Summer Was A Bummer… But Will Fall Have It All?

Hi everyone! I’m crawling out of my hidey-hole to check in. It has been a wicked busy summer here in Florida! 

We began our summer with Hubby’s health issues taking priority. He developed a diabetic foot ulcer on his right big toe. It was deep and ugly, infected and stinky to boot. He’s been completely non-weight bearing on his right foot since July. Our weekly pilgrimages to Sarasota to the wound center are tiring, and I’d be fibbing big time if I said this hasn’t affected me, too. 

My health has been okay on the surface, but I’m suffering with back pain from lugging his wheelchair around from doctor to doctor. The fibromyalgia has been wildly out of control, and my pain specialist hasn’t offered to help beyond recommending the “nerve block” that I should have had last year. But because Hubby is wheelchair bound for most of his day, he could not accompany me to the appointment. Doesn’t that just figure?

In other news, I’ve checked off a HUGE bucket list item this month with the completion of the first draft manuscript for my first romance novel. The creative writing blog I’ve been working on since before my mom’s passing in 2018 has taken off, and with the addition of a truly gifted editor and wordsmith to my blog team, we’ll be working to edit this behemoth of a book. It truly doesn’t have a working title yet, but I’ve been tentatively calling it Generations. With some luck and a lot of hard work, I might look at indie publishers by the beginning of next year. It’s been a very exciting time around here!

I know I’ve written about losing the cat who saved my life, but I’m not sure I’ve introduced you to the little tortie girl who has filled his paws. This is Bella Grace, my semi-permanent hip attachment.

Bella

She loves to play fetch like Pixel used to, and she is as stubborn as they come. But at night, when I’m alone in the living room concentrating on my writing, she’ll come to me and curl up in my arms. She is 110% tortitude, and I love her that way. That is my favorite picture of her, too. 

Besides everything else going on around here, we’ve had a couple of frightening incidents in our home. The first was about a month ago when a short in the electrical box outside our bedroom caused a small fire under the siding. They evacuated our entire building, including our very freaked-out feline charge. The electrical issues now fixed, we’re looking at new windows in our bedroom and living room some time this winter. I can’t wait. 

I should preface this next part by saying we live on the ground floor of a two-floor apartment building. We’ve had exactly three different neighbors upstairs since we’ve been here; two of those have been within the last year. The current neighbors are supposedly two brothers. One works a night shift and is a day sleeper, the other works normal daytime hours. This means, naturally, that there is noise at all hours of the day and night. I have never met either of the brothers, until last night, that is.

We heard a ruckus (doesn’t that make you think of the Breakfast Club?) upstairs; shouting, a loud crash on the floor that sounded like someone falling, and Hubby heard screaming. So I put my shoes on and I intended to go upstairs. I was going to ask them nicely to keep it down. When I opened my door, the commotion was outside; a different neighbor on the steps with a phone, talking to a 911 dispatch. The neighbor who created the noise laid on the deck outside their front door, moaning in obvious pain. A distraught woman cried over him, muttering unintelligible things, but I could make out, “I’ll never forgive myself.” 

I looked around, I’m sure, with a bewildered look, and asked, “What’s going on out here?” I was more than a little annoyed. That was, until the man lying on the deck said, “I’ve been shot in the leg at point-blank range by a .357.” That made the woman cry harder. In the confusion, I heard him say, “She shot me in the leg.” 

I felt sick to my stomach, to be honest. All the “what-ifs” ran through my head at Cat 4 hurricane speed. What if the bullet came through the floor? What if it would have hit one of us? And then later, wondering what type of liability would come from the apartment if someone was killed or shot by accident through a wall or ceiling. 

My opinion on this is probably controversial to some, but I’m going to say it, anyway. I believe in the second amendment, and in the private citizen’s right to own a firearm. But personally, I’ve always been a little squeamish around them. I’ve never owned a gun, and I’ve only seen one up close two or three times. It isn’t the gun I fear; it’s the person with ill intentions behind the trigger, or holding the knife or other weapon, that worries me. 

That said, everything calmed down last night, and after my nerves settled, I felt fine. It’s something I don’t want to repeat. These incidents are getting way too close for my comfort. But rentals are just not available in our area, and affordable ones are even more scarce. We’re stuck in a brand new lease until next year, anyway. Will we move to a different place next year? I’d love to, but it depends on our financial ability to do so. I’m hoping to downsize (much to Hubby’s chagrin) the beginning of next year. Our space issues in this little apartment overwhelm me. 

That’s about all that’s been going on this year. There’s more, but I can’t disclose it. Not yet, anyway. The suspense will just have to keep y’all curious. I know, I’m evil (not really!)

Hopefully, after the book editing gets underway, I can return some attention back here to this poor, neglected blog. If you’d like to see the project I’m working on, you can find it here. I’m getting ready to start my second generation rewrites within the next few days. I’m so excited about it, too!

Stay well, do good. You have my thanks for hanging here, waiting for my next post. I’ll never take you, my readers, for granted. My prayers go with you!

