Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Using nomorerack.com

A friend of mine recommended nomorerack.com to me.

I'd checked it out once, and thought that there wasn't much on the first few scrolls worth paying for shipping for.

That was before I realized it was $2 per item to ship things.

I didn't go back out there again to do any more shopping and almost forgot about it.

But, I was stuck at home about three weeks before Christmas and knowing that I was struggling to come up with good ideas for Christmas presents and worried about stretching my budget. I decided to do some online shopping and one of the places I checked out was nomorerack.com.

Admittedly, the two items I got without issue weren't very expensive and were only stocking stuffers. But I got them, they work VERY well (texting gloves and portable cell phone chargers) and went over really well as gifts.

The ONE thing I ordered, but never received, was of significantly higher value vastly discounted.

However, the fact that I didn't receive it was through no issue from the retailer. They shipped it within five days (when they stated five to ten days). The delivery was within two days of shipping (when it was estimated to be a five day window for shipping). However, the item was stolen off of my doorstep.

I reached out to the retailer since technically I hadn't received the product because I wasn't sure if I had any chance at recovering the money for then un-received item... but since I had paid with paypal (intentionally) I knew there was some possibility... I just didn't know the steps to file a claim.

I sent an email with the tracking details, the fact that it had been delivered, but never received and asked them about the next steps.

To be fair, I imagine the pre-Christmas emails around shipping issues was probably VAST and INSANE... but I don't think they read the email. Their response was something along the lines of 'you should have your tracking number by now and can research it to see what delivery timelines should be'. Um. Yeah. I told you the tracking number and that it had documented the date of shipped delivery IN THE PAST. The email wasn't very helpful.

I replied back indicating such... and got a second useless email. Something along the lines of 'it should be delivered by now' and only reply if you still don't have your package - with the 'ticket' closed. I replied back to that email indicating that if the delivery company had indicated that shipping was complete TEN DAYS ago and I still didn't have the package, that it was unlikely to ever get to me and in fact, was most likely stolen from my doorstep.

I got a third email. This time, they read the conversation (or if you believe my more cynical friends, we hit the magic three email mark where they just do whatever they can). I was worried about a long and lengthy process and filling out forms and all that and finding out at the end that theft at my doorstep wasn't something they had control over nor did they need to do anything about it.... and I instead got a full and complete refund. No more questions, no hesitation... they just gave me the money back for the item. Admittedly, they probably have their own paperwork for theft and insurance and all that. But, I'll have to admit. I was pretty impressed and relieved.

Initially, the event had me completely turned off about shopping online. And I do think before I do any 'big' shopping events that I'll have to decide if I want to ship my items to a different address. But, it's restored my faith in the fact that it's something worth pursuing again. I just wish there was an easier way to do things. And that my neighbors were more trustworthy. Though I do have to admit, I'm pretty sure that the culprits were the upstairs neighbors who moved out in the middle of the night a couple of nights after the item was stolen. No way to know for sure, of course... but most of my neighbors have been there for a bit and are pretty trustworthy and the only other 'new' neighbors? Are all semi-related to me.... lol.

But, this boils down to - I'll shop at nomorerack.com again. I'd recommend it to my friends. I'd recommend it to strangers. Admittedly, some of the things on there aren't for everyone and deals come and go. But, it seems like a pretty cool way to save some bucks and try new things.... and they stand behind their items. Which can mean an aweful lot!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Prep - with CFS (or well, an undiagnosed condition that matches that syndrome 100% in symptoms)

Over the years, I've learned what doesn't work.

What doesn't work for me?

I can't spend a whole day cleaning. I can't. I used to. Before I crashed. But now? eight hours of cleaning the house top to bottom? Results iin months of not being able to do much of anything, cleaning, working, functioning at all. It's not worth it.

What does work for me?

Getting my kids to pitch in and getting the main living area - that's the living room, kitchen and dining area to a passable state. That means toys/books/dishes/trash are all where they belong, the floor is vaccuumed... the private areas? well, those can still be semi-disasterous. But this way, I don't have to be ashamed of the public areas and it's enough to get through the Holidays with.

Doesn't work?

I can't spend a whole weekend baking a half dozen different types of cookies and treats. Nothing like a self-induced sugar coma on Christmas day. I love having the treats.... but spending the whole weekend in a hot kitchen; even with trying to sit on a stool most of the time? Is still a disaster in the making.

