He stinks

sniffing homemade cheese
it is a great stinky smell
when in tiny neck

Ike-a-saurus is so smelly all of a sudden! Like blow-out-your-cheeks-put-one-finger-on-your-lips-
pretend-that-you’re-trying-not-to-barf smelly. For real.

I’m not sure how one gets so stinky while living in an isolette pumped full of regulated clean air, but I’m guessing it has something to do with trying (sometimes unsuccessfully, but mostly successfully) to keep 30mL of expressed breast milk in one’s belly every 3 hours.

I am so proud of his stink. He smells like a real baby. Not that he isn’t a real baby, or that I haven’t perceived him as a real baby, but something about the visceral neck cheese smell does my heart good. He is a real baby. A tiny real baby.

Yay!

A night out

The wee one and I had a date tonight!

We scored some free tickets to Ballet Austin’s "Not Afraid of the Dark" glow-in-the-dark ballet. (Well, I promised to chat up the ballet on the blog in order to get the free tickets – full disclosure and all that.)

But you guys… the show was great. I would say it was great even if I’d spent the $10-$14 for tickets (which isn’t a bad deal at all). It was only an hour-long performance, which was perfect for the wee one’s attention span. Disco balls, glow-in-the-dark dancing human-sized stick figures, a brief appearance of a glowing Hoberman sphere – it was a lot of fun.

They snuck in some real ballet, along with the cool tricks, so I’m happy to say the wee one liked those parts, too. My only vague complaint was that the costume for the "mother" in the show looked an awful lot like a maid’s dress. But maybe I am sensitive to things like that. Ha.

There was one part in the show when these incredibly bright lights flashed and the dancers shadows were frozen on some green screens. It was blinding, but impressive. Lots of oohs and ahhs and arghs! from the audience.

It was a nice evening. The wee one and I haven’t gone out by ourselves in a very long time. We had to get my husband to drop us off because I still can’t be hiking all over downtown to park, but I made it through the show without any aches and pains and that was a real relief. The wee one was overjoyed to have his folks home with him tonight instead of going to the NICU (which is what we’ve been doing every night after he goes to bed and there’s a grandparent here to watch the kiddos). He has been having a really hard time understanding why I need and want to go to the hospital so much. So having a night of no hospital – though hard for me – was just what he needed.

And the show was short, so no pumping drama!

If you’re in Austin and you’re looking for something fun to do with the kids this weekend, Not Afraid of the Dark would definitely be fun. And I’m not just saying that because they want me to. I swear.

It was a nice time and we really, really needed it.

Did you bring your pump?

Had the root canal a couple of days ago. I am unclear on why my mouth hurts more now than it did BEFORE the stupid root canal, but at this point I am not surprised. Hopefully, in a few days it will feel better. If you scrape out a nerve in a tooth, shouldn’t that tooth not hurt?

Oh, and in case you were wondering, dentists are lying liars. "Your root canal will only take 45 minutes." "You won’t have any pain afterwards – maybe a bruised feeling." etc.

When I showed dismay at being in the dentist chair for the SECOND HOUR, I asked how much longer it was going to take because I needed to pump. "Did you bring your pump with you?" the friendly hygenist/devil asked.

No.

No I did not bring my hospital-grade rented pump with me to the dentist’s office. Can you imagine pumping while hanging upside down in the chair. Can the hygenist suspend gravity so that I can pump during the root canal? My body would be filled with pleasurable sensations, wouldn’t it?

Speaking of bodily sensations, if I lay on top of my bed with no clothes on, and don’t move at all, nothing on my body hurts. My arms fall asleep, though.

Actually, other than my stupid face, the aches and pains of bedrest and surgery aren’t so bad today. I avoided the wheelchair for one leg of this morning’s NICU visit, and Ike-a-Saurus actually rooted around while we were kangarooing and was rewarded with a few minutes of suckling. He didn’t get any milk, which is completely expected, but just the act of nuzzling at the breast was amazing. He gave a couple of sucks and then I managed to pump about 14 gallons of milk. Ha.

