Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ear-worms and termites and needles, oh my!

Sounds like a creepy Halloween post, but it's really not. Just your common everyday random updates. Since it sounded creepy, though, here's a terrifying clown, in case you are disappointed by regular old news:

Aaaahhhh!!!! Run away!!!!! Why does anyone ever think that clowns are a good idea?

Moving on...

I have a pretty good capacity for memorization. (Years of theater will do that to you, I guess.) It often happens that I will read something, and if it strikes me as being particularly beautiful, I often commit it, or my favorite parts of it, to memory--sometimes even unintentionally. This can be really handy (as in, I can still remember the lyrics and melodies of any song I have ever learned, including obscure sixth grade Christmas play songs--"Christmas in Egypt," anyone?). It also can be really awful. I often will have snatches of songs or poems running through my head, and sometimes I only know some of the words because I accidentally learned the words instead of intentionally committing them to memory, which means that my brain goes on a loop with the parts that I do know.

I've had lines from a poem I don't know running through my head since yesterday. The poem is called "Wild Wednesday," and I have lost my copy of the book that contains it, which means that I can't look it up and fill in the gaps that I am missing. To make matters worse, the internet doesn't know that this poem exists, so no help there. I'm going to order another copy today, so hopefully by next week, I'll be able to get rid of this poetic ear-worm beastie. And inform the internet of this poem's existence.

Update on the status of our living space: Good news! Our guest bathroom is all completely decorated and ready for company! It's the one space in our condo currently that is a finished space--no boxes, and we have pretty new towels, a rug, etc. It's nice having one room finished, even if it's the smallest space in the unit (small victories are still victories). I will post pictures when I can find my camera cord again (still no luck there...).

In other horrible disgusting news, we have a termite problem. By which I mean about a hundred termites managed to "fall" through a hole in the window in the library/office and land on the floor. (Ivan: OMG BEST GAME EVER. Nom maim nom.) After kicking the very interested cat out, we sprayed them down with orange oil, which is good at killing them but not fun to clean up (and also not good for your pets or your lungs). The window is covered in tape to patch things temporarily, and the landlord has been notified, but no solution yet. I've relocated my computer and teaching stuff to the living room couch since it's no fun trying to teach class surrounded by dead bugs (or having surprise live ones crawl up your leg while you are trying to talk about Eusebius).

Update on medical condition: Saw the rheumatologist again yesterday for my two-week check up. He was really pleased with how well the steroids seem to be working, and is really hopeful that I will continue to gain more and more mobility back. I actually received a diagnosis, as well, as a result of all the x-rays and blood work from last time. The ruling is that I do have rheumatoid arthritis, but only in my hands at this point. Also, I am apparently in the 30% of people who show no evidence of the disease in their blood work (with the exception of inflammation indicators). The x-rays, though, showed typical rheumatoid like symptoms in my hands, but nowhere else, which means that theoretically my other joints could eventually be back to tip-top shape if the inflammation can be reduced enough since there hasn't been any joint damage yet. Yay! I tested negative for all the other scary diseases that can cause joint pain, so that's also good news.

Bad news is the treatment plan. I'm still on steroids for a while, but he's adding a new medication now that will eventually replace the steroids. It's Methotrexate, a drug that used to be used to treat cancer, and I will be taking six pills once a week (seems weird, but okay...). The warnings for this drug are pretty scary, though. Absolutely no getting pregnant, and no drinking alcohol allowed. Not that we were planning on having babies right now, and not that I drink much alcohol, but it's still a little scary. I'm not allowed to have even a drop of alcohol at least until after I've been on the new meds for eight weeks and we can check and see how my liver is reacting (alcohol with the meds could mean sudden liver failure). Then MAYBE, if my liver is super awesome, I might be allowed to have one or two drinks a month. Maybe. Also the new drug will decrease my levels of Vitamin D, Calcium, and Folic Acid, so I'm on supplements for all of those as well.

And get this: the methotrexate is only being given to me so that I can start an additional treatment probably involving at home injections. INJECTIONS. AT HOME. DO IT YOURSELF STYLE. Can I just say how much I hate needles? I've overcome my cowardice enough to not cry anymore when they want to take my blood (which they've been doing a lot lately, I might add), and have even discovered that sometimes it doesn't really hurt at all--if I don't look when they are putting it in, I am totally fine and not a blubbering baby-woman. Injections, however, have always been painful. It's not a matter of sticking the needle in and letting the blood and physics do their thing; they are sticking new stuff in there, and it doesn't feel good. Not ever. And for some reason, I don't think closing my eyes or looking away while trying to administer my own injection is going to be a viable option. It seems like eyes would be important for that sort of thing. Maybe I can get Josh to do it, but as of right now, he's pretty equally freaked out about it. Mr. I-can't-remember-the-last-time-I-got-a-shot-or-had-blood-work-ordered.

