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!

 

Summer Vacation (In Place)

Back story: Beloved’s sister, my sister-in-love, hereafter referred to as “SIL” is a costume designer. An amazing, creative costume designer. Who is 2/3 of the way through grad school in IL to gain the paper proof of her abilities known as The Master’s Degree. She’s not only been burning the candle at both ends, but in the middle and anywhere else the wick dared to peek out. So Beloved and his parents managed to convince her to come visit us as a well-earned and much-needed break from the grueling millstone of school and shows and summer jobs. And after talking to her, Beloved got the vacation extended from 4-5 days to 9 full days in beautiful, calm Eureka.

And the curtain on our Summer Vacation goes up:

We picked her up at the local airport (a single baggage claim area, one gate, and everything but the Pepsi machine closes at 8 pm) on July the 2nd. She looked tired and from more than a full day’s travel (a 7 hour layover in Sacramento to catch the puddle jumper up to here). But she was happy to see us and we were happy to see her. We grabbed a bite to eat at the almost only place open 24 hours, the local family diner, then took her to her home away from home motel room. (Trust me, there’s no room in my house for her, and besides, she has some modicum of privacy, of which there ain’t none at all in my house!)

Next morning (or later that same day, depending on how you look at it), we gather her up and the meals begin…during these 9 days that we had with her, we took her to all of our favorite places to eat, carefully planned so as to maximize the number of restaurants we could fit in with us only eating 2 meals a day. We hit Walgreen’s and Target for some of the little things she forgot, to replace an extension cord that the TSA absconded with on her flight out here, and beach paraphernalia such as a chair, bucket (for seashells) and a hat. We hit Old Town one day, having lunch at the Cafe Nooner and then she and I walked around the shops. Well, she walked, I rode my new(ish) scooter; Beloved went back to her motel and hung out until called to fetch us for dinner at the next restaurant on our list. We repeat that process a day or two later to hit the local thrift stores–which she may have actually enjoyed more. SIL has been thrifting most of her clothes for a long time. She found some great stuff–and I didn’t do too badly myself!

We had Chinese food, Vietnamese, Thai and German. We had Mexican food and California sushi, as well as Japanese (traditional) sushi. All of it fresh, most of it local, some of it organic. A better quality of food than most people eat and a sure fire way to help her restock her body’s energy. Lots of sleep and days of doing nothing in particular, just what the Doctors Brother and His Wife had ordered. I have to admit, living right by the ocean, the only kind of food we didn’t feed her was seafood (other than in the sushi and that’s not everyone’s idea of seafood, even if it is fish!)–Dungeness crab season ended as she arrived, so we’ve put that on the “To Eat” list for the next time she’s here.

We showed her Eureka, our Costco which has a lot of organics (probably due to local demand for it), our house and the little town we live in (south of Eureka). We went to the fireworks show on the 4th–first one I’ve been to in years. For a small town, it was downright impressive–about 20 minutes long, with fireworks I’d never seen before. We sat at one of the Boardwalk down on the channel where the boats go through to the ocean–and the marina resides. Lots of people, but all of them happy and pleasant. We even had a puppy cuteness overload with the people next to us having 3 puppies, maybe 2 months old…awwww.

We took her to the beach. Four or five times in the time she was here. The first time, we hit the jackpot with the wild life. She was happy to see all of the dogs, which we also enjoy. (Or as Beloved points out, there are only 3 rules for this beach: don’t turn your back on the ocean, beware of the rip tides, and if you have an earthquake, assume tsunami and move to higher ground.) But some of the other things we had talked up to her also showed up–a flight of pelicans, almost in slow motion, passed over our heads, a serious photo op if ever there was one. She got to see not just one, but FOUR horses, being ridden on the sands. We also saw those little bobbing brown heads that are seals. And of course, the surf fishermen, the kites, the terns and other shore birds and, last but certainly not least, the ever-changing, ever-eternal ocean.

I was very glad to have this time with her. It’s the first chance that SIL and I have had time together without a major holiday and everyone else around. And lest you think that I monopolized her time, I made sure that she and her brother had time together without me as well. Maybe not as much as she and I did, but hey, they already knew each other. Even with the limitations of our disabilities, we had a great time having her here and found that we could push ourselves to the point of being able to spend as much time with her as possible. We only had to beg off from a couple of late night talk sessions–and she allowed as she was tired, too–so that wasn’t too bad.

One of the last things she did while here was something that she had asked me to check out and go with her–she was ready for her first tattoo!! I did my research around here and found a one man shop, with a tattoo artist who is amazing to be her first. (But not her last, as she already had plans for several more tattoos in her head…which I think will find solid form on paper now that she knows what tattooing is all about.) And of course, I couldn’t let her go all alone…so I got my 14th tattoo, as seen here:
Purple Butterfly

This is my purple butterfly for Fibromyalgia Awareness, a permanent sign of both my disease and a hope for a cure or at least better treatments for the conditions it brings with it. Amazing scrollwork, very fine lines for the outline, just great work all around–to the point where I may have to start saving up for (and doing in stages) the half-sleeve tattoo I’d like to have on my right arm. The left is saved for a military-style “flash”, where badges are located on the uniform, for a personal tattoo that represents me and the Beloved. The half-sleeve will be a compendium of my life, my children and grandchildren, things that are important to me. I feel that I have finally found an artist I can work with, whose style is very complementary to what I want my tattoo to look like.

So SIL and I bonded through ink and needles, as well as some amazing meals. She is seriously considering basing out of here once she’s out of school, as she will essentially freelance costume design–this keeps her from being limited to one company, one place. I also suspect that her (and Beloved’s) parents may also end up here, having both retired just this past May. They are already making tentative plans to come see us at the end of summer, beginning of fall–and I think SIL’s report will only encourage them to visit us. They want to live near their children, and since Beloved and I are already out here…and SIL may also be, just stands to reason that we will soon all have CA addresses.

