Thursday, June 29, 2006

showings and no-showings..... 

Had my very first showing yesterday! The real estate company called about 1:30 and asked if they could show the house between 2 and 3pm. I said sure! At the time, I was in the middle of paying bills and had papers from one end of the command center to the other, so I had to stow everything in a big hurrry, put the dog beds and his food bowls in the closet, grab my purse and water and a book, convince Chip to hop in the back seat of the car, etc. Unfortunately, I totally spaced the baby gates at the top of the stairs! I'd been blocking Chip off from the first floor to keep the hardwood floor clean (at least until he's groomed and his toenails have been clipped tomorrow). So I wonder what the potential buyer thought of the baby gates??

Chip was NOT happy about sitting in the car for an hour. He HATES riding in the car under any circumstances, but I thought once he realized we were just going to sit at the park and not go anywhere, he'd settle down. Nope! He whined and howled like I was torturing him. I would get him to lie down on the back seat, but he'd start right back up again after a few seconds. I tried to ignore him and read my book, but I was quite relieved when 3pm arrived.

Once I realized I'd left the baby gates at the top of the stairs, I decided I'd had enough of them and proceed to haul them to the garage. Unfortunately, I guess they'd had enough of me too, because I tripped on them one the stairs and got one hell of a bruise on my leg. That makes three "incidents" on the stairs in two weeks. I also decided that since the cleaning people would be starting the next day that it wouldn't matter anymore if I moved Chip's food and water downstairs and dispensed with the blanket I'd been using as a walkway between the stairs and the sliding glass door. I also let Chip look out the front door and get nose prints all over the glass while I watched "Lost". Later that night, I gleefully shaved my legs in the shower knowing that I wouldn't have to scrub all those little hairs out of the tub.

The cleaning guys were due to show up at 9am today, so I dragged my sorry self out of bed at 8. Dazed, in pain and nauseous, I tried to distract myself by reading "The Chronicles of Narnia'. I began falling asleep on the couch within minutes. I would wake up with a neck ache, change positions, start another chapter and doze offf again. At 11 or so, I began to get annoyed that no one had called or shown up, but I was too exhausted to get up. Finally, at 1:30, the phone rang. The cleaning lady asked if she was supposed to come by that day because she didn't have a specific time written down. I told her that yes, she was supposed to have been there that morning. She asked if she could come at 2:30. I said sure and made myself a quick lunch. Went back to the couch and read again. I read ALL of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe", and she STILL hadn't shown up! This is the SECOND time a supposedly reputable cleaning lady has stood me up! What the hell am I supposed to do? I got fed up and did what I could myself tonight. Now my hands, my back and my shoulders are spasming like mad, and all I want to do is cry. So I guess I will try calling someone else tomorrow and if I can make alternate arrangements, I'll call the other lady back and tell her to forget it. I wish like hell I could handle all the housework myself. But by doing so, I'm making myself so sick that I won't be able to handle packing and moving once the house does sell.

STILL haven't heard from the virtual tour video guy. What the hell? I found out he was on vacation last week. Fine, but he got back Monday and tomorrow is FRIDAY and he still hasn't gotten around to me. I want to get this show on the road, dammit!

Got ALL the weeds out of the back yard! I got all but a few done in the front yard yesterday before calling it quits. The temperatures are getting up into the 90's during the day again, so I need to stay indoors because of the photo-sensitivity and heat intolerance. Plus, I have a gazillion bug bites even though I haven't seen a single mosquito. Sheesh.

Watched "The Wizard of Oz" with Chip yesterday. He wasn't sure what to think of the sound of the flying monkeys! I think Mom gave me that video; that was one of her fave movies of all time, and we even saw a re-release of it in the theatre. I watched "Nosferatu" tonight. Makes the later Draculas look rather cheesy in comparison. Max Schreck looks absolutely unsettling in this silent German film made in 1922.

Finished reading the Harry Potter part six book and have loaned it to my neighbor/friend. Don't know when part 7 is supposed to be published or when the movie part five is gonna be released, but when I start taking up residence downstairs again (after the virtual tour is filmed and after Chip has been groomed), I'm gonna watch the DVDs of parts 1-4 again.

Have to re-order checks, which is sort of a bummer because I have no idea how many I will actually use before I move. I'm just gonna order one box. I guess I'd rather have too many and have to shred some after the account is closed than not have enough.

Was gonna comment on a lot more stuff, but Chip needs to be at the groomer's at 7:30, so I'd best go take a shower, put on some Icy Hot, take a muscle relaxant and retire for the evening. Why is it that I never miss an appointment no matter how sick I am, and perfectly healthy people can't even be bothered to keep their promises to me??? I guess that's a question for the ages.

Will report more and will hope to be less grumpy while doing so.

Four things.... 

This e-mail makes the rounds from time to time, but I'll just answer it here rather than try to remember to whom I've already sent. I may have even answered these here before, but who knows, maybe my answers will be different this time??

Four Things About Me you may not have known

-Four Jobs I have had:

1. Switchboard operator for my college

2. Mineral sample preparer for geologists

3. Telemarketing for carpet cleaning (that lasted only a week when I called someone a bitch AFTER she'd hung up on me!)

4. Helped run the family's old fashioned photo business, you know, the kind where you dress up as a cowboy or saloon girl and get sepia-toned prints?

-Four movies I watch over and over
(on this one, I am NOT counting Christmas movies, ok?)

1. The Truth About Cats and Dogs

2. While You Were Sleeping

3. Circle of Friends

4. Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

-Four places I have lived

1. Hampton, Virginia

2. Charleston, South Carolina

3. Baldwin City, Kansas

4. Topeka, Kansas

-Four vacations I have taken

1. childhood road trip to Yellowstone, Idaho to visit relatives, Oregon to visit relatives, California to visit relatives and a brief stop in the Nevada desert the night of July 4 to shoot off fireworks acquired in Wyoming (they'll sell just about anything there)

2. two childhood visits to Disneyland, once with my parents and once with my grandmother (who bravely rode the Matterhorn with me)

3. childhood road trip to New Orleans, Mississippi to visit friends, Arkansas to visit relatives, Tennessee to visit relatives and a drive along the entire coast of Florida including visiting the Keys where we visited a dolphin training school among other things

4. Washington, D.C. where I was rushed through the monuments and the Smithsonian by an impatient relative

- Four of my favorite foods
(these adhere to my current dietary restrictions)

1. gluten free pizza with mushrooms

2. gluten free pasta with tomato sauce, especially lasagna

3. just about anything off the gluten free menu at P.F. Chang's

4. cheese, and plenty of it!

-Four places I would rather be right now

1. Hawaii

2. In the mountains taking pictures (well, maybe I'd wait until morning because right now it's too dark)

3. On just about any beach gathering seashells

4. Anyplace I haven't been to before

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Rave of the Day for June 27, 2006: 

I don't normally pass along mass forwarded e-mails of an informative nature, but this one caught my attention. I personally verified the story on the Snopes link and went to some of the other sites mentioned there. I am also in the process of finding out whether there is a higher incidence of this type of cancer among those with Sjogren's syndrome as the disease is known to affect the lymph nodes. Thanks to Joan for alerting me to this.....

This is factual. You may check it out at:

NOTE: It's very important that you and the women in your life see this video. The link provided below will connect you to the web site where the video can be viewed. Those of you with dial-up connections will be reluctant to wait for this six minute video to load and play. Nonetheless, all women should view this video to learn of IBC, Inflammatory Breast Cancer, a little known, but deadly fast-acting form of breast cancer. Awareness will save lives.

