Monday, November 22, 2010

Little Man's Journey through the Faux Panama Canal

Little-Man is driving me nuts! He has this new habit. Escaping! Luckily our apartment complex is like the Panama Canal, with locks. So even though he's taken to hiding under the little table in the hallway, and slipping out the front door when I enter, he'd still have to go through several more doors to reach the outside world. Still, the worst part is that with four animals it's not always obvious that one is missing. Like today, I didn't realize he was out, until I was leaving the apartment again. He's hopeless.

I thought about my Halloween Pumpkin today. I had such grand plans for it. But when the time came to carve it, I found it was already dead. On the inside. It was so sad. I tried to pick it up, and it literally deflated between my palms. :-( Why, Pumpkin? WHY??

Speaking of "why"...why is the intro to "Three and a Half Men" so bizarre? Maybe "bizarre" isn't the best word for it. I think "Stupid" is the more appropriate term. But, who cares...because AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE IS ON! Hooray!

I should go to bed. Terence is working late tonight. I'm not sleepy.

So, I've taken several conscious steps to reduce stress in my life, to get control of my schedule (and thus, my time), to work out more, to eat better, to read more....and what is my reward? Numbness, and pins and needles, from the waist down. Do my drugs not work? What's going on?? I'm amazed how all these "flares" since June are literally running a relay race. I'm scared that this means my MS is progressing away from Relapsing/Remitting. Not good.

This week's "House" episode couldn't be more relevant. They are discussing how MS lesions in the temporal lobe can cause strange experiences, changes in mood and personality. Great. Super. And how come nobody ever told me about Marberg's MS? Fatal in a matter of days? Obviously since I'm still alive, I am assuming that's not what I have. But that doesn't mean it's cool to find out about the existence of such a gnarly form of MS, from a TV SHOW! Hrmph.

I just found another person's MS oriented blog. She has written a very clear entry about what MS is, and what it can do. I'm always looking for better ways to describe this nutso disease, so I'm going to copy and paste it here. The way she has categorized the possible's clear that what is happening to me is "normal." Which leads me to believe that there is no overwhelming reason to go to the doctor every time I notice something from this list. No medical professional has ever addressed my memory issues, or the fact that I can't reasonably solve problems sometimes.

It's sometimes hard to stay focused on "being positive". It becomes a matter of endurance. No choice but to try harder, I suppose! It's Thanksgiving Week, and there really is so much to be grateful for. Everywhere around me. My amazing husband, my amazing friends, my amazing family, my amazing pets.

A turkey was purchased today! We are one day closer to the epic meal! (As Lauren pointed out today - It's probably best that I don't agree to steroid infusion before Thursday, or the insatiable hunger that follows would cause me to eat at least 9 lbs of that 16lb bird)

Not to purposely revisit the symptom issues...but I honestly can't recall if I cancelled lessons this week. And that SUCKS, because if I call and ask, and DID already cancel the lessons, I just sound stupid. Frustrating. I feel like I can't even trust what I've written down in my calendar.

The woman's blog that I found today, can be found at and I pasted part of her entry on various symptoms below.

(from Melissa's blog)
The most logical place to start this series of awareness week posts is with some basic information. Multiple Sclerosis is believed to be an auto immune disease in which our immune system mistakes proteins within the myelin sheath around the brain and spinal cord as an invader to be killed, causing lesions and subsequent scarring where the attacks occur. To better explain the role of myelin, here is a favorite analogy of mine: Picture a plastic coated power cord, now scratch off some of the plastic. It may spark, it may work sometimes but not others, eventually once that exposed wiring rusts it stops working altogether. Now picture that coating is the protective layer of your brain, and your brain is the copper wiring. That is essentially what happens with Multiple Sclerosis.

Once the myelin is worn away, the brain's signals to the body don't work correctly. Because of this, virtually any and every part of your body could potentially be effected by the disease. Here are a list of some of the more common symptoms of MS:

Muscle symptoms:
  • Loss of balance
  • Muscle spasms
  • Numbness or abnormal sensation in any area
  • Problems moving arms or legs
  • Problems walking
  • Problems with coordination and making small movements
  • Tremor in one or more arms or legs
  • Weakness in one or more arms or legs
Bowel and bladder symptoms:
  • Constipation and stool leakage
  • Difficulty beginning to urinate
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Strong urge to urinate
  • Urine leakage (incontinence)
Eye symptoms:
  • Double vision
  • Eye discomfort
  • Uncontrollable rapid eye movements
  • Vision loss (usually affects one eye at a time)
Numbness, tingling, or pain
  • Facial pain
  • Nerve pain
  • Painful muscle spasms
  • Tingling, crawling, or burning feeling in the arms and legs
Other brain and nerve symptoms:
  • Decreased attention span, poor judgment, and memory loss
  • Difficulty reasoning and solving problems
  • Depression or feelings of sadness
  • Dizziness and balance problems
  • Hearing loss
Sexual symptoms:
  • Problems with erections
  • Problems with vaginal lubrication
Speech and swallowing symptoms:
  • Slurred or difficult-to-understand speech
  • Trouble chewing and swallowing
Fatigue is a common and bothersome symptoms as MS progresses. It is often worse in the late afternoon.

It is believed roughly 2.5 million people worldwide suffer from Multiple Sclerosis. Some say that number could be as high as 4 million if one takes into account the misdiagnosed and undiagnosed cases. There are approximately 400,00 diagnosed cases of MS in the United States, with an estimated 200 new cases diagnosed every week. MS strikes women twice as often as men, though men seem to progress in the disease faster than women. The average age of diagnosis is 30-40 years old, with symptoms starting between 20-40 years old. Diagnosis is often delayed because of the sporadic, unpredictable nature of the disease. Multiple Sclerosis can effect anyone, of any race, gender, or age.

There is no cure for Multiple Sclerosis.

Those are the basics of Multiple Sclerosis, and really, only the tiniest glimpse as to what life is like living with it. MS is a greatly misunderstood and underestimated disease, largely because so many with it "look good" but suffer greatly with largely invisible symptoms. I'll be touching on this topic more as the week goes on.

I challenge everyone reading this to help spread awareness of Multiple Sclerosis during this week. Why? Because you never know when this disease may strike you or someone you love. I know two years ago, even though I was already having symptoms of MS but didn't realize it, I'd have never thought in a million years I'd be sitting here with this disease writing this blog. It can, and does, happen to anyone.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Stick a Needle in my Eye!

I figured out what needs to happen. I need to write myself a THEME SONG! Specifically, a song I can perform at the next Songs of Hope, which will be making its Boston debut this spring. I just need to write something that is personally meaningful, poignant, hilarious, musically brilliant, educational, lyrically genius... pokes fun at the backwards healthcare system, while at the same time NOT disrespecting amazing medical advances? AND, will get people to open their wallets. (AND that will get me into all those expensive fundraising gala-events that no person with MS can actually afford to attend, since all their money goes to medical bills!) That's hard to write lyrics when one has a crappy memory. Maybe that's what the song should be about. ("I wrote a funny, clever song, I wrote it last November. About how fun MS can be...but now I can't remember! The end...)

I got poked and prodded in the eye today. I've had double/triple vision for a few weeks now. It started as fuzzy vision, and the doctor prescribed glasses...but that didn't seem to be the real problem. So while everything IS sharper...there is still at least two of whatever I'm looking at. It's really quite hard to decipher what exactly is happening, when it pertains to vision. They did lots of tests. Some were fun, and some were not. The ones that were like video games were fun. The ones that involved poking and prodding...were not.

It rained all day today. I liked it. I hope it means the snow is coming soon. I am so ready for it. I know it will be dreadful though, trying to get to all my students on those remote forest roads. I should probably invest in snow tires. And non-perishable foods to keep in my car. Plus extra jackets and blankets. And I should also pin-point the exact location of my AAA card, and probably purchase a roadside assistance kit. (And possibly some kind of weapon with which to murder any potential murderers!?!)

My students were extra exhausting today. Normally it's my "easy day", but one student especially was uber super extra insane. He took the lid of his white grand piano and slammed it shut at least three times. His mom doesn't care. I told him if it happens again I am going to super-glue his hands to the top of the lid, so he'd be stuck there forever, unable to actually PLAY the piano, and instead the only thing he could listen to would be the slamming of that piano lid. For all of eternity. He proceeded to play "Ode to Joy" at record speed.

I am going to go think about having dessert. Early lessons tomorrow. I bought an electric heating mattress cover for the bed today. I bet the cats are going to love it. Not like they don't already take up 76% of the bed...and they aren't small. I realized the other day that Kosmo isn't just eating his own food, but everyone else's as well. That explains his subtle physical expansion, and Chloe and LittleMan's growing discontent. Must come up with a plan to fix this.

And did I mention....GIANTS WON THE WORLD SERIES! Pah-POW! And a delightful win for the Quakes this evening as well. It's a good season for California sports!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ann & the Blog - the Reunion Tour!!