Is this a rambling post? It feels rambling. Maybe that is because there is so much noise surrounding me right now. Why the wee one has about ten pounds of change in a scarf and is rattling it around remains a mystery. What will not be a mystery is why I take that scarf full of change and heave it across the street.

Oh, and by the way, my insurance has denied all of my hospital claims. All. Of. Them. That is a post I can’t muster the energy to write, because really. I could go on and on but Fuck Those Assholes seems to be very concise.

Ramble over.

Time to make the donuts

I would write a haiku but I am just too tired.

Even after sleeping through my pump alarm TWICE last night, resulting in huge, painful boobs, but four consecutive hours of sleep and then three consecutive hours of sleep, I can still barely move. My joints ache, my belly aches from the surgery, my back hurts, my head hurts, my wrists hurt, my elbows hurt, the only place on me that doesn’t hurt is the numb part around my incision.

This is why instead of waking up and feeling refreshed and happy, I just want to sit in my chair and cry. I am so tired of hurting. I am so frustrated that the reason I’m hurting so much more is because two days ago I dared to walk from the lobby of the hospital to the NICU, forgoing the blasted wheelchair. So now I pay for trying to have even the tiniest bit of autonomy. Boo.

And tomorrow is my root canal.

Is everyone tired of these intermittent pity parties? Ugh. I am.

OK. Off to pump. Off to take my weight in Advil. Hopefully off to the NICU. (But maybe I will take a break between all of that to play Raving Rabbids on the Wii with the Wee One. And eat. I should probably start doing that, too.)

Storm DIary: Day Two, Part III

The last installment from my dad:

Streets are being cleared, reporters are filing stories, and now
we’ll wait as reports filter on on the hardest hit areas near the coast.
 
It’s been 10 hours, and I expect to be here five more tonight as
we work to get a comprehensive paper and Web material for our
customers. I’m not alone; folks are putting countless hours to do what
they do best: cover a breaking story. It’s a huge geographic area, and
our newsmen and women are swarming to gather the facts, provide news
and numbers for people concerned about their friends and family,
helping gather information on everything from how to get a giant fallen
tree out of your yard to where is nearest clinic with power to will my
kids’ schools be open on Monday.
 
It’s sad to think that in a few years you won’t have these
newspaper professionals doing the legwork that broadcast and Internet
aggregation services won’t do…that is, get out into the field, work
with people, nag the government for explanations, come to the help of
the poor and rich alike when a calamity occurs. Not sound bites. Not
opinions and innuendo. Just hard facts and information.We’ll cover this
disaster for weeks.
 
So much for my soapbox.
 
This is the end of the Storm Diary. Ike has moved on, and so will I. Thanks for reading.

Storm Diary: Day Two, Part II

From my dad at 2:30 pm today:

Reporters in the field are braving swamps, floods, debris-filled
roads and other hazards as they try to collect data for our readers and
Web site visitors.
 
I went outside a few minutes ago (our elevators are back on line,
thank goodness). It’s deathly humid, and debris still fill the streets.
Some street poles look like a giant saw just sheared their lights away.
Glass is everywhere. Trees, awnings, outbuildings, signs, traffic
signals and other junk are everywhere.
 
Upwards of 3 million people are without power across the Houston
area. Piers and famous landmarks along the Galveston Seawall simply
vanished into the Gulf. In Houston, Brennan’s, a popular restaurant,
burned down at the height of the storm last night.
 
My car was safe in the company garage, albeit surrounded by a
giant puddle, palm fronds and some insulation blown in from another
building.
 
Police cars are everywhere downtown, checking IDs and ordering
folks off the streets. Another curfew starts at 7 p.m. Many of our
editors still won’t be able to get in today because of road closures in
and around downtown. Some have had damage to their property, trees and
fences down.
 
