Sunday, February 29, 2004

Rave of the Day for February 29.... 

Another Ducky special....

Strong signs you need a vacation from dogs:
When your spouse's shocked voice shouts from the shop, "Honey, come quick, I've had a terrible accident!", you show up breathless with a mop and scent neutralizer.

You wake panicked in the middle of the night when you sense you suddenly have room to move your body around the bed.

You can't sleep unless you hear lots of heavy breathing in your bedroom.

The emergency number on your speed dialer is for the dog's veterinarian.

When someone taps you on the shoulder, you tell them firmly, "Off!", then "Down!".

When tempers flare among your family members, you pull out the long forefinger, pointedly raise your voice and shout, "Go to your crates, now!"

When someone asks what's for dinner you automatically reply, "Kibbles and Bits".

When you are walking a ring around the local park and someone points at you and your dog, you raise both arms over your head, whoop and go looking for a ribbon.

When shopping, your best friend asks you what you think of that snappy suit in the window, and you scowl and mutter, "Useless, it is the same color as my dog and it has no pockets."

When your neighbor points to her crawling infant and asks you what you think of her new baby, you study it for a minute and reply, "Well, a little short on coat and long in the hock, but that kid has a great topline!"

Dog cookies are starting to look good.

What's a vacation?

My Fibromyalgia Life Story... 

The folks over at Fibrohugs (check out their site listed under "Links") are putting together a new book filled with the real-life experiences of people who have fibromyalgia, their doctors, friends and family. I naturally submitted a contribution. Here is what I sent:

Fibromyalgia Is My Teacher

I have had fibromyalgia since 1997. Its onset was fairly dramatic; I had what I believe was an allergic reaction to a medication, and instantly I went from being a healthy woman to one who would never know another day without pain or exhaustion. My mental clarity was forever banished, and the words that once flowed effortlessly from me now often languish without expression. I did not seek change; change was thrust upon me.

Once I was finally diagnosed three years later, I thought my suffering was over. I relaxed when I found out I did not have a fatal disease or even a disfiguring one. The printed material the rheumatologist handed to me was fairly glib and indicated that this syndrome was simply a product of stress and could be overcome by a positive attitude and exercise. In other words, mind over matter. Naturally, I put this approach to work immediately; I ignored my body's distress signals and forced myself to exercise no matter the agony it caused. I smiled and told my friends and family that my condition was under control and was a mere inconvenience in my life. For a year and a half, I made some progress: not the progress I and my doctors were expecting, but progress nevertheless. I was able to complete easy hikes in the mountains of up to four miles total, play an occasional game of volleyball, spend a day with friends. The symptoms were all still there, of course, but I rarely admitted to them and committed most of my energy to tuning them out.

Then the bottom dropped out. Unbeknownst to me, I was taxing my body beyond its capabilities, and it responded by succumbing to antibiotic-resistant bronchitis. Suddenly the pain and fatigue refused to stay in the background, and no amount of cheerfulness or activity could contain it. My doctors blamed my regression on laziness and depression, asking me whether my marriage was unhappy or whether I had a job that bummed me out. No one wanted to admit that the illness required anything more than an attitude adjustment. Thus began a two and a half year odyssey that eventually led to the discovery of the factors that were perpetuating my fibromyalgia: celiac disease, chronic myofascial pain, Sjogren's syndrome and hypothyroidism. None of these illnesses are cured by being cheerful, and as it turns out, neither is fibromyalgia. I still try to maintain a positive attitude because it is a very powerful coping skill, but it is only part of my overall treatment plan.

So I have had seven years to adjust to the reality of fibromyalgia and chronic illness. What has this ordeal taught me? This would be a sad tale indeed if I had learned nothing. Some of the changes have been to my lifestyle, others to my personality. Here are the ones foremost in my mind:

1. I have learned patience. When one is experiencing agony that would send most people screaming into the ER only to be told that the first available appointment for a pain management specialist is three months away, patience becomes a necessity.

2. I have learned to accept help from others and to do so graciously. I used to think I was morally weak if I did not fend for myself at all times. Admitting that I needed assistance with simple tasks such as opening packages, carrying bags or opening doors was a bitter pill to swallow indeed. But once I realized that that sometimes others feel good when you let them help, I learned to smile and say thank you and mean it.

3. I learned to ask for help. Ok, so I'm still working on this one. I have figured out, though, that there are certain activities that will do me more harm than good, so I get the help of someone else better able to do it rather than risk injury.

4. I have learned to worry less and focus only on what's worthy of concern. It takes most of my energy to get ready for work, prepare my meals and do my relatively simple job. I have none left over to wonder whether my boss has a hidden agenda, to fuss about the latest style, to fret about what others think of me.

5. I have learned to work on being healthy on the inside rather than trying to look good on the outside. Many times, makeup, pantyhose, fancy but uncomfortable shoes and tight clothing are not worth the extra effort that I can ill afford to spare. Instead, I concentrate on approaching the world rested, fit, smiling, functional and comfortable.

6. I have learned to appreciate the blessings in my life. Many people who are chronically ill do not have the awesome support that I do or the understanding of friends. I would not be able to function without a good job situation, a cooperative insurance company, trustworthy doctors, a husband who spoils me, a church who accepts me as I am and friends who listen to my endless rants.

7. I have learned to prioritize. When pain and fatigue dominate one's life, one must decide which pursuits are worthwhile and which must be shelved or delayed. Taxing my body trying to get all my errands done on the same day usually results in an exacerbation of symptoms, which will in turn preclude me from doing anything at all the next day, so I don't really gain by it. There are times that I decide something is important to my mental well-being, and I may sacrifice a bit more of my physical well-being than usual, but these times have become few and far between.

8. I have learned to quit putting all fun things in my life on hold for that magical time "when I am better". Guess what? That better day may never arrive, and indeed, I may only get worse to the point that I have squandered a valuable opportunity. So I make commitments from time to time as long as I am reasonably sure they won't unduly jeopardize my health. I am stubborn enough to keep my promises yet careful enough to not overbook. I plan to go to a comedy club next month, a baseball game this summer, and a vacation next fall. Mental health is just as important as physical.

9. I have learned to stop thinking of fibromyalgia as my creator's punishment for some wrongdoing on my part. I didn't commit a sin, I simply got sick. I no longer pray for relief from punishment; instead, I pray for the ability to cope with what I am given.

10. I have learned that it is possible to still be useful even when I can't leave the house. I can, via the computer, teach others about chronic illness, console someone recently diagnosed, commiserate with someone about the daily aggravations of fibromyalgia and occasionally even cheer someone up.

11. I have learned empathy. This did not come easily to me, and I still struggle with it. But there are occasions when I recognize in someone the pain they are trying to cover up, the weariness that overwhelms them, the struggle to gain control over one's own body. I am slowly learning to listen better and am more aware how much I can learn from others.

My journey is still fairly new. I have much more to learn from it.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Rave of the Day for February 28.... 

Think cost-cutting measures in business have gone too far? Check out this funny about proposed changes at a hospital. Thanks to Ducky and her Daily Grin for this gem....


To: All Staff
From: Administration
Re: Hospital Costs

In an effort to reduce costs this year, the following are effective immediately. Please share this information with your patients and physicians as soon as possible.

1. Food service will be discontinued immediately. Patients wishing to eat will want to get their families to bring them a brown bag meal, or you may make your own arrangements with Subway, Dominoes, etc. Coin-operated telephones will be available in the patient rooms for this purpose.

2. Our phone operators have all been let go, so if you are walking through the lobby and hear the telephone ringing, please answer it.

3. We have found it necessary to make substantial reductions in our transport team so we ask the cooperation of all patients. One transporter will take at least six patients in wheelchairs at a time to Radiology, PT and other services. Please form a "train" by holding tightly on to the handles of the wheelchair in front of you.

4. Our Emergency Room is really busy from 3 PM to 11 PM so, if you can, please have your accidents and heart attacks in the mornings or early afternoons. That would really be helpful and will help to reduce your wait.

5. To expedite surgery cases, all AM admits and outpatient surgery patients are asked to report to the hospital 3 hours prior to surgery. Go to Central Sterile and pick up a clean instrument tray & surgery pack and proceed to the Surgery Holding area. To help us reduce drug costs, please take several aspirin and drink a six-pack of your favorite brewski before arriving at the hospital for surgery.

6. Patients anticipating the need for a bedpan can check one out in the gift shop. They will be available in a wide variety of colors and styles to meet the aesthetic and physical requirements of our patients. A deposit will be required but returned if the bedpan is returned clean.

7. To reduce patients' lengths of stay, nurses will have a choice of using in-line skates or skateboards. To expedite response to patient's needs and discharges, nurse call systems will be modified and will be wired to a collar worn by nurses, which will deliver a mild shock when pushed by the patient.

8. Taking a cue from the airlines, Respiratory Therapists will be replaced by oxygen masks which will, should the need arise, automatically drop from the ceiling over patient beds. If this occurs, please place the mask over your nose and mouth and breathe normally.

9. The hospital got a real sweet deal on surplus white waiters' jackets and these will be issued to all physicians. Doctors, we apologize in advance because the jackets already had a first name embroidered on the pocket. We will work with you to find a name that you can live with.

10. All first time moms are asked to volunteer to help out on the Pediatrics floor - not only will this reduce hospital costs, but it will give you much needed experience and a dose of reality after ogling over your own precious sleeping bundle of joy.

