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We Have a Diagnosis

July 18th, 2019 at 06:24 pm

Or rather, should I say, we have another diagnosis. DD has, as I have long suspected, fibromyalgia. The doctor wants to do further blood work for Sjogren's disease as well, something else we have suspected. The difference between this rheumatologist (mine) and the other one DD saw two years ago is night and day. She took the time to listen and did not dismiss my daughter's symptoms due to her young age. DD is really happy with this doctor. I figured she would be.

Even though we have hit our out of pocket max, the one test is so expensive that we still have to pay some of it like I do with my Embrel. It'll be $82 so not awful. It's just on a different tier. They tried to do the tests today but she is not hydrated enough. So we'll push Gatorade tomorrow and then go down and try again.

It is good to have an answer, but it is all just pieces of the puzzle and I don't think we have the last piece or two to finish it yet.

An ARGH Kind of Day

July 10th, 2019 at 09:18 pm

That stupid deer still managed to jump the fence and get into the garden. Is it wrong of me to keep thinking how good he would look in my freezer? He is an awfully big fellow. Along with his brother, that would provide a lot of meat for the family. No, I know I can't do that. Deer season isn't until November and you can't discharge a firearm within city limits. *sighs* I am only half joking. He ate all the Romenescu heads.

All these years and I have never had trouble with deer. This is just so frustrating. It is going to be a bad produce year nationwide. I am growing to get stuff in the freezer and canned, not to be an all you can eat buffet to the local critters. This is one of the problems with living near a several acre wooded park. This thing is costing me money and taking food out of my family's mouths.

Maybe we will just have to build cages for all of the raised beds. Well, not the onions. They aren't touching the onions. Or the zucchini, herbs, cucumbers, or tomatoes. Just the brassicas. I do worry about the corn and green beans when they get big enough to produce, though.

Went to the gastro doctor's office and saw the P.A. about DD's liver tumor. She hadn't even looked at the MRI results. I was miffed. She's going to get back to us by Friday after she talks to the radiologist and consults the doctor, which usually means Monday or Tuesday. I was very clear when I made the appointment what we needed to talk about. I am sick of waiting rooms, sick of medical personnel falling down on the job, and sick of my daughter being sick and no one being able to figure out the underlying cause of all this crap that is happening to her body. Pardon my language. I am very frustrated today.

Results for the MRI

June 27th, 2019 at 03:29 pm

DD has a 2.7 cm lesion on her liver. That slightly over an inch. It's round, too, so the inch is the diameter. The results of the MRI came back and it looks like a benign tumor, so now she has to go back to the G.I. and see if further imaging needs to be done and/or surgery might need to be performed. I don't know what further imagery they can do, I thought an MRI was the ultimate imaging, so that part confuses me. Maybe an ultrasound? I guess we will find out when the referral comes through.

I am really glad we have hit our out of pocket max for the year. This would be really expensive otherwise.

MRI for DD and Non-Toxic Garden Spray Recipe

June 27th, 2019 at 12:11 am

I spent an hour and a half in the waiting room while my daughter got an MRI today on that spot on her liver. I was hopped up on Dayquil and Sudafed. My eyes are bad tonight because I read almost the whole time, but what else are you going to do? They had no internet. They also had bad waiting room chairs, so my hip and back hurt. I hope whatever they find is treatable.

I made spaghetti in the Instant Pot with some of my frozen meatballs, because that was the extent of my abilities. That means there is only one bag left of those, so I need to make more when I feel able. I might end up doing a triple batch this time. I am thinking of ordering a 30 quart stainless steel bowl so I have one big enough to hold 12 pounds of ground meat, plus all the stuff I mix into it. The one I have holds 4 pounds of ground meat. The bowl costs $31, but I think it would be worth if for the ease of meal prep.

I noticed that there were black aphids on my zucchini and patty pan squash. I made up some garlic spray tonight that will be ready to use tomorrow. All you do is take 2 cups of warm water and crush up half a head of garlic and add 1 tbsp of dish soap (I use an organic, eco-friendly soap). Shake it up. Let that steep overnight, strain out the garlic and put the liquid into a spray bottle. Then you can spray that on the affected areas of the plant.

It is non-toxic to the plant and it really works well for aphids. Since I always use organic methods in the garden, this spray is my number one way of fighting these little beasties. You have to reapply it after you water or it rains until the aphids are dead. I've only used it on brassicas before. I've never had aphids on my squash until this year. I didn't even know aphids liked squash.

I read about another remedy, too, that I may try in the future. You prune a tomato branch and cut it up into little pieces and then steep it in water overnight with dish soap, strain, and use it the same way on non-tomato plants. It emits a natural pesticide. I'd never seen this one before, so thought it would be a cool one to try and see if it is as effective as the other one. I'll let you know the results if I make it.

