Friday, February 29, 2008

7 things I gained from going to the gym

7. Headache/phone calls to customer service with holding time of 45 minutes or more/monthly dues until the year 2035 - but I was prepared for this one because gyms are notorious for their poor billing/deceptive contract practices, and my health is worth it, right? Unless stress of dealing the the gym negates the positive effects of workouts...OK too much thinking...

6. Improved ability to catch the morning train - Eat that, mean train conductor and the organization guru who says that I simply need to leave my house earlier!

5. Stinky clothes in my gym bag and more dirty laundry on the weekend.

4. Realization that even though I carry around two toddlers, 35 lbs each, in both hands most of the weekend, it is still hard to keep up with the upper body toning part of the class - really, what gives? Are they secretly training us to be commandos?

3. A bruise on my backside - from falling off the step. Yep, I am that uncoordinated and have some sort of spatial sensory disorder, or whatever the pros call it (us, common folk refer to it as "clumsiness"). It probably stems from the lack of crawling in early childhood.
3a) A bill from Burger King (located on the first floor, while gym is on the second) for all the drinks they had to replace due to my fall. Apparently, customers don’t like ceiling paint in their diet cola. Who would’ve thought?

2. Severely bruised ego - from realizing how many women my mother's age are in a better physical and aesthetic shape than me.


1. 3 pounds! - Yes, I think I have finally found my calling, and it is gaining weight! No, I am not pigging out, at least not more than usual, and according to some health articles it is not muscle weight either (it would take about 3 months to gain one pound in muscle weight). So I am perplexed (or at least that’s how they call it in polite circles) as to why after adding at least 3 half-hour sessions of cardio workouts per week the number on the scale is rising. I mean I know I am more than a number on the scale, but I herein lies the problem. I most definitely do not want to be more than a number on the scale, because that number is too bleeping high as is! I know, maybe my body is in shock over my decision to actually go to the gym, not just carry the membership card in the purse (which, if my calculations are correct, all by itself should yield about ½ lb weight loss in about 20 years), and just doesn't know how to react to that yet. Sigh…

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Isn't she lovely...

This is the birth story of my daughter, my first baby. It was never recorded anywhere, so I had to use those precious and hard to come by brain cells for this one. Anything to win! Actually at this point this entry might be disqualified from the contest because it is more than two hours past midnight, but I am determined to finally put it into writing, before I become old and senile and start making up details that never happened.

When pregnant with DD, I read a lot about pregnancies, but I would always omit the sections dealing with birth and labor. But there comes a time when one has to face the inevitable, i.e. they still haven't invented a way to get the baby out of you without you actually being there, so I decided to educate myself (if only a little bit) about labor and delivery. My resolve to finally stomach these chapters of What to Expect was partially fueled by a co-worker who kept on saying that I needed to know the signs of labor because water breaks first only in the movies, in real life it rarely happens.

For some time we went back and forth about doing the birthing class, but I was feeling very lousy at nights, so we decided against it. Instead, I bought a video from Lamaze discussing all the relevant things. (I was hoping it was relevant because the hairstyle were at least twenty years out of date.) I remember watching it religiously for the first hour, until they got to showing actual births. From that point I was watching with my legs tightly crossed and with fists tightly clutched. I think I looked like I was in more pain than the women delivering babies. The first woman in the video gave birth naturally and wasn’t so hard to watch, but then it was time for the C-Section. I was half-way though that and crying non-stop when my best friend, who happened to be a medical school graduate, called me. When she found out why I was bawling (I wasn’t able to stop when I picked up the phone), she told me to shut the thing off. I said, “But I have to be informed! I have to know what to expect! You are a medical professional, how can you say that?” To which she replied, “Don’t worry, they’ll tell you what to do.” I think I masochistically protested a few more times, but my usually very agreeable friend was very firm, and to this day (three and a half years later) I haven’t finished watching that video.

