In which I get a new medicine

Like many women, I take some sort of medicine for birth control. And no, before you run away, this post will not be focusing on that. Not that it’s any of your business, but I take this particular type of medicine so that I don’t get deathly ill for several days each month. The “no babies” thing is just a nice bonus.
Anyhoo, for years I was on the depo-provera shot. This only requires visiting a nurse practitioner once every 3 months and getting an injection in the top of your glut muscle. This is preferable to the pill, which you have to remember to take at the same time every day. I tried that in the past, but with my irregular work schedule, it was a challenge (even if I set an alarm on my phone). The only problem with the shot was that I gained weight that I just could not lose. I eat pretty healthily, I go to the gym usually 4 times a week, and I hike in the woods and walk around town often. But even after months of this routine, I still had a muffin top that I just couldn’t get rid of. So I looked into the Nexplanon implant.

I’m writing this blog today because though I had heard of the implant, I didn’t know anyone who had been on it, and neither did any of the people I talked to. So I think it’s not a very common form of birth control.

This is a tiny plastic rod that is surgically implanted in the inside of your upper arm, and gives you 3 years’ worth of medicine. THREE YEARS. Not only can I completely forget about it, but I don’t have to pay for it ever again. I did a lot of research, and a consultation with the doctor at Planned Parenthood (because they are awesome and I love them) and decided this was the right way to go. I asked of course if you could see the implant, and they said no. I asked if I could get tattooed in that spot, and I was the first person to ever ask that, so they would have to get back to me. I waited the set amount of time after the consultation, and was still ready to go for it. They told me to take the day off from work, especially since in my work I use my arms more than anything else.

When I got there, they asked if I had any questions. I asked again about the tattoo, and was told that it should be fine, but I should use my own judgement according to how light- or heavy- handed my artist is. I have many blank spots on my skin, so even if I have to wait 3 years to get a tattoo in that one particular spot, it’s not a deal breaker.

I knew that it was a minor surgical procedure I was about to get done, but I didn’t realize how involved it was still going to be. I had to sign all sorts of forms, and the doctor was very strict on the sterilization of everything. They actually had to start the prep again at one point because the assistant handed something to the doctor that she wasn’t supposed to touch. Everyone was wearing gloves and the surfaces were covered in sterile towels, but the doctor was adamant. I don’t mind that, because the less chance of grisly infection, the better. In fact, most of the side effects that I had to acknowledge as possibilities were from the procedure (infection) and not from the actual medicine.

I did not watch them once they actually began the procedure, because I do not do well with things like that. But I could feel it. They first gave me a shot of local anesthetic, which in itself hurt and burned a little bit. Then they literally sliced my arm open and inserted a matchstick -sized piece of plastic. A coupla stitches were made, and various sterile bandages were applied. I was given instructions that the outer bandage (a stretchy plasticy cloth type thing that wrapped around my entire arm) was to stay on for 24 hours, and the butterfly shaped steri-strips were to stay in place for three days. Regular bandaids could be used to cover it for as long as I felt necessary. I was also told to take it easy for a few days, as my arm was definitely going to hurt. Showering was fine, but no swimming or submerging my open wound in water. More instructions on what to watch for, and when to call them back if one of those side effects did happen, and then they sent me on my merry way.

My arm did hurt that day and the next, very much. More than a fresh tattoo. There was a constant ache, and I could not wait to get the outer bandage off, because it was VERY tight. Once the outer bandage was off, however, I wished it was back on. Like a fresh tattoo, you never notice how often you hit your body on other things. You wouldn’t think the inside of your upper arm would make a lot of contact with the outside world, but wait until it swells up and is extremely tender. Even brushing the sore spot against my own boob caused me to yelp out in pain. But you know what, it healed normally and the pain stopped completely within a week. I was still nervous about going to the gym, but I think part of that was psychological, since I was aware of the implant near my muscle and was so sure I could feel it straining.

As of this writing, it’s been exactly a month since I got that procedure done. There is no pain at all anymore. There is a small round scar from the implant site, but it’s not actually noticeable to most people. I can feel the implant itself if I touch my arm, which I have mixed emotions about. As for tattooing, I think I’ll go ahead and wait until it’s out to get any ink in that spot. If I change my mind, however, the implant can be removed at any time. I just have to go through a similar (minor) procedure.

Here are the pictures. I didn’t take any until now because frankly, it was gross. I didn’t want to look at it, nor subject any of you to it. Also, it’s really hard to take a picture of yourself in this manner. Go on, try it.

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The first picture shows the placement of the site on my arm. If you look closely, you can see the spot just above my finger. The actual rod that you can feel extends towards my armpit from there a few centimeters, maybe an inch. The second picture is a close up of the scar, and also goosebumps because I was cold. I think it looks redder in the picture than it does in real life. Nobody has ever asked me about it – one because it’s in an odd spot that most people don’t usually look at or see, and two because that’s a weird thing to ask someone.

