Squished Breasts, Technology, and Other Medical Mysteries

The arrow on this mammogram points to a small ...

The arrow on this mammogram points to a small cancerous lesion. A lesion is an area of abnormal tissue change (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I just returned from my yearly moments of torture, that  I refer to as getting my boobs squished, but more academically minded folk would call a mammogram.

Boy was it fun.

Actually, though, while not the most comfortable experience of my life,  I have to say that the worst part has nothing to do with getting your flesh and muscles smooshed between two plates while you stand in a contorted position and try to fantasize that you are taking beauty shots. No, that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part comes from the fact that I moved last summer.

What? Confused readers everywhere (well the few of you who are reading).

As you know, when you move, especially from one state to another you must find new medical care. First, however, you have to wait the endless amounts of time before your full medical benefits kick in (if you even have medical insurance) then you have to go through the torture of finding a doctor when you have no clue. I kept putting it off for a couple of reasons, one laziness, and the other that I’ve had to leave two wonderful doctors in the past two years and I just didn’t want to go through it again. To be fair, the first one that I left passed away just before we moved from Colorado, which meant I would have had to choose a new one anyway. The second fabulous doctor quit the practice just after I moved from Kansas, which means the same thing. Maybe I’m bad luck on doctors.

Anyway, I finally realized that preventive medicine was the better way to go, and got myself together to get a doctor. Of course, there was only one accepting patients in my area. One, not so exciting, kind of personality-less doctor. I’m giving her a chance. Maybe she will warm up, but meanwhile that’s what I got.

In preparation for my first visit I had contacted the prior medical group hoping to be able to walk in carrying my complete medical history and hand it over.

“Can I please have my medical records sent to me?”

“No, we can only send them to your doctor after they have you sign a release.”


I didn’t feel like fighting that battle, so I gave in and waited until my first appointment and sent away for records. That made for an exciting appointment with Dr. Personable.

“I don’t have any records of you.”

“No, I have to have them sent.”

“Well, what medications were you on?”

“I can tell you a few.”

“Why were you on those ones? They don’t help cholesterol or blood pressure?”

“Um, because that’s what my doctor told me to take.”

“Well, what do you want to do now?”

Ugh! This is part of my problem with this particular doctor. If I knew how to treat myself, I would, but she’s supposed to be the expert. In my opinion, she should lay out my options and then help me make decisions, not ask me to tell her what to do. I’ve seen her twice now . . . we shall see if we go past a third visit.

On the second visit, she had my records, but not all of them. No sign of my immunization record. Luckily I have that (current as far as I know) and will bring it to them eventually, or send it. But seriously, where the hell are they? Supposedly Kansas didn’t have them either. So then why didn’t Colorado send them? When all medical records have been put into a computer, why are mine so incomplete?

Ok, next visit involved getting my vision checked. True, I didn’t have those records sent (different doctor, and in Colorado) but I wasn’t concerned. I didn’t think there were any major things that they couldn’t discover simply by doing the exam.

Oh how wrong I was.

See I have a Nevus inside my eye. What’s a Nevus? According to Wordnik it’s :

“n. A congenital growth or mark on the skin, such as a mole or birthmark.”

Translation, I have freckle like birthmark inside my eye. Sarah has a freckle that you can see on her eye.

It’s a freckle.

Anyway, in Colorado, my fabulous eye doctor had the technology to take pictures of the inside of my eyes to look at the size and the shape of the nevus, as well as my general eye health. For that reason, I haven’t had to have my eyes dilated in years.  When I went to get my eyes checked, I assumed that would be the case here, but of course I was wrong.  And, not being a medical professional, I didn’t know to mention the nevus early in the appointment. After a severe scolding from Dr. Lackofpersonality #2, I was informed that I have to come back (with an expensive copay this time) and be dilated because “now that he knows, he has to check it.”

That fun happens tomorrow.

