Monday, July 22, 2013

Week 29 - Social and Productive

Other than truly feeling “normal” (so much so that they noticed that I was back at knitting), the notable thing about this week was parking.

I had gotten a note for 3 months of handicapped parking the last time I went to the knee doctor and it expired on Wednesday. It was absolutely wonderful being able to park right beside my building and more impressive, being able to leave campus at lunch because I knew I could find parking when I got back. Now there’s a parking lot right across the street that I could probably get a spot in (the vice chancellors control who parks there) but I already pay $47/month for my crappy parking and a reserved space would be almost double that. Between my knee being iffy and having gotten the taste of the difference easy parking made in my ability to run errands at lunch, I was considering asking for one. Then an email went out from the VC saying there were spots available and asking if anyone was interested. That was the catalyst I needed so I responded that I did want one, justifying the cost because I’m now cleaning my own house so am $80/month ahead. Now the waiting to see if I’ll get a spot. Now that I’ve asked, I want it NOW!

So since the tag was expiring Wednesday, I forced myself off campus at lunch both Tuesday and Wednesday. I didn’t really NEED anything but drove to Trader Joe’s to get replacement bagels (free) for the ones I’d bought last week that molded in 2 days. I also hit Michael’s and got some stocking stuffers in the bins but no yarn, which is what I’d gone in to check. But I scored big time when I went to Joann’s at lunch on Wednesday. By then the heat and humidity had set in so I wasn’t into going out but it was my last day with the pass so I did. Well, they had a bunch of yarn at 50% off so I bought, you guessed it, sock yarn – enough for 7 pair and the single bare skein I’d gone in for to get with my 50% off coupon. Then I hit Big Lots next door and picked up a few things there too. Then I topped it all off with a drive to Starbuck’s for an afternoon frapuccino. So all in all, I made my last days of easy parking worthwhile and got yarn to boot. Nice.

Having not had to search for parking in months, I was thrilled to find a spot in the loop (my old preferred parking lot that I gave up on when they closed half of it off for stadium construction) at 7:55. Maybe I could park there until my reserved spot came through? (See the positive thinking there?) It was blazing hot but I walked to lunch with Kelly, the new person in HR. We tried a new burger place downtown and it was good – both the food and company. I had made plans to meet swimming friends at HyVee for steak after work so went, despite being tired and not hungry after my big lunch. I managed to eat my entire dinner and we had fun chatting too. Plus it meant I could pick up the groceries I wanted afterwards, thereby saving me another trip. That was a nice bonus.

Friday was my first lunch without easy parking in a long time and since the cost of meters had doubled since I got my pass, I was in a quandary. There’s one free space on the street that Josh had been parking at while I had my pass but others had wised up so I decided to leave for work super early so I could get that spot because if I didn’t, Layton and I would not be going off campus for lunch. I got to campus at 7:30, which is when I usually leave Wahoo, and it was free. Yay! I spent some quality time with my campus cats and got to my desk before 8:00, which is a rarity. Layton and I went to HuHot for lunch, where I consumed a huge amount of veggies so satisfied my daily fiber quota. I went straight home after work to get ready for Saturday.

Darla was at my house at 7:00 a.m. for strawberry pancakes and bacon and we headed for Omaha, aiming to be at the first Goodwill when they opened. We were only a few minutes off and found a few treasures in the racks before heading to the one we had great luck previously. Not this time. We were in and out in minutes so stopped at another that was on the way (I can tell you the best route to hit every Goodwill in Omaha – go figure) and we hit pay dirt. Darla’s find of the day was a wool/llama sweater in a men’s XXL (the taupe one in the pic.) I’ll frog that baby and end up with hundreds of dollars of yarn for 99 cents. Gotta love it. The next stop was Penzey’s, where I was redeeming 2 sets of coupons (Andrea’s and mine) and getting the prize for the brownie bake off I organized at work. Right next door is Smash Burger, which I’ve always wanted to try but I’m usually at Penzey’s with Andrea, who eats like a bird. When Darla suggested getting lunch, I jumped at the chance and had the best burger I’ve eaten in years. Maybe ever. It was an avocado burger with bacon, lettuce and tomato. Add sweet potato fries and I was a very happy camper. After that, we made our last stop at Aldi for groceries. Darla had to be back in Lincoln by 3:00 so we were aiming for Wahoo at 2:00 and hit it on the dot. She went off for round 2 of socializing and I crashed, spending the rest of the day knitting and watching TV with only occasional little chores. What a fun day!

