Pest Control moved in…

This tiny little bug is commonly known as a junk bug or aphid lion – ain’t she cute? Teddy was admiring our fire bush when he saw this wee pile of debris moving.  If you click on the red link to junk bug you can read a hilarious article about this ‘voracious predator’ – it is about the size of the half-moon on your pinkie.  She is a gardener’s friend; the debris on her back is the remains of aphids and other plant eaters (her victims…).  This little dusty bundle is her larval stage and she blossoms into one of my favorite insects, the delicate green lacewing.

Henrik Mackevicius, Pixabay

Teddy and I get so excited when we discover a new animal in the garden no matter how small.  Below is Leo (DiCaprio), one of our many spotted Anoles.  He loves to sit at the prow of the deck and display his bright red throat flap to attract a mate.  There is so much lizard sex going on in our back yard that we should rename it Studio 54.  There are tiny babies, pregnant moms and horny teenagers (none of them are social distancing).

A few weeks ago I found what looked like bird poop in the garage and I was curious.  It was unlikely that a bird had gotten into the garage which is usually closed and then I saw another poop on the front porch.

The black section is full insect bits and the white part is uric acid (pee)

As I was taking in the groceries, through the garage, this week I spotted a small cockroach struggling in a spider web.  Briefly, I wondered whether I should put it out of its misery but when I went back for the rest of the groceries the roach had gone.  Then I spotted her – we have a five striped Skink living in the wall of the garage.  Woo hoo!  She is now called Skinky because I have no imagination.  They eat cockroaches – what more do you need?  My neighbor has one on her front porch and after I told her how useful they are in our bug ridden swamp, she named her Skink, Tiger.

Jan Haerer, Pixabay

Can you tell that the pandemic quarantine is beginning to wear on us?  My psychiatrist forgot to put in my regular refill for Xanax, WTF!  I panicked briefly then I put my big girl pants on and am back in a Breaking Bad situation with a drawer full of meds.  My friend was laughing at Teddy and me when I shared with her that I refused to share my prescription-only painkillers with him.  She felt that it was a perfect senior couple moment – she’s right!

 

Parasthesia, Prozac and other Poppycock

Parasthesia, Prozac and other Poppycock

This is my third attempt at writing this post; maybe it is the charm this time?  How do I make a post about illness funny or readable?  I thought I would try alliteration and show you the real sign at my front door.  It certainly breaks the ice with new neighbors and solicitors (not lawyers…)   I bought it in Colorado and knew that it was perfect for me.  Life is funny.   As most of you know, I have a mental illness  – variously diagnosed over the years.  It was managed for many years with gritted teeth, therapy and alcohol.  Then we moved to Egypt and I have been on Prozac or something similar since 2003.

For the most part it has been a lifesaver although a much maligned drug.  If it is properly prescribed, it is a fantastic modern medication that my sad mother would have benefited from.  There are side effects, for sure.  The best was stopping my compulsive eating/habits; the worst was ghastly nightmares every night.  Flash forward to late 2018 – I had been having sensations of tingling and numbness in my hands and feet for about 3 years.  I went from pillar to post ending up with an eminent neurologist at a university teaching campus.  Even he could not come up with a diagnosis after three hours of painful nerve tests.

Here is what I do have –

  • An abnormal gait likely caused by an untreated club foot at birth
  • Weakness in my hands and feet
  • Hammer toes
  • Pes Cavus – abnormally shaped feet
  • Tingling and numbness in my extremities – hands and feet
  • A weird mental illness (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Depression, Anxiety)

Here is what I don’t have –

  • Nerve damage in my hands or feet
  • Marie Tooth Charcot
  • Any other obvious neurological condition
  • Any vitamin deficiency

I left his office having been examined by some initially excited medical students who finally looked as perplexed as the Professor.  Did they think it was all in my head?  The irony is that Parasthesia , a sensation of tingling or numbness can be caused by anxiety.  After Googling until my hands went numb (some Parasthesia humor there…) I discovered that it can be a side effect of PROZAC!  Onto my next psychiatry appointment where we decided I would taper off and then quit Prozac while staying on a small dose of Xanax which is an anti-anxiety medication.

