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I get my second annual MRI of my kidneys tonight, and I’m scared.

It’s no ordinary MRI. If you’re a science-nerd, which I am only the latter half of, it’s a pretty cool test actually. When it’s done, I will have two very thorough 3-dimensional images of both my kidneys in all their polycystic glory to share with family and friends. Last year, I printed them out and physically showed everyone. I was like the chick showing off her brand new boob implants at her first post-surgical frat party. This year, I might even post them on Facebook (my kidneys, not my boobs).

Now, if you’re not a science-nerd, I must warn you that the images might turn your stomach, but that fact doesn’t make the results any less interesting. The test will show my kidney volumes and give some insight about my cysts, their quantity and quality (for lack of a better word). I had the first test done a year ago. It told me the then status of my kidneys. This one will tell my current status and, when compared to that one, my kidneys’ rate of digression. It should also give me a sneak peek into my future… or at least the future of my kidneys.

While I’ve been looking forward to this for a year, part of me doesn’t want to know. But, I need to know.

I say I’ve been looking forward to it, but the test itself is no fun. Laying flat on a table, strapped down, practically naked, inside a tube, alone, arms crossed above the head, claustrophobia sets in rather quickly. At least they let you select your own music. But choose carefully because you’ll be stuck with it. Last year, I requested the Grateful Dead but had to settle for the Doors. My advice: don’t settle for the Doors when you’re going to be confined inside a coffin-esque box. While I love the Doors, scary, depressing places, like coffins and MRI machines, are probably not their best venue.

Here come the instructions. Stay still. Don’t swallow. Breathe in. Hold it. Hold it. Hold it. Exhale. Repeat on command for approximately 45 minutes – longer if I accidentally breathe or swallow or move ever so slightly when told not to do so.

Why does my nose always itch during times like these?? Also, why is it so damn cold in here? This paper nightgown isn’t doing a thing for that situation! And, why must the machine scream at me? This was already scary enough without the sound of metal scraping metal. It sounds like a car accident. Are you sure this thing is safe? That reminds me. Why exactly did the tech ask if I have any metal in my body? I quickly responded, “No.” But, am I really sure? Oh God! And, I’ve had to pee from the moment they strapped me down. Yes, I went before I got here! Hello, I have kidney disease. I always have to pee. This process would be better if it included a pee break. Just one. That’s all I’m asking.

Finally, it’s over. Hurry up and get me out of this thing! Get dressed. Go home.

Then, there’s more waiting. After waiting a full year to take this test, it will take three more weeks to get the results. Three long agonizing weeks. Does anything take that long these days? Last year, I discovered that three weeks is the precise amount of time it takes to drive yourself completely insane, if you haven’t already driven yourself there long ago. Here we go again.

I have a few things to fill my time… toddler, writing, Zumba, toddler, writing, Zumba… There are other people, places and things too obviously that will fill my time (family, friends, work, sleep, school, yoga, meditation, compulsively reading my horoscope…), to distract me, and to help me through this. My family and friends are wonderful. They will help happily without even realizing they’re helping.

I have my life to live and for that I am extremely grateful, but the waiting for what I don’t yet know will always be there in the back of my mind.

I can do it.

I will do it.

Now, excuse me, I have to pee.

I Look Great Drunk

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It was recently brought to my attention that I look great drunk. I don’t mean to brag…

OK, stop it. I didn’t say I’m more attractive when you’re drunk. I have no idea whether or not your alcohol consumption has any direct or indirect link or influence (so to speak) on my appearance or your perception of my appearance. I’d like to think that a few drinks in either direction wouldn’t entirely change how I look to you.

But, if a drink helps, well, then drink up!

This isn’t to say that I think I look awful sober or anything. It’s just that I look more attractive while intoxicated. It’s true. Pictures don’t lie and while flipping through hundreds of them (not all of myself, I promise) the other day, I started seeing the pattern.

Granted, it took me a while to identify the actual pattern because I’d had a few drinks (not true).

