Monday, December 29, 2014

Frugal New Years Eve for the chronically ill

99.9% of the time, my son spends New Years Eve with his father.

Which means I get to go to bed early.

And I usually splurge on a good take out meal, watch a pay-for on-demand movie, and crash at around 10pm ... which isn't all that different then the regular nights when I usually eat a 'eh' take out meal, watch a free, on-demand movie, and crash at around 10pm.

But, it's still special ... to me.

My son is 11 and is going to be home for New Years... so the movie will now be PG-13 or R rated (if he lets me - lol, he's got a bigger idea of what is 'inappropriate' than I do for him)...

And the 'treat' has to be something we both enjoy.... which doesn't really fit with my plans to snarf about 8 oz on shrimp that I splurged on and bought to enjoy ....

So, we may end up each getting a treat - right now he's hoping for ice-cream cake (and I'm wondering how small of one I can buy)...

And I'm still hoping to be in bed by 10pm.

ETA: Sadly, I learned a lesson from this frugals New Year... I forgot that I shouldn't have anything with shellfish... managed to initiate a gout attack... I was in enormous pain until the 17th. Sigh... no  more shrimp for me.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Moving - two months later

I've been picking through my to-do list and slowly plugging away at it. Not very fast... but bit by bit. Of course, 90% of it was done by my eldest son, but hey - at least it's done.

In another month or two maybe it will start to feel a little more like home.

My updated list:

Garage:
Clean the tiny bit of mold off of antique dresser and move it to basement.
Move fish tank to basement.
Once last toy boxes are removed and unpacked - list moving supplies on craigslist
Set up drop zone bench
Order shelves and hooks to set up around the drop zone bench
Set up shelves above drop zone bench

Master Bedroom:
Unpack last two to three boxes of craft items that just don't know where to go.
Buy two new surge suppressors to set up one per bedside table.

Master bathroom:
Find and install a medicine cabinet and put meds and supplements away.
Install new shower head

Kitchen:
Sort out all the misc things that have been on the kitchen island since the week we moved in when I needed to have things handy while I unpacked everything else.
Pick up 8  command adhesive hooks to hang up measuring cups and spoons on inside of cabinet door
Pick up more shelving plastic to line shelves
Install the last shelving plastic on shelves

Dining Room:
Find and buy a new table & chairs
Move empty china moving boxes to garage

Living room/desk area:
Move empty boxes and wrapping paper into garage
Unpack file box of files and set up new filing system in the new filing cabinet (talk about a yucky chore)
File and sort through remaining paperwork
Touch up paint on walls
Sort out items to hang on walls
Figure out bench/storage for keeping near the door for dog walking chores
Install the programmable thermastat

Entry way:
Build shelving unit that got unpacked, but not assembled for kids bedroom
Take the two shelves out of the hall closet and reinstall them in the entry closet for storing wrapping paper better

Kids Bedroom:
Touch up paint on shelving unit already in room
Move in the shelving unit from the entry room
Unpack the two boxes already in the room - and then relocated remaining toy boxes from garage to start unpacking those as well.
Put away remaining toys

Kids bathroom:
Fix leak around showerhead with plumbers tape

Half bath:
Pick up a long extension cord and command adhesive hooks so the cord is less obtrusive to the automated cat litter box
Set up the sticky mat to catch cat litter

Laundry room:
Set up new shelves
Make baskets for laundry sorting
Toss out old laundry sorters that don't work in the space

My favorite thing is that I crossed off more items from my list than I added.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Online shopping

I really am glad that with my health issues, I can shop online for almost anything.

BUT... it's really frustrating sometimes. The only benefit is that I know that while I search and search for the RIGHT thing? I'm not burning gas or energy I can't afford to spend.

I can search dozens of online shopping sites and never leave the comfort of my chair.

My current search has two goals.

1. New dining room table and chairs... I'm looking for medium cherry wood finish, 48" or less across round/oval table with simple lines, simple chairs. If the chairs are upholstered? I want it in a dark colored fabric or vinyl. Ideally, I'd like an expandable table, but can live without.  I'd prefer regular table height, but will live with counter height if that's what I can find. Right now? The only option close to what I'm looking for is running around $1500 - $3000... and yeah. Not in the budget.

2. Entryway furniture.... I want to create a drop zone in the garage with a bench (with cushion) and cubbies for shoes and misc under the bench, a cubbie shelf to hang over the bench with hooks for coats, purses, etc... and cubbies or shelving unit that can go to the side of the bench....  preferably not in white. I can find expresso colored bench and coat shelf; and black cubbies. I can find nice wood shelves and bench in cherry or white, but not the matching coat shelf for over the bench.

Seriously? Options people ... options.... why is this so hard?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Moving - three weeks later

Most, but certainly not all - boxes are unpacked.

Most, but not all furniture is in it's final resting place.

But it's been a few days since I've gotten anything done and I'm at the place where I'll do even less (if I don't hold myself accountable).

So, time for a list - room by room:

Garage:
Clean the tiny bit of mold off of antique dresser and move it to basement.
Move fish tank to basement.
Once last toy boxes are removed and unpacked - list moving supplies on craigslist
Set up drop zone bench
Order shelves and hooks to set up around the drop zone bench

Master Bedroom:
Unpack last two to three boxes of craft items that just don't know where to go.
Buy two new surge suppressors to set up one per bedside table.

Master bathroom:
Find and install a medicine cabinet and put meds and supplements away.
Install new shower head

Kitchen:
Sort out all the misc things that have been on the kitchen island since the week we moved in when I needed to have things handy while I unpacked everything else.
Pick up 8  command adhesive hooks to hang up measuring cups and spoons on inside of cabinet door
Pick up more shelving plastic to line shelves

Dining Room:
Find and buy a new table & chairs
Move empty china moving boxes to garage

Living room/desk area:
Move empty boxes and wrapping paper into garage
Unpack file box of files and set up new filing system in the new filing cabinet (talk about a yucky chore)
Touch up paint on walls
Sort out items to hang on walls
Figure out bench/storage for keeping near the door for dog walking chores
Install the programmable thermastat

Entry way:
Build shelving unit that got unpacked, but not assembled for kids bedroom
Take the two shelves out of the hall closet and reinstall them in the entry closet for storing wrapping paper better

Kids Bedroom:
Touch up paint on shelving unit already in room
Move in the shelving unit from the entry room
Unpack the two boxes already in the room - and then relocated remaining toy boxes from garage to start unpacking those as well.

Kids bathroom:
Fix leak around showerhead with plumbers tape

Half bath:
Pick up a long extension cord and command adhesive hooks so the cord is less obtrusive to the automated cat litter box
Set up the sticky mat to catch cat litter

Laundry room:
Set up new shelves
Make baskets for laundry sorting
Toss out old laundry sorters that don't work in the space

Geez... that's not a small list, is it? sigh.

After working on this list, there is good news. I wasn't able to come up with anything to add to the list for the loft area where my son's wii and tv is set up. Which means I actually have ONE ROOM DONE! lol A million more jobs to do, but one room is as ready as it will get. :-)

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

MTHFR - Moved in, still settling in

We're in the house.

We're not done unpacking.

But, we have the critical things sorted out and now it's down to figuring out the rest of it.

I plan on doing a box or two every evening... but I've been hitting stumbling blocks.

First stumbling block is my son's bookshelves.

They weigh about 50 pounds each unassembled.

So, tonight (assuming I feel up to it) - as I've managed to come down with a cold on top of everything else.

  1. Open the packages
  2. Carry each piece up the stairs individually
Tomorrow night (assuming I feel up to it)
  1. Assemble shelf #1
  2. Using my wheeled movers, I'll shift it into the wall space I need it to go to
Thursday night (assuming I feel up to it)
  1. Assemble shelf #2
  2. Wait for my eldest son to pick up shelf #2 and put it on top of shelf #1
Which reminds me, I'll need to get furniture straps that can fasten the top shelf to the wall to avoid tip-over.

So - basically, something that would take a lot of folks a single day on the weekend to accomplish - will take me at least 3 evenings and however much longer after that to accomplish my goal.

In the meantime I'm getting an upright freezer delivered this week.

I'm irritated with myself for not having taken a really good look around the garage. Because even though we have light switches on both sides and even a water faucet with a hose in the garage. I can't find a single electrical outlet in the garage. Who does that? Who would build a garage without any electrical outlets?  Especially given that this is a newer house and even the unfinished basement has a set of electrical outlets every four feet.

But if we truly can't find an outlet, we'll have to put the freezer in the basement (which is not my first choice). I'd rather have it on the same floor as the rest of the house - but in the garage, where there will be space once I get things put away.

