Friday, March 24, 2017

I Genetically Can't Even*

So I got the results of my DNA testing several weeks ago and am still going through it all.  The test we chose, 23AndMe, allows you to upload your information to another site, Promethease, which takes the info and breaks it down to provide medical information.

Promethease is an excellent way of getting more out of your digitized genetic data by exploring the genetic variants that you possess. Given that 23andMe and AncestryDNA only discuss a fraction of the variants they test for, Promethease - which only costs $5 - is a tool to learn more about yourself using the data you already purchased from the other sites. So if you have purchased your own genome sequence information, Promethease is an absolute must.

Like I said, I'm still learning a lot about my genes and chromosomes.  For example, I learned that I am 7x more likely to be bald.  I didn't need science to tell me that.  That, or that I am 2.5x likely to have coronary artery disease.  The year 2005 will back me up on that.  

However, one thing I just learned is that there is a reason for my lack of empathy:



So if the oxytocin receptor is ideal at (G;G), and (A;G) demonstrates a lack of empathy, then how do you think my (A;A) translates?  I tell you how - I could care less.  And it's not my fault.  It explains why I find it difficult to comfort people and feel disingenuine when attempting to do so.  I'm too busy looking at the facts to understand how someone landed in that situation.  Doesn't mean I'm not helpful in a crisis; I prefer to take on a task rather than offer emotional support.


*Thanks to Brent for coming up with the title of this post.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sinus Surgery 3.0 Scheduled

Maybe I should just start a blog completely devoted to my sinus problems.

When last we left off, I had pretty much exhausted every avenue:

I went to an ENT at Northwestern Medical Center who, after essentially two surgeries, was certain my problems were dental and instructed me to see a dentist, basically washing his hands to the matter.

I went to a dentist who performed a major amount of work in a 6-week period.  The dentist believed that my problem would be fixed by having a tooth extracted by an oral surgeon.

I went to an oral surgeon who extracted 3 teeth under anesthesia but said he found nothing of concern during the surgery.

And yet my sinus problems persisted.  So I asked my regular doctor to recommend someone for me, and he sent me to a sinus specialist at the Chicago Nasal & Sinus Center.  My visit was earlier this week.  And all it took was an updated CT scan to see what my problems were/are.  Below is the CT scan:


Let me point out here that the black areas are air, white is bone, gray is tissue.  Notice the difference between the nasal (ethmoid) sinuses on the left side of my nose as opposed to the ethmoid on the right side.  See the clear airway on my right side (your left)?  Compare it to the other side.  Not much black on that side, right?  And check the two cheek sinus cavities, the maxillaries.  My left maxillary (your right) is much smaller and is either clogging up again or it all wasn't removed by the first ENT last summer.  And how about that deviated septum?

REALLY makes me wonder what the ENT at Northwestern actually did during the two previous surgeries.

What you can't see in the image above are the cavities above the eye, the frontal sinuses.  My right frontal is completely black while my left frontal is completely gray, which means it's clogged.  You might remember that my first ENT chose not to drain that one because he said there was a kink in the drainage vessel from that area.  So that cavity didn't drain at all, which is what's been causing my headaches since last July.  However, my recent CT scan shows that the drainage vessel is a straight show with no bend, kink or zigzag to it.

Here's another view of my sinuses.  This one is as if you are looking up through my head from under my chin - a "from the neck" view:


It's not hard to see how clogged up I am on my left side (your right).  The ENT at Northwestern essentially sent me to have a few thousand dollars worth of dental work.  Admittedly, I needed to have it done anyway, but I would have spaced it out over several months or even a year rather than have it ALL done in 6 weeks.  I rushed through to fix a problem that doesn't exist at financial and a great deal of emotional cost.

So now, I have another surgery scheduled for April 21st with the Nasal & Sinus Center.  And I'll admit that after leaving that office, I felt hope for the first time.  I really trust that these folks know what they're doing and are dedicated to fixing my face.

And all just in time for me to run a 5K with my sister-in-law.  I hope.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Refinishing The Past

My mom had this old piece of furniture that I always loved.  It was made by my late uncle, Bill, married to Mom's sister, Kay.  I can remember the piece of furniture from my childhood as the cabinet that held our record player and records.  It was stained dark brown and had two grooved sliding doors on the front.  The doors as I remember them were white, but Mom said they were originally orange.  Dark brown and orange - just screams the late 60's, don't it?

At one point, I think we all had used it as we one-by-one moved away from home.  I had taken it to college with me to use as a TV stand.  I returned it to Mom afterward and over the years it kind of disappeared.  Then one day a few months ago, I was searching for something in Dad's workshop and there it was, buried in a corner.  I asked Mom for it and she gave it to me with her blessing.  I drove it back to Chicago and decided to give it new life.

