RA – Cleaning the Floors Just Got Easier

Ok, I make a sucky housekeeper.  On the days that I work, the dishes pile up, then I run them all through the dishwasher on days that I’m off work.  If you want to see my house in good condition, better call ahead (the further ahead, the better).  And you know what?  I try really hard to not care (within reason) that my house is pretty messy.  I do care though, especially when my family comes to visit.  No offense you guys, but you’re judgy!

Cleaning the house sucks a lot out of me.  Washing windows, wiping counters, etc…. for any length of time does my hands, wrists, and sometimes right up to my shoulder and neck in.  I don’t sweep my floors.  I vacuum and Swiffer them.  I have a lightweight vacuum that does a fair job, and seems to be more effective and less stress on my joints than the broom and dustpan (especially since I lost the ability to squat 10 years ago).  This only works on our linoleum and faux wood.  Our bedrooms, stairs, and hallway are carpet, and that necessitates the heavy vacuum, which really can do me in.

Two weekends ago, we had my son’s 10th birthday party.  Well, actually, parties.  He had a Friday night sleepover with 4 boys, then a 2:00 PM party on Saturday with the family.  I cleaned for days, and actually felt ok until Saturday night.  Then, I felt AWFUL for a couple of days.  Ugh.  It probably wasn’t all just cleaning.  There was cooking, little sleep, and a few days later, kidney stones.  I’m sure it all contributed.

Saturday night after the parties, my neighbor came over and told me about her new contraption, the Roomba.  She had a friend who had a large hairy dog, and she was convinced to get one after seeing how well it did on her friend’s house.  I’ve seen them before, but they’re so expensive, and I wondered how effective a vacuum that size could be.  Well, she convinced me, and I convinced my husband.  Yesterday, we went out to Costco and bought a Roomba (one of the cheaper ones, yet still more money than any other vacuum we’ve purchased).  I charged it overnight, woke up this morning, clicked a button, and told it to clean my downstairs.  And it did. And it was wonderful.  I did a little Swiffer wetjetting over the top of it, and it was great.  I am actually impressed.  Of course, I’ve only had it for about 24 hours, but it did a fairly good job, definitely took a load off of me, and I’m completely satisfied with the job it did.  I don’t know about its longevity, but time will tell I guess.  My aunt and uncle got one 12+ years ago, and it’s still going.

Anybody else have a Roomba?  Does it help?

RA- Thyroid Vs. Adrenals

So, if you read my last post, you know I was bitten pretty severely earlier this week. My bite appears to be healing (below is a picture of day 6), although it looks really awful.  It’s been a crazy week.  FOUR doctor visits…. yeah, really.  Only Doc #1 was for the bite.

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Interestingly, as a result of the bite, I think I learned some things about teasing apart thyroid from adrenals.  I thought perhaps both my adrenals and thyroid were doing a bit better, up until the bite.  When I got bit (on the calf, a “lock on” bite that lasted about 20 seconds), I was extremely calm.  I knew there was nothing I could do to stop it or make this student let go, so I stood there and waited.  When it was done, I continued working for over an hour (maybe 2?) until we could get more folks to help, and I could go to the doctor.  By about 30 minutes after the bite, I was shaking, cold, very very irritated, having problems thinking and recalling words, etc…  This had a very familiar feeling.  It felt like I just stepped back in time 2 months to before I started treating my adrenals.  I think my adrenals just took a big whack, as I stood there, as calm as possible during the bite.  Now, I imagine, my cortisol is high again. These are the effects.  I also haven’t had a good night sleep since the bite, and I had been sleeping really well for several weeks.

Doc #2 Endocrinologist (for my thyroid issues):

When my thyroid is off, my RA is off, so it’s something I need to stay on top of.  My thyroid continues to drive me a little crazy. I am now on levothyroxine at 112 mcg (a decrease from 125 mcg) and liothyronine (a T3 supplement, as my body is not converting T4 to T3) at 5 mcg.  They wanted me on 7.5 to 10 mcg, but I just can’t sleep when I take that much.  After 2 1/2 weeks at 7.5, I went back to 5 on my own.

My periods are coming every 20 days, and lasting for 8 of those 20 days.  Thankfully, they’re not real crampy or anything, but they are extremely heavy.  They were up to 26-28 days (my normal is 30) when I was on 125 mcg of levothyroxine.  My skin is super super itchy, my hair is falling out, and I’m constipated.  Ahhh, life is entertaining.  Did I mention that I feel like having my thyroid radiated was my biggest medical mistake in my life?

Now, the good things are, I had been sleeping much better (once back down to 5 mcg on the liothyronine several weeks ago).  I hadn’t been sleeping well in months prior to that.  I had been thinking clearly, not having significant word retrieval issues, not as cold, etc…  I had been thinking these improvements were a result of getting treatment for my thyroid issues, but now I think differently.  These issues all changed within minutes to hours of the bite.  I don’t think my thyroid had anything to do with these improvements. This was adrenal improvement!

I told my endocrinologist (first appointment with my old endo, as I had a different one for 3? visits) about my adrenal salivary test results.  Although she didn’t outright say it, it appeared she thought it to be quackery.  I told her that 3 of the 4 times I was high and 1 was normal.  She told me that I was supposed to be normal/low at night, and that this wasn’t abnormal.  When I told her I was high at night, and the Paleo doc thought this might have to do with my poor sleep, she seemed surprised.  She then wanted to see the results. Now I have to find where I put that paper!

Test results: T4 middle of average range.  T3 low end of average.  TSH low end of average. I’m going to slightly increase my T4 (levothyroxine) 2 days a week to see if that helps my periods, itchiness, hair loss, and constipation.

Oh, and she saw my bite and thought I should be on antibiotics, which I was not prescribed.  She was a bit shocked.  That unnerved me a bit.

Doc #3 The Podiatrist:

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a podiatrist for my RA, but my rheumatologist recommended seeing one, as my 2 little toes are turning inward.  I wanted to get some splints made to hold them in place at night, and he thought this would be the place to go.  Apparently not, and she was not real sure where to get them made either, so I’m going back to physical therapy to get some exercises to do with them and maybe custom splints if the can.  She also wants me to get orthotics for my shoes, although I have to admit that I am very hesitant to do this.  My feet do not bother me when I walk, and we both agreed they look really good for 19 years of RA.  She seems to think my toes are curling a bit.  I think it’s just one toe, and it’s been like that since 1998, and I don’t see much reason to change things now.  We’ll see.  I’ve actually been thinking about trying more minimalist shoes (without much sole on the bottom).

