Thursday, December 31, 2015

The New Year's Eve Post

It's the last day of the year!!

And what a year it has been. Since I do wrap-up posts at the end of every season I didn't want to do an end of the year wrap up. But here are the links to the seasonal posts from the last year:

Winter 2015

Spring 2015

Summer 2015

Fall 2015

I'm pleased as punch that we managed to get all the living space in the house painted. It was such a long, slow, taxing process - I guess that just makes the accomplishing all the sweeter. The house is far from done but the paint goes a long way towards making this house feel warmer and more relaxing.

My endometreosis got much worse in 2015, but I was also able to cut that pain down significantly after going on the pill. If only it was that easy to manage my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia...

As for today, well, hubby and I are not stay-up-late, or party people so we won't be sipping bubbly and smooching at midnight. I'm fighting a migraine that started yesterday so the plan is to just have a pizza, watch Netflix and go to bed at the usual time. Although I think we'll eat our pizza off our wedding china. That's sort of celebratory, isn't it? I think so, especially since it's all dishwasher safe.

I hope all of you have a safe and happy New Year's Eve!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday - Puppy tries to reclaim bed from cat

Let's close out the year of whimsical clips with this one of a puppy trying to get his bed back from the cat.

Have a great day everyone!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Got Sick - Just in Time for Christmas

I started getting sick on Christmas morning. Hubby got it first and passed it onto me. We powered through a family gathering that evening and then spent the entire weekend resting. Unfortunately, all that rest doesn't seem to have helped. I'm not getting any worse, but I'm also not getting any better.

I can't ever remember getting a bug that just showed up and didn't progress or regress. Strange.

The good news is hubby took my car to work today so I don't have to run my errands. Instead my big plan for the day is napping and hoping the rain stops so poor Gypsy can actually take a walk. After 3 solid days of rain we are all feeling a bit restless.

In fact, I think I'll get started on that napping now.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday - SNL Christmas Clip

One more Christmas Clip from SNL to help get you in the mood and make you laugh.

Have a great day and Very Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Busy Holiday Season + Chronic Pain = Bad Blogger

I've been a bad blogger this holiday season.

I've decided that my to-do-list is lengthy and stressful enough this year that I wouldn't worry much about being a good blogger until after the holidays. Hubby is finally done with school for the semester so any time that hasn't been dedicated to preparing for various Christmas parties, the 3 late December family birthdays and a wedding shower have been dedicated to being with him.

I'm exhausted, of course. I've very close to hitting a wall and just crashing. Thankfully, almost all of what needs to be done is done. I will have to do some cooking on Christmas before we travel to our family gathering and Gypsy needs a bath; then it's just a matter of pulling myself together, showing up and chit chatting with people at these get-togethers.

I say this as if it's not a huge deal when you are exhausted and in pain, but we all know it is.

Hubby is getting sick so it's quite possible our festivities will be cut short. That would actually be kinda nice. I could use the rest.

I have missed all of you and look forward to getting back to my more regular blogging routine when things calm down a bit. I hope all of you out there are doing well and enjoying your holidays!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday: A Christmas Story

The list of Christmas movies I love is long. At the top of that list is A Christmas Story. Here is a classic scene for your enjoyment and to help get you in the mood.

Have a great day!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Mourning my Unfulfilled Professional Potential

What would I have become if my life hadn't been derailed by chronic migraines and fibromyalgia?

See, I was one of those people who truly loved working. I loved having someplace to be every day. I loved interacting with coworkers and other community members. I loved learning and becoming better at what I was doing. I loved working hard and watching that work pay off. I loved accomplishing goals. I felt such a sense of purpose and fulfillment from my work. 

My path wasn't a traditional one by any stretch. I took several years off from college and worked in the life enrichment field at a senior assisted living residence. When I went back to school I got my degree in social work and spent several years during and after school working for small non-profits. It was hard work but quite rewarding. 

Then it happened - chronic pain. It's been about 10 years now. Ten prime career development years that stretched from my late 20s to now my late 30s, just gone.

Despite my best efforts to the contrary, sometime I can't help but wonder what I would have become; what I would have accomplished if I wasn't living with chronic pain...

I am fairly certain I would have gone back to school to get a master's degree in social work with a research focus because I find social research absolutely fascinating. Obviously, I would have then wanted to do social research. I imagine I would be living a rich intellectual life that challenged and excited me. I would be engaged in the world around me. I would have continued to make a name for myself as a reliable, honest professional. 

I try hard not to allow myself to focus extended periods of time thinking about such things because it stirs a deep sense of grief and longing within me. Anger is usually just under the surface of these other emotions. Anger that can't be directed or attached to a cause - it's nobody's fault. 

Still, it happens. The thoughts creep in. The emotions follow. I like to give myself some time to ponder what could have been and some time to feel all the emotions that stem from it. Eventually, the time comes when I feel the need to shift my focus onto what is. 

The truth is, many blessings have come into my life because of the unexpected path chronic pain has put me on. I have so much to be thankful for despite not being able to realize the professional potential I once had. This dichotomy can be deeply challenging. I wish I could find a way to still fulfill that part of me once so satisfied by my career. But that's really a different season, isn't it? 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday: Christmas Vacation

In honor of the upcoming Christmas holiday I wanted to share a clip from one of my favorite Christmas movies.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday: SNL Star Wars Auditions

Here are some Star Wars auditions from the funny folks at Saturday Night Live.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

From an ER Visit to Backyard Firepits, Fall 2015 Had it All

Well the fall season sure went by fast this year. Between adjusting to some new meds and trying to keep up with things at home I guess time just got away from me. Let's take a quick look back at the past few months.

Fall Favorites

My sister gave me an adult coloring book and some high-end colored pencils for my birthday. Who even knew there was such a thing as high-end colored pencils - much to my surprise it actually does make a difference.

Anyway, I've really enjoyed relaxing on the couch with my book and pencils this fall. Something about the rhythm of moving the pencils and focusing attention on color selection and technique well, it's both relaxing and distracting. Perfect for someone like me.
This is the one I'm currently working on.
Since popular culture has begun to embrace adult coloring as a relaxing activity for anyone of any age it has become easy to find coloring books made for adults. Some are actually adult themed or humorous but most seem to be intricate designs. I highly recommend this activity to my fellow chronic pain sufferers.
My other favorite from this fall is the discovery of these sheets at Target. I've been waiting literally for years for the local Ikea to open up so I could pick up another set of white sheets. We got a set when we lived by Ikea in Northern Virginia a number of years ago. Unfortunately, when the new Ikea opened, I discovered that they no longer carry those same sheets. But I did find these Threshold brand brushed organic cotton sheet from Target and decided to give them a chance.

Threshold also makes some that are not brushed or organic
Make sure you look for the green organic banner.

They come in a variety of colors and even some patterns.

What makes these sheets so great? Three simple things:
1. They're made from BRUSHED organic cotton, which means the fabric you see and feel in the store will still look and feel the same even after it has been repeatedly washed. You won't see your dryer lint trap fill up with all the softness you were promised in the store, only to be left with thin, rough sheets. In general, finding brushed cotton sheets can be difficult.

