Saturday 29 May 2010

Fabulous 'Faux' Friday: Finding Your Muchness, Or At The Least Your Red Dress.

Short of doing a Superman and flying round the earth backwards, faster than a speeding bullet, I am going to have to accept the fact that it's Saturday here in Oz and Friday has past without any bedazzling.  Potentially, if I can get this sucker together in time, I may get it posted for it to still be Friday somewhere in the world.  But in the event that this may not occur I'm going with a Fabulous 'Faux' Friday post. 

Mind you, I do have a valid excuse in the form of two days of joyless dentistry.  Think classic torture scene from Marathon Man, and you get the idea.  I am still a tad tired but I will wrap my pink feather boa around my neck and battle through.

Today's post has been inspired by a recent post by Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess.  I love The Bloggess.  She is the good kind of crazy, with a side of sass, and a healthy dose of irreverence, that just appeals to my sense of humour.  She's the kind of woman who is proud to put her crazy out there, thus making the rest of us feel kinda normal (well it does for me, but then again the inside of my head resembles the rec room from One Flew Over the Cookoo's Nest).

If you haven't read The Bloggess, you may want to start with the Zombie Apocalypse incident on Twitter, although you could start with pretty much any post.  I love this one as it's a kind of international, multi-player, version of folie a deux, and that just tickles my, previous life as a psych, funny bone.  This is what Twitter was created for.  Not for tweets that let me know that you just had a shower or put a new roll of loo paper on the holder, cause I really don't care you attention seeking freaks.  And yes I know, I've gone to the dark side and now have a Twitter account.  I feel dirty.  But I promise I will not alert anyone to the boring as batshit, minutia of my daily life, well no more than I do on here anyway.

This week The Bloggess put up a a great post.  In it she writes:

"I want, just once, to wear a bright red, strapless ball gown with no apologies.  I want to be shocking, and vivid and wear a dress as intensely amazing as the person I so want to be.  And the more I thought about it the more I realized how often we deny ourselves that red dress and all the other capricious, ridiculous, overindulgent and silly things that we desperately want but never let ourselves have because they are simply “not sensible”."

So she did.  She decided she was worth it, and challenged her readers to accept that they too were worth it and to find their own personal red dress.

I love the whole concept.   It's something I have struggled with since I was a kid.  I was brought up to believe that you do for others and ignore your own needs.  That you need to be level headed, and practical at all times.  Swallow those pesky irrational feelings, never step on the cracks, wear sensible shoes, never ever wear blue and green without a colour in between, and always wear matching underwear just in case I happened to cross paths with the proverbial bus.  Judgement and scorn were the only things that came from unpuckering that sphincter (try being diferent in a conservativesmall country town).  I've been told so many times that I'm 'quirky', 'too independent', or that I like 'weird' stuff, that it all starts to stick.  I wonder if I cae across the Mad Hatter would he say to me as he did to Alice, "You used to be much more..."muchier." You've lost your muchness".

The last few years I've had to do a light speed re-imagining of my life thanks to "he who shall not be named" on a Fabulous Friday.  Part of that re-imagining has involved relocating and giving myself permission to embrace the parts of me I've shed over the years to be practical, to fit into the cookie cutter world of acceptability.  Well damn it, I want to find my muchness once more.

As any regular readers know I can't exactly swim with sharks (although I'd love to and if I can ever persuade my body to get with the program I will) thanks to the fact that my body has been put together by one of those dodgy tradesman they are so fond of exposing on A Current Affair.  So I've had to be creative with my red dress dreaming and actualising.   I periodically do things just cause I want to, naysayers be damned.  Sometimes it's the little things as much as the big that mean so much. 

One of the things I do everyday is wear Chanel No 5.  I know that doesn't sound like much of a red dress moment, but when you are pretty much stuck in your house 24/7 you need to do something.  So regardless of if I'm stuck in bed, or getting milk at the supermarket, I wear my Chanel.  I may not have brushed my hair in a week, my underarms may look like a wookie's rear end, and my teeth may feel like they are clothed in felt, but I still squirt on my Chanel.  If I wait for a special occasion to wear it I will be waiting for ever, (or at least until the actual zombie apocalypse arrives, and I do intend to smell pretty whilst I take out the un-dead beating down my door).  So each day I pamper myself with expensive perfume, just cause I can.

(Yep, that's my feather boa in the background)

Even we sickies can pamper ourselves.  I drink my 4 litres of water from a cranberry coloured cut glass carafe and matching glass.  I keep my chocolate stash in a beautiful green depression glass butter dish.  I brought sparkly zebra ballet slippers with red bows, and I have a pair of black silk pjs I had made in Singapore, which cost way to much but which make me feel pampered each time I put them on.

(So pretty)

We all need to find our own red dress.  Sometimes it's running barefoot in a graveyard in a beautiful red ball gown, sometimes it's about making even the most practical thing something special just cause you can.  We are all worth it we just need to believe. 

I'm going to embrace me.  I'm worth the effort.  I'm going to find my red dress and my muchness.  Will you?

