The Penny

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

[Monday, May 30, 2011]

Washington DC Temple


I love the Washington DC temple. It's where I did proxy baptisms as a youth, and it's where I received my endowment. I was so glad that my stake in New York was in this temple district when I was endowed! We switched to the Boston temple shortly thereafter, and later we were in the Manhattan temple district. I love those temples, and they may be prettier inside, but the Washington DC temple has a special place in my heart.

Although I detest Beltway traffic, it's neat when you take the outer loop, because the temple suddenly rises to greet you as you come around a bend.

Isn't this next picture cool? God did some of his best landscaping work on Maryland. If you know the area, you can see where Beach Dr winds through the trees. Check out the stake center, north of the temple--it looks so tiny!

When you finally turn in to the parking lot, you see the temple again:

It is truly magnificent! I'm so glad that I went today. I stayed for over an hour after my session was done, because I didn't want to leave. It was so peaceful.

While I was there I had an attack of what's troubling me, and it was scary... but at the same time not. I can't say that I didn't get upset, but I just moved slowly and stayed until I knew I could manage my legs effectively. I used the time to pray and read and think. And cry. And pray some more. I got some good advice. I should write it down, since I'm so forgetful lately!

As I was leaving the temple, I got an email from my ward Relief Society presidency. This Wednesday is stake temple day! As in, two days from now. I thought it was next week, since our stake conference is not this coming Sunday but next. But I'm not complaining... going twice in one week would be great. If I can be done with my IEP meeting that afternoon in time to get down to the temple by 5:00. Yes, they're meeting quite early.

Alright, I'll wrap this up. I'm so glad I took the time today to go to the temple!

[Saturday, May 28, 2011]



I had my allergist appointment earlier this week. First time for me... I figured it couldn't hurt to see if food allergies could be a factor in my problems.

They're not! I kind of figured that, but now I know. It's one more thing to tick off the list.

It was funny how the allergist appointment came about. I was having a bad health day and stayed home from church Easter Sunday. Someone was worried that I might have gotten my feelings hurt over some foolishness with the ward choir and called to check on me. Not at all--I was just a sickly girl. It was sweet of this sister to think of me, though. I told her that I was going through a rough patch again with my health, and she started asking questions. My problems reminded her of her son's, and she urged me to see the allergist that figured out his problems. So that's how I ended up seeing this guy.

As an aside, I was again struck with how funny it is that everyone thinks my problem is whatever they have or their mother had or their kid had or whatever. I guess it's human nature to see connections.

Back to the topic...

The good news is that I don't have allergies to the 11 most common foods (yes, they jabbed me 11 times for that) or 9 of the 10 most common environmental allergens--jabbed me 10 times and then injected 6 for that one. They injected higher doses of some to make sure. I'm allergic to mites, but not severely.

The bad news is that he thinks I have at least four different problems. He thinks I should start with two different specialists (one being an SLP!), but probably will need at least one more. Crazy, right? But what he said made a whole lot of sense. This guy spent over an hour asking me questions and LISTENING to the answers, and later he took another half hour telling me the results of my testing and sharing more thoughts he had while I was being tested. He totally broke the 10-minute limit on time with a physician.

Well, I guess the bad news is still good news. I was so glad to have information that makes sense that I haven't worried much about any of it. I took a few days to self-evaluate then put out the word that I'm looking for a referral to a particular specialty within my field, so hopefully that will yield fruit. I already have a referral for the other specialty he mentioned (like 100 times).

What I really need is a good general practitioner or internist. I think my nurse practitioner is good, but I need someone great. Now that I've experienced excellence, I really don't want to settle.




Qualified to buy a condo on my own, despite being way over ratio (darn student loans). My dad was willing to co-sign, but it looks like I won't need him to. The guy at the mortgage company kept running the numbers through FHA's system and scratching his head. All he could say was, "I don't know, I guess it likes your credit score..." My hard work at repairing my credit (I was unspeakably dumb between the ages of 18 and 21) paid off.

Have the opportunity to pick up freelance interpreting jobs.

Have the opportunity to tutor wonderful children.

Get to play one of my favorite hymns, "All Creatures of Our God and King" at stake conference. And finally meet the other interpreter in the stake (I was having a super fun medical procedure last time we had stake conference and on vacation the one before, so I haven't met him yet).

Really good at writing IEPs. I get compliments from colleagues and hugs from parents.

Teaching inservices! Woohoo! I love teaching. When I work with kids, I help half a dozen kids a year become more intelligible. When I work with other therapists, I help a hundred kids a year become more intelligible.

Have found support and something like friendship in an unlikely place.

May be able to work full-time this summer. It's almost too good to be true.

