This week’s update

Well, the big news is that I saw my new doctor on Tuesday, and got back the results of the labs I had drawn the week before.  TSH was normal, so Ms. New Doc did not want to discuss thyroid one word more.  She said, lets start fresh, tell me your symptoms.  So  I did, and her diagnosis is Fibromyalgia.  She wants to start me on Cymbalta, ,which is (three guesses and the first two don’t count….) an antidepressant.  It is indicated for pain and a few other things beside depression but the side effects are horrific on paper.  Her directions to me?  “Take one every night for a week, and if you tolerate it, if you’re not suicidal, take two.”  Uh…. really?

I haven’t filled the prescription yet.  Part of me feels like they’re just dumping me again, not treating me as a person.  The Fibromyalgia diagnosis is sketchy; the two criteria for diagnosis are 1.) Generalized body pain (check!) and 2.) Eleven of eighteen “tender points“, which are specific points on the body, bilaterally, which are literally tender to touch.  I have Zero. I counted.  Twice.

My labs were basically fine; Vitamin D is still low despite mega supplements so I’m going to take mondo doses daily now, along with Calcium, Magnesium, B12, and C.  Antibodies were positive, confirming my theory about the last month or two, that I was having a Hashi’s attack.

I asked about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome vs Fibromyalgia; she said “they’re the same thing.”  Which they’re not really, but yeah, they’re in the same group of diseases.

She wanted me to have a Head CT to rule out MS. Which I did; results pending, but I don’t expect anything amiss.

So where does this leave me?  Pretty much where I started; nowhere.  Murphy is rooting for Fibromyalgia, since then I can stop messing with the diet.  The gluten free thing is really hard, much harder than veg*nism.

Other things this week:

The 23rd was the Anniversary of Dorothy’s passing.  It was a little hard, but much of the time it feels like she’s still in Las Vegas, until we go to send

A Plethora Of Plums

that cute picture of Murph and realize again that she’s not there to receive it.  On a spiritual poetic justice kind of level, we are having an absolute banner year for our plums, which Dorothy loved.  The first year we moved here, there was a huge harvest, but since then most of the time there’s been very little.  We blamed it on our Black Thumbs, as I kill everything.  This winter, one of the storms knocked down a tree right through the middle of one of the plum trees, and we thought it was a goner.  Instead, this year the harvest is ridiculous.  Peru picked a huge boxful, and said it was only about one third of what’s left.  Today, we sorted cleaned, and gifted bags to the neighbors and I’m cooking the rest now down for jelly.  I haven’t canned in years, so this should be interesting.  So now you all know what you’re getting for Christmas, right?

On the way to take Eric to a JOB interview (whoo hooo) we stopped at the hardware store and with our dwindling funds bought canning jars, sugar and pectin, so tomorrow, I go wild.  Tonight, I might even try making some plum ice cream.  The house is filled with the smell of simmering plums; yum!

I’ve had a chance to connect a little with my eldest, who’s been a little absent lately, even when he’s here.  Several nice long chats, like we used to do. It felt really good.  I have missed him a lot.

Tomorrow, Peru’s “Band-In-Training” is playing for the Solstice Festival in Mira Monte. Should be fun!

The problem with feeling better

Wow, is that a negon title, or what? I have to go and find something wrong with feeling well!  Sheesh.

But there is a downside, at least for my ADHD self.  I woke up this morning, feeling pretty darn good.  Happy, not in significant pain, reasonable amount of sleep; wow, life is good!  My first thought is; OMG, this isn’t going to last.  Make the most of it!

So; I get up, take meds, eat breakfast.  Read email and check Craig’s list for jobs.  Call about previous jobs.  Then I start thinking big.  Laundry.  Get that into the washer.  Then I remember my intent from yesterday to work on learning to use my combs on the alpaca I washed.  So I get them down, clean them off, and realize I need “C” clamps to use them, and I don’t have any.  Bummer.  Well, I can wash the rest of the alpaca, right?  So I get my wash bucket, get one batch of alpaca in.  Since I can’t comb, I’ll work on the bathroom. That’s an idea!  So I start going through the closet in the bathroom/laundry/dye room and getting the rubbermaid tubbies with all my fiber stuff in them out.  Oh yeah, I should organize my finished objects, make labels, fold them nicely so I can grab them when I vendor.  And I should go through my sellable spun yarn, weigh and label that too.  Put them on the bed for later… But to clean that closet, I have to clean the closet in the kitchen, to put the cleaning stuff into (rug spot steamer, the beloved’s HUGE metal tool box I can’t even lift, other large cleaning appliances, etc…) but that job is HUGE, so I try to work around. But when I notice the floor in the kitchen is an inch deep in cheerios and oak leaves and crumbs, I sweep the kitchen floor, since I found the dustpan in my closet.  Then, the dining room, since it looks really crumby too.  By then, I’m tired, so I sit down to check email and craig’s list again, knit for a while, trying to finish a few more projects to have to sell in December.  I look around and notice that the laundry is on the bed, waiting to be folded, three tubbies are on the bed waiting to be sorted and labeled,  the alpaca needs it’s second rinse, the second load of laundry is waiting to be put in the washer… my room looks way more of a mess than when I started.  This is the story of my life.

