Sunday, December 31, 2006

Made it through the holidays!

Well, almost. It's ten a.m. on New Year's Eve. I will not party tonight, but at least I have a four day weekend. Courtesy of working Christmas night. My immediate boss will rejoin us this week, and we have no idea when he will be whisked away to Johnson City. I did his job here all week. It cost Gannett less than one hour of overtime. It used to cost about five or six. So we really aren't needed as much as before, I guess.

President Ford's funeral will tie up the weekend. The most unfortunate side effect would have to be the loss of one day's mail delivery. Since it was not predicted, our bills may all arrive a day or two late. Didn't think of that, did you?? Neither did I, until I realized that I can't get bills mailed until Wednesday.

Today we are taking a short, happy hop to the Mall for a Dachshund Calendar. But of course! Discounted by half, maybe. I feel okay, but Husband RJ has a wicked sinus infection that's leaving him tired. Also a messed up night's sleep yesterday.

Happy, Healthy New Year to You All
With much love,

pb
Little Pond

Monday, December 25, 2006

Give me another day.

I know I promised more Christmas links, but Christmas itself has pre-empted them. We had a nice holiday, but I found it quite draining.

Tonight I must work. And I am glad to be still working, what with the layoffs and all. If it's anything like the wedding weekend, it will take me days to recover. I don't feel sick, just very, very tired.

Hope your Christmas was everything you hoped. Ours was.

Love to all.

pb
Little Pond

Sunday, December 24, 2006

In Little Pond

It ain't Christmas without the cats!
If you want a little more Blogosphere Cheer, go here.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

They are called Flogs

This topic was started in the comments sections of the previous post.

And I found this at Yahoo!, because couldn't find stuff in Google.

Figures. Google/Blogger has the most to gain from the flogs.

Sorry, guys. It's the way of the world.

pb
Little Pond

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sorry, Guys...

Word verification is now necessary. It is way too tiring to delete all the junk coming through. I really don't want to moderate the comments, but I'm spending a good chunk of each morning and afternoon cleaning out the crappy spammers.

I can't help but notice that they all have Google's Blogspot URL's. Guess that tells us more about Google than it does about them.

pb
Little Pond

Thursday, December 07, 2006

What was I thinking??

It's a measure of the nastiness of this virus that I cannot believe my last post. I thought I felt better? It is now the tenth day, and I feel awful. Tons and tons better, thank you, but still just awful.

Yesterday was spent cleaning up the mess I made of the finances while I was too sick to even know I was too sick to handle them. Rapid transfers back and forth between checking and savings--literally back and forth--were made to assuage the situation. Today is Husband RJ's payday and we will reset back to normal. But yesterday was way too dicey for my tastes. Imagine thinking it would be necessary to take out a cash advance to correct a hell of an overdraught. (We've done that before. Not necessary this time.)

Which means we are constantly one paycheck away from bankruptcy. Our savings bumper is now gone. It's been a very expensive year.

Is it this horrible virus, or am I just pessimistic today?

For the record, I will never live down the silliness that was Friday night's return to work. And right now I am shunned as "Consumptive Connie," the woman who constantly coughs. I use and immediately dispose tissues while coughing, and developed the curious habit of handing people disinfectant wipes after any closeup work. Mucinex really worked for me, but not a cure, and not possible during, or even four hours before, work hours. But I'm still the only one sick from last week.

Except for me, only my poor parttime coworker on chemo has this awful thing. Hers is new in the last two days, and she believes she got it from her full-time job. She was out on doctor's orders when I came in, all infectious-like. She'd passed out at her day job. (Thank Goodness. I couldn't live with the guilt otherwise.) So you see, I'm actually doing quite well, in comparison with others. And this is all over the County up here.

My head is still humming. That is usually the sign of a low-grade fever, but since I'm constantly stuffed-up in the head, we have to wait and see.

And, oh yeah, one more thing.

Hope you are all well. I wouldn't wish this on anyone.

pb
Little Pond

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Life after Crazy Cold

Finally got a full night's sleep, about seven hours. Poor RJ is in the worst part, but he's finding the nose strips are helping him.

Went to work last night and giggled my way through the first three hours. Then came the crash, big time. Be warned. With this crazy cold, Mucinex is probably the best bet, but not great for anyone who needs to work.

Today my lungs are nice and clear, but my nose is chapped and sore, and my my throat is scratchy.

Beats the hell out of the torture I suffered the last three days. And that was "just a cold." RJ went to the doctor, who gave him a script for an antibiotic and a note to buy Mucinex.

pb
Little Pond

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Where did this come from?

Or from whence did this come?

Everyone is asking me if I got my flu shot. And I surely did, paying full price to get it early at the Guthrie.

So why am I the only one in the entire City of Elmira with a banger of a cold? The whole works: sore throat, chest pain, so much mucus at the back of my throat that I not only can't swallow, but I can't remove the mucus, either. Neither can I successfully blow my nose.

My boss sent me home from the paper last night. Oh, I used disinfectant wipes on everything I touched, and no doubt they sprayed with the
Clorox after I staggered out. But I was unable to carry on the simple conversations necessary to put out a paper.

I could speak, but no one could understand me. We all gave up and home I went. Too sick to lie down, I played a video game until I was falling apart from exhaustion. Then I still spent the night trying to breathe past all the mucus. There is no question that I will miss another day today, but I can't call before mid-afternoon, or the people who need to know will never be told.


I just want, bed, sleep, and oblivion. Too bad lying down makes it worse. Nyquil here I come. The guys tell me firewater (aguardiente to Hispanics) and beer is much better, and I believe them. But, I need to get up later and call in sick.

So why am I the only one who's sick?

pb
Little Pond

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Was it Worth It? Or Party in Little Pond

A new son-in-law, old friends are now family, my daughter is securely hitched to the love of her life.

And it was a hell of a party.

