Saturday, December 31, 2011

Finally finished...

The attic floor is done...for now.  Eventually, I would like to do one more round of orange oil, but that would take one more trip to the floor.  And, well, the last batch of black rags are still sitting in the laundry sink for me to rinse and clean.  I am leaving them for another day, since today's "final" effort was to vacuum both the floor and the rugs. Does not my attic floor now look rather wonderful?

In case you have forgotten the beginning of this arduous project, below is a set of progress photos from just one angle.  The steps were: 1) remove all the old rugs and carpets; 2) sweep 3) scrub, scrub, scrub; 4) two rounds of orange oil; and 5) vacuum everything once more. Along the way, I also completed my goal for reducing my stuff in the attic by about two-thirds of the volume I had up there.  I accomplished this through: 1) donating; 2) recycling; 3) redistribution in the basement; and 4) trash.

I am very pleased with how this project turns out.  Amos is even more pleased that he can now join me in the attic once more should I venture up there!

Total project cost: $16.24 to purchase new supplies, a bottle of vinegar already on hand, 10 laundry loads of washing blackened rags (used for scrubbing the floor after the new sponge mop head died), four trips to donation centers (including donated items from the basement), and 18 sessions of labor.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Life as I knew it...

I have been on a roller coaster ride in the last 24 hours, yet even so I have had a rather large heaping of mercy dolled out as well.  As much as I have despaired, I know that I am a much beloved sheep of the Good Shepherd.

I feel as if I escaped one prison only to find myself jailed in another mere weeks later.  It seems as if, despite the freedom hormones have given to my body, my body has been most ungrateful for the reprieve.  Or, perhaps, with one battle down, the ongoing progress of the war was inevitable...inexorable, really.  My innards.  SIGH.

Over the past few weeks, I have had increasing episodes of a strange nausea wherein I have great abdominal pain and nausea.  Any clothing, even a t-shirt, feels like a thousand pounds is resting upon my torso.  In the wee hours of the morning, I am awakened by the pain and nausea and am forced to ride it out for hours.  Hours.  Amos has not really enjoyed these battles as well, since I cannot bear to have him even touching my side at such times.  He doesn't understand why I keep pushing him away.  Poor little faithful puppy who is only trying to comfort me.

It is been a puzzle, really, trying to figure out what I ate that was so wrong.  This is especially so when I have the same thing several meals in a row and sometimes it is okay and sometimes it is not.  Well, now I know that what I suspected was actually what was happening.  I even know now why it was that the final four of my 13 sessions of scrubbing the attic floor made me inexplicably nauseous.

Actually, I now know that I was right when I thought the terrible bout of food poisoning triggered the start of the problems dysautonomia can wreak on a digestive system.  Lying in bed rather ill, I once again tried Googling dysautonomia information and came across two sites I had not previously found.  There, splashed across the screen, were all the things I have been battling, things I thought so weird and the reasons why I was experiencing them.

Truth be told, I have known from the initial diagnosis that I needed to change my eating life.  The cardiologist was so adamant about hydration and sodium and eating 6-8 meals a day.  But you cannot really work and eat that least the frequency.  I simply didn't want to face it.  The sodium, yes, but I truly dislike water and eating 6-8 meals a day is a dramatic life change.

When I saw the neurologist last November, I really did not understand his utter disbelief when I answered in the negative about any digestive problems.  He repeatedly asked about them, giving examples I had forgotten until now.  Until now.  He knew what was coming and, I supposed, found it to be a gift of some sort the fainting and cold spells were my main dysautonomia issues.

I still cannot write about the information dump that occurred last night, a horrific revelation of what lies before me, especially if I continue to ignore the need for a complete attitude adjustment about changing how I eat and being far more careful about what I eat.  As in...feeding tubes.  I remain overwhelmed, even as I remain relieved to have my weird innards issues described so accurately by doctor and patient alike.

As much as I wish not to do so, here and now I am asking those who know me to help me and to hold me accountable to the changes I need to make.  The first round include: 6-8 small meals; 2 glasses of water a day; an additional glass of Gatorade a day; gluten at only one of the meals; and dairy at no more than 2 of the meals.  I have known that I can only eat breads when I have far more protein, but apparently dairy can be hard to digest as well.  That puzzles me, but still I am going to try. I will say that if I have the chance to eat out with company, I will give myself the grace to have a more regular sized meal.  However, I need BIG changes and these will make a good start.

All the things that sound weird and do not fit with tests and such are all very, very typical of a neurological disease that affects the autonomic process of digestion.  I suppose, in a way, I am quite thankful for all the fainting.  For those whose digestive system is the first primary symptom, a veritable mass of tests come their way, all with non-specific results and often mis-diagnoses (such as irritable bowel syndrome) before finally discovering they have one or more of the four classes of dysautonomia (I have POTS and NCS).  So, I am blessed, really, to already have the diagnosis and thus understand better what is happening.  Still, it is just plain crappy.

In my opinion, dysautonomia is far, far, far worse than multiple sclerosis.

I suppose a small part of me was relieved to find a few things familiar, aside from my innards battle: extremely cold extremities (including my nose) when battling a body temperature drop, brain fog, losing the ability to concentrate, and increase in fatigue.  I was also relieved to see so many who said things like seemingly one week they could do things/eat things and the next week they could not.  I was not aware, as well, just how strongly great stress can aggravate dysautonomia.  [You are probably right, Fred, about your connection between the worsening and the fear of what I have to face soon.]  Yet the bottom line, for me, is that I am absolutely overwhelmed by all that I learned last night.

Overwhelmed and wanting to stamp my foot on the ground and shout with my whole being: This isn't fair!

This morning, I was really struggling and God, in His infinite mercy, blessed me through the words and compassion of Fred, who even as an undershepherd understands how much I want to throw a fit about this. Truly, talking with him helped me take the first swallow of what I think is a great, bitter draft of fetid brew.  And, mercy overflowing, a friend here had already agreed to help me go mattress shopping today.

I had done a fair amount of research online and chose three stores to visit.  But I also suspected that, if what I had read was even marginally true, a first stop at Denver Mattress Company might result in one-stop shopping.  It did.  Seriously, if you are in need of a mattress, high-tail it over there.  If you are in Fort Wayne, ask for Daniel. During the time he spent with us, I honestly felt he desired to give me the best sleeping solution possible--not a sales pitch--no matter how long it took the right one.

Walking in, I had very firm ideas about what I did and did not want.  However, highly trained and a very good listener, Daniel steered me toward a mattress that I believe will make a profound difference in how well I sleep.  Tuesday cannot come soon enough for me!  [Since I have an appointment that might fall in the delivery window, once assigned to me, my friend volunteered to stay at my house while I am gone in case the truck comes.  What a merciful offer!]

Being able to share the experience, having someone to lie with me on mattress after mattress and talk through the differences in them, was a great blessing.  Being with someone gentle and kind was an even greater blessing.  Truly this was a much easier process with her presence.

She also introduced me to a restaurant that I am rather miffed no one has dragged me to yet: Mad Anthony's.  It was there I had a final farewell to my current way of life.  Being the ever supportive friend, my companion allowed me to order three appetizers and a sandwich to split with her: 1) Scotch eggs--these hard-boiled eggs encrusted with sausage and bread crumbs and flash fried dipped in a ranch sauce; 2) seasoned wedge fries dipped in a cucumber sauce; 3) a thick spinach and artichoke dip with tri-colored chips; and 4) the absolute most decadent sandwich I have ever had in my life--a grilled cheese sandwich that had fresh mozzarella, fresh spinach, roasted red peppers, applewood smoked bacon, and some sort of jam served on a sour dough bread.  On cooking shows, I have heard people talk about an explosion of flavors, but have never experienced such a thing until now.  Plus, Mad Anthony's has games to play at your table and serves Dr Pepper!  From now on, if someone wants to treat me, I shall drag them over there!!!!

We did bring home many left-overs, but I also ate too much.  And I forgot to take Acarbose before I ate (Boy, do I sure hope that there was enough protein to balance out the carbohydrates I consumed).   SIGH.

Last night, I learned the mechanics of why it is that I need to eat multiple small meals a day.  I suppose I wish I had restrained myself a bit more. However, today I had a true culinary feast the likes of which I have not experienced in a long, long time, and, if I am responsible, will never consume again. The true test will be if I can summon enough determination to spread my leftovers out across at least two days.  I have two helpings of eggs, two helpings of spinach and artichoke dip, and one helping of potatoes...if I move forward with the wholesale-commitment-to-small-meals vow.