It has been bloody awful; not helped by attending a transatlantic family funeral mid tapering.  I didn’t even want to come off Prozac although I don’t miss the nightmares.  It has been a partial success.  The tingling and numbness has decreased although too much or too little exercise can exacerbate it.  Poor Teddy has borne the brunt of my sudden emergence into the real world.  I told him I wanted to stab in the heart when he baited me one day.  He just moved on as though I had made a comment about dust bunnies.  Wise move from a man who knows me intimately.  Road rage overwhelms me, as does life.  It is in vivid Technicolor and I don’t like it without my hazy filter.

With Teddy’s support, I am moving forward slowly like a lizard after winter.  He pointed out that I dealt with the transatlantic funeral, our elderly cat’s slow waltz towards the ever after and some minor household crises.  I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to write anymore but writing the Tumbleweed Fairy was a breakthrough.  Pragmatic is my middle name, so I know that I might have to try another medication or treatment and I am darned lucky to have healthcare.  For someone so unhealthy, I try to keep far away from doctors but I am willing to see one more neurologist to see if we can figure this out.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.  It sounds like a minor problem but imagine it every single day, so debilitating at one point that I couldn’t twist the deodorant tube.  When I worked as manager of a mental health project in Scotland, I was so sympathetic for patients who had physical side effects (tardive dyskinesia) from anti-psychotic medication.  I don’t know for certain what is causing my tingling and numbness but now I have walked a mile in the shoes of many, many people.  On a final funny note, I will never be able to do a sobriety test.  Two doctors had to hold me up while I put one foot in front of the other.  How could I have lived to this age without having known this??  Straight to the breathalyzer for me then…🍾

 

Varys writes a letter…

DSCN1172

Today my Game of Thrones hero is Varys. The elusive eunuch is one of my favorite characters – is he good or bad or neither? He is wily but can be kind. Is he on anyone’s side except his own? If I was made a eunuch I might feel a little impotent – or is he??? Over the last few weeks I have been Varys-like – so many characters to chameleon in and so little time. I can’t be the only person that is driven CRAZY by the endless mail from charities at this time of year. My husband has a kinder heart than me (Jon Snow, perhaps) but I will keep address labels to use and shred everything. We already tithe a large proportion of our income to our favorite charities and sometimes they overdo it.

In the last couple of weeks we have packages from animal charities that I choose not to be involved with such as PETA and The Sierra Club (there is a website that tells you about good charities but I just use my instinct) – so they just go straight into the dungeon (shredding bag). Even the good ones sent too much stuff when you have already given them hundreds of dollars. So, with Varys in mind, I decided to manipulate the situation. You can’t send a check or put on an address label or they will hunt you down, like Arya.

If I like the charity and they have sent a few Christmas cards then I will put $5 in an envelope and wrap it in something weird like the instructions for my Xanax (to make them feel bad for taking money from a poor anxious woman). I wrapped the $5 for a Thanksgiving meal at a Jesus center in my estrogen cream directions. MD Anderson got their $5 (like they need it) in a Peta leaflet. Then on the address label I write something ridiculous like, ‘Have a Happy Halloween’ to religious groups or eet smakelijk which is Dutch for Bon Appetite.

A marketing organization has been subcontracted for this task and it’s a boring, soulless job so I might give them a little chuckle. It did occur to me that they might keep the $5 for themselves but I really don’t care – it’s just a token. THEY SHOULDN’T BE SENDING UNSOLICITED MAIL IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!!! It’s probably obvious by now but I am due to see my handsome psychiatrist this week. I used to fancy him much more but now I have known him for 10 years and we are appropriate ‘friends’. The appointment is a little overdue and it is the day before Halloween so I am going to dress completely in black with cobweb stockings. Maybe a bit too much black eyeliner and a dark lip and see how quickly he wants to up my anti-depressants. I am just messing with him a little…its psychiatric flirting, really.

On a final note, don’t assume that a charity is not working properly if a large proportion of their money goes on salaries. When I worked in mental health, the community project needed to employ appropriately qualified personnel to advocate; run courses; manage a day center or whatever else we did. Volunteers can’t do everything by themselves and it might be harmful to the clients if they did. So in that situation, all the money went on salaries and rent and 100% of the care went to our clients.

So that’s my Varys day – can eunuchs have sex? I had to research this, of course, for literary reasons… See this link – fascinating stuff! http://www.mtv.com/news/1836500/game-of-thrones-grey-worm-missandei-sex-eunuch/