How My Elbow Became Famous, and Why We Need to Review Appropriate Birthday Presents

Part One: in which I have a birthday near the end of October, and get many appropriate presents, and one randomly inappropriate present that everyone else wants…really really badly.

My birthday started well.

The two candles: my mom didn’t have a fire extinguisher handy to deal with the potential blow back of my real age. (Or my mom likes to remind me I’m really only two, and could grow up?)

She knew I was coming, so she baked a cake.  Thanks Mom!
Chocolate. FROSTING. Does my mom know me, or what?!? And yes, there is a cloth hamburger on her table. It’s Jane’s MOM. Who else would decorate with cloth hamburgers?

Shaun gave me pajamas. With ZEBRA socks. Pink, fuzzy, happy, zebra socks.

I could live my entire life in pajamas. I think most of the world’s problems could be solved by making the Leaders of The Free World wear bunny slippers and Spiderman PJ’s to work.

And…the birthday gift that keeps on giving.  Hudson. Thank you Shaun, Micah, and Lee Lee!

What? I'm up here. Please. Go on. Rub my knee some more.
What? I’m up here. Please. Go on. Rub my knee some more. Where ARE you going with this, BTW…?

Bella, Daisy, and Alice got together and made me cry. On purpose. And I liked it.

Made from hair stealthily swiped from Hudson’s tail. So I could have him with me always. Don’t tell Shaun? But right up there with my wedding ring. *sniff*  Exquisite work, Tail Spin!

My favorite things in the world. Frosting, Family, Friends, Familiars*.

Being loved is the best gift of all.

*Familiars: couldn’t think of a positive word for equines that started with an F. The only thing that came to mind rhymed with “trucking”. Hudson developed a terrible case of mud-less scratches that need a lot of staring, poking, soaking, drying, patting and rubbing of 6 different creams in a weekly rotation. Horses. I’m avoiding the word…”truck”.

My body decided to jump into the gift giving Fray. (Hey look, I’m on an F roll.)

Ta Da! Below is  how Jane’s body sings “Happy Birthday to youuuuu.”

Yep. A third elbow. Just what I always wanted.
A third elbow. Just what I always wanted.


I couldn’t seem to make myself worry. Who the heck has ever heard of Elbow Cancer? Shaun Googled the crap out of it, and tried not to look totally freaked out in front of me. I pretended not to notice the stealthy Googling and I Am Not Freaked Out – No Really, look on her face.

Luckily, I didn’t have to pretend not to care about the lump.

It’s just a lump.  I can live with a lump. Heck, Hudson lives with a lump.

Lump Schlump.

Still Giant. Still not hurting him. Still Freaking people out all over the world.
Still Giant. Still not hurting him. Still Freaking people out all over the world.
Would a third elbow help me be lighter on the reins?
Would a third elbow help me be lighter on the reins?

Fine. Fine. I promised Shaun I’d go to the doctor.  Then I promised the trainer, who poked the lump, said “I think it’s bigger than last week…?”.  Then I promised Daisy, Bella, Carlos, and Alice I’d go to the doctor. Promising to take care of it bought me a lot of time to ignore it completely.

Denial. My favorite method of self-care.

Doctor said, “Huh”, looked me in the eyes, then back down at my arm, “only you.” She pushed on the lump. “Does it hurt?”

Oh goody, I can rack up another bullet point in Jane’s “Let’s Not Slice Our Body Open” PowerPoint presentation:

“Nope. Doesn’t hurt at all”, I say, “It’s fine”.

Doctor looks at me.  “Lumps of unknown origin are NOT fine, Jane. Probably a cyst from synovial fluid.  You sure you didn’t bump your elbow?” Pause. “Hard?”

Denial is so….passive. Suddenly remembering a blow hard enough to cause a lump the size of a golf ball is not passive.  I’d be actively lying. Even if I substitute the harsher word “lie” for the innocuous sounding word “prevaricate”. Hmm…could I work with actively prevaricating…?