Other major tasks ahead of me:
  • Finding a better solution for craft storage (I have a TON of craft supplies). I want to find a better, more attractive solution for storage than what I have been doing. But so far, I've had no luck in finding anything flexible enough and compatible with my style.
  • Once the bookshelves are in my son's room, we can provide him a box of books/toys per week to put away.
  • Cleaning supplies. I ended up with FOUR big boxes of cleaning supplies. No idea where they all came from other than the fact that I basically went through a few phases in my life where my house would be dirty and I wouldn't have the energy to fix that... but assumed that buying more cleaning supplies I didn't use would help. Silly, huh? But now I need to sort it all out. Some I will not be replacing once they are used up. My go-to cleaning supplies lately are vinegar, dawn and baking soda... and that's probably going to be it for a little while.
  • Once some of the rest of the unpacking is finished and I can gift away the moving boxes, I want to set up a 'station' in the garage that would be a drop zone. I want it to have a bench with padding and a space to put shoes/boots under the bench. A few shelves for storing back packs, etc... and a place to hang our coats. I've been to pinterest and have ideas of what I want... but right now there's no space in the garage to set it up. And instead the drop zone is right inside the garage door and it's literally where people need to walk and is a mess.
In the meantime, I'm struggling with timing. The task I'd like to tackle first would be to get my craft supplies sorted. However, I also plan on replacing the carpeting in the house in February/March time frame. Which means if I sort it all out and find the furniture (which I haven't found the furniture yet)... and get it all moved into the bedroom, it has to get moved in a few months again. So, I'm really tempted to leave it all in my garage. But I'd hate to have it in the garage when winter hits. So... do I stick it all in the basement, keep shopping until I find the right solution... and then order it after the furniture arrives? I can access it from the basement, but that's just not where I want it stored long-term. But, that might be the next several weeks... every evening take a box or two of crafting supplies to the basement ... get them out of the way in the garage which may make way for the finding space to store cleaning supplies and setting up the drop zone. Then if I focus on a's bookshelves, he can also be working through his pile of boxes at the same time. 

At least it's a plan of attack... not perfect, but something.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Frank Pumpkinstein



I can think of a few things we would have done differently if we'd actually planned this out a little better. Maybe buying something for the ears and nose (these are just green 'stones' from a mancala game)... but it turned out pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself.

We sprayed the pumpkin green and let it sit to dry while we went back inside to sort out the ornamentation.

The eyes were circles cut out of cardboard with black magic marker.
The teeth were cut out of the same box.
The ears and nose were mancala pieces (hey, they were green and roughly the right shape).
The bolts were in a pile of bits and pieces of hardware.
The hair was me taking black fun fur and crocheting a little rectangle.

We used stick on velcro and attached that to all the pieces... when the pumpkin was dry we brought it in and added the black stitches and mouth with a black magic marker and stuck on the opposite side of the velcro a place for all the pieces to attach. I'm sure I could have found an easier (cheaper) way to attach everything - but this was something we threw together in about two hours (mostly drying time) with what we had in the house.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Moving houses next week - with MTHFR

Thankfully, I'm not moving far. Thankfully my new house will have very few steps, the bedroom is just off of the kitchen as is the master bath and laundry. (Woot!)

But, Moving houses is a HASSLE.

Being sick while moving? PIA

This will be my third move and hopefully the last one for a really long time.

Both of my previous moves involved a lot of decluttering (though there's always need to do more) which involved selling good furniture/items and/or donating useful items and/or tossing things that were no longer of value.

The first time I moved after becoming seriously ill, I worked in a town 45 minutes from my home. While the rent payments in the new town were the same as the house payments, the savings by not commuting would help me pay more overdue bills. The savings in time for the cummuting time was useful for spending valuable time with my then 3-yr old son.  I would pack two or three boxes into my SUV every evening. Drive to work. Drop the boxes off at the new apartment and unpack them. Then take the empty boxes home. I repeated this for about three weeks before hiring a truck and getting a friend to help haul out the big furniture. (I was abandoning the house to foreclosure, so not paying rent and house payment at the same time bought me extra moving time).

The second time I moved, I couldn't afford to pay the current months rent if I was paying the deposit and first months rent at the new apartment - so while there was a week overlap, I had to come back later to pay the landlord a few months later.  But, I spent an entire month, packing one box an evening and making a massive pile. Found a great discount for a moving truck, hired some guys off of craigslist to do the carrying. I stayed on our then third floor apartment, my son down by the moving truck or helping carry things up and down the two flights of stairs. The new apartment was on the ground floor (thank goodness) - so the unloading went much better.

This time? I started to pack about two months ago. Again, a box or two a night after work, more perhaps on the weekend. That went well for about two weeks. Until my last house purchase fell through. Then I took about three weeks off of the packing duties. Right now I have a handful of things that we don't need to pack yet. And about two or three boxes of items to be moved the day we'll start sleeping in the new house - which I'll wait to pack until the night before.

I did hire a truck, this time with movers as while the last deal went through very inexpensively, hiring a moving van and movers in one go is much easier to manage and they are often insured (the guys moving me last time were not).

I get the house on the weekend, and am moving during the week (got a discount for that). Since my son often works weekends, this works better for him as well.  Saturday and Sunday will be spent moving a few things on our own ahead of time (things like a bunk bed that needs to be dismantled and reassembled), lamps, some of the food, the new cat litter system, new rugs, etc. We'll also draw a little floor plan out and make some decisions about some of the furniture destinations and add that for directing the movers.

On Monday the internet gets turned off at the old apartment and turned on in the new house... so we'll move the tv's, wifi, and rokus ourselves on Monday and get the network established. We'll spend the night 'camping' in the living room Monday night.

Between Sunday/Monday I hope to take a few things that we use regularly but that are getting thrown out (old microwave - there's a new cabinet mounted one at the house), a few broken lamps, an old, busted headboard, etc. to the dumpster.

Tuesday morning the movers arrive early... we'll meet them at the old apartment and 'direct' them and let them handle the big items. We'll leave all the cleaning products behind and come back the following weekend to clean up the old apartment before turning the keys in.

After the last move, I unpacked a box a day for about a month to 'settle' in slowly and gradually and I think that will work again with this move. If we move all the immediate need things on our own and unpack on Sunday/Monday - then the things in the boxes the movers bring can be gotten to over a period of time.

The only real difference, is last time, I left it to the then 20-yr old son to 'decorate' as I didn't have the spoons left after the moving and unpacking and it kind of showed. This time I've got a 23-yr old daughter-in-law and I'm hoping she'll be willing to lend some advice on placement. I'll still probably leave them to 'handle' the placement... but I'm pretty sure her opinion will have a better end result.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Frugal Shopping in the new Internet Age

With a new house comes new expectations. For the most part, my existing furniture is fine.

But not perfect.

I've got a list of 'need to have soon' items - a new tv stand, an end table (or three), etc.

And a list of 'hope to have' items - a better organization system for my craft supplies and for sorting laundry.

I'm doing a lot of online shopping... and I started with free Craigslist listings.

And then I proceeded to not-so-free Craigslist items.

Then I started searching some of the alternative 'new' options....

wayfair.com
amazon
Kmart
Bed, Bath, and Beyond

etcetera, etcetera

I'm not in the new house yet (which my son - who is doing a lot of the moving - tells me, means that I should wait for furniture delivery until AFTER I move).

So, I still have a few weeks to browse and consider where and what I think I need.

Ideally, I'll find exactly what I need in near-new condition for virtually no money at all ...

But, let's face it... that might not be going to happen.

If I do end up buying new, I realized that when I search these different web stores - that I'm seeing the same products over and over again. And of the ones with brick and morter stores, most of the products are only available online. They are listing stock that they don't maintain... but want to be able to 'sell' the item and have the manufacturer ship directly to the customer.  There are a few items on each website that aren't always on all websites... but of the items that are listed on multiple sites - the prices are usually within pennies of each other.

BUT, some sites are offering 10% discounts on some products. Some sites are offering reward points which can be used for cash towards future purchases.

So, it does seem like this research time is beneficial. If all other things are the same, but you can get 10% off immediately? That's probably the best 'frugal' option - as the quality of the item, shipping, etc won't vary from website to website. If the prices are the same and no sales? The next bet would be to pursue the purchase with the company you may have rewards options through.


