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Archive for January, 2011


You’d be so proud.  I got a lot done today, and it wasn’t all just work done in my head!  😀

The homeschooling game party seemed to go over well.  I figure that we had over 50 people there.  At one point, I counted 37 kids sitting still.  I may have missed a few running around in circles.  😆  Several new people came, and it was wonderful to reconnect with those that have been homeschooling for a while.  Everyone was appreciative, and that makes events so much nicer.  All in all, I can count this as a success.

I also tackled the pile on the counter.  Indeed, I chucked the pile of magazines.  😀 Except for one. 😆  I was mostly through it, but I know I can finish it during the commercials on TV later this evening.  And then I’ll pitch it.

I feel good about what got accomplished today.  I feel like maybe the organization outside of my office is starting to happen. I hope this time it totally takes root and is something we can maintain. I have to say, though, I am totally wiped out. 

What’s on tap for tomorrow has already made it onto the to-do list. Tomorrow looks to be lighter, which I am most appreciative of.  I know that I can’t keep up this break-neck pace for long, and thank goodness the weekend is around the corner.  And there’s a list for that, too. 🙂

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Batten down the hatches! I admit, that is not a term land-locked desert folk are generally known to say –  unless you live where I live. I’m not really joking when I say that we have two seasons: windy, and hot and windy. We regularly have high wind warnings and hurricane strength winds that bring massive sandstorms. Ok, we’re not talking about sandstorm in Egypt where numbers of people die and/or get trapped in it for sometimes weeks at a time. We are, however, in the desert.  And it is windy. 

Hurricane force winds are no joke, and are often a regular occurrence much of the year. During the winter, we have wind warnings like other places have snow warnings.  During the summer, we have wind warnings like others have storm warnings.  Did I mention it’s windy here?

Through the years we’ve lived here, I’ve come to learn a few things about the wind.  First, there is no point in wearing a hat or fixing your hair. Second, it’s not unusual to see people in stores sweeping out the sand from the front door. Third, and perhaps, most important, things get blown around.

If it’s not nailed down, it’s gonna be gone. The sand that is blowing around gets in your teeth and stays there, no matter how much you brush them. Often, there are creatures in the sand that are blowing. The one kind of living creatures I’m thinking about today, having hit one earlier, are tumbleweeds.

Indeed, I proclaim tumbleweeds to be alive.

They are often seen on benches, in addition to climbing trees and fences. 

They often travel herds; surrounding their young and sending the larger/older of the group out in front as a scout. 

Their children, like ours, don’t always listen to direction. They like to hop, skip, and jump, which can result in negative consequences for everyone involved.  😦 

With many of their groups, there is a “black sheep”  that does its own thing.  It dodges out into traffic, or plays chicken with oncoming traffic.  This, too, more often than not, has tragic consequences.

Fortunately for tumbleweed, they multiply rapidly.  Not at the same rate as rabbits, of course, but they are pretty fruitful, all things considered.

Tumbleweed like to travel for the holidays. Sometimes, they have parties.

Sometimes, those parties chasing involve people.  Sometimes, they even catch them!

I believe I have stated my case and given sufficient evidence. 😆

So, the next time the wind is blowing hard, remember you aren’t the only one getting blown around. Chances are, there is a tumbleweed family in that wind with the other stuff, going wherever the wind takes them!

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Duck, duck, duck, GOOSE!  That’s me.  The goose.  I’m it.  Now let’s all run and run and run and run in circles!  🙂 

Does this feel like you?  Ya, me too.  😆 I am once again at home, drinking my pot of tea, and looking over my to-do list. 

Looking down the list, I have come to the sinking realization that I’m “it.”

A very near and dear friend used to live across the street, and we spent a lot of time together. We spent time walking every evening, we sang together a few times, and we talked a lot. Her youngest daughter was the same age as my oldest daughter, and she was homeschooling her older children. She was a great inspiration to me, and was a constant source of encouragement. We moved across town while my oldest was in 1st grade, and the following year we began homeschooling.

