Sunday, May 30, 2004

Rave of the Day for May 30: 

Good ol' American know-how, heh heh. Thanks to SilverWing for e-mailing me this gem....

When NASA first started sending up astronauts, they quickly discovered that ball-point pens would not work in zero gravity. To combat this problem, NASA scientists spent a decade and $12 billion developing a pen that writes in zero gravity, upside down, on almost any surface including glass and at temperatures ranging from below freezing to over 300 C.

The Russians used a pencil.


Every spring, I drive past the city park on the way to work and see the adorable goslings and think to myself, "I really should try to get some pictures of them". But by the time I remember to do it, the babies have grown up and you can't tell them from the adults. Well, recently Ducky mentioned going to the park near her to see baby ducks, so I finally remembered to go to my own park this time. I needed to practice taking pix with my digital camera of something moving, anyway. I do have an action shot setting but haven't been able to figure out how to use it yet, so I just did autofocus today.

Anyway, I did get lots of pix of goslings, which I'll put on a web page maybe tonight if I have the energy. But I got an even better photo of two baby ducks running to catch up with their mom. Here it is:

In a few weeks, I've have pix of my neice. Dan is going to South Dakota to visit family and friends and will take the camera with him. I'll be staying home....I'm too tired to travel anyway.

Wow, the weekend is almost over already! I'm working tomorrow because I get paid extra for it.

Pain level: 6
Fatigue level: 7

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Rave of the Day for May 29: 

Whomever originally wrote this must have spent a fair amount of time in my city, heh heh. Thanks to Ducky for this "informative" overview....

How to Drive in a Parking Lot

Even though you purchased one of those 4-wheel drive sport/utility vehicles because you might one day "drive" up a mountain, slow down drastically as you approach speed bumps.

When waiting for a parking spot, stop in the middle of the road, don't signal, and orient your car diagonally to prevent others from passing.

Always park on the lines, taking up as many spots as possible. Diagonal parking is preferred.

In a crowded parking lot, if you find a spot and have the opportunity to pull through to an adjacent one, drive up half way and stop on the line, taking both.

As you pull into a spot, if you see that the space ahead of you is empty and you see another driver signaling to take it, pull though and take it from him.

Always park close enough to the adjacent car so that the other driver must grease up with Vaseline to squeeze into his/her car.

When getting out of your car, hit the adjacent vehicle with your door really hard.

When driving through the parking lot, ignore the painted lanes and drive diagonally from one end to another at a high rate of speed.

When stopped in front of a store and waiting for a friend/relative to make a purchase, make sure that you are stopped in the middle of the road. The same rules applies to picking-up and discharging passengers.

When a vehicle from the opposite direction is signaling and waiting for a parking space, position your car so that you are in his way and let the car behind you take it.

If you hit the adjacent car with your door and leave a dent, wait for a car, which is painted the same color as yours, to drive down the aisle looking for a place to park. Then back out, giving up your spot like "Mr. Good Guy", and park somewhere else.

If the vehicle in front of you stops to let a pedestrian cross or another vehicle turn, pull into the lane of opposite traffic and attempt to pass him.

When exiting a shopping center into a busy road, exit through the narrow "ENTER ONLY" driveway, stick the nose of the car into traffic, and wait.

When driving through a parking lot with alternating one-way aisles and angled parking spots, drive the wrong way. Then when you see a parking space, take 20 minutes to do a 12-point turn to pull into it.

Always leave your shopping cart behind or tightly between parked vehicles.

Empty your ashtrays on the ground in shopping center parking lots. While you're at it, dump out all the garbage too.
If you are forced to change an infant's diaper in a parking lot, leave the soiled diaper under the car next to you.

When another vehicle is waiting for you to pull out of a spot in a crowded parking lot, take your time. Adjust the mirrors, your seat, and the radio. Roll down your window, light a cigarette, and eat your lunch. Feel free to go through your shopping bags and look at what you just bought.

When pulling into a parking spot, if there is a shopping cart in the way, lightly tap it with your bumper and send it rolling into an adjacent car. Then, when you step out, if the cart is still too close, push it down the parking lot aisle and let it go. While the cart is flying solo, turn around and walk toward the stores.

When pulling out of a shopping center, always have the front of your car sticking out in the middle of traffic.

If you are pulling out of a parking lot and you want to drive into another shopping center which is only about 100 feet to the left, quickly make the left turn, dart head-on into the opposite lane of traffic and turn into the next parking lot.

When walking back to your car in a busy shopping center, gesture to other drivers waiting for a spot to make them think that you are getting in the car and leaving. Then walk between the cars to the next aisle and do it again.

When holiday shopping at the mall, which requires you to load your bags into the car and go back in to do more shopping, do NOT tell the driver who is sitting patiently watching you load your car and signaling for your spot.

If you don't have handicap plates, PARK in a handicap spot. You should also joke with your passengers that if anyone says anything, you'll just walk with a limp.

When there are many open parking spots close to the store, choose the one right next to the guy who parked his brand new car all the way in the back.

When exiting a parking lot and making a left turn across a multi-laned main street, pull out into the first lane of oncoming traffic and stop. Wait until the next lane is clear, pull up and stop again. Do this until you have driven across far enough to make the left turn.

Park your large 8-cylinder "gas guzzler" vehicle in one and a half spots that are labeled "Subcompact Cars Only'.

When walking back to your car, if you notice other shoppers walking past your car to get to theirs, press the buttons on your keychain remote so that your car's alarm makes a sudden loud "BLOOP BLEEP" that scares the crap out of them.

If you don't see a speed limit sign in the shopping center parking lot, there isn't any!

When making a left turn from a parking lot onto a main road, and the exit has only one lane for each direction, and there is a car ahead of you waiting for traffic to clear to make the same left turn, do the following. Pull along side of the other driver, in the oncoming traffic lane. Then when the coast is clear, hit the accelerator pedal hard and quickly make the turn, cutting off the driver who was ahead of you.

When driving through the shopping center at night, DON'T use your headlights. The overhead lights in the parking lot is enough.

When stopped in a lane, blocking traffic, to let a passenger out, make sure that you continue to block traffic as the passenger then opens the rear door and leans back in to collect all his belongings.

If you are at an intersection adjacent to a shopping center parking lot, and a car is waiting at the parking lot exit to make a left turn, wait until your light turns green. Then gesture for him to proceed so that he pulls out and blocks your lane while waiting for oncoming traffic to clear to complete the left turn.

When loading your car in a parking lot, leave all the doors wide open and take your time when you see a car in the adjacent spot waiting to pull out and leave.

If you see a driver backing out of a parking spot, slowly creep up close to him so that the other driver no longer has enough room to back all the way out and has to pull back in to let you pass.

If all the spaces are full, park on the yellow diagonal lines at the end of the aisle so that no one can see around the corner when driving through.

When approaching speed bumps, either come to a complete stop first or drive over them at 90 mph.

Rainy day fun.... 

Last week, my aquacise instructor found out that I used to be a DJ. He asked me if I would be interested in putting together a CD of music for the class to exercise to. So I've got a blank CD with 80 minutes available on it. I thought about it for awhile....the class ranges in age from 40 (me) to 86, so the music would have to have wide appeal. I decided upon rock, pop and novelty songs from the 1950's to the 1970's. Some of the ones I've picked out are: "Splish Splash", "The Twist", "Rock Around the Clock", and "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini". This is fun!

