PAgent’s Progress

Words Are My Favorite Toys

July 6th, 2006

The Joys of Mucking with Neurochemistry

It’s been quite a while since I mentioned the girl, which might lead you to believe all has been tranquil at the Agent household. You would of course be wrong. A while back we started her on a daily dose of citalopram, an SSRI sold under the brand name Celexa. It’s apparently related to Lexapro, which has worked well for me.

As with other SSRIs, you need to phase the medication in, and we watched the girl with an eagle eye. It’s nerve-wracking. Every little quirk or incident, you ask yourself “Is it the meds?” “Am I seeing any improvement?” and most importantly, “Am I seeing any indications that she’s going to slit her wrists and/or murder us in our sleep?”

After a week or so, she started taking a full dose. After a while, certain changes in her behavior became obvious, and had lasted long enough to be attributed to the medication.

First, she was happy. Cheerful, even. She didn’t stomp off to her room and slam the door, she didn’t sulk for hours on end when she didn’t get her way. She was, dare I say it, agreeable. She even seemed to be going to sleep better, which had always been a struggle. So, one point for pharmaceuticals.

On the other hand, the teeny-tiny amount of self-control that she DID have was utterly, utterly gone. If a thought crossed her mind, she blurted it out. If she wanted to do something, she did it. She wasn’t necessarily hyperactive, in the traditional sense, but she was going full on, all the time, with no consideration of possible consequences. It was exhausting. For example:

Girl: “Can I watch TV?”

Mom: “No, you watched quite a bit this morning. You don’t need to watch TV again this afternoon.”

Girl: “Then can I go outside and ride my bike?”

Mom: “I’d like you to pick up the living room first.”

Girl: “Then can I watch TV?”

Mom: “I just told you I didn’t want you watching TV! Just for that, you’ve lost TV for tomorrow.”

Girl: “OK”

Mom: “Are all your dirty clothes in our bedroom?”

Girl: “No. Mom?”

Mom: “Yes?”

Girl: “Once I get my dirty clothes in your room, can I watch TV?”

(Mom’s head explodes)

She was agreeable, pleasant, happy, and completely infuriating. After a week or so of this, my wife was ready to ship her off to Uzbekistan. After a consultation with the nurse practitioner, we cut her medication dosage by half. After she accommodated to the new dosage, we noticed a difference in her behavior. She started to lose her temper a bit more, and even sulk a bit, but she still snapped out of it much more quickly than she used to. Most importantly, the manic activity and logorrhea had died down substantially.

We’ve had a couple of strange incidents, for example a couple of times when she was up and walking around after bedtime, acting oddly, only to have no memory of it the next day. It’s hard to say whether or not it’s tied to her brain chemistry, or for example a movie she watched that day.

Most importantly, at least for me, is that even though we can see the differences in her behavior, she insists she feels no differently. As far as she is concerned, taking her pill every day has had no effect at all. In fact, when we try to explain the differences that we have observed, she gives us a rather suspicious look.

However, as a reminder that not everything can be solved with little white pills, we found more evidence in her room that she’s been stealing food again, and recently. She takes it from the pantry, and hides it in her bedroom. This is on top of finding out near the end of the school year that she had been getting breakfast at school — after having breakfast at home — and that she had been doing it since October. The wife got a record from the school and calculated that the girl had charged about $80 in extra breakfasts over the school year. $80 dollars that she will be reimbursing us, with some nominal interest charge. So, food clearly remains an important issue to be addressed.

So, those have been the latest scenic viewpoints on the road trip that is parenthood. It didn’t look like this on the map.

July 3rd, 2006

Clearcutting the Facial Foliage

I grew a mustache my sophomore year in college. If you would like to know why, I think I can explain it most easily by simply telling you that my mother despised all forms of facial hair. That, and I had an older brother that wore a mustache who I thought was the walking embodiment of cool.

Once I had a mustache, I kept it all through college and into graduate school. It was perhaps not the greatest personal style choice I could have made, but I stuck with it. Here’s an example of what PAgent looked like circa 1986:

Stop laughing! This was the eighties! LOTS of people wore bandanas around their necks! And Chuck Taylor high tops will ALWAYS be cool.

Ahem. Once I went to grad school, I started growing a beard every winter. I did this because Illinois gets freaking cold in the winter, and I needed all the insulation I could get (as an aside, a thick beard actually keeps your face remarkably warm, even in a nasty wind chill). I would generally shave off the beard in the spring, keeping the mustache, and regrow the beard every fall. That was my habit for many years, even after I returned to the Northwest.

