Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.

 Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net

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» Sunday, March 27, 2016
Bunny Hops

Hope everyone had a blessed Easter and is enjoying the first days of spring. It's certainly spring here: the trees and bushes are all in a riot of bloom, with the Bradford pears and the forsythia already past their prime and both white and pink dogwoods brave with blossom, and the daffodils and tulips bob their heavy heads Spring in the South would be gorgeous if everything wasn't coated with a pervasive yellow haze of pine pollen. The only Easter decoration I put up outside was the lily/cross flag, since all the spring decorations are clotted in yellow and I don't want to get the Easter things dirty. It rained today, but the only thing that did was to create a yucky yellow-edged scum over everything.

Not to mention every bird in the neighborhood is singing a territorial song of domination and the sweet courting sounds of the chickadee (fee-beeeee, fee-beeee...) are still heard occasionally.

I'd enjoy spring better if horrid, sticky, sweaty, summer with its sickly rancid asphalt-and-rotting mulch stench didn't follow.

Due to our late night last night, watching The Amazing Dr. Pol and Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet, we were up very late this morning, giving me just enough time to perambulate the pooch and us to eat breakfast before we were off to the movie theatre near the old house to see Zootopia. Saw a whole bunch of Disney previews (Jungle Book does look compelling) and nothing more, so no Fantastic Beast this time.

Zootopia was, in a word, terrific! I enjoyed the characters, especially Judy and Nick, who are Betty Roberts and Scott Sherwood in an alternative universe, the mystery plot, the villain reveal, and even the little lessons that were snuck here and there painlessly. And the ending! Oh, goodness! We will have to get the Blu-Ray, just to see all the details, because the picture on our television is probably three times better than the screen we saw it on—this was the bargain theater and the picture was so dark. We sat in the front, a little to the side, because I didn't want to sit in front of a little girl1, and both sides of the screen were so gloomy that we really didn't get all the brilliant details of the film. I've heard digital films are darker, but...really. And still love the wonderful joke with the sloths at the DMV: someone has visited the Rhode Island department of motor vehicles for sure.

By the time we got home, it was almost time for dinner. We had ham with pineapple sauce, potatoes and butter, and a wonderful diced cucumber/tomato/onion salad with lemon balsamic vinegar and garlic olive oil. Tres manifique! We ate and watched Rick Steves' European Easter, which was pretty cool. He basically showed Spanish, Italian, Eastern European, and Greek customs, and I especially appreciated the latter, as I had never seen an Eastern Orthodox service before. The Spanish "procession" was very beautiful with all the golden floats representing Christ's life and passion, and the somber statues of a grieving Saint Mary.

Later we watched the two annuals: The Easter Promise (the third Addie Mills story, with Jean Simmons as a local actress with a secret) and Rankin-Bass' generally rollicking Here Comes Peter Cottontail. The song "The Puzzle of Life" has helped me in a lot of unhappy moments.

1 I always snap back to my days going to Disney movies at the old Majestic Theatre in downtown Providence, now the home of the Trinity Square Repertory Company. The Majestic was a big old marble-facaded vaudeville house, and its seats were such even back then that everyone should have gotten a good view. Mother and I always came early, to get good seats. In case we needed to use the bathroom, we'd sit near the back, but she was always careful to pick a place where I could see the screen. And then, invariably, two minutes before the big red velvet curtain opened to reveal the Buena Vista opening screen of the 1960s Disney films, some tall adult would sidle in the row in front of us and invariably plunk down right in front of me. I remember a succession of films, from Thomasina to The Jungle Book, with some stupid grown-up's head right in the middle of my field of vision. And that's why I never sit in front of little kids, even with stadium seating!

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» Saturday, March 26, 2016
Everybody Needs Friends

I hate my alarm.

But it was the only way to get to Hair Day on time. I dressed and took Tucker for his walk, while James decanted the teriyaki chicken (much less than I expected; they've made the packages smaller again) and cooked it up with mushrooms and onions and extra teriyaki sauce. Then we were off.

Great time today. We got to see the Butlers' new kitchen floor (laminate wood) that they got at such a cost (having their kitchen jackhammered up because bad pipes were used in their plumbing; it was that stuff that was recalled from the 1980s) and helped Lin pick out a color for an accent wall. I had my hair trimmed for the year. We got to see Juanita's new car, a beautiful cadet-blue Honda Pilot. Andrew brought some handcrafted items, one which we bought as a Christmas gift. We discussed the wedding last week and Mel and Phyllis' upcoming 50th anniversary. And there was a nice spread: potato salad, cole slaw, two fruit plates, a relish plate, and Lin's always delectable cheese balls. And the chicken lasted, too.

We didn't leave until after three. James was feeling a bit dauncy, but we wanted to get him a new carbinator at Bed, Bath & Beyond and we had a $10 off Petsmart coupon that expired tomorrow. Alas, he'd forgotten the old carbinator to trade in. We did have ice cream at Bruster's and got dog food (and bird seed, and millet, and treats for the dog). Once we got home, James just seemed to lose all energy and was cold. He put on a flannel shirt and after he called his mom to wish her a happy birthday, we huddled over the television (well, he did until he fell asleep). I finished one book and continued another.

