Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Another great thing

Everyone in my household is now fully vaccinated, so I finally felt comfortable getting my hair cut.  She took off 7 inches; my hair was the longest it had been in years, and I think I'd gone about 15 months without one. 

Before:

After:
I feel so much better, and with the warm weather, I keep my car windows down when I drive, so it's not in my face any more and I can sleep without getting it trapped under me.  It's amazing what a simple haircut can do for you. :) 

I haven't written in awhile

I've been busy at work and at home, and I guess I just fell out of the habit of going to the app and blogging. (My roommate is usually on my laptop). It's a little harder to use the phone, even with a Bluetooth keyboard. 

I did want to blog about this, though. I've started using a continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system called Dexcom G6.  It takes my blood sugar every 5 minutes throughout the day without fingers ticks, and should help me lower my hA1C some.  It wasn't bad last time (it was 7.6%), but it could be better. And I was checking my blood sugar four times a day in my fingers.  I'm not free of finger sticks--if I need to calibrate the system or if it gives a reading that is inconclusive, I should still have my meter on me.  But generally I won't have to stick. 

It works by applying a sensor on a patch to the abdomen, then inserting a transmitter.  There is a receiver as well, although it can also broadcast to a smartphone. The sensors last 10 days; the transmitters three months. There is an app that keeps track of when you should change it.  There are certain things you need to be aware of--you can't wear them in an MRI or CT scan.  You shouldn't go through the whole body scanner at the airport, but rather ask to be wanded, patted down, or go through an actual metal detector.  They shouldn't be x-rayed. But you can shower and all the other parts of normal life.  Here are some pictures to give you some idea:


Anyway, I'm hoping this helps me manage my diabetes better.  I'm lucky in that my insurance covers it as durable medical equipment once it's pre-approved and with a couple of in-network providers (mine is Byram Healthcare). I've met my out-of-pocket expenses (my plan has a low deductible and out-of-pocket max, for which I'm grateful).  So I don't have to pay anything for the rest of the year, and at the beginning of next it will be 20%, so not bad.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Grrr....

So one benefit of Zoom is allowing one to check up on people you care about who otherwise have no voice. Discovered today that a friend in hospice has been without his morphine due to someone's incompetence, whether it be in the nursing home, the prescribing office, or elsewhere. Not acceptable. 

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Whew!

So I came home last night all wound up after two or three days of working multiple freaking miracles in terms of scheduling same-day or within the next couple of days imaging exams, and my roommate pointed out that I was acting a bit manic, talking a mile a minute with push of speech. Which is true. And I will probably crash this weekend from the results of too much adrenaline this week. But while mania and hypomania are never really desirable, and have a host of problems if prolonged, a little extra zing in my step really helped this week. This proves that even challenges can be helpful if channelled correctly. I spent a lot of time this week using the Pomodoro technique to focus (you use a timer--such as an app I use called Focus To Do--for 25 minutes of focused work, followed by 5 minutes' rest, repeat, until a few cycles and then you get a 15 minute break--it's called Pomodoro from the Italian for tomato, because a lot of early kitchen timers were in that shape). Anyway, it really helped this week, along with taking some of my boss' suggestions for organising, and it really cut down on my scheduling time. I guess all those time management books I've been checking out from the library are starting to help, too. 🙂 Now if I can just get comfortable asking for help rather than trying to please everyone when I'm drowning. I'm still trying to figure out this thing we call life. I think we all are.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Feeling relieved

So back in November, I called to make a mammogram appointment because I'd last had one a couple of years before and I'd put it off, mainly due to COVID. I needed a late appointment, which pushed it out to January 18th, but that was okay, I figured. I went and got it, didn't think much about it, and had decided that all must be fine or they'd have called me, and I'd probably get something in the mail in 2-4 weeks (or more, given the challenges of getting anything through the Postal Service these days).

Then they called.

It was all matter-of-a-fact. There was need for a diagnostic mammogram because of something on the images. I was in enough shock I didn't ask what it was. At the urging of a co-worker who has been through cancer and was talking me down from a panic attack, I called back and was told it had to do with assymetry, something showing up inside one breast but not the other, something not noticed on my previous imaging. I was to come today for that mammogram and prepare to stay one to three hours in case there was need for an ultrasound or biopsy.