A Note From Wendy

First, I want to start by wishing everyone in the USA a very happy Independence Day! I hope you enjoy the day celebrating the miracle of America. Please be safe and have the best time!

I want to apologize for my lack of attention to this blog. I have been wrapped up in other writing projects, including finishing up my first romance novel. Recently, I’ve submitted my first written work to a contest worth $20,000 to the first place winner. Do I believe I’m going to win? Probably not. But the experience was worth it, even if I come up empty-handed.

On the Hubby front, I wish I had some good news to report. And I guess in some ways, I do. His Tysabri infusions have been going well with no side-effects. He is fatigued, but that is common with Multiple Sclerosis. The big issue we’re dealing with now is a diabetic ulcer on his right foot. It has grown quite large and deep, almost to the bone. We’re doing all we can, with a wound specialist, to save his big toe. He is completely non-weight bearing on his right foot and currently uses his wheelchair to get around in our increasingly tiny apartment. We desperately need downsizing. That comes later, I’m afraid.

Things for me are going okay. I’ve been dealing with depression the likes of which I haven’t experienced in years. I’ve lived in the deepest, darkest place I’ve been since I freed myself from Cymbalta. But I’m a warrior, and a survivor. I will persevere, and I will never give up. Be assured that I will fight the depression, kicking and screaming, until it finally lifts and moves on. The cats have been designated my “emotional support animals,” though they never leave the house with me. Their job, which they both do well, is performed at home in the evening’s stillness when I’m alone. When all I want to do is cry, Bella and Mercy are both here for me—their rumbly purrs and snuggles are the bandage I need on my hurting soul.

If you are interested in my creative writing projects, and I would welcome your support and visits to both pages, I will link them here. Thank you in advance for visiting both projects!

Whatever struggles you face today, know that I am in prayer for you. Leave comments below, or contact me via personal email. I’d love to hear from you!

The Farmer Legacy, aka Generations.

My page at Vocal.media.

Thank you again for your love and support over the years. Random Thoughts could not be what it is today without you!!

Depression

In talking to a friend yesterday, I admitted I was the last person on earth who should write an inspirational blog. And you know, it’s one hundred percent true. Allow me to explain.

When I was twenty-two years old, a psychiatrist diagnosed me with clinical depression. I am the only one in my family who suffers from it. No one else truly understands the struggle I face every day of my life. For this, I am actually thankful. I would rather no one I love deal with this monster. The depths of despair so overwhelm me that sometimes, it’s difficult to imagine an exit. 

I started Random Thoughts as a snapshot into my life. What am I thinking about? What interests me? What am I passionate about? There are family recipes that I’d like to see live beyond the next generation. The blog has, in many ways, evolved far beyond what I ever imagined it would be. It became a de facto journal for my voluntary opioid taper back in 2018. I write about the other demon in my life: Fibromyalgia, and I write about it at length. I write more about my cats than I ever intended to, seeing as they have their own blog. I’ve memorialized my parents here. They live in this blog and continue to, as long as it remains. 

Though I don’t always update the blog, the Facebook page has been more active for me—it’s easier to write a small blurb than an entire post. The Facebook page, if you haven’t joined it yet, is mostly inspirational. I find memes and meaningful things and repost them with my gems of wisdom. Sometimes I surprise myself with how uplifting I can be. But I seldom follow my own gems of wisdom. Sometimes, I can’t see how it could help me. Me. Wendy. What can *I* gain from it? Most times, my answer is nothing.

When someone suffers from depression, the sunniest day looks like the darkest night. Depression is more than just being sad. It’s a pall cast over someone’s life, one that takes intervention to remove. In thirty years of clinical depression, a handful of those had medical treatment. They replaced the only helpful one I took with the one that nearly killed me. And then it nearly killed me a second time with the withdrawals. Given the choice between opiate and Cymbalta withdrawals, I will take opiates every time. Cymbalta is a hellish drug to quit, and it takes months after the last dose to stop feeling the effects of withdrawal. Never again. Now, I manage my depression with the help of my emotional support animals, Mercy and Bella. I can’t imagine when I won’t need them.

My walk with the Lord has halted. Well, perhaps not completely halted, but I’m not where I want. But I’m tired. I’ve prayed for years for healing that doesn’t come. I’ve prayed for close to three years for deliverance from our financial situation, which only seems to get worse with each passing year. I’m tired of being hungry. Tired of choosing between taking meds and eating. Tired of being broke. Tired of feeling defeated day in, day out, month after month. Am I pathetic? Or pitiful? Maybe a few folks, perhaps stronger in their walk than I, will say it in passing. Because I’m hurting. I’m real. I’m depressed. Maybe I shouldn’t be. But whether or not I’m justified, my feelings are genuine. 

So, you ask, what is my point? Coming clean with you. So I can stop pretending to be okay when I’m not. So I can recognize that I am human, and I’m broken, just like everyone else. So we can realize that we aren’t so different underneath the facades we show. This next year, I will remove my mask, so we can go into this next year of Random Thoughts with a clear mind, and a clean conscience—all revved up and ready to hit the ground running. I wish that for all of you. All of us. 