Monday, October 06, 2014

MTHFR treatment - week 2 and now starting week 3

Week 2:

B complex
ALA
Vitamin D drops
Potassium
1/2 pill of daytime muscle relaxant twice a day
1/4 pill of nighttime muscle relaxant at suppertime

Added 10 mg of sublingual B12 (using up enzymatic therapy and switching to Jarrow)
Added 5mg of Thyroid Armour 
Added Vitamin C

--- 
So far so good (i.e., no negative side effects), but I still really tired ALL the time. If I miss a muscle relaxant I notice it  in increased pain. Still doing epsom salt baths 3 times a week. But I'm more achy than usual... so I either need to up the magnesium OR start chiropractic care soon (still debating).

___

Week 3:

5mg of Thyroid Armour
B complex
ALA
Vitamin D drops
Vitamin C
Potassium
10 mg of sublingual B12 (using up enzymatic therapy and switching to Jarrow)
1/2 pill of daytime muscle relaxant twice a day
1/4 pill of nighttime muscle relaxant at suppertime

Added 5mg of Methylfolate with my morning supplements

Next week: add another 5 mg of Methylfolate and NAC

___

Adding the Methylfolate in the past has been a big BOOST in treatment, and I'm hoping this time around as well. I'm in the middle of packing the apartment and everything is messy and unorganized and -ugh-worthy-crap. My plan is to move a couple of things the weekend of the 18th. Have the movers move most of the things on the 21st. Taking the 20th and 22nd off to move all the things I don't want the movers moving (tv's, lamps, fish tanks, etc).  Big "A" is off work on Sunday and Tuesday and those are the dates that I could use the most help with. I'm hoping this gives us the weekend of the 25th to deep clean the apartment. I can't fix all the broken things that the apartment manager wouldn't fix... and I can't fix the carpet that we stained irrepairably... but I can do what I can to remove the 'yuck' that gets built up when you are ill and unable to function at even 40% of normal capacity.

FWIW - I'm still in recovery mode. I had a bit of struggle this weekend following a late night disturbance next door... but I'm up to working in office 4 days a week and working from home 1 day a week. Which was where I was right before all of this happened. So, that's pretty good. I'm thinking I'll try working a full week in office at some point in the coming weeks and as long as I'm still in recovery go back to working from home only occasionally. If it doesn't go well, I'll simply start working from home more often as needed.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Starting my treatment (yet AGAIN) - posting here to keep me honest.

OK...

I had a pretty bad flare up. Symptoms of nueropathy-like pain, painful lumps throughout my body... no ideas from any doctors.

I did get my regular doctor to agree to help me start managing my symptoms (which he had failed to do very well for the last several years)...

But he put me on potassium supplements (my potassium has been mildly low for the last several tests, but he hadn't felt the need to treat it before I pushed him on it). And I'm on two different forms of muscle relaxants - one that knocks me out at night and one that I take during the day.  I didn't think they were helping with the nueropathy-like pain (still don't know) BUT I have noticed that the over-all achiness (think flu-like symptoms of whole body ache) is better and in fact, if I forget a pill, I notice it worsening - take the pill, it improves. SO ... YEAH! something that is helping with something.

I've been on those three for almost a month.

And I've noticed mild dry patches of flaking skin on my face - which I'm led to believe can be a folate deficiency. So, it's time to start back on my methylation protocol.

I'm probably going to end up taking a lot of the same things I did before. Only I'm going to try to mix it up a little differently. To this day, I don't think that my supplements are responsible for my flare up. However, I stopped taking them as a better safe than sorry type of thing. I also think I'm going to 'schedule' in a week off of supplements every month and a month off every year or six months. I think that it's unlikely to be harmful and that if I only take a month off - I won't do the 'restart' progress... I'll just resume where I left off. BUT, that said... I've been off for about three months now... so ... tapering up from the bottom is where I'll be.

STARTING TODAY (and for the rest of this week)....

B complex
ALA
Vitamin D drops
Potassium
1/2 pill of daytime muscle relaxant twice a day
1/4 pill of nighttime muscle relaxant at suppertime

House buying on a REVISED budget

Sadly, I was trying to negotiate with the seller on the home... to fix a repair that the FHA mortgage company had deemed REQUIRED, while also pursuing the option of determining if I could qualify for a conventional mortgage. In the meantime, I had offered to pay the entire cost of the remaining repair.

AND the seller pulled out of the transaction.

This was the second home I had paid for an inspection for, but which wouldn't pass FHA standards.

There was a third home. Priced the same as the last home - but VASTLY outdated (needed a new kitchen, some pretty serious remodeling). The last home was in better shape, but almost 500 sq feet smaller. Given how dated the kitchen, appliances, carpeting, etc was. My concern with even looking into that property is that we'd end up in the same situation. House needing something more involved required of it, seller not interested in putting the money into it.

Sigh.

Smart money would go to waiting for a third opportunity that had a little LESS intense effort. Sometimes it's the waiting that pays off the most.

Smart money would go to determining if I can get a conventional loan with money for remodeling.

Yeah. I'm sick and tired and tired and sick and don't want to live here any longer.

Instead. I kept looking and after only one weekend of feeling really sorry for myself and looking at the exact same houses I had already rejected for not being the type of home I wanted, nor the right area, or too much money.... I got an email for a brand new listing.

This one is a 1 1/2 story townhome. There's a first floor master, first floor laundry, open concept kitchen with 2-car attached garage. It's not perfect. But it's definitely in the range of having several things I really like about it. It's further away than I want to be, but nowhere near as far away as I feared I would end up. It's very close to my favorite grocery store and my work. Far enough away from my son's school which involves driving him to and from school every day (I was already picking him up daily).

It's also about $30k more than the townhome I wanted to buy. The benefit is though, that there isn't going to be a punch list of repairs and upgrades that need to be done immediately. I've got a very tiny list of very small repairs (new plumbers tape for the shower hook ups, new caps for the deck railing, new ceiling fans)... and only one thing on my longer-term plan (replace carpeting with laminate wood flooring).

I had hoped to buy for less and invest slowly in the upgrades/fixes needed. But the last thing I wanted to do was invest more money into housing inspections on a house that I couldn't buy. Lack of patience being a downfall.

But, I'll have a nice house that meets my needs well, and who knows what will happen in ten years.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

House buying on a budget

I'm hopefully closing on a townhouse before the end of the month (well, we'll see if we will be closing at all... this has been a 'challenging' transaction).

In my house we have a mom, an 11 yr old boy, a dog, and a cat.

Visiting often are the grandchildren, though only the 7 yr old tends to spend the night right now... the newborn is still pretty dependent on mom and dad... but if the new house works out and if I can keep it clean, I'm hoping for some baby sleepovers in the future.

Primary concerns for me were that with my health and issues with my knee... that I wanted the kitchen, bathroom, main bedroom and laundry all on the same floor. I didn't want a house too big for me to keep clean. And I wanted enough space for me to be able to comfortably work from home.

Several bonus factors would include:
 - a nice wood cabinet-based kitchen
 - non-stainless steel appliances
 - wood or wood laminate floors
 - attached garage
 - a family room in addition to the living room (that the boys can play with toys in)
 - no need for a formal dining room
 - a bonus room that I can use for crafting so my bedroom isn't filled to bursting with craft supplies
 - an open concept area

SUPER big bonus factors would include:
 - an HOA (I've got enough fun things I'd like to do with my free time if I had the energy to enjoy it, yardwork and shoveling snow isn't on the list)
 - a neighborhood pool
 - a view of a pond/lake/creek/river - anything water
 - a sunroom with a hot tub - OR AT LEAST room for that as an improvement

The house I'm buying has ALMOST ALL of the things on my list and is priced around $10k less than a lot of the other townhomes in the same area, AND $40-60k less than two story homes that only have some on my list.

What doesn't it have? Well, the kitchen has a bit of a mash-up of appliances - the refrigerator is stainless steel. But, it's working and the stove and dishwasher aren't stainless steel... so, I'm just putting the kitchen remodel (so I can do a side by side refrigerator and get some decent counter tops) on the five year plan. It also has a little more carpeting than I prefer. So, within a year I hope to replace the carpeting in the basement (family room, bonus room, second bathroom and hallways are all carpeted..... sigh) with laminate flooring. And in my three year plan, I hope to replace the upstairs carpeting with laminate flooring (living/dining area, two bedrooms, and bathroom ... all carpeted). And no sunroom, :-( ... but there's a beautiful deck off the living area and with the walkout basement there's a patio area that needs some work. In my five year plan we'll also plan on updating the patio area and see if we can screen in the patio at the same time. It's not a sunroom, but it might keep me going and giving me a chance to explore some 'outdoor' without the mosquito bites until I can afford to update the deck to a sunroom/deck area.

