Wednesday, January 31, 2007

How much can a heart take?

As I write this, Ed is on his way over to Lakeland. We got the phone call at 1:15. When the phone rings at that hour, and it lists Mom's number, its never a good sign.

Jane has heart failure again. This worries me because:
-She recently had bronchitis
-She's had several heart attacks
-She's had heart failure before
-She's diabetic and has bottomed and topped out before (including a time where she had both in one ER visit just over a year ago)

So, I ask, how much can a heart take? Does it bounce back from all of the episodes, or does it get weaker and weaker? She had to take a medical retirement a few years back due to her health, my fear is that these episodes will take a toll on her mobility.

Please spare some good thoughts. Oh yeah, if you have the answer to my question, let me know.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Trailblazing

It seems that many things I've done in my life were completed before my peers. I got married first, then of course, I got divorced. I bought a house, then built two more. I had kids. That one my siblings beat me to it by many years, but as far as the peer set goes, Ed and I were the first.

In many respects, I feel it is a good thing to have blazed the trail. The divorce was a tricky minefield, but it made me a stronger person. I've remarried and he accepts my flaws. A couple of friends are going through this pain right now. As I write this, I'm so incredibly thankful that I went through it and can give support and be a sounding board for others going down that path.

Both friends are going through rough patches in this and I want you both to know you WILL get through it. I think you better people for not staying in a relationship that was making you miserable. Throwing in the towel takes incredible strength-and I'm here to listen when you're not feeling all that strong. I'll be your cheerleader when you need rallying. I am glad I have the blog to talk about all things and let you both know that I'm proud of you!

So don't apologize that you're talking about it-that's why I'm here. :) I think you've each blocked out how much you listened to me rant and rave all those years ago. You may not remember that even though I was involved with Ed, it took a long time to get over the feeling that I was a failure. That's part and parcel of what you're going through. Both of you gave me strength when I was weak, it's my turn to guide you to the other side.

Hang tight and talk it out-as often as necessary. I'll listen. :)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Visitors

Ed and I had high hopes that moving to Florida would mean many of our friends would visit us in the Sunshine state. Honestly, we bought a four bedroom home with the thought that many would want to escape the cold and yuck of winter.

Here we are, two and a half years later and our most frequent visitor is already a Florida resident. (If we had our way, she'd be here every weekend, right, Donna?) As such, the original plan of putting a Murphy bed in that fourth bedroom has been scrubbed and it's full speed ahead on the home office with computers for each of us.

One friend that was made through Yahoo groups and the DISboards has visited with his family and made contact again today for his wife and son to visit during Easter Break. I'm looking forward to the wife's approaching retirement so that they can move to Lakeland. We get heads up whenever they're coming down, their son is the same age as our older son and they're nice people to be around.

Older friends, well, most are further from retirement age than the family from NJ. That said, we haven't quite had the door beaten down like we'd been warned we would. Joyce and Tim make their nearly yearly trek to WDW and last week, Joyce apologized for inviting herself to our house for a day of their vacation in August. J, you never have to apologize, just make sure I know more than a week ahead of time to get the time off!

Another friend has not been seen since Ed and I got married. The reason for this is that I wanted to give him some distance. D became my friend by virtue of being my ex husband's best friend. I felt D should have that friendship without having to worry about divided loyalties. Here we are, in contact again. His mom lives over in St. Augustine and is here visiting. He told us earlier this month that he'd probably be down the last weekend of the month, but I didn't hear back.

The other day, Donna let me know that D thought he would be at my house tomorrow. Yikes! I'm doing inventory on Monday, so I'm at work all day. Ed would be very happy to host, but I'd miss out. We may end up over in Orlando or Altamonte to do dinner one night this week, but I think we're all bummed that he's not getting over here. However, D will be here in Florida every few months, so an overnight stay may be in the cards before too long.

Then there's the other side of the coin. I have a friend who visits central Florida frequently, yet I hear about the upcoming visits through a third party, or worse yet, run into her accidentally when meeting up with other friends(who saw the hurt written all over my face). She's been invited to my home several times, but I've given up asking because she won't come. Hell, I've given up calling and at this point, have written the friendship off. It hurts too much to be shut out and ignored.

I guess the point of all of this is to say we love having company and were thinking that we'd have a heck of a lot more of it when we moved down here. I guess that's not the case.

