December 16, 2009

Can you hear me now?

Holy shite, I can't believe I haven't posted since November 4th! The few readers I did have are probably gone to the winds, having stopped following me, deleted any links to this blog, washed this Anne right out of their hair.

I have a good excuse, really I do! Lots of them actually. Some happy, some stressful, you don't want all the gory details.

First, an update on Jim and Nita and the cat: I got a phone call from Nita the first week of December sounding all pitiful about how she was having dreams about her cat. Was it a pleasant conversation? Not really, but it wasn't what I would call ugly. I told her the cat is fine and I'm still searching for a home, but she's pretty content here. Nita surprised me (not) by saying she has no idea when they are going to get back this way to get puss. I told her - as nicely as I possibly could - that I no intention of returning the cat to her. Ever. There's not much more to add, other than they still have not reimbursed me for the vet bill. Again, no surprise.

So now, drama, drama, stress, drama, drama ad nauseum, with some light and happiness thrown in. On Thanksgiving Day and totally blindsiding me, Bo got down on his knee and proposed. We were at my brother's house and the whole family was there. Like I said, I was stunned and happy/scared, sobbing, laughing, probably blabbered like an idiot for the rest of the night, it was great. The only negative thing I can say about it is he pulled this stunt before dinner, so I have no idea what I ate. Knowing what kind of a rockstar cook my sister-in-law is, there is no doubt I had a perfect meal. Just wish I could remember it.

So anyway, we're getting hitched soon. I'll tell you all about it after, it's going to be fun. As fate would have it, we can exchange vows on a date which coincides with the 50th wedding anniversary of my (late) parents. Pretty cool, huh?

Oh, and by popular request, here's a pic of the ring. The setting is actually being replaced, but the jeweler can do the majority of the work without the stone, so I didn't have to surrender it. Soon, this guy is going to call me and I can trot down to his store and watch him put the stone in its new home. I'll post a pic of that one, too (and it won't be taken with my phone).


November 04, 2009

Just when you think you know someone...[A Long Story]

I've been struggling with a recent event that absolutely begs to be a blog topic. Every time I think I've got it outlined and ready to go, something else occurs to me, then I try to add it but it only results in my practically rewriting the whole bloody thing.

I need to share this...but I also kind of want to let it go...but I kind of can't...so, here's the jist:

- My friends of over 20 years, Nita and Jim came to the conclusion they have to walk away from the mortgage payments on their condo and let the bank take it. They told me their plan about three months ago.

- A lovely relative in another state offered them a place in her home. They told me this about two months ago.

- They had a move date of October 24th. They told me this in mid-September.

- I offered to bring over breakfast on the morning of the 24th, to give them fuel for their journey and also to visit with Nita's sons whom I've known since they were young teenagers.

Moving Day
- I arrive at 9:30 in the morning. The 24-foot long truck they rented is about 75% full. Inside the house is a mess, with so much stuff still to be packed and loaded that I can't imagine how they're going to get it done.

- Nita seemed to wander around directionless and Jim was surfing the web. Nita's sons were running around, packing for them. Since I wasn't there to actually work - and they hadn't warned me how much was still left to do - I just walked around unplugging electrical things, tying the cords up all neat and organized, and placing them by the front door. Things were grungy and kinda smelly, which I blamed on sloppy housekeeping and the fact they both smoke.

- 1:00 in the afternoon, one of the sons was disassembling a bird cage [yes, they have two birds] when I realized he was going to lose his grip on a piece of the cage. While he looked at me with a face that said, "Oh, shit!" I looked down at the falling section and saw the thickest crust of old, dried bird shit I've ever seen in my life. I put my hands up and said, "I've got a compromised immune system and I'm not wearing gloves, sorry dude, can't touch it." He said something like, "Oh, no, don't worry," and "I don't want you to touch this." He meant it, he has always been a sweetie. I left shortly thereafter.

- 4:00pm, they are ready to take off but Nita calls to tell me they can't find their cat. I advised her to sit quietly in the place, by herself, and gently call for the kitty. I'm sure kitty was freaked out by the racket all day and was hiding somewhere. Either that or she ran out one of the open doors.

- 4:20pm, Nita calls again. They are on the road. Didn't find the cat. Left me a key under the front door mat, would I go by the place and see if I can find the cat, capture her, bring her to my house and keep her for a couple of weeks. They'll drive back down to get her. I agreed to do so but made it clear her cat needed to be checked out by my vet before she'd be allowed to interact with my animals. Nita agreed.

- 8:30pm, Bo and I go back to see if we see the cat anywhere. I swear to you, we entered an episode of that A&E reality show Hoarders. Garbage all over the place. Stacks and stacks and boxes and boxes of newspapers. The newspaper was what they trained their two dogs to pee and poop on. In the dining room. A bucket of water with a mop left in the kitchen. There had been some kind of an insect infestation in the pantry and by the look of it, this occurred last spring or summer, but neither one of them cleaned the dead bug bodies out. Kids, I can bore you to death with details, but what's the point, right? Suffice to say, Bo and I put on masks and gloves right away.

- 10:45pm, we're back home. Didn't see any sign of the cat, but Bo struck a rummager's treasure in their basement. Tools and home project materials that really only a guy can appreciate. Me, I found animal droppings of some kind [probably rodent] and something that looked like black mold. Honestly, I was down there less than five minutes before feeling faint and queasy and Bo had to help me out the basement door for air. It was at that moment I began referring to the place as a bio-hazard.

The Next Day
Bo was so pumped by all the cool "guy" things in the basement that we didn't have room enough to take out the night before, he wanted to go back. I didn't want to go, but he didn't want anyone to think he was a criminal or something, so I rode along and stayed in the truck. He was probably loading his goodies into the truck for two hours. Through the window, I saw the cat! So I went inside, mask and gloves securely fastened, and made sure she had plenty of food and water. I called Nita and Jim and they were very happy.

The Second Day
We took a night off. I picked up a fresh bag of litter and a clean box.

The Third Day
I stopped by that afternoon. The kitty was sunning herself in the front window but she disappeared before I got out of the car. So, I just replenished her food, gave her fresh water and set up the clean litter box.

The Sixth Day
We were not leaving without the cat. We met up with another friend of Nita and Jim's who I found out was the person who - with the help of his wife and kids - packed and loaded the moving van up to the point where it was when I had first arrived on moving day. Nita was useless and Jim was glued to the computer. Anyway, Bo caught the cat, and he and the other guy divvied up as much as they could, then we came home. I set the cat up in a relatively large crate here, with water and kibble and yet another clean box. We left her alone the rest of the night because the poor thing had been traumatized.

The Seventh Day
I called and spoke to Jim. Told him we got the cat, she was fine and had an appointment with my vet the following day. I also made sure Nita had told him that she had promised to reimburse me for the vet bill. He said absolutely, sounded happy and thanked me.

Less than three hours later, Nita calls me. She says, "Jim wanted me to tell you to just have the cat put to sleep." I said, "Why, is she sick? Or, does Jim just not want to reimburse me the vet bill?" She said, "No, of course we'll pay you, he just doesn't want to inconvenience you guys because we don't know when we're going to be able to get back there." I said, "Well sorry, I am not going to kill your cat. And unless my vet finds a fatal illness when he examines her, he won't either. So, just don't even think about it, I will make sure your cat finds a good home."

The Eighth Day
Some conclusions were reached over my morning coffee. Friends don't do to friends what they did to me. Friends of mine don't abandon their pets. And finally, I have let go of toxic situations, people, even some family members since my diagnosis. Nita and Jim are now toxic. Buh-bye.

Anybody want a cat?

October 19, 2009

Ladies and gentlemen...


...Mr. Leonard Cohen. Performing at the fabulous Fox Theater in Atlanta. Tomorrow night, October 20, 2009. And one of those seats is going to have my butt in it. Absolutely a dream come true for me, kids!

Cleared for takeoff

So, I had my labs redone to see how my WBCs are behaving and if I can restart Fingolimod. Everything is back to where it should be and I can start Fingolimod again on Wednesday, the 21st! Woo-hoo, I have been really missing that little capsule of joy! That means Wednesday is going to be an all day affair at the MS clinic, just like my first first dose was.

October 13, 2009

You boob! [part two]

Okay, this is where it gets funny. It's about a week before my surgery and I get a call from this guy who says he's Dr. S' partner and Dr. S had taken ill, so he is going to do this lumpectomy if it's alright with me, and if I'm not comfortable with that and say no, he would understand. I think I said something to the effect of, "I assume you can cut on anything he can, so I'm fine with you, go ahead." I only asked that he come to pre-op before I'm pumped with meds so I can meet the man who will be cutting on me. He laughingly agreed.

So, day of surgery. My sister-in-law takes me to the hospital where I do all the registration stuff and get a bed in pre-op. A nurse comes in and tells me to go to the radiology department, where another ultrasound is going to be done for the surgeon to use when he goes in. I think they said something about a wire, which will leave a path for the surgeon. Yeah, yeah, OK, whatever, you lost me at "Radiology".

