Sweating the Small Stuff

A few years back, prior to The Cancer, I had my thyroid ablated.  This involves taking a radiated iodine pill which adheres to and shrinks the thyroid gland.  This was to treat my Graves disease that had me sweating constantly, always tired and frustrated with my attempts at weight loss.  There’s nothing painful about the process, except the patient is required to be away from other people and animals for several days so that they are not accidentally radiated.  And it worked really well.  So well that the doctor didn’t believe me when a month after treatment I was telling him it was a success.  “You can’t be feeling any difference yet.”, was his reaction.  But I was cold.  And I was never cold.  I loved it.  There were a couple of side effects that surfaced later, but once my Synthroid was regulated, all was well.

I relate this story only to fill you in on how effing frustrated it is to now be sweating at the drop of a hat.  Because the Tamoxifen I take to lessen the chances of The Cancer returning.  It blocks estrogen production and (I thought) throws the patient into early menopause.  HA!  Joke’s on me.  It doesn’t throw the patient into early menopause, it just mimics the symptoms.  My body will go through menopause when it wants to and that isn’t going to happen any time soon.

I don’t know why, but I was so focused on the hot flashes, that I didn’t even look into some of the other side effects of the drug.  I’ve been feeling like crap lately.  Just generic crap.  So I thought this morning I would check into the side effects in a little more detail.  Low and behold, many of the things that have been bothering me can be side effects of the drug.

  • Weight gain.
  • Mood swings.
  • Depression.
  • Thinning hair.
  • Bone and joint pain.
  • Swelling of the legs.
  • Peeling/splitting/ridged nails.  (Mystery solved.  Anyone want a ton of nail products?)
  • A few more that are too gross to discuss in public.

Then I go about researching my Effexor side effects.  Effexor is the drug I take to keep from ruining every relationship I have.  Well, looky there!

  • Weight gain.  (Really?  Again?  C’mon!)
  • Changes in mood (supposedly for the better).
  • Swelling of the legs.
  • Bloating.
  • Respiratory issues.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Loss of strength.
  • Abnormal dreams.  (I don’t mind this one.  They’re very entertaining.)
  • Other gross things.

I’m not sure if knowing this makes me feel better about things.  Usually, knowing there’s a reason I’m feeling the way I am makes me feel better, but looking down the barrel of three more years (possibly eight since they now recommend ten years of therapy, instead of the previous five) of worsening side effects from this drug fills me with dread.

I’ve been hearing reports of women who’ve opted out of the post cancer drug regimen.  I have a friend who’s having her ovaries yanked so she doesn’t have to take it any more.  My oncologist gave me that option, too.  But I’m not looking to have any more surgeries, thank you.  The last two years have been enough for me.  We’ll be putting off any non-life-threatening procedures until my PTSD subsides a little.  My PCP had the nerve to suggest it was time for another colonoscopy. “You should have one every five years.”, she suggests.  Well, I found the paperwork from my last one and guess what?  It was in 2012.  Boo-yah!  I have two more years and you can step off.

This past weekend, I was organizing my office.  One of the tasks was organizing The Cancer Binder.  When I was first diagnosed I quickly became overwhelmed by all the paperwork involved in managing the situation.  I was juggling four doctors and multiple tests and the plethora of bills that came from all directions.  It made me feel more in control to put all of this information in a binder.  All the bills I paid.  All the referrals.*  All the E.O.B.s.  Every pamphlet and piece of paper given to me by my doctors.  In the last year or so, though, I’ve started just shoving the documents into the book with no particular order and I wanted to get that together.  Then I put the bulging book away on a shelf instead of next to my desk where I have to look at it every day.  I wish I could say I wouldn’t have to update it, but the biopsy this spring proved I’m never going to be “over” this.  But having it “over there” is a reminder that things are not as bad as they could be.