As if sensing my lack of education, many friends and well-wishers took it upon themselves to fill in the gaps. One of my friends was particularly vocal about episiotomies. In her words, “Episiotomy is the worst. I actually enjoyed labor, I did it all naturally adn labor was pure pleasure (to this day, I go - HUH??? are you sure they didn't give you drugs, legal or otherwise?), but after episiotomy I wasn’t able to walk for three months. Whatever you do, don’t get episiotomy. And this is the link to the website on how and why to avoid them.” I spent about half hour searching the site and reading testimonies, crying and clutching my chair all the time while I was there. My DH came home while I was in the process of getting educated, and I was asked very firmly not to go on that site or speak to that friend until I delivered the baby. Things like those happened left and right in my first pregnancy, which made me and my husband mad to no end, though my anger usually was expressed through uncontrollable stream of tears, crossing my legs and whimpering. I guess by the time I was preggers the second time, the well-wishers figured I was a pro and left me alone, or maybe I was less impressionable, but I don't remember the avalanche of the worst case scenarios that time around.

I decided to work until my due date because despite all the scientific literature to the contrary, the real life "experts" predicted that I would be overdue. (They also predicted I would have a boy.) Also, at thirty eight weeks the baby hadn't dropped yet, and in the first pregnancy What to Expect says you have at least four weeks (or something like this) after the baby drops until the actual delivery. So I was sure that I would be severely overdue, which was fine with me, I wasn't in a rush. One morning I made my usual 5.45 bathroom trip and returned to bed, just to wet it as soon as I lay down. Since it was a gush, I knew right away that my water broke. "But it only happens in the movies," I thought. Oh well, not only... I told DH, and it was the funniest thing in the world: he sprung up from deep sleep like a Jack in the Box and literally jumped out of bed!

I didn't really know what to do next, so I grabbed What to Expect, which said that I needed to call my doctor. "But it is only 6 a.m.," I thought. I read on, and the next sentence said to call the doc even in the middle of the night. "But he is still sleeping," I thought. I read on again, and the next sentence said not to worry about waking the doc up since they expect it. It was hilarious and felt as if I was having a conversation with the book! I still didn't call until 7 a.m. to be polite, but when I did, the doc told me he wanted to see me in the hospital within the hour. So with a towel between my legs (pads were no good any more) I was running around the house packing the bag just in case, which just twelve hours ago I was sure I had another two weeks to prepare. I also called work and said that I wasn't sure when I would come in that day because "the doctor wants to see me." I was actually planning to show up at work that day if the doctor let me go home! I know, you can say that, idiot in denial! (To my defense, the books actually say that it might take up to two days before water breaking and the actual delivery.) Long story short, we were at the hospital within two hours, but all was well except for the walking with a towel in the middle of a busy street.

After coming to the hospital, it finally hit me that I might not be going home, that I actually had to deliver that baby, in all likelihood very soon. It was a bit frightening and very, very humbling. I was admitted around 12, so much for showing up ASAP since they had an unusually busy night, and all the L&D rooms were either still taken or not clean yet. They administered pitocin and I was prepared to the do whole natural thing. The nurse came in and had to administer an IV, and DH asked her if he could have the rubber thingy they use to make a tourniquet. He for no apparent reason reverted to his childhood and remembered that back in Russia these rubber things were very hard to find and were used by kids to make slings. The nurse gave him the knowing look, opened a drawer, took out a bunch of them and asked if DH also needed disposable needles. Nice, the guy is about to have a baby and is being accused by a (what else?) Russian nurse of heavy drug use. Whatever...

The doctor came in a few times offering epidural, but I refused. Contractions were bad, but not terrible. When the doc showed up the third time around to offer the epidural yet again, I gave up and agreed, and I have no regrets. I called my mom, who I knew would not want to come until the baby was born, which was perfectly fine with me. Being uncomfortable with blood, pain and medical literature runs in the family. After the epidural, I called mom and she said that I sounded disgustingly happy, not the way a woman in labor should sound. She was used to the Russian sadistic way of delivering when women in labor would be put in a 16-person "screaming room" without drugs (and minimal medical attention at night) until they were ready to deliver. Periodically the nurse would show up and try to hush them saying things like "It cannot hurt so badly. You are not the first one to deliver. Get a grip of yourself, etc." So my giddiness and cheer was definitely not something she was expected.