I’m not complaining, mind you.  It’s really nice to have a pain free day or two (yesterday was lovely, though emotional; I’ll try to blog that later. Oh man, another thing on the list…) and I appreciate it immensely.  It does recall however, why I need lists, and organization FIRST. Always, if I’m feeling well, I jump in and do as much as I can, because I don’ t know how long it will last, and I want to get as much done as I can, while I can.  Always remembering that if I do too much too fast, the pain comes back more quickly.

Still, it’s a lovely day; the sun is out for the first time in a week or two, it’s not too hot or too cold.  My plants are loving the rain we’ve been having and are exploding with growth, and that’s so awesome!  So I’ll finish blogging and get back to the laundry and alpaca, and see how much of the rest I can get done.  Keep prioritizing so I can find a system to get the important stuff done.  Recruit helpers.   =]  And hope this break cycle lasts more than a few days.

On My Own

Well, the financial situation being what it is, I can’t go see my TCM practitioner anymore.  No more herbs, no more needles.  It’s so hard to know if it was helping or not, because my symptoms are so cyclic.  I’m going to keep the diet recommendations, at least for a while, to see if I notice any change with just the herbs gone. Then maybe I’ll try going back to my old diet (true vegan.)

Right now, I’m sort of back to baseline; knees hurt but mostly everything else is relatively pain free, itch died to an occasional flare, abdominal pain just barely starting its upswing, tired but not exhausted, brain fog minimal. This is the optimal time in my month; the one week that I feel fairly normal, functional.

I’ve been working on my plants;  discovered an infestation of caterpillars that ate all my arugula and watercress and is now attacking my kale.  At least now I know what’s happening.  So every morning now I’m out picking caterpillars off the undersides of my cauliflower and kale.  And combing the internet for organic solutions to pests.  I find it’s a case of too much information; every website has a different recipe.  I  may have to rely on good old fashioned hand removal.

My cukes have a ton of flowers; and the squash does as well.  I really hope to get some squash; it’s one of my favorite veggies.  The heat this week has been hard on all my plants; a lot of these fall veggies aren’t used to triple digit heat.  That is the advantage of having them in pots though; I can move them into the shade when I need to.  One of my tomato plants doesn’t look like it’s going to make it; the other seems ok.  I’m not sure what happened; it’s not the caterpillars; the leaves just wilted and died.  I can’t ever tell if it’s too much water or not enough.  It was right beside the other tomato plant, so they got the same; not sure why one is ok and the other isn’t.  If anyone out there has any advice, I’d love to hear it…

I washed some alpaca fleece, which surprisingly did not dry in the heat yesterday.  It feels soft and lovely though; I can’t wait to spin it.  I’m a little concerned about how I’m going to prepare it though.  I have combs, which I’ve never learned how to use, but I’m not sure they’re suitable for alpaca.  I got this fleece directly from the shepherdess, who treats the animals like her babies.  It’s so cool to know the name of the animal that gave the fleece.  She gave me three bags, one of which I am dying  to get my hands on, but I wanted to practice with the white first, since I’m a bit rusty.  Lucien has the most amazing fleece, fawn-reddish color, and the loft is just amazing.  Right now, he’s tucked away til I get my mojo back.

I’m still job hunting.  It’s very discouraging. Most of the time I don’t even get the consideration of a rejection, I’m simply ignored. I do have an interview tomorrow, so cross your fingers.

What’s wonderful is that after an initial meltdown over finances, I’m finding that trial is bringing us together as a family.  We’re focusing on what we can do, how we can help each other, appreciate each other,  and I have taken a few more steps learning to trust.  Personal growth, and all that jazz.  It’s still scary to be unemployed in this economy, but I love my family so much, and it’s so good to know how strong we can be.

Time to go check Craig’s List for jobs again; and plan dinner, which is going to be Greek Lemon potatoes, brussels sprouts, and tofu, I think.  Gonna get creative… uh oh!

Happy Birthday!

September is a bountiful month for birthdays in my life.  My friend Doug and my brother Keith both were born on the second, my best friend’s husband the fifth, my son Murphy the seventh, my mother the tenth, my husband’s son Bill on the thirteenth.  As usual, I neglected to celebrate most of these special days in the way they deserved.  I’m sorry for that, and hope that telling you here how much I love you all and hope your day was wonderful makes up for it a bit.

