Thursday, March 31, 2005

Sleep-related injury?? 

This is almost too weird to be believed. You know how people will sometimes wake up with a stiff neck and say, "I must have slept on it wrong"? Well, I did that with my left hip.

Woke up yesterday morning lying on my left side with a horrible pain in my hip. All I can figure is that either I had a violent twitch in my sleep that caused me to kick my whole leg, or that I had my leg twisted at an odd angle and slept on it that way. I was probably on it for quite some time because I am rarely able to roll over in my sleep....I have to wake up at least partially and then roll over.

I tried tennis ball massage on the hip before I went to aquacise. I did careful stretching of it in the class, but it just did not respond. Here I am a full day later, and it is not much better.

The next step I guess is muscle relaxants and moist heat. I think it will probably fade away as I continue my normal activity level. Still, how many people injure themselves in their sleep?!?

Had an incident in aquacise yesterday: a worse than usual episode of dizziness (I have frequent vertigo), and this was accompanied by disorientation and sweating. I've had two prior episodes in the past week: one caused me to veer into a wall. The other caused me to fall at my dad's house (luckily I fell onto a couch, but not before jamming my finger).

The class instructor told me to check my glucose levels to see if they were too low. They were normal. Tomorrow when I work out, I will test before and after just to make sure there's no problem.

If this happens again, I will call the primary care doc's office. I'm pretty sure it's just an escalation of my Sjogren's symptoms or the fibromyalgia, but these days, I've just got too many symptoms to sort out. It's getting frustrating.

Went to another diabetes class this afternoon. Things are starting to make more sense now. I have two classes next week, and then there will be one more to schedule after that.

I have promised myself I will not leave the house tomorrow or the next day. I want to rest as much as possible before my return to work on Monday. I might have a friend over to watch a movie, though.

So, while I am frustrated with my body right now, I am trying to keep my spirits up. Dan found a job opening in a neighboring town, and I told him to go for it. If he can find something with comparable pay, I would be willing to move where it's a little cheaper (at least I hope it's cheaper) so it would be less scary if I had to apply for disability.

Pain level: 8
Fatigue level: 7

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Helped make a difference.... 

I'm a letter writer (or e-mail these days). I've written to my elected officials asking for greater funding for fibromyalgia research, and I've written to various talk shows asking them to do shows about chronic illness to increase awareness. Usually, there is no reply.

Last October, I went to Hawaii on vacation. The plane flight was almost eight hours, and I asked the airline to provide a gluten free meal. I found out that they had discontinued this option, which meant I was going to have to bring my own food.

I e-mailed the airline asking them to reconsider. I even gave them ideas on simple changes to their meals that would make them safe for a person with celiac disease or wheat allergy. They would not budge.

Then, last week, to my surprise, I got a letter in the mail from the director of customer relations for the airline. Here's most of what it said:

"I understand that you had previously contacted us to express your concern regarding United's decision to discontinue gluten-free meal service on our flights. As the result of the feedback provided by you and our other valued customers, I'm very pleased to advise you that as of January 6, 2005, we have reinstated gluten-free special meals on our flights. As with any business, we consider our customers' preferences and feedback in addition to our competitiveness before making changes. Because of your good comments, we were able to review and revise our policy.

"Gluten-free meal service is offered on specific flights and may vary based on class of service.....

"Thank you for telling us how we can be a better airline for you. We appreciate your contribution to this policy change and look forward to continuing to serve you on United Airlines....."

I guess the moral of the story is to not give up. Keep writing for the services, research or public awareness you need. You never know when someone will respond.

Rave of the Day for March 29: 

These are just too funny to be made up! Thanks to Joan for sending this...


help desk: What kind of computer do you have?
Female customer: A white one...
Hi, this is Celine. I can't get my diskette out.
help desk: Have you tried pushing the button?
Customer: Yes, sure, it's really stuck.
help desk: That doesn't sound good; I'll make a note ..."
Customer: No .. wait a minute... I hadn't inserted it yet... it's still on my desk... sorry .
help desk: Click on the 'my computer' icon on to the left of the screen.
Customer: Your left or my left?
help desk: Good day. How may I help you?
Male customer: Hello... I can't print.
help desk: Would you click on start for me and .
Customer: Listen pal; don't start getting technical on me! I'm not Bill Gates damn it!
Hi good afternoon, this is Martha, I can't print. Every time I try it says 'Can't find printer'. I've even lifted the printer and placed it in front of the monitor, but the computer still says he can't find it...
Customer: I have problems printing in red...
help desk: Do you have a color printer?
Customer: Aaaah....................thank you.
help desk: What's on your monitor now ma'am?
Customer: A teddy bear my boyfriend bought for me in the supermarket.
help desk: And now hit F8.
Customer: It's not working.
help desk: What did you do, exactly?
Customer: I hit the F-key 8-times as you told me, but nothing's happening...
Customer: My keyboard is not working anymore.
help desk: Are you sure it's plugged into the computer?
Customer: No. I can't get behind the computer.
help desk: Pick up your keyboard and walk 10 paces back.
Customer: OK
help desk: Did the keyboard come with you?
Customer: Yes
help desk: That means the keyboard is not plugged in. Is there another keyboard?
Customer: Yes, there's another one here. Ah...that one does work!
help desk: Your password is the small letter a as in apple, a capital letter V as in Victor, the number 7.
Customer: Is that 7 in capital letters?
A customer couldn't get on the internet.
help desk: Are you sure you used the right password?
Customer: Yes I'm sure. I saw my colleague do it.
help desk: Can you tell me what the password was?
Customer: Five stars.
help desk: What antivirus program do you use?
Customer: Netscape.
help desk: That's not an antivirus program.
Customer: Oh, sorry...Internet Explorer.
Customer: I have a huge problem. A friend has placed a screensaver on my computer, but every time I move the mouse, it disappears!
help desk: Microsoft Tech. Support, may I help you?
Old woman: Good afternoon! I have waited over 4 hours for you. Can you please tell me how long it will take before you can help me?
help desk: Uhh..? Pardon, I don't understand your problem?
Old woman: I was working in Word and clicked the help button more than 4 hours ago. Can you tell me when you will finally be helping me?
help desk: How may I help you?
Customer: I'm writing my first e-mail.
help desk: OK, and, what seems to be the problem?
Customer: Well, I have the letter 'a' in the address, but how do I get the circle around it?

Testy testing..... 

Ok, I have taught myself to use a glucose meter. Took several tries because I simply do not bleed easily, even when I use the medium lancet setting and test on the sides of my ring and middle fingers where where are no callouses. No wonder medical staff have such a difficult time drawing my blood for lab work.

And even though many people with diabetes told me that the testing wouldn't hurt, I have to disagree. I found it hurt quite a bit, but I'm sure the fibromyalgia is the reason for that. I guess it's just something I'll have to get used to.

The good news is that my glucose levels are excellent! I'm testing both right before and then an hour to two hours after a meal, and the number is only going up an average of 20 points so far. I will try this for awhile with different types of meals so I can get an idea if I've got any problem foods.

So I can relax a bit knowing the meds and diet are working. I should probably check sometime after a workout to see if I have problems with the glucose dipping too low after exertion. And I might check my numbers at work when I go back.

