Friday, July 29, 2011

Sleep experience in sleep

I'm tired...a lot. A lot more tired than I should be, and it's bothered me for years.  A couple of years ago I had a sleep study because I was looking into bariatric surgery, and it was one of the requirements to see if I have sleep apnea.  Since we moved my new doctor wanted me to have another one, and I thought I would share the experience.

A sleep study is exactly what it sounds like.  You, sleeping.

I was asked to arrive at the sleep lab around 8:30pm, and bring my own pillows.  I was almost immediately led to a room and given 20 pages (no joke) of paperwork to fill out. I was also offered a snack. I can never turn down hospital apple juice and hospital ice (the best) so I happily had some.

My first sleep study took place at an independent lab, but this one was in a hospital. There were marked differences.  The first time, the beds were nice and comfortable and looked like the bed you would sleep on at home.  This time, they were just hospital beds, and not very comfortable ones.  In fact, the bed was uncomfortable enough that it made it hard for me to sleep.  Another thing is that you are sleeping with a TON of wires and things hooked up to you so that they can measure everything.  Here are the things that are measured:

1.  Brain waves (EEG) are recorded by placing
     electrodes on the head.
2.  Heart rate and rhythm (EKG) are recorded
      by placing electrodes on the chest.
3.  Eye movement is recorded by placing
     electrodes next to the eyes.
4. Muscle activity is recorded by placing
    electrodes on the muscles of the chin.
5. Leg movements are recorded by placing
    electrodes on the lower part of the legs.
6. Breathing is measured by placing a special
    sensor on the upper lip in front of the nose
    and mouth.
7. Breathing effort is measured by placing belts
    around the chest and abdomen.
8. Oxygen level in the blood is measured by
    attaching a probe onto the finger. No needles
    are used.
9. A camera is located in the room and a video is
    recorded of the entire night
(This information came from the brochure I was sent)

Putting all these sensors on took a half an hour. Luckily  I was able to watch TV this time. Perhaps because of that fact I didn't realize that they were using so much tape to hold all the wires down.  See...I'm apparently allergic to the adhesive and my skin does some bad things as a result.  If I had been paying attention I may have been able to prevent the technician from putting half a roll (it felt like) on my cheeks.

The hardest things for me is having two different devises more or less up my nose, and blood oxygen sensor taped to my finger. It didn't feel natural, the sensor was making it difficult to breathe through my nose and I just wanted to go to sleep so that I could get up in the morning and go home.

After they put all the wires on you, they ask you to lay down and they 'calibrate' it all by asking you to move your eyes, cough, tense your legs, and hold your breathe to make sure that the sensors are picking up on your movement.  After all this I laid down and tried to fall asleep....and tried, and tried.  I finally, about a half hour later called in a tech to ask for another blanket because the room was cold.  I like to be really warm to fall asleep and then sweat and throw them off during the night.  I finally fell asleep around 11, but was frequently woken up for short periods of time by having to move, and then plagued by dreams of being tied down with a million wires.

Around 2am my technician woke me up by opening the door (the hallway was super bright) to fix the stupid sensor in my nose. I sleep on my side and this apparently made it move.  At that point I decided I was awake, so I might as well use the restroom and then attempt to go back to sleep.

Basically another 3.5 hours of crappy sleep later I remember opening my eyes up for a moment and deciding to go back to sleep when the technician said over the intercom that the sleep study was over.  He must have been monitoring my brain waves so he could tell when I had woken up, and instead of just waking me up out of a sound sleep, waited until I was almost on the edge of awakedness. It was nice, since I didn't wake up feeling awful and groggy.

Now the unpleasant part--removing all that tape!  It wasn't fun, and my face still has marks on it more than 24 hours later.  I would suggest if you have any time of sensitive skin that you ask if they can use a less sticky type of tape.  Really I don't think this stuff was meant to go on faces, and it annoyed me to no end that I didn't realize what he was doing until it was too late. I really hurt to take off, in fact it was the first thing he tried to take off and I felt like I was going to throw up on him.  He tried using alcohol wipes to kill some of the adhesive but it didn't work at all. Having tape ripped off at 5:30am? Not fun. They also use this gunk in your hair to hold the sensor's done, which is a pain in the butt to wash out.  It's basically the consistency of really soft wax, but is a gel.  I think there were 5 spots where they put that in my hair.  If you have long hair, I would suggest asking them to try to take as much of it out when they take the senors off.  My technician didn't do this, and I had a pain of a time try to get it out, before I washed it, on my own.  This btw is why they ask you to wash your hair the day of the test--so that the sensors won't fall off your scalp.

