Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Ups and Downs of Spring

And just like that it's summer again. How did this happen? Spring has been a blur of ups and downs, mostly downs. Let's take a quick look back at how it went.

Spring Favorites

Hubby won an Amazon Echo. It's a voice operated device that streams music and can answer questions about the weather, traffic and other basic online searchable information. It can actually do other things like operate lights in the house but I'm not interested in having it do such things.

I have to admit, this isn't something I would have spent money on and I wasn't even sure if I was going to like it. As it turns out, I love it. Mostly for the music. I spent hours searching and adding music from Amazon Prime to my account. Delighted to find lots of great stuff that I love listening to. Now I just ask Alexa to play a song, an artist or an album and she does it. I don't have to get up, I don't have to mess with menus or remotes. It's so easy and so much fun!!

Spring successes

This has been a tough spring overall and I haven't had a chance to tackle any of the projects I wanted to. But that doesn't mean I didn't have any success. The biggest success of the season was finding an excellent Chinese restaurant near our house. Okay, I get that this sounds a bit silly so let me give you some background info. I grew up in a city with lots of great Chinese restaurants - one in particular was outstanding. The food was consistently incredible. The owners and staff were wonderful. The ambiance, better than I've ever seen anywhere else. Yep, a real triple threat. Not to mention the history and nostalgia I had with the place.

Since leaving good old Rochester, MN about 9 years ago, I've been unable to find its equal. I don't expect any other place to have the wonderful staff, incredible ambiance and certainly not the nostalgia of my favorite place back home. I just never guessed it would be so hard to find the high quality and tasty food they provided. I thought about the food often. Craving it.

After so many trials and so much disappointment, I was blown away and delighted when we tried yet another Chinese restaurant and found it to be fantastic! The ambiance is uninteresting but the food is at least as good as it was at my favorite place back home. Now we can enjoy Chinese food from time to time. We've already been twice since discovering it last month but I think I could eat it every day without getting sick of it.

Ok so it may still sound silly to be so excited about this. Funny how the little things can become big.

The only other success of the season was finding a great dog sitter. We left our animals with hubby's cousin's daughter for a couple nights when we attended a wedding. It couldn't have gone better. Our animals behaved. She is trustworthy and seemed to enjoy herself. That means when we travel north to visit my family we don't have to take her with us now. That will be a relief.

Spring failures
Well failures were plentiful this spring.

I planted bulbs last fall in planters on either side of our garage door. I waited patiently all winter and well into the spring for the flowers to bloom. A couple of them tried to grow but never got bigger than this.

I watched as bulbs around the neighborhood bloom and start to die before I gave up and planted summer flowers.

Then I planted some rosemary and snow peas. The rosemary does really well in patio pots here and then we get to enjoy the harvest all year. But the snow peas are not happy. Last year they did well in a patio pot before one of the many wildlife critters in our backyard discovered them. This year I had a plan to keep them safe from critters but it doesn't matter because at this rate it will be completely dead in about a week.

I don't know what has gone wrong. I will have to do some research before trying again next year. Snow peas taste so fantastic straight from the garden so it's worth the effort.

The biggest failure of the season was our attempt to attend an out-of-town wedding. You may remember me writing about the ordeal the April. I thought, since it was only a couple hours away by car, I would be able to manage. I was wrong. I had a migraine the entire time.

With lots of medication I was able to show up to the events. However, I didn't get to really enjoy myself like I wanted, didn't get nearly as many pictures as I wanted and I didn't get socialize with everyone I wanted to, plus it was just miserable fighting a migraine the whole time and being away from home. Lesson learned. From now on, we only attend local weddings.

Spring highlights
You know I love my firepits. Once it got warm enough we dug up the old pit and have enjoyed a fire every weekend since.

This is by far my favorite thing to do. With summer weather gearing up we won't have many more opportunities left but we will take advantage of every one.

Spring lowlights
My endometriosis has been a real problem this spring. Lots of blood, lots of pain, lots of frustrating conversations with Optum Rx, the pharmacists and my doctor. Right now things are okay but I thought that same thing last fall so I've adopted a wait and see approach.

