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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Welcome To The Show! I Hope You Brought Your Melted Butter, Or, Come To Think Of It, A Mallet Might Be Kinder.


Welcome to Getting Real With Nance. Today's show will feature Nance Getting Real on a variety of topics, mainly because she's Crabby, Over It, and generally Irked. Let's jump right in and join her Already In Progress, while vacuuming.

Nance: I mean, it just does not matter! I brush them every single damn day, yet all they have to do is WALK INTO A ROOM, and it is covered in their hair. No. Lie. The carpet is covered. The tables are covered. *I* am covered. It is a Losing Battle, this war between me and cat hair. But I refuse to surrender. I will never stop wearing black, either. Never. Never!

Voiceover Announcer: Nance walks into the bathroom to put away towels, setting off a new, but related, monologue.

Nance: Holy crap! Look at the hair in here! It's my hair, it's Rick's hair, it's everywhere. I simply cannot escape the hair around here. If it's not cat hair, it's our hair. How do we even have any left on our heads?! I CANNOT TAKE IT ANYMORE!

Voiceover Announcer: Later, after a frantic and manic bathroom cleaning session left her exhausted, Nance rests in her chair. Unwisely, she browses the Interwebs.

Nance: How hard is it? How hard, everyone? The word is YEAH. The correct spelling is Y-E-A-H. Not Y-A, like you're speaking a foreign language and pronouncing it YAW. Not Y-A-H, like...holy hell, I don't even know why you would spell it like that, ever. And while I'm at it, the word is VOILA. It's French. It means "there you are" or "there it is." It is pronounced VWAH-LAH. It is not some bastardized funsy American word spelled WALA, WALLA, WALLAH, WAH LAH, or WA-LA. Every time I hear or see someone use it incorrectly I wish I could haul the offender up and smack her. Or him. And do NOT get me started on "low and behold" for "lo and behold." So, so painful.  And so symptomatic of What Is Wrong With America on so many levels.

Voiceover Announcer: Unable to rest, Nance is up again and shifting laundry in the basement.

Nance: I deserve nice clean sheets to sleep on. So what. I hate doing sheets. Hate it. It's exhausting. And the load goes off-balance in the washer. And I have to stay down here to make sure it finishes the cycle. And then I get to look at other stuff that needs to be done. Which reminds me, I need to clean litterboxes. And that means sweeping the floor because Marlowe is an aggressive litter scratcher. Because of course she is.

Voiceover Announcer: Back from shuffling laundry and taking the used litter outside to the trash, Nance makes a quick snack of yogurt and fruit so that she can take her bigass vitamins.

Nance: Oh, hell. I forgot that we ran the dishwasher last night. How sad is it that I'm ready to complain about unloading dishes that I didn't even have to stand at the sink and wash? Someone should smack me. But if that someone could sweep my kitchen floor first, that would be great. Or scrub out the tub--even better. Anything, really. Then smack me. Smack away.

Voiceover Announcer: Jared arrives. He needs to use Nance's iPad in order to participate in a West Coast podcast. It is 12:30; the podcast starts at 1:00. He has to search for and download software. He also announces that he will be taking a shower since he came straight from the gym. Lunch may also happen.

Nance: Jared...how...? And I'm warning you now--I'm really, really crabby. Almost violently so.

Jared: Mom. It's okay. And have you tried dancing? Here, watch this.

Voiceover Announcer: Jared dances. Nance is motionless and helpless. Jared spends twenty minutes trying to contact his people on the West Coast to figure out the software download; finally he is successful. He tells them he will jump in at 1:15, takes a shower, and mixes up a "blue drink" which he may or may not have drunk in the shower.

Jared: Mom, I'm surprised you don't have the air on. It's supposed to be hot today.

Nance: I think it's comfortable. I'm sick of air conditioning. If you get too warm in the office during your podcast, turn on the ceiling fan.

Voiceover Announcer: Nance goes down to do the final laundry shift. On her way she belches loudly and uncomfortably.

