Good news for Ells

A mere 5 days ago, baseball was dead to me.

The season was over before it even really got started.

My favorite player suffered a nasty injury as his shoulder was crushed by the Rays’ Reid Brignac. Speculation ran rampant that the hottie center fielder would be out for the season.redsox.com

Brignac had dislocated Ells’s shoulder, causing my favorite player a lot of pain. Shame on you, Brignac.

According to the ESPN article, “A minor dislocation typically requires a minimum of four to six weeks, but if further evaluation reveals additional trauma to the shoulder, such as tears to the rotator cuff, labrum or other muscle or tendons, Ellsbury could be in jeopardy of missing months more.”

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine had no info on Ellsbury’s condition after the Sox-Rays game, saying only that he expected another outfielder to arrive in Boston on Saturday. Raise your hand if you’re surprised that Bobby V didn’t have a clue. Raise your other hand if you think that moron has a chance in hell of being able to find his brain with both hands. Bring back Tito! For the love of all things holy in the great sport of baseball, bring back Tito!

As Sox blogger Dan Lamothe says, “We’re on the cusp of a year that will be filled with more annoying drama than your average Adele song, and there’s nothing we can do to about it. At the center of this, of course, will be the transition from Terry Francona to Bobby Valentine.”

Amen.

After reading about Ells’s injury and DB Valentine‘s lack of info on this time-stopping, all-important topic, I hung my head, dried my tears, and channeled Doris Kearns Goodwin with thoughts of “Wait ’til next year.”

Alas, there is good news for fans of Ells: Orthopedic surgeon Lewis Yocum reviewed Ells’s MRI results and agreed with Sox docs that the injury is treatable and won’t require surgery.

Hopefully we’ll soon be seeing less of thisthe bleacher report

and more of this

and this

and this

That Ellsbury won’t be out for long is the best news I’ve heard in a while. Come on, Ells! Heal fast, ok? The game isn’t the same without you.


The Thanksgiving list

 

It’s Thanksgiving and I would be remiss if I didn’t remark upon the things for which I am thankful. This time last year I was fresh off the post-mastectomy infection train and trying to navigate life as a survivor. This year, the infection is finally in the rear-view mirror, and 8 surgeries later I’m on the road to reclaiming my normal life.

I’m contemplative on this day of everything good in my life. Not gonna think about the bad stuff today. Here’s a short list of the things I’m grateful on this day of Thanksgiving.

My family. And the beach. Two of my favorite things at the same time — good stuff!

Living in Texas, where it’s warm enough to swim on Thanksgiving. People joke about how Texas is a whole ‘nother country, and it’s true. Everything is bigger here, and better.

My kids. Every parent thinks their kids are amazing and wonderful and I am no different. 

As the grow I see more and more the people they are becoming, and that will always be a source of pride for me.

Youth sports. Being a part of a team, and experiencing the thrill of victory as well as the agony of defeat is a wonderful thing. 

Raising kids who love animals. Whether furry or slimy, cute or with a face only a mother could love, my kids adore animals and have learned compassion and sacrifice through caring for them. 

Good books. I love a good read. And I love that my kids are readers, too. My sweet mama the former English teacher would be so proud!

Natural beauty. Whether the rolling waves of Salisbury Beach, the mountains of Utah, or the public gardens in Boston, I’m grateful to have beautiful scenery to gaze at as I go about my days. 

Tennis. I’ve learned so much from the game, most notably humility, and continue to be challenged. People laugh when I say I started playing tennis because I like the clothes and had no idea how hard a game it is, but it’s true. 

Funny art and snarky humor. I hope I never outgrow my enjoyment of them. If I’m ever too old to laugh at something like what you see here, smother me with a pillow. 

Jacoby Ellsbury. Because he’s so fine. Oh, and baseball, too. I’m thankful for baseball. But mainly Jacoby. 

 

 

A legacy. The women in my family are strong and funny and kind-hearted. I hope to continue the traditions they’ve established. 

Mentors for my kids. I’m so grateful for the people in my kids’ lives who teach them, guide them, and love them.

Cocktails. Need I say more?

Great food. To soak up the alcohol.

Puppies! The more the merrier! Sometimes I think I like dogs more than people. Puppies especially.

Things that challenge me to get outside of my comfort zone. Like modeling in the Couture for the Cause a few weeks after my latest hospitalization last fall. Yikes. After wondering what in the sam hell made me agree to do it, I ended up having one of the single best experiences of my life. And plan to do it again in March. Get your tickets now, before it sells out!

