doctoring…the old, fashioned way…with new possibilities

I’ve written previously that I often seek out alternative health practitioners to help resolve whatever physical issues I might be experiencing. While I do so wholeheartedly it is still not without hesitation at the thought of leaving behind the more familiar world of medical doctors. Those wizened, old men in white garb with stethoscopes dangling about their necks.

My husband and I thought the world of the last 2 doctors we saw with some regularity. They were both General Practitioners, not specialists. Drs. Kinnish and Purden had what many in the medical practice lack these days…a warm, bedside manner. We never felt rushed for time during appointments. We felt as though we had their undivided attention. We could ask questions and not feel dumb. We could even laugh at something funny.

While neither physician had all the answers, I felt as though they were in the trenches right alongside me trying to figure things out as best they could.

Dr. Kinnish retired at 67. Dr. Purden returned home to Canada to work as a hospital Medical Director and teach medicine to wannabe doctors. Both losses left me a little sad because of the compassionate human beings that they were, as well as my being left to seek out a new family doctor.

Even while I was seeing Dr. Purden, I began seeing a naturopath for digestive problems. With a thorough food allergy testing, she got me up and running better than I had been for a long time. Had I continued seeing her, I’m sure she could have helped me resolve other issues as well. Unfortunately, many naturopaths don’t accept insurance which makes filing claims a little tricky. Paying for services up front gets pricey, and dealing directly with insurance carriers can be a headache. Trust me! I use to work for one.

Well, lo and behold. I found a naturopath, Dr. Brooke, who files insurance claims on my behalf and accepts whatever is allowed. I just remit the copay. Hallelujah! And, as with most naturopaths, she’ll spend an hour with me if that’s what I require. I can ask all the questions I want. We can actually have a conversation about all the ailments I’m experiencing. There’s not the usual limitation as there can be with medical doctors…one symptom per appointment, please!

My latest venture with Dr. Brooke, and her colleague Dr. Kerns, is hormone replacement therapy.

Most women seek help when they go through “the change of life,” as my mother use to say. In other words, the dreaded…menopause. Contending with hot flashes and night sweats are debilitating, from what I’ve heard. I was one of the lucky few who didn’t experience these dastardly symptoms. My main problem was insomnia. I don’t think it helped that I was a night owl, inclined to stay up way past the bewitching hour. As I got older, vaginal dryness was also something with which I had to contend.

There are medical resolutions to the menopausal dilemma, such as Premarin. The fact that its literature specifically states there might be a small chance of contracting cancer put me off. And then when I learned it was derived from, of all things, horse’s urine, I was really turned off.

As I started to feel better with the thyroid supplement Dr. Brooke prescribed, and my fibromyalgia symptoms subsided, I began discussing the possibility of doing hormone replacement therapy, specifically The Wiley Protocol. Up to that point it had helped relieve my dryness symptoms.

Following several discussions I decided to take the plunge, beginning treatment a few months ago. No expert yet, I’m still trying to acclimate myself to the nuances of HRT. I don’t prescribe it for others, unless they’ve done their own research. The decision to alter the course of one’s life is individual. There are pluses and minuses to everything.

What I can speak to is my own experience.

Mine has been a hectic 2014 thus far…having a young adult back in the fold as she decided the next step in her career…a bath remodel that had its hiccups throughout…a dear pet whose life has disintegrated with chronic sciatica…a couple of roundtrip flights which hyper-activates my fibromyalgia…and moving my dancer daughter 3,000 miles away for the second time in a year.

Amazingly enough, with a few late mornings of sleeping in after recently returning from helping my daughter with her move, I have been…good to go. No. I’ve been…great to go! A call from my chiropractor’s office asking if I needed an appointment met with a resounding…”No! I’m fine. Thank you for calling though.”

While I may look the same on the outside…a bulging midriff…chipmunk cheeks…sagging chest…I feel more youthful on the inside. And with that, I can keep on…keeping on.

Baby Boomers are expected to live longer, thanks to technology advancing at the speed of light. However longer lives don’t mean better lives. Our internal clocks have not been altered. We’re still genetically tied to our ancestors whose lives were shorter by decades.

