Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Birth Announcement (of sorts)

We haven't quite managed to get our Etsy store up and running, but we're getting our ducks in a row and hope to have it open in the next couple weeks.

I didn't want to start a new craft blog, but I've been reading a lot about successful crafty businesses and how to create them, and they seem pretty unanimous about the importance of a blog and Twitter presence.

So I'm happy to announce the launch of our new blog, Foster's Beauties. You can also find us on Twitter as @FostersBeauties

Meanwhile, if you're into marketing and willing to offer free advice, I'm looking for suggestions on a tagline for the business, something about beautiful crafts in fabric and wood. (But it should be clear that it's either fabric crafts OR wood crafts, and nothing -- at least nothing planned currently -- with both fabric AND wood in it. :-)

Happy Leap Day!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Problem With Mail-Order Pharmacies & Prescriptions

Like most people these days, I've switched all my maintenance/daily prescriptions to my insurance company's mail-order pharmacy in order to save money.

And for the most part, I do save money, although our copays have increased to the point where on my generic meds (which is almost all of them), I save just $4 out-of-pocket by getting a 90-day supply from them rather than a 30-day supply from my local pharmacy. (I'm fairly confident the insurance company saves way more $$$ than I do by my filling my prescriptions with them.)

I set most of my meds up so they automatically refill the prescriptions and send them to me, and so they renew the prescriptions when they expire. Which is good in theory, but since the mail order pharmacy refills a 90-day prescription after 60 days, I end up with a six-month supply or more within a year.

The problem with that is prescriptions get tweaked. My thyroid medicine is fairly regular, but every once in a while my biannual bloodwork shows that I'm on either two much or two little Levoxyl. If I have two unopened bottles with a 90-day supply sitting in my medicine chest, I'm really not thrilled to change my dosage.

At one point, I had over a year's supply of Flexeril on hand, so I finally stopped the automatic refill option. So what happened? I didn't realize I was emptying my last bottle until, well, I went looking for a new bottle in my bathroom cabinet.

So now I'm waiting for the postman to bring me a package with the medicine that is key to keeping my pain levels under control. And I can't go to the local pharmacy, because when I did that on a different prescription, the mail order pharmacy canceled its processing of a 90-day supply. (It took three attempts to get that prescription filled by mail order without running out of the medication on hand.)

But that's life with chronic illness, right? Lots of balls to keep in the air and lots of patience needed.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday

I took an online class this month through, and although I have felt out of my depth in making these funky felt pins, I'm rather pleased with how my projects are turning out. They're still works in progress but I thought I'd share:

Ellie keeps telling me that if I decide any of them have too many mistakes, I can give them to her. :-)
I think I'm most excited about the mermaid, even if I did glue her down accidentally before I fixed the size/length of her neck. :)

I wish I'd chosen different beads for the "stars" around the fairy perched on the moon. But I think it's still interesting looking.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

PFAM: The Travel Edition

As some of you know, I've dipped my toes back into traveling since it's become obvious that chronic illness is, well, chronic. And I like taking vacations, even if I have to take my symptoms and health issues along with me.

I'm still learning how to be successful at travel, but I have learned a few things that make a huge difference for me:
  •  Staying at a hotel like Embassy Suites that has a separate area from the bedroom means Ellie and Scott can have a home base to watch tv and/or hang out while I'm still sleeping. It's crucial that there be a door to shut between the two rooms. If we only have a regular hotel room, it means either I'm awake way earlier than my body can cope with or they have to get up and have somewhere to go. And having somewhere to go around 6 or 7 a.m. can be challenging most place. (It wasn't a problem at Disneyland, though. :)
  • Plan for naps. Although I don't nap daily at home, I always have quiet time. On vacations, it's a lot harder to find quiet time, especially when you're traveling with a kid. Naptime makes it all possible. 
  • Don't over commit. I find this most challenging when we're visiting family and there's people who want to spend time with us. I find that the larger the group, the more tiring it is to spend time with them and increased fatigue makes many of my symptoms worse. It's really hard to say no, but it's crucial.
  • Eat regularly and keep healthy snacks available in the hotel room for when going out in search of a meal isn't an option. 
  • Schedule downtime for after the trip, even if you don't expect to need it. I always need it, but I don't always realize ahead of time how much I'm going to need it. Even a low-key weekend trip takes more out of me than being at home.
In My RA Beach Vacation, Deb Murphy of ABCs of RA wrote about a successful weekend away at Myrtle Beach, North Carolina, a popular destination in the southeast U.S. It took some planning ahead, but it sounds like a great vacation.

Meanwhile, Deb also pointed out a great travel blog called Travels With Pain, which has many, many articles with some great advice for people with chronic illnesses. Here are two that I'd like to share: Five Ways To Make A Trip Less Painful and Taking a One-Night Trip.