So many things have happened since this failed blogger last blogged! I'm going to make a list for maximum impact! In no particular order, in the past month I have...

  • Married Terence

  • Organized my life into Google Calendar

  • Traveled to Utah

  • Assembled and installed shelves in the laundry room

  • Gone Apple Picking

  • Fallen off the curb at San Francisco Airport and sprained my ankle

  • Celebrated with too many White Russians to notice sprained ankle

  • Sobered up and been unpleasantly surprised by a sprained ankle

  • Made Scandinavian Sour Cream Apple Pie....twice

  • Read lots of Donald Duck Comics

  • Worked out

  • Been stuck in a thunderstorm in Las Vegas

  • Had double vision, which has yet to resolve.

  • Eaten the best tasting ice cream ever

  • Lost track of what programs the DVR is recording/not recording

  • Tried making donuts with my new deep fryer

Let's stop there. We are just talking about ONE month after all, so I don't want to overwhelm you with my activities.

Terence and I had a lovely wedding! I must say, working as hard as I did with every paid off. I think everyone had a great time, the cake arrived in one piece thanks to Monica and Jeff, the food was fantastic, Amelia did a great job being a ring-bearer...and I got to marry the most wonderful, kind, handsome, generous, responsible, pro-active, and competent man I know.

I got some wonderful messages today, from Peace and Paws Dog Rescue (the people who run the transport that shuttles adopted animals from down south, and delivers them to their new homes up north) and from Linda, the lady who saved her from the kill shelter in Indiana, and took care of her and her siblings up to the point of adoption. Yesterday, I sent some photos of Amelia at the wedding, and they sent lovely messages back. I am really so touched by how much these people care about each and every dog they have helped. I am eternally grateful that they brought Amelia to us, because she makes everyday wonderful. We are so lucky to have such a perfect little muffin. I know I'm probably a bit obsessed with my dog, but no more so than people are with their kids...and my dog certainly is much more pleasant on an airplane than any child I've ever met... :-)

I'm so stoked about the Holidays. I have drawn up preliminary plans for a flash-production of "Christmas in the Ballroom, Boston 2010". I finally am starting to feel relaxed and organized enough to consider singing. Usually, my head is full of concert ideas from morning till night, with details ranging from repetoir to reception napkins, but I just haven't been feeling it. Of course, planning a wedding took up a good chunk of my time, and the MS episode earlier this year, really too the wind out of my sails in a big way. But just a few days ago, the visions started returning, about a holiday show, and a springtime Songs of Hope. I've already thought of possible venues, performers, advertising...and now that I have a friend who bakes the most amazing cakes in the world....a special cake for each event! Complete with a stack of her business cards, of course!

Terence is working the overnight. I haven't learned how to SLEEP when he isn't here, haha. I instead I'm sitting here, blogging, surrounded by animals that looked like they all suddenly passed out right where they were sitting, all at once. 75% of them snore something awful.

Winter is almost here. Can't wait.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Zombie Birthday!

I'm a failed blogger. I always start too late at night. In fact, I do pretty much everything too late at night.

I'm getting married two weeks from yesterday. And now it's my birthday. I don't like this birthday very much. It's at an inconvenient time. I miss my big celebrations with princess cake.

I feel pretty good, aside from the fact that I may be discovering a food allergy to Ceasar Salads. I don't know how may times I need to eat it and consequently get sick, in order to confirm or deny the speculation.

Amelia is sneezing. It worries me a bit, because it's frequent. I can't tell if she is trying to clear something, or what. Maybe her dad can take her with him to work tomorrow.

Four paragraphs. Not bad for being a zombie.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Money, Marriage and Mileage

...and just like that, vision restored. I'm amazed, and once again, grateful.

I made a deal with myself today, and that deal is: to celebrate small victories. I get so mad sometimes (starting to be more and more difficult to blame steroids!), when things are just piling up. Today it was United Airlines. Yesterday it was traffic. Not just "traffic" as such, but the foundation of my irritability stems from feeling compelled when I was just starting to look for income, to take on students that were far away. In the beginning, you kinda just have to take a chance, and go where the students are. So of course I was delighted to get TWO students in this one area, that is approximately an hour away. Two students is not a lot for such a crappy drive, where there is traffic pretty much at all hours. One student, a 30 minute lesson, is arguably not worth the paycheck...Two, made me at least feel better about the wasted gasoline. BUT, not two weeks after getting that second student, the first one informed me that he wanted to take the summer off. So there I am, driving an hour or sometimes more, for a 30 minute lesson. The worst part is sitting in bumper to bumper traffic the whole time, with nothing to do but mull over the situation.

It's easy to fall into the trap of feeling out of control, and feeling depressed, while feeling sorry for my own "bad luck". Because in times when more things than not are being "challenging"...I want to remember the things that ARE working, and that are going well. I AM getting students that like me. And that is step one. Step two, is getting them to like me enough, that when fall comes they will prioritize the lesson to the point of being flexible with days of the week. That way, I can at least TRY to consolidate the far away students, and maybe save a penny or two by only driving once or twice a week to these areas.

My neurologist's office called today, to tell me that the doctor has filled out the parking placard form that I sent her. I wasn't sure she'd do it, because maybe I'm not "disabled" enough. But after these past few weeks, I think I've figured out that it is not about being incapacitated. It's about overcoming the simple things that due to a condition can suddenly, and without warning become huge obstacles. Looking back less than a month, there were enough days where I felt like I couldn't make it to the kitchen, let alone the postoffice, or grocery store. Every activity needed to be preceeded by a nap. :-( That is another decision I've reached - it's ok to have a disabled parking placard. It's for my own good, so that I can have it handy when I need it. The victory - having a neurologist that listens, and is actually helpful.

Lauren told me today that she and the puppy school ladies are throwing me a Bridal Shower! How exciting is THAT?? I feel so super lucky to have found such great friends in the relatively short time we've lived in MA. All the fun wedding stuff is starting to happen, which means we're getting close! 64 days to be exact! It's amazing really how, for every one item crossed off the to-do list, three new items appear. Be systematic, Ann. Be systematic. You've made it this far without going crazy...(sorta, depending on who you ask? So...just don't ask Terence...?) I'm practically broke from the preparations, and dreading the due dates for the MRI bill, the ER bill...they are enormous. And somehow, I need to have substantial money left over to switch over to a new car insurance by August 12th.

I am having a hard time with Terence's new schedule. I mean, when I say I'm having a "hard time", I really just mean that it's a bigger adjustment than I anticipated. His schedule hasn't been really clear up to this point, just a lot of overnights. It sounded pretty good at first, but one has to consider that pretty much the whole next day is spent sleeping. I get up when he is just coming home, and then he gets up around the time I am going to teach. On paper, it seems exciting, but in reality it is definitely a challenge to have him not have predictable hours. I purposefully avoided and turned down quite a few students to make sure I was making enough time, and saving the weekends to spend with Terence. But two out of 4 weekends he isn't going to be around. Which is fine...but do I take the students now? They'd be EVERY saturday. I guess that is the issue when one person has a set schedule, and one has the opposite of a set schedule. I really hope he can be happy at this job. It has been such a long road of internships and terrible working conditions, that he really deserves to feel secure and settled with a decent paycheck to boot. It has to be extremely challenging to come from a series of internships where you're constantly being told things aren't good enough (because you're being TAUGHT, supposedly), to a position where you are a peer, an expert. I'd imagine it's a tightrope walk between humility(not overstating experience and expertise) and assertiveness (using what you know with confidence, and realizing you deserve respect.) I am so proud of him for getting himself to where he is today. I have a nagging feeling (even from before) that the clinic itself may not be as organized as they should be. They did string him along for way too long before making the offer, making it hard to remain professional with the other job offers. I don't trust them entirely, but I am sure Terence can make it all work out. He's good like that! :-)

Alton Brown is chopping a red onion. It looks very very awkward. Now he's chopping a garlic clove. That looks strange too. He kinda looks like he's never done this before.

Tomorrow, I shall tackle United Airlines again. They made me buy a trip I didn't want with my mileage points. And so I want to cancel it. And they want to charge me $150 bucks...for my FREE trip. It's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. If they really won't budge, I simply won't be showing up for my flight, since that is the only truly free option they are giving me! I already booked a JetBlue flight for myself and Amelia. Which reminds me, I need to call JetBlue and let them know she is coming on the plane with me. I am very curious how she'll do! Hopefully she will be just as lazy and sleepy as she always is.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Eye Spy!

The eye is getting worse. I'm almost 100% sure it's optic neuritis again, and I'm praying it will just...stop getting worse. I am going to write an email to my neurologist, asking if it's "normal" to have this many symptoms back to back to back. I feel like I'm all over the place. Steroids are over...I wonder if they'll want to put me back on??