Well, then she ordered x rays, and admittedly they came back quite a bit worse than my last ones in 2006.  I was a bit surprised.  My littlest 2 toes have had a ton of permanent damage since the late 1990s.  That was not surprising.  Now it appears my middle toe does too.  I was not aware of this, and it doesn’t cause me pain to walk.  When she pushed on them, I did note some mild-moderate pain.  There are also some other joints in the report that I can’t even figure out where they are that are having some issues.  I really want to know when that damage occurred.  I was in a horrible flare from Dec. 2005 until 2012.  The last xrays were in 2006 (not sure of the month) and showed no further damage than x rays in 1999.  The current x rays said there was no notable soft tissue damage.  Does that mean my feet are not currently flaring, and this is old damage?  I’m confused.  I will take the report to my PT and try to get a better understanding.  She’s good, and always takes the time with me.

Doc #4 The Paleo Physician’s Assistant (for my adrenal/RA/thyroid issues):

I’m doing better. That’s the cool thing.  I’ve implemented most (but not yet all) of the things she asked me to do.  She asked me to do then one at a time, and I’ve had a few hiccups along the way, so I think that’s ok.  I am now on 600 mg magnesium glycinate, 1,000 IU Vitamin D (she’d like me on 4,000, but I have some worries), a daily B Complex with methylfolate, lots of Vitamin C, going higher carb while I try AIP again.  This time, I am eliminating 1 food at a time rather than all at once.  I removed eggs, and I think that helped a lot with my mental clarity (planning, word recall, etc…).  I cut back on nuts, but haven’t eliminated them yet.  Phosphatidylserine is something I’ve tried twice, but made me feel intensely hungry, barfy, and dizzy.  I will try it again, but that might be a no-go.  There is one more herbal supplement she wants me to try.  Plus more exercise and meditation.  Yeah, I’m just thinking “Calgon, take me away!”

Did I mention that a couple of months ago (around June or July) I got “addicted” to the ibuprofen again?  I wasn’t able to sleep without it pain-wise, and I know it long-term makes my RA worse.  Then I was up to 3-4 a day in early August or so.  Now I am down to 3-4 a week, which is a huge improvement.  Since the bite, I am feeling like I want to take it more.  My RA seems to be a little worse since the bite, but I am trying to stick to my 3-4 per week.  Hopefully my system will calm down again, and all will be well again.

She also looked at my bite, asked me if I was on antibiotics, and was surprised that I wasn’t.  She said that used to be the standard of care.  Again, unnerving.

Something Else I Learned:

The workman’s comp doctor had asked me if I ever had the Hep B vaccine.  I had, as my last job mandated it, back in the late 1990s.  It was a 3 shot series.  The doc called me back after my test results.  They tested me for Hep A, B, and C, as well as HIV.  All were negative, however, I didn’t have antibodies to Hep B, meaning the vaccine didn’t work.  It’s supposed to work for life.  Talking to some of these docs, it is likely that I was too immunosuppressed for my body to have the appropriate reaction to the vaccines.  So now the question is whether to get the vaccines again, get a booster, or give up as maybe it won’t do anything anyway.  This brings into question whether any of these vaccines have worked for me in the past (flu, pneumonia, whooping cough, tetanus, etc…)

I guess that’s about it for the updates. I hope you all are well.

Christmas in Germ City

This Christmas has been crazy.  Maybe they all are, I don’t know.  To explain our Christmas, I have to jump back to Halloween.  Yeah, sit back, this might be a long (but entertaining) story.

My son has been 80+% Paleo since the start of the school year.  He caught a bad cold early on in the school year, and I made him 100% Paleo for a while.  He got over his cold quickly with little other intervention, so we’ve been trying to keep it up.  Then Halloween came, and not wanting to be the Paleo Monster, I let him have standard Halloween junk.  The Thursday after Halloween, we went to a friend’s house for dinner.  We were there for about 2.5 hours, had a great Paleo meal, then left.  On the way home in the car, my son started complaining that his eye hurt.  To make a long story short, a drama unfolded quickly that involved his eye swelling shut, lung inflammation, a trip to urgent care, a nebulizer, and steroid shot.  What caused it, we didn’t know.  We suspected that he had developed a cat allergy (the home we visited had 2 cats, and he was petting them).  Previous allergy testing was negative for cats.

To backtrack even more, my son had horrible allergies and asthma when younger.  He would literally get pneumonia or bronchiolitis every 2 weeks.  This went on for 2-3 years. He vomited frequently (choking frequently with extremely enlarged tonsils that no ENT would take out).  He got to the point where he wouldn’t eat much and got very thin.  Life got better when at age 5, he got those tonsils out.  He’s eating much better (still very picky, but we’re working on it), and the asthma symptoms have been pretty much gone for over a year, and very good the 2-3 years previous to that. Cavan is currently 9.

Back to Halloween.  We went for new allergy tests after this incident to the clinic we’d always gone to, but there was a new doctor.  Tests revealed a very serious cat allergy, a moderate dog allergy (we have a dog that sleeps in his bed, but no cat).  His other seasonal allergies had also worsened, which was surprising given his lack of symptoms this last summer.  This new doctor sent us out the door with 8 medications and orders to find the 4 that best work for him (2 oral, 2 inhaled), plus epipens for the cat allergy, should it happen again.  I was not at all prepared for what happened during this appointment. It was upsetting to say the least.  Cavan needed these medications in the past, but I wasn’t convinced he needed them now.  We’re rarely near cats, and it’s winter (no outdoor allergens).  The other point is that these medication make him cranky, irritable, and sometimes even aggressive.  I don’t want him on 4 medications year round unless absolutely necessary (which this doctor thought it was).

I went for a second opinion with our former allergist who still works for the clinic, but a different office an hour away.  She didn’t think he needed that many medications, but he did have a problem that doc #1 never told me about.  Apparently when Cavan is healthy, he can blow 129% of the lung volume a child his age and size should be able to.  A week after the cat incident, he was only at 86%.  It would have been nice to know that, as he didn’t appear at all sick.  At the allergist #2 appointment (a full month after the cat incident), he could blow 104%.  This is good, but not his baseline.  They gave him 2 puffs on a fast acting inhaler, and he blew 116%.  In other words, a month after the cat incident, he still had inflammation in his lungs.