I had a big list of chores for Sunday and got busy before noon. I got sidetracked while I was stripping my bed and ended up trying on every short sleeved shirt in my dresser, ending up with 3 bags to go – one each for Goodwill, Darla and Helen. That done, I grabbed lunch then started chores – 4 loads of laundry (including the Goodwill sweaters) with about half hung on the line, neatizing the entire house and then the kitchen.

The frig was full of stuff that needed to either be cooked or chucked so I started there. A few hours later I had a frig full of yummy food, a big bag of scraps for Lori’s chickens and had added just a few things to the compost pile. And talk about using things up! Lori had given me 3 kohlrabi so I found this recipe online and although I didn’t follow it exactly, I was happy with the results. I cut up a melon and prepped 2 pounds of strawberries then used the less pretty ones with some rhubarb from the garden to make a streusel topped strawberry/rhubarb pie to take to knitting (streusel topped because I only had 1 pie crust in the frig.) I finished with corned beef casserole and Brussels sprouts for dinner. I didn’t get all my chores done (the floors are a mess) but at least my frig is cleaned out (long overdue) and I have healthy, yummy food for the week. It’s been a long time since I've had a cooking Sunday and I’m glad I finally did. It’s a nice way to end the week because it feels productive plus sets me up for easy meals for the next week. And the using up stuff makes me so happy. I am my father's frugal daughter.

What a great week! Nothing extraordinary but satisfying, productive and social. Plus I finally feel good again. What more could I want?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Week 28 - Grateful for Normal

I cannot articulate how good it feels to feel normal again. Except for a twinge in my gut occasionally, I really feel great and am finding pleasure in the most mundane things. I had a completely normal week, by which I mean jam packed. It was all good.

On Monday I actually got to work early, which was shocking to my office mate. I dug right in and got lots done, making a big dent in my backlog. I worked a bit late trying to finish something (didn’t quite get it done) then went to a Husker Cats meeting, which typically lasted longer than necessary. I left at 6:20 to head home and grab a quick dinner and the Friends’ checkbook and got to the library late for knitting. I must have been getting tired by then though because Andrea asked if I was OK the next day. It was a long first day back though so I was happy to survive, never mind with enough energy to water my neighbor’s plants for the last time and put out her trash when I got home. I slept like a rock.

I woke up early on Tuesday and did some cooking to use up milk – cooked chocolate pudding and banana bread to take to work. By the time I dropped the book club books at the Library Commission (they were long overdue but they had been the last thing on my mind) and fed the cats, I was my usual 10 minutes late to work. It was blazing hot when I walked to the dorms to meet Darla for lunch but it’s summer so I shouldn’t complain. I swam after work, which also felt great. Who knew how much I would be grateful for normal!

I ran to Trader Joe’s over lunch on Wednesday and stocked up on all things high fiber. After work Darla and I hit our fave thrift shop for the first time in a long time. It was lots of fun and I scored something for everyone – shirts for Kate, Cheryl and Nora, a pair of jeans for myself (they fit great!) and some house stuff that I actually needed. All this for $8! Fun, fun, fun. Then it was home to watch Master Chef and eat dinner. Another good day.

Thursday was a bit of a train wreck. Nora was home because Elise was sick but it was the annual sale at the Birkenstock store so we made complicated plans that involved her picking Drew up from camp, dropping the kids and car with her husband and then the two of us going to the sale over lunch. That fell apart when Ted had a meeting he needed to go to and so we postponed but then Ted didn’t check his messages so at 3:00 I was still at my desk. So I picked Ted up and drove him home but by then Nora needed to take Drew to the doctor so I ended up shoe shopping with Ted. Huh? I didn’t buy anything but since it was so late, I just headed home. I made a big pot of red sauce and left is simmering while I headed to the hair dresser for a long overdue cut. That felt great too. Are you seeing a trend here?