What does work?

A dozen cookies, MAYBE two. TOPS. You know what? Not one neighbor ever complained that I didn't bring them cookies any longer. Co-workers don't care. My kids kind-of care, kind-of don't. And you know what? The few I do make are still yummy. And we don't really need that much sugar in the house anyway. Christmas, funny enough, can still be enjoyed without all that extra sugar. Who knew?

Doesn't work?

Sending out Christmas Cards. Making sure you have enough, making sure your address book is organized enough, sitting down and writing a meaningful message in each one or even typing out a letter that you can print 20 copies of to insert into the card? Getting the stamps? My brain fog is such that sitting down and trying to think of anything to put in it that doesn't sound like whining? Too much work.

What does work?

Refusing to let myself feel guilty about skipping the whole darn thing. I've thought about the 'email equivalent'... but honestly? If you are close enough to friend me on facebook (and haven't shut off my status updates from feeding to you yet?)... then you arleady know what's going on in my life. Good enough for me.

Doesn't work?

Multiple days, mutliple trips to multiple stores, hitting up the sales and trying to find the 'right' gift. My stamina is just not up to it.

What does work?

Shopping online for 90% of it and saving the 10% for a half day well-planned run. If I can get the remaining items in less than five stops? That is AWESOME. If I can't??? Then gift cards. Seriously... well thought out gift cards. Cards to places they actually shop/eat at.

Doesn't work?

Marathon wrapping sessions. I used to wrap all my gifts in the evening, often procrastinating until Christmas Eve.  The little one wouldn't fall asleep for forever, because, of course, he was way to excited about the upcoming holiday. Which meant it was often after midnight before he fell asleep and it would easily take me until 3 am or 4 am to wrap everything. That way lies insanity.

What does work?

First off - gift bags! Second off - more gift bags! Seriously, SO MUCH EASIER.

Then, still in the evenings, but at least a week before Christmas? I wait until he falls asleep (at a thankfully reasonable time - like 9:30 pm) and then I wrap 10 gifts. That's it, just ten gifts. I'm in bed by 10:30 and within a few evenings all the gifts are wrapped. So much less stress.

Doesn't work?

Lots of traveling. Driving to opposite side of the state for Thanksgiving and Christmas and then another state for New Years? It adds to the stress. It adds to the work. There are issues on how to keep some presents secret while the kids are loading/unloading the car. There's the issues with what food to bring that can travel well. Add potentially bad weather to the mix and it just seems like it's more work than it's worth.

What does work?

Spreading out the visits. I try to see my side of the family twice a year - once in the middle of summer when the roads are never covered with ice and snow... and again at Thanksgiving. Christmas is now spent at home.  Admittedly, part of what helped was being divorced and not having to travel to the in-laws any longer... but the expectation I would have had if I still was in the family would be to go in the summer ... of course, it helps that it was me that wanted to see them at Holiday time, my ex was just as happy not going to see them twice a year.

Doesn't work?

Working full time on Christmas Eve, boxing day, etc. I used to. Of course, I used to 'do it all'. I don't any longer.

What does work?

If I have an ounce of PTO left, I take it surrounding the holidays. It's funny how exponentially less stressful it is not to juggle daycare, work and feeling ready for the holidays. It's the day before Christmas Eve and I still have a little bit of work to do around the house. But I have the rest of the week off this week. We'll see Christmas lights tonight, clean and bake cookies and listen to Christmas carols tomorrow... throw some Chili on the stove top to simmer all day with snow falling down outside. We'll probably watch some Christmas specials and movies and just be relaxed because I don't have dozens of things to do in not enough time...

Doesn't work?

I used to hand make ornaments... (well, I still do)... but not just a few. No, I made one for each of my nieces and nephews (current count 19 and counting). My sons (2 and not counting). My son's teachers (six), daycare (10 more), etc. Add some for coworkers (about a dozen).Seriously. the craft would vary although lately it's kind of stuck on knitting), but I would make several dozen hand-made ornaments EVERY year.

What does work?