What am I giving up that other people want in their homes... I'm not getting all new carpets (I'd end up ripping them out anyway). I don't have all new top-of-the line stainless appliances (I don't want stainless anyway, have you ever had them with kids? You can never keep the fingerprints cleaned off)... the refrigerator and dishwasher are pretty new... the stove is completely outdated... but new electric stoves aren't that expensive - and I can buy a new stove next year.  The kitchen hasn't recently been remodeled. But it GORGEOUS just as it is (well, with the exception of the old stove, ugly stainless fridge and countertops)... but I LOVE LOVE LOVE the cabinets. And I love that it's got wood flooring in the kitchen. And there's an oversized, very interesting kitchen island with the sink and dishwasher in it. I plan on investigating the cabinets (that I LOVE) and seeing if there's a way to move the fridge (with water for an ice maker to the side wall, and add new cabinets where the refrigerator used to stand (so I can have a bigger fridge), replace the counter tops and add a breakfast bar to the current island. I'm thinking my five year plan includes the kitchen remodel. Bonus is that I get to keep the things I love about the kitchen that others would have replaced if they had updated it, and really make it mine.

I'm not getting a walk in closet. I'll miss the walk in closet I have now. I will. But there is a ton of closet space in the house... just none of it walk in closets. I've thought about it a lot, and I can totally live without it in the master bedroom. I've thought about ways to add one and I just think it would cost too much of the square footage of the bedroom. The spare bedroom in the walkout basement is a little larger than the master and if I really decide to do it (and my knee doesn't expire first) - I could consider updating that bedroom to replace the current closet with a walk in closet. But it's just not that important to me. And that's the key - finding the 'bonus' items that other people want to pay more to get - decide which aren't important to you, and take those things off your house-hunting list.

First floor laundry was a MUST HAVE (note, my townhouse is a ranch with w/out basement)... if I was buying a two story (which I wouldn't really want, then I'd want the laundry on the same floor as the master bedroom). Sadly, this particular laundry is an older stackable unit. I've investigated the closet it's in... and I think I can fairly easily upgrade to the newer stackable front loaders... so that'll be in my plan for the coming year. I'm investigating a single-unit washer and dryer in one... and that's still on my maybe list. I wish they weren't quite so new to the market so that the technology was a little more 'sure' ... but if I can get one that I feel confident that it will work - it will free up space in the laundry center AND at the current prices ... save about 33% on the replacements. PLUS then you can decide if you want the washer to stop after it's done washing (if you have delicates you need to lay out to dry) or let it go from washing straight to drying without even having to move the load (wow! how cool would it be to skip that step.... now I know... most people examine the clothing before putting it in the dryer so they don't 'set a stain'.... but I never do... and if one appliance can take up half the space and do the job of two appliances? Well, I'm interested in learning more about it).

The house has great distinct architectural features, an open floor plan from kitchen through dining 'area' through living room (If I got a dining room - it would be used as an office anyway). The two bedrooms and the bathroom are off of the living area - no hallway except for the front door through to the living area (and beside the garage). AND there's a pond in the BACKYARD. Seriously. Really. Views from most windows of the pond. And it's not one of those nasty bordered with white gravel man-made ugly ones, either. Technically it is man-made - there's a dam at the other end. But it would be wet ground anyway if the dam wasn't there.... and it's old enough (from the 70's 80's era) that it has things like weeping willows and cat tails and all other lovely pond-living things. They did put an aerator at the other end of the pond (the deeper end) and I'm at the more shallow end... but I can't wait to sit by my window and just gaze out at the pond. Something about a view of the water just eases my soul.

The biggest challenge with the buying process has been that the current owner didn't want to do any repairs. It's been difficult as an FHA loan requires that the home meet a certain safe and sound criteria that this house misses by a couple of things. But, we're slowly, but surely working through those changes... and in the meantime, I'm trying to work through seeing if I can't qualify instead for a conventional loan just in case things don't work out the other direction. For the couple of things left on the owner's to do list - if they fall through, I'd insist on lowering the selling price so that I can do the repairs myself (assuming I can go through a conventional mortgage).

NEGOTIATION. not my strong suit. But I'm trying.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

On the road to remission

I'm back off of coumadin. Now I have no idea why I was on it if it wasn't because the surgeon had convinced my regular doctor that I should be on it for life.  I think they were just playing cover their you-know-whats-its. But it's a pain being on it, so I am not fighting them to keep me on it.

I'm still getting lumps all over my body, my arms and legs and torso... they come, sometimes they go... and they hurt. But the fact that they do sometimes go... well, that means that they shouldn't be anything cancer-related. And now that the worst of the pain is backing off and the pain I'm left with is mild enough... I'm going to be taking a wait and see approach with them.

I'm able to be active for a few hours every day now (whereas 10 minutes sitting in a chair was too much for me only a month ago). Still not 100%. BUT SO MUCH BETTER THAN BEFORE.

I'm going to try to go back to work (well, work from home) on Monday and see how it goes. My doc would prefer half days. But insurance doesn't want to work that way - either I'm too ill to work altogether or I'm well enough to go to work. Thankfully I can work from home so we'll do that for a few weeks and if I'm still in recovery mode, we'll start trying to do some time in the office.

The doctor finally did come back with an unofficial diagnosis - so I can put a label to things. He truly believes it's Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). Only putting that in the paperwork can really screw me over with the insurance company and future doctors. It's a seriously misunderstood and underdiagnosed condition. And there are far too many doctors who either believe it doesn't exist OR who treat it like it's all in your head. Millions of people are getting poorly treated who have this. Millions of dollars in research have been fraudulently taken and applied to other conditions - which means that they still don't really know how to prove it exists. Unfortunately, until research is available - it can continue to be dismissed by doctors and left untreated.

BUT, the good news is that my doctor did FINALLY (it's been over 9 years) agree to start helping me manage my symptoms. I've started muscle relaxants to see if that will help with the lumps and pain from the lumps (in case it's just knotted up muscles - I don't think it is - but I'm tired of not trying anything because we don't know what they are). And shortly I'll be starting some potassium supplements for my low potassium levels which I am sure is a result of my long-term diahhrea.

After that, I'll start restarting my other supplements that I stopped because I couldn't be sure they didn't cause some of the issues.

I'm also going to start tracking my symptoms and supplement changes again in a spreadsheet... it's kind of a pain to do it... but I miss things if I don't try.

___
And in the meantime, I'm back to get yet another diagnostic mammogram next week. Boy am I sick and tired of getting lumps in my breasts. They always end up being cysts (thank goodness). And I'm sure the four new lumps are just that, yet again. But it's better safe than sorry to check. It just gets really old (and expensive). As more often than not the mammo is followed by an u/s... and between the two it tends to run around $1k in expenses. I guess the good news is that I've hit the high deductible limit so I'll only have to pay around 20%. But geez... it would be nice to go two full years without going through this.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

New exercises in thrifting

I an hoping to buy a new home for my son and myself quite soon.

Going from a 2 bedroom 1000 sq ft apartment to a 3 bedroom, family room, living room townhome and around 1900 sq feet of living space means I will probably be a bit short of furniture.

So, I've started thrifting.

I've always loved Craigslist and it's my primary source. But after flipping through it a few days... I started wondering if there were other options.

I did searches with my location and freecycle or shopper in Yahoo groups and in Facebook. And started to have access to more used items.

Some of my recent buys seem good... some I already regret, but think I can fix.

1) small antique wooden desk - $40 (I probably spent too much) - I wish I had waited a bit and found one that was light wooden color instead of as dark as it is.  There's one drawer that sags a bit and needs a spot of wood on the underside to keep it in place properly AND a spot of glue on the top bit holding it to the frame. AND I probably need to refinish it as almost all my furniture is a light oak finish. (sigh)

2) 9 square cube shelving unit for $10. Needs a fresh coat of paint - and I'm thinking gray for my son's bedroom or white for a crafting space.

3) Small 2 drawer wooden filing cabinet - which is the right wood color and the perfect small size - exactly what I need and what I've been looking for for ages. And only $35

4) Two small ladder-type small shelving units - perfect for a's small bedroom - just needs a touch of paint on one leg and a spot of glue on a couple of shelves that were recently damaged. $10 for the pair. Trying to decide if I leave them black or if I'll redo in gray.

I've got two pieces of furniture I'd like to redo for a's bedroom... his current dresser I bought six years ago and still love. But it was damaged when I bought it and I still haven't fixed it (bad mom). A spot of wood filler on the top, a little sanding and a fresh coat of paint will make it perfect for his room.

AND I've got a small wooden computer desk. Simple lines and perfect for a's bedroom. But with a black & gray bed. Black and gray dresser. Black or gray shelves (TBD). He's going to need a black or gray desk... so the plan will be to sand and paint it.

