Sunday, January 22, 2012


Facebook. It is the social media website that has connected people from all over the world. We use it to get in touch with friends we haven’t seen since grade school, or high school, or college. We use it as an extra way to stay in touch with the people we are already close to, such as neighbors, siblings, and friends who live near and far. Parents use it stay in touch with their children, whether those children still live at home, are off at college, or are grown and living on their own. Many people use it to check up on ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends. It has become a part of everyday conversations, a topic of discussion around the water coolers throughout the world.

Since its inception, Facebook has undergone a number of changes and facelifts. Some of the changes were subtle, others not so subtle. Many users comment on the changes just as much as they comment on their friend’s posts. They complain about the myriad of changes that have occurred, such as the News Feed or the Timelines. And yet, they still log on every day, sometimes multiple times a day, just to see what’s going on. People love it, yet at the same time they seem to hate it.

I admit it - I love it.

Geographically, my extended family is scattered all over the place. I’ve lived in Ohio all of my life, but I have family who live in Alaska, Florida and Cozumel, Mexico – among other places. To be honest, I haven’t seen most of my cousins since I was a toddler and some of them I’ve never met at all. But I’m curious about them. I want to know what they’re up to. Shortly before going on vacation last summer I decided to email my aunt, who lives in Florida with my 90-year-old grandfather. I wanted to know how she was, how my grandpa was doing and what was going on with my cousins. Following that email, my aunt and I connected on Facebook. Through that connection, I found my cousin Opal. She and I emailed each other and also corresponded on Facebook. I found out that she owned a dive shop in Cozumel and she told me to check out her website. I marveled at the beautiful pictures, many of them underwater shots that showed her on various dives with customers and friends.

A few weeks after reconnecting, the girls and I left to make the trek to an army base in South Carolina. We were headed to see John before he embarked on the next stage of his military training. I remember sitting outside a little restaurant in the hills of West Virginia, halfway through the long drive. I posted our plans on Facebook as we were sitting underneath an umbrella, enjoying dinner before heading to the hotel for the night. A few minutes later, my phone beeped. I was getting notifications about a comment on my Facebook post. It was Opal, and she was curious about our journey. We commented back and forth for a while. The girls asked me why I was smiling at my phone. I told them I was on Facebook with my cousin who lives in Mexico. They thought that was pretty cool. So did I. 

This connection meant even more to me when tragedy struck a few months later. It was Labor Day weekend. Opal was in a scuba accident. She was treated at a hospital in Mexico but needed more specialized trauma care that could only be provided in the U.S. She was flown to a Florida hospital. Family and friends rallied around her and provided support in different ways. My aunt, who was by her side day and night at the hospital, relayed information as much as she could. A close friend of Opal’s created a Facebook page for her and the people who were in the accident with her. Updates on their conditions were posted along with pleas for help in the form of money and prayers. People from all over the world, myself included, waited for word. We cheered when it seemed Opal was making progress. We cried when there were setbacks. Unfortunately, the injuries she sustained were too much for her to overcome and her body gave out. My cousin died a few weeks after the accident. Again, I cried. I was just starting to get to know her as an adult and a friend, and now I wasn’t going to get that chance after all.

I am so glad that I connected with my cousin when I did. I only wish I would have done it sooner. This tragedy is yet another reminder that tomorrow might not come for some people. And while it has been a devastating blow to all who knew her, it has also been a time for connecting. I am now in touch with a few more of my cousins and other people who were close to Opal. Through the pictures they post on Facebook, I see her beautiful smile and her vivacious personality. I’ve learned about the group of friends she surrounded herself with in Cozumel and how they evolved into a family even though they weren’t related. I’ve learned she and I had more in common than we ever knew. I have some pictures of my own of her, from when we were much younger. I haven’t posted them on Facebook yet, but I will soon. I looked at them the other day, smiling but with tears in my eyes, wishing I had more pictures of her. Wishing she had more time with friends and family.