Some of the minutiae here is vague - sorry, it's been a few years - but I'm sure my breast was numbed, the ultrasound machine was moved to the perfect spot the radiologist wanted, and a tech moved in to hold the thing absolutely still so the radiologist could thread a wire through my breast and into the lump. Yikes, right? The description is worse than the actual event was, I promise. What I remember most about this is, I was freezing. Why do they keep hospitals so frigging cold?

So, that's done. A nurse says to me, repeatedly, "DON'T MOVE!" Now come in here, we need to take a couple of pictures." I manage to get up off the table without jarring the EIGHTEEN INCHES of wire hanging out my right breast and shuffle into this other room which contains....you guessed it...a mammography machine. Yes ladies and gentlemen, the breast that just had a wire stuck in it is now going to be flattened like only a mammogram can. While I was standing there, arm up, boob down, I ask the tech, "Does anyone else see the humor in the fact that I am not allowed to bump this wire, but you all are allowed to maneuver it into a mammography machine?!" Apparently, I was in fact the only person who was entertained by the absurdity. Either that, or she was just a cranky bitch who hated her job.

Anyway, she's done with me and can now protect the wire from jostling by....you're not gonna believe this...seriously....you're gonna laugh out loud...taping a Styrofoam coffee cup to the side of my breast with medical tape.

Now, return to pre-op where I regale my sister-in-law with the details of the trip up to radiology. We wait for awhile, so I take my glasses off and close my eyes to nap. After not too long, the curtain to my little area opens, and the. most. beautiful. man. in. the. world. enters and says, "Hello Ms. Pappas, I'm Dr. Knockyoursocksoff, I'll be doing your surgery today. Do you have any questions about anything?" I was abolutely not capable of actual speech, but I'm pretty sure I grunted out a "Nuh-uh" before he said, "OK, let's do this!", turned on his heel and was gone. My sister-in-law and I turned to one another with our mouths hanging open like a couple of fools, right? Then she leans over and whispers in my ear. "I want what you have."

Immediately a nurse comes in holding a piece of paper with two stickers on it - Red means No and Green means Yes - and instructs me to place them on my breasts to prevent the surgeon from cutting the wrong one. Being the smart ass I usually am, and not having learned my lesson with the radiology tech, I said, "EXCUSE ME, but is the Styrofoam cup and wire not enough of a clue?" Yep, she liked that. At least somebody other than me had a sense of humor.

Epilogue to follow, if you care...

You boob! [part one]

So I'm reading a new post from one of my favorite bloggers, Jeri. Yes, it's October - Breast Cancer Awareness month for those of you living under a rock - and I never converse on that topic because I don't feel right about talking about that with which I have no experience. However, having always been one of those good girls who does her monthly self-exams and never misses a mammogram, I do have a boob story. And here it is:

In December of 2000 I had my yearly pelvic, pap and mammo visits (or as I like to call them, "poke, scrape and shmush"). My gyno was palpitating my right breast and seemed to be spending a longer than normal time at it. Just when I was about to ask her if she was kneading a biscuit or something, she says, "You have a lump here." My response was something like, "Well, I've never felt anything and I examine myself every month, where....?" She grabs my left hand and puts it to the ten o'clock area of my breast and holy hell, what is THAT?!?

Okay, so now off to the mammogram. I'm one of those women with lumpy breast tissue so I never get a mammogram without also getting an ultrasound, and this day was no different. Between the 934 pictures the tech took and two (!) ultrasounds - one by the technician and one by the radiologist - I was there for probably three hours. Turns out there was an "area of concern" in my left breast as well as the nasty something in my right. Blah, blah, when it was all over I'd had a needle aspiration of a fluid-filled cyst on the left side and a needle biopsy of a mass on the right.

It's funny, but I was so easily able to separate my breasts from myself during all of this. It was like my breasts had become aliens, and what was happening to them was not happening to me. But I digress.

So the radiology report comes back and my gyno calls me and says the mass in my right breast is not cancer but it is a cluster of atypical cells and if I am willing, she'd like the whole thing removed. I am absolutely cool with that, I found a surgeon, had a consult and we set a date for surgery. I can't remember why now, but there was something going on in my life that made me say, "If this isn't an emergency, I need to wait about six weeks," He was stunned, he'd probably never had a breast surgery patient be as cavalier about it as I guess I was. Anyway, it made sense to me at the time.

To be continued and it will get better I promise...

October 08, 2009

A.D.D. much?

In the past 24 hours, various things - stuff I've witnessed, stuff on TV, stuff that came up in conversations - have occurred that make me think, "Hey, there's a blog topic!" Here's the rub...I forget them within about a half hour. That is damned irritating because a) is it MS making yet another hole in my brain, and b) .....well damn, I've already forgotten what b was.

So right now I'm going to write about my mood and my dogs. And how much my dogs help my mood. I've been reading a lot about MS and depression. Depression is a different thing in different people and I think it can also manifest itself differently in the same person because it is fluid. For example, after the sudden death of my father a few years ago, I got angry. At everything and everyone. I was very aware of what was going on and I took great pains not to take my anger out on friends and family. I internalized it, which made me miserable and I knew needed some counseling. Thank God my employer at the time had good insurance and I was able to hook up with a therapist for a couple of years who really helped me get my head straight. Zoloft helped, too. Things were so good it got to where I was forgetting to take my Zoloft regularly and was still feeling fine, so I just weaned myself off.

Fast forward to the spring of 2008. The Avonex I'd been on since 1998 for MS was starting to majorly disagree with me. The side effects were always there, but I'd found that Celebrex right before the injection had been taking care of the fever and aches. Suddenly, that stopped working, and it was taking two days to recover from the weekly Avonex injection. So, long story that has been well documented here, I enter the Fingolimod study and everything is rosy. Except I find I'm not particularly happy. With anything. I'm not particularly unhappy, but I'm not happy. Great, what the bloody hell am I supposed to do with that??

Speaking of bloody hell, my menstrual life (LOL, menstrual life? WTH is that Anne?) is also changing. I'm still regular calendar-wise, but occasionally an additional bleeding episode appears during the month, my PMS is off the chart and the blood itself is different (yick). My point is, are my moods related to MS or to changing hormones? Since I don't have insurance, gynecologists and psychiatrists are not an option right now. Besides, for hundreds of thousands of years, women have gone through this change of life bullshit without the help of pharmaceuticals. I'm just going to deal. The only thing I can say with confidence is that when I'm short-tempered and weepy, I think it's hormones. The apathy I think is MS. Armed with that belief, I soldier on...

Now, the dogs. Maggie and Little Bo have become my non-prescription mood enhancers. Maggie has this way of sitting down in front of me and gazing intently into my eyes that just melts me. Does she love me as much as her eyes say she does? Sure, probably, but she also knows that look pretty much guarantees a doggy biscuit. She is manipulator extraordinaire, and I don't have a problem giving in to her.

Little Bo is not the manipulator Maggie is. I think he knows we rescued him from a certain death in that stinky kennel and is forever happy and grateful. When he sees me, his tail starts wagging. When he hears my voice, either directed at him or when I'm on the phone, his tail starts wagging. When I get up from this chair after I post this, his tail will start wagging.

It's been said ad nauseum, by bloggers, authors, emails: Probably the purest, truest love anyone can get comes from their dog. Dog spelled backward is god. And if there are no dogs in heaven, I'm not going.


October 04, 2009

Watch this movie

One of the joys of paying the outrageous cable bill every month is that there are seemingly endless movie channels on it. i am a real documentary hound and love it when I run across one on a gray and rainy Sunday morning. Today, was this (sorry, the link wasn't working so you're gonna have to paste it into your browser) :

http://www.littlemanthemovie.com/home.html

Beautiful, beautiful film. Find it. Rent it. Watch it. Feel it.

My stay-cation

So, the boyfriend is still in NJ dealing with the momma-drama, which - as I suspected - is not at DEFCON 3. His sister needs a xanax. Anyway, this trip has totally been worth his time, because his family has been able to spend the most productive time together than they have in years and are getting all the necessary ducks in a row for their 86 year-old mother's future.

I have had the house to myself for FOUR DAYS now and am simply having a blast. No television on for 24 consecutive hours. No blow-some-shit-up shows on the Military channel. No bang-bang-kill-something shows on the Outdoor channel. Me and the critters are just chilling out. The cat and one of the dogs are both sleeping with me on the bed at night, which hasn't happened in months. This weekend has just been filled with quite peace.

As much as I love the guy, I still struggle with co-habitating, and it's been nearly four years! A long time ago, while on the phone with my grandmother trying to find out if there was something wrong with me that marriage was so unappealing she said, "Maybe you're just not the marrying kind." If I was still in my childbearing years, and had a maternal instinct greater than that of a towel rack, marriage and children might interest me. But, just like everything else in my life, I bloomed late. I was 43 when I met this man, the first relationship I'd had to last over three months. By then I'd already been living alone for over 20 years. My singleness is so much a part of who I am and what makes me me, for better or worse.

