Category Archives: stress

When treats are tricks!

This isn't Jeter, but this is what he looked like!

This isn’t Jeter, but this is what he looked like!

Late the other night, after dinner and a run and some quality time with a pint of Haagen Daz, I finally settled on the couch with a bottle of cider and my guy to relax. The plan was to pick up where we last left off in our much-delayed viewing of The Sopranos and I was very really looking forward to reconnecting with all of the involved.

Jeter was his usual good-natured self, happily enjoying a roasted marrow bone. As I refreshed my memory with a few minutes of the previous episode (sometimes I doze off) Jeter jumped up on the couch next to me, something he doesn’t normally do. I pushed him down. He jumped back up. I pushed him down a second time, looking him in the eyes and saying “no.” That’s when I noticed the marrow bone circling his lower jaw.

We sat him down and began our attempts to remove it. We tried to slide it, turn it and push it all to no avail. He wasn’t in pain, but he was drooling up a storm since his mouth wouldn’t completely close and he couldn’t fully swallow. I began to panic – be it one of the boys or the dog, I definitely don’t shine in situations such as this. I called the emergency vet’s office and we headed over to Latham.

We arrived to a nearly empty waiting room and a full staff of super nice people. Wagging his tail, Jeter left my side and went with a vet tech to a room where they sedated him and deftly slid the bone “donut” off his jaw. It couldn’t have been much more than 5 minutes later when the tech returned with the offending bone in hand and reassured me that they would be waking Jeter up and he would be ready to depart with in 30 minutes or so. Sure enough, a short while later Jeter came wobbling out looking a bit dazed, but fine.

$250 lighter and infinitely lighter-hearted, we headed home less than an hour after our arrival. While I no longer will be preparing small marrow bones for Jeter, it is reassuring to know that top-notch emergency veterinarian care is nearby. Also comforting was hearing from the staff that they see this same situation about once a month – and that it’s just about always a Labrador.

1 Comment

Filed under family, Local, medical, Recommendations, stress

Good news/bad news and a bit of a Grimm tale

The good news? I weighed less than I thought I would when I stepped on the scale. The bad news? I need to see my ENT surgeon post-haste. For the record, I like it better when the good news follows the bad.

I went to see my endocrinologist yesterday. I wasn’t scheduled to see her until January, but there was something about the thing I felt in my neck that made me uncomfortable. I made someone a promise that I would call first thing in the morning and I did. The receptionist was great and took my history after a single run through. A couple of hours later, my doctor phoned and asked if I could be there by 4.

Following our usual chit-chat, my doctor got down to business, dimming the lights and lubing up the ultrasound wand. With her usual thoroughness, she repeatedly scanned the area of my neck where the protuberance was. After a few minutes she asked if she could bring a colleague in for a second opinion. I stared at the ceiling, attempting to escape the room mentally by trying to see what the wattage was on the bulb, but as the second physician took his turn with the magic wand tears slipped from my eyes. The doctors conferred.

Their opinion? It’s either a “bad” lymph node or a chronically inflamed minor salivary gland. (See how I put the bad news first?) The plan now is to see my ENT on Monday and have her determine the appropriate course of action. I’m sure there will be some sort of diagnostics or study conducted. The hope, of course is that it is nothing serious, but my history leaves me feeling vulnerable.

To be clear, I don’t write about my health to garner sympathy or concern. It’s more an exercise in becoming accustomed to the possibility of yet another surgical procedure. It also feels a bit like an exorcism.  If  I express my fears and release them from my inner psyche they kind of lose their power.  Sort of like in that fairy tale when the miller’s daughter shocked Rumpelstiltskin by knowing his name, causing him to run away never to be seen again.  I’ve seen you before and I know your name, Cancer.  How about you stay away and let me have a shot at happily ever after?


Filed under cancer, medical, musings, stress

Levels of exposure


Burned out

Things have been a bit odd lately,  to the point that I’ve been wondering about “being out there.” In recent weeks, I’ve been busy, almost exhaustingly so.  On more than one occasion, I’ve fantasized about getting that stomach bug everyone had so I could drop 5lbs and stay in bed for a couple of days. Pretty sad, right?  Or maybe you’ve been here, too?

There have been events in the past couple of weeks (in January, the “quiet” month we all need after the hecticness of the holiday season) that have made me concerned that my name and my face have been a little too present in the local news.  And, no, disappointingly enough, I wasn’t arrested at some meaningful  protest or anything. It started when I took some pictures at the Wine Fest and ended up, through no preference of my own, having a picture of me being featured on the TU website in that particular slide show of shots.  Ok, great, how vain do I look?  Whatever.