If the six minute video is too much for dial-up connection users, please, at least read the "Snopes" article provided above.

This is a direct link to KOMO Seattle TV. Please click the link and listen and watch . It could save your lifeor the life of a loved one!

Monday, June 26, 2006

answers to "holy wars" and more..... 

sol had another poll on her slashdot journal which I found highly amusing, so I copied the questions as well as some of the queries posted in the comments section and added my own answers. Right now, before you do anything else, go over to the Journal of SolemnDragon (it's on my Links list) and read her excellent poem entitled "Psalm of the Loaf". I'll wait.

Welcome back. Now onto the poll....

[klondike or fudgesicle pops?
Klondike. But I still have a nostalgic fondness for fudgesicles.

pudding or gelatin?
Pudding. The darker the chocolate involved the better.

angel food cake or pound cake?
Angel food cake. Alone, or with chocolate sauce, or whipped topping, or strawberries, or ice cream. Hell, I'd probably eat it with all those things on it at once.

bread stuffing or potatoes?
Swore off stuffing after I went gluten free, so potatoes. Not fried, unfortunately.

Cheddar or swiss?
I love both, but cheddar is better.

"Elvis" or "anything but elvis?"
How about anything AND Elvis??

coke or pepsi?
Coke. But Pepsi will do in a pinch. Actually, I miss both. I seldom drink them because of my diabetes. I want to save my carbs for my meals.

"KAHR-ah-Mell" or "CARmel?"

Rice Dream or Tofutti? (even vegans have to have something to fight about.)
Eh, if I had to choose one, I guess Tofutti would have a slight edge.

MC 900 ft Jesus or De La Soul?
Another toughie, but I think I'll go with De La Soul for now. Ask me tomorrow, and I may pick the other.

Rock, paper, or scissors?
Paper. It's easier to write on.

Cyndi Lauper or Cyndi Lee Berryhill?
Cyndi Lauper. Didn't like her so much at her peak because she was overplayed and over-hyped, but she kinda grew on me after that.

BBQ sauce or BBQ rub?
Sauce. Thick, heavy on the molasses. Kansas City style preferred.

Kosher dill, or Zesty garlic?
Can I have a zesty garlic kosher dill, please?

White or wheat?
Can't do the real thing of either kind, but a local lady makes an excellent mock rye bread that I highly recommend.

Tastes Great or Less Filling?
It's all about taste, baby.

Boxers or briefs?
On me or someone else? I like my men in briefs, but I certainly wouldn't scoff at one in boxers. As for my own undies, those "boy cut" ones aren't too bad.

Old Trek or Next Generation?
Classic Trek. Next Generation is fine to watch, but it lacks that wonderful cheesiness of the original.

Kirk or Riker [which is less creepy]?
Kirk was more amusing than creepy.

Top or bottom?
Of what? If it's bunk beds, I want top. If it's, well, you know, I still want top.

Fries or Chips?
I've had to give both up because of the fat content, but I still salivate whenever I smell fries.

Beef or pork?
Tough choice. But a juicy 6oz. filet mignon is hard to beat.

Celine Dion or rat poison?
In deference to Dan, I'd better choose Celine.

New Coke or Maalox?
Hmmm. Possibly Maalox??

War on Terror or War on Drugs?
Both are un-winnable. And ineffectual. But the War on Drugs is pointless, so I'd reluctantly go with Terror.

Pizza with or without pineapples?
Since my dietary restrictions, the gluten free crust plus sauce max my carb limit, so no pineapple. But in the "good old days" of real pizza, I would actually eat them with ham, pineapple and green olives.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Can selling a house cause OCD?? 

Because I've been doing a lot of things lately that are very unlike me. It seems everywhere I look in my humble abode, I see dirt, dust, something unsightly that wasn't there the day before. I mean, last night, I took a toothbrush to scrub the edges of all the faucets in the house, and the night before, I found myself using a hand vacuum to get the dog hair off the bed! I'm even considering scrubbing the INSIDE of the washing machine! I'm starting to feel like Lady McBeth! Out, out, damned spots! When did I go from clean to never clean enough??

A friend of mine told me that when she was trying to sell, every time someone would use the restroom at her house, she would grab the Lysol and Mr. Clean immediately so she could scrub the toilet. I thought this was funny and a bit over the top. And then I realized that I've been practically chasing Chip around with a bottle of Windex! EVERY SINGLE DAY, I've had to clean his nose prints off the sliding glass door. And I find myself going from room to room looking for things that might be amiss. Part of the reason for this paranoia is that I'm stressed, and my memory completely sucks right now, so I don't trust myself that I didn't forget to clean or put away something. I have to admit it would be kind of embarrassing if someone came for a showing and there in the spare bedroom are my undies on a drying rack.

I think the other part of the problem is that I haven't gotten the virtual tour video set up yet. I want everything to look its best, but every day that I wait, the more cedar bedding Chip brings into the house stuck in his fur (which naturally falls out onto the carpet), the more times I must scrub the sink, the more dust insidiously deposits itself. Once I get that little movie of my house online, I feel like I can relax a bit. And the cleaning service starts on Thursday. I think that will certainly save my sanity. Then I can just concentrate on normal stuff like dishes and laundry instead of when did I last dust the book cases.

I miss my old lifestyle, the cluttered but comfy one. The one when I seldom forgot to take my meds because the pill minders were sitting right on the countertop where I couldn't miss them. Where I had some 300 music CDs to choose from instead of the 50 or so that are on display. The life that meant not losing important lists and documents because I tidied up and forgot where I stashed them. I hate scrubbing dishes by hand immediately after meals five times a day instead of letting them sit in the sink until the end of the day and then doing just one washing. I hate realizing that I've already put in storage something I need and that I either have to do without it or get a new one. I hate making the bed; I always figure I'm gonna be back in it in a few hours, so why bother? Most of all, I hate the waiting. It's like getting all dressed up for prom only to be stood up by your date.

If anyone needs me, I'll be the one in the corner in the ball gown with a toilet scrubber in her hand.

Selling, buying, doctoring, pup patrol..... 

Sorry I haven't updated in awhile. Have been trying to stay off the computer (at least for things that require dial-up) until later at night, and then when that time comes, I'm usually too exhausted to type much. I want to stay off the phone so I can be reached if someone wants a tour of the house. I turn on the cell phone when I leave the house, but I have to turn it back off again when I'm in a doctor's office, so I don't know if it's very effective as a backup number.

Last Saturday, I went to my stepbrother's house for an early Father's Day celebration/barbecue. We had steaks. I was careful to eat just half of one, enough to enjoy but not so much that my stomach would have trouble (more trouble than usual, I mean). I also had a little salad (both the pasta salad I brought and the regular kind), half a baked potato, and a bit of cantaloupe. And then I found out there was ice cream for dessert! I was probably already past my carb limit, but I had a few bites with some chocolate syrup on it. The entertainment for the day was my niece. She has her very own small plastic swimming pool and a Winnie the Pooh swimsuit! She's quite the mermaid. She also has a miniature Mickey Mouse captain's chair with a place on the armrest to hold a sippie cup. One of her favorite activities is to make faces to see if anyone laughs. Makes me wonder if she will be either a comedienne or an Olympic swimmer.