The feather boa wearing Michelle :)

Feeling Good, Nina Simone (1965), my favourite play it loud 'kick some arse' song.

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Small Fibre Neuropathy: SNAFU

I think I missed the class where you get taught how to write a health blog.  Like everything else in my life I'm doing yet another half-arsed job.  If there was a job ad for my blog it would read something like this:

Want to write a crappy health blog?  Did you miss the boat on grammatical skills?  Do you think a 'semi- colon' is someone with half an arse?  Or, that commas and exclamation points can never be overused?  Do you mix up your 'there', 'their' and 'they're"?  Do you think spell check is only used buy dull people?  Do you like to tell inappropriate, and frequently unfunny jokes?  Do you laugh at farts and butt crack?  Are you lazy, and can't always be bothered to blog on a regular basis?  Do you have an encyclopaedic knowledge of obscure music, TV shows and useless facts?  Do you think there is no such thing as 'too much information'?  Do you forget that you are writing a health blog and instead insist on discussing the deep intellectual sub-plot of America's Next Top model, at length?  Are you mildly insane with a good dash of crazy? Then you may be just the person we are looking for.

Of late, if someone happened to come across my blog they'd wonder what the hell was going on, or perhaps, if I have multiple personalities, each of which now write for my blog.  I look at other health blogs which are full of information, inspiration and epiphanies and think I must have missed the memo.  Well that or I have some rather twisted issues that can only be resolved with years of therapy.

(Maybe this is why I love The United States of Tara?  Photo from here).

So I thought it was about time I actually spoke about something health related as this is technically supposed to be a health blog (though I sometimes think "dross from my head" blog, would be more appropriate).

I've mentioned briefly that last year I added Small Fibre Neuropathy (SFN), or as I like to call it SNAFU, to my ever increasing list of joy.  Like Bob no one has really heard of SNAFU.  Just once I'd like to get something relatively normal, a beige disorder.  I have way to many exotic rainbow-coloured disorders, I need some beige to balance it all out.  SNAFU is just the latest (and I'm sure not the last) chartreuse coloured jumpsuit I've added to my wardrobe.

SNAFU has many names, including periperal neuropathy and autonomic neuropathy.  It most commonly occurs in the elderly (insert I am an old fart joke here).  Sometimes it's due to an underlying disorder eg diabetes or HIV, and sometimes, as in my case, it's due to some unknown factor.   Shocking I know, international woman of mystery that I am.  Personally, I think mine has developed due to the consumption of the worlds most evil and unpalatable vegetable, broccoli.  So from now on I'll be broccoli free, for medical reasons of course.  I don't care if that makes me sound nuts, it's as good a reason as any at this point, and it means no more hideous broccoli in my life.  It's what my mother would call "a method in my madness".

SNAFU occurs when the small somatic and autonomic nerve fibers (small myelinated A-delta and unmyelinated C fibers, for the technically minded)
are damaged or die.  This can result in many symptoms including pain, burning, tingling, numbness, reduced ability to feel temperature, dry eyes and decreased sweating.  Symptoms tend to have a very distinct pattern, called glove and stocking, that gradually covers your hands and feet and then up your legs and arms.  Now I'll always pick numbness over pain, but it to can be a bit problematic as my run in with the rose bush demonstrates.

For me I first really noticed it in my feet (although my hands are also affected), in particular the outside 3 toes on my right foot (my whole foot hadn't felt 'right' for ages).  They stared to burn.  And I don't mean putting cold hands under warm water kind of burn.  I mean it felt like someone had taken my toes and dipped them in a lava bath and then rubbed in some ground glass for fun.  Any touch hurt, even my softest socks felt like branding irons on my toes.  It has since spread to both feet and more toes.  Woo Hoo.  Now I at least have an excuse for my bad dancing.  Luckily it is not consistent excruciating pain, which some people do experience, or maybe my threshold has inceased so it's just taking more pain to make me take any notice.  I also have patches of burning pain on other parts of my body at times (eg my back), super tender for a few days and then goes away. Fun, fun, fun.

Night time is the worst, or maybe it's just that everything always seems worse when you are lying in the dark unable to sleep.  The souls of my feet and toes burn and there is little that can relieve the pain.

Weirdly I have patches of numbness too.  Whilst the tips of my toes burn, at times the toes themselves are numb.  Bizarre I know.  My husband thinks it's hilarious.  The other day he thought it'd be funny to put business cards between my toes and me not notice until I went to move my feet.  Yes, yes, very funny.  You should have your own sitcom dear.  He's a laugh a minute some days.  At least I provide comic relief for my family.

I often feel like I am walking on stones on the floor, but nothing is there.  Other times it feels a bit like someone has covered my feet in sticky tape when I walk, it's a weird muted sensation on the bottom of my feet.  