Nance: Ugh. These damned vitamins. Can't I just get some sort of timed-release implant or something, like that birth control thingy? Or a patch, like they do for people who want to quit smoking? Wow. Did I really just say that? I am so, so crabby. It would not surprise me one bit if I looked down and my hands literally became big, red, pinchy claws.

***

Voiceover Announcer:  This has been Getting Real With Nance.  Nance urges you to Get Real in Comments. You know what she always says: Wallow A Little, Bitch A Lot. Or maybe it's Bitch A Little, Wallow A Lot; she can't ever remember. Either way, let loose your Real and feel no shame.



(original crab photo via Synapse Science Magazine)


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Would An RV By Any Other Name...?

Oh, Dearest Readers, I Am Back. Back from gorgeous and wineful Niagara-on-the-Lake, and back from the Grey Sad Doldrums of Vitamin D Deficiency. I feel so much more Myself; there is so much more Nance-ness bubbling inside me. The Blah in my bones is almost gone and my energy is returning. My ankle sprain didn't slow me down much at all, and Life Is Feeling More Like Living.

I'm so very grateful.

But enough about all of That. I want--almost Need--to talk about something else right now. And that something is RVs. Campers. Trailers. Recreational Vehicles. Because let me tell you--while we were driving from Ohio to Ontario, Canada, and back again, they seemed to be everywhere.

Now, I'm not a camping kind of person. Or even glamping (i.e., glamour camping--a term coined out of necessity because so many RVs and campers are so deluxe now).  I can't stand to think of dragging such a bigass vehicle all over the country, looking for campgrounds with hookups and then worrying about who I pull up next to and all of that. The cost of gasoline alone would send me into a panic. That, however, is me. Judging by the volume of campers Rick and I saw on the road, glamping is Hot Right Now. And a Big Deal.

I'm sure lots of people (who are Not Me) love the idea. It sounds very adventurous and pioneering. And, in a way, exciting and liberating. You can grab some basics, throw them in the car/motorhome, and start driving and explore the country. Or whatever.

What does NOT sound very wonderful are the names of some of these vehicles. I started noticing the names on the sides and back ends of campers and RVs and, let me tell you, whoever is naming these things should be out of a job.

The first one to puzzle me was Avenger. For a little old plain white trailer. It looked like the one my grandparents, Ethel and Joe, used to haul behind their Chrysler to Florida every winter. In what way is a trailer an "avenger"? What is it avenging? When I think of an avenger, I think of something dark and quick, something slightly sinister and sharp. For those of you who are more into comic books or films, you're probably thinking of The Avengers. Trust me, in no way did that little metal sugar cube look anything like any one of these:

http://img09.deviantart.net

Then we passed a Cyclone. This might be the worst name ever for a trailer. I think we all know of the unfortunate association between tornadoes and trailer/mobile home parks. Is this really the sort of image one wants to conjure up to boost camper sales? What are the other campers in this line--Toto, Dorothy, Tin Man, Kansas, and the deluxe model, Oz?

Other RV names were just clunky and ugly, like the one called Work and Play Ultra. Do that many people really buy an RV for work (or want to), let alone ultra work? This thing was as big as Rhode Island, so I'm sure just parking it was ultra work. Another one was called Dutch Star. I'm struggling to think what the Dutch have to do with RVs, driving, or stars. I know the Flying Dutchman was the legendary ghost ship that was doomed to never make port, but even that makes more sense for an RV name than Dutch Star, which, by the way, had absolutely no stars in its paint job, nor anything Dutch.

I started wondering why the RV and camper names were so goshdarned terrible. Was it because all the good names were taken by cars, like Roadster, Scout, Traveler, Pathfinder, Voyager, and the like? Why can't they start using literary names that are in the public domain then, like Ivanhoe, Lancelot, Caesar, Othello, or Beowulf? Even some animal names would be better, or some astronomy terms, or natural entities: Timberwolf, Solstice, Tumbleweed. I mean, come on. I would rather they gave these vehicles actual name names, even, like Stephen, Mirabel, Chris, Jose, Vilnius, Gretchen, or Anne. 

