No more Banana Bread…

One of my favorite treats is eating some delicious banana bread at a country café.  My favorite type is oozing with ripe bananas, some walnuts and cinnamon.  This is now a beloved memory after I finally went for allergy testing.  I thought, like my mum, I might have a protein allergy.  Chocolate, eggs and cream gave her fantastic welts on her forehead – often spelling Mars Bar.  She would swear blind that she hadn’t had chocolate but I always knew.  Finally, she would break down after my interrogation, laughing hysterically.  One little cousin had allergies to almost everything but has grown out of some of them.  Over two years ago, on the advice of a good medical friend, I stopped eating gluten.  It was difficult but I now have a very healthy diet full of walnuts (allergic), bananas (allergic), cinnamon (allergic).  My friend was correct and I am also allergic to wheat, yeast, peaches, cashews, almond and mustard.  Who the heck is allergic to bananas??  I can’t bear the smell or texture of seafood but am allergic to nothing (unless it has a mustard sauce…)

My diet is mostly vegetarian but I have no allergy to milk or meats.  On a side note, I received a note from Ancestry DNA to say my profile had changed again.  To my surprise, I am 3% Basque, which might explain my lack of Spanish DNA.  The Basque people are ethnically unique from their neighbors, France and Spain.  They come from a very ancient group of Europeans and have more Neanderthal DNA than most (as do I).  Many years ago, on a trip to Madrid, I looked with trepidation at all the Basque terrorists on the “Most Wanted” posters, hoping that the customs officer wouldn’t notice they looked like my siblings. Perhaps I should embrace my hunter/gatherer origins and just eat the squirrels in the garden?  Luckily, I am not Epi-pen allergic but should avoid certain foods or start the allergy shots.

I was quite overwhelmed by the lovely comments on my post The Biopsy, and I am happy to say that my tardy results finally came through.  Nora, the thyroid nodule, is not malignant.   Dear reader, you may wonder why I am having so many health issues right now.  My recent Covid infection provoked some of the doctor visits but I am also trying to catch up on yearly tests that I avoided during the pandemic and before our ‘good’ insurance stops soon.  My husband retired two years before he could claim Medicare (next May) so we have taken advantage of his last work insurance.  COBRA is a US scheme that allows you to continue your last work insurance for 18 months, at your own cost. 

Recently, I saw a new doctor at our practice, and it was just to ask for a referral to physiotherapy.  She thought that perhaps my incessant coughing during Covid triggered my cervical pain and numbness again.  She said, “I see you have spinal stenosis”.  “I do?” responded Kerry, having completely forgotten about that diagnosis.  When we lived in Scotland, I became a minor celebrity at our local orthopedic hospital because of my strange spinal problems.  It’s likely congenital and what a gift my relatives have given me!  Mental illness, high cholesterol, dodgy spine, allergies and Lord knows what else.  They also gifted me great skin, good legs and an amazing sense of humor.  You take the good with the bad…  That doctor suggested allergy testing after I expressed some frustration that I ate more fiber than a heifer but still have digestive issues.

My Glorious Live Oak

When I was being poked by the allergy nurse, she asked if I would like environmental testing also.  “Why not?” said I.  This one was less fun – I could feel one prick throbbing almost immediately.  Bottom line; I should not live in a humid forest.  I am most allergic to OAK – you can see the beautiful live oak outside our house, above.  Then there are three water oaks behind my house.  Few of our neighbors have oaks.  When I came home, I pointed at Miss Live Oak and whispered, “YOU!!!”  Don’t worry I will cuddle her next week, perhaps with a mask on.  Almost all the molds were ticked – who knew there were that many??

Teddy and I were talking about getting a horse and wagon, given the gas prices, but we will have to switch to an Ox.  I am allergic to horses but not cattle.  I don’t think the neighbors would mind a lovely Ox on our shared pasture…  On a creepy note, I am allergic to COCKROACHES (and dust mites)!!  Our trusty bug guy came out last week because the cockroaches were getting out of control.  As soon as he left, dying cockroaches were crawling up walls and making me ALLERGIC!!!  There is very little dust in my house because I have OCD – et Voila, another silver lining.  I will now take bareback horse riding off my bucket list.

