Wednesday, November 29, 2006

His Eyes

"Mom, the toys here are kind of lame," Joseph informs me after scouting around the crowded waiting room for something with which to occupy both himself and his sister.

He's right-- there's really nothing here for children over the age of two.

Ah well. The three of us sit quietly together, occasionally looking up at "The Incredibles," as the movie plays on a small television suspended above the back corner of the room.

My mind starts to drift as Mr. and Mrs. Incredible search frantically for their missing children... our last time here was two years ago, shortly after Joseph's diagnosis. I remember the ophthalmologist saying then that our visit would establish a good "baseline."

I also remember hating hearing him say that, fearing what the term implied.

After nearly half an hour, a young man wearing a crisp white shirt and a tag that reads, "Resident," steps into the room and calls Joseph's name.

The Resident ushers Joseph into a large chair flanked by some odd looking instruments, while Evan and I take the two empty seats in a corner of the small, darkened exam room.

Joseph is handed what looks like a large black spoon and instructed to cover first one eye and then the other, while reading a chart.

He'll be fine.

He's only had this thing for a little over two years-- it can't have touched his eyes.

The exam goes on for a very long time-- the young Resident seems friendly and confident, but there's something I'm not liking about him. Maybe it's how his manner changes when Joseph resists his attempts to put drops of a numbing agent into his eyes.

"Come on," the Resident says in a frustrated voice, "you're a big guy-- this is nothing."

Joseph tries to explain-- "I don't really care about getting shots," he says, clearly agitated, "it's just anything with my eyes really freaks me out and-- "

Before he can finish, the Resident pulls down a lower lid and tries yet again.

Once in, Joseph winces-- telling him the drops sting.

The Resident says nothing, just begins prepping another instrument.

The exam continues for about 40 minutes, until more drops are placed in Joseph's eyes.

"You all will have to sit in the waiting room for another 40 minutes, until his pupils are dilated."

"Will I need eyeglasses?" Joseph asks as we leave the exam room.

He gives Joseph an inscrutable look before responding:

"I don't think so."

I'm really not fond of this guy.

When we return to the exam room, the Resident shines a bright light into Joseph's now dilated pupils, and says "hmm... uh huh," turns to write something down, and then repeats the procedure several times.

All the while, I'm fighting a desperate urge to scream.

Finally, he pushes back his chair, flicks on the light, and starts talking to my son.

"Well, everything looks fine. Just fine... " -- and then his expression is suddenly very serious -- "... but you know that you have diabetes and keeping good control is important. You want to keep that A1c at 7 or below-- stay away from the 8s and 9s -- or else... "

Oh God, please don't!

"... you're going to have some eye bleeds."

I clear my throat, the Resident turns to me, ignores my stricken expression, and continues.

"I had a girlfriend with diabetes, and I know this-- you really want to stay away from those high blood sugars, those two and three hundreds."

Joseph doesn't look at the Resident, just listens to his words while frowning down at his hands.

Only minutes ago, his blood sugar was 247.

"Excuse me," I say loudly, "But I think we need to clarify what you mean by 'eye bleeds'," then turning to Joseph, "Honey, you're not literally gonna see blood coming out of your eyes, it's really-- "

"It's called a hemorrhage," the Resident interjects, helpfully.

"Yes, but it's not as frightening as it sounds" I say, casting a glare in his direction.

"Also," I continue, "while it's certainly important to work toward good blood sugar control, with diabetes you're gonna see some blood sugars in the two and three hundreds-- sometimes higher. It's just unavoidable... "

And now I'm looking directly into the Resident's eyes, "... the HbA1c will also fluctuate, especially in a growing child-- again, because there are so many factors that can influence that number."

The Resident says nothing more.

A few moments later, we're joined by Joseph's pediatric ophthalmologist-- an older, jovial man who immediately praises Joseph for his good blood sugar control.

"You know, I saw a teenager just yesterday who also wears a pump-- I think he's having some trouble figuring it out though. His A1c was in the 9's."

Hmmm... clearly, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree in this practice.

"Well, to be fair," I begin, taking a deep breath, "I'm sure that teenager is dealing with a lot of fluctuating hormones, which can have a tremendous impact on blood sugars."

