MS and Time on My Hands

Stuck in bed again today and feeling worse and can’t get in to see my GP, so Husband took me to Urgent Care.  I saw an amazing Nurse Practitioner, who immediately upon hearing I had MS said it was most likely a flare.  She was a bit surprised I didn’t realize it and was good enough to let me know feeling this weak and fatigued could not be the result of anything else.MS logo

They ran lots of tests; glucose levels, checked for anemia, checked my thyroid function, even an EKG, since when I exert myself, say walk to the next room, I feel as though I’d run a mile and breathe very hard and fast, and my heart races.  All the tests showed nothing was wrong, helping confirm the NP’s diagnosis of MS flare.

I feel sort of stupid, and I considered this might be a flare, but since I’d never experienced this before, and hadn’t had a flare since 2009, I didn’t really connect the dots.  The Urgent Care referred me to the same neurologist I had seen and didn’t like.  I told the NP that when I went to see him before he made it sound as if he wanted to do all the tests and diagnose me again.  The NP said, yes, that would be normal procedure.  I have an appointment with the neuro on Friday.

Chateau de Gudanes, dating from the 18th Century

Chateau de Gudanes, dating from the 18th Century

Since I am basically bedridden until the neuro prescribes some sort of therapy, I’ve been playing on the ‘puter and discovered this:  http://www.chateaudegudanes.org/the-project/.

It made me think about my blogging friend, at https://justmerveilleux.wordpress.com/.  He and his partner recently relocated to France and purchased property there.  He’s posted a few photos of their new place, and when I looked at the Chateau de Gudanes, I thought of them.  Not that they purchased a chateau, but it is a grand home and very old.  I am still awaiting photos after they are all moved in.  I’m eager to see what Justmerveilleux does with decorating the place.  He showed photos of their last place and it was amazing.

Fatigue and Weakness

I’ve been feeling weak-legged and exhausted the last two days.  Sleeping more than 10 hours a night and napping up to 4 hours.  The family is concerned and so I made a dr. appointment, but can’t get in until next Tuesday.  I don’t think it’s anything too concerning, but I’m not getting much done and can barely make it downstairs, let alone do any errands, or take the dogs for a walk.  We are supposed to go up to the house Thursday and go through it with a realtor (we’re doing a short sale), but I don’t know if I’m going to make it.  The biggest question of course is what is causing this fatigue?  A bug?  MS?  Hypothyroid?  Menopause?

is-this-menopauseI had a bug for the first two weeks of January, where I was nauseous and fatigued, unable to do much, but this time the fatigue is much worse and while I have no appetite, I am not nauseous.  Of course, if it is a flu or something, there is not much I can do about it.

MS?  I still haven’t gotten set up with a neurologist yet.  I saw one a few months ago, but didn’t like him, then the insurance changed, and well, here we are.

My thyroid seems the most likely culprit.  I’m hypothyroid and already taking meds for it, so might it be getting worse?  Family doesn’t really want me to wait to see the doc, but in researching possible causes I found mention that if the fatigue doesn’t improve in two weeks to see a doc, so I think I’m ok waiting til Tuesday.  thyroidlady

If it’s menopause, there isn’t much I can do. I’ve had such a rotten time of it, and it’s not getting any easier either.  I have upwards of 15 hot flashes per day, and sweat all night, for two weeks at a time.  Sort of PMS-like, with what they call “Phantom Periods” where you have all the joy of PMS and none of the relief.  Most information you will find on menopause tells us that it usually begins by age 50-52, and is considered to last between 4-5 years by most doctors, but up to 15 years based on more recent studies.  I’ve been having issues for 14 years already, and getting more severe each year.  Two years ago I had my hormone levels checked and my Gyn told me I wasn’t anywhere near menopause based on the results.  Really?  After more than 10 years?  I really feel like I am the only woman on the planet who will still be having hot flashes and periods into my 70s, or worse!  I’m ready to have a complete hysterectomy just to get past this.