Yeah, I'd say it was worth it.

pb
Little Pond

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

To all my blogging family and friends! You have no idea how much you all mean to me.

Our brand-new BrideDaughter is putting on the feast with her new range, an aggregate wedding present. She will also be getting a new stand-alone oven.

BrideDaughter loves to cook.

Look for chubbier and chubbier pictures of pb as time goes on.

pb
Little Pond

Sunday, November 19, 2006

If you like that sort of thing...

Here is the first batch of photos from the reception. Mostly Bakers and Olthofs. None of the formal shots. Those will have their own blog, I suppose, since they will need to be scanned. There will be only a couple of updates. One can only look at so many shots of lit-up strangers partying, seems to me.

pb
Little Pond

If you're wondering why I am so blah lately. Grey, leafless, almost lifeless days here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Visiting The Funeral Home Today

Going to see Robbie. When there's a funeral home in the family, that is not always a sad thing. Both of our sets of parents have preplanned, and so will I.

Shortly after I was diagnosed with MS, the American Red Cross notified me that my blood was no good. People with MS are exempt. Bad news for a person who had been giving regularly since age 18.

How do I give back to life what life has given me? Donate. But people with MS are also exempt from donating organs. Geez, Louise!

So I went to Louise and told her I wanted to donate my body. She, as a proper funeral home manager, did not approve of having the body damaged, quite possibly beyond repair. Also, it was likely that the remains could get hung up in the process and never be returned.

At the time, I did not tell her that the idea sounded even better. But there are a lot of details to handle even in the cadaver donation process.

So I'm visiting Robbie. Aunt Louise has since passed on, providing us all with a perfectly planned funeral. She was just beautiful in her favorite rose-red suit. No doubt the funeral was exactly as she directed.

That's what I want. Not to be laid out in my favorite suit, but instead to have exactly what I direct. A donation, a cremation, a service and a hell of an after-party. I am Roman Catholic after all, and this is the Twin Tiers. We must have NY State wines and locally brewed beer. And good food.

Because, after the Wonderful Wedding Weekend*, I now have a reputation as a hostess to defend.

pb
Little Pond

*And once I am fully recovered from that Bacchanalia, I will post the party itself.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Uncle!

Okay. I simply have to rest. Away from the computer.

To that end, I refer you to mdmhvonpa and White Lightning Axiom. Go there for a smorgasbord of MS-related blogs.

I'm going back to bed.

pb
Little Pond

(Yes, I know there is a new post there. It's what convinced me I am too tired to post.)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Post Mortem on a Wedding?

Can we actually say that? How about a "wrap-up?"

The wedding weekend is over and I am finally feeling unwell. We knew it was coming. The elation has worn off and the return to the rest of my vacation was a let-down.

How can that last sentence make any sense? As a life-long student of language and cultures, it is a very specifically medical phenomenon. A Multiple Sclerosis phenomenon. The stress was masked by the emotional high, but it was there and doing its damage.

Yes, I am serenely happy to have added my daughter's love to our family. PappaDog is a great guy and we feel blessed. But we welcomed him ages ago; he's always been welcome in our home.

Yes, the ceremony and reception went well, exceptionally so. But they cost a fortune (for us and our kids) and now we all must adjust our finances, that were already overloaded, and Christmas is pretty much shot. Money-wise.

Yesterday I began to collect the clues of the cost to my physical and mental health. My out-going emails are getting mixed up, and I am simply not going to answer any for a while. The phone makes me jump, and I can't hear callers when I answer. A small, nagging headache points up the painful electricity at the back of my neck. I am literally dotted with tiny hives from the change in diet and a medicine patch is creating one big red rash.

My immediate boss, the one who writes the comics column, wisely insisted I take a week to prepare and a week to recover from the festivities. But not working makes me anxious. About keeping my job, about paying the bills, about dealing with Husband RJ, because I am underfoot at times I'm usually at work. Even about the blogs and my video games. Geez Louise!

Guess I'll go for a walk and contemplate the season. It's bright and sunny and warm. And I'll occupy my mind with counting blessings. That should tie me up the rest of the day.

See? I'll survive.

Just wished I felt well. Not feeling well is leaving me exhausted and weepy, when I should be still celebrating. I want to still be celebrating.

pb
Little Pond

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween from...

Our Pink Puppy Princess!

Coffee Jangles

During my early college years I learned that coffee was a no-go. It took a ruined stomach to convince me to drink decaf. I was working summers and school holidays at the Polar Corporation in Worcester, Massachusetts. Early on it became clear that sugar and caffeine don't work well for me, so I switched to coffee during breaks.

While I bottled soda, I couldn't bear to drink it. Everything is perfectly clean, antiseptic even, but the ingredient listing was not lost on me. And this was just as corn syrup was being introduced in place of sugar. To this day, soda pop holds no temptation for me. But I loved coffee, and drank it in place of sweet drinks and milk.

Until I wrecked my stomach. The diet wouldn't allow caffeine, and soon I realized that I was--quite--sensitive to the stuff. All well and good, right? Wrong. Decaf made a worse mess of my gut.

Of course today we know that decaffeinated coffee is largely junk. Because the process requires huge amounts of natural coffee, the manufacturers use the worst grade of coffee that they dare to use. I was ruining my stomach with very poor stuff that resulted from processing huge amounts of bad stuff to start. And compound that with instant decaf, it's a wonder I could convince myself I was drinking coffee.

What to do? Trust me on this one:

I buy the very best decaf I can afford. After all, I am the only one who uses it; it lasts forever. And it's definitely worth the extra money. Hands down.

Right now there is Folgers Classic Decaf in my cupboard, both regular grind and instant. I have not carefully gone over the local stores for better, but I will when it comes time to restock. That may be months in the future.

