Category: Uncategorized

2/25/2020

I spent the day today practicing interviewing with the college seniors from the college Rich and I attended.  It’s always fun to give back, and hopefully, the students will get good jobs with their newly improved interviewing skills.

Last night, I worked on the images I want to turn into cards.  I die cut a ton of frames for the images with different dies, and put them in piles to now turn into cards.  My goal for tomorrow is to finish them, and since it took all evening to die cut the frames, it should give me a lot of cards to use going forward.

I made this diamond painting for my sister, who is Catholic.  She fell a couple of weeks ago and had to have surgery on her wrist, and I thought she’d really like this image.

IMG_0036I wanted to surprise my sister with this gift, and hope she really likes it.  I’m trying to find something that is large enough to mail this and the larger diamond painting I made of my nephew and his bride on the beach.  It’s almost double the size of Mother Mary.

I’ve been having so much fun with diamond painting and finding ways to diamond paint on things that aren’t painting, and hope some of you will give this craft a try.  I can’t recommend it more highly.  You don’t have to buy a bunch of extra tools, the ones you need come with every new kit you buy.  It’s inexpensive too, and I like that as well..

 

2/23-2/24/2020

I’m feeling a lot better, and the steroid burst I’m taking is giving me a lot of energy.  I have been using the inhaler too, so between the two medicines, I have a lot of energy and am a little bit shaky, since that’s a side effect of the inhaler.

I decided I needed to get back in the craft room, so made a video showing a diamond painting haul that shows how you don’t have to do paintings to diamond paint.  I really enjoy the craft aspect of diamond paintings, but don’t have the wall space for them.  I talked to a company called Fansells, and they sent me five items, with only two being paintings.  I wanted to show viewers that you can try this craft with a very small investment (usually under $6,) and come away feeling relaxed.  I’m not sure why I like diamond painting so much, but I do.  I guess it’s because you don’t have to do much thinking, and the feeling of accomplishment comes quickly.  I loved the finished results when I used diamonds called rhinestones, as the end result is really sparkly and exciting.  I made a luggage tag that Rich didn’t think was practical, as the luggage handlers could easily destroy the art just by throwing our bags around….so I decided to convert it into a note pad.  It was easy and I liked the end result.  Of course, you can always use this luggage tag on your carry-on bag, but I wanted to give people options.

On vacation, during the evening, I finished covering the front of a notebook with diamonds (rhinestones.)  It is really attractive, and I think I could give them as gifts.  I received another notebook from Fansells, that has a peacock on the front, and I think it will be even better looking when it’s complete.

I was going through one of the drawers where I store cardstock, and found a bunch of smaller images that I had colored with watercolor pencils after my hip replacement four years ago.  There were so many of them, and there were a wide variety of images, I decided I needed to do something with them.  I decided I would get out a bunch of the pre-made card bases many of us have purchased at Michaels at one time or another.  In my case, I’ve bought a lot of them, and in a wide variety of colors and styles.  I thought I would make a video showing you how to use scraps of cardstocks, as well as the colored images, to make a bunch of quick and easy cards.  Of course, with that being said, I’ve only finished two cards, because I started making big mistakes, and that’s when I know it’s time to stop.  Rich had gone to the gym to hang with his basketball buddies, and our humidifier made a loud noise because it needed water, thus putting Honey into a state of panic.  I decided to take all of the images I’d colored into our bedroom with watercolor pencils, and add more color and highlights to them.  It took me almost an hour to play with them because, as I said, there are a lot of images, but now I’m ready to put them to use.  I’m going to use a bunch of my dies to cut the images and then cut another layer to line the image out of my scrap box.  I plan on making a video showing the end result, and maybe showing how I made one of the finished cards.

Today, I had to go to the dermatologist to have a biopsy of the skin on the top of my scalp.  Last year, I had some skin cancer removed from that spot, and it left a small spot that is still really tender to touch.  My dermatologist can’t decide if it’s scar tissue, pre-cancer, or more skin cancer, so he wanted to take a small biopsy, which he did.  He’s really good at removing tissue, and his injections to numb me never hurt for more than a few seconds.  The whole procedure maybe takes five minutes, and since my mother had melanoma, and that’s hereditary, I try to be diligent about having my skin checked annually.   I have very fair skin and have a lot of (I’ll call them) freckles, all over.  I’ve had so many of them removed, and it’s not made a dent in the sheer volume, but I’m always glad when I get the results, and really, have only had my scalp come back with skin cancer, and luckily, not melanoma, which is far more dangerous.