Believe it or not, I'm STILL sore from going to the concert on Wednesday. My hips just don't want to stop complaining, even after a light workout om my Gazelle machine yesterday and stretching today. If they're still sore tomorrow, I'm gonna take a tennis ball to them.

Dan's foot apparently was only sprained. The swelling went down after a few days of elevating and icing it, and he went back to work last night. Unfortunately, now he has a cold. I can't tell if I'm catching it or not because I have freqent sore throats, mild fevers and occasional congestion anyway.

Wanted to go out today and take pix of the goslings at the city park, but the weather refused to cooperate. Two separate thunderstorms passed through between noon and 3pm. When the sun came out again, I headed downtown with my camera, but I didn't get far before it clouded up again and began to rain for a third time. I turned around and headed for a local craft store to get a silk rose and a small flag to take to the cemetery on Monday. Turned out to be my lucky day....scrapbook materials were 30-50% off! I got an adhesive dispenser, some self-sticking letters, some cute doggie stickers, and a whopping 120 pages of die cut sheets for only $15! Now I just need to get back to the albums I haven't touched in six months....

Am still finding creative ways to satisfy my cravings and stay gluten-free. On a chilly rainy day like today, I tend to want stuff like grilled cheese sandwiches and cream of tomato soup. I came fairly close with rice macaroni and cheese and a can of gluten-free tomato soup. Tasted good enough together that I'll probably do that again.

Time for me to get back to working on my CD. I'm going to see if I can find a copy of "Wipeout" by the Surfaris......

Pain level: 7
Fatigue level: 8

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Rave of the Day for May 27: 

This one's bit odd, but it still might bring a smile to your face. Thanks to Ducky for this....

Gas Prices

So, you think a gallon of gasoline is expensive...??

* Diet Snapple 16oz for $1.29 = $10.32 per gallon

* Lipton Ice Tea 16oz for $1.19 = $9.52 per gallon

* Gatorade 20oz for $1.59 = $10.17 per gallon

* Ocean Spray 16oz for $1.25 = $10.00 per gallon

* Pint of milk 16oz for $1.59 = $12.72 per gallon

* STP Brake Fluid 12oz for $3.15 = $33.60 per gallon

* Vick's Nyquil 6oz for $8.35 = $178.13 per gallon

* Pepto Bismol 4oz for $3.85 = $123.20 per gallon

* Whiteout 7oz for $1.39 = $25.42 per gallon

* Scope 1.5oz for $0.99 = $84.48 per gallon

And this is the REAL KICKER...
* Evian water 9oz for $1.49 = $ 21.19 per gallon
$21.19 FOR WATER!!

So next time you're at the pump, be glad your car doesn't run on Nyquil or Scope, Whiteout or water!!!

Rockin' in paradise..... 

I made it through the concert! We got there right at 6:30 just as the opening act started their first song. The Nelson brothers were first. They are both still very cute, very sweet, and sing well. They did a brief tribute to their father Ricky Nelson which was really nice.

I think sitting on the lawn at the concert was actually a better choice than a stadium seat. Even though it was further back, my sister and I were able to spread out a blanket to give us some room. I brought a seat cushion to sit on, which helped. I was able to stretch and shift position frequently. I did stand for a few songs, so my lower legs and feet did swell a bit even with the granny hose, but had I been up front, I would have been on my feet the whole time, which would have been a no-no for my edema. I brought my binoculars, so I could see the stage fairly well.

The second act was Peter Frampton. He was awesome! He is such a talented musician....really has a way with a guitar. He had a full band backing him up. Great voice too. We got to watch the sun set behind the mountains as he sang "I Love Your Way". He did some of his newer material too, which was quite good.

I was right about there being no food in the ampitheatre that I could eat. I did have some popcorn and bottled water. I also successfully snuck in a gluten-free protein bar which helped me keep my energy up. It was a bit windy out, so the cigarette smoke didn't hover in the air long and didn't bother me as much as I was expecting. I got a little congested, a bit of a sore throat, and had to use a lot of eye drops, but overall, I'd say it was manageable.

Styx came on just before 8:30 I think. Even though this was the sixth time I've seen them in concert, every show has been different. They started with material from the studio album they released last year. Way cool. They work so hard at entertaining the crowd and succeed wonderfully. I've never seen a band that seems to enjoy itself so much performing on stage. I think part of the secret of their renewed success is their two younger members challenge the veteran band members to keep up, heh heh. Tommy Shaw is gorgeous!! They also have enough material to play a different lineup of songs with each tour. Last night, they did a medley of their older but lesser-known material....some of it I'd never heard them do in concert before. They of course did some of their most popular songs with so much energy that the camera guys (who were projecting the show on large screens) had trouble keeping up with them. The best part, though, was when the original bass player came on stage to join them! He has been semi-retired due to health problems, so it was a surprise and a real treat to have not three but FOUR guitarists on stage at once!

When I got home, I put an Icy Hot patch on my lower back, fell into bed early and sleep solidly for ten hours. Now, though, every muscle in my body is screaming at me. Well, like they say, "If you're gonna play, you're gonna pay." I much prefer earned pain over unearned pain, though, so I plan to take it in stride.

Party on!

Pain level: 8
Fatigue level: 7

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Rave of the Day May 26: 

"Cyclorama", the album that Styx released last year. Surprisingly good. Has the familiar keyboard and harmonies that you'd expect from Styx, but the lyrics on most of the songs are pretty fresh, and some are very well-written. No mushy ballads here. It cracks me up to hear Tenacious D singing backup on "Kiss Your Ass Goodbye". And Billy Bob Thornton makes a brief guest appearance on "Bourgeois Pig". Lawrence Gowan is extremely talented, Tommy Shaw still has that fine sweet voice, and James Young adds that welcome sarcasm and edge that always made the band so interesting. Can you tell I'm getting revved up for the concert? Woooo hoooo!

Oh, and if you wanna take a peek, Styx does have an excellent website. Check it out:
Styx World

The good, the bad, the owchie..... 

To start with, Dan has apparently sprained his foot, the same one that he broke and then needed surgery on two years ago. He was carrying a laundry hamper down the stairs and mis-stepped somehow. The doc saw him this afternoon and is pretty sure it isn't broken, but he's getting it x-rayed tomorrow just in case (he's broken two bones without knowing it on two previous occasions). He has a lump on the side of the foot about the size of an egg. He was off work tonight and will be the next two nights as well. Sigh.

I did a really dumb thing yesterday....forgot to take my thyroid meds after I got up. Didn't realize it until bedtime last night. All day long, my muscles got tighter and tighter and more and more painful, and I had no idea why. I'm still fairly sore tonight even though I've taken all my medications today on schedule.

Tomorrow night is the Styx and Peter Frampton concert! It starts at 6:30 and will probably end about 11! My sister is going with me and will do the driving, which will help a little. I'll be smuggling a gluten-free protein bar in with me even though no outside food or beverages are allowed. I have no idea if there will be anything in that place I can eat....at least bottled water is easily available. I will behave (somewhat) and try to take a nap tomorrow afternoon if Dan's x-ray doesn't take too long, and I'll have a substantial but nutritious meal before I leave the house. I also dug the granny hose out of the bottom of my sock drawer and will wear them tomorrow with my Nikes and Gloria Vanderbilt jeans. I'm too funny!

Will report back on how well I survived the experience. This will probably be my last hurrah, concert-wise, so I plan on making it a good one!

