Sunday, November 30, 2008

The End of NaBloPoMo

Well, there were days I didn't think I'd make it but YAY! I made it all the way through 30 days of posting daily.

I know it wasn't always fascinating reading, and I'm happy that it's over. But it's definitely a sense of accomplishment to know that I could do it.

Meanwhile, a small update on my latest medical crisis.

We decided not to go to urgent care today because by afternoon, I was walking (painfully) without crutches. So, we'll see if it keeps on the mend, and I'll definitely see my internist on Thursday to discuss this as well as my ongoing issues.

I also had a mild reaction to the tetanus shot they gave me in the ER, but the swelling seems to have stopped growing finally. (The red, hot lump stopped growing at about the size of of an apricot or small peach.)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Knee ...

The good news is that my ankle is doing much better. It still hurts if I point my toes or rotate my ankle, but not when I put weight on it.

The problem, however, is my knee. It has mellowed in that it isn't excruciating when I keep it elevated. That's an improvement.

Unfortunately, as soon as I get upright, and more so when I put my weight on it, it hurts like hell.


Scott says I probably should go back to the ER or an urgent care tomorrow, or I can wait and see my internist asap next week. I'm leaning toward urgent care tomorrow, at least to rule out something major. And I've got an appointment scheduled already with my internist on Thursday, so I'll have follow-up no matter what.

Meanwhile, I'm so grateful that Scott and Ellie cut their Thanksgiving weekend plans short and came home this afternoon.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Next Day

I can't figure out why I'm having such a hard time with my knee/ankle/leg after yesterday's fall. It seems like it shouldn't have been such a big deal, but it's been pretty challenging today.

So much so that I asked Scott to cut the holiday weekend short and come home Saturday instead of Sunday. I feel bad about that, but I'm really having trouble managing on my own.

I never even made it out to get the newspaper this morning or the mail this afternoon.

It doesn't help that every time I move, the wound on my knee opens and starts bleeding again. :(

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Remembering To Be Thankful

I've spent a big chunk of today having a little pity party for myself.

You see, once again, fate has shown me that I shouldn't bother to make plans because they just don't seem to ever come true.

It could be a lot worse, and I'm grateful that it isn't. But it's just hard sometimes.

My husband and I decided that four days of family time would probably be too much for me, so I was juggling orphan invitations for Thanksgiving dinner (I have generous friends) and sending him and Ellie off to spend the holiday with the grandparents.

I walked them out the to minivan, and strapped Ellie into her seat for the first time in forever. There's a DVD player in the van, and I went to walk around the back of the van to insert Tinkerbell for Ellie.

And then I fell. I was wearing fuzzy slippers, not shoes with decent treads, and the driveway was just a little bit slick.

I screamed so loud that I was surprised no neighbors came out to see what was going on. My right leg twisted and bent underneath me as I fell.

I was afraid I broke something. I could barely wiggle my toes. The slightest movement sent massive shooting pains between my knee (which had all the skin scraped off it) and my toes.

So, new plan. We called Scott's parents to warn them things might change, and headed to the ER.

Thanksgiving morning is a good time to go the ER. Apparently, they get busy late in the day and on the day after Thanksgiving. But there was no one there when we arrived around 9:30 a.m.

So, we went through the usual routine. X-rays, cleaning my wounded knee, bandages at the knee and ankle. Nothing broken, at least not in my ankle where the bulk of my pain was.

But I still couldn't put any weight on it, so we made a couple stops on the way home to find some crutches we could rent/borrow.

Scott got me settled in my recliner, a pillow under my bad leg, made me lunch and then, in the exuberance of my pain meds, I assured him that he and Ellie should go on their road trip -- I'd be fine.

Somehow, I hadn't realized that, if you need crutches, it's really hard to carry anything, like food or drinks, or to bend over to pick things off the floor.

Meanwhile, every time I move, it seems to start my knee bleeding again. I'd like to change the dressing, but while I could get it off, I don't think I could put a new one on. I can't seem to contort much due to pain and stiffness.


I had plans. I had things I hoped to get done, things that would (pleasantly) surprise Scott if I accomplished them.

And now? Well, I'm frustrated beyond belief. My pain levels are way up because, of course, in addition to injuring my leg, I caught myself with my hand so my wrist hurts and I wrenched my neck when I twisted as I fell. And my stomach hurts, for reasons I don't know. Possibly just because I'm upset. I've had a "nervous stomach" since early childhood (although I've read recently that's almost universal in girls -- why don't young boys have as many stress-related stomach aches as girls??)

But it's Thanksgiving, and it's time to try to be thankful.
  • I'm thankful for my husband and daughter, and the rest of our families.
  • I'm grateful that unlike many people in America -- even many with health insurance -- my medical crises and expenses haven't thrown my family into bankruptcy or poverty.
  • I'm thankful for the online support I have found since I began blogging, and the local support I have received from old friends and new.
  • I'm thankful that despite tough economic times, my family is still able to thrive.
  • I'm thankful that there will soon be a new administration in the White House.
OK, I know there's plenty more to be thankful for in my life, but that's all that springs to mind at the moment, when I'm tired and hurting.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Another Virus Hits Us, Just In Time for Thanksgiving ...

Poor Ellie -- she has yet another cold bug. And her poor lips are so horribly chapped, both from overusing Chapstick and from the snot that runs freely down from her nose and into her mouth.

Sorry -- not a pleasant image, I realize. But typical for a preschooler.

I fear that I feel yet another round of ickiness starting too, which would just figure since I have yet again scheduled my testing with the immunologist for Dec. 2. If my lungs are junky, I'll have to cancel for the fourth time.


