Monday, August 31, 2009

One Week Down

My foot on day seven.

So as you can see my ability to go adventuring has been somewhat curtailed. On the plus side this has allowed me to add a number of new plants and information to my plant blogs. I've also watched a lot of movies. More importantly, today is the last day of antibiotics so I'm hoping I can talk Misseswether into getting me some beer for tomorrow! Don't worry, I stopped taking the pain pills after day three. All they did was put me to sleep where I dreamed about how much my foot hurt. So not only was I having those dreams where I was naked and late for a test on a subject I didn't know but also my foot was on fire. I decided just to go with the real foot pain and skip the somnbulistic high-school nudity.

Well, that's pretty much all for now.

Adventure! Excitement! Watching the ceiling fan spin!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And now the pictures...

UPDATE: the lab results are back, Zog is dead! There was no sign that it had spread, the doc was able to remove all of it, no further treatment is needed. Woo hoo!

Cut here.

Turns out removing a 3cm ball of tissue requires a 2" long by 3/4" wide by 3/4" deep incision. And that requires 14 incredibly painful shots of Novocaine into the bottom of my foot.

Slice, probe, then slice some more.

Did I mention I am too tall to fit on the operating table? There wasn't enough room between my foot and the wall so the doc had me sit in an office chair with my foot up on the table.

Zog is (hopefully) gone!

This hurts more than you can imagine.

We won't know if Zog is really gone or not for almost a week. Due to the extreme aggressiveness of this type of melanoma the doc sent it out for expert appraisal. So, I'm still stuck waiting to learn if this is the end of Zog or if I have a deeper hell awaiting.

Now if you'll pardon me, I'm going to go pass out.

Adventure! Excitement! Two weeks of crutches!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Zog dies at noon!

Okay, in about an hour I'm heading to the hospital. The doc is first going to remove a large patch of skin off my chest where the basal cell carcinoma was followed by attacking Zog. He'll cut a 3cm ball of tissue out of my foot centered around Zog. next, he'll cut Zog in half to determine how deeply Zog penetrated into my flesh. If it's less than 1mm the doc will just patch the hole and send me home.

I'm hoping for that result.

If Zog is thicker than 1mm then suddenly life will get much more...invasive. I'm trying not to think about that result as a) it's not likely and b) it scares the heck out of me.

So anyway if you see this say a prayer or something for me. I'm hoping the doc will let me take pictures during the procedures. It's rare that one will, though. Well, I figure out some way to put up big, gruesome shots of the wounds. Y'all seem to really like that. :-O

Adventure! Excitement! Death to Zog!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Galveston Targeted

Being a member of the Texas Gulf Coast's only zombie suppression team means sometimes I have to do nasty stuff in nasty places.

And sometimes we go to the beach! Galveston, somewhat seedy before Hurricane Ike's devastation, is even worse now. The streets and beaches are mostly empty except for the occasional shuffling moaner. While many building have been repaired there still remains assorted piles of junk bulldozed into vacant lots and such.

This used to be a very famous hotel. Now? Zombies! Well, actually after this weekend I can safely say there are no zombies shuffling through it's hallways looking to eat the brains of the living.

Zombie Squad 014 travels in style!

The trip down to Galveston was uneventful though I was a little concerned about the Wethergirls. I had to bring them along as Misseswether was starting up the fall semester of Chinese school. Some of the other squad members also had kids along, so we just did what any loving parents would do...

Give them a big-ass cannon and tell them to shoot anything that shuffles.

Before the raid we rounded out our gear at Col. Bubbies authentic military surplus store. This place is loaded with the finest pre-Vietnam war canvas and leather goods, sharp pointy things, and the assorted detritus of third-rate armies all over the world. Being pretty well loaded to the gills with gear, all I was looking for was a German WWII butter dish to hold my Nutella.

Hey, when fighting zombies you better dang well keep your Nutella safe! This ultra-calorie-dense food product keeps the body fueled under even the most extreme zombie battle situations! The Germans knew this years ago and this technology still hasn't been improved upon.