When I'm out and about, Dunkin Donuts seems the best cheapie chain, but almost any of the Big Name coffee house companies that charge all outdoors will top DD. Finally, if you readers are ever in Elmira, New York, I recommend Kountry Krullers. Their fresh doughnuts and bagels put DD to shame. And their decaf coffee is always excellent. And everything they have is Kosher; they are the top supplier of rolls and bagels to our local restaurants, kosher or not.

Am I the only MSer who is sensitive to caffeine, or is it a regular part of the nervous syndrome?

pb
Little Pond

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Notes on the Fairy Tale Wedding


Mr. and Mrs. PapaDog having their first married kiss. Then we danced all night. I can't leave the house today because I can't walk and I'm hypoglycemic from the rich foods. So, all in all, it was a huge success. Pictures will follow.

Monday Morning Musings:

This was a relatively good-sized wedding with just over a hundred people. My family, his family, and their rather wide circle of friends. We are very fortunate that we've come to know many of those friends along the way.

The kids themselves paid for the Inn and the lodgings, as well as the beer and wine (Yes!). We backed them up wherever we could and paid for the reception and the rehearsal dinner (which was catered by a friend's mom, also as a gift). I was marginally involved with the process from the beginning. She made favors and placecards.

On a spiritual note: my little girl mentioned a while ago that there was a place that she would choose if we had the money. It was beautiful and remote. Apparently we have passed our "old house" genes to her. When she came to me this summer, she reminded us of the place and said they were going up to have a look, if only to get an idea of the "champagne ideal" they could shoot for on a "beer budget."

The owner was very busy with a wedding weekend and somewhat brusque with our baby. BrideDaughter mentioned her rather hopeless aspiration and left. A few days later the call came that there was a cancellation and would she be interested if they discounted the price? They would require a cash deposit.

I knew at once that Someone was working for us. My sister also told me that she had a premonitory dreams that our Grandparents were urging us on. This weekend my mother said she was certain God wanted a beautiful wedding.

Our newlyweds live in a very, very modest home. Only my son-in-law works, while MammaDog finishes her degree, which she must pay on her own. They scoured the area for a caterer that met the requirements of the Inn. A local mom&pop had suffered a devastating fire that ruined their facilities and are now working from a tiny storefront in town. They are lovely people. They turned out to be the least expensive of the good places, surprisingly so. I took a loan against my 401K, and paid in cash. They decorated the tables with simple hurricane-lamp style candles, nothing more. They also provided a three tiered chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.

Because the food was excellent and the setting itself was sumptuous, we were able to keep everything simple. We also eliminated anything that became a problem. As a result, there was no promenade through the autumn woods, and guests were driven by our groomsmen and their friends from the chapel to the Inn. Husband RJ and I chose to spearhead a return walk along the paved road, during which there was a sunshower and a rainbow leading to the Inn and the lake! We also eliminated the reception line; everyone was hungry.

The girls were crying (during the ceremony), but I never did. In fact, I behaved like a Precinct Boss, hitting the tables and urging everyone to party hearty. Our photographer is a neighbor, as well as the mother of the best man. Her services were also a wedding gift. She kept the studio-style shots to a minimum and was good natured throughout the evening. Many people brought those cheap, disposable cameras and we provided some to non-photography partiers.

Sunday would have been a day of rest, but VeggieGirl had a health scare, when an ugly node appeared suddenly on her leg. After six hours in the ER, which RJ and I shared, three hours apiece, we were relieved to find out it wasn't a blood vessel ready to burst, but a badly infected (staph) ingrown follicle. My girls get very curly hair from Scottish ancestors on both sides. She will need to rest a few days, so I will enjoy her company. It was the first time I felt like crying all weekend.

Would I do it all again? I'd better. VeggieGirl is next, but not in the foreseeable future.

Praise the Lord.

pb
Little Pond

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wedding Weekend 2006

I'm cheating on this one. MammaDog was a bride for Halloween of 1986. There will probably be posts, but they will be attached to this picture all weekend. Same for the Little Pond.



Thank goodness I have MS. It gives me an excuse to stop scrubbing carpets and floors for a while. The Massachusetts guests begin arriving today. BabySister and her hubby will check in to help with last minute details. BrideDaughter, who is also MammaDog, will work with VeggieGirl to prepare favors and placecards tonight. They will be making candied apples, wrapped in cellophane and tagged with name cards. BabySister will assist me in hemming my pants.

Sure do hope we finish the pants before we finish the bottle of New York State wine...

Little Pond

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Patches

No, not my smallest cat. Numb patches, like my good buddy in PA talks about.

I never thought much about them, because I thought they were all in my head. You know, the "feelings are not facts," sort of thing. So many of the other MS bloggers talk about numb digits and numb patches that I am beginning to conclude that they do exist.

The amount of stress that I enjoy can often be quantified by the number of numb patches I currently experience. Right now, I have patches in my inner thighs, outer thighs, knees and my left little pinkie. Also my cheeks, the ones on my face and the lower portions of my lower portions.

The BrideDaughter stopped by today to fill me in on her current crises. Not enough money for alcoholic libations during the reception that we are footing. To put it very mildly, I am conflicted over this one. We are already shelling out over $4000 for the reception, and I had left the alcohol up to her. Most in my generation and older will not drink past the toast, because the wedding is a 45 minute ride from Little Pond. We do not wish to attract the attention of the local smokies. On the other hand, we don't want to lessen the party atmosphere with an announcement that the host is out of wine. (Unless of course, budding Messiahs happen to be present. In that case we will prepare some extra large vats of water.)

Other crisis: the expected trouble between the various (divorced, separated, feuding) families is already raising it ugly head. Spite, innuendo, misunderstanding are all meeting together where these kids are getting married: surely hilarity will ensue. I told her everything will work out, that weddings are always like that, kissed her and sent her on her way.

Now even my nose is a numb patch.

pb
Little Pond

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

More on Shoes...

One commenter below caught my attention. He mentions a brand name that can sometimes be very expensive, and that's the point of this post. It is easy to spend the extra money when we know the quality will be worth it.

