Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Week 4 - Finally Some Progress!

The week started with some good news. My uber whiny email to the doc last Thursday was the ammo they needed to submit an appeal (who knew?) and they called Monday to get info on my PT. The appeal was filed on Tuesday. They didn't mark it urgent, completely ignoring the specific wording I'd sent them from the Benefits Director, so I can only hope that it somehow makes it to the top of the pile. I got a letter saying it might take 2 weeks to review but at least there's hope. And get this, my friend Donna, who has the exact same UNL insurance, called her doc with a shoulder complaint, got an MRI approved and done 2 days later and is already scheduled for surgery. WTF! Some people have all the luck.

Otherwise, it was a busy week. I had training Tuesday and Thursday all afternoon, PT first thing Tuesday and last thing Thursday and was going to Jackie with friends after work Tuesday night. I was dieting but had decided popcorn for dinner was OK and Anne bought the popcorn while I was getting the tickets. It was huge! Did I act like an adult and leave some uneaten? Not a chance, which might be why I was up at 2:00 in gastric distress. I lost yet more sleep and was so exhausted Wednesday morning and had a hinky stomach so I called in sick. The thing that decided it, which I didn't feel great about, was the fact that it was snowing over a bed of ice so the drive would be treacherous. I got over the guilt and happily sat in my nightie knitting and watching it snow. The bland diet didn't get me down either and I was feeling better by day's end.

On the knitting front, despite having many projects OTN (on the needles), I went home Monday night and cast on another pair of socks. Then I went to Crafthouse, a new-ish yarn shop on the south side of Lincoln, with Anne at lunch on Tuesday to meet with them about knitting some sample socks for their shop. They accepted my offer and I got to choose a beautiful skein of sock yarn to make the socks, which will hang in the shop for awhile and then they're mine. So I cast those on too. So much for getting old projects finished. At least the Monday night pair went quickly and I finished them on Saturday, which is a personal record for me, and I love them. Too bad they're too small for me but I was using up a single skein so that limited the size. They'll go into the gift pile for now.

I started the weekend by going back to the pool. I had cleaned out my locker 2 weeks ago but just couldn't handle not swimming. I was getting lots of knitting done with the extra time but I was also becoming a noodle so I decided to get in the pool and just do what I could. There were definitely moves I couldn't do but I was moving in water and that was better than not. I've always loved starting the weekend swimming and it felt great to be back on track. I was showered and in veg clothes when I drove into my garage and I didn't leave the house all weekend. Bliss!

I had a lovely weekend with lots of knitting but just enough productivity to not feel guilty. I had most of my chores done before I went to bed Saturday, which left me Sunday to go through the last food cupboard and do some cooking. I had the cupboard emptied, vacuumed, washed and restocked by mid-afternoon so started cooking after a nice tea break. I had a 3 pound chub of hamburger so made 2 pounds of meatballs for an upcoming food day and a meatloaf, which mashed potatoes of course, for dinner. I also made PB&J bread pudding to take to knitting. The break week between rotations started Sunday so it was great to have some yummy food in the house. All in all, not a bad finish to the week.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Week 3 - The Melt Down

The world was still covered with a sheet of ice on Monday morning but it was MLK Day so I settled in for a lovely day of ignoring the weather and knitting away in my jammies. Nice. Then Lori told me UNL was cancelled on Tuesday and after quickly checked the website, I saw no classes and the pressure was off. I had intended to tackle a project but now had Tuesday. Until I got thinking mid-afternoon. Usually we get an email when work is cancelled so when I didn't see one, I checked the website again and saw that classes were cancelled but staff had to report. I didn't see this until 3:30 though so my day was toast. Bummer but at least I'd had a lovely and relaxing day.

The work week started with PT at 7:00 a.m., which means I have to be ready to leave for work from there. There's nothing normal about a PT morning but at least I got them to change the channel off Fox. I had to be up early Wednesday morning too because we were celebrating Cindy's birthday with breakfast before work at Bread and Cup. It was getting harder to get up each day because I was only sleeping 3 to 4 hours each night. By Thursday morning, I could barely get out of bed and by the time I had to leave for PT, it was clear I'd have to come back home before heading to work. Not good. Fox and Friends was on again so I complained to Cory, who's name is on the building and is the one who wants Fox according to the staff. I left in hopes that that might have done the trick but I was exhausted and running on empty.

I got to work and things did not go well. When I stopped to check in with Nora, she asked how I was doing and I completely lost it. I was in tears within seconds and poured my frustrations out. She was supportive, as usual, and I left with a mission. I sent an email to my doctor's office and felt some better. Nora had told me to go home but I just drank 2 huge diet cokes at lunch with Dodie and that got me through the day. 

