Sunday, December 23, 2007

Progress and Christmas

The former undergraduate who did a wonderful study with me as part of an honor’s thesis is working with me to get her research published. Before I could really dig into the data analysis, I had to get the raw data into a form I could get my paws into. It’s taken me over a year to complete this relatively straightforward task, what with moving and LM and all. But I think the end is approaching! Luckily she’s still available to talk, having started an MS in the same school. Thank goodness. Once I get her paper out, then I can start working on my personal data! How exciting! She helped me collect a lot of that, too, which is wonderful. But my data is the set where I will be the uncontested first author, hooray!

It’s Sunday morning and LM’s still asleep. I’ll let her sleep until we absolutely have to get ready for church. Her nose seems to block up at night, right when it’s pretty awkward to use saline. I need to talk to her allergy doctor about it. I did, however, just get a referral to a gastroenterologist to figure out what the projectile vomiting is all about. Our insurance has gone through COBRA, and I think it’s all set up, so we also need to get the immunizations for India going.

We have a housefull, getting ready for Christmas. Every spare sleeping place in my Aunt&Uncle’s house is taken up, so when my husband comes to visit from India, I’ll be sleeping next to LM on 3 filing boxes lined up next to the bed. It’ll be interesting. We’re so excited to see him, though! And I finally called up one of our friends who is now in Bangalore, and she gave me lots of help (mostly moral support) with our upcoming move. She also asked, “You didn’t get LM a passport when she was born?” And I was forced to admit that for some reason, we didn’t. I highly recommend it, heh heh heh. Now we have to get her a passport (for which I need a notarized signature from my husband, by the way) and a PIO visa and a multiple entry visa for me. Yoikes.


Sunday, December 16, 2007


It's become even harder to exercise, now that there are so many other things clamoring for attention. But I've been realizing that if I'm to get all the other stuff done, I really really need to make sure that I take care of myself. That's a hard concept for many of the women in my family for some reason. But my sister-in-law has it down, it seems. She takes time during babysitting hours (when I would be getting to work) to exercise at the gym. And when I was visiting, I saw her leave her stressed husband with two energetic kids so she could exercise. It impressed me so much that I decided I could certainly take time off work to exercise now and then.

It has also started a slew of thoughts on taking care of oneself. Here are some of them ---

In a book I read on losing weight for women (something about fat cells bla bla but very good and I wish I could remember the name), she says to throw away your scale. I've been thinking about that... the scale and measurements and all that are only indications of how you're really doing. How you're really doing is measured by how you feel. If you're feeling sloppy and fat, then step on the scale and it shows you've lost weight, or think about your pants size and think, "that's not so bad," then you might degenerate into eating junk all day. Okay, you might not, but I might. Seems to run in my family.

Often, eating cake all day is really a substitute for what I really want, but what I really want is more difficult to get than cake. Cake is easy. A really good homemade enchilada, on the other hand, takes an hour. Same thing with exercise. I often really want to exercise, but sitting around is easier. Weird, eh? Why aren't I important enough to get the things I really want? Why would I put myself last? Is that weird? Why would I think that for some reason I can't have the things I want most? I'm even afraid to admit to myself that I love salad and good food in general. Sweets are pretty much boring -- not much taste, though the texture is often quite pleasing.

I am not the least important thing in my world. I am certainly worth yummy food and time by myself to exercise. Providing, of course, that I can get time to myself to exercise. There are times when it's not practical - you need someone to watch your toddler for that to happen, unless you have an exercise video or bike or something you like to do at home during naptime. I'm lucky that my husband makes enough money to send TM to daycare, where she gets to play with other kids and have a grand ol' time and I get to work on my PhD. And exercise.

After all, if I don't take care of myself, what will I end up as? A real burden to everyone else, that's what! Many people in my family are getting old, and having lots of health problems often due to not putting themselves first. I'd like to learn how to give myself what I really want and stop relying on what other people think to dictate what is or is not good for me.

If the reason I step on the scale is to reach some abstract weight dictated by someone else to be the 'ideal', then I'm not focusing on me, I'm thinking that for some reason I have to bend myself to their world. Ick. If I think about my pant size in order to compare myself with other people, or with what society thinks is good, I'm once again putting myself second. Ridiculous! The only person who really matters in that sort of thing is me. I need to pay attention to what my body wants, and really listen to it. It's not going to tell someone else what it wants, right? What a silly idea!

