Thursday, November 27, 2008

What's been going on

To make a long story long, I really need for Dragon naturally speaking to work correctly. So I have to train it. Therefore, you will get posts that are too long and have too much detail with the sole purpose being to help me train DNS.

I sincerely apologize for the drudgery, the whining, and the extraordinary amount of detail that is completely unnecessary. If you are looking for an upside: it does put something to read on my blog.

TMI Chapter 1: education

I passed comprehensive exams!
I was convinced that I would receive conditions (conditions must be completed before beginning anything to do with the dissertation). I received a question that was dramatically different from what I was told to expect. When I finished answering the question asked, I knew that I would have a condition related to that. But I didn't.

There's a five person committee (professors from the department) that prepares the essay questions for each student. Most of the professors will communicate with the student and give some indication of the nature of the questions to be asked, the areas to be covered, or specific items that are “helpful” to know -- which usually means “memorize” this. In many ways, through professors and students, the repeated advice was “know” the theories and their theorists.

It was a huge compliment when, following the oral interview with all five professors, my chair said to me, “of all those sitting for comps this time, it was very clear you had the best grasp of theory." When I met with her a week later she asked, “has it sunk in yet?” I said, I keep wondering if they really meant it. And if maybe I got a “preacher pass.” She said, “let me assure you there is no such thing. You earned it.”

So now I am officially admitted to candidacy, and in dissertation phase. I'm working on clergy and grief. I'm still working on defining the parameters but if you would be willing to be considered for an interview say-so in the comments.

TMI Chapter 2: rheumatoid arthritis and “Big Dog” medicine

The Remicade begin failing in the spring . Anticipating the need to change to a different biologic, my RA doctor gave me brochures for Orencia and Rituxan in June. And the head nurse was given instructions to begin the paperwork to get insurance approval. During the July appointment, approval in not yet been received and the doctor’s clinic had been bought out/merged with a larger group which required a completely different computer system, different billing department, different insurance department, different lab protocols, and different lab personnel.

By August the office changes were not as stressful. And, they had received insurance approval three days before my appointment day. good enough. So I started Orencia August 4 and had appointments at two week intervals for the first three doses. I found out that Orencia is a “slow load" During the first infusion (it is delivered via I. V.), and that results are not usually noticeable until three months. That was well past the date for comprehensive exams and I was quite concerned about my ability to function.
I was having pain that my doctor identified as nerve pain rather than the usual muscle and joint pain. I don't remember my RA being inflamed enough to add nerve pain during any previous flares. But once identified, Lyrica was added. It made a dramatic difference in three days time. It gave me, “Swiss cheese” brain but managed the pain.

So my thought processes were not what I wanted. I had significant difficulty walking, and my shoulders were very painful. But my hands were fine for typing and writing.

I'm now far enough into the dosing that I can tell it is working, but it's not fully effective yet. At least that's my hope; that I will continue to feel better. I still battle fatigue that is very thick. As a side note,. There was an interesting event that developed in October when the insurance declined to pay for the Orencia . Yes, The pre-approved medicine was denied. It is billed at $3000 per dose. I think it's straightened out now, but it made for some frustrating phone calls that involved too much Muzak and too many transfers with not enough clear answers.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

All Saints

When the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC was designed, there was a controversy over which design should be selected. A wonderful young Asian-American artist submitted an unusual design -- a partially buried, long wall of polished black granite. Most who saw the proposal did not like it at first. It did not look like a typical memorial. There were no heroic figures of warriors. There were no representative generals. All that was there were a long list of all those who had fallen in the American forces in Vietnam.

Thousands of names were listed, not in alphabetical order, for that would be like listing them in the phone book, but rather in the order of the date in which they fell.

If you have ever visited the Vietnam Memorial, you know that it has a stunning effect. The most memorable effects are those rows and rows of names. So many names. And there is an additional effect. As we stand at the wall, looking at the names, suddenly we realize that we see our won face reflected in the polished black granite. We stand there, looking at ourselves, our own reflection, our own face, with all the names of the dead.

In a way, this is what All Saints' is like. We remember the saints, all of them, not just the more notable martyrs, but your Sunday school teachers when you were a child, your parents, the preacher, all those who have preceded you in this church and in the faith. And yet, as we remember their names, we see ourselves reflected in them. We join the procession down through the ages. We take our places along with them. We focus on the saints and we see our own contemporary faces reflected in their names.

Friday Five from RevGalBlogPals

Revgalblogpal Friday Five: Positive Potpourri Edition

as posted by will smama

Greetings friends! It's been awhile since I've contributed to the posts here at the revgalblogpals website, but I agreed to step into the Fifth Friday of the Month Friday Five slot.

So here I be.

As I zip around the webring it is quite clear that we are getting BUSY. "Tis the season" when clergy and laypeople alike walk the highwire from Fall programming to Christmas carrying their balancing pole with family/rest on the one side and turkey shelters/advent wreaths on the other.

And so I offer this Friday Five with 5 quick hit questions... and a bonus:

1) Your work day is done and the brain is fried, what do you do?

Watch a previously recorded episode of some tv show that I didn't have time to watch when it actually aired. maybe read a fiction book. maybe crochet -- but that one is a big maybe.

2) Your work week is done and the brain is fried (for some Friday, others Sunday afternoon), what do you do?

If it's Sunday, it's a nap. If it's Friday, it's a football game because the SportsQueen is in the marching band. If it's any other liberated time, geocaching! well, even if it's not liberated time, it's geocaching if I can.

3) Like most of us, I often keep myself busy even while programs are on the tv. I stop to watch The Office and 30 Rock on Thursday nights. Do you have 'stop everything' tv programming or books or events or projects that are totally 'for you' moments?

There are no "stop everything" tv programming events that's what the DVR is for. If it's totally "for me" it's probably sleep.

4) When was the last time you laughed, really laughed? What was so funny?

The best laugh I have had recently that was not generated by my family was listening to 3 daughters tell stories about their mom in preparation for her funeral. (I got called in because none of them are local but the cemetary plot next to her husband/their dad is here.) OMG, their mom was SO creatively funny. And the stories are unique enough that they would pop up on search engine radar so if you are that curious send me an email or call me.

5) What is a fairly common item that some people are willing to go cheap on, but you are not.

crutches. I have bright yellow powder coated crutches with brightly colored arm and hand pads with a detachable bag (my "crutchware" is no longer available so I'm not linking to a pic of them). I may have a body that requires the use of assistive devices but that does not mean I need to be boring about it. I got mine from LemonAid Crutches.

Bonus: It's become trite but is also true that we often benefit the most when we give. Go ahead, toot your own horn. When was the last time you gave until it felt good?

I was part of the very last minute help to serve food at our local homeless shelter. I didn't really have the time, like usual, there were others things to do. I got the phone call to please come help as I waited to pick up the SportsQueen from basketball practice. We went straight to the shelter. After serving, on the way to the car, the SportsQueen said, "Thanks, Mom. I really wanted to do that but I didn't think we were going to be able to. I'm really glad we came. Thanks."

Let us know in the comments if you played and I'll come around and visit. The first 50 are entered into a drawing for a new car (sorry, that's a lie. We are immersed in political attack ads here in the US that lie and so I thought I would join in). Seriously, go ahead and let us know if you play. I will visit. And buy you a new house (lie). The last person to do the Friday Five is a socialist and hangs out with computer viruses (STOP!). Do I qualify as a socialist???
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