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September 29, 2006

My Special Club

The Tiny Kingdom has tons of clubs you can belong to, but in general, I’m not much of a joiner. I declined invitations to the Junior League and the Twins Club. The idea of the latter was especially perplexing to me. I could see a club for Moms With Well-Behaved Children Who Baby Sit Each Other, or perhaps the Moms With One Extremely Still and Quiet Child Who Requires Virtually No Care and Feeding at All, but even when I had only one child I could see that it would be impossible for a mother of newborn twins and a two year old to get to the bathroom, much less a meeting outside the house.

I don’t sew or smock, so I’ve never been invited to join the club where mothers hand make outfits for their children and then put on a fashion show to raise money for the arts. After I heard a rumor that one mom knit matching bikinis for herself and her daughter and pranced down the runway in the ensemble, I came close to asking someone to sponsor me for membership. I would have paid big bucks to see such bravery.

But I do belong to one special club. No one had to write me a recommendation or bring a bottle of wine to a meeting and then stand up and tell everyone I was a “cute girl” from a “good family” with “an impeccable reputation” who would “be a valuable addition” to the organization. In fact, membership in this club is involuntary.

Here are some of the more well-known members:

allen phil Ken_Kesey glamoreshot evel
naomi dusty pam mickey jack david larry tyler

It’s a varied lot, yes? Musicians, sports figures, actors, writers… I’ll give you a minute to identify them and decide what we have in common.

Left to right: Allen Ginsberg, Phil Lesh, Ken Kesey, Anne Glamore, Evel Knievel, Naomi Judd, Dusty Hill, Pamela Anderson, Mickey Mantle, Jack Kevorkian, David Crosby, Larry Hagman, Steven Tyler

What unites us? Here’s the story.


In the spring of 1997, Finn was a little over a year old and I was practicing law full time. I started losing weight and my head felt buzzy. I got dizzy when I stood up, and I slept whenever I could. Something was wrong, so I went to the doctor.

“You are a tired working mother,” was his diagnosis.

I’m sure that was partly true, but I knew that something else was going on so I sought a second opinion. This doctor performed some blood tests which revealed I had elevated liver enzymes. An ultrasound showed that all was well with my gallbladder, and my doctor advised me that she was ordering a test which she guessed would show that I had hepatitis.

I remember sitting in her office and looking at her blankly. Although I’d practiced medical malpractice defense law, I’d never had a case involving hepatitis, and I knew nothing at all about the disease.

Once I’d been definitely diagnosed with hepatitis C and scheduled for a liver biopsy, I learned a lot about the virus. It’s transmitted by contact with tainted blood. I’d received blood transfusions during my original surgery for scoliosis in 1980, before the blood supply was tested for hepatitis C (or HIV, for that matter).

My biopsy revealed that my liver had suffered some damage from unknowingly living with the disease for seventeen years. My physician advised me to finish having children before undergoing treatment for hepatitis, and Porter and Drew were born in August of 1998. (The disease is a slow one, so delaying treatment for a year or so wasn’t likely to affect my liver much given the amount of damage I had sustained thus far.)

When the twins were six months old, I started a year-long treatment. Three times a week, Bill and I would put all the boys into the bathtub where they’d be out of the way, and he’d give me a shot of interferon. I took ribavirin pills each day. I had thought having one kid and a law career was exhausting. Adding twins, a scary disease, shots and a feeling of general uncertainly about the future showed us what stress really is.

I suffered most of the side effects associated with the treatment and had to stop working for a while. At the end of a grueling year, I had a negative hepatitis C test, which still hangs on our bathroom wall as a reminder not to take good health for granted. Last October I celebrated my fifth year of remission from the disease. I wrote about it here and here. My mom heard the good news a couple of weeks before she died.

October 1 is World Hepatitis Awareness Day. I wanted you to know that anyone can have the disease, and the “silent epidemic” can be quietly destroying your liver while you feel perfectly fine. Most patients find out accidentally that they have the disease, when they are being treated for another problem, having an insurance test, or being screened to give blood. My story of seeking help for symptoms is the exception.