I’m going back into the craft room to work on the simple cards I want to make, and hope I can make a small dent in the number of images I’ve colored.  It was funny when I found them, as I completely forgot coloring them.  Now if I could only find the art journal I’ve been working on for the past year….I’d be extremely happy if it turned up.

 

 

 

Recap of My Doctor’s Appointment 2/20/20

I went to my doctor’s appointment yesterday for the chest cold that I got while in St. Maarten.  My doctor is scared to prescribe even antibiotics, and practices medicine like she is afraid.  I’m not sure if she was sued for malpractice, but she definitely doesn’t like to prescribe common medications.  She asked me once if I had trouble sleeping and I told her I did.  She said she would prescribe a sleeping agent, and did.  I was frankly surprised that she offered the prescription, but when I filled it, I was no longer surprised.  She gave me five pills.  Five..  Apparently she was concerned I would get addicted to them if I had access to more.  Oh, and no refills.

Back to yesterday’s appointment.  When I checked in, there was a sign in the lobby that said if I had a number of symptoms, I should wear one of their masks, but the box was empty.  When I checked in, I explained that I had a cough and there were no masks in the lobby, and the receptionist gave me one.  I told her I didn’t know if I was infectious, and had been in the Caribbean when I got sick, so she gave me a mask immediately, and threw away the pen I wrote with. (Smart move on her part, in my opinion.  I have not been diagnosed with anything, so it’s better to be safe than sorry, and I don’t want to infect anyone else if I can avoid it.)  They put me in a room and the nurse took my blood pressure, temperature and whatever that finger-thing they clip on measures.  The nurse didn’t seem concerned, and put the finger-clip thing back in her pocket and I pointed to it and asked if she was going to disinfect it.  She seemed a little miffed about it and said she would, but I’m not so sure.

The doctor came into the room and asked me some questions about symptoms, and I explained how I was feeling.  She asked if I had taken any over-the-counter medications, and I said I had.  Apparently, the only ones she feels that would be of value if I had a head cold (which I didn’t) would be the ones you have to ask a pharmacist for.  The ones people can use to make meth.  They really help with relieving the symptoms associated with a head cold, but NOT a chest cold, like I have.  The others, the ones I took, she doesn’t think are helpful.  Since I mainly had a cough, I thought the ones with dextromethorphan would be the most effective for me, (as they are in the cold aisle) and told her that.  She ignored that and did the examination…She looked in my mouth, had me say ahhh, and might have looked in my ears, and then got out the stethoscope.  She took one listen to me deep breathing and said “Oh.”  Rich could see her face and said her eyes got really big when she said it.  She listened to deep breathes and then had me breathe normally for a long time and then was done.  She sat down and said “You have restrictive lung disease.”  And then said something about asthma symptoms and prescribed a burst of prednisone and a rescue inhaler and said if I don’t feel better by Friday, to give her a call and she’ll prescribe something more then.  She had asked if I have had these symptoms in the past, and I said yes, about twenty years ago.  I’m not sure if that’s one of the reasons she gave the diagnosis, but regardless, she felt that’s what I have.  I’ll explain this more later.

When I got home, I called my sister, who almost always talks to me on speaker.  I told her the diagnosis and my brother-in-law, who was an Emergency Room physician as his career, said something in the background that I couldn’t understand.  My sister said “John thinks you were misdiagnosed.”  I trust John implicitly, because he’s an amazing diagnostician, and diagnosed my arthritis over the telephone while he was in medical school, after I’d been to five doctors/specialists who could not diagnose it.   I didn’t really think much about what he’d said, because I hadn’t done any research on restrictive lung disease.  I thought it was another term for asthma.

