Preparing for the end of my life: the bucket-less lists

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you would know that I abhor bucket lists. Once everything on the list is completed, either you have to add items or die. That’s why all the aspirations I’ve had in my life have never hung out in a bucket.

I am not without lists, however, and all the moreso since I received my bad news. First, there’s the list of things I probably won’t need to do over the next year. I can’t see myself needing any new clothes, and I probably have enough toiletries stockpiled to see me through. Think of all the time I can devote to other activities I find more pleasurable, like napping.

Then there’s the list of tasks hanging over me, ones I’d prefer not to do, and my long-neglected filing is only the tip of this iceberg. I have to notify the college that I’m not renewing my psychology registration this year. Tears may be shed, but the time is right. Then I have to cancel my library holds so piles of books aren’t waiting for me unclaimed after I die. I must get my taxes in order and be up to date on my paperwork so J. is not left with a mess after I die. I will make her a list of all I can’t do before I die, like cancelling my supplementary health care. I’m sure she’ll appreciate my organizational skills after I’m gone.

This leads us to the good list, that of things I really want to do before I die. Travel out of the country is not an option, as you know, but I fulfilled my wildest dream during our recent trip to Israel. Following my leukemia diagnosis, I’d never have thought I’d be stable enough to go so far.

Since travel is out, I need to think of other possibilities closer to home. So far everything I’ve come up with is food focussed. (I am no more surprised than you are.) Maybe one night we’ll go crazy and order in pizza or Chinese food. Maybe we’ll go out for lunch or dinner to a hot new restaurant in town like normal people. The possibilities are endless.

My food ventures will not be limited to restaurants, however. There are so many meals I want to make before I die, so many baked goods to perfect. Time is running short.

I’ve always been a lazy baker. My repertoire is limited to cookies, squares, and muffins, with the odd cake thrown in. I leave the finicky items for people who know what they’re doing.

I was perusing advanced baking classes in town because it’s never too late to acquire a new skill. Lo and behold, I came across an offering in which we’ll learn to bake danishes, croissants, and brioches. I’ll be attending knowing I’ll never bake these items again; I simply want to reach the pinnacle of baking once in my life. These days, that is reason enough for me.

I’m told I’ll arrive home with mounds (note I didn’t say “bucketfuls”) of freshly baked wares. Feel free to drop by for a treat later that day. I’ll be napping after all that hard work, so please leave me one cheese danish. Thanks.

Picture of two baked cheese danishes


You are not going to LIKE this post

thumbs down emoji

I created this blog as a way of sharing news about my health. When I first started writing, blogging seemed an effective way to keep people in the loop. Thanks to your diligent readership, the blog has helped me feel connected with you.

It can’t have been easy to read my posts sometimes. You have joined me on the ups and downs of my cancer roller coaster, sharing your wisdom and words of support. You’ve laughed at my jokes, which I realize are often funny only to me. You’ve stuck with me as I’ve muddled through both physically and emotionally. I couldn’t have asked for more from all of you.

You know my worries about my health have been rampant of late. I was hoping that my concerns about my recent bone marrow biopsy were unfounded, that my anxiety had gotten the better of me, that I was facing a challenge that was surmountable. Unfortunately, I was wrong. My story will not have a fairy tale ending today.

The results of the biopsy were not good. The fibrosis in my marrow has increased significantly since it was last assessed three years ago. The more scarring there is, the less space is left for healthy blood cells to be produced. This progression explains my recent anemia and my drop in platelets. Unfortunately, as the fibrosis continues to take over my marrow, my body will have increasing difficulty producing blood cells.

All is not lost, however. With the help of a red-blood-cell producing hormone and IV iron infusions, my red blood cell counts should improve in the immediate future. This will help me to feel less fatigued, thank goodness. I will also receive the occasional whole blood transfusion as needed. The doctor has reassured me that my low platelet count is manageable. We’ve agreed to my abstaining from touch football and full-contact hockey for now.

Sadly, my health will continue to decline from here. At some point, there will be no more room in my bone marrow for the creation of blood cells. The methods I described of raising my red blood cell counts will no longer be effective. I will feel increasingly unwell, and yes, I will die.

