Almost there...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vax Update

When last we left our heroine, she was reevaluating her weekend plans in light of a non-functional, extremely painful right arm. Friday Night Waltz was out, but dammit, I'm not actually sick so I'm not just staying home being miserable. We headed out to Swank Farms and enjoyed the moonlight corn maze and Conover Mystery Ranch. We found all 27 signs in the maze and had a good time.

Home for a shower and to bed when I noticed that I had some red blotches on my right arm. Everything I'd been reading online said it was time to call the doctor back. All the same, I was really just hoping it'd go away. Maybe it was just my clothes rubbing on already irritated skin? Or something...

I went through the next day, enjoying Si and Jon's wedding reception and going to see Frederik's Dial M for Murder at Hillbarn (which, just an aside - great show! A classically well-written murder thriller, well acted by a good cast in a nice intimate theater). But when I got home and headed to the shower, the blotches were bigger. I went ahead and called Kaiser Advice and got an appointment for the next morning. I took two Benedryl at bedtime hoping I could talk my body out of this.

The doc said it looks like a pretty bad but localized reaction. He prescribed Relafen, a newer anti-inflammatory, recommended keeping up with the Benedryl, and recommended an exercise to keep my shoulder from locking up as I babied the arm. I took the Relafen, but by 5 o'clock, I realized it wasn't doing the pain relief job I needed, so I sent Erik up to the attic to the Fezzis Things Box to claim some Tylenol. Luckily, this eventually did the trick and we didn't have to cancel our dinner plans. We stopped en route to dinner to pick up some more Tylenol since the Things Box bottle was running low and past its expiration date.

My week has been a rather silly chase of Relafen twice a day, Tylenol four times a day, and Benedryl at bedtime (plus the usual vitamins). Yes, I would like a side of pills to go with my pills, thank you.

Unfortunately, all this is sort of in maintenance mode. I don't know how long all this will last. When the meds wear off, the pain is unbearable. A coworker heard me talking with another in the hall and he said he got his flu shot two weeks ago and he still has a horrible, painful lump in his arm. My arm has a lump the size of a lime that I can only touch when pain meds are in full swing. When they're not, the skin is too sensitive to touch and it feels like someone is trying to drill through my arm bone.

I have a Lindy class that starts tonight. Not sure how to deal with that. I'm just praying there's a few extra follows tonight so that I can sit this one out without too much angst.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Not My Best Week Ever

I generally skip the flu vaccine. I have such a vigorous immune system that I very rarely get sick with anything worse than a mild case of food poisoning. Heck, I haven't gotten sick in 9 years of doing Dickens Fair, and that's during cold and flu season where I dance with something like 30-40 different folks a day. But, the drum beat grew louder than normal this year. A friend having a baby decreed that those wanting to visit said baby should plan for a flu shot and pertussis booster if you wanted to visit in the first few weeks. Since an item on my personal to-do list was to make food for this friend during those weeks, I decided to suck it up and get the flu vax.

I got the vaccinations on Tuesday around 10 a.m. By 6 p.m., I was feeling a bit messed up. The lymph node in the armpit on the flu shot side was swelling painfully. By the end of the evening, I couldn't raise my arm without a lot of pain. I had a powerful headache and my neck and shoulder were also aching.

The next morning I got up and dragged myself to work. I'm not a morning person, so I really can't tell when I'm feeling especially bad in the mornings unless there's some obvious feature like my eyes are glued shut or my nose is doing something untoward. I made it to work, but realized I really wasn't doing very well. The rather conservative 2 ibuprofen I consumed the night before was upped to 4 with my morning coffee (decaf!). Worse yet, I was feeling nauseous, so food sounded bad. I stumbled through my day, mostly powered by Advil, and thinking maybe I was feeling better until a little before 5 when the Advil wore off. Then I was sitting at my desk trying to finish a task so that I could go home. I couldn't seem to manage it and I was sweating. I took more Advil and waited, eventually just putting my head on my desk. By 6, I was up and running again, working on that document that made more sense now. The gospel of Vitamin I was affirmed. I made it home and dinner sounded vaguely interesting. More Advil at bedtime and I'd feel better in the morning, right?

