Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Different Take on Politics

Once again we have an election coming up.  And if I didn't know it, all I have to do is ride around town and see all of the political signs.  Most of the time, I don't pay much attention to them and don't necessarily 'see' whose name is on the sign.  However, I noticed one name lately and that is because I 'know' him on a personal basis...

When my girls were in school, I did quite a bit of volunteering in the school system.  One year when my youngest was in elementary school, I was called upon by the 'room mothers' several times to supervise/chaperon events.  I didn't really get along with these women--one in particular--because they were SO. DAMN. PEPPY!  Every single time I saw them, they were almost giddy with happiness.  They were cheerleaders about everything.  I think I could have coughed and spit a snot ball the size of a Tootsie Roll in their faces and they would have found something positive to say to me.  BUT, it would have come out as a bit condescending, because I wasn't quite on their social level.  I think we all have known people like this in our lives.

Anyway, one of these room mothers really rubbed me the wrong way:  She had the perfect life, the perfect child, the perfect home, the perfect wardrobe, the perfect side job, the perfect husband, the perfect perfect, etc, etc, etc.   And she was just so happy all of the time--and everything was great all of the time.  And I really couldn't stand being around her.  I don't do peppy people.  But one day, I realized there just might be a reason for all of her peppiness.

I don't quite remember what holiday or special day we were celebrating in the classroom.  I had done whatever it was I had been told to do...probably passing out juice or cookies or something.  I remember going to get some napkins from the other side of the room and happened to stumble upon the peppy mom and her husband standing, hidden from view, in the corner.  While I didn't hear what was going on, I SAW what was going on:  He was berating her in such a manner that I actually felt sorry for the woman.  He had such a bullying look on his face and she was almost cowering over the 'attack.'  Because they had placed themselves away from everyone else, I knew they wanted privacy so I moved on and pretended not to see anything.*  I always imagined that her peppiness was a cover up for an, at least partially, unhappy life.  This was something that I can never forget.

So, imagine my surprise when this same man shows up on campaign posters, asking for my vote on November 4.  Just proves that we have no idea who any of these people are that we are asked to vote for.  I wonder if I want to have a possible abuser represent me even at a local level.  Quite a dilemma.

*I'm sure some people would say that I did a disservice to the woman by not intervening.  I don't how to respond to this.  I REALLY don't know how to respond to this.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Life Changes

I'm back because there are some big time changes going on in my life--and they very possibly will be permanent.  I really haven't been happy trying to come to grips with what has been happening and I think if I write everything down, it'll be easier for me.  So, here goes:

Earlier this year the internist I wound up with after my all-time favorite doctor left private practice, retired.  Of course, they never found a replacement for her and I was 'passed on' to another doctor in the practice until someone permanent could be found to take me on.  I saw the physician's assistant one time to discuss my thyroid--which has been wonky for almost a year--and was to see him again in September.  Before this appointment happened, I was passed-on to another doctor and saw her physician's assistant for a 'get to know you' appointment, along with a review of my labs.  And here is where my story really begins.

I was very impressed with the PA.  She spent an hour with me and she looked over my records for the past several years.  One thing she went over closely was the report that came from my wearing a Holter monitor a couple of years ago.  My heart rate was quite low, so in order to rule out 'whatever,' this test was done.  Nothing was found to be of concern and life went on.  Until last month.  The PA looked at the report and said she saw an anomaly on the EKG readings and wanted to investigate it further.  And so an appointment for a stress echo was set up.

I guess I have always been waiting for some form of heart problem to show up with me.  I have far too many risk factors:  I am overweight, lived most of my live in a pretty sedentary manner, don't eat the foods I should, was a smoker for 30 years, have relatives with heart problems, and am a Finn.  So this wasn't unexpected--I just was surprised that no one had thought it necessary for me to have a stress test before now.  Anyway, off I went to the hospital to have a look-see at my heart.

I was a bit nervous about doing a stress test.  I guess I thought that I was to practically run on a treadmill for quite a few minutes in order to get and keep my heart rate up to the 160-170 range.  As it turned out, they only needed the rate to be in the 130's, but it needed to be at that point while they did they ultrasound of my heart.  Because my heart rate recovers so quickly, I needed to walk the treadmill until my rate was about 160 and then everything happened very, very fast. By the time I got back on the table, my rate had gone so far down that they barely had time to get the pictures--but get them, they did.  Turns out, the pictures looked good, but the EKG showed quite a problem during the period of stress.  And this is where things started happening fast and furious.