The weirdest symptom for me and the one I had no idea about until I went to the neurologist was that I can't really feel hot and cold anymore.  Especially in my lower legs and feet.  This explains my ability to wear thongs (the shoes, not the butt flossing underwear) in the middle of winter and even in the snow.  She ran an ice cold metal thingy up my leg and it wasn't until she got an inch below my knee that I could feel it (now it's up to my knee).  I will admit that made me sit up and go "oh crap".  Usually I'm well aware of the the signs of shoddiness in my body before I see a doc, I don't like being surprised, especially about things like dead nerves. 

She could also map the neuropathy by the patterning on my legs (the skin over the affected area may appear atrophic, dry, shiny, discolored, or mildly edematous as the result of sudomotor and vasomotor abnormalities*).  All this time I'd been spending cash on fancy creams to get rid of the marks on my leg and now I find out that it's where the nerves had died, YAY.   I feel like I should go up to the Myer's cosmetics lady and say sorry for all the times I've cursed her name for selling me a dud, and very expensive product.

As I've mentioned before, I don't sweat much either, and I can't recall the last time I had sweaty hands and feet.  Good news for my shoes and for any hand shaking.  I wonder if I could pass a lie detector now?  No sweaty finger tips to give me away.  Cool.  My hands and feet always feel ice cold and like dried old parchment (sexy).  Of course, this does result in my husband yelling at me not to touch him, in his sleep.  I'm ignoring the fact that this actually represents dead nerves and I'm going with the old "cold hands warm heart" theory. 

I've had patients, in my pre-Bob working life, with SNAFU.  I remember an old lady in particular who kept telling me that the reason she was unable to open her front door was becasue her hands were 'smooth'.  Now I know what she means, although technically she did have dementia and couldn't work out how to use the door knob.  She also called me 'Bessy' and would flash me periodically (lets just say gravity affects ALL parts of the body, ick), so perhaps she's not the best example.  My hands always feel 'smooth' and it is hard to open things.  It's an odd sensation. 

Treatment is drugs.  Unfortunately for me most of the avaible drugs also mess with blood pressure which mean I can't take them or they aren't on PBS meaning they are out of my price range.  Last thing I need is something that will drop my bp or mess with my other health issues.   So after yet another $300, my neuro told me the best treatment for me was "sock therapy'.  Ie, wear socks to protect my toes from damage.  I wonder if some science nerd somewhere got a grant to put tiny little socks on the feet of rats and then let them play in the snow, to work that one out.  I can use ice water for the burning and some topical pain relief but that's about it.  I have also learnt things along the way like, don't use a nail brush on super sensitive toes, don't nudge the cat out of the way with you bare toes, and don't let your stupidly large dogs step on your toes when they run up to say hi.

Now trying to do the good health blogger thing I'll include a couple of medical articles in a half-hearted attempt at being informative.

*This is a good, easy to read summary.

Clear review of diagnostic criteria.

In my new pledge to find silver-linings, I think I have found my new super cool tattoo.  What do you think?

(photo from here).

Okay, one of my personalities requies chocolate so I must go.

The SNAFUed Michelle :)

Where is my mind?, The Pixies (1988) (Fight Club Soundtrack)

Friday 21 May 2010

Fabulous Fridays: All Hail the Mighty Geek.

Well it's that time of the week again when I break out my rose coloured glasses, staple that slightly deranged and ecstatic smile on my face, and leave the realms of reality to live in a land of puppies, lollipops, fairy dust and moonbeams.

I must admit its a tad more difficult today as I am currently battling a very virulent form of pestilence brought home by the Ebola ridden, youngest monkey boy. And when you are already scrapping the bottom of the health barrel it's not pretty site.

I apologise to all the trees that have been felled so I can have something to catch the litres of fluids making an break for it via my tender nostrils.  Normally I am  recycled paper girl, but not today.  My Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer impersonation requires silk touch, aloe vera soaked, triple ply, bleached and pulverised old growth rainforest tissues.  Tomorrow I'll get back on my Green soap box, but not today.  Besides I figure it's all balanced out by my use of happy eggs, dolphin friendly cleaning products, recycled loo paper and the water saving philosophy of "if it's brown flush it down.  If it's yellow let it mellow".

Old Eunice is valiantly battling through the truckloads of mucus that have chosen to reside in my noggin, to try and get me through this, so be prepared to be wowed by my mediocre efforts.  Tip for the day: if you close one eye and screw up your face, it takes the edge off the jack hammer pounding away in your head when you are looking at a computer screen.  Alternately it could be the litre of cough mixture and Nurofen I had for breakfast, who knows.  So just bear with me whilst I chant my perky mantra to try and brainwash myself into pathological optimism:

Going to my happy place
Going to my happy place 
Going to my happy place

Okay.  My glass is once more half-full, maybe half-full of mucus of varying densities, but half-full none the less.

All right now before I OD on Lemsip and Vicks Vapour Rub fumes, I thought today I'd write a post to celebrate the nerds and geeks of this world.  I have been inspired by a recent news story here in Australia and I think that it behoves me as a proud Aussie to share it with the world.

Now prior to the story I should acknowledge the controversy surrounding the terms 'nerd' and 'geek'.  I often use these interchangeably but apparently this is a huge faux pas.  So to save you this embarrassment I give you this link to explain these different groups (to lazy to do it myself today).  And what would a discussion of geeks and nerds be without a Venn diagram to help explain this contentious issue.