The trouble in our neighborhood has been the other big lowlight of the season. This continues to be a source of much stress. I am hopeful that will we at least have some answers by the end of the summer.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Why Don't Doctors Wash Their Hands More?

I grew up getting all of my medical care from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN because I grew up in Rochester, MN. Because of this, I grew up expecting a certain level of care - like hand washing.

Each and every time a doctor entered the exam room, the first thing he or she would do is wash their hands. Every room had a leg operated sink so they could wash right in front of you without fear of contamination. Not that 7 year old me cared about such things. Still, I saw it being done and thought it to be normal procedure.

I don't think I've watched a single doctor wash their hands before doing an exam since leaving Rochester almost a decade ago. And I've been to doctors in North Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC and all over the St Louis area in that time. What I do see is the use of those disposable gloves. Gloves that are retrieved with dirty hands and handled by dirty hands during the process of being put on, doesn't exactly feel like it will protect me from whatever the last patient had or whatever is on the handles and laptops the doctor has touched on the way to me.

Now obviously not every interaction with a doctor requires freshly washed hands. If we are just going to talk then I don't mind because I take responsibility to use the hand sanitizer on my way out to protect myself from the germ-filled doctors office or hospital. But when they are going to be giving injections, doing exams, etc. I feel like they ought to be washing their hands before putting on their gloves. And I mean right before doing so.

The unwashed handling of gloves feel like either a formality or a means of protecting themselves from us without protecting us from them. Clearly, the gloves should do both but I don't see how it can protect us from them if they don't wash their hands first. The truth of the matter is that hospitals and medical offices are some of the dirtiest places around. We should all be doing everything we can to protect against the spreading to germs.

Hand washing is so very simple and so very effective. So why don't doctors wash their hands more?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Whimsy Wednesday - SNL Says Good-Bye to Bernie

The SNL season finale aired this past weekend. As they said good-bye for the summer they also seemed to be saying good-bye to the wonderful Bernie Sanders, played by Larry David. In case you missed it, here is it.

Have a great day!!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Chronic Pain Twisted My Sense of Humor

Recently I came to the realization that my sense of humor has gotten a little twisted over the past decade of living with chronic pain. Not entirely sure how or when it happened but I find myself now being tickled by things that aren't exactly funny.

I've decided to put this in the category of 'reasons I'm no longer very good in social situations', along with the other myriad of reason.

So how exactly did chronic pain twist my sense of humor? Has this happened to anyone else?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Losing a Good Doctor

The news came by mail. The wonderful PCP doctor I just found, after 5 years of searching, is leaving her practice. I'm losing the first PCP I've liked since leaving Minnesota some 10 years ago. I'm so sad to be losing a good doc. I'm both frustrated and scared that I have to start doctor hunting again. I HATE DOCTOR HUNTING!!!

Over the years I've learned that good doctors with good support staff are hard to come by. Far too many are dismissive, overworked, uninterested in complicated hard to control medical conditions, experiencing burn out, or just don't see any value in the patient perspective/experience. Being a patient in a broken medical office is pointless and dehumanizing. Unfortunately, these broken offices are more common than well run ones.

Worst of all, there seems to be no way, other than trial and error, to weed out the bad ones. There isn't really a good source for reliable reviews. Every recommendation I've ever gotten is for a doctor who doesn't take new patients. You can't call them up and ask whoever answers the phone if this is a good place with good doctors. Patients have surprisingly few rights when it comes to information about doctors.

The process feels like a battle. It takes so much time, so much energy, and for some reason feels adversarial between the bad attitudes, lack of attention to important details and being dismissed as crazy or unknowledgeable.

This is the last thing I need right now with everything else going on.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Whimsy Wednesday from SNL

Short and very funny - SNL makes a commercial for President Barbie.

Have a great day!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Important Information About Prescription Costs

I came across this disturbing story a few days ago and thought all of you who get prescription drugs might find it interesting as well. I wasn't able to find it on YouTube so this link will have to do.

