Monday, December 7, 2015

Cough-cough-cough! *brushes dust off blog*

I'd like to apologize for not updating this like I should. I mean, I kept thinking about it, then I'd think- "Nah, let's wait till after _____" and then after whatever happened, I'd think about updating... and then no, let's wait till... I was a week behind uploading my photos to Flickr, then eventually two weeks... and well, things got busy.

First off- the generic Cymbalta is still a big help. It isn't perfect, but the good outweighs the bad by a huge margin, so I'll take it!

There is no news to report about the left half of my left foot. It still acts stupid and refuses to have any kind of reasonable conversation with me about why it keeps acting like a dumbass.

The bad news is that my human knee- the right one, which, incidentally is the wrong one- hurts now. I carried a cane with me at my last two faires (Stronghold- photos here; and A Gathering of Rogues & Ruffians-
  photos here and all the Bristol photos are here) and used it a little. And since my last blog post, I actually had my son go to faire with me. I was shocked! And he enjoyed himself! He went to Bristol three or four times with me and even came to GRR with me.

On Week 7 of Bristol, both my son and older daughter came to faire. She's been there before, but hadn't been for a few years. So my son got to have more fun because he didn't have to hang out with gimpy ol' me and Kat showed him around and they saw a lot of good shows.

My kids at the Joust
Left to right- Kat, Jason, Christine
Christine is a stage manager at Bristol.

Jason's first time at Bristol was Week 2- and he learned that it is both awesome and a curse when your mom and sister are on the inside of the faire. This is Cameron from Barely Balanced. I've known them for a few years now. On this day, I made sure to introduce Jason to Jimmy ("Large"), and Margret ("Small"), but didn't get a chance to talk to Cameron ("Medium") till right before the show- like less than a minute before he went on stage. And he took right off with it and made Jason come up and help him. All the photos are here... 

I think this says Facebook Profile photo all over it
Cameron said: "Where's your mom?" and pointed at me.
Then he exclaimed: "Profile photo!" 

Okay, I've gotten away from my point. That happens when you ask me about the faire. What do you mean you didn't ask? Of course you did! I clearly remember you saying: "Hey, Patty, we haven't heard from you since August... how was faire?" Don't deny it. If you didn't ask, then why did I go off on that tangent with photos? Yeah, obviously your fault! So, back to the topic...

In all of my updates and doctor visits, I never complained about my hands. I've had problems with carpal tunnel syndrome (I don't even think they call it that anymore) for more than 20 years. I started off wearing a wrist brace on my right hand- but not all the time. Just when I needed it. Then it became an every-night thing. Then my left hand joined the mutiny and for over ten years, I've slept almost every night with two wrist braces. In 2007, the VA hospital gave me new braces because the ones I had were the slightly bent kind and nowadays, (or thenadays, I guess) the braces are flat. I actually have trouble falling asleep if I'm not wearing my wrist braces. 

Several months ago, the numb-tingling in my hands got worse. And worse. A few weeks ago (or a little longer, I don't recall exact dates here), the thumb, index, and middle fingers on my left hand went numb and haven't come back at all. My right hand comes and goes in varying intensity, but the left hand... gone. I called the VA to schedule an appointment, because the doctor always said to do that- if anything changed. The scheduling department transferred me to the "nurse help desk". They took a list of my symptoms and then said they'd call back. They did and made me an appointment for the very next day. I nearly died of shock at that because damn, that's fast! 

Well, it turns out that I'm looking at surgery to fix this. Today, I missed a call from the VA and have to call back in the morning (I didn't see the message when I got home around 3-ish. I saw it at 4:05 PM and they close at 4). The doctor had to refer me to the Rheumatology clinic for steroid shots to help with my hands. They're also referring me to the neurology clinic for a "nerve conduction test". When she asked if I'd had one before, I said I wasn't sure. She replied: "You'd remember, there are needles and they poke you in your arm..." nope, never had one. Sounds fun though! 

So, hopefully all that will fix what's going on inside my hands. Because not having feeling in my fingers and hands sucks, but not as much as what happens when I use them too much. Like, you know, doing my hair, putting on makeup, brushing my teeth, doing dishes, cooking dinner, and something I obviously never do- typing. What happens then is that my thumb, index, and middle fingers on both hands go completely numb, a thousand tiny hairy-legged spiders start burrowing around under the skin, and sharp, stabbing pain shoots around my hand and down to my wrist. (as I type now, the numbness, itching, and pain are quite mild. But I'm also two hours past all my pain drugs, so bleeeeeehhhhhhh...) 