After being offered a snack,  I got dressed, used the restroom and headed get more sleep.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Spaghetti Meatball Alfredo

My husband requested meatballs and alfredo, and of course I immediately wondered what I would have to buy to make that reality.  After doing a quick mental check I was ecstatic to realize that, for once I wouldn't have to buy anything. Aside from asking him "uhh...people eat that?" the whole process went off without a hitch.

First I made the meatballs using a recipe I found here:
note: rolling the meatballs in flour made a big difference when you put them in the oil.  They didn't fall apart at all and had that nice brown crunch.  If I made these again I would investigate baking them instead of using oil.

Next my favorite guiltless alfredo sauce that I have made a couple of times before. I swear--it doesn't taste like it  isn't made with cream and it's thick and delicious.

I have no idea how I came across this website (ourbestbites) but they have some really gooooood recipes.

Mixed together with some spaghetti and you get this!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summertime musings

Maybe it's the heat stifling any creative thinking I might have lately. It's been really really hot here, with temperatures feeling like 115 degrees.  I don't remember any time before in my life where it got this hot.  Our AC has been working overtime. Maybe it is that there are so many new things going on that I'm trying to put them straight in my head.  I was reading another blog yesterday where a woman was musing about writing a book and then saying that she couldn't because in a blog you don't have put your thoughts in order, hence blogging generally is a perfect outlet for me, especially as I attempt to muddle through my thoughts on religion.

I've been suffering from some serious lack of motivation lately.  Overall, I think I'm doing great not taking anti-depressants, better than I would have given myself credit for beforehand. However, I'm pretty sure that a lot of my 'get up and go' got up and went away when I stopped taking the medicine.

After the little bipolar fiasco I talked to lots of friends, and other doctors about the diagnoses and my awful reaction to the medicine.  None of them thought that I had bipolar disorder and most (including my gynecologist) begged me to seek a second opinion.  My gynecological recommended a doctor who my husband and I both like.  The only downside is that he doesn't accept insurance, but luckily we can afford it.
Dr. H (I'll call him) doesn't think that I have bipolar disorder, but we did discuss that I had mood swings and using cognitive therapy to help learn coping mechanisms to deal with them.  Going back to the lack of motivation, and a personal and family history of ADD I was prescribed medicine for that.  It's something I could have been using the last decade but I never really pushed a diagnoses on, since I have mangaged for the most part to develop good coping mechanisms to deal, did I mention I suck at taking medicine?  Lately though, which the lack of motivation and deciding to go back to school, I realized that I might need a little chemical help to concentrate and get my crap together.  I really want to be successful in school, and in the work force, and I feel that my ADD was a HUGE component to my feeling like an utter failure at an office job.

There are lots of different medications for ADD.  The one I was given is a generic of Concerta.  Concerta is a long lasting form of Ritalin.  Since I'm already prone to mood swings, my doctor wanted to give me something that wouldn't just cease working after a couple of hours, like Ritalin does.  I don't have this crazy burst of energy like I did with phentermine but I sadly am getting hit hard with side effects like daily headaches, moodiness and if I don't take the medicine in the morning as soon as I wake up, I am utterly and completely exhausted.  It doesn't really help with my concentration (well maybe it does since I haven't checked facebook once since I started writing this).  I don't think it's the best medicine for me, so at my next appointment--back to the drawing board.

I also went to my general practitioner and he put me on the metformin to help with the PCOS.  My blood sugar levels weren't bad at all when I had my testing done, but we'll see if this medicine helps.  I've fought against taking medicine in the past and sometimes I wonder if I'm doing myself more harm than good. I knew I didn't have bipolar disorder, and I've been leery (read terrified) of taking any medicine that changes how my brain works, but I'm at a point where I have doctors that I trust, and I feel well enough educated in my own health to feel secure that the medicine that is being given to me is appropriate for what is wrong with me.

I bought my school books, but being a college graduate I knew to shop around.  Between Abe books and amazon, I think I got the best deals I could on them.  I am planning on switching one of my classes to a introduction computer programming class, which worries me a little.  This is definitely territory that I have nary tread before.  What if I am a complete loss? Well, my husband won't let my homework suck too much, since he will want to do it and teach me, but still I'm getting that queezy feeling that I had right before I went to college for the first time.  I would like to remind myself that I did wonderfully in college the last time and I'm going to community college this time and no one cares what my grades are.  Okay, self reassured.

