Just too cool...

Thinking about my trip to Alaska, and now knowing I can go a day ahead of time to Seattle, I decided to check out what I might like to see while there. If my flights go as scheduled, I should have some time to spare before having to get to the Norwegian Pearl for our cruise. Of course, if they don’t, I won’t have time for any sightseeing while there, but just in case the airlines get it right for a change… I’m looking.

Of course, my first thought is if I’m in Seattle, I can’t miss seeing the Space Needle. Not wanting to gallivant all over town, I decided to check what might be close.

What did I find??? Located in a building at the base of the Space Needle is the first science fiction museum in the world, the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame.

They have several galleries: Homeworld, Fantastic Voyages, Brave New Worlds, Them!, and the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. From looking at the "Science Fiction Museum’s website", it looks like there are more things to see than I can probably manage in one day.

From the top of the Space Needle, to Brave New Worlds… WOW! On a “Cool Scale” of 1 (not cool) to 10 (Super Cool), a Science Fiction Museum has to rate a 12!

I can’t wait!

The Good, The Bad, and The Interesting

The Good: I got a phone call early this morning from the lady organizing the trip to Alaska. As promised, she had been in touch with the travel agency, and to my relief, they said it was no problem if I wanted to fly out the day before the ship sailed instead of the same day. She said I could think about it and give her an answer later as they don’t send tickets until about 10 days before the trip.

I don’t have to think about it, not for an instant. For me, that’s the way to go. I would much rather have to find my own way from motel to ship, and have some time to recover from the plane ride, plus not have to worry so much about missed connections. It would be well worth that little extra I have to do on my own.

She went on to say she wishes she could do the same, but since she’s tour guide, she has to go with the group, and the group will probably leave EARLY the same day the ship sails. They have a 2-hour drive to the airport, and of course you have to get there an hour before your flight, so they’ll probably be leaving in the wee hours of the morning.

More Good, then the Bad: Feeling a little better plus knowing Jonathan didn’t have to be to work until late afternoon, I figured today would be a good time to work some more on the basement. We spent some time in the office, clearing off the table, sorting through stuff, sweeping and otherwise straightening up. Jonathan has his computer there, and I wanted the table to set up my light tent for photographing items to sell on eBay.

Of course there’s a price to pay for all that activity, and that’s where I am now. There’s always some give and take; mostly I give, and the pain takes. Which brings me to…

The Interesting: One of the moderators on a chronic pain list I belong to sent a link to a story on living with a chronic condition. The lady who wrote the story has Lupus, but what she had to say would hold true for anyone with a chronic illness, including chronic pain.

It seems one of her friends asked her what it was like to “be sick” all the time. Her reply is positively one of the BEST explanations I have read of what day to day life is like for someone with a chronic condition.

I hope you’ll read it. If you have a chronic condition, live with someone who does, or just know someone who does, it is well worth the time. Even if you don’t know someone right now who has a chronic condition, the odds are high at some point you will. It may even be YOU. This story will broaden your understanding, and hopefully your empathy for people who must live their life by making more choices each and every day than a healthy person even thinks about.

It’s a little longer than the usual quickie essay, but ”The Spoon Theory” is worth every minute of the time it takes to read it. Thought provoking, enlightening… please, just read it.

I really think you or someone you know will be glad you did.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Backward…

As predicted, there was a major payback for so much physical activity Wednesday, but I was feeling better by yesterday afternoon.

However, I woke up this morning, and pain was on my mind. And in my muscles and bones and… hmmmm…. feels like RAIN PAIN. Earlier in the day I sent an email to a friend and mentioned I felt like I usually do before it rains, but I didn’t suppose it would.

Write this down -- I was wrong! (I know, amazing! Kind of like finding out the Pope is Baptist or something, huh?)

We did indeed get rain. In fact, it rained off and on all afternoon. Mostly just sprinkles, but when we went out to do evening chores and checked the rain gauge, we actually had 3/10ths inch of rain.

Guess it really was and is the dreaded Rain Pain.

In spite of that, I did spend some time in the garden, but mostly I’ve done less physical things like working on the computer. As I sit here on the couch with my trusty parrot by my side, I’ve read my email. There were several nice emails from friends, and I got fantastic news that Richard, Chrystie and Ellie have plane tickets to come visit the last of October. Hooray!

