Sunday, July 23, 2017

Fatigue & Relief

So I have mostly finished getting set up here in my new town. The apartment is awesome, the neighbors are great, and I only wish I had more energy to get back to the book.

I have had my appointment with my new rheumatologist here. While he does not seem very familiar with sarcoidosis, he is a kind and attentive doctor who seems like he will be watching things carefully. The second time I saw him, I forgot to take my BP meds pre-appointment and ended up spending a few hours in the ER. (See, my other docs knew me well enough. If I forgot my meds, they made sure I took them right away and everything would settle down.) I guess I should be thankful that my new doc refuses to take chances. And I bet I won't ever, EVER forget to take my meds pre-appointment, no matter how early I have to be there.

This weekend is not the best. it would be awesome if I felt better, There is live music at the park that I can hear from my open window; the weather has cooled down to the right side of enjoyable; and I don't have my writing desk set up to do anything yet. I should be strolling down to the green to enjoy the music. Instead, I'm stuck inside, watching videos, reading, and blogging. I'm too drained to make the 2-block walk. Thankfully, I made it to the store earlier this morning before this fatigue sunk in. I'm pretty sure the problem is that I haven't had my regularly scheduled infusion. By the time I get it next week, I will be over 2 weeks behind. I never realized how much the infusions helped some of my symptoms.

I guess that, instead of complaining, I should be talking the positives. After all, even though I can't get to the park, I did make it outside for a while to enjoy the beautiful weather. And it really is a spectacular day out. Just a while ago, I went out and fed bread ends to the birds and squirrels! I'm still fascinated by the little creatures who are so friendly with us humans. Remember the friends I made while in the courtyard at my brother's apartment?

Speaking of peaceful, here is a shot of the very peaceful morning on Main:

That's from when I walked over to pick up some foodstuffs.  For a minute, I wondered if something was wrong, then I remembered. Sunday morning. It was so quiet that all I could hear was bird song. Did I mention that this is a "church" town? Sunday mornings are for worship and family. I think that there are about 4 churches in a 6-block radius of my building!

So, yeah, it sucks that I'm stuck inside on a pretty day but, on the other hand, I could be stuck inside and miserable. All in all, I realized how blessed I am. Hopefully, after the infusion I'll feel so much better.

Once I am feeling a bit more up to speed, I will be getting back to work on the book!


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Oh, How I LOVE Dollar Stores!

One of the biggest benefits to living in the Lower 48 again is that I have access to all the "dollar" stores.

  • Dollar Tree - where everything really is a DOLLAR. (Okay, there is the 7% tax thing, but, hey...)
  • Dollar General - lots of premium items and no-name-brand on the cheap
  • Family Dollar - same as Dollar General
Of course, I still love Walmart (for the prices, not always for their practices), but I am starting to get the hang of how to use the "dollar" stores to stretch my budget. I call Walmart and "the Dollars" my Top 4. (And I still love you too, Amazon Prime, but a girl has to shop around.)

Some of you might remember the last time I went nuts over these "dollar" stores. And then, there was also the time I had my romance with Big Lots. The nearest Big Lots is about an hour and a half away in Des Moines. No bueno. 

Anyway, I'm happy with having 3 of the "dollar" places along with Walmart. When I had to throw this apartment together, I used my Amazon Prime for about 10% of what I got - the bed being the most important. The rest, I got from the Top 4. 

For people turning up their noses at the Dollars, I say go ahead and burn your money. Of course, like anyone else, I'd rather have the best of the best. But, like most tight-budget folk, I have to o with the best of the cheap. Sometimes, I have found that paying more doesn't always mean getting better.

For instance, I ordered some kitchen towels from a seller on Prime but was really disappointed with the quality. - especially after laundering them... Afterwards, I picked up a couple more items from Dollar Tree. Guess which was the better bargain:

The raggedy-looking towel on the left? Yeah, I paid too much for that... 

The only reason I didn't replace the more expensive towels with something from Dollar Tree is that there were none in the colors I wanted. Yeah, I have this thing for red. I'll be making another trip to the Tree next week.

Basically, I did my entire kitchen - minus the coffee maker - for around $80. That was between shopping sales at Walmart (for the toaster, staples canisters, and some glass bake ware), then hitting all of the Dollars for the rest. I literally got all of my kitchen towels - minus the horrible ones - mixing utensils and bowls, and miscellany for $1.00 - $5.00 each. I even got dust cans for the bath and bedroom from the Dollars. And, of course, I have photographs...