This is our 8th year of homeschooling. When we started homeschooling, I knew lots of people with young children who were also homeschooling.  As time has gone by, most of those people either aren’t homeschooling any more, have had their children go to college, or, like my friend, have moved away.  I know of a few others who are still homeschooling kids this age, but it seems like the older they get, the harder it is to find time to get together, because the older kids are busy doing things.

Our homeschooling group here used to do things together; more than just park day. We used to have events and take regular field trips as a group.  We had an email list – that not many people were on – and we had one mother who was the “keeper of the list;” a comprehensive list of who in our town was homeschooling, contact information, and names and ages of children.  Boy, was she organized!  She stopped doing the homsechooling list at some point; I’m not quite sure when.  She’s still homeschooling, though.

It took me a while, but then it hit me that all the people who had been the planners and organizers of the group were no longer doing the things they had done for so many years. And no one else was stepping in to do it!

Being the introvert that I am, we didn’t generally participate in a whole lot of events.  This does not mean my children weren’t socializing, and I’ll go into detail on that in another post, since it’s a rant all to its own.  😆 We went on field trips that fit in with our schedules and went to parties as we could. When I got sick, I spent over a year in bed, and basically lost touch with a lot of people, outside those that I saw regularly or was on the email list with. I think it was during this time that the shift of planning and organizing happened.

Believe me when I say that I am NOT looking for more to do! 😆 I tried to organize a get-together for Christmas, but started too late. So here we are now, at the beginning of January, and the party is happening.  I would have been content to let the idea drop, and just wait for a holiday, like Valentine’s Day.  It was suggested at work (the week before Christmas) that I host the party before registration for the new semester began. I agreed, but the negative feelings started creeping in almost immediately.

In my other work prior to this job, part of what I did was to have monthly meetings.  This involved making monthly phone calls to contacts, usually 20 to 30, sending out reminder emails, and lugging around snacks and several crates of books and other materials. Given that I don’t like making phone calls to begin with, this effort was a stretch for me.  I did this nearly 7 years. In addition to all my other duties.

The bad feeling I get from planning any kind of event is that the amount of effort going into making the event happen – trips to the newspaper for advertising, getting snacks, etc etc – does not always = the reward of people coming.  This time, I have confirmation that several people are coming. This is encouraging to a degree.

The last event I planned was a field trip to the vet’s office. With all the people responding, I wondered if we would all fit! The night before, it happened to snow.  A little bit.  This to me means “a dusting.”  It wasn’t on my radar that everyone would bail because of a dusting of snow.  To be fair, two other families came, so it wasn’t a total loss.  It just wasn’t what had been planned for.

Homeschoolers in general are pretty flexible, in my experience. I don’t know if that means reliable.  One of the main reasons we homeschool is so that we CAN come and go as we please, and not be bound by another schedule.

At any rate, it looks like I’m it.  I don’t mind doing my share, and I feel that getting others connected to support is often *vital* to their success, so in that regard, I am happy to do it. It can be daunting to start homeschooling, and challenging to continue past the first year or two.  I remember being “new,” and having the deep appreciation for those that took the time to share information and experience with me.

Being on the other end of the experience pole, I feel like I have information to share that might make a difference for someone. It occurs to me that maybe I am not without passion and deep feeling of any kind – *this* is a topic I feel *VERY* strongly about.  😆 Another sudden realization I just had is that in my old work, I did *a lot* of writing, daily. Perhaps I do process more of what’s in my head by getting it out on paper than I originally thought. It seems I have missed that particular outlet more than I suspected.

The rest of the week is going to be busy.  I’m going to be more busy than I would like to be. But, I am feeling more and more confident that this event is going to be a success.  At the very least, I’ll be there with my kids and the 4 speakers/presenters I have scheduled.  🙂

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Yes and I don’t know.   I had 9 major items on my to-do list today, most of which involved using the telephone.  I am not a phone phobe, but I admit that I *much* prefer email and other online communication. Calling is rarely something I look forward to doing.