Anyway, the photos in which I was either holding a drink, in a setting where drinks were being served or clearly slightly-to-somewhat-more-than-slightly (I’m 1/2 Irish, but aren’t we all?) inebriated were notably more attractive than the no drink, dry setting and sober selections.

I even asked my husband to confirm my theory and (after first confirming that it wasn’t a “does my butt look big in these jeans?” type trick question) he actually kind of agreed.

What can I say? I’m a good-looking drunk! It seems, the alcohol may have given me a glow of sorts, an unexplainable airy quality, a certain gin-es sequa, if you will.

In layman’s terms, I looked hot.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and when I was beholding a margarita (on the rocks with salt, please!), I was looking (and feeling) quite fine.

It’s hard to say for sure, but I imagine this phenomenon probably has more to do with the increased level of confidence and reduced inhibition that comes with having a cocktail (or two) than the actual alcohol itself. And, while I admit there weren’t any photos of me stumbling, falling to the floor, completely shit-faced, ‘where the hell am I and how did I get here?’ drunk, I doubt those pictures would have been as attractive. I probably wouldn’t have saved them either.

While few and far between, I’m sure I’ve had those moments (i.e., college, 21st b-day, every St. Patty’s Day and New Year’s Eve for as far back as I can recall, my NBA going away party, my 20s). Luckily, my friends and family were never so mean as to snap and save blackmail shots of me. Or, maybe they were too drunk to remember where they put them? Either way, phew!

Now, before you jump to any conclusions… I’m not planning on adding beer run to my weekly To Do list or making daily trips to the liquor store to improve my outward appearance. I have enough to do already, and besides, it’s just not a priority for me these days.

Being a mom, my outward appearance is more about sweat pants, headbands and hair clips. I’m satisfied with that. My satisfaction increases exponentially when I manage to make it through a whole day without getting pooped on, peed on, or covered in apple juice. But, had I discovered this link between beauty and binging 10 or so years ago, perhaps I’d have been singing a different tune. Of course, I didn’t need a reason to drink back then.

These days, the drinks are even fewer and further between (and thank God, so are the pictures). As a full time writer and stay at home mom, coffee is more often my beverage of choice (and necessity). Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy the occasional cocktail and the even-less-occasional buzz. But, now, I’m happily married and the mommy to a very sweet and mischievous toddler. Most days, I’d choose a shower or a nap over a drink.

Besides, since becoming a mom, my tolerance (the one I worked on for many, many years) has diminished. Back in the day, I was proud to say I could hold my liquor. Hell, I could hold yours too! To this day, every time I see an ice sculpture, I remember the days when I’d happily step up to the ice luge, ready and willing to take a shot of Jim Beam. Yep, I was that girl! I laughed at the notion of being hung over, and I could drink most of my friends, guys included, under the table (or even over the table when properly challenged).

It’s been a long time since I’ve attended a party with an ice luge. In fact, the last seven parties I’ve attended each had balloons, bubbles, ice cream and cake instead. I honestly can’t recall the last time I was challenged to a drinking game of any kind. And, that’s OK!

I’ll happily work the bubble machine, instead of the funnel. I’ll make cupcakes instead of Jell-o shots. And, as for “quarters,” well, it’s no longer a game. It’s a choking hazard. We try to keep those and all small objects as far out of our daughter’s reach as possible.

These days, I have a completely different list of priorities. I’m someone’s mom! She tops that list, and you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing.

Plus, I’m a much cheaper date. I still look great, but it only takes one drink to get me there.


A Wii for me? You shouldn’t have!


In addition to flowers, cards and candy, my husband got me a Wii for Valentine’s Day. I’d wanted (dropped hints, begged and practically drew a treasure map for) a basic Zumba DVD. Being a good man, he naturally went the extra step, getting me the Wii and Wii Zumba. Even though he claimed they were from our 1-yr-old daughter, I knew better.