The worst part of what I read was the constant refrain of how unpredictable dysautonomia digestive issues are, how life becomes as if one is constantly riding on a roller coaster.  Words cannot express how much my heart, mind, body, and soul felt crushed by learning of this...even though it is something I have been beginning to experience of late.

In so very many ways, my life has completely changed.  Just as I manage to adjust to one radical shift in direction, I am bumped and turned in an utterly different one.  My mind is screaming This is too much!  Yet even as I am felled by such a mighty blow as the stark reality this still new disease will be in my life--an ever-unfolding nightmare if I may be so bold to say--I was cushioned by the shock with the mercy and compassion given to me by Fred and my friend.  And I found what very well may be the most perfect mattress for my rather beleaguered body.

The woman who has been helping me work through things said recently that a proper diagnosis of any medical or mental problem is most beautiful to her, for it means that you then have the reasons thereof and can make a plan.  Even if it is hard, harsh diagnosis, having an answer is a great blessing.  She is right.  Though my diagnosis came nearly 18 months ago, only now have I even begun to understand what it means.  Having it, however, made my search for answers as I writhed in agony last night almost easy.  Finally finding the right search terms let me know that I am not alone in this, I am not unusual at all, and that while there is no cure or even direct treatment, there are choices--better choices--that I can begin to make.  And, being armed with the knowledge of where this very well might go, I will not be blindsided by a future that truly does appear to be rather bleak.

Fred reminded me of something this morning: Gethsemane.  Even knowing what He faced, even choosing to be born into a human body so that He might accomplish the salvation of God's beloved creation, Jesus struggled mightily with the path before Him. It struck me today that this very well might be because He was in a human body with a human mind.  Though Jesus is infinite, He chose to live for a time in the finite.  Our bodies and minds are very finite, very limited.  We cannot blithely pass through trials and tribulations as if they have no impact upon our person.  Nor can we expect to face such an agonizing experience without pausing, without struggling against the very idea of it, and without wishing somehow it might pass from us.

Oh, how I am struggling with the knowledge of what lies before me.
Oh, how I tremble at the thought of what I must endure.
Oh, how I wish this battle with my innards...and the fainting...and the cold...I must face for the rest of my life would pass.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The problem with orange sweet rolls...

The problem with orange sweet rolls as a coping mechanism against the abject loneliness of a holiday season when all around you are wrapped up in their own families, highlighting your own loneliness, is that when you cook said orange sweet roll being alone means that you are the only one to eat all eight of them.  And, if you happen to be the sort of person who somehow lost every bit of will power she once possessed, that means eating all eight of them will make you ill, plummet your blood sugar, and leave you feeling even more lonely as you huddle on the floor before the refrigerator, shoving protein and sugar in your mouth as you wait for the sweating and tremors and weakness and anxiety to pass.

Ding Dongs, it turns out, actually do make a better coping mechanism.  You see, Hostess must have some inkling of sympathy for folk who misplaced their will power because the company individually wraps each and every Ding Dong, making gluttony more difficult as one has to work harder at eating a second and a third or even a fourth one.  Orange sweet rolls just sit there in the pan, calling out for consumption as they begin to grow cold and harden the longer they are out of the oven because they know they are lose more and more of their awesomeness every minute that passes.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Forks and spoons...

I have not shied away from writing how conflicted I am at Christmas, the commercialism of it all, the season it has become.  The parties and food and visits.  So many despair of the busyness of the season and all the things they have to do and I scratch my head.  We don't have to do anything.  Christmas is not about that.  Not at all.

So many individuals and families go deep into debt chasing after giving the perfect gifts.  Heck, it seems much of our economy revolves around the retail activity of the season, from Black Friday to post-Christmas sales. For me, such a thought brings such deep sorrow to my heart.  For that is not what Christmas is about.

However, as I have also said before, I love receiving gifts.  I would by lying if I did not mention that again.  This year, this Christmas, I am very thankful to have received gift cards that will enable me to purchase a small shop vac as an alternative way to cleaning the basement and main floors and allow me to no longer carry my vacuum cleaner up and down the stairs.  I am also thankful for the money that I used to replace my primary shoes that had broken soles and purchase two new sweaters since I am now living in a colder climate--ones that actually fit, given that I shrunk out of most of my clothing!  And I am thankful for a generous contribution toward getting a new mattress to replace the one I purchased for me back in 1995, something that should help me sleep better.  These are a sampling of the gifts I received this year.

But, honestly, I think the most Christmas of gifts that I received were a bag of plastic spoons and the promise of forks to follow.  Panera spoons and McDonald's forks.  Ethel, learning of the utensils that best fit my needs, set out on a quest to get me some.  A couple of donations later, she made my life truly better.

Jesus came not to steal, to kill, or to destroy, but so that we might have life and have it abundantly (John, 10:10).  To me, while it is certainly no sin to enjoy the good things of this life, the kind of gift I think of when I think of a Christmas gift truly is a bag of plastic spoons and a box of plastic forks.  Not just any type of spoon and fork, but the very ones that fit my hands and my mouth best, that are easiest for me to use.  Eating is more palatable, more enjoyable, a richer, fuller experience for me when I use them.

Frankly, I would never have thought to ask for a donation of spoons and forks.  I would always bring one home when I went to Panera or McDonald's, but eating out is really not all that much of an option after 13 months of unemployment.  However, I wouldn't have ever thought a manager would be willing to share extras without eating there.  To be honest, I would never have thought I was worth a donation.  I mean, I can eat with metal utensils and I can purchase plastic ware from Target or Walmart, even if they are not the best fit.  I am not worthy of a donation. Not at all.

I was not, am not, worthy of any of the gifts of Christmas, the gifts of Christ's birth, life, death, and resurrection.  They are given because I am loved beyond measure, cherished more than I can fathom.  They are given out of a desire that I might have an abundant life.  But, still, I think who am I to receive good gifts?  After all, I know what a wretched sinner I am. I wish I didn't know just how wretched I am.

Yet Ethel sees not only the wretch.  She sees me as the bride of Christ, one robed in splendor, pure and without certainly worthy of good gifts.  She sees me not as I do. I would never think to ask.  Ethel's first thought was to ask.  If there is something that is helpful to me, something that would make my life more abundant after a fashion, her wish is for me to have such a thing showered upon me.

I opened the package from Fred and Ethel, pulled out the bag of spoons, and laughed with joy.  In that moment, once again, I was reminded how my Creator knows my needs and seeks to meet those needs through others of His creation...even when I do not think to ask...even when my heart's desire is not spoken. I was reminded that He does so because I am loved and cherished, because in Christ I am pure and without blemish.

Forks and spoons are the things of Christmas.  I know this to be true even if the world does not.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Once in a blue moon...

Admiring your work in a prideful way is not always such a bad thing.  By this I mean, if you were out of vinegar for cleaning your attic floor and dish washing soap for your kitchen and were loathing a trip to the store and you were in the middle of admiring your organizing work in the basement after moving the cloths from the washer to the dryer and noticed a bottle of vinegar and a bottle of dish washing soap in your overflow shelf for supplies just waiting for you, then that bit of pride is not so bad, eh?  Once in a blue moon, that is.

Of course, that means there is no excuse to skip the day's session of attic floor cleaning.  And, well, it would be better if you could remember that you had such supplies yourself.

Supplies and toothpaste.  Someone I know might possibly have four spare tubes of toothpaste at the moment because she keeps forgetting she has it and instead has this nagging feeling that she's out of toothpaste each time she is at the store.

Idiots never read the instruction manual...

So, I used the other half of the can of Easy-Off and have been scrubbing away for an hour.  All that effort revealed two words on the bottom of the oven, which are a part of a longer message: "clean" and "manual."

I do have the manual.
I never read it.
I am an idiot.

This GE Americana stove was state-of-the-art in its time.  The thing even has a built-in meat-thermometer and a built-in rotating spit, along with other extra special tools I have yet to figure out.  The reason only the bottom oven has a Clean Mode is that the panels in the top oven are designed to be pulled out and placed in the bottom oven for cleaning.

I repeat.
I am an idiot.


Will wonders ever cease...

Golly gee wilikers!  I must not be the only one who has problems with nearly destroying the bottom of her oven!  There are an array of folk out there selling the very solution to my problem: oven liners!  You place one of these non-stick rectangles into the bottom of your oven and just wipe up all your spills.  Truly, will wonders ever cease?!?

Do you think there is an easy solution out there for people who tend to cook more charcoal meals in their ovens than edible ones????

Friday, December 23, 2011

Reducing victory...

Today, I finished tackling the attic/basement reducing and organizing.  By that I mean that I reached my goal of having just one section of stuff in the attic and all the office and teaching supplies in the basement, where I might eventually bring myself to reduce them further.  Doing so meant that I had to reduce the basement by two more boxes.  I have included two sets of before-and-after photos below.