11. Housekeeping and physical therapy are being combined. Mops will be issued to those patients who are ambulatory, thus providing range-of-motion exercises as well as a clean environment. Family members and friends of patients and ambulatory patients may also sign up to clean public areas to receive special discounts on their final bills. Time cards will be provided.

12. Plant operations and engineering are being eliminated. The hospital has subscribed to the TIME-LIFE "How to..." series of maintenance books. These books can be checked out from administration and a toolbox will be standard equipment on all nursing units. We will be receiving the series at a rate of one volume every other month. We already have the volume on Basic Wiring, but if a non-electrical problem occurs, please try to handle it as best as you can until the appropriate volume arrives.

13. Cutbacks in the phlebotomy staff will be accommodated by only performing blood-related lab tests on patients who are already bleeding.

14. Physicians will be informed that they may order no more than two x-rays per patient stay. This is due to the turnaround time required by Walgreen's photo lab. Two prints will be provided for the price of one, and physicians are being advised to clip coupons from the Sunday paper if they want extra sets. Walgreen's will honor all competitors' coupons for one-hour processing in emergency situations, so if you come across coupons from other vendors, please clip them and send them to the Emergency Department.

15. In light of the extremely hot summer temperature and the high A/C bills that we received last summer, out new policy is to have fans available for sale or lease in the hospital gift shop. For those patients who do not wish to use electric fans, the old reliable hand held cardboard fans on a stick are free upon request. This is possible only through the sponsorship of these fans by your Friendly Funeral Home. Be sure to express your appreciation for the fans when you next need their services.

16. The cost of hospital gowns continues to escalate so patients are asked to bring their own pajama top which nurses will be happy to slit up the back for you. Pajama bottoms are not permitted on patient units.

17. On the way to the hospital, please stop by Target or Wal-Mart and pick up two sets of twin bed sheets. Should you require extra linens during your stay, coin operated washers and dryers are available for patient use.

18. Administration is assuming responsibility for grounds keeping duties. If an Administrator cannot be reached by calling the Administrative Offices, it is suggested that you walk outside and listen for the sound of a lawn mower, weed-whacker, etc.

19. The hospital chapel will close down permanently so be sure to look up the number to "Dial-A-Prayer" if the situation arises for a spiritual consultation.

20. Please make sure you take a long hot shower or bath before staying with us because the hot water will be turned off permanently. If you're well enough to take a shower or bath, you're well enough to be at home.

21. With the recent finding that elevators use more electricity to go up and less to go down, please fit as many people as possible in the elevator before leaving the ground floor. The elevators will be programmed to go up only once an hour.

If you have any questions regarding these cost-cutting measures, please let us know. Thank you for your cooperation.

Administrator: Edward Scizzorhan

Slightly less dark.... 

Happy to report that today feels less like the world caving in on me. I can see why depression is such a problem for those with chronic illness....the prospect of pain and fatigue every day for the rest of one's life is certainly a daunting one. I wouldn't exactly call myself chipper today, but I am at least making an effort to cope.

Decided I needed to get out of the house today to do something fun, even if I didn't feel up to it. Talked Dan into going to the museum of natural history with me to see an exhibit on Machu Picchu. Dan's uncle traveled there once, and had shown us slides of the trip, so there was some interest in seeing the artifacts that had been found there on an expedition 95 years ago. I had actually gotten seven hours of good sleep (plus two more hours of lousy sleep), so I had a bit of energy. Unfortunately, that energy evaporated just waiting to get in the building, but I made up my mind to go ahead with it anyway. My feet were screaming in protest a mere fifteen minutes into the exhibit, but I ignored them the best I could. There were some cool things in there....in addition to the artifacts from the site, there was the camera and the journal for the 1911 expedition, a virtual tour of the ruins that you could control at will, a short film about how rainwater was transported and filtered for use, and highlights of what each area was used for. The crowd was absolutely huge, and it took almost TWO HOURS to get through the exhibit. I was limping at the end but glad I'd earned the pain for once.

I've lost nearly 25 pounds; I have no idea how. I had to dig out a pair of my old size 12 jeans today because the size 14s I bought in January are too big now. I suspect the weight loss will stop very soon because I'm only doing two days a week of exercise, and while my diet is restrictive, it still contains potatoes, rice and corn, which aren't exactly slimming. But if I were to lose 15 more pounds, I wouldn't mind.

Had an amusing dream a few nights ago. In it, I was in a small Kansas town where they were doing "Gone with the Wind" as a stage play. They were taking huge liberties with the story, though....they showed Scarlett O'Hara traveling with the circus as a child and changed her heritage to half black instead of half Irish. And they didn't have the proper period costumes....they just re-used stuff from a former production that was set in the 1950s. Also, for some reason, they had men acting as women and women acting as men. I have no idea what any of that means.

Still have the twitchies and muscle cramps, hence the lousy two hours of sleep this morning. Most are in the usual areas (calves and sides of feet), but some are in the arms, back and hands, which is not typical for me at all. And the ones in the soles of the feet are definitely new since I started the gastroparesis medication. I'm not sure those are going to go away. Sigh.

Oh, and we found out last night that Dan's neice is named Elaina Christine, which is a little bit different than the name originally picked out. Big baby, too (8 pounds, 20 inches long), considering her momma is quite tiny. Mom and baby are doing well.

Doc in the dark.... 

Can I have do-overs? I don't like the way today turned out at all.

Had a horrible time getting out of bed today, even after eight and a half hours of sleep. Got to the rheumatologist's office and found out they'd had a power outage, so I couldn't do the bone density test I'd been scheduled. They had a backup generator which provided light in the hallway, but not in the exam rooms, so I waited for the doc in the dark (they were nice enough to leave the door open though). Talked about how bad my fatigue has gotten, and there is nothing new to try. I'm just going to have to figure out how to live with it somehow, which is a horrific prospect. Since the prednisone is no longer helping, I'm going to taper completely off of it....it will take about six weeks to do this. The doc compared my recent C-Reactive Protein test with one I had before I started the anti-inflammatory....I'm back up to where I was last year, so the medication may have stopped working for me. I'm going to try a new one....they gave me samples to try before filling the prescription. There really is nothing else that can be done for me. My only hope is that if the new anti-inflammatory brings my pain level down, I might sleep better, and maybe I'll be less fatigued. Maybe.

The appointment finished up early because I couldn't have any tests done, but not early enough to go back home and retrieve the medication I forgot to take. Doing without the medicine did nothing to improve how I felt, that's for sure.

Got to work and found out that there is talk of more layoffs being announced on Wednesday. Also that the department who is stealing our work may take about ten of us to work in that area and phase the rest of us out. The ten would be the ones who are on the guaranteed job list, which neither Dan nor I are a part of. The cutoff is people hired in 1994 or earlier, and we were hired in 1995. Great. I'm not functional enough to even properly do the easy job I have, much less look for work.

Yes, I know lots of people in this world are much worse off than I am, but I sure could use a break anyway. I don't care how whiny this sounds. I am more exhausted than I ever have been in my life, and no amount of sleep will help, and I'm stuck with this for the rest of my life. I think that would bum just about anyone out.

Pain level: 10
Fatigue level: 10

Friday, February 27, 2004

I'm an AUNT! 

Got the phone message just now (was online, so missed the actual call)....Dan's sister had her baby about half an hour ago. We knew it would be a girl. Have forgotten the name, though....it's an unusual one, and we were told it five months ago. Dan's mom didn't mention it on the phone message. I guess we'll call tomorrow and admit we don't know what it is.

Wow....this is weird. I've never been an aunt before. I think Dan's pretty excited. "Uncle Dan" sounds funny to me.

Mom and baby are fine.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Bonus Rave of the Day for February 26.... 

This one is labeled housecleaning tips for men, but I think I'd like to get in on this too, ha ha. Straight from Ducky's Daily Grin...

House Cleaning Tips For Men

Sweeping and Mopping the Floors
Have the dog sweep the floors with his tail, and lick up all the crumbs... (for stubborn spots that require scrubbing -- recruit a cat... you may have to add tuna water to the spot). If you don't have a dog or cat... well you are in trouble.... go find one roaming the neighborhood, quick!

Call for a demo from a vacuum cleaner salesman. Have him show you how the vacuum works in all parts of the house... insisting the carpet looks the same... but really is different in all parts of the house. Tips for success: Don't always call same company... keep a chart and rotate between companies.

Only do what is at eye level or below. And only right before someone is coming over! Run a rag over everything quickly (don't waste your time using the Pledge or Endust... it might harm the computer... and that risk is unacceptable!) For the illusion of using those products... spray a few squirts into the air... just like using air freshener.

First, find a good place to hide it! If you actually have to do it... like when you have no underwear... (heck, who needs underwear?). Okay, now... lets say its time to fold those rotten clothes... run the dryer again... and again and again... let the machine do the work... that's what we bought it for, right?

Cleaning the Toilet
Hey, simple, just close the lid.

Clean the Shower
Close the shower door or curtain.

Cleaning the Rest of the Bathroom
Again... just close the door. For the illusion of a freshly cleaned bath... pour some lysol in the trash can... that illusion will work until you finally get someone to empty the trash for you. Speaking of which......

Taking out the Trash
If you can't find anyone in your house to take it out... bribe a neighbor... say you hurt your back or some other sob story... that one might be good for getting at least a few sympathy dinners out of the neighbor as well! Try not to use it too often... they might get suspicious.

