24 September 2006

Lacing my sneakers again

In years past I have participated in the Multiple Sclerosis walk, an 8-mile jaunt down the C&O canal towpath. I raised, all told, probably about $2,500 to help fight a disease that has made my Mom's life much more difficult.

I won't give all the info on MS here (although you can find it here), but I think by now we all understand how debilitating MS can be. And in addition to Mom, my cousin Kathy, my friend Greykell, and others I know deal with the effects of MS everyday.

Mom and I used to do the walk together, back when that was still possible for her.

One year I did the walk the day after opening night of a show. I got up bright and early, did the walk, went home and put my feet up for a bit, then went to the theater and did the show in 3" heels.

And one year the walk was scheduled the same day as Maureen's wedding, so I arrived at the start at Great Falls at 8:00 AM, walked the 8 miles, met Les at the end point at Glen Echo at 10:15, changed in the ladies room into wedding guest wear, and Les and I sped off across two counties to be at Maureen's wedding by 11:00.

A few years ago, Stacey and some other friends formed Team Greykell and registered for the Big Walk - the MS Challenge 3-Day Walk. If there's one in your area, you've heard the ads on the radio: "3 Days, 50 Miles, Closer to a Cure." Here in 2006 they are still going strong and this year, I'm joining them. I can't do the whole walk, but I can volunteer for a day. I'm taking September 29th off of work and volunteering for Day 1 of the walk. Doing what, I don't yet know, but doing something.

And I'd like your support. Team Greykell has a fund-raising challenge and as a member of Team Greykell, I'm now part of that challenge. Mom has written a check and I contributed to Cate's share of the challenge before I decided to join the team, but the MS folks would like me to raise $1,500 (or, of course, more). If you can't send money, I'll happily accept good wishes. But money is always nice....

18 September 2006


You'd think that considering what a hypochondriac I am, this would have been taken care a lot sooner. You'd think that, but you'd be wrong.

Over Labor Day weekend David and I went to the Kennedy Center's Page-to-Stage New Play festival, which was great fun. We got to hear some plays get read that will be in full productions later on in the year and make some notes as to which ones we should try especially hard to see. At some point in the weekend, I noticed that my foot would randomly hurt. Nothing awful, it just .... hurt. I would grimace and limp for a second or two and then it would stop hurting and I'd mostly forget about it. It didn't hurt a lot. It sort of felt as though someone had snapped a rubber band on the top of my foot.

I figured that it would go away on its own and went about my business. The twinges got more frequent and began to hurt more, as though the rubber band were being snapped harder, but I persisted in believing that this would resolve on its own.

The following weekend I drove up to New Jersey to sing a lot of Gilbert and Sullivan, which (the singing, not the driving) is like eight hours at the seaside. I wore my cute medium-heeled sandals, although I kicked them off quite a bit and went barefoot because it was that kind of day. Not too many twinges that weekend as I was seated a lot from Friday afternoon when I left to Sunday morning when I got back. There was probably a twinge any time I walked more than 100 or so paces.

By Monday the twinges were coming any time I walked *anywhere* - like the 50 paces to the kitchen at my office and I began to dither about what I should do about it. So I told my supervisor that I might go to the doctor in the afternoon, but I was deeply ambivalent about which doctor I should see - was this bone related and I should go an osteopath? Should I see my GP? How about the emergency room? Wouldn't one of my regular doctors want to make an appointment three weeks away? What if this became a crisis before then? It was getting worse, after all. I was beginning to suspect that at some point my ankle would give way during a twinge, which seemed like a bad idea. Dither, dither, and more dither.

On Tuesday I came to my senses and went to the Emergency Room, even though I was afraid that they would find nothing wrong and think that I am an idiot. (I am, but that's not the point here.) If going to the ER is something that you have any flexibility about, go on a Tuesday afternoon. I got there around 3:00 and was out before 4:00. The ER triage nurse shunted me off to a PA who took me up to imaging where I had an X-ray in the hospital's brand new shiny imaging center.

I was sent out to wait for a few minutes (always bring your current script to the emergency room as it is an excellent time to run your lines) and then my PA came out and told me that I had a sprained ankle. I completely didn't expect that because when people on television have sprained ankles they can't put their weight on them. And the ankles are swollen and stuff. I realize that basing anything on the people on television is a pretty silly thing to do, but it seems that I had done it.