Fortunately we've been dealing with ice in our area, so I haven't had much chance to overly worry. But I went today and had just the left breast scanned, and then sat in the waiting room in my little half-gown wondering how it would come out. Then someone called my name, told me I was free to go, and took me to the changing room and showed me the results were normal, that it was just normal tissue. I was very much relieved, dressed, went back to the car, and texted my friends at work--two of whom were not so lucky to get good news--my results. All in all I was in there about 37 minutes, only about 25 past my appointment time. It was over very quickly, and that was great. But there were other women who were there, and I remember one pacing in the hallway, others quietly introspective. One of them might not be getting good news.

So that was the sum of my little scare, but it all came out happy in the end. Thank you so much to Jessica, who talked me through the panic and got me to seek as much information from them so I could empower a sense of calm.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Ice storm!

A bottle of deicer I bought on Amazon and had delivered last week got me to work this morning, a little late, but overall it went pretty well. I got the car door open within a couple of minutes.  It took another hour or so to get the windows as clear as I could of ice, and then a slow trip for the four miles to work.  I usually clock in at 8:30 am, and I made it there between 9:10 and 9:30 am (I'm not sure of the exact time, as I was kind of tired by that time and was just thankful to have made it to the Orange Lot at UK, walked to the shuttle, rode the shuttle, and then walked from the other side of the UK hospital to my workplace.   The only dicey part actually was crossing South Limestone at Conn Terrace, especially as the sidewalks were clear and salted, but didn't have the little bit of snow on them for traction.  The pictures are of what I found outside the house this morning.  The trickiest part was getting the limb off the porch without falling off the porch.  This is now the fifth major ice storm I've been in (four in Kentucky, one in South Carolina of all places, with seven inches of snow right outside Myrtle Beach, where I lived when I was about five because there was an Air Force base there). Anyway, I managed to get a lot of work finished because there weren't many e-mail of phone call interruptions. :) I got home after 6:30 pm because I had to go to the pharmacy (I was out of insulin pen needles), get gas, and get a few things at the grocery.  It was definitely re-freezing once the sun was down.  Now I'm safely at home, letting the bread dough rise, and thankful to be inside.  We lost power for just a couple of hours last night. Fingers crossed, I hope we don't have a repeat, as I couldn't sleep without my CPAP that whole time. 

Also, a big thank you to the gentleman who, seeing me struggle to spray and pry ice off of my gas cap cover for five minutes, help me get the last of it off so I could open my tank and fill up. 

Friday, February 05, 2021

Ugh

It's 9 pm on a Friday night and both my roommate and I are headed for bed. He cooked and did a lot today at home. I worked really hard despite less than 4 hours of sleep and forgetting to take my meds till about 3:30 pm. Also, I hurt all over tonight (a fibromyalgia flare up) but also my knee is throbbing so badly I can barely walk, and it's swollen. I haven't done anything to it recently. It took three ibuprofen and ice to get where I could do the dishes. I tore my meniscus when I fell in February of last year, but not to the point of surgery. I think I've somehow irritated that. I'm off it now; hopefully it goes back to its normal, everyday osteoarthritis pain. Good night.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Back on the phone

Which reminds me. My roommate is right.  This is just a sickness. I have to match everything.  If I wear a purple blouse, then I'll match my coat, my gloves, my jewelry, even my underwear and such to the purple.  Even in the days of Covid, I match my mask to what I wear.  My shoes are usually black, as are my pants.  But I then have to match my phone case.  In the past, I've had something like 10 phone cases per phone (over a 3-4 year period, Mind you). I told myself that when I got this phone, I'd keep it to a minimum. So I have a grey wallet case and a dark greyish black one I can charge with, which pretty much go with everything, although my roommate, an artist, was quick to point out grey doesn't go with red (I disagree) or yellow (I never wear that). I did break down and get a case that is clear with blue and purple, the two colours I wear the most on it. So then I had to choose a theme that I had to go with it.  I chose the butterfly one that has blue and purple.  (Butterflies have special significance to me, and my middle name (or one of them, anyway) means butterfly in Welsh.) But that was not enough... behold, a butterfly on my watch. 

PS I would have preferred silver or black to rose gold for the watch, but that was the one they had and had the special on.  It does work, it's just all my jewelry, such as it is, is silver, except for gold-surrounded Victorian penny that I keep an old gold chain for that was my great-grandmother's.