So this was definitely not the most popular edition of Patients for a Moment that I've hosted, but I'd love to hear tips and travel stories from other spoonies in the comments if you have any you want to share!

To PFAM or Not To PFAM, That Is The Question

So I was supposed to post the February edition of PFAM yesterday, but there was one little problem: I only got one submission. 

And I've been sick enough this month that I apparently didn't promote it enough to get more submissions. I'd meant to follow Leslie's lead and send out a mass email to my fellow health bloggers a few days before the due date, but well, I didn't. I haven't spent as much time online as normal, and I think that played a role here. Certainly, I never got my PFAM post written and posted either. (And for the record, I still feel cruddy. This virus has just knocked me on my butt. I haven't been able to do any crafting, either.)

I'm waiting for guidance on what to do next. It just doesn't seem like a blog carnival if there's only one contribution.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Just Another Day

It's been a looooong day. 

And for pretty much the entire time I've been awake (which was waaaaay longer than usual due to getting called into an 8 a.m. meeting at school that definitely wasn't scheduled for my convenience), I've felt like I have Mexican jumping beans in my heart. 

The good news? I picked up an event monitor from my doctor late last week, so at least I could inundate them with recordings of my heart acting weird. (Seriously. The monitor holds ten events, and I filled it up and played it for them three times. Not that the "events" were different from each other, but I wanted to make sure the doctors understood that it wasn't just once or twice in a day that I had little spells. It was all frickin' day. And they still got just a teensy percentage of what I experienced. But they can see the log of times and know that I was recording them at regular intervals over the day.)

The bad news? Apparently I was fooling myself when I convinced myself that the palpitations were caused by the Adderall I was taking. But I quit the Adderall back in December, and while for awhile I had fewer occurrences, it clearly didn't make everything all better. 

Everyone has those occasional palpitations where you feel like your heart skipped a beat. I've had those for years, dating back to when I was pregnant with Ellie, which was the first time I got checked by a cardiologist. But I'd have just one or two palpitations at a time, and then go hours if not days and weeks before having another one.

Something changed in December (or was it late November? I don't remember now.) when I first had 24 consecutive hours of feeling like someone had taken my heart into their fist and was somewhat randomly squeezing and shaking it  wildly. 

Best I can tell, they get triggered when I overdo things. Yesterday, I had a pretty good day and was even able to get out into the sunshine and distribute flyers for our school's used book sale in a nearby business district. ( For the locals: Multnomah Village.)

The first weekend Scott had his kidney stone issues? I had three days solid of it. (But I was a good wife and didn't mention it since I knew it wasn't as urgent as what he was going through. :) 

Anyway, it's apparently "just" a regular arrhythmia with early beats followed by the strong beat that's what I really feel. Not that I've heard it from a doctor yet, but the technician who took the recordings over the phone assured me that's all it was. And googling palpitations and early heartbeats, which is what the technician said she was seeing on the strips, makes it clear it's all pretty benign.

Which is good. Except it probably means there's nothing to do for it and it's somewhere between uncomfortable and painful, exhausts me when it goes on and on, and keeps me feeling dizzy and light-headed while it's going on. Gets worse when I'm active, especially if you consider "talking" or walking to be active.

More news when I have it. I'll be leaving a message for my doc tomorrow to try to touch base with her. I'm guessing that it'll be yet another thing that makes multiple of my docs look at the data and say, "Hmmm ... very interesting."

I'm so ready to stop being so interesting to doctors!  


Sunday, February 5, 2012

PFAM: Seeking Travel Tips/Stories

It's feeling a lot like spring here in Portland, but I know it's just a tease before the winter weather comes back. And in winter, non-gardeners like me like to dream of vacations to come. (Gardeners, of course, spend this time of year checking seed catalogs and dreaming of the fruit, veggies and flowers to come.)

So for the February edition of the patient-centric Patients For a Moment blog carnival, I'm looking for Spoonie travel tips (if you're not familiar with The Spoon Theory, you need to go read it right now.) -- how do you (or don't you?) take a vacation when your chronic illness insists on coming along for the ride? What do you do to ease the challenges so you can have fun? I'm also interested in your vacation stories, both the successes and the failures. I've had both, sometimes on the same trip, and I'll share them in a separate post.

So here's the deal on PFAM: You can contribute a new post, or you can offer a post you've made previously if you've addressed this stuff in the past. Deadline for contributions is midnight pacific time on Monday, Feb. 13, and you should send the following information to

1. Your name (as it should appear)
2. Your blog’s name
3. Your post’s title
4. Your post’s URL

(And truthfully, while I'd very, very much prefer to get your contributions by midnight Feb. 13, please go ahead and drop me an email if you're running late but would have it done before I post on Feb. 15! :)