As I pondered the fact that I'd just spent several days walking around on a sprained ankle, including a several-hour stint in heels, he said the good news was that no bones were broken but they looked kind of thin on the X-ray. I went kind of cold and stammered that I have a malabsorbtion disorder and that osteoporosis is strongly tied to Celiac disease while the type of klaxons that you have in WWII movies or Star Trek: The Next Generation starting running in my head.

You see, the only reason that I stick to my boring, annoying, no-pizza-for-Leta diet is because I don't want Osteoporosis or Lymphoma.

And before you ask, everyone I've told this too has suggested that I start taking calcium supplements. I've been taking them for about the last 15 years. So thanks, but yeah, I've got that covered.

An RN wrapped my ankle and told me I should keep it wrapped until it felt better, which is sort of difficult because when it's not twinging, it feels just fine. So I've decided that once I go 24 hours with no twinges, I'll ditch the Ace bandage, which itches like anything. Several folks at the hospital asked me how I sprained it and my answer was --- I dunno. And I don't. I have no idea. I didn't trip over anything or turn my ankle or make some unexpected left turn while walking forward. I have no clue how I did this.

So the RN was explaining what I should do which I summarized with the RICE acronym: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. The Ace bandage provides the compression and I'm supplying the rest by spending more time on the couch with my feet up.

It still twinges but the twinges are now very mild compared to what they were this past Tuesday. I don't wince and limp when one happens, I just frown and mentally reset the 24-hour twinge clock.

I'll probably have to follow up with my GP if it's not better pretty soon. Or rather, very soon.

And that bone density test that my Gastroenterologist recommended has moved from the "yeah, I should do that sometime" to "I need to schedule this for some time soon" pile. Sigh.

17 September 2006

How she knows me

Last night I went to see "The Baby Dance," which Sara Joy directed, and in which McCall and Kim and Brian were performing. (Good production - yay, team!) Kim's cute daughter number 2 (Deanna) was serving as an usher and program hander-outer and when she recognized me hanging around the lobby, motioned me over. We got caught up (she's just started 4th grade, yeah, it's fun) and then she recognized her teacher. Being a young lady of good manners, Deanna began to introduce us.

"This is my teacher! And this is Leta! I know her from .... shows."

Which I thought was an impressively good save for a 9-year-old. During that ellipsis she must have mentally run through the entire catalogue of shows her extended family had participated in (a very large number - she is 3rd generation Theater-American) and come up blank because I've never actually shared a stage with anyone she is related to by blood or marriage. I'm sure Iwill someday, but I haven't yet, and until that day comes, Deanna has her useful answer to how she knows me.

11 September 2006

How to smell really bad

This worked for the parking garage at my office and it can work for yours.

1. Round up a bunch of willing sea animals, like shrimps, crabs, etc. If there are no shrimps, crabs, etc. you can substitute squirrels, raccoons, and the like.

2. Set out a tub of old, warm mayonnaise and let them treat it like a hot tub for several hours.

3. After they get terribly, terribly ill, throw up a lot, and die, transfer the mayo, animals, and animal barf to a quiet corner of the garage near one of the air handlers.

Et voila!

I can't absolutely swear that's what happened at my office, but it's exactly what it smells like in the garage. In fact, we are assuming that some poor, small animal did crawl into some obsure part of the air handler and die. At its height, I tried to avoid breathing during the short walk to my car but I'd still end up feeling neauseated by the time I had the engine on.

Oddly enough, something similar happened in a house that Mollie and I rented a few years ago. The little addition that we used as an office developed a really bad smell and we couldn't figure out what it was. (Apparently, we had lived lives that were far too sheltered up 'til then.) Eventually my fried Russell happened to be in the house after a rehearsal and identified the problem nearly immediately. He and I walked around outside and found the area over the addition where a few discrete slate roof tiles had broken off, allowing small animal access.

I called the landlord the next day and reported both the dead animal issue and the hole in the roof. They promised to have someone over by the end of the week to deal with it (All together now: Yeah, right.)

I'd call every few days to no avail. Eventually as the corpse in the crawlspace dessicated (this takes rather a while), the smell went away. And not long after that we got some seasonal rains. When I noticed a patch of mold in a picture hanging on the wall approximately under the missing tiles, I called again and pointed out that water was getting into the house. And that as the house did not belong to me, it would be no skin off my nose if portions of the wall would eventually have to be rebuilt. Workmen were there by the end of the week. I'm pretty sure that they made no effort to retrieve the poor mummified little critter, but just permanently entombed him there as they replaced the roof tiles.

So I really hope that the building guys here find whatever is making the garage so odiferous and dispose of it appropriately.

And I'll keep walking very quickly to the car.