Each of the member of the club pictured above has or had the disease.

Please click HERE to see if you may be at risk.

As you can see, all of my children were at risk because I was HCV positive at the time I gave birth to them. I had them all tested last summer, which involved taking blood from trembling arms, sopping up tears, and large scoops of ice cream. It was a huge blessing to find out that they are all negative. I’ll just worry about buck teeth, scoliosis, acne, and other childhood traumas for them.

If you haven’t signed up to be an organ donor, please consider it. Lots of people could use your liver when you’re through with it. These days, you can even donate part of your liver while you’re still kicking, as doctors have had great success with living liver donation. (Your liver is as large as a football, and you have plenty to spare). I have a good friend whose nine year old son is doing great with a chunk of his uncle’s liver.

Plenty of other people have written eloquently on this topic. Here are some places to check out if you’re interested in learning more:

Penny Arcade’s Story

Phil Lesh’s HepC Site

Kelly Luker’s entertaining article from the point of view of a child of the sixties

Steven Tyler’s story

Naomi Judd’s HCV Site

Posted by Anne Glamore @ 7:38 amHepatitis C,Spines & Livers & Bones, Oh My!Comments are off  

March 2, 2006

Ovarian Cancer and Me

As my long time readers are aware, I consider myself an expert at navigating the healthcare system. I’ve developed my talents out of sheer necessity. After you’ve had someone chase you with a specimen cup of what may (or may not) be your urine, or gotten a call that the lab lost the eight tubes of blood they drew last week, you stop depending on doctors and nurses to be perfect and start looking out for yourself.

I developed these skills during my fight against hepatitis C and my spine surgeries, both of which I’ve written about in previous posts. However, my body has been cooperating with me lately. My liver and spine are both doing well and I’ve had a brief respite from spending too much time with doctors.

All this changed once my mom died of ovarian cancer nearly five months ago. (If you’re a new reader, you can read a post about the circumstances of her death here.)
Ovarian cancer has claimed a number of famous victims, such as Gilda Radner, Elizabeth Tilberis (Editor of Harper’s Bazaar) and and most recently, Coretta Scott King. After Mrs. King’s death, several papers published articles describing the disease like this one. Some also reprinted the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, which can be found here. My mother experienced most of these symptoms before her diagnosis.

After Mom died, I talked with my mother’s oncologist and my gynecologist about the steps I should take in order to lessen my own risk of contracting ovarian cancer. I started taking a low dose birth control pill under the theory that preventing ovulation reduces the chance of developing abnormal cells.

My doctors also recommended that I get a CA-125 blood test (a test for tumor markers) and a vaginal ultrasound every six months so that any abnormalities would be detected as early as possible. As with many cancers, early detection makes a huge difference in survival rates for those with ovarian cancer.

So I did. Not to get all Katie Couric on you, but here’s the proof:

marchblog 006

Erica draws blood for the CA-125 test. She was a good sticker!

marchblog 007

I get ready for the ultrasound. Thanks, Kim, for keeping up a light conversation to keep my mind off things during the procedure, which was painless.

Thankfully, my tests came back clear. The screening is something I’ll repeat twice a year for the rest of my life. If you have a reason to believe you are at risk for ovarian cancer, you should do it too.

I’ve plugged this book before, but Jerome Groopman’s Second Opinions is
a worthy read, which emphasizes the importance of trusting your own
instincts, getting second opinions, and asking questions when you’re
facing a health issue. Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science
by Atul Gawande also stresses that healthcare professionals are simply
human, subject to making mistakes just like the rest of us. Both are
easy to read and understand.

I’m packing up my soapbox now!

PS- Yes, once again, I’m in my Jazzerwear. You’d think I could visit the doctor or wax my mustache in decent clothes, and maybe put on a smidge of makeup. I’ll try to do better.

