Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Some thanks and some not...

I am thankful that both the person who helped created the HTML version of Dare to Read:  The Christian Book of Concord and the person who is hosting the free downloadable PDFs solved the broken link issue for me.  Such kindness to help someone with religious information different from their own beliefs.  I am a rather strong proponent of providing free materials.  I have been working on reformatting Luther's Commentary on Galatians into a bible study format for a long time, but I fear I will never finish it.  I am glad the BOC help has been restored.

On a different tack, I am rather unthankful for Indiana mosquitos.

The first two years or so I lived here, I thought Indiana did not have any mosquitos.  Then I learned they do exist here.  Wretched little creatures that can bite through clothing!  Three nights ago, I did a bit of weeding whilst waiting on Amos to tend to his business. I heard some buzzing, but being covered from head to toe, I thought nothing of it.  Yesterday evening, late, the itching started.  Yes, Indiana mosquitos are ones whose bites have these weird delayed reaction in me.

Somewhere around 36-40 hours later, I suddenly find I have itchy bits on my body.  I start scratching and fretting as another itchy place turns up.  Then, the itchy places turn into red splotches, with a tiny bump in the middle of them.  Those splotches then turn to large welts.  And the welts then transition into bright red spots on my skin.  IF I can manage not not scratch for a while, once the red spots appear, then I can finally have relief from the itching.  But the red spots remain itchy for a couple of weeks if touched again.  Sometimes, I can be scratching for three or more weeks per bite.

I very much dislike Indiana mosquitos.

Today, I am doing the saliva test for the integrative medicine doctor.  Four times I must fill this little tube with saliva.  An interesting task.  I had to wait because I have to send $99 with the test and needed my budget to cycle.  Then I had to wait until a weekday, because I have to freeze then overnight the samples.  Finally, I had to wait until today, because I forgot to get up early yesterday to do the test ... to be awake during the four windows of collection times.

I haven't done the blood work yet, because I am afraid much of it is not covered.  I haven't called my Medicare insurance company, because I don't understand the blood work paperwork.  I see the surgeon next week, so I thought I might just wait until then to see if she has any blood work she'd like to add to the very long list and then call.  Or be rash and just take the blood work and hope for the best.

Today starts Week Two of the Xanax withdrawal.  I am very thankful that I made it to the point and look forward to not having this drug in my body anymore.  I am still ... concerned ... what the beginning of Week Three will be like.

Such a wimp I am....

Monday, June 29, 2015

The girl who wanted curls...

Sometimes ... sometimes those early morning abrupt waking to violent nausea nearly do me in ... both physically and mentally.  I fumble for the Zofran and whimper until it starts working.  I am absolutely thankful that I have access to Zofran.  Still, just when I think I have plumbed the depths of nausea, I learn there is more still to discover.  SIGH.

This is my grand accomplishment this day. I have been rooting four branches of the giant spotted begonia for my neighbor.  Today, I planted them.  I have been wanting to do so ever since the storm blew the airing porch door open and then knocked the vase with the branches over, spilling water all over my floor.  Because I was exhausted after cleaning up the mess, I put the vase on the bathroom floor and left it.  Today, I was determined to close the loop on this tiny project.  The new plant is now waiting on my neighbor's front porch for her to find when she arrives home after work.

You can see from the right edge of the photo that I need to make more ginger water (cold tea).  I've gone through the last four quarts rather quickly.  But potting the plant made me all hot and sweaty and shaky and dizzy, so I have been resting and just thinking about making the ginger water.

Last night I got up to tend to my bodily needs and flipped the rest of the weighted blanket atop Amos.  He was so darned happy when I got back that I didn't have the heart to take the blanket back.  If not on my shoulders, Amos is most content being smushed.  Tonight, he's repaying the favor by perching on my chest.  It is a bit hard to breathe (and type), but I do feel loved and comforted.

The cardiologist emailed back this morning, agreeing that I should try the theophylline increase a second time.  Today is Day One.  It is Day Seven for the Xanax withdrawal plan.  The constant headache has been a bit worse, but the shooting pains are much better.  I ache something fierce, almost as if I am not taking Celebrex, but I try to move about and grunt and groan when that pain is difficult to bear.  The light show behind my eyelids is better.  Another week at this half dose, then down to the quarter dose. I would be lying if I said I was not worried about the day after the next reduction.  However, I don't want to turn back, no matter how hard finishing it off becomes.

Maybe ... maybe it will not be so bad.

I did finally figure out why my hair keeps getting all tangled. I have known for a while that the long-anticipated and very much welcomed grey hair has finally started to arrive on my head.  Sadly, it is at the very nape of my neck ... not where anyone can see it.  Well, as it turns out, the grey hair is curly!

Oh, my!  The things I have done over the years in fruitless and futile attempts to get my straight hair to curl.  The worse being a perm gone bad that ended up with long locks breaking off and bright orange color.  The most inconvenient being sleeping with a bonnet blow dryer all night long ... or rather hardly sleeping with a bonnet blow dryer all night long.  I've spent my entire life being the girl who wanted curls.

Anyway, the curls keep getting all tangled due to location and being weighted down with the rest of my very straight hair.  I need to figure out how to keep the curls from becoming a rat's nest.  I sure hope this means that, eventually, all my hair will be curly!

Wouldn't that be bloody fantastic?!?

Sunday, June 28, 2015


Basil Burgers.
You should go make them.

I really would like to have these more frequently, however, I need visitors to make them.  It is hard for me to work my way through four hamburgers all by myself.  Amos offered to help, but if I gave him one or two, I would never hear the end of it.

Tonight, I gave into many hints and asked my neighbor over for basil burgers.  To be honest, I did not wish to have her adult son with us, because I oft find his autism challenging.  And we were just together yesterday.  However, I knew that it would mean quite a bit to her if he came.  I decided I could live with just one leftover basil burger.  And be patient for a little while longer with regard to the awkward questions her son asks.

My neighbor brought over not one but two desserts.  So, between her gifts and the bag of mini-donuts that I bought yesterday and the I-wish-it-did-not-have-chocolate-chips pumpkin bread, I have a freezer full of dessert options once more.  It has been a while.  My neighbor's contributions were raspberry cookies (a mix) and homemade fudge.  No, I am not going to admit how many cookies I ate before the rest went into the freezer.

Her son raved over the basil burger.  Given that he lives off of pop tarts and frozen meals (his preference), I thought that perhaps I should invite them both over more frequently so help my neighbor broaden her son's palate.  I bet he would like the Chipotle Chicken Chili.  Mmmm....I think I need to have that soon!

My other neighbor made this day less pleasant, literally hacking away on my smoke bush/tree.  I work very hard to keep things pruned on her side of the yard that hang over the fence, but it has been raining and raining and raining and I had not noticed there were branches that need judicious pruning.  She very much destroyed the shaping of the bush I have been doing for three years.  I was heartsick at the sight.  Even if, legally, she could cut part of what she did (I think that is the case), I believe quite strongly that any pruning of a neighbor's trees or bushes should not take place without at least trying to have the owner take care of the matter first.

To distract myself, I worked on my symptoms calendar that I started in February, in case any doctor would like to see the daily misery.  The good part of what I did was to plan out the continued reduction of Xanax.  Even if I cannot get my prescription lowered to the .25 pills to make cutting them easier, I will have my first Xanax free day on July 20th.  And, several months later, on October 8th, I will have taken my last dose ... if the withdrawal process continues to be bearable for me.  I was heartened to have a plan, to see the days and dosages marked, and to know there is an end coming.  Despite the physical struggles it has added to my life, I am proud that I am taking only a half dose and am making my way through this challenge, even without any professional help.

Do you think that, maybe, I should reward myself in stages, instead of just at the end of the withdrawal journey?  What, for example, could I treat myself to on the 20th (or rather the 21st) for making it through my first Xanax free day??  You know, something a bit bigger than either Taco Bell or a Panera sodium fest.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Odd things...

I find it odd that, many months, by the end of the day on the 27th, much of my money for the budget cycle has been spent.  In fact, I actually placed a grocery order just after midnight, having waited since Monday to do so. You see, I am going to try the whole healthy smoothie thing (though NEVER with kale), the ones that include chia seeds and flax seeds.  More importantly, to address the slowing motility in my lower intestines, the order also included wheat bran and oat bran.  I plan on fully exploring the world of bran muffins!