Until, that is, my wife delicately informed me that she really preferred the way I looked in the beard. With just a mustache, not so much. Well, that seemed to be a pretty good reason to leave it on during the summer, so I quit shaving the beard off.

Well, now I’ve had a couple of kids who have almost never seen me with a bare face. And (I recently realized) my wife of 14 years has never seen me without a mustache. So on a whim I shaved off all my facial hair this evening.

It’s been entertaining, getting double-takes from my family all night. Bless her heart, my wife’s comment was “You look better without any facial hair than you do with a mustache and no beard.” Uh, thanks?

I’ve even given myself a double-take or two when I passed a mirror. It’s a toss-up whether that stranger looking back at me looks more like my father or my older brother, but the resemblance is much, much stronger than it is when I have the beard.

Now that I’m clean-shaven, I will immediately regrow my beard. I hate shaving every day, for one thing. Then there’s the pesky preferences of my spouse. For some reason, I want my wife to approve of my appearance, and that means a beard. And it will be nice when my kids quit looking at me funny out of the corners of their eyes.

For those of you that also loved Chuck Taylor’s All-Stars, but are concerned with Converse being owned by Nike, check out No-Sweat, which makes some pretty cool versions of the basic high-top basketball shoe, with the guarantee that no sweatshop labor is used. If you buy a pair, let me know how you like them.

June 24th, 2006

Need a Map for that Guilt Trip?

It’s a beautiful, sunny Saturday. There is actually a heat advisory in place for the area, as the temperature is supposed to hit 95 today. It’s actually forecast to be near 100 on Monday. Wow.

After the week we just had, the plan was to have a quiet, relaxing Saturday. Particularly as the wife woke up with a headache this morning. So, once the girl child was kicked out of bed, and the boy child was fed breakfast, I rather benevolently gave them the plans for the day:

“OK, we’re going to take it easy today. If you go outside, make sure you put on sunscreen. I’m going to work on the kitchen for a while, because it’s a disaster area. It would be nice if you guys could spend some time cleaning up your rooms. Other than that, I’m going to work on my bike a bit and go for a ride.”

The girl’s eyes light up.

“I’m going for a LONG ride. By myself.”

At this, her expression changes to one of sullen resentment, and she glares at me.


“Every time you get a chance to ride your bike you always ride by yourself! You never take us for bike rides!”

This is absolutely true. But you should know that this is the first time I’ve had a chance to do ANY riding, other than commuting to work, in a couple of months. Also, remember that this is the child that sprained her ankle this week, and so should not be pedalling anything for a while yet.

Although I routinely abandon my own needs and desires in favor of my children’s happiness (no, really, I do) in lots of ways large and small, this nevertheless triggers an instantaneous guilt trip. And resentment.

After all, I don’t ask for much. I want to be able to play my video games without them yelling advice in my ear, and I want to be able to go for the occasional bike ride. On roads. At speeds greater than 9 mph.

Also, I need to be doing these bike rides. I need to be pushing my endurance up and improving my conditioning. And I simply don’t get much aerobic workout keeping pace with my kids on the bike path. Going on long rides improves my health, improves my mental outlook, and in turn improves their lives in ways they can’t really grasp just yet.

So why do I still feel so guilty?

June 21st, 2006

Into The Woods

My wife does not like beer. She does not like wine. She likes rum and coke on certain occasions, and Colorado Bulldogs when she has had a hard day. However she is constitutionally unable to spend large chunks of time in a fuzzy drunken haze.

So, unlike many mothers, my wife has to actually deal with our children during summer vacation.

This week, that meant signing them up for Girl Scout day camp. Before y’all point out that my son hardly qualifies for Girl Scouts, I should hasten to add that they have programs for younger siblings. My wife signed up as an adult volunteer as well. However if this strategy was intended to reduce the wife’s workload, it has failed miserably.

For one thing, they all have to get up earlier than they did during the school year. When they get home, shortly before dinner, they are strung out and exhausted. To add insult to injury, the wife has to immediately start doing laundry because they all have to wear their day-glo orange ‘camp shirt’ every single day.

So, it hasn’t exactly been what you would call ‘relaxing’ for my wife. Yesterday, however, was the precise diametric opposite of relaxing.

