Saturday, December 31, 2011

Adrenal Little Dream of Me

I know I have already talked about this, but this is MY blog, not yours, and I have unresolved issues.  Deal.

Sky King and I had an amazing first date with Dr. M.  He's a Rheumy, but he's not all Western-medicine-y.  Let me clarify: He is NOT, to my knowledge, a witch doctor. He IS formally schooled, from a college that has a seal that looks official, AND he worked with Sutter Hospital (a real hospital that works on real humans that mostly survive, in our area) but he has also spent lots of time actually working with patients with autoimmune issues, and looking at the subtle differences of these people's bodies, rather than merely consulting the book of "shit we are allowed to do, that will give some relief but not so much that the patient actually gets better, and she will continue to come in, paying those co-pays, and popping those pills".

Now don't get me wrong.  I WILL take drugs-if they are warranted. Along with other lifestyle changes.  But the very second my doctor tries to blame my problems on all the shit in my head, I get all glassy-eyed, and start thinking about fruity marshmallows and new boots.

I agree that there is shit in my head, and that is ain't helpin'.  No arguments. But, when I have no pain, my head is better. Not the other way around. No pain = no head problems.  Pain = depression, anxiety and despair.  And no little whiny-voiced pipsqueak in a white coat is going to convince me otherwise.

So, the new dude.  Super awesome, all listen-y and shit, and asked all kinds of questions. Now, he's running tests for Lyme (and, he's running the test that is actually accurate), for adrenal function, thyroid function, and a bunch of other things like parasites (THAT was a fun test...). We hope to either 1) figure out what treatments to start, or 2) rule out a bunch of things, and have a new round of tests to do. Either way, we will be on our way to some sort of firm plan.

Before you get all excited that that small mention of the tests was all I was going to say on the subject,

 Yep.  that is a kit.  The first one is for adrenal function.  The way it works is this: 4 times per day-roughly 1 hour before meals, I take a cotton thingy (just like the ones they put in the holes where teeth used to be, to soak up the blood) and jam it under my tongue.

 It's like a mouth tampon! Yummm.

If I am too much of a wuss for that, I can drool into the tubes until up to the line near the top. But I'm not a wuss, I rock. So I took that cotton thingy, and jammed it under my tongue, until I was dehydrated.  Then I take the slobbery mess, and pop it into a tube, label it with my name, birth date, time and favorite color, and put it in the fridge.  I do it 3 more times, until I can't stands no mo. Doing this will explain my adrenal function (which controls cortisol, among other things) and will tell the doc if I need a teensy bit 'o somethin' to even that out, thereby solving all the world's problems, via my energy levels.

But, we also want to know if I have issues with yeast or parasites.  Where do parasites live?  In the yucky parts.  What kind of samples would I need to provide?  Yucky ones.

Notice the handy-dandy french fry container (Nacho container? Hot dog boat? How many other comfort foods can I ruin for you?) and the gloves.  Yep, that's what the trays are for, and the gloves are to prevent the yucky from touching me.

Then, you open the tube, and use the tube lid scooper to *ahem* scoop some samples into the vials. Then I shake it all up, to create a very nice poop soup. (Ha, ruined soup for you, too!) Then, it goes in the fridge.
Because I get to do it the next day too!
Lather, rinse, repeat.

Put it all into the baggy, then into the box, then seal the box, then into the FedEx baggy, then seal the baggy, then put it in the fridge, atop a chocolate cream pie. So the kids won't eat the pie. Or anything else from that shelf. Ever.

See? Do I know how to party on the weekends, or what? (To be fair, there have been reports that Ozzy threw a decapitated bat at audience members, and Amy Winehouse reportedly snotted onstage, so really, what I did isn't all that icky.  And, it was for science. Which makes it better.)

So, next Friday, we meet with him again, and we will have some more answers. We are both looking forward to it-because we will know what our next move is. Wish us luck!

What gross things have you ever done on a first date?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Statue of My Discontent

A while back, I told you all about needing to go to a Neurologist (and her student pet who tested me at length, and had the audacity to allow me to leave and mingle among normal humans until the results came back) about my memory issues.  Well, I probably said something totally disingenuous about following up with you.

In the interest of keeping everyone on their toes, I AM following up with you. 

I went back in to see the chick that gave me the tests that made me feel as if I was moments away from a meeting with some large strong men who would lead me into a soft lair where I could drool myself into oblivion. I know, I'm a glutton for punishment.  And, since they let me leave the first go-round, I figured I was pretty safe this time as well.

So I go in, and we touch base, and she asks me if there have been any changes. Well, it's been a whole freaking month, so OF COURSE things have changed. I'm well into my supply of mirtazapine for sleep, which I have to cut in half on the days I want to drive like a sane person before 9 am. Which makes me not sleep.  But I have to still take it to keep it in my system, because it needs to build up to be truly helpful, because it's a mood stabilizer, that happens to make people sleepy. (Why is it that my depression is worse and I now have anxiety, since being put on antidepressants for pain, and a mood stabilizer for sleep?) I am however sleeping better, and enjoying the hell out of that.

(Sorry, another side track...)

I have never been a sleeper-inner.  Sleeping in is for people who are sick, or lazy. Now, all of a sudden, 6 may wake me, but 6:15 is like Unisom.  All I have to do is close my eyes for a couple moments, and poof.  Done. Next thing I know, I'm up, shuffling to the potty and the world is going on without me. Sky King is up, coffee is made, the kiddos are well into their snuggly blanket-underpants-cartoon-cereal fest.  I can even go to bed at 9, and not wake significantly until 9 the next day.  Before you get all, "that means you're getting too much sleep" on me, shut your whore mouth.  I'm different.  Special.  So special, I get to sleep as long as my body wants to/can. Because I have "sleep disturbances" like grinding my teeth, talking in my sleep, smacking my mouth, coughing, and light snoring. And this means I do not get good sleep, and probably have not gotten good sleep in a looooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggg time. I know I ground/grinded? my teeth since at least the age of 12, so I got some serious catching up to do. And since I'm a perfectionist, I'm really going to apply myself. Jammies will become my new work-wear.

