More Odds and Ends

I’ve been having a fibro flare, so I have time to do some more observing.

I’ve been watching the news more.  People are brutal to each other.  I once read an article by a marriage counselor who said the way he knew if a couple  would mend was the presence or absence of contempt.  If we apply that thought to the current situation, I see a lot of contempt and it makes me wonder if our country will mend or if it will divorce.

I watch President Trump and I see how anxious he is to be liked.  To be accepted as popular and admired.  I wonder what has caused this.  Did he sit on the gym floor and be the last one selected for the teams?  Were his parents very critical?  Was he bullied?  One would think that being so successful and wealthy would help him overcome that, but it hasn’t seemed to.  I watch him and I can tell he doesn’t enjoy social situations.  It doesn’t matter whether I agree with his politics or not, but I feel a certain amount of connection.  I was once that kid sitting on the floor getting picked last for teams, and being bullied.  It leaves its scars.  In my case, it made me more indifferent to people’s opinions of me, but we each are different as to how those experiences affect us for years after.  In his case, while it appears that he acts like he doesn’t care, in fact, he cares very much. Politics is not a good career choice for him.

Parker, our Blue Tick Coonhound, is not much of a hunter.  He seems to be a good tracker, which is why he goes for miles with his nose down.  This morning I had to go drive out to find him and he was about 3 miles from home.  He lost his Garmin collar that tracks his movements and I haven’t yet ordered a new one.  He is an odd dog, and we haven’t found anything he doesn’t like to eat.  Last night he was begging my husband for Brussels Sprouts.  I can’t stand those nasty little cabbages, but my husband and my dog are big fans.  Parker will magically appear in the kitchen whenever I go in there.  He watches the whole cooking process closely, as though he will be called upon to cook dinner some night.  Perhaps he was a chef in a previous life?  And he is addicted to whipped cream.  Starbucks offers a free cup of whipped cream for dogs.  He sometimes decides to place his own order and barks into the little order box.  It seems to shake up the order taker.  And when we get to the window, he is standing on the console in the car, impatiently waiting.  In fact, if they aren’t quick about it, he starts barking his encouragement.  It’s been a joy to watch him grow from a distrustful, sick dog into a healthy, trusting goofball who sometimes ends up far from home.

I am observing that on social media, posts are either positive – be kind, be nice, try to get along; or they are negative – Trump is ruining the country, he isn’t my President, and he should be impeached (in his second week?) and oh-by-the-way, I hate you.  I look for the posts for the groups I belong to: Treeing Walker Coonhounds, Blue Tick Coonhounds and Cats.  Dogs and cats are not political and their complaints generally run to their food or being allowed to sleep where they want.  They don’t watch the news, don’t read the newspapers and they generally expect their lives will go on no matter which party is in power.  And their owners post cute pictures.

I see a lot of red tailed Hawks.  They hang out on the power lines.  I like to see them, and I try to forget the reason they are sitting there – looking for an unsuspecting field mouse, a squirrel or chipmunk.  I put out a bit of bird seed on the porch rail the other day, and as I went to pull  into the carport, a hawk was winging it’s way out of there.  I tried not to think what he was doing, but instead admired his wingspan and his colors.  One time my husband pointed out to me the mocking birds and how they rule their area.  Now I can’t help but notice them every where we go.  They are mostly in town, carefully sitting in a hedge or a tree and fiercely guarding their turf.  It seems that every store or business has their resident mockingbird.  I watched one day, sitting in a Starbucks parking lot, as a single mocking bird took on a flock of small black birds (Starlings?), chasing them out of his area.  Feisty birds.  I see a lot of cardinals, so red against the colorless bushes this time of year.  The two birds I would like to see are Blue Buntings (iridescent  blue) and the state bird Yellow Hammer.  I think the reason I don’t see a lot of Buntings is that they prefer the open spaces of fields.  I read an article that the Yellow Hammers are so rare, no one really understands why they are the state bird.

This afternoon, I saw a herd of 5 deer.  They are dark this time of year, so if they are against the trees and still, I almost can’t see them.  But these 5 were yearlings and they immediately leapt into the woods.  The other day, I saw a magnificent buck, crossing the street from my neighbors house.  No doubt he was drinking from the lake and eating her plants that aren’t deer resistant.  We don’t have a problem with deer,  given our 3 dogs.  Tallulah dispatched a raccoon the other day.  She had no interest once it was dead, but Parker grabbed it up and paraded it around the yard, as proudly as if he had dispatched it.  No one tried to bring it in, and I was pretty happy about that.