P.S. This will be the sixth time I've seen Styx, heh heh.

Pain level: 8
Fatigue level: 9

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Rave of the Day for May 23: 

Speaking of adventure, here's a funny from Ducky about the great outdoors......

Camping Hints

When using a public campground, a tuba placed on your picnic table will keep the campsites on either side vacant.

Get even with a bear who raided your food bag by kicking his favorite stump apart and eating all the ants.

A hot rock placed in your sleeping bag will keep your feet warm. A hot enchilada works almost as well, but the cheese sticks between your toes.

The best backpacks are named for national parks or mountain ranges. Steer clear of those named for landfills.

While the Swiss Army Knife has been popular for years, the Swiss Navy Knife has remained largely unheralded. Its single blade functions as a tiny canoe paddle.

Modern rain suits made of fabrics that "breathe" enable campers to stay dry in a downpour. Rain suits that sneeze, cough, and belch, however, have been proven to add absolutely nothing to the wilderness experience.

Lint from your navel makes a handy fire starter. Warning: Remove lint from navel before applying the match.

You'll never be lost if you remember that moss always grows on the north side of your compass.

You can duplicate the warmth of a down-filled bedroll by climbing into a plastic garbage bag with several geese.

The canoe paddle, a simple device used to propel a boat, should never be confused with a gnu paddle, a similar device used by Tibetan veterinarians.

When camping, always wear a long-sleeved shirt. It gives you something to wipe your nose on.

Take this simple test to see if you qualify for solo camping: Shine a flashlight into one ear. If the beam shines out the other ear, do not go into the woods alone.

A two-man pup tent does not include two men or a pup.

A potato baked in the coals for one hour makes an excellent side dish. A potato baked in the coals for three hours makes an excellent hockey puck.

In emergency situations, you can survive in the wilderness by shooting small game with a slingshot made from the elastic waistband of your underwear.

The guitar of the noisy teenager at the next campsite makes excellent kindling.

The sight of a bald eagle has thrilled campers for generations. The sight of a bald man, however, does absolutely nothing for the eagle.

It's entirely possible to spend your whole vacation on a winding mountain road behind a large motor home.

Bear bells provide an element of safety for hikers in grizzly country. The tricky part is getting them on the bears.

Tidbits and treats..... 

Guess what I had for supper? Poached eggs and WAFFLES! I found frozen gluten-free waffles in my regular grocery store last night! Next time I'll probably try them with syrup. I was so excited at finding the waffles that I forgot to get any syrup. Dan had Mrs. Butterworth's in the pantry, but it had suspicious ingredients. I think my tummy would allow plain maple syrup in small amounts. Tonight was the first time I've had waffles in YEARS! I probably won't get them on a regular basis....I'm trying new gluten-free items as an occasional treat only.

I found gluten-free brownies in the health food store! I'd been whining for days about wanting brownies and stumbled across these on Tuesday. They contain Dutch cocoa and rice flour and are sweetened with cane juice. Not exactly health food, but very tasty.

I'm relaxing a bit on my strict diet because I've finally reached a healthy weight for my height! I've lost 30 pounds since going gluten-free. I wouldn't mind losing 5-10 more so I can fit into a regular size again....I'm between sizes right now, so very little fits.

Looks like I'm gonna break my no-concert vow and go see Styx again! They will be here Wednesday night with Peter Frampton. A co-worker got two comp tix and gave them to me. They're playing at an outdoor ampitheatre, and I've got lawn tix, so I don't think any smoke from the stage would bother me. Now I just have to find someone to go with me. I left a message for my sister, but I think she's out of town this weekend. Never mind that I have no idea where I shall dredge up the energy to go....I must have some adrenaline left in me somewhere!

Got a letter from the vestibular rehab place stating that my insurance will only cover 60 consecutive days of physical therapy of any type. Trouble is, their therapy is supposed to be one day a month for six months! So I could only go twice! Insurance only covers 30 percent of those two visits anyway AFTER a deductible of $300! So I need to decide whether to pay out of my own pocket (ouch) or skip the whole thing. I would like to learn how to live with this business of being sideways. I spend much of the time feeling as though I might fall. I thought the fatigue was the worst thing to sideline me, but the vertigo is spookier. I really hate being tilty.

I do get my 5pm shift back starting Monday. Yay! I like having that extra hour for doc visits and such. Plus parking is a reasonable rate again.

I've agreed to work on Memorial Day. I'm trying to make up some of the income I've lost lately calling in sick so much.

Went on a brief trip with Dan to the mountains today to try out the new digital camera. Shot some of the same scenes as I did with the 35mm camera a few weeks ago. I want to compare the shots to see if there is any difference. I'm diligently reading the owner's manual on the Fuji, but as soon as I think I understand and try to do whatever it is I've just read, I go blank and end up using the derned autofocus. I bought the camera for all its cool features....I wish to heck I could unfog my brain and actually use some of the features.

After we came back into town, we had dinner at Red Lobster. We probably could have chosen some place cheaper, but I'm still not sure what's safe on most restaurant menus. Need to take some time and do more research on some national chains, maybe some mainstream stuff like Applebee's or Chili's. Trouble is, I keep telling myself to just concentrate on cooking my own meals, but then when someone suggests eating out, I have no idea what I can eat. I guess it's better to have the info and not use it than to feel like I have no options.

Popped in to the music store and snagged a CD by New Found Glory, which I'm listening to right now. Some punk, some melodic stuff, pretty decent lyrics. One that intrigues me is "I'd Kill to Fall Asleep". Sounds like the theme song for someone with fibromyalgia, heh heh.

Pain level: 5
Fatigue level: 9

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Rave of the Day for May 20: 

"School of Rock". I watched this on pay-per-view Tuesday night. Yeah, it's a bit cheesy, but I liked it! Wouldn't it be cool if we could have had music CDs as homework assignments when we were kids? And I of course enjoyed Jack Black's enthusiasm and interpretation of the rock and roll tude. Here he was teaching a girl bass player how to snarl, a lead guitarist how to showboat ala Pete Townshend, and a timid singer how to overcome self-image issues. I guess this movie mostly appeals to those of us who secretly always wanted to be a rock star. Present company included.


Got another piece today to the ugly puzzle that is my health. Finally went to a dermatologist to inquire about a red rash I've had on my legs since March. It doesn't itch or hurt or have welts or anything, so I considered it low priority, but it recently began to spread, so I decided it was time to find out what it was.

Turns out that it is a very minor form of vasculitis. Ick. When you look at it up close, you can see that it isn't a continuous rash at all, but a series of small red dots. These dots are called petechia. They are places where I've actually hemmorhaged under the skin....the red color is blood. Ew. The dermatologist told me this is quite common in people with lymphedema, which I have in my feet. He even noted I had swelling in my right leg, which I hadn't noticed before. And it did feel weird when he pressed on it....more burning than pain though.

So it looks like the Sjogren's is indeed progressing. Luckily, this is nothing serious. The doc did tell me to come back right away if I developed any large red or purple patches as this would indicate inflammation of larger blood vessels, which could be a sign of a potentially serious problem.

The dermatologist gave me a topical steroid cream for the rash and told me to elevate my feet. He also suggested I wear knee-high support socks. Yep, the granny hose again! This is the part where I ran around the room with my hands over my ears, screaming "La lalalalalal!" No, I didn't do that. I just wanted to. I had been pretty faithful about wearing the dreaded granny hose until my foot surgery in November. After the surgery, I had to stay off my feet anyway, so I didn't need the hose, and the edema went completely away. It started up again in March, but I've been ignoring it. See what happens when you ignore things? You get icky little blood spots. Rats.