It might be like a partnership -- I need to keep my body happy so we can work well together, it and me. If I don't give it what it needs, it certainly won't perform as well as it needs to. It tells me what it needs, but often I decide that what's easy is fine, and what it really wants is too hard. We can all see where that leads.

Okay, another slight topic -- my face is breaking out. I think it's the cataphyll that I started using again two days ago. Poor rosaceae-ed and sensitive facial skin. Sigh. Back to tea tree oil and either olive or jojoba oil or whatever else I find to carry it.

TM, by the way, had a bad night last night. I wonder what watching Finding Nemo so often will do to her in the long run. Sigh. But survival is more important nowadays than adhering to an ideal that is very impractical for a tired, irritated, end-of-the-rope day. Hate to say it, but there it is.

Signing off

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pyloric stenosis? And methods paper submitted!

It's been quite a busy month so far. I realized the other day, after yet another sleepless, coughing, miserable night (little TM, and me by extension), that TM had a lot of reflux as an infant. Now, she often complains of "pyute", meaning puke. Ah hah! I looked it up on the internet, and found that reflux can cause/exacerbate asthma, and certainly causes nighttime coughing.

I went to Sears and found a really cheap but wonderful chair-shaped pillow to put on her bed, and have been propping her up at night ever since. And she's stopped coughing at night! Of course, I still have to wake up relatively often to re-prop her up, but at least I have a solution. She also doesn't demand milk several times a night, and I'm sure acid in her throat needs soothing if she's not propped up.

We went to the asthma doctor today to find out the results of a lab test on a nose swab, and I went prepared. I had a change of clothes for both of us and a towel. Why? Because the last time we went there, she puked all over (me and the floor). Afterwards, she walked around wrapped in a blanket and I walked around covered in puke. Then later that week she puked in church, all over one of my friends, then puked at the recycle center, all over me again. So I went prepared today. And voila, she puked! Shocker. After I told the asthma doctor about her reflux problems, he asked if she ever projectile vomits. "Oh, yeah, often" said I. He seemed rather excited and said that this might be a much worse problem than her chronic sinusitis -- she might have pyloric stenosis, and I should take her to see a pediatric gastroenterologist or surgeon.

I had him write down those big words so I wouldn't forget them, got home, and left a message for her regular doctor. How exciting, though, that maybe there's a fix for her eating problems! It would explain so much -- how she can't eat much at once, pukes easily, doesn't like hard/crunchy foods, almost lives on soy milk, etc etc. But now the question is, do I get this fixed now (possible surgery) or wait 'till we go to India? I haven't figured that one out yet.

Meanwhile, I got another parking ticket, this time on my husband's car that is finally back from the shop. I need to fix a dent, then I'll be able to sell it. 'Till then, I have to remember to move it when the street sweeper comes around. Sigh.

On the up side, TM's been doing well at daycare, so I have gotten relatively a lot of work done! My advisor finished running some samples for me, sent me the data, and I incorporated it into the re-write of the primer note methods paper we're trying to get resubmitted. I finally sent off the final version to my advisor today, and hopefully he'll send it to the journal! Hooray!

Now I have a meeting with him and a co-author about another paper that's been struggling to get through the data re-analysis stage. We're meeting via webcam tomorrow at 10am.

Speaking of webcams, WOW, I love them! I actually got to talk to my advisor face to face for the first time in eons, and it was cheap and easy! I'm so excited! And now I get to talk to my coauthors and fix problems in real time with real faces. It's so much easier to talk to faces than to words on a page or on the phone, especially if the topic is potentially sensitive (such as, "Rhamnites, why aren't you done with this yet??? It's been how many YEARS now????" Yes, those topics need TLC).

And that's about all for now. Things are looking good -- my husband's coming back from India for a 1.5 wk visit during xmas, which will be great. Hopefully I can get TM's passport application going then, then get visas, shots, etc etc etc. Oh, yes, and vaccinations... hoping that the COBRA coverage comes through since we lost my husband's regular insurance... OH yeah, and I also have to do a final project plan for the native plant garden I helped put in at the recycle center recently as a volunteer project... Criminy. I'm glad my cell phone has a task list.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

LM's coughing and I'm swamped

Today I thought LM was getting better. I had tons of time yesterday to get some work done while LM was at daycare, and today she did quite well (it’s not a daycare day today). But tonight, oh my frustratedness! I put her to bed around 7:30pm, and she started coughing. Now, I ask myself, is she coughing because of asthma or because her throat’s dry and she has a cough? Do I know? No. Does she know? Maybe, but she can’t tell me. So I lay down next to her and listened to her cough for two hours. Two hours! Finally she coughed herself awake and crawled off the bed into the laundry basket, started crying (understandably), and puked. Luckily I hadn’t fed her much after dinner, so there wasn’t much to puke up. This is ridiculous. So ridiculous it’s actually laughable, in an awful way.

