Saturday, August 30, 2008

One more Rave of the Day for August 30, 2008: 

Last but not least, here's the moment all the Democrats at the convention waited for. Lengthy but worth watching....

Barack Obama's Acceptance Speech

I now return you to my regularly scheduled blog....

Bonus Bonus Rave of the Day for August 30, 2008: 

Had to dig around a bit to find this. Short but very sweet speech....

Surprisingly well done for someone who had brain surgery recently. Don't think I'd be able to pull off anything like that.

Bonus Rave of the Day for August 30, 2008: 

Tacky but hilarious. Thanks to Dr. Karen for this one....

Does McCain really think disgruntled Hillary voters are going to switch to his party just because his VP choice is female? Given the past two elections, I suppose anything's possible, sigh.

Bonus Rave of the Day for August 30, 2008: 

One of my all-time fave funny ads. This suggestive Swedish gem has a surprise ending....

Boy Toy

Have actual news to blog, but so far haven't had the energy to put a post together. Maybe tomorrow....

Rave of the Day for August 30, 2008: 

Impressive endorsement. Worth watching if you haven't already seen it....

Still plan to watch Ted Kennedy's speech if I can find it. Did see Obama's live last night, but will probably post it anyway because it was too excellent to not share.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Rave of the Day for August 29, 2008: 

The folks at Very Funny Ads had another show on TV last night. Here's a hilarious (if a bit racy) spot I found on the website from the Czech Republic....

Styx Boxer Shorts

While you're there, check out the other international ads. Those are usually funnier than the American ones....

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Insurance companies shouldn't play doctor.... 

Ack, this seems to be an epidemic. This is the ninth time, I think, that a doc has had to send my medical insurance company a letter of medical necessity regarding one of my medications. This time, they decided that no one can be on generic Ambien longer than 90 days, and they won't cover ANY other sleep aid!

What's annoying is that I've been on some form of Ambien for a total of five years. I took it from 2002 until 2005, when a sleep specialist decided I had developed a tolerance to it and switched me to some other meds. Both Lunesta and Sonata worked great for me, but when I went on my current insurance plan in 2006, they wouldn't cover either of them, just Ambien CR. So I did that until generic Ambien (Zolpidem) came out, and then insurance would only cover that. Now they don't want to cover it at all! What are people with permanent sleep disorders supposed to do?

Fortunately, my poor overworked primary care doc is not only appealing the denial for me (she's a true gem), she found some samples to tide me over until the insurance company gets back from their holiday weekend. So at least I won't be losing any sleep over it, heh heh.

I realize they're trying to cut costs, but geez, these stupid blanket policies are more of a hindrance than a help to people with chronic illness.

Bonus Bonus Rave of the Day for August 28, 2008: 

Hillary's best speech. Ever.

I still haven't taken a peek at some of the other speeches, but they're pretty easily found on YouTube. Plan to check out Obama's speech live.

Rave of the Day for August 28, 2008: 

I may have posted this funny before, but it's worth a repeat. Got it from feathers....


If my body were a car, this is the time I would be thinking about trading it in for a newer model. I've got bumps and dents and scratches in my finish and my paint job is getting a little dull ... But that's not the worst of it.

My headlights are out of focus and it's especially hard to see things up close.

My traction is not as graceful as it once was. I slip and slide and skid and bump into things even in the best of weather.

My whitewalls are stained with varicose veins.

It takes me hours to reach my maximum speed. My fuel rate burns inefficiently.

But here's the worst of it --

Almost every time I sneeze, cough or sputter...either my radiator leaks or my exhaust backfires!

Bonus Rave of the Day for August 28, 2008: 

In case you haven't seen it yet, here is Michelle Obama's speech in Denver. I thought it was excellent....

Haven't found a link to Hillary Clinton's speech yet, but I plan to take a look at it tomorrow maybe. Am too burned out after the Olympics to sit around watching hours of convention coverage, but I'll try to keep up on the highlights at least.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rave of the Day for August 27, 2008: 

Saw an article on TV about this site and just had to check it out. The "Geezers" are a man and a woman who have been in the film industry for several decades and have decided opinions about what's currently in the theatre....