Even though I’ve said it already, I’ll repeat it here. I wish you all a blessed Christmas and Hanukkah season. I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year, safe and healthy and free of COVID-19. From my family to yours. With gentle hugs, love, and all my gratitude. Thank you for making Random Thoughts as successful as it’s been. I couldn’t have done any of it without you. 

-Wendy


Featured image by Anemone123 from Pixabay

Prayers Are Great, But They Don’t Get Dinner On The Table

This is the time of year when this post has the potential to do the most good, so I am reposting it today hoping it will inspire us to action. Let’s face it… 2020 has been a horrible year by most standards. Let’s finish it with a bang. 

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year, friends.

Original Publication Date: July 2, 2018


By every definition of the word, my husband and I are in financial crisis. We are both disabled adults, both of us are unemployed and neither of us can physically do enough to be gainfully employed. As of last April, we suffered a significant financial setback when we lost a good portion of our income every month, money that we used to buy things we used to take for granted. Things like food, medication, upkeep on our one vehicle, and the ability to save a little for a rainy day. After a year (and then some) of rainy days, even that piddly little savings account is dried up, too. I am not kidding when I tell you we can’t afford to even pay attention. I have overdue hospital bills from last year, for both myself and my 89-year-old mother, whose finances I also manage. I have no idea when, if at all, I can pay on them. My coinsurance on my three most important medications rose this January by 4200%… each. Most months, I am making the impossible decision between feeding the both of us, or taking my medication for that month. Stopping two of the three suddenly could be life threatening, so we all know which takes priority.

My father, who worked in manual labor his whole life, supported a family of six on an 8th grade education. He didn’t have the luxury of finishing school. He was the oldest male child born to native Italian parents. He was expected to help support the family of eleven after the Great Depression began. He never once complained about having to work a skilled trade; the back-breaking labor, the often times too-hot-to-breathe weather in the summer and the bitter cold in the fall. In the winter, there was no construction work in Connecticut, so he and everyone else on his job was laid off. There was nothing my Dad loved more than his family, and we were his life and his reason for working as hard as he did. It pained him, physically, to collect unemployment during his annual lay off, and he would have rather died than take food stamps. His own parents taught him the value of hard work, and the importance of being free enough to support his family. That is, after all, the reason his grandfather toted five children by himself from Naples, Italy to America… to seek a better life.

Being in our current predicament, while I accept full responsibility for years of poor decision making, weighs heavily on me, because I always think back and remember my Dad telling us the value of a job well done. To not be reliant on anyone to provide for us, and he meant the government, was a huge source of pride for him. Many times I catch myself wondering what he would think of me today. Disabled at 38 years old, collecting that government check every month, regardless of whether I had paid into it. The disability is something I have absolutely no control over, but nonetheless, this is a tremendous source of shame for me, and is difficult to bear. I’m sure his words would not be terribly kind., but as always he would have had good, constructive criticism and loving advice.

This, in a roundabout way, brings me to my point. Society at large does not have much empathy for a couple of disabled, childless, unemployed adults. Now I know there are exceptions to this rule, just like every other hard and fast rule ever made. But it has been my personal experience that my statement is true. Our familial status has been the defining feature of whether society deems us “worthy” of saving. No children? Well, then you don’t qualify for x, y and z services. We were even told once, when we were facing homelessness that we could never qualify for Section 8 assistance, because families with children would always bump us down to the bottom of the list. It would take literally years for approval, and we had just weeks. I had always thought that government agencies could not discriminate based on familial status, but obviously that means you need to have children to qualify for goods and services provided by most cities and counties. If they don’t mean that, then the Powers That Be should clarify, because that is what we have been told over and over again. Mean what you say, and say what you mean!

There are a lot, and I mean a LOT, of folks with good intentions in the world, who offer everything from a listening ear to prayers. Both are fantastic, wonderful things to offer someone who is down on their luck, but prayers sometimes just aren’t enough for a person or family in crisis. Yes, they would like someone to care and pray, but also ask when they had their last hot meal. Please, check up on them or call, but also ask how, not if, you can help. Many people in crisis don’t want to be a bother to others, and will seldom volunteer that they are, indeed, in crisis, or have a specific need. Prayers are wonderful, but they don’t work immediately to get tonight’s meal ready, or provide a ride to the store to pick up a much needed item, or watch children so a single parent can go to a job interview, or lend a helping hand with household tasks that a disabled person cannot do without aid.

I think, and I’m guilty of this myself so I will shoulder this as well, we get complacent and put too much burden on God, when WE could actually be His hands and feet, and provide a blessing to a person or family in crisis. It’s easy to say, “I’ll pray for you,” and you’ve fulfilled your promise, but things are still left undone. It’s easy to look at the brokenness around us, shake our fists at Heaven and say, Why Lord? Why aren’t you fixing this injustice? When all along, we could be providing the answer, the fix, ourselves if we are just moved to act. Is it not our duty as Christ followers to feed His flock, and care for His sheep? Did He not command Peter to do these things for Him? How, then, are we any different than Peter? Jesus did not tell Peter to refer these people to the government for care, but that he was to do it himself. So why do we pass the buck when it comes to doing the work He has given us to do? Like I said, I am just as guilty in this way, so I am pointing three fingers back at myself.