Okay, I'm back.  So, I am catching up with my neuro student, and we are talking about sleep. Then, we talked about my Rheumy, Dr. W  whom I hate with the intensity of a thousand suns, for dismissing my symptoms as offshoots from depression.  She understood, and encouraged me to get a new one, which we all know I did.  She also said to find a new primary, which I have been totally meaning to, but I FORGOT.  She doesn't laugh at the irony, which makes me hate her just a little. Then, we talked about the need to make sure the meds are all working, and to get into psych for one person to manage all the meds, so that there are no problems combining, which makes a certain amount of sense. And, since that money tree in the backyard started spouting $20s, I'm flush with co-pays.

Then, it was on to the results portion of the visit. She said there's a short version, and a long version. The short version is this:

I'm a freaking genius.  People will one day erect statues of me to show their children what true brilliance looks like.

The long story is this:
In actuality, they DID test my intelligence, because then they do tests on things like rote memory, reasoning, spatial reasoning, etc. and compare it to people just as dumb, or smart, as I am. So, they need to know what kind of moron I am to begin with, so they can properly assess my results.  Turns out, I'm one smart cookie. Then, it also turns out, I did exceptionally well on all portions of the test. Which means that, 1) That statue is moments away*, 2) Something really amazing is going to be discovered soon*, and 3) they don't know anything more than they did two months ago. They don't know why I forget to pay bills I have the money for, why I have conversations I can't recall, why I put cereal away in the fridge and ice cream away in the pantry. It ain't because I'm a dumb ass, apparently. And, it doesn't seem to be because there's something amiss in the noggin. So, they are even more confused.  Maybe I'm so damned smart, I will discover what is wrong with myself.  Wouldn't that be a kick in the pants?

So we are pretty much right where we were a while ago. And, I said that already, but I can't remember saying it. And I don't need an MRI to confirm they don't know anything more about me, or why I can't remember. Got it?

Me neither. But, I don't need to take a Valium and hang out in an MRI tube for an hour, so I'm cool with it all.

yadda yadda yadda. Not much, but something. Now, if I could only get her to jot down that IQ for future use:

Me: :::parallel parking downtown by work, using my rear-view camera to get within a millimeter of the bumper behind me, making sure to give each bumper a gentle kiss with my bumper:::

Stranger: What the fuck? Are you a complete moron? You totally hit my Nova, bitch! Now I gotta get it hammered out, and detailed.
Me: No, sir.  In fact, you can see right here (as I pull out my handy dandy IQ card) I'm actually quite brilliant. So brilliant I don't have room in my brain for dealing with mediocre shit like proper parking. It's called a bumper for a reason. Otherwise, it'd be called a "non-bumper" or an "avoider". Go fuck yourself.


Sky King: Hey, sweetie? Why did you put the ice cream away in the pantry?
Me: Because being at room temperature brings out the mocha-y goodness. And then I can drink it with the straw without going through the hassle of blending it, and dirtying up the blender, which you would have to clean, because I'm late for my nap. That's me, being thoughtful. You're welcome.

That is what all those extra IQ points get you.  Totally worth it, right?

*It is highly unlikely that there will be a statue of me erected any time soon. And if there was, I'm pretty sure it would not inspire much, except maybe a repeal of the 1st Amendment. Also, I don't anticipate discovering what the hell is wrong with me, unless Dr. Google gets a lot smarter. I didn't take chemistry-I took "senior Science" because i didn't want pesky studying to interfere with teenage sex

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Apple Pie and the Forgotten Christmas

This Christmas, we had a wonderful time. Since I became ill, I have struggled tremendously with my inability to do what I want, when I want. This has been a major loss, and like any loss, one that I continue to mourn. However, I have gained quite a bit as well. For you anal-retentive readers, this post will be jam-packed and chock-full of helpful charts and graphs. Well, not that fancy, because frankly I suck at them. But I will use the "tables" feature. Which is pretty damn spiffy, and linear. You're welcome, OCD people.

As I reflect on the year I have just endured, I'm not as sad as I expected to be. I have not lost friends, as many with invisible illnesses do. I have not lost the respect of colleagues, nor have I lost income from the inability to work. I really do have much to be thankful for. I actually thought the losses would clearly outweigh the gains, but that hasn't happened. When I reflect (and am NOT having a pity party, which happens, get over it, who's the sick bitch around here, anyways?), this is what I see:

Choice to participate in physically taxing things
Ability to enjoy watching my children
Ability to work full time
Two very capable Directors at work, whom make sure things run perfectly when I’m away
Time with my children

Time with my husband

The ability to rely heavily on those around me

The ability to roll with the punches day to day, sometimes hour to hour

I could make this longer, but I am nice. And lazy. And I only have a 2 hour spot, because my bitch primary care doc thinks I don't need handicapped parking, so I have to move my car every two hours. When I can find it.

Anyhoo, not too shabby, right? I have really transformed, in terms of some major things in my life. I still try to do too much, but on a smaller scale. I still talk too much, am loud, say the wrong thing at the wrong time. You know, I've stayed awesome. But I have found my voice, fallen in love with writing again, and been able to work on taking a step back to enjoy the NOW, rather than spend so much time stressing about the LATER. I still stress, or else I would not be me, but just not as much.

OK. Apparently, I still veer horribly off-track. I wanted to talk about Christmas.

So, we had the usual suspects at our house-my family, Sky King's family, some family friends, the neighbor kids that come and go all year long. There was tons of food, and conversation clusters all over-out by the smoker while the turkey and ham did their thing, inside by the tree, in the living room, in the family room, in the kitchen. Even in the kiddos' bedrooms. People meandered and mingled like at any great party. The focus was on the gathering, not the gifts. Kids ran around, inside and out, and it was all in all a great time. My brother had even brought over some apple-pie-drink-concoction that he got from a friend. He passed it around, with a warning to take it easy.