We did try to do well by Murphy; he hit double digits this year, so it’s sort of a momentous day.  He asked for a few video games for his birthday, which he received, and we went to dinner at Carrow’s so he could have a “pancake pile up” for dinner.  The staff was really nice and sang happy birthday to him when they brought a sundae for his dessert unexpectedly.  Despite being a bit rushed for reasons we couldn’t change, it was a fun evening and he loved his presents.

The job hunt goes on.  I will be doing some fill in work for one of the consultants at my last job, so that will help some.  Mostly, I can’t wait to start school.  I’m getting more and more excited about it, and have really worked hard at arranging my home and my life so that I’ll be able to have space and time to study in peace.

Mmmmmm… I’m making West African Groundnut Stew for dinner, and the smell is starting to fill the house.  Delish!  Peru came home from school for lunch today, and I made us all falafel sandwiches for lunch.  With homemade hummus.  My recipe is getting better, but it’s still hard to get used to not having garlic in hummus.

I seem to be heading into a pain cycle again.  I did do a little bit of exercise yesterday (and when I say little, I mean LITTLE!) but ended up having pretty major pain all over from it late evening.  Made the stew and lunch today and had enough pain that I needed to sit and blog a bit before I could get up again.  It’s so hard to decide whether to just power through and hope my body gets stronger, or take it easy so that 10  minutes of exercise doesn’t hurt for two days.  My intuition says that the benefits of exercise on health, mind and spirit is worth it, in moderation, so that’s what I’m trying to do.

And my gardening!  It’s coming along.  I’ve killed one plant that was entirely my fault; three more have died that I think was animals (arugula and watercress), but everything else seems to be reasonably healthy.  I have four tiny tomatoes (two are cherry, two are not) that are growing and look healthy.  I have a squash and a cucumber that are thriving, but no flowers yet.  And a lot of potted herbs that are doing well.  Here are some pictures:

Finally – Pot Stickers!

I haven’t been doing a lot of cooking; it’s been HOT here, over a hundred degrees every day.    A lot of  salads, leftovers,  hummus and veggie meals, and a quick stir fry or two.   But the other day, I did make something I’ve been dying to make for ages; POT STICKERS!

I used a recipe originally written by Alton Brown (my hero!) but had been veganized; I had to make further changes to adapt to my bizarro diet.  Basically, I finely chopped some extra firm tofu, kale, carrots, and napa cabbage; added tamari sauce, grated ginger, sesame oil. My willing slaves then did the stuffing.  I didn’t have dumpling wraps, so I used a vegan brand of wonton wrappers and folded them diagonally.  I served them with some leftover General Tsao’s sauce and the dipping sauce that came with the recipe (soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, a touch of siracha), but I actually liked them best plain. Everyone LOVED these.  A lot of fun to make, and more fun to eat!  I did learn a lot from this first attempt. I need to measure the water added to the pan (too much is not good) and have just the right amount of oil for frying (too much is greasy; too little is too dry).  We froze the leftovers for another meal.  It makes quite a number of pot stickers.  After we ran out of wrappers I used the remainder of the  filling in the next day’s stir fry.  Simple, delicious.  The children were upset that we weren’t having the actual pot stickers for dinner though!

I’m looking for work, which is never a fun task.  My hours have been reduced, so I need to find something, anything, to keep the special diet coming (not to mention the herbs and acupuncture treatments!)  It’s been very discouraging; I sent out 20+ resumes on Craig’s List; one half got no response whatsoever, the other half got scam replies.  I have one person who has promised to call me today for an interview; keep your fingers crossed.  It’s office work, which I was hoping to get away from, but it’s a non-profit with a cause close to my heart, so it will still feel like socially responsible work.  Everyone in my house is searching for work, so if you have ANYTHING you want done, give us a yell.

My plants are coming along well.  It looked touch and go for a while.  The mint, which everyone tells me is so easy to grow, wilted terribly as soon as I put it in the new pot.  Neither watering nor sun seemed to help for a couple of days.  Yesterday, however, it perked up.  I did some rapid damage control, pruning back the dead leaves, pinching off stuff that looked too far gone, and it looks like it may survive!  WooT!  Ortiz Nursery is having a bulb demo on Saturday; I may attend, just for the giggles.  I so love growing things, and I’ve always been so desperately bad at it.  I’m really hoping this time will be different.  I really would like to get to the point where I can grow a significant portion of our food, and I want to compost.  Ambitious, for someone with bad knees, constant pain and fatigue, no?  I’m told I don’t do things halfway; which means when I fail, I fail SPECTACULARLY.  Pictures of the garden soon.  (Don’t you love how a few small pots becomes a “garden?”)