Maybe my mom was right: two birthday candles sort of sum up my emotional age. Don’t look at it, don’t touch it! It’s not THERE! It’s nothing!

Damn. Have to get it checked out.

I didn’t bother to take Shaun with me for the ultrasound.  They’re not allowed to tell you results. The plan: I’d go, stay happily in denial, and pick up a latte on my way home.

Um. Yeah. About that. How many of us can read the ultrasound while our vet is still running the wand over our horse? Right. I knew instantly it wasn’t fluid.  Solid tissue. I watched her do density scans.

The tech nervously leaves to: “check with the doctor that the films are clear and shot from the correct angles and stuff.” Even I know that’s technician-speak for: “Uh Oh. Must find DOCTOR.”

Denial is great.  I shrug. Decide my body couldn’t handle all the frosting I was ingesting (whoops…my bad) so it helpfully created a nice frosting lump behind my elbow, where it wouldn’t be noticeable.

Heyyyyyy…It’s a buttercream tumor! On my funny bone! I can’t wait to tell everyone: it will be a piece of cake to remove.  It has to go, because it’s on my Last Nerve!  HA HA HA HA HA HA ha ha ha ha ha….um…niggle niggleha?

I go back to my detective novel.

Dr. Radiologist comes in. “Can I…see…it?”, she asks tentatively, sounding nothing like the professional doctor she obviously is.

Oddly, she has the voice of a woman in Tiffany’s asking the saleslady if she could just look at a gazillion carat diamond ring.

“Uh. Sure”, I say, and poke my elbow into the air.

“Can I…touch it…?” she asks, in – I swear – the reverent voice of a woman asking to TRY THE RING ON.

“Sure?”, I say.  She’s not going to try to take it, um, out of the box, is she?

I hear excited whispering outside the exam room door. “No it’s in there.  Just wait. Maybe we can see it!! Shhhhhh!!! Did anyone tell Meghan…?”

  This is what a 69.42 carat diamond looks like. .
You’d think carbon based life forms – such as ourselves – would be able to produce a sparkly carbon based hunk of rock. You’d never have to worry again that your insurance won’t cover medical costs for retrieval. Hospitals would be RICH. And people with gallstones…? Kazillionaires.

My unusual lump started an epic odyssey of specialist surgeon visits, MRI’s, blood tests, and immediate surgery scheduling.  Not a fatty tumor.  Apparently a tumor so rare, most specialists never see it in their life time.

I don’t do immediate.  I’m not good with ch*nge. I tried hard not to panic when the first surgeon said, “Let’s see, today is Friday…Sue call St. Mary’s and see if we can book an OR for Monday.”

MONDAY? As in Saturday, Sunday, MONDAY??? This whole time I’d been thinking…January…was doable.

I needn’t have stressed over immediate. The medical community was jazzed. I felt like I was…correction…I felt like my tumor was about to hit the talk show circuit, and possibly end up with its own Mercedes. I waited in endless green rooms, doing coffee shots and waiting  for the signal it was time to thrust my elbow in the air in front of an all white-coated crowd. Wait for the collective gasp.  Oooohing and Ahhhing.  If I could have sent my elbow to the appointments without me, I would have. It started begging me for celebrity sunglasses, hip-hop style.

I was lucky.  The best nerve trauma surgeon in the country (referred to in medical circles simply as: The God) swept in and said to the other bickering neurosurgeons, “Neener neener, sorry about your luck underlings, it’s MINE.”

I raised my hand.  “Yes?”, he said.

“Uh. Can I come too?”, I said.

I was feeling a little unclear on the concept: does the famous tumor go in, and the (thankfully) unimportant mother of the tumor wait outside?

“Sure”, he said, and smiled a killer Hollywood surgeon-smile, complete with tooth twinkle.

Tooth twinkles: a sure sign that things are not what they seem.

…to be continued.

(Spoiler alert: I’m fine. We don’t need to worry.)

Alice Takes a Tour Through…Is That an Orc…?

Alice went down the rabbit hole, and missed the bottle marked “Drink Me”.