Someday, I will be off these meds and through a real menopause and hopefully back to enjoying things like dry hair and not having to have paper towels at the ready to wipe my face.  Until then, I’ll just enjoy the one side effect of the medication that  is a plus:  Mosquitoes don’t think I taste good any more. :)

*Referrals were created by the devil and insurance companies just to make a patient’s life more difficult.  I have to call my regular doctor to get a piece of paper that says I can see my surgeon or my oncologist.  And there’s always a beginning and end date that never quite coincide with my appointment.  I had to change my most recent oncologist appointment four times until I could get the proper paperwork filed.

The Danger of an Idle Workday

Things are a little slow again at work.  I’ve been lucky to have had enough to do the last week or so, but it’s started to peter out.  Even the three days it took me to figure out some looping had to come to an end.  And, while I like the break, I am a danger to myself when I’m left with too much time at a computer and nothing productive to do.  My problem can be summed up in one word.

Amazon.

So far today, I’ve ordered two instruction books for my steel guitar (along the lines of “Steel Guitar for Morons Having Not Touched a Musical Instrument In 40 Years”) and put a new bathroom scale on my wishlist.  I am this close to buying it.

The problem is, I have a bathroom scale (I think I still do) somewhere in my house.  It’s not a good one.  As I recall, it was a pain in the ass.  The kind you have to tap to start and then shoot for two out three (sometimes three out of five) for an accurate weight.  It was very frustrating.

I also have a gym membership and the gym has a doctor’s scale that I could use.  And while I was there, I could maybe use the treadmill or elliptical or something.  Since I was there and everything.  I read a tip on a blog that made a ton of sense.  She said that even if you don’t want to exercise, you should still get dressed and go.  Even if you’re walking slow enough to read a magazine while you watch a TV show, you’re still not sitting on the couch and you may just feel like doing something once you get there.

Instead of doing that, I’ve been eating poorly.  Again.

I don’t understand why I fell down the rabbit hole again, but I did.  Blame the birthday, blame the busy, blame the genes.  Doesn’t matter.  Eat like shit; feel like shit.  Feel like shit; only want to eat like shit.  That’s my circle of failure.  I had two good weeks and then it all went to hell in a hand basket.

To top it all off, I feel like I’m wanting to come down with something.  Which is not going to increase my desire to get up in any way.  I’m hoping it’s just allergies, but it’s feeling more and more like a virus of some sort.  I was pleased to have gotten at least two things done yesterday that needed doing, but for the most part, I felt like I could have slept all day.  And that feeling came crashing down on me Saturday evening, in the middle of a thoroughly enjoyable outing with the Besties.  I wish there as some little warning device I could wear that would alert me to a mood crash like that.  Sort of like the lights on the dashboard of your car that blink when it’s out of gas.  Yeah.  Like that.  Then you could tell your friends, “I’m sorry, but I have two more hours of happy left and then I’m going to get really quiet/bitchy/whiney.  Please don’t think it’s anything to do with you.”

Good news is this:  Husband is away tonight at a work function until the wee hours and Boy is closing, so I am going to get myself the hell out of here on time and go home to a house that has no one in it but me and my dog.  So I am going to skip Water Aerobics (yeah, yeah.  I know) and enjoy a few hours of peaceful bliss.  Or just go to bed as soon as I get home.

Onward toward tomorrow.

The Over Side of the Hill

Beginning my 53rd year.  Seems unreal.  I do not feel any different than I did when I began my 20th year.  A little more seasoned, is all.  Hopefully, making better choices.  (But still forget sunscreen half the time.)  Experienced enough to know that the times I want to stab my husband in the neck and the times I want to stab myself will pass.

