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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.

Bits and Pieces

April 10th, 2019 at 10:31 pm

It rained all day so I didn't get any gardening done. Actually, I didn't get much of anything done. I did take DD to the doctor and DS to the gym and I read a lot. This is the first time since I got so sick that I have been up to reading for a decent length of time.

My new regimen of eye vitamins seems to be working quite well. I take 5000 IU of vitamin A, 450 mg of vitamin E, 200 mcg of selenium, and Bilberry Ginkgo Lutein complex. The spots had been getting darker again for a while, but they are back to a light yellow/brown and are far less noticeable. I don't know that they are smaller, but when they aren't black they don't seem to interfere so much with things like reading.

I took my third Enbrel shot tonight. Again it seemed like things weren't as good after the first five days, but that could just be soreness from gardening. The brain fog seems to be gone, though. I have more energy, but not as much as I'd like to have. I feel capable of doing things, though. I have to remember to call the mail order pharmacy for the next set of shots in about 5 days. I found out my co-pay for the drug this month is $30. Not bad for a wildly expensive drug.

I really need to schedule a hair cut. My hair is back to length it was when it was at its longest. It just grows so fast. But it is getting caught in my armpits when I raise my arms and then bring them back down and it pulls my hair and hurts. And DH sometimes leans on it and that is not good, either. I am thinking of cutting off about a foot and getting to one inch past my chin. Which will really be at my chin because it bounces up with my loose curls. I will basically be getting it cut to the length of my bangs by doing that. I have money in the personal care envelope, so it is just a question of making the appointment and doing it.

I go to the doctor tomorrow. I think I still have a sinus infection going on. The pressure is out of my ears, but I still have a pretty bad headache above my eyebrows and the back teeth and jaw hurt, which is also a sign of sinus infection. I think the ones in my face are also in play, but not as badly. I just want to get this thing cleared up so I can maybe enjoy the spring.

I spent $1.09 on a candy bar today, but that came out of my allowance envelope. I have been trying to avoid having sweets in the house, but clearly today was not going to be one of those days. I kind of felt like a PMSing teenager needing chocolate. Sometimes I swear I'm menopausal even though I had a hysterectomy in 2003 and went through all that stuff when I was 33 to 35. I wonder if that is even possible because if I were normal, this would be the age I would have started peri-menopause. Like I need that on top of all my auto-immune issues.

I tried the cheese wrap today. It is called Folio's and it was the Parmesan one. Apparently they make a cheddar cheese one, too. I did find out some more info about them. They are only available in west coast Costco's, but they are available nationwide at Aldi's, though not really because Aldi is not a nationwide chain.

I used one wrap, 2 slices of deli turkey, some rather hot stone ground mustard, and some cucumber slices. It was great and surprisingly filling for its size. I imagine after swimming I would need two, but on a normal day one is fine for lunch. I did add more cucumber slices on the side, though.

I have found some youtube videos on how to make your own Folio's, which I may try, as homemade would be cheaper, but if it is too fiddly to make, I don't mind shelling out for these, because they are good and it makes my life a little easier.

Keep On Keeping On

April 4th, 2019 at 04:51 pm

DH had to pick up some pure maple syrup at Costco last night, so that cost $11.59. That seems to have gone down a good bit since the last time we bought syrup. I think it was around $15 last time, so that was a nice surprise.

The last two days were kind of painful. I think it was the storm. I am sensitive to changes in barometric pressure. I swell up when rainstorms come in. I also get headaches. It's weird. But the sun is back out today and also last night was my second shot of Enbrel and my joints are feeling better again, except my left hip, which is out and my chiropractor is on vacation. He won't be back until the 10th.

It is possible that I may be someone who has to take two shots of Enbrel a week, but I imagine it is too soon to tell. But the joint flare could also have been the medicine wearing off. I don't know. It's too soon to tell on that as well. No nausea or vomiting with this second shot, but I took some Zantac last night to try to prevent it, and it seems like it did.

Tomorrow we have another rain storm coming in, so if my joints hurt again, then I'll assume it was the pressure and not the medicine wearing off, since I just took the shot.

I have been maintaining my weight loss, but have not been very good at losing anymore. I haven't really been trying this week, but I need to get my act together, because I still have a lot to lose. We are going to get our gym membership signed up for this weekend and I can get back in the pool again. I am going to take it easy and only walk in the pool to start, not try to swim laps or use the water weights. I need to build up my stamina. Then maybe after a week or so, I might take a class.

They have Aqua Zumba one day a week and water aerobics the rest of the week days and Saturday. I will start with Aqua Zumba as it is easier on the joints and more fun. I will have to get up earlier for the water aerobics if I decide to start that, but Aqua Zumba is at 10:30. They do have two night time water aerobics classes if I just can't get up early enough. But they are at 6 p.m. and I imagine quite crowded at that time of day.

DS will be using the work out machines and weights while I am in the pool. He isn't really keen on water aerobics, though he did enjoy them when he was younger. I think he is self-conscious to be in a pool full of women, even if most of them are middle aged to old age.

I don't really know if DH or DD will use the membership or not. DD says she will to use the pool, but she is never able to get up, so I don't see it really happening unless she changes her sleeping schedule. I'm not going to drive there twice a day. It is a bad traffic situation later in the day and hard to get in and out.

I think I am going to have to accelerate savings for the computer fund. My computer keeps restarting itself. Every day, sometimes twice a day and it is getting super annoying. It keeps saying my computer has an error and has to shut down. Ugh. I am going to try a few things to see if I can't find the error, but it may not be salvageable.

