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  • Sense of Self

    The first week of September, my right eye started to water. I was annoyed, but didn't think too much about it. It's not like it's uncommon, having happened at some point every year for the last several. But it usually goes away, and it doesn't usually get as bad as it did this year.

    As of writing this, I've had four consecutive good days, which probably seems like nothing, but feels like everything. Until now, I haven't had more than two good days. 

    I know. You're talking about a watery eye, sheesh, quit your whining. But here's the thing - let's say your wrist hurts. You can ice it, sit down, watch tv, probably read books, and do things to rest it. Same with your leg. Any time something goes wrong with the body, it is a real nuisance, but when it's your eye, it affects everything! My reading has gone way down over the last five months, because it's a pain to have to stop, remove glasses, wipe eye, replace glasses, pick back up book, every few pages. If nothing else, it breaks the immersion and therefore, the enjoyment. It's not the end of the world, but it does suck! 

    Towards the end of November, my patience with the whole ordeal started going downhill, enough so that I started chasing down doctors. I was desperate to get an actual plugged tear duct diagnosis, since it usually gets handwaived as general conjunctivitis. I got my diagnosis, and I got antibiotics. It helped for several days - it didn't make the watering go away, but it got rid of the mucus, or eye gunk. But then, that started coming back, and it started watering more frequently. I'd say in September, I would wipe my eye every couple hours. By Christmas, it was multiple times an hour for the most part. That's the kind of thing that starts to feel really disruptive and draining.

    I'd been told by the eye doctor that if the antibiotics didn't work, they'd need to probe and irrigate me. Since that didn't sound fun, I put it off for as long as possible, but finally caved and called the eye doctor back. Only, they didn't send me straight to the helpful doctor, they wanted me to come back into the regular office. There, they performed a test that concluded that my duct was plugged. (Well gee, you think?) Then they agreed to send me to the other place for the procedure...in another 10 days. 

    I was at the point where nothing had worked, I finally had people agreeing with me on what the problem was, but I couldn't do anything but wait. If I had a dollar for every time a doctor asked if I'd been massaging it and using warm compresses, I probably could have covered my copays. I'd have to make Matt wait on me while I paused games to wipe my eye because you can't kill baddies very effectively with your eye gunky and dripping. For such a little problem, it was affecting everything. When something is affecting everything like that, it becomes a pain in the butt, or maybe just not worth it, to do things. I didn't really want to watch tv or movies, because I couldn't concentrate. I didn't want to go out really, because the cold and wind just made it worse, and I felt like wiping my eye constantly in public was just asking for fifteen thousand germs. 

    I'll be honest. The whole ordeal really hit my sense of self. I did the bare minimum to keep life running, but the things that made me feel like me didn't happen. I didn't read, or write, or do art, or play games, or any of that. Makeup wasn't worth it, so then playing with my hair wasn't worth it, so then, well, maybe I'll put on a clean shirt eventually.

    So, last week, I went to have my probe and irrigation done. The long and short of that is that they stick a probe (or two) into your tear ducts and fish around for a bit. Then they squirt a bunch of saline into your duct to flush it out. 

    Yes, I was awake the whole time. They made me keep my eye open too, which was uncomfortable. I can't say as I'm real good with the whole "stuff in or near my eye" bit. They did give me numbing drops, so my eyeball proper didn't feel anything, but my duct was completely plugged, so I really don't think it numbed much of anything in there. Best I can describe it is "pinchy" feeling. At one point I felt a POP next to my nose, and my immediate thought was "Holy cow he just punctured my nose".

    The doctor didn't seem overly optimistic about how it went, since when they injected me with saline, the majority of it came back out and went all over me instead of running down the back of my throat like it was supposed to. He said to give it two weeks and if it didn't work, the next step would be surgery.

    My eye was kind of okay that day, but by the next day, it was back to being watery and gunky. That night I finally snapped and just sobbed. I just couldn't do it anymore. I didn't want to fork over the money for surgery (hello high deductible!), but I couldn't do this either. I felt broken and awful and crappy and nothing was working, and it's not like a this happens to very many people, so it's not like anyone actually understands how stupid and crappy it is. 
    I noticed while I was crying that excess tears were only running down the left half of my throat, meaning nothing was coming down that right duct. By that point, I was so well and duly cried out that I was more amused than anything. 

    The following night, I was sitting on the couch, massaging my tear duct, as usual. I poked around a little higher up than usual, because why not? I felt some pressure, so I kept rubbing it, and then there was a POP at that spot near my nose again. THAT was odd. Then stuff started running down the back of my throat and continued for a minute or a little more. I was just sitting on the couch all nonchallantly, but I was thinking, "WHAT JUST HAPPENED?" 

