Category Archives: Blogging

A Long Night’s Day

I’ve been awake since 0130. That would be 1:30 A.M.

Why, I don’t know.

Had a fun day yesterday. Dropped off this quilted tote at Tai Chi by noon. It was Chinese New Year’s again, the year of the Horse. The place was decorated so prettily for the dinner and raffle last night, I wish I’d taken a picture. Lots of red. I’d meant to stick to blues and greens for the tote, but then remembered we need red for Chinese New Year.

photo (55)photo (54)I wasn’t in the quilt-making mood so I decided a tote bag would have to do this time. The irony is that I did almost as much machine quilting, but at least it was on something different. And smaller!

 

Next we went to lunch, crab cakes, yum. Unfortunately, they were only offered fried, but oh, so good.

Then on to the movies to see The Wolf of Wall Street. My, oh my. We try to watch all the movies that are nominated for awards. This was the last one on our list, but definitely not the least. I love Leo.

Since we were full when we got to the theater I barely noticed the smell of popcorn, but when we returned to the lobby after the showing I could not resist. First time I buy popcorn on the way out of the theater.

From there we hit a place called Splitsville; it actually has a bowling alley. While we sat at the bar munching popcorn and drinking (Captain Morgan and Coke for me) the mellow sound of pins banging around floated over to us.

We passed the time chatting, with each other and with our electronics.  I’d worked on an article that was due today, and as the writer was still revising we continued our back and forth till we edited to a final sheen. Thank goodness for iPhones!

The red leather vinyl seats were so comfortable that we ended up sitting there long enough to satiate the munchies and have them return again. We ended the evening with sweet potato fries (scrumptious) and a tall glass of ice water (refreshing).

And it was an early evening. We were home by nine, but I was tired from working late the day before so I went straight to bed and crashed. For four hours.

By 1:30 I was wide awake. I spent the rest of the night reading in bed, thinking it would make me sleepy again. Not so. I spent today writing critiques for my writer’s group. Usually, staring at the computer screen for long periods will make me go cross-eyed and conk out after a while. Not today.

I kept busy all day and while putting away the fabrics I’d used on the tote, I discovered I had fabric with horses and lots of red. Doh!

photo (56)But I did sneak in some green dragon fabric, even though the year of the dragon was 2012. That is my signature. I am a dragon.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Albeit, a water dragon. Which means I douse my own fires.

Typical.

Hopefully, I can douse my wakefulness. Or should I drown it?

 

 

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The I’s Have It

I chose a very ambitious path for myself this year and I have been mulling over my decisions while keeping my finger on the pause button. I haven’t exactly been idle, mind you. My brain has been working at a furious pace, while my body’s given the impression of languid ease. 

There are so many things to consider as you set forth on a new journey. Even if it’s a journey you imagined taking for years and years. You must visualize the twists and turns of the road up ahead. The inevitable forks in the road, forks not yet taken. Be ready to confront all, or almost all, the obstacles that will plop down in front of you like newly fallen trees. Find a way to sail over them. Wings, you must sprout wings.

Wings of knowledge. Wings of courage. Wings of faith.

I’ve been thinking about all this the past three weeks as I allowed myself to be consumed by a work of science fiction. While I let the story overwhelm my consciousness, my subconscious was left free to think, and to plan.

I was doing all my reading on my devices, laptop, tablet and even my phone. Wherever I was, wherever I went, I had my story with for me. But this method of reading provides one benefit that reading hard copy doesn’t: it allows you to increase the font to your liking, to increase reading ease.

And it reminded me that I needed to deal with one foggy issue. My eyes, or rather my eyesight. At my last check-up I was given a clean bill of health. Mechanically speaking. Everything was working fine, or should have been if not for one chemical variable, Gabapentin.

It was prescribed for me to treat nerve pain when I was diagnosed with shingles back in April. (Can it be almost a year? Where does the time go?) I was to take it three times a day and I did. Initially.

I was copyediting a manuscript at the time and racing to completion when all this occurred. It was through sheer grit that I managed to complete the project on time, although the author was quite supportive and understanding.

As time went on, I noticed things were starting to get really blurry. Until one day (duh), I decided to check the prescription flyer for the side effects. And there it was, in the tiniest print possible: may cause blurry vision.