Unfortunately I didn't sleep any better Thursday night so Friday was another tough day and I ate a bunch of crap, beginning with the donuts I brought that morning. Not good. The candy bar I ate mid-afternoon was the last straw and I felt like I was going to be sick so went back and forth to the ladies' room five or six time in my last hour but nothing. I boogied home, feeling like crap and just after 7:00, I puked my guts up and crawled into bed. It was well before my 9:00 earliest bedtime but I felt awful so called it good. I put on a patch and slept for 12 hours! Clearly I needed it and I felt almost normal on Saturday, getting most of my chores done so I'd have project time on Sunday.

I slept for 8 hours Saturday night so woke up feeling like a new woman on Sunday morning. After a morning knitting in the sun, I threw in a load of laundry and then got busy on my cupboards. I had stopped baking 2 years ago when I started dieting and all my baking supplies were bug infested and it had spread to the pasta. I pulled everything out of the cupboards, making about a dozen trips to the compost pile to empty my biggest Pyrex bowl over and over. Such a waste but it had to be done! After vacuuming and cleaning the cupboards with ammonia, I had everything back (much less because I also purged old canned goods while I was at it) and was ready to relax. It felt great to have everything back in order and was a good way to end a frustrating week. Now if I could only hear back from the doctor..... Wish me luck.

Week 2 - Ups and Downs

I started the week off with hope that the benefits director would hear back from Blue Cross and I’d get my MRI. Well, that didn’t happen. By the end of the day Monday, I’d heard that no exception could be made so I scheduled 2 PT sessions starting Wednesday at 7:00 am. If PT was required, I’d go to PT. Hoops? Yup, I’ll jump through them. Whatever it takes. The inability to sleep well is the true problem but lidocaine patches were still saving my butt on that front.

Monday also saw the last of the monthly reporting meetings and no one had signed up for my portal reporting class so I got to cancel that. My shoulder might be a mess but things were looking up at work. And I’d started a rotation so was eating healthy and felt better about that. I’m hoping to lose 20 pounds before my knee surgery. I’m trying to focus on what I can fix since I’m at the mercy of Blue Cross on my shoulder pain.

Wahoo was covered with a sheet of ice on Wednesday when I left the house for my first PT session. I couldn’t get up the slight hill on my street, ending up fishtailing into my neighbor’s driveway. I turned around and went down the hill and was able to get to PT, which wasn’t bad. As promised, they were being very low key so my session consisted of ultrasound (always soothing), massage (nothing wrong with that) then ice. It was more of the same Friday morning but this time I was out in the main room and had to suffer through Fox and Friends for the entire hour. I complained to anyone who would listen to no avail.

Friday night I did something that felt SO wrong - I cleaned out my locker at the pool. They'd told me at PT not to do anything that would hurt my shoulder, so I figured swimming was out. I've been going to water aerobics for ten years and the support is as important as the exercise. Maybe more. But I'd done the math and if I couldn't swim in January and had two, hopefully, surgeries on the horizon, I felt like it was time to quit and start up again in the summer. I cleaned out my locker and headed out, feeling dejected. 

There was an ice storm looming that would strand the entire Midwest inside over the long weekend but as the storm got closer, Nebraska was getting a reprieve. The ice wouldn’t start until overnight Saturday. With that in mind, the Monday Night Knitters got together Saturday afternoon at the new coffee shop in Wahoo and knitted the afternoon away. I then got busy that night and finished most of my chores. After a lovely and productive day, I put on a patch and slept for 10.5 hours! I haven’t slept that long in ages. Clearly I needed it.

By Sunday morning the world was iced over. The weather people said there wouldn’t be much wind so there was little chance of power outages so I blissfully knitted all day Sunday, making a headband for my cubie mate Lana with deliciously soft merino yarn. And it looked like Monday would be more of the same. No problem in my book so I went to bed Sunday happy and content. All good. Except the MRI thing but I’ll live. And try to be patient cuz I’m SO good at that. Ha!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Week 1 - Blue Cross Hell

Alas, Monday was the last day of break. Five days had gone by in a flash and while I hadn't been a total slug, I still had a huge to do list of things I hadn't gotten done. And that's what I did, making a huge dent and in one day, redeeming myself from total slackerdom. A day off and lots of things crossed off is a good way to start a week, even if it was the last day of break.

