Just Breathe; When Life Hands You Lemons…

This has been a stressful few days. To a lot of people it won’t seem like much, but for me, let’s just say I’m doing a lot of deep breathing and praying. So here is how it goes.

Saturday

Saturday I was doing something with my computer and pop! my monitor went out. So joy of joys, I go shopping for a new monitor on Amazon. No big deal, just two days. MY COMPUTER IS MY LIFE!! Not entirely true, but I do use it for almost everything. It is my blog, my TV, my entertainment, my art courses. But it wasn’t bad, I did some reading, I did some painting, I didn’t feel very good anyway so I spent a lot of time in bed.

Sunday

Not so bad, actually got a lot done. I felt better (finally), I did housework, it was going to be okay.

Monday

Finally my monitor gets here! Yea! Not so much. I get it, I put it together with no instructions (who doesn’t send instructions?). Then I go to hook it to the computer. It fights with me first about the video settings. It came set to 75hz x 60hz and it wants it to be 19 something x 1080 maybe, and not hz. I hit buttons left and right. Buttons that were hidden from view I might add, and don’t really look like buttons. 30 minutes later? I finally have it. But then it was just a blank screen and a cursor for the mouse.

So I call HP and wait for another 30 minutes, okay maybe 20. And it says let us email you a link to our assistant and I think okay fine, “I’ll try that, but I am not hanging up and losing my place in line!” As soon as they send the link, click, they hang up on me. Big SIGH. So I use the assistant and I go through a very short list of things to try (all having to do with the computer NOT the monitor) and it says do you want to talk to someone? YES! Please!! I look, there is a number and it is a different one from what I had called before, Yea! Maybe this one will go faster. I call it and it is a line for business customers. Another SIGH. So finally I am completely fed up, I’ve put in about an hour and a half. I think I will send it back and try a different one. I start to go through the process of returning on my tablet and it asks me “do you want someone to call you?” I think, okay, I really want back on my computer so why not. I say yes and almost immediately the phone rings. I’m like yea! Then I find out it is a Prime technician not somebody from HP and I think, here’s hoping. So I am on the phone with him for another 30 minutes and we get nowhere except wondering if it was the computer and not the monitor, more really good news. I give up and am going to send it back. The guy sends me a return code and I hang up.

So then starts the repacking mess. I hate repacking things. So I pull out the various pieces of packing materials and lo and behold! Instructions! I decide to go ahead and look at them to see if there is anything else I can see that I did wrong. Right there in pink, black and white I see it. I should only be using one cord. Either the HDMI cord they sent, or the VGA cord I already had. Out of habit I had plugged in my old cord, I didn’t know what their cord was for so I plugged it in too. WRONG. I take out one cord and POOF! I have video. So all is well right? Nope.

Now supposedly my monitor has a built in speaker but looking at it I wasn’t seeing it. There was just no place for the sound to come out. So first thing I go to a video, play it and just as I had suspected there was no sound. So I start troubleshooting that. I went to several sites about it, including HP who supposedly had a solution. I tried to go through all the steps, but they were asking me to go through steps that weren’t possible. Push buttons that weren’t there. Click on things that never came up. Another 30 minutes goes by before I decide to plug in my old speaker even though it won’t go on my monitor like it did the old one. All in all I spent around 3 to 3 1/2 hours on the monitor, maybe all the 30 minutes were really 45, sigh. What ever happened to “plug and play?”

Tuesday (and early Wednesday morning)

So finally a day of enjoyment. I was going to a friends house, and did go, and going to have a wonderful day and it was! 5 1/2 hours of fun. Even if we had to stay in the house. I got a few things done while I was there that would have been more stressful for me if I had done them at home. Just being with my best friend sends stress sailing. She is the most positive person in the world. But she never belittles any bad feeling you might have. She just buoys you up. So we have a lovely time. I fix a few electronic things for them, much less trouble than fixing my problems. We watch a movie, do some letter writing, chit chat, eat lunch. Great day. Then I head home. On the way I see my nail salon and think, “Maybe they have room for me today” I pull in, walk in, and they are packed, but yes one girl is almost done and I can get my pedicure and my color change on my fingers. Ah, bliss. Then I leave there and have some ice cream. This day just couldn’t get any better. But I get home and lo and behold! My “mask” for my CPAP is here and that is good news too.