Wrong. So wrong. I took Advil when I got up, but that was no good. I needed it at least a half-hour before getting up. My right arm was on fire. I had to have the husband help put on my bra because I couldn't possibly reach. Finally, I just sat down on the vanity bench in the bedroom and spent about ten minutes trying really hard not to throw up. I had to get to work. There were critical tasks and meetings sprinkled from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and missing it was not an option. I made it, but by 10 a.m., I'd sweated through my clothes due to fever. In my 11 a.m. meeting, people sat on the opposite side of the table from me because I clearly looked that bad. (I probably didn't smell great either.) I emailed my doctor to ask for suggestions. At 12:30, I couldn't eat my lunch. I forced down a few spoonfuls of soup and finally gave up an closed the door of my office to take a nap on the floor. Twenty minutes later I was up again. I took 2 Advil and 2 Tylenol, hoping maybe a little mix and match might help. My 1:30 meeting was productive and valuable. I sent Jo-Ann to the 2:30 meeting alone so that I could finish the testing document for Friday morning. I made it to the quarterly Campus Partners meeting at 4, but by 5 p.m., my fever was spiking again and I was struggling to stay awake. The meeting went over by 20 minutes, and I just sat there praying they'd wrap it up so that I could go take drugs and go home. I took more, and worked on finishing the testing doc, then tried to email it out around 6. I knew that I really shouldn't be driving, so waited a bit for the drugs to work more and finally headed home around 6:30. I forgot my phone on my desk, but didn't realize it til I was home and digging through my purse. I im'd Erik to let him know. Then I curled up on the sofa and focused on not moving. Erik made dinner and I picked at it a bit. He helped me get undressed for a shower, and eventually tucked me in, but the weight of the covers on my arm were enough to make me cringe.

This morning I had Erik get up and feed me Advil when the alarm first went off. I lay there waiting for it to take effect for about 45 minutes, then got up and got ready for work. As I sat in the parking lot at work, I realized I was feeling really feverish again. My normal temp is 97.6-98.0 and a quick check showed me at 99.2. Crap. The testing doc I'd sent the night before never arrived. I can't honestly say what happened. I mailed it at 6 p.m., but it never went. Luckily I'd printed copies and left them in Jo-Ann's chair. She got the testing session up and running and I stayed at my desk. I can't miss my 12:30 meeting, nor the one at 2:30, but after that I'm going home. No Friday Night Waltz for me tonight. In general, if you expected to see me socially this week and didn't, this is why. I'm definitely not "sick" in the traditional, caused by a live virus sense, but I'm experiencing a powerful immune response to a dead virus and I am not my usual self. Also, I can't lift my right arm.

I won't be getting the flu vax again. I can't afford this kind of pain and downtime every year when I don't generally get the flu anyway. The insurance just doesn't pay off for me. Erik got sick from his flu vax last year. Christyn got sick from the flu vax a few years ago and had muscle spasms in her arm for quite some time. If you feel you need it, or you're the type of person who gets sick easily, then go for it. But be warned, you may get more than you bargained for.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


After the hustle and bustle of excursions in Florence, Rome, and Pompeii, we had no specific plans for Corsica. We also arrived here on a Sunday, so many things were closed. This was perfect. We slept in. We did laundry while having a leisurely breakfast. We finally made it off the ship around noon and wandered through the local marketplace. It was a mix of flea market and farmers market with lots of cured meats, roasted chickens, fresh fruit and veg, and tons of cheese sharing space with jewelry, sunglasses, scarves, and t-shirts.

We walked down to Napoleon's house, but it was closed.

We bumped into Dave, Ashley and Melanie having a leisurely lunch in their own comfy clothes. Dave offered more ship trivia - the paintbrush in the Animator's Palette is a #6 because that was Walt's preferred brush. We chatted about Disneyland Paris and the ship heading to dry dock. There's less than 4 weeks before the Magic goes in for its overhaul, which is amazing. There are little hints of wear and tear around, but not much, and certainly not enough to expect the kind of total overhaul she's about to get, but, that's Disney maintenance for you.

We walked down to the beach, with the gorgeous sea lapping at the sand. We strolled down to the Citadel and back to the stairs, collecting some sea glass and colorful rocks along the way. Then the sea tricked me into filling my shoes full of water, so we headed back to the ship to lounge around a bit more.

