These Vagabond Shoes

November 30, 2008

We had a really nice Thanksgiving with The Ex and his mother.  (She was on her best behavior, by the way.)   It was a very low-key holiday, which suited me just fine.   I was especially grateful to not have to listen to the Obama bashing I’m quite certain was spewing forth from the mouths of my father and brother-in-law.

I’ve been off work since 11:30 on Tuesday.  One of the best things about being off is sleeping late.   For me, “sleeping in” means 6:00 am, or 7:00 if I’m really lucky.  Therefore, I was shocked when I woke up yesterday and saw that it was 10:00 am. I could easily get used to this.

I could also get used to evenings like the one I’m enjoying right now.  After spending seven hours on my feet in the kitchen a couple of days this past week, my body and mind needed to rest.  So, I’ve been sitting here in the family room, knitting in front of the fire, and listening to tunes on my ipod, which is set to “shuffle.”

It’s a hoot to listen to songs that jump from John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” to Cher singing “It Ain’t Necessarily So” (from “The Glory of Gershwin”), to Elvis Costello’s “Oliver’s Army,” to U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love), to “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” by The Temptations, to “Don’t Worry About the Government” by The Talking Heads, to “I Want You,” by Marvin Gaye, to Elton John’s “Burn Down the Mission,” to Radiohead’s “Street Spirit,” to “1999” by Prince, to Nirvana’s “Pennyroyal Tea,” to “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra, to “Invisible” by Modest Mouse,  to Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Something,” to “Jump, Jive and Wail” by Louis Prima, to “Jigga What/Faint” by Jay-Z with Linkin Park, to “Oh Darling” by The Beatles, to Joe Jackson’s “It’s Different For Girls,” to “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane, to “Sea Legs” by The Shins, to “Requiem, Op. 48, Pie Jesu.”

This is the life.

Song of the Day:  This is the Life by Amy MacDonald

“And the songs they get louder
Each one better than before

And you’re singing the songs
Thinking this is the life.”

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Thanksgiving 2008

November 27, 2008

Today I am thankful for the usual things – the love of my husband, family and friends, the joy of pets, having a job that provides health insurance (including dental and optical), a roof over my head and food on my table.  I am also grateful for the kindness of my readers.  The friendship and support you have shown me over the years has helped me get through some really hard times.

I am also very appreciative of the nice comments about my “sharves.”   Some of you suggested that I try to sell them.  I did consider etsy, but I’ve heard that other knitters, far more experienced and skilled than I am, have had disappointing results with their etsy endeavors.

One of my co-workers has expressed an interest in buying a sharf, but I don’t know how much to charge.  Depending on the yarn, the materials expense is only $10 to $15.  The big thing is the amount of work involved.  Creating a sharf is labor intensive – it takes me about a month to knit one.  Any suggestions on pricing would be most welcome.

Sasha, you asked about surplus stock. I have lots of yarn left over (I’m pretty sure I have enough for any of the sharves featured in my last entry) , and I would be happy to knit whatever you want according to your color specifications.   This is just a sampling of my supply of sharf yarn.

Now for Thanksgiving dinner…  For the past several years, I’ve been alternating hosting holiday gatherings with my sister, Michele.  It’s her turn to do Thanksgiving but she didn’t want to invite The Ex and his mother.  Ex MIL  has Alzheimer’s, but that’s not why people don’t enjoy her company.  The truth of the matter is that she’s rude.   What’s worse, she’ll make an insulting remark and then repeat it over and over because she doesn’t remember that the cruel words were already uttered.

Anyway, we always include The Ex and his mother in our holiday plans.   Otherwise, they’d be alone, and I’d feel terrible.  Consequently, we won’t be going to Michele’s this year.  Since I’ll be hosting Christmas, I didn’t want to do Thanksgiving, too.  Therefore, I told The Ex he should do it and he agreed.

So, that’s where we’re going this afternoon.  I’m bringing pumpkin pies (recipe courtesy of Mary), brownies, and a Mexican chili cheese dip that I’d better go prepare before any more time slips away from me.

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Song of the Day:  My Thanksgiving by Don Henley

A couple of you mentioned MonAvie in the comments section recently.  That was the first “unnecessary” expense I eliminated when it became apparent that we would have to do some serious belt-tightening.  Since canceling my “autoship,” I’ve returned to the Land of Deep Fatigue.  Believe me, there are a lot of places I’d much rather revisit, Hawaii, for instance

Seriously, I am so tired by late afternoon, I can barely speak.   One upside to this is that I fall asleep almost as soon as I close my eyes. After all the nights I’ve spent tossing and turning and longing for Morpheus to cradle me in his arms, I have to say that it’s a wonderful thing to slip into slumberland so swiftly.