Friday, January 26, 2007

All Hail Neurontin

If you've ever suffered from insomnia, you can understand my praise right now. For the past two nights, I've been able to sleep for more than 3 1/2 to 4 hours. It is amazing how much more rested I feel today with 7 hours sleep that was uninterrupted! Yay, Neurontin, or rather, the generic equivalent.

I wake up with pain, but not the excruciating "Oh my God I'm going to hack my leg off at the knee to stop this!" pain I had been experiencing. However, now that I'm not feeding the body the Vicodin through the night, it seems like I have had to bump up from a pill to a pill and a half during the day. I see the doctor on Wednesday and will bring that up.

Nurse Kathy brought up that this really isn't RSD, she felt it was more a peripheral neuropathy. She sent me some links, and while the symptoms of the two are very similar, I do fit the PN diagnosis much more closely. Instead of specifically seeing a pain managment doctor, I'm probably headed to a neurologist to figure out the cause-but I think we already know.

The other odd thing is that peripheral neuropathy typically happens to diabetics, as their circulation is poor. In discussing this with Liz, she offered to send testing strips and a glucose meter. At first, I didn't think that it was neccessary-I'd been tested as part of the lupus screen and it came up fine. The more I think about it, well, testing couldn't hurt. If there is an issue, I would catch it early. It would be typical for me to have a complication of diabetes before actually having diabetes.

The irony in this is that in the past year, I have begun eating far better than I once did. Fast food meals are rarely consumed, when they were nearly 50% of my food consumption. I've lost around 30 pounds by eating meals that Ed and I have prepared, either at the meal prep kitchen or at home. I took the old toaster oven into work to make those meals at work.

My appetite is much smaller, and it took three visits to fast food joints to really bring that home. I ate half of a big mac and was stuffed. That was strange. Three crunchy tacos was my usual at Taco Bell, yet at 1 1/2 tacos, I was stuffed and stopped. And on the way to Sea World, we stopped at Whataburger and I ordered a regular sized sandwich that I could not finish. My lesson has been learned-I will order kids meals.

So, the change in meds is a good one, the change in eating probably will serve me well if in fact, the cart got before the horse. Only time will tell...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Signs the Apocalypse is nigh...

Commercials on the air that surely mean the end is near...

Ad comes on with happy peppy music from my youth. The Buzzcocks. It's a nice flashback to the 80's and clubbing at Spize, Spit, Malibu and Shout...except the music is being used for a FRIGGIN AARP commercial. Uh uh, got a while to be eligible for that !

Speaking of money, one of the car companies has been Spinal Tapped. They are using "Gimme Some Money" and each time I hear it, I picture Michael McKean like he appeared in the movie, in a suit and a Beatleseque mop top, singing ever so jauntily.

So, are they desperate for money, or is the end near? You tell me...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Another one for the weird medical issues list....

There's a new medication in my life, to go with a new diagnosis. Tentative, but still, my nurse practitioner felt that what I presented is, in fact, RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy). This is a neurological issue that is indicated by severe, burning pain; tissue swelling; and sensitivity to touch. Those knives in the calves and stinging pain I've mentioned are indicative of having it.

As such, I've been put on Gabapentin (Neurontin) to curb the overactive nerve endings. It's supposed to make me dizzy and tired and coexist with the Vicodin to help me sleep. I'm still waiting.

The weird part, which we all know is par for the course with me:
Nurse Kathy continued to triage when I called for her input and informs me that the pain is a neuropathy. This is a disorder affecting *DIABETICS*, because their circulation in compromised. The Gabapentin is supposed to increase blood flow.

Hmmm, I have circulatory issues. I have neuropathy/RSD and yet I AM NOT DIABETIC! Add this to having five markers for Lupus and yet not having the disease and my propensity for being in the 2% category for any medical complication/issue. From the American Diabetes Association's website, the symptoms for Diabetes, with my answers:

  • Frequent urination **not a problem unless I drink tons of water
  • Excessive thirst **not really
  • Extreme hunger **heck, my appetite has gotten much smaller thanks to previous job
  • Unusual weight loss **no, what has been lost is due to diet change
  • Increased fatigue **hello? can't sleep because of friggin leg-so that's a no, too
  • Irritability **you'd be irritable if your sleep is screwed up by pain, too. No
  • Blurry vision **nope
So, what the heck is up with my wacky damn body? And how can I tell it to knock this crap off?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Double Edged Sword

I love having the blog. It's been great for airing things, good and bad. Many of you comment after a new post comes up-and it becomes a springboard for good conversation. Thanks.