Here you can see that this section of the attic is now completely empty.  You can also see my progress on cleaning the floor.

The strip all the way to the left is where the boxes were, so it is completely filthy.  The strip at the top is actually clean, but it has not been treated with orange oil the way that the bulk of this section of the floor has been.  The light colored board at the top is a section that had been replaced. I would like to stain it, but really I need a better piece of wood there.  Aren't the floors looking rather nice???

Here you can see what is left of my attic "stuff."  I rotated the storage bins so that I could add the two clear bins, the printer, the box of books, and the ceiling fan box to this section.  One of the smaller green bins has the paperback books I chose to keep, as does the red box.  I reduced five boxes of books down to just two.  [Remember I had built-in book shelves at my last house, so I am down a book shelf.]  You can also see how dirty the floors are, especially if you compare them to the clean section in the photo above!

As to my floor project, I need to purchase more orange oil and some more rags.  I temporarily moved the braided rug to the flowered rug, since I have made the executive decision that I am not going to clean the floor beneath the flowered rug.  I also think that I might not even clean the floor beneath all the stuff left, but will leave that section until I move. Since they have been dirty all this time, I cannot see how that would be harmful to the floors.

Mostly, I just want to be able to walk about my attic, with my puppy, and have both of us come back down as clean as we were when we went up there.  Right now, if Amos were to slip up there, he'd come back gray again, for he would be sure to sit down and lie down on the dirty section in all sorts of directions so that perhaps only his head was left white.

Part of why I wanted all the paper/office supplies/professional/educational stuff in the basement was so that I could eventually go through it all again.  I mean, I did reduce my desk boxes from three to one (not that I really think I will have a desk at a job again).  And I did give away a total of seven boxes of office supplies.  [I am a tad chagrined to admit that I could easily give away more.]  But primarily I wanted it all together so that I might contemplate tacking both the professional and educational stuff.

I realized, the night before last, while weeping a bit into my pillow, that the reason I am holding onto all those ancient research articles is that if I throw them away, I will feel like I am throwing away my Ph.D.  Mostly, I feel as if I am the only one who cares that I got it.  And, mostly, I feel like a failure for I barely used it.

I was a good teacher.  I know that.  It is one skill that I know God gave me.  But I stink at being political and from elementary school to college, surviving in education oft takes great political skill.  And, well, I really do stink at being a human being.  That also played a part in my instructional failure.  I know.  But I loved teaching.  I loved the Mother-Daughter book club I ran all those years after I left the educational world.  And I secretly loved being able to teach my co-workers the things they needed to know about their computers and printers.  Being Dr. So and So meant something to me.  But not so much to anyone else.  And so I keep hauling around dozens of boxes of binders of research and professional books.

In truth, I could probably reduce the entire top shelf, if I took the binders of lesson plans and put those ideas into my computer as a project.  Of the bottom two shelves, I would imagine I could get that down to one shelf, if not less than a shelf.  The middle two shelves are mostly a mixture of professional work, personal writing, family history, Mother-Daughter book club materials, literacy lessons, and stuff about the house and the car.

If I were able to be brave and a tad ruthless with my silly emotions about much of these things, I might be able to reduce this enough to move all the paperback books from the attic to part of this bookshelf.  That would be a good goal.  When I was reducing the paperback books (some I sort of wish I had back), I kept out three to read!  I really do miss those friends of mine all cooped up in the attic.

After the oven failure, I wanted some success.  Last night, I had reduced the books while talking with Bettina as she worked at her cleaning job.  [She's going on vacation, so my productivity is sure to decline.]  With those boxes of books and all the other things I pulled to donate, my car is full again.  Part of me is irritated that I paid to move all the stuff I have donated and reduced.  But I try to remember that aside from some help from my writing student and Sunshine, I packed up the entire house myself.  And, well, I suppose most 44-year-old have stuff, stuff, and more stuff.  I should concentrate on how very much less stuff I now have.  Much, much, much less!

Amos does not appreciate when I work in the attic, since I will not let him go back up there until the floor is cleaned.  His howls of lonesomeness echo those in my own heart, so they are hard to hear.  However, when we are together once more, he spends extra time snuggling and takes naps in my lap.  If not in my lap, then he at least puts his head on my shoulder while curled up on the top of the couch behind me.  Is he not adorable?

Wednesday, while in the basement, something spooked Amos.  He came running over and started leaping up for me to catch him. When I did, he immediately crawled up to my shoulders and would not let me pull him down.  I just left him up there until I felt his quivering cease.  Then, I slipped him down into my arms and let him shower me with kisses.  That usually distracts him, and I do not much mind a bit of puppy love.  Such a good gift I was given in this puppy dog.  Truly, I am so very humbled by all the comforting he does.  Of course, I am good at comforting him right back.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Recipe for failure...


1/2 can Easy-Off spraying
1 asthma attack
2 hours of waiting
1 hour of scrubbing, including Windex and 409
1 roll of paper towels
3 hours of napping to recover
1 additional day of stiff and painful hands

An oven that went from absolutely utterly totally disgusting to merely still rather dirty and an oven owner who is both plumb exhausted and very discouraged.


A year's worth of baking and broiling things with melting cheese and dripping sauces has taken its toll on my upper oven.  It did not help that oft those cooking endeavors resulted in lumps of inedible culinary charcoal. Apparently, I do not know how to properly cook in an oven, given how disgusting it became...bottom, top, all sides, and racks.  I took before and after pictures, but they are too discouraging to post...both that I let the oven get that way in the first place and that I failed in being able to clean it.

The lower oven has a lovely little feature called: Cleaning Mode.  A few hours of unbelievably hot temperatures and...voila...a simple wiping away of the resulting ash reveals a sparkling clean oven.

Logic would dictate that I only use the lower oven.  Only using the lower oven means bending over and that  is hardly ever a good choice for someone with dysautonomia affecting her cardiovascular system.  [Translation: I'll usually either near-faint or faint.]


Sunday, December 18, 2011


Isn't this a pretty sight?

It is hard to tell, but this is a pile of 12 cleaning rags after tackling another portion of the attic floor.  The sponge mop head died after just three sessions and a very small segment of the attic floor.  I have grave doubts that the washing machine can get these clean, though I did rinse them out for about 10 minutes before putting them in for a wash.

I am wondering: would it be cheaper to just buy more rags or buy more mop heads?  The mop head was $8.73.  It is in pieces in the trash as I type this.  Some of the pieces are still up in the attic. Of course with the rags, there is the cost of cleaning them if I didn't buy enough to just toss them afterward.  I truly believe I am tackling 92 years of dirt here.  However, I do not think it is altogether crazy of me to want to be able to walk about my beautiful attic space without coming away with blackened clothing and puppy dog hair.

I was thinking, perhaps I shall not do the section of the floor beneath the one large rug I left up there if I can vacuum the rug some more?  And...........maybe..............not do the sections underneath the boxes and the carpet remnants for now? goal..........for now.............just just be the sections either I or Amos would walk upon.  Then, after recovering and reducing some more, I could tackle the last bits beneath the boxes.  Maybe leave the part beneath the rug for the next owner?  Would that be wicked of me?

After much Googling, I learned I should finish off the cleaning with Orange oil or something likewise.  I have already used 1/2 a spray bottle on the small sections I have done.  So, I shall need about two more bottles, I think.  The good news is that one of the things I have kept for a few years was a small pile of mechanic shop paper towels--the REALLY thick ones use for wiping grease--that someone gave me.  I have been using them with the orange oil stuff I have and have only used 1 and 1/2 towels.  I might just have enough for the entire floor, if I skip the section beneath the rug.  You know, for a raw attic floor, the wood is really beautiful. If I had them refinished, they would be stunning.

Yesterday was my first full day hormone free on this second pack. I ate enough small meals that my blood sugar was not a problem, but I had the worst headache thus far. I honestly believe it was because I had made great strides in the nausea and headache side effects department.  I was thinking that if it got better when I start the hormones again, my theory might valid.  I did not sleep until around 6:00 this morning, working very hard on a mind-over-matter approach to the headache.  Today, it has abated somewhat, but not gone.

Amos, being the ever loving little guy, actually woke me up for a nap to do his major business out of doors.  I thought that was mighty kind of him since just four days ago he had an accident inside without any warning whatsoever.

I was also quite ill all Thursday night and Friday. It was as if my entire mid-section was twisting into knots, riding roller coasters, and imploding all at once.  Personally, I wonder if my foe has felt he needed to change up his tactics since tears, emotional storms, and constant anxiety have all been essentially lost as a weapon against me.