I took Amelia to her Good Canine Citizen class today. It's fun, but so exhausting. It's also a million degrees in that store, and I usually feel wiped by the end. Terence was working tonight, so he couldn't be there. We cruised around the store with a shopping cart as part of an exercise. Amelia did great, but I apparently could use some lessons on how to drive an unruly shopping cart. She was a good little Muffin, for the most part. She did a good job staying, and waiting, (and drooling....) and watching. Her flight to CA is coming up, so we will definitely be practicing the staying. I'm thinking I'll bring her bed to a couple of different places, to work on getting her to relax in a stay position. She did fall asleep on the subway yesterday, so I'm hoping the plane will be no different...just six hours!!

I'm hungry, but I don't know what to eat. Maybe that means I'm not really hungry. It's pretty late, so maybe I should just go to bed. I didn't get a chance to get on the exercise bike today, and I actually kind of missed it! I taught 3 lessons, and went on a manic hunt for missing stamps in the apartment. I'll just add them to the seemingly infinite list of "things that are nowhere to be found."

I'm still marveling at my friend Mel's amazing situation. Diagnosed with MS seven years ago, and UN-diagnosed just recently. I can't even imagine what that would feel like. Wonderful, I suppose, yet strange - knowing you've taken some serious drugs for a seriously long time, for a disease it turns out you don't have.

Speaking of, I should take my shot. I took it in my left arm last week, and the result was a gargantuan bruise. Like....HUGE. Not sure why it happened, but it looks amazingly awful. Like I got hit with a seven iron. Note to self - do not inject in the arm anywhere close to the wedding date.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Early Morning Victory!

Can I brag?? Thanks.

Being someone who always has major issues with computers, phones, printers, I am extra super proud to report that in the past 7 hours I have:

  • Fixed my browser speed
  • Removed unnecessary start-up programs
  • Cleaned excess clutter, and lastly
  • Banished "Internet EXPLODER" from my life
I have also come to realize that I probably have a mild case of Optic Neuritis in my left eye. It's been feeling like it's wanting to shut (but apparently not looking like it, thankfully?), and been kind of painful to move around...but after the past few weeks, I wasn't really even registering that kind of pain. Interesting. It literally just hit me now, that I remembered the sensation from back in 2004. Sucks!

The state of Indiana is abbreviated "IN". I know this now. I did not know that when addressing an envelope last night. But as I was drifting off to sleep I reached over to turn off the light, and there it was. A random address of a jewelry store on the back of a bridal magazine. INDIANA = IN. Grrrr. In an attempt to not have to waste a million dollar envelope, I am altering how state abbreviations are written. INDIANA is now... "IND". If the postman can't figure it out (either by that, or the fact that the city is Indianapolis!) then so be it.

Where is my mom? She always picks up her phone, but didn't last night. I'd try again, but it's way too early on the West Coast.

The to-do list is long today. I'm still way behind on LIFE, from being sick. Sue and Brian are coming over for dinner, which I'm really looking forward to! But before that, let's see if we can't cancel that wayward United Flight, switch car insurance, scoop some litterboxes, furminate some animals, do some laundry, get my work-out in, and...maybe remember all those other things that I have just now forgotten.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Past Few Weeks...

Holy smokes. Remind me to never utter the words "it could always be worse", ever again. What the hell happened to me??

Looking back on these past few weeks, I realize how indescribably lucky I've been, in terms of my health. Sitting here now, feeling pretty close to "normal" again, I can't even believe the things I was feeling a week or two ago. I felt insane, to say the least, with my legs kicking, my skin feeling like it was on hair felt like someone was pulling it out, my left leg was on strike, my right arm was asleep...

Things weren't really adding up. Quantity of symptoms, well, THAT was adding up...but things just weren't making any sense. I was under the impression that MS symptoms came one by one, and subsided after a while. (Even getting the diagnosis in 2004, I guess I've never really "had" MS before!) But looking back, two months ago I was itchy all over. One month ago, I was feeling like I was about to throw up for about a week straight, which I assumed was the new medicine. Wrong. At that same time, my vision was crappy. Oh! And I almost forgot! I lost my voice back in May! What was that about? And the insomnia...that was the worst of all, because it gave me all that extra awake time to think about what a possible nutcase I am...

When it's all laid out like that, it's no wonder I felt like I was losing my mind. I really started to question what an actual, clinical "hypocondriac" personality was like, and if there was a chance I could be one. When you get the diagnosis MS, they tell you it can manifest in a million different ways, and that no two people have the same symptoms. I also didn't want to be the asshole patient who assumes that EVERYTHING that happens is MS, nor did I want to overlook any of these strange things that were happening.

All the while, my underlying anxiety is and has been for years now, that my blood pressure will give me a frikkin' stroke.

I have new respect for the medical field. I have found a Neurologist who not only SAW me, but enabled me to have an MRI within two days. Granted, what she found on the MRI wasn't so fun (a cluster of lesions in a critical nerve area of the neck), but she guided me through the nurses and coordinators, via phone and email, responded to my questions, and within a day I was scheduled for the IV solumedrol infusions.

They went well. I was nervous. I had heard bad things. But, again, looking back at the past couple of weeks, I feel so lucky. I went to the infusion clinic the first day, and then because it was the weekend, it was the ER for the next two days. Back to the infusion clinic for the final 2 days. All the nurses were great, and it was a pretty pain free experience, at least compared to the pains I was trying to get rid of. I tolerated the 'roids pretty well.

I did feel aggressive, and I lashed out more times than I can remember, mostly about stupid, non-important things. I was crabby, impatient, depressed, anxious, and tired. And a taste in my mouth that I'd imagine would come from... licking a tire-iron?

After my third early morning infusion, I got five hours of sleep in the middle of the day. It was glorious, and I will try to remember how I felt waking up, for as long as my brain will hold it. Indescribable!

Terence has been great through all of this, and I am so lucky. So very, very, very lucky. He did his best to keep me calm, to not take my insanity personally (that's a big one!), and helped me so much with everything. I was feeling so guilty for being sick when he had planned this beautiful vacation in Maine for us...but like a trooper, he adjusted the travel plans, we waited to see how I felt, and after that last infusion we were able to go. I was tired and a bit wiped, but we made it. It was absolutely beautiful.

I'm addressing wedding invitations. They look beautiful. I am so excited about getting married to Terence, because it just feels so right. (Haha, it's like the best idea I've ever had! Good thing he had that same idea!) About every 5-7 minutes I think about what a difference a week can make in a life. Without getting TOO philosophical, I am just glad things worked out the way that they did. I am glad I went on the hunt for another doctor, and found the lady I found, instead of waiting for Mass General guy to call back. He DID eventually, at which point I told him, I was already being treated for an exacerbation somewhere else.

The daily Copaxone injections seem like a breeze now, after IV infusions. So that's good. :-)

I'm back to cooking! In all honesty, I feel like the beginning of this health episode can be traced back to "when I ceased to bake and cook". I don't know exactly when that was, I just have a sense that it's been about 2-3 months of me not feeling quite right in one sense or another.

So today, I am celebrating. I am celebrating the recovery. I am celebrating Terence's new job, which he seems to enjoy so far. I am celebrating this amazing, rich, smooth, New York Cheesecake Ice Cream I just made this morning. All day I've marvelled at how much better it is than store bought ice cream. Gaby gave me the ice cream maker last Christmas, and it's so much fun. It's extra exciting to realize how much money one saves by making it at home. My repetoire is not huge yet - so far only Nutella Gelato, and this Cheesecake business. The great thing is that the quantity is a perfect little tupperware, so no reason I can't make 2-3 flavors a day.

Now I just need to get that herb garden going too - that's my new peeve. Fresh herbs at the store are super expensive, and you never end up using the whole pack before it goes bad. Time to get a-plantin'!!

So, it is with blissfully renewed energy I resume my teaching. I get on the darn exercise bike every day to try and get rid of the steroid weight that inflated me, before I have to fit into the wedding dress at the fitting. I am vowing to take things as they come, to take it easy. To do things that make me happy, and keep me calm. :-) Like dance lessons with my love. :-)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Reluctant update!

Where the heck have I been? Good question.

Lots has happened. I've been to CA and back, started the new MS injections, stopped the new MS injections, and started them again. Terence got a new job, I signed with a new Music Academy, Amelia finished Agility Training Class, Mom came to visit on her way back from Sweden...

I haven't felt much like writing recently. I can't see very well. My eyes seem to bounce around, causing vertigo and general blurriness. I'm frustrated and confused as to why I can't just feel....WELL?! Just for a little bit? Then, on top of that, I feel guilty for feeling bad, since I know things could ALWAYS be worse. Maybe it's the weather that's making me so crabby.

Daily injections are an adjustment. The injection itself is pretty easy, and the only time I get overwhelmed is when I think of the fact that there is no end in sight. It's not a temporary thing, and that is hard to get used to.

On that note, I do have more to say, but still don't quite feel like writing. I'll try again later.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Two Weddings and a Charlie Horse!