This was the closest thing to a vacation we’ve had, almost ever, in our 4 years together. It was fun and tiring, happy and way too short–and I’m so glad we got to share it with her. We are looking forward to repeating the formula of good eats when the parents come out–and Beloved’s best friend, who is to visit us next month. How lucky are we, to have all this good food around us–and to be able to share it with the people who mean the most to us?

Now we rest up and recuperate, back to the usual schedule of doctor’s appointments and preparing for my SSDI adjudication the middle of August. Lots of memories were made this week and a half–and the last place we took SIL to, before putting her back on the airplane back to IL? The beach, of course.

Bay Drive Beach

More Adventures and Updates from CA

It’s December in Eureka.  Well, it’s December everywhere, but I’m in Eureka.  It’s been colder than usual and the locals are complaining about the hard winter.  Nobody here owns a winter coat, so even when the mercury dipped down into the 30’s we still saw people in short and flip-flops, shivering as they walked down the street.

We’re getting settled in, forming a “Eureka” routine.  Learning where stuff is in the local grocery store, discovering that we don’t necessarily have to plan our errand route in a specific order because if we miss one, even if it’s back across town?  That’s only about 2 miles at the very most.  Distances confuse us, used as we are to dealing with that as the measure of how long it takes to get from one place to another.  (In VA, it was the only way to know how much time to allot.  And if you missed a stop on your list, it could mean backtracking 15-20 miles.)

I can sit at my desk and look out the window…and see water.  We have a lively crowd of birds who come to eat the seed spread by my neighbor in the middle of the road.  No, he’s not hunting fowl for dinner…it really is that small a podunk town (about 1/4 square miles total area, with less than 300 residents).  No traffic to speak of.  We know when someone is walking by because all the dogs sound an alarm.  Or are asking to be pet, depending on your point of view.

I’m still having stress anxiety issues.  I don’t mind being outside, or going places–as long as I am not having to actually interact with more than about 3 people.  So that means going into the grocery store can be hard on me.  I manage it most of the time by keeping my head down and staying “inside a bubble”, looking only at the shelves and floor.  If I have to look at people, watch out for other carts and keep adjusting my motion through the store to accommodate the other shoppers…it eventually freaks me out.

I got an “emergency” appointment with my new psychiatrist a couple of weeks ago.  (Side note: we are in CA, land of the hippies.  I address my social worker and psychiatrist by their first names.  VERY informal, even at the VA.)  I am on a new anti-anxiety med (Hydroxyzine Pamoate).  It began life as an antihistamine, but is used a lot for the Vets who have PTSD.  Seems to be working for me, although as an antihistamine, it comes with the warning about the sleepies (and it does affect me that way) and it also can caused blurred vision.  Yup, got that too.  But I do feel like it actually does something, which I never could prove with the clonazepam.

I get to meet my PCP the day after Christmas.  I am already making a list of things we need to talk about: pain management, a scooter for me, an assessment of the meds I”m on.  My psychiatrist told me that the VA (here) takes pain management very seriously–and is willing to use non-traditional methods to get it.  They will cover chiropractors, accupuncture and massage therapy.  WOW!  She also told me that I should use ANY herbal supplements I find helpful (code word for medical marijuana, or MMJ as I’ve seen it mentioned) as long as I keep her in the loop so that she can make sure there’s no bad interactions with my pharmaceuticals.

I need a scooter because walking, while not particularly making my legs hurt, does cause back spasms and sciatica.  I can feel exactly where the degenerative arthritis is, in my spine.  And since most of the retail stores here are not national chains, they don’t have handicap access carts.  The grocery store has one, which means I can’t do the Beloved and Me show for shopping that is usually our habit.  (He can’t walk the store, either.)

On the plus side of things, we like our apartment.  We like the town itself.  (Both our little baby town and Eureka!)  We like the people–they are kind, polite and very friendly.  We are eating better, and our health is improving (I think) because of it.  The cost of living is much cheaper so there is less stress about money…let’s talk a little more about that.

There is less long term stress about money.  We know that we can make it on Beloved’s SSDI and my LTD.  However…I am up for review by the insurance’s “Any Occupation” board, in which they try to tell me that I can go back to work and I tell them, no I cannot if only because I’m on narcotics for pain relief.  I shouldn’t drive.  I don’t do much of it as Beloved handles the transportation.  I cannot walk or stand for longer than about 15 minutes.  I still nap frequently.  I freak out around groups of people (more than 4-6 other people–big group, eh?).   Tell me which job you think I can handle, that fits my skills, experience and training and who would hire me.  Hopefully, they will see my point of view and agree with me, granting me “real” LTD (good until 2028, when I become eligible for Social Security, based on age not disability).

If I am rejected (and told to go back to work), we become immediately eligible for a lot of Social Services.  Which would cover the difference in income, and we can manage to live here comfortably with that assistance.  We are both signed up for the ACA and need to find out, on Jan 1, with the rest of the nation, just exactly what we are eligible for in healthcare.  Between that and the VA, I am seriously COVERED.  But Beloved will finally have health insurance again, so we can begin to deal with some of his medical needs.

The cost of an extra week in the hotel and 2 extra weeks of renting a car have really come back to hit us hard.  It burned up money we needed for deposits and down payments, some of which we ended up having to borrow to be able to get things like the car.  So we have reached a point where we have month left at the end of our money–never a good thing, since the idea is to have money left at the end of the month.  Sigh.

We have food to eat, no problems there.  But bills are due and will have to paid the minute any checks come in.  (Mine, his or the returned deposit from our last apartment, which hasn’t shown up yet and is more than overdue according to the complex’s manager and her own timeline.  Le Sigh.)  And there is no extra money at all, for presents to each other in this holiday season or even getting some of the household items we need.  Things that you don’t truly realize that you need to have, until you need to use them.  Kitchen towels.  Potholders.  A Scotchpad to scrub recalcitrant food off of dishes.  A toilet brush.  Soap dish.  Colander.  (I’m using a scoop sieve to deal with noodles, but something I can just pour the food and water into and let it handle the draining water would be nice.)  Just little stuff.  That doesn’t include the inevitable restocking of the spices and nonperishable pantry (stock) items.

