Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Whimsy Wednesday

In honor of Halloween here is the full Thriller video:

Hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sifting Through The Hype

The great appliance hunt has begun. I've been dreading this since the day we signed the paperwork on our house. Making a big purchase is always stressful for me because the stakes are so high. You want to buy a quality product so you don't end up wasting large sums of money. At the same time you don't want to overpay unnecessarily. Trying to sift through sales pitches, hype and cool features to find the truth can be difficult. Just walking into the stores and being confronted by rows of appliances makes me want to just shut down and go home.

BUT, appliances must be purchased so I'm out and about doing my due diligence. So far the process has me feeling like a cranky old woman, too set in my ways to be comfortable with modern technology. And, except for the old part, that might be accurate. Appliances have changed so much over the past several years and I'm not so sure that is a good thing.

The washers and dryers are almost all the high efficiency ones. Sure, they do have a couple of the "old-fashioned" machines tucked in the back or in the corner where they are hard to find but, between the disparaging way the salespeople speak about these old machines and the lack of inventory, it is hard not to feel like buying an HE machine is the only way to go. Besides, who doesn't want the energy efficiency and water savings, right?

Yet, there I am listening to the salespeople tell me about how the washing machine will tell the dryer what kind of load it is washing so the dryer knows exactly what setting to dry the coming load on, or how I can connect the machine to my smart phone and control it remotely and all I can think about is how each of these features is just another opportunity for something to go wrong. It's like I can hear the cha-ching of an old-fashioned cash register in my head just thinking about how much it would cost to repair this high technology. What's worse is that, outside of the efficiency feature, every other feature is unnecessary.

Then we have the refrigerators. The 2 or 3 old-fashioned fridge models they do carry, you know the ones with a simple freezer on top, are banished to the dark corners with their washer/dryer counterparts. Now the fridge must be stainless, it must be huge, it must have doors that open in the center and the freezers are drawers at the bottom. I'm standing there in front of rows of these beasts, all of which look almost exactly the same, and I honestly can't tell the difference between the $3000 one and $1200 one.

Suddenly, I feel as if this is not just about getting a quality product for the best price possible. It has also become a search for what our actual needs are. A search for appliances that can meet our rather simple needs and no more. I don't want to buy the old-fashioned appliances just because they are familiar and I don't I want to buy the modern appliances just because they are modern and fancy. This may take a while.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Chromecast To The Rescue

Our Netflix streaming device died this past week. It was a quick death - early on in the week it stopped communicating with our wireless router, but we were able to wire it to our internet connection and continue to use it. Within a few days it could no longer play anything. It was dead and we needed to figure something else out. After all, we watch Netflix every day.

These streaming devices are great when they work. I love that we have the option to watch all kinds of great content on our TV without paying the extremely high cost of cable. As much as I've loved having this capability, this is the second streaming device that has died on us in the span of about 4 years.

The first one we got was a Roku and it died before it reached the age of two. We then got a Sony Media Player because Roku now requires you to give them your credit card number in case you some day want to purchase programming from them. Yeah, that's not gonna happen. I expected the Sony to last longer because it is a company with a great reputation (or at least, used to have a great rep.) and I guess technically it did but only 4 or 5 months longer.

We stopped by Best Buy to look into getting a new device but were a bit shocked by how much more expensive they are now compared to two years ago when we picked up our last one. They still had a Roku available for $70 but again I'm not giving away my credit card number when I'm not buying anything. The other streaming players were well over $100 - the replacement for our $80 player was now $120. Umm, no.

We decided to go a different route. Google came out with an alternative earlier this year called Chromecast. It's just a small HDMI plug that goes into your TV and communicates wirelessly with your smart phone or laptop to play Netflix or Youtube content. I had some concerns going in but there was no arguing with the price so we decided to give it a try after confirming we could return it if it didn't work.

We were blown away. The picture was great, it didn't drain my phone battery, there is no box or remote control to mess with and it was cheap. So far so good. The only remaining question is: How long will this one last? The good news is, if we have to replace it after a couple years, it will at least be affordable.

