5 days

I’m on day two of a mini vacation I’m taking this week.  I took two days off in advance of the long weekend, giving me a nice extra long weekend.

Yesterday, Mr. Patient and I went to even older historic towne up north of ye olde historic northeastern city.  Hint: it being October, this was a very seasonal time to visit said historic towne.  I packed a cooler with low fat lactaid milk, crackers, and low fat ground chicken chicken salad.  I also found a shop that made amazing soy chai lattes.  And some research ahead of time turned up a seafood place where I was able to at least eat some grilled tuna (minus the vegetables and the overdone roasted potatoes…Mr. Patient ate that).  I had a bit of heartburn last night, but it wasn’t terrible.  I think it was more chai induced than fish.

We planned a short trip, so there was no big disappointment when I didn’t last a whole day.  We took the walking very slowly, just ambled around like the old couple I hope we get to turn into.  Rested on benches a lot.  Got my cards read, nothing remarkable although he did say “you’re having a hard time keeping weight on, aren’t you?” although my wardrobe probably gives that away.  Bought some catnip that is apparently catcrack, according to my cat’s reaction to it.  It’s going to have to be kept in a tightly closed drawer unless we want her to have herself a little kitty bacchanal right here on the living room carpet.

It was really nice to get out and about.  I planned it carefully, including the timing.  I knew I’d probably be a little sore and tired the day after, so we did it on day one to give me plenty of resting time after.

And today, I am.  Tired.  I think my Fall allergies are kicking up a bit because I’m feeling a bit dizzy, although who knows.  Could be blood pressure or migraine too.  So many reasons to be dizzy.  And so I’m sticking close to home today.  I decided to do a little baking.  I had read some recipes for “two ingredient pumpkin cake” (e.g. this recipe, or this other recipe), and thought I’d give it a try, with angel food cake of course due to the low fat requirement of my stomach.

I Just did a set as cupcakes and boy are they good.  I already ate one and they’ve only been out of the oven for 15 minutes.  Here’s my version of the recipe.

Pumpkin Angel Food Cake with Apple “Compote”

Low fat!


1 box angel food cake mix

Pumpkin pie spice to taste:

1 & ½ teaspoons of ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

A dash ground clove (because I like clove…most pumpkin pie recipes do not include this in the spice set)

1 can of pureed pumpkin

Move oven rack to lowest position. Heat oven to 350°F. In extra-large glass or metal bowl, beat cake ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 1 minute. Spoon into ungreased cupcake tins, fill about ½ way.  I used extra large cupcake tins and could’ve gotten 10 full sized cupcakes out of it if I hadn’t tried to fill an 11th cup (d’oh!).

Bake about 25 minutes or until crust is dark golden brown and cracks are dry. If you use cupcake liners, you can skip this next bit:  Immediately turn pan upside down onto upside-down metal measuring cups in a large casserole pan. Let hang about 2 hours or until cake is completely cool. Loosen cake from side of cups with knife.

No Cook Apple Compote:
1 – 3 apples (I used 1 granny smith/green apple and two gala apples)

1 medium fresh lemon

¼ cup of brown sugar

Ground cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg to taste (least on the nutmeg)

Wash, peel, and core apples.  Chop coarsely and place in a medium sized non-metal mixing bowl.  Seed and juice lemon, add to apples tossing with a wooden or plastic spoon or spatula.  Add spices and sugar, and coat apples by mixing gently with spoon or spatula.  Refrigerate.  Use quickly for drier compote, the longer the apples sit in the sugar/lemon juice mixture, the more liquid they will release.  You can cook the mixture too if you want to break down the apples a little more but you’ll get something that is more syrupy and mushy.

Result?  I realized after I made them and took pictures that the apple bits, if cut up carefully in advance, could be arranged to make jack o’lantern faces on top of the cupcakes.  Ah, well, this is why Martha Stewart is Martha and I’m not.  Next time.  And there will be a next time.

Photo of pumpkin angelfood cupcake with apples on top

Next time, I’m putting more apple on!

I took a picture of the inside too, so you can see the crumb texture. I may try this again with a bit of flour added to see if it makes for a finer crumb. Even without that addition, it is quite good.