The following weekend’s tragic house fire kicked things up dramatically. First, there was the interview with the very nice, Lily Jaymil.  It seemed rude to not answer a few questions, and her attempt to extract something meaningful from me about the residents of the seriously damaged home was more polite than pushy.  It felt like only minutes after she left, when the doorbell rang again – this time it was Bryan Fitzgerald of the Times Union.  We had a quick conversation and I shared a couple of photos with him, which he included in his story, in print and online.

These encounters were, I felt, in the realm of what one could expect when there is situation like the one which occurred across the street from me.  The next couple of things, though, were beyond my DSC_0007comfort zone, both physically and mentally.  The news truck parked in front of my house, with its constantly running engine, was beyond disruptive.  The phone call I received at work 2 days after the fire, from someone seeking information about the identity of the person recovered from the scene, made me feel nervous.  Apparently, after seeing my name on the news, this person unleashed the power of the Google and tracked me down at the school district where I work.  His actions were born of innocent concern, but it still felt invasive and I was left feeling uncomfortable.

I accept complete responsibility for the extent that I share my “thoughts, experiences and adventures*” as a writer, but I do need to consider my comfort level, along with the perils of overexposure. Bear with me, ok?

*The DelSo blog motto in a nutshell.


Filed under Albany, DelSo, Events, musings, Random, stress, Uncategorized

Are you my mother? And who’s my daddy?

It’s been a weird weekend…I kind of hit the wall on a number of levels, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, hit the wall  with numerous body parts.  Truth be told, I probably used my head the most.  I had so many options available to me; concerts, and old friends, and art and strawberries, yet I kind of shrugged it all off.  Unlike many decisions in life, I didn’t get that immediate tingling sensation that confirms many of my choices.  I’m thinking maybe I’m a bit numb.  Summer vacation can’t come soon enough.

Despite feeling less than great (I’m about to pop my 3rd Aleve in 2 days!) I’ve maintained my commitment to running 20 miles this week and it has been a struggle.  The music hasn’t been quite right, and even if it were perfect, my right glute is screaming louder than any song playing.  Not tremendously fun or satisfying.

On my run Friday, I passed two elder(ly?) women walking.  They were on the opposite side of the street and I was wearing contacts, which don’t do all they should to improve my vision.  I was taken aback by one of the women – she looked like my mother.  I think.  The last time I spoke to my mother in person was when she attempted a “scar-off” to prove that her heart surgery was way worse than my cancer surgery could have ever been.  Ok, you win and what have we proven?  That you have a heart and I can cut malignant things from my life and prosper? Fine.

Well, it is a little disconcerting to not be certain whether a person is, or is not, your parent. You’d think this would be a familiar sensation for me, growing up as I did wondering if every single man with a brogue was my father, but it was still weird.  I had a familiar train of thought ride through my head.  What will it be like when she’s gone?  Will I stop seeing her everywhere the way I stopped imagining every Irishman to be my father once I knew he was gone?

I’m getting ready to be a stay at home mom for 10 weeks and I plan to slow down, enjoy my boys and try really hard to make sure that they always know who their parents are, two people who love them dearly.

Leave a comment

Filed under aging, Boys, cancer, Exercise, family, medical, moms, musings, relationships, running, stress, Summer

Drug of choice

I can’t remember a more beautiful early November than we’re currently experiencing. It almost makes up for the muted foliage season and the need to crank on the furnace in October to offset the chill from our premature snow event. Something happened to me this month, just like I’ve always feared since high school health class when I learned that one could become addicted to heroin with just one use. I’ve found my heroin in cross country running.

Now, granted, once upon a time, I knew I was born to be a gymnast, however I started lessons way too late to ever be competitive, so I competed against myself. Maybe that’s when I became a non-team player. I remember one summer in particular, I practiced for hours with my friend, Brenda, in her cement basement cushioned with old mattresses, as she worked to perfect her side aerial and me my back handspring. I kind of lost my passion after an unrelated injury forced me to take some time off. There was an extended period of time when my feats were more social and academic than traditionally physical endeavors, which means I was too busy having a different type of fun to exercise with any real commitment. And then the babies came, which was an entirely different and engrossing physical experience, of course, leaving no room (or energy) for recreational physical pursuits. It was about mere survival some of those days.

I stepped back into the exercise world when the boys were in primary school, beginning with yoga. When I left my first class I remember declaring “I’ve found my sport!” I immediately loved it, the combination of physical stretching and mental quieting was just what I needed. Ultimately I learned that it really was all about the instructor and just couldn’t work a class I loved regularly into my schedule. And honestly, I need to exercise more than once or twice a week and would find myself easily bored with yoga. I needed something more demanding. Spinning class met the requirement for physically challenging, but again it was about the instructor and their music and I needed more flexibility in my schedule – plus I hated the competitiveness necessary to get a bike. And I got bored.