Reel Geezers, Official Site of the Reel Geezers Movie Reviews

Speaking of reviews, I just finished writing a book review for But You Don't Look Sick. I needed a break from the depressing business of preparing for a new rheumatologist appointment and an eventual Continuing Disability Review from Social Security. Nothing makes you feel all bright and shiny like describing in great detail how you can no longer do most things you used to due to illness, sigh.

Oh, and I have not forgotten about the movie reviews I was writing about the stuff I've seen on my DVR since April. I just haven't made much progress on them as I'm trying to get stuff done that has a time limit on it prior to calling the carpenter next week to arrange the re-construction of my basement, something that will probably keep me offline for awhile.

Wonder if I'll still be expressing my opinions to the general public when I am a geezer?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Rave of the Day for August 21, 2008: 

Popping in between marathon Olympics viewing sessions with news of a local athlete. Is it just me, or is it ironic that someone who competes in track and field is named Miles?

Derek Miles qualifies for Olympic finals

Have truly seen some historic moments this Olympics, some of them live, like the women's beach volleyball gold medal win, which was AWESOME! Also awesome were Dara Torres, Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, Mr. Lightning Bolt, Johnathan Horton, and of course MICHAEL PHELPS!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Chip D. Dog is blessed.... 

If any dog needed a blessing, it would be Chip. So yesterday, Dan and I decided to take him to a Blessing of the Pets service at the church we usually go to. I was a bit nervous about the idea, because even though Chip does fine around people (if you don't count excessive licking and sniffing, heh heh), he has never been properly socialized around other animals, and other dogs in particular don't seem to like him much.

The service was held on the lawn behind the church, so we brought folding chairs to sit on and set up far enough away from the nearest dog so as not to invite trouble. It was a beautiful day, if too warm (hey, it IS August). I don't think Chip had ever been in a crowd before, so he was plenty thrilled with the sounds and smells of at least 50 people and probably 30 critters (there was one hamster and two rats and the rest were dogs).

Chip had many human admirers who came over to pet him. Older folks especially seemed to be drawn toward him. He was thrilled with all the attention and minded his manners for the most part.

Chip did come into contact with a few other dogs, but nothing happened other than polite sniffing. I was quite relieved. He even behaved himself while we waited our turn for the blessing.

The pastor thought he was adorable! I could hear other people in the congregation murmuring about how pretty he was. He stood like a pro during the blessing, like he'd done this many times before.

That afternoon and evening, at home, Chip seemed much more peaceful than usual (he has been anxious due to being in pain). He wasn't limping at all. He even played with a toy and spent some time in his kennel, which he hasn't done in months.

Today, after I had let him outside, I saw a rabbit on the other side of the yard. Knowing how much he likes to chase them, I pointed it out to him, but he couldn't see it, so I had him follow me, telling him to look straight ahead. About halfway across the yard, he suddenly saw the bunny and trotted toward it, and after it ran away, Chip turned around and looked at me and wagged his tail.

Don't know how many more days we have with him, but the past two have been especially good.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Rave of the Day for August 16, 2008: 

The following is probably offensive to many, but I laughed my ass off anyway. Courtesy of Robert....

Truth be told, I've seen YouTube clips more tasteless than that. Although for pure hilarity, I still prefer Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator".

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bonus Rave of the Day for August 15, 2008: 

Disappointing news for those of us salivating at the thought of a November release. Thanks to Dr. Karen for the link....

"Harry Potter" Movie Disappears Until Next Year

Now, I have read rumors that the real reason for the postponement is to avoid having the movie release at the same time its star, Daniel Radcliffe, is appearing in the lead role of a stage production of "Equus". Hope it's not true, because it's not like Radcliffe is doing anything disgraceful; he just happens to be in a play containing some disturbing subject matter that has nothing to do with Harry Potter.

The seemingly endless battle for fitness.... 

I reached a milestone today, at least the best I've done in two years: 15 minutes on the Gazelle glider. Yes, I know it's only half the amount of exercise the Sioux Falls rheumatologists I've seen so far have pushed me to do, but, hey, you gotta start somewhere. There are plenty of people with autoimmune disorders and/or fibromyalgia who cannot exercise at all.

