The Lusty Month of May…or is it?

It’s May, the rhododendron are blooming, along with every other flower that thinks it’s time to appear–iris, azalea, tulip trees, cherry trees, and so on. We somehow have bypassed spring and gone pretty much straight into fall-summer. It’s been rainy rainy rainy…and hovers around 50-55-ish when it does. But we’ve also had sunny days at 75. Oh well, it could be worse, it could be snowing.

We are still gaming two nights a week, He and I. Except that his Star Wars game got blown up by one of the players who was much more interested in breaking the game than in role-playing. The stress and unhappiness all around was sufficient that Beloved just said, “I’m done.”. Now we play another man’s game…ha-ha! Our friend is now running a D&D version 5 game. I am a male dwarf named “Thorin (nickname “Thor”) Warhammer; Beloved is a human female named Mara. We have a kobold (think lizard person) rogue and an elf (? I think) fighter. We are currently guarding a wagon caravan across country and recently killed a young black dragon. Incidentally, my weapon, a warhammer, is named “Meow-meow”. <snicker>

Our Friday night game continues, with some new people. We had a Paladin for a couple of sessions, but the player has moved back to the Bay area; if he returns to Eureka, so will the paladin to our table. We’ve also had an (old/former) player move back to town and pick up where he had left off. We’re all 16th level now, which is getting towards god-like. My arcane wizard has a handful of amazing spells and can do all sorts of fun stuff that she’s picked up as we leveled. Of course, everyone else has also added abilities, so we are, as the saying goes, fairly bad ass.

In real life, it’s been almost as exciting. I went to the ER on Saturday the 5th of this month after having every “serious, call your doctor” reaction to the new shingles shot that I had gotten on Friday. TL:DR is that I am filing a grievance complaint against the doctor who (was supposed to) took care of me. Rude, dismissive, arrogant…and those are their good qualities. I ended up spending the weekend in bed–thank the gods for hospital beds; it’s like sitting in a gloriously royal recliner. I have my water bottle and spectacles and various technology within arm’s reach. I spent a lot of time playing the “Lost Lands” hidden picture games.

PSA: if you have a Kindle with Internet connection (like my Fire), you are part of the “Amazon Underground” and can get a bunch of games for free–and not just the games but the FULL version of the games without buying it and not having to shell out money for in-game purchases. So instead of getting just enough of the game to get interesting and then having to buy it, you can play the ENTIRE game! Artifex Mundi makes some pretty good Hidden Picture games, and I am working my way through the 5-6 “Lost Lands”, which is by another company that I can’t remember the name right now. You can keyword search by “lost lands”. This is will hold true for other genres of games as well.

Of course the shot reaction also caused a fibro flare, so…most of last week was lost to trying to stay pain-free as much as possible. Which meant that I did not monitor Beloved’s health as closely as I should have. He ended up in the ER on Tuesday night with fever, chills, killing headache, body aches…full onset infection. Three litres of saline, IV pain meds and major IV antibiotic–and 6 hours in the treatment room later, he was sent home with new scripts which were filled Wednesday morning. He’s feeling WAY better now, but will continue to take it easy until next week, having already canceled Friday night’s game. He eats when he’s hungry, sleeps when he’s tired. And while this is not much different from any other normal day, the sleeping portion is a bit greater as his body heals. (You only heal when you’re asleep. Now you know.)

That’s been our excitement recently. Generally, life is pretty smooth. I did get a call last week from my lawyer’s office. I’m getting a new lawyer because KC has been called to that Big Courtroom in the Sky. Yes, my lawyer died. I’m starting to feel a little worried; my first lawyer (divorce) was disbarred. Now my Social Security Disability lawyer has died. I hope it’s not something about me, haha. I’m also STILL working on getting that venous ablation; dropped paperwork has stopped the process and there it sat until I FINALLY ran down where it had dropped. Hopefully, sometime before my surgeon dies (remember, he was told he was going to die this time last year? Still kicking, last I heard.), I will get that done. Can’t have both legs done at once because of the limit for how much anesthetic they can use in one day (even though it’s a topical, not vascular version). So one at a time it shall be.

I’m also going for an MRI on the thoracic portion of my spine. There’s new pain, down deep and an x-ray didn’t show anything to worry about. But we didn’t see the stalactites and stalagmites in my neck until that MRI…

Current medication now includes an increase in the dosage of my Vicodin, since a 5mg tablet lasts about 4-5 hours. Taking 10 mgs at the same time of day means 2-3 hours more of pain relief, so that’s a help. The MMJ is still a miracle, still making a HUGE difference for me. I’m still getting a good night sleep most nights, instead of rarely and I’m still only taking 3 prescribed medications (Vicodin, Omeprazole (Prilosec) and Duloxetine (Cymbalta)).

AND JOY OF JOYS!! I have had my evaluation and I get to go back into the pool next Monday!!! Just getting that bitch Gravity off my back–literally–helps. And if I can do some moving around (walking, arm exercises, etc), maybe I can get the body into a slightly better shape which can only help. I will swim the hour after Beloved has his pool therapy. While we will each have to wait an hour for the other, it means a single trip out of the house, twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays.

And now for something completely different. I have gotten an Instant Pot, and yes, it’s every wonderful thing you’ve ever heard about it. I can make spaghetti from start to finish in about 20 minutes. (And by finish, I mean dish it out of the pot and eat it. I don’t even have to drain the noodles!) I can make pulled pork in less than an hour. I can make steamed sweet potatoes in about 30 minutes. I bought the 3 quart version, which lets me make small amounts. *Someone* thinks we should get the 6 quart (more of the standard family size) since most of the recipes online are for that size–but we’d have more leftovers than we’d know what to do with and my freezer is only so big. (And often full of Ben&Jerry’s ice cream, but remember, we’ve got our priorities!)

Did I tell you that I FINALLY got the ramp for my wheelchair so that I don’t have to bounce in and out of the house over the threshold? I did, and it’s wonderful. It also helps Beloved pull in the cart we use to bring groceries in. Most ingenious engineering: three pieces of hard rubber that lock together to form the ramp. Since we’re not going to bolt them into the concrete, we just keep an eye on the joints and kick them back together if they look like they want to come loose.

I’m doing a lot of reading these days–mostly books that are in the public domain, which means OLD books. Still doing jigsaw puzzles, 630 pieces at a time. I can do one in about a day, if I spend big chunks of the day doing it. That’s not something new for me; I used to do 500 piece puzzles the old fashioned way, by hand on a table…and could do them in about that same amount of time. Frankly, doing it on the computer is MUCH neater and doesn’t take up the table that we would be eating on. Still watching movies and shows on Netflix…Monty Python’s Flying Circus (the series) is on and I can watch 3 or 4 of the episodes before needing to find something else to do.

So we are owned by a cat. No, I don’t “have” a cat, we aren’t allowed pets. But a neighborhood cat has decided that we are a part of her world. This is the cat that I rescued off the fence early last year.

A year older and a little bit wiser, she came to the back door one of the warm days, when we had the glass door open. She mewed at the screen and we let her in. She RAN to Beloved and began rubbing and loving on him, putting her paws up on his knee and giving him love bites. The bitch! That’s MY Puppy! He has never had a cat do that to him, so he was astonished at how much she was loving on him–and ignoring me, the cat lover. Oh, she lets me pet her and she will come over to me–but it’s obvious that she really LOVES him. She’s a talker and a purr-er. She likes to roll on our kitchen carpet and on the new threshold carpet which has a lot of texture (gotten to help clean off the wheelchair tires so I can stop tracking mud in when I come home.). We shut the bedrooms and bathroom doors, to keep her in the main living area. (I’m not going to try to have to get her out from under his bed. Not happening.) I’ll give her a bowl of water, but we are NOT feeding her. She can come to us for love but not sustenance! She also discovered the lamb skin rug I have–I’ve mentioned it before. And now she and I are going to rumble to see who owns it. She rolls and rolls on it, tries nibbling on the fur although I fuss at her about that. Oh the cuteness when she does it! And when she’s ready, she just walks out the door and back to wherever she lives. It’s nice to have the chance to pet and love on da kitty; it’s good for our health.

There’s another cat, this one more feral and male, who also wants to rub on the door because She has…but he will not come into the house. He did let me pet him, but he feels thinner than she does. With the fear and the thinness, I suspect he’s not anyone’s pet, but she’s in too good a shape (and with sufficient weight) to be on her own. She’s also way too friendly. Especially with SOME men. Actually, I would be willing to bet that it’s the man of the house who is her favorite at home. The lady of the house may feed and water her, probably pets her…but she loves the man. That seems to be where she expects the best reception to her presence.

One of those summer-like days, about 2 weeks ago, we had some time between things to do and went out to the beach. I even got out and put my feet in the sand for the first time in a long time. We also watched humpback whales migrating up our shore, just beyond the waves–which means fairly close in to shore. Must have been a pod of them; we’d see the pfffffttt of spray and then watch the dark body slide back down into the water. I think we saw between 6-8 of them. Very exciting for us! (Very “just a day’s work” for the whales. Which only goes to show that one creature’s routine is amazing to other creatures. Even among humans!)

We have managed to catch a break on medical costs. Long long story shorter, Beloved presented paperwork to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the county that indicated while disabled, he is still trying to work. His parents pay him $40/month to provide tech support. Well under the limits, but larger than the qualifying amount of just $1 per month. So instead of the “spin down”, or “share of cost” for MediCal (Medicaid), he now pays a premium for a “zero share of cost” card and the state picks up his Medicare Part B payment. He has no co-pays on his meds, which saves us about $50 per month and if he needs care beyond his own doctor that Medicare won’t cover, MediCal will. It’s a good thing for us and we’re happy to have gotten it. Every little bit helps!