As I understand it, sometime after lunch, it became obvious that one of the groups of girl scouts was AWOL. They had gone on a hike up the neaby hill and hadn’t returned. What’s more, a second group that had climbed the same hill later hadn’t run into them on the trail. Leaders scurried about, and a fire drill was hastily arranged to bring everybody to a central location. There was a headcount, and this group was not present. However, organizations like Girl Scouts have plans for these sorts of eventualities, so, the kids were contained in one location while adults were sent out on search missions to try and find the missing group.

Of course, our daughter happened to be in the group that was lost.

My wife, who usually keeps a remarkably level head, was gripped by a feeling of doom that she could not shake. She was gripped by visions of our daughter wandering off away from the group, and the rest of the girls getting lost trying to find her. As the day wore on, she grew more and more stressed. This wasn’t helped by the many young girl scouts coming to give her tearful hugs of support.

Finally, one of the leaders got a phone call from the lost tribe. They had come down off the hill on the wrong side, had been completely turned around, couldn’t get a cell phone or walkie-talkie signal, and had walked until they finally found a house out in the woods where they could get some drinking water and orient themselves. Their location was quickly determined, and several cars set out to retrieve them. Everyone seemed to be fine except for one scout that had twisted her ankle and couldn’t walk on it.

Yes, it was my daughter. She had twisted her ankle not once, but twice, the last time pretty severely. So the first I heard about any of this was when I got the phone call from Mrs. Agent at Immediate Care, where they were getting X-rays.

To make a long story shorter, the girl has to stay off her ankle for at least a week, the wife is a nervous wreck, and I had to run out and buy crutches at 9:00 last night because my wife’s pair was too tall for the girl. Nevertheless, all three of them were packing up to return to camp today, with their bright orange shirts freshly washed, my daughter’s crutches thumping on the floor, and dark circles under my wife’s eyes.

I note that today is the first day of summer. If yesterday was any sort of harbinger of what we can expect, it’s going to be quite a long summer indeed.

June 15th, 2006

Suffer the Little Children

I just got an email from my wife:


summer has begun

two and a half months to go

god help us all…

And I felt a great disturbance in the Force. As if a hundred thousand stay-at-home parents had cried out in anguish.

June 14th, 2006

Clean-up on aisle 10

I hope I can be forgiven being a bit stressed these days. Our lives have been quite busy, what with medical emergencies, diagnoses, and trips to volcanoes, all in addition to the usual insanity. You would think that a life this full of … stuff really couldn’t accommodate any more drama.

And you would be wrong.

Last night, the wife took the boy to his last cub scout meeting of the year while I stayed home with the girl. As a part of my new life as a diabetic, I’ve been trying to get at least 20 minutes of some form of exercise every day, so I went for a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Twice.

As I was walking, I noticed what looked like pieces of a dead cat by the roadway. I did not point them out to the daughter, since she is an animal lover. Although she can be clinical enough to want to dissect any dead critter she finds, she has a soft spot for cats and I wanted to avoid an unpleasant scene.

Unfortunately, as I finished my first lap, and while the girl was getting her bicycle, I spotted more pieces of the cat clear over on the other side of the neighborhood. When the girl returned on two wheels, I warned her that there were pieces of dead cat all over the neighborhood, so she would be prepared if she saw them. She didn’t believe me. She wanted me to point them out to her, but I refused. I told her that if she saw them, she saw them, but I wasn’t going to highlight them for her.

Well, she spotted the pieces near the road on her own, and figured out where the rest must be because it was the only part of the walk where she hadn’t been with me. As I was returning home, one of our neighbors pulled into her driveway and I walked over to say hello.

To make conversation, I said “Boy, there’s pieces of a dead cat strewn all over the neighborhood. It looks like it got hit by a car and then eaten by something.”

Her face went curiously blank. “That was my cat.” she said.

My stomach dropped away like a falling elevator. “Are you sure?”

Yes, she was sure. Her cat had been missing since Saturday, and they had found pieces of fur and a liver. She was trying to maintain her composure, but her eyes were moist and her lip trembled just a bit as we talked. I felt awful, so I offered to go around and pick up the pieces for her. To my surprise, my daughter jumped in and volunteered to do it. As she pedalled off, I told her to make sure she wore gloves.

My neighbor told me the cat had been 16 years old, had been acting confused lately, and had only just recently started going outside again. I saw my daughter coming out of our garage with a cardboard box and rubber gloves. She looked much more upset now than she had when she volunteered. I walked over to where she stood.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t like me to do this?” I asked.