Walnut, Sycamore, Sweet Gum, Cottonwood and Cedar trees are on the list.  Ragweed, Russian Thistle (Que?), Sagebrush and Marsh Elder also make me itch.  Maybe Greenland might be a good place for me to live or just stay in the house as I currently do.  I am seriously considering the allergy shots because I would like to enjoy my beautiful environment more.  On a funny final note, Teddy and I were herding ducks across the four-lane road at the end of our cul-de-sac.  Our beloved Muscovy ducks at the pond have decided to visit all their friends in our street.  I stood in the middle stopping the traffic and Teddy hopelessly tried to herd them across to the pond.  At a street birthday party this week, I discovered that other neighbors have also been herding ducks/halting traffic.  So far, there are no dead bodies (human or duck) on the road and I am not allergic to either!

Three Act Play

Life has been unintentionally hilarious in our house and I thought I would share our silliness.

ACT ONE

Scene – Teddy had to have yet another cardiac test and he confided in his ever-loving wife that he was ‘a bit fed up with his health issues’  Instantaneously his wife transmogrified into Nurse Ratched.

NURSE RATCHED (screeching) –

“How many times over the years (40 to be exact) have I suggested that you moderate your bad habits?  I hope you enjoyed every bloody cigarette, bottle of Pinot Noir and all those business lunches!  Every time I said something to you, you responded that life was too short and it is all about quality of life not quantity.”

(Nurse Ratched pauses for breath)

“You had your quality of life and I hope you REALLY ENJOYED IT!!  How dare you complain about your self-inflicted health problems!  If you hadn’t been married to me you would be DEAD by now…like our friends X,Y and Z.”

(Nurse Ratched is incredibly relieved to shed her Joan of Arc armor and reveal her truth.  Teddy looks stricken…)

Before anyone panics, we laughed about this afterwards and it is even funnier when I reenact Act One.  I have returned to the Fantastic Frau who manages Teddy’s future life with German efficiency.  Even better, Teddy has had the all clear from the cardiologist and doesn’t see him again until 2023.  Woo hoo!  He still has to stick to his Leibchen’s regimen (no salt/no alcohol/no caffeine) but the anomalies noted on the tests were just age-related cardiac problems.  He is actually fitter than most 64-year-old ‘first world’ men.

ACT TWO

Scene – Teddy and Kerry were watching the News and much of it was depressing.  We are so angry at our Governor in Texas who would like to turn our state into a Taliban province.  Women’s rights are going down the toilet and I don’t even have to mention gun sales. The conversation started cycling downwards into a “should we have moved here – what is wrong with American society – pretty soon it will feel like living in a central American war zone”

Kerry – “Well, aren’t we prophets of doom?”  she said laughingly

Teddy – “Maybe we should get DC-13 tattoos?”

Kerry falls sideways in hysterical laughter…

(DC-13 is a reference to MS-13, a notorious gang of immigrants from El Salvador, who settled in Los Angeles. Sometimes they emblazon MS -13 on their foreheads.  They also tattoo teardrops under their eyes to show how many kills they have made.  Most streets in our ‘hood’ are what an English friend referred to Dingley Dell names.  Bluebonnet Bayou, Live Oak Lane, Primrose Pond.  Our cul-de-sac has the worst name.  It starts with a D and ends in Court.  No one, not even the locals, can pronounce it as it is French – WHY?  Every call to a utility company is a nightmare with Alpha, Bravo, Delta spellings.  Puffy the Pine Cone is our cute township mascot.)

Kerry – “What do we do about the tear drops?

Teddy – “How about little pine cones to represent the poor little critters that have passed away?”

Kerry (Giggling) – “We could wear tasteful taupe bandanas with little pine trees on them.  I could have a titmouse tattoo on my breast!”

(That made Teddy collapse in laughter as Kerry had previously given him a visual image aid so that he could remember the name of the little grey bird with a crest.  Now I just need to touch my breast and Titmouse comes to his mind.)

ACT THREE

Scene – Kerry regularly emails with her friend who lives right across the road.  The last two emails from the friend have ended up in Kerry’s spam box.  She retrieved them and they discussed why this happened.  The friend thought that perhaps it was mention of colonoscopy in the thread?  The title of her next email made Kerry laugh out loud.