Later we watched Alaska State Troopers and he had an omelet and I had toast and cereal.

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» Friday, March 25, 2016
Contemplation to Commotion

I slept in this morning, to a luxurious nine a.m., without it being due to sickness. It's so nice to turn over in bed and not have to worry about where I can put my hands because they hurt so much, or tuck them under me again. (Not to mention it's good to be in a 3-fan bedroom again, thanks to a timely delivery from Bed, Bath & Beyond, since fans aren't out in the stores yet.) Or to turn over in bed and not have my elbows hurt. Or to not have my hands hurt when I brush my hair, or handle the dog's leash, or open the door...

Of course sleeping late meant I didn't have time to do much before noon. I ate a good breakfast, took my steroid, and cleaned off the coffee table and emptied half the dishwasher before it was time for my three hours of Good Friday meditation. Mom used to do this in her own way when I was little. Of course I knew the Bible story that Jesus died at noon and for three hours the world was in darkness. She asked me to be quiet and play nicely or read, and she would shut off the television (and miss her "stories") and say her rosary instead. In the past few years I have done something similar in contemplation. First I read the Mass readings for the day: both epistles and the gospel and the antiphon, and then the reflection that is included with it.

For the past six weeks I have been recording the BBC Lent Talks. Each year they do these 13 1/2 minute radio talks. There is a different theme each year; for instance, last year's theme was "performance." This year''s theme was "Lent in the Landscape," and the episodes were "The Wilderness," "The City," "The Dining Hall," "The Garden," "The Execution" (at the Tower of London), and finally "The Tomb."

Finally I put on instrumental Christmas music and finished reading Walking the Bible, which I've greatly enjoyed. The author is so descriptive in every setting, and I enjoyed the talks with the different faiths about the Bible and the journey in Exodus. I am always sad whe this quiet three hours is over.

While I was listening to the talks I sewed up something that needed repair and wrote out, however late, some Easter cards (of course the mail carrier was early today), and when I was finished it was time to make the bed and get dressed and wait for James.

We had a busy evening: went to Tin Drum for supper, then hit Barnes & Noble. James bought two different games with the coupons he got in the mail, and I bought a remainder book. Then we went to Costco to get the fixings for our Hair Day contribution tomorrow, only to discover that Costco didn't carry what we wanted anymore. We did get milk, and yay, Prilosec was on sale!

Then we had to go to Publix to pick up what we could have gotten at Costco for less money [sigh...], but it was good that we went because I finished all the shopping (Those Damn Bananas, sandwich bread, and yogurt), plus lamb, mixed veggies, and other goodies and now we don't have to go to Kroger. Anything that keeps me out of yet another supermarket makes me happy. Putting up all those groceries does not, but now maybe we can go see Zootopia on Sunday, since it's going to rain most of the day anyway.

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» Thursday, March 24, 2016
Doctor Visit Number Four
This morning was a surprise all the way: I had my alarm set for 7:45 and was woken at 7:30 by the sound of a lawn mower under my window. I don't think I've ever gotten dressed so fast (and I don't think without the three steroids yesterday I could have made it). Walked the dog, ate breakfast, back to Kaiser to the rheumatologist.

So now we are back to the original diagnosis: reaction to the shingles vaccine! Dr. Boelli heard the long, long story, complete with visual aids starting with the swollen fingers, which he said also looked like an allergic reaction. I also showed him the rash photo and he said that was not a Lyme rash (glad I took pics for Robin and Puli) and said that I should have made an appointment with the dermatologist immediately. Well, swelp me, how was I supposed to know I could do that? You need a referral for everything else!

And he chewed me out exasperatedly for seeing three different doctors (well, what was I supposed to do with my primary-care physician being on vacation when the rash broke out and then not being available when my hands were swollen like a puffer fish?) and going off the doxycycline without telling the previous doctor. The more I think about this, the more ticked I am. If Dr. A says I have some condition, and Dr. B reinterprets the test results and says I don't, and even Dr. C says something like "It's not that." why do I have to be the one to tell Dr. A that I quit taking the medicine she prescribed? Shouldn't Dr. B send a note to Dr. A saying "I believe you may have mistakenly given Ms. X the wrong diagnosis and this is why," quoting the same CDC guidelines as Dr. B quoted me, and adding, "I have told her to stop taking the medicine you prescribed."

Now if I took myself off the medicine, for whatever reasons, damnfool or not, then I should be the one to do the telling, yes.

He told me to finish off the steroid Dr. Nguyen gave me, but two a day rather than three, and then he would give me some half strength to take when I finished those to ramp me down. "But what caused the rash?" Allergic reaction. "This long after the shot?" He likened it to going into a room and turning on a light, then leaving the room. The light [i.e. the vaccine] is still on to my body and I have to wait until it shuts off. Anyway, the whole thing gave me a headache.