2. The fitted sheet fits great, even after several washes. Plus it has labels that mark top/bottom and sides, which is great for our king mattress. Before I was forced to use the trial and error method for determining which way to put it on. I guess this wouldn't be a problem on smaller mattresses, where length and width are more obvious. AND the top sheet is longer on the sides than any other sheets I've ever owned. I love this because now I'm not struggling to cover my fitted sheet and I can actually tuck in the sides if I wanted to.

3. The price point is just as perfect as the sheets themselves. The sheets only have a thread count of 300, which sounds kinda rough. That's because stores want you to believe that a higher thread count equals softer sheets but that is simply NOT TRUE. Sheet softness is determined by the quality of cotton being used and if it is brushed or not. These sheets are in fact quite soft and very reasonably priced, ranging from $28-$56 for a set.

Fall Successes

The big success this fall was in making pillow covers. I made a few envelope style covers just to get my feet wet and then I started in on the zippered covers.

These are two of the Christmas covers I made.
With Gypsy on the couch all the time I love being able to take the covers off our throw pillows and wash them. So far I've made some nice fall and Christmas covers.
The other big success this fall was completing the painting project in our main living space. It was important to me that it was done before it was time to decorate for Christmas and we got it done just with just a week to spare. What a relief!

This final project was tricky because it was this funny little area above the rabbit nook. Unsure how the inner structure of that shelf would hold up to my weight we tested it with weights first. With the aid of some wood to help distribute the weight evenly, it ended up being no problem at all. Now I just need to figure out what to put up there...

Fall Failures

Our oven/stove isn't quite working as it should. It's one of the appliances that came with the house, which means it's of low quality to begin with. Still, I thought it would last longer than 2 years. Normally I wouldn't worry too much until it broke outright but since it is a gas appliance we don't want to take any chances so we've ordered a new one. A nice one that can withstand regular use, with a warranty and everything. There are several things I hated about our current one so this wasn't terrible news, still it was a rather large unexpected expense right before Christmas. Thankfully appliances are on deep discount right around Thanksgiving so we got a great deal. Now we just have to wait another week for delivery.

Fall Highlights

After years of waiting and 18 months of construction, Ikea finally opened in St. Louis. I absolutely love being in an Ikea. I love small spaces and I love design so walking through the showrooms are great fun. Plus, there are all sorts of bargains to be had in the marketplace. Not everything is priced well but enough is.

I picked up these two low-light plants to put in the master bedroom.
Eventually I want to have plants in every room.
I've already been twice and hope to make another trip later this month. It's wonderful to have an Ikea nearby again.
The weather has cooperated allowing us the pleasure of many firepits - always a highlight. We managed to squeeze one in almost every weekend of the season. I LOVE sitting in front of the fire with hubby, just talking and enjoying the environment. Our firepits always brighten my spirit, helps me relax and what a tremendous distraction. Even when I'm in a fair amount of pain I can still sit outside and have a nice time in front of the fire with my love.

It was all the more precious this year because quality time with hubby is harder to come by now that he has gone back to school.

Fall Lowlights

Hands down the lowlight of this fall was the day I spent in the ER in horrible pain from my endometriosis. I was glad for the intervention and some relief from the pain but I was pretty disappointed with myself for ignoring the worsening pain for so long.

So there you have it. This fall came with all kinds of ups and downs. Life remains interesting and for that I'm thankful. Now Let's get this winter thing over with.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Love Notes as Stocking Stuffers

Today I will be doing what I always do on the last day of November. Making these:

It's a Christmas tradition between hubby and me. Instead of putting gifts in our stockings, we spend all of December writing little love notes to each other every day. Then on Christmas morning we sit together and read what the other wrote.

This little activity has quickly become my favorite part of Christmas. Spending a little time each day recognizing and praising hubby in a note helps combat some of the stress of the holidays. And reading 25 little love notes from hubby on Christmas morning feels wonderful. I feel like this brings us a little closer together, during what is usually a pretty hectic time.

And it's totally free.

I take some printer paper and fold in in quarters and tear along the folds to make small note-sized pieces.

And then I simply date each piece of paper. In the end we each have a stack of 25 dated sheets that sit on the counter ready for our daily attention. I'm excited to get this project done today and to start writing notes to hubby tomorrow.

Friday, November 27, 2015

A Migraine Day Untreated.

I've had a migraine since Monday afternoon. I woke and took my rescue med before even getting out of bed on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (Thanksgiving). As the meds wore off the pain from the migraine crept back in and so I've gone to sleep and woke up with a migraine every day this week.

I'm super thankful for the hours of pain relief (especially on Thanksgiving) the Imitrex has gifted me. I was able to spend some quality time with hubby and our little chi Gypsy. I'm so very thankful for these two.

Unfortunately, all the rescue meds I took earlier this week means I am without today. No shopping or baking on my schedule. Instead I plan to hide out at home and put all my efforts into preventing the pain from escalating - keep hydrated, stay in low light, move carefully, limit my activity, keep myself distracted... This helps me to feel like I'm having an impact on how my day goes but experience reminds me that I have very little control over how bad the pain gets. Sure I can guarantee the pain gets worse by having a big glass of wine or spending a bunch of time out on a sunny day but even on days when I do everything right the pain can still become overwhelming.

I do what I can and then just hope I chose the right day to back off my rescue meds.

Good thing I put up our Christmas decorations already. I would be super bummed if this activity had been delayed due to a migraine.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday

In honor of Thanksgiving here is a funny skit from the wonderful folks at Saturday Night Live.

Have a wonderful day and a happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Power of a Thankful Frame of Mind

Seems impossible to believe that Thanksgiving is just two days away.

For the first time ever, I started decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving. Outside of a couple small unfinished details, I'm almost done for the season. With the house already looking like a winter wonderland my mind is already in the Christmas spirit.

Thankfully, Thanksgiving isn't about eating a big harvest meal, or watching football. It's about recognizing and being thankful for all the blessings we have - something that can be done even in the glow of a Christmas tree.

Feeling thankful isn't always an easy thing to do when you living with chronic pain. Sometimes it can be hard to see around the struggle. But isn't that the very reason we should be doing this and not just around Thanksgiving but regularly throughout the year?

Being in that thankful frame of mind can be transformative. It can cheer me up, change my perspective and brighten my spirit. No matter how rough things get, I still have so much to be thankful for. All I have to do is think about my blessing and the impact on my life - it's completely free and available almost anywhere, at almost any time. Powerful stuff.

What I want most out of this Thanksgiving is to spend as much time as possible in that thankful frame of mind. I don't want to stress or worry about anything.

I'm setting my intention and have decided I will be happy for any amount of success. No pressure.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday

This husky does look very soft and comfortable - totally get why the cat wants to snuggle on him.

Have a great day!

Monday, November 16, 2015

3 Simple Ways To Help A Loved One Living With Chronic Migraines

There is no manual for living with chronic migraines or for living with someone with chronic migraines. Not because people haven't tried or because people don't want one. No, it's because we are all unique individuals dealing with varied social, environmental, economic and biologic factors. Plus many of us are also dealing with one or more comorbid diseases in varied combinations. We can't pretend that these things don't have a huge impact on our ability of cope and manage our chronic migraines. We also can't pretend that this complexity isn't hard for everyone involved.

