Sunday, March 21, 2021

A Pandemic Break or Broken by a Pandemic?


     Hi Long Lost Friends! I hope this finds you well and healthy.  

     In March of 2019, I decided to test out WordPress. I had heard over and over and over how much easier it was to use, how it had a ton of different applications etc.  I mean- it was okay.  Easy to use and yes, I could customize the background and look of every post but Blogger is just as easy to use.  I also was deep into my college classes and such and busy with work and family so even though I tested it out, it wasn't any more regular than I had been here.  

     Fast forward exactly a year and COVID-19 hit.  I don't know about you, but my revolving emotions throughout the pandemic have been; fear, anger, frustration, isolation, and anxiety, with a very small dose of thankfulness thrown in.  I don't know that I have ever, in 53 years on this planet, had another period of time that was so suffused with negative emotions.  Perhaps a day or even a week, but certainly not a year.  I have spent much of the last couple of months really thinking about this and here is what I have concluded about these emotions that have taken over me and why they were there: 

Fear- Fear has been dominant.  Fear of catching the virus, Fear of my family members catching the virus, Fear of losing one of them, Fear of losing our jobs, Fear, Fear, Fear. 

Anger- I have been SO angry at those people who refused to believe that the virus was a real, deadly thing, that they didn't need to wear a mask, that those of us who did were "sheep" to be shamed for living in fear.  I have been angry that the collective "we" were not ready to deal with this pandemic better than we were.  It's as if we were completely caught with our pants down around our ankles.  

Frustration- Like many, many businesses, mine was affected by the pandemic.  My customers are college students and one year ago this coming week, we just shut our doors along with the school.  That meant that all of my staff was gone in an instant.  For months I went to work, 5 days a week all by myself to wait for the UPS guy to deliver books, pick up online orders that I pulled and processed and deliver rented textbooks that my students sent back.  It was tomb-quiet, it was isolating and it was overwhelming.  And then- the axe dropped.  Due to the money that we were haemorrhaging being closed, my Assistant Manager's position was eliminated.  I vacillated between furious and frustrated for a very long time because I was anticipating her return.  We were a great team and losing her after she had been on unemployment for months waiting for us to bring her back from furlough pissed me right off.  It wasn't fair to her, it wasn't fair to me and it didn't look good for me to ever get caught up. Shortly after I was allowed to bring back my seasonals but there are a lot of things that only management can do.  After about 6 weeks, they allowed me to promote one of my seasonals to a PT supervisor.  It helps but quite honestly, I am scarred enough by this past year that I don't trust that she won't be eliminated either.  That mistrust is frustrating as well when you consider that in 10 days I will have given 18 years of my life to this company.   

Isolation- haven't we all felt isolated?  The whole quarantine thing is making everyone feel isolated.  Not being able to see my parents for months on end, not being able to see friends or other family members.  Not being able to get closer than 6', much less give hugs to those we did accidentally run into at the grocery.  Going to work and being completely alone with the exception of seeing the UPS guy once a day and our university police popping on occasion.  Both Jim and I were "essential" in that I had to be at work to get ready for the new term and he works in manufacturing.  SO while everyone else was at home- we slogged off to work every day.  That was kind of isolating itself.  People didn't understand why we were allowed to go to work when we weren't first responders.  

Anxiety- I took the pandemic to take extra classes and school full time for several semesters so that after the current term, I will have four classes left to go to graduate.  I have been anxious about completing my degree, anxious about my ability to successfully do my job at the current staffing levels because it calls on me to be much more physically involved.  Books have to hit the shelves no matter how many of us are working.  Anxious about both of us keeping our jobs in the pandemic.  Anxious about finding a new job when so many people are out of work.  Anxious about finances in general.  Anxious about my health, my parents health and Auggie's health.  

As for the tiny bit if gratitude?  Well, SO far we have kept our jobs, so far neither Jim nor I have caught COVID and I have had my first shot.  I am eternally grateful that when we almost lost my mom to COVID, she was able to rally back to us and that Dad didn't get it worse than he did.  I am grateful that my chronic pain conditions haven't flared more often than they have and that though my lung disease has flared (culminating in 8 bouts of bronchitis and/or pneumonia in 12 months) my new ENT has been terrific and proactive.  She actually listens, which feels like a miracle these days.  I am grateful that Auggie's vet has kept going until she finally determined that my poor little man has an autoimmune illness too.  Now Auggie is on long-term prednisone so that's fun.  I am just grateful that it didn't manifest until he was 12.  