Most of our time is spent at home, being at the computer or ingesting media (movies or books) or playing games. We are trying to eat at home more often simply because it’s expensive to eat out. It has meant getting the Instant Pot and also buying things that are easy to fix for those days when I am not up to standing and cooking the usual gourmet meal. Beloved found some decent frozen hamburger patties in the Costco freezer and we have been having them at least twice a week. He also gets premade raviolis that just take 3 minutes in boiling water to be ready. (We’ve had them with sausage and we’ve had them with lobster. Om nom nom.) Sausages are another staple–and we have organic instant potatoes, also from Costco with those, so “bangers and mash” is on our menu regularly. Easy to make: water, little butter, little milk and the pouch. One pouch ostensibly makes 8 servings. I guess if you’re midgets or hate mashed potatoes. He and I can pretty well finish off just one in a meal–or maybe have some leftovers for lunch the next day. Make at least two if you’re having company. They reheat very easily in the microwave. They are very worth buying–and easy to turn into cheesey bacon mashed potatoes with the addition of cheese and bacon. Or any other mashed potato recipe you have. They have a really good taste them–a lot like the Idaho potato flakes, except that they are organic.
Here’s what they look like:

 

I have rearranged the living room furniture with an eye towards being able to be in bed and still able to speak to guests. That puts my bed on the back wall, next to the patio door, and looking towards the kitchen. His comfy chair is at the foot of my bed, with his desk (on wheels) in front of him. Across the room is my desk, the cabinet I keep my stuff in, my (old desk but now company) chair and the table with the printer on it along that wall. It has opened up the room and we can actually have people over without sitting in each other’s laps. His desk is large enough that if we cleared it off, we could play table games on it–and perhaps someday soon, we shall. I still need to get into the spare bedroom and doing the various things in there I want to–finish sorting out clothes and boxes of shtuff, trying to get rid of things that I don’t wear, use or want. No point in having them if all I’m doing is storing them. That will mean some boxes to my kids, as there are things I have that I either want them to have, or they would want it if they knew I had it. I also have some things for the grands, pending parental approval. Fortunately, none of that is pressing for getting done.

Speaking of the grands, my daughter’s two girls have their birthdays at Memorial day. Hard to think that the Evil Genius is going to be 8 already; Little Sister is just 3 years younger. Time flies. Oh how it flies! Froggy will be 7 in October and his little sister will is 3, with her birthday also in this month. How can this be, when I am still only 29? HAHAHAHA. Seriously, I’ll be 57 and I’m totally okay with that–as it’s better than the alternative. Besides, I always thought I’d die before I turned 21, so any amount of time beyond that is extra, as far as I’m concerned. Death doesn’t scare me. I’ve seen things worse than death, and frankly, with my levels of pain…death has often seemed to be a release. “Suicidal ideation” is just a part of my life. As long as I’ve got my love to keep me warm and tell me silly jokes, I’ll hang around. If only to see how this all turns out. But when it’s time to go, I’ll go without a fuss. No matter what, if anything, is beyond. Living right now, doing the best I can right now, that’s all I can be sure of. That’s all I can be concerned about and with.

We’re still loving Eureka, still glad we moved here, still miss everyone we left back in VA and still wondering when you all are moving out here to be with us!

Off to do other things, back to you all sometime. Maybe months, maybe not. Hang in there and eat dessert first, life is uncertain!

Namaste, peace and love to you all.

A Family Vacation, Complete With Mooses and Other Excitements

Starting before the vacation: I took Beloved to the hospital on Friday, Feb 28 with a fever of 103 degrees, chills, vomiting and pain. Before he was done, he had been given about 14 litres of fluids (IV), pain meds (IV) and super antibiotics (IV). He figures he got stabbed with needles about 40 times in the 5 1/2 days he was there. If he wasn’t needle-phobic before (and he was), he is absolutely needle-phobic now. Doctor’s diagnoses: strep throat and cellulitis. (Medical note: cellulitis is an infection (“-itis”) in the cellulite layer of the skin. It has nothing to do with weight as both fat and skinny people can get it. It hurts like hell.)

We were concerned that he would not be out of the hospital before Thursday, Mar 5, but he managed to come home on Wednesday. So he got a better night’s sleep in his own bed before we began the Grand Tour of Local Restaurants.

Because of our disabilities, and especially with him just out of the hospital, we can’t really “do” all the tourist-y things when people come to visit. We can’t walk up the Avenue of the Redwoods, go into most of the shops in Old Town Eureka, or any other activity that requires standing/walking for extended periods of time. (And for us, extended is pretty much anything over about 15 minutes. Sigh.) But we bygods make sure that our visitors are well fed, and in a wide variety of cuisines.

So Beloved’s parents (hereafter referred to as “MIL”, Mother-in-love, and “FIL”, Father-in-love) landed in Sacramento on Wednesday the 4th, spent the night there and then drove up to Eureka on the 5th. They got in about 5, giving us just enough time to get them settled in the hotel and then taking them out to the beach for the sunset. (A tradition for us, since the first thing we did once we got settled in the hotel upon *our* arrival was to go the beach for the sunset.) And then we took them to the same place that was our first introduction to Eureka, Annie’s Cambodian Restaurant. Amazing and good, not quite Vietnamese, not Thai, not Laotion, but a sort of blend of all three. Annie’s crab puffs are the best we’ve ever had. Of course we also established the sharing all around of every dish, something done pretty much everywhere we ate in the 9 days they were here.

Because MIL and FIL had a car, they could do some sight-seeing on their own and they did so enthusiastically. They drove north to the Avenue of the Redwoods; walked up the hill and back down again, went on the skyway tram to view the trees from above. They were going to drive on up to Oregon (a short jaunt) but the fog came rolling in so fast and so thick that the decision was made to come back to Eureka. What’s the point of going anywhere when you can’t see anything?

They did a lot of poking around in Eureka on their own. When we joined them (mostly at meal times) we rode with them, rather than taking two vehicles everywhere. So MIL, who does the driving, got a good feel for the traffic and how the streets are laid out. That’s a really good thing because they are considering moving out here, to be near to us and to get out of the hell most people refer to as “Northern Virginia”, or NoVA for short.

EurekaSailorWe got to see the old sailor sculpture in the harbor, something I had only seen pictures of before. He is much bigger than I was imagining and I had Beloved take some photos so that I can attempt to paint or draw him. I’m sure that he’s been recreated in pretty much every medium, but I haven’t done it yet so I’m not worried about other people’s paintings or sketches of him. Driving up to the sailor took us through some protected wildlife lands, actually fenced off with signs about not crossing over the fence. We saw a pair of elk, which my MIL laughingly refers to as “mooses”. So now we’ve got a new word for when we drive out looking for wildlife… we are looking for those mooses!

Like I said, we began with Cambodian food. We also fed them Chinese (two different restaurants, one which does “comfort” Chinese, the sort you’d be used to if you ate Chinese food in the 1970’s; the other is familiar but doesn’t fall under the “comfort” heading. They also do sushi, which we made his parents try…and it was not something they really wanted. That removed the two sushi restaurants off of our list.); we fed them Vietnamese, Thai, Mexican, Greek, German, GREAT steaks, “American Diner”, pizza and one place for organic breakfasts and another for incredible bagels. We also showed them our donut shop which is run by Asians so you can get an order of Chinese food and then get a couple of donuts to go with it. They are, by far, the very best donuts I have had in a very long time. Dunkin’ Donuts got NOTHING on “Happy Donuts”.

We did show them some mundane things, like Costco, Walgreens, RiteAid and our Co-Op grocery store. If they move here, they’ll want to know where things of that nature are located. We also did some looking online at some rentals, to help them understand that with the enormous decrease in the cost of living (by coming to the West Coast, specifically Eureka), they can afford a 3 bedroom house for significantly less than they are paying for a 2 bedroom apartment in NoVA. And by significant, I mean anywhere between 4 and 6 hundred dollars per month less. We were not subtle in our hard sell, trying to encourage them to make the decision to move here, even though our friend had suggested subtlety. We don’t do subtle.

We were glad to see them–it had been almost a 1 1/2 years since we were last together, right before we moved. We had a really good time with them (and we ate really well!) but the physical toll was tremendous for both of us. I figure a healing and restoration time of at least 3-4 days, possibly longer. Fortunately, we have a minimum of appointments this week.

We had actually started our physical therapy (pool therapy), but with Beloved having a bazillion holes in his skin, I cancelled our sessions for last week and this week. We are scheduled to return next Monday, and we’ll see if we can make it. I need to call my psychologist and get an appointment with him, since I had to cancel the last one. Beloved sees his PCP, partly as a follow up to his last appointment with her, but also as a follow up from being in the hospital. He also has group therapy and his gaming group on Friday. So it’s going to be a very quiet week.

MIL and FIL took us shopping on Saturday at Costco and Co-Op to refill our larder and refrigerator. So we’ve got food–and we’re still working on leftovers–but how much cooking either of us is up to…is a good question and I don’t have an answer for that right now.

When they arrived, MIL handed me an Adroid tablet that FIL had gotten as a “retirement gift” and they couldn’t make it do very much. I’ve got it up and running, with various apps that I wanted and I’m pleased with it. Except for one thing: I cannot, CANNOT, make the damned thing acknowledge the 64G SD card I put in it, except as a storage unit for music and photos. And I’ve got enough apps that the internal memory is pretty much full; I’d like to move some of that over to the internal (already there, can’t be changed out) 4G SD card, but it doesn’t seem to want to let me do that. There’s got to be a way, otherwise no one would take the tablet because it wouldn’t/won’t hold all the apps wanted. Oh well, it’s an IT conundrum that I will continue to wrestle with.

I was very glad to have it because it was a calming thing for me to be able to use it, thereby tuning out all the people around me. My pain this week was high enough that even my Vicodin didn’t do much more than tone it down; with high pain comes a vague nausea, so I was eating just a little bit of this and that most of the week. I have had tremors most of the week, but especially during times of higher anxiety. When we went to get steak (at a place that is very carefully designed to look like a dive bar–but it sure isn’t because the bathroom is immaculate!), I actually had to put in my earbuds to block all of the noise. I was on the verge of tears without them. They worked so well, I have gotten a box of actual earplugs, in pink because they’re made for the ladies (we have smaller, more dainty ears!) and they came with a holder, so I can keep a pair in my purse and use them as needed.

Regarding the tremors: I talked to my dad about 2 weeks ago and we got to comparing ailments. He has tremors (bad enough that he can no longer make jewelry) and he suggested that what I have are Essential, or Familial, Tremors–something that is inherited 50% of the time if you have a parent who has them. The doctors don’t know what causes them and there’s no real treatment, although there are some medications for people whose tremors have gotten significant enough that they are embarrassed by the shaking, like when you’re out with people at a restaurant. I know that I have problems holding a fork steady without being stressed… add in the anxiety and I can barely get any food in. Takes two hands–one to hold the fork and the other to hold the food on the fork. I use my natural eating utensils whenever possible–you know, my fingers!