Also got trash bags & plastic storage bags

Paper towels & (name brand) toilet tissue?  From the Dollars. 

Sugar, flour, baking soda? The Dollars

Bleach and laundry soap? Toilet drop-ins and cleanser? The Dollars.

When I "splurged" the other day and bought myself some of those sparkling cider drinks I love. One dollah each.

Now, I'm not saying that everything from the Dollars is great. That's why I do a shopping circuit between the Dollars, Walmart, and Amazon. I am saying that I know people who consider themselves too good for the Dollars. Let me tell you something: even if I were to magically become rich, I'd still bargain shop. It's stupid to spend more money that you have to. If you want to throw money around, why not throw it at a charity or someone in need? 


I'm pretty much finished with the apartment set-up. The only thing I need - and it's not urgent - are curtains. I'm keeping my eye out for some bargains!


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Praise the Lord & Pass the Peas!

I'm not trying to be irreverent. I truly am praising the Lord. I have so much to be thankful for that I don't even know where to start. But, since I have internet access again, I will try. LOL

I am thankful for family and friends who love me enough to always be there for me. The first things I decorated my new place with where very meaningful reminders of these folks.

From my brother & sis-in-law
because my name is in it!
From my best sister/friend
because she knows me so

By the way, without all my brothers, I would not have been able to make this life change. They offered money, love, encouragement, and continuing support. Not many people are that blessed here on Earth. To top that, I have a brother in Heaven, waiting for me along with the rest who've gone ahead.

I am thankful that I had such an amazing sister. I miss her everyday, but this huge sunflower reminds me of her. She loved the color yellow, and she was so much like the flower: beautiful, stunning, and shining bright.

God blessed me with a nice home where I can begin healing. Of course, it's decorated like a college dorm room, but, hey - a chick was working on a slim budget! 

Like my life - sparse but beautiful

And, because, I still know how to laugh at just about everything... This here is my shopping helper. Let me tell you how I came to love this cart:

I live in a "seniors" building. I never thought of myself as "senior". Heck, I never accepted being middle-aged! The deal here is, you have to be 55+ to reside in the building. I just slid in. As far as I know, there is one other "silver" woman here; the rest of the tenants are definitely gold (by at least 3 layers or more) and they look at me as if they want to feed me or knit me something. I adore them all. They are some of the liveliest, active, busiest folk I've known in a while! I adore them, but I didn't want to be too much like them. When I noticed that most of them use these wheeled carts for shopping trips, I decided I would never have one of my own. That resolved dissolved the first time I walked a block and a half to the market for groceries. 

I call my cart "Beauty" and I never leave home walking without her!
Look at those sleek lines...

She slides open and shut

 Beauty rolls like a dream. Curbs, gravel, little bumps in the sidewalk mean nothing to her! She is perfect for getting things home and into the apartment. And, to tell the whole truth, she gives me something to hold on to when my balance is off.

So, yeah, I have plenty to be thankful for. Of course, I'm still adjusting to a new routine and my surroundings. I'm glad to be near family and to be making some new acquaintances (I have enough friends!).

I'm going to sign off now so that I can go praise the Lord some more. I just can't stop thanking Him for keeping me through such tough times.


Wednesday, July 05, 2017

New Home & New Beginnings

Well, folks, this life changing move of mine just got real. I got into the apartment building that I so badly wanted.

When I lost my sister, I went through such a dark time. I didn't know what I needed to get out of that misery, but I tried looking. Turns out it wasn't a person or a situation. It was a place. This place that I am in.

I never had a doubt that God was going to bless me with what I needed but, this time, what I needed just happened to also be what I wanted. That doesn't happen very often.

This is just a post to give thanks to God and to the people he put in my life. Peoplake who prayed for me when I was so depressed the past couple of years. People who gave to me when they didn't have to. People who just let me drench their shoulders with my tears when I needed.

I'm thankful to my family who supported me and helped me along the way. I am truly blessed - not just in good times but also in times of sadness.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

My (New) Life Adjustment

Living with a disability is challenging in ways other people understand and in ways they don't. Living with an invisible disability has its own special challenges. I like a challenge. Most times.

I have learned various "workarounds" to deal with my cognitive and physical problems. As a matter of fact, I don't even like calling my issues "problems" Let's just call them challenges.