Aha!

I cut my dosage down to once a day, and since it also said it caused drowsiness I took the dose at bedtime. Things seemed to clear up after a while, but not as clear as I would prefer. I blamed eyestrain, too much reading, too much computer time.

But here I was facing even more computer time, even more writing, rewriting, revising, editing and proofreading on hard copy. So while I read the sci/fi saga, my brain said: Stop.

And I did. I stopped my nightly dose and have solely continued the B vitamins also prescribed for the nerve pain. Nerve pain that by now occurs only rarely, knock on wood. Shingles leaves you in fear of its recurrence. But I say fear begone, because now on a clear day, I can practically see forever!

***

What have I been reading?

 

****

Ooops report: I was scrolling through and mistakenly hit the “like” button. I didn’t know you could “like” your own posts. Now I don’t know how to cancel it. Anybody know?

A Brand New Page

I’ve been known to move the furniture around too often, and without warning. The kids and the husband would come home late and bang their shins into something. Or else they’d drop their stuff on a table that was no longer there. Bump went the night.

Well, I’ve been wanting to move the furniture around in here for a bit but couldn’t decide  in which direction to go. And kind of dreaded what the aftermath would look like. There’s cobwebs behind, you know. Cobwebs and dust bunnies and all sorts of things. But there’s treasure, too. Long lost treasure.

I’d been trying to add pages to the previous format, but they just kept disappearing into the ether. Apparently that theme could not support several pages and when I activated this new format, Hello! there they’d been all the time.

So now I have to clean house a bit. Add a few decorations. Make things pretty and welcoming, I hope. Wish I could set up a mellow seating area, in blues and greens, where we could laze about with a cup of tea. Chat, about anything and everything.

Perhaps we can.

It’s my pleasure to welcome you, dear reader. Please stop by again. I promise I’ll get things straightened up posthaste.

 

Tabula Not So Rasa

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

When I hear the word tablet, I imagine something I used to carry to school, made up of paper. Buying a new one, or two, was like Christmas in September. I loved the feel of those silky white pages, begging to be filled with profound words and ponderous thoughts. But then I was the weird kid who felt depressed on the last day of school. While the other kids sang no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks, I walked home dejected, scuffing my already scuffed shoes in the loose soil on the way home.

I would count down the last days of the term with a sense of increasing dread. The summer loomed hot and vast. The chore list would expand exponentially cutting down severely on my reading and writing time. For during school I could claim I was doing “homework”.

Conversely, I would count up the calendar days leading to the first day of school. My mood would swing up, up, up toward the no longer blazing sun and shopping for school supplies was way more thrilling than shopping for clothes or shoes. Who cared what covered my body? It was what uncovered my mind that mattered. And writing was one way to delve into the deepest part of my psyche. Writing was what helped me deal with the realities of life that were thrust on me much too soon.

It was always an adventure when I put pen to paper. I never knew what would materialize onto the silk that was the page. What words would spring into existence simply by the power of my mind. My parents did not understand, or accept, my need to read and write. To my mother, it was an unhealthy vice. Not only would it make me go blind, but it kept me from my never-ending chores.

My siblings did not get it. They only touched a book when forced.  Heck, my friends didn’t get it either. My girl friends were more interested in boys and my boy friends were more interested in being my boyfriend.

I was more interested in the dynamics of behavior. The observation. What made people do what they did? Yes, I was a weirdo to all. And I reveled in my weirdness. A badge of courage. A badge of distinction, for I was distinct all right. A square peg refusing to fit into a round hole. A misfit

But it appears I am no longer a misfit in my world. My family not only accepts my need to work with the written word, they support it, and most of all encourage it. Amazingly. And one concrete way of showing that was to gift me, you guessed it, a tablet.

This tablet has no pages; instead it has a smooth backlit screen. It has the ability to do just about all that my laptop can do and is far more portable. It can even hold my entire Kindle library, no mean feat, and no more running out of triple-A batteries for my reading light in the middle of the night.

Because of their faith in me and my writing, I have been trying to get comfortable with its keyboard. Their vision being that I can carry this tablet with me and write wherever I am. But this is not an easy thing to do since my fingers are used to a regular keyboard. One that is not so touch-sensitive, and one that has all the keys I need in one flat layout. One flat, longer layout.