Oh Venn diagram, how I love thy overlapping circles of knowledge.

On May 1st 2010, in the fair city of churches, Adelaide, Sth Australia, a robbery was thwarted by Spiderman, two Jedi and The Flash.  Well geeks in a comic book store, on International Free Comic Day, dressed as Spiderman, Jedi knights and The Flash, foiled the robbery.  And what was the evil doer stealing you may ask, why a comic book of course.  An X-Men Omnibus no less.  Yep the evil geek was captured by the good geeks.  Go geeks.  Now the evil comic napper nearly got away with it as bystanders at first thought it was a case of LARPing when the spidie suit-clad owner apprehended the theif, but luckily the Jedi with their super mind powers knew better and called '000'.  Love it!  You can read the full story here.

(I love the fact that in the 2001 census over 70,000 Australians classed their religion as Jedi).

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not paying out geeks.  I love me some geeks, especially being a geek myself (I am wearing a Wonder Woman t-shirt as I type).  I even married a computer geek (a very hot computer geek, but a computer geek none the less).  I am proud to say he doesn't own a pocket protector or Spock ears.  And thankfully he didn't propose to me in Klingon, but he is the kind of guy who thinks Jean Luc Picard is cool and whose list of ideal women over the years have included, Dana Scully, Samantha Carter and Seven of Nine.

In fact I do call him Comic Book Guy (from The Simpsons) and have brought him a little figurine of his alter ego.  His secret identity was confirmed when Comic Book Guy utter the classic words, "And I would like an hour on the holodeck with Seven of Nine", a Mr Grumpy fantasy of long standing.
("Lucite hardening... must end life in classic 
Lorne Greene pose from Battlestar Galactica
... Best... Death... Ever."
Comic Book Guy as, "The Collector".  Photo from here)

For those unfamiliar with Comic Book Guy, a tribute can be found at Alt.Nerd.Obsessive.

I'll even admit that I didn't mind the new Battlestar Galactica (and I am very anti-remaking of the classics), though in my own geekdom I will say that Dirk Benedict will always be Starbuck to me (see I have been a geek for years). But I do think the use of "Frack" as a swear word was pure geeky genius.

(Lt. Starbuck (Dirk Benedict).  
Photo courtesy of The Geek Bookworm).

Now just as long as they don't try and re-do Buck Rogers In the 25th Centrury.  A modern day version of Twiki would be just wrong, or as he would say "Beedeebeedeebeedee...".  Oh wow, I think I just out geeked myself.

On that note I shall say good on you middle-aged men of Adelaide who are brave enough to wear your underwear on the outside and carry your lightsabres in public, whilst defending the world against evil.  "Live long and prosper", my dweeby brother and sisters, and "may the Force be with you".

The geeky and very phlegmy Michelle :)
Star Trekkin', The Firm,  (1987). Luv it and I still know all the words. Made it to No.3 on the charts in Australia.  So proud.

Tuesday 18 May 2010

I Would Like To Thank The Academy......

Awards, who doesn't love them.  We all secretly covert them.  Yes even you, the "I have no need for awards as it's all about the art", dude/dudettes.  They're shiny and sparkly and they give you a big fat ego boost that sends you Tip Toeing Through The Tulips all day long.  

The marvellous Miranda over at Dysautonomia: My Journey, My Battle, My Victory, My Life, sent me a little Sugar Doll award today.  Thanks Miranda. Then the lovely Lauren over at Where Did I Get This Lemon also sent it my way so I thought I should finally pull my finger out and respond.

Only problem is now as part of the acceptance procedure, I have to think of 10 things that you don't know about me and pick some other bloggers to share the joy.  Work, work, work and I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to work.  But just for you I will down a couple of Zyrtecs and put my nose to the metaphorical grindstone.

Now the main problem I face is, do I really have 10 interesting unknowns about me up my sleeve?  Probably not.  Short of swapping my life for that of Lara Croft, I may just bore you stupid.  Plus, I'm pretty open about my life, warts and all (hell, you've even heard about my bowel habits) so I may be scraping the barrel to find anything blog worthy. 

Prior to reading I recommend the ingestion of at least 4 espressos and maybe a box of Nodoze.

1. I used to Belly Dance.  Yep that's right, belly dance.  I have the coin covered scarf and everything.   I think my love of belly dancing began at my 30th birthday party.  Think small Turkish restaurant, numerous vodka and lemon squashes, scarves, a birthday dare and a woman in a sparkly belly dancing costume paid to encourage inebriated patrons to shake their unco-booties.  This progressed to belly dancing in the hospital gym.  Nothing like a bunch of over 30 Jazz ballet rejects attempting to move their hips provocatively, whilst moving left to right and waving a scarf. 