I was put on a medication--a beta blocker--to keep my heart rate from going too high.  Also, my MD's office was making arrangements for me to have an appointment with a cardiologist.  Of course, all of this happened on a Friday, so nothing was going to be resolved until the following week.  It was recommended that I restrict my activities and try and go on with my life.  Easier said than done!  I started out as a fairly healthy person a couple of weeks earlier and now I was told that there was something pretty significant going on with my heart, but I was supposed to stay calm and act normally.  Right.

In the middle of all of this,I began to have stomach pains.  I ignored them as much as possible, but on the fourth of October, I couldn't anymore.  At 5:00 AM I found myself in the ER with what I thought were heart attack symptoms.  While everyone agreed that it was more than possible that I was having a heart attack, it turned out to not be one.  (For the rest of the weekend I was in bed, sick, with a fever, stomach pains, no appetite--all pointing to a stomach bug, NOT a heart problem.)  However, to be safe, the cardiologist on-call looked over my test results along with the results of my stress echo.  This brought on a whole other bunch of things for me to cope with.

Before I left the ER, I was put on ANOTHER medication, This time, a calcium channel blocker.  Again, they don't want my heart rate to go too high.  I also got some nitroglycerin pills, in case I should have chest pains.  Also, I was to have a coronary CT to see what was going on with my heart.  (Thankfully, this was instead of a cardiac catheterization, which they thought I needed in the first place.)  And I went home.

The following week found me back to the hospital for the CT and getting the report from all of the tests.  Right now, the diagnosis for me is printzmetal angina.  Yippee!  This is something that is quite uncommon and it seems as if I have very uncommon symptoms on top of everything else.  I won't be seeing the cardiologist until the 3rd of November, so I won't be able to find out how this conclusion was reached.  My internist's office seems to agree with the diagnosis, so until something different comes up when I see the cardiologist, I guess I have angina.

Of course, I wound up at my internist's office again this past week.  I have been having some side effects from the two new meds that I've been put on, so they had to be addressed.  One of the problems I've been having is swelling of my feet, ankles, and lower legs.  This is a common side effect of the calcium channel blocker, so I was put on a different medication in the hopes that I won't swell quite as badly.  And it hasn't helped--as a matter of fact, I seem to be worse than I was.  And all this leads to another call to the doctor's office tomorrow and, most likely, a different drug to try.  This all probably will change when I see the cardiologist.  I'm thinking he just might take me off of most--if not all--of what I'm on today and start from scratch.  I do believe I will be put back on a statin and I will be on one or more blood pressure meds when it is all said and done.  Other than that, I'm not sure what will happen.

All of this has my feeling a bit overwhelmed and slightly scared.  About the only thing I'm sure of is that I will be having regular visits with the cardiologist and my internist for the next 3-6 months until things are worked out to everyone's satisfaction.  I will wind up on some sort of drug cocktail and it will take time to tweak everything so that things will be fine.  At this point--and I realize it is just in the beginning stages--I am not happy with the way things are going.  I am not feeling well and the only thing I can point to are the meds that I'm on.  I can't live a good life if I am feeling like I do right now and the doctor has to realize this.  I don't think the solution to this is going to be easy OR quick.  And I'm not too happy with the journey I am about to embark on.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Weird Phone Calls--and Texts

The other day I got a phone call that left me completely perplexed.  Here is the entire conversation:

(phone rings)
Me:  Hello.
Caller:  Hi, is C___ there?
Me:  That would be me.
Caller:  Oh, uh, I mean is Jennifer there?
Me:  Jennifer?  There is no one here by that name.
Caller:  Oh, okay.
(phone hangs up)

Now, am I wrong or was this the weirdest call?  I don't understand it at all.

But, that is not all.  A couple of months ago I got a text message.  Here is the screen shot of it:

Weird?  I think so!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jack Frost Nips At Toes, Noses, and Much, Much, More

We are having some cold weather again.  The temps are in the single digits and our wind chills are way below zero, so outside isn't much fun.  We do what we have to do and as quickly as possible.  K has been out several times today pushing snow.  It gets too cold for him and he'll come in to warm up before heading out again.  He loves 'playing in the snow,' so this is very much out of character.  Usually, he will spend hours going up and down the street, clearing as many driveways as he can before he gets too tired.  Not today.