For men, Florsheims would be my choice--If anyone were asking--for a mens shoe that is good for the foot.

When we lived in the DC area, Husband RJ was nearly crippled by his cheap shoes--eveything including the bloody socks. We walked into a good shoe store and explained the situation. He was properly fitted for Florsheims. These are now very, very hard to find, but David Taylor is another good brand that's less costly.

The trick is to go to a very long established shoe store with a very old, old employee, from back in the day when they knew how to fit shoes. They measure six ways to Christmas and feel the shoe with their hands when it is on the foot of the customer, who must be standing up.

This works for women too. I learned it when my kids were little and Panosians was the place for that sort of service in Elmira, NY. The ladies taught me a lot over the childhoods of my girls.

Fit is everything. The shoe must fit exactly, so the available sizes must include all the letters (A to E), not just narrow, medium and wide. And all the sizes, including the half sizes. When the shoe properly fits, then we don't need to wonder if our feet are being damaged.

The employee will also use a shoe stretcher for the trouble spots that are customer specific, although you can do this yourself at home. I don't want to say "saleperson" when talking about the fitting professional. The difference is huge. A real fitter will not sell you a shoe if you aren't properly fitted.

The cost needn't be horrifying, either. I'd say $70 to $90 would be a fair price for either mens or womens shoes. Not too bad for a shoe you will wear until the whole world is sick of looking at them, including yourself.

A properly fitted shoe ought also be good for dyeing. For that you need a leatherworker or a cobbler (a shoe repair place). You can dye the vinyl shoes yourself, but leather dye comes only in neutrals now, and needs to be mixed.

I have shoes that feel really wrong, but that's dysaethesia. At the end of the day, I remove the shoes, and if there is no redness or hot spots (that I can feel with my hands) then the shoes have done no damage. Feelings are not facts, although it pays to make sure the foot is okay. Like anything else with MS we have to be good observers.

Too much work? Not for a shoe bug.

pb
Little Pond

Monday, October 09, 2006

Shoe Bugs come out of the closet

The shoe closet, that is. Check with Sherry/ Have Myelin for the beginning of the debate, and read the comments. This is one topic that hits home.

I had to respond. Me and my big mouth and big opinions. But I do have some experience worth sharing here. I just didn't start with it. The best I have to offer is recent experience.

My Blogsister, Karen of Scottsdale, has another facet of the discussion, in the comments. Like it or not, I have an opinion on that, too.

Two Words: Space Shoes

Way, way, way back in the 1970's I worked for an orthotics-prosthetics place run by a man and his son who were practically born to the business. Back then, only the Beautiful People would consider Space Shoes, because they had to be ordered through a doctor, with a prescription. I don't think that is the case anymore.

Google "space shoes.". They used to be very expensive and I would bet they are quite pricey still. Some people can actually go through their doctor and their insurance or MedicAid will pay much of it. It wouldn't hurt to ask.


When considering the cost, keep in mind that they will simply last forever. For me, fancy shoes always last until I am sick of looking at the outdated things, years and years. I don't wear them often enough, but I do keep and do wear them. Because my feet are such a problem, I spend enough to buy what fits exactly. Comfort doesn't exist in my feet. Dysaethesia does.

Caveat: Be sure to specify--and stress--that COSMESIS is very important to you. Otherwise you will get shoes that match your feet, with some companies. I would love to believe that they know better now, but it was quiet a sticking point back then. If you don't get what you want, send them back for reworking.

They won't be Nine West, but they will be adorable. And quite smart!


Saturday, September 30, 2006

Finally!

Please feel free to visit other slightly more medically oriented blogs, newly blogrolled at right. There will be more later. Right now I am fairly familiar with these, and will blogroll more as I go along.

But next we will blogroll the more active-type bloggers. Those that like to tour their own towns, as do I. Watch this space...

pb
Little Pond

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Older can be Wiser

In the early days after my diagnosis, I read an awful lot of literature about MS and relationships. The message was this: MS is an strain on relationships, and they generally don't survive it.

This appears to be the case in many marriages. Even in my own family, one spouse left the other because MS broke their family. Not a good outlook for me.

My father told me a few years ago that he held my husband in high esteem because he stayed with me after the diagnosis.

Naturally I couldn't leave well enough alone. One day I cornered RJ, and asked him why he stayed, knowing how it would turn out.

It may just be his recognition of my survival powers, but it is most certainly a testament to my Other that his answer was simple and instantaneous.

"Just thought I'd hang around and see how it all turns out."

Silly me. No one "knows" how it will turn out. The journey is just as important as the destination.

Sometimes he is so wise it scares me.

pb
Little Pond

So here's the thing.

I turned on the bright lights over the sink, so I could see better.

Once I could see better, the crud around the cats' dishes became obvious. So I grabbed a brush and scrubbed at it.

Once I was down on my hands and knees, I noticed the entire floor really needed cleaning. So I swept it, to get ready to mop.

Once I started sweeping the corners, I noticed that the appliances need cleaning, especially down near the floor. So I wiped the outsides of the appliances.

Once the appliances were clean, I noticed there were fingerprints everywhere. So...

Here's where I caught myself. Already tired and I never even got to mopping the floor.

Think I'll blog instead.

pb
Little Pond

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Oh, the irony...

I was instant messaging JC (our central office) to tell them I was sending color pages over the wires, when a note popped up.

"PAGES LEFT!!!!?????" Then the phone rang.

"Why aren't you messaging?"

"Huh! We have been, all night." One doesn't waste words with that guy. We call him Mr. McGrumpiFlick, if you get my drift.

"It isn't working. Reboot it."

"But we are getting your messages!" MMGF muttered some more, but I'd already started to hang up, and I decided not to stop.

Boss asked what was up, and I told him. He, too, looked at all the messages on the board. We hadn't noticed that they were staying highlighted, even after we opened them. The phone rang again, and since it was MMGF, I said nothing but instead handed it directly to Boss.