Why do I love "Law and Order" so much? It's such a creepy show. I think I love it because it's such a loyal companion, always there. Terence just dropped me and Amelia off at home, after getting called into work for the second time today. Barb had a BBQ today, and we didn't even get there till 6pm because of the first work emergency. And now at 10pm, the second emergency. Oh well. It was time for me to go home anyway, I am exhausted and was starting to cough. I felt bad for everyone else though, people were having a nice time, the fire-pit was going, and the dogs were calming down from a good three hours of intense play.

I can barely hear the "Law and Order" dialogue over Amelia gnawing on her rawhide.

My voice is coming back. YAY! I think the vocal therapy helped. The doctor gave me a "new way to breathe", it was very interesting. Anyway, the voice is not 100%, and now on top of it all I have acquired a nasty cold. I'm hacking up a lung. But at least I think there is hope for next weeks singing gig.

Still no feeling in my legs. Boo! They feel super strange, tingly, but painful, and yet numb at the same time. I can't figure out how to describe it. I do feel a bit unsteady, but so far they are still functional legs. Still don't have my medicine. Sigh.

I'm now going to brag for a moment about Amelia. Earlier today when Terence got called in to work, and we had to turn the car around, I started craving cookies. But I was definitely feeling fatigued, and was not too eager to drive to the store for cookie dough. So, for whatever reason I think baking from scratch is the less energy consuming option...until half-way through I realize I have no sugar. So, off to the store. I didn't want to have to put Amelia away in her crate for such a short trip, so when she though I was gonna take her for a walk, I gave her the "down-stay" command. I figured as soon as I closed the door behind me, she'd mosey over to the couch, or to her bed. I came home about 25 or 30 minutes later. Imagine my surprise when there she was, STILL in the down-stay position. She literally had not moved an inch! I was shocked! I gave her a treat, and she STILL didn't move. Of course! I forgot that we have a release word for a down-stay. She was waiting for me to tell her "all done!" When I finally realized that, and gave her the command, she glared at me, took a treat, and flopped down in her bed!

And to bring the story full-circle...the cookies turned out ok! Of course, the moment I was about to put them in the oven, Terence showed up and was ready to go. Typical timing! I threw the dough in a bowl, and brough it to the party. Then I realized I had forgotten to put in vanilla extract. WHY does that always happen? I always read the WHOLE recipe, and still somehow, I manage to leave out ONE damn ingredient. Usually it's something that's impossible to add after the other ingredients have been mixed. Luckily, adding vanilla wasn't too hard.

Have I mentioned today how lovely it is to be free of that god-awful Nordstrom job? It's awesome. I am convinced that place is responsible for this episode that's got me numb from the waist down. Since I quit, I've gotten a lot of new piano/voice students, started volunteering at the Accelerated Cure Project office, and gotten to actually see friends and socialize! Amazing. How was it possible for a measely 15 hour/week no-brainer retail job to be so detrimental to my entire LIFE?

Mom is being a busy bee back in Sweden. Since we made the decision to have a second wedding, she is going nuts with planning BOTH weddings. Here I was, thinking a nice traditional ceremony in the church, followed by a SIMPLE reception in the afternoon, in the community hall, or something. But no. Mom has already sent me links to "cakes", and is asking about the "band", and talking about possible "appropriate" reception halls. She seems to have a very set idea of what a wedding should be like. :-) Sometimes I think it's stressful, but then I remind myself that this is an exciting time for a mom. Our relationship has definitely improved recently. We talked today about how hard it is to find a good guy in this world. I am very, very lucky. I have great parents, and a great fiance. Great friends, and great pets. My health COULD be better, but all in all, I'm doing ok! So, cheers to that! Speaking of "Cheers", I am looking forward to our first glass of wine in over a month! I think we'll open up the Ridge 2005 Zinfandel, before it passes it's prime. Apparently the '07 Zins are what's hot. We better start catching up!

I'm signing off. I have a toe cramp! Goodnight!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Speed Limit As Posted

The following is an unpaid advertisement for "the Furminator".

We have been less than diligent these past few weeks, about brushing our cats. And by "weeks", I mean "years". I vaguely remember using a furminator once before...but I don't recall ever owning one. Terence bought one a few days ago, so today I tried it out on Littles. He immediately adored the attention, and the fur-removing sensation. And I swear, even after 30 minutes of brushing him, each brush stoke was delivering half a handfull of hair. There was enough fur to create at least 4 new cats. Littles now looks at least 4 lbs thinner!

LOST, the final episode, is on. I don't know what to think. It has been a phenomenon in ridiculousness, I'll give them that. And I suppose if they do manage to wrap this up in a non-stupid manner, I will be impressed. Oh, look... everyone who was dead, is now alive. And making out with each other. Wow.

I cleaned the guest bathroom today! Seems like a lame thing to be excited about, but seriously...the way I was feeling? It was a big deal. I feel like my left leg has a cement cast on it. I think today, for the first time in my life really, MS feels real. At one point this afternoon, I wanted to lie down, right on the carpet in the hallway, and just stay there, eyes closed. I feel slow, and my hands have been fumbling. I hope I can wake up tomorrow, and things will be better. Today was rough.

As Terence and I were driving to the airport to pick up Lauren and Travis today, I noticed this sign at the toll station. "Speed limit as posted." Why would that sign ever be necessary? Wouldn't it have been better to NOT have that stupid sign, and instead POST the speed limit? When is the speed limit NOT as posted?

So yes, Toby's parents came home today, and he is home. It was certainly an experience to have a little mini houseguest for a week! He was very sweet and loving, albeit, a barky guy at sleepy-time! I think he had a lot of fun, and Amelia did too! We practiced our agility stuff, snuggled on the couch, chased around on the grass...I am going to miss the little guy! Time to catch up on some sleep, haha!

Lauren and Travis brough us back this awesome cookbook! I can not wait to start making some of those dishes! It might have to wait a little bit, and I'll have to pace myself...the weight loss has been going well, but I could be better about it. I spend all my time being jealous of Terence because he is so diciplined. He does his work out every single day, as if his life depended on it...and I TRY to, but I have a hard time motivating myself when my leg is numb, and all these other things feel wrong with my body. I should just stop making excuses and do the best I can given the circumstances. Maybe I'll go back to Phase I again tomorrow. That should get rid of some extra pounds.

Wish me luck tomorrow! At 9am I have an appointment with a voice therapist, to try to salvage my singing voice. I need to remember to bring quarters, since my last trip resulted in a parking ticket.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"Puffy Tacos"

I realized today that having a blog is not just fun and games. For me, it's apparently essential, if I want to remember what I did yesterday. The day before yesterday? Forget about it.

The weather is getting really nice here. Summer seems to have arrived, ready to blast me with some vitamin D.

Chloe just ate a lot of tape off of a packing box. Thankfully it took a whole 30 seconds for her body to reject it, and she hurled it back out in a lovely puddle of white foam.

The consulate called a few days ago to see if I could sing at a Swedish National Day event in SF on June 6th. I had a heck of a time deciding what to do for several reasons: 1) I can't sing at the moment, 2) I already had a trip booked for the following weekend, and 3) my students' recital is that very same day. But has all been worked out. Except for telling the boss lady that I won't be at the recital...I don't feel too bad about that since...neither can 75% of my students. And since she's only given me 4 students during the course of this whole year, I can't shake this feeling of entitlement!

In summarium... (is that word? It should be.) I will be singing at the Consulate event, provided my voice kicks back into gear. I was mainly worried about it being nodules on my vocal chords, or a hemmorage, but the kind doctor who shoved a camera down my throat by way of my nose showed me, in a personal little documentary on a screen, that my cords were indeed fine. At first I was relieved, that it wasn't nodes. But then I became UNrelieved, when he said it could be MS related. I had never heard of MS affecting the voice itself. I know it can screw up speaking, but I always assumed that would be a muscle disconnect in the face, keeping you from forming the words. He said that possibly a nerve could have been severed in the brain, that controls some part of the vocal registry. As I sang some notes for him, with the camera down the throat, it looked like I was clenching up at around a C. The space got visibly smaller, which is the exact opposite of what it is supposed to do for higher notes. He referred me to a voice therapist, and I'm going to go see her first thing Monday morning. I am really hoping she can impart some magic, so that this performance on the 6th of June won't be lame...I would be very very sad.

So healthwise, things are a little rocky at the moment. I noticed at the doctors that my blood pressure was back up again. I've been taking the medication religiously, but I have also noticed that the headaches are back. It's so frustrating. Nobody knows the cause of the hypertension. I think I am definitely more scared of that issue, than I am of the MS. That said, it is undeniably frustrating also, feeling like my legs are doing strange things. For the past 3 days my left leg has made its way into total numbness, following a period of pins and needles. I can't explain it well at all, it's like the surface of my leg, from my toes, all the way up my back, is numb to the touch. But INSIDE my leg, I feel weakness, and pain. How weird is that!!? Today I have for the first time in my life felt like my balance is worse than normal. Again, I know I shouldn't freak out. It's hard not to when I think about how I've been off MS therapy for over two years...and we're about to start some dance lessons for our first dance... I try to tell myself that dancing or not dancing at ones wedding, ultimately isn't what is important. But somehow it would feel like a definite loss if I made it this far with full mobility, and I were to lose it right before my wedding. Call me superficial...Oh well. I have a "numb bum"!!