Today, despite a most ferocious storm which took down trees all over Fort Wayne (sadly a beautiful one across the street was completely uprooted) and re-flooded recently cleared neighborhoods, I ventured out to tend to my errands.  My neighbor and her son volunteered to go with me.  Yes, my neighbor admired how good I looked in my yoga pants!  She also stopped to gasp at the overnight amount of rain that was in my trashcan.  Simply staggering!!

The first stop was Lowe's where I picked up an on-line order of a systemic for trees and shrubs (I think I will need a second container), yard waste bags, and a small bolt for the airing porch door.  This is the second time it has blown open and left the floor covered in water.  That beautiful antique wooden floor.  SNIFF.  SNIFF.

The second stop was to Target, where my primary goal was two-fold: 1) a return because I grabbed the wrong size and 2) paper towels.  I also used the Cartwheel app to get some groceries and household items.  Every single thing I purchased was both on sale and had a cartwheel app coupon, except for the paper towels, which only had an app coupon.  I saved over $13! I was afraid the shirt would no longer be there, as I just discovered the error when I tried to wear it for the first time, but it was.  WHEW!  You see, I had bought it with a 30% off coupon if you buy three.  Returning it would result in no money because I would lose the discount on all three of the shirts.  I had picked out the shirts by hanger size marker and forgot to check all the tags.

By the way, I learned something about the Cartwheel App: the more you use it the more opportunities you get to save.  By that I mean, as your savings total increases, so does the amount of coupon slots you can use.  I started out with 11, I believe. I just earned my 15th slot.  That means more potential savings per visit.  For example, today, I scanned the barcodes of everything in my cart and everything had a coupon, even if just 5%.

Then, we went to Walmart, where I had some additional groceries and household items to fetch.  My discipline slipped there, because I bought chips and stuff for queso.   Yes, I broke down and bought some Velveeta.  So much for being healthy.  I miss Tex-Mex with my entire being.  At all three places, my neighbor and her son fetched needed items, too, so I felt better about them going with me. My neighbor wants her adult son, who is autistic, to practice more independence.  So, she was actually happy that three times I realized we had already passed an aisle for something on my list and sent him off to fetch it.  I did end up with organic (and expensive) eggs, but I didn't say anything about them not being what I wanted.  He got the other two items correct and I didn't have to retrace my wheelchair steps.

I walked in Lowe's and in Target, but couldn't for Walmart.  I was bushwhacked, but pleased we tackled so much.  My last stop was a Panera order,  for the high sodium salad.  I used the app to order it so my neighbor son was sent in by himself to find the pick-up cupboard and bring it out.  He did splendidly and was proud of himself.

Once home, they carried everything inside save for the two bags I carted.  I quickly put away the perishables, emptied the rest of the reusable bags onto the counter, folded the bags by the back door, and sat down to enjoy my meal (and get a pick-me-up from the sodium fest).  My new goal is to have a sodium fest at least every other week.  That takes budgetary shenanigans on my part.  However, I am really saving on my shopping....

I did learn that the PDFs of my Dare to Read booklet on the Christian Book of Concord (HTML version is here) were broken.  Someone emailed back in April, but not to my regular address.  The website mail has not been used since 2011, so I stopped remembering to check it and forgot to set it up on the MAC when I got it two years ago.  I now have it set up on the MAC and am working on getting the links restored.  It tickles me that the website had had over 16,000 pages views from many countries around the world and thousands of downloads of the PDFs.  I wanted it to be a free resource and it has been.

All that technology trouble wearied me further.
I felt I deserved a Snapple.

I also find it odd, I can make a six pack last a couple of months, drinking only half a bottle at a time and being very disciplined about them.  The same goes for many other "treats."  But, for example, whenever I treat myself to Honey Nut Chex (which I did today), the box lasts only a few days. I have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without a second thought.  Or take desserts. I can leave stuff in the freezer for weeks and months and have small, infrequent portions with just about anything.  However, I will not even publicly acknowledge just how fast I can polish off a batch of Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies.  Even your most outlandish guess would not be even close.  SIGH.

And I noticed last night that, a while after I took the Xanax, my never-ending, dull headache eased somewhat.  But I am not sure that is odd.

The headache has been building all day today, with it nearing that difficult-to-ignore level.  The shooting pains are quenched by the Tylenol, but I am most definitely aware of when it is growing near the time for the next dose.  I am a bit proud, sort of pleased, and most definitely thankful that, at least, I am managing quite well, anxiety-wise, on the half dose and am able to face (without despair) the side effects of reducing my dose.  After all, I was able to write on my blog addressing sexual abuse yesterday without melting down or any significant upsettedness.  I would like to get back to regularly posting there, working through some topics I believe are important.

I didn't even feel guilty about not sharing a single crumb from my dinner with my beloved fluff-ball.
Now, Amos most definitely found that odd.
Wildly so!

We spent the evening on the airing porch.  It was so delightful ... and windy!  Sing with me ... "the answer my friend is blowin' in the wind, the answer is blowin' in the wind"!

We stayed through sunset and then some.  It was so utterly peaceful and lovely and just what I imagined summer nights on the airing porch would be.  Now, if it will only stop raining day in and day out.

What an odd spring and beginning of summer....

Friday, June 26, 2015

Taking a break...

What an incredible nurse Amos has been!  Seriously, he has been gentle with my person and quite attentive to giving comfort and letting me know of his presence (resting his head on my shoulder and giving my cheek a lick every now and then).

But even puppy dog nurses need a break every now and then!  Isn't it just weird how he can stretch himself out?  Look at his back leg!  It appears twice a long as it actually is.  I just adore my little fluff-ball.

I do not think that I wrote about one odd symptom I have been having.  When I close my eyes, a veritable light show takes place.  It almost looks like a screen saver on a monitor.  The constant moving and evolving light/shapes makes falling asleep difficult, but I have been talking myself through it, telling myself that I will be okay and that Amos is right beside me.

I know that sounds silly.  But so much of what I read talked about how the mind can drive the body in Xanax withdrawal.  And if you go on just about any Xanax or bentos withdrawal forum, you will see positive supportive comments, ones encouraging any step forward in reducing the use of Xanax and moving toward healing from the damage to your body.  No recriminations.  No tongue-lashings.  Just support and pride and encouragement and hope that each day past is another day toward a future that is benzodiazepine free.  Considering just how mean the Internet usually is now, I find that remarkable.  So, all those positive words are floating in my brain and, to be honest, helped me not go back to the full dose after the first evening.

I am still having these shooting pains and my joints ache, but acetaminophen really helps to blunt the stabbing pain.  I have had a constant, dull headache since the migraine ended.  That I am struggling with most, I think, even more so than the weird light show going on behind my eyelids.  Anything and everything is making my head ache, including my hair.  So, I have it down and free and look like a shaggy dog.  Too bad I don't have Amos' curls.

Last night, I thought about asking the surgeon to switch my prescription from .5 mg pills to .25 mg pills when I see her on the 7th.  She gave me a refill back when I first saw her, because I used to only take Xanax periodically, when, we now know, the hormone surges during ovulation would send me over the edge.  But after the pit bull attack and when the PTSD was so bad, I asked my old GP to take Xanax full time.  I did not know what I was asking and even though she said it would be hard, if not impossible, for me to get off the medication due to my sensitivity to drugs, she agreed.  Now, I honestly wished she gave me other options for anxiety medication.  Water under the bridge, though, Myrtle.

I thought I would bring my prescription bottle on my appointment and offer a trade, the old .5 mg pills for a new prescription.  You see, I would like my next step-down not to be from .25 (half my pill) every day to every other day, but from .25 to .125 (half a .25 pill).  I do not think I could accurately quarter my current pills.  If she will switch the prescription, I would do two weeks on .125 and then go to every other day and then every third day, etc.  I think that would be better for me.  If I ask, the worst that can happen is that the surgeon tells me to wait until I see my GP on the 20th.

