Posts Tagged ‘allergies’

My dear first cousin and her husband visited us here in Northern California over the past weekend on their way to Australia. I suggested to them if I laid off my Pringles for a week, I would probably be small enough to tuck in any extra bag, but they neglected to take me up on the offer. Someday, I will get there perhaps. It’s on my bucket list with a number of distant and exotic places to visit. I was sad to hear koalas were on the endangered species list due to the fires on their continent. The climate is changing and the animal kingdom feeling the shift.

No matter how long the span between visits, as they live in Ontario, Canada, my cousin and I seem to reconnect as if it had only been a day or two since we saw each other. I don’t have family in the states so it is quite a treat to have relatives at my door. On both my father and my mother’s side, my mother and I have always been the “satellite family”. Until I was nine, I had grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and the usual cast of extended family members most people enjoy in the vicinity of where I lived. At nine, when she remarried, we left Halifax, Nova Scotia in the rear view mirror of our new Buick and headed across the U.S. to Southern California. Since then, I have probably returned to my homeland a hand plus a few fingers of times, but it’s not like living close by. Definitely Nova Scotia is high on my bucket list as well, hopefully, over the next five years. Note to Susie “get your new passport and quit procrastinating”. Heard and received.

I’ve always missed that family connection. Probably that is why I have created a family of sorts in the lovely group of women I call friends, but in truth consider my sisters. My friends are really the glue that keeps this ship afloat and I am thankful for them every day. The supportive phone call when I’m feeling a bit weepy, or the laughs over lunches, or simply knowing that they are out there and sincerely care if I set my feet on the ground every morning, means the world to me.

Since many of the COVID restrictions have been lifted, the pace of my life has picked up considerably. The fact that my car continues to have the check engine light front and center on my dashboard, adds a little extra anxiety to keeping up with the program. The part in question, a pricey one, is due in tomorrow. They told me not to hold on to the thought it would actually arrive tomorrow too tightly, as most likely with the supply chain issues this is a guesstimate of when it will actually show up. Kay. This makes keeping my schedule in place a little more difficult, as the commitments on my calendar aren’t going to be kept if I don’t have any transportation to get me there.

Currently, I am undergoing allergy shot treatments. Each week I go to my allergist and sacrifice my arm for my injections in the hope that my asthma will eventually (takes a year or two) become something that fades into the background. I never had asthma until I moved up to Northern California. Well, mild symptoms of seasonal allergies, but certainly never was prescribed an inhaler before living up here. If this is the worst thing I have to deal with in my life, I’ll get by, but it does make life a little more challenging when spring shows up with all it’s gorgeous blooms and copious pollen. They won’t give you a shot if you are symptomatic. You have to keep the cycle in between injections within two weeks in order to keep moving up the maintenance ladder increasing your tolerance. Today is the second time I have not been able to go for my appointment. Like my car, I seem to be having some maintenance problems. I guess this is all part of the equipment getting older and not working as well as it did when it was bright and shiny right out of the manufacturer’s showroom.

Along with everyone else in the country I would surmise, I am tightening my belt. Tightening it figuratively, I mean, not that I’ve shed the extra five pounds COVID added to my frame. Frills and extras are being whittled down to fit in my budget. Door Dash, sadly, has been left by the wayside, and just when I was getting on a first name basis with the drivers. Life’s little tragedies. Cutting down on going out to eat as well, and not so much retail therapy in my near future. I guess with what people are going through overseas, this isn’t too much to ask.

California is currently sporting the highest gas prices in the country. Such over achievers out here. I was filling my tank yesterday and believe the man in the next aisle was actually weeping as he got back into his car. You’d think after two years of battling the bug, life would have settled down to a dull roar, but the irony of the situation is now we are free to go where we’d like when we’d like, and we can’t afford to get there. The gods are toying with us.