It's not like I don't have books

Out from the library. :) I need to do some reading. 

Can you tell

I'm up early and have the computer all to myself? Just one more post for now.

So I got a bit of a scare the other day. On the 18th, I went to get a screening mammogram. It's been about 2 1/2 years since my last one, due to COVID, as I'd planned to get one last spring, and then when I made the appointment a couple of months ago it took a bit to get a late evening appointment.

I hadn't heard anything for a week, so I figured they'd just send me a letter saying everything was okay. Then I got a phone call a few days ago asking me to come in for another mammogram, which would be diagnostic, as the radiologist had seen something and wanted more data, and to be prepared to spend 1-3 hours there.

No one wants that call.

Now as you know, I live with a lot of anxiety, and I was really trying to not go into panic mode. I talked to a co-worker who's been through breast cancer and she suggested I call back for more information as to the indications for the new test. After playing phone tag, I got a call from a nurse saying there was no visible mass, but that there was an asymmetry in the left breast they wanted to investigate further. I just assumed that meant there was something different in the left breast vs. the right, and that's true, but it's a specific term in mammography, unrelated to say, differences in size for the breasts. From the summary of an abstract for an article relating a case-study of missed malignancy diagnosis in breast asymmetry:
Summary. The developing asymmetry has a 12–15% risk of malignancy but poses challenges of detection and interpretation due to the lack of typical features of cancer and the frequent absence of an ultrasound correlate. Failure to biopsy these lesions may lead to delayed diagnosis of breast cancer.
Also from the article itself:
Asymmetry and developing asymmetry are seen on 3.3% and 0.16% of screening mammograms respectively. An asymmetry is highly likely to be benign, with the likelihood of malignancy reported at 1.8%. However, 12.8% of the developing asymmetries identified on screening are malignant and therefore these findings require biopsy.
So, it's highly unlikely that it's malignant. They just want to verify that it's not of concern. The radiologist will read it while I'm there. If there is concern, they'll do a biopsy while I'm there, which is why I have to plan on being there so long.

Anyway, I'm glad my co-worker was there to talk to and she really helped. Hopefully it will be nothing. I'll write more when I know more.

It's especially important that I keep the kitten out of my room these days

Because my aloe is getting ready to bloom, and I'm so excited, as I've never seen one do that! It came out of the blue and was quite a bit up before I even noticed it. I went to check the orchids for spikes, and there it was! I'll update with pictures when (and if) it opens.

Yay!



So I didn't mention this before, but one good thing about working in health care is that I had the opportunity to get the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the first group, 1a. We weren't able to get it at work, but the Lexington Fayette Health Department has been running clinics to help those who work in smaller facilities such as us, or doctor's offices, etc., get it. So I went and got the first dose on December 30th of the Moderna vaccine over lunch (we found out about it just in time to sign up, the day before, and my boss let me take a longer lunch than normal and I had to miss my one regular meeting a week, but I got the other person to back me up, so it all worked out). I had almost no side effects--the shot itself barely hurt, I had the slightest of headaches that afternoon (but rain was coming in the next day, so it could be sinus-related), and then the next day the site itched for all of five minutes. I tracked everything through the CDC's V-safe program, where they text you for a week after the vaccination, then weekly, with a short questionnaire to track side effects. Then I got the notification to come back this past Wednesday, January 27th, and did the whole thing over again.

This time I got it in my left arm, which may have been an issue. Like the flu shot, which can make your arm sore, I'd suggest getting it in your dominant arm because you use the muscles more and it would work out the soreness easier. I got it in my right arm last time. Anyway, I did have more symptoms afterwards, and they warn you that it's more common with the second shot, as your immune system is ramping up. I had a little headache that afternoon, my arm got very sore, I had muscle aches, both meaning I had trouble sleeping that night, and there was redness and a bit of swelling at the site, and it itched--a lot. I put that all in the program, too. :) Anyway, the soreness is gone. A few people who went on Wednesday actually had to call in to work as they had a fever, etc. But it was so worth it. Considering the symptoms of COVID and my underlying conditions, it was a walk in the park. Now if we can just get my roommate, who is in 1c, vaccinated, I'll feel a lot better. I've signed him up through the University of Kentucky site, but they're not vaccinating that group yet. But they're supposed to contact him when it's time.