I admit that I was awful nervous as the clock wound toward midnight.  I wondered if I would have further fall-out and was tempted to take the next dose early.  But I did not.  I am trying to be patient and to be really, really, really thankful that after the overwhelming misery of that first night, I can manage where I am at now.  Mentally, I do not feel ... down.  Mostly, I feel positive about the choice and how it is going. However, like I said, the constant headache is a burden.  I hope ... most fervently hope ... that that symptom is not one that drags on and on and on like so many folk talk about the protracted withdrawal from Xanax can be.

On a different note, if you are at all interested in other's home renovations, I would highly recommend that you check out the rather impressive and highly economical makeover this couple gave their kitchen.  I was surprised and inspired to go find something to renovate!

Amos just sighed and told me to go rest instead.
Cheeky sheepgoatcatratbastardpuppydog, eh?

Thursday, June 25, 2015


I am wondering if this is Day Two for me.  I surely hope not.

Twenty hours into the half dose of the Xanax, I got sucker-punched with the absolute worst migraine I have ever had.  At the first sign, I thought that I might still at least listen to music, but then all sound became stabbing pain on top of the crushing pain in my head.  I took the toradol, sumatriptan, and then Zofran, because this horrible nausea began.

I have learned of a different kind of nausea now.  SIGH.

When I was younger, before I began life as a chronically ill wretch, nausea was that state just before you threw up.  I would swallow and swallow against that weird sensation in my mouth and hug the toilet bowl, hoping that with each new twisting of my stomach and retching, I would vomit.  Dry heaves are torturous.  Then, once I threw up, I always felt better, an almost sweet relief.

Then, four and a half years ago, when I got the real food poisoning (and at one point was quite certain I was going to die), I learned of the nausea and vomiting that can come when you literally have spoiled food in your stomach.  It was nearly two days of agony before I vomited it all out.  Then, almost magically, I was immensely better and was certain that life would continue.

Two points about that moment in my life:  1) I was literally camping out in the living room on a sleeping bag, waiting for my possessions to arrive from Virginia.  2) I had no bloody idea what that "several abdominal illness" would trigger because I have dysautonomia.  That is how the innards wretchedness often begins in dysautonomia sufferers: either several abdominal illness or severe abdominal trauma.

So innocent was I that day.
And hopeful.

Last night, when the nausea began, it was painful.  I took Zofran and nothing happened.  Knowing the top dose of Zofran is 32 mg at a time, and my pills are 8 mg, after an hour I took a second Zofran.   Nothing happened.  It wasn't the waves and waves and waves of the dysautonomia nausea that wash over you, tumble you around until you feel helpless and hopeless.  It wasn't the I'm-going-to-vomit-nausea either.  It was this incredible painful nausea that left me retching without relief.

About the time I thought that I could not bear another moment of the pain in my head, I realized it was going to start easing.  Strange, I know.  But it did.  Agonizingly slowly, the migraine began to ease.  I Googled the instructions again, just to be sure, but went ahead with the second dose of sumatriptan since the first had started the process.

But the nausea did not end.  And I was dizzy and shaky and I hurt from head to toe.  Literally, my toes were hurting.  My joints felt as if I had not taken Celebrex in a month AND a great front was pushing through.  If you look at Xanax withdrawal forums, what I was experiencing was par for the course.  Withdrawal symptoms usually show up between 24-48 hours.  And—this part is really distressing—not only can withdrawal last years, but Xanax takers can also experience "protracted withdrawal," which is something like a secondary withdrawal that begins 18 months after withdrawal is completed.  SHUDDER.

I kept sending Becky pitiful texts.  I thanked Amos again and again and again and again for his comfort and support (he was the most wondrous puppy dog nurse to me) and for his near miraculous holding of bladder and bowels.  I was really frightened and really despairing.

At 9:30, I wanted to take my next Xanax dose and was quite certain I was going back to .5.  I mean, no wonder folk escape rehab!  I managed to hold off taking it until just 30 minutes before the usual time.  And, with great fear and trepidation, I took the half pill.

The entire night was a colossal battle of body and mind.  I did fall asleep here and there.  I took one more dose of Zofran, which I do think helped.  I stopped retching around noon.  And the pain in my body and joints is marginally better.  I do have a headache that is worrisome.

Trying to relax against the pain to avoid a bounce back migraine is near impossible.  This is especially so if you are wondering, constantly, if this is Day Two of your withdrawal from Xanax or, hopefully, you just coincidentally had a horrible night because you have dysautonomia.

Because the ham (Ossian smoked) was thawed, I managed to soak the black-eyed peas last night.  While I did find three tasty-looking ham soup recipes, I knew I was not going to be able to get to a store.  Thankfully, I had one last onion here.  So, a couple of hours ago, I started making my black-eyed pea soup.

I discovered that I found the sight of bacon cheering no matter what bodily state I was in ... not that I dared eat any lest the retching return.

This is the onions, garlic, drippings, butter, herbs, salt, peppers, butter, and ham all mixed together.  When I cook, I have begun to add things more slowly.  So, for example, I add the ham into that sweet and savoring mixture and let it cook for a while before even adding the bacon.  I did not take a photo of the ham and bacon together, but in stirring it, I wondered just how tasty it would be by itself.  Too hot, though, since the "heat" in there is enough for eight servings of black eyed peas.

The entire house smells rather lovely at the moment.  The dishes are done.  The mason jars and wide mouth funnel are waiting.  And Amos is fed again.

Me?  I am still wondering, trying not to worry about what this evening will be like.
Yes, I stink at not worrying.
Please ... please let this not be a Day Two.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New things...

If anyone tells you that legumes like lentils and split peas need to be soaked over night, ignore the advice. I know that, but in preparing for a new recipe, I dumped my split peas in a bowl of water without thinking.  So, when I realized the mistake, I ended up cooking in the middle of the night so as not to waste the bag.  SIGH.

I created a Simple Split Pea Soup recipe by adapting one from someone else. I wanted to have more flavor, so added spices that combine well with her base of cumin and ginger.

I wolfed down my serving today before remember to take a photo, so here is one of my mason jars of the soup.  Tasty ... in my opinion.

With regard to spices, I have learned two things:  1) cook your spices and 2) cook your spices before adding anything acidic.  So, with this recipe, I heated the olive oil and then stirred in my puréed onions to coat them with the olive oil.  That way the mush will brown a bit.  Then, after a while, I add the garlic to get it started, since it needs less time than onions and blackened garlic is not tasty.  Once the garlic was going, I added the spices and cooked them until they started to smell.  That's your signal.  Next, I added the ginger and the minced carrots.  Again, I waited for the carrots to begin to smell strongly before moving on to adding the split peas and liquids.  I suppose that is my third lesson about cooking:  3) smell can be as important as taste and touch when cooking.

I had planned to go the ham route.  I really did, but spotted a recipe with cumin and ginger and just couldn't help myself.  Since the ham is already thawed, I need to either make some black eyed peas or come up with another recipe really quickly.  I spotted one that was a ham, potato, cheese soup, but I don't have any potatoes.  I might just be lazy and do the black eyed peas, even though I have plenty of those jars in my freezer.

I am feeling better, but still opted not to take theophylline today.  I will start back tomorrow and wait until next week before trying the increased dose once more to be sure that was the problem.  Why?  Well, I had horrible abdominal pain (though none of the other symptoms) this morning.  With all the wretchedness of dysautonomia, I want to be certain about the theophylline.  After all, less fainting is always better.

I also am ... with much fear and trepidation ... trying something that I should not be doing on my own.  SIGH.

For a very long time, in large part thanks to the help Becky has given me over the past few years in learning to manage my anxiety (most recently with the weighted blanket and weighted lap blanket), studying and working through The Courage to Heal, reviewing the things I learned when I had the access to counseling, and working on thought exercises, I have wanted to try and get off of the Xanax. As it is, I am on a relatively low dose and it does nothing for the anxiety that is neurological, that which stems from dysautonomia.  My PTSD is ever so much better and that is what I have been working on ... the mental and emotional anxiety.  I have essential oils and candles (I still do NOT believe in aroma therapy), fires and fire videos, a very specific playlist that essentially is about giving comfort to the thoughts others have too and redirecting the despairing ones), a reading list, a streaming list, and a list of games ... all things designed to help me from falling into the abyss that is panic.  I also have learned to call someone if I need thoughts outside my head.  Mary and Becky will tell me tales of their lives.  And Emily has, as well, the few times I've dared call her.

