Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hammer Time!


The friend I call CloudSharon just gave me my birthday gift early. She said I might need it before my birthday, which is October 12. I just have to remember not to throw IT at the TV!

I can imagine some of the pictures I am going to stage with my hammer already. I am not going to share these as I want them to be fresh for people as situations arise throughout the rest of football season. You probably know who you are already. ;)

My lovely LSU hammer will make a welcome addition to my LSU beer stein, rug, Tiger ears, T-shirts, hats, and stuffed tigers.

Geaux TIGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




Monday, September 29, 2008

Don't Touch That Dial

I really have changed the template for my blog. Do not adjust your television sets.

Challenge

Yesterday, I signed on for a Weight Watcher challenge with my online buddies. It is pretty straightforward. Stay within POINTS and journal. A friend is taking on my exercise component because of the counterproductive nature of trying to exercise with MG.

Through a discussion with the man who did my stomach testing last week, I realize that the constant sipping and nibbling I tend to do actually play a part in reducing reflux pain. I am hoping to get some answers this week, and hopefully a treatment that is more effective in keeping the pain under control. Trying not to "medicate" the pain is Challenge Hurdle #1.

Prednisone is Challenge Hurdle #2. I am on double the amount I have been on during past challenges. It greatly improves the quality of my life, but causes me to want to eat. My dosage is not huge, but I can tell the difference in my appetite with the increase.

Challenge Hurdle #3 is OCD. I have been getting bad lately about nibbling at night in an attempt to calm my intrusive thoughts. The worst of my symptoms are under control with two medications, but I still have periods of "breakthrough" symptoms that I doubt will ever totally go away. Medicine pretty much keeps my relatively mild OCD behaviors under control. The thoughts are another story. I have never attempted a challenge when I am having this much OCD trouble, but I need to try.


Despite the hurdles, I am going to give this challenge my best shot. A combination of the aforementioned and a lovely vacation have left me unable to fit into much of my wardrobe. And, with the holidays coming, it is just going to get worse.

Bring it on!












Click

Just like that, the nasty, intrusive thoughts have stopped. At least for a while. What baffles me is that I don't necessarily DO anything. They just go away. It's kind of like flipping a light switch. It is different from worry, but hard to explain how. It is easy to "justify" worry. There is no justification for barrages of thoughts that make no real sense and are not rational.

But, for now, my head is "silent."

And I am savoring the silence.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

OCD

**************Angsty Post Alert************** :P

OCD stands for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. It is an anxiety disorder that, for me, primarily manifests in intrusive thoughts more than compulsive behaviors, although I do struggle with some of those too. I was diagnosed with OCD in 1993, but I know that I have had it all my life. Anti-depressants can help OCD symptoms, but nothing totally eradicates them. Therapy also helps, but again, does not make OCD "go away."

The intrusive thought component of OCD can make a chance remark assume larger than life proportions. Like a snowball, it grows larger and larger until it takes up much more space in my mind than it deserves. I try to use my skills at disputing irrational thoughts and sometimes it works. But, other times, OCD is stronger than I am and it wins for a while. Compulsive behaviors, like overeating, can calm the voices for a while, but those create their own problems and are no solution.

I love Fall. Fall brings my birthday, my anniversary, and my second favorite (to Easter) holiday, Thanksgiving. But, for some reason, it seems to intensify my OCD as well. Fighting it just exhausts me, both physically and mentally. To coin a phrase, it drives me nuts! :P

Karen vs. OCD.

I plan to win.








Saturday, September 27, 2008

13


Drama Queen.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Finally!

Bill and I have been trying for several years to get Sam to let us help her study. Bill has tons of patience when it comes to teaching people. Heck, HE was the one who finally taught ME to drive! And I can make studying almost anything fun, putting things to rhythms and tunes so that they can be remembered more easily.

But Sam had always resisted this until last night. She is failing pre-algebra and finally brought her book up here. Now, I am no math whiz, but I figured I could help her learn her properties. We put these things to a beat and she was hooked. Only time will tell if any of this worked, but it was worth a try.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Horoscope

I don't usually take much stock in these things, but today's caught my eye. I am a Libra, BTW. Don't everyone say "I have been telling you this for years" at once. :P


Instead of thinking about everyone else's needs, put yourself first for a change. This is not about being unconsciously selfish. It's about acknowledging that love of others begins with developing your self-esteem. If you don't take adequate care of yourself, then you won't have very much to give anyone else.



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Testing 123 (again)

I went to Jackson this morning for my stomach tests. Over the phone, I have to admit that they did not sound that bad.

