Recovery

15 Jan

So it’s been almost 2 weeks since I had Moh’s and plastic surgery. Recovery has had its ups and downs, I’ll be honest with you. The first 4 or 5 days I struggled with what I would classify as mild depression. I really didn’t want to go anywhere, definitely didn’t want to see anyone (or rather, didn’t want them to see me).  I had a lot of time to sit and think about my mortality and the fact that my body is basically a ticking time bomb. My hypochondria flared up:

Me: What else is wrong with me? 

Self: Probably something. What is this on your neck, right by the surgery site?

Me: Hmm. Feels like a swollen lymph node.

Self: Or a neck tumor. Better go to the doctor. You’re probably in big trouble.

Me (after going to the doctor): Doctor says it’s a lymph node after all, probably related to the surgery, and should go away.

Self: She’s wrong. Tumor. Plus you’re probably going to get the flu.

So it went on like that for a week or so, me obsessing about everything I could see and most of what I couldn’t. My OCD intensified. I normally keep it in check, and you would probably never notice it unless you came to my house and observed me doing something like mindlessly adjusting the kitchen faucet so that it points to the exact middle of the two sink basins, or organizing my childrens’ play kitchen so that all “hot” play food is in the stove compartment and all “cold” play food is in the refrigerator compartment (Yes, I do these things daily). Very mild OCD can be a quirky personality trait, or at the very least help with organization. Severe OCD is a debilitating life-ruiner. I have no desire to go there, or even come close, which is why I’ve been working very hard to address the signs of worsening OCD before they have a chance to completely take over.

I’m completely thankful for competent and kind doctors, for good medical insurance, and prayers from many. And honestly, the amazing feedback I got from my previous post meant the absolute world to me, I’ll just tell you. My friends and family (and even one or two strangers!) lifted me up with comments, texts, and emails. A bunch of people told me that I wasn’t alone – they’d had similar experiences, and felt the same way I did. I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only one who has struggled emotionally with the after effects, either.

So, why has it been hard?

I have a theory about why the week following my surgeries was so difficult.

I couldn’t laugh.

I could barely smile.

This was me, at my most cheery:

Maybe she's laughing on the inside.

Maybe she’s laughing on the inside.

 

Good grief, I hated not laughing.  Toward the end of the week that I had stitches I came to dread something funny coming to my attention. The act of smiling hurt and I began obsessing that my scar wouldn’t heal correctly if I even tried.

Isn’t that sad?

Have you ever counted the number of times you smile and/or laugh in any given day? I haven’t, but I definitely took it for granted. I realize now what an astounding gift laughter is.

It’s probably no coincidence that I didn’t truly feel like myself until my stitches were removed and I could smile and laugh once more. Isn’t it amazing? Laughter has been my most effective tool in recovery.

I’m sorry this post isn’t funny. It’s anti-funny. I tried to make it at least a little humerous, but it just didn’t really work out. I’m happy to release these negative issues, though. Plus I warned you in the title that this blog wouldn’t be all sunshine. Here’s your occasional cloud cover! I’ll get back to the ray of sunshine part now.

I’ll leave you with a pic of me, 13 days post-surgery. I’m wearing no makeup, and there is no filter on the pic. Way to go, Prominent Facial Surgeon!

can't complain!

can’t complain!

 

xoxo

The one where I had skin cancer

5 Jan

So, on January 2, 2014 I had two facial surgeries. The first surgery was to remove skin cancer cells from the space between my upper lip and my nose, and the second surgery (plastic) was to repair the damage done by the first surgery. Here’s how it happened.

Back in September I went to the dermatologist for what I thought was a suspicious bump on my scalp. Cute story: I have skin that, if left in the sun for longer than 10 minutes, will burst into flames, so I’m on guard about every new bump or discoloration that pops up on my body. So after a few days of hanging upside down over the bathroom mirror trying to see my scalp, I finally booked some time with my dermatologist to see what was going on. She tells me, after looking at my head for less than a second, that the mysterious bump is an infected hair follicle and nothing to worry about. I exhaled for the first time in days. I figure since I’m there, I’ll get my money’s worth and ask her a few other questions.

