Friday, August 28, 2009

Cantigny, Wheaton, IL

Some Random Plans and Gripes about the Weather

It has been raining almost constantly for three days. With multiple applications of bleach we thought we had killed the mold down in the basement but last night that old familiar smell started creeping up the basement stairs and in through the vents. Grrrrr. It's incredibly wet, and cold, and depressing. I could never live in a country with a monsoon season.

At least the weekend starts tomorrow. I'm ready to get this week behind me. It hasn't been a bad week, but it's been hard to get much done! The weather lady said we could see sunshine on Saturday, and Sunday we have Dee's bridal shower to look forward to. Yea!

Next week I go to my first ever Cubs game! (My first professional baseball game of any kind, actually!) I'm excited to see Wrigley Field from the inside, and eat a hot dog in the stands, and hang out in such a special place with the Stangers and Ross. Hopefully all the rain will have moved on by then.

And then the following week we head to Las Vegas for the long awaited, much anticipated, historic joining of Jason and Dee in wedded matrimony! (And I have it on good authority that it won't be cold or rainy.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dreaming of Family

I've been dreaming about family a lot lately. Last night I dreamed that we tracked down a long lost aunt who, after telling us all sorts of entertaining but very implausible stories about our ancestors, made me promise to name my first born Mickey, after a forgotten great-uncle. I woke up thinking, what have I done, he's going to get beaten up! However, a cup of coffee later, I realized that promises made to imaginary aunts in a dream are probably non-binding.

There is a lot going on in the family these days. Last month we went down to South Carolina for Ross's cousin's wedding - next month we are going down to Las Vegas for my brother, Jason's wedding - and then in December my brother Noah and his wife will be welcoming their first child. It's comforting that in this long stretch of very little happening for Ross and I, that our family continues to grow and start new adventures. It breaks the illusion that we are living in some kind of dreamy, limbo world and reminds us that growth and new adventures are on our horizon too, even if they feel so out of reach at the moment.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Doctor Who, Waters of Mars

Last I heard, this should air in mid-November. If you look closely, the blue screen that flashes after the captain character asks the Doctor "Which is what?" has people speculating that it is Rose Tyler standing there holding her new baby brother, Tony. That would be pretty awesome, but it could be some other blond holding a baby and saying a teary farewell to her man stationed on Mars. But would they have blurred out the face if it was, or even bothered to include it in the trailer? Rumor also has it that Rose Tyler and Jackie Tyler will appear in the season finale (or final special or whatever you wanna call it.)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fixing my Fibromyalgia

After reading more about Dr. Teitelbaum's approach, I went and bought his book, and I'm trying out the SHIN protocol. The first three weeks you focus on sleep, pain management, and nutrition. It gets more complicated after that, with weeks 4-8 focused on detecting and correcting hormone imbalance, and weeks 9-20 focused on rooting out any hidden infections.

For the sleep thing I've started taking Suntheanine, which has been awesome for daytime nervousness and anxiety. For me this is a big deal because my social anxiety is a real aggravating factor with my FMS and keeps me from doing a lot of things that I would otherwise enjoy. As for sleep, I'm not sure yet. The first few days it didn't seem to help, but I just started taking a larger dose at bedtime and it seemed to work last night, so we'll see. I also brought the foam mattress topper down from the guest room and put it on our bed, and that seems to be helping too.

For nutrition I'm taking a bunch of supplements, but the most important one, according to Dr. Teitelbaum, is D-ribose. It's a sugar that your muscles need to repair themselves and people with Fibromyalgia usually don't produce enough on their own. So I take it three times a day, and I should start seeing results by 2-4 weeks.

The pain thing is trickier. Tylenol doesn't work, Ibuprofen makes my stomach bleed, and I'm avoiding prescription pain killers. The idea is that the supplements should eventually start helping with the pain. In the meantime I'm just doing the same things I usually do - try to wear my sneakers for good support, take lots of hot baths, don't over exert myself, use O24 for localized pain, etc.

I'm remaining cautiously hopeful about this treatment plan. I've been down this road before, and I never get the amazing results promised. But this SHIN thing takes such a broad approach...and if nothing else I'm already thrilled with the Suntheanine. We'll see!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sayonara, Futon

Yesterday Ross and I went into a furniture store and ordered our very first grown-up couch! Since we moved in a year and a half ago we've been using the modified futon from Ross's bachelor days. ("Modified" because it separates and swivels - I guess guys like that kind of thing in a couch.) It's covered in black corduroy, sits three inches off the floor, and is filled with so much metal that when given the choice, guests choose to sit on the stairs instead. The only thing I'm going to miss about that couch is its size - it's so teeny-weensy that by scale it makes the living room look like a parlor in Versailles.