Maybe it's a good thing Alice didin't Drink Me. She might have come back with a catapillar
Maybe it’s a good thing Alice didn’t Drink Me. She might have come back with a giant caterpillar. (FYI, this would not have stopped us from bedazzling and riding said caterpillar.)

Unable to go through the small door, she took a left somewhere in the tunnel and got lost. Presumably she wandered through Lórien, had a chat with Gandalf, spent a little time in The Shire…

Who cares about one ring to rule them all? SHADOWFAX.  How we know this was meant to be? Look, there’s a buckskin right next to him. 

Alice popped back out of the rabbit hole with a Friesian.

(And possibly an elfin archer. I figure she stashed the archer somewhere.)

Straight out of Lord of the Rings, if we pretend he will gray out:

We think the White Rabbit stole her flip-flops.

We all call him “Shadowfax”. No one will ever know his real name, because none of us care.  Shadowfax is AWESOME.

Hudson is modeling stellar trail behavior. Shadowfax is going to be a trail Friesian. Hudson’s left ear: “Dude. Turkeys. Fun to chase”. Hudson’s right ear: “Jane, stop eavesdropping, so impolite.”

Shadowfax has spent his life as an Arena Flower. Going outside the giant sand box was new and scary. Alice rode him in a bridle, and wore footwear for the first few, “getting to know your newly leased horse”, rides.

After hanging with Hudson and the rope-horse crowd that warm up on the access road, Shadowfax settled down, and Alice went back to the back to the hippie-chick self we all know and love.

Bareback in a halter.

Ready to get down in The Shire.

It was weird to ride with a horse that towered over Hudson. He’s usually the biggest guy there. Alice said “I think they’re the same height.  Look at their withers.”

Hey, look at that. They are.  But Shadowfax’s NECK and HEAD are up in the stratosphere.

“Is it strange to have NECK in front of you?” I ask.

It makes my teeth ache, that tall neck, right there, ready to up and smack you in the face at first spook.

“Yeah”, Alice says, “It’s a little hard to get used to.  I feel like I can’t SEE.”

She holds up the reins, mimicking a little old lady peering over the steering wheel.

Carlos has teased the crap out of Alice. In addition to the unseen stashed archer, she’s come home to ‘anonymous’ gifts.  Gifts with which she may appropriately ride into Middle-Earth: glow in the dark sword, plastic bow and arrows, a lovely shield, a slighty dented tiara…

Oh. And us!

I’m Still Not Dead Yet!

Unless we count Dead Busy and Dead Happy.

(Except for the blogging part.  I’d like to be Dead Happy Blogging too.)

I finally have my dream “work”, which involves a lot of transferring dirt from various horses to my person. Also a lot of smiling.

Translation for the non-horsey: I come home filthy.  Covered in grime and horse slobber.  Life is good.

The trainer I am helping is just plain fantastic.  In every way.  The nightmare stories about working for a screaming, over-demanding, blaming trainer?  Not her.  We laugh a lot. I make a mistake, I own it, we move on to how she wants things done.  No drama.

Because we are in the Arabian show world now, I do a lot of tail maintenance. We’re talking twelve-foot tails here, folks.  I hit the jackpot on My Little Ponies.

Here’s Laurie’s mare, Ginger, with her ten foot tail:

IMG_3634 Ginger's tail
Rapunzel, Rapunzel… Uh. Holy Moly. That is a lot of golden hair…

Pre-washing.  It’s a bit longer after the waves are washed out.

A lot has happened.  It’s show season. Our 5-time national champion horse/rider team became  7-time national champions. Between shows, the training barn moved out of my barn, and into its own facility.  Of which you will soon see stunning pics.  It’s a miracle I don’t spend the entire day in the parking lot, rendered speechless and immobile by the view.

Phil was Phixed, but went back home after the trial period.  Hudson has a new roomie, who thankfully does not worship the ground he impatiently stomps upon. Meet Paulo. (The Yoga Master.)

IMG_1673 Hudson and Paulo
Dude. Chill. I’m doing my nightly yoga on the barre. Oh. Hey, this your dinner? Wait. This is my Maori face. Not stealing. Nu-unh.