"I suppose you're right. In medical school I remember seeing an illustration of some scales," the doc says, holding up his hands as if they were the scales, "and insulin was on one side and all the other hormones were on the other." He laughs a little, then turns to Joseph.

"Let's have a look." And after a brief exam, "Well, looks like we won't need to see you all again for another two years. Terrific job. Everything looks great."

As we leave the building, Joseph is very quiet.

"Bud, you're not worried about anything you heard in there, are you?"

"You mean, am I scared that my eyes are gonna start bleeding all over the place?" he asks, smiling. "No -- we already talked about this stuff. That guy was kinda ridiculous, though. It didn't sound like he knew much about diabetes."

Then he pauses a moment.

And as I look down into my son's beautiful, brown, healthy eyes -- he continues:

"But at least he could see that my eyes are okay-- gotta give him props for that."

Monday, November 27, 2006

Yet Another Reason To Be Thankful

The door bell rang, and suddenly I was nervous.

What if she's nothing like the woman in her blog?

I took a deep breath, and opened the door.

And there she was standing in front of me, smiling tentatively -- Rachel -- a person I'd grown to know and admire over many months.

Immediately, I gave in to an overwhelming urge to hug the woman.

Over cups of hot coffee, the two of us and our husbands spoke easily about our mutual love of cooking, about baseball and football, our changing hometowns, our histories....

And of course, diabetes-- with Joseph walking Rachel and her husband, Greg, through the workings of his pump, and Greg in turn sharing glimpses of his own experience living well with type 1 diabetes (something he's done for nearly 21 years)-- all the while, illustrating quite beautifully (and perhaps, unknowingly) the importance of a sense of humor in all of this.

I like these two, I thought-- still slightly amazed at the power of this online community to create new friendships between people who have never met.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Very Late Thanksgiving Post

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

We sure did-- though I'm afraid it didn't start out that way.

You see, our day began at 4 am-- when Ryan pricked Joseph's finger and discovered his blood sugar was 268.

Now, while this was certainly not a scary high number, it was still troubling-- given that Ryan had bolused a correction just two hours earlier to bring down a minor high (180).

Worse yet, when Ryan attempted to bolus yet another correction, Joseph's pump alarmed, displaying instructions to remove the battery, and then an error code and a "Call For Service" message.

Thus it was at approximately 4:03, that I opened my eyes to a bright overhead light, and my husband standing over me-- holding out a small lithium battery, as he calmly explained the situation.

It took several seconds for me to process what he was saying.

And then I leapt out of bed and made for Joseph's room, finding my son sitting on the edge of his bed looking exhausted and wearing a concerned expression.

"It's okay, we just need to put the battery back in to reboot the pump," I told him.

Ryan popped in the battery, screwed on the cap, then handed me the pump. But when I tried to program a bolus, I got a message that said the pump was not primed-- that's when I realized we needed to rewind, reload and re-prime the thing.

Once done, it appeared we were back in business. We then gave Joseph a corrective bolus of just .6 of a unit-- this rather than an injection because we assumed the rise in his bg was connected to the pump alarm (since he had a new infusion site that looked good and had worked well for the previous 12 hours).

As Ryan headed back to our bedroom, I started down the stairs.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"I'm calling Animas." I said in an exhausted, angry voice. "There's no reason we should be the only ones awake at this hour-- and besides, we have no idea what that error code meant and the pump did say 'Call For Service'."

To their credit, I heard back from an Animas nurse within three minutes of my call.

After I explained what had happened, the nurse said that what we'd seen was a "general processing error-- nothing to be concerned about," and that they would replace the pump if we saw two more of those errors within 30 days of this one.

She also firmly believed that Joseph's post-correction high had nothing to do with the pump alarm, and was far more likely due to a bad infusion site.

Hmmm.... I didn't think so.

When we checked Joseph again at 6 am, his blood sugar had dropped significantly-- to 160.

By 7:30, he coasted in at a very nice 118.

Clearly, his site was still good.

Again, hmmm....

Anyhow, with this early morning excitement we'd apparently filled our stress quota for the day-- because the remainder of our Thanksgiving was perfectly wonderful.

We spent the afternoon and evening at the home of some very good friends-- talking and eating; eating and, well, talking.

The kids tossed a football in the backyard, and played for hours with our friends' new puppy.

It was lovely.

Oh and because I had no turkey to care for, I worked on this for the better part of the morning (post pump troubleshooting, that is):

An Almond-Kahlua Torte with a Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze.