The other day in Whole Foods, I bought a bunch of tightly budded Pussy Willows.  I brought them home, put them in a large vase and today I notice that they are all bloomed out.  I love pussy willows as they remind me of the pussy willow that was in my grandmother’s yard and we used to cut branches for the house.  I don’t know how they got their name, but those soft furry buds do remind me of cat’s fur.

Until next time, Elsie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fibromyalgia

I have Fibromyalgia.  It’s a disease with no definitive test and a lot of doctors that don’t believe in it.  It causes chronic  fatigue, mental fog, an aching in your muscles and has been linked to depression, Irritable bowel syndrome, headaches and a host of other things that can’t really be explained.

It has turned me into a human barometer – I can feel the changes to barometric pressure just by the level of aching in my body,   I’m very lucky, because my case is mostly controlled by the medicine I take.  This doesn’t work for everyone, and some people just give up on medication all together.  There are those that modify their diets, turn to acupuncture, mediation, herbal supplements  – in other words, those of us with this disease will try just about anything to get it under control.  Some become overwhelmed by it and will spend months in bed in pain and depression.  They are called lazy because they simply cannot do the simplest tasks with out a tremendous amount of stain.  Even in my case, I can tell if I over do it, because my pain level will be significant.  Some explain it by the spoon theory, which says imagine that you have 12 spoons for the day, and everything that you do costs you a spoon.  So taking a shower costs a spoon and doing your hair and make up costs a spoon and putting on your clothes takes another spoon, and even mundane task in your life takes a spoon and pretty soon you are out of spoons.

I have a lot a questions about the genesis of my disease.  Well before I knew that I had fibromyalgia, I suffered from irritable bowel, that my doctor at the time wrote off to stress.  And I suffered from depression.  I was tired a lot but I explained it away with too many long days and short nights.  I had never even heard of fibromyalgia.  I did notice that I was frequently achy, especially when the weather was cold, damp or changing.  At first I thought that it was my bones that hurt.  So I told my Dr. this and he sent me for bone density tests and bone scans, to no avail.  Then one day I really concentrated on the pain and realized it was not my bones at all, but the inter-connective tissues  hurt and the pain seemed to vibrate off my bones.  There were other symptoms too, but I didn’t know that they might be related.  So, I kept talking to the doctor and he kept sending me for tests and nothing ever showed it.  It was very frustrating and went on like that for several years.

I got on the computer and started googling my symptoms and it kept coming up to fibromyalgia.  Armed with this information, I went back to my doctor who pooh-poohed it.  This is not an unusual reaction by the medical community, most of whom think that if there isn’t a test for it, then it doesn’t exist.  But all the logical tests had been done and they all came back negative.  Fibromyalgia is a disease that is usually found by ruling out everything else.  So I begged to see a rheumatologist  and when I explained my pain, my other symptoms and how foggy I felt much of the time, the rheumatologist  concurred that I had fibromyalgia.  Although having a diagnosis confirmed felt like a victory, it was not a cure.  There is no cure at this time, and the best one can do is find a treatment that seems to work and stick with it.  But I still wonder about being diagnosed with irritable bowel in my 20s and all the digestive issues that have followed; and I wonder if the depression came before fibromyalgia or if it is the fibro that causes the depression.

One of the worst aspects for me has been the fibro-fog.  What is that?  Some days my brain is so foggy that I can’t remember why I went to the kitchen (especially bad with 3 dogs following), I forget to buy things on my store list, and I feel like there is literally a pea-soup fog between me and the rest of the world.  It is embarrassing when I cannot spit out my latte order in Starbucks, or when I get up to the counter and draw a blank as to what I was going to say.  I notice when I am like this, people tend to ask me if I am “okay”, so it must be apparent to other people.  This also seems to be associated with becoming clumsy and I can barely get out of my own way, lest I trip over my own feet.

The fatigue is equally annoying.  There are days when my body feels so heavy and exhausted and I will fall asleep if I sit down.  Sometimes my arms and legs feel so heavy, that it feels like too much effort to move them. Today was one of those days.  I was working on my computer and the next thing I woke up with my computer in my lap and it was 2 hours later.    And then after dragging myself around all day, I get into bed and sleep is impossible, even with sleeping medication. Last night, I was up until 2, then sleep came on suddenly and I woke up in my recliner.

Even though it’s a challenge, I am very fortunate to have what seems to be a light case.  I have never felt the kind of pain that others report when the sleeve against an arm is agony and when a life is taken over by just coping with the pain.  I know someone that spent 6 months in bed because between the fatigue and the pain, she couldn’t be out of bed.  The world at large is not very sympathetic to a handicap that cannot be seen.  We look normal and I know quite a few people that are harassed by their families because they don’t look sick, so add guilt into the already painful mix.