As a society, and as Christians, let’s all try to do better.  Though right now we are in no position to help anyone, once this crisis passes, we will both be much more aware of people that tend to fall between the cracks.  I will be prepared to help in ways that I am able, and if not financially, with my time and helping hands. I encourage us all to do the same.  Offer prayers, words of encouragement, and then ask how you can help.  I will do the same, too. Anyway, this has been weighing on me this week, along with other things over which I have zero control. I know He is working on something big for us, and we are in the middle, as always it seems, of a great testimony. I appreciate your audience, more than you know. Thank you for indulging me in this, and for joining me in this part of my walk in life.

Gentle hugs and God bless!

Saying Goodbye (Yet Again…)

As you might guess, the topic of this post might not be completely pleasant, but I need to say it anyway regardless. We are far enough away from the event now where I don’t lose my crackers when I think of it, and so now is the time.  

I don’t really write about the cats very much on this blog since they have their own space on the Internet. Our boy, Pixel, is the topic of this post today, and the extraordinary life he lived. It’s not because he was talented, though he did know how to play fetch. No, the thing that made Pixel amazing boiled down to one event in his and my life. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Pixel came to us on a Tuesday evening, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving actually in 2005. Not quite a year had passed since we lost my first cat, Callie. I was still working at the bank and had been there about eighteen months and I had secured the most coveted spot: the drive thru. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia just a year before and because everything was close I could sit for the majority of the time as I needed. 

With about ninety minutes until closing time, a lady drove through the commercial lane, a box of mewing kittens in the back seat of her old sedan. She casually asked if I knew someone who was looking to adopt a kitten, and I asked if she had a male. This in itself was an anomaly for me, as I tend to prefer female animals (don’t ask me why, I have no idea.) So she reached into the box and pulled from it a scrawny, skinny tabby kitten, the only boy in the litter. “This one,” she said and held him up for me to see.

She pulled forward and I opened the door that we weren’t supposed to open, and when she handed me this kitten, it was love at first sight. Without consulting with Hubby, I took him. He was tiny enough to fit into the deal drawer in the commercial lane and for the most part he was happy to curl up on the back of my neck while I finished my shift. 

The ride home that night was quiet despite the fact I had a kitten in a banker’s box. We didn’t live far from work, and the commute was easy. With my purse in one hand and the kitten in the other, I acted confident as I entered the apartment with my living treasure. 

Hubby was NOT happy nor was he amused about springing a kitten on him that night. We fought about it, but in the end the kitten and I won the fight and he got to stay. He earned the name “Pixel” because he loved to watch Hubby play on his laptop computer. 

While I worked during the day, Hubby bonded with my new little buddy. At the time, Tika was still with us and she mothered him like she did every other kitten we brought home. But she was the queen of the household and Pixel had to learn his place. That said, he never stopped trying to be the top cat. He and Sassy, our purebred Ragdoll, never saw eye to eye and hated each other until the day she died in 2017.

When we lost Tika in 2010 to liver cancer, Pixel graduated to the place of honor in the pecking order, otherwise known as my lap. He was five years old when she passed away. In the months that followed her passing, I was extremely grateful for his companionship, for she left a void that remains to this day, and I suspect it always will.

In the time period between 2010 and 2014, we lived in an apartment we now affectionately call “the ghetto.” Though the property was well maintained, the units themselves were repaired on the cheap, and nothing worked as it should have. We had electrical outlets that never worked, the toilets in four apartments shared one line, so when one clogged up, we were all affected. In short, it was a terrible, miserable place to live.

I don’t speak of this often because many people think I am a lunatic when I describe it, but both Hubby and I sensed an evil presence in the apartment. Whether it was just our unit is still a mystery but the evidence of it was clear. Our marriage experienced its worst five year stretch in those walls. We constantly fought, and I don’t mean just bickering. These were knock down, nearly drag-out fights, screaming at each other until we had no voice. Sometimes I am amazed we survived those years. It was only by God’s grace that we did.

At the time, I was taking a newly-approved medication for Fibromyalgia treatment, an anti-depressant that is still widely prescribed as a first treatment: Cymbalta. At first, the drug did its job but as time progressed it was less and less effective and harder and harder to obtain. My insurance didn’t cover the dose I had been prescribed, leaving me to either pay for an extremely expensive brand-name drug on my own or relying on my doctor for samples. We were struggling financially at the time, so my doctor promised me samples to fill in the gaps that my insurance coverage left. 

I can’t put my finger on what day it was, or what the date was, or even what time of year it was when I decided I had suffered enough pain. I felt worthless being unable to work and I was convinced my father would have been so disappointed in me if he could see what I had become. My marriage was flailing, the relationship between Hubby and my mom was strained, I was missing Tika. I was in tremendous physical, emotional and spiritual agony. 