Ever since I went to DaySpring last month I've gotten involved in the Baha'i community here. There are so many Baha'i in this area, and I've really enjoyed having all of my Friday's suddenly planned weeks in advance.  The community is one of love, caring, and devotion.  When I left the Catholic Church I wondered if I would ever find that sense of community again.  In the Baha'i faith, there are no church services, but people have devotions in their homes, taco night open to anyone that wants some tacos (I managed to drag my husband to that) and firesides (think evening lectures on topics of interest to the group).  I must admit that I struggle to separate the academic and emotional me when I'm reading prayers.  Where does the 'me studying' the faith end, and the 'me learning to believe and trust in God' start?  I'm not sure. I'm not sure I will ever become Baha'i, but I love the community, and love to learn.

If you haven't hard of the Baha'i faith, feel free to check out a wikipedia link for now. I promise I'll write more later.'%C3%AD_Faith

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Help, A Review

While I'm generally loathe to hop on the same train as everyone else, I love to read and am always in search of a good book.  When my husband and I went to see Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy)we saw an add for a movie called The Help. It was heartwarming and heart wrenching at the same time.  I wanted to cry during the preview and turned to my husband and said "we are so seeing that."  It never even occurred to me until a month later, after I'd signed up for a book club that the movie, and the book that I had seen all over were the same thing.  I impulsively bought the book for my kindle.  Well, is it impulsive when you've committed to a book club and actually need to purchase the book? I'll give myself a pass on that one.

The Help is a book set in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962, when an aspiring journalist decides to try to write a book about the complex relationship between white women in the South and their black help. The book is split into three voices, Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter.  Skeeter is a white woman that grew up on a cotton farm with her own black 'help,' and went to college.  She came back unmarried, unlike all of her friends and struggles with her desires to be a writer, and figuring out what she is truly passionate about writing. She decides to write this book about the 'help,' and is shocked at the stories of violence, hatred and also love.

Aibileen is a black maid who loves working with children. While many maids stay with one family for their entire career, she moves around and leaves when the children go to school. She works in the house of Skeeter's best friend Elizabeth.  Elizabeth however is one of the worst parents I have never heard/read about.  She is guilty of neglect of the highest degree. She doesn't love her daughter, pay any attention to her, or even treat her well when she does pay attention to her.  She is so caught up in her own world that she doesn't even realize that Aibileen has written about her in the book.

Minny is a large figured, large mouthed black maid who is the best cook in town. Her cooking seems to be her best attribute and the one that allows her to keep jobs after she mouths-off to her bosses.  I love her, and I think that most people reading this book will feel a kindred spirit in Minny, not being able to always keep your mouth shut in the face of the pain, abuse and adversity that these women faced daily.

The book is a really fast read, and I read it in two sittings. It has it's laugh out loud moments, and you'll also find yourself reaching for a tissue. The racism is startling, in your face and rarely hidden in genteel Southern manners. People are killed and you will want to scream for justice, but in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962 there wasn't justice for blacks.  There was jail for supposed thefts, starvation when no one would hire you, and constant judgement for something you had no control over.    

When I lived in DC, I went to a college that had gone from a preppy all white college to, when the men's colleges started allowing women in and the admissions fell, a predominantly black school. I wasn't aware of this when I moved to DC, nor did I care. My mother taught me to be color blind.  While in college I worked for Americorps teaching in an almost exclusively black school in the southern part of the city.  I saw almost because there were a few Latino kids. So many of the inequalities these women face are still realities here.  No there aren't segregated bathrooms, and it doesn't matter if they sit at the same table as a white person but many of these kids had never MET a white person.  I met women in college that just wanted to touch my hair--they never had touched a white women's hair before.  The kids we taught may aspire to be the president, but many won't graduate high school. There is nothing sadder than seeing the thirst for knowledge in a child already gone at ten.  Seeing that light in their eyes dimmed by the daily reality of poverty.

My time in DC taught me something important. We aren't so far removed from the civil rights movement. We are only a generation, maybe 2, away from all the segregation and violence at trying to change the status quo. In one class on 'places and spaces' which really turned out to be about the civil rights movement in DC, we discussed what DC looked like in the 30's, 40's, 60's, and now and how that space had changed.  One of the women, asked what happened to her generation.  That they went from these strong willed individuals that were willing to fight for change to so many complacent kids with an entitlement complex.  This issue goes so much deeper than I have time to begin to explore here, but still--where is the equality? Where is the equality when we still have racially segregated schools, not because of laws but because of where the lines of poverty are drawn.