I decided that whether or not it was asthma I’d have to try the Xopinex, so around 10:30pm I finally gave her a treatment. She’s back asleep now and coughing occasionally and I have no idea what’s going on. I also don’t know whether she’ll be able to go to daycare tomorrow, and I have to go to the dentist to get a crown on my tooth. I also need to talk to a couple people in my lab up in OR, and we have a paper the postdoc is trying to get out that I need to review ASAP.

And LM has a doctor’s appt on Thurs with the asthma doctor, but she hates doctors. She puked at our last visit ‘cause she cried so hard (quick gag reflex). Then she decided that any time we went into a small room, she must be at the doctor’s, so she’d freak out. That meant I couldn’t buy a pair of pants ‘cause she thought the fitting room was a waiting room and started screaming her lungs out. I finally convinced her today that it was actually fun to try on clothes (I really need a pair of pants, for goodness sake!), after I had her try on the clothes that I was trying on. That was quite hilarious and kicked her out of the screaming mode. But after we go to the doctor again on Thurs, who knows what she’ll decide to do in retaliation.

The other problem is that it’s not really an option to stay up all night getting caught up at work, ‘cause then I’m really really sleep deprived and am liable to freak out at any little thing LM does. So I have to get my minimum sleep. And, of course, one never knows what the night will hold. Will LM sleep, meaning I can sleep? Will she puke several times? Have a horrible asthma attack, requiring treatments every 4 hrs and sleepless listening for breathing problems in between?

Where’s the magic wand? I don’t know. How will I manage a trip to OR with all this going on? I have no idea. At the moment, I’m hoping to go up for a couple days, leaving LM here with my aunt and uncle. Not a great prospect, since they’re quite busy and I don’t know whether or not LM will be well. What if she gets another asthma attack and my aunt has to stay up all night? Let’s not even go there.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 1, 2007


I’m working on my PhD dissertation in Evolutionary Genetics. I also have a little baby girl who's not a baby anymore -- she's almost 2yrs old. And my husband is climbing the corporate ladder, which keeps him plenty occupied. This blog is to try to document my struggle through the PhD and follow what I end up doing afterwards.

Before I had my baby (LM for this blog), my husband and I had been working on opposite sides of the country for a year: I was working on my PhD (that I'd been working on for 3 yrs or so) and he had just broken out of academia by getting a job working with intellectual property management in science. It was so hard for him to break out that we did indeed end up on opposite sides of the country. LM brought us back together, thankfully!

I moved to live with him, and worked via internet with the help of my amazingly supportive lab members and advisor. Once I had LM, there were complications. I had an emergency c-section and she ended up in the neonatal intensive care unit for 2 weeks. Things were quite tough, and LM had trouble both with breastfeeding and formula. Needless to say, my dissertation suffered.

We moved to a new apartment when she was about 6mo old. I was able to start digging into my data seriously again. And then we moved, again. My husband got another career breakthrough and we moved to the other side of the country. Note to self: moving is expensive and time-consuming.

To bring you up to date, LM has been sick off and on, has asthma, and my husband got yet another job, but this one is overseas. Climbing the corporate ladder is fun and exciting, but requires quite a bit of support from family, which we’re lucky to have. LM and I are living with some of my family while he gets things set up Over There. Did I mention that it's hard?

LM's been sick for a month now, it being winter, and I grab what moments I can to work on that dissertation of mine. My advisor and I communicate by phone and by email. My committee really needs to see me before we move overseas, where I plan on continuing my dissertation in the same manner.

My last trip to school had to be postponed since LM was sick again and I didn’t want to leave her without her mommy, without her daddy, and sick. I haven’t rescheduled yet, but need to soon.

She’s probably going to wake up soon, so I’ll finish here and leave more for next time.