Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Feeling a little better than last week

I had about a two week period in a funk, maybe longer, where I was depressed, irritable, and somewhat labile. It's unlike me at my norm. My lamotrigine had been upped about a year ago for some lability and more hypomanic issues. I was stable for years on my original dose, but my mood is still subject to my Bipolar II disorder. I spoke with my psychiatrist on Tuesday and he upped my mood stabiliser, lamotrigine, as well as my ADHD medicine, as I've been having trouble focusing lately. That puts me at the highest dose of Strattera, a non-stimulant, non-addictive medicine for ADHD. I'd recently walked off with a sink running at work (which half our sinks are automatic, but still), had a minor fender bender, and lots of little issues that were adding up to a bigger one. I've only taken it for a couple days (the pharmacy had to order it), but I think it's helping. I was able to up the lamotrigine immediately, and I feel a little better and think that it will help. Anyway, that's why I haven't been writing.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Not your typical Friday night

Our plans were put on hold tonight so I listened to music, trying out some new headphones I have, and for whatever reason, I started listening to a lot of older Linkin Park, mainly the albums Metora and Hybrid Theory.  I remembered that Chester Bennington's death had been around this time of the year, and I checked, it was the 20th of July 2017. Hard to believe it's been four years.  It's a shame; he was very talented, and had a beautiful voice (when he was singing, as opposed to the occasional screaming, but you could never say he didn't put emotion into his work).  That's what first appealed to me about them--Mike Shinoda's speaking and Chester Bennington singing, their voices intertwining.  I think it was 'In the End' that I first heard them.  There's a dark aspect to their music, emotional, raw, and full of depression and hurt.  I spent so much of my early life feeling exactly those things--I was clinically depressed from much of my childhood and teens all through my 30s.  I felt trapped in circumstances in my early life, then wound up going from that to an emotionally abusive marriage where I walked on eggshells for a six-year relationship that culminated in my wedding and then finally getting my voice and leaving six months into the fiasco that was.  Then there were years of trying to rebuild my life, or rather build it, because I'd always been a mirror of what people wanted me to be, rather than my own person. And once I stopped doing that, I was much happier.  So you can see why their music appeals.  (It's also why I like Simon & Garfunkel and Ed Sheeran, who often sing songs that are beautiful and light musically, but really quite depressive if you look at the lyrics.  Simon & Garfunkel have suicide through several songs, and Ed Sheeran sings about drugs, prostitution, miscarriages, and all sorts of 'negative' things, but in a way that makes him sound happy.)  Somehow I get all those.  Linkin Park is a rawer kind of music, where the music itself expresses the pain, not just the lyrics.

I don't know why, even though I'm not in that place any more, I still feel comfort in this sort of music.  Most people feel depressed listening to that sort of music.  I feel more alive.  It reminds me of the demons I've conquered.  There are plenty I'm still working on, as it's a daily struggle with my brain to keep on an even keel.  Thankfully I have a good support system, a friend of over 30 years (the same one who helped me get out of that awful marriage) who still asks me hard questions I can't dodge that cuts down on lies I might tell myself, and then I can't tell you how different my life is with the right medicine.  My brain chemistry hates me, and while I sometimes wish that wasn't so, I know I need help, and there's no shame in that.  My roommate is very astute at sensing changes in my mood, and helping with my anxiety, which without medication would be crippling.

I know that's a fairly heavy post.  Sorry about that, I didn't mean to go all dark on you.  It's one reason I try to keep things upbeat here, because of that tendency. I'm feeling actually pretty decent tonight. It was a good week, I got a lot done, I feel good about myself.  But it did make me reflect on how far I've come.  If you told me at age 20 that I'd have connexions to so many people who make my life better, I'd think you were crazy. I was so alone for so long.  Thanks for being there.  You know who you all are.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Taking a bit of a break

I'm the last one at my office. It's been a very productive day, but I'm starting to run out of steam, so I was hoping giving my attention to something other than sheets of paper with codes and encounter numbers would help before going back to it.  I've requested a lot of clinical notes and I'm hoping I'll get those and can put in some more requests.  If not, I've got some paperwork to do involving putting information into two different spreadsheets.