I do know it was late, maybe one or two in the morning. I remember distinctly looking on my computer to find a lethal dose of oxycodone. I figured out how many of my pills it would take and took that many out of my new prescription bottle and held them in my hand. I remember looking around the room, and I felt a little guilty that hubby would be the one to find me in the morning. I didn’t write a note, I didn’t leave any indication that I was contemplating it. My sudden death would have been a shock to my mother, but even that wasn’t enough to stop me. 

The pills in my hand, I paused a moment. Then Pixel, the cat I rescued years before, set out to rescue me. He did something he had never done before, and he never did it after that night: He got in my face, nice and close, and purred. He rubbed against and licked my face. He poured out every bit of love he could muster and he reminded me that no matter how despondent I was, no matter how sad and worthless I felt that he still loved and needed me. I looked at him, looked at the pills in my hand.  I twisted the top off the medication bottle and put every last pill back into the bottle. Then I held my cat in my arms and cried into his fur until he had a soaking wet patch on his side. 

It was years before I told anyone about that night. We were out of the apartment from Hell, and I remember telling Hubby about it. The look on his face, when he realized he would have been the one that found me, the love of his life, dead from an overdose, broke my heart. We held each other and cried. All the regrets he had that I brought Pixel home disappeared that day. From that day on, Pix had a special place in both our hearts. 

Late last year, we noticed that Pixel was failing to maintain his weight. And though we knew he needed medical attention, we could not afford to bring him. So we did the best for him that we could and fed him. A lot. At first, dry food with its extra calories and protein was helping. He began to gain some muscle mass around his shoulders and backbone again and he looked good. And then after the new year, he got worse again. 

I won’t say I’ve written “at length” about the COVID-19 pandemic but it brought its own set of curses and blessings. One such blessing we never counted on was the stimulus package with payments to each person. I never expected it since we weren’t financially impacted by the virus, but yet we were included, quite by surprise. This was right around the time Pixel was eating close to six cans of Fancy Feast a day, about every 4 hours including during the overnight hours. 

We waited for months for Pixel to tell us that his end was near. We waited for his decreased appetite, the telltale signs of a sick cat, one on his final days. But those signs never manifested. In fact, the longer he went, the hungrier he got. But his behavior was changing in the most subtle ways until it was evident. The final straw for Pixel was when he got aggressive with me in the kitchen over food. We couldn’t risk him biting either one of us, nor could we risk him harming Mercy, either. Hubby and I decided that keeping him in that state was selfish and cruel, and no matter how badly I wanted him to get better I knew he wouldn’t. 

The Friday before Mother’s Day I called the vet to make his last appointment. I told them I wanted one last weekend with him, the chance to spoil him rotten, and for me to make peace with his looming demise. The jury is still out on whether this was a good idea, knowing his last day was coming was excruciatingly difficult. But I did everything I wanted to with him. I got pictures as though I didn’t have a million of them already. I took video of him. I held him in my arms and loved him, despite his protests. 

When we brought him, the vet agreed with us one hundred percent that we made the right choice for him. He guessed, by listening to Pixel’s symptoms and behavior, that he was suffering probable intestinal cancer, starving because his body could no longer absorb nourishment from food. I held him in my arms after two injections of sedative, because in true Pixel style, he was not going down without a fight. And when he breathed his last breath on this Earth and crossed to the Rainbow Bridge, my heart broke into thousands of pieces. 

Pixel was an incredible soul. He will always have a spot in my heart, in my memory. I would not be alive today if he hadn’t been there for me, if he hadn’t come through. He saved not only my life but he saved my family the anguish I would have caused with my selfishness.

Well done, my sweet boy. Well done. 

Checking In (Yet Again)

Hello friends. It has been a long time since I have checked in with you, and much has happened in our lives, so I thought I would bring you up to date now that we are officially more than halfway through this year.

First things first. We are still self-isolating and trying our level best to stay COVID-19 free. I have discovered the wonder of grocery delivery from Aldi, and even after the virus fades away, if it ever does, I will probably still use this service. The amount of energy this saves me is immense, and these days, my energy is at a premium. 

Hubby had some blood work done to determine his next best course of action against the monster known to us as Multiple Sclerosis. The good news is that he is JC-VIRUS negative, which makes him an excellent candidate to receive Tysabri infusions for the foreseeable future. This will hopefully buy us some time without disease progression. 

The frustration since March has been trying to get the VA to cover Acthar for him. He was in an MS flare when we saw the doctor in March for the first time, so he was prescribed this medication to stop the inflammation. It is now July and the medication is just now on the way. Most of the symptoms he had that sparked this treatment have now subsided. The VA has to be the most difficult wad of red tape to navigate. I’m tired of doing everyone else’s job. Rant over!

I was tested for myasthenia gravis in late winter, but I never heard back from the neurologist about the results. I am guessing no news is good news? I truly have no idea. He did tell me, however, that my double vision is caused by something called fourth nerve palsy. My left eye doesn’t track with the right eye, and it causes double vision. The treatment is prism lenses in my glasses. And that’s where it stops. Prisms are expensive, y’all. 