He must not have been loud enough with the "take it easy" warning. That, or people in California don't know what Everclear is (it's the closest thing to grain alcohol you can get, and illegal in CA). Apparently, cinnamon makes grain alcohol taste like love, kindness, and rainbows. Because by the time dinner was supposed to be ready, everyone was feeling pretty good. We have the empty wine bottles to prove it (we use bottled wine for the holidays because we are classy, we save the boxed stuff for the drive-in movies, and for drinking during the week).
But that darn turkey. It just wouldn't get to the right temp! So, Sky King stoked the fire, added more charcoal, threw in some white gas, and used an arc welder. Nothing was making this bird get done.
And, just like any good venue, there are not a lot of clocks around. No one was paying attention to the time, and kids weren't complaining about being hungry because the tables were filled with candies and cookies.
2 hours later, the apple pie moonshine was dusted, and we all stumbled to the buffet line. Casseroles were glopped into plates, gravy was poured, and children were stunned, wide-eyed at the crazed antics of 20-something shit-faced adults. The ones that weren't drunk were hopped up on cold meds.

By the time dessert came, Sky King had endured a tall glass of water upside the head and my parents had told both me and my brother things along the lines of "I never heard THAT story" or, "I'm not sure I want to hear this", because apparently that damned moonshine was like truth serum. One of my sister-in-laws had lost most of the evening, and the next day had to piece it all together from the snips some of us could recall. Most people received or gave an apology or two. I lost my cell phone, but gained my composure. No, wait.  I didn't gain that.  I did get some cool gifts I needed, though.  Also, we have tons of food crammed into the fridge, so we are set for the week. And fun was had by all.

What was the final score?

3 pounds
1 Droid X Phone
37 pounds of leftovers
All Droid X Phone notes, apps, etc. (luckily, addresses and calendars were backed up)
1 collapsible cane
3 hours of time by most attendees
1 Xoom tablet

Looks like a Win-win, am I right?

*not really-I don't know how to get liver enzymes, and if I did, I'm sure it would be at least slightly illegal

Apple Pie Moonshine

Credit given to Dave at Good Ole Ways,

1 gallon Apple Cider
½ gallon Apple Juice
7 Cinnamon Sticks
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 ¾ Cups Brown Sugar
4 Cups (32 oz.) Everclear (Grain Alcohol)
REMEMBER Add after it has cooled to room temperature.

Combine first five ingredients in large pot, stir in the sugar until it has dissolved and boil for 15 minutes, you are doing this to create a syrup to add the alcohol into. Remove from heat. Let it cool to room temperature, if you don’t let it cool you will lose alcohol due to evaporation. Remove cinnamon sticks and then add 4 cups of Everclear. Pour into some mason jars or glass bottles. This makes about 7 quarts. This recipe will be about 13-15% alcohol or 26-30 proof, it will depend on how much liquid evaporates when you are boiling the ingredients. Enjoy

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Suckers, Each and Every One of Us.

Tonight, the dinner party had dwindled down to a smaller crowd.  There was Sky King's Dad, my parents, my brother, and a couple of our dearest friends.  The boys were off shooting their eyes out, and the girls were using Barbie dolls to reenact their own personal battles with each other while simultaneously trashing both our bedroom, and Princess' as well. Parents of the younger children had gone home, probably to put their kids to bed so they could drink heavily in peace.

We had all gathered at one table and we were chatting it up, covering all kinds of subjects: How Sky King and I met, stories from our childhoods-things we did as kids, you know, just chatter amongst friends. We had talked about things we had done recently as well, and a story from our recent trip to San Francisco to take the kiddos to see the decorations came up-some of them had not heard the full version-and it's a doozy:

:::traveling back to approximately December 19:::

We are sitting in a diner, enjoying a mediocre dinner (Sky King ordered breakfast-he knew better-diners just don't do dinner well, and when will I learn this?).  All of a sudden, Sky King says to Princess, "Hey Princess!  I bet you a hundred dollars you can't lick your elbow!".  This got my attention because 1) it was a totally random thing to say, and 2) where the hell is he going to get a $100?  I have a $100 bill in my wallet, but I have plans for it, which do not involve being handed over to a 7 year old on behalf of a man who knows better.  But then, he DID bet her she couldn't lick her elbow.  Which we all know is a physical impossibility. Check this out, but avoid the part where it says it's an urban legend.  We have all tried, we have all failed. So, I'm slightly confident.  However.  HOWEVER.  Princess is bendy. Like, crammed-into-a-crane-game bendy. For a moment (and the rest of the decade) I will ignore the implications of this information-because she is also very outgoing, hug-y and loves to snuggle.  This is me, being not thrilled with the prospect of her, dating.  But I said I would ignore that. So, moving on...Princess has just been told she can't do something.  But if she can, there's an endless supply of cash (because, holy shit, $100 is serious cash when you're 7!) in it for her.  So, she tries.  And she manages to quite easily lick the depression right next to the pointy part of her elbow.  But we all know that is NOT the official elbow. So she tries.  She twists, and turns, and Sky King gives me a look that says, "Wow! Are you seeing this?" and "Holy Shit!  She might do it, and I will have to pay up holyshitholyshitholyshit!" all at once. Princess is working hard, beads of sweat forming. But she's determined: a lifetime supply of gummy bears is at stake.

Finally, FINALLY, she does it.  She licks the very point of her elbow.  And right away, she gets an excited spark in her eye, and she exclaims, "I did it!! I really did it!  Didja see?" and Sky King is all, "Wow.  You really did.   :::pregnant pause:::  Okay, I'll give you $20".  Well, we all know $20 isn't shit.  She's 7, not 2.  You can't be all, "hey, I'll trade you that torn up piece of paper for this shiny snack-size baggy full of nickels" with this one. Remember, she's cute AND smart.  She responds, quite huffily, "No.  You SAID $100.  Pay up."

Well, what would you do?  Probably the same thing my dear SK did: turn to your wife, and say, "Well, I guess we gotta pay her.  You got $100?"

Here's a pic, right before she gets it:

By the way, she eventually did it, multiple times, both coming from the inside and from around the top. The girl is primo circus material.

And here she is, after:

Now, I don't have a pic of the next thing that happened.  It would break your heart. 