Photo of inside of pumpkin angel food cupcake

A rather coarse crumb to this version.

stupid decisions

I am faced with some, mine and others.  My own include the decision to go on a trip in about a week.  The trip involves plane travel and a lot of time off of work.  Ok, not a ton but for someone who has a lot of sick time use, taking 4  days to just f-off is a lot.  And I am apprehensive about it.  Extra apprehensive since I used a CRAPton of sick time last month due to getting the flu on top of all the usual, day to day stuff my body throws at me.  And hey, here’s a new day to day thing it’s throwing at me.  A new trick.  Severe nausea and upper abdominal pain.  What’s up?  No idea.  Is the liver unhappy from the several weeks of fluconazole?  Is my gallbladder acting up?  I’ve never had gallbladder problems, but why not, right?  It’s a strange nausea, a sort that is relieved by eating and then creeps back in within an hour or so of my eating, ramping up until I find myself checking potential puke receptacles in my immediate area.  I’m telling you, this is some intense nausea.  I’ve had less post-op.

Satellite image of Winter Storm Saturn at 9:45 am EST Friday March 8, 2013.

Nor’easter in the north east? How unexpected!

Why is that relevant to the aforementioned trip?  Because I hadn’t counted on it in my “yeah I think I can do this” estimate for travel.  I hadn’t counted on a new and resource sapping symptom that I’d have to haul around like an oversized carry-on.  And I certainly hadn’t factored it and the week of flu-based sick-time into my equation of “do I have enough time off at work to do this?”

Others’ stupid decisions include work not closing yesterday.  Up here in Big Northeastern City, we had a bit of a nasty storm Thursday night into Friday.  It was predicted to drop 1 to 2 inches of snow, then blow on out to sea.  Instead, it stalled and dumped pile after pile of snow on both Big Northeastern City and Ye Olde New England town where I live…which is just south west of the city and just high enough into the hills that we get about 1.5 times the snow the city and more coastal areas get.  Everything around Big City closed Friday, and consequently few plows were seen, most going by with blades up.  But the Mayor of Big City made his the decision about whether to call a snow emergency based on the forecasts and the current weather reports, which continued to be dead wrong well past the point where a quick look out the window would show anyone just how dead wrong they were.  Hard to rely on a weather report that’s saying “1 to 2 inches of snow” when there is clearly at least 6 inches on the ground already and snow coming down at about an inch an hour.  But rely on it they did, and as goes Big City, so goes my employer.  Eventually, when there was about a foot of snow in Big City and when our Olde New England hill town was cemented in under the shovel breaking burden of well over a foot of heavy wet snow, my employer sent out the usual email, text message, and phone call alert that they would be closing shortly.  Ye Olde New England Town got a total snowfall of just over 29 inches, btw.  Big city has not exactly advertised storm totals, but I’m seeing at least 13 inches.

All Friday morning, I sat here sweating my decision to stay home, to take more of my earned time off after a month full of absences, and a week before I am to go away for a fun and nausea filled “vacation”, from which I may need time off after to recover.  My boss has been tetchy lately, and most recently (Thursday in fact, the day before the big storm) gave me a bit of shit about when and how I can work from home (she has to approve it in advance…all well and good for times when I know in advance that I am not feeling good enough to get and stay at work, but not so great for times when I wake up feeling crappy and can’t manage it but could manage 8 hours at home).  So yesterday, I had to make the unpleasant call of saying “Ok, well we just broke a shovel trying to dig out, it’s still coming down, the road hasn’t been touched, so I am not going to be able to get in today and” because I didn’t have advance notice to ask if I could work at home “I will be taking a personal day.”  And all because the people who had to decide about canceling or limiting business as usual abdicated that responsibility.  Yeah, I said abdicated.  I don’t count yesterday’s “business as usual” approach to a major storm as simply a bad call.  I count it as my employer saying “but the mayor said it’s ok!” and the mayor saying “but the weather forecast said it was ok…” and so on.  Anyone with half a brain and who has lived in Big Northeastern City knows that Nor’easters go bad with some regularity and to stick to a shitty forecast despite clear evidence that the forecast was shitty is not doing your damned job.

The weather here is like my body.  To say that a worse than expected storm is unaddressable (both before and during the fact) is a load of hooey.  Where we live, Nor’easters come.  And sometimes they come, then stall out and just camp over the area, dumping a whole bunch of snow.  While it may be unlikely that this will happen – much like it’s unlikely I will get on my plane and then re-enact the puking scene from The Exorcist – it is possible…and certainly within the realm of somewhat probable outcomes.  So why not plan for the possibility that the storm will be bad?  Or why not at least change plans when it becomes clear that things are worse than expected?

Since this is how I think, I am wondering about my trip.  Do I cancel it?  Do I shorten it?  I will be letting a lot of people down.  But if I go and am sick, it’s going to suck and be full of letting people down anyhow.  And I may end up missing MORE work on the back end when I get home from the trip from hell and am flattened.