Living in the cold north, we have learned a few things about dealing with frigid temps.  Driving in snowy conditions, of course, is a challenge for us, but we're pretty used to it by now.  As long as you keep your speed reasonable, you can pretty much get anywhere you need to be.  Our road commissions are quite good at keeping the roads open and, for the most part, at least one lane in both directions is fairly well maintained even during the harshest of conditions.  Again, if you are driving reasonably, there should be no problem.

We deal with icy conditions, too.  Black ice is the most treacherous, as it is next to impossible to see.  To combat this, our roads are always covered in a mixture of sand and salt.  No matter what time of the year, or how cold it gets, we drive through car washes regularly--that salt eats away at vehicles like nobody's business.  We use special salt to melt the ice on our porch and steps outside, too.  One thing people who don't deal with this don't realize, however, is that salt can't be used when the temp is too low.  It actually creates more problems than it solves, as the melted ice will freeze quickly in the low temps, causing even bigger problems that you had to begin with.

One of the biggest problems we have right now is the shortage of propane, which many people use to heat their homes.  The price of a gallon of propane has risen more than $1.50 a gallon since November--and even if you want (need) to pay that, you can't get the amount you might desire.  Right now, some companies aren't letting anyone get more than 100 gallons of fuel at a time.  Your tank has to have less than a certain per cent of fuel for them to sell any to you.  To fill up a tank in November, I know someone who spent $800--in December they spent $1000, for less than what they got the month before.  Within two weeks time, they had bought themselves a pellet stove and will be using the propane for supplemental heating, rather than their primary heat source.  This is absolutely insane.  And there is nothing we can do about it.

With the cold temps, there are times when I miss our wood-burning stove.  The heat that thing pushed out was so different and nice and I truly loved how warm the house was when we had it.  I often romanticize how nice it would be to have a wood fire again and then reality hits.  I can't go back to the amount of work involved in keeping a wood fire going.  I hated the mess of cleaning the stove and chimney.  Bringing wood into the house was awful--not only would I have allergy symptoms at times, but many, many bugs would find their way out of hibernation as soon as they warmed up in our house.  YUCK!  And I never felt completely safe with the wood stove:  I ALWAYS was waiting for a chimney fire to start.  So, I guess I'll suck it up and turn the thermostat higher and pay more to keep warm.  At least we're able to afford it--THANKFULLY!!!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Traditional and Stereotype Aren't Necessarily The Same

CES 2014 just finished up last week, so I have been reading a bunch of articles from people that were there.  A lot of cool stuff will be on the shelves at some point and I wanted to one of those 'in the know.'  Today I read an article that prompted this post--and you can read it here.  In a few words, the author is (as far as I can see)  saying that just because some electronics/accessories are made for the 'fashion conscious,' then they are dumbing things down and belittling women.  Riiiigggghhhhtttt.

My second to youngest granddaughter just turned 6.  For her birthday, I asked my daughter what would be something to give as a gift.  I was told that her interests were 'super heroes, princesses, and gymnastics.'  Her favorite color also happens to be pink.  My six granddaughters range in age from 4 to 18 and each of them are super hero/fantasy/scifi fans who (for the most part) love the color pink, ruffles, shiny things, and most everything 'girlie.'  Not one of these girls can be 'talked down to' just because she wants/likes traditional 'girl stuff.'  These girls are traditional--in so many ways--but they definitely are NOT stereotypes.

Far too many people--like the author of the article I linked to--seem to think that stereotypes and traditionalists are the same.  I am a traditional stay-at-home and have been for almost all of our marriage.  I am far from a stereotype.  My interests range far and wide.  I like scifi and fantasy--really am not a fan of any romance/tear jerk books or movies.  I'm a tech freak--I would rather have the latest, fastest, most expensive computer before getting a new washer/dryer.  I cook and clean, sew, do handwork, and many other 'traditional' things, but I would rather watch a hockey game than be domestic.  I don't wear ruffled aprons and don't particularly gravitate to the color pink.  (There is nothing wrong with pink--I actually have a couple of things in the color--but I wear black until they come up with something darker.)  I am far from a stereotype.