Baby likes to hang out close by her people!

I’ve also done some shopping. Online shopping, oh yeah! That’s the way to shop! No crowds, no lines, no driving, no gas money… just lounge around and check out stuff without ever moving from your easy chair. (How come it’s an easy chair? As in “take-it-easy” or what?)

I’ve got a few things I need to get for the trip to Alaska. (Have I mentioned I’m going to ALASKA!????!!!!!) And I need a decent jacket, a good pair of walking shoes, plenty of batteries for the camera, and well, there’s a list almost too long to contemplate.

There’s much to be done before then.
Yes, I must get serious about shopping.
Cause ready or not, in 50 days, Alaska here I come!

Payback Time!

Yesterday I went on a cleaning frenzy.
Today and probably tomorrow I pay for it.

I started out by giving the parrot’s area a good cleaning. Her space takes up one end of the living room, with a big cage, freestanding recreation center, and another play space on top of a wood heater that’s only used when we have no electricity, and therefore no heat.

The cast iron skillets to the left are there for a reason. They hold down old magazines for Baby to chew on. Everything in the top part of the picture is space for her to roam & play during the day.

Birds are messy, and it takes a while to get everything clean and tidy. Scrubbing bars, getting down on my hands and knees to get the vacuum hose back under the cage… it’s a fairly strenuous undertaking.

I needed a rest after that. But I didn’t rest too long until Jonathan and I got busy cleaning the house. It doesn’t take long to say we swept and mopped floors, vacuumed carpets, dusted, and scrubbed toilets, sinks, counters,mirrors and tubs in the bathrooms, etc. We also ran the dishwasher, and threw the rugs from the bathrooms in the washing machine.

Yes, it took a whole lot longer to actually DO all that than to tell about it.

I definitely was in need of a rest after that. And I did take a break and have lunch and watch a “Murder, She Wrote” rerun. Then I headed outside to throw scraps to the peafowl, top off all the water buckets, and spray out the feed troughs.

Rest again. THEN I had a Piggly Wiggly plastic bag full of green beans our next door neighbor sent over to deal with. I cleaned them and broke them into smaller pieces. Jonathan walked by while I was working on the beans. I mentioned I was glad I didn’t have to string these beans. “Strings!??? How would you string a bean???” Obviously, he's not a gardener. By the time he was old enough to help in a garden, we didn’t live where we could have one any more.

I’d put some honey-mustard chicken in the slow cooker early in the day. With the fresh green beans, creamed corn, flavored rice, breadsticks, and cornbread stuffing I had supper ready. I don’t usually fix quite so much, but it made “planned overs” for Jonathan’s meals at work the next couple of days.

Of course, THEN I had a very messy kitchen to clean up, and I needed to blanch the rest of the green beans and freeze them. By the time the dishwasher was loaded and running for the second time, the counters were cleared off, and the green beans in the freezer, I was one totally tired Tish. And I could already feel the beginnings of payback.

Today will have to be passive physically. My body is rebelling and making it’s displeasure felt big time. Chunking down 3 Aleve at a time barely makes a dent in the pain levels. (I laugh at their commercials that essentially say, “Take ONE Aleve, feel GREAT!” Ha! And again I say, HA!) If I’m lucky, I won’t get to the levels where you feel like banging your head against the wall.

Paybacks are… well, you know!

It's all in the DETAILS...

I’m excited about a trip to Alaska. That’s always been my dream vacation destination. But there are several details about this trip that concern me.

First off, it appears it's going to be a while before we know actual details of flights and the logistics of getting to Seattle. I asked Dad if he knew when we fly out, the day the ship disembarks, or the day before. He had no idea. He gave me the number of the lady in West Virginia who is coordinating the trip and I called her to see if I could get some details.

It turns out, beyond what I can find out for myself on the cruise line’s website, there aren’t any more details to be had. The lady in WV is a go-between for another go-between, the booking agent who takes care of the business for the ship.

Now there is no way I’m getting a straight flight from Nashville to Seattle. One airline favors Dallas or Chicago for connecting flights, another goes for Detroit or Minneapolis/St. Paul. The shortest time I saw from Nashville to Seattle is 7 hours, and 9 hours was common. Even allowing for the time difference between here and Seattle, there’s not a lot of leeway between the time a flight could get to Seattle from Nashville, and when the ship is supposed to sail.