I was a Google fan before but I have to admit that I'm an even bigger fan now. Netflix is my main source of distraction when I'm feeling bad and our main source of media consumption as a couple. Google is now allowing me to access all this content for a fraction of the ever increasing price demanded by the competitors.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Next Step In My Treatment

I've been thinking a great deal about what the next step in my treatment should be. The decision was made back in May to get off the medication roller coaster that I've been on for the last 7 years. I had that conversation with my migraine specialist in mid-July when I learned he agreed that I was unlikely to respond to any medications at this point.

Moving forward the idea is to focus on pain management techniques like meditation, exercise, acupuncture, therapy, which I can finally do thanks to my new health insurance plan. In addition to this new approach to treatment I also need to find a new doctor since my migraine specialist won't be able to provide me with my rescue meds and muscle relaxers now that I'm not being treated by him.

My head has just swimming with questions. What kind of doctor do I need? How do I find the right doc? What area should I tackle first? How do I coordinate all the areas of care? You get the idea.

Finding my way through these details has been complicated by the amount of time, energy and stress that has been dedicated to the house hunt and now the house build. I keep thinking I have a good plan in my head and then I get distracted by the house. When I return to thinking about my next step in treatment I have doubts about that plan so I develop a new one. Then I get distracted by the house again and the cycle starts over.

When it comes down to it, I'm both intimidated by the scope and a little nervous about going it alone. Neither are good reasons to delay moving forward so it is time to suck it up and just do something. All this fuss over what to do first and attempts to plan it out perfectly is actually what has lead me to my first step: seeking therapy. I believe the rest will fall into place as I'm ready for it. So, the search has begun for a good therapist and, just like that, a little weight has been lifted.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Whimsy Wednesday

Today the whimsy is cats stealing dogs' beds.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Wonderment Ahead

The winter comforter is on the bed. The t-shirts and Capri pants have been replaced by sweaters and turtle necks. Flip flops replaced by socks and slippers. Scarves and gloves are ready by the door. There is a sweet potato pie in the oven. The leaves have all begun to turn and fall. The air conditioner has been off for a couple weeks and soon the heat will need to be turned on.

Fall is here! Wonderful, colorful, beautiful, crisp Fall has arrived with all its festivities in tow. This is my favorite time of year, now through the end of the year. Even though this fall and winter are filled with more stress than usual and we won't be able to do any holiday decorating, I'm determined to enjoy as much as I can. Actually, it sort of works out that the worst of the year's stress is happening during my favorite time of year. The way I see it, the timing can only serve to help me better manage through it.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Living "Small"




I love these micro homes. The idea of living so simply, with so few possessions, with such small costs is just incredibly appealing. The idea is appealing but I don't know that I could ever actually do it. So often these homes aren't big enough to have ovens, washers, dryers, full sized fridges, dishwashers, tubs... Plus, I don't want to part with all my Christmas decorations, or my books (I'm strangely attached to my books), or all my photographs. No, I would never chose to live in a micro home. 

Despite these shortcomings, micro homes have a lot going for them and as we build our small home I am inspired by these assets:
-they are energy efficient
-well organized
-designed to take full advantage of every inch of space
-easy to clean 
-no formal spaces or unused rooms

All the moving we've done over the past 5 years has pushed us to get rid of a good amount of superfluous junk that we've both amassed. Yet, I feel like we still have some stuff that could go. As much as I've hated all the moving we've done, each move's junk purge has left me feeling more free and energized. Somehow, having less stuff and living "small" has allowed me to focus more of my energy on my health and on my family. With this final move on the horizon I'm looking forward to one more purge and the additional benefits that will follow.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I Don't Believe My Diagnosis is Fannie Mae's Business

With our future house in the process of being built we have been in the process of securing a mortgage and locking in an interest rate. The process is a long and fairly involved one, especially since we are building instead of buying an existing home. Obviously proving our income is a big part of it, which is where things have become muddy. You see I'm on disability and while I can (and have) easily show them my award letter and bank statements that reflect what my disability income is, they want more. They want me to provide proof that I will be getting this income for at least the next 3 years.