Wash the Dishes
Duh... the dishwasher, of course... if something doesn't wash off, run it again and again... if that doesn't work... throw the dish out and start fresh. Better yet... paper plates, plastic utensils and plastic cups are a far better way to go... (as long as your neighbor is taking out the trash).

Hooray! I slept! I slept! 

FINALLY! First really good sleep in almost two weeks....I got eight hours one day last week, but it didn't seem to help much. Last night, however, nine and a half hours! Believe it or not, I'm still tired, but maybe I won't doze off at work tonight like I did the past three nights. I'd better make sure I do some good stretches this afternoon, as I'm starting to get twitchy again from having been immobile so long. Used to be that I'd be upset with myself with "wasting" so much of a day in bed, but I know now all too well that I just can't function well without the extra time in snooze-land.

Rave of the Day for February 26..... 

Here's a funny about housecleaning, or the lack thereof. Not that I'd be tempted to try any of these methods, oh no, not me, heh heh. From Ducky, whose Daily Grin you can find under my list of links.

Ten Rules Of Housekeeping

1 - Vacuuming too often weakens the carpet fibers. Say this with a serious face, and shudder delicately whenever anyone mentions Carpet Fresh.

2 - Dust bunnies cannot evolve into dust rhinos when disturbed. Rename the area under the couch "The Galapagos Islands" and claim an ecological exemption.

3 - Layers of dirty film on windows and screens provide a helpful filter against harmful and aging rays from the sun. Call it an SPF factor of 5 and leave it alone.

4 - Cobwebs artfully draped over lampshades reduces the glare from the bulb, thereby creating a romantic atmosphere. If your husband points out that the light fixtures need dusting, simply look affronted and exclaim, "What? And spoil the mood?"

5 - In a pinch, you can always claim that the haphazard tower of unread magazines and newspapers next to your chair provides the valuable Feng Shui aspect of a tiger, thereby reducing your vulnerability. Roll your eyes when you say this.

6 - Explain the mound of pet hair brushed up against the doorways by claiming you are collecting it there to use for stuffing hand sewn play animals for underprivileged children.

7 - If unexpected company is coming, pile everything unsightly into one room and close the door. As you show your guests through your tidy home, rattle the door knob vigorously, fake a growl and say, "I'd love you to see our Den, but Fluffy hates to be disturbed and the shots are SO expensive."

8 - If dusting is REALLY out of control, simply place a showy urn on the coffee table and insist that "THIS is where Grandma wanted us to scatter her ashes..."

9 - Don't bother repainting. Simply scribble lightly over a dirty wall with an assortment of crayons, and try to muster a glint of tears as you say, "Junior did this the week before that unspeakable accident... I haven't had the heart to clean it..."

10 - Mix one-quarter cup pine-scented household cleaner with four cups of water in a spray bottle. Mist the air lightly. Leave dampened rags in conspicuous locations. Develop an exhausted look, throw yourself onto the couch, and sigh, "I clean and I clean and I still don't get anywhere..."

The cost of chronic illness, 2003 edition.... 

...while I was gathering documentation on medical expenses for my 2003 tax return, I crunched a few numbers to see what I'd spent on just myself to maintain my health. Here's what I came up with. This is for one year, with insurance, American dollars. I've noted which figures are out of pocket (not covered by insurance) and which are simply co-pays (covered by insurance):

Medication (mostly co-pays): $1635
Labs, diagnostics (co-pays): $345
Doctors/hospitals (some co-pays, some out of pocket): $3238
Allergy shots (co-pays): $520
Supplements/gluten-free foods (out of pocket): $1132

Total for 2003: $6870

If I throw in the cost of my insurance, I'm using about 20% of my pay on my health! And I'm one of the lucky ones who has health care coverage. Without it, I wouldn't be able to afford my medication, much less anything else. I'm glad there is an effort being made to help senior citizens with their costs, but what about the poor souls with chronic illness who don't have insurance? They might be middle class like I am, but the cost of their care puts them right in the poor house! I guess I really should count my blessings, come to think of it.

Pain level: 8
Fatigue level: 10

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Rave of the Day for February 25.... 

This one is rather lengthy, but there is some very funny stuff in it. This was posted by Cat on Fibrohugs:

¨ Does fuzzy logic tickle?

¨ Is reading in the bathroom considered Multi-Tasking?

¨ How come programmers find it so easy to master the special language that runs computers yet those same folks who write the technical manuals for the rest of us have no grip on simple English?

¨ What is with all this concern about computer illiteracy? Since when do we expect inanimate objects to read?

¨ Don't you think that artificial intelligence is no longer an emerging technology? After all my workstation has been doing strange things all on its own for some time now hasn't yours?

¨ If you want to set your password to '******' how do you prevent it being shown when you type it in?

¨ If it's really a supercomputer, how come the bullets don't bounce off when I shoot it?

¨ Isn't there proof that they had computers in Biblical times? Didn't Eve have an Apple?

¨ Why doesn't DOS ever say "EXCELLENT command or filename"?

¨ Why is it that 80 meg programs crash on installation only after they are 98% complete?

¨ If the human eye can only distinguish nearly eight million different colours then why does Windows software have a 16 million colours option?

¨ Virus Scanners. They use up your memory. They slow your computer down and they get bigger every month. Does anybody see a problem here?

¨ How come when I'm on the Net people say I don't have a life? If that's true then why does it take up so much of my time?

¨ If the Internet is the Information Superhighway where are the State Patrol cars?

¨ We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million keyboards will eventually reproduce the works of Shakespeare. Hasn't the Internet now proven that this is not true?

¨ How come when surfin the net if the server of the site that you're trying to get to is down or not responding the browser software tells you to contact the server's administrator? Won't their email address be on the same server? Or do all server administrators have their email on a competitor's server? Do they know something that they're not telling us?

¨ Why is there an on-line site for web addiction?

¨ Is it a crime to type 'FIRE' in all caps in a crowded chat room?

¨ When did we stop standing 'in' line and begin standing 'on' line?

¨ Is the definition of redundancy, 'AOL for dummies'?

¨ Why do the best e-mails always arrive late at night?

¨ Why is everyone changing their middle name to 'Dot'?

¨ How many emails can an inbox hold before it explodes?

¨ How do you press F1 when your P.C. has a keyboard error or no keyboard present?

¨ When you turn your computer monitor off does the screen saver still work?

¨ How can you save a screen from a screen-saver?

¨ How do I set my laser printer on stun?

¨ Why is it that when you hit two keys on a keyboard at the same time the one you don't want is the one that always shows up on the screen?

¨ Is 'RAM disk' an installation procedure?

¨ If a picture is worth a thousand words, why does it use up a thousand times the memory as a thousand words does?

¨ Does the real faulty interface lie between the chair and the keyboard?

¨ How many times does a question have to be asked in order for it to qualify as a Frequently Asked Question?

¨ When people add those annoying popup java or javascript windows that ask you to enter your name why on Earth do they allow for over 50 characters for the readers name?

¨ When we are on the Internet reading something and then we follow a link off that page, how come we can never seem to get back to what we were reading?

¨ Why does the 'save' icon on Microsoft Word show a floppy disk with the shutter on backwards? This is not very reassuring

¨ Since half of what we know today will be obsolete in five years wouldn't it be nice to know which half?

¨ Is it just me or do you sometimes find yourself double clicking on the TV remote control?

¨ Wouldn't you know that the computer industry would shorten 'Year 2000' to 'Y2K'? Wasn't it this kind of thinking that caused the problem in the first place?

¨ Why is it that people with loud car stereos never listen to good music?

¨ Why is there an eject button on the VCR remote? Don't you have to get up to get the tape?

¨ Why doesn't someone come up with a snow mulcher?

¨ About the guy who tells us that no two snowflakes are alike, did you ever wonder if perhaps these two melted before he could check them?

¨ Why is a dog so jumpy if you lightly touch its tail yet it feels nothing when it bangs it repeatedly on the kitchen table?

¨ Do other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult?

¨ Why is it that a wet dog is always friendlier than a dry dog?

¨ If you named your dog 'Stay' and you taught him to obey your commands what would the dog do if you said 'Come Stay'?

¨ If a dog's bark is worse than his bite why don't hospitals have to report dog bark wounds?

¨ When you give water to the dog you say you watered the dog. So if you give milk to the cat have you milked the cat?

¨ When dog food is new and better tasting, who tests it? And how do the testers let you know that it's better tasting?

¨ Why do we still dial a number on a touch-tone phone?

¨ Just what is it about going to the bathroom that makes your telephone ring?

¨ Is it considered 'roughing it' when you have to pay roaming charges to call home on your cell phone when you are camping?

¨ How come cell phones are the only category in which men vie to have the smallest?

¨ Why is it that the first bug to hit a clean windshield lands directly in front of your eyes?

¨ Why do people in a convertible with the top down have air fresheners hanging from their rear-view mirrors? Just how powerful do they think those things are anyway?

¨ General Motors mini vans have an air bag installed on the steering wheel. Why do they have a warning sticker on the back of the sun visor that reads "Caution. Do not sit by air bag"? Just where do they expect the driver to sit?

¨ Why is there a dimmer switch for the dashboard lights in cars? Do you find yourself driving along and suddenly say 'AARGH DASHBOARD LIGHTS TOO BRIGHT. I'M GONNA CRASH'?

¨ If the front of your car says "DODGE" do you really need a horn?

