Needles to say… by Sam

**Yes, I know that says “needles,” instead of “needless.”  I did that on purpose.  If needles are a problem for you, RUN NOW.  I still love you.  Oh, and they’re a problem for me, too; but, sometimes, you have no choice.

Well, I certainly do know how to keep ’em hopping! This morning I went in for what was supposed to be a routine nerve block. Routine for me, that is, because, while most people are told to fast and not drink water before the procedure, I am told to drink water and a cup of coffee before mine, since I have a tendency to faint. Oh, and, yeah, nerve blocks are pretty routine for me these days. Now, usually, this procedure takes about 15 minutes.  Shane drives me to Kaiser, I register in the Pain Management Department, and, within in a few minutes, they call me back.  We have learned to make sure I am well-hydrated (and have had a cup of strong coffee) when I arrive; that I am given oxygen during the procedure, and that my vitals are monitored throughout.  You know, and that there are smelling salts handy.  No, it shouldn’t be this hard.

When I arrived, my blood pressure was already low, so the doctor decided to start an I.V.  I warned him that a) my veins are tiny, and b) I am a great big baby.  Every time I need to have a blood test, I lead with, “I tend to faint.”  They have me lie down, and, as a result, I hardly ever faint.  This morning, I was sitting in a chair when the I.V. was inserted.  It honestly did not occur to me to ask if I could lie down, even though I have fainted with I.V.s before.  The doctor put in the I.V., and he did a great job.  Got it right in on the first try, and I remember thinking, “Wow, that wasn’t bad at all.  I barely even felt it.”

And then I was coming to.  They were hooking me up to all kinds of monitors and giving me oxygen.  Poor Dr. Pastushenko.  I am always doing stuff like this.  Well, since I was already there and hooked up to an I.V. and everything, they decided to give me fluids and monitor me until my vitals were back to normal.  This took some time.  Poor Shane was sitting in the waiting room with absolutely no idea what was going on, so, once I was settled, I asked the nurse if someone could let him know that I was okay, but it was probably going to take a little longer than planned.

After about 45 minutes, I think ~ it’s hard to tell, as I was a bit hazy at the time ~ my vital signs looked good, so I was moved in to the room and prepped for a lumbar sympathetic nerve block.  These nerve blocks aren’t especially entertaining.  First, you’re lying face down on a table with a pillow under you, so your bum’s in the air.  In my case, you’re doing this while attached to all kinds of tubes and wires, and the pulse oximeter keeps slipping off your tiny fingers and setting off alarms until the doctor, in a stroke of genius, clamps it on your thumb.  Problem solved!  Oh, but before the doctor comes in, they open the back of your gown and pull your pants half down.  So, face down on a table, hooked up to a bunch of crap, setting off alarms, with your half-naked bum in the air.  So, maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe it is entertaining.  It’s like your typical wild party.  I mean, if that’s the way you party, I guess.

Luckily, the I.V. fluids and oxygen helped a lot.  Also, I found that picking a spot in the distance to focus on while taking deep relaxed breaths helped.  I didn’t even have to close my eyes.  Why I usually have to close my eyes is beyond me.  It’s not like I can see my lower back while lying face down on a narrow little table.  The actual nerve block was par for the course.  First, you are numbed locally.  They do this, I think, to lull you in to a false sense of security, because, the truth is, when they administer the actual nerve block itself, you can still feel it.  Well, I can still feel it.  I have no idea how it is for anyone else.  But, you know, then it is over, and, though it is not the way I would want to, say, celebrate my birthday, I know that, in the long run, it will lessen the pain in my foot and leg, so I can continue to use them more normally, and that’s important to me.  It’s been flaring up a lot lately, and the pain now travels farther up my leg than it had, so something had to be done to try to halt it, at least for a little while.

I am monitored until the I.V. fluids are gone (not all of the I.V. fluids in the hospital, just the ones that were already hooked to my arm), the doctor evaluates me, and I am cleared for take-off.  Very slow, walking, on the ground take-off.  No lifting, pulling, driving…or, you know, actually flapping my arms and flying, I suppose.  Already, my leg feels better.  When I walk on it, I am aware of the difference.  Pain doesn’t shoot up through my knee with each step, and that is a vast improvement.  My feet are the same temperature ~ which is still probably colder than normal feet, but better than when the CRPS-affected foot is markedly different in temperature than the other one.

So, now, I rest.  Since the procedure took a couple of hours longer than anticipated, Shane called in and took the rest of the day off.  I hate to make him miss work, but I am glad to have him here, so I can just rest all day.