Time was moving slowly, things weren't progressing as fast as the doctor expected, at 5 pm I was only at 4 cm. Then at seven my parents decided to come, a very pleasant surprise. Maybe it was their presence or a woman across the whole delivering, but around that time things started to pick up, and at 8 I was already at 8 cm. At that time a medial student came into my room and asked me if I would mind having her there during the delivery. I was very tempted to say no. For some time they had me in stirrups, and everyone entering the room, from the nurse's lunch buddy to the cleaning
personnel, felt entitled to peek "there." I think sometimes people, honestly some of them were in no way involved in my delivery, would come in just to do that, possibly out of boredom. I also had a volunteer doula that ordered DH around and did not get hints that she was not really wanted. They didn't let me drink or eat, and my throat was hurting very badly from the ice chips. So to top it all off, they wanted yet another person to be present during the delivery and have a peek down there? But before I said "No" I remembered my best friend, who is the nicest person in the world, complain to me that during her maternity rotation many patients would not want her in the room, and it was very hard to gain proper experience. So I agreed thinking that if she made me uncomfortable, I would just ask her to leave.

At 8.30 the doctor said that it was time to push. All of a sudden I got really, really scared. I even started crying out of fear. I really didn't want to push. Somehow I regained my control and started pushing. They were telling me I was doing it all wrong, pushing with my face. I told them I didn't feel anything down there, so how was I to know how to push. They were getting frustrated with me, I was getting very tired and frustrated too. That's when I really appreciated having the medical student there (I am really sorry for not remembering her name, I think it was Julie.) She was the most helpful person in the whole room. She would give me tips, pat my hand, smile and try to encourage.
Finally when I thought I could not do this any more because I was so exhausted, the doc said that I was just one good push away from delivering and started doing the dreaded episiotomy. I said that I didn't want it; he completely ignored me. To make matters worse, my epidural was wearing off, and I was starting to feel things down there. So as he was about to cut me, I screamed that I wasn't going to get cut without more painkillers. Somehow, that made an impact, they gave me more epidural, and he made the cut. After two or three pushes, since I wasn't able to produce a good one the first time around, at 9.35 p.m. my dear daughter was born. We didn't know we were having a girl, and it really was a surprise!

Then the good old doc started stitching me up and the student started asking him questions about the delivery, his specialty, if he was happy, etc, etc. This is what he told her. "When I started, we rarely had night births. We would just induce women when it was convenient. So if I knew that then or had to do it all over again, I would never go into obstetrics." Hello!!!! You are still stitching up your patient who JUST GAVE BIRTH! I protested and said that I really didn't care to know that the doctor who just delivered my baby didn't want to be there, to which he replied, "What? It's the truth."

When they gave her to me, I looked at my daughter and started to - yes, you guessed it - cry again, but this time because I was overwhelmed by the magic life and birth, by her beauty, by joy, content, happiness, relief that everything went well, by G-
d's generosity to entrust me with such a wonderful baby.

I cried a lot more during my stay in the hospital because of hormones, difficulty nursing, and my
DD's heart murmur. But that is a whole different story, which also ends well.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

It was two years ago today...well, almost

Ok, so I got sucked into another contest. I can't help myself, I am an addict... This one is from Michelle at My Semblance of Sanity who is now collecting the birth/adoption stories. The best story will get a prize... Since I already wrote this one on my pregnancy blog and only had to tweak it a bit, i.e. no thinking required, I decided to participate. My apologies to those who already read it...

This is the birth story of my DS, and it happened almost two years ago... Time flies..

Since my daughter was born 2 weeks early, I was ready to go into labor at approximately the same time, but at 38 weeks along, I was still working. I told my boss about four different times that "a day after tomorrow would be my last one because I can't take the commute any more" only to push it off by a few more days. Then I finally decided that my due date would be the last day at work. Everybody told me that I was crazy (well, no argument there), but what was I to do? My maternity leave was 10 weeks, so every day taken off before baby's birth meant that I would spend one day less with him after he was born. And I would rather spend as much time with him as I could afterwards. Plus, any housework was much more physically demanding than anything I did at work. My biggest fear was that I would go into labor on a subway, but what were the chances of that happening? I finally cleared my desk on my due date. I had ob/gyn appointment that night, and the doctor said that I was 2 cm dilated. He also jokingly added, "It's my turn to be on-call in the hospital, so I might see you tonight." Yeah, right.

I came home that night hoping for a couple of days of quality time with DD. Around 9 p.m. I got a call from Gevalia Coffee. They were desperate to get us back as customers, and the sales guy was describing me the beauty of the coffeemaker we would get if we signed back on. I actually wanted that coffemaker, and their coffee would probably come in handy after the baby's arrival to battle exhaustion. Nevertheless, I had to cut him off, and he asked when would be a good time to call back. I said, "I don't know, probably a couple of days or a week because my water just broke." I don't think he believed me, but I bet he never heard that excuse to hang up on him. I called my mom and asked her to come. (Being a strep-B positive, I had to go to the hospital immediately.) When we arrived, the first thing I asked my doctor was, "Couldn't you have said that you might "see me tonight" about two weeks ago?"