Friends. Couldn’t have made it through the last 18 months without them. Whether buds from way back or newly connected, I’m imminently thankful for my friends. 

Cheers to Thanksgiving!


He does it again!

Apparently my favorite Red Sox player likes having Texans in the house…since we’ve been here, he’s hit back-to-back walk-offs for Sox victories. Very nice. Last night’s was especially exciting because it was a walk-off home run.  Just as we were hoping against extra innings, Jacoby delivered.

There will be lots of happy Sox fans on the beach today. I’m heading down in a few minutes for more fun in the sun. Last night’s lobster feast at Markey’s was as good as ever. Macy had asked if she could have some of my lobster tail, and rather than share what IMHO is the best part of the lobster, I said, “Get your own, kid.” We figured she’d eat part of the tail and we’d have extra lobster to put in scrambled eggs this morning. Then we learned that there’s no such thing as “extra lobster.” That bug was picked clean. 

So there will be no lobster & eggs this morning. No matter; we’ll get more. That’s the beauty of being at Salisbury Beach — plenty of lobster, whether from Markey’s or steamed on site at the grocery store.

Trevor will be creating another sand sculpture today, to add to the two he’s already done: 

He’s taking requests, so if there’ something you want to see, by all means shout it out. His sand sculptures are pretty popular around here and are much admired, although I thought Macy might smack the lady who walked by yesterday and thought Perry the Platypus was a dinosaur. Sometimes being in the presence of art invokes strong emotions.

We’re all about traditions at Salisbury Beach. Whether it’s dinner at Markey’s or dessert next-door at Dunlap’s or sand sculptures on the beach, tradition rules, and this year our traditions are even more special. Like the Joni Mitchell song says, “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone,” traditions become more important when threatened with extinction. To say I’m glad I’m here this year is to be loaded with meaning. I’m glad I’m here, in Massachusetts among friends I consider family at a beach my family loves. But even more so, I’m glad I’m here.


Walk-off

20110803-093241.jpg

It’s a great morning at the beach. The Sox won last night with a walk-off hit by my favorite player, Jacoby Ellsbury. Hopefully the photo will load; I’m blogging beachside again and don’t want to interrupt my blissful morning to post on a real computer; if my iPhone and the WordPress app can’t handle the photo, I’ll get to it later. Maybe when a cloud passes overhead.

It’s unusually clear today, enough to see the Isle of Shoals. The sun is shining and the west wind is blowing. I’m pre-hydrating with a water course so I’ll be fully prepared for the beachside beverages, whenever they may appear. While the lure of the Bloody Mary is strong, I’m going to stay strong and wait for the pm bevvie.

Meantime, all hail Jacoby!


Red Sox + Houston = happy girl

ballparks.com

I know, I know, I’m behind in my blogging. I’ve been busy. No idea what’s keeping me so busy, but suspect it has something to do with drinking Malibu black in the Cremers’ pool; time seems suspended there. Must be something in the water. (I’m all about full disclosure here.) The Sox were in town this past weekend, and we went to see them; the fact that I’m just now getting around to posting about it is wrong, just wrong.

Minute Maid Park is a gorgeous ballpark, if I do say so myself, and I hope the Sox enjoyed their visit as much as we did. The retractable roof is pretty cool, and the glassed-in views of downtown Houston show off our fine city in all its corporate splendor. 

The outfield wall is capped off with a train full of giant orange blobs. I’m not the only person who wondered why in the world there was a train-load of pumpkins at the ballpark only to realize that, duh! they’re oranges. Minute Maid Park. Get it? If an Astros player hits a home run, the train chug-chugs along the length of the outfield wall. Suffice to say that train has been pretty dormant lately. 

The picture below shows you what the stadium looks like with the roof open. There are little tiny motors that turn as the giant walls of glass slowly, slowly slide apart before your very eyes. At first the movement is so slight as to be nearly undetectable. But before long, the chink between the seams of the walls becomes wider.

The trainload full of oranges. Betcha I could make a lot of mimosas with them. 

Before the game, we did something I’ve always wanted to do, and now that we’ve done it, I feel like a true Houstonian. We ate at Mama Ninfa’s–the original one on Navigation, very close to the stadium. Ninfa’s is a Houston institution, with franchises all over the city, but the one on Navigation is where it all started. She’s credited with creating the beef fajita, which is now a mainstay in most Mexican restaurants. 

I can’t vouch for the beef, but can safely say that the michelada was delicious. There’s a section on the drinks menu devoted to micheladas, with the opportunity to choose which beer will be mixed with the addictive array of spices. There are 15 choices. I have no idea what the spicy salt was on the rim of the glass, but my lips burned for 2 days after consuming every last crystal.