Seriously, I am in love with both the makers of Loestrin and the first doctor to actually read my records and look at me from a physical standpoint, rather than see all the tears and basically ignore my ongoing physical struggles by just writing them off as stress and mental weakness.  Aside from the end of being imprisoned by emotions, I also no longer have daily bleeding, unbearable cramps, bad acne, hair loss, and problems with my plumbing during my cycle.  All of that healing from just one tiny pill!  One by one, the symptoms appeared and overwhelmed me and yet all of it was "just stress."

I hope that one of the things I do not forget is the moment the surgeon interrupted me and said, "Wait a minute.  Are you telling me you bleed nearly every day?"  When I nodded, she said, "That is not normal and that is not stress.  That is a physical problem, and I can certainly help you with physical problems.  I want to help you." Since I had been trying to get help for this for years, I told her I was concerned about my health insurance ending next July.  She look at me and very bluntly said, "If you are still having these problems next July, I shouldn't be allowed to practice medicine anymore."

Maybe I cannot really describe what her words meant and still mean to me.  It is difficult to put into words how it feels to know that you are being dismissed or even ignored medically because assumptions are being made simply because of your tears or anxiety or your past.  In a way, it is as if I have been screaming, only to have no one listen...or worse simply to be labeled the crazy one.

That is something that is hard about MS.  So often, you have wonky symptoms, things that can be debilitating, but that do not show up on standard tests.  Since the disease, though certainly marked by common elements, runs a different course in different people, you often spend a lifetime of being dismissed by doctors, searching for help you know is there.

This had nothing to do with MS, but it was the same experience.  Clearly, I needed hormones!  Clearly, I have needed them for several years now.  Clearly, this need has had a profound effect on my life.  But the treatment I needed was not given--dare I say was not even considered--because of assumptions made from seeing my tears and trembling and terror.

Don't get me wrong, I am still struggling with the effects of PTSD and still have many hard things to face, but the emotional storms are gone, as is the absolute desperation that accompanied any emotion and near constant anxiety.  The other day, the person helping me was noting the remarkable change in me over the past eight weeks, how even this week was better than the last, and observed that I have been battling such overwhelming and abnormal levels of emotions for so long that I do not know how to handle normal feelings, like being sad over giving Sam and Madeleine away, anymore.  In a sense, I have to learn about feelings all over again.

Thursday, I had my first real test of public frustration whilst on the hormones.  The bags from Africa that I use all the time to carry my things to appointments and church and such are being repaired.  Both had straps break.  They were to be ready on Wednesday, but I waited an extra day to pick them up.  Since it is a bit of a drive to the cobbler, I had asked to be called if there was some sort of delay and was assured that if that were the case I would surely get a call.  When I arrived, neither repair had even been started.  I was frustrated at both the lack of repair and the lack of a phone call to save me the long trip (and waste of gas).  There was no Dell or Verizon moment.  No yelling.  No weeping.  No raised voice.  No meltdown.  No shame.  I did have to take a breath and work to remain relatively calm (I certainly was no model of equanimity at that moment), but I did achieve that and did not find myself trapped in wild emotions then or later.

I suppose you could say, right now, the only true desperation I feel is over not being able to conquer the headaches enough to stay on the Loestrin long term.  Because I NEVER want to go back to that prison. I never want to be bound by those infernal emotional storms ever again. I never want to be trapped in my own body again. Never.

Fred and Ethel have been praying with me for grace in this.  I want to be able to stay on the medication, but I also want to be able to face the possibility that I may have to give it up. I wonder, to put it bluntly, if I do have to give up the medication and find myself back in that terrible place, knowing that it is a result of my body and not my mind will be enough of an edge to hold on to even a tiny measure of control.


Well, Firewood Man and his mate just left.  With this last load of wood, they also brought me several bundles of kindling they thought I might like and used these old wooden boxes that are nailed to the garage wall to store the kindling.  Such kindness!  So, I am off to build a fire and get in some serious snuggling time with Amos.  I shall watch a little football, work on a bit of writing, listen to some Sugarland, play a bit of Monopoly, pray the headache eases enough for an earlier slip into my daily spate of slumber, and continue to dance about in my heart for the freedom I currently have.

Truly, this freedom is what makes still battling other illness much, much, much more bearable.  For the moment, at least, I have a measure of victory.  That is yet another gift my Good Shepherd has given me with this move to the middle of nowhere.

I am far away from my best friend. I am alone in a town I still have not a clue how to navigate.  And I have not worked in more than a year.  However, I am living in a beautiful home I purchased the help of a realtor who has continued to "serve" me, with an incredibly affectionate puppy, in a town where I have found help on two fronts, physical and mental, with weather that has allowed me to enjoy more time outdoors than I have in well over a decade, Firewood Men who treat me so kindly, and a new friend who moved in a block away and who has, thus far, not found me too weird or too exhausting or too anything.  Heck, Sandra's promised to go with me to Chili's for a chocolate shake soon!

Oh, yes, I also have that beautiful pocket edition of my beloved Book of Concord Fred and Ethel gave me so that I might always have a copy on hand.  What more could a girl want?  Especially one who has a sufficient stock of Dr Pepper in her basement at the moment?

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Now that's just silly...

I cannot resist...

The Rev. Jessie Jackson is teaching that Jesus was an "occupier."  Now that is just silly!

The sweet, sweet Gospel is not about civil rights or cultural change.  The sweet, sweet Gospel is about Jesus.  Period.  End of story.

Jesus, being Emmanuel, being God-with-us, is about how God came to earth to fulfill the Law since we, born of sin, could not.  Jesus tabernacled among us, as John puts it, to live and die that we might die and live in Him, rather than in ourselves.  For His sake, we are counted righteous and escape the wrath and judgement our sinful lives would normally incur.

Jesus did not come to change Jewish Law or Roman Law or any type of civil or cultural laws.  He did not come to break the Law.  He came to uphold the Law.  By that very act, He was not living a life of civil disobedience or advocating for civil or cultural change!  By that very act, there is no way that He could be termed, labeled, judged an occupier!

When Jesus walked this earth, He did not heal everybody or wipe out all illness.  When Jesus walked this earth, He did not redistribute wealth or wipe out poverty.  When Jesus walked this earth, He did not set all captives free or ban slavery.

What Jesus did do was teach the truth, correct and condemn the things of man that had crept into the things of God (false teaching), take all sin upon Himself, suffer God's wrath and judgment in our place, die and rise again for us, and leave to prepare a place for us in heaven.

We live in a sinful world.  Jesus knew and understood that.  Until He returns again, there will always be poverty, illness, immorality, theft, murder, graft, corruption, and the like.  The sweet, sweet Gospel is not about changing those things.  The sweet, sweet Gospel is about Jesus coming for us, for me, for Myrtle, so that you and I might have eternal life.

Leaving the Holy Spirit to heal and save, guide and teach us, Jesus gave us the opportunity to serve His flock through our stations and vocations of life.  Even as a slave.  Even as a homeless veteran.  Even as a terminally ill child.

My writing partner, a woman who is most skilled at giving the sweet, sweet Gospel in such gentle and loving and simple ways, has been teaching me a bit about witnessing. I think the most marvelous bit is that what we testify to is not ourselves, our lives, our works, or our faith, but the self (the God-Man) of Jesus, His life, His work, His faith.  We have faith because it is a gift.  We receive that love and mercy and forgiveness and healing.  Even if we are a slave.  Even if we are homeless.  Even if we are dying.  So, well, even in the despair and anguish and confusion of the past year, I was still witnessing.  In fact, I was a good witness.

I quote this bit of the Christian Book of Concord all the time. Perhaps it really is my favorite bit, if by favorite, we narrowed down to a top 10 List...okay...a top 100 List.  I like it because it is absurd.  I like it because it is profound.  I like it because it is simple.  I like it because it is the mystery of God:

In order to retain the Gospel among people, He openly sets the confession of saints against the kingdom of the devil and, in our weakness, declares His power.  ~BOC, AP, V, (III), 68

What is my confession?

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy catholic church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting. civil disobedience there.  No woe is my lot.  No need to change the community, the government, the world.  Just God the Father, who created us and sent His Son to save us, Jesus and what He does for us, and the Holy Spirit and what He brings and gives and does for us. Our triune God does all of this for us just as we are...sinful, broken, anguished, arrogant, confused, deluded, egocentric, selfish, despairing, struggling, wretched human beings.  This is because it is not about us, about our faith or our works. It is about Jesus.  Our worth is not in what we do, but in who we are.  So, Jesus is about God cherishing His creation, longing to be restored to us even though we are sinners, and sending His Son so that we are made righteous and holy and can be in His presence once more.