On a completely unrelated topic, a friend was talking to me about APP dating the other day. Interesting process that. I met Rick on line twenty-five years ago so I’m not new to the idea. Still, I lean towards the old fashioned idea of seeing someone and being attracted to them and going from there. Continuing with my theme, I am open in my “why not” year to looking at all things available for me to try this year that are not dangerous or fattening. The APP experience would be totally new to me. People cruise in and out on the APP apparently, liking you or moving on down the road to someone else they do. You, of course, also have the choice of liking them, or not. If you decide you “like” one another than you text, talk, progress to coffee at a Starbuck’s and go from there. Will I try it? Probably. I have to admit the thought of having to tell all my stories again from the beginning I find a little daunting. When you are asked if you’ve been married before and hold up four fingers in response, it’s always good for an uncomfortable pregnant pause. One man said to me back in the day, “Boy, you really took one for the team.” Yes, I did. I guess when it comes to love, I would suppose I am the eternal optimist.

Well I’m off for now. Happy Monday. Have a great week full of smiles and adventures. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I am debating if I want to cook a whole corned beef and cabbage dinner for the cat and myself, but I may just do it!!

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I went for my first allergy shot on Monday. Wasn’t sure what to expect. The nurse gave me three small injections, each one containing a low dose of something I’m allergic to, in this case trees, mold, and shrubs. Once the injections were done, she asked me to sit in the reception area for thirty minutes while my body looked at what they’d put inside it and decided whether or not to react to it. Goody. I sat there playing Mahjong on my IPhone feeling like a hostage with a bomb strapped to her chest waiting to see whether or not it would ignite. I am happy to report, it did not.

People in my immediate circle always have something to contribute when I tell them I’m going through some sort of medical procedure. Often these contributions are based on the worst possible, most horrific, outcome one might expect to occur. One friend told me her neck swelled up alarmingly after an allergy shot and they had to stab her leg with an Epi-pen in order to keep her from suffocating to death. Hmmmm. When I asked the nurse about this possible side effect, she shook her head saying, “very rare”. Oh God. I was hoping more for, “never happens”. I have habit of over achieving with this sort of thing so the nurse’s answer didn’t leave me completely comforted.

Another reason I wish people would keep their horror stories to themselves, is I am the most visual of people. When I was pregnant with my first child a woman, also pregnant, shared a story about a lady in England who carried around a giant growth with hair on it inside her for nine months thinking it was a baby. For the next four months until my daughter was born, I kept imagining what that scenario would look like.

I have a habit of over achieving when it comes to bodily reactions, so as I said, the nurse’s answer didn’t leave me feeling completely comforted. Thankfully, other than being a bit tired for a day or two, I survived. However, I did call in as instructed if any symptoms showed up to advise the nurse I felt wheezy and tired. She asked if I’d been gardening, to which I answered no. Then she asked if I’d taken a walk. I had asked before leaving their office if this was okay, and was told yes as long as not two hours before or two hours after the treatment. When I responded, “Yes, I did go for a walk, but three hours after the shots” she said, “you know, you could have gone into anaphylaxis”. “What”? Perhaps that should be noted in big, bold letters on the instruction sheet before submitting to the procedure? Good Lord. Sometimes the cure really can be worse than the disease.

Thankfully, aside from the horror stories from my less optimistic friends, I balanced things out with friends who are oozing positivity. One friend in particular, encourages me to always look for MBO’s, as she refers to them, an acronym for Most Benevolent Outcomes. She chooses to believe life will produce the most delicious experiences if you believe this to be so, rather than assuming the worst and battening down every day waiting for the next storm to arrive. I like that. I like it a lot. There will always be a storm, because without the dark unsettled clouds how could we appreciate the beauty of a glorious sunrise if there was nothing to compare it with? However, we needn’t always be looking for a storm on the horizon, especially if there isn’t a cloud in the sky.

