Getting under way… The Eva dress pattern

imageMy arthritic/fibromyalgia hands are very glad to have Carl the rotary paper cutter today, as I get to work cutting and sticking the Tessuti fabrics Eva Dress pattern together! (still have to cut the pattern with paper scissors eventually, but not all those extra bits off the pdf pages!)Dress will eventually look something like….Tessuti "Eva" dress

Monday, not feeling very well.

Whoops. So the big walk yesterday? The lovely one in the park with the dog? Just one problem. THE FIBRO STEAMROLLER. Yep, today I am paying for my excess, with every muscle aching as though I have the flu.  It doesn’t make sense (so much about fibro doesn’t) but it apparently has something to do with the way that people with fibro don’t get rid of lactic acid in their muscles properly. Or something. That’s what the latest research says, anyway. All I know is everything hurts. Even my hair hurts. My eyelashes hurt, dammit.

Today the weather has turned and is threatening a storm later this arvo, and that doesn’t help either – barometric pressure and joint pain being connected as I have mentioned before.  Boring boring boring. I really need to find something else to write about but at the moment my life is about the little bit of university I do and the rest feels like just a whine about pain, with the occasional bit about the neighbours. That’s really all I do, that and go to the doctors.  Apart from that I’m exhausted.  This is my life right now.  Vertical and ventilated, remember, just need to accept that vertical and ventilated is a good day.

Mr B has been busy today: because it looks like we might get some rain, and because the right amount of time has passed, today was the day to scatter the seeds over Miss Kit Tern’s grave.  There will be a mix of blue flowers including swan river daisies, cornflowers, delphiniums and our old favourite, nigella damascena – love-in-the-mist.  That’s been my favourite flower ever since I asked my Nana what they were called. She had the blue variety planted on both sides of the path from the shed to the back door at the house in Leeton, under the mulberry tree and grape vines, and every year they would self-seed and come up again.

I only learned about the other possible colours – pink, white, lavender –  when I saw them on a seed packet a few years ago, and I don’t care for them very much. The blue of love-in-the-mist is part of the attraction.  That, and their hardiness: once they’re established they seem to manage pretty well on their own. We have some growing near the back patio that get the occasional splash when Mr B waters the carnivorous plants, but otherwise are coping in a dry season so far.

(If I was downstairs I’d dredge up some photos of artwork I did when I was at TAFE of some embroidery I did based on love-in-the-mist; but I’m not attached to that hard drive at the moment.  AAAAAND that reminds me that I really ought to be tackling the ^@%!*^&%@^%# sewing room anyway… )

Sunday…

I just walked up and down our back yard a few times, trying to work out the terrible clunk that happens in my hip when I walk if I’ve been sitting for too long. Step clunk, step clunk, step clunk.  I see the chiropractor on Tuesday and she helps, but I know one of the things I have to do is gradually build up the amount of time and distance I can walk again – I’ve let myself get stuck in a pattern of sitting too much. The weekends are worst: weekdays I usually have something I can schedule, whether university or doctor’s appointments, or just getting out to the supermarket; but Saturdays and Sundays drag on forever and I find myself stuck and in pain.

I’m not sure if it’s the medication for the bípolar or if the pain is causing it, but I’ve been getting the shakes.  I didn’t feel well enough to drive myself to class on Friday, so poor Mr Beloved got stuck doing the trip out to uni and back twice. Then I had to go to a birthday do for one of the scrapping girls – normally something I enjoy, but I was soooo tired. I had slept so poorly on our old mattress on Thursday night that I was seriously weepy about it, so when the scrapping girls mentioned that the egg carton foam topper thingummy had worked for them I thought it was worth trying – after all, there was no way we could afford a new mattress (about $1000) but we might be able to swing a new topper thing (a bit over $100).

Mr Beloved drove back to the other side of town again and we went home via Clark Rubber.  $125 later for this (which is properly called, I see, a ‘convoluted foam mattress overlay’) and $42 for the half roll version of this, which seems to be helping in the lounge chair – my neck is less sore, anyway) and so far we seem to be sleeping better. By which I mean that I have had at least one period of four hours of unbroken sleep, which is something of a miracle: I can’t remember that last time I’ve had even that long without interruption. (Broken sleep is something of a feature of fibromyalgìa, apparently opinion is divided over whether it’s a cause or a symptom – in any case, it SUX. Add in breakthrough pain, a bit of apnoea that the CPAP mask doesn’t entirely catch, and – well, it’s a wonder I’m not more tired than I am.)