Email 1 – your auto warranty /cheap Viagra pills/ lose weight fast/fix your credit rating

(This slipped right past the spam filter – why???  Much hilarious laughter from Kerry who responded)

Email 2 – Filthy sex video…

Email 3 – Horny Housewives have huge hairdos

Email 4 – Walk in Tubs/ Secret Medicare Benefits/Discreet Incontinence Pads

Email 5 – Humongously hung hunks hoovering houses

Email 6 – Real Romance with Racy Ravishing Russians /Relaxing Rubdown for Rubels

Not one was caught by our spam filters!  You can see that our excellent further education was not wasted.  The alliteration, imagination and vulgarity!

Sometimes you just need to see the ridiculous side of life.  Hope I made you titter… 😊

Postscript

It’s probably not necessary to explain the title photo but it was Halloween and we were in ‘quality not quantity of life’ stage as you can tell by the beer/pinot noir belly and my double chins…

Rain Dance

Why didn’t the early settlers to America pay attention to the giant hint about catastrophic weather events on this continent??  The indigenous people had a ‘rain dance’ because we have cyclical episodes of drought all over the two continents.  If I had faith in my ability, I would do a rain dance on my back deck because I am so fed up with watering the garden.  My sprinklers haven’t worked for a couple of years but I decided during the Pandemic that I would use a hose and be the Greta Thunberg of my cul-de-sac.  Our water bill tells me that we are doing the right thing, especially raiding the laundry basket for yesterday’s clothes…that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it.  One of the things I loved about Egypt was that it was really hot, not everyone had access to water or deodorant, the trains were jam packed and you had to get used to body odor.  It was a sharp acclimation moving to the States – why do people get washed before they go out for a run in Texas humidity? I can smell their Gain detergent on their cute little outfits about half a mile away.  Just go out stinky and have a shower when you return.  The only friend who felt as I did was brought up in the South African bush and didn’t wear shoes until she was 12.  She walked the dog with her dressing gown on…my kind of gal.

Like many of us, during the Pandemic, I watched TV until I was square eyed.  I can’t tell you how many National Geographic and Discovery documentaries I ingested.  Any archeological program involving LIDAR gets me excited. LIDAR is an acronym for light detecting and ranging.  Briefly, the technology allows you to scan a wooded area, for example, and remove the trees digitally to reveal the remains of structures. There have been many recent discoveries in central and south America, showing that there were huge Mesoamerican ‘cities’, for want of a better word.  The biggest had hundreds of thousands of people and they were connected to other cities.  The Amazon is not virgin rainforest but more a peek into a post-apocalyptic Manhattan.  Imagine decayed and fallen skyscrapers overwhelmed with a forest canopy.   I was astonished to find out that the Amazon was ‘plundered’ before – once or perhaps more.  Vast cities with complicated infrastructure and agricultural methods.

The reasons for their decline are varied but mostly it was climate change made worse by a huge population.  If there is no rain, you can’t grow crops and you can’t feed the disgruntled people.  At worst war or disease or famine then decimate your population but in the case of the Maya, many of the people moved north into the Yucatan area of Mexico or further afield.  In the title photograph, I am ‘dancing’ at a remote pyramid in the Yucatan, devoid of tourists.  The area was surrounded by scrubby jungle full of structural remains that complete the large city complex.  There are so many pyramids from Mexico to the tip of central America that it is obvious there was, at times, a thriving population.  I can only hope that this is a pattern.  As a species, we spread out of control, depleting Earth’s resources but then Mother Nature or equilibrium takes over.  This is my ‘big picture’ theory and I can’t claim to be an expert just a voyeur of life with a very dark sense of humor. Let’s face it, the other species need a chance.