Here's the thing - just because there is no manual doesn't mean we don't have some universal needs that our loved ones can assist us with. In fact I believe there are 3 simple ways to help someone suffering with chronic migraines or any chronic pain disorder.

1. Accept the simple fact that you can't understand what your loved one is going through AND know that you don't have to understand in order to be helpful, respectful, kind and loving.

2. Always believe them when they tell you what is going on. We are not exaggerating or lying to you. Just because you can't see our pain, brain fog, nausea, or exhaustion doesn't mean it's not real or serious. We deal with so much disbelief from the outside world. We need those closest to us to accept our truth and stand up for us. You can't imagine how helpful, respectful, kind and loving your belief is and the huge impact it has on our ability to cope.

3. Follow our lead and support us on our journey. We have very difficult decisions to make each and every day. We don't need you telling us what to do or that we are doing it wrong. We need you to love and support us through our decisions. Sometimes we push ourselves to do something that is highly important to us - follow our lead. Sometimes we need to pull back from an overwhelming task - support that decision. You can't imagine how respected, helped and loved we feel when you are our ally - steadfast by our side.

I don't doubt that those who love us want to help us but I think it can be hard to know how. I firmly believe that what we need most of all is to feel respected, steadfast support and loving kindness from those closest to us. It will buoy our spirits and give us a boost to deal with the onslaught of physical, emotional and mental horrors associated with a life of chronic migraines or any other chronic pain condition. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Is It Wrong To Decorate For Christmas Before Thanksgiving? Does It Matter?

Today, 13 days into November, I'm asking myself the same question I've been asking myself every day this month - "Is it too early to start decorating for Christmas?" Each day I've come to the same conclusion - yes. 

I'm filled with excited anticipation of decorating day. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my Halloween decorations and am still enjoying my Thanksgiving decorations but fall decor just can't compare to Christmas decor. For one thing, my Halloween and Thanksgiving stuff all fits into one smallish plastic tub, whereas I have 7 big tubs full of Christmas decor stuff. Another thing Christmas has over fall - twinkling lights. They are everywhere - on the trees, garland, wreathes, inside and outside. That's pretty hard to compete with.

I've always forced myself to wait until Thanksgiving to decorate but this year I'm actually considering decorating the weekend before. I blame retail Christmas creep. I've already been looking at wonderful Christmas items in stores since August. By now, almost every store has big holiday displays and even festive music. It's hard not to excited about decorating at home. Still, there is some small practical part of me that thinks waiting until Thanksgiving is the proper thing to do. 

Somehow this year proper seems a little less important. I love Christmas decorations. Why shouldn't I be able to put them up next weekend if that's what I want to do? It's not like I'm trying to decorate in September. Do any of you decorate before Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday

Let's say it all together - Awww!

Have a great day!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Why I Hate Going Out to Eat

I have many wonderful memories of going out to eat when I was growing up. From this young girl's perspective the food and service was always good. Plus, going out and doing something different was a fun adventure. Some places had a nice salad bar, where I could put as much cheese and sunflower seeds on my salad as I wanted. Some places had dress codes so I would get to put on my fancy clothes and have what I was certain was a very adult experience. I loved it. 

These days, going out to eat is rarely a pleasant experience. The food is almost always far too salty. The service is often a let down, either slow or the food comes out wrong. I'm always afraid to send things back to the kitchen because you never know what they are going to do to it because you had the gall to ask for the right meal. I've gotten sick more often than not after sending food back to be corrected so I'm pretty gun shy now. 

Becoming a vegetarian has made going out even harder. Most restaurants have NO vegetarian options at all and when forced to go to one of these places all I get to eat is french fries. While fries can be tasty, it is NOT a meal so I'll still have to go home and find something to eat. Some restaurants will offer a veggie burger but, if you are like me and don't like soy based veggie burgers (most of them are) then you are out of luck. Every once in a while a restaurant will have a couple meat free options to choose from but most of those options are tofu. If you don't like tofu, again you are out of luck. It's like the restaurant industry can't imagine food without meat and certainly isn't willing to be creative enough to make good meat free options that don't involve simply replacing the meat with tofu. 

That's why breakfast has become my meal of choice when going out to eat. Between pancakes, waffles, hash browns, toast, oatmeal and fruit there is always something I can eat at a breakfast place. I often still run into problems with food coming out wrong or the water smelling like dog but at least I can eat a satisfying meal. 

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I still find the idea of going out to eat a romantic one. I guess my childhood memories of doing so were just that pleasant. 

What happened to going out? Did the restaurant industry change? Is it me and my desire for yummy, healthy, meat-free dishes? And how the heck do they get all that sodium in dishes that have no business being so salty? I don't remember food being so salty when I was young...

Home cooked meals are the best
When I think about it, most of the restaurants we frequented back in the day were local, independently owned and operated. We had a few chain restaurants in town but most were not. Nowadays chain restaurants are the norm. Perhaps the problem IS these chains, where food comes prepackaged and gets microwaved before arriving on your plate instead of being prepared by chefs. 

As much as cooking and dishes can be a pain in the rear, no restaurant dish can come close to a home cooked meal. Always fresh, tasty, cheap by comparison and never salty. I don't have to wonder what's in it or how it may have been compromised by unwashed hands or worse. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Misunderstanding the Difference Between Giving Up and Accepting Life With Chronic Pain

I wanted to repost this entry from July 2, 2014. This misunderstanding remains on my mind and certainly remains an issue when dealing with medical professionals.

Misunderstand the Difference Between Giving Up and Accepting Life With Chronic Pain

A few years back (2010) I spent several months going to a physical therapist in an effort to better control my pain. I wrote about it atime or two or three. All this time has passed but I still think about something she had said. Here's what happened:

I had been trying to explain to her just how debilitating the migraines and my other physical issues were (I already had fibromyalgia but this was before I got the diagnosis). I told her how much I missed working and how not being able to was both financially and psychologically challenging. I told her that hubby and I were considering having me apply for disability.

Her response was to tell me that the patients she sees who are on disability are all people who have given up and she didn't think I was a quitter.

I was pretty surprised by this response and didn't even know what to say at the time but I did think about it a great deal. In fact, I still think about it. What she said disturbed me.

1.  It sort of felt like a backhanded compliment. On the one hand she was sort of praising me for what she deemed a determined spirit but on the other hand she was also being sort of manipulative in saying "you don't want to be like these quitters on disability do you?"

2.  I find it impossible to believe all her patients on disability have given up and she didn't give me any examples of what made her think this. The fact that these people are seeking help from her to improve or manage their symptoms indicates to me they have NOT given up.

3.  Being a healthcare profession with extensive education and experience, her opinion could impact the quality of the care she provides to people on disability, potentially the care they receive from other professionals who are part of their team (assuming they communicate), and also could impact the future disability renewal process of these patients.