When we started shopping for a new couch, we didn't have a long list of requirements. I wanted something that wouldn't show puncture marks from the cats' claws, wouldn't clash with our purple curtains, and which I wouldn't need any help to extract myself from. Ross wanted something that could be re-arranged like a transformer and would be easy to lift on to a U-Haul.

The winner: The Mustang.

Looks just like a mustang, don't you think? ;P We didn't get this many pieces because if we did we'd have to tear down a wall, or stop using our front door. We got one ottoman on clearance (one of the feet was chipped) for 75% off, and then we ordered one more ottoman, three armless chairs, and two corner pieces. So imagine the photo with one fewer armless chairs.

We took the clearance ottoman home with us, but it will be a month before the rest of the couch comes in. In the meantime the ottoman is standing in the center of the room, towering over the futon and making our living room look even more ridiculous than usual. But the color, to my great relief, is perfect - it is actually the same color as our walls, and looks great with the purple accents in the room.

As we get toward the end of a long, busy summer it makes me smile to know that when the leaves start falling, and the nights get nippy, Ross and I will have a big, comfy couch to snuggle up on!

Monday, August 10, 2009

SHIN Approach to Treating Fibromyalgia

I've been dealing with my Fibromyalgia without prescription pain meds since early 2008. After getting into a bad car accident as a result of the side effects of one of the drugs I was taking, I decided I was sick and tired of medications that help my pain while harming my brain or my organs. Even so my committment to this has always been wishy washy, and when I found out that Ross's aunt, who also has FMS, has gone back on medication after trying to go without, I felt even more discouraged. But then I picked up the September issue of O magazine and read the Dr. Oz feature on Fibromyalgia recommending alternate treatments it was a huge encouragement to stay the track.

The actual article featured four approaches, but Dr. Oz seemed most impressed with Dr. Teitelbaum's approach, so that's what I'm focusing on right now. At some point O Magazine will post a list of supplements Dr. Teitelbaum recommends at but as of yet it hasn't been posted. Instead I found this article on Tietelbaum's SHIN treatment plan, which wasn't even mentioned in the magazine. I defintely want to talk to my doctor about this.

Copied from Oprah's website.

Many people suffer from a combination of all-over body pain, exhaustion, short-term memory loss and trouble sleeping. Just a few decades ago, doctors would not have known how to diagnose the symptoms, but today it is diagnosed as fibromyalgia. Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum treats people from all over the world suffering from fibromyalgia. He talks with Dr. Oz about his own struggle with the painful condition and the remedies that helped him and thousands of others recover.

As a young medical student, Dr. Teitelbaum says he became very ill with something that his father called the "drop dead flu." It has now been recognized as fibromyalgia. Dr. Teitelbaum says he couldn't get out of bed for six weeks, and he had to drop out of school for a year and became homeless. During his time on the streets, Dr. Teitelbaum says he sought out herbal remedies that greatly improved his condition and soon was able to return to medical school.

Since that time, Dr. Teitelbaum says he has devoted much of his medical practice to treating people with fibromyalgia. "If you are exhausted and can't sleep and it doesn't go away with vacation and you hurt all over, you've probably got fibromyalgia," Dr. Teitelbaum says. "In addition, you will have brain fog and probably loss of libido."

Dr. Teitelbaum recommends both medications and herbal remedies to people suffering from fibromyalgia. One treatment method that Dr. Teitelbaum says he recommends to patients is the SHIN treatment. He says you should think of the SHIN treatment as a checklist for getting well once diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

The SHIN Treatment:
  • Sleep: It is critical that you get eight hours of solid sleep a night, Dr. Teitelbaum says. There are more than 25 natural and prescription therapies that he says he uses on patients if they're having trouble falling asleep. Also, taking a hot bath before bed and keeping your bedroom cool are tips Dr. Teitelbaum recommends to his patients.
  • Hormones: Dr. Teitelbaum says it's important to treat any hormonal deficiencies you may have. "Pretty much everybody with this disease needs to try a bioidentical thyroid hormone," he says. It may also be necessary to get treated with thyroid hormones, adrenal and reproductive hormones, Dr. Teitelbaum says.
  • Infections and immunity: Fibromyalgia can compromise the immune system, Dr. Teitelbaum says. It's important to treat infections, especially conditions in which yeast or fungal overgrowth is affecting your sinuses or colon, he says.
  • Nutrition: Avoiding sugar—except for dark chocolate—increasing your water intake, eating a high protein and low carb diet and increasing your salt intake are part of a nutritional plan that Dr. Teitelbaum recommends to his patients. Also, restoring energy through walking, swimming and yoga are ways to help in recovery. Dr. Teitelbaum says any physical activity that releases muscles helps the pain associated with fibromyalgia go away