I had had a very very small black dot above my lip for months. Six, maybe eight. I was convinced it was a blackhead. I normally have pretty clear skin, acne-wise (holla, Noxzeema!), so I was confused at why it wasn’t going away. I asked her if she thought I would need to get special blackhead cleanser to make it go away. She looked at the spot, made a face, and leaned waaaaay in with her little magnifying glass/light thing. She made another face and said “hmm. I would let me biopsy that if I were you.”

As you can imagine, I’ve had a number of skin abnormalities removed, frozen, scraped, what-have-you, over the years. Doesn’t really bother me too much, so we did the biopsy with little fanfare. She remarked at how teeny the sample was and said it was probably nothing to worry about and she definitely didn’t want me losing sleep over it. The biopsy took all of the teeny dot away, so once it healed up in a week or so, there was absolutely nothing there to the naked eye. I kind of forgot about it.

Until I got the call. Basal Cell Carcinoma. I would need Moh’s Surgery. I would probably need to see a plastic surgeon afterwards, depending on how many cancer cells there were. SURPRISE!

Now, my mom has had two Moh’s surgeries herself, so believe  me when I tell you that talking to her was the ONLY thing keeping me hinged at this point. Here’s how Moh’s is done, in case you don’t know: The surgeon numbs the patient with local anesthesia, and removes a small amount of skin from the offending area. The sample is taken immediately to be analyzed to see if there are any remaining cancer cells. Patient waits. If cancer cells are found, surgeon removes more skin, and the process is repeated.

Going into the procedure, I was dauntlessly sure I would only need one pass with the knife. You can’t even SEE anything!  Plus I was in denial that I would have to do plastic surgery. I had previously discussed with my doctor the hope that, if I only needed one removal, I could maybe get away without it. “I can live with a small scar”, I said. Truthfully I was terrified of the plastic surgery because I knew I would have to be put to sleep for the operation. I’ve never had to experience general anesthesia before and the thought of helplessly losing conciousness crippled me with fear.

Well, NOPE to all of that. Guess how many dates with the knife I went on to remove a bunch of angry cells that were invisible? THREE. More than  my mom needed for angry spots she could actually see, more than either of us ever thought I would need, more than would let me escape the plastic surgeon. I had a hole in my face about the size of an M&M.

So I was booked that evening with one of the prominent facial plastic surgeons in Texas. My amazing wonderful best friend Michelle took my kids without hesitation, and my amazing wonderful husband drove me to the hospital in Plano. I trembled the entire way, trying to figure a way out of this.

Hospital bracelet on my wrist, one step closer. Hospital gown, another step closer, hair-net, a particularly unfortunate step closer. IV in arm, it’s over. No matter how much I struggle, they have access to my bloodstream now. I wonder if I’m being crazy. My husband grips my hand and remarks at how cold it is. He cups my IV’d hand to his mouth and blows warm breath on it, which makes me want to cry. I ask him if he’s worried about me. He says “Yes, of course.” This somehow makes me tremble harder. They bring me warm blankets to quell the shivering.

Prominent Facial Surgeon came in to talk to me. Here’s how it went:

Me: I’m freaking out. Do we have to put me to sleep?

PFS: ‘fraid so. You don’t wanna be awake for this, trust me.

Me: What if I don’t wake back up?

PFS: You will. Everyone does. I promise you’ll be fine.

Me: No! Don’t promise!! On Grey’s Anatomy whenever the doctor promises the patient they’ll be fine, they die!

PFS: <laughing> Oh please! Let’s not talk about how fake that show is.

(Anesthesiologist comes in)

A: You ready?

Me: No, I’m scared of being put to sleep

A: Do you get scared at night when you fall asleep?

Me: Well, no, but that’s different. I have control over that.

A: It’s not that different, really.

Me: What’s the name of whatever you’re using to incapacitate me?

A: Propofol

Me: Um, isn’t that what killed Michael Jackson?!

A: <Cringing> Yes, but his doctor was a moron. Trust me, I give this to elderly patients, frail patients, and they all come out fine. You will be fine.

Me: If you say so. Guess I  can’t live with a hole in my face. Let’s do this.

The nurse asks if my husband and I want to say any last minute I love yousor give eachother one more kiss, which makes me want to punch her. I thought you people said I was going to live!!

