Tongue Update

I had my first post-surgery checkup today. Everything looks good; I’m healing well. Also, the pathology report came back and the spot that the doctor sent in for the biopsy was the scariest looking spot and, by golly, it was the most diseased spot as well.

The section he sent for the biopsy came back as “atypical,” which means that the cells have the potential to turn into cancer. The entire lesion came back as hyperkeratotic, which means that it’s thickened, but it was not atypical. This is a very good sign.

We’ll have to watch it to make sure it doesn’t come back. I’ll be going back for another followup in early July and at that time they’ll take a picture of the spot. I’ll get a copy of the picture and ask him to point out what I’m looking for. Then I’ll need to check it periodically. I will also need to come back for checkups every six months for the foreseeable future.

But ultimately, this will likely turn out to be a heartstoppingly exciting time in my life that I’ll be able to look back on in thirty years and say, “Wow! That was heartstoppingly exciting!”

Today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link is Dark Souls, by Paula Morris. Dark Souls is the story of Miranda, who was in a terrible car accident in which her best friend died. And that night, Miranda discovered that she can see ghosts. Her parents decide that they need to take a family trip to York, in the UK, where Miranda gets introduced to the ghosts of York. And, yes, the ghosts that Miranda sees check out in reality.

I Had My Tongue Surgery on Wednesday

And I’m going back to work on Sunday. At least, I hope I am

Boy, does everything between my ears and my clavicles hurt, though. It’s no fun to eat. It’s no fun to swallow. I have had to let a bunch of saliva drip out of my mouth twice.

For pain medication, I have Tylenol #3 and 400-milligram ibuprofen pills. The surgeon said that I can take the ibuprofen every 3.5 hours instead of every four, and I may have to start doing that.

There’s not much to say about the actual procedure. I was out for most of it. The block they used to hold my mouth open tasted horrible. I remember that much.

So now we wait. We wait for my mouth to heal, and we wait for the pathologist report to come back and see if my margins are clear. It there is any dysplasia in the apparently clear area the surgeon took, I’ll have to go back for more surgery. Fun.

But when I’m 80 years old and looking back on this, I’ll be glad I did it.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time! I’ve read three books while convalescing, so I’m going to be able to get ahead a little on my Goodreads account. I’ve been kind of worried because I only have 366 read books, and there’s a bunch that I wouldn’t try to sell through Amazon Associates. Where did I leave off? Crap.

Okay. We were supposed to do the Monster High books by Lisi Harrison next, but it looks like they’re out of print, and not even available as Kindle books. So, onwards, to Dark Archives: A Librarian’s Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin, by Megan Rosenbloom, which is just like it says on the tin. Rosenbloom, a librarian, talks about the history of books bound in human skin, the rumors regarding them, actual examples of them, and the controversy regarding what to do with the books that they’ve identified (should they be rebound in ordinary bindings and bury the original bindings or left as-is or what?) A very interesting book demystifying a macabre topic.

Biopsy Results

Welp. It’s not the best news, but it could be worse.

I didn’t catch all of the words that the pathologist had in the report. In fact, the surgeon needed to call the pathologist to see exactly what’s going on in my mouth.

It’s not cancer. It’s not precancerous. It’s the stage before that. It’s something that, if we leave it alone long enough, could become cancer.

So we’re not going to leave it alone.

I’m scheduled to have it excised on May 18. Two weeks from today. Then we’ll have to watch it from then onwards until we’re sure it’s not coming back.

So. Like I said, not the best news, but it definitely could be worse.

I have to fast before the procedure, because they’ll be knocking me out for this. Thank God. The biopsy was unpleasant enough.

Then, since my job is almost all talking — answering phones, calling doctors, helping people at the register, etc. — I’m taking Thursday, Friday, and Saturday off and hope to basically not talk at all for those days, then when I go back to work, it’ll feel better.

