Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wakey wakey

Since I've been using my CPAP machine, I've not been sleeping well. By well, I mean very long. I used to be in bed for the night about 8 or 9 hours each night, but now I'm lucky if I make it to bed by 11pm and stay there until 4am. I just can't get my mind settled down to be sleepy. My body is tired, but my mind is whirling. I think it's adjusting to the new level of oxygen. And though I think the 4 or so hours of sleep on the CPAP I'm getting are better than the 8 or 9 hours I was previously getting, it just ain't enough downtime...

This has made for some interesting nights. And many, many eBay purchases. Right now I have about 12 unopened packages from yesterday's and Saturday's mail. I also found a great place to buy New Balance shoes, Joe's. Highly recommend Joe's. I also bought 3 used books from Amazon.com sellers, and they're awesome. And cheap! What a deal!

I found some real super cool etsy stores... dyenah from California who cold-water dyes vintage textiles, like tablecloths and aprons, and they're beautiful! That's what some of my eBay purchases are... vintage tablecloths because dyenah has inspired me to wanna try cold-water dyeing. But now I've ordered 3 tablecloths from dyenah, too. I couldn't resist... she had them on sale!

I've liked etsy for a long time. Before all this late night computer obsession started, this etsy artist, Jessica Grundy, easily convinced Joycie and I to purchase several prints... we have plans to use them in a future girl's nursery, among other places. We bought her prints: Roots, Jenny, Swarm, Little Sharpshooter, Duet, Take Warning and Layers. Layers is going in my kitchen area. When the prints arrived, extremely well packaged, I might add, the artist had included a hand-written thank you note and some free goodies. I love etsy shop owners... they're so nice!

I like to get on etsy and pick a word to search items... like spike. Search that one and you'll love some of the results. I don't remember what search led me to this awesome charm bracelet, but it also led me to discover the term, "steampunk." I know! Where the heck have I been?!

Tangent: Wikipedia for me is just like the old-fashioned, printed World Book Encyclopedia set we had when I was a kid... I'd look something up, and that would lead me to something else, so I would have to go pull out another letter of the alphabet (there was a book for each letter, for those youngsters reading this), and pretty soon, I was sitting on the floor near the bookcase surrounded by 14 volumes of the encyclopedia. Ahhh... good times. Sometimes on Wikipedia, I get so far linked from my original topic that I forget what I was looking up in the first place. Ahhh... good times.

Anyway, back to etsy... this photographer, Wild Life Prints, from Nova Scotia, is someone who I think I would really like to meet in person. I'm sure he must be a fun person to be around.

These salt and pepper shakers made me laugh out loud!

This artist, who lives in Hawaii and makes a lot of masks, inspired me with her tomato face mask. By inspired, I mean that I pretty much copied it, and then I made a matching green pepper and jalapeno for my sister, Kathy, to add to her collection she puts on the side of their shed near her garden, which collection has grown large enough to expand to another wall of the shed...

And based on this item and this one, and also this one, Uturn is also an etsy artist/shop owner who I'm sure I would like to know.

Just like eBay, of course, there's a whole lotta crap on etsy along with all the cool stuff. I know as hours and hours of research lately has proved it. But I still love searching on it. I've been semi-obsessed with wall hooks lately. And this feature of etsy is awesome.

Thanks to my friend, Michelle in California, I've been enjoying some new web sites, like this one. And thanks to my niece, Michelle, I've been enjoying StumbleUpon, too. My niece is very talented, by the way...

I've even begun keeping a list of words, phrases, names of people & things that I hear on the radio, on TV or in conversations, or that I read, such as in magazines at the doctor's office waiting room, that I want to look up later. That Internets! So interesting!

I also have been searching for the perfect purse on eBay. And in the process have given away 2 purses to Joycie, 1 to my sister Janet and 2 to my mother-in-law Sharron. Only 1 I've bought is okay, but it's still too small. I've been trying to get a good deal on a Vera Bradley Stephanie now, but those people who sell VB on eBay are crazy. Too much money. But I did find a great Tignanello wallet real cheap. Score! Update since I started writing this post: I forgot! I won a VB Stephanie purse auction, and it arrived and I like it. Still too much moola, though.

Along with not getting sleepy enough, I have also discovered that I can't stand to sit for long in the recliner and watch TV in the evenings anymore. Kev and I follow a lot of TV shows. I do mean a lot of them... many shows. We are American TV junkies and proud of it. We rarely ever watch a show that we haven't recorded on the DVR, and we fastmercialize though most of the commercials. We do stop and watch some of the commercials; I'm really enjoying the SubWay ones where the adults talk like little kids. I can't explain why those appeal to me, but they do! Especially the "do you wanna be my boyfriend" one.