Unfortunately, I have a problem staying asleep.  I wake up quite a few times throughout the night, for a variety of reasons including pain, my bladder, doggie disturbances and a snoring spouse.  Consequently, I don’t feel rested when I wake up.  Non-restorative sleep affects my pain level, as well.

Anyway, back to eliminating expenses.  Monavie isn’t the only casualty in the budget-slashing massacre.  My Christmas list has been cut almost in half.  Last year, I gave gifts to thirty-three people.   Besides family, there were friends and co-workers (including a Secret Santa) on my list.  This year, the number of gift recipients has been whittled down to eighteen.  (That’s still a large number, but bear in mind that there are twenty-one people in my family.)   Six of those people will be receiving knitted items.

My Friend, mother and cousin are getting a “sharf.”  (I’m keeping some of the shawl/scarves shown below for myself, by the way.)  As you can see, they can be worn in several different ways.

My father, grandmother and ex MIL are getting afghans.

Speaking of Christmas, I’m going to the Christmas Tree Shop in Danbury, CT with my mother early tomorrow morning, so I’d better hit the sack.

Song of the Day:  Goodnight by The Beatles

The Verdict Is In

November 19, 2008

Yesterday, I received this letter from the Director of Human Resources:

I have received verbal confirmation from the District’s physician that the 504 accommodation you requested is medically justified.

You should have already received verbal permission from Ms. Principal to leave the High School during your lunch period as per your accommodation request.  (Uh, no I didn’t.)  Since your lunch period is at the end of the day, it appears as if your normal work schedule provides the accommodation you feel is necessary at this time.   (DUH.  That’s what I’ve been trying to tell her for months.)

If your lunch period changes, or if the nature of your accommodation changes, please let me know immediately.

By the way, I have been leaving ninth period, as directed by my union president.  She said we would file a grievance if anyone tried to stop me, since we are permitted to leave the building during our lunch break.  My fear was that administration would switch my lunch to an earlier period, but I don’t have to worry about that anymore.

Something I do have to worry about is how I’m going to get through tomorrow.  It’s time for Parent/Teacher conferences.  The schedule is different this year.  Instead of working two evenings from 6:30 to 9:00, conferences will start at 1:00 and go until 5:00.  Then we get an hour break.  Conferences will resume at 6:00 and end at 8:00.  That’s a helluva long day, especially for someone with chronic pain and fatigue.  Wish me luck!

Reading:  Just After Sunset by Stephen King

Song of the Day:  The Verdict by Joe Jackson

Slow Wheels of Progress

November 15, 2008

I saw Dr. What Do You Want Me To Do Wednesday morning, and the CAT scan showed that I have sinusitis.  However, since I am not exhibiting any symptoms, he doesn’t want to prescribe an antibiotic.  I guess sinusitis could explain the dizziness, but it’s weird about the lack of symptoms…

Another contributing factor could be the fact that my blood pressure is elevated.  The diastolic number has been over 90 the past four times I’ve had my blood pressure checked.  The doctor isn’t sure if I was dizzy because my blood pressure was high, or if my blood pressure was high because I was sick.  I’m still a bit unsteady, but I do feel better, so that’s something.

After I saw my primary care physician, I had to go to the appointment that was set up by the School District.  At the time that the appointment was made, I thought it was in reference to the worker’s comp case.  This was a reasonable assumption because nurses from that office called me routinely to see how I was doing while I was out of work due to the back injury.  As it turns out, the appointment was in reference to my request for a health-related accommodation.

The consultation went very well.  The doctor seemed sympathetic (which is not something I run into very often), and he even strengthened my case by finding major trigger points I wasn’t aware of.  They are on the front of my lower legs, and could have something to do with the excruciating shin cramps I’ve been experiencing.  District Doc  said he will do what he can to help me get my 504, which should then result in my accommodation request being approved.  It’s about bloody time.

In other news, my mother had her clamps removed on Tuesday, and the doctor told her she doesn’t have to come back for any further follow-up.  She can resume her normal activities, except she is to do no heavy lifting for six weeks.

This whole experience has had a miraculous effect on our relationship.  My mother is very grateful for all the meals I provided, and calls me almost every day to let me know how much she enjoyed whatever it was that she just ate.  She ends these phone calls by telling me that she loves me.    That might not seem like a big deal to those of you with verbally affectionate parents, but this is most definitely not the norm for us.  Although I know all too well that I don’t dare let my guard down, I will try to appreciate this for as long as it lasts.

Song of the Day:  How Long Can It Last by Ani Difranco

My mother was discharged on Friday and is doing well. She calls me every day to tell me how much she is enjoying the food I sent her home with (flounder, sausage & peppers, lasagna, meatloaf, chicken cutlets and apple pie).  She also has chicken soup from Michele, so she doesn’t have to worry about cooking for a while.