On the other hand, when I do get to purchase these things, I get to choose what I want.  For the past 32 years, all of my kitchen towels were given to me, I didn’t pick out a single one.  Now I can go get whatever my little heart desires.  I left the potholders I had made 30 years prior behind in VA.  I will get new ones.  Or make new ones.  So there!  And I don’t have to get them at Bed Bath and Beyond.  I’m totally okay with the dollar store.  As long as the towels dry my stuff and the potholders keep me from burning myself, that’s fine.

So it’s the holidays.  Beloved and I got some early presents from his folks.  They sent us our new convection oven (http://www.brevilleusa.com/the-smart-oven-r.html) and it is the bomb.  We also got a variable temperature kettle (important because every kind of tea requires a different degree of heat to brew to its perfect state.  And coffee should never be boiled; it is made at 200 degrees.  Those 12 degrees make a huge difference in its taste.) that we use almost daily ( http://www.brevilleusa.com/variable-temperature-kettle.html).  His parents got us every accessory for the oven and even bought us the “Brownies with all edges” AND “Lasagna with all edges” pans.  (http://www.amazon.com/Bakers-Edge-Nonstick-Brownie-Pan/dp/B000MMK448)

We plan on getting the Breville breadmaker as well.  The local, organic and non-GMO loaves of bread are wonderful, tasty…and expensive.  It’s about $5 a loaf.  We can make the same thing for less than a dollar a loaf (for ingredients).  And we eat enough bread to make that breadmaker a worthwhile investment.  We’re also talking about getting a Belgian waffle maker; the prices have come down considerably since Beloved bought one for his parents ($90 then, about $25 now…) and it’s a quick and easy way to have a carb for a meal.  And once I get a good recipe for the mix, I can make either sweet waffles or savory.  Chicken and gravy on waffles is GOOD!

Like I said, we’re good for food.  And we have a roof over our head.  So life is pretty good.  Yes, having less than a dollar in our accounts is stressful, but once the checks hit, we’re fine.  We continue to learn how to live a life without all the mad, stupid amounts of stress we had in VA, to slow down to a pace of life that is easier to deal with.  And it’s not just us imposing this slow down–the general pace of things out here is slower, gentler.  And no one seems to be rushing anywhere (except the HSU students and they are not locals).

We have our computers, as old and beat as they are; we have our phones (new and awesome, but not really usable in the apartment due to old wiring interference).  We have a place to live, food to eat and a reliable source of transportation.  We have each other.

Is it everything we hoped for?  No.  Is it even half of what we thought it would be?  No.  BECAUSE there were things we have that we didn’t even know to ask for.  Because there are things which have turned out to be important to us that we had not considered.  Is it a better life than we had in VA?  A resounding YES.  Do we regret moving out here?  No way.  Besides, I still have to learn how to surf.

Namaste!

Japanese Minimalism in a Consumerist World

We did it!  We actually, honest to the gods, did it.  Through terror and anxiety, with the help of friends and family…we packed a few boxes that my father-in-law is going to send to us, but the rest of the household stuff either went to someone else’s house, to the Fauquier County thrift store, or into the trash.  I don’t even want to think of the dollar value of the things that were straight out trashed.  It’s over and done with, I don’t know what exactly it was and I won’t ever see it again, so no need to think about it or worry over it.  I didn’t even have to clean the house, as F-i-law also hired someone to help us who managed to clean it up for me.

Things were so off schedule that we went to the airport in the clothes we had been wearing for about 3 days as we had packed and pitched and so on–there was no time to shower or put on traveling clothes.  Oh well.  We got to the airport and through TSA (might I suggest going in a a wheelchair, as you move to the head of the line?) and were at the gate with about 30 minutes to spare before the scheduled loading time.  You note that I said “SCHEDULED” loading time.  The plane was delayed 3 hours.  So we sat and tried to decompress from the high pressures of the month of preparation for that moment.

And as another note, I will never fly anything but First Class again.  Should I ever fly anywhere again.  Before we’re even off the ground, the First Class stewardesses are handing out drinks–and I mean DRINKS.  We had gin and tonics.  Once we were off the ground, it was more drinks, warmed mixed nuts and then dinner.  (Very nice, reasonably good food)  Then more drinks if you wanted and the TV was free, so we could watch movies or whatever.  Mr. Technology watched the live feed of our flight, sort of like watching the GPS when you’re driving.

We arrived in Sacramento to find the nice young men with the wheelchairs at the airplane DOOR.  They took us through the terminal, got our bags and we loaded up into the hotel shuttle.  Off to the hotel, which was very nice, thanks to our friend E who had provided it for us.  SLEEP, blessed sleep.  Up and out in the morning, back over to the airport to pick up the rental car and up the state we drove.

Got to Eureka just in time for my beloved to keep his promise: we stood on the beach and watched the sun set into the ocean.  It was cold and windy, so no toesies in the water.  And mostly, I just stood there and cried.  If I had actually been able to put my toes in the water, I think the rest of me would have followed.  Then off to dinner at the Cambodian place I had found during my research; very good food, interesting combination of Thai, Cambodian and Vietnamese.

And then began our learning about Eureka.  When I had been on Craig’s List, looking at cars and rentals, it was before the plague of locusts had arrived, in the form of the HSU students, who had taken every possible rental and all the cheap (but drive-able) cars.  It took longer than we had hoped (and budgeted for) to find a place to live–but here we are, actually about 4 miles south of Eureka, in Fields Landing.  We had to settle for an upstairs apartment–but we have also discovered that the stairs here are built lower in rise–about 4-5 inches–instead of the 7 inches in VA.  So there’s more of them, but you don’t have to do a high step to climb them.