I can't help but think she must have been misinterpreting what she was seeing in these patients. Back then, despite being in chronic pain for several years, I was still behaving and speaking like someone in acute pain. My brain could acknowledge I was in chronic pain but I was still trying to figure out what went wrong so I could fix and get my life back. I was still desperate and willing to try anything. I was still wasting a tremendous amount of energy and time on finding a cure instead of trying to figure out how to manage my symptoms and do the best I can despite my chronic pain. Don't get me wrong, I was certainly trying to live my best life at the time but that wasn't my primary focus.

Only after coming to the realization that years of trying anything and everything hadn't made a meaningful
improvement in my conditions or my ability to function that I really start to focus on improving my quality of life. I started approaching my medical appointments with more intention and purpose. I started being more thoughtful and discerning about the treatments I was receiving. I started accepting the fact that I was living with chronic pain. I stopped looking to the doctors for a cure.

Maybe this is what my physical therapist was seeing. Maybe the patients she spoke about weren't as slow to come to this realization as I was. Maybe they were already focused on pain management instead of the futile search for a cure. I can see how this might be viewed as giving up to someone who doesn't understand how chronic pain works. But shouldn't someone in her line of work understand this? Shouldn't all health care professionals understand this?

This is NOT giving up. How do we communicate the difference between giving up and accepting that traditional medicine can't cure us  - especially to those who practice medicine?  I would like to explore this more but maybe another day. Right now I just need to lie down.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday

This is video is so darn cute. May it bring you a smile and brighten your midweek.

Have a great day!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Shortening Daylight Helps My Migraine Prone Head

I'm pretty sure I'm in the minority here, but I love falling back to standard time. In fact I think we ought to do away with the annual craziness of daylight saving time completely - not that my opinion on the subject matters. 
Still, I love that it gets dark earlier, especially as we approach Christmas because that allows me more time each day to enjoy my lights. However, the biggest reason I love the shortening of daylight this time of year is much more pragmatic - the sunshine is hard on my migraines

I'm very light sensitive. I've set up our house so that I can control the amount of sunlight that gets in but there is isn't much that I can do to control it when I'm not at home. No matter how dark my sunglasses and how wide brimmed my hat, I can't spend much time exposed to bright sunlight without triggering a migraine and causing my eyes to become inflamed and painfully angry. 

It can make being a guest in someone else's home tricky. Everyone I know loves light and their homes are brightened by big exposed windows and bright overhead lights. I certainly don't begrudge anyone their bright rooms. I know it's completely normal to want your house that way. But those bright spaces that please all the normal healthy people is hard on someone like me. 

So while the daylight hours are getting progressively shorter and troubling most people, I'm over here celebrating. Happy as can be about the relief darkness brings to my eyes and my head. Okay, so I don't have fewer migraines this time of year or anything like that. But I definitely feel the muscles around my eyes, forehead and temples relax a bit when the sun goes down. And when that happens at 5pm instead of 8pm, well that's 3 extra hours of that improved state. What's not to love about that?

I hope the shortening of daylight is bringing all of you migraineurs out there some relief as well.

Friday, October 30, 2015

4 Things to Love About Sleep in Light of Chronic Pain

I love being asleep. That's a truism no matter the situation - napping, accidentally dozing off or proper nighttime sleep. My love of sleep even extends to all things surrounding it. Here are 4 things to love about sleep in light of chronic pain:

1. I love our bed, pillows, blankets and sheets. Getting into bed at night and snuggling into all that softness is such a relief after a long day of fibromyalgia and migraine pains. I'm never quite so aware of just how much stress my chronic pain puts on my body until my bedding surrounds me with soothing comfort.

Gypsy likes to snuggle under blankets too
2. I love it when feeling sleepy and feeling tired converge at a time when I can give into both and just sleep. See, I'm always tired (exhausted would be more accurate) but I don't always feel sleepy. My chronic migraines and fibromyalgia conspire to make sleeping tricky and, at times, quite elusive. I'm happy whenever sleep happens but truly relish the sensation of giving into those tired and sleepy feelings. Drifting off to sleep and stepping away from awareness.

3. I love waking up and seeing I still have time to go back to sleep AND being able to actually go back to sleep. This allows me to enjoy the drifting off again. Okay, okay, this is a rare event. The truth is, waking up in the middle of the night happens to me a lot. Most of the time, I can't get back to sleep. But what a gift when it does happen.

4. Then we have the main event - the sleep. Now, sleep is wonderful for many reasons and has plenty of health benefits but, for me, it all about one simple thing - Escape. When I'm asleep I'm not aware of my pain. I'm not thinking about my pain. I'm glossing over big chunks of time with none of the effort my waking hours require of me. Even though I basically never wake up feeling rested or refreshed, I truly appreciate the respite from the constant struggle of chronic pain.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday

Another great lament from Henri the cat for your enjoyment.

Have a great day!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Relieved to Not Be Moving

Another new house was completed last week, which means we had new neighbors moving in over the weekend. I always feel something close to hope when new people move in. I'm so curious about who they are and what kind of neighbors they will be.

Inevitably, watching people move reminds me of that oh so familiar feeling. You know what it's like - everything in boxes, trying to adjust to a new place, struggling to do things like eat or get dressed because your stuff isn't unpacked. It's just such an unsettled feeling, especially for someone who relies on routine. Everything about moving is hard and, between packing, moving and unpacking, it disrupts life for a fairly long period of time.

As I watched the new family move in, I could feel that feeling and just as it threated to stress me out and I remembered I'm not the one moving. We are nice and settled in. The house is still not done but we are far from that just moved in state.

The whole weekend ended up feeling like a celebration of NOT MOVING. We watched a disc of Homeland, played some games, drank hot tea, I cut a bunch of fabric in preparation for some sewing this week, we walked the dog and even had a firepit. It was a lovely weekend.

I was actually feeling relieved that it was them and not us who were moving. Such a silly thought to even have. I suppose it speaks to how weary I am from all the moving we've done over the past decade and how much I hate doing it.

Now we wait to learn about them and see what kind of neighbors they end up being.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday

Since today is Back To The Future Part 2 day, I thought it would be fun to show a clip. I remember going to see these movies in the theater back in the day - I was always a big fan. I hope that it brings back some fond memories for you too.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Little Slice of a Chronic Pain Life

I had plans for today. Reasonable plans that included getting 2 quick errands done, cleaning the bathroom and doing one load of laundry. I planned to have plenty of rest between these activities and to go ahead and give myself the entire day to get them done. 

But I woke up with a migraine. I was pretty sure I would because I had one last night when I went to sleep. I took my rescue med before even getting out of bed and added in some Ibuprofen once I had a little food in my stomach. After a quick nap the pain was more manageable so I went ahead and took a shower. 

Now I'm sitting on the couch feeling mentally and physically exhausted; feeling hung over and achy throughout my body. I can still feel the migraine pain under the medication, which means as the meds wear off later this afternoon the pain will get worse, which means I'll go to bed with a migraine and wake up with the same migraine - just like today.

I will probably take at least 2 naps today. One as soon as I'm done here and then again after I walk Gypsy around mid-day. I'll work hard to pull myself together to heat up leftovers in the microwave for dinner tonight but it's possible hubby will have to heat up his own and I'll end up with a Clif Bar thanks to my nausea. Thank God for leftovers.