They wheel me into the operating room, which looks almost exactly like the OR in Grey’s, so I no longer believe the doctor’s claim that it’s “fake”. I lay there making nervous chatter with whoever will listen to me. I wish they would just give me the dang Michael Jackson drug already! Just do it so I’ll finally stop freaking shivering! I look up at the ceiling and it starts to spin a little. I ask my anesthesiologist friend if he’s started:

A: Yep!

Me: Oh shoot! Okay, what should I do?

A: Just relax

Me: Okay, I think I’ll just close my eyes and pretend I’m falling asleep at night

A: Okay, good.

Me: Or wait – should I count back from 99?

A: You watch too much television

*****************************************************

The next thing I remember is someone calling my name. And asking me something about Christmas. They were asking me about my kids, about what I did for Christmas. I think someone said they have a 4 month old. I can’t remember what I said, but I remember feeling very well rested. I asked a nurse how long the operation had taken. Less than 30 minutes. I felt rested like I had been asleep for hours. Go propofol, I can see why Michael liked you so much.

I vaguely remember being very chatty with everyone on the way back to the recovery room. Probably just really happy to be alive. I was a little foggy, but for the most part no worse for the wear. Except I now looked like the illegitimate love child of Angelina Jolie and Frankenstein’s Monster.

Do you wanna see pics? Really? If you don’t, just stop reading. This is pretty much the end of the story. It won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t wanna see. I might not want to see them either if I were you.

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Just in case you accidentally scrolled this far, but don’t really want to see the pics, I’ll post this picture of a baby chick. You can still turn back.

chick

Cheep Cheep! Turn back!!

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Okay, here it is.

YIKES

YIKES

Scary, huh? Here’s what it looked like later that night.

Later that night

Later that night

And the next day:

a little less Angie

a little less Angie

Anyway. There it is. I never posted anything on Facebook about it because I never thought it would be such a big deal. I get my stitches out on Thursday and the goal is that in time, it will just look like a wrinkle.

Here’s the takeaway. PLEASE use sunscreen. Everywhere. Go to the dermatologist yearly, or if something pops up. Even if you think it’s nothing. And don’t use propofol unless you’re under the care of a responsible doctor.

xoxo

The One Where I Became a Barenaked Ladies Fan

11 Jul

If you’re a Ben Folds (Five) fan, you can rest assured that you have outstanding musical taste. If you’ve had the good sense to attend one or more of their shows, you and I will have to talk some time, because we both have experienced something magical.

Now, for some bizarre reason that I don’t understand, Ben doesn’t always headline the show he’s playing. So as you might imagine, over the 10 or so years we’ve been going to these shows, we’ve inadvertently seen a handful of other musical acts. Some have been pretty good (The Fray), others were not so good (I’m looking at you, Tori Amos).

Last month we went to the very first stop on Ben’s Last Summer on Earth Tour in Grand Prairie. I bought these tickets forever ago on the first day, in the first minute of the presale window, and the seats were phenominal. The non-Ben bands at this show were the Barenaked Ladies (the One Week guys?), and Guster (who?). I had absolutely no idea who was supposed to be the main headline. I know who I would choose as the main headline, but experience told me not to get my hopes up.

So Guster ended up being first. They had a decent little following in the crowd. Their music was good, I didn’t recognize any songs, but I enjoyed most of them. Honestly though, the guy kind of lost me after the first song when he said a little bit sarcastically, “Wow, I didn’t know Grand Prairie could rock so hard”. At first I thought “Does this guy not know where he is? Does he think he’s in some podunk little Texas town? Maybe he doesn’t realize that we’re basically in Dallas?”.  It felt completely inauthentic and weird. Anyway, I was wrong. Like the layers of a sweet, sweet onion which has started to mold, things started to reveal themselves over the course of the show. We found out that he is in fact FROM Texas, lived in Dallas for a time as a child, and absolutely hated every second of it. Clearly for him, the audience represented everyone from middle school who bullied him and told him he was wasting his time pursuing music. I felt like he should’ve covered Toby Keith’s How Do You Like Me Now?”. My husband thought he was just bitter about his band playing first, essentially being the opener. Maybe so, but either way the man did not enjoy his Lone Star stay. I say, it’s okay, Guster dude. If you’re playing the Verizon Theater in any capacity, you’ve probably gotten the last laugh regarding your childhood bullies. Chillax a little bit.