I get to the office and Paxton (from Braxton) calls me back. I was in the middle of my cellphone Scrabble game, but I groggily got up and followed him to his little room. I was groggy because I could not have my customary Diet Coke this morning. I am not a fun person in the morning without my Diet Coke.

Paxton is a respiratory therapist who performs these tests. After some small talk about our respective vacations, he got down to the nitty gritty. The first test was not so bad. It involved having a small tube put in my nose and slowly lowered to my stomach as I took sips of water. I did my relaxation breathing. Not pleasant, but tolerable. Paxton kept up a steady stream of encouragement.

The second test was not fun. I have to admit, I am a nausea wuss. I hate being queasy worse than most anything. When Paxton showed me the thing (called "the introducer!") that was going to put a little camera in my esophagus, I almost said "no thanks!" But, I let him spray the yukky stuff in my throat and proceed. All his encouragement did not make this one any better, but we managed to get the camera in position.

Then Paxton hands me a $7,000.00 box that has buttons to press for (1) heartburn, (2) regurgitation, and (3) chest pain. Press the appropriate button at the appropriate time. I can do this. The bigger pain is the diary. I have to write down every time I eat, when I start and when I finish. This includes drinking. I also have to write down every time I lie down. There are not enough slots to write an average day of many small meals for me, and I am embarrassed at the thought of having to write on the back, so that will discourage me from eating unless I am really hungry.

Of course, by now I am 5 days without my stomach meds, facing 2 more, so the chest pain button is being hit pretty hard. I am not allowed to sip a drink, chew gum, or suck on cough drops. Apparently this camera is not quite sophisitcated enough to tell what is going down and what is coming up!

But, all this accomplishes it's mission, I may be able to get some lasting relief for this reflux. And it will be worth it.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Shoes

Nope, not cute new shoes for me. I just got through buying basketball shoes for Sam. She has been invited to be on the Junior Varsity basketball team at her school.

Why am I purchasing basketball shoes for a kid who does not even "officially" belong to me? Because I feel like this is an investment in her future. Studies have shown that girls who play sports tend to make better grades and are more likely to graduate than girls who don't. It is also well known that physical exercise helps keep depression at bay. The structure and discipline of being on a sports team can help girls learn skills that are valuable in the working world as well.

Even if basketball ends up not being Sam's sport, making sure she has this opportunity is worth the investment.




Saturday, September 20, 2008

AC

Yep, that stands for Air Conditioning. And ours broke down today, one day shy of the first day of Autumn and six weeks after the warranty expired. The man who sold it to us died (young) a couple of years back and no one else will come out on a weekend without charging an exorbitant fee.

Fortunately, it is only in the mid 80's right now and I can tolerate that if I keep the clothing to a minimum, drink a lot of fluids, and stay relatively still.

If LSU can beat Auburn, I probably won't really care how hot it is.

Geaux Tigers!!!

Antacids

The problem is, I can't have ANY for the next 3 1/2 days. I have been off my Protonix for 2 days already.

This is all in preparation for a couple of really fun sounding (insert sarcasm here) tests next Tuesday to try to determine why I have persistent reflux despite double doses of stomach meds, eating TUMS, and taking OTC Zantac as well. I have modified my diet and bought a bed wedge to sleep on. The head of my bed is elevated. I have drastically reduced my consumption of Diet Coke.

But, I still have reflux. And I have had it since I was in college. By my calculations, that is 30 years.

I guess I need to get DH to hide the TUMS bottles from me so I don't accidentally slip up and grab for them by pure reflex. Just have to remember to get them all. They are in my bedroom, the living room, the kitchen, and even in the van. I feel like a TUMS-a-holic.

Is there 12 step program for this?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Denied

I just got my notice. I have been denied life insurance due to my admitted history of myasthenia gravis and asthma. I was not really surprised. There are a lot of misconceptions about both diseases. In reality, neither of these is liable to shorten what should be my natural life span.

I am keeping the letter. I figure I will send it back to the company in 30 years.

With a raspberry.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fall

No, Fall does not officially begin until next Monday. However, Mississippi has been blessed with lovely Fall-like temps for the last few days. Highs in the 70's and lows in the 50's are my idea of bliss.

It has been lovely enough for me and my friend Sam to sit on the front stoop and chat in the afternoons when she gets home from school. Cool enough to open my windows and let in the breeze blow through my house. And when the weather is like this, I feel my best, and that is a treat.

Temperatures are supposed to be on the rise again this weekend, but I have had my respite.

And I am thankful.






Monday, September 15, 2008

Christmas Cards

OK, I KNOW it is early to be thinking about this. But, I normally hand make between 50 and 75 Christmas Cards every year, so I have to start now if I am going to get it done. I love sending Christmas cards. They are one of the highlights of my season.