It's safe to say my reasonable plans for today and tomorrow have to be abandoned. I'm already reworking the plan in my head. I can push off that trip to Target - maybe stop on my my home from the doctor's office on Thursday. Who knows, I may even feel a little better by then. I can probably squeeze in that load of laundry as a way to get myself moving. It's important to move periodically. The bathroom can wait. Gyspy needs a nail trim so I hope tomorrow isn't quite as bad as today so I can take her to the groomer. But her nails might need to wait until next week because I have doctor appointments on Thursday and Friday. Honestly I wish I could just sleep until my appointment on Thursday - but that's not how life works, is it? 

Ah, life with chronic pain. Full of uncertainty, altered plans, lost time, pain and a whole list of other symptoms and consequences. Ufda!

Friday, October 16, 2015

The 5 Most Annoying Aspects of Social Media

Social media can be such a great way to connect and share with family and friends, especially when you live far away. But let's face it, social media can be annoying. Here are the 5 most annoying aspects:

  1. People who troll around just trying to collect more followers or friends. I see this most on Instagram. A stranger will start following me and if I start following in return they will stop following me - that way they always have more followers than people they follow. It increases their Klout Score and it makes me mad. I now keep track of all strangers who start following me so I can stop following anyone who practices this behavior. 
  2. Facebook has started clogging up my news feed with posts from complete strangers. I'll be scrolling down and enjoying articles my friends have shared and pictures of their adventures and suddenly I'm looking at some random kids. Why? Because now it seems every time one of my friends likes or comments on something from one of their friends it shows up on my news feed. I don't know these people. We are not mutual friends. I don't want to see random posts from complete strangers just because one of my friends liked it. It's a waste of my time and I HATE that I can't find a way to eliminate it from my news feed.
  3. Random strangers being hateful and mean when commenting. I haven't run into much of this personally but I see it happening to my friends, fellow migraineurs and in the news. People without any empathy, any understanding of the facts and with no reason whatsoever attacking another human being - unfathomable. I have a strict No-Being-Mean policy on my facebook page and the comment section of my blog. But with Twitter and Instagram there is no way to oversee or manage what is being said. I think if people started getting nasty I would close my account. The stress of that just wouldn't be worth it. 
  4. Twitter comments scrolling across the screen during TV shows, or worse, being read on-air during a news broadcast. I have never cared, nor will I ever care, what some random person with a twitter account has to say about a show or a news story. If I wanted to find out what people were saying about something I would go on Twitter and look up the hashtag myself. I have my own opinions and thoughts. While I may be interested in hearing what friends or qualified professionals have to say on specific topics, I don't find any value in broadcasting the quick reaction of unverified people via Twitter. 
  5. Anything that gives away location information. Okay, so this isn't so much annoying as it is dangerous. Every time someone announces they are leaving for a vacation, or checks in at a restaurant, resort or wherever I cringe. Basically I see this as a public announcement that you are away from home - nobody is home - now is the ideal time to rob you. It might never happen but why open the door to that possibility? The better announcement is when you have just returned home from a wonderful vacation or from the fab new restaurant.
Still, I do love connecting with people on social media, especially Instagram, so I guess putting up up with these and other annoyances is just part of it. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday

I love this old sketch from SNL. May it bring you a laugh or two and brighten your midweek.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

3 Weeks Into My Endometriosis Treatment

I'm back on the pill again, hoping to eliminate my periods in an effort to control the crazy pain that now accompanies my cycle. Thank you so much endometriosis.

Adjusting to these hormones has been a challenge. For the entire 3 weeks I've been on them, I've felt like I'm about to get my period. Yep, all the annoying and frustrating symptoms of PMS are happening every day. With time I'm confident my body will acclimate to this regulated level of hormones. I'm just not sure how much time will be required.

I feel like I've been sitting around with my fingers crossed and my breath held for the last week or so, waiting to see what my body does. Will I get any break-through bleeding this month? Was my last period, which landed me in the ER, actually my last period? Will I get some pain even if I don't have any bleeding? I just wish I knew what was going to happen.

While I wait, somewhat impatiently, all I can do is take my pills as prescribed, each and every day. A task, which isn't as easy as it used to be. I can't even believe I'm about to say this, but... back when I was young the pill used to come in a plastic container that allowed you to set a dial and indicate which pill was for which day of the week. Since taking them regularly is key to their efficacy this was an important feature that made it really easy to see if you had taken your pill for the day or not.

I do remember the dial packs being eliminated shortly before I went off them about a decade ago but they were replaced with stickers that would indicate which pills were for which day. It was a less elegant solution but it worked just the same.

Now, well, now I just have a press pack and I have no idea if I'm on the right track or not. Not great for someone like me with migraine and fibromyalgia induced brain fog. I'm tempted to start using my pill box organizer that I've been using for years to help me keep track of the muscle relaxer I take. But still, I'm disappointed in the deterioration of the packaging of this product over the years.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday

Saturday Night Live is back! WOO HOO!!!

Here is one of my favorite clips from the season premiere last weekend.

Have a great day!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Mother Nature Does NOT Know Best

Someone recently said to me that Mother Nature knows best, in the context of a conversation about my endometreosis and the female cycle. The statement wasn't a judgement or anything, more of a expression of a general view about medicine and our bodies but it got me thinking.

While that's a lovely thought and I wish it was true, Mother Nature has done me wrong - seriously wrong. I honestly don't care if eliminating my periods entirely isn't the best thing for my body. I need to do it in order to function and control the all-consuming, debilitating pain that now accompanies my period. I'm just super thankful that we can intervene and correct or at least aid in the correction of dealing with the problems Mother Nature has caused.

Overall, I actually think Mother Nature is great. I'm a big fan. Truly. But she does get it wrong sometimes. Certainly my endometriosis is only one of several things that have gone wrong with my body, and one of thousands that could possibly go wrong. Sure, not everything that goes wrong needs medical intervention but many things do. The idea that Mother Nature knows best just seems absurd to me.

The thing is, we have to weigh our options and decide what risks are worth taking. I hate that I take so much Ibuprofen because there are several serious risks involved. Sure, I take precautions like always taking it with food and a full glass of water but I still don't know what the ultimate price will be. I hate the way my triptan makes me feel but if it does lesson my migraine pain and improves my ability to function and cope with the migraines I can treat. I don't want to take muscle relaxers every night but I do because without it my migraine pain would be constant. I didn't want to start taking hormones to eliminate my periods but I'm doing it because it will help me control the intense pain.

Every intervention has consequences, which is why I only intervene when I feel like I need to. And when I do, I don't feel the least bit bad about it. In fact, I'm extremely thankful for my meds. I can't imagine what I'd do without them. I don't know what sort of long-term damage I might be doing to my body but I know that my quality of life is greatly improved because of the medicine I take. And it's further improved by natural remedies like staying hydrated, regularly doing light exercises, having professional adjustments, meditation, etc. Alone those natural remedies would not be enough. For me, for now, I need modern medicine to step in because Mother Nature does NOT know best.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday

Oh I do so love these Harry Caray impressions. I hope this brings you a smile and a laugh.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Significant Increase In Stress Has Me Eating More Junk

Once again my efforts to eliminate wheat from my diet have been put on hold. I've simply not had the time and energy required to find replacements that will provide with me with enough calories to at least maintain my weight while trying to deal with the more urgent issue of getting my endometreosis pain under control.
For a while I tried to carry on with the transition but quickly figured out that now was not the right time. Since then, my food habits have been all crazy. I bought a bag of cool ranch Doritos and a package of string cheese at the store last week - two things I haven't had in about 20 years. I'm craving stuff I don't normally eat and actually indulging in them. It's like I've throwing in the towel and am just eating whatever. So not me. 

