A few of you recently made comments about my lack of updates.   The major reasons for that are:  Fibro fog, Fibro fatigue, and pain (caused by Fibromyalgia, herniated discs, pinched nerves, torn rotator cuff, etc.).  It’s a miracle I can hold a job and get meals on the table.  My online journal, or blog, or whatever you want to call it, is simply not a priority for me these days.

Anyway, I have the day off because of a snow storm, so I decided to devote some of it to a review of 2010.

January: Went to a welcome home dinner for a young man who was kicked out of the armed forces and sent home from Afghanistan after someone blew the whistle on him for being gay.

A furnace repairman might have saved our lives… He discovered that the hot water heater exhaust flue had been knocked off the flue vent.  It must have been off for quite some time because the flue gasses melted some of the pipe insulation. According to him, we were in danger of dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.

February: As I was going up to bed one night, I lost my balance and fell down a couple of stairs, twisting my right leg in the process, and landing heavily on it.  X-rays at the ER the next day revealed bone contusion and bruised muscles.  I just love adding more pain to my life.

In an unrelated incident – you know you’ve had too many MRIs when the technician recognizes you and greets you by saying, “Back for more?”

March: One of Leigh’s dear friends died during heart surgery.  Rest peacefully, Quicci.

Leigh had to have her cat, Simmy, put to sleep.  More heartbreak.

Daniel and I celebrated anniversary #5.

Developed an addiction to Chobani pomegranate Greek yogurt.

April: Had a “Scary headache” for the entire month.

May: Had the front porch painted, which turned out to be a very good thing because that’s pretty much where I spent my summer vacation…

June: Refinanced our mortgage to go from 6.25 interest rate down to 4.875.

July: Went to Seaside Heights.  Would have enjoyed it more if not for the god-awful heat. It should be against the law for temps to get that high (102).

My grandmother turned 99.

August: I was trapped at the chiropractor’s for two hours because of a devastating storm that passed through the area. Five cars in the parking lot were crushed under trees. One car belonged to my neighbor, and another to my cousin.  That storm was a sight to see!

The city damaged our driveway when they cut down the tree in front of our house.  They failed to respond to my letters, so a legal consultation will have to be the next step.

The front page of our local paper featured an article about a 17 year old girl I knew very well who was killed in a horrific accident the previous morning. In another section of the paper there was an obituary for a good friend of mine.  In three days, I lost two people I loved.  Rest peacefully Natia and Bob.

I turned 56.

While I was standing in the parking lot of a restaurant, a guy yelled, “Shorty, shorty!” When I turned around he asked, “Are you married?” I have to say that being called “shorty” made my day.

September: Adventures with ambien – Objects in photos seem to move just like they do in Harry Potter! Freaky, man.  I also discovered that I sometimes indulge in online shopping while under the influence of ambien. Definitely not a good thing.

Found out that the stabbing victim in a recent homicide was my father’s best friend.  Rest peacefully, Ron.

The results of my skin test revealed that I have perivascular dermatitis.  Because of the effing rash, my legs were so swollen I had elephant knees!

Reconnected with old friends (one of whom is Snooki’s mother).

Our community lost yet another young person who died much too soon. Rest peacefully, Zach.

October: One morning when Daniel was getting ready to drive me to work, we found a dead cat under the front tire. (No, it hadn’t been run over – it must have crawled there to die.) Not a good way to start the day.

This year’s Dress Up As A Literary Character costume – Esmeralda (from THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME by Victor Hugo)

Had a very enjoyable time at the Sheep &Wool Festival. Chatting with some llamas and alpacas (actually, they were humming) was the best part.

Four years…I miss you, Mark. Rest peacefully.

November: An old high school friend died after a long battle with cancer. Her brother (who was a very little boy at the time) gave me the only nickname I’ve ever had – “wild eyes.”  Rest peacefully, Beth.

A former student and friend of my daughters died unexpectedly. Rest peacefully, Peter.

I found out about a whopper of a lie that was spread about me 25 years ago… Apparently, I was a coke addict!  Diet coke, maybe, but certainly not the white powdery stuff.  Sheesh.  I guess there’s a statute of limitations on slander/defamation of character, huh… Oh well, at least I got a good laugh out of it!

Was stunned to learn that an old online friend took his own life. He was such a kind person and gentle soul, not to mention a brilliant mathematician and skating enthusiast. I’m really going to miss his nickname for me (Stephanova) and the praying mantis warnings (personal joke). Rest peacefully, Robby.