Today has been accompanied by the interminable drone and beep beep beep beep of big diggers reversing as the railways work on some project just over the creek that involves moving piles of gravel from one place to another.  It’s been going on since about eight this morning and it’s after four as I’m writing this.  Lovely sunny day for it.

Not the digger across the creek.

Tomorrow we see the Very Helpful Psychiatrist again. I’m hoping that she will let me reduce the amount of Saphrïs that I’m taking (it burns my tongue, apart from anything else). Mr Beloved’s new spectacles are ready, so he gets to collect those once he’s had one more eye test that for some reason couldn’t be done while he was there last time.

In university news, I’m still working on my story that’s due on Friday. It’s getting to the stage now where I’m finding it really difficult to work out what to do to fix it before submitting it.  It’s just got to a point where I can’t look at it any more and see what needs to change.

That’s about all the news from here. It was freezing cold last night, 2.8 degrees according to the official record. Supposed to be about the same tonight.  Happy Spring, Happy Father’s Day, make sure to bring in the carnivorous plants in out of the frost. At least  Formula 1 is back from their summer break and we get to watch them tear madly around Spa tonight – one of the few older circuits left, seven kms of lovely twisty hilly racing. VROOOOOOOOOOM!

Well, bugger. Insomnia…(rambling thoughts too early in the morning)

I’m starting to write this at 5:45 am after another sleepless night.  WTF?  Here are some things I know about my insomnia:

  • It’s not so much the lack of sleep that upsets me – it’s my struggle with my lack of sleep.  I almost woke Mr Beloved to tell him “I CAN’T SLEEP!” but by the time I even thought of using that strategy, it was 5 am.  *headdesk*  If I had been brave enough to do that earlier in the night, say at around 2 am, I could have had his help while I took the dreaded val1um (and possibly had some rest.)  But we  know about my fear of val1um and I am even more wary of it after the Incident of The Neck in the Night-time.  And by “brave” I am not saying that Mr Beloved is scary – just that I find it hard to be kind to myself sometimes and ask for help.
  • I have a repertoire of “tricks” that usually help me sleep.  These include: slowly savouring about 1/3 of a cup of frozen raspberries; eating a small piece of cheese (protein helps? I dunno); taking off or putting on a layer of clothes; holding a cool wet face washer to my forehead; reading a cozy type mystery; playing the MP3 of the”Mindfulness of the Breath” exercise from The Happiness Trap (it’s not designed to make you relax but I find it very calming).    Sometimes NONE OF THESE WORK.  And I am learning to be okay with that – to stop struggling with not falling asleep.  (Also, I have just reserved a book at the library that looks promising: Sleep Well, Live better: 3 Steps to Good Sleep. We shall see. I am not keen to add any more med1cat10ns because of interact1ons with all the stuff I already take.)
  • My sleep hygiene is important to me, even though some of the things I do (reading in bed!) are NOT recommended.  I am careful about how much caffeine I consume and when;  I take my evening med1cat10ns at an early enough time to let the sedat1ng ones help me get drowsy; I rarely nap during the day (sometimes to my detriment).  Even when I am super tired, I can’t actually get to sleep without reading at least a few pages.  (It’s a habit of at least 38 years, so it’s not likely to change!) The problems happen when I read entire books…which is something I did last night.  (Damn you, Charlaine Harris, for making “Dead Reckoning” the best Sookie Stackhouse book yet! But my insomnia was not entirely the book’s fault – I knew I was very wakeful when I got into bed.)
  • I have times when the aches of fibromyalgia either stop me from getting to sleep or wake me up (and I can’t get back to sleep.)  Now I’m thinking about it, what I need to do in those times is have a nice hot shower/warm bath.  Hmmm.  Or do the full body scan mindfulness meditation, that seems to help.
  • Sometimes if my nose is sniffly I can get really weirded out about putting my CPAP mask on.  Often I can overcome this by lying quietly in the dark and then putting the mask on while engaging “observing mind” – pretending I am a compassionate and gently interested scientist observing the feelings of the mask on my face.  (This is another part of the mindfulness training that the Unhelpful Psychiatrist dismissed as “just a bandaid”.  I don’t believe it is. U. P.  said I need to “address my underlying anxiety or the problem will never be solved”.)
  • Sometimes if I write in a journal I can get to sleep.  Last night though, there really wasn’t any specific anxiety that was bugging my brain and stopping me from getting to sleep. In fact, the journaling seemed to be stimulating rather than soporific.  So after three pages, I stopped.
  • I seem to have insomnia round the full moon.  Despite scientific studies NOT finding any links, there is so much anecdotal evidence for some sort of link that I have to wonder what the scientists are missing.  My bedroom has decent blockout curtains, so I usually don’t notice the full moon UNTIL I realise that I haven’t slept and oh look, it’s about a month since the LAST time I couldn’t sleep.
  • (It’s just started raining.  I find rain on the roof is really lovely to help me sleep.  I have to have a fan on in the bedroom to move the air and to provide white noise.  The current pedestal fan was about $15 and the motor is SHOT so it sounds like a damn Cessna!  I will be buying a new fan TODAY.)
  • AFTER a night of not sleeping, I get anxious and scared about not sleeping because I worry that it is the onset of mania.   I know that this story is not helpful and it’s one that often plays in my head. So, hey, let’s give it a name – hello, Thelma!  It’s you again!  (This may be my favourite defusion technique. My Helpful Psychologist and I recently decided to name my “OMG I’m letting people down” story as “Myrtle”.  The names sound silly, right? But it helps to show those unhelpful stories for what they are – just old stories my brain likes to play with.  Those stories are not reality.)
  • The change of Seasons (hello, Spring!) is a time that manias can ramp up.  So it’s a time I am more aware of (and more anxious about) mania symptoms.  Now that I have expressed this, I can probably let it go more easily.
  • I am very angry that instead of taking my concerns about not sleeping seriously, the unhelpful psychiatrist wanted to talk to me about my childhood.  WTF?!
  • I know that staring at a BRIGHT SCREEN with the LIGHTS ON in the studio as I type this isn’t helping me get any sleep this morning.  I also know (from bitter experience) that I can (sort of) function for a day without any sleep the night before.  Science tells us that to readjust our body clocks, some sunlight in the morning is a good thing…I will be taking advantage of this soon.

Not much, how ’bout you?

Well let’s see – what’s happened this week?

I had my last visit to my psychiatrist before she moves her practice completely to Brisbane.  I’m still going to be seeing her (but every 10 weeks instead of every 8, is the plan) but it will mean a trip – probably by bus, since parking in Brisbane is apparently the third most expensive in the Asia Pacific – after only Sydney and Tokyo! I can’t get in to see another psychiatrist here – they’re not taking new patients.

It’s been COLD here.  Well, cold for Toowoomba – mornings getting down to 5 and 6 degrees C (that’s around 41F).  And while that’s nowhere NEAR how cold Canberra is, after 7 years or so up here, I’ve adapted – and 6 feels quite cold enough!  We’ve had several frosts already, but lovely clear days. We need to shut the house up at about 4 o’clock, and start getting warm again, and keep the asthma medication handy because that’s about the time the wood fires are being lit in the neighbourhood!

The cooler mornings have made my fibromyalgia worse, I think – I’ve been moving very slowly.  Mr Beloved has been trudging along with the studio reorganisation – it’s such a huge job, and continues to be a sliding puzzle of moving that over there so this can move over here…

Chair and carpet tiles

He’s reached a big milestone, though – these are the first of the carpet tiles!  YAY!  Of course this means he has to manoeuvre everything around yet again so he can put the tiles down, but he’s getting there.  Nothing we do is fast – we’ve both had broken backs, and continuing physical problems which mean we have to work around what we can manage.  Slowly, slowly…

(It doesn’t help that Mr Beloved had to start taking blood pressure medication, and it doesn’t seem to be agreeing with him at all.  Back to the doctors we go…)

It was pay week, so we went grocery shopping, in 5 different stores.  ARRRGH!   (See separate post on this topic.)  I had to buy new shoes  – after three years, the ones I wear almost every day had just plain worn out.  I bought the new model of the same shoe (Brooks Addiction Walker) but sadly, at Australian prices – ouch!  Now I know that’s such a good shoe for my very flat, fat feet, I might try ordering it online from overseas.

