Archive for the ‘Tall Tales’ Category

I know that everybody has heard of those random horror stories shared by triage nurses, doctors, and staff in the ER all over the internet.  The odd things people shove in certain places.  The strangest things found on X-rays!  You won’t believe what these people swallowed!  Those and the other insanely titled click-bait that pops up on your Facebook feed and Twitter.  What they leave out, however, is what it’s like to be on the receiving end of those strange mishaps.

I can’t speak for everybody, but when I have something downright stupid happen to me because of my own, well, stupidity, I find it easiest to simply own up to it and keep trucking on.  If you’re laughing (after you’re done crying, of course) about your own injury then you know that the ER staff will be laughing at it, too.

This weekend started as any other in winter might.  A slew of things to do, one kid sick, the other in trouble, and I was staring at the very real possibility of catching my tiny minion’s plague.    I spent the first half of my Saturday running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to get things ready for a Christmas Parade.  The scout troop I co-lead in would be marching and I wanted to make sure everybody had something festive as well as candy to give out.  Instead of just stopping at a few glow-necklaces and a bag or two of candy I decided to go all out.   Already somewhat drugged up on DayQuil I sat on the floor of my dining room, decorating my kids radio flyer wagon.  Little Girl Scout signs lined the sides, candy canes stuck out the back, glitter, tinsel, candy, ribbons, the works!

As it happened, this time, I was in a bit of a bind trying to attach the signs to the wagon.  Neither myself or my husband could find my hole punch.  Minor problems, I know, but when you’re on a tight schedule and feeling a bit doped up on cold medicine anything can seem stupidly dire.  As a last resort I decided…what better to use than our brand new stainless steel meat thermometer?  Quite sharp, it went through the signs like butter and made my task that much easier.  Perhaps a bit unconventional, but it certainly did the trick.

Back to work I went, and for several hours I sat there sprawled on the floor, poking holes and weaving signs.  At long last it seemed that I was finally done.  Candy was mixed.  Wagon was decorated.  Bells and glow necklaces were prepared.  Candy bags were opened.  With a satisfied sigh I settled the meat thermometer and the tape on the chair next to me as I pushed to a stand.  Mission, accomplished.

I’m sure some of you can already see where this is going.

There are times in my life that I wish I had a studio audience on hand to cringe or yell at me, warn me when something stupid was about to occur that everybody could see coming except for me.  This was one of those times.  As I stood there I realized that I could add just a little bit of flair to the front of the wagon.  Now, I’m 6’2″, and the ground only seems to get further and further away the older I get.  So I opted, this time, to sit on the chair

The good news is that the meat thermometer missed my spine and only went in about an inch.  The bad news, well…where do I start?  I sat on a meat thermometer, which puts a hole in more than just your favorite pair of pants to say the least.

Unfortunately I had to miss the Christmas Parade and call my co-leader, half laughing, half crying, about how I had to go to the ER and get a tetanus shot instead.  Her concern slowly (OK, no, rapidly) morphed into amusement as I relayed my tale of woe.  She later on had another of our leaders swing by for the parade goodies so that I could go to the ER.  But not without asking if I properly figured out my temperature first…

I must admit there is really nothing like walking into the ER, staring at your triage nurse and telling them, “So, I mean I know the best and most accurate temperature is taken through the rear, but I promise you that was not what I was trying to do.”


“Yeah, I just-just used that thing for turkey at Thanksgiving but I just don’t think I’ll be using it again…”


“So the phrase ‘stick a fork in me I’m done’ has an entirely new meaning for me now…”


“Sadly I didn’t keep it in long enough to figure out what my temperature was, but I’m pretty sure I’m somewhere in the ‘undercooked’ category.”

The numerous rear-related puns that my husband has been throwing around has also been nothing short of amusing.  At one point he asked me if I wanted to use our daughter’s Samoa Cookie shaped pillow (a near-perfect circle) to sit on.   He really can’t keep a straight face when he’s telling jokes, either, so every time he’s started a pun of some sort he just trails off giggling.  I think I’ve thrown my hat at him about five times today.  It must be love, though, since every time I throw it at him he just brings it back for me to throw again.

And thankfully the tetanus shot wasn’t in my throwing arm.  Small blessings I suppose.