The down side is that sometimes there are things I want to get off my chest, but I don't feel the freedom to blog about it. Suffice to say, there's an issue that bothers me, but I won't be posting about it. Not yet, anyway.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Vacation days...

Yesterday, Monster Jam came to Tampa. As my men are fond of this event, I asked the boss if perhaps I could use some of my vacation time to get off work at 6pm and send two of them over to the stadium for this event. Older's son's sensory issues, coupled with his indifference for it (unlike his younger brother), made this seem like the most logical way to handle this event.

Boss decided Friday morning that I could take a whole vacation day in an effort to cut our payroll budget at the store. We're set up that sick days and personal days are counted in our payroll dollars, but vacation days are not. Okay, works for me, I'd do something with older son while the other two enjoyed the event.

Alas, Ed went to buy the tickets and they were sold out. I now have a vacation day, so this means we *must* do something with it. :) The kids had asked last week for Sea World and the Zoo, so the Zoo was today's destination.

It was a great day for it-nice warm temperatures, no pressure. One of the Gibbons saw all the people and decided he need to make his presence known to all in the primate area-rather comical to watch. The other thing that the boys always want to see are the sea creatures. We've determined that the stingrays at Lowry Park are much friendlier than the ones at Sea World-and they splash a lot more to get their food!

Once done with the zoo, we weren't ready to go home. We'd talked about mini golf at one point during the week, so out came the entertainment book to see if we could find a Pirate's Cove type place. No, they don't have coupons in the book (nor do I think there's one in Tampa), but we found a Grand Prix place. The complex is pretty big and I suspect we'll go back for the cars. We played a round that had scores to make pro golfers proud. Some of those holes did NOT have flat greens, preventing the light touch from getting to the hole. It was fun, so the scores really didn't matter that much.

Since it was a vacation day, that means no cooking, right? The Grand Prix's cheap pizza smell wafted out while tabulating our golf scores and the hankering for some began. Decided to hit a little italian/greek restaurant in Brandon (Romano's) because everything else there is so good. We get there and I realize that no, they don't make pizzas (just pita pizzas). That's okay, I think we all enjoyed our meals very much. I'd been there on a coworker's recommendation several times, and the last time, I'd finally brought Ed over. This time, the kids really liked it, so I think this is now another mom and pop they'll bug us to head back to.

Good day all around-I'm glad I took the vacation day. The best thing is that I have next Saturday off and Monster Jam is in Orlando. Ed found tickets online, and it looks like the two of them will make an afternoon/evening out of it. All's well that ends well!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Smiling Son

Chef Jr. is not a morning person. I have to say he comes by it honestly. Wake him for school in the morning and he's a class A crab. A half hour later, he's his usual happy go lucky self. His usual M.O. when he's happy is to sing, hum or whistle the way through the day.

This morning, I used the speedy way to chipper kid and snuggled with him for a few minutes. Mission accomplished, he set about getting ready for school in a good mood.

As I'm preparing the boy's lunches, he begins whistling. I realize what he's whistling and laugh. His repetoire this morning was the theme music to the Enzite commercial. You know, the one with "Smiling Bob" that sells medicine for erectile dysfunction. I am laughing, but I can't explain to him what is so darn funny.

I guess he figured that he was happy, and "Smiling Bob" is happy, so why not whistle the "Smiling Bob" song!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sea World

We headed over to Orlando and visited Sea World yesterday. The fun in having annual passes (APs) is that one does not feel any pressure to try to cram everything into one visit. We got there at 1:30 and made a circuit around the park. The only hard and fast I had is that I wanted to see Believe, the new Shamu show. On our first visit, we'd seen some of the dress rehearsals for the show, which opened three weeks later.

Our impression of the park is that it is always immaculate, with employees everywhere. Each encounter with their staff is positive. I get the impression that they took Disney's idea and improved on it by giving their employees free beer!

We stopped at the stingray tank, which is a given with the boys. If there are stingrays anywhere nearby, they'll spend some time petting them (and getting splashed a time or two). Next up was alligators, then penguins.

The hollow leg child chose this point to insist on his ice cream. Mind you, he ate every morsel of his lunch, then finished off my fries. We head to the front of the park, as Ed wanted cake and I definitely wanted a smackerel of something sweet. We get bakery confections for the adults, and I wait in line at the ice cream shop for vanilla soft serve and a pistascio cone for the kids. When I come out, Ed's got one of the staffers with him. She's conducting a survey. Cool deal, and we get free waters for the effort.

