Wednesday, December 28, 2005

By the 4th Day of Christmas

Still flickering after all these days... Posted by Picasa

Lose the Ads?

So what do my readers think? Do I provide enough referrals for useful products? Are the Google ads any help to anyone?

I started advertising to help people with disabilities find aids. I've literally gotten nothing for these ads, and will delete them soon. Same for the Little Pond. My personal opinion on products will continue.

BTW, my Inspired Lighting candles are still twinkly!

Little Pond

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas from your MS Companion!

Update: Monday the candles were still twinkling. I'd been conservative about turning them off, but left them on all Christmas Day and night. I'm leaving them on until they die out.
Tuesday: Still flickering away...

Happy Hannukah and Happy Qwanzaa to my Jewish and Black readers!

Little PondPosted by Picasa

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Chemung River, Stark and Cold

A bright Saturday morning beckoned Ellie and me. An hour and a half later we returned home exhausted. Winter walking is far more taxing than our gentle summer strolls, and the river did not soothe my soul, as it would in the summer. But stark and cold is also beautiful when taken in a small enough dose. Come to our last posting on Riverfest2005.

Note: (December 18, 2005) There was supposed to be a photo of our advent wreath with all candles lighted, but UPS failed us again. Our package has lain dead in Atlanta since Monday. Five days in Atlanta. Oh, well, maybe next year. Hope UPS can get it to us by then, but don't count on it. We won't.

Little Pond Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 16, 2005

At 7:45 this morning, December 16, 2005, our little Lovey, sweet Spooky, the grande dame Sophia Nocturna, crossed the bridge ahead of us. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Halls are Decked!

Happy Advent to all my readers. We are as decorated as we are going to get. MamaDog, at left, is claiming some of the leftover decorations, to carry on our proud tradition: If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing! Got some wrapping, and then resting, to do. Work tonight. Later.

Little Pond Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Each Figure Tells a Story

Nearly every one a cherished treasure, to me, anyway. Come over to see the rest of the photos in the Little Pond. We finally finished decorating!

Little Pond Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 10, 2005

And They Flicker!

So here's the solution to our asthma problem. Candles from
Inspired Lighting. And they flicker!!! By the way, the good people at I.L. will be offering their own arrangements for them next year, along with arrangements for all you customers who've been purchasing the blue and white ones for your menorahs.

Inspired Lighting suffered through Hurricane Katrina, too. But the lovely lady who spoke with me said that they are now in Baton Rouge, LA. They deserve our business, so I look forward to Easter, when I hope to find something new for our home that no longer has little ones.

Meantime, guys. Check out our photos from the little pond. More coming Sunday night, also.

Little PondPosted by Picasa

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Allergic to Christmas!

Posted by Picasa
A rare photo for the MSCompanion? Yep, I'm asthmatic with candle smoke, so the advent table wreath is still empty. Right now we are waiting for UPS to deliver electric candles. Not impressed with UPS this year. Service has been poor here in Elmira, with even "overnight" packages being held for days in the Horseheads processing center. But the candles will eventually arrive, albeit late, and I will have them for now on.

So I'm allergic to Christmas: can't wear makeup, or most perfumes. Used to go nuts when the acne increased during the holidays. It never occurred to me that I was just plain allergic to everything. Now I know. No fancy hairdos, piled up, lacquered, and formal. No gobs of mascara to accent my tiny eyes. And Heaven forbid I try a new acne medication or cleanser! Allergic to most of those, too.

This past week I was poisoned with a couple of foods, and the resulting hives make me look like I'm covered in zits. But it's receding now, and I feel great. Eventually the face will catch up to the innards. In the meantime no makeup, and not even my favorite perfumes. I'm itchy even while just blogging.

Going out soon to take pictures of the Christmas decorations. We are not the first to do so, but our neighbors need to catch up. We need photos for the Walking Tours blogs! Later!

Little Pond

Monday, November 28, 2005

Weird Question of the Week

Is it okay to wear cowboy boots without socks?

When I porked up some 30 pounds in 2004--and therefore decided to go off the regular Solumedrol drips--I put away my good, old cowboy boots from 1970 (or thereabouts). When I took them out this year they were covered in what seems like some sort of mildew. Finally taking the bull by the horns, I scrubbed them with saddle soap to make them wearable again. So naturally, saddle soap makes me wheeze and cough. But I did it. Twice.

Some success. If I could continuously do so, I would eventually remove the finish and the spots left bare by the mildew. They are presentable, but will need to visit the Wizard of Awe: Limoncelli Shoe Repair in Elmira Heights, New York. This man could repair a rainy day, and even save the customer hundreds of dollars at the same time. He pretty much works when he darn-well feels like it, and is always worth the wait or return visit. Not just shoes, but all leathers, denim, even sails (yes, the ones that power boats) and other esoterica. Anything that can be stitched or pierced or tooled.

But I digress. So I want to take them to be refinished by Limoncelli, the Lord of Leather, but need to wear them a bit first to be sure they are properly stretched. And I can't get a fully socked foot in the darned things. Just maybe with nylons, but preferably bare, so I don't run anything worth keeping.

So: Is it okay to wear cowboy boots without socks? Guess I'll find out.

By the way, if you want a realistic, and still scriptural, intro to Advent, visit Jenny. She's got the goods.

Little Pond

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Shhhh...Grand Rounds are up.

I'm running out of ways to announce Grand Rounds to all you medifans. But this time it's easy. Tell you why.

First a thank you to GruntDoc, for the tip, and CodeBlog, for hosting this week's assortment. (Assortment? Like chocolates? GERD diet must be getting to me.)