Receiving faith, being forgiven, living in grace, having mercy poured out upon you...well, that very well might make you love and tend to your neighbor, give to the poor, comfort the ill, visit the imprisoned.  The Holy Spirit bears fruit in our lives and sometimes that fruit can change just us, those in our immediate vicinity, or even a corner of the world.

But Jesus is not about that, is not about the fruit of the faith given to us, not about the ways in which God tends to His creation through His creation.  Jesus is about the Law, respecting the Law, recognizing our inability to keep it so that we might be spared condemnation and eternal death, and living that Law in our place, keeping it for us.

So, with all due respect, Rev. Jackson, you are wrong.  Jesus is not an occupier.  Jesus is a Mediator, an Advocate, a Sacrifice, A Propitiation, a Redeemer, a Savior.  He is all those things precisely because, in love, He came not to destroy or change or set aside the Law, but to fulfill it for you, for me, for us all.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

There has to be a way...

I returned two un-opened bags of millet and purchased a universal sponge mop head.  Four buckets of steaming hot soapy water later, the very small area at the top of the stairs (perhaps 10 square feet) is still dirty.  The water in the bucket turned black immediately.  And got blacker and blacker and blacker.  I emptied it and washed the same area again.  And then I did the same.  And a fourth time.  The floor in that area is still dirty.

There has to be a way that I can clean it.  I just do not know what that way is.

Do I get brownie points for stopping after 45 minutes, when fatigue was clearly setting in?
Am I strange that I want my attic floor to be relatively clean so that I can walk on it without tracking dirt everywhere?
Is there a way that I can clean it?


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A funny thing from today...

The vet tech said that when he came up to the porch and heard Amos barking, he thought that I had an attack dog and was a bit nervous.  When he saw my little fluff ball, Brian got down on his knees and said, "You sure present yourself a lot bigger than you are, little fellow!"  Amos barked at him and wagged his tail very furiously in agreement!

It's done...

This is so hard.
Very, very hard.

It did not help that his first comment was: They are so adorable!  How can you let them go?

Of course, I was heartened that he found my birdie babies adorable.  They are!  And he immediately apologized and said that it was very brave of me to recognize that I could not really keep up with their care.  I know.  I know that they are going to the best home possible.  And I know that my giving him the cage and carrier and playpen and all of their food and stuff made it possible for him to have the birds, since vet techs are not paid all that much.  This is a good thing...for all involved.

It just hurts.

Here is my coping mechanism for the night.  After all, when you are sad, it is always best to simply go for the chocolate.  I bought these yesterday after setting up a time for him to come fetch my babies.

Already the house is so very empty.


A long day I wish were over...

I cleaned the bird cage for the last time.  All of Sam and Madeleine's things are stacked upon the deacons' bench: travel carrier, play pen, cover, food, supplies, and millet container.  Seeing it all was very upsetting, waves of sadness washing over me.

To distract myself, I worked in both the attic and the basement a bit more.  After some re-organizing and reducing, I have two less boxes in the attic and two less boxes in the basement.  I also pinned up some personal things on a bulletin board I had hung on the wall above one of the office supplies shelves: a cross from a friend, a ladybug ornament, a Christian "fish" key chain from high school, the only Farside cartoon I have ever understood (Bettina sent it to me), and framed card Bettina sent me that represents our friendship.

So, here I am waiting again...nothing to distract me.  In an hour or so, my birds will be with their new owner and I shall be left with a hole in my heart and in my life.  


I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!


Amos has this thing in which I take great delight and would count one of his greatest puppy therapy practices.

He is, of course, rather adorable whilst sleeping, especially curled up on a cushion, stretched out along on the back of the couch, or draped upon a pile of pillows.  Often, I watch him, curious about what dreams are driving the micro movements in his limbs and filled with such love for this creature my Good Shepherd brought into my life.  Sometimes, watching him will cause Amos to wake.  He will look at me.  I will look at him.  He will look at me more, as a smile breaks across my face. He will wag his tail but once.  Then a second time.  I will look some more.  He will adjust his body so as to get a better angle on looking back at me and wag his tail several times.  Joyous laughter over his adorable tail wagging and all the countless ways he keeps me company and comforts me will burst forth.  Amos will then start wagging his tail most furiously and inch forward to cover my face with kisses, timing each swipe with each wag of his tail.

Thumping his stump is what I call it.

Perhaps a good description of this process is like popcorn in a microwave.  A pop here.  Then another one.  A third and fourth and fifth.  Soon, counting becomes too difficult.  Then the explosion of popping that is no longer the sound of individual pieces of corn, but rather a glorious symphony of impending culinary joy (if you are Bettina that is...I care not for popcorn, especially since I am all but guaranteed to burn it).

Over the past year, my Good Shepherd has showered me with great mercy, even as I have faced the darkest of times.  I am beginning to think it was no accident that one of His greatest gifts of mercy came on February 14th, a day I have long hated for how much more alone it makes me feel. Alone and unloved.

Yes, this is but only one of the ways in which I am besotted with my puppy dog. I am utterly taken by the fact that merely gazing upon his person will result in a glorious symphony of love and affection for me.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Doing the right thing is so very hard...

The biopsy was negative.  Christ be praised!


Why is it that oft the right things are so very hard to do?  I have been thinking on a matter for a couple of months, have spoken about it for a while, and am now facing its reality.  Tomorrow night, I will be giving away Sam and Madeleine.

See Sam?  He's leaning forward to come for a visit.  Madeleine is away up top, always in the back ground, always watching what's going on.  Sam?  He's the flirt; he's the friendly one who just wants to hang out.

I have known for a while now that caring for birds is something at which I am no longer excelling.  It is not unusual for me to discover their water is dirty.  It is not unusual for me to find their food bowl completely empty.  And their cage has not been as clean as it should be for the past year.  I forget. I forget to tend to them.  Amos, well, he can tell me if he is hungry or thirsty.  But Sam and Madeleine do not.  Each time I have found that their needs have gone unmet by my own inadvertent neglect, my heart has become a bit more distressed over them.  Cockatiels can live a long, long time if cared for.  But all birds are fragile creatures or all small birds are. Their metabolisms are so fast that they have to be carefully monitored and tended.  My brain, the changes therein, no longer allow me to do so.

As I said, I started thinking about giving Sam and Madeleine a while ago, wondering if I was being a bit dramatic about finding the dirty water or the empty bowl and wondering if I could actually watch them being carried out the door.  Mostly, I know I am not wrong about them needing better care.  And I know that this will be a very, very, very hard right thing to do.

After thinking about it, I started talking to myself.  I know.  Strange.  However, I wanted to rehearse actually talking about it with others. To hear the words in my own ears.  They were hard and scary for me.  I do believe, however, that the Loestrin is, in part, responsible for me taking the next step of starting to ask around, to see if I might find them a good home.

I could sell them. I could sell them and the cage and the carrier and the playpen and the food and get a significant amount of money. However, more important than money to me (even with all these blasted medical bills) would be knowing I am placing them in a home where they would still have significant amount of time outside of the cage and have copious amounts of interaction, where they would be pets, not ornaments, as birds sometimes can be.

My Good Shepherd has showered me with truly unfathomable mercy by bringing a young man who has longed for his own birds.  He used to work at the zoo and is now a vet tech at a local clinic.  He is very excited about them and has asked permission to transition them to a more natural diet (a very good thing but more work).  Not only will they continue to have a fair amount of freedom, they will truly have better care than I can even give them now, much less in the years to come.

Truly, were I to put a list of qualities and experience together, I could not have come up with a better person other than, perhaps, an aviary veterinary.  His experience at the zoo, his friendship with the vet there, his current job, his genuine longing to own birds, and his desire to transition them to a natural diet all make up the perfect person for Sam and Madeleine.

Sam, being such a skinny little fellow, will have a hawk's eye on his person to ensure he keeps his slight girth up.  Both of them will be cherished.  I am fairly certain that Brian will woo Madeleine to be more communicative, more interactive.  I know he will do anything to make them happy and that he will want the best for them as long as they are with him.  What more could a birdie momma want?

I do feel as if in finding this caring person, who is truly all that I could wish for in a new home for my birds, God is telling me, Myrtle, you are not alone. I, too, want the best for My creation.  For them and for you.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A tad tired of cleaning...

I have done more laundry in the past two days than I have in the past two months.  Okay, perhaps not quite as much, but I am on my twelfth load.  This is it, though.  I think Amos' butter encounter is over.  Washing down pillows is much work.  SIGH.

Were the pumpkin cookies worth it?  They are mighty tasty.  However, I really am weary of washing bedding that was just washed a bit ago.  In fact, two of those 12 loads were repeats from yesterday's washing.