¨ If you replaced the headlights in your car with strobe lights would it look like you were the only one moving?

¨ It was once said that if we had a powerful car we could pass anything except a petrol station. So why now that we have powerful cars and kids can we pass everything except McDonalds?

¨ Isn't driving a vehicle confusing enough? Why would they put 'Dodge' and 'Ram' on the same vehicle?

¨ Could the reason that there's now a higher percentage of seat belt users be the fact that the non-users are slowly being killed off?

¨ Why is it that it is always the cars whose colour blends in with the road that never turn their headlights on in dark rainy weather? Are they pretending to be stealth cars? Or do they just want to see how close they can come to getting in an accident?

¨ Why is it that when you're driving and looking for an address you turn down the volume on the radio?

¨ If we have to turn the radio down when we are driving in order to look for an address how in heck do ambulances and fire engines ever find their destinations with that loud siren blaring away?

¨ Is the best way to be a leader with a large following just to obey the speed limit on a winding two lane road?

¨ Why doesn't the Highway Department train their employees? Then rather than signs that say "Slow Men Working" they can say "More Efficient Men Working"!

¨ Why do the signs that say SLOW CHILDREN have a picture of a running child?

¨ What about those signs that read 'Speed Limit Enforced by Aircraft'? What do they do? Drop a bomb on you if you go over the limit?

¨ On your way to the Airport if you see a sign that reads 'Airport Left' should you turn around and go back home?

¨ When a road sign states 'Cross Traffic next 64 Miles' do you wonder what made it angry?

¨ How come, when babies sleep all the time, people say they are a really good kid, but when I do that, they call me lazy?

¨ Why is it that if you want to get something done you can either do it yourself hire someone to do it or forbid your kids to do it?

¨ How come we as children will fight tooth and nail not to have a nap only to find ourselves as adults wishing with all of our hearts that we could?

¨ If you teach children to be polite and courteous when they grow up will they ever be able to get their cars onto the freeway?

¨ Wouldn't the best way to keep your kids out of hot water be to put some dishes in it?

¨ How come, after you childproof your home, they still get in?

¨ They say that every 4 seconds a woman has a baby. Shouldn't we be trying to find this woman and stop her?

¨ Do mountain climbers tie themselves together with ropes just to prevent the sensible ones from going home?

¨ Wouldn't marathons be a lot more interesting if after the race started, hungry wild animals were released onto the course? Tigers would be fun, wouldn't they?

¨ If Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash would have sang a song together do you think they might have actually been IN tune?

¨ Why do bars advertise live bands? What does a dead band sound like?

¨ Is the one eyed, one horned, flying purple people eater a one eyed, one horned flying purple creature that eats people? Or is it a creature that eats one eyed, one horned, flying purple people?

¨ Isn't having a song in your heart just like karoke for the voices in your head?

¨ They say that if a man is bald at the front he is a thinker and that if he is bald at the back he is handsome. If this is so then if he is bald from front to back does he just think he's handsome?

¨ Why do people ask me if I'm losing my hair? I didn't lose it. It deserted me, didn't it?

¨ Should we file our finger and toe nails or throw them away like everybody else?

¨ Why do some stores offer the service 'Ears pierced free while you wait'? Where else are you going to go?

¨ Why do the instructions for a mildew remover say "Use in well ventilated area"? There wouldn't be any "mildew" if it were "well ventilated" in the first place right!?

¨ How do those dead bugs get into closed light fixtures?

¨ Why do people always ask where that door goes to? Don't doors always stay where they are?

¨ Why is the number, to report credit cards lost or stolen, printed on the back of the cards?

¨ What if light fixtures are really insect burial grounds? And they aren't congregating, but mourning?

¨ Why is it always the one who snores that falls asleep first?

¨ If Maxwell House coffee is good to the last drop what's wrong with the last drop?

¨ Is instant coffee so called because there is only one instant when it tastes like real coffee?

¨ Why is it that on juice cartons they put the words 'Serve Ice Cold'? How else would you serve ice?

¨ Are Cheerios donut seeds?

¨ If they're called 'Lucky Charms', why is he always losing them?

¨ If 8.5 x 14 paper is considered 'legal' size is everything else illegal? Will we go to jail if we use illegal paper? Will the paper police pick us up or will we just be shredded?

¨ Why are there no "B" batteries?

¨ Why is it called a flashlight if the light it emits is steady?

¨ Why do moms use the strangest questions when they get angry? You know things like "Shut your mouth and eat your food" and "Do you WANT me to slap your face off?"

¨ What does an imperfect stranger look like?

¨ Who is optimistic? The one who says the glass is half empty? Or the one that thinks it's half full? Or is it that the glass is just too big?

¨ Is the problem with the gene pool the fact that there's no lifeguard?

¨ How does a Nun retire? Does she instantly not believe at sixty-five and start partying?

¨ We all know that old age is inevitable, but do you wonder sometimes if growing up is optional?

¨ Why is it that the only time your spouse will listen and pay strict attention to every word you say is when you talk in your sleep?

¨ Don't you think that any husband who tells us that his wife and him are completely equal partners is either talking about a law firm or a hand of bridge

¨ Are you getting too old when you don't care where your spouse goes, just as long as you don't have to go along?

¨ If 80 percent of spouses cheat in America, do the rest cheat in Europe?

¨ If hindsight is 20/20, does that make Heinz-sight 57/57?

¨ Is a conclusion simply the place where you got tired of thinking?

Of dreams and guts and itches.... 

Went to the gastroenterologist yesterday. She agreed that I'd had a neurological reaction to the gastroparesis medication and that from this point on, it would be best to just control my symptoms with diet. I'm going to stay gluten-free since it is helping so much, but I'll have to be more cautious than before with what I do eat as far as digestibility goes. I guess I'd better get serious about learning to make my own soup and stuff like that. She did give me a prescription for an anti-nausea medication to take only when needed. I'm nauseous when I wake up for the day more often than not.

Have had some amazing dreams lately since I've only gotten one night of deep sleep in the past week and a half. Some of the better ones didn't stick with me...bummer. One was too fascinating to forget, though...I dreamed about my own possible future. In it, I was living in an old Victorian mansion with hardwood floors and tapestries and walls of antique books floor to ceiling. The rooms each had their own unique character, with all those little cubbyholes and unexpected surprises you find in old houses. From the window, I had a view of the historic district of a town about 85 miles from here. Dan was long gone (I think I had outlived him), and I was in a wheelchair. How I got onto the second floor of this house, I don't know. The mansion held a lot of secrets, like how I already knew everything about the town before I ever saw it as a child. I was renting out part of the house to some younger people, who had also learned to co-exist with the ghosts there.

Nearly missed my aquacise class today....I got almost no sleep last night again. It seems the area around my right heel where I've got the bandage over the ever-so-slowly-healing incision has a rash or infection or something. At any rate, it iches horribly! I've broken the skin with all my scratching. I've put hydrocortisone cream on it, but it hasn't helped at all. It was this maddening itch that woke me up, along with one of my fevers. I struggled mightily to relax and not scratch and wait out the night sweats. The chills started about a half hour after that, so when I did finally drift off, I dreamed I was in a freezing cold waiting room in the ER for a staph infection on my heel. I'd been there for hours because I was not a priority case. At one point, two people burst through the door arguing furiously. It seemed as though violence would break out any minute. There was a young girl about three years old in the waiting room by herself looking scared about all the shouting. For once I put aside my usual aversion to kids and hugged her and told her it would be all right. Shortly afterward, the girl's mom came back into the waiting area still changing from her hospital gown into her street clothes. She leaned against a tv tray as she dressed despite my warnings that it was unstable. The tray collapsed and so did she, and she had to be taken back into the patient area, meaning my wait to see a doctor would be even longer. The alarm woke me up after that....

The twitches and tremors are getting closer to the level they were at before I took the gastroparesis medication, but I still got a toe-to-knee cramp in the right leg when I got up today, and I'm still having trouble having my body coordinate with my brain. I tried to toss a water frisbee in aquacise today with my left hand and almost couldn't figure out how. It's like the left side of my body doesn't completely understand what I want it to do. I'm hoping this is just a temporary problem.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Rave of the Day for February 24... 

This seems to go right along with how I'm feeling....thanks goes to Joan for e-mailing me this one. It's called "A Love Story":








Hangover without the pleasure of alcohol... 

I have a rotten hangover.... it's from not being on the gastroparesis medication anymore. Apparently, it was helping me a lot more than I was giving it credit for. My stomach is very angry with me. Not nearly as bad as before I went gluten-free, but I'm gonna have to re-think my meals all over again. It is a monumental effort to do much or concentrate, and I have that completely indescribable "blah" feeling that comes with a hangover. At least I FINALLY got some sleep Saturday night.

Still twitchin' and shakin'. Gets a little better every day, but everyone in the aquacise class today noticed the tremors. I almost fell in the pool a few times because my body is so uncoordinated right now. I don't dare call in sick to work until I earn a sick day next month. It takes 50 shifts to earn one day off sick...basically, we get four a year. One of the new managers is trying to fire anyone who calls in sick more than four days a year. If I wanted to fight her on it I would win, but I'm avoiding the hassle right now if I can.