That makes me nervous. We’ve been on too many flights where the connection doesn’t connect. I asked if it would be possible to fly to Seattle the day before the ship leaves, stay overnight, then board the ship the next day. The answer is… who knows? The lady doing the actual coordination of flights is on vacation this week, so the lady who is coordinating between her and the group going from West Virginia can’t get in touch with her until next week. (If that sounds confusing, that's because it is.)

And the flight is just ONE of the details.

I don’t believe I care much for someone else doing the vacation planning. You have to sit around waiting on them to do their thing, accept their final say, and otherwise just go along for the ride. I’d much prefer to plan the ride myself.

Details! I want to know the details!

Home again, home again!

At least for a while....

Here we are, safe at home again. We left Friday morning, and got home Monday evening. I am exhausted!

Yesterday I went grocery shopping, which wears me out, plus there were some outside chores I needed to catch up on. Then Jess and I went to a Farmer’s Credit Bureau Customer Appreciation dinner last night. It was held in a city about an hour away. We left a little after 5pm and weren’t home until 9pm. So I never made it to the computer to make any blog entries yesterday.

And did I mention I’m exhausted??

Not so very long ago I figured once this trip to West Virginia was over, I’d be free the rest of this year to work on remodeling and photography and writing and maybe even… gasp! Resting!

How wrong I was.

Somehow, we’ve ended up with a whole new set of events penciled on the calendar: First we added a visit from Richard, Chrystie & Ellie at the end of October. Then Randy is going to Florida in November for a seminar, and staying on for Thanksgiving at the Sanford home, and why don’t we go too? So we are.

Due to Ellie being sick and our Pigeon Forge vacation last January getting washed out, Richard and Chrystie have a voucher for a cabin there they aren’t going to use, and wanted to know if we’d like to have it. Wow, yeah! So sometime between now and the end of the year, Jess and I are going to Pigeon Forge for a mini-vacation.

And last, but not least! While in West Virginia, my Dad expressed some apprehension about traveling alone on his upcoming trip to Alaska and Canada. So who in the family has the necessary passport to go along? Yep, yours truly is the only one. Jess and I talked it over, and I told Dad before we left Monday that if he’d feel better with someone along, I’d go with him.

I guess he decided he would indeed like company, because we weren’t home long Monday night before I got a call informing me of the details, and the bottom line is I’m accompanying Dad on a trip to Alaska in September.

Wow indeed!

All of these things are great and I’m looking forward to them. But they all take some preparation and energy. And in the meantime, I still need to do all the things I thought I was going to have time for, PLUS getting ready for all the new things. I try not to worry if I’ll be up to all this, and the pain levels will permit me to do the things I need to do, let alone all the things I’d like to do.

So much for a quiet second half of this year!

My Dad's place in West Virginia...

I took some pictures of my Dad's house while we were visiting.The view above is actually the back of the house,
but the driveway comes up to it, so that's where people go in.

The picture below would be the front of the house. It overlooks the highway way down below, and the river across the way. I drove most of the nails in the decking of that front porch. (For those who don't know, my first husband and I built this house. When we made one of our many moves and left, my dad and Mary bought the house and moved there.)

This is the view when looking to the left while sitting on the front porch. These towers are part of the power company down the road.

The picture below shows the Memorial (lower left) to the men who died when the cooling tower collapsed they were working on at the power plant. It's located where the house I grew up in once stood. On the other side of the main highway is the new cemetery, located on land that was once part of our family farm.
You can also see the Methodist Church we attended while I was growing up.
The Ohio River is in the back ground, and of course, Ohio on the other side!

Almost Ready!

We're leaving tomorrow for West Virginia to visit my family. It seems to take me forever to get ready for a trip! Gather some stuff up, rest a while, then work some more.

My list seems endless:
* Make critter care sheets for our farm sitter (aka Jonathan!),
* Gather up camera equipment I want to take,
* Pack up my laptop computer,
* Make sure laundry is caught up and pack up clothes we want to take,
* Snacks and drinks for the trip,
* Water my inside plants,
* Check the eggs in the incubators and remove old eggs that aren’t developing,
* Make up sacks of food for Jonathan to feed the parrot, Baby, each day,
* Get cards out to my Chemo-buddies and military penpals,
* Get my game turn done, since it’s due tomorrow night, and
* Change my email groups to web only, so my mail box doesn’t get clogged up.