Considering I took this on a smart phone camera

without a tripod, I'm terribly impressed. It is a picture of the full moon setting the other day as I was walking to work. You can even see the maria:



(Taken with a Samsung S20 5G).

Well

I obviously am not doing the best on my New Year's resolutions (I've read this month but I haven't finished a book, and it's the last day of the month), but I did manage to hit my step goal (finally), and upped my goal to 5,500 last Sunday. I didn't make the new goal this week, but I'm still considering it a success. It will happen eventually.



Saturday, January 16, 2021

Success!

Here are some pictures of the bread that came out of the new-to-me machine.  I think we're going to get along. 

Well, drat

I got a new watch over the holidays and while my step count goals aren't particularly high, it's been keeping better track of my steps than my old knock-off activity band did, so I'm doing better with them. During the week I try to get at least 5,000 steps a day because I work a desk job.  Of course, during the workweek that's easier as I park over at UK and have to walk to and from the bus stops.  The weekends I'm lucky to crack maybe 1,000 or 1,500 steps.  So I was kind of excited that I have met the 5,000 every single day this week, even Sunday (when I don't normally go out of the house and just do housework or game) and Thursday and Friday (when I won the parking lottery at work and then the next day had reserved it for parking). As you can see from the photo, I've met my goal Sunday-Friday.  I was really hoping to get all seven days of the week, but short of pacing the house for the next hour, considering it's 8 pm and snowing outside, I don't think I'll make it.  I meant to take a walk but took a nap instead, and a little longer than I meant, and then the sun went down.  But there's always next week.  Anyway, it was an honest attempt. I don't think I've ever managed to do that before. I've done 10,000 in a day (over several days in Chicago, as I walked all over both airports, the Field Museum, and most of downtown) and 15,000 in one day (my birthday a few years ago, when my car was in the shop and I walked all over the Eastland area).  But never have I  consistently been able to reach 5,000 steps per day for every day of the week. So it's a goal.  And if I can do that, I'll increase my goal by about 500 steps a day a week or so at a time.  I do often get between 6,000-8,000, so one can hope.  And I am getting up more as the watch encourages me to stand and walk. I also downloaded an app that reminds you to wash your hands and times your handwashing as well.  So far today I have washed my hands 12 times so far, not counting doing dishes.  :) 

Happiness after mourning a small appliance

[Last night's Facebook post:)] 
Panifex mortus est. 'The bread maker is dead'. :( So after years of baking really great bread, including the weekly Sabbath challah, my bread machine has died. and my attempt to make bread last night resulted in a watery, terrible mess that had me just wrap the pan in a bag and carry it outside to the bin.  Sadly, they not only don't make that model anymore, Panasonic no longer makes affordable bread machines (all I saw were a couple in the $450-$650 range, and they didn't have the yeast hopper I liked so much about this one.  You can get all sorts of fancy machines these days, and I was looking at various features more in the $80-$130 range, and I think I've found a nice Hamilton Beach one (the name I was trying to think of earlier today while explaining it to a friend, and I kept coming up with Black & Decker (which does make appliances, but not what I was trying for) and Smith & Wesson (which is right out for bread-making)). But it'll be a couple of weeks till I can get it and so for tonight and the next little bit, we've had to have matzoh crackers instead.  Known as 'the bread of affliction' (really), matzoh sucks all of the taste and moisture out of your mouth, and one form is commonly used at Pesach (Passover) as it is unleavened according to the commandment.   But it can be substituted and blessed for Sabbath. But it's just not the same.  Here's hoping the new machine, when it is ordered and arrives, will do just as well as this one, which has lasted a minimum of ten years.

[Today's Facebook post:] 
Thanks to a kind friend who gave me a bread machine she'd used a few times, I am up and running again with bread making.  She even found the manual, which includes a conversion between the active dry yeast that is used in the recipes of the booklet vs. the rapid rise/instant yeast I am used to and have, recipes, troubleshooting tips, as well as directions, which I have now read from cover to cover. The main difference is since it doesn't have the yeast hopper (which is not unusual--I couldn't find any on Amazon that did, including the same brand I'd had), you put the wet ingredients in first, then dry ones, then yeast, to keep the yeast and liquids as far away from one another as possible until they are mixed and only at that time should the yeast be activated.  The times are a little different.  There isn't a rapid bake for regular loaves like on mine so it takes a little longer to bake a loaf (but not as long as the regular setting on my old one), but the dough setting is cut by an hour in time, which is very useful since I use the dough setting every week for challah.  I'm going to test it this weekend to do a trial run in preparation for the challah-making on Thursday. Thank you, thank you, thank you for letting me have this, and for meeting me today to get it to me.