Tuesday was not a good day. First off, instead of starting the year with a productive day of doing monthly reports, which is incredibly satisfying btw, we spent most of the day in a workload planning meeting. We went through everything Nora and I do trying to find things we can offload to others or stop doing all together now that filling Josh's position wasn't going to happen. My six weeks off for my knee replacement steps this up a notch. But it was most of the day and there were more of these meetings scheduled every day all week. Sheesh!

Then when I got home, my doctor's office called to tell me that my pre-surgery MRI for my shoulder had been denied, even after a peer review! Despite the fact that I'm in constant pain from the bone spur that's irritating my rotator cuff, which leaves me struggling to sleep most nights, and have already had a super painful needle aspiration, they want me to do a month of PT before they'll OK the MRI. Now I need the surgery NOW so that my shoulder is completely recovered by March 9th, when my knee replacement is happening. They aren't including that complication in their decision. Meanwhile I'm only able to sleep with a lidocaine patch on my shoulder and even that's not good sleep. Yet again, money trumps patient. Our system is so broken.

I tried for productivity, dropping my puked on coat for dry cleaning and stopping at Fresh Thyme for produce before work on Wednesday. And luckily after meeting for another huge chunk of time on Wednesday, the rest of the workload planning meetings for the week were cancelled so I was able to start on my reports, which Cheryl helped me with. Still it took the rest of my week and they weren't even 100% done by Friday at 5:00.

But I did end the week by talking to the benefits director about the ridiculous PT. I'd spoken to my doctor's office again and tried to plan out a month of PT and still getting my shoulder done before my knee. She called Blue Cross and gave me a ray of hope to end the week on. She'd hear back from them Monday so it was more waiting. Hopefully waiting though to head into the weekend.

It started with a rare Friday night social engagement - my water aerobics friend Cindy's retirement party. She had it in a downtown bar and it was lots of fun - good friends, yummy food and a DJ. While I didn't get up and dance, I had some fun rockin' out in my chair to some of my favorite songs. I've got 10 more years before I can retire. Jealous!

I had a Friends of the Library meeting at 9:30 Saturday and had actually done all the prepping, including a year in review treasurer's report, on Thursday night so wasn't slamming to get the reports done last minute. Very adult. I like starting a weekend at home with a Friends meeting, which gets me up and out and feels like a good start to the weekend. I ran some errands after the meeting then was home for the rest of the weekend.

Other than the usual chores, I spent Sunday prepping produce. I started the first of my 2 pre-surgery rotations on Sunday morning. I've gained 20 pounds since my sustained loss of 65 pounds and my intention is to lose them before March 9th. I can do it if I don't flake on these rotations, which I feel like I can do with the surgery hanging over me. After eating like a pig over the holidays, eating healthy food felt great so even 600 calories isn't going to dampen my enthusiasm. Wish me luck!

2017 - Just One Word

Every year I choose a word and TRY to focus on that for the year. Recently I haven't done a good job of following through on that so this year, I think I have a winner because it hearkens back to my first and most successful word - enough.

After having chosen this year's word but before writing this post, Faith Salie did a rant on CBS Sunday Morning about my word. Not that it will change my mind but I thought I'd share. Now for my word.....


The reason this word speaks to me is because my life is full. Very full. Of stuff, time commitments, energy commitments and the like. This leaves me in the position of constantly having to pick and choose what to keep/do/commit to like a museum curator. So it's time to really be deliberate in my life, especially this year when I'm facing my knee replacement and hopefully surgery to fix the bone spur's that killing my shoulder, both of which will leave me with extra time but limited abilities to get things done. So despite the fact that it's a buzz word right now, I am embracing curation as my goal for 2017. Wish me luck. Happy New Year!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Week 52 - A Short Break

Monday afternoon was our annual open house so we got up and out to Stop & Shop first thing on Monday. Since it was the first time Hanukkah and Christmas coincided since I've been Christmasing in RI, we were making potato latkes for the open house so had lots of prep work that morning. After peeling 15 pounds of potatoes and 4 pounds of parsnips, we prepped the 2 batches of latke batter and then started putting together the cookie platters and other treats. We were starting later than usual - 3:00 - and Carolyn planned to start frying when people started arriving. She had 2 frying pans on the stove but when she went downstairs for the electric frying pan, she came up empty handed, remembering she'd thrown it away after the last time she'd made latkes because it did such a crap job. Sharyn had just arrived when I grabbed her and we headed out to buy a new one, failing at Benny's so we had to brave Wal-Mart the day after Christmas. At least we found one.