This was my first attempt at a torte, and (surprisingly) it was really, really good.

In addition to the above, we had the usual fare-- turkey, stuffing, sweet and mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, apple pie...

And while Joseph had portions of almost all of it-- his blood sugars remained relatively steady throughout the day.

For that, I am indeed thankful.

But even more so, for these two...

... and for their amazing dad.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The News

I tried to post this earlier, but Blogger was down...

He's fine.

Though I didn't find that out until 4:30 this afternoon-- seems his doctor was "in clinic and swamped all day today."

(Doctors never call you first thing-- it must be some unwritten rule.)

Anyhow, while anxiously awaiting his call, I decide to take the kids to see a movie.

It's the only way I can think of to stay away from the computer-- and to stop trying to will the telephone to ring.

Also -- because Joseph has the day off from school, and none of his friends are around -- I realize I have to get a grip. A distraction for me, and something fun for the kids is definitely in order.

Soooo, I take them to a matinee-- to see Flushed Away.

(Ignoring, of course, the turn-off-your-cell-phone request.)

Thus, at 1:30 this afternoon -- with popcorn, a diet soda, a box of Sno Caps and a (smuggled) reasonably-sized bag of M&Ms in hand -- Joseph, Evan and I take our seats in a nearby movie theater.

I'm doling out Sno Caps to Evan when the commercials begin-- it still irks me that they show these before the previews.

Anyhow, in mid pour I look up to see a close up of Jennifer Aniston wearing a serious expression, telling viewers of someone who "noticed a lump on her child's back." Quick cut to Robin Williams saying something about a child with severe headaches.

I know what's coming.

And there she is-- Marlo Thomas, talking about St. Jude Hospital.

About cancerous tumors.

You've got to be kidding me.

Immediately, I turn to Joseph. His eyes are opened wide and glued to the screen; his mouth, slightly open.

"Honey, I know what you're thinking. That's not the kind of tumor the doctor was talking about. Remember, your doctor said a benign tumor. That means not cancerous-- and that's not even what he thinks is going on. You have a slipped rib--nothing else."

I say these things in a firm voice-- hoping he doesn't detect even a trace of concern.

"Oh," he says, "Yeah, you're right."

Finally, the previews come on-- we talk about the ones the three of us want to see. And then watch the movie . . .

I struggle (unsuccessfully) to relax.

When we return home -- my nerves frayed -- I immediately phone his doctor's office.

An hour later, Dr. E returns my call, telling me that "Joseph's x-ray looked normal-- his rib bones looked just fine."

"Would a mass show up on the x-ray?" I ask.

"No, it wouldn't, but there was no evidence of any deterioration in the bones-- something we'd typically see if there was any sort of abnormal growth. Joseph is presenting, however, with the classic symptoms of slipped rib syndrome."

"Will this just resolve on its own?"

"It may. But there are adults who have this syndrome. They usually discover it because they feel pain when one rib rubs over another."


"But once they know why they're experiencing pain, they're far less concerned about it. This is really a quite benign condition."

Thank. God.

So while I'm not pleased that Joseph has yet another thing-- a potentially painful thing -- I'm relieved that he's okay.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

And Another Thing

"Hey, take a look at this," Joseph says, during the Packer game on Sunday.

Both Ryan and I turn away from the game and toward Joseph, who's leaning back on the couch-- the right half of his shirt pulled up, exposing his stomach and ribs on that side.

"See-- right here."

With his left hand, he's rubbing the bottom of his right rib cage. Then he removes his hand, takes a deep breath, and sure enough something is there-- a lump the size of a large marble.

I walk over and touch the lump gently with the tips of my index and middle fingers-- it's hard and movable.

And I have no idea what it is.

"Do you think I just have an extra bone?" Joseph asks, sounding almost hopeful.

"No, I doubt it, Honey," I say, shaking my head at him. "Does it hurt at all?"


"Well, I'm sure it's nothing to be worried about, but just the same I think I'll call your doctor tomorrow and see if he wants to have a look."

"It'd be kind of cool if I had an extra bone, you know?"

So I call his pediatrician's office the next morning and describe the lump to a nurse. She too has no idea what it could be, suggesting I bring him in on Wednesday.