Posted by Anne Glamore @ 2:44 pmDeep Thoughts,Hepatitis C,Ovarian Cancer,Scoliosis,Spines & Livers & Bones, Oh My!1 comment  

February 7, 2006

Return of the Babysitter Stealer

The mothers in the Tiny Kingdom come in all varieties:the crafty moms and the social climbers, the well-coiffed and the sweatpant wearing, the tennis players and the perpetual room mothers (God bless them), those who engage in sordid affairs and those who quickly let the rest of us know the gory details. I make no judgments about these women. Many are my friends. But I do want to be clear about one thing:

There is a special place in hell reserved for the most vile of all creatures, those who will stop at nothing to get what they want: the babysitter stealers.

Childless readers may not fully appreciate the importance of a dependable babysitter to those of us saddled with children. A babysitter is the promise of freedom. Without my sitter, I’d be confined to a house full of smelly boys, endless laundry, and Go-gurt that disappears almost as soon as it is purchased.

Friends share clothes, jewelry, table cloths and china without a second thought. Friends do not share babysitters so casually. I treat my babysitter’s name and phone number as classified information, divulging it only when a dear, trusted friend is in desperate need. Just because someone was in your wedding and could be counted on to walk down the aisle without dropping a bridesmaid’s bouquet does not mean that she will automatically be privy to your babysitter’s phone number.

Many babysitters don’t realize their significance to the women they work for. They might like the children they are keeping, but ultimately babysitters are in it for the money. Therefore, it’s up to the parents to police themselves and observe the protocol of babysitter etiquette. It is an unwritten rule that when you share your babysitter with someone else, it is for one time only. If the friend wants to call the sitter again, good manners dictate that she call you first and ask if you will be needing her. You have the right of first refusal of your sitter for that day.

Of course, if you’re a complete bitch, you can steal a sitter from someone else. But be warned: stealing a woman’s babysitter is like sleeping with her husband. Maybe worse, depending on the babysitter’s skill and the strength of the marriage.

I was the victim of a babysitter snatcher was several years ago. She was crafty and cunning; she used my mom to do the dirty work. My mother called me with a tale of woe. A friend’s daughter was new to town and needed a sitter for the weekend.

“I’ve only got one babysitter, and that’s Katie,” I told my mom. “I don’t give her number out to anyone. Even when The Voice used her one time, I made her tear up the piece of paper with Katie’s number on it after she called her.”

“You girls are so crazy about your sitters,” my mom said.

“Hey, a good sitter is extremely hard to come by, so when you find one you have to guard her like the only Hershey’s Kiss in a room full of PMS-ing women,” I protested.

Mom snorted. “Very funny,” she said. “Leah is having some health problems and is in a bad fix. I’m sure you could help her out this once.”

When Mom mentioned the health problems, that made me pause. I’ve been there and done that. In a moment of weakness and sheer stupidity, I gave my mom Katie’s phone number.

“Now, you make sure Leah understands that this loan is for the weekend only. Katie is my regular babysitter. She keeps my kids after school three days a week while I am at work. She is a vital part of my family,” I emphasized. “If Leah needs her own babysitter, she can ask Katie if she can recommend a friend, or she can call the number of the Placement Office at the University and they’ll send her a list of people who’d love to help her out.” For good measure, I gave Mom the Placement Office number to pass on to Leah as well.

I never saw Katie again. Apparently Leah put her on retainer and forbade her from accepting any other babysitting jobs. I couldn’t blame Katie– a babysitter has to take the best money available, although a little loyalty would have been nice. It was Leah who had stepped over the line, using my mother and her own illness to get to my sitter. Hell, she never even wrote me a thank you note for helping her out for what I thought was just a tough weekend, but turned out to be the next three years. Leah’s transgression was serious– no one likes a babysitter stealer, and you can ruin your reputation quickly when you engage in that type of behavior.

Last week, I was asking my current sitter, Angela, about her availability several days next month. She was already scheduled to keep another child on one of the days I needed her.

“Dang,” I said. “I’ll ask Chatty Mom if she can keep the boys that day.”

“Maybe I could bring the boy to your house and keep all four there,” Angela suggested. “You probably know the mom. Katie gave her my name.”

“Really? Who is it?” I asked.

“Her name is Leah,” Angela said.

I was dumbfounded. She’d struck again.

“Don’t worry about it,” I said to Angela before I could let my feelings get the best of me. “I’ll just work something else out.” I hung up the phone and started breathing heavily.