I am scheduled to return to my job on Monday. I'm going back whether I feel better or not because a whole new system is being installed and I'm missing out on training for the new procedures. If I stay out much longer, my entire job will be different when I come back.

I finally got through to my sleep specialist after three weeks of leaving messages. She wants to see me in person to review my meds for the periodic limb movement disorder since nothing we've tried has helped. The earliest appointment I could get was April 14.

I'm still hoping we'll find a med that gets rid of my night-time twitches so I can get some real sleep. If that happens, it's still possible that I could start feeling good enough to keep working indefinitely. If not, I'll probably have to go on permanent leave at some point.

Finally filled out all the info to get a medic alert bracelet. It will be engraved in purple.

Too tired to add any more.

Pain level: 7
Fatigue level: 9

Monday, March 28, 2005

Bonus Rave of the Day for March 27: 

Thought I'd sneak in a few religious grins. Thanks to Joan for this one and the Rave below this one.....

A new robe...

Jesus was wandering around Jerusalem when He decided that He really needed a new robe.

After looking around for a while, He saw a sign for Finkelstein, the Tailor.

So, He went in and made the necessary arrangements to have Finkelstein prepare a new robe for Him. A few days later, when the robe was finished, Jesus tried it on and it was a perfect fit!

He asked how much He owed. Finkelstein brushed him off: "No, no, no, for the Son of God? There's no charge! However, may I ask for a small favor?

Whenever you give a sermon, perhaps you could just mention that your nice new robe was made by Finkelstein, the Tailor?"

Jesus readily agreed and as promised, extolled the virtues of His Finkelstein robe whenever He spoke to the masses.

A few months later, while Jesus was again walking through Jerusalem, He happened to walk past Finkelstein's shop and noted a huge line of people waiting for Finkelstein's robes.

He pushed his way through the crowd to speak to him and as soon as Finkelstein spotted Him he said: "Jesus, Jesus, look what you've done for my business! Would you consider a partnership?"

"Certainly," replied Jesus. "Jesus & Finkelstein it is."

"Oh, no, no," said Finkelstein. "Finkelstein & Jesus. After all, I am the craftsman."

The two of them debated this for some time.

Their discussion was long and spirited, but ultimately fruitful and they finally came up with a mutually acceptable compromise.

A few days later, the new sign went up over Finkelstein's shop:
Lord & Taylor

Rave of the Day for March 27: 


Attending a wedding for the first time, a little girl whispered to her mother, "Why is the bride dressed in white?" "Because white is the color of happiness, and today is the happiest day of her life."
The child thought about this for a moment, then said, "So why is the groom wearing black?"


A little girl, dressed in her Sunday best, was running as fast as she could, trying not to be late for Bible class. As she ran she prayed, "Dear Lord, please don't let me be late! Dear Lord, please don't let me be late!" While she was running and praying, she tripped on a curb and fell, getting her clothes dirty and tearing her dress. She got up, brushed herself off, and started running again. As she ran she once again began to pray, "Dear Lord, please don't let me be late...But please don't shove
me either!"


Three boys are in the schoolyard bragging about their fathers. The first boy says, "My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a poem, they give him $50."

The second boy says, "That's nothing. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a song, they give him $100."

The third boy says, "I got you both beat. My Dad scribbles a few words on a piece of paper, he calls it a sermon. And it takes eight people to collect all the money!"


An elderly woman died last month. Having never married, she requested no male pallbearers. In her handwritten instructions for her memorial service, she wrote, "They wouldn't take me out while I was alive, I don't want them to take me out when I'm dead."


A police recruit was asked during the exam, "What would you do if you had to arrest your own mother?" He said, "Call for backup."


A Sunday School teacher asked her class why Joseph and Mary took Jesus with them to Jerusalem. A small child replied: "They couldn't get a baby sitter."


A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to "honor thy father and thy mother," she asked "Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?" Without missing a beat one little boy answered, "Thou shall not kill."


At Sunday School they were teaching how God created everything, including human beings. Little Johnny seemed especially intent when they told him how Eve was created out of one of Adam's ribs. Later in the week his mother noticed him lying down as though he were ill, and said, "Johnny, what is the matter?" Little Johnny responded, "I have pain in my side. I think I'm going to have a wife."


Two boys were walking home from Sunday school after hearing a strong preaching on the devil. One said to the other, "What do you think about all this Satan stuff?" The other boy replied, "Well, you know how Santa Claus turned out. It's probably just your dad."

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Hopping in for a bit.... 

.....feels like I've been away for quite awhile.

Called the disability insurance company since they have not approved my absence beyond March 13. My case is still being "reviewed". Said I had to have a doc fill out a functional capacity form even though I'm due to go back in only one more week. What a bunch of crap. So I dropped the form off at the rheumatologist's on Thursday, and they faxed it to the insurance company Friday. Then next week he'll be on vacation and won't return until April 4, the day I'm supposed to go back to work. I can't start my shift without the paperwork in the hands of the human resources company, so this should be interesting.

Got a call from the endocrinologist's office Thursday morning. Seems the doc had to call in sick. I agreed to see her assistant. The assistant was nice enough, but told me I was over-thinking this when I tried to tell her how much trouble I was having figuring out the dietary adjustments for diabetes. I told her I was eating more protein than recommended and she said this was ok as long as I was watching the fat content. So I am going to to back to my regular diet, see how my glucose levels are, and tweak things as necessary. She gave me a glucose monitor. I haven't opened the box yet.....I want to see if my insurance covers that brand of test strips first.

I'm still scared to death to poke myself, even if it doesn't hurt. It's the idea of piercing my skin with a sharp instrument....ack! I won't even go to an acupuncturist even though I'm told that doesn't hurt either. There's a reason I only have one hole in each ear lobe for earrings....it hurt so much the first time that I simply can't bring myself to do it again, even though I like the look. But I will figure out how to use a glucose meter this week.

My appointment with the psychologist was three hours after the end of the endocrinologist visit, but I didn't feel like driving all the way home and then coming back out to the same part of town, so I went to a nearby book store to kill time. I was feeling even more exhausted than usual, but all the handicapped spots were taken, so I had to park further away. I was heading toward the store when my right knee buckled and I almost fell. That has never happened before; I hope it was just a fluke. I also got very weak suddenly while I was in the store. I have never actually passed out when I have gotten like this, but I certainly feel as though I could.

The psychologist was nice. She's new in town. She said I really seem to have my act together mentally, so she's not sure what more there is to be accomplished, but I want to have documentation of my mental state other than that neuropsyche exam I had in October which attibuted my physical problems to somatoform disorder. I don't want some shrink paid by Social Security to spend five minutes with me and dismiss my disability claim with a wave of his hand.

Thursday evening and all of Friday I tried to lay low and make the house look respectable before Dan came home from Florida. I managed to finally finish cleaning the living room, clean the dining room and half the kitchen. I also did all the laundry, including towels, blankets and throw rugs.

Yesterday morning, I got a call at 4am from Dan. Seems his flight had been delayed by two hours. By the time it was all said and done, the plane that was supposed to come in 9:30 our time arrived just before noon! After we got in the house, we put together a grocery list and went to the store. I was grateful to have Dan to push the cart and keep me going. After that, Dan took a nap on the couch while I made peanut butter cookies. I tried using Splenda in place of half the sugar.