Recently we had the woodwork painted throughout our house.  In the main bathroom, we had all the cabinets painted.  Our fantastic white Corian countertop now looks creamy if not a tad yellow.  The countertops are 18 years old and I considered getting them coated or replaced.  Then I thought, “Is that sustainable?”  Right now, I am still in Greta Thunberg mode, but I might eventually cave and get new countertops to fulfill my naïve American Dream.  Do I need a refurbished bathroom, though?  I would happily spend all the money on a trip of a lifetime but then you have to consider carbon emissions/tax, appalling airports and the possibility of Monkeypox.  If nothing else, our newest spreading disease proves that Mother Nature is laughing at us.  What else can I throw at the horrible humans??  Monkeypox is a bit like bedbugs – really disgusting but you are unlikely to die from it/them.

I had a colonoscopy yesterday and no one really needs to know that.  That said, however, the TWO day Prep and the anesthetic might explain this post…  Teddy and I went crazy today and had two lattes that had caffeine in them.  I can’t stop writing or talking and poor Teddy had another AFIB incident.  This was a minor episode but revelatory (no CAFFEINE for Ted).  My mum died of a bowel rupture 20 years ago and every since, I have been more aware of what I am eating.  I literally eat like a squirrel – nuts, seeds and fruit.  Curiously, I noticed that the seeds were the last to be emitted from my poor body pre-colonoscopy.  Despite my healthy regime (I could power a methane plant) my diverticulosis is worse than it was 7 years ago.  WTH??  To rub salt in my wounds, the gastroenterologist sent me pictures of my colon with a note to eat more Fiber.  If only it was legal to take the notes and shove them up his backside…  On the plus side there was nothing else of note and the nausea inducing ‘elective’ procedure is free.  More seriously – go get a colonoscopy.  It could save your life even if you can never consume lime Gatorade or Jello again.

Resolutions, meh…

I think I can say with confidence that generic resolutions in January should be banned.  We feel guilty for overindulging in the festive season and are determined to become a better, slimmer or more perfect person.  This period of time, between Christmas and New Year, is always difficult for me and I quickly get maudlin.  Regrets fill my head but what’s the point?  January is always a bit bleak even in the tropical south and it is not a good month to start a new regime.  Early humans always faced feast or famine so they didn’t need resolutions.  They were too busy trying to survive.

There is nothing wrong with choosing to be healthier, happier, more creative or whatever flicks your switch.  Most resolutions are a lifelong challenge so a typical resolution puts too much pressure on poor old January…  February is nice and short – why not try that month?  You can even coordinate it with Lent, if you are that way inclined.  Last summer I discovered that my cholesterol was crazy high, so my Summer Solstice resolution was to not die sooner than anticipated.

Inevitably and frustratingly, most people have commented that I am too thin.  I am not, but more importantly MY CHOLESTEROL IS LOWERED!  I have let things slip in December – not so much the squirrel diet but the exercise.  There has been too much imbibing and that makes me want to lie on the sofa watching the Hallmark Channel.  Teddy and I have been addicted to the Holiday Baking Show which hasn’t helped. “Let’s have a drink and imagine an espresso mousse encased in chocolate.”

Here are some of my unfinished or unattainable resolutions from last year –

  • Finish one of the drafts of my two unfinished books and myriad other embryonic ideas
  • Publish my fairy stories
  • Write a book about my cholesterol lowering diet
  • Not behave like a snapping turtle around my beloved Teddy
  • Cook more (I am not a squirrel)
  • Go out of the house every day
  • Look younger
  • Wear leggings less
  • Adapt to retirement
  • Grow my hair long and plait it
  • Read a book or even finish a magazine
  • Go dancing every week
  • Be consistent with blogging

Without plastic surgery, I cannot look younger.  Make-up and fashionable clothes can deceive me or you for a time but then I look in the mirror.  My cholesterol lowering diet was incredibly boring, not worthy of publishing, and that was part of its success for me.  I could, theoretically, go dancing every week but my bed calls out to me so alluringly…like a fluffy siren.  Do I need to be consistent with blogging or writing – who the heck cares except me?

These last two years have been hard enough for all of us without silly resolutions.  Take one little step at a time.  If you fail and drink a whole bottle of cheap red wine on January 7th – just say you are celebrating Orthodox Christmas.  If you are an atheist – just make up a new Winter Festivus.  I don’t want to discourage anyone from making good changes in their life just don’t set yourself up to fail.  That makes you feel twice as bad.  I started cooking BEFORE January 1st as illustrated above – gluten free mini cornbread loaves.  One has olives, one has sun dried tomatoes and the other is plain.  I intend to eat them with real butter and pray to the cholesterol Goddess, aka Olive Oil.