Bettina worked again today, so I finished cleaning four of the wire mesh stacking shelving pieces that I have from my old closets.  After 12 or so years (I think they are even older), many were sticky and sort of gross.  So, I left four soaking in hot, soapy water last night and finished cleaning them today.  Now, I have a better system in my closet for the clothes I have been wearing of late.  I would rather, though, have the bars changed directions.

Since I was in the closets, I went through my clothing and pulled out a few things.  Most of what I have is too large because of the weight loss of last year.  However, if I got rid of all the clothing that didn't fit, I would only have sweats (which are okay large) left. Is is better to go around looking like a bum or like a little girl playing dress-up?

While not cleaning-related, Bettina's productivity inspired me to file my online rebate for Amos' heart worm medication, print it out, and get it all ready to mail on the morrow.  I also made a shopping list since I am out of laundry detergent (usually, a bottle lasts months and months and months, not just a single month).  I filed a bit of paperwork.  And I went through my two antique boxes and two antique writing desks and got rid of a few more things.

Doing so did make me think about stuff.  In all my reducing, there are still things that I have kept because they sort of mean something to me, but would be mere junk to another person.  For example, I have one of my business cards from each of my jobs.  And I have my mother's written directions for how to use the VCR because she never could figure that out.  I have my name badge from the first job I ever worked.  And I have a tiny plastic dinosaur that a boy I helped years ago gave me as a thank you.  In the boxes are things like a hacky sac from when I was a camp counselor, a container of silly putty from when I was a child, and all my credit cards that I never use.  Useful stuff the latter, but nothing before that.  Tucked away in a box here or a drawer there are things that Bettina would simply throw out were she dealing with my estate.  Things that are bits and pieces of my life, but really are just tokens.

I do not remember the boy. I do not remember the face.  I do not remember the moment.  But I know it was a great one for him and for me.  So I hold onto the dinosaur, not really sure why.  A bit of plastic taking up space.

I also disconnected the rotten sponge from the mop in the basement and put it by the front door, hoping to find a replacement head for it at the store.  I thought that might be the best way to clean the attic floor.  You see, Amos snuck up there whilst I was sitting on the blackened attic steps cleaning them and he came back down all gray again.  The wretch!

I vow, though, here and now, to scrub just a small section of attic floor at a time.  None of this killing myself to clean or organize or improve or renovate or anything else.  Amos, did you hear me?  Don't let your momma be stupid again, okay?

We both had a night of dreams last night.  We are both tired from being up dealing with rejected butter. [Did you know that puppies can belch rather loudly?]  We are both thankful we have the other for company.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Call me stupid...

I wish I knew how to do things in stages.

Amos and I went to the vet yesterday for his first birthday check-up, a refill of his heart worm preventative medication, and to have him chipped.  I did not do that earlier because of the cost, but after sitting in court week, after week, after week, it seems to me I would be foolish not to take every effort to always have my puppy with me.  Fifty dollars is very cheap from that perspective.

Of course, I did not stop to think that there would dogs at the vet.
I never dreamed there would be a pit bull.

Amos, spotting dogs in the parking lot, was most reluctant to enter the clinic.  Watching his steps as I tugged on the leash, I was looking down when we crossed the threshold.  So, he was the first to spot the ENEMY BREED.  In just a few seconds, Amos had literally jumped in my arms and climbed my body until he was standing on my shoulders.  Standing whilst trembling so violently he was digging his nails into my shoulders to ensure that he stayed up there.  It was so very heart wrenching to see, to feel his fear.  I had to work hard to stuff my own down to a place where I could help him.

I took him to the farthest bench, which was at least 100 feet away from the pit bull, if not more.  The space did not matter.  Amos refused to allow me to take him down into my arms.  Taking pity upon my puppy, the staff led me straight back to a room.  Some fifteen minutes passed in that small space where we were completely alone before he stopped resisting my efforts to pull him off my shoulders and hold him against me.  I felt like the stupidest puppy momma ever.

Amos was trembling so hard that we are not positive about his weight.  Even so, none of us got it right; he is 21.2 pounds.  Still, the vet was shocked at his size.  She said he is the tallest bichon poo that she has ever seen or even heard about.  I guess Amos has got to excel at something, eh?  She thought he could stand to lose a pound to a pound and a half.  However, she was not concerned other than to tell me to get him walking about the neighborhood as soon as my foot is healed, since walking is different than playing and very good for a dog.  I could not really explain how if my foot were golden now, I could not walk about the neighborhood.  After all, it is very swollen today from being on it for the attic floors, two baths, and two loads of laundry, after being on it for first my appointment and then Amos'.

She is like the old vet I had in that she believes a lean dog is a healthy dog.  Kashi was only supposed to live until around 10, but he stayed with me for 15.  My old vet said she truly believed it was because I was so very careful to never let him have anything other than his prescription diet for his hepatic shunt.  Amos has no issues, but I want him around as long at possible. I hope to have him a tad trimmer by his next set of shots in May.

We made it home, both still very upset over our encounter.  Poor Amos, he did not want to be out of my sight for a second.  As for me, I wanted to DO SOMETHING.

I over did it.

Here are the photos I posted before that show the attic floor.  Remember how I wanted to get rid of all those old carpets, rugs, and remnants?  Well, that is just what I did.

Truly, I would say, from beginning to end, that I spent about 90 minutes on the project.  However, I half feel like it will be 90 days recovering!

Here you can see the finished result.  I kept the oval braided rug since it was sort of usable (though ugly).  I also kept the flowered carpet rug that you can see in the upper right photo and moved it over by the windows.  It is still fairly fragile, but I am a floral girl at heart.

Someone (hopefully NOT me) still needs to pull up the remaining nails and bits of carpet remaining beneath them.  However, I was able to pull up all the pieces and to sweep the entire floor.  In one place, there were four layers of rotting oriental rugs, some almost paper thin.

During the process, huge clouds of dirt wafted about the room.  Truly I thought I would have an asthma attack, but I did not.  I merely had to blow all the black crud out of my nose many times.  I was covered in it.  Amos was a dark grey.  We were both absolutely filthy by the time I finished.

I took a bath.  I cut Amos' hair since I had been letting him be a bit extra fluffy for some extra Myrtle comforting.  I bathed Amos.  And I did two loads of laundry of filthy clothes and towels and my other laundry since the last round.

Way back in the dark ages, when I was renovated the house I bought in Alexandria, I had to purchase construction garbage bags.  They are rather large and so thick that even nails will not poke through.  I would say they are the size of at least two yard bags.  Since, they are expensive, I kept the rest of the roll and brought it with me when I moved.

As you can see, all four were filled to the brim.  All four bags were dragged down two flights of stairs, across the  yard, through the garage, and out to the garbage bins.  I was a tad worried that the City wouldn't take them, but when I finally awoke today, they were gone.  All four of them.  All of that smelly, filthy, rotten, horrid carpets/rugs/remnants that I had actually walked upon.

But, again, I was stupid. me stupid.  Beat me up with my stupidity.  Stage an intervention.  Hello.  My name is Myrtle, and I am stupid.

Every single muscle in my body aches.  I think this is not merely because of my attic floor labors, but also because of the strain of seeing a pit bull so very close and trying to control my terrified puppy even as I was terrified myself.  Even so, I am in utter agony.  Stiff. Sore. Moving like I am 100 years old.  Maybe I am...100, that is.

This afternoon, when I was really regretting my stupidity, I crawled up to the attic and sat and stared at the bare floor for a while.  Frankly, I am glad I did this.  In my opinion, the space looks remarkably better. Do you?

I suppose I expended a bit more energy than I thought.  You see, I usually make two chalupas, but I sort of always wish I had another one.  [Remember, I am beginning to think that I am a glutton.]  Well, today I made three of them: refried black beans, grilled chicken, sour cream, mild Taco Bell sauce, and white cheddar cheese.  [I would give anything for more Trader Joe's white sweet corn.]  Anyway, just moments into my meal, I looked down at my plate, seemingly after just a couple of bites, and discovered that somehow it was empty.  I had inhaled three chalupas without notice!

Still feeling utterly weak, like a wet noodle in every part of my body, hours later, I thought I would make the pumpkin cookies since Sandra had brought me eggs and butter for them just before the migraines started.  The butter needed to be softened, so I set it out on the counter.

He did.
An entire stick.

A quiet Amos is a dangerous Amos if he is not curled up next to me.  When I realized he was gone and silent, I went looking for my puppy.  I found him in the kitchen, happily licking his chops.  The WRETCHED BEAST!  Google tells me that I may be in for a long night with Amos.  A long, messy night.