The only things that really held my attention, and that I could do on my own schedule, were cross country skiing and cycling.  While totally dependent upon the weather and season, these two activities provided everything I seemingly wanted in a drug exercise – I could go solo or with friends, there were both local and more distant places to pursue these interests, I could literally do either on a moment’s notice, modifying my route to accommodate time available and challenge desired.  And I could party exercise outdoors – something I found increasingly more appealing as I began to acquire the clothing and gear that allowed me to play outside and remain comfortably warm.   

But, now there’s something new in my world – an activity I never expected to like, much less fall in love with. Running cross country has changed my world. Perhaps my passion is a natural progression on the path of health and well being I’ve been increasingly drawn to you as I age. Which is ironic in a way because when I’m trotting along a wooded path in a park or golf course, I feel very much as if I’m revisiting my childhood.  The sensation of being outdoors, observing and absorbing the world around me while  pushing my body to keep going, is amazingly invigorating and stimulating. Like speed with a slightly different, less erratic heart race.  
I’m never going to run a marathon, unless running 26 miles is 6 times more fun than running 4.5 miles, and I’m perfectly okay with that.  The pure joy (now I get it, Lucinda!!) I get from running solo, or in the company of a friend, allows me the opportunity to continue my lifelong quest to enjoy moderation in all things.  Anybody want to come along and score some endorphins? 


Filed under Exercise, favorites, friends, running diaries chapbook, stress

Highlights and lowlights

This is the time of the year when I generally tweak my hair color to a richer, more autumnal shade. You know, add some highlights and lowlights to add depth to my color for the long dark winter that lies ahead. But that isn’t what this post is about.  I’ve been reflecting on the month of the September and recognized that I’ve  had some rather extreme emotional experiences in the past 30 days.
image from
I’m inclined to overshare events in my life, focusing most often on the positive.  What can I say?  It’s my way.  And my blog.  This past week I’ve struggled a little bit with my generally sunny outlook on life and I thought it would be a good exercise for me to kind of itemize the good and the bad to help me gain perspective.

Without further ado – the highlights of September 2011:

  • Visiting the NYS Fair with the boys and hanging out with my brother at his house.  This was the month when Q learned to swim and his time spent in my brother’s pool was integral to the process.  Bonus that my brother is a doctor in case of any near drowning  incidents.
  • NYC with the girls.  No further explanation necessary or offered.   
  • Participating in the American Memorial Triathlon
  • Outstanding meals at Cafe Capriccio and the Capital City Gastropub
  • A memorable birthday breakfast
  • Celebrating birthdays and a marriage with friends

And now, the lowlights:

  • Seeing people I love struggle with loss and personal challenges
  • Losing the only other girl in my home, Cassidy Bono Lilly, for a night.  She was picked up by animal control when an unnamed Lilly boy did a crap job taking care of her.  She is no worse for her night spent at the Menand’s animal shelter and perhaps appreciates home more now than ever.
  • Having a routine follow-up PET scan at Albany Med.  It sucks to walk through the door marked “Oncology” and know that you’re in the right place.

Expressing these high and low points of the month clearly illustrates that I have way more to be thankful for than I have to complain about.  I also can appreciate that two of the difficult things aren’t clearly about me – they’re situations which affect me because I care. Which ultimately is a positive, isn’t it?

I can’t be alone in doing this, right?  Don’t you weigh good and bad events in your life to try to evaluate how you’re doing?  Do you check in, and if so, how?


Filed under friends, musings, relationships, stress


image from
This morning at the gym, I noticed that a regular member of the 5:45 class I take, was looking a good bit thinner. As soon as I saw her, I knew: something was going on in her personal life, her relationship. My suspicions were confirmed a few minutes later when she spoke about a painting project at home and how she basically removed everything from her bedroom other than the switch plate covers.  There was no mistaking what she was saying, but, the instructor clarified by mouthing “divorce” to me.  Ah, yes. 

I know that people react to stress and challenges differently.  For some folks it’s all about consumption; be it food, drink or retail.  While the appeal of sitting on the couch with a pint of Haagen Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond certainly holds an appeal, I usually try to avoid this kind of reaction.  I prefer instead to get more exercise or even monitor my eating a bit more closely in an attempt to garner a sense of control during times of uncertainty.

I was pondering this recently (I’ve been catching some flack about losing some weight) and believe I have a tendency to lose weight during crisis situations to counteract – to balance, my sense of emotional heaviness.  When I’m weighed down by emotion and choices and fear and opinions, I exercise more vigorously and eat more sparingly in an attempt to feel lighter.  Because, if I have to flee, I want to be ready.  It’s survival.  It’s human nature.

How do you deal with stressful situations?

Leave a comment

Filed under Eating, Exercise, Food, musings, relationships, stress