She was sitting there, and somehow the subject of peppers, and eating them, came up.  Monkey Boy picked one up off his dad's plate, and Princess said, "I bet you $100 you won't eat that pepper".  Sky King IMMEDIATELY says, "WAIT.  If he eats it, you WILL pay.  I'm not joking..."  Princess says, "Fine".  This is all MB needs to pop that pepper into his mouth, stem and all. I didn't even think he chewed the damn thing. Just, Gulp.  Did I say pepper?  That's what my kids call deli peppers, or pepperocini.  Not only is it incredibly mild for a pepper, but Monkey Boy thinks $100 is pretty freaking amazing as well-he sees ammo and airsoft assault rifles in his future.  Hell, I'm fairly certain he'd eat rat meat for $100.  In fact, I can't imagine too many things he WOULDN'T eat for $100.  After all, he is MY kid. 

He swallows and says, "Pay up" with his hand outstretched. Princess thinks she has him beat, because she pulls her hands from under the table, and has her fingers crossed on both hands.

Well now.

I don't know about you, but in my world, crossies don't count unless you call them.  And no one in their right mind lets crossies count, ever.  Even when Veruca Salt swears to not share her everlasting gobstopper with Mr. Slugworth, we all know that she is fibbing and naughty, and there will be hell to pay.  Crossies just don't count. It's a fucking rule, people.

Here's the dilemma: Sky King and I have 2 options.

2. Explain that Princess didn't quite understand the universal rules about crossies, we can have a do-over, and if she ever does that again, we will hold her responsible.

Bet you're glad you aren't me right about now, right?

Sky King softly says to me, amid the sobs, "She needs to learn this. She will never ever forget this as long as she lives." I can tell you, everything in me wants to give in to Princess-she ain't named Princess 'cause it's cute.  But, I have recently had to agree to work harder with Sky King to hold our kiddos accountable as I tend to be the more vocal parent, but also the one who gives in the most.  I admit it-I'm a bit indulgent here and there, and I let them get away with things that I recently found out drive Sky King to drink.  So, I do what I have to do: I stand beside him.

I quietly explained the concepts involved: Crossies never count, don't bet your brother, stop crying before people think I'm pinching you under the table.  You know, the good stuff. After 15 minutes of tears, I take Princess to the bathroom to settle down, while giving Sky King a look that says, "Thanks for ruining our night.  I will repay you soon.  A lot."

We return from the bathroom, as her sobs have diminished to silent tears. We leave, and I can see in Monkey Boy's eyes that he wants to make it all better (See? He doesn't hate her...). He leans in, and I hear him whisper that he's going to buy a small thing for her with some of his winnings.  She keeps her head down and arms crossed, defeated, but nods and leans into him. We go on with the rest of our night, devastation forgotten amid the lights and bustle of the city.

A few days later Monkey Boy came home from his shopping expedition. He showed off his new weapons, and went up to his sister, handed her $20, and says, "Hey, Princess.  Here you go. You can go buy something with this".  She is thrilled, and jumps in for a rare Monkey Boy hug-he's the hero, and she's cool with it all.  These are rare moments, and I will take them however I get them.  Sky King will still pay, though-that sweet hug just cost me $100.

:::back to the Now:::

Everyone at the Christmas dinner table remarked on how we shouldn't have bet in the first place, and Sky King must have had a drink or too to be so careless (he had) and how mad I must have been (I was) and how they hoped we learned something (we didn't). This led to a discussion about Sky King telling the kiddos crazy whacked out things that have cost us serious cash. 

Sky King protested, and I reminded him about The Candy.  He stopped talking for a moment, searching the recesses of his brain squinted his eyes just a bit, and I saw the flicker of recognition. This prompted the telling of another story:

About 2 years ago in the Fall, we ventured down to Old Sacramento. Old Sacramento is an area of Downtown that is devoted to the history of the area-the gold rush, the establishment of California, Western themes abound.
We wandered around, possibly went to the train museum, possibly just went down to walk around-and have dinner at Joe's Crab Shack-for a chain it's pretty decent, and the kids love it.  Like any good "Old" town, Old Sac has a couple old-time penny candy stores.  You know the ones-you go in and grab a small basket with a rolled wooden handle and wander among the barrels filled with penny candy: taffy of every flavor, sour balls, root beer barrels, bit o honeys, whatever.  And, they usually give out a sample to get you in the door.  We get suckered in, the kiddos screaming, "free dessert!", us relenting because we are weak from over-eating seafood. And, now that I think about it, Sky King may have had a couple cocktails-is this a theme?  I will ponder that one later.

We go in the shop, the kids chomping on their samples.  They start wandering, reading the signs, grabbing a piece here and there. They both look expectantly at us, and we are feeling fun, loose, indulgent.  Sky King says, "Okay.  You can each get some candy. BUT, only as much that fits IN ONE HAND". 
They both run off, excited with the prospect of seeing how much they can grab.

Right about now, you're thinking, "Hey.  That's a damn good idea.  I HATE those stores, and that would be a good compromise, 'cause those places charge by the pound, and have high rent being in a sucker zone tourist area. What could we be talking, 5 pieces for the smaller kids, 12 or so for the bigger ones?".  Don't go there just yet.

Our kiddos are smart. I know, most parents say that about their kids.  I'm not talking Straight-A-stellar-report-card smart, here.  They are more great-plan-to-create-airsoft-rifle-silencers-out-of-kitchen-items smart.  Or, toilet-paper-tube-paint-tape-wine-cork-robot-sculpture smart.  Inventive.  Mindful.  Devious.

At about this time, I have my little wicker bucket-5 or 6 bit o honeys, a few taffy flavors I had never had, I don't know what else. My mind can't quite recall unimportant details, because this is when I notice that Monkey Boy has created a sort of candy base structure that flares out, creating space for more candy. Almost an upside-down-pyramid-at-the-Louvre type structure. And, Princess has seen this. She is following suit.  I immediately alert Sky King, who tries to call foul.  His protests are met with retorts from the kids: "No, you SAID. Whatever can fit in ONE HAND. THIS is ONE HAND."  Sky King, defeated, says, "Hurry up.  you got 2 minutes.".  The kiddos, amped beyond belief, go crazy, and the owner of the shop gets wind of this massive potential windfall, trying to surreptitiously help.  All in all, we walked out of there with $39.47 in sugar. The bag of shame was free.