“I want you to do it!” she blurted out, on the edge of tears. “But I want to come with you.”

So we drove up to the entrance to our neighborhood and started picking up the pieces there. There were two legs and a tail there, along with several strips of fur. There was no blood, though. As I bagged up the pieces, another neighbor came by walking her dog. She mentioned that someone had seen a coyote running around, and that there were tufts of what looked like coyote fur nearby. Sure enough, the tufts of multicolored rough fur looked like coyote hair to me. It looked like the cat wasn’t hit by a car after all. We thanked her and drove to where the other pieces were.

This was much more grim, and included the head and front legs. Plus they were getting pretty ripe. But soon everything was bagged, and we returned to our neighbor’s house. She had said she wanted to see what we found, to try and confirm it was her missing cat, Jasmine. Although I opened the box for her, I didn’t open the plastic bag the pieces were in. I told her it was pretty unpleasant. She asked my daughter if it had looked like Jasmine, and the girl confirmed that it had. Now my neighbor and my daughter were both crying.

We told her it looked like she had been killed by coyotes. It wouldn’t be the first time a cat was torn to shreds by coyotes in our neighborhood, which I find amazing, as we are smack in the middle of the suburbs. Then I offered to dispose of the remains for her. She said she would appreciate it.

We returned home, and I started digging a hole in the gravelly hardpan behind our house. My daughter, who had kept a pretty brave face thus far, started to really come unglued. The tears came, more and more of them, and she started trying to make a marker for the grave. She started saying the kinds of things that all of us say when faced with death: “I only got to pet her once. She wouldn’t let me get near her. I hope she at least fought back. Why did it have to be a cat that I knew?”

Eventually, I emptied the bag of pieces into the hole, where they made a pathetic and gruesome and surprisingly small pile, and filled in the hole. My daughter kept trying to paint a rock to use as a marker, but was so upset that she kept messing up the lettering. By now she was crying freely and constantly. I urged her to wait and make the marker when she was calmer. It didn’t need to be done right away.

It was a rough evening for everyone. The girl was so upset that she ended up throwing up her dinner, and had a lot of trouble getting to sleep. My wife made some calls to animal control, letting them know what had happened, in hopes that someone could do something about the coyotes. The last time a cat had been slaughtered, they had been keenly interested, but mostly because they wanted to make sure it was coyotes and not sociopathic teenagers who had torn up the cat.

It’s hard to lose a pet, even when it’s not even your pet. They’re like little furry people. Not too bright, but capable of tremendous affection. Unfortunately, if you live with animals, you have to learn to say goodbye to them. It’s a harsh price to pay, but those of us with animal companions seem to be willing to pay it, again and again, in return for the joy our animal friends bring us.

I’m sorry my girl had to go through with such a macabre exercise, but I’m terribly proud of her for volunteering to do it, and for believing that it was a right and necessary thing to do. That’s the kind of thing that’s hard to teach. They either step up and take that responsibility on their own, or they don’t. I’m very glad my daughter recognized that it was our obligation as pet-owners, pet-lovers, and neighbors to do what we did, no matter how unpleasant it might have been.

June 7th, 2006

Lorikeet Landing

We love to feed the Lorikeets at the Oregon Zoo. You can buy a paper cup of apple juice for a dollar, and if you go first thing in the morning, the birds are loud and voracious. The kids become living perches for thirsty birds.

They are simply stunning. And loud. And they have been our first stop at the zoo for years now.

May 23rd, 2006

Joining the Lotus-Eaters

The wife and I had a consultation session yesterday with a nurse practitioner. She specializes in pediatric mental health. This is the first step toward medicating our daughter.

Did you hear that? It was the shrieks of all the outraged parents who believe no child ever needs to be ‘drugged’.

Of course, those parents do not have, and will never have, my child.

What do parents want? Do we want a controllable child? Do we want to avoid all the stress and heartache of a child that acts out? Of course we do, on some level. But that is not the point. I know that for some of you, you believe that’s why kids get put on medication. It’s an easy judgment to make against the parents. However the true rationale lies much deeper than that, and is actually much simpler:

We want our daughter to be happy.

Right now we have a child that cries herself to sleep at night. Who hates going to school because she has no friends. Who tries to tell us how sad and empty she feels, but can’t because she doesn’t have the vocabulary to express what’s going on inside her.