I had food shopping on my after work list for Friday but Layton and I went to the Chinese buffet for lunch and so popped into HyVee. I had a long list but only bought the things that I needed for the weekend or that were only on sale for the Thursday/Friday 2 day sale. And the 20 pounds of bacon for Anne Marie, which were heavy to schlep into the office. But all that meant I didn’t need to stop on the way home when the market is a mob scene. Nice. I dropped the bacon on the way home and enjoyed a nice chat with Carolyn since she’d be at her parents’ Saturday morning helping with a garage sale. What a jam packed and normal week. Yay!

I was happy to have Saturday morning to head outside before the heat set in. I didn’t get outside as early as I’d hoped because I was close to finishing a sock and just had to get that done first. I was in the garage ~10:00 a.m. and worked until lunch time. I was drenched with sweat but the garage was in much better shape and the trash can was full. I took a shower and made a hot dog for lunch, feeling pretty pleased with myself. Casting on the second sock was my reward. Eventually I got up and did some stuff in the house – mostly kitchen stuff with the idea that Sunday would be a cooking and project day. I watched my last True Blood DVD and called it a good day.

After a pleasant morning of reading the newspaper and watching CBS Sunday Morning, I wasn’t up for anything strenuous so I went through all the paper on my desk, loading up the recycling bins and opening tons of old mail. I even cut coupons, which I haven’t done in an age. I might have continued the low energy stuff but the kid showed up to mow and so I couldn’t sit (feel too guilty) so got busy. I made chocolate bread pudding to take to Nancy’s cookout later, did the laundry and then brought up the last of the stuff from the basement and sorted all my yarn into the empty under the bed boxes from the pre-floor purge. I still didn’t find the misplaced (clearly) skein of yellow/gray yarn I was looking for but at least my yarn was back upstairs. By the time I was done, it was time to head to Nancy’s.

This was a thank you cookout for everyone who helped Nancy while she was recuperating alone from her broken leg surgery. I had fun chatting with her friends, enjoyed a bunch of yummy food then headed home, stopping to offload the recycling on the way, for the last few things before heading to bed. I borrowed my neighbor’s bike pump and got the green beater bike, which I’m taking to campus for travel between my parking lot and the office, ready to go, put out the trash and called it a night.

See? Normal life is back. And who knew “normal” could feel so good? I guess that’s the upside of feeling so crappy for two weeks. And I would have been happy with all I got done this weekend anytime but it was doubly satisfying this time. The lesson here is gratitude. Duh.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Week 27 - Sick No More

I was still wide awake at 2:00 a.m. but the alarm was set and I got up for work before 6:00. I was exhausted but my gut felt OK so off I went. I had my dairy free lunch all packed (I couldn’t eat dairy within 2 hours of one of my pills) and headed to UNL’s Parking Office to renew my handicapped permit before work. It felt good to be back in the swing of things. I had kept up with my emails from home but went through all the paper on my desk and actually ran a few queries before exhaustion set in. I left at 1:00 while I was still awake enough to drive home. 5 hours was better than nothing. I sat on my butt when I got home, knowing that if I took a nap I’d have an even harder time getting to sleep at night. I knitted at the library then went to bed early. Not that I could fall asleep but I had to at least try.

I did fall asleep at some point but I woke up at 4:00 a.m. when my neighbors left for vacation. I had figured I would wake up with all the car doors slamming right outside my window.  I emailed at that point that I’d be coming in late and turned off my alarm. There was no point in going in early if I was too tired to stay all day. I woke up just after 7:00 feeling better for the extra sleep. I had breakfast, made my non-dairy lunch and got dressed for work. The last thing I did was go to the bathroom and there was blood everywhere! Clearly my intestines were bleeding inside so I called in and headed back to the clinic for my fifth blood test in 8 days. The good news was, my BP, potassium and white counts were all normal. It was colitis – yet another side effect of the antibiotics. I was due to finish them Wednesday, which was not a minute too soon. I called in for the rest of the week, telling Nora that I was done fighting this and was just giving in. There was more sitting in my future.

Helen called that evening and asked if I had a yeast infection yet, which is a problem when you take antibiotics for so long. Now that she mentioned it, I was starting to itch. This was just the icing on the cake! Helen brought me some drugs and I started yet another assault on my body. This was getting old.