When I was about 6 months along, my OB's office signed up for the cord blood donation program. Since I wasn't planning to bank it, I decided to donate. The only thing was - you had to remember to bring in the kit b/c they could not collect the cord and the placenta without it. In addition, they have only a minute or so to collect it, so the kit has to be ready; otherwise, no donation. So I brought the kit. Hubby dropped me off in the admissions and then came back later with a couple of bags, but without a kit. He said he would get it once I was admitted into the labor room. I didn't think much of it since I wasn't yet in labor. By the time I got admitted into my own room and induced with a dose of pitocin strong enough to floor a horse, it was about 12. DH went to get the kit, but turned out the parking lot was closed from 12am to 6 am and NOBODY had the keys!!! Isn't that weird that the parking lot of a hospital would be closed, EVER??? Don't people get sick at all times of day and night? I really wanted to donate, but the doctor wasn't very reassuring and said he didn't know whether I would or wouldn't be done by 6.

This time around I decided I would tough it out and not get an epidural. Right after DD was born, DH was kind enough to show me what exactly they had inserted in my back. I don't think I was ever that mad at him in my life. After that I was more scared of that needle than of any pain and thought I would never get an epidural again, unless my life depended on it. That notion lasted until I got the first contraction, and DH quickly went looking for the anesthesiologist. When they came, I got even more scared. The guy refused to turn on the light; he said he was more comfortable with the lights off and moonlight was more than sufficient for what he had to do (ok, ok, there was a teeny lamp in the back of the room and some light was getting through the closed door from the hallway - so much more ressuaring than the moonlight, right?). Then the head of the department came to supervise the procedure, but instead turned his back to me and bent over to check on the equipment - and WOW. The entire thing was just surreal - I was sandwiched between Dracula and his boss' butt crack (and no, his boss was not young and gorgeous, not that I judge beauty by that body part anyway). All the while, Dracula was inserting something very long and scary into my spine and neither I nor his boss were quite sure that he could properly see what he was doing (no, the guy didn't turn the lights on even for his boss). I was whimpering and moaning during the entire procedure, not because I was in pain, but out of fear. It was over soon, though, and afterward - bliss and no pain.

In a few hours I drifted off to sleep. DH brought the donation kit at 6 a.m. Around 7 o'clock my OB's shift was over and he bid us farewell (he works in a group, so they are on-call only for twelve hours at a time). I was relieved in a way that he didn't have to be the one delivering the baby because he looked so tired. I ordered myself to sleep and then, around 9 o'clock, another doctor from the group came in and told me that I was ready to go. Unlike the last time, I didn't panick, at least not as much. The nurse asked me why I looked so surprised, after all I came here to have a baby. I told her, "I wanted the baby, I never said that I wanted to push." DH was nowhere to be found - he went out for coffee, but then suddenly reappered seconds before I started pushing. I was too busy to get mad. And then after about half an hour of pushing, I heard the doctor say, "It's a boy, it's a BIG boy!" He was surprised that I was told the baby would be average b/c the baby looked like a ten-pounder. Turned out he was only - lol - 9lbs 14oz! In the process of recording the data, they got the last name of my pediatrician wrong - instead of Vernov, they wrote down Vermin. It was a shame because she really is a nice lady and an awesome doctor.

One of my first phone calls was to my boss, and I told her that I would be late for work that day (it was only 9.30am). Poor woman was so exasperated with me, she said, "Wasn't yesterday your last day? Are you sure you want to do this?" Hehe...can't miss a chance to make a joke... Not to be outdone, she sent out the following email, which I only read a few weeks after delivery, "SubWife had a 10 pound baby boy, so she will be available to answer any work-related questions this afternoon. Feel free to call her on her cell phone." FYI, no one did, and if they did, she would probably bite their head off...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Gimme some washin'

Friday afternoon is the busiest time of the week for me. A lot of tasks and chores are crammed into that hour and a half between my coming home from work and shabbat, that is if I am so lucky to leave work early enough. Last Friday I come home to find DH grilling our Friday night meal - a wee bit too close to shabbat for my taste, but one cannot be to picky. I assess the situation and figure out what needs to be added to my "to do" list when hubs hits me with this request, "Hon, can you wash my feet?"