So anyway, back to my point, which is though I have not only enjoyed vegging in my much-beloved recliner for many evenings, I've craved it often (since 2008), but now... now I sometimes feel like I'm gonna go crazy if I don't get up out of it and move.

I think I've been gravitating to the computer because it keeps my mind active. I've been Googling all kinds of junk, er... I mean information. But don't quiz me about it, coz I don't think my short-term memory thing is quite back up to par yet.

The many hours, many in a row with no break, spent at my desk in the dining room on either my company laptop working or on my home computer the past couple of weeks has brought up a new problem for me. My poor old feet swelled up like big, fat cantaloupes. Too much arthritis and too many hours hanging down... not used to it, so it caused holy havoc on me feets. At present, I'm wear old person socks, and I confess I love them. Those socks, along with a dedicated effort to raise my legs as often as possible, have really helped. It's nice to walk again. File that one under "if it ain't one thing, it's another."

Curious thing, though... it's taken me about 5 days to actually complete this blog post. That's the other thing about the past couple of weeks... I think the only thing I've been good at, and actually productive at, is the work I've done on my job. With all the stuff at home, I start, I stop, I go back, I get distracted, I stop, I start, I go... ya get the picture. What a mess. And today is Saturday, and at our house, that means that mom goes to the pottery studio. But I didn't make it in there today... I just couldn't get to it. And I wasn't feeling creative. This past week being back at work into the office was hectic and exhausting, and I feel flattened. Flattened and strange.

Speaking of strange, I leave you with a photo I took one evening a while back. Joyce and I were on our way home from her trying on wedding dresses, and we passed a church that had a sign that caught my eye...

Good to know.

Apropos of nothing, something in my house has been emitting a single, very high-pitch beep every so often, like every 1 hour, 17 minutes and 23 seconds or so, for DAYS. At first I thought it was our smoke detector in the living room telling me of the eminent demise of its battery, but that's not it. I cannot find the source. It is bugging me.

Monday, July 04, 2011

"No wonder you feel like shit."

Among some other physical/medical type issues I've been dealing with on which I won't bore you with the details, I've been not sleeping well. As in snoring loudly, apparently - with the stopping/gagging/choking thing... much to Kevin's unending delight, but waking up in the mornings very tired and with a daily headache of intensity ranging from searing-need-an-ice-pack-gonna-barf to just awful. I have never really slept well, and I have a tendency to wake often through the night. But I thought my increase in problems sleeping was related primarily to the neck issues I had in 2007 that resulted in surgery early 2008. Seems like since back then, really since 2006... I just haven't slept worth a damn.

So on Wednesday, June 22nd, I went to the Midland hospital's Sleep Lab for a Sleep Study. One of my sisters did this a few years ago, and I kinda knew I had to do this, but I just didn't want to. The thought of a machine for sleep apnea... well, I just didn't wanna think about it at all. But my headaches have increased in intensity lately, and I feel like crap pretty much all the time. I just got plain sick and tired of waking up every morning feeling sick and tired. Seriously, it began to feel like why even bother going to bed... and sometimes why even bother about anything. I know, I know, let the pity-party jeers commence. But critical times call for critical measures, plus my doctor (who is really a PA, but she's really my doctor - my life, my terms... plus she's awesome and amazing and super duper smart) told me I had to do the sleep study.

So I go to the Sleep Lab, not sure what to expect and feeling a bit anxious... but it was not at all like a hospital room, it was actually a bit like a lovely bedroom...

And there was a huge recliner there, where I relaxed and used the hospital's high speed wireless Internet while waiting for my turn to be hooked up and plugged in...

The documentation I received beforehand warned me that attaching all the wires for the sleep study could take 2 hours, but it didn't... it took less than 20 minutes. The technician puts all these wires all over your head and chest area, plus 2 stretchy belt things around your chest (on women, above the boobs under the armpits) and your belly, both over top of your clothing, plus some more wires on your legs (because they monitor for restless legs, too). Yes, it was a lot of wires, but it wasn't invasive. I didn't have to get undressed at all. I didn't wear pajamas, I wore my comfy Tigers jersey and a pair of stretchy sweatpants, which made me feel more comfortable there. I think I would have felt more, I don't know... anxious or vulnerable in my pajamas. No hospital gowns, either, thank goodness.

I also knew you were watched and recorded during the study, by this wall-mounted camera...

And I also signed a document allowing them to use the results, i.e., the recording I assume, for teaching purposes. At first I didn't want to sign that paper, but then I thought, what the hell, people have to learn somehow, right. Plus, really, what do I care? I have given birth twice, people at hospitals have seen me in much, much worse conditions than snoring loudly while hooked up to a bunch of wires all over my head. And I hope the part when I farted makes them laugh! (Oh, come on! everybody farts!) (I also think I'd like to donate my body once I'm dead... coz those medical students have to get their cadavers from somewhere, right.)

