Sunday, August 11, 2013

United Healthcare

For those who've been following the neverending story that is the United Healthcare saga I am pleased to report what I hope is the end:  they paid.

I started getting shots again Tuesday, and fortunately didn't have to start over again.  Instead we started at the lowest dose on my current vial.  So far so good; here's hoping I'm on maintenance dose by December.

There's not much else to report right now.  I weigh the same as I have (upper-mid 130's), I eat the same, I exercise (although I managed to do something to my hips last Sunday that I'm still not over because I refuse to recognize that my body is ridiculously injury-prone), I work.

The boys are doing well.  The Gum Zombie continues with his parkour madness and is entering 5th grade in a week.  The Elder is surgically attached to his computer and starts at the IB high school as a freshman in that same week's time.  I am absolutely verklempt, and although I am more than aware of my age I just don't feel old enough to have a child in high school.

The animals continue to thrive.  We haven't added any new members to the family since Charlie, thank goodness.  I think I'm at my upper limit with all the fauna in the home.

Choreboy remains the love of my life :)

I think at this point it would be appropriate to say I'm taking a bit of a hiatus from this blog.  I'm not going private, and I'm not saying I'll never be back because lord knows I have trouble shutting up.  But I've been at this thing for seven years.  I'm tired, and I think it's time to give this a rest at least for a bit.

If you want to contact me, please feel free to leave a comment or email me -- my address is in the sidebar beneath the "Cast of Characters"  And oh what characters they are!  I should be updating the herpetological blog here and there if you absolutely can't live without my writing.  I'm not holding my breath on that ;) In the meantime:


That's really all that matters.  Take care, folks.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Grace

Charlotte's got a post up that hit home for me.  I've been the person on the receiving end of commentary like she received, and I know there's legitimacy to it because frankly, I'm still a bit socially awkward even at my age.  I do better than I used to, and I hope I keep improving, but still... I'm not there yet. 

And like Charlotte mentioned in her blog post, I've also been part of the group making the comments.  Which, when put into that directly comparative context, rather sucks.

Reading her post was a good reminder to me to extend to others the grace I'd like them to extend to me were our positions reversed.





Have a good weekend, y'all.  I'll try to do the same.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

United Healthcare: The Saga Continues

Yep, the ridiculousness continues with United Healthcare.  Remember the allergy misery of High Hay Fever Season down here in Florida?  And remember my allergy test results (link includes pictures of my scratch-tested back and subcutaneously injected arm), where it showed I was allergic to All the Things?

You'd think I'd be an ideal candidate for allergy shots, considering that none of the standard therapies have alleviated my suffering.  And you'd be right according to all major internet sources, medical sources, and (most importantly) my freaking physicians.

But in the eyes of United Healthcare, somehow I'm still not supposed to get allergy shots.  I've heard every excuse in the book from them.

  • They've said the shots weren't medically necessary (how???)
  • They've said my doctor failed to provide the requested information in the timespan allotted (false, and my doctor has proof)
  • They've said that the problem is the date of service on the claim covers a span of days (when their own policies limit the number of units my HCP can bill for in one day)

It's absolutely absurd.  And in the meantime, I've now lost three months worth of immunotherapy thanks to United Healthcare's dithering about paying a claim for a necessary, covered service.

I have lost the time I spent driving to and from my doctor's office -- a one-hour round trip.

I have lost the money I've spent in gas doing the same -- upwards of one hundred dollars.

I have lost sleep due to moving my wake time up in order to arrive at work early so I wouldn't completely gut my sick leave with my employer.

I can't get any of these things back, the most important of which is the progress I'd made with the two months of injections I was able to have.

Oh the heck with it, I'm going to repost this picture.  Please tell me, how does a back that looks like this fail to impress upon an observer that the person tested has severe allergies?


Bear in mind that any spot where there is no visible welting was retested in a subcutaneous injection on my arm, and every. single. spot. tested. welted up.

Even if I could go back to my allergist Tuesday, it would be questionable if I could hit maintenance dose by December, which is when High Allergy Season begins for me.

So thanks United Healthcare.  Thank you for denying me a necessary covered medical service.  Thank you for interfering in my healthcare.  Thank you for condemning me to another year of misery as I try to slog through High Allergy Season 2013-2014.  Thank you for depriving Those Who Sign My Paychecks of a functional employee.  Thank you for making a profit off of my employers and others while denying me and others like me the healthcare their doctors have prescribed.

Oh, and thank you for Bernard, with whom I spoke most recently, and whose only phrase appeared to be "I couldn't say" when I asked him how to fix this situation.  Poor Bernard.  When asked if he could transfer me to someone who could say, he informed me no such person existed.  So I suppose I am to believe that the entirety of United Healthcare is staffed by incompetent, impotent idiots.

I have now filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Financial Services, am filing an grievance with United Healthcare itself (because weirdly, United Healthcare's policies still won't let me file an actual appeal), and should I fail to receive satisfaction from these filings I will also be filing with... shoot, my paperwork is at the office, but it's something like the Agency for Healthcare Administration  that handles quality of care issues for HMOs.

The sheer idiocy and complexity of this process is mindboggling.  Thank goodness I'm not trying to get help for a mental health issue... although at this point I think United Healthcare is certainly provoking an anxiety attack.  Question is, if I seek treatment for anxiety, will they cover it?

Pfft... we all know the answer :P  You just have to laugh, because screaming is too hard on the vocal chords.

Good grief.

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In other news, uhm, happy 4th of July? Sheesh.  I'm going to enjoy my four days off and try not to think about this until Monday.  Take care, y'all :)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Quashing the Cold-blooded Uprising

I think it's the baby boa constrictor that tipped him off.