My favorite entry this time is I Have Seen People Die. Well, naturally, I have a little story:

It was Memorial Day weekend, 1995, I think, when my holiday was preempted by the prequel to the MS diagnosis. A very sober-faced Dr. Bhat gave me the good news and the bad news. This was not an attack of Guillain-Barre, which was often swiftly fatal. So far so good. However, he suspected Multiple Sclerosis.

Huh? What's that? The denial was immediate and complete. I couldn't possibly have something so esoteric, and I certainly wouldn't have anything potentially so debilitating.

Regardless, my butt was summarily popped into the hospital on a holiday weekend. A Solumedrol drip was my introduction to the pleasures of MS therapy, and my roommate was an self-inflicted overdose patient.

Oh, and that was the Skilled Nursing Facility. The holiday pretty much emptied the place, except for my floor, where very elderly people were dying. It took me a day to realize where I was, but my highly sensitive nose had already picked up the scent of death. Extremely subtle, yet indescribable and unforgetable.

Determined to escape, I convinced an astounded Dr. Bhat that I was recovered enough to be released within five days, instead of two to four weeks. There were a few arguments with the good man, but in the end, I had my way. The reasons were many, not the least of which was my upcoming promotion to full time at the paper. I needed the benefits, and the hours would allow me to work only one job, whereas I had been working two for several months.

But the place was quiet (except for a conniving roommate who worked the phones, day and night, manipulating her entire family, and even some exes!), and the nurses were sweet. I left nearly all my flowers with them and returned to work a day later.

Footnote: MammaDog was to become a Certified Nurse's Aide in that ward, ten years later. My atheist daughter did not suffer any of the qualms or superstitions described in CodeBlog's entry. But I enjoyed her story, nonetheless. Hope you do, too. Hats off to the dedicated staff at St. Joseph's Hospital Skilled Nursing Facility and may God bless them.

God bless you, Dear Reader, and yours, and Happy Thanksgiving.

Little Pond

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

In Past Thanksgivings

I would have the week off to allow me to conserve my energy. I've been working the paper a little longer than I've had Multiple Sclerosis. Thanksgiving week is traditionally a leadup to the worst (biggest) publication day of the year. Two years ago all hell broke loose in Prepress (or was it the Pressroom?), but I missed it because I didn't work. Last year there were so many newbies in Prepress that the week was worse than hell for those left behind. Management scotched any further vacations during Thanksgiving week.

Can't complain. Seems only fair to ease up the tension on those working the worst (best advertising) week of the year. But every year I've brought Thanksgiving dinner to those who work the holiday. I hope to do the same this year, but already I am exhausted, and can't expect a rush of energy to make dinner.

So I am cooking a turkey breast, making (bread-making machine) bread, having potatoes, wild-rice-and-nuts dressing, yams and gravy, and salad. In other words, there will be what is essentially a left-overs meal cooked fresh. Husband RJ will make the potatoes. We'll nuke the yams and toss together a pretty normal salad. A can of cranberry sauce will be opened (electrically) and we have Landers Pomegranate and Cranberry juice. I can throw it together after dinner and haul it up to the night crew. Which consists of one person, working alone, in Prepress.

How can we do this and still enjoy a real Thanksgiving Dinner, with all the proper trimmings? You probably guessed it.

My Everloving Inlaws have invited us for the Holiday. Our little luncheon will be like play, making our home smell just right for the holiday. Then back to work on Black Friday, avoiding the horrific crowds, and working off the huge meals.

Little Pond

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Now I am confused.

Still quite sick to my stomach. The Internet is full of dietary information for those with GERD. Looks like a bland diet, same diet I was on in my 20's, when I was diagnosed with "Nervous Stomach Lining." Which sounds like a lot of hooey to me now.

I can easily follow the GERD diet, but I have a huge question that my doctor categorically refused to address. Flat out refused, in fact.

If we are not supposed to eat after six pm, how do I work until midnight or later, five nights a week, without eating? Low blood sugar has always been a problem for me. Perhaps because I am older now I can go without eating while I work?! But it includes heaving lifting and hauling at least once a night. This should prove interesting.

Little Pond

Friday, November 18, 2005

Hoo boy...

Stopping the Nexium was the pits. I've lost an entire night's sleep and I am still sick to my stomach. And it's coming up my throat even as I blog!

Doctor says to resume the Nexium. And lucky me. Now I'm being scheduled for an endoscopy.


Little Pond

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Clean Bill of Health?

Follow-up visit concerning the chronic cough today. Blood pressure was good, now more like 130/83 each day. Still a tad high, but it seems to be dropping ever so slightly as time goes on.

We hereby subtract the Nexium starting tonight. There is a remote possibility that I may relapse, but we have to start somewhere to narrow down the causes of the cough. This is definitely asthma-related cough. He gave it a very official-sounding name, but for the life of me I can't recall it. Don't need it, frankly.

The only disappointment was his insistence on retaining the Flonase. He even wrote a very long-term script for the stuff. There is still plenty of post-nasal drip. In fact, never noticed any change at all, there.

All told, my assessment (NOT diagnosis) is that the Advair works rather well, although my lifestyle (cats, dogs, second-hand smoke, and pressroom airborne pollution) demands the Albuterol backup. Flonase; well, let's hope its effects are cumulative.

I thanked the doctor and told him it was good to feel well again. Keep in mind that the better my overall health, the better I can deal with MS. Is it my imagination, or do the allergies and asthma increase the MS-y feelings? Even with a week's vacation, I am exhausted.