I was much more relaxed than I thought I would be for the sleep study, and it was primarily due to this person, Neal...

Such a smart young man, and when he was hooking me up, he started explaining about sleep apnea, how it happens, what it does to you... all in a very practical way that I could easily understand. Neal put me at ease, and I felt that he was caring and totally non-judgmental... he made me feel comfortable and that I was doing the right thing for myself in going through the sleep study.

I have, of course, done my research on the 'net about sleep apnea. Wiki explains it ok, and it states this:
     Most cases of OSA are believed to be caused by:
     old age (natural or premature),
     brain injury (temporary or permanent),
     decreased muscle tone,
     increased soft tissue around the airway (sometimes due to obesity), and
     structural features that give rise to a narrowed airway.

I don't really agree with Wiki... frankly some of their listed causes seem like OSA results not causes, and I don't really agree with the order of the listing of their causes, here's why: Neal explained that many of his family members have sleep apnea, primarily because of their related physiological makeup resulting in narrow airways. He also said that sleep apnea isn't always the result of a person being overweight, but a person with sleep apnea who is not being treated for it often will end up overweight because of sleep apnea, due to the resulting lack of energy.

It's kind of what came first, the chicken or the egg...

I could relate to that. I've been trying to get more exercise in my life, but I just don't ever seem get to it... I know that if I exercise, I will expend all my energy and won't want to do anything else like, for example, go to the pottery studio, and I know if I go to the pottery studio, I usually use up my energy allotment for that day. The last time I really had good exercise was back when I was walking a lot in late April, early May of 2008, once I was off the antibiotics/PICC line and was starting to feel a bit more like myself again... but then once I started back to work half-days I had no energy for walking.

Anyway, Neal was awesome. His momma must be very proud and his wife is one lucky lady... her name is Heather, I know coz I inquired about the tiny bit of ink I could see on his arm - and then I got him to let me photograph it... what a great guy, huh?! He designed it himself and got the tattoo the day before their wedding...

So... the sleep study. Neal explained that if they noticed signs of sleep apnea, he would possibly come into my room at about 2am and wake me to try me on a CPAP machine; there was one sitting next to my bed.

Neal woke me at about 1am, and he explained that in the study, a person stopping to breathe is called an "event" and 5 events per hour means you are diagnosed with sleep apnea. If you have more than 30 events per hour, that is severe sleep apnea. Neal then told me that I had 112 events per hour. He also said my blood oxygen level dropped to 79 often, when they didn't want it to get below 90. So he put me on a CPAP machine with a pillow instead of a mask, which is kind of like the oxygen tubes in your nose in the hospital. I adjusted to that very well, and then he woke me again around 3am and tried me on the mask, not the full-face kind, just over my nose. I didn't like that so much, but Neal had to wake me up at 6:30am. I woke up in that bed with the mask on my face, and it was the first time in years that I didn't have a headache and I felt actually rested.

It was amazing to me.

Neal also told me that I never hit REM in that time before 1am, but I did with the CPAP. REM sleep is pretty important.

When Neal was unhooking me, using some kind of stuff to take the adhesive off my skin, he and I were talking some more about sleep apnea and what I should expect. He listened so well and answered all the questions I could think of. I have to admit I was a bit distracted because my mind kept interrupting me with, "Holy shit, I feel good, look ma, no headache!" And then I remembered I wanted to take photos, and Neal let me photograph him (such a nice guy!). I forgot to get a photo of myself all hooked up with all the wires, though... that would have been interesting. Then Neal said he'd let me get ready to go and then he'd walk me out, show me to the elevator. So I go into the bathroom to brush my teeth, and I see this in the mirror...

Cracked me up! Just thinking about carrying on a conversation with Neal and me looking like this... Sah-weet!

On my way to Little Chef to meet Kev for breakfast after the study,

I kept going over all the stuff Neal had said to me. I kept thinking no wonder I'm forgetful, no wonder I have no energy, no wonder...

Seriously, my short-term memory has totally sucked the past few years. And my energy level also sucks.

I forgot my pillow at the Sleep Lab, by the way. Of course! (It is a special, very expensive pillow that I got because of my neck problems.)

So this past Tuesday, I was able to get a CPAP machine. It usually takes a couple of weeks from the date of the sleep study to process all the paperwork to get the machine, but since my sleep apnea was pretty severe, I got pushed up to the top of the stack. Yay! Or ummm... damn.

But... what I was dreading, I now urgently desired...

The CPAP I got came with a humidifier, which is nice for the nasal passages. I got the pillow thing, which goes around my head and at my nose, and it's not really that bad. I can sleep quite comfortably. The machine is very quiet, too. My first night on it at home Kev said I was as quiet as a mouse. So of course, he slept much better, too. I refuse to photograph myself with my head gear on, so here's what it looks like from the product documentation:

Not a big fan of the pink, clearly a man made that marketing decision.