Yes all, Choreboy finally noticed the cold-blooded uprising taking place in our house after the number of snakes hit five (and after he saw my list of "Snakes Amanda Also Wants" which would add, uhm, 3 more? *ducking*).  So everyone, without further ado, may I please introduce Charlie.

Here he is! The strategically placed heart is necessary because my husband apparently loves seeing my cleavage over-exposed and figures the rest of the world feels the same way. I disagree. You're welcome.

Charlie is a 10 week  old "chug", i.e., chihuahua/ pug mix.  He's a blast, and is doing his best to ingratiate himself with Teddy, aka Hound, our 5 year old chorkie (chihuahua/ yorkie mix).

Yes, we have thematic animals.  No, it wasn't deliberate.  But we were getting some accoutrements for the baby boa constrictor's habitat and I let Brent out of my sight to go get a shopping basket.  The man is usually perfectly safe to let loose in a pet store; he's a rational adult and is more than well aware of the cost, maintenance, and responsibility generated by additional animals, especially those of the canine persuasion.

So imagine my surprise when he came bounding up, cart in hand, and said "Come on, baby!  You have got to see this cute little dog!!"

Blink.  Okayyyyyyyy...

We walked over (Choreboy was actually still kind of "bounding" -- very Tigger-like) and there in one of the puppy pens was Charlie.  One of the opportunistically observant employees came over and asked if we'd like the pen opened so we could hold him.  Rather than just say "No, no, he's just so cute," or words to that effect, my besotted husband answered "Yes!!"

I swear to you I heard both exclamation points.

Brent picked him up, and Charlie (ingratiating little bugger that he is) licked him on the face.  From that moment on, the formerly sane man I married thought it would be an excellent idea for animal #14 to be a dog.

Not a snake.  Oh no, not a lovely "set-it-and-forget-it" pet.  A dog.  A full-bore, yapping, piddling, pooping, toe-chewing house-training-required little dog.

With an underbite.

In case I haven't mentioned it recently, my husband is a freaking saint.  He handles my menopausal moodiness with barely a twitch.  He has stepped into the void in my children's lives.  He puts up with -- and even on some level likes -- our cats even though he's horrifically allergic to them.  He has already taken over most of Hound's care, and even steps in with the snakes when they're being difficult on feeding day (they eat frozen/thawed rodents and there are days when they don't totally approve of our offerings -- they'd prefer something with a bit more... erm... "wiggle").  And for him to want to bring another pet into our house?  It had to be something special.

We left the pet store, and Brent couldn't stop talking about the puppy.  We talked about it some more.  We agreed we are both clearly insane (in spite of my hesitation, you can tell by the picture that I'm pretty gone on the little guy as well).  We called my parents whose input was necessary because they provide "Doggie Daycare" for Teddy on the days Brent and I are both working, and this would place an additional burden on them.  They agreed.  Mom was even sounding pretty excited :)

Then we called the pet store to put a hold on Charlie, got in the truck, and rode over.

It's a good thing we put that hold on him, because the guys at the pet store said not five minutes after we'd called that not one but two other folks came in wanting to buy our pup!  One of them was even playing with him when we walked in.

In the end, we walked out with our baby dog and another couple who'd first been scoping out Charlie walked out with his bigger sister.  He did well enough his first night in our home, although Brent ended up having to put Charlie's crate up on his bed so he'd would stop crying.

[The puppy was crying, not Brent.  Although if he has many more 2:00 AM wakeup calls... well, let's just say that I've seen my husband in a sleep-deprived state and it isn't pretty.]

Teddy is still working out how he feels about his unexpected little brother.  He wants to play with him, but he'd also like for him to leave.  Now, please.  We're watching closely.


Somehow I don't think Charlie's going anywhere.  Sorry Teddy :)

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Purple Rai... erm, Hair?

Well, would you look at that! Blogger once again is permitting me to upload pictures:


Not my favorite pic, but it'll do.  I got my roots done yesterday and this is the first time I've actually had my hair blown out straight since January.  It's getting long on me!  And yes, if you think you see a little bit of purple at the very bottom of the right-hand side of the picture, your eyes are working just fine.  I'd planned on more of an orchid streak, but lightening my hair with this purple streak (it's a nifty dual-process product) is the first step.  In six weeks when I get my roots touched up, I'll get it done with a bit more intensity.

It's slightly subversive in my oh-so-white-bread world, and I can pincurl it up when I'm at work if it's an issue so no one there has to know.  I like :)

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Whole30 continues to truck along.  I'm at Day 19 (take 2) and still in 100% compliance.  I signed on for it, so what the heck, you know?  Might as well go all in.

Some of the rules are completely arbitrary, though.  I think the one that irks me most is the fact that the "no alcohol" rule extends to vanilla extract.  I understand alcohol-as-beverage being on the list, and I can at least go along with the no alcohol for cooking because it's only one month.  But the vanilla extract ban just seems silly and nit-picky to me.  I honestly don't think it would bother me as much if I hadn't read this:  The Whole9 Great Cocoa Debate.  Now the upshot of the debate gives unsweetened cocoa powder a thumbs up for Whole30 compliance, but the arguments against its inclusion smacked a bit too much of "Because some folks might use it as a chocolate substitute, NONE OF YOU CAN USE IT, no, not even in a savory application.  Bad Whole30ers... BAD!!!"

And that tone I perceived carries over into my feelings regarding the disallowing of vanilla extract.  I know there are alcohol-free variants out there, and personally I have my own stash of vanilla beans too so it's not as if I'm hurting for the pod or anything.  But... vanilla extract?  Banned due to the alcohol?  Seriously?

I don't know, it may be just me, but it bugs.  I haven't used it because I've decided to take this all the way to the finish line without any tweaking for personal caveats, but that's something that will definitely come back afterward.  Good grief.