You see, when Sky King said, "All you can fit in one hand", he was implying "from the barrels" and certainly not from the walls where all the current candy sits-candy bars, Lik M Ades, bags of Swedish fish, giant lollipops, you name it.  And they both used these larger items to build sturdy bases. They even had a few things sticking out from their fingers.

We could have argued semantics, but they kinda had us. Or, had our wallets.  Thanks to Sky King.

What did we learn? Don't bet our kids.  Don't give them parameters without thinking through the consequences. Don't let Sky King have cocktails when we are out and about at dinner.

What did they learn? Hopefully, don't make stupid bets, too much sugar makes your stomach hurt, Mom and Dad keep their word, crossies never count, and pepperocinis are not that spicy.

What did they most likely learn, knowing my history of my own crazy antics, and our combined parental luck? Semantics can get you everywhere, take advantage of people when they are weak, Dad's a sucker, and you can justify almost anything.

Crock-Pot Sweet Potatoes for the Holidays

This is very easy.  Grab some sweet potatoes, a couple diced tart apples, a bunch of cranberries, some brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and about a half cup of orange juice. Jam it all into a crockpot, cook all day.  Sprinkle with roasted pecan pieces if you want.
If you need measurements, you probably shouldn't cook for the holidays-get take-out.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Eve of All Eves

Here I sit at the computer with SportsCenter in the background-the 49ers just eeked out an amazing win over Seattle and I'm pretty hyped about it...), feeling a bit write-y.  I got a lot in my head, and tons of peace, as our night changed from "busy family fun then hurry home to get ready for tomorrow" to "chill while cramming leftovers into our faces".  You see, my dad caught the flu, which meant that we weren't going there for dinner, and tomorrow is a bit iffy for my parents-it all depends on how he feels in the morning. Which is good because I want him well, and no one in my immediate family wants his germs, so it puts things up in the air a bit. Of course, it all doesn't really matter. We will have just as much fun Monday at their place, or Tuesday. We will do a re-do. It just spreads Christmas out longer, which could never be bad, right?

All this reminds me of a "First World Problems" card I made on Someecards.  You know, "First World Problems"? Where we all gripe about how much it sucks to be us, while 95% of the rest of the world lives in poverty we can't even imagine?  No? Well, go here for a quick sec.  I'll wait. I made up some of my own. I will share my card, because after all, it's the season of giving. And virtual cards are free. Merry Christmas, a day early.  Now, you don't have to argue with your significant other over whether to open a gift tonight, or save it all for tomorrow.  You're welcome.

I have another gift for you, too!  See, I'm such a giver.  Go check out Pregnant Chicken. She has a great collection of crazed Santa photos.

Now that you're back, I will get to the point of the post. See, I CAN get back on track. But first, another sidetrack.

Monkey Boy is out (I will get to that in a minute, because that was the original reason for this post--I'm easily distracted.)

Sky King has gone to fetch our nephew, who will be spending the night with us. Princess went along for the ride, most likely to show everyone the gaping bloody hole where her molar used to be. She used to be squeamish about loose teeth, but has recently grown up a bit, leaving a hole in my heart, and in her mouth as well. So the Tooth Fairy needs to visit, along with the fat man in the red suit.

Princess had been running around, showing her twisted mess of a tooth to Uncle M, trying to make Uncle M vomit.  Now, the tooth is gone, and that fairy better deliver. I'm not sure what she is more excited for-the $2, or the loot from Santa.  All in all, I think she's owed, since she barfed her way through last Christmas, waking up every 3 hours so disoriented we kept showing her her gifts and it was new to her each and every time.

Back to MB.  (See?  Amazing, right? Didn't think it would happen, did you? HA!) A few days ago, he told me he wanted to have dinner at a girl's house.  Not just any girl, mind you, but THE girl. Her fake blog name is Eloise, because it's my blog, and I get to name people around here. So, he and Eloise text all the time.  ALL. THE. TIME. They are young-he's 12 and she is turning 14 today.  So it's that first true serious crush. Unless you count Ramona, a while back (7, 8,weeks? Gosh, time flies when it comes to young love...).  That was only a short while ago, and within a week, his thumbs had moved on to another number. 

I figured this one was a bit more serious-but Christmas Eve for dinner? Really? Then I find out it's her birthday, and they do this every year, have a big family dinner for her.  This year, she wanted to include some friends-a girl and two boys.  Wow. I relent, with some apprehension. MB doesn't know, but I'm really wanting to pull the "family holidays should be together every goddamn minute" card. But I don't. I know this girl is special. So the dinner is special to him. I've been there. He's at an age where I remember what I did, how I felt, what decisions I made. And I know this is important to him.

Then began the concept of a birthday gift.  He had money, and bummed a bit more from me.  A budget of $37.  Serious business for a 12 year old, right?  He went out with Uncle M, and they came home with....are you ready for this?

Cuz I'm not. 

Seriously, this shit is freaking me out.

They came home with this:

Yes.  That is jewelry.  Specifically, a silver snowflake necklace, complete with diamond shards.  No CZ for his lady. Nope.  It was going to be a locket, but I think Uncle M helped him understand the inherent significance of lockets, and deemed them a tad too much. Frankly, I would have been much happier with a basket of Bath 'n Body Works crap.  Or a new pair of toe socks.  But jewelry? :::Gulp:::

To top it off, he wrapped it quite carefully, complete with a fancy ribbon and bow-he takes great care in things that mean a lot to him.  Most people would not know that about him-only a handful of people do. I do.
And he showered for this girl.  But wait, it gets better.  He stressed over a clean shirt, and put product in his hair. Product! Then, called me to the bathroom to help him. 

It doesn't help that I got my BA in Child Development. I eat, sleep and drink ages and stages.  And one of the things that stands clear in my head is this: from 0-8 yrs, the biggest influence in a child's life is his/her parents. Then, the peers begin to add their two cents.  Then comes puberty. Pretty much if your kid is a train wreck at 8, you're screwed. The majority of your influence is done, gone, sailed.