The verdict, in the end, was that the I.V. helped enough that we are going to have to make it part of my protocol.  From now on, however, we are going to make sure I am lying down with my feet up when it is started.  Everyone is always surprised that I have so much trouble with needles, when I have so many tattoos.  The thing is, no one ever tattooed into my veins.  I can take other kinds of needles.  I pierced my ears with pins ~ CHILDREN: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.  It was a really stupid idea, and I am lucky I still have ears.  I actually have a pretty high pain threshold. I think I must just have a very low “vein threshold.”  I don’t really even like talking about my veins, or seeing them through my skin.  *shudder*

So, I have to figure out how to get over the whole fainting with I.V.s thing.  But not right now.  Right now, I’ll just read a book.  A book that’s not about veins.

And Away We Go! ~ by Sam

IMG_0674After years of procrastinating, manufacturing excuses and waiting for someone to help me, I spent the last several days setting up my etsy shop.

For a long time, I waited because I “wasn’t sure how it worked.”  You know, there are ways to learn these things.  You can, for instance, go to etsy, and read all about how it works.  Then, there was “what if it stresses me out, and I can’t handle the pressure?”  Well, then, I guess I stop.  Or, you know, learn to manage stress.  Then there was, “I’m not sure I understand how to set it up…”

But all of those things were just excuses.  Why would I make excuses to avid doing a thing I wanted to do?  I had to think about that for a long time. At one point, I tried to convince myself that, maybe, I didn’t really want to do it.  But I didn’t believe me.  The truth was I was scared.  I was afraid of failing.  Wouldn’t that be a sad way to live life ~ so afraid of failing that we just never try?  That’s not me.  I am a risk-taker.  I leap in.  I take chances.  I crave a adventure and excitement (which means I would make a terrible Jedi, I guess).

So, you know what?  I figured it out.  First, I took pictures.  They aren’t the greatest pictures, and I know that.  I will take better pictures in the future.  I didn’t wait until I had all of the things I wanted to list, because, for crying out loud, can we just be done with all the waiting and freaking DO something already??  I listed what I have now.  I wasn’t sure what to charge, so I searched similar items, and decided on what seemed like reasonable pricing, based on what others are charging.  I wasn’t sure if my stuff would sell.  You know what?  I am STILL not sure if my stuff will sell; and, really, so what if it doesn’t?

I did it.  I said I would open my shop, and I did.  2016 is looking better every day.

And, you know, I have gotten off track here at “The Low Life,” too.  For that, I apologize.  Maybe I have gotten off track in life altogether.  The way I see it, now that I have taken time to work it all out in my head, every day is a new opportunity, and I plan to keep leaping.

I know I haven’t been posting about ways to save money, live gently and frugally, minimize stress, etc. lately; and I am not doing much better with this entry so far, but I promise I will try to get back on track (See?  Terrible Jedi material.  I still think there IS “try.”).  Let’s see if I can turn that around just a little bit today.

Today, I can say this: I have skills that I think are marketable.  Maybe people will like what I make, and want to buy it.  If so, I will make a little money.  That takes a little pressure off our shoulders financially.  Awesome!  Also, I find making these items enjoyable.  It’s one of those things that feeds my soul: creating something beautiful.  It makes me feel connected to my world, like I have purpose and the work I am doing is meaningful, because it makes people happy.  So, this could help me with money matters as well as stress management.  Then there’s that part about living gently.  I firmly believe that putting beautiful things out in to the world for others to enjoy is like making a deposit in my own happiness bank. You know ~ what goes around comes around.  So, I hope my designs will bring people joy, because then there will be more joy in the world, and that makes the world a better place.  I guess you could say there is a kind of gentleness toward the world in that.  Right?

Okay.  That last part was a reach (but I really do believe it!).  How’s this? ~ I promise to come back with some good money/stress/environment-saving tips in the very near future.  In fact, (I think) I have a pretty great one up my sleeve already, and can hardly wait to try it.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

If you are interested, please hop on over to etsy and check it out.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/PetuniaBones?ref=hdr_shop_menu

Thanks for stopping by!

How I Really Feel ~ by Sam.