Perhaps more importantly, we have a child that is so thoroughly sabotaging herself that nearly everyone in her life now expects her to be a problem. And how long can you expect a child to develop self-confidence when they are being lectured, chided, yelled at, and otherwise told they fail every single day? Not very long. I sometimes wonder if it is already too late. If we have run out of enough time to repair the damage that’s been done.

The nurse practitioner met with the wife and me without our daughter. She began by asking us questions about the behaviors that concerned us - when they started, if they still continue. This lead to more discussion. Eventually, she began asking us fairly specific questions about behaviors that we hadn’t even mentioned yet. It was as if she already knew our daughter. The more information she got, the more confident she seemed to become as the session went on.

Although she will meet with our daughter next week, and evaluate her separately, she already feels fairly confident that the girl suffers from anxiety, with some depression tossed in for good measure. This goes beyond my hope that this was simply an impulse control issue, but it makes perfect sense.

It makes sense in particular when she asked us about our family histories. The wife and I both take anti-depressants. I have siblings that take them, so does my wife. They have made a tremendous difference in our lives. Why should it surprise us that our child would need them too? This is not a question of being a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ person. It is a question of brain chemistry, of whether you have an appropriate amount of the right neurotransmitters.

Does this mean I’m thrilled about putting my daughter on meds? Hell, no. Anti-depressants, in particular SSRIs, are scary things. I have enough personal experience, and have heard enough anecdotal evidence, to know that selection of the right drug, and the right dosage, can be critical. I also know that some of the side effects can be wretched.

But are they worse than going through childhood without friends? Being sunk into depression every day so deep that the only attention you get is negative attention? We don’t think so.

This decision has been a long time coming, and it has taken a great deal of thought. Unless we believed that medication was the best chance for our girl to reach the potential that she is capable of, unless we believed that medication was the best way to make her happy, to help her sleep through the night without being afraid, to help her keep from overeating and obsessing about food, we wouldn’t do it. If we knew that it would solve all her problems, it wouldn’t require a second thought.

But even the chance that it could help her makes it worth trying.

May 22nd, 2006

Being a Buddy

Rather than staying at home and be a dutiful father and husband this last weekend, I drove up to Washington State, and was a buddy.

The obligations and duties of being a father and husband are myriad and intimidating, far too comprehensive and mind-bogglingly tedious to recite in this space. Entire volumes could be (and have been) written on how to properly parent, and how to nurture your relationship with your spouse.

The obligations and duties of being a buddy are a bit simpler:

Chip in for beer
Be sympathetic
Tell off-color jokes

Being a buddy is quite literally a vacation compared to being a parent.

The three of us had gathered together because one of us is going through a divorce. He is currently living in the vacation home of a relative on Hood Canal, and trying to keep himself from going insane while he sits in a quiet house, by himself, thinking about his sons, and trying not to dwell on his marriage as it grinds inexorably toward a messy conclusion.

Beer. Check.
Sympathy. Check.
Off-color jokes. Always.

The three of us have been close friends forever, it seems. We have backpacked together, seen countless movies together, and weathered the storms and sunshine of nearly three decades. It very well may be that the best thing we could do for our friend right now was to serve as a reminder that, for all that we may annoy each other or amuse each other in turn, our friendship is an anchor that has outlasted many of the transitions in his life. High school, college, courtship, marriage, fatherhood, we have weathered them all, and while the nuances of our companionship may shift and slide, ebb and flow, the foundation of it remains solid. I’d like to think that this provides him some comfort right now. At least I hope it does.

So we sat on the deck at his residence-in-exile, admiring the tops of the Olympic mountains peeking over the ridge on the opposite shore, and enjoying their reflection on the smooth-as-glass surface of this arm of Puget Sound. And we drank beer when we were thirsty, and we ate junk food when we were hungry. And the rhythms of the weekend were far slower, and far more relaxing than the ones I am accustomed to. Driving home on Sunday, I felt quite bit more relaxed, and had regained perhaps a bit of perspective myself.

Sunday night, after dinner, I was trying out a new game for the Nintendo DS, when my son came running back to the family room.


(Why is it that when a toilet overflows, it is always the one that is the furthest away from where you happen to be at the time?)

Sure enough, by the time I pounded back to the kids’ bathroom, water was cascading over the rim of the toilet, across the floor, and down the furnace vent.

Sigh. So much for being a buddy. I was back to being a Dad.