But I am nothing if not persistent and though typing with only a couple of fingers has been hard, I have managed to tap out this entire post on said tablet. And though it’s taken triple the time, it appears to have let me probe deeper into my sentience. Perhaps because my brain was more concerned with the technicality of writing and therefore successfully quashed my internal editor for a bit.

Or perhaps it is simply the fact that I feel freer composing on a “tablet” once again. And there is much to compose for it is true that I am no blank slate. I have been written on for quite some time.

The Worst Patient

When I was delivering direct patient care, we were given a two-hour window during which to administer medications. If a med was scheduled for 1 p.m. (1300 in hospital-speak) it could be given between noon and 2 p.m. (1200 to 1400). It was one of the ways Administration acknowledged that we nurses had a lot on our plate and the day was only so long.

I don’t know if this is still the case at the bedside as I’ve been gone a long while now, and I don’t expect to ever return. The curtain has lowered on those days, but I am reminded of that window every time I take my own meds late. Or forget to take them at all.

These days I have only one patient’s needs to meet. There is only one patient for me to give primary care to. Only one patient whose meds I have to keep straight in my head. Me.

And I find that it’s not any easier. One does not simplify things, especially when that one researches and investigates every little thing. And at times does not even comply with the treatment.

I once confessed to the Nurse Practitioner taking my history that I was noncompliant with one medication. She paused in her note taking to look up at me, then we locked eyes and laughed. It’s common knowledge that doctors and nurses make the worst patients.

As it stands, the nurse in me is trying to come up with a workable plan of care for the patient in me. For a while now I’ve been toying with the idea of making a MAR for myself (Medication Administration Record). Or would that be on myself?

We used to get the MARs every day from the pharmacy; they covered 24 hours’ worth of documentation. I don’t need to get as specific, but I would at least need to list all my meds and the times they are due. That way I would be able to check them off, sign off on them so to speak, as I take them. And thereby no longer wonder did I take that calcium this morning? Or that Gabapentin last night?

As it is, there’s no way to tell. I have so many things on my mind, so many things that need to get done. And subconsciously, I don’t want to take my meds. Or more accurately, I don’t want to have a reason to need to take my meds.

But alas, I do.

I already have my phone set to alert me that Wednesday is Methotrexate Day. Unfortunately, every day is Plaquenil Day and noon seems to come around all too quickly. I swear there are less than 24 hours between noons. Or maybe it just seems that way. It’s that old noncompliance thing tugging at me.

So I’m thinking a “MAR” should keep me on the daily straight and narrow. Back when I supervised three separate nursing units, my last task each day was to list all the things that needed to get done the next day. Those were the steno-pad days, before the now ubiquitous computers. I would leave the hand-written list on the center of my desk so it was the first thing I saw upon opening my office door.

And it really worked. I got so much done that first year; it still makes me tired just thinking about it. But they do say that if you write down your goals, they are more likely to get accomplished.

It’s definitely come time to make myself another action plan. I just have to decide on the form, or the format. A dry erase board comes to mind. But I don’t think I can find room on the wall for one that big. Anyway, I don’t want it front and center, spoiling the “décor” of my home office. So I’ll design it on my laptop, then print it out so it can join the jumble on my desk.

I’ll program my phone to remind me to look at it. Or for it.

Paperless Woes

Has your doctor gone paperless?

You know, no actual paper lab order form that tells you exactly what tests will be performed. The paper that clues you in as to whether you should not eat beforehand so your results won’t be skewed. Or lets you know to drink a lot before getting there so you can deliver that urine sample. Last time I had to go back to the lab the next day; I was, ahem, not prepared to deliver.

I’ve gotten used to him not having to plop down a thick, heavy paper chart on the desk in front of me. Instead he reviews my notes and history on a sleek new laptop. I just hope that it’s backed up somewhere. The Cloud? Carbonite? A master hard drive? I really don’t care who finds out about my medical history. I care more that it not get lost into the ether.

In a way, this blog helps me keep track of where I am on the RA continuum. It’s a record, granted a digital record. But after this last visit, I decided I am going to do something more; I’m going to keep a written log: Star Date, blah, blah, blah . . .