Allergst #2 (who we love dearly in our family) explained that when boys grow, their bronchial tubes open, and they’re better able to ignore symptoms.  Couple that with the lack of tonsils and adenoids, and it’s very hard to tell when he’s sick.  This doesn’t mean he’s healthy, and she recommended an air flow meter to test him to see if he’s having trouble to determine when he needs an inhaler, as we don’t want to lose lung capacity. She wanted him on a maintenance inhaler for 2 months to see if we could get back to baseline, then we could try to stop.  We started this inhaler (he’d taken it before without issue, but this was a smidge different… inhaled powder instead of liquid) about 2.5 weeks ago.

On Sunday, Dec 14th, we let Cavan have a doughnut at church (something we don’t typically have at our Paleo home, but we let him enjoy such things).  When we got home, he had stomach pain and nausea.  Gluten intolerance, I wondered???  No diarrhea or vomiting.  It passed in an hour or two.

He was fine until Wednesday.  Wednesday, he had his school Christmas party at the end of the school day.  Lots of junk food.  He came home on the bus, immediately parked his butt on the toilet, again complaining of stomach pain.  No diarrhea, no vomiting. It passed in a couple of hours.  Hmmm, gluten intolerance, I REALLY wondered???? 

Friday night into Saturday, he had extreme stomach pain for a much longer period of time.  He had nausea and a little vomiting.  No diarrhea.  He hadn’t eaten any non-Paleo foods.  Weird, I thought.  I managed to get him into the pediatrician on a Saturday.  She thought stomach flu, but couldn’t rule out appendicitis.  She said to give him 5-6 more hours. If he didn’t improve or got worse, she told us to take him to the ER.  About an hour after we left, he was fine. He stayed fine all of Sunday (no doughnuts at church!) and Monday until Monday night.  He and dad returned early from playing racquetball because his tummy was starting to hurt.  Moments later, he was on the bathroom floor in the fetal position, screaming.  We went to the ER.

He walked into the ER, and the nurse took one look at him and handed him a barf bag.  Good call, as a few seconds later, he filled 2 of them.  Sorry to be gross here, but he was in terrible pain, and the vomit was no ordinary vomit.  It was the “out the nose and mouth, forceful, can’t breathe” kind of vomit.  I guessed he would have pneumonia within 24 hours, as this is what he used to do a few years ago.  You could almost set a timer.  The ER did an xray of his belly.  Lot of gas, no obstruction. They did bloodwork. No sign of infection.  His pain was subsiding, but his nose and throat hurt from the vomiting, and he was very stuffed up in his nose.  We went home with the recommendation to see a pediatric gastroenterologist.  The best guess was crohn’s disease (autoimmune inflammatory intestinal disease), which my grandmother had.  NOT good.

After we got home, it occurred to us that perhaps his new inhaler could be causing this.  I googled side effects, and there it all was…. stomach pain, nausea, vomiting.  We stopped it immediately.  Tuesday, he had some slight diarrhea (new symptom), but it stopped quickly.  Stomach pain was decreasing, but he was TERRIFIED to eat anything.  He stuck with gatorade, water, applesauce, bananas, and graham crackers (yeah, I know, graham crackers).  He developed a slight cough, which I had expected to come, given the forceful vomiting.  His Poppop (my dad) came to visit Tuesday for the holiday.  Wednesday (Christmas Eve), he had a good day, good energy, ate a bit for dinner.  We had a party with friends, all went to the zoo lights, and had a great time.  When we got home around 9:00 PM, Cavan promptly stated he didn’t feel well and wanted to go to bed instead of church.  His temp was 100.0.  Oh boy, I thought.  I gave him some ibuprofen and sent him to bed.  He slept well.

He woke us in our room at 6:15 AM, happy it was Christmas and ready for the excitement of the day.  15 minutes later, his temperature spiked, and he literally wouldn’t get off the couch.  Pneumonia in the making, I thought.  He stopped opening presents and started reading his books.  Ibuprofen kicked in a while later, the presents got opened, and life moved on.  Later Christmas day, he started looking very unwell.  103.6 on the thermometer. Time to add Tylenol to get through “the end of ibuprofen, but ya can’t have more yet” time.  We were out of Tylenol.  It was Christmas.  We muddled through.  He ate a little.  No stomach pain.  Harder coughing leading to vomiting started that night. Add to that, my husband started getting some sort of stomach flu.  He spent the night on the bathroom floor (massive vomiting and diarrhea).  What the hell is this?

Friday was a bit better with fever management (Haha!  Tylenol was our first after Christmas purchase).  He had some vomiting episodes that did not appear to be stomach pain related, but rather coughing so hard he vomited.  The pediatrician’s office was not open.  Ugh.

Saturday got a bit worse.  He started complaining his chest was tight (pneumonia?  asthma?) He didn’t sound wheezy though.  His cough was hard and dry and leading to vomit.  His inhaler (not the one we suspected of hurting his stomach) seemed to make him worse.  Urgent Care Saturday night. We had to explain our long story, which ironically started at Urgent Care from the cat incident almost 2 months ago.  His lungs sounded clear (something that would happen as a kid too… hard dry cough, but then would loosen with steroids and eventually you could hear wheezing/pneumonia).  The nurse thought he had picked up the flu from the ER, but he tested negative.  He’s lost 6 pounds (10% of his body weight) in a week. I begged for an oral steroid since he wasn’t tolerating the inhaled stuff.  She gave us that and a cough suppressant.  Cavan spent last night sleeping on a mattress on the floor of our bathroom with 2 humidifiers and intermittent running of the hot shower to keep the steam level up. He slept fairly well, all things considered.  The cough is starting to loosen.  You can hear some phlegm, but there’s also a slight barky quality to it too.

In the midst of it all, I’m the healthiest person in the house (who would have thought?), but am exhausted.  At least there’s tons of Paleo leftovers, and we don’t have to cook! Hubby is feeling better, but not 100% yet.

Hey, if anybody else has heard of these weird symptoms, please let me know.  I’m hoping the pediatrician is open tomorrow.  We NEED some answers.

Love to you all!  Merry Christmas!  Happy almost New Year!

Rheumatoid Arthritis – Priorities

It’s been forever since I wrote a blog post.  I’ve been chugging along, had a great summer, have been feeling good, am doing some experimenting with foods, supplements, etc…  But save that for another day.  Priorities!