--------------------------------

Parkour is going well for the Gum Zombie.  It seems joining the group has focused his energies and he's no longer attempting to scale the outside of my house.  The instructors have been on Choreboy and me to "play" and next week, providing they're able to help us see how to scale the activities for our aging bodies (especially mine :P ) we're in.

The big reason for "we" is it's more fun with at least one peer to hang with, and believe me when I say not one person out on the floor is over 30, much less over 40 or 50.  You've got the little guys hanging together, the teenagers are in a giant clump, and the twenty-somethings are also in an ever-evolving herd.  I just need one compatriot who can hang at my level, but with the exception of a couple of the guys on Team Zoic (the pros) who have young sons, all the parents have without exception piled into the Old Fogies' Corral.

 So Choreboy and I are breaking out.  I'm blaming the purple hair.

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We're heading to Repticon today, and this time I'm dragging Choreboy with us.  Hooray!  Darned good thing too, since having him there should keep me from rationalizing that we really do need one more snake... which we don't.  We really don't.

[But I want!!!]

Anyway, I'm out.  Have a good one, y'all!

Edited to add:  TOTAL fail on the "let's not bring another snake home" front.  Those not squeamish can click here to see his picture.  Do note that he's a very tiny baby at the moment :)

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Gum Zombie Meets Parkour

The Gum Zombie has taken up parkour in his latest attempt to shatter what's left of my sanity.  I think his favorite drill last week was scaling a 10-foot wall only to leap down off it onto some giant pouf-thingie.

He loves it.  And when it's not your kid, it's absolutely a blast to watch!


The Young Immortals flinging their bodies about with reckless abandon are the same dudes who are teaching the Gum Zombie how not break his neck. My prayer is that they are successful.

Because, you know, I'm somewhat fond of the child.

And y'all, if even one of them is thirty I'll eat my hat.  I'm betting the oldest is twenty-seven, max.  And no, I could not tell you who that is.  Everyone under a certain age has started to blur together.  There's the elementary aged kids, the young adolescents, the gangly adolescents, and the young adults, where I'd place these guys.  This is rapidly followed by the less-young adults... okay, and it kind of goes downhill from there.

I may be raging against the dying of the light, but I also know that I'm past my first youth.  Barely:P  But out of respect for my aging body I'm leaving the flying about to the younger folks.

There's a part of me that just wishes I could, though...

Have fun, Gum Zombie :)  I'll be watching.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

United Healthcare? Not "Caring" so Much...

I am freaking LIVID.

My allergy shots are suspended until further notice. United Healthcare chose my account to audit with the allergist and their auditing company has determined that United Healthcare shouldn't pay for the vials of serum I receive in my shots because none of my appointments in the records my doctor's office sent over correspond with the 4/1/13 date of service on the claim for the serum.

In other words, the auditor doesn't understand that "date of service" in this case corresponds to the formulation of the serum for my shots, not a patient appointment.

I am in touch with my local insurance folks' office and they're in contact with their UHC person, so we'll see how this goes from there.  Thus far UHC has told my insurance brokerage that the claim was denied because "we didn't get the records we requested in a timely manner" while at the same time they're telling the doctor's office those same records (that they supposedly didn't receive) don't correspond with a patient visit when the charge wasn't for a patient visit in the first place.

The mind boggles.

Weirdly, UHC has no problem paying for the injections themselves.  They're also fine paying for my visits to receive them.  They just don't want to pay for the shot contents

I'm going to go off and beat my head against a wall while I try to get this situation resolved.  And people don't think there's a healthcare crisis in this country?  Really?

United Healthcare, my office pays in excess of... well, an amount I won't go into here.  But suffice it to say, they pay a HUGE amount of money to insure us all.  They did so even prior to the ACA.  Stop playing games with my health.

Earlier this allergy season I was in absolute misery.  From December through early January I was literally near scratching my eyes out, despite the use of Zyrtec, Benadryl, Zaditor (OTC eyedrops)... nothing worked.  Patanol (prescription antihistime eye drops) caused a reaction whereby the itchiness of my eyes was exacerbated.  The only relief I got was from Alrex, a lovely prescription steroid eye drop.

Problem there?  Extended use causes glaucoma (and my genetics already swing me that way) and can drive up the age at which those prone to cataracts will develop them by 10 years.

Yes, I'm also genetically predisposed to developing cataracts, so lovely.  Sigh.

I went to an allergist, and considering my symptoms, the fact that they've become impossible to control even with standard prescription intervention, my minimum 7-month allergy season, and the fact that I reacted to All The Things on the allergy test, it was determined that allergy shots (immunotherapy) were my best bet.

Now I can't even get that, because some auditor is too thick to understand that "date of service" need not coincide with a patient visit.

This is flatly ridiculous.  I'm so angry and upset I'm literally shaking.

Thanks, United Healthcare.  Thanks for condemning me to an even worse allergy season this upcoming winter.  I'll think of you when I'm sitting on my hands trying not to rip my eyes from my skull.

Again.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Whole30 -- This Time for Realz :P

Heya folks :)

So I completed my Whole3weeks last weekend.  I weighed 142 at the end of it so essentially, in three weeks I lost... nothing.  Nada.  Zero, zip, zilch.  But on the plus side I am now able to consistently breathe through my nose (is it wheat?  dairy?) and my stupid joints aren't leaving me at a 2-4 pain level on a 1-10 pain scale anymore. 

I've lived with that low-level ache for literally years, and now it's gone.  Un-freaking-believable.  My knee isn't cured by any means.  When I move in certain directions it reminds me that it's still here and yes, it's still damaged... but it's much more livable.

I have yet to even max out on my speed/ resistance on the stationary bike, which is huge.  We'll see where this leads.

But for the meantime, I'm on Day 2 of my actual Whole30.  Food has been average.  I didn't have everything shopped for -- Choreboy and I just got back from the beach -- so yesterday breakfast was two hardboiled eggs, 3 ridiculously huge strawberries, and a packet of Wholly Guacamole.  This morning I decided I liked yesterday's breakfast so well I nearly repeated it, with the addition of a side of roasted cauliflower.