I'm proud to know some smart, strong individuals that have crossed any real or imagined color line to work towards equality, not only in DC but in the whole US.  I feel blessed and fortunate to have been their 'white' friend, so they could ask me crazy stereotypes, and vice versa.  How can we find our similarities if society only let's us see each other's differences?

This country has come so far in 50 years, but we still have so far to go.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Consistency, Challenge and Goal

I feel bad for neglecting my blog.  I seem to have developed writers block. I used to be really creative, and have all of these ideas flowing through my mind so fast that I couldn't write them down, but since I stopped taking any depression medicine my brain seems to have slowed down.  I'm not having wild ups and downs, although I have been pretty grouchy the last couple of days. I think that having a cat that keeps puking on my carpet first thing in the morning is contributing to the bad mood more than anything chemical though.  As you will learn in the following blog, sticking with things in the long term is something that I struggle with daily.  I don't want to give up on this blog--I love writing and knowing that people are reading it.

In the last 7 months since we moved, I've been doing yoga, Zumba, and water aerobics in attempts to help me stay fit and lose weight.  None of it really worked.  I would eat more in the lunch after going to water aerobics than I would during the class, and I never felt like it was a particularly difficult work out.  Zumba challenged me, but I didn't do it often enough, and the songs started to get on my nerves, because they would stuck in my head for days on end. Yoga, as I've discussed in the past may have been a contributing factor in my back pain, so I stopped it shortly before my semester was going to end anyways.  I like all of these activities, but I need to do them weekly, not one a week if they are going to make a real difference in my health.

Consistency is and always has been my biggest challenge in life. Consistency from studying daily, practicing a religion, not getting bored and giving up on projects, cooking/making meal plans, working out, and even little stuff like routines of taking a shower every day, brushing my teeth, taking medicine.  Yes, I'm openly admitting that at times I forget to do these things. so feel free to mock my occasionally skuzzy teeth and greasy hair (although I'll probably kick you). It is my struggle. My battle with consistency has a lot to do with my difficulty in losing weight and getting/staying fit.  I start something, be it going to a exercise class, making meal plans, working on my elliptical, doing yoga at home, counting calories and I get bored and give up and in the end...don't lose weight.  I'm really frustrated that I am at the same weight I was my senior year of college before I worked my ass off to lose 40lbs.

It is is this weird catch 22 of sorts, because if I don't highly regiment things, I don't get anything done but if I feel like I have too much stuff to do, I just shut down and can't do anything at all.  I start freaking out and thinking of what I can cancel or move around so that I don't feel overwhelmed. I'm not sure what this means or how I can deal with this anymore than simply working hard to have some accountability to myself and other people.

Last week, I joined a gym at the recommendation of a very nice lady I met.  We are around the same age, and live pretty equally far from the place and she really likes it. This gym includes all fitness classes (yoga, zumba, spinning, aeorbics) and obviously cardio machines with the gym membership. I figure if I use them there as often as I have paid for them elsewhere that it might work itself out in the end.  The other costly thing I did to get me actually into the gym is to get a trainer. I started on Monday, and Tuesday, what was left of my pecs after not working out for 6 months were pretty sore.  I think Zumba has kept my legs in pretty good shape, since they didn't hurt much.  My goal is to continue with the trainer at least 2x/week and get in for at least 2-3 classes on top of that. I'd like to do some private pilates lessons as well to learn about the machines and see how my back feels with them.  Some things work, some don't.

I am well aware of how fortunate I am to have the financial ability to do these things, to buy healthy food and eat the things I want, when I want. I am truly blessed, and I thank my husband every day for giving me this opportunity to stay home, and not have to work.  The least I can do is do something with this opportunity.  My husband made me write a list of goals recently and basically told me that my job was to work towards one of those goals every day.

So while I will struggle every day with making myself learn a new pattern of going to the gym, and doing things differently I need to. Most of us do.  I've already made a lot of positive changes in my lifestyle in the last few years. I'm looking forward to more, and making those changes habits to last a lifetime.

On another note, I managed to get distracted from this post at least 5 times...ADD anyone?