For 10+ years, I’ve been thinking about going to see an alternative doctor (functional medicine, naturopath, whatever).  They’re so expensive, I routinely talk myself out of it.  At this point, however, I have some really detailed questions about my body, and I think I might even have some idea as to what’s at the heart of my particular RA, but I don’t understand it very well.  I think now might be the time to find a doctor.  I want one that looks at me not as a sick person, but as a person who is lacking health.  How do I get back the health? 

I’ve been googling Functional Medicine doctors, and I found one with a good foundation in Paleo, and she herself has suffered some of the same illnesses that run in my family.  I plan to make an appointment this week.  In the meantime, I got on her website and downloaded a 15 page intake form.  It asked tons of questions, some of which I never thought about before.  One set of questions asked me to rate priorities in my life from 1-8.  After that, it asked me to rate how I felt I was doing with those priorities (rating 0-3).  I don’t want to copy hers exactly, but I’m going to throw some things out there, some from the questionnaire and others from me.  How would you rate them as a priority (1 being high and 8 being low) and how would you rate how you’re doing with them (0 being not even on your radar and 3 being great)?  Would you add anything else to the list?

  • ___ Longevity
  • ___ Personal Appearance
  • ___ Appearance of your home/car/etc…
  • ___ Relationships with friends and family
  • ___ Sex life
  • ___ Independence
  • ___ Health
  • ___ Maintaining a job/career

Keeping in mind I had a different list, I was rather pleased with how mine came out.  There wasn’t a discrepancy between my priorities and how I was doing with them.  For example, I think appearance was last (8), and I also scored it a 0.  I’m not very happy with my appearance, but it’s also not a priority.  I don’t beat myself up about it.  I don’t routinely get my hair cut, I don’t wear make-up, don’t wear jewelery, I usually wear the same pair of shoes until they wear out, I don’t have fancy clothes, etc…  Now if I had rated appearance from 1-4 or so, and still scored myself a 0 in terms of my satisfaction in that area, I imagine that would create quite a bit of anxiety.  But then there are outside influences, right?  Yes!  And that’s where any appearance anxiety is coming from.  I am much more likely to get my hair cut when I am seeing family (especially my side of the family).  I’m much more likely to buy a new outfit or something if a family function is coming up. 

I don’t think my home’s appearance was on the list, but it’s something that probably ought to be.  I hear so many people with RA having trouble keeping up with their homes and families.  I really don’t care what my house looks like when it’s just my husband, son, and me.  It’s very cluttered most of the time.  Well, I should clarify that.  We do reach levels of clutter that do start to drive me crazy, and that’s generally when things get cleaned up.  With outside influences though, that REALLY REALLY drives up my anxiety.  Having my family come to visit and trying to get the house “suitable” for them (FYI, they ALL have house-cleaners, I don’t) is probably my #1 time to have a flare.  I think the “trying to get it all done” combined with the anxiety (I’ve actually had family members examine my closets!) of what they’ll say, can really do me in.  I really love having my family come to visit though.  I lost my grandmothers in 2004 and 2005 and my mother in 2008.  It’s much harder to get the family together without these matriarchs, but it’s important and I like to do it!

So, here’s an interesting thing to try.  Make a list like the one above.  Rank it in order of your priorities (1-8 or however many you have).  Then rank 0-3 on how you’re doing with them.  For kicks and giggles, make another column and rank where you think outside influences (your husband, family, coworkers, friends, etc…) would put these things.  I think my family would rank home appearance very high (maybe even a 1) and would rank my house a 0 (cluttered mess) on most days.  I think my husband would put “sex life” as a higher priority than I would.

Here’s another thing to think about.  Can we, as folks with RA, rank longevity high if things like careers or home appearance are also high.  Putting ourselves through the kind of stress it takes to “maintain appearances” might be counterproductive to a long life.

So, when we’re sitting here trying to “have it all” and beating ourselves up over every little choice we make, maybe we ought to go back to our priorities.  Everybody’s priorities are different, and I’m sure if I didn’t have RA, health would have a lower rank of importance and a higher rank of how I’m doing with it.  But I do have RA, and my priorities are different as a result.  Other folks may or may not see that, but maybe you can teach them this little game.

I’d love some comments on this post either here or on Facebook (see Facebook link below the picture at the top).  Love and good health to you all!

Paleo – The Picky Eater

My son is an extremely picky eater.  He’s not Paleo, but he does eat mostly what we eat for breakfast and dinner.  The big exception is lunch at school where he usually eats a sandwich and stuff we pack.  I also let him eat cereal sometimes on the weekends. I know, the Paleo gurus would have me thrown in cave-prison or something, but they don’t live here, so they don’t know!

My son had HORRIBLE, and I do mean HORRIBLE allergies and asthma when he was younger, and he wouldn’t eat hardly anything (weight was under the first percentile).  He would often vomit up his food, particularly if it had any kind of texture to it (protein and veggies were nearly impossible).  He eats better now for sure, but he goes in spurts where he complains beyond rhyme or reason about any little thing he “has to eat.”  Yes, I am the mom that MAKES him eat.  You can argue the poor logic on that with me until you’re taking a leave of absence from work because your child has chronic pneumonia from vomiting and aspirating vomit from choking on any food with a texture.  Yeah, it was that bad.

This morning was one of those mornings with a zillion complaints.  He wanted cereal (which he does have occasionally on weekends, but not on a school morning because he gets hungry again in an hour when he eats cereal).  I “made him eat” eggs and bacon as well as strawberries, cherries, and banana with coconut milk on them.  Such a cruel mom, huh?  Well, he thought so this morning.  He told me how he was having a bad day already because I made him eat eggs (which he used to like) and cherries, and he had gotten a time-out for whining and yelling.  On and on about the “bad day” he complained.  On the way to the bus stop, we had a conversation about how his bad day was my good day.  His 8 year old self was actually intrigued by this.  I reminded him about how sick he used to get, reminded him of all of the medicines (2 forms of nebulizers, allergy medicine, steroids, antibiotics, etc…) he used to have to take all the time, how miserable he felt all the time, how he used to get in trouble in preschool during allergy season because the allergy medicine made him so irritable.  I told him that even though he was “having a bad day” because of having to eat these things, I thought it was a good day because he did indeed eat them and his body now has some nutrients it needs.  We talked about how his body needed these things to pay attention in class, to learn, to grow, not get sick, etc… He didn’t believe me about that paying attention and learning parts, so we had a deeper conversation about that and attention problems, and he actually started talking about kids in his class who have those troubles and can’t pay attention.  I reminded him of what happens when he has cereal.  We experimented with that last summer, and he clearly was able to see and understand that he gets hungry and cranky about an hour after eating cereal, while he can easily go to lunch time without issue when he eats a good whack of protein instead.  I also reminded him how right now (March-May) is the worst part of allergy season for him…. tree pollen season.  He has had no medications, no sniffles.  All is well <knock on wood>. 