After a short explanation, he hung up, amused. "MMGF said he was afraid you forgot how to use the system." He knows I have MS. I was not amused. I am instant messaging because Boss does not know how to initialize the system. We have instructions, but he lost his (read forgot where he put them) and doesn't remember how.

I got a message from the now re-booted system. "WELL!!!" Presumably because I hung up.

So, because I have MS, everyone assumes I can't remember anything. But I took note that Mr. McGrumpiFink didn't say anything to my face. He knows I'd tear him a new one. And I can pretty much guess what he calls me.

pb
Little Pond

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Never a door closes, but another opens, eh?

A while ago I mentioned that our local MS chapter closed: a victim, I believe, of blackballing by our local United Way.

Today a little note arrived from MSF, who apparently helped our local chapter. We were funded by a chapter in Florida, I thought. Of all places, I thought. Good people are everywhere, aren't they?

They are one in the same, I guess. Good people? Heck, yeah! They even promise not to pester me with multiple mailings.

The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation can be found here. I am throwing this out to anyone who wished they had some other support. I personally will be checking in with the website now and again. In fact I will use their sign-off.

"Wishing you a brighter tomorrow."

pb
Little Pond

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Let the Planetlets In!

(Author's note: In keeping with the name of this blog, we will, from time to time, include posts that deal with astronomy.)

One more dwarf planet has been added to our mapped solar system. This should soon become routine. Keep in mind that these dwarves have gravity, and could become possible landing sites for explorers.

That in itself ought to make each and every "planetlet" a point of interest for space speculators.

pb
Little Pond

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Labor Day weekend was very, very good to me...

and delivered one more perk. Sort of.

Maybe it was my imagination, but my shot hurt less today. Could it be a brand-new layer of baby fat to shoot?

In my forties, I injected my abdomen, because there, well, my fat was my friend.

But with the fifties, that abdominal fat disappeared, to be replaced by a lovely layer of lard around the waist. Strangely enough, it hurts a lot to shoot there. And stays sore a lot longer. The love handles, previously non-existent, are soft, fluffy and have become premiere injection sites.

This weekend more than ever. Naturally, I have stepped up my walking routine. Dog or no dog.

There's got to be at least 10 pounds semi-circling my waist. Good thing I return to work tonight.

pb
Little Pond

Monday, September 04, 2006

Oh, well.

Was composing a great post on shopping, now that I self-catheterize. Ellie (HuggaMutt) and Bubba (BabyBoy, the cat who is bigger than Ellie) were raising Cain right next to me. Ellie has a growly/complainy noise she makes when she's play-fighting with the cats. I think it's because the cats don't make enough noise when play-fighting. For once, chubby brown pup was getting the best of the big, gray bully.

Bubba hissed and spat at Ellie, who poked him in the (considerably good-sized) belly, sending him into the wall. The computer went dark.

Swearing a mighty oath, I cursed the little darlings. Self-preservation kicked in, and the two ran, shoulder to shoulder, into the living room to escape my wrath.

Took it as a sign from Heaven: popped a cold beer, and settled in for a few hours of saving the world in Final Fantasy VIII.

Three-day weekends rule!

pb
Little Pond

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Not yet up to speed

...but getting better and better. Self catheterizing is becoming more of a habit. I'm up only once or twice at night and mostly can sleep through a one-hour nap.

Don't know when I can take it back to work, but it definitely is helpful. I can go shopping for more than one hour!

Still don't though. I hate shopping.

pb
Little Pond

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Extraordinary Posts

...on (usually) mundane things. A captain's log on the day-to-day voyage of two extraordinary people. These podcasts are short and to the point. Some make me smile, others bring tears to my eyes. All in a lovely, rich, broadcaster's voice.

I don't know if this is a first, but it's the first blog that is almost exclusively podcast.

Enjoy.

pb
Little Pond

Monday, August 21, 2006

S'Wonnerful

Seemed that self-catherizing would be the natural conclusion to what has been a growing problem. Incontinence, both the GottaGo-GottaGo kind and the HurryUp--Can'tGo sort, is simply getting worse. With some fellow-blogger encouragement and a referral from my neuro, "I took the plunge," if you'll forgive the bathroom analogy.

Where does that leave me? "Relieved." It's wonderful to be able to empty my bladder. That simple action has been impossible for well over a decade, maybe longer. So in that sense, I'm "flushed" with victory.

But the process still leaves me fretful and reluctant to take it to work. I start work completely comfortable, but progress to worry as the night goes on. Drinking less water doesn't solve it: a completely private restroom would. There are none to be had at the paper; turns out the remotest ladies room is frequented by others who would have privacy! I wind up "evacuating" in a hurry, in both senses of the word.

In short, "when Nature calls" me, there is no easy answer.

It's my "number one" problem. I'll keep you posted.

pb
Little Pond

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Welcome Old Friends! New planets!

Last week we acquired a new, standardized, definition of what makes a planet a planet. And not an asteroid, meteor, comet or star.

Simply put, the
International Astronomers Union says a planet:

1--is round and
2--revolves around a star.

So old friends Ceres and Charon, and new friend "Xena," are all planets, according to the new rules. Ceres is in the asteroid belt, Charon is a twin to Pluto, and "Xena" is a nickname for 2003 UB313, larger than Pluto, but much farther away from the sun.

Many argue that the agreed upon definition will make for many more planets. I'm thrilled; we need a firm definition, even if it makes for new planets.


The IAU suggests that we separate the planets into our usual, classical planets and "plutons" will be the descriptor for the others. Beginning, of course, with Pluto, always a hotly-contested planet-contender, plutons are all quite tiny in comparison with the classical planets. As far as I'm concerned, that's that.


Don't you just love picking up on the new terminology?


pb

Little Pond

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I need a normal day after last night.

I was alone at the paper, though there were others on my floor. The car was at Goodyear, because the slashed tire was covered for the damage. They had my cell number.