Now it’s Tuesday night and I get to try my new “mask.” I have been waiting for this for a month. For years doctors have wanted me on CPAP but I could never tolerate the masks. I would start out wearing them for 3 or so hours and then my ability to keep it on would get less and less, instead of more and more. But now, I’m getting so little oxygen to my brain at night that I am seeing real symptoms that could be a real problem. So more positivity. I get ready for bed, get it on, and fade in and out for a few hours. It’s loud, but I can’t find a leak anywhere. So I figure that is just the way it is. But then I hit some buttons and it gets quiet but still seems to be going and I think, “okay I’ve got it going right now.” I sleep for a while with no problem until I just wake up raring to go at 430a. I look at the machine and it says I had bad air leakage. So all that noisiness was leakage after all. Okay, no problem, we’ll try again tomorrow night.

Since I was wide awake I decide I’ll get up for a bit. Then I hear it. That awful sound of my dog chewing on something he isn’t supposed to have. The connector to the “mask.” NO!!!!!!!!! So I get it away from him, chastise him, and go to see how much damage is done. Just the little piece he has is damaged but without it I can’t hook up to the nose things that go against my nostrils. So then I spend about a half hour trying to find where I can order just that, as waiting for the VA to provide it could be another month. Finally I find it and order it and will now spend another week waiting for it to arrive.

Now I am here venting. And breathing. And trying to remain calm. Tomorrow has to be better. I have acupuncture, then I am free to rest and relax all day. And I’m going to do just that.

This is my “mask” it doesn’t even go in my nose, just goes against my nostrils. Even though I can’t use it for a week now, at least I know I can keep it on for up to 7 hours. Maybe it will work.

Summertime & I Don’t Mix

The Heat

Heat is my enemy. The sun touches my face and it stings. The temperature surrounds me and my body aches, my muscles turn to stone. It is kind of like what people with arthritis feel in the winter just backwards. The last 3 years have been good years. I have been completely amazed at how well things have gone. This year, not so much. All I have to do is open a door and whoosh! I am in pain and weak. Really annoying because I’ve made such a nice place to paint for myself on the patio.

Dehydration

I have been sweating this year like a … well like something that sweats a lot. A horse? Do they sweat, I think so. Especially with the mask, oh my, my face is dripping whenever I go out. I have been so sick. I can’t drink enough without drinking too much. Yes, you read that right. If I don’t drink enough the dehydration is worse, but I can in fact drink too much, in which case I am on the verge of or actually vomiting.

What I Can and Cannot Do

So if I get quiet please understand. I don’t feel good. I will keep posting my art as I can do it. And I will try to stick to my schedule, but there are days I might miss. I will be back full force on days I can. I’ll miss you all.

Week #1 On Keto: How Goes It?

Well I have been on keto a week…sort of. My carbs are certainly lower than the average American, but I am not where I am supposed to be. My problem is I am in love with my iced coffees from McDonald’s. It is my start my day off right thing. I can’t drink black coffee, or any kind of coffee that doesn’t have flavor and cream. I was thinking, depending on carbs of course, that one way to start weaning myself off of coffee is to get a single serve machine and use my flavored creamer which is less carbs than my iced coffee at McD’s…I think. Other than that, I have done well!

Today was measure day, and while my weight had been 3 pounds down earlier this week, now it is only 1 pound down but that is still DOWN! My measurements were a little wacky. I find measuring very difficult. I have a picture that came with my nutrition journal, but I still think I missed a few measuring tape placements. Here is how it turned out though:

  • Neck is down 1/2 an inch. Not too likely to mess that one up.
  • Chest is up 3/4 an inch. Not good, but probably had more to do with placement on this one.
  • Bicep down 1 inch…I don’t think so.
  • Waist up 3/4 of an inch. boo!
  • Hips down 1/2 an inch…hoping that is right!
  • Thigh down 1/4 inch, I buy that one
  • Calf down 1/2 inch, maybe
  • Body fat down 0.2%, not much, but I will take it.

So overall for a first week I am happy. My weight, body fat and some measurements are down. I have done well eating vegetables and meat. I have done well avoiding carbs except for my addiction to iced coffees. At least it is McD’s and not Starbucks! Tomorrow I think I will start having mediums and not larges, and looking into how many carbs are in my creamer. There has to be a way to inch my way down. I cannot go cold turkey!