There’s no fountain of youth. Only possibilities which might help give us quality of life for as long as we live.

…and that…I can live with.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

nurturing thursdays: choices…changes…part 2

This is where I come in…

This year I turn 65. The year of Medicare. On the thresh hold to formally entering…old age. 

I’ve been practicing for a while, even telling folks I was already 65. My husband who turned 66 recently, pointed out my mistake. Seems I was rushing him along.

Funny thing. As the years pile up I’ve become more preoccupied with, of all things, death.

Without realizing it, death has become my point of reference these days. Not in a morbid sense, more like savoring the pluses in my life while trying to downplay or diminish the minuses.

So with my daughter as ring master, I’m jumping through the hoops and…going for the gusto!

On Facebook the other day, I saw a photo of my mother-in-law seated with her 7 daughters. They were the picture of health and happiness. She sat shrunken, a shadow of her former, robust self. A quick glimpse of her eyes spoke of a woman growing older by the second. Yes, she looked all of her 80+ years. But she seemed to me, even older on the inside.

Years before my mom died, she fell in the bathroom of a vacation home we rented near the beach on Oahu. Her legs were like toothpicks, bowed from years of suffering the effects of arthritis. She was probably mortified that it took several of us to get her to her feet. Sadness seemed to hover over her like a black cloud in spite of her efforts to smile away her tears.

Both images are permanently embedded into my brain. Old age is not a pretty sight to behold.

For more than a decade now fibromyalgia, arthritis and I have occupied the same body…mine. In recent years I’ve been forced to take a backseat, while they’ve taken to calling all the shots. By late afternoon, I’m totally fatigued. Muscling through dinner preparation and evening chores, I usually fall into bed exhausted, aching from head to toe.

Caring for our dog who has heart disease and chronic neck and back stiffness, has only added to my own aches and pains. I must cajole her into taking her meds morning and night, including forcing a capsule down her throat. I must lift her in and out of the car when taking her to the vet, as well as carry her up and down flights of stairs.

Knowing that we women are often the designated caretakers, I wonder how long I can manage to help those about whom I care, as my own health dwindles. How can I help my husband should his health fail?

It’s more than likely my chronic pain was caused by the statin CRESTOR which I started taking to lower my cholesterol. I alerted the prescribing doctor to the fact that news reports indicated Asian women were susceptible to muscle pain caused by the drug. He’d not heard about it so I remained on Crestor, especially since it did the job intended. Even a subsequent physician, who happened to be female and Asian, ballyhooed my information. Not until a third physician drew blood to measure my C-Reactive Protein number and found it to be 1000+ instead of within the normal range of mid-100, did I stop taking CRESTOR. Only after trial and error did I end up with the one I’m currently taking which doesn’t have the same effect…yet.

In the midst of trying to determine the cause of my chronic pain, the doctor sent me to a rheumatologist who diagnosed me as having fibromyalgia. Like the “kiss of death,” I’ve been living with it ever since. Thanks, CRESTOR!

Alternative medical practitioners, including chiropractors and massage therapists, have helped me live a fairly normal life. I’ve done pretty much whatever I’ve wanted to do. But with old age settling in for the duration, quality of life becomes harder and harder to sustain. 

After much reading, discussions with my naturopath, and soul searching,  I have begun the WILEY PROTOCOL natural hormone replacement therapy. 

Not having had the truly bothersome effects of menopause like hot flashes and night sweats, I never felt the need for hormone replacement treatment. But now that old age is staring me in the face and my quality of life is in jeopardy, renewing my body’s resources seems imperative. 

Without hormonal balance, our bodies are going the inevitable route of shutting down. And while that is the natural order of things, I’d like to make the journey as enjoyable as I possibly can. 

I’d like to savor the moments I can still do for others, and with others. I’d like to continue laughing, and hugging. I’d like to feel the excitement of learning new things no matter how old I get. I want to keep on writing, and blogging.

Essentially, I’d like to keep on…keeping on.

So why choose to change things up? What’s my goal? Well I’ll tell you…it’s for quality of life…no matter the quanity of years.

…here’s to living life…the best way i possibly can!!!