:) 

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

One reason

That I had trouble last year writing is that my roommate's desktop died and so I've been letting him borrow my laptop. Right now we've got it plugged up to a monitor, mouse, keyboard, etc., so it's for all intents and purposes acting like a desktop, and I just change the configuration if he has a Zoom meeting or something that needs the camera. 

That leaves me operating with just my phone.  I do have a Bluetooth keyboard (it's rather small, but it works). So I'm using it as a mini-computer.  For awhile the Blogger app wasn't working so well, so it was really frustrating to try. 

Anyway, it's doing better now. Forgive any typos along the way, but my plan is to write more.  I didn't manage to do Monday or Tuesday this week, but I still have two more days I can write and meet my goal of three a week. I don't think that's unreasonable. And there's at least two today. :) 

Musings

Went to the dentist yesterday for the first time since this whole thing began and while everything went really great, it was so odd to be unmasked around people that I don't see every day.  They were, of course.  But I mean, except at home, in my cubicle, and a brief period during lunchtime where my lunch bunch and I sit at different tables more than six feet apart, I'm just always masked.  I wonder when things improve and people are vaccinated, and hopefully, this will start to be a memory, how we'll feel gingerly being back to normal if that's even possible.

Sunday, January 03, 2021

I needed this weekend

To recharge my batteries, so to speak. I haven't really done that much, but I've focused on things that would bring some order to my environment. Now i'm waiting for my watch to charge and getting ready for bed, and the older cat is treading on my side and is perched there, purring.

Tomorrow my stimulus payment should hit my account (it's been in pending for days). Almost a third is going to my roommate, since I wasn't ably to pay him fully last month. A fourth is going into savings. The rest I am spending on some items that I just haven't been able to get for awhile, everyday things like CPAP supplies, health and beauty items, a replacement for a Kindle charging cable the kitten chewed up, that sort of thing. I did get one luxury item. T-mobile had a special where a Samsung Active 2 LTE watch was on sale for less than $50 + taxes and activation with a data line. So that comes to $10 a month for the line and $2 a month for the watch with bill credits. I had considered purchasing a Bluetooth version for $179.99 + tax, but it would be completely tied to the phone. The LTE watch version usually runs right under $400, so even if you factor in the line cost for two years, I got it for much less than the retail price of the LTE version, and not much more than the Bluetooth version, without paying for it all up front. It integrates with my phone much better than the knockoff fitness tracker I had, too, and is much more robust in terms of functionality.

Saturday, January 02, 2021

Relaxing day so far

I got up much earlier than I planned for a Saturday morning. I'd gone to bed early, though, so I guess it's to be expected. 

So far, I've taken my medicine, eaten some cereal, helped my friend, who cannot turn the stove on on Sabbath make his coffee, and caffeinated myself a bit. I'm going to go to the pharmacy to pick up some medicine, but otherwise plan on staying in and working on some things around here.

So it's not an exciting day, but a restful one I plan. We'll probably watch some things this evening.  Hope you're having a good year so far. 

Friday, January 01, 2021

Happy New Year!

'Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit!' An old tradition is to say that upon waking on the first of any month for good luck. Another for New Year's (in Scotland and some other Celtic areas) is the practice of 'first footing', where men go around from door to door being invited in to bring in the new year. The men should be dark-haired if at all possible, but must not be red-haired or it will bring in bad luck instead. A woman should not be the first person to cross the threshold, either. I guess a red-haired woman is right out. That's why the men go around first thing after the new year has begun. What are your New Year's traditions? Growing up it was the Rose Parade and taking down the Christmas tree.

What are your New Year's resolutions (if any)? Mine is to read and write more. I don't make time to read anymore, and that's a shame, given that I've been a voracious reader for most of my life. Additionally, I have this blog that has sadly languished of late which is almost 20 years old--I started it in October 2001 and it's been a very good companion all these years). So I'd like to revive it. So my resolutions are to read at least one book a month (yeah, I'm going to start out reasonably and small) and post on my blog at least three times a week.