On Sunday, the furniture was moved back onto first floor of the house from the garage. Now, it actually takes a week for the finish on the hardwood floor to completely cure, and I'd only had it done on Friday, but I was afraid I wouldn't be able to round up enough people to move things if I waited, so I cheated a little: I put felt pads on every single item, every chair, table, speaker stand, etc. Everyone wore white cotton socks under their tennis shoes and took off their shoes before walking on the hardwood floor. And everything that was moved was picked up and set down exactly in the spot it needed to be....no sliding stuff around on the floor. The entertainment center was a challenge because even though it has wheels, the floor wasn't dry enough to just roll it into the living room. So I bought castor pads with felt on the bottom, and those were put under the wheels. And my sister had a silk tree that she didn't want anymore; we put it in the corner of the living room for decoration. I admit it isn't really my taste, but it does go with the silk flowers and gives the place some much-needed color. My sister, her husband, my stepbrother and his father-in-law were all there to move stuff. And my aunt came by and mowed the lawn and trimmed the bushes in the back yard, which was very much needed.

On Monday, Chip got a walk thanks to my neighbor/friend, I did aquacise and then went to the physiatrist for my final visit. The good news is that my muscles are now symmetrical and are holding the SI joint in place. The bad news is that the arthritis in my spine from the Sjogren's seems to be getting worse. Ideally, I'd be repeating the lidcocaine/cortisone injections in my SI joint sometime in the next week or two, but the old insurance is running out, so I'll have to wait until I get to Sioux Falls under the new insurance to have it done. So I was told to continue my stretches, aquacise and Gazelle workouts until then.

Tuesday, I had my final visit with the gastroenterologist. I'm just going to continue what I'm already doing for my gastroparesis and reflux as all the reasonable alternatives have been tried. She did suggest trying to sneak more easy to digest fiber in my diet, like maybe cooked carrots. I bought a few cans of gluten-free soup at the grocery and will see how well I tolerate them.

The house is now in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) real estate system. The realtor put the sign in the front yard on Wednesday along with 100 brochures! In addition, she gave me some packets for anyone who wants to make an offer. It basically includes a disclosure statement as well as earnest money requirements and such. She took some still photos of the front of the house that will go in future brochures as well as online. As for the virtual tour guys, they are a little backed up right now but should be setting up a time to do the video in another day or two. I hope they call and get set up soon because if my house were any shinier, it would be radioactive, heh heh.

While I was holding down the fort, Dan was car shopping in South Dakota. Since we have so little money to spend, I'd thought he was going to get something that would get good gas mileage. But he decided upon a sport edition V6 Pontiac Grand Am even though the insurance would cost more (it's still about half as much as we're paying here). The good thing is that it is only 10 years old with 100,000 miles on it, and it has anti-lock brakes, airbags and traction control.

Found out something interesting while reading a Social Security Disability blog. I will actually qualify for Medicare next February! The two year waiting period begins with the last day you were able to work, which in my case was January 31, 2005. At least I THINK that's how it goes. Anyway, I will sign up for it even if Dan has medical insurance, just in case something happens to his coverage (Medicare is considered secondary insurance if your spouse already has a policy). That way, I won't get stuck with the "pre-existing condition" dilemma. Also, it might take up some of the slack if Dan's insurance won't cover some of my meds. I really don't know much about it yet or understand it, but it's something to think about.

Here's something absolutely hilarious: I got a "Ticket to Work" packet in the mail from Social Security a few days ago! I haven't even started getting my regular monthly benefits yet, and they're already trying to give me incentives to go back to work! Talk about putting the cart before the horse! I don't know what sorts of jobs I could train for if I couldn't even handle the one at the Agency. But I put the packet in the fireproof box as it doesn't expire, and maybe I'll feel better enough to use it....in a few YEARS!

Am still keeping Chip upstairs most of the time. The floor is probably finished curing by now, but I want to keep the downstairs as clean as possible until the virtual tour is done. I do put blankets down for him to walk on when he heads outside for potty and play breaks (you should see him rolling on his back in the grass....it's hilarious!) And since the house can be shown at any time now, I put Chip in the garage when I have to go to an appointment. His kennel is out there, and I block out a little extra space for him with baby gates and put his water dish in front of the kennel. I feel guilty keeping him upstairs, so I'm still eating my meals on a TV tray in front of the computer chair over the plastic mat so I won't spill anything on the carpet. Chip is getting groomed next week, so after his toenails are properly trimmed, I'll start letting him roam the downstairs more but might encourage him to keep watching videotape movies with me upstairs. So far, we've watched "The Green Mile", "Il Postino" (Italian), "Dead Poet's Society", "The Wedding Singer", "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", "Titanic", "Amadeus" and "Casablanca". Unfortunately, my copy of "Amadeus" is quite poor: the video kept flipping around, and the audio cut out in places. I wonder if that movie is available on DVD??

Went to the chiropractor's on Thursday and got my neck and upper back adjusted. The neck only popped a little, but right between my shoulder blades, it sounded like lots of gunshots! I guess the accident mis-aligned me there more than i realized. I also got a full hour massage. I am going back in three weeks to make sure I have stayed aligned.

I also went to the rheumatologist on Thursday. I am doubling the amount of anti-inflammatories I had been taking since it helped me so much after the accident (don't worry.....I'm not taking an unsafe amount). Believe me, I'll need the extra relief once I get to South Dakota. He suggested I make an appointment with a new rheumatologist as soon as I get a card for the new insurance, even if the house hasn't sold yet. The idea is that with the wait for an appointment being so long, I'll probably have plenty of time to get moved before I can see the doc. The rheumatologist was kinda bummed I was leaving; it feels weird that I won't be seeing him anymore since I've been his patient for six and a half years.

Yesterday, I had my final appointment at the endocrinologist's. Actually, I saw her assistant. Basically, I was just there to get refills on my meds to make sure I don't run out before I get situated in Sioux Falls. I've been doing that with nearly all of my medications; I've gotten either refills or new scripts for 11 medications this past week. I hope I'll get the house sold before the refills run out because I don't know what my new insurance will do in that situation with my docs being in a state they don't cover.

Today, I had intended to just rest, but the weather was cool for once, not the usual 90 plus degrees, so I decided I would get rid of some of the weeds in the back yard. Unfortunately, I discovered that Dan had put the dandelion digger in storage, so I ended up going to the hardware store to get another. I also found one with an extended handle so you can use it standing up, so I bought that one too. Then, since i was already out, I hit Wally World. Note to self: do NOT buy three six packs of Boost and 500 sheets of printer paper on the same shopping trip! It fits into the electric cart ok, but at Wal-Mart, they do not help you put stuff in the car, and you can't drive the cart out of the store, so you've gotta haul whatever you bought by yourself! I was staggering out to my car and just barely made it. My arms are sore now from trying to carry that much weight at once. Duh. I did manage to pull weeds for about 20 minutes or so until a thunderstorm came rolling in; that's ok because 20 minutes is about all I can do without being sore the next day. So I will save the rest for tomorrow/future days as necessary.

Need sleep. Will report again from the command center if/when anything develops house-wise.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Rest in peace, Dr. Gantz 

Got an e-mail today from my local fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue support group. The doctor of many of the support group members has died. I was fortunate enough to meet him last year and greatly enjoyed one of his presentations. He was hilarious, charming and intelligent. He was the foremost expert on CFIDS/ME in our area and one of the few who truly seemed to understand the profound implications of the illness, so the loss is great for that reason alone. I will never forget him. I have posted below an article from a local newspaper:

Cancer claims beloved Boulder physician

Nelson Gantz known as a brilliant, eccentric man

By Ryan Morgan, Camera Staff Writer
June 21, 2006

Dr. Nelson Gantz, the chief of infectious diseases for Boulder Community Hospital, died of cancer Tuesday in Boulder. He was 64.

Gantz's friends and colleagues said they're going to miss an intelligent, friendly and sometimes-eccentric man.