Got fantastic advice from the allergist. I don't have allergies (yay) but it was fortuitous that I was referred to him... He's brilliant.

Have the ability to help a friend.

Can go to the temple Monday morning! What a great way to start the week.



I am...

Buying a condo. Maybe. Offer accepted, but not certain until I read the inspection report. It's an estate sale, and the family is bitching out over it. They know the systems are old and don't want to replace them or cut the price. If the inspection is terrible, I might have to walk... in which case I begin the search over, and I have to be out of my current place by the end of July.

Freelance interpreting as much as possible. See item one.

Tutoring as much as possible. See item one.

Playing the organ for one session of stake conference (in two weeks) and interpreting the other. I've never played the organ in that building, so at some point I need to go there and check it out. In my copious free time.

Writing a million IEPs. Or it might be a dozen. Feels like a million...

Teaching two inservices at work. I volunteered for it, and I'm looking forward to it, but preparing is just one more thing taking up my time.

Coordinating employment for the fall. I can't say much, except that I have had it about up to here (think high) with my agency.

Negotiating pay for a Baltimore City early intervention job. I know, am I crazy? I know people who've worked early intervention in Baltimore City, heard about the drug deals that go on in front of you. You count your blessings if your car is still there when you leave the kid's house. But I need to money (see item one!).

Dealing with my health issues. Slowly. Oh, I'll have to blog about fun times with the allergist.

Thinking how I'm going to help a friend pass the Praxis and certify as a sped teacher. My current thought is just to take the darn thing for her (I work in special ed and could pass the test cold), but that would kind of quash the next item on my list.

Wanting to go to the temple but never seeming to have the time. I'll admit that Beltway traffic is intimidating. That two-hour session requires a five-hour time commitment. Wish they were open this Monday, but they're closed every Monday. Oooooo! I just checked their website and they are open on Memorial Day 8:00-12:00! That's the best news I've heard all week. :)

[Sunday, May 1, 2011]

What to Do...


As a Speech-Language Pathologist, people often want to show me their kids, especially for articulation issues. "Will you listen to little Johnny?" It's understandable. I'm sure I would do the same thing--you want to be sure your kid is developing appropriately.

But then there are the kids whose parents don't ask but who are screaming, "I have autism!" or "I don't understand anything you say!" Or occasionally there's a kid who is totally unintelligible, but the parents seem unaware that they should be able to understand their kid by that age. It's hard, because I know that early intervention brings great results.. well, appropriate early intervention does. Sometimes the early years are wasted by therapist doing things that fly in the face of reason (not to mention research), like gum brushing and tongue push-ups. But on the whole, early intervention is a very good thing, so I hate to see these kids not get any help until kindergarten.

Because of this, I feel a real conflict when I encounter kiddos who quite obviously are delayed or have a disability. On the one hand, it would be so good for the child to receive services to help their development. On the other hand, the parent has not asked for my expertise. So I keep my big mouth shut.

For example, a friend of mine has a toddler who has many of the signs of autism (or something else neurological). Even Laynie noticed--she can't identify the speech/language concerns, but her eyes got wide when she saw him toe-walking in his heavy Sunday shoes. This child would probably qualify for a special education preschool, with speech and OT. I haven't said anything, but sometimes I wonder if I should. If I were in the parents' place, I think I would want to know. I'm sure they're not ignoring the signs; they just don't know better. He's the oldest child, so they probably don't have a basis for what "typical" is. But maybe they wouldn't want to know or would not be ready to hear it if they weren't seeking the information.

I have thought about offering to have a church "playgroup" once in a while, where the parents could bring their kids if they had concerns or to make sure they were on track. Pediatricians are supposed to fill that role, but I've had so many of the parents of my students (who all have disabilities) say, "My pediatrician thought he was fine, but I just felt like there was something wrong." The child turns out to be deaf, have autism, have a severe language disorder, etc. So I think a lot of pediatricians may not be well-versed in child development.

Hm, maybe I'll talk to the Relief Society President and see what she thinks about having a playgroup or mommy workshop or something. And hopefully those parents would take advantage of it.

Sick of Being Sick, Tired of Being Tired


I've been sick on and off (definitely more on than off) for the past year and a half. The pain has been so bad sometimes this week... I was not a happy camper. I think I have a better attitude about it since listening to Brother Richards' talk in General Conference last month. It's true that pain brings humility, and it also brings gratitude in a roundabout way: when you're feeling good, it's easy to be grateful for that because you have the memory of not feeling good fresh in your mind. Opposition.

So although it's been a rough week, I'm feeling hopeful. A friend from church called me earlier this week to check in with me, since I wasn't there last Sunday. She thought I should see an allergist, in case I have food allergies, and she gave me the name of her son's allergist. I have an appointment with him later this month, which I am looking forward to. Even if I don't have food allergies, I think I do have other allergies, because I'm always sniffly/coughy, and I have awful dark, yellow circles around my eyes.