Even bottles of Coke have better names.

image via pinterest via google

Tell me you wouldn't rather have a little camper named Wolfgang than Work And Play Ultra. Or Cyclone.  I know, right?

Think up some good camper/RV names and put them in Comments. And tell me how you feel about camping.


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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Is Anyone Out There?

Anyone at all?

Oh, I do hope so. I'm popping in for a Quick Hello, just to check in and give a brief Update Of Sorts, and then I am planning to get back to Business As Usual after my Jaunt next week. I've just about Had It with Being Unwell and even moreso with Talking About It. Let's wrap it up, then, and Move On.

The Medicals: My labs were a sort of mixed bag, but the whole Vitamin D Thing, which was the Most Important Of All, showed a massive recovery. I am well into the satisfactory/healthy range, so I am on the maintenance dose for life, and feeling so much better. No pains, no fatigue, and while my stamina and strength are still an issue, they are s-l-o-w-l-y increasing. My autoimmune system is still, in a word, terrible; however, unless I am plagued by recurrent infections (I am not), it's not a cause for concern. I no longer need to see my Superhero Rheumatologist who gave me my life back, but will now see the Internist she highly recommended. I burst into tears thanking this doctor and all but prostrated myself at her feet in a weeping huddle of gratitude.

The Universe Is Cruel: My dear friend Shirley wrote me a nice email, and in it she expressed sympathy overall regarding my health struggles, and mentioned specifically how difficult it is to practice serene self-care and recovery whilst the Orange Nightmare/Toddler In Chief is wreaking shitful havoc. It's absolutely true. I feel abused by the Universe, which allowed this abomination, yet felt it necessary to screw me again on Sunday, when it put a rogue piece of gravel in my path, and I fell and sprained my ankle. Because, Life is not difficult enough for me. At least I am used to resting--A LOT--and the sprain was mild. I am almost fully recovered today although stairs are a bitch. (Count me as a fervent disciple of the RICE protocol for sprain treatment).

The Jaunt: I am a little overwhelmed at the thought of, but am looking forward to, our upcoming Niagara-on-the-Lake jaunt as a true getaway from Everything. I think I need a real change of scenery. My wine-drinking capacity is sadly and sorely diminished, but I have no problem doing the Swish-n-Spit as we look to restock our depleted cellar. I only hope Rick is not too bored since we cannot do our usual long, lovely walks by the lake and into the trails. That will have to wait until autumn. In the meantime, we will find other things to do, like attend theatre and taking Short Walks.

I'm anxious for Things to be all back to Normal again. My patience--such as it is--is very frayed. I am restless and bored. This is not the life for me. At the same time, I am beyond grateful that my condition was reversible and treatable. I know so many people whose lives are forever changed by serious illness, and I know how very fortunate I am.

Thank you for staying with me. I'll be back real soon.


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Friday, June 02, 2017

In Which I Quote Adele And Check In For Just A Moment...

Zydrunas
photo courtesy Sam Donnelly

Hello from The Other Side. I still don't have a Full Tank, so to speak, so I can't stay long, but I wanted to let you know how I was doing and to thank a couple of people.

Firstly, I am feeling a great deal better. The pain is almost entirely gone. Certainly the jolts of pain have been eliminated altogether, and the deep aching in my arms and lower back has been reduced to a once-in-a-while twinge. I still have to use the gel insoles in my shoes for heel pain every now and then, but not nearly as regularly as I did even a month ago. It is very encouraging and wonderful progress.

What I am left with now is a sad lack of strength and stamina. My arms, especially, are astonishingly weak. Even now, after typing only this much, they feel heavy and shaky. Driving more than twenty minutes or so is very uncomfortable and, at times, impossible. My kitchen cupboards have been reconfigured to put heavier items on lower shelves to minimize problems and with an eye to my safety. I continue to try and take short walks, but my stamina is always a variable. I worry about being able to make it back home. The biggest struggle I have right now--besides Patience--is knowing that Fine Line between Building Stamina and Overdoing It.