So there we are.  I am ready for things to get to whatever normal will look like.  I am ready to be able to give good hugs.  I am ready to feel financially stable, I am ready to get back to writing.  I couldn't write in that state of mind. I just felt so out of control of my own life that I was paralyzed and going through the motions.  Though I am slowly coming out of the constant negativity- I almost feel that all of this has triggered and left me with a low-grade depression, which means I need to find my gratitude all the more.  

Friday, March 29, 2019

Trying a new platform

Hey gang- It has been recommended that as we create works of writing, graphics, brochures, flyers and such in our classes that we store it on WordPress or another host.  This will allow us to create a portfolio of works for when we graduate.

To that end, I am checking out WordPress and will be blogging over there for a bit.  If you are interested- check it out.  I would love your feedback on the format, readability and of course, on the posts. 

The link is:

Hope to see you there!  

Monday, March 18, 2019

Quick UPDATE on my craziness.

I want to thank all of you who have been sending thoughts and prayers for my family.  I just wanted to update you on how Dad is doing. 

After a long hospital stay, he was released- but - he was not able to go home because though there are only 3 steps at each entrance- he was still wheelchair-bound and even with his walker or scooter couldn't get up them because they are steep.  So he and my mom have been camped out at our Aunt Karen's  (mom's sister) house for almost 2 weeks.  We all appreciate her letting them stay with her and Dad's enjoying the gorgeous view of the Ohio River and watching the barges go up and down all day. 

On Friday Dad went in to have the Achilles surgery and will be in a splint until the stitches come out and then a cast for 6-8 weeks.  That part of him is on the road to recovery and for that, we are so grateful. 

He's also gone back to the neuro-that news wasn't as good.  It seems the vertebrae is fractured worse than originally thought even with the brace.  When he goes back they will decide if they will do Vertebroplasty (injection of bone cement into the vertebrae without fusion) which would bring almost immediate relief or if they want to keep him in the brace for the duration.  I am 100% sure he is voting for the cement.  I just want him to have whatever will not cause more problems down the road. 

As for my sleep- Jim has put it best- he says that I no longer sleep, I just take multiple naps.  He's right, the question is how to fix it.  It started when I was having such severe acid reflux at night and now it's taken hold.  Now that the ulcer is subsiding and I am having significantly less acid reflux I guess I need to re-teach myself to sleep a full night.  It won't be easy but I am taking Spring Break off so it will be a good time to do it.  I am sure the flares are linked so it's a task that must be done. 

Thanks again for all of your thoughts and prayers.  They are helping keep our spirits up! 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

    Happy St. Patrick's Day friends!  As someone who spent 25 years working in the hospitality industry (hotels, restaurants, bars) St. Patrick's day was nothing more than one of the several Amateur Night's per year to make some decent money.  What's an amateur night you ask?  That's the night that all of those people that rarely get out head to the bars to get their drink on.  New Year's Eve, St. Patrick's Day, Thanksgiving Eve up north (It's reunion night for all coming home), and lesser so- Memorial Day weekend, Labor Day weekend, Fourth of July weekend.  Every server and bartender that I know is aware that those nights are a totally different animal of customer and tips could be through the roof or through the floor.  We also know that if we aren't working- you won't catch us on the road with so many drunk drivers because we don't know that customer and for all we know it could take half the alcohol of a more....seasoned customer. 

Things changed for me a few years ago in terms of St. Patrick's Day.  My Daddy was adopted as a child, something that's never been made a big thing in our family.  I was diagnosed with all of these stupid illnesses, something that I try not to make too big a deal of within the family.  Then Ancestry DNA and 23 & Me came to be.  This was just around the time that Josh became a real adult and got serious about a lovely girl.  Even though she already has two kiddos and they don't plan on having any more, I started to wonder where Dad really came from and what my DNA could pass on to Josh and any potential progeny.  Yes- I am very well aware that RA is not necessarily hereditary, but what else was percolating in there?  So- I did BOTH tests.  I both to see if they matched- because I am persnickety like that- and the did to the nth degree. 