SO yeah. Plans and plotting.... and more projects than I can probably manage. I'd try bribing 'A' to tackle them for me, but with the baby coming tomorrow - he's not going to have any time either.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Debating allowing a small amount of gluten back into my diet

I never truly believed I was gluten intolerant. After my third doctor suggested I consider going gluten free... I started trying (and failing) a gluten-free diet.  After I had my teeth pulled, I ended up going about six weeks on a liquid diet and it was fairly easy after that to try to go gluten free.

I had to test it though. I went almost six weeks with 0 gluten. And then I ate a King's Hawaiian Roll (because, lord did I miss them). And within 20 minutes I had severe cramping in my always-painful left calf.

... hmmmm....

Another six weeks gluten free, and I had to try it again.

Within 20 minutes I was asking myself what I did to my leg because it was hurting soooo bad... and I remembered, I had tried another roll but had forgotten about it.


.... sigh.....

I guess I need to be gluten free, right?

Or not?

I've been regularly doing epsom salt baths because they are the ONLY THING that consistently helps with the chronic pain in my calf.

The day before yesterday I snuck one of a's snacks - a graham cracker with chocolate and marshmallow creme filling. YUM... and when I was taking my bath later that night I thought to myself that I didn't remember any additional cramping earlier.

So, being out of all my gluten-free snacks - yesterday - I gave into temptation and ate two more graham cracker snacks. No bath last night, mildly cramped today... a little more than yesterday - but not severe cramping.

... hmmmm....

I got some groceries and couldn't resist an old favorite frozen dinner meal from Marie Calendar's - with pasta.... and yet, no new cramping.

I think that this means that if I use moderation AND keep doing my epsom salt baths - that I might be able to add a little gluten back into my unbelievably restrictive diet.   ... Oh, gosh, I hope so!

Friday, August 01, 2014

Back on coumadin

Ok. I do get it.

Coumadin (or brand name warfarin) that I'm on is hard to 'manage' the dosage. The dose for one person has NOTHING to do with the dose needed for another person. There are a million and one things that can impact the dosage that works for an individual... and none of it can be pre-measured (unlike something based on weight or body mass). The only way to know if the dosage is right is to measure the impacts on the time it takes for the blood to clot.

But seriously.

I've been on the medicine for four weeks.

Week one - they started me off low. After a week they tested me. What were my results? They were low.

Week two - they bumped the dosage up. Not by a little. By a lot.

Test me again and what happens? The results were high. Way high. Dangerously high. So what do they do? Instead of telling me to take less. I have to stop taking it altogether and get tested again before restarting.

What happens? I'm too low. (by the way, this is knicknamed the blood thinner roller coaster).

Week three - what do they want me to do? Instead of having me take a dose between the too low dose and the too high does... they have me take even more (? wtf ?)

What happens? I'm way too high... dangerously too high. Stop everything don't take anything... and then come back in.

I'm now too low (see the roller coaster effect?).

Week four - let's start over again, lets' go back to what is now the medium dose.

Now I'm too high again (go figure). Have to stop again. (seriously?)

Maybe the next time we start up again, we might chose to take LESS than the medium dose, but more than the too low dose.

I totally get that this dosage thing is trial and error. I do. But I'm getting blood drawn twice a week right now to measure all of this and it's getting a little silly to keep repeating the EXACT same steps every week. We're never going to get a good dosage at the rate we're going.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Next steps?

I've been to the rheumatologist. We're still waiting on test results, but the doc didn't think it would be likely we would find anything.

Nuerology appointment in November.

In the meantime, I'm feeling a bit fed up with seeking answers - again... and still without any hope for an effective treatment.  Funny thing. Even with conditions with no cure - they usually at least have some ideas of treatments to help manage symptoms. I can have the same symptoms - but because I'm undiagnosed - then I'm not eligible for the same treatments.

They did suggest getting a lump biopsied to see if we can figure out what the lumps are.  Not the end of the world if we do that. It's just that my issues are bigger than the lumps themselves.

sigh.

So, my current plan is to restart the MTHFR treatments... slowly and surely. See if I can figure out if things worsen or improve.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Another health crash - trying to tough it out

About six weeks ago, my right bicep started cramping.... I had a superficial (very minor) blood clot in that arm after my gall bladder surgery a few years ago - which never went away. I figured I should double-check to see if the bump is still there and still the same size. It was. BUT about a quarter of an inch away was a second bump.

My first thought that struck me was that I might have developed a second blood clot. If I had thought it was a DVT - I would have gone straight to the ER. But it felt just like the other bump I had... which being a minor superficial blood clot and I could literally feel the lump right under my skin.... I decided to take some aspirin, use some warm compresses and take a wait and see approach.

WIthin three days, I suddenly had a couple more bumps under the skin on my left bicep. Hmmmm... if these really are blood clots, that would be a sign of something quite wrong. But, they are highly unlikely to be blood clots in two different arms spontaneously showing up. So, I called the doctor. A couple of trips to get ultrasounds and the US doc claims they are unlikely to be blood clots, nor cysts... nor anything that they can recognize as abnormal tissue.

Next step was dermatology. At this point I was up to 14 lumps - all in my upper arms. But now I'm getting pain in my legs, torso, neck, etc, even though the bumps are localized primarily in my arms.  Dermatologist went with angiolipomas... which are painful (angio)  benign lumps (lipomas). If I was lucky, they would hurt for about six to ten months, not respond to anything, or I could have surgery to remove them.  Per him, since there would have to be about eight incisions, he wanted me to go to a general surgeon for the surgery. Per the General Surgeon I saw next, they were NOT even remotely possibly angiolipomas and part of the reason the dermatologist didn't offer to do the surgery is that he wouldn't want to get blamed for operating and not resolving the problem.

Went back to my regular doctor and now we are waiting on rheumatology appointment. The lumps are showing up now in my arms, legs, trunk, and underarms. The pain though can appear anywhere. There's a general whole-body ache that preceeded finding bumps in each area as it spread, so did the bumps, only now it's whole body - the bumps aren't quite whole-body yet... close, but not lower legs, nothing in my feet or hands... sigh. But, even worse... there's a shooting pain that will hit in a variety of spots. It flares hard and fast and almost strong enough to cry out, within 20 minutes it tends to fade back to the aching. Suggestion has been made that this is nuerological pain. I don't know, I just know that it's hard to cope with it. None of the recommended pain killers have provided any relief.

In the meantime, I've learned the following.

1. The lumps don't stay. I can count 14 at one point, the next morning there might be 8, eight hours later there might be 24, the following morning 6. Sometimes they stay.... there's almost always about 6-10 lumps in my arms consistently... but if I mark them with permanent marker - some of them will be in the same place the next day, others will have gone, but new ones (or they moved) will appear a quarter inch or so away from the mark.

2. The more I try to do physically, the worst the pain gets. Even knitting (sob) triggers more pain in my arms.

3. The ONLY thing that seems to help is application of heat. - So I'm spending my days and nights in bed with a heating pad being moved to the next spot that has the worst pain... with a few breaks to take long baths (and I hate baths) but the heat application makes it easier for me to sleep.

The doctor did put me back on coumadin, although honestly it's highly unlikely that these are truly blood clots. 1) they didn't show up on US 2) they move/dissolve way too quickly 3) if they are truly moving - then I would have more serious issues with breathing by this point.

But blood thinners will at least protect me from my blood clotting disorder while I remain bedridden to deal.

I'm on medical leave from work right now, but all I can hope for is that the rheumatologist might have a treatment suggestion and/or my condition goes through another change and I can experience some remission. I find that it makes me feel very defeated.

I stopped ALL methylation treatments as well as temporarily stopping the thyroid treatments. I stopped adding a ton of salt to all my dishes. I've checked with the MTHFR specialist to see if there's anything obviously outstanding that might explain my new symptoms based on what I'm doing... but nothing came to mind. All the doctors I've spoken to, with the exception of the one who I no longer trust who suggested angiolipomas... have repeatedly told me that my symptoms are exceptionally uncommon and make no sense.

I question whether or not my 'ramping' up my methylation process after it having been in such bad shape my whole life has caused an influx of something I'm having a systematic reaction to. If so, backing off of the methylation support should allow my symptoms to improve (nothing yet, but not quite ready to give up on the experiement). If the symptoms do back off and restarting the process makes it worse - then I know to dig deeper into that process.

So, in the meantime, I'm mostly doing a wait and see approach.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Father's day

My stepfather and I have never been close. He had married an older woman who had three teenagers and a younger daughter. They took a little while to become a 'family', but we did. And even more so, when he had a son (my youngest brother) with her. But he wasn't quite ready to be 'dad' when I was little. Less so, once I became a teenage girl with authority issues. Even less ready to become a grandfather when my eldest was born.