So say what you want about Facebook. Complain about the never-ending changes, complain about the lack of privacy, complain about the amount of time you spend on there. But I won’t be complaining. Instead, I’m grateful. It has allowed me to connect with friends and family, it has allowed me to get to know people who live far outside the realm of my tiny Ohio town. It has allowed a family, a family who is far-flung across the globe, a family who has been touched by tragedy, to connect, to grieve and to laugh. And for that, I am thankful for Facebook, changes and all. After all, change is simply part of life. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Just a Rant.

Earlier today I was perusing through the local headlines on my trusty iPhone. I generally do this every morning while I drink my coffee. Sometimes I laugh at the headlines, other times I want to cry. Today’s headlines just disgusted me. And I’m not even referring to the political ones. The world of politics and most of whom inhabit it obviously have their own set of rules and have perfected the art of being callous assholes (and the art of hypocrisy) to astonishingly high levels. But I digress.

The common thread in today's headlines is greed. The greed of some people, especially those who have been placed in a position that is synonymous with trust. For example, McLin Funeral Home. According to the Dayton Daily News, McLin’s license has been permanently revoked; in part due to at least $100,000 that's missing. That money was paid to the funeral home from people who had the forethought to prepay for their funerals or the funerals of their loved ones. However, it looks like the funeral home can’t come up with the money and doesn’t know where it is. 

My ass.

How can you lose $100,000? (Makes me wonder if they took business lessons from Raleigh Trammell, another fine upstanding local businessman.) Of course, the problems don’t end there. According to the DDN, this funeral home also neglected to pick up a body from the coroner’s office for three weeks, held another body for ransom (meaning they wouldn’t release the body for burial until they were paid…wait, what? Who the hell does that? Oh that’s right, McLin Funeral home, obviously.) Let me tell you my theory – I think many of the customers of this particular funeral home are probably on the lower income scale. People who are in a position of power or trust often get the idea that they can take advantage of people who might not know any better or probably don’t have the means to fight them. Quite honestly I think that’s what happened here and it’s vile. 

But the headlines don’t stop there.

Some hilljack in Huber Heights (no offense to others that live Huber, not all of them are hilljacks) stole over $4000 after a sporting event a few months ago. Really? You’re stealing from a school? From children? That makes you a special kind of stupid. That’s a lot of money to those of us who work for a living instead of stealing. Now it seems the athletic director (who is also the coach for the team that played in this particular sporting event) is the one who is going to be responsible for paying the money back. That guy was COACHING his team and had nothing to do with the receipts or the money that was being collected – yet because of someone else’s greed, he is the one who ultimately has to pay the money back. Nice. Penalize the people who are helping kids and teaching them skills that they will use for the rest of their lives. 

I can only hope the people who stole the money from the school went to McClin Funeral Home and prepaid for their funeral. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Another Day, Another Doctor's Office

I had my week all planned out. I even used the Reminders app on my phone to remind me what project to start and at what time. For example, on Monday I was to read 60 pages of "The Dancing Wu Li Masters" - a little (ok, not so little) book about physics. I was also to write a few articles in between lunch with a friend, enjoy a minor cleaning spree and of course, tend to the never ending laundry. As Mondays go, it was pretty mellow. But per usual in life, the shit has to hit the fan sometimes. Tuesday was one of those days....

Tuesday morning Biddle woke up complaining of stomach pain. And she refused to eat breakfast. To tell you the truth, that's when I started worrying a little bit because Biddle is what we like to call a "good eater" (aka human trash compacter). After dropping Pie off at her school, Biddle and I came home and I got her situated on the couch. I tried to push fluids but she was not interested. She had a slight fever and seemed tired, so I sat with her and watched one of her favorite shows - TLC's A Baby Story. (Yes, my 5y.o. likes medical shows and babies, so that show is perfect for her.)

Anyway, as the day progressed so did her fever. When it reached 102, I called the pediatricians office and they told me that although our regular pediatrician wasn't available, there was another one we could see. So after a brief nap, I woke Biddle up and off to the doctor's office we went.