The traits matched me on almost every level, which was surprising but cool.  The health side was all great news (only one matched variant out of all of them) so that was a relief. The surprise was my heritage.  I am literally that Ancestry DNA commercial.  We thought we were German, German and more German.  Both sides traced back generations.  Nope.  Not even close.  We shall blame Dad for this- since Mama's side is actually traced back to Prussia, but my DNA shows that I am almost 50% Irish and British and only 15-20% German!  So now- St. Patrick's day is my holiday too!  Of course- it will never, ever top Halloween, but I am claiming it none-the-less.  Of course, my dear husband who claims lots of Irish in his heritage, still won't let me make Corned Beef and Cabbage even though I have always loved it because he cannot stand the smell.  *Funny memory* his Mom used to make Corned Beef and Cabbage for herself, Josh and I,  and if the family wanted to complain, they could go elsewhere for dinner.  Since none of the rest of them would eat it- they all scattered and we had a lovely dinner and leftovers.  She was a hoot- I miss that and her.

On that note, I am off to the grocery to get prepping for the week, then I have an assignment to write for my PR Writing Class and a test in Geography before my Sunday night shows.  Have a lovely St. Paddy's day and if you are heading out- be careful on the roads!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

It's Been One Heck of A Challenging Year Already!

      Wow, is it really only March?  The best example I can give as to how this year has gone so far actually happened this week.  Yesterday morning, I woke up at one, fell back to sleep around 2 and at 3:30 Auggie was losing it to go outside, so back up I got and decided to stay up with them.  As I was standing there, waiting for my coffee to brew and waiting to bring the dogs back inside all I could think was "It's okay, it's Friday, tomorrow I can rest."  As I shuffled into my office, coffee up gripped with two hands because they are flaring, almost tripping over dogs who were jockeying for position with treats in their mouths, it suddenly dawned on me that it was only Tuesday.  It seems that after this month, 3-3:30 am is my "new normal" time to get up because I just naturally wake up and can only go back to sleep if I force it.  I think it's because I know that I can be productive as soon as I can get my hands, feet and hips loosened up and I have so much on my plate that I need the extra time in my life.  

    School has been an UBER challenge this semester.  I mentioned a few posts ago that I am taking three courses this semester.  Even though it will afford me a Summer vacation without worrying about taking finals (our biennial family reunion is the week of the first Summer semester finals) it has not only worn me out but shaken my confidence.  There's a joke that "C's get degrees" but every time I work on my Physical Geography course, I use it as my mantra.  I just should not have done this course online.  In addition to having an effect on my confidence and my GPA, it's also affected the time I've had to work on my other courses and that's showing as well.  I was very proud of the work I've done thus far, and I'm watching the house of cards fall.  I can only hope to get out of this term without too much damage and never take three tough courses in one semester again. 

     Naturally, there have been health challenges this year because when are there not?  I have had several rather painful flares.  Thinking about it objectively, I am going to say it's been a solid week -2 every month.  But wait- there's more! For quite some time I have been having issues with my skin.  I keep getting painful blisters on my scalp, which then burst and scab and come back again. Because it was on the scalp-  I thought maybe it was a reaction to colouring my hair, so I stopped that- and it still didn't go away. Then I thought maybe it was a reaction to the Plaquenil, so we took me off that.  When it didn't go away, back on it I went.  I've tried psoriasis shampoos, clarifying treatments, you name it- then it started to show up on my back and on my face and I gave up.  So now we add a Dermatologist to my arsenal of doctors when they see me next month.   I feel like I am collecting specialists at this point and honestly- if this is another offshoot of the RA, you will probably hear me scream from wherever you are. 

    Finally, a few weeks ago, on the day we did my store inventory,  my poor dad took a nasty fall.   He and his neighbor/bestie were carrying a 55" tv up the very steep stairs from his basement man cave because Mom bought him a new one for Valentines Day/their Anniversary and Geek Squad was scheduled to come out and install the new one.   Mr. Dan was up top, Dad down bottom. They were 4 steps from the top when somehow Mr. Dan either missed a step or slipped and both went "ass over teakettle" down the stairs.  They ended up with Dad on the bottom of the pile on his back, Mr Dan laying on top of him and the TV like a cherry on that sundae.  Mr. Dan was bruised and battered and had a cut on his forehead from the TV hitting him.  Dad had a fractured L2 vertebrae and a torn Achilles tendon.  As soon as Mom let us know that Dad had been taken to the hospital, Jim and I threw some things in a bag, threw the dogs in the cars and headed out.  It was a Saturday when the accident happened and I was fortunate enough to be able to stay through Monday to find out what was going to happen.  Dad was in the Ortho/Neuro unit at Deaconness Hospital Midtown through Wednesday and then they moved him over to the Rehab unit on the same floor.  They have spent the last 10 days or so teaching him to move with a brace on his back, use a walker and try out a knee scooter.  The brace will be with him until the fracture heals.  As for his Achilles, he has yet another MRI this morning and tomorrow will find out if they will do surgery or progressive casting to treat that.  As of now, he still can't put any weight on it without excruciating pain.  I just want him to get well.  They sprang him from inpatient care yesterday but he and Mom went to my Aunt's Mom's sister) house for the timebeing because he still can't get up the few stairs into their house because he is currently in a wheelchair until they begin treatment.  I know they really, really appreciate my Aunt opening her home to them but I am sure will both be very happy to get him home and back to some kind of normal. 