The doctor asked if I wanted a time line. However anxious I am, I find not knowing much more stressful than knowing, so I said yes. He believes that I have a year or so left to live. This may not seem like much, but for me it is an eternity. I’ve had the fear of death hanging over me since I was first diagnosed with polycythemia 18 years ago, and I have outlived all predictions. Now I will be grateful for however long I have and will do my best to relish every moment. So will J.

There is so much more to tell you about what I’ve learned and what the next steps are, but I think this post has been heavy enough for one day. Furthermore, I rigidly adhere to my 500-word post limit no matter what. Thanks as always for reading. I’ll continue blogging for as long as I can, and hope you’ll stay on board. I could use your support now more than ever.

A sure way to generate LIKES for your posts

Black puppy wearing tie in Adopt Me shotAs you may have noticed, matters have become quite serious at my place. I don’t know how you guys are hanging in because it hasn’t been all rainbows and puppy dogs here lately. (That’s not really accurate; there have been a few puppy dogs; I can’t help it.)

I’ve been dealing with significant changes in my health, and I’m still awaiting the outcome of my bone marrow biopsy next week. This past few weeks, I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time at the cancer centre sorting my sick body out. Being a patient has become a full-time job, and, trust me, there are so many other ways I’d rather be spending my time.

Despite this turn of events, my blog has had a flurry of new visitors lately. My 300th follower signed on this week. Welcome to my personal soap opera! Thanks to all of you who have shown an interest of late, and to those of you who’ve been with me for a while. I’m not sure what has brought you here, but I’m grateful for your interest in my life.

Over the past while, I’ve also had a huge increase in Likes, at least for me. When 11 readers Liked a recent post, WordPress informed me I’d attained a personal record. I didn’t even think it was that great a post, to be honest.

I’ve always found Likes a bit funny because I’m not sure what Like means in certain contexts. If I’m in distress, how about an I Feel for You, or a That Sucks emoji? I know; those emojis don’t exist in the world of blogging. I’m not meaning to sound ungrateful for the Likes since I know you don’t have access to other emotional reactions to a post. Maybe WordPress should follow Facebook’s initiative by allowing a variety of reactions beyond Like.

I honestly don’t deserve to be Liked. I don’t Like others’ posts, and I don’t follow others’ blogs, as those bloggers who’ve been on board for a while know. I lack the social graces you savvy social media types possess. Furthermore, I am too overwhelmed with my own life to read others’ stories. Frankly, I avoid others’ blogs because I don’t want to be reading the type of material I’ve been posting lately. Bad news in others’ lives would surely fuel my own distress, and I’m barely hanging on here as it is.

I’ve realized, by the recent uptick in Likes, that many readers are drawn to trauma and sadness and emotional upheaval more than to the humour or triteness that is my specialty. Why, I wonder. Somehow you tolerate the sordid and sometimes depressing details of my life; I’d have fled my blog screaming long ago if I were you.

You don’t need my permission (encouragement?) to bail now before my life gets messy. I fear, for your sake, that you won’t want to go because things are just starting to get interesting. Maybe you’re gluttons for punishment. It can’t be a party to hang out with me lately, but it’s your choice.

So feel free to keep Liking if you feel so inclined. I’ll interpret your Likes as your unfailing support and kindness, even through bad times. For that, I Like you too.

Like emoji--hand with thumb pointed up

Mastering the effective use of imagery in writing

Apple corer with three apples, one cored

How’s your week been? Mine’s been busy. Between blood draws and bone marrows, I’ve been run off my feet.

I’m sure you’re dying for a vivid description of the bone marrow procedure. I wish I could tell you that Ativan knocked out my memory for the experience, but, unfortunately, I took the pill a little late for that. I was barely wobbly through the procedure, but stoned for the two days following. Reminder to self: next time, take the pill early enough for it to take full effect.

The nurse helped me onto the hospital bed fully clothed, only to tell me I’d have to expose a wee bit of flesh. He suggested I half moon the doctor, and he was not referring to the advanced yoga pose. Thank goodness for my best underwear. Then the nurse moved my legs into the fetal position, lightly placing his hands on them so he could hold them down. Some patients feel the urge to kick the doctor once he starts working.

The procedure itself was almost a breeze, truly. Dr. Blood Lite froze my half moon first, and then got to work. The needle itself felt like dull pressure, with the odd brief pain thrown in. At no point did I feel like kicking anyone, so rather than hold me down, the nurse regaled me with stories of his new girlfriend and his world travels. His levity was the perfect antidote.