Life is 5:30 am busy, ending with 7:30 pm snoring noises.

And cake!

The Waiting Room

Our beloved family member had surgery on Monday, and it went very well.  So well, in fact, we had to sit on her to keep her from, oh I don’t know, GOING SHOPPING.

If I had to condense my part of the experience it would go something like this:

worry worry worry

anxiety worry worry fear worry

is that food? no? I should eat anyway worry worry munch munch worry

worry I know! I need a slab of cake worry worry anxiety munch munch worry

Oh no! my pants don’t fit sob rend worry worry anxiety I bet what I really need to do is eat more to ease the tension worry worry worry munch munch munch

stuff patient in car worry FEAR worry worry worry

drive worry worry “oh for heaven’s sake, don’t drive past the hospital!” disgust

worry worry worry

This is my brain on “Oh No, A Surgery!”

I thought once we arrived, it might get easier.  I’ve noticed stuff gets easier once you pass the point of being capable of action. (It’s difficult to snatch the patient back once they’ve been whisked away to pre-op.)

I stare around the waiting room.  At first, nothing registers, except it’s pleasant.

Then I panic. Oh God.  The waiting room is pleasant to the point of soothing. There’s the sound of a fountain trickling, the lighting is fresh feeling.  Plants flourish. The walls are a muted make-everyone’s-skin-look-good pink, more suited to a spa or dermatology office. There’s a sculpture.  A book of patient poetry.

The chairs are clean.  Soft.  Pastel printed. I clamp my hand over my mouth.


No one puts this much effort into a hospital waiting room unless soothing relatives is an absolute requirement.

Last year, when the doctor expected an ‘outpatient procedure’ to be in and out, she did almost die. The 15 min procedure went on for 2 hours, then 3, then 4…I had to stop looking at the clock.

I had waited perched on an ancient coffee-stained sofa, wedged in a dark hallway corner. Daisy and Lily both came after I called them in a panic, when the 2 hour mark passed.  We alternated standing and sitting. A large nurses station, populated with harrassed, annoyed nurses, was positioned between me and the operating room doors.

No fountain. No plants. No mood lighting. No magazines at that hospital: they did not expect any problems.

I look up from this memory in horror.

A nurse smiles at me soothingly from the beige-pink counter.  “She’s going to be fine”, the nurse says, with true compassion.

I have to get her out.

The nurse sees my escalating panic and misreads me, saying “She’s already in surgery, don’t worry, she’ll be out in fifteen minutes.”


Thought 2: Where the heck is the cafeteria?!?

Post-Op: she’s fine. It only took 13 minutes. In at 7 am, out at 10:30 am and driving home.  Crossing my fingers for the next surgery.

I really have to find a better way to deal with stress.

For those of you who are not hard-wired to eat in times of stress, what helps you cope?

Our New, Improving Blog, with Emergency Post Button…

It’s time for spring blog cleaning!

I prefer to think of it as a proactive, energized, boots-on-the-ground, guerilla cleaning.

Fine. I’m just antsy and rearranging the widgets, hanging new wall paper, and possibly updating pages that might be, um, slightly out of date. Like the “Mommy” page. Um. Barbie had the baby. (Murphy Mondays, anyone?) He’ll be a year old on May 5th. Is it too soon to take down the pics of him in her tummy?

Jane’s Cool Idea

I’ve wanted to add this for a while.  See the big red emergency button on the right?

(You can push above button, but it won’t do anything. Try the one in sidebar.)

Press it, and be surprised by a random post.  An even bigger surprise? We never know when Jane will update the button. It might not even take you to a post from TLH: it could take you to any random thing we liked in that second! Time travel! Internet travel! Anywhere-But-Here travel! Shoes! Handbags! A two-for-one on toothpaste! (Okay, maybe not.) The possibilities are endless.

Some coming blog updates:

Dinero has gone back to his forever owner, to retire on the giant cattle ranch where he spent his life learning to rope competitively, and work cows.  He began showing some arthritic changes: time to stop roping.  Bella is not a “Bute ’em and Use ’em” kind of girl.

