Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Doggie Dash, Health and the Heat Wave

The Doggie Dash was a lot of fun. I am sad that my dog wasn't able to participate, but he doesn't know the difference. I was able to get him a lot of treats from the vendors. I think I got a weeks worth of food for him in samples. 

This is the cutest picture I captured: 

I was trying to get more photos, but it was hard to walk and shoot at the same time. The Humane Society was trying to beat the world record of "most costumed dogs in one location". I don't know if we beat the record. 

I did my follow up with my rheumatologist and although she did not have answers, she said she would help me with whatever referrals I needed. So at least she has my back. I have to see my primary again tomorrow, so hopefully I'll be moving right along with everything. But Sjogren's has been completely ruled out. 

Yesterday we were in the mid 8os and today we'll be close to 90 degrees. We'll have another hot day tomorrow and then go back to our normal mid-60s. It's not a really nice heat... really muggy and humid. I hope it's nice wherever you are and remember to wear sunscreen!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


I have been quite busy and have neglected my blog. I have had several appointments, started my gardening (I am going to grow several herbs this year) and have been helping my parents out. 

I have my follow up with my rheumatologist this week and I don't know what she'll suggest. I hope she still isn't stuck on "it may be Sjogren's" when I had negative results for all the tests. I really hope she doesn't pile on medication either. A lot of that would be experimental anyway. I think it's time to move in a different direction. 

The Doggie Dash is this weekend and my beloved Kamana won't be able to go. His hips hurt too much. I am still going with a friend and I will be sure to post some photos. 

I'm so glad it is getting closer to summer though. Other than gardening, I'm not sure what I'll end up doing. 

If you are gardening this year, what are you growing?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy Friday!

It's Friday and sunny! That means I'll get to take Kamana out for his much needed walk. I don't know if he'll be ready for the Doggie Dash. We had to take some time off after my surgery and now we don't have a lot of time left to train. 

I think it's time to change cell phone services. We're currently with Verizon and they could care less if we left. They were trying to get us to take on Verizon Edge, but there are so many loopholes. First off, you have to have 4 people on the plan. Secondly, it's not a service plan, it's a payment plan for the phone. So you get the same service, just get to pay for the phone over 24 months and upgrade sooner. They don't make that too clear though. And then everyone has to be on Verizon Edge to qualify for the discount. Most of the time, the phones that share one plan expire at different times. It's not convenient. Anyway, I will try to switch to T-Mobile. If anyone has any advice on this (if you've switched or do have T-Mobile), please let me know. I think in the long run, it'll save a lot of money. I can tell you that I have been a Verizon customer for over 10 years and the service has been so-so and their customer service is terrible.

My sister will be in town for the weekend. I don't know what we'll end up doing.  I hope everyone has a Happy Easter and an fun weekend. 

Any Easter plans or weekend plans?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Finally, an Update

I know it's been a while since my last post, but the recovery period was much longer than I had anticipated. So I did my salivary gland biopsy, or as some people call it, a lip biopsy. Basically they make a small cut under your lip, inside your mouth and remove several salivary glands. They numb you and everything, so it's not that painful, but it does make you a little squeamish because you are awake and can't really look away. Anyway, I survived and am still recovering. I don't heal very well (maybe a key part to figuring this whole thing out). I did get the biopsy results back and it was "not conclusive with Sjogren's syndrome", meaning it is negative. I would say that's good and bad because no one really wants Sjogren's, but bad because I still do not have a diagnosis. This is not a setback for me. I do have an idea of what to do next, so we'll keep on going. 

I was expecting boring mail today, but to my surprise, this was in my mailbox! Thank you soooooo much, Krista!!!! I also got a nice letter from one of my penpals too. And a medical bill, but we won't discuss that.

I tried eating a salmon burger yesterday and I only finished half of it because I was too tired of chewing, or attempting to chew. I've basically been on a soft foods only diet, meaning I have had yogurt, applesauce and smoothies for the last week and half. At least there are a lot of different flavors/kinds of smoothies and yogurts.

We've been having very nice weather here. :) I have to point that out because we are usually stuck with long, rainy days in the spring and we actually have some sun! I really want to plant some basil so I can make pesto sauce. It seems more economical to grow it yourself than buy it at the store. 

What are you looking forward to this spring?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Grocery Store Madness

I have clipped coupons for a long time. It was great when it became a "trend" and when you were able to stack coupons with store coupons. Now they are cutting back on honoring that and they are looking more closely at the coupons, challenging each one and digging through your bags to verify that you purchased the item. It's humiliating at times and very irritating. I wonder if it's really worth the hassle. 