Next was Ben Folds Five, and it was, of course, perfection. We’ve never been so close to Ben before. Last time we saw him at Bass Hall and we were pretty close, but on the far end of his piano. We enjoyed a great view of the top of his head. This time…

Image

Hello, old friend!

Ok, we had a great view of his back mostly. Highlights include watching his hands on the piano keys and trying to figure out what kind of phone he uses based on the indentation of it in his back pocket. Anyway, that was pretty cool. I don’t think I’ve been that close to a famous person since the Mr. Belding Incident.

The award for biggest surprise of the night goes to (drumroll) The Barenaked Ladies!! Turns out they were the ultimate headliner. They closed the show and had by far the most massive reaction from the crowd. You know how it is when you’re at a concert and the openers finally finish and leave the stage, and then the lighting changes, and maybe the background marquee thing morphs a little, and people start cheering a little…and the atmosphere changes to like okay, let’s get down to some REAL business! That’s what it was like right before BNL came on. The whole place came alive. Barenaked Ladies. Who knew??

Here’s me when they first came out: A little annoyed that Ben is done and there is clearly not going to be an encore. Arms crossed, thinking maybe I’ll stay long enough to hear that One Week song and then suggest we jet outta there to beat the traffic.

Well okay. It took the BNL guy about 4 minutes to completely win me over. He’s got amazing stage presence, and is FUNNY. Plus it turns out they sing way more songs I like, and I had forgotten all of them. Did you know they sing the theme song to the Big Bang Theory? I don’t watch that show but I know a ton of people do. That’s pretty big. Watching them play, I started thinking about how they’re probably pretty rich by now. Like, really rich. I wonder if he laughs a little in his head when he sings If I Had a Million Dollars, since he most likey does have a million dollars. I wonder if he’s gone through all the things in the song and bought them. That’s what I’d do. At least I think I would. I actually don’t know the lyrics really well…I know he says something about an emu. People who are very rich completely facinate me.

Update (1/16/16): I have since watched all aired episodes of The Big Bang Theory, and I am now the world’s biggest fan.

Let's be friends.

Let’s be friends, guy from BNL.

Taking the HI out of hiatus!

8 Jul

So…hey. It’s been awhile.

I feel like things could get a little awkward here, so I’m gonna just push through it.

Guess who joined me on my drive home from the store the other day?

Grasshopper in car

“GO BLOG ABOUT THIS”

If you’re a follower of my pointless ramblings, you know that the crickets hate me and often send grasshoppers out to scare and intimidate me. So I wasn’t all that surprised to see this guy staring me down from my dashboard. Thanks for reminding me to blog, nasty thing. “Preshiate ya.

So yeah, we moved. That’s why the no blogs in like three months. It all happened so fast…….I’m still not exactly sure how. I did a lot of smiling, nodding, and signing. Oh, and packing. I would estimate about 76 miles of corrugated cardboard passed through my hands during the months of May and June. We are now 15 minutes away from our old house in a general northwesterly direction. Why did we move? It sounds so lame to say we needed more room. Our old house was about 1800 square feet. Why was this not enough room for our family of 4 (plus cat & dog)? I have no idea. Growing up in South Florida my 4 person family lived happily in 1000 square feet. And we had turtles and cats and dogs and hamsters and whatever else too. I don’t remember ever feeling cramped. Go figure. My excuse is this is Texas. The rate of square feet exchange is like 50%. Or some other math figure that makes sense.

So what else?

Since I like to show you random food I’ve made, I’m going to do it again now.

20130525_085323

Sorry about Ariel’s “seashells” there. Crass.

This was for special breakfast and it was egg, hashbrowns, cheese, and ketchup. Food pyramid complete.

Mac n Cheese burger

Mac ‘n Cheese Burger

I posted this one on Facebook during my blog hiatus, and told myself I would go back and do a whole post on it because it was THAT good. Well that clearly didn’t happen, but these were mindblowing anyway. MO: Stuff cooked Mac & Cheese into hamburger patties and cook. I think I slathered barbecue sauce on these. Sounds like something I would do.

Alrighty, that’s all for now. I’m rusty and all this took me like an hour. Better next time. xoxo

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

29 Mar

So it’s spring now, although as usual, nobody told Texas. Or they did and Texas chased them off his porch with a shotgun. Forget the groundhog. Texas decides if we’re having another six weeks of winter or not. It’s pretty nice today actually, but it’s been super cold lately, in my opinion.