I was excited on Wednesday because I’d be finishing my antibiotics. I was so sick of not sleeping and having everything taste awful because of the metal mouth. It was a day like all the others – sitting, knitting, reading, watching TV, blah, blah, blah. I was bored to tears! I had eaten my last non-dairy lunch and taken my last levoquin when I started to itch. I went into the bathroom to check it out and I had broken out in a rash all over my body! It went from my neck to my thighs and down one leg. The only think that was itching was my right earlobe, which was swollen and bright red. I couldn’t get through to the clinic so called Helen at work. She said to stop taking the antibiotics (I only had 1 pill left – this couldn’t have happened sooner?) and go buy Benadryl. I had to take one then, which knocked me out, and two at bedtime. And I had thought the yeast infection was the icing on the cake. This must be the sprinkles!

The rash was less angry on Thursday morning (not so bumpy) but it had merged together into big red patches on my thighs. I had to avoid sun but it’s not like I’d been out much lately anyway and I was such a mess of blotches I wanted no part of seeing people. So more sitting, more knitting. I grilled myself a hamburger for lunch and was going to go to bed early (the insomnia was ebbing) but the fireworks at the park at the end of my street were so loud inside my house (I’m usually at the park so had never been in the house when they went off) that I decided to walk down the street and watch them. I stood in my neighbor’s driveway and watched them. Happy 4th! Damn good thing I hadn't gone to New York.

Speaking of the trip, my cell phone kept ringing with an 888 number so I called back from my land line and it was USAir. They were calling because my flight was delayed. When I explained that I wasn't flying because I'd been ill, she said that because of the delay, they could give me a full refund. How cool is that! I had planned to eat the $127 (thankful that it was such a cheap ticket) but now I'd be getting my money back. Surely my fortunes were turning around.

I felt much better on Friday and actually did some food shopping in town and got a chicken sandwich form BK for lunch. It tasted great (the metal taste was almost gone) but felt wrong. I enjoyed it nonetheless. I made quiche and broccoli for supper, went to bed at my normal bedtime and actually fell asleep. I was clearly getting better.

I felt great on Saturday – normal for the first time in weeks. I had yogurt for breakfast (I’ve been eating lots of yogurt in an attempt to replenish the flora in my intestines) then met Lori at the Senior Center Thrift Shop for the bag sale. I got one bag to Lori’s four and then we went to Andrea’s to offload the stuff we’d gotten for her. Lori had to get home to her mom so we didn’t do our regular lunch at Chip’s. I knitted all afternoon and then went down to the basement to reclaim the craft room from all the crap. I unburied my sewing machine and did some mending and ironing. It felt great to finally be getting something done and it wasn’t killing me. I really felt fine. Yay!

Sunday was a normal chore day – laundry, dishes and all the cleaning that I’m doing myself again, alas… I finished the day making some delicious pasta with Italian sausage and the curly kale Lori had brought me from her garden. It was time for normal life and a nice week of working and being a productive member of society. Ready, set, go!


Week 26 - My Mother's Colon

I was still awake at 4:30 a.m. and the pain was worse than ever. I emailed that I wouldn’t be in and finally was so exhausted that I fell asleep. I woke up in the late morning and called the clinic for an appointment for 3:00 – the first one they had. My regular doctor was out so I was back with Dr. Haroun, who I’d left years ago. Oh well. Beggars can’t be choosers. They did a blood test and it showed I had an infection. Dr. Haroun checked my squeaky clean colonoscopy from 4 years ago and so said it might be a UTI so gave me antibiotics for that and said to come back on Tuesday. If my white count wasn’t down, they’d do a CT scan to see if it was diverticulitis. I went to the pharmacy, watered at Lorri’s and then went home for salsa pork roast.
It was another sleepless night. My neighbor left on vacation at 4:00 a.m. and I knew I’d wake up, which I did. I fell back asleep eventually and woke up feeling a bit better but still in pain. Back to the clinic at noon for another blood test, which showed an even higher white count so it was time for the CT scan. Damn! I’ve got my mother’s colon. It was diverticulitis after all. She changed my Rx to 2 different antibiotics and gave me a big shot of a third in the butt. At least I knew what it was. It was time to up my fiber and never have this again!