That’s just the stuff I wrote down, but there were plenty of other odds and ends I needed to get done.

I also made up two 6-quart crock pots of vegetable-beef soup this week and froze it in individual size containers for my dad. Those will be packed in a cooler tomorrow morning.

We’ll also need to do some other last minute things tomorrow morning before we leave, like morning chores, so we can rearrange the animals to make it easier for Jonathan to care for them while we’re gone. And we’ve got to get all this stuff packed in the car. It’s amazing how much stuff a person needs for just a few days.

My legs ache from being up and about so much, but I’ll be sitting a lot tomorrow, since it’s about a 9-hour drive.

Here’s praying we have a safe trip there and back, nothing goes wrong at home while we’re gone, and Dad got rid of the fleas in his house (long story).

Be back in a few days. So long for now!

Listening to the Legions....

I recently joined a couple of email groups for people with chronic pain. I wanted to see what other people had to say, and how their chronic pain affected their life. It’s been interesting, and stirred up some pretty strong feelings.

On the positive side, it’s a comfort to know I’m not alone. Though I wouldn’t wish anyone to live with pain all the time, since they are, it’s nice to have someone to talk to who understands exactly what you’re saying, no explanation needed. They’ve been there, done that.

But it also makes me sad, not just to know there are legions of people with chronic pain out there, but it seems to be the norm to have a horror story connected to getting help.

I’m angered by the way people desperately seeking relief from debilitating pain are treated. So many are dismissed as hypochondriacs or drug addicts. If the doctors can’t see an obvious reason for the pain, it MUST be “in your head." There couldn’t possibly be a problem if they can’t diagnose it. Yeah, right…

It seems many doctors have such an inflated ego they can’t admit THEY might be the ones with the problem. Just because they can’t figure out the cause doesn’t mean there isn’t one, or that the person they’re supposed to be treating doesn’t have legitimate pain problems.

And the horror stories are legion. Doctors who won’t prescribe pain medications. Spouses who can’t take living with a chronically ill person, so pack up and leave. Nurses who refuse to schedule earlier appointments, “You can just wait,” when the appointment is weeks away and the person without pain medications. Insurance companies refusing to pay for treatments. Doctor after doctor who insist they have “the answer” but it turns out to be just another misdiagnosis.

And getting a diagnosis is often a nightmare. One woman told of living with an eye swelling and bulging out of the socket, nausea and pain, and how could any medical person not recognize there might be a problem with pressure on the brain and order an MRI or something? No, the problem went on for years before one doctor got smart enough to think “brain tumor” and did something about it.

The list goes on and on ad nauseum. There is story after story after story of misdiagnosis, unrelieved pain, and downright insensitive, cold-hearted treatment.

The biggest feeling I’m left with is depression. So many people are hurting and having such a difficult time getting help. Admittedly, sometimes there’s no cure. More often than not the best that can be done is to bring down the pain levels. But even if there’s no way to make the pain go away entirely, every bit of relief is a step in the right direction.

Every person seeking help deserves to be treated with dignity. Where is the compassion in our society? When are medical schools going to start teaching doctors about chronic pain, and to treat ALL their patients as real people, not just a “case”?

Listen to the legions. We need your help.
Listen to the legions. You might learn something.
Listen to the legions. We need your understanding.

Listen, please… just listen.

A Silent Epidemic

A long-time friend from my childhood contacted me this morning. He’d read my blog for the first time, and was amazed to find out I live with chronic pain. Turns out, so does he. We’d renewed communication some time ago, but neither one of us had mentioned this fact in all that time, though the pain has a huge impact on our lives.

It’s just not something you talk about much.

Most people don’t mind talking about being diabetic, or if you have thyroid problems, heart problems, high blood pressure… all sorts of things you can’t tell a person has just by looking at them. But many people with chronic pain don’t talk about it.

It’s not like there aren’t a lot of people out there with the problem. According to an article on the American Pain Society’s website nearly half of all Americans see a doctor with the primary complaint of pain each year. In 2003, it was estimated that 35.5% of the population, or 105 million people in the United States, have chronic pain. Who knows how many more there are by now?

