Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My mom and her friend came in town for the weekend and I spent some time showing them around Sydney, including taking them on a lovely sail around the harbour. Well maybe it wasn't so lovely. . .The wind was at about 25 knots, when it gets to about 30 knots you wouldn't go out because stuff just starts breaking. There are 3 guys on this boat, Ang, me, mom, & Jan. I barely know how to sail, mom has only been on pleasure cruises, and this was Jan's first time on a sailboat. Welcome to sailing Jan! It was treacherous, a race, and the skipper was a very excitable creature. Jan puts on these yellow, rubber fishing pants with suspenders. She is then made to act as counter weight which means crawling on her belly from one side of the boat to the other when we tack. This is fantastically hilarious! The pants she has on makes her really grippy so she can't gracefully glide over the top of the boat. She is heaving herself across the top like she has velcro on her belly. This obviously slows her down which means everyone else is already in place and able to watch Jan ungracefully clawing herself from one side of the ship to the other. This is not fun for Jan even if it is wildly amusing for everyone else. She decides to go below deck and find herself a life jacket. She doesn't return up top until the cruise is almost over. During the middle of the race something on the front of the boat snapped off leaving our headsail flapping in the wind. This makes the skipper very anxious. He is yelling at everyone on the boat, "I want that F*!#er fixed already, what the F*!# are you people doing!" This continues for some time, while the man gets a wrench from below and then fixes the thingy. The skipper is also yelling at other boats on the harbour in this colourful manner. The skipper is yelling at my mom in this colourful manner for accidentally resetting the race clock. Basically, the skipper just likes to yell the f word. The ladies are thinking mutiny. I am soaking wet and cold because I have been acting as the balance weight and huge waves are crashing over the side of the boat. I am also concerned that Jan will not be forgiving me for this any time soon. Thankfully, the wind was so strong that the race was finished quickly, right before the lightning and rain started. Our boat did come in first, not that it made my mom or Jan feel any better. I supposed I shouldn't have tricked them by suggesting that we get some snacks and drinks for the sail. They thought it was going to be a pleasant ride while dining. They ended up being good sports about it, even treating Ang and I to a nice steak dinner.


I went to the doctor yesterday and he has scheduled my surgery for Dec 11. It will require a couple of stitches and they should come out after 10 days. The dermatologist (Simon) said that it was a very rare cancer to have on your face (something 2 other dermatologists had told me). Simon said that he only sees one patient a year with this type of cancer and therefore he wanted to get the pathology slides from the lab in TX to confirm the diagnosis. He went ahead and booked the surgery because he is fairly sure I will need it. Surgery should take 4-6 hours, 30 minutes in surgery and then an hour to analyze the skin layer. If there is cancerous cells in the layer, then Simon will take more skin. Its only under local anesthetic so I should be just fine the next day, apart for some minor swelling and bruising. All for the bargain price of $3,000!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's been a long time. . .

  • I shouldn’t have left you. . . I have been working (GASP!). So far, I really enjoy it as well. I not only get to play with stem cells and try to make them into components of the brain, but I also get to learn about the birds and the bees. I spent a whole day in the embryology department watching them catch sperm and inseminate eggs. I have to say that I am fantastically curious about what my eggs look like, but I hear the extraction process isn’t much fun. Hopefully, I will get to see someone else go through that next week. There are some downsides to the job. Everyday I am reminded that fertility is very much dependant on the age of both sexes and as it is a real clinic with patients you do see people going through some very difficult times. The office next to mine is “Miscarriage Management.” All in all I am very grateful for being able to work in a field where there is much progress to be made and where I believe a big impact can be made on human health. Perhaps Obama will lift the ban on stem cell research so that the US can put its resources into a technology capable of curing muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s, and spinal cord injury, just to name a few.
    In other news, I have been diagnosed with skin cancer. It sounds much worse than it actually is. . .I had this bump on my nose that would bleed every time I got out of the shower. I went to the dermatologist (after about 9 months) and she decided to biopsy it. The biopsy came back as a superficial malignant fibrous histiocytoma. I am told that it is a rare cancer to be found on your face. It basically is the same severity level as a carcinoma and simply requires excision. By the time I had received the biopsy results I had been an Australian permanent resident for about 2 weeks (yeah!), but I hadn’t bother to go and get Medicare because I didn’t think it was important (oops!). I have spent the last 2 weeks getting Medicare and then a referral from a GP so that I can go to a doctor who will perform the MOHS surgery on my face. MOHS is a special surgery, of which only 12 doctors in Australia are qualified to do, where they take a sliver of your skin off then do some staining and look at it under a microscope to determine if there are any cancerous cells in that layer. If there are cancerous cells, then they keep going and take the next layer. If there are no cancerous cells then they stop. The bad news is that the surgery is considered partly cosmetic since it would be way cheaper to just cut a huge chunk out of my nose. Medicare will cover my consultation fees but not the actual surgery which will cost me anywhere from $1,500-$3,000. It looks like my first paycheck as a big girl will be going to skin cancer. Kind of a bummer, but since the Aussie dollar is down to about 70c US, if I pay with my US credit card it will be like the surgery is 30% off! Cancer cloud silver lining!

Monday, September 1, 2008

The end of the eternal summer. . .almost

No joke, I got a job. I had 3 interviews last week in Singapore and got an offer. I started to seriously consider moving to Singapore. I flew back to Oz over Sunday night and arrived Monday morning. On Tuesday, I had an interview with Sydney IVF. They are looking for a neuroscientist to help them develop a stem cell models of neurodegenerative disease. I am their neuroscientist! I am very excited both about the job and moving to Sydney. I am going to the US first to visit my family, including the family vacation in the Bahamas, and move my stuff to Australia. I get back in Oz around the first of October and will have to find a place to live and move there before work starts on Oct. 15. I know most of you are shocked that I have actually gotten a job, but it had to happen sometime. I want to thank the people who fed, sheltered and clothed me on my year + hiatus, without you guys this wouldn't have been possible.

"Gramps"-For all the meals and nights I stayed at your place, including tonight.

Biba "Beeeeebs" Wythes-For taking care of me every time I was in Brizzy. You are the most amazing partner I have ever come across and if you ever want to upgrade from Fletch. . .I am your woman. Think of the chocolate I could bring you.

Ellis "Ayis Face" Caffin-No rent, free food, and stress-relieving giggles for the past couple of months, a girl couldn't be any luckier.

Angela "Pumpkin" Farrar-All the nights of Bones/Grey's, free dinner (even when it was my turn), and a sleep on that oh so comfortable couch.

Kate "my most significant other" Lewis-so you are broke, but , as always, you did provide me with moral support and job getting advice.

Laura "Kate's mom" Kislowski-for guiding me through the perils of "bullshitting your way to a career". I owe you so much.

Jean "Nana" & Jim "Grumpy" Scott-for the money and the support then, now, and always. see you in the Bahamas!
Up next:US of A, the Bahamas, and moving to Sydney