So…you come up the stairs, and turn to the right to our apartment.  You walk into the kitchen (which has brand new stove and refrigerator) and then it’s a right hand turn through what is ostensibly the living room, but that is our bedroom, because it’s then another right hand turn into the largest room of the apartment, which we are using as living space.  The bathroom is off of this room, with only a walk-in shower, no tub.  Oh well.  The room itself has two windows, which face west–and if I look carefully, I can see the bay.  So water is only about 3 blocks away.

The apartment has been just redone, repainted and repaired—and like I said, new appliances.  We have a year’s lease but will then go month to month.  So we have time to look around and find a ground floor place, maybe a house even.  The stove is gas, as is the heat.  People have been telling us that sometimes the PG&E (gas and electric combined utility) bill is “high”–as much as $50 or $60 dollars per month.  We fall out laughing, since we were paying about an average of $180 per month.  I think we can handle this.

We explored the natural food store I had found online–it’s okay, a bit disappointing and not quite what I had hoped–but nearby is the North Coast Co-op and I suspect that we will do the majority of our shopping there.  We always have Costco–and this one nearly specializes in organic foods, because of the high demand for them here.

We’ve done our bit to get into the various helpful systems here–been to Social Services, got me updated in the VA health system and talked to their extra services (none of which we are eligible for as long as my LTD will hold out).  We have also had to go to Verizon for our phones since our (old) Sprint phones had exactly 0% coverage in the new place.  Verizon has a new tower on the hill just behind our apartment.

Since we didn’t bring furniture, we’re having to add it as we can.  Thanks to the generosity of friends and family, we were able to buy the actual bed we wanted instead of the interim we had planned–and so we’re sleeping great.  We bought some fold-down tables and got me a folding chair from Costco–and figure that this will work for the long term as well.

We met the neighbors from the house next door–seems they got a piece of mail for us, and coincidences abound when they told us that they used to live in this apartment.  They have been very informative and friendly, so we’ve already got someone to hang out with!  They have given us a chair that they were getting rid of that so Beloved doesn’t have to sit on a suitcase or lay on the bed to use his computer.

We’ve also met the man who lives in the apartment across the hall–a student at the College of the Redwoods, but an older man.  He’s in the middle of finals week, so we’re only catching glimpses of him for now.

Everyone here is kind, polite and as helpful as they can be.  No matter if it’s someone on the phone, at the store, or in a restaurant, even just on the street.  There is definitely a slower pace of life here–and based on the people we’ve seen, this is the Bohemian/tie-dye capital of the US.  Lots of dreadlocks, even (or especially) on the white people.  Lots of flannel pajama bottoms instead of pants (on the college students, I think).

The town itself is like stepping back into the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s.  Victorian homes, Craftsman style, Cape Cods…and things that look like the slave runs on plantations–all in the same block.  And there’s no “good” part of town versus a “bad” part of town.  It all sort of runs together.  And there’s a lot of dichotomy here: tech savvy people, listening to iPods and using tablets, but most restaurants do not have a website or online menu.  And the working people (waiters/waitresses, store clerks, etc) wear…almost anything, a lot of gauged ears and piercings and tattoos–but are some of the most professional people I’ve met.  And they are more than willing to go the extra steps to get you what you want, including ordering items for the store that doesn’t currently carry that thing.

The kindness and generosity to the veteran population is overwhelming to me.  I am not used to it, but once people find out that I am a vet, we get discounts and stuff that I wouldn’t have thought of asking for.  Apparently there’s a sufficient population of veterans that it’s just a matter of habit here in Eureka.

I told people before we moved that if it only turned out to be 50% of as wonderful as we hoped, it would still be better than staying in VA.  Well, that’s turning out to be quite true.  There are some down sides.

The un-considered and un-planned delay in finding housing really ate into our budget.  Our last major thing is a car, and we may have to do the “$199 down, and a million dollars a month for the rest of your life” plan to get one.  Ok, not quite that bad, but you know what I mean.  And we MUST have a car, and one that my dear Beloved will both fit into and be comfortable driving.  We are hoping for a van, fingers crossed.

As we drive around, and as we talk to more locals, we are discovering just how incredibly economically depressed this area is.  The jobless rate was not something I factored in; we aren’t going to need/have a job, so I didn’t really look at the unemployment rate.  And there are jobs to be had, but there is a large and visible homeless population.  (I’m willing to bet that it’s really no bigger in relation to the general population than in VA, only that in VA, we sneer at them and either render them invisible because we will not see them, or we shame them into trying to appear as “normal” as possible.  That’s not done here.)  There is an ongoing fight against meth and meth makers / dealers / users.  In fact, the house on the corner across from us is boarded up–used to be a meth house, and very active all the time.  BUT they got them out of here.  Oh, I know, to go somewhere else, but at least it’s not on my front doorstep now.

Another sign of the general “poorness” of the area is all the thrift stores–and there are a lot of them.  The “stylish” ones are up near the college (HSU) and get their stuff from the kids when they leave, so we’ve already been told that the time to hit those is just before the start of the semester, when they are full and ready for the students to descend, or just after the end of the term, when the students dump all the stuff they’re not taking with them.  We had not realized just how much of an impact that college has on all of the little towns around it–and HSU is actually about 5 miles north of Eureka, in Arcata.

Most of the restaurants are small, family run businesses.  So far, we’ve had some really good meals, only one was “eh” and only one was “never going back”–and that one was for a weird reason–the food was fresh, well cooked and beautifully presented, but…all the sauces came out of a bottle.  And for Chinese food?  That’s a sin.  We’ve already found a better one, with homemade sauces that are off the hook.  There are chain restaurants–mostly fast food, but there is an Appleby’s in town.