Spent over three hours at the ER – Leigh’s myoclonic seizures caused her to fall down the stairs AND on the driveway as we were guiding her to the car to take her to the hospital. They did NOTHING, and we finally announced that we were leaving (but not before I created a bit of a scene).  As Leigh pointed out, a Veterinary Clinic wouldn’t treat an ANIMAL that way. They wouldn’t just throw a cat or dog in a crate and let it seizure for three hours. Unbelievable!

Another ER visit  – for me, this time.  Diagnosis: mesenteric lymphadenitis – inflammation of the mesenteric lymph nodes. Causes pain that mimics acute appendicitis. I hope I never have to experience that kind of pain again.   That was the most agonizing experience of my life, and I’m no stranger to pain.

A former student (and Leigh’s childhood friend) celebrated the release of his first book. Congratulations, Daniel!

December: As usual, I hosted the Christmas festivities.


My former mother-in-law died on December 28th.  She had just been at my house for Christmas, and was in fine spirits, and seemed to be in good health. During the early hours of the 27th, she had a hemorrhagic stroke and had already suffered irreparable brain damage by the time she was found.   The all-day bedside vigil before she passed away was heart wrenching and draining. Rest peacefully, Marj.

All in all, it was a pretty shitty year with far too many deaths.  Which is another reason why I didn’t update.  So there you go.

Song of the Day: Bad Year by Sicko

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I can’t believe it’s been almost two months since I last posted here.  Facebook has been satisfying my need to share some of life’s tidbits, and affords me the opportunity to do so with very little effort, which is something that appeals to me more and more these days.  Besides chronic pain, the extreme heat has sapped me of whatever little bit of energy I might have left over when I get home from work.  Temperatures have been holding steady at around 88 degrees for several days now, and I’m not liking it one bit.  It’s much too early for this kind of heat.  Actually, as far as I’m concerned, there’s never a good time for this kind of heat.  I have a feeling it’s going to be a looooooong summer.

Speaking of summer, this will be my first without having at least one of my daughters around (since Rebecca was born in 1986).  Leigh is spending the next couple of months with Becca, and will be waitressing at Matt’s restaurant.  (Matt is Rebecca’s boyfriend, and proprietor of an Outback.)   At the end of August, she’ll be heading to SUNY Binghamton to complete her Bachelor’s Degree.  She just graduated from SUNY Delhi with an Associate’s Degree in their Veterinary Tech program, and earned a 4.0, which is especially noteworthy considering that she had an extra heavy course load (19 credits).  I’m so proud of her, and of Rebecca, as well, who earned her Bachelor’s Degree a few months ago, and is taking some time off before going on for her Master’s.

There’s not much else of interest to report… I applied to work summer school and am pretty certain I’ll be assigned to the position.  Once again, there won’t be any vacation for me.  I’m deeply disappointed about that.  I so look forward to getting away, but haven’t been able to afford to do that for the last couple of years.  The drudgery of life is really wearing thin… Oh well.  I guess I’ll be spending much of the summer in my favorite spot at home – on the front porch.

Song of the Day:  Hot Fun in the Summertime by Sly and the Family Stone

I haven’t been feeling very good about myself lately.   Although it shames me to admit it, much of my low self-esteem has to do with my suddenly and rapidly aging appearance.  All I see when I look in the mirror are the jowls and sagging eyelids.  It doesn’t help that I’ve also been having bad hair days every single day for quite a while now…

I don’t have a huge ego, and never thought of myself as a great beauty, or anything like that.  In fact, I’ve always been quite insecure about my looks, especially because of my tendency to carry some extra pounds.  However, for a long time, I did at least feel that I didn’t look my age, and was very grateful for that.  But, lately I’ve been feeling like an old, fat hag.

Yesterday I received a compliment from a young man (forty years my junior) that did my heart (not to mention my battered and fragile sense of self-image) a lot of good.   His Freshman Seminar class has been spending a fair amount of time in the computer lab, so we are pretty familiar with each other, and get along quite well. Still, it took me by surprise when Mr. Freshman greeted me with, “Hello, beautiful.”  He took his seat across from my desk and went on to say, “You know, you really are very attractive.”  I could have wept with gratitude.   What a wonderful pick-me-up!  Thank goodness for small favors and kindnesses that come along exactly when you need them most.

Moving right along… Here’s a real beauty.

My baby (Leigh) turned 22 yesterday.  I can hardly believe it.

I also want to post these photos of a bird nest that was built in a butterfly net I keep on my back porch.  The porch (it’s more of a mudroom, actually) is enclosed. The birds were getting in through a gap at the bottom of the door.

Ya gotta love nature.  Enjoy the weekend!