Here are some things I’ve learned about myself:

  1. The best thing to do when I’m feeling blue is to be around people who make me smile.
  2. Being around people for too long leads to some much needed alone time.
  3. I love a nap.
  4. Napping is a sign that I don’t have enough interesting things to do.
  5. I’d still rather read a book old school style – with pages and a cover.
  6. I cry because I’m angry, not because I’m sad.
  7. No matter how much I hate the idea of it, exercise makes me feel better.
  8. No matter how much I love junk food, eating better makes me feel better.
  9. Seven and eight will always be a struggle for me.
  10. I’m dog people.  Cats are cute and all, but I love dogs.
  11. It’s never too late to try something new.
  12. “Good” food is a matter of taste more than execution.
  13. I prefer a smaller house and less stuff.
  14. I’d rather have money to travel than have cool things.
  15. Photos of my travels are better than t-shirts and souvenirs.
  16. Being a grandmother doesn’t make one feel old, it makes one feel young.
  17. Never make someone choose between you and the one they love.  You’ll always lose.
  18. I will always miss my grandmother too much on my birthday.
  19. It may not seem like much to me but it may be very important to someone else.  And vice-versa.
  20. Quality time spent with my best friend will erase anything bad that happened before it.

And now the weather is cooling and the apples are turning red.  Soon the leaves will change and we’ll slide into my favorite time of year.  Now with more kayak!

Ah, Family!

This weekend was the Husband’s family reunion.  Normally we skip this event, except for the year that it’s our branch’s turn to host.  Then there’s no way he can get out of it.  The extra bonus is seeing our Niece and Nephew and their kids.  And their parents, although I don’t think their parents like us very much.  (Based on their reaction to the multiple invitations to visit our home.)  They stay with my SIL, because she has room and can keep her mouth shut when they say something she disagrees with.  (Not so much the husband.)

When we host the reunion, we do so at my SIL’s church.  She has taken over the matriarch role since my husband’s parents passed and she is the keeper of all family history.  She knows relatives names to 1,000 places.  And their birthdays and how they are sort of related to us but not really.  We all decided to meet at the church at 9:30 am to get things ready.  Dinner was to be served at 1:00, but people could be expected to start showing up around 11:30, since they were coming from all around the state.   When we got there at 9:30, there was already a crowd working on setup (who knows what time they got there) so every thing was pretty much done by 10:00.  (Many hands and all.)  That made for a fun couple of hours sitting around.  But it was nice to have more time to visit with the people we care about.

We ate some good farm food and ate some yummy deserts and had the silent auction to raise money for the next reunion.  Everything was going as usual.   Until one of the shirt-tail cousins came in the door carrying her two year old and calling her sister a C-U-Next-Tuesday at the top of her lungs.  Apparently, there is some strife between the two over a rental property and a lawsuit.  Just a little.  So sisters are screaming at each other and one is spouting profanity at the other in the church community room.  Their mother seemed oblivious to the situation, so I felt free to butt in and ask them to please have some respect.  Believe me, I used my grown-up voice.  And when Cussy McCusserston decided she was taking her toys and going home, I helped her carry them out.

You do not disrespect my SIL in her place of worship.

The (obviously) saner of the two sisters sort of apologized and helped us start cleaning up, because people had somehow disappeared while we were “working things out.”   Which was okay by us.  We got out of there about an hour earlier than planned.

So, aside from that, and Husband leaving to “let the dog out” for over an hour while I stayed behind with his family, the family reunion was a success.  We won’t have to go for another three or four years and by that time who knows how much family there will be to reunite?  Many of us would like to start having reunions of just the bloodline of Husbands grandparents.  I’m all about that.  And then we could have it on a Saturday!  And maybe Husband would want to go.