Cutting back. It's still my tradition and it's still something I share... But now I make about 8-10 ornaments. 1 for me, one each for my two sons, one for my future daughter-in-law, one for my grandson and the rest go to my youngest son's teachers. That's it. That's all she wrote. And no one has ever complained. Not once. They would always compliment me when they got it and be excited to get one (so I know they were appreciated) but it's not like Christmas doesn't happen if they didn't get an ornament from me. The world didn't stop spinning.




Funny thing is? All of the things on my list are things I could have done before I got sick. Not one of these things is geared toward anything other than taking it easy, enjoying myself and my family and the holiday... and lowering stress. I've had more holiday melt downs in the past than I'm comfortable admitting to myself. And every one of them was completely preventable. If only I'd figured this out sooner.

We put soo much pressure on ourselves to do X, Y and dozens of Z for the Holidays. Enough pressure and stress to put you in a pressure cooker that's bound to explode at some point. Yet, cutting back? doesn't hurt anyone's feelings. It doesn't leave anyone deprived. It doesn't lessen your love for the season.  But it does let you focus on the really important part of your life - sharing joy with your loved ones.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Stupid, expensive mistake

My dentures have been rather uncomfortable ever since Thanksgiving. I had an allergic reaction to something I ate (can't imagine what - turkey, corn, steamed potatoes, and pumpkin custard-ish (basically hand-made pumpkin pie with no crust) where I used coconut milk in the ingredients). But it caused me to develop several canker sores on my gums... and even though those healed quickly, my gums were still sore and swollen and not appreciating my dentures.

So, I've been taking them out, putting them back in when I needed to... back out again and not being as responsible as I should have been. I managed to go to bed without putting them into the cleansers to soak over night.

And my dog found them

And my dog is a chewer.

And my dog chewed them.

The bottom  teeth (molars on a partial) are completely unusable.

The top? Lost most of the molars section... and had really rough edges and thick edges in the back. I tried cleaning them really well and wearing them. And I could wear them... but every time I tried to talk while wearing them - I would gag from the rough and thick edges near the back of my tongue. sigh.

My dental insurance is maxed out on what they will cover until the end of the year (thankfully less than two weeks away).

The regular dentist is closed until Monday. I was hoping they could sand down the surfaces for now, and maybe even get the molds started for new teeth to be ordered in the new year.

I thought about going to an emergency dentist because right now, I can't wear either denture.  Admittedly, even if we got the top ones into a usable state... I still wouldn't have molars on top nor bottom - so I'm back on a liquid diet again (sigh).

But, instead? I splurged and bought a dremel. I figured that it was highly unlikely the top teeth were going to be rescued as it was... and decided that I was unlikely to make them worse. It took a couple of goes at it... and there was enough surface removed (thanks dog, NOT) that there isn't enough to create the natural suction - so I'm stuck using adhesive... BUT, I am now able to wear the top teeth. I'm thinking that if I get creative with the adhesive, I might be able to manage to get the bottom teeth in as well... MAYBE. I imagine that it might not hold up to chewing... but I'd rather have them in than not just for appearance sake.

Hopefully now, next week, all I need to do is set up an appointment for the molds... insurance should cover 50% of the cost of the dentures (or at least I really REALLY hope so) and the remainder will end up having to go onto the account that I was at the last payment for to pay off the surgery from getting the dentures in the first place. sigh. At least I had been making larger than normal payments on the account which means there will at least be funds available.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Starting MTHFR supplementation - on a 10 yr old

Little 'a' still doesn't have his genetics back. But we know he has at least some methylation issues due to myself having a few homozygous genetics in the cycle...

But where do you start? He still can't swallow pills... and going dairy free/gluten free will be like pulling nails.... sigh. I think 90% of his meals are primarily dairy and carbs.

1. 5 oz daily of a naked or equivalent brand fruit/veggie juice smoothie (he likes them, so this will be an easy sell).

2. when the sublingual methyl B12 arrives, we'll start him on one a day

Continue epsom salt baths three times a week

Current Symptoms:

High Anxiety
Fatigue
leg pains (that epsom salt baths help with)
Irritability
Stomach pain and nausea
frequent constipation
frequently breaking out in hives (new allergies developed in the last six months)
experiencing frequent chills where he has trouble getting warm enough

Coping Other steps taken:

I've spoken with his IEP counselor and she got him to admit to what has been bothering him at school. He still never wants to go to school and asks me to check his temperature daily. I believe he feels ill, but not so ill that he can't go to school (i.e., no diahhrea, no fever, no vomitting). I think it's the combination of stress, anxiety and being ill that is making it hard for him to get through his days at school.  She's working on reducing his stress at school and working on helping him have both a better experience as well as talking to the teacher. I'm hoping they'll give him an option to take a break at the nurses office when he just needs a time out... but we'll see how things shake out. He's done better at getting ready for school this week and hasn't made too much of a fuss.