I’ve also bought 32 single-serving things of baby food. Stage 2, so that it has a bit of texture. I’m also going to stock up on canned fruit, pouches of tuna, and other soft food as well. I’m also going to order a new cup for my blender, so that once I’ve had enough of tuna and pureed mango, I can cook and then mash it up real good and, well, make my own baby food.

I wonder how beef, tomatoes, cheese, and taco seasoning would work? I’m sure it would taste like a taco. But would the texture be edible?

Stay tuned for “Mashing up Food with Olivia,” here on

Gratuitous Amazon Link time! Today we have The Glass Sentence, the first book in the Mapmakers trilogy, by S.E. Grove. The Mapmakers trilogy is set in a world where something happened and different areas of the world ended up separated in time. You can travel from one to another, but what used to be southern Canada is now the ice-age Prehistoric Snows, a big chunk of Oceania is “the 40th Age,” etc. And no one can agree when it actually is. I have to admit I haven’t read the second two books in the trilogy (I visit my local Half-Price Books in hopes of finding it, but haven’t had any luck yet), but this book is fantastic.

Tongue Biopsy Update

I had my biopsy on Wednesday. It’s Saturday night and my tongue still hurts. OMG.

The surgeon says that it doesn’t look like anything scary. It actually looks like a skin graft (N.B. Do not Google “tongue skin graft.” There are too many “before” pictures.). So we did the biopsy anyhow, just to make sure that it *isn’t* anything scary.

In other news, I’ve discovered that I subvocalize* when I write, but not so much when I read. I’ve been able to read pretty much nonstop without any pain, but even starting to compose posts is pretty uncomfortable.

I think that at least part of why my tongue still hurts is that I use it for so much. The surgeon said that there are no limitations on what I can eat, but some stuff hurts to eat because I move my tongue (like to scoop the food out from under my tongue) while I eat.

Also, my job is almost all talking. Whether at the drop-off window, the pickup window, answering the phone, or working “resolution,” I’m likely to have to talk to somebody — patients, doctors, coworkers, etc.. If I knew then what I know now, I would have taken Thursday off as well so I could rest my tongue.

I have a checkup on Tuesday and I’m going to try to go all day with minimal talking tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll feel better soon.

I’m trying to decide what I’ll eat once it is no longer so uncomfortable to eat. I’m thinking maybe a hamburger from either Culver’s or Whataburger. I’d hoped to make it a burger from Fletcher’s down at the Pearl tomorrow, but that’s not going to happen.

Today’s Gratuitous Amazon Link is West of the Moon, by Margie Preus. West of the Moon is the tale, inspired by someone that really existed, of Astri, who is sold by her aunt and uncle and escapes. Together with a mute girl and her younger sister, Astri begins a voyage from Norway to the United States.

*That’s when you move your tongue, larynx, etc. but aren’t actually talking.

I Have a Biopsy in 14.5 Hours

I chipped a tooth a month or so ago. Evelyn and I were eating curried chickpeas and potatoes over brown rice and some of the rice was a little hard. I bit down on a piece of rice, and felt a stabbing pain in my tooth and jaw.

I gave it some time to see if it was just a temporary pain or if I really chipped my tooth. And a week or so later, a small piece of tooth came out of my mouth. So I made an appointment with my dentist to have her look over the tooth, which was cracked, and so was another tooth on that same side.

While she was in there, I had her look at some pain I was having on the other side of my mouth. I was worried that it was a cavity, because it had been so painful for a while, but it turned out to be a big chunk of plaque that was scraping my gums.

While she was there, though, she said that there was a white mark on the side of my tongue. She gave me a whole list of things it could be, including candidiasis, and, well, I do take inhaled steroids and I’m not perfect about rinsing my mouth out. She agreed that was probably what it was and said she’d give me a prescription for nystatin.

Instead of nystatin, though, she referred me to an oral surgeon for a biopsy just in case it’s leukoplakia, because leukoplakia is potentially precancerous.

So. I called the oral surgeon and made the appointment, and it’s set for 2:30 pm this afternoon.

