Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My second-job work has been a bit light lately, so at night I have been working and napping and working some more.

Now, usually I don't nap. I don't nap because I get the worst nap hangovers. I awake feeling drugged and dizzy and worse than before I slept.

However, for the past two weeks, it is as if all the things in my dizziness...debt...have piled upon my body and brought on a fatigue I just cannot fight.

So, sometimes without realizing it, I drop off to sleep for an hour or so. I awake with my head on the keyboard or the arm of the couch or at the table. I awake feeling just a bit better and get on with my evening.

Today, I won Scrabble. Slept. Worked on contracts. Slept. Worked on a communications plan. And I have a few more tasks to go before I sleep again.

The contract for the third job is taking a long time to materialize. I did get a line on a fourth, though...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A while ago, my friend J commented on something I wrote here, saying that I shouldn't feel bad about writing about how I feel since this is my outlet for doing so. Taking her words to heart, I am doing so again.

Yesterday, I had to sit in a chair for an eight-hour training session. We had a half hour for lunch and two ten-minute breaks. For eight hours, I was sitting in a hard conference chair. Each time I got up, the pain in my hips and back was worse. By the end of the day, I was not even sure if I could bear walking to my car even though it would mean eventually getting home to the green chair.

The room was so small that I couldn't really stand up or walk around in the back. After all, I was in the back row and my head and upper body were resting against the wall.

By about hour three, I knew I was in trouble. The last three hours, I paid very little attention to what was said because of the overwhelming pain in my body.

I did get up three different times, ostensibly to go to the bathroom as a means of stretching and trying to ease the pain, but the other group members watched me hobble out of the room, so my attempts at surreptitious departures were actually quite a distraction to the training at hand.

I left before the training session was over because about thirty minutes prior to my departure, the air conditioner shut off. I sat there, writhing in pain, and growing warmer by the minute. When I started to grow disorientated and tremble from the heat, I forced myself to stand and to leave, even though the trainer was still speaking. I knew that if I did not leave, I would very shortly find myself slumped on the floor and did not want to faint around my colleagues.

In short, I was rather miserable yesterday and quite stiff and sore today.

On the way home, I had to pick up some Pepcid for Kashi because the vet wanted me to add it to his medicine regimen. For the first time, I was immensely grateful that my doctor had basically insisted that I get a handicapped placard.

The worst part about yesterday? I have to repeat the training next Saturday. I am not sure that I will be able to willingly drive myself to that location, knowing what is in store for me. I keep racking my brains trying to think of a way that might make the day easier for me, but, thus far, nothing has come to mind.

I will also add that my chest has been tight for a couple of weeks (I am waking up in the middle of the night with asthma attacks).

MS stinks.
Asthma stinks.
Arthritis stinks.

Having all three REALLY stinks...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I have only had a few hours of second-job work this week, but that is okay because I have been tinkering with my computing environment.

One of the most maddening things in life is to make a change to a stable computing environment. Generally, doing so means hours of frustration and ranting and raving at an inanimate, unresponsive machine. Once you get back to a stable environment, you kiss terra firma and vow never to make a change again...until the next upgrade or new toy or key bit of software.

My brother got a new Treo. He has been extolling the praise of Treo for years, but getting one has been out of my reach for years. First I was saving for Italy. Then, I was recovering from over spending in Italy. Finally, I have been trapped in unemployment-sourced mountain-high debt. So, he gets a new Treo and casting about for someone to pass his old 650 onto came up with me.

He sent me a box with EVERYTHING I needed, including plugs that would work in Europe! I have extra stylus-es (which is great because the one that was in the Treo is already broken). I have these complicated plastic covers to protect the screen. I have software and cords and even a charger for the car (yeah...I will still be able to commute with company).

The cool thing about the Treo is that it is a tool that could be very, very beneficial to me. Being able to get email anywhere I am (that I have a signal) and send them too is cool. Having addresses and calendar items always with me is great. Having puzzle games to help keep my atrophying brain cells active is super. Having a utility for shopping lists is most wonderful. Having Sugarland music on my phone is stellar. Having the bible with me always is a blessing. And, I confess, purchasing a golf game (most economical I might add) is icing on the cake (except for the fact that even in virtual golf, I stink).

HOWEVER, I had to install software to my system. I had to set up a new email account (Hotmail is not compatible, but Yahoo is). I had to get the computer to talk to the phone. I had to get the phone to talk to the computer. I had to download more software. I had to install software to the phone. I had to pair my headset with the new phone. I had to figure out a MOST complicated phone. I had to enter in all my contacts so that I could use them. I had to...

Pretty much each evening this week, I have tinkered and shouted and threatened either the Treo or my computer or both.