May 3rd, 2006

Be Careful What You Wish For

Want to make the Universe pay attention to you? Do you really? Because I know the secret.

I was thinking this morning of what’s going on in my life lately. The daughter has been sneaking food again. We are very close to trying some medication for her. I ran my car through a car wash, which didn’t even touch the accumulated pollen in the cracks and crevices. The wife’s cell phone is screwed up, such that she can hear callers dimly if at all. She has been in denial about this, convinced that we have all been mumbling, and just need to speak up a bit. This has resulted in (and I’m not making this up) my standing on streetcorners, in my office, and in grocery stores screaming into my cell phone “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW??”. And we don’t use Verizon.

But really nothing entertaining has been happening. Nothing I felt motivated to write about. Nothing dramatic. Nothing funny.

So then I made my big mistake. I thought to myself, “Gosh, I wish I had something to blog about.”

And the Universe grinned an evil grin.

And my phone rang. It was the wife, and she sounded funny. “I can’t stop retching.” she said. “It almost feels like something’s blocked in my intestines. I don’t have anything left to throw up, and I keep on heaving.” Well, says I, it sounds like you need to go to the emergency room, or at least urgent care. I will be home as soon as I can.

So, I shut down the computer that I had just booted up, ran to the garage I had just left, and climbed in the car I had just driven to work. My phone rang again. It was the wife, who had gotten a ride to the hospital, and was going to meet me at the emergency room.

I actually beat her there by about five minutes. As an aside, I should point out that here in the Portland area, we’ve had an outbreak of norovirus. It’s been rampaging through nursing homes. This is why, as soon as the hospital personnel heard that my wife had been vomiting, they told her to seal shut the bag she had been using, issued her a clean bag, and the evaluating nurse ducked and returned in a few minutes wearing a surgical mask and rubber gloves. “I’ve managed to avoid norovirus so far.” she said.

The only thing that could have been less reassuring was if she had returned with a self-contained air supply, or some kind of remote manipulator.

After an initial evaluation, the wife was wheeled into a room and laid out on a bed. A needle was stuck in her arm, and four or five vials of blood were taken. She was asked for a urine sample, which earned the questioner an incredulous look, but she gamely shuffled off to the restroom to fill a vial.

After she had returned, we were left alone for a while, and the color began to come back to her cheeks. She started talking more coherently. “Well, I’m feeling much better.” she said. This was the cue for the nurses to arrive with a liter of normal saline, a potent narcotic, and antinausea medication. They strongly urged her to let them give her the meds, so she did.

So much for coherent speech. The effect of the painkiller was very nearly immediate, and if you will forgive me for using a technical term, she became what doctors refer to as ‘loopy’. We were then left alone for several long stretches. I played “Animal Crossing” on my Nintendo DS. We both napped. An emergency room physician came in, asked some questions, and decided the symptoms were consistent with kidney stones. He wanted to do a CT scan to confirm the diagnosis.

Ah. Kidney stones. This was not my wife’s first brush with kidney stones. The last time this happened, we had been in a Costco in Eugene, with two very small children, when my wife suddenly grew so nauseated she couldn’t leave the ladies room. This was sounding very familiar.

Sure enough, it turns out she has several stones, including one apparently poised on the lip of the duct leading to the bladder, like a shy diver peering over the edge of the high platform. After a total of over four hours, I left the emergency room with two prescriptions, a fine sieve my wife should use to strain her urine, and a largely noncommunicative spouse.

I spent most of the rest of the day trying to get prescriptions filled and purchasing birthday presents for my son. Did I mention this was his seventh birthday? This was NOT how we imagined his birthday would be going.

I should point out that while a kidney stone would be inconvenient at any time, it is especially so right now. The wife was supposed to help take her troop of Girl Scouts on a camping trip this weekend. A camping trip that was the most primitive to date. Let’s just say that pit toilets will be playing a prominant role in the experience.

I suspect that if she has not passed her stone by Friday, she will not be heading out into the woods with her urine sieve, her painkillers, and her anti-nausea suppositories (don’t keep them in the fridge!) stuffed into her backpack. No, I daresay she will be waving goodbye to the troop, including our daughter, and staying right here where hygiene, convenience, and modern medicine are close to hand.

We are both trying not to think about the last time she went through this, which culminated with her undergoing surgery to remove the stone.

So, the next time you need some excitement in your life, just repeat these words: “Gosh, I wish I had something to blog about.”