Being traditional is something that is ridiculed these days--and using stereotypes is a way to slam traditionalists.  Just because a person is a church-going Christian, then s/he is automatically a bigot.  Just because someone is a Republican, then s/he has money.  If someone is white, Republican, Christian, and southern, then s/he is a redneck who hates pretty much anything that isn't white, Republican, Christian, and southern.  There is no room for accepting that there may be some diversity among the traditionalists, just as there is diversity among the 'progressives.'  I don't know why it can't be understood that someone can embrace the best of both worlds.

So, I tell the companies out there "bring on the 'girlie' items."  If I want polka dots and bows, I will buy the product with polka dots and bows.  If I don't want them, I'll move on to something else.  But  I certainly like the fact that there is a choice for those who may want it!  And there certainly is nothing wrong with being a traditionalist.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

A Difficult Task

I admire anyone who can sustain a blog for a long time.  There ARE blogs that get updated on a very regular basis--sadly, this isn't one of them.  I try, but I just can't do it.  My life isn't such that many people would be interested in the day to day minutiae and I am very grateful for those who come back time and again to read my boring posts.  And, I can't think of many things to write about right now.

Looking over the subjects I could write about does no good for me to come up with interesting posts.  I could write about the way the Red Wings season is going, but I have a hockey blog where I could do that.  And I don't keep THAT blog current, either.  There is always the gym that I could blog about, but it's 'same old, same old' basically, so that won't work.  I could write about The Oldest and her busy world, but that just makes ME look lazy, so I won't.  ;)  The Youngest and her husband's new house and move could be somewhat interesting, but other than people who personally know them, probably not.  (I DO have pictures, but since I rarely post anything close to identifying, I think that's out.)  Religion, politics, etc, are mostly off-limits for me, so that won't do.  I don't follow celebrities, TV shows, movies, or music on a conscious level, so none of those are fodder for this blog.  Oh, well.

I'm not ready to give up this blog completely.  It is nice to have an outlet when, and if, I ever need one.  Sadly, the posts might be a bit on the dull side for a while, but, knowing life, I'm sure that will change sooner rather than later.  :D  So stay tuned--the best is just around the corner.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Ball Sweat

I have a nose that can detect smells that many people--especially men--cannot smell.  This has been helpful in many cases--smelling the decaying mouse in the trap and the rotting potatoes in the bin--as well as embarrassing--calling to have our 'gas leak' taken care of when I was really smelling the turkey carcass in the garbage bag.  One thing I haven't been able to smell, for the most part, is bad odors in the gym we go to.  This must be due to their keeping the place very clean AND a good air-replacement system.  But things aren't always smelling like roses, however...

One day I was putting in my time on the treadmill when a man decided to use the machine next to me.  Everything was going fine until I started smelling something.  Now I couldn't tell what this nauseating smell was at first, but slowly I realized it was ball sweat*!  And it was coming from the guy next to me!  And he was going nowhere any time soon!  I looked at my time and saw that I only had two more minutes on the machine and decided I could put up with the smell for that long--but they were two of the longest minutes I have ever endured.  I still don't know how I managed to keep myself from audibly gagging.  Now whenever I see this guy in the gym, I make sure I'm nowhere in his vicinity--I don't need to get sick to my stomach in the name of fitness!

There is another guy at the gym who reeks of cigarette smoke.  I'm not sure if HE is the smoker or lives with one, but whenever I see him, I 'see' a cloud of yellow smoke enveloping him.  He is one of the nicest people I have ever met and he LOVES to talk hockey with me, so I am bombarded by this odor whenever he and I are at the gym together.  It would be nice if I could keep enough distance between us so that I couldn't smell him, but then we would have to use megaphones to communicate and that's not going to work.

For the most part, I have never noticed a lot of smells when I am participating in a class at the gym.  There are times when I will smell a woman's perfume for a second, but even with the amount of people surrounding me, there is little odor present.  Except for that one day...

K came to class with me and things were going well until I could smell another obnoxious odor:  ass crack**.  This was mixed with plain old BO.  That day I came very close to upchucking and had to WILL myself to finish the class without being physically sick.  And, of course, K didn't smell a thing.  The biggest problem is this:  I have NO IDEA what person was emitting said odors, so I can't even avoid him/her whenever I go to class!

Such horrendous first-world problems we have.  ;)

*Someone asked me HOW did I know it was ball sweat I was smelling.  My answer?  If you've smelled it once in your life, you NEVER forget it.

**Ditto the last answer.  :D