This is how I know my stress level has increased significantly over the worsening of my endometreosis. I have so many unanswered questions about what's going on with my body. I don't yet know how my body is going to respond to the treatment plan or how much this will continue to impact my daily life. Meanwhile, I still have to deal with my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia symptoms every day.  This is a mental and emotional battle as well as a physical one. 

I guess it makes sense that I would want more junk and not care much about fighting those urdges.

Has this kind of thing ever happened to you?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Who I Am Doesn't Fit Neatly Into a Box And That's Fine With Me

Sometimes I wish I could learn to reconcile and integrate the various aspects of me into a more cohesive being. Eliminate the contradictions and put an end to all competing inclinations that exist within me.

Then I realize my particular set of traits is what makes me who I am as an individual. Why would I ever want to get rid of that?

I think I only ever make this wish out of a desire to be more easily recognized and understood by others. You know how it is. People love to fit others neatly into a little box. Boxes that can tell the whole story of who we are - as if we are what we do for a living, if we are parents or not, married or not, straight or gay, healthy or sick...

The trouble, of course, is that's never the whole story. It's an oversimplification of our naturally complex existence.

I think this is why I find small talk to be so frustrating. It feels like people are just trying to quickly figure me out, label me and chit chat about that stuff. BUT - I don't work outside the home, I don't work because of my chronic pain conditions, I don't have kids, I like cloudy cool days and healthy food. Not exactly great small talk material. Most people can't relate and/or don't know what to do with that kind of information.

I don't have a whole lot of energy and I would much rather spend it having meaningful or fun conversations with people who are actually interested in more than just the surface facts of my being and who are willing to share more than just the surface facts of their being.

When I really think about it, as much as I wish more people could truly see and understand me, I don't want to be any less complex or authentic to myself. Especially not for such a silly reason. I like that I'm complex. I like that I'm always evolving and learning. Sure beats the alternative.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday

This little dog seems fairly uncertain about the new baby.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

4 Reasons I Waited So Long To Get Help With New Symptoms

First some background
I've been pretty silent on social media for the past week. I've had a tough time recovering from the severe abdominal pain that landed me in the ER the other weekend. The abdominal pain, while still present, hasn't been as bad since about last Tuesday but I've had a tough time managing household tasks and an even tougher time coping with the additional symptoms. Life is complicated and challenging enough between the chronic migraines and fibromyalgia. I guess I wasn't prepared for this complication.

These new symptoms have proven to be a challenge to label. I'm seeing both a GI doc and my OB/GYN. Both docs believe my symptoms MIGHT be explainable within their specialty. I'm quite certain my endometriosis, which hasn't been a problem for many years, is definitely causing more problems now. My GYN doc and I have come up with a plan to eliminate my periods in hopes of cutting way back on the pain. Fingers crossed.

Still, I'm not convinced that the endometriosis is the cause of all the symptoms I'm having. It might be but it might not be. Seems the only prudent thing to do is continue to explore other causes with my GI doc.

Honestly, I waited far too to start seeking help and I'm paying the price for it now.

So I started asking why
I've been asking myself why I waited so long to reach out for help and why I didn't move with more urgency once I did. I think it comes down to 4 basic reasons.

  1. I'm quick to write off pain and other symptoms as part of either my fibromyalgia or chronic migraines. For several months all of my symptoms were vague and not severe enough to be considered abnormal for someone with these conditions. 
  2. I have a fair amount of doctor fatigue and fear about my symptoms not being taken seriously because of my existing chronic pain. The thought of more appointments was daunting. I'm so sick of the paperwork, waiting rooms, not being heard during appointments and having drugs pushed on me. I just didn't want to start going down that road. Plus, these appointments take up so much of my precious time and energy. 
  3. Part of me just didn't want to face more medical issues. I've been dealing with the chronic migraines and fibromyalgia for many years. I know how to do it. Adding an additional condition or two that requires constant attention is going to be very difficult. Doable but difficult. I feel like I'm losing even more of myself.
  4. Since the early years of my chronic life, I've worried that I wouldn't know if something was seriously wrong with me beyond my fibromyalgia and chronic migraines because I have so much wide-spread pain and other symptoms. I was afraid I would either turn into a hypochondriac, running to the doctor with worry every time my symptoms would shift, or I wouldn't take my symptoms seriously enough because I'm just always dealing with pain and other symptoms and then things would get out of hand. Fearing becoming a hypochondriac I guess I swung to the side of overlooking my symptoms. 
I don't know how to strike a balance between giving new or changing symptoms attention and giving them too much attention. I want to learn from this unfortunate incident but I'm not entirely sure that I know how to correct myself.

The only idea I've had is to keep more records. Perhaps if I tracked all my symptoms, all the time I could better identify patterns that are changing and patterns that are new or different. The down side - doing so would eat up some precious time and energy. Plus, it would require me to spend more time focused on my symptoms when I want to focus more on normal life stuff in order to feel more normal.

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Day In The ER

I spent all day in the ER on Saturday with severe abdominal pain. I've been having 3 solid days of pain as my period winds down for most of 2015. But it's been getting worse, much worse and this time it was just intolerable. I wasn't able to eat, I was having trouble drinking, well I was having trouble doing much of anything. Every movement was excruciating. 
Hubby took me to urgent care because there is no such thing as a quick trip to the ER. I figured they could give me some meds to help me function and then I could get with my doctor during the week. Unfortunately, urgent care sent me to the ER saying they can't treat acute abdominal pain. 

After taking all day to verify there wasn't another explanation for my pain, they felt confident it was my endometriosis and sent me home with pain pills to help me through a couple days until I could talk with my doctor. 

I sort of figured my doctor would have 1 or 2 appointment slots available every day for urgent matters that need attention right away and that I would be able to see her today or tomorrow. Unfortunately, that's not how it works. I could have gotten in to see some other random doctor today, someone I've never seen before and isn't familiar with my complicated medical history - Or I could wait until Friday to see my doctor, which is what I'm going to do. 


I need a plan in place before my next period because I don't want to have to go through this again and we need a long term plan so I don't have to deal with this every month. This, on top of everything else! I'm just not up for another big challenge, more disabling pain. I have enough to deal with between my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia. I'm feeling quite overwhelmed.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The 3 Types of Exhaustion

One thing I've learned over the years is that there are different types of exhaustion. I personally experience 3 types:

1. Exhausted And Can Sleep All Day: This is the one that makes the most sense. These are the days when I can take multiple naps and still sleep through the night and still feel exhausted. Pretty straight forward.