I'll spare you the gruesome details of the Great Galveston Zombie Battle other than to say we won.

After fighting zombies it's time to eat! The squad spent a good two hours feasting on fine seafood-based meals at a local restaurant that asked that we never return.

Zombie Squad members in civies. No one ever suspects we are hard people doing hard things to keep them safe.

Plus, our kids are really cute. Deadly, but cute.
Not shown: a picture of my hamburger topped with fried shrimp and onion strings.

I promised my girls that if we all survived we'd go to the beach. Galveston beach has been voted one of the worst beaches in the world in numerous polls, but when you are only 3 and 6 it rocks!

Photographic proof that Miniwether can actually walk on water.

Mambowether. Is it possible to be any cuter? I don't think so.


The girls were really sad when it was time to leave. We had had a wonderful day and they weren't ready to be strapped in for the trip home. Luckily, knowing zombies I'm sure we'll be back.

Going home.

Adventure! Excitement! Cordite and Salt Water!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sweating Green

In light of upcoming events (DEATH TO ZOG!!!) this last weekend was spent drenched in sweat among plants. Saturday was spent in Ravenscar (aka my backyard) tearing up the last of the Asian jasmine ground cover in preparation of replacing it with assorted edible ground covers. Word of warning, Asian jasmine is a B*TCH to get rid of if you change your mind on it. I found the best way to do it was start at one end of the patch, lift it up, slice through the roots with my machete, role the cut jasmine up exposing more roots, then cut those. Clearing out the Lesser Tump in this manor left me with two wads of jasmine, each the size of a bathtub. I then had to chop these wads into garbage-bag-sized wads to dispose of them. I love my machete!

I had also planned on cutting down some waxleaf myrtles and a maple tree to give room for some orange trees and maybe a muscadine grapevine. However, the battle with the jasmine took up all my time, so the chainsaw is just sitting unused on the kitchen counter. Misseswether isn't too keen on that, but what can I do? A tool like that is too sweet to leave in the garage.

Sunday found me out at the Houston Arboretum getting ready for next week's edible wild plant class(es). Things are really ripening up out there, their grounds are filled with much yumminess. If you've been wanting to take a class on wild edible plants you better jump on this one. Depending on what happens with my foot on Aug. 24th it may be a while before I can walk backwards for hours again. After the next class classes will be put on hold until everything heals up.

Not much to report on Zog right now. He's still clinging to the bottom of my foot for another week, then out come the knives. Things look pretty good in the battle against Zog, it shouldn't take more than removing 1-2cm of tissue around it. Picture the doc going at my foot with a razor-sharp melon baller. After that it should only be a week or two of not using my foot. I plan on using that time to make more improvements on my edible wild plant blog.

Okay, I think it's about bedtime. Sweet dreams of a warm sun everyone.

Adventure! Excitement! Sweat!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Lucky Lucky Adventurer!

This probably saved my life.

So, there's been this funky patch of skin over my right clavicle for about two years. I kept looking at it thinking, "that might be skin cancer, I should have it checked out." Basal cell carcinomas run in my family (history's revenge for all the pillaging our Viking ancestors did) and Mommawether is always getting some patch shaved off. I finally made a dermatologist's appointment for last Thursday. It's always fun to go to a new doctor. They walk in, ask me to remove my shirt, and then their eyes bug out. My new skin doc didn't disappoint me there. The second words out his mouth were, "What the hell happened to you?!" We spent fifteen minutes discussing the scars on my head, chest, back, groin, arms, and legs, then got down to business.

"Yep" he said when I asked if the spot on my chest was skin cancer. "But as far as cancer goes, that's the type to have." He was pretty sure it's just a basal cell carcinoma. He was about to start going over the rest of my body but before he could I asked him to check out a spot on my foot. He seemed a little disgruntled that I was breaking his normal examination routine and took my foot with a slight frown.

As I watched, his frown increase causing furrows to form on his forehead.
"How long has this been here?" he asked.
"Pretty much forever, decades at least." I replied.