Last weekend my upbeat friend and I went to Lake Tahoe for lunch. What a beautiful location Lake Tahoe is to find yourself. No matter the season, the lake always seem to say (as my mother might) “I’ve put my face on and I’m ready to receive company”. We ate at a lovely spot overlooking the beach. The company was delightful, the weather nearly perfect, and the view spectacular. Feeling the need for good old red meat, something I haven’t indulged myself in often of late, I ordered a prime rib dip which was seriously out of this world. As I’ve said before many times in my blog, the universe occasionally comes together to create near perfect moments for us to enjoy. This experience was one of them. I came home to find a beautiful Valentine’s bouquet waiting for me on my front step from my son and his family, which was to be the icing on the cake of my day.

This afternoon I am going to a gym I’m interested in joining to speak to a personal trainer. I do not want a repeat of previous gym experiences where I go in, a gym employee looking like a relative of Arnold Schwarzeneggerr instructs me for five minutes on how to use their equipment, and two weeks later I’m back in physical therapy getting rebuilt. Watching my own behavior (I hate working out), I came up with at least twenty reasons early this morning why I needed to cancel this appointment. Even though I know it will be of great benefit to me physically and emotionally, a part of me resists this mightily. There is a little voice in my brain who’s job it is to talk me out of things I don’t want to do, and today he was certainly earning his paycheck. This gym is one of those large gyms, broken up into multiple rooms each set up for various forms of human torture. What interests me in particular, are the three pools located the rear of the building. This is where the water aerobics classes take place. If I must exercise, it makes it bearable if there is water involved. On my first visit last year (notice I still haven’t done one exercise), I noticed everyone was ready for business in their work out gear. All the members were dressed in layered pieces of spandex, matching of course, with coordinated socks and work out shoes with plenty of support. I don’t suppose my leggings will the baby sloths on them and my flip flops would be well received in a high scale gym such as this. I guess a trip to the store will be in the offing if I actually sign the contract.

I’m in such an unsettled phase of my life at the moment, that all the things I normally do to keep me grounded seem to be hovering slightly beyond the tips of my fingers. Writing, drawing, cooking all seem to be just out of reach. One thing I know for certain, this is simply how I am feeling now. As with all things in this life of ours, this will shift and change for the better. As the days unfold, the unsettled will become settled, the choppy seas will give way to calm waters, and winter will relinquish the stage to the players of spring. That is the way of things. So I will settle into my unsettlement (my word not Webster’s) and allow myself to feel whatever this is I am feeling for the time being until it passes. Grief is such an individual and unpredictable phase to push through, often described by those deep in it as a roller coaster. You go up, up, up and then sometimes down, down, down. In the end, you must go through it in order to reach the other side.

I hope this finds you well and happy. I have said aloud the five things I am grateful for today so I began my day on the bright side of things. Happy Thursday!!

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What a picture perfect day it is here in Northern California. I would be celebrating the glorious spring weather was it not for the wind rustling through the freshly sprouted tree leaves, distributing a fine layer of dusty golden pollen now covering my freshly washed car. I am an allergy sufferer, so each spring I pay the price for enjoying all the lovely early blooms popping up in my garden, and reveling in the happy dance of the bees hovering over my azalea bush. Last year I went in for a series of skin tests to narrow down what, in fact, was triggering the endless bouts of sneezing and perpetual drip, drip, drip of my nasal passages when April and May roll around on the calendar. When the results were in, it would appear I have checked all the boxes. Cats, check, dogs, check, mold, check, trees, hay, check. Check, check, check and on and on.