Okay, I tried to have half an avocado instead of the WG, but the silly thing was underripe/ inedible.  Bleah.  Thank goodness for keeping at least some convenience foods in stock!

Lunches this week will be sketchy due to, again, my absence from my kitchen this weekend.  Yesterday I hit up Chipotle (the carnitas is compliant, as is the mild salsa, guacamole, and lettuce, so that's what I had), and today I may well have an almost exact repeat of breakfast, sans cauliflower.

Dinner is fish, because it was fresh and I didn't have to worry about thawing it, along with said roasted cauliflower and also roasted asparagus.

Dang this is an exciting entry.  Well, not so much except for the knees behaving themselves a bit more.  Again, that's huge.

I'm out -- 3 day weekend is on the horizon and I have food prep to plan :)  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Good MORNING!!!!!

So far today I have
  •  killed my lower body workout;
  • done my weekly "scrub" facial (I will NOT go gentle into that good night);
  • started the laundry;
  • baked the chicken thighs for this week's work lunch;
  • boiled eggs for same;
  • cooked and ate breakfast (2 scrambled eggs, 1 cup raspberries, 1/2 avocado);
  • did all the freaking dishes;
and it's 8:45 AM.

Holy crap.

Oh, and I also weighed one of the snakes who's very tiny and a bit of a problem feeder.  He seems to be holding his own at the moment, not that this is anyone's earthshattering concern outside of my own and the Gum Zombie's.

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My Whole30 eating is going well.  For anyone wondering if I've gone off the rails, let me assure you I do not suffer.  Again, the plan was to post pictures; however, Blogger seems to lack interest in permitting me to do so for the foreseeable future.  If anyone feels their lives would be complete if only they just had a visual, simply email me and I'll send you the pictures myself. 

But forward!  Here is what I eat on any given day:

Breakfast:
2 eggs, a cup of berries, 1-2 cups broccoli or 12-ish stalks of asparagus.  Today, there was avocado.

Lunch:
Usually it's grilled chicken thigh over sauteed spinach, onions, and tomatoes, seasoned with a boatload of spices (my current obsession is mustard seeds), topped with either diced avocado or a 100-calorie packet of Wholly Guacamole (which is Whole30 compliant), a hard boiled egg, an apple, and a tablespoon of coconut butter.  Uhm, those last two items are eaten on the side, not on top of the chicken.

Yesterday, though, I had about 5 ounces of salmon, a bunch of asparagus, half an avocado, and two of those brown "kumatos" I believe I referenced in a previous entry.  Those things are just awesome.

Dinner:
I tend to go protein/ vegetable/ vegetable here.  Sometimes it's much like yesterday's lunch.  Last night it was a 4 oz. grass fed (I die) burger patty, 2 cups of broccoli, and around one medium sweet potato's worth of oven "fries".

There was supposed to be the second half of the lunch avocado on last night's dinner but I forgot and by the time I remembered, I was full; hence, avocado for breakfast this morning.

So, no.  Not suffering here.  And my abs are back, which is timely considering my belly dance class is performing at a local arts festival this upcoming Saturday.

I would promise to post a picture, but unless Blogger complies I don't see it happening.

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So before bed tonight I need to
  • finish the laundry;
  • cook and pack the rest of my weekly work lunches;
  • bake the boys' chicken tender stash (I buy bulk raw, freeze 2/3, marinate the remainder -- 14 or so tenders -- about 36 hours, then bake up a bunch for their dinners/ snack/ but I'm still HUNGRY! fests);
  • go to dance practice (we scheduled a special one, which is good because my Stupid Knee is acting in concert with The Bum Hip to make some of these shimmies a bit obnoxious for me);
  • and the boys really both need a damn haircut.  Not sure if that's going to happen, but it's on my radar.
Oh, and Choreboy is finally home from a business trip to California, so tonight we'll be watching the episode of Survivor I taped.  Sweet :)

Laterz!!

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Whole30...ish?

So in my ever-ADD manner of dealing with All Things Diet, I'm now on a Whole30 kick, initiated by our beloved Norma.  Theoretically we're doing the 30 days for the first 30 days in May, but I started a few days early because Choreboy and I are going to the beach for a couple days mid-month so I wanted to at least give myself a good stretch of time for the Whole30 eating plan, and then I, personally, will start a for-real Whole30 when we return.

Now this isn't to say I'm being slackerly with my implementation.  I'm going full bore even knowing I'll be doing this for another 30 days once I return -- no grains, no legumes (including peanuts and soy), no sugars (real or artificial), no dairy (yes, this includes my beloved cheese), no booze (not even for cooking)... you get the picture.  Instead I'm eating solid proteins of meat, fish, and eggs; good fats like my olive oil, coconut oil (it's not sweet -- who knew?), nut butters, and nuts; and fruit and vegetables.

I drink water.  And coffee.  Lots and lots of coffee.  Although I'm dialing it back today, a step which has my coworkers recoiling in horror*.

Anyway, I'm not starving by any calculation.  Breakfast yesterday (okay, and Monday and Sunday as well) was two eggs, a cup of blackberries, and about 12 stalks of asparagus.  The whole thing kept me going until lunch.  I would have a picture posted, but Blogger is being rude and won't upload the thing :P

Lunch is my chicken skillet (chicken thigh meat on top of a bed of sauteed tomatoes, onions, and spinach) topped with guacamole, plus a hardboiled egg, an apple, and a tablespoon of either almond or coconut butter**.  Dinner has been chili topped with avocado and halves of these HUGE tomatoes.

No snacks (they're allowed, I'm just not needing them), and no starvation.  Works for me.