We get along. We're just not 'close'.

Since my own birth father had died when I was quite young... I had been super close to him, but I never had that connection again with anyone after that. It was all about my mom when I was growing up.

And since my eldest son's father hasn't been a part of his life (well, ever), he never really experienced having a dad around either.

Admittedly, I was married for several years in the hopes of obtaining a father for my son. But come to find out he didn't really want to be a dad to my son. And it wasn't too much longer after I realized that before I realized that I didn't need him in my life after all.

And my other son's father and I were only dating when I conceived and we had split up before I'd known we'd conceived.

Well... father's day has always been a bit 'odd'. It doesn't quite fit our family. My youngest son usually gets to spend Father's day weekend with his dad... which at least gives me a little break. But, it's been hard to call it a family event or holiday.

I did start teasing my eldest son about father's day when he was a teenager. It's not like he had anyone in his life besides myself and my mother. And, I figured I deserved some due for being the one to toss a softball or kick the soccer ball with him. I was the one who took him to baseball games. I was the one who taught him to mow the lawn and grill out on the grill. I taught him how to hike, camp and fish- though I never could quite bring myself to clean them (catch & release works better when you aren't a big fish eater - lol). I was the one helping him with his cub scout activities.

He pretty much ignored all my attempts at getting some recognition on father's day... until he became a father himself.

Now, I get flowers and dinner for Mother's day. And father's day? Comes with a huge thank you and a conversation about how much he appreciates what I have done and continue to do to support him.

He's turning into a pretty great father on his own. And I think it's pretty cool that once a boy becomes a man and understands what it really takes to be a man? He realizes that some of that came from his mother... and that it is ok.


Sunday, June 08, 2014

Need to vent about doctors

I have a history of blood clots.

I have a genetic condition that makes me have a high risk of future clots.

I have had one PE and one superficial clot. A superficial clot is generally considered no worse than a bruise. It's minor, usually caused by iv's or injury or otherwise... and they are not usually considered dangerous, nor are they treated with any type of medication.

However, sometimes, if left untreated (about 10% of the time, they can lead to DVTs.

If I get a DVT, it will be considered my second clotting event and I'll be stuck on blood thinners the rest of my life.  (superficial clots don't count as a true clotting event).

My first superficial clot came along after surgery in the arm about an inch away from my iv site. It's pretty common to get them after an IV... and as it was I was being put on blood thinners for two weeks as a preventative treatment after surgery - so within three to four days, the clot started to feel better and to shrink. It shrunk down to about the size of a pea... and all was right in my world.

However, last Tuesday, my arm got sore again - in the same place as my previous superficial clot. A small patch of the area on my bicep was red, swollen and warm to the touch. When I poked and prodded I found a little pea sized lump... only it wasn't in the original location. Sure enough, when I poked some more, I found two pea sized lumps - the old one and a new one. Since I knew they were low risk and didn't necessitate immediate medical treatment - and that the treatment (warm compresses and aspirin) is low risk if I'm wrong... I just started the treatment on my own.

Two days later, I had some pain in my left upper arm... found another itty bitty lump. Hmmm.... that's not good. But I'd only just started taking the aspirin a day or so before... so I figured it might not have had a chance to take effect yet.

Third day... and the lumps in my right arm were both larger than they used to be. Which means that my old clot has gotten bigger as had the second, newer clot. They went from pea sized to marble sized.

I broke down and did something I didn't want to do - but I called the doctor to ask if they could see me. Only they wanted me to go straight to the emergency room. I got a little pissy and grumpy and stubborn. I didn't want to waste the time to go to the ER... I knew that these are not life threatening, in and of themselves... and that if I could get treatment (true blood thinners) that they wouldn't get any worse and therefor couldn't reach the point of being life threatening. So, I didn't go to the ER on Friday.

I went home and pouted instead.

Saturday morning I woke up and it was hard to feel the lumps in my right bicep because the whole area is much more inflamed. I think I need a new doctor, but on Satuday I realized that I wasn't going to get diagnosed and treated any time soon if I didn't go anywhere.

I can't find a new doctor over the weekend. And a walk in clinic that doesn't know me isn't going to do anything except send me to the emergency room ... sigh.

So, I broke down and went to the emergency room on Saturday. TOTAL WASTE OF TIME. They concurred that I do not have dvt's (deep vein thrombosis) and that my life is not in danger at this time. And they recommended I talk to my doctor. Which is all I wanted to do in the first place.

Grrrr.

The two lumps in my right arm are now around 2" long... the bump in my left arm is about the size of a marble... and now I have a new pea-sized lump in my lower left arm.

I may not be a doctor.

I may not be thoroughly familiar with everything about how the body works.

But I know a LOT more about my blood clotting disorder than a lot of doctors.

Basically, the body needs the clotting mechanism to deal with injuries. And when you are hurt or cut, you need blood clotting to stop the bleeding.

But sometimes, the trigger that initiates the blood clotting 'process' isn't obvious. And with my disorder, once it's turned on... the body has a hard time stopping it from building clots even where they aren't needed.

When you develop multiple superficial clots in different locations without any preceding injury, it's evidence that the clotting mechanism has been turned on.

I've taken aspirin, which is the recommended treatment... and it hasn't phased the process.

Per the studies I've read, aspirin is very effective in helping folks with heart conditions and with arterial clotting risk in preventing platelets from sticking together. Veinous clotting disorders, on the other hand... are created by fibrin sticking together.  Aspirin has not been successfully proven to be effective with veinous clotting disorders. I have a veinous clotting disorder.

And aspirin has not been an effective treatment.

This isn't rocket science. It only makes sense that unless I start taking medicine proven to be effective in preventing veinous clots from forming... it will only be a matter of time before I'll start having dvt's or another PE which would be life threatening.

I am fully aware that the ER did their job. They made sure that I'm not on my death bed. But now I've been laying in bed for two days and getting worse. I HATE the idea of waiting to get worse instead of attempting to do something to get a handle on my condition. While it wouldn't be in the ER doctor's job description... it would have taken ONE prescription of a drug that can't be abused to have put me into a safer situation. It would have taken thinking outside the box and connecting the dots that a person with a clotting condition actively building clots (no matter whether they form outside the deep veins or inside of them) is probably going to need treatment to stop the process.

SIGH. I am really sick and tired of trying to get common sense medical treatment and getting brushed off. It's my life they are putting at risk because they don't know enough to connect the dots and see where this is heading.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

MTHFR, methylFolate and gout?! sigh

Chemistry was never a strong suit of mine. I took Geology in college for my 'science' credit.

Bio-chemistry is still far over my head.

But, now I want to dig further.

For folks with MTHFR taking methylfolate, there is a general consensus that sometimes high purine diet helps - increasing the beef, and other high purine value foods.

I haven't done that. Not hat I don't enjoy a rare, good steak... but it is normal for me to eat lots of soups and low-beef foods. High vegies, high fruits, moderate protein.

AND based on basic googling research, it appears that MTHFR impacts methylation cycle and can impact the bodies ability to process purine... which can convert to uric acid. Too much uric acid can result in gout flare ups.

Gout is exceptionally rare among patients having trouble with MTHFR impacting their health.

But, the more I think about it ... what I'm experiencing does make some sense.

If with MTHFR, the body isn't breaking down purine well... then it's not producing high amounts of uric acid.

Before I started treating MTHFR I never experienced any symptoms of gout.

Once I started taking methylfolate I had a couple of episodes with gout pain - but didn't know what it was. My big toe would just hurt like the dickens and I would brush it off thinking I was so clumsy I didn't even remember how I had hurt it. But at the point of starting to take methylfolate - I was starting to convert more purine into more uric acid because I was 'fixing' the process that does that conversion by supporting it.

Now, after almost a year of HEAVY dosing on methylfolate, I'm starting to have multiple symptoms of gout and multiple flare ups and finally have a diagnosis.

Here's the rub... I finally find something that helps me with ALL my other health issues - and it brings up a brand, new condition?!  I don't want to go back where I was... but I do need to figure out a way to manage things such as to cut back the flares.

If you have gout and are reading this, so far, my BEST treatment I'm getting is taking doses of the alkaline mineral A-C Carmabide. It's not that expensive, it cuts the pain of the flare VERY quickly and within a couple of days the flare is gone. But, I'd really like to figure out what to modify in my diet, and or supplement support to help reduce flares. I tend to forget my B12 supplement since it's sublingual and should be taken apart from my other supplements... more research is needed, but at least I'm finally to the point where some of this stuff is starting to make sense.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Set backs, lessons being learned and always starting over

I've been having health issues lately as a result of a car accident. Which won't get discussed here as this is a public forum and I don't know where it's going right now.