Got my taxes done! Would have finished in just two hours total (both federal and state), but I had some problems that took an additional hour. I lost my internet connection three times, grrrrr. And instead of printing from the screen like in previous years, they have you download your form in pdf format. That would have been fine, except they kept insisting I had to have Acrobat Reader. My default application wouldn't read their pdfs, so I opened up Acrobat Reader (I already had it), and THAT wouldn't print the derned things. I ended up using Acrobat 5.0 and setting up my printer over again. At least it's done, AND we're getting a surprisingly large refund! The tax laws have been changed slightly to cut down on penalizing married couples without kids. I also had underestimated how much refinancing our home was going to benefit us. Whew!

Tomorrow, I have massage therapy, the chiropractor AND the gastroentrologist (brain fog caused me to make multiple appointments same day again). Friday is the rheumatologist. Hope to end the week with more answers than when I started.

Pain level: 8
Fatigue level: 8

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Rave of the Day for February 21.... 

Time magazine for the week of February 23rd. I saw it at the grocery store last night and bought it. The cover story is about inflammation and how it could be the culprit in diseases as diverse as Alzheimers, cancer and diabetes. An interesting read even for those who are healthy. The article is also available on their website. Check it out.

Tardive dyskinesia, revisited.... 

Those awful muscle twitches and cramps I had for about a week turned out to be more, much more. When I got out of bed yesterday, I suddenly had them EVERYWHERE! Legs, feet, back, arms, face, hands. And the tremor in my right hand got way worse than usual. I knew then that something was very wrong, that something besides illness had to be the culprit. I suspected a reaction to a medication. The newest one was the one for gastroparesis. I double-checked the patient info and only saw muscle cramps listed as a very rare side effect, but I have a history of this sort of reaction to anti-depressants, so I immediately thought tardive dyskinsesia, which are Parkinsonian-like reactions to medications that signal brain damage.

My good friend and evil twin (ha ha) Ducky came to the rescue with information linking the medication in question directly to tardive dyskinesia. I called the gastroenterologist's office and left a detailed message. By the time the physician's assistant called me back an hour later, the tremor had spread to my entire body, just like it did with in the past with four other medications I've reacted to. I was flopping around like a crazed marionette. He suggested Benadryl to try to counteract the gastroparesis medication, but Benadryl makes me hyper, which didn't seem like a good idea. So we both agreed I should just stop the medication altogether....thank goodness it can safely be discontinued suddenly. He added that if I experienced any swelling or shortness of breath, I should call an ambulance.

I went to work last night, although how I got through the shift, I have no idea. I was way beyond weary with all the twitching and shaking. My joints, especially the knees, felt as though a white-hot knife was slicing through them. This was worse than before I began taking anti-inflammatories last year. I could hardly even walk.

Had a heck of a time getting any sleep last night. The pain was so intense that I just lay in bed and cried. I finally realized that if I didn't take something, I'd end up in the hospital (yes, it was that bad). So I took a double dose of my emergency pain medication. It knocked everything back down to a livable level, and I got four hours of sleep before the twitches started keeping me awake again. I dozed off here and there before getting up this morning to get ready for a fibromyalgia support group meeting.

Today, I'm still twitching and shaking, but it's slightly less intense except for my stomach. My stomach is back to its old tricks of reflux and nausea in addition to twitching like mad, but fortunately not that intense abdominal pain I'd been so accustomed to. I think that pain was from gluten intolerance. My joints are very bad and the fatigue is pretty substantial. I know the twitches have made my fibromyalgia pain level run wild...it's impossible to tell at this point what will calm down and what won't.

I hope to God I didn't do permanent damage in addition to what I already have (each of the last reactions left permanent residual effects). I know from previous experience that I can do nothing about this except wait it out. I feel like an idiot for not recognizing this sooner, but everything I read said only listed muscle cramps, not tardive dyskinesia, and under very rare side effects at that. I have taken other medications with the potential for muscle cramps, and they have not bothered me at all. I guess the upside of this is that I figured it out within a week of experiencing symptoms. If I'd not been through it before, I'd be waiting three months for a neurologist appointment to get tested for MS and various other ailments I don't have.

So this leaves me with managing my digestion through diet alone. I'm not crazy about that, but it IS a much safer alternative, just like I rarely take pain medication and never take anti-depressants for the fibromyalgia.

This past week, I've used Icy Hot, Mineral Ice, epsom salt baths and emu oil (not all at once, of course). Usually one or a combo of these will relax the muscles if I'm dealing with simple overuse or immobility. This time, none of them really had any effect. That's what helped me finally figure out that something besides illness had to be the cause. I've been dying to get back to the hot springs, but that stupid incision in my heel is STILL open, so I'm still waiting! The green stuff I'm putting on it (Panafil) has kept infection away but has made the wound only slightly smaller. I HAVE to get off this freaking prednisone! I'm down to 6mg per day...the goal is 5mg or less. I would dearly love to go off of it completely.

Poor Dan got more bad news today....a friend of his family was found dead in the bathtub. The friend was only 37 years old...I'm guessing there's going to be an autopsy. Dan is getting together with one our former co-workers tonight so he doesn't have to sit at home and think about it. Bad news does seem to come in bunches sometimes.

The support group meeting was entertaining....a very colorful speaker who used to work with the CDC (the US Center for Disease Control). He's convinced chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia are autoimmune disorders, that the genetic predisposition exists in certain people but has to be triggered by infection or trauma for the illness to occur. He is adamant that these are disabling ailments....he said that many of those who still work have to give up their social lives and most other normal activities in order to function on the job. He also says the US is doing their people a horrible disservice by spending billions of dollars on Iraq and a mere pittance for medical research on fibro and CFIDS. Naturally, I liked the guy. Afterward, I got to talk with a few people, one of whom also belongs to the Sjogren's support group.

Not quite sure what I'm going to do with myself tonight....had originally planned to tidy up the command center (my computer desk) to clear a path for doing the taxes. Right now I don't have the motivation to even clean up my supper dishes. Maybe I'll just veg on the sofa....I so rarely do that.

Pain level: 9
Fatigue level: 9

Friday, February 20, 2004

Rave of the Day for February 20: 

How not to speak English....

1. The verb HAS to agree with their subjects.

2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.

3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.

4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.

5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat)

6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.

7. Be more or less specific.

8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.

9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.

10. No sentence fragments.

11. Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used.

12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.

13. Do not be redundant, do not use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.

14. One should NEVER generalize.

15. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.

16. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.

17. One-word sentences? Eliminate.

18. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.

19. The passive voice is to be ignored.

20. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.

21. Never use a big word when a diminuitve one would suffice.

22. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.

23. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth-shaking ideas.

24. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."

25. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times. Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.

26. Puns are for children, not groan readers.

27. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.

28. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.

29. Who needs rhetorical questions?

30. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

31. Proofread carefullly to see if you any words out.

Twitching the night away.... 

...the muscle relaxant last night didn't help keep the muscle twitches and cramps at bay, and I couldn't sleep throught them even with the aid of sleep medicine. Sigh. Another long morning of epsom soaks, hot towels, Mineral Ice and frustration. I was far too exhausted to stay out of bed in between bouts. Dan finally had to get me up at 2:30, which barely left me enough time to get ready for work. Yes, I went to work....I won't have a sick day available for another month, and I'm trying to avoid being disciplined for calling in without one.

Good news at work, though....I got 90% on the test I took! Yay! I was allowed to take it toward the beginning of the shift when it was a little easier to think clearly. I don't always get credit at work for having any brains, so it's nice to have some validation. I think I got the best score on the night shift.

On Saturday, the local fibromyalgia/CFIDS support group I've joined is having a meeting with a speaker. He is a well-known expert on chronic fatigue. I found out that one of the other members has Sjogren's too...maybe we'll have a chance to chat about that a bit.

In the meantime, my ailments are having quite a party tonight....I've got the most profound aching going on, and I know the fibro is involved because it's EVERYWHERE. Maybe I can talk Dan into a backrub before I go to sleep. Poor man certainly has his hands full taking care of me.

I'm really starting to wonder about the meaning of the abnormal result on the C-Reactive Protein test I had last week. The normal range is 0-5 and mine was 20. It's supposed to measure acute inflammation....I wonder if Sjogren's can do that even though I'm on an anti-inflammatory? I'll be asking the rheumatologist about that next week....seems to me that I either need to be re-checked for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus or be put on a new anti-inflammatory. Something seems amiss.

I'm trying to work a knot out of my right calf as I type this. Argh.

Pain level: 9
Fatigue level: 9

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Rave of the Day for February 19: 

Another funny courtesy of Feathers...

Subject: Profound Signs

Friends don't let friends take home ugly men.
Women's restroom,
Starboard, Dewey Beach, DE

Beauty is only a light switch away.
Perkins Library,
DukeUniversity, Durham, NC

If life is a waste of time, and time is a waste of life, then let's all get wasted together and have the time of our lives.
Armand's Pizza,
Washington, DC

Remember, it's not, "How high are you?" it's "Hi, how are you?"
Rest stop off Route 81,
West Virginia

Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.
The Bayou,
Baton Rouge, LA

No matter how good she looks, some other guy is sick and tired of putting up with her sh*t.
Men's Room, Linda's Bar and Grill,
Chapel Hill, NC

At the feast of ego everyone leaves hungry.
Bentley's House of Coffee and Tea,
Tucson, AZ

It's hard to make a comeback when you haven't been anywhere.
Written in the dust on the back of a bus,
Wickenburg, AZ

Make love, not war. -Hell, do both
Women's restroom, The Filling Station,
Bozeman, MT

If voting could really change things, it would be illegal.
Revolution Books,
New York, NY

If pro is opposite of con, then what is the opposite of progress? Congress!
Men's restroom, House of Representatives,
Washington, DC

Express Lane: Five beers or less
Sign over one of the urinals,
Ed Debevic's, Phoenix, AZ

You're too good for him.
Sign over mirror in Women's restroom,
Ed Debevic's, Beverly Hills, CA.