I will be asking about my tremors at my next PCP visit, if only to get the proper diagnosis added to my (ever-growing) list of diagnoses. And speaking of doctor’s visits, my long term disability  (LTD) insurance company (Reliance) has found a doctor who will do an independent evaluation of my condition so that the company can make an assessment about whether I am really disabled or not. And if I am really disabled, according to them (because I am, whether they want to say it or not), they will send a check with a year’s worth of backpay, and then continue with a monthly check. And if I get SSDI, the LTD will pay the difference between SSDI and the insurance benefits, which means about $400 per month more. We sure could use it.

I have two weeks to gather any paperwork (like my health records) and fill out the forms the doctor’s office sent me. I think it’s the new patient forms–and there’s all kinds of mentions of being able to go after the patient for money if the insurance company doesn’t pay for it. HAH! They can try. We already have about a quarter of a million dollars in combined *unpaid* healthcare costs. We’re going for bankruptcy… hate to do it, but we need to “wipe the slate clean” so that we can eventually qualify for a mortgage. I have a pre-approved VA loan, as long as what we want to move into meets their requirements. Needless to say, we need our home to be ADA compliant–and I might start looking around to find out what kinds of grants we can get that would help with the costs, especially since we’re talking about getting a new house. We’ll buy land and then have a manufactured home delivered there. The VA’s requirement for railings on every stairway will not matter, since we’re going for a single floor.

I’m not sure what was harder to deal with this past couple of weeks: the pain or the stabbing awareness that I can no longer do a LOT of things I took for granted as recently as 2 or 3 years ago. Watching my MIL (65 years old) and my FIL (almost 80) walking into the stores, carrying OUR stuff upstairs so that we wouldn’t have to…real slap in the face, let me tell you. Makes it very easy to slip into despair, since I’m already chronically depressed. I really appreciate my meds because without them…and I don’t mean the Vicodin. So recuperation, such as it is, consists of keeping my movements to a minimum to help control the pain as well as doing meditation and some self compassion exercises to help control the negative feelings. (Check this out, from Toni Bernhard: How to Talk to Yourself . Toni suffers from chronic illness, but also uses her Buddhist beliefs to find that Middle Road, even for us, who are having to ride an accessibility scooter on that road.

So that’s where I’m at, just trying to keep on making it through life, one day at a time.
Namaste!

 

Getting Along Like a House On Fire

To paraphrase Garrison Keillor, it has NOT been a quiet week in Lake Woebegone.

I still haven’t heard any decision about SSDI and whether I need to start looking for a job or not. I did talk to the paralegal for my attorney, who explained that the moment my case’s change in status is officially entered into the computer, they will know–which is about 7-10 days BEFORE I’d see any hard copy snail mail. And the office checks that computer every morning–and they will call me the minute (more or less) they find out. Which means I can relax (somewhat) and not keep trying to check the mail on something approaching a regular basis.

In the meantime, I try to find other things to do with which to occupy my mind and keep me from running like a hamster in the wheel of indecision and dangling answers. Beloved and I have taken sandwiches and donuts to the beach for a quasi picnic lunch a couple of times, as the weather in September, in Eureka, is amazingly wonderful. Or at least it has been for us.

My in-laws generously arranged for the bed frame to appear. What a difference 14 inches in height can make for getting out of bed! Instead of trying to rise up from a deep knee bend (thighs….of steel), now we can just sit up and put our feet on the floor. The change in sleeping level is inexplicable but definite. And the ability to get in and out of bed without a plan for escape–or what I have always referred to as the “wench winch” is priceless. It is worth the flare-up that putting it together cost me. Sigh.

Fate herself is helping out with distractions…if you want to call it that. Last Sunday, all four of us at home (me, Beloved and the roomies, G & M)…He in our bedroom, G in their room, with me and M in the kitchen–I was making late lunch/early dinner and M was doing dishes. (Better someone else than me…I HATE doing dishes.) Then G says, “There is smoke coming in the window.” Why yes, yes there was…in fact, look–it’s starting to come into the kitchen window, which is on that same wall.

G & M run downstairs to see where the smoke is coming from. Oh my! Oh dear! Conniptions and spasms! Flee! It’s OUR house that’s on fire. (It used to was a house; now it’s 5 apartments. We’re upstairs.) I turn off the GAS stove and grab my phone and iPod. (Oh the things we choose when we have to save our most precious belongings.) Beloved picks up the house phone and is dialing 911 even as he exits the building. The roomies, being young and spry, run around the house, banging on doors and making sure everyone is out of there. Beloved moves the van from in front of the house and we stand on the sidewalk across the street. Definitely smoke…and hot enough inside that the front window has already cracked. Which, for those you who are neither firemen or arsonists (or fascinated with fire), means that the heat is already reaching dangerous levels. I’m trying to think about where we could go, with our van and the clothes on our backs…and our phones…if the house goes up in flames.

A crowd gathers and we are avidly listening for the sirens. Now you must realize that the fire department here is volunteer–and up in Eureka–we live a couple miles outside–so we’re not talking a 5 minute response time. On the other hand, to get everyone to the firehouse, in their fireman’s suits and out to us only took about 10-15 minutes. Acceptable. When they get here, the guys are off the truck almost before it comes to a stop, yanking hoses off and going up to the house to see what they are facing. Within moments, they are inside and knocking the windows out. Axes, ladders and … chain saws? Oh my.

Beloved had called the landlord right after he hung up with 911. “Hi, landlord? Yes, it’s your renter…and your house is on fire.” Needless to say, the landlord arrived before the second fire truck. By the time it was all done, we had three fire trucks, including the brand new hook and ladder, at the house. People were taking pictures and video but no one had the bad manners to bring a Jiffy-Pop popcorn pan and make it…on our house.

So as we’re standing there, one of the other tenants comes up to us and asks what’s going on. We know which apartment he lives in…and have to tell him, “Dude, your stuff is on fire.” He and his son (5 years old) stood there with the same expression on their faces: big eyes and a growing realization that…their stuff is burning. The child was aghast that the firemen were breaking the windows. I told him that it was okay, they were already cracked.

I’ve been coughing since we walked out of the house–and it’s just getting worse, to the point that Beloved steers me over to the fire chief to find out if EMTs are coming to this housewarming party. And they were! They got me hooked up on oxygen and starting taking information. Then the actual ambulance arrived and the paramedics took over. They suggested a ride for me, and off I went, to the ER at the local hospital–which I have now been to 3 times in the past 6 months. They’re going to think I’m a hypochondriac or something. Oh well.

A breathing treatment (albuterol inhaler on the oxygen mask) on the way to the hospital. And the paramedic inserted an IV port–while we’re speeding down the highway. (By the way, no siren for me as I was not dying.) I have to tell you, that was the best stick for medical purposes I’ve ever had. We get to the ER and were whisked straight back to my own room. Great service, let me tell you. No waiting out there with all those sick people.

Another breathing treatment and a nice shot of anti-anxiety medication since I told them that if I had been at home, I’d have been taking my own. Answered lots of questions, which is not easy to do with an oxygen mask on. Only slightly better than talking to your dentist when he’s exploring for your tonsils. Got a chest x-ray. Beloved showed up to tell me that the cause of the fire had already been determined.

Modern technology is a wonderful thing. If this fire had occurred 10-15 years ago, the firemen would not have had the thermal scanners and such that they used to deal with the fire. Not just the water and the chain saws–yes, they used them on the outside wall, to open up the room where the fire started–but thermal detection of just how far the fire had gotten and if the house was safe to go back into. The fire chief told Beloved that our quick calling to 911 had made a real difference. Three minutes more and our apartment would have gone; three minutes more after that and the house would have gone. There’s a small and often fine line between utter disaster and a great story to tell your friends and family.

So in the course of ascertaining that the fire was indeed fully out, that it had been contained within a specific area and there was no further danger, the cause of the fire was discovered…a wood burning tool, left on, under the plastic table. The son had gotten a hold of the tool and was using it–and jumped up to run out with dad and go skateboarding. They had literally only been gone about 20 minutes. Oops. I guess that tool really lived up to its name. I wonder what brand it was…

The smoke that had gotten to me was not plain old wood smoke…it was the chemicals from the plastic table, along with everything else that was burning. No wonder it irritated me and gave me bronchial spasms. Adding insult to injury for the tenant who is now homeless…all of his textbooks were on top of that table, “were” being the operative word. But there was a little ray of sunshine for them–the pet lizard (in another room) survived to tell the tale.

So I spent a couple of hours in the ER, coming home with orders to take it easy, come back if I had any worsening symptoms or it didn’t improve within a few days and a bottle of cough syrup that has phenagren and codeine in it. The thrice-blessed in-laws threw some money into our account so that we could go out for dinner. (I was making sausage and pasta. Smoked sausage suddenly did NOT appeal.) We hit the local diner for comforting comfort food…and then home again to try to recuperate from the sudden deluge of stress (Oh my gods! The house is burning!) and then relief (Oh my gods! We aren’t homeless!).

The press had shown up and done their stuff, so I went looking for us on Google. Come to find out, we were actually the TOP story for the news that evening. “A house… BURST INTO FLAMES” (film at eleven). Well, not really BURST. But it was a slow news day. (Check out the broadcast, here: Top Story! ) And that’s me the EMTs are hovering over–I look like I must be sprawled out on the sidewalk, but I was sitting on the curb, really! And when the paramedics roll the gurney over to the ambulance, that’s me again! I doubt that I’ll be on CNN, but frankly…living in a town small enough, calm enough that our fire was the first thing on the news…priceless! I would not give that up for anything.

Let’s just say that for the first time since August 18 (the adjudication), I was not thinking about the judge and her decision about my life. Being asthmatic meant that what I had considered a small amount of smoke was actually more. For the first time in almost 10 years, I was reminded what living with (untreated) asthma is like. I have not been on any maintenance medications because I was doing well without them. Now I’m hitting the rescue inhaler like it’s my bong and I’m a stoner. I get hoarse if I talk too long, I get tight in the chest (that belt around the whole body, under the arms but above the boobs…and way snug. I like to breathe, I’ve been doing it my whole life–so this is not a happy state of being. I also had some “infiltration” in my left lung, lower lobe.