As we all know, Kevin is the "king of renovation" in our house.  And he's pretty much amazing at it. I take on a challenge now and then, like recovering the chaise my Aunt Susie had given me.  It seemed daunting but in the end turned out to be quite simple; it was mostly just pulling/tucking/stapling fabric into place.  And the chaise meant something to me because it had belonged to someone I love.


I'd never refinished a piece of furniture before, so I gave it a whirl.  And again, I chose to work on a piece that belonged to someone I love.  Built by my uncle and used by my Mom.  And like the chaise, this was a memorable piece of furniture from my childhood.  So I mustered up the courage.

Of course, now - after three coats of polyurethane - I can see how I could have done a better job.  Not having much experience with a hand-sander, I was admittedly nervous about handling it.  But I got the hang of it and now wish I would have taken more time.  I even used the table saw in Kevin's absence to cut out the sliding doors and a replacement for the missing back panel on the unit. Perhaps on the next piece, I'll know better what to do.  We all start somewhere, right?



Kevin is proud of me for taking this on and is encouraging me to do more.  He'd like to see more projects in the home by me so that it's not completely filled with stuff he's done or that we've done together.  I mean, I know my limitations, but I can definitely take on smaller projects and continue to leave the big things to him.

I think I might macrame a few plant hangers next.

Monday, March 06, 2017

More House Updates

A few weeks ago, I wrote about our new bathroom, the housing update project that took us the better part of last year to complete.  A labor of love, to be certain.  But every now and then I walk into it and think, just for a split second, that we built this from nothing.  And then I clean the toilet.

THE LAUNDRY ROOM

But you know us, so you know this was not the ONLY project we took on.  Along with building out the new bathroom was the project of converting the old one into a laundry room.  The old bathroom was crazy.  It was primarily a wet room which meant it was fine (with the previous owner) if everything got wet.  Not so us.  The entire room was tiled:  there was a matte black tile on the floor and vanity, and an unpatterned tile of white, gray, green and orange 1-inch tiles on all 4 walls (these were individual tiles, not 12"-square pieces).

BEFORES

The room was barely functional as a bathroom.  It didn't make sense.  At one point we originally thought we would expand the room from its 5'x5' floor plan, but since it sits right next to what was then the 10'x10' laundry/storage space, we chose to just switch the rooms.  So while we were demolishing the walls in the laundry room, we took down these walls too.

We found a few things behind these walls - some expected and some not.  The expected items included mold and lack of insulation.  The unexpected included another row of glass brick in the windows.  Why would anyone cover up a window?

So the crap came down and we put up new drywall.  Since the new laundry room and new bathroom are below grade, we installed a pump to surge water to the main and prevent any backups.  Kevin built a table so we could stack the washer and dryer, and then made a storage cabinet that fit into the open space (and also hides the pipes from the pump).

 

THE DEN

This room didn't make sense (even less sense than the tiny "cruise ship bathroom" we'd just renovated).  It's located on the lower level with the two bedrooms, a laundry room, and a master bath.  You pass through the den to get to everything else.  When we moved in, it had a busted concrete floor and a kitchenette with a small sink and mini-fridge, which seemed odd given that the kitchen was just above this room.

The first thing we did was get rid of the flat green paint on the wall.  This color was throughout the house when we moved in.  I like white walls, so I repainted the walls and ceiling  We carpeted the entire floor, including into both bedrooms and the new laundry room.  The room sat this way for a while as kind of a staging area during the bathroom renovation.  But once completed, we knew what we wanted. We then ripped out the cabinetry and moved it to the garage, which is now Kevin's workshop, more or less.

Since the downstairs is several degrees cooler than the upstairs, we decided to make this a den with a loveseat and TV so we could hang out here in the warmer months.  But we also needed storage for crafting supplies, electronic stuff, Kevin's sewing machine and material, etc. We knew we wanted some kind of storage system, but it had to be unique.

So Kevin created a cabinet system of different sized boxes - most of which would be covered with cabinet doors.  And since we were using 3/4" plywood, the math became pretty tricky.  It's a good thing Kevin is borderline genius.  He figured out the spacing of each box and cut the wood according to his calculations.  After which, it all went together like a 3-D puzzle.