My physical challenges are easier to deal with. I know what I can and can no longer do. The new twist to this is that I have recently relocated to another state and will, for the first time in almost 8 years, be living on my own. When I lived in a household with a roommate or family, I had a lot more support for daily living obstacles that I never really thought much about. Now that I am looking for an apartment here in my new town, I am forced to consider a variety of challenges from new angles.

Getting out and around is going to work differently. When I was living in Anchorage, I knew the streets and basic locations of my personal "landmarks". Because my brain seems to work strangely, there were times when even driving to the most familiar of places (think Walmart on the other side of town) required orienting myself before starting the trip. On a good day, this only required plotting out the route in my head (Get on Old Seward, head towards the church, turn left onto Lake Otis, head down Tudor., etc.) and along the way, I'd make sure to keep track of where I was so I didn't get off route (going past my doctor's office meant I'd missed my turn onto Tudor). On a great day, I didn't miss any turns and have to re-route myself.

Other people are able to use their Google Maps navigation. I can do that too except I might have to pull over to pay attention to the directions because it's hard for me to listen to the instructions while actually driving. Crazy, I know. It's also a little embarrassing. So I find it easier to "self-plot" routes.
Image result for being lost
Also, I could understand North from South and East from West. Of course. I'd lived in Anchorage for most of my adult life.

Now that I am here in my new town (thankfully a very small town!), I am staying with family while I wait for my application to go through on an apartment. My brother and sister and law have told me that I am more than welcome to use their vehicle anytime I want. I've told them they might want to reconsider that offer. If you think it's embarrassing losing my way in a town I spent over 50 years in, just imagine getting lost in a tiny spot where nothing is more than 5 minutes away from anything else.

Out of my price range for 3 lifetimes!
Yesterday while riding around with my nephew (who has a learner's permit and must be accompanied by a licensed driver), he realized that he had a band practice. He wanted to know if I could drop him off at his school and make my way home okay.

Uh... Probably not. Not only was I still recovering from a weekly medication, but I was just a little bit lost. I had a vague idea of which direction home was, but I wasn't completely sure. So we ended up going home and getting my other nephew (also in possession of only a learner's permit) to do the drop-off.

I can't describe how frustrating this all is. Pre-Slip, I would have been able to make my way around this town on the first day here. Knowing where I was wouldn't matter because I'd have been able to reason out the directions by following a grid or just finding my way back to the street my family lives on. I no longer have that ability or confidence. I've got memories of once getting lost and having a mild panic/anxiety attack while on my way to a doctors appointment. The same doctor in the same location I've been going to for years!

Image result for downtown clear lake, ia
This is where I want to live
Not exciting, but location is everything
I've decided that I probably will not own a car again until I get better. The apartment that I am applying to live in is income restricted and for seniors only. It's situated beautifully in the most convenient downtown location - close to shopping, banking, and leisure. Thank Jesus and please pray that I get in. Half my stress about living solo will be erased if I can get a spot in that building. I won't have to depend on having a car to do most of my necessary business and it will be hard to get lost if I leave my apartment.

Should I have to move into my second or third choice of an apartment, I will be out of walking distance to grocery stores and my bank. That means I will need to rely on family or the special transportation provided for people like myself. Or that I will have to get a car.

Managing daily living is going to also be easier should I get the apartment I prefer. Because shopping is closer, I will be able to get groceries and other necessities at my own pace. Being able to buy as I need things (versus stocking up) will be easier on my budget. The biggest plus is that I will be getting regular exercise in small, daily doses. Even when my balance is off, I can manage short distances. Back in Anchorage, there was no need even thinking about walking to the grocery store - too far away and the route isn't pedestrian-friendly - and the closest convenience store is too pricey. Here, there is a discount grocery literally around the corner from where the apartment is. The bank I joined is directly across the street, there is a Woolworth-type mercantile a block away, and I the streets are very pedestrian-friendly - even for the elderly and physically challenged. There's even a library and church within walking distance.