I’m stuck with the reality that I am oriented in a vastly different way to trouble than most other people.  I am willing to acknowledge that perhaps I swing a bit far on the limitation side of things, but that is because I absolutely hate getting stuck in that tree (see this post for an explanation of what it means to be “stuck in the tree”).  Do other people just assume that someone will come and save them when they make a dumb decision?  What about when they are deciding for others?  Because for me, I always feel like my decisions about what I  can and can’t do involve others.  They involve my co-workers, my husband, my friends…anyone who I might commit to and then have to reneg on because my body had the equivalent of an unexpectedly stalled Nor’easter.  And while I might be ok with beating up on myself (I’m not usually, but I might be), I am most certainly NOT ok with signing them all up to deal with the consequences.

(Photo credit:  NASA/GSFC.  Satellite image of Winter Storm Saturn at 9:45 am EST Friday March 8, 2013.)

Come on down!

My brother in law has a habit of casually invalidating me and my husband’s lifestyle.  Most recently, he proposed a get together for “everyone” (all siblings in a several state area) on a possible date.  Was that date good for us, he wanted to know.  My husband conveyed it to me and I explained that no that date was quite bad, the start of finals (they start on a weekend) and that not only could I not do it, but if there was wiggle room on the plans, I’d prefer he not go since his going would leave me here to manage the household stuff on my own during a time when more 150% of my resources would be going to the crazy end of the semester work marathon that is final exams.  It’s the single busiest time of the year at work for me, followed by Spring finals, followed by midterms.

So what about the weekend after, my husband asked me.  Maybe, for me – it’s always a maybe with me.  But I told him that even if it turned out I can’t make it, he was welcome to make plans and go solo.

He discussed this with his brother yesterday.  In that call, brother tells him that actually, it turns out that the initially proposed weekend is the only one that works for “everyone else”.  The rest of them are going away to various places the weekend after (i.e., the one my husband proposed).  One of those intense discussions ensued, between my husband and me.  My issue being why his brother, brother’s wife, and their half sister routinely “forget” that I have limitations – and my concerns that this will add up to resentment on their parts.  My husband saying that he didn’t get the sense that his brother was cranky about this particular time (he has been cranky and whiny in the past when he invites us to some last minute shindig two states away that I or both of us can’t make) and that he (husband) thought that his family understood the limitations in this particular case because they were work related and not health related.  “It’s something they share, so I think they get it.  They have a point of reference that they don’t have when it comes to the health thing.”  I told him that I wasn’t angry at him (because my tone and mood was shitty) and explained that I’ve had this happen before with a partner’s family, specifically the summer I first had Lyme and was getting treated and retreated and feeling terrible.  The family of my then partner wanted to plan to go on a summer vacation I had gone on the year before and my illness was holding everything up.  “Just go without me” I told my then partner.  No, that wasn’t going to do.  I had to be a part of this, whether I wanted to or not.  The truth was, I truly wanted to go.  I wanted not to be sick, I wanted to head off to the beach cottage with my sweetheart.  I wanted to sit in the sun, go swimming, make s’mores late at night and drink vodka collinses on the deck with the sea breeze floating through my hair while my sweetie and I looked over shells and rocks we had picked up from our stroll on the beach earlier in the day.  But I felt terrible and had been sick for over a month.  I was on my second course of oral antibiotics, which also made me feel awful every time I took one.  His family was unrelenting.  I don’t know the details of the dynamics of what went on behind the scenes on that one and I will never know them.  I do know that they set the stage for his family deciding they did not like me, that I was a party pooper, and that I was inappropriately foisting my agenda on my ex.  When I failed to recover fully from the acute lyme disease, things only got worse with them.  The worst part of all of this was that back then, I did eventually cave and go on the trip. I was so sick and so overwhelmed physically and emotionally.  It sucked horribly and was a big part of why I now don’t go places with people who’ve demonstrated a certain level of inconsideration or disrespect of my physical state when I’m not feeling good.

My husband knows this history, so I didn’t get into this level of detail last night.  I just explained the high points and concluded by saying that I was apprehensive about his brother’s continuing “forgetting” or discounting of my physical limits.  I told him that I know his family wouldn’t appreciate being held accountable for someone else’s screw up, no one does, but that there it was.  I had a long history of people who were supposed to be nice and sweet and loving doing rotten things and that as much as I’d like it to be otherwise, there is just a point where I am not able to place my faith and trust in people that they won’t be like that.  Especially not when I’m seeing early evidence that they will.