I'm trying to get more consistent with his anti-anxiety medication. He takes my phone from me the minute I get home from work (which is where my meds reminder alarm is set) and silences it which makes it easier for me to procrastinate and forget it. I'm going to work on a new system to make him more accountable and help us both with what we need to take care of.

I found a great 'meditation tool' that is hand made with recycled plastic bottle, glue glitter and water... I'm planning to make one for him over Christmas Break.

Next Steps:

I'm not having any luck finding a chewable methylfolate - but I have found a few chewable B vitamins with methyl folate, methyl B12 in them... now if I can find one with P5P in it - I think that's what we'll try.

Start him on a quarter dose of the opticleanse nutritional shake.

23andme replacement test has been ordered and should be shipping shortly. Hopefully this will work out and we'll get a good sample to verify his genetics against.

Starting over - myself

I had taken a couple of weeks off-supplements as things had gotten worse and I just needed to take a break.

Now, I'm starting back up - it's been about five days and I'm starting over and slowly. Slightly different tact as I'm sticking with the newest methylation specialist and will add back in other supplements without including all of the ones recommended by the original nutritional expert.

Half-dose (or slightly less) of Opticleanse daily shake
5-7 mg of L-5-methylfolate
ALA

-- on order is my methyl-B12  which I'll start up again when it arrives

I'm still taking epsom salt baths every other night and might actually increase it to nightly for a bit.

Current Symptoms/Severity:

Dizziness spells are slightly less frequent - maybe 5 a week over the 20 or so. Still pretty severe when they come... but thankfully over within a couple of minutes.

Fuzzy-headedness is still pretty severe. I probably am getting about two hours of work done in an eight hour day with limited ability to focus (please, lord, don't let me boss know it's me).

Leg pain is mild, but never ending.

Left shoulder pain that radiates down my arm - fairly mild and responding well to ibuprofen. (so definitely inflammation related)

Back pain has dissappeared (thank the skies for that!).

All over-ache (feels like flu) - still present, but not something that I'm not used to.

Severe muscle-based exhaustion - probably at about 40% of 'normal' energy level for about two hours a day now... but down to only about 25% the rest of the time. Conservation on use of energy and avoiding work is the word of the day.

Tingly/not-quite-right-sensation/mild numbness - seems to be limited to my arms and legs and my face. Funny... it almost always was my right-side before.... and always the whole side... now it's more equally distributed on left and right side, but just the bottom half of my legs, bottom half of my arms - and on both sides of my face. Mild - but annoying.

Had some trouble with my left ankle. It's been SUPER sore off and on over the last two weeks. Sometimes I limp, most of the time I don't... sigh. Didn't do anything to it... it just started to hurt.

Left breast - I have a new cyst that is starting to swell and cause pain with my cycle. It's pretty terrible about two days out of 14 (the length of my ridiculously short cycle). Not even noticeable the rest of the time. I go back for a mammogram next month... so they'll probably want to do an ultrasound (again) but I'm hoping to avoid the drainage procedure which causes pretty aweful pain for a good two weeks solid. We'll just see if it stays the same or worsens and I break down and get it treated.

Another symptom I rarely report - I've had swollen lymph nodes for about eighteen months now. Chronically swollen glands is probably not a good thing, huh? sigh. I keep hoping that with treatment things will get better and then maybe  if I deal with one part that other things will either lesson or at least not get me laughed out of the doctor's office.

Next Steps:

In a week, I'l up the methyl-folate dosage 5 mg.

A week later, another 5 mg added.

Then in a third week, I'll add the NAC back to the program


Sunday, December 08, 2013

My top ten list - 2013

I read a blog post about the frequent top n lists out and about and how they are there to help promote different things - books, movies, songs, etc. And how that leads to temptation to buy more things.