The seafood cocktail was out of this world. Gulf shrimp and sea scallops tossed with avocado chunks and a spicy, lemony cocktail sauce. Yum.

As tempting as it was to get a 2nd michelada, it was time to scoot on over to the ballpark. Ninfa’s offers a shuttle from the restaurant to the park, and we happily jumped on. The passenger van was perfectly pleasant for the short hop on the way to the game; coming home, with at least 40 people crammed into that same van, was a different story. Wooshegaga, that’s a claustrophobic’s worst nightmare: tight quarters, hordes of people and Houston traffic. Yikes.

It was all worth it, though, to see my favorite team and my favorite player. Ells wasn’t in the line-up for the Friday night game because of the flu he picked up from Josh Beckett. He rallied with the help of some IV fluids, though, and sparkled in center field and dazzled as the lead-off hitter. Here he is, at his first at-bat. I know, the pictures are terrible. I finally got a new camera, since the iPhone camera leaves much to be desired, and forgot to take it to the game. Sheesh.

Nobody covers center field quite like Ells.

He’s in the middle, with his hat off for better close-ups. One of the Boston papers ran a headline today that says “Ellsbury displays All-Star form” and I think it refers to his play, but could just as easily refer to his form.

He got his 500th hit today, and was selected for his first All Star game on Sunday. All that, plus a mention on this blog? He’s in tall cotton. 

Now all he needs is a mohawk, like the All Star player who lives at my house:

before...

...and after


As if the tornado wasn’t bad enough…

I feel a weird dichotomy of emotion when a friend hears about a rare and hard-to-treat infection and thinks of me. On one hand, it’s nice that my friends are the sort of people who know what’s going on in my life (I guess being a blabbermouth and having a blog help). On the other hand, it’s a weird feeling to be the one associated with the rare and hard-to-treat infection.

No matter, the horse is out of the barn, and the fact of the matter is that I did indeed have a rare and hard-to-treat infection, I am a blabbermouth, I do have a blog, and my friends rock.

So when the news broke that several people in the wake of last month’s giant killer tornado in Joplin, Missouri, have contracted a rare and hard-to-treat infection, my name came to mind. Perhaps this provides a bit of perspective for me. On many levels. It reminds me that while I’ve been through a lot, I also have a lot for which to be grateful. Namely things like this: #1, I wasn’t involved in the devastation of that giant killer tornado. #2, my rare infection was hard to diagnose but not especially hard to treat; just a giant pain in the ass. #3, my rare infection wasn’t deadly, as the one in Joplin is. #4, my rare infection is gone, baby gone. And, because I like odd numbers in lists, #5, I’m done with the 267-day course of oral antibiotics needed to treat my rare, pain-in-the-ass infection. Oh, if only I got paid extra for using hyphens in my modifiers.

cbsnews.com

The giant tornado last month in Joplin stirred up a lot of soil in its destructive path, and it uncovered mucormycosis, a deadly fungus among us. Like most bacteria and fungus, mucormycosis is all around us but only affects people who are already limping along with weakened immunity. The proverbial kicking a man who’s already down. It seems to prey upon people with diabetes, leukemia, lymphoma, and AIDS as well as those who have had an organ transplant and those who engage in chronic steroid use (Alex Rodriguez, you better be careful).

I must digress here for a moment about the mighty A-Rod. We don’t like him much in our house (understatement of the year, right there). Not just because we are die-hard, hard-core Red Sox fans and he’s on that other AL East team. You know, the one that wears those gawd-awful pinstripes. Ick. Well, A-Rod, in our opinion, typifies everything that’s wrong with pro sports: the drugs, the attitude, the disdain for the very fans who provide him job security. Imagine our surprise and delight when we found this yesterday:

An A-Rod baseball card, chewed to bits by our little dog Pedey. I love it! It’s even funnier because that little dog is named for Payton’s favorite Red Sox player, Dustin Pedroia. The idea of Pedey going after A-Rod fills my heart with pride. I’ve said before that Pedey is not much like his namesake: he’s lazy and clumsy with a ball, but in this case, Pedroia would be proud of this little dog for pouncing on A-Rod and tearing him to bits!

As long as we’re digressing for baseball-related ramblings, I might as well post a pic of my boy-crush, Jacoby Ellsbury. It’s been a while, and I know my loyal readers have missed him. Here ya go.

You’re welcome.