    Can't say as I have any good pictures. Mom sent me a video of some guy's tear duct exploding, and this was nothing so dramatic. Clearly, I did something with that massaging, because my eye hasn't been watery since. I'm very very thankful, because the more time passes and I haven't become a watery mess, the better I feel about it. But I've also realized that my calibration for how watery my eyes should be is now way off. If my eyes water at all, I start to panic a little. I also rub at my eye out of reflex, it seems. Well, nothing else to do with my hand, might as well rub the imaginary water away. Lastly, I massage it just a little bit a couple times a day, almost superstitiously. Maybe it'll keep it clear if I just keep massaging it. Maybe it does nothing. Maybe it's Maybelline. 

    So, all that to say, blocked tear ducts are awfully annoying and I don't wish them on anyone. I don't doubt that this isn't ordeal isn't over for good, and I'll be dealing with it again down the road. But at least for now, I get a breather. If it stays good for a couple of years before I have to try antibiotics and irrigation again, I'll be pretty happy. I feel like surgery for it is inevitable, honestly. Maybe it's not, but that's how I feel at the moment. Of course, I'm also still wiping imaginary tears, so the whole thing is still too fresh for me to be objective. 

  • 100% Orange Juice

    100% Orange Juice is a cute manga game that I don't remember buying. I think Matt might have bought it for me. It was definitely a steam sale purchase, and the more I think about it, I think there's a co-op feature that we thought we could take advantage of if the game was any good.

    The first thing to know about this game is that there's very little in the way of explanation. You pick a character and a difficulty, and then it dumps you onto this deck building screen. The numbers there indicate how many of that card you can select, and you fill up your deck. There's some traps, boosts, and other ways to mess with other characters. Theoretically cool.

    Once you pick your deck, you're thrown onto a game board. Here's where it reminds me a lot of the mario party games. You either roll dice to move, or you select one of your cards to play. The different colored squares trigger different things like battles, bonuses, or movement. Granted, I set the game speed to "fast", but the game moves SO FAST that there's not a lot of time to figure out what's going on. 

    The other game mechanic is battle. Sometimes you battle random things found on the board, or you can battle each other. Here you can possibly play a card from your deck, or you roll dice to attack/defend. If you look at the picture above, you don't have a whole lotta hit points. I played long enough for a couple characters to get knocked up, but they seemed to be able to roll to stand up again. 

    I gave the game a good twenty minutes of this frantic paced, confusing board game. By the end, I'd played fifteen or so "chapters" (a turn), and I didn't really have a better grasp of the game than when I started as far as objectives went. 

    I'm not sure if the game is fairly easy mechanics-wise, or if there was just a lot that I was missing. I didn't love it. As soon as I'd collected screen shots and enough information to form my opinion, I closed the game and uninstalled it. 

    But at least I now know what it is. 

  • The Steam Project

    I recently replaced my desktop after almost nine years. It was overdue. I mean, it still worked, but I'd turn it on and then go do something for the next ten to fifteen minutes. By then, maybe it would be done loading. Then I'd click on the browser, and if I hadn't waited long enough, I'd have another couple minutes of waiting for that to load. Once it got up to speed, it worked pretty well, as long as you weren't trying to play a game that came out in the last few years. 

    While we got most of my files transferred to the new machine, my steam games didn't quite make it. But, that provides me with a nice little opportunity. If you have steam, you're aware of the joke about steam sales, and how we all buy more games than we can possibly play, and don't quite remember why we bought half of these .99 games. 

    So with this clean slate, I figured I'd install a game, play it, and then tell you about it. It's two birds with one stone - you get to see me fumble through my steam list, and I get to play some games. Win/Win.

  • Mystery Box

    I love how true this picture is to the cats' personalities. 

    Vizzi is curious but also terrified. WHAT is he doing? What if there's something scary in the box? 

    Cuppie is right there and she is ready for it. Also, she's hogging the cardboard box because of course she is. 

    (The answer, by the way, was an endtable for Matt. Not scary at all, Viz)

  • Cupdorable

    I adore this weird little fluffball. 

    She is a helper cat. By which I mean, she is an almost constant hindrance to anything out of the ordinary. (And many daily things as well) If it's of any interest to you, she's SUPER CURIOUS. 

    So when I broke out a paper cutter last week, she was ALL over that. And the paper. And the frames. And me. Eventually I gave up and would hand her a scrap of paper as soon as I cut it. She'd grab it, bite it, then wait for the next one. 