Or maybe cleaning the garage, hanging new blinds, loading--hauling--unloading household trash, wrapping and stowing items in the attic, and fall cleaning chores are setting up a mild exacerbation? Even though I am on vacation, I still need a nap everyday. And early-to-bed to boot!

I feel better overall, thanks.

Little Pond

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Medifans and Trekkers!!!

Stardate 2.07

C'mon, need I say more?

Hosted by Rita at Msspnexus. Hat tips to Instapundit and Gruntdoc.

Update: had a ball sifting through GR this week! I have a question for visitors:
Is the MSCompanion, and its ilk, a waste of time and energy? Could my time be better spent simply digging through the medical blogs and presenting a series of links? Like Grand Rounds?

Little Pond

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Calendar Time

...for all of us who must record our blood pressure readings, symptom occurrence, or even diet for allergy programs. My personal favorite, print-out calendar ties in with my other blogs, the ones that deal with local touring. If I could afford it, someday I would love just one piece of Grandma Moses. Just a little one? Please?

Go to Sheryl's websites for primitive art. I love the simplicity of it. It's all quite good, with clean lines and muted colors. The calendars are here in full color.

There is also a brief link to Optic Nerve Hypoplasia (ONH) with an email address.

It is just me, or does everyone seem to have some connection to an "orphan illness" on the Internet? Is the Internet the only place where we can find interest and information without censure, or worse, morbid curiosity?

Little Pond

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Good Morning, Medifans!

This week's Grand Rounds is up. And scroll down for some crafty anatomy. Thanks to GruntDoc, of course. And this week he's featured.

Little Pond

Monday, October 31, 2005

Should have known...

...that no one could take so many drugs without some sort of trouble. And the dose of Nexium is positively huge! Everyone I know is on it, but at a measy 20mg, they couldn't predict the problem I am having. I actually had a bowel accident while walking the dog. Course, I have protection for bladder incontinence, so I was home free, although I ran into a neighbor on the way. Quickly blew him off and ran home.

Such accidents were a staple of the first year of the MS diagnosis. I know the rote. So I trashed the underwear, sealed in a baggie, and showered the rest. Hate losing clothes, but it's important to me to minimize the bad memory, so I do as little as possible.

Cleaned and disinfected the bathroom. Needed it anyway.

Back to normal, except I'm taking the Nexium at night, to give it the time it needs to make trouble. And I will go back to work on Tuesday night, giving myself a couple days to be sure I know when bad stuff happens.

Although I like to find the humor in things, haven't found any yet.

Little Pond

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Quite a list!

Here are all the drugs and remedies I now take (some are temporary). They are listed in order of how long I've been taking them.

Copaxone. One shot every day for Multiple Sclerosis.

Calcium with Vitamin D, specifically. Although I have always taken multivitamins with minerals, these are prescribed by my General Practitioner for age-related bone loss. It was mild, and he now says my blood shows some reversal.

A Blend of Black Cohosh and Black Cohosh Root. Prescribed by my ObGyn, for menopause symptoms. First she prescribed Hormone Replacement Therapy, but I have a Factor Five mutation that makes me vulnerable to blood clots. HRT is contraindicated and Soy remedies, which work very well indeed, do so because Soya is actually an herbal HRT. Who knew?

Sanctura for incontinence caused by Multiple Sclerosis. Detrol LA worked better, but the constipation it caused was debilitating and dangerous, tearing me up.

Chlorpheniramine maleate, an antihistamine. No decongestants, please, since they sent my blood pressure soaring. As did various other antihistamines.

Diovan for hypertension. Especially the diastolic blood pressure.

Nexium, for possible reflux.
Flonase, for post-nasal drip.
Advair diskus for possible asthma.
Albuterol inhaler for possible asthma.

The last four are to track down just what is making me cough uncontrollably. The cough hits suddenly, causes further incontinence and leaves me panting and sweating. It may have been initially caused by Lisinopril, which preceeded the Diovan. After a few weeks, I am left with chest pain and tightness, loss of sleep, appetite and ability to work. They called me the Queen of Cough at work. The inhaler helps, but I fear any sort of steroid. And the Flonase doesn't seem to last into my work night.

I am missing a few days of work, since all the symptoms, and now the drugs, are causing bad problems with memory and other performance. Maybe I can return once the pain and coughing subside.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Relief is on the way?

A strange thing happened today. After weeks of coughing, due, I thought to high blood pressure medication, I could take no more. Called Guthrie Clinic and left a message with my doctor: I would drop the Diovan forthwith. Guthrie called back and suggested an appointment to treat the cough. Diovan should not cause coughing--something else is wrong.

My doctor roundly scolded me for self-diagnosing. After a few Xrays, and a PPD (TB test, of all things!), I am now being treated for asthma, GERD and a persistent post-natal drip. With the hope of eliminating two of the three treatments in a few weeks. He got mad, he yelled (till he was red in the face), but hey, he listened.

I found the whole experience exhausting, as well as overly-long, and needed to cut my worknight short for a much-needed rest. Bed will not only feel good, but probably is absolutely necessary. After weeks of coughing myself awake in the night, and coughing myself sick at work, and leaving early from church services, I may finally get some permanent relief.

Amusing side-note: the Xrays were marred by my rather small, but evidently solid, papillae. (Who knew?) I was given two tiny, metal "markers" for the retake. Doctor was sweet about it, but of course, I couldn't resist playing it for a (little) laugh. Mostly I was surprised at how low they were imaged on the film, and I said so.

Little Pond

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

MediFans, You've Got Mail!