Mike, on the other hand, is not doing so well.  He is in terrible pain after his surgery on Friday.  His doctor said it was the worst case of hemorrhoids he has ever seen.

The poor guy is really suffering according to my father, who is pretty shook up about seeing Michael in so much pain.  He can’t bear it, especially after what happened to Mike’s twin, Mark.

As for me, I am still very lightheaded and weak.  This is getting old real quick.  Although I won’t be going back to work until Thursday, I do have to go out a couple of times before then, and don’t know how I’m going to manage it in this dizzy state.

Tomorrow, I have an appointment with the pain management doctor as follow-up for the sacroiliac injections.  I have experienced some relief as far as the buttock discomfort goes, but lower back pain still wakes me up every single day around 3:00 am.

Wednesday morning, I go back to see Dr. What Do You Want Me To Do.  In the afternoon, I have an appointment with a doctor at the request of the School District, in relation to the comp injury.  I don’t really understand the point of that appointment, considering that I’ve been back to work for over a year.  It would make more sense if the appointment was at the request of the Comp carrier, but why the District?  Oh well, whatever floats their boat.

Song of the Day:  Stop The World I Want To Get Off by Gorky Park

I Second That Emotion

November 7, 2008

This sure has been an emotionally draining week.   I’ve had two critically ill family members in the hospital.  (My mother was finally discharged yesterday.)  I’m worried sick about our financial situation.  I was saddened when an historic (117 year old) Church burned to the ground.  A 19 year old man was shot and killed.  I didn’t know him, but I do know his girlfriend and many of his friends.  I invested a lot of emotional energy into the election.

I guess it’s no wonder I ended up with vertigo, or whatever it is that’s making me dizzy.

Yesterday afternoon, I got a call from a nurse at my doctor’s office.  The conversation went like this:

Nurse:  Dr. What Do You Want Me To Do got the results of your CAT scan and he wants to see you.

Me:  Uhh, you’re scaring me.

Nurse:  I’m sorry.  I don’t know the results.  But it can’t be too bad or the doctor would have called  himself.

How comforting.

I told the nurse I already have an appointment for Wednesday and asked if I needed to come in before then.  She said the existing appointment should be fine.

I’m probably worried for nothing but I really do wish I didn’t have to wait so long to find out…

Song of the Day:  A Church is Burning by Simon & Garfunkel

I saw my doctor yesterday and he sent me for a CAT scan.  If the results are normal, I probably have vertigo.   Besides the dizziness, I have a crushing headache.

Dr. What Do You Want Me To Do (for once, he didn’t ask me that) wants me to stay out of work until I see him for follow-up next Wednesday.

In other news, my mother and brother are still in the hospital.  Mike is going to have hemorrhoid surgery on Friday.

I’m going back to bed.

Song of the Day:  Vertigo by U2

My Head Is Spinning

November 5, 2008

It looks like I could  be the next family member in the hospital.  When I got up this morning, I was so dizzy I almost took a header over the top of the staircase.  My vision is unfocused, too.  Unless I feel miraculously better in the next hour, I’ll be taking a trip to the Emergency Room.

There is a bright spot in all this gloom – the election results.  Yabba dabba doo!

Song of the Day:  Dizzy by Tommy Roe

A Pain in the Butt

November 4, 2008

Heartfelt thanks to everyone for their good wishes and words of encouragement.  Your support means a lot to me.  Please keep the positive thoughts coming.

I visited both my brother and mother last evening.  Every day, my mother is sure she is going to be discharged, but her release from the hospital has not yet come to pass.  She has some kind of bacterial infection, and her potassium is dangerously low, so, until those things are under control, she will have to stay put.

As for Mike, he looked good, and said he felt a lot better after being given 3 pints of blood. Apparently, he’s been experiencing rectal bleeding for years.  When he finally decided to go to the hospital, his blood count was so low his condition was listed as critical.

Mike had an endoscopy and colonoscopy today, and it turns out that the bleeding was a result of hemorrhoids, believe it or not.  I am so relieved that it’s nothing more serious.

There is something else to be concerned about, though.  Mike doesn’t have medical insurance, and isn’t eligible for Medicaid.  Also, being a self-employed building contractor, he doesn’t get paid when he doesn’t work.  This is a potentially catastrophic situation for him.  I know his health is the most important thing, but he’s worked so hard for what he’s got, and he’s worried sick that he won’t be able to pay his mortgage and might lose his house.  I hope with all my heart that such a thing will never happen.

Shock of the Day:  My Republican mother, via absentee ballot, voted for Obama! It’s a freakin’ miracle!

Song of the Day:  The Miracle by Queen