Yesterday, we were on the phone and he said he wants to buy me a ring soon. I think I screamed a little. I wonder what the world record is for the longest engagement period...

October 01, 2009

New pants (whoop-de-frikking-do)

OK so it's been over two months now since I stopped smoking. Yay me and all that, but the more time goes by, the worse the cravings are. So, what am I doing about it? Well, judging from the fact I can no longer button ANY of my slacks or jeans, I am eating. A lot.

So today I accepted the fact that I need to size-up my wardrobe a bit. Not for going out or to work clothes because god knows I don't go anywhere that requires them, but for just some stretchy things. You know, track pants or yoga pants, that type of thing. So I went to Target and found three pairs of yoga-type pants. Black, blue and gray will keep my bottom half covered indefinitely. Size Large, because the Mediums I'd been wearing have been overstressed and it's time to give them a break. You know what a muffin-top is? Well, I've been at 12" pizza dough-top in my Mediums.

Oh, and my new diet? Coffee, water and Cheerios. If that doesn't get some weight off me, I may just have to hurt somebody.

September 30, 2009

Minutae

On the 19th of this month I co-hosted a baby shower with two other girls for a neighbor. As of now, our only thank-you notes have been in the form of text messages. Not cool.

I'm still not over my disappointment with Jim Parsons not winning an Emmy.

Had a great time checking out as many of the new television shows as possible during premiere week. Glee and Fast Forward have now been added to my DVR schedule.

I'm so grateful the flooding that went on around here last week largely bypassed me.

Saw both Christine Lahti and Delta Burke on television shows recently. I don't know exactly what they've been doing to themselves but feel very sure it involves botox and collagen injections. Ladies...stop...seriously.

The boyfriend had to fly up to NJ today. His mom is in the hospital being evaluated for passing out...or blood pressure issues...or hip pain. The drama queen sister of his can't keep her stories straight. Never met the woman and I already know I don't like her. Hopefully he can come home Friday or Saturday.

Maggie seems to be recovering well from her knee surgery. And here I was so worried about keeping her quiet:

September 19, 2009

Six month Fingolimod visit

Jeez, I can't believe I haven't blogged this yet [brain fart, brain fart]!

September 2nd was the date of my six-month visit to the MS Center to check the status of my lab rat-ness.  I was expecting the usual results because September is oftentimes not a fabulous month for me.  I don't think my MS likes the changing of seasons.  If I'm going to flare though, I'm usually starting to feel wonky in late August and am probably on steroids by the end of September and this year has not been a problem for me at all.

Imagine my surprise - and disappointment - when my research nurse called me two days later and put me on a "drug holiday" because my leukocytes had fallen below where the study parameters require them to be. 

According to this website I found,  White Blood Cell Count Measures the number of white blood cells in a microliter of blood. Normal values range from 4100/ml to 10900/ml but can be altered greatly by factors such as exercise, stress and disease. A low WBC may indicate viral infection or toxic reactions. A high WBC count may indicate infection, leukemia, or tissue damage. An increased risk of infection occurs once the WBC drops below 100/ml. 

I don't know where I have been, other than to say my nurse said I had to be 600 or greater to even enter the study.  Six hundred whats I don't know, but I was at 180 on the 2nd.  I gave up more blood last week and am at 400, still not quite enough to restart the study yet.  I'll be retested in mid-October.  Dammit! 

Well, this confirms for me that I am on real drug.  Fingolimod is known to cause leukopenia in some lab rats.  The hope is it will just suppress some immune function, specifically the part that attacks myelin, not wipe the whole operation out completely!  To repeat...dammit!

September 10, 2009

This area is zoned Stress-free

Yes, I absolutely watched President Obama's speech last night. Yes, I have an opinion. No, I'm not going to talk about it here. There are pa-lenty of other web sites where I can talk about it. Not here, I want this little piece of the world to be a place where humor can thrive and visitors don't even need to have a full contingent of working brain cells.

It's kind of an awesome day today. While it's been overcast pretty much constantly, there has been almost zero humidity and a great breeze. I took Little Bo for a short walk and didn't even come close to overheating (yay).

The other dog - Maggie, a.k.a.Maggiedoodle - had knee surgery today and is spending the night in the doggy hospital.

Six weeks of crate confinement is in our future for her. Whoopee!

September 08, 2009

Long time, no see

Honestly, I have really no damned good reason for not blogging. I think maybe it's because I'm really boring and if even I am not interested in me, why should anyone else be, eh?

Wanna hear something cool, though? I read this absolutely fan-TABULOUS book called, "The Easy Way to Stop Smoking". A neighbor of mine mentioned it last Spring and was raving about it. I figured what the hell, it wasn't expensive, I'll give it a whirl. Believe me, no one was more surprised than me when I snubbed out my last cigarette and haven't looked back. That was on July 22nd.

Here is a link [I hope] to an Ashton Kutcher interview with Jay Leno where he talks about the book. The way he describes it sounds like he's b.s.-ing, but he's not. It's crazy.

Even cooler? Since quitting smoking, my cholesterol has gone from 269 [yes, that's right, two hundred sixty-nine] to 197. While I can maybe give a statin a little credit, quitting smoking really gets the most. Primarily because I am not particularly compliant with the statin because it makes me feel kind of shitty.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the f was going on when I first saw it. [from an email]

August 19, 2009

Little Bo

It just dawned on me I'd never introduced the new dog.

In case you don't remember - or didn't know me at the time - we lost our pal Wags in mid-June. Our other dog, Wags' lifelong companion Maggie, was very much upset by his loss. So, we started looking around for another rescue dog the weekend after Wags died.

On Day Two of our search - Day Three after losing Wags - look who we found:

He resembles Wags to an almost freakish degree. He came from a shelter near Athens, GA and was literally pulled off of Death Row on the very day we lost Wags. His previous owner surrendered him for financial reasons and gave his age as four and his name as "Bo".

Wags also was four and my boyfriend's name is Bo.

So, now we have Big Bo and Little Bo, Maggie is happy and Pete the cat is confused.

My only public comment on healthcare reform.

Dear Medical Insurer,

I have multiple sclerosis.

Why can't I even get insurance to help pay for a mammogram? Pap smear? Eye exam? Mole check?

You suck,

Anne

July 30, 2009

I didn't get the memo!

OK, you know, I really don't think of myself as an old hag, coot, codger, whatever, but I'm certainly old enough to notice an irritating trend. Today the topic is Tardiness.

When I was a kid (in the '60's), we lived in the suburbs of Buffalo and my dad worked at Western Electric. Mom was a nurse and I think she worked nights because I have no recollection of a daycare. After my brother was born (and started sucking up all the attention, the little bastard), my mother's cancer reappeared and I mostly remember her around the house or in the hospital. We had some really interesting sitters then, but I digress.

Anyway, somewhere in there is when I think the whole concept of time really jelled. I mean, sure I learned how to read a clock (analog, thank you) and all that. But was it around then - elementary school, which had a fixed start, lunch and stop time that I got so anal about timeliness? It's not rocket science, really:

1. If you say you'll be there at x:00, then be there.
2. If you're running late, call.

I've been noticing that since this decade began, nobody is on time for anything. Doctor's appointments, business meetings, holiday parties, performances, nothing. (And lets not even go there with the cable company.)

I'm finding that if I continue on the path of timeliness, I spend an enormous amount of time waiting for whomever it is I'm supposed to be seeing. So, I get pissed. Then I start to add five, ten, fifteen minutes on to my own arrival time so I don't have to wait nearly so long. Then one thing pushes back any other thing I might have to do later that day. Then another. Then another. And so on.

This isn't a rant, I just don't get it. How did this start, and why did we as a society allow it to continue? Feel free to talk amongst yourselves...

July 21, 2009

There are two new stars in the sky these days

Two really awesome people left the world these past few days.

Gary was a guy I used to hear about from my friend Nancy several years ago. Nancy was living with her boyfriend Pat at the time and Gary was their neighbor. Gary used to tell Nancy that Pat was not good enough for her and someday she'd figure out that Gary was actually her Mr. Right. It took some time, but she did finally see the light.

Mary Helen was a dear friend and neighbor of my grandparents. My grandmother especially loved her, and seeing as how my own mother - Nana's only child - has died so young, thought of her as her other daughter. After my Nana passed, Mary Helen became a good friend to me...I only hope I was half as good to her.

I love you guys.

July 14, 2009

Moods and stuff

First let me say that I've been in good spirits for the past few days. Ever since I got that rant off my chest last week, nothing has yet to ruin my internal confidence and power. Can't say anything has really changed, it must be my own attitude about things or something.

Anyhoo...just sharing my good mood.

July 11, 2009

Nothing to complain about

Life has really been challenging me this week. But then again, not really. Yeah, that makes a lot of no sense, doesn't it?

See, I've been having to spend a whole lot of time on my finances this week, and it's a bit depressing. A few years ago my grandparents passed away and they left their heirs very comfortable. I mean very. Don't get me wrong, we didn't become millionaires over night or anything, but if we invested right we would have had pretty much worry-free retirements.