Eureka actually has TWO malls; there is a KMart, WalMart and a Target.  I, however, have already picked out about 27 things I want from the fair trade section (non-food items) in the Co-op.  Between Costco and the Co-op, I think I can manage most of our shopping.  Clothes…probably from online, until I am able to actually take the time to wander through the thrift stores and find all the Bohemian clothes I’ve wanted for years and couldn’t get…either because work wouldn’t let me or because I was used to was married to a very conservative, conventional man who would not have liked it.  The only thing Beloved has said is that he literally cannot stand tie-dye as it gives him a headache.  Patterns and patchwork don’t, so…it’s the gypsy life for me.

It’s interesting to see just how easy it is to live without all that stuff we used to have.  And that the desire to replace it has not surfaced.  There are some things we will need to get–cleaning products and the tools to use them (dust mop, etc).  We will be replacing the convection oven with a (slightly bigger and better) one because we used that a lot.  And we want a juicer, to get more of our vegetables in as close to nature as we can instead of taking a lot of supplements.  But generally, we aren’t going to buy a lot of “stuff”–and I don’t think either of us misses it.

Having to bring it up a flight of stairs adds another item on the checklist of “how necessary is this” so we can, I hope, live in the minimalist way we wanted when we chose to move and not return to being a candidate for “Hoarders”.  We look forward to spending time OUT of the house, which we were not doing in VA.  There’s a lot going on here: the beach, the coffee houses, and yes, the gaming.  We’ve been to North Coast Roleplaying and talked to the owner–who indicated a LARGE community of tabletop game players, including Pathfinders and ShadowRun.

So from this particular vantage point, I would say that we were right to move.  It has had unexpected events, both good and bad, as all things do.  Will it all be sunshine and rainbows?  I doubt it.  Will it be better than where we were, both physically and mentally?  Absolutely.  And we have already gone to one service at the local UU fellowship–and were completely overwhelmed by them.  They made a point of telling us way more than I can absorb about activities–in fact, we’re eating lunch with them at their after service “Soup and Salad” (although more soup because it’s a bit chilly) lunch that benefits a local charity tomorrow.  And we get to “sit at the captain’s table” which was a specific invitation to sit with the (new) minister.

Physically, we hope that the organic food and cleaner environment will help, as well as any benefits we might find from medicinal pot (still working on that one).  Mentally, the pace of life is slower, the worries and anxieties of life exist but not at the heightened levels of living near DC and we can handle the more gradual increase in costs of living as it is so much lower to begin with.  Spiritually, I have the ocean in front of me and Beloved needs only to turn to look behind us to see the mountains; these two areas are the most important ones to us individually and to find them in such close proximity that we are both able to be near what matters to us is life-saving and easing to the mind and spirit.  Having HUUF as sacred space only adds to that.  We are also able to be more open about our paths as there is not the ummmm abundant Christian/fundamental/Bible-thumping/ everyone else is wrong population as there was in VA.

Do we miss our families and friends from back East?  Of course, and that’s why the gods invented the Interwebs, Skype and cell phones.  And, in this case, my blog.  Our door is always open to those who want to come see us; there is always room around my table to feed anyone who shows up.  Will this save OUR lives, keep us sane (help maintain what little sanity we actually have, haha) and give us a better way of life that we can afford on a very fixed income?  ABSOLUTELY.

It’s not all that I (or we) thought it would be.  It’s more and it’s less.  Same as the rest of real life.

Namaste!

The History of Fibromyalgia, for Kitty: A One Woman Saga

Looking back over the years and trying to pinpoint where the fibromyalgia began takes me back all the way to high school.  I had Osgood Schlatter’s disease , where the bones in the legs grow at different rates and it hurts like hell.  I’d have been about 15 years old.  My mother said that I was more accurate than the local meteorologists, always knowing when the weather was changing.  Physical exertion (re: PE class) just made the knees worse so I got a doctor’s note excusing me from the class for the last two years of high school.

I enlisted in the USAF and will confess here and now that I NEVER met the physical tests, never ran the mile and a half, barely did the sit ups.  I was allowed to slide, so I did all four years of my enlistment…and there was pain.  When I look back over all those years, all that time between now and then, it seems like there has always been pain.

At least it wasn’t as debilitating as it is now.  I received my honorable discharge and went to work at the local department store.  The standing tired me out and made me hurt…so that didn’t last very long.  Then I was doing home help for the elderly.  Stopped doing that to have a baby…my son was born in 86 and I became a stay at home mom.  I didn’t realize it, but I was already making accommodations even then–do some of the dishes, sit down for a while.  Vacuum a couple of rooms, take a break.  Take some aspirin when it hurt too much, still predicted the weather better than the news.

We moved to Germany in 87.  My (then) husband was looking forward to a “real” winter after 7 years in the Southwest US.  Joke was on him; Germany  had 4 of the mildest winters on record the 4 years we were there.  But there was still cold and I’d stiffen up and hurt.  I was also having cramps with my period, which I ascribed to having had a child, since I had not had that particular issue prior to childbirth.  We lived on the 4th floor and that was a serious climb for me.  I also did not drive (we only had one vehicle) but I could walk to the commissary or the local grocery store, pushing the stroller AND pulling the grocery cart.  There was a crosswalk over the street between the stores and our apartment and I’m not sure how I managed to get one, let alone two, wheeled and heavy carts up the first 3 flights of steps and then down the remaining 3 flights.  But I did, and always in carefully broken down parts, with a lot of rest.

I was told (and sort of believed) that I was merely out of shape, that I needed to do MORE, instead of resting so much.  But there was pain, increasing amounts of it, which led to increasing amounts of OTC pain killers.

My daughter was born in 88.  My poor son, just barely 2 years old, learned how to walk up ALL those steps we had because I simply could not carry him.  And my cleaning regimen slowed down as I would work a little, rest a little.  I had no idea that’s what was going on at that time, but looking back…well, hindsight is always 20/20.

We moved back to the States in 91.  We ended up in Rochester, NY, living 3 miles from Lake Ontario.  The three foulest, most obscene words in the human language are “lake effect snow”.  We got an average of 99 inches EACH year.  There was a sidewalk PLOW.  (Two words that should not go together: sidewalk and plow)  The weather was cold and when it wasn’t cold, it was cloudy.  Rochester only gets about 100 days of sunshine a year.  And I not only continued to be an excellent barometer, I improved at it.

