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.   

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Please Stop This Ride, I Want to Get Off.

     It's been an exhausting week.  We haven't been overly busy at work but it's still a lot.  Sales are down which means those on the mountain-top reevaluated my payroll and decided to eliminate the only non-management full time position on my roster yesterday.  She's a very nice lady and we've worked together for over 10 years now.  It's was SO hard to have to tell her that per position had been eliminated- but I am sure it was much harder to be on the receiving end.  Once I finish homework this weekend I am going to have to spend some time working on the new division of responsibilities for the store.

     That was the end of the week.  The rest of the week was a medical pain in the backside.  Every morning I wake up more and more swollen and without the anti-inflammatory.  The amount of time that I am stiff is getting longer too.  Another effect of the lack of anti-inflammatory is that the bulging discs in my neck have pinched a nerve.  That means that if I spend any length of time looking down (like- at a keyboard) I go numb from my left TMJ to my finger tips and I have a heavy ache from my shoulder to my elbow.  It's hard to lift anything or even wear my backpack when it constantly feels like you are poking a heavy bruise. 

     My title today is Please Stop This Ride, I Want to Get Off.  If I were in the medical field it might be fascinating how interconnected all of these systems of the body are and how treating one thing leads to another or having one illness leads to another.  Being the recipient of the constant new diagnosis and treatment, on the other hand, is not fun, not interesting and is getting entirely too old. I am 51 years old and just cannot imagine another 20 or so years of compounding illnesses.  If things stayed status quo, I could come to terms with it- but I feel like I am on a roller coaster, slowly climbing to the top of the hill, inching closer and closer until...WOOSH, the bottom drops out and down we go, screaming to the bottom only to start it again.  I used to love roller coasters- until my life became one.  Maybe just a break, until I finish school, would be enough.   I wonder if that could  happen? 

Oh well- the weather outside is horrific (low 40's and intermittent torrential downpours today, dropping sharply tonight and bringing in 3-6" of snow with it overnight) so today's a good day to stay home, nap, do homework, and make a nice beef stew for dinner.  NO need to get out in this weather.  Be safe everyone!   

Monday, January 7, 2019

School Is Back In Session!

     Today is the first day of the Spring term.  I am having a bit of "What in the world did I get into?" this morning that actually started last night when I opened my Geography textbook.  In reading the opening, I am interested in the Human Geography portion but that is the minor part of this course- this is essentially Earth Science- which I haven't even thought about since I took the class in high school in 1982.    The only part that piqued my interest is climate change.  I am woefully ignorant about the science behind it so that will be interesting.  The hard part- it's all online and not a....motivating subject for this non-sciency (yes, I made that up!) girl.  

On the bright side- I am very much looking forward to my Communications Law and Public Relations Writing courses this term, both of which start today.  One is my lunch, the other starts at 6pm.  In Comm Law we have a major term project that will require us to do a Freedom Of Information Act request.  It's a group project (ugh) and so we will have to agree on a subject but that should be interesting.  In PR Writing, our term will center on all aspects of PR writing for a single company/organization of our choice pending approval.  One would think the layup would be doing it for work but the fly in that ointment is- I don't want to be treated any differently than any other transfer student by my professors or fellow students so I don't mention my job in class unless directly asked or recognized. 

Healthwise, I am worn smooth out because of the current schedule but more- my body goes back and forth with swelling and pain due to the lack of anti-inflammatories.  I told someone the other day that it would take less time to say what DOESN'T hurt than outline what does.  I am also struggling with eating for my ulcer.  I really, really miss tomatoes and second thing I miss is chocolate.  Friday night was Jim's birthday and it took me almost 2 hours to find a restaurant that he would eat at and that I could eat.  It's not as restrictive as some- and I shouldn't complain at all compared to what my dearest friend just went through ( totally restricted elimination diet)- but as someone who cooks a lot with tomatoes, vinegars, cruciferous veggies and whole milk- it kind of stinks. 

My List for this week is what I am most happy about right now.  I will work on that after homework tonight. SO-  Count your blessings today and think about what makes you happy.  It's time so it's AWAY WE GO!  

Friday, January 4, 2019

Back to School Rush time- again and again

   Another Back-to-School Rush is in full swing.  For me that means working every day through the 12th.  Of course, now that I am a student as well, it also means getting my head straight for learning as well as busting my cookies in the store.  Last term I took my first Hybrid course.  That means that we meet one day a week on campus and the rest is online.  I much preferred that to fully online classes because that one day face-to-face allows for the immediate questions and answers that I need to feel like I am going in the right direction.