After softening another stick, I made up the cookies and successfully managed not to burn them.  [You may applaud now!!]  I bolstered my strength for the long night ahead by licking both beaters (it has be years since I did that) and then eating two cookies with a giant glass of ice cold whole milk.  I had to freeze the rest of the cookies else they ended up in my stomach this night.

You know, I am curious about portion control and the food industry.  I was only able to get 22 cookies for a mix that was for 36.  Kind of strange, eh?  I mean, I would have to be way, way better at math to figure out how many calories are in each cookie.

No matter.  I do LOVE pumpkin stuff.  Pumpkin cookies surely have high concentrations of curative properties, right?  So, soon I shall no longer be the weak old lady who took four separate naps today, so exhausted and sore is she over her own stupidness.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

If I ask you... I like Dubliner Irish cheese, please answer:

Nope, you don't.  The three times you have bought it, a "gross" popped out with the first bite, you were really, really, really glad when it was gone, and you regretted spending money on expensive cheese that turned your stomach as you tried not to waste it.

Thanks, Fred...

Court today.

Yep.  That was a treat.

Last night, after my last post, I took a shower and fainted.  ARGH.  I was very frustrated.  The headache is ever present, but very much less in magnitude.  So, I was thinking kind of positive there, for a while, and bam...another body blow.  Even with the fainting, I am holding out the hope that a balance can be found.

Anyway, Fred talked with me after court.  I think that if I had someone to distract me after court, I could handle court days better.  Certainly, Fred did a stellar job of listening to me talk in circles and acting like I was actually making sense. Of course, I haven't asked Ethel if she's changed the batteries in his hearing aid lately.

His most brilliant comment was about chicken enchiladas, only he doesn't call them that.  He calls them "those tortilla things."  Reminding me of what curative properties they hold, I came home and fired up the grill.  Yes, all four pieces came off perfectly.  Poultry Perfection!  I then minced one piece, assembled the enchiladas, and put them in the oven with eight timers.  Seriously, I used eight.  This weekend, when I was so ill, I burned three meals.  SIGH.

So, I am now happily chowing down on enchiladas and not drowning in the ugliness that is this pit bull attack restitution situation, thanks to Fred.  I suppose it would not be too bad if I mention the woman purposely sat in front of me again and kept whispering about what a joke this all was and that she would never be made to pay....

I also came home and lit a fire. I was so ill that I did not watch television for three days and am only having my second fire in a week.  I missed them.  As for my television, after three years, I am now its proud owner.  With the interest free payments, I opted to just do a little a month, so I could earn my own interest in what I would have paid initially.  Three years later, I am still awed, at times, that I have this beautiful television that I can see, even with my poor-vision days.  Do you think I should celebrate with a sci-fi mini-marathon?  I could watch all 13 episodes of Firefly and then its conclusion in the movie Serenity....

Amos, being a year old now, is getting weighed on the morrow.  How big do you think the Beast will be? The winner will get as much bacon and deviled eggs as he/she desires on a visit to the Myrtle B&B here in Fort Wayne. Since I think I should win, I am putting my entry in at 24.4 pounds.

Thank you, Fred, for being Christ's mercy to me today...for reminders of good things, from chicken enchiladas to liturgy, and for your oh, so gentle talk on just how it is that even my body could be a good gift from God.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

If I ask you...

...where my gloves are (the ones I have lost three times while trying to find them), please answer:

They are in the basket on the kitchen counter, so you can easily grab them when taking Amos outside or shoveling snow.  You know, the one where you started keeping your blood sugar monitor that you kept losing, too.

Thanks, Bettina...

Bettina calls me whilst she is working her night job, since she is all alone cleaning.  I keep her company and all her industrious labors help me find little bits of energy for small spates of productivity, usually the dishes piled up in the sink or the laundry that has yet to be folded.

Tonight, I called a company about an error in a return refund.  Oh, the thought of dealing with customer service was exhausting in and of itself.  I was going after $2.51 and wondered if I should do so.  Bettina quickly pointed out that if the roles were reversed, the company would go after me for the same amount.  Good thing I called.  My math was wrong. [Yes, you can snicker that I would even be surprised at that.] I ended up with a refund of $11.39.

If you recall from the photos of my basement organization, I had a filing basket that I had emptied of 11 months of piled-up paperwork.  Left was a purple folder of all my medical bills because I had one I thought was paid a couple of months ago, but the doctor's office said was not.  I wanted to verify the expense, which meant going through the folder.  I did discover the error was mine and wrote out a check, but I also updated my spreadsheet of medical expenses for 2011.  Surely I should not owe a penny in taxes with 49% of my "income" being medical expenses!

And, well, I got down and picked up all the paper Amos had shredded and strewn about the living room.  I love my fluff ball puppy, but I would sure like it if he were not so very prone to littering.  SIGH.

Having spent the past two weeks doing ever so little other than being afraid and being rather ill, it was nice to be able to end the day with two lingering matters addressed.

Thanks, Bettina!

A bit reluctant...

I crowed over Amos' potty achievements and ended up having him poop on my excitement, so I am a bit reluctant to write this.  Only I have been trying to do a better job of keeping up with my "memory." So, I shall say that this early morning came and went with no terrible illness, no writhing, dizziness, erratic heart beat, nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, or vomiting.

I did not sleep until 6:00 AM, so worried was I about going through that again.  Waking thrice, I slept until 3:45 PM.  Amos was quite confused about going back to bed after his "morning" meal at noon, but he finally fell back asleep, as did I.

My head still aches, but the pain is a shadow of what it once was. While I would much rather be pain free,  I am relieved greatly. I am also a bit dizzy.  Mostly, I have been resting on the couch watching Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (I have never seen it or the last two movies).  Amos has taken advantage of my lack of supervision to shred the Chico's catalog that came in the mail.  The living room looks like it snowed inside.  My rascal puppy does not understand that even on my best days, bending over makes me either near faint or faint.  Getting down on the floor to try and pick up all the pieces whilst sitting means Amos thinking I am there to play.  He is good at tackling me...quite strong for a fluff ball puppy. SIGH.

After skipping my second Theophylline dose last night, this morning I took 200 mg less than my prescription, because I still have some pills from the last prescription change. I was worried cutting it by half might mean more fainting, as I try to figure out how much to dial back the Theophylline while on the Loestrin.

Well, I just took the dreaded pill.  Nine more days to go to the lower dose, if I can continue on this trend of the lesser headache, the more manageable misery.

Now back to shivering on the couch, though I do so in victory.  With an extended period of chanting encouragement, Amos just tended to his need outside so we shall both not have to endure any timeouts this evening.  My beloved puppy is already conked out on the couch with me, so exhausted is he from covering every inch of the back yard four or five times before finally finding the right spot. With an ice pack on my head and a heating pad on my stomach, I am off to finish finding out what happens to Harry Potter.  After all, it is not as if I can actually remember reading the books.  SIGH.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Falling snow is not snow...

I rejoiced at the falling snow.  Prematurely.

Amos explained that falling snow is just like rain.  He had two long timeouts before doing his business tonight.  Poor little puppy.  Someone should rescue him from his wretched mother.

Well, I did not take the Theophylline tonight.  I am hoping that might make a difference.  This morning, I very nearly rang up Sandra to tend to Amos while I took myself to the ER.  Each night had been worse, but early each morning has been more so.  Not the headache, that eases about 4:00 AM.  But my heart goes wonky, terrible stomach cramps and nausea and dizziness set in, and I cannot even walk some time between 6:00 and 7:00.  Crawling to the bathroom because of dire plumbing issues also is not my idea of fun. The misery becomes bearable some time around 10:00 or so and I fall back asleep.  Amos, who has been so very comforting in my illness of late, doesn't understand that my stomach cramps are so bad that I cannot have him draped across any part of my torso. 

Of course, if you had the little guy above waiting for you or the one sharing the pillow, would you not mind crawling back into bed?  I find it humorous that he loves to sleep with his beloved Flower.  I really ought to figure out a way to cut it open so that I can replace the broken squeaker without causing a weak spot that Amos can then use to disembowel this particular baby.

This morning, when I was weeping in fear over how weak I was and how erratic my heart was hammering in my chest, Amos started snoring. There I was, wondering if perhaps a dire thing might be happening to me and I burst out laughing at the snuffle, snort snoring filling my ears.  I find one of the blessings of my Good Shepherd is to bring me a fluff-ball puppy dog who snores like a giant St. Bernard or some other large dog.  For that matter, he snores just like a real giant might.  Joy in the midst of pain.  Joy in the midst of fear.  How complex is this life that our Creator gives to us?