HAPPY NEW YEAR AND KEEP YOUR EXPECTATIONS LOW!!!

Teddy’s Boo-Boo Et Cetera

The God of Health (Valkyre Eir perhaps?) has not been looking after this household.  I thought we had sufficient animal sacrifices; the skunk under the deck quickly followed by a lovely dead rat (“Is hamster?”) First it was my eyes – which are much better and thank you for all your good wishes – and now Teddy’s rather dashing blue stitches.

Teddy went for his annual dermatological inspection and our doctor honed in on this tiny wee mole (a millimeter in diameter) on his forehead.  Over his adult life he has had dozens of moles removed but all were benign.  It went to the lab and within two days the surgeon had removed the basal skin cancer and surrounding tissue.  That is the most common type of cancer and the least worrisome of the skin cancers unless you ignore it.  European immigrants who move to hot places have to be particularly cautious.  If I had a dollar for every time I said, “Have you put sunscreen on and where is your hat?”

His surgeon looked about 14 years old but this is just from our aged perspective…  It’s the same with firemen and police.  She said, “I am just wondering how to place the stitches to fit in with your forehead lines.”  Teddy laughed and responded, “You mean the wrinkles!” The surgeon gasped and said, “We don’t use the W word in here!”  They also perform plastic surgery along with dermatological procedures.  We were delighted at how quick the procedure was and Teddy can now relax (but wear a bloody hat).

Our neighbor’s father has just died of Covid despite being inoculated and our hospitals are full.  I have an appointment with my gastroenterologist tomorrow for a postponed colonoscopy.  I wanted to cancel the elective procedure again but he is not scheduling until 2022, so fingers crossed.  Our air quality in the Houston area has been bad.  Somewhat surprisingly because of Saharan dust and smoke from the western wildfires.  It really is a small world; even smaller for me because I have stayed inside to heal my scratched eyes.

Our floral coleus spikes are magnificent (future post), the raccoon kits are getting bigger and we are awaiting Tropical Storm Nicholas.  This year we don’t really need the rain so they have reduced Lake Houston and we sit praying to the God of Weather, Freyr. Actually, that’s a lie – we will just be watching the weather channel and Netflix in tandem.   My favorite program is Ice Road Truckers when it is hot and humid down here. Our electricity provider has already warned us about the storm and I hope that doesn’t mean they wish to be absolved from potential blackouts.

Hope your God or Gods are keeping you safe and healthy!

Mental illness is a REAL illness


This is not a political post; I am all too aware that the Affordable Care Act was anything but. Unless something miraculous changes in the Senate, mental illness will no longer be included in the new health plan. So…not only do I have a variety of pre-existing conditions but the one that makes me most ill (and yet is least expensive) will not be covered. For some reason, addiction and mental illness has been put in one category. From my work and personal experience, mentally ill people often self-medicate but they are not the same. I have a clearly inherited condition, much like heart disease, and there was no element of choice. I am not criticizing anyone who has an addiction – there is enough blame to go around.

Let’s take this past week. It started on a high with Teddy’s birthday and then rapidly went downhill. Why? Even I want to slap myself because it was no good reason at all. Our roof has been leaking and the contractor took three days to repair the ceiling, leaving me trapped in the master bedroom which has a large bathroom and closet. Toffee (my elderly cat) and I had to go there so that she wouldn’t escape or get in their way. I had great plans; I would write blogs and binge watch girly TV shoes. Mentally I was paralyzed. Thoughts started spinning in my head about how fat and useless I am. I am neither of those things. I couldn’t watch anything other than old Bones episodes because I couldn’t concentrate. Then the physical pain started to set in. When you sit in an anxious state, you start getting cold and stiff – it was almost 90 degrees outside but the air-con was on for the contractor.

I was determined to do better the next day but the anxiety was rising. My thoughts were, “what do I really need to prioritize in my life?” My ridiculous conclusion was that I would be really happy if I got back to 1** lbs. (about 6 lbs. less than I am now). I joined a free weight loss internet club which told me I was already within my BMI range and that I would have to eat 700 calories a day to lose 2 lbs. a week. This is a glimpse into a world of disordered thinking, especially with eating. Then the sciatica kicked in. I was fully aware that I could have sat in the yard, watered the garden or tidied my filing system but again – paralysis.