For me, it's real progress. I hadn't been able to use the glider at all for a year because of shortness of breath that I now know to be exercise-induced asthma. I had to start all over again (my best time ever was 25 minutes in May 2006) with a measly five minutes in March that was surprisingly painful and not surprisingly exhausting.

I am frustrated, though, that is has taken me five months to increase my time by only 10 minutes. You know how they say to increase a workout in baby steps? Well, this has been more like amoeba steps.

And today's victory seems a bit hollow. At the 12 minute mark, I was getting more spasms than usual, and during the last minute, my feet went numb. And I am so weary I can hardly put one thought in front of another, a sure indicator that I'm gonna have to back off a bit.

But according to Tony Little's annoying video, I have progressed from the beginner to the medium level (or whatever he calls it - I'm too wiped out to remember exactly), which is something, I suppose. It's just tough to be patient with myself. But if I can work my way into doing 15 minutes consistently, I can remind myself that I have tripled my time since I started, which sounds more impressive, heh heh.

I'm hoping that I will have added to the time before I see the new rheumatologist September 22. I want to be told by a specialist that I am doing a good job instead of being criticized for not getting a cardiovascular workout (I still can't exercise hard enough to raise my heart rate past 90 or so). I am still doing aquacise three days a week in addition to the other three days a week on the Gazelle, so that should count for something.

What's sad is that exercise is considered a "cure" for fibromyalgia, yet my progress doesn't seem to have helped it one bit. It's a Catch 22 because poor tolerance of exercise is a feature of fibromyalgia, so doing too much can actually make it worse. What the so-called experts have failed to grasp is that the definition of how much is enough varies wildly from patient to patient, so tossing out a guideline like 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity three days a week might work for someone with a mild case who is already fit, while someone with a severe case could land themselves in the hospital doing the same workout.

Wonder how these "experts" would fare if they had to do the same workout while, say, fighting a severe case of the flu? Still wouldn't hurt as bad as fibromyalgia does, but the fatigue level might be comparable. Maybe we could make them work out during a migraine or something?

Ok, now I'm flaky enough to be getting silly. No self-respecting medical "expert" would be caught dead using a Gazelle, heh heh.

Rave of the Day for August 15, 2008: 

Naturally, a parody like "Baracky" deserves a sequel. Thanks to Dr. Karen for the link to this, appropriately named "Baracky II"....

Almost makes me wanna run up a flight of stone steps and do a victory dance, heh heh.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Rave of the Day for August 14, 2008: 

Ran across these informative posts and articles while doing some research on Continuing Disability Reviews from Social Security. I'm not gonna go into detail on each one separately, but will say that both the disabled and the healthy could benefit from reading them....

Reporting Social Security Disability Fraud - before doing so, read this first

Can You See a Disability?

Social Security lacks staff for follow-ups

SSI and Chronic Pain

SSI and Pain

Getting Equipment Gets Harder

Can't imagine the Social Security backlogs are going to improve any time soon. In fact, they'll probably get worse first.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bad news for Chip D. Dog.... 

Was awakened this morning by a call from the vet. She said the specialist analyzed the x-rays, and the lumps on Chip's head are one of two things: either a rare condition whose technical name I forget that basically means uncontrolled calcium growths, or a tumor. Either one requires surgery if he is to get better.

The specialist is inclined to believe it is the calcium condition but noted it is usually only seen in young dogs. Normally, it is harmless, but this is an extreme case, and the growths are now so large they could be pressing on Chip's brain, which would explain his confusion and running into things. If nothing is done, it will continue to grow, and if he were to have surgery, if they didn't get all of it removed, it would grow back.

The specialist also checked out the x-rays of Chip's hips and said he really needs a complete hip replacement. If he does not have the surgery, he will eventually get to the point where he cannot walk at all. He's already at the highest safe daily dose of pain medication, so we cannot increase it if it is no longer enough.