I guess I can add this to the list of things to consider about going on disability. If I were home more, I could elevate my feet more. Just a little piece of the puzzle.

Made a decision.... 

Actually, my body made the decision for me. Last night, as I was sorting my weekly meds and supplements, I suddenly got a violent vertigo attack that sent me flying across the kitchen. It was like an imaginary hand smacked me sideways. I crashed hard into the wall with my right shoulder, which I guess stopped me from falling on the floor.

This is no way to live. I'm going to have to learn to manage this, or I'm going to become a prisoner in my own home, fearing to venture outside in case I should fall. So I took an anti-vertigo medication this morning before going to aquacise. It does help....while I'm not thrilled at the prospect of even more medications long term, I can't really function without them for the time being.

I contacted the physical therapy place this afternoon. They are not covered by my insurance, but I can use the out-of-network benefit and only have to pay one-third of the cost once my deductible is met. I misunderstood earlier (fibrofog?).... I would only have to go there once or twice a month instead of once or twice a week. My first appointment is June 8th.

In the meantime, I will take something every day at work if necessary as I really can't risk falling there.

Oof, the Valium is making me doze off...

Pain level: 5
Fatigue level: 10

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Bonus Rave of the Day for May 18: 

As long as I'm in a thoughtful mode tonight, here's a recent essay by Kurt Vonnegut that should provoke some thought. Even if you don't agree with his views, they are certainly of interest. Thanks to Robert for alerting me to this one....

May 10, 2004

Cold Turkey
By Kurt Vonnegut

Many years ago, I was so innocent I still considered it possible that we could become the humane and reasonable America so many members of my generation used to dream of. We dreamed of such an America during the Great Depression, when there were no jobs. And then we fought and often died for that dream during the Second World War, when there was no peace.

But I know now that there is not a chance in hell of Americaís becoming humane and reasonable. Because power corrupts us, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.
When you get to my age, if you get to my age, which is 81, and if you have reproduced, you will find yourself asking your own children, who are themselves middle-aged, what life is all about. I have seven kids, four of them adopted.

Many of you reading this are probably the same age as my grandchildren. They, like you, are being royally shafted and lied to by our Baby Boomer corporations and government.

I put my big question about life to my biological son Mark. Mark is a pediatrician, and author of a memoir, The Eden Express. It is about his crackup, straightjacket and padded cell stuff, from which he recovered sufficiently to graduate from Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Vonnegut said this to his doddering old dad: "Father, we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is." So I pass that on to you. Write it down, and put it in your computer, so you can forget it.

I have to say that's a pretty good sound bite, almost as good as, ì"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." A lot of people think Jesus said that, because it is so much the sort of thing Jesus liked to say. But it was actually said by Confucius, a Chinese philosopher, 500 years before there was that greatest and most humane of human beings, named Jesus Christ.

The Chinese also gave us, via Marco Polo, pasta and the formula for gunpowder. The Chinese were so dumb they only used gunpowder for fireworks. And everybody was so dumb back then that nobody in either hemisphere even knew that there was another one.

But back to people, like Confucius and Jesus and my son the doctor, Mark, who've said how we could behave more humanely, and maybe make the world a less painful place. One of my favorites is Eugene Debs, from Terre Haute in my native state of Indiana. Get a load of this:

Eugene Debs, who died back in 1926, when I was only 4, ran 5 times as the Socialist Party candidate for president, winning 900,000 votes, 6 percent of the popular vote, in 1912, if you can imagine such a ballot. He had this to say while campaigning:

As long as there is a lower class, I am in it.
As long as there is a criminal element, I'm of it.
As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

Doesn't anything socialistic make you want to throw up? Like great public schools or health insurance for all?

How about Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes?

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
And so on.

Not exactly planks in a Republican platform. Not exactly Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney stuff.

For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that's Moses, not Jesus. I haven't heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere.

"Blessed are the merciful" in a courtroom? "Blessed are the peacemakers" in the Pentagon? Give me a break!
There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don't know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president.

But, when you stop to think about it, only a nut case would want to be a human being, if he or she had a choice. Such treacherous, untrustworthy, lying and greedy animals we are!

I was born a human being in 1922 A.D. What does "A.D." signify? That commemorates an inmate of this lunatic asylum we call Earth who was nailed to a wooden cross by a bunch of other inmates. With him still conscious, they hammered spikes through his wrists and insteps, and into the wood. Then they set the cross upright, so he dangled up there where even the shortest person in the crowd could see him writhing this way and that.

Can you imagine people doing such a thing to a person?

No problem. That's entertainment. Ask the devout Roman Catholic Mel Gibson, who, as an act of piety, has just made a fortune with a movie about how Jesus was tortured. Never mind what Jesus said.

During the reign of King Henry the Eighth, founder of the Church of England, he had a counterfeiter boiled alive in public. Show biz again.

Mel Gibson's next movie should be The Counterfeiter. Box office records will again be broken.

One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.
And what did the great British historian Edward Gibbon, 1737-1794 A.D., have to say about the human record so far? He said, "History is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind."

The same can be said about this morning's edition of the New York Times.

The French-Algerian writer Albert Camus, who won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, wrote, "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide."

So there's another barrel of laughs from literature. Camus died in an automobile accident. His dates? 1913-1960 A.D.

Listen. All great literature is about what a bummer it is to be a human being: Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, The Red Badge of Courage, the Iliad and the Odyssey, Crime and Punishment, the Bible and The Charge of the Light Brigade.

But I have to say this in defense of humankind: No matter in what era in history, including the Garden of Eden, everybody just got there. And, except for the Garden of Eden, there were already all these crazy games going on, which could make you act crazy, even if you weren't crazy to begin with. Some of the games that were already going on when you got here were love and hate, liberalism and conservatism, automobiles and credit cards, golf and girls' basketball.

Even crazier than golf, though, is modern American politics, where, thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative.

Actually, this same sort of thing happened to the people of England generations ago, and Sir William Gilbert, of the radical team of Gilbert and Sullivan, wrote these words for a song about it back then:

I often think it's comical
How nature always does contrive
That every boy and every gal
That's born into the world alive
Is either a little Liberal
Or else a little Conservative.

Which one are you in this country? It's practically a law of life that you have to be one or the other? If you aren't one or the other, you might as well be a doughnut.

If some of you still haven't decided, I'll make it easy for you.

If you want to take my guns away from me, and you're all for murdering fetuses, and love it when homosexuals marry each other, and want to give them kitchen appliances at their showers, and you're for the poor, youíre a liberal.

If you are against those perversions and for the rich, you're a conservative.

What could be simpler?
My government's got a war on drugs. But get this: The two most widely abused and addictive and destructive of all substances are both perfectly legal.

One, of course, is ethyl alcohol. And President George W. Bush, no less, and by his own admission, was smashed or tiddley-poo or four sheets to the wind a good deal of the time from when he was 16 until he was 41. When he was 41, he says, Jesus appeared to him and made him knock off the sauce, stop gargling nose paint.

Other drunks have seen pink elephants.

And do you know why I think he is so pissed off at Arabs? They invented algebra. Arabs also invented the numbers we use, including a symbol for nothing, which nobody else had ever had before. You think Arabs are dumb? Try doing long division with Roman numerals.

