Monthly Archives: September 2012

Never wax your hoo-ha…

For women ONLY. 😉

I read this hilarious story a couple of weeks ago on Facebook. I don’t care if it’s true or not; to me, it sounded totally plausible…Many years ago, in fact, when I was a rather vain adolescent, I tried to wax my bikini area, and OUCH I still remember the blinding pain…And the result was pretty much the same as in this story. Needless to say, that was THE ONLY TIME I did anything that stoooopid (I use a razor now…).

Oh, and by the way, in case you’re wondering!, what you are about to read did NOT happen to me, and I did NOT write it, although my own waxing story is somewhat similar, if much less extreme… 😉

NEVER WAX YOUR HOO-HA

All hair removal methods have tricked women with their promises of easy, painless hair removal – The Epilady, scissors, razors, Nair and now…the wax. Read on…

My night began as any other normal weeknight. Come home, fix dinner, play with the kids.

I then had the thought that would ring painfully in my mind for the next few hours: ‘Maybe I should get the waxing kit from the medicine cabinet.’ So I headed to the site of my demise: the bathroom.

It was one of those ‘cold wax’ kits. No melting a clump of hot wax…you just rub the strips together in your hand, they get warm, you peel them apart and press them to your leg (or wherever else), and you pull the hair right off. No muss, no fuss. How hard can it be?

I mean, I’m not a genius, but I am mechanically inclined enough to figure this out. (YA THINK!?!) So I pull one of the thin strips out. It’s two strips facing each other and stuck together. Instead of rubbing them together, my genius kicks in, so I get out the hair dryer and heat it to 1000 degrees. (‘Cold wax,’ yeah…right!) I lay the strip across my thigh, hold the skin around it tight and pull.

It works!

OK, so it wasn’t the best feeling, but it wasn’t too bad. I can do this! Hair removal no longer eludes me! I am She-rah, fighter of all wayward body hair and maker of smooth skin Extraordinaire. With my next wax strip I move north. After checking on the kids, I sneak back into the bathroom for the ultimate hair fighting championship. I drop my panties and place one foot on the toilet…

Using the same procedure, I apply the wax strip across the right side of my bikini line, covering the right half of my hoo-ha and stretching down to the inside of my butt cheek (it was a long strip).

I inhale deeply and brace myself…RRRRIIIPPP!!!!

I’m blind!!! Blinded from pain!!!!….OH MY GAWD!!!!!!!!!

Vision returning, I notice that I’ve only managed to pull off half the strip.

CRAP!

Another deep breath and RIPP! Everything is spinning and spotted. I think I may pass out… I must stay conscious…I must stay conscious. Do I hear crashing drums??? Breathe, breathe…OK, back to normal.

I want to see my trophy: a wax-covered strip, the one that has caused me so much pain, with my hairy pelt sticking to it. I want to revel in the glory that is my triumph over body hair. I hold up the strip!

There’s no hair on it. Where is the hair??? WHERE IS THE WAX???

Slowly I ease my head down, foot still perched on the toilet. I see the hair. The hair that should be on the strip… it’s not! I touch….I am touching wax. I run my fingers over the most sensitive part of my body, which is now covered in cold wax and matted hair. Then I make the next BIG mistake… Remember my foot is still propped upon the toilet? So I put my foot down.

Sealed shut! My butt is sealed shut. Sealed shut! I penguin walk around the bathroom trying to figure out what to do and think to myself: ‘Please don’t let me get the urge to poop….my head may pop off!’

What can I do to melt the wax? Hot water!! Hot water melts wax!!! I’ll run the hottest water I can stand in the bathtub, get in, immerse the wax-covered bits, and the wax should melt, and I can gently wipe it off, right???

*WRONG!!!!!!!*

I get into the tub – the water is slightly hotter than that used to sterilize surgical equipment – and I sit down. Now, the only thing worse than having your nether regions glued together is having them glued together and then glued to the bottom of the tub…..in scalding hot water. Which, by the way, does not melt cold wax.

So, now I’m stuck to the bottom of the tub as though I had cemented myself to the porcelain!! God bless the man who had convinced me a few months ago to have a phone put in the bathroom!!!!! I call my friend, thinking surely she has waxed before and has some secret of how to get me undone. It’s a very good conversation starter.

‘So, my butt and hoo-ha are glued together to the bottom of the tub!’