Through it all, the doctor was calm and efficient, informing me of what he was doing and frequently assessing how I was tolerating the procedure. He could not see my expression since he was facing my half-draped posterior, but he frequently looked to J. for feedback.

This whole experience made me wonder how a doctor as caring and gentle as mine can undertake a procedure that is going to hurt his patient. He has to gather that information somehow, but how does he tolerate knowing that he’s causing pain? I feel for him.

His discomfort shouldn’t have been my focus during that procedure, however. I am often so worried about others’ distress that I completely forget about how I’m feeling. Or maybe not, at least in this case. Despite my concern for my sensitive doctor, I clutched J.’s hand so fiercely that I could have injured her. When the doctor looked to J. for feedback, he may have mistaken her grimace for smiling.

In the end, after several unsuccessful attempts at tapping me like a maple tree, i.e., bone marrow aspiration, the doctor had to move to the corkscrew–or is it apple coring?–method, known as bone-marrow biopsy. Thus, he removed a small cylindrical sample of my marrow, bone and all, for assessment. No biggie. In a few weeks’ time, my inner core, my deepest darkest self, will be revealed to all.

I will admit that I miss that little piece of me. I barely felt it at the time, but the ache in my lower back is a reminder of my loss. Thankfully Tylenol is effective at eradicating the pain.

I’m glad it’s over. Now I must wait. Since J.’s tooth is now healing, I’m open to happy distractions to pass the time. Coffee, anyone? They say it prevents cancer.


This is Annie reporting from my new headquarters

Thank goodness Christmas is over. I’m exhausted. J. tells me she couldn’t distinguish my snoring from Jelly’s last night, and Jelly is quite the snorer. I must have been loud.

I am writing to you from my new office. Since I donated my basement desk to the woman cave a while back, I have not had a place to park myself. I have been writing at the dining room table or on the couch. For months I’ve been talking about adding a small desk to my yoga room so I could reclaim a office space of my own. Every writer needs a place to write, doesn’t she?

I’ve been looking for a small desk that would fit in the room while still leaving space for a downward dog, and a live dog, or two. I had found the perfect one and planned to secure it after Christmas. It would be my holiday present to myself.

But let’s go back a few weeks, when I dared to visit our basement, only to see a threatening sign on the guest bedroom door:

Sign on door: STOP, NO ENTRY ALLOWED, Santa's workshop is closed, This means YOU!!!, Yeah you!! Any violations will result in ALL gifts being returned to point of purchase. So there, Bah humbugI may be Jewish, but isn’t Santa’s workshop in the North Pole? Now he has branch offices? Out of fear for my life, I heeded the threat and I did not enter. I assume the threat was intended for me; it sounded more like something J. would say than Santa, with good reason. I am not trustworthy in situations like these.

On Christmas Eve day, J. went downstairs with her computer to work. I knew she had a few upcoming weddings but, two hours later, I was questioning what was taking her so long. She came upstairs for scissors at one point. Did I need to introduce her to the cut-and-paste functions in her word-processing program? Then I heard what sounded like hammering, piquing my curiosity.

On Christmas morning, I woke up and showered, and then we opened our modest gifts to one another. The gifts were carefully chosen and perfect. Oddly enough, I unwrapped nothing that required assembly.

J. often thinks I’m so spacey that I don’t notice things–so what if a full 24 hours had passed before I spied the outdoor Christmas decorations she’d hung this year?–but I do notice. Why was Santa’s workshop off limits? Where was Santa’s handiwork? It wasn’t adding up.

In fact, when I exited the shower that morning, I spied the work of Santa’s labour in my office-to-be. I decided to pretend not to see the gift until much later that day. On closer inspection, she’d bought the exact desk I’d wanted, although I’d never shown her a picture. She is psychic. It fits perfectly. I’ll still have room for my yoga mat and even a dog bed, if Jelly chooses to grace me with her presence.

Later in the day, I was forced to enter this room to grab something, and I feigned surprise at my discovery. (It turns out I had heard drilling, not hammering.) Unable to delay acknowledgement of my subterfuge, I immediately confessed that I’d found the desk hours earlier. So J., despite what you may think, I do notice lots of things. But I thought a little torturous delay might be fun. Indeed it was.