We're spreading democracy, are we? Same way European explorers brought Christianity to the Indians, what we now call "Native Americans."

How ungrateful they were! How ungrateful are the people of Baghdad today.

So let's give another big tax cut to the super-rich. That'll teach bin Laden a lesson he wonít soon forget. Hail to the Chief.

That chief and his cohorts have as little to do with Democracy as the Europeans had to do with Christianity. We the people have absolutely no say in whatever they choose to do next. In case you haven't noticed, they've already cleaned out the treasury, passing it out to pals in the war and national security rackets, leaving your generation and the next one with a perfectly enormous debt that youíll be asked to repay.

Nobody let out a peep when they did that to you, because they have disconnected every burglar alarm in the Constitution: The House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, the FBI, the free press (which, having been embedded, has forsaken the First Amendment) and We the People.

About my own history of foreign substance abuse. I've been a coward about heroin and cocaine and LSD and so on, afraid they might put me over the edge. I did smoke a joint of marijuana one time with Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, just to be sociable. It didnít seem to do anything to me, one way or the other, so I never did it again. And by the grace of God, or whatever, I am not an alcoholic, largely a matter of genes. I take a couple of drinks now and then, and will do it again tonight. But two is my limit. No problem.

I am of course notoriously hooked on cigarettes. I keep hoping the things will kill me. A fire at one end and a fool at the other.

But I'll tell you one thing: I once had a high that not even crack cocaine could match. That was when I got my first driver's license! Look out, world, here comes Kurt Vonnegut.

And my car back then, a Studebaker, as I recall, was powered, as are almost all means of transportation and other machinery today, and electric power plants and furnaces, by the most abused and addictive and destructive drugs of all: fossil fuels.

When you got here, even when I got here, the industrialized world was already hopelessly hooked on fossil fuels, and very soon now there won't be any more of those. Cold turkey.

Can I tell you the truth? I mean this isn't like TV news, is it?

Here's what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey.

And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we're hooked on.

Videonystagmography (VNG) 

That's the name of the test I had this morning. After more traditional balance testing such as putting one foot in front of the other and standing on a thick foam cushion (both of which I really had trouble with), they have you wear a heavy mask that measures and records eye movement as you perform tasks that challenge your balance. The eyes and balance are directly related.

The test was difficult for me because my eyes are very dry from Sjogren's, and I blink a lot, which makes it a challenge to record eye movement. They first had me try to focus after shaking my head. Then I held my head still and moved only my eyes, focusing on a light projected on the wall. The light moved around, and I had to follow it with my eyes only. Then it got really weird. They poured water in my ears! First cold, then warm, and when it started to drain out, they had me do distracting things like compute simple math. The right side had very little reaction because I have been deaf in that ear since I was seven years old. The left, though, was a totally different story. I felt as though I was flying around the room, and at one point I feared I would hurl. I did get through the test with my tummy intact, but was extremely disoriented for a good while afterward. Went back to bed after we got home and slept for three and a half hours, which helped.

Got a call with the results about an hour and a half ago. The balance center on the right has been completely destroyed by my childhood illness. I found this interesting because this sort of testing was not available when I was a kid, and it was always just sort of assumed that the damage would be total. The left is also a real problem, but it is difficult to say how much because it can't be properly compared to the right. Because the left ear problem is autoimmune in nature (damage from Sjogren's), I will not likely get either my hearing or my balance back. All I can do is treat the vertigo. This leaves me with a decision to make.

I can either continue as I am with medication or try a form of physical therapy. The problem with the medication is that while it is helping, the vertigo comes right back the next day unless I take more. I don't want to stay on it long term unless it is necessary, even though it is a very low dose and enables me to function very well. The other option is vestibular rehabilitation therapy. It would teach me to live with my situation without medication. The downside is that it is time-consuming and my insurance might not cover it. I've also had physical therapy that seriously aggravated my fibromyalgia, and I now have arthritis from Sjogren's to consider. I think that if I am clear with my situation I might be able to come up with something not too physically taxing.

It's sort of funny....I feel like I am starting all over again with the balance thing. When I lost the hearing on the right side, the docs told my parents I would always have balance trouble and would never be able to ride a bicycle. I believe I compensated very well. But the new trouble with the left ear has me crashing into things and falling backward much worse than when I was a kid. Perhaps the fibromyalgia is aggravating the situation.

Even though I am not surprised one bit by the results of the test, it is still upsetting to have your fears confirmed. Sigh. I am considerably less than thrilled with what my life is becoming.

Pain level: 6
Fatigue level: 7

Rave of the Day for May 18: 

I wonder who thinks this stuff up? Both bizarre and funny, this vignette is brought to you by the same folks who did "The Exorcist" in 30 seconds with bunnies. Thanks to Robert for passing it along...

"The Shining" in 30 seconds with bunnies

Balance test Tuesday morning.... 

I've had to be off some of my medications prior to the test because I guess they want me in full vertigo mode. I've been warned that this test makes some people quite nauseous, so I've asked Dan to accompany me in case I am unable to drive afterward. I am taking Tuesday night off work in case I still feel lousy. It takes very little change to make me quite ill these days.

Right now, minus my sleep meds, antihistamines, anti-vertigo meds and supplements, I feel fairly crummy. I sneezed most of the evening at work, and my sinuses and throat burned. I'm somewhat wobbly, and my left ear is spasming wildly. My pain level is up too....it always wants to join the party. I slept ten hours last night by accident....my alarm clock didn't go off, and I slept right through aquacise. The sleep was very light for the first seven hours, and then I really zonked on the last three.

I think Chip (the world's most spoiled English springer spaniel) knows I'm feeling sick....he's curled up under the desk leaning against my feet. He really does try to make me feel better. I wonder how dogs know when we're not well?

I may get my old work shift back. One of the many bosses tried to change the schedule of two people newer than Dan and I without posting it....that's against union policy, and I found out about it. We're allowed to claim a newer person's hours within 72 hours of a change, and these guys had my old shift, so Dan and I claimed it. Really ticked off management, but they have to allow it. We'll know for sure on Friday if we get to go back to 5pm starts next week. I tried to adjust to the earlier shift, but I found it difficult to get to bed earlier, and even when I did, I found myself sleeping until my old wakeup time anyway. I also didn't like having an hour less for doc appointments and errands before work. And our parking rate went from $60 per month to $120!

Time to see if I can get any shut-eye without Ambien or valerian root.

Pain level: 7
Fatigue level: 8

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Bonus Rave of the Day for May 16: 

Time for some amusement. This one comes from Ducky's Daily Grin. If you've never visited her site, check it out. It's on my Links list on the top right portion of this page....


Don't name a pig you plan to eat.

Country fences need to be horse high, pig tight and bull strong.

Life is not about how fast you run, or how high you climb, but how well you bounce.

Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.

Life is simpler when you plow around the stumps.

Mortgaging a future crop is saddling a wobbly colt.

A bumblebee is faster than a John Deere tractor.

Trouble with a milk cow is she won't stay milked.

Don't skinny dip with snapping turtles.

Words that soak into your ears are whispered, not yelled.

Meanness don't happen overnight.

To know how country folks are doing, look at their barns, not their houses.

Never lay an angry hand on a kid or an animal, it just ain't helpful.

Teachers, bankers, and hoot owls sleep with one eye open.

Forgive your enemies. It messes with their heads.

Don't sell your mule to buy a plow.

Two can live as cheap as one if one don't eat.