All I can say is that I'm really glad I quit Diet Coke three weeks ago, or else by now I'd want to Kill All the Things. Surely going from 12 cups of coffee to 2 won't be an issue...

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In exercise news, all is well on the physical front.  I'm still doing upper body on MWF, lower on TThSa, and riding my recumbent exercise bike.  Weirdly, since dropping dairy and everything else, my nose is less stuffy to the point where I can actually breathe with it consistently for the first time since I was expecting the Elder, and my knee actually isn't giving me as many fits as it was. This isn't to say it's in great shape -- it's not, a fact I found out at dance last night.  But I was able to do my supported squats much lower and with more "umph" than usual, which was freaking awesome.

Maybe it's just luck.  Maybe it's a simple correlation and there's no causation.  I don't know -- I'm neither a doctor nor a scientist.  And my allergies could either be fading with the season, or the allergy shots are starting to have an effect... anything is possible, honestly.

But the correlation is there on both the allergy and the joint fronts.  And it's interesting.

That's it for now.  I have an entire rant about the impossibility of finding beef broth without sugar in it (sweet beef, WTF?) but I'm not feeling ranty at the moment so that will have to wait.  Cheerio!


*Hee! Some days it's the little things, yanno? 

**Yes, there is such a thing!  Yes, I was surprised too.  No, it's not coconut oil.  It is white, coconutty nut butter and it is GOOD.  Ingredients:  raw coconut.  Made. Of. Awesome.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy-ish Place

I've reached my happy place with my food and activity again.  I'm eating well, I gave up the stupid nightly fro-yo (because I'm forty-freaking-three years old and I finally realized that somewhere within me I thought I needed it, and that was where I brought the hammer down -- nobody needs fro-yo) and exchanged it for a damn apple and almond butter in the afternoon at the office.  The calories were necessary, but the composition of the calories with my current choice is highly superior.

I'm also at week 2 with zero Diet Coke, period.  If I have one can I'll suck down a 12-pack, so I just don't drink it anymore. It's senseless to pay for organic apples (have y'all seen the prices on those??  GACK!!!) and then bath my innards in some chemical stew.  Thank you, no.

I'm exercising daily with MWF upper body (thanks again, very nice husband!!) and TThSa with my limited lower body stuff (supported squats against the wall, and roll-ins on the floor).  I've also still got dance on Wednesdays, what I can do of it, and I'm bringing back in some limited cardio depending on today's Word from On High, i.e., my orthopedist.  I did 10 minutes on the recumbent bicycle yesterday as a bit of a test on my Stupid Knee with no ill effects today, and my plan is to move swiftly to 20 minutes daily.  That would be "swiftly" as in "starting this afternoon".

I think what I'll hear is "do it, and if it hurts, stop".  It's just the second part I have trouble with :P

Where I'm not at my happy place is with the amount of time in a day.  Holy crap, I spent the entire weekend getting food purchased, assembled, and packed up for the week, in between hosing out the house, guiding/ nagging the Gum Zombie with his room cleaning, and changing out the sand boas' substrate and moving their heat sources from a rheostat to a thermostat.

There was also The Weekly Rat Cleanup.  They're cute fuzzy little darlings, but Holy Jesus God do they reek.  And that's with a daily cage wipe-down/ pickup.  No cure for it but to change out the bedding.

And there was laundry.  Still is, for that matter -- I have yet to wash my darks.  The children's clothes are all done and folded, though.  Naturally.  Eyeroll.

Oh, and this morning the male ball python did a doodle, so I got to clean out that happiness. 

Part of me thinks adding the cardio back in is insanity, but it's 20 minutes, and I know 20 minutes not only won't kill me, but at least I can zone out on the machine for that long and not have to deal with anyone else.  I prefer to look at it as a gift.

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Today is Day 100 of my former plan to Get Off the Christmas Weight.  That hasn't happened, and I'm still hovering in the low-140's, which seems to be my winter default.  Interestingly, it corresponds with allergy season which makes me think that perhaps* my allergy pills have some bearing on the difficulty in losing the last bit of weight. I can drop 7 pounds in 4 weeks once I'm off the pills -- I did exactly that last summer -- but not while I'm still taking the Zyrtec daily.

I also noticed that my upswing in appetite and this December's need to eat All The Food coincided with the onset of High Allergy Season for me.

So what this tells me is that I need to be super-careful with my food now, especially when I'm on the allergy meds, because listening to my body is sheer idiocy.  My body is not only a lying liar that lies, it's chemically altered and hormonally challenged (adding insult to injury). My willpower stands zero chance if I open that door even a little.

Moderation can bite me.  Sometimes it works for me, but right now it's not -- I doubt it really ever will again -- and trying to make it work is only going to result in my failure to fit into my business wardrobe. 

As I've said before, I like my clothes.  I fit in them, albeit at the moment on the more-closely-fitting end of their parameters.  I cannot afford an entire new wardrobe.  Ergo, I have to be intelligent and not gain weight.  Since I like a little more breathing room, I believe it's safe to say I'm currently in active weight loss mode for sure.

Ultimately, I'd still like to see 130.  I think 135 is the realistic/ sustainable weight I'll end up hanging with -- I've done it for months on end with relatively little stress, other than the allergy season correlation (not causation -- my pound cake consumption over the holidays is proof against any allergy pill theory, and I own that) but I'd like to at least wave briefly at 130.

I'll update y'all on the orthopedic stuff as the situation warrants.  If I'm being whiny and this is just a middle-age issue, and surgery is too much for the lack of function I'm experiencing, at least I've done my due diligence about it.  If surgery is warranted, I'll deal with that.  Until then, though, I've got to keep moving forward.

I see too many similarities between some of my thought and activity patterns and folks who regain 20+ pounds, and I just can't go there.  My father has, repeatedly.  This stops with me.