I have spoken to three doctors about doing so, because getting off of Xanax without medical supervision and support is NOT recommended.  All three said we could consider that.  Later.  Sometime.  Eventually.  To be honest, I do not believe any of them actually listened to me when I tried to talk about all the anxiety and stress work that I have done, especially because a doctor's exam table is one of the most stressful places for me.  But, for example, as far as the PTSD goes, I have not had a panic attack in a long while.  I successfully managed the onset of one at Lowe's with that floor cleaning thing, thanks to Emily, but survived.  The one trigger that is still very strong is the sight of a pit bull.  And, as for the abuse, there is a men's aftershave scent that is a very powerful trigger.  Otherwise, I am really doing relatively well.

So, with much fear and trepidation, on my own, I cut my .5 mg pill in half last night and only took one half.  I have been trying to work up the courage to do so ever since I left the Integrative Medicine specialist's office last Friday.  I just don't want to hear, yet again:  "We can consider that later."

There are very serious and dire warnings about Xanax withdrawal because of its very short half life and the complications that easily:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Hallucination
  • Insomnia
  • Moodiness
  • Tremors
  • Convulsion
  • Nightmares
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

The other problem is that Xanax increases GABA in your brain, which is what calms anxiety, but over time the body starts producing less as a result of the Xanax use.  So, that is why folk up and up and up their Xanax dosage, trying to get back to the calm it provided at first use.  The problem is that really it is not so much a calm as it is numbness and it is important that you learn to deal with emotions.  That means, withdrawing, you are even more susceptible to problems with anxiety and even suicidal ideations because the normal amount of GABA that you should have is not there and your body has to learn to start making it again.  This can be trying even for those who have gained control of their stress and anxiety, because they do not have the help the body provides naturally.

Being so very incredibly sensitive to medications, I envisioned myself convulsing after a few hours.  But, essentially, I notice no difference. I am not more anxious, nor am I more lethargic. I am not more nauseated, nor any other of the withdrawal symptoms and complications.  At least I made it through the first day (so far).

There is this very helpful website that is a medical research paper on benzodiazepine withdrawal.  For Xanax, the ideal way is to first slowly transition to another drug that has a longer half life (diazepam) and then slowly wean off of that.  The process can take well over a year, if not two or three, especially for those who are on higher doses.  There are many weaning schedules for all sorts of benzodiazepines, so I have been studying the framework and thinking about how I could try it without a doctor first switching me to another medication.  My plan is to step down to .25 mg by taking just a half of my pills for at least two weeks and then try transitioning to every other day for two weeks.  Then I would increase the days between half doses.  If I had two .25 mg pills instead of .5, I could take 12.5 mg before skipping days, which would be ideal. I do not, however, think that I can split the tiny pill I do have into quarters.

Anyway, I have not really wanted to record this here, in my rememberer, because there are still things that shame me ever so much.  However, since I don't have a doctor helping me and there are a few friends who sporadically read here, I thought I would note the attempt just in case my posts show me falling into the abyss of despair or I never post again (i.e., I've fallen into the convulsions and am a bloated dead body the neighbors finally notice because of the smell ... or Amos' barking).

I am not trying to be dramatic.  I am, however, determined to pursue something that I believe is a good thing for me to do, if possible.  I am fully supportive of medications, but I am on, everything included, 19 different medications.  Three of which, daily ones, interact with each other.  If I can reduce the medications I am taking to the safest ones or reduce the ones that have serious side effects, I believe that is important for me to do.

So I am.

And, yes, that incredible balsam and cedar candle is burning at the moment.  Just. In. Case.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Medication misery...

I spent last night battling what I am 99.99% sure was theophylline toxicity.  The nausea and abdominal pain overlap with regular dyautonomia induced innards misery, but the abdominal pain of theophylline toxicity is more like whole abdomen stabbing pains and cramps.  I also had the headache, the fluttery feeling, being short of breath, tremors, anxiety, and this really ineffable feeling in my upper chest and neck that is unique to high concentration of theophylline in my blood.

I did do some frantic Googling, because it seems to me rather illogical that a mere 100 mg could tip me over into the theophylline abyss.  I found several medical articles on that very phenomenon with long-term users and the extended release formula of the drug.  So, I have not taken any of it today.  As the day wore on, my abdomen hurt less, my headache eased somewhat, the fluttery feeling, tremors, and anxiety have all abated. And the breathlessness is much better.  Coincidence????

I emailed the cardiologist early yesterday evening, because I was starting to get concerned, but I learned this morning that he is out of the office all week.  I emailed back that, after last night, I stopped the theophylline, will start it back up on Thursday, and will wait until next Monday to try the increased dosage again.

Because I was ever so frighteningly ill last night, of course, today, I was determined to be productive. I emptied the dishwasher and caught up on the dishes in the sink.  There were two of the seven loads of laundry hanging up to dry in the basement, so I fetched them, carried them up to my bedroom on the second floor, and put them all away.  I fetched more mason jar meals from the freezer, as well as some ham to thaw out tonight so that tomorrow I can try my hand at split pea soup.  I also fetched, filled, and hung all four hummingbird feeders because I saw a hummingbird on the honeysuckle bush yesterday. While I was outside, I pruned off the dead roses; all three bushes are blooming nicely.  I cleaned up Amos' major deposits from the yard.  And I filled the bird bath out back, since we are actually having sunshine (GASP!) today.  I also added water to the fountain on the front porch and watered the plants.  And I brewed four quarts of ginger water.  Finally, I emptied the trash and took the trash and the recycling out to the bins in the alley.

Oh, yes!  I also stopped to take a photo of my day lilies!

Okay ... more than just one photo of my day lilies.  Who needs photo software when you can adjust the color saturation merely by adjusting the angle at which the photo is lit!

Now, obviously, I am utterly exhausted and ensconced in the GREEN chair, planning to do nothing for the rest of the day ... or two or three.  I am not on the couch because, yesterday, Amos felt the need hop up next to me so that he could feel safer whilst he regurgitated his entire meal, after having first left a small pile of food on the rug.  Why does he not understand the proper place to vomit or regurgitate is the wood floor???

Somehow, a measly half cup of food ended up on two cushions, my slippers, the rug, the wood floor, the coffee table (an antique trunk), the side of the couch, my pants, and the large pillow I had with me on the couch.  It was very, very, very hard not to be angry with Amos.  So, as a result, two of the couch cushions are against the wall drying.  If they still are not clean (I haven't checked), I plan to trying to actually wash them.  You know, when I was looking at couches, I wanted a leather couch (have wanted for years).  If I had bought one, it would be in much better shape than this fabric one, despite its supposed durability.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Avoidance or effective coping...

I received my property tax evaluation in the mail today.  Last year, although my taxes increased as a result, I was actually pleased to see the value of my property increased due thoughts of eventually selling ... needing to sell ... at some point, given the downturn in property values since I moved here.  However, from last year to this one, my value was increased by 22%.  Now, given that the houses on the market around me are not anywhere near the valuation, I am a bit bothered.  Plus, last year, I found out that my house was valued higher than any other on my street for two blocks.

I do have the most fantastic home in all of Fort Wayne, but I am not really interested in paying such high taxes if my neighbors are not as well.  For example, my taxes are double of both my next door neighbors.  Now, to be fair, both have let their homes run-down and have real repair issues.  However, the county does not know that.  One had her house on the market for months without any offers.  But I suspect that is because the gutters are falling off, part of the roof is missing, there is weed and junk plant overgrowth higher than the garage on both sides of it, the basement, attic, and garage are so full of stuff they are inaccessible, and there is construction debris scattered along the side of the house that is two years old.  Even so, the house two doors down is in most lovely shape, inside and out, and is currently on the market for ~$20K less than my valuation.

Money being a straining, stressful issue for me, I think I should dispute the tax evaluation.  But I am not all that eager for a battle.  And, well, I wonder if my evaluation was raised so much because of the assessor surveys.  I answered mine honestly as to the features and amenities of my home.  One of my neighbors admitted she did not so her taxes would remain low.  I suspect she is not alone in such a choice.