Hopefully, I'm just being a little paranoid about my little germ passer, and I'll be able to do the testing, get the pneumonia vaccine and then in six weeks, we'll do more tests to find out if I'm as immuno-deficient as I appear to be.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rounding the Final NaBloPoMo Bend ...

Man, I'll be happy when Dec. 1 comes and I can stop posting unless I have something pertinent to say.

OTOH, it's been rather fun, in a way, to try to come up with something to say, other than "Hey, this counts as my post today!"

So one piece of positive news is that I've lost 12 pounds in the past couple months.

Don't worry -- I'm not fading away or anything. I have gained way too much weight in this 18 months of illness (not to mention the over 27 months since I had to quit going to the gym because of my back injury from an auto accident).

But as someone who has watched her weight go up and down, up and down, over the years, it's always pleasant to be surprised when the scale is heading in the right direction.

I'm fairly sure it's my anti-depressant affecting my appetite. But no complaints here. My internist and I chose to try the anti-depressants with weight loss as a side effect before trying the ones that tend to cause weight gain (sometimes significant weight gain). And I got lucky, and Cymbalta worked for me.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Somethings Never Change ...

I have a new friend who moved to Portland over the summer and is still acclimating to the area, so we talk on the phone pretty regularly.

And apparently, we talk pretty frequently on Mondays because for the past two weeks, he has called and asked how I was doing, and I replied something along the lines of, "Well, you know, it's a Monday, and Mondays are never good days."

Which pretty much is true.

Today, he said he needs to stop asking me that question (at least on Mondays), and I had to agree.

So, a little medical update, since I got a call I wasn't expecting from my internist about the blood tests they had drawn on Friday. The biggie is that my thyroid levels have apparently freaked out, and were up to an 8. My endocrinologist likes to keep it somewhere between 1 and 2. Anything over 5 is abnormal. I've had hypothyroidism for at least a decade, so although my meds have needed to be tweaked periodically, I don't think it's been this bad since I started taking medication for it. (I think when I was first tested 10 years ago or so, my initial level was 11.5 and my doc waited six months before putting me on meds in hopes it would regulate itself.)

So she called in a prescription for that for me.

But the odder test result was in my liver function tests, where my ALT level was elevated. Not substantially, but still a bit perplexing. I had some problems with my liver in my youth, so I'm a little paranoid about it, I guess. Essentially, they're going to monitor my liver functions for awhile and see if it's a fluke or if it gets any worse. She said it would be more troubling if the other liver function tests she ran were also elevated.

So it's probably nothing more than yet another red herring in my search for a diagnose, treatment and cure. :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Too Much Today (& What Else Is New?)

Today was the second open house at Catlin Gabel, the school we're applying to for Ellie for next fall.

Last Sunday's open house focused on Catlin's middle and upper schools. Today's open house was all about Catlin's beginning (preschool & kindergarten) and lower schools.

It was amazing, just like last year. The science teacher especially was just incredible, as was the head teacher of the pre-kindergarten class. It's the kind of place that makes me wish I could be a kid again and grow up a second time around -- something I never imagined I would ever think before I discovered Catlin a couple years ago.

But oh, it's a challenge to get through days like this. I'm so worn out that I don't know how many days it will take me to recover.

Is it worth it?

Well, I hope so.

Meanwhile, I need to start whittling down the essays for Ellie's application. I'm up to about 3,000 words (8 pages) and, when I pressed her about maximum length, the director of admissions said, "Six pages is a lot." So now my goal is to get it down to five pages.

(The head of the lower school tried to reassure me not to worry about the length, until I told our first draft was at 8.5 pages, and then she laughed and agreed I needed some editing!)

Time for a couple rounds of my mentor's 10 percent rule, I'm thinking ...

(When Pete M. would edit our enterprise copy -- or any copy, really -- he always stressed that no matter how good the copy was, it would be better if 10 percent of the words were cut. And typically, we did two or three rounds of that. Painful? Always. But almost every time he was right, and the copy was better for being shortened.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

No More Provigil :(

I guess I forgot to mention in my update about yesterday's doctor visit that I can no longer take Provigil. :(

I've had increasing reactions to it, and after my Halloween experience, where I became blotchy red and my skin burned, I spoke to my pharmacist, who agreed it could be a drug reaction and told me not to take it until I spoke to my doctor about it.

Well, I meant to discuss it when I saw my internist a couple weeks ago, but we started talking about our kids and I got distracted and forgot about it until I'd left. So this time I wrote myself a laundry list of what I needed to discuss with her, and the Provigil reaction was at the top.

She agreed that it sounded an awful lot like a drug reaction and agreed with the pharmacist that I probably shouldn't take anymore. Dang it.

Not that it was "The Answer" for me or anything, but it was nice to have a way to get a boost of energy when I really wanted to participate in Ellie's life more actively. (Well, OK, I want that every day, but the Provigil made it possible for me to be more active on important days.)


Meanwhile, I haven't again had the intense vertigo and over-drugged feeling that I had Thursday night. But I have been trying to cut back my dosages of painkillers, which unfortunately meant I had a really lousy day today.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Another Mystery,

Well, once again, I remain a medical mystery.

My internist doesn't really know what caused last night's weird apparent reaction to my pain meds.

She thinks that perhaps I was/am dehydrated and that can affect how the body absorbs the medication.

During my exam today, she noted that my heart rate increased from upper 80s when I reclined to around 100 when I sat up.

I don't know what's up with that, since I drink quite a bit. But my internist says that drinking large amounts of water is actually harmful if it dilutes your sodium levels too much. (And even well before my mystery illness, my sodium levels were always below normal levels, just not dangerously so.) So she recommended I start drinking Pedialyte again -- 8 ounces twice a day.