Since that time, my MS managed to progress to the point where I no longer have the bandwidth to hold a full-time job, so any ability to add to rather than subtract from my savings has been a challenge. I didn't freak about that initially because, like I said, there really was quite a bit of money. So, I didn't feel the need to severely curtail much spending. I didn't go out and buy a bigger house, an expensive car or take a monster vacation because none of those things is me. I put money into my home: a mack-daddy deck and hardscape in the back yard and furniture were my largest expenditures. Honestly, I'd say a total of $30k.

Meantime, the Wall Street meltdown. Really, MS or not, can anyone understand why and how things like mortgage and credit default swaps were ever thought up or allowed to happen? The only word I can come up with is "greed", plain and simple. And the economists, polticians and pundits who were advising all of us little, ignorant investors were way wrong, weren't they? Well, seeing as how bitching, whining and pinning blame isn't solving the problem, the only thing I can say is they are all bastards and I hope they rot in hell.

My friend Nancy is dealing with her husband's chronic illness which has kept him in the hospital for the past month, where he was on the brink of death a few times.

Blogger Sherry is struggling with the sudden, tragic loss of her daughter; her grief is palpable.

Me? I can still walk, my home is paid off, my nieces and nephews are thriving, my brother and sister are truly my friends, and my boyfriend is still my perfect partner. Of course I have days where I get pissy. But there is absolutely, positively no reason to whine - and if I do, I hope somebody calls me on it, k?

July 07, 2009

Where the heck ya been?

So much chaos and mayhem...ok, I'm lying, it's not that bad. You know, I work extremely hard on my calendar...what needs to be done by when, medical and dental appointments, personal appointments, doggy appointments, etc.

Every day...seriously, every day, I get an unexpected phone call or email that requires me to stop what I'm doing and go deal with it. And you know what? None of these things involve someone bleeding or something on fire. They are - 99% of them anyway - bullshit. See, I'm the lucky duck responsible for my neighborhood's swim/tennis/clubhouse facility and this is the kind of crap I get all frikking day:

"My key card doesn't work!" [Have you paid your dues?]
"A group of teenagers are being rude!" [Did you tell them to cut it out?]
"Somebody jumped the fence a couple days ago!" [A couple days ago? And you'd like me to do what?]

Well, you know what? No more. Neighborhood emails and phone calls will get a reply within 12-24 hours. And do not just show up at my door without first letting me know you're coming. If something is burning or someone is bleeding or something illegal is going on, your first call should be to 911. NOT TO ME.

Stepping down off my soap box now, thank you for listening.

June 18, 2009

Since my last transmission...

...some news. I'm drag-ass tired, so here are the headlines. More details will follow.

1. We're fostering a rescue dog. He's great and Maggie gets along with him so he'll be officially ours next week.

2. I passed the three-month mark in the Fingolimod study. I don't have to go back to the MS Center until September!

3. Wags' ashes were returned yesterday. Why I cremate and keep the ashes of each of my pets is a post of its own.

4. Had an interesting pedicure. That's also its own post.

OK, now I have four posts worth of stuff to write. No excuses, eh?

June 12, 2009

User error!

My previous post is SUPPOSED to have a lot of cute pictures of Wags...unfortunately they're not moving over properly in Windows. Damn! Mark this as another win for Mac over PC.

My Wags



Yeterday, June 11, 2009, my first and best dog lost his six-month battle with Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia. He fought like a trooper, tolerating massive combinations of drug therapies and weekly blood tests by the vet. He never balked or whined...even at the end, when he was struggling to breathe and unable to stand up long enough to take a decent poop. This is my tribute.

Wags and his sister Maggie were found the North Georgia mountains by some people who decided to pick them up and give them to a friend of theirs who was lonely and decided she needed a pup. I met them the first time when they were probably three months old.
From Blogger Pictures

As they grew up - as puppies do - the recipient decided that maybe a puppy was not such a good idea. When I heard she'd surrendered them to the Humane Society, I jumped in the car and brought them home with me. Lucky for me they had been house- and crate-trained! They loved going for rides in the car, walks in the woods, and making new friends at the dog park.
A Day With Da Pups

Wags turned out to be the doofiest dog I've ever seen. He was very smart, but never a show-off. Poor guy never would be confused with the sharpest knife in the drawer, believe me. But he was the most easygoing, mellow dog I've ever known. Never did he bark at a little kid; rather, he would stand still and allow them to tug on his ears, grab his nose, step on his paws, whatever.
 
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Back in January, Wags suddenly stopped eating. An urgent trip to the vet and lots of bloodwork diagnosed this awful autoimmune disease. Like my own autoimmune disease, a cause can't be determined. Unlike mine though, his is most always fatal within a year of a diagnosis. We tried to get his anemia into remission and, looking back on it I think we were successful for three weeks in late February - early March.

Over the course of the past two weeks, Wags was finally displaying some different moods and behaviors. Things that usually excited him became much fewer. He stopped chasing squirrels at a full-out gallop; his bark got weak; his ears didn't perk up at the mention of "dinner"; he got tired of climbing up into the car and could not jump up onto the bed when invited.

Bo and I were able to spend Wednesday night holding him, stroking him, kissing him and repeatedly telling him what a good dog he'd been and how much we loved him. Yesterday morning he told us - in his way - that he understood what was happening and was okay. So we took him on his last trip to the vet, where the final barbiturate rendered him unconscious and allowed him to peacefully go to sleep.

The house is emptier. I miss his snore and his relentless quest for treats. And his soft ears. And his big belly, which was the greatest pillow ever. And the way he would not walk past Pete the cat unless I escorted him (Pete has a fast and hard left hook).

Goodbye, my first love. I'll be seein' ya.

June 05, 2009

Unbelievable

Recently I wrote about a check written to me that bounced and some bills I paid with those funds were then returned. Today I received a phone call from a representative of the "executive office" at Capital One. They had found my blog (?) seen that post (!), looked at my account and saw that returned payments were not the norm in my record, and credited back the returned fees.

They traced me from my blog to my account, which kind of freaks me out. But even while I freak, I'm just enough of a geek to say, "Wow...cool...THAT sounds like a fun job!"

June 04, 2009

Feeling a little silly

Seriously, I should have known that my family/friends/readers - most of whom can manage to put out a readable blog of their own - would know what the title of mine meant...so I've removed the lame-ass title change I spewed out the other day.

June 02, 2009

Hot

Simply amazing. Everything is fine as long as I stay in my air conditioned house, right? Then I have to go outside, even for something as minor as walking down the driveway to check the mail, which usually arrives between 2:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon. By the time I get there, both hands are tingling and I'm wobbling. It's like instant. An hour ago the temperature was 64. Now it is 72. By lunchtime it will be mid-80's, by late afternoon will be about 90. God I hate the Deep South in the summer...and it has just begun.

May 31, 2009

Make up your mind, Anne!

No, I do not have the "United States of Tara" disease. If anybody were to become so enamored of my wit and charm to read all the way back to my first post they'd know that my name is not really Grace, and where the title of my blog originated. Having spent countless hours in the blogsphere myself I realize, who the hell has the time for that?? Hence, a title change...or a title addendum as it were. We'll see how it goes...

Time for the weekly wrap-up

Huh. This week seemed to move pretty fast. Was it the Memorial Day holiday? I don't know really...I mean, I don't have a job so all my days are kind of like a day off. Sounds better than it actually is, trust me.

A girlfriend of mine called, she and hubby (hers, not mine!) had to attend a family funeral in WV and I volunteered to keep her pup. The pup is a pocket beagle (12") named Lottie who - although she's just a tad spoiled - is a sweetie pie.

While I loved having her here and would do it again in a heartbeat, three dogs are just exhausting...especially when bladders are not in sync...dogs go out...dogs come in...non-stop...7:00am til midnight.

I received my first blog award from Webster. I think he was sick of Julie and I whining about not getting any awards. I guess the squeaky wheel does get the grease. Thanks, Webster!!

I can't say I'm disappointed that Susan Boyle did not win Britain's Got Talent. She's been pestered to death by stupid paparazzi and media commentators for like two months now, and she really kept her shit together better than most could. I've been watching online since the beginning, and I truly didn't care if she won or not, but if she didn't, I was rooting for Diversity. These guys choreographed a different performance at each stage of the competition and each one was clever, athletic and full of humor. Look at their final performance...they start out as a frikking Transformer for cripe's sake! Watch closely at how often they work together so that three of them become one. Really, really phenomenal. Besides, like American Idol, just think of all the #2's and 3's who have had significantly larger success in the long-term than did the winner. Susan is going to have a huge career for years. Speaking of #3's, I was hoping it would be these two.

I've got my crave on for an Einstein's bagel...talk to you guys later...

May 28, 2009

Really...a fundraiser??

So in the mail yesterday I got an invitation for an "old fashioned carnival" thing next weekend. Carnival games, a petting zoo, clowns, bring the whole family, etc.