All that is to say ... today was another day when the mail in my box was distressing.  I miss the days (years ago) when letters and notes were a common occurrence.   Now, for the most part, a piece of personal mail is such a rare occurrence I can live off the giddiness of it for weeks.  I try to write the folk I care about regularly, but I oft wonder if such effort is worth it anymore since I rarely hear of its reception and even more rarely receive any type of response.  Apparently, communicating by handwritten missives has fallen out of fashion.  That or I am not worth the time it takes to send out a letter or a notecard.

I have also found that personal emails are few and far between now.  Maybe that is because instant messaging and wall-posting on Facebook is the now norm for communication.  It is strange ... being off Facebook is freeing for the lack of exposure to all the mean exchanges on there, but it is also incredibly isolating.


Late last night, I was trying to figure why Amos was emitting a stinky puppy smell when he is still incredibly soft from his bath.  I finally realized that my quilt was the source of stinky puppy smell.  Thus, I did a 7th load of laundry and fretted over next month's water bill.  By the time I went to bed, other than the things that were drying on a line, all the laundry I did was folded and put away (and all the bedding was changed).  To achieve that goal, I set timers for each part of the process to remind me that I was in the middle of doing laundry.

Lying in bed, I wondered if the day-long systematic labor was my attempt to forget that it was Father's Day.  This year, the second anniversary of my father's death was far harder for me than the one before.  The same held true for Father's Day.  For me, it is harder because the few folk in my life regularly never speak about his death, the loss, or my grief.  Not even right after he died.  I received just a single condolence card and that was it.  He was gone and out of the picture ... but not for me.  Not at all.

I wonder, was my day spent effectively coping with all the emotions swirling within or just avoiding them????

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Amos and I had a visitor the other day:

Amos was scared, but I was wondering why it was just lying there.  I guess moths nap, because after a while he took off.

Of course, posting this close-up shows me that, actually, maybe I should changed my mind about re-sealing the porch next year instead of now (once Firewood Man power washes it).

Today, I spotted another visitor in my neighbor's yard:

This little guy and three bunny siblings were born this spring in her front yard. I cannot tell if just one is sticking around or all of them and we are seeing different ones.

Last night, I finally gave Amos his long overdue bath.  He was rather stinky from all his nervousness over my pruning labors.  That meant I had to do laundry, between his bath towels, the bedding, and all the dirty clothing that I have been ignoring for quite a while.

Six loads.
I feel like I'm running a laundry mat.
At least my critical clothing supplies are replenished.

We had sunshine today.  I almost did not recognize it.  So, just now, Amos and I are enjoying the airing porch for the first time in weeks and weeks and weeks.  More rain is coming, though.  Rivers here are flooding.  And homes.

I am on the second full day of bumping up the theophylline just a bit.  The cardiologist would like to see if 600 mg would be okay, given that I cut my 800 mg dose in half due to the increased levothyroxine.  So, right now, having picked up a prescription of 100 mg pills, I am taking 500 mg.  I do believe that I am the teeniest less apt to faint/near faint when bending over.  My heart, last night, was not quite so wonky when rolling over.  But maybe I am just wishing for things to be better.  I am not, at least, feeling the symptoms of theophylline toxicity as I was at 800 mg.

It took me quite a long time to figure out how to combine the 12-hour pills and the 24-hour pill.  I finally decided to take the former at 6:00 AM and 6:00 PM and the latter at noon.  Then, I switched the levothyroxine from 3:00 AM (ish) to midnight, which gives me a 12-hour window between the initial surge of theophylline that comes from swallowing a pill.  I hope my medication math is right.

You know what a talented mathematician I am.......

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Never again...

I really like the forsythia.  Its yellow flowers are one of the first hints of spring.  However, it grows too quickly.  Period.

This is after three previous pruning jobs in this spring, as it is technically not even summer yet.  My neighbor complains about getting past it even though she has a weed thingy taller than her garage opposite it that blocks the majority of the sidewalk.  SIGH.

Thinking that I simply cannot continue to prune this by hand, I used the electric hedge clippers on it.  After puking and fainting several times, this blurry photo (I am still shaking) is the result.

The other result is the knowledge that I can NEVER do such pruning again.  EVER.  So, if Tim is not interested in keeping this wildly growing thing under control, I am going to having to get him to dig it up.

Excuse me, now, whilst I go lay down on the bathroom floor, castigate myself a bit, and long for the world to end.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Babies and bathwater...

Well,  I went to see the Integrative Medicine specialist and learned a few things.  First and foremost is that she would serve as a big picture person, but not a GP ... so I still need to either find another one or make the replacement doctor work.  Second, I did not know that the 12-month treatment that you get for TB can have serious repercussions on your health.  I also overheard that her new patient appointment book is closed until January 2016 so my cardiologist called in a very big favor for her to see me, on her day off no less.

She took a very, very, very detailed history that was quite difficult for me to be as frank as she wanted about my past.  I did, however, have the power of Becky's weighted lap blanket helping me along.  And, while I still do NOT believe in aroma therapy, it occurred to me that the essential oil that matches the lotion that is unbelievably soothing to me and that I use at night to go to sleep might be something I should use during doctor appointments.

I am, at the moment, using the headache relief combination that came as a free sample when I ordered the lotion and the essential oil.  I am not sure if I noted that, eons ago.  Really, at least a couple of years.  I have been miserly with the rather non-economical stuff that I tracked down to Canada after getting a travel lotion tube from my mother (an airline had rebranded it).  Darn it if that headache essential oils stuff doesn't work, too.  But, still, I do NOT believe in aromatherapy.

Anyway, I have a boatload of blood tests to go take, which have me worried about pricing.  I have a saliva test that is not covered, for sure, and is $99.  I have a follow-up consulting appointment in July, during which she wants to schedule three other appointments with consultants in different fields.

I am truly torn.  I mean, the cardiologist can try to tinker with my heart rate and blood pressure, but he makes a very cogent article about ensuring that there is no further help with my thyroid and adrenals before proceeding.  However, just how much money (that I do not have) do I spend pursuing the matter?  SIGH.

The IM specialist if very, very, very anti-dairy. Uhm, well, I'm from Texas.  Sour cream is in our blood.  Plus, I tried no dairy for a long while.  I found no difference.  Trying real and true gluten free did not make me feel any better, either.  For that matter, giving up my twice (or thrice) daily Dr Pepper did not have any positive health impact for me.  Maybe I should go back to drinking it????

I fetched prescriptions from Meijer and Target on the way home. I also scheduled an appointment with the surgeon on July 7th.  I am considering that it might be time for one of the two surgeries she would do.  If so, maybe I could do it when Becky comes, if she can.  I say that because it could be done under a local, which would be better for me, but would make me so anxious that I just might croak from that.  Were Becky with me, I might be able to handle it.  I have extreme difficult waking up from anesthesia and am rather worried, given what happened several years ago, that I would have even greater problems now.  Anyway, we are going to have a palaver on the 7th.

[Weird vocabulary use due to thinking about being a missionary in Africa.]

The problem I am having with the new theophylline dose is that at the lower dosage, only 12-hour tablets are available.  So, I need to take four times a day, along with my other half dose of a 24-hour version and still keep the theophylline consumption away from BOTH levothyroxine and larin consumption.  Basically, the whole medication scheduling has quadrupled in difficulty and is rather despairing to consider.

I have been in a bit of an effable place since hearing that Elisabeth Elliot died on Sunday.  I heard her speak on several occasions, once in a very intimate setting.  She is the person who taught me (pointed out) the dearth of theology in praise songs and the destructiveness of their egocentric repetitions (massive amounts of personal pronouns ... me, we, me, stuff).  She is the one who formed my approached to missionary work and taught the most salient lessons on dating.  She was a passionate lover of the Living Word and would never, ever have considered me a "Bible freak," as I was called on more than one occasion.

One thought, though, out of the ineffable maelstrom swirling in my being, is that I think I threw out the baby with the bathwater.