Anyway, in recognition of spring’s arrival, at least on the calendar, I decided to cut my hair very short. I’m normally very bad about getting my hair cut, or even trimmed. I get a trim maybe twice a year, but more like every 8 or 9 months. Last time I did a major cut was over 5 years ago, and I was pregnant with my son. Not adorable, all belly, beginning of the third trimester pregnant. I was fat, sick, middle of the first trimester pregnant. Experienced moms will tell you that it’s a bad idea to make any huge changes to yourself in the emotionally charged first months of pregnancy. It’s hard enough to deal with basically losing control of your body, but couple that with a drastic change to your appearance and it can be a lot to handle. And it was. To me, my long hair always symbolized cool things like youth and freedom. Losing that, while trying to grasp the reality of impending parenthood, was kind of a bummer. I remember catching a glimpse of myself in a mirror one time not long after that first cut. Was that really me? Boring shoulder length hair (red at the bottom with brown roots, since I gave up hair dye), fat, squishy middle, ill-fitting maternity capri pants that came down way too low on my legs since I’m short, and socks with sensible sneakers. I almost cried. I probably did actually cry. I felt like I would never be me again. I was just gonna be this lame mom version of myself who wears elastic jeans and serves Sunny D to adolescents. It would’ve been nice to look in the mirror and still see my same old long hair. Then at least a piece of the old me would’ve been there somewhere, you know? Anyway, I was able to donate my hair at that time, which made the whole experience a little better. At least there was a purpose. Even though I was carrying and helping to create life, which is a pretty great purpose in itself, but whatever.

So except for maybe 8 or 10 trims, I haven’t done much in the hair cutting arena since the trauma of that cut. I knew better to stay away from the salon when I was pregnant with my daughter, and for the year and a half after her birth while my body was still not quite recognizable. Does anyone else cling to their hair length like I do? Am I coming off slightly crazier than the Cocoa Puffs bird? Either way, I woke up one morning recently and was just ready to have it gone. I was tired of the tangles, the pulls, the clogged shower drain (although let’s be honest, that was more my husband’s problem), rolling it up in the car window (which happened more often than you’d think). Remember what happened to that gal in Big Love when her braid got caught in the car door? That terrified me.

Yes, I did it.

aint she a beaut!

ain’t she a beaut!

How come as soon as you cut off a ponytail of hair, it becomes slightly creepy? I didn’t mail this off to Locks of Love until a few days after the cut, and in the meantime I stored it in a bag in my husband’s nightstand. It was a running joke that he was a creeper who keeps human hair in a drawer next to his bed. You never know who people are until you look in their nightstand, am I right?

So, there you go. I finally cut my hair. It was fun, I was ready, and over a week later, I still love it.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend with your loved ones! He is RISEN!!

A Letter to Wilson

14 Mar

You must’ve been waiting on the other side, ready to come to us as soon as we were ready. It seems all we had to do was say out loud that we wanted you, and there you were. You’re still that way now, my Sunshine, always at our sides, eager to know exactly what’s going on and what’s being said. You couldn’t even stand to be in my belly for too long, missing out on all the fun! You made your grand entrance 5 full weeks earlier than we expected. “Suprise! Ready or not, I’m here to shake it up, all 5.2 pounds of me.”

Image

“Hmm. I wonder where I can get a cape in this hospital”

From the moment I saw you, my baby, I knew you were going to be the kind of boy who is sweet, gentle, caring, and sensitive. I just knew it. I pictured you in the future, tall and skinny like your Daddy, glasses on your face like Mama, and maybe carrying a musical instrument in a case (brass, of course!). I knew you would shed more than your fair share of tears, knew your heart would be big. Knew you would feel things on a grand scale. Well guess what, little one? As my own mama has shown me countless times over the years, we are usually right when it comes to the affairs of our babies.

I knew your name was going to be Wilson before I even met your Daddy, did you know that? I used to dream about a perfect little boy named Wilson. Of course, I had no idea what his last name would be, but I knew he would be my little Wilson. Your name is very special because it was part of my name for years and years. Giving it to you was a wonderful gift that made me so happy. With it, you are a perfect blend of your Daddy and me.