The new (to us) doctor seemed very nice and listened (I think) to me as I spouted off my daughter's convoluted and miraculous medical history. At one point she had Biddle lie down on the exam table and she proceeded to push on her stomach. Biddle would alternate between laughing and saying "Ow", which is pretty much what I would do if someone was pressing my innards down into my spine. She decided that appendicitis might be the culprit.

We were sent to a lab connected with the local children's hospital (which is not affiliated with where Biddle had her transplant) and she told us not to leave until the lab called her with the results. Anyone who knows anything about these places realizes that you are sitting there with a 25 sick children who are running around playing with toys while they hack, cough, and sneeze all over everything in a 25 feet radius. Not so fun for a mother who has an immunosuppressed kid who already feels like shit. After a not so warm reception from one of the worker bees, we were told it was going to be a while. That's code for "you'll wait at least an hour while we attempt to get our paperwork together and leave you to sit with people who don't know how to control their children in public". Super.

Finally we were called back into the ultrasound room. The exam was uneventful and we were led to assume that appendicitis was not the cause of Biddle's illness. As I was sitting in the waiting room again I received a text from the Hubs, aka babydaddy. The pediatrician's office had called the house to let him know that the ultrasound did not show any appendicitis weirdness. Now mind you, the pediatrician had told me we had to wait until someone from the lab called her with the results before we were allowed to leave. (Although the doc had not been officially called, the pediatrician's office had seen the results online through their interoffice intraweb. Lovely.) When the worker bee finally called me over to the counter to let me know she was calling the doc, I told her I knew the ultrasound was clear. She looked at me like I had two heads and demanded to know how I knew that. I told her what the hubs told me and she just shook her head. "Well, if they were going to call you guys with results, what do we have to call the doctor for?" I had no answer for that but waited while she made the call. I then asked about labs and they told me they hadn't received orders for anything other than an ultrasound. By that point we had been at the lab for well over 2 hours and I was ready to go home, as was Biddle. But then they found the order and told me that more labs had been ordered by Biddle's liver docs in Cincy. Odd, because I had also been keeping them aware of the situation but they had not told me they were adding labs, just that they wanted the results of what the pediatrician had already ordered.

After the phlebotomist stuck Biddle twice before she managed to take the blood, we were sent home. Biddle seemed in slightly better spirits, so I decided to go to class after I dropped her off. It was the first meeting in my Tuesday night class and I really wanted to go although I was going to be an hour late. I made it to class (I'm so glad I went, it'll be a great class) and then started driving home around 8pm. On the way, I again talked to one of Biddle's liver doctors to give him an update, as neither the lab nor the pediatrician had bothered to call him with any results. At the same time, someone from the pediatricians office called the house and told the hubs to get Biddle to the ER immediately. He knew enough to ask about lab results and called me. In yet another phone call to Cincy liver doctors, I relayed what the hubs told me. The liver doctor said he would attempt to get all the results from the lab (they are automatically supposed to send all results to Cincy, but someone had neglected to do so) and then call me back. By the time I got a call back I was at home. He gave me lab results and said that Biddle most likely was fighting off a virus. She didn't need to go to the ER and btw, her liver numbers looked great.

Today, Biddle bounced out of bed and has been almost back to normal - full of p&v. Per the request of the liver doc I talked to last night, I called to update our transplant coordinator. End of story, or so I thought. However, later in the afternoon someone from the pediatrician's office called me to let me know we were expected at the ER last night and we had not shown up. When I explained that I had gotten a second opinion via Biddle's liver doctors and it was decided by them that a trip to the ER was unnecessary, she seemed offended. Oops, I'm an involved and informed parent who knows her child. Deal with it.

I believe all this stress has added some gray hairs to my head, but lucky for me I get re-blonded every six weeks so I don't have to see evidence of them. And today I made up for the lost time and attempted to get caught up on my reading assignments - between loads of laundry. Oh the life of a mom....