Ok, back to the Joplin tornado and its unwelcome sidekick. The tornado was a big one. An EF-5 to be precise. The EF scale refers to the Enhanced Fujita scale, which was developed at the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech University. Yay Red Raiders. I don’t know much about the tornado scale, being a bit more familiar in this neck of the woods with the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane scale, but a quick peek on Wikipedia tells me that an EF-5 tornado means the storm has winds in excess of 200 mph. A bad-ass, scary storm, to be precise.

The May 22nd tornado cut the city of Joplin roughly in half with an estimated 7-mile-long by 1-mile-wide swath. It moved slowly and stayed on the ground rather than touching down and moving back up. All of these factors combined equal untold destruction, a death toll of 151 people, and the unleashing of a nasty fungus.

Eight tornado victims have contracted the mucormycosis, although public health officials won’t make an official link between the fungus and the tornado. Four of the people who tested positive for mucormycosis have died. It’s a nasty bug that spreads fast and can invade the blood supply of its victims, who typically have injuries and secondary wound infections. Sound familiar? Ugh. The rush of feelings and memories this topic evokes roars in my head much like a tornado. I think my PTSD is showing.

The mycormycosis fungus is usually found in soil and wood and enters the body either through a puncture wound or when a person breathes in mold spores. The dirt or vegetation becomes embedded under the skin, and mold is actually found in the wounds of people who have this bug. In some cases, wounds that had been stitched up after the tornado had to be reopened to clean out the contamination. Again, sound familiar? The incubation period is a little shorter on the fungus compared to the mycobacterium, and hopefully the fungus presents itself faster than the myco; both times I’ve been tested for that damn myco it took 6 weeks to present itself.

People with weakened immune systems who come into contact with this fungus have a mortality rate as high as 90 percent. Yes, you read that right: 90 percent.

wikipedia.com

It’s strange how the spores of this fungus look almost artistic under the microscope, yet can wreak unimaginable havoc on the human body. Compare that to my bacteria’s photo and you can see how vastly different these bugs appear under the microscope and why I have enormous respect for my sweet infectious disease doc. You rock, Dr Grimes! 

Because the mucormycosis fungus is so rare, medical research is limited, and treatment is simple but fraught with complications. Treating it sounds eerily familiar to me: confirm the bug, excise the affected tissue via surgery, and administer long-term and powerful antibiotics. Same plan I followed for the mycobacterium.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that it is conducting tests to help investigate the infections, which are so uncommon that even the nation’s largest hospitals might see only one or two cases a year. In fact, Dr Ewe Schmidt, infectious disease specialist at Joplin’s Freeman Hospital, said that in 30 years of practice, he’s seen 2 cases of mucormycosis, both of which occurred in patients who had untreated diabetes.

“To my knowledge, a cluster like this [several cases of the fungus] has not been reported before,” said Dr. Benjamin Park, head of the CDC team that investigates fungal diseases. “This is a very rare fungus. And for people who do get the disease, it can be extremely severe.”

I’m so glad my rare infection wasn’t this deadly fungus. I’m even more glad that my rare infection is gone. And I’m so glad this guy and his dog survived the storm and the deadly fungus.

cbsnews.com


Wedding day thoughts

I’m not posting any pics of newlyweds William and Kate, because I’m having a little watch party for the recorded royal wedding tomorrow morning. Really, it’s a chance to drink champagne and eat scones, and I never turn down the chance to celebrate.

I’m really not all that into the royal wedding, so I’m a little sheepish about having a watch party; however, if I’m going to do it, I’m gonna do it right, and I don’t want to see any pictures of any of the festivities before my little watch party.

Apparently this requires me to stay inside my house with the blinds drawn and the computer, TV, and radio switched off.

Went to the gym first thing this morning, to un-do some of the damage I’m going to do this weekend (I’m still celebrating my cancer-versary, after all). All the ladies in the gym were talking about royal wedding this and beautiful gown that. I told LeRoy I was having a little watch party and didn’t want to see any of the footage until then. First he grilled me about what I would be eating and drinking at the party, then he said, “Good luck — there are 3 TVs upstairs and you’ll be in front of them, on the elliptical machine, for 20 minutes.”

I reminded him that I’m as stubborn as a wild hog and if I say I’m not going to see any royal wedding footage until tomorrow, then you can take that to the bank. Yes, there are indeed 3 TVs upstairs, and they were tuned to CNN, ESPN, and whatever channel airs Regis & Kelly’s show. Two of the three were showing royal wedding footage (good old reliable “Sports Center” had NFL draft junk and baseball highlights). Thank you, “Sports Center!”