*Please note: the italics are not meant to indicate irony -- in this particular instance, they're meant to indicate uncertainty.  Just in case that wasn't clear.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Choreboy = Best Husband EVER!

Sorry ladies, but it's true and there's only one of him ;)

No, seriously, this is what the man made for me:


Please excuse the apocalyptic stash of toilet paper, but there are priorities, dammitAhem.  And the wallpaper is on the list of "stuff we're going to make go away," because it's ancient and hideous.

Anyway, so he didn't form the metal bar from ore dug from the yard, but he did sacrifice his entire closet door and make the holders for my pushup-support/ chin-up/ reverse row/ tricep dip bar.  There's one more slot closer to the ground that I didn't get in the photograph, but you get the picture.

This is a godsend because as I have been griping forever, my lower body is out to get me and there was only so much upper body I could do at home given the weights we currently own.  With this bar, the bodyweight stuff I can do for my upper body has just doubled if not tripled. 

Goal:  to eventually be able to do a REAL pull-up.  That one, at least, should be attainable. 

The dude just rocks.  Love you, babe!


Thursday, April 11, 2013

That Tears It

Last night my belly dance class started up again.  I'd missed probably half of the last session due to ongoing issues with my knee, my allergies (still on roid-rage eyedrops and Zyrtec, and have started allergy shots), and my kids getting sick.  But I figured after several weeks of rest my knees might cooperate, right?

Uhm, yeah.  They didn't get that memo.  Especially the right knee.  I even took Celebrex before class, but apparently it didn't help.*  I had to sit down the last 20 minutes because the drills we were doing (Egyptian 1, which is a flat-ball-flat-ball sidestep where the flat food is the lead) caused a lovely, sharp pain to shoot up from my knee with each "flat" step.

Delightful.

I'm going to keep going to class and participate where I can, but in addition to that I've made an appointment with my orthopedist.  It's time to see if there's something to be done about this, or if I just need to suck it up and realize there are some activities I won't be able to manage ever again.

I'm hoping its the former.  My previous stance against surgery is fading in the increasing light of my progressive loss of function.

In other news, I turned 43 last week. It kind of got lost in the sea of taking care of the Gum Zombie's flu-fest, but Choreboy got me a Keurig and I've been brewing massive amounts of black coffee in a variety of flavors.  It's been festive :)

And just because, here's me at 43:


I like the smile lines.  And my eyes are almost aligned with each other, even, which is kind of cool... and unusual, considering my left eye is generally wandering off to the side somewhere :P

At any rate, I'll keep y'all posted on the ortho-stuff.  At least I feel like I'm doing something about it.

Laterz!

*Okay, it might have helped with the aftermath because I'm not limping today, but last night wasn't fun.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Happy Easter

Update:  Holy cow, this sounds depressed.  I swear I'm not!  Just sort of laughing at the insanity... good grief, what a weekend.  Oh well, so it goes.  Sheesh :)

AND the Gum Zombie's down for the count with the flu.  Rumor has it he'll survive, and I'm off in a flash to pick up his Tamiflu and also my steroid eye drops that are likely going to make me blind.

Not that they're doing much good at this point.  Once again, I'm near scratching my eyes out.  Adding insult to injury, my male snakes are giving me fits, but you can see my other blog for the details on that -- I'll spare you here.  You can thank me in the comments :D

Until I can breathe again, here's a lovely pork roast I've got in the oven for dinner.  The colored carrots just tickled me, so I tossed them in on top of the regular ones.  I also picked up the multi-colored baby potatoes because... well, purple root vegetables are cool.


Asparagus will round it out, but I'm cooking that later.  This is in low-and-slow at 225 (after its blast at 450) for another 6.5 hours at least.  Happy almost-Easter, folks!

Friday, March 08, 2013

DV Ruminations

[Excerpted from a letter I wrote regarding my own domestic violence experience -- this is pretty much navelgazing, y'all, but you're welcome to read on.  It's just not your standard perky Friday reading fare.  My apologies :) 

Oh, and standard "may be triggering" warnings apply.]

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Growing up hearing about my maternal grandmother's marriage and how she left, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I'd never let myself be in a relationship that involved domestic violence.  The second someone reaches out to strike you, you leave.  Full stop, end of discussion. G taught it, Mom seconded it, I believed it.  But over the course of my first two marriages I learned that abuse has more forms than a raised fist.  Between the two of them, I endured every type of marital abuse that exists with the exception of an outright, bloody beating.

What kills me (and this appears to be a universal feeling among various subsets of domestic violence survivors) is that I know better.  I knew it going in.  I'm intelligent, I'm educated, and I grew up in a family where we were taught to be honest, kind, and to use our words -- by anyone's measure, a "good family."

I know it's wrong to talk to people like they're trash.  I know it's wrong to threaten to abandon your family on a regular basis simply as a means of venting your displeasure.  I know it's wrong to withhold money for basic household bills.  I know it's wrong to make your family suffer because you refuse to provide the means to secure adequate medical and dental care.  I know it's wrong to threaten to discipline your children physically to coerce your spouse into behaving a certain way.  All of that is wrong and there is so much more to add that I dare not even attempt a comprehensive list; but every item on that list is a means of one person increasing their control over another.  I get that.  Because every item on that list (and more) was employed against me, by the person I should have been able to trust most.

And yet I let it happen not only once, but twice.  As it was occurring in my life, I didn't see it as abuse.  I saw it as irresponsibility, as idiocy, and at times as plain-out meanness, but the fact that all those behaviors put together created a pattern of abuse just didn't take, and dealing with it turned me into a person I didn't even recognize at times.  Looking back, I still don’t.  It took me finally getting sick of the constant divorce threats from my second husband, leaving him, and then actually sitting there in the Parents Children and Divorce class with that domestic violence cycle diagram staring up at me from the workbook for the reality of what I'd lived for the previous decade and more to actually sink in.