Don't get me wrong.  I absolutely and positively think that the Christian Book of Concord is the true and pure exposition of the Bible.  And the mainline evangelical church's works righteousness, egocentric, experienced-filled, emotion-driven, watered-down theology is not only wrong, but also harmful.  But, really, Elisabeth Elliot was a powerful and positive faithful woman who had ever so much Christ-centered Gospel to share with the world.  For her, it was not about me, but Jesus.

My favorite book of hers is No Graven Image, which is actually a novel.  In sum, this young missionary woman goes into a third world community to do Bible translation work, laboring arduously, only to have all her work stolen at the end.  The question becomes, then, was her missionary work a waste of time?  I was shocked because God didn't come to the miraculous rescue.  And that book has continued to trouble my waters in the best way possible ever since.

Along the same time I read it, I was really battling with the whole having a good enough relationship with Jesus so that I would not struggle with sin anymore.  False teaching, I know, but I didn't know it then.  There was this one day, where, in agony, I threw my Ryrie study bible (that ginormous thing) against the wall.  The spine broke and for the many years afterwards, when still using that Bible, I had this reminder that always drew me back to her book.  What is "good" in God's eyes?  How does God measure success?  Can you still accomplish God's will even though the product of your labor for Him is lost?

For years and years, I received her newsletter.  I am not sure why it stopped.  Did I move one to many times?  Did I forget about it (as I do the fact that I love and adore deviled eggs or have Rolos in my cupboard)?  Did she stop its circulation?

This, here, has been the tribute to her I have savored the most.  I would encourage you to read it, no matter what you think about John Piper.

Something I have been trying to do, for months now, is speak, where legitimately possible, positive lessons I have learned from those who have hurt and betrayed me, especially as a child.  Some had no good in what they did.  Others did.  I believe it is important to speak of the good, of the lessons I garnered, even in the midst of true horror.

I was so very young when I was a missionary.  Too young.  But also too old.  I was bright-eyed and bushy tailed and believed only good things happened to missionaries.  I learned otherwise.  Living in a war zone, alone, taught me otherwise.  Even though I have the truth, now, I sometimes still wonder why one isn't safe, at least, on the mission field.  And, too, I question what I did to "deserve" such wretchedness whilst a missionary.

In a way, that brings me back to babies and bathwater.

Being an evangelical, I learned of Elizabeth Elliot and Hudson Taylor and Lottie Moon and Amy Carmichael.  And I had my ears filled (as my eyes are now) with Michael Card's passionate love for the Living Word.  I learned about not counting the cost and, I believe, the good of being an evangelical was that, when felled by chronic illness, I did not/have not lashed out at God or blamed Him for the misery of my days.  God did not do this to me; life in a fallen world did.  Sin did.

I have so little specific memory of all the books and lectures and conferences I attended where Elizabeth Elliot taught.  But the impression that remains is not talk about faith lived out as a wife or a mother but about God and His work.  Knowing God.  Knowing God through the Living Word.

To me, she spoke about God's "call for your life," something very big back then, the way I think Lutherans might speak of vocation.  I remember her talking about students who would seek her out to discover their calling:

Student:  I want to know how to learn what my calling is.
Elisabeth:  Are you a college student?
Student:  Yes.
Elisabeth:  Then that is your calling.
Student:  But I want to know what my real calling is so I can know how I can serve God.
Elisabeth:  Being a student, what you are doing right now at this moment, is your real calling, is how you serve God.  

[Why is it that we always want to do more, be more?  SIGH.]

I met her.
I got to talk with her.
I learned from her.
She was my hero.

Life as an evangelical, back then, was a lot about God being sovereign.  I do not/did not hear that kind of emphasis as a Lutheran.  I am too cheese-hole-brained to remember how someone explained the errancy of Calvin's sovereign stance, but, as I read recently in a comment section where I had no business being, words can hold different meaning and the richness of words needs to be preserved, not abandoned.  Two more babies:  sovereignty and a large vocabulary.

I was reading a comment about how "chaste" is one thing and "celibacy" is another, but the definite used of celibacy was so narrow as to skew the word.  Plus, well, the context of the Confession quote was on the forced celibacy of priests, which does not, in my untutored opinion, extrapolate to all people, nor elevate marriage over singleness.  But who am I to speak of such things?

The short of it all is that I miss the Myrtle who reveled in the writings of Elisabeth Elliot and danced (figuratively, of course) to the music of Michael Card.  I miss the Myrtle who memorized a gazillion Bible verses and traded them with her friends.  As I have said before, I miss the Myrtle who had friends to pray with ... lots.  I miss the Myrtle who spent copious amounts of time serving others alongside fellow church folk.  I miss the Myrtle who knew she was saved even though she constantly failed at "deepening her relationship with Jesus."  That was good even in the midst of a church full of bad theology.

And I miss the world where Elisabeth Elliot, who taught me of hymns and missions, of being still before God, of seeking solace in the Living Word, was a hero.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


The peril of midnight gardening, when it comes to pruning, is the distressing tendency to mistake one or more of the fingers on your left hand for the stem or branch you are attempting to prune.  I left quite a bit of blood in the bulb bed late last night.

I blame the STINKING HOT weather for my need to work in pitch dark.

Yesterday, I read three entire books.
I miss reading.
Often my eyes won't let me read much.

I forgot that I wanted to try giving up my Prime membership, especially since Amazon has lost the rights to so very many shows I enjoyed watching.  So, I put a reminder in my calendar for next year.   I do think that it is rather greedy of Amazon to not pro-rate your membership, especially after raising the price such a significant percentage.  I noticed the charge just outside the window for canceling the membership.  Getting promotional credits is all nice and good, but I hardly watch anything on there anymore.  I can always bundle purchases for free standard shipping.

Today, other than wishing for my finger to heal, I planned to fetch two prescriptions from Target, but one of them did not come in for the third day in a row ... the new dose of theophylline.  I want to see if I can finagle the two from last week and the two from this week into one trip by shifting refill dates in the coming months. Too many trips to Target means too much temptation over mini powdered donuts.  Anyway, all that I have done is eat pulled pork tacos and read two more books.  I just started a third.

I have been deeply worried about the news that Target was selling its pharmacy business to CVS.  I dared to ask my beloved pharmacists if they will keep their jobs.  Right now, they do not know anything.  I honestly do not know how I would manage my medications without their help.  Plus, I have rarely had to wait in line at Target but I always had a very long wait when I went to CVS for the last bottles of the Erythromycin solution.

As far as the erythromycin goes, I am still not all that more ill off of the medication.  I do have more motility issues in my large intestine, so I adjusted two of the three OTC meds my old GP had me taking for that.  Mostly, though, I upped my fiber and water.  The problem is my body reacts to anything like someone sitting on the end of a seesaw when the other person hops off ... or a heavier person jumps on.

Amos is still sulking.
It's a new record for him.
Poor not quite so fluffy fluff-ball.

Here he is enjoying the weighted blanket on Monday.  I hogged it yesterday and today.  Perhaps, if he stops trying to punish me for tending to his personal care, I might share again.

I might possibly called Firewood Man and shamelessly begged for him to replace the balusters.  The problem is, however, the never ending rain we are having.  Mowing is his chief income and his main priority.  Trying to get lawns mowed in the rain and now soggy soil is rather difficult for him.  He let me natter on about my concerns about meeting a new doctor and my desire for porch closure and my puppy's grudge against me and the pruning I did and the fact that I am not sure I would recognize sunshine any more, given the gray, gray, gray, gray, always gray days we are having.  The end result was no time slot yet for finishing the railing, but a bit less lonesomeness and frustration on my part.

On an odd note:  I was reading this article about protestors in Greece against austerity measures.  Some of the protestors are wearing signs that say "Our lives don't belong to the lenders."  Well, actually, they do.  If you borrow money from lenders, you are responsible for making choices to ensure the lenders will get their money back.  You have an obligation and a legal duty to return the money.  You cannot just live however you want as long as you have that debt looming over you.  I just don't get the people and government of Greece who view lenders as villains.  I mean, if this is how they are treating the people and institutions that bailed them out from their economic ruin the first time round, who do they expect is going to help them after defaulting??  Sure, Greece can leave and print its own money, but just because you have a currency doesn't mean others have to accept it as payment.