He didn't say anything else as he carefully checked every spot on my body. Finally he finished and sat back on his chair.

"The spot on your foot is most likely a melanoma. It is one of the most dangerous cancers there is, but if it's caught early there is an excellent survival rate, better than 90%. Luckily, yours is very small and should respond well to treatment. Normally melanomas on the feet are the worst, most aggressive type. Yours is only 7mm across at the widest. I feel it won't need anything more than surgically excising it and some of the surrounding tissue."

My melanoma. I named it Zog. DEATH TO ZOG!!

So anyway, later this month I'm going to have a 2cm-diameter ball carved out of my foot followed some time on crutches. With luck that'll take care of the issue and no further treatment will be needed. Plus side of all this is I'll be able to make a bunch more additions and improvements to my Wild Edibles Blog.

And now here is YOUR assignment: CHECK YOU FEET!
A popular method for remembering the signs and symptoms of melanoma is the mnemonic "ABCDE":

* Asymmetrical skin lesion.
* Border of the lesion is irregular.
* Color: melanomas usually have multiple colors.
* Diameter: moles greater than 6 mm are more likely to be melanomas than smaller moles.
* Enlarging: Enlarging or evolving

A weakness in this system is the D. Many melanomas present themselves as lesions smaller than 6 mm in diameter; and likely all melanomas were malignant on day 1 of growth, which is merely a dot. An astute physician will examine all abnormal moles, including ones less than 6 mm in diameter.

Like I said, mine is only 7mm at the widest point, so it's barely considered to be a melanoma. I got really, really lucky (I hope).

Adventure! Excitement! Death to Zog (and a few prayers, too)!!!

p.s. I debated a while as to whether or not I should post this. It seems so minor compared to the stage 4 lung cancer the wife of a close friend/fellow blogger is currently fighting. If anyone needs prayers it is her and her family. I decided to post this hoping that it'd help one of you catch this sort of thing real early, too. You know what to look for, now go look. Make it fun, check someone else!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Little Things vs. Water

Sometimes, I hate my life, but mostly it's good.
-The Psalm of the Common Man

Believe it or not, there are times when I'm stressed out, fed up, and shouting at the family. Being a dad means having kids which means things get broken, delayed, or suddenly expensive. Being a husband means sometimes being frustrated, nagged, or denied. Being a research scientist means reporting to "The Man" that it could be somewhere between six months and never before He sees a return on investment. Being an insomniac means the mind doesn't get the rest it needs. When it all comes together the results can be...unpleasant.

It kept trying to be an unpleasant weekend.

Everything seemed to be going wrong. Friday night I was only able to get two hours of sleep after an argument with Misseswether. Saturday I had promised the girls I'd take them kayaking, but the weather report that morning said waves of bad thunderstorms would be passing through all day. I didn't want to get caught on the water in a storm, so we had to find something else to do. Miniwether really wanted to go fishing so we decided to check out the fishing ponds at the newly-opened Pundt Park. This seemed like a great idea as they had a canoe/kayak launch on Spring Creek there. It's supposedly about an hour by water from the Riley Fuzzle launch to the launch at Pundt Park. I wanted to see exactly where the Pundt landing was so I could direct Misseswether there to pick me and my kayak there sometime.

The park is only five minutes from our house and arriving there it looked really nice. There's a great, covered playground there, nice bathrooms, numerous drinking fountains, and a number of trails leading off into the woods.

However, there were no maps showing where the fishing ponds and canoe launch were. We wandered around aimlessly in the hot (storm free!) sun for a while as I got madder and madder at the idiots in charge of the place. After about twenty minutes I got really fed up and dragged the Wethergirls out of there. We drove back to our neighborhood and went fishing in the retention pond instead.

Of course, things kept going wrong. Miniwether managed to get our lines all tangled up, the first time Mambowether caught a fish she panicked and threw my rod into the water, I had forgot my stringer, etc... Each little bump caused my blood pressure to rise and the vein in my head to throb.