    There are plenty of things that she makes take twice as long. But look at her. She doesn't mean to cause trouble, and I wish that I thought everything is as exciting as she does. 

  • Pain in the Eye

    Didn't we clean up pretty well for the Arbonne Christmas party? :)

    I made that necklace probably six or seven years ago. Offhand, i can't think of any other necklaces of mine that are still around. (That I made, I mean) 

    So, I think it was my senior year of high school, my tear duct started acting up. Since then, it's been almost a yearly occurance. There were several years where I just let it go, and eventually it went away. I got tired of this approach a few years ago, so I brought it up to my doctor, who said pink eye. The next year, I didn't want to go back to the doctor, so I just went to the urgent care, who gave me drops for, you guessed it, pink eye. 

    This year, my eye started watering a bit in early September, and has been a leaky faucet ever since. I started using myself as something of a guinea pig - trying to figure out what might be causing it. It didn't matter whether I wore makeup or not (though you might as well not if you're just going to weep it off anyway), took allergy meds, or ... whatever else I tried. Point is, I couldn't really come up with a cause or a cure. So I gave in and made a doctor appointment. 

    This time, the doctor agreed that it was a clogged tear duct. Unfortunately, they couldn't really do anything, so they sent me to the eye doctor. The eye doctor also agreed that it was a plugged tear duct (TWO IN ONE DAY!) and gave me oral antibiotics. 

    Well, it's gotten better in that I no longer have white discharge from my eye, so it's no longer infected. Now I just weep 'normal' tears from that eye. I'm so bummed. I could cry, but hey, my eye will just do that for me. 

    Yes, warm compresses. Yes, I've massaged it. 

    If I go back to the eye doctor, I have a sneaky suspicion (thanks, google!) that the next step will be some sort of probe or flushing of the duct. My tear duct. Right by my eye. Just thinking about it makes me squeamish. I'm not relishing that idea, but I'm hoping that there's some sort of sedation involved, and at this point, if I have to do it, I'll do it, because I'm just THAT sick of this.

    I keep threatening to just poke my eye out, but it's an empty threat, because I never would, and also, it wouldn't fix the tear duct.

    Anyway, I have friends that rant and rave about essential oils and how amazing they are. A very nice friend of mine gave me a blend to try rubbing on my nose and under my eye, but not in it. (I feel obligated to clarify this, since you're not supposed to put them in your eye.) I figure worst case scenario, it does nothing and I end up at the doctor anyway. But on the chance that it does encourage my duct to move along whatever's clogging it - hey, why not? 

    ---

    It's annoying to have something that's SO uncommon (in adults, anyway). Sometimes it's nice to have people at least wince and say, "Oh man, I know how annoying that is." But no. I could buy a few pizzas with the amount of people who've said, "Oh, my child had that. I just put a warm washcloth on it and it went away." 

    I also miss wearing makeup. I don't always wear makeup, but to me, it's fun. It's like my face is a canvas that I get to paint on. 

    But what I really miss is seeing clearly and not having headaches. It's not that my vision is fuzzy, but a watery eye isn't the clearest experience. And I think my other eye is tired of having to do all the work, hence the headaches. It's really putting a damper on my book reading.

    It's not the end of the world. Don't get me wrong. There are a LOT worse things to have. But I want to acknowledge that this is a really annoying problem. 

  • If you can't beat em, share em

    This isn't the most extraordinary picture. But it's a lot easier to picture what I'm talking about with it.

    I'm sure I mentioned somewhere that last year Gwen (the calico) started snuggling on me at night. That was a surprise, given how standoffish she is. I still don't know if she stopped snuggling because it got too warm for her, or because she wasn't feeling good due to her thyroid. Getting her thyroid in the right place seems to have taken place around the same time two years in a row. 

    This summer, Aeris decided that she wanted to snuggle on me. That one also surprised me, given the fact that we've had her for 11 years, and she's never been inclined to sleep on me before. Maybe she got the idea from Gwen.

    Anyway, Gwen recently decided that she wanted to resume our snuggle arrangement, only to find that Aeris was on her human. RUDE. 

    So I am currently the subject of some sort of cat terf war. They've reached an uneasy agreement where Aeris is allowed to have me from the waist down (though she's strongly encouraged to stay below my knee), and Gwen gets my torso. 

    At some point last night (I was asleep) Gwen left, and Aeris moved up. When Gwen returned (and what I woke up to), she was upset that Aeris was in perceived violation of their agreement. 