Shot of office desk with chair, dog mat with dog on it, and yoga mat



My irritability knows no bounds

crying baby in bed

Much appreciation for the three kind and loyal fellow bloggers who liked my last post, which could have benefitted from considerably more editing. Thanks for seeing beyond its many shortcomings, you generous souls. I’ll aspire to do better today.

Because I volunteer in a nursing home, where influenza can spread like wildfire, I scored an early flu vaccine. Shots start today for the general public, in case you weren’t aware, but some people get to jump the queue, including those who who work in facilities housing people vulnerable to infection.

Did I happen to mention they’re predicting a bad influenza season here based on Australia’s rates of illness? I thought you’d want to know.

Last week, following our PALS shift at the retirement home, I lined up with Jelly so I could get my shot. Except there was no line. The immunization clinic was set up for nursing, administrative, and other support staff, and volunteers, but no one was attending. Had no one noticed the mini chocolate bars for the newly immunized?

I sat down beside the immunizing nurse, who seemed overly excited to have a subject, while Jelly gladly endured the other bored nurse petting her. Everyone was content.

[Warning: Keep reading only if you plan to continue to the end of the post.]

The shot hurt from the moment the needle entered my arm. As she put a bandaid over the insertion spot, the nurse mentioned that many people were complaining of pain this year. Thankfully she didn’t disclose this before she inserted the needle since I am highly suggestible.

In the past, I have a sore arm for a few days following the shot, like a heavyweight fighter has punched me, but this time I thought I’d skip that part. I was unscathed until day 3, when I woke up in discomfort, trying to remember what the heavyweight champion looked like. The arm felt better after a few days, as it always does.

J. also scored an early flu shot as a volunteer at the children’s hospital. She received her injection the day my arm was the sorest. After the shot, she denied any pain on injection. She’s such a show off. To add insult to injury, nobody even punched her arm the next day. She felt nothing.

After last year’s shot, I was irritable. Irritability is a potential side effect of the shot, and I’m suggestible, remember? When J. suffered no ill effects, I immediately got cranky, but it had nothing to do with my flu shot; I was cranky because of J.’s suggestion that I am a baby. I may be a baby, but J. still shouldn’t have called me one. A loving partner knows when to fudge the truth.

You will likely react to your flu shot like J. did, i.e., you won’t feel a thing. If you’re irritable, blame it on me for telling you about my adverse reaction. You too can consider my reaction as a function of my sensitive temperament.

Maybe I’m irritable because we’re leaving for Israel tonight and I can’t decide which hoody to take. My life has no end of stresses. It’s a wonder that I can function at all.


If I knew you were coming, I’d have baked a cake.

Blue and white cake with flowers and "Thanks" written on it

I’m one of those old people who likes to read real books that I can hold in my hands. No e-books for me. I like to use my collection of actual bookmarks (FYI: bookmarks are not just a virtual phenomenon) and picking up my library holds brings me joy.

Of course I am also a holdout for actual paper subscriptions to magazines. I like flipping the pages and seeing the pictures and reading the stories. I used to buy them for my office waiting room–few clients translates to no need for waiting–so I buy them solely for myself.

And don’t forget newspapers, the newsprint kind with ink that blackens my fingers. There’s something to holding the paper in my hands, hearing it crinkle as I turn the page, and ripping out articles so I can refer back to them. (I’m joking. I reluctantly use those newfangled computer bookmarks for the keepers.)

In the internet age, by the time the daily paper arrives, everything already seems like old news. But I don’t really care since I’m reading them more for the commentary than for the actual news anyhow. Newspapers may be a dying breed but I’ve been a staunch supporter. Or at least I was, until J. and I finally cancelled our paper delivery about two years ago to save money.

I miss the morning paper, but even more I miss our last paper-delivery fellow, who is a lovely man. We’d cross paths with him every so often when we were taking Jelly out at dawn. He seemed to enjoy his work. He worked in the neighbourhood for years, and whenever we saw him, he was smiling, despite his early start to the day.

Since we’ve cancelled our newspaper for the last time, we haven’t necessarily stopped receiving it, however. Once every week or two, a newspaper appears silently at our doorstep. We know it’s from Mr. Random Acts of Kindness because he leaves it on the stoop in exactly the same place he always did. We never seem to catch him in the act because he’s finished working before we’re up these days. I’ve been overwhelmed with guilt at not having an opportunity to thank him for his kindness.