From the beginning of adolescence (age 12), a child is truly beginning to figure out who he is in the world, establish his identity. This is all provided that the child has successfully gone through the other stages.  i can't make this shit up if I tried, it's right there. Think back to your adolescence-middle school.  Pretty fucking seriously important, right? And here is my boy, primping for a girl, spritzed with Usher cologne, skipping Christmas Eve to be with her-bitching at me to hurry so he's not late.  And I'm choked up.  He's growing up, moving further and further from me, from his dad. He's my firstborn, my baby. We have a special bond. I know, so do you, with your kids.  But remember, this is about me.  And we are tight.  I get him-I know him.  When he says a tiny little sentence, I hear volumes.  And, I'm losing him.  To a sweet little (hell, she's my size...) green eyed girl from school.

I'm not sure what these changes will bring. Stress, sure.  Head-banging, hair pulling.  Yes sirree. And at the end of it all, I hope to have a thoughtful, sweet, responsible young man. (I'll settle for 2 out of 3 though.) And I'm verklempt about the whole thing.  But I have to smile through it, enjoying the fact that he is growing up, experiencing all that life has to offer-infatuation, strong emotions, heartache.   All I get to do is watch. And offer a shoulder, some advice. And a ride. Cash too, I'm sure.

She better be worth it.


A week ago, I ranted about how I was bummed with my current Rheumatologist. Sky King had researched some local docs, and we got a referral from my therapist.  We made a short list (does 2 names even count as a list?) and planned to interview both. One was booked through Feb 2012, and the other could see me right away.
We saw Dr. M on Friday, last. He was nice, amiable, and listened to both of us.  He asked many questions, all the way back to childhood illnesses (there are some things like Mono and liver issues that stay dormant and come back extra nasty) and family history.  He wanted to know all my aches and pains, including the 13 years of sciatica (which also might tell us something).  We talked lifestyle, eating habits, cravings.

After 1 and a half hours, here is where we ended:
  • test for Lyme (the good test through Ingenix, not the commonly-false-negative Western Blot)
  • Full adrenal test through 24 hour saliva samples (eeeeewwww) because my immune system does not appear to be doing much immune-ing
  • Full parasite test through a really fun home test-deets soon, I promise!
  • Blood work to test thyroid, mineral levels in blood, vitamin D and a bunch of other stuff
  • Hand over large wad of cash-he's not covered by insurance
So.  Passive-aggressive doc that puts all my problems onto depression (meaning, it's in my head) all for the low low price of $20 per visit, every 4 months, until I give up and stop complaining, or until I'm so over-medicated I don't mind drooling.
Expensive doc that listens to me, asks thoughtful questions, and gathers tons of information in order to discern what additional tests are needed, and what treatment options I have.

Ummm, I guess a whirlwind trip through Europe will have to wait.  My health wins this round.

Welcome, Dr. M, to the crazy world of me!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Princess Post

Today, I saw this sticking out of the mailbox. Slowly, Princess is beginning to understand the concept of mail.

Sky King's aunt and uncle never miss a gift-giving celebration. This year was no different: two Christmas cards-each addressed to one of my children-along with a gift card.

Immediately, Princess ran off and penned a sweet thank you note, and even taped a candy cane to the outside.

I'd forgotten about this until I was pulling away this morning, on my way to work.  There it was, sticking out of the mail slot, waiting for our mail carrier.

I snatched it up, and added "bubble wrap envelope" and "stamps" to my "to do" list.
This kind of sweetness shouldn't be missed, am I right?

My 2012 New Year’s Resolutions

Thank you, WilyGuy, for the idea for a realistic list...
I resolve to:

1.       Stick to my diet (Weight Watchers, no dairy, no gluten, and all the other crap my new doc wants me to do) for 10 months (up from 8 months in 2011)

2.       Sign up for less stuff, and sign up for stuff only with prior authorization from Sky King

3.       Go back to the gym (I know, this is on everyone’s list, but I have only been gone for 2 months, not 11, people. Give me a damn break)

4.       Figure out how to work my Canon SLR camera, and stop using the “auto” button for each shot, making them all look like shots from a crappy $70 camera-First thing to learn: What SLR means (is that even the right series of initials?).

5.       Delegate even more at work so that I can step away for longer periods if need be.

6.       Be more compassionate to others, but only after I blog about how unbelievably irritating the “others” are.  My therapist will be so pleased--it has something to do with the things that drive me crazy about others are typically things I don’t like in myself, which is insane because I don’t shop at the mall in my flannel jammies, nor do I drag my teacup poodle everywhere I go in my purse (or worse in the shopping cart), and I certainly don’t drive around with my head so far up my ass I have to sneeze to use my turn signal, but I digress.  I will try harder to be compassionate.

7.       Work harder to find the unique balance of wine, anti-depressants and pain pills so that I’m not twitchy the next day. Fun Aimee is awesome, but is usually encouraged by people who live too far away to endure the after-effects (right, T?)

8.       Enjoy my extra time with my kiddos, and spend more time hugging the little one, and listening to the bigger one.  It’s mind-boggling when I realize I don’t have too many more years of this left.

9.       Be more honest with everyone in my life.  You think I’ve been honest up til this point? You just wait. Depression is a nasty beast, and it’s high time I call it out for what it is.

10.   Fire all the doctors that make me want to stab them in their beady little eyes.  I don’t spend time with people on a personal level that irritate me and don’t support me.  Why should I entrust my health to someone that seems to only mildly tolerate me, and only gives lip service to what ails me.  Them bitches gots ta go.

