Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Blowfish, Emergency Rooms and Hope

It's been several months since I've written anything here. I've pretty much made myself scarce on most social media. I'm sick of all the negativity and vitriol which increased tenfold leading up to the elections. It permeated both sides of the political spectrum. Even Tom has withdrawn from some social media by deleting the Facebook app from his phone.

I read an article this morning in the Business Insider, Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down To 2 Basic Traits, those being kindness and generosity. Unlike Ebola apparently, there's clearly not a lot of that going around.

We are about to embark on winter. Tom had The Bea$t winterized yesterday in anticipation of some freezing temperatures. When I got up this morning it was 64 degrees and within the last two hours the temperature has dropped 10 degrees. You know how I hate winter. Meteorologists aren't calling it a Polar Vortex this year, or at least not yet. My Weather app refers to it as "Relentless Arctic Outbreak." Sounds like an ominous case of acne.

On the up side, today is my fourth day without pain and meds. Whoo Hoo! It's been a rough couple of weeks. First with a severe allergic reaction to some unknown allergen that caused by lips to swell up like a blowfish and the skin around them turn bright red. I was mortified and there wasn't a lot of sensitivity going on at my doctor's office that afternoon. The most the nurse practitioner could muster was, "Whoa!" and "If you start to have trouble breathing, come on back." Yeah, okay.

After the steroid shot, I headed to the pharmacy in the huge Kroger monstrosity in my backyard. I used the entrance closest to the drug counter so I wouldn't frighten everyone shopping for milk, eggs and bread, or worse yet, terrify the store manager, who would then call the fire department Ebola isolation team to have me quarantined.

I grabbed a box of Benedryl from the shelf and took it to the pharmacy check out, where I encountered the pharmacy tech and pharmacist, both of whom oozed sensitivity and concern. It was a nice change of pace, but I wasn't in the mood to linger in a public place for any length of time.

"Are you okay?"

"No." I wanted to add, Obviously not, but I wisely refrained.

"Have you seen your doctor?"

"Yes, just came from there and had a steroid shot."

"Do you know what you're allergic to? Did they do an allergy panel?"

"No and no."

"Well are they going to do an allergy panel?"

"No, that would mean they actually cared." Yes, I did say that. I wasn't feeling quite like myself... or maybe I was feeling exactly like myself. It was hard to tell.

"You've taken Bendryl before, right?"

"Nope. Never have. I gave it to my kids periodically when they were growing up, but I've never taken it myself."

"Did your doctor give you any instructions for taking it?"

"That would be a hell no." Yes, I said that, too.

As the pharmacy tech rang up my purchase, the pharmacist proceeded to educate me on proper dosage, then said, "You've had a pretty severe allergic reaction. If you start feeling like your throat or tongue is swelling or closing up or you start feeling like it's hard to breathe, go to the emergency room right away, okay?"

"Yes, I will. Thank you."

The swelling went down considerably within a day or so, but the red rashy skin around my lips lingered and peeled and lingered and peeled and lingered and peeled. It was disgusting.

Just a few days after the Blowfish Incident, I got a spasm in my back. I've had them periodically over the last 30 years or so, but this was the worst it's ever been. I didn't have any pain pills left, but I had plenty of muscle relaxers so I started taking those. They didn't help. At all. I sat with my back against a massage cushion for hours on end until the skin on my back was rubbed raw. And I couldn't sleep through the pain. Finally after two days of pain and no sleep for 24 hours, at 2:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, unable to tolerate any further misery or massaging, I asked Tom to take me to the Emergency Room.

Two hours later, with a shot of Demerol in my hip and a prescription for painkillers in my hand, we headed for home. The Demerol did little to relieve the pain, but it eased it somewhat and made me sleepy. But as soon as the pharmacy opened, I headed over to have my painkiller prescription filled. I dropped it off at the drop off window, then settled into a chair in the small waiting area to rest while it was being filled. The rash around my mouth was still bright red and peeling in places so I kept my head tilted down feigning deep interest in Facebook and Twitter on my phone.