And now, let's switch back to some photos. What photos? Well, Teslacon, of course. I ended up using my cane for that entire weekend. I was resentful about that, but in all honesty, it did help. Plus, my friends made sure I got to sit down a lot. Because they're cool. First of all, all the photos are here. Secondly, they made space for me again, so I was able to take cast photos. 

And, here are some of those photos! For anyone wondering- we did this against a black curtain that was already in the room. I used my flash with a remote trigger, on a light stand with a large umbrella to diffuse the light. I took this photo from across the room. But now- on to a bunch of the cast photos!

Teslacon Cast 2015-

Teslacon Cast 2015-

Teslacon Cast 2015-

Aly and Drew

Doctor Proctocus

Teslacon Cast 2015-

Teslacon Cast 2015-

Teslacon Cast 2015-

The Baton Faction

Teslacon Cast 2015-

Teslacon Cast 2015-

Teslacon Cast 2015-

Teslacon Cast 2015-

Chips being badass

Verde and Salsa

Teslacon Cast 2015-

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Faire Day! Flare Day.

So, we're just past the fifth weekend of Bristol's season. We have nine weekends total, nineteen days (because Labor Day Monday is our closing day). And, not much has changed since my previous post about the left half of my left foot. I've been plodding along and the worst part of it is that the humidity has been kicking my butt. I've been trying to get to other shows, but I always seem to need to sit down more. And I lose the motivation to slog up that hill to stand up and take photos when I'm already so wonderfully sitting down somewhere else. But, I have four more weekends to motivate my fat ass up that hill.

"What about the title?" I can hear you asking. Well, Sunday morning, I woke up having a flareup. The weird part of it is that I didn't realize I was having a flareup till I was halfway there. I mean, I knew I was in pain, but I didn't realize it was flareup pain right away.

I spent all of Sunday, limp-dragging my left foot around behind me. Sit down, stand up, limp-drag-walk-limp-drag-walk. Okay, so maybe "drag" is a bit of an exaggeration. But I was definitely limping and I was walking much slower than usual. The only thing I can think that caused the flareup was the intense humidity. I wasn't itchy or anything, but goddamn was there pain. All over muscle pain that seemed to radiate from my joints. And from my bones in general. Even parts that didn't have joints. Like my collarbones. And my shins. Well, just- you know- all over pain.

I did survive the Faire Day Flare Day, of course. I mean, I wouldn't be here typing this if I hadn't. Monday (which is yesterday as I type this), around 2 in the afternoon, the pain in my left foot became so intense I had to take off my shoes. The whole bottom of my foot felt like it was swollen and bruised. It felt that way to the touch too, but it didn't look swollen (or have any actual bruising). I tried icing it, but it only worked for those moments when the ice was actually touching my foot. It was a lot better today- I lasted till 4 PM before I had to take my shoes off. (in both instances, by "shoes", I mean "Dr Martens boots"). I felt a lot better on Monday, compared to Sunday. And today, aside from the lingering aches from my "hot spots" (today's are my left hip and my right shoulder), I feel like my usual level of aliveness since the Generic Cymbalta started working. So far, so good.

Even in flareup pain, being a faire is a whole lot better than sitting at home. I've said it many times- I could sit at home and be miserable and in pain, or I can go to faire and be NOT-miserable, but still in pain. The choice between wallowing in my stupid disease or hanging out with beautiful people doing awesome things... c'mon. Faire is a remedy for fibro. Trust me, I've tested that theory.

Since it is only Tuesday, I haven't finished my Week 5 photos from the weekend. But, here's the Flickr link to the 2015 Bristol photos. Check back, because I add the photos on Fridays. I will, however, leave you with a bunch of my 365s from Bristol.

Day 149 of Year 6- This guy!

Day 155 of Year 6- So many squires!

Day 162 of Year 6- Day of WRONG!

Day 169 of Year 6- Bill!

Day 170 of Year 6- Five years and One day!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Tale of the Left Half of My Left Foot

Last weekend was Opening Weekend of the Bristol Renaissance Faire!

[wait for audience roar]

I KNOW! And it was just as awesome as I knew it would be, despite certain people not being there when they totally usually ARE there.
(yeah, I'm looking at you, Loki or, I guess I'm NOT looking at you right now. Dammit, Loki!)

The weather was hot and humid, so my asthma was SO NOT HAPPY, but that's why I carry an albuterol inhaler in my pouch. I'm not going to die of asthma for the sake of authenticity. Besides, have you see what I wear? I'm definitely NOT authentic. Well, that and the fact I whip out a DSLR at any given second.