Next, of course, was the fun female examination I discussed in “Things I Don’t Understand”. At least there I connected with a fabulous Nurse Practitioner, and solved the mystery of my past history by simply choosing (under her guidance) to move on and let it go.

Ah the relief.

Back to today’s misadventures in Medical history. I walked in thinking there should be no problem, they sent my records. Well, yes, they sent my records. They sent the analysis of the records. They DID NOT send the films. No pictures. Nada.

“Do you have them?”

“No, they wouldn’t give them to me.”

“They might not look at the new pictures without them. We’ll have to send for them again.”


One of the worst things is waiting for the results of a mammogram. Even though there’s no family history of breast cancer, it looms as a possibility in every women’s mind. But, because of the incompetence of medical records and a confusing inability for one system to talk to another, I have to wait longer than the average time to find out my results.

There are a couple of good things about this now. I finally have access to my own medical records, via technology. So if we find ourselves moving again it shouldn’t be so hard. I also have finally caught up to myself in terms of proactive medical treatment.

Except for the dentist.


Creating Friendship in a 21st Century World

Gone are the days when making friends was as easy as walking into a classroom at school. Even for someone like myself, who is basically shy, I was bound to connect with one or two people and be able to call them friends.

Gone are the days of walking out the door, jumping on a bicycle and finding the gathering of neighborhood kids to play with.  Some of them I even called friends.

I know those neighborhoods still exist, but not where I live, and some of the freedom of those days has disappeared in a world where people seem to see a child molester around every corner. We often hole up in our homes, barely knowing our neighbors, and certainly not inviting them in for a cup of tea.

As an adult, it seems to becoming even more difficult to make friends. Sure, there is the instant camaraderie formed by people in work places, especially when you have interests in common. But what happens when you don’t have an office? What happens to people, like myself, who work on a project by project basis, or are only there one day a week, so don’t intermingle with office politics/celebrations/meetings?

Well, there’s always the PTO for parents. Or perhaps joining a gym or volunteering for an organization. Great places to meet people and make friends, right? Maybe, but I think even that has changed recently. Too often people have their own agendas for these types of activities, and there is really no way in the midst of planning, organizing, campaigning, and focusing on our own health to allow time to simply get to know each other. There is no time to make friends.

We have learned to hide behind our busy schedules and technology.

Yesterday, Nancy at Spirit Lights the Way wrote a post called “Disconnected Connections & Distractions” which, in addition to a few events this week, got me thinking about this topic. How and where do we make friends in the 21st century.

Last Tuesday I went to someone’s house for a cup of tea.

Shocking, isn’t it?

We had a lovely conversation, which turned into a light lunch before I headed back to do some more writing before Sarah got home.   Nothing strange about this scenario, right?

“I’ve never met someone this way,” my new friend said. “You know, where we just chatted for a minute at a coffee shop and now you came over my house. I was wondering if you left my address by the phone in case you disappeared today.  I mean, you don’t know me and basically came to a strangers house.”  We both laughed, but I admit that as I was driving to her house I had a moment of doubt . . . what am I driving to, I asked myself?

We have become a society of distrust, and that’s sad.

Before Christmas, I met another woman with whom I felt an instant connection. We started chatting as we dropped our daughters off at their musical theatre class, and I got the courage up to see if she had time for a cup of coffee. We went to the nearest coffee shop, and talked for almost an hour and  a half, until it was time to pick the kids up again. Great, I thought to myself, I’ve made a new friend.

We saw each other again briefly the next week at the musical theatre performance. Everything seemed great, and I thought, there’s a couple that we could become good friends with.

After the holidays, I sent an e-mail to her (she had given me her card when we first met) explaining that I was about to head to Slovakia but would love to meet up when I returned.

Her response? Nothing. Nada. Zip.

A few weeks back I read the “Candle Lighter Award” at If I Were Brave’s blog, and Dory gave me the courage to try a second e-mail. Maybe the first got spammed, I thought to myself. So I wrote a second one, cautious with my wording so I wouldn’t come off like a stalker:

“I just thought I would drop a note and say hello, as I haven’t seen you at the Music Theatre drop off. If you ever feel like meeting up for lunch or coffee sometime, let me know.”