The latkes were delicious and a big hit. More of Carolyn's friends came this year than most and with all my friends too, I had plenty of fun chatting and eating. Is there anything better in life? Only if it's got knitting too maybe. I didn't pick my seat wisely so ended up blocked in at the end of the table and didn't mingle as much as I would have liked but it was all good. Carolyn's friend Beth had helped her with the frying and then was a machine at clean up, which she said she enjoys. I thanked her profusely for doing my clean up work and headed out to drive Sharyn home. Christmas was officially over and had been a big successful, even with my behind the wheel puke fest. Monday was my last night in RI so it was a ridiculously short trip. I went to bed feeling satisfied though and was looking forward to being home for 6 days.

With a nearly empty suitcase to fill, Carolyn and I headed to Job Lot first thing on Tuesday morning. I found plenty of things to take home and was packed within minutes once we got home. It was cleaning day for Carolyn so I'd arranged for Cornelia to pick me up for lunch and airport drop off. She'd gone to Florida for Christmas so I hadn't seen her yet. As always, it was great to have some Cornelia face time. We went back to The Crow's Nest for more fried clams and when we had time to kill, we headed to the water, sitting in the parking lot in Potowomut overlooking the bay and chatting for more than an hour. Here's a pic of a very classy older lady who had the same idea. What's not to like about this view? One of the things Corn and I talked about was me coming back to RI in the summer once I retire. Now that's ten years away but it's the first time I've ever considered that. The words coming out of my mouth surprised me and I'll have to give this more thought. Anyway, she dropped me at the airport and despite not getting pre-check, I sailed right through the lines and was at the gate with plenty of time. I was not changing planes in Chicago so chose my seat wisely since I'd be in it for a long time. They did let us off in Chicago so I was able to use a real bathroom and get some frozen yogurt but still get back on the plane before general boarding. Nice. It was another ueventful flight and drive home. I was in  my house just after 11:00 p.m. and had six days at home. Yay!

I spent Wednesday and Thursday unpacking, putting things away and knitting. It felt great to be home. I am actually looking forward to the six weeks I'll be home post-surgery even knowing I'll be in pain. I just love being in my house during the day and being able to do whatever I want when I want. Holiday break must be what retirement feels like and I'm ready. Ten more years seems like a long time but I'll make it.

Other than brief forays to run errands, I didn't leave the house much until Friday, when Lorri and I headed to Lauritzen Gardens. We ate lunch in their cafe and then explored their poinsettia display and their new glass houses, which I hadn't seen yet. It was a lovely interlude in the dead of winter and makes me think I should buy a membership and go more often. From there we shopped our way home - Stoysich House of Sausage, Personal Threads (the yarn store where I bought too much sock yarn) and Aldi for milk and a few groceries. It was a lovely afternoon hanging with a great friend.

I had floors to sweep, counters to clear and chairs to set up. I filled a 3 tier stand with all kinds of goodies from my stocking and presents, put out 2 kinds of cheese and made a blueberry cake to go with the pots and pots of tea. There were 8 of us and we had a nice time eating, knitting and chatting. It's a wonderful way to start the new year. Happy New Year!

Week 51 - Rhode Island Christmas

I kept up the zicam on Monday morning but by noon admitted defeat. I had a cold - just what I need to the week of Christmas. I was a total snotty mess and felt so crappy by the time the day was over that I skipped knitting! It's very unusual but I didn't want to share my germs so close to Christmas. It was a good thing because by Tuesday, I had a fever. I called in (another rarity) and spent the day alternating between sweating and chills. Once I lost the sun in my back room, I retired to bed, where I streamed on my iPad all afternoon with the heated mattress pad keeping me warm.

Wednesday was cleaning lady day so despite not feeling much better, I went to work. Well, that wasn't going to fly. Mary took one look at me and told me to go home. When I explained that I needed to be away for the cleaning lady, she told me to kill my time at Starbuck's, HyVee or a thrift store. She didn't care where just not sharing my germs at work so off I went. I stopped at the market and got home at noon for another afternoon of doing nothing. My fever had broken by the time I got home too so other than snot, I was feeling better. I spent the afternoon knitting and taking it easy. I finished my last pair of Christmas socks that afternoon and had them blocking before bed.

Unfortunately my shoulder kept me from sleeping through the night so I was up doing laundry in the wee hours. I was tired but was fine at work and had lunch with Dodie. Then it was home to pack (that took 10 minutes) and go to bed early since I had to be awake at 3:00. I was in bed by 8:00 and had turned the light off by 9:00 so actually got six hours before the alarm went off. I was out the door at 3:40 (10 minutes later than I'd planned) and got to the airport before 4:30 for a 5:30 flight. But they opened a new canopy parking lot that shares the shuttle so it took 25 minutes to get to the terminal. Everyone was nice and let me cut in line but my checked bag was marked late check in so there was no guarantee it would arrive with me. I had all my clothes in my carry on so it only had Carolyn's stocking and yarn for Dottie so it wouldn't be much problem if it was late. Nothing I could do at that point so I settle in for my flight. It was all uneventful, which is the most you can hope for these days. 