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A few other things:

  1. Went to the oncologist yesterday and per their scale I have lost five pounds since my visit to my regular doctor on the 7th.  I would have liked it to be more, however, I am trying to not get hung up on numbers and just focus on the health.  I don’t have a scale at home and probably won’t be weighed again until October.
  2. Still keeping up with the splashing class.  The instructor was out last week and three of us even met at the pool to do some working out while she was gone.   Most of the friends I’ve started with have quit going but I made a new friend in the one who hasn’t.
  3. I am not even close to menopause.  Sigh.
  4. My reduction of sugar in my diet is going well.  Not perfectly by any means, but enough that my beloved Caramel Macchiato was too sweet this week.  I’ve added Salmon to my diet about once a week (even though it’s super expensive).
  5. I’m remembering how good it feels to eat well and move more.  (Why do I always have to remember that?)
  6. I did not take a single nap this weekend!  While I love my naps, I don’t like feeling like I have to have one to get through the day.  And I prefer that reason that I’m not taking one be that I’m busy doing something active.
  7. I bought a skort.  I bought it to wear to the reunion because it was hotter than the surface of the sun that day and I decided I didn’t care how ugly my legs were, I was going to go for comfort.  I don’t really know what I looked like but I looked at least as good as anyone there and I felt cute so that’s all that matters.

Goals:

  1. Incorporate some movement into my days when I don’t have class.
  2. Cook more.
  3. Get more sleep. I’ve taken to staying up too late again.  I need sleep.  Sleep is good.

What Works and What Doesn’t

Things that are working well for me:

  1. I have made it to Water Aerobics four weeks in a row.
  2. This is my fourth week without soda. (Diet or regular.) (Yes, I still want one, especially first thing in the morning.)
  3. #1 has made me strive to move more. We’re talking baby steps here.
  4. I’m getting out of work on time. (Although this has more to do with the fact that we’re woefully short on work than my own tenacity.)
  5. My friend gave me her mother’s steel guitar. Learning to play the steel guitar has always been on my bucket list.  Based on the research I did yesterday, I will be 80 before I can produce anything but sound.
  6. I went to the farmer’s market and bought some fresh veggies and a loaf of wonderfully dense wheat bread.
  7. I resisted both bagels and an amazing cake at work last week. (The cake was from a bakery called “Love and Buttercream”.  SERIOUSLY?  I’m salivating from typing it.)

Things that aren’t working as well for me:

  1. Still struggling to not let the job piss me off.
  2. Still struggling to not condescend when talking to my mother. (Even though she says stuff that makes me want to hang up on her.)
  3. I have pain in both knees and my right hip. It doesn’t bother me too much, but climbing stairs has become a real challenge.
  4. I went to the Dr. on Tuesday and have gained 15 pounds since my last appointment, 3 months ago.
  5. She also put me back on Glucophage because my insulin was high, even though my blood sugar was normal.
  6. And she told me that I am nowhere near menopause yet, so the Tamoxifen/Effexor combination is going to be the only thing that I can do for the foreseeable future.

All of this pales in comparison to the one thing that happened and is both bad and good.

The boy is not going to the fancy art school in September.

I am heartbroken.  He is sad but is dealing with it, which makes me prouder still.

He received his final financial aid statement on Monday.  He was excited that he got a couple of government loans and a grant.   But the part I saw was the remainder due.  He was $30K short for the year.

I kept stressed about it and did some research until he went to meet with the Advisor on Wednesday.  That’s when he came home, having pretty much already decided not to continue.  The part that hurt me was when he said I’d need to cosign and I told him his mother has super shitty credit and is currently over extended (and has been that way for the last 12 years), so I could not do that.  Nor could I get a PLUS loan because I’m not ready to add to my debt load at that rate.   We also talked about how he’d be $100K or more in debt at the end and his dad and I really didn’t want that burden for him.

He agreed, also pointing out that he would not have any time to work on his current project, since a full credit load would be required.  The only thing he’s missing is the opportunity to mix with people like himself.  The social aspect was the biggest part.  That and having to tell everyone that he’s not going, when his mother made such a big frickin’ deal about it.  (My mother’s second sentence, of course, was, “Can I have my $100 back?”)

The plan is this:  Boy will take at least one class next semester; either at his community college or the local university.  It should be a class that will count toward any future education.  He’ll research other colleges that can provide the degree he wants and then re-evaluate in January.  Also, he will get his 2016 FSFA application in early enough in the year to make a difference.   For my part, I’m going to solidly work on getting our debt-load down so the possibility of helping him is not completely out of the question.