The cell was out of service. Had been for two weeks. Out of service does not make it dead. It makes it a very expensive clock/calculator/phone book. By 7:00 I wondered about the car and called Goodyear. No answer. Didn't check my cell for messages because I never follow up. My OGM is to call my home number. So I walked the four blocks to Goodyear, where the Tracker was neatly locked away inside the building. When I tried to call Husband RJ, I learned the phone was useless. Returned on foot to the paper, where I called home and left a message for him that was never returned.

Last night was hellacious. Working alone with glitching software made for an busy, anxious night. So naturally I lost all sense of potty-training. No car--no quick exit. No RJ--no face-saving white knight. No cash (wedding planners are broke and debt-riddled)--no taxi (who wouldn't want me in his cab, anyway).

Just a bathroom stall and a packet of wipes. Took a half hour to make myself reasonably presentable, albeit faintly stinky. If the people sharing the floor, and those stopping by, noticed, they said nothing.

A coworker drove me home at midnight. I grumped at Husband RJ, who was blissfully asleep the entire four and a half hours, and went to bed.

Cripe. I can survive anything.

pb
Little Pond

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Visiting with the Urologist/RPA

NO, I would NOT "make an appointment for MORE tests," especially at the Associates in Elmira. The RPA said she would schedule right there in Corning. I declined again, telling her that my bad experiences and that of my family made me chary of any further tests.

She fairly sputtered: they couldn't okay anything without tests. Later, she backpedaled a tad, saying that she may have been part of the Associates when we had those problems. Immaterial detail to me; every office has good cases and bad cases. MS almost always makes me a difficult patient.

She repeatedly insisted she wanted only to help. But further tests that would be scheduled way in the future would not help me now. I could find the equipment on my own, if necessary. The GPA gave me a long, patient explanation of the procedure. I told her I already knew; it had been recommended to me 10 years ago. She wanted to know by whom: after the Associates tested me, they told my neurologist that there was nothing to be done for me. Furious, he promised we would try various drugs until one worked. He also suggested a catheter. GPA left the room.

When she returned she gave me a prescription for antibiotics; I have a UTI. No surprise; I always do. The nurse and I made the lesson short and sweet and I returned home.

It's going to be a long haul on this one.

On the one hand, I already last a lot longer between toilet trips. On the other hand, that could simply be the antibiotics. OR the Oxytrol patch for incotinence.

One more log to keep on my condition; no wonder blogging it all comes naturally.

pb


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Multiple Sclerosis and Mental Illness

I battle with clinical depression and am able to overcome the debilitation most of the time. This is because the depression is linked to MS. It's almost predictable in it's reappearance. It relates not only to the MS, but also to the worst stress in my life.

Right now I am again dealing with an exacerbation and resultant depression. Not coincidentally, one of the worst recurring stresses of my life is again making an appearance. At present I am unable to detail the stress, which is not work related, but at least I have tools to help.

Blogging is one of those tools. Not just writing, but also reading blogs. This blog, in particular, is especially helpful. I read it daily, addictively. The writer is that good. Recently she opened a thread of commentary, usually verboten, and now closed.

Many people say they've thought of going into the psychological sciences, either as a practitioner or in research. Not me. The inner strength required for that work is not one of my gifts. What psychologists are especially good at is listening and relating. That is the sort of thing found at Intueri.

If you are dealing with mental illness, bookmark it. When you are strong enough, visit. Sometimes it's disturbing, other times it's inspiring, but it is always a bit of a surprise.

pb
Little Pond

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Follow-up to a Floater

Geez, geez and geeeeeez! I'm looking at the darned thing right now, since it's spotlighted by the white Blogger posting screen. And I've just finished, with a great deal of trouble, a crossword puzzle, and screwed up (beyond all repair) a Sudoku.

All with the nasty thing impairing my vision. Boy, do I hate growing old. Because that's all it is. Old age, I've been assured by the opthamologist. It will eventually succumb to gravity and slide down.

Will it? Does anyone know from experience? The stupid thing looks like a starburst, or a tin pieplate with way too many cuts in it. Or even, (dare I say) an anus. Having raised two children, both born naked and needing plenty of attention down there, I've seen enough to know one.

It's not dangerous, and I need not fear it. But it's a real pain in the eye. Figuratively speaking, of course.

pb
Little Pond

Saturday, July 29, 2006

More relief: Little by little

Last night was no fun and that's no lie. However, since we always build up a bad crescendo as the week progresses, we expected it. Major rule of Recovery: Expect the worst and you won't be disappointed.

So we were expecting the worst. For me, six full hours of non-stop, mind-boggling brain teasers. What happened to the advertising, and how can we fix it? For my immediate boss, four or more hours of how can we avoid all the problems we had this week? For graphics coworkers, how do we pile fifteen pounds into a five-pound sack, while our clients are poking holes in it? For weekend worker, seven and one-half hours of watching the unfolding trainwreck and reporting to all sides of it.

Icing on the cake? The circulation manager/physical plant supervisor had to personally bring in the niche product that was forgotten in Central. He's a wonderfully burly guy, the sort who watches your back, and you are glad it's your back he's watching.

In the end, we'd solved a huge boatload of troubles, and yes, that will bring the crescendo down to a screaming roar. Intermediate fixes buy time for true redirection and actual solutions. And there were chicken wings for everyone. At midnight, however, nobody in our department wants them. But the gesture was a lovely one, and Warren went up miles and miles in our esteem. And those who were called in to load and unload the publications (on such short notice!) surely did them justice.

Sometimes a bossman just needs to throw on his sleeveless jersey and pitch in, tossing encouraging words in passing. Result? The happy demise of the stuffed shirt image. We back-room production guys despise "suits."

We are still not satisfied with my morning paper, though. Ah, well. Little by little.