People are so funny. I generally do not say anything when I feel sick, and the only people who know are three people at church, three people at work, my sister, and Laynie. My principal and assistant principal knew but I think they assumed I got better when I had my gallbladder removed. I'm not a big whiner. And I would never tell people all of the symptoms, because I don't want them to think I can't do my job or something. When people find out I'm sick (which doesn't really describe it, but whatever), they always want to advise me on what they think it is. People think it's whatever they have heard of or have experienced themselves. I don't mind hearing their theories, though, because I know they're trying to help.

Since I can't change it, I'm now focusing on what I need to learn from this experience. That has been really positive.

Sometimes it's scary and overwhelming. I guess when I think about it, that's how I feel, but I don't think about it a lot. Mostly I focus on compensating, like saving my energy during evenings and weekends. And I've tried some elimination and challenge dietary changes, which gives me a purpose, even if it doesn't help much.

I'm gearing up for another round of "Let the doctors poke and prod, ignore most of what I say, and find nothing." I've been off doctors for a few months, so it's probably time. I have the new allergy guy, and I got a GI recommendation from my boss, who has Crohn's. She's a discriminating GI consumer, so hopefully her recommendation is good. I want to find a new internist/GP. Laynie's family doctor seemed pretty with it, although she was a really strange person. I have a GI doctor who I think is a really good doctor... if your symptoms fit his research interests. He's into Barrett's esophagus and stomach problems. I became less interesting to him when he concluded that my GERD is due to a plain, old, run-of-the-mill hiatal hernia, and when my biopsies showed no signs of Barrett's. Too bad, because he is a brilliant guy, and I want brain power on my problem!

GI is a part of it, the only part that anyone knows. I get a lot of stomach cramping, and sometimes I'll have diarrhea for a day or several days, for no apparent reason. And the surgeon removed several lower abdominal lesions, which he speculated were to due to inflammation/infection unrelated to my poor, tired gallbladder, which had given up the ghost by that point. But there's more.

What's up with limb weakness, abnormally high muscle tension (torso), tingling, and a feeling that I need to MOVE my limbs. I think it might be what they call "restless leg syndrome," but sometimes it's my arms--like right now. I've had a few times where I had a problem with my left hip, that it's weak and hurts when I try to use my leg. I literally cannot support myself. One time it happened just after I entered a preschool classroom, and I had to stand there, balancing on my right leg, because I could not bear weight with the left. Luckily the class was in circle time, so it was not abnormal just to stand there watching them. It happens more often when I'm sitting and go to stand up, and my body says, "Surprise! I've been saving this for you.. You can't stand, silly!" It's not like this happens frequently, but I doubt it's normal to happen at all. I just go ahead and stand with my right leg, and I gently stretch the bad hip. That helps. Or I can wait for it to go away.

I am loath to admit that I have cognitive symptoms, like word retrieval issues, losing my train of thought, and confusion. I know that everyone experiences going into a room only to forget why you're there. But there are days or weeks that it happens to me frequently, then I'm fine for weeks or months. And have you ever suddenly not known where you are? Not just forgotten where you're going but not even known where you are. I'm not sure if that's normal or not. It happened to the title character in Still Alice (a book I highly recommend), and she ended up having Alzheimer's. When it later happened to me, of course I thought about that book, but I don't think I fit the profile for Alzheimer's. Whew. But the description in the book was right on the money.

And then there's the exhaustion. Sometimes I'm so tired when I get home from work, I can't do anything but lay there. That's pretty much guaranteed to happen on days when I work my regular job and take a freelance interpreting job in the evening. Even thinking about doing anything when I feel that way is enough to make me cry. I feel like such a weenie. It's not like I'm out on a construction site all day! My job is mentally and emotionally draining (try interacting all day with people who need you precisely because they can't interact with people), but I really don't think I should be that tired. It's not all the time. And maybe food plays into it, because there are times I'm too busy to eat properly.

The tough thing is that I don't even know that my problems are related. I wonder if the GI stuff is separate from the rest of it.

I'm so glad [next to] no one reads my blog. It's so helpful for me to process.

OK, I'm formulating a plan. I have the allergist appointment. I'm going to make an appointment with my nurse practitioner (give her one last chance--she did order the right tests to identify the gallbladder problem, after all). I'm going to make an appointment with my boss's GI doctor. And I think I'll make an appointment with Laynie's weirdo doctor. When it comes to doctors, I'll take intelligence over good social skills any day, and I think she's intelligent.

Sometimes I feel like I need to get a medical degree to solve my problems!