Aside from the tremendous cost of two surgeries versus one, there is the issue of who would even do it. No one in South Dakota does this stuff. He can't even get a CT scan in this state, which would be crucial to determining whether his brain and/or optic nerves are being impinged upon.

I don't even know how we would get Chip to Ames, Iowa or Minneapolis. I can't drive that far, and Dan wouldn't be able to take a weekday off without risking losing his job (it was quite a gamble for him to take me to the Mayo Clinic last December and January). But even if we were to get the logistics figured out, we are probably talking thousands of dollars that we don't have for invasive surgeries that may not make him permanently better.

Which brings us back to Chip's quality of life if we can't do the surgeries. Sunday, he was in such bad shape that he showed absolutely no interest in going for a walk, which has never happened before. He no longer plays with his toys or plays games with us.

But wouldn't you know that just as I'm deciding Chip's reached his limit, today he seemed to be feeling better. He had some energy, ate all his food, followed me around wagging his tail and asked for tummy rubs. It's like he was saying he wasn't done with this world yet.

So Dan and I discussed it and agreed that although we'll do our best to make Chip comfy, we'll just have to play it by ear as far as how much worse we'll let him get. For now, he's getting around reasonably all right, especially since we have completely prohibited him from using the stairs the past three days. But when he gets to the point, whether it be in days, weeks, or months, that he is no longer able to engage in his favorite activity, which is sniffing every square inch of the back yard, it will be time to euthanize him.

I wasn't foolish enough to expect Chip to live forever. But I was hoping we'd have a couple of years left. I just hope that somehow Chip is able to let us know when to let him go.

Rave of the Day for August 13, 2008: 

Latest article from the CFIDS newsletter that sends me e-mails. The first is about research regarding genetic bio-markers that seem to be common in the disease....

Study Identifies Potential Gene Markers

And this one is about the possible connections between immune dysfunction and the virus that causes mono (which I had TWICE)....

EBV Study Sheds Light on Immune Activation

It seems we are getting ever closer to putting those accusations of "it's all in your head" behind us. About damned time....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rave of the Day for August 12, 2008: 

The man who was my English professor in college is enjoying a second career as an actor and playwright. Now one of his plays will be performed in New York!

Lawrence playwright's work showing in NY

It's awesome that so many people I have known are achieving success in their endeavors.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Rave of the Day For August 11, 2008: 

In case you haven't seen this gem yet, here's shocking proof that Paris Hilton has a sense of humor. Clip courtesy of Dr. Karen....

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

The guys at Funny or Die also have a hilarious send up of drug ads....

See more Adam "Ghost Panther" McKay videos at Funny or Die

I wonder if the next video will have something to do with John Edwards?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sometimes it just doesn't pay to leave the house.... 

Lately, I've been so brain fogged that I need my own lighthouse, heh heh. But yesterday was even worse than usual. And all I did was go to the drug store.

I was getting three new prescriptions and refilling three I had phoned in the previous day. While I was waiting for them, I picked up some other items from a list I had filled out specifically to take advantage of some sale prices. But I found out that the sale had ended the day before, and I had forgotten the date.

I did notice that Boost had a two dollar off coupon attached to it, so I snagged a six pack. I went up to the counter to pick up my meds and pay for everything, and it was only then that I noticed I had grabbed the wrong kind. I went back and exchanged it even though I was getting tired.

I then proclaimed I was ready to check out, but the total at the register seemed wrong. Not too high, but too LOW. It was then I realized I had forgotten to tell the pharmacist that I was picking up refills too.

Got a check written for the new total and headed out of the store. It was at the car when I remembered the two-dollar off coupon for the Boost! I was so wiped out and aggravated with myself that I nearly decided to just go home, but I'm too short of cash to not need two bucks, so back into the store I went.

I sheepishly asked the lady at the front register if I could still use the coupon and not have to go all the way to the back of the store where the pharmacy is. The manager had to help her out, but they did give me two dollars back in cash, which was very nice of them. I returned to the car and drove my dragging ass home.

After some rest, I set about putting everything away. That's when I noticed I had gotten the WRONG type of glucose meter lancets! By then, it was five minutes past the time the pharmacy closed.