Oh, and if anyone is curious, the reason for the dish soap is that it helps it adhere to the plant.

Got My X-rays Back

June 20th, 2019 at 11:20 pm

Well, I have degenerative hip disease in my left hip, but it isn't severe enough for surgery, so I guess that is good, even though it causes some discomfort. The right hip has no sign of disease which is really good news. The doctor thinks that the majority of my pain is coming from muscles, ligaments, and tendons, so we will proceed with physical therapy and hope that works. I have had physical therapy for other things, but never for my hip. I really hope it will help.

The one thing I am worried about is if there will be any treadmill work done. Every time I do any serious walking my legs and feet swell up so severely I feel like a sausage about to blow its casing. And you can visibly note lumps of swelling on my shins. It is painful and can take days to go down. This is because with the RA I am prone towards inflammation. I am kind of hoping they will end up having me do pool therapy as it is so much easier on my joints.

I made an awesome meatloaf for dinner yesterday. I finally made a version that my son liked. He has always been very meh on meatloaf. I also made two extra for the freezer. Bit by bit I am increasing the levels in my freezer bank. I have used one bag of the frozen meatballs the other night when I really wanted to just grab take out and it was so worth it because they are really great tasting.

The meatloaf was basically the same recipe as the meatballs, only with tomato sauce powder, an additional type of cheese, and covered in bacon. Tasted different enough for it to not feel like the same food at all, but as simple to make as the other.

I did not get anything done today. I had a cruddy night of sleep, the kind where you sleep, but don't feel rested at all and then I woke up with a lot of pain in my hip. Actually, that's probably why my sleep was not restful. So other than harvesting some lettuce for dinner, I wasted most of my day on youtube.

Oh, and I did upload a garden update to my youtube channel in the early a.m. FireandI, you might be interested.

Text is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OEp4HewfNk&t=4s and Link is
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OEp4HewfNk&t=4s The garden is starting to make some serious progress.

Huge Batch of Meatballs

June 10th, 2019 at 01:50 am

I am kind of up and down with how I am feeling. I am still really tired and kind of light-headed, low grade fever, but I have some energy. Today I used that energy to make 70 meatballs. We eat 14 meatballs per meal as a family, the guys eat 4 each and the girls eat 3 each with pasta as that is what our hunger levels say to eat. So 70 meatballs is 5 meals' worth. I used one meal's worth for dinner tonight, making Rotini in the Instant Pot.

I individually froze the meatballs so they wouldn't stick together and then vacuum sealed them into meal-sized portions with my Food Saver. This will prevent freezer burn and they will last a lot longer than what is typical. Although, we will likely use them long before that.

Tomorrow I have to work on getting all the chicken cut up and seasoned and frozen and then chop the onions for the ones that will become chicken shawarma as well. I have bags of onions and bell peppers in the freezer already for the ones that will become fajitas.

Then I will pick up some more chicken on this sale and can it. It will be fast and easy because I am using the raw pack method and it is just putting boneless, skinless thighs into jars and pressure canning it. It makes its own broth. You can do it with broth, too, if you are using the hot pack method, but I usually don't because it adds extra time to an already long process. Actually I might can first, since the chicken I pick up from the store might be partially frozen like last time and what is now in the fridge is fully thawed.

One more day and the chiropractor is back from yet another vacation. My hip is so out of place it isn't funny. It'll probably take 3 to 4 weeks for me to recover from his stupid jaunt. It usually does. I really need to get an MRI on this hip. I have been putting it off, but we finally hit our family out of pocket max, so if I am going to do it, now is the time.

This, That, and the Other Thing

May 1st, 2019 at 03:19 pm

I spent some time working out the May budget today. May is a three paycheck month for us, so I had to sort out how much extra there is going to be and where it goes. We have licensing tabs coming due on both vehicles one on May 25th and one on June 4th, so both of those have to come out of the May budget.

I hate that both vehicles come due at the same time. If we had bought the truck instead of inheriting it, I'd have made sure we purchased it at least two months off. I know I could plan for this better, but I always forget to, knowing we can absorb the costs. It just means that there won't be any money to the Holiday Fund or the Laptop Fund this month. That $200 is going for tabs, plus a few dollars more.

Most of that extra is going to pay a credit card bill so we don't have any interest. We had to make a lot of purchases in April and also made some purchases we didn't have to make (getting takeout a lot due to exhaustion on my part) and had some unexpected medical bills come in that I charged.

We shouldn't be getting anymore for our daughter so I think something may have crossed in the mail with when she hit her out of pocket max and when it was actually credited. We've had this happen before. We are trying to track that down and see if this most recent bill can be resubmitted to insurance. If not, that'll be about $1100 out of the emergency fund.