On the plus side, fish!

Thankfully, there's something very healing about fishing. The thrill when the bobber goes down, the excitement when fish is landed, the squeals of delight from the girls (especially Miniwether) drove the red haze from my mind. We had a great time even though we used 24 worms to catch eight fish, of which only four were keepers.


My attempt at beer batter didn't work well but still tasted good.

Okra fresh from my garden and fried up in left0ver batter. Mmmmm!

Oh yeah, it never stormed or even rained here on Saturday. The weatherman was wrong again. Big surprise there.

Saturday night I did manage to double my sleep to four hours. The weather report was the same as Saturday (waves of thunderstorms) but I decided to take the girls kayaking anyway. They had been begging to go for quite a while. This was somewhat odd coming from Mambowether as the one time last year I had tried taking her out in Firefly she screamed and bawled in fear the whole time. Miniwether actually wanted to go fishing again but agreed that kayaking would be almost as much fun. I gave them a list of stuff they needed to do while I loaded up the truck. After a while I went back into the house and found they had filled the living room with toys and were happily playing.

That wasn't on the list.

After "discussing" this with them they got there stuff together while I dug out the life jackets out of the garage...and discovered a bottle of pesticide had leaked all over Miniwether's.

Let's just say I used the word "Dammit".

So after getting everything loaded up and ready we had to stop and buy Miniwether a new life jacket. It was already getting late so at least the sporting goods store was open...but they were out of life vest in Miniwether's size. They had plenty of bigger and smaller ones, just not the 50-90 pound vests. I finally found an opened, old-school life preserver. Of course, it wasn't in the store's computer and they had to do a price check. Throb throb throb went the vein in my head.

Eventually we were back on the road heading towards North Shore Park. As I drove over the Lake Woodland's bridge I could see assorted canopies and giant inflatable bouncy-houses being set up at our destination and the road leading up to the park was lined with parked cars.

Throb throb throb.

Worse, a sheriff was blocking entrance to the park. Turns out today was the big watermelon festival there.


Figuring "nothing ventured blah blah blah" I drove up to the sheriff and asked if I could still park there if all I planned to do was go paddling. He stared at me and the girls a bit then told us, "Yeah, go on in but if you aren't out by noon you'll be trapped in there until evening."

It was 10:20am. Wonderful.

I drove in and carefully maneuvered my truck through tents and bouncy-houses until I was close enough to carry Firefly over to the dock. I told the girls to go play with the ducks while I unloaded the kayak and gear.

Life jackets...check
Drinking water...check

In my frustrated haste I had forgotten to load my &*@%+ paddle!

Okay, Misseswether was going to stop by later to take pictures me and the girls in Firefly before heading out shopping. I gave her a call and ask that she drop everything and run my paddle out to us. Thankfully she did exactly that (leaving a half-eaten pancake behind)! I figured she might have problems convincing the sheriff to let her into the park, so I dragged the Wethergirls back to the entrance and hung out there waiting for her to arrive. I figured she could at least hand me the paddle before being chased off by the lawman. The sheriff just laughed and waved her in when she saw she was bringing me my paddle.


Missewether snapped pictures of us while we tested out the seating arrangements, then sat on shore sketching in her journal while we headed out into the green-gray waters of Lake Woodlands. We paddled past ducks, we paddled past a dead fish, we paddled past other paddlers. My anger, frustration, and stress melted away. There really is no better thing than mucking about in boats...

Us, mucking.

Look! No anger, frustration, or stress!

Sidenote: Firefly handled beautifully with all three of us on board. I would say even better than with me alone. She tracked straight as an arrow and was wonderfully stable, perfect for a family outing.

Sadly, we had less than an hour to paddle and soon were back on shore loading everything up. Home, a change of clothes, then off to McDonalds for a special family treat. After that we swung by the sporting goods store and bought Mambowether her very own fishing pole. She promised not to throw it into the water if she catches a fish.

Adventure! Excitement! Anger-Water Therapy!