I have been stacking up more and more Good Days--days when I feel more like Myself. Days when I can think quickly, speak confidently, intelligently, and fluently, and whip through a crossword puzzle in no time flat. I even picked up a little freelance editing work, made almost impossible by the vinyl siding crew working next door (playing thrash metal music at top volume, naturally).

I am tired, however, still very tired much of the time. Large groups of people wear me out; activity, whether I am involved or merely watching it, wears me out. I think the act of Trying To Keep Up With Anything is tiring to me. But I press on, always, for I am anxious to be Well.

No words can express my emotions for Jared's Mother's Day post, which was a complete surprise to me. I am always thankful for the human beings my sons have grown to be, and Jared's thoughtful essay affirmed that he is a caring and introspective adult. That he attributes some of his best traits to me makes me happier and prouder than he could know.

And I want to say a warm thank you to Jill and Wes Wanders, too, who have taken some time out of their busy, busy lives and emailed me expressing concern, inquiring about my progress, and/or informing me of this and that along the way.

Finally, I want to mention my mother, St. Patsy. She has, without fail, sent me an encouraging message--full of emojis--every single day from her trusty iPad. Knowing my general dislike of phone calls and how holding the phone can tire me, she cheerfully embraces this medium of communication despite being in her late 80s. And she has agreed to abide by my rule of limiting the pictures of great-grandchildren to one per day. (That was a tough one.)

Things are getting better, albeit more slowly than I would like. Compared to the Fear and Panic and Uncertainty I faced a few months ago, however, life is much better.  In a week I will have more labwork done; at the end of the month, a followup appointment. And in July, we have plans to visit Niagara-on-the-Lake to replenish the cellar.

Lots to look forward to.

Cheers!


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Tell Your Mother You Love Her. A Mother's Day Guest Post



Hello, Jared here. I am not great with graphics, HTML, or general Blogging Fanciness like Nance is, so this post may lack some of the aesthetic pinache of a Typical Nance Post. While she takes a break from blogging, and in honor of Mother's Day, I wanted to contribute in her stead.

I remember spending the morning at the desk in my bedroom with my brother. We were so young, and we wanted it to be perfect, so we spent a long time trying to figure out what the perfect picture to draw was. Trying so hard to fold thick awkward card stock precisely and sharply. Thinking long and hard about what we wanted to say so that everything was perfectly put in a way to conjure up memories and the good feelings that we had so that on Mother’s Day, our mother could open up the handmade card and know how much we love her.


Things aren’t so different now. Sure, Sam and I don’t live at home. We aren’t folding handmade cards. We both put to rest any idea that we were artistic enough to do accurately portray all of the things that we had. Some things, though, are remarkably similar. Sam and I share an apartment. We both want to do special and nice things for our mother and father. We both still have no idea how we can possibly do that in a way to radiate the love that we have felt every single day.
Those cards from my youth were full of things like “whether it is going to a movie and lunch, or talking about books”, and trying to come up with our favorite things about those moments, about our mother. All of those times, those wonderful experiences still matter. I still carry them around with me every day. I still remember leaving the theatre and talking to my mother about the film in a way that made me feel very adult, very smart, and very complete. Now, though, there are different things to take away from those times, those moments, and those feelings.
My mother often says to me,  when I find myself in a time of anger or hurt, that “it doesn’t cost anything to be kind”. And yes, while there is no financial obligation associated with commonplace kindness, there is a real and tangible cost. You can set yourself up for vulnerability, let down, and more hurt or anger. My mother knows this, and, in my adulthood, I’ve come to understand exactly what she meant by those words. Simply, there is no cost that is too great to pay to do a kindness unto someone that you love.
2017 has, for a few reasons, not been tremendous for me so far. I have leaned on my mother more frequently in the last handful of months than I have needed to in the last handful of years, it seems. No, her taking my aimless phone calls during boring and lonely days doesn’t cost her money. The dog and I showing up at her house with little to no notice causes her exactly zero monetary hardship. There is, however, a cost to all of those things, and my mother pays it over and over with no thought to how it may affect her because in her mind, being there for me in those ways is simply practicing what she preaches, and the cost of kindness for someone that you love is always zero.
I have learned a great many things from my mother. My gift with language, my analytical nature with feelings, films, and books. My practicality, empathy, and compassion. (And apparently the Oxford comma). Most importantly, I have learned to be kind and patient and to always do the best I could to think outside of myself, the moment, and what was best for me. I think that the best way to put all of those things under one umbrella is to say that, simply, my mother has taught me how to be an adult, and she did so through an unrelenting practice of the best ways that I can find to describe kindness.  
People make jokes about “turning into their parents” on television and in movies all the time. I can feel myself turning into my mother. I’m prouder of the man that I’m becoming now than I ever have been in my 32 years. It would be foolish to ignore the fact that this change, this sort of acceptance of self and circumstances has come in the time that I needed and relied on my mother the most.