By the third day, I had drunk a small glass of vodka with anti-anxiety medication because the paint didn’t match (our ceiling has not been painted in 13 years). I spoke to poor, long suffering Teddy who could hear a panic attack coming on and he agreed that we would ask them to leave. Teddy would finish the painting after our roofs have been replaced in the next few months. As soon as the contractor left, I sprang into action, steam cleaning tiles, polishing our leather suite and assembling everything back in the room. My sciatica really hurt after all that but endorphins got me through. All throughout the 3 days and nights, I had horrifying nightmares that meant that I was really sleep deprived despite being in bed most of the time. My eating deteriorated to almost nothing except snacks and vodka. Perhaps I should revise my thinking about putting mental illness and addiction together?

Now it is all over and I am on the way to feeling better. I ate properly, stopped drinking vodka and went walking to help with the sciatica and general good health. Then, I lost my sunglasses. It felt like the end of the world – I searched the house and garage. It culminated in texting my husband in California to see if he had seen them. Finally, good sense prevailed and I ordered another pair from Amazon at $7 – less than two lattes. I am still hugely annoyed at myself for this whole week. Why couldn’t I just deal with it? This is the true cost of mental illness, a life mostly wasted because of tortured thoughts. Mine are benign, as are the majority of people with mental illness. There is real physical pain, too. The only time I felt happy with an illness was when I was in a full leg cast for almost a year. For once people could ask me what was wrong and not be embarrassed about the answer. Sometimes you need sympathy for an invisible illness.

If the act passes without amendment, mentally ill people will end up in and out of psychiatric hospitals or often prisons because they haven’t been able to access regular help at their psychiatrists, psychologists or doctors. In the end that costs more than a quick visit to the shrink.

A spoonful of sugar…

teddy-doctor
….makes the medicine go down. I had great intentions of blogging more frequently but suddenly my health deteriorated last week and I had to go to ER. I have had a variety of nagging symptoms with no real diagnosis until a blood test showed my thyroid was a little under-active. I started taking some medication for this but suddenly, on Wednesday, was very dizzy, nauseous and my heart was beating out of my chest like a cartoon.

I checked to see if these were serious side effects and it said ‘go to ER, immediately’. Since it was evening, I had no other option. All I could think about was, ‘how much is this going to cost?’ I was also short of breath, so the staff at reception asked me if I had a family history of heart disease. I, rather unwillingly, shared that both my parents had heart attacks in their 50s. They were both smokers and alcoholics… The next thing I hear is “56 year old woman, EKG”. Most of us think we are 21 in our heads but hearing that is somehow shocking, especially since history seemed to be repeating itself.

To cut the melodrama short, my heart and lungs are fine. The ER doctor thought that I might have gone from hypo to hyper thyroid with the new medication but had to send off the blood samples for further investigation. They put me on a saline IV drip and gave me some Potassium to drink, as my levels were low. The nurse warned me that it tasted awful and mixed it with Gatorade. Gah! It tasted even worse than the stuff you have before a colonoscopy. With every sentence I sound like an old person. 😱

Other recent blood tests taken my GP showed that my B12 levels were low also. It is still a mystery as to the exact why but the word parasite has been brought up again. I was really trying to avoid my gastroenterologist but having had a parasite in the past, I will really need to do the dirty (to coin a phrase). Teddy took me to ER and sat with me through each boring hour. The doctor had pressed my tummy and I had gas. Teddy said, “Just let it out” and at that exact moment a trolley squeaked next door. He said, “How did you do that?” I was short of breath and struggle not to faint from laughing.

Later he discovered that if he said “Boo!” to me, my heart monitor would skip…oh, he is such a laugh. It did strike me that I was so glad that I have a husband to be with me. How hard it must be to be sick and alone. I have no family for many thousands of miles, with no parents or siblings. My friends have been very concerned and that touches my soul. I am very grateful to have health care through my husband’s job and will await the bill with trepidation. How lucky you are in other countries where you can go to ER without worrying.