Still, truly, I should stop taking Loestrin.


I really do not want to give up the medication. I want something to work.  Five separate very troublesome issues have been resolved by this one little pill, not to mention that if the headaches were under control, it would get me out of surgery.  Surely there is some way to take the mixture of hormones without such risk to my health.  Surely there must be.

The surgeon was in surgery all day.  Imagine that.  Someone is calling to talk with her in the morning for me.  My job is to be honest about how the night and early morning go.  Today, this early morning, I was the sickest I have ever been by far.  Sometimes I get afraid when I get so ill and weak.  This morning, I was terrified.  Of course, I did think about that ambulance fee.  There was no way I would have been driving myself.  Plus, there is the thing that by early afternoon, I begin to feel normal (well, normal for me).  These days, four or five hours out of each 24 are not miserable.

I feel sort of strange saying so, but it seems like my foe has stepped up his he was livid at a pill making such a difference for me and had to twist it into something that harms me further.  Like he did not care for my freedom from tears or the ability it gave me to talk about things still left unspoken.  A bit of courage in a bottle...actually, more like a restoration of the person I used to be.

Ethel is looking for a foot orthopedist for me.  I want to spend the money I do not have on my current issue, but my foot is not much better and in some ways worse.  However, if I only have less than 7 months of health insurance now, I need to see if there is any help for me.  Of course, what kind of specialist is going to like my request to help me without taking an MRI:  Gee, Mr. Doctor Man, will you practice dark ages medicine on me?

It is really frustrating that I could turn around, smash my foot into the door frame, and do such a bang up job of ruining it.  It is even more frustrating to think that most likely I have had the problems I have had for over four years because of a dearth of hormones and yet no one thought to look at the physical.  Not even when I asked, different doctors, if my hormone levels could be checked, if blood work for that could be run.  It is soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo  wonderful having a doctor who does not tell you: "I'm sure it is just stress." or worse still: "Women's bodies do not handle stress as well as men's bodies do."

No Theophylline.  The headache is still bad, though not migraine level.  However, I can breath easier.  I fervently hope that I shall not awake so ill again in the early morning hours.  I pray that the surgeon and the one calling her can come up with a plan to keep both the benefits of the hormones and the benefits of the Theophylline in my life...without spending most of each day in physical misery.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

I am not a doctor...

I am not a doctor, but I am fairly sure I know at least part of what is going on.  And if I am right, it feels like I have to chose between one life of misery and another.

The headache has gone from I-absolutely-wish-to-die to merely-nearly-unbearable.  I stopped taking the Excedrin for migraine since it has the caffeine. I also managed the herculean task of only having one Dr Pepper each day with a half a glass of tea to reduce my caffeine intake as well.  I still would like to excise a portion of my brain directly behind my left eye, but at least I am no longer trying to figure out which of my Henkels knives would do the job.

You see, Loestrin affects the absorption of theophylline.  Caffeine affects the absorption of theophylline.  That is why I had to give up my most beloved Midol, the ONLY medicine that made the agony of my monthly cycle lessen enough to breath and pant and curl in a ball my way through it instead of throwing myself under a train.  Mostly, that beloved of drugs took that all important edge off for me.  I really do have a very high tolerance of pain.  It was hard to give it up.  I actually had to throw away my bottles (yes, I had them at work, at home, and in the car) just so I wouldn't be tempted.

But if you remember, there was that last Midol-chain-popping fiasco where I ended up at the ER.  Stomach cramps.  Dizziness. Blinding headache.  Trouble breathing.  Strange nausea.  [And the unmentionable plumbing issue I am leaving out of my discussion.]  Hmm...sound familiar?  I do not know how Loestrin works, but I take it at 6 PM and the difficulties do not skyrocket until after I take my nightly dose of theophylline.

[I have the world's most reactive/sensitive body when it comes to certain medications.  I wish I could see some value in that.]

Stopping the additional source of caffeine made a difference.  A truly significant difference.  I shall still place my pitiful call to the surgeon, but I think the true test would be to skip my second dose of Theophylline tomorrow night and if I am better, skip the morning dose and see if the following evening is still better.  I would like to have a Theophylline blood level check, but really it needs to happen at 11:00 PM, a little while after my second dose, and what lab is open then?

If I am right, what then? Stop the medication that greatly affects my health and quality of life?  Or stop the other medication that greatly affects my health and quality of life?  SIGH.

I need a personal chemist.
And an ice maker.

For the record, though this has nothing to do with my distress over the fact that I really do strongly suspect I am not going to be able to keep taking both drugs, I am a cruel, horrible, abusive, terrible, wretched puppy mom.

I was not about to have Amos poop inside tonight.  Even. Though. It. Is. Raining.

Yes, that is right, I FORCED my puppy to poop outside, in the dark, in the rain, on cold, wet grass.  He understands the timeouts I give him after he refused to do his business when I KNOW he needs to do so.  [When we come back inside after a lack of productivity, I leave him in the kitchen ALONE with only his bed AWAY from me for 15-30 minutes depending on my anger level.]  Usually, it takes no more than two consecutive timeouts for him to relent.  However, this evening, FIVE timeouts later, Amos gave in and pooped.

After the fourth timeout, he tried to change my mind by peeing four times to show that he was being productive.  Back he went to the kitchen while I lay on the couch once more...missing my puppy, struggling to remain deaf to his pitiful, lonely howls emanating from the kitchen.

After that fifth time out, he stood and looked at me for a long time from the bottom of the steps after peeing again.  I stared back.  He put one paw on the bottom step and looked at me some more.  I did not say a word.  He started to put a second paw forward and then stopped.  With a snort or sigh or grumble, Amos trotted down the sidewalk to the garage.  Once there, he turned and looked at me again.  I remained silent, an implacable barrier to the back door.  After another long staring contest, during which I did not look away or have a single bit of my longing to have him with me again snuggling in my arms written anywhere on my face, Amos ducked his head down between his front legs, slunk over to the bed beneath the Magnolia tree, immediately pooped, and then came bounding back to me and leapt up into my arms.

Of course, I know and you know that the next time it is raining, he will try to avoid outside productivity once more.  He is completely unrepentant in his errant belief that it is wrong to expect a puppy to poop outside in the rain.

Isn't it strange, though, that snow was a source of joy and wonder and much encouragement for outside productivity?  Tonight, after time out number three, I tried to explain that snow was actually rain in another form.  He did not believe me.  I hope it snows again soon.

And my current misery ends...with a miracle of me...of keeping both medications (or some derivative thereof with regards to the Loestrin ingredients).

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Constant companion...

Thursday's headache has never left.  So much does it love me that I now have a migraine headache for the first time.  Sandra suggested ice packs to my head, since all the medication is not helping.  In fact, the Excedrin Migraine has a high dose of caffeine that I did not notice.  A theophylline and caffeine reaction on top of a migraine...well, I am not rising to the occasion in being gracious about all this suffering.

Sandra sent over some ice and some re-freezable packs.  The ice does help sort of keep my utter desperation at bay.  I was near ready to shave my head and find the nearest guillotine this morning (Saturday morning).  I do wonder if I could just freeze my brain directly.

Of course, I shall be calling the surgeon on Monday...if I survive until ask what to do.  She did not want me changing doses until the end of the pack and she did not want me just stopping the pack.  However, I am now between that proverbial rock and a hard place.

The thing that is very, very hard to swallow in all of this is that the estrogen is making such a tremendous difference in both the wild mood swings and my daily outlook.  No longer do I feel quite the hostage in my own body.  It is rather hard to explain.  The adjective that I have been using is "settled," but that is not quite enough.  Even with the abject misery, a new low for me even with all that I have experienced, I don't want to give up the medication.

I also cannot continue much longer with the pain in my head, the throbbing behind my eyes, the way light and sound have become my enemy, too, and the nausea.  Truth be told, breathing is a taking the Loestrin for a while, but I cannot see how that could possibly be connected.  Except...the problem eases by morning.

And, well, I am still bleeding and am still in pain.  Stupid biopsy.  I told those tissue samples they had darn well better be normal.  I am not equipped to deal with anything else medical at this time.  Or...for that matter...anything else at all.


What to know something slightly humorous?  Friday morning Amos' and my head briefly occupied the same space.  My beloved puppy dog gave me the tiniest black eye.  The bruise is small, but boy, oh, boy does my orbital bone still protest life.  I wonder if his head still hurts...or if he is a tougher creature than I.

Off to down more Ginger ale and get more ice for my pack.  Does anyone know why my ice cubes are shattering as I empty the tray instead of remaining whole?  The pack would last longer if it were not merely comprised of shards.

I am Yours, Lord.  Save me!