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.