Did you know there are 35 symptoms of menopause?  Of those 35 I experience a good 30 of them.  It just doesn’t seem fair to me.  To have dealt with mood swings, depression, etc., all through my ‘reproductive years’ only to be unable to find the relief Mother Nature promised me.

On the good side of things, I have at last dropped 30 lbs!  I almost have my waist back–though I realize it will never be 26″ again.

Hibernation

Although the weather is not conducive to real hibernation (it was in the high 80s last week), I find I have been withdrawing again.  Things are good and I’m pretty sure I am happy and content, but I dropped karate and haven’t been taking any classes.  In fact, a couple of weeks ago I discovered some computer games I enjoy.  I spent hours a day on these stupid things, but was really enjoying myself, until I realized I wasn’t doing much of anything else.  I hadn’t been reading or posting and after a couple of weeks I decided that it wasn’t really good for me to continue with these computer games.  So, here I am again.happy

All in all this year has started out pretty well.  We had friends over for a BBQ the end of January for my birthday.  I turned 54 and for the first time since turning 50 I wasn’t depressed on my birthday.  We had a great time, lots of laughs, a little weed and some good wine.  For the first time since we were newlyweds we are seeing friends often.  It has greatly improved our lives.  I feel a little less like the friends are his friends (though I have known most of these guys more than 20 years).  It hasn’t been easy.  I hear the stories about their youth, the reminiscing about things I never saw or did.  It was very hard the past couple of years not to feel jealous of this group of friends.  I am still jealous, but I am no longer disturbed by it.

I think my biggest issue is that I lack drive.  Or so it seems.  But if I am content, I guess it’s ok.  Now if I would just get to the other side of menopause, I will be one happy camper.  More on that later.

Knitted Bedspread

DSC00401Here are some photos of an old bedspread we purchased at an antique store recently.  A Christmas gift from my husband.  I’d always wanted something like this, but old textiles, I have learned, can be quite expensive, so I’ve never found one I felt was affordable.  But here was this amazing piece and only $50!  On the way home  I wondered what kind of shape it was in, as we did not unfold it at the store.

DSC00397

Left side head seems incomplete.

It appeared to be complete, at least it seems as if the person making it, never quite finished, but I’m not sure.  You’ll see what I mean when you see the photos.  For example, the top right head looks finished, while the left side seems incomplete in that it’s missing the little tag.

Top right hand portion of the trim.  The head of the spread is flat, while the other three edges have a beautiful trim

Top right hand section at the head of the spread. The trim ends neatly. The head of the spread is flat, while the other three edges have a beautiful trim.

My reason for this post is to ask you wonderful people if this is a valuable textile and should be treated with special care, or if it really is worth only $50 and I don’t need to worry overmuch about my dogs laying on it.  I question the value because of the detail involved in this piece.  It is by far one of the most complicated knitted object I’ve ever seen.  I am putting it on my bed every day, but after having it only a few weeks I notice it already looks a bit yellow.  I’m worried about how to properly clean it.

There are a few flaws, some loose stitching, the apparent incomplete boarder.  I thought about taking some white thread and fixing a couple areas, but I’m not sure I should attempt it, since I’m not a seamstress, and certainly can’t knit.

One of the flaws.

One of the flaws.

Center flower.

Center flower.

I say this is knitted only because we showed a sample piece to a woman who has been knitting and crocheting for probably more than 50 years (she’s at least in her late 70s).  She said she could not figure out some of the stitching, especially the raised flowers in the center of each little block, and on the trim.  She said she was pretty sure it had been hand knitted by a very skilled hand.  It brings to mind a wedding.

Border

Border

I’d appreciate any comments or questions.  I can take more photos and even considered doing a short video of it and sending it to someone for an appraisal.  This is my first step.  I’m hoping one of you lovely people will take an interest and have knowledge about this masterpiece.

orca breaks the surface

Whale Watching

Saw the Southern California pod of killer whales (orcas) today.  It was a beautiful day.  Sunny, clear with a flat ocean.