Our big news involves our cat family. My fourteen-year-old boy, Pixel, had been sick for months and truthfully I probably clung to him far longer than I should have. But in May, he began to get aggressive with food. He was constantly hungry but he gained no weight despite a huge calorie intake every day. And when he snapped at me, we realized we couldn’t risk him hurting Mercy or either of us. 

Pixel crossed the Rainbow Bridge on May 11, 2020, after a long illness. I got one last Mother’s Day with him. Someday, I will write a post about his life and the extraordinary event that allows me to write this tribute to him right now. 

Mercy, our surviving cat, has missed him greatly. We knew she would, and adjusting to life as a solo cat has not been easy for her. We waited over a month before we began looking for a kitten to love. 

Almost two weeks ago, I heard about a litter of kittens from the same rescue where we adopted Mercy. One of them, a female, was black and white and looked to be a mirror image of our cat, Abby. So we made an appointment to see her, full of hope and very excited. 

When we arrived, we were told there was a mixup, and our female cat was actually a male. When I asked if she had any female kittens, she pointed to a dilute tortoiseshell kitten they had gotten just a day prior. And when I saw her, I knew she was mine. 

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Miss Bella

Bella came home on July 2, 2020. She is rambunctious, sweet, gentle, loves to play but even more, she loves to snuggle. Bella has a voice and she isn’t afraid to say what’s on her mind. She came to us sick with a parasitic infection and conjunctivitis but she has greatly improved taking her medicine every day. She is technically in quarantine until Friday but she is ready to meet Mercy and take ownership of this apartment. She is bonded with me, and it looks like I will have a cat in my lap every night once again. 

So, that is the news on this front. I hope this post finds you all happy and healthy. God bless!

COVID-19 And The Free Market

In many ways, I suppose it’s a good thing I fancy myself a bit of a germaphobe. Long before the appearance of COVID-19 in the States, I began stocking up on alcohol wipes, hand sanitizers, and antiseptic hand wash. If I was even the tiniest bit worried about it and I wasn’t prepared, I’d be rendered housebound in fear from the lack of supplies available in town. 

So where is all this hand sanitizer, alcohol and toilet paper going? A quick look on eBay suggests that people who have scored big-time deals before stores began rationing are making out like bandits. But that is for those who don’t mind throwing down $30 a bottle for Purell. No, that wasn’t a typo.

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Screenshot from eBay Android App

How about rubbing alcohol? Check out this special deal on a bottle of 91% percent isopropyl. 

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Screenshot from eBay Android App

Toilet paper? I have a few amusing deals in this category. Check this out! 

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Screenshot from eBay Android App

Dang, not even Charmin at that low, low price? Cheap, generic sandpaper for $14.95 a roll. Not a pack, a roll. Let that sink in. 

Or this deal, by this enterprising person.

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Screenshot from eBay Android App

 

Yes, you read that correctly. A square of toilet paper. One. A single sheet. And, you don’t get the Sharpie, which adds insult to injury. 

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Screenshot from eBay Android App

At least you get free shipping. But you can take comfort in the fact that three people have purchased one square of TP in the last 24 hours, but only if you were NOT one of those three people.

How about facial tissues? Kleenex, the antiviral kind, the granddaddy of all Kleenex, is available at this fantastic price.

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Screenshot from eBay Android App

What a deal. God bless capitalism. <end sarcasm>

The hysteria over COVID-19 has well surpassed any hurricane prep I have ever seen in my adult life. A friend shared this picture of her local grocery store in the dry ramen aisle. 

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Photo Credit: Rhapsody via Discord at H-E-B Supermarket

Here’s one from the meat counter!  This is impressive. 

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Photo Credit: Rhapsody via Discord and ABC 13 Houston at H-E-B Supermarket

And the bread aisle.

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Photo Credit: Rhapsody via Discord and ABC 13 Houston at H-E-B Supermarket

Not even during Hurricane Irma prep have I seen this kind of hoarding and hysteria. If you are honestly afraid that coronavirus will kill you, why do you need food? Leave some for those of us who simply need to stock our pantries with everyday necessities, please. 

Even Chewy delayed the delivery of our autoship this month because of COVID-19. As far as I am aware, the feline species is not affected by COVID-19. Now, I understand it affects pet owners and that is why delays occur. But Chewy is not a brick and mortar store. They do literally all of their business by mail, so logically it makes zero sense to me why anyone needs to order additional supplies… by mail… for their pets because they might be stuck in a self-quarantine. 

Now, I realize COVID-19 has the potential to be serious and has already killed thousands worldwide. If you live in the United States, please know you are in the absolute best place to be during this pandemic. We have state of the art health care, top insurers have already agreed to waive copays related to COVID-19 and Medicare Advantage plans have made necessary adjustments to their plans to ensure the most vulnerable are cared for. Everyone just needs to step back, take a deep breath and calm down.