That should just about do it.  In what ways will you be less of an asshole this coming year?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Convo with Sky King, Part 2

Me: Hey…can you drive me to Target, so I can pick up some more wine glasses?
Sky King: No.  I’ll go.  What else do you need?
Me: I need some of those thingies that I use to put the stockings up, those sticky things that remove, from the commercials.
SK: Fine. I’m going.
Me: Wait!  I wanna go too!
SK: No way.  It’ll take forever. I will be just in and out.
Me: Please? I promise we will only get the two things.  Oh, and some nice candy dishes.  3 things, that’s it, I swear.  (This is where I do the Girl Scout Promise, with three fingers, hand raised)
SK: Fine.  Let’s go.  And remember, you promised. Just 3 things.  And anyways, why are you even doing anything? You were laid up on the couch being bitchy and in pain, just an hour ago.
Me: I took my pain pill. So I feel great, and full of energy.  That’s what they’re for.
SK: No, they are for getting rid of pain so you can relax. Not do more stuff.
Me: Ummm, no.  That wouldn’t work for me at all. I take them to get rid of the pain, so I can do more stuff.
SK: You’re just going to pay tomorrow.
Me: No, I’ll pay in January. When I sober up.

::: We go to Target, and I happen to grab a crinkly paper Santa hat centerpiece for the kids’ table :::

Me: Yeah, but I can just grab this one thing, it was about the time, not the number of items. If it takes….hey where are you going?
SK: To the wine glasses.  You’re pissing me off.
Me: So, no paper Santa garland, then? Last chance…
SK: (Harrumph) Let’s go.
Me: You get in line, lemme run back and grab that table cloth.  I really do need it, it’ll only take a sec (as I run off, leaving him to get in line)

SK: (via text message) Better hurry.

Me: Okay, I’m here, oh and the girls at work need new calendars, so this saves me a trip!
SK:  I knew it. Whatever.
Me: (crams two table cloths, two calendars, and two table runner on the belt, putting the calendars over the table runners he hasn’t noticed.  Kinda like when you used to buy condoms, and put them under a bag of chips.)

::: on the way to the car.  Sky King seems to have developed a tic that causes him to shake his head slowly back and forth, with his eyes closed. I’m beginning to worry::: 

SK: I can’t believe you talked me into all this crap.
Me: What?!?  You think I would change, like, overnight? Who’s the crazy one now?
SK: I thought I could control you.
Me: Yeah.  That’s pretty much where you fucked up. It’s like you don’t even know me.

And, scene

Relaxation 101

Many people with yucky autoimmune issues are recovering Type-A personalities.  Which means we usually have problems relaxing, even when our bodies demand it.  being a very helpful person, I have created a handy-dandy pie chart to help my fellow sufferers allot the appropriate amount of time to various relaxing activities. Enjoy!

How Fearless Fibro Warrior Relaxes

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tis the Season to be Helpful, Fa La La La La La Wha?

We just spent an amazing 24 hours in one of my favorite places-San Francisco.  It seems as though Sky King was doing some catching up on a certain blogger's work (rumor has it he's trying to get in her pants) and he happened upon a list of things I wished I could do this year, but probably wouldn't have time or energy. One of them was to go to San Francisco to see all the decorations, do a little shoppy shoppy, and maybe tax the liver just a tad.  So, he spontaneously planned an overnight, complete with wonderful accommodations and a Christmas movie with the kiddos. It was amazing, and just what I needed.
We got to San Francisco and checked in.  Then, the adult members of the group bundled up and left, in search of adult beverages.  The kiddos were left to their own devices with explicit instructions to not die, nor kill each other, nor leave the room without permission. (Truly, you just MUST get yourself a 12-year-old. Especially the kind that likes his cell phone. They are sooo handy.)

All around, people were being overly kind and seasonal, and the spirit of the season was truly in the air.  People were rushing around, loaded up with bags and boxes from all kinds of lovely shops, and everywhere we turned there were people being gracious, kind, and helpful.

Princess got into the spirit once we were appropriately lubricated for a children's movie, and was asking for $1 dollar bills all day and night, trying to choose "the right hobo" to give it to.  She had been upset when her mean old daddy ignored a man who "asked with his best manners for some food". I explained that not all people that ask for money really need it, but she was free to make her own decisions when I give her her own money. So she did, and got to ring the bell for the Salvation Army, and gave a couple people money directly.

Doors were opened, cabs were hailed, and people were in generally happy moods.  It was a great trip overall, and it left me with a generous mood.

We came home, and the helpfulness continued: the children helped unload the car, and then made great strides in hiding all our shit in the garage, because we had friends coming over and didn't want people to have any ammunition against us in case the producers from "Hoarders" ever drop by.  (You know when you have people coming over, and you spend a ton of time cleaning like mad so you don't appear to be complete feral animals that live in utter filth-but then you realize that there isn't enough time to clean, so you just stack all the clutter up into any available space/closet/bathtub/garage?                         No?                        Me neither.)   It was great, and the kids were awesome, understanding the level of clean we were going for like champs. (Princess said, "Wait, Clean? Or tidy?"  Me: Tidy.  Princess: Tidy? Great, 'make a path'. Yesssssss"-in which she shovels all her items on the floor to the walls, so that people can walk in her room and quickly retrieve her toys that 4,947 pieces.)

Then, I had to run out to get the makings of spaghetti sauce. I zipped over to my store around the corner, loaded up, and came home. Sky King began the pasta sauce, and remarked that he needed more. I waited for him to drop what he was doing and run out to get it.  When he didn't, I said, "Ugggghhhh. I'll go....." and waited about 15 seconds for him to say, "No, I'll go, you chill for a while, get caught up on Pinterest and Disqus, sweetie."  When he DIDN'T say that, I shuffled to the car, defeated.

At the store, I got into line with my two jars of sauce and my cash.  One of the reasons I love this store is how friendly they are. As if on cue, the cashier was quite chatty, engaging the customers in lengthy discussions.  When it was my turn, she asked was that all I had today, and I said yes, and she proceeded to ask me how my weekend was going.  We were chatting back and forth, when an employee walked by that she wanted to address about something that had apparently happened right before I arrived.  She said to him, "Hey, Joe!  Next time, don't give me such a hard time!" Joe, being a 400 pound former sumo wrestler, gave her an incredulous stare and a sad little head shake.  She then turned and remarked to me with a half-joking quality, "I just don't know why he doesn't fear me like he should", which was funny because Joe was exceptionally large and of the not-taking-shit variety. The cashier was slight, wispy and cute. Less "fear-because-she-takes-no-shit-and-will-put-a-cap-in-yo-ass", more of the "cute-enough-to-put-in-my-pocket" variety.  Immediately, I sensed that she and I were kindred spirits-soul sisters if you will. I was thinking, "Hey!  That's the kind of thing I would say!  She totally gets me! We connect! Now, I will say something equally witty and totally appropriate, and we will be friends forever, and she will hold my hand when I get my nose pierced, because she's just that thoughtful."