I managed to talk Dan into going back to the drug store today for me. I'd already made enough of a fool of myself in person for one weekend.

And people wonder why I don't go back to work.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Face to Face(book)! 

Believe it or not, I caved in to peer pressure and joined Facebook. Mainly this was so I could play Scramble, an online version of Boggle, online with my college buds. Of course, I have not found time to play....I keep getting distracted by all the shiny buttons on Pieces of Flair, heh heh....

Anyway, if you are in my address book and belong to Facebook and haven't had me seek you out as a friend, there's a good reason for that. Apparently, Mac e-mail address books aren't compatible with Facebook's automatic search feature. Eventually, I do intend to go through my address book manually and see which of you are doing the Facebook thang....

For those of you who are curious, here I is:

My Facebook Page

At first, I didn't think I would be that interested as I am not searching for romance, do not have a job or my own business and am not in school. But the toys on Facebook are addictive as hell. It a really great time-waster, heh heh.

Other advantages: I ran across someone from high school I hadn't seen in six years. I did my very first instant message conversation this past week, which was cool. And I can post UNLIMITED pix!

But I need to balance this with projects I have started that are calling for my attention. For instance, I need to finish up my charts of my various medical tests and update my bio before I go to the new rheumatologist. And I think it would be a good idea to be prepared for a Continuing Disability Review from Social Security by reviewing a copy of the form (I'm sure I can find it online) and typing up appropriate responses as it would save me a lot of energy come review time (they generally want the form sent in immediately).

I haven't forgotten my movie reviews, but I admit I haven't worked on them since I started playing with Facebook. I do want to get those going again so I can post them relatively soon, maybe within a month? And I think it wouldn't hurt to do another quick review for But You Don't Look Sick?

Who knew a person who cannot work could actually find this much to do?

Desperation breeds medication..... 

Update on my last health-related post: that migraine I described lasted a total of SIX DAYS! Certainly not the first time that has happened, but it was enough to make me decide to go to my primary care doc. Besides, I am due for a Continuing Disability Review by Social Security, and I haven't have a doctor documented my condition since January, which could cause Social Security to discontinue benefits if not remedied.

So on Tuesday, off to the doc I went. I dragged my feet about it because I've tried damned near everything for pain and/or fatigue without success, and I hate wasting a doctor's time. But I came in anyway with a full typewritten page describing the extent of my current symptoms because if a doctor doesn't put somewhere in my medical records that I'm still sick, Social Security will wrongly assume I must be all better now, even if the reason I skip the doctor is because they can't do anything more for me.

It was difficult not to cry in front of the doc. Not because I'm depressed, but because unbearable pain and fatigue levels tend to make even a person who's normally cheerful collapse. Thank God she attributed my emotional state to the proper cause and didn't tell me that what I really needed was a shrink (been there, done that).

I made sure she knew that I really am trying very hard to get better, that I am doing some form of exercise six days a week even if it is very mild by most people's standards. And that I get out of bed every single day if it is physically possible. And that I still do things I enjoy even when I can't leave the house.

Surprisingly, she had a suggestion for the fatigue: Ritalin. I tried Provigil a few years ago without success, but she said this one might work differently for me. Knowing how I am the side effect queen, she wrote me a prescription for a dose one would normally give a five-year-old.

Also, she gave me a sample of a brand new anti-inflammatory patch, one that's not supposed to be as irritating to the skin as most patches (I'm allergic to most adhesives). It contains Diclofenac, a med I took several years ago but developed a tolerance to. She thought that maybe enough time had passed that the med might work again, and this would be a higher dose than before.

I have mixed feelings about trying new meds. On one hand, I'm excited there is a possibility that I might get some relief, maybe even enough relief to function better. On the other, I have been disappointed a myriad of times before, and I am on sooooo many meds already.

I will take the cautious route as always, trying the meds separately so that if I develop side effects, I will know which med is the culprit. I'm gonna try the anti-inflammatory patches this weekend (I always try a new med on the weekend so if it doesn't make me feel so good I won't miss any aquacise classes), and I'll give the Ritalin a shot the following weekend.