Meanwhile, she did a bunch of blood work again, and we'll see what, if anything, that shows. She is concerned that perhaps my liver or kidney functions may have changed and that would explain why I reacted strangely to my pain meds.

I just think it was a fluke.

Time will tell.

I forgot to ask about whether there was any reason my nails keep cracking well below the white part of the nail. Just this week, three of my nails broke painfully. Looking online, I found a reference to "onychoschizia,"
commonly known as nail splitting but also known as onychoschisis or lamellar dystrophy, is a condition that causes horizontal splits within the nail plate. Nail splitting is often seen together with onychorrhexis – long-wise (longitudinal) splitting or ridging of the nail plate – and these 2 diseases together are called "brittle nail syndrome."

Of the list of causes, this is the only one that seemed possible, although not optimal: "May occur due to medical problems, including gland (endocrine system) diseases, tuberculosis, Sjögren syndrome, and malnutrition."

Guess I should remember to mention it to my doctor ...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Today's Bit of Excitement

It seemed like a normal day.

I felt like crud. I slept until 1:30 p.m., when I got up reluctantly to my alarm, which I'd set because I needed to leave around 2:30 p.m. for my 3 p.m. acupuncture appointment.

I had sesame Thai noodles for lunch. I left later than I meant to, but that was good because the heavy rain let up to a drizzle and I made it on time anyway.

Acupuncture went well in some respects, although I couldn't tolerate many needles, nor even a few for very long. But I left feeling like I had more energy than when I came in, and that's always nice.

The energy burst didn't even last long enough to get me home. But still. It's better than leaving acupuncture feeling even more drained like I have recently.

I got home, dealt with some email, chatted with my sister and left voicemail for my dad. Somewhere in there, I also took my pain meds, somewhere between 4 and 4:30 p.m., only my second dose of the day since I had forced myself not to take a midday dose in order to feel safe to drive to acupuncture.

By 5 p.m., I was looking at my bottle of pain meds in the kitchen cupboard, wondering if I'd accidentally taken two Klonopin instead since that bottle was next to the oxycodone. Klonopin is an anti-anxiety drug that I haven't taken in a couple weeks and since for the past couple months, I've only taken it on an occasional basis, I do feel drugged when I take it.

But no, those pills are larger than my oxycodone pills, and I'm sure I didn't take Klonopin by accident.

After repeatedly misjudging things, bumping into things, feeling the room move when I turned my head, I tried calling my doctor. Of course, it was just past 5 p.m. then and the phones don't go through (even though the doctors and their assistants are still seeing patients until 5:30 p.m. or later). So I got put through to the advice nurse, who quickly asked if there was anyone who could take me to urgent care. I said my husband would as soon as he got home.

"When is he due home?" she asked.

"Well, 10 minutes ago. But the rain ... "

"It's probably traffic because of the rain," she agreed.

So Scott came home to find me sitting in our minivan with the side door open, and we transferred Ellie to the van and went to urgent care, where a doctor confirmed I wasn't about die of an overdose or a drug reaction.

His theory? Well, it might just be the oxycodone I took, which can cause the symptoms I had, although that seemed doubtful even to him since I took the same dose I've been taking for months without feeling like that.

I checked out normal except for a rapid heart rate (118) and a "suspicious" throat. The doc said his best guess was I am coming down with a virus and the early symptoms just hit coincidentally at the same time my pain meds kicked in.

Who knows?

I could have done without the extra excitement tonight. And the theory that I'm coming down with yet another virus when I'm barely over the last one.

I see my internist late tomorrow (Friday) afternoon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nothing To Say, So Here's Some Humor ...

The joys of NaBloPoMo are such that it means I need to post daily even when I don't really have much to say. So here's what's probably an old joke but it was new to me when I got it.

No offense intended to any New Jersians of Italian descent -- if it helps any, this was sent to me by a New Jersey native of Italian descent. :)


An old Italian lived alone in New Jersey .

He wanted to plant his annual tomato garden, but it was very difficult work, as the ground was hard. His only son, Vincent, who used to help him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament:

Dear Vincent,
I am feeling pretty sad, because it looks like I won't be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I'm just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you were here my troubles would be over.
I know you would be happy to dig the plot for me, like in the old days.

Love, Papa

A few days later he received a letter from his son.

Dear Pop,
Don't dig up that garden.
That's where the bodies are buried.

Love, Vinnie


At 4 a.m. the next morning, FBI agents and local police arrived and dug up the entire area without finding any bodies.
They apologized to the old man and left.
Later,that same day, the old man received a telegram from his son.

Dear Pop,
Go ahead and plant the tomatoes now.
That's the best I could do
under the circumstances.

Love you, Vinnie


Happy Wednesday :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

One Benefit of a Sour Economy

My daughter's birthday is on the winter solstice (Dec. 21), which puts it entirely too close to Christmas, even though we don't celebrate it. People are just too busy around Christmas and New Year's to attend a birthday party.

So for Ellie's first three birthdays, we moved her party to January and celebrated it about a month late, and we are planning to do so this year too.

Ellie has been to several parties at a local spot that offers kids a bunch of inflatables to bounce and climb on, and she has been very clear that she wants to have her birthday party at Pump It Up too.

It's a big change from the messy art parties she has had for the past three years, but what the heck, right?

So I was trying to figure out the best day/time and realized that perhaps scheduling it for MLK Day would get us the weekday price on a day most people are out of work and school.