The antibiotics were working on the pain but I was back for a 3rd blood test on Wednesday and my white count was down but not enough so I got another shot in the butt. By this point, the side effects of the antibiotics had set in – insomnia, diarrhea and the most awful metal taste in my mouth. I also had no energy and felt so crappy I couldn’t even knit. No fun. I sat in my chair like a zombie, reading in between bouts of staring.
Thursday was my only day that week that I didn’t go to the clinic. More sitting, more reading and not much else. I was able to knit again so at least there was that. I even ventured out to book club that night. I was only gone an hour but felt completely wobbly and tired. Sheesh.

Friday found me back at the clinic for my 4th blood test of the week. My white count was down to normal levels so the antibiotics, which were still kicking my ass with side effects, were working. My BP was still low and so was my potassium but at least I didn’t need another shot. I went to the market in Wahoo to pick up some produce. I was taking this as good news and hoped to get back to normal over the weekend.

At some point in the week, I made the decision to cancel my trip. It was the right decision but kind of a bummer. I couldn't possibly go back to work for three days and then leave again for six. Not at fiscal year end. And I also didn't need the physical stress of traveling so soon after being sick.
I took it easy on the weekend. I did a lot of knitting and did manage to putter a bit in the garden and do enough chores to be ready for the week. I was still having trouble sleeping but the diarrhea had resolved itself and I was ready to head back to work. I was just too bored to stay home another day. What a week!

Week 25 - Lovely then Not

Well, the week started out normal and had a couple of high points but the end. Sheesh!

There was a class going on at the library on Monday night so we were able to stay until 9:00, which was nice. I was determined to finish my planting so went to B&B Nurseries, my favorite one in Lincoln over lunch on Tuesday, armed with a groupon type deal for $20 of plants for $10. Nora went with and we had fun shopping for flowers then grabbed Taco Bell before heading back to work. I left an hour early on Wednesday so I could finish my containers, which I did. It felt great to cross that off my list and I had just enough plants and they all looked great. Nice.

The planting done, it was time to finalize my trip. I had been checking US Air after John found a cheap ticket on (never heard of it until John emailed.) I couldn’t make up my mind – should I fly on Thursday or have my annual cookout and fly Friday morning? Well, there was a $127 ticket to fly out on the 4th. Decision made! I bought the ticket and emailed details. I would be taking either the train or bus to RI on Sunday. Now all I had to do was decide when to leave.
The weather had been gorgeous all week but it got hot on Friday. I had lunch with Layton and hit the super markets on the way home. I was going to hole up on the weekend and do some cooking. My friend Nancy had been home alone for a couple of weeks with a broken leg. Her husband and daughter had left for a school trip to Europe. Since she wasn’t into cooking even when she wasn’t on crutches, I was going to her house on Saturday night to cook dinner. I spent Saturday making easy things for her to prep – salsa pork roast with brown rice, cranberry cole slaw, banana bread and brownies. I brought a ham slice (her request) to cook that night along with Sunny Paris potatoes. I watered her gardens when I was there, cooked her dinner (yummy, if I do say so myself) and hung out and watched some TV – all fun. It felt good to help her out and I had kept some of everything back so would be eating well next week. Bonus!

The knitters were coming on Sunday afternoon to watch the movie I’d Netflixed of our book club book – The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio. I hadn’t even tried to read the book so this was going to be it for me. I spent early Sunday doing chores (I still have no cleaning lady so am cleaning my own house for the first time in years) and had scones in the oven when Lori and Andrea arrived. We watched the movie, had tea and scones and knitted. It was a lovely afternoon. When they left, I finished laundry and made chicken for dinner, sitting down for some Masterpiece Theatre. It had been a nice week.
That would have been the end of this post if not for the pain in my gut. At first I thought it was the shorts I was wearing, which had a tighter elastic waist than my regular veg shorts. But I changed them and it didn’t help. I took some Tums for good measure but the pain was in my lower abdomen and getting worse all the time. I went to bed but couldn’t lay on my stomach to read and could not get comfortable at all. At midnight I was still awake and in pain. This was not good.