Song of the day:  Vanity by Lady Gaga

“Nothin’ wrong with being just a little bit vain
We need a little pretty ‘cause this country’s insane.”

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Enough is Enough

October 18, 2009

A lot has happened since I last posted here.  Right before I went back to work in early September, my grandmother was admitted to the hospital.  She was there for quite some time, and it was touch and go for a while.  She ended up getting a pacemaker.  As you can imagine, that was a very stressful time.

Last month, I participated in our annual  “Dress Up As A Literary Character Day”  at work.  I went as Jacob Marley from A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.  What a trip that was.

On Tuesday, the husband of a much loved co-worker died unexpectedly.  I went to the shiva house after work on Friday, and was dismayed to see how frail and fragile my co-worker looks.  She and her husband were married for 41 years, and they were incredibly devoted to each other.  My heart aches for her, as it does for my darling LA, her fiancée, and his family as they deal with the very recent loss of Mick’s grandmother.   Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers.

A little over a week ago, my father had a total knee replacement.  At present, he is in a rehabilitation facility for physical therapy, which means that my 98 year-old grandmother is alone.  Michele, Mike and I have been running around like those proverbial chickens with their heads cut off.  I am beyond exhausted, and in extraordinary pain.  I don’t know how I’m going to walk to work every morning this week (Daniel is visiting his family in Canada)… The walk home isn’t too bad, but I am especially stiff and achy in the morning.  This is going to be very difficult for me.

Yesterday, Leigh had to go to a walk-in clinic because she thought she had a UTI. Turns out that she has an unusually high amount of protein in her urine, which the doctor said can be indicative of kidney disease.   He wants her to follow up with a urologist.

To top things off, Tuesday will mark the third anniversary of my brother’s death.

As I said on Facebook, my “downer” quota has been filled for the month.  No more, please.

Song of the Day:  Downer by Nirvana

I had an appointment with Dr. Spine Specialist yesterday to review the results of my latest MRI.  I already knew that I have a herniated disc in my lumbar spine.  What I didn’t know is that I have three of them.  I also have quite a bit of arthritis, as well as a fair amount of scar tissue in the area of the discectomy that was performed back in 2004.  All of these things contribute to my lower back pain.

Dr. Spine Specialist mentioned surgery as an option, and warned me that it will be a more complicated procedure this time because it will involve spinal fusion.  Umm, no thanks.    Not unless I absolutely can’t bear the pain any longer.

Before I left his office, Dr. Spine Specialist gave me an autographed copy of his book.   Thanks, doc.  See you again in five months.

I can’t believe summer “vacation” is almost over.  I use the word “vacation” loosely because I didn’t do any vacationing this year.  What a bummer.  I did get to the beach on Monday, but it was just the Long Island Sound at Hammonasset State Park in Connecticut.  It was brutally hot, and, when I tried to go in the water to cool off, I had to turn back because the bottom was so rocky I was afraid I would lose my footing.  So, I sat there in the sweltering heat for four hours, and ended up with a sunburn, despite wearing a large straw hat and heavy applications of sunblock.   I’m really hoping to get to the ocean before I go back to work, but I’m not feeling very optimistic about that happening.

At least my daughter, Rebecca, got to go away on vacation.  She and her boyfriend just got back from a wonderfully adventurous trip to Mexico.

They snorkeled on the reef and in a cenote, saw the ruins of Tulum, and went zip lining and rappelling.

While I am truly happy for Becca, I also have to admit that I am green with envy.  Sigh.

Song of the Day:  It’s Not Easy Being Green by Kermit the Frog

A few years ago, a co-worker/friend was involved in a terrible car accident.   The car in which she was a passenger was hit head on by a drunk driver.

Felicia suffered severe head injuries, and was in a coma for 8 months.  Against all odds, she came out of the coma, but she will never be the same.

Felicia has three children, ages 9, 13, and 16.  They are currently on America’s Got Talent.   This clip isn’t the best quality, but it is incredibly moving.  I’ve been sitting here watching and crying (along with Sharon Osborne) for half an hour.

God bless you and your family, Felicia.

In other news, Daniel will become a U.S. citizen today.  When he went for his citizenship test in NYC a few weeks ago, he told the examiner, “After marrying my wife, this will be the greatest honor of my life.”

Congratulations, Daniel!  (I’ve been calling him Mr. America.)

Song of the Day: America the Beautiful

Wow, it sure has been a long time since I last posted here.  I think this is my longest hiatus since I started an online journal back in August of 2001.  There are a few reasons for my silence.  One is that I’ve been pretty tied up with an unhappy situation one of my sisters is dealing with.   The past few months have been physically and emotionally draining.