Then I realized that I could get pissed or I could get even. I decided to get even. I called Angela’s number and got her voice mail.

“Hey Angela, it’s Anne,” I said. “I tell you what. I’ll pay you double if you cancel on Leah at the last minute and come sit for me that day. Let me hear from you!”

Payback’s a bitch, honey.

Posted by Anne Glamore @ 11:41 amHepatitis C,Inventions, Creations, Experiments,Scoliosis,Spines & Livers & Bones, Oh My!,Tiny Kingdom ExclusiveNo comments  

December 22, 2005

Showdown at the Salon

I’m engaged in a territory dispute here in the Kingdom, in an unlikely place with an even more unlikely opponent. But my will is strong, and I will not be bullied into backing down.

I’ve seen many doctors over the past decade for my spine, liver and migraine problems. Most of my physicians have been nothing but wonderful, but I didn’t get along so well with one particular doctor several years ago. He seemed to view me as a medical chart, not a real person. After I experienced a complication that Bill and I thought was serious enough to warrant a visit to the ER, and that Dr. X apparently felt was minor enough that he could wait a few days before returning our frantic calls, I changed doctors. (That medical problem has now been successfully resolved.)

A while ago, I went to Athena Salon for an appointment with Teppie, my funky hairstylist, to color my hair and get it cut. She wasn’t quite finished with the client before me, and as I drew closer I saw that the person draped in the turquoise cape was Dr. X. It had been several years since I had last seen him.

I shuddered, and then I remembered my manners.

“Dr. X, is that you under that smock?” I asked sweetly.

“Yes,” he said, surprised. Perhaps he didn’t recognize me, but I couldn’t blame him. The last time I’d seen him I’d probably been a blonde or a redhead.

“Oh, you know Dr. X?” Teppie asked, looking at me strangely.

“I sure do,” I said. “We go way back.”

Dr X was sitting stiffly in the chair with a pained expression on his face. I bent down to his level. “It’s me, Anne Glamore,” I said. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen you.”

“Yes,” he said gruffly.

I made a couple of attempts at small talk but he was having none of it. When Teppie finished cutting his hair, she removed the blue drape and he was out of the chair in a flash.

I put on a purple cape and sat down in Teppie’s chair, which was still warm from Dr. X’s butt.

“Whoa, he’s a hard nut to crack,” Teppie said. “I tried to get him to talk, but I got nothing. He didn’t seem very happy to see you, did he?”

I told her he probably didn’t consider me his most successful patient, and then she and I got busy discussing my new look.

Later that day, my phone rang. It was Teppie.

“You’re not going to believe this,” she said. “After Dr. X left the salon, he had his wife call the shop. She told the receptionist that her husband got a haircut today, and that his stylist had a client named Anne Glamore who came in after him. She asked the receptionist to make sure that you were never scheduled for his day again, because it made for “an uncomfortable situation.”

“Ha ha,” I said. “Why are you really calling?”

“I’m not kidding,” Teppie said. “He really had his wife call and ask that you two be kept apart. Apparently seeing you made him uncomfortable.”

“You’re joking,” I said. “I was extremely polite to him. He was the one who would barely talk to anyone.”

“I know! The whole salon saw you trying to talk to him and him practically running away. We’ve been hooting over it ever since.”

“Wow, I had no idea I was so intimidating,” I commented.

“Yeah, you’re real scary,” Teppie said sarcastically.

I forgot about it until several weeks later, when I called Athena to make an appointment.

“How about Friday morning?” I asked.

“Well, that’s when Dr. X is coming,” the receptionist said. “Can you do Thursday?”

“Sure,” I agreed, and I hung up.

Then I started thinking. Athena had just scheduled me on Thursday to accommodate Dr. X’s outlandish request! I tried to give Dr. X the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he believed I was equally ill at ease at seeing him, and that this arrangement would spare both our feelings.

If so, he clearly misunderstood the situation. When I
thought his medical care was unsatisfactory, I replaced him with
another physician within the week. Teppie, however, is irreplaceable. If Dr. X was serious about his desire to avoid me, I could think of a number of reasons that he should just find himself another salon.