Well, as of about 10 minutes ago, I have returned to a stable computing environment that includes a rather versatile phone tool.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Kashi was at the vet today for more fluids. He has lost another half pound, for a total of 3.5 lbs. I am most worried. Most worried.

The vet is quite fearless in pouring the saline solution down his ear. She also had no qualms about picking out the crusty stuff. I was most nauseous as well.

Since he is not eating, we are switching his pain medicine and putting him on Pepcid to see if the antibiotic is bother his stomach. He had to go three days without the old pain medicine, before starting the new one. So...he is not happy.

He is not eating much. He is not drinking much. He is not doing his business much. He is not interested in playing. He mostly lies around looking pitiful.

I am worried.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Kashi's eardrum burst Thursday afternoon, due to a massive bacterial infection deep within his ear. He is a very sick puppydog; and I am a very worried puppydog mom. He has lost more than two pounds, when he was just 18 pounds to begin. He has eaten rather little since Thursday, a departure from the dog who will consume just about everything.

His left ear is a swollen, bleeding, puss-filled mess. Pieces of this junk have hardened deep within his hear, bothering him. So, Kashi will shake his head back and forth, trying to rattle them out. He is compounding the problem by continually rubbing at his ear by licking the inside of his paw and then swiping the damp appendage across the swollen flesh, irritating it further.

Today, he was a bit perkier than he has been since Thursday, but he is still not interested much in either food or play. Of course, part of this may be based on the fact that I had to purchase a muzzle so that I could pour saline solution and then additional medicine down his ear twice a day. He does not much care for that particular process.

The only positive factor is that the foul smell stemming from the infection has ceased, a sign that the rather powerful antibiotics he is on are working.

This afternoon, we had a follow-up check up at his vet. I had not thought that he would have remembered much from Thursday evening when he was sedated so that he could be examined, x-rayed, and treated. However, it was clear the memory remained vivid because I had to give up trying to drag him inside and pick him up to enter the building. Once inside, he made a beeline to a spot in the corner furthest from the exam room beneath a row of chairs. Again, I had to haul him out from his hiding place and hold my trembling dog on the table while his ear was examined and cleaned. Because of his alarming weight loss, the vet gave him fluids by inserting a needle beneath the skin on his back. He looked like a rather cowed camel by the time we left. She also doubled his pain medicine.

I got a B- on my own ear treatment procedure. Apparently, I am not using enough saline. Kashi was NOT happy with the copious amounts of liquid she poured down his ear. However, given that his ear drum is ruptured and the infection dangerously close to his brain, getting all that gunk out is important.

Tomorrow is Day 6 of 21 of antibiotics. She is hoping that since there seems to be evidence that they are attacking the infection, his appetite should return shortly. I sure would like to see him eat more...and frolic more...and whimper less...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

One of the things I love best about B is how much she helps me without making me feel stupid.

She knows the cognitive struggle I have due to the MS. Those three sets of degrees after my name do not amount to much these days. Yet, she helps me in such small and loving ways that I never feel as if I am a burden or...well, as I said...stupid.

For example, I started struggling with putting in my contacts in the mornings. I couldn't remember which way was right and which way was inside out. I mean, Acuvue lens have an AV marking on them, but I couldn't remember if I should see the mark looking from above or from the side.

B told me to remember where I live when I look at the lens. The mark should be VA as I look from the side. Her memory key has stuck, resulting in MUCH, MUCH less stressful mornings for me.

Another example is the light in her daughter's room (where I sleep when I visit). It is a fan with two pull chains. To help me remember which one is for the light, B gently coached me: the long one is for the light; remember long-light.

I think it is because of this kindness she shows me that I feel most relaxed around her. I do not have to pretend to have my brain in working order all the time around her. I can relax and let my cognitive foibles fall by the wayside, knowing that should she notice, it would only be to figure out a way to help me cope.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

ARGH! I worked six hours tonight on my second job. I had five tasks to do that really needed to be finished tonight. I did learn how to link cells across different worksheets in the same workbook in Excel. And I created my first pie charts. However, I am really, really, really tired.

The one thing that has kept me going is the phone call I received from Kashi's vet. His blood work came back) she put a rush on it for me, and she noted that all his values are normal, including the one that was too high last year. For right now, the weight loss and appetite change most likely is old age and/or pain from his arthritis. The next step for him is to do some x-rays since he really cannot tell us what is going on with his pelvic girdle (it was fractured when he was hit by a car when he was two). When she was examining him, he actually allowed her to really flex his hips and evaluate his weakness far better than she has been able to in the past year. She did confirm that he has about 20% more vision loss, with more than 40% occlusion in his left and about 60% in his right. My poor puppydog.