I was going to write this post this morning, but wanted to research my diagnosis so I could explain it, and I was amazed and disgusted by what I read, and I read a lot.  Apparently there’s no cure for restrictive lung disease and it’s cause can be rheumatoid arthritis.  I am angry.  My doctor did not base her diagnosis on my symptoms, instead, based it solely on the fact that I have arthritis.   If I was someone who had lung issues often, which I am not, or if this lung issue happened out of the blue, and not after both Rich and I had the same chest cold, then I would understand the correlation.  Also, restrictive lung disease isn’t contagious, but she wiped her stethoscope with alcohol immediately after removing it from my chest and made sure my mask was in place the entire visit, except when she had me say “Ahhh.”

Instead, my brother-in-law says I have asthmatic bronchitis.  Totally curable and, bronchitis caused by a virus, is contagious.  He said my doctor gave me the correct medications, and if I don’t run a fever, or have a change in mucus color, I should be fine.  I asked him how my doctor based her diagnosis (because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t barking up the wrong tree,) and he said she based it on the fact that you have rheumatoid arthritis.  I was right, and that’s SO frustrating to me.  My doctor apparently couldn’t see the forest of evidence for the tree of my arthritis and wanted to make sure she covered the worst case scenario and hope that I would be happy that in fact, I didn’t have restrictive lung disease.

Rich thinks I’m overreacting, and should let it go.  He didn’t read any of the information on restrictive lung disease, because if he had, he would have been as upset as I am.  It can be fatal….It’s not curable, and the only way to diagnose it, is with a test done with  breathing into a machine, and, chest X-rays, CT scan or an Endoscope that they put in your airway.  None of those tests were performed.  I know I should let it go, but I can’t.  I’m mad that this diagnosis is now in my medical records and that my insurance company will think I have this (from the code the doctor used for my diagnosis.)  I don’t know what either of those things means to me, but when you have a chronic health issue, you worry about these things.  Like I did in high school, when teachers would tell us, “this will go on your permanent record.”  Maybe it means nothing, like those threats, but maybe, in the future, my insurance company could decide not to cover a “preexisting condition related to my lungs because of this diagnosis,” you never know.  OK, I never know…

I wish I could change medical doctors, but all of the “good” family practice doctors in our area aren’t taking new patients, and I don’t want to drive an hour for things like this.  I am exceptionally lucky, because I know I have my brother-in-law, my sister and my nephew, who are both RN’s, to help me through any kind of medical questions or issues.  I think that’s the real reason I don’t change family practitioners, because I know I have a backup for when things like this happen.  And frankly, my rheumatologist is the one that writes all of my prescriptions, even antibiotics, because my family doctor won’t.  It’s sad when a medical doctor who went to good schools is afraid to practice medicine and makes a diagnosis like this.

 

2/18/2020

I’m almost finished with the Mother Mary diamond painting I’m making for my sister, who fell last week and broke her wrist.  She’s having surgery on her wrist Thursday, so they can put some plates and screws in it to stabilize it.  My sister (for those of you who might not know,) has type 1 diabetes, and has had it since she was four.  She’s now sixty-two and has been really struggling with the complications the disease is throwing her way.  She lacks balance, and is falling a lot more often than we would hope.  I bought the painting before she fell, and when I saw it, I knew my sister would love it, and I hope she does.  I should have it completed tomorrow, and will try to get it in the mail so my sister has it when she gets home from the hospital.

I left the house today for the first time since getting back from St. Maarten….I had promised the college Rich and I attended, that I would give a seminar on interviewing, and had already postponed it a week…I didn’t want to postpone it a second time, so gave the seminar today.  I made sure none of the students were anywhere near me, and didn’t touch any of the papers that I gave them.  The papers have been in a folder for months, and I had one of the students pull them out of the folder and distribute them.  I would feel awful if I knew I gave this cold to anyone beside Rich.  It’s inevitable that we share colds.