Grand Rounds is up, and this time it's a letter from the hospital's janitor. You can read it in EmergiBlog. Thank you kindly, Gruntdoc.

Little Pond

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Karen of Scottsdale

who blogs at The View From My Chair, sent me the full photo from the crop she uses in her profile. I gave the usual lame excuses as to why I don't post my own photo, and I included a (fairly) recent snap in my email. Her lovely, gracious response emboldens me.

A very indulgent GrammaDog helps HuggaMutt pose for Husband RJ.

I'm trying to post the entire set of sittings, several photos in all, through Picasa, but I'm getting error messages I've never seen before. Anyone know what CAPTCHA is?

It's been my policy not to post humans. Maybe Someone is telling me to stick with that policy.

Little Pond

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sunny Day, Take Me Away

But first: Medifans, Grand Rounds is Up! Thanks to GruntDoc, who sends us to..

A patient? Yup. One who must surely be the Queen of all Medifans. Makes me a rank amateur.

If you're not squeamish, you can go directly to this piece on Female Genital Mutilation. Amy warns us as she links.

And last a short item on psychosis. I don't watch ER, but my nurse's aide daughter, the MammaDog, does. Still, in my fifty some-odd years, I've know some people like that.

Sunny Day, sweeping the clouds away. Time to winterize the homestead.

Little Pond

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Ellie! Get in your Puppy Seat!!

There, that's better. A little exercise this morning. Went to Riverfront Park, to grab the sun while we had it.

Good thing, too. It was already misting when we returned home.

Little Pond Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Dark Days are not always bad...

When are brighter days not a good thing? When night workers need daytime sleep.

Now is the time to order your solar curtains. If you can get them locally, that's fine. But I recommend Carol Wright Online if you don't. These prices are the best I've seen anywhere.

Solar curtains are the equalizer for me. I never, ever could nap during the day. And since I started working nights, I was good for only about five hours total before the hubby's cigarette smoke, or the noisy cats, woke me. The rest of my family can be left for dead when their heads hit the pillow, but I hear everything during the night.

But the worst for me was the winter. Incredibly bright noon-time sun chased me out of my midday nap every time. The reflection off the snow makes for lovely walks with Ellie, and terrible sleeping conditions. Two sets of solar curtains make the room as dark as a movie theater.

A sound machine for some white noise, and the problem was solved. HomeMedics makes a less expensive version that's great for mixing and layering, helpful for noisy households like mine.

Sweet dreams.

Little Pond

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Gloomy Day

Dark and gloomy day here. Tried to attend Mass, but had a coughing spell and left. Not only will coughing frighten those who sit around me, but I run the risk of wetting myself if I suppress it. No throat drops to soothe it, so I ran home.

The place is depressing without my GrandDog, and the cats are pesty, but no fun. It's better for her to be in Golden Glow where she can play with her doggy buddies. But we are bored here!

Major excitement: the EQ2 heat booster died and we had to find a place to buy it. Best to go to Chase-Pitken, although that store is slated to close soon. Maybe Lowe's or HEP. Will cost about $40, but we really need it for the back room. It's a converted porch and the heating is really just an extra-long duct from the regular heating system, so the booster really helps. They are not the hardiest of appliances, but last for a good three years apiece. And each new booster usually has some new feature that sort of upgrades it.

With the MS, no room can be very warm or very cool. Makes me such a wuss. In fact, I had to leave the job I held during the first exacerbation, because it was way too cold in the winter, some 63 degrees! And right now at the paper, the place gets too hot where I work. (Which is probably the cause of my wetting accident.) Fortunately, we have an excellent heating system at home with a whole house fan as a central feature.

Guess I'll visit my favorite blogs and look for pet photos.

Little Pond

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

I am very excited, but...

Two days after dropping Lisinopril, the coughing's gone. Doc gave me Diovan (Valsartan) instead. The copay is a lot higher, but we should be able to save by purchasing on a quarterly basis. Blood pressure is way down already.

Funny thing, lower blood pressure feels different. Logey in the mornings. And when I use the Omron monitor, it doesn't pinch so much. But they always say there are no symptoms to high blood pressure...

Had a bladder accident at work (sorry if you're a coworker)! Don't know if it's med-related. The paper has shut down the air conditioning. Officially it's broken, but the fact that it's right on schedule (October 1!) would make turning it off far more likely. Workers who access the typesetters spend the night bathed in sweat. That would be me. And we know heat is bad for MSers.

We were putting the paper to bed, and the bladder simply twinged and leaked, soaking me. I walked to the ladies' room, all the way over to the other side of the building (men's room near my work station, don't you know). Cleaned up as best I could and went home. Washed and changed clothes. Returned to work. Took about 20 minutes. Except for my boss, no one knew I'd left.

Was it the heat? Or the Diovan?

Little Pond

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

MediFans, Awake!

Grand rounds is up! Go here for the permlink, should you feel the need to bookmark. However, I highly recommend just heading over to GruntDoc, so you can scroll down to the other goodies. My personal favorite of the week? Duct-tape bandaids! What a coincidence. I was totally distressed to learn there was no duct tape in the house this week. Gotta be a first in my eighteen years of living here. Really.

So hie thee hence and enjoy!

Little Pond

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Update to Lisinopril Side Effects

I was wrong. I cannot take any more of the coughing. My lungs are on fire and the cough is bringing up phlegm that wasn't there a day or two ago. Left word of my decision to stop the drug with the doctor's office. Took one more, in case he gets back to me today. I look forward to a cough-free week.

Guess we'll have to try something else.

