Book Reviews!

Inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.

I’ve been enjoying some great reading this summer. Here are three books I’ve really liked. These reviews are taken from my goodreads account. I hope you will follow me on there!

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Best friends Jessie, Claire and Gabriela all made decisions the year they turned 40 that they regret. Ten years later they are given the opportunity to relive their 40th year and must make a decision whether or not to stay back in time or go back to where they were. What will they choose? This was a fun book which included choices, regret and friendship. It’s a great, quick read that had me guessing to the end as to what the three friends were going to choose. This is a great summer read!

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Written in 1933 and not published until 1992, Mary Mann Hamilton tells her story of helping to develop the South. She tells of surviving floods and tornadoes, managing a boarding house in Arkansas and helping to run a logging camp in Mississippi that helped to develop the Mississippi Delta. All this along with raising her children! I was really surprised how hard Mary worked, right along side the men. This book tells of her triumphs and tragedies during her life from 1866-1936. I really enjoyed the first hand account and the history, and would say it’s not to be missed!

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With a loving husband, one beautiful daughter, two stepsons and a baby girl on the way, Kelle Hampton thought life was perfect. But her life is shattered when her baby is born with Down Syndrome. This book is the story of Nella’s first year and how Kelle comes to terms with it. I was really struck by her honesty and of the support group of family and friends to help Kelle get through that first year. At times it was a bit tough to read, but the growth Kelle experiences is a lesson about life for everyone. The book also includes absolutely gorgeous photos.

Happy reading!

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My Favorite Summer View (So Far)

Linking up with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.

6. Your favorite summer view so far.

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This was taken about two weeks ago at the Headlands Beach State Park’s Summerfest in Lake County, OH.

The festival consisted of live bands, food and amazing kites but I’ve always loved and been fascinated by sand sculptures and my son, Tyler, has never seen one before. This was also my first time at the beach this summer as I find it hard to wrap my mind around everything you need for a beach day!

Summer’s not over yet and I am sure we will have more amazing views to come!

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Pets of the Past and Future

(Inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.)

1. Throwback Thursday: Choose a photo from a previous July and write a poem or a blog post.

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This photo goes back to July of 2011 and is a picture of my cat, Lizzie, who threw my husband out of bed and slept with me all night. Lizzie and her sister, Rosie, were the first cats I had when I left my parents’ house. They were a symbol of my dependence, my foray into adulthood.

I got them when they were six and half weeks old and they still hadn’t retracted their claws yet. Lizzie and Rosie were special, and it wasn’t just me who thought so. Even people who didn’t like cats loved them. Rosie was born with a problem where her knee would dislocate. As she aged the problem became worse and when surgery was finally warranted she was declared too old to go through it. That didn’t stop her from still having some good years left and being a loving companion to me. When I was bedridden from chronic illness, she laid right next to me, moving only to eat and go to the bathroom. Maybe it sounds silly but I thought we understood each other. Rosie died at age 12 of kidney failure due to lack of movement.

Lizzie made the move to Ohio with us. She died of cancer when she was 15. I am so glad my son had the opportunity to know both of them.

I grew up with a cat named Whiskers who was a diabetic. My dad had to give her insulin every day. She was worth all the medical care needed. She was a Siamese and super affectionate, especially to me. She was the one I told all my secrets to, the one I cried to. She died when I was in college and when I found out I asked my professor if I could reschedule my midterm due to a death in the family.

I have four cats now, two who are indoor/outdoor and two who live on our porch. We provide warm shelters for the outdoor cats in the winter. My indoor/outdoor cats are Max and Rosie. Max has been gone for six weeks. He is known for striking out for parts unknown and just showing up out of nowhere. Sometimes we think he has another family or two. I pray every night for him to be okay and come back. He is my son’s cat and he would be so sad if we declared him gone permanently.

Betty…I just can’t figure her out. She used to love and cuddle with me and now doesn’t want much to do with me. I’ve never heard of a cat who grew to love you less! It’s clear Jacques is her favorite but she is enjoying the summer, stopping in for a short time every day to eat and drink before meowing to go out again.

If Max is truly gone, I wonder if I should get another cat. Allowing my cats to go outdoors has been the worst thing I could have done and I never want to do that again. I think of a cat who is super affectionate and who would cuddle with me. I wouldn’t want a kitten, I’d want a cat on the younger side whose personality is fully formed.