I can't prove that I'll be getting disability for the next 3 years. Hell, the program is scheduled to run out of money in that time frame. Okay, so let us just assume congress will act and the program will exist, we'll even assume that my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia will persist (that's a pretty safe assumption), that doesn't mean I will continue to receive disability. My award letter didn't make any time frame promise and I doubt that anyone receives such  promises in writing. I explained this fact to the mortgage agent and she said that I can use the letter my doctor wrote on my behalf that allowed me to get disability.

Now I don't know if she just doesn't understand how disability works or if it used to work differently but my doctor didn't write a letter to the disability office on my behalf. I gave them some 500 pages of medical records and they ordered the records I didn't have from my doctor's office directly. They then sent me to their own doctors to be evaluated and made the determination based on all that. I explained all this to the mortgage agent and she said that I should provide them with something from my doctor stating what my condition is and that it isn't likely to improve for the next 3 years.

I have plenty of medical records that state my diagnosis and I offered to provide a page as long as I could eliminate the personal information from my records that don't apply. She told me no. Apparently Fannie Mae will only accept records that have not been altered.

The thing is, I don't believe my medical conditions are any of Fannie Mae's business. I'm on disability right now. It may or may not continue. It is what it is. I don't feel like they have the right to even ask for my diagnosis and I'm certainly not comfortable providing it. As of right now, we're going to try to get the mortgage without my income and see what happens. But the whole thing has got me riled.

Have any of you encountered this before when applying for a mortgage? How do you feel about it?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Whimsy Wednesday

I'm a big Big Bang Theory fan. Big. Here is one of my many favorite scenes.

Have a great day!

Monday, October 14, 2013

An Anniversary Respite

So Sunday was our anniversary. Despite a bit of a stomach bug and super low energy we managed to carve out a few hours of quality fall fun. First, we went to our future home for our weekly visit and picture taking session. After 5 weeks of looking at a hole in the ground we were thrilled to see all the walls framed out.

This will be where I sleep

As you can see, it's awful sunny in the house as the roof didn't go up until today (just in time for rain tonight and tomorrow). Having stupidly forgotten my hat, the sun sent me on a quick path to pain and fatigue. In other words, that was all the fun I could handle for one day.

Still wanting to enjoy some outdoor fall fun and since hubby had the day off, we decided to explore one of big area parks this afternoon. Having remembered my hat and with plenty of cloud cover overhead we were able to to enjoy and explore to our heart's content. 

I just treasure these moments, these simple moments outside with hubby. They always require that rare convergence of cooperating weather and pain low enough to allow me to venture out. When it happens, wow, what a wonderful respite.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Monster Inside Me

The October Migraine Blog Carnival topic is: migraine horror story, how has living with migraine changed you? I can come up with a rather lengthy list of all the ways living with chronic migraines has changed my life but when it comes to how it changed me, well that's a bit trickier. As I sat and thought about it, I came up with a few changes, all of which are rather unflattering.

I'm now a rather fearful person. I worry about things I never used to worry about. Part of that is because my illnesses have created more worries but mostly I worry more because I feel so vulnerable and so fragile.

I smile and put up a "brave" front when people ask me about how I'm doing. I say things that minimize my experience to help them avoid feeling too uncomfortable around me. The unintended consequence of that is I feel minimized by my own "bravery".

I'm always fighting with my sadness. Even though I do a pretty good job of keeping my spirits up most of the time, I'm easily pushed back into the sadness by unkind words or judgments by others.

So there it is. With Halloween fast approaching, you now know about the monster inside me. The monster that living with chronic migraines has brought into my life. Fortunately just because this is how things are today, doesn't mean this is how they must be tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Whimsy Wednesday

Because I'm still in desperate need of comic relief over the continued government shutdown, here are more great clips from Stewart and Colbert. They are all well worth a viewing.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Perils at the Salon

Constant vigilance is required of me because of my chronic pain. Today was a great example of that. I went to get my haircut, my yearly cut to clean up the ends as I continue to grow it. As soon as I sat down I explained to the woman about my sensitivities. I told her that beyond shampoo and conditioner I didn't want her to use any products. I just needed a simple cut and dry. She agreed.