I called the business, and while I was on the phone, I realized that the website said the weekend rate is for parties scheduled Fridays through Sundays and holidays. Found my own answer, I thought, but figured it never hurts to ask.

"The economy is so bad that I've been allowing people to book parties at the weekday rate for that day," the woman said.

Woohoo! So, we're going to benefit from the lousy economy even though the weekend price is comparable to what we've been spending on Ellie's birthday parties in prior years anyway. It's win-win all around -- she gets the party she wants, and Pump It Up gets a party booked well ahead of time, and we get to save $50ish.


So to bring this post around to be on topic of my health, the downside to this venue is that I can't participate even if I'm having a good day due to my ongoing back problems stemming from a 2006 accident when I was rear-ended by an uninsured driver.

I found that out the first time I went to Pump It Up, not long after the car accident, just before Ellie turned 2. Back then, she was scared of the inflatables and would only play on one if I went with her. (Scott wasn't with us.) I think I lasted about 20 minutes before I was in way too much pain. :(

The benefit of parties like this is not only are you paying for the venue, but it comes with helpers who keep the party moving. That makes it much easier for someone like me with chronic fatigue and other issues to throw a fun party for my kid. I can't imagine how I'd manage if I tried to host a party for her at our house, even a party for a much smaller group of kids.

Now if I can just find a comfy place to sit and watch during the bouncing part of the party ...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Another Monday ...

(Another post you can blame on NaBloPoMo since I don't have anything to say and wouldn't normally post today if not for needing to post daily ... but hey, we're halfway through the month! Yay!)

A pretty uneventful day since it was a typical Monday and I was exhausted and recovering from the weekend.

The only unusual events:

  1. I fell asleep after waking Scott and Ellie at 5:55 a.m. and didn't join them for breakfast or help Scott get Ellie ready for school. I felt guilty about it when I woke up to the sound of his footsteps on the stairs to the front door as he put the newspaper by the door. (Thanks, sweetie!)
  2. The light by my bed suddenly turned on at 8:30 a.m., startling me. It's been having weird problems -- I'm not sure whether the bulb needs replacing or if it's the wiring in the lamp. It's one of those three-way lamps where it can be turned on low, medium or high brightness. It frequently goes out on me suddenly in the evenings, but this was the first time it turned ON without being touched and surprised me. I just grumbled, turned it off and went back to sleep.
Nothing particularly eventful or really worth mentioning. I felt crappy, but that's nothing new or particularly eventful. :/

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Another Great Essay By Christine Miserandino

I don't read ButYouDon' every day, but so often they just have something resonates.

And this essay was just perfect after an afternoon spent trying to hide my fatigue and pain while appearing interested and engaged during an open house at the private school we hope to send our daughter to.

Don't get me wrong -- it wasn't a hardship to appear interested in everything we saw and all the conversations we had. I was interested, very interested. But I was also afraid that my pain and fatigue might be misinterpreted as boredom or disinterest. And that could easily be an excuse to disregard our application.

After all, Catlin Gabel has at least four applications for every opening. It's not like they would have to look hard to find someone else for the spot we're hoping goes to Ellie.

Adrenaline goes a long way for me in situations like the open house. I'm very engaged in what I'm doing, and I get an energy burst from the excitement I'm feeling. Which is great, until it wears off and I plummet way, way, way down.

Scott was tempted to ask the admissions director a question after we attended the end-of-day admissions and affordability session. But when he ran his question past me, I shrugged it off and told him what I thought the answer was.

But really, asking it (and making a personal contact with the admissions director) would only have been a good thing. At the moment, though, I only knew I had to get to the car before I collapsed in pain and exhaustion.

When we got to the car and I caught my breath, I said something to Scott about horrible I was feeling. "You should let it show," he said. "If we are accepted, you don't want them questioning why you don't get a job to help pay tuition because you didn't seem at all sick at the open house."

That last comment was in response to our finding out that one of their financial aid requirements is that both parents have jobs once the youngest child is in first grade.

I'd love to be healthy enough to hold down a job.

But I'm digressing. Christine's essay on hiding the symptoms of her illness just really resonated with me today. I do it too, sometimes consciously and sometimes subconsciously.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sometimes It Helps To Be Pessimistic ...

The one good thing about being a pessimist is that when things turn out better than you expected, it's a very pleasant surprise.

Today was not remotely as bad as I feared it would be.

Although my headache plagued me well into the night, I was pleasantly surprised to wake up this morning and find it gone. I even felt decently rested for once.

Scott went and got me my new prescription, a generic of Midrin, and then the three of us made a short stop at Toys R Us to buy a gift for the birthday party Ellie attended this afternoon (and I took advantage of the sale to stock up on other gifts for future parties). Then we went to gymnastics, which is the first time in three or four weeks I've felt up to attending. It was good to see Ellie at gymnastics, which she loves, again.

Home for lunch, and to wrap the gift (a teddy bear dressed as Sleeping Beauty for a girl almost as obsessed with princesses as my daughter).

I thought about pushing myself to attend the party, but I was definitely fading and made the decision not to wear myself out since tomorrow's open house at Catlin Gabel is very important to us.

I made the mistake of getting online to check my email and started getting the funny vision (I think they call it auras) and slight nausea that signal a migraine is coming soon, so I took a couple Midrin capsules as prescribed and headed off to bed.


I was hoping yesterday was a one-time fluke and that I wouldn't have any more of these headaches, but I guess they're not gone yet.

Anyway, the meds help some, although not as good as the drug I remember taking way back when -- Norgesic Forte. And it doesn't help that I can't tolerate caffeine these days.

But all in all, after the week I've had, I was happy that today turned out as well as it did. It definitely could have been worse.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Just What I Needed ...