Calling to struggle with medical insurance and billing is never something I look forward to doing. Today was no exception. I always anticipate a solid, uphill battle; rarely actually seeing the results that were supposed to come from the first round of calling.

The result today is a mixed bag. I did get the one bill issue resolved, I think.  She said she deleted the one account addressed to Hunny Me; hopefully it really IS resolved.  On the upside, two bills – both to labs with the same name but different locations – were sent for review when I called a few weeks ago, even though I hadn’t gotten the second bill.  BOTH of these bills were from last April.  Are you kidding me?  It takes 8 months to finally bill insurance?? 

 

While insurance did pay the in-network amount for “reasonable” charges on both bills, there was a substantial amount of the most recent bill that was not deemed “reasonable” by insurance.  *This* part of the billed amount is what the other providers (out-of-network providers practicing at in-network facilities from my post here: 2010) like to use to try to screw over consumers with, in my experience. 

Even though my insurance has graciously paid at the in-network price on the reasonable charge, because the provider is out-of-network, they justify charging you the whole amount because they are not bound to any kind of contract with your insurance.  See how this works?  They could charge you a million and $1 dollars for a Tylenol, and expect you pay the million dollars your insurance has deemed to be not “reasonable and customary.”

Now I get to sit and wait. When it comes to this kind of stuff, that usually means worrying, too.

Was the day a total loss?  I don’t think so.  I think it was a victory to get the one account cleared up, and hopefully that solution sticks.  I made numerous phone calls over several hours; calls that I had been dreading.  I feel better knowing those are off my mental plate.

I also got some work stuff accomplished, which is also nice to get off my mental plate.  I missed my opportunity for a nap today, and my head is pounding. I am hopeful it will not become a migraine.

I haven’t gotten anywhere with the dealing with the stuff issue, as we didn’t get the cubes (see my Stuff  post to know what these are).  We looked at the cubes, but the sale was over, so we’ll wait until they come around on sale again. That might actually give us time to sort through the stuff and get some of it sorted!  😆

I feel good about what I got done today.  It’s a tight time-line, and I need to stay on track. I am a list-maker on days when I have a lot to do.  It’s a good feeling to cross things off that list and know you won’t have to do those again today. Tomorrow, I’ll make a new list, unless I do that tonight so I don’t forget something.  😆 

For now, I am going to drink my pot of chamomile tea, and think about what to make for dinner.   🙂

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Here it comes. I am, not surprisingly, NOT ready.

The new year is upon us. And not just the new year, but tomorrow.  Tomorrow is the return to the hectic pace that is my life. Monday starts with a bang – running, making those dreaded phone calls, doing work tasks, driving children back and forth all over town to activities, etc. Tuesday is more of the same. And Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

It is no wonder that come the weekend, I am ready to shut the world off and just cocoon. I am an introvert by nature, so always going and doing and being around other people is incredibly draining for me. There is nothing I love more than to be curled up in bed, in the quiet of my bedroom, reading a book. I am really hoping next Saturday I get some reading time in.

I have given serious thought to the pace of things in my life. Could I not work? Could I eliminate the other weekly outing during the school year? I suppose I could. I would love nothing more than to not ever have to go anywhere (besides camping, but especially not shopping) and just hang out at home. My ideal life is being in a cabin in the mountains somewhere; living off the land. While being connected to the internet.  😆 Maybe in my next life, eh? 

What would I lose by checking out of society?  My kids would lose, since they are directly affected by both of  those outings. I would still have their stuff on Monday nights. Friday is shopping day, so I can’t stay home then. I could gain a few days of not leaving the house, but given that all my kids are here and schooling, it’s not like I can get the “alone” time I’m looking for.

I also recognize the tendency that both my better half and I have to become complete hermits, if not for our obligations in the outside world. We could live quite happy indefinitely, being hermits together.  With internet.