I've been spending a lot of time while restructuring my finances and getting back on my feet enjoying simpler things that don't involve spending a lot of money.  When I look back at my year, I can come up with a top ten list (probably longer if I thought about it harder)... but there wouldn't be a single movie, tv show, song or book on the list.

In no particular order, my top ten favorite moments from this year.

1. My last parent teachers conference where I learned that my 10 yr old son has gone from being two years behind his classmates in reading to within months of being on track over the past year and a half. I am so proud of all the hard work he's put forth to catch up.

2. An overheard conversation of my future daughter-in-law's son discussing how important it is to have a dad in your life. His own birth father is barely involved in his life... but my son is working hard at being a good father and wants to adopt him after they get married. "You need your dad in your life... he's the guy to make sure you get set on the right path and learn right from wrong. A dad can help you learn how to be a better man." It still brings tears to my eyes, that my eldest son was able to inspire knowledge like this into a six year old little boy.

3. Another sign my adult son is truly an adult. "Mom, you just don't get to take enough time to yourself... it's my new mission to make sure you get out more and enjoy yourself."

4. Family game nights... we haven't had them for a while and are over due... but playing board and/or card games with two twenty-somethings, a six year old and a ten year old does have it's challenges - with little boys who want to learn how to trash talk, but haven't figured out where the appropriate line to draw is, and learning how to lose graciously... but I cherish a few hours in everyone's company... my son will whip up dinner, and is willing to try new recipes that we can all enjoy.

5. Listening in the night at the quiet in the house - the dog is asleep pressing into the side of my legs... the cat is asleep near the corner of the bed - close enough to know if I get up... but not too close - no one would accuse her of being a smothering cat... my son asleep in the room beside mine... his hamster beating out a rat-a-tat-tat with his wheel... he's running so fast in the wheel you can't see his legs and the base of his wheel is rattling around in the aquarium. We are all where we should be, we are all safe, sound and comfortable.

6. Listening to the hustle and bustle that is my house during the day. I've got a tv on and watching something... little one is usually watching tv AND watching youtube videos at the same time... the dog might be barking at the cat... the dishwasher and/or clothes washer running in the background. Someone or something is darting around my feet. It's noisy and hectic and I wouldn't have it any other way.

7. Utter joy from finishing a knitting project, something that fits just right, or looks just right, or is well-loved. There have been many projects this year... some of my favorites were my Green/Tan tank I made for me with cotton/linen blend yarn. .. dozens upon dozens of charity hats... Pikachu, Azumarill, and the Mandrake Root Plant. There were others... so much knitting, so much fun... but I think those were some of my favorites.

8. Getting my son's bedroom sorted out. He had a huge mess (almost always does) in his room and the dog had taken to stashing goodies under the toys... and the dog had accidents in the bedroom whenever I was sleeping and she thought she could get away with it. My son ended up sleeping on the couch for about three months while I tore everything out of his room (including a smelly mattress)... repeatedly cleaning the carpet and trying new methods to deoderize (the final fix was sparying vinegar water over the carpet - but that was after multiple shampoos and using pet odor removers... and a final shampoo after the vinegar water treatment)... shuffling the furniture to make it more useful and replacing his old bed frame with bunk beds. He's now got not just a useable bedroom - but he's finding it easier to keep it clean now (woot! woot!)

9. Playing an online role-playing game - HPKCHC (Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup)... it's bizarre and nerdy and combines Harry Potter with real-life knitting/crochet challenges and I love it. I just realized I have now played for four years (OMG! Time does fly). And this year, like many of them, has been AMAZING. I have made a lot of good friends in the cup, and even got to spend part of a weekend at a knitting retreat with one of them. With the cup, there's anticipation and excitement and challenges that I don't find in real life.

10. My transfer at work - makes all the difference in the world. It's still work - but I feel like I'm a true contributor... I'm finding challenges at work, but it's not overwhelming. I'm deliberately moving in slowly so as to keep my stress levels down and all my coworkers are fine with that. I can get my work done without stressing, I can help them and fill a void that kept the team from being efficient. It's rewarding to be able to do a job well and get compensated appropriately for it. With the transfer came a raise - and it should be enough that not only will I be completely debt free, but I should be able to consider not just retiring, but perhaps also being able to buy a home again some day. Maybe not in the next couple of years... but hopefully really soon. I feel like I'm finally getting a handle on the financial side of my house AND I'm working for a good team that makes work days go just a little faster.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

I'm worried about my son and I'm not sure what to do.

