Emotionally draining. Happy ending.

I don’t even know where to begin, but to say that last week was one of the most draining that I’ve experienced. I felt like I was a rubber ball thrown from one wall of emotion (terrified) to another (scrambling, nervous) to another (relieved, elated) to yet another (insanely enraged beyond all imagination).


Really. I’m not exaggerating.

Oh, where do I begin?

Andrew This is the little 4 year old boy who’s been complaining of headaches and “Mommy, my bed is twirling” for the past few months.

So, we took him to the doc:
“I can’t think of any reason why he’s got these symptoms. Let’s watch it for a few weeks and see if it keeps happening.”

And we went home and just kept careful watch of what might trigger these episodes.

A few weeks later, I brought him back to the doc, prompted by Andrew’s teacher who mentioned to me that he was complaining about his head.

Doc: “I think we should get a brain MRI because blahblah blah TUMOR blah
blah TUMOR blah BRAIN blah blahbla
blahblah TUMOR.”

There probably were a few more blahs in that conversation, interjected by several OH SHITs. But who’s keeping record?

Armed with lots of lab orders, phone numbers and a bunch of big, fancy medical terms that I quickly scribbled down, I just went on autopilot, arranging for specialists, labwork, insurance approvals and the MRI.

Because our insurance plan is more stringent than a hamster’s ass (being self-employed or a small business really sucks for affordable options), I spent hours on the phone getting the runaround. It was no fault of the insurance company – they have their rules and I signed paperwork agreeing to follow them. And of all the parties involved, my nurse case manager was most helpful.

But Andrew’s doctor’s office held the ONLY key to getting all the other tests and appointments approved. AND THEY KEPT PASSING THAT DAMN KEY AROUND THEIR OFFICE. At noon, Rick had possession of the key, but oops! He’s out to lunch. Call back. Then he passed it to nurse Kathy who then did a quarter-turn underhanded toss to office manager just seconds before her 2-minute time out. Leave a message. Then office manager Stacy dribbled it to center field, fake right, fake left and shot it towards the basket, only to be intercepted by what’s-her-name the receptionist. Call back.

Oh, if you can’t tell. I don’t know jack shit about basketball. Whatever.

Finally, I got the brain MRI scheduled at the hospital for Tuesday morning. But wait, the a bumbling nurse calls Monday afternoon saying they had a scheduling goof and the next opening was in 4 weeks. Would we mind waiting?

hmmmm…it’s just a possible FUCKING TUMOR in my kid’s head. What do you think???

So after my little hissy fit, they gave in an told me to come tomorrow morning 7am sharp. We get there at 7am. We checked in and waited. And waited. And waited. An hour and half later, still waiting. Keep in mind that Andrew wasn’t allowed to have a drop of fluid or anything to eat since midnight. My poor baby is thirsty, “a little sip of water please, Mommy?”


I go ask. “Oh, I’m sorry. We’re missing some paperwork from his file. We have to wait until your doctor’s office opens at 8:30 to get the paper faxed over”


and then they forgot about us.

sigh (wishing either I had some Valium or a bag of petrified brussel sprouts to pelt the staff with)

Finally. Andrew’s name was called. Oh my little precious baby was scared. Scared of blood, scared of needles, scared of the mask that they would have to put over his mouth to make him go night-night for a while so that they could get the MRI of his brain. He was so terrified he started shaking, screaming, crying, hyperventilating. He didn’t want the doctors, the nurses, the instruments. He just wanted to go home and hide in bed. So the doctor on duty gave him a “cousin of Valium” to make him sleepy, woozy and more cooperative…just so they could at least get him to lay still enough to hook up all the monitoring equipment and the dreadful mask to sedate him.

I’m surprised that they didn’t offer me a whiff of the stuff either, though I was tempted to wrestle that mask away from the nurse and suck in a few deep, long breaths before security would come arrest me. But I was chicken shit and didn’t.

I stayed with Andrew up until he was sedated and then was escorted out. I have no idea how long I was in the waiting room, but kept checking in with the front desk just in case they forgot about us AGAIN. That waiting room is hell. Not only was the TV stuck on some political bullshit channel but I was going through all possible worst case scenarios in my mind.