I stare at him with a mixture of shock and disbelief, seeing that he is completely serous. Hubs reads my stare slightly differently, thinking that I am annoyed at him for adding things to my already long "to do" list. He says, "I'll do it myself then, you are too busy." "You better do it yourself," I think as I am watching hubby go into the fridge and take out a package of chicken.

I think I genuinely scared hubby with my wild roar. Afer a brief explanation, we were both laughing out loud. (I still am, even when surrounded by people on the train.) You see, in Russian leg can be used to describe "leg" or "foot". When I thought my hubby was asking me to wash his feet, he actually requested me to prep chicken legs for grilling. And I thought that my Levite ancestry finally caught up with me...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Who wants to clean forever?

I just read an article on about the meaning of doing errands. I think the author's point was that it's not the errands that count, it's why we do errands: making sure everyone has food on the table, the house/material/mundane is in order so that spiritual life is not hampered by the disorganization, all kids are immunized and with straight teeth, etc, etc., i.e. all of this is spiritual, uplifting and extremely meaningful. It all sounds right (as it probably is), it all sounds so PC, it all sounds like something I believed in before getting married and would LOVE to believe in now...

Somehow these ideas never translated from my mind to my heart. I detest most housework, resent being in charge of all family projects, and absolutely hate being the one responsible for remembering appointments/birthdays/anniversaries/due dates/off days/no alternate side parking days. To add insult to the injury, the job is never-ending, and besides the obligatory, "Thank you, the dinner was good", the only times you get feedback is when someone doesn't have clean socks/a bill isn't paid on time/appointment is missed or conversely my nudging about not forgetting upcoming appointment becomes unbearable/toys are all over the floor/there is no more toilet paper in the house.

For someone who is goal, and not process-oriented, I find housework sheer torture. No matter how much energy is spent on cleaning /organizing /beautifying, there is always another plate to wash, another shirt to iron, another drawer that got out of hand. No matter how often the floor is scrubbed, it somehow manages to never be completely clean or stay clean for more than fifteen minutes (unless washed at 1 a.m.). And even though I was able to convince myself for the first couple of hundred times that these activities are adding to the family harmony, and not just done to avoid drowning in filth, after four years of doing them I fail to find them spiritual, uplifting or meaningful. If I could afford it, I would hire a cleaning lady/cook/personal assistant to do all of those instead of me and hubs (yes, he does help, a lot) and let them elevate their souls to the new spiritual heights by the means of bleach and soap. However, due to monetary constraints, I get stuck with those responsibilities and view them as necessary evil, not a stepping stone to perfecting self.

And it's not that I don't enjoy seeing my kids in clean, ironed clothes, or a sparkling kitchen doesn't uplift my spirits. It's just that the effort to get there is so big and the results are so short-lived, that I find the whole process highly depressing. Am I missing an opportunity to grow from pain because I don't look for meaning hard enough? Quite possible, but I can't dwell on it because I have to make dinner and start another load of laundry. True story, no exaggerations here...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Would you please, please, please pick up the phone?

I have been battling telemarketers for some time now. Putting your phone number on the Do Not Call Registry helps, but not with all of them. The worst are the ones from my credit card company offering the credit protection service that I repeatedly say I do not want. I had asked to be taken off the list, not to be disturbed, asked whether they offer protection from their harassing telemarketing techniques, etc. To no avail. At times they call me 3 times in one day, and if I don't pick up the phone the number of calls could go up to 5, no exaggeration. I think I will get rid of their credit card. Maybe that will help.

To date we have found several ways to deal with telemarketers. Hubs just wouldn't answer the phone if the number is not familiar. I give the phone to my daughter to deal with them; she has more patience than I do. Actually, I can't take credit for this one, it was hubs' idea. I probably won't be able to do this much longer, since one day she might take advantage of the situation and actually sign us up for New York Times or monthly Disney movies (only $29.99 plus shipping for club members!) for the next seven years. Honestly, most of the time I try to be patient and polite and pray that I never have to earn my living that way.

However, telemarketers recently came up with the new idea. You pick up the phone and get the computer voice asking you to hold on for an important message. Out of curiosity I had tried that once and was on hold for over 3 minutes! What a chutzpa, they are calling me trying to get my money and putting me on hold!