I was excited to take the trip.  The orcas are unique in this area and it was a treat to see them, but my biggest desire in DSC00500taking the trip was to see the big whales; humpbacks and greys.  As we headed toward the open ocean, we could see just below the horizon a few big whales blowing.  I was thrilled.  I have seen whales, once from quite close, but I didn’t have a camera then, so I was eager to see more.

But we’re not going to go toward the grey whales, they are on the left and we are headed to the right.  Oh, apparently we have to go see the orcas first because we are privileged to have aboard one of the local killer whale experts.  She has been studying this pod for a number of years and ran about the boat spouting names and details and statistics, pushing her way through the crowd to get the best position for great photos. She was far more focused on the whales, than she was with us passengers.

The whales had just eaten (seagulls floating on the surface nibbling little bits of seal) and it was the perfect time to see them, since after eating they relax and play.  Mommy, two daughters, and two males who hung out further from the boat.  They sure put on a show for us,  we saw an orca breech 3-4 times, right next to the boat.  I don’t know if it was one whale that jumped four times, or if there were four different ones, but it was quite impressive to see.  It was wild to be so close to these guys!  We’re only about 15 feet above them!  After about an hour I started to get restless.  People had had plenty of opportunities for photos, and I thought we should go check on the other whales.  No dice. We sat there another 1/2 hour mostly watching seagulls, terns, cormorants, and several pelicans. Which was nice, since I’m a birdwatcher.  But you can only take so many photos of a pelican.

DSC00478At last, they announce we are turning around.  Soon we are zipping through the water, not looking at anything any more.  Everybody sat around sharing their photos, and commenting on the trip.  There wasn’t even a hint at them slowing down or turning toward where the grey whales were sighted.

All in all a good day, even if I couldn’t get a decent photo to save my life.  I am not a skilled photography by any stretch.  If I am facing into the sun I cannot see anything in my viewfinder.  No one really knows why I can’t, other people have little trouble with the screen.  Somehow, though, it is just darkness when I try to shoot.  Plus being short, it was pretty tricky to see around the crowds at the rail.  Sometimes I could crouch low and shoot between the railing, but I got more photos of the railing than anything else.  I spent some of my time holding my camera over my head, finger on the shutter and aim as best I could figure.  Not the most effective technique; I got lots of pictures of blue.  Sometimes the ocean.  Sometimes the sky.  Very pretty in their own way, but not the shots I’d hoped for.

Am I wrong to feel sort of gypped?  The day was wonderful and I feel grateful to have been able to have this close encounter with these beautiful animals, yet I feel quite let down that I didn’t really get to see anything else, really. We were  promised a view of a variety of sea life, and we did see; two kinds of dolphins, some seals and an otter-ever so briefly as we raced toward the pod of orcas.  No time for photos or a good look.  The boat didn’t even slow.

My Muse is Gone

Writing for me has always been therapeutic.  I had always written the most when my life was at it’s worst.  Until the past 6-7 years.  I’ve had some seriously rotten times these past couple years, but I am no longer driven to write.  I have been mourning this fact for the past couple years and hoping that the ideas would come again.  They haven’t.  I’ve tried, too.  I’ve picked up my novel numerous times, worked on it for a bit, then put it aside, where it now sits, dormant for 6 months.

booksMy writing was driven by a need.  Some indefinable something I had to give in to.  20 years ago I wrote nearly constantly.  I’ve completed four novels and still have two more outlined and sitting in boxes.  It’s been more than 8 years since I had anything published, and the way it looks now, I won’t be publishing any time soon.

I know it is something many artists fear.  That once they are whole and addiction-free their ability to continue their craft.  That something would change and not for the better.  Stephen King had that fear during his drinking years.  So did Jack Kerouac, and I’m sure many others whose suffering created their art.  Pretty easy to see it would be frightening to give up drink, knowing that’s when you were at your best.  That becoming whole and sober might mean the end of your career.  I think King is one of the few who managed to give up their vice and continue their success.  So it has been with me and my depression. (My depression, like it was some sort of evil pet.)  A fear that I would lose my art if I were well.