Except for last week, when, an hour later than usual, Mr. RAK stealthily drove his car down our street and stopped in front of our house as I was heading out with Jelly. He jumped out of the car smiling broadly and handed me a newspaper. I finally had a chance to thank him in person. He said, “If I don’t give the extras to my old customers, they will go in the garbage.”

I’m sure Mr. RAK spreads his good will through the neighbourhood, although I may have been the only recipient last week. For the two days following this early morning encounter, I awoke to the paper on our stoop. I guess my brief thank you inspired our newspaper angel to direct all his kindness toward us for a few days.

I may have thanked him but I still owe him a cake. Eureka! I can leave it at the neighbour’s where he still delivers daily. I hope it makes him smile.


My 500th blog post, and I am speechless.

What makes this occasion momentous? My having published 500 excessively wordy posts? Or your kindly read 500 instalments of my mind’s random meanderings? I give you a lot more credit for your persistence than I give myself. My job takes will and dedication, yes, but yours takes endurance. By now, you must feel like you’ve run one of those ultra marathons in the desert.

You’ve persisted despite never knowing what’s going to arrive in your inbox. Occasionally Sadness makes an appearance, or I seek a silver lining in some crummy situation. Too often I drag you through the mundane details of my latest medical trials and tribulations for 500 words (x2 or 3 or 10). I drone on and on. But you’ve endured. You deserve credit for that.

You likely thought the time commitment I’ve demanded would be freed up by now. So did I. Plus my memory is so poor that I’m surely repeating myself more than I realize. “Oh, not that joke again,” I hear you muttering. Or, like J., you might be moaning, “Not that dead horse (or painful finger) again.”

Please know, dear readers, that I’m okay with your calling it a day. I’ll keep writing whether you continue to read my ceaseless drivel or not. Writing helps me to work through what is happening in my life. Through my writing, I gain perspective on the absurdity of living with an illness that is incurable, but, to this point, not deadly. Sometimes I find that I’m less scared of my leukemia when I write about it here. That’s why I keep at it.

And so, early this morning, imagine my panic when I was locked out of my blog for the very first time. I wanted to write this post, but I could not access the blogging site. What an opportunity I was granted to remind you, for the 45th time, that not all anxiety is bad. Sometimes people become anxious because they are facing a genuine threat. If you were face to face with a tiger that had escaped its cage at the zoo, even you, brave one, would likely find yourself anxious, and your anxiety would be well founded. And so, this morning, I was paralyzed, with reason I believe, by the thought of losing all the hours I’d devoted to my magnum opus.

But within seconds, I envisioned the worst possible scenario, as is my anxious nature. Had I been hacked? Had I lost my blog forever? What kind of idiot doesn’t back up her life’s work? A few hours and a downloaded malwear program later, I learned my computer was fine. And then, magically, I could log in to my blog again. From what I could tell, everything was intact. Most likely the blogging program was down when I’d tried to visit earlier.

So my blog was saved, but my idiocy is still problematic. And so, in honour of this 500th post, may I remind you to back up your work. You’d hate to lose everything you’ve worked so hard on forever and know you could have prevented the disaster. Now I must learn how to back up my blog. Better late than too late, I say.

Man clutching head on down on computer keyboard


What’s in a name? Everything to me.

I lied. I promised you the gout saga was over, and largely it is for you, dear readers, but for me it has only just begun. This last episode was my greatest ever. After years of practice, I have finally attained a an A in Advanced Gout. How about that?

My dear Dr. Family is part of a conglomerate of physicians and health professionals in the city known as a primary health network. Her participation in this network facilitates her access, on an as-needed basis, to a variety of specialists for consultation. Last Friday when I stumped her–gifted patients do that to their docs sometimes–Dr. Family contacted the health-network rheumatologist for guidance. From this specialist, Dr. Family gained useful information on gout management. The specialist also noted that, if I felt it would be helpful, she would gladly meet with me directly at some point. Good to know. Now that I have achieved the pinnacle of goutiness, I have become a coveted patient to any self-respecting rheumatologist. No wonder specialists fight over me.