Anyways, there are a few telemarketers I rarely ignore or delegate to my kids. Those are from the cable companies. I always get a kick out of their reaction when they are trying to persuade me to get a better TV connection and I tell them that I don't have a TV to connect. One guy was so shocked he repeated his question three times: no TV? Yes, no TV and I truly recommend!

This is my absolutely favorite way to deal with telemarketers. I personally don't do it because I like using original material, but thought you might enjoy my all time favorite.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Just when I thought that the cult of Putin couldn't get any worse, Russians prove me wrong. They deserve him, they really do.

On the other hand, there's hope for us, perpetually late folks. Unlike all the books on career advancing and becoming organized, which would like us to believe that tardiness will inevitably lead you to poverty, public humiliation and agonizing death, here's the example of the always tardy guy making it to no less than the president of the largest (or second largest?) country in the world. Not bad. Then again, it might only be possible in Russia and probably only acceptable for a man. Nevertheless...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Would you like some anti-fungal cream with your order? It's only $8.99!

Since I joined the gym a few days ago, I needed some new gear. I decided to buy as little as possible because who knows how long this gym phase is going to last, and in the event of failure I'll be stuck with the exercise stuff and feel guilty for wasting money. I decided to do without new sweatpants and manage with existing though dwindling number of socks. (Where do they go at night? Why is it that I only have a total of three socks in my underwear drawer AND laundry basket even though I buy them regularly in multiple pairs?) The only thing I couldn't do without was a new pair of sneakers. So I went to the store and picked out the pair that seemed to satisfy my exercising and aesthetic needs. I was about to take them to the register when I realized that the soles were dark gray and someone else have obviously worn them.

I asked the sales associate if they had a different pair of these sneakers, but after a quick check she said they didn't. Then she tried to get helpful. She said, "If you want these sneakers, we have a cleaning service and for only 9.99 we can clean them for you. And you can also buy a special sneaker polish for about $5, so after the cleaning and polish, these sneakers will look like new."

Huh? I think my jaw dropped to the floor. What a chutzpah! Not only were they trying to sell me second hand shoes at the price of a new pair, but they also wanted me to pay additional $15 (before tax) to make them look presentable! I told the sales associate just that adding that I came to buy new shoes, not to get somebody else's Athlete's Foot. (Ok, fine, I only thought about saying the last part, I couldn't be that nasty to the girl.) Then she looked at me indignantly and said, "So what, you don't want them?" I thought I was perfectly clear. Without saying anything else to each other, the girl put the sneakers back to where I found them, and I left the store making a mental note to never ever buy shoes in stores with generous return policies.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Whole Lotta Flesh

Two weeks ago I was in the middle of a meeting with my boss, when I looked out the window and saw a half-finished 7-story ad on the side of a building. There it was, staring at me, completely uncovered mammary gland. I chastised myself for being so perverse and seeing things that weren't there, or where they? I stared at the half-finished picture for some time trying to think what else this could possibly be. On the one hand, this wasn't Europe so there was no way something like this would be allowed in the middle of Manhattan. On the other hand, it simply couldn't have been anything else.

I got my answer a week later when the ad was finally completed. I wasn't very far off - what I saw in my boss' window was an unfinished picture of a sumo restler traditionally wearing only his diaper-like clothes. Unlike women, he was not required to cover up his ample bosom.

What are they advertising? Hyundai, which is not even a Japanese brand. If sex sells, what are they trying to do here: sabotage? Does anyone find that attractive because as far as I am concerned only one word comes to mind (which is not technically a word) : eww.

Friday, February 8, 2008

10 things I learned from going to the gym

Yes, I have joined a gym... Today was my first time going there, I took a group class and these are the things I have learned (at least the ones I can put in print):

10. They lie. Blatantly. And assume you are completely stupid. When you consider joining, you will be told many, many things that differ from the actual contract. My favorite one? "You have to sign up today if you want the discount because today is the last day of the sale." Really? Then why is it called President's Day Sale? Why should it be over a week before President's Day? Also, they don't really expect you to come after you sign up because then you would see the 10 foot poster advertising the sale that is still miraculously going on after "the last day."

9. Russians already came. There's no hiding from them. They are everywhere, my gym included.

8. When I decided to join, I told myself, "Don't be embarrassed. There's always someone bigger than you." I was wrong.

7. I also thought there would be someone less coordinated. Wrong again.

6. When choosing the type of exercise, priority should be given to Kiegels. Apparently, exercise is also a form of "stress", not just laughing and sneezing.