Along those lines, I ordered and paid for my Copaxone. Enough bullshit. Enough phone tag. I was on the phone for over 4 hours with Shared Solutions (the support company that sends out injection training nurses etc.) and Caremark (the Specialty Pharmacy that seems to man their phones with redneck imbiciles.) For over 6 months I've been trying to work out how to get financial aid from...well, anywhere. The obstacles are too many to count. I wanted to scream (and I kinda did...) when "Joe" told me "your co-pay is really high" (I know this.) and "we should look into getting you some financial aid" (We've tried that.) Literally every time I've tried to pay for the drugs, and get them shipped, I've been passed off to their Insurance Aid Department, where they have promised me a call back "in a few days". And each time, that call has informed me that for one reason or another, I am "ineligible in my state", or they need "more info" (usually info I've given at least 3 or 4 times...) ...then when I've called back the original number to pay, they've "closed my account" because it "took too long" for me to get back to them. And whose fault is that?!

Back to square one. There is an actual SINKHOLE developing in square one, that's how much time I've spent there now. Yesterday I told "Joe" that I could care less about being connected to the financial aid department that will just send me on a wild goose chase, then make me call back after I've been rejected, to find that my account has been deleted. No thanks. Take my credit card number and let us get this shit-show on the road. That'll be $972. Thanks, and goodbye. Now the "home injection shipping department" is supposed to call me on Monday to set up the first delivery. Then once I have the 30 shots, I have to call Shared Solutions back, and tell them to send out a nurse to tell me what the heck I'm supposed to do next, even though I think by now I can figure that out. And so we will begin the daily injections. Fighting MS - take II. I keep telling myself that it can not possibly be more difficult than taking that bloody Avonex intramuscular shot every week, and the 5 years of depression, pain, and trauma that followed.

I ordered a new phone last night. I was all excited about all the different options. I was let down when I realized it would be stupid to get anything other than another Blackberry, considering the sheer number of chargers we own for this particular phone. I got a black one to replace my red one, and I'm hoping I will note a considerable improvement in performance. Not based on the color, of course. But maybe, just maybe, it won't drop every single call I make, after two minutes. It has taken great self-control to not hurl that piece of crap into the windshield of my car. Last time I did that, it just bounced back and hit me in the face. Thank you, universe.

I'm hungry. Bobby Flay and this other chick, are making "puffy tacos". I really, really would like a puffy taco. I don't particularly care for the term "puffy", but I'll let it slide, in favor of deliciousness.

Terence is at a working interview down in some remote little MA town. Swampee? Swinsay? Swansee? Swimpee. Something like that. I am sure they will love him. Another clinic that first told him no, has now called back and may have an opening after all. That one is much closer to where we live, and it sounds like he would be happy there. I am sure one of the three that are currently on the table will work out, but I think we'd both be extra happy if it were the one nearby! Moving is a pain in the ass, and expensive as hell. But it would definitely be worth every cent and effort, if Terence can find a good work environment.

How do these blogs get so long? I'm not going to have any readers, if I don't start either being funnier...or at least quicker to the point.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Taxis & Night Terrors

I feel quite content. Terence is at his Tuesday meeting tonight, so I decided to indulge a bit. I ordered myself a hawaiian pizza, poured myself a coke, and cozied up on the couch to watch the Law & Order marathon. From the moment I was done eating, I've had a snuggly Toby on my lap. In fact, he is still there, hidden under a blanket, and it's hard to type like this! I tried moving him gently, and he would drag his sleepy head, blink a few times, and mosey right back to my lap. Adorable.

Met with a new student today, and it went pretty well. I've been pretty impressed with the number of studets that this Music company has made available. It's strange to work for an "online" music school, but I have to say, it's working a hell of a lot better than the Academies I've signed contracts with. I am still baffled that music school in this state all seem to run on academic semester schedules. It doesn't make any sense to do private lessons that way- overly complicated. It's been ONE year since I got "hired" by the academy in Lexington. I have 4 students there. Total. And yet they expect me to keep "availability", in case more students come along? How about not hiring me, unless there are students to teach?? Then I got hired in Newton. But apparently, like the Lexington school, there won't be any students for me until fall. What on earth are these people expecting me to do in the meantime? Twiddle my thumbs, while making no money? Awesome.

Now I have another interview for a different school on Friday. I have kind of lost faith that this one will be "different"...but...I feel like I should at least check it out. The person running it is at least not Russian. I am discovering that Russian pianists who run music academies and I, don't necessarily get along. Cultural differences? Anyway, it's hard to know exactly how to proceed with getting more students, pending Terence's job situation. If we need to move, I don't necessarily want to drive an hour every single day, for just a student or two. I also don't want to (nor can I, by contract) abandon the students I have acquired thus far. Getting life, location, students, parents, traffic, and finances to all line up? Tricky, indeed.

I saw Laurin on Sunday! She is so much fun, seriously. We went with Terence to Thai food, but he got called in to work halfway though. We were counting on him not being gone very long, so he took the car to the clinic. After dinner, Laurin and I went to get some ice cream. (I was convinced that there is something wrong with my tastebuds. The butterscotch seriously tasted like RUM.) And here is where the night got odd. We eventually wanted to go home. Terence was still at work. (and as much as we like ice cream, they don't offer overnight accomodations at the ice cream parlor.) So we called a cab. The guy who picked up the phone sounded a little ... "off". He was mumbling unintelligibly, as I tried repeatedly to give him our pick-up address. Finally, he huffed that "it would be 20 minutes." At least that's what it sounded like.

40 minutes passed, and then the driver called. (Now, I am seriously suspecting that the guy on the phone and the driver were the same person, because they were both practically impossible to understand.) Either way, the driver says he is at "52 Massachusetts Avenue", and is wondering where we are. I tell him that we are at "1752". Not "52". He starts making a fuss and grumbling, tells me to "wait", that he is "on his way", and hangs up. Right then, Terence calls. He's done at work, and on his way home, offering to pick us up. At this point, both Laurin and I are a bit weirded out that a cab is taking forever, and getting lost. Plus we don't want to sit in the ice cream parlor anymore! So we tell Terence to come get us. Here is my FAVORITE PART of the night. I called the cab driver, and told him not to come. That it had simply taken too long, and that our original ride had finally shown up. I guess I was sort of expecting a "thanks for letting me know", since we technically are under no obligation to wait for a CAB that was busy getting lost. Instead, the guy starts yelling at me. He goes on about how it's not fair, that I wasted his gas money, and now he drove all this way for nothing. He got super hostile and kept repeating that he'll remember my number. He seemed to think I called to make other arrangements AFTER I spoke with him the first time, just to be an ass. I asked him "WHY would I CALL you to let you know, and save you the extra distance? I could have just left without telling you! All we know is that we called a Waltham cab, and we are in WALTHAM, and it's been close to an hour, and you've gotten lost. I didn't realize the ticker starts running the moment we place a call...and where the hell were you dispatched from? New York??" I was fuming. Great to know I can never call a cab in Waltham again. Ugh!

Breathe. Let it go. OK. Done.

Our cats are serious terrorists. I was wide awake between the hours of 1am and 5am this morning. Here is what happens.
11:30pm - Toby is not happy in his crate, so we move his crate next to Amelia's crate. His barking becomes reduced to whining. Amelia could care less. Terence is snoring. Cats are still.
12:07am - Toby is silent. Everything is silent. I fall asleep.
1:30am - Kosmo comes into bed and hurls his massive body weight onto us, purring at roughly the decibel volume of a circle-saw.
1:45am - Enter Little Man. Throws HIS massive body onto us, scaring off Kosmo in the process.
1:47am - Kosmo retaliates by scratching at some invisible thing over by Terence's nightstand. 1:50am - Chloe begins snoring really, really loudly.
2:30am - Kosmo steps on my head. Little Man falls off the bed.
3:10am - Little Man steps on my head. Kosmo falls off the bed. Chloe begins 15 minute litterbox dig. Repeat this particular sequence for the next 55 minutes.
4:05am - Cats wake up Toby. Toby begins crying. Amelia could care less. Cat acrobatics have not ceased, or even slowed.
4:06am - I sit up, and say something to the effect of "I can't take this anymore" and break into hyperventilation. Terence kicks all three cats out, one by one, closes bedroom door, and tells me to lie back down.
4:07am - I am convinced the guest bedroom is open and Little Man is going to eat everything fabric and plastic in that room. Terence goes to check. Terence returns, closes door.
4:08am - Kosmo begins loud meowing and clawing at closed door. Toby's crying escalates to barking.
4:30am - I open door to let feline guerrilas in. I feed them, in an attempt to buy their cooperation. I exit the room. I open the dog crates. Toby ejects himself like a bat out of hell. Amelia is still sleeping, doesn't get why we are up at 4:30am. I take them out to pee. Amelia is still asleep.
4:45am - Both dogs fall asleep on the couch. I watch infomercials.
5:30am - I fall asleep.
6:30am - Terence leaves for work. I sleepwalk back into the bedroom. Dogs in crates. Cats asleep in their beds.