No wonder you always go home alone.
Sign over mirror in Men's restroom,
Ed Debevic's, Beverly Hills, CA

and the favorite, and most realistic one ~~~

A Woman's Rule of Thumb:
If it has tires or testicles, you're going to have trouble with it.
Women's restroom,
Dick's Last Resort, Dallas, TX

I WILL sleep tonight... 

...even if someone has to knock me out with a ball peen hammer first!

I'm going to go take a muscle relaxant with my sleep aid and see if I can get through a night with no muscle twitches/cramps. I'm not going to do another marionette impression if I can help it.

Pain level: 9
Fatigue level: 9

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Rave of the Day for February 18... 

Warning: you might see yourself in this funny! Not me, of course. Yeah, right! Courtesy of Ducky's Daily Grin (see my Links list to go there)...

You know you are living in the year 2004 when:

1. Your reason for not staying in touch with some family and friends is because they do not have e-mail.

2. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three.

3. Your grandmother asks you to send her a JPEG file of your newborn so she can create a screen saver.

4. You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to see if anyone is home.

5. Every commercial on television has a web site address at the bottom of the screen.

6. You buy a computer and 3 months later it's out of date and sells for half the price, or less than you paid for it.

7. Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't have the first 20 or 30 years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go get it.

8. Using real money, instead of a credit or debit card, to make a purchase would be a hassle and take planning.

9. You just tried to enter your password on the microwave.

10. You consider second-day air delivery painfully slow.

11. Your dining room table is now your flat filing cabinet.

12. Your idea of being organized is multiple-colored Post-it notes.

13. You hear most of your jokes via e-mail instead of in person.

14. You get an extra phone line so you can get phone calls.

15. You disconnect from the Internet and you get this awful feeling, as if you just pulled the plug on a loved one.

16. You get up in the morning and go online before getting your coffee.

17. You wake up at 2 AM to go to the bathroom and check your e-mail on your way back to bed.

18. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. :)

19. You're reading this and nodding and laughing.

20. Even worse; you know exactly who you are going to forward this to!

Lifestyles of the twitchy and cranky...  

...I have not had proper sleep since Friday night. The muscle cramps have escalated. Every time I dozed off last night, something would cramp up and wake me up. I was late to aquacise because I couldn't get my legs and feet to quit cramping up long enough to get out of the house. I finally resorted to taking a muscle relaxant (non-sedating) so I would at least be able to move during the class. My stomach is not happy about the medication, but that's the way it goes.

I HAVE to get some sleep tonight! I have a test at work tomorrow, and I want to do well.

Too bad my body didn't come with a warranty....if it had, I'd be writing one angry letter to the manufacturer!

Pain level: 8
Fatigue level: 9

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Rave of the Day for February 17.... 

...another doggie funny. This one I got in an e-mail from Debbie in Kansas:

If Dogs Sent Letters to God

Dear God,
Why do humans smell the flowers, but seldom, if ever, smell one another?

Dear God,
When we get to heaven, can we sit on your couch? Or is it the same old story?

Dear God,
Why are there cars named after the jaguar, the cougar, the mustang, the colt, the stingray, and the rabbit, but not ONE named for a dog? How often do you see a cougar riding around? We dogs love a nice ride! Would it be so hard to rename the 'Chrysler Eagle' the 'Chrysler Beagle'?

Dear God,
If a dog barks his head off in the forest and no human hears him, is he still a bad dog?

Dear God,
We dogs can understand human verbal instructions, hand signals, whistles, horns, clickers, beepers, scent ID's, electromagnetic energy fields, and Frisbee flight paths. What do humans understand?

Dear God,
More meatballs, less spaghetti, please.

Dear God,
When we get to the Pearly Gates, do we have to shake hands to get in?

Dear God,
Are there mailmen in Heaven? If there are, will I have to apologize?

Dear God,
Let me give you a list of just some of the things I must remember to be a good dog:

- I will not eat the cats' food before they eat it or after they throw it up.
- I will not roll on dead seagulls, fish, crabs, etc., just because I like the way they smell.
- I will not munch on "leftovers" in the kitty litter box; although they are tasty, they are not food.
- The diaper pail is not a cookie jar.
- The sofa is not a face towel; neither are Mom and Dad's laps.
- The garbage collector is not stealing our stuff.
- My head does not belong in the refrigerator.
- I will not bite the officer's hand when he reaches in for Mom's driver's license and registration.
- I will not play tug-of-war with Dad's underwear when he's on the toilet.
- Sticking my nose into someone's crotch is not an acceptable way of saying 'hello.'
- I do not need to suddenly stand straight up when I'm lying under the coffee table.
- I must shake the rainwater out of my fur BEFORE entering the house.
- I will not throw up in the car.
- I will not come in from outside and immediately drag my butt across the carpet.
- I will not sit in the middle of the living room and lick my crotch when company is over.
- The cat is not a squeaky toy; so when I play with him and he makes that noise, it's usually not a good thing.

Dear God,
May I have my testicles back?

Attack of the fibromyalgia monster.... 

....the latest assault began innocently enough on Valentine's Day. Went to a music store with my hubby (bought CDs by the Kinks, Brian Setzer and the Red Hot Chili Peppers), and while I was rather fatigued, I didn't hurt any worse than I have been for the past three weeks I've been in this flare. So, when we left the store and Dan offered to get the car and pick me up, I told him I felt ok to walk. What I didn't know was:
A) the car was about two blocks away, and
B) the outside temperature had dropped a good 20 degrees.

I think I would have been fine if it had not been so cold outdoors. I like to walk some for the exercise, but I'm new to arthritis pain (this is my first winter with it) and keep forgetting what the cold can do to me. I was hobbling in a rather slow and pitiful way by the time I got to the car.

After we got home, we curled up on the reclining couch and watched a movie. I sat for too long in an awkward position, and the muscles that were already angry with me for walking in the cold decided to have revenge. Toward the end of the movie, I got a violent muscle cramp going up the front of my left leg from the toes to the knee. When I would try to straighten my toes, the back of my leg would cramp up too. It's one of those situations where you can do very little but scream and cry. Dan had to help me up the stairs so I could soak in hot water with Epsom salts. It took half an hour for the cramping to stop, and then I was so exhausted I thought I was going to faint. That's when the fibromonster decided to take over and distribute muscle spasms everywhere.

Haven't gotten any sleep to speak of since then because every time I'm immobile for more than an hour or so, something will twitch and/or cramp up. It was still going on when I went to aquacise this morning and after the class as well. In spite of my best efforts at self-massage, the muscles in my feet and legs are so excuciating they can hardly be touched. The fibromonster of course feeds on this and distributes the pain to as many areas as possible. It's like dropping a stone in a pond....the ripples seem endless.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Rave of the Day for February 16... 

Another fine funny from Feathers of Fibrohugs...

Memo to Pets:

Dear Dogs and Cats,

When I say to move, it means go someplace else, not switch positions with each other so there are still two of you in the way.

The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help, because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king-sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue to sleep on the couch to ensure your comfort.

Look at videos of dogs and cats sleeping: They can actually curl up in a ball. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible.

I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space used is nothing but sarcasm.

My compact discs are not miniature Frisbees!

And for the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, try to turn the knob, or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open.

I must exit through the same door entered.

In addition, I have been using bathrooms for years, so canine attendance is not mandatory.

The proper order is kiss me, then go smell the other dog's butt. I cannot stress this enough.

It would be such a simple change for you.

To pacify you I have posted the following message on our front door...
Rules for Non-Pet Owners Who Visit & Like to Complain About Our Pets:
1. They live here. You don't.
2. If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture.
3. I like my pet a lot better than I like most people.
4. To you, it's an animal. To me, he/she is an adopted son/daughter who is short, hairy, walks on all fours, and doesn't speak clearly.
5. Dogs and cats are better than kids. They eat less, don't ask for money all the time, are easier to train, usually come when called, never drive your car, don't hang out with drug-using friends, don't smoke or drink, don't worry about buying the latest fashions (i.e. nose rings;), don't wear your clothes, don't need a gazillion dollars for college, and if they get pregnant, you can sell the results.

My grandma is 85... 

Went to the Alzheimer's facility yesterday where my grandmother is....the family got together to celebrate her birthday. Dan stayed home....my grandmother's dementia always makes him sad, and he's had enough sadness the past few weeks. I was NOT in good shape myself after a night of violent muscle cramps, but I managed to totter around some and finish up the roll of film that I had started at Christmas. Grandma had some trouble at first....she'd jump up and ask questions I couldn't quite hear, but I would tell her that she didn't need to go anywhere, and she'd relax, slump over for a few seconds and then repeat the process. This went on for about 20 minutes. She seemed better after we lit the candles on the cake and sang "Happy Birthday" to her. In addition to the cake and pie, there was some fresh fruit available, so I had some of that. When we took Grandma back up to the floor where her room was, there was a woman in the living area with a doll in one hand and one of her shoes in the other, dancing. It was kind of sweet though because she looked so happy. In the kitchen, there was a man reading poetry aloud. I recognized everything he read: Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Robert Burns. Grandma's cat came out of her room and greeted us. Then a lady I'd never seen before walked right up to me like she knew me, put her arm around me and gave me a gentle kiss on the cheek. She looked so thrilled to see me that I just thanked her for the sweet gesture. Before I left, I went to the lobby to pet the greyhound that is the facility's mascot. Very gentle creature. A most unusual afternoon.