As for the cost. I am glad I have insurance. (Thanks Obama!) According to my insurance’s website, they were billed $1309. Because this is something that insurance covers (probably partly due to the fact that I’ve tried other medicines), I was told I owe $8.09. That’s right, EIGHT DOLLARS. I can’t speak for everyone, but that’s a pretty damn good deal on my end. I can easily spend more than that on lunch, and I don’t have to pay anything more for three years. That’s totally worth it, besides the fact that if I didn’t have it I would be missing out on several days’ income each month, and/or all the costs that are associated with pregnancy and raising a tiny human. So yeah, I’ll pay the $8. If I didn’t have insurance, that would be another story. I certainly couldn’t afford $1300 up front, but maybe if they let me do payments…. Anyway, I’m glad I don’t have to even think about the what ifs.

How do I feel? Well, I mentioned that after the first few days, there is no pain. I haven’t noticed any hormonal side effects either. I am positive that it is because I have already been on this medicine for years, just at a different dose. If I went to the implant straight from the pill (or nothing), there would probably be more for me to write here. But thank goodness on that. I still notice the scar, but if I wear long enough sleeves, even that is not an issue.

I hope this has been helpful and informative. I am not a doctor of course, so if you are considering getting this medicine, definitely talk to someone who is. I can answer any questions you have, based on only my experience. But I think that since my experience has been a good one, this blog is a good blanket to start with in your research.

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The Great Gatsby is … great (mild spoilers)

The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books, and has been since the first time I read it in high school. (I’m sure my teacher helped with that too.) However, the film adaptations so far have not been… well, great. So when I heard that they were doing yet another, I was indifferent. That is, until I heard that Baz Luhrmann was the director. You might remember him as the director of Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge. Both are visually stunning movies, and since Gatsby is a very visual book, I thought it would be a good fit.

I was not disappointed. All the imagery of the book, like the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock and the all-seeing eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, were portrayed excellently and poignantly. And, because this is a Baz Luhrmann movie that features stylized parties, well, those were just damn fun. Yes, the soundtrack features modern songs, but that’s what Baz does and I didn’t let it bother me to hear Will.I.Am or Beyonce in 1922.

The acting didn’t impress me one way or another. I am a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio, and I think he played Jay Gatsby well. Not outstanding, but well. Carey Mulligan is just adorable as Daisy, and if anyone in this movie was to be nominated for an Oscar*, it would be her. Elizabeth Debicki was wonderful as Jordan – she was described in the book as “balancing an invisible teacup on her chin” and I definitely thought that she took that sentence to heart. Many of the other characters, such as Myrtle and Tom, were not as I pictured them at all, but obviously Baz and I are allowed to have different interpretations and there is nothing wrong with that. As for Tobey Maguire as Nick, well, I’ve never been impressed with his work one way or another. I’ve never jumped out of my seat and yelled “YES! Now that is a role that could only have been played by the dude from Pleasantville!”  I was indifferent towards his portrayal of Nick; he did a fine job, but it didn’t leave me marveling in awe.

As for the story, I’m really trying not to nitpick. I realize that film and books are completely different media, and one does not translate to the other. However, I am biased because as I mentioned, it is one of my favorite books, and I re-read it just the day before seeing the movie. Overall, it was a pretty good adaptation. There were a few minor differences (again, fresh in my mind) but no key scenes were deleted. There was a framing story of Nick telling his story to a psychiatrist and eventually turning it into a book, and we see that the character is listed as depressed, alcoholic, and a few other things. Seems to me that they tapped F.Scott Fitzgerald for that inspiration, rather than the character of Nick Carraway. The book and movie both mention that Nick had only been drunk twice in his life, so apparently some liberties were taken with Nick’s character after [SPOILERS] Gatsby’s death. That’s ok.

They did leave out a throwaway line from the book that I always find amusing. Jay is telling Nick “the truth” of his life while they are in the car at the beginning of the story and he mentions his parents were “wealthy people from the Middle-West.” Nick asks where in the Middle-west, and Jay replies “San Francisco.”
Speaking of scenes that make me chuckle that weren’t in the movie – when Nick is leaving his first Gatsby party, Owl Eyes crashes his car. He is so drunk that he doesn’t realize that the tire has literally separated from the car, and keeps mumbling that he is out of gas. The movie touched on it with one sentence in the background, but the scene in the book was quite a bit longer and funnier. It’s not essential to the plot, but I enjoy it.