Speaking of that DSLR, I chose to wear my cross-body strap on Saturday. I thought that by wearing the camera instead of basket-ing it, I'd take more photos. Well, I didn't. All it did was make BOTH my shoulders tired. See, I usually carry my basket on my right arm and I carry my mug in my left. If I get completely fatigued, I'll carry my basket in my left hand for a while. But mostly, it'll be on my right arm (crooked into my elbow). Well, by having the cross-body strap on, all I did was create drag on my other shoulder, so by mid-afternoon, my shoulders were just killing me. I went back to the basket-ing for Sunday.

Surprisingly, I didn't have any extra pain. My body wasn't in agony (I was a little itchy from the humidity, but no extra pain). And on Sunday, I even forgot to take my Vicodin before the final joust. (Just in case you don't remember or didn't know of this blog, this is what happened 3 years ago when I forgot to take my Vicodin before the final joust). I remembered about ten minutes after the joust ended, so I took it then (because I STILL had to walk up that damn hill). The only pain I was suffering from was in my left foot. That stupid, stupid left foot. Not even the whole left foot, just the left half of the left foot.

I finally figured out a way to describe the pain in the Left Half of My Left Foot. You know when you're sitting down and your foot falls asleep? And then you get up to stand and your leg crumples under you and suddenly your foot is on fire with a thousand white-hot sewing pins and knitting needles burning through your very bones? THAT. That's the feeling I have in the Left Half of My Left Foot almost all of the time. Right now, I'm seated at my desk with my foot resting on top of my man-sandals, so The Top Part of the Left Half of My Left Foot isn't so bad. But the second I slip into my man-sandals, that white-hot agony will be there.

The Monday and Tuesday that followed were normal days, except for the Left Half of My Left Foot. I wasn't in any extra pain like I've been for years after a faire day. Even my human knee didn't hurt. (my shoulders were a bit achy, but that's because of the camera/basket thing I talked about above). In fact, I wasn't in any real Not-Foot-Related pain till Wednesday, but that pain was the tendinitis in my shoulder letting me know that rain was a-comin'. Yes, "a-comin'" because that's how you say it when you have a body part alert you to its arrival.

So, I'm going to mark this up as another success for that Generic Cymbalta for fibro. So far, so good. I'm not going to be excited or overly complimentary. This is good. That's all I'm sayin'.

And now, let's talk about photography OPENING WEEKEND!! And there just so happens to be photos. As usual, ~here is the link~ to the entire album of Opening Weekend photos. And below are a whole bunch of them. Just take a look at whichever you want- the link or scroll down. How can I NOT love the faire? These people are awesome.

OH!! SIDE NOTE- I nagged convinced my son to come along to Bristol finally! He's going to come with me on Sunday!

Now, on to the photos!!

Sir Mauldron, Baron of Blackburn! (FACEBOOK)

Tournament Joust

Sir Maxmillian, the Jousting Earl of Braden! (FACEBOOK)

Tournament Joust

Duchess Anastasia of Warwick! (FACEBOOK)

Duchess Anastasia of Warwick

Sir Edgeron of Aquataine! (FACEBOOK)

Sir Edgeron of Aquataine

Don Vincenzo di Scicilia! (FACEBOOK)

Tournament Joust

Squire Archer!

Tournament Joust

Squire Freya!

Tournament Joust

Tournament Joust

Tournament Joust

Awwww, yeah... I missed this!

Tournament Joust

Squire Savvy and Squire Murley!

Joust to the Death

Dandelion fairy!

Dandelion has a new friend

By the Sword!

By the Sword

By the Sword

By the Sword

The Royal Falconer (Flight of the Raptor)

Royal Falconer

Royal Falconer

On Sunday, Mauldron's horse had a bad hoof, so instead of "on with the show" and causing further harm, he opted not to ride in the joust. Instead, he sat in the stands with the audience, walked around to other areas, talked to kids, and was otherwise genuinely hilarious. This is my favorite shot from that whole thing.

My favorite shot of the whole weekend

This is Alexx, Sir Maxx's new horse. The Lady of Chivalry is riding him at Bristol while he continues his joust-horse training.

Joust to the Death- Sunday

Friday, July 3, 2015

Some kind of update... (and the pun was intentional)

Hi there. I know it has been over a month since I updated. Not much has really been going on around here. I never did call my knee surgeon about my stupid knee. It started to feel better and now it only seems to bother me if I spend too much time standing or walking. The good thing about the faire is that I can absolutely go at my own pace and sit down a lot. (faire starts next weekend, by the way. July 11th is opening day).

