Friday, November 30, 2012

Sleep Apnea

I've recently discovered I have sleep apnea. Additionally, I have a breathing disorder where I stop breathing, not only at night but during the day. I was totally unaware of this until the pulmonary specialist told me. Wow! So she scheduled me for a sleep study at the local hospital because she suspected I had sleep apnea.

That sleep study was a disaster. I got less than an hour's worth of sleep, and during the night I stopped breathing an average of 95 times an hour. As a result, I had to get a CPAP machine to aid me in breathing properly at night. The air conditioning was broken in my sleeping room during that first test, resulting in my inability to fall asleep because the room was so hot. Last night I had my second sleep study at the hospital, to see if I've improved since I got the CPAP, and it was worse than my first study! This time, the room was sufficiently cold, but the air conditioner blasted so much air into the room that it kept blowing across my face--something I really dislike. And it's hard to get comfortable with a million wires glued to your head, neck, face, chest, and legs. Also, they tried something new with the CPAP and it was so bizarre that I kept fighting the machine. For some reason, my pulmonary doc wanted them to calibrate the machine so that it "aided" me in exhaling. This meant that as I was breathing in, and before I had completed the air intake, it suddenly created reverse pressure, sucking the air out of my lungs!

Gahhh!!! It made me feel like I was suffocating because I couldn't finish an adequate intake of air before it was being sucked out. Complicating the situation was the fact my back and leg were killing me, and the pain kept me awake. And here's something really weird: I got a Charlie horse on the inside of my thigh, from groin to knee! I've never had that happen before! The end result is that I am classified as having severe sleep apnea. The technician said, "Severe, as in VERY severe." Oh dear.

I also have a problem with the nose mask I was given when I picked up my CPAP machine last week. It blows air on my face, especially my eyes and lips, and because I cannot tolerate that, I have a hard time falling asleep at home. I wake up with swollen eyelids and dry, cracked lips as a result. Also, my nose mask keeps poking me in the eyelids due to the way it's constructed. I'll be exchanging it for a more suitable model when I go back for a check-up next week.

Despite two highly unsatisfactory sleep studies, I have high hopes that the CPAP machine will improve my life. The most significant change so far is that I don't have to get up 5 times a night to tinkle. Yaaayyy!!! At the most, I get up only once at night, and many times I sleep straight through to the morning. I'm hoping that with a better nose mask I will begin to feel refreshed in the mornings instead of my usual lethargy. I keep hearing how wonderful people feel after getting on CPAP, and I'm hoping that eventually applies to me! (Me . . . ever the optimist)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Take a deep breath. Let it out. Take another deep breath. Breathe. BREATHE.

Today a pulmonary specialist told me that I'm not breathing properly. As in, several times during my consultation with her, I stopped breathing. When she asked me to walk around her office so she could observe me, I stopped breathing. When I talked to her, she pointed out when I had stopped breathing during the conversation. I remembered when I was in the recovery room last December after my hysterectomy due to endometrial cancer, the nurse told me that I stopped breathing several times, up to 20 seconds at a time.

I was flabbergasted. I mean, breathing is automatic, isn't it? Who would intentionally stop breathing or hold her breath? Turns out, I would. And I don't know why I do it. I wasn't even aware I did it! But it has caused a host of other health problems, including irregular pulse and a heart working too hard.

So I'm making signs saying BREATHE and posting them all over the house. And I have officially retired from Holmes Editorial Services. I'm keeping some of my old clients, but not taking any new ones. For the first time in my life, I am learning how to breathe.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Yet Another Spider Bite Update

My left leg, one year after the spider
bites. Healing, but ever so slowly

 It's hard to believe that it's been one year since I was bitten multiple times on the leg by a spider as I slept in my bed. Next time I take the sheets off the clothesline, I'll give them a good shake before putting them on my bed!

This is how my leg looks one year and 2 days after the spider bites. It still itches insanely, and nothing seems to help. The hydrocortisone ointment prescribed by my doc does zilch. The Vitamin E seems to help a little. But the itching still remains.

Of greater concern is a series of health issues preventing me from doing the most mundane daily tasks. The back and leg pain are mostly to blame, but significant arthritis in both feet and lower spine are the biggest culprits. The good news is that I'm in physical therapy three times a week, and a battery of docs and specialists are probing into other health issues. I've been poked and prodded, X-rayed and ultrasounded, had bone scans and mammograms, had my lungs tested and my privates inspected, had my meds played with and other meds rejected.

I am heartily sick of it all. Well, not all of it. I do love the physical therapy, even if they make me work hard. It takes a huge chunk out of my day, but after 2 hours of intense stretching, heat and electrotherapy, muscle massage and isometrics, I walk out of the PT clinic as loose as a goose and feeling like a wet noodle, and my pain greatly reduced. Except earlier this week we overdid it and I ended up hobbling out of the clinic with a strained muscle in my leg. I'm back to hobbling around on crutches, but subsequent therapy has helped a lot.