After the grid was installed, we put doors on all but 4 of the boxes.  Everything is contained in plastic bins, labeled of course.  We now have storage space for all our art supplies, sewing stuff, material, electronic things, electrical stuff like extension cords and light bulbs.  There's even a special place for Kevin's sewing machine.
The storage cabinet that used to hang above the old cabinet/sink was moved to the wall opposite the loveseat and our 2nd TV sits on it, ready for summer.  And there is a work table that slides in under the cabinet when not in use.  And the sheet Kevin created when he proposed to me is now hanging on one of the walls.  Below are a few Before/After shots:





THE LANDING

So this little area was the last thing for us to improve in the house.  The only thing we knew for sure was that we wanted to replace the ugly louvered door to the furnace/water heater utility room.  The door ended up getting beaten to death by the guys who had to come in to move the dryer's  gas line.  Kevin removed the wooden slats and replaced them with a thick screen until we were ready to tackle this space.  Because the utility room requires ventilation, Kevin created a door with sunken panels to allow air to flow in and around.  It's a much classier look.


We had waffled about using leftover bathroom tile to put on the floor, but ended up repouring concrete to smooth out the surface.  We took down the ugly roman shade on the door and used the same frosting paper on the door windows that we used on the new bathroom window.  And then we repainted the walls and the door.  It looks so much cleaner.

On the landing is a cut-out space that we have no idea of its intended purpose.  We've been placing dirty or wet shoes in the cubby but we were underutilizing the area.  So we added shelved and Kevin built doors that match the cabinet, only painting them white this time.  Now we have a place to store paint so it won't freeze in the garage during winter.

The final steps in our home renovation were, quite literally, the steps.  Kevin built out frames to square off the steps, poured concrete on the step and then we covered the step and risers with carpet.



And so now, the inside of the house is pretty much finished as far as planned renovations go.  And we're just under the 2-year mark; March 16th will mark 2 years in this house.  And now that all the big projects are done, we will begin working on the smaller things.

I'll update you on those eventually too.


Friday, March 03, 2017

Dental/Sinus Update

Because you've been on pins and needles since January 7th, my last post regarding my sinus/teeth/gum problem, here is the latest update which will bring you up to speed.  Get the popcorn ready.

When we last left off, I had just completed Visit #3 at the dentist.  I will say here that this is where I admire my own fortitude.  In my life, when presented with an uncomfortable situation, I've been great at pulling up my bootstraps and diving back in.  So Visit #4, which took all my guts to schedule, took place 4 days following Visit #3.  Even my dentist called me, "one tough cookie". I'll take it.

Visit #3 was followed by 2 more visits to the dentist, the final one being the installation of the permanent cap on the root canal tooth.  It took a day or so to get used to it, but it's never really felt comfortable.  I waited a month for swelling to go down and for me to get used to it, but so far it's still painful.  So now I need to schedule another dentist visit to have it adjusted.

After the 5 dentist visits came a trip to an oral surgeon.  This was facilitated by the dentist because he saw a dark spot on/in my gums which he believed to be a cyst and not a tooth root, as the ENT had originally predicted.  So for about a week, I walked around in a daze thinking the worst, like that I have cancer in my mouth.  Years ago, I dated someone who had cancer in his sinuses and had to have the roof of his mouth removed.  He wore an oral prosthetic.  Certainly, medicine had progressed and advanced to a state that I might not need that same procedure, but the reality of it loomed large for several days.  It was all I could think about.

The visit to the oral surgeon allayed my fears.  Following surgery (for which I was knocked out), he told me he didn't see anything in my gums that required attention.  He did remove an infected tooth that he hoped would cause whatever infection might be in there to simply dissipate.  And then I thought, "wait, both the ENT and the dentist saw something even if the oral surgeon didn't.  So what is it?"  And so I started worrying again.

If you're keeping track, here is what has happened so far, since June 1, 2016

· 4 visits to an ENT, resulting in
o   1 CT scan
o   2 sinus surgeries
>  1 under anesthesia
>  1 quite wide awake
o   2 emotional breakdowns
o   7 rounds of anti-biotics 
o   4 rounds of steroids 

· 7 visits to the dentist within 5 weeks, resulting in
o   13 fillings
o   6 extractions under nitrous oxide
o   1 root canal
o   1 more emotional breakdown

· 1 visit to an oral surgeon, resulting in
o   3 more extractions under anesthesia
o   1 more round of antibiotics

· 0 resolution to my sinus issues

That's right, ZERO resolution.  My sinuses are just as stuffy and uncomfortable as they were last summer.  So now it's back to the ENT again, only this time I've asked my GP to recommend someone else, as I figure my previous ENT did everything he knew to do and sent me to the dentist in the first place because he couldn't do anything else.  This time, I am going to a doctor whose only gig is sinuses.

Not included in the list above are the many events, trips, vacations, parties, etc that I've missed since this whole thing started 10 months ago, simply because I either didn't feel well or expected I would otherwise be bad company.  I refuse to have another bad summer.  So my hopes now rest on this new doctor that I am supposed to see on March 20th.

Again, I acknowledge my beloved husband through all of this.  He's simply the best (cue music).