5. I need to lose 50 pounds just to be able to keep up with the class.

4. Not being able to keep up with the instructor feels OK. Not so when I can't keep up with women in their 50s.

3. Remember #4? Triple that for the 7 month preggie who had more stamina than me. What was she doing there anyway? Shouldn't she be eating for two, not jumping for three? Did she come to embarrass people like me? Does she have Energizer batteries instead of a bun in her oven? Or was she unable to cancel even though pregnant, and came in out of spite to get her monies worth? Something to ponder about while I still can cancel.

2. What's with being located on top of Burger King and across from Starbucks? Thank G-d I keep kosher.

1. The most pleasant experience so far was my combination lock for the gym locker. I got it for my high school gym, haven't used it since, and thirteen years later still remember the combination!!! On the down side, why do I still have it???

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Mayhall for president!

Look what I found on the news!

There is a bill working its way through the Mississippi House of Representatives now that would require restaurants to refuse to serve patrons who are obese. The bill would require eateries to keep track of customers BMI's and have scales at the doors. The states Department of Health would be responsible for enforcing compliance, and would revoke business permits for those dining establishments that violated the legislation.

This bill was introduced by Representative W.T. Mayhall, JR. Though he doesn't think his legislation will actually pass, he is very serious about it. He is concerned about the "serious problem of obesity and what it is costing the Medicare system." You can read the full text of the bill at this link.

While some of us are agonizing over which candidate in the primaries is a lesser evil and a scumbag, there is an honest and caring man spending the taxpayers' money wisely and fighting real issues. Why fight poverty and worry about homeland security when there are so many fat people? I say we nominate this guy for president.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The magical mystery pain

January was a medically interesting month. First, I had vertigo a few times, then I woke up with the unexplained pain in my ribs, which was followed by a long and nasty cold; as a cherry on this sundae of medical events I woke up with a pain in my right middle finger, arguably the most important finger for anyone living in NYC. Maybe it was a message from my body: you treat me badly, here's what I have to show you... My own body cursing me out...

But back to the mysterious ribcage problem. I woke up one January Sunday with the pain, and either I was having a deja vu, or this had happened before. I decided to ignore it fairly sure that it would go away on its own like the last time, but on Monday it actually got worse to a point where I couldn't take deep breaths and started waddling (I am sure that waddling and clutching my stomach didn't help dissuade the pregnancy rumors already circulating at work). All of a sudden everyone had a theory to explain it. My favorite one was given by my male colleague who jokingly suggested that when asleep I was kicked in the ribs by my husband. Yes, I could barely contain myself because spousal abuse is soooo funny. I was tempted to say that unlike my colleague, my husband prefers kicking me when I am awake, so this way I can share all the juicy details with my girlfriends. I didn't say it because the male colleague was higher than me on the food chain, though honestly that rarely stopped me. My own best theory was that I got so fat, I crushed my own ribs in my sleep.

Putting the kids to bed on Monday was sheer agony (which it almost always is), accompanied by lots of screaming (also not unusual). Every time I stretched out my arm to put on a diaper or pj's, my side would get so painful that I simply couldn't hold the scream in. Kids actually felt bad for me and almost behaved like humans. When rolling in bed became more painful than giving birth (with an epidural, of course), I realized it might be time to see a doctor. Herein was the problem: I see a few good specialists, but I do not know of any good internist. The last one I knew left family medicine to specialize in something else. And his partner, Dr. L who always gave out antibiotics for good behavior the way pediatricians give out lollypops, was advertising a new service last time I visited his office - Botox injections! So I wasn't going to Dr. L just in case the theory about crushing ribs with my own weight was right. If I were to trust my intuition, he most likely mastered the art of liposuction by now and undoubtedly would recommend that to treat my problem. Unless, of course, I preferred the course of antibiotics.

I called a few doctors close to the office from my insurance list, but the earliest appointment I would be able to get was in a week. One office promised to squeeze me in in about month and a half. When I would tell them that I couldn't wait because of pain, they would all say one thing: go to the clinic or ER. Why didn't I think of it myself? Here's why: I would not set foot in either unless my life depended on it. And then I remembered that years ago I went to one highly recommended doctor to get my health exam and shots done for college, so I decided to call there. Since I technically was not a new patient, they could squeeze me in for an emergency visit the very next day!