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Oh and I haven’t had any carb cravings like pasta or rice or, in my case, potatoes. I have been very satisfied with what I have been eating. Breakfasts are a little difficult, that is where I am normally carb heavy, oatmeal, cereal, english muffin, bagel, etc. I don’t miss them, but I am struggling to replace them with something I like. This morning I had strawberries and pecans. I had some cheese on my plate but I didn’t like it.

I guess that about covers it. Can’t wait to see what happens next week!

Sleep Apnea and Mental Health

What One Has to Do with the Other

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Sleep apnea is when you stop breathing while you are sleeping. There are different things they look at when they test for sleep apnea. The three I know of are how many times you stop breathing, how long do you stop breathing and then what your pulse ox is at different periods of time while you are sleeping. When I was tested I stopped breathing 8 times in the night. That isn’t great, but it isn’t bad. My problem was my pulse ox. That is how much oxygen is saturating your blood. I drop down to 62%, which is bad, really bad.

When your blood doesn’t have oxygen, neither do your organs, including your brain. So everything suffers. And if you have mental health problems the fact that your brain isn’t getting enough oxygen means it can’t function properly to help you cope with your mental health problems.

Some of the really annoying things about sleep apnea are the headaches every morning, the inability to think straight, the fatigue. I mean there are lots more, but those are the ones that keep me completely befuddled everyday.

Treatment

Sadly there is only one treatment for sleep apnea and that is a CPAP machine. What it does is it goes on your mouth and or nose and when it senses you have stopped breathing it gently pushes air into your mouth and or nose and you start to breathe again. There are 3 masks that I know of, the mouth, nose and full face. I have tried them all and have not been able to keep them on.

The masks are great unless the seal between the mask and your face breaks, then you are in a wind tunnel. In my case that happens constantly. So I get no sleep at all. Well, I start out at 3 hours and then each night it gets worse. Eventually I can’t even keep the seal for the amount of time it takes me to fall asleep.

Now I am to be introduced to a new apparatus. I don’t really like to call it a mask, it doesn’t cover your face. It’s called the Bleep. It has two plugs that go in your nose. You are supposedly able to move, supposedly you don’t lose the seal, supposedly it is loads better. We shall see I guess. I know I really hope it works. A drop in blood oxygen affects every organ in your body. So my liver and kidneys that are overloaded with medicines are attacked even more so. My pancreas is affected, so my diabetes is affected. My lungs are affected so heaven forbid I should get Covid-19 at this point. My intestines are affected so my IBS-C is affected, I am also more likely to get a stroke…I think you get the idea.

My doctor has managed to scare me half to death now, and I was scared before she went on her rant that I had to make this work. So here is hoping. And if you have sleep apnea, please take it seriously. Truly, there is nothing it doesn’t affect.

My Sleep Apnea Struggle

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I have had doctors trying to get me on CPAP for ages. Lots of doctors, PCP, Rheumatologist, Neurologist, Psychiatrist, Physiatrist, Accupuncture/Internal Medicine! Too many. And many attempts have been made. I was put on a face mask, couldn’t sleep more than 3 hours. At the 3 hour mark the seal would be lost not to be regained again until the next night. Then the nose mask, same thing, though not necessarily 3 hours. Then a full face mask, that was worse.

This latest go round with the neurologist was different though. I have gotten to a point that I forget everything. I make an appointment and don’t remember I did it. I go to a room and I don’t know why I am there, now that isn’t so bad. I pick up a pen and I don’t know what I had intended to write. There are things I can’t remember for 5 seconds. No exaggerating. I am honestly thinking of getting a journal to make notes of what I have done and what I need to do throughout the day. And it is different in another way. I am tired, extremely tired. The gravity wells are almost constantly there. But I can’t always sleep. So I just muddle by hoping I don’t forget my own name.

So I believe them, I need to be on the CPAP. I remember when I was first tested they said that while I don’t stop breathing as often as many, my oxygen level drops so low that if I were in the hospital I would be put on a ventilator! So something has to give.

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Today I got a message back they do have a new option, it’s called the bleep. Funny name I thought. So I went online and looked it up. I am afraid to, but I almost hope with this thing. No straps or mask to get out of place and put me in a tornado, talk about a horrible way to wake up…especially without munchkins and a yellow brick road. So maybe, just maybe I can get this taken care of. Maybe if I can get some decent sleep things will really get better.

Oh please Jehovah, let things get better.

Fatigue: The Gravity Wells

What Is a Gravity Well

A gravity well is when you simply cannot stay upright. It feels like somebody found the gravity switch and just started turning it up and up and up. This causes you to feel down and down and down. The only answer to a gravity well that I have found is to give in and go to bed and sleep.

