Saturday, March 23, 2013

Great Plagues in History

Happy Saturday all. It's the perfect day to brush up on our history. Yes, school on a Saturday. Get over it.

How many remember anything about the great plagues in history? You should; they were monumental. Catastrophic. Worldwide game-changers. Thanks to this fine website, I found a tidy list of plagues and epidemics to refer to. Some of the highlights:

1. Smallpox. This disease alone is responsible for hundreds of millions of deaths before being eradicated in the 1970's.

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2. The Spanish Flu. In two short years, this epidemic (pandemic?) managed to kill upwards of 100 million people in the early 20th Century.

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3. The Black Death or Black Plague. Over the course of 300+ years and many pandemics, this set of diseases killed an estimated 75 million people.
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There are many more listed. Go read up on them, I'll wait right here. Go. I'm going to get another cup of coffee while I wait.

So now that all that is fresh, lets explore some other plagues in history. Those would be the plagues that hit my house. Without mercy, these epidemics wear me out, wear me down, and are the leading reason I have a standing reservation at the funny farm down the road. I'm not adding pictures to these. That would be too frightening.

1. The Curious Case of the Always Empty Ice Trays. Seriously, how hard is to run that little tray under a stream of water and tuck it back in the freezer? Scratch that. They do end up back in the freezer more times than not, but they are bone-dry empty. I have a freezer with an ice machine. It broke several years ago and I'm too damn cheap to get it fixed. And I'm always the one left holding the empty try when it's time for a nice cold drink.

2. The Great Zoo Catastrophe, AKA Lions, and Tiger, and Bears, OH MY! Ok, I don't have lions or tigers, or even bears for that matter. But I do have five dogs and four cats in residence. And yes, this is an epidemic of my own making. Puppies and kittens are too damn cute for me to resist. Especially when they're lost or abandoned. It's a pity they have to grow up. Anyways... They bark and meow, fight and chase, growl and hiss, and howl and whine. To the point I am bat-shit crazy most days. No, I'm not going to add any bats. There are enough living in my head. Just this morning, the two youngest dogs came running for the door to come back inside. I made the grievous error of turning my back on them to open said door. Next thing I know, I'm on my ass because they didn't get the brakes locked down fast enough. At least I fell on the biggest one to break my fall. Asshole.

3. Buckle up, this is the big one. Death By Testosterone. 20+ years ago, I married the love of my life. He's a guy (obviously). Through the years, we were blessed with two wonderful children. Both boys. Over the course of our lives together, we've had countless pets. Most of whom have been male. See the trend? Man...boys...males. Way too much fucking testosterone around me. It's poisonous! I can't single-handedly produce enough estrogen to counteract it. I'm frequently driven to the relative safety of my bedroom  by all the belching, farting, scratching, and general lack of decorum. At least until they figure out where I've gone and invade en masse.

I'm going to go hide in the laundry room today. It's a sure bet they won't find me down there.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Preaching to myself

Fair warning: This post may find me using words not fit for polite company.

I truly believe that anger will get you nowhere. Anger closes the door to a happy life. Anger makes it difficult to get along with others. I remind myself constantly that getting angry at the behavior of others doesn't accomplish a damn thing. It just ruins my day. And life is too short for that.


Well, today, I'm angry. I'm pissed. I'm full of vexation, animosity, indignation, fury, ire, rage, and resentment. I'm going to throw either a cat fit or a hissy fit. Thank you, thesaurus.

I got up today prepared for the normal course of cleaning. By normal, I mean the usual things one does to keep a neat and orderly home. Some laundry, dusting, sprucing of the bathroom and kitchen, sweep and mop the floors.

Instead, I've found myself (once again) cleaning up the messes left behind by others who live in this house. Messes that I shouldn't have to fucking deal with. Food messes. Drink messes. Dishes where they don't belong. Clothing everywhere. Garbage here, there, and everywhere. And why is it so flipping hard to refill the damn ice trays?

I haven't even started on what I wanted to accomplish today, except to start the laundry. And even to do that, I had to fold numerous loads left by someone else because they needed something washed, but can't possibly be troubled to fold a damn thing. No, instead they shovel it into baskets, stomp it down into a tightly woven mess of sweatshirt arms, blue jeans legs, and socks. Which is, of course, the perfect cat bed and now should really be rewashed because it's full of hair. Tough shit, y'all, you're getting hairy clothes in your piles.