This was all because they didn't hit me.  Somehow the lack of a direct strike was supposed to make it okay.

But it wasn't okay.

I want other people to understand that.  I want them to understand that domestic violence isn't only found at the end of a fist, but also in a pattern of behavior used to belittle and control.  The simple fact of the matter is that there isn't a batterer out there who didn't first start with verbal abuse, with emotional abuse.  Not one.  I remember the story of how G's husband started treating her differently right after they got married.  When she asked him about it -- contrary to common perception, women who deal with domestic violence are rarely voiceless doormats -- he said, "We're married.  No use to be dragging bait when the fish is caught."

That was the first overt sign of things to come.

I'd like fewer women to have to deal with those "things to come".  I'm not sure how to accomplish it*, but that's what I'd like to see.

 -------------------------------------

 *Actually, how I accomplish it now, outside of putting my limited monies where my mouth is -- including a specific donation this letter accompanied -- is by occasionally sharing about domestic violence on my blog.  I don't want to go nuts with it here, because as I've said before this is not the place.  But on occasion... definitely.  Because I'm a normal, relatively well-adjusted woman who also happens to also be a domestic violence survivor.  If it could happen to me, it could happen to anybody.  The only shame is silence.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Allergies

Never being one to do anything in moderation, my allergy testing revealed that I am allergic to All The Things.  Grasses, molds, pollens, cats, dogs, roaches (!!!)... essentially, if it's tested for on a standard scratch test, I react to it.

The first round of testing was on my back.  Out of 50 scratches, I reacted to 32.


The next round was on my left arm and was injected.  18 shots.  They weren't deep, and at worst it felt like a little bit of a pinch.  I reacted to all 18.


And yes, my left arm and portions of my back still itch.  Thankfully I'm back on Zyrtec at least, and can take Benadryl toward the evening when things get rougher.

What this ultimately means for me is that I'm going to have to take allergy shots.  When someone my age has allergies this severe, to the point where the standard medications -- --antihistamine pills and eye drops -- don't work, it's time to haul out the big guns.  Sure, the steroid eye drops are working except on the worst of days, but one of the side effects from those is glaucoma and considering that my genetics already predispose me to same, I'd rather keep my vision thankyouverymuch.

On the minus side to all of this, once I stopped the steroids my face puffed up.  Lovely.

--------------------------------------

So anyway, there we are.  In light of all my lovely allergies I've decided to avoid gluten starting, well, now.  I'm not going to freak if I screw it up, but considering everything I figure it won't hurt to see if I'm possibly gluten sensitive, or at least if I somehow feel better without it in my diet.  I'm not married to this concept by any means :P  I'm more just entertaining myself by using my own body as a science experiment.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Meh...

I feel like I'm in a holding pattern at the moment.  I got down to 140.5, and then my weight did its usual wonky thing where it spiked up to 144 (thanks to a more carb-laden week -- mostly lentils, but it had an impact), then went back down to 140.5 again by last weekend, and THEN...

...Sunday hit, and I started my prednisone in preparation for my allergy testing tomorrow.  I have to have been off all antihistamines for a total of five days prior to that testing, and let me tell you it's been hell even with the steroids.  I'm itchy, my eyes are icky, and I hate this.  I can't imagine how bad I'd be without the prednisone, and regardless of any side effects I'm glad I'm on it.

Speaking of side effects, those don't appear to be awful.  I haven't gotten on the scale since I started the course because I didn't want to have to scream at it, but I'm still fitting into my pants fine and since that's the most important gauge in my world I think I can deal.  It may help that I'm drinking water as if anticipating a trek into the Gobi Desert, and also that I'm not using this as an excuse to eat All The Food.

But I am feeling as if I'm retaining water.  My fingers are a little tight, and my stomach is a bit more poochy than usual.  That'll be lovely for belly dance class.  Looks like tonight's going to be a sports tee kind of night rather than a dance top.

Have I mentioned the itch?  Because I'm itchy.  I loathe this.  I want my Zyrtec back.

More tomorrow, or maybe later if I'm too hive-laden after my testing.  Yuck.  Thankfully this too shall pass, and rather quickly.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Uhm... why????

Here's a map of where my readership comes from:



Okay, once you've settled down from laughing at my rather petite readership (I value each and every one of the six of you!), take a gander at where most of my viewership has been from the last week.  No, it's not the US.  Look harder at the dark green blip in central Europe.

It's the Ukraine.

*blink*

No, I don't get it either. 

So, anyone actually reading today from the Ukraine want to fill me in on what's so fascinating on my sporadically-updated highly-disjointed blog?

I mean, I could almost understand it better if it were my snake blog

Who knows, perhaps an English class is using me for their curriculum.  Have mercy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

No Title for You!

Why no title today?  Because in 6.5 years I think I've about run out :P  Or at least I'm out today.  But regardless, forward!

----------------------------

The scale has gone crazy in the past week.  I've been eating 100% on, just like I have been since January 7th, but last week I was eating the rest of the lentils I'd made over the weekend as opposed to my more standard lean protein/ dark green veg.  The lentils were marvelous, but by mid-week my weight was 144.  The hell?  No, no, no... icky.  When I finally was done with the lentils my weight started going back down and today I was a shade under 141 again, so I'm almost back to where I was like a week and a half ago.  Lordy.

This kind of scale craziness is why I've given myself until April 22nd to lose the entirety of the weight I put on over the holidays.  Sure, I can drop 3 pounds in a week as far as the scale is concerned, but then I can continue on, eating exactly what I've been eating, exercising exactly as I have been, and see zero progress for four weeks.

Then I'll drop another 3 pounds, seemingly "mysteriously".  Eyeroll.