All jesting and sarcasm aside, I hope everyone reading this has taken the appropriate precautions for their family. Do practice basic hygiene and disease prevention you already do during cold and flu season. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and do so often. And I hope everyone stays healthy and well through the outbreak. And remember, God is in control. He holds each of us in the palm of His hand.

I wish you all well.

Multiple Sclerosis Sucks And Blows (At The Same Time)

I realize it has been more than a month (closer to two, actually) since I checked in last with my 100th post on this blog. Since then we have gotten through the holiday season, the kick off of a whole new year, the first full month of 2020 and now the first Super Bowl win for the Kansas City Chiefs in fifty years (Congratulations, by the way!) Though things are going relatively okay with me, and I say this reservedly, other stuff has been happening with my Hubby. If you follow this blog or have read any number of my columns about chronic illness, you will most likely already realize this we deal with not only my Fibromyalgia but Hubby’s Multiple Sclerosis.

For those who aren’t so inclined as to read back through months of tapering, Fibromyalgia or other whiny posts I’ll include a little background on this here. And if this post draws you to this blog for the first time, I will take a moment to welcome you now. I hope you can draw some inspiration and encouragement from the words I have written within. Anyway, back to my synopsis on Hubby. Back in 2015, an irregular MRI was the first clue that Multiple Sclerosis was about to invade our lives and wreak havoc on us. Fast forward to now, a four year old diagnosis of Primary Progressive MS had been relatively stable from a clinical standpoint until his most recent MRI.

The images we received from the imaging center were not clear so the neurologist couldn’t tell with 100% certainty, but together with new symptoms he has experienced over the past few months, it seems likely there is a new MS lesion near the brain stem. This is significant because it is the first lesion found actually in his brain. This of course means that the MS is on the move, it’s progressing though we can’t be sure how quickly, but it also means that we are running out of time to attack this aggressively. Treatments we had resisted up to this point are now on the table, and some things are off because they simply would not be effective any longer. That window has closed.

So, what’s next? A dedicated MS specialist in the private sector who will take over his care and hopefully administer an infusion of Ocrevus. The appointment with the new doctor is coming sooner than we expected, but this is a good thing considering the VA’s tendency to drag its heels on almost everything through the Mission Act. The quicker we can begin the infusion treatments, the quicker we can tell if they are helping. With my own new and worsening symptoms, seeing a neurologist closer to home without the nerve-wracking drive to Tampa a few times a year is helpful.

As far as I am concerned, nothing has changed for me since December. I am still awaiting word on the test for Myasthenia Gravis. As of today, this has not been done, and I’m not even sure it’s been ordered. But I see my own primary care doctor in a week, so this is on the shortlist of things to discuss when it’s my turn to see him. The herniated disk in my back still causes severe pain and seems to be in no hurry to heal, as if it would at this point anyway. The last time I saw my pain specialist, I was informed that I was wise to undergo my voluntary opioid taper two years ago, for if I hadn’t done so, I would have been forced. The dose of morphine sulfate I took two short years ago, the one that sufficiently controlled my pain, is now illegal. Maybe he shouldn’t have told me this, but he did, and it infuriates me to no end. How dare they?

Once we see the new neurologist for Hubby in two weeks, I will check back in with an update, when the doctor thinks an Ocrevus infusion is likely, and what his impressions are. Until then, if you are the praying type, we would appreciate and welcome any and all prayers said on his behalf. This was not the news we had hoped for, but in many ways, I think I expected it. But we are both pretty frightened of the future and what it holds from this point forward. Life will be different. How different depends upon what this new doctor determines.

Thank you for reading.


If you know of someone who could benefit from the content in this blog, please feel free to share it. Please keep in mind that I am not a medical professional and as such, I cannot give medical advice. I can only share my personal experiences with chronic illness. Please do not misconstrue my experience for advice.

What I can offer is an ear, a word of encouragement and a smile, which I offer in abundance.

Featured image credit: Pixabay

Happy 100th Post, And A Quick Update On Me!

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Image by MatissDzelve from Pixabay

Hello friends! I hope this holiday season finds you all well, happy, and loved. This is a big day because this post is my 100th on this blog! It only took me four years. I have a few things that have been going on with Hubby and me that I’d like to share.

First, I’ll cover Hubby. He’s been dealing with the MS with just a few hiccups in the road. He has had what he describes as ‘jumpy vision,’ which was diagnosed over the summer as nystagmus. The severity of it depends on the day and how tired or fatigued he is. He wears an eye patch when it’s very bad, which luckily isn’t often these days. Prism lenses in his reading glasses are helpful for him. 

I’m a more complex case these days. I have been having some neurological symptoms myself that, if experienced by themselves would be no worry. But double vision, muscle spasms, facial tics, and a brief stint of choking on almost any liquid I drank… all these things together spelled trouble. So on Thursday, I saw a neurologist for the first time in my life. The good news is that he doesn’t believe the symptoms are related to MS. Hallelujah! 