And I am going to do one more thing, be more proactive with my plan of care.  I started to on this last visit. When the check-out clerk tried to do the “this is your appointment card and this number on it is your lab order” routine. I said, no, I need the actual order form. I don’t like this computer code number thingy and neither does the lab. So I got my piece of paper.

But (big but), I didn’t insist on at least verifying with him what, if anything, he was going to order for me at the pharmacy with his one click of a button. I understood he was and I waited for the text from the pharmacy telling me it was ready. Nada, zilch.

I called them this morning; they’d received no clicks in my direction. I called the office. They verified my old prescriptions. But, but, but, I said. There was to be something else. For my bursitis of the foot. After he made me jump a foot off the exam table by pressing into the most painful area of my heel, I understood he was going to order a prescription-strength anti-inflammatory. True I couldn’t think straight or hear right after that, but I swear he said he would.

Well he did mean to and they are now, and I once again await the pharmacy text. I appreciate the digital era I live in, but I’m a writer. I have a love affair with paper. It’s hard to let go.

 

What Is Going On?

I have a foot. Actually, I have two, but one is acting up. Acting up so very, very badly.

It started a few months back, perhaps several weeks ago. I’ve lost track. I thought nothing of it at first, but then the pain began to visit me more and more often. Often enough for me to stop in my tracks and pay attention.

I remember telling the PA, “My heels hurt.” He stopped tapping on his laptop long enough to glance in my direction.  I could read his expression, Meh.

“I know with age you start to lose the padding on the soles of your feet,” I hurried up and said to fill the silence.

He nodded and kept on tapping. My life story, or at least my RA life story, used to be a file inches thick. Now I don’t know. It’s held within a slim, flat black box with cold, hard keys. It makes the operator of it a little cold and hard, I think. Not because that’s how he is, but because he has to pay attention to where his fingers land; before he could write with his pen while still looking at me like he was interested in what I was saying.

It’s a dichotomy. I try not to interrupt his tapping, yet if I don’t speak he has nothing to tap about. Anyway, I just wanted it for the record. My heels hurt, but not that day. Though I was a little stiff from sitting in the hard waiting room chair for two hours, I didn’t have much to complain about that day.

On the next visit, I told the doctor, “My heels hurt sometimes. “ Just in case he hadn’t read the previous notes. He glanced up from his iPhone and smiled at me, then his eyes went right back to the screen.  He is on the cutting edge, treatment-wise, always researching each new step from every angle.  So I said nothing further. I trusted he would store that little nugget regarding my feet and pull out the magic formula when the time came.

On this visit we were more concerned with having to add Plaquenil to my cocktail, so my feet were low priority. “I want to see you in six weeks,” he said, making himself a note. “When are you back? How long will you be gone?”

I love a man who listens.

“I’ll be back by then,” I said. I’d told him I was traveling to see my baby granddaughter.

By the time we left, I had an angry right foot. It could be somewhat mollified with Advil, Tylenol or Aleve. They took turns stifling the fire. The pain made itself most at home in my right heel. I’ll rest it; it’ll be fine, I thought. Hah!

It was busy, busy, lots to do. Strolling down Bourbon Street was fun while it was happening.

“Oh, my God,” my daughter exclaimed. “That bar was in Bar Rescue.” She had all the backstory portrayed on the TV show about the rivalry between it and another bar up the road. I stopped and looked at it; it didn’t look like much from across the street.

And that was exactly the trouble. It was across the street.

“Go inside and look around,” I said. “I’ll wait here with the kids.” She is a bar aficionado. Wants to own one day. (!)

She stared at it for a bit, then shrugged and kept on walking. I was relieved. As long as I kept moving, I could quell the fire. My synapses were busy concentrating on other parts of my body, but when I stopped, oh my! Even the sugar high from the beignets was not enough to distract my brain from the pain while sitting.

I blamed the extra activity for the acuteness of the pain, but once I returned home and had all the leisure I could desire I had to find another culprit.

Maybe I fractured something?

Could it be RA being its mean old self?

Yesterday, I couldn’t bear weight on my heel.  Walking on the ball of my foot hurt exponentially worse. It was so bad, I saw stars while I limped from room to room. And I thought twice before moving. Did I really have to go pee? Right then? Could it wait a bit?