This computer has quite a few things wrong with it that they never seemed to be able to fix 100% and now it no longer has a service contract, so I just can't see throwing money at it when I can throw money at a new one. I am not sure I will get a laptop this time, though. I think I may just get a desktop instead. We'll see. With my current phone, I don't really need a laptop to take with me anymore. I only write at home these days.

Although I do like taking the laptop into the bathroom while I am taking a long bath and playing a movie, so there's that. I guess I'll figure that out once I have the money saved up. I want to save instead of 18 months same as cash, but will do that if this thing goes belly up before the money is ready.

Trucking Along

April 1st, 2019 at 11:25 am

I need to go to Winco and pick up a bag of oats for the rabbits. The feed stores have been getting corn in their oats the last several times we have gotten them and the rabbits can't eat corn. It has been a real pain in the butt to deal with. So I am hoping that oats from Winco will be clean. Since they are for human consumption there is better quality control. It's a little more expensive this way, but I'd rather that than risk killing my rabbits.

I've been on the Enbrel for a few days now and I continue to improve. The swelling in my legs has gone way down. It used to be a constant. A large part of my pain is gone throughout the day, though by evening I do have some that comes back. It is not as bad as before, though. I get a little queasy in the mornings, but haven't thrown up after the first morning post injection, and it seems a little less each day. I am starting to feel like a semi-functional human being.

I still haven't quite shaken this cold, but I am getting there. I'm able to do all my indoor chores again. I haven't tried to do my outdoor stuff yet. Seasonal allergies have piled on top of it, though, so there is just a lot of nose blowing going on still. I didn't sleep very well last night or the night before, which doesn't help with getting better. I keep waking up too early. I've tried going to bed earlier to compensate, but then I just lay there not sleeping until the normal time I fall asleep. Very exhausting.

I am looking forward to payday as we will be able to make some more progress on the loan. I'm not sure I'll be able to pay as much as I was hoping. We've got a couple things that have come up that need to be taken care of. Isn't that always the way? I'll still be able to make an extra payment, though.

Quick Grocery Trip and New Drug Regimen Begins

March 28th, 2019 at 11:41 pm

I had to spend DH for milk and ice. He spent $7.99. Yes, I know I can make my own ice. I don't. It's one of the luxuries I allow, since I have trouble cracking ice cube trays with my RA.

Speaking of my RA, I started Enbrel last night. It's a pen type injector. I was really nervous, but it was simple. It hurt a little when the needle went in, but far less than a regular shot. The medicine itself did not hurt.

It's not supposed to take effect for a month, but some people have had it take effect immediately. I think I am one of those people, because I slept all night on one side. Usually I wake up a couple times a night to switch sides because of the pain. I'm not saying I am pain free, because I am not, but it was easier to get out of bed this morning than any time in recent memory.

I did have one side effect, though. I threw up this morning out of nowhere. I was perfectly fine, then ate a string cheese, and 30 seconds later got all the signs I was going to throw up and then did. There was a lot of bile, but fortunately I had drunk a lot of water, so it wasn't as nasty as it could have been. Vomiting is a side effect of the drug, as it has been with almost every RA drug I have tried. However, I've been fine the rest of the day.

Also I had more energy today than I have had in ages. I am still a little sick, but I had enough energy to do two loads of dishes and 4 loads of laundry. I have not had the energy to do that since I was on steroids for that really bad sinus infection. I also made dinner, including slicing an onion. Some days I can't cut things up. This was not one of those days.

So I am cautiously optimistic. We will see. Even if I still hurt, if I am not tired all the time that will be a drastic improvement. I am used to living in pain. Having the energy to get through a day is worth more to me than being pain free. But hopefully that pain will get better each day with this drug. And I won't get any of the scary bad side effects.

Hand Me Ups

March 24th, 2019 at 04:56 pm

I was just given several t-shirts, tank tops, and one long-sleeved shirt by someone who has gotten too heavy for them. They are younger than me, so I call them hand me ups instead of hand me downs. I was just saying I needed to buy a couple of t-shirts to get me through until I am in the next size down, but now I don't have to. They are all in great condition, too. I like it when life works out like that.

The only one that might not work for me is a yellow tank top. I don't wear yellow well. But I guess I can use it around the house or in the garden where I won't be out in public. Now all I need to buy for myself is a cardigan and some socks.

So far I have kept the weight off that I lost while super sick. I am still sick, can't seem to shake the runny nose and throat cough from post nasal drip, but I am pretty functional. I am going to go ahead and go to the doctor this week, though. I think my flu may have turned into a sinus infection and that is why I can't seem to beat it.

My legs swelled up after my second day of grocery shopping, but what is really great is that they did not swell like they used to when I was eating the food with the nitrites and nitrates. Of course I have also lost nearly 18 pounds, so maybe it was all in my calves? No, most of it is in my stomach that I have lost, but maybe it still helps me to swell up less. I never felt like my skin was going to burst like a sausage. My ankle and knee joints hurt all day yesterday, but are somewhat better today.

I get my first enbrel delivery on Tuesday. I am hoping that will make a big improvement in my RA symptoms. It takes about a month of use to see a difference, though, they say. I'll be taking it in addition to my hydroxychloroquine. I'm not thrilled about the long term possible side effects of enbrel, but if it does help with the pain and inflammation, then I guess I can worry about those later. I'm 49. It's not like I'm going to live forever anyway.