker lifts the car up we see what has really happened: THE ENGINE HAS FALLEN OUT OF MY CAR. Well, bye bye 18-year-old Pontiac. To make an even longer story short, Ron picked me up at the police station and the Pontiac went to the salvage yard where it will stay. Now I am without transportation which is a big deal when you have 17 Dr. appointments a week like I do. I think I have something figured out, though.

Well, that's my tale of woe for the past week. The good news is, I'm back home, I at least feel better than I did, and my talk went well. Also, this is the last week of classes, thank jeezus.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Random notes and then off again!

No sooner had I returned from ArtFest, unpacked, and dived back into work, but I came down with the flu. Combining the disarray of illness with my general lack of organization, I don't think that I will ever get around to doing one big post on my ArtFest experience. Instead, I'll just recount bits and pieces of it along with my week to week musings.

Here's my ArtFest bit for this post: this is a starburst window book I made in a class taught by Melissa Manley. It looks complicated but it is surprisingly not too difficult to put together. The covers are made with foamcore wrapped in paper, and the top cover has a clear plastic window over a niche into which you can put all kinds of little doodads.

The book is going to be about my mother as she was growing up (hi Mom!), so I have glued some scanned pictures of her onto some of the pages.

On the back of the front cover I made a little pocket for a pretty tag made by Anahata Katkin with the letter of Mom's first name on it. I know that flies usually have a bad connotation (see below, for example), but the fly in this picture is a *nice* fly.

I felt well enough on Saturday to take the dogs and my trusty camera out for a walk on the rail trail. It's still been too cold lately for there to be to many insects about, but a partially skeletonized deer was harboring a variety of interesting critters, including a carrion eating moth! It was dancing all over the bones and probing the carcass with it's proboscis, looking for pools of liquid. Plenty of the usual suspects (carrion beetles and flies) as well.

Yesterday afternoon while sitting in the living room, I heard the Crash! against the window that can only mean one thing- a bird has hit the glass. I went outside and found a beautiful hairy woodpecker lying below the bay window, still alive. I held it for a bit until it flew to a shelf at the side of the deck (that's the second picture), and finally it flew away into the elm tree. Hopefully it's fully recovered by now.

My thoughts are now focused on finishing revisions of the brain evolution review article (remember that? it's accepted!), preparing a talk for my trip to the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbera (leaving on Thursday), and getting started with a big painting project in the upstairs bedrooms. Below are the colors I've chosen, they use basically the same palette except one is "cool" and the other is "warm."

That's all!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Back from ArtFest

I got back late last night, and today I'm tired but happy. ArtFest was a blast and I am so glad that I went. It was such a great experience just to be able to be creative and to play for a few days- I felt like I was in summer camp (right down to living in a dorm).
Time to go to work now, but I will post a more detailed synopsis later.