There is a slight pause. She doesn’t know any secret tricks for removal but she does try to hide her laughter from me. She wants to know exactly where the wax is located, ‘Are we talking cheeks or hoo-ha?’ She’s laughing out loud by now…I can hear her. I give her the rundown, and she suggests I call the number on the side of the box. YEAH!!!!! Right!! I should be the joke of someone else’s night…

While we go through various solutions, I resort to trying to scrape the wax off with a razor. Nothing feels better than to have your girlie goodies covered in hot wax, glued shut, stuck to the tub in super hot water and then dry-shaving the sticky wax off!! By now the brain is not working, dignity has taken a major hike, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to need Post-Traumatic Stress counseling for this event.

My friend is still talking with me when I finally see my saving grace…..the lotion they give you to remove the excess wax. What do I really have to lose at this point? I rub some on and OH MY GOD!!! The scream probably woke the kids and scared the dickens out of my friend. It’s sooo painful, but I really don’t care.

IT WORKS!!

I get a hearty congratulation from my friend, and she hangs up. I successfully remove the remainder of the wax and then notice to my grief and despair….THE HAIR IS STILL THERE…….ALL OF IT!

So I recklessly shave it off. Heck, I’m numb by now. Nothing hurts. I could have amputated my own leg at this point.

Next week I’m going to try hair color……how bad can that turn out???

Glyphosate linked to increased risk of myeloma

I’ve been reading some bad news about Roundup lately*. And today I read a 2011 Huffington Post article that didn’t really surprise me, but…well, see for yourselves: http://goo.gl/JcLjC

In short, if you play golf OR use Roundup (made by that awful monster called Monsanto…hardly surprising…) to kill the weeds in your garden, I would suggest that you NOT go back to the golf course until you find out what sort of herbicide is used on it and/or, if you have any of the toxic crap in your house, dispose of it immmmmmmmediately. 

Quote from the article: “The agency also said it is looking at a study partly sponsored by the EPA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that found some users of glyphosate were observed to have a higher risk of multiple myeloma, a cancer affecting bone marrow, than people who never used the chemical. The two-fold increased risk was considered “non-significant” and EPA said the findings were preliminary and based on a small number of cases but it is still part of the review.”

The safest things to do: pull up your weeds by hand (I know, I know)…or spray a bit of vinegar on ’em (do make sure it’s a sunny but windless day…the wind could blow drops of vinegar onto your other plants and kill ’em all…)…

Or…

Simply…

Live with weeds…!!! 😉

*UPDATE: What’s happening in California with Proposition 37 sparked my interest in doing some research on Roundcrap, by the way. And that’s how I found out about the myeloma connection. Well, I just read an LA Times article showing that a majority of Californians, THANK GOODNESS!, are probably going to vote for this initiative to require food manufacturers and retailers to label fresh produce and processed foods that contain genetically engineered ingredientshttp://goo.gl/XBHts That’s excellent news. The potential costs of adding the labels (and so on) are NOT as crucial as knowing what’s inside the food we eat. Just my opinion, as usual! (Oh, and I got a different take on this news from a blog reader…have a look…hmmm)

The best cats in the world

Okayokayokay, yesyesyes, I’m totally biased, but I do think that my cats are the best cats that have ever walked the earth…the smartest, most beautiful…THE MOST…EVERYTHING! 😀

My cats do the darnedest cutest things, which would make them the most popular felines in the history of YouTube–if only I had a camera hanging around my neck at all times.

But the truth of the matter is: my camera is usually in another room when cuteness happens…

And cuteness happens all the time in our household. Whenever the kitties, especially that adorable nutcase called Pinga (everyone who meets her agrees that “there’s something really special about this little cat” and wants to adopt her…hah, over my dead body!), begin doing hilariously funny things, I rush off to grab my camera. 

By the time I get back and am ready to begin recording, however, all the cuteness has stopped. Suddenly. I find the cats sitting quietly exactly where I’d left them, casually licking their paws and looking up at me as if to say, “Hey, what’s your problem, Mom? I’ve got better things to do than wait for you…” (I can almost hear them thinking: licklicklick…ignore Mom…licklicklick…and especially ignore that blasted torture device hanging around her neck…absolutely no cute stuff until that thing is put away…)

(Mom sighs and gives up.)

In addition, Priscilla, Pinga and Peekaboo absolutely HATE the camera flash, so whenever I bring out the camera (even when there’s enough light, and I don’t need to use the flash…but of course they don’t know that…), they will immediately shut their beautiful eyes and stop all their cute doings.

It’s incredibly frustrating.

But there you go…

They are CATS, which is precisely why I love them. :)

Anyway, point is, in the past couple of days I’ve been taking a few photos of my cats to to cheer up my parents who are going through a bit of a tough spot right now. And this morning I thought, ah why not?, I’ll stick ’em on the blog, too. 