Rich has been worrying about the fact that I can’t get rid of my cold, and today, after some serious nagging on Rich’s part, I called our family doctor to make an appointment.  Our doctor doesn’t like to give prescriptions for anything, and I know, will pat me on the back and send me home, telling me to drink more fluids and rest.  I’m taking Rich to the appointment, because he’ll push her to do more for me.  He’s a lot more aggressive with doctors than I am, and is tough on any doctors I see.  He’s physically threatened doctors that he thought were hurting me, and although they were good natured about it, have never forgotten he threatened them….So he’s a terrific advocate for me, but also a little on the scary side.  I think he’ll be fine at this appointment, or I wouldn’t be taking him.  I’ve been coughing up a lot of colored phlegm, and Rich thinks I’ve got a respiratory infection.  When I called for the appointment, I told the nurse I’ve had this cold for over two weeks, and her response, was “Have you taken any over-the-counter medications for the cold?”  Of course I have.  I’ve taken several different products, as none of them have made me feel better….Isn’t that what we all do before going to the doctor?  I felt like it was only common sense to have done so, but apparently my doctor’s office was hoping I would say no and then they would tell me to take some before coming in to see the doctor.  I hate to think that I’m wasting anyone’s time, but after two weeks and no end in sight, I guess I thought I should maybe see if there’s something else wrong, and that’s the real reason I’m not feeling better.

I’ll update you on how things go, but if I had to guess, my doctor will think I wasted her time…even though she gets paid for my visit..

I would like to get back into the craft room but don’t have the ambition to do more than placing diamond pieces on a canvas, and I’ve only felt good enough to do that since Sunday, when I started the Mother Mary portrait.  Maybe I’m under estimating what my doctor will do….And if that’s the case, it’s either because she hears a lot of stuff rattling around in my lungs, or Rich scares her into doing something.  My money’s on Rich..

We’ve been home for a full week…..

And still the cold lingers on.  I don’t know why it is that when you get a cold on vacation, they just seem to last forever.  We went on a Mediterreanean cruise (many years ago) for our 25th wedding anniversary and on a bus tour, a lovely gentleman coughed actual phlegm on the back of Rich’s neck..We caught the worst colds from that, and mine lasted for a month…and I’m not making it up.  I really hope that this one doesn’t last that long, but it’s really holding on.  I probably told you all of the preventative measures I took, but of course, they didn’t work.

Since we’ve been home, I have yet to wear real clothes…I’ve only had two showers in a week, and went from one set of pajamas to another after those showers…and I feel really pathetic for doing this, but don’t have the energy for anything more.  Valentine’s Day was a big celebration.  We ate chicken noodle soup and crackers…oh yeah, we live exciting lives.

My sister fell last week and has to have surgery on her wrist this Thursday…I had bought a diamond painting of Mother Mary (my sister is Catholic,) and I thought she would really like the painting.  I started working on it yesterday and might have it done and sent to her in time for her to have it when she gets home from the hospital.  Her mail service is lousy, but maybe this time, mail will get there in two days, like it’s supposed to…I’ll be sure to post a photo of the Mary diamond painting before I mail it to her.  That’s the extent of the excitement we’ve had since we’ve been home.  Wait, Rich did take Bella for grooming, and the groomer decided she needed to have her hair cut relatively short.  I’m not sure why he did that, but she has a ton of hair, and even cut shorter (for a golden retriever,) she’s a big fuzz ball…Cute, and fuzzy…

I guess that wraps up my week…Let’s hope next week is better.

A Different Alcohol Marker Technique on Vellum, Using Hand Sanitizer

I started with a Jumbo Peony Stamp from Stampendous and stamped it with Gina K’s Black Amalgam Ink and then used clear embossing powder and heat set it on a piece of vellum that was cut to 5 x 7″. I used Blick alcohol markers that I got at Christmas…I think they have discontinued their markers and are only selling brush markers…bummer. I used a lot of colors in purples to color the back of the image…You don’t want to color on the front for this technique to work. The darker the colors used, the better. I used a wide variety of colors on the back of the vellum image, and once the marker ink was dry, I used a rag with hand sanitizer from the Dollar Tree on to dab the colors off.   It worked really well and I liked the effect I got from doing this. I cut a card base with Recollections Heavyweight 9 1/2″ wide x 5 7/8″ tall. It’s 9 1/2″ wide and scored at 4 3/4″ to make the card front 4 3/4″.