And of course we’re watching Eurovision (the final is tonight!) as we do every year.  So many white dresses!  So many singers who can’t sing on key!  So many acts where the backing dancers are more interesting than the song!

We’re still waiting for the electrician to come back and do the wiring and replace the lights – and for the painters to start on the outside of the house.

And that’s probably all the news this week.

100 days on: exhausted… but maybe on the home stretch?

Today is 100 days since the “inland tsunami”, and the Queensland flood inquiry is hearing evidence in Toowoomba.  The blame game has started in earnest, even though there was really very little anyone could have done, in my (uneducated but common sense) view.

(I’m very glad I don’t have to have any involvement with all that – I’m surprised at how distressing just looking at photos of what happened here is.)

I am NOT having a Good Day.  I am tired and grumpy and not pleasant to be around.  I feel like I could sleep for a week, but instead I have to get up and be around when the tradies are here – just to make sure they are actually doing what the quotes said they’d do.  And I’m finding that exhausting, since the !@(&^!(*&^ fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue  really means I need around 10 hours of sleep a night. I don’t work tradies’ hours!

The noise of their tools isn’t too bad – but their yelling across the yard to each other, their taste in music (arrgh, I HATE trying to do stuff to someone else’s music – it makes it hard to THINK) and the incredibly annoying non stop barking of psycho dog next door – it’s all just TOO MUCH.  At least none of the current lot are smokers. (Just went back to the house and noticed the bloke doing the gutters was smoking.  Arrgh!)

[all pics clicky for biggy]

Old gutters in situ

You can see why we were anxious to get new gutters!

The old gutters, on the ground

And why they weren’t working very well anymore – between the silt and the rust, they’d really gone past their use-by date.

Beautiful new gutters - NO LEAKS!

Ahhh!  Lovely new gutters, in “Surfmist” – yep, another one of those times during renovation when you have to choose exactly WHICH white is the right white.

New gutters: about $2700.

Today the inside of the shed/studio was finished – there’s fresh new plywood walls all the way around (replacing the lining that had soaked up water in the January 10th inundation).  This was paid for by the insurance – yay!  Poor Mr Beloved has had to shuffle everything around several times to allow the builders access.  Tomorrow the new metal shelving will arrive (flat packed) and we’ll be able to start getting stuff back where it ought to go.

The front room - FULL!
The sewing room - FULL!

Both the front room and the sewing room have even more STUFF in them than usual because when the bookcases in the shed disintegrated, the books had to move into the house.  Mr Beloved made a heroic effort with a handcart and improvised ramps:

It's a long way to the top...

And in the next few weeks, the books will come back downstairs and into the new shelving.  It’s actually a much bigger job than that, because there are cupboards in the front room that aren’t really being used fully and would be better in the shed, and cleaning out the sewing room is a job that will take a few days on its own.

Tomorrow we’ve got disruptions to the INSIDE of the house for the first time.  The bedroom and loungeroom ceilings will be removed, two ceiling bearers over the lounge room will be replaced, and one ceiling joist at the rear of the house is also being replaced.   (Getting the room for the builder to move about is going to be interesting – there’s not really anywhere to move furniture around in the house!  He’s bringing lots of dropsheets…)

It will be lovely to have a new ceiling  – this is what the loungeroom ceiling looks like now:

Blue wall, patched ceiling

That’s the remains of the plywood ceiling with some cardboard and masonite covering the worst of the termite holes.  All the other ceilings in the house are 2″boards, but for some unknown reason the bedroom and loungeroom ceilings were plywood with pine coverstrips.  (Perhaps the builder couldn’t nick any more 2″ vjs when it was time to do those rooms!)   The termites just loooooooved them, nom nom nom.