This is not a “rest and take it easy for a couple of days” kind of thing. This is more a “keep breathing and if there is any problem, or it doesn’t start to go away within like a week, come back to the ER” kind of a thing. It has a very particular way of removing the focus of my brain from SSDI and more onto “just keep breathing, just keep breathing, breathing breathing”. Three days later and I’m still coughing a bit, still having tightness–and still using the inhaler. I used to have to throw away brand new, unused inhalers because they had expired before I needed them.

BUT

I am safe, Beloved and the roomies are safe. Our stuff might have a little smoke smell, but it’s still our stuff and not burnt then water-soaked detritus. We still have a place to live–and coincidences abounding, the roomies are actually in the process of going to their own place and will be out by the beginning of next week. So we’ll continue to live in our one room until their room can be repaired, where the fire came up the wall. There’s that big hole the firemen put into it and soot to clean and singed wood to replace. It only caught the corner of their room, most of the damage is actually in their closet–so cleaning that out and organizing the clothes just got done a little differently than it would have without fire to change the schedule of completion. And the only things that were damaged were things they were getting rid of anyway.

We are local celebrities–of a sort. We’re getting more traffic on our road than I’ve seen in the entire time we’ve been here–gawkers and rubberneckers, come to look at the “house that burst into flames”. It’s actually kind of funny to sit up at my desk and watch them go by. Gotta love that small town environment!

I am grateful that it was not worse and I acknowledge the protection we were given–a fire of greater magnitude would have really been catastrophic in more than just the loss of belongings. So like a roller coaster, that first great tall hill was scary fun, but I’m happy to be back on the ground now. And as Beloved pointed out, we’ve been through earthquakes (one in VA, and a nearly record-setting one here in CA); we’ve had flooding (in the closet of our bedroom); hurricanes (Irene and whatever the other one was, while in VA) and here we are. He figures locust and frogs are all that’s left. (You know, the ten plagues of Egypt. It’s Biblical.)

So that’s what’s going on in my life now. I hope that yours is not this exciting! (Well, not in this way.) Just another day in the human experience, and hopefully (fingers crossed) not one that has to be repeated. Ever. Take a moment to look around your home and imagine it going up in flames–and then be thankful that you have it. Hug each other and remember that we cannot ever be prepared for sudden disaster, so pause and soak in the moments of peace and love, when life is going smoothly. The time to be mindful of your life is not when the flood waters are coming up over the porch steps, or when the fire is raging across the house–but every day, at any moment. Because a moment, that brief flicker of time, is all that might separate life from death.

This was a scary event as it happened. I am relieved beyond words that it has settled into just a dinner party-stopping story. Namaste!

Summer Vacation (In Place), Part 2

I do not know how I could forget to write this into my original post, but there you are.

So on Thursday the 10th, we picked up Beloved’s sister and headed south on Route 101 to get some breakfast at Golden Harvest. So we’re driving along and then… we see a man with some sort of animal that was NOT a dog…so we look closer.

It’s a man walking his turkey. Really. A male turkey, in full courting colors, fluffing his feathers as he struts down the sidewalk. His owner had a thin, long stick that he used to guide the turkey and keep it on the sidewalk.

Did you get that? It’s a man, WALKING HIS TURKEY!

Pretty much sums up life here in Eureka. Expect the unexpected and you’ll still be surprised at what shows up.

Of course, we talked about it for a while. We’re “newbies” here and really, a pet turkey is noteworthy.

We got our tattoos and then decided to celebrate that by going up to Arcata for California style sushi at Tomo. We had about 7 or 8 different kinds of roll, some great sake and good times. Our waiter was awesome, took care of us very well. So we’re settling the tab, it’s quiet in the restaurant, mostly empty of other patrons. We’re talking to the waiter about SIL visiting, the stuff we’ve done to show her the town…and we mention the turkey.

“I danced with that turkey.” he says.

He went on to explain that  he was out, the owner was walking it, the turkey was doing the feather fluffing thing, so our waiter mimicked his motions and they danced.

Did you get that? A DANCING TURKEY!

Well, you can’t get much more incredible than that. We all agreed that “I danced with that turkey” is going to be a catchphrase for us.

Friday we just hung out for a while and Beloved went to his group therapy. He came back to the motel to pick us up for an early dinner and when SIL and I got in the car, this was the conversation:

Beloved: Jack.

SIL & me: ?

Beloved: Jack Lincoln.

SIL & me: ??

Beloved: His name is Jack Lincoln.

SIL & me: ???

Beloved: The turkey. His name is Jack Lincoln. His brother’s name is Leatherface. He has a harem and children.

AYFKM?

A pet. A dancer. A lover and a father. A turkey named Jack Lincoln.

I’ve seen it all now. But in this place? Probably not. But how do you top a turkey named Jack?

Don’t believe me? Check it out here: Jack Lincoln

I danced with that turkey.

 

A Lull in the Holidays

So Christmas has come and gone already.  I’m not really sure where December itself has mostly disappeared to…I know that we spent a lot of time getting paperwork to the requesting company or governmental department.  I also managed to work up an abscessed tooth, so ended up at the free clinic in Fauquier County.  It wasn’t what I was expecting–no overt “poor”-ness, the staff was amazingly kind and helpful (and they are all volunteers).  As they took my health history, they of course asked for medications I’m on–and the first question out of the nurse’s mouth as I began to list them was “Do you need any refills?”  Not yet, but that’s something I’ll be doing soon, as things are beginning to go low–and I need another doctor’s note to appeal the insurance company’s decision to stop paying Long Term Disability (LTD).  Since my health is “self-diagnosed” (no actual blood test or MRI/X-Ray to prove I have it) I have to KEEP proving I have it.  Like it’s just going to go away because they won’t pay beyond the end of the month.  I wish.

So let’s see…what has been going on?

Black Bear Bistro runs a weekly contest–Chef gives a particular kind of meat and then asks for recipes using that ingredient, serving it as one of the specials on Friday night.  The week before Christmas, he said “duck breast”.  I said, “brine in throwback Dr. Pepper and then smoke, serve it with a cranberry salsa and sauce it with a Dr. Pepper/bourbon reduction”.  He said OH YEAH! And I won the contest that week–and the prize?  Getting my recipe made up as dinner for free.  Needless to say, we went to BBB and had it.  Apparently it was very popular that evening.  I know that when they brought mine to me, a man sitting nearby said, “Mmmm what is that?” and then he ordered it.  And it was amazing.  I don’t know what kind of a contract Chef made with the smoke demons, but anything that man makes that comes off the smoker is just beyond words.  Moist, tender, smoky….and I like smoked foods, so I’m a sucker for anything he cooks that way.  (Note: if you like ribs, get the half rack.  It comes and you can just pull the bones out, like playing Jenga–and when you’re done, the HALF rack leaves a pile of meat about the mass of a softball–it’s at least 2 cups of meat. NOM!)

And then we hit the holidays…

We went to Beloved’s parents’ house on Christmas Eve, and Ri and Froggy (and my son, BB!) met us there for the Polish custom of “vigil”.  It’s a tradition where you begin about 6 pm (we started earlier to accommodate Froggy’s 9 pm bedtime) and then eat until midnight when everyone goes to Mass.  MIL made a special (Polish) mushroom soup, and we had pierogies–about 4 different kinds.  So we ate, and ate well.  No one went to Mass, but Beloved and I did spend the night to be there for the Christmas festivities in the morning.

We obviously didn’t have money for presents, but I made 3 kinds of candied nuts and some peppermint bark as a sort of gift.  I made Buttered Rum Almonds, Toffee Pistachios and Ginger Cashew Toffee.  All three were very popular, and MIL ate most of the cashews.  I think FIL like the almonds and the pistachios, so that works out well.  I made enough of the peppermint bark that there was some still at home for Beloved, who has nommed it all down.

Since his parents have been helping us so profoundly the past 4 months, they had warned that it would be a “small” Christmas.  Well, if it was their idea of small, I’d be completely overwhelmed to see what a big one would be.  I had given them a list of gift ideas, links to things on Amazon that I liked…I think they bought almost all of them.  Beloved had also given his list, but included some things that he thought I would like–which they also got.  And we both got gift cards with a generous amount on them.  They gave both of us a Kindle Paperwhite, and it’s wonderful.  I am really enjoying it.  Beloved gave his (old) Kindle to his father and I gave my old one to his sister.  So 4 people got Kindles that day–and his mother was not unhappy because she got her iPod, HAHA! So my haul for the day was 4 shirts, a cotton terry bathrobe (long in length and with a hood, used for actually drying myself off after a shower); a ceramic santoku knife, a couple of specialty chocolate bars (one with chilis and cherries, the other with pieces of ginger), 2 gift cards, a USB Nintendo 64 controller/game pad so that I can play N64 on my computer (and I’m using the heck out of it, playing Ocarina of Time); a framed picture of one his sister’s costume designs that she says “got her into graduate school”.  She gave a different one to each of us, so Beloved and I have to figure out where to hang our two pictures.  And of course, I got the Paperwhite.  WAY more than I expected, WAY more than they should have done–I was totally prepared not to get any gifts at all.  So to get that much was overwhelming.

MIL made a turkey dinner since the sister missed Thanksgiving with us, so we ate that Christmas evening and stayed another night there.  Wednesday, we took said sister and all our booty and headed home.  It was 24 hours of doing nothing, hanging out, reading our new Kindles or in Sis’s case, her new book (the first of the “Hunger Games”–she got the trilogy).  We did go out for Mexican food for dinner, but other than that, we spent our time being complete couch potatoes.   M- & FIL came out to our house to pick her up early Thursday evening.  We made dinner out of the turkey dinner leftovers MIL had sent home with us.  Friday, we ran errands in Warrenton–dropping off the bank statements for Social Services, faxing the lawyer the SSA paperwork I still have to fill out and send back, depositing the last LTD check in the bank and getting the rent check.