Don't corner something meaner than you.

It don't take a very big person to carry a grudge.

Don't go huntin' with a fellow named Chug-A-Lug.

You can't unsay a cruel thing.

Every path has some puddles.

When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.

The best sermons are lived, not preached.

Most of the stuff people worry about happening, don't.

Lazy and Quarrelsome are ugly sisters.

Digital camera.... 

Yep, I finally broke down and bought one. Have promised Dan we would get one since last November. Kept waiting to have enough energy to go out and look at a lot of them in the stores, but that energy never arrived, and Dan's going to see his neice in a few weeks, so I figured we'd better get a camera now to give him time to figure out how it works. I did research them online and via Consumer Reports so I wouldn't have to spend too much time in the store. We looked at four different brands in the camera shop, decided on the model we liked best and bought it at a discount store where it was a bit cheaper. We got one in a medium price range with a few bells and whistles. Funny thing is, I got so excited about buying the camera that I wore myself out, and now I don't have the energy to take it out of the box and read the instructions! I am tooooo silly sometimes.

Am doing without some of my medications for the next few days prior to the inner ear test. Guess this will be a good chance to find out how much the meds actually been helping. Too bad I have to feel like poop to figure that out.

Pain level: 6
Fatigue level: 9

Rave of the Day for May 16: 

In an act of shameless self-promotion, I'm providing the link to my new website. It's about the spiritual side of things, but I think a person of just about any religion could look at it and maybe find it interesting. Some of the pages don't have much on them yet, but I'm adding stuff here and there almost every day. The act of building it has provided a nice distraction from this business of being sick. One page I particularly like is about the role of faith in dealing with chronic illness. Most of the backgrounds are of my own design. Hope someone enjoys it....


Catching up.... 

Have been so exhausted lately that I haven't been keeping this blog up to date. Have had to resort to waiting until the weekend and then trying to remember what it was that I did all week.....

Went to the ENT on Tuesday about the vertigo and ear problems. Had my hearing tested, and it is not my imagination....I actually am losing hearing in my left ear (my right one has been completely deaf since I was 7 years old). The tinnitus is louder than ever. My outer ear looks good, so the ENT thinks the problem involves the inner ear, especially since it is affecting my balance so much. The likely culprit is inflammation caused by Sjgoren's. He said that probably was also causing the nasty spasms in my left ear. He gave me a prescription for some anti-vertigo meds. They do seem to help somewhat, and the good part is that they don't appear to be terribly sedating. I am scheduled for a test on Tuesday of my balance. I think they will intentionally make me dizzy, which I am not looking forward to. I have to discontinue several of my medications for a few days prior to the test, so I know I'm gonna feel like poop. I'm taking a vacation day from work the day of the test so I can recover.

Wednesday was a weird weather day. I got really achy even though it was only raining. I couldn't figure out why until the rain turned into snow, the most huge snowflakes I've evern seen! After the snow turned back into rain, I felt better. By the way, the Vioxx (anti-inflammatory) seems to be a go. It doesn't work quite as well as the Bextra, but it doesn't give me headaches like the Bextra did either.

Thursday was not pleasant. I was feeling fed up with being so sick and trying to push myself through yet another shift at work that seems totally pointless. I wanted nothing more than to go home and pig out on junk food. The night shift ordered from a barbecue place, and I had to sit there smelling that lovely sauce and not being able to have any, which made me even grumpier. And Dan kept saying that he needed a vacation, and all I could think of was being stuck in a permanently sick body and never being able to get away from it. I couldn't even go on a walk during my lunch break because it was 40 degrees outside, and my joints won't tolerate the cold. I guess you could say I was feeling particularly copeless that night.....

Yesterday, we had the entire ventilation system in the house cleaned and sanitized in the hope that Dan, Chip and I would breathe a little easier. I hadn't had it done in five years, and even though we did have it done the year after the house was built, the guys that cleaned it before had not done a good job because the guy yesterday was finding all kinds of construction debris the first guys had missed. I need to keep on a regular cleaning schedule so it doesn't ever get that bad again. I think next week I will look into getting the carpets professionally cleaned. We've never done that in the six years we've lived here (ewwww).

Today started with my local fibromyalgia support group meeting. We celebrated the facilitator's birthday (I skipped the cake and had some cheese and fruit instead) and chatted amongst ourselves for awhile. Then we all took turns telling how we were doing. Some of the topics that came up included some local "cure" scams, what sort of exercise helps and where to find a good disability lawyer.

Then tonight, I went to the comedy club with Dan, my sister and my cousin. There were four comics in the lineup. Three were local, which of course gives them plenty of material. One called himself "Hippie Man" and did a hippie superhero act that had us practically rolling on the floor. The headliner was someone I didn't know named Eddie Gossling. I liked one of the bits he did about what would happen if someone who had flunked math in school went to work for NASA.

After the show (we'd gone to the early non-smoking one), we decided to get some supper at an Asian place a few blocks away called PF Chang's. I'd never been there before. I was having trouble figuring out what I could and couldn't eat and mentioned this to the waitress. She said they had a special gluten-free menu! Does that kick ass or what? They even cook it separately from the food that has wheat in it. I ordered the ginger chicken and steamed broccoli with brown rice. It was such a relief to know what I was eating was safe. I'm going there again.

By the time we headed back to the car, I could hardly walk because I'd spent too much time sitting in uncomfortable chairs. I've also got a raging headache as well as the tireds and the dizzies. It was worth it though. I'd rather endure it as a result of having fun than suffer because of working too hard. I have priorities after all, ha ha.

Pain level: 7
Fatigue level: 9

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Rave of the Day for May 11: 

And now for something completely different... got this in an e-mail from Debbie in Kansas today.
Stay with it; don't give up too soon on this one.

Subject: Guide To A Cordial Political :)
Date: Thu, 6 May 2004 23:15:20 -0500
A Frank Guide To A Cordial Political Discussion By Frank J.

Most often people will disagree on issues of the day, but just because someone doesn't think like you doesn't mean you should call him evil and kill him. That's what Islamic extremists and the majority of posters at Democratic Underground would do. Instead, following these steps you can have a nice discussion with someone with different viewpoints and both come out of it smarter.

DO consider the merits of viewpoints different to your own.
DON'T throw out your own principles just to be agreeable. No one gains from that.

DO listen carefully to what the other person is saying. Try to understand their different viewpoint.
DON'T use the time while the other person is speaking as just an opportunity to formulate your own rebuttal.

DO try to find areas of agreement no matter how much you differ on an issue.
DON'T compare the other person's views to Hitler. Hitler was a bad man, and no one likes being compared to him.

DO keep on topic. You're more likely to learn from each other if you keep the talk focused.
DON'T kick the other person in the groin when he strays. He might forget what you were talking about in the first place.

DO make all disagreements in a friendly tone.
DON'T follow all disagreements with putting the other person's head through drywall. That gives who you're talking to no time to consider what you said. Also, it's hard to repair the drywall and paint over it perfectly to cover up the hole.

DO agree to disagree when reaching a stopping point.
DON'T declare an infantada and blow yourself and the other person up so you can get 72 virgins. You both lose if you do that, and you should focus on finding one nice girl (or guy) in this world.

DO stick to your principles while still considering what the other person says.
DON'T pile drive the other person into a folding table when you find a topic you vehemently disagree on. Though it would be cool, it's just not civil.