There are very few things in this world I can say I hate.  Don’t get me wrong, there are things (and maybe people) I might have reason to hate.  My life has not been a bed of roses all the time ~ or, maybe it has been a bed of roses, complete with aphids and giant thorns, but generally sweet-smelling and beautiful, from a distance.  Look, I’m not saying I’ve had the hardest life in the world.  In truth, I have been blessed.  There are those few things, ‘though, that might incite a modicum of rancor.  But, see, I don’t do that.  I don’t do rage well, and I have trouble holding a grudge, or having malevolent thoughts toward anyone or anything.  I’ve tried ~ oh, how I’ve tried! ~ but I am not easily incited to hate, even by the most destestable of things.  Onions, which I might say I hate, are not really all that despised.  I still use them in cooking, and I even eat them on occasion (not raw ~ that’s just crazy talk).  But hate?  Hate is reserved for the lowest of the low.  I don’t think I even hate cockroaches.   I mean, I don’t want to hang out with them, and they terrify me for some inexplicable reason, but hate?  Nah.  Not really.

There is one thing I can think of in all the world that I hate with a passion: Cancer.  I hate Cancer.  I actively hate it, as if I think my hate might destroy it, once and for all.  Cancer has, more than anyone or anything in this world, hurt me and the people I love.  It is insidious ~ hiding, undetected, lying in wait for its next victim.  It robs people of their health, their dignity, their lives.  It leaves families and communities devastated in its wake.  It tears apart foundations we thought were unshakable.  It is torturous and cruel.  And there’s not even someone you can blame.  No one to kick in the shins; no one at whom to hurl obscenities; no mouth to punch.  I hate it.  It has robbed me of so many people I love ~ not “loved,” but STILL LOVE, because love does not end with death ~ and caused so many more to suffer indescribably.  I detest it, with every fiber of my being.

With the death of David Bowie on Sunday of this week, and Alan Rickman on Thursday ~ both due to that insidious beast, Cancer ~ I find myself confronting that anger, once again.  That hate, for a thing I cannot change.  It’s not fair.  The world should have had them longer.  Their immense talent should have lived to see thousands more sunsets.  Thousands.  Generations of young people will know them as “late.”  “The late David Bowie.”  “The late Alan Rickman.”  How is that so, when their talent burned so brightly, and they were so real and present and tangible, just moments ago?  The people I know (so very many) who are Cancer survivors shouldn’t have had to wage a war within their own bodies.  Those who did not survive should still be here.  But Cancer.  Cancer doesn’t care.

And so, if you ask me what I hate, I will say, “Cancer.”  I hate it, and if there is anything in the world I think I can do to fight it, I will.  It’s sucker-punched me one time too many.

As I can’t find a better way to wrap up my rhetoric this morning, I will leave you with the words of two immensely talented men whose light shone so brightly in their all too brief time on Earth:

“If only life could be a little more tender and art a little more robust.”
Alan Rickman (Feb. 21, 1946-Jan. 14, 2016)

“The truth is, of course, that there is no journey.  We are all arriving and departing all at the same time.”
David Bowie (Jan. 8, 1947-Jan.10, 2016)

May they rest in peace.

 

Necessity ~ by Sam

I keep trying to come up with something to say about the New Year, and, you know what?  I got nothin’.

I am a work in progress.  If I make any headway, you’ll be the first to know.

I think I started out to write about how necessity is the mother of invention… and I am not even sure now where I was going with that.  I think my brain has gone to bed before the rest of me this evening.  Perhaps, I was going to invent something to write about.  Oh, well.  Whatever it was, it’s gone.  I guess I am not feeling very inventive.

I did have a moment, not long ago, when we got up to Lake Arrowhead for a brief vacation with friends, and I realized I had brought my banjo, but not my fingerpicks.  I could have tried to play without picks, but I have virtually no fingernails to speak of, and, besides, I like to play with fingerpicks.  So, out of necessity, I fashioned some preposterous little fingerpicks out of the poptops (from ginger beer cans) and paperclips.  They were pretty silly-looking, and not the most comfortable thing in the world, but I was able to play, and that made vacation much better.  For me, anyway.  I can’t say anyone else felt about it.

IMG_9870IMG_9873IMG_9874

So, maybe there is hope yet for my inventiveness.  Maybe it’s just napping.  If not, at least I can play my banjo.

Ring it in ~ by Sam

Things I learned in 2015:

  1. When you think it can’t get any harder, it probably can.
  2. I am stronger than I think I am.
  3. At the end of the day, my opinion of myself matters most.
  4. So much of our life depends on how we decide to feel about it, what we decide to take away from each experience.  We are, with every passing moment, creating our own reality.
  5. I choose to be happy.

In 2016, I plan to:

1. Play my banjo.
2. Be someone I like.
3. Do my exercises.

I think the rest should fall into place.

Happy New Year.

I hope 2016 is the best year yet. May 2016 bring you health, happiness and prosperity.