His uncle is coming to visit tonight.  I asked my son what Paleo dinner we should make.  He didn’t have any good ideas, as he still doesn’t like protein.  I asked him what Paleo dinner he “tolerates” the best, and he said “fish, the pink salmon kind.”  Progress, one step at a time.  My kid tolerates fish.  That’s a celebration.

He hopped onto the school bus still pondering all of this, singing “Let It Grow” from The Lorax.  He seemed to be in a better mood.  I wonder if he’ll talk about it when he gets home today.

Rheumatoid Disease – Perfecting Homeostasis

When I googled the definition of homeostasis, I got this: “the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes.”  I heard this term recently, and thought it to be a great way to think about my RA issues, but there might be a much simpler definition: balance.

I realize more and more every day that I can control so much of my health, especially my rheumatoid.  I know there are many people out there who haven’t taken this journey, but I really believe it can be done.  Will it cure me?  Probably not.  Will it allow me to live many more disability free years?  I think so.  Will it treat my pain and fatigue?  Absolutely!

Here’s part of the deal though. I’m up and down.  The last 6 months or so, I’ve been up and down a lot.  Leg cramps, kidney stones, low thyroid (a medication issue, not really anything I can control as I will need to take the meds forever as I have no functioning thyroid), some RA pains (mild), and lately some reflux (still trying to figure that out!)  Does that scare me or bother me?  A little bit, but not as long as I get back to my balance, my homeostasis.  In my best recent homeostasis, I’m 133 pounds, have a little bit of muscle/strength, no fatigue, no pain, sleep well, feel good.  In my best recent homeostasis, I’m happy, have more energy, and am less prone to a shock to my system.

How do I get to my perfect homeostasis?  I’m not 100% sure, but I’m working on defining it.  I’ve determined that it needs better definition, but I also believe that my perfect homeostasis definitions may change over time.  Right now, I’m thinking about my “best” homeostasis rather than perfect, because I think my “best” can still improve.

Here’s what I know about my best homeostasis:

  • It includes the Paleo Diet, which has impacted my RA, triglycerides, energy, pain, blood pressure, fatigue, weight, liver function, thyroid eye disease, cholesterol, and more all in a positive way.
  • It includes keeping my Thyroid Stimulating Hormone around 1.0 (or crazy things happen to my body).
  • It includes exercise, particularly light to moderate strength work.
  • Good sleep.
  • Near perfection in all of the above

Here’s what I think I know about improving my homeostasis, but I’m still working on:

  • Improving vitamin D level (dang it if I can’t get above 26).
  • Improving magnesium levels (which I hope will improve glutamate issues I have)
  • Juicing.  I think this helps, and I’ve gotten away from it.  I have to revisit.
  • Better gut health, which I think has improved, but still needs work I “think” around fat digestion and gut flora.

Here’s what I’m currently struggling with:

  • Leg cramps, which might be low magnesium.
  • Reflux which might be caused by my magnesium supplement.
  • Getting back to 133 pounds.  I got up to 145 when my thyroid levels tanked, dropped to 140, and have stayed there for quite a while.
  • Getting my stress under control.
  • Getting back to exercising, which I think got messed up when my fatigue kicked in due to low thyroid.
  • Can’t wait until I’m out of work for summer, so I can focus better on some of these things.  It’s so much easier to decrease stress when I’m not working!

Random things that I do to mess up my homeostasis:

  • Sit out in the cold and rain to watch my son’s baseball game
  • Change shoes
  • Get stressed out/take on more than my body’s capability
  • Sleep too much (yeah, I have more issues with too much sleep than not enough)
  • Eat out when my food might be cross contaminated with non-Paleo things.
  • Cheat too much with dark chocolate??? (RA? reflux?)
  • Drink green tea or have balsamic vinegar (hives)
  • Go to bed too early
  • Drink alcohol (seem to tolerate rum better than anything else)
  • Getting cold in almost any fashion
  • Not being perfect
  • Probably thousands more things

About being perfect.  I can’t be.  I don’t think anybody can be.  Sometimes I want to have an alcoholic drink or eat an entire bar of chocolate after a stressful day.  And you know what?  I can, and I do.  I just know it will break homeostasis, and I’ll have to be better the next few days to get it back.  What happens if I don’t get back to my rules?  Well then, my homeostasis will change for the worse, and I won’t get back to the happy place I was.  That won’t work for me.  I make choices daily that determine how my body will react.  If I continue to make the wrong choices, my body isn’t going to be the happy place I want it to be.  So, I try not to make too many wrong choices.  I choose the harder diet and the stricter rules because it pays off.

What’s your best recent homeostasis?  What can/do you do to change it for the better or worse?

FYI, it’s 3:00 AM, and I’m up writing this because I stayed out in the cold and rain at my son’s baseball game.  I got too cold, came home and got in bed too early, and I’ve been awake since 1:00 AM.  I made the decision to get out of bed, as this break in sleep will likely help me have a better RA day tomorrow than sleeping too long.  Decisions.

 

 

The Complete Disconnect

When my son was a year old, we started working on potty training.  He had an Elmo video he liked to watch on the topic.  In it, various Sesame Street characters talked about “listening to their bodies” when it came to things like hunger, tiredness, doing a #1, and doing a #2.  I really liked that video (despite the fact that Elmo’s voice still rings in my ears), and we continue to use those terms with our now 8 year old son in terms of hunger, tiredness, being sick, etc…

Here’s the problem.  Life in America doesn’t work like that.

As I look back on my life when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis/disease back in 1996, I now realize I likely brought this on myself.  How?  I didn’t listen to my body.  In fact, I was quite brilliant at ignoring my body.  For example, I was in graduate school in a tough program that was hard to get into.  Almost every day, I saw people crying under the stress.  I worked at a retail store unloading trailers and stocking shelves.  I started work at 4:00 AM.  Until I got RA, I never took a sick day.  I procrastinated and pulled all-nighters.  I didn’t take the time to eat healthy (although I would argue that my definition of healthy back then compared to now was quite skewed and probably wouldn’t have helped me).  And hey, I was in college.  I’m sure I drank too much and stayed out too late sometimes.  But you know, I also realize that life was so much simpler then.  No kids, mortgage, heavy responsibility.