The pharmacy tech who checked me out was the same one from the Blowfish Incident. He recognized me (hard not to....not too many old women running around with what looks like a nasty and highly contagious disease).

"Wow. You are really having trouble with that. Has your doctor determined what it is you're allergic to?"

"Nope. They haven't tried."

He just shook his head.

I paid for my pills and headed to my car. I had taken a muscle relaxer just before I left home and I had a bottle of water in my car, so I immediately took a pain pill. It took all of 120 seconds to get home, pull into the garage and walk through the house to the living room couch. Within 45 minutes I was sound asleep. Thank God!

But as I mentioned, this one was a bad one. And a very stubborn one. For a week and a half, it would seemingly go away, then come back, then go away, then come back. Just when I was ready to go to the doctor and plead for a steroid or Botox shot in my back, it finally healed. Today is the fourth day with no pain without meds. Yay me!

And last Thursday I went back to my doctor for my "wellness" visit. The nurse practitioner actually noticing the lingering redness around my lips, "Hmmmm. Do you know what you're allergic to?"

"No. I have no idea."

"Well, we'll probably never know."

"Nope." And taking a que from the pharmacist, I added, "Not unless we do an allergy panel."

"Yeah, well, it could be anything. Obviously it's something you're ingesting," she said, completely dismissing my remark.

At the end of my visit, she said she would call in a prescription for a steroid cream.

When I paid for my pain pills for my back, I also bought a tube of Vaseline Lip Therapy and began using it consistently for about a week and it seemed to work really well so by the time I picked up the steroid cream I only used it once. So now I am pain-free and rash-free.

So that's my couple of months in a nutshell.

Oh wait. One more thing. We got a dog. Her name is Hope and she is a rescue from Arkansas Paws in Prison. She's a black German shepherd that was supposedly trained as a service dog, however, we're finding out that she's pretty independent and that's why she wasn't placed with someone who is confined to a wheelchair.


I'm sure I'll have plenty to write about her.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Falling Into Place??

The ad for our travel trailer went live on Craigslist this afternoon.

We're looking to buy this motorhome:

 photo rv_zpsc95906cd.jpg

Yes, it's just a photo of the couch and dinette areas. The slideout is open, so it looks pretty spacious. It shows some wear but nothing we can't fix or change with time. And a huge plus is that it doesn't smell like cigarette smoke!

If you'd like to see the rest of the photos, you can find them HERE

It's an older one, 1998. We'll do a little work on it, like get rid of the light blue carpeting (I'm not a fan)and replace it with wood flooring; replace the closet doors; remove the mirror backsplash behind the sink and stove and replace it with a nice looking formica; plus some general clean up.

Next step is to buy another smaller car we can tow behind the RV and sell the Expedition.

If everything pans out and we take possession this month, Tom wants to take a short trip sometime in October. I don't know where we will go, but I don't think very far or for very long. We're saving our off time for the holidays. Rest assured though, we'll be going somewhere in our near future.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Let The Fun Begin...

I haven't posted in quite a while. I've still been writing, just not here.

We had a glorious two week vacation in Florida in June and spent a couple of extra days in South Carolina visiting our niece and nephew. We hated to come home. Retirement can't come soon enough for me. But if we're going to travel some, we need to make other arrangements besides our little travel trailer. I think I mentioned in a previous post that we were going to look at motorhomes. Certainly not the huge brand new ones. Tom has his eye on an older one that has low miles and just about everything we could ask for in an RV. But, we need to sell the boat first. Priorities.

Now I'm planning for the arrival of our niece and her three kids next Wednesday. They come every year the first part of July and it's always a real fun time. The bedroom is ready. The menu is written. The hot tub blower is repaired. All is ready except the grocery shopping!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Packing It In

I hate this computer. I hate this computer. I hate this computer. It's a Samsung notebook with Windows 8. I hate Windows 8. Microsoft finally came out with Windows 8.1 and I've tried to download it at least a half a dozen times. UNSUCCESSFUL! I can't figure it out and it makes me feel stupid.

