Category Archives: grocery shopping

Happy Blogiversary To Me (or How My Cousin Saved My Nose Piercing)

Exactly one year ago today I wrote my first post on this blog.  For those of you with nothing better to do than watch reruns, I will point you to that post here.

Since that time one year ago, I have written 125 posts; kind readers have left me 798 comments; and this blog has been viewed a whopping 16,478 times. 

But that’s not the point of today’s post.  The point of today’s post is to tell you about how my cousin (Hi Cousin!) saved my nostril piercing from early retirement.  Something I’m sure you all have a great interest in, no?  No?  Really?  Huh…  Then here, go read this instead.  It might make you laugh.

But for the rest of you, the story goes like this…

I was sitting on my front porch last Monday, Memorial Day actually, and I stood up to go take a look at something that my son wanted to show me in the yard.  And at the moment that I stood up it felt like someone had hit me in the back of my head with an axe.  A sharp axe.  And the pain, it took my breath away.  When I sat down, the pain disappeared. As long as I was sitting down, life was all flowers and sunshine and twittering birds with hearts overhead.   When I stood up however, the pain was back again, with a vengeance.  Think Michael Myers in Halloween.

Tylenol didn’t touch it.  Motrin barely made a dent in the pain.  And neither pill did a thing for the fear, for the anxiety, the knowledge, like nails dragged across chalkboard, screaming, THIS IS NOT RIGHT!

So early Tuesday morning I called the doctor and went to see her.  She felt the headache was probably the start of migraines, even though the pattern didn’t match any Google Migraine searches I had done.  Still, she gave me some headache pills and sent me on my way with an order to get an MRI, just to prove to me that this was nothing.  Not a tumor.  Not a stroke.  Just an invisible axe in the back of my head when I stood up and walked around.  Proof that life is best enjoyed napping or sitting quietly in the shade with a book and a cool glass of lemonade.

I scheduled the MRI as directed and read the instructions on how to prepare for the test.  My biggest hurdle would be removing my nostril piercing, because THOU SHALT NOT HAVE METAL NEAR THE MRI MACHINE, lest its powerful magnet suck you into some kind of break in the time-space continuum and fling you and your nostril piercing into outer space.

But my nostril piercing, I’d never changed it myself.  I’d read a lot about it, I visited the tattoo parlor where I had it done to ask for advice, and I shopped around and bought $25 dollars worth of clear plastic retainers, things that you can put in a piercing in place of your normal jewelry to keep the hole open.  Because according to all I’d read, these little holes from a piercing, especially the ones in your nose, can close in a jiffy.  Ten seconds flat, read one website.  And then, if that happened, I’d never be able to get my little diamond stud back in my nose.

Thursday night I took out my jewelry and after a bit of a struggle, managed to finally get one of the many different plastic retainers stuck in my nose in its place.

Friday morning I went for an uneventful MRI where they didn’t even care that my bra had metal underwires in it.  Hello?  Boobs surrounded by metal…giant magnet…fling into outer space?  Apparently, not a problem when they are merely scanning your brain.  Who knew?

But then came the tricky part.  After the MRI I came home and removed the retainer and tried to re-inset my nostril screw.  Without.Luck. I tried again.  And again.  And again.  And again. Eventually I gave up and put the retainer back in.  I drove to a local piercing place where they were “too busy” to help me. 

So I went home and tried again.  And again.  And again.  Think of it like the very first time you tried to change your earrings.  How the earring would go in, but you couldn’t get it to come out the other side.  Or if you were one of those lucky girls who changed her earrings without any problems on the very first try, then imagine trying to pierce your ear with a dull backed earring.  When you’re sober.  Ouch, right?

I tried numerous times throughout the day.  I emailed my cousin no less than six times with my Tales of Nose Woes.  And then, on Saturday morning, I gave up.  I took out the retainer and emailed my cousin to tell her I’d given up.  I was done.  Finished.  My nose, the nostril piercing, it was already closing up, healing, the hole was gone.

And I was more or less okay with it.  The hassle was too much, and how, I wondered, could I have my nose pierced if I was unable to take care of it, unable to change the jewelry by myself.  I emailed my cousin to tell her so.

She sent me an email back. She knew I couldn’t even manage to get the plastic retainer back in.  She makes jewelry for a living , and her nose is pierced too.  She said: For your nose…do you have a tiny regular earring you could put in there for the weekend?  I did, but I didn’t even want to try.  I was done. 

Except, apparently I wasn’t, because that one little question got me thinking.  And suddenly, I HAD TO KNOW whether the hole in my nose was really closed. Or not.  The same way I sometimes try to stick an earring in the 3rd piercing in my left ear, expecting the hole to be closed because I never wear anything in it but being pleasantly surprised that here, 20 years after I first got that hole, it is still open and I can still put an earring in it if I want.

So one more time I grabbed the nose screw and my tube of KY Jelly.  Oh stop!  I’ll have you know that the KY Jelly was purchased specifically for the purposes of changing out my nose screw because all the advice I had read on the subject said to lubricate the jewelry to make insertion easier.  And the tub of Vaseline I had was so old I was afraid to use it.  I bought the KY Jelly at the grocery store when I had a bunch of other things to buy because I was afraid if that was all I bought, I’d end up in the checkout lane run by the only male teenage cashier in the store.  And you and I both know he would barely be able to contain his giggles as he assumed the stuff was for something else, like the commercials suggest.