The only problem is, this year, I can't come up with an idea that I like. I have put several things together, but they just don't "do" it for me. I have to wonder if maybe it is time to just find nice, store-bought cards. Or possibly send a Thanksgiving or New Year's card instead. Or, (and I can't imagine doing this) stop sending Christmas cards altogether.

I still have some time to come up with an idea.

But it needs to happen SOON.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wrap Up and Outtakes

Our trip went more smoothly than we ever dreamed it would. Except for getting turned around in Seattle trying to return the car and some flight delays, there were no problems. And those were very minor.

Bill got this great pic of Mount Rainier from the plane window on the flight out of Sea-Tac.






There was
a "flamingo moment" in the airport near our departure gate. (Look closely at the top right-hand corner.)








My Mt. Vernon friend had the coolest toenails in town.







And did a dandy "Sampson" impression with the aid of a couple of totem poles.








I saw that my husband's sense of humor is still intact.
(The pseudo-earthquake was not THAT bad!)






And after 25 years, we still want to hold hands.





Priceless.








Day 6: Seattle









Bill and I spent our
last day of vacation in Seattle. Since we only had one day, we concentrated on City Center and the Space Needle. It was built for the 1962 World's Fair and is one of most unique landmarks in the Pacific Northwest.










After the Space Needle, we f
ound Mecca for Sci-Fi Fans in the Science Fiction Museum & Hall of Fame!


Shhh, don't tell the picture police,
but we had to sneak a few shots.

Yep, this is Uhura's uniform from the original "Star Trek" series!






And do you recognize
these guys behind me? Warning: you are dating yourself if you do!



The day ended perfectly visiting with a Seattle area friend. She brought me a sackful of lovely PANK Seattle themed goodies, including an umbrella that I never needed! The item she is clutching is a tin a Mississippi Cheese straws. I wonder if she shared these with her family?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Day 5: La Conner

Actually, Day 5 started out in Burlington, Washington at the rockin' church of our Mt. Vernon friends. It was a bit different than what I am used to, but I have to say, I really enjoyed it. One of the highlights was singing along on a hymn chorus for the first time in months. I had been given permission for occasional, light vocalizing and I think the voice is finally back. No major singing till I see the doc in October, but this was a start. :) This worship service truly was one of the highlights of my trip.

Then we headed over to the quaint little town of La Conner, to rummage around cute shops and find good eats.
Situated
on the delta near the mouth of the Skagit River, La Conner was founded in the early 1860's and is Skagit County's oldest community. I loved the artwork on the walls of this brewpub (yes, another one!).

In addition to numerous photo ops, we saw a "smart car" close up for the first time. These neat little vehicles would be great for those like me who have fits parallel parking. I was also able to show off my scooter to a man and his wife who were considering purchasing one just like it.


The bronze statue in this picture is of "Dirty Biter" a pup who was the town pet for a number of years. He had his own barstool in his favorite pub and his own place on the dance floor and would just go home with anyone he chose to in the evening. Sounds like some people I knew in college.

We went back to steak and fresh picked grilled corn for supper, again prepared by our Mt. Vernon hostess. And for dessert, with a nod to our favorite gal from Kansas, we had PIE!




Thursday, September 11, 2008

Day 4: O Canada!

On Saturday, our friends from Mount Vernon took us into Vancouver, Canada, the land of kilometers and misspelled words. ;P It is also the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

After passing through customs, where Bill and I got to show off our renewed passports, we headed to a neat little marketplace. One of the first things I found was a booth filled with lovely jewelry and I stopped to pick up some gifts for folks back home. Next to it was a stand filled with produce so beautiful that I almost wept at not being able to take any back to the states with me. Even Bill was impressed and promptly found a stall selling cut-up fruit and loaded up a bowl with enough for us all to sample. I never thought I would want to fight for fruit, but this was that good!

After a delicious lunch and some photo opportunities (see below) we took off for a lovely spot called Stanley Park.



Stanley Park is a huge park that includes beaches, hiking and biking trails, and totem poles. It was a chilly day, but that did not stop people from
being on the beach. Brrrrrrrrrrr!




















Altogether a lovely day in a lovely country.

Day 3: Headed North

.


Day 3 found us at the AmTrak Station ready to take the Cascades train to Seattle, where we would rent a car and drive to Mount Vernon.

To my delight, trains have changed for the better since my last trip on one 20 years ago. An adorable Redcap in a uniform that had me thin
king he was going to burst into a chorus of "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" any moment, helped me get my red scooter on the train. We had real conductors in spiffy uniforms and everything!