Maybe now I can begin to heal from this nasty exacerbation.

pb
Little Pond

Friday, July 28, 2006

Better?

Too soon to tell. But.

But. They began repairs on the AC. That is to say that the building super is on vacation. This is actually a good thing, because the word is that the AC wouldn't be fixed by him; he would simply file a report that it can't be fixed without those parts they need. But.

My boss (yes, the one that went total jerk on me the other night) went over everyone's head and said I was playing the ADA card. The person in charge of the building super said he would see to it that it's fixed. That brought in our departmental boss, who's been stalled up at Central, doing Our Lady knows what. He used to be the building super, and apparently has some real chops. He cobbled a repair, just for little ol' you know who. It's not wonderful, it's still not real cool, but it's not hot and muggy any more. In fact the worst hot moments last night were courtesy of menopause.

And you can bet they will effect a complete repair. Been there, done that. It didn't happen like before because the Advertising Boss is now in charge of us. (This sort of nonsense cycles in and out every few years, with the change in regimes.) They always come to ask if I need any "accommodation." It never gets done, and I will point that fact out to them. It's been over ten years; they should have done something by now, and they simply haven't. Only now I am keeping score: should they come to me to ask, I have an errand list for them. We can start with bars around the toilet stalls; I will need them when I learn to self-catheterize.

I may have to go to Human Resources for that one: wouldn't pay to advertise the sordid details. I'm looking forward to that: maybe they will recognize the ADA card.

pb
Little Pond

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Disability?

Fighting it, fighting it... But I am just about ready to give up. Last night was so bad, what with the malfunctioning system, and lack of air conditioning, and on top of that, hints that we are simply using so much overtime. We spent all night fighting the poor conditions.

I am now exacerbating, with almost overwhelming dysaesthesia in my feet to my knees, my hands, that strange electric feeling in my neck, loss of hearing and increasing incontinence. I mentioned it to my boss, who exploded, telling me to sue and be damned (or some such).

I was up all night changing protection, to keep the bed dry.

Tonight I will ask for a status report. If the place is not making some sort of progress, I will need disability time.

There's another lady who has MS, and I think she just disappears when there's no AC in her department. Just quietly falls out of sight.

I'm thinking I won't go quietly. They've had more than ten years to adjust and provide accomodations. I'll be damned if I'm going quietly. If Mamma ain't happy...

pb
Little Pond

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A quick link: Self Catheterization

This is not a subject for everyone, and I'm somewhat reluctant to post it. But it is the purpose of this blog to reach out to other persons who would otherwise feel quite alone in their struggles with losing control of their bodies.

I do not yet use a catheter. In the early years after my diagnosis, my dear Dr. Bhat suggested it because I work and was constantly in the bathroom. I simply went all the time, and I was still wetting myself on a regular basis. In spite of spending a fortune on pads, guards, everything.

Well, I finally began using incontinence drugs. Detrol, and Ditrophan, I think. And they worked. A lot of the time. But the side effects were striking. Never having been constipated in my life, I was amazed to find myself dealing not only with painful-looking, bleeding bowel movements (with no feeling, I could force it as much as I was able--and you should see my abs under the middle age spread), but also regular bladder accidents.

Finally I'd had enough and gave up the drugs. But they actually had helped some. And now, some twelve years after initial diagnosis, I am still not getting much accomodation at work. The bathroom is adjacent to my workspace, but I still must go all the way around the building to use it! Talk about needing a clue. I can practically hear them flushing the toilets, but I have to race around the other side of the floor to get there. And I don't often make it, these days. Any added stress makes it worse, and we are in the middle of a traumatic transition.

So when I came across my baby BlogSister Pearlie's post, I began to feel that a cusp was approaching. She also was coping with the concept. I wept at her reaction; it was my reaction, too. And I read the comments to see who else was facing this decision. Cathy, wonderful and caring, detailed her own experiences. We emailed a bit, and I began to read her blog, Cathy's Rants and Ramblings.

Cathy recently emailed to tell me she's posting on Self Catheterization. If you are thinking that you could never do this, if you are thinking the whole thing sounds insane, it is not. Cathy is proof otherwise.

I remember being catheterized during a medical test. Everything in the post rings true. Unfortunately, so does the nightmare scenario at the hands of an incompetent nurse. In two weeks I will once again broach the subject with my neurologist; this time I will be more amenable to the whole thing. I am long overdue for some relief.

It would be nice to stay out of the ladies room for more than one hour at a time. And make it through a day without an accident, protection or no.

pb
Little Pond

Monday, July 24, 2006

New Beginnings or Same Old Sh*#?

PatsPond has my post regarding the last/first nights of our changeover to Johnson City. My relief at the lack of paper particulates and ink globules in the air was instantly replaced by anxiety when the higher-ups stopped in.

Our new boss was making inquiries: Why are there so many employees? Too much overtime. He seems to be all for more computers, but against the employees to work them.

He asked again why there were so many of us. We are three. There are seven nights a week to man, and ten publications to prepare. He happened to be there when all was running well, and we seemed idle. Actually we shifted to other duties; I went to advertising and my immediate boss turned to work on his comics collectors' column. We left the weekend person to his usual duties. We would simply not be there on a normal Sunday night.

New Boss would know this if he had ever come up to our workplace on any work night. Then we would seem undermanned and overworked. This may be alleviated with the new configuration, but we will still be working on advertising and layout preparation. We also compose the classifieds, and insert obituaries and other directories.

This person showed up for the ceremonial fluff, driving to Johnson City with the publisher. It insulted and demoralized us to have him come through, questioning our function and necessity. Up at JC he would be smiling for the photographers recording the launch. We will not see him again for months.

I know that later this week Prepress will be very, very busy, as usual. Mr. Bossman will not climb the stairs to see us sweating out (literally; there is no air conditioning right now) the details that make things seem to run so smoothly when the functionaries come for their self-congratulatory rites.