Anyway, so this was my last attempt.  I had no expectations because I had tried so many other times to change the jewelry and it didn’t work, and my nose was sore, and like I said, I had officially given up.  But what do you?  This time, it worked!  The jewelry went in!  And there it stays for fear of never being able to repeat this miraculous feat.

It may be that leaving the piercing empty for a day let the swelling and irritation of my previous attempts go down and that is why it worked.  Or maybe it was because this attempt was out of sheer curiosity and I wasn’t even really trying.  But I actually attribute it all to my cousin, who with that one little sentence, got me curious enough to try it one last time.

Thanks, cousin! And Happy Blogiversary to me!



Filed under blogging, family, grocery shopping, Halloween, life, nose piercing, thanks

Paper or Plastic? Who Cares?!

Paper or plastic is the least of my worries when I shop for groceries.  And the truth is, I couldn’t care less about the type of bag my groceries go into.  My son has food allergies: he is allergic to milk, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts.  Although some families choose to keep an allergen free household, some families do not.  I fall into the latter category.  My son is six.  He understands his allergies, he knows what he must avoid, he remembers the feeling of being stuck with the Epi Pen to combat past allergic reactions, so he doesn’t touch the foods that he is allergic to.  But there is nutrition to be gained from milk, from eggs, from nuts: calcium and protein, healthy fats.  Plus, they just taste good. So I buy those foods for my husband and I to eat even though I admit that I cannot hear the “Got Milk?” campaign without repeating it in my head this way: Got Milk Allergy?  And as I shop for milk and eggs and nuts I think of those items as “poison”. 

And so grocery shopping involves more than list making and running out to the store to pick up a few items.  It involves label reading and gut instinct checks and decision making.  It involves space planning and stage management, even traffic management skills, and it involves, of course answering the question “Paper or plastic?”

When you have a food allergy you do not eat ANYTHING unless you can read the ingredient label on it.  And because manufacturers can and do change ingredients often and without warning, you have to read the label each and every time you purchase something to eat.  Since I am the parent, and since my son is six and just learning to read, that job falls on me.  At the store this means I pull an item from the shelf and read the ingredient label and look for any allergen warning statements before putting the item in my cart.  Bought pop tarts last week and need more?  Well, you’ll have to read the label again before you buy them.  Even if it’s the same flavor?  Yes, even if it’s the same flavor.

Sometimes it’s not as simple as just reading the label.  An item may appear safe, the ingredients may all be fine, but then you notice that the same company makes a different flavor of the same item, and that different flavor contains one of your child’s allergens.  Consider something like biscuit mix or spaghetti sauce or cereal, as these items often come in different varieties.  The company that makes biscuit mix, and the company that makes spaghetti sauce also sell similar versions containing cheese.  How confident do I feel on any given shopping trip that the two products weren’t run on the same production lines? The label doesn’t have to tell me about that.  And even when I know what the company line is, because I talk to them often enough about their products, still, seeing the two products side by side on the grocery store shelf sometimes gives me pause.  So I check my gut instinct.  If I feel funny about buying something on any given day, I listen to my gut and put the item back on the shelf.  Maybe this week I’ll make biscuits from scratch.

Since my husband and I drink milk and eat things like cheese and ice cream and eggs, when I buy those items, I have to be a space planner as I fill my grocery cart.  I pay attention to where I am setting the “poison”, the foods that my son is allergic to.  In my mind I worry about them.  At home I have a system to keep the poison away from the safe food, but in the grocery cart, they all mingle.  It makes me nervous.  There is a chance, even though it’s probably remote, that the milk might leak on the bag of bread.  And the plastic bag sometimes has snags in it.  What if a tiny speck of milk protein got on the bag in just the right spot, along a seam where there is a tiny hole, almost too small to see?  And what if I make my son a sandwich and he reacts from the milk protein that leaked from gallon of milk onto the bread bag, and in through that tiny hole?  How awful would I feel then?  And so I am careful to separate the poison from the safe foods as much as I can.

And later, when putting the food onto the conveyor belt at the cash register, I am the stage director and traffic cop.  I load the groceries carefully, being sure to keep the poison separate, ever watchful as the cashier reaches over items to grab something that might better fit into the bag she is loading.  I move food back toward me on the conveyor belt, pulling back the milk, pulling back the ice cream, pushing forward the ground beef and the apples.  Bag the dishwasher detergent, the bathroom cleaner, bag the apples with it, the potatoes, I don’t care.  If chemicals spills all over the fruit I’ll wash it off.  But by God, keep the milk away from the bread, the eggs away from the grapes.

When I get home I read the labels again as I put the groceries away.  I write on the boxes and cans and bottles to indicate if they are safe or not safe for my son.  When I am tired, or when I have bought something new that my son has never eaten before, I hand it to my husband for him to read the label, a second set of eyes. A second opinion. A safety net.

Once more when I get ready to make something. I check the label once more, just to be sure.  Remember I’ve already read the label at the store, and I read it again and marked the food when I put it away, but still, I cannot help it.  What if I missed something?  And so now it’s three times, like somebody with OCD.  But you can’t be too careful when your child has food allergies. So read the label each and every time, and do that three times.  Keep the allergen containing foods away from the safe foods.  Mark them with a black sharpie, or stickers, red for things that aren’t safe, green for things that are.

And don’t worry about paper or plastic.  That’s the least of your worries.


Filed under food allergies, grocery shopping