The doctor’s first suggestion, one which I have already implemented, was to use air purifiers. I put one in the living room, and the other one is happily humming away in my bedroom. Unfortunately, a full-nature model covering the planet at large isn’t available on the market as yet, so this only alters the indoor environment. Also, he told me to be sure my heater/AC vents are properly dusted, and to replace the filters often. Vacuuming and dusting regularly will help as well, something I already do, and keeping the cat outdoors if possible. Done, done and, um, not done. These suggestions have been a big help, up to to the outdoor cat situation, which simply which isn’t doable. Noticing I ignored the outdoor cat invitation, my doctor took a different tack, this time pointing a finger directly at my cat. He felt it would be better if Boo slept somewhere other than my bed and if I wished to keep a pet, I should keep her out of the bedroom entirely. Right, Dr. M., you tell Boo. She’s pretty sure that’s where she is going to be. As for me, I’m not comfortable sleeping with both doors shut to my room, nor am I inclined to get up twenty times in the wee hours to remove a reluctant feline from the bed. I’m already up three times for other reasons, if you get my drift. I mentioned casually to Boo she might consider using the lovely fleece lined cat bed I purchased for her last winter. I can’t be certain but I’m pretty sure the extended paw I got in response had only one middle claw pointed upward for emphasis. Let’s say I was getting a lot of cattitude. In her defense, this is a standard of behavior we have established over some thirteen years, and neither of us is looking to change it any time soon. The third choice he gave me, which I liked the best of the three, was for me to begin a series of allergy shots. Apparently, these shots can prove very effective in lowering a persons allergic response to irritants. That is, of course, unless I prove allergic to shots, which isn’t entirely off the table. Where do I sign up? I start in two weeks. Have to wait until the Covid shot effects are completely out of my body. So, Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats, will continue to sleep on the pillow next to me in my new bed, and I will continue to regale her with her much needed belly rubs and brush her eternally molting coat. Life is good.

Aside from the allergies, I have asthma. Essentially I signed up for the whole litter of the breathing spectrum kiddies. I went to pick up my inhaler the other day, my first refill of 2021. $285 lighter, I received my teeny tiny small bag from the pharmacy clerk for my donation and went out in my car to weep in private. My deductible allows for one whopping price tag at the beginning of the year, and this was the one for 2021. Don’t get me started on drug prices. I pay a small fortune for health insurance to fill in the gaps that Medicare doesn’t pay. On top of that, I pay a prescription drug plan costing another third of a Hamilton to cover my medication, and yet still lay out $285 for an inhaler. It is not like this is a face cream where I have a choice on which one I select, or the option to not to select one at all. I need my inhaler to breathe. What do people do who do not have $285 to lay down on the counter? Gets my Irish up.

As I said one can choose or not choose how much to pay for beauty products. My mother, for example, always did her shopping at the Lancome counter at Nordstrom’s. If we were shopping of a day we’d often drop by to pick up her latest batch of high priced beauty products as well as the little gift bag usually handed to her by the copiously fragrant and perfectly put together sales girl at the end of her hefty purchase. You can tell you are in the high rent section of a store when you get a gift bag for buying something at the counter. In my case, I generally get my beauty products at the local drugs store where they charge you $ .10 if you wish to have a bag for your items, and it is plastic not pink or lilac, and doesn’t come with a little fabric tie. What I’m saying here is I could live nicely without any beauty products, though undoubtedly I would live alone, but an inhaler isn’t an opt in or opt out kind of decision I can make. The drug companies have us backed in a corner and they know it. It’s like the oil companies. Unless everyone is going to run out and purchase a Tesla, we are going to continue to have to pay whatever the price is at the pump that the traffic will bear. It would make me nervous I think to have an all electric car. What if you’re driving in the middle of the desert and you can’t find a place to recharge? A bad memory I have is going over the grapevine once in the dead of winter across snow packed highways. I had borrowed a friend’s diesel Mercedes to make the trip as my car was in the shop. At the time diesel wasn’t sold as readily as it is now and I found myself on a steep grade late at night with the gas gauge needle pointed directly at E. Thankfully, a huge amount of commercial trucks travel that particular route so I located a station with a diesel pump before I had to pull over to the side of the road and wait for my extremities to begin to go numb.

Well there’s my hump day hump. I’m done now. Thank you for allowing me to vent. I hope your week is without frustration and running as quietly as a Tesla on a deserted country road (hopefully with a recharge station). Talk soon. Stay safe.

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I’ve felt a little discouraged this past week because my asthma, a problem that had supposedly resolved itself some seven years ago, has decided to act up again. For those of you who have suffered with asthma or know someone who does you will know anything effecting your breathing can literally take the wind out of your sails. Walking, something I try to fit in every day, has had to be shelved until I get my breathing in check. Don’t want to scare the neighborhood children on their was to school by walking by with my mouth hanging open gasping for air like a recently hauled in wide mouthed bass.