So I gave it book therapy: went to Barnes & Noble, had a bowl of chicken noodle soup for lunch, and bought four books: the newest Flavia de Luce mystery in paperback, the third Longmire mystery, No Comfort for the Lost (a mystery set in old San Francisco), and a history book called Dead Presidents, about the afterlife of the American presidents. Came home by the Smyrna library and checked out the perpetual booksale: brought home David Attenborough's The First Eden and The Animals in My Life: Stories of a Country Vet.

Therapy or not, dogs must still be walked, and I still had two BBC "Lent Talks" to record for tomorrow afternoon. So it was done.

James was late because it was his turn for a doctor's appointment, and now we are watching Killing Jesus, with a strikingly non-charismatic lead.

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» Wednesday, March 23, 2016
The Merry-Go-Round
Since I was fine enough to go to the wedding, I togged up Monday morning to go to work. It was a long marathon of a day. I had a lot to print out, and had to go back and forth to the printer several times, at 75 steps a trip. Normally this is no problem. Today it was a problem: the high sides of my Reeboks rubbed the swollen sides of my ankles and by the time the day ended it was quite painful. I'd typed over the weekend, but not as much as I needed to do at work. Soon my hands were sending out pain signals, and my wrists were hurting.

Less said about the one-hour commute home the better. There was no position in which my shoes didn't irritate my ankles and my hands were very sensitive gripping the steering wheel. I walked the dog and then lay down until James got home.

I could only get the advice nurse on Tuesday and she told me to put my feet up, take ibuprofin, and rest. I did. I had an appointment this morning with Dr. Nguyen, since my doctor had no openings.

Of course, since I hadn't seen him before, I had to tell him the entire saga again. He looked at my hands and my ankles, felt them, and frowned, and then went back and read the bloodwork readings and the note that accompanied it. Then he said "I don't believe you have Lyme disease at all."


He said that according to CDC guidelines (CDC. You remember them.), one must have at least five of the dozen or so markers for Lyme disease show up positive for you to be diagnosed with Lyme. I only have two of the markers, and even if one of them is positive, the other often shows a false positive.

"But then what caused the rash?" He didn't know that, either, but he didn't believe it was Lyme. And then there was the swelling of the ankles, hands, and wrists, plus other joint soreness. Now, this was something that was also puzzling me. In none of my online searches on Lyme did it indicate any swelling as a symptom. Fever, joint pain, rash. Not swelling, not lumps under the skin. But what do I know?

(He also said I really should follow up on a case with the same doctor. Well, what am I supposed to do when he's on vacation? I had to see some other doctor since I was breaking out in a rash all over my body! And today my fingers are so swollen...)

Anyway, so he said not to take the doxycycline anymore, that he was sending me down to the lab for (guess what) another blood draw and also to pee-in-a-cup (he's checking my kidneys, for what I don't know, but that's upsetting), and he gave me a week's worth of steroid in the hopes the swelling in my hands will go down enough that I can get my wedding ring off without it having major surgery. And a referral to a rheumatologist.

So I went down to the lab, visited the vampires, and while I was waiting for my scrip, called the rheumatologist and got in tomorrow morning.

The blood tests came in later. Nothing seems to be flagged.

So...what's going on? Beats me.

Came home past the mall so I could finally pick up my shoe inserts. The place was like a zoo at noon on Wednesday! The inserts feel really nice; I put a set in my dog-walking shoes when I got home and I was able to walk Tucker. I'd stopped by Hibachi and got a teriyaki steak bowl for lunch; I ate all the steak and half the rice and still had a big bowl of rice left over! When dinnertime rolled around James served me a pork chop, but I wasn't hungry. He's minced it up with the rest of the rice, added mushrooms and onions, and we'll have it as a side dish.

We have been watching the old Thin Man series which is running on getTV. It's so-so, but it's Peter Lawford... 



» Sunday, March 20, 2016
A Days of Downs and One Big UP!

Our original idea was to get up at 7:45, eat breakfast, leave at nine, get home, dress for and go to Leigh and Robbie's wedding, and then pick up the "kids" at the vet.

But James didn't think that was enough time. Okay, 6:45, but if we got to Atlanta early enough, say between 10 and 10:30 ,we could probably pick up the animals and take them home. Tucker could spend a nice hour on the deck as we left.

I woke up sick (the kind of sick you take Pepto-Bismol for). For crying out loud! Enough! James helped me pack, then I managed to help him get the stuff out to the car. And I did get some breakfast, but not much, a bowl of oatmeal, a bowl of cereal, and two dry pieces of toast with milk; the rest of the time I was in the bathroom. So we did not leave at eight, but after nine, and I had to stop at Ingles in Cleveland, too. Luckily after that, I was so exhausted (I didn't sleep well, which may have triggered this along with the stress on Thursday) I fell asleep and didn't wake up until we were approaching I-285.

The next hour was a bit of a circus. Another bathroom visit, in which more Pepto Bismol was swallowed. I couldn't find the usual kilt pin for James' kilt, nor the pin for my dress. I put my time turner on instead, and James had an alternative pin> I helped James straighten the seams of his socks, put big bows and a wedding card on the gift we bought for Leigh and Robbie, and did a dozen other things. James finally got his tie done satisfactorily and we fled the house at 12:10 and arrived at the synagogue before the three-quarter hour.

