Monday, April 27, 2009


A granuloma is a medical term for a ball-like collection of immune cells which forms when the immune system attempts to wall off substances that it perceives as foreign but is unable to eliminate. Such substances include infectious organisms such as bacteria and fungi as well as other materials such as keratin, suture fragments and vegetable particles. A granuloma is therefore a special type of inflammatory reaction that can occur in a wide variety of diseases, both infectious and non-infectious. The adjective "granulomatous" refers to diseases or inflammatory reactions that are characterized by granulomas.
Doctors often use the term "granuloma" loosely to mean "a small nodule". Since a small nodule can represent anything from a harmless nevus to a malignant tumor, this usage of the term is not very specific. The correct use of the term "granuloma" requires a pathologist to examine surgically removed and specially colored (stained) tissue under a microscope. This is what my day has been about. My doctor told me today that she thinks the the thing with my little fingernail (I thought it was just your run of the mill nail fungus) is a granuloma. She neglected to tell me what that meant. I had to look it up online. Never look stuff up online, it's just plain scary. She made me make an appointment with the new dermatologist at the office because he apparently specializes in nails. Yep, you read that right he specializes in nails.
Now as it happens I have "soft" nails. All that means is they bend very easily. But as it stands I have no pinky nail on my left hand and the index finger is losing it's nail too. The sucky part (OK, one of the sucky parts) is the appointment is in JUNE! I have to suffer the not knowing until then!! I hate not knowing.
And to prove just how bad today is, a very good friend told me today that she lost her job. Today sucks. It just plain sucks.

--Little Bird should not look up stuff like that on the internets

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Here Comes the Rain Again

It's springtime!! Trees are budding, crocuses are blooming, and daffodils too! And it's raining. But hey, it's not snowing! The trees and hedges have tiny bright green leaves that from a distance make the trees and hedges look as if they have a haze sitting in their branches.
So, I've been reading a lot lately. Still recovering from the cough from hell, sorta. Have you ever read a book, an essay, an article- anything really where every so often you have to put it down and contemplate the sentence or passage you just read? Not just because there were about ten commas and you have to try to figure out what the writer just said. But rather because that sentence or passage was so well crafted that you need to stop and take moment to marvel at it in wonder. The book I just finished reading is "Housekeeping" and some years ago was adapted into a movie. The movie was really very good, but like most movies doesn't hold a candle to the book. The entire book is written so well, in that "I must stop and think about what I just read" sort of way. The author's name is something like Maryieleen Robertson, or Robinson (the book is at my place and I am currently sitting in my mother's living room). I highly recommend the book. It's about two young girls and is written from the perspective of one of them.
Last night my mother and I watched the ultimate in mother-daughter movies. "Grey Gardens". We're both still a little bit in shock I think. Sometimes a movie can hit a little too close to home. Not that she and I are like to end up living in a ramshackle house feeding raccoons and wearing skirts on our heads. But the way they sort of depended on each other, and the manner in which they spoke to each other is very much like Mama Bird and myself. Although, if I start calling her "Mother Darling" she may have me committed. Not that I could blame her.
To go with this movie Mama Bird and I attempted to have a "meal" that was fitting with the movie (It was on cable). We got truffle mouse (we couldn't find pate or foie gras), capers, and white bread. We also got cream cheese and put caviar over it along with some red onions. The type of caviar used was red lumpfish, found on the shelf next to the canned tuna. This is the type that you're SUPPOSED to use. Now I had had this before and liked it. Apparently my tastes have changed somewhat, because it was awful. All of it. We got a bag of ruffles and called it even.
Speaking of food, today being Sunday, it is a cooking day for me. And spring having sprung, we're having morel mushrooms. This will be the only meal where we buy morels. Because morels are insanely expensive. So for dinner tonight we are having pasta (hand made earlier this afternoon) in a light cream sauce with sauteed morels.
To make the pasta one needs a pasta roller. And cutter. Then it's just a pound of flour (about 4ish cups) and 5 eggs.
Mix, roll, cut, and allow to dry for a few hours. Then just cook the same way you would any pasta.
The morels and the sauce are likewise easy. Sauté the morels in butter. You might want to do that last, because it doesn't take long at all. For the sauce you take a small amount of butter, melt it in a sauce pan, add grated parmesan and heavy cream. Not very much of either, you don't want to overpower the mushrooms, but enough to sort of lightly coat you pasta when you serve it. I add a little (tiny) bit of garlic to the sauce and this time will be adding the barest of pinches of white truffle salt. For those of you who really like cooking, and who like really fancy food, white truffle salt will be your new best friend. It's about $15 for a 2 oz jar, but you literally only need to use a teeny tiny pinch to give whatever dish you're making a very rich flavor. That 2 oz jar should last me about 2 or 3 YEARS. Even if I used it more often, I don't think I could use it all by then! Check with your local specialty spice shop to see if you can find it, otherwise google it. I got mine from The Spice House in Chicago (a place that smells like I imagine heaven does).