Most of the worst symptoms are gone and I am resting at home, dreaming of walking on a beach in the sunshine. Back to blogging soon.

Cersei or just ginger?

cersei2

I dye my own hair both to save money and because it usually turns out a better color than a salon would achieve. Today I used a slightly different mix and as it was processing, my hair started going vivid auburn. Sometimes it does look a really odd color when processing, such as purple or gray, so I wasn’t too worried. Then I rinsed it off. Teddy was in the bathroom and I said, “See, it turned out blonde after all”. His response was, “Cersei blonde, perhaps?” For those of you who watch Game of Thrones you will now know that it turned out strawberry blonde, titian or maybe just ginger. I have dyed it green before and grayish lilac (not the modern Kelly Osbourne style), so ginger is okay. My hair is so coarse that it soaks up all the UV light from the sun and will be a different color next week anyway.

The fact that I dyed my hair at all is a sign that I am feeling better. I had let it go quite white which made me look even more wan and tired than I did before. My last post was about my many miserable birthdays. Quite unexpectedly, this one turned out to be the worst ever. I can’t talk about it because I might consult a lawyer at a later date. Suffice to say, that it didn’t help my current mood. I was convinced that my various symptoms were caused by the menopause and went downtown to the OB-GYN who had done the Vajazzling. Beforehand, I sent her a mini-thesis of symptoms. It was clear that she didn’t really think it was the menopause but prescribed a type of hormone replacement therapy. I have a doctor friend who had suggested this particular combo, so although I wasn’t sure I took the prescription. When I had the script filled, I was horrified that the generic cost $90 per month – this is a drug that has been used for 38 years. I could have said no but thought that a month’s treatment might kick start something. Desperation makes fools of all of us.

That morning I took one tablet with breakfast. I have an element of ADD in my illness, so of course I didn’t look at the contraindications… Later on I did and realized I had just wasted $90. I have a very delicate digestive system from having had undiagnosed Giardia for 5 years (a little gift from the people of Egypt) but the doctor had given me a low dose because of that. The one that horrified me was that I could not be in the sun without sunscreen or being covered up. I need unfiltered sunshine to give me a decent dose of Vitamin D. The next contraindication was that it might cause depression – seriously??? WTF! The next contraindication was acne for which I am being treated by my dermatologist (menopausal acne, of course). I was so angry at myself for not listening to my gut instinct and going to my regular GP who would have ordered some blood work.

It is always difficult seeing specialists and other doctors when you have an underlying mental illness because neither of us can be certain whether it is the chicken or the egg. I think she thought that it was all my depression and I think she could be right. I see my psychiatrist in a few weeks and in the meantime I have stopped caffeine, alcohol and have cleaned up my already good eating habits. After the one HRT tablet my tummy erupted, so that wouldn’t have worked anyway. On a funnier note, another potential side effect was facial hair. I already have issue with middle-aged chin hairs – mine are all white so you can’t even see the buggers. When I mentioned this to Teddy he said (and I knew he was going to say it), “Well, you could always join the circus”. I wanted to slap him but instead I fell on the floor laughing at his bearded lady joke. You’ve got to laugh… 😹

Good news, at last.

Teddy and Bunny Old Tampa Bay

Teddy and Bunny
Old Tampa Bay

This is Teddy and I celebrating his new job which he started this week. It has been a long six months, with illness, bereavement and stress. Thank you to all my followers for your support, especially during some dark days. As many of you know, Teddy set up Gattageo LLC during his unemployment whilst applying for endless jobs. I always knew that he would have to look for a staff job, for health care amongst other reasons but supported him as much as I was able. In the end, it was a former employer, who knew Teddy’s worth, who approached him to join a small geological consultancy as a senior sedimentologist. There is a conflict of interest with Gattageo LLC so it has been temporarily put aside but none of the work will be wasted as he will use it in his new role or in the future.