So anyway, fun time adventures ahead. The hope is that all of this will help stop the joint damage, and that my life will be happy and so much less painful (with the exception of the stabby needles). And that seems like a good thing to remember. Boy, God sure does like to stretch us in uncomfortable ways sometimes, doesn't he?


Monday, October 18, 2010


This last week has been really great. I really mean really great.

Last Monday, after waiting over a month for my appointment and suffering ever increasing physical pain and further loss of mobility in my joints, I got to go in and see a rheumatologist. After reviewing my lab work from last time and sending me for more blood work and over twenty x-rays, he sent me home with a prescription for a low dosage of steroids. I began to feel better in less than a day. I cannot tell you the difference that this has made for my quality of life.

Today, I have taken no pain killers. None. Zip. Last Sunday, and for a month prior, I had been taking 9-12 pills per day just so that I could function at a basic level (and by basic, I am excluding such luxuries as being able to reach and touch the back of my head, or undress myself at night). After just one week of the steroids, I can dress myself, reach all of my hair, my knees have stopped hurting almost completely--I sometimes feel like I want to jog up the stairs--my hands and arms look and feel so much better, I've stopped dropping things so often...I want to write a sonnet to steroids. Or maybe to my rheumatologist. Or both.

And did I mention how much more energy I have? I've actually started wanting to clean in my spare time, and to go out to the store! After so much time being unable to do so many things, the actual desire and ability to accomplish these previously impossible tasks is a miraculous blessing. I feel awake! And energetic! After getting up at 6:30 and working all day in the office!

So that's how the week started. And then Friday was my birthday. A wonderful, joyous, delicious birthday. We got to welcome our brand new nephew into the world, I got to eat all of my favorite foods (thai food, baked apple pancake with cinnamon glaze, braised beef with roasted root veggies, pumpkin pie... oh, there was so much eating...), I watched The Fall with my family, and I hardly hurt at all.

And my husband gets amazing husband points for a perfect birthday gift: Godiva Dark Chocolate Assortment. Heaven. In. Your. Mouth.

I like food. I really like food. Have I mentioned how much I like food before? I am looking forward to lots more delicious food, and the prospect of gaining some weight (one of the potential side effects of the steroids, but one which would be a much needed help).

Prayers are still appreciated, especially for no nasty side effects from the drugs. I'm a teensie bit concerned about my vision being affected, but I'll be going back to the doctor next week for a check up and the latest test results, so I'll see what he says then.

Hooray life and God and doctors and medicine!


Thursday, October 7, 2010


I know. Anyone reading this will probably die right now because this is the SECOND POST IN THE SAME WEEK.

I think I may be developing the urge to post after I teach my classes. It's one of those weird things about teaching online. Last year I had an hour and a half commute with one of my coworkers, so class would let out, we'd chat with students or parents, and then we'd leave and drive for an hour and a half and talk about our classes, or books, or Arrested Development, or other random things. Now, I finish my class, I hang around and answer questions as my students vacate our online classroom, I sign off, take off my headset, and it's me and the cat, who is asleep. There's still an hour and a half left before Josh usually gets home. I can't TALK to anyone. There's no one to debrief to/with. I begin pondering the fact that I physically spent the last two hours alone in a room talking at plastic and metal, and there actually weren't any other people in the room. I know, because if there were, I probably would have brushed my teeth today and changed out of my pajamas. But I didn't. (EWWW.)

I need people. I really, really do. Hence, blog. I get to empty out my thoughts, and someone somewhere will probably read this tonight, and that's enough to tide me over until Josh gets home.

As I have said before, technology is weird.

I will now either find something to clean/decorate for fall, or bake pumpkin bread. I may also brush my teeth. Great weather lately, yes?


Tuesday, October 5, 2010


4:39 pm: the sound of rain outside the window; the smell of old books on the shelf; my laptop on the desk with the headset still plugged in; a leftover mug of tea, cold from breakfast; my brown office chair, which despite how comfy it is, cannot seem to keep my back aches away; over four hours today spent talking online to 21 high school students scattered throughout the country about assurance of salvation, faith and works, and what virtue is and how one attains it; I turn now to grade synopses.