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 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.


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


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.

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.


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!

How Self-Care Has Made a Difference to Me

My Initial Introduction to Self-Care

Many years ago I went to my first therapist at the insistence of my then boyfriend. I went in and promptly had a panic attack. I just walked in and started to sob. I didn’t know what it was at the time, I just knew all of the sudden I was horrified and a little more than embarrassed.

Within a few sessions she told me that she wanted me to do something I enjoyed once a week. She didn’t call this self-care, it was just an instruction and it wasn’t the easiest one. I had no idea what I would enjoy. I didn’t even know if I could enjoy anything anymore. Ultimately I went to a piano store in the mall and I would choose some sheet music and a piano and pluck out some melodies. I don’t actually know how to play a piano, but I knew enough to make the tune. No one ever said anything about me being in there, probably driving away customers, they just let me pluck, pluck, pluck.

I came to really enjoy those days, but eventually they disappeared from my life and as it usually does, life took many turns, good and bad.

Many Years Later…

For the last 2 or 3 years I have found myself in and out of therapy, both group and individual. And about a year ago a therapist brought up “self-care.” Like I said, my previous therapist had never used the term so I was baffled. What is self-care? I imagined it meant much like it sounded, to care about self. Again, am I even capable? I can care about Jehovah, I can care about my family, I can care about my friends, but can I care about or for me?

Somehow, I never managed to connect it with those days in the piano store and so week after week I still just didn’t understand.

Then One Morning…

I was laying in bed and I thought “DAY TRIP!” West Virginia is only two states away and I have not been there before. So I jumped up and prepared myself, the car, and the dog, and we were off. In the end I only spent about 5 minutes in West Virginia, but we saw so many beautiful things along the way. At one point we were completely surrounded by mountains, it was wonderful. Even getting lost on the way back (we lost GPS somewhere in Virginia) was fun. I’d see a sign, try to judge where I was or if anything sounded familiar, and pick a turn. (I don’t really recommended this as a way to travel.)

By the time I did finally get home I understood. Self-care. It’s different for everyone. You have to look for what will make you happy even if it is just for a little bit. I couldn’t wait to get back to my therapist. “I get it, I get it! It’s fun!” Now I have a few things I do for self-care: manicures, pedicures, day trips, visits to friends, music (I’m learning the ocarina), art (I am learning to draw and to do watercolors, and I paint and do soft pastels).

I think the best way to say it is: Self-care is fun. So include some fun in your life. It keeps the stress down, and keeps a good balance in life.

Thanks to Rising Star for his article that inspired me to write about my experience with self-care.

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.

The Power of a Smile

I just skimmed through a positivity post and I couldn’t help but notice one thing was missing. The smile. It is scientifically proven that smiling releases neuropeptides, these fight off stress! And can’t we all do with a little less stress? Next some chemicals come into play: dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin.

Dopamine. This works in the pleasure center of our brains. It helps with both physical and mental well-being. So it helps with how we feel, and how we move, but also it helps our memory…obviously I am not smiling enough! Ha!

Endorphins. I think most of us have heard of endorphins. Mostly we think of endorphins being released when we work out really hard and then feel great afterwards, yep, that’s them. But you can get that same “runner’s high” by smiling! Okay, smiling won’t get rid of those unwanted pounds, but it will make us feel good, even great. Another benefit is it’s a mild pain reliever.

Serotonin. This works as an antidepressant. So enough said there.

So we have talked about the benefit to self, but how about benefit to others. Often times we smile at someone and they smile back. And truth is we could have just made their day. Or we may have just started them on the way to the benefits talked about previously, which, oh! could make their day!

One last benefit, well I am sure there are more, but one last for here. Smiling increases productivity at work. I can attest to this. I have had some low down jobs and when I compare my two worst it is obvious how a smile can do good. One job, before I had realized the benefits of the smile, I was miserable all the time, I did not do as good of a job as I probably could have. I was anything but a success. Now there were other things at play here, but it all could have been better if I just would have smiled as much as possible.

The other job was not a difficult job but it wasn’t the best of environments. Well, it was fast food with a moody boss. I smiled all the time at this job. I worked my way from minimum wage to a salaried management job with benefits in less than 6 months. My best tool? My smile.

Now obviously this does not qualify as a scientific study, but they are out there. This is just my personal experience showing that the science works. So when you are faced with something you don’t really want to do, smile. If you are stressed, smile. It hurts? Smile. It will do you good.

Starting Fresh: Part 2

So about a week ago I posted my new plan on losing weight and I thought you might enjoy a progress report!

Tomorrow is measuring day, but I have weighed myself today, and in 6 days I have lost 2 pounds! And that is despite rain that kept me from walking. And also not completely following the diet.