***

I had another gout flare up... well, I think it might be gout. Doctor tells me he thinks it's gout. But I've never gotten tested for it yet. I waited to take the supplement that really helps it while I reached out to my doctor as I  was thinking that with my next flare up he had planned on getting me tested for it. Only he didn't request any testing, just prescribed an N-SAID... which the supplement I'm taking works better than that... so I didn't bother to get it filled.

I'm taking A-C carbamide... and within four hours of the first dose, the pain is knocked in half... and within a day the pain is down to a dull ache and gone completely within four days.

The first symptoms I noticed and followed up on was tiny brown 'specks' in my urine - which didn't cause any pain. It's happened twice and I reached out to the doctor and his first thought was 'gout'. (Mine was kidney stones, I'm not sure this is better).

I didn't think about what 'gout' means to me, just that my 25 yr old son has a doctor telling him that he thinks he has gout as well (oh, boy!).  So, now we both feel like fat, old men (and aren't).

Within two days my big toe started to REALLY hurt. And while I've had severe pain in my big toe before, this was probably the first time in a long time that I KNEW I hadn't stepped on something or done something to it. I think in the past, I had always assumed that I had hurt it.

It didn't take long on google to tie together the big toe pain and the possibility of gout.  Now, about three months later the gout pain is back. It's bad enough that I end up limping. And I'm a little ticked that I didn't start taking supplements right away (worried that if I address the uric acid too quickly that it wouldn't work well if we were going to get tested.

I think I need to focus on diet next because I'd far rather work on the prevention side of things over just managing the flare ups... and I'll find out if the A-C carbamide could be used as prevention vs. reaction.... but diet first, if at all possible. But of course, between it and MTHFR and post-gall-bladder and post-dentures issues... my diet is already quite affected. We'll see what I can do to improve things though...

Interesting enough - one of the causes of gout is improper digestion... wonder if that ties into MTHFR or what all.... it does tend to run in the family and I might have just managed to past on a host of nasty genes.

***

So, lo and behold I ran out of my methylfolate supplements... went online and (as I usually do), I found the last order and placed an order after verifying that it's the same version of it that I had gotten in the past. I don't know how long I've been off... But I go through a TON of these pills and I'm pretty certain over the past year I've always ordered the same item because I always use order history to find the item I need to replace. ONLY... one year ago it was 5 mg a capsule (like 8000% of RDA)... and I happened to glance at it the other week to realize it's 10 mg a capsule... and I was taking double the already exceptionally high dosage.

I'm wondering if this is part of why I've struggled a little with taking the supplements. I'd been out for a couple of weeks as it was. So it felt like time to take a fresh look at the supplements I'm taking and working on making sure they all work for me. I took a week-long time out from all supplements.

Lo and behold (again) no diahrrea. I added one supplement at a time and again... diahrrea back. I can't take the Opticleanse without it coming back. And I think I've finally eliminated enough of my dietary triggers that it became easier to prove what was causing it.  So, now I need to reach out to the doctor to find an alternative... which might end up being dozens of pills to get the nutrients packed into it individually... but I'm at a point in my life where the chronic diahrrea (almost 5 years of it with over 5 days out of every 7 having diahrrea)... that it's just not acceptable to deal with it any longer.

So, right now I'm down to the following:

First thing in the monring, empty stomach - Armour - Thyroid medicine

Within an hour - with food
10mg alternated with 20 mg of Methylfolate (instead of 15 mg every day)
ALC
NAC

About an hour after lunch and an hour before my afternoon 'meal'

1000 mg of liposomal Vit C

About an hour after my afternoon 'meal'
1 mg of methyl B12 (want to go to 2 mg - maybe after my dinner?)

2 capsules up to 4 x per day of A-C carbamide as needed
Ibuprofen as needed

Slowly, but surely, I'm crawling back out of the dark again.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Trouble sleeping

Things are not going all that well around here.

Two weeks ago I got rear ended on the interstate - both cars totalled. While I did walk away (and thank all that is good in the world that my 10 yr old is fine)... I still managed to get whiplash out of the deal.

I'm not going to go into the details, because it feels like the guy who hit me is maybe trying to lay blame elsewhere and I'm not sure this won't all end up in court if things go poorly.

But I will say, whiplash sucks. My head has hurt for 14 days straight. My neck? AGONY repeatedly. Ice does help, but you have to take breaks. I have some shooting pains in my shoulder that occasionally migrate down the right side of my back... mostly I think from stiff/tight muscles who don't like the pain I'm in. Lots of ibuprofen and heating pads on those muscles. Lots of trip to the chiropractor and he's helping the muscles remember that being loose instead of tight is less pain. The treatments are helping and with each treatment I feel a slight improvement. But there's A LONG road ahead of me and every step feels like it's just not going far enough, fast enough.

My first big mistake after the accident? I had already scheduled a driving trip to Colorado. OMG. BIG MISTAKE. DO NOT... I REPEAT NEVER, EVER take a 10 hour drive within four days of being rear ended. I thought I was in pain before we left. Pain meds just don't touch it (well, the ones I can take anyway... being allergic to strong pain meds is a big pain).

Second big mostake? Catching a head cold. Every sneeze, every cough is pretty much followed up with a moan or a cry or a yell. I've been brought to tears multiple times today over sneezing.

Now, I've got two days without having to work in front of me, hello weekend, we love you.

But then I have to go to MN for work and am so NOT looking forward into getting into a car for a road trip again. I'm packing a neck pillow, some one-time-use ice packs and am going to curl up into a ball in the corner of the car and try not to weep the whole drive. As if my life wasn't stressful enough before.

It's always something, and lately? it's been beating the crap out of me.

Monday, March 17, 2014

High Stress and new injury - worried about another relapse

Stress has been identified as one of the potential triggers for flare ups in symptoms.

Friday night I was supposed to be dropping my youngest son 'a' off with his dad. Only, we never made it out of town.

There had been stopped traffic on the interstate.

And while I had managed to come to a stop quickly enough to avoid hitting someone? Someone behind me wasn't so lucky - and rear-ended my car. Thankfully, we were all able to walk away - even the secondary collision that happened about 20 feet behind us involving two cars and a semi. Not sure about the accident a half-mile further East - that was the root behind the traffic at a complete stop in all lanes on the Interstate.

Sadly, my car is no more.

And, even worse? I have moderate whiplash.

I spent the weekend dealing with unbelievable frustration and irritation at the car rental agency who never managed to get me a rental car even after multiple reservations made and complaints escalated. And two trips to the airport, plus standing in line for over 30 minutes in extreme pain.

But this morning, I finally got through to the one person who was able to retrieve the original reservation made by my insurance company. Only, he couldn't provide a vehicle either. He was, however, able to forward my reservation to the office of the car rental company that has served me extremely well over the past couple of years... and they got me a car within 10 minutes.

I had said to my son that I should just go deal with it myself with the office I liked, only I was trying to follow the directions I had been given. That's what I get for trying to follow directions.  I should just stick with my gut.

Now, I'm at the rough spot of hurting like the dickens due to the whiplash and nothing I'm taking or doing is lessoning the pain. But I'm doing my best to keep the inflammation down, got the xrays taken finally (now that I've got a car)... and hopefully the insurance company will mostly be really helpful with taking care of those bills. And if not, then I can always sue the pants off of them for the pain and suffering.

But, now I'm mostly worried about how I'll be feeling in the near future. I felt like I was climbing back out of the whole I'd gotten into health-wise. Stress and injuries tend to spiral downward with my health and I just don't need that on top of everything else.

We had originally planned to go to Colorado this week... my son is driving. And I think I'm still going to do it. I might spend most of our little bit of free time we get laying down in the hotel room. But it's away from home and the stress there. If I'm going to hurt no matter where I am, and the doctor did verify that going shouldn't cause new harm... so I might as well be someplace more scenic than home!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Traveling

I have a pretty limited diet - being both gluten free and dairy free can be challenging... even without adding travel... but it's becoming more 'understood' and isn't  impossible. But if you also remove all fried foods from the equation? That gets SO much tougher.  For fast food places? About the only places I can eat are Subway and Wendy's.

Most regular restaurant's have a couple of items on the menu that I can eat... so looking at a menu changes dramatically from being able to look at what they offer and decide what sounds good.... to becoming an exercise in finding SOMETHING I can eat without distress... or something that with a change could become edible. I've more than a few times gotten a grilled chicken sandwhich with no cheese. Then remove the bun after it arrives.