Alicia Maltzman, a nurse practitioner who worked closely with Gantz, said he was a "brilliant" physician who had an uncanny ability to find his way to the correct diagnosis.

"He could figure out the key to any puzzle," Maltzman said. "He taught me everything I know."

Gantz helped lead the response when West Nile virus swept into Boulder County in 2003. He was able to help patients cope with the often-baffling neurological symptoms the disease left in its wake, Maltzman said.

"He had a very calming presence," she said. "He validated the way you felt, and he understood that what you were feeling was real. I think that's a rare quality in a physician, to be able to empathize with patients the way he was able to."

Gantz also helped to identify and treat another little-understood illness, chronic fatigue syndrome. He was one of the authors who wrote the official "critical case definition" that explains the disease. He was also author or co-author of 77 medical journal articles, and he contributed chapters on infectious diseases to 81 medical books over the years.

Despite his accomplishments, Maltzman said, Gantz was an accessible, friendly man who liked to perform card tricks to put his patients at ease.

"I had several patients tell me that they'll never forget the first time they met Dr. Gantz," she said.

Patti Sedano, a hospital spokeswoman, said Gantz always had time for laughs.

"You'd finish up with business, and he'd say, 'Hey, do you want to see a trick?'" Sedano said. "He reminded me of Patch Adams — he always had a smile on his face."

Jamie Jensen, director of primary care services for Boulder Community Hospital, said Gantz was "an extraordinary human being."

He was garrulous and loved the spotlight, she said, and was "passionate about medicine."

"The community as a whole and our organization as a hospital has suffered a huge loss with the passing of Nelson," she said. "His accomplishments are many, and his medical expertise is going to be missed."

Gantz started working for Boulder Community's Beacon Clinic in 2003. Before that, he was chairman of both the Department of Medicine and the Division of Infectious Disease at the Pinnacle Health Center in Harrisburg, Pa. Prior to that, he was a professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, Mass.

An avid runner who jogged three or four miles daily, Gantz completed the Boston Marathon at least 10 times.

"Nelson was known for his signature bow tie, infectious and perpetual smile, therapeutic use of humor and card magic for patients and families, and his uncanny skill, intelligence and instinct for targeting the most difficult and uncommon infectious diseases," his wife, Roberta Gantz, said in a statement Tuesday.

Gantz's other survivors include a son, David Gantz, of Florida; a daughter, Kimberly Gantz, of Boulder; his mother, Francis Elson, of Southfield, Mich.; and a sister, Arlene Ondrisek, of Rochester, Mich.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Ryan Morgan at (303) 473-1333 or morganr@dailycamera.com

Bonus Rave of the Day for June 21, 2006: 

Another good blog entry. This is from a disabled man who would give just about anything to be able to go back to work. I sooo understand the feeling.....

To Work or Not to Work?

Believe me, doing something I could be proud of and actually get a monetary reward for sure beats the hell out of feeling invisible and useless as I do sometimes.....

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Rave of the Day for June 21, 2006: 

Ran across this post tonight, and it really struck a chord with me. You see, I needed to do some minor yard cleanup the past few days to get the house looking nice for the real estate listing photo, and I was scared to death that my long-term disability insurance company was going to film me outdoors as "proof" that I was physically capable of going back to work. Never mind that I was in tears from pain later that night as a result of the extra exertion. That part of the equation never makes it on camera. Anyhoo, take a gander at this:

Can You See a Disability?

Want to post a longer update on my life, liberty and the pursuit of home sales, but my routine is completely taken up with cleaning/appointments/collapsing right now. Once the virtual tour has been generated, I should have more free time, and I'll regale my faithful readers with whatever my foggy brain can generate.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Time enough at last..... 

No, the apocalypse has not arrived (at least I don't THINK so.....I haven't watched TV in several days, heh heh). And I can still read just fine (for those of you who know which "Twilight Zone" episode I'm referring to). But my hardwood floors are being worked on right now, which leaves me stranded upstairs with actual time to blog. It's a pain in the ass to do all this stuff to the house (and I'm spending money like water), but I have to admit it's gonna look great when it's all done.

Holy guacamole! So much has happened since my last update that I'll have to repeat what I did before with a summary followed by as much description as my hands/sore neck and shoulders will allow. And I'm even foggier now than before, so I cannot guarantee that what follows will be intelligible, heh heh.

June 7: belated birthday party and lots of cleaning
June 8: handyman, day 1
June 9: handyman, day 2 and physical therapy
June 10: can't remember, but there was probably cleaning involved
June 11: ditto, plus I had to give Chip an allergy shot (ewwwww!)
June 12: got estimate for floors, set up date to list house, had EVERYTHING removed from first floor
June 13: put car in body shop, got rental, dental work
June 14: aquacise and phone calls
June 15: appointment/errand day from hell
Today: bug spray and floor polish

Went to a place called (I think) Texas Roadhouse June 7th for my brother-in-law's belated birthday. I ended up getting him a Blockbuster gift card from Walgreens because I had no time/energy to shop. The restaurant was great! The waiter checked with the cook to make sure my food would be safe before he placed my order. They have 6 oz. filet steaks there that are TO DIE FOR! Very tender. I also had mashed potatoes and salad.

My neighbor/friend came over on Wednesday to scrub living room and dining room walls and mop the hardwood floors. I worked (carefully) on the bedroom walls and baseboards and the kitchen pantry doors. Some areas wouldn't come clean where the oils from Chip's fur had actually become part of the paint!

The handyman guy was here Thursday and Friday. He did lots of stuff: patched up the chipped sinks, re-sealed the tub faucets that had come loose, re-sealed the loose countertops in the bathroom and kitchen, re-painted the medicine cabinet, filled nail holes and applied touch-up paint all over the house, replaced the toilet lids, replaced the damaged windowsill and sealed off where it had been leaking, touched up the banisters, made sure all the towels racks were secure, applied caulking where it was needed, fixed the sliding glass door latch, waterproofed the fence, etc. He even mowed and edged the lawn and pulled weeds! The house is looking much more presentable now.

Somewhere around this time, the ants came to my back porch for a party. I'm not kidding....I went to let Chip outside for a potty break, and there were HUNDREDS of ants right by the sliding glass door! It looked like one of the plagues on Egypt, for heaven's sake. I'd had the house professionally sprayed not quite a month ago, and there was a 90 day guarantee, so they came back today and re-sprayed. I think it should work this time. The last thing I want is to have a night-time showing on the house with a sea of ants to greet potential buyers.

Over the weekend, I managed to get the living room and dining room finished at least with my neighbor/friend's help. She also scooped poop and cleaned the outside of the sliding glass door. She was gonna do the outside windows and front door too, but it got dark too soon.