We plan to have normal deadlines tonight, meaning we’ll be here at
least until 11 p.m. or later filling the paper with news and the Web
site with comment. Some reporters and editors also will be here
overnight to provide updates.
 
Ike. You won’t be forgotten.

Storm Diary: Day Two

My dad’s report from this morning:

Carole took Gus and fled to Austin. [Kari’s note: That’s my mom and their elderly dog]
I’ve been at the Chronicle, reporting on the storm. Don’t know how my house fared, but the
damage is pretty incredible along the coast. Downtown looks like a tornado hit it, but power remarkably is still on. Condition of water supply is in doubt.

We survived the eye of Ike. Some of us stayed at the Chronicle last night. Others, like me, bravely walked through 48 mph gusts two blocks to the Magnolia hotel.

I stayed on the 12th floor. Filled the tub with water as advised. Snacked on fruit and water. About 3:20 a.m. awoke to rumblings. As little Georgia would say, IT WAS LOUD as Ike rumbled through town. Wind whipped through the downtown canyons make awful rumbling
sounds. The elevators sprang leaks. The water in my tub was making its own waves. Pretty scary. But despite various leaks, the hotel weathered its storm. Lost its satellite connection. Had to walk up and down 12 flights.

BUT, downtown is an oasis of electricty, thanks to underground utilities and the upgrades since Hurricane Rita. We had a hot breakfast and a/c this morning. Again stupidly walked back to the Chronicle in the rain and wind.

The streets are full of debris. Awnings down. High-rise windows smashed and STILL falling. Loads of metal window frames in the streets. All the trees surrounding our building are uprooted. Looks like a tornado hit. Water supply’s safety is in doubt.

But we are the fortunate ones. Power is out everywhere all over metro Houston and beyond. Folks who stayed in Galveston and the low-lying areas of area are suffering. The city manager has asked photographers not to take photos of "certain things," presumably
bodies.

We’re working on the Web site now, and lots of folks are doing their best to tell readers and their friends and family about survivors and the condition of their communities.

Storm Diary

My dad is directly in the path of Hurricane Ike right now.

Not because he is a dumbass, but because he is one of the folks in charge of getting out the Houston Chronicle. The paper has to come out, no matter what!

The big wigs at the Chron have rented out rooms at a hotel across the street for the staffers when their shift is over, but Dad isn’t sure they’ll be able to make over there, as that will be in the wee morning hours.

He has been emailing updates from the newsroom and I thought I would post snippets of them here – a sort of liveblog of Ike.

Dad is hunkered down at the Chron building in downtown Houston right now. The windows of the newsroom have been boarded up so the newspaper folks won’t be writing the paper amidst shards of glass.

Anyway, here are some reports from my dad:

Friday, 4:54pm:

Durn, I forgot to fill both tubs with water. They say if the power
is out for several days, the water plants may be affected. Might be
tough to flush the toilets without water. I did pull the grills into
the garage, so I can cook any food that will thaw if the power goes out.
 
It’s a dangerous storm. Galveston and Surfside are being destroyed
right now. There also was a big fire on Seawall Blvd. that destroyed a
business. It’s not the wind, it’s the giant storm surge. Kind of like a
tsunami. Scores of people already have had to be rescued; stupid folks
who wouldn’t leave the coast.
 
We’re told that the hotel will send a shuttle bus for us and that
they will keep a skeleton crew on hand to cook us dinner, breakfast and
lunch. Hope that’s true, but we will may not want to go over there
tonight if the winds are too bad. We’ll just have to wait and see.
 
All is calm in the office. Everyone brought snacks and sleeping
bags. There are a bunch of air mattresses and plenty of bottled water.
We had barbecue sandwiches and chips for lunch (not very good, sad to
say, but better than nothing).
 
I think our biggest challenge will be after the storm hits tonight
or early tomorrow. We have generators but they’re short-term. If all
the power goes, we won’t be able to produce a real paper. We have a
staff in San Antonio to print an 8-page paper. Reporters can upload
stories from their laptops. We have a staff in an emergency bunker in
Conroe that can keep producing the Web page.
 