I have also read several articles/posts in response to an Op Ed piece that the New York Times (irresponsibly) published that advocates defaulting on student loans, such as this one.  Thankfully, all the pieces I have read in response to the Op Ed (nonsense) have been rightly appalled at such arrogance of the writer.  He is stealing not just from lending institutions, but from you and from me.  How is it that folk have come to a place in this country where they believe they have the right to be financially supported for whatever they want to do??  The guy got THREE degrees, two graduate.  He made a choice to take on the debt, going to expense schools because he "deserved" to do so, and then walked away from his financial and legal obligation.  He is nothing more than a thief and a liar who advocates for others to lie and steal as well.

What one author opined is that he probably is avoiding the automatic garnishment from defaulting because he is freelancing.  There is no regular paycheck from an employer to snag.  The best the government could do is to take his tax return, but it is easy to make it so that you don't have a return to take; file and pay taxes rather than have more withheld or more paid in estimated taxes than necessary.

As an ex-professor, and someone who got three degrees with only a small loan at the end because my school job was cut, I become filled with ire over folk saying that you HAVE to go into tens of thousands of dollars of debt for a college education.  You don't.  Here's a simple plan:

  • If you ever get birthday or holiday monetary gifts as a youth, always put at least half in a savings account.
  • Work after school in high school and save your entire salary save for transportation expenses.
  • Study hard in school and apply for scholarships and grants.
  • Go to a community college for your first two years and live at home.
  • Transfer to a state college for the second two years.
  • Work throughout your schooling, particularly in on-campus jobs.
  • Live frugally throughout your schooling.
  • Do not take on debt beyond the ability to repay that debt (i.e., don't borrow $75,000 for an education degree because your working salary will always be too low to reasonably repay that money plus interest within 10 years).

However, the truth is, I do not believe that our culture values living below your means so that you can be and remain financially independent even when unexpected expenses arise.  Our culture is all about having everything now and everything you think you deserve instead of balancing needs and wants and planning for your future.

What I do know is that even if the austerity measures the lenders originally asked for in Greece made it more challenging for that economy, the lenders had NOTHING to do with Greek needing a bailout in the first place.  The heart of the problem lies solely with the people and government of Greece.

Or, to put it another way, I am utterly flummoxed and frustrated by those who continue to remain oblivious to the perils of poor fiscal practices and debt.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Growing up quickly...

Eleven days ago, I posted a photo of Mrs. Robin's second clutch.  Someone asked me how I knew it was the same Momma Robin. I don't, really.  However, she does not fly off when I go out on the front porch to add water to the fountain or to water the plants.  I believe it is the same one.

Today, I saw some beaks peaking up over the nest and stood on the capstone ledge to get a photo.  All four not-so-much-baby-birds are crammed into the nest.  From their size, this batch will not be with me much longer, given how little I saw of the older birds from the last clutch.  They don't really look like robins, do they?  I wonder how they decide which two of them get stuck beneath the other two.  

Mrs. Robin sat on one of my stone lions scolding me at the top of her voice whilst I snapped a few photos of her young.  I told her that given I had only taken four photos during two clutches, she really had nothing to complain about.  I certainly have given her and her brood space.

Today, I have been battling nausea and writhing and a sulking Amos.  The latter is because I sheered him a bit, pulled out the icky, waxy, curls from inside his ears, and combed out the tangles in his ears and tail.  Amos can sulk like nobody's business.

At the moment, my blood pressure is low, despite two servings of pretzels, and my heart rate is caddywhompus.  I really, really, really dislike feeling my heart and changing blood pressure.  So, I would actually appreciate even more the company of my fluff-ball.  Amos, however, has yet to forgive me.

Life in a fallen world...

Monday, June 15, 2015

In the cupboard...

I have saved over $100 now, using the Target Cartwheel app.  However, along the way, I might possibly have spent more money than I would had I not had the app.  Case in point:  Little Debbie mini donuts were on sale for $1.79.  The app had a coupon for 20% off, which made the donuts $1.43.  I had a pharmacy rewards card that made them an additional 5% off:  $1.36.  So, the $1.99 donuts ended up being 32% off.  So, of course, I had to buy a bag (or two).  Only, I don't buy donuts. Or at least I would not have bought donuts if I did not have that Cartwheel coupon.

Math ... it's never my friend.

Late last night, before going to bed, I made another batch of gorp.  It looks a bit odd, to me, since the M&M's are from the Easter candy sale.  However, I had a hard time finding my Reese's Pieces (I use half and half when I make gorp).  I knew that a bag came with the second to last Subscribe and Save order, but I couldn't find it.  During the course of my search, I ended up reorganizing one of my cupboards.  Whilst doing so, I found not one, but two mason jars of chocolate.

Me:  Doctor, I have a serious new symptom.
Doctor:  What is it?
Me:  I keep forgetting that I actually have chocolate in my house.
Doctor:  Well, we all forget things from time to time.
Me:  Never chocolate!!

I eventually found the bag right where it should be:  in the basket of candy bags atop the refrigerator. Yes, I looked there three times before finally "finding" it.  SIGH.

Anyway, maybe it was the gorp-making or maybe it was the fact that I ended up on my feet far, far, far longer than I had planned yesterday, with the extra cooking and candy searching and reorganizing and gorp-making.  I slept 13 hours.  I've napped almost six more today.  I am exhausted.

But I do have chocolate in my house.
Will you help me remember that??

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Cluck, cluck...

I thought I had marked all my bags of chicken that I divided and froze.  However, one of them was not marked.  I had two 3-chicken bags, one 2-chicken bags, and one 4-chicken bags, and one mystery bag.  Surely, most surely, the unmarked bag was a 5-chicken bag for my pulled chicken, right???

I had to wait to thaw out more chicken.
Then I thawed out even more chicken to have enough for a second recipe.

Lying beneath the orange juice and spices are five chicken breasts, all ready to go into the oven.

Two and a half hours later (and two turnings) the chicken is ready!

The chicken goes into a bowl for shredding...

(Just look at that fork action!)

... and the marinade get reduced.  I really, really, really like reducing things.

Then the chicken and marinade are reunited once more...

...before I dole them out in jars!

Each jar holds enough chicken topping for four chalupas.  I guess if you wanted some sort of sandwich, then each jar holds enough check for one of those.  But I use the chicken to go on refried black bean, sour cream, corn, chicken, and white cheddar cheese chalupas.  I am telling you, I did a BLOODY FANTASTIC job on my Spicy Pulled Chicken 2.0 recipe!

Now, I had planned for this to be my only labor today.  But that unmarked bag was only a 4-chicken bag and I needed five breasts.  So, I thawed out a 2-chicken bag.  What to do with the other chicken breast??  Well, I thought about grilling it before deciding to thaw out a 3-chicken bag and make lemon chicken gyro jars.

The recipe calls for just two chicken breasts (for four servings), but a while ago I decided that if I am going to go through the trouble of making either Lemon Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki and Feta or Thai Honey Peanut Chicken then I am going to double the recipes for eight servings.  In another hour, I shall take this chicken out of the refrigerator, cook it up, whip up a freezer friendly sauce using marinade left in the pan and some cream, and fill my freezer back up with that tasty dish since, at the moment, there are no more lovely jars of it left.

[Feel free to admire my mad garlic mincing skills.]

In case you are wondering, I have a 4-chicken bag and a 3-chicken bag left.  And I have not bought chicken the last two major shopping trips.  That is just how overboard on chicken buying I went a couple of months ago.  I plan to use the 4-chicken back for Chipotle Chicken Chili (one of my if-I-lived-on-a-desert-island foods) and the 3-chicken bag for the mustard and bourbon dish ... I think.

Sadly, I must report that there is absolutely NO pork in any of my freezers!  I've been struggling to contain my culinary panic, even though I have four jars of the Spicy Dr Pepper Pulled Pork in my basement freezer.  At the moment, to console myself, I am drinking a contraband Dr Pepper, completely ignoring the theophylline that is in my body at the moment.

I want to figure out (or find) a good recipe for split pea soup.
After much resting.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The perfect pants...