Between being out of our own home for 3 days and then having Sis over (while great to see her, and pleasant to be able to offer her the chance to de-stress) and then running errands, we were “done wore out”, as they say. Saturday and Sunday have been sent doing as little as possible, sleeping and playing on the computer.  We both need it–and the weather changed, so I was in bad pain for Friday and Saturday.  With the help of my Beloved, who analyzes everything, we managed to abort a migraine yesterday for me–but he insisted I take a muscle relaxer and they tend to make me…high.  So I made sure I did not do any driving!  LOL

It looks like we will have a quiet, just the two of us kind of New Year’s.  This year has gone by in a blur–and not necessarily because it was going that fast, but because I was so “out of it” for great portions of time.  Don’t remember much of February or March… When you don’t have a schedule, when you’re not having to go to work, it’s very easy for the days to slip by, one after another and then it’s a week gone, then a month and before you know it…seasons change and you have no idea what happened the past 60 days.  It’s part of the reason I am very careful to check the bottom left corner of my computer screen–time, day of the week and the date prominently displayed.  Or I’d completely lose track of “when” it is.

Of course we had visits from Ri and Froggy, since they got here the first week of December.  Froggy is 14 months old, thinking about walking but crawling very well.  He’s a happy, easy going child, like his father was—and seems to remember us (fondly) each time we see him.  Skype has paid off!  Now if I could just get my Lizard to install it so I can see the EG once in a while.  On the other hand, having a mobile baby here meant a certain amount of rearrangement to child-proof and protect the technology from little fingers.  That has had the unexpected benefit of opening up more space and making the main room feel larger.  I suspect that when we are completely done, and things are where we want them, we have the furniture that we want, etc… it’s going to be unique and very different from anything I’ve ever lived in before.

We already have the bed in the living room–and super smart engineer-minded Beloved made the point that we need walk space all the way around it, so why not put it down by the patio door, where we also have to have walk space in the same pattern?  We regain about 65 square feet of usable space that way.  Might not seem like a lot, but when you’re only talking about a 13 by 24 room, you’ll take all the usable space you can get!  That also puts our desks down at the end with the windows, no one is sitting in the pathway to the patio, and we can arrange our desks together better than if they were across the room from each other.  (As they would have been with the bed in its current position.)  Now if we could just get the boxes sorted and taken care of…

Still working on the hellhole of a kitchen.  I am running dishes through a dishwasher that needs replacing since it doesn’t really work the way it’s supposed to.  So it gets clean what it gets clean, the rest I try again and then I’ll hand wash.  It is reducing the amount of things to hand wash to a stack that’s not so completely overwhelming.  I know the knives and wooden things never go in the dishwasher, so I’m okay with doing those…but there are some things that just will NOT come clean in the machine and I’m going to have to do them manually.  Sigh.  I HATE to wash dishes.  Really HATE.  I’d rather do almost anything instead of washing them, so it’s VERY easy to find something else to do and let them go another day.  Did I mention that I’ve got a bit of problem keeping track of time?  Can’t put it off any longer, but doing it in clumps of energy rather than making myself insanely in pain doing it all at once.  And I’m rediscovering counter tops….

Also trying to do more cooking.  We had eggs, sausage and whomp biscuits (canned) for breakfast yesterday; dinner was (premade) Jamaican Jerk chicken breast and sweet potatoes (Beloved also had some white potatoes, mashed up).  It’s quinoa and sausage for breakfast today, and I’ve pulled a marinated in mesquite pork loin out of the freezer to thaw.  Not sure if I’m actually going to roast it, or just make BBQ sauce and braise it (boil it in the sauce, basically) and make pulled pork.  If I do, I’ll get Beloved to make some rice to go with it.  We need to go grocery shopping soon…but not today.  I expect the stores to be busy today with people preparing for tonight…

I guess that’s about it for now.  Have a safe and Happy New Year this evening–do not drink and drive!!  And may your New Year be joyous and blessed!

Namaste!

Could Be Worse, Could Be Snowing…

It’s a rainy Tuesday evening, here in beautiful downtown Bealeton.  It’s been grey and wet all day, more of an aggressive mist than an actual falling of rain drops.

The weather is killing me; have taken all the meds I can take for pain and I’m trying to ignore the fact that they are not doing the job completely.  It’s just a fact of life, not trying to complain.  But it does highlight why I cannot return to work, indeed why I cannot do things I want to do, let along the things I’m supposed to do.  And I woke up feeling pretty good…

Thanksgiving went well.  The FIL was very happy to see the bacon encased Tom Turkey.  All the MIL could say was “Oh my God!”.  She sent most of the leftover meat back home with us, and I’ve had a couple of turkey sammiches.  Gonna boil off the bones (which she also sent with me) to make stock and then going to make soup out of it.  Have the dried beans plumping already.  Was going to make it today, but think that the plans have changed slightly…doing the grocery shopping has given me muscle spasms in my back–and I got home to realize that I did not buy the ground turkey I need for the meatballs to put in the soup.  Damn.  So I’ll change the water on the beans and put them in the fridge for tonight.  Run to the store tomorrow and get the meat, then come home and make the soup.

Trying to fill out various kinds of paperwork to get it back to the people who want it in time for their deadline–which means Beloved’s LTD papers will have to be faxed, but that’s actually okay with me because it means that we will retain a copy of it.  The act of filling them out makes my hands hurt, so it’s write some, rest some, write some more.  Funny how I’ve gotten so used to typing everything that writing, actual HANDwriting, is difficult.

We thought my son would be coming up to Norfolk this next weekend, but it isn’t going to happen that way.  The US Navy has its own way of doing things and it’s generally not what you think it’s going to be.  Keep changing it up and you keep everyone on their toes.  I guess.  So he will let us know what’s going on once he knows.  The Rainbat and Froggy are still scheduled to come along on the 8th–I bought him some snack food today and I found a cute stuffed frog  with a hook on its back (like a key chain, but it will attach to something on his chairs so that he can see it) at the drugstore the other day.  (And found a cute puppy for the EG, same thing about the hook.)

It’s a bit scary how freaking fast the Christmas ornaments and lights went up this past weekend.  I had not realized how many people have the tradition of decorating for the Yuletide the minute the Thanksgiving turkey has gone into the fridge as leftovers.  I guess it gives the women something to do while the men are watching football-and then on Friday, since hubby doesn’t have to go to work, you put him outside, hanging up strings of lights.  I’m already sick of the Christmas Carols.

Part of that is because I sang in choirs for literally YEARS.  My first solo was when I was 9 years old and I sang “Adeste Fideles” (O Come All Ye Faithful).  I know the words to pretty much ALL of the songs for this time of year.  There’s only just so many of them, you know.  No one’s written a new holiday song, everyone just does a new cover of an old song–and most oftentimes, it’s not a good cover.  Beloved knows better than to sing them around me…unless he’s purposefully teasing.  In which case, he gets what he deserves.

It will be a small Christmas…the in-laws have spent all their gift money keeping us off the street and frankly I wasn’t expecting ANY Christmas, so a limited one is perfectly acceptable and more than adequate.  I have no idea what we will be giving them.  I keep trying to think of something I could make, but then I get sidetracked…squirrel! and can’t come up with anything.  Sigh.  At least Beloved’s sister will be home from Chicago, where she’s doing her postgraduate work for costume design.  She needs the advanced degree if she wants to go anywhere in the field.  It’s a good thing, but it means that we don’t see her as often–she had been living in Philadelphia.  Can’t just jump on a train and be home when you’re up in the Windy City.

And as my title suggests, it’s also the time of year for snow.  Lovely to look at, but oh so bad for my bones.  And all suggestions are that it’s going to be a hard, hard winter.  The woolie bears are two inches thick and you can’t see their shell for the thickness of the fuzz…and all the acorns fell off the trees at once.  Thunk, onto the ground.  And the leaves on the trees…didn’t really change color before they also fell off.  The Farmer’s Almanac says it’s gonna be hard and we are due one, so… The worst storms come in February.  I shall hunker down and wrap myself in my blankets and ask Beloved to bring me hot chocolate.  But it’s not like we’ll be going to doctor’s appointments…since we lose insurance in 2 days.  Double sigh.

So that’s about it for us…not much going on, not much new.  But I do like to check in with you frequently, so I’ve done that.  And I’ll check in again, within the next couple of weeks.  So get your Christmas shopping done early and I’ll talk to you later!

Namaste!

Thank Goodness for Everything

It’s that time of year again.  The air is crisp, the trees are showing off their autumn colors, football is in full swing and Turkey Day is upon us.  It’s the one time of year that so many people remember to be thankful…oblivious to the need to be thankful all year round.  Oh well.

What am I thankful for?  Every day that I wake up breathing.  My granddaughter, sitting on my lap and talking to me about Elmo.  My deeply and dearly Beloved, bringing me white chocolate peppermint kettle corn (at Wegman’s, OMG good) and a cinnamon pretzel because he knows I like them.  A roof over my head and food in mah belly.  A computer that lets me connect with my family and friends, and make new friends.  And play endless hours of mindless games when I cannot do anything else.  The ocean.  The sunset.  (I don’t see sunrises, I’ve heard that they can be just as magnificent.)  Water when I’m thirsty.  Wine when I’m with friends.  Black Bear Bistro.  My purple PT Cruiser.  The quiet stillness of a forest clearing, carpeted in pine needles and glowing green.  Fireworks.  Hot tea.  My children and the fact that they are my friends as well.  My children’s significant others.  The beauty of the first snowfall and the fact that I can see it from inside of a warm house.  Rocks.  Technology.  That Mr. Obama is our President and has four more years of bringing us together as a nation.  That women voted and made their voices heard.  Froggy.  The generosity of strangers.  Life.

We have so much to be thankful for, Beloved and I.  We’ve received letters stating that we applied for SSDI.  We knew that, but everyone wants a copy of that letter.  Mine actually went out to some place in West VA, to be sent to me through the kindness of the poor person who had it tucked in with their correspondence from SSA.  We have a signed lease, which means a secure place to live for at least another year.  We’ve gotten the paperwork to fill out for HIS Long Term Disability (fingers crossed that it will be approved, it means Mo’Money and that’s always good).