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Many people think we are being lazy, it isn’t that at all. We just have physically hit a wall and can do no more until the well goes away. I am actually fighting one right now. I did too much and now keeping my eyes open and staying upright feels like running a marathon in the matter of minutes.

How I Believe It Is Viewed By Others

From another person’s point of view I haven’t done that much today. A visit to a friends and two telephone appointments. One was about 10 minutes, the other 40 minutes. Not much at all. Oh yes, and I picked up lunch.

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So what business do I have needing two naps? But I do. Of course I do have to be careful though. Sleeping too much can lead to my depression worsening, but not getting enough can lead to my fibromyalgia worsening. It is a tightrope, and I hate it.

I remember once, before fibromyalgia but not before depression, I lived with my aunt. She couldn’t understand a few things. One was gravity wells, “get up! be active! it’ll pass!” but on the other hand she didn’t get how I could be tired but not sleepy. “If you’re tired, sleep.” But that doesn’t work. Tired isn’t the same thing as sleepy. So you can’t win sometimes.

What To Do…

I honestly don’t know. Do what your body needs, but do it in moderation, and don’t listen to others. That’s what I do. I am fighting that second nap right now and trying to do what I know needs to be done today. I mean I haven’t even gotten to the what needs to be done stuff and it is after 8. Well, I am doing this.

Maybe that is the trick. I am sure balance is a good thing. And I am sure that not listening to others who don’t understand the struggle, be it emotional, mental or physical is a good thing. Just keep on trucking. And lean on Jehovah, that’s my go to.

Take care my friends…

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How Things Are Going On My Nutrition Adventure…Diet.

How I Am Progressing

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So things have gone nicely with the numbers area. I’ve lost about 2 1/2 pounds. And I have lost about 3 inches. Though I am a little iffy on some of that. It is slow going, everyone says that is the way to go, but if it is too slow I start to slide back up again. I am getting a little better about not weighing everyday. I personally think with a digital scale it isn’t such a big deal to weigh daily, as long as you do it at the same time everyday. But it does keep me from seeing a great day just before weigh in and then a bad day the day of.

I currently weigh 195 on a tiny 5 foot frame. My goal is 110. Now don’t freak out that is 10 pounds heavier than my best and healthiest weight over the years. I will settle for 120, just because I have gotten a little top heavy recently.

My stomach is currently my worst nightmare. I started at 45 1/4 inches and I remain there. It is one of those bloated bellies at that, just horrifies me. It’s funny, not really, that I have had this bloated belly for years and only just really had it register in my brain in the last few months.

My thigh(s) are down by 1 1/2 inches. That isn’t surprising since most of my exercise is walking. It is slow walking but still a walk. So they really get the most of it all.

What’s Working

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I think I am doing better about getting protein at at least 2 meals a day. I struggle for a protein at breakfast. Which I shouldn’t. I have loads of protein shakes from Nutrisystem, and there are always hard boiled eggs I could get that for the mornings. I don’t really like yolks, but I can cut those out.

Where I Need Work

I started out with a list of 20 things to try to get rid of a stomach. These were sensible things not outlandish, spend 100s of dollars on things. I have only managed 1, the proteins. So I need to figure out that. I started with just do it! and failed. Then I said 1 thing at a time and failed. I just can’t seem to get motivated. There are certainly enough reasons to want to get thinner. I’m diabetic is a big one. But it would also go better on my fibromyalgia and increase energy and keep me from facing other problems, but I still just don’t seem to able to get my act together.

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I have my skinny pictures up around the house, but I don’t even notice them anymore. Anybody have any possible motivational ideas? How do I make myself want this as much as I need it? I would love to hear them. I have a long way to go and I have gotten to that age where it is supposedly more difficult. Exercise is limited due to the fibromyalgia. I have the walking at a relatively slow pace. I also have an exercise regime that was designed by a physical therapy doctor and a trainer. I tried the first one and it was great, and then I lost interest. It comes right back to motivation, I just don’t have it! So PLEASE friends, HELP!

Bipolar: Mania: When My World Spins

I am bipolar. That means I can be very sad for no reason, or out of control happy for no reason. I am on medication for this and as a general rule it works well. Unfortunately, because I also have an anxiety disorder and PTSD my medication is a real balancing act. If you change one little thing everything can go haywire.