Here is what I bought today at Safeway. I did compare prices, buy things that were on sale and did coupon. I also had the double coupon and she didn't honor it (even though my coupons could be doubled). 

What $24 can buy you at Safeway.
I think I will start looking for other places to shop, like Trader Joes, where you never have coupons to deal with an always have low prices. Costco is good too because they have their own promotions and everyday discount prices. I've also found that Amazon has good prices too for some grocery items (not always; be wary of that). But with online shopping, you can easily compare prices, which is helpful. 

I've heard that Albertsons is the best with coupons. I have quit going to Walgreens and Rite Aid with coupons because they are the worst (Walgreens probably wins for being the worst). 

But again, I find that it is not worth my time to coupon and I may seek out places that do not accept manufacturer coupons. 

Do you coupon and if so, do you face a lot of challenges with it?
Where do you shop that is very customer friendly? 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Tillamook Ice Cream,Training Updates and Frozen

I was reading the latest Portland Monthly and they had an ad for these Tillabars from Tillamook ice cream. Where can I get these?! There are 4 flavors; Salted Caramel Swirl, Lemonilla, Mooocha Latte and Old Fashioned Vanilla. They are a little expensive (suggested retail $4.99 for a box of 3 bars), but I still want to try them.

If you are near Oregon or visiting, you have to make sure you go to the Tillamook Cheese Factory. There's a self-guided tour and samples and a place to eat lunch and/or ice cream. I haven't been there for a while, but it is something to do if you are in the area.

Kamana and I had to take a break from our training this week because I had a lot of other things to do and I'm afraid we'll have to take another extended break next week. I really hope this doesn't mean that he won't be able to participate in the Doggie Dash. I have a surgical procedure this week, so that's why I will have to take another break from it. I wish doctors would be able to group things together so you don't have to have a million blood draws, scans and procedures. 

We bought Frozen, so I am going to watch it this weekend. I'm sure everyone else has seen it already. We have been meaning to see it because we know someone who worked on the music. Well and it has rave reviews, so we've planned on seeing it because of that too. 

I hope you're enjoying your weekend. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Weekend Update

I took a break from training with Kamana this weekend, so we didn't add to our week total. So the grand total for last week is 11.5 miles.

I finally saw the movie Gravity (in 3D) and I'll admit, I wasn't as impressed as I thought I was going to be. The work they did and the special effects are amazing. I just wish they took a little more advantage of the 3D platform. I won't say too much in case you haven't seen it. 

Note to Lowes and other hardware stores: Don't tell me the self install toilet kit is easy because it is not. It was very complicated! The pictures didn't make sense and the directions were incomplete. The IKEA instructions are easier to follow than these ones. And I really didn't want to call the cigarette smoking, whiskey drinking handyman. He smells like he lives in a bar. And he's weird. 

Other than that, I did some cleaning and laundry. And bought more stuff online. :) 

How was your weekend?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pandora Ads, Kamana Updates, and Respecting Others

I love listening to Pandora until they start running ads. Some of them are catered to you and make sense (ie. Portland Saturday Market), while others you wonder why they keep on running them in a loop. An example of the latter is a rehab facility ad that kept on running over and over. Apparently there is one on the Oregon coast and they kept on telling me that I or someone I know my need help. I rarely drink and I don't know of anyone who needs rehab... After a while, you start questioning what they're insinuating. It's what I call the "QVC Affect". If you ever watch QVC in the evening (the most dangerous time), you will start to think that you need to call in and buy whatever crap they are selling. They tell you over and over again why you need this product. One night it was Badgley Mischka old lady scarves. They told me so many times that I needed it, that I almost called in and bought one in each color. Back to Pandora, they were running this ad every 20 minutes or so and in the evening. It was very tempting to call the clinic that night. :P

Kamana and I already completed our 8 mile goal for the week. We're going to have to scale back today and tomorrow because my muscles are not recovering well. I suppose I'll have to ask my doctor about that next week. But I think we're on the right track. No free t-shirt this year, but there are always free samples from several businesses, a pancake breakfast, mimosa and beer sampling. Nothing like eating a pancake and drinking before completing 1.5-2.5 miles. 

On another Kamana note, I think he is a pitbull lab mix, or a labrabull. Initially, the vet said he looked like a lab pit mix, but we were never for sure. I don't really want to pay for the DNA kit and with an "official" Google search, I found several labrabulls that look very similar to Kamana. Like these two.