We haven’t been very good about moving forward with our plan to simplify things and move them all around.  We did get rid of our large microwave, trading it to his mother for her little one.  “Are you sure?”  Oh yes, yes we are.  Take it and heat things up in good health and with our best wishes.  I’ve got the big cabinets almost emptied of stuff so that we can dismantle them and put smaller, more usable things in their place in the kitchen.  And we may not have to drive to IKEA for that kitchen cart–our Target has something suitable, with a folding shelf that makes it into a breakfast bar or adds work space if needed.  We borrowed a dolly cart from his dad and hopefully, when our friend with the muscles comes over this week, she will be willing to move some things for us.

So Thursday is Thanksgiving and I am responsible for the star of the show–I am cooking the turkey.  Well, first, I am brining the turkey, using a much altered version of Alton Brown’s brining recipe.  He uses vegetable stock and water.  I am going to brine my Tom in Dr. Pepper (and water).  The throw back version, made with real sugar.  Did you know that Dr. Pepper has like 26 different and distinct flavors in it?  So Tom will swim in Dr. Pepper, pickling spices, sugar and salt and ice.  It’s called osmosis and when he’s done swimming, he will be a most moist and flavorful bird.  And we’re just beginning.

On Thursday, I will weave a magical blanket for Tom out of…BACON!  YES!  A bacon blanket, to cover his turkeymanboobs.  Then, I will wrap his tender trusting legs in more bacon.  I will not wrap his wings in bacon because I will tuck them up behind his neck….  I might carefully powder him just ever so slightly with Old Bay spice, since everyone loves an Old Bay Spice TurkeyMan.  I will lovingly insert aromatic vegetables into the thoughtfully available cavity between his bacon-wrapped limbs.  And I shall follow the Kitchen God’s (Alton Brown’s) instructions for roasting: 15 minutes at 500 degrees, then 350 until the correct internal temperature is ALMOST reached.
(Because when you take him out of the oven, Tom continues to cook; take him out a few degrees below done and by the time you are ready to carve, he will have reached the exactly correct temperature and will NOT be overdone and inedible.)

And he shall sweat and simmer and gently roast, bathed in the slow gentle rendering of bacon fat.  His skin shall crisp and brown, the bacon will also crisp but the meat…shall be so sweet, so succulent and melt in the mouth tasty.  It will be like eating the food of the gods and we shall rejoice and be thankful for the generous bird, who gave his all, so that we could feast upon him.  And I’m also making cranberry SALSA to take along with Tom to the in-laws for the meal.  The recipe is actually on the back of the cranberry package…but basically it’s like any salsa, except that you substitute the cranberries for tomatoes.  I have sesame/flax chips to eat it with.  The rest of the meal is up to the MIL–she mentioned mashed potatoes, yams and pureed turnips.

Our friend of the muscles is bringing her daughter with her on Wednesday and if Mom has to work Thanksgiving, Daughter will be going with us to Beloved’s parents.  Could be interesting, but it’s always fun to have more people around.  Doctor’s appointment tomorrow, mandated by the damned but necessary paperwork for disability.  I have to be almost continually re-approved, to prove ongoing medical care.  This is going to get very expensive if I have to do it more than 3 or 4 times a year, since it’s about $200 to see him without insurance.  Sigh.

Thanksgiving.  Then 2 weeks later, the RainBat drives up from GA with my Froggy to spend the holidays.  She, bless her heart, has also promised to help move and organize.  We’ll get this done eventually, I hope.  Otherwise, I’m getting a snow shovel and just shit canning it all.  Then comes Yule/Christmas and the New Year and before you know it, it’s the end of the world.  Or at least the end of 2012.  I am a little concerned about the coincidence of Twinkies dying off just as this year comes to an end…but how did the Mayans know?

The change in weather has of course affected me.  The fibromyalgia is pretty much same as it ever was, same as it ever was.  (Talking Heads allusion)  I am clumsy and Beloved says it’s because I haven’t had the chiropractor put my hips back in alignment lately.  Ah well, that’s another doctor bill we can’t afford now.  (Well, ok, after the 30th.)  Incidentally, because fibro is a “self reported medical issue” (I don’t have a blood test result or MRI to prove that I have it), long term disability will last only 2 years.  Too bad the fibro will go on the rest of my life.  Slight discrepancy there.

So that’s about it for us now; paperwork, Thanksgiving, stirring our stuff around in the attempt to instill some order and simplicity to our lives.  May you be blessed with a wondrous feast, surrounded by family and friends or family that is friends; may you have the wisdom to see how much there is to be thankful for–and remember it more than just one day a year.  And may Dallas lose.  (I’m a long time Redskins fan, it’s an old habit.)

Namaste!

Summer Springs into Fall

Amazing what can happen in just 14 days (since my last blog).

Chronologically, more or less: I gave my presentation at the International Day of Prayer for Peace and it was well received.  I consider it a major coup that the local Imam requested a copy of it.  There was a good crowd and we ate well.  I had no hummus to take home–and apparently they “tore into” the curry flavored one.

We had a more or less typical week following that, doing the usual stuff although we were both too ill to make it to the chiropractor’s on Wednesday.  I was finishing up antibiotics for a sinus infection and my dearest got something viral.  Did follow up with our administrative duties, making sure that insurance companies, employers and absence management agents were getting the information they needed to continue to provide disability insurance benefits, health insurance and such.  Oops, they weren’t.  So I got on the phone and started calling doctor’s offices then sat and waited for nurses to return my calls.

I also used the juicer to make pure apple juice from about 4 pounds of gala apples.  Let me tell you…it made about half a gallon which did not last long enough to require a pitcher to store it in.  OMG, VERY good.  I saved the pulp and made apple pudding: the pulp, eggs, cream, cinnamon, honey, nutmeg and a little black pepper, with apple slices arranged on top and then cooked over a water bath.  We took that as our contribution to the feast on Sunday when we went out to Delaplane for the Native American event.  Got to meet a lot of people and hope to meet with them again.  Beloved feels drawn to that path, even though he’s pure Polish.  (So even when we juice, the recipe opportunities from the pulp are intriguing–and at the very least, usable for compost.)

So this week began with a letter from his employer saying we can’t wait for the doctor’s any longer, a decision about continued employment must be made and no later than 10 am on Wednesday.  I spent that day and the next trying to find out what was going on with the situation, since I thought I had gotten things in order the prior week.  Apparently not.  I finally got a call from the PCP’s nurse at like 4:30 pm on Tuesday that said he would NOT send the necessary documentation, it needed to come from one of the other doctors involved.  I’d draw you a picture of me freaking out, but it would not be pretty.  Needless to say, I was in hyper-anxious mode.  Thank the gods for a doctor who WILL answer her cell phone, AT HOME.  And who will be happy to help out with an email, assessing Beloved’s ability to return to work (which is NOT).  We haven’t heard anything from his employer, so we’re hoping that was sufficient.  No news is good news and all that.

But the stress and anxiety of that was enough to trigger a fibromyalgia flare up.  Yay.  Took every pain pill I have, every pain pill I can have and still hurt.  Lost my brain somewhere in the process and spend the rest of the week in a fog, with a massive attack of ADD.  Can I have an ice cream?  Ooooh look, a kitten.  Yeah.  That has finally settled down–and btw, I slept 15, FIFTEEN hours Thursday night.  Laid down for a nap at 5:30 pm, woke up at 8:30.  A.M.  Tired much?

Friday I did get the good news that MY long term disability claim agent has FINALLY received all the doctor’s reports.  I only sent the claims form in to her a month ago.  And Monday she will review them and then send them wherever they go for approval.  (PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!!!)  So I’m hoping to get a check this month, maybe but next month fer sure.  What small furry animal do I have to sacrifice to get that to go through?  ‘Cause I’ll do it, you know I will!

We have also talked to our landlord to determine the level of necessity for applying for a housing voucher.  Turns out it is very necessary–but if we’re going to use a voucher, we will be moving over to the income controlled section of the housing.  Which is not a bad thing, as we will have to go into a two bedroom apartment–just like the one I used to live in when I was out here with the Lizard, since I met the income requirements at that time.  Now what changes they have made for it to be ADA compliant, I don’t know.  BUT the manager JUST HAPPENS to have one coming available, if this other person does not take it, and it would be available on NOVEMBER 1.  So theoretically, if this all goes smoothly and I am approved for the voucher…I could possibly be moving in 3 weeks.

The only reason that doesn’t make me freak out is because I can’t do it.  Someone else will have to.  And….all we really need is for people to show up with their cars….take stuff and put it in the car, take it about half a mile away and put it more or less in the corollary spot in the new place.  We still have at least half of our shit (you heard me) in boxes, so that’s easy enough–and they all go into the second bedroom for me to bring out and unpack one at a time.  Instead of being piled up in a corner of the living room like they are now.  We can rent the $20 UHaul for the furniture and mileage…will be more getting to and from the UHaul store than it will on the actual move.

So think good thoughts because it looks like perhaps the time of being hung over the precipice by the gods and taunted with the sharp spiky rocks at the bottom of the chasm is done and things will actually improve to the point we can stop eating anti-anxiety meds like mints.

We hit the farmers market yesterday and failed miserably at spending less, but we do have some awesome produce.  The plan is for tomato, bacon and basil sandwiches today at some point.  I also intend to make salsa for my beloved man.  Doing my laundry now and going to tackle the kitchen, a little bit at a time as I can–got to get enough done so that The Man can make meat sauce for pasta as dinner tonight.

Synopsis: still sore, but not as bad.  Head is not as fuzzy or I wouldn’t be blogging.  I feel mostly tired and may end up napping–“he” has already gone to lay down.  I need to put my wet clothes into the dryer, which means I will probably putter around the kitchen for a little before coming back out to the computer and sitting/resting for another little while.

This next week looks rather active.  Our friend is coming over to spend the day tomorrow so I will implore her to do the dishes that require hand washing.  Beloved and I have phone calls to make and hopefully one of them will get me an appointment at the VA for the housing voucher, which we intend to go to DC on Tuesday to beg for.  Wednesday is back cracking day and Friday we have doctor’s appointments.  I am also preparing to cater a dinner party on Saturday night for about 8-12 people.  It is a Virginia themed meal, with VA wines being paired up with each course, made with something that is also local.  My friend is a  major wino…I mean, wine lover and has chosen the bottles.  Here is the menu:

Butterkase (German “Butter cheese” or another very mild cheese) fondue, with apple slices (voignier)

Williamsburg Peanut Soup (chambourcin or Cab Frank)

Pork (loin or chops) stuffed with chopped apples, onions, pepitas (squash seeds) and bread crumbs with (fresh) thyme and garlic
(If I can get a loin, I will ask the butcher to spiral cut it so that it would lay flat, then spread the stuffing on it and roll it up like a pork loin jelly roll.  If I have to buy chops, I will get them thick enough to cut a pocket for the stuffing.  If I have to do chops, I am also considering cooking them in parchment paper)  (Chardonnay)

Sides will be quinoa (cooked in the rice cooker and seasoned with butter, salt, pepper and grains of paradise*; looks like couscous and tastes like sweet corn) and whatever fresh green vegetable I find at the market, possibly a cucumber salad.