It’s another one of those things that you just get used to, but I will be so glad when it’s fixed.  We’re cheating a little bit – these days, you can buy mdf that looks like vj boards and that’s what the builder will be using.  Eventually we’ll get around to painting the new ceilings.

He’ll also be replacing  this rotten fascia board at the front of the house:

Front fascia board to be replaced

With the new gutters, we won’t have the leaks which caused the board to rot and grow moss…

The builder’s also installing two extra timber joists under the kitchen floor to stop it moving about quite so alarmingly.  Cost for all that? About $4000.

See how quickly it adds up!  Yikes! And we’re still got a couple of other bits I need to get him to quote on – putting some weatherboards over the fibro at the back of the house where the laundry has been tacked on, and fixing some of the eaves – (we don’t do ladders, remember?!) …

But in good news, it looks like we will get the painting done.  YAY!!

We had windy rain last night, and even though the gutters were all off the house, we had no leaks.  Phew!  And there were no more of the ominous creaks that we used to anxiously listen for on stormy nights – the house is really feeling so much more SOLID than it ever has.  Such a relief.

Blah.

I’ve had quite a few days recently where I haven’t been able to do much at all – I wake up in pain and feeling exhausted, and struggle to get even 10 hours of upright time between getting up and going back to bed.  I’m not sure why this is happening BUT I HATE IT!  I think it’s partly a fibromyalgia flare up, and partly some depression creeping back in, but I’m really reluctant to bump the dose of the new drug back up. (Well, not so new now, we’ve been trying to get the right dosage sorted since MAY, dammit!  It takes a minimum of 6 weeks for any change to happen, since it’s stored in bodyfat, of which I have copious amounts.  Not least because of the appetite stimulating properties of this particular drug…)

I haven’t been doing much art journaling, either.  So no interesting pics to show you from there.

I totally ignored International Digital Scrapbooking Day this year – I already have so many kits that I hardly use.  I think I’ve worked out WHY – there’s not enough ME in them.  I love seeing the clever things that all those talented designers do, but I’m really more into messing around with my own scribbles and background papers – although I do love a good collage kit, especially when I have a working printer to play with.

And I’m still quite frustrated on the oboe – I CANNOT make more than one note on the damn reed – I am going to try some different brands this pay, I hope.  IF there’s enough money once the water rates bill and the insurance bills and everybloodythingelse bills are paid, that is.

How ’bout some books I’ve been reading? (all from the town library  – bless their cotton socks, I don’t know what I would do without them!)

This is a collection of short (usually around 900 words) essays that Lisa Scottoline writes as a Sunday column for the Philadelphia Enquirer. (You can read some of the most recent columns on her site, to give you an idea.)  I had read some of Scottoline’s earlier novels ages ago, but had no idea about this side of her writing until Sandy at Beez in the Belfry mentioned this book in her blog.  I loved this book – very everywoman, dealing with spanx (“bodyshapers” that squeeze your fat around from where it was to where it oughtn’t to be) dogs, family, food – it’s a great quick read.  Definitely cheered me up.

I have also been reading silly books – paranormal romance (or as Charlie Stross would have it, Fang f**kers) including number 12 in the Argeneau vampire series by Lynsay Sands, Renegade Hunter. And I think it says something significant about how much I’m still struggling with the horrible-non-stop-hungries when I tell you that there was a pizza involved in a sex scene AND ALL I WANTED WAS THEM TO EAT THE DAMN PIZZA already because I was so HUNGRY.  Not hot and bothered by the erotic writing, JUST THE FOOD.  ARRRRRRRRRRRRGH!

And I’ve also been reading other series mysteries – Susan Wittig Albert’s Texas herb shop owner, China Bayles.  This is a series that’s been going for aaaaaaaaaages (since 1992!) but still manages to be fresh and interesting  – the characters are well written,and they are not stagnating (unlike some other mystery series which I have given up on!)

This one was an interesting departure because it revolved around a 1912 mystery in a Shaker sect village, as well as the contemporary murder mystery.

And now I must go, as Squeaky The Sheepy is being thrust upon me by Constance the Very Patient Poodle, who has been sitting quietly at my side through most of the afternoon.