I also can't figure out how to download the photos from my SD card from my camera, so any photos I share from this beautiful vacation are from my phone.

I don't think it's that I can't do it. I just don't want to spend the time needed to figure it out. So I'm kicking myself for not bringing my bigger, older, more cumbersome laptop, the one that has all the programs I use for accounting, photo downloading and editing and just about everything else.

Anyway, as I mentioned, we are on vacation. We left April 26th and took two full days to drive to South Carolina to visit with our niece and nephew for three days, then headed down to St. Augustine, Florida for the night.

The last time we visited Florida during the Christmas holidays we reserved three days at an RV park in St. Augustine, but had to cancel because I broke a tooth and needed to have it repaired. I'm glad we had to cancel because the one night there was plenty. It's completely overbuilt.

We've been here at Buttonwood RV Park in Cortez, Florida since May 1st. It's awesome. Clean, quiet and just a mile from Anna Maria Island, an easy bike ride over the Cortez draw bridge.

We've learned a few things about ourselves since we've been here. Our trailer, a homely 1980 24-ft Aljo that Tom gutted and completely rebuilt, is a little small for extended periods of time. A while ago we talked about maybe spending December, January and February here. The trailer (or as Tom calls it "our motorless home") is too small for that. No couch or comfortable chairs. We have to either sit at the dinette or lay on the bed. The seating arrangement gets old really quick even though we're not spending a good deal of time in it most of the day.

And, besides, there aren't any spaces available for those months any way. They are already booked solid. So, I guess we'll have to make our reservations sooner than we anticipated, but it won't be happening this year. That's okay. It will give us time to decide what we want to do about living conditions. We're leaning toward buying a larger used motorhome, then selling the Expedition and buying another smaller car to pull behind it. We have plenty of time to figure it out.

Another thing....who knew I'd get tired of eating out and start craving a simple marinated grilled shrimp kabob, chicken breast, lamb chop or steak and a big salad. Every day for lunch and dinner I have to put on big girl clothes (including a bra.....ARGGGHHH!) and go some place to eat. However, our son Chris has graciously invited us to dinner at his house several times and prepared some pretty tasty meals and I can wear schlep clothes there and not hear a complaint.

Tonight we are going out for dinner again after our granddaughter's choral concert, a place in Bradenton called Habaneros. One more night won't kill me. Besides I love Mexican food.

We have one more vacation week left. It's gone so fast. When we scheduled the time, we didn't realize that our son's and grandson's birthday was right in the middle. And I had no idea where Mother's Day fell this year either and was shocked when our daughter-in-law mentioned it was the Sunday after the birthdays. We're packing a lot in.

Monday, April 14, 2014

If Mondays Were Shoes, They'd Be Crocs

Just for your information, I stole the title from a meme I saw.

I'm hoping this week is better than last. First of all, I was sick almost all week.

Getting old sucks. There I said it. It's true. While I'm doing significantly better than some other people my age, I'm finding as I get older, I'm not bouncing back as quickly as I would like. The worse I feel, the worse I sleep, which makes matters worse because I'm not resting so I'm not healing.

Last Sunday night, I slept like crap and dragged my ass around all day Monday. I thought for sure, being so tired, I'd sleep well Monday night, but I didn't, only sleeping about two hours total. Tuesday morning, even after coffee, I felt like I could barely function so I begged off on my volunteer shift at the Clothes Closet. By mid morning I was running a fever and by early afternoon, after a visit to the bathroom, I discovered I had a full-blown bladder infection. But luckily, since this has been a fairly common occurrence for me since I was about 10 years old, I have a nice stash of meds I keep around just in case.

I took two pills instead of one initially so I could try to get ahead of it. While the pain subsided quickly, my fever and physical stamina persisted. I think I only cooked dinner one night last week. Unheard of for me. I felt like I was in a sleep deprived stupor until late Thursday when I finally started to feel stronger and a little more normal, which some would argue is not necessarily a good thing.

Last night was my first really good night's sleep in over a week. I can't say I'm rarin' to tackle the week. I can say that I believe I'm going to make it.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Winter Needs an Intervention

Just when I thought winter was pretty much over, it is currently snowing in the northern half of the state. I'm ready to fast forward to the part of the year where I bitch constantly about the heat.