That being said, I am not sure it does me any favors, removing myself from the greater society. My social skills are adequate.  My job requires interfacing with the public all the time, in a variety of ways. I can do it.  I just don’t like it. In the end, I suppose that it’s one of those other things I “should” do, like taking medication, that I don’t really want to do, but is probably more beneficial than harmful to me.

I’ve mostly lost my faith in the overall human race.  Every now and then, I see a spark of genuine goodness.  I know a lot of people who work really hard at being good; good to themselves; good to others. *Those* people are the reason – in addition to my kids – that I continue the things I’m involved in. If it weren’t for them, I would check out of society completely.

So here’s to Monday.  Here’s to maddening, busy days of weeks that look just like the week to follow, and usually the week before.  Here’s to getting back on the hamster wheel that is life.  And here’s looking to next Saturday, and hoping I can find a quiet spot between now and then!

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In this case, I mean that literally, and not figuratively.  I have pain. As long as I can remember, I have had pain. Right now, I am trying to untangle the pain.

Let me explain.  Being chronically ill with an autoimmune disease – which causes pain – and also being a physically active person (to combat said pain – I need those endorphins!), I am firmly in the camp of “It’s going to hurt anyway, so I might as well exercise.” Something my last batch of doctors said has given me pause. That comment was something along the lines of, “It’s time to start treating the symptoms, and see if we can rid of the pain.”

Two months and a new medication (an NSAID) later, I still have pain.  This is no surprise.  I’ve spent time on anti-inflammatories before, and the prescriptions I’ve taken haven’t ever done anything for the pain. There are pain relievers that are also NSAIDs, and for treating my pain, these kinds of over-the-counter medications seem to work better than just straight the NSAIDs.

The pain I’m thinking about today is my hip pain. December of 2009 was when I first noticed the lingering hip pain.  At first, my one hip only bothered me at night, in bed, while laying on my back.  While initially it hurt to lay on that side, after that split second or two of pain, it started to feel better, which led me to wonder if compression was helping. Another position that brought relief while laying on my back was to kick that leg out sideways from the hip, resting the foot on the inner thigh of my other leg, or somewhere in that general area (like tree pose, while laying down, without the arms over the head).

Observation: There was no pain at that time, while running.  The *only* time I had pain was when I was in bed, trying to sleep.

I should share:  I am a runner.                     

Well, I run.  I don’t know if that actually makes me a runner or not. 🙂 At my peak, between child one and child two, I was running 15 miles a day, between naps. During the morning nap, I ran the first 8 miles.  The afternoon nap gave me time to run the last 7 miles. That all changed, of course, once child two arrived and there was no going to the bathroom by myself, let alone pounding out miles on the treadmill.  😆

After child two, I got into yoga, and did several hours every day. This was something, I learned, I could do and still see, hear and interact with my children, even whilst attempting shoulder or head stands  and other inversions. I seriously considered getting certified and opening a studio, but the work that required would include separation from my kiddos and a lot more time away from home than I had in mind.

These days, I’m home four mornings a week, and I run/cross train 5 miles those days.  I do power walk portions, depending on how I’m feeling, and to give a periodic rest if I need a break from the pain. While the pain is nearly constant, striking does give a spike in the ow-factor. I’ve contemplated adding days or other exercises on the off days, but have not done so because of the hip pain.

I was diagnosed with several bulging discs in my lower back nearly 20 years ago. It took a significant amount of time, but eventually, the tingling and other pain from my posterior down the back of my legs finally went away.  This was a condition that was exacerbated by sitting, so being on my feet and active meant I could continue to function and do pretty well. Through the years, I’ve continued to have spells off and on of the tingling and pain. I’ve had days when a backache kept me curled up in a ball in bed. I’ve had days where I felt pretty good. Until I got sick 3 years ago. It’s been pretty much downhill ever since.

I know that compressed discs in your back can cause all kinds of things, particularly hip pain. Because this pain doesn’t seem to be completely disease related, I wonder: Could it be a problem with my back causing the hip pain? I know people who have been disabled for several months by hip pain that was resolved with very good results through chiropractic manipulation.