Little Pond

Thursday, September 29, 2005

From the Internet

This link was published in its entirety by the local Chemung Valley Multiple Sclerosis Association October 2005 newsletter.

David Lander was Squiggy from Laverne and Shirley. His battle with MS began like mine, completely undercover. It is very difficult to hide active MS. And people's prejudices against it are a huge surprise:

MS hit me when I'd just begun full-time at the paper. Newbies are the first to go when layoffs come. However, when the Labor Department saw my resume, I was sent on interview after interview, hour after hour, day after day, week after week. Leaning on my cane, exhausted, I trudged from place to place. Never to hear from the interviewer again. Must have been quite a vision of decrepitude. If I didn't go, I would lose the unemployment benefits, the woman at the Labor Department pointedly told me.

The punch line? Had to be one, right?

When I returned to work weeks later (Christmas ruined and me feeling sicker than before) my supervisor told me that he chose me for the layoff because he figured I could use a vacation! The others were janitorial or very young workers, all of whom were simply filling out paperwork and picking up their checks!

Good thing I would much rather laugh about it.

Little Pond

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I know I was warned, but...

..if it's the Lisinopril (10mg) that's making me cough, then forget it. I hack so much that I'm carrying tissues for the tears constantly streaming down my face. My lungs, clear when I saw my family practitioner, are now irritated and producing phlegm. I cough like a three-pack a day trucker.

My teeth are rotting from the constant barrage of throat soothers, demulcents, chewing gum, and (don't let's forget!) Fisherman's Friend. Husband RJ tells me the FF will cause blood pressure problems and therefore are counterproductive. (Or did he say contraindicated?)

I still can't decide whether I am losing weight from all the coughing, which seems to be trying mightily to empty my stomach, or gaining it from all the sugary soothers. Can't use sugar-free substitutes, because they cause wicked gas cramps.

I know I can take two more weeks of this (I can take just about anything, if it's time limited), when I will have a follow-up exam, but should I?

Little Pond

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Grand Rounds Thursday

A day late and a dollar short. Grand Rounds has been up forever. Thanks to GruntDoc, who keeps us Medifans up on Katrina, and now, Dear God, Rita.

Blood pressure time! More on that later.

Little Pond

Friday, September 16, 2005

Peds Revisited

Am I the only person in these Great United States who hates to wear shoes, especially mules, without socks? Really, now? I don't believe it. Because I can buy little half peds mail order to use with mules. They come in three colors: white, black, and cream.

The dysaesthesia in my feet prevents me from telling exactly how comfortable or uncomfortable they are at any time. MSer know that "feelings are not facts" in regards to pain, cold or heat. But I can see the insoles bunching up, so I know my feet should feel nasty. Hence the half peds.

But they are expensive, right? Sure are, especially after we factor in the shipping and handling. But MS has done nothing if it hasn't made me the genius that I am today!

The Dollar Tree sells peds in a packet of two. (For a dollar, right? Right.) These peds are displayed to be normal peds, for the entire bottom of the foot. But, without stretching, they fit just like the half peds. Look like them, too, only in what is laughingly called "flesh tone." Whose flesh is orangey brown? Never mind. They work, they fit, and I can go about my business assured I am not skanky. My feet, at least.

Problem solved.

Little Pond

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Grand Rounds is UP

Our neighbor is back in town and taking chemo. I'm baking zuchini bread for her and my coworkers. Low-fat and lower sugar recipes are all over the Internet. Just Google.

Meanwhile you can visit this week's Grand Rounds, all you MediFans!!! Actually you may wish to start at GruntDoc's site for his latest take on Katrina.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Never Been There

...but this is the New Orleans I want to visit someday. Thanks to the Happy Catholic. NOLA and southern Mississippi, you are all in my prayers and constant thoughts.

Little Pond

Saturday, September 03, 2005

NOT the end of summer

Not for families without school kids. This is our first year without visits to the principal's office. (And I thought daughters would spare me that...)

But for some time now, September has been a lovely segue into the gorgeous Upstate New York autumn. Still some time to go to Seabreeze and the water slides, and still some time for warm walks in the woods and on the riverfront.

And time for some petblogging! Go to Pat's Pond for more KittyWalk adventures. And to our visit to the Southeast Levee.

Little Pond

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Where to give aid

Don't let your worries about scams stop or slow your donations. You can certainly start here: The American Red Cross. Or the equivalent outside the United States. Or take your prayers and a check to your own house of worship. We should be getting good at this, especially after the Tsunami in SouthEast Asia.

You can take a chance and throw a few bucks at a collection can, if you don't recognize the agency collecting, but I'm willing to bet that they'd be content to hear that you've donated through one of the reputable, widely-recognized national and international agencies.

Update: It is very difficult (tedious) to give online right now. Try your local chapters.

Little Pond

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Dog-tired from Doggy Days

If you've been to Pat's Pond, you know the reference to Doggy Days will take you to WalkElmira: you can easily scroll down to the pictures. Oh, sure, Ellie was there. We are lucky to have the shots we do, given the excitement. But a good time was had by all.

Now I am exhausted. If you go to Tanglewood, take a human with you, or a cell-phone. Read the maps, and choose shorter trails. Take your little buddy only if you can control the darling (human or canine) pup. Trails climb upwards and roll downwards: walking shoes are required. Water and a cooling scarf may ease the heat from exertion. Turn back if it looks scary; know your limits.

It may be a while before I can put together a full photoblog of the trails. I know my limits and don't push them too often. These trails require the shoes, water, and proper timing for incontinence (shorts trails are perfect!) problems.