And as always, I will read up on the meds before I start on them. I find RX List to be most helpful for that. I'm already aware that Ritalin has potential for abuse, but I don't have a tendency toward addiction.

Wish me luck?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Chip D. Dog has the vet concerned.... 

We took Chip to the vet on Saturday because he was limping so badly from his hip dysplasia. He has also gotten stuck on the stairs, unable to climb up. He even growled at me one day when I was trying to comfort him because he was in so much pain.

The vet took x-rays; compared to the ones taken a year ago, they are about the same. This is cool because it means he has not deteriorated further, yet uncool because it is pretty obvious that he needs surgery that we can't do. So we switched him to a new anti-inflammatory and are bumping up his Tramadol by half.

While we were there, I happened to mention that in the past few weeks, Chip has been bumping into me (to the point where he causes bruises) and/or stationary objects when he turns around, that he doesn't quite clear the edges of doorways, like he's not sure exactly where his head is. I thought it might be because his back legs were so stiff and that maybe he was in so much pain that his judgment was clouded. But then the vet asked if his appetite was off, and it turns out he's lost three pounds, which is a lot for a dog who hasn't been put on a diet.

She checked his eyes, and he does have the beginnings of cataracts, but she wasn't sure that was the complete explanation for why he crashed right into the wall the morning of the appointment. She asked if the bumps on Chip's head, which we had been told were calcium deposits, had always been so large. I admitted they did seem bigger, but I wasn't sure how much they might have changed since they were last checked out.

So we did x-rays on Chip's head, and they looked like elephant man! Compared to the x-rays from November, those two lumps have probably tripled in size. How could I not have realized that??

The vet then became suspicious that those bumps might be interfering with Chip's vision or perhaps even pressing on his brain. If nothing else, they are heavy enough to cause Chip to walk with his head down, which would probably lead to him crashing into things. It might even be possible that Chip has a tumor of some sort.

Unfortunately, no one at this vet's office has ever seen anything quite like this, so they need to consult with some specialists. So his x-rays have been sent to a university to see if they can help us figure out what we're dealing with here. And because there is only so much an x-ray can reveal, if the specialists think his eyes or brain might be affected, Chip will likely need an MRI or CT scan.

So here we were thinking Chip's biggest problem was his hip dysplasia, and it might be something that a month ago didn't seem to be bothering him at all. Even if those lumps are just calcium deposits, I doubt there is much we can do about them. Which leads to the question: how much has Chip's quality of life been affected?

Unfortunately, dogs can't tell us in words when enough is enough. But I would hate to decide prematurely that Chip is done with this world. How can you tell when to try to keep a dog going and when to stop?

For now, the meds seem to be helping with his hips, and we aren't letting Chip downstairs unless Dan is home to carry him back up. But on Sunday, Chip couldn't see a rabbit in his own backyard even after I pointed it out to him. The poor pup is only 10 years old.

Wish I knew the right thing to do.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Rave of the Day for August 2, 2008: 

Did a quickie product review for But You Don't Look Sick. Had to keep the packaging handy so I could describe it as something other than "a grabby thingie", heh heh....

Product Review: Gopher II Pick Up & Reaching Tool

Still plan book reviews: I have three finished books piled up on the command center. Did start reviews of the DVR movies I've watched since April, but it probably won't be complete for quite some time as there are at least 40 movies on the list!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Bonus Rave of the Day for August 1, 2008: 

Stumbled across this whilst cruising the blogosphere. It's written by a woman with fibromyalgia, and there are some pretty good posts and articles here....

Easing Chronic Pain

I'll be adding this to my Links list as well (which reminds me: I really should break the list up into categories if I can figure out how). Check out her other blogs if you get the chance.

Bonus Rave of the Day for August 1, 2008: 

Ooh, I know I'm such a geek, but I'm so excited, I have to share. Here is the first peek at the movie for Harry Potter part 6!

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: Trailer #1

I should probably dig out the book in another month or so and read it again to re-familiarize myself with the story. It takes me so long to complete a book these days that I will want to give myself plenty of time.

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