Friday, November 20, 2015


My 2 days in Vegas were a whirlwind, but there is one event that will stay in my heart and mind for a long time. I have been trying to find the right words . . .

Wednesday evening, after a day filled with friends, reunions and great meetings, I decided I was going to be brave enough to play Blackjack. For real. With actual money. I found a table that had an open seat with very kind players and a dealer who was GREAT at teaching. As I got into my groove, a young man sat down in the remaining empty seat next to me and began to play. Being several drinks in (they were free!) I was chatty and we exchanged names and small talk. I detected a Middle Eastern accent. We reached a pause in the game when the dealer needed to shuffle the cards. Out of the blue I had a question I needed answered, so with my liquid courage, I asked where he was from. "Syria" was his answer, but there was defensiveness in his posture and voice. Then I asked, "Have people been kind to you since . . ." and I didn't know how to end the question. He ended it for me, ". . . since the war? No. They tell me daily to go back where I came from." He went on to explain his family fled several years ago to escape persecution, and they now manage/own a gas station. I was stunned. I know this kind of cruelty happens, but to have the proof in front of me broke my heart. I said the only thing I could think of, "I'm so very sorry." He smiled a sad smile and turned back as the next round was dealt.

This will haunt me for a while, mostly because it has me wondering what I can do to make the world, or at least the world around me a kinder place. I don't know that I have an answer, but saying "I'm sorry" seemed like a start.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


Isn't it funny how there are periods when sleep comes easily and lasts all night, and other times you sleep in fits and spurts, never quite sinking all the way in. The latter has been my reality the last week. I think my preoccupation with Nora's Marine graduation AND preparing for the largest forensics tournament of the fall semester AND being buried under a mountain of grading . . . well, it's no wonder I wake up at 3:30 am and can't get back to sleep.

So, this morning I got up (at 3:30!) and after a cup of coffee, decided I was going to tackle the grading for one class before I had to shower and leave for the day. I'm kind of proud of myself that all those papers are graded - it's a weight off my chest!

I still have 30 minutes before I need to get ready for the day. So I'm going to savor this cup of coffee, enjoy the morning news, and gear up for a GREAT DAY!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Proud Auntie

In August, my niece Nora began a great adventure. She traveled to Parris Island, SC to begin Marine boot camp.  I feel I need to point out that Nora is 5' 2" of stubborn determination. You can see her determination on this picture captured by the Parris Island photographers:

Last week, she completed her final test as a Recruit: The Crucible. It is 54 hours of 45 miles marched w/ 45 pound packs, more than 40 combat and problem solving exercises, 6 total hours of sleep and just 3 MRE's. At the end of the Crucible, Nora became a Marine.

So this weekend, my sister and family will travel to Parris Island to see Nora graduate. I'm sad I cannot be there, but I know there will be photos and texts and phone calls to come during Nora's 17 days of leave. I am so damn proud.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Depression is a Mother Fucker

Late last fall, I started feeling blue. Through winter, the world began to lose its' color. It was as though every thing I was passionate about became sepia toned. And I didn't really care. It was a literal struggle to get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes I made it to the shower. Sometimes, I made it just to the couch, calling students to re-arrange coaching . . . again. I did not want to leave my house. There were weekends I would get in bed on Friday and not get out again until Monday. I wasn't just falling apart at home, it was showing in my work. I procrastinated until the point I would frantically pull whatever project needed done together in a half-assed way and pretend it was what I intended to do. I did shitty work. And my faith suffered. And my relationships too. I became nearly a recluse, always cancelling plans last-minute because I could not find the desire to wash my hair, put on clothes and leave my house to join friends for dinner. Mixed in with this apathy was anger, but I had no idea where it came from or where to direct it. So I ended up hurting people and alienating people I care about. . Except I was so far into depression denial I didn't even care.

In late April, a dear friend came to me and wanted to know what the hell was going on. And it dawned on me, I might be depressed. See, I've always had anxiety issues - which manifest themselves in very different ways than depression. Anxiety symptoms I recognize. Depression at this level was new to me. So in May, I went to my doctor. We discussed several scenarios, one being that the anti-anxiety med I had been taking for about 6 years might not be working any more. So, the plan was to taper off my 40 mg (max dose) of Celexa and taper on to 300 mg Wellbutrin. It would take about 3-4 weeks before any change might be felt. 

At week 4, the shit hit the fan. I became so sad that I was even less functional. I would cry (ugly, chest breaking, hard tears) at anything. If I had to share an elevator in my apartment building with someone, I would cry because they probably thought I was weird. ANY positive or negative story someone posted on Facebook would have me crying for hours. Several times while driving, I would start crying and have to pull into a stores parking lot to calm down. I started having really negative thoughts. The scary negative thoughts. And I knew I needed help or I was going to be in trouble. I called to make an appointment, and was crying so hard the receptionist got me in with a specialist within the day. As I sobbed through my medication history w/ the doctor and was terrified that she wouldn't understand just how sad I was and that I didn't know why I was so sad. But this doctor knew her stuff. She took a look at my medical chart and was unhappy that I had been taken completely off the Celexa (anxiety meds). She said that combining Celexa with Wellbutrin was actually a well known combination that worked really well for people with both anxiety and depression. I started taking Celexa again that day, and within 2 weeks, I had stopped crying. As the days passed, I slowly began to live my life again. I could get out of bed. I was meeting deadlines at work. I was leaving my house more often. And then one day in June, I realized that without even trying, I was having a really good day. A happy day.