I cut a frame out of glitter paper by using my largest rectangle die and one that was the next smaller die, and cut them with my Vagabond to put on the front of the card. I glued the peony image to the front of our card base using a Tonic Studio glue pen and gluing behind the peony only. I also glued the outer edges because the frame will be on top of the glue.  I used my Stampin’ Up snips and trimmed off the excess vellum once it was glued to the card front.

I stamped “Thinking of You” inside the card with Versafine Onyx Black Ink and then used nail art that I bought on ebay (Link: https://tinyurl.com/vh56obg) and my diamond picker from diamond art paintings to adhere the nail art. I glued the frame to the front using thin foam tape, and then used Wink of Stella markers I bought on Amazon (link: https://tinyurl.com/t2ejg7n) to add color and sparkle to the front of the vellum peony. I added a die cut “Hello” from the same glitter paper as the frame to the front of the card and made an envelope using my We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch board and added washi tape to the bottom of the envelope to make it match the card.

St. Maarten Vacation Wrap Up

St. Maarten is such a wonderful, relaxing place, but travel home has always been terribly stressful for us.  I’ve talked to so many people our age that tell us they’ve never missed a connection, never even had a delayed flight, and we laugh.  I can honestly say that we have almost NEVER flown anywhere (within the USA or outside,) that we haven’t been delayed for one reason or another.  This trip was no exception.  The airport in St. Maarten was seriously damaged in the hurricane of 2018.  It has been two and one-half years since the hurricane, but the airport is still not operating at capacity.  I was trying to find a good way to say that, since I don’t want to discourage tourists from going there, but, with that being said, the airport was a mess.  Just to check in, (after printing our boarding documents before coming to the airport,) was awful.  The average wait time to get to the counter, was between two and three hours.  As soon as we got to the counter, the woman working there, tore up the documents I’d waited in line to print at our hotel for an hour.  I’m not sure why, but she said they were worthless.  We’ve never had any airlines rip up boarding passes, but then again, I have no idea why she did that.

Then we had more forms to fill out (while checking in) and it probably took us ten minutes there, even though we had our seat assignments and had prepaid for our luggage before arriving there that day.  And then the line from there to TSA….it wrapped the whole first floor of the airport….Our plane came in over an hour late, and if it hadn’t, a lot of the people who would have been on it, wouldn’t have made it from check-in because of the lines…The people of St Maarten are upset about the airport, and well they should be…It’s what’s standing between them getting tourism to 100%, and that means less jobs for all of them.  I wish I could say that we saw a lot of construction going on but we didn’t.

We’d heard people complaining about traffic jams, and only saw it once.  Wednesday from 4-6PM, there was a line of cars wrapped from Maho Beach to well past the Atrium in Simpson Bay.  Only going in one direction, so I’m not sure if maybe there was an accident that stopped traffic, but it was the only time we saw the traffice worse than any other time we’ve been there.  Overall, we thought the traffic was the same…

We flew Spirit Airlines and I know we all complain about lack of leg room and tight seats, but this airline takes cheap to a whole new level..Leg room isn’t great, but the seats don’t recline at all and are smaller than normal, and we were in “the good seats,” the ones they reserve for people with physical limitations..I can’t imagine how much smaller the seats would have been further back in the plane.  The pockets in the backs of the seats are bungee cords in an “X” shape, so nothing you try to put inside can possibly stay there, unless you figure out a way to lodge your item behind the security information pamphlet…and they made sure the security information is well and truly secured to the seat back….Of course this is a no-frill airline, but there’s a disconnnect between no frills and complete discomfort, and that’s where this airline comes into play.

Our connection shouldn’t have been tight, as we initially had almost three hours to play with.  But, as per usual with us, there’s always a snag.  Customs told us we had to walk through a set of double doors (in Ft Lauderdale airport) where we could drop our bags for re-boarding them onto the US based flight.  We walked through the doors and there’s a sign that says that area is closed.  It wasn’t late at night, maybe 9PM, and there were no further directions.  While in customs, one of the employees approached me (because I was bent over the wheelchair trying to stretch my back) and asked me if I was OK.  I said I was, and then asked about the flight to Pittsburgh, because I knew we were running close…She said it was leaving on time through gate G2.  I asked if that was a long walk, and she said, No, it’s right outside TSA….Great.  There were no arrival/departure boards that we could see, and our tickets also said G2, as I checked them after the customs woman gave me the gate number, just to be on the safe side.