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Hot, Lazy Sunday

It's a fortunate thing when super hot weather falls on a Sunday, because it's the one day of the week you don't have to feel too bad about doing nothing. I sat around reading and journaling, Ross worked on leveling up in his video game. Hopefully we got the heat and the loafing out of the way and will have a nice, productive week.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Friday, August 07, 2009

New Landscape Paintings

Must have palm trees on the brain :P Not finished, obviously.

Hmmmm, am half-way happy with this one.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Harvest Begins!

Back from Charleston

We've been back since Monday night but I've been in a post-trip frenzy of laundry, errand running, and yard work and haven't had time to blog!

The trip was wonderful! And I'm so glad that I got my new contacts before we left because I could see the tips of the palmettos, the crumbling stucco, and the cobbles in the road with crystal clarity. Charleston was beautiful. Hot, but there was an almost constant breeze coming off the water that kept it bearable. We arrived Thursday evening and as soon as we got on the bridge crossing the bay I could see our hotel. It has a bright red roof and, with the water as a back drop and ship masts as frame, it looked amazing!

We were getting a really good deal at the hotel so I expected a small room with a view of the parking lot but instead the room was a really nice size, and though the windows did face the lot, all we could see were the tops of palm trees. It was perfect! Ross's family arrived around the same time we did so we met them downstairs for a wine tasting (I stuck with coffee because I was trying to recharge my batteries after the drive) and then we all took off for the rehearsal dinner in downtown Charleston.

This is the second wedding I've been to in the South now, and they've both had huge wedding parties (someone said this one had ten bridesmaids but I didn't count) and huge rehearsal dinners. It was great visiting with Ross's cousins, a bunch of whom I hadn't met yet, and the food was delicious (they had bread pudding, one of my favorite things on earth!)

The next morning we headed back into downtown Charleston for breakfast at the Sweetwater Cafe (I ate grits!), a horse-drawn carriage tour of historic Charleston (in which Yankees were referred to several times in less than flattering terms, gulp), a visit to the open air market, and lunch at S.N.O.B., an elegant but fun restaurant featuring excellent regional dishes. Connie knows her restaurants and always picks great ones.

After lunch we had some downtime at the hotel and then headed out for the big event. The wedding itself took place on the lawn of the Alhambra Hall, looking out over the bay. The bridesmaids dresses were various styles, but all a beautiful taupe shade that I never would have guessed would look so great in a wedding. The bride, Tracey, looked amazing. After the ceremony we had drinks out on the lawn and then, just as it was starting to rain, moved in to Alhambra Hall for reception. Fun reception! Sushi, a great band, and hydrangeas everywhere. We stayed 'til the end and threw grits at the happy couple as they made their way to the limo.

The next day we had breakfast at the Hominy Grill with Ross's family before they hit the road for Raleigh. It was another one of Connie's picks and it was delicious. Ross and I shared cinnamon french toast with apple maple syrup and pecan butter, eggs, and grits. Ross's dad got rabbit sausage! The restaurant looked like an old dry goods store, long and narrow with a decorative tin ceiling and great big windows at the front. Very cute.

After seeing them off Ross and I wandered around the historic district, checking out the shops, historic sites, and pretty little residential streets. I took some more pictures since it had been hard to get decent pictures from the carriage the day before.

In the afternoon we met up with the remaining family and some friends of the groom at the shore for a beach party. I've seen the Atlantic before, but this is the first time I've been even remotely tempted to swim in it. The water was warm, the beach wide and sandy, and waves were big enough to body surf, but not so big you feared for your life!

Sandy, salty, and exhausted we returned to the hotel around 8 that night and started to pack up for the drive home. The next morning we took a leisurely walk around the resort, snapping pictures and saying goodbye to some of Ross's relatives. Ross's family means so much to him and I was glad that we stayed that extra day so that he could get in as much family time as possible. And then it was time to hit the road. The drive home was pretty uneventful, except for the Creation Museum, but that's a topic for another blog post :)