(This is where I dragged David, purchased my gorgeous jingly scarf, Arab Quarter in Singapore)

2.  I have my belly button pierced.  It was my Mothers Day present after my youngest was born.  My piercer was a lovely tattooed lady, not dissimilar in appearance to the tramp (not that I'm judging, I'm sure her parents are so proud of how she turned out) involved in the Sandra Bullock fiasco.  Must say the heavily tattooed bikers who ran the tattoo parlour, were very lovely to both myself, Mr Grumpy and the youngest rug rat on the day.  Who says big burly guys from notorious biker gangs are bad sorts? 

3.  I've eaten rat.  Actually if you have travelled in a 4th or 3rd world Asian country you too have eaten rat, you just didn't know it.  Apparently if you stick to country rat it's okay, but avoid city rat like the plague, because, well, they could be carrying the plague. 

4.  I love Judge Judy.  I don't care if that's makes me a dweeb.  If I'm honest I was already well on my way to dweebdom long before I watched my first episode.  I love how she doesn't mince her words and simple tells people they are idiots or should not be allowed to breed.  None of this touchy feely crap.  I particularly love the half-wit, inbred, banjo players who come on time and again to claim reparations for some illegal scheme. It's kinda like the guy who recently called the cops for a home invasion, forgetting that he was a drug dealer and had thousands of dollars in merchandise at him home.  I'm sorry, but stupidity is funny.

5.  I went through a Belinda Carlisle phase in my teenage years.  I dyed my hair red, had the perm, wore my jean jacket half off my shoulders and would spend hours in front of the mirror singing, "Leave A Light On For Me".  I still know all her songs off by heart and have been known to belt out her songs when they come on the radio in the car, much to the embarrassment of my children and their friends.

6.  I will also admit a love of New Kids On The Block and dreaming of marrying Donny Walberg (well, until I saw "Markie Mark" Walberg and his underwear ads mmmm).  I would get up super early on a Saturday morning to watch the music countdown, and may have taped and then watched the filmclips over and over until I had perfected the dance moves, "Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh, Oh Oh Oh Oh. Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh, Oh Oh Oh Oh. The Right Stuff". Lyrical genius.

7.  I hate beer.  I know that is probably the most un-Australian thing I could possibly say, but it's true.  I have tried many varieties over the years but all of them taste like cat pee, with differing levels of yuck.  The smell of beer breath is enough to make me gag.  I know it will surprise many, as I've been known to enjoy a glass or two of something fermented over the the years.  I have even drunk snake wine (stuff a whole snake and herbs in a big glass jar, pour over rice wine and let steep) in Vietnam, but I still can't stomach beer.

8.  I have been tear gassed.  I wish I had some great story of civil disobedience to tell, but alas no.  It was back in my navy days.  As part of our training we were forced to run 5km through a mangrove swamp in full gas gear, go into a tent, tear gas cannisters were let off and we were told to take off our gas masks and answer questions.  And let me tell you, it BURNS.  It burns where ever you sweat, and you sweat EVERYWHERE in full gas gear.  Sadistic bastards.  I am full of admiration for those who can protest, throw rocks and Molotov cocktails in a cloud of tear gas, me I'd be running in the other direction and praying for the fire hose to ease the burning.

9.  I know how to put out an oil fire on a frigate.  You never know when that'll come in handy.  You could be walking along the street minding your own business and all of a sudden come across a frigate that's on fire.  And you stand there thinking "gee I wish I knew how to put that fire out", well I'm your girl.  I can do the whole oxygen tank, mask, huge fire hose dealio.  I will admit the first time when the foam hit the fire, and the fire went straight up the wall, rolled across the roof to come out the door just above my head it was a little disconcerting but I got it out.  I may have ended up with frizzy eyebrows and potentially a sun tan despite being inside, and well the little metal clasps that hold your fire gear together do get a might hot (so they were'nt being sexist pigs when they told us to take off our bras if they had underwires) but I did it.  Crawling through a black, smoke-filled tuna can of death with zero visability may have contributed to my claustrophobia but you never know.

10.  I have played Cowpat Brandy.  For those of you unfamiliar with this game, it is a countrified twist on the traditional game of brandy except we swapped the wet tennis ball for a crusty on the outside, gooey in the centre cow pat.  I'm not sure which hurts more, but I do know a cowpat does wonders for the skin.  There's nothing like a lady-like game of pounding your friends with a cowpat to pass the day on a farm.  Followed of course by a swim in the channel with the redfin and brown snakes. Who needs an expensive beauty spa?  My skin was fully exfoliated and super soft.

So there you go, 10 previously unknown things about me.  Maybe they'll explain a little of why I am the way I am today.  Maybe you'll think I am a complete and utter freak (it's okay, I am comfortable with my freakness) and run away screaming.  Maybe I have bored you stupid and you are now drooling on the couch with your lap top perched precariously on your lap and your mug of espresso dripping on the floor from your lax hand, in which case you wont read this and I don't know why I'm typing.  Stop typing you stupid woman.  Stop Typing.

Now it's time to pass the baton.  I've decided I'll pass it on to 3 champion recipients.  In the past I've given a nod to my many non-health faves, so this time I
thought I'd health it up, with my favourite Bob blog, favourite non-Bob health blog and to really mess with the system my favourite health vlog.  Now this is not to say I don't love many blogs but I could end up with a list a mile long and that would require more typing and basically I'm lazy.

1. Favourite Bob blog:

This award goes to Michele over at Dysautonomia Normal.  Michele is a bloggy friend from way back.  She is far more articulate than I could ever hope to be and is a truly lovely person to boot.

2. Favourite Non-Bob health blog:

This award goes to Lucy over at Costochondritis.  Lucy brings awareness to a very unknown disease, with humour and sensitivity.  She is funny and lovely and one of those people you'd love to have a coffee with.

3. Favourite Vlog:

This award goes to my bestie, Kerri over at Kezzcass.  Kerri is a tireless advocate for MS and I am proud to call her my friend.  Her vlogs are funny and touching and above all else honest.  She's the only person I know who can make urinary problems hilarious on film (watch "A day in the life of Kezzcass").  Kerri is one of my physio girls, and is one of the unexpected perks of having Bob in my life.

Michelle :)

PS, I may be slow on the blogging for a while as my beloved laptop has gone to the big computer store in the sky.  Until I can get him replaced I am stuck using my sons computer in his toxic funk-filled room.  As this involves me holding my breath and dashing into his room to do some short and rapid typing followed by a rapid dash back out of the room, my efforts may be infrequent.  I have been informed that a flame thrower is really the only way to disperse teenage boy funk so I shall be onto the yellow pages to contact "Flame Throwers R' Us".  Wish me luck.  In honour of this time of olfactory trial, I give you The Rockerfellar Skank (Funk Soul Brother), Fat Boy Slim

Friday 14 May 2010

Fabulous Friday: Happy Birthday Cougar.

Yes it's that time again.  The one day of the week I am determined to be queen of optomism, perkiness and the glass half full.  This week has been all about me. Me, me, me, me, me, me.  It's my birthday (well on Tuesday it was, but "it's my birthday on Tuesday just gone", sounded crap) and I am embracing my aging and character-filled body.

The big 37, or 73, not sure which.  Depends on the day really.  Having seen Betty White on Saturday Night Live, I have realised that even old chicks can be hip and happening, so I am equally comfortable with 73.  Well for today anyway, don't ask me tomorrow as I may be less relaxed about the whole aging thing and be forced to throttle you.  I have moved from my mid-thirties to the land of possibilities that is my late-thirties.   Yep, Alyssa Milano, Cameron Diaz and me, 37 is hot! (Shut up!  It's my birthday and I can be as bedazzelingly delusional I want to be).

I realised the universe was sending me a hint when MaryMac over at Pajamas & Coffee put up a post about Cougar Crushes on my big day.  Yep, that's right, I can now be classed as a Cougar.  I believe I get some sort of official card in the mail, plus a Team Cougar jacket, and learn the secret butt-grabbing handshake.  I'm pretty sure it's like the Stonecutters, but with better shoes, more cocktails and discount botox vouchers.

(All hail the Queen, Anne Bancroft, The Graduate, 1967)

Now I should clarify that I have no intention of becoming Mrs Robinson per se (especially on the off chance my mother should read this and be totally horrified), for me hitting this milestone means that I am now officially obligated to perve on guys who were born when I was already in school and even some who are of an age (over 18, all legal) that I could have technically given birth to them (now that makes me feel just a teensy bit old).  Not only do I get chocolate birthday cake and pressies, but I must drool over hot younger men.  I shall force myself if I must, I can't let the cougar sisterhood down.  Besides it's my birthdy and I'll perve if I want to.

So for all my lovely readers I think it's only fair that I put up a picture of my cougar crush.  We all need a little eye candy in our life.  Sweet dreams dear readers, sweet dreams.  See even on my birthday I'm thinking of you.

(Mmmm....Jensen Ackles.......mmmmmm.......sorry what was I saying?  
I think I lost my train of......mmmmmm).

Oprah tells me I now know myself much better now than in my 20s.  Apparently I have reached the guru swami level of spiritual equalibrium.  I know what I want and how to get it.  Things are all peachy from now on.  Acording to a recent episode I should soon be jumping out of planes and doing roller derby.  Lucky I still have my old roller skates, and I think I remember my Xanadu routine.  Just give me a week or 6 to limber up.  And lets face it, if Oprah says it, it must be true.  I still believe she and her guests are on a steady diet of Prozac and tequila shots but hey whatever gets you through the day.  I'm willing to get with the program.

According to medical science I am also now at my sexual peak.  Apparently I have it goin' on.  Okay, even I can't say that with a straight face.  Mr Grumpy, stop laughing, wipe your eyes and pick yourself up off the floor.  So my favourite part of Sex and The City was Carrie's closet full of Jimmy Choos, but hey I'm sure I picked up a trick or two sub-consciously.  Is it possible that having it 'goin on', refers to flannelette pajamas, a carfully crafted muffin top, sparkly slippers and flossing out the spinach from between my teeth before bed?  If so, I am officially a sex-bomb. Watch out honey, bom chiki wah wah, call me when you finally make it up the chandelier.