Writing was always an outlet for my pain.  It was an escape.  It kept my mind occupied on something positive.  It often held the depression at bay.  Of course these past few years of my deepest depression I wasn’t writing.  So there seems to be a limit.  I guess that should be obvious, and consider the suicides; Spalding Gray, Robin Williams, Hemingway,  John Belushi.  Now that I am no longer in pain, my ‘talent’ such as it was, is gone.  Is it gone?  Is it the ability that is gone, or just the desire that has left me?

I think sometimes if I just disciplined myself and sat every day for an hour and tried to write, it might come back to me.  I see my novel sitting gathering dust on the shelf and wonder if I should try (again) to finish it.  It’s nearly done.  All the  pieces of the story have been drafted.  It still needs two or three editing sessions, but the hardest part is done.  I think.  Maybe that’s why I am putting it aside, that the editing will turn out to be the biggest hurdle and I subconsciously put it off?

So I ask you, does one need pain to create art?  Or maybe I need to simply find another outlet?

Brief Post

My son has been in touch with his old girlfriend (“S”) (now married w/kids) for the past six months.  She came home to bury her mother and provide 24 hour care for her father who suffered a massive stroke last year.  The news came this morning that S’s sister’s children were missing and last seen Friday at school.  S posted the information on her Facebook page.  Not one hour later we find out that sister’s Ex had picked up the kids for his usual weekend visit last Friday and took off.  We had barely absorbed this news when a second post appeared:  they’d been notified that the Ex and two kid were killed.  Here is a clipping:

Male Driver, 2 Children Killed In 5 Freeway Crash Near Castaic

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

CASTAIC (CBSLA.com) — Two children and a man were killed early Monday morning in a crash on the southbound Golden State (5) Freeway.

The accident happened around 1 a.m. Whitaker Brake Check area, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A 1997 Honda Accord entered the break check area where a big rig was legally parked “with the driver asleep in the sleeper berth,” officials said.

“For unknown reasons the driver of the Honda Accord veered left as it approached the big rig and struck the rear of the big rig prior to any evasive action by the driver,” the CHP added.

The Honda became wedged underneath the big rig with the male driver and two children, a boy and girl, suffering fatal injuries in the crash.

The victims’ identities have not been released.

I am thinking of them today and wish them the best.

It’s not front page news, but three lives lost, the Ex drove into that truck on purpose, the hurt his actions have caused to S’s family; it’s worth a passing mention maybe?

Coincidentally, H and I have been watching The Killing via Netflix.  I haven’t watched a drama in ages, but this one has sucked me in.  Mad devoted female detective investigating the death of a 17yo girl.  Showing how the family responds to this tragedy has won this program numerous awards.  Now here it is; knowing someone actually going through such a devastating event.  I can’t imagine how someone gets over the loss of a child.  I’ve known very old ladies who remember with misty eyes, the babies that were taken from their arms.

No real reason to post this except as a reminder to be thankful for what you have.  I am.

Too Much

There’s too much in my head right now.  The holidays bring with them a melancholy feeling of loss.  I need to get things klutzdone to sell the house.  I’m recovering from (another) fall.  This time falling flat on my ass causing severe pain shooting through my arms and legs when I moved.  Still hurts after five days, but I can move a bit easier, but not easy enough to practice my karate.  I’m such a klutz!  As I get older it concerns me.  Son has taken up with his first girlfriend who recently had to move back into the area to care for her parents.  I only hope she doesn’t break his heart again, and files for divorce from her current ass of an abusive husband.  I don’t think he could take it.  I’m hoping that she can give him the motivation to finally get his act together.