There was a little reception with cookies (including round cookies like the almond bars my mom made at Christmas) and champagne. They had yarmulkes for the men and little doilies (just as I remembered as a Catholic teenager after the hat rule in church became voluntarily; you had to have something on your head, but it could be a mantilla or the smaller "doily" that went on your head—they'd loan you one if you didn't have one) for the married ladies, and we milled around with friends who'd just, hours earlier, had been in Helen with us, except all of them were dressed to the nines. Juanita had a very Forties-looking purple hat that had been discovered while we were there.

The rabbi explained the different stages of the ceremony before anything began. This is a very easygoing congregation: at one point some of us were gathered in one room, as Leigh came out in her very Forties brief veil and a beautiful long gown that outlined her figure beautifully, to give and receive blessings from her friends, and then we went into the other room, where Robbie and others were gathered at tables where salutes were being read to him. The rabbi told us this portion would take a little while, and then the men would come into the bride's room escorting the groom, "making a great deal of noise." They did, too, loudly humming "The Imperial March" from Star Wars. :-) Next the marriage contract, a beautifully calligraphed document in Aramaic and English, was signed by the witnesses, and then the bride and groom. And then finally we were let into the sanctuary and witnessed the traditional wedding ceremony with the tent and the broken glass at the end. It was all quite beautiful (and funny, too, as the rabbi would make us do it over if we didn't chorus "Mazel Tov!" loudly enough).

Finally there was a reception with finger foods. We sat with an old college friend of Leigh's named Bob (who reminded me a great deal of Rupert Holmes) and his little girl, and another couple and several women. They had the usual wedding reception milestones: the first dance, bride dances with dad, groom dances with mom (that almost got put off because Mom was nowhere to be found), cutting the cake, etc. It was a great time, but we had to leave before they did "Havah Nagelah."

It was chilly enough (I don't have a dressy jacket, just a shawl) that we came back to the house, changed, and then drove out to Dunwoody to ransom the fids. Snowy gave us a look of surprise, then bit me smartly as I put him back in his carry box, and spent the rest of the ride, including the stop at Kroger, making love to the mirror in the box and trying to attack my thumb any time it appeared. Tucker was so happy to be let out of his cage that he pressed his nose to the floor trailing whatever animals had been in the waiting room and didn't notice we were there until James called him for the fourth time. "Oh, it's YOU!" He is always surprised when we come back for him! He once again sat on my right thigh on the way home, except when we stopped at Kroger, when he whined for two minutes, then sat down disconsolately in the driver's seat to wait for James.

We're now watching a special on The Easter 'Rising on PBS. This was proceeded by an affecting animated short from PBS's "Story Corps" called "John and Joe," the memories of a retired fireman whose two sons, one also a fireman and one a police detective, were lost on September 11. A little masterpiece.

Mazel Tov once again to Leigh and Robbie Hilliard!

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» Saturday, March 19, 2016
There And Back Again

Neither of us slept Thursday night. We propped James up on about six pillows. He tried to sleep in the armchair. He did doze off about 5:30, but it was fitful and he was already awake when the alarm went off at 8:30. Meanwhile, I had another delightful fever spike, which are characterized not only with broiling temps but with feet hurting and burning so bad I can hardly walk. At one point I had them over the air conditioner vent to cool them off.

Well, the Sinex/saline/Breathe Right/pillow routine obviously wasn't going to work. We toyed with going to Gainesville and maybe finding a replacement plug, except we don't know what voltage it is. This probably would have taken about two hours and ended unsuccessfully. Alice and Ken even called us from Walmart in Cleveland to say they did have power supplies.

Screw it. We drove home, used the bathroom, grabbed the cord and a med James had forgotten, plus my cane chair, and drove back, a four-hour round trip, beating Friday rush hour traffic by a mere hour. We stopped by the Mt. Yonah Book Exchange on the way back. Found a Thurber book, a "Sisters in Time" mystery, a history book about Victorian writers, and the Paul Hamlyn picture appreciation book Horses Horses Horses Horses Horses, whose companion book Dogs Dogs Dogs Dogs Dogs I've owned since I was about ten years old. It has two photos of "Nautical," the subject of an old Disney short subject "The Horse With the Flying Tail."

Then we both took a nap until suppertime. James conked right out until the alarm went off, but I only slept about a half hour. Then we went out to supper with a big bunch of folks and sat with Alice and Ken at a place called Bigg Daddy's, which had a nice assortment of food. We all had wings, but the pork chops in applesauce looked really tempting. Then a nice evening in the common room. Some folks were coloring, some doing jigsaws, some on computer, some talking. We ended up the evening on a theological argument between Bill and Charles.

Today we were just thinking about getting up when the fire alarm went off. You never know how fast you can dress when you need to. The alarm went off, then went back on. I threw the tables and the camera in the back of James' chair and we were wheeling out when the alarm went back off again. Turned out a couple with a little kid were checking out and the kid pulled the fire alarm.