I’ve had the priviledge of being the mom to many cats and each one was different. They have all brought meaning to my life and have even helped shaped my growth.

Part of me is excited over who my next friend will be.

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A Week of Doctors’ Appointments

Linking up with Being Fibro Mom’s Friday Linkup.

Based upon the advice of my Rheumatologist and blood test results I had my appointment on Monday with the Hematologist/Oncologist. I liked her a lot. She told me that although I had some results that were out of range they were only out of range a bit. She wanted to do more blood work to see if these results were trending up which would be cause for concern. For many months now I have had a pain in the lower left side of my stomach and she also ordered a CAT scan of my abdomen and pelvis.

On Tuesday, I went to the Cleveland Clinic main campus to see a new psychiatrist. I had decided that I was kind of at a standstill with my old psychiatrist. Depression-wise I am not as bad off as I have been but I am still depressed. I have difficulties with day to day activities such as showering, opening my mail and cleaning the house, as well as feelings of sadness and being overwhelmed. Sometimes I wonder if this is the best I can hope for but I switched doctors hoping that there is a better quality of life for me.

I met with the resident first who did an hour assessment, which included my medical history, stressors in my life and the history from my childhood to the present. After the assessment she met with her supervisor who was the doctor Jacques and I had picked out for me due to her reputation. I met with her too. She felt I was on a lot of medications and she wanted to make some changes but one change at a time. I had been on two sedatives for my anxiety and she took me off one of them. She recommended Intensive Out-Patient Therapy (IOP), which is mostly group therapy three to four days per week for three hours a day. I’ve done it before and I’ve hated it! I told her that would be difficult with my physical illness and that I did not like group therapy. If I want therapy I want all the attention on me, maybe I’m selfish but I’ve got too many issues for the focus not to be on me the whole time! After the appointment I really felt I had made the right move in changing doctors and in the doctor I had picked. I have a follow-up appointment in a month.

On Wednesday I got lucky. There was a cancellation with the new Gastroenterologist I was supposed to see on August 31st. I have already seen a Gastroenterologist but wasn’t happy with the way she dismissed me. He recommended that I have an endoscopy and colonoscopy. The only problem is I have to wait THREE months to have them, although the nurse said the procedures could be moved up because a lot of people chicken out! I have had a number of colonoscopies due to having Ulcerative Colitis, which I have been in remission for twenty years and do not see any sign that it has returned.The worse part of a colonoscopy is the prep, where you have to drink a nasty gallon of a laxative and can have only clear liquids the day before.

It is disappointing that I may have to wait three months to get these tests done. I don’t look forward to being nauseated with a low grade fever for what then will have been going on for over a year.

Have you had the experience of a long wait to be diagnosed or waiting a long time to have an appointment or procedure?

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Book Reviews!

Inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.

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“I was born twice: first as a baby girl on a remarkably smogless day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petosky, Michigan in August of 1974.” That’s the first line of this fascinating and wonderful book, which relates the story of the intersex life of Calliope who becomes Cal. The story is interspersed with the tales of three generations of a Greek-American family. I highly recommend this book, unless you are uncomfortable with the subject matter, but it did give me more understanding of the LGBTQ community.

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Major Ernest Pettigrew is part of a generation that still believes in decorum, respect to be earned and modesty. When his brother dies, Pakistani shopkeeper Mrs. Ali shows up at his door to see if he needs anything and an old-fashioned romance begins. I really enjoyed this book; set in a small village in the English countryside. The Major and Mrs. Ali have to deal with prejudice, there is the tenuous relationship between the Major and his son, and still there is some humor to the book. I highly recommend this!

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Librarian Tori Sinclair is new to the town of Sweet Briar, South Carolina and finds it hard to fit in in a town where everyone knows everyone else. But when the town’s sweetheart is found murdered outside the library dumpster Tori becomes everyone’s number one suspect, including the police. Tori must clear her name before she finds herself taken into custody. I found this cozy mystery series (A Southern Sewing Circle) on Pinterest and at first decided not to read any more books in the series. But for some reason I couldn’t stop thinking of Tori and I got the second one in the series and found I liked it better. Tori is likable, there’s some romance and a great cast of supporting characters.

All of these reviews were taken from my goodreads profile and I hope you will friend me on there! Happy reading!