I can now see that a culmination of all of these stresses likely put me into the situation I’m in now.  Did I mention I have 5 autoimmune diseases?

I become more impressed by my awareness of these things every day.  The Paleo Diet has definitely been helpful.  Depending on if you follow some of these dietary experts (Robb Wolf being my favorite), you will also learn about stress, sleep, and other poor choices that impact your daily health.  I’m accounting for my food intake very well.  I know what I need to do to exercise, although I’m not always perfect about doing it.  I think I do a pretty good job balancing my sleep, although I suspect there’s room for a little improvement there.  But then there’s stress.  Stress is a biggie, and often completely out of my control.  And there has become such a complete disconnect in life in America between my 1996 diagnosis and life in 2014, that I’m not sure what can be done about it.  The disconnect is everywhere.

Cases in point:

I work in a low socioeconomic school.  Somewhere around 95% of our students receive free/reduced lunch.  I would guess about 10% of our kids are homeless, and a significant number aren’t sure there will be something to eat at home.  So, corporate America being what it is has been, has infiltrated the public school system in full force.  Teachers are now measured (and in some local districts paid) based on the performance of their students.  Now, I believe that every child can learn, but I also believe that there are extenuating situations that fly all over our school on a daily basis that even the best teacher couldn’t account for.  Examples: Student’s family loses housing and moves in with relative who lives 60 miles away and doesn’t attend school for 2 months that school year.  Student’s father is in jail and mother is working 2 jobs leaving children home alone to fend for themselves in terms of dinner and bedtime (gosh, that happens a lot).  I could provide so many examples of zillions of sad stories, but the point that I’m trying to make is that being in a low socioeconomic situation puts you at a greatly increased risk of many factors that make school harder.  Yet, the only people who take those numbers apart (you know, the numbers that Johnny didn’t pass the statewide math assessment, etc…) are the teachers.  And they can look at those numbers and say, “yeah, Johnny struggled after this XYZ horrible thing happened, but he did learn all of these other XYZ great things.”  Lawmakers, parents, and community folks want to boil people down to the sum of how they performed on an assessment, when really, community needs to wrap their arms around these children, not fire their teachers (who are leaving the profession in droves). Somewhere along the way, people got mislead into thinking that children’s well-being can be based on a test/s.  How did it get this way?

My husband is having a horrible day at work.  He works from home, so pops out of his office in search of a cup of coffee, stressed to the hilt, face ashen, and physically (I kid you not) pulling the hair out of his head.  To keep it simple, he works for a company that fixes communication systems (phones, etc…) for other companies.  His small company has recently decided that they’re too big to keep their “mom and pop” mentality and spent large sums of money on a program that provided metrics (how many problems each employee received, fixed, how quickly they were fixed, how many contacts were made between the employee and the company who was having the problem, etc…) to the “powers that be”.  As a result of this, the “powers that be” within the company have lost connectivity with the employees, despite all of their data.  The workload has greatly increased, as the employees have vast amounts of “paperwork” to do online to drive the data.  Workers are leaving the company, causing even greater workload to those who stay.  Employees are having heart attacks.  And all the while, employees are being told they need to “get used to change.”  There’s no awareness by “the powers that be” that they may be in danger of losing their biggest contract, because “the powers that be” no longer have the connectivity to the employees working that contract.  There’s no awareness of the increased workload or individual knowledge like the employee who just returned to work after a heart attack stayed up all night to fix a company’s system.  He’s just not used to change, ya know.

Sadly, I think a lot of these “measuring statistics that don’t mean much” issues have come from the medical community.  If you have RA, I’m sure you could think of some examples of this you’ve seen and the impact (how long you wait to see the doc, how thorough or not the appointment, willingness to try alternative methods other than “here’s a pill to fix you,” what medications you can/can’t get based strictly on cost and not side-effects, etc…)

Yet, now we have cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, etc….  We’re as connected as ever, right?  Well, NO!  Hell no!  We have NO face time with people.  That makes life easier, doesn’t it?  Filter out all of the bad stuff, right?  If I talk to Margaret, who just started chemotherapy, face-to-face I might feel obligated to take her some food or run her kids to soccer practice.  If I follow her on Facebook, I can click the “like” button and comment on how I hope she’s better soon, then back to my own life.  That’s not connection.  That’s not contact.  That’s not even expressing an emotion (yeah, your happy face icon isn’t requiring you to actually express or feel an emotion or hold somebody’s hair over the toilet).  At best, technology is keeping us busy with a plethora of information that doesn’t actually mean anything.  We’re just being duped into thinking it does.

So, where does that leave me?  In 1996, the internet was relatively new, and this stuff didn’t matter.  I rode my bike, I got together with friends all the time, especially ones from work.  I volunteered.  Now, it’s hard to keep up.  I find myself seeking opportunities for my son that normally would have presented themselves in my daily life when I was his age.  Back then, we knew our neighbors and looked out for one another.  Now, they hardly come out of their homes, wrapped up in statistics that don’t mean anything, like the news, Facebook, etc…  Disconnected, disconnected, disconnected!  And I am too.  I sit here and write this blog to an audience I don’t know.  Disconnected, disconnected, disconnected.  As a part of my job, I write reports on kids that analyze data, but can’t possibly summarize the entire person, a cog in the wheel.  Disconnected, disconnected, disconnected.

10, 20, 30, 40 years from now, how will we feel about that?

Hope this is reaching some folks.  If it’s making sense to you, pass it on.  I’d love some feedback!

 

 

Rheumatoid Disease – Sadness & Stress

Part of me has always wondered if the way I deal with stress causes my RA.  I internalize things a lot, get very “revved up”, then get exhausted and crash.  This has been a week for that.  This may be a long post, and it’s more of a therapeutic post for me than a true rheumatoid disease post for you, so I won’t be offended if this is not interesting to you.