Now, here is when I realize should have realized that my filter is off.  You know that thing that keeps you from saying horrifically inappropriate things to strangers, or worse, people you know and respect?

at all. So, let's go back. The cashier has just remarked that a very large intimidating man does not seem to show this cute little waif of a cashier the respect and/or fear she feels she deserves. And, I am in "Helper" mode-and, this cashier is my new bestie, she gets me.  So, I say the first thing that pops into my mind:
Me: I bet if you sneak up behind him and stab him in the neck, he'd learn real quick to respect you.

:::Stunned silence:::

Cashier: Heh heh. .........Ummm, yeah.......Great, alright, you're all set (thrusting my change into my hands)

See?  That was a truly helpful comment.  What better way to garner respect, than by doing the unexpected? Oh, and my filter was on. For a split second, I was going to add, "...with a fork".  But I didn't.  I'm a model of self-restraint.

What gifts can your family not live without this holiday season?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ready to See Other People

While chatting with a girlfriend of mine on a drive, I came to a realization.

Let me back up a bit.  A few weeks ago, we (Sky King and myself, as he goes to all my Rheumatologist appointments with me) saw Dr. W.  Among my growing list of concerns was: recent hair loss (which he told me is not of the "alarming" variety) and increased pain in my hips, elbows and wrists. 
After we talked for some time, he told me that I did not have Rheumatoid Arthritis (even though my blood work shows "positive" for the Rheumatoid factor, and I have a family history of RA).  I then said, "Then, why do I have this pain, and what are you planning on treating it with?"  His response was, "Your pain, I believe, is Fibromyalgia, and I am more concerned about you getting your depression and anxiety under control."  Me:  Fine, but what are we doing about the pain in the meantime?  Him: You need to address the underlying cause, which I believe is depression.

Me:  :::sigh, which buys me time and allows me to have an internal battle in which I conclude that, the hospital is far too big, and the car is far too far for me to stab this man in the side of the neck with my #2 pencil and get away, plus I wouldn't get my parking validated:::
So, if my underlying problem is depression, which I have been treating for 11 months, then I have to continue to treat it, in a new-improved-and-yet-unexplained-by-you-way other than medication, weekly therapy, intense self-reflection and a complete and utter annihilation of the way I used to live my life?  Do I understand that correctly?
Him: Yes. I think.  There were some run-on sentences there.  But yes.  You will eventually have relief from fibromyalgia, once you are effectively treated for depression.
Me: Mmmmkay.  No.  That is not okay with me.  I want to be treated, and I am feeling very frustrated that you are telling me that I am not working hard enough on the thing that I DON'T think is the primary problem, and I feel that there is something else wrong.
Him: Well, I just don't think you have anything but fibromyalgia, and depression.  To prove it to you, I will give you 5 days' worth of prednisone. Which won't work.  Then, you will magically believe me.
And so it went.  I AM paraphrasing, to be precise.  But if he didn't say those exact words, he certainly meant them.  And on my ride home with my friend, I read between the lines of what he did say-with my friend's help, of course.  Here is a translation:

I don't believe there is anything wrong with you at all.  I think it is all in your head, and I think that your tests are kind of normal, which is pretty much normal in my book, and you are one of those people that love to pay $20 copays to see specialists for something that is made-up.  I think that if I can get a psychiatrist to dope you up on enough drugs, eventually you will feel "cured", and I will continue to pay off my student loan payments, while your kidneys and liver wither on the vine, taxed to their capacity.  You will probably try some other drugs coming down the pike too, with varying side effects.  But I got student loans to pay, and frankly, I'm pretty pissy that you spend your free time researching your illness and symptoms on Google, and so I will make you pay.

I know that seems like a lot to get from one look from a doctor, but I'm pretty perceptive. 

You see, the thing is this: My own FUCKING THERAPIST laughed when I told her Dr. W thinks my PRIMARY problem is depression.  Yes, I'm depressed.  Yes, I have always had a roller-coaster emotional state.  I have big highs.  I have some crummy lows.  But not sit-in-a-corner-with-a-rusty-razor-blade low.  Not unable-to-get-out-of-bed low.  At least, not until I had this UNRELENTING PAIN.  And now, I have a doctor I see every goddamn week agreeing that the thing she is seeing me for, is NOT my primary problem!  The man I love, the man who has seen me through almost every year of my adult life, agrees that depression is NOT the primary problem. And believe me, if anyone would know, it's him.

Also, the prednisone made me feel like a freaking rock star.  No pain.  Tons of energy.  Then, I went off it, and had mind-blowing headaches for 5 days-but the pain was still gone, and the energy remained.  When the headaches left, so did the energy and now the pain is back, ready to make up for lost time.  I messaged Dr. W who remarked, Hmmm, that's confusing because your labs came back normal. Waiting on more results, will be in touch.  Dr. W?  I am no longer impressed.  You could have 47 initials after your name, and you are still a big fuckwit. I can learn more about my own goddamn health watching daytime TV.  And it doesn't sound like I could do much worse than you.

Here is my realization:
Dr. W is brushing me off, dismissing me.  He is giving me the doctor-patient equivalent of "it's not you, it's me".  He's screening my calls.  My name has been deleted from his cell phone. 

I got news for him.  They say that happiness is the best revenge, despite the strong urge to find his home and write grammatically correct but anatomically impossible suggestions on his lawn in grass killer so it will be spring before my message is fully realized. No He's all mine and he's got nothing but time. I hear he has an open mind-likes to try new things. Sky King and I can't wait.

Here's to everyone's dates this weekend going well.