This event is to raise money for the MS Center of Atlanta which is where I happen to go for care now that I'm in this drug study. I have never been under the care of a group of docs who actually hold fundraisers. But I guess a lot of "MS Centers" are 501(c)'s, so contributions are tax exempt...and so officers can receive HUGE salaries. Whatever.

But, I digress...so ok, I assume every patient gets one of these invites. Now look, MS Center of Atlanta, here's the thing: not trying to speak for everyone who has MS, but carnival games?? Every day of my life is an effing carnival game. I mean seriously, you ought to see me getting in and out of the shower...oh...ummm...well, maybe you shouldn't. Petting zoo? Right...a goat nudging me could put my ass on the ground. Clown? Really...I want to be made dizzy by a perky person in a multi-colored, multi-patterned outfit with a multi-colored afro wig in my face. Nightmare, truly. And don't even get me started on the squealing kids I'm quite sure will be attending.

Thanks for the invite, I think I'll pass...

May 24, 2009

Happy happy birthday, baby

On May 24, 1993 my nephew was born. This was a really, really big deal because not only was he the first grandchild, but he was The One to continue the family name, blah, blah, blah.

His parents lived in another state then, so when he was about six weeks old I drove up to meet him for the first time. He was heart-stoppingly beautiful and I felt a depth of love in my heart unlike anything I had experienced before. For the first time in my life I'd met another human being for whom I'd give my life.

By the time he was about two, my brother had gotten transferred back to Atlanta, so I've been able to watch that little kid grow into an amazing young man. He's handsome, funny, smart, tall (thanks to the height gene from his mom's end of the pool, thank god), witty, compassionate, level-headed and will absolutely succeed in any path he chooses.

So...Christian Steven Pappas...Happy Birthday my handsome boy! I'm thrilled to know you, love you to pieces and will be here for you anytime. Anywhere. For all of my life.

May 21, 2009

Who IS this guy?!?

For years, one of my favorite TV shows is always the original Law & Order. I like all of the L&O's but I'm constantly amazed at how good the writing and acting consistently is on a show that feels like has been around for seven and a half million years or so.

Anyway, last night's episode was called Skate or Die and the main guest star was a guy named Brian Gant. He totally blew me away with what felt to me like a very brave performance. When he was on the screen, I was mezmerized. I am SO keeping this ep on the DVR.

May 20, 2009

Oh my god, I needed a laugh!!

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You're fired!

So today I spoke with two brokerage firms about moving my existing investment account - currently at Merrill Lynch, whose check it was that bounced on me - over to them. Three solid hours on the phone, I kid you not. But I am determined not to let a company which can't even manage an effing checking account, manage my financial future.

Then the rest of the day was spent on Homeowner Association tasks. Thank God I am merely a committee member and not on the actual Board of Directors. Blech.

Oh, and in the mail was a letter from the State of Georgia that I've made a mistake on my 2005 income tax return and I have to file an amended return and I owe them like $1500 .

My brain is frozen in cramp mode, I swear.

Tomorrow, Wags has his weekly appointment at the vet, then I have a Physical Therapy appointment, then I have an evening meeting in the neighborhood. I'm tired already just thinking about it.

Wish me luck. Man, am I looking forward to this week ending.

May 19, 2009

Two month visit

Oh yeah, forgot to mention...today was my visit to the MS Center for my two-month check-up for the Fingolimod study. It was a quick and easy one, just had two tubes of blood taken and left them with a really pitiful excuse for a urine sample.

Now I get to start stressing about the three-month visit in June...

Stress is not good for MS, people!

Oh jeez. I made a deposit in early May, which was exactly the amount necessary to pay some bills.

It bounced. Therefore, so did my payments to American Express, Capital One, the veterinarian and the physical therapist.

Has the initial deposit been resolved and made good? Yes. Now I'm doing "I'm sorry" letters and telephone calls to people and businesses who - up until now - I've had a good relationship with. In this day and age, one really doesn't want to piss off a credit card company.

May 17, 2009

Ms. Smurf gets a new ride

OK so, here are more tidbits from the week:

The blue fingers have not happened since I posted about them. And now that I think about it...food doesn't seem to be bothering me quite so much these days either. To be honest, I haven't had the balls to eat a banana yet, but so far everything seems to be going down ok. I guess these are good things, eh?

Thursday was a full day. First, Wags had his weekly visit to the vet. More bad news...his hemoglobin dropped yet again. He acts fine, he looks good and doesn't show any noticeable signs that he's (really) heading rapidly toward death. The new plan is iron supplements...

After that, I took my car to the local Ford dealership because the driver's side seat hadn't been acting right. [Kind of a strange thing to do immediately after a bad-news vet visit, but I had to not sit at home staring at my dog.] I've been trying to compensate for this seat issue since sometime in April, but it's been getting to where I have to slide down so far in the seat to hold the brake pedal down, it was really getting just super-irritating. When I'm at a red light, I don't need to be drifting into the intersection because I can't get enough pressure on the brake pedal, doncha think?

Anyway, the service manager messed with it and proclaimed there was nothing wrong with it; I was like,"Yeah, right, well my legs haven't gotten two inches shorter in the past month and I'm telling you the frikking seat will not move me close enough to the frikking pedals and this car is no longer safe for me to drive, so I suggest you get another opinion." Of course, the second opinion was a service technician whose time goes for $55 an hour. Some things never change...

Anyway, since I had to kill an hour, I went looking around the lot to see if there was anything I might like to test drive. Yeah well, you know how this is gonna end, don't you? They had pretty much exactly the car I've been eyeing for the past four years. A Ford Escape Hybrid. Four doors, butt warmers, room for the dogs and well-reviewed hybrid technology. Honestly, the only thing I wasn't fond of was the color (Ford calls it Black Pearl, I say it's more graphite-looking); while not gross or anything, it just wasn't what I would have picked out if I was going to customize my own, y'know?

But, he's an '08, Ford certified pre-owned, nice warranty, fun to drive, I feel safe and the more I look at him, the cuter he gets. Anybody want some company? I feel like going for a drive...

Busy week...kinda

OK, apparently I WAS in a "don't care" mood last Monday, because I completely neglected my blog, didn't I? Sorry.

I'm not going to write a long and wordy recap of the week, rather just little dribbles. Here's the first one, which isn't much but I'm still happy to share it.

I went grocery shopping. By myself. Didn't use my cane NOR one of the scooters provided by Publix.

Seriously, this is exciting!

May 11, 2009

Blah, blah, whatever

Recently I find myself with an ever-growing list of things to do, but not also finding the interest to actually do them. It amazes me how much time I can piss away just making sure I don't lose the goddamn list.

I'm not depressed - been there, done that, this ain't it. I just kind of don't care about anything that remotely resembles a responsibility enough to actually do anything about it.

Lucky for me the utilities are auto-billed to a credit card, which is then auto-paid.

May 08, 2009

Happy happy joy joy


These are the sweet faces I wake up with each and every day. Really, how can I claim to ever have a bad day, eh?

May 03, 2009

Whirlwind weekend

A couple of weeks ago I met a gal (on Craigs List!) who was looking for someone to share a ride from Alpharetta, GA (my fair city) to Richmond, VA (my favorite city) for a quick weekend trip. She had some real estate business to take care of, and I have a very close friend who I don't get to see a lot of, so a deal was struck.

Yesterday morning we met up at 6:00am and started driving. Mapquest says this is something like a 550 mile drive, which should take something over 9 hours. When I drive myself, it takes me probably 10 hours because I like to not be in a hurry and take lots of breaks. Even with trying to make it as easy on myself as possible, it's just not something I can do solo anymore (thanks, MS).

The drive itself was uneventful. She - I'll call her L - did most of the driving, giving me the wheel for about an hour in NC. Girlfriend drives like a bat out of you know where, and we arrived at almost exactly the 8-hour mark!

Anyhoo, we met up with my friend of 30+ years, Cathy, who toted me over to her beautiful home in Montpelier, 15 minutes north of Richmond Proper (check out the new barn and stables in her front yard),

where I was greeted by her horses, Man, Diamond and Radar (the only one who tolerated my camera).


Of course it started pouring down rain, so I couldn't get pics of the pasture and the house, dammit. Well, we chilled out, gabbed, messed with the cats, Peej, Mao, Leo and Louis for a couple of hours, then showered and headed out to dinner at my favorite Richmond eatery, The White Dog. Check out that menu!! Tip: Tell all the restaurant staff you drove eight hours to eat there, they might give you free dessert.

OK, back home at 11-ish, a little more yapping, in the bed at midnight. Slept like a dead person and up, bright and bushy-tailed at 7:30. Breakfast, coffee and more yapping, met back up with L at 10:50 and on the road home at 11. We drove to Charlotte with no stops, then I got about a 45-minute break when L deposited me at a Jack in the Box while she ran a personal errand. Back in the car, one stop to refuel and we arrived back home at about 7:30 this evening. Honestly, if it hadn't started monsoon-like raining as we got closer to home, we would have gotten home about a half-hour sooner.

Now it's 10:00pm and, somebody stick a fork in me, I'm done. What fun, what fun, what fun!!

May 01, 2009

Breaking News!