John was in the terminal so I was one of those lucky people with someone waiting with a big hug at the bottom of the escalator and then my luggage was on the carousel. We went from there to The Crow's Nest for fried clams, clamcakes and chowder. Yum! John dropped me at Carolyn's and the Christmas prep began. Lists, lists, lists. Carolyn was leery of me touching food with my cold so I sat in the sun knitting while she started cooking. We had Don's spinach pies for supper. It was good to be in Rhode Island.

Saturday was Christmas Eve so I got busy first thing with Auntie Margaret's plum pudding. Otherwise Carolyn was still doing most of the cooking John came by to hang out and Carolyn had him braid the cardamon breads, which was something new for him. I had to laugh while i watched him moving the pieces back and forth before saying "I think I might need some help starting the braiding." I gave him a quick braiding tutorial and left him to it while I enjoyed some lovely knitting in the sun time. Here's a pic of his braiding efforts. Can you spot the problem? Too funny.

I left for Shelley's just after 3:00 so Christmas was on. I got to catch up with Auntie Margaret and Bette before Dottie and her family arrived. I hadn't seen them in more than a year and Andrew even longer and not at Christmas for years and years. That's better than any present. When I left ~7:30, I handed off the HUGE bag of yarn to Dottie and then struggled to clear a layer of ice off the car before heading to John's mom's. They had already eaten dinner (I used to eat with them but that was stressful and cut into my Auntie Margaret time so I now only go for a post-dinner chat, which takes the eat off) so I had half a glass of white wine and enjoyed their company for a couple of hours. The plan was I'd call Carolyn when I was leaving to see if I needed to pick her up at Tracy and Andrea's but she texted John just as I was standing up to say she did need a ride. It was just after 10:00 so still earlier than usual, which wasn't all bad.

There was no ice on the car (the freezing drizzle had stopped) but it was cold and my muscles cramped up as I waited for the car to warm up. I shrugged it off and headed to Cranston. Well, I was on the highway when I got a 3 second warning - I was going to puke! There was no shoulder and nowhere to pull off and no holding it off. I tried to cover my mouth but that did little good as I projectile vomited. I pulled off in a parking lot, puked some more and then did my best to clean things up with a stack of lotion kleenex and the gift box from Dottie's present. It was not pretty. I called Carolyn to say she needed to meet me outside (I usually go in and say hi) and she did. I felt fine as soon as I was sick, which was a good thing because I had some major clean up to do when we got home. When Carolyn went in for windex and paper towel, Aaron immediately asked if I'd thrown up in his car. Now why did he go right there? I'm 55 years old but I guess he's 16 and was thinking like a high school boy. Anyway, I spent some time outside in the cold and dark cleaning what I could then jumped in the shower before stuffing stockings and heading to bed. This was NOT how I'd planned to spend my Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day was lovely. We opened stockings first, which is my favorite thing. And yes, the bags underneath are stocking stuffers in what we call "the annex." We don't mess around with stockings. My 2 favorite things were the neck firming cream (I'd mentioned getting turkey neck to Carolyn and roared when I opened it) and the Middle Child Mints in a tin that said throw them in your pocket and forget about them. When we were done with presents, we had a low key breakfast. No elaborate blog food - just scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and cardamon bread. Delish! We were also making an easier dinner and since Aaron and I both had colds, Carolyn's parent were not coming so it was just the 4 of us and Jen, a friend who always comes for Christmas dinner. We had spiral ham (much easier than prime rib), scalloped potatoes and brussels sprouts. I was deemed healthy enough to touch food so did the potatoes and the sprouts, making me feel so much more useful. While we waited to eat, I went back out for more car clean up and it was looking unscathed by the time I was done. We left he doors open to air things out but I'd still be leaving money for detailing. Sheesh!

Dinner was delicious and the creme brulee was a nice finish. We were done with clean up by 5:00 and didn't know what to do with ourselves for the 2.5 hours we had to wait before the Call the Midwife Christmas special. It was the first down time we had in days so we retired to the front room for knitting and relaxation. All in all, it was a lovely Christmas. We had a big list for Monday morning but that was another day. We enjoyed our evening with full bellies and happy hearts. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas.