Monday, March 31, 2014

In the battle against fatigue: Diet

I’ve written lately about my battle with fatigue: a sometimes overwhelming tiredness that I feel that lends itself to lack of motivation and procrastination.

Besides tiredness, I have also been experiencing the following on a regular basis:
*bouts of diarrhea
*terrible heartburn, especially when I eat bread, chicken, or potatoes
*skin irritations

As I said in Friday’s post, my doctor and I discussed my problems with fatigue, and one of the things he suggested was to change the timing of my depression medication.

Another thing we discussed was my diet. I asked him how much validity he put in the idea that one’s diet could affect one’s mental health.
He said he had patients who had changed their diets—mostly giving up wheat and other sources of gluten—who had experienced positive results. In conjunction with medication and/or other treatments, he believed certain changes in diet might help.

I don’t believe in throwing out whole categories of food unless a person has real medical issues. For example, according to the website of the National Institutes of Health,  people who have celiac disease cannot consume gluten because they have an immunereaction to gluten, a protein in wheat, barley and rye.

I don’t have celiac disease. And I don’t have symptoms that are anywhere nearly as bad as those with celiac disease.
But I’ve wondered if I may be sensitive to gluten.
Perhaps it’s really a matter of too many simple carbohydrates. Maybe it’s a problem with wheat.
I already know that milk irritates my digestive system. Cheese and Greek yogurt don’t. I’m allergic to tree nuts.

I decided to try eliminating, as much as I can, gluten from my diet for a week or two to see how I react. It won’t hurt. If I feel better, then I can add back some foods gradually and get a clearer idea of whether or not food is affecting how I feel.

I had no gluten (that I know of) Sunday. For breakfast, I had a cup of Greek yogurt.
For lunch, we ate at our favorite Mexican restaurant. I had beef fajitas and ate just the meat and vegetables and a little of the beans. I didn’t eat the tortillas.
For dinner, I had the salad pictured above: Romaine lettuce, carrots, red kidney beans, apples, and pickled beets. After I took the photo, I added cheddar cheese and some tuna salad that Larry had made. I also added balsamic vinaigrette dressing after making sure it didn’t contain wheat.

No heartburn. No digestive issues. It’s too early to tell about the tiredness.

I am motivated to try this. Saturday was a bad day for me digestively. I knew what had caused at least of the problem: I had eaten some doughnuts.
As I lay down to rest, I decided that I’d had enough of feeling so bad. I needed to find out how to help myself.
Right now my plan is to stay away from gluten and to follow the new medication timing.

Have you ever found that a certain food, or group of foods, negatively affect how you feel?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Chase Bird, basketball and a haircut: Random 5 Friday

Happy Friday! I hope you’re doing well, dear readers, on this last Friday in March. Is it just me, or does this year seem to be flying by already?
One of the best things about Friday is being able to join Nancy at A Rural Journal for Random 5 Friday. I hope you will visit Nancy HERE and find other bloggers who are sharing their randoms.

Chase Bird relaxing on Larry's lap.

Chase Bird seems to be feeling better. It’s not that he had been sick. But he seemed subdued and was licking his fur a lot, enough to leave some bare spots.
He wouldn’t eat the hypoallergenic food, so taking that route to see if he had a food allergy didn’t pan out.
We are sticking to a few tried and true foods that don’t upset his stomach.
Larry and I have both noticed that he seems to be licking less. Fur is growing back in.
And he is playing more. I love to see (and hear) him galloping around chasing a stuffed mouse or other toy. He likes us to throw the toy out ahead of him so he can chase it and catch it.
I hope he has settled into his new life enough to feel less stressed. He is such a sweet boy.

Chase Bird snoozing.

Can you stand me writing about basketball a little more? Virginia plays Michigan State tonight in the NCAA college basketball Sweet 16. Michigan State will be a formidable foe, but I am hoping Virginia will win. Go ‘Hoos!

I got a haircut on Thursday. Larry had an appointment, and we see the same stylist. We were going to Lynchburg together—I had a doctor’s appointment—and I suddenly got an urge to do something with the shaggy mop I had been sporting. So I called up Jenny, who said she could fit me in.
She just trimmed it and cut some layers around my face. I want to keep it long enough to put up and braid.
She made it look so much better. I wish she could show up at my house every morning and style my hair for me.
I took a couple of selfies to try to show you the newer look, but they didn’t turn out well enough to share. I’ll blame it on the cell phone.

A random photo of Larry walking along the Staunton River in early February.

My doctor’s appointment was at 12:15. The doctor called me back at 1:15.
When I arrived, I was told he was running behind about 40 minutes. Could I wait? Yes, I told them. I came too far not to wait.
It takes me 45 minutes to drive to his office. That’s not terrible, but it’s in an out-of-the-way part of Lynchburg and the traffic to get there can be heavy.
He was running more than 40 minutes behind, obviously, but my irritation was outweighed by the fact that he’s a terrific doctor.
But I set my next appointment in the morning. I’ll be his second appointment of the day. He can’t be too far behind by then.

My doctor and I discussed several options to try to combat my tiredness. One of them is to take my depression medicine in the evenings instead of the mornings.
Seems simple enough, and I’m anxious to see if I notice a difference.
I usually take my medicine right after I get up in the morning. But an hour or two after I get up, I have been experiencing such fatigue that I feel like I could go right back to bed. I’ve wondered if it was the medicine, since I take a higher than usual dose.
I also don’t sleep well at night. I wake up every one or two hours.
So I hope to see good results from this small change. I’ll be working on some other changes, too, that I hope to share about soon.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Good Fences

Happy Thursday! Today I am joining Theresa (TexWis Girl) at The Run*A*Round Ranch Report for Good Fences, a fence photo meme.
Theresa was inspired to name the meme after a line in Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall”: “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Visit Theresa’s blog out HERE to join in!

This is our rail fence on one side of our property. In this photo, the fence seems to be surrounded by deep winter. But it was taken just this week during a spring snow.

The fence doesn’t do a lot to keep anything out or in, but I’ve always liked the look of wooden rail fences.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A snowy day in spring

March 25, 2014, side yard outside our house

The weather forecasters were calling for an inch or less in Central/Southside Virginia areas on Tuesday. We got more.
So here’s a look at probably the last snow here (but who knows?) until next winter.

March 25, 2014, trees on our street

You can tell I like the look of snow on trees. My camera lens just pulls my eye in their direction.

March 25, 2014, front yard of our house

March 25, 2014, tree on Main Street, Altavista

You know how I love snow. But we’ve had a lot of warm days lately, and it is almost April. So while I enjoyed walking in the snow Tuesday, it’s OK with me if it’s the last of the season.

As we welcome spring, let’s look back one more time. What was the most fun thing you did this past winter?

Monday, March 24, 2014

My weekend and habits

Sunday was a rainy day, but I wanted to get some pictures of the daffodils anyway.
The daffodils that came with the house—we didn’t plant them—are at the edge of the yard where the woods begin. They bloom every year and are an early reminder that spring has arrived.
I haven’t taken pictures of anything lately. On Saturday night, as I planned the next day out loud, I mentioned getting some photos of the flowers. Larry reminded me that it was supposed to rain.
I’ll go out before the rain, I said.

Sunday morning I slept in, and it was raining before I finished my shower and got dressed. I decided I wasn’t going to change my plans.
I held the camera close to my body and shielded it the best I could. The rain wasn’t coming down hard. It didn’t feel like a gentle spring rain, though, because the air had a cold bite to it. Winter hasn’t fully let go.
I got my photos of the flowers, and then came inside. I left my camera sitting out of its case, letting any dampness evaporate.

One reason I didn’t want the rain to get in the way of my plans was because I’ve been letting too much get in the way of my plans lately. Procrastination and lack of motivation—are they the same? Whatever they are, they’ve been visiting me lately. Again.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I sometimes struggle with procrastination. It’s not fun. So I do what I can to fight it. I try to get one thing done. Then another. Then another. Step by step.

I also try to remember what I did experience. I didn’t do a lot of work this weekend. But the weekend held inspiration and love.

Larry and I attended the funeral of the former mayor of our town, our Rudy Burgess that I wrote about last week. It was a sad event, of course, and also a spiritually uplifting one. As I said last week, Rudy was a person who inspires me to be better.

Larry and I spent some fun time together watching basketball. Sunday’s Virginia game was the focus, but we got interested in a couple of other games over the weekend. It’s funny how you can know nothing about the two teams playing, and yet you pick out a favorite and cheer for them like you’re a real fan.

I finished reading a good book, Mad River, by John Sandford.

And I got my pictures of the daffodils.

What did you experience this weekend?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring is here, and it’s time for Random 5 Friday

Happy spring! Though we’re still looking for some wintry weather next week, it’s officially spring, and I’m looking forward to seeing new life and colors.
And Happy Friday! I’m joining Nancy of A Rural Journal for Random 5 Friday. To read other bloggers’ randoms, be sure to check out Nancy’s blog.

My media pass into the Siegel Center for the big event.

The Altavista High School boys basketball team won the Group 1A state championship!
I made the trip to Richmond last Saturday to cover the state final game between Altavista and Radford. My co-staff writer took photographs.
As I said in last week’s Random post, I’ve never covered a basketball game or written about basketball.
I had a great time at the game, and it was exciting for Altavista to win. If you’d like to read the game story I wrote, you can find it HERE.

The media room in the Siegel Center where interviews were held after the game.

Downtown Richmond outside the Siegel Center at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Downtown Richmond

Do you keep up with the NCAA college basketball tournament? I usually have a few teams that I pull for. This year, Virginia has done very well. They won the ACC regular season and the ACC tournament and are ranked number one in the East Division. So my first loyalty goes to Virginia. I also like Duke.
I didn’t fill out a bracket, though. I just don’t know enough about all the teams to make intelligent guesses about who is going to win.

Spring is here, and worst of winter is over. I should be full of energy, right? Only I’m not. I am sleeping way too much and have little energy or motivation to do things beyond what I am responsible for doing.
What gives? I don’t know. I’m going to talk with my doc next week during an appointment because I’m tired of this. Pun intended—I can still laugh.

The other day for lunch, I ate some turkey and rice soup at a local café. It was delicious. However, I fished out every carrot that was in it and placed it on my plate. I didn’t eat them.
I don’t like cooked carrots, and I decided I was old enough to admit that and to stop making myself eat them.
What good-for-you-food do you just not like?

And a strange random fact: Both Chase Bird and me need new brushes. Chase Bird needs a new soft brush, and I need a new vent brush to use when I dry my hair. It broke off in my hand recently. I can still use the brush part, but it’s a little hard to hold in my hand.
Chase Bird and I just can’t look our best without good grooming tools. J

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mr. Mayor

Some people live their lives in such a way as to make me want to live a better life.
Rudy Burgess was one of those people.
Rudy, who was 84, died on Monday. The Altavista community is less because of his death, but more because of the life he lived.

Rudy was a public servant. He started serving on the Altavista Town Council in 1972 and did so for 40 years. For 28 of those years, he was the town mayor. He didn't run for re-election in 2012.
Until his retirement in 1993, he also worked a full-time day job.
Rudy was not a politician. He loved Altavista, and he served the people of Altavista.

He was one of the first people I met when I moved to Altavista in 2003 after Larry and I got married. He and Larry knew each other—Rudy knew everyone—and I quickly learned that this was a man who always spoke when he saw you, always had something funny to say, and always wanted to hear your opinions about things.

After I started working for the Altavista Journal, I had more opportunities to see Rudy. Though I didn’t usually cover Altavista government, I’d see him at events and discovered more evidence of the love Rudy had for his community.

In 2010, I had the privilege of interviewing Rudy and his wife for an article about long-lasting marriages I did for a special bridal section. At that time, they had been married for 60 years. I loved hearing their stories about their married life and the ways they worked together as a team. They stayed busy with children, church, work and Town Council, but they never forgot each other.

I reread that story yesterday and looked through some photos the newspaper has collected of Rudy over the years. I remembered the joke he used to tell people, that every time his picture was used in the Journal, he was paid $500.

Service to others, dedication to one’s work, love for one’s family, faith—Rudy personified these values. And thinking about him and his life makes me want to do better.

God bless Rudy Burgess.

I don’t have any photos of Rudy that I can share on my blog, but here are some photos of the town he loved. They were taken mostly on a Sunday morning, so there’s not a lot of traffic.

Who makes you want to live a better life?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Green for St. Patrick’s Day

I don’t think I have Irish ancestors, but since today is St. Patrick’s Day, I am sending you an Irish blessing with a heart full of thankfulness for each of you.

“May there always be work for your hands to do,
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine warm on your windowpane,
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you,
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.”
― Irish Blessing

And here’s a picture of nature wearing green last spring. Just think—Spring 2014 starts in just a few days!

Are you wearing green today?

Friday, March 14, 2014

An upcoming adventure and other randoms

I’m once again joining Random 5 Friday with Nancy of A Rural Journal. Check out her website for more bloggers joining in with their own randoms.

I didn't have any basketball photos to share. So I'm sharing a photo of my messy work desk on a layout day. The proof sheets are on my desk. The InDesign program with a newspaper page is pulled up on my computer.

Last week, my editor called me into his office.
“What’s your word for this year?” he asked.
“Adventure,” I said.
“Well, I have an adventure for you,” he said, and laughed.
“Oh, you’re going to give me a horrible assignment, aren’t you?”
“Oh, no, no. It’s going to be fun,” he said.
He asked me to cover the state basketball finals.

Why is this assignment significant? I’m not a sportswriter. I’ve never covered a basketball game. I’ve never written about a basketball game.
But my editor has to be out of town this weekend, and both the Altavista boys and girls teams were playing in the state semifinals last Friday in Salem.
If either or both teams won, I would have to go to Richmond on March 15 to cover the game or games, along with the other staff writer, who would take photographs.
The girls lost, but the boys won last Friday.

So I’ll be on the road to Richmond tomorrow to the Siegel Center on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University.
I’ll sit in the press row with the other reporters and follow the game, then interview coaches and players afterwards.
I’ll write a short overview for the website, and then on Monday, I’ll write the full story for next week’s paper.
My co-worker, who will be doing the photography, is an old hand at covering such events, so he’ll be a big help.
I understand the game—I love the game! And I’m going to do my best to write a great story.

The Altavista Colonels will play the Radford Bobcats.
Altavista won the state title last year in the Group 1A division. Radford won the state title last year in the Group 2A division.
After last year’s games, schools were reclassified, and Radford got moved to the Group 1A based on size of school.
So in a twist, the game will feature two defending state champs.

I’m nervous, but I’m also looking forward to the experience. It will be an adventure—doing something I’ve never done, watching the game and trying to capture it in words, being a part of all the excitement.
I’ll have to maintain my professional distance while I’m covering the game. So let me give a shout out now: Go, Colonels!

What adventure do you have planned for this weekend!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Sometimes a little song helps

I keep this photograph of Chase Bird on my computer desktop at work. It's a favorite. 

A couple of weeks ago, we took Chase Bird to the vet’s office to get his rabies vaccination updated and a skin irritation checked.
We waited for a day that we could both go because Chase Bird does not like to go to the vet’s office.

He does not like to go to the vet’s office.

The last time we took him in for his rabies shot, he got away from the vet technician holding him. He ran around the exam room, and then he jumped on top of the counter, where he quickly destroyed the neat bins of empty plastic hypodermic tubes and other supplies. The countertop was a wreck by the time we caught him.
He’s been to the emergency hospital once since then, for stomach issues. He cried all the way there and all the way home.