After the initial onset of pain, I continued to run. Some days I had no pain. Other days I had a little bit of pain while running at higher speeds and while laying in bed.  Some days, my other hip also had pain. While it was not the same kind of pain and was much less infrequent, it was, on occasion, much more intense.  Go figure.

Over the course of the year, the pain increased to points where it was constant pain; throbbing nearly all the time and radiating down the outside of my thigh. This is where I’m at now. Sometimes it is constant, intense pain. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt as much, or while I’m sitting.  Sometimes the pain doesn’t increase until I run at higher speeds. It always hurts when that side of my hip/leg is touched, even lightly.

Observations: Almost immediately after the onset of pain, there has been noticeable lump in that area. That area hurts <more> to brush against it in addition when being pressed. The pain radiates nearly down to my knee. I don’t have right side hip pain nearly to the same degree, and that pain seems to be focused on the front part of my hip, as opposed to the side. This stuff in my hip was palpable to the docs, who took turns feeling it and wondering what it might be.

Because of my crazy schedule this time of the year, I allowed myself to take nearly two months off.  I wanted to see if resting would help, in combination with the new medication.  My conclusion: not so much.  I don’t know that the new medication has done *anything* to help anything, but it has for sure exacerbated other symptoms. While the hip pain hasn’t been as consistently intense, I don’t feel there has been enough improvement to say either resting or new medication has helped.

“Life as usual” starts back on Monday. That means, for me, one of the first things I do in the morning, after checking email, is get on the treadmill. I warm up with some yoga (in particular, hip openers and gentle stretching) and do about 20 minutes more after running to cool down. While I am looking forward to getting back to my exercise regime, I am not looking forward to the prospect of increased pain.  Which may or may not happen.

At my one last appointment, it was suggested that I might perhaps have some bursitis in that hip. X-rays revealed no degradation of the joints, which was good. But the comment – that the doctors made about treating symptoms – has caused me to apply this thinking to causes of the pain. Is there more than one cause? Could the pain be *not* disease related?

That line of thinking logically led to running, and injuries caused by running. Could this pain be caused by running? There are a lot of hip injuries people have resulting from running. One of those is ITB Syndrome, or Snapping Hip Syndrome. Now I’m left scratching my head. The snapping hip usually causes the bursitis in the hip, as I understand it. 

I have never heard my hip snap, nor have I ever had the sensation that it was snapping. And while I am plugged in and listening to music while I run, my kids, who are always in the same room with me while I’m running, have never mentioned such a thing to me, either. This diagnosis does not seem likely to me.

As I run around in circles with research, I’m left wondering. If I look at this pain and think in terms not of being disease related, I’m left with two possible options: back/spinal related or bursitis.

I’ve seen the suggestion that doing certain Pilates exercises can help these specific pain points. I’ve taken quite a bit of time to look into these exercises for runners, but am unable to find good direction (like those with pictures) on which specific home exercises to use, and when and how many – before running, after running, how many reps, etc. without spending a bunch of money. Money is important to me.  I’ve spent several years blowing a bunch of it on doctors without getting results. I am loathe to throw more money at something without having an inkling of potential success or promise.

So what’s my plan? I’m going to add to my daily routine more yoga poses/Asanas aimed at strengthening and stretching my legs and hips. I’m going to try to add a second session of those poses before bed and see if it helps either the sleep or running situations any. If that fails to give me any relief or tangible benefit after a few months, I’ll probably end up seeing if the chiropractor can help. I wish I could find the cause and have a good, *free* and non-invasive treatment.  I’m not ruling out a shot of cortisone, but that would involve finding a doctor who could diagnose such a thing, and I am not sure I want to get back on that hamster wheel.

And, I’m hoping that if you are reading this article, that perhaps you may have some insight and/or helpful information to share.  Please feel free to comment and share with me!

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