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Doctor’s Visit and Blood Test Results

Linking up with Being Fibro Mom‘s Chronic Friday Linkup

If you have been a regular reader you will know that I’ve been experiencing nausea and a low grade fever since last September with no doctor being able to tell me what’s going on.

I was finally able to see my Rheumatologist. When I explained my symptoms to him he said, “I’m curious to know why you would choose to see a Rheumatologist for these symptoms.” I was a bit shocked but I told him I always think of Lupus when running a low grade fever but he said that was not one of the prominent symptoms.

He said that when patients experience Fever of Unknown Origin (FUO) the first step is to see an Infectious Disease specialist and if nothing turns up, a Hematologist/Oncologist. He told me he was going to run a lot of blood tests and they took ten vials of blood plus a urine specimen. I may have gone to the “wrong” doctor but he was the first one to give me some direction.

It was the first time that certain tests came back as out of range and instead of being happy about it like I thought I would because I’m desperate for a diagnosis and treatment, the feedback from the doctor was that I should make an appointment with a Hematologist/Oncologist, which to me is about the scariest doctor to see.

I think of my therapist telling me that my nausea was probably due to depression and I am angry that she made me think for one second that this was in my head. Every time a doctor doesn’t know what’s wrong with you, they want to go right for a psychological diagnosis.

I picked my Hematologist/Oncologist out of the many from Cleveland Clinic. I read her patient reviews and one of them said that the doctor actually hugged her. I wanted a doctor that hugged people so that was a big selling point for me.

When I called to make an appointment the hold music and information said, “Welcome to the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center.” There was even an advertisement for wigs that they sold at the clinic. It was one of the scariest things I have ever heard.

When I got through, the scheduler asked if they had access to my test results through the clinic’s system. She told me a nurse was going to study my results and they would get back to me.

In about a half an hour I got a call back to make my appointment which is in mid July. I felt like they had been looking to see if I was sick enough to be seen.

I am trying not to freak out but I can’t help it. I am doing better today. I know I can’t be a mess until I see the doctor, I’ve got to get it together for my son’s sake.

Next week I already had an appointment scheduled with my primary care physician with blood work ordered so perhaps she will be able to shed some light on my results. Normally I research my lab results, and I did to a point but what’s the use of making myself more upset than I already am? It doesn’t have to be cancer, it could be a blood disorder.

Your prayers and good thoughts are appreciated.

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Not my real test results.

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Epic Fail

I was looking forward this weekend to meeting people from one of my Facebook groups at a state park. The group is made up of people in my county who help spread the word when a pet goes missing and I thought they would be a very nice group to meet, with all of us having our love for animals in common.

At 8:00 Sunday morning I felt good and was looking forward to going. Then at 8:30 the anxiety began to kick in. The fear of driving to the park by myself, the sweltering heat of the day; I even had anxiety about getting into the shower, shaving and dressing.

I still felt I had plenty of time to “get it together” but my anxiety only got worse and I started to feel sick to my stomach. I took two of my sedatives for when I am anxious but by about 11:00 I knew I wasn’t going to make it.

When I announced this to Jacques I immediately felt better. The thought of not going out and not showering, and watching Netflix and reading relaxed me. The sedatives kicked in and I fell asleep.

When the party was over and the Facebook posts about the get together started to pop up, I felt really disappointed in myself. I wondered, and you may be wondering too, “Why didn’t I just push myself?” I knew once I could get there I would be okay but the hill to get to that point was just too steep to climb.

The group said they may hold another get-together in early fall on the beach. Hopefully through therapy and the right medicine I can get my anxiety in check to be able to go to it.

For now I just feel like I failed myself. I missed out on something where I possibly would have made some real life friends and I haven’t made any friends since I moved to Ohio.

I haven’t been out in five days but I managed to take a shower yesterday. Today I am planning on taking my son to the pool. On Thursday night he will test for his next belt in Tae Kwon Do and I know I will be there. I seem to be able to make the important events for him but if it’s something for me, I just can’t make myself do it.

For now I will just remain in my tight circle of loved ones, Tyler and Jacques. Even my son’s dad and I get along well but that’s about it.

For now I will concentrate on being the best mother I can to my son and making sure he has as good a summer I can give him.

Epic Fail

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Big Day Out?

This weekend I am scheduled to go to a party in a state park thrown by my county’s lost pets’ Facebook page members. They were very helpful to me when Max was missing.