On Monday, the hardwood floor guy came by to assess the situation. I opted to touch up rather than completely re-sand the floor as some areas still look new and I don't have the time/money for sanding. For some reason, I thought that they could just touch up the dining area so I would only have to move the table and chairs into another room, but then, I found out that in order to get the floor to match properly (they are going to tint the sun-faded areas), they have to do the ENTIRE floor at once! That means taking EVERYTHING off the kitchen, dining room and great room floors. Ack! The work was scheduled for today, so I started to make some frantic phone calls. The only day I could get enough able-bodied friends and relatives avaialable at the same time to move the furniture was Monday night. This was ok as it gave me a chance to clean the enormous dust bunnies that were hiding under the china hutch and entertainment center, but it also means I was without a TV or stereo. So no "Boston Legal", "Lost", "My Name is Earl" for me (at least they were all reruns, heh heh). I threw all my laser discs, vinyl albums, remaining videotapes, music cassettes and music CDs into boxes and had them taken upstairs so they wouldn't be affected by the heat (it has been over 90 degrees nearly every day). The furniture was put in the garage, and I just parked the car in the driveway. Thank goodness I had enough stuff in storage already that there was room for the remaining stuff from downstairs. Still haven't quite lined up relatives to move the furniture back in on Sunday (everyone's got various obligations as you would expect), but we'll see how it goes. I did fiddle around with the last remaining TV in the house (it's in the bonus room) and discovered I can sort of get one of the stations to come in, if one doesn't mind watching "Family Feud" with a lot of static. Even better, I have a VCR hooked up to it (I was using it for the instruction tape for the Gazelle machine), so I can watch the few videotapes I have upstairs. I watched "The Green Mile" in bits and pieces, finishing today. Excellent.

With the floors being ready for foot traffic by Monday, I have decided that the house will be listed on Tuesday come hell or high water. I can't believe it has already taken me this long just to get the place fit to sell. I'm still not done cleaning (I still need to clean the hutch once it's back in the kitchen, need to spray the outside of the first level windows with Windex, and do last-mintue touch ups to carpet, master bath and kitchen)! But I should be ready by the 20th for sure.

Once the house is on the market, I have hired a cleaning service to come in once a week to keep it nice for showings. I simply can't clean fast enough to have it ready on spur of the moment whenever someone wants to take a tour. It will take all my energy just keeping myself alert enough to be able to drive someplace during showings.The cleaning people will be coming by on Thursday mornings, so I asked my realtor to not do showings during that time. It should take them about two hours each time. They send three or four people. I warned them about Chip. I'll probably put him in the garage so he won't be in the way.

Got ANOTHER filling and crown Tuesday, and I'm not done yet! I need one more crown in three weeks. I'm trying to get as much done as I can while I can because Dan's new employer doesn't have dental insurance. We're gonna see about continuing it on COBRA for as long as possible. Between the nerve pain in my face and the TMJ, it hurts like a son of a you-know-what.

Well, there was one benefit to this whole car wreck thing. One is that I got to drive a Toyota Camry LE for a rental! Sweet! It glides like a dream. I would love to buy one except even the used ones are about twice what I could afford.

Went back to aquacise Wednesday for the first time after the accident. My neck and shoulder still hurt, especially when I have to turn my head all the way in either direction, when I type and when I talk on the phone, but they are better than they were the first few days after the wreck. Don't know how I will feel once I go off the muscle relaxants and the extra anti-inflammatories, though. I could use a few visits to the massage therapist and possibly a chiropractor.

Well, I did manage to get approved for SSDI, but the long-term disability company has decided to limit my benefits, so I'm gonna come up about 300 dollars short a month of basic living expenses at some point. The LTD guys have decided that:
a) I have somatoform disorder (yeah, right!)
b) my fibromyalgia consists entirely of "self-reported" (not objectively proven) symptoms
c) my Sjogren's and other health conditions are not disabling
d) I can work a sedentary job as long as I spend less than a third of the time typing (they couldn't deny the carpal tunnel problems)

I contacted a lawyer Wednesday who specializes in LTD insurance cases. Actually, he's the partner of the lawyer who helped me win my SSDI case. He's gonna help me decide whether I have a strong enough case to fight the LTD guys. On the one hand, company has two bogus tests that "prove" I am not as sick as I say I am, plus a new clause in their contract that limits claims based on "self reported" symptoms. That clause has not been successfully challenged in court yet, so I may be SOL. On the other hand, I have the federal government saying I'm disabled, an impressive list of doctors who agree, and a lip biopsy, endoscopy, EMG, sleep study and blood work (thyroid, glucose, CRP) that cannot be disputed. Sent the lawyer all my correspondence from the company as well as a copy of my policy. I also enclosed a list of all my docs, two pages worth. I shouldn't have any problem getting the rheumatologists to vouch for me as they have been doing so all along, as have my gastroenterologist doc, my ENT and my primary care doc. What we need though, is to refute the "Independent Medical Exams", both the Functional Capacity Exam and the neuropsych exam. I think this can be done since I've been going to physical therapy for three months for my right SI joint, and I've been going to a licensed clinical psychologist for a year. Both can vouch that I am not faking and that there is no way I could hold down a job. The big sticking point might be the "self reported symptoms" clause in my contract. It may take years and megabucks to fight that. I will only proceed if the lawyer thinks it will be worthwhile.

Haven't lined up a new rheumatologist yet. There are only four in Sioux Falls covered by Dan's new insurance. I've been asking around on message boards as to whether any are particularly good with Sjogren's/fibromyalgia (a lot of rheumatologists won't even take fibromyalgia patients now), but have gotten no response. I may just pick one at random next month when the new insurance kicks in since the wait to see one is so long that I will probably have sold the house by the time the appointment rolls around. I wonder if there is a way online to check a rheumatologist's credentials?

The two Sioux Falls houses we are interested in are still for sale (there were three, but when we found out how low our asking price on our own house was gonna be, we had to eliminate the most expensive one). Dan hasn't arranged any tours with realtors yet because we can't make any sort of offer until our home is under contract. He'll probably start going to open houses and stuff in a few weeks. Right now, he needs to focus on buying a car because he has no transportation except his parents and friends. If only our Saturn wasn't totaled in January! Buying the current Saturn took up quite a bit of savings we'd been saving up for a second car. All we can afford right now for a second car is something at least 10 years old and/or high mileage. I'm hoping we can at least come up with something that runs for a couple of years.

Yesterday was the appointment/errand day from hell. First, I had to go see the sleep specialist because he had cancelled the previous one at the last minute. I am going to try a few new sleep aids and continue to take the Baclofen periodically when the muscle stiffness/spasms get unbearable (and when I don't have to be very functional, heh heh). While I was at that appointment, the body shop called and told me my car was ready, so I had to go return the rental Camry and pick up my Saturn. That gave me about an hour to go home, check more voicemail messages and sort through the snail mail and then go to my therapist appointment, which had also been re-scheduled due to a conflict. After that, I needed to get my dad a Father's Day present, send the lawyer the paperwork he'd requested, and get some cash so I could get some lunch before I passed out. I did Boston Market: rotisserie chickie (yes, I'm evil and eat the skin), roasted potatoes and cinnamon apples. Then I went to my last appointment, physical therapy that had also been re-scheduled because of a conflict. I was sure my legs would collapse out from under me while I did my 10 minutes on the treadmill, but I made it despite massive pain levels. But my legs did sorta turn to jello while doing other exercises, so I had to cut it short and go back to doing stretches. This was my last visit, so I'm gonna report back to the physiatrist on Monday. I wish I could get the injections in my back repeated, but that will have to wait until after I move.

Ooh, ow, ugh. Hurting and dozing off. Will check back in when I can.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Rave of the Day for June 12, 2006: 

Been meaning to post a link to this blog for awhile. Stumbled upon it, believe it or not, while doing a search on "split foyer" because I kept seeing the term in Sioux Falls real estate descriptions (it basically means a bi-level house). Anyway, I was most amused to discover this from a former Californian turned South Dakotan. Enjoy!


Good stuff from a professor with a sense of humor. And I admire his taste in music. Check it out.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Bonus Rave of the Day for June 10, 2006: 

Found another excellent blog entry today which I thought worth posting here. There are enough similarities between this man's situation and my own to almost be eerie:


Please also take the time to read the rest of the blog as it is quite well written. I will also add it to my Links list at some point.