I'm pissed so my stress is up, adrenalin is flooding my system. My normal case of the shakes has turned into my own awkward version of the Harlem Shake. Which I fail to see the humor in, but that's another post entirely.

You know the phrase seeing red? That's me right now. I can't even stand my own level of anger right now, that's how bad it is. I want to throw things, break things, throttle the people that do this. But that would just make MORE of a mess to clean up.

I'm going to go clean and continue preaching to myself. Maybe after a good long lecture, I'll calm down. I will say, it's a damn good thing that no one else is home. I'd either be headed to jail or the mental ward.

Friday, March 8, 2013

A serious post

This post has been rolling around in my head for awhile. Actually, not the post, but the information. I've been processing, researching, looking for others talking about it, etc. This is also sort of a coming out for me. I haven't talked about it to very many people.

About a month ago, I was diagnosed with a condition known as Essential Tremors. It used to be called Benign Essential Tremors, but they can be anything but benign. The tremors make it hard to drink, eat, write, apply make-up, even pluck your eyebrows. Anything that requires fine motor movement is affected.

Essential Tremor (ET) is a neurological condition with no known cause. And while the tremors may make many people think of Parkinson's Disease, they are two different beasts. There is also no definitive test to diagnose ET. Rather, it is diagnosed through a process of elimination. My neurologist gave me a thorough physical exam, testing strength from different angles of muscle use, which is also helpful in gauging the tremors themselves. She also tested my reflexes, at some points on my body that I didn't even know were reflex points. Turns out, I'm hyper reflexive. Hit one point, they all react and I can't begin to control it. And it is very likely related to the ET.

We also discussed family history, thoroughly. In my reaching out to everyone in the family, I discovered my aunt has tremors, though she didn't verify a medical diagnosis. I recall my grandmother shaking, though neither my mom or her sisters have any recollection of same. So is my condition familial (hereditary)? We're not sure. We determined that my thyroid is fine, as is some level of systemic inflammation measured though blood work. So she came to ET as a diagnosis. At this point, we're not going to do an MRI; she sees no reason to, based on my symptoms to date. But if symptoms change, I'll be signing up for that. As an aside, I tend toward claustrophobia. Yay.

So what are my symptoms? A whole lot of shaking, primarily in my hands/arms. Most people that noticed told me that, perhaps, just maybe, dear god woman! cut back on your caffeine. Yeah, I drank A LOT of coffee, and not that wimpy decaf stuff. After dumping my consumption to a mere one or two cups a day, and supplementing with decaf (because, damn it, I love the taste of my coffee) I was still shaking. Just as bad.

There are times I shake so much that writing is a challenge. Oh, I can write all day long, but reading it might be a bit of a challenge to others. I've learned to print more. There are times I shake so much that drinking is a challenge. I've learned to not fill my cup so full and hold it with my left hand, which shakes just a wee bit less than my right. There are times I shake so much that eating is a challenge. Peas or corn on a fork? Forget it. I've learned a spoon can be my friend. I do much better with foods I can stab with the fork.

But it goes beyond shaking. I also have muscle twitches. It might be my arms, my shoulders, my legs, a hip, a back muscle, a neck muscle. I liken it to an earthquake. The pressure builds up in there and suddenly lets loose. It might be a small twitch, or something much more powerful. I once threw my mouse across the room. I didn't have a good hold on it and my arm twitched. Rather forcefully.

I also have some sensations, for lack of a better word, deep in some of my larger muscles. Particularly my thighs. They, too, are part of the whole. The only way I've come up with to describe this sensation is to say my muscles are humming. Deep down inside, like bone-deep. This part of it comes and goes. I'm grateful when it disappears for awhile because it is beyond annoying. When I'm on my feet a lot, it makes my legs tired really fast. When I'm sitting or lying down, they hum constantly, like they're plugged into an outlet. It's sort of a pulsing, just like the shakes. They've now been humming for three straight days, 24/7.

Recently, probably because I'm paying much closer attention to what my body is doing, I've noticed my speech patterns are different. I swear there are times that I stutter. Not like continuously, but just a hitch or two while saying a word. Or my tongue will tangle while I'm talking. Or I just can't find the word. It's annoying and this aspect really bothers me.