So, on this Mother’s Day, I ask you not to think of times, gifts, or tangible memories of your mother. Instead, reflect on what those things mean. The intangible aspects of what those times were, and how they shaped you.

Monday, April 24, 2017

I Stop Somewhere Waiting For You

Things have been quiet here at the Dept., I know, although I've been visiting your places and chatting here and there. I'd like to explain, take a little more time away, and then get Back To It here as soon as I possibly can.

For months and months now, I've not been well at all. I'd been losing ground at physical therapy--which had been keeping my Migraines at bay--and I could not shake this crushing fatigue. Then the deep bone pain and muscle pain started, and then lower back pain, too. And all along--for months and months--I'd been feeling so unlike myself. Confused at times, indecisive at others, still other times, I'd search for a word in the middle of a sentence while talking. (So embarrassing.)  I felt like I was in a fog all the time. Writing became such a chore; reading, an impossibility. I'd also seen my eye doctor back in December for severe dry eye and gotten on a prescription for that, with his suggestion that I get a doctor to test me for Sjogren's Syndrome once he heard the rest of my complaints.

That's where and how my Odyssey began.

I won't bore you with all of the details. My quest took me from the eye doctor to dear Dr. B., my neurologist, who ordered some labs to test for Sjogren's and a few other things. From there, I went on to a waiting list at a rheumatologist. All the while, I was losing more strength and stamina. Pain kept me from being able to sleep and carry on with my normal life. My weekly grocery store trips became my last vestige of normalcy, and they cost me dearly in terms of their aftermath of pain and exhaustion. Many times, I sat in the parking lot, waiting until I could bring myself to drive home, leaving heavy items in the car for Rick to bring in. Putting things away took forever as I rested often.

The rheumatologist's initial diagnosis was palindromic rheumatoid arthritis and possible Sjogren's, and a couple more labs were done. No results were conclusive. I had a brief respite after a steroid blast, but another try a month later when the pain roared back gave me no relief. In desperation and in debilitating pain, I contacted a friend who is a sonographer for the Cleveland Clinic. She pulled some strings and got me in to a top rheumatologist there.

In a two-hour consultation, this doctor took an extensive history and then narrative of my condition: its origin, development, symptoms, and affected areas. Then she examined me and asked me about my lifestyle, diet, and habits. Then she ordered twenty-two lab tests. And she identified at that moment what she thought it could be, something simple and, most importantly, reversible, although it would take some time.

The labs confirmed a couple things I already knew: one, that I have a lousy immune system; two, that I do not have TB or any thyroid issues. But the labs also confirmed what this doctor suspected from my symptoms and examination: my problem is not rheumatoid arthritis--those factors came back negative. So did Sjogren's. My problem is a severe and prolonged Vitamin D deficiency.