(Mr Grumpy brought me the best gluten free chocolate cake ever.  
It has also been great for breakfast and lunch for the last few days).

So coo, coo, ca-choo, Mrs Robinson, and a happy birthday to me.


The Trainee Cougar Michelle :)

Simon & Garfunkel, Mrs Robinson 1968

Monday 10 May 2010

Being Sick Is A Pain In The....Well Everywhere

I don't think of myself as someone that lives with chronic pain.  When I list out my stupidly long list of health debacles, pain really doesn't get a mention.  I read about the pain some of my bloggy friends experience and I am in awe of what they contend with on a daily basis. 

It's really not until I'm talking to someone else about the myriad joys of being chronically ill and they mention certain types of pain, that I realise that hey I have pain, I have pain daily.  How did I miss this?  I take the pills, I grab the heat packs or the ice packs and yet somehow I missed the connection of why.  I have even had physio for pain, even when I was in hospital for Bob I also ended up in the pain group.  I know I'm dull but I didn't realise I was that dull.  Somehow I've managed to put that little gem away for safe keeping, and like my gold locket and my ipod head phones, I've forgotten where that place is, or that I had even had them.

If I think back, pain and I have been hanging out for a while.  When I was 12, I was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis.  Now there was a fun period in my life.  Swollen joints that were so painful even the gentlest touch felt like someone was beating me with a sledge hammer. Of course having my hands bandaged each day for support and protection made me so attractive to the opposite sex.  I was of course beating them off with a stick clasped gingerly in my white cotton clad hands.  Hell who wouldn't want to date the girl that smelt like Bengay and dressed like an extra from The Mummy (1932, none of this modern crap).

(What guy wouldn't want to date me, The Gore Master).

Of course being a teenager I loved being identifiably different.  Not only did I never grow boobs or have enough money for the right clothes, but I looked and smelt like a menthol freak.  I couldn't play sport, which if you come from a small country town is similar to coming out of the closet, or admitting that you enjoy opera.  I couldn't even pick up a pen to write, and this being the dark ages there were no lap tops or voice recorders.  Well at least none that didn't require a fork lift and a bunch of burly butt-crack revealing men to manoeuvre. 

My joy was further compounded by the fact that my pesky hips didn't want to stay in their sockets.  Get out of bed, hip pops out.  Stand at the sink doing dishes, hip pops out.  Walk down a step, hip pops out.  Breath, hip pops out.  Now days I'd probably get a EDS diagnosis, but back then it was a case of take pain meds and hope for the best.  Ahhh halcyon days.  Basically I spent my teenage years living with dodgy joints and keeping the Bengay, Tiger Balm, Dencor Rub and DeepHeat companies is business.  Add in the early anti-inflammatories that stripped your stomach, pain killers and the weird green plant, that tasted like a combination of cut grass and rancid dog turds that my mum forced me to eat, and my teenage years were a blast.

At about 16 Flo finally arrived much to my disappointment.  I remember being horrified at her arrival whilst I was at school.  Even worse was the fact that the only person available to pick me up was my brother.  So I got my period talk from my brother.  Mortified doesn't being to describe the feeling of your brother describing a period and handing you a pad the size of the titanic and a tampon, and describing how to use them.  Mind you after the embarrassment he sat me on the couch with a can of coke, fish and chips and we watched Christine (1983) and The Warriors (1979) on his cool new video player complete with state of the art remote control connected to the player by a cord.  Nothing like watching a killer demon car and NYC gang violence to forget the trauma of your first period.

Within months I was in regular excruciating abdominal pain.  After many years of being told it was just period pain and to suck it up, turns out I had endometriosis.  Back then there was little to no information available, and few in the way of treatment options.  I spent years curled up in a little ball bawling my eyes out thanks to pain.   Combine that with the lovely surgeries to fix it, which never worked, and the hormones that made me even more of the bitch from hell, well it was one big pain filled teens and 20's.  For anyone starting on that path let me just say demand good pain relief after a laparoscopy.  Funnily enough lasering your insides hurts.

Luckily I found a doc who was willing to whip out my lady bits when I was 25 so that pain is over for the most part.  I also learnt the joy of the morphine pump during those days.  Oh little pump how I loved you.  I still remember the doctor being worried that I would no longer feel like a woman once I was wombless, because being is constant pain made me feel like such a womanly sex bomb beforehand.  Amazingly I have managed to not feel like a man trapped in a womans body, despite the surgery.  Phew!  Medical douches!  When I think back on that time it always makes me think of the scene from The Life of Brian, with Stan/Loretta, "But he doesn't have a womb".

Obviously my body was so unhappy about breaking up with it's best friend pain that it thought it'd chuck in degenerative discs to liven things up.  The pain is pretty much permanent now.  It hurts like hell when another of those pesky discs decides to pop out, but other than that it's just white noise pain.  I do love sciatic pain though (all just adds to my 80-year-old persona), pain shooting down your arse is so pleasant.  Luckily those discs tend to pop out in groups of 2 or 3, and now have moved from my lower back to between my shoulder blades.  I think the words shit fight best describe my body at this point.