………hugmamma.IMG_3370

thanksgivings past…

As the holidays approach…among the many feel-good stories are one or two that tell of human angst. You know, where a parent can’t forgive his child some youthful transgression. Or best girlfriends are still not speaking because one stole the other’s boyfriend years before. Or siblings who never got along still can’t sit down together for a Thanksgiving meal.

So much is expected of the holidays…cheer, merriment, good will toward all. Any negative vibes should be dismissed, or at least temporarily “swept under the rug.”

Have you looked under that rug lately? Pretty dusty, I’ll bet.

Thanksgiving Day is a mixed bag of feelings for me.

IMG_4944On the one hand, I’m happy to have my loved ones close at hand. Hubby home from work and relaxing. Our daughter home from wherever she’s been dancing. 

We’re always blest to sit down to a bounteous meal, whether of our own doing or that of some clever chef at a restaurant.

I count my blessings, every one, including our furry family of critters.

We’ve a comfortable home in which we dwell, and wonderful memories to keep us company the rest of our lives.

Family and friends are there when we need them. And even when we don’t.

Despite all the joys with which I’ve been blest, one memory of Thanksgiving past continues to haunt my thoughts.

It was my first Thanksgiving as a young, married 20-year-old.

Amid family and friends, I became increasingly saddened despite all the revelry happening around me. I felt I didn’t fit in. Perhaps it was because I wanted my brand new husband to fit in. His shyness seemed a hindrance, although I don’t think he felt it. Nonetheless, I felt for him, and in turn for myself.

Deciding to halt the charade that I wasn’t able to continue, I approached the hostess to say I wasn’t feeling well and that we would be leaving.

It was as though I’d removed my finger from the hole in a dam and let loose a tsunami of seismic proportions.

As everyone gathered around, I was given a thorough dressing down like I’d never experienced before, or since. As tears ran uncontrollably down my cheeks, I was told my husband and I were immature for playing with the youngsters, and not drinking with the adults.

The remaining tirade is now a fog, but at the time every word was like an arrow that found its mark. I was devastated. Some of the men tried to run interference, but the tongue lashing continued until I was mush.

The final blow that took me down was being told that if I left early, I would never be able to step foot in the house again. To appease others, I sat through dinner, head bent, self esteem shattered.

We never returned for Thanksgiving Dinner.

As is always the case, forgiving occurs…long before you forget.

There have been get-togethers, far and few between. None have ever bridged the gap that grew ever-wider because of distance and time. 

But as the years pass, I’ll always wonder what initiated the vendetta. And why was it aimed at me?

An apology was never extended. I figured because I was probably culpable in the perpetrator’s mind. That it was ever open to discussion never occurred to me. With her, it was…what it was. Case closed.

So if I’m gun-shy around Thanksgiving celebrations…it is…what it is.

Some have told me that I’m too sensitive. I’ve recently read it can be the result of having fibromyalgia.

Whether it’s because of an incident long ago or an illness that’s currently got me in its grips, my holiday story is one of reflection.

…thanksgiving is not a one-size-fits-all celebration… 

………hugmamma.

English: "The First Thanksgiving at Plymo...

English: “The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

   

what levels the playing field…between generations?

Illness!

No doubt about it. When young or old get sick, real sick, all bets are off.

Fibromyalgia Eye

Recently I’ve posted about my debilitating bout with fibromyalgia. The best way to describe what I was feeling was escalating chronic pain, and fatigue that accompanied me from my first sip of green tea…until I laid me down to sleep.

With lots of rest and minimal exertion…with which I’m still wrangling (give me an ounce of energy and I’m going 24/7)…I’m on the mend.

Yesterday I read a 16-year-old blogger’s rambling thoughts about dealing with fibromyalgia. My heart went out to her.

Imagine being a high-schooler facing the normal teenage dilemmas…peer pressure…boys…exams…parents’ expectations. Add to that an ailment that demands most of your attention from the minute you walk through the classroom door, until you’ve written the last sentence on that essay due tomorrow.

In this case, the young blogger had to pull back from the brink of a total breakdown, because she expected to fare better on her math exam than the she did previously. She was trying to beat a 93. Instead she got an 88.