Actually had a cry over the loss of my family today.  I haven’t been on Facebook much lately.  But I am connected to a brother and three of my sisters, and I checked in today, only to come away today feeling how little I have in common with them.  My sister A is a lifer in the Army.  She and the rest of the family are staunch gun-toting Christian Conservatives who want to put “God back in thMeno Falls Housee schools”, and support any wars we are  fighting.  How can you be a stout soldier holding up the values of the country, and not know that the central idea behind our Constitution is not forcing a religion upon it’s citizens?  Blows my mind.  And it makes me sad.  I don’t mind entirely that the family is conservative, but it makes me feel like such an outsider.  Isn’t that stupid?  They never respond to any of my comments, so we can never enter into a sensible debate, but seem to just quietly ignore me.  It will be quite a while before I check in on Facebook again.  I sure don’t get anything out of it.

Then there’s the house situation.  I am absolutely not motivated to move on this.  We still need to meet with the realtor to sign papers to get the house listed, and clean the place up.  It shouldn’t cost that much, but I’m not inclined to do much to the place just to make it easier for the bank to sell.  Still I’ve gathered all the documents the bank wants, I may as well send it in.  I suppose I’ll drive up next week, sign the docs with the realtor and make arrangements for someone to clean the place up.  It won’t be much more than hauling away the old stuff.  We had to turn off the water to the place because something broke in the laundry when we removed the washer, and water came spewing out of the wall.  The biggest deal with the house that I want is once we sign the listing papers, and the bank has the documents they need, I won’t have to do anything else.  I just want to take this off my mental list of shit to worry about.

KarateThen there’s the karate.  I just can’t seem to discipline myself enough to practice.  I’ve already been hurt in class because we practice on a tile floor, and I’m just drenched in sweat that even the bottoms of my feet are wet.  I’ve slipped and fallen twice, taking serious bruising.  Then a few weeks ago the balls of my feet started to really hurt.  Looks like metatarsalgia (toe bone pain) Sensei pushes us so fast.  Some of us have only been doing this for two months, and he’s testing for belts this weekend!  Of course, I am not testing.  There is no way I am ready.  I really enjoy the Karate when I do it, there is so much to learn and I’ve got the rest of my life to learn it, so I’m in no rush to make black belt.  I think the self control of learning would be a good habit to obtain, yet I can’t seem to get my ass in gear!  Why can’t I get motivated?  Am I content?  Would I be having this debate if I was?  I really want to learn a martial art.  Maybe this Sensei’s teaching techniques are just not the right way for me.  He doesn’t really show us any of the punches or blocks in detail.  Suddenly, he just has us doing them.  Maybe this is how all Dojos are run, but I imagine I will find many different training techniques.  Maybe all I need to do is switch teachers?

Been spending a lot of time on the family genealogy.  I even made some family (distant) connections.  Funny, over the Ancestrypast couple of years I’ve talked more with cousins I have never met than with my siblings.  I even made contact with one of my last two remaining aunts.  She is the keeper of my Dad’s family’s bible.  She may know some things about the family that I don’t.  I’ve got her phone number, and could call her any time, but have been afraid, what with the split in the family.  Still I should call her.  She gave me her number and said to call, so what am I afraid of?  What’s the worst that could happen?  She doesn’t remember me and doesn’t want to talk?  Nothing ventured nothing gained, right?  Ancestry.com offers DNA testing, and so we had Husband’s tested.  The results were interesting, but very incomplete.  The only information we found was all on his mother’s side.  His Dad’s side, the side with the myths and mysteries, got zero hits with other test-ees.  We’re hoping that as more people on Ancestry request the DNA testing that he may find some connections on that side.

I hope all you Americans enjoyed your Thanksgiving.  I am thankful that I am healthy and content.  I am thankful my son has gotten in touch with old friends and spent Thanksgiving with one of them.

On Being AWOL

Sorry for my absence; I look forward to doing some catching up.  You all know how life can get in the way of the things we fill our days doing.  I haven’t been inclined to blog (or read) lately.  I don’t know why.  But I also know it doesn’t really matter.  I have looked at what little I’ve been doing these past few weeks and am not sure I don’t have a little bit of a depression.  But I feel content, so I guess I’m not depressed, right?

I did not enjoy my improv classes.  Maybe it was the way the class was taught.  All we did was play various games, which is fun and can be funny, but always left feeling like nothing came of it.  Week after week of just games to teach you how to do scene work and take on characters and feed off your stage-mates.  It was a beginners class, so maybe I should try the class for more experienced people?  Maybe I’m just not that interested any more?