Basically, it exposes a common practice where sometimes the co-pay we pay for a prescription is actually more expensive than the drug would be at full price, without insurance. Worst of all, the pharmacy isn't allowed to warn up that when it is happening - but they are allowed to tell us the truth if we ask.

Check out the link below for the full story about this shady practice:
Co-Pay or You Pay? Prescription Drug Clawbacks Draw Fire.

While on the subject I thought I would also include another interesting story about waste that happens with injectable medications. This story is specific to cancer medications but it's easy to see how this could be happening with any medication that gets injected at the doctor's office. Are we over paying for Botox, Depo Provera, Tordol or others?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Whimsy Wednesday - Updated Lyrics to the song Ironic

I love this updated version of the classic Alanis Morissette song Ironic.

Have a great day!!

Monday, May 9, 2016

3 Ways Texting Can Help Migraineurs

When I finally started texting about 3 years ago (yep, it actually took me that long to get on the bandwagon) I didn't expect that it would make my life easier but that's exactly what has happened. Once I got into it, I realized that it allowed me to communicate with people in a migraine friendly fashion, which has increased my socialization and helped me to communicate with people better. 

Over the years I've come to rely heavily on texting. In fact, I now believe that this the most migraine friendly form of communication. Here are the top 3 ways texting is helpful to this migraineur.

1. Texting allows me to respond in my own time. If I'm in a lot of pain and just don't feel well enough to talk, I can wait to respond to a text when I feel up to it. This also allows me the opportunity to communicate that I'm not feeling well but will get back to you. 

2. Texting allows my brain time to think and compose my thoughts. Sometimes I don't feel well enough to talk because of my brain fog but I do feel well enough to take my time and respond to a text. This way I still get to enjoy an interaction and stay in touch with friends and family.

3. Texting is a pressure free environment. Communicating in real time is wonderful - no doubt about it - but it can also be challenging for me. Sometimes my brain gets stuck or the environment becomes overwhelming (too many people, too much noise, etc) and that can make responding in real time difficult for me. Texting saves me from the frustration and embarrassment of my migraine/fibromyalgia ravaged brain. All of this by simply removing the pressure of an immediate verbal response required in a normal conversation.

Living with chronic pain is quite hard, which is why I'm always thrilled when I discover a way to make life a little easier. I'm so thankful for a unlimited texting! Wouldn't want to go without.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Whimsy Wednesday

Sometimes I just need a fun song to help lift my spirits. This one always does the trick.

Have a great day!!!

Monday, May 2, 2016

I Just Don't Feel Well Enough to Deal With How I'm Disppointing Others on Top of How I'm Disappointing Myself

I just don't feel well enough.

That's what it usually comes down to. I don't feel anywhere close to well enough to hold a real job. I don't feel well enough to travel. I don't feel well enough to go to concerts. I don't feel well enough to do all the outdoor projects I want to. I don't feel well enough to do more than one or two things per day. I just don't feel well enough to live life the way healthy people do. 

Trying to cope with this harsh reality is a daily struggle. Trying to get others to understand what it's like is just impossible. Even if there was some way to accurately communicate what it's like , people don't tend to truly believe and understand unless they experience something themselves. Still, when it comes down to it, I don't even feel well enough to try to really explain to everyone in my life what it's like. It's complicated enough trying to live with and manage my chronic migraines, fibromyalgia and endometriosis.

I find myself putting a great deal of energy and effort into being understanding of the judgment and insensitivity that result from people not understanding. I get so frustrated and upset sometimes. Yes, yes, I know this is tough for everyone and I understand why. But I can't necessarily do things the way others want me to do things. I can't be the person others wish I was. I can't even be who I wish I was. I just don't feel well enough to deal with how I'm disappointing others on top of how I'm disappointing myself. 

While at times I feel responsible for educating those around me, I know there is only so much I can do. And most of what I can do is work on coping with all the realities, including judgment and insensitivity. Damn.