An A-type personality is already difficult to manage, without adding an “elephant” into the room…fibromyalgia.

I’ve had the time and opportunity to reset my body. As a housewife, I can make my own schedule. There’s no external pressures making demands of me. Hubby leaves me to my own devices, knowing I’ll do what needs to be done in the moment.

No such luck for the suffering school girl attending classes, doing homework, answering to teachers and parents, struggling with failed efforts to make friends, no prospects of a boyfriend in sight.  And just dealing with normal teenage angst due to hormones running rampant.

Sometimes it even sucks to be young!

There’s no escaping illnesses that get a stranglehold on one’s life…young or old. They balance the “playing field.” All we can do is make each inning count. And perhaps…

…have compassion for the other generation…

………hugmamma.

27/365: fractured reality/grace under pain

27/365: fractured reality/grace under pain (Photo credit: Samie Harding)

friends affect us…

fibromyalgia awareness

Found an interesting post Nine Signs that Unhealthy Friendships are Fueling Your Fibromyalgia at http://asethaviens.com/

I’d go so far as to say that unhealthy relationships of any kind aren’t good for fibromyalgia sufferers. Then again, Asetha is correct in placing so-called friends, at the top of the list.

Friends have quick access to our innermost thoughts and feelings.

We trust friends to offer us words of wisdom.

Aren’t friends the first to whom we turn for compassion…praise…support?

Friendships can, however, become the breeding ground for discontent. Remember the old adage “Familiarity breeds contempt?” It’s sad when that happens. When friends begin to envy our lives in one way or another. 

I don’t suppose even friends realize when they begin to cross the line. Ones who take a dig at you every now and then, thinking you won’t notice or that they’re only thinking of what’s good for you.

What’s good for me.

I believed my mom when she said that to me. However, even she could lead me on a merry chase that way. Nonetheless, she borne me so I knew she had my back. Most of the time, at least.

When others tell me, or imply, that they know what’s good for me. They go too far. Even I don’t always know what’s good for me, so how can someone looking at me on the outside know what’s going on inside?

Companionship with folks like myself who are tentatively making our way through life, humble about our strengths, forgiving of our weaknesses…that’s more my style when it comes to friendships.

Although I can probably count my good friends on one hand, I enjoy the moments we share…and relish seeing them again, whenever.

Not judging others because we don’t walk in their shoes seems the best advice any friend can give another.

…that’s what i offer you…dear friend…

………hugmamma.Nashville 09-2010 00058

what friends are for…

…especially best friends to whom you’re fortunate enough to be married.IMG_5146

A friend from the past, someone with whom I spent fun times when I lived in New York many, many moons ago, recently mailed me copies of photos she’d found while perusing her albums.

At the time hubby and I were probably in our late 20s, early 30s.

The memories of our early married years came flooding back as I gazed at those pictures.

I remembered the ups and downs which most young couples endure. That we made it to 43 years, and counting, is a testimonial to the love we’ve shared since we first laid eyes upon one another. Well, maybe it was lust which turned to loving and just as importantly…liking.

Appearances have a lot to do with individuals being attracted to one another. However, personalities that mesh, and having things in common, also figure prominently into the mix. As time passes, the latter two may even acquire equal status with good looks, if not surpass it altogether.

In his younger years I thought myself lucky to have my own Elvis Presley look-alike. Suffice it to say some girlfriends agreed with me, as did total strangers. Some even making a play for my husband. While on a business trip to Chicago, my husband said one woman told him if he ever returned he should look her up. Duh?!? Excuse me!?! 

June 2011 00010Even older women gasped at my husband’s good looks, one realtor asking me how it was that I came to marry him. Obviously she considered me a plain Jane by comparison. I didn’t hold it against her though, because we bought our house with her help. And I really did like her.

An executive with a company my husband had been employed by in NYC, hired him into a management position when she joined another organization. That was the beginning of the awesome career my husband has enjoyed these last 35+  years. And the woman, now in her 70s or 80s has remained a friend, in touch from time to time.

While my husband remains as attractive to me as when we first met, his caring ways are what I find most appealing now. I was reminded of them once again as he helped me through these last few days, as I strove to recover after fibromyalgia knocked me off of my feet.