A lazy afternoon of writing up travelogues, naps, and time around the pool followed before we headed to see Disney Dreams, one of the musical production numbers on the ship. This one was about a girl on the cusp of her teenage years trying to keep her dreams alive. There was an amazing Under the Sea number with a Sebastian puppet and dancing turtles and bubbles.

We stopped by Studio Sea to play "Who Wants to be a Mouseketeer?," the shipboard version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Next up was dinner at Lumiere's and Dave's super tough Disney trivia. How tough? I got 2 out of 20 correct. The winning score was 7. We wrapped up the night with the comedian Heath Hyche in Rockin Bar D. Tomorrow is a tour of Nice and Monaco!

Wedding Precipitant

Everybody gets a first dance or a bouquet toss or a cake cutting. When you marry a chemistry professor, you get a wedding precipitant.

(With special thanks to Ari for the awesome idea!)

First Dance

There's a sort of funny pressure that comes from having a wedding reception with all your dance friends (and your favorite dance teacher) in attendance. You're supposed to do a dance with everyone watching, and while it could just be off the cuff I suppose, it felt like we needed to do something... better.

We thought briefly about big production numbers like Tate and Elisa had or JK Wedding Dance, but figured we didn't really have time for that. We settled on a nice cross-step waltz, just the two of us.

We originally planned to work on this on the cruise. That didn't happen. Then there was a week of jet lag. Then there was lots of running around and prioritizing other details. One week before the wedding, we finally hijacked a room in Roble Gym and started working on it. After an hour and a half we were tuckered out and amazed that we'd planned about a minute of dance, and two minutes left to go. Yikes. We came back Tuesday after work and did it again. Then there was family and stuff and another wedding to attend, and while not confident, we quickly ran through it once in the kitchen on Saturday night and pronounced it good enough.

On Sunday, we started the party with the dance. I realized about one step in that my shoes were going to fight me and try to leave the dance floor, but we soldiered on. My coworker Jo-Ann caught it on her iPhone.

I danced with Richard later and he mentioned that he and Tracey had used the same song for their first dance. Go figure! At the end of the night, the music for it came up again, and he encouraged us to do it again for those who'd arrived a little late. The second time was even better with shoes firmly attached. It seemed like the perfect end to a perfect evening as well.

Don't Panic!

So, in general, I'm a much bigger fan of pie than cake, so wedding pie was the big plan. But then Effie said, "Oooh! I can make you a cake!"

Many emails were exchanged and finally we settled on something based on 10/10/10 = 42 in binary = The Answer To Life, The Universe, and Everything = Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy = Don't Panic (in large friendly letters). This seemed MORE than appropriate to me, as the thought of getting the government involved in my relationship was definitely a cause for panic.

So, a field of stars, and a constellation spelling it out:

Effie has made a lot of really cool cakes, but I think the one she made for me is the best!

We also had pie, including yummy yummy blueberry and blackberry pies from Nona's. Thank you Joreth!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We Did the Thing

And then I got the government involved in my love life. Weird.

Kev said, "So are you going to change the name of the blog? I mean, if you were Almost There, then are we there now?"

I thought about it all day yesterday. I'm still Almost There. I'm almost a manager at work, almost ready to embark on Project BorG, and almost lots of other things. I'm always a work in progress. Now I'm just a work in progress with a husband. (Yep, still sounds weird.)

Monday, October 04, 2010


After a day at sea, we headed into La Spezia to go to Florence. The ship did not dock, but anchored at sea and we tendered into port. It took nearly an hour to get to shore.

Then there was a two hour bus ride to Florence. This proved to be the most trying day of the trip.

Do you ever have those days where you're just a bit on edge? I do. I get those days where everyone annoys me more than they should. Usually, I just opt to stay out of people's way as best as possible. Having that day while crammed on a bus with 50 people is not a good thing. First, the gent in front of me kept randomly slamming his seat back into my knees without warning. On the fourth time, I snapped at him, begging him to please stop doing that as I was getting bruised. We left La Spezia and pulled off 10 minutes later for a potty break. Seriously? Yeah. Then we stopped again an hour later for an urgent baby issue. Sigh. Finally we get to Florence, and the guide wants to take us to three different stops before showing us where we'd meet up at the end of the day. This was "Florence on your own," so I was a bit grumbly about that. We headed out finally, aimed for Boboli Gardens and lunch. Crossing the street to Boboli Gardens is when Erik got hit by a car. A guy parked backed up into him before pulling into traffic. It was harmless, but unbelievably careless, and the guy seemed annoyed that we were standing there at the intersection waiting to cross. Much gesturing and shouting ensued and eventually he pulled into traffic and was promptly honked at by the car he cut off.