He will NOT like getting x-rayed. He will NOT like the anesthesia. He will NOT like being left at the vet all day.

I, however, will be glad for a better understanding of his arthritis. His vet said that the x-rays will help her determine whether or not we should increase his medication or change it.

I really struggle with seeing him fall some times when he jumps up and is bearing all his weight on his back legs. However, I do believe his quality of life is still fairly good (except when storms come like poor petunia was frantic for more than an hour). He brings me such comfort and such joy that I want the same for him, doggy-wise.

When he was diagnosed with Cushing's Disease (oh, how I am thankful for the Chinese herbs he is on), I had a long talk with his vet. I told her that I never, ever wanted him to suffer. However, I also am fairly sure that I will never be able to actually tell her to put him to sleep. Once again, showing the kindness she has bestowed upon me over the years, his vet agreed then and there to make that decision for me.

I fervently hope it is a long time coming...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle died on Friday at 88. I think it disturbs me that she died in a nursing home. After all, she gave so much to so many people through her unflinchingly honest books that I cannot help but see her surrounded by those whose lives changed by encountering her work. Perhaps she was.

If you have not read A Wrinkle In Time, then you might not recognize her work. But then again, you might have read her plays, her journals, or her musings on Christianity. She was certainly a prolific writer.

One of her books, The Arm of the Starfish, is an all-time favorite of mine...for several reasons.

In the book, nothing turns out quite as you would expect. After all, one of the main characters is murdered unexpectedly. It is that character, L'Engle would say, who appeared one afternoon in a hotel room as she was writing her novel, much to her own surprise. She ended up having to rewrite the first third of the novel just to include Joshua. But, she will also tell you, she didn't give it a second thought because he belonged in the story she was trying tell.

In that story, the teenage female lead character is devastated by her friend's murder. But she feels the most egregious act is her father's willingness to help the murder's daughter when she is injured.

Her father's response is truly a life lesson:

If you are going to care about the fall of the sparrow, you cannot pick or choose who the sparrow is going to be.

Thank you. Madeleine, for all the memories, for all the times you challenged me, for all the times your stories were sanctuary from that which was going on in my own life. You stood for truth and never shied away from it. How wonderful is it that after a life long labor in His service, you are now resting in the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I awoke with my face resting on the keyboard, having successfully ruined the document upon which I was working. I guess you could say that I am tired.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Mowed. Fainted. Showered. Fainted. Threw all eight pillows off my bed in frustration. Saw Kashi staring at me. Burst into laughter. Plunked myself down in front of my laptop to start my evening work.

In the past 12 days, I have worked 135 hours. I have three tasks for the weekend, but am not sure how long they will take. This is extremely tough, however I am learning to remain focused for long periods of time with just short breaks.

Through all of this, I have become the queen of lists. I make a list for the morning, for my time at work, for my lunch break (I work some then), for my evening, for the house, for the weekends, and then those at night for the next day. I have lists for long-term projects. I have lists of things-that-I-can-do-to-make-me-feel-productive. I have lists of what can wait and what needs to be done immediately. I have lists for call and letters and things to remember. Simply put, I have been keeping a few lists to help me get by.

The funny thing is that as tired as I have been from working so much, you would think that I would be asleep before my head hit the pillow and sleep like a log. While the constant dizziness from withdrawing from that medication has eased ever so slightly, the other side effect of "intense dreams" has shown no sign of stopping. My dreams have become so wild, you would think I was on Ecstasy or something.

For example, last night I dreamt that I was at this diner where I apparently ate frequently. Nearly every evening, Michael Anthony Hall would stop by to eat with friends. Each night, I would smile at him and then duck my head in embarrassment when he smiled back. Over and over again, I waited to see him, smile, duck my head, and then eat my own meal. Then, one night he actually came over to invite me to join him for dinner. I blushed and asked if he saw me looking at him. He said he enjoyed my smile and wanted to see one up close. After dinner, I had to go to the dentist. While I was there, I saw two different dentists. One only cleaned the upper teeth while the other did the lower ones. It was the same for the x-rays. Michael went with me because he wanted to spend more time with me. Part of the dental service was a cardio treatment, but Michael suggested we go for a walk instead of using the treadmill. However, once we were outside, he whipped out a syringe and jammed it into my thigh, all the while looking like a lion waiting for his prey to finally fall. I stumbled away from him and started running. I eventually found a metro station and searched through my pockets for the fee. It was $7.70 for a one-way trip that was just a couple of stations away. While trying to count the coins, my sister (who lives states and states away) suddenly appeared next to me searching her own pockets. However, she didn't want the machine to give her a metro ticket. She was going to buy some cotton candy! I look at her as if she were crazy, and she just pointed to the button for it that was right in front of my face. Fortunately, at that point Kashi jumped up on the bed to join me and woke me from my dream.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Football. Football. Football. Oh, how I have missed you!