We help each other, hubby and me…

…isn’t that what best friends do for one another?…

………hugmamma.Imported Photos 00151

 

nurturing thursdays: kick back…you’re allowed!

I had someone ask me once why it was I couldn’t rebound as quickly as my husband from a trip abroad, especially since he reported back to work the day after we returned. The implication was that somehow I was a slacker. I who was a housewife with time on my hands. By that person’s standards, I’m sure I was. That she knew little about my daily routine seemed of little consequence. 

IMG_5044Criss-crossing the country these last 11 years to visit with my daughter has made traveling less than pleasurable. Bunking down on air mattresses for days or weeks at a time takes its toll on my arthritic back. Keeping up with a 27-year-old dancer’s hectic performance schedule is enervating, but it’s also a killer. The inability to maintain a healthy diet eventually takes its toll, as does losing track of my exercise regimen. My brain goes on vacation when I need it the most, and my body and I are left to fend for ourselves. The result is that I’m a total mess when I return home to my sanctuary for old-timers.

Since our daughter’s dance career changed directions a few months ago, our lives have been a mad dash to get her settled in, and moving on. Since September I’ve been to Houston and back 3 times. Each trip lasted only several days. In between trips, I’ve moved stuff around in my house, our storage unit, and elsewhere more times than I care to count…when our daughter moved home…when we helped settle her into her Houston rental…when her bedroom here was remodeled…when I sold antiques and collectibles at a local vintage fair…and when we helped our daughter pack up when she left Houston and headed for her two week gig in Pittsburgh.

My body finally came to a screeching halt when I returned home this week. Rebelling, it seemed to say “take care of me…or I’m outta here!”

Trying to re-acclimate to my diet this week while ramping up my exercises, sent my arthritis and fibromyalgia into overdrive. It didn’t help that I had scheduled back-to-back appointments every day, save Friday. On that day I could not drag myself out of bed.

I decided to take the advice of my physical therapist whom I saw on Wednesday. Darci, a compassionate young woman in her 30s, told me to listen to my body. She warned that I had  gone beyond my limits, and now I needed to stop…and take care of myself. Sad that I needed someone’s permission to put myself first.

My body needed to rest and recuperate. And it was up to me to see that it got it.

So I lay in bed, in pain, but at peace with the fact that I deserved to heal. I knew I would be no good to my husband or my daughter unless I was good to myself.

Nurturing ourselves is not a bad thing. 

…and don’t let anyone tell you differently.IMG_1415

 

………hugmamma.

chronic pain…oy vey!!!

fibromyalgia awareness

Image by veganjoy via Flickr

A few years ago my family physician referred me to a Rheumatologist, a specialist in rheumatoid arthritiswho told me I was suffering from fibromyalgia. I’d been experiencing never-ending muscle pain in my upper neck area. I’d gone to Dr. Kinnish because I’d not found relief at the hands of another doctor I’d been seeing. I’d tried to tell her I thought the cholesterol-lowering statin Crestor might be a contributing factor to my chronic pain. But she, and other doctors before her, including the one who’d prescribed Crestor in the first place, paid no heed to what I was saying. After all, I only had a news report to support my claim…far from the expertise of those in the medical profession.

On the Take

Image by colros via Flickr

Thankfully Dr. Kinnish took my claim seriously and ordered blood work. The results came back…literally through the roof! Where the norm for CK, Serum is between 24-173, mine was 1228! With my doctor’s guidance, which included the advice to stop taking Crestor, I was able to bring my pain indicator down considerably. At present it stands between 200-300, depending upon the physical activity to which my body’s been subjected in the weeks prior to testing. Sitting in economy seats on 10 hour-plus international flights definitely elevated my muscle aches so that in recent visits to my chiropractor, she said my entire back seemed like that of a football linebacker’s. When I went for a second treatment, she said I was only half a line-backer. Her followup advice? Go back to exercising…to flex my muscles. And that’s what I plan to do.

Chronic Pain Barbie

Image by Deborah Leigh (Migraine Chick) via Flickr

Meanwhile, I wanted to share the following sound advice from Dr. Peter Abact, author of Take Charge of Your Chronic Pain: The Latest Research, Cutting-Edge Tools, and Alternative Treatments for Feeling Better.