So everyone who was in the lobby ended up going to have breakfast, completely overwhelming the poor attendant who's used to everyone coming in dribs and drabs, so we pretty much ended up all having breakfast together. Later James and I went downtown and walked for a little while, bought Leigh and Robbie a wedding gift, some balsamic vinegars for ourselves, and our yearly candy from Hansel and Gretel, then drove out past the little lake and the park at Unicoi toward  Batesville, admiring the scenery and the burgeoning blossoms.

Came back to the hotel to find a nice crowd in the common room. Alice and Ken had Star Wars t-shirts they had bought at Walmart for $3/each. Nancy and Shari were over working on a puzzle and I stood talking with them (and later Caran) about books. Country Inns also has a bookcase with books for their patrons to read and return, and I found one called Script & Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting (actually, they had two copies!) which I read during the afternoon as well. Pretty cool, although I could have done without the chapter on graphologists.

For supper we went with Alice and Ken to a barbecue place right on the river (I went down to the water's edge and took pictures). They had a small menu, but it was all very good: pulled barbecue pork with small sides and garlic bread. As he was getting into the picnic bench seat, James' heel slipped under him and he ended up on his back. Although he told the waitress "nothing's hurt but my pride," she brought us a big serving of ribs on the house! We shared with Alice and Ken and are bringing the rest of it home. Excellent!

On the way back to the car we saw a woman passed out in the street. Someone had already called 911. They had a blanket over her as we were leaving. Hope everything's okay.

Hanging out in the common room till bedtime. A most spectacular sunset just out the windows of the room earlier. I ran for my camera to take photos. You can never take proper photos of sunset; they just don't show up well.

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» Thursday, March 17, 2016
Shod Once More

I am wearing socks again.

Not to mention shoes.

This is a personal victory, because until Wednesday I was unable to do the former, and till this morning, the latter. I ended up teleworking Monday through Wednesday but could only stand socks about seven hours before my ankles and feet were swallowed in tremendous itching and I had to shower or at least rinse them off. I tried the lotion again and it was similarly ineffective. However, Id did work through all three days without having to collapse in exhaustion at noon, although I did take naps at lunch, and, at least once, till James came home.

We are away for a long weekend and I hope with ten more doses of doxycycline in my system I will be able to put in an appearance at the workplace on Monday. (I sure hope my car starts. It hasn't been started for a week.) My ankles are still swollen and my feet still hurt, but I still need the shoe inserts. Hopefully by next weekend I will feel well enough to hike across the mall to Footlocker. Or maybe I should order them from Amazon. Dunno. The doctor still never told me if I was supposed to get full inserts or the 3/4.

I didn't sleep well last night—I know I spiked a fever because I had chills when I got into bed and then later woke up feeling like Daniel in the fiery furnace. And my hands are swollen so they feel like sausages when I make a fist and still hurt: feel bruised and lumpy and have sore spots, and that kept waking me up. Luckily we had packed when we were putting the laundry up on Tuesday and only had to figure out how to get Snowy's cage into a big garbage bag for the trip to the vet. Mr. Vampire Budgie rode in high style in his carry box in my left arm and Nature Boy, whining because I wouldn't roll down the passenger side window, rode perched on my right thigh all the way to Dunwoody and the vet.

Then it was finally time to get something to eat (sandwiches and lemonade from Dunkin Donuts) and then the trip up to Helen in the North Georgia Mountains. Spring is definitely sprung while I have been cooped up inside looking like a measles case: all the Bradford pear trees are big white cottony balls, and the forsythia and the flowering plums and cherries and even some azalea peeping here and there, and jaunty daffodils bobbing their heads. It was a sunny, hot day, so I had to stay swathed in a shirt and my big-brimmed new hat from Costco since the doxycycline makes me even more sensitive to sun than usual.

We reached the hotel before anyone else and some supremely kind person had left the air conditioner on. So I took a nap for an hour.

Unfortunately we also discovered James had left the power cord to the C-PAP machine home. So we went to rustle him up something to clear his sinuses, but it's going to be rather a tough night, or rather weekend, since it's nearly a two hour drive home one way. It's not like the machine is working all that well these days anyway. He's supposed to arrange for a new sleep study, but Kaiser has partnered with a new sleep center and they are damn near impossible to reach. When I got to them two weeks ago, the man there said they had basically given him a job that used to be done by six separate people, but we would get a call back in a week to arrange an appointment in May. Guess who never called back. Needless to say, these folks are already on my Naughty List.

Had dinner at Paul's. Wasn't that impressed by the food, but the company was great. Several people had all-you-can-eat crab. It looked so good, but I would have only wanted a little. Too much crab bothers me and I can't predict  how it would react with the doxycycline. The last time I ate crab in Helen I ended up with hives, but that was right after my surgery.

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» Sunday, March 13, 2016
Four Walls, No Waiting

Not much to say about my thrilling weekend. I tossed, turned and itched on Friday night, saw James off to his meeting Saturday, read a little, and then ended up, again, on the futon asleep most of the afternoon.