On Monday, afternoon, our students had left for the day when one of our parents called saying there was a severe high wind, hail, pouring storm heading for our school, and if possible we should leave.  Since kids were gone for the day, I left about 15 minutes early.  It was just barely starting to rain.  It’s about 5 miles on a busy city street with poor drainage before I get to the highway, then 20 miles from there.  Colorado gets severe storms with hail and tornadoes frequently, so this was not alarming at first.  As I was driving down the street, the rain was coming down so hard, it was challenging to see.  There was hail, but it was pea sized, so not too alarming.  But then the wind picked up, and I started seeing large (could easily break through my window) debris flying through the air.  Then, as if out of nowhere, water was EVERYWHERE.  It was deep, and I was expecting to feel water on my feet at any moment.  I wanted to pull off the road, but everywhere I looked was covered in deep water.  It was deep enough that the thought of flowing away was scaring me.  Yet the wind was blowing so hard that I feared a tornado was soon to arrive, plus I was scared to stop.  I kept going with the thought that getting on the elevated highway would get me out of the water, but may leave me more prone to the wind.  I got on the interstate, and there wasn’t a car to be seen.  I suspect there was flooding, an accident, or just a mass of pulled-over folks right behind me on the highway, and I drove like a bat out of hell, considering how much water there was.  I came out the front end of the storm shortly before arriving at home and managed to drive my son home from the bus stop as the storm arrived (much diminished than it was at work).  I later learned 12 inches of hail fell where I was.  I was shaky by the time I got home, and it took me a while to calm my body down, but all was well.  Sort of….

For those of you who’ve never been to Colorado, picture a relatively square state cut in half north to south.  To the west, you have all mountains.  To the east you have flat high desert plains.  The keyword is desert.  Denver, somewhat in the middle of the state, is on the plains with the mountains only a few suburbs away.  This is one of the sunniest places to live in the US and the mountains are beautiful.  BUT… water is scarce, and to make matters worse, it’s been in a drought, complete with many many large scale fires the last 2 years.  To make matters even worse, global warming has caused a pine bark beetle problem.  The mountains aren’t getting cold enough to kill these little buggers, and the mountains are full of millions of dead trees as a result.  Combine this with drought and very hot weather, and you can see why we’ve been on fire for 2 years.  We do get rain, and it generally comes in short (20 minutes to an hour) severe thunderstorms.  Hail and tornadoes are common.  I believe my county is 4th in the US for number of tornadoes.  Out here at my house, our yard is made of clay.  It is mush when it rains, and houses have to be be built carefully because our soil easily shifts.  We don’t handle vast amounts of rain well for that reason.  If it absorbs, the ground is very unsteady.  Mostly, it runs off.  Our average annual precipitation is a mere 16 inches.

Although the news weather folks were calling for rain chances all week, they didn’t raise any red flags that this wasn’t much more than our typical afternoon thunderstorm stuff.  They did say it was an unusual monsoon pattern (monsoon is the term they use for our typical afternoon severe thunderstorm patterns we frequently get in the summer).

We got some more rain on Tuesday, then more Wednesday.  Nothing all that alarming, although our yard was more saturated than I’d ever seen it.

Photo taken from our front porch in 2005.  This is a slightly more severe, but still typical, monsoon afternoon thunderstorm.  To the right is a farm.  Their irrigation canal that runs along the edge of our property, backs up, flooding our road, and it really bad, our driveway.  This flooding probably took about 30 minutes of rain.  It flooded our basement.

Photo taken from our front porch in 2005. This is a slightly more severe, but still typical, monsoon afternoon thunderstorm. To the right is a farm. Their irrigation canal that runs along the edge of our property, backs up, flooding our road, and it really bad, our driveway. This flooding probably took about 30 minutes of rain. It flooded our basement.

Wednesday night, I had family in town, and they all came for dinner.  A weather alert went off, and my 2 uncles and aunt left, fearing flooding of their basement with the extreme saturation we’ve already had.  My dad spent the night, as I was taking him to the airport in the morning. 

Thursday morning, we turned on the news to learn our town had gotten over 5 inches of rain during the night, while Boulder and other areas had 7 inches.  Keep in mind our average YEAR brings us 16 inches.  Things were very flooded.  I got my dad to the airport, passing through 3 minor road floods.  A few hours later, my aunt and uncle who live north of me, took my other uncle to the airport.  They reported the river, which flows through my town all the way up to theirs, was very full, but not flooding.  All day Thursday the reports were coming in.  Boulder, much closer to the mountains, and many mountain communities were a mess.  7 inches of rain, when falling in the mountains, falls down to the mountain valleys where the rivers and roads are.  This concentrated water overflows the creeks and small rivers, washing downhill and out into Boulder, Loveland, and Ft. Collins, all of which are plains communities up against the mountains.  On top of that, Aurora, a southEAST suburb of Denver, far from the mountains, as well as my town, far from the mountains, were flooding.  The rain continued pretty hard all day Thursday, and by afternoon the reports were coming in of mountain communities having all roads washed away.  People, homes, and cars were washed away.  Several entire communities were cut off.  No phones (landlines or cells), electricity, water, or sewer.  Water treatment facilities were overcome and raw sewage was flowing out with the rivers.

My aunt and uncle have an adorable tiny 1 bedroom cabin we visit frequently in the summer.  It’s kind of a hole-in-the-wall place, but it’s right on the river and wonderful for kids.  It’s close to Rocky Mountain National Park.  We love it.  Thursday, morning, my aunt and uncle called their neighbor, who lives there year-round.  As they were speaking, the line went dead.  As far as we know, she and many others are trapped on the wrong side of the river.  News reports have been talking about the plains communities hit, and are not addressing this little town (or many others) in the mountains.  Finally, today, Saturday, somebody managed to get a video out.  It’s so bad, words can’t describe it.  The whole main street minus 1-2 heavily damaged buildings was entirely wiped away.  The Town Hall smashed into the General Store.  The river is partially flowing down what used to be the road.  You can see the people stuck on the wrong side of the river, and you can see a helicopter arriving, which gives me hope they’ll eventually get folks out (doubtful they can land a helicopter in the valley where the people are trapped).  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stghpQxrbUQ

Then, Friday afternoon around 4:00, with little rain falling Friday, new severe flooding erupted.  The high rivers had reached Interstate 25 many miles away (20+ miles?).  This is the main north-south highway through Denver and all of Colorado.  It was closed and flooded.  The flooding moved east, dozens of miles away, where several rivers merge.  People were not warned this would happen.  They were caught off guard.  Mostly farms and small towns, they were inundated with a wall of 3-5 feet high/mile wide/fast moving water with no warning at all.  People ran for their lives, leaving homes, horses, cows, and pets to fend for themselves. While my aunt and uncle were looking for news of their neighbors near their cabin, this flood hit their hometown completely unnoticed by them, who had been watching the news nonstop all day. Luckily, their area of town escaped unharmed.  This flooding was predictable, but people were not warned.  The flooding continues even further east today, with entire towns being evacuated.  This water is still pouring out of the mountains.  We’re anticipating more rain through tomorrow.  An entire week of rain, this has never happened in my 22 years here.