Rave of the Day for June 10, 2006: 

Thought I'd pop in for a moment in between bouts of weak attempts at cleaning and give a link to an article that appeared in the "CFIDS Chronicle". While these solutions for treating cognitive dysfunction are geared toward people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME, I'm fairly certain they would also apply for those with fibro fog and autoimmune-related problems.

10 Solutions for Daily Life: Cognitive Tips

I want very much to provide a lengthy blog update, but the injuries I acquired from my fender bender on Monday are making it painful to type, so we'll hafta see how it goes. Sigh.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Rave of the Day for June 7, 2006: 

It's past my bedtime, but I wanted to post a link to a blog entry that I think everyone should read. It just broke my heart that this gifted man must endure so much hardship. Makes my recent string of bad luck look pretty bearable in comparison.

Just When You Think It Can't Get Worse

Take a peek at the rest of his blog if you have the time. I like his style. I'll probably add it to my Links list (along with several others) when I get the chance.

Taking it easy? What's that?? 

I did think of one possible reason for me being in that accident. If I hadn't been at that stop sign at that particular moment, instead of hitting me, that woman would have gone right into the intersection and into onccoming traffic! Someone would have been seriously hurt then.

I am always amused when a doc tells me to take it easy after an accident. I got five phone calls before noon today from claims adjusters, auto body company, etc. I also had to file a police report, get an estimate for the car, arrange a rental vehicle for next week when my car is in the shop, all today.

I had other obligations today too. I had an appointment with my sleep specialist. I got there, though, and they informed me that the doc had had a personal emergency and would have to re-schedule. So I go back in a couple of weeks. While I was there, though, I filled out a release for my medical records since I will need to take them with me when I move. I also went to Wally World for cleaning supplies. I need more Simple Green, but couldn't find it there. After a short break at home where I conducted some more phone business, I sent Dan's portfolio to South Dakota (he forgot to take it with him) and got a belated birthday gift for my brother in law. And now Dan wants me to write a cover letter for a job he wants to apply to.

The damage to the car appears to be slight. They will know more once they remove the bumper and get a good look at the frame, but if they don't find anything else amiss, it will only take a day to fix. I have to pay for most of it because of my deductible, but I am hoping to get reimbursed for that and the doctor bills eventually by the other lady's insurance.

I'm a hurting unit tonight, but it's not as bad as I feared it would be. Probably shouldn't go around re-arranging any of the furniture right now, though. I'm thinking that maybe because I got into the doc the same day and started treatment right away, I may have averted a potential fibromyalgia disaster.

Now if I can get dredge up the energy to take a shower....

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Was going to my aquacise class this morning when it happened. Was stopped at a stop sign a few blocks from my house with my left turn signal on, waiting for traffic to clear, when this woman rear-ends me going about 30 miles an hour! I soooo did not need this.

I was furious! I was in a bright red car at a stop sign! How could she not see me?

Unfortunately, whenever I am in an accident, my brain completely fogs over, and I cannot think of what I am supposed to do. I wrote down the woman's insurance info, address and phone numbers, but forgot to get her driver's license number or her tag number. And my hands were shaking so bad that I could barely read what I had written later.

She told me her car had no damage, and I couldn't see any to mine at the time because, frankly, my car was filthy. And I had so much adrenaline going on that I didn't feel injured. So we didn't call the cops, and I just drove back down the street to my house because I was too rattled to drive anywhere else.

Then, when I'd had a minute to calm down and think more clearly, I looked at the car in my driveway, this time cleaning the dirt off the rear bumper. Sure enough, there's more than just a scratch there. So I decided to call my insurance company.

While I'm wading through the insurance company's automated system trying to reach a live person, I start getting a pain in the left side of my neck. Uh oh. I've been in enough accidents to know that I must have tweaked a muscle or two, so I decided I'd get checked out by my primary care doc too.

So in addition to all the chaos of trying to get the house ready to sell, I need to find time and energy to repair the car. I'm hoping it just needs a quick fix. I'll be taking it to get an estimate tomorrow afternoon.

Managed to get squeezed in at the primary care's docs office. No real damage to my neck or shoulder, but they are VERY stiff and sore, and thanks to Mr. Fibro, the pain wants to migrate everywhere. I'm supposed to take it easy until the end of the week.

Unfortunately, I can't tolerate pain meds, so the doc had to get creative. She prescribed Valium, which might sound weird, but it does seem to be helping me relax the muscles without making me dopey. I still hurt, but not as much as before I took the med.

I'm also temporarily increasing my anti-inflammatory, and I'm applying ice, which seems to help. The doc (who knows me and fibro really well) said I can expect to feel worse tomorrow and even worse on Wednesday, but then I should start feeling better after that. I know it's not very useful to question things like this, but I can't help but wonder why this happened now with everything else going on.

Probably shouldn't type any more tonight.

I'm hoping that in a few weeks things will have improved enough for me to wonder what in the world I was so stressed about.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

I think we've made a terrible mistake. 

It has been ages since my last entry, partly because I've been so damned busy and partly because Dan got mad at me for spending so much time blogging rather than using the computer for useful things like house hunting, finding new docs, etc. in Sioux Falls. At any rate, I could probably type for two days straight and not get to everything that has gone on the past few weeks, so I'll start with a summary and then elaborate as much as my sore hands and poor memory will allow. Will mention right here, though, that I've already collapsed from exhaustion and Dan is already having trouble with his new job, so we are not in a good place right now.

On to the review. Let's see:
1. Friday, May 20: went to going away party.
2. Don't remember what I did during the weekend or on Monday. Packing, probably.
3. Tuesday, May 23: met with the realtor.
4. Wednesday, May 24: went to the mountains.
5. Thursday, May 25: had a root canal.
6. Friday, May 26: Dan's parents arrived.
7. Saturday, May 27: packed storage units.
8. Sunday, May 28: re-arranged the house.
9. Monday, May 29: Dan left.
10. Tuesday, May 30: phone calls and errands.
11. Wednesday, May 31: sorted through what Dan left behind.
12. Thursday, June 1: Dan started new job.
13. Yesterday: Cleaning lady failed to show.
14. Today: breakdown.

The going away party was both fun and sad. Probably 20 of us showed up at a bar near our old job. None of the people who were recently laid off have another job to go to (although one is going to try running his own business). We ended up sitting in a non-smoking section, so I didn't suffer too much from second-hand smoke. I did go too long without eating, though; even though they did have a menu, there was nothing on it that was safe for me to eat. People were coming and going at different times and we were waiting for someone who never showed, so I stayed there longer than I was expecting to. And shhhh! Don't tell anyone, but I did partake of an alcoholic beverage. Just one, because more would interfere with my meds too much. Good thing tequila is gluten-free, heh heh. Anyway, it was great getting to talk with everyone, but it sucked having to say goodbye because I know I won't see them ever again. We did exchange e-mail addresses, but that won't quite be the same. And I won't be making as many friends after I move because I'll be house-bound a great deal of the time. That's the way things go, i suppose.