    Spring is a slower time for the store so I am going to attempt to take three classes this semester- one face to face, one hybrid and one online.  What that will require is a lot of discipline on my part.  It will also require that I manage my energy levels to the nth degree. 

    The challenge to that lies not only in the Fibro and RA but some things that cropped up within the last few months.  I was very sick in the Fall - the recurrence of Bronchitis and Pneumonia was a multi-month process and left me beyond exhausted.  When I didn't bounce back my doctor did blood work and discovered that I had developed severe anemia.  Combined with the acid reflux I have been fighting for years now, I ended up at the GI doc who diagnosed GERD just by looking at me and my history and then went a step further.  A few weeks ago I had an endoscopy and he found a big old linear ulcer to top it off that he felt was caused by so many years of NSAIDS.  So now- they have pulled me off the NSAIDS, added lots of iron, doubled the Prilosec in the morning and added RX strength Zantac at night.  It's a lot but my energy level has *almost* righted itself but I am hopeful.  I just have to work with not being on anti-inflammatories.  We are also in the process of changing my RA drug but that's another saga for another time. 

     In the meantime- wish me lots of energy as I tackle these classes this term.  It's one step closer to being done with my degree!  Until next time, I hope your weekend is filled with blessings. 


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Looking back at 2018- Looking forward to 2019

     2018 was a real roller-coaster.  As I sat there on New Year's Eve reflecting on the past 365 days, I realized just how up and down it went.  If I needed further confirmation, it was the dozen or so posts that I had sitting as drafts that I deleted to clean up my year.  2018 also seemed to fly by like a Supertrain bound from Boston to New York.  I cannot believe we are already in a new year. 

     I waited a day in order to give myself time to really think about all of this- and fortunately I had all of yesterday to make notes at my leisure as I sent the husband up to South Bend for the NHL Winter Classic.  He's a HUGE Boston Bruins fan and I got him a ticket for his birthday.  He went solo because Hockey is not my thing and it's not a huge sport out this way.  He was very content to make the 4.5 hour (each way) drive in order to see his favorite team in Notre Dame stadium and I was content to stay home with the pups and set my desks up for next semester, get a little housework done and pamper myself at my leisure. 

     In reflection- here is what I realized.  In 2018, I allowed myself to get so caught up in school, work, and more emerging health issues that I lost time with some important things.    I didn't spend enough time with my parents, my only writing was for school and rather than fight my illnesses, I just let them wash over me and take me directly into a pity party.  When I am in the throes of that mindset, I withdraw and "deal with it" (without dealing with it) solo because the only pity I want is my own.  Silly isn't it?  It takes something jarring to pull me out of my own head and thankfully, the end of the year did the trick.  That said, I did have some real highlights in visiting Josh and his family for a week, and yet another fun haunt season. 

     In looking forward to 2019, I am not making resolutions. Everyone knows we don't make it 6 weeks with resolutions so instead I am setting goals.

1-  I will address the new issue of a big old ulcer and the resulting anemia head on.  This means diet and taking the yukky medication as directed- no matter how hard it is.

2-  I will do my best to schedule my school work in a manageable schedule.    I have three classes in Spring and more than likely 2 in Fall and I will not procrastinate the homework but schedule time within my day to complete it without being overwhelmed.

3- To that end, I will work to achieve a work-life balance that includes time for self-care in addition to downtime to rest and recharge.  These are things I am not always good at even though I know they are beneficial to both mind and body.

4.  I will make it a point to spend more time with my family- be it Jim and the pups or my parents.  None of us will be around forever and we need to enjoy the time we have.  I also know I have a week with the entire family in June and I will savor it. 

5.  I am going to take 30 minutes a day for reflection and devotion.  I have my early mornings that I am essentially listening to the tube and playing games while my body catches up with my mind waking up and it will be easy enough to "schedule in" 30 minutes.  I will either meditate, write here, write in my journal or my "52 Lists for Happiness" workbook- anything to help get my head on straight to be able to start the day with a clear mind. 

     One "tradition" that I have been considering that I am going to incorporate into this year is a focus word but you know me- I can't just ease into anything so I chose two.  My two words for 2019 are: 


    To practice Gratitude, I am going to start by the simple act of saying "Thank You" to those who matter.  To practice kindness, I am going to begin by really listening and thinking before I speak; measuring my thoughts and reframing with kindness before I reply.  As someone who can be very blunt and sarcastic- that will be the toughest beginning but I am going to commit to it.    

On that note- Thank YOU- for your support for all of these years and for taking time out of your day to read this blog.  I appreciate your comments here and on Twitter and that you've stuck with me through the tough times and the good times.  I hope your 2019 is truly blessed.