THE INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE now estimates that chronic pain afflicts an estimated 116 million Americans, making it one of the major health problems of our time and one of the biggest reasons people see their doctors or miss work. Odds are that at least one member in every family is dealing with pain at this very moment. Chronic pain can affect every aspect of your life, from how you move your body to what you think and feel.

When you think of pain, you are likely to think about acute pain, which is a symptom of tissue damage and inflammation when you first get injured. This type of pain often gets better with a little rest and responds well to medications.

Chronic pain is very different, because it is an experience that can overwhelm you for months and years. Chronic pain is a disease, and if you aren’t careful it can rob you of things you cherish most in life, such as your independence, health, family and career. Common causes of chronic pain include diseases of the spine, fibromyalgia and arthritis, and it is often accompanied by depression, insomnia and anxiety.

Yoga Class at a Gym

Image via Wikipedia

To address chronic pain, you need to start by pursuing two main lines of attack. The first is finding tools you can rely on every day. This might include everything from stretches, special exercises and meditation to taking regular breaks from the computer; with practice and persistence, you will be amazed at what you can do. For example, recent studies have found that both yoga and tai chi are effective in treating the symptoms of muscle pain associated with fibromyalgia, and also that bed rest actually aggravates back pain while walking provides relief.

The second is making the necessary lifestyle changes to create your optimum health. This means reexamining what you do with your time each day. Taking time out each day to focus on yourself is critical to developing an effective pain-management strategy.

meditation

Give yourself a break from computers and cell phones, and spend that time preparing a healthy meal, getting some fresh air and exercise or just having some quiet moments to filter out all of the nervous energy running through your brain.

Your body will feel better when you keep it active, and your mind will stay sharper when you lower your stress. And remember, the better you are at taking care of yourself, the more effective you will be at being there for those who love you.

If you’re like me, forever rationalizing my aches and pains to those with doubts, Dr. Abact’s treatise on the subject is a God-send. Rather than talk until I’m “blue in the face,” I’d just swallow my words and ignore the naysayers as best I could. Not an easy task, especially with those whom I’m in regular contact. They look at me as though I’m spewing my usual yada, yada, yada. For those in my position, I hope this brings you some satisfaction in knowing it’s not all in your head…

…but that it truly is…in your body………hugmamma.  

ever have one of those years?

I know the year’s not done, but in the words of the reigning Queen Elizabeth, thus far mine’s been an “annus horribilis.” I’m not complaining, well maybe a tad. It’s more that I’m amazed at being blindsided by events over which I’ve had no control. I’m sure I speak for every one of us.

For me the chain of events began in late Fall when my daughter returned home for health reasons. As her mom I naturally felt the time with us was not just about physical healing. I knew it included emotional, spiritual and mental care as well. Her inner wellness was just as crucial as her external wellness. That for me meant making the journey with her. I felt her lows, and I reveled in her ascents back to normalcy. But it was a roller coaster ride for sure. And while I made certain that she had all kinds of support, I thought I could go it alone. Of course I reached out to my husband and friends, but moms tend to take on more than they can sustain. I didn’t know I had, until my daughter left.

Illness came calling almost as soon as our daughter boarded her flight home. I was laid up for weeks battling digestive, as well as respiratory ailments. At the time my husband was away on a business trip. Not being able to get out of the house for stretches at a time, my spirits were stretched thin, very thin. Not getting to exercise class regularly didn’t help.

Deciding to have physical therapy for chronic upper back, shoulder and neck pain once I felt well enough, got the endorphins moving. The sun seemed to be smiling down upon me once again as I got outdoors, breathing deeply of fresh air and renewed hope for better days ahead. Of course Christmas needed to go back into plastic, storage bins, but I hadn’t the strength yet for that monstrous chore. It would have to wait until I returned from our trip to see our daughter perform. But I wasn’t prepared for what awaited me 3,000 miles away.