I was moved to write this as I am currently going through a light flare up.  The main piece of advice I would give is that if you identify with the majority of the symptoms and have been dismissed by your doctor, don’t give up.  You can get help, but you will have to be persistent.

Until next time, Elsie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections on January

If I had to pick a word to describe January for me, it would be “comfort”.   Something in my soul wants to pull back from the world,  and make myself comfortable.  I am perfectly happy to stay home in my yoga pants and t-shirt and read.  I find myself staying up a bit later and sleeping longer in the morning.  I appreciate my comforter, and am happy when the dogs cuddle into me on these lazy morning.  And, I think how much I love being retired and able now to do this.

I will spend my time thinking about projects that I want to do – update the guest room, clean out the cabinets, organize the loft.  I find myself studying the design magazines, looking at my decorating books, trying to find the right mood.  Right now, I don’t want to act on any of it, but I just want to think about it.

One of the things I love about January here in Alabama is the occasional 70 degree day.  This past week we had both freezing temperatures and Spring-like temperatures in the same week.  If we get more than a few days, it can be disasterous for the plants, as they get lured into a false sense of impending Spring and then shocks if the temperature drops back sharply.

I don’t want to shop in January.  I’m pretty satisfied to wear the clothing and shoes that I bought in anticipation of cooler weather (you remember, those days that were so hot and humid).  Catalogs continue to arrive showing resort wear, but since I have no need to hit the resorts, it is lost on me.  (Besides doesn’t bathing suit shop suck enough once a year?) I am tempted by those lovely linen catalogs, but the truth is that I am a woman who sleeps with dogs, and dogs do not go with lovely linens – they go with linens purchased at Costco, that can stand up to multiple washings.  My washer will not hold my king-sized quilt, so when it gets dirty, my cleaning lady is nice enough to take it and do it in her washer.

I remember when I was working, January seemed like such a long month.  It was awful, because all those  bosses who had been off during Christmas must have spent all their time coming up with lists of things that needed to be done immediately, if not sooner.  It always seemed to me that January should be for reflecting and developing new goals, not running around trying to do a thousand meaningless tasks, that won’t like go anywhere.  Now that I am retired, I can ease into January thinking my thoughts and making my plans.

Soon it will be February and my husband will begin telling me that Spring is almost here.  He’s wrong, of course – because I can feel Spring in the air and that happens in March.  But, the other day, I saw Burpee seeds in a rack in the grocery store, so someone is plant dreaming.  I’m not a gardener, but it is still a sign of hope

Until next time,   Elsie

 

 

 

 

 

New Years

The New Year has arrived in Eastern Standard Time and I watched the ball drop in Times Square. But I am in Central Time, so I have to wait an hour before it is New Year here.  To me, the New Year will always be on East Coast time.  I’m an East Coast girl at heart.

Most of today, I have watched college football to see my beloved University of Alabama win their playoff game, and then to watch to see what team will be playing them for the National Championship. As it turns out, it will be Clemson, so you know I will be glued to the TV on January 9th.  I know a lot of people don’t appreciate college football, thinking that too much is made of it.  But in Alabama, football is like religion.  It’s also conversational currency, which is good for me, since I don’t know anyone everyone else knows, and I’m not related to anyone, so it’s not likely I am anyone’s kin.

2016 has been an odd year for me.  For several months, I fought a recurrence of depression that involved me finding a new doctor who put me on an additional medicine.  I’ve had on on-going back and knee issue since October, but this week it has felt better.  I had sadness, most notably the sudden loss of our German Short-haired Pointer in July.  He will always  have a place in my heart.  But we have the addition of Parker, our Blue Tick Coonhound. He and Tallulah, our Walker Coonhound have become great friends and hunting partners.  Talu had gotten rather lethargic before he came, but she’s back to her normal cheeky self. Lady gets into the act with hunting too, but her real love is hanging out with me.  All of my dogs are rescues, and I feel blessed to give them a good home.

Lamar and I had travels this year that we enjoyed. We went to a number of antique clock conventions, visited a friend in Sarasota, visited Louisville, and spent some time in New Orleans.  We both love New Orleans for the food, for a particular auction house, and for the weirdness of it all. We will likely make more trips this year.  We always do road trips, because we don’t like to fly.

I don’t make resolutions for the New Year. All I can hope for is to be my best self as often as possible; to be a better friend; to be a point of light for the people I come in contact with on a day to day basis.  To remember that everyone is struggling with something and it may be overwhelming them, so to tread carefully in my dealings not to make their day worse.

To all of my friends and followers, I hope 2017 is gentle with you.  Love you all.  Elsie