When we received the contract, I immediately booked a little trip to Tampa in the few days he had left before starting (more of that later). It was a lovely feeling to both escape the biblically wet weather in Houston and just breathe a sigh of relief. The night before he started his new job, I laid out his outfit and he packed his pencils. He was anxious but excited and I felt like a mom whose child was starting kindergarten! We are onto day 3 and so far, so good. He is straight into work and loving that. My meet and greet job is on a hiatus during the hot summer, although I was head-hunted by a cruise line. I think I just need some time to heal and relax.

The first day on my own was delicious but strange. I slept until noon and then returned some shoes. I went crazy and spent that $20 on two tops in Old Navy (modeling blog later). The house is already cleaner that it has been in months and our water bill will increase again… I am still in thrift mode, however, and I doubt it will ever go especially as we are approaching retirement. It has been excellent practice for the strangeness of retirement when you are both stuck together in the house. Now we know that Teddy needs to volunteer or work part-time and Bunny needs the house to herself for days at a time.

I have learned that my chronic mental illness has the capacity to get dramatically worse in times of stress and I need to seek help ASAP (which I did). The medications are already reduced and I feel as normal as I ever do – i.e. a permanent state of slight anxiety with low levels of depression. This is well managed with sleep, medication and plenty of time alone. It struck me that although everyone assumes I am a social butterfly, I really spend two thirds of my time alone or sleeping. If I have a busy day volunteering (4 hours), I might have to go to bed the following day to unwind.

We learned a lot about our marriage and love. The hard work of 34 years of marriage was not wasted. We tried so hard to boost each other up and say we loved each other. It taught us some new skills that we will need for the future. I thought we were already frugal but we could be self-indulgent at times, especially with meals out and luxury items. It is so important to have access to health-care and we did but it was very expensive. If you don’t have good health then life has little pleasure. We will continue to be kind to people on the way up as we have truly appreciated the support that we have received, from strangers to good friends and neighbors. Thank you!

Which eye?

kerry refuge

Do you ever wonder what you might have been in a previous life to deserve the one you have? I think I might have been a serial killer of kittens. No, hang on, that was this life when I had to euthanize Mrs. Stripes’ endless sick kittens. The veterinarian did it – I am not that creepy. Anyway, as you know, life has been a tad stressful recently with layoff and bereavement. Now I can add unexpected eye surgery to the mix.

We were getting all ready to choose an affordable health plan instead of taking Cobra in March and I have been seeing all my doctors in preparation. Today I had my yearly eye exam and paid extra to have that fancy new test that sees deep into the eye. Last year I was nonplussed to find out that I had very small cataracts in both eyes. I am in denial about middle-age… My assumption was that they would take years to develop into full blown cataracts.

Today the eye doctor said, “What can you see on the screen with your left eye?” “I can’t even see writing on the screen”, I replied. Even my doctor was shocked and astonished at how rapidly it had grown. At this stage I am essentially blind in one eye. We are very fortunate to live in the greater Houston area and I now have an appointment with an eminent eye surgeon next Monday. The plan is to have the cataract removed and a lens implanted. I knew it was serious because he held my hand.

Now we have to continue with Cobra, which we are fortunate to have, because this wonderful eye surgeon and my eye doctor are not covered on the new plans offered. Additionally, I went to my GP today because I thought I had shingles (without the rash). That could mean that the surgery would have to be delayed until my immune system is stronger. My incessant itching and upset tummy is a bit of a mystery, however, and despite a barrage of questions (and another doctor’s opinion), it doesn’t seem to be shingles.

Dr. Kerry thinks that my body is just under stress from recent travel across the Atlantic and everything else going on. Certainly my new pirate façade is not helping the stress! The weird thing is that you can’t see anything and that I have not noticed such a massive shift in vision, probably because I had mono-vision anyway. I have just realized that the lucky readers who have a universal health system won’t realize that Cobra is a government funding system that allows you to continue your work funded healthcare for 18 months after redundancy/layoff. You have to pay the full cost by yourself, however, instead of 20% or whatever we paid.

Dang it – one minute it is the menopause, then it’s the eyes! Last week I discussed with Teddy that I only want to live until 75 (an arbitrarily chosen time) but it looks like my parts are wearing out quicker than I thought. That was some black humor. I would feel better if I could drink a bottle of wine but I have to stick to a bland diet until my gastric system settles down. Think of me when you are having your Thai meal with some wine tonight!