Anyway, two things today. I guess it's three things because I already mentioned one and I have two more items on my bad mood, grumpy agenda today.

I'm really tired of surfing various news web pages and coming across yet another disgusting photo of Miley Cyrus with her tongue sticking out. Her mother needs to tell her to stop it. It's not attractive.

And the media needs to understand we are pretty disgusted by the whole thing and they need to stop enabling her.

Item number 3: I have this small little laptop/notebook, which by some miracle I am using at the moment. I call it a laptop/notebook because I don't even know the difference between the two which probably tells you something about my capacity to adapt.

I call her Sam simply because she is a Samsung product and I'm not very creative with names.

As I said, Sam is small and very lightweight. I bought her thinking I'd use her as my main computer, attached at the hip we would be, and I'd switch Tom from his old, dying desktop to my slightly younger, faster, but bigger, more cumbersome laptop. Currently, we are both using my older laptop and Sam has been banished to her bag for months. Why? I hate her. I was going to say it wasn't anything personal, but I'd be lying. She came with Windows 8, the most convoluted operating system Microsoft has ever developed. The learning curve for me for Windows 8 is like learning Spanish when I was in high school. Obviously it's a foreign language, but worse is that I didn't retain anything. I can say "gracias," "por favor," "Señor," "Señora," and "Señorita" without difficulty, but anything else might as well be Greek, a class I did not take in high school.

So it is with Sam and Windows 8. Navigating is simply painful. Menus aren't where they are supposed to be and when you can find what you're looking for, it's often incomplete or nonfunctional. The keyboard and mouse pad are overly sensitive and in one click I'm in the realm of the unknown and don't know how to get out.

The more time I spent with Sam, the more frustrated I became. Apparently, I am not alone. I read article after article, comment after comment, review after review slamming Windows 8. I no longer felt alone.

Then the news came that Microsoft was developing Windows 8.1. I decided to slip Sam into her case until it was released.

Finally yesterday I decided to give it a go. I took Sam out of the bag, plugged her into an outlet and hit the power button. So far so good. But it went down hill from there.

I won't bore you with the details. I've tried loading Windows 8.1 at least 6 times. I get an error message every time and "Try again!" I can't even get the Windows Update menu to load. After tweaking (oh, good god, I almost wrote twerking!) numerous settings, some of which also would not populate, I finally gave up. I'll try another day. Definitely not tomorrow. Probably not even next week. For today, Sam's getting unplugged, powered down, going back into her bag, in the dark where she can think about her bad behavior for awhile.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Go Home Winter. You're Drunk!

It's been a rough winter. Not just here in Arkansas, but all over the U.S.

We had some real unusual weather for central Arkansas last week. Thunder, ice and sleet. In March!

The roads were treacherous. I-40, the main interstate through Arkansas, was a parking lot for two days. The governor had to call on the National Guard to help trapped motorists.

I was lucky to capture these photos at all. It was probably the second time I ventured out of the house all winter.

winter back yard photo winterbackyard2_zps20886f49.jpg

winter front yard photo winterfrontyard2_zpsbc1e0213.jpg

Okay. That was a bit of an exaggeration. I've been out. I've been to the grocery store a few times, the post office, volunteering at the Clothes Closet. But I haven't done much more. Mostly I've been hibernating in thick winter hiking socks, sweatpants, sweatshirt and long sleeve shirt underneath day dreaming about warm beaches and sunshine.

When I left the house Thursday morning, there was one last small patch of ice left in the shaded valley of the roof and by Friday afternoon not one ice patch remained.

Saturday was glorious. Sunshine, high 60's. Tom pulled the plants out of the garage and watered them well. We worked in the back yard a little and ate lunch on the patio for the first time since last fall. More of that kind of weather for the beginning of the week, then it's supposed to cool down a little, but no ice.

Hopefully, by the end of March we'll be able to roll the plants out of the garage and on to the back patio until next fall.