I was diagnosed with migraine headaches by Dr. Diamond of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago circa 1979/80 when I was 12.

They were bad enough then that I missed weeks of school and had tutors come to the house to help me keep up with my classes. Eventually I was able to get back to school, but I had migraines on and off for many years but they eventually tapered off.

I haven't had a migraine in more than a decade, and thought they were gone forever.


Yup. Woke up this morning with a killer headache that got worse with even the slightest movement of my eyes. My vision was off. It had to happen on a rare sunny November day, of course, and I was very light sensitive.

Just what I needed ... another health issue popping up. My internist called in a prescription since the last time I filled a prescription for a migraine pain-killer was sometime around 1996. But of course I couldn't drive to get it and this evening was complicated. So hopefully my husband will find time to get it for me tomorrow ... the earlier the better.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Just Another Typical Day

Just another day that lasted far longer than my energy ...

I gotta say that this every-other-day thing -- with Ellie having Tuesday and Thursday off school this week -- is killing me.

I feel like I can't get enough down time to "recover" between times that she and Scott are home all day.

And I'm looking at a killer weekend too. Ellie has gymnastics Saturday morning, which it looks likely that I will miss yet again, then a birthday party that afternoon that I really wanted to attend. Then on Sunday is an open house at Catlin Gabel, the private school we are applying to for Ellie for next year. (Not that we can afford it. We have a fantasy that we'll receive financial aid, or win the lottery, or something. But after visiting Catlin last year and spending hours on their website looking at the curriculum, we can't help but shoot for the moon when we look at potential schools for our only child.)

I can't miss the open house. It's really important that we meet the admissions folks and show them how interested we are in Catlin. Although it's all moot if I can't find the energy to finish the essay questions we need to turn in ...


I don't know how I'm going to get through the next few days. Think positive for me, OK?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

If The Phone Rings in the Middle of the Night, Do You Answer It?

The phone rang at 2 a.m. today.

In the instant between the first ring and the second ring, my heart stopped as I imagined all the possible emergencies that could have caused someone to call us at that hour.

I answered, said, "Hello?" and of course it was apparently a wrong number because the other person immediately hung up. (I heard the click right after I said hello.)

I think it was more my speaking that woke Scott, not the ringing of the phone. Or possibly my jiggling the bed as I sat up and reached for the phone. After I hung up the phone (while grumbling under my breath), Scott said something along the lines of "Why did you answer it at 2 a.m.?"

"It could have an emergency with our parents!" I responded. "Or our siblings!"

"It's the only reason I could think of that someone would call at 2 a.m.!" I added.

One of the downfalls of being too cheap to pay extra for Caller ID, I guess.

With my chronic fatigue, I have no qualms about ignoring a ringing phone if I'm napping. But somehow, middle-of-the-night phone calls are still scary and carry an urgency that a ringing phone during daylight hours doesn't carry for me.

Is it just me?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

One of Those Days

If it weren't for NaBloPoMo, I definitely wouldn't be posting today. It was just another one of those days when the day ran longer than my energy.

I did find it interesting -- challenging, really -- to try to explain to a preschooler exactly what Veteran's Day was and why it was a school holiday today. She likes holidays so there was no complaint about missing school today!

And I told her that today was the day each year that we honor all the men and women who have served in the military. But how do you explain the military to a young kid? Or war?

Sure, I told her that the military protects everyone in our country. But as a mother, I try to teach my child that violence is wrong, that might doesn't make right and that hitting and/or intentionally hurting another person is always wrong.

Don't get me wrong. I totally believe that the military serves an important purpose, even if I don't like our current war in Iraq. I don't mean to diss anyone who is serving or previously served in the military. I made a point of telling my daughter that both her grandfathers are veterans and today was a holiday to honor them as well as other veterans.

I just found it all very complicated to try to explain to someone who has no concept of wars and history. And I didn't really want to tell her that something like war exists in modern day. It's an ugliness that I don't want to expose her to, even if it is part of human life.

If I have offended anyone, I apologize. If you think I'm crazy, feel free to post a comment and tell me so, but please be polite.

And Happy Veteran's Day, everyone.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Excitement I Could Have Done Without

Apparently Ellie thought the berries on a ground cover near our mailbox looked yummy today and popped one in her mouth and ate it even though Scott told her not to. :(

We didn't think too much of it until we noticed at dinner that her eyes were dilated far more than Scott's or mine. That concerned us, and the only explanation we could think of was the berry.

The shrubs actually belong to our neighbors, so I had to call and ask what they were and whether they were poisonous. They were cotoneaster and although our first reference book, the Sunset Western Garden book, didn't mention being poisonous, I decided to call the pediatrician instead.

As soon as the advice nurse heard the issue, she told me to call the poison center. (Which I would have called first, but I'm embarrassed to say I couldn't remember the number and couldn't find it quickly in the phone book.)

So I did, and was told that that cotoneaster berries were "somewhat toxic." That was concerning, but when she found out that Ellie had only eaten a single berry, she said it was not a problem. Ten to 12 berries or more might have caused a problem, but one didn't.

Then she proceeded to rip me up one side and down the other for not having called immediately after Ellie ate the berry. And apparently, as someone who hasn't had medical training, I am not allowed to comment on and notice someone's pupil dilation. Even when I'm simply comparing it to my own. And, btw, even an overdose of the berries would only have caused nausea, vomitting and/or diarrhea, but they would not cause pupil dilation.

The important thing, of course, is that my kid is just fine. I don't mind that the person I spoke to clearly thought I was a lousy mother for not calling immediately. (If I had, the woman said she would have told me to have Ellie rinse her mouth out and then drink something. If Ellie had eaten 10 or more, she would have sent us to the ER.)