It's astonishing to me that something that seems so small and so banal-sounding can wreak such havoc. I was being tested for heavy metal poisoning, aluminum poisoning, arsenic, Lyme disease, even Parvo! They were testing my blood for markers indicating lupus, MS, rheumatoid arthritis, and other frightening things. But they all have some of the selfsame symptoms in common, and let me assure you, these symptoms are frightening to endure. I am beyond grateful not to have those illnesses, and I look forward to the end of my misery, whilst sufferers of some of the aforementioned illnesses must only manage theirs.

My deficiency is such that it will take months to recover my health. I am currently megadosing twice a week (50,000 IUs) for two months, at which time I will be retested. The doctor is confident that I will recover completely from this, but has told me that I will need to supplement Vitamin D3 for the rest of my life.

I can do that.

In the meantime I have to work very hard at Being Patient. That, as many of you know, is not my gift. I want My Life back. I want Me back. I want my brain back. I am tired of being tired. I am tired of not being able to Do Anything, especially the Things I Love. And I am so very, very tired of Pain. My heart breaks for those who must live with it as a Constant Presence Lifelong.

I hope I find someone here when I can finally return.  And I hope I am finally Me when I do.


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Thursday, April 06, 2017

In Which I Wonder Why I Ever Leave The House At All, And Leave All Of You To Make The Obvious Pun Involving Eggs

ACT I.  Scene opens on Nance, standing in yet another ridiculously long line at the grocery store. Sympathetic Manager catches her eye, waves her into a new lane, just opening.

Nance: (to Manager) Oh thank you! (begins to place items on the belt)
Cashier: Hi, how are you today?
Nance: Fine. How are you?
Cashier: Good. Hey, do you have any heavy items under there?
Nance: Yes, I was just going to tell you--
Cashier: (interrupting) Okay. I'm not allowed to bend or lift anything heavy.
Nance: That's fine. I usually leave the cases under there and let the cashiers--
Cashier: (interrupting) If you push your cart up here, I'll give you the scanner and let you scan 'em.
Nance: Whatever works for you. (finishes unloading and pushes cart to cashier's station)
Cashier: Okay, here you go. Just scan the one, and I'll double it here.
Nance: Got it. All set.
Cashier: Yeah, no heavy lifting or bending for me. Found out I'm not just fat--I'm pregnant!
Nance: (not sure how to respond to this, or if it's even required, continues preparing to pay for eventual final total)
Cashier: (blithely continuing with great aplomb) Yep! Thirty-seven weeks. At first I thought it was all the holiday eating, but nope. It wasn't just fat. (looks directly at Nance, expectantly--no pun intended)
Nance: (truly stuck now) Oh...my. Well. There you go!
Cashier: Huh?
Nance: Um, did you subtract that coupon?
Cashier: Yep! Sure did.

(They are interrupted momentarily by another shopper who, upon leaving, mentions very discreetly to the Cashier that her bagger, a young man with special needs, is losing his pants. Not wanting to embarrass him then, she hopes that perhaps this Cashier might speak to him.)

Cashier: Okay. Thank you. (turns toward bagger, several lanes down, shouts) Hey! Hey! Darrin! Pull your pants up, dude! Pants!
Nance: (mouth starting to dry out from being agape, closes it)
Cashier: Okay. Here's your total. I can print that check for you. Oh, by the way, I see you got large eggs. Didn't you know that the extra large are the same price this week?
Nance: Oh, no. I didn't. Had I known, I'd have gotten the extra large.
Cashier:  ( pityingly)  Yep. They are. Okay, here's your receipt. Have a great day!

ACT II. Scene opens in living room, later that evening. Rick and Nance are on the couch. Nance is telling Rick about her grocery store adventure.

Nance: (still not over any of it) ...and then, after all that, she waits until she has rung the total and is sending me on my way to tell me about the eggs! Why?! I should have said, "I'll stand here while you go get me the extra large" or "I'll wait here while you send someone to get me the extra large" or...something!
Rick: (laughing) Really? That's what you wish you would have said?

End.

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