Add travel and sometimes limited options for eating? And suddenly it's not so easy. The last couple of hotels I stayed at offered complimentary breakfasts... and unless they offer fresh fruit, it usually won't work.

My solution has been to either pack a cooler (if driving) or stop at the market shortly after arriving (when flying) and making sure I have a refrigerator and microwave in the hotel room. Then I can have my almond milk for creating nutrition shakes, I can have some vegetable juice smoothies. And absolute worst case? I carry pre-made packages of tuna salad. It's not ideal and it's not my favorite meal in the world, but it does keep me from starving when I can't find anything to eat.


Monday, March 03, 2014

Month three

Better and better, though some days are still pretty challenging.

Current Treatment:
I'm missing my half-dose of Opticleanse (my bad - need to get to the store)
ALA tablet, one per day
3 methylfolate L-5-MTHF - ES (15 mg) daily
NAC tablet, one per day
sublingual methyl B12 (occasionally 2)
1 dropper of Vitamin D oil
1 capsule of Liposomal Vitamin C - taken apart from other treatments
1 dose of 30 mg Armour - first thing in the morning on an empty stomach

Current Symptoms/Severity:

Dizziness spells are GONE

Fuzzy-headedness is still improving. I'm having several hours of clarity every day - but more issues later in the day once fatigue has set in.

Leg pain is mild, but never ending.

Left shoulder pain that radiates down my arm - GONE.

Back pain no longer gone. Having a few mild re-occurances - STILL MILD

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

Severe muscle-based exhaustion - probably at about 75% of 'normal' energy level for about two hours a day now... and down to only about 50% the rest of the time. Starting to try to focus the few bursts of energy I get into actual housework as best I can. No stamina, but I'm used to that. -- still the same as last time. But, I do feel a little more capable every morning... and getting out of bed isn't the hardest thing I have to do every day any longer. Which is really saying something.

Tingly/not-quite-right-sensation/mild numbness - seems to be almost GONE

Had some trouble with my left ankle. - BACK, left toe, left ankle, left knee and left hip joint are starting to take turns hurting REALLY BAD.

Left breast - still cycling... not too bad lately, just went through another cycle, it didnt' seem to hurt as much this time around.

Swollen lymph nodes - still swollen.

New symptom: brown powder/crystal? something in my urine stream not blood, and not dark urine... just some of the brown 'solids' that come out. Current plan is to make sure I keep adding more liquids in my diet and perhpas later check for gout and/or bladder stones. As it stands, there's no pain. So, hopefully they'll go away on their own. If I tie this to the joint pain, that's probably a bad sign that it might be gout. Am looking  into possible treatments / testing for gout.

Next Steps:

I'm going to see the doctor in Colorado in a few weeks and start seeing about finding ways to get my son's treated. 

Check for gout and treatments.

Focus primarily on energy conservation. I am thinking about asking for fewer classes to teach in the fall so I don't get as burnt out by working two jobs so much. Focus on getting my ten year old to help out more around the house so things don't get so bad while I'm not up to picking up after him.

Monday, February 03, 2014

10 yr old funny

My eldest son are doing that thing.

That thing you hated when you were little.

Talking about the 'olden' days and how things have changed. Talking about phones that weighed ten pounds and you had to insert your finger into a ring and swing it around a dial to 'dial a number'.

When 64 MB seemed like a crazy amount of memory.

Tonight, I was watching tv when I was informed by my ten year old that he had rediscovered a favorite show from his childhood.

It was Lego Ninjago and it aired a few years ago.


Month 2 - updated treatment plan

OK, third month in and some more mild improvement... and considering that I have a cold, I figure that still feeling better than before is really saying something.

half-dose of Opticleanse daily
ALA tablet, one per day
3 methylfolate L-5-MTHF - ES (15 mg) daily
NAC tablet, one per day
sublingual methyl B12 (occasionally 2)
1 dropper of Vitamin D oil

Have just added in 30 mg of Armour daily for border-line low TSH.

Within a week of adding the Armour, I'm feeling more rested in the morning (woot!).


Current Symptoms/Severity:

Dizziness spells are almost entirely absent!

Fuzzy-headedness is still improving. I'm having several hours of clarity every day - but more issues later in the day once fatigue has set in.

Leg pain is mild, but never ending.

Left shoulder pain that radiates down my arm - GONE.

Back pain no longer gone. Having a few mild re-occurances - not sure if it's related to the stress tied to my cold.

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

Severe muscle-based exhaustion - probably at about 75% of 'normal' energy level for about two hours a day now... and down to only about 50% the rest of the time. Starting to try to focus the few bursts of energy I get into actual housework as best I can. No stamina, but I'm used to that. -- still the same as last time.

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. - GONE

Left breast - still cycling... not too bad lately, but due to worsen soon.

Swollen lymph nodes - still swollen. WIll have to remember to discuss with my next Integrative MD appointment. -- totally spaced it because I had more urgent matters to discuss.

New symptom: brown powder/crystal? something in my urine stream not blood, and not dark urine... just some of the brown 'solids' that come out. Current plan is to make sure I keep adding more liquids in my diet and perhpas later check for gout and/or bladder stones. As it stands, there's no pain. So, hopefully they'll go away on their own.

Next steps:

Adding daily liposomal C to my daily supplements pile (well, separate from supplements but in the must remember to take pile).

And mostly just focus on getting over my cold and taking it easy (not an easy proposition when working two jobs).

Friday, January 10, 2014

One month progress - with starting over

So far, much better.

Not quite the dramatic uptick I saw last time... but I'm also starting out ever-so slower.

I'm currently still at :

half-dose of Opticleanse daily
ALA tablet, one per day
2 methylfolate L-5-MTHF - ES (10 mg) daily

Have added in one sublingual methyl B12 (when I remember it,  need to figure out a better option to make it easier to remembeer)

as well as

1 dropper of Vitamin D oil

Current Symptoms/Severity:

Dizziness spells are slightly less frequent - maybe 1-2 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 improving. But plenty of room for more improvement.

Leg pain is mild, but never ending.

Left shoulder pain that radiates down my arm - almost gone.

Back pain still gone.

All over-ache (feels like flu) - still present, but not something that I'm not used to. Some episodes lately where it's been slightly worse.

Severe muscle-based exhaustion - probably at about 75% of 'normal' energy level for about two hours a day now... and down to only about 50% the rest of the time. Starting to try to focus the few bursts of energy I get into actual housework as best I can. No stamina, but I'm used to that.

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. - this is now gone (woot!).

Left breast - still cycling... not too bad lately, but due to worsen soon.

Swollen lymph nodes - still swollen. WIll have to remember to discuss with my next Integrative MD appointment.

Next steps:

Add in the other (missing) 5mg of Methylfolate.

Add in the NAC

Add in Vitamin C (need to investigate the 'better' forms to consider taking).

Friday, January 03, 2014

More adventures in online dating in your 40's

It's funny the work we'll go to - to avoid certain subjects.

Two cases in point.

I am doing everything in my power to not call attention to the fact that I'm a grandmother.

1. my grandson is my son's fiance's son... even if it comes up in the conversation three times.

2. I am his dad's mother... yeah. I know. Still makes me grandma... but I don't have to use that 'word' - lol

Time enough in the future to talk about grandkids... but they really don't have to be things discussed on the first date... even if you are talking about already existing kids. I'm thinking that's for future date conversations... lol.

Dentures.

I wear dentures. I'm not really ashamed of wearing dentures and if asked... I'll admit to them. But who on earth asks if you are wearing dentures unless you've already been discussing the topic with them? I can bet guys on their first dates sure won't.

But here I am after a denture-atastrophy... (dog chewed them up). Trying to figure out how to delay our first official real date (not the meet for coffee thing) because my dentures are destroyed and it'll be two weeks before I can get fitted with new ones (a minimum of two weeks).

And I don't even want to bring up the subject that I wear dentures. Because while I'm sure he would be understanding that I'm too embarrassed to be out in public toothless... I really don't need him picturing me that way.

These things have to do with timing. I won't lie about them. I won't deny them. But I don't think they need to 'come up' all that soon. Soon enough after you find out if you really like each other, first.

So, what did I do ?

I took a dremel sander to the dentures I have and after two hours have now ground them down to the point where I think I can at least appear in public. sigh. They're not really functional. But, I think I can wear them to the office and to a movie and get away with it. Might need something to numb my gag reflex a little better... but, just maybe I can survive a couple of hours with them in?

I'm trying today. I'll see if I can last two hours. If so, then maybe I don't have to admit that I am avoiding our next date because my dog ate my teeth... good news is that it's such a bad excuse, that it's unlikely he'll think I'm lying about it.