So…current goals are:

  • Continue to reduce work stress.
  • Be aware of/reduce the “Glycemic Index” of my diet. (Except on pizza Wednesdays.)
  • Move more.
  • Reduce debt load.

I know you all atwitter waiting for the results.  Stay tuned.

What This World Is Coming To

Some years back, when Marriage Equality came to the forefront of the political scene, if you’d asked me my opinion I would have just shrugged.  It didn’t matter to me.  I didn’t think it effected me personally.  But I guess, over the years, as I’ve come to know gay and lesbian couples, it has begun to matter quite a lot.  It must, because yesterday’s SCOTUS decision made me so very happy.

As I was telling a friend, I work with two men, both of whom had to leave their home states to marry their beloved.

I also have wonderful neighbors who have been living together for over 20 years.  They are both in their 70’s and one of the ladies is very ill, without insurance.  How wonderful would it be if they decided to marry and her spouse could make end-of-life decisions for her?  Or even get her insured so her end of life doesn’t have to come so fast?

There are two arguments I keep hearing against this ruling:

  1. This should be a state decision and the Supreme Court should not be able to over rule it.
  2. Clergy all across the country are got to suffer/be arrested/be attacked because they won’t marry same-sex couples.

I cry bullshit on both of these.

  1. The Supreme Court is there to uphold the Constitution and federal laws.  I believe the pursuit of happiness is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence as an inalienable right.
  2. My father is an ordained minister. (Yeah, it is hilarious.) A while back he told me he was sad because he had met with a young couple who had asked him to marry them and he had to refuse.  Were they gay? No.  He refused because in his heart he believed there to be problems in the relationship.  Apparently, he’s done this more than once.  Now, to me, this is wrong.  Which is why I would never be a member of his church.  But he’s not going to get arrested for doing what he believes is the right thing.  And knowing how he felt, I would never go to him to marry me.  Nor would I go to a Catholic Church, because I know they wouldn’t welcome my divorced husband.  But I know Catholic people who are perfectly adorable.  I love some of them.  Just like I know gay people I love, but I wouldn’t expect them to trot to my Dad’s bible thumping church for a wedding.

Also, in the news, the Confederate flag is being taken down all across the South. Hell, Walmart is even taking it off the shelves and those are their people!!  I understand that the flag is a symbol to the South, but the Confederate Flag belongs in a museum right next the the flag with 13 stars.  It’s okay to teach about it.  It’s okay by me if you want to fly it off your porch.  (If you did, however, I would also assume you have camouflage and several automatic weapons.)  (Or that you were my stepbrother.)  But it shouldn’t be flying anywhere on government property.  Just like we wouldn’t fly the Mexican flag or the English flag.  That war was lost.  Move on.

Sidebar:  I really have no problem with the Ten Commandments being a feature in court houses across the land.  Where do we think laws came from.  That’s history, too.

I think it’s the worst kind of unfortunate that nine people had to die in order for this to happen.  I think the racial events of the last year will prove a catalyst to greater change in the future, but I don’t know if we’ll ever see the kind of racial equality that I would like to see.  The kind that is blind to color and everyone is judged by who they are.

But then I never thought I’d live to see yesterday.  So, who knows?  It gives me hope, at least.

Things Are Looking Up

So…Things are indeed looking up.

