An Update in Pictures…and Words

Image via howtogeek.com

I have to be honest; I didn’t really feel like writing this morning.  Or lately.  Mike and the girls are at church on this cool, dreary day, and all I want to do is drink coffee, eat pumpkin donut holes, read Harry Potter, and get off my lawn!, etc. etc.  So I’m totally phoning this one in, but I felt like updating y’all on my life.  

We adopted two little, fluffy girls at the beginning on August.  We had been talking about getting cat(s) for awhile, but wanted to wait for a slightly less inconvenient time.  The timetable to move up the adoption to now from Mike holding off on it indefinitely came about as a result of my well-reasoned argument of, “Fluffy kitties will cure my fibro,” and big, sad eyes.  

  
We ended up adopting Bridgette, a 3 year old black shorthair, originally from the island of St. Thomas, and Sweetie Belle, a 5 month old gray tabby, from King Street Cats in Alexandria, VA. They’re an all volunteer, no kill shelter, and are fabulous.  Mike really wanted a black cat.  He grew up having two black cats, and also wanted to give a black cat a good home, as black cats are adopted the least. Why?  Because we’re a nation of superstitious numbskulls. She was very shy the first time we went, but hopped into Mike’s lap and adopted him the second time.  Sweetie Belle, née Thunder, adopted me.  She jumped into my lap, curled up, and went to sleep.  Now, we hadn’t intended to get a kitten, but I made a well-reasoned argument that Bridgette didn’t seem to like me, and it was pointless to get a cat if it didn’t like me, too.  On top of that… 

 
Adding them to our family has not been without its stresses. They didn’t totally get along for the first couple of weeks.  Time, our cat whisperer, Holly, and a Feliway pheromone diffuser have now made them cats who sniff and lick each other and pummel each other with sibling affection.   Otherwise, having cats has been easy. (Besides Belle feeling the need to eat and climb on everything.) Having cats and Zoë has been a challenge. Zoë is very much like Darla from Finding Nemo. She feels the need to chase both the cats, get in their faces, pick them up or pet them like she’s trying to juice an orange, and doesn’t understand why they run from her because she’s certain that they love her. So yelling at her constantly to leave the cats alone is a teensy bit stressful.

And now, for your entertainment, I present cat videos!

 

 
Peekaboo!


Lay down and take your bath like a man, dammit!

School Daze

Both girls are finally back to school. Rachael began second grade and lost her first tooth.   

How did this happen?

 
I felt completely unprepared and freaked out about school beginning again.  She seems to be enjoying her class, and she hasn’t, as far as I’m aware, cut her hair or hidden under her desk like the beginning of last year.  She also hasn’t had any homework yet, so I’m pretty sure I’m just being lulled into a false sense of security.  Zoë had a good first two days at preschool and has a few friends from her class last year in there.  Plus she hasn’t burned anything down yet, so that’s a plus.  

The Bitch is Back

By July, I was in a good place: my pain was at an all-time low and my energy was at an all-time high.  So, naturally, that’s not the case now at all.  I stopped going to acupuncture because it was almost $400 per month to go every week.  Shortly after I began treatment, my acupuncturist began accepting insurance from the company with which we are insured.  But, of course, our plan doesn’t cover acupuncture.  I need to start going back a couple times per month, though, because it seems like acupuncture was the key to reducing my pain and increasing my energy, which annoys the fuck out of me for some reason.  I say it seems to be the key because it was the only thing that changed over the summer.  My meds didn’t change.  I was still going to physical therapy 1-2 times per week.  Yet, my neck and back began aching all the time.  The pain in my feet and legs forced me to hobble to my destination upon standing.  My pain was waking me up at night. My morning stiffness, or as Mike jokes- pain boner, wasn’t eased by stretching. My energy has plummeted, forcing me to take accidental naps during the day.  

I am really thankful for physical therapy.  I highly recommend The Jackson Clinic, especially the clinics that offer aqua therapy.  The therapists were warm, supportive, and would genuinely get excited for my progress.  They never pushed me past my limits and really listened to me.  My strength and flexibility significantly increased between the spring and the end of August, when I was graduated.  I’m now able to shave my legs without feeling the need to amputate at the knees.  When I began PT, it was hard work for me to lie down and tighten my core while pushing down on an exercise ball with my arms for five reps.  Now I’m able to step up on a box and balance on one leg while pushing/pulling a resistance band for 15 reps on each leg.  I learned how much orthotic inserts for my shoes eased the pain of walking and exercise.  (Of course, every time I read or hear the word “orthotic”, I hear Hank Hill saying it in the episode when he learns he has no ass and needs an orthotic so he can sit without pain.) Even squats, which have always killed my knees, became painless.  They also showed me how changing my posture relieved a lot of pain in my lower back.  Tuck that booty and tighten that core, people!  Unfortunately, I couldn’t really sit with the posture they wanted from me, as it caused me to feel like I had weighted meat hooks stuck in my shoulder blades.  

So, what have you all been up to?