After a loooong time, a nurse came to me and said simply, “Andrew is awake. Come with me.” She led me towards a room where a nurse was holding a small, shrieking, thrashing child. The cry was unfamiliar and that was not my child. I know my child’s cry and that is not Andrew.

But it was Andrew. I had never heard this cry before because I am a mother who does everything possible to shield and protect my children from harm, hurt and suffering. And this was the first time Andrew experienced this much fear. It took about a half hour to calm his thrashing body about half the hospital’s supply of Spiderman stickers to bribe him to stop crying.

We wobbled outta that hospital, his legs still unsure of supporting his body as the effects of the sedation medication was still wearing off.

And then began the wait for the results.

I prayed to Buddha that they didn’t forget about us again.

The phone rings that afternoon and it was the original doctor, Andrew’s primary pediatrician, you know, the blah blah blah TUMOR doctor.

“MRI came back fine. Andrew’s brain is normal. Maybe he just needs glasses. We should get him an eye exam”

[this portion of the blog had to be edited out due to extreme foul language]

Excuse me, but a FUCKING EYE EXAM? Let’s see if this makes any sense.


What do you think should have happened first, a $200 eye exam? or a $5,000 brain MRI that absolutely terrified and haunted Andrew so badly he’s got nightmares every single night since?

hmmm….can someone hand me that tennis racket? Because I think I might just have a bunch of petrified brussel sprouts stuffed in my left pocket.

We’re in Los Angeles right now, so the eye exam will have to wait until we return. But I do think Andrew would look pretty damn smart in glasses. Ok, these are really plastic play goggles from this toy.


Anyways, we’re doing great – the boys are having so much fun at PoPo (my mom) and GongGong’s (my dad) house – especially jumping on OPF (other people’s furniture) as they discovered you get a higher bounce and a faster lift on nice, new, expensive leather couches.

We’ll be here for another week visiting, me working, kids exploring….while Scott stays home to work, keep my garden alive (TOMATOES! TOMATOES! TOMATOES!) and try to win a nice, cushy seat in this year’s World Series of Poker, because yeah, we could certainly use an extra $35 million. 🙂 The kids and I miss him terribly! But thanks to email, text, phone calls, instant messaging, we bug him every 15 minutes.

EDIT: While it might seem I might be upset at the medical system or insurance system, I’m not. Yes, they are broken, but I can’t name one country that has a perfect system. I was just upset at the entire situation and specific moronic people that get paid to “toss the key” around. I do understand that doctors practice under such great risk for malpractice suits – so yeah, if I were a doctor, I’d probably cover my ass too. I am very grateful that the tests were negative and relieved that at least no matter what, we can rule out the big “T” word. But damn. I need a new pediatrician!


Los Angeles Cooking Classes

So I’m in LA teaching 2 classes – one on Thursday and the other on Saturday. Both are hands-on classes at Epicurean School of Culinary Arts, a super-cool studio teaching kitchen blocks from the Beverly Center. Wanna come? There are a few spot left in each class. And bring your camera! We’ll talk a bit about food photography and maybe do an impromptu photo shoot of the dishes we cook.

This girl will be helping me on Thursday’s class (excited to meet her and her boyfriend in person!)

and if you’re free on Saturday night and want to assist in the class, I’d love to have you. Shoot me an email at jaden@steamykitchen.com.

LOS ANGELES, CA Thursday, April 17th 6:30pm: Asian Party Food.

Please contact the Epicurean Culinary Academy to register.

Vietnamese Fresh Summer Rolls with Cashew Nut Dipping Sauce
Minced Chicken in Cool Lettuce Cups with Crispy Noodles
Korean Bulgogi Spiced Burger Bar
Fresh Lemongrass Ginger Ale

LOS ANGELES, CA Saturday, April 19th 6:30pm: Southeast Asian II (different menu from last SEAsian class in LA)

Please contact the Epicurean Culinary Academy to register.

Lemongrass Chicken & Coconut Soup
Malaysian Chili Shrimp
Vietnamese Fragrant Crispy Chicken Wings

Vegetable Pad Thai