I went to bed with one thought: see my PCP, get an Rx for an x-ray, and then hobble over to the diagnostic center.

Today it barely hurts and I managed to walk the grocery store without a problem. I’m stumped. As Wolf Blitzer would say: What is going on?

 

 

 

A Glow

It is eerily quiet in this house now that we two are the only ones left rattling around. For almost two weeks we had a little person around us 24/7. In preparation for our trip to celebrate my younger granddaughter’s first birthday, I kept four-year-old Alyssa away from daycare. Though she loves school, I was afraid she would pick up some germ surprises to take to Carmen, who does not go to daycare.

Sometimes I wish I could stop thinking like a nurse, an infectious disease nurse, no less. But that doesn’t seem to ever become a possibility. And of course, I can never stop being an overprotective grandmother. But my plan worked well. Alyssa remained healthy and she fell in love with her little cousin. And for her part, Carmen loved toddling around after her big cousin.

Though RA went with me, and made sure I knew it was with me, I stubbornly refused to give it any quarter. Instead, I focused on enjoying a whirlwind week with my two grandbabies. From having them pose together for a professional photographer, to our trip to New Orleans, a fun day spent touring a children’s activity museum, then stopping at a pumpkin patch to pick out 25 pumpkins to serve as party favors for the birthday fiesta.

It was a little bit of heaven while it lasted and now that I am home, I miss all that activity. I especially miss that little voice and the little hand that slipped into mine at regular intervals, wanting to make sure that I was still her Na, even though she was having to share me with someone else.

We are back to “normal” now; all of us back to our routines. After a day of rest, it’s time for me to get back to work. But I have fresh memories to keep me company. To keep me warm and my heart aglow

Birthday fiesta

High Noon

I felt like Gary Cooper
and his beleaguered Marshall Kane
Danger threatened from without
while the threat drew ever closer,
as the clock marched on towards me

There was no stopping at the church
to ask for some assistance.
Though the church did stop by me,
in the person of my neighbor
Say a prayer, she said to me,
ask for a drop of blood from Jesus
My brain recoiled at the thought,
but I smiled and said nothing
as I walked her to the door

Nor did I make my rounds
searching help from every corner
or try to call in favors
from them not so afflicted
Had there been will to help
there was nothing they could do

Instead I took the time
to mull things over all alone
To come up with a strategy
in how to deal with these offenders
There was no way to fend them off
No, there was nothing to be done,
but to inch myself on forward
and take my chances as I went

But, I had to choose a time
for the train to chug right in
That being the one sole thing
under my limited control

And so I chose high noon
then stood up resolute
Straightened up my RA badge,
and walked outside to meet them
Into the middle of that dusty road
where I confronted them head on

Two came up side by side
small and, seemingly, inconsequential
But what they lacked in size
they made up for in great baggage
I am to be their porter
in this never ending dance
For I must relive this High Noon
for as long as I can see them

***

Plaquenil and its side-effects gang.
Two little pills to be taken at the same time every day.
I took ten days to think things over and then took a deep breath and dove.

 

 

 

 

Fanfare

Flare visited me last Wednesday. He hadn’t been around in so long, I’d not quite forgotten him.

I assume the day dawned dark and stormy for when I woke up I was surprised to see it was already 8:30 a.m. From the darkness of my room, I’d expected it to be at least two hours earlier.

As is my habit upon waking, I went to flex my hands. This time they refused.

They were not only stiff, but painful, and worse, swollen. And as I came to full consciousness, I realized the rest of my body felt the same.

I contemplated the door to my bathroom. Normally, it is only a hop, skip and a jump away. This day, as I moved through the fog toward it, the ten feet in distance became agonizingly longer.

Outside I could hear the raindrops falling on green grass that, at present, was growing faster than I was moving. I knew without looking that the accompanying sky was a dreary, dark gray.

I made my way to the kitchen, to the medicine curio, to down the magic formula that obviously wasn’t working.

I then stepped down to my office; perhaps I could at least catch up on some emails. But the words my eyes saw on the screen did not completely make it to my brain.

Then when the shivers hit, I gave it up. Instead, I backtracked to my bed to wait out the fever my visitor had so kindly awarded me. I knew then, without a doubt, that Flare had arrived with all his fanfare.