I was immediately grateful and blown away by its extravagance. Admittedly, I was a tad intimidated. I’m technology-challenged and have been since birth. I was convinced I’d break it trying to remove it from the box. So, once he removed it from the box and properly installed it for me, it was on! And, it has remained on ever since.

It started with Zumba, the original reason for the gift. I loved it from the very first Calypso and wanted (needed) more!! So, we bowled a round. That was fun. He won the first. I won the second. Best two out three? OK! Before we knew it, we were 100 pin bowling with matching shirts! Then, out of curiosity, we checked out Wii boxing. The rush of adrenaline got the best of me, and I knocked out my opponent in the third round. I kicked his Wii ass, and it felt so good! An old friend said, “You can take the girl out of Kensington, but you can’t take the Kensington out of the girl.” If you’re from Philly, you will understand.

Now, in addition to Zumba, bowling and boxing, I’ve been partaking regularly in Wii basketball, tennis, golf (I’m good at Wii golf, like pre-sex scandal Tiger Woods good), skydiving, badminton (honestly, I just like saying ‘shuttlecock’), fencing, various water and air sports, Frisbee, cycling and even baseball (the sport I hate most in real life).

I have had to come to terms with the fact, rather quickly, that I’m currently addicted to Wii.

And, so is my husband.

Seriously, he and I may need to go to Wii counseling or have a Wii intervention. I wonder if they have a Wii patch for this sort of thing? It’s spiraling out of control, and more than just a Wii bit.

It’s not just about us. We live on the top floor, and I feel bad for torturing our neighbors below. I recall past years when we did not live on the top floor, when we had noisy upstairs’ neighbors. We were at their mercy. Back then, I’d find myself wondering out loud if those people had built a bowling alley in their living room. That’s what it sounded like. Of course, that was long before the Wii’s time. Now, suddenly, we are those people! And, thanks to Wii, we (or wii) actually have a bowling alley in our living room whenever we feel like bowling… Our poor neighbors!

But not just a bowling alley, we also have a dance floor, hockey rink, boxing ring, tennis court, among other things. For over a week now, wii’ve been bowling, stomping, dancing, boxing, jumping, and even wave running above them… every… single… day… and night!

Through this experience, I’ve learned some new things about myself and my husband. For example, I had no idea that he was so good at tennis! Nine years, and you think you know someone. Also, I rediscovered that we share a similar competitive, adventurous spirit. I’ve always known that, but it’s nice being reminded. And, clearly, I’m not the only obsessive one in this relationship. He loves the Wii just as much as me, probably more. The Wii was, after all, his idea. At one point, he even thanked me for “letting” him keep it.

In learning about us, I’ve also figured out why it’s called a Wii.

Here’s my Top 10:

  1. It makes you say, “Wiiiiiiiiiiiii!”
  2. After playing non-stop for six hours, I realized I’d better stop to go wii or I might wii my pants.
  3. Whenever I leave the room, hii tries to sneak in a quick solo game, proving this Wii was not just a gift for mii.
  4. Wii want (NEED) more Wii games ASAP!
  5. Playing as a team, wii rock!
  6. Playing against each other, wii are waaaay too competitive!
  7. Wii go “Wii, wii, wii, all the way home to play our Wii.” It’s kind of sad, really. But, it’s winter. Ooh, Wiinter!
  8. After playing all night for four consecutive nights, wii really need to get some sleep.
  9. Wii are way too old for this. Please pass the Ben Gay.
  10. Wii need help… professional help… and perhaps a second Wii controller.



Last night, Jason took a wrong turn but it ended up so right.

Since he was already way out of his way, he decided to stop at a place he spotted called Lucky Boy Restaurant in Lawrence, New York and pick up dinner. We’d never been there before, but for whatever reason, he decided to check it out. It’s a small, out of the way, hole in the wall type place, the ones that are almost always good. Greek food, family owned. He made a few standard selections for us to split: salad, hummus, pita, dolmades (my fave!) and a stuffed eggplant dish that LUCKILY never made it into the bag.