We went over to my dad's at 5pm. We had beef for dinner, so I had a good opportunity to really test out my newly filled teeth, which held up pretty well in spite of my jaw STILL being sore from Tuesday. After we ate, we played double board Monopoly. I don't play very well anymore because I tire so fast and have trouble thinking clearly, but I still have fun. It was one heck of a long game, though. After I lost, I sat and put my feet up and read for awhile. Dan conceded after midnight, and the game was still going when we left. We went to bed right after we got home.

We were awakened about 6am today by something that sounded like a jackhammer. It had stopped by the time Dan got up to see what it was, but it had awakened me sufficiently so that I couldn't get back to sleep. I dozed very lightly, waking up every 20 minutes or so, from about 7 to 10:30 or so. I had a fever and an upset stomach too, so I really wasn't in great shape for a family Easter gathering at my aunt's, but, true to form, I went anyway. My aunt hid 87 eggs in her back yard for my cousins' kids to find, but I don't think we ever found them all, which could come back to haunt her in a few weeks. Ewww. We had a very nice ham dinner with yams and steamed asparagus. I brought the peanut butter cookies I'd made; they tasted essentially the same with the Splenda in them as they did with the regular sugar, so I think I'll make them again.

Right now, I'm just about too wiped out to move, and I'm doubting the sanity of me returning to work a week from tomorrow. But I'm tired of fighting with the disability insurance company, tired of waiting for a proper treatment for the periodic limb movement disorder, tired of missing all the software training at work and falling further and further behind. So I'm going to rest as much as I can for the next week, work on some photo stuff at home, and hope that I will miraculously start feeling better. This is going to be my last attempt, though. If I end up going back on leave again, I'm going to file with Social Security.

That's all the news that's fit to print from me. Hippity, hoppity, Easter's on its way.....out.

Pain level: 7
Fatigue level: 9

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Before I forget: my radish poem 

Several weeks ago, sol in her journal asked her readers to write a poem about radishes, with extra points for mention of turnips and field mice. I'm horribly out of practice, not having written any poetry in nearly a year, but I finally came up with something. Here goes:


Too weary
To shake my fist angrily at the sky,
I mutter my protests,
Knowing they change nothing.
My fate is a bitter radish
Which I must choke down with a smile.
How ironic to reside on a barren plantation
And have to compete with aggressive field mice
For a single withered turnip.
But there is no one else to do it.
All the mighty men have been felled.
I must not match
The unspoken fear in the eyes of the weak
Nor succumb to their paralyzing contagion.
For red earth flows through my veins,
And as long as I am upright,
I will find a way to blossom,
No matter how slowed my shuffle.


Getting help.... 

Finally decided it was time to make an appointment with a clinical psychologist. I feel better than I did over the weekend, but I'm still overwhelmed with trying to cope with all these ailments. And if I end up filing for permanent disability, I know I will need counseling anyway.

Had a hard time finding someone....most of the referral resources have only names of psychiatrists, and I want good old fashioned talk therapy, not more meds. When I did locate a psychology referral service, I asked to be sent to someone who specializes in chronic illness. Thank goodness they not only found someone, it was someone with a cancellation, so I'm going tomorrow afternoon.

Yesterday's dental visit was worse than I expected. It was only supposed to be one filling, but the dentist discovered a newly cracked tooth right next to the one she was going to work on, so she decided it would be best to do that one also. That tooth had been fine during my checkup a month ago.

I had problems getting numb. I ended up requiring six shots of novacaine! The dentist was nice enough to give it extra time to take effect.

Then when she got underneath my old mercury filling I'd had since I was a teenager, she found extensive decay that hadn't showed up on my most recent x-rays. So she had to drill almost to the nerve. She said those two teeth will likely require root canals if the Sjogren's decays them any further.

Decided to go out and do some subdued birthday celebrating yesterday despite my dental disaster. Went to a discount store and bought Korn's greatest hits. Awesome stuff! I LOVE the remake of "Another Brick in the Wall"!!

Also used one of my movie passes. Went to "Robots". Hilarious! Exactly what I needed.

My jaw is still plenty sore. Don't think I'll be able to eat on the side I had the work done on until tomorrow. And the fibromyalgia is making other muscles sore just for good measure.

Still trying various things to make my meals diabetes compatible. Figured out if I add a little onion salt to my baked sweet potato, I can put less butter on it and it still tastes good. Was a bit alarmed at the carb content of the barbecue sauce I wanted to put on my broiled chicken, but then when I measured it out, I discovered I only needed half of what was considered a serving size.

And I found some good tasting gluten free corn flakes. I think they'll effectively disguise the taste of the 2 percent milk I'm trying to get used to. Maybe bananas would make it taste even better?

When I get the chance, I'm going to round up some stir fry recipes for the wok I got for my birthday. I'm thinking tofu would actually taste pretty good stir fried. I have gluten free soy sauce that tastes exactly like regular.

Got brave today and went shopping for exercise shorts at a sports store that was having a sale. Was hoping to find plain cotton shorts that fully covered my ass. Ended up with nylon soccer shorts that look nearly identical to ones I wore in the '70's. In particular, the satin-looking ones with the racing stripes down the side made me wonder if there was a disco ball hidden somewhere in the store. When I tried them on, I felt like I needed shiny lip gloss, knee socks and rolller skates to make the picture complete. I guess this is ok since I'll just be wearing t-shirts over them anyway.

Listening to "Make Me Bad"......

Pain level: 8
Fatigue level: 9

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Not my idea of a good time..... 

I am not usually prone to much anxiety or melodrama, but I am not coping well right now. I feel like a real wimp. This was the best outlet I could think of.

I decided to cook something from scratch today while trying to stay on the diabetes diet. It was a disaster. My fibrofog caused me to miscalculate amounts on just about everything, so not only were my portion sizes wrong, the recipe I was using didn't come out right at all. I wasted energy I couldn't afford to spend on measuring stuff and figuring out how to adjust my meals the rest of the day to make up for the miscalculations at dinner. The result was an upset stomach and a migraine.

I was hoping to get a little housecleaning done while Dan was out of town because I wanted to surprise him. I took it nice and slow yesterday, only doing half the living room with lots of breaks and planning to do the other half this afternoon. Well, I got so wiped out from the cooking fiasco that I found myself staring at the TV tonight, wondering why I couldn't get anything done.

I hurt sooo bad tonight in spite of two consecutive nights of good sleep. How am I going to return to work in two weeks if I can't even clean one room? This is crazy.

Normally, I don't mind when Dan is out of town because I like a little alone time occasionally. Not this time. I miss him.

So it's after midnight now, technically my 41st birthday. This is the first birthday I have ever disliked, not because I feel old, but because I feel like I have failed myself. I feel like the illness has the upper hand, not me.

And I am getting a tooth filled this afternoon. It was the first available appointment when I had to re-schedule due to my grandmother's funeral. What was I thinking? What sort of idiot schedules a dental procedure on their own birthday??

I should call it a night, but I'm too tired to get up and go to bed. Makes me wonder what I'll be like 41 years from now. Too depressing to think about.

Pain level: 9
Fatigue level: 9

Monday, March 21, 2005

Rave of the Day for March 20: 

I'm in the mood for humor of the canine variety. Thanks to Ducky for this selection from her Daily Grin....