The pre-season is all right. I certainly look forward to August. But the pre-season would never have given you what we had tonight.

Colts and Saints were tied at 10 at the half. All in all, an evenly matched half of football. Then Peyton Manning comes out of the locker room and winds up into a higher gear. One touchdown. Two. The game is firmly in hand. Oh, a third.

In the pre-season, no team would wipe the other up and down the field the way the Colts did the Saints tonight. They would all be best buddies, grateful to get through another game without injuries and having had the opportunity to get the third and forth string players some time so as to evaluate them.

Nope. Not tonight. Man-handling is not only allowed, but encouraged. Be the man. Scream that stupid "We are the Champions" song until the other guy runs from the stadium clutching his hands to his ears. Beat up on the defense. Terrorize the offence. Then, after heaping insult upon touchdown insult, send in the back-up crew just to flaunt the fact that there is no way under heaven and earth that the other guy has even the remotest hope in salvaging any part of the second half of the game.

You just got to love football!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I just arrived home from work this evening.

Today, I worked at my regular job. I played a game of Scrabble with my dear friend B. I worked at my second job. Then, I went back to work at my regular job.

Needless to say, it has been a long day (longer because I lost the Scrabble game).

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A little while ago, my mother up and sent me a package of clothes that she thought I could wear. Half of them are too small. But, perhaps, someday...

One was a dress with a jacket/shirt over it that is simply beautiful. Another was this killer blue jacket shirt that is tunic length and is royal blue with these artsy suns all over it. It is absolutely a perfect fit to my personality and absolutely NOT what she would expect me to wear (because of its length), so it was a surprise.

Then there was this chocolate brown Chico's Travelers outfit. I am sure she meant this for work, but I wouldn't wear it there. It really is one of those lounging outfits of old, with a tunic length top (three-quarter length sleeves & split sides) and snug, straight-leg pants. The whole outfit is a size smaller than I would wear in public, too. [I do not wear anything fitted tightly.] So, I put it in the box with the other items for "later."

However, this past weekend, I suddenly thought that it might work for a lounge outfit for me. After all, that it what it looks like to me. Sure enough, the fit is tight, but okay. And boy, oh boy, is it comfortable. Not only is it like wearing pajamas, but it is a different outfit than the one I have been wearing at home since I lost all that weight. I actually look more classy and less trashy! Too bad Kashi and the birds cannot appreciate my efforts to improve my couch potato existence.

Tonight I worked on a project that was sheer pleasure. I had sort of been pushing to create this big-picture spreadsheet for a while, but it was only today that I convinced my second-job boss of the value of it. She will find it useful, but also do I. Organization is just plain satisfying!

Speaking of weight, in eight days, I gained 15 pounds. I am SO VERY FRUSTRATED. I suspect it is because of a medicine change, but since I have made two of them at the same time, I am not sure why. For example, on Monday I had milk and yogurt for breakfast, ham and Gatorade for lunch, and soup and a English muffin with cream cheese for dinner. This morning, I had gained 2.6 pounds! I didn't even consume that much weight in food!

One of the drugs turned out to be addictive, so I have been fighting dizzy spells for just over two weeks. Finally that is abating. However, I started noticing last week that I gained weight. I thought it was because I had two actual meals in the same day. But then the other seven days were my usual fare and the pounds packed themselves on.

I am hoping whatever is causing this stabilizes. After all, I want to keep wearing my new outfit!

I decided to get serious about water consumption and have had 32 ounces every day for the past four days. Water is not very tasty in my opinion.

Oh, how I long for pizza. If I am going to suddenly turn back into a cow, I would at least like to enjoy it!

I have been ignoring the call of the lawn for well over a week. I think I might need to invest in a sickle.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Working two jobs, working nights and weekends and holidays, is tough. I cannot imagine how those who do this all the time manage to stay sane. Of course, perhaps sanity is the first to go.

I got an offer to work a third job in September and October.

I said, "Yes."

Am I crazy?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Something is wrong with Kashi. I just cannot put my finger on what, but I know that he is losing ground. I fervently hope that I am wrong.

He is not eating much. His trembling is back (I hope because he is not eating enough to get enough of his medicine. He will play fetch, but will go back inside after only a few tosses, taking the ball with him. He collapsed beneath the weight of the water on his coat when I gave him a bath. He falls a lot. His fur/hair is coming out in clumps.

I called and talked with his vet, and after a few pointed questions, she asked to see him next Saturday.

I am worried....muchly...