HERE BE SPOILERS: (kinda)

The one thing that I felt would have added to the movie in a substantial way was the very end of the book, which was not included. Gatsby is murdered, and Nick is left to plan the funeral and such all by himself. The film mentions that Nick was “all <Gatsby> had,” but the book shows the lengths that Nick has gone to find somebody – anybody – that will show his respects. The few people he does manage to get a hold of all decline or ignore Nick’s pleas, and Nick becomes increasingly distraught over letting down his friend, ironically by being his only friend. Magically though, Jay Gatsby (nee James Gatz)’s father shows up, having gotten word of his son’s death. Nick apologizes for not contacting him (he didn’t know he even existed), but Mr. Gatz is too much in awe of his son’s home and possessions to notice. He is very proud that his son made something of himself, and it is not revealed if he knew just what kind of something that was. This scene shows the humanity of Gatsby – even though he had changed his name and invented a new persona for himself (that was otherwise alone in life), he still had a proud father that wept at his death, even after not speaking to him for years.

So my conclusion on Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great American Novel is that it is worth seeing. It has all the classic elements – love, mistrust, the pursuit of money (for love), death, etc.  The ending is sad, but I did not weep. (And I weep at everything.) Visually, it is beautiful. The movie does feel like a journey, and it is a journey worth taking.

*While I’m not so into any Oscar noms for acting in this movie, Costume design, makeup, and set design are definitely my picks, even this early in the season.

Oscar om nom noms

So the Academy Award nominations were announced this morning, conveniently enough while I was asking facebook and twitter about when they were going to be announced. Also, I saw Lincoln* last night, so now I’ve seen enough movies this year to actually have an opinion on these things. You might remember me saying that Les Mis was going to take them all. I’m not changing my mind completely, but making some amendments. I made a handy chart listing only the movies I’ve seen and what they are nominated for. The complete listing of all nominees can be found here.

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I color coded it by category … because I’m a nerd like that. Just be glad I didn’t make it an excel spreadsheet, because I kinda wanted to but this post was already taking too long. I might still do it if I feel like procrastinating going to the gym or something, which is definitely a possibility.

Anyhoo… Let’s discuss. I admit, a lot of these categories mean nothing to me. I don’t know what Production Design entails, or the difference between Sound Mixing and Sound Editing is, or how to tell if they are good. I just know that those are usually won by movies like Transformers. SO I didn’t offer an opinion on every single category listed.

Best picture – I still maintain that Les Mis will take it. The others were good, but, well, read the blog.

Best Actor – Hugh Jackman. DDL was very good, as always, but Hugh showed more range. Plus he was singing.

Best Supporting Actress – Sally Field. This category isn’t right. Sally should be in the Best Actress Category. She had a much heftier role than Anne. But I think Sally has what the judges are looking for. Sorry, Anne.

Costume Design – Hm, I thought Les Mis had this one, but Lincoln is also a period piece. Rich people’s costumes are much more elaborate than paupers’, so I think Lincoln gets it.

Makeup and Hairstyling – I think Lincoln gets this one too. Not only did they make everyone well-aged, they made this guy:

look like this guy:

As for the Hobbit, I expect they will sweep the awards with movie #3, just like Lord of the Rings did.

Original Song – Is the song from Les Mis actually original? Is it not part of the well known Broadway play? I don’t know the play at all, so that’s an honest question. Either way, I say this one goes to Skyfall. Maybe that’s the radio at work’s fault, but the more I hear Adele’s beautiful voice, the more I want to watch the movie again.

Visual Effects – Life of Pi. Avengers was awesome and all alien-superheroey, and again, The Hobbit has 2 sequels coming. Life of Pi was truly amazing, and I didn’t even see it in 3d. They computer generated a tiger for the whole movie (#bestsupportingtiger)! The ocean scenes were just breathtaking. The visuals in this movie beat out anything I could come up with my own while reading the book (which I have yet to do). The visuals in this movie were my favorite thing ever. I can’t praise them enough. And my opinion counts, dammit!

Directing – to be honest, this is one I don’t really understand either. But generally it goes to the winner of Best Picture, so I’ll stick with Les Mis.

Cinematography – This is a tough one. Life of Pi and Lincoln were both visually great. But I think Pi deserves it more in the Visual Effects category and Lincoln gets this one. There were lots of shadowy profile shots that were excellent at conveying both the mood of the film and keeping up reverence for Abraham Lincoln. That’ how they judge this right? Reverence to presidents?

Original Score – Life of Pi. Since this movie had a lot of empty background noise to fill, it’s soundtrack was especially important. It was perfect for setting the tone to each scene, and to be honest, probably helped bring more than a few tears to my eye.