2. Exhausted But Can't Sleep Much: This is much more frustrating as it doesn't make any sense. Oh and it's the type I experience most frequently. It doesn't seem to matter what I do on these days, I just can't seem to sleep through the night. I try powering through the day without a nap in hopes that it will help me sleep - but it doesn't. I try to increase my activity level - but that doesn't help. After a couple tough nights like this I simply must nap, no matter the consequences.

3. Exhausted To The Core: This generally only happens after a long stretch of especially hard days. The excessive pain seems to compound the exhaustion and I become physically, mentally and emotionally weak. During these days I'm extra sore when I'm stretching, I can't trust myself to carry anything breakable, I feel like a stiff wind could knock me down and all household tasks feel overwhelming. I truly feel a deep exhaustion that goes to my very core and impacts my entire body.

I'm exhausted all the time so I guess the variety at least keeps things interesting. Then again, it keeps things unpredictable, which is one of the many tortures I am forced to endure. It is what it is.

I bet there are even more types of exhaustion out there. Do you experience other ones?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday

Short and sweet - small dog vs. toy minion.

Have a great day!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Vacation Recovery

I'm currently in vacation recovery mode. 
We stopped at small town in Iowa called Swedisburg
to stetch and snag a picture in front of this
giant dala horse. Gypsy is in my arms but hard to see.

Hubby and I drove up to Wisconsin to spend some time with my mom and sister for a couple days.  It's always so nice to see them but even better when my body cooperates, which it did. I managed to participate in some fun both days we were there. My mom and I painted pottery, I saw my sisters new house and had lunch with an old friend at my favorite restaurant. 

It was exhausting, of course, but totally worth it. 

The drive home was a different story. The whole thing takes us about 8 hours with stops for food, gas and stretching. This is always pretty tough but it was even tougher yesterday because of the sun. The entire way home we were facing the blazing, bright, scorching sun. Our laps and arms cooking without the kindness of clouds or other shades. The air conditioning kept us cool enough but no amount of that or sunglasses can prevent a migraine when spending that much time in the sun. 

By the time we got home I was already well on my way to a nasty migraine. I took my rescue meds and had a good night sleep but the meds are wearing off now and the pain is advancing. 

Nothing unexpected about needing some time to recovery after a trip. No matter how much strategy goes into planning and no matter how low-pressure the trip, the simple truth is that traveling is SUPER HARD on me. That's why we only do it once a year and try to keep it short.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday

Bunnies are cute - no doubt about it. Here is a video to prove just how cute they are.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Summer Round-Up

Can you believe it's September already? Honestly, I don't know what I love more, saying goodbye to summer or saying hello to fall. Even though the fall-like weather doesn't settle into Missouri for a few more weeks, the Minnesotan in me still considers September to be a fall month.

So, as I sit here, excitedly waiting for the temperatures to drop a bit, let's look back at the summer that was.

Summer Favorites

I started watching Holmes Inspection on Netflix this past spring and was instantly hooked. The wonderful thing about this show was that it was full of great information about houses. The premise is that people have bought houses and had inspections that missed major problems. The homeowners quickly find out that the house has these problems and they don't know what to do. Enter Mike Holmes, who goes through the house and does a proper inspection and then helps the homeowners to fix all the problems.

Soon after watching all the available episodes I discovered that Mike (I call him Mike now - as he is now my home advisor) had written several books about how houses work and renovating homes. I got this one - The Holmes Inspection - for myself and quickly devoured it. I learned so much about our house and how to make better choices moving forward. I only wish I had read this 2 summers ago when we were just starting to build our house. We would have done several things differently.

Summer Successes

Much like spring, this summer was all about the painting projects as we continued to work on painting the main living space. I chose a neutral color (beige) because I never, ever, ever want to paint this space again. I wanted the space to be warm and inviting but not have yellow undertones. Once we started painting it became obvious that the exact shade was very dynamic. It clearly has more red than yellow but, as the pictures show, the color looks very different depending on the light and the angle and the time of day it is being looked at. All these walls are the exact same color.

We were able to get one of our vaulted walls done before hubby started his summer class.

Not wanting to lose an entire 8 weeks while hubby learned all about statistics, I went ahead and tackled the wall of windows and the kitchen area. I figured I could handle this on my own since the wall height is only 9'.

The wall of windows didn't take long to paint as there is not actually much wall space between the windows, fireplace and sliding glass door. The real time and hassle was in the prep work - taking down all the drapes, blinds and hardware - taping around the fireplace and woodwork.

I sort of thought the kitchen would be the same way since there is also not a whole lot of wall space. WRONG - so very wrong. Between not being able to tape around the cabinetry and all the bending and climbing, this was by far the hardest painting project I've ever done. The 1st coat of paint actually took about 8 1/2 hours. I was in such bad shape after that, I actually took the next day off to rest before tackling the 2nd coat.

Immediately after hubby's class finished up we took advantage of the 3 day weekend to tackle the biggest wall in the house. This one stretches from the front door to the back door and vaults from 9' to 14' and back down to 9' again. By this time I had already painted on the ladder twice and was beginning to actually adjust. It helps that the task of painting along the ceiling line requires a tremendous amount of focus, but I still found myself sweating quite a bit, especially as I reached the apex.

Even on the step ladder, hubby looks far away from way up at the top.
I still need to put some pictures up to fill all that empty space.
Just this past weekend, we tackled 1 of the 2 remaining painting areas. With a new paint brush and growing confidence on the ladder, I was able to knock-out the edges pretty quickly. Then it was just a matter of rolling on the rest of the wall.

I also started recovering our dining room chairs. I wanted to jazz them up with some color and a fun pattern. Turned out pretty good.

The rosemary I planted outside did really well. I used fresh cuttings of it several times over the summer on some roasted potatoes and have harvested a whole bunch more for use this fall and winter. This was my first attempt at growing rosemary so I was pretty excited that it did as well as it did. It had been so long, I had forgotten how much richer the taste is when it's fresh.

The rose bushes and ornamental grass we planted in the spring are all doing well. I sort of left them alone for most of July and was shocked when I came around the corner and saw just how much they had grown. The instruction/information card they came with said they would grown to 18"-24", but as of today they are almost 36". Much taller than the spiral grass which really did only grow to the expected 18"-24".

They did however each grow differently. You can see
how the closest one only grew from the back of the bush.

Summer Failures

The snow peas were so good!!!
Remember how I was telling you about how well the rosemary I planted did. Well that was the only edible I planted that did well. I also planted strawberries, mint, basil and snow peas. The basil died within a week. I just can't seem to keep basil alive - I blame the insects.

For a few weeks everything else seemed to be doing well. I even got enough snow peas to make a stir fry with it. I had only ever had store bought snow peas before. Hubby and I were so blown away by the taste of the fresh ones that I don't know that I'll ever buy them in the store again. Shortly after, the deer got brave and started coming up to the patio to eat. It started with the strawberries and then the snow peas and then the mint.

I guess they don't like rosemary. Thankfully they also left the marigolds and lemon grass that I had planted for insect control.

Obviously, if I want to grow anything other than rosemary, next year I'll have to make a garden bed and put some kind of a cover on it to keep the animals out. I didn't want to do that but I'm pretty motivated to give the snow peas another go.