I went to a respected rheumatologist, with the complaint that the pain exceeded aspirin and hot baths.  He did blood tests, manipulated my knee caps (to the point where I could hardly walk when he was done) and his end results?  His professional diagnosis?  That I had pain in my knees and should take aspirins and hot baths.  WTF?????

The pain increased and was seldom not present.  My primary care physician pointed me to naproxen sodium so that I wasn’t taking the massive amounts of aspirin I had attained.  My housecleaning ratios changed to being more rest than work, so it took longer to clean house.  I also added GERD (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease) to my increasing medical folder.  I think this is the point where the migraines began to occur.  Not often, but completely debilitating when they did show up.

I went back to work in 96-97.  I became a nursing aide, helping take care of the little old people in a nursing home.  The work itself was rewarding, but very physical–so more Alleve (Naproxen Sodium) more often became standard.  Then I  moved to VA in 2000.  The first year and a half are pretty much a blur for me, with some specific memories.  I moved in with a friend and her significant other–and a houseful of children: hers, his, and eventually, mine.  Chaos and generally not a good scene led to my moving out (with my children of course) in the spring of 2002.  I was back to being a nursing aide after a stint in factory work (where I walked about 5 miles a night; if there was ever a time when I was “fit”, I think this would have been it–and there was still pain).

Started back to school to learn computer stuff, so for a while there it was a 40-45 hour work week, and class 12 hours a week, 4 hours x 3 nights.  And of course, still having teenagers in the house to care for.  Changed jobs from nursing to being a CSR in a call center.  I have no idea how I managed to do that for almost 2 years.  Or however long it was…like I said, no real clear memory of that time.

Got a job in DC, then moved to their office in Tyson’s, then back to DC and finally did the math and determined a 13 hour day was beyond my ability or desire to do…went back to working in the call center.

The eternal pain followed me everywhere, and began to extend beyond my knees, hips and legs.  I got wrist splints to support my hands because they began to hurt.  I remember sitting and talking with a friend when this awful lightning of pain went down my leg (my first noted experience with neuropathy, although not my last).  IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) decided to show up during that time as well–it’s hard to run for the bathroom when your legs are stiff and hurt, but if you don’t….ewwwww.  I began to have periods of what I referred to as “riding the rollercoaster”, where everything would spin around me.  I was very grateful that it did not occur when I was driving.

I began to get clumsy and forgetful.  And any exertion required a period of resting.  And I didn’t really notice it, or keep track of it because it was insidious, slow and creeping into my life.  And always, always, the pain.  More pain.  I was up to taking about 6-8 Alleve a day (and all the doctors who are reading this are cringing).

And somewhere in here, I met my Beloved.  And for the first time in my life, I had someone who was paying attention to my health, who observed the various episodes and identified that there was a problem.  He insisted I see his doctor…who made the diagnosis of fibromyalgia.  And we began various drug therapies, trying to find the one that would let me live a life free of pain.

My first husband was healthy and did not have the medical knowledge or awareness that my Beloved has because of his own health issues.  So my first husband did not see my problems as anything more than a lack of fitness or my own laziness.  My children grew up with me like that, so they didn’t see the gradual decrease and like their father, didn’t have the medical knowledge to point out that I was getting worse.

Until I met my Beloved (aka “The Last Husband”), I HAD to keep going, had to keep on doing the things I had been doing, regardless of the cost of it to my health.  As he says, I was just doing the “keep on swimming, keep on swimming, swimming, swimming”…and when I was finally with him, I could stop swimming and come out on the beach, where my health (or lack thereof) was glaringly apparent.  I had someone I could lean on and rest, instead of being the one responsible for everyone else and unable to “stop swimming”.

And so it looked like I went from being healthy to being this wreck that I currently am…but that’s not true.  I have had a steady and persistent decline for the past 30 years (or more).  It was slow at first, but by the time both kids had left home, it was increasing in speed and severity.  And since I didn’t have to keep making the effort to seem healthy, in these past 3 years, I have watched it go fast enough that I hope we’ve hit rock bottom.  I mean, I can hardly move.  My house is filthy because I can’t clean it.  Going out to run simple errands requires a mustering of strength and effort which frequently leaves me so exhausted that I nap immediately upon return home.  I have problems swallowing sometimes–and that freaks me out.  And I get leg twitches that make a dog’s dreams look like nothing.  In fact, I get a sort of palsy or shaking all over, almost like a seizure and that makes me frantic.  Fortunately that doesn’t happen all that often.

I am currently on 3 pain meds: 10 mg Vicodin, tramadol, and neurontin; I take Lyrica and Cymbalta specifically for the fibro.  I take Excedrin for the headaches and I can add Alleve if the general pain levels are bad enough to give it one more thing to deal with pain.  I sleep a lot.  We are going to the pool when the weather permits, and that makes a difference for both of us.  Beloved is regaining muscle tone and me, I’m floating in a zero gravity pool that removes all the pain pressure points and is the least painful I ever am.  I’d spend all day in the pool if I could.  A little hard to go places, but hey….it helps with the pain!

Organic, chemical-free food seems to help.  The homemade, chemical-free cleaning products seem to help.  We are both hoping that our move to Eureka will indeed be the salvation we are hoping for.  If not, at least I can add marijuana to my pain regimen.  I already have this choice: no pills and pain, inability to do anything OR take my pills which make me higher than a kite and still have no ability to do anything…but at least it doesn’t hurt so bad.

There is no way to describe the pain a person with fibromyalgia feels.  Only someone else with it can know and understand.  It is a constant companion, from a mild level up to “just kill me now because I’ll feel better dead” level.  It never goes away, it never stops letting you know that it’s there, it interferes with everything–not just the bad stuff, but it’s there during what’s supposed to be a good time.  It colors everything you do, everything you plan.  Even with medication, you KNOW it will come back and sometimes, hurt all the more for having been subdued with that medication.  It destroys your life; it affects every relationship you have and might have.  It makes you feel ashamed for not being able to do things that you need to, or want to.