For now, I am making chili and seafood chowder. A nap and some video gaming will finish the day. Church and some light yardwork tomorrow. Gotta know my limits.

Little Pond

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hey, all you Medifans!

Grand Rounds is UP!

Tuesday is housecleaning. Monday was still a waste after that Migraine on Sunday. Hope I can find time to seek out my favorite Grand Rounds post.

Little Pond

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Another problem solved!

Who says MS is nothing but trouble? It's made me the creative genius that I am.

For years I've been battling with my SpinBrush. For those left in the mid-20th century, a SpinBrush is a self-contained, battery-powered toothbrush. It's practically disposable, except that the head and batteries can be replaced. No cord, yet not heavy. Perfect for MSers' blinding white smiles, like mine.

After all, a fifty-something woman who can't dance, or even wear makeup, has to have something to help her flirt (Don't tell Husband RJ!) and feel attractive.

I bought them for my family. Problem's in storing them upright to dry. They don't stand solidly on their bases, and holders are not available. I wrote to suggest this obvious fault. Alas, to no avail. Guess the constant crashes to the floor keep the business coming. Jerks. Don't think we don't know this, Crest. We do.

I finally hit a solution. Cable cord clips from the 3M Command series! Got a blister pack of four and stuck them on the cabinet walls, where the slimmer neck of the SpinBrush can just slide in: clip doesn't even need to be locked. Cabinet's not that full, and even less so now.

Husband RJ got them from Dowd's Hardware, but the 3M website has a store locator. And lots of other organizing ideas for the anal retentive MSer, like me. Now if you'll excuse me, my color-coordinated cable ties await my selecting and sorting expertise.

Little Pond

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Two Links

Thanks again for all your support and emails and prayers. I have one final favor of the Prayer Trees and Prayer Fans, etc.: This mournful entry caught my eye yesterday, and I can't get it out of my mind. Please help with your prayers and support. These people need some shoring up right now.

And Jenny's back again at Reflections. In the past I've scolded her for deletions, but now I think that may be wrong. She's keeping it lean and mean, and the results are always surprising. Sort of like live television or radio, it's to be caught moment by moment, and strikes me as simply a new (to me anyway) and original form of blogging. So keep checking in.

Little Pond

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Three Stents

Dad's okay. They put in three stents and expect to go in again for some more on the other artery. I am relieved and want to thank you all for your prayers.

My oldest brother was at the hospital (where he is the biostatician) with my Mom. My two younger brothers minded the house and prepared for their return. Another older brother takes care of the cellular phone bills, a tall order with our huge family. (Just came off the phone with her. He's going home later today!)

You can imagine that with five sons and two daughters, Mr. Baker had a lot of prayers and good wishes with him in that room. I branched out through the Internet and my "Irish Twin" brother fanned out through his various prayer groups and trees up and down the Eastern seaboard. Dad and Mom have their own groups, and my Baby Sister does also. Wouldn't be surprised if God just got sick of us knocking and gave us what we wanted, just to get rid of us.

Thanks so much, again. Glad I'm typing, because the tears would ruin a letter on paper! God Bless You All.

Little Pond

Monday, August 15, 2005

Quick Notes

Very quick notes before I start my Monday chores.

We've lost Jenny. Please wish stop by to wish her well.

Prayers, we need prayers:
Karen of Scottsdale is seeing the whirlwind up close and scary.

My Dad will undergo cardiac catheterization Tuesday. He's 79.


Little Pond

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Happy Birthday to You.

Well, it's probably not your birthday; it certainly isn't mine. But I sang this song this morning. Three times.

When I am unwell, as I am some summer days, I take as little time as possible to dry my hair. My hair is unruly: not curly, not straight, but wavy and messy. Can't be air-dried to look like anything but a frizzy mess.

The heat makes my hands tingle and feel tired. My lower legs, too. (But I solve that by not kneeling. Sorry, God, still,
I know You understand.) But the hair has to look presentable. I'm too old for messy to be careless and cute.

This gets complicated, so stay with me: during the flu season we were told to wash, wash, wash our hands. And it worked, but we have to rinse them at least ten (twenty is better) seconds. With no clock, how does one calibrate the time spent?

Easy. Sing one round of Happy Birthday to You. That's about ten seconds. Sing it slowly to get 20 seconds. Better yet: Sing it like Marilyn Monroe sang it for JFK's birthday. Remember, those of you about my age? She sang it for his birthday, deep contralto-voiced and slow, sexy as all get-out. For those who don't remember MM, try it like Talulah Bankhead, or Greta Garbo, or some other Sexy Icon, and you'll get about 20 seconds.

Huh??? What about the hair??? With short hair, above the shoulders: blow it backward to the MM Happy Birthday, to straighten the bangs. Blow it forwards, right over the face, the MM way again. And blow it backwards, shaping it to the regular Happy Birthday. Frizzy hair needs another MM Happy Birthday, and you are done. Guaranteed. Going back and forth seems to help prevent the fatigue factor that foils styling jobs.

It's not my favorite 'do, but I look okay, and it's do-able.

So, Happy Un-birthday To You. (Don't sing the "un-" part: it messes up the timing.)

Little Pond

For Marilyn's version, click on Happy Birthday, then scroll down to the MP3 address and click. There are lots of sites with her song, for MP#, RealPlayer, etc. Use the Google portal in the sidebar! Don't be scared!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

MediFan Alert!

Grand Rounds are up again!

For newbies, this gives us a chance to sample a lot of doctor blogs at one time and in one place. You can start at Gruntdoc, if you like. He's my favorite, for almost daily posting and universal appeal.