On Monday I have an ophthalmologist visit and field of vision test in the morning, so I have parking at the hospital. Yay!  Parking days bring joy kind of like jeans day (every Friday is jeans day at work, along with certain other days throughout the year).  And then on Tuesday I have two virtual appointments shortly after work, so I'll clock out and stick around for a telehealth visit with my psychiatrist and a phone call from my health insurance care manager, which should be right after one another.  There are lots of appointments this month, and I rescheduled three just to keep it from being more than I could count on one hand.  But not all are during working hours, and I've been pretty lucky to get ones that are early or late.  I was afraid I'd be going back to a doctor with my foot yesterday.  I stretched to get something from atop the refrigerator, and being short, I overstretched, and my Achilles tendong went pop! pop! pop! It's a little sore today, but not bad, so I'm hoping I didn't do anything to it.  The older I get, I really should keep an orthopaedist on speed dial.

Okay, that was a quick 15 minutes.  Now for the final push through the work of the day.

Success!!!


(Well, I did burn my ring finger slightly because I dropped a potholder, but still....) Aren't they lovely? Now, off to bed (and yes, I turned the oven off). 

Tonight

my roommate cooked a lovely meal, we had a good time watching 'Murdoch Mysteries' during dinner (it was the one with William Shatner of all people as Mark Twain), and I've finally gotten all the dishes either washed or a load running in the dishwasher, the linens are put in the laundry, and I've got the bread in the oven. Last week's bread dough was like cake batter when it came out, and I had to put a LOT of flour in it to make it work.  This time, since it's been raining this evening, I put about 2 oz. less water in it than the normal cup.  The dough came out much better, a bit stiff, but it rolled well into the coils and it rose reasonably well.  We'll see how it comes out. I've got another 13-15 minutes left.  I really, really want to go on to bed, an I just have to go that little bit of time before putting the bread in the upper oven to cool and turning off the lower one.  Just 15 minutes.  It seems like an eternity.  So here I am, whiling the time away on the Internet.

It was a good day. I got a lot done, including some things that were on the back burner but needed to be done.

I found a raw amethyst pendant at UK on my way home, set in a silver setting.  There wasn't anyone around and it was outside, so there was no lost and found to turn it in to.  It wasn't anything expensive, just maybe sentimental.  It feels like a jangly mess whenever I hold it in my hand, so if I keep it, I definitely need to cleanse it or something.  But it is nice.  I've had things I've found and lost again like this; I think sometimes things just go through a variety of hands over their existence.

Three more minutes. Actually, I'm going to check now, as the loaves are poufier but shorter than usual.  But if I don't blog any more tonight, have a wonderful evening.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Stupidity in action

My roommate just told me he'd seen people online who contended that 'The Lord of the Rings' was racist in respect to orcs, the slathering, kill-you-dead creatures who, oh, yeah, are completely fictional.  Because there's not enough real racism to fight against, right, we have to worry about racism against imaginary people. [Sarcasm sign firmly displayed, just in case you didn't get that.]

Sigh.  Our world is becoming stupid.

We should do everything we can to fight racism in the real world. The fact that these people have lost sight of the arch of the holdoeck really saddens me.  I mean, who has time to worry about stuff like that when real people are dying?

Makes me angry.

Home

I came home today, fed the animals, and promptly took a 'nap' for about an hour and a half. Everyone else was napping, so it seemed like the thing to do.  I feel better.  Today I worked very hard and while of course what I do isn't physical at all, mental work can be tiring, too.  I got an awfully lot done today; I finished up everything for this week except for one new visit I have for tomorrow where I have to wait to see if they come and get the notes when dictated, sending a form in the meantime if they're not so they know we tried to get the authorization in time. A lot of insurance won't allow for a retroactive authorization.  So tomorrow I'll do that but also work into next week and do some other things that have been on the back burner.  So much of what I do is a blend of tracking packets of paper and submitting them via fax or online, but there's a lot of follow up as well.  So tomorrow I'd like to work on some of the follow up if there aren't too many add-ons surgery-wise or office visits, for that matter.

Life at home has been pretty quiet.  One of our good friends passed away last month and that was sad, although he was so riddled with cancer it was a blessing at the same time.  But he'd lived almost four years with a stage IV diagnosis.  He had colon and prostate cancer both.  We had his memorial Sunday, and it was the largest gathering we'd been around since the pandemic started.  He was a long-time teacher and speech coach, and he touched a lot of lives.  It was good to see people come out to remember him.