What I have not done. I have not done the soluble fiber, I have not done the whole grain carbs, no fatty fish, no apple cider vinegar. Intermittant fasting went out the window I think. I quit paying attention to that one anyway. I never made the full 45 minutes of aerobic exercise in a day and I didn’t lift weights. Sounding pretty bad!

What I have done! I started a exercise program designed by a physical therapy doctor, it is easy in that I can actually do it and it doesn’t make me break a sweat. I have increased my protein, I think that is a biggie. I have had probiotic foods, dark chocolate…YEA! I have had green tea on occasion. I avoid alcohol, trans fat, no sodas or sweet tea. And with that I have been successful.

What I need to do. I think for starters is getting more vegetables, celery and carrot sticks are good for now I think. And adding the fatty fish. How I wish that included scallops and shrimp. I want to go to an Asian grocery store and get kimchi to try, I think I might like that since it is spicy. And increase my time walking or what I call dancing, Ha!

So that is my update. Here is what I look like now, and we can start watching me shrink together…oh I hope!

I doubt this is much different from last week, but we’ll keep following it and see if we can’t get me thinner.

Starting Fresh

So I have never been a healthy eater. That is even despite liking vegetables. Most things I like are not fatty. I do love my wrong grains. Most of the problem lately, lately being the last 15 years, is I have fibromyalgia pretty badly and generally I have a choice, cook and dirty up the kitchen or don’t cook and get the kitchen clean. Then there is the standing, I’ve tried sitting in the kitchen but I end up getting up and down so much to watch things it defeats the purpose. Exercise is very difficult for any decent amount of time and intensity is nil. So wah, wah, wah, and boo, hoo, hoo!

About 2 weeks ago I saw myself from the side…Accchhhhh!!! I am round! I have the belly I swore I would never get. I can handle the hips, I can handle the fatty face, the upper arms, the thighs, but NOT the belly! (And steer clear of my calves too.)

That all being said today I made a decision. I am going on a diet. Sort of. I did some research on websites that weren’t trying to sell me anything and made out a healthy diet list. This is not the latest fad, or a magic pill, it is just determination (so not good at that), plain healthy eating, and exercise.

So as for the determination, I have decided to approach this the way I quit smoking. I was studying the Bible at the time and I knew that Jehovah wanted me to quit. God does not want us doing things to our bodies that would hurt them. But I was so stuck. After trying several different things that did not work I went on the patch. Now keep in mind that is not ending an addiction it is changing the delivery system. But it did allow me to slowly decrease my drug dosage. And I did something else that worked like a charm, even under the most trying of circumstances, I prayed! It was a simple prayer that I just kept calling back to mind when I wanted a smoke, “Jehovah, please help me overcome my addiction.” Now repetitive prayers are really not what Jehovah wants in most instances. They become rote and lack meaning. But this prayer I meant with all my heart. And ultimately I quit and I haven’t had a cigarette in 15 years. Wow, didn’t realize it had been so long. So why not the same thing with my “diet” When I feel week I just need to pray, and to mean it. So that is my plan.

Plain healthy eating. For weight loss it seems to be increase fiber with vegetables, increase protein, eat fatty fish, eat soluble fat, probiotic foods (basically fermented foods), decrease carbs, no sugar so no sodas (that is okay with me…but my sweet tea!!!). A few things I am going to try though I don’t know if they will work are apple cider vinegar and green tea. Worth a shot if I can tolerate them.

Next is exercise. This is really a toughie for me. Too little and I get no effect, too much and I get immeasurable pain. So another plan, I am going to start with 5 minute walks 3 times a day. After a few days I am going to up it to 10 minutes. And finally to 15 minutes. They, whoever they are, say that 45 minutes a day is good for weight loss.

Lastly a few lifestyle changes. First is lower stress. Overall when left to myself I am stress free. But I certainly don’t want to isolate myself to achieve my goals. So I have to work on staying calm in social settings. Practice makes perfect, and breathing exercises help too. Tracking my food and exercise is another tip and with my fitbit I have it covered. I may have to take on some omega-3 as I don’t see me eating as much fish as is recommended. Intermittent fasting is recommended and I am going to see tomorrow if I can do it.

So all this sounds like a lot! And part of me says take it a little at a time. But I have never been good at a little at a time. I think I’ll do better if I hold my nose and jump right into the deep end. I mean I am capable of all of this i.e. I know how to swim, so what is to stop me except me?

My goal? Well, right now it is this stomach! I have to lose 9″ to be at the top end of acceptable so we’ll go for one inch at a time and aim for 9 to start. What a task I have set before myself! But Jehovah and I can do it and we will do it!