A dog's chalkboard assignments

 This list of chalkboard assignments may be used for your dog when he/she does not behave well. The below variations and choices will help you pick an assignment. Fill in the blanks
1. [xxx] is not food.
Spiders; bandaids; ivy and airplane plants; Xmas ornaments; the carved jack-o-lantern; plants from the aquarium; cat litter box contents; laundry detergent boxes (esp. not when full!); toothpaste (tube and all); remote controls; linoleum; eyeglasses; books; stockings; the tar shingles on my house; chicken wire; bizarre plants; disposable razors; rocks; Lego; dirty Kleenex; the baby's used diaper; Christmas stockings; soda pop cans; fiberglass insulation stuffed up the chimney; the underwear in the clothes hamper; Mommy's hair accessories; Mommy's catnip teabags; unopened honey packets; staples; Christmas stockings; credit cards, CDs, and other thin plastic things.
2. I will not lift my leg to the [xxx].
Anything growing in the vegetable garden; house corner; new boyfriend; mailman; woodstove; subordinate pack members; Grandma's plush chair; the conformation judge; good-looking neighbour man that Mommy is trying to impress; Daddy in the lawn chair.
3. I recognize that [xxx] has a right to exist.
The humans' shoes; the human's cats; the aquarium; 3rd grade art projects (even if they are made of macaroni shells); the other dog(s); the TV remote control; the human's little humans; the bath mitt; Rolling Stone magazine; large patterns on wallpaper.
4. [xxx] is not a toy.
The humans' shoes; the human's cats; the humans' pet cockatiel; newly planted iris bulbs; pillows and blankets from the bed; laundry (dirty OR clean); aquarium plants; stuffed animals from on top of the chest of drawers; pillows and blankets from the newly made bed; the hose that's filling the kiddie pool; the humans' Nerf footballs; human's underwear; Mommy and Daddy's ferrets.
5. I will not chew the [xxx].
Human's homework; human's papers s/he has to mark; remote control; cardboard around the laundry detergent; handles to the lawn tools; garage door; kitchen cabinets; food left within reach on the couch; the mini-human's *full* bottle even though it conveniently fell in front of me from the crib; horse's new saddle; wall; carpet; deck; couch; sofa cushions; expensive paperbacks.
6. I will not bark at [xxx].
Plastic bags on the ground; the new plow blade on my owner's truck when it is parked; the wind; thunder; the road grader; Daddy's new Santa bear toy (which was innocently sitting on a chair, and had been there for hours before Molly noticed it and took umbrage); tissue paper being blown along the floor by air from the furnace; the spring doorstop when I or the kid flips it and makes it go DOooiiiiinnnnnng; my mother's clean laundry thrown on top of the bed, even if the room is dark and it looks like someone sleeping there; the ball I just pushed into an inaccessible crevice all by myself; the fox/skunk/cat/deer out in the yard at any time after midnight, especially on a work night; the fire hydrant on the corner when out for a walk at night; the car radio; the answering machine lady when she says the date/time; the ice cube that slid under the fridge; the rawhide chewbone that I'm making no headway on; absolutely nothing (especially after 11 PM).
7. I will not dig [xxx].
Under the stove (and through the linoleum); under the sidewalk until it collapses; the carpet; a hole under the porch and then get stuck under it; under my master's pillow at 2 AM to retrieve the bone I hid there earlier; a swimming pool in the back yard.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

This, that, and other stuff... 

Went to my appointment with the nutritionist on Friday. Was in so much pain that I could hardly walk, and the diabetes center is at the far end of a huge hospital that takes up two city blocks. Took me over 15 minutes to get there from my car.

The nutritionist was nice, but I could tell she does not get a lot of people who do not need to lose weight. She wanted me to switch from Boost to Glucerna for those times when I'm too sick to eat solid food, but she had no idea whether the stuff was gluten free or not. We had to spend a lot of time figuring out how to keep the meals small enough for my gastroparesis and but large enough for some nutrition.

Woke up yesterday hurting even worse than the previous day, when I had been in tears from pain. If I'd been healthy and hurting that bad, I would have been in the ER demanding some relief. But I didn't bother because I know from past experience that they wouldn't help me.

I did make up my mind, though, that I've had quite enough of waiting around for the sleep specialist's office to get back to me. I've been trying to get a message to the doc for two weeks and can't even get a hold of a human being. The whole reason I'm in such agony is that I've been off my Ambien for two months while trying to find an effective treatment for my periodic limb movement disorder and haven't gotten any doggone sleep.

I have to go back to work in two weeks. There's no way I'll be in any condition to do that unless I get some quality sleep, so I went back on my Ambien last night. I slept 11 hours straight through, and I hurt less today.

Yesterday, I took Dan to the airport before my group diabetes instruction. Dan is in Florida for a week visiting his grandfather. I would have loved to have gone, but I'm too sick to travel.

The diabetes class was an eye opener. I was amazed that they tell people they should drink diet soda pop. I was even more surprised to find out that the amount of food they advocate is actually less than what most people eat.

I'm discovering that my usual diet contains more protein and less carbohydrates than the diabetes plan, and I eat much less than what is recommended. I fear if I convert to the diabetes diet I'll gain weight. I'm going to ask about that at my next class in two weeks.

And I am trying to reconcile myself to getting a meter so I can start checking glucose levels at home. I will see the endocrinologist on Thursday, so I'll ask her to write a script for the test strips. My insurance company will provide a meter free of charge if I am prescribed the strips that go with it.

One thing I have decided to do is get a medic alert bracelet. It's probably a good idea for anyone with multiple ailments and/or allergies. I don't have anything life-threatening, but the combo of Sjogren's/celiac/diabetes could get pretty uncomfortable if I were given inappropriate treatment in an emergency.

This is too funny....Chip wouldn't eat last night or this morning because Dan wasn't home, so when Dan called this afternoon, I asked him to talk to Chip. So I held the phone receiver up to Chip's ear while Dan told him to eat. Right after that, Chip walked to his bowl and started eating! Crazy dog.

Got to go out to eat tonight for my birthday since I'll be getting a tooth filled on my actual birthday. It was my dad, stepmother, stepbrother and his wife, and sister and her fiance. We ate at a nice Asian place that has a gluten free menu upon request. I had cantonese shrimp. Also, my dad and stepmother gave me a wok and a DVD of the third season of the "Dick Van Dyke Show", my sister gave me a cool candle set and some awesome dangly earrings with purple stones, and my stepbrother and his wife gave me movie passes. And before Dan left, he gave me "Ray" on DVD even though the Duran Duran concert was supposed to be my present.

Gonna be a long week without Dan to drive me around and spoil me. I thought I was gonna pass out when I was at the grocery store yesterday, both from exhaustion and the difficulty of maneuvering a cart. Wish I was up to walking Chip, but the last time I tried, he about ripped my arm out of its socket, and this was over a year ago when I was stronger.

Oh, and I finally wrote a poem about radishes. Quite some time ago, sol in her journal asked her readers to do that. I'm too tired to go downstairs and get it right now, but I'll copy it some time soon.

Better publish this before I doze off.

Pain level: 8
Fatigue level: 8

Friday, March 18, 2005

Bonus Rave of the Day for March 17: 

Some of these words of wisdom are pretty funny. Thanks to Ducky for the sage advice....

1. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.
2. If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be "meetings."
3. There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
4. People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.
5. You should not confuse your career with your life.
6. Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. 
7. Never lick a steak knife.
8. The most destructive force in the universe is gossip.
9. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday. That time is age 21
10. A person, who is nice to you, but rude to a waiter, is not a nice person. (This is very important. Pay attention. It never fails.)
11. Your friends love you anyway
12. Thought for the day: Men are like fine wine . . . They start out as grapes, and it's up to the women to stomp the crap out of them until they turn into something acceptable to have dinner with.

Thursday's follow-up at ENT.... 

Went back mainly to have the biopsy incision looked at. It's coming along well despite having the reaction to the steri-strips and having the stitches out early. They said to keep putting vitamin E oil on it, do some massage on the scar tissue, and to use some Mederma to help the scar fade more.

As far as what's wrong with my lymph nodes, I don't have cancer, but I do not have healthy lymph nodes either. Basically, I have higher numbers of certain lymphocytes present due to the Sjogren's. Nothing treatable, but something to document should I have to file for disability. And something to keep an eye on because there is always the remote chance that this could turn into lymphoma someday.

I finally go to the nutritionist tomorrow about the diabetes. I have mixed feelings about this; I want to find out what I need to do for the diabetes, but I don't want to have to actually do it. I'm already way overloaded with trying to manage all my other ailments. I know I'm whining, but I don't care how petty it sounds.

Am pretty much an unmovable lump of pain tonight. I promised Dan I would sort through a basket full of catalogs, newsletters and various papers, but I can't seem to heft my lard ass outta this here chair. Would love to take a nice strong narcotic pain med and get 12 straight hours of uninterrrupted sleep. How I envy those who can tolerate Vicodin.

Ok, I'm visualizing a forklift. On the count of 3......

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Rave of the Day for March 17: 

Here's something entertaining courtesy of Ducky. Simply hold down the mouse and try to steer the drunk guy upright.

Drunk Guy

Wiped out but happy.... 

Did get to the Duran Duran concert last night. Took a nap in the afternoon so I wouldn't be too tired starting out. We got there an hour before the opening act, but there was no parking in the front at all, so we parked about a block away in the nearest available handicapped spot.

I spiked my hair for the occasion and wore my hot pink lipstick. One of the ladies taking tickets was talking about how mellow the crowd was, but she smiled when she saw my hair. I told her I wasn't mellow, but I wasn't trouble either.

We had to wait awhile to get seated, but at least we were waiting indoors where it was warm. We were 8 rows up from the floor but not quite across from the stage. Totally forgot to bring binoculars.

I don't know the name of the opening act, but Dan and I liked them. They did a really revved up version of "Talking in Your Sleep", originally done by The Romantics. I think it must be tough to be an opening act, with people still finding their seats and maybe not paying too much attention.

Then, around 8:45, the "mellow" crowd suddenly went NUTS when Duran Duran took the stage! They started with their new material, which Dan had heard but I had not. The younger people in the audience all knew it though.

Only bummer was that Andy Taylor had to fly back to England suddenly on Tuesday because his father was gravely ill. They had a guitarist replace him with only half a day of rehearsal! The guy did amazingly well considering.

There were video cameras in the arena, and a projection area above the band (I won't say a screen because I didn't see one), so everyone got to see the band members close up. Simon is still GORGEOUS!! He wore a three piece suit at the beginning of the show.

They played something off their very first album as well as several hits. The song that generated the biggest response early on was "Notorious". Everybody was dancing, including me!

The arena wasn't completely sold out, but it was fairly close, and nobody sat down even once during the whole time Duran Duran was onstage, which was TWO HOURS! I folded up my chair so I would have more room and tried my best to ignore the protests of my aching body. I also screamed myself quite hoarse.

Dan had a great time too. Duran Duran is his all time favorite band. He's definitely Mr. Eighties.

It was a challenge getting back to where we were parked because all my sore muscles and joints tightened up as soon as they hit that cold air outside. Dan had to practically fold me into the car. I was glad he was driving so I could relax.

Today, I am barely able to move.....every muscle and joint I possess is protesting noisily. And I'm so exhausted I've been almost dozing off while typing this. But it was worth it anyway.

I think a long hot bath is in order....

Pain level: 9
Fatigue level: 9

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Bonus Rave of the Day for March 15: 

More food humor courtesy of Ducky....

A Bachelor's Kitchen Guide

Freezer Foods:
Ice Cream
If you can't tell the difference between your ice cubes and your ice cream, it's time to throw BOTH out.

Frozen Foods
Frozen foods that have become an integral part of the defrosting problem in your freezer compartment will probably be spoiled (or wrecked anyway) by the time you pry them out with a kitchen knife.

In the Fridge:
When something starts pecking its way out of the shell, the egg is probably past its prime.

Dairy Products
Milk is spoiled when it starts to look like yoghurt. Yoghurt is spoiled when it starts to look like cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is spoiled when it starts to look like regular cheese. Regular cheese is nothing but spoiled milk anyway - if you can dig down and still find something non-green, bon appetite!

If opening the refrigerator door causes stray animals from a three-block radius to congregate outside your house, toss the meat.

Unmarked Items
You know it is well beyond prime when you're tempted to discard the Tupperware along with the food.

General Rule of Thumb
Most food cannot be kept longer than the average life span of a hamster. Keep a hamster in your refrigerator to gauge this.

On the Shelf:
Canned Goods
Any canned goods that have become the size or shape of a softball should be disposed of... Very carefully.

Fresh potatoes do not have roots, branches, or dense, leafy undergrowth.

The Gag Test
Anything that makes you gag is spoiled (except for leftovers from what you cooked for yourself last night).

Sesame seeds and Poppy seeds are the only officially acceptable “spots” that should be seen on the surface of any loaf of bread. Fuzzy and hairy looking white or green growth areas are good indications that your bread has turned into a pharmaceutical laboratory experiment. You may wish to discard it at this time, depending on your interest in pharmaceuticals.

It is generally a good rule of thumb that cereal should be discarded when it is two years or longer beyond the expiration date, or when it will no longer fall out of the box by itself.

Flour is spoiled when it wiggles, or things fly out when you open it.

Normally eternal, pretzels may be discarded if they can no longer be picked up without falling apart. Otherwise, there's nothing to stop you from eating a pretzel that the Pharaoh put down only 4000 years ago.

Raisins should not usually be harder than your teeth.

It never spoils. However, if you can't chip off reasonable amounts from the block, maybe another box is in order, as fresh salt usually pours.

Most spices cannot die, they just fade away. They will be fine on your shelf, forever. Put them in your will.

If your grandmother made it, it is probably still good.

Expiration Dates:
This is not a marketing ploy to encourage you to throw away perfectly good food so that you'll spend more on groceries. Even dry foods older than you are may be ready to replace. Perhaps you'd benefit by having a calendar in your kitchen.

Of pants and pizza crusts.... 

Went to a clothing store today because spring is right around the corner, and I do not have a single pair of shorts that fit.....they're all so big that when I wore them in Hawaii in October, they were falling off! Dan took me to a local discount shop.