The visit didn't go smoothly. Even though I was the only patient in the waiting room, I had to wait about an hour to be seen. The nurse, a 60-something Russian woman, who probably received her training in Gulag, refused to answer any questions and viewed them as personal insults. She also strongly believed that wearing gloves was for suckers and wouldn't wear them even for drawing blood. I wondered if she ever heard of HIV or thought that any normal Russian could just sleep off that pesky virus after a few shots of vodka. Then the doctor came in and told me that I had nothing to worry about. However, I was to get five different tests no later than the very next day and was to report to the emergency room immediately if I had any difficulty breathing. He reiterated that tests had to be done the very first thing next morning and the labs were to submit results by 3 p.m., just in case. When I asked what that "just in case" meant, he said "a possibility of blood clot in your lung." A-ha...

So I did just that, and got all tests done right away. At four I called the good doctor to get the results and was told that he would call me back. He didn't. He didn't call me back on Friday, and on Monday I found out that he was on vacation all next week. That made me wonder whether the urgency of obtaining tests was due to his taking a vacation and covering his behind, '"just in case," not having my best interests in mind. Finally, next Monday the receptionist called me back, after I left yet another message, to say that all tests came out normal, something I already knew because the pain went away on its own. Also, had I been dying, he probably would've called. I hope. Now the physical pain is being substituted by the financial - the bills for my lab co-pays ended up being over $200, and that's before x-rays and sono because those did't come in yet.

So after all the time and money spent on this mystery, I am not a step closer to knowing why I had that horrible pain. Maybe the doctor knows, but he wouldn't tell me.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Kindness of strangers

I have to say that although I find Americans nice and generous, New Yorkers are completely different story. I have experienced complete indifference many, many times while pregnant, when no one on a subway would give up their seat. Later on I found that people of New York have even less sympathy for a woman with a stroller, and a woman with a double stroller trying to get in or out of the store is more likely to elicit impatient grunts than help.

All of my negative views on New Yorkers changed today. Almost... I had to run several errands and took the kids with me. They behaved exceptionally well; their stroller, however, was giving me some trouble with the narrow doorways. For those of you who never had to open the door while trying to roll the stroller inside, the best strategy is to open or hold the door by leaning on it with you back and wheel the kids in backwards. There's a chance of bumping into someone while doing it because they still haven't figured out how to place an extra pair of eyes on the back of your head, but frankly choices in this situation are very limited. Unless someone offers to hold the door for you, which doesn't happen often.

Today's trip didn't promise to be very different. When I wheeled the kids into the liquor store, I got a few funny looks from passerbys. They read, "She should be reported to social services" or "I wish my parent would let me drink when I was three", but no offers of help. When inside, to my amazement, some customer actually cleared out a few boxes in a relatively secluded area to allow me to park the stroller. That NEVER happened before, NEVER. Then when I was leaving, someone else actually held the door for me. I got lucky, twice in one day! Maybe it had something to do with being in a liquor store. My faith in New Yorkers was slowly restoring.

Then we went to the bank (no help), then - to the bakery (also no help) where both kids got cupcakes for their good behavior and patience. And then we went to a candy/dry fruit store. That was the last and the most challenging stop because a) the store has two steps in front of it and the door has to be pulled, which created and extra inconvenience; b) we had to rush because hubby was waiting in a car, and c) I BROUGHT TWO SUGAR OBSESSSED TODDLERS TO A CANDY STORE. Surprisingly kids didn't create a scene. I quickly made my selections, paid, and started working out the exit strategy. I was leaning on the door with my back trying to figure out how to wheel down the stroller from the two steps when I felt someone holding the door for me.

OMG!!!! I couldn't believe it, third time this day. I make this errand trip about once a month, and I never was so lucky! While I was having these thoughts simultaneously trying to bring down the stroller and thanking that kind stranger, this great man grabbed my stroller and helped me carry it down the steps. I was so grateful and overwhelmed with his kindness to a total stranger! When the stroller was safely down, I no longer had to walk backwards and was finally able face that wonderful man - and a stranger he was not. It was my hubby who lost any hope of us ever getting out of the candy store. Truth be told he actually did come to help me.

So while my faith in the citizens of this city didn't improve greatly, I can at least count on one New Yorker to come to my rescue!