  1. My main excitement is that Boy has been accepted to his art college of choice.  It’s going to mean he’s going to have to get Student Loans because – whew – hella expensive.  But I am so proud of him for going after this.  He did what we asked him to do.  He got an Associate’s Degree.  Now he’s going to do what he wants to do.  And I don’t think it will matter that he’s four years older than the other students.  He put in his application for housing yesterday and I really hope he gets it.  I always wanted to do the whole dorm/college thing.  Wish I had taken that route when I had the chance.  And he’s doing this all on his own.  I couldn’t be more proud.
  2. I buried the lead on #1:  He got a $10K a year scholarship!  That’s pretty cool.  It will help a lot.
  3. A friend of mine asked me to join her water aerobics class last week.  It’s a different class than the one I had been attending at the gym.  I liked it a lot more.  It was more challenging.  They have the class on Monday and Wednesday and it will cost me about $15 a week to attend both, but that’s okay.  It’s good for me.  And Husband has admitted that, while he’d like to have me home every night, I am much happier when I do these things.  I skipped Monday because of some threatening weather, but really wished I hadn’t.
  4. My second class was yesterday at the end of a very bad work day.  I didn’t want to go.  My friend didn’t show up cause she was sick, but her other friends were just as warm and inviting without her.  By the time warm up was over, I was feeling so much better.  And I was able to stop eating before I really wanted to last night.  This morning I woke up before my alarm went off for the first time in weeks and made it to work early.  I even parked farther away from the building.  One habit really does help me get back on track.
  5. I haven’t had a Coke or any other soda since Sunday.  I really want one.  But I’m not going to have one.
  6. My morning coffee habit (2 cups with about three tblsp of Hazelnut creamer) is almost gone.  I’m finding I don’t really have a taste for it anymore.  I’m more into water in the morning, which is better for me.  When I do drink coffee for the caffeine kick, I’ve been drinking it black.  I do, occasionally, treat myself to a iced Caramel Macchiato at SBUX, but only if I’m in the neighborhood.  (Those things are expensive.)

So things are looking up.  I am getting more into the groove with regard to my health and that makes me happy.  I’m trying to cook more, as that makes quite a difference.  I made the most yummy Asian Chicken with Udon Noodles and Peanut Sauce last week.  Even Husband ate it.  (Although I don’t know if he was kidding or not about adding a can of gravy.)  When food tastes good, I tend not overeat as much.

Work has been very difficult for me lately.

I have a tendency to feel “left out” of things when others on my team are in meetings to which I’ve not been invited.  Or when everyone knows what I’m working on but I have no clue what they’re working on.  Or when I have nothing to work on.  Or when I don’t understand something.  Basically, I’ve just been feeling like I don’t understand my job very well and people are not trusting me to do it.  Which is ridiculous because I’ve had several successful projects wrap up in the last few months and the stumbling blocks we’re having on the others have more to do with lack of communication than anything else.

Yesterday, one of my favorite people in the company hurt my feelings.  She’s a Director and is under a tremendous amount of stress.  We’re severely understaffed right now and she’s been forced to take on a lot of roles that she normally would delegate.  While I don’t report to her directly, she’s still a Director and her respect means something to me.  (Hell, it means something to me because she’s just an awesome person in general.)  We’ve been working on a project together that has a multitude of problems. It didn’t kick off right.  It wasn’t quoted well.  The President wouldn’t let me do a part of the job that I usually do, so I got my panties in a bunch and decided to only do what he told me.  (I really should have acted as if I was doing my part anyway.)  My vacation came right in the middle of the project and someone else had to take over.  Then this Director got thrown into the mix in the middle when the President couldn’t make time for it any more.

In the end, we’re getting done what needs to be done, but only because we’re altering things on the back end.

Anyway…Long story longer, yesterday there was an exchange of emails that basically asked me why I was doing something a certain way and my response of, “Because you told me to.” was met with defensiveness and when I attached the email I received telling me to do it that way – clearly stating I must have misunderstood it – she accused me of blaming her.

I started at least three emails in response and trashed them all.  I had a good cry about it and let it ruin my afternoon. I thought about calling her to work it out but decided not to add to her stress.  I’m glad I did, because this morning she apologized and asked if we could meet and discuss this tomorrow when she’s in the office.

I’m trying so hard to think before I act here at work.  And at home, too.  Maybe it’s working.  One’s never to old to learn,  I guess.