And today, I find myself sitting with my kids in an examining room-- feeling as uneasy as I had over two years ago-- the day we discovered Joseph had diabetes.

"So how are you all doing?" asks Doctor E as he walks in the room.

"I'm good," says Joseph, "except I think I have an extra bone."

His doc laughs, saying "let me just take a look."

Joseph pulls up his shirt, and I watch as the doc pushes on the lower part of his rib cage, feeling the lump from a number of angles.

"Why don't you lie down on the examining table. I think I know what this is, but I want to get a better sense of this thing."

Joseph climbs up on the table, lies back and again, lifts his shirt.

After a few moments, the doctor turns to me.

"Well, I'm pretty sure that what we're seeing here is not really a lump-- it's actually the end of one of Joseph's ribs. It's something called a 'slipped rib'."

"Is this a common thing?" I ask, hoping he says "yes."

"No, not really."


"But I have seen it before." Then he turns back to Joseph. "Because you're young and still growing, the cartilage connecting your ribs is still very soft, making it easier for things to move around-- when you're older, this area becomes much harder-- more calcified."

"Should we be concerned about this?" I ask, holding my breath.

"Well, no-- "

Quietly, I exhale.

" -- unless, of course, the area becomes swollen. Then we would be concerned about a possible tumor."

I swallow hard.

"A tumor?"

"Mom, what's a 'tumor'? Can I tell everyone I might have a tumor?" Joseph asks, sounding a little nervous.

My head snaps toward my son.

"No, Joseph-- absolutely not."

"Okay, okay, " he says, laughing a little.

I turn back to the doctor.

"A tumor?" I ask again, weakly-- as tears crowd along my lower eyelids.

"Well, they're usually benign tumors made up of cartilage-- chondromas. But we'll want to keep an eye on this. I'd like to see Joseph again in about six weeks . . . "

I really wish he'd said 'benign' before he said 'tumor'.

"Hmm . . . I think I'd also like to get an x-ray today. Do you all have time?"

"Yes, yes. I have to bring him back to school right now, but we could come back after school, if that's all right?"

"That would be just fine. And I'll call you tomorrow morning to talk about the x-ray results."

So Joseph had the x-ray, and now it's just a matter of waiting for a call.

It's probably nothing. No big deal.

Just a benign something.

Though, a cursory Googling of "slipped rib" brings up descriptions of people in pain.

So really, until I know what this is, I need to stay the hell away from Google.

I just don't want him to have another thing.

Monday, November 13, 2006


I'm sitting at the computer paying bills when Joseph walks in the room.

"Mom, do we have any more dog tags?"

"I'm not sure-- why?"

"Well, I need a new one," he responds quietly.

I stop what I'm doing, turn away from the laptop screen, and look up at my son's face.

He's trying to look casual-- and failing miserably.

"What's goin' on, Bud?"

"This one is all bent," he says, holding out a silver dog tag attached to the chain hanging from his neck.

I lean over and immediately see that the metal tag is misshapen-- two large ripples now run across its surface.

"How did this happen?" I ask, a little shocked.

"Well, I was standing outside music with the rest of my class, and this kid -- L -- starts singing real loud so I tell him -- 'Be quiet-- you're makin' too much noise' -- mom, he really sounded bad, and it was annoying."

I've seen L before-- he's a big kid-- much bigger than Joseph.

"Okay, so then what happened?"

Joseph turns his head away for maybe a second or two-- still holding his dog tag between the thumb and fingers of his left hand.

When he starts talking again, it all comes out in a rush:

"He walked up to me and grabbed my dog tag, and started saying-- 'Hey, what's this, huh? Looks like plastic to me,' and then he just stood there lookin' at me, holding my dog tag in his hand, and then he squeezed it in his fist really hard . . . I don't know why he had to do that. "

"Honey, did you tell him what the dog tag means-- that it's your medical ID?"

"NO. It was just so STUPID!"

And now Joseph is fighting to keep from crying.

And I'm furious. Who is this boy? And what the hell is he doing with my son's medical ID?

I want to smack him.


It takes me a few seconds to calm down, and a few more to calm Joseph.

"Bud, I'm thinkin' it's time for us to have a talk about diabetes with your class . . .

And for me to have a talk with his teacher about this kid, L.

. . . you know, to make sure everyone understands what that tag means. How do you feel about that?"