Oh, and for those who care; we finally uploaded pictures from the camera. Ok, so some are almost a year old.  I’ll be updating the family blog (Homespun Dreamings) with them soon.   I’m also going to be moving the family blog eventually; my aim is to have three blogs.  This one, for the journey I’m on now, Homespun Dreamings, which will become a retail shop for various and sundry items I make to sell, and a third blog, yet to be named, for family.   Oh, and my beloved will also soon have a blog for his musical undertakings; it’s under construction at present.   I’ll update as info becomes available.

Pain and Gain

Once again this week my job status has become, let’s say fluid.  So last night, gradually, I could feel the pain coming back.  I’ve had a week, possibly two, with very little to none peripheral pain; ie, my fingers and toes have not been aching.  Last night, and much more this morning, it’s back, along with the generalized itch driving me crazy.  Rather than wallow, inspired by my FB friend LizzieK8, I got off my butt and did things.  I ran a bunch of errands, including  emailing a billion resumes,  shopping, and going to Ortiz Nursery to pick up many of the herbs that Nathan wants me to use instead of my beloved onion and garlic.  I’m exhausted and stressed but am proud of myself that I got it all done.  Tonight, after the sun goes down and the temperature falls below “Broil,” I will attempt to repot the herbs and get a garden of sorts going.

I got Stevia, lemon balm, thyme, lavender, arugula, two kinds of tomatoes, and a few others, I think.  I’m so hoping I don’t kill them!

Rough Week

I have found it this week tough to stick to my new “diet.”  I use the quotes, because it is not really a diet; it’s food as medicine.  Which I am all in favor of, until I received  a list of foods I should eat, and a much longer list of foods I shouldn’t.

Changing to a vegan diet was a breeze compared to my current trial.  I am to cut out onions and garlic in all forms, along with cinnamon, all permutations of pepper (including ground black, all chiles, and even sweet peppers).  Limit soy, wheat, most grains, all fried food, and did I mention onion and garlic?  I’m supposed to include more (say it with me) dark green leafy vegetables, which is fine; but salads cannot have any commercial salad dressings, since they all contain raw garlic and onion (raw is especially bad.)  Even making my own dressing is tough; I’m not really supposed to have vinegar either.  Nathan recommends citrus juices (of which I am not really a fan) and olive oil, adding spices I don’t have (and don’t really like: marjoram, dill, thyme, lemon balm.)

I was very frustrated this past week, and especially this weekend, feeling that there is nothing I can eat that is enjoyable any more.  I didn’t mind giving up meat or dairy;  I truly enjoy a varied diet and there was still plenty I could eat.  Indian food especially was a new and wonderful frontier for me, and I was thrilled learning how to cook and eat it.  But most Indian food has garlic and onion in large quantities.  So now that’s out.  Mexican food is out; but that’s not really one of my favorites, so I can live without that too.  Chinese food?  Heavy on the garlic and onion again.  Sandwiches?  No bread. I’m allowed sprouted bread, or non wheat based bread, but my experiences with them so far have not inspired me.  I’d rather live without.

All this left me feeling deprived, frustrated, a bit angry and resentful.  BUT…. I really really really want to feel better.  And I’m beginning to see signs that maybe, just maybe, little parts of my health picture may be improving.

I met with Nathan tonight, and we talked about it.  He gave me a lot of ideas, and told me I don’t need to be QUITE as strict as I have been (I do tend to be an all-or-nothing sort of person, often to my detriment.)  He fed my “I want to grow things” meme and gave me a few tips on that as well.  I left his office feeling a lot better about things.  Due to financial constraints, I’m going to cut back the acupuncture but continue the herbs.

The other bad news is that my hours have been cut in half  “temporarily.”  We hope, temporarily.  Since I only work 20 hours as it is, this is rather catastrophic.  So I’m back pounding the pavement,  looking for a  job I can physically do and ethically live with.  Ideally.  I will, of course, do almost anything to get the bills paid.  Prostitution is still illegal, right? Just checking.

Overall, my pain has seemed a little less; the mid cycle pain came this weekend with cramping for about four days, but it wasn’t doubled over kind of pain, and the associated back pain was better also.  My mental energy seems a little higher; I actually took all the plants in our kitchen window that Billy had set up for me a system so I wouldn’t kill them (Thanks Bill!) and I repotted them and put them outside.  This is a huge thing for me.  I now have parsley, sage, rosemary and mint (psych!) growing in pots, as well as a pot of watercress.  The mint and the watercress two days later look iffy; it was really hot today but the soil was already wet, so I didn’t water them anymore.  Tomorrow I want to try to buy some stevia, marjoram, dill, lemon balm, nasturnums and bachelor buttons (flowers I’m told are good in salads!) and maybe some veggies.  Ambitious, no?

Like I said, all or nothing.