If you knew me at all you might be aware that asking for help is not my strongest suit. However, yesterday I was struggling with the wheezing to the point I made an appointment with urgent care and showed up at the allotted time. The doctor was both attentive and conversational, discussing my problem with me in detail and offering a number of suggestions for treatment. I know! One of his suggestions was to have the air quality checked in my house for contaminants. Secretly I had been thinking about this myself. This is a rental. I sold my home nearly a year ago to move down out of the mountains to be closer to more accessible shopping and farther away from fire danger. The first month I was in here a tree branch punctured the sewer line causing an sewer overflow in the master bathroom and master closet that required the county and a hazmat team to become involved to remedy the situation. Somewhere in the back of my mind, though I was told it was completely abated, I have been wondering if perhaps they missed something. Sigh. The expression “jumping from the frying pan into the fire” comes to mind here. I will have to speak to the owners. Not my favorite job. My landlords live in huge restored Victorian right across the street. It is my understanding they have seven additional rentals scattered about the area so though I have never seen their financials I am pretty sure they are not stressing where their next meal is coming from. That being said they are not easy with a dollar. The husband does all the repairs while the wife manages the properties, and though he is always very helpful she tends to get an expression like she’s just sucked a lemon every time I mention something that needs looking after.

There are days when it feels like I take two steps forward and one step back. Each morning I begin my day either with affirmations or by reading something positive from the variety of motivating reading material I keep next to my bed. Rather than dwell on what isn’t, I try very hard to focus on the positive of what is. However, sometimes I just want to throw my hands up in the air and indulge in a full on out of control temper tantrum complete with obscene language and foot stomping, exactly what I gave into yesterday while the cat huddled under the bed. My therapist once told me I was not good at releasing anger.  Last night she would have been very proud of the progress I’ve made.

So, today I will research how one goes about having the air checked in your home. I know there are monitors available for doing it yourself or there are professionals who will do it for you. Being on my own has taught me a lot about being proactive. When you have a partner there is always someone there to shoulder part of the load. When they are gone it is up to you to do what needs to be done as things show up on your plate. Have to admit it is a little unnerving not to be able to catch your breath when you are alone.  Trusting that things will turn out as they are meant to be is a lesson I am working on. All I can do is do my best and have faith life will unfold as will. Another test I intend to pass as I learn to travel this new road I am carving out in my life.

On a high note my replacement green card finally arrived in the mail last week. It took just a little over a year for it to come. Wow. A turtle traveling from the Florida Keys could have gotten it here faster. Next I am going to explore getting dual citizenship. At the moment I only hold Canadian. I have lived here since I was in pigtails so I believe it is long past time. Even my dear mother who believed Abraham Lincoln to be the first president of the United States passed the test so I believe with a little cramming I could make this happen too. The biggest problem for me is the expense but I have included it first on my to do list for my 2021 budget under PRIORITY.

Nova Scotia was my point of origin so I hold tight to it. Being a rolling stone most of my life “home” has been an elusive element for me so my Canadian heritage has filled the gap. Still in my dreams I’ll find myself walking down the street towards my Grandmother’s house where I spent my childhood. I can picture it now as well as I could when I was small. Nine when I left, certainly I have wandered far and wide since then but still when asked about my roots Nova Scotia is always incorporated in the answer. Truly it is a lovely province with so much to offer if you’re planning a trip. Always I am surprised the picturesque fishing villages remain much the same from visit to visit, and the sea surrounding the peninsula on three sides still calls my name.  Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like had I remained there but that was not the plan for me. Had I not come to California my children wouldn’t be who they are and I wouldn’t trade them for anything so I’m glad my life laid down the way it did. Still, the craggy rocks and abandoned lighthouses seem as familiar as if I’d visited yesterday. Guess I’d better add another trip to my bucket list now that I have the documents to allow me to travel.


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