"Yeah. I think that's a good idea. They need to know," he says, slowly nodding his head.

I look at him for a moment-- a little surprised.

You see, when school started, (as was the case last year) he'd dragged his heels about doing a talk-- wanting instead to wait until he got to know his classmates a little better.

Until they to got to know him better.

Now, Joseph does check his blood sugar in the classroom, and is not at all shy about letting people know when he's feeling low-- so his classmates aren't completely in the dark here.

But still, he's the only one -- in a school of several hundred kids -- who has diabetes.

I'm sure he felt that our talk -- especially given too soon -- might cause his peers to see him first as "that kid with diabetes."

A valid fear, I think.

But since he doesn't see himself that way, it's hard to imagine my son letting anyone else, either.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Another Day

He's 321, and cranky.

I can't really blame him. He's been high all night.

But thank goodness, no ketones.

And at least he's not low. He's had a lot of low blood sugars lately-- and some have been scary.

I twist off his insulin pump cap, pull out a half full cartridge of insulin, then press "Rewind."

Immediately we hear a whirring sound as the pump's threaded piston rod slowly spins down.

We're all very quiet this morning.

Even Evan says nothing as my hands move quickly-- tearing cellophane; puncturing a vial of insulin with a long needle; drawing fresh insulin into a new cartridge.

"Any air bubbles, Mommy?" she asks, lifting her head briefly from her brother's shoulder.

"Oh yes," I tell her as I repeatedly smack the side of the cartridge with a pen, and then quickly remove the needle and plunger from the cartridge, attach one end of a length of tubing to it, then insert a now full container of insulin into the pump.

I press "Load Cartridge."

As the piston rod whirs again-- rising toward the back of the cartridge -- I lift my head, and for a moment, just watch my two kids sitting together.

Joseph looks tired-- and wary.

He doesn't say a word.

Just waits for me to tell him it's time.

This is a ritual we repeat every three days-- sometimes sooner.

Like this morning -- when something is wrong.

When his blood sugar is dangerously high and isn't coming down.

"I'm ready, Bud."

Joseph puts Evan down, then I look to see where I'm going to insert the cannula-- the small (6 mm long) tube, or catheter that will be the entry point for the insulin coming from his pump.

He can do this himself-- has done it himself -- but prefers me to do it.

You see, he does so much of this stuff-- monitoring, figuring out carbs, thinking.

Always, thinking about how he's feeling.

With one hand, I hold the insertion device against the skin of his abdomen; with the other, I rub his back-- and breathe with him.

"Honey, now take a gentle breath in . . . and now a soft breath out. . . that's it . . . and now another breath in . . .

and then softly out . . . "

I squeeze the sides of the device, and with a loud snap, the introducer needle shoots into my son's belly-- he gasps.

Still holding the inserter against his stomach, I count slowly, "One.. two.. three.. four.. five.. " then pull out the long needle.

The cannula is now inside my son's body, and will (hopefully) remain there for another three days.

"Was that okay, Bud?"

"Sure, Mom," he says, but he's still wincing.

Sometimes it stings for a while after.

This is our life now-- or at least one piece of it.

The doctors said in the beginning that this would all become a routine.

"Like brushing your teeth," they told us. Just something we'd do.

Something he would do.

But you know, if we forget to brush our teeth, we don't get sick.

We don't die.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A D-Blog Day Reminder

As most of you know, November is Diabetes Awareness month.

And tomorrow is the second annual D-Blog Day.

Gina over at Diabetes Talkfest started this thing last year when she called on all diabetes bloggers to post on November 9th in a show of support for fellow D-bloggers and for those readers whose lives are in any way affected by diabetes.

It was a fantastic idea that resulted in many wonderful posts.

But even more important, on that day -- and in large numbers -- people connected.

So please, write something.

If you have a blog-- then post.

It doesn't have to be earth-shattering (though it certainly can be), just something related to diabetes.

And if you don't have a blog, then visit the many amazing D-blogs out there, and please comment.

Tomorrow, let's all raise our voices together.

Once again, let's reach out.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Five Facts

Yikes! Ryan Bruner tagged me last week, and I'm just now getting to this. (We had a really busy weekend over here)

So here's the scoop-- I must reveal five relatively unknown facts about myself, and then tag five other people.