The end.

Right now it's 9:45pm. I anticipate the circus is due to begin again soon. Speaking of, where the heck is my fiance?!

And another random question before my computer shuts down...why is there no power running through my laptop charger? The same thing was happening earlier, and I switched outlets. It worked for a bit, and now it's not working again. Very strange.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Who needs a calendar!?

I do. I'm a moron. (And no, I don't need anyone to chime in and back me up on that.) If I could just learn to read...

I went to PetSmart today. Why? Because I thought the Banfield Fundraiser was today. When I went back and checked the email from my friend, it was right there, clearly stated: SUNDAY. Apparently my subconscious deemed that to be a lie. Or, maybe it was just wishful thinking, since I didn't have anything on the agenda today? I still plan on going tomorrow, but seriously...would have been nice to have saved a trip. I felt like an idiot, because I convinced my friend April to come with me and Amelia, while her dog was being neutered. Oh well, it was still a productive trip. Amelia is very happy with her new stuffing-less fuzzy fox toy. She is LESS happy with her new "Gentle Leader" muzzle collar...but she's been pulling forward a lot lately, so this will hopefully help her walk better in public!

And now, some more medical madness brought to you by Hypochondriac Ann. (that's me, in case you hadn't noticed.) It's always something. Still don't have my voice back. It's not noticable when I speak, but I can't sing a clean note above a C. Had to turn down a gig at the Consulate yesterday, which was very sad for me. I am nervous that it's serious, because of all the horror stories I've heard about nodes on the cords...but have an appointment this coming Thursday to get it checked out. I'm trying to stay relatively calm, at least till then. I am wondering if MS can affect the voice. I haven't heard of any cases, but since MS is the stripping of the myelin around the nerves in the brain, and the brain is in charge of well, EVERYTHING...then there is no reason why the vocal cords would be immune to the same type of destruction that can affect memory, eyes, legs, skin...I'm still convinced that the itching was MS acting up, triggered by stress. It has now translated into almost complete numbness on the right side of my face. I am constantly checking that my facial muscles on that side still work, and they seem to. I just can't feel anything touching me on that side. It's a very odd...feeling? Lack thereof, rather. When I smile I feel like I'm only smiling on the left. When I apply eyeliner, it's kind of a crap shoot, because I can't feel what I'm doing anymore.

It may be more than just my face. My arm feels a bit strange too. And when I work out, my foot falls asleep completely after a few minutes.

I just want my medicine. I can't afford it. Having the meds would make me feel like I'm DOING something to prevent symptoms from becoming debilitating. I am scared. Not panicking, but scared. I become nervous that the wedding will be affected. Sounds a bit shallow, doesn't it...I know it's impossible to predict MS episodes, but I just hope that it will decide to leave me alone on my wedding day. The last thing I want to think about on that day, is MS. I know it's a part of our lives, just like anything else, and will be forever...but I want to FEEL that first kiss on my lips as husband and wife! (Although I guess if it's just the left side....that's still better than nothing!)

OK, gotta pull myself together. Enough whining for today. Hey, at least I don't work at Nordstrom anymore!

Tomorrow is TOBY day! We are babysitting Lauren and Travis' little weeeeenie pup for 10 days! I can't wait! Amelia is going to be so excited! The cats probably won't be as thrilled.... but they'll live.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Blondification Begins!

I spend SIX hours at the salon today. Six HOURS. That's how long it took them to start me on the road from darkness to light. I was paranoid the whole time that once the rinse finally happened, I'd be orange. I kept telling myself that if that happened, at least it would be Giants fan friendly. Either way, we're halfway there, and I'll be going back in 3 weeks for another head of foils that will hopefully bring us to the blonde I've been envisioning.

We got the "agility kit" for Amelia today, and sadly, it was kind of lame. I thought it would be sturdier that it is. The tube for her to run through is, well, a nothing majorly wrong with that, but the high jump is flimsy. The poles are thin and flail around. Oh well, we can still make it work I think. We also got about 30 grapefruits from Terence's grandmother. 30 is a lot of anything, but when you are looking at grapefruits, it's really overwhelming. I don't know what to do with them.

Apparently, the drama is continuing at work following my departure. It's quite amusing to hear about it, knowing that I will never be going back there. It's the most incredible feeling.

Little Man ate my shoestring yesterday. I am usually very vigilant about keeping the apartment Littles-proof, so I don't know exactly what caused my lapse. But I haven't been able to relax since then. I am checking the litter boxes, scanning the carpet for shoestring-puke...nothing yet. We are just hoping it doesn't get stuck anywhere in his indiscriminating digestive system! He truly is a miracle cat.

I went to IKEA yesterday, with Mariel. I was really looking forward to the meatballs at the cafeteria, but I'll be honest, I was let down. They tasted...mass produced. I know that sounds stupid- it's not like I'm under the impression that a little Swedish gnome is in the back, hand rolling meatballs at every IKEA...but still. I feel like there has been a steady decline in quality over the past few years. Maybe it's the service...I don't know. Something is off. I can say with a fair amount of certainty that my diet has been working though. Before the diet, I'd polish off that entire plate of meatballs, at all costs. Potatoes too. And yesterday, I just couldn't do it. I'm not eating like every meal is my last anymore. I gotta say, I never would have predicted that. Yay! I've managed to take the "panic" out of food consumption! There is hope for me! I shouldn't have bought that nifty little wicker kitty cottage though...the cats have ZERO interest in it. Boo.

OK, back to watching TV. Terence was doing 30 minutes of step aerobics on the Wii while we were watching Flashforward. Yes, the clicking sound that marks the steps is annoying, BUT, I really admire his dedication. I know I couldn't have lost ANY weight without his cheerleading, so I really am grateful that he is around to keep me at least somewhat well behaved.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Crap Cakes!

OK, what just happened...? I just spent 20 minutes trying to log in to this blog. First I was told I had the wrong password (strange!). So I tried a whole bunch of times, still pretty sure that I knew my password since I type it in every day (right?). Then I got redirected to another email address (what?), and then when I managed to change the password, I somehow got logged in as a follower of my own blog (huh?).

I made crabcakes today. They weren't awful, but I was a bit thrown off by the distinct lack of mayonnaise. (I was just as confident about the presence of mayonnaise, as I was about the password to this blog... strike two...) Then to make matters worse, I made the rookie mistake of not reading the directions all the way through before dumping all the ingredients in a bowl. In went the breadcrumbs. Then I read "form the mixture into patties and roll in the breadcrumbs". I was at a loss as to what "additional" breadcrumbs the recipe was talking about. Damn it. I suppose it could have been worse. A few extra breadcrumbs never killed anyone. But I'll admit, with all those internal breadcrumbs, the patties were a bit resistant to also being covered in breadcrumbs. Alas, I barreled onward, making this weird sauce out of NOT mayonnaise. I combined sour cream, buttermilk, ketchup, mustard, lemon juice, and some random spices. Not very good, but could at least visually pass for "sauce appropriate for the likes of crab cakes."

I feel like I am leaving something out...something culinary. What else did I make today? Oh yes- how could I forget...this morning's craptastic buckwheat pancakes. The only thing that made them worthy of the title "pancakes" was the fact that they were made in a pan. The appearance of the batter was "wet sand". The texture of the finished pancakes made me think maybe I could maybe pitch it to NASA, as shuttle engine insulation. The only salvation? I threw in some semi-sweet chocolate chips. Terence however, seemed to have no major problem with my NASA Chocolate Insulation Cakes. I think he is just happy that I am showing interest in cooking again! But seriously, lesson learned. Buckwheat went out of style in the 50's because it's disgusting. End of story.

You know, I do make good pancakes. And after today, I've concluded that if you are doing a diet, like we are, don't try to mess with the things you love. In a way it's like make up. If you're gonna spend money, spend it on foundation. If you wear cheap foundation, it's bad for your skin, looks crappy in photos, and starts smudging after 5 to 6 hours. But spend 60 bucks at Chanel or Dior, and it will most likely feel and look great. Eyeliner, however? 99 cents at the drug store. Nobody will ever know the difference. Now back to the diet. Use lean meat. Make mashed potatoes out of cauliflower, use splenda...but when it comes to pancakes, cookies, and desserts? Chanel, all the way.