Interestingly, Scott kept looking at our reference books after I hung up with the poison center. And in the 1997 edition of the American Horticultural Society's A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants, he found what we'd been looking for: "Seeds may cause mild stomach upset if ingested."

Somehow, that sounds a lot less scary than "somewhat toxic."

Meanwhile, it's going to be a weird week. Ellie's school is closed Tuesday (Veteran's Day) and Thursday (parent-teacher conferences). So she will only go Monday-Wednesday-Friday this week, which I fear means I'm going to get even less done than I normally do since I'll have more to recover from this week.

But at least I'm over the hump for the cold/flu bug that morphed into a killer sinus infection. I'm never really sure whether the antibiotics made a difference or if I would have gotten better in the same amount of time anyway. But I think this time the antibiotics did help.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Reflecting On A Quiet Weekend

I really love the convenience of my laptop, which I've used almost exclusively since I got it a few months ago. I don't think there's any way I'd be able to keep up with my NaBloPoMo pledge of posting daily without being able to do so from bed and my recliner. It's definitely a blessing.

We had a very quiet weekend, which was nice in many ways even if Ellie did get more television watching than she should have. Scott took her to gymnastics on Saturday, and I was back asleep in bed by the time they got home. I finally dragged myself out of bed and downstairs around 4 p.m. Saturday, having only been awake for about an hour that morning. I felt like I could have happily stayed in bed and sleeping for the rest of the day, but I was afraid I'd wake up at 10 p.m. and be wide awake all night if I kept sleeping.

Today, we all stayed in our jammies all day. Actually, I guess that's not true. The adults stayed in jammies all day. Ellie put on her Tinkerbell dress in the morning, and actually consented to take an afternoon nap if Daddy would agree not to change clothes, so he did. I swear, sometimes I think she must siphon off all my energy while I'm sleeping or something. I'd give anything to get just 10 percent of her energy.

Hope y'all had a good weekend!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Arthritis and Joint Pain

My almost-4-year-old daughter visits the school library on Tuesdays and brings home a book (assuming we've remembered to send back the previous week's book).

Last week's choice was essentially an alphabet book, and instead of a story, there was an animal to illustrate each letter of the alphabet as well as a diagram that demonstrated the American Sign Language sign for each animal.

I took Signed English for two semesters in college, back when we expected my mother to eventually need people to sign to her to communicate. Instead, she had surgery a few years back to get cochlear implants that greatly improved her hearing and there's been no need for my family to learn how to sign for her.

But when I was pregnant, I started reading up on how infants can learn to sign well before they are able to speak and we signed often to Ellie pretty much from the start even though she was unlikely to sign back much before she was a year old. Turns out, Ellie was a very early speaker. (For the record, her first word was neither "mama" nor "dada." She first said "ki-hee" (kitty) at about eight months or so. And if we were slow to figure out what she was saying, she would clearly point at our cat and say it. :) But Ellie did learn a number of signs, including "milk," "more" and "all done" which were very handy for us when she communicated them.

So Ellie was in the bathroom and wanted her new book read to her, and Scott got stumped at the signs for the animal names so I got excited about signing them to her. There was bird, cat, duck, elephant ... all the way to newt, which stumped me for a minute until I realized that the diagram was showing fingerspelling n-e-w-t. And the "e" got me because you touch the pads of your fingers to where your fingers join your hand, folding your thumb horizontally too.

Wow, that hurt. Despite the fact that I have little to no visible swelling on my knuckles and fingers these days, I still have dexterity issues due to joint pain in my hands and wrists.

And it made me wonder -- how do people who need to sign for whatever reason manage if/when they develop arthritis in their hands? I remember one of my grandparents especially having very arthritic looking fingers and hands. The sign language thing was moot since she didn't use sign language, but what about the people who do? Surely communicating with one's hands doesn't prevent arthritis as one ages, does it?

A quick Google search didn't really help me find much of an answer. I found one person who apparently likes to tell people she signs with an accent to explain her variance in signing. Clever. :) But not much else.

If anyone reading my blog knows more about this, please leave me a comment or send me email. I'm very curious.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Sign of the Times

The increase in prices lately has really begun to hit home.

Sure, gas prices are (temporarily) way down from their highs earlier this year. But food prices have crept up slowly but surely. The store-brand frozen toaster waffles I got hooked on when they were $1 per box are now running at $1.23. Yes, that still seems cheap but it's nearly a 25 percent increase in price in a matter of months. And it seems like most of our staples are also creeping up in prices nearly every time we stock up.

I'm fairly frugal and since I don't really care about fashion, I buy most of my clothes at thrift stores. If you're careful, you can buy practically new clothes (and occasionally even with original tags) for a fraction of their retail price.

I noticed this week that the fabric of one of my favorite pairs of yoga pants that I've been wearing often had gotten very thin in the seat. So thin, I could see my hand through them.

Shopping is not easy for me these days, and one of the downsides to shopping at thrift stores is clothes often have either been shrunk smaller than their original size, or stretched out bigger, so you really have to try on every item. Totally exhausting -- by the time I was done (about 40 minutes later), I was practically a zombie.

But even so, I noticed that prices at Value Village were up dramatically from the last time I'd been there (before I got sick). Most of the non-designer jeans, for example, were $10, up from the $6-7 I used to pay. I even found a pair of Tommy Hilfiger jeans that were priced at $16, the highest I've ever seen for basic

I used to be able to go there, spend $40-50 and come away loaded down with three or four bags of clothes. Essentially, I could get almost an entire wardrobe -- and a large one -- for $50. Less if I shopped the crowded sales.