Again the response was nothing, nada, zip, zilch.

I gave up.

Yesterday, at the drop off, just as I was about to leave she and her daughter come swooping in. “Hi!” she says, a huge smile on her face. “Hold on a second while I get her in.”  She says goodbye to her daughter and turns to me, “I’m sorry I never got back to your e-mails, I’ve just been swamped . . . ”

“That’s ok,” I said. “I just figured you thought I was a crazy stalker.”

“No, of course not . . .” and the conversation went on from there.

We didn’t extend the conversation for coffee as she had errands to run, but we did leave open the possibility of meeting up sometime next week (school vacation) or at least starting on Thursday’s when classes meet up again.

All this is a roundabout way to getting to my point. We are instantly connected with so many people now, through technology that we can even carry in our pockets. Yet, somehow that technology has made making friends more of a challenge. We  are surrounded daily by threatening stories, that terrify us as we cocoon ourselves behind the four walls of our safety zones. We have lost the ability to trust each other, and to simply say I want to get to know you better without the feeling that somehow we are invading someone’s privacy.

We hide behind the safety of communicating in our own time. We respond to questions when it suits our needs. We read at our leisure, carefully crafting comments before we hit send.

While I feel like I have made friends through blogging, I am still cautious about extending the “let’s meet in person” invitation. I remember my heart beating quickly with nerves as I was about to meet Kathy from Reinventing the Event Horizons. I was honestly scared that she would think I was some kind of freak. But why should I feel that way? We already knew each other through pictures and words. We already knew each other through technology.

My fear stemmed from my general shyness, and a protective wall I’ve built around myself after being burned one to many times in friendship. But it also came from a pervasive loss that exists in our society–a loss stemming from continuous hiding behind technology. We have lost the ability to make friends simply by saying hello. We have lost the ability to trust. We have lost the idea that most people are good at heart.

We have become a society of lonely people.

I think that’s sad.

What do you think?

Dependent on Technology

Have you ever thought about how dependent we have become on technology?

As we drove the last leg of our journey last Tuesday, we went through town after town affected by Hurricane Irene, with power outages and flooding. We only had to back track two times to avoid flooding, but we did have to pay close attention to availability of gas and/or snacks. We also looked forward to spending the night at my parents house, sans electricity. (By some miracle, their power came on about 30 minutes before we got there, so we were actually able to eat something).

Before we headed there, however, we dropped the truck off at the new house to leave overnight, only to discover the power was also out there, with a tree fallen on the line.  The powerless house would not be a problem, we decided, when it came to unloading the truck, thanks to the help of many wonderful helpers and the lovely weather post-Irene. It would have caused problems for our first night in our new home, but luckily the power came back on late in the afternoon.

Post move-in feeding frenzy.

Unloading the truck.

What would we have done without that power? Probably headed back to my parent’s house and then gotten up really early to get Sarah to school the next day. Not that we couldn’t survive without electricity. We could have camped out, in a way. But we have well water and the heating comes from the oil furnace, all of which require some electricity to function.  No running water or flushing toilets would lend to an uncomfortable night.

We are dependent on technology.

That stuff was easy though. I truly became aware of my utter dependence on technology when I found out my home internet will not be available until September 13th.


That means blogging regularly, as well as searching for jobs, requires hunting down access in different locations. Hence the gap in posts, and my lack of response to comments.

While I do have limited access on my phone, we don’t have huge data plans, nor do we have phones that are very internet friendly. So I am suffering technology deprivation.

Now, of course I could rant about why it takes nearly two weeks to link me up to the system, when as far as I know all that is required is the addition of my name to a list in some system. But we will chalk that up to the mysteries of bureaucracy that leave everyone puzzled on a regular basis.