Amidst the ocean of capri pants in shades of lime green and orange (ewwwwww!), I found some stretch khaki shorts that fit and that were on sale for one-third off. Because I don't have the energy to spend too much time shopping, I grabbed four more of the same style in different colors. So now I just need to find some exercise shorts, and I'll be set for the next three seasons.

Also found a pair of cotton sweats with the stripes down the side. Unfortunately, there was only one pair in my size, but the cool thing is that the pair I bought was nearly half price. I need two more pair if I ever get back out there.

I finallly got out to that health food store with the cool gluten free stuff. I found ready made pizza crusts, single serving size! They were so good that the next time I have a friend over to watch a movie, I'll get a full-size crust so we can have a pizza party!

The shopping really wore me out, but at least I feel like I accomplished something.

Rave of the Day for March 15: 

As a nod to my wilder days, I thought I'd share this gem sent to me by Ducky.....

All I Need to Know About Life I Learned by Watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show

• Don't dream it, be it.

• In just seven days (and seven nights), I can make you a man.

• Castles don't have phones, so if you go driving on a rainy night, take a cellular phone.

• And check the spare tire before you go.

• You can remove the cause, but not the symptom.

• Don't get strung out by the way I look - I'm a wild and an untamed thing.

• It's not easy having a good time, but it is easy to smear your makeup.

• I'm a muscle fan, you'd better wise up, build your thighs up.

• There's no crime in giving yourself over to pleasure, unless you're in a southern state - then it's seven years.

• The only thing I've come to trust is an orgasmic rush of lust. Toucha toucha touch me.

• Old Steve Reeves movies are not too abysmal.

• The future is ours, so let's plan it.

• Time is fleeting, so let's do the time warp again.

• Meat Loaf thought he was Divine. Divine was not amused.

• Stay sane inside insanity. Stay dry in the castle.

• By the light of the night, it will all seem all right. Of course, you won't be able to see it.

Duran Duran!! 

I'm going to see them in concert again Wednesday night!! Wooooohoooooo! I know I swore off rock concerts three years ago, but.....

Dan and I saw them in 1999 in a small venue where you could get near the stage if you were willing to stand all evening, which I did. Obviously, I was much healthier then, but my feet hurt for days afterward nevertheless. Simon Le Bon was still gorgeous, so it was worth it.

Anyway, I promised Dan that if they ever went back to their original lineup and came to town, we'd see them. I bought the tix a few months ago, not knowing I'd be feeling so crummy right now. I'm still going, though, even if it knocks me on my keister healthwise.

Dan has agreed to drop me off near the front door of the stadium because parking is so hard to come by (handicapped is usually full). We'll show up early so I won't be jostled too much on the stairs getting to my seat. And I'll eat a good dinner beforehand because there's usually nothing I can eat in stadiums.

I hope I'll find enough energy and strength to get around ok. I already know I'll have fun! Yayyyyyyyy!

Humming "The Reflex".....

Pain level: 6
Fatigue level: 9

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Rave of the Day for March 13: 

Decided to find a funny today that was food related. Thanks to Ducky's Daily Grin for this one.....

Diary of a New Cook
Dear Diary,

Now home from honeymoon and settled in our new home, it's fun to cook for Bill. Today I made an angel food cake and the recipe said, "Beat 12 eggs separately." Well, I didn't have enough bowls to do that, so I had to borrow enough bowls to beat the eggs in. The cake turned out fine.

We wanted a fruit salad for supper. The recipe said, "Serve without dressing." So I didn't dress. But, Bill happened to bring a friend home for supper that night. Did they ever look startled when I served the salad.
I decided to serve rice and found a recipe which said, "Wash thoroughly before steaming the rice." So I heated some water and took a bath before steaming the rice. Sounded kinda silly in the middle of the week. I can't say it improved the rice any.

Today Bill asked for salad again. I tried a new recipe. It said, "Prepare ingredients, then toss on a bed of lettuce one hour before serving." I hunted all over the garden by my mom's. So I tossed my salad into the bed of lettuce and stood over there one hour so the dog would not take it. Bill came over and asked if I felt all right. I wonder why?
Today I found an easy recipe for cookies. It said, "Put all ingredients in a bowl and beat it." Beat it I did, right over to my mom's house. There must have been something wrong with the recipe, because when I came back home again it looked the same as when I left it.

Bill went shopping today and brought home a chicken. He asked me to dress it for Sunday. I'm sure I don't know how hens dress for Sunday. I never noticed back on the farm, but I found a doll dress and some little shoes. I though the hen looked real cute. When Bill saw it, I wondered why he counted to 10.

Today Bill's folks came to dinner. I wanted to serve roast, but all we had in the icebox, was hamburger. So I put it in the oven and set the controls for roast. Must be the oven, because it still came out hamburger.

I was going to bake bread today. The recipe said, "Mix well and knead well. Then stand in a warm place until double in bulk." I just won't bake bread if I have to double in bulk.
Good night Dear Diary. This has been an exciting week. I am eager for tomorrow to come, so I can try a new recipe on Bill.

Food adventures.... 

Ok, on Friday, the gastro doc's assistant banned me from eating peanut butter, one of my favorites and something I used to be able to tolerate prior to this recent worsening of my gastroparesis. I'd been putting it on my gluten free waffles. Since I'm probably going to have to stop using syrup as well, I considered giving up waffles altogether.

But then Dan came home from the grocery store last night with raspberry preserves, and the little light bulb went off in my head. I tried spreading some on the waffles and not using any syrup at all. Delicious!

Woke up this morning very nauseous, so I tried taking an Erythromycin to see if it would help (it causes subtle muscle contractions in the stomach). I am happy to report that I am HUNGRY! That is a good thing because that means my stomach is working....I hadn't been hungry in months.

I was warned not to take the med regularly, just on my bad days. But at least I can now call the gastro doc's office and say this appears to be workable. Now if I can just resist the temptation to go downstairs and eat everything in the kitchen....

Pain level: 7
Fatigue level: 7

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Rave of the Day for March 11: 

Got this in an e-mail tonight. Guess you could say it hits me where I live. Thanks to Ginny for sending it.....

A car company can move its factories to Mexico and claim it's a free market.

A toy company can outsource to a Chinese subcontractor and claim it's a free market.

A major bank can incorporate in Bermuda to avoid taxes and claim it's a  free market.

We can buy HP Printers made in Mexico.

We can buy shirts made in Bangladesh.

We can purchase almost anything we want from many different countries.

BUT, heaven help the elderly who dare to buy their prescription drugs from a Canadian (or Mexican) pharmacy. That's  called un-American!  

And you think the pharmaceutical companies don't have a powerful lobby? Think again! Our CONGRESS, the best money can buy!

As the tummy turns..... 

Saw the gastro doc's assistant this morning. He said my diabetes is aggravating the gastroparesis. Added that once I've been to the nutritionist and have a dietary plan started, it should help.

In the meantime, we looked at a temporary solution. Trouble is, I've already tried three motility meds with disastrous results each time. So on my bad days only, I will take a dose of Erythromycin, which is an antibiotic that generates activity in the stomach muscles.

Other than that, there's little I can do. Peanut butter is now a no no for me, sigh. Guess I'd better start liking cream of rice a whole lot more than I do.

Got a letter from the disability insurance company. They've generously extanded coverage....through the weekend. They also now want my doc to fill out a functional capacity form.