I want you to know that you are a marvelous creature. You are so funny! We started to see your sense of humor when you were just 2 years old. You tried to make us laugh and got so excited when we did! We couldn’t believe what an amazing little person you were. You still try to make us laugh every single day. You always succeed, except maybe when it’s past bedtime and you’re trying to stall for more time by being silly. ;0)

Don’t get a big head when I tell you this, my boy, but you were the best baby ever. You hardly ever cried, and slept all night long in your own bed when you were just 2 months old! You never tried to crawl out of your crib, or unroll the toilet paper all over the place, and you never colored anywhere except in a coloring book. :0) Mostly, and almost always, you did (and still do) anything and everything Daddy and Mama ask you to do. You are a good boy, my love. A good person. I hope nobody ever tries to make you believe differently.

We always knew you were so gentle and loving, Wilson, but I don’t think we really knew how much until your baby sister was born. Daddy and I heard from lots of people that you might have a hard time with a new baby around. Well of course, there was no hard time with you. Starting with the first time you met your sister, you have been her protector. You love her so much, and it shows with every grasp of her hand, every kiss on the cheek, every goodnight hug (which you’ve given her every night of her life so far). You pretty much completely freak out if she gets anywhere near the road in front of our house. You run in front of her to block her from going any farther and yell for me to pick her up. It’s kind of funny for Mama, but I know that for you it is very serious business.

You and I sing “You Are My Sunshine” every night before bed. Every night I get as close as possible and look at your face as we sing and I try to etch it onto my brain. You don’t know I’m doing this, but I promise you, I am drinking in all I can get of you during those 20 seconds. I don’t know how much longer you will want me to sing Sunshine with you. I hope forever, but I know that’s not realistic. That’s why I etch and drink while I can.

Wil, you’re turning 5 years old tomorrow. That’s why I’m writing this for you. I want to remember the wonderful, quirky, Superman-undies-wearing, cape loving, lightsaber weilding little boy that you are right this moment. In a few short months you’ll be in Kindergarten, and that scares Mama a little, as I’m sure it scares you a little, even though you say you’re totally excited! I don’t know what will change when school starts, but I do know that I can’t wait to see you continue to grow. In fact, I feel like I have the best seat in the house. I get to watch you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Image

 

The Crayon Situation – Part 2

12 Mar

So, an update on the crayon situation. Several friends have tipped me off to the Magic Eraser, which probably would have been a great fix, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the suggestion. However, the Magic Eraser does me no good at all when I keep forgetting to buy it at the store. Fun fact: the memory section of my brain only functions in two scenarios – as I am just drifting off to sleep, and upon being reminded by an alarm or some sort of written list. Since the M.E. never made it onto my grocery (or any other) list, I only thought about it in bed. Why I didn’t just grab my phone and put it on my list, we’ll never know. It’s not like my phone’s not laying 2 feet from my head all night long, just hanging out on my nightstand, pumping dangerous rays into my brain.

Anyway, I never got the eraser thing, and eventually pretty much forgot all about the crayon on the wall – until about 10 minutes before we were supposed to have company over. And you know what they say…

holla!

holla!

So I did what should have been done in the first place and let the internet solve my problem. In classic Google fashion I didn’t even have to finish typing the question before they brought me to the solution:

How to Get Crayon off Wall

  • Point a hair dryer at the wall
  • Turn on the hair dryer and space out for a few seconds
  • Wipe crayon with rag
  • Marvel at how well that worked
  • Feel like mother of the year who really has her life together

The heat from the hair dryer totally melts the crayon and you can just wipe it off. Oh the simplicity! I did add a little Dawn to the rag, not sure how much of a difference that made. Also, I have no idea if this would ruin your wall if you had a special kind of paint or something. We just have some run o’ the mill satin eggshell business from Home Depot and it worked fine. Probably don’t go blow drying your Persian silk wallpaper or anything like that. If you do have crayon all over your really expensive walls, and you can’t blow dry them, I’m sorry that I don’t have better advice for you.

Also, this just in: My sewing machine is NOT broken; the problem was a rather sad user error. In an upcoming blog I’ll show you some of the stuff I’m trying not to ruin working on. Try to contain your excitement!

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