First, I’ve been going to Athena for a long time, certainly longer than Dr. X. It was the first grown up salon my mom ever took me to. If someone’s going to stake a claim to Athena, my right would
clearly be superior to his, simply because I have established a pattern
and practice of going there since the Bicentennial, twenty years before
Dr. X ever moved to town. I even got my Farrah Fawcett haircut there. (I looked so sexy, if you could overlook my braces, glasses and back brace and just focus on my hairsprayed wings and my legs.)

I see my friends there, and my mother’s friends there. I know everyone in the shop. It’s like my second home, without the laundry.

Second, to put it nicely, Dr. X is of an age where he just doesn’t have that much hair. Teppie’s gotten rid of his comb over, and now it’s just a matter of maintenance. Anyone in town could do that. He doesn’t need to see Teppie for a trim. In contrast, my hair is my thing, and Teppie and I embark on great adventures with it together. I can’t just go anywhere for golden brown with chunks of blonde color, or for a cut called the “faux-hawk” that Teppie learned in Atlanta.

I wondered about Dr. X’s inability to handle uncomfortable situations. If my presence freaked him out so much, did I have a duty to call his wife and let her know my daily activities so she could make sure her husband wasn’t going to run into me and become nervous?

I could picture myself calling and saying, “Hello, it’s Anne Glamore. I just thought I’d let you know that I’m going to be eating lunch out at Brio today, which is very unusual for me, so you might want to give your husband a heads up on that in case he was planning on going there today. Then I’m running by Publix and the dry cleaners, and I may get gas and go to the fish store if I have time. I should be done with all that by 4:30, though, so if you need him to pick you up some swordfish, he could go by around 5:00 and I should be out of his way.”

If Dr. X thinks he’s going to drive me out of Athena, he’s going to have to get ready for a fight, because I must stay true to my roots, if not my natural color.

Posted by Anne Glamore @ 10:41 amGlamorous Escapades,Hepatitis C,Spines & Livers & Bones, Oh My!,Tiny Kingdom ExclusiveNo comments  

October 4, 2005

It’s Good News, So Why Am I Crying?

My face is red and puffy. My eyes are swollen. If you saw me, you’d swear I’d just heard some horrible news. Something like: “Target just burned down!” or “No one else volunteered, so we made you room mother!”

But really I got a call I’ve been waiting for since I was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 1997– the call that I never thought would come.

After countless shots and pills and pokes and prods and prayers (especially prayers), I just heard that my latest test showed no traces of the virus.

I’ve now been virus-free for five years, and I’m considered CURED.

I never spent much time contemplating this day, fearing that thinking about it would prevent it from actually occurring. However, in the back of my mind I suppose I figured the news would engender a “WOOSH” of relief and an immediate feeling of peacefulness and serenity.

Instead, I’m just having a hard time grasping the concept that the ordeal is over. It’s like I’ve been carrying around a heavy suitcase full of liver trouble and now it seems so much a part of me that I’m having trouble letting it go. Maybe I can’t really believe I’m permitted to let it go.

I haven’t even made any phone calls yet– delivering wonderful news while alternately sobbing and sniffling seems ungrateful.

And I am very, very grateful.

Posted by Anne Glamore @ 10:30 amDeep Thoughts,Hepatitis C,Spines & Livers & Bones, Oh My!23 comments  

Welcome to the Kingdom

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I'm Anne Glamore, wife, mother, lawyer and blogger. I have three boys, and I'm desperately trying to train them to become Southern gentlemen, but that may be an unrealistic goal. At this point I'd be ecstatic if they'd quit farting at the dinner table. If you're new here, check out the Readers' Favorite Posts below or browse through the Categories. I write about my attempts to teach the boys about peckers and sex (which we call "making googly eyes"), my struggles with hepatitis C and spine surgery, the boys' adventures with fire and pets, my mom's death from ovarian cancer, my love of cooking (with plenty of recipes) and anything else that crosses my mind. Join me on Twitter or StumbleUpon or Email me. I'm happy to speak to your group or club.

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