Are you tired yet?  I am tired just recapping all of this and it's time to get ready for work!  Please keep my Dad in your thoughts/ prayers in hope that he gets some relief soon and have a lovely, lovely day!     

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

This Post Will be a Detour- Please Read

I know that my goal of this blog is to reach a place of Gratitude in all that I do but today I am taking a detour.  Normally I start my day with a quote that applies to what I am thinking, what I am feeling or that applies to someone I am thinking about.  Today I posted much of this as my status on Facebook this morning but even though I needed to get it off my chest- I doubt it will be read because it's so long. So bear with me friends-here we go:

No quote this morning, just something to think about.  We as a society put people up on pedestals- athletes, actors/actresses, musicians, those that are famous just for being famous, anyone we admire.  But why?  Yes, the athletes are superior at their sport.  The actor/actress is capable of taking on a new persona and entertaining us for a few hours.  The musician can create music that takes you to a new place. The famous for being famous lives a lifestyle that you may aspire to.  No matter how talented they are, they are just people, just like us

On the other hand, we as a society are so quick to tear people down.  Those same “famous” people do something that we don’t like and suddenly they are worthy of our scorn and we make no bones about it.  We trash them to our friends, we attack them on social media, and we say things we would never have the nerve to say to them face-to-face.  We forget that they are just people, just like us.

Then we let it start to bleed over into other areas of our lives.  We can’t just disagree with others like reasonable human beings.  We have to immediately go on the attack- “Idiot” “Ass hole”, “Ignorant _________(fill in the party affiliation/religion/ethnic background)” "You Suck" and far worse.  Why? Why are we incapable of making an argument based on the content and not attacking people personally? Why are we okay with jumping into a conversation and attacking someone we have never met?   What happened to behaving with dignity?  What happened to giving the respect that we expect to be given?  What happened to being open to listening to “the other side” the way we expect to be heard?  How did we get to a place where this is accepted and perpetuated Every. Single. Day? 

That negativity is infectious and there’s only one way I can see to combat it.  #Kindness.  Kindness to ourselves.  Kindness to our friends/family/acquaintances.  Kindness to strangers. We don't have to agree with someone, or even like them, to show kindness and treat people with dignity.   We are all just people.  We have brains, we have feelings and we have value.  #StopAndThink #TheresAPersonBehindTheScreen #BeKind   

Thursday, January 31, 2019

This Cold Weather is Kicking My Butt!

Greetings from Kentuckiana.  Like many we are mid-polar vortex and SO freaking cold.  Today is 6 degrees out.  It's a veritable heatwave because for the moment the wind has stopped so the windchill is equal to the temps.  I don't know about you, but when it's this cold, my body revolts.  My hands, feet, shoulders and knees are NOT happy with this weather.  I saw my Rheumatologist on Friday and even then my hands and shoulder were in beginning stage flare because of the cold.  She said that being off NSAIDS because of the ulcer is not doing me any favors either.  Oh well, we press on as always. 

The advantage to working at (and being a student of) a university is the occasional "Snow Day".  I was so thankful that yesterday, when it was in the negative teens all day, we had the day off.  I got a lot (2/3) of homework accomplished and didn't have to be out in it.  I was rather hoping that we would have a 2 hour delay like the rest of the schools in the area today to give it time to warm just a bit today but no luck.  In about 15 minutes I will have to head out to start the car and clean the snow off from Tuesday night.  I can't complain too much- Jim didn't have the day off and was mega layered up (including a face mask) because he works loading trucks and is in the cold much of the day.

Today I am thankful for:

GLOVES!  I don't know what I would do without them on days like today! 

Stay warm friends and if you, like me, have a rough go when it's this frigid out- take it easy on yourself.