Almost from the get-go, our family was engulfed in a discussion of differing opinions. Any mother of a young adult knows we must tread lightly with our opinions. Yes, I want her to know how I feel, but I don’t want to live her life. At 61, I don’t want to live mine, AND hers. Been there, done that, don’t want to do it again. Besides, she’s very capable of living her own life. But it’s very difficult not wanting to share my decades of experience, in the hopes that she won’t make my mistakes. Needless to say our family endured a few days of tip-toeing around one another. In the midst of it all, my husband left on another business trip. And he’s usually the neutral party. After a day or so, and much discussion, my daughter and I resumed our loving, BFF status.

Throughout the ordeal, the flu was brewing in my daughter’s gut. She danced sick, endured our brouhaha, and finally succumbed. The weekend after her performance I took her to the ER with a migraine headache that included dizziness, nausea, and mild vomiting. We sat in the lobby with many, other sick people waiting our turn to be seen, first by the insurance clerk and then the nurse, and then the doctor. Our visit began at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, and didn’t end until 11 p.m. that night. The best part for my daughter was the last hour-and-a-half, when she slept like a baby because of the Benadryl she was getting intravenously. At that point, I was so light-headed, not having eaten since breakfast. Once I told the nurse about my hunger, she and the doctor wrapped things up pretty quickly. Once we got home, my daughter fell into bed, immediately dozing off again. I proceeded to raid the icebox. I know, my age is showing, but “icebox” somehow seems more apropos than “refrigerator.” Maybe because it makes me feel like a kid again, when MY mom did the worrying.

With my daughter sleeping in the next morning, I felt life was finally back on track, so I sat down to blog on my laptop at her dining table. Mindlessly writing, enjoying the moment, I surfed the internet for a picture to add to my post. As soon as I clicked on a photo of a picturesque beach on Maui, all Hell seemed to break loose. Those words blinking incessantly before me “virus, virus, virus’ will forever be emblazoned on my brain. Waking my daughter, together we wend our way through Hell, and back. Trying to buy a pop-up anti-virus security product, “system tool,” only got us more viruses. In fact, the laptop screen went entirely red with “VIRUS” glaring at us in huge, black letters. Using my daughter’s computer we sought online help. We found Tech Pros whose opening page warned of “system tool” being a scam. A half-hour’s drive away, we left my poor, inundated laptop in the hands of the experts..

At a cost of $199 plus tax, my good-as-new laptop was back home with me a couple of days later.  It’s actually better than before. Tech Pros installed a security system, in addition to zapping all those yucky viruses, “dead as door nails.” (Where’d that expression come from, I wonder?) Talk about bed-bugs, I really felt like the viruses had crawled into bed with me. As we used to say growing up on Maui as kids, those viruses gave me the “heegie-beegies!” The correct saying, according to my daughter, is “heebie-geebies.” Whichever it is, it’s exactly how I felt.

Oh, and then there was the matter of cancelling the credit cards we’d used to try to purchase “system tool,” whose sole purpose was probably to steal our information. My daughter’s Visa was replaced in a day or so at a rushed shipping cost of $16. My Master Card arrived the following day at no extra charge to me, except that the UPS driver left the envelope on the wrong doorstep. I learned of their error after I arrived home last night. While I was still at my daughter’s trying to track down my new credit card, I ended up having to cancel it, and have another new one sent to my home address. 

As if we’d not had enough I got hit with “the bug,” or so we thought. I started feeling the nausea my daughter had experienced. We thought it might be the flu. Would those viruses ever leave us be? As it turns out, we decided I was probably experiencing gastritis or the beginnings of an ulcer. Over the past few months, heart burn symptoms have returned time and again. Getting on a regimen of Prilosec and Tums as needed, as well as a diet of whole grains, steamed veggies and selected fruits seems to have calmed my digestive system down considerably.

But just when my health ordeal was unfolding, Mother Nature decided to ratchet things up a bit with a tornado watch. With heavy rains and winds whipping about, the sirens at my daughter’s apartment complex began blaring. Turning on the TV to the news channel, we learned of a full-blown tornado watch in our area. As the newscaster followed its movement, my daughter and I emptied her bathroom of anything that could kill us if we were to hunker down, wrapped in heavy quilts in the bathtub. My husband, back home from his business trip, called while we were preparing for the worst. Needless to say, he was worried. Needless to say, I was panicked, my digestive symptoms getting worse by the minute.