This week's Rounds, the host has them all nicely sorted, so you can seek out your own special obsession. Mine is humor, and this one takes the prize. Makes me glad to be a MediFan.

Little Pond

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Attitude Adjustment

After all my grumping this past week, it's time for something positive:

Visit my everloving Blogmother, Sissy Willis. It's all about natural mood enhancement. Not drugs, not herbs, but a proper mindset that being rediscovered. Naturally, someone takes something basic and makes it sound serious. Not to mention Profitable. But I Knew All Along.

So let's open the drapes, raise the blinds, and (if necessary) wipe the puppy snot off the windows!

Little Pond

Monday, August 08, 2005

VirginMobile Update

The cell works today. So my anger dissipates and I return to blogging. Took Ellie to the river and tried to photoblog, but the sun is filtered through fairly thick clouds, and the photos are blah. Cool enough to venture out, not sunny enough for nice photos. Except this one. It's a glorious morning after all.

Little Pond

Sunday, August 07, 2005

VirginMobile takes my Vacation

Back to work Monday. Rested, ready, mostly healed, despite my doctor's tactless handling of my usual summertime relapse. At least it triggered a vacation.

Had a silly scare this week. Topped off my VirginMobile cell on Tuesday. I was a day late and lost five minutes (that would have otherwise rolled over). $20 and back to normal. My phone is for any trips out of the house: literally a matter of life or death waiting to happen. I nearly fell on one of my RiverDogging excursions. No problem: I have my cell!

Wrong. During my trip to the Fair, I tried to call home over a small, non-health issue. And couldn't. No service. Please press one to TopOff, or some such stupidity.

Cut my trip short. Went online to check my balance. Showed over $25. Weird. So I called from my cell. They said "Weird," too. Hang on, we'll get the supervisor. But the called ended. After all, no service. I called back from my landline. Same thing, need supervisor, blah-blah.

They showed me both topped off and out of service. So please fix: I have MS and this is my lifeline. NO CAN DO. Service is cancelled for 24 to 72 hours while they investigate! I never heard of such a thing. They clearly have a problem, for which I must pay up to three more days without service. Doesn't matter that they have proof of my payment and transaction.

VirginMobile has no snailmail. I sent an email, full of anger, frustration and fears. Took Husband RJ forever to calm me with his assertions that I was wasting my time and energy. Made me even madder.

So I will be ditching VirginMobile as soon as I can afford a GoPhone. My daughters have no problems with Cingular, and Husband RJ works well with a TracFone. Always has. A little security would be nice.

Little Pond

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Better, thanks.

Already more rested than I've been in months. Once again it's time to downsize: blogging cannot be on top of, it has to be instead of, other things.

Posting is tiring, and it's hard to admit that. Anything published must be edited for content, censored for intention, and whittled down in size. I love my blogs, but they are work.

That said, here's my latest. Another quick trip for the Hometown Tourist. Otherwise, a collossal bore, no doubt. No commercial attractions are included, deliberately. They can come later, maybe.

BTW, links and advertising to come later, also. ;)

Little Pond

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

No Post Today

All right, I lied: this really is a post. An apology, rather.

My semi-annual visit with the neurologist did not go well yesterday morning. The deflation stuck with me all day and into a night of work. Finally I requested the next night off: I really need time to reflect on it all.

(Actually I told the boss I was going to get stinking, s---faced drunk and purge the whole memory. Can't do that; memory problems are part of the trouble. Still, I got the time off with his blessings.)

A working day requires so much preparation and ritual, I don't have time to truly ponder a problem, let alone solve it. Already I feel more positive. Using methods I learned in Recovery, Inc., I was able to calm down and view things more logically. Having conquered my own defeatist babbling of the brain, I moved on to just enjoying the day.

And what a day! Well, three hours anyway, my usual limit. GolferGirl buddy met me at Barnes and Noble for coffee and a discussion of how to blow what time I could muster. Not surprising to anyone who knows us, we wound up at T.J. Max. Found a few things for VeggieGirl's birthday on Saturday, and saw tons of stuff I would buy if money were no object. But it is. After a quick triage, we exited with a much pared-down inventory of treasure. The game's the chase, after all. Then on to Charlie's for Philly cheese-steak subs and chips. We are never able to visit so long, and it was refreshing. We have a lot in common. What's not in common, we discuss and enjoy. It's good to have girlfriends.

So life is good, after all.

Little Pond

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Pearls melting in the heat

My buddy PK of Pearls and Dreams is facing a really tough time. The heat out there is breaking records and exacerbating her physical woes. Please pop on over and add a comment and a prayer for her. When I'm stuck inside waiting out the heat, my computer and blogging is about the only thing that helps. Please let her know we are thinking about her. Thanks.

Little Pond

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Musings on the meaning of life

Today's post to Pat's Pond are some simple links to two remarkable stories and the men involved. They got me making comparisons to my own story. (You have a story, right? Everyone does. What's yours?) Not even remotely so dramatic, but my story. So far, anyway.

I don't believe that my first major MS exacerbation, while serious indeed, could have been immediately fatal. But the change of life I experienced was certainly profound. I am constantly mindful that my neurologist, Mulki Bhat, was like a gift from heaven, who provided a role model for me when I needed a new sense of direction. The consummate gentleman, Dr. Bhat was gentle, kind and firm. Extremely well-read and open-minded, a medical demigod, whose deity was only partly obscured by his own natural humility. (Bet he would hate this paean of praise...) He seemed to easily accomplish what I wanted: to treat each and every human being encountered as the most important person in the universe at that moment. And he led me through the most difficult few years of my life so far, making me feel remarkable for my own fortitude and stamina. I want to do the same for others in my own sphere, in my own little pond.