I'm sitting here filling out some paperwork, right? Then I started thinking to myself, "You're hungry. You have to go make that deposit. Don't forget your Fingolimod."

Then it dawned on me. The usual tremor in my right hand hasn't been an issue this morning. What do I do every morning that I haven't done today?

:drumroll:

Don't have my daily Fingo in me yet! Hmmmmm

Stay tuned...

April 30, 2009

The Smurf and the Fingolimod Diet

Yeah yeah, I'm in a double-blind study and only a closely guarded database somewhere can say if I'm on real drug or placebo.

I've read every blog I could find written by a fellow lab rat. And I'm a member of the super-exclusive "Fingohead" club. But to date, I have not seen this...

Sometimes - haven't figured out the exact circumstances - 15 minutes after taking my pill, one hand turns blue. More often than not, the right one. It starts at the tips of my fingers. Sometimes it travels all the way down into my palm, but most of the time not. And my thumb is never involved. My fingers don't get cold or numb or tingly. They just turn blue. And let me make it clear: when I say "blue", I mean "Smurf".

This lasts for never more than 5-10 minutes. I've been trying to get a picture of it but haven't been successful yet. By the time I see it happening, track down my camera and get my hands to stop trembling (another MS feature), the blue has faded to the point of, "No, seriously! Look again! It's a little blue!"

Anyway, I've told everybody who needs to be told, but their responses are along the lines of, "Huh. Wow, never heard of that before." [And medical school tuitions cost how much?]

I've decided this medicine I don't know I'm actually on needs to be marketed with the tag line, "Slow down your MS and slim down your body at the same time!" Now, I'm not a large girl, just kind of average. 5'5", 138, Misses size 4-6, ok? But I am not the healthiest of eaters. If it's fried it's mine; if it's got cheese inside it or melted on top, it's mine; and fried cheese...well...

After March 16th, I started to notice some of my favorite foods where tasting different. Not like spoiled or old food, nothing like that. It just tasted...off. Fruits and vegetables were tasting over-ripe. And unappealing. And usually the result is me with what feels like a brick in my stomach that doesn't seem to want to digest for at least 24 hours.

First, it was sushi. Bo and I used to eat sushi once or twice a month. But you know, the economy being what it was - and is - we cut back on expensive restaurant meals and the last time we'd been out for sushi was middle of December. I'd been jonesing for sushi for 2-3 weeks so late March we decided to splurge. I was so excited because I knew EXACTLY what I was gonna eat and exactly how effing phenomenal it was going to be. Well, I ordered my fantasy sushi dinner and it was...ummm...a disappointment. Didn't make me hurl or anything, it just Didn't. Taste. Right. In other words, "kinda icky."

Since then, the Ick list has been expanded to include chicken slices from the deli, Velveeta, bleu cheese, caesar, poppy seed, and ranch salad dressings, bananas, Canadian bacon, bologna, espresso,Thai food, original Krispy Kreme donuts, icing, orange sherbet, Arby's Beef 'n Cheddar sandwich, and sometimes catsup. Not everything on my list seem to have anything in common, do they? They're not all high in fat or full of salt or stuff like that. And yes, it's not a bad thing to not eat creamy salad dressings and Krispy Kremes. But come on - catsup? Orange sherbet? Bananas?!

Items are added almost weekly, which means I'm sitting down to a lot of meals that disappoint...so I don't eat much. And I pretty much dread meals now. So far I am safe with Juicy Juice, Cheerios, toast, peanut butter, scrambled eggs, bacon, saltines and Campbell's chicken noodle soup (the classic condensed one with the red label). Oh, and the Zensation Zalad from Zaxby's.

Now, I can't tell you I'm actually losing any weight because I don't use a scale at home. I determine if I'm gaining or losing by how my clothes fit. And I'll just say, nothing is snug anymore. As I find new things to add to either list, I'll note them here. But, this medicine that I don't actually know I'm on is - I believe - really going to change the world of MS therapies. Dietary changes notwithstanding, I feel better than I have in a very long time. The best part? No Needle Required.

April 28, 2009

Football non-news

I just saw an article which says an arena football team has offered Michael Vick a $200 per week contract to play. If I read this right, there are conditions:

1. Vick has to be reinstated by the NFL.
2. He has to donate $100,000 to a local animal rescue.

What the hell? Is there just no new news ANYWHERE in this country to report? Are the Albany (NY) Firebirds so desperate to get media attention? Does anybody really believe Vick is doing anything but laughing at this? Does anybody really care?

April 27, 2009

I shoulda been a Brit...maybe

Can't believe how much I love "Britain's Got Talent". Even a...ummmm...lower class of person from any part of the UK just seem to have more class than the majority of people here do. Maybe it's the accent?? Not sure. The camera work - I THINK this is broadcast live - sucks in a big way. But the two backstage guys are hilarious!

April 26, 2009

Brain farts. Or peri-menopausal ADD.

I am not in the mood to talk about MS. Not my own nor anyone else's.

I am tired of paying the veterinarian over $200-300 a month to make my dog better. We both have an autoimmune disorder. My flare-ups are usually over and done with in a month. His has gone on since mid-January.

I gotta get the h-e-double hockey sticks out of this town for awhile.

My niece turned six a couple of weeks ago. I just bought her card today. I deserve to have my membership in the Aunt club revoked.

God, I hope I'm on some real Fingolimod and not placebo.

I wish my legs would effing stop giving out from underneath me.

I want a week - seven days in a row - without spending any money.

I enjoyed Jeff Goldblum's first appearance on Law & Order: CI tonight.

When I read a blog post that strikes me as funny, I hesitate to comment because what if the blogger did not mean it?

Springsteen is in Atlanta tonight and for the first time in 30 years I'm not there. And it doesn't bother me which is a little weird.

It's time for my yearly pap and mammo but I just can't afford it right now. That's not a whine, but a fact. And it pisses me off.

April 23, 2009

Alpharetta to Richmond

I've been sucked- in to Twitter. Yeah, another brain-sucking social networking site. But it's kind of cool to get snippets about stuff that really doesn't need any more than 140 characters.

Not going to detail the crap out of this story, but I responded to a tweet from someone who has to drive from here to Virginia for a quick weekend trip. Long story short, we are leaving here on an upcoming day at 5:30-6:00am, arriving in Richmond around 4, my friend Cathy is fetching me and we're gonna eat and hang out until I head back home at noon the next day. Yes, I'm gonna be on the road for about the same amount of time as I'll be in Richmond, but it'll be fun nonetheless. Hanging with Cathy and her horses and the neatest cat ever (Peej) and eating at my absolute favorite eatery in Richmond - The White Dog.

I'm pumped. Totally.

Provigil + Red Bull = Spazz-O-Rama

Ok so, I take 50mg of Provigil every day because, you know, staying awake as much as possible during daylight hours has always been a goal of mine. Don't get me wrong, I like a good nap every now and then but I don't want them to take over my life or anything.

For about 5 days every month I need a little extra kick that even a half dozen extra cups of coffee doesn't provide. So ok no problem I just take a second Provigil after lunch.

I'm not quite sure what I was thinking this past Tuesday morning, other than I wasn't in the mood for coffee. So I popped the top on a Red Bull, poured it over a big glass of ice, went on with my day. Unfortunately, what I ALSO did was take my morning vitamins (including the Provigil).

People . . . don't ever do that. NEVER.

April 19, 2009

aaaahahahahahahahaha!!!!

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"Will you PLEASE get out of BED?!?!?"

Got a little pissy this morning. The BF was very tired and was not motivated to do anything. Unfortunately, very tired and not motivated are basically 6 out of 7 days a week with him. Unless someone asks him to play golf or shoot guns, that is. I'm not going to pout and whine here; just know we've been together for over four years and that's the way it is with him. The causes are known, the fixes are known, he just doesn't want to work on it. So there ya go.

Well, at about 10:45 this morning, after I'd showered and dressed and the BF was still snoring, I just got a bug up my ass that I was not going to spend the day inside while he spends the day in bed. So I loaded the dogs in the car and drove to my friend Lisa's house in Sugar Hill, about thirty minutes away. [Interestingly, her husband was also in the bed, too tired to get up. No one had called him to go fishing, either.]

BTW, both of these guys have trouble sleeping at night and can't figure out why. I suspect it's because YOU SLEEP ALL *#^%(*^ DAY, but that's just a suggestion and what the hell do I know....fucking men.

Lisa and her beagle and I and my hounds had an absolutely delightful time and I didn't get home until 4:00. ::smile::

April 18, 2009

Art is in the eye of the beholder

Today was a beautiful day here in Alpharetta, GA. Sunny and mild with temps in the high 60's and topping-off at an even 70 degrees. Coincidentally there were tons of outdoor activites planned for this weekend all over the Atlanta area. Being the basically lazy girl I am, I saved my energy to stay close to home and attend the Alpharetta Art Festival in lovely downtown Alpharetta. No, I am not being sarcastic, downtown Alpharetta is a really, really cute place.