--Little Bird is contemplative

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Strong Silent Type? Pfffffft!

When I get sick, boy do I get sick. This used to happen to me 4 or 5 times a year. Back when I was in school and in contact with germy kids. This isn't to say I wasn't a germy kid, but when you throw a bunch of germy kids together, someone's (me usually) gonna get sick. As I've gotten older the colds, flus, what have yous are much less frequent. You would think that because I was sick so often then, I would now be the strong, silent stoic type when it comes to being sick. This is sooooo not the case. I whine. I complain. I mope. I ask my mother if she would please please bring soup, cough medicine, Halls, orange juice, soda, tissues and toilet paper over to my place. That being said I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mama Bird for bringing over soup, cough medicine, Halls, soda, orange juice, tissues and toilet paper. Thank you Mama Bird, thank you.
I have not stepped out of my apartment since I got home Monday night. I have no idea what the weather is like right now. The most walking I have done has been from the bed to the bathroom, or from the bed to the kitchen. Since Monday night I have eaten part of a can of SpagettiO's and about ten spoons full of chicken noodle soup. I haven't eaten anything at all today. AND I'M NOT HUNGRY. I'm pretty sure I spend more time asleep than I do awake, though I'm not really sure. Today has been the first day that I really played around online for more than half an hour at a time.
After the forum this weekend every little pain I get has me worried. I can't seem to help it. My mind immediately goes to the worst possible scenario. But, in my defense, I haven't been sick like this in a looooong time. And I have NEVER had a cough this bad. EVER.
The good news is the coughing has subsided. However, my nose is still congested, and the headaches have gotten worse. I finally started taking my migraine meds to ease the pain. Mama Bird suggested it, and also suggested I call the pharmacy to see if it was safe to mix with my cough medicine. It's safe, but the pharmacist told me if it doesn't help or if it gets worse to call my doctor. She didn't think my description of the headaches was something to fool around with.
About cold and cough medicine. When did they all go non-drowsy? Why did they all go non-drowsy? Drowsy is good! Drowsy lets you sleep. Sleep lets your body concentrate on fixing the stuff that needs fixing. Besides, when you're sick don't you WANT to sleep? Half of the meds over the counter today actually cause restlessness. Because that's exactly how I want to feel when I'm sick, miserable and acutely AWARE of it. By the way, if this post seems to swoop from topic to topic, I have taken said migraine meds, and they are basically a heavy duty prescription painkiller (i.e. NOT imitrex). So I might get a wee bit loopy. Which really is how I want to feel when I'm sick. I want the pain to go away, I want to not care that I haven't eaten in over 24 hours, I want to sleep for more than three and a half hours at a time. Most of all, I want to FEEL BETTER.

--Little Bird is cooped up

Monday, April 6, 2009


Well, I'm home. And I'm sick. This is nothing new for me. In fact it's right on schedule, have an extremely emotional weekend, get sick with a nasty cough.
This past weekend in DC was one of the most important weekends of my life. I got to meet other people with Neurofibromatosis. I didn't expect I would cry when I spoke to the first person there. The organizer of the weekend. I spoke to lots of parents who's small children have NF. I got to speak to other people who were (relatively) close to my age who have NF. Luckily I didn't cry when I met them. Saturdays itinerary was filled to the brim, doctors spoke at length about what IS know about NF. Fundraisers told us what they're doing to help raise money so that research can be funded. After each doctor spoke there was a brief Q & A where we had the chance to ask about the things that might have been confusing. And during every one of those Q & A's I cried. They showed us videos they produced to help raise awareness, I cried. Those videos are REALLY well made. There was a man there, a police chief. A big, burly, strong man. HE cried.
The two most important things that I got out of this experience are the information about the disease and where I can go to get help, and I no longer feel so isolated. I met others who know what it's like. They went through it too. Some of them had cases that were more severe than mine, but that didn't stop us from finding common ground.
If you are interested in learning more about NF, go to find the video I talked about. Have a box of tissue handy. You'll need it.

--Little Bird found birds of a feather

p.s. That's