It's nuts.  But It's how it goes.  On average, I lose a little under a pound per week, and considering where my weight is right now it'll take me just that much time to hit 135.

It's frustrating, but it's how my body likes to process things.  At least the scale eventually goes in the right direction, and considering that I fit into all my pants again, overall I'm good with it.

----------------------------

Finally, because I'm shamelessly hijacking this from Nikki at Furry Bottoms, here are 48 random things about me.  Why?  Because I'm off work this afternoon with the still-ailing Gum Zombie and I figure I might as well :)  And no, there's no "I'm tagging X-people do to this!"  That gives me the headache.

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE?
Yes -- my maternal great-great-grandmother.  She was Amanda Jane also.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?
Listening to my sister sing O Holy Night over the Christmas holidays.  She's an operatically trained mezzo soprano, did the requisite recital at Carnegie Hall, etc.  At 33, her voice is just now reaching its peak and it is freaking amazing.

3 DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING?
When it's legible, sure.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT?
I don't think I have one.  I've been off that track so long it tastes like non-food.

5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS?
Yup, 2 of 'em, male variant.

6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON, WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU?
The way I am now?  Yes.  I wouldn't have liked me 10 years ago, though -- I was living in an untenable situation and coping with that had me a bit nuts.

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT?
It's just one more service we offer :P

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS?
Nope -- they were taken out when I was four.

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP?
No. 

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL?
I don't eat cereal.  Unless you count oatmeal?  If that counts, then oatmeal.

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF?
Nah -- although I do end up untying and then retying them when I put them back on.

12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG?
Hell yeah.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM?
Honestly?  I have yet to meet an ice cream I didn't like.  But my all-time favorite is Breyers Natural Vanilla Bean.

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE?
Whether or not they look pleasant.

15. RED OR PINK? 
Neither.

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF?
That at times I'm so absolutely paralyzed by anxiety I cease to function.  It's ridiculous.  Fortunately, those moments are becoming more and more rare.

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST?
My sister, BIL, and niece.  The Divine Miss M is two-and-a-half years old now and is amazing.  We're missing so much with her living in NYC!

18. WHAT IS THE TECHNIQUE THAT YOU NEED TO WORK ON THE MOST?
Telling the anxiety beasts to shut it.  Again, it's getting better (I'd not still be in my belly dance classes if it weren't), but there's still work to do.

19. WHAT COLOR SHOES ARE YOU WEARING?
None -- bare feet (it's like 80+ out there).

20. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE?
My standard lunch.

21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?
"The Talk".  I have trashy TV tastes when I'm off work with a sick kid.

22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE?
Forest Green.

23. FAVORITE SMELLS?
Christmas trees, big holiday meals cooking, berry-scented candles.

24. HOW IMPORTANT ARE YOUR POLITICAL VIEWS TO YOU?
I like my own political views, and I really resent anyone trying to push a different opinion onto me. What I believe is what I believe, nothing you say will change it. Don't preach, don't push, don't even try. (this was Nikki's answer and I lifted it shamelessly and in its entirety, because it's how I feel as well)

25. MOUNTAIN HIDEAWAY OR BEACH HOUSE?
Mountains definitely -- but the beach is only an hour away.  And honestly, if someone offered me a beach house I wouldn't turn it down!

26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH?
Sumo wrestling.  Yes, I'm serious.  I was in Japan back in 1993 during Sumo season and it was the first televised sport I actually understood.  It's delightfully basic.

27. HAIR COLOR? 
Originally it was dark brown with chestnut highlights.  Now its natural color is "Marilla Cuthbert" iron grey, so it's instead dyed a medium-reddish-brown base with golden blonde highlights.

28. EYE COLOR?
Irish blue-green-grey

29. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS?
Nope -- I tried as a teenager but my astigmatism is severe and the only lenses I could wear were gas permeable lenses, which were essentially hard contacts, just with a little bit of flexibility.  It felt like I had tin can lids in my eyes no matter how long I worked to wear them, so eventually I resigned myself to the fact that I'd be wearing glasses the rest of my life or view the world through a bit of a haze.

30. FAVORITE FOOD?
Freaking pound cake.  Dammit.

31. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS?
Happy endings.  I look up movies in IMDB or Wikipedia to make sure the endings are happy.  If they aren't, I won't watch.  Real life is quite enough realism for me, thankyouverymuch.

32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED?
In the theaters?  I think it was Magic Mike.  I didn't know who Channing Tatum was before that movie.  Nice, nice, nice looking boy.

33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING?
Brown.
 
34. SUMMER OR WINTER?
Winter, or what passes for it down here.

35. FAVORITE DESSERT?
Effing damn pound cake.

36. STRENGTH TRAINING OR CARDIO?
Strength training.

37. COMPUTER OR TELEVISION?
I'm a multitasker.

38. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW?
Kim Harrison's Ever After (no relation to Cinderella -- this is the latest Rachel Morgan urban fantasy book)

39. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD?
Dust?  It's dark blue, so... yeah, dust.

40. FAVORITE SOUND?
My husband coming home at night.  Yes, I'm really this sappy :)

41. FAVORITE GENRE OF MUSIC?
It depends on my mood -- sometimes it's bubblegum pop, sometimes it's hard rock or metal.  My MP3s range from Katy Perry to Iron Maiden, with some Bach and Mozart thrown in for good measure.

42. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME?
Japan.

43. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?
I read really quickly, although I don't know if that's so much a talent as it is more a symptom of my book addiction.

44. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? 
Near San Francisco, CA

45. WHERE ARE YOU LIVING NOW?
Central Florida

46. WHAT COLOR IS YOUR HOUSE?
Grey wood siding with some faux-stone accents.  

47. WHAT COLOR IS YOUR CAR?
Dark green

48. DO YOU LIKE ANSWERING 48 QUESTIONS?
It's either that or I'm a masochist :)