I think every person with fibro should get this as a bumper sticker:  “When I die, I’m going to Heaven because I’ve already had Fibromyalgia”.

So here I am, and there we are.  It is what it is, but what it is…is hard to explain meaningfully to another person.  I have tried.  I hope it’s a start to you understanding what it’s like.

Namaste!

UPDATE:

Went to the VA doctor, who took me off the Vicodin because I’m so obviously an addict who is trying to get enough to sell it on the street corner.  And he tripled the nuerontin, removed me from the Rytalin and while I have a script for Cymbalta, I can’t afford it, so…I tapered and have come completely off of it.  I am still on Clonipine for anxiety and Lisinapril and Lasix for high blood pressure and swelling in my feet and legs.  I feel more alert but am more clumsy; helluva trade off.  Go to see the VA head shrinker in August and the Rheumatologist in September.  Back to the PCP in October, when I can kiss him good bye, since I already have the address for the VA in Eureka.  Oh, and I FINALLY got my LTD claim approved and some money coming in, thank the Maker!

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-changes, Part the Second

I am chagrined to have to report that the effort of making our own household cleaners, soaps and such…is totally worth the effort.  I am mildly pissed that I could have been doing this for years, saving up enough money to buy that purple Lamborghini I saw.  I am also more annoyed that I am actually improving, at least mentally, without all the chemicals floating through the atmosphere of my home.  So what have I implemented?

I made the laundry soap.  Easy, and even a half recipe is going to last us a long time, so it’s not something I’ll have to do often.  The clothes feel softer, there’s no static cling even without using dryer sheets and I suspect that the clothes themselves will last longer if they’re not being cleaned with sawdust and chemicals.  Towels washed in this soap are more absorbent and soft without the weird waxy feel of dryer sheets.  Stain removal is the one thing we still need to learn, but other than that, this one gets a big check mark and a commitment to continue doing it.

I made the kitchen cleaner.  Okay, it’s equal parts white vinegar and water.  Not a lot of mixing, just pour them into the spray bottle.  I use it for every surface and it gets stuff clean.  Might take a little elbow grease, but all in all, very easy to use and it does not actually leave things smelling like salad dressing–in fact, it removes all odors.  Another check mark, another thing I can continue to do.

I made dishwasher soap.  I also use white vinegar as the rinse aid.  Other than the fact that my dishwasher is old and doesn’t get things clean the way it should, the products themselves work as advertised–and the amount needed for the powder is only a tablespoon, which doesn’t even fill the soap dispenser in the machine.  ANOTHER check mark, another item I will keep making.

Shampoo.  Ummmmmm.  Not so successful with this one, still working it out.  It may take time while my hair adjusts to actually making the oil it’s supposed to, instead of madly trying to replace what all the store-bought hair products strip off.  So my hair is soft, very soft, but not so shiny.  Work in progress and when I find the correct recipe or organic product (because right now, I’m washing with Dr. Bonner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Peppermint Liquid Castile Soap), I’ll let you know.

Body soap.  Bought a bar of organic sandalwood for me…and Beloved has been using it, to discover that for whatever reason, he doesn’t take as long to dry off with this soap as his soap for 2000 parts.  (no brand names, LOL)  When this particular bar of soap is gone, we have a three milk (including goat) soap bar that we bought at the Farmer’s Market to use next.  I will probably never make our bathing soap, there’s just too many options for organic, homemade out there.

(Side note: the use of castile soap to wash my dishes and my hair has had a most unexpected side effect: all of my jewelry sparkles like it was just cleaned at the store.  I haven’t scrubbed it or done anything other than get it wet (and soapy) while washing other things.  Just saying)

So it was worth the extremely lower cost of stocking up on the various supplies to make our household cleaners and beauty products and I will continue to make them because frankly, it’s EASY to make them.  And I know what’s in them and don’t have to worry about chemicals and such.

Other changes…we went to the Warrenton Farmer’s Market yesterday.  Our friend, Todd (chef at Black Bear Bistro) met us there and introduced us around, showed us which places to shop at particularly and then pointed out the places we will probably want to shop–he has to buy in bulk, so prefers to get most of his produce from a man who has less types of items but more of each item.  We came home with produce, ohmydeargods, bread and meat.  The prices are VERY comparable to Wegman’s or Trader Joe’s–and it’s local and organic, which you know means that it wins in the choosing game.

I had a tomato and basil sandwich on some of the bread we bought as my final meal last night.  I can’t begin to tell you how absolutely amazing and terrific it was.  I’m looking forward to my fried green tomatoes!  We bought stuff for juicing which will probably make our feeble attempts last week look sick… Our plan is to go each week, at least through Thanksgiving, when it closes–and hopefully, we can limit ourselves a little better than we did this week.  There’s a certain impetus to actually eating it all when you’ve paid dear enough for it, as well as knowing that it’s fresh, organic and just plain awesome.  Eating the tomatoes won’t be a problem for me…I bought red (and ripe) ones, a yellow one and the aforementioned green ones.  Got carrots, kale, banana peppers, sweet bell peppers (in several colors), cucumbers, and the basil.  Didn’t get apples as we have a peck at home, but probably will in a  couple of weeks since they keep in the fridge pretty well.  Did get some pork sausage links which we’ll use as protein adjuncts to some eggs for first or second meal (first meal is really supposed to be juice and protein powder).