I cannot quite find the words to express how I feel being in all women's clothing.  However, I did spend the gas to go back to Target to see if I missed another pair of the pants and to buy a second nightgown.  There were no more pants, but I did discover that the nightgown had not registered the additional 25% off, so customer serviced fixed my receipt and then I paid for a second nightgown.

Wearing it last night was also weird, for me, because I don't wear nightgowns. I definitely don't wear short nightgowns.  However, this fit at the top and then flowed down past my always sore abdomen to hang freely mid-way down my thighs.  It is purple, not pink.  Still flowery.  And basically it was like wearing feathers, as far as pain factor.  It would be nice if I could find some sort of night shorts to wear with it, not that anyone would ever see me.

Today, I've had on the pants, top, and jacket, even though I should save them for going out.  Meaning, I shall no more have to go to Wal-mart or Target in my men's lounge pants!  However, I am wearing them because I feel ... better ... in them.  I cannot quite identify what I am feeling, but in part I feel more like a person.

Becky used her smart brains and identified the pants by my description of them.  They are yoga pants.  Being a hermit, I just might be the last person on the planet to encounter yoga pants.  Now, I absolutely understand Pioneer Woman's blog snippets about yoga pants.  These fit just below the painful part of my abdomen, are fitted, but not tight, through the lower part of my hips, and then hang straight down.  For the men's lounge pants, I roll the waist down 2-3 times to keep the pressure off my abdomen.

Normally, even back when I was well (and thin) I rarely found a pair of women's pants I could wear because I inherited my father's backside (practically nonexistent) and do not have the hour-glass curve or nipped-in form of a female waist.  My torso is basically a trunk.  Even now, it is more of a Redwood than anything else.  Somehow, though, the yoga pants fit perfectly.

I saved the tags.

I did decided to buy three more tops that match the one I found.  I haven't tried them on yet, but if they are the same, I will keep them.  They were not on clearance (only the garish purple one I have on was), but they were 30% off with a text coupon.  Since I have not really been using all my budgeted clothing funds, I shouldn't be bothered about the purchase, but I am.  Just a bit.  More, though, I like the idea of having a woman's top beneath whatever over piece I am wearing, be it hoodie or that athletic jacket I got.

Funny, isn't it, a weak and disabled person wearing yoga and athletic gear?

It is so STINKING HOT that I practically died going out.  Even taking Amos out to conduct his business is hazardous to my health.  The humidity is so high that my board straight hair is curling.  Just after starting this entry, a storm rolled in ... rather fiercely.  All this STINKING HOT and INCREDIBLY HUMID weather has me thinking that I have somehow moved back to Texas.  SIGH.

If we are going to have an entire summer of STINKING HOT weather, I vow never to gripe about snow again.

Hey ... by the way, what is wrong with this photo????????

Friday, June 12, 2015

Silly Myrtle...

Well, I'm sitting here weeping and thought I would try to write out why ... you know ... so I could stop weeping.

The cardiologist appointment was good.  At least I think it was.  And that really is the whole problem.  I started off apologizing for avoiding him and explained how it finally dawned on me that I never told him or his staff (in such as way as could be heard) that the chest pains I was having were new, a new symptom.  What he heard was that I was having chest pains as most of his dysautonomia patients do.  So, there I was certain I was going to have a heart attack ... or stroke, actually, with the wide pulse pressure, and the guy and his staff were not even bothered.  I realized now what they heard was something normal and I didn't know it was normal ... for dysautonomia.

Then, really, I was all caught up in how darned expensive erythromycin is and just didn't want to spend $50 to go see him.  Then the weight started piling on despite giving up soft drinks and switching to real food and consuming an average of 1,150 calories a day over a week when Fitbit tells me I'm expending far more calories than that.  I am to the point where I am embarrassed and ashamed about how I look and I don't want to see anyone, especially medical personnel where I have to get on a scale.

Plus, well, I did NOT want to have an EKG, which is the first thing that always happens and involves bare skin.

The cardiologist did what he did last time ... purposely.  He did not send his nurse in but came in himself so that I would have to communicate with him.  He sat well away from me and listened hard to what I said.  He interrupted and questioned to ensure he was hearing correctly and he repeated things for me several time.  Most importantly, he came up with a plan.

I think the plan is why I am weeping.
I totally and absolutely do NOT know what to do with hope.
I am terrified at the moment.

His plan is contingent upon another doctor taking me on as a new patient.  She would serve as my GP, though her speciality is Integrated Medicine.  That means, practically, every single time I visit her it will be the $50 co-pay.  However, he knows her and would work with her as a part of the Myrtle Care Team.  He would support her and work through her when needed so as to minimize my appointments and tell her the direction he would like her to try to have some more balance in my health.  By that I mean, this latest symptom where I roll over in bed and my heart started racing and hammering and I cannot fall back asleep for the longest while is because I am not getting the help I need.  He actually said that I am working harder at trying to help myself than any medical personnel.

Since my surgeon is in their system, the cardiologist and integrated medicine specialist could work with her, too.  I would have all my main doctors meeting together IN PERSON when necessary, but talking together when necessary.  And all would be notified when any of them did something, changed something, ordered something.

Just what I've needed, right?
When ... tell me when something like that has EVER worked out in my favor??????????

Poor Amos, he's so agitated that he's whimpering incessantly.  I'm upsetting him and his upsettedness is making my own upsettedness worse since I now have puppy momma guilt on top of everything else.  SIGH.

Since my appointment was so late, his nurse could not reach the doctor to see if she would see me.  So, mostly, I left the office in limbo.  He did say that the new doctor would most likely want to do a full exam on me.  The whole keeping-my-clothes-on stance would not work for the first visit.  If they can have x-ray machines that see through clothes at the airport, why cannot doctors have little scanners that see through clothes?????

Then there is the alternative part of integrative medicine.  Some things I would consider, but not something like acupuncture.  Plus, most of that is all out of pocket.  So, basically, I've leapt ahead to the whole idea failing, I guess.  Maybe.  I just don't know.

The cardiologist did agree that we need to work on the theophylline.  I asked if there were other drugs that would help raise my heart rate, and there are.  However, none would provide the respiratory support that theophylline does (helping keep my asthma under control).  He ordered an increase, but using 100 mg pills, so that I won't have more wasted prescriptions.  That means the prescription won't be in until Tuesday.

On the way home, I stopped by Target because I got a voice mail about a prescription being ready.  Actually, it was supposed to be returned because it was the theophylline and I have too much of that at the moment, taking just a half dose.  However, the two medications I thought the voice mail was for were in the window to be filled, so I wandered around whilst the pharmacist filled them.

I looked at some female clothing, because, well, it bothers me that I am wearing men's XL lounge pants now.  I found something that I am not sure  what it is, but is pink and flowery and flowy and so lightweight I knew it wouldn't hurt.  I also found two pairs of some kind of exercise pants that looked like they would fit (they do).  And I found a lightweight jacket (to keep my arms covered) that is NOT a hoodie.  All were on clearance and then the Cartwheel app had a coupon for an additional 20% off, so I did some retail therapy for just under $20.  Maybe I am weeping because I spent money on wants when needs is my focus???

Then, because I knew it had not been enough time, I sat down.
I sat down in Target and fell asleep.
I feel asleep in Target and snored myself back awake.

Maybe that is why I just cannot stop weeping.

Only, well, I think it is even the idea that I could have an real medical team helping me, even if that help really is more supportive emotionally since, you know, there is no cure or real treatment for dysautonomia.

I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to figure out a way to fold the weighted lap blanket so that it would fit into the magnificent GREEN leather bag that I finally remembered I bought and now use as my medical appointment bag.  I think that it most definitely helped my anxiety during the appointment, and after just typing that, I realize I should be beneath the full-sized weighted blanket.  I think both Amos and I need it.

Not to be random or anything, but can you think of any reason why somebody in Fort Wayne would need to be driving around in a Lamborghini?  I saw the guy get in it.  The doors open up like a bird spreading out its wings.  I could be wrong, but it seemed to me the very young man driving the thing should consider having his muffler adjusted.  I could hear every shift of gear he did before I turned in a different direction.

Well, that was my day.
A strange appointment.
A weepy evening.

Damn hope.
It's a wretched thing.

I'm still weeping.....................................