Taking a quick break

from work to test out my hotspot on my phone for creating an Internet connexion for my Kindle Fire.  I take it to work because the battery lasts for a very long time, even when playing music, and I play music offline while I'm doing paperwork.  But sometimes I want to blog. Years ago, I signed a paper to the effect that I would not blog using the company's  equipment or networks.  The main network can't reach things like Blogger anyway, as they are blocked along with social media sites, unless you get a special dispensation.  There is a public network for patients, families, and visitors, but again, I promised not to use it for blogging.

With my last phone, the hotspot never worked, but this is working fine.  Yay! It means I am more likely to write, as my Fire has a connected keyboard that works very well and has a 10.1" screen, so it's much easier than using my phone.  My roommate uses my laptop, which is connected to all sorts of things like TV and keyboard for use like a desktop.  So I have to rely on other devices.

Anyway, hi, and it is now time to have a quick bite before returning to my tasks.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

My day started rather rough

 My neck has been hurting quite a bit, and it's making pain and parasthesia going down through my arms, which has been quite annoying. So last night I took my dose of muscle relaxants I keep just for such an occasion. Tizanidine is really mild, and they're only 4 mg pills, but I take three at a time as directed.  Usually when I take them, the next morning I wake up early and refreshed, ready to go.  Not this morning.  I was sluggish, kept falling asleep and hitting snooze. I start my alarms (there are several) at 6 am so I can get up by 7 am at the latest.  It takes 15 minutes for me to shower and 15 minutes to get ready, then a 10 minute drive and 20 minutes between walking to the bus stop, taking the shuttle, and walking from the bus stop at the University of Kentucky emergency department.  So I realised that I was, indeed, going to be late when I finally crawled out of bed just before 7:30 am.

I took a shower, got dressed, grabbed my lunch, got in the car, took my COVID screening on my phone, and texted my supervisor and my manager.  Then I drove carefully to UK's Orange Lot. Right as I was getting ready to go through the second roundabout, I thought about combing my hair (I drive with both windows down), and I realised that I didn't have my comb, or my crossbody purse, just my backpack (and yes, there's a brush in the backpack, but that's beside the point.)  So I told me, that's fine, just don't get pulled over or get into an accident, as you don't have your licence with you.  I'm pretty poor right now, as it's right before payday, so I wasn't planning on spending money at least, and I did bring my lunch.  All good, right?  I had my phone and my receiver for my continuous glucose monitor.

So I parked and was getting my jacket on (it was raining a bit) and then it hit me. My badge was in my purse.

Yesterday I'd put my badge holder on a new lanyard one of my co-workers brought back from the beach. Because, unlike the one I usually use, it has a reel and snap joint for clipping in onto the lanyard, I'd decided to keep it in my purse rather than put in on for the trip, because I didn't want to take a chance of losing it at UK. It's $15 to replace the suckers.  The reason for that is they double as a proximity card, so in addition to clocking in and out, they get us through various locked doors (and my office happens to be one you have to badge into) AND you can't get into the computer and get to all your files unless you have yours.  And of course, then I left the whole purse, which is only big enough for my wallet, keys, lip balm, hand sanitiser, and glucose tabs, really.  I'd left it on a stool near my bed at home.  But if I'd gone to work, I wouldn't have actually been able to work, and I'd have to fork over money I didn't have to get a new one.

I called my boss and basically asked, since I was already going to be late (although it would have been maybe by five, ten minutes tops) if I could go back home and get my badge, and she said that was fine. So I got back in the car, went home (obeying all traffic laws) got my purse, made sure my badge was in it, drove back (which was interesting, as a jogger crossed against our green turn light and some yahoo in a truck in the oncoming lane decided he was supposed to go, too, so he ran a red light, nearly hitting the car in front of me, who had yielded to the jogger, who looked to be in his 60s and was certainly old enough to know how to cross a street and obviously just didn't care).

I got to work 45 minutes late, but got started on my work, and actually got a bit ahead today, so it was a pretty decent day all told.  But it was a little sketchy there for a bit.