Have not heard back from the sleep specialist. I think the nurse didn't relay the message. I'll have to try again next week.

Had a friend over today, and we watched the extended release of "Return of the King", all four hours and ten minutes of it. We are both total LOTR freaks....actually, I was and talked her into seeing the first movie, and then she went and read the books. We had a good time, but I got a nasty headache starting about halfway through.

Hoping this weekend to work on a few projects I'd planned before my grandmother's funeral. I'd like to line up some photos to put in frame I got for Christmas. I'd also like to work on my websites if I can keep these derned headaches at bay.

Pain level: 9
Fatigue level: 7

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Hot new housecleaning tip.... 

Discovered something interesting this afternoon....if you wipe the dust off the TV screen, the entire living room looks cleaner! Guess I'm all done then, heh heh.

Rave of the Day for March 10: 

My article for March has been added to But You Don't Look Sick. Here is is:

Travel Tips for the Chronically Ill

Slightly recovered..... 

Am closer to what passes as normal for me. I managed to keep down what little I ate yesterday. I'm still nauseous, so I'm keeping tomorrow's emergency appointment with the gastroenterologist's assistant.

Haven't heard back from the sleep specialist yet. Woke up today to my feet flapping so violently I thought I would become airborne. Did my 20 minutes on the Gazelle machine even though every joint complained bitterly.

The back spasms are more intermittent now. I never sought treatment for them because I was so wiped out by all of the funeral plans last week. I can't really afford a massage right now anyway because I'm still fighting with the disability insurance company and haven't had any income in a month.

The migraine I developed yesterday is not 100 percent gone....I can feel it waiting to pounce. But I seem to be getting them less often again, I think. It's on my list of symptoms to give to the rheumatologist at my next visit.

Was actually considering some housework today, until I took a shower and tired myself out again. Some days it doesn't take much. If I can convince the fibromonster to quit smacking me with the sledgehammer of fatigue, I may do some decluttering.

That's the play-by-play for now.

Pain level: 7
Fatigue level: 8

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Complaints and kudos.... 

I believe my gastroparesis is getting worse. I'm nauseous more and more of the time, and last night, seven and a half hours after I'd had gluten-free waffles with peanut butter on them, I started throwing up. I'd digested the waffles, but not the peanut butter.

I have an appointment with the gastroenterologist's assistant on Friday, which is a good thing because I still feel extremely queasy. I don't think there's a lot they can do, but I just want to make sure it's not something else. Yuck.

I've been on Neurontin for periodic limb movement disorder for two months now, and it's still not helping. I don't think at this point that it's going to. I called the sleep specialist's office and left a message asking what I should do next.

Oh, and of course the scenario would not be complete without a migraine. Like Gilda Radner used to say, "It's always something."

So I feel quite dreadful, and am actually worse now than when I first started short-term leave from work five and a half weeks ago. How I'm going to get back to work I have no idea. Frustrating.

Thus ends the litany of complaints. On to more positive stuff:

Yesterday was the first ever meeting of the Denver members of But You Don't Look Sick. We met at Dr. Karen's house, which was no small thing for her to arrange. There were six of us camped out in her living room if you count Karen herself. And she has celiac, so everything she had for us to eat was gluten free, including fresh coffee cake! And the blueberry green tea she made for me was delicious. There were even three poodles present for us to pet.

I managed to screw around and get myself lost and of course was late, no surprise to those who know me. So I had to ask everyone to re-introduce themselves, which they were nice enough to do, and zipped through my own Reader's Digest condensed intro. Then we each mentioned what we hoped to accomplish in the meetings.

We're gonna do this on a regular basis, once a month. Next time, I will try scribbling down ideas as we go along so I won't have to blurt them out for fear of forgetting them and cutting someone else off in the process. I might also bring in books I think the others might have an interest in.

Afterward, I went to a health food store near Dr. Karen's house that she had told me about. This was a mom & pop type with a lot of gluten-free foods that I hadn't seen anywhere else, including fresh bakery products. I bought two chocolate chip cookies, the first ones I'd had in a year and a half, and was amazed to discover I could hardly tell them from ones containing wheat! I might go back there next week when I have to go to that part of town for my allergy shot.

Ack. There was a lot more I wanted to put in here, but I fear if I don't sign off, I'm either going to hurl or my head is going to explode.

Pain level: 9
Fatigue: 9

Rave of the Day for March 9: 

Have gotten out of the habit of finding something to rave about. Well, aside from pointing out that I am now giving my readers the ability to comment on my posts (hope I'm not courtin' disaster here), here's a major gigglefest courtesy of bejo....

Sighting #1: I was at the airport, checking in at the gate, when the airport employee asked, "Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge?" I said, "If it was without my knowledge, how would I know? "He smiled and nodded knowingly, "That's why we ask."

Sighting #2: The stoplight on the corner buzzes when it is safe to cross the street. I was crossing with an intellectually challenged co-worker of mine, when she asked if I knew what the buzzer was for. I explained that it signals to blind people when the light is red. She responded, appalled, "What on earth are blind people doing driving?"

Sighting #3: At a good-bye lunch for an old and dear coworker who is leaving the company due to "downsizing," our manager spoke up and said, "this is fun. We should have lunch like this more often." Not another word was spoken. We just looked at each other like deer staring into the headlights of an approaching truck.

Sighting #4: I worked with an individual who plugged her power strip back into itself and for the life of her could not understand why her system would not turn on.

Sighting #5: When my husband and I arrived at an automobile dealership to pick up our car, we were told that the keys had been accidentally locked in it. We went to the service department and found a mechanic working feverishly to unlock the driver's side door. As I watched from the passenger's side, I instinctively tried the door handle and discovered it was open." Hey," I announced to the technician, "It's open!" "I know," answered the young man.- "I already got that side."

Sighting #6: I work in a hospital and one day the doctor and I were asking a pregnant lady some questions upon admission to the maternity ward. When we asked her who we should call in case of an emergency, she stated "911".

Sighting #7: My daughter was going over to the neighbors house to visit but didn't want to miss a call from her boyfriend so she took the cordless phone with her. While at the neighbors she wanted to check back at home to see if her younger brother was okay. My daughter then picked up the neighbors phone and dialed our number. While waiting for someone to answer the phone at home, the phone she brought over with her began to ring. She immediately hung up the neighbors phone and answered our phone. There was no one there. She wanted to know who it was who called so she used our phone to call our house. The line was busy. Getting very frustrated she left the neighbors to go home and see who was on the phone. No one was on the phone. My daughter could not figure out what was going on until someone explained it to her.

Sighting #8: As systems manager of an answering service a few years back I had the pleasure of working with an especially ignorant doctor. Our system was trying to fax her messages to her place of business when a message came back informing us her fax was out of paper. When I called her office and told her about this she replied, "Oh, I'm all out of bond paper. Could you fax me some?" I'm right on it, Babe.

Sighting #9: I was in McDonalds one time when the lady in front of me ordered a cheeseburger and requested no cheese. Now I don't know about you but that sounds like a hamburger to me.

Sighting #10: Many years ago I worked in a delicatessen. The assistant manager had burnt something in the oven and smoke was pouring from the kitchen area. When the store manager came by and asked why she hadn't opened the emergency fire exit door to allow the smoke to go outside she said, "I thought about it but I couldn't find the key!"