Still, I'm just such an optimistic person that I am enjoying each sunrise and each sunset. And every time I start to feel sorry for myself, I see someone so much worse off than I am. It makes me grateful for what I have. And that's the secret to a happy life. Gratitude. And a glad heart.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Late for an Appointment

Yesterday I had an appointment to take my car to the car hospital to get its air conditioning fixed. My appointment was for 10:00 a.m. I am most definitely not an early riser, so I had to set my alarm for 9:00 o'clock to make sure I got up in plenty of time. I checked, and then double checked, to make sure the clock was set for the proper time, that the alarm button was pulled out properly, then turned out the light and tried to sleep. It was 6:30 a.m. I'd get 2 1/2 hours of sleep. What can I say? I'm a night owl.

Anyway, I was so worried about the alarm that I turned on the light and checked the clock once again, just to make sure the alarm had been set correctly. Satisfied, I turned out the light and fell asleep. What seemed like minutes later, the alarm woke me at 9:00 o'clock. I grabbed the clock and turned off the alarm. I had 45 minutes to get dressed, coffeed up, and out the door for my 10 o'clock appointment.

The next thing I knew, I awoke at 11:30 a.m. with the alarm clock still in my hand. Yes, I had fallen back asleep. I called the shop and told them I'd overslept and could I still take my car in, or did I need to reschedule. They laughed and said I could bring my car in.

Note to self: get a bigger alarm clock!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Books By the Foot

Now I've seen it all. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I just found a Web site by accident called Books By the Foot. They sell hardcover books. By the foot. These books are meant for display, not reading, so titles are not listed. Buyers include interior decorators and homeowners who want to add a whiff of culture to their homes by displaying artistically arranged books. You literally buy the books by the inch, be it 12 inches worth of books or 12 feet (or 100 feet).

You can specify if you want a color scheme, such as all earthtone book covers, or all green or blue books, or maybe you want all vintage-look books. Or how about monochromatic "wrapped" books where all books are wrapped in colored paper according to your color scheme. If you like uniformity, you can buy sets of encyclopedias, or indulge in "boutique" books with theme-type covers, such as African animal prints--zebra, leopard, giraffe, etc. You can buy books by subject matter, or "chopped" books that have had the bottoms lopped off to make them fit smaller shelves.

My personal favorite, one I must admit I very much liked the look of, was the Newspaper Decoupage Accent line, where book spines were covered in vintage-look newspapers. For about $25 per linear foot, you can have this distinctive accent for your bookshelves!

Photo credit: Books By the Foot
I'll admit that I love the look of rows and rows of books lined up artistically in bookshelves, with the occasional knick-knack or treasured memento tucked among the books here and there. That's how many rooms in my house look: lots of bookshelves filled with books and treasures. The difference is that every book was hand-picked by me, and most of them have been read by me. To date, I have over 5,000 books, most of them hardbacks, many purchased for a song from library book sales. I love these books, and love how they give warmth and character to a room. But I do find it a little sad to think of books merely as objects to be looked at but not to be read.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Autumn Approaches

I love summer. I love the warmth that goes bone deep. I love how the sunshine makes every living plant go into Mach 3 overdrive. I love having to wear sunglasses just to go out to the mailbox. I love seeing the temperature climb to 80, 85, and even into the 90s.

I hate that summer lasts only 3 months.

I fear summer is waning here in the sunny Pacific Northwest. After a month of unseasonably hot weather, there has been a subtle shift in the air. Whereas for the past month it's been so hot that some of my windows have remained permanently open, even when I went to bed, the nights have been getting colder. For the first time in over a month since the hot weater hit, I went around the house closing all the windows tonight. The past few days have been coolish and overcast. This evening I had to put on a sweater because my T-shirt isn't warm enough. I just checked the thermometer on the wall in the hallway and it's 66 degrees. Autumn is nearly here.

But ever the optimist, I shall not begin mourning the passing of summer until I have to turn on my furnace for the first time since June.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Slicing and Dicing

I've been such a foodie lately, baking and mixing and stirring, slicing and dicing and stir-frying, sprinkling spices and seasonings with abandon--a little on the food, a little under the arms.  There's nothing nicer than smelling like oregano.

With all this hot weather, the squash in my veggie garden is taking off, with leaves as big as elephant ears, and squash growing so fast you can almost hear it lengthening.  I have yellow crookneck, patty pan, hubbard, and I forget what the other squash is.  Soon I'll be making squash bread and freezing it or giving away as much as I can.  I'll never forget the time my then-new neighbor decided to have a veggie garden--his first--and he ignored my advice about NOT planting zucchini.  Everyone knows zucchini is the kudzu of the Northwest.  I came home from work one day, and all the mailboxes out on the road were filled with zucchini.  A whole line of mailboxes, bulging with obscene green zukes the size of zeppelins.  It was the funniest thing I'd ever seen.  This neighbor was crafty.  He sneaked the zukes into the mailboxes after dark.