Although, I do have a bone to pick with SC, which plays on a seemingly constant loop at my house, thanks to the 11-year-old boy who resides with me. In this morning’s baseball footage, which I saw once at home and once at the gym, they dutifully covered the Red Sox’s 6-2 pounding of the Orioles, but they lost a golden opportunity and made the pitiful decision to show Adrian Gonzalez instead of  Jacoby Ellsbury.

redsox.com

WTH??

The baseball highlights are brief, and photo opps are precious. Nothing against A-Gon; he’s a stand-up player who’s a lot of fun to watch. But really?? Showing him instead of my boy crush, Ells? Terrible TV journalism.

Ells had a great game and is on a hot streak: last night he had 3 hits, as he had done the night before, and was the hero with a bases-loaded single up the middle to score 2 runs. Ells is 6-for-10 the last two games, and I predict even more great things for him.

Since Ells was robbed–along with the women of America–here’s the Ells shot for the day. I could post more, but I’ll be good.

You’re welcome, ladies.

I’ll be writing a scathing complaint to SC after I finish this post.

Back to the royal wedding.

I managed to not see any footage, a victory that matters to no one, but there it is nonetheless. I did get to thinking, though, about the other royal wedding in my lifetime, that of Charles and Diana

They tied the royal knot in July of 1981, and I had just turned 12. My family had recently traveled to London, and there was quite a lot of hub-bub about the grand event, and being an impressionable young girl, I thought the whole thing was very exciting. My mom and I got up at the crack of dawn to watch it live, London time, and I feel like a bit of loser for having my watch party the day after, but who the hell wants to come over at 3 in the morning? Even for champagne. 

Charles and Diana’s wedding seemed to be a fairy tale, with the grandeur of the monarchy and all the pomp & circumstance that goes along with it. They were elegant and lovely, although my mom couldn’t understand why her wedding dress was so wrinkled! I didn’t notice that, but did wonder if the fashion-forward Di ever looked back and regretted her hairstyle on that momentous day. I know I regretted mine.

Sadly, their fairy tale didn’t have a happy ending. Even though Di carried out her princessy duties with great elan, she never quite fit in with the other royals, including her husband. Her death in a car wreck in August 1997, at the age of 36, was tragic. Just tragic. That she was so young, and was just starting to find some happiness, and that she had two young boys who were the light of her life, is just so very tragic. But as we all know, tragedy knows no bounds and strikes randomly. 

She seemed to be a fun-loving mom who wanted her boys to be noble but also real. Now that I’m a mother, I know how hard it is to raise kids, period, much less royal ones. I’ve known plenty of kids who were royal pains, my own included, but these boys seem to be the real deal. They seem to know how to be serious about their official family duties but also lead full and individualized lives.

Of course, all this got me thinking about William on his wedding day, and how very much he must be missing his mama, despite all the excitement and the festivities. I’ve heard it said that William’s new wife shares some of Diana’s traits, and I hope that her legacy lives on through this young couple.

Marriage is hard, plain and simple. It requires hard work, even when one’s spouse is easy-going and fun-loving, like mine is. Carrying out one’s marriage under the microscope and in the spotlight must be even harder, as the world saw with Charles and Diana. I hope the newlyweds have an easier time, and I hope Kate learned from Diana’s example about how to remain true to yourself while fulfilling your obligations.

I’ll never forget watching Diana’s funeral, and seeing the millions of people lining the streets. Emotions were raw as a nation, and perhaps the entire world, mourned the loss of “the People’s Princess.” 

Watching those teenage boys, one of whom was about my own boy’s age now, walking  along the procession route for their mama’s funeral is one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. The grace and maturity William and Harry displayed is a testament to the woman who raised them.

They had to have been so shocked, so sad, and so bereft, yet they knew the eyes of the world were upon them, and like their mama had done so many times, they bucked up and got on with it, fulfilling their duty like the princes they are.

The most indelible image of that day, for me, is this one.

The letter from William and Harry inscribed “Mummy” that rode atop the carriage that carried her coffin to Westminster Abbey.

Nosey-Rosey that I am, I would LOVE to know what those sweet boys wrote to their mama. Of course, I wouldn’t really intrude on such a sacred thing as that, but I am curious. I wrote a letter to my mom, to go in her coffin. Don’t recall one thing I said in that letter, but I hope I expressed the huge love, endless gratitude, utter grief, and bottomless loss I felt in that moment. Words are insufficient when it comes to expressing the most delicate yet most cardinal feelings.

And that, my friends, is why we need champagne. Lots and lots of champagne.