I spent $61 today and got just two pairs of jeans, a pair of yoga pants and five shirts. I hadn't paid a lot of attention to prices when picking out what to try on, so it was a bit of a surprise when the cashier totaled them up. It was easily 30 percent -- or more -- higher than I would have paid 18 months ago.

Just another sign of our failing economy, I guess.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering when I'm going to have the energy to tackle washing my "new" clothes so I can wear them. Hard to believe how much I got worn out just trying to find some clothes that fit.

And with that note, I'm going to get some sleep. Happy Friday.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Here We Go Again!

Well, if nothing else, it was fun to see Dr. Carter, a gastroenterologist I saw regularly for a good five years, today.

He agreed with my internist that my declining ferritin levels (despite iron supplements of 100 mg per day) and the failure of my Vitamin D levels to increase sufficiently means he should look closer to see if I've got Celiac Disease even though the blood tests were negative.

So I'm scheduled for an endoscopy on Dec. 22. I could have gotten in 10 days sooner but figured since Scott has to take Christmas week off work anyway, I might as well adhere to his schedule and not make him take any more work off than he has to.

Dr. Carter also mentioned another possible problem that's similar to Celiac Disease in some ways. I didn't catch the name of it -- if he even said -- but essentially there's a chemical reaction that has to happen in the stomach for iron to be absorbed. So he says it's possible that that reaction isn't happening properly.

In both that and the case of Celiac Disease, he says blood tests can be normal and even the inside of the stomach and duadonum can look normal. He says only biopsies of both can definitely confirm or rule out both diseases.

Meanwhile, while he's in there, he can check whether I have any throat damage from my reflux, and see how the scar tissue in my stomach looks. And of course, rule out that there's anything percolating in there right now since I've been having some renewed stomach issues in recent months. (Probably because I can't stay away from ibuprofin all the time as I'm supposed to.)

So, no big deal, really. I've had about half a dozen endoscopies before and I'm a pro at them, unfortunately. I have my doubts that I'll end up with a helpful diagnosis at the end of it, but you never know. And the fact that he'll be able to check out my reflux issue and rule out that I have a new ulcer starting, I think it's worth going through the endoscopy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Post Election


I shut off the television for less than 10 minutes last night so I could say goodnight to my daughter and when I turned it back on, they had declared Obama to be the 44th president of the United States.

I am blown away at the lengths people went this election to make sure their vote was counted. Oregon conducts its elections by mail only, which I personally love, but I wonder if I would have been dedicated enough to wait hours (sometimes in rain and other poor weather) just for the chance to cast my vote. Honestly? I'm not sure I'd be dedicated enough. Back when I lived in states with in-person voting, I don't think I ever had to wait more than 45 minutes or so for my chance in the voting booth.

And I was happy to see the old McCain I remember from the 2000 election with such a gracious concession speech. I was amused, though, by the change in his body language toward his running mate. At the GOP convention when Palin was announced as McCain's choice, they looked like they liked each other. I didn't think it looked that way last night.

Well, it will be interesting to see what the next four years bring.


I saw my internist today and she scolded me for not starting antibiotics over the weekend. So I'm officially back on Avelox for what we're pretty sure is a sinus infection.

I see my gastroenterologist tomorrow to discuss whether he thinks there's any chance I'm having absorption issues based on my low Vitamin D and ferritin levels. I have my doubts, but what's another specialist in the mix? At least he's an old friend. I saw him regularly for about five years (2000-2005) due to repeated peptic ulcers caused by anti-inflammatories.

Meanwhile, I should find out soon the details of how our health insurance will change in January. I'm hoping for better coverage rather than worse, but you never know. We will change carriers, from the regional Providence Health Plan to an Aetna plan.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Here's Hoping the Election Ends Tonight

If you have not voted yet, please hurry to do so. While I haven't hidden my preferences here, it doesn't matter who you vote for, just that you vote. Every vote does count -- just look at the 2000 election.


I've been surprised by my own interest in this year's presidential election. It's the first time I have voluntarily watched the presidential debates, gone out of my way to read the newspaper analyses, watched biographies of both candidates on television.

It's not that I'm such a huge Obama fan (although I did vote for him). I was a Hillary Clinton supporter in the primaries and I still think she would have made a better president than Obama. And while I used to have a lot of respect for McCain, I've lost it all as I watched him cave in to the pressures of the far right and especially with his choice of a running mate.

So why have I been following things so closely? Is it just that, as all the pundits like to say, a historical election?

I don't think that's it for me.

Thinking about it, I realized this is the first presidential election in my adulthood (since reaching age 18 and being eligible to vote) that I haven't had to cover some aspect of it. Even in 1988, the first presidential election I was eligible to vote, I covered an Iowa caucus as a stringer (Boy was that an experience! I still don't understand how they work.) and was in a study-abroad program for the November 1988 election. (I still remember being approached by strangers in pubs who heard my accent asking what the heck my fellow Americans were thinking to elect the elder George Bush as president. I still don't have an answer to that other than that I voted for Dukakis.)

By 1992, I was working for The Associated Press in West Virginia, and I didn't leave the AP until after the 2004 election. During those 15 years with the AP, I was always sick of election copy long before the actual election. I always enjoyed the adreneline rush of working election night and being present when the bureau chief would make decisions on when and whether to call a race. But I always hated the mop-up afterwards, the way election stories dragged on for days (or in the case of the 2000 election, for weeks and weeks.). I don't think I ever watched a debate unless I was working that night and needed to get local reaction to it.