There was a minor kerfluffle after he left: my feet were taking a turn at not being swollen, so I tottered down to the end of the street with Tucker. As we rounded the corner to turn back, two big dogs burst out of the bushes next to the retaining pond. One looked like a pug on steroids, and the other, the same size, was an adolescent German Shepherd, mostly black. Neither had collars, and they gave the impression of just having escaped a yard and out for an adventure. The Shep tried to get Tucker to play, while Tucker had a little more relieving himself in mind. Once I ascertained the dogs weren't aggressive, I led them back up the street and then ran in the house to call animal control, as they kept heading for the  head of the street. People drive too fast out there and I didn't want either to get hurt. The guy next door tried to help me look for whoever owned them, and finally my feet were starting to swell and itch again, so when the dogs disappeared into the yard across the street, I let them. Animal Control didn't show up until an hour after that.

We had pizza for Saturday supper. By the time bedtime arrived I was feverish and had chills so bad my teeth were chattering. I finally asked James if he could cuddle closer to me just to give me some body heat, even though I was under the comforter and a fleece. My temperature wavered between 100.6 and 101.5 all day, my hands and feet so swollen I could hardly move either and it was difficult to walk or even pick up a glass. I spent another afternoon on the futon, my elbows painful no matter which way I turned.

However, in more hopeful news the rash is fading. I still itch abominably but I don't look as if I have burns all over my body anymore. The spiking fever is a puzzle, though, and I keep wondering just how I got the damn disease without having any warning signs.

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» Friday, March 11, 2016
A Lemon of a Lyme
Well, this isn't exactly the most pleasant experience of my life.

Apparently I have completely blocked the itching portion of my sixth-grade bout with chickenpox from my mind completely, because I have never been so itchy in my life. I have a big, red, blotchy rash that runs from my arches all the way up to my wrists. It has not, thank God, gotten to my face (although that is occasionally itchy) or on the skin under my breasts, but it's everywhere else. Areas flare up out of nowhere and burn like fire or thousands of tiny needles pricking at once. I had to race in the bathroom at least once tonight to douse my feet in cold water before they spontaneously combusted (or at least that's how it feels). I wake up in the middle of the night rubbing one heel over my instep in a frantic bid to stop that itch, and stop at corners to rub myself like a bear.

It's my second day on doxycycline and I can't wait for it to kick in a little. Mostly I feel exhausted because the itching wakes me up during the night and the Lyme itself makes my joints ache. (It doesn't help that "spring has sprung" and the pollen is up, which gives me joint aches on its own.) This morning I was stir-crazy, so dressed in an unorthodox outfit of my dog-walking pants (cheap scrubs) and a long-sleeved dress shirt of James' that he had to discard due to a big ink-blot on the pocket. My usual white socks alone took my breath away because they made me feel like I had beach sand between my toes. I went to the Friends of the Library Book Sale and was done in in ninety minutes. Pickings were slim: I got Victoria Thompson's newest "gaslight mystery" which I would have bought in December in paperback, a Dorothy Sayers biography and another for E.B. White, and three dust-coverless "Happy Hollister" books. That's the least that I've ever come out of there with; the pickings were slim. I was happy to see someone picked up the brand-new copy of Karal Ann Marling's Merry Christmas! (a history of the holiday) because I couldn't think of one person I could buy it for. Plus I was amused when a complete collection of Theodore Roethke poems fell right open when I picked it up to my favorite Roethke poem, "I Knew a Woman." Evidently the book saw me coming.

Came home to take my next dose and pretty much collapse on the futon in the spare room for the rest of the afternoon, all the way from 11:30 to 4:30. It's like I can't drink up enough sleep.

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» Thursday, March 10, 2016
Diagnosis At Last!
The e-mail came through last night.

I have Lyme Disease of all things. And I thought the doctor was a bit strange ordering the test! I mean, I'm not exactly Nature Girl here. I dream of going walking in the woods, but there aren't any suitable close by. My walks consist of pounding the pavement thrice daily with "Mr. Sniff," who must stop to christen each tall blade of grass, check the sewer openings for hiding cats, and bark at things out of place. It's concrete and lawn all the way. We've been in the back yard only twice this year, both times when it was pretty chilly, but evidently something managed to leap out of the landscape at me.

I never saw a tick, nor the characteristic "bullseye rash" that is supposed to be a dead Lyme giveaway.

Dang, if I thought chickenpox was itchy... I don't remember the soles of my feet itching and burning so much with chickenpox!

I feel completely wiped out, which is also on the Lyme checklist, but no fever, and apparently that is also common. So I'm on doxycycline for a month. I can't wait until the antibiotic starts kicking in.



» Tuesday, March 08, 2016
Like an Egyptian
Seriously. It's like the seven plagues around here.

My original blogging plan, after having covered the wonderful "swollen hands" and "aching feet" episodes, was to go back and talk about Anachrocon. However, the weekend tossed another big, wonderful spanner in the works.