I never grow zukes, but I have enough other squash plants to keep me in squash for months. It's amazing how many things you can make with such a versatile vegetable!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Just Checking In!

My poor blog! I've neglected it terribly, but I've been meeting myself coming and going! Just lots and lots of things going on around here. Landscaping the yard, working on the addition to my laundry room and dining room, and remodel of the kitchen soon to follow, dealing with construction debris and dust.  Plus, I've been really busy with my editorial business.  And dealing with incompetent doctors and insurance paperwork. 

So I thought I'd just do a quick fly-by to check in and let the world know I'm still here, still alive, and still busy. Right now, I have Elton John blaring on the stereo and I'm so energized--probably because it feels like we're going to have some thunder and lightning!  Oh goodie!  How I love the thunder and the retina-searing flashes of light.  Of course, with that comes lots of negative ions in the air, which probably accounts for the burst of energy. And with that, I'm going to twirl away from my desk and boogy my way through evening chores on the ol' farm.  Go, Sir Elton!

Copyright-free image of Elton John: (There are some wonderful charicatures of Elton on the Internet, but they are copyright protected, so being the good little editor that I am, I'm using this free one. Thank you,

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Just Positive News!

Nothing new to report except positive news. I just had my second follow-up doctor visit with the surgeon who removed my cancerous tumor last December, and she continues to report that I am cancer free and healthy.  I just found out that I have a retirement plan I'd forgotten all about, and I became eligible to start receiving benefits on January 1 of this year!  After being abandoned by my carpenter, in the middle of a huge renovation project, I am happy to report that a girlfriend who's a carpenter and engineer is going to help me finish.  Two women, wielding hammers and carpenter's levels.  We can do it!  So . . . positive news, all!

Kathryn (my friend) came out Monday and I showed her the plans I had drawn up, then we walked through the new area (enlarged laundry and dining rooms, and soon-to-be-remodeled kitchen.  We made lists of materials we'll need, inventoried tools (between the two of us, we should have all the tools necessary), and discussed something I'd overlooked:  the need to install a huge 16' suppport beam in the kitchen.  It's looking like we can get started in the next few weeks!  I'm looking forward to hanging sheetrock, though doing the ceiling won't be fun.  Right now, the laundry and dining rooms are down to bare studs.

So you see, things are looking up!  And I do believe that summer may finally show its face.  It's been the coldest, wettest fall, winter, and spring I can remember!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Think Positive!

Update on septic problems:  my water conservation efforts have been successful in combatting the septic issue.  (For more info on this problem, see earlier posts, below)  So for now, I'm a hampy capper!

Due to back and foot problems, I've been unable to stay on my feet for very long, and as a result my house is currently a pig sty.  I hate enforced inactivity, and tried to bull my way through the pain with aspirin, but Mother Nature said, "Take a break, kiddo," so I did.  Now I'm getting better and I'm rarin' to go!  It helps that a positive attitude goes a long way toward fixing things. 

I was reminded again today that a positive attitude is half the battle.  It colors your whole world with positive energy instead of gloom and doom. I live by the tenets of an old saying:  fake it till you make it.  Even if I'm not always full of sunshine and light, I pretend I am.  The funny thing is, pretending usually becomes reality.  So my handy helpful household hint for today is THINK POSITIVE!  Today, despite a truckload of setbacks, I am pretending to be as happy as a clam.  As a result, there's sunshine in my soul today.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Strange, Weird, and Just Plain Fun

Okay, call me a skeptic.  I'd heard that during a full moon you can make a broom stand upright on its bristles without support.  I was skeptical, so I tried it myself. And was amazed when it worked!  So amazed, in fact, that I tried it with another broom.  This is so freakin' weird!  That's my Boxer, Asterisk, checking out one of the brooms.  She thinks it's weird, too!

I stood the brooms upright yesterday, and today they are still standing upright. Bizarre.  Would love to know the reason this works during a full moon.  As a test, I'm going to try this again when it isn't a full moon!

Monday, March 5, 2012

How Interesting

I received a visit today from the county health department, inquiring about my septic issues.  Whoa!  I didn't know that when you have septic problems, the septic company that you worked with reports it to the county.  And if the county deems it sufficient enough for a visit, they do just that, to make sure things are on the up and up, and to ask if you have plans to address the problem.