I went because I wanted to meet one of the participating artists named Cathy Dailey from nearby Athens, GA [home of the U of Ga Bulldogs and hometown of music legends REM and the B-52's]. I know Cathy from her web store on etsy.com. I find some of the neatest stuff when mindlessly trolling the internet, don't you? Check it out...and see pictures of what I bought today:

Greeting cards named "Ignoring the Cat II"- two of those, actually; "The Gathering", which is so new I don't think it's even made it to the store yet; "Tangerine", "Bubbles" and "Brown Kitty Butt". I also bought a matted print of "Tangerine" as well. I am all about the animal-themed art, especially if it gives me the grins. And her stuff definitely does that. Shiny, happy things, perfect on a Spring day!

April 16, 2009

A good day and the rest of the week hasn't sucked much either!

Okay so, finished taxes on Monday, got that off my plate.

Tuesday was the one-month drug study checkup. That began with a pulmonary function test at the hospital. While waiting I met a very, very nice woman who is recovering from recent lung surgery. Yep. cancer. She is doing pulmonary rehab in order to be able to walk for one mile. Her doc wants her to be able to walk at least that before she starts radiation in 12 weeks. In the meantime she will be getting weekly chemotherapy, starting tomorrow. We really hit it off and exchanged phone numbers. I want to keep an eye on how she's doing...

Anyhoo, after that I went to the MS Center where I donated what seemed like massive quantities of urine and blood; submitted to an EKG and a vision test that I hate: the Low Contrast Letter Acuity Eye Exam This is like a regular eye exam, but they keep switching the charts with progressively lighter lettering. It starts out with black lettering on a white background, but it ends up with the palest of gray on white. This was done with one eye, then the other, then both with each of the progressively lower contrast charts. The lowest level of contrast was a joke when I did it back in December, but this time I actually saw a few lines! I was thrilled and the nurses were very impressed.

The last piece of business was a drive to the opthalmologist. I think they're checking to see if I've had any changes to my eyeballs indicating the onset of macular degeneration. That was a good visit, nothing is showing up. Thank goodness I didn't drive myself around that day, the eye doc dilated my pupils and it was extremely sunny on the ride home.

Wednesday I was pretty much a slug. Draggy and tired and just blah.

Today being Thursday, Wags had to go to the vet for a blood draw again. He is really starting to not like going there at all and got all trembly. The poor dude! At least it's a fast visit and his hemoglobin is up to 36 which is GREAT news. He stalled for so long at 34 I was afraid he might get stuck there permanently. Other than that, I spent an insane amount of time chatting with a new friend on Facebook. She asked some 'living with MS' kind of questions I really enjoyed talking about. They also helped me come up with a really cool idea for at least one blog topic! Which is good, because I have kind of been avoiding my blog.

Oh, and the best thing today? That would be a phone call from a very good friend of ours who is cellphone-capable until midnight tonight; after that she is incommunicado until she is sent to Afghanistan. It was SO nice to hear her voice - shame that Bo wasn't home to speak to her as well though.

April 13, 2009

Say hi to Mike...

So I got my income taxes done late this morning, WOO-effing-HOO. Usually I am in a panic at 10pm on the 15th because something is always missing. Usually it's something that was left blank on my year-end Merrill Lynch statement, but my gripe about their sloppy paperwork is for another day. For today?.......I'm DONE. (At least until the IRS sends me an "Anne, you screwed something up" letter...)

Anyone who pays attention to such things will see I've added another blog to the list of ones I follow...update, May 19th: Dude got a job and isn't blogging anymore. Sooooo...ummmmm...nevermind.

April 07, 2009

I wonder...

...why do people not respond to voicemails anymore?

Emails either sometimes.

Are they THAT busy? [I generally don't give it a thought until it's been five or more days without a reply.]

Or are they passively-aggressively saying they don't really like me?

What the HELL?!?!

April 05, 2009

Police and Fire and SWAT teams, oh my!

While on my way home from the bridal shower yesterday, I got a text from a neighbor saying, "Something is going on @ s somerset...fire police swat. Fyi when u get home u'll c it"

At the entrance to my neighborhood is a four-way stop. The main street in my 'hood is North Somerset. Go straight at the stop sign and you're on South Somerset. So I knew to expect some commotion and where it would be. Well, thank GOD my neighbor warned me! OMG. It looked like you could imagine. Law enforement vehicles everywhere, flashing lights, people standing in the street trying to catch a glimpse and two news crews.

Apparently this started shortly before 2:00, and just got busier and busier as the afternoon progressed. Everything ended at about 9:00 last night, here is the local Fox affiliate's story:

http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/dpp/news/Police_Standoff_Ends

I gotta tell ya, I've lived in this house for nearly 20 years and we have THE BEST police department anywhere. Keep in mind I don't have a great deal of experience to compare this to, but every time a cop is needed in my neighborhood, they've been just phenomenal. The only tax bill I pay without bitching is the one that comes from the City of Alpharetta. Those guys and gals ROCK.

April 04, 2009

The Wedding Shower

Today was the first day without rain in a week. Sunny and beautiful and a perfect day to spend outside, under a nice shade-tree with a book. Well, that fantasy just had to remain a fantasy because I had to go to a bridal shower.

I can't even tell you the last time I went to one of those, my god! Remember - unfortunately I can't forget - I'm in my late forties. My bridal shower days were probably between ages 25-25 I guess. I might be wrong, and I'm not going to put much effort at all into proving this, but I'm quite sure that if a friend of mine was not married by the time she was 35, she is either still (blissfully) single, or she eloped.

Anyway, the bride-to-be (I'll call her A) is 32, gorgeous, successful and has wanted to be married for as long as I've known her. Of course, like so many other young women she went through a period of dating the wrong men who were handome but with no character; and they liked having a girlfriend who had money to "loan". She's marrying a terrific guy: handsome, stable, ex-Army, City of Atlanta police officer. She's Italian, he's Cuban and they both can cook their ASSES off. Nice, nice kids and I'm very happy for them.

So this was a lingerie shower, which was much fun. There were about 20 of us, with a spread of food like nothing I've ever seen (and some I've never heard of). Ziti with meat sauce, empanadas, risotto balls, artichoke spread, mozzarella balls and basil and some other spices in olive oil, croquetas, cuban chicken spread. I probably missed some things and I probably misspelled some things, but you get the idea. And I haven't even mentioned the dessert table (holy cow)!

When it was time to go, I was standing outside with A and a couple of other girls chatting it up for maybe 10 minutes when I started to topple. Other MSers who read this can back me up here when I say that when the legs decide to stop working there is not a damn thing you can do about it. I gotta tell say, and excuse my language, I Fucking Hate When That Happens.

I was blessed to be in the presence of lovely women who did not freak out; they asked me what I needed and took care of me. They helped me to my car where I sat and cranked the a/c as low and as hard as it would go, talked to me for five minutes while I cooled off, and then I went on my merry way.

Interestingly, I'm smiling. These girls were so compassionate and curious! They all knew what MS was (as much as anyone who doesn't actually have it knows) but had no idea how it can manifest itself sometimes. They were interested in what was happening to me, after all we'd spent 90 minutes with one another at the shower and the drastic change in my ability to walk really shocked them. Poor A was upset and I felt the worst about that. We hadn't seen each other in probably a couple of years and she didn't know that I'd had some disease progression recently. Poor kid, I adore her. But I don't call or send out emails to everyone I know saying, "My last MRI showed more disease activity" or "My legs aren't as strong as they used to be" or "My bad days occur with more frequency than they used to." Why share something that's kinda depressing with friends who can't help? It just upsets them and depresses me and doesn't do any of us any good.

Anyway, as far as I'm concerned the shower was GREAT. I met some totally awesome people and OMG THE FOOD. I'm not going to need to eat again until Sunday night I bet. And I'm sure I'll sleep very, very well tonight!

April 02, 2009

It's Thursday, therefore Wags is getting a poke

Wags has had a really good week this week and I was really optimistic about the hemoglobin (a.k.a. PCV) test today. Wags was not as excited:


But, being the totally rocking dude he is, he was an excellent pup and his hemoglobin was up a point, to 35. Woo-hoo! That increase came while we've been simultaneously tapering him off Prednisone which is very exciting. Wags didn't quite get it, apparently. He would not look at me at all on the way home LOL. My dog was giving me the cold shoulder, how frikking funny is THAT?!?!



Sorry about the picure quality, I took these from my cell phone on a very overcast day. While sitting at a traffic light. With my seatbelt on.

April 01, 2009

High School Reunion, Part Two

Not only am I off the list for the reunion here, I put myself ON the list for the one in Buffalo. Some folks there are excited to see me AND offering me lodging!

And how is this for a coinkydink: that reunion is taking place the weekend of my birthday!

March 30, 2009

High School Reunion

Sometime last fall I got this email from a girl I went to high school with, announcing the 30th reunion of my high school graduation. Oh. My. God. I absolutely hated high school in Georgia, probably because my dad's job relocated us from Buffalo to Atlanta during my 16th summer. I tried to be nice a couple times and attended the 10- and 25-year reunions. I think I've paid my dues.