My anxiety leads me to catastrophize, so I half-expect him to take one look at my tongue and ask if I have my affairs in order because my tongue is going to kill me.

So. 14.5 hours to go. My pharmacist’s mother died from cancer, so she is very supportive of me finding out what it is and tackling it. My son has a vested interest in me getting this taken care of, particularly if it is potentially precancerous. I have an even more important interest in getting this taken care of.

I guess we’ll know what we know when we know it.

Oh, and I am taking care of my affairs. I’m doing housekeeping-type chores more than anything else. I’m knuckling down and getting those blankets unraveled so I can make new blankets from them. I’m shredding old junk mail and looking for memorabilia that might be mixed in with it. I’m reading and weeding my book collection (and then cataloguing the ones I’m keeping). Because the surgeon may decide that the white mark isn’t anything to worry about, but 65 people got killed by stray bullets in 2008 (nationwide) and so maybe there’s a stray bullet out there with my name on it. Maybe I’ll get hit in the head by a meteorite. Or maybe I’ll live to a ripe old age and just have less clutter in my life.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time! Today we have Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened, by Allie Brosh. I think I’ve posted this one before, but I love it so much that it’s worth posting again.

Reduce, Reuse, Recyle . . . Embellish?

Back in the fall, I began a project of unraveling a cotton blanket in order to make a new blanket out of it.

I have always had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. And I do mean always. When I was little, I would sleep in what my mom told me was 15-minute increments and it was driving her crazy. So she asked my pediatrician, who suggested she spike my bottle with whiskey. I . . . don’t even know.

When I was ten, I had an EEG. My third grade teacher had never had a child as distracted as I was. She thought I was having absence seizures.

Two years later, my best friend convinced me to join the girls’ summer softball league. I was not at all athletic and she assured me that it was all just for fun and I’d enjoy it.

I did not enjoy it. In fact, I didn’t enjoy it so much that the rest of the team invited my best friend to join them in ganging up on me. She took them up on it and so for however-many weeks it was, I was all by myself with no one to support me (my mom’s best friend’s daughter didn’t even support me). One of the girls decided to try to trick me into believing that I could be the hero of a game if I’d steal home.

For those who don’t know baseball/softball lingo, that means to just run towards home plate from third base when it’s not actually time for the people on the bases to move. I’d been telling them that no way was I going to do that, because I knew that I’d never be able to do it and that it would just expose me to more ridicule.

Still, they kept on me. Every game, “This is the one where you’re going to steal home.” “Not going to happen.”

Finally, I decided that the only way to make it stop would be to just do it and let them laugh at me. But I wasn’t going to make it look like I really was going along with it, so I just walked off from third base towards home plate.

My mom thought that this was the result of some kind of brain malfunction. She didn’t ask me what happened or anything. She just called my pediatrician (a different one from the one who suggested she spike my bottle) and scheduled a brain examination.

Anyway, I needed to be asleep for the test, so she kept me up all night and then gave me . . . a sleeping pill of some sort before we left the house. They hooked the electrodes up to my head and left me alone in a dark room.

My mom says that the tests show that I was awake the whole time, but I really only remember waking up once when someone opened the door to look at me.

But still, between the sleep deprivation and the sleeping pill, you’d expect that not even someone opening the door would have woken me up, right?

And it wasn’t just those things. I always had trouble sleeping. I tend towards bimodal sleeping anyhow, where I go to sleep and wake up about four hours later, and then go to sleep after having been up for maybe half an hour.

I talked to my first psychiatrist about my sleep problems and he suggested that maybe I had sleep apnea, but I think that would’ve shown up on the EEG. My psychiatrist suggested that if I had sleep apnea I would snore, and both Thomas and Alex assure me that they’ve never heard me snoring.

So, my psychiatrist suggested that maybe I’m having trouble regulating my body temperature at night. He suggested that I try turning the air conditioning down a degree or two at bedtime and that worked really well.