We met our new realtor on May 23rd. I like her. She's been doing this for 20 years, so she knows her way around, but she also is up on the latest technology, so we will be getting plenty of internet exposure (360 degree virtual tour available on three websites). She brought a CMA (comparative market analysis) with her so we could get a look at what our competition is and decide what a good asking price would be for the house. Unfortunately, there are 10 other house with floor plans identical to ours for sale right now in our own neighborhood, and some of these have been foreclosed upon, so they can be bought for a song. Also, among houses idential to ours that have sold in the past six months, most have had to drop their price, and two took as long as nine months to sell! Ack! So in order for ours to have any hope of selling, we have to start with an asking price about $20,000 below what the house is worth! That's about $5000 less than the tax assessment of it. And we need to be willing to drop it another $5000 if necessary. I was hoping we'd be able to make enough profit from the sale to pay off our credit cards, but it doesn't look like that's gonna happen. The worst part, though, is that it could take as long as four to six MONTHS to sell the house!! I was soooo not prepared for that. I have no idea how I'm going to be able to keep up with maintenance on it that long. Or how I'm going to be able to take care of myself, let alone Chip, for that long. I wish we had the time to replace some flooring, completely repaint, etc., but that would significantly delay getting the house on the market, and I need it sold ASAP. However, I face the possibility of it not selling at all if I don't make some cosmetic fixes, so I am taking the time to do that much and am hoping like crazy that it pays off.

Dan and I decided we'd better take a day off together while we still had the chance, so after Dan helped move our spare bed over to our next door neighbor's house, he and I jumped in the car and drove to the mountains. It's pretty sad that I live just two hours from Rocky Mountain National Park but cannot drive myself that far, so that's where I asked Dan to take me. We had to take a small detour to Boulder on the way because that's a really long time to sit in the car, but we made it up there about 2pm. I had my digital camera with me. I could have gotten better animal pix with my film camera (they take faster photos, but I knew I wouldn't have the time or energy to get the film developed, so I made do with the digital. Actually, it didn't turn out too badly. There were elk grazing just inside the border of the park, and the weather was quite cooperative (none of the usual afternoon rain showers). Dan obliged me by stopping at every single roadside pull-off so I could document the scenery. Probably not terribly exciting for him, but he knows it's one of my fave things in the world. It was a bummer that I didn't feel well enough to go on any of the hiking trails; I really miss that. But I did far more walking than usual just getting out of the car at each stop and photographing whatever could be seen from, say, within 250 feet. There were some occasions where I was too wiped out to get out of the car, and then Dan would take photos for me. He's pretty good. We saw a fair amount of wildlife besides the elk including chipmunks, marmots, ground squirrels, magpies, blue jays, Clark's nutcrackers (a type of bird). We even saw two beavers! I also heard frogs and hummingbirds. I was hoping for a glimpse of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, but no such luck. The scenery was astounding: still enough snow to cover the peaks (in fact, it was higher than the car in some places), but not so much to close the road. They had managed to plow all the way through just a few weeks before. Impressive at an elevation of 12,000 feet. Anyway, I took up so much time taking pix that we didn't have time to get through the whole park, so we just turned around at the summit and came back down so we could see more elk before sunset (right before sunset is when they're most active). We really lucked out with that because most of the other visitors had already left, so we had nearly unobstructed views of the elk. We got some pretty decent shots of does crossing the road, so I was happy about that. Even though I was exhausted to the bone, I had a good enough time to somewhat make up for that chaos that followed.

Had to return to the real world the next day. The main item on the agenda for me was a root canal. Have to admit that going to an endodontist was an excellent idea because it only took an hour. The regular dentist usually takes twice that long. They used nitrous oxide, which got me relaxed faster, but also made me nauseous. At one point, they had to stop working because I was sure I was gonna hurl. They eased up on the gas some, and I got better enough for them to continue. I was quite relieved when they were finished, thinking myself finally free from dental work for awhile, but then they reminded me the filling on that tooth was only temporary and that I still needed to get a crown from my regular dentist! Ack! So now I have to be in the chair again for multiple hours on June 13th. And I will have to dig up more hundreds of dollars as I've maxxed my dental insurance for the year again. Why do I feel like an instrument of torture lately?

Friday, May 26 was extremely busy. Dan went and picked up some of his medical records while I waited for the appliance repair guy to fix the stove. Luckily, it was an easy and relatively cheap fix. Then I got to go to physical therapy while Dan took all the packed stuff from upstairs down into the garage. When I got back, we had some storage units delivered to the house. Shortly after that, Dan's parents arrived from South Dakota. Dan's mom started cleaning blinds and windows. I think I was still finishing up the de-cluttering. Dan's parents decided to stay at a motel. While part of me felt bad about that, part of me was relieved because the spare bedroom still needed some major work, and I was in no shape to cook. After Dan's parents went back to the motel for the evening, Dan and I talked about how his final regular paycheck from the agency hadn't arrived in the mail. He called work and found out they had sent it to the foreman! So he arranged for a co-worker to bring it by the house the next day. While trying to figure out where his money was, I called my credit union's automated system to check deposits to our account. Was I ever surprised to discover a deposit for over $8000! I knew the agency didn't owe us that much, so I figured out it must be my Social Security backpay. I hadn't gotten a notice of award to confirm it, but I kept an eye on the mailbox, and sure enough, it arrived several days later. The only bummer was that I knew I didn't get to keep the money, that most of it I owed to my long term disability insurance company. Very surreal, knowing there was a great deal of money in my account but knowing it wasn't mine.

Last Saturday, Dan took the boxes I'd packed and put them into the storage units. I stayed in the garage most of the day to direct traffic and to pack up stuff we uncovered in the garage. Dan's parents cleaned blinds, windows and bathrooms. Our friend from work came by about 4pm with Dan's check and helped with the boxes. We only ended up filling two of the five units that had been delivered; you can actually fit a surprising amount of stuff in a 5x7x7 space. One thing that really sucked was that the units shifted a bit as they were filled (didn't help they were in our slanted driveway) and then wouldn't close properly. Our friend had to jack up one end with a 2x4 while Dan tried to line up the bolts in the door. When it was finally finished, we were all beyond exhausted. Dan's parents took Dan and I to dinner at the Outback. I had pork chops, which were difficult to eat on one side of my mouth (I'm not supposed to chew on my temporary crown). But they were delicious anyway.

On Sunday, we got a surprise at noon. I was expecting only my stepbrother and Dan's parents to show as everyone else had uncertain plans, but my dad and stepmother arrived too. And a bit later, my sister called and told me she and her husband had acquired a trailer to haul away my garage sale stuff! So I had eight people to help me out instead of the four I was expecting. I had originally just planned on having people remove the garage sale stuff from the house, but my stepbrother had some ideas on how to stage things to look better, so they ended up re-arranging four rooms. And they were able to move solid oak bookcases WITHOUT removing any books! And they even cleaned the floors behind the things that were moved, which I really appreciated. My stepbrother had suggestions for me for where to add more silk flowers and how to make the house smell good during a showing. Traditionally, people bake cookies to create that "homey" smell, but now you can get candles that smell like food! I have problems with the smoke from candles, but there's a way around that too. I ended up buying a candle warmer, which heats a jar candle from the bottom without lighting it. So I have a candle that makes my house smell like cinnamon rolls. Pretty cool, eh? I also arranged for a friend of my stepbrother's to clean the rest of the house on Friday. Sunday evening, Dan packed up the stuff he was taking to South Dakota and brought it downstairs so he could put it in his parents' SUV first thing next morning.

And first thing was right. I got up with him at 5:45 in the morning even though I was violently nauseous and so out of it I barely knew my own name. But I had to make sure he didn't forget anything and that I had all the keys to the house, the checkbook, etc. Also wanted to check on Chip because he had started limping the night before, not on his back legs like before, but his left front one, which was new. He was still limping, but the vet's office was closed for the holiday, and he was still able to put some weight on it, so I decided just to keep an eye on it. Went back to bed because I was really sick from being up so early. When I got up about three hours later, Chip seemed better, and by evening, he had completely stopped limping. Because of the holiday, I couldn't make any calls or run any errands, so I spent the day re-arranging. Dan hadn't been able to bring everything with him that he had wanted to, so the leftover stuff had to be put somewhere in a way that wouldn't cause too much clutter. Also, I had to re-distrbute the stuff in the closets to fill in the gaps left by what Dan took with him. I also found boxes of stuff Dan had either forgotten about or didn't know what to do with. So I started cleaning those out too.