Pain level: 7
Fatigue level: 8

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Rave of the Day for February 15.... 

The movie I saw yesterday, "Something's Gotta Give". Fantastic! Contains the funniest sex scene since "A Fish Called Wanda". A refreshing look at whether age is something more than just a number. Jack Nicholson confronts the biggest challenge to habitual bachelorhood....mortality. Diane Keaton portrays a woman whose entire life could be compared to a turtleneck sweater. I'm rooting for Keaton to get the Oscar.

Adventures in food tolerance.... 

For about a month now, I've been free of the constant stomach pain that had plagued me for six straight years. I attribute this more to being gluten-free than to avoidance of difficult-to-digest foods. I decided to test this theory a bit by adding a few "forbidden" foods that, while gluten-free, can be rough on the tummy.

Went to the movie theatre yesterday, and since it was Valentine's Day, what did I crave more than anything in the world? Chocolate, of course. I've almost completely gone without it aside from a Junior Mint or two since mid-November, and I was getting very cranky about it. I finally caved in and bought something I knew to be gluten-free...a 3 Musketeers bar. I ate it very slowly over the course of the movie and drank plenty of water. It didn't seem to bother my stomach at all....AND since I'd waited so long for one, it was the best I'd ever tasted.

Then today was the serious tummy test....a small lean grilled steak. The gastroenterologist had told me I'd never be able to tolerate red meat again. Guess what? I was fine.

This is not to say that I'm going to be eating these foods on a regular basis....doing so would no doubt be too stressful on the body. BUT a lean steak once every month or so sure would make me less cranky. And I'm going to start a Valentine's Day tradition of a gluten-free candy bar. One day a year will not kill me.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Rave of the Day for February 14: 

Courtesy of Feathers, heh heh....

In honor of Valentine's Day:

60 things not 2 say b4 sex

1. I've smoked fatter joints than that.
2. Ahh, it's cute.
3. Who circumcised you?
4. Why don't we just cuddle?
5. You know they have surgery to fix that.
6. It's more fun to look at.
7. Make it dance.
8. You know, there's a tower in Italy like that.
9. Can I paint a smiley face on that?
10. It looks like a night crawler.
11. Wow, and your feet are so big.
12. My last boyfriend was 4'' bigger.
13. It's ok, we'll work around it.
14. Is this a mild or a spicy Slim Jim?
15. Eww, there's an inch worm on your thigh.
16. Will it squeak if I squeeze it?
17. Oh no, a flash headache.
18. (giggle and point)
19. Can I be honest with you?
20. My 8-year-old brother has one like that.
21. Let me go get my tweezers.
22. How sweet, you brought incense.
23. This explains your car.
24. You must be a growing boy.
25. Maybe if we water it, it'll grow.
26. Thanks, I needed a toothpick.
27. Are you one of those pygmies?
28. Have you ever thought of working in a sideshow?
29. Every heard of clearasil?
30. All right, a treasure hunt!
31. I didn't know they came that small.
32. Why is God punishing you?
33. At least this won't take long.
34. I never saw one like that before.
35. What do you call this?
36. But it still works, right?
37. Damn, I hate baby-sitting.
38. It looks so unused.
39. Do you take steroids?
40. I hear excessive masturbation shrinks it.
41. Maybe it looks better in natural light.
42. Why don't we skip right to the cigarettes?
43. Oh, I didn't know you were in an accident.
44. Did you date Lorena Bobbitt?
45. Aww, it's hiding.
46. Are you cold?
47. If you get me real drunk first.
48. Is that an optical illusion?
49. What is that?
50. I'll go get the ketchup for your french fry.
51. Were you neutered?
52. It's a good thing you have so many other talents.
53. Does it come with an air pump?
54. So this is why you're supposed to judge people on personality.
55. Where are the puppet strings?
56. Your big gun is more like a BB gun.
57. Look, it fits my Barbie clothes.
58. Never mind, why bother.
59. Is that a second belly button?
60. Where's the rest of it?

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Dan likes to exchange gifts as soon after midnight as possible, which for us means after work. He's such a kid....never could wait until after he wakes up for the day, lol. He gave me this adorable purple teddy bear that smells like lilacs! My favorite color and scent! Heavenly! Also a copy of "Seabiscuit", both the DVD and the book. I gave him a gift certificate to a day spa for a 90 minute therapeutic massage.....he more than deserves it after all he does for me!

This is pretty cool...I discovered I've lost enough weight (22 pounds) to be able to fit into the heart-shaped ring Dan gave me eight years ago on Valentine's Day. I wore it today along with the heart-shaped pendant he found three years ago that matches the ring.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Rave of the Day for February 13: 

Here's a joke I heard from a co-worker tonight....

Did you hear Janet Jackson was issued a traffic ticket by the police?

Yeah, she had a HEADLIGHT out!

Valentine's and other plans... 

...I was just going to cook something at home for Dan and I, but he wasn't too enthusiastic about it. Can't blame him...I'm a lousy cook! Anyway, I think I can get away with lunch at Red Lobster, so we're going to go there on Saturday. I should be safe with a broiled lobster tail, baked potato and a salad sans croutons or dressing.

That night, we're going to see "Something's Got to Give" at the movie theatre. Maybe I can talk Dan into buying some Junior Mints so I can have a few. They're gluten free (but I'm not supposed to eat chocolate).

I'm living life on the edge....I bought steak at the grocery store. It's supposed to be a no-no for me, but I have had hardly any stomach trouble for a month now, so I'm going to try a small portion with something easy to digest like rice. I did buy the leanest kind the store had. I bet I'll be fine. If so, I'll be sure to report this to my gastro doc when I see her on the 24th. This was the one that wanted me to live on baby food.

Saw the ENT this week and got both good and bad news. The good news is that I had my hearing re-checked and it has not deteriorated from six months ago (damage from Sjogren's). The bad news is that I have some sort of fungal infection in the sinuses. I'm taking Diflucan for a week, and they ran a C-reactive protein and some other tests.

Have developed a bothersome problem with my knees....they feel like they're slipping out of place sometimes when I'm walking. When they pop back into place, it hurts like crazy. The right one does this more often than the left. They both feel as if someone was trying to pull the kneecaps off using a can opener. I'll have to ask the rheumy about this one when I see him on the 27th.

Would love for this flare to ease off....I think the weather is primarily responsible. For about three weeks, it has snowed every third day or so. The barometer has been bouncing like a ping pong ball, so the pain and fatigue levels never really get a chance to go down and stay down. I think I will feel much better this summer.

Pain level: 7
Fatigue level: 7

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Rave of the Day for February 12.... 

Definitely need some giggles today. Got this in an e-mail from my friend Debbie in Kansas a little while back. Enjoy...


If a dog was the teacher you would learn stuff like.....

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

When it's in your best interest, practice obedience.

Let others know when they've invaded your territory.

Take naps. Stretch before rising.

Run, romp, and play daily.

Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout...run right back and make friends.

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough.

Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you're not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

And finally .....Never trust anyone until you sniff his butt.

Whiny and weepy today... 

...some days, it's just plain tough to be upbeat. Sigh.

Pain level: 8
Fatigue level: 8

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Rave of the Day for February 11.... 

In the mood for an especially funny joke tonight. This is straight from Ducky's own Daily Grin (a link to it is on the right hand side of this page). Read this one carefully:

A new young monk arrives at the monastery. He is assigned to help the other monks in copying the old canons and laws of the church by hand. He notices, however, that all of the monks are copying from copies, not from the original manuscript.

So, the new monk goes to the head abbot to question this, pointing out that if someone made even a small error in the first copy, it would never be picked up. In fact, that error would be continued in all of the subsequent copies.

The head monk, says, "We have been copying from the copies for centuries, but you make a good point, my son."

So, he goes down into the dark caves underneath the monastery where the original manuscript is held as archives in a locked vault that hasn't been opened for hundreds of years.

Hours go by and nobody sees the old abbot. So, the young monk gets worried and goes downstairs to look for him.

He sees him banging his head against the wall, and wailing, "We forgot the "R", We forgot the "R". His forehead is all bloody and bruised and he is crying uncontrollably.

The young monk asks the old abbot, "What's wrong, father?"

With a choking voice, the old abbot replies, "The word is celebrate."

"The word is celebRate."

My employers have a new regime... 

...there is a whole new lineup of managers in my department at work. Most of the changes have taken place in the past month. Several of the mangers are from outside our department and haven't the slightest idea who we are or how we get our work done.

The new foreman is the one with whom I have to interact the most, and of course he is the main one I can't stand. He thinks he is the conversation police and comes running over to tell me to get back to work whenever I say hello to someone, even if I say hello while I'm busy working. I'm hoping like crazy his reign is brief.

The most worriesome person, though, appears to be the brand new manager a couple of levels up. She has called one of my co-workers into the office twice already to reprimand her about her attendance. This was in reference to stuff that happened last March. Yesterday this co-worker was informed that if she calls in sick one more time in the next eight weeks, she is fired. While this manager probably doesn't know about my chronic illnesses, she apparently has access to the attendance records. We are only allowed four sick days per year. I called in sick seven times in eight weeks last fall. I suspect I will be the next one to get the threat. I cannot honestly promise that I won't call in sick until I earn a sick day off in the next eight weeks. I CAN promise, however, that if this manager attempts to fire me illegally, my union rep will be a witness.