I had a six-month followup at the VA hospital today. My blood tests look good and while a couple things are a little elevated, that'll change as soon as I get my ass moving next weekend. The Disabled Guy came home from his yearly Trip of Stupidity in May, then left again three weeks later. He got back on Monday (four days ago). On Tuesday, we had an extremely heated discussion (if by "heated discussion" means "all-out shouting match") about our central AC (heated discussion... AC... yeah). It seems that he's cold. I told him I can't have the house over 72° because the summer humidity sets off my asthma (which is mild) and exacerbates my fibro issues. And not even the pain issues, that's being pretty well controlled at the moment by the Generic Cymbalta. I'm talking about the under-the-skin itching, swelling, and general lack of sleep... that sort of stuff.

He kept yelling at me about how cold he was and I said that he could just put on a hoodie or something. He yelled again about how he was cold and I said- surprisingly not yelling- "You honestly cannot be mad at me for having a medical condition!" I had to repeat that a few times and added a few terse: "Fibromyalgia is a legitimate medical issue. So is asthma!" I get the feeling one of his less-than-reputable relatives (not naming names, but my kids would know who without me even saying) told him that fibro was fake.

Trust me- it isn't. And not just basing that on my own experiences, I say that because it is damn near impossible to get the VA to diagnose anything that is considered an "invisible illness" or even just a chronic illness (like, say, arthritis). So the fact that the goddamned VA hospital went through all that it has to actually diagnose me with it, well... that's a fucking legit thing. (I also found out today that my doctor had to jump through hoops, promise her firstborn, and sacrifice a small animal to get me on that Generic Cymbalta. Apparently, the VA is a dick to fibro patients *ding* (that's a CinemaSins joke)

Anyway, the I told the doctor about the conversation- minus the actual asshole behavior, because nobody really wants to hear about The Disabled Guy not being funny- and she said: "When it comes down to 'being cold' versus 'possible death', you win. When it comes down to 'being cold' versus 'severe physical discomfort', you still win." and we joked about it. Then she added: "Even though we're using a joking tone, even mild asthma isn't funny. Make sure he knows that."

I told him. He wasn't very responsive because he was watching old war movies and then eventually he was catching up on "Game of Thrones" episodes. (when he comes back from his visits to his family, he's cranky and extremely well... asshole-ish. There's a lot of extremes in living with a stroke person. Especially since his stroke is of the old-school variety. A few minutes after our blowup, he was back to normal and talking about me having two feet). I don't know if anything I said to him sank in through all the talk of dragons, random soft-core sex scenes, and whatever the hell else goes on in that show.

But, I did learn something good at my doctor appointment- the reason for my ridiculous amount of fatigue is that my thyroid has yet again gone a little wonky. So my Synthroid dosage is going to be tweaked a little. That's good news because it means that it can be fixed and it ISN'T the fibro! And that means that the Generic Cymbalta still seems to be working.

I am very awake right now- at 227 AM as I type this- because when I went to bed at 10 PM, my legs and lower back/abdomen area decided those millions of hairy-legged spiders wanted to set themselves on fire and crawl out through my skin. I'm pretty sure that was caused by the fact I had a fasting lab today (which meant no caffeine, no food, and no Vicodin in the daytime) and I had to speed-walk through the VA hospital. For some reason, I have to go in, walk halfway down one wing of the hospital to the lab, then trek all the way to the other end of a different wing to pick up a piece of red card stock with my name on it, and then go all the way back to where the lab was to the clinic where I see my doctor. Today, I said: "It'd be nice if you'd move this office, I dunno, a little closer to the clinics." They agreed, but of course, that's not going to happen.

I'd like to talk about photography, but all I got is the same old stuff. Macro flowers, raindrops on leaves. I've been adding text to photos from last season at Bristol and doing my "countdown" by uploading two to four photos at a time. If you'd like to see it, here's the link to the Facebook album. And since I don't have much else going on at the moment, here's some photos of bubbles I took last week. The pink-tinted blob in the bubble is a reflection (refraction?) of the extremely bright pink shirt I was wearing.

Day 132 of Year 6- I'm the neon pink blob...

Bubble photos-

Bubble photos-

Bubble photos-

Bubble photos-

This is my 365 self-portrait from day 121 of Year 6. I'm blowing bubbles while being back-lit by my flash. It took a lot of attempts and a lot of dripping bubble solution on my shirt to get this shot.

Day 121 of Year 6- Bubbles!

And, for funsies, here's my 365 self-portrait from day 125 of Year 6. People were sharing the article about how zookeepers and such were "Pratting" with their animals. So, I did the same with mine.

Day 125 of Year 6- Pratting...

And I did take some macro water drops, so here are a few...

Raindrops on roses

Bleeding heart leaf/leaves

Bleeding heart leaf/leaves

Bleeding heart leaf/leaves