Oh, and the best part? The theme for the weekend is golf. In July. In Atlanta heat. Even before I had MS I hated those three things. Really just how much am I not going?

Clicking the 'No' box on the alumni web page was SO MUCH FUN.

Two Week Check-up

It's been two weeks on study drug, and I had the first of several check-ups required for the first three months. It was also the first time for me to drive myself down there like a big girl. Traffic was exactly as expected and there was only one . . . no, TWO near-accidents. I can proudly report neither one was due to my driving though! Atlanta drivers, for the most part, are just assholes.

Anyway, vitals were fine. I asked to pee in a cup because I've been thinking I could be developing a UTI (love those. not) because I've been hesitating a lot. Well, my bladder hesitates a lot anyway. So the stick did have elevated white cells in it so they sent my deposit off to the lab and will call me in a few days. Meantime, lots of water and cranberry juice. Really? Duh.

The best part was this, and maybe other MSers will understand why this was so exciting. As I was leaving the building I was heading toward an unfamiliar level of the parking deck. I had my head up, looking for my car like a normal person. Unfortunately, I did not see anything notifying me there was a step down off the sidewalk. I hate that because I can't count the number of times I haven't been able to recover from an unexpected change in terrain. I shudder just thinking about it actually.

Anyway, the heel of my right foot caught the edge of the sidewalk, while my toe landed on the deck about 3" below it and guess what? I didn't freak, didn't teeter, didn't stumble, nothing! I just recovered without incident and kept walking! That was a very, very big deal and I'm still grinning!

March 29, 2009

HAD to share this

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

I gotta be me

Y'know, I'm witty as hell, I really am.  Apparently, not so much when I write but if you were ever to talk to me on the phone I'd make you pee your pants laughing (isn't that right Mary Anne).

Until I started this blog, the only writing I ever did was for business or school reports.  So, I can write pretty much anything without even the remotest indication of a personality; a skill that don't serve the blogsphere well.  I mean really, who wants to read a blog that doesn't have any humor or emotion in it?  I know they don't rock MY boat.

From this point on I'm going to loosen up...let my hair down...get excited...get angry...use some potentially offensive language...in other words, just be ME.

Taking a quote from the immortal Bette Davis in The Three Faces of Eve, "Fasten your seatbelts.  It's going to be a bumpy night."  Muwahahahaha

March 27, 2009

Oops, nearly forgot why I'm here in the first place

I just noticed the calendar - well, I look at a calendar multiple times a day but today I put two and two together - and realized I have been actively taking the little experimental pills for ten whole days and haven't said a thing about them since the 17th.  Duh me.

In a nutshell, there's not a ton of stuff to talk about.  I'm happy to say that because a) if I'm on real drug I'm not having any noticeable, unpleasant side effects and b) if I'm on placebo I'm not in a flare or having any other MS-related unpleasantness.

Honestly, I don't think I'm on placebo, for a few reasons:

1.  The tingling in my hands which has been a constant since September is pretty much non-existent now.
2.  My vision is noticeably sharper and brighter, no matter how tired I may be.
3.  I am more tired than usual, which I chalk up to #4.
4. My BP and HR are about 10 points lower than usual for me, even immediately after a cig (yes, I AM trying to quit but right now I am happy with cutting back by half or greater).

All of these things are very subtle and not visible to others, but I am aware of them many times throughout every day.

In a nutshell, I just feel a little better and I am very pleased.

March 24, 2009

Momma never said there'd be days like this - part deux

Ten days ago I wrote about how crappy my menstrual cycle has gotten in recent years.  Today I finally started.  And I feel like a new woman.  It's just not right.

PMS sucks large.

March 21, 2009

My dog is my idol


It's late and I'm tired, but I had to get this off my chest.  Bear with me.

On January 15th of this year, my dog Wags was diagnosed with immune mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA).  Since then he's been on 60mg of prednisone every day, along with a second immunosuppresant and an antibiotic.

He's had one accident in the house that occurred on the third day of prednisone. 

He'd like to eat much more than I feed him, but really, what dog doesn't?

He's had only one episode of what I would describe as 'roid rage.  And that's just because a Boxer was spending an inappropriate amount of time with his nose in Wag's 'basket'.  

My Wags has had to have a blood draw every Thursday for two months, with nary a complaint.

He never ceases to amaze me.  And he inspires me to take my head out of my own ass, deal with what needs to be dealt with, and continue enjoying all the beautiful things that life has to offer.  He's my dude.  And my idol.

March 17, 2009

Fingohead membership card

Started the day today back at the MS Clinic at 7:30-ish and the morning was just loaded with highlights!

First, the removal of the holter monitor.  While it's not the worst thing a doctor could do to me, 24-hours of itchy EKG lead adhesive and not being able to shower is about all I can handle.  Yes, that smell is me.  Blech.

Then a new EKG strip and HR and BP were checked again.

Finally I was presented with my own little box, holding three bottles of pills, 35 each.  I took today's dose (yep, still being stared at the whole time) and got my official "Patient Card".  Among other things it says, "I am participating in a clinical trial of FTY720, an experimental drug for the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)."  

One hour later, I was sent out into the world, to join the other Fingoheads in search of a better, injection-free MS therapy.

Here is my new ID photo:


March 16, 2009

The first day of school

After what seems like forever, I finally started the Fingolimod trial. Here is the sequence of events:

Arrived at 7:35. I was supposed to be there earlier, but on a rainy Monday in Atlanta that is simply not possible. Luckily, most of the research staff was late too! Pulse and BP were taken almost immediately, as follows:

7:40  81   129/80
7:42  80   123/80
7:44  80   121/79

Then, an EKG was run and the Holter monitor was attached. We had to wait at least 15 minutes, and that time was spent giving me my instructions for the day (which in a nutshell was "You're not going anywhere, so get comfortable").

Then the rest of the day was spent in this little room:


Once an hour, a staffer came in and again checked my pulse and BP:

08:29  Dose given
09:29  80 118/76
10:29  76  112/78
11:28  76  116/80
12:26  73 112/72
13:27  84 108/73
14:27  81 104/70

Then, one last EKG and I was sent on my merry way; I return tomorrow for Day Two. Hopefully that will only last a couple hours. At the end of that visit, I'll be given little pill bottles of my very own to bring home.

So far, so good...

March 14, 2009

Mama Never Said There'd be Days Like This

Somewhere I got the idea - or the old wive's tale - that menopause starts earlier in women who've never given birth. Well OK, I figured that meant that rather than being menopausal at 60, I might be at 55. Later I learned of something called peri-menopause. I guess that's when you still get a period, but it starts to change. And this crap can last for a decade! I never thought it could happen at my relatively young age. And I am NOT happy.

My primary complaint is the PMS fatigue. Of course I also have MS fatigue which has never been debilitating for me. But, during PMS - which can last from 2 to 10 days - I can hardly function. Ideally I would sleep through all of it because when I'm not actually sleeping I am a (barely) walking slug. My eyes are not clear. My hands are pretty useless. And walking even a semi-straight line is totally out of the question.

There are very probably people with MS who feel like this each and every day. That I cannot imagine. This once a month nonsense, even though it can last for 1/3 of a month, is bad enough. Oh, how I long for the days when PMS meant bloating and mood swings. I NEVER agreed to trade those symptoms in for this one! And I am NOT happy.

March 13, 2009

Friday The 13th? I LAUGH in your general direction!

Pretty excellent day today. Actually, I've had two...no, three pretty excellent days this week. I'm telling you, I really dig the jump to Daylight Savings Time!

I've got my tote almost ready to take with me on Monday. The Snuggie is in the wash and a fresh pillowcase is at the ready. A brand new italian place just opened and I immediately snagged a copy of the menu. I picked out a pasta dish and a salad to buy on Sunday, refrigerate overnight, and take with me to the MS Clinic for a meal.

I spent many hours on the phone and in person with AT&T Wireless today, determined to solve a problem I've had since, I kid you not, November of 2007! I was tenacious as a terrier and refused to accept the lame-ass answers I was getting. Today proved that when you get the right person, a problem can be solved in a matter of minutes. Now I can buy a decent ringtone for my phone. Seriously. A year and a half to get that straightened out.

I got my lab reports in the mail yesterday - the ones that show my nasty cholesterol level - and delivered a copy to my PCP today. I've got an appointment with him on Wednesday morning to talk about them and see what he has to say. His receptionist was looking at them like they were written in a foreign language and had a look on her face like she was trying to formulate a question. So I stood there for several seconds, when she looked at me and said, "Ummm. Where is your name?" I burst out laughing at that because I hadn't noticed I am not identified by name (double-blind study, remember) just a code number. So we both got a kick out of that, I identified myself and everything is good. That is really a funny story but I guess you kind of had to be there.

As an aside, I also have wonky RBC morphology which basically indicates I am mildly to markedly anemic. Yeah, no shit Sherlock.

I did get a phone call from the Head Research Nurse saying they were all excited to see me on Monday and FINALLY get this party started. As you can imagine, so am I.