The hair salon is a gauntlet of triggers, lots of bright florescent lights, even more products and scents, someone else tugging on my hair and scalp... Most certainly a place for high vigilance. Unfortunately, for some reason I allowed myself to relax during the hair drying process. This proved to be a terrible mistake. Before I knew what was happening the stylist had put down the dryer and was spraying my hair with stinky, sticky hair spray. It happened so quickly and because I dropped my guard for a minute  I wasn't able to stop her before she started spraying. She apologized but the damage was done.

I had to come straight home and rewash my hair. Even after washing and drying the smell remains. I just can't wash it again today, my head won't have it. I guess this is the price I have to pay for my lack of vigilance. Lesson learned. Again.

Monday, October 7, 2013

I Am Who I Am

It's not how I was brought up. It's not very modern. It's not the feminist way. But the truth is I don't have any desire to be in charge, to climb any kind of corporate ladder, or even be an entrepreneur. Chronic pain or no, I am just not built that way. Deep inside I am a supporter. I am at my best when I am the woman behind the scenes, organizing, coordinating, dotting i's and crossing t's. Don't get me wrong, I do like to have some control and autonomy but in a supportive role.

The jobs that have been the most fulfilling for me is when supporting others was central to my work. That's probably why I spent so many years working for nonprofit organizations. And I imagine that's why I've found so much fulfillment from my unexpected role as a housewife. Who better to support and build up than my wonderful husband and fur babies?

This line of thinking is taboo in my family and so it's not something I have ever expressed. In fact I spent years trying to deny it and trying to be something I wasn't. Despite knowing it in my heart, I've only really admitted it myself openly for the past few months. I feel liberated standing in this truth. More than that, I feel like it gives me a sense of calm about the future. Come what may, at least now I am fully aware of what I need from my work, no matter if that work is at home or out in the world.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

More Whimsy Wednesday

The Daily Show videos about the government shut down are now available. Here they are:

The Daily Show clip 1

The Daily Show clip 2

The Daily Show clip 3

Hope you had a good laugh.

Whimsy Wednesday

I'm feeling like a little whimsy is exactly what I need in light of our government shutdown. I find that The Daily Show and The Colbert Report can provide great levity in times like these. Unfortunately The Daily Show clips are unavailable at the moment for some unknown reason but here are 3 great clips from The Colbert Report on the subject of the shutdown. 

Colbert clip 1

Colbert clip 2

Colbert clip 3

Enjoy and have a great day!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fibromyalgia Frustrations

I'm going about my day, doing whatever tasks I can manage. Inevitably, I come into direct physical contact with something completely benign: someone taps on my arm, or my 9 1/2 pound dog steps on me, or I lightly bump into a handle in the kitchen, or I run into the side of one of our super soft chairs with my get the idea. A moment later, the part of my body that was touched flares up with pain. A pain that has absolutely no business existing considering the nature of the touch. But there it is. Fibromyalgia.

I wake up and as I come to I become aware that both my arms and hands hurt. A pain deep inside my limbs that exists even when they are completely still. A pain that intensifies greatly with even the simplest action such as picking up a glass of water. A pain that makes me uncertain about my ability to hang onto anything without dropping it, therefore requiring vigilance. A pain that can't be soothed with heat, ice or Advil. I'm rarely sure what exactly I've done to bring it it on, but there it is. Fibromyalgia.

The pains sucks, the other symptoms suck. BUT the worst part about these fibromyalgia pains is that they don't make sense. This lack of reason and common sense about them open me up to ridicule. Nobody believes a light tap on the arm is painful. It shouldn't be. It isn't for everyone else. I must be making it up. I must be exaggerating. I am being dramatic. It's laughable so people laugh. It's just not believable to anyone who hasn't experienced it. Even those closest to me, who know the facts about Fibromyalgia, clearly don't take the reality of those facts seriously.

As a result, my feelings get hurt, my experiences get invalidated, I get angry and there is nothing I can do to make them understand what is going on and how they are hurting me. They know I have fibromyalgia. I've explained how pain can be caused by non-painful stimuli or flare up for no apparently reason. That's all I can do. I can't force anyone to be sensitive to my fibro pains but I'm becoming increasingly intolerant of the insensitivity. Don't I have enough to deal with here?