Dessert: “Apple Pie” (petit manseng)  Wherein the apple is gala, it’s in a custard and may or may not have a crust.  But if it does, it will be a crust made with vodka or apple brandy because that makes it flaky beyond words.

*Grains of paradise: a spice used a LOT in Colonial America, from Africa, also known as crocodile pepper.  Tastes like pepper, ginger, and cardamom.

My friend has a cider that he wants to share, but says that it will go best with something that is spicy, so I may make hot nuts (every kind BUT peanuts) so that as guests arrive, they can munch on those and sip cider.  Incidentally, I intend to use several different kinds of local apples, so that each course that has apples has something different.  And if I can find VA peanuts, I will make the peanut butter that the Williamsburg soup recipe calls for.

I will get the things done ahead of time that I can, so I am able to meter out my ability to do that day–and make it through the meal.  I also want to make cinnamon almonds to take to our doctor on Friday as thanks for helping us out last week.  Guess I’d better get the damned kitchen clean.  Sigh.

I’m still pleased with the cleaning products I have made.  MIGHT have hit on a good recipe for shampoo, but further testing is required.  I have also started the old-fashioned ritual of brushing my hair one hundred times at night.

And another random thought, as it occurs to me: we have been Skyping with my son and his family, but we do not have a webcam.  Well, Beloved will be putting together his father’s new computer (when it all delivers, tomorrow) and in those boxes, there is a webcam for us.  Guess we’ll be talking to the Froggy and he’ll be able to finally see us as well.  Looking forward to it!

So life goes on, with good days and bad days.  The change in seasons means more change in the weather, which affects both of us deeply (literally–in the long bones of my legs especially).  We are still in a bit of a limbo because no final decisions have been made about our status-es.  Stati?  If my long term disability benefits would kick in, that would be at least some income, and of course the housing voucher is a major godsend if I qualify.  I feel like I’ve hit a bit of a plateau with my fibro meds and not sure that they are as useful as they could be.  Will be discussing that with the PCP the 23rd of this month.

If we didn’t have the uncertainty, we would not be unhappy with our lives.  In fact, things aren’t really bad, other than no income.  Hope to have that solved soon.  In the meantime…we just go on, one step, one day at a time.

Namaste!

Ch-ch-ch-changes….

Turn and face the strange…

So I blame my son.  He has been kind enough to let us share his sign in for NetFlix and Beloved has been watching documentaries.  Lots of them.  On a variety of subjects, but many of them are about food.  And he is (justly) inspired and eager to try some of these new ideas about eating in our own diet.  Me, I’m feeling overwhelmed by it all.  Raw food, Vegan agendas, making juice, eating 6 times a day.  Good grief.  As I told him, I’m NOT spending my whole day in the kitchen.  Oh and green products for cleaning.  We’ll talk about that in a minute.

Part of the problem is that I do agree with him on a great deal of these changes.  We need to eat organic–in fact, if you didn’t know, here’s the hierarchy for buying your food, especially produce: organic over non-organic.  Local over imported organic.  Local organic trumps all.  Pastured beef, pork and poultry, including eggs.  Organic meats are not necessarily the same as pastured; organic means they can’t pump them full of antibiotics and they’re probably not all piled on top of each other.  Pastured means that animal walked and grazed, you know, like back in the olden days, before industrial food.  In other words, the animal is eating what it was designed to consume, making it healthier and therefore better for you.

Beloved has been a sponge, absorbing lots of information.  Most of it good, some of it questionable, some of it … well, not agreed to.  After much discussion and negotiation, here’s what we’re going to do add, one small step at a time–because trying to add it all at once makes it unsustainable.  And this is about sustainability–both for us, in our habits of eating, and in the foods we eat being sustainable and healthy in their production and (lack of) processing.  We are going to eat more raw food, aiming for 51% of our food (by weight) to be raw or at least not heated above 110 degrees.  This does not include just fruits and vegetables.  We are both very fond of sushi and rare beef (even to the extreme of steak tartar) so there will be some raw animal flesh in our diet.  We have a juicer now (thanks to his mother, who got it as a gift and never used it), so we will make juice out of the vegetables we cannot consume in sufficient quantities to get the nutrition from them, such as leafy greens.  Beloved has a problem with leafy greens because of his lap band surgery.  The idea is to juice the vegetables and then use that as the liquid in the Vitamix blender, adding fruit for a more nutritionally complete smoothie that is easier to drink than one made all in the blender, which has been too thick from all the pulp.

The pulp that we are separating out with the juicer can be used as an additive in cooking, or I can just compost it, so all that rich plant matter does not go to waste!  And we will benefit from all the nutrition that is in the juice, which we have not been getting.  We’re looking more closely now at vitamins and minerals, in addition to things like protein, carbs and fat counts.  We take a multivitamin because we’re not getting all of our nutrition from our food–in fact, no one is.  The food we eat today is nutritionally deficient to the same types of food from 1950.  Why?  Because of industrialization and commercial preparation of most of our foods.  Let’s talk about this for a moment.

99% of all the corn grown in this country is NOT eaten by us.  It’s also not shipped overseas to be eaten by any human.  Instead, it’s processed.  And processed.  And processed.  Into things like High Fructose Corn Syrup, Xanthan gum, ascorbic acid, maltodextrin, monosodium glutamate, caramel and caramel color, polyvinyl acetate, stearic acid, and so on.  Hundreds of products, not many of them look like food.  But they are IN your food.  If you really want to freak out about corn, watch “King Corn”, a documentary that will make you flip.  And stop eating corn products.  You CAN eat CORN–but it must at least look like what we all think corn looks like, or obviously come from corn, like pop corn, tortilla chips and etc.

Monsanto (http://www.monsanto.com/Pages/default.aspx) is quietly genetically modifying all kinds of foods–and has been for years–without any idea what that will do in the long run.  It’s more about making produce that won’t spoil before getting to market, plants growing to a uniform size with uniform sized fruit or vegetables so that they can be commercially (mechanically) picked and handled.  Like the long stemmed roses you buy, you get one thing but not two–the roses have long gorgeous stems, beautiful flowers…and NO smell.  So these genetically modified foods are also lacking, usually in taste and often in both taste and nutrition.  Most of Europe refuses to have Monsanto products and in fact, Poland has completely banned them–but here in the US, most consumers don’t even know who they are and how very much they are affecting our health.

So let’s look at the average American’s circle of life:
1.  The agribusiness, industrialized farms produce fruits and vegetables that are deficient in many nutrients.  They are sprayed with petrochemical pesticides and weed killers; in fact, some of the plants themselves have been genetically modified to exude pesticides from every surface (which in at least one case has led to human male sterilization after ingestion of same).  They are harvested by machine without regard to optimum ripeness, shipped distances and kept long enough that any nutrition they might have had is generally gone before they are sold.

2.  The industrialized meat production is worse.  Animals are packed together in spaces so small that they must be mutilated (chickens have the top half of their beak cut off; pigs have the tips of their tails removed) to avoid damage from attacks from their neighbor.  This closeness increases the incident of disease, so that 80% of ALL the antibiotics made in the US are given to animals.  It is in the meat and we ingest it, increasing OUR resistance to various antibiotics and we wonder why.  The animals live a life of squalor and torment and are killed in a state of terror, which floods their bodies with all kinds of chemicals, affecting the taste of the meat–and the nutrition it might–MIGHT–have.

3.  This industrialized is sent to factories for further processing into convenience foods, or shipped to your local grocery store.  Either way, when you buy it, you have no idea how much nutrition it really has, what other chemicals it might contain, and what it is going to do to your body if you consume it.  Americans also have no idea what real serving portions look like, so are generally eating way more of this stuff than they are supposed to.

4.  You cook dinner or you eat out.  You try to be healthy by having a vegetarian or even vegan diet, but you’re still buying stuff that is industrially produced.  And then you can’t explain why you feel tired all the time, why you’re always sick, why you’re fat or not losing weight…well, the next bit is going to make you scream!

Everybody lives with stress, right?  What does stress do to your body?  Apart from the obvious things we all know, stress and the “fight or flight mode” we all tend to live under destroys your body’s vitamin C.  NO WONDER we all get sick!  So to counter stress, take mega doses of Vitamin B-3 (Niacin) and MEGA doses of Vitamin C.  I mean mega, above and beyond the RDA, like 2 or 3 times the amount at least.  You CANNOT overdose on Vitamin C.  Large amounts of niacin can cause flushing, like hot flashes from menopause, so go easier with that.  Just try it for a week and tell me I’m not right.

We have found it makes a difference, and Beloved’s sister bought her vitamins on Sunday and then texted him on Monday that she didn’t think it would work that fast.  Just saying.

We had already made the switch to organic and pastured food wherever possible.  Adding raw is less of a problem for me, who was subsisting on veggies in a bento box long before we met…HE, on the other hand, will have to learn to eat them.  Leafy greens as mentioned are a problem; other certain vegetables can be an issue as well so it will be a lot of trial and error to find out what works and what doesn’t.  We’re also looking into spirulina (blue-green algae) as an additive, plus hemp powder and flax seed/oil.  I have discovered that he will eat chopped salads, regardless of what is exactly in them. (Made one with chopped zucchini, onions, tomatoes and an Oriental style dressing).  He and I both will eat summer squashes (zucchini, yellow) that are hot but NOT cooked–so stir fries and barely steamed.  I don’t mind winter squashes (pumpkin, acorn, butternut) cooked and mashed.  I also like root vegetables (turnips, rutabaga, parsnips) either raw or cooked and mashed.  Now I’ll have to figure out how to sauce them to add interest and variety for us to eat them.