What really concerns me is how lost I feel without regular access. Sure, I could still write posts, preparing for times to come, but I can’t seem to get motivated without the immediate satisfaction of posting and reading other people’s post, responding and reading other’s responses.

Sure, I could work on figuring out a plan for finding work, and I have done that to some extent. But I still feel like I need access to possibilities to figure it all out.

Sure, I could focus on unpacking and organizing, but what do I do when I need a break?

Tomorrow starts the regular schedule, with Nathan and work and Sarah at school.  Technically they started last week, but the first week is always quirky. Tomorrow is the beginning of a truly regular schedule, and my new life . . . but I have to begin it without regular access to the internet, without regular access to technology.

Will I survive the horror?!

Non-Communicative Future

Yesterday morning in my Comp I class I had them share what they had written for the Portfolio Project that was due.  In the portfolio I had asked them to evaluate themselves as students/learners/writers as well as revise one paper and set some goals. I started doing this type of project in another school, and for the most part feel that it is a successful project. I still feel that, even after grading the projects yesterday, except for one thing. Many of my students don’t know how to communicate. Most of them shared their portfolio in as few sentences as possible–not expanding or explaining unless  I asked questions, barely even listening to each other talk. After that, I vamped for the rest of the time (as I had expected it would take longer) talking about learning, why we need to take writing classes, how would they form their ideal comp class, anything that came to mind. (I used up my material for the last class tomorrow, now I have to think of something else).  But, in typical fashion, two or three of them spoke and the rest stared at me in silence. This has been my semester in this class. It might as well have been a class of three people.

I was teaching writing. I helped some of them improve in grammar and the ability to support an argument. I helped some of them improve as readers, or just gain confidence in their ability to learn. That to me is a success.

But many of them still don’t know how to communicate.

In part of the “discussion” yesterday we talked about the changing forms of communication. For example, the fact that more people function by text messages now than any other form of communication. I mentioned how important it was to learn to write proper e-mails and things. Later in the day, I got this e-mail from one of the students in the class:

“Dear Ms. lisa what would be my grade in the class?!?”

That’s it. That was the extent of the e-mail. Now, let’s forget about the fact that they still haven’t figured out that I am Dr. I just wanted them to call me Lisa, but I usually get one of the following: Teacher,  Ms. Lisa, Mrs. Kramer, Mrs. Lisa, nothing, and on rare occasions Dr. Lisa or Dr. Kramer. But, setting that aside, my name is not capitalized. He didn’t sign it. And he wrote this one sentence when I told them that I would be figuring out the grades and let them know on Friday.

Students today do not know how to communicate.

Vicky, at Little Miss Everything, wrote a post today called “My best friend is a screen” that asks if our future will be this

Sadly, I think we are heading to some form of that. I don’t necessarily believe that everyone will be a fat slob (although there is potential for that too). But I do think that we are losing the ability to communicate face-to-face. We are also losing common courtesy and respect for each other, as our skills in face-to-face communication dwindle.  How often have you sent an e-mail and never gotten a reply? Not even an acknowledgment that the person received your e-mail? How often have you made a phone call asking for a return call and never gotten the call back?

I am guilty of these errors myself. I am bad about writing thank you notes and thanking people for invitations. I’m trying to get better. I don’t like to talk to people on the phone, but I will and I will call back. Sometimes I prefer to e-mail, but I always respond to e-mails. I’m not perfect, but I try.

I worry though that we are raising a generation of people who will never try, because they are too buried in their own pleasure. In the self-evaluation I had several students admit to: texting or listening to music during class, or falling asleep intentionally. But then the following statement would be something like, “I respected my teacher and my classmates.”

Is this respect? Where are we headed in a world that does not respect each other or know how to communicate?

Sorry for the RANT! But what do you think?

[Update, another of my favorite bloggers chose to write about this topic today as well. Check out her post  ” A World Without Words”.]

Technologically Violated

Monumento alla difesa di Casale, bronze sculpt...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s not funny anymore. In fact it is downright creepy.