And literally just as we were finally getting to a resolution point, just when I was reluctantly but desperately trying to agree with him and give his family the benefit of the doubt, believe that they are not that kind of asshole, believe that they would not presume to question to that level, my husband’s cell phone chirped announcing a text message from his brother asking if my husband could just come solo on that first proposed weekend.

And poof.  There went all that wanting to feel like this would be ok down the drain.

très bizarre

Pea sprout plucked from Cape man’s lung
August 12, 2010

By L. Finch, Globe Correspondent

It wasn’t cancer that doctors discovered growing inside a 75-year-old Brewster man’s lung in May after an x-ray of his chest showed a small dark spot.

Doctors feared the worst when Ron Sveden, already suffering from emphysema, was rushed to Cape Cod Hospital, coughing with a collapsed left lung and pneumonia. But after multiple biopsies, doctors discovered not a tumor — but a pea seed germinating inside Sveden’s collapsed lung.

They removed the sprout, about a half of an inch tall, and Sveden has recovered.

(full story at the Boston Globe)

Stories like this are what lend credence to those “old wives’ tale” type warnings we used to get as kids.  You know the ones, “your face will get stuck like that if someone hits you on the back”, etc.  I suspect these are culturally specific.  E.g., a good friend of mine worked in Italy for a while and consistently horrified her host family by insisting on drinking not just cold beverages (which apparently is bad enough) but beverages with ICE!  One day, she did become ill, suffering from some gastrointestinal upset and pain.  My friend reported hearing members of her host family telling the doctor in hushed tones that although they had warned her not to, she had insisted on drinking ice cold beverages – which all right thinking people (Italians) know is a trigger for GI trouble.

So what is your favorite medical urban legend/old wives’ tale?

this too

Another day with the bad head.  I was feeling pretty decent yesterday.  About bedtime, the off kilter not quite vertigo came back.  And I woke up with a splitting headache this morning and the not quite vertigo is back again and has been with me all day.

I keep hoping that any moment of fading is the time it will go and not come back.  Long week ahead of me.  Lots of appointments.  Lots of needing to get around.  I know it’s childish to think it but really, I just don’t have time for this shit.  But what I really don’t have time for, or rather what I refuse to give the time to, is feeling shitty, feeling like this will never go away, and letting it get me so down that it seems nothing is possible.  So I’m gonna let it go.

not tonight

Listening to my husband talk to his sister about visiting.   Who will or should visit whom and when.  Plans, or at least the starts of them.  My name is mentioned “Gotta get her out to X to visit”.  X is on the other side of the country.  More plans.  “Group vacation” comes up.  Will I be part of it?  Probably not.  I exclude myself, always.  I am not excluded, to the contrary, I am often faced with needing to explain (usually through my husband) why inclusion in these plans is not possible for me.

I used to like traveling.  I especially liked traveling by plane and doing so when I had a bit of money to spend on things like coffee when I wanted it, beer at the airport bar if I felt so inclined, etc.  Traveling with no money was a little less relaxing, money may not buy you happiness but it will buy you a cozy seat and a beverage out of the fray.  What I noticed the most about traveling without much money was just that you had to be ready to do things like run a little faster, wait a little longer, and make the package of graham crackers tucked in the purse last a little more time.

None of this is an option now.  I suspect if I had not just some money but a good deal of it, I could afford the sorts of luxuries that would make traveling more possible for me.  I’m not sure, but I suspect it.  E.g. a limo to and from the airport.  And we’re not talking some minivan service full of people and bags…I mean a luxury car where I can stretch out, apply cold compresses, and drink herbal tea if I’m so inclined.  Massages, good food, easy access to bathrooms, etc.  I bet having some extra cash to throw around would help make all of those things possible, which would in turn make travel more possible.  While I’m by no means as broke as I have been at other times in my life, I do not currently have limo with herbal tea level money.

And moreover, I have an old, infirm cat.  We have.  Well, my cat of 15 years, his of about 5.  And by infirm, I mean the cat gets a pill every day, sometimes needs cajoling to eat, and never makes it to the box for #2.  So even if I could get my reliably unreliable, high needs body squared away to travel, I’m not even remotely confident that I could find someone to watch the cat.

So what do I do when I hear my husband’s prolonged conversation with the sibling who is the least understanding about these practical limitations?  Do I take a tactful, respectful approach and not say anything?  Do I wait until later and express how upset this constant “why can’t she travel” wrangling makes me?  Or do I say something as nasty and mean as this sibling’s continuing disregard feels to me?

On good days, one or two.  Tonight, not so much.