Boboli Gardens was unexpectedly pricey, so we opted to grab lunch first, then tour the gardens since it was less casual than we expected. Lunch at Caffe Ricci was lovely. Erik had lasagna and I had ravioli with butter and sage and a nice cappucino.

Once inside the gardens, we better understood the price of admission. The gardens are huge! We wandered around to the Island Fountain, up towards the top, down through the chestnut grove and down to the amphitheater.

Then we toured the Costume Museum (included in the ticket price). There were several galleries comparing 19th and 20th century fashion and some really gorgeous examples. There was an 1870s dress I just loved. The creepiest bit was where they'd taken the burial clothes from the Medicis and laid them out to better understand the clothing of the period, little of which survives. However, these were recovered after about 400 years of being on a rotting corpse. Ew.

We headed out again, back into the bustle of the city to go by the Duomo and acquire gelato. After a bit of wandering here and there, it was time to head back to the bus.

Reboarding the bus, an older man had taken the front seat. When the original occupant arrived, she was a bit surprised and asked to have her seat back. The guy said, "Nope, we asked. There's no reserved seats." She looked a bit dumbfounded as we'd been told it was alright to leave things on the bus in our seats. I offered, "She's just had knee replacement, so she did actually reserve the front seat." He said again, "No, I checked, no saved seats. I've had knee surgery too. Want to see my scar?" I turned to Erik at this point. With almost no words we agreed we'd give her and her husband our seat, one row back, and move back to wherever Fat Florida Man was sitting originally. I said, "Here, just take our seats. We'll move." The lady with the knee surgery says thank you, but has to turn back to Fat Florida Man and say, "Um, I left some things... could I just get those." At this point, Fat Florida Man's wife is embarrassed and she says, "It's okay, we'll move." They dive into our seats, and we move back to their original seats, immediately behind them. Sigh. At this point, I just turned to Erik and said, "Some people were never taught to be gentlemen."

The bus got underway and the tour guide offered to come down the aisle during the journey to go over the various things we'd seen and answer any questions we had. We were asking her about the grotto we'd seen at Boboli Gardens when suddenly Fat Florida Man's seat tilts back, whacking me in the head, Erik in the knees, and the tour guide in the shoulder as we all huddled around the camera. Shouts from all around saying, "Hey hey hey whoa!" He said, "Well I've got to have room for my legs." And Erik said, "There's just no more room." And the tour guide added that he really must ask before doing that. The seat tipped back up a bit and we all took a deep breath. I thought long and hard about the damage it would cause to my signed copy of Packing for Mars if he tried that again, because I'd have to bludgeon him with it. But, lucky for all, he stayed quiet for the rest of the trip back to the boat.

Before dinner we took a walk on Deck 9 to watch the sunset and found 2 for 1 margaritas. This was perfect! We also bumped into Kevin and Carrie and told them about the margaritas, so they grabbed a pair as well. We hung out with them, then headed down for dinner. Tonight was Pirate night at dinner, which meant that every place setting had a little pirate bandana.

What our server didn't warn us about was that after dinner, there would be turkey legs and carnitas served up on deck 9 during the Pirate party. This was too bad, because I'd been craving Mexican food something fierce! We went up to Deck 9 and danced with the pirates. Pirate Mickey arrived on a zipline just before the fireworks started.

We bumped into Dave in his fabulous pirate attire and he let Erik take a photo in his hat.

After all that we headed down to Rockin Bar D for Krazy Karaoke. Erik and I will have to develop a favorite karaoke song, but we didn't have one yet, so we watched instead. Turns out, there were some pretty awesome performances, especially by the staff. One bartender from upstairs sang Footloose and totally rocked, but the hands down best (as in, we were leaving but actually sat back down because we couldn't tear ourselves away) was the bar stockman from Diversions who did "Delilah" in the style of Tom Jones. Heck, he could be Tom Jones, save for being Philippino. It was AWESOME.