Two weeks ago, he cried in the car on the way to the vet’s and continued into the office. We talked to him, trying to soothe him, but it didn’t do any good.

While we waited in the exam room, Chase huddled in the back of the carrier, wailing. Finally, I started to sing.

Chase Bird, Chase Bird,
You’re our little boy.
Papa loves you so,
Mama loves you too,
You’re our little boy . . . .

And on and on, making it up as I went.

Chase Bird’s eyes got bigger. He cried a bit, but more softly. His little shoulders, held up high, lowered. He moved up to the front of the carrier where Larry and I could reach his chin to scratch.

When I stopped singing, he started crying again. So I kept singing.

Until the vet and her assistant came in. Then he wasn’t interested in my singing.

Despite his noise and resistance, the vet examined him. We told her how Chase Bird has been licking his stomach and back legs so much that his fur has gotten thinner there.
His licking started soon after we gave him full range of the house last fall. We had to keep him and Sam separated, though they saw each other and interacted through a gate.
After Sam died, his whole routine changed. Our vet agrees that the loss of Sam and the new environment could be making him anxious.
We’re also looking at a possible allergy, making some adjustments in his diet.
He seems to be licking less. He continues to hang out with us and enjoys playing. He still spends at least part of the night sleeping on my feet.
We want to get a couple of diffusers to use for the pheromones that soothe some cats’ anxiety. We try to create a peaceful environment for him.
And I think he likes his Mama to sing to him.

Do you ever sing to your pets?

Monday, March 10, 2014

After the break

I took this photo of Chase Bird with my cell phone in February. I didn't take many photos during my break except those for the newspaper.

Hello, dear readers. I hope you are doing well. I’ve missed you during my two-week break!

I enjoyed the freedom from the routine of writing a post three times a week. I use that word “freedom” carefully. I love blogging and I love the interaction with readers, but I found that I needed a break from the routine, even though I love that routine.

I’ve done a lot of thinking and soul searching during my break. I’ve wondered about the future of my blog and my work.

I started my blog in November 2011 with the purpose of educating others about OCD and offering encouragement to those with OCD. At first, I mostly wrote quite specifically about OCD or the accompanying depression and anxiety that I experience.

Gradually, I started to write more about my daily life. I think the change happened logically and organically. By that I mean that it happened naturally.

I have wondered if I am of any help to those who have OCD, depression and anxiety. I have wondered if I am giving a false impression about what my blog is about. I’ve wondered if I should somehow re-label my blog, even change the title. I’ve wondered if I should keep blogging.

But I am still a woman with OCD. I still fight depression and anxiety. Though I’m in a good place, mental illness still affects me, my daily choices, my health, my outlook.

I love the connections of blogging. I love writing something that someone in another part of the world can respond to. I love learning about how others think on different topics. I love connecting with people I never would have if not for blogging.

I still believe in connection. I still believe that all of life is interconnected. I still want to help others feel less alone.

So I’m going to keep on blogging. I may decide to make some changes, and I still have a lot to consider. If any of you have any suggestions for me, I’d appreciate the input.

Meanwhile, here are a few other things I did during my blog break:
*Took Chase Bird to the vet to get his rabies shot. That’s a whole other story.
*Finally got my books sorted and put up on the bookcases we have now. Suggested to Larry that he needed to build some bookcases for the books that are still in boxes.
*Got our taxes done.
*Received an “adventurous” newspaper story assignment. Again, a whole other story.
*Got more snow, but I didn’t have time to play in it.
*Read three more John Sandford books and did various other reading.

Monday, March 3, 2014

A bit more time . . .

We are supposed to get more snow today.

I’ve been on a break since Feb. 21. Though I miss you, dear readers, I’ve gotten a lot from my time away from the blogosphere.
I’ve decided to take a bit more time away to gather my creative juices and take deep, deep breaths.
So my plans are to return to blogging next Monday, March 10. I will try to stop by and visit you. In the meantime, I haven’t forgotten you and look forward to connecting soon.