Happy Mother's Day to all you Moms out there! I tried to hint to Terence this whole week that Amelia, Littles, Chloe and Kosmo might "need some help" preparing for Mother's Day, since they have no thumbs, and don't really have any money for hallmark cards or anything. Plus, they are terrible spellers. But it's 8pm, and I think my hinting fell on deaf ears. Sadness. Hrmph! Maybe next year I'll just have to start hinting earlier, maybe around Easter. Or maybe I should give 'em all a second chance, as Swedish Mother's Day isn't till the end of the month...are you reading this Terence??

Amelia smells. It's bath time. We played outside today, doing more jumping. She is so awesome. Hopefully the agility kit will arrive tomorrow, so I don't have to lug the wine racks outside everytime we want to practice...

Last night we went to our buddy Travis' New Music Concert at Brandeis. I must say, it was awesome! I have so much respect for composers. Travis' piece was very intricate, yet excellently tied together, showing true compositional talent. "New Music" can be very challenging to listen to, and on occassion can end up sounding like it was just a bunch of sounds thrown together. The true mark of genius to me, is making unconventional ideas work together to still sounds like something. Yesterday's concert was all around great, but Travis' work was particularly memorable. Lauren's cake was memorable too! It looked like a real snare drum! It was crazy! She is so talented! People literally didn't dare touch it, it looked so good!

Talked to Mom today. She had been to visit her aging aunt in the old folks home. This is the aunt who is convinced that I've given birth to twins, sometime in the past year. Mom set her straight last time she visited, but today, she was at it again - asking how they were doing. Geesh. Maybe I should have mom bring her aunt a photo of Amelia and Little Man, and next time she asks about the her how hairy and adorable they are.

I think I've decided to blondify myself again. Scary. But better to do it now right? As opposed to a week before the wedding?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Freedom! Sweet, sweet freedom!!

I finally did it! I quit "that-company-I-can't-mention-by-name-as-they-have-forbidden-employees-to-have-negative-opinions-in-a-gross-effort-to-supress-free-speech". (Hint: This company claims to be one of the top three companies in America to work for. Google it?) After an enormous fiasco where I was treated pretty badly by both a co-worker and a terrible manager, I took the evening to contemplate. It was definitely time. In a little chat on Thursday, the manager told me that I needed to make like a trillion dollars per hour in order to be "safe", in spite of my "improvements". So in short, the false accusations plus the worthless schedule, plus the threat of termination...quitting was a pretty good option, right? I feel amazingly free. I highly recommend this feeling for anybody who is considering leaving a bad situation where you are not appreciated. I did feel bad because I liked most my coworkers, and I just met some wonderful customers. I know I provided excellent customer service but sadly that doesn't really seem to matter in that department. I called our assistant manager to tell her that I will miss her and that she is doing a great job. She is really a wonderful leader and motivator, and a stark contrast to our largely incompetent and manic-depressive manager.

I called HR in the morning, and was pretty emotional. They listened to what I had to say which was nice. I am still contemplating sending a letter to higher management in hopes that it can alert the right people that our store is falling significantly short of their vision for a "great company to work for". Ultimately, I'd like to think that I was just unlucky in terms of which store/department I ended up in. I have heard from others, not every place is like this, which is a small comfort.

Just to make the situation hilarious, as I was talking to my coworker while in the grocery store...guess who turns the corner. Yep, the manager. She lives in my apartment complex, but I've never seen her there, OR in the grocery store. But of course, the day I quit, there she is, like the ghost of employment past...I quickly shoved my head into napkin section on the nearest shelf. Not exactly the first person I'd want to see under the given circumstances. Thank god for those napkins. Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

It's great to have to not go in for my shift today. It would have been 2:30pm to 10:30pm. Instead I am home with my wonderful fiance, and all our animals. Had a great night's sleep, and was awakened by an awesome thunder and lightning storm, which was very cool. Then I made us some South Beach Diet approved Asparagus and Ham omlettes with spinach and goat cheese. They were good, but I have a hard time eating savory stuff for breakfast. Although overall, I am getting a good handle on my usual cravings...all I wanted today was a Nutella and Strawberry Waffle with whipped cream. But hey, two weeks ago I would have thought it the end of the world, and been really upset that I couldn't have it. Now at least I don't feel so dramatically about the matter. And that is perhaps the most important change this diet has brought.

It was a good day indeed, yesterday. Following my resignation from NoNamestrom, I hung out with Mariel on the lawn for at least 2 hours, and Bella and Amelia got some serious outdoor time. The weather was amazing, and I soaked up some Vitamin D, which I know would please my doctors. I showed Mariel, and our darling 85 year old upstairs neighbour lady sitting on her balcony, what Amelia has been doing in Puppy Agility Class. I set up a hurdle with a broom and an empty wine nerdy am I... but it was fun! Both Bella and Amelia were such good dogs! (And yes, after we came inside, I did order the Agility Starter Kit for Amelia...)

Last night we saw Bill Burr in Boston, and it was a riot. I am a sceptic when it comes to comedy shows. There has to be brains behind the jokes for me to have a good time. But last night was great! Sure, there were some drunk-ass losers there who didn't hear the jokes because they were roaring like buffalos for no reason...but Bill Burr was funny as hell! Even the guy who opened for him was awesome! I had never heard of either of them, so thank you Terence for a great evening!

And now...? Back to my cozy rainy Saturday. I'll get some reading done. If Chloe will get off the bookstack. Catch up on some television. We've got a great line-up: Rules of Engagement, a movie or two, Modern Family, Grey's Anatomy, LOST...snuggling with the kitties and the Muffin...maybe I'll bake some chocolate cookies later. To give away of course.... ;-)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Manic Monday!

I'm not feeling too chatty today...But that is not a bad thing! I wasn't feeling so hot yesterday and the day before, so today is an improvement. I wasn't at work yesterday, and whoa, did that do wonders for the psyche! I feel refreshed, detoxified, and what-have-you. I now realize more than ever that I simply can't torture myself by staying at that job any longer.

And there is something else that has cheered me up! Although I didn't realize this, the wedding planning was really getting me down. I have always had a vision of what my wedding would entail, and there was just a lot of "not possible", and "well, compromise" happening. Too much in fact. Well, now I've found my compromise. We will have a joyous grand party in the fall, and we'll be wed before friends and family...and then next summer, we'll do it all again, in a little white swedish church, as I've dreamed. It will be as swedish as can be, and I won't feel like I had to give up who I am, in order to have a functional wedding. And another dream of mine? Taking adorable wedding photos on a yellow tandem bike on Hven, as we cruise through the fields beneath the bluest sky in the world! And to top it all off, all this, while marrying the most wonderful man in the world! I mean SERIOUSLY, what guy do you know that would take such care to cook delicious meals, in support of our diet? Clean the bathroom, do the laundry, FOLD the laundry?? Walk the dog when I don't feel well? He is one of a kind, that's for sure. (OK, enough bragging!)

Easy day today. Playing with Amelia, snuggling with the cats, trying not to eat things NOT on the diet, teaching a lesson in half an hour, then a quick bite with upstairs neighbour, before puppy agility class! I don't know why I'm so cheery today...I sound manic! I am really just envisioning my life without a certain dreadful, torturous job...and it's making me giggle like a schoolgirl!

I had a break in my insurance troubles today! I got a reply from my tax guy, who told me he is going to give me the papers I requested tomorrow. That will be the last puzzle piece (hopefully) in getting some financial aid for the outrageously expensive MS meds. And hopefully I can get started with those in the somewhat near future.

How long are we going to have to boil our water? And why are there so many mixed messages about the "water emergency"? Some people are saying it doesn't affect our town...but then why would every store be sold out of bottled water? This makes no sense.

Sharks won again last night! Libby and Barb came over for dinner, which is always a good time! I can't wait to try out some new recipes on them in the coming weeks! Haha! Ooo, I should see if they are interested in the Boston Water Taxi Doggie tour! Apparently this boat takes dogs and their owners to this uninhabited island where the dogs can play, and we can picnic etc. Sounds amazingly fun to get a group together!

I feel like an ass for missing dad's birthday yesterday. I had the time difference wrong between here and Malaysia. I thought they were behind us, twelve hours, but turns out they guessed it! Twelve hours ahead. Ugh. To add to my incompetence, I sent the birthday cards kind of late...oh well. I miss my dad. :-(

Thursday, April 29, 2010

This is Shark Territory!

OK, today didn't COMPLETELY suck, and I feel it is my duty to report that. The crappy situation with the student's mom seems to have been resolved, at least for the moment. I got my deposit back from the outrageously exploitative beast that is Arthur Murray Dance Studio. How do those people sleep at night with what they charge??