We ended up at the ticketing counter, where Rich went to the front of the line and just threw our bags on one of the bag slots and, at this point, I thought his head might explode if someone tried to stop him….As we were hauling two big suitcases, a wheelchair, and a carry-on, my travel Vera bag, and Rich’s backpack.  Now we only had to get through TSA.  For some reason, others with wheelchairs are offered assistance…that never happens with us.  I even asked for it this trip and was told everyone had to be off of the plane before they could help me.  That made no sense since I’d seen four or five other people taken off with wheelchairs and assistance before we ever got my chair at the entrance to the plane.  So we struggled on…and ran into another man assisting a woman at TSA.  Rich asked him where we should go and he said “anywhere.”  Which isn’t true..there’s always a line devoted to people with wheelchairs, but we couldn’t find it.  We got to the place where you take everything off and put it on the conveyor belt, and someone told me to put my wheelchair “over there,” so I did.  I’m now standing there and at one point was told to get in line for the scanner.  I normally don’t qualify for it, as I can’t get my arms over my head.  I tried, and they told me to get out and go through another machine that immediately beeped like crazy because of my four artificial joints.  Back out of it…Now my shoes and my wheelchair are gone and I’m standing there…The woman that had assistance, I thought had already gone through, as I saw her in the machine where you put your arms over your head…Somehow she was now back in her chair behind me again.  So I decided to lean on the glass partition that separated me from Rich and the rest of the world.  And waited.  No one asked what I was doing, and I just stood there….and stood there…for thirty minutes, I stood there…at the end, I was crying because I knew I was missing my flight and there was nothing I could do to stop it.  I’d tried asking the people working TSA if they had a female to pat me down, but they basically ignored me…And when a woman finally did come over to do the pat down, out of nowhere the other lady in the wheelchair that I thought was long gone, appeared and wanted to go first.  I don’t blame her, but on the other hand, if her flight was later than mine, couldn’t someone have figured out how to acommodate both of us?

The TSA agent that patted her down disappeared after that, never to be seen again….I’m still standing there..Rich is asking everyone if they can help me, and they just ignored him.  A woman approached and I asked if there were any female agents that could pat me down, and she took pity on me and did so.

And now Rich is literally running to get us to G2….it’s not right outside TSA, it’s the furthest gate from TSA….which seemed weird, until we got there, and the gate people said our gate had been changed to G8 (right outside TSA)….He’s running again, and when we finally get to G8, we find out our flight has been delayed.  If it hadn’t, we would have missed it, all because of TSA, and that seems wrong to me.

I never saw one departure/arrival sign anywhere in that entire airport.  When we got to Pittsburgh, we called our hotel to send their van for us.  It was after 2AM when we got to the airport, and it was deserted…..Half hour later, still no van…Rich calls again, and the hotel profusely apologizes and says he should have been there a long time ago.  Another half hour and he arrives and Rich is MAD…..where have you been?  Driver says he’s only been told we were there five minutes before….and there’s another group from our same flight, waiting at another door…they’d called five times. Our driver calls his dispatcher who says he can’t keep track of all the calls he’s got coming in…How many calls could he be getting from a deserted airport?  We get to our hotel after 3AM and by now we’re both past the stage of exhaustion, but Rich is still got a boatload of adrenaline from our last hour’s wait.

All in all, I wish I knew the secrets that other travelers have.  The ones who are never delayed…who get good service and are treated well.  I feel like we make the wrong choices when nothing ever seems to go as planned when we travel, and we almost always end up frustrated and upset.

If I could wiggle my nose like Samantha in “Bewitched,” I’d go to St Maarten (or anywhere) in a heartbeat…but knowing the pitfalls of travel that plague us, I’m sure my nose wiggle would somehow transport me to a customs agent with a glove and a cavity search in my future.