It’s going to get pretty scary outside later.

5:00pm – about the Chronicle’s bunker (I don’t know the source of this, other than my dad, but I will post it when I find it):

This is interesting about our bunker:

 

It’s an old Cold War-era underground bunker about 50 miles north of
Houston in Conroe that we lease with several other companies (like
Continental Airlines).The fortresslike shelter was built by a Taiwanese
businessman, Louis Kung, who founded Westland Oil Development Corp. in
1955.

Kung moved the head office to Houston in 1961, and because of
his fear of nuclear war, he bought hundreds of acres outside Conroe to
build an office building and a two-story underground bunker.

The
bunker has gun turrets built into the pagoda-style buildings that lead
into a fallout shelter, which was equipped to sustain thousands of
people for as long as three months.
In recent years, the
40,000-square-foot bunker has been converted by Westlin Corp. into a
facility where companies can secure data servers from loss because of
natural or man-made incidents. Hearst has its emergency operations
there for us.

In an office building near the bunker are work
stations for staffers. Equipment in the 1,870 square feet of space in
the bunker is cooled by 60 tons of air conditioning being pumped in.

6:18 pm:

Officials just announced a 7 p.m. curfew in Harris County.
 
Boss just served up pizza and salad in the lobby; really good stuff.
 
We have gotten new instrux. When the winds get high enough, all of
our elevators will be shut down so no on gets caught in one if (when)
the power goes off. We also have a temporary newsroom set up on the
eighth floor; much smaller than our fifth floor operation but safer;
also takes less power to run it.
 
Two hours until our first print deadline.

7:33 pm:
The elevators have just been closed "for safety reasons." Winds are rising. Not really much rain.

8:30 pm:

We ratcheted up our deadlines to 8 p.m. for the first edition
(it’s normally 11 p.m.), and we we missed it by just a few minutes. Not
bad. Hopefully, now, we’ve given our  pressroom enough time to help our
carriers get the papers on folks’ doorsteps before the really gigantic
winds hit in the wee hours of the morning.
 
We won’t be delivering to any places inside the mandatory
evacuation zones, but hopefully other folks will get their papers.
We’re also offering a complete e-edition of the paper to anyone who has
power and can log in. You guessed it: The ID and password are : Ike.
 
The next deadline is 9 p.m., although we may go a bit later to try to get more news in while the electricity is on.

10:00 pm:
Dad is now hunkered down at the hotel across the way from the paper. The hotel WITHOUT boarded up windows. Better sleep with the blanket over your head just in case!

 

Shout out

I just want to say that Medsavers Pharmacy KICKS ASS. It is even better than having Canada in your backyard. Not only do they have all generics at insanely affordable prices, they are just the nicest people ever. When I was just out of the hospital and my pain meds were making me nauseous and the on call doc said that a prescription for Zofran would cost upwards of $430 at the (normally great) HEB, I was distraught. Pain or barfing. Not an excellent choice.

But Chris and Bryna at Medsavers swept in to save the day (even when the store was closed for labor day). A generic version of Zofran is only about $20 at Medsavers. Can you believe that? What is WRONG with other pharmacies?

With so many medical costs and a horrible black hole feeling that the insurance companies are out to get us and the hospital will bankrupt us, it is incredibly uplifting to know there are people in medical-related fields who are not actively trying to screw everyone over.

So if you live in or around Austin and you’re tired of paying out the ass for medicine… or if you’re tired of supporting big conglomerates like Walgreens… or if you just want to deal with nice people… go visit Medsavers. Tell them I sent you.

They’re a small Mom & Pop shop and they don’t advertise and they didn’t ask me to do this. But they deserve a huge shout from the rooftops. This is as good as I can do right now:

YAY MEDSAVERS!

www.medsaversrx.com

Chris and Bryna rock my non-nauseous socks.