Praying, dealing with it all, and just living are my immediate goals. Yes, I am out of my routine of many years, but I want to focus on getting healthy and whole again. I want to enjoy this journey - no matter how rocky and precarious it can sometimes be. All that means is that I have to be life-adjustment ready. I am. With God's help, I truly am.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

AT&T Their Trek 2HD and Their Online Reps


It's been a rough couple of days trying to get my phone ordered. The highs and lows have been ridiculous. Before I do this device review, let me just do a quick rundown of the valley-and-peak situation that led to me getting to try it out. (Oh, and I am talking about the AT&T Trek 2HD tablet, btw.)
My Note, which has been acting like a pre-pubescent child for weeks, finally hit puberty and went completely nuts on me. Basically, the dang thing bricked out. When I checked, I heard that the Note 8 is probably not coming out until September. That just won't do. I love the Note, but I need a phone now.
  1. I went online to upgrade to the Galaxy S8 Plus, which I've heard nothing about but the best things.
  2. That went well at first, but there were some glitches so I signed into the Help/Chat function to expedite things. (I was having a sarc-rage morning.)
  3. First chat rep ("Steve") is ever so happy to help me. He tells me that there is a promotion going on where I can not only get my much-needed phone, but I can also get the Galaxy Tab E and - yes, and - the Gear S2 watch. Wonderful. (I think the word I used in the chat was "Wowza".)
  4. "Steve" gives me the news that I cannot add the bonus items using my old grandfathered unlimited plan. I have to change to the Unlimited 3GB plan. Fine. I was going to eventually have to make a change. I do mention a concern about my budget and ask for a moment to do some math. Being helpful (or so I thought), "Steve" gives me a very precise amount of what my new monthly charges will be with all 3 devices on this new plan. And I mean he was specific down to a penny. I do some budget math and decide I can afford that amount. So "Steve" puts things in motion and we then move on to the devices I want.
  5. I should have known something was off when "Steve" processed the order for the tablet before doing anything about the phone. But he seems a nice enough guy and, like I said, I was having a bad day of the brain.
  6. Tablet is ordered and confirmed. At this point (another oddity), "Steve" says that he needs to pass me on to another rep to complete the rest of the order. Ohhhh-kay...
  7. Now I am dealing with "James" and he needs a moment to look at the what "Steve" has done to this point. We eventually discuss how excited I am to be getting my 2 freebies, how glad I am to be getting a new phone, etcetera.
  8. It's not until "James" mentions that the tablet and watch will not be part of my order that I realize that something is seriously wrong.
  9. (Let me stop here to mention that, because of my poor brain function, I tend to take meticulous notes about business transactions if I don't have a trusted witness. In this case, I was constantly printing the Chat record to a PDF file. Just in case.)
  10. I begin to remind "James" of portions of "Steve's" offers. Actually, what I did was to copy/paste those portions of the chat back in so that "James" could see them.
  11. "James" got so frustrated that I wasn't okay with not getting what "Steve" promised (he kept trying to convince me that I was misunderstanding something) that he turned me over to Chat with a 'supervisor'. So, now I am chatting with "Leo". Great. I'm on my third rep and I've been in this chat for at least an hour and a half.
  12. "Leo" also tries to convince me that I am misunderstanding what I can get with the promotion. I remind him of "Steve's" offers and of how specific he was even about what my new monthly cost would be. 
  13. Finally, I tell "Leo" that I would rather go into a store and deal with reps face-to-face because he and the other reps have me so confused I can't tell what's going on. They have changed my plan, begin shipment of a tablet to me here in Iowa, and I still have no phone.The phone upgrade is what I came for - so why do I have a tablet and no phone?! I tell "Leo" that I not only will go into a store for service on the matter, but I will be taking a copy of the Chat record. At that point, he pretty much starts "taking the5th". I don't blame him at all.
  14. Hilariously, before we end the Chat, "Leo" goes back on script and wants to tell me what a pleasure it's been to serve me. And he finishes by wanting to know if there is anything else he can do for me today. My response (after I finished LOL'ing myself into a stomach ache): "Seriously???"
  15. I went to the nearest AT&T store (which happens not to be a corporate store, by the way) and the young woman there fixed my problem inside of 15 minutes. She's personally going into a store in the next town to pick up my phone and watch, then call me to pick it up. That would be quicker than waiting for mail delivery. Oh, and I left with a tablet in hand.
Okay. Now, this is where I can begin the review of the Trek. I got the Trek instead of the Galaxy because of the personal opinion/recommendation of the young woman who so beautifully fixed the mess that those other folks caused. 