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Crushin’ It

Lately, I’ve been crushing life.  If by “crushing” you mean sucking enormously at managing to keep up with everything.  The last several weeks have been filled with doctor appointments, physical therapy, acupuncture, remodeling the kitchen, trying to keep the house from being swallowed by mess, and barely qualifying as a parent and Girl Scout leader.  I look around the house each day and feel physically ill by the state of it all.  My inability to keep days and activities straight in my head make me worry about what my brain will be like when I’m old and gray.  A state of panic chases me and causes me to stumble into the next day.  

Treating my fibro
I have finally managed to begin physical therapy and acupuncture.  I love water physical therapy!  It allows me to use muscles and exercise in ways that I just can’t on land.  Therapy on land is transformative.  It turns out my SI joint and pelvis were out of alignment. It’s also been really painful to lay on my side/hip. After one session, my PT was able to adjust me, and the extreme tenderness and pain that made me yelp when she touched me was gone. GONE!  I’ve also been given very doable home exercises, some of which can be done while I go about my day. At my last session, I found out I have a weak butt. Or weak butt muscles, anyway. My homework is to clench and release my butt. 

I have had a few sessions of acupuncture or, as I like to call it, Napping with Needles.  The jury is still out on how I feel about it, but I know it’s too soon to tell if it’s making any difference, for good or for ill.  I will say that my last session seemed to make all the difference in the world. I am fighting a cold and had gotten very little sleep the night before. I was so bad off that Mike had to drive me to my appointment. Within an hour or so, I felt fantastic!  That seems like a pretty big turn around for there not to be some causal link.

One aspect of acupuncture I was not aware of beforehand is that the therapist will manipulate your body and limbs in order to loosen them.  That’s fine, but it is difficult to completely relax when the therapist is a man and leaning back makes you crotch-adjacent. Having my torso twisted, side to side quickly, so that my arms shake like cooked spaghetti and my boobs shimmy like the worst burlesque show ever, reduces me to embarrassed giggles.  Getting to lay quietly in the dark with soft music for 30 minutes, though, is pretty great. I actively try to avoid falling asleep so no one hears my snoring.  I’ve also learned that it’s pretty difficult to clear my mind, as my mind is a chatterbox with an attention deficit.

The second appointment with my new rheumatologist was much improved from the first.  My new endocrinologist is awesome; she is absolutely convinced of the existence of fibro and realizes that plenty of other doctors treat fibro patients like crap.  Finally, I’ve begun seeing a nutritionist in an attempt to lower my inflammation and lose weight.  I love her!  She is all about adding the good foods and refuses to forbid foods. Rather than making food bad or off limits, she’s more focused on making foods that will help you achieve your goal a habit.  She also understands that a person’s body in chronic pain processes food much differently than a “normal” body.  I’ve found myself reaching for better food and not craving a ton of crap. 

This is such a burden.

Taxi service
I’ve been taking Rachael to a slew of doctor appointments lately.  She’s been in therapy, as suggested by the psychologist who tested her for ADHD.  I’m not sure what, if anything, it’s doing for her.  But she seems to like going, and the therapist seems to understand the difficulties of our home.  We also had Rachael evaluated by an occupational therapist for handwriting and fine motor skills, as the results of her ADHD testing suggested that those difficulties could be masquerading as an attention deficit.  Results said she’s a bit behind and could use some therapy.  Since then, her handwriting seems to have improved and she’s not having as many difficulties as she was 5-6 months ago.  I may try to have her therapy over the summer.  I feel like the harm of pulling her out of class on a weekly basis outweighs the benefit of OT at this point.  

Finally, Rachael saw a gastroenterologist a couple weeks ago.  She’s suffered with relux and tummy troubles for a long time.  While Pepcid has made it better, her pediatrician wants to make sure that any underlying cause is found and corrected, rather than just continuing to treat the symptoms.  Rachael is scheduled for a upper endoscopy at the end of June. She was a little nervous, but understood the procedure and was fine…..UNTIL THE DOCTOR SHOWED HER A STUPID CARTOON VIDEO ABOUT THE PROCEDURE!  In the video, “Scopey” said that while he was inside, he might take some tissue for a biopsy. So NOW she’s freaking out to the point of losing sleep over it. Dude will get a nastygram over this. 

Kitchen remodel
The other major thing taking up most of my time is giving the kitchen cabinets a facelift.  I always thought the 20 year old , builder’s grade oak cabinets were disgusting, but getting up close and personal with them showed me that we had been living like animals for 6 years.  The amount of filth caked on them and the number of cracks in the wood made my embarrassment for whenever we had company skyrocket retroactively. 

I’m so close to being finished. It seems like there is always some hiccup or touch up that prevents me from getting on with things. But I do have one cabinet fully completed. 

 

All that’s left is to affix the knobs, which we haven’t chosen yet. Several doors are ready to be hung, but the hardware store didn’t have enough hinges. Because, of course.  

Hopefully I’ll be back blogging regularly again soon. I actually started writing this post weeks ago. But Zoë is snuggling with me and my brain is clear for the first time since I began writing this, so I can finally tell you what’s been going on with me.