The people in the group are really cool and we all have our love for pets in common. It’s a bring something party that’s supposed to go from noon to four. Jacques is making pasta salad for me to take.

The idea of meeting these people in real life is exciting to me. I’ve lived in Ohio for almost four years and do not have any friends. I haven’t made friends with the mothers of Tyler’s play dates or through his school or extracurricular activities. Having depression and anxiety doesn’t make it any easier. With my weight gain from my meds and my depression I don’t feel good about myself.

And then the anxiety of getting my act together kicks in too. I have to drive a bit of a distance to the park and I have to go alone.

And how will I feel the day of the party? Too physically sick or too afraid to go? Too depressed to get into the shower and get dressed? Will I even make it?

Still, the idea of meeting a whole bunch of people that know next to nothing about me is appealing, and I never have to see them again if I don’t want to. Plus I’ve got an “out” because I’m leaving Tyler with Jacques and I don’t want him to spend hours playing video games. I know if I can actually get there and start talking to people I will be okay. It’s just that it’s been so long since I’ve socialized with anyone, I wonder if I can do it “right”.

How do you deal with social anxiety? Do you go for it or just hide under the covers?

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Religion and the Chronically Ill Parent

This post is inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.

Prompt #1. Throwback Thursday: Choose a photo from a previous June and write a poem or a blog post.

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This picture dates back to a post written in June of 2011, when my son was four and a half years old. We had picked up this book at a library book sale along with a copy of the same children’s bible I had when I was a child.

Back then, due to various illnesses and conditions I had never taken Tyler to church, except for his christening. In the post I wrote about how I would have to somehow find a way to get myself together and start taking him to church, or else how would he learn about his faith?

Fast forward to the present and I have seldom taken Tyler to mass. I’m either too physically ill or mentally cannot get my head together to get there. Tyler does go to religious instruction and has made his First Holy Communion and Penance, but not surprisingly, he HATES when he is taken to mass during the few times he is taken during classes. In fact, he is near terrified of church. Riddled with anxiety and highly sensitive he is scared of the statues and stained glass, thinks the music is sad and can’t stand the smell of the incense which is sometimes burned. He keeps asking the teacher when it will be over.

I know if I was taking him to church he would be used to it by now. Every Sunday I watch mass on the internet but he refuses to watch with me. He also will not pray on a regular basis.

The classes have done him some good, however, as he does believe in God, Jesus, angels and Heaven.

Personally I have made my peace with the fact that God understands that I would go to mass if I could and does not fault me for it. I feel my faith is strong.

But I was raised in the church, went weekly up until I got sick, and sang in the children’s choir and folk group. I believe faith is a strong resource for people in dealing with life’s difficulties.

But is what I am giving my son enough? Will he have these tools as he grows older?

Many chronically ill parents have enormous guilt over not being able to do as much with their children as they like and church is just one of those things.

I just have to hope and pray that the little I can give to my son is enough.

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Results of My Memory Test

Linking up with the Chronic Friday Linkup at Being Fibro Mom and the Weekend Blog Share at Hannah Spannah.

So many of us, whether it be from a disease or medication, experience impaired memory and concentration so I decided a couple of months ago that I needed to know why or where my problems were coming from. So I took a Neuropsychiatric or Neuropsychological test.

The test was about three and a half hours long and included being told a number of words and asking to repeat them, describing words shown to me, and a test on a computer where you had to figure out the changing patterns of cards. I also had to build towers from the largest to the smallest pieces while only moving one piece at a time, which I found the hardest part of the test.

My results said that my cognitive difficulties were most likely due to a combination of my physical and mental conditions along with the medication I was taking for said conditions. There was no evidence of dementia.

My psychiatrist’s recommendation was to minimize the use of my sleeping medication, the sedative that I take for anxiety, and the medication I take for my nausea. The medications that I take for bipolar disorder could also contribute to impaired memory.

So you mean everything I am taking to be a functional human being is playing havoc with my brain???

Suggested strategies for compensating included finding specific locations for important items, task lists, and tracking daily activities in a blog (hey!) or a notebook. I am pretty much already doing these things and still having difficulties.

I really don’t want to fiddle around with or lower my medication dosages so I guess I will have to keep dealing with these impairments with a sense of humor.

How do you deal with physical or mental and medication “brain fog”?

Do you have any funny stories about your memory troubles?

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