Here you go:

  • During a parent-teacher conference, my first grade teacher told my mom that I "walked with too heavy a foot" -- that apparently, I made an awful racket whenever I took my seat in class. This, despite the fact that I was the smallest kid in my class.
  • I'm a longtime fan of martial arts films -- I've owned a collection of Bruce Lee movies for over 20 years; saw Jackie Chan films at an art house theater in Chicago years before they were dubbed and in wide release; and -- even though Bruce Lee had been passed over in favor of David Carradine -- was crazy about the series, Kung Fu. (Yet I've never, ever taken karate. Go figure.)
  • Though I'm right handed, I cannot snap the fingers of my right hand. At. All. Nor can I "drum" those fingers in any sort of coordinated fashion. However, those fingers on the left can do both beautifully.
  • The only fist fight I've ever been in (outside of those with siblings) was when I was ten, and it was over a stray cat. She was beautiful-- white with large black spots that made her look very much like a little cow. I'd found her, named her (Spot) and was caring for her, when the girl who lived next door decided she wanted to take the cat for herself. A scuffle ensued, ending quickly when I slugged her in the stomach.
  • In the 26 years I lived in New England, I never ate fish-- just couldn't stand the smell. Shortly after moving to the midwest, I acquired a taste for seafood-- beginning with the raw variety (sushi is still a favorite).
And since I'm so late on this, if you haven't been tagged already and would like to be, consider yourself tagged!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Beautiful Day

I promised that I'd fill you all in on the rest of my recent trip to Massachusetts.

(Yes, I know-- this is very late.)

Soooo, where did I leave off?

Ah, yes . . .

. . . after a fabulous evening of birthday festivities, an evening that went well into the wee hours, my sister and I awoke early the next morning and drove 45 minutes (to the fine state of Rhode Island) -- so that we could take a walk.

With 4,000 other people.

This beautiful, sunny October morning was all about Type 1 Diabetes-- my son's disease.

It was about walking with those who understand intimately what it's like to walk every day in our shoes.

And drawing strength from their massive numbers.

It was about hoping for something that seems so far away, but nonetheless, just a little more attainable because more than 4,000 individuals were reaching for it together.

My only regret is that Joseph was not there with us.

(Though he and I are already plotting next year's trip.)

So why did I -- a Wisconsinite -- decide to participate in the Rhode Island JDRF walk?

After all, the JDRF holds the same event at venues far closer to home.

Well, it seemed more than a bit charmed that this event coincided with my sister's birthday party weekend-- and that Team Six Until Me would be among the many teams walking.

That's right, the OC's own Kerri would be there-- along with her mom and stepdad, her boyfriend, Chris, and members of his family.

Now when you read Kerri's blog, you probably get the impression that she is a kind, joyful, intelligent, down-to-earth young woman.

Well, let me tell you...

... she is.

All that and more.

Walking and talking with this amazing person filled me with hope for my son's future-- with or without a cure.

If he can grow up to be half this wonderful, he'll be just fine.

Now, I also got to chat with Kerri's mom-- sharing a hug, the joy of having strong, healthy children, and the feeling that we'll never stop worrying about them.

That we both hate this disease.

And if that wasn't enough--

After completing our 5-mile walk, I watched with immense admiration as Kerri's mom marched right up to the Governor of the state of Rhode Island, who stood at the Finish Line distributing high fives, and queried him about his stance on stem cell research.

Yes, the apple didn't fall far from this wonderfully strong tree.

And what about Kerri's boyfriend?

I found Chris to be a thoughtful, funny, enthusiastic young man who is clearly smitten. The easy banter and knowing smiles they shared were telling.

Oh yes, I definitely approve the match.

An added treat was getting to talk with Chris about his wonderful film, An Uzi at the Alamo (which I highly recommend), and getting a verbal sneak peek into a couple of upcoming projects that I'd love to share here, but think it best that he be the one to unveil.

The only real disappointment of the day-- and it was a big one -- was that Nicole was unable to join us. I very much wanted to meet her-- not simply because she was instrumental in the whole surpise party plot, but because so many times she has written things here (and on her own site) that have moved me.

Yes, I'm taking a raincheck on at least one hug and a quiet talk with that young woman.

So there you have it.

Coming soon (unless of course, something more pressing comes up): An update on Joseph's ever-changing love life... and then, maybe, we'll be all caught up.