DO back up your statement with facts when necessary.
DON'T punch the other person through the chest, pull out his heart, and show it to him before he dies when you feel run into a corner. That's usually a non-sequitur to the debate... unless the debate is whether you can actually pull someone's heart out and show it to him before he dies.

DO make sure not to get caught up arguing minutia.
DON'T burn the other person's house down over a small disagreement on a fact. Yes, insurance will probably cover it, but he'll be less likely to listen to what else you say.

DO make sure to not raise your tone of voice no matter how heated things get.
DON'T silently lower the other person with a slow dipping device into a pit full of ravenous monkeys until he admits you're right. Getting the other person to agree with you through other means that intelligent discussion gains nothing for either party.

DO be willing to admit you're wrong if the other person is convincing. Admitting you're wrong can seem painful, but, when you do it, you suddenly become right.
DON'T commit seppuku if you discover you're wrong on an issue. There are other ways to bring honor to your family.

Follow these rules and you should have some nice, friendly, intelligent discussions. Hooray!

16 hours of sleep today! 

Woke up this morning with vertigo before I even got out of bed, which was a new thing. Usually I don't get the dizzies until I've been up for awhile. So I skipped my aquacise class...I didn't dare get up and try to drive feeling this way.

Finally ever so cautiously crawled out of bed at 1pm after ten hours of sleep. The nausea was awful. I called in sick to work and rummaged around the medicine cabinet for the Phenergan the gastro doc had prescribed a few months ago. I had never tried any because she said it could be sedating. Today I was desperate, though, so I took a 25 mg pill. It took awhile to kick in, but when it did, it packed a whallop! Ack! I crawled back to bed feeling like I was slipping into a coma or something. Someone called right then....I answered the phone, but after a few minutes was feeling so drugged that I could not continue the conversation, so I promised to call back.

I got two more phone calls, but was so out of it that I didn't even know where the phone was. I kept trying to get up to go pee, but would fall asleep again before I ever got out of bed. Next thing I knew, it was 9pm, and I had slept 16 hours total!

I have to admit when I finally did get up, I felt pretty good. I made something to eat and took a shower. I was just starting to think I had beaten this vertigo and fatigue stuff when they both came back about midnight. Rats.

I see the ENT tomorrow (Tuesday). I hope that he can figure out what's giving me the dizzies and that it's something fixable.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Rave of the Day for May 10: 

Classic blonde one-liners, courtesy of Ducky:

She's Soooooooo Blonde ...

* She thought a quarterback was a refund.

* She thought General Motors was in the army.

* She thought Meow Mix was a CD for cats.

* She thought Boyz II Men was a day care center.

* At the bottom of an application where it says "Sign here:" she wrote "Sagittarius."

* She took the ruler to bed to see how long she slept.

* She sent a fax with a stamp on it.

* Under "education" on her job application, she put "Hooked On Phonics."

* She tripped over a cordless phone.

* She spent 20 minutes looking at the orange juice can because it said "Concentrate."

* She told me to meet her at the corner of "WALK" and "DON'T WALK."

* She tried to put M&M's in alphabetical order.

* She studied for a blood test.

* She sold the car for gas money.

* When she missed bus #44 she took bus #22 twice instead.

* When she went to the airport and saw a sign that said, "Airport Left," she turned around and went home.

* When she heard that 90percent of all crimes occur around the home, she moved.

* She thought if she spoke her mind, she'd be speechless.

* She thought that she could not use her AM radio in the evening.

* She had a shirt that said "TGIF," which she thought stood for "This Goes In Front."

* She thinks Taco Bell is the Mexican phone company.

An adventurous day in the life.... 

Got up yesterday not feeling quite as crummy as I have been the past few months. Went to the cemetery with some silk roses. Had wanted to bring fresh ones, but I didn't have the energy on Saturday to go looking for a florist, and both of the places I used to go to have closed now. The weather was quite warm with thunderstorms threatening but only a light breeze. Had my usual Mother's Day "visit" with Mom and wrote a poem after. I hadn't written anything since January....my poor exhausted foggy brain has to fight harder than ever to come up with anything.

After I left the cemetery, I wanted to make my usual trek to my mom's favorite Wendy's. Trouble is, I started that gluten-free diet in November and wasn't sure what I could eat there. Stared at the menu for awhile and decided to try a bowl of chili and a baked potato. The chili was surprisingly good! I think I have at last found a reliable fast food option.

I had wanted to go spend sometime at the local casinos like I usually do on Mother's Day, but I go soooo sick last year there due to the cigarette smoke that it just didn't seem like a good idea. I don't really have the energy to drive that far right now anyway. I did want to get away from town for awhile, though, so I took my camera with half a roll of film still left in it and drove toward the mountains. There is this awesome view from the easternmost edge of the mountains that I had always wanted to photograph, so I got off the nearest exit from that spot and went down a dirt road. I parked in a sealed-off driveway and walked a bit to where the view was best, being careful to stay on the road and not go too far in case I got a sudden attack of fatigue or vertigo. As I headed back, a huge bird flew over the road in front of me and landed in a nearby tree. At first I thought it was a hawk, but as I got closer, I saw that it had a tiny head and a long curved beak.....not hawk-like at all. Weird.

Then I drove to a spot that is supposed to have a good vantage point of a resident buffalo herd, but I didn't see any buffalo. I did take some pix of the view, though, when the rain died down. As I was heading back to my car, a van pulled up and several Asian men in orange robes got out. I smiled when I saw that they all had digital cameras. As I pulled back on the road, one of the men was using a camcorder to film the others in front of the beautiful mountain vew.

I was getting fatigued by then, but not too bad, so I decided to take a drive up a mountain that has great views of the city. I realized I hadn't been there in probably eight years. When I got to the first decent turnoff, I parked and took out the camera. I was standing on some rocks when suddenly the derned vertigo hit me and the sledgehammer of fatigue gave me a good wallop, so I quickly finished up the roll and headed back down the mountain. I was disappointed that I was missing all the scenery further up, but I knew better than to push the issue since I was a good 45 miles from home with no one else to drive. I really want to go back, and soon while everything's still green and the flowers are beginnning to blossom. Maybe I can talk Dan into going with me so I can have more energy for exploring. Steering on the hairpin turns hurts my hands as it is.

Just typing about my adventures is wearing me out. Of course, it could be that phenergan tablet I took to counteract the nausea from today's dizzy spell.....

Pain level: 5
Fatigue level: 9

Friday, May 07, 2004

Rave of the Day for May 7: 

Funnies about the feline side of life, courtesy of Ducky....

Signs Your Cat has a Personality Disorder

Couldn't muster up sufficient disdain if all nine lives depended on it!

You've repeatedly found him in the closed garage, hunched over the wheel of your running Buick.

Sits for hours in fascination while listening to Bob Dole.

Teeth and claw marks all over your now-empty bottles of Prozac.

No longer licks paws clean, but washes them at the sink again and again and again...

Continually scratches on the door to get in... the OVEN door.

Doesn't get Garfield, but laughs like hell at Marmaduke.

Rides in your car with its head out the window.

She's a dues-paid, card-carrying member of the Reform Party.

You realize one day that the urine stains on the carpet actually form the letters N-E-E-D T-H-E-R-A-P-Y.

Has built a shrine to Andrew Lloyd Webber entirely out of empty "9 Lives" cans.

Spends all day in litterbox separating the green chlorophyll granules from the plain white ones.

After years of NPR, Tabby is suddenly a Ditto-Puss.