Call it fate or kismet or simple good luck, but as he turned to leave, just before opening the door, he spotted the most beautiful, decadent, fresh, homemade coconut custard pie sitting all alone and uncut on the counter. My husband isn’t into sweets (or so he says), but even he couldn’t resist this. Thank God!

“My wife will kill me if I leave without a slice of that pie,” he claims he said as he turned back.

“Did you really say that?” I replied laughing later as I listened to his rendition of the story.

“No, but I thought it.”

I’ve always had a thing for smart guys (and pie).

Seriously, I love pie. Not all pie. Most pies actually suck, in my opinion. They can be dry, tasteless, boring. They are often either too sweet or not sweet enough. But, when you spot a good one, and you’ll know it when you do, for the sake of all that is good in the world, please promise me that you won’t let it get away. This one wasn’t just good. It was exceptional.

As he arranged the takeout containers onto our kitchen counter and prepared our plates, I spotted it. Would you believe he tried to hide it from me? But, it was too late. It was love at first sight. Toasted coconut sprinkled atop a heaping mound of cream so decadent and divine, I was drooling before it was out of the clear plastic container.

“Let’s have dinner first,” he urged.

OK, fine. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the pie. Sure, I begrudgingly (and quickly) ate my salad. It and the rest of the food were good too. Really good actually, but let’s get back to the pie.

Finally, it was time for pie!

With our daughter content watching Dora and eating dinner in her high chair in the other room, he and I hovered in the kitchen over the sink and took turns going at it. One pie, one fork. It was lustful, forbidden and maybe even a tad naughty. It was so wrong, but it felt so right!

The best part? Well, the pie itself was the best part. But, the second best part was the eggplant dish that never made its way into the bag. Why? Because it gives us a reason to return. Of course, we won’t be fooling anyone. The true reason will be the pie.

I’ve been informed (by a very trustworthy and incredibly attractive, funny and witty source) that they have the exact same pie but in chocolate -yes, CHOCOLATE (is it just me, or do you hear that choir of angels singing “Halleluiah?”)!!

If you ever find yourself in (or anywhere near or even nowhere near) Lawrence, New York, please don’t miss the chance to try the world’s best coconut custard pie. Even if you hate coconut or custard or even pie (what’s wrong with you??!), please stop and take a slice home with you.

And, by all means, share it with your wife!! You won’t regret it. It’s so delicious, it might even change your life.

Nipple Cream Makes the Best Lip Balm

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I breastfed my daughter for six months.

One of the pros of breastfeeding, aside from the obvious good it does the baby, is saving money. Well, that’s what they say anyway. While this may have been true at one time, it’s hardly true today. My husband and I invested a small fortune in breastfeeding. From pumps to storage systems to special bras and bra inserts to all sorts of accessories (pads, creams, gels, ointments). We even bought something called a breast stool, which despite its name is actually for feet. Anyway, you name it and we had to have it.

I say “we” because he, my husband Jason, played a huge role in my ability to breastfeed our daughter. It sounds funny to say but without his support, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. From day one, I struggled. I struggled with latching and then unlatching. The pain was unbelievable. My nipples bled. They cracked. They bled more. I hung in there. My daughter bit me every time she nursed. The milk turned Pepto Bismol pink! Still, I hung in there. It was important to me. Jason knew that, and so it was important to him.

I’m obsessive by nature and a glutton for punishment (this explains many things in my life). Being together for 9+ years and counting, he obviously knows this about me. As always, he helped me every step of the way. He provided emotional and, at times, even physical support. During my third trimester, he took a breastfeeding class with me! When our baby arrived, he helped in every way imaginable. While he couldn’t do the main task for obvious mechanical reasons, of which we are both grateful, he did more than his fair share. At one point, I fell asleep while he worked the pump (get your mind out of the gutter, people!).