A few days after this consult, the rheumatologist called me to set an appointment. Somehow my stellar achievement in Advanced Gout warranted me an urgent referral. Wow. I felt like I’d just won a 4-year all-expenses-paid scholarship to Oxford. When I called to book in, I was offered my pick of possible appointment times within the next two weeks. I have done so well in gout that I have been awarded the most valuable scholarship ever: immediate access to a specialist.

There’s a reason I’m telling you all of this, beyond my wanting to revel in my rheumatological prowess: I can’t think of a good name for this doctor. I’m stumped.

Basset hound with head cocked, quote: "What's in a name?"If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I take great pride in naming the characters in my stories. Forgive the anything-but-humble brag, but I am proud of my name creativity. There’s Dr. Blood and her entourage of Bloody Residents, Dr. Liver, who evolved into Dr. Fois Gras, and Dr. Heartless, the only doc I’ve ever had who failed me. You may recall Dr. Skeeter, the infectious disease specialist, Dr. Woman, (woman parts), and Dr. Knife (figure it out). Remember Dr. Skin, the kind dermatologist who had, to quote my funny self here, “chosen to spend his adult life examining people’s zits”? Even Jelly has Dr. Animal. Then there are the other non-medical folks: Ms. Making Me Postal at the post office, Ms. Druggie (the pharmacist), and Little Mr. Sunshine, the generous platelet donor, to name a few.

Enter Dr. Rheumy (that’s lame), and I’m stumped. “Dr. Ouch” would suggest she’s hurting me when in fact she’s trying to relieve me of my pain, and “Dr. Gout” would suggest an unduly narrow scope of practice. I have two weeks until my initial appointment to arrive at an appropriate moniker. (Yes, you too can see a specialist remarkably quickly when a mushroom cluster erupts in your finger.)

I welcome your naming ideas, but, because this is my blog, I will make the final decision. Once I’m underground, I’ll relinquish all creative control to you, dear readers. I urge you patience since I may be here for a while yet.



Green Thumb, meet Red Finger

a few radish sprouts growing

I feel so proud. After a week of building (I drilled two screws in) and seeding (I was deemed competent to seed, after intensive instruction) our vegetable garden, I am thrilled to report our radishes have sprouted. I can’t wait to eat the vegetables of my labour.

I’d hoped to continue to be involved in our burgeoning garden, but a medical complication has arisen: the last joint of my right ring finger is swollen, red, and hot enough to brand you, and even the lightest pressure on it brings excruciating pain. That O I just typed? It hurt like the dickens. So did each L and every period. I considered writing this post as one run-on sentence, but I didn’t have the gumption.

In yet another case of forgetting what I should know by now, I’ve been ignoring increasing pain in this finger over the last few days. The pain is at its worst in the middle of the night, and has woken me from a deep sleep four nights in a row. “What could that be?” I asked my oblivious self. Eureka! It’s gout.

I’ve never experienced full-blown gout in a finger before, although it was numbness in this finger that led to my new gout-busting regimen (recall those unsplittable pills). I didn’t realize how much I used my right ring finger–ah, to be a leftie–until it caused me jarring pain to do so. Brushing my teeth, washing the dishes, anything that involves holding, my ailing finger wants to jump in and help out. I squander considerable mental effort to stop myself from using this finger.

People usually experience gout pain in major lower-body joints, characteristically in the ball of the foot. Imagine searing pain with every step you take, your foot so swollen that your shoes don’t fit. In the past, my feet have usually taken turns being gouty, although sometimes they want the simultaneous privilege of paining me.

So when I finally realized what was happening, rather than jump on the medication bandwagon, I let it escalate for a while longer. What kind of baby uses liver-toxic medication for pain at the end of a finger? This kind of baby. Now that I’ve started self-medicating, I hope the attack will pass soon.

There are several ways I could view this turn of events. I could focus on how painful gout is and how miserable it makes me, misery that is only compounded by the lack of sleep. (The pain is worse at night.) That attitude isn’t helpful, is it? Or I could be hopeful that the new gout-busting medication I’m on, those other unsplittable pills, is working. I knew those pills would make things worse before it made them better. I’ve decided to make this my first gouty step toward eliminating my gout forever.

I’m anticipating one more collateral benefit: for now, I must delegate all gardening and other household tasks, including dish-washing, to J. (Not just pressure but heat exacerbates the swelling, compounding the pain.) J. may especially resent the extensive garden thinning required when she realizes how much I have overseeded. Oh well, she’ll get over it, as will I.