So those are the major categories, at least in my mind. Here are two more categories, which are important, but I don’t have an educated opinion on:

Animated Film
Brave
Wreck-it Ralph

I wanted to see the other films in this category, but I haven’t. Brave will probably take it, because well, Disney-Pixar. I would prefer if Ralph took it because I enjoyed the nerd-cred of it, but I don’t think Oscar cares about that.

 ShortFilm-Animated
Paperman

Yes, I only saw one film in this category, but I’m not sure it should win. It was very cute, but it’s up against a Simpsons film. I might have a minor obsession with the Simpsons, though I haven’t seen this one. So I’m biased there. Not listed was one called La Lune, which was also Pixar, but I think I liked that one better than Paperman. But good for Paperman if it wins.

So there you have it – a very well thought out and long-winded Oscar piece. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, but either way, you should see all of these movies. (See Life of Pi on the big screen!)

*I had to italicize the title because otherwise it looks like I just ran into a dead former president on the street somewhere.

In which I get a massage

I’d never had a professional massage before, so when I was given a gift certificate for my birthday (back in June…) I was excited to use it. You know, so excited that I waited 7 months. But I’d been having neck- and headaches, and my shoulders were tight, so I assumed that the free massage would solve all my problems.

It was not at a normal salon or spa though – it was a business run by a husband and wife out of their house.  I don’t know what to do in that situation: do I knock on the front door, or just walk in? I went ahead in, only because I had seen someone look out the window when I drove up. It was still weird though. But I introduced myself, and they were expecting me since I had an appointment. The husband was the one that would be working on me, which is fine. They asked, but I honestly had no preference.

The massage itself was fine. Nice, even. But awkward.  I already don’t like strangers touching me, even if I know it will feel good and I am (in theory) paying for it. The “massage oil” wasn’t oil at all, more of like a  wax. In fact, I think it was natural beeswax, as they placed high importance on natural therapy. That’s all well and good, but not really my style. There wasn’t any aromatherapy to go with it, which I had expected. Plus I couldn’t get over the whole house thing. Their dog was barking, I could hear people walking around on the hardwood floors and up & down the stairs. When my face was in the little circle thing so he could massage my back, all I could look at were his moccassin slippers.

It was a good massage. I was a little torn that it was only a 30 -minute massage, so I didn’t get the works, but I was relieved to leave. And there was the dog, waiting right outside the door. I’d go back to them, but I will probably go to an actual massage parlor instead. I just like that separation, and the lack of it was very odd.

review of Les Miserables

(Don’t worry, no spoilers.)

As a literature major, of course I am familiar with Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. I also know that there is a Broadway musical and countless movies based on it. But I’ll admit, I’ve never actually read it or seen any incarnation of it. Somehow I knew the characters’ names though (mainly Jean ValJean and Cosette, but still).

But when the most recent movie remake came out, the one with Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, I went to go see it. I knew enough about the story that I knew I would be in tears, because 1) I cry at the drop of a hat at movies anyway, and 2) the title is LITERALLY “The Miserable People.” Not gonna be a feelgood, happy tale. I resisted seeing it on opening day, which was Christmas, because nobody wants to cry on Christmas. Also, I was lazy, but that’s beside the point.

I went to see it the day after, and I was not disappointed. Well, I was disappointed in the fact that I cried the whole time, but that’s only because the movie was so good. Les Miz is a musical, yes, but did you know that there is literally no spoken dialogue? The whole thing is sung. And it was sung on set, by the actors, in the moment. It was not redubbed later. That just speaks to the tremendous talent of the cast. Which brings me to my main point: this movie is going to win all the Oscars. All of them. Just you wait. Cast your bets at Oscar parties, then send me some of the winnings when the awards show proves me right.

It has all the Academy Award elements:
– death, both by disease and in battle, and even by children.
– epic length. I think it was like 3.5 hours long.
– historical setting (hello costume design!).
– stirring interpersonal relationships: love, hate, and a conflicting mixture of the two. All kinds of both too – between families, classes, etc.
-comic relief. Sadly, Helena Bonham Carter and Sascha Baron Cohen will not be the award winners (even though they both have three names and I think that helps). They were both very good though. Very reminiscent of their roles in Sweeney Todd.
– of course great performances, but you already knew that. There are plenty of previous award winners. I’m too lazy to look it up and prove it to you, but if you don’t believe me, use your power of google-fu.

Here’s the TL;DR version.

Go see this movie, but bring a box of tissues. Even the guys in the audience had something in their eye. You don’t have to see it on the big screen, but the surround sound is awesome. Also, close ups of bad teeth.

(Semi-related side note: The Flat Rock Playhouse in Hendersonville, NC will be putting on this play this year. I want to go see it, as I know it will be excellent because everything they do is, but I don’t want to cry the whole time. Which I will. So if you’re anywhere near this area or planning a vacation, you should go see the play too.)