Every now and then I remember that every person I meet is the most important person in the world. Not only to me but surely to someone else. (Rather like the old saw about how everyone has a mother.) Each person should be treated as the unique living soul he or she was created to be. The rest of my life is becoming the somewhat halting struggle to remember and implement this theory, vision, goal, or calling. Guess I don't need a perfectly healthy body for that. It seems so do-able, and the timeline is great: I have the rest of my life to work on it.

So, even if Multiple Sclerosis were to eventually kill me, it will not have taken away my life. My life is always looking and reaching outward, while searching, probing inward; I won't let it be about my body and its annoying failures. Everyone has that to some extent: it goes with the territory. It's called MS, not ME. I have plenty to do, trying not to harm others with my actions or words. That's the most important skill I can hone. Good thing I've got a lifetime.

Little Pond

Monday, July 18, 2005

Roseland Hangover

Roseland trip was lots of fun, if rather abbreviated. The sun peeked in and out, but we didn't see rain until we headed back down Route 14, along Lake Seneca. This always seems to happen in the summer. Daughter VeggieGirl carried the tubes, and has about the same intolerance for heights as mine. She also had to work the next day, same as me. Cloudiness spared me the heat exhaustion I usually experience at parks.

The stairs are very high, and tiring for me. But the lovely lazy-river ride and the wave pool are both manageable for anyone. And there is a kiddie-splash pool that's easy too. We did the place in about 2 1/2 hours. With the round-trip drive, it's a pretty long day at about six hours. Stopped for a sweet breakfast at the Montage Restaurant of a lakeside motel just above Watkins Glen. Had to do battle with the WineFest traffic, you know.

Lunch was a sitdown hotdog and pretzel with nacho cheese. That must have been loaded with MSG, because I am (as is VeggieGirl, who usually is not allergic) paying the price today. Cramps and, well, you can guess. Treat the stuff with Maalox and antihistamine. And plenty of rest. Near a clean, well-aired powder room, thank you.

I'll let you know when I'm ready to laugh about it.

Little Pond

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Well, Duh!

After about of week of religiously taking my Copaxone shot, I'm faring noticeably better. Better enough to take Granddog Ellie to the Chemung River to wade. Better enough that the guys at work felt comfortable joking about my spills last week. Boss even dredged up a (now) comical incontinence near-attack:

Happened on a business trip to Delaware. Cool classes in the software we use at the paper. I'd been drinking decaf coffee. Well, they told me it was decaf. The caffeine kicked in, leaving me jumpy and over-stimulated. My bladder signalled that I needed a pitstop--like ten minutes ago. I knew I couldn't even leave my seat. Boss saw my distress and wisely decided to leave me alone. Then the instructor noticed. He wouldn't leave me to recover my composure. Probably wasn't more than five minutes of discomfort, but seemed hours. I finally s-l-o-w-l-y rose and waddled to the restroom. Forget dignity, the aim was to stay dry. I'm smarter about decaf anything, now. Made Boss swear he'd never tell, but heck, can't laugh about it if we don't relate it.

And I'd much rather laugh about it.

Little Pond

Sunday, July 10, 2005

I'm a sucker for animals

This weekend it really hit home. Made me realize an inescapable truth:

I am a sucker for animals. All of them, even the nasty ones. Don't like to kill spiders, for instance. But my friends and family are starting to point out some glaring anomalies in my behavior.

While I'm hollering about needing a cleaner house, we keep piling on the pets. Almost picked up a cute little tramp in the shape of a fluffball yesterday. Well, okay, I did actually pick up the kitten, wondering if he were a stray (he wasn't). And I did actually start plotting how I would get him past Husband RJ and into the house for a snack. Fortunately, a neighbor disabused me of the "stray" notion; the owner was just casual about letting her tiny hairball roam freely. Not a good thing on the edge of a city with a cat-leash law. A mean neighbor will call the city to trap the little darling.

And I admit that I keep MommaDog's room open, furnished and available, clean sheets and all, for GrandDog Ellie. Not fresh sheets, mind you. Just that the soiled ones get laundered. Ellie soils them with her chewies. Don't know when I'll ever be able to redecorate the room with something sensible, bright and stylish. Dark comforters work best for her. Brindle, you know.

And we do have our bay window dedicated to the comfort and clawing needs of our four cats, only two of whom are really ours. And only Spooky was specifically chosen for adoption by us. DeeDee was a pathetic storm victim that brought in a deadly virus that killed an older pet. But she's ours now, fingernail-on-blackboard yowling, stepping on the computer keyboard, tipping the waterbowl with her paws and leaping from our laps with claws fully extended. She's Ellie's buddy who takes over the GrandDog's chore of waking Husband RJ from his nap while she visits doggie heaven in the guise of a mild-mannered Golden Glow home. Like a loyal puppy.

Let's get to the point before I adopt some other big-eyed denizen of Kingdom Animalia.

If you go here (permanent link) and here for photo, you will see the latest imposition on my hospitality and generosity of spirit. I only hope this is temporary. The porch is too hot without my awnings to cut the sun. And isn't it bad enough we are raising a full neighborhood's worth of squirrels around our bird feeders? Must we be raising the birds for the feeders, too?

I just dedicated the morning to vacuuming, dusting and pet hair removal in the sitting room. It's going to be a long summer. Spent indoors. Watching the chirpy little squatters. And sulking.

Little Pond