Sullen and overweight, your sunglass-wearing cat shoots the TV with a .45 Magnum when it sees cartoon depictions of stupid or lazy felines.

Your stereo is missing, and in the corner you find a pawn ticket and 2 kilos of catnip.

Makes an attempt on "First Cat" Sock's life in a pathetic attempt to impress Jodie Foster.


Signs Your Cat is in With The Wrong Crowd

One day, without your permission, he gets his ears pierced.

Your credit card is overcharged, mainly for 9-Lives cat food.

You find, attached to the refrigerator, a note that reads: "Leave a steak on the front porch at midnight, or you'll never see Spot again."

Too many times a week your cat comes home after one in the morning, totally plastered and with a strong odor of catnip about him.

You come home to catch him in the act of raiding your liquor cabinet.

Several hundred dollars' worth of phone calls appear on your phone bill to 1-900-PUSSYCAT-MEOW.

You find out that the lifetime's supply of cat food wasn't a prize from "Kitten's Life" magazine, but that your cat has been selling catnip in the neighbourhood.

After failing to get your attention with constant meows and by rubbing up against your leg, your cat pulls out his Magnum-44 and aims it at you, demanding "Friskies" and catnip.

Need bubble wrap.... 

My episodes of vertigo are getting worse. I've gotten them at work, during aquacise, at home doing stretches, even in the grocery store today. I've been leaning against stationary objects when I'm standing still and running my hand against the wall when walking indoors so I don't stagger like I'm drunk. A few times at work, I've stood up too fast and have fallen right back into my chair. I've already acquired a few bruises from my human pinball act.

I have an appointment with the ENT on Tuesday as I really think it has something to do with the odd spasms I'm having in my left ear. I'm guessing the Sjogren's is causing some sort of inflammation in the ear.

Also, like a tard, I overslept today and rushed out the door to go to work, forgetting to take my Vioxx. Naturally I paid for that mistake. All my joints stiffened up, especially while at my workstation under the ice cold a/c vent. I don't know why they have to keep my work area like a meat locker.

Speaking of work, I'm attempting to adjust to my new 4pm-midnight schedule and the new page size for one of the newspapers. I don't mind getting an extra hour of sleep before aquacise, but it's not quite helping as much as I had hoped. I still fell asleep at work two nights out of four. I honestly don't know how I keep going as I ran out of fumes long ago.

Tomorrow, I am going to have my first try at exercising on my new Gazelle machine. I'm mainly just going to view the video and then do a few minutes to try to get comfortable with it. I consulted a walking schedule from an issue of "Arthritis Today" magazine and converted the times and paces into a program for the Gazelle. I'll still be doing the acquacise as my main form of exercise with the machine as a supplement.

So much more I'd like to type, but it's bedtime already, and my hands are killing me.

Pain level: 8
Fatigue level: 8

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Rave of the Day for May 1: 

This is an oldie but a goodie. I find it especially amusing because I'm one of those snobbish Mac owners, heh heh.....

If Microsoft made Cars

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.
2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.
3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull over to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.
4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.
5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive, but would run on only five percent of the roads.
6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single "This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation" warning light.
7. The airbag system would ask "Are you sure?" before deploying.
8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.
9. Every time a new car was introduced, car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again, because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.
10. Oh yeah, and last but not least . . . you'd have to press the "Start" button to turn the engine off!

End of the road... 

The fatigue is crushing me. I cannot get out from under it. Until about six months ago, I always had something to blame the fatigue on, like not enough sleep, too much activity, etc. And even if I woke up exhausted, I could usually shake it off somewhat during the course of the day. But now it is my constant companion, even if I have gotten ten hours of good sleep and haven't overextended myself in any way. I'll get up, take my morning meds, disassemble the humidifier, and by the time I head downstairs, I'm already starting to tire again. Just cooking a meal exhausts me, but so does eating out. You know it's bad when you're too tired to brush your teeth.

This is particularly frustrating because I've gotten nearly every other aspect of my illness fairly under control. I was so close to being functional. I've managed to get my pain level down to a very respectable 5 out of 10 on most days without pain meds. I was so sure that when my pain level went down, the fatigue would lessen after a few weeks. That is how it used to work for me. I was so looking forward to being able to do a bit more with less pain, but it isn't working out that way at all. I've conquered celiac, I've conquered the dry eyes and dry mouth of Sjogren's, I've conquered trigger points, I've conquered allergies, I've conquered hypothyroidism, I've conquered adenomyosis. But the fatigue is managing me, not the other way around.

I'm averaging a day a week off sick from work. That's not good when I'm only supposed to take four days a year. I have a very easy job, only 36 hours a week, not too much sitting, standing, walking or typing at any one time. What's ironic is that it isn't the job that's stressing me out so much as the monumental effort it takes just to show up. Part time is not an option at this particular place of employment. It wouldn't help anyway. When I call in sick because I can't get out of bed, I do not feel much better for having stayed in bed. The only reason I get up the next day and return to work is because I'm afraid I'll be discliplined for calling in two days in a row. I did take three weeks off in December, and did feel better for it....for one week after my return. After that, I was back to ground zero. So this is not something I can fix with a vacation. In fact, vacations in their own right are somewhat exhausting....if I travel, I have to rest before and after.

Went to the rheumatologsit yesterday and brought my usual list of symptoms and questions. I tried to keep it abbreviated, but it still filled an entire typewritten page. We did agree to a few things....I'm going to try Vioxx in place of the Bextra (for arthritis caused by Sjogren's) to see if the headaches diminish. Also, I'm going to go back to the ENT to see if my new vertigo attacks are related to the increase in tinnitus (another Sjogren's problem). But as for the fatigue, the rheumatologist could not help me at all. I'm not angry with him....I've read up on the subject and know there are almost no established remedies for Sjogren's fatigue. All he could do was listen to me telling him how many activities I've given up for the sake of saving up every precious drop of energy to get through another work day.

I did ask the rheumy if I could be in a flare....he said in the four years I've been his patient, I've never had a flare, which is true. Instead, since I got sick seven years ago, I've had a slow but progressive decline overall. I've kept up with each new symptom as well as I could, but it's a bit like a bandaid on a hemmorhage at times. The rheumy's opinion is that I have a progressive case of Sjogren's and that it is unlikely that I will wake up tomorrow and find the fatigue gone. I know in my heart he is right.

Basically, I have two choices....go back on steroids, or go on disability. Even though I want like hell to keep working, I think prednisone is not worth trashing my immune system again, so I declined it for now. If I were to take the steroids and feel energized enough to work long-term, there would always be a risk of me catching a co-worker's cold, which in a person with a compromised immune system could result in bronchitis or even pneumonia. And guess what they use to treat pneumonia? Prednisone!

On the other hand, I'm not ready to quit yet. I feel as though if I go on leave because of fatigue, I'm letting the disease win. If it were something serious like lymphoma or organ damage, I'd of course take leave right away. But is disability insurance going to take being tired as a valid claim? I'm only 40 years old with 15 years left on the mortgage. Selling the house would not necessarily be wise because rent here is just as high if not higher than a mortgage. In either case, we cannot get by on Dan's income alone, not with my medical bills. So right now, I've not made a decision. I'm going to hold out for a miracle just a little while longer. I see the rheumy again July 1st. If my situation is no better by then I may ask him to authorize me for FMLA. Sigh.

Pain level: 4
Fatigue level: 9

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