When the person who hacked into my husband’s e-mail account started communicating with a wonderful long time friend and using my name, my daughter’s name, and my sister’s name he (or she) crossed a line. Now I am mad, but I’m also scared.

Have we become too reliant on technology? I know, it is kind of strange question to ask while I am typing on a computer into the blogiverse; my writing fix fulfilled by reaching out through technology to unknown readers. While I am fearful of technology, I am addicted to it.

I guess the real problem isn’t technology but humans. Humans are the ones who corrupt technology in the name of greed or improvement. Humans are the ones that relish the victory over others that comes with more power, or in our case with the ability to take over a simple e-mail account and disrupt lives.

So while I have been violated technologically, it was ultimately done with human hands.

Is this just more evidence of the overall corrupt nature of humans?

I hate that I am thinking like this. I know it is an over-generalization that all humans are corrupt figures that will leap on a tiny glimmer of advantage. But everything I read lately reflects on this mindless evil of people with power over people with less power. Why can’t we just accept each other and leave each other alone?

Right now, the anger is rising in me. But, I refuse to become one of the corrupt. I choose to pursue kindness and caring. However, this does not me I will like down without a fight and let the world walk all over me.

Whoever this creep is, he/she has taken something valuable from us. No not money. Not friends. But a feeling of safety.

I do not want to feel afraid every time I turn on my computer, just as I don’t want to feel afraid walking out the door.

So here’s a message to all the creeps in the world.; whether you are a master at hacking into technology or someone who intimidates physically or spiritually. STAY AWAY FROM ME!!! I’m angry. I’m not going to take it anymore. I am only going to welcome positive people in my life, and you have NO POWER over me.

Got it?

I will fight to make this world a better place. I will not let creeps like this take me down.

Anyone care to join me?

Hacking for Fun and Profit

Victorian Christmas Town

Image by Rennett Stowe via Flickr

Yesterday, I was informed that my husband and his family went on a lovely holiday to England.

Wait, why didn’t I get to go?

Unfortunately, the vacation was cut short when they were mugged, and everything was taken but their passports.

Luckily nobody was hurt except for the mysterious Donna, who was injured on “his” shoulder. I can only assume that my polygamist husband’s family includes a transvestite who goes by the name of Donna.

Of course, the American embassy will do nothing to help my poor husband and woe-begotten family, and now they need $19,000 to pay hotel fees and get home.

$19,000. That must be a luxury hotel. The last holiday  he took me on, I think we stayed at a Day’s Inn in Albuquerque. It was so long ago, I can’t quite remember.

Needless to say, Nathan received the phone call where he learned of this horrible tragedy while sitting next to a Christmas Tree at a tree trimming party. An old friend got his phone number from his parents and called to make sure he knew.

Nathan did not have much fun at the party after that. He spent the time trying to figure out how to change passwords on his e-mail and Facebook, and deal with the repercussions of a stranger having access to his on-line life.

Now here’s my question, WHY BOTHER? Not Nathan fixing things, that make sense of course, but why bother hacking an account and asking for money when anyone who is a true friend will recognize the fallacy of the story? Why bother asking for money, when you don’t even provide an address to send it to?

I understand that once someone has access to e-mail everything done on-line can become a risk, and that is truly problematic. It means hours of work to make sure you’ve protected yourself and every business transaction you’ve made. It basically means making someone worry, and destroying a few days (or weeks) of their lives. But again, WHY BOTHER announcing the hacking success with an asinine, poorly worded missive to masses begging for money you never will see? The announcement only leads to immediate remediation of the problem.

I simply do not understand the purpose or joy that is found in hacking someone’s account. Could someone please explain?

Alternatively, if anyone feels the urge to follow through and send money, please make sure to send it to our home address. I mean, seriously, I’ll make good use of it, and if my husband is really off in England gallivanting around with his second family, he can wash dishes to earn his way home.

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