We’re going to officially meet Woodrow, Bella’s potential roping horse: he’s Hudson’s new roommate.  For that matter, it’s way past time for the bios of Bella and Alice to be up.  Like…years…?

Oh, I remember…  Last year, there were these space aliens?  And I ran out of tinfoil? So I had to fight them off with Sharpie highlighters (they can’t take the dayglo colors) and try to win them over with cake, which of course they loved.  I sent the recipe with them back to Xytozgth.  Peace through frosting. Anyhow, that didn’t leave a lot of time for keeping up with much besides posting, and we know how THAT has gone.

And I’m fairly certain they wiped my short term memory, which would explain the car keys I found in the fruit drawer of the fridge…

In Which We Slink Back to our Blog and Hope No One Noticed Our Absence…

With thanks to Daisy, who righted the world for me.  Again.

I have not been funny.  I’ve had the emotional equivalent of Ebola. I not only had nothing funny to share, I was afraid I would infect the blog. Caution: I may still be Not Funny.

We had a medical crisis in the family.  That’s what all the driving over the Golden Gate bridge was about: driving to the hospital.

17 days is a long time for someone you love to be hospitalized. Especially for the sick person. But if we temporarily ignore the Sick Person…?

This weird thing began to occur…

Continue reading “In Which We Slink Back to our Blog and Hope No One Noticed Our Absence…”

Pestilence is My Excuse – Oops – I Mean Reason…

Funny signs

Highly Unconfidential Update:

  • Nom nom noises were heard behind the dryer for a few nights
  • They stopped
  • We were happy
  • Really happy

This was right before I started sneezing…?

There was an ant on the counter.  Seriously. The day after the rodent noises stopped. I killed it with an unexpectedly violent sneeze. Poor thing didn’t have a prayer.

While I was decontaminating Sneeze Ground Zero, I looked down.

Great. A new crack in the floor.

At least, I thought it was a crack, until I realized the crack wobbled.  This crack was marching determinedly from the back door, through the kitchen, and into the (food-less) dining room.

I am certain a grievously ill mouse, with its last ragged breath, staggered on weak legs to a dark hole in the ground, and whispered into the void, “…SUGAR… in the yellow house…back door, hang a right in the kitchen…pantry…third shelf….MOUNTAINS of SUGAR…”

The ants hadn’t found the pantry yet.

I love Christmas.  It’s that sneezing, baking, ant smashing time of the year.

The good news: we’re no longer sick, the mice and ants seem to be gone, and I have loads of stuff to share with you.

The bad news: I still gotta bake: I have a black belt in Sugar Protection. I can protect sugar, in all it’s forms, from any kind of theft or natural disaster.

I know, I know. I never call. I never write.  Bad blogger!

The Update from Jane’s House, and Favorite Barn Names?

Shaun’s dad is very ill. He’s moving in with us in a few days, and going into Hospice. I’m very glad he’s going to be with us.  I know it is a difficult transition for him, from total independence on the other end of the continent, to moving deeper into our family life. He can use all the prayers you can throw his way. Big adjustment.

We’re hoping we can help make this time warm, loving, and supportive, and at least offset the sadness of leaving a lifetime home.  (Can you imagine?!) To be seriously ill on top of that seems so unfair.

One computer is going to be shared by one full-time work at home person, one part-time work at home person, and the family.  Not looking so good on the blogging front. It could surprise me and work out, but I wanted to let you know what’s up.

I looked at my cell phone the other day and thought “Well. If I blog from my cell I will teach myself how to seriously edit. No way can I do more than a few sentences!”

This might be a good thing!

Another alternative: “let you entertain me” blogging.  (Yes, I’m laughing.) See example below.

I have a question for you:

What barn names have you absolutely adored, whether it was your horse or not?

The barn name of the cute little filly in the earlier post is “Twinkie”. She does look like a little vanilla cream-filled Twinkie! Her name hit my Adore list.