The diet still sucks, but a lot LESS so when your fiance is coming up with delicious recipes and cooking amazing meals for you at the end of the day! Terence made amazing lettuce wraps, with bell peppers, onion, sauteed beef, and cheese...made me so happy. I was super hungry! Now we are watching the Shark's tell the Red Wings how it's done, with little fuzzies sleeping all around us. 3-1 in the second quarter...exciting! I love seeing how excited Terence gets about hockey, and the Sharks. He missed one goal while he was in the bedroom, and when I yelled "goal", man, did he move fast! He jumped over the kitty gate like an Olympic hurdler. There is something very comforting about leaning against him, as he runs off a stream of sports commentary....ain't love grand!

I felt a little sad earlier, to not be getting married in Sweden. It feels strange to be the first female in my entire family to NOT hold nuptuals in the little white church in Glumslov. I know the option has been there all along, but it didn't seem fair to everyone else, or to Terence for that matter. Part of me wishes I could have things both ways. I wonder if there is a way. And on that all a good night.

Cranky Panky

I don't want to teach today. I got a call from a Musika representative yesterday, telling me that a mom is disputing charges. She is saying that the kid only had ONE lesson. Which is technically true, if they hadn't told me 5 minutes after the lesson was supposed to start, that the kid doesn't want lessons anymore.

Now I find out she is claiming that I knew about the cancellation ahead of time and had "recommended" that the kid stop lessons because his "hands were too small". What the hell? Nothing wrong with the kids hands. I was IN her house, AT her piano, and had already taught the older brother his 30 minute lesson. She told me about the younger brother not wanting lessons, DURING his lesson time. That's what I call a "same-day cancellation". I guess what it comes down to is that this woman is refusing to pay for her son's temper tantrum. How am I supposed to just show up at her house today and teach the one kid, knowing she is lying to my employer? This just sucks.

Yesterday was sucky. Work was awful as usual. I got yelled at by my account executive for something I have no control over. I have been off work for 5 days, and she wanted to know why I hadn't made more appointments for the upcoming events...since she called 4 days ago. I guess they expect me to make phone calls from home now?? Geeze.

I'm a crabby bitch these days. I don't know if it's the diet, or what. Could be the MS I suppose. Mood swings and depression are part of the deal, I hear. I just wish I could pull myself together, so I'm not a miserable fiancee to Terence. This god-damned itching is unbelievable. Between the hours of 4am and 6am, I am awake, and my whole body is covered with bruises and marks from my scratching. My mind races, and I can't sleep. Every noise seems exaggerated. I can't lie still.

Yesterday Terence's family cat passed away during surgery. He was only seven, and a wonderful little orange guy. He had a lot of health problems. No more suffering for Winston.

I am enraged by the news of cats in the area being doused with gasoline. I hope whoever is doing this is caught NOW. Too bad dousing that individual with gasoline isn't an option. I would volunteer. Everyone knows that cruelty to animals is a precursor to serial killing. I'm so angry.

I don't like V8 juice. Tastes like soup, which is fine, if you're expecting SOUP.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Feline Obseity

The chances of a cat being too fat for the opening in a cat tower? I don't know the exact stats on that, but it seems pretty unlikely. Cats are sleek, graceful, slender creatures. Aren't they?

Here is the reality: All three cats went to explore the middle portion of the new cat tower. Each kitty took a turn shoving their front ends in. Each kitty got hopelessly stuck in the opening. Were we shopping in the kitty "petite" section?? Ugh. So right now, I am trying to muster the motivation to go get one that has a bigger opening. Should I return this one first? Or get the new one? Just to compare? Or should we just put the kitties on a diet??

I have cold feet again, and I'm still itchy. And I'm not looking forward to the South Beach Diet. But it will hopefully result in more energy, lower blood pressure...and less cravings.

Speaking of cravings....This weather we are having makes me want to live in Sweden. I don't often get that overwhelming feeling of being homesick, but the other day it was pretty strong. I'm not sure exactly what it was that I was missing at that moment. (At any given moment however, I miss socialized healthcare. In Sweden, I'd have my MS medication by now.) Maybe it was just the way the rain was falling. The way the grass smelled. The simplicity.

Actually, that might just be it. I miss the simplicity. America is undeniably amazing in so many ways but there IS a price, I think. It might just be that I got old, but nothing is simple anymore. Getting a doctor's appointment? Impossible. Calling a customer service number? Everything involves an "application", a "wait list", a "proof of purchase", an "automated phone menu"...the list goes on.

OK, I don't know what that last paragraph was really about. I got all pensive, suddenly! OK, Ann, stop being pensive, and start being productive. Take your pick: deal with the financial aid application (again), return the cat tower, go pick up your prescriptions, go to the gym. Those are your choices today. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hello Stilletto!!

It was a wonderful party last night! It was the Annual Boston Hello Stilletto Ball - a fundraiser for MS. I haven't been able to find the energy to do much of anything recently, and I was worried that I'd poop out at 10pm...but I didn't! And I stayed in my wonderful Kenneth Cole stillettos all night long - and my feet weren't even the least bit upset! I participated in the "walk-off" and was handed the magical number "69" which of course triggered a shockwave of giggles throughout the event. My shoes, fabulous as they are, were not what I would call "outrageous" or "fantasmagorical", so I figured a creative presentation would at least entertain the audience and judges! I gotta be honest, there were some amazing looking shoes! I would have chosen different winners, but hey, the judges were from the shoe industry and I guess are looking for "most thought provoking" as opposed to "most asthetically pleasant"?

We ended the evening at the Top of the Hub, with the glittering city of Boston spread out like an open jewelry case far below us. Add to that a perfectly baked piece of french brie in a sweet balsamic fig sauce, and an impeccable glass of was delighful. John and Michael are so wonderful to hang out with, and we had many good laughs, as always! Terence was a sleepy guy, but looked super handsome in his tuxedo! I'm so happy to have found someone like Terence. I can't wait to be his wife. There was a girl, also with MS, speaking yesterday. She talked about how when she was diagnosed she lost her fiance. He couldn't handle it. At my time of diagnosis, I felt much the same as what she has described. I have since come to conclude that nobody is bound by obligation to stand by you in tough times. While the diagnosis happens to one individual, it would be selfish to just assume that everyone around you is unaffected. The only difference is, others CAN walk away from something like MS, while if you're the one diagnosed, you're stuck. People will always do what they think is best. And in some instances, "leaving" is the best thing a person thinks they can do. Things have a way of working themselves out. I am a living testament to that - and so lucky to finally have found the right man, at the right time. Hopefully the girl who spoke yesterday will find that the best is yet to come, regardless of MS.

Today...Red Sox game! It's quite nice to have nothing on the agenda, as that is quite unsual these days. With Kosmo here on the east coast with us, it's constant entertainment watching the animals interact! It's going really well I must say, with the only conflict seeming to stem from Chloe and her diva mentality. I think Little Man really enjoys having a step-brother, and Amelia...? Well, she is so mellow, and loves everybody! Tomorrow is puppy play date time!

I need a dresser. Urgently. Tomorrow morning I am going to hurl myself down to IKEA I think. I have come to realize that the reason it's become so hard for me to tidy up clothing and general stuff is because I lack the space to put said items. If there is a space for everything, then there'd never be a question about where I should put things! So...make that....two dressers. And one cat-tree.
Ugh. I'm still super itchy.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Warning Labels

Gold Bond Anti-Itch lotion needs a warning label: Do not use around cats.

If it had a lable like that, I wouldn't be bleeding from the head. Little Man took a wiff of the lotion when he came up to snuggle, got all crazy, and swiped at my face. I turned away at the last nano-second, so he sliced me right behind my right ear. I supposed that beats having my eye socket excavated.

Alas, let us put the feline blitzkrieging aside. The underlying problem, the reason for Gold Bond being in our home to begin with, is this insatiable itch. All over my body, like a thousand mosquito bites...minus the mosquito bites. At first I thought this was my inevitable punishment for naked housecleaning. Five days and some internet research later, I find posts from thousands of MS patients, telling tales about waking up with bleeding shins, from nights of scratching. They are all describing the "MS-itch", moving all over the body, relentless crawling, bordering on pain.

The internet is a dangerous tool for hypocondriacs, not that I'd ever admit to being one. In fact, I feel that people diagnosed with MS should enjoy immunity from being labled hypocondriacs, because of the nature of their disease. Just because I have MS doesn't mean I won't keel over from a heart attack or stroke. It just means that any strange thing that happens to my being, could be one of two things:

1) It could be MS.
2) It could be something else.

Just to keep things complicated.

I don't think it would be a ridiculous assumption to self-diagnose in this case. This "MS itch" other patients are describing? It fits. It's been four days now and no sign of relief through benadryl or lotions, or cold showers. The solution? To mentally restrain myself from scratching my skin off. Easier said than done.

Tonight! We're going to the Accelerated Cure Project's Hello Stilletto Ball! I'm excited! I have no idea what it's going to be like, but can't wait to find out! I am such a sucker for "Black Tie Optional" events.

So in order to not be an OCD basketcase get crackin' with the to-do list.