By the time I left the AP, I was pretty burnt out on the whole journalism thing. And of course, I had a baby a few weeks later and that kept me pretty busy. For awhile there I felt like I was doing well if I managed to get the comics read and the front page headlines scanned.

But now it's been long enough that, while I don't think I qualify as a political junkie, I do read the entire paper (except the sports section, which I only glance at headlines before recycling) every day as well as numerous magazines and websites and blogs.

So here's hoping that whoever is in the White House next January that we soon have a solution to the health care crisis (hey, I'm not entirely off topic if I mention health care, right? :), the economic crisis and all the other crises we've got going.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Not The Monday I Had Planned ...

Here's one of my secrets -- secret only because I feel like a Bad Mommy when I admit it -- I use Mondays to recuperate from exhausting weekends being around my almost-4-year-old daughter.

I hate that because you shouldn't need to recuperate from spending time with your kid. At least, a good parent shouldn't. Right?

But I look forward to Mondays, to having the house empty and quiet with no guilt over taking as many naps as I need. I learned over the past year or so not to schedule acupuncture or other non-urgent appointments on Mondays after repeatedly canceling on my acupuncturist when I felt too exhausted to drive on Mondays.

So I was quite dismayed when I answered the phone around midday today to hear the receptionist at my daughter's preschool say Ellie needed to be picked up early today.

Not only do I have my usual ailments, but I still have my cold/flu bug that returned with a vengeance on Saturday.

Ellie wasn't sick. It wasn't an emergency -- she was just being contrary and refusing to use the bathroom before naptime, disturbing the other children who were already on their cots by running around the room and screaming.


It's not surprising since she was very challenging this morning too. But I had hoped the peer pressure at school would make her more cooperative there than she had been at home.

Part of being a parent is loving your child even when they are frustrating and irritating. And I do.

I do even though just a minute ago, my darling angel flipped the power button on my surge protector, causing my laptop to shut down unexpectedly. I do. Really. Even when I want to throttle her.

But I really miss the quiet Monday I thought I was going to have today, and that I really, really needed today.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Lesson Learned

Here's what I learned on Halloween:

If my desired activities cannot be accomplished with zero or one Provigil, the extra boost I can get from taking a second Provigil in late afternoon (as approved by my doc) is not worth the penalty I will end up paying in recovery time.

I knew it was ridiculously impossible when Scott asked me early in the week if I would be able to attend the annual Catlin Gabel rummage sale on Friday. It's a massive affair, and it by itself would be too much.

But combined with Ellie's preschool Halloween parade and class party starting at 9 a.m. and my desire to also go along for trick-or-treating at the mall?

That pair of activities or the rummage sale would have tired me out pre-illness. Could I even think about doing it now?

Well, I initially imagined that we'd go to the preschool Halloween festivities, then I'd go home and nap, and if I felt refreshed enough, we'd think about a quick drive-by at the rummage sale, then pick up Ellie and go trick-or-treating. Oh, and while we're out and about, I have a couple Halloween-related items I need to return to a store while I still can, and stop by the bank to deposit some checks as part of my MOMS Club chapter treasurer job.

If we'd done it like that, I probably would have vetoed visiting the rummage sale and other errands because I would not have recuperated sufficiently after the Halloween party. But Scott asked again while we were en route to the preschool party, and I was caught up in the anticipation.

Keep in mind that I'd already taken one Provigil, which comes with a possible side effect of euphoria. Was I euphoric? defines euphoric as a feeling of happiness, confidence, or well-being sometimes exaggerated in pathological states as mania.

I didn't think I was euphoric at the time. Somehow, I thought euphoria was a giddy sense of extreme happiness. I definitely wasn't feeling that on Friday. But somehow, I got optimistic that an extra boost would make it possible to Do It All. (In hindsight, I'm guessing that was the euphoria speaking ...)

After all, my internist has mentioned several times the possibility of taking a second Provigil in late afternoon if/when I needed it on a very occasional basis, especially if it would help me avoid a severe energy crash.

So I did it. I did all of it -- the Halloween party and parade, the errand at Fred Meyer and Washington Mutual, the rummage sale and trick-or-treating at the mall.

Was it worth it?

No. I'm happy I could be there for Ellie's school party and the trick or treating at the mall. But perhaps if I had passed up the opportunity to check out the Catlin rummage sale, I would have had more than a squeak for a voice on Saturday and been able to have some quality time with Ellie over the weekend.

At this point, after 48 hours of rest, I still feel like a zombie who can barely move and even the minimal exertion of standing (not even walking, but standing!) and/or talking gives me chest pain. I honestly don't know if I've felt this bad since getting over my July 2007 hospital stay, which was pretty much the worst I've been since developing this mystery illness.

So, like most lessons, I've learned this one the hard way: I need to listen to my body and, while it's good to push my limits gently to encourage them to expand, I can't just completely ignore my body and my intuition and camouflage the symptoms with medication to do things just because I want to.

You'd think I'd know this one by now, but apparently I'm a slow learner.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Oops, I Did It Again

Yup, that's right.

I signed up for National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) again, vowing to post daily for the month of November.

As you may know or remember from last year, it's essentially a version or take off on NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in which people vow to write a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. (Doesn't have to be good, just 50,000 or more words long. And yes, people actually do that. There's even a contest and the best submission gets published in some fashion.)

I definitely can't write a novel in 30 days. I can't even imagine writing 50,000 words of gibberish in 30 days, although that seems like it might be more achievable.

But I think I can do a post a day, and that's my goal at least.

Some posts, of course, will be better than others. But that's true even when I'm not trying to attain a random posting frequency. :)

Wish me luck, and please check back often to see how I'm doing.