It's been 4 months since I got my depression and anxiety under control. There was no way I could blog through that. I could barely brush my teeth most days. But I've been thinking of it the last few months, and I think I'm feeling good enough - stable enough - to start back. The color is back in my world, and with words as my paintbrush, I think I'm ready to open up once again.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Plague

After being quite sick for several days, I think the antibiotics have helped me turn the corner into getting better. Temp broke last night, and I had a blissful full night's sleep. Today I'm simply grateful to be feeling better!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


It's official. What started as a cold last Friday has progressed to a sinus infection/ear infection. This is the downside to being on Humira. I can't have just a simple cold. My damn immune system isn't strong enough to fight it, and it ALWAYS turns into something worse. So as I sit here wrapped in my electric blanket, sipping orange juice, thermometer in my mouth (last check, temp was down to 100) I'm going to try and find some things to be thankful for . . .

1. Grateful for doctors who listen when I tell them why I need an antibiotic even if they are wavering on the idea. I know my body, I know once I've reached the point of fever and constant cough, an antibiotic is the ONLY thing that is going to help me get well.

2. Grateful for doctors who patiently explain why one antibiotic would be better than what I'm usually prescribed. (For the record, I'm on a 2 week course of Clarithromycin)

3. Grateful for doctors who understand when I explain there is only 1 cough syrup that works well enough for me to get some sleep. Even though it's the "strongest stuff made" and "has a street value" (which the pharmacist explains every. single. time.)

4. Grateful for Kleenex. Grateful that I bought 2 boxes on Saturday, because I've already gone through one.

5. Grateful for EOS lip balm.

6. Grateful for 7-up and orange juice.

7. Grateful for antibiotic gel, which should prevent a case of skin infection around my poor nose.

8. Grateful I have lots of books to read.

9. Grateful I have a recliner I can nap in.

10. Grateful I don't have to leave my house again until Saturday.
Ready to fight the plague.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The frozen Tundra

Since it is 8000 degrees below zero, I figured I should start a grateful post for coffee. Specifically, decaf coffee - because that's what I'm currently addicted to during this cold spell.

I'm also really, really grateful for my rheumatologist, Dr. S. The rheumatologist I'd had for years retired last year. I nearly drowned myself in tears b/c I loved Dr. A. so much, and I was irritated someone was going to replace her. Dr. S. is a great doctor, though he is a man of very, very few words. Getting him to string together 5-6 words in 1 stretch is pushing things, but he's good at what he does, so I just go with it.

Today, I had to go in for bi-lateral cortisone injections in my knees. Just as Dr. S. told me he was getting ready to begin, I sat up, and with a panicked voice asked if it was too late for an epidural. And you know what? He laughed. Out loud. For several seconds. I had never even seen the man smile AND I MADE HIM LAUGH. As thrilled as this made me, it was tempered by the fact he is retiring in June. So, once again, I will have to adjust to a new doctor. I hope she/he's one who will laugh at my jokes! 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Grateful I don't have to build a fire . . .

Because I don't know how anyone survived when it was -24 wind chill livin' out on the prairie in a log house. I might add, I'm grateful I can control the heat of each room of my apartment independently. That means I can crank up the heat in the bathroom before I take a shower.

And I love love LOVE my electric blanket.

It's a bitterly cold night, which I can hear via the sharp cracks the wooden decks make (and are so loud they make me jump every time) in the bitter cold. I'm grateful I'm on my way to curl up in warmth under an electric blanket with a kitty snuggled up to my feet, keeping them warm.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Great Googly-Moogly

Good thing I didn't actually make any New Year resolutions, or I'd feel guilty about forgetting to make a grateful post yesterday. Instead, today I have 2 reasons to be grateful . . . and they are . . .

My love of reading AND my Kindle! Supposedly I was 2 when I could read my first book (Santa Mouse) but my mum is pretty sure I had just memorized the words. In any event, my love of reading emerged early and with startling dedication. My mum tells of numerous times she would be trying to get my attention, but I had my nose so far into a book I didn't listen. I have run into the following (numerous) list of things while reading a book or my Kindle (cell phone reading run-ins are not included in this list!): a door (several), a wall (several), a car, a bike, a dog (several), a cat (several), another person (erm, several), a stop sign, a curb (flat on my face), a parking meter, a lamp post (yes, really), a park bench and a trash can. I still love reading, it is my refuge and my escape. I've sobbed harder reading books (when a certain friend died in the HP series, I cried for almost 2 days) more than any movie or TV show. I've also laughed louder reading them than watching any movie or TV show!

This leads to the next thing I'm grateful for . . . my Kindle! I've had mine for about 3 years, and before I got it, I would never have imagined I would like reading from it. I always swore I needed the feel of the weight of a book and the smell of it's pages. But as I get older, I can't imagine reading without it. Firstly, I'm able to make the font large enough for my old eyes to read! And second - and most importantly - it's easier to hold than a regular book. There are days (in the winter, especially) when the strength needed to hold a book open with my fingers just plain hurts. It's wonderful having the kindle that I can read for hours without my fingers aching.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to my latest James Patterson novel . . .

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Grateful for sleep

I need a lot of sleep, perhaps more than the average person. I try for 9 hours a night. Obnoxious, right? But if I don't get enough sleep, I end up with several awful things happening. First, my psoriatic arthritis flares. The link there isn't directly sleep, but stress from lack of sleep. So more sleep = less arthritis pain. Getting enough sleep also keeps me healthy. It's almost a guarantee that if I am getting less than 8 hours sleep for longer than 4-5 days I will get sick. The lack of sleep directly taxes my already fragile immunity, and sickness can take hold.

So, I'm incredibly grateful that I have a lifestyle that affords me the opportunity to get enough sleep. Some judge my need for sleep obnoxious, see it as a weakness. But when I let that judgment get to me and forfeit sleep, bad things happen - so I've stopped caring what others think. I've learned to listen to my body and what it needs, and more times than not, I need sleep!