If I have to take it out of the EF then I will cut back on debt repayment to get that money replaced, but I will still pay at least $1000 a month on debt repayment while we do that. It should only take a month to replenish the EF that way.

I will still be able to pay off $1200 in loan debt to Mom this month.

Like Amber, I am going to try for a no eating out month. I've got my meal plan set for the week and I made it with some easier meals for the weekend when we do the most garden and yard work and I tend to get wiped out. Besides, I lose weight better when we are not eating take out.

Speaking of weight loss, I was able to get into 2 pairs of Capri pants that are a smaller size then what I am currently in. I can sit down in them, but it makes them a little tight around the belly, so I need to lose another inch or two off that to want to do more than walk around in them. I am hoping by the end of May when the really hot weather is here that they will fit comfortably.

I have several other pairs of Capris, shorts, and jeans that are the same size as well and I am almost down a t-shirt size and when I am, I will be able to wear several of the shirts hanging in my closet. If this keeps up I will have a fairly nice summer wardrobe available to me at no expense.

I need to go find my sewing machine in storage. I've got some mending to do on some seams and it is too much to hand sew. The one seam unraveled in a foot of fabric and I have a sundress with a slit that goes to mid-thigh that I'd like to sew up. With the wind we have, it can get embarrassing to wear that dress outside. It has a loose enough skirt that goes down to near my ankles, so sewing it up won't impede my walking at all.

My limit these days is sewing on new buttons, replacing bra hooks or eyes, and repairing one to two inch rips in clothes. My hands don't really handle more with the RA. It is worst in my hands for fiddly work, although they are somewhat better with the Enbrel.

Test Results

April 22nd, 2019 at 04:25 pm

So I've been working really hard on improving my diet since my last lipid panel and I've had some good results back from the one I did last week. It still has some room for improvement, but I was very excited to see that my work is paying off.

My HDL, which is the good cholesterol has gone up from 35 to 43 and is now barely withing normal range, which is 40 to 59. My LDL, which is the bad cholesterol has gone up, though, from 57 to 67, but it is still less than 99, which is where they want it to be. My Triglycerides saw the biggest change. They have gone from 271 down to 162. They are still not in the normal range of 0 to 149, but they are a heck of a lot closer. My total cholesterol went from 145 to 142. Normal is 0 to 199.

So my goal for the next six months is to try to lower my Triglycerides to normal levels and to raise my good cholesterol. The ways to do this are to limit sugar intake, eliminate bread and pasta, exercise more and differently, avoid saturated fat and transfat, drink less or no alcohol, lose weight, eat more fish and oats (they also say avocados and beans, but I don't like either), and avoid foods linked to high triglyceride levels.

I am going to continue to focus on losing weight, eating more fish and oats, doing more exercise, and limiting sugar. I only eat bread or pasta twice a week and I'm not ready to give that up. I don't drink alcohol at all unless I need elderberry tincture which is 2 tsp while I'm sick. I have been eating a little too much in the sweets department, though. Not overeating it, just having one sweet thing a day, which I really don't need. I won't give up eating animal fat, though. That is what has raised my good cholesterol. But if I eat more fish it will mean less beef or pork fat.

I am already doing most of the things to raise my good cholesterol, but the one thing it said was to choose purple produce. So I am going to try eating more purple cabbage, purple or scarlet carrots, purple onions, purple sweet potatoes, black grapes, and blueberries.

My ultimate goal is to be able to get off the high cholesterol drug, which is controlling things, but if I lose enough weight I may not need it anymore. It would be nice not to have to shell out the $30 a month for that drug anymore.

I am hoping if I ever get down to a more normal weight I will be able to get off my high blood pressure medicine, too. That will require exercise and maintaining the better diet I am on, which is the recommended high protein, low carb diet.

Our insurance also offers a $20 discount per month on the premium if we all get our blood work done and have our waists measured by November to qualify for the discount in 2020. While I find the waist measurement invasive, I'll put up with it for the discount. Besides, I think all of the weight I have lost has been from my waist and stomach anyway, so it is getting smaller as I go along.

I also saw my sleep doctor last week and got a new c-pap mask, a new modem for my c-pap because it was broken, a new hose, and a six month supply of nose pieces and the monthly filters plus a replacement of the big filter that needs to be changed once a year. Not sure how much I am going to get charged for that, but they did say our insurance covered most of it.

Sleep doctor has changed the dosage on one of my pills, doubling it. It has made a tremendous difference since. I can sleep 7.5 to 9 hours now instead of the 4 to 6 I'd been getting. I feel so much better getting decent sleep. That also helps me not cheat on my diet, because when I am exhausted I just want starch and sugar.

I am doing really well after a month on Enbrel. I am able to do so much more around the house and in the garden. I feel like this drug is giving me my life back. It is nice to have stamina again.