Another reason is that I just haven’t felt like going to the trouble of posting here.   When I do feel the need to make public mention of certain happenings, I do it on Facebook.  This appeals to me because I can do it in as few words as possible, without having to tax my brain trying to come up with an entire entry.  I’ve become a lazy blogger.

Speaking of Facebook, this social networking site has enabled me to make some new friends, as well as reconnect with some old and very dear friends.  One of those people is Joanne.  Her association with our family goes back to childhood.  She and my sister, Patti, were very good friends, and Joanne spent a lot of time at our house, and even traveled to our summer cottage in the Berkshires with us.  I was delighted when I recently received a Facebook friend request from her.  (She now lives in Virginia.)

I’ve been posting Youtube clips (like this one) all week, and Joanne left this comment the other day:  “God, you bring back memories…. [Singing] Someone saved my life tonight at the top of our lungs while you were getting ready to go to that place in New Paltz…. What was the name of it???? Some of my fondest memories are being at the Perri’s.”

Her remarks conjured up some fond memories of my own, and I went in search of photos.   I had a laughing fit when I came across this pic of Patti dressed up as Elton John.

My siblings and I loved to “dress up.”  Actually, I loved to dress other people up.  Unfortunately, most of the photographic evidence is stored in huge Rubbermaid bins in the basement, and I don’t have the stamina to sort through them right now.  It’s really too bad because there are some great shots of Mark and Mike dressed up as Robert Plant and Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin, and Mike as King Tut and Mark as a mummy…  Oh well, I’ll get around to it someday… In the meantime, here are a few photos that were in albums, and therefore easier to locate.

This is Patti dressed up as a mime.

Punked out Michele.  (You can’t see them in this pic, but there are safety pins all over the shirt.)

Mark and Mike, and then Frank, as Gumbys.

We even dressed up our snowmen!

Those really were the days…

Reading:  The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

Song of the Day:  Someone Saved My Life Tonight by Elton John

Nokay

July 1, 2009

I received an email from Sunshyn this morning asking if I’m okay.  I appreciate her concern, but, the truth is, I’m not okay.  Here’s why.

1. Scary headache – Day 31 (not to mention all the other pain).
2. One of my sisters is in crisis, and she is at my house almost every day.  I want to be here for her, but it is draining and stressful, to say the least.
3. I still haven’t found out whether or not I’ll be working summer school, which starts on Tuesday.  It’s not looking good.  This is a potentially catastrophic situation, financially.  I am sick over it.

Song of the Day:  I’m Not Okay by My Chemical Romance

My brother, Mark, would have been 42 years old today.  These “significant days” are harder to bear than regular ones.  Mark’s twin, Mike, will have his own particular pain to deal with today.   My heart goes out to him, and to my parents and other siblings.  We all miss Mark so much.

As for physical pain, I’ve been suffering even more than usual lately.  The worst of it is that the scary headaches are back.  Living with chronic pain takes so much out of me.  By the time I get home from work, I’m too exhausted, both physically and mentally, to do much of anything.  Weekends aren’t much better, although I do push myself to get out of the house as much as possible.  It’s too easy to fall into a depression when I’m trapped inside for long periods of time.    It’s bad enough to be trapped in this pain-ravaged body.  I need all the distractions I can get.

Something else that is causing me stress (which adds to the pain) is that I will only be receiving one more paycheck until September.  This is quite disturbing because we can’t live on Daniel’s salary alone.   I applied for summer school about a month ago, and have been anxiously awaiting word about whether or not I got the job.

On Wednesday, My Friend informed me that she had received an email from the summer school principal informing her that she had been recommended to teach summer school.   I became distressed upon hearing that, and emailed the principal to ask if a decision had been made about the summer school Teaching Assistant position.  I reminded her that I have held the position since it was created, with the exception of the past two summers when I was unable to work because of back pain that was the result of a work-related incident.   (It should also be noted that the principal at the time the TA position was first created lobbied for it with me in mind.)

Ms. Summer School principal responded to my email by asking how many years I held the position, and saying that she has to check the “union issue.”  I suppose that means that the person who was assigned the position during the summers when I was unable to work has applied for it again this year.  However, it is my understanding that seniority is a factor, so I should get the assignment.  Also, I should not be penalized because I was unable to work due to an injury I sustained on the job.

I am a nervous wreck about this situation.  If I don’t get the summer school position, we are up the creek without a paddle.  Even if I do work summer school, it will only be 16 hours a week for six weeks.  We still won’t be able to make ends meet.  But, without that extra money, we will be in serious trouble.

All positive thoughts will be much appreciated.

Song of the Day:  Get a Job by The Silhouettes