Summer Highlights

For me the biggest highlight of the summer was getting a sewing machine. I've wanted one for about 17 years now, I think the years of waiting has made it all the sweeter. Hubby has been offering to get me one for my birthday for a few years but I wanted to wait until we had settled into a house, had the space and I felt like I was going to have the time to start actually using it.

It has been more than a decade since I've actually sewn anything with a machine so I thought I would start with something simple just to get warmed up. I made this pillow cover.

It was a good warm up and now I'm ready to make a bunch more.
Weather-wise we have been very lucky this summer. We had a couple of cool spells in June along with a whole lot of rain, which means a whole lot of clouds. As someone who hates the intense heat and humidity of summer this was a real treat. We even had a nice break from the usual summer-like weather all last week.

Summer Lowlights

The lowlight was really the pain - the extra pain from the painting projects along with the additional abdominal pains that I've been having.

With that out of the way, Welcome Fall. Please, stay as long as you want.

Friday, August 28, 2015

My Complex Relationship With Food is About to Get More Complex

Let me start by saying, I like food. I do. I even like cooking when my pain isn't out of control. I understand my body needs the nutrition and calories to function. I'm totally on board with eating healthy, natural foods.

But I've reached a point where I want to be done with it - all of it. I'm spending far too much time and energy on food stuff between grocery shopping, meal planning, meal preparations, dishes and worrying about getting enough calories, having food in my stomach for certain pills and eating healthy. There is no end. Food should be consumed at least 3 times every single day.

I'm so sick and tired of all the rigmarole. And it's about to get worse.

See, my relationship with food is quite complex.
- I'm sort of a picky eater in that there are lots of foods I won't eat for various reasons that I won't bore you with.
- I'm nauseous all the time and that often interferes with my ability to eat large quantities.
- My body and my mind love eating all kinds of healthy foods but healthy foods don't have enough calories for me to maintain my weight PLUS I have a limited amount of energy to spend on eating so I need my food to be as calorically dense as possible.
- I HATE the taste of salt. I can't eat any dish if I can taste the salt so restaurant meals and frozen dinners are almost always off the table.
- I live with chronic pain so there are days when preparing, consuming and cleaning up a meal is just not possible. I don't have enough good stand-by options to fill in the blanks 3 times a day on all the high pain days.
- I need my diet to be varied. I get bored with foods if I don't have enough variety. I'm constantly trying to come up with new options but it's hard to keep them flavorful, healthy and high enough in calories to maintain my weight, harder still as I'm trying to gain weight.
- One of many reasons why it's hard for me to travel is because I'm a vegetarian with a list of foods I don't eat. Most restaurants are out of the question because the food is almost always over salted and they don't have meat-free options outside of french fries and steamed broccoli. I can't maintain my weight only eating side dishes for any length of time. Even staying at someones house can be challenging because most people don't eat the way I do. PLUS, my appetite struggles when I'm super stressed and out of my routine - the hallmarks of traveling with my chronic pain issues.

Basically, I'm so sick of it all that I wish someone would invent a meal pill. A complete, balanced meal with all the necessary calories in a single pill. No cooking, no dishes, no worry, no time, no energy. Just pop a pill 3 times a day and be done with it. When I think about how much that would help me

And here is where it gets worse. You may remember I attempted to cut wheat out of my diet earlier this year. It ended up not being successful because I wasn't able to find a good replacement for pasta. Within a few weeks it had become so complicated to try and figure out the calories and still enjoy food enough to eat that I gave up. In light of the increasing abdominal pain and other GI symptoms my doc is recommending that I try to eliminate wheat from my diet. He thinks it could have a big impact on some of my symptoms.

I explained to him that I attempted to do this before and why it failed. He set me up with his nurse practitioner who has experience with these sorts of elimination diets, saying that she could help me figure this out. I met with her a couple days ago and have since been trying to digest her suggestions.

When it comes down to it, my meeting with her was not very helpful. During our conversation she kept forgetting that I'm a vegetarian and then when I would remind her she would begin worrying about my nutrition instead of the wheat thing. I guess she's one of those people who wrongly thinks that consuming meat is the only way to get enough nutrition. She kept telling me to go to Whole Foods and buy more fruit - as if that had anything to do with anything. Besides, the Whole Foods around here don't have the best produce so I don't know what she was thinking.

Then she kept making suggestions that would cut my calories and I would point out that I needed to make sure that my replacements would provide at least as much calories as I had before. So then she would talk about frozen meals and I would explain that I can't do that because of the high salt content. And the cycle would start again. Anyway, all she really did was give me a print out with websites and books about going gluten free - that's not even what I'm trying to do.


I do still think I should go ahead and give the wheat-free thing another shot. The additional pains and such are problematic enough at this point to warrant the effort. But I'm sort of on my own for trying to figure it out and honestly I don't know if I can do it. I'm already super fatigued of all the fuss and hassle surrounding food so the thought of trying to figure out how to replace all the wheat I eat with every single meal and snack feels impossible.

Even if I'm successful I feel like this will be a big complication in my already complicated life. It will make eating out even harder than it is now. It will make all family functions harder because they always center around food and without meat or wheat there will be nothing I can eat at our gatherings. Traveling will be harder. All of this is on top of the extensive list of things I have to do or avoid doing to manage my chronic migraines and fibromyalgia.

Of course, if it helped me to feel better my daily quality of life would improve, which would be worth all the hassle. Just another unwanted change. They kind of pile on, don't they?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Whimsy Wednesday

It's been a while since I've given you a clip from Curb Your Enthusiasm - too long as far as I'm concerned. Here is a great one with Larry David calling out a guy who hasn't parked within the lines.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

2 Simple Reasons To Love American Ninja Warrior

Are you guys watching America Ninja Warrior? I love this show. If you've never seen it before, it's a series of obstacle courses, increasing in difficulty from super hard to near impossible. The course is open to adult men and women, 21 years of age and older, from all walks of life. It's a test of skill and strength (physical and mental).

All summer, my Monday nights are spent on the couch watching. That's how it'll be until NBC decides to stop airing it. Hopefully that won't happen any time soon.

So why do I love Ninja Warrior so much? Well, there are 2 main reasons:

1. These obstacle course are incredibly difficult. The fact that people are able to do them at all is remarkable. Some of the competitors are professional athletes but most are not. They are parents, professionals, students, regular people who want to challenge themselves. It's fun to watch as the courses get more difficult and the number of competitors dwindles until just a handful are left. I'm amazed at what human being are physically capable of doing, each and every episode.

2. The level of support and camaraderie among the competitors is impressive and unmatched in the sporting world. A big part of the reason why I don't like watching professional sports is because of the culture of poor sportsmanship. I don't think there is anything wrong with being competitive but these days it can be hard to find competition and sportsmanship together. Ninja Warrior doesn't have any trash talking, mind games or the like. Instead the competitors are rooting for one another, sincerely pulling for and supporting each other. When someone falls, everyone is disappointed. They are good people, in a pure competition and I love that.

At this point all of the city finals are complete and those who qualified will now be competing in Las Vegas in the final 4 courses. But don't worry, if you've missed the city qualifying and finals courses you can watch them on YouTube any time. It won't take long before you're hooked too.