If at least one in three people presently have, or at some point experienced problems with pain, why don’t we hear more about it? Why are we so reluctant to talk about it?

Maybe it’s because you can quantify stuff like diabetes or heart problems and the like. Lab tests and other procedures can give a fairly clear picture of the extent of those conditions. It’s safe to talk about, because you have proof of the problem.

But pain? There’s no test to show how much pain you’re in. How do you prove it’s not all in your head? The doctors ask you to tell them what your level of pain is, using a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being no pain, and 10 being the worst pain imaginable. Only one person can say how bad the pain is, and that’s the person experiencing it.

Since people can’t see your pain, there’s no test to prove you have pain, and about 2/3rd's of the population have little to no concept of chronic pain, then people who DO have chronic pain run up against the constant struggle to explain what it’s like to live with chronic pain, and people who find it hard to believe they can be in much pain, because after all, ‘You look good!”

End result? Lots and lots of people with chronic pain don’t talk about the fact they have pain. Just go about your life, and don’t mention the pain. It’s too hard to explain. Many become more and more reclusive, as pain makes it harder to get out and about, and the added mental stress is just too much.

Organizations like The American Pain Society, American Pain Foundation, American Chronic Pain Society and more try to help people with chronic pain, and get the word out to the public. Pain costs the individual, their significant others and family, and even society as the cost of medical care, lost time from work, and reduced productivity take a toll.

The epidemic is here. Right NOW. People need to hear about it.

Just one of those days…

Some days it’s hard to get going. The fatigue keeps my motor from turning over, and the pain sometimes completely stalls it out. Why is it when I have extra things that need done, I seem to slow down even more?

We’ll be leaving a week from tomorrow for a trip to West Virginia to visit family. I have a bazillion things that need done before then. Okay, maybe not quite that many, but it seems like a LOT.

For instance, I always have to make sure things are caught up and everything in shape for someone else to look after the farm while we’re gone. That takes a surprising amount of time. The laundry has to be caught up so there are clothes to pack and take on the trip, and all the other usual things people do getting ready for traveling.

Yep, there’s just a lot to get done.

The usual list is more than enough to keep me busy, but this time I also need to make some vegetable soup and pepperoni rolls to freeze, pack in a cooler, and take to my dad. Not at his request exactly, but because he’s been wanting some, and the lady who cleans his house and stuff “suggested” to him and me that I should make him some soup next time we visited. Since trying to do that during a short visit would never work, the only alternative is to make it ahead of time and take it with us.

I had planned on getting part of that done today, but my body didn’t cooperate. I can only hope tomorrow is a better day, cause I still have those bazillion things to get done.

And time is running out!



Today marks 231 years of independence. I wonder sometimes what the Founding Fathers would think if they could see the country today. Would they be pleased with how it has evolved, or would they be appalled at some of the things happening now? I’m guessing it would probably be a little bit of both.

I’m not a “my country, right or wrong” sort of person, in that I don’t think everything is perfect here. However, I am patriotic, and I do think the United States is one of the best countries in the world. I am proud to be a citizen of this country. There must certainly be something about the U.S. when you think how many people want to immigrate here!

And why not? For all the things considered, there are many great things about the United States!

We have a remarkably beautiful country. The first verse of “America the Beautiful” expounds on the spacious skies, amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties. There are lovely country landscapes and remarkable cityscapes. There is a diversity of 11 hardiness zones, with 9 of those in the continental states. (Fairbanks, Alaska, with temperatures dropping to 55 degrees below zero adds the colder zone 1, and Honolulu, Hawaii, where it never gets below 40 degrees F gives us the warmer zone 11.)

We have a diversity of people, with many races and cultures and cuisines. We have people in huge cities, and in itty-bitty little towns and out in the rural countryside where the nearest neighbor is miles away. Needless to say, that also provides for a diversity of opinions! People just have different ways of looking at things that reflects their background.

But diverse as the country is, we can unite under our flag when the cause is just.

We can be proud of the men and women willing to serve in the military to protect their country. They don’t make the policies, but they are there to do what their country asks of them. They deserve our utmost respect.

We can be proud of our freedoms, and thank God for our blessings. I could go on and on listing what's good about this country, but I'll just say, “Happy Birthday” to the United States, and God Bless America!