I started to realize yesterday that I was sliding into mania, the really happy and out of control part of myself. What each person experiences as mania can differ. For me it is super happy and see how much I can spend and still eat. Yesterday I spent a lot of money on arts and crafts. Which today I realized was more of a problem that I had thought.

Here’s why: over the last few weeks I have found myself trying to do everything! I had already been taking a class on drawing. Then I added learning the ocarina. In the last 2 weeks I have bought things for creative journaling and collage. Then in the last few days I added watercolor and watercolor sketching. And lets not forget my new blog. How many hours are in a day again? And how much space does my little apartment have? Oh and creative cooking, mustn’t forget that either.

Thankfully I am now aware of what I am doing, and I have an appointment with my doctor next week. So hopefully I can get a handle on it all. I mean I really want to do all this stuff, but I need to be realistic too.

For all of you out there that are struggling, just know you are not alone. And there is no shame in getting help.

Writing Slump

I am at a total loss as to what to write about. I have one post planned, but I haven’t been up to doing the research for it. I haven’t been up to doing much of anything for 2 days now.

Yesterday morning at the grocery store my hip just suddenly started hurting. Now I am used to pain, I am in pain all the time. But I struggle with new pain. This was new. And it does not want to go away. So as I struggle with a new pain and getting used to it, I am in an everything slump. I can’t convince myself to do anything. Well I have played my ocarina some. But not much and nothing else. TV and bed, that’s it.

So bear with me, or is it bare? I am going to adjust, I always do, and then I will be able to focus better.

Done Moping Over My Weight Gain

Now that I have had time to mope, take a nap, and look at things more clearly, I am ready to readjust. In general I try to be a positive person. I have a weird sense of humor, but it is humor. I use that a lot in countering health problems. I focus a lot on my faith and I truly believe a better future awaits me per Jehovah’s purpose for me and others and the earth. However, being human and therefor imperfect, I pout and I mope sometimes. Particularly when I think things are going well and then I look back and they aren’t! So as the title says, I am done moping, for now anyways.

So first thing I think I did to get out of the mope was going over what I did and didn’t do from my original research. That showed me how I was falling short, as well as where I can improve.

The second thing I have maybe come to realize is diving in head first wasn’t as great an idea as I thought. In fact, thinking about it right now it is a great way to fail. Makes me think of a story from my much younger days, about 5 in fact. I had been afraid of the water for a few years due to an incident where I swam a great distance very well, but scared my mom half to death, thus scaring me half to death. So mom, who didn’t want me to be afraid of water took me to a swimming class a few years later. She talked to them about my fear and was promised they would take it slow and easy. Day one, they wanted me to jump off the diving board into the deep end. Not slow and easy as far as my mom was concerned. I refused by just turning around walking off the diving board and finding my way to my stuff and leaving. Mom was so proud! The point is you ease your way into swimming and maybe I ought to ease my way into all of this too.

So There are 20 tips to losing belly fat in my research. Some I just can’t do, apple cider vinegar…GROSS. But here is a list of what I think I can do:

  • Increase soluble fiber
  • No trans fat
  • Decrease or no alcohol
  • Increase protein
  • Decrease stress
  • Aerobic exercise
  • Decrease refined carbs
  • No sweet tea
  • Use my fitbit
  • Take omega-3s
  • Little or no fruit juice
  • Probiotic foods, one a day
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Green tea

Boy that was a lot to do at once! So first is determining what I have already done well: little to no fruit juice, little to no alcohol, increase protein.

Next is to choose one thing I can add to my next two weeks: omega 3s. I’ll go at this for 2 weeks. That’s the easiest, I can take a pill. And as I am already on a good schedule for taking my medications this will just slip right in. In fact that is so easy I think I will try to have a cup of green tea each day. That will be the one that I’ll have to work on remembering. So to remember I need to schedule it.

That brings me to the next thing I am trying: I ordered what looks like a really good daily calendar for me. I can schedule what I need to do for each day. It really seems to work on creating habits, which is better for me than just a calendar. I stink at calendars, well my google calendar is good for doctor’s appointments, but not for stuff I want to build as a habit. I tried, it fell by the wayside. The one I have ordered, the Creative Fox daily planner, is very creative and makes you think about how you can improve your life. At least that is how it looks to me.

So this is how I hope to “pull up my big girl pants” and move forward. Hoping it works. I’ll keep you updated!