As I’m sure you’ve already surmised, no tornado touched down in our area, although sightings were reported in other parts. Due to return home to Washington, I hoped my digestive symptoms would abate long enough for me to make the trip which included a stop-over. Fingers crossed, I checked in online.

When I awoke yesterday I was good to go, having taken one of my daughter’s sleeping supplements which helped me rest through most of the night. I even blogged, putting out a post, before packing away my laptop. My husband called making certain I was, in fact, traveling. Later he called back warning that my flight was delayed 45 minutes, which would affect my connecting flight. The hour wait was now shortened to half-an-hour. I wasn’t deterred. I was ready to return home and be sick in my own house, rather than “riding it out” at my daughter’s.

When I got to the airport, I called my husband to say I’d made it, and asked if he could check for other flights in case I missed my connection. He called back with great news. The connecting flight was also delayed by 45 minutes. Hallelujah! God decided to give me a break. As it turned out, I had to work for it. My flight arrived in Terminal C. I had to high-tail it to Terminal D, which I did. Panting, my feet literally flew as I rushed past anyone and everyone making sure I wouldn’t miss my flight home. So determined to make it, I wound up standing in line at the wrong gate. God intervened again when another passenger informed me of my mistake. I hoofed it out of there, making it to the right line. I needn’t have worried. The flight didn’t leave the gate until well past the delayed departure time.

The only thing that hurt by the time I landed home in Washington, was my fanny. Could they make airplane seats any harder? But I’m home, with my husband, cats and dog. And you know what else? I’m even delighted to see that Christmas is still with us. My cat-sitter left a note saying, in part, “…I love all the xmas decorations! China Rose.” Don’t you just love her name? And she’s a sweetheart to boot.

The year’s not done as I’ve said. But I’m determined that it’ll get better. So I’m rejoining my friends in exercise class, continuing with my physical therapy appointments, healthier diet, and blogging. I’ll look into starting yoga, tackling other writing projects, and an adult ed class, perhaps in French.

we can all make lemonade…out of lemons…hugmamma.  🙂

massage “therapy”

I’ve had an unusual last 6 months, with allergies and fibromyalgia taking its toll throughout the spring season. Luckily it was after I’d tended to my garden, preparing the beds for the growing season, weeding and laying bait to minimize the slug infestation. Summer was a busy time with travels to Venice, Italy and Irvine, California. And during the last couple of months I’ve criss-crossed the country to be with my daughter. So it was with great anticipation that I saw my massage therapist,  yesterday.

Under Jennifer’s very capable hands, I felt the knots in my neck and shoulder muscles begin to loosen and relax. I winced in pain when she worked one particular spot in the crook of my right neck area. I’d never done that before, so I knew I’d been in desperate need of a massage.

An “old soul” at 27 years of age, Jennifer is not only good for my aches and pains, but is also someone with whom I commisserate on just about everything. Like the rest of us, she has had to sort out her life. Married, with her own business, I think my massage therapist, and friend, should be congratulated for “making lemonade, out of lemons.”  

Jennifer is such a home body. Having had a bountiful garden this year, she’s been busy canning sugar pumpkins, and making apple butter and blackberry jam, and turning squash into homemade soup. And she was understandably proud of harvesting 20 ears of corn, for neither the deer nor the raccoons had ravaged the stalks. Contributing to their winter stockpile, Jennifer’s husband will soon be hunting elk with friends. She indicated that at least 500 pounds of meat can be had from one animal.

I’m amazed at the thrift and frugality in such a young couple. And yet it doesn’t seem to be founded only upon economic concerns. Jennifer chooses to live a simpler life in terms of material acquisitions. Her passions lie elsewhere, a horse with which she is training, and a determination to become a licensed practitioner of myofacscial-release. These do not come cheap. But they are meaningful and fulfilling goals, for which Jennifer is willing to make sacrifices.

While my body is grateful for my massage therapist’s skill, my soul is graced by her youthful wisdom.

for Jennifer, hugs…hugmamma.