My dad moved in with me ten years ago (!) and he gets cold way easier than I do, so we stopped having the temperature drop farther at night. Then my insomnia came back.

I have recently remembered the conversation about my body temperature, and so I started sleeping on top of my covers. That works really well.

I’ve also heard good things about the weighted blanket, but the only one I like, which is knitted out of cotton, is $200 for more weight than I need at my weight. So now I’m thinking that when I make this new blanket, I’m going to thread glass beads onto the blanket as I go. Probably one every other stitch and one every other row, so that there’s some space between the beads.

I will, of course, not be able to sleep on top of this blanket. It’ll be far too bumpy for that. But just maybe it’ll have that weighted blanket magic and sleeping under it will give me a good night’s rest.

I haven’t finished unraveling the old blanket, but I am starting to cast the new blanket on so that I can see how it works out. I’ll make posts once I have some pictures of the work in progress.

In Gratuitous Amazon Link news, we have The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe, by Ryan North and Erica Henderson.

Health? Crafting? Social Media? IDEK

This is probably about all of the above and I’m going to try to make it quick because it’s 11:00 and I have tomorrow off, but I’m going to see about going in to catch up on filing tomorrow.

I keep getting

That’s the middle of the story. Let’s try starting here: For my entire life, I’ve had trouble sleeping. I’ve been screened for apnea several times and I had an EEG when I was a kid (my mom thought that my behavior from bullying was the result of some kind of neurological disorder) and my brain waves were odd (they apparently indicated that I was awake despite being both sleep-deprived and also having been given some kind of sleeping pill) and I’m sure that if I had sleep apnea, something would have shown up that day.

Years ago, one of my doctors suggested that I may have trouble regulating my body temperature at night and he suggested that I turn the temperature in my house down at night to see if that helps, and it really pretty much does.

Now there’s the fashion for those weighted blankets that are supposed to help with difficulty sleeping and I’ve been tempted by them, but (a) body temperature regulation problems and (b) those things are actually too heavy for me. The blanket is supposed to be 10% of your body weight and they apparently assume that their user is 150 pounds (68 kg). I’m 120 (54.4 kg). I’d be crushed by a 15-pound (6.8 kg) blanket.

I recently saw an ad on Facebook for a cotton knit weighted blanket that promises that you won’t overheat under it because cotton and knit. It’s $200 and is still too heavy for me, so I’m trying to figure out how to make one myself.

So, to that end, I bought one of those knitting looms and am making a prototype out of cotton blend yarn. If this ends up being workable, I’ll get 12 pounds of pure cotton yarn and we’ll see what we can do.

I just finished casting this on and my hands were cramping up a bit, so I decided to take a break and post about the project. Once I’ve got enough on my prototype to see if it’ll work, I’ll cast it off and take a picture then post it here.

Oh, and now that Evelyn and I are both vaccinated for COVID, I may be having her over for dinner and a movie and I might get some more work done on the sweaters I’m making for Mila and Evelyn’s other dogs. More on that later, as well.

And, since I’m posting this on my desktop computer, time for another Gratuitous Amazon Link. We’re back into the woods on the Discworld books again. Today, we have Interesting Times, another Rincewind book. I read this, like, almost four years ago now, so I’d have to refresh my memory on this one. I read the summary and it kind of sounds familiar. I probably need to read all of those books again. Someday. I’m still pretty burned out on them right now, though. Additionally, this link may or may not be to the novel. The paperback copy clearly says that it’s a stage play based on the novel, but the Kindle version doesn’t, and the “look inside” feature on the Kindle version is clearly the novel. I don’t feel like investing $5 right now to see which it is.

I Have a Headache

November 26, 2020 1 of 8

I might actually make it to eight posts today. Probably not, but who knows?

I was going to post about our upcoming socially distanced brunch, but I have a headache and that’s pretty much all I can think about. So. Headaches.

I have been having headaches for as long as I can remember in the sense that I can’t remember the first headache I ever had. I do remember my first migraine.