About this Trek, where do I start? Maybe with the Pros first:
  • It's very sturdy and well-built. I think it's a tough little device that would last a long time.
  • The display is pretty - though I will have more to say about that in a moment.
  • It's easy to set up and use.
  • Battery life is great.
The Cons? Unfortunately, there are more of these than of the Pros:
  • It's not a Samsung, for one thing. I love the Samsung brand and very rarely step away from it. That makes any other device hard for me to get used to. So, this one is totally on me.
  • It's not as user-friendly as Samsung devices. Again, that might be because of what I'm used to. (And ,my brain doesn't adapt well to new things.)
  • The display is nowhere near as crisp and red apple-delicious as a Samsung - any Samsung.
  • The built-in functions are not familiar or comfortable for me.
  • The USB is not compatible for anything else I own.
Basically, I realize that I am a Samsung loyalist. It's the brand I have used for my devices for years and it feels familiar to me. I don't like change.

I'm rushing back to the store tomorrow to give this thing back and get the Samsung. With that device, I will feel like I know what I'm doing. I have never had the watch, but it's also a Samsung.

That will make me happy.  


Friday, June 23, 2017

**REVIEW** Under Armour Shoes

As I have said over and over again, I have bad feet. My problem is that, when I gained all that prednisone weight, my feet went flat. Flat feet + poor balance = calluses. Calluses on the soles of the feet and toes make for very uncomfortable walking.

Because my balance has not improved (and my feet are still flat), getting rid of the calluses is only ever a temporary solution. I have tried every kind of insole that I could find anywhere. Some work better than others, but none really alleviated the pain. I have bought (and received gifts of) shoes that were supposed to be ultra comfortable. Nothing ever worked well enough (or long enough) to help.

When I was getting ready to leave Alaska, one of my "play" nephews wanted to give me an early birthday gift. He ordered shoes and had them delivered to my destination. Let me tell you what... I love these shoes so much that I have since ordered an additional 2 pairs. I am going to throw out/give away every other shoe I own. These are the shoes that I have been using all this first week in my new location:

They are actually a much darker pink & look better than the photo

That's the Women's Charged Bandit 2 Cross-Country Running Shoe by Under Armour.

For the first time in probably 4 years, I have been able to walk comfortably and for long periods without worrying about my feet. And this first week here has been the perfect test. I've been walking a minimum of 5 miles a day - before noon. In 6 days' time, I have been apartment hunting (and just finished the looong process of applying for the one I want), changed over most of my medical arrangements, and opened a local bank account.

My feet have not felt this good since I first got sick. I might not be able to do anything about my general fatigue, brain fog, or other general medical symptoms, but I can now be happy about my feet.

These shoes are so amazing. Just to look at them, you wouldn't think they were any different from most other good brands of shoes. The one thing that tipped me off that they might be something special is this part around the back:

That little rubberized piece of bracing gives great support, but it mostly just looks great. I figure that adding that touch meant the manufacturer cares about details.

The inside of the shoe doesn't look all that special but, boy... when I put it on and took that first step, I thought I might be dreaming. Still, I wasn't convinced. I put on both shoes and went for a walk around the courtyard of my brother's apartment. Now I was convinced.

I don't just like (or even love) these shoes, I need them. The apartment that I am applying to live in is in such a prime location downtown that most of my shopping and other business needs are within a few blocks. The bank that I joined is right across the street; the Woolworth-type mercantile store is a block and a half up the street one way while the library is the same distance in the opposite direction, and part of the lake/park area is about four blocks straight ahead. Oh, and there is even a small neighborhood discount grocery store nearby. Perfect, right? Since I don't have a vehicle yet and don't plan on getting one anytime soon, I want to take advantage of my surroundings.That means walking most places. The walking will also please my doctors.

I've been wanting to get more exercise and walking is the easiest (and cheapest) way. In Anchorage, this was not something that I liked to do - too much anxiety, traffic, crime, and stray animals. Here in my new town, the pace is slower. That apartment building is my dream location because it makes me feel like I can fully enjoy my surroundings.

These shoes... Man. I am so happy with them. I even splurged a little and ordered a second pair of the sneakers and a pair of the slip-ons for getting around the inside of the building.

(Can you tell how excited I am to be here in this place?)

So, yes, I am going to be telling every single person I know about this brand. If you have been trying to use insoles and other temporary measures to get relief, you must try Under Armour. I don't think I want to ever own another brand and I will forever be thankful to Randy for such a lovely gift.


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