And to compare and remind you, this is Kamana:

Being around vs. being available...  where do I begin with this... I am around because I am not well. I do as much work as I can from home and do a lot of unpaid housework. There are some people who are in the "you need to stop being lazy" camp and feel like I do nothing. Some of those same people feel that I need to do their work, like pick up stuff for them, make phone calls, drive them places, etc. My (slave labor) task today is to go talk to the insurance agent and pick up some paperwork. This person volunteered me to do it without asking me beforehand. And I will go and do it because the response if I don't is "you're not doing anything right now." I usually am doing something, but it's not so much of that. It's the fact that people are so disrespectful and assume you will do what they want and not cater to your own life. 

That being said, What do you do when people take advantage of you? What about when people ask for a small favor and end up asking you to do 10 things?

Are you influenced by any ads, or do you ignore them?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Doggie Dash, The Hunger Games, and Online Shopping

We're going to start training tomorrow for the Doggie Dash. This photo screams "I'm ready for training" doesn't it? There are two courses and you don't have to run. I don't think I could get him to run anyway.

I saw the second installment of the Hunger Games yesterday night. My initial reaction to the first was shock. I didn't like it at all. But then you start to "get to know" the actors through interviews and other movies... So then I find myself going to the 2nd one. Same reaction, although I did like this one a little more. I initially thought I wouldn't see the 3rd, but I probably will end up going. 

I like to do most of my shopping online because then I don't cave to the pressure of buying more stuff than I need. And I'm not bothered by sales people. But now it's getting harder to not buy lots of stuff online. I was going to just buy face wash and epsom salts, but I ended up buying some make up, a few kinds of face wash and apple cider vinegar. Well I couldn't pay for shipping, right? So I had to spend way more to get the free shipping for Amazon. Then they're trying to pressure me into getting Amazon Prime. Only a few more days to lock in the $79 a year price! I will hold back on that because I really can't afford it right now. 

■ Can you always resist the free shipping and promotions/sales?
■ Any movies you are excited to see? 
   (I want to see The Grand Budapest Hotel and Divergent)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wednesday Updates: Mail, Laundry, Lazy Dog

Thank you so much, Krista!! She is the best and please do check out her blog. I tried one of the cookies and they were delicious. I can't wait to try the butters. I was hoping the UPS guy was an attractive, young, single guy, but I really couldn't tell because he had sunglasses on and I only saw him briefly. :P

And I'm so glad these exist! I've been having a lot of fatigue and joint pain. It takes a lot of energy to do the laundry and it is especially difficult to measure liquid soap. I just have to drop one of these pods/pacs in and start the load. It saves a lot of money (I think we use way too much when we measure it). I have tried All and Purex and they both dissolve very well and are affordable. Plus, you avoid the mess. 

I don't think Kamana is ready for the Doggie Dash this year. We had to skip it last year because I had surgery on my foot. The year before that, we did participate and that was our first year. It was a lot of fun, but Kamana's an old man now and would rather sleep. So we'll see. 

I got my first postcard from Postcrossing (after a long hiatus). It takes a while to get back in the system and receive your first card. This one is from Belgium. 

How was your Wednesday?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


What I am currently loving: 

Typo: Typo is part of the company "Cotton On" and it's a store I discovered when I was at Mall of America. It is very similar to Papyrus and Paper Source, but have more affordable items available. They also have a lot of affordable items that benefit their charities. I bought a canvas bag and a bracelet. Granted, the bags are made of a cheaper cotton, but it does go toward a good cause.

Spring: I am not enjoying daylight saving time (I think we should get rid of it), but I am enjoying the signs of spring. We are finally getting our spring weather! I'm really looking forward to summer.

Groupon: More specifically, Groupon getaways. I want to go on a trip somewhere fun (preferably warm) after I finally get my diagnosis and am in maintenance mode. They have a lot of great deals and good ideas for places to go. Has anyone bought one of these packages? I have gotten Groupons and Groupon goods, but have yet to try the getaways. 

Snail mail: I received a lovely card from Krista the other day and a nice letter from one of my penpals today. 


What I'm currently hating/have a strong dislike for:

Doctors/Insurance: I wish we were able go and see a doctor when we needed to and not have a whole bunch of hoops to jump through. I can't get in to see people because I need a referral and then my doctors at Mayo refuse to refer. Another frustrating thing is that I asked my doctor over a week ago to order a test and it has yet to be set up. One more thing, I wish the whole system was more simple and less fearful of lawsuits. We'd get better treatment and quicker diagnoses if we didn't have doctors who feared the what ifs.