We were living in the house that we lived in from my birth to age 11 and suddenly my head started to hurt. At that point, the only painkiller I knew about was Aspergum. Mmm. Aspergum.

Okay, an aside about Aspergum. Aspergum was a gum that was, what’s the word, impregnated? I don’t think that’s the word I’m looking for, but we’ll stick with that.

Aspergum was a gum that was impregnated with, well, aspirin. My mom used to give it to me for sore throats, of which I had a bunch. I figured it was just for sore throats, so of course I wouldn’t think it would help with the headache. And since it’s aspirin, of course it would’ve helped.

The pain of that first migraine was *so* bad. I actually thought that I might have had a brain tumor. Sound and light hurt and so I went to my bedroom then lay there in the dark with my pillow over my head and hope it went away.

Just a bit of a brush with childhood trauma here. I wasn’t yet at the age where I hid out and so I did kind of expect my folks (we lived in a really small house and I am an only child) to notice that I was gone and ask where I went, but no one ever said anything.

I was already kind of feeling like I was getting lost in the shuffle, and this contributed to that feeling. I got the impression that my pain and illness didn’t matter to my parents and kind of internalized that.

Back to physical illness. Eventually the headache passed and I emerged. I don’t remember if if I had what I came to refer to as the “bruisey” feeling afterwards. It really is hard to describe. It’s like having bruises behind your eyes.

Anyway, I suffered from the headaches off and on for years and we eventually got a book that is kind of like a pre-internet Dr. Google. And, just like Dr. Google, everything is cancer.

I thought that my migraines might be migraines, but when I looked them up in the symptom book, it said that I would have nausea and vomiting when I had a migraine. (Put a sort of mental bookmark here; we’ll be back to it in a minute or two. Or ten.).

So, years passed. I would retreat into my bedroom, wondering if I really did have a brain tumor and my parents still never seemed to notice that I was gone.

We moved into another house and I started hiding in the semi-finished basement on a regular basis, watching the TV that used to be in parents’ bedroom and sitting/lying/reclining on the sofa that used to sit in the living room at our old house.

For my high school years, I went back to my folks’ living room because my grandfather was living in the basement. When he passed away in 1984, I went back to the basement.

During these years, I still hid in my bedroom during migraines, but my folks didn’t really notice because they were used to me not being right there in the living room with them.

When I was 21, I started dating Thomas. On one of our dates, he said something about having a migraine, but he didn’t, like, go away to throw up or anything. I asked how he could have migraines without nausea or vomiting and he seemed surprised. He explained that you don’t *always* throw up with migraines. I described these debilitating headaches that I’d had for, at this point, more than 10 years, and he armchair diagnosed me with migraines.

The next time I had a migraine, I gave it its correct name and my mom gave me this snarky accusation me of thinking that I could have caught them from Thomas.

I told her that I’d been having them since before I was 11 years old. This came as a total surprise to her. So, I guess she really never did notice when I retreated to my room to hide during my headaches.

At some point, I realized that aspirin, acetaminophen/paracetamol, etc. helped with the pain and so I retreated into my room less often.

I lost some time from changing majors and transferring schools, so at 21, I was heading into my junior year of college. I went away to school for my last year and a half and this is when I realized that I was a “weekend migraineur.” That is when you have the migraines once the pressure is off. I would go visit Thomas at his college and enjoying time with him and his friends (who were awesome) and would have a migraine during the weekend, like, every other time.

So, since I had an on-campus medical clinic right there (it literally was like, thee doors down from my dorm), I went to the on-campus medical clinic where I finally got an official diagnosis of migraines. I also got a prescription for Inderal to prevent them and Cafergot when they flared up anyhow.

This kept them mostly under control until my wedding. I had long since gotten used to the Inderal keeping them under control, so I stopped filling the Cafergot. I got a migraine right after we came back from our honeymoon and just couldn’t eat. I’d had a gastrointestinal virus just before my wedding, which led me to being so hungry on my wedding day, I ate my dinner and my maid of honor’s (she didn’t like it and was going to throw it away anyhow). I ate fine on my honeymoon, but when the migraine finally hit, I had my one and only experience of nausea and vomiting from a migraine.