So, I'm posting my thoughts here so I can start hashing through them.

1. He's been sick off an on (mostly on) for almost eight months now.

2. He's been to the doctor who ran the basic tests and reports back that everything is normal; but hasn't sent me a copy of the test results to see for myself.

3. Not sure it matters... as it 'feels' like the general malaise I'm dealing with. He's worse always after recess... which is when he exerts himself the most.

4. It's digestive issues, leg pain, feeling tired and 'off' along with a low-grade fever that comes and goes.

I know that part of the issue is that he doesn't enjoy the classroom environment. He struggles with some things and the more stressed he is? The worse his eye condition gets and it makes it hard for him to read.

He struggles with making friends... and ends up 'latching on' or expecting any friend to become his best friend... instead of 'going with the flow'. He tends to be a bit intense which can be hard to be social. Looking back? I was more worried about Adam at this age than I am Alex - and Adam is fine now... but he had hard lessons to learn to figure out how to get along with folks and make new friends.

My ideal world and solution is that Alex starts feeling better, goes to school, makes friends easily and has less stress.

Given I've spent the past eight years battling for medical treatment for my unidentified condition. And given that it's guaranteed he has at least a few of my genetics meaning he definitely has at least a little MTHFR. I'm not sure we'll be able to get him to a 'no symptom' state.

So my goals I need to set for this month to TRY to get to the ideal solution is:

1. Find MTHFR-related supplements in a chewable form
2. Keep trying gluten-free and dairy-free products to find items he will enjoy eating so that I can try to get him switched to a dairy-free and gluten-free diet.
3. Set up an appointment with www.refolutionarymd.com for Alex to start discussing his specific symptoms and anything else that the doctor would want to test for/look for.
4. Follow up with his psychiatrist and counselor about helping him with making friends.

In the meantime, I need to figure out what options might be available for what we can do in the mean time.

It's hard enough for me to believe that his illness isn't a ruse to get out of school... and I've been experiencing the condition myself and know that you can feel a little better and want to exert energy when you feel slightly better. So, him having energy about three hours after staying home from school? Isn't just him enjoying the free time I just conned me into. I get it, I do. But just barely. I still have my doubts. I know he knows my symptoms and it would be all too easy to 'claim' them for himself. But his symptoms aren't identical. I would think if he was trying to copy me he would complain of the same types of digestive issues, etc.

Now, it's at the point where I've been sending him to school. In part, hoping that he can 'toughen up' a little. THEN FEELING HORRIBLY GUILTY. I know myself just how hard it is to go to work every day and feel sick as a dog. The only reason I'm not on disability is because I'm just too stubborn and don't want to live on a disability income. I want more for myself and my kids and I can only do that by going to work every day even though I feel horrid.

Partly hoping that by sending him in the morning, that he'll feel a little better later in the day and not feel so bad (wishful thinking).

But, I've always said that he can go to the nurses office if he doesn't start feeling better and she'll call me and I'll come get him.  Only the nurse and his teacher have both refused to let him go to the office and to call me. So, he's getting worse because he can't come home when the condition worsens.... and trying to 'tough it out' is only making things worse.

I'm not exactly sure what to do about this part of things.... I think I've got a couple of ideas for what to start with...

1. Call school counselor and his case worker on his IEP. I think we need to discuss how to get him to be able to go to the school as much as possible, but not ignore the fact that he's ill as often as he is and what we might need to do to accommodate him. Maybe they can work with his teacher and nurse and give him 20 minute time outs to go lay down. If he feels better after resting - let him resume. If he doesn't then he gets to come home????

My issue is that I'm pretty sure he'd be needing the break EVERY day. And I'm  not sure how much accommdation they will provide without doctor involvement and justification of his health issues. And I can't even get justification of my own health issues from the standard medical practice.

I have spent months now trying to convince myself that my son isn't really sick. Heck, I spent years trying to convince everyone that I WAS SICK. Part of me feels like I'm letting him down so much. Part of me wants to pursue the same answers I tried to get for myself even though I'm pretty darn sure that it would be a complete waste of time.