Saturday wasn't so bad. I took the last of the steroids with breakfast, and then we headed out on errands: took James' kilt and shirt to the cleaner so he could have it for Leigh and Robbie's wedding, then went to the Container Store so he could pick up some new lunch containers. We also found compression socks that didn't cost a fortune, so have tried out a pair. Stopped in the Barnes & Noble two doors down for a while, then shopped at Trader Joe's on Roswell Road as well.

Later we grabbed a burger and went to "the Hungry Ear" coffeehouse at the Unitarian Church on Northside Drive. Louis Robinson was singing there along with Pat Walsh and Jimmy Galloway. Louis sang two of his own songs as well as a couple of "covers," including a funny song we'd never heard, "Sister Josephine." Pat Walsh played ukelele; his songs are sort of stream-of-consciousness memories. One he sang about "Blackberry Picking" conjured up visions of Jeff and Porky and Lassie. Jimmy Galloway did some bluegrassy type stuff, what James called "pickin,'" and good pickin' it was, too. He sang one song that had lyrics about "when we were kids we didn't know how good we had it," and it made me cry.

When we got home the final Mythbusters was on, so James sat down to watch that, and the reunion show, which I dozed off during, and finally woke up to find it was almost 2 a.m.! Despite not going to bed until three, I simply could not sleep Sunday morning, and crawled out of bed about nine, was at Kroger at 9:30 and Publix at 10:30, came home, put up the groceries, walked the dog, and then fell asleep on the futon until about one o'clock.

As I was waking up on the futon I noticed my upper right arm was itchy. I scratched it absently. Then had to scratch it again. When I checked it out in the bathroom mirror, I had a big rash all over the back part of my arm exactly where I had had the shingles vaccine shot. Huh.

Anyway, they had something called the Atlanta Comics Expo Show or something like that out at North DeKalb Mall this weekend. We figured we'd go Sunday afternoon, just to have something to do. I'm almost sorry now that we did; talk about "You can't go home again." This was one of our haunts back when it was called Market Square. The Aviarium used to be there; they had the budgie breeding boxes in the windows and you could just watch them live their little birdie lives. We adopted Merlin there, and Bandit, and they were so tame from the first, I think from the fact that they heard human voices from the other side of the display window from when they were hatched, so they weren't afraid. There was a Woolco there as well; that's where our Christmas tree star came from, I believe. And there was a Cole's books. I couldn't even identify where they used to be although the shape of the mall has stayed basically the same. I remember when they built PharMor on one of the ends—still have some Christmas ornaments from PharMor (the little glass bells and glass French horns in different colors)—and when PharMor closed they put a Lechmere there. I still have the typewriter I bought from Lechmere in the closet. Don't know if they even make ribbons for it anymore!

Anyway, the whole place was very sad and gloomy, and the poor people roasting from being set up under the skylights. The "Expo" was chiefly comic artists and small press people publicizing their work--a little too much totalitarian dystopia and supernatural for my tasteplus people selling comics and Pokemon items. We were impressed by a couple of artists working on a project called "Tuskegee Heirs." James said he wished they'd had something published rather than just concept art. They had a gorgeous drawing of an African-American young woman in a military uniform that someone had sent to them as concept art. Real love for the character in the whole picture, although just in black and white. I would have loved to have read something about her!

We came home by the way of Buckhead and the Barnes & Noble there, where I picked up The Eterna Files (a gaslamp fantasy) and a book about a family touring the world by bike for a year.

Anyway, was perturbed to arrive home and discover that the rash on my arm was now spread to the right side of my back and that my feet, which were hurting again when I woke up, were also itchy and swollen, and my wristbones were itchy and painful again. This meant, exasperatingly, that I had to stay home yet again Monday (God bless telework) and call Kaiser and get yet another appointment, with a strange doctor since my own was on vacation. The rash was spread even more by the time I got there, and the doctor was simply flummoxed. I guess I got too used to Dr. Simone, who never met a rash he didn't know, immediately proclaiming "Linda's got the squeezles!" (He was trying to make me laugh; I was seven and it was summer vacation—what a time to get the measles) or Dr. Sarni, who was always just as certain: "Yes, she has the chicken pox."

So I am back on steroids again, plus have a specially mixed cream for the rash—now pretty much spread over my whole body except on my head and neck and hands (but my hands still itch like the dickens)—and a Benadryl clone to take at night since the itching keeps me awake. Today I had two showers during the day just to take away the itch (I also got some oatmeal soap) and am already burning with itch again.

What do I have? "A reaction to something." Seriously. That's what the doctor said. "A reaction to something." They took four vials of blood and the only test that's come back so far is one that says I have an inflammation somewhere. Not where it is or why I have it, just that I do have it.

When the locusts start showing up I'm getting the hell out of here...

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» Wednesday, March 02, 2016
...When You're Making Other Plans
When last we met, I was limping around like a horse with laminitis with sore feet and had sore elbows. Well, as that turned out, it got interesting (in the sense of "May you live in interesting times").