So here are my cats…OUR cats, I should say, since they are also Stefano’s cats:

1. Puzzola, 11 or 12 years old, drinking from the ceramic cat fountain (= the BEST cat purchase we’ve ever made); behind her head, impossible to see in this photo, is a lovely ceramic sphere containing a small motor that generates a little spout of water at the top (of the sphere)…they love it!

2. Piccolo, 9 years old, sitting on our dining room table (rumpled tablecloth…oops!) after lunch, gazing outside. He’s our only male kitty; he enjoys skyping with my parents and playing computer games or watching documentaries on TV. An amazingly intelligent cat, this one.

3. Priscilla, 7 years old, taking a cat nap in her favorite spot = the hammock on the cat tree, located between my desk and my study window. 

4. Peekaboo, 5 years old, playing in the attic and trying to look cool for the camera (see what I mean about the eyes shut tight and zero cuteness?)…

5. Pinga, 3 years old, on top of the cat tree. She’s usually on her back with her paws waving in the air and her head at an impossible angle…but of course here she turned over for the photo and wouldn’t turn back! 😉

Cats!!!!!!

 

 

Alone

On Saturday afternoon Stefano and I decided to go over to the Parco della Piana, where we do most of our local bird watching. When we arrived, there wasn’t even a rusty old bicycle in the parking lot. I mean, the place was completely deserted… 

Kingfisher, Parco della Piana, Florence, Italy. Sept 22 2012

We immediately commented: “well, this probably means that the kingfisher has gone somewhere else and there is nothing to see. Bummer.”

But the idea of having the whole place to ourselves was too appealing. So we parked, grabbed our cameras and traipsed over to our favorite hut, where we’d always spotted the elusive kingfisher.

After we’d spent a half hour watching the growing, not-so-little-anymore grebes squeak for food and paddle furiously after their exhausted parents (a very cute sight…but one we’ve seen and photographed many times…), Stefano decided to go to one of the other huts. I stayed behind…ever hopeful of catching a glimpse of our little blue friend…

About 15 minutes later, an out-of-breath Stefano rushed into the hut, exclaiming: “Margaret, run! He’s over at the other hut!”

We ran. 

And there he was.

Perched conveniently on a branch right in front of us…just a few meters away. An unbelieeeeeevable stroke of luck. Of the one hundred thousand million photos I took, this is perhaps my favorite, even though you can’t see the very end of the kingfisher’s tail, hidden under the branch. The little guy had just swallowed a shrimp, which explains why his beak is slightly ajar…(Silly me, I could have shot some video, too, duuuuh…oh well, next time!)

Anyway, these are definitely the benefits of being ALONE in a bird reserve…rather than surrounded by a bunch of guys (yeah, why am I usually the only woman there? Puzzling!) boasting LOUDLY about their big expensive camera lenses (= drives me crazy)… 😉

P.S. For obvious reasons, I wasn’t going to mention which type of camera I use, but more than a few people have been asking about it, so…well…why not? It’s a Canon Powershot SX30IS. 

Curcumin, CDs and gemcitabine shrink lung cancer in mice…

Busy days…lots going on…And my boss is coming over for dinner so I don’t have much time right now. But I did want to post a couple of things, quickly. This afternoon I came across a newly published Belgian study  (abstract: http://goo.gl/q8b6p) that I found particularly interesting because the researchers used cyclodextrins, or CDs (but not of the sort that you listen to… 😉 ) to improve the bioavailability of curcumin. Aha.

In a nutshell, these guys combined curcumin with CDs and managed to reduce, REDUCE!!!, the size of advanced lung tumors in a bunch of mice. The curcumin cocktail did even better: it ENHANCED the antitumor effects of the chemo drug gemcitabine. Here’s a not-too-technical summary that contains a bit more not-too-technical information: http://goo.gl/MWZxK

Hey, give me some of those CDs! :) By the way, CDs are produced from starch and, from what I gather, they are sugar molecules. I’ll have to look into this more carefully when I have a bit more time. And, bloody hell, I really should have taken a biology course in college… 😉

And here are a couple of news items that might also be of interest…

1. Drinking tea may help prevent chronic illness: http://goo.gl/eKCTD An excerpt: Green tea in particular may help reduce the risk for fractures and improve bone mass. Very interesting article…Check it out.

2. On September 19 2012 the Food and Chemical Toxicology Journal in New York published the findings of the first-ever long-term peer-reviewed feed trial. It explored the long-term health impact of consuming genetically modified corn and the world’s most popular weedkiller, Roundup:  http://goo.gl/PMdjh This link will take you to a 2.5 minute video…very short, that is. Upshot: after groups of male and female rats were fed genetically modified toxic crappy corn, they developed tumors. Quelle surprise! (NOT!) In fact, up to 80% of the female rats had breast cancer by the end of the trial.