Taking it easy this morning as I am a speaker at the International Day of Prayer for Peace in Manassas this afternoon.  Made three kinds of hummus–one for us and two to take–to share in the after service potluck.  Have carrots and baby pita pockets for dipping.  Thinking about wearing the new dress I got–went to the thrift store on Wednesday, when everything is 25% off, to get clothes that more accurately reflect my current situation.  Got yoga pants and tank tops, another light jacket similar to the ones I wear, and this pretty green and white dress.  The parameters were that the clothes be comfortable, able to worn around the house (which means showering and getting dressed, every day!) but still able to go out in public in them (as opposed to my robe or pjs that I’ve been wearing).  I think I succeeded.

I still ache, am having pains as usual–it’s weird, my brain feels well, almost normal (haha) but even though I know I’d like to be doing things, my body is still not up to it.  But the mental clarity is welcome.  Endurance will come eventually.  I am already more active than I was a month ago.  Oh I still have my “sit and do nothing” days because I’m very responsive to the barometric pressure changes…but hopefully this is a precursor to having something resembling a life again.

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!

 

 

The Long and Winding Road….

 

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted and I’d like to bring you up to date on life in general.

 

I last posted a (fairly) long blog about my dad but it’s been too long since I’ve talked to my parents.  Guess that’s on my “to do” list.  Along with a bunch of other things.  Sigh.  The weather has been playing havoc with my fibro, so it’s not been a particularly active month–along with it being too damned hot to go to the pool.

So Beloved and I have been doing our thing on the computer, taking lots of naps and only going out when we must–for food, to deposit the disability check in the bank and to see doctors.  We are filling out the forms for permanent disability and will go to the lawyer’s office for her clerk to help us file them electronically and start that process.  They really aren’t that horrific to fill out, just lots of pages for doctor information–and that’s the hardest part, finding all the contact info for this MD or that.

We did have a bright spot in this month–we spent last weekend up in Reston, with his best friend (and his girlfriend). Nice to be out of the house and looking at someone else’s 4 walls.  Had lots of good food, good wine, played some interesting (European) table games and talked, talked, talked.  Nothing outrageous, but lots of fun.  Between his work schedule and our lack of gas money, we don’t get to see them often enough.  So 36 hours of togetherness was a good thing.  Funny part about it was that we packed like we were going on safari…took our laptops, took our cpap breathing machines, took food to share…took our pillows and blankies, too, LOL.

Drove down to Fishersville (a 2 hour trip, each direction) yesterday only to find out that the doctor was having surgery (nothing major) and Beloved’s appointment had been cancelled–but they hadn’t been able to reach us.  Oops!  That’s what we get for giving them the landline and then turning off the ringer.  It was a nice ride.  Waste of gas, but a nice ride.  So we’ll be going back down there next week to make up for the miss.

Got to talk to my children recently, which is always a good thing.  When my daughter-in-love calls me, I can hear the Froggy in the background.  He is a most emphatic speaker!  And she says he’s already telling her “nah” (no) about things.  He’s sitting up on his own, holds his own bottle and can feed himself his finger foods–and is learning the sign language signs for drinking and eating (and needing a diaper change).  He also indicates when he is sleepy and wants a nap.  Being able to communicate meaningfully with your child removes a great deal of the frustration of new parenting.  And since babies CAN sign earlier then they can speak, this is a good way to “talk” with them.  I know it helps her that he is picking up on this fast–and has a laid-back temperament, since she has to do so much of it by herself, with Dad being gone to work.  (And I got to talk to *him* online one evening, just by chance.)

I also got to talk to my Lizard, and while we’re talking, EG comes by and Lizard asks her if she wants to say hi to Grandmom.  And I got to hear this little voice very clearly say, “Hi Grandmom”.  First time!  Yes, it made me tear up.  Her mother says that she is adding exponentially to her vocabulary and is stringing words together into sentences.  Hoping they can come see me soon.  I thought my children grew fast…my grandchildren are growing almost faster, it seems.  Or is it just that time moves faster on the downhill side?

I find myself getting more and more embroiled in political things.  Me, the most un-political person you’d ever meet.  How bad must it be, if I am willing to open my mouth about political stuff like the upcoming Presidential election?  And the current war on women?  (And if you think there isn’t a war on women, you haven’t been paying attention.)  And then there’s the social justice stuff, like boycotting Chik-Fil-A because they fund anti-gay groups and are against gay marriage.  If I were patient enough, I’d just wait until my grandchildren take over the world, but frankly, we need change now.  Women are being stripped of rights (and by association, power) and are headed back to being second class citizens…along with the gays, the blacks, the “others” that aren’t rich old white men.  The wealth in this country is so severely out of balance as to who has it and who doesn’t that we are headed for our own version of the French Revolution…history does repeat itself, especially if we will not learn from it.

The current Tea Party claims about this being a Christian country particularly offends me.  They are not apparently aware of just how many people, how many AMERICAN citizens are NOT Christian at all–including quite a few of the Founding Fathers, that they keep quoting as if they had been.  Learn your history,  stupid.  And “not Christian” does not mean “bad, immoral, evil”.  There is a reason we need to keep religion out of bed with politics–they just don’t make a good pair.  And when you KNOW that you are right, that you have the ONLY right way, there is no way to compromise with you about anything–and if that includes laws (like anti-abortion, transvaginal ultrasounds, no birth control, etc)….it just needs to stop.

Sorry, I’ll get down off my soapbox now.  For me personally, there is still a certain level of pain–and the weather just makes it go crazy.  I have been taking more pain pills, but on the other hand,  I feel like I’ve been a little more active, so maybe this is an improvement.  I have a website that I am transferring over to WordPress (but still hosting on my server) so that I can update the pages easier.  It’s a little bit at a time sort of work, to get the current content moved over.  Thank the gods for cut and paste!

So nothing major new, no real disasters to have to report.  Our friend who was in Europe most of the month (post-graduation trip) is home and coming today to spend this weekend with us, which will be fun.  Been a while since we’ve seen her and she brings a fresh energy into the house.  Who knows, we might even get some more house arranging done with her here to help?!

That’s about it for now…if I think of something else to post, I’ll try not to let it go more than a week!  Keep cool and do some fun summer thing.