One thing I commented on, and I tell anyone asking, Busch does a good job with the food. It's reasonably priced and while not haute cuisine, it's darn tasty. In both of the Florida parks, we've received ample portions for the price. They've got a beef stew in a bread bowl that Ed and I shared on a previous trip that was fantastic. I ended up getting sourdough bread bowls from panera to have with a stew we made at work because the combination can't be beat.

I digress. After the snack break, it was over to Sharks! The funny thing about this is that younger son nearly flipped out the first time we were there. NO WAY was he going inside, he was that afraid. Once through it, he thought it was the coolest-and this is one of his favorite things in the park. After we go through, the kids want to view the tanks outside, and I take the oppportunity to sit down. I'm always amazed at what the kids remember when we do things like this-Older son identified a bunch of the varieties of penguins and younger knows quite a few shark species,

Next, we got to see the Clydesdales. Beautiful animals. Our attempt at a picture is a no go, as someone decided to do his goofy crazed look. No sweat, we'll be back. Into the hospitality house for some beer. Younger son cracks me up "Are we getting wine now?" because we enjoy it at home. Nope, some beer. I tried their new beer shot things-don't do it!

We've now got about an hour and twenty till showtime, so we go to Arctic Adventure. Think of Disney's Star Tours or Body Wars vehicle, with a story that brings you to the arctic. Once there, you see Belugas, Walruses and Polar Bears. We caught the walruses as they were doing their laps.

As there was some time, and the kids insisted, we brought them over to the play area outside the Shamu arena. Older son continues to impress, as we called over to him when time was up and there was not a complaint-he came directly to us.

Believe is a great show. I never saw the previous show, but what these animals do is beautiful. I suppose I should be thankful that Ed wanted seats in the upper arena, the area I'd first chosen to sit did get soaked.

If you're wondering why Sea World/Busch APs and not the beloved Disney? Well, we pay 33 a month for the two Busch parks, while I don't have the 1200 to shell out for Disney. If they went to a monthly payment plan, I'm sure we could find a way to pay for it. Yeah, we miss it, but I'll take days like yesterday anytime.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The leg

The leg, what fun it has been.

Healing is a slow process. Ed commented that the wounds have become much shallower and they have. However, I'm now experiencing some fun in the form of nerve damage. Sometimes, my lower calf feels like people are sticking chef's knives in it and twisting to and fro. It typically happens when I'm not very active, but it happened at work the other day and was pretty bad.

I called Nurse Kathy (lol) and presented symptoms and my theory that it might be RSD, albeit a much milder form than what she's dealing with. It sure sounds like nerve issues. I've called the doctor to let them know (again) about this issue, but for now, I'm dealing with it on my own. I suppose he wrote the script for the Vicodin with multiple refills because he saw this noted on my chart.

I have noticed that it gets much worse if the wounds are allowed to dry out or if there is too much pressure on them. The sucky part of this is my lovely adhesive allergy. If I use tape to cover the dressing, I get itchy and red where the adhesive touches my skin. If I use the self adhering gauze, after time it will bind up and put too much pressure on one spot and/or shift the dressing to the point that part of the wound is exposed to air and dries out.

Argh-it's not going to go away anytime soon. Just have to keep on keeping on with PMA.

In other news, I have four days in a row off from work. Each manager gets a weekend off a month, and I requested Monday since the boys are off for MLK. The boss also gave me Tuesday. The kids were asked what they'd like to do-one wants Sea World and the other the Zoo. Why not? We've got passes for both.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Punchbuggy Blue

This evening I had to run out to the local supermarket so that the kids would have lunches. As the leg has been pretty bad today, I opted to use the store's motorized scooter.

At the checkout, the front end manager orders one of the young men to assist me out to my car. This is a service they cheerfully offer to do, and I usually cheerfully decline. However, today I just didn't feel like schlepping the stuff to the car on foot.

The young man and I make small talk on the way to the car, and once we stopped at the car, he lit up. "This is your car?" When I said yes, he tells me that he LOVES seeing my car in the lot because he plays punchbuggy, lol. He'd recognized my car in the lot off and on for the past two years, but didn't have any idea who the owner was shopping in the store. We ended up chatting about Beetles for a few minutes, which was very nice.

I like driving my car and catching the reaction of little kids. Sometimes, the big kid's reactions are just as much fun...