The scenery on the trip was lovely and we got much more of a feel for this part of the trip than we would have from interstate (excuse me, FREEWAY) driving!

After our arrival in Seattle, Bill and I got our red Enterprise Rent-a-Car (the match to my scooter was a happy coincidence!) and headed to Mount Vernon where the spoiling began.

My friend in Mount Vernon had put on a spread that was worthy of the South (and that is high praise indeed.) We met her sweet DH and the adorable father-in-law
that she is always talking about. I want to be Mr. Bill when I grow up!

We talked about everything from trains to planes and made plans for the following day when we would go on our first ever trip into Canada

Portland Day 2


On our second day in the Portland area, Bill and I arranged for a tour of the Columbia River Gorge area with E & E tours. We were promised beautiful waterfalls and spectacular scenery.

We were not disappointed.

Our tour guide, Mr. Ellis, was a walking encyclopedia on all things Oregon. Who knew that most potatoes are now grown in Oregon?

We visited several waterfalls. The one in the picture above is called "Horsetail
." The highest was Multnomah, the tallest "year round" waterfall in the US. As you can see in the pic, it comes down in two stages.


Vista House at Crown Point is one of the most photographed sites along the Historic Columbia River Highway. Not hard to see why!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Portland Day 1


As promised, the travelogue begins!

Gustav cooperated and the planes were flying out of Jackson again the day after Labor Day, so we were able to be off to the great Pacific Northwest.

Thanks to my snazzy new red scooter, I was able to be mobile in the airports for the first time in many years. I had a great time zooming around the concourses during layovers between flights. Thanks to my friend Mel, for suggesting I gate check my wheels!

We checked into the 101 year old Mark Spencer Hotel in the heart of Portland's Pearl District, where the friendly staff did everything they could to make us welcome.

First on our Portland agenda was a trip to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, where a WW II diesel submarine ("boat" to submariners) was open for tours. My former submariner husband toured the boat while I played in t
he kid's portion of the museum. I went in the "Earthquake House" where I had the opportunity to experience what earthquakes feel like. I'll stick with the hurricanes, thank you very much!

After the museum, we rested up a b
it in anticipation of supper with one of my Weight Watcher Online friends, her husband, and her brother at a local brewpub. The food was good, even with Diet Coke instead of beer! Dessert was marionberry (Not THAT Marion Berry!) cobbler and carrot cake with cream cheese flavored ice cream. Yum!

After supper came the highlight of the day! A visit to Powell's Books! Rooms and rooms of books of all descriptions. And, a tall friend to reach up on the shelves to get them for me! My suitcase went home considerably heavier than when it arrived in Portland thanks to my sojourn at Powell's and the book given to me by my friend.

Loaded down with books, Bill and I crossed the street to the hotel (of COURSE I chose the hotel for it's proximity to Powell's!) to get some sleep in anticipation of our Columbia River Gorge tour the next day.









Back to Reality

I stepped off the plane to the heat and humidity of Mississippi last night. These I have not missed!

Nor have I missed the hurricane threats to me and my loved ones. As I write this, my sister-in-law is evacuating from Corpus Christi and other relatives are still dealing with the effects of Gustav. Just life in these parts.

I am still trying to put my trip into words.

Watch this space...


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Trippin'

This is by no means a travelogue, just a ahout out to people who read my blog!

Observations to this point:

Delta rocks. I have had no trouble with accommodations at all thus far.

Powell's is as awesome as everyone says! And having a tall friend willing to reach for books is even more awesome!

Q and the Hubster are adorable together.

~c can REALLY cook!

Jim is the world's greatest sport.

Being "chauffeured" to Canada is the way to go!

~c' & Jim's church rocks and I loved it!

I am tired, but holding up. Can't wait to see Carrie, Darren, and the kids tomorrow in Seattle!




Monday, September 01, 2008

Whew!

So far, so good.

Looks like Gustav is going to go to the West of us. We are still in for some rain, possible tornadoes, and wind, but nothing like it might have been. Of course, since most of my mother's family lives in the Baton Rouge and Houma areas, I am concerned for them. However, they are a bright, resilient bunch of folks, and I am sure that they have made themselves as safe as possible.

I have to admit, my anxiety level has been high these past few days. The memories of Katrina are still pretty fresh. That was one of the scariest times of my life. Not just the weather on that day, which felled trees scant feet from my home, but the aftermath as well. Of course, this time, I had much more time to prepare.

At this point, it looks like my long anticipated trip to the Pacific Northwest is ON!

Yippeeeeee!