How does that happen?  Why do we lose interest in things?  I can’t say I’m bored with improv, but that this class wasn’t the right one for me.  But I’m not really interested in taking another class.  I was all gung-ho for months, and now, I’m just–uh, don’t care any more.  It’s surprising.  I don’t feel this need to do it any more.  Is that personal growth?  Loss of interest?  New interests?  Can’t be that, I haven’t got any new interests, with the exception of karate, and that has not begun to fill all the hours of my day.  I should practice 2 hours a day every day, and I get in about 1 hour every other day.  Not enough.  I tend to get quite fatigued very easily, and need to take many breaks when I practice.  Today I just woke up exhausted, ran a few errands and was going to practice when I was home.  By the time I got home, I had to take a nap.  For four hours!  Plus a couple weeks ago I started getting pain in the ball of my feet.  Turns out it’s hairline fractures, and I;m supposed to stay away from heavy

New Stuff

I just had to replace my laptop.  It had been shutting down on me periodically and the power jack would get very hot, but computerbefore I could take it in to have it evaluated, it fried and will no longer power up.  It took me a weeks or so to select a new laptop and I’ve spent the last several days trying to find my way around Windows 8.1 and a whole new look.  I still can’t find things and have been unable to figure out how to make certain changes.  Everything is different and I have to change some settings every time I turn it on, like “View on Desktop” but I can’t always find the desktop and my short cuts.  On the plus side, it is faster than my old laptop, has much better sound quality, and they’ve made improvements on the battery and power jack.  I don’t think this one has as big a chance of overheating as my old one.  So far so good, though it seems like my space bar sticks a little.  I also can’t figure out the mouse.  I have to find the settings for that, but haven’t yet.

I started Shotokan Karate last weekend and have had four lessons already.  Sensei said Shotokan is the most difficult form of martial art.  I don’t know if that’s true, but I can see that to do the moves properly takes many years of practice.  I have a problem with recognizing left from right, and mirror imaging, so I often have the wrong hand or foot forward.  The turns are tricky too.  It looks so simple when I watch others make the moves, but when I do it I find I’m turning the wrong direction.  Turning to the left isn’t as simple as just turning, but you make a 3/4 way turn in the opposite direction (or so it seems to me).  There are also no mirrors in the room, so I have trouble following the other students, as I have to turn my head, and therefore I no longer have the proper karateposture. Sensei is Japanese and has an accent to get used to.  He uses Japanese terms that I am unfamiliar with and I don’t know the terminology yet. (I need to find a book.)  I can’t tell when one word ends and another begins.  He speaks rapidly, throwing in Japanese terms and with my problem knowing my left from my right, it’s no wonder I’m confused.  I hope to make it through the month at least, and maybe take the next class.

I have been practicing at home watching videos on Youtube, but each person has their own way of teaching so I can’t necessarily study the moves I was shown in class.  But the basic moves are all the same and the way you move is always the same, so I think watching he videos helps.  I do like the class though.  It reminds me a little of Tai Chi, except for the speed.  I work up quite a sweat and get pretty red in the face and breathing hard.  I would’ve thought the Zumba classes I was taking had gotten me into a little bit better shape.  I had no trouble dancing for an hour, but this is a whole different kind of work out.

The heat has been horrendous for the last couple of weeks.  Even this close to the water it’s in the 90s!  There has been very little breeze and of course, we have no AC.  We had to change the curtains in the living room.  The sheer ones we had weren’t doing much to keep out the sun and heat.  We finally got the new ones hung, and they are much better at blocking the sun.  The temp in the room is still high, but probably a few degrees cooler.

Still making changes in my life.  Learning karate, taking an improv class.  I’m out of the house four nights a week, and then out with husband another two, going out to dinner, or taking out the kayak.  I’m happy (most of the time) with my life and have an easier time accepting my aging body, wrinkles and all.  lol!