    Gwen and Aeris aren't particularly chummy with each other. They don't go out of their way to be aggressive to one another, but Gwen would really prefer if Aeris kept a good 5ft away at all times. So this weird nightly arrangement is possibly the most time they've spent in close proximity. 

    Meanwhile, Matt has an entire side of the bed to himself. Joke's on him, Gwen makes an excellent scarf. 

  • A Feast

    If you have an Audible subscription, every month they let you choose two free titles from a handful of their Audible Originals. One of the titles I picked this month was "Twain's Feast" - they took a list of food that Mark Twain wanted at a feast of his, foods that he missed when he traveled, and broke down what those foods would have meant to him, and what they looked like culturally. 

    It's also narrated in part by Nick Offerman, which didn't hurt. He's got a voice that I would be okay with narrating a phone book. 

    If you have the change to listen to Twain's Feast, I do recommend it. Even as someone who isn't obsessed with Mark Twain, I thought the whole thing was really interesting, and is the jumping point for the rest of this post.

    Last time Matt and I went up to New York, we picked up a couple loaves of Felix Roma bread. I hadn't had it in a really long time, but all I remembered was that it was very good italian bread. Later, when Matt said that he wanted to drive back up to NY for more bread, I felt vindicated. It wasn't just my memory that made the bread good, it must be legitimately good!

    So between that and Twain's Feast, I got to thinking: What would my ultimate feast look like? What are foods that I not only like, but have some significance?

    I thought I'd start with foods that I associate with states I've lived in:

    Spiedies from New York
    Sopapillas from Colorado, and the long defunct El Matador restaurant
    Cheesesteaks and Gelatis from New Jersey, as well as a cheese pizza from Wing King in Maple Shade - I literally have dreams periodically about being in NJ and being able to get a pizza from there. Oh, and bread from DelBuono's bakery. Oh! And a carmine pizza from Bertucci's. It's not on the menu anymore, but it had carmelized onions and fresh mozzarella over a roasted tomato sauce. Fresh mozzarella is my jam. I wouldn't be upset if there was a soft pretzel there either. 

    Foods that I associate with people include:

    My Mom's Mac and Cheese with peaches. Yes, peaches. 
    Chocolate chip cookies using a recipe from my Aunt Sally, and Sugar cookies from my Grandma Judy's recipe.
    We'll make fruit salad from my great Aunt Margaret's recipe - it's fruit salad in the most flexible definition ... but delicious. 

    Just because I plain like them, there'd need to be mashed potatoescorned beef, and manicotti

    This is all just off the top of my head, so I'm sure there are things I've forgotten. But if I had the stomach for all of it, I would enjoy the living daylights out of this meal. 

    That being said, I was hungry when I started this, and now I'm even more hungry. So I'm going to go scrounge up some supper - I don't think it'll be nearly as good as anything on this list though. 

  • Not Much to Say

    Nothing groundbreaking going on. 

    The cats are all doing well at the moment. I went on a girls' trip this weekend and picked up some cat-safe bubbles. They've had some amusing reactions. Aeris likes to sit and stare at them from afar - Cuppie will laser focus and follow a few around, but she doesn't really like to touch them. Vizzi waits until they land and then will carefully slink up to one or two, then panic when it pops. 

    The weather is getting colder, as it does, but I'm never particularly thrilled. If I could live in a place that never really dropped below the low 50's for highs, I'd be happy. I've lived in the south long enough that the current highs in Michigan are horrifying. (Mid 30's and low 40's) If I start busting out the full winter coat when it's in the high 50's though, I'll need an intervention. 

    Matt and I are going up to Michigan for Thanksgiving - two birds, one stone. I'm sure his family will be happy to see us, and we'll be even happier to meet our new niece, Aryana. Other than that, I need to stay put for the winter. We've made at least one trip out of state every month since August, and I need to be done for a while.

    On the bright side, we now know that Aery has good company in the kittos. She hasn't had any of her super clingy meowy frantic behavior after any of our trips, and that's really impressive. It seems that she and Cuppie have bonded, and it's really adorable to see Aery have friends. 

    We've been moving some furniture around. We got a murphy bed this summer, so after sleeping on the floor for almost four years, we're finally high and dry. Despite initial speculation that the bed would never be folded up, we actually put it up 99% of the time. The cats love the extra room, and it makes things feel a lot more spacious. We also got a new tv stand this week, with a faux fireplace (but actual) heater in it. It's super swanky and makes everything feel very cozy. I moved the old tv stand into my office, and I've been chipping away at moving some of my Arbonne stuff into it. 
    Next up, I'd like to see us replace our couch and chair, but we haven't decided what configuration we want yet. Currently, we have a loveseat + chair. It'd be more practical to just have a full size couch, but I have to admit ... I kind of like having my own piece of furniture. I don't think we could fit a full sized couch and chair in the room. We'll see. No rush here, because the sooner we replace it, the sooner we have to play "no no, don't scratch that". 