Scary stuff. Okay, time to go clean up the kitchen and start cooking…Take care, everyone! :)

Paparazzi!

No, this post isn’t about the Duchess of Cambridge 😉 It’s on a compleeeeeetely different topic, actually. But the amount of excitement was duchess-level high, I kid you not. I got caught up in it, too. Yesterday, you see, the bird watching huts at the Parco della Piana (where Stefano and I do most of our bird watching) were filled to capacity with paparazzi directing their powerful lenses and expensive camera equipment towards the bird of the day: a beautiful but rather shy and difficult-to-spot kingfisher…

Every time there was the slightest flutter of tiny blue wings on the other side of the lake, the “machine guns” would go off…I found it quite amusing…

You see, as usual, I was the only one there with one of those compact, no-nonsense, no-extra-heavy/bulky-lenses-to-carry-around, no-frills compact cameras. Mind you, it’s a really GOOD camera with a powerful zoom (extending up to 840 mm), but of course my photos don’t have the quality that, e.g., Stefano’s do. 

I don’t care. I take photos mostly to remember the moment…They don’t have to be good enough to be published in the National Geographic. And yesterday one of the heavily-equipped photographers was actually taken aback when he saw my photos. “Davvero buone,” he told me (= very good). 

The elusive kingfisher finally stopped fishing and sought refuge among the reeds. He was quite far from us…so my camera couldn’t do any better than this…Too bad the gorgeous bird didn’t come a bit closer to us…

Perhaps next time.

There’s always hope!!!

More or…less?

Interesting debate going on in one of the Facebook support groups of which I am a member. Actually, there are a lot of interesting debates in this period…This particular one just happens to be my choice of the day…

In a nutshell, some group members wrote that the more they read about myeloma, the more they freaked out, even to the point of having panic attacks.

For me (and for other group members), it was the exact opposite: the less I knew, the more I was worried.

Between 1999 (when I was diagnosed with MGUS) and 2005 (when I was diagnosed with SMM), I didn’t know beans about any of this stuff. Well, that’s not entirely true…I had collected a few scattered “beans.” I simply didn’t know what to do with them. 😉

Now, of course, I know A LOT about myeloma and a bunch of other related stuff, too…Yet I am much calmer and happier and serene than I was years ago. I think the reason is that I feel more in control. And I have also decided to enjoy my life as much as possible. 

And now, every time I read one of those terrible statistics about myeloma, I think of Harvard Prof. Stephen Jay Gould’s essay, “The Median isn’t the Message.” I firmly believe it’s worth re-reading from time to time: http://goo.gl/Bq2XC

Oh dear…As usual, I digress! Let’s get back to the point now, to my question of the day:

Is it better to KNOW or…NOT to know…or to know LESS? 

Just curious. 

P.S. I wanted to add that I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The translation I’ve been sweating over for the past few weeks (seems like decades) has taken up a lot of my time and energy, but today I can safely say that I’m nearly done with the final editing. I hope to hand in the whole shebang by the middle of next week, before my deadline, that is. Then I can get back to my regular life…research…writing…paying more attention to my cats…

Can’t wait!

Another smoldering myeloma story

It’s titled: “Coping with Uncertainty.” Ah yes, I know something about uncertainty…As many of you do, too, eh…

This is the story of Dr. Denise Nagel, diagnosed with smoldering myeloma in January of 2008. It was published in the “Huffington Post” in late July: http://goo.gl/x7lvg How did I miss it??? Well, better late than never, right?

A couple of things reminded of one of my main pet peeves = doctors who shouldn’t have been allowed to become doctors in the first place. Let me illustrate my point with this particular remark, made by one of her doctors, a surgeon: “You know, if I had to deal with this all day, I would kill myself.” 

Doctors need more than just medical training. In fact, before they are even admitted to Medical school, I suggest that they be screened for kindness. Yes, for kindness. If you’re not a kind person, then, oh gee sorry, you have to choose another career.

People without empathy should not be allowed anywhere near patients…

And here is another interesting article written by Denise and published a few days later: http://goo.gl/WxaH7 Lots of good advice in it, including this: “Numbers matter, but they’re not everything.” Indeed, that’s what I have been saying for years…

And, of course: “Enjoy life more and don’t wait.” :)

The rescue dogs of 9/11

Another anniversary.

So many years have passed, yet I still remember the horror and despair I felt when I turned on the TV here in Florence, Italy, and watched the live broadcast. I watched the towers crumble. I saw everything. And, after 11 years, tears are still running down my cheeks, as I write this post…

Well, I read a story just now, about the 9/11 rescue dogs (and their owners). A story I didn’t know about, so I thought I’d post it: http://goo.gl/FXbwf