On that high note, we headed to bed. Off to Corsica in the morning!

Friday, October 01, 2010

A Day at Sea 2, or "And then Arul got us drunk."

The difference between the 10 day and 11 day cruise is that on the 11 day cruise there's a day at sea between Citavecchia and La Spezia (Rome and Florence). This is a really good thing. By then end of the day in Naples, I was tired. Waking up to go into Rome at 8:15 a.m. was hard. Then we pushed ourselves across Rome, seeing a 3 day tour in one day. A day at sea sounded really really good.

We slept til we woke up, lounged in bed, got up in time for lunch, opted for lunch at Parrot Cay at 12:15, so watched the first half of Up in the Walt Disney Theater. (Yes, yes, through the omigod-crying part, but also well past meeting Doug. Squirrel!) Then we had lunch and spent some time lounging on Deck 9 in the Cove Cafe (home of comfy sage green chairs) writing up travelogues before heading to the Mixology tasting at 2 p.m.

Then Arul got us drunk. You know this is going to be fun when your bartender/instructor's name is pronounced "I rule!"

Vodka Martini, Margarita, Mojito, Sunken Treasure, and B52s in one hour. We learned to make them all, talked about how to use various tools and liquors, and stepped behind the bar at Sessions to make cocktails for everyone else.

Erik got to make margaritas. I made everyone a Sunken Treasure, a mix of Malibu rum, Midori, pineapple juice, orange juice, Sprite, and Blue Curacao. It was tastier than I expected, especially considering I usually avoid both Midori and Malibu. Tasty it was though. By the end of the mojito, I was feeling it. By the end of the lesson I was tipsy. Then we each partook of a sample drink, plus Arul made his special cocktail, which was awesome and which I have to get the recipe for before I leave the ship. There was an extra shot of B52 available as well, so Erik and I shared hat.

After that we went to take Dave's "Art of the Theme Ship" tour. This is where Dave covers the little details around the ship. There are over a hundred different types of carpet on the ship, each one specifically themed to the space. For example, the carpets outside of the adults-only restaurant Palo interweave the theme of the pole that continues on the walls. It's also the only room where there are glass cases within reach of children because children will never be there. Even when they take the elevator to the tenth floor, they usually pop out, realize they're in the wrong place, then duck back in the elevator, as an accomodating group of teens did as we were all standing there. Other details include the anchors in the carpets outside the staterooms, attempting to imply that your stateroom is your home port and where you are anchored. Another detail is that the ceilings on Deck 5 are intentionally lowered. Deck 5 contains most of the kids entertainment spaces, and this is done to help them feel safe and large and in charge of their space. The whole treatment of kids on board is a sight to be seen. They get a tracking device wrist band and the parents get a pager. From what I've seen, if you've got a reasonably gregarious and confident kid, you may not see them save for dinner time. They get to make flubber. They get to play Wii on a big screen. Each age group has their own space (0-3 years, 3-6, 7-11, 11-14, and 14-18) with age appropriate activities. The kids love it. The parents love it. The only catch is if your kid screams relentlessly when you leave, they'll give it 20 minutes, then ask you to come get them, so for high anxiety kids, it's a no go.

Anyhow, the ship is gorgeous. The tour was fabulous. We're both just a little bit in love with Dave. He loves his job without reservation and his passion and joy are infectious.

We came back to the room and changed for the semi-formal dinner and Villains Tonight. Down to the theater for the Villains show, where Hades was insufficiently evil to maintain control of the Underworld. Somehow, he lost credit in the evil-o-meter for having Jafar and the parrot sing "Did You Ever Know That You're My Hero?" to one another. I don't know how that's possible, but it happened. Before dinner, we had time to play The Feud in Studio Sea. Our team did poorly at first, but finally came back to win it in the end.

Off to dinner in the Animator's Palette followed by the Villains Ball in the lobby. A motley collection of villains, plus the crew staff, led the guests in a series of line dances while confetti exploded around the room.

After watching for a while, we opted to call it a night. Tomorrow we were off to Florence at 7:45!