Tomorrow I need to really be on my game because I have a meeting at 11 am and I have to prepare a couple of spreadsheets.  The other person who reads the material won't be there tomorrow, so I'll read both weeks of summaries.  I've gotten very good at pronouncing the word 'hemiepiphysiodesis' due to this meeting.  Wednesdays morning are usually me preparing for it, as she does her part the afternoon before.  After the meeting, I plan to get as far as I can on authorisations (I have a couple to do for this week, and then it's on to next week). I'd like to get a minimum of two to three weeks out this week, and preferably a month out, and then fill in the new visits or added ones.  I also need to work on some denials and do some housekeeping in terms of putting data into other spreadsheets so I can file some paperwork.  That doesn't all have to be done tomorrow afternoon, but it would be great if I could get some of it done this week.  I've been working really steadily and my days are certainly full; there's never really boring downtime some people have in their jobs.  There's always a lot to do.  But since we shuffled our duties between a co-worker and myself so she both schedules and authorises offsite imaging and I authorise surgeries and office visits, my anxiety has gone way down.  Scheduling was a juggling job that kept me constantly worrying about details of whether something would work, and it took a whole lot of time.  I hope she's doing okay.  We back each other up, though, so the other day I did both jobs and it wasn't too bad becuase it was a little quieter on the offsite front, at least, and I only had to schedule the urgent ones.

I guess I should sign off here.  I will try to write more.  I've been listening to Pandora, but I have a book I'm reading (or, as my roommate puts it, a computer file, as it's a Kindle book out of the library) that is fiction (something I've been struggling to read of late), over 300 pages, and I'm over halfway now.  It's called The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick. It's about a widower who finds a charm bracelet of his late wife which turns out to lead him on an adventure learning more about the woman he loved and the life she had before they met.  I'm really enjoying it.  The writing is very pleasant and the story drew me in.  It's taken me a couple of weeks to get this far, as it's hard to make time, but I checked it out again so I have it for another two weeks. Yay! Hopefully I can finish  before it's due.

Oh, I got to do a librarian thing today, finding out some information for a co-worker that involved calling an oral history centre and finding out how to access their materials.  It was fun.  That part of my life seems like it's in the past now, but it's still nice to be able to do things like that occasionally, plus I learned about some resources I didn't know about.

Okay, I really am going to sing off her for now.  Good night.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Today

Was the first time since the pandemic began that I went into a store unmasked. I've been masking at work (I work in healthcare) and everywhere else inside except at home despite being vaccinated in December and January. I have underlying conditions and so does a dear friend, and we've been very careful due to variants. He still has me wipe down anything I bring home to him from the grocery, for example.

Now, at the beginning of June I did go to a family gathering at a restaurant where we didn't wear masks, but we were eating.  But yesterday we went to a friend's memorial service, and while we did bring masks, we didn't wear them. Almost no one was, actually.  About half of Kentuckians have been vaccinated, so many of those people have been (certainly the ones I was hanging around with have been).  But some weren't, of course.  But still, we have to take the plunge sometime, I guess.  So today I went to the grocery and didn't bring a mask. I felt a little naked, but closer to 'normal'. Lately, I've felt like peopel will assume I'm an anti-vaxxer because I am wearing a mask, when the guidelines have said vaccinated people can go without one.

I'll still wear one at work, of course, although there are areas of the hospital we don't have to because our vaccination rate is so high, and of course I can go without in my office.  And I wear them on the shuttle bus, as that's still a guideline due to the close quarters, especially as they've returned to full capacity.

Hopefully we won't get sick. But I have faith in the vaccines in terms of preventing us from becoming seriously sick or hospitalised, at least.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Wow...

So, I entirely missed May and part of June in terms of writing. I really don't want to let this blog die, here in it's 20th year.  But life does get in the way sometimes. 

I've struggled a little with the glucose monitor in terms of getting the sensors to stay on.  Three have stayed the entire time. One stayed on about 15 minutes, one a day, one three days.  The company did send me a couple of replacements gratis and that was great. I need to call again.  But overall, it's been good though, to get feed back to make decisions with.   I've ordered some things to help, like sponge-on adhesive and over patches, and those do help. 

My friend who was in hospice had died, sadly passing this week. But he's out of pain, and that's what matters.  For four years or so he has lived with stage IV colon cancer and prostate cancer.  it's been a long, hard road.  But at least he's at peace now. 

I got to see my aunt and uncle recently.  They flew up from San Antonio to Nashville and then drove up to Ohio, where they used to live, stopping in Kentucky along the way and we got to visit, along with some cousins.  It was ver nice.  I'd taken off work to go down there, and I took my roommate with me. It was nice to get out of town for a few hours, even if it did kick up my allergies. I hadn't left Lexington or been to my hometown, which is an hour away, since my mother died four years ago. 

That's a little of what's been going on. 

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.