The not-so-great part of the visit comes in two acts, so to speak. First, he believes he has found the cause for the double vision. It is called fourth nerve palsy, which basically means muscles in my left eye are weak or paralyzed. He was able to detect a tracking issue, meaning my left and right eyes don’t move together as they should. This causes the double vision. The diagnosis is somewhat good, and treatment is possible if only I can afford the fix. Prism lenses in my own glasses can potentially help. The problem is the cost. My best guess and estimates go anywhere from $900 to $1500 for a pair of prism lenses. Yes, I had to pick my bottom jaw off the floor, too. This reaction is totally normal, I’m told.

The second act? I will be tested for Myasthenia Gravis, an autoimmune disorder that affects muscles in the face, hands, legs, arms. So I’m not totally out of the autoimmune woods yet, but I don’t really anticipate this will come back positive. Other than the double vision, I have no other symptoms of this specifically. If the blood tests come back positive for the antibodies, however, that opens up a whole new can of worms. Tests, possible surgery, and medications that I don’t want. The good news is, if the tests show a tumor on the thymus gland, having it removed is curative for MG. Double-edged sword on that one, though, seeing as I’ve never had surgery in my fifty years. I guess I have to start somewhere. 

So what does it all mean? Right now, nothing. To borrow my mom’s cardiologist’s description, we’re marching in place. Testing will be ordered, but until then, there’s nothing to worry about. It’s incredibly difficult for me to give that away. I’m a worry wart by nature. I know whatever happens, God always has my back. Sometimes I’d do a lot better to remember that.

Sorry this is quick, but I thought I’d give an update on the goings-on down here in sunny west-central Florida. If I don’t get back here before the holiday approaches, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. 

Much love and gentle hugs!


A Bittersweet Anniversary

It doesn’t seem possible, or logical at all, that it was twenty years ago yesterday this event changed every aspect of my life.

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I couldn’t have foreseen it, or I would have gone a different route through downtown Salem that morning. I had no idea how wide and how long the impact would be felt outside of that split second where she collided with my little car. And though the damage done to the car wasn’t severe, the lasting damage to my body will last the rest of my life.

Twenty years ago began the next five years of frustration. Anxiety. Feeling as though maybe I was more than a little crazy as doctor after doctor told me the pain was in my head. That I was looking for a free ride and a big payday. That I would become a “self-fulfilling prophecy” if I let myself believe I was in pain. Luckily, this was long before the current hostility toward chronic illness and pain began by way of the opioid “crisis,” or I would have been labeled a drug-seeker, an addict, and a junkie in addition to every other humiliation piled on top of the crap sandwich. Friends walked away, not understanding. I hate to think they didn’t care, but I can’t be sure anymore.

It was years before I could drive down a street and not flinch when someone approached an intersection from my right side. Even today, I can still see the event vividly in my mind’s eye, and it’s bothersome. I have dreams about not only this incident, but about accidents that have never happened. And as recently as three years ago, also in October, we were rear-ended in a brand new car at 6 in the morning. I’m already unsure of myself in the dark, but now I have an irrational fear of driving when I can’t see what’s coming for me.

It wasn’t until Hubby and I moved here to Florida that a compassionate doctor believed that I was telling the truth, that I was still in pain from an automobile accident five years earlier. She diagnosed me on the spot with Fibromyalgia after I presented with all eighteen tender points and textbook symptoms. Finally! Validation that I am (or wasn’t) a complete nutjob. It was the beginning of another long journey.

In 2007, the company for whom I worked suffered a tremendous financial loss and was acquired by another. A co-worker and I were laid off as a result. She and I were in the same department and had similar health issues. Coincidentally, of everyone who worked in the branch office, she and I were the only ones not offered a position in the new company. I won’t give much detail about the last two months of my employment there, other than to say many labor laws were broken. But if I wanted my severance package, I waived my right to bring a grievance against the company. At the time, we needed the severance pay, so I chose it. Looking back with clear 20/20 vision, I know I made a mistake. Live and learn.

I planned to take 4 weeks off and resume job hunting. I had two months’ worth of severance to cover us, and I figured with my qualifications and skill set, I’d find another position easily. But in those four weeks, my body betrayed me in a way it hadn’t before. The fatigue was crushing, the pain debilitating. I couldn’t stand long enough to cook a meal, and upkeep on the house was nearly impossible. And as the end of my unemployment benefits neared, it was painfully clear I would not be able to return to work. My doctor agreed. So later that year, I filed for SSDI. The process from start to finish took almost two full years.

Today, I have been unable to work and 100% disabled for almost twelve years. There are days when I’d give anything to have my old life, the old me back. And then I think of every person who has entered my life because of this stupid disease. I remember how much more I have been blessed because they are in my life. To my fellow Fibro warriors, and you all know who you are, my profound thanks to each of you. I love all of you, and couldn’t imagine my life without you in it.

Other than myself, the one person who has lost and suffered as much, maybe a little more at times, as I have is my faithful, steadfast life partner and soulmate, my dear Hubby. There have been many, many times he could have washed his hands of the mess that Fibromyalgia has wrought on my life, on our lives, but he stayed. For that, I can never say thank you enough. You are my rock, babe, and I will love you until I die.

It’s a bittersweet anniversary.