And thank the Good Lord for medical insurance...

I have not had a wonderful morning on my CPAP like I did in the hospital, and I'm still waking with a bit of a headache. I am having trouble adjusting to the CPAP and the new sleep routine... frankly, quite a lot of trouble. But the sleep I'm getting is better for me, I can tell... I can't explain how I can tell. I'm still feeling quite crappy but also I'm not... that's the best explanation I can come up with now. Further 'net research agrees with what I heard about adjusting to the CPAP, which is it could take a month to a year. Everyone adjusts differently. I think I am going to try and get the nose mask instead of the pillow, to see if that helps me better. It was less comfortable, but that is what I was using in the Sleep Lab when I woke so nicely. Worth a shot.

If you have a loved one who snores, and if you have medical insurance, talk them into a sleep study. It's worth it. The long-term effects of untreated sleep apnea are unpleasant. A good night's sleep... priceless.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Friday, July 01, 2011

Ollie and Murray

Quite some time ago, a very crappy person dropped off 3 kittens at the end of my folks' long dirt driveway out in the country. The 2 sisters and brother made their way up the driveway and proceeded to live out in a small out-building near my folks' house. My mom fed them and tamed them, but with everything else going on for her lately, she didn't get around to getting them fixed. Both females had kittens at the same time. Joycie and my niece, Michelle, both helped my mom take care of the kittens. I can't remember how many kittens there were in total, but it was a lot. Both the momma cats treated all kittens the same, sharing the mothering duties. Joyce enjoyed that time with so many kittens; she was right in her element! Homes were found for all the kittens, including 1 to Michelle and 2 to us.

We got 2 brothers (or cousins, we truly don't know), the only tiger-striped of the litters and a black and white cutie, Murray and Ollie, respectively. The plan was to only get 1 kitten and have him live with N.C. and Frankie, our 2 outside cats (they live on our porch and keep the chipmunk population somewhat in control). Frankie is getting very old, so I thought we would put a kitten with them to have Frankie and N.C. train him.

But then somehow, being unable to decide between the 2 kittens, we took both.

This is Sam with the kittens on our trip home from Gramma's house. As you can see, Sam is pretty much overjoyed...

Blossom was not so much overjoyed as annoyed, but also curious, as was Wiley... and we were all amused at Kev actually holding Ollie on his chest...

Joyce worked with taming the kittens, and so Ollie and Murray are both used to being held, in pretty much any position. Ollie does seem to like perching on shoulders...

While Murray loves pretty much any position, including on his back...

Murray's stripes give way to spots on his belly, so cute...

This was Sunday evening a couple of weeks ago, and we had a vet appointment scheduled for them for the following Monday morning. We decided to keep them in the house overnight so they were easily accessible in the morning, and so we put them comfortably inside of the large crate that was Reilly's and is now infrequently used by Wiley. (Reilly loved it, Wiley not so much.)

Sunday dinner discussion at the table was a lot about Kevin adamantly insisting the 2 cats were NOT going to be kept inside. He got pretty loud and insistent about it. I just patted his arm and said "yes, dear." Sammy started to argue with him, but I stopped that.

Home from the vet and the kittens are, of course, still inside. They both slept with Sam last night. After a week or so, Kev just looked at me one evening, after Ollie had climbed up the back of the sofa and surfaced right above Kevin's head, and said, "They aren't going outside, are they?"

"No, dear, they aren't."

So our house has been overloaded with cuteness ever since. Reilly's old, somewhat ratty pillow bed was for some reason set on top of the dog crate, and now Ollie and Murray have claimed it for their own.

Being brothers (we're going with brothers), they stick together pretty much all the time. They do a lot of pretend fighting, too, but it's adorable. They do a LOT of sleeping, and that's really adorable. They've been with us only about 2 weeks, and they noticeably grow bigger daily. And since they seem to love Reilly's ratty pillow, it seems we're stuck with that in our living room now... but honestly, who's looking at the ratty pillow with these 2 on it?...

Sam and I went to PetSmart and loaded up on necessities for them, as well as some toys. As a result, Blossom is warming up to the kittens now since they all love the toys. Wiley still chases Blossom, but not as much because his chasing time is divided by 3 now. The kittens initially hissed whenever they got near him, but now they seem not only ok with Wiley, but curious about him. Also, I think they have discovered that Wiley is a source of warmth, so hopefully some majorly cute photos featuring Wiley, Ollie and Murray sometime in the not too distant future.

I posted the video below on facebook, but for my non-facebook friends and family, here is it is again - my friend, Megan, being adored by Murray...