When I got up Monday morning (the 22nd), I was in a pretty pickle: I could barely walk. I took four ibuprofin and went back to bed, but it never helped. Instead of taking Tucker for a walk, I put him on the long lead out front. Surprisingly, after he realized I wasn't going to walk him, he remembered the sporadic clicker training: one click meant "go potty," and he did. (And for the next two days he did, including in the rain.) Then I logged onto work from home, fruitlessly trying to reach Kaiser since it was now after ten, and ended up leaving them a message. Their message says they will call back, which they didn't, but then Mondays are chaos at Kaiser. I didn't wait on Tuesday morning; I called them again. Nurse said: Elevate your feet as much as possible. Keep off your feet as much as possible. Use ice if it helps. A footbath (except we have no container for one). All this and I worked, too. One day James teleworked because of the chance of rain and I used his power chair to walk Tucker. He'd been putting up with the front yard with good grace and I figured he deserved it.

In the meantime, something weird was going on with my arms—and my hands. When these little bumps started popping up here and there on my hands, I thought a mosquito or a no-see-'um of some type had gotten in the house (when I spotted a mosquito in the house one night that seemed to confirm it). The first that popped up was on my right palm, on the ball under my index finger; I usually get temporary painful pressure spots there (from opening doors, lifting milk jugs, etc.) and this didn't worry me too much. But when more came up I even vacuumed out the sofa and cleaned out the laptop in case some rat of a bug had made a nest inside. I was so preoccupied with my feet and work that I didn't twig until late Thursday that none of these welts itched. Bug bites always itch and there's usually a tiny spot where you can see where you've been bitten. Plus, when you don't scratch them, they go away, but these weren't going anywhere—and I was only breaking out on my hands (and later, as I discovered over the weekend, in little hard nodules under the skin of my forearms, in a line down to my elbows). But what were they? I kept stuffing ibuprofin and Tylenol and naproxen in me (not all at the same time, natch), and not a whit of good did it do.

The foot pain eased by Friday, which was good because it was Anachrocon weekend. This would be easy on my feet because you just go back and forth on the small corridor between the meeting rooms to sit in panels every hour. As for my hands, I was starting to suspect it might had something to do with carpal tunnel combined with the old elbow pain that started when we had to pack up all those contract files for the move from Buckhead to University Park. I'd done a bunch of searching online and I couldn't find anything else that made sense; mostly the searches kept coming back pointing to arthritis and bursitis. Well, I wouldn't be typing all weekend except for Anachrocon blog reports; that would probably help.

Nope. Every day each hand became more swollen and new welts broke out. My wrist bones were starting to resemble pearl onions and my knuckles started disappearing one by one. The nadir came Sunday morning at the buffet, when I noticed two more welts breaking out on my right-hand fingers and that I could barely slice the French toast. All the knuckles on my right hand vanished.

Monday morning I was on the phone to Kaiser before they opened and I still had to wait until 8:10 for the nurse. My hands were a big hot, swollen mess. I got a 11:20 appointment and then went back to bed until the last minute. I fumbled the dog's leash, had to use a piece of cloth to start the car because turning the key made me want to scream, and drove with about three fingers. There was an hour wait to see the doctor once I got in the appointment room and I kept running my hands under the cold water in the office sink because they burned so much.

The first thing Dr. Mobley asked when he saw my fists was if I had done work in the yard that weekend. I didn't blame him. They did look like I was Cousin Charley in Little House in the Big Woods, the one who had tangled with the occupants of a "bee tree." The doctor wasn't sure what it was, but he agreed with me that there was no way I could have been bitten by an insect so thoroughly and never seen it, and it would have to itch. So he sent me downstairs for a blood test (where the occupants of the waiting room were surprised when at least a dozen people rushed downstairs to tend a woman who was having chest and stomach pains) and then I went back upstairs to wait.

Well, the blood test was inconclusive, but the doctor had done some more research: he was pretty sure I was one of those rare souls who had a thousand-in-one reaction to...wait for it...the shingles vaccine I'd asked for. So, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it was off on steroids I go, just a week's worth, but three to start! He also changed my thyroid dosage and I bought some hydrocortisone cream for the burn (which didn't work). So I got home, ate enough to cushion the three steroids, and then lay down until James got home, about three hours. Before I lay down, I took my temperature: despite the doctor saying my white count wasn't high, I clocked in at 99.6. By the time James arrived home, it was 101.2, so I took three ibuprofin, drank some juice over ice, and iced my hands. It worked. By the time bedtime arrived I was in the high 98s again.

Yesterday I ate stuff I don't remember to scarf more steroids. Knuckles started popping out again, and the palms turned bruised for about an afternoon. Today I worked seven hours, although I tried to keep the typing at a minimum. There are still awful purply bumps on my hands, my wrist bones still look funny, and my hands look more like I'm 70 than 60s, the veins all ropy. Sharp little jabs and prickles go along the tendons and around my wrists when I type, especially my left thumb. Wondering if the vaccine has awakened dormant rheumatoid arthritis, which my mother had, and her mother had.

Ironically my feet have pretty much stop hurting at the bottom. They still itch around the edges, though, prickling just like my hands.