On Tuesday, I had business to conduct. I called a company that restores hardwood floors without re-sanding them, hoping they could get me in quickly. But they were pretty backlogged. The earliest appointment I could get was June 12th! So much for getting the house on the market right away. But I think it is important to get the floors touched up as the sun fading in the dining area is pretty obvious. I also made a list of odd jobs that Dan didn't have time to do before he left and called up a handyman company to see how many of them they could do. Turns out they'll even waterproof my fence for me! Yay! And they'll be able to come out on the 8th. I also picked up meds for the pup at the vet and got more silk flowers at the craft shop. And I continued re-organizing the closets as well as tidying up the command center and washing stuff like the shower curtain cover, area rugs, the covers to Chip's dog beds, etc.

Wednesday, I went to aquacise even though I was exhausted. I also returned to the craft store as I had forgotten some items and went to the hardware store to replace the wire cutters Dan had packed away and to replace some plastic fasteners on the bed headboard. The old fasteners had broken, and the glass in one of the cabinets in the headboard had fallen out. I spent the rest of the day with phone calls, making flower arrangements, fixing the headboard and working on the various tidying projects.

Thursday, I got a massage (extremely necessary by this point) and had my annual mammogram. I don't care much for the mammograms as the fibromyalgia makes this procedure fairly painful, and I always have to have at least one of the scans repeated. Apparently, even though I'm only medium-sized, the tissue is fairly dense. At least they didn't find any new cysts this year, so I didn't require an ultrasound. That night, I took a break and watched the spelling bee! Yes, the annual national spelling bee was televised on ABC, live, for the very first time. Way cool! And much to my surprise, I saw someone I recognized! The man who was pronouncing the words for the kids to spell was none other than Jacques Bailey, the guy who took second place in the Colorado/Wyoming spelling bee the year I was in it! He went on to win the bee the following year AND won the national bee for good measure. He hasn't changed much....same feathered blond hair, geeky glasses, conservative tie. At least his voice is a whole lot deeper now, heh heh. Anyway, even though I now have trouble visualizing words in my head, I still did remember a few of them from the bees I was in, and I was even able to spell a couple of them correctly before they were shown on the screen. And I still do have a knack for figuring out how to spell something based on its language of origin. Yay! Those kids were brilliant! Gave me hope for the nation's future, that there are still some literate children amongst the millions who are not inclined to ever pick up a book. These days, when you think of a geek, you think of someone who knows how to fix a computer. But there are still some old-school geeks like me around, the ones who like to memorize the dictionary. And there was a big time girl power vibe going on. The top three finalists were female. Second place went to a Canadian (the contest is open to all primarily English-speaking areas), and the winner was Katharine Close from New Jersey. She correctly spelled "ursprache" for the win. I hope they continue to broadcast the bee every year. I concluded the evening by cleaning out the linen closet.

Also on Thursday, Dan started his new job. It was basically just orientation that day. He met something like 16 department heads, impressive until you find out that many of those departments consist of just one person, heh heh. There's probably 50 people working there total, pretty tiny compared to the 1800 people employed by the agency (which consisted of 4000 employees before the merger). He found out there's a 90 day probation period before he is eligible for benefits, which is really gonna mess with our budget because we'll have to shell out about $4000 in COBRA benefits in the interim! Ack! Also, there is NO dental coverage! They may be changing that soon, so we'll continue the COBRA on our dental until the new company starts coverage or until we exhaust the COBRA. The other stuff is pretty standard: one week vacation, four sick days a year, holidays off, an hour for lunch, regular business hours plus overtime if necessary.

Then yesterday, things began to unravel. First of all, the cleaning lady didn't show. I got up at 8am to be ready for her, and I felt sick as hell. Luckily, my neighbor friend came by about an hour later to walk Chip, so I didn't get up for nothing. But I didn't have a number to call to find out what happened, and when I called my stepbrother last night to see if he new what happened, I just got his voice mail. I need to get the house clean before the handyman guys show up on Thursday. They're gonna be patching up the scuffs on the walls, so I can't have a bunch of cobwebs everyplace. I can't very well put a dirty house on the market, either. Luckily, my neighbor friend offered to help me out when she can. Trouble is, she's transitioning to a new workplace and is on the job pretty much every day of the week. So I decided last night to see what I could clean on my own. I started with the master bathroom, which Dan's dad cleaned on Sunday, but I noticed there were still cobwebs on the walls. I decided right away I would just have to leave what I couldn't reach safely, like the window above the tub. There's no way someone with neuropathy and vertigo should be putting a ladder in the bathtub and scrubbing over her head. Even so, I was amazed to discover how dirty the bathroom had gotten in only five days and ended up re-doing a lot of stuff. After I scrubbed all the dirt off the bathroom door (which had apparently not been cleaned in a few years), the back spasms and carpal tunnel started up and never let up, even after a dinner break and a shower. Crap. I tried to gently vaccum the master bedroom closet as there was dog hair about an inch thick in there (weird because the dog never goes in there) and do just one load of laundry, and that about did me in. I ended up taking two Baclofen and 3mg of Lunesta so I could get a bit of sleep.

But if I thought my day was poopy, Dan's was even worse. His first real day of work was yesterday, and that didn't go well. First of all, they had failed to tell him that they sometimes use Multi-Ad Creator, a software he had never used before. They had him working on ads in that software, and no one offered to train him or give him any pointers. They just expected to figure it out by himself. Secondly, the office is all really bright fluorescent lighting, which gives him migraines. He got a headache within an hour of starting his shift to the point where he was vomiting and had to leave early. Not exactly a good first impression. So Dan is gonna try and see a doctor on Monday, which will mean he will miss work on only his second day. I'm not sure what kind of accommodations they would be able to make at his new job since all the computers are in a common area. I suggested he attach some black cardboard to the top of his monitor to block out the light, creating a kind of tunnel he could look through, which would look weird, but might help. Dan is frustrated, though, as he has been seeing doctors for years about his migraines with no real progress, and now he's in an area with fewer specialists. He's actually considering looking for another job already, one in a field where he wouldn't be forced to sit directly under a fluorescent light 40 hours a week. I don't know what to tell him.

Today, I've pretty much been useless. I got up at 9:30 to give Chip a potty break (we've removed the dog door again and so have to let him out via the sliding glass door) but could not stay alert at all. Fell back into bed, tried to get up several times but couldn't, talked to Dan in bed when he called me and finally dragged my ass up at 1pm. Did my stretches, but I can barely stand long enough to make myself a meal. This, my friends, is what's commonly known as a flare, and I think I'm in big trouble. Have been packing, cleaning, running errands, making phone calls, going to appointments, etc. pretty much every day for three weeks. And it has caught up with me. I'm stuck trying to sell the house in one of the worst markets in the US. I must be freakin' crazy to get myself in a mess like this.

Right now, I fear we really screwed up. I'm simply not well enough to handle a household by myself, and Dan may not be able to handle a routine office job if he can't figure out a way to quell those migraines. It may not be the end of the world, but I already miss the relatively non-chaotic life we had, even with Dan on the brink of layoff and me fighting for disability benefits. At least then Dan and I were together, which made it much easier to deal with.

Now what???

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