    I've been keeping busy with friends, book clubs, DnD, spas, and a little bit of volunteering. It seems to come in spurts, where I have one super busy week, and then almost nothing the next. It's fine with me, because I'm content to crash on the off weeks. 

    I'll have to remember to take pictures of art stuff as I work on it. I haven't done a lot in that area, but I muddle through stuff here and there. That's partially why I'm looking forward to NOT traveling for a while - I'm in need of routine. 

    That's all for now. I'll try and check in soon with a more exciting update. :)

  • Dos anos

    Dos anos

    There aren't enough words for how much I miss this girl. It's been two years, and it feels both like a blip and a lifetime. 

  • Live From New York

    Okay, so where were we?

    We went up to Michigan in early August for my sister in law’s baby shower. Then my aunt died. Then Matt’s grandma died the same week. So then we made another trip to Michigan and a trip to New York.

    I got sick after we got home from NY and coughed up my lungs forever. I’ve been catching up on Book Club reads and doing Arbonne spas and otherwise life.

    As I write this (on my phone, not optimal), I’m in New York again because one of my cousins got married. I’m really glad that I got to come. Next month we’re going back up to Michigan to meet our niece and see Matt’s family. Then I’m going to try and stay put until spring.

    -

    So, Gwen is a good candidate for radiation. We want to get that done sooner than later - relatively. It’s fairly expensive, we have to block out a few days to drive multiple hours to and from the place, and then there’s the after care. I’ll talk about that more another time. Basically, we need at least 45 days to have things be a pain in the butt. 

    As of last month, we’d gotten a whole tenth of a pound on her. We tried a wet food that she really liked at first but then wanted to go back to her broth. But I FEEL like she’s gained weight since. But I don’t have a good way to weigh her at present.

    -

    Okay, yeah. We’ll put a pin in things here. Phone typing is not conducive to writing much. ❤️

  • Make it Stick

    So, we're trying to help Gwen gain some weight, or at least keep what little she has on, while we sort out her thyroid. It's not the easiest task, given that Gwen eats like a little bird, has no teeth, and is relatively picky.

    When we were trying to figure out what wet food she'd like after her teeth were removed, we went through so many different cat foods. I couldn't really find a theme like a flavor or meat texture. After a while, she seemed to enjoy licking things, but not so much the chewing. (Which makes her choice of kibble as her primary food ... odd.) The only constant was the fancy feast broth packets. Sometimes she'll eat some of the chunks of meat. Most of the time, she doesn't, and those chunks of meat get poached by two furballs who shall remain nameless.

    I wanted something more dense. A friend of mine recommended these delectables packets. The one Gwen is currently enjoying is a bisque with tuna and chicken. It's very soupy, with no discernable chunks of meat to work around. Plus, this one is formulated for cats over 10, so it has extra vitamins. So far, so good. Gwen hasn't turned it away yet, and she's eaten all of it each time. I'd love it if I could get her to eat -more-, but she seems to have very strong opinions on the subject. Trying to give her food - even beloved broth packets - is turned away. She'll take a few dry treats from me, but nothing substantial.

    I kinda wish I had a little produce scale to weigh Gwen on and track her progress, but I guess we'll have to wait until mid-September to find out whether it's done any good.

  • A girl has a cranky thyroid

    A girl has a cranky thyroid

    So, we had Gwen's thyroid check this week. I can't say the results were too surprising.

    Her thyroid is still too high, and she's lost more weight. Poor sass is down to 5.7lbs, which is very close, if not exactly, what she weighed when we adopted her. I can't stand how extra fragile she feels.

    We're officially on 3 clicks of medicine, 2x a day. I have to say, since increasing her dose, she seems to have come around pretty quickly. She's certainly more friendly and active, and *KNOCK ON WOOD* hasn't had any pee problems in 5 days.

    We asked our doctor about radiation, and she's looking into it for us. She confirmed what I suspected, that Gwen is likely a good candidate because of her lack of other health problems. Radiation would probably just be another nuisance on Gwen's list.

    At this point, she's basically a feline Arya Stark.

    Teeth.
    Thyroid.
    Aeris.
    People.
    Pate.
    Pills.

    So, we'll see. We're hanging in there for now. I'm looking into stuff that I can give to Gwen in order to help her gain back some of her weight, or at least slow it down until we get her stabilized.