They are so disconnected that they cannot see the seeds of hatred they are engendering. At a time when NewBoss should be bringing us all together to work as one unit, he left us hissing with disgust and seething with resentment.

What a damnable shame.

pb
Little Pond

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Insanity

Last night I dreamed I was using a powered wheelchair on a woodsy road. I could see and hear turkeys overhead and moving across the road, and noticed there was a fox family watching their progress. A dog was with me, but it wasn't mine, and it ran into the den, chasing the fox and her kits. A person appeared, looking quite pleased, extracted the dog, and (I assume) stole it. All of this was making me very anxious, and indignant at the theft.

Okay, I understand about the wheelchair, since my BlogSister was researching them for a purchase. And I understand about the woodsy road and turkey sitings, although goodness knows I never saw a turkey when I was actually out hunting them. This area is lousy with them otherwise. And Ellie isn't my dog; she's my GrandDog. Still, I watch the Dog Whisperer a lot: Ellie requires a lot of leadership.

In the heat of the summer, I can catch a glimpse of foxes and sometimes coyotes, on the way to the Arnot Mall. I take the scenic route: what everyone else calls the "back way." It relieves stress for me. But what's with the puppy-napping?

I've got to stop working so much overtime. It's messing with my mind, and exhausting me, both body and soul.

pb
Little Pond

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Pearls and Dreams: not a positive post

My dear, sweet Baby BlogSis, Pearlie is in crisis. They are the same crises I have faced (to some degree). Note how the clinical, neurological issues are not even related to the psychical ones. Each are separate and come together to make life very challenging:

Pearls and Dreams: not a positive post

Just go there. And read the comments, because other courageous individuals are gathering to offer solace and good, solid information. Not just for my Pearlie. Thanks especially to Cathy, whose detailed narrative is such a comfort to me. My day is also coming; it's been suggested once. I reacted similarly, and the doctor answered likewise. Amazing.

pb
Little Pond

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Just got this missive... (A requiem)

Yesterday a notice arrived in an unsealed envelope from the CVMSA. It said, among other things:
On Friday July 7, 2006, Chemung Valley Multiple Sclerosis Association will close its office. Due to funding problems we are unable at this time to stay open. The day to day expenses of running a Non-Profit Agency have left us to this decision.
So we are not supported by the United Way. Apparently, fighting Multiple Sclerosis, and assisting its patients is not a worthy cause. I have heard that MS is an orphan disease, and it certainly feels that way right now. For years I have sent donations (to an organization that is supposed to help me!) and supported their raffles. All my UW donations have been specifically marked for the CVMSA, nothing else.

The United Way is dead to me now. Can't wait till they come knocking.

I'll just hand them a copy of the letter.

pb
Little Pond

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Two Great Posts in Grand Rounds

...caught my attention this week. Naturally, we want to thank GruntDoc, one of the working wounded this week: "Or how I celebrated Independence Day."

So link on over to RangelMD for this week's rounds.

My faves:

This little number reminds me of Dr. Bhat, best neurologist. Period.

And our own Womens' Health Center at the Arnot Hospital sounds a lot like this post. And read the comment section for more.

Guess I've been lucky a couple times in my life. Not always so. Some of the awful stuff reminds me of earlier years, and some pretty thick-skulled, low-skill providers. Soured me on medical professionals for a good long while.

Now I'm especially hardnosed. I don't pay them to be sweetie-pies, but I certainly don't pay them to treat me badly. I get what I want, or I get away from them. Not a lot of room for compromise anymore.

Works for me. So far.

pb
Little Pond

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Independence Day!


This mottled meatloaf is a representation of our entire household this July 4, 2006. The top paw is actually a hind leg! The overcast day would be perfect for outdoor activity if everything weren't so buggy from the flooding. Elmira is flood-free but the floodplains got it in spades, thank the Lord for their continued cultivation. No walking near the river these days. At least until the bugs give it a rest. Gotta work tonight, so it's down for a nap. One more shot below.Posted by Picasa

Brown as a Berry


Geez, what a tan. I remember when I used to bask in the hot sun. MS sure changed that little habit. VeggieGirl has to work in the hot sun, and she knows she has to use sunblock. And this is still the result!

pb
Little Pond Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 01, 2006

We are okay, thanks.

You may have wondered about all the local flooding. Our local story is here. If you are interested, there are many pictures in the photo galleries. I've linked there before.

Except for a wet basement that remains spotty with what I guess is condensation, we are unscathed.


The problem is along the Susquehanna, and not my beloved Chemung. After the Great Flood of 1972, caused by Tropical Depression Agnes, the Army Corps of Engineers constructed dams and levees, culverts, sluices and other flood diversions that have worked rather well.

When I came to Elmira College that fall, the dormitories were a mess, having been used by refugees who pretty much trashed them. (Actually they left them in about the same condition that they are left after every school term.) But the area was buggy outdoors and moldy indoors, and that is what we are experiencing now.

Some workmates fled homes that were completely covered. But!

But except for those diehards who hung around having "flood parties," those who were displaced took their belongings with them. So, unless they owned the home, the setback is temporary. I'm afraid the property will be devastated. A flooded river has enormous pull. Many homes will have floated downstream. The rest will need extensive rehabbing.

We heard about the flood parties. Alcohol and firearms. To kill the pain and shoot at the junk floating on the flood. Sort of the middle finger at all the misery surging around them.

It's hard to imagine the mess just a couple miles away. The sun is shining, the breeze is gentle, and the chores need our attention before the holiday. Everyone I care about is safe and has refuge. We will have to help with donations of time, energy, clothes and empathy.

Not sympathy, empathy. We've been there before and will probably go there again. We will help them pick up, rebuild, and move on. Big shoulders to cry on, too, I guess.

Hope the Army Corps of Engineers is up to the job of taming the Susquehanna.

pb
Little Pond

(I completely forgot that this was going to be a medically-oriented post. It's getting too long, but let it stand. More later.)