We’re eating Raw Revolution bars and prefer the lemon flavored one.  One of them can serve as a snack; two would be a meal.  Probably the single largest change for Beloved will be learning what is really a serving.  He has years of his mother serving a large plate, filled with protein and carbs, with a small little plop of vegetables (that he often wouldn’t eat since she cooks everything until it’s beyond dead).  He’s discovering that 3 or 4 large scallops are actually a serving and that 1/4 pound of salmon is, when presented properly, almost more than he can eat.  (Meat portions should be 3 or 4 ounces or the size of a deck of playing cards).  So we are going to try to live with a more Japanese approach to food: small plates, measured portions, more fish then meat.  (Side note: yes, the fish costs more, but you are buying less.  6 – 8 ounces of good quality fish, depending on what kind and we like tuna and salmon, runs between $7 and $20 per pound.  So even at $10 for 6 – 8 ounces of the most expensive, it’s actually only $5 per person and that makes it incredibly cheaper than buying that same fish if someone else cooks it for you. And it’s healthier.)

We are also using the European shopping method–although we’re not going quite daily on what we need for that day’s meals, but we will be shopping for less items more often, to ensure that we’re getting fresh fresh fresh!  This serves a dual purpose–aside from getting food, we will have impetus to shower and dress and go out more often.  It’s very easy to just sit around in your robe day after day without realizing that’s what is happening.  So having to go out to forage will be a valuable part of our stated desire to walk more.

I did say that we would talk about green cleaning products.  The documentary to watch for this is called “Chemerical” and it convinced us that getting rid of commercial cleaning products would benefit us, especially me with my fibro.  It’s an accepted fact that housewives have a 54% higher rate of cancer than other groups–because of all the contact they have with those household cleaners.  I was a stay at home mom for 13 years, so I’ve had my share of exposure.  Beloved believes that if we can reduce the chemicals, both in our food and in our environment, we can reduce the inflammations of my disease, perhaps even to the point where I might not require medication and wouldn’t that be amazing?

I will leave it to you to do the Internet research for more information about green cleaning products, but I will tell you what supplies you need, to make your own and you’re going to be shocked when you see how simple it is:

Tap water
White and Cider Vinegars
Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
20 Mule Team Borax (by Dial Corporation)
Glycerine
Isopropyl Alcohol (Disinfectant/Sterilization)
Hydrogen Peroxide (Mold and mildew killer)
Castile Soap (Dr. Bronner’s)
Liquid Castile Soap (Dr. Bronner’s)
Tea Tree essential oil (Disinfectant; kills virus, germs and fungus)
*Optional: Lavender, lemon and/or peppermint essential oils

From those things you can make each product you need to clean everything in your house, including you and your clothes.  I have already begun with a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar as a spray kitchen cleaner.  It does not leave a vinegar smell, which I thought it would, and everything I wipe is amazingly clean and smooth.  I am using liquid castile soap to do the dishes and they are really “squeaky” clean, with no detergent haze.  I am using the borax/washing soda/salt mixture for the dishwasher and putting white vinegar into the rinse aid receptacle.  It’s doing a bang up job.  I can hardly wait to make the laundry soap.

I know I sound like a hippy convert, but…we did just fine back in the day with the natural ways of growing our food and cleaning our house.  There’s too much money in industrial food, industrial cleaners and the healthcare BUSINESS for the corporations to be concerned with minor things like nutrition, sustainability and keeping us healthy.  Far more money can be made if we stay sick than if they cure what ails us.  Fibromyalgia is a relatively new disease, and there are other diseases that we never heard of before the Industrial Age…why is our country, with its ability to grow food, the pollution laws that limit what companies can put into the environment, why is our country filled with sick people?  Have you LOOKED at the size of the medication aisles in any store?  Lots of things to treat your cold or your allergies, but no cures.  Why not?  All this time scientists have had…where is the cure for the common cold, for AIDS, for diabetes…oh, that’s right.  Not enough money is curing, much more to be made in treating.  Have a pill.

So we’re making our choices, one step at a time.  I feel better when I’ve had my niacin then when I haven’t.  I like the idea of cleaning the house with products that won’t send me into asthma attacks (like chlorine does).  We’ll try all the things he’s learned about and we’ll keep the ones that work for us.  And do you have any idea how completely pissed I will be if I could come off of my meds while I am in my own home because my nutrition is correct and I’m not breathing in volatile compounds from cleansers?  If it’s the industrial world around me that’s making me sick?  If it’s the industrial world that’s making all of us sick–and we don’t have to be except that someone, somewhere is getting rich off of it?

Sorry, don’t mean to rant but it’s dreadful to think that somehow there is this conspiracy to keep us fat dumb and happy–and ill.  I can only do what I can for myself and share this blog with you so that you can, perhaps, choose for yourself a better way–not even necessarily MY way, but to know that there are options and choices for how to treat your fibro, things you can do that may make you feel better and isn’t that worth it?  This does require a commitment to being even more hyper aware of what’s going into us, adding being aware of what’s going on around us and generally choosing to live a life that is healthy, sustainable and makes us happy.

Namaste, and I hope you find what makes you happy!

 

 

Current Events: What is Going on Here?

So I finally got around to calling my mother (my parents live in Corpus Christi) to let her know what has been going on with me and the beloved.  After the conversation, I realized that we’ve actually been doing quite a lot, especially for two people who are having health issues that prevent them from working or going out much.  So I figured I’d update anyone who was paying attention to this blog.

(I am sharing medical information because it’s good to know that it can take time to work out what works for you, and to get names of meds perhaps you haven’t tried.  If you have fibro, keep trying out everything that might work to find what does work for you!)

We saw the specialist and got an “all clear” for my blood work.  No rheumatoid arthritis, all other blood levels were within norms.  Always good to hear.  She suggested increasing the Lyrica (fibro med) and finding a pain specialist or accupuncturist to deal with the ongoing levels of pain.  We went to our primary care physician two days later.  We talked with him and I made it clear that the specialist is fine for consultation, but I want all of my healthcare to be focused in his office and he and I will chart my course for health.  It gives me a central place to call for my prescriptions (so I don’t have to call all over the place getting refills) and since it IS central, if there’s bad interactions, the doctor will be able to see that within my records.  It makes a more holistic, overall health care plan of action which I want.  So he and I have mapped out a combination of Lyrica, added back the Cymbalta (which handles pain of fibro more than fibro and melds with the Lyrica beautifully).  I’ve dropped the Tramadol (the worst for side effects of my pain meds) which will now be my “go to” med when I need some extra pain relief.  I’m still taking the Celebrex as a maintenance (twice a day) pain pill, and Vicodin is still my friend, but usually 2 a day instead of 4.  That relieves my doctor…

He also takes care of my husband, and we both go to each other’s appointments so the doctor is used to seeing us together.  I like this as well; I believe you always need an extra set of ears to hear the conversation.  Paul is also very observant of me, so he can tell the doctor more of the external signs of my health/behavior.  And since the doctor knows what is going on with BOTH of us, he also handed me a prescription for Xanax, to relieve the stress we are both living under.  Amazing how fast the tightness in my chest (which I thought was a recurrence of my asthma) went away with that little yellow pill.  It’s not a long term med, but for right now, it’s a necessary and important part of getting me healthy again.

And according to Paul, I am doing so well that it’s disorienting.  I am, to quote him, back to being a smartass.  YAY!   I have actually taken my kitchen from piles of dishes hoping for some kindly friend to wash them up to getting them washed and put away.  And I am keeping up with them as we eat and make more dirty ones.  I have rearranged my kitchen into a more cook-able arrangement.  The appliances that I use regularly are lined up like a display in Bed Bath and Beyond….the Cuisinart food processor, the rice cooker, the toaster, the convection oven.  The counter that they had all been huddled on is now clear except for my cutting board and the crock that holds all the kitchen utensils.  In other words, a clean area to prep food and conveniently next to the stove.  (Which by the way has my induction plate on it–if you haven’t cooked on induction (by magnetism, basically)…well, you should.  Faster, hotter, shorter cook times makes it easier and CHEAPER to use than a regular gas or electric stove.  Just saying.)

And with all of that in order, I am (drum roll) COOKING again!  It’s something I do very well and enjoy doing…but haven’t had the energy or focus until recently.  Of course it means more dirty dishes…sigh.

So what other excitement have we had?  Both kids came to have dinner with us to celebrate my son’s birthday.  We went to Black Bear (his first time, but not the last time he wants to go there!) and Paul got to see their interaction for the first time.  We’ve had them both visit, but never together like this.  My sweet Froggy looked at us and SMILED…he remembered us!!  Which was awesome.  We also got to spend time with him and his parents over two days, which was wonderful.  Another one of those simple days, nothing special, just family hanging out–we ordered pizza for dinner–and yet was a truly wonderful day.

We also have a young friend whose mother recently died, so we’ve been a quiet place for her to come and sit, talk to us and just hide from her own life for a little.  We both minister, it’s what we do…helping others is a vital part of our own lives and it’s been missing, lost in the crush of poor health and the realities of the insurance companies who dictate whether or not you are approved for your claim.  Or as my friends have said before, all the lost puppies find my house.  Nice to be helping others again, especially having been on the receiving end of other’s helping us.

I made country-fried steak for dinner last night, compete with white gravy, Texas style.  I think of it as library paste with sausage, but it’s the traditional topping for the steak…no seriously, it does taste good, but it is NOT a demiglace or anything that fancy.  Real country cooking.  Fried rice of some sort for dinner tonight, I think.  And it’s nice to be able to plan and then prepare actual meals.

So life is definitely going a lot better.  I still tire easily (loss of muscle tone, of course) and I am still trying to go slowly while ignoring the feeling of malingering.  We’ve decided that we need to create a real schedule instead of “eat, sleep, computer” at any hour without regard to the normal cycle of time.  Can’t go food shopping at 2 am when the store closed at 11 pm.  I think we also need to get back into a routine of doing specific things at specific times to create a sense of order that will help us on the path to good health.

For the rest of you with fibro, I hope this helps you find a way out of your flare ups, offers some idea for meds to try and lets you know that once you can get the pharmaceuticals right, which will treat the issues of fibro appropriately, there is a nice, normal life waiting for you as well.  Excuse me while I go load the dishwasher.

Namaste!