So did I just wake up one morning with the shakes wondering what the hell was wrong with me? No, it was very gradual. In my recent memory, covering a period of many years, I don't remember NOT shaking to some degree. I've tried to think back to milestone moments or particular times I remember well to determine if I had the shakes at that moment in time. I can't do it. But during the last year or two, it is measurably worse. And when I'm tired, it's worse. When I'm dealing with a lot of stress, it's worse. If I get carried away with caffeine, yep, you guessed it. It's worse.

What is the future going to be with ET? I have no idea. For some, it remains an annoyance that they live with. For many others, it progresses and gets worse. Much worse. It has the potential to be debilitating. Life-altering. I'm part of the group for whom a drink will calm the tremors, but only for a little while. It doesn't work for everyone. And, understandably, isn't recommended as a continual treatment.  There are medications that help, but don't cure. The most accepted medication is a beta-blocker more commonly used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease. Sometimes, anti-anxiety meds are used. My aunt tried Xanax and didn't tolerate it well. It basically zoned her out. There is also a surgical procedure available for when it gets really bad and/or intolerable. It's a procedure known as deep brain stimulation. In short, a device is implanted in the brain that supplies an electrical current to the area of nerves responsible for the movements of affected areas. I'm not fond of the idea of a cattle prod being buried in my brain.

In part, I'm still processing all this. I've started  more in-depth research. I'm searching for others to talk to. From what I can tell, there is no support group anywhere in the state of Idaho for this. I'd rather not medicate if I don't have to, so I'll start searching homeopathic methods of treatment. I've read that acupuncture can help; so maybe I'll look into that.

When I have a bad day, I try not to let it get me down. When others offer snarky remarks, I do my best to ignore it, or alternatively, stand up for myself. Depends on who and what. When someone is dismissive, I do my best to not take it personally. It's just one more facet of me that I may not like, but will have to learn to deal with.

Am I scared? Yes, deep down, I'm terrified. But I'm tough and I'm a survivor. Like so many other things in life, this will be dealt with one day at a time, in the best way I know how. Whatever that may be.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I'd suffer a lot for the perfect pair of shoes.

Ugh. That's all I have to say about this afternoon. UGH.

I live in a small town for a reason. Less people. Less traffic. Less headaches. Did I mention less people? A people person I am not. I love my small group of friends. Everyone They tend to irritate me.

And yet, I enjoy a good shopping trip. Especially a rockin' coupon shopping trip! Go figure.

Anyway, I had to go to the "city" to stop at the doctor's office. But, you know, while I'm there, I need a few things. And my brother, who is recuperating from surgery, requested a certain flavor of Gatorade. I didn't go out with the intent of shopping today, it was merely a  by-product.

I made it through  the stop at the doctor's office. I was only having blood drawn for some tests, but still had to wait since they usually only do that in the AM hours. Which I didn't know. Not that it mattered; I'm at work in the mornings. Made another stop to pay a bill since I was in town.

Stopped at Target looking for the magic flavor. No luck, but I just happened to swing through the shoes. It never hurts to look!! And LOW AND BEHOLD (and the angels really did sing), there _THEY_ were. On clearance. The very shoes I saw when they first put them out so long ago, but wasn't about to pay full price for. On clearance. 50 FREAKING % OFF!!! And just one pair left in my size. And if that weren't magical enough, I found another pair I LOVED for even more than 50% off. I quite nearly threw a party right there in the shoe department.

I'm telling you, there were harps playing, fireworks exploding, and rainbows glittering! That sneaker is as comfortable as a wrestling shoe but hides a wedge inside. And that wedge boot? Lovely!

All that happiness totally negated the bad parts of the afternoon. The people. The traffic. The headaches. The toilet that flushed because in order to shut the stall door I was an inch away from standing on the commode. The white-knuckled lady trying to muscle my Tahoe out of the way with her little gerbil under the hood powered something. And the stop at Wal-Mart. I swore off that blood-sucking store nearly a year ago. I stopped today in search of the magic flavor for my brother. Yes, I love him that much. They were out of magic but I walked out with a bottle of wine and dinner, so I guess it was worth it.

Awesome shoes are worth damn near anything!!