Pills: My doctors refuse to run tests because of my age, but they will load me up on medication that can have a lot of detrimental effects. Well, we are a pill popping nation, right? I am going to get another opinion on the latest prescriptions because I don't want to take something that will make everything else worse. 

Bangs: I am indifferent about them, but I think I am leaning toward strongly dislike. 

What do you currently love/hate?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Week in Review in Photos

**Please do not use these without permission**

This was the view over Chicago. Why we have to fly past Minneapolis is still a mystery to me, but we did. Why isn't there a direct flight from Portland, OR to Minneapolis?

Flying into Chicago (ORD)

The snow piles and view outside the hotel window. Don't let the sun deceive you; it's bitterly cold out there.

Winter in MN

Barnes and Noble close to the clinic. It was a former vaudeville theater and they kept a lot of the original architecture in the bookstore.

Barnes and Noble

There's a lot of art within the clinic. This is in the children's wing (they have the best art up there). But it really helps make it less of a hospital/clinic feel.

Art within Mayo Clinic

The following pictures are from Mall of America. Since we had time to kill before our flight back, we decided to go over to the mall. I wish they had more unique stores (unique to the area), but they do have the Lego store! They have a wall of every Lego piece that you can imagine and you buy them like you buy frozen yogurt.

Wall of Legos

Another view of the Lego wall

Just like at the frozen yogurt shop!

There are a lot of these structures (couldn't capture all of them). They're all made out of Legos.

Lastly, a photo from the air when we got back to Oregon. I've seen these mountains probably hundreds of times, but it was a clear day and how often do you get to take aerial shots?!

Mt. Hood

I hope you're having a good Thursday. No big weekend plans (other than taking Kamana to the vet for the millionth time). Sadly, I think we are both competing for the one who has the most ailments and health problems. 

What are your weekend plans?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Back From the Clinic

I am back from the Mayo Clinic and this time around we had a very short trip. I went last summer and was there for almost a month. We left with no answers and felt very defeated and disappointed. I went home and reviewed my records, did a genetics test and did more research. I was very determined to continue to move forward. Many people make several trips out to Mayo. It's not ideal, but you can't get it done in one trip, especially if you're a medical mystery.

I documented my symptoms everyday (filled 5 notebooks!) and then drafted a letter to a few of my specialists at the end of January. They both agreed that I needed to go back to be re-evaluated. I was very fortunate to get referred to the connective tissue disease clinic and get Dr. Osborn. He was very thorough and he helped narrow it down to a connective tissue disease. It is still a work in progress, but I feel like I am moving in the right direction. He also said it's possibly Sjogren's, but we're still not sure. I am going to do the new test (Sjo) and will give you an update on this later.

It was very bitterly cold. And yes, that does say "feels like -34". I am glad I didn't have to stay too long in that weather. I did want to get more done and was planning on being there for at least a week, but you do what you can. It's never going to be convenient anyway... obviously because why would I go to MN in February during their worst winter?! It may not be my last trip out there, but that's the way it goes. I have to do everything I can to get better.

At least you can do a lot of things long distance. The doctors will continue to work with you and any of your local doctors. I have to rebuild my team of local doctors, so I am relying heavily on working with Mayo and going at it alone. There are a lot of people who can't believe that I go all the way out there for medical care when we have doctors here. It's very difficult to get anything done around here and it's hard to find great doctors. It's even more difficult to find doctors who are experienced enough to work with  you when you are a medical mystery. Mayo has a pretty efficient system and they try to work together. They can access the same system and that is very helpful. But mostly, they are fast. If you have blood work done, they have it processed and posted to your account within an hour. Scans are usually processed in 2-3 hours. You can get a referral and sometimes see that person the same day. 

It's been bittersweet. I think this is my year though and I am going to continue to push forward.

Any challenges you are currently facing?
What are your current goals that you're focusing on?

Friday, February 21, 2014

Hair Donation to Angel Hair and Other Good Deeds

I've donated my hair to Locks of Love many times and Wigs for Kids once, but this time my stylist suggested that I donate to Angel Hair. It's a local company, so I feel good about donating to them. I had 12 inches cut off. She styled it, but I doubt I'll do that... 

It will probably look more like this on a day to day basis:


I also packaged up the cookies nicely and made one recipient cards, envelopes and inspirational tile cards. I have several Yogi Tea quotes on my board and thought she could make her own wall of inspirational quotes. I forgot to take a picture of the cards and envelopes.

I think everyone liked the gifts, but it's the thought that counts, right? I feel really good about it.  :)  Happy Friday!!