In the years since my wedding, they discovered that a combination of aspirin, acetaminophen/paracetmol, and caffeine (sold as Excedrin Migraine) will stop a migraine. Retail is stressful enough that I don’t have that many migraines anymore, and generic Excedrin Migraine takes care of the ones I have pretty well.

I do still get the occasional regular headache, and I still take the generic Excedrin Migraine for that, because, well, it’s not like there’s any specialty medication in there, and this helps me use up my generic Excedrin Migraine before it expires. If I reserved it just for real migraines I’d probably be throwing away nearly full bottles all of the time.

Have I read any books in which the main character gets migraines? I actually think I have, but can’t remember what book it was. I’m sure I’ll find it again during my intensive reread to update my Goodreads account.

So it looks like another Gratuitous Amazon Link for now. So. Discworld or Nancy Drew. Let’s find out. Discworld it is. Today we introduce probably the most popular (or second after the witches, maybe?) character set in the series, the City Watch, in Guards! Guards!

Alex Has a Cough

November 22, 2020 4 of 8

At, like, three this morning, Alex woke me up and said that he had a cough and he was a little queasy and that he wanted me to see if I had anything for it. I had something for the nausea (diphenhydramine) but no cough suppressant.

Later, when he got up for work, he took his temperature a bunch of times and it came up 98 (36.7 Celsius) every time. He still had the cough, so he put on an extra-thick mask and went to work.

He’s still at work, so I guess he passed the screening.

He’s going to get a COVID test tonight and we’ll see how it goes.

I went out and bought a bunch of imperishable groceries (tuna, cereal, nuts, little plastic bowls of fruit, etc.) and also some cough suppressant just in case he does have it.

And if he does have it, then guess who needs to get a COVID test tomorrow?

Wish me luck.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time. We’re still on the Discworld series. I don’t know if we ever see these characters again, so let’s call this one a standalone. Pyramids, by Terry Pratchett.

My Back Feels Better

November 18, 2020 1 of 8

I know that this blog isn’t sequential in any way, but I’m going to go ahead and post a sequel to yesterday’s post. Yesterday, my back hurt not-quite-badly-enough-to-hurt-when-I-breathed. Today, it’s still a little twingy, but it’s way better than yesterday.

I did really well until just before 6 pm, when I finally had to sit down in a chair with a back. Fortunately, we have just such a chair in the vaccination booth. So, I put on a glove, grabbed an anti-viral wipe, and sat down for a few minutes, letting my back really relax and tilting my head back in a way I hadn’t done since I got up this morning. Then, after a couple of minutes, I stood up, wiped the chair down, and got back to work.

I wonder if there’s some kind of scuttlebutt that they might be closing the city down again. At one point the line at our pharmacy went oh, maybe a quarter of the way to the back of the store. And our store is pretty big. We had to stay a few minutes late to take care of everyone in line and then I did some shopping on my way out.

I basically bought some Apple Cinnamon Cheerios (love Apple Cinnamon Cheerios!) and soup for dinner some night (which will get a short “What’s For Dinner Tonight post, probably). The cereal, soup, and pasta aisles were all pretty picked-over. Not like they were by April this year, but kind of where they were in maybe late February or early March.

I’m trying to do a Gratuitous Amazon Link and my computer’s being a total butt. I think I need to reboot tonight. I keep clicking on the link I want, or at least think I’m clicking on the link I want. But my computer is dragging. And after all that, the next book up should have been easy to remember, because I remembered noticing that this was coming up before. We’re finally to the beginning of the Nancy Drew series, The Secret of the Old Clock, by Carolyn Keene. And this time the Kindle link works (and may be a special edition. I’m not real clear on what “a limited number of copies” means in the context of an Amazon link.