Then, a few months later, I got sick. I tried to ignore a fever for 30 days. I was hospitalized. While the doctors struggled to diagnose me (Polycystic Kidney Disease, we later learned), they treated me for every disease and ailment imaginable. It was like being on an episode of the TV show House. While they worked hard to figure out what was wrong with me, I continually slipped in and out of consciousness and fought the worst fever of my life. They were baffled by my symptoms, so I was quarantined – on lockdown in the infectious disease ward. Due to risk of illness and unidentified potentially contagious diseases, visitors were told not to touch me. My daughter, who was just 3 months old at the time, was not permitted to visit.

It was horrible.

I was determined to continue breastfeeding. Since I wasn’t allowed to see, hold or touch my baby, it was my strongest connection to her. So, from my hospital bed, I pumped and stored my milk every day. And, every night, when visiting hours ended, my husband drove the milk home to our daughter. For 6 days, I was poked, prodded and tested for everything under the sun. The cocktail of antibiotics, pain killers, fever reducers and blood thinners grew and grew. Each individually was “OK” for breastfeeding, they told me. But I was concerned.

“What about the combination?” I asked.

They were confused by my question. So, rather than risk it, I opted to pump and dump for fear my daughter would pay the price. In case you’re not familiar, pumping and dumping is pretty self explanatory. Pump the milk. Then dump it. It’s a method passed down from mommy to mommy, primarily so mommies can partake in the occasional cocktail. A good friend had told me about it during my pregnancy to sell me on breastfeeding. She had me at margarita.

It sounded easy enough, and I couldn’t wait to try it. Unfortunately, my first postpartum cocktail was in the hospital. And, my first experience with pumping and dumping was way outside the recreational happy hour context. In fact, it wasn’t happy at all. For me, it was heartbreaking. Aside from the aforementioned financial investment, breastfeeding also requires a huge emotional and mental commitment. Dumping milk that was meant to provide sustenance and nourishment for my baby? Well, it hurt far more than the biting ever could.

Many of my friends and family advised me to give up on breastfeeding altogether. It wasn’t worth the agony, they’d say. But, I wasn’t so sure. Trying to comfort me, they’d tell me I’d tried hard enough. Um, have we met? After being diagnosed with PKD and released from the hospital’s infectious disease ward, which I later learned was the worst place for a kidney patient with a compromised immune system, I continued to pump and dump for a full month before being able to get back into the game. But, I got there… because I’m obsessive, remember?

Then, a few months later, I got sick again. Stress. Fatigue. Dehydration. These things added up, and I eventually threw in the towel. Basically, I dried up. It certainly wasn’t for lack of trying. I was producing less than 4 ounces of milk in a whole day, while pumping every 2 hours around the clock, 7 days per week. I went from supplementing formula to supplementing breast milk. My body wasn’t cooperating and after an emotional rollercoaster, I finally gave up.

I had to admit to myself that I couldn’t continue physically. My body wouldn’t let me. It was hurting me more than it was helping my daughter. Sure, I could produce plenty of blood, sweat and tears but not milk?! Why?? What a joke!

I felt like a failure.

It may seem silly, but I had to forgive myself. Once I realized that my daughter was as healthy and happy as could be on formula as she was on breast milk, I felt better. I suddenly had more time to play with her and for other things like sleep! Eventually, the hormones shifted back into place, I was me again and I was able to truly appreciate all that I’d experienced as a new mother. Even though my original goal was to nurse my daughter for (at least) a full year, I was grateful for being able to have done it for as long as I did. Sure, it was painful and expensive but it was also wonderful while it lasted.

I eventually moved on to other obsessions. For example, I still refuse to accept the fact that we invested all that money for a mere six months. Come hell or high water, I’m going to get our money’s worth out of it!

This is the reason I currently use my breast stool when I need a boost to reach out-of-reach things, and why I occasionally use leftover Milk Screen alcohol test strips when I’ve had a few glasses of champagne. It’s why I know that breast pads make excellent coasters (they’re very absorbent & they stay put!) and that breast milk storage containers work just as well when freezing adult food. And, perhaps most valuable of all, it’s why I know that nipple cream makes the best lip balm!

I still haven’t found an alternate use for my breast pump yet, but I’m working on it.