Other new stuff going on....the powers that be (my managers) have decided to get rid of the ad production system we have used for the last six years and start over with a new operating system and applications. Fine. I don't mind learning new stuff. The problem is with my foggy foggy brain. I don't have nearly the retention I used to and become mentally exhausted quite easily. I hope this does not become obvious to the trainers. I will do my best and will insist upon taking breaks to write notes as necessary because it will help me remember.

So much for just getting my job done and minding my own business. Only 27 years until retirement.

Pain level: 7
Fatigue level: 7

Monday, February 09, 2004

Rave of the Day for February 9: 

Got this in an e-mail today from my friend Debbie in Kansas. Some of these I've posted before, but some I think are new. It's still hilarious....

The Washington Post's Style Invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are this year's winners:

 1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

 2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

 3. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

 4. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

 5. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

 6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

 7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

 8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

 9. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.

10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

11. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

13. Glibido: All talk and no action.

14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

15. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.

And the pick of the literature:

18. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an a--hole.

Returning to "normal" in slow mo.... 

...I'm doing better than yesterday but am still feeling pretty wiped out. Went to aquacise and got through it somehow. Will return to work tonight even though I don't really feel up to it yet. Sounds like business as usual for me.

Watched the Grammys last night...five of them went to Bouncy, I mean Beyonce. That opening number with her and Prince was pretty cool. I also enjoyed the funk tribute with Earth, Wind and Fire, George Clinton and OutKast. And I almost wish Christina Aguilera HAD bounced out of her dress, just to see what would have happened. I think everyone is giving Janet Jackson far too much crap about the boob thing. Since when did the Super Bowl become a family event? It's a bunch of overpaid men knocking each other to the ground by any means necessary. So the violence is ok for the kiddies, but heaven forbid they should see a boob on the boob tube. America has its priorities all wrong. Wish I had more time to expound on this.

Time for the obligatory shower and preparation of lunch. If I get off my butt and get going, I'll have time to make a pasta salad.

Pain level: 8
Fatigue level: 8

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Rave of the Day for February 8: 

Got this in an e-mail from my friend Marci today. It has some good food for thought...

I Believe

I believe- that we don't have to change friends if we understand that friends change.

I believe- that no matter how good a friend is, they're going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.

I believe- that true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love.

I believe- that you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.

I believe- that it's taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.

I believe- that you should always leave loved ones with loving words.
It may be the last time you see them.

I believe- that you can keep going long after you can't.

I believe- that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.

I believe- that either you control your attitude or it controls you.

I believe- that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades and there had better be something else to take its place.

I believe- that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.

I believe- that money is a lousy way of keeping score.

I believe- that my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time.

I believe- that sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down, will be the ones to help you get back up.

I believe- that sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.

I believe- that just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have.

I believe- that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.

I believe- that it isn't always enough to be forgiven by others.
Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.

I believe- that no matter how bad your heart is broken, the world doesn't stop for your grief.

I believe- that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.

I believe- that just because two people argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other. And just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do.

I believe- that you shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret.
It could change your life forever.

I believe- that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.

I believe- that your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don't even know you.

I believe- that even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help.

I believe- that credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.

I believe- that the people you care about most in life are taken from you too soon.


...I was lucky to get out of town Wednesday. It started snowing the night before and wasn't showing any signs of stopping as the time for my flight to Bismarck approached. I had packed somewhat lightly (sort of an oxymoron considering I had to bring thick winter clothing, all my meds and my own food). Since I had an e-ticket, I was able to use a self-serve check-in where the only thing the desk person has to do is take your bag for you. There was very little waiting to get through security. I even got to sit down on the train. But these things still didn't help the exhaustion factor much as I had to trudge all the way to gate 59! Things started looking a bit iffy for departure as the three flights prior to mine at the gate for Bismarck were all delayed, and several at surrounding gates were cancelled altogether. Departure time came and went as our plane hadn't even landed yet. We did get going about an hour late, not too bad considering they had to re-fuel and de-ice. Amazingly, we were able to make up about half an hour in the air, and the seat next to mine was empty to give me some room, so I wasn't too out of sorts and Dan and his parents didn't have to wait all afternoon for me. Could have been much worse.

Getting in and out of Dan's parents' massive SUV required gymnastics on my part, greatly hindered by the stiffness in my joints. The cold didn't help at all....even with a heavy leather coat and gloves, I was definitely a popsicle. I suppose people must get used to it.

After leaving the airport, we picked up some copies of the local newspaper containing Uncle Mickey's obituary. Then we visited the funeral home to take care of some last-minute details for Thursday's service. We also made a stop at the local market for bottled water, carrots, apples, bananas and nuts. That evening we ate at Red Lobster, my first visit at a sit-down restaurant since going gluten-free in November. I had broiled salmon and a baked potato, which I figure was pretty safe. I remembered to ask them to leave the croutons off the salad and to put the dressing on the side but discovered that the vinegar and oil dressing had malt vinegar, so I just ate the salad plain. One thing that really sucked was the waitress spilled a full glass of Coke all over me, including on my good suede shoes and in my hair. We also went to Mickey's house to clean and look for some necessary documents (Mickey didn't leave a will). I volunteered to work on the bathroom as I figured I wouldn't have to worry about what to save and what to toss (I kept an eye out for any meds that needed to be flushed). I got most of the way through the medicine cabinet and sink items. Then I sorted through several boxes of books and set aside a few I wanted to keep as no one else in Dan's family reads much. Very long day...I was hobbling by the time we got to the motel.

I made a point of taking an Ambien Wednesday night and setting aside plenty of time to sleep. I did actually get some rest in spite of the hard mattress. We left for the funeral home Thursday about an hour and a half before the service to double check everything and to receive the people attending. It was the first funeral I ever went to where I didn't actively cry....I felt like crying, but my eyes were so dry from Sjogren's (and the winter cold) that nothing actually happened. After the service, we did the receiving line and had a small reception in an adjoining room (I brought my own water and gluten-free health bar to take the place of the punch, coffee, cookies and pastries). That evening, I gambled and agreed to go to a buffet-style restaurant for supper. It worked out very well, actually....they cooked steaks, potatoes and chicken breasts on a separate grill from the other food. They also had fresh fruit, and milk so I could drink something besides water. Dan asked me if I wanted to go to a local mall, and I was not feeling too bad, so I agreed to go if it wasn't for more than an hour. Unfortunately, I was there about 30 minutes when the sledgehammer of fatigue hit me especially hard, and I felt like I would pass out if I didn't rest immediately. Everyone was pretty good about it. Even though I was worn out beyond belief, I barely slept because I hurt so badly.

Friday was spent taking care of various matters, mainly having to do with Dan's dad becoming the personal rep for Mickey's finances. We made stops at a lawyer's, a credit union, and a stock broker's. Then it was time to do some serious tidying at Mickey's house. I finished up the bathroom except for the floor. It didn't feel like I was doing too much at the time, perhaps because I was busy being too grossed out by the urine, fecal and other stains I was scrubbing. I also discovered the toilet was leaking and probably had been for some time. The house will need some serious work before it will be in a condition to be sold. Dan was sweet enough to give me a back rub that night....I think it helped me get some sleep.

Yesterday we went to Perkin's after Dan and I checked out of the motel. I was able to order scrambled eggs and fresh fruit ala carte. Then, like a tard, I managed to spill a huge glass of V-8 all over myself, including my shoes and my hair again. I scrubbed off as much as I could and then went back to Dan's parents' room (they hadn't checked out yet) to change. Fortunately, I had brought extra socks, a pair of pants and a sweater in the suitcase, so I didn't have to wear dirty clothes home on the plane. Check-in was pretty routine at the Bismarck airport....they only have two gates. We left right on time, we arrived a half hour early, and I didn't spill any of the tomato juice I drank on the plane.

Last night, it became evident that I had overdone it cleaning that bathroom...my fibromyalgia went into overdrive. Between that and the Sjogren's pain and fatigue, I was practically incapacitated. I found out that a very expensive bottle of mouthwash (to treat dry mouth) had exploded all over my carry-on bag, but I didn't much care about cleaning it up since it involved going back downstairs to get some rags. I soooo badly wanted just to grab something to eat so I would have food in my stomach to take a pain pill with....there was no energy left to eat a meal, much less prepare one. Still, I tried to cook some rice spaghetti and made a mess of things, dropping and spilling stuff because my stiff hands were so clumsy. I suddenly couldn't stand it anymore and announced I was going to bed, leaving the spaghetti half-cooked on the stove and the cold sauce on the countertop after the lid had fallen into the dish. I crawled upstairs and cried for quite some time, still producing no actual tears. I finally limped back downstairs and salvaged something edible and apologized for being a bitch and watched a movie with Dan. Then I took a pain pill and an Ambien and slept for 10 straight hours without even getting up to pee.

I woke up this morning hurting a bit less but even more stiff than before. I forced myself to do some stretches no matter how painful and took a muscle relaxant with some yogurt. I still feel like a zombie, but I guess I'm a bit more human. I plan to watch the Grammys and go to bed early again.

I've forgotten how it is that healthy people cope.

Pain level: 9
Fatigue level: 9

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