As it turns out, the county guy was super nice, and offered some helpful advice.  Basically, it boils down to this:  if the problem is inside my house, I can deal with it (or not) however I want, but if the problem is outside the house, it becomes a concern for the health department.  That makes sense to me.

My problem is a drainfield that is too small, so when the the drainfield gets saturated, water from my washing machine backs up into the bathtub. So the symptoms are occuring inside the house, but it's a problem I'll eventually have to deal with.

For the time being, I am limited to infrequent use of my washing machine, and I'm being ultra careful about how much water goes down my drains.  When I change the dogs' water bucket daily, the old water gets thrown out the back door.  I'm handwashing delicates in a rubber tub and tossing the old water outside.  I turn off the shower between lathering up and rinsing off.  (Brrrrrr!!!)  Kleenex gets tossed into the burnable trash, not the toilet.  No more washing dishes under running water.  I'm conserving water like mad.  So far, so good.  Let's hope I can put off making any decisions for a while longer!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Septic Woes

Oh dear.  I need a new drain field for my septic system. 
I've had problems for years with sluggish drains, and last year the sinks started gurgling every time I did a load of laundry.  And for the past several months, whenever I did laundry, the wash water would back up into the bathtub.  Recently, I made the horrifying discovery that in addition to flooding the bathtub, wash water has somehow been getting under the bathroom linoleum and saturating the subfloor.  So in addition to replacing my drain field, I'll also have to tear up the bathroom floor and replace it. 

Of course, first I rented a snake and tried to snake out the pipes.  That didn't work, so I hired a plumber.  $300 later, he said it wasn't a plumbing problem.  Next came the septic people, who pumped out my septic tank.  (Another $300.)  They inspected the tank and said that wasn't the problem, either.  The next day, the septic people came out with their camera that can be inserterted down your pipes.  (More money!)  That's when they discovered the problem with my drain field.  And that's when I discovered it will cost $7,000 - $10,000 for a new drain field.  Possibly even more. 

Let me just say one word:  "Ugh."

Like, double ugh. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Craft Room Update

A year ago I put up a post about the transformation of a spare bedroom to a craft room for my rubber stamping hobby.  The craft room is finished, and I forgot that I promised I'd post a picture of the completed craft room.  So here it is!  (See below)  I stitched together 3 photos in Photoshop to get this full picture, so it is a little distorted, but it gives you a good overall shot.

I took this picture several months ago, before the closet doors were put up (storage area to the left of the picture) and before the sink was installed.  You can see the hole for the sink between the studs to the left of the craft table. 

The table is 8' long and 28" deep.  I have plenty of room to spread out when I'm making cards and other craft hobbies.  I love this room.  It overlooks the back yard and pasture, and I get morning light through the window.  It's a very peaceful room, and I've been making lots and lots of cards.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Water! Water! My Kingdom for Water!

It's January.  It's winter.  My water is frozen yet again.  Frozen because the water tank for my well is exposed to the elements, thanks to a renovation project that should have been finished last summer.
Previously, that water tank was housed in an insulated shed.  The shed had to be torn down and the tank moved due to the renovation.  I told the carpenter that the new shed had to be built before winter, to avoid my having to deal without water every time it froze outside.  Alas, the shed never got built, so I am at the mercy of the weather.

But not for long.  I am going to build the shed myself, once I figure out what shed design the carpenter had in mind.  He had built a concrete platform, and moved the tank onto it, then bolted down two studs for starters, but that's all. I'll be buying lumber on Sunday to get started, and pray it doesn't freeze or rain!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Free! Free! Thank God in Heaven I'm [Cancer] Free!

I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer the end of October 2011.  On December 6, 2011 I had a hysterectomy.  The doctor said my tumor was small, and she was so sure they got it all that they didn't take out my lymph glands in the groin area.  On December 9, 2011, the pathology results came in:  the cancer hadn't spread, they got it all, and I wouldn't need chemo or radiation.  I was officially cancer free.  When I got the news, I burst into tears.
I breezed through the surgery like a pro, and recovered so quickly that they sent me home the next morning--just 24 hours after surgery.  My doctor, the anesthetist, and the nurses all expressed astonishment at my quick recovery.  My doc said my positive attitude had a lot to do with it.  (I was cracking jokes even as they wheeled me into surgery.) 

I only experienced mild discomfort during the two weeks that followed, and didn't even use up all my pain pills.  It's now 3 weeks post-surgery, and I feel just fine.  Better than fine, in fact.  While I wouldn't recommend cancer for anyone, I feel I'm a better person for having lived through the shock and fear of discovering I had cancer.  It made me take stock of my life, made me realize that I too often focused on Things That Don't Matter.  It also taught me that I had far more friends than I ever realized.  Friends who came out of the woodwork in droves and surrounded me with love, support, and prayers. 

I am deeply, deeply blessed.  And I am ever so grateful that I am cancer free.