And I want to continue my post and my frustration, but as I write, rain is coming, rivers are rising again, and I need to monitor (for whatever its worth) the news.  More later.

***********************************************************************************************

Storm passed with minimal rain on Saturday at our house.  We had significant rain today, Sunday, but all is well here.

Here are my frustrations.  Maybe I bring this on myself.  Maybe other people feel this way.  Maybe I’m insane.  I’m probably insane.  Well, really, there’s little doubt.

I think that despite all of this technology to keep “connected,” we’re as disconnected as ever.  An enormous part of our state has been flooding, but life went on as normal.  The district where I work (although I don’t work Thursdays and Fridays) didn’t cancel school.  Some schools in that district had to be evacuated on Friday.   The police departments were begging people to stay home, off the roads, out of harm’s way, but school went on as normal, work went on as normal.  Helping your neighbor sandbag be damned, economic productivity is top priority.  Go to work, go to school, ignore the dangers going on around you, ignore the people in need, people need you to go to work and be productive, not help one another.  Watch our newscast, but stick your head in the sand, and DON’T GET INVOLVED, unless, of course, you want to donate money.  As I sit here on Sunday now, the Bronco game is on without even having an update ticker run across the bottom of the screen.  As the Broncos play in another state, we’re having more rain, more evacuations, re-evacuations, and additional towns and counties declaring emergencies.  But here, be entertained, don’t help, watch this.

At least this morning we got word that some of the folks/cabin neighbors we know are cut off are ok.  We didn’t find this through the news or county updates.  We found this through other neighbors, who did get out, completely lost their homes, went back yesterday, and helped zipline people across raging rivers, and later on tweeted who was out and who decided to stay.  Still, some names are missing.

Is that what we’re supposed to do?  Maybe I’m abnormal, but I want to do something.  I have a hard time understanding how folks who have lost their homes and evacuated are able to get back in and evacuate others who are stuck while the county/FEMA/other agencies say “it’s raining, we can’t fly, we’re investigating how we can get in to these people.”

Maybe part of this I bring on myself.  Maybe I shouldn’t watch the news.  Maybe I shouldn’t care.  My grandmother, who had problematic health her whole life, used to say, “I have enough problems of my own.  I don’t need to take on anybody else’s.”  I think about that a lot.  She had severe crohn’s disease and outlived all of my other grandparents to the age of 90.  Maybe there’s a lesson there?

That’s just one issue.  There’s more.

I feel like I’m stuck.  I feel like I’m a cog in the wheel of a life that’s dragging us straight to the depths of hell.  And I can’t get out of the wheel.

How does a state, which has had 2 straight years of severe drought, record breaking heat (the days leading up to the flooding, we were breaking record high temperatures, as we have been the last several years) and fires, suddenly drown in water?  What the heck are we doing to our world that we can go from severe, prolonged, water restricting drought to having an entire year’s worth of precipitation dump on us in less than a week?  FYI, some areas of Colorado have had more than 16 inches of rain this week. 

Here I am, while other have no homes, no shelter, no food, eating my Paleo food in my warm home, typing on my laptop, and driving my car.  Begging pardons for those who don’t believe in global warming (I do), but I think everything I do is damaging our planet.  Every grocery bag, battery, device that plugs in, drive to work, etc… is heating up our planet, and mother nature is reacting.  And here’s the kicker, all of that damage, which I am sure is hundreds if not thousands of miles of roads will need to be rebuilt, bridges rebuilt, homes rebuilt, electrical lines rebuilt, sewer lines rebuilt, phone lines rebuilt, businesses rebuilt will be done.  The remaking of these things will cause further environmental damage, and those poor folks who lost everything will again become cogs in the wheel of damaging our fragile planet.

What if, just what if, everybody had solar?  What if those cut-off folks were able to produce some of their own electricity?  The urgency of this situation of people being cut-off wouldn’t be as great.  Electric lines wouldn’t be as important.  What if people were routinely growing 25% of their own food?  What if you were ALLOWED to have chickens in your back yard?  Allowed to have a garden (follow Oak Park Hates Veggies)?  What if 25% of people had aquaponics?  What if we said, “screw the perfectly manicured grass front lawn,” stopped dumping chemicals all over it, and grew veggies?  Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it?  That’s what my husband says.  Yet, I think he is almost as interested in being self-reliant as I am, but perhaps for different reasons.  I want off the cog.  He wants more security.

Did I mention Colorado is heavily fracked?  We have oil wells all over the place too.  I wonder what happens with fracking and massive flooding?  The Fukushima of the oil world?  I think we’re just beginning to find out…. http://www.denverpost.com/environment/ci_24095949/colorado-flood-evacuations-broken-oil-pipeline-weld-county   At the same token, we have mile-long trains carrying all giant cars full of coal past our town to the power plant every day to generate electricity.  How big is our planet?  How can we continue to burn everything on it?

Did I mention this showed up out my kitchen window Monday morning?  They’re supposedly removing an old oil or gas well.  I’m nervous.  They were supposed to be done 3 days ago.  They, like everybody else, worked through the flooding.  Ok, my pic won’t upload.  It’s a giant towering rig, complete with a flag on top, out my kitchen window, making lots of noise and smoke, and surrounded by lots of cars, trucks, and a trailer.

I went to church this morning to check in with folks.  Basements flooded, barns flooded, church roof was leaking, some, like us, were dry.  Part of the sermon was on the deaths and rebirths we have in life.  It got me thinking about the death and rebirth of my health as well as some other deaths and rebirths in my life. I can’t help but think this somehow related to me getting off the cog.  Or maybe I am insane…. or having a midlife crisis… or maybe I’m right in thinking the world has gone crazy, and I don’t want to be crazy.  Most of all, I’m finding all of this extremely stressful for some reason.  Help!  I’m drowning in my own thoughts!

Definitely insane 8-O

FYI, the Bronco game ended.  The 5:00 news was cut to about 10 minutes, barely mentioned anything of importance on the flooding, and started another show right on time.  Syria.  I guess that’s more important than what’s going on right here, right now.  Pay attention to that, not this.  **** (that was me swearing)