Sighting #11: I was sitting at my University bar with some friends the other day when we overheard a man talking on his mobile phone. He was saying that he wanted to "buy, buy, buy" some shares and "sell, sell, sell" some shares. Unfortunately for him, his mobile phone actually began to ring!!! The laughter in the bar was heard for miles!! Now that's what I call an IDIOT!

Sighting #12: A friend of mine and I were on a little road trip with his wife driving. Everything was pretty quiet when she turned to us and asked, "If you are driving 70mph, about how far would you go in an hour?" Oh yeah, she's a smart one.

Sighting #13: Calling the telecommunication company to inform them my phone didn't work and that when I picked up the receiver its completely dead, the technician said from the other end "Are you calling from the number of the phone that does not work?"

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Post-funeral exhaustion..... 

Went to my grandmother's funeral yesterday with about 30 members of my family. All of my immediate family over the age of five were there except one cousin. It was sunny and surprisingly warm for the outside ceremony.

The afternoon memorial service was at the church my grandmother had been a member of since 1951. There were perhaps 60 of us in attendance. It was the church of my childhood, so I remembered it well.

There was a soloist who sang "Ava Maria", which was my grandma's favorite. It made me cry, though, and for a moment, I didn't think I would get through what I had written for the service. I thought the younger family members needed to hear what it was like before Grandma developed Alzheimer's, though, so I managed to stumble through it.

After the service, we went to my aunt's and ate and socialized. I got home about 7:30 with an enormous headache and almost in tears from pain elsewhere, but I was still glad I went. I sat on the couch the rest of the night.

Today, I have not been able to stay out of bed for more than a few hours at a time. I guess I shouldn't be too surprised as I recall how much previous funerals have worn me out. I just hope I don't stay this way for long.

Thought I'd include here what I said at the memorial service yesterday:

"The author Harlan Ellison once wrote, "Eulogies are never for the dead. They are always for the living; to pay off debts; to say goodbye formally one last time. But no one should be sent down into darkness with too few words." Thus I wish to add my own words to this service.

"I am the eldest of Ayleene Clark's grandchildren. My memories of her go pretty far back, and some of them might be surprising or interesting to those of you who are younger. I spent a lot of my childhood with her, decades before her memory loss became disabling and before the anger and fear took control of her life.

"Pretty much every family gathering from the late 1960's to the early 1980's was spent at Grandma's house in Washington Park. There was a huge wooden table in the dining room suitable for feasts of all sizes. Many times, after dinner, it was time for games. The ones I remember particularly were Perquackie, Pinochle (which we called Pig's Knuckles) and Pit. Even when I was too young to play, I remember all the laughter these games would generate.

"Grandma was generous. When I was a kid, I think she really did believe the adage that the best thing about grandchildren was that you could spoil them and then send them back to their parents. I hope I didn't take too much advantage of the situation, but I do recall that she never denied me anything if she thought I needed it and if I asked nicely.

"For the better part of a few years during the 1970's, my sister Alicia and I would spend weekends at Grandma's house. My cousin Conni was there too. I remember wandering around in the attic to find troll dolls and model horses to play with, attaching adjustable roller skates to the bottoms of my shoes and trying to roll over zillions of cracks in the sidewalk, playing hide and seek in the yard, making cards, writing poems and trying to draw with Grandma's Tri-Chem paints. During the summers, we would go up to the cabin in the mountains. During the rest of the year, our parents, and often Uncle Don and Aunt Dianne would gather on Saturday nights to play card or board games, and then on Sundays, Grandma would take the grandkids to church.

"The trips to the cabin were really special. Grandma would dutifully honk her horn in the tunnels on the way there, and would buy cherry cider from the roadside stands. The cabin didn't have electricity or running water, so we really felt like we were roughing it even though we didn't have to sleep outdoors. Grandma endured our endless requests for junk food and didn't complain when I would put ketchup all over my scrambled eggs that she had just cooked over the fire. She also didn't seem to mind when I would make up dumb songs and then sing them over and over. She would hike with us sometimes and would let us pick wild raspberries as long as we washed them before we ate them. On some weekends, we'd spend most of a day in Central City, browsing the shops, especially the ones that had animals carved out of onyx or had any sort of candy, or touring one of the mines in a cart pulled by donkeys. One time we went on a tour of the historical homes. This was obviously before Central City decided to bring back casino gambling.

"On the Sundays that we would attend church, Grandma would have Conni, Alicia and I put on long dresses so we would look like little ladies. I usually went to Sunday school, which I believe went well except for me talking entirely too much. There were occasions when I sat in the congregation with the adults, and the only thing that I ever remember Grandma chastising me for was for fidgeting during the sermon. After church, we usually went to eat at IHOP or Village Inn. We must have been quite a sight, three young girls trying not to trip on their dresses, each with a doll in tow, chattering endlessly at their grandmother.

"Grandma loved classical music, and would play it on her stereo when I was visiting. When I showed a bit of interest, as soon as I got my own record player, she gave me my own vinyl album of classical from various sources. I played this even more often than I did my Disney songs. When I was old enough to sit quietly, she took me to see a live orchestra and eventually to see ballets of "Swan Lake" and "The Nutcracker". She took me to see artwork and the Natural History Museum and the zoo. And she didn't seem to mind sitting in the nosebleed section of the Denver Coliseum while Conni, Alicia and I watched the circus and got cotton candy in our hair.

"Grandma was the undisputed matriarch of the family. I will always think of her when I listen to a piano concerto, when I go to the mountains and see wild raspberries, and when I wear a dress to church. Family gatherings won't quite be the same without her.

"Thanks for listening today."

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Before tomorrow's funeral.... 

Yesterday, I dropped Dan off to work and went to my aunt's with my photo albums. About 10 of us got together to sort through old pix to put together a collage for Grandma's memorial service. It gave us a chance to talk before all the public ceremony begins tonight.

We used two of those padded boards that use ribbon to hold the photos in place. I do graphic arts for a living, so I was more than happy to assemble the collage. Most of the photos we used were of Grandma with her grandchildren and great grandchildren, although we will have a large framed wedding photo off to the side.

It was good to go over all the old memories captured by cameras over the past 50 years. We laughed a lot over our silly clothing styles and bad hairdos from when we were kids. We explained who was who to those too young to remember.

I was incredibly exhausted by the time I got home last night. There was a memorial service planning at the church today, but I decided I had better rest today so I can get through the funeral and service tomorrow morning. I will spend tonight writing out what I will say at the service.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Grandma passed on..... 

She has made her transition. She died at 7:30 this morning. Both of my aunts stayed all night at the hospice with her.

The hospice staff was fantastic. They waited patiently while family members came from various locations in the state....my cousin lives three hours away. In all, 15 of us.

I am ok. I am more relieved than anything else that she finally is not afraid anymore. She had such advanced Alzheimer's that for the past few years she never knew where she was.

And she finally got to go home. Those last couple of years, she thought she was a child and wanted to see her mom, who died almost 50 years ago. I am comforted with the thought that this has indeed happened.

I will probably help plan the memorial service, which will be Saturday if possible. I will likely speak at the service, just like I did for my mom's funeral.

I am very tired.

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