Some side goals where I am just going to talk to myself...
*Get better with meal planning, and snack planning so I don't ever feel like there isn't something I want to eat in the house.
*Keep a list posted on the fridge with snack suggestions of things I actually know I like.  (When I'm hungry I want everything and NOTHING at the same time and have no decision making skills.  Plus, I turn into a demented dragon. It isn't pretty.)
*Figure out what I can do with this crazy sweet tooth.  The popcorn at night seems to be a pretty good snack, but is it the best? I'll post the recipe.
* Make hardboiled eggs to have in the fridge--come on, I've got 4 dozen farm fresh eggs (thanks Andy!) that I need to use.
* Look in the pantry! I've got quinoa that I want to eat, but I'm not sure in what recipe.  I am thinking some shredded chicken, finely chopped celery/carrot, tomatoes, and some herbs and spices might work.  I'm craving the food that Lily's mom used to make.  Read some of your magazines, and start to explore with cooking again instead of being all lazy and tired.
* You aren't 'treating' yourself by eating crap, you are HURTING yourself.
* Your elliptical isn't a lawn ornament parked in your room. Use it. I know it isn't the arc trainer you want but...get over your spoiled self.
* Seriously--send some of those awesome people you met an email before they think you are blowing them off.  Not cool Ms. Procrastination.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

what to write about...a crazy week!

Ever felt like there is so much going on that you can't make yourself, mentally, take a step back and write it down? That is sort of how I feel.  I'm rather overwhelmed with making myself get stuff done. I struggle with not having a solid 'schedule' like most people do, and then over-stress when I don't get as much done as I feel like I should.  One thing at a thing at a time! Last week was pretty busy for me, and now I feel like I'm playing catch up with everything else.
First, I had a baby for a week which was exhausting.  I realized that I don't really enjoy newborns.  I always worked with toddlers, and found them awesome and fun to play and learn with.  3 month olds...not so much.  I enjoyed the experience but I think that I'm going to be one of those parents that enjoys babies when they are a little older.  I knew how exhausting the entire experience would be, and wasn't surprised. One fun part of it was that she just learned how to smile and will mimic you, so I'd spend hours smiling and talking to her.  She also loved when you rubbed her nose and would laugh/smile at that.  Okay...some of it was fun.
The same day that I handed off the baby, I headed out to Frostburg, Maryland for a Baha'i summer school program that I attended last year as well.  I have so much to digest after my weekend Baha'i retreat that I'm not, and may not for awhile, be ready to write about it.  In short, I had a wonderful time but I have mixed feelings on organized religion of any type and struggle to figure those issues out.  Maybe I need a new series called 'finding my religion,' even if I don't have a conclusion to it, and may never.
Since WV was closer than driving across Maryland home, I simply went there for the night to visit a couple of friends.  My friend's have a farm and I love it! I really had fun playing with the goats, the little one who tried to eat my camera every time I tried to take a picture of her, and ran around following us where ever we went, doing their best to eat EVERYTHING.  I also got to pet some ducks and chickens.  The ducks are so so soft, and hilarious to watch waddling around, snuffling their beaks in the puddles of water left over from a few days of rain.  I was also able to see the house that they are building on their land, and discuss all those things that we take for granted--like toilets attached to sewers, water supplies, and electricity.  When are you building a house for yourself, these things aren't a given, rather they are expensive and a pain to get.  I learned more about different types of toilets than I ever thought I would.
I also got to shoot my first gun.  I guess it isn't technically my first since I did shoot bb guns as a child, and a 22 with a teeny bullet sounds about the same.  My friends had to buy a gun, basically to kill all of the raccoon's that were destroying their animals.  They lost a lot of their birds, and all their turkey's but one that bravely fought off an attacking coon, before they started trapping and killing the raccoon's.  They have caught 8--no wonder their birds were getting eaten.
Something you have to get used to when you have a farm, or you hang out on farms is the inevitability of death.  We as a society seem to have desensitized ourselves to gun violence in cities, but the idea of killing raccoon's, or killing a chicken for dinner, makes people cringe.  As much as I'd rather not be the one to do the actual killing, it is how nature works. In the same vein, I would rather pick my eggs up off the ground, and cut my lettuce from my own garden than go to the store.  I couldn't think of something more fun to do with kids than let them chase after chickens, and ducks and get dirty.  I was fortunate as a kid to never be too far from some dirt, and animals and I hope to give my kids a similar experience.
Mr. Duck kindly let me pet him.  He is supppppppper soft

I saw this flower at Michelle's house and had to take a picture

Andy hold the little goat.  She is still small enough to be a lap goat

The bigger goat (sister) climbing the wood pile.  
Here are some pictures because goats make me giggle...