Hudson shared his paddock for a while with a sweet quarter horse gelding. He was average/medium cow horse size, which is generally well under 16 hh. Chunky and solid, but definitely not large. I really liked him. I asked Bella: “Do you know why he’s named ‘Big’?”

Bella pointed to his butt, the letters “BH” were branded quite large on his rump.

“B H….get it? Big. Horse.”

That’s how Big got his name.  I never could look at him again without feeling absolutely charmed. It fit him. He was a very straightforward, what you see is what you get, truth-in-advertising kind of guy. Big personality. Cracked me up.

What names do you love, and why? How do they fit?

Have you come across barn names that didn’t seem to match the horse’s personality?

In Which We Still Have Musical Hold…and Fried Cheeto Sandwiches

Due to circumstances beyond our control, I need to be rebooted. My code is flawed, and hit a loop error into endless Worry.

My personal Psych Techs are off camping, eating fried Cheeto sandwiches and starting their own SWAT team.  You gotta love Psych Techs who feel a band and a SWAT team are perfectly complimentary occupations.

I haven’t posted for fear of infecting TLH with neuroses/anxiety. My PT’s are on vacation.  (And also because my keyboard is really sticky from all the frosting.)

Aside: I have invented the All-Frosting Cupcake.  That’s right, skip the cake, go right for the frosting!

We had a family health crisis, it’s over, looks like all is going to be well eventually. We are SO grateful. And it will be a very long road to recovery.

I am stuck in intensely busy, unfunny Overwhelming Land: which is okay if that is the sort of thing that makes your heart beat faster.

Micah and I are managing the command center-slash-travel agency/medical contingency planners.  His job is hug-giver, Master Zombie Slayer (Call of Duty, Black Ops, with TONS of Zombies), and personal driver now that he has his learner’s permit.

I need to be driven to the places where Frosting spawns.

Sigh. Every time I look at TLH, my mind goes blank (Fine. It goes blanker).

Here’s the new plan.  I will actually use the post a day prompts.  No idea if this will be lame, awesome, or profoundly disappointing.

We can always call in the Rock Band SWAT Team…

What’s Black and Blue and Green All Over…?

Thursday, Shaun wanted to see her hand, un-bandaged, before we went to the orthopedic surgeon on Friday.  She was worried it wasn’t “that bad”.

I suspect her thought echos all of our thinking patterns.  “It’s only an [insert injury here], it’s not that bad.”

I jumped at the chance. It’s agony to stay away from an sloppily bandaged limb. (Right?)

Shaun’s hand, unwrapped:

I began to remove the layers of Scotch Tape applied by the ER casting tech. This was stupid: the tape wasn’t holding anything. I just cut it off.

After a good look, a wash, and blow dry (hurt too much to touch) I carefully put the splint back on, and bandaged her up properly, using VetWrap to seal the ends.

Shaun looks at me with awe. She thought wrapping would hurt, because it hurt badly when the tech wrapped her.

“How did you do that?”, Shaun asks, “It was all twisted and bunched up.  It’s so smooth and unwrinkled, and the tension is perfect!”

“I know”, I say, absently, not thinking about how immodest that sounds. A couple thousand horse legs will wipe the modesty right out of you:  it’s just a skill, like learning to use a pen.  I lived through the era of No Horse  Should Be Ridden Without Polo Wraps. Having had three horses, that was 12 legs a day for years.  Add in catch riding for trainer, and bingo. Lotsa Legs.

I vote we hold training sessions for ER staff.  Just think, it’s a way horse people can give back to the community, and protect themselves in the future.

We went to the surgeon Friday.  I’m happy to report the ER, while it had the most conspicuous Disaster Of The Month Club calendar, is not alone.  There was one in the exam room of the orthopedic surgeon’s office. Yes, I whipped out my cell phone and took a picture of the disaster for…


You will never guess.  Not in a million years. (I predict TLH readers will be quite safe.)

To be posted on Tuesday…

(Oh. Shaun does not need surgery.  The fracture should heal just fine without it!)