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As I swing full force into life beyond chemotherapy I took a moment to reflect on how grateful I am to be able to do so.  My life, while boggled down by cancer at times, is so much more than the disease that I write about.  The time I spend thriving isn’t always marred by thoughts of cancer…as a matter of fact it’s not the only thing odd or unusual about me.  Long before cancer was even on my radar I was able to push myself apart from the crowd simply by being who I am.


Now, I’m not talking about slightly above average, that’d be somewhere in the 5’8″ to the 5’10” range and I am above that.  I stand a striking 6’2″, putting me not just eye-level with most men, but also taller than a good chunk of them.  In fact, by the time I was in the sixth grade (back when elementary schools in the local area went from K-6) I was not only taller than all of my classmates, I was also taller than all of the teachers at the elementary school…and I had yet to stop growing.  I reached my full height in the 7th grade.  You heard me.  I’ve been 6’2″ since I was twelve.  Most boys in junior high were eye-level with my non-existent chest and most girls barely any taller than the boys.  I can say one thing, it’s certainly given me a lot of unique stories to tell.

Then there’s always being in the back row of every class picture.  Not to mention the awkward feeling of dancing with a guy shorter than you.  Then there’s the whole ‘going to an old ruin or fort and discovering just about all the doors are just a bit too short to get through without risking concussion’ problem that pops up now and then.  The awkward feeling that just because of your size everybody feels like they need to pick on you or bully you just to prove themselves to be strong.  It’s a bit strange, being considered a right of passage.

But not everything is negative.  In fact, how I got my nickname, ‘Stilts’, is one of those positive memories I have that came from my height alone.  Another strange thing about me is that I’ve been a Girl Scout for my entire life.  Don’t believe me?  Ask any of the Cadettes from my mother’s old troop that changed my diapers for their childcare badges.  Still don’t believe me?  Let me pull out my Day Camp patches from 1984 from when I was two.  Get the picture?  Girl Scouts, I don’t really know what I’d be without it.

Now, there’s a little tradition that isn’t just limited to Girl Scouts.  Whenever you go to camp typically all of the girls and leaders are referred to by their camp name.  Some are cutesy, like Flower or Dove or Sparkles.  Others are more unique, like Pickles, Ed, or Buzzard.  All have a story behind them, even if it’s something so trivial as the person named ‘Beans” liking beans a lot.

When I was young I bounced around to all sorts of names, trying to find a good fit.  For a while I was Bunny to my mother’s Rabbit.  At another time I was Michaelangelo due to my love of the Ninja Turtles.  I even went so far as taking on the name Tiger Lily at Outdoor School in the 5th grade.  Not sure why I picked the last one, but it didn’t go beyond Outdoor School, that’s for certain.  I don’t even remember what my camp name was as I got older…until the fifth or sixth grade (I honestly cannot recall which summer).  Now, reading back to how I hit the stride of my height around this time it should really come as no surprise that I was taller than a good chunk of the counselors at resident camp that summer.  It did come as a surprise to one person, however, a female counselor that stood at about 5’9″.  Her name was Stilts.

I stood a hair taller than her, still not yet done growing, and I watched her eyeball me the entire week with a conflicted expression.  It wasn’t until the last day of camp that she finally approached me with her name tag in hand.  With a sigh she reached over, took my hand, and placed her name tag in it.

“I never thought I would find the day where I’d meet a camper taller than me.  You deserve this camp name more than I do.”

It was so out of the blue for me…and yet it fit.  It was the camp name that actually stuck to me, had its own story, and actually felt right.  And it was oddly touching.  She was a counselor that I’d never met before and have not seen since, but I will always remember her every time I make a new name tag for camp.

Every girl at camp knew me as Stilts from that point on.  It fits so well that a lot of girls don’t even know my real name, instead yelling my camp name when I run into them at the grocery store.  I respond, as it comes natural now after almost twenty years of carrying it.  But someday…maybe someday I’ll find a camper taller than me.  And maybe that day I’ll pass it on.

And then I’ll be Donatello.  Because, frankly, he was smarter than Michaelangelo anyway.

Yeah, yeah, that's me that the former Governor of Washington is staring at. I get that look a lot.

Yeah, yeah, that’s me that the former Governor of Washington is staring at. I get that look a lot.

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