I still remember the first time they popped, ironically in my advanced pilates class.  First there was a pop, then a crunch, then an owwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.  Even better was that I had to present my doctoral thesis at a conference in another city.  I still don't recall what I said thanks to pain meds, but I did get the postgrad prize for research excellence so maybe I should pop more pain pills and my brain would come back. 

Now, courtesy of Bob, I add to my collection in the form of migraines, gastro and neuropathic pain, none of which really respond to traditional pain management.  I've been told that the migraines will end when Bob is finally under control.  Ha!  Gastro pain is again some of the Bob joy.  The neuropathic pain is due to SNAFU, which has no known cause to treat.  I'm pretty sure that at some point in the middle of the night my toes were stuck in a lava bath.  There's nothing like feeling like someone is rubbing crushed glass into your toes every second of the day. Fun, fun, fun.  I have also made the mistake of using a nail brush on my toes, this is a mistake you only make once when you have neuropathy.  I'm pretty sure I could have impressed a sailor with my swearing that day.

Probably my favourite part of the whole pain experience is that the meds best suited to controlling the pain, create a pain that can only be relieved by a prune juice enema delivered by firehose.  Medical science at it's best.  Those extra special herbaceous brownies are looking pretty good right about now.

Yet despite all this I don't think of myself as living with chronic pain.  Obviously I have a screw loose somewhere.  I'm pretty sure part of the problem is that when you have multiple health issues you end up focussing on the most pressing issue in the moment and for me that is now Bob related crap.  If I sat down and thought about it all I would turn into one of those psychiatric patients who sits in a corner all day long rocking back and forth.  Denial is a useful tool at times.  As my friend Michele from Dysautonomia Normal says, "Ostrich mode is my very favourite mode to be in". 

Luckily to balance all that, I do have patches of numbness.  Variety is the spice of lie after all. Though I must admit not realising my arm was stuck on the rose bush was a little disconcerting.  Especially when I yanked my 't-shirt' off the bush only to realise later on it was actually my skin and there was blood and a rose thorn sticking out of my arm.  But hey, I'm not complaining, there's gotta be a cool party trick in there somewhere and it sure as hell shits on pain.

So really when I look at it, I am the proud owner of the Ford Pinto of bodies.  No wonder Mr Grumpy is always saying that he married into the shallow end of the gene pool on that fateful day all those years ago.  Personally I blame my parents.  Geeze Mum and Dad, you could've put a little more effort into the making.  I know I was the last gasp and all but you could've at least put your hip into it, actually maybe that's where they went wrong.  Perfunctory sex is bad on so many levels.  (Lucky, thanks to my mum's computer phobia and my father's denial, they don't read my blog, not that I haven't said the same to them.  Sometimes it's worth the look on their faces).

Okay I'm off, time to celebrate the last day of my immature mid-thirties.  Tomorrow I am officially in grown up land of my late-thirties. Here's hoping that the only pain will be attributed to chocolate toxicity and some very nice fermented grape juice.

Michelle :)

Friday 7 May 2010

Fabulous Friday: There's No Place Like Gnome.

Well it's Fabulous Friday once more.  Time to break out the bedazzler (or Tequila, your choice), whip out the feather boa, and find that little gold lamé and rhinestone loving part of ourselves, that we normally hide away for fear of shame and ridicule.

Today I will publicly celebrate my love of gnomes.

Kitch, Naff, Dorkapalooza, I can hear your derisive laugh from here, but I don't care.  I love me some gnomes.  A garden is just a bunch of plants and dirt without a gnome.

So I'd like to introduce Norman, the gnome in residence at Château Rusty, And being Fabulous Friday you know he's got some bedazzling going on.

Of course being my gnome, Norman, is a bit of a spiffy fellow.  He chooses to shine.  None of this boring red hat and blue pants crap for him, oh no.  Norman has a thing for the Silver Surfer, and has gone for the whole body shiny silver look.  Norman knows he has it going on!

(Norman is such a camera tart).

(Norman also fits well into our household as he's not quite right, note the large hole in his back.  But we are happy to welcome such a 'special' gnome into our home.)

Now for those of you who feel it is wrong to keep gnomes, rest assured Norman in no way works in our garden.  Norman is a gnome of leisure.  He relishes his role as gnome eye candy, and is content to sit back and look pretty.  He loves the way his silvery curves catch the sun and loves nothing more than to sit back and catch some rays.

Norman also gets to travel.  He travels up trees, behind pots, under ferns and to different garden beds.  Mostly this occurs with the aid of Mr Grumpy (the husband) or the rug rats, and mostly to mess with my head.  Apparently it's hilarious to place Norman in new and exciting areas around the yard and watch me try to find him.  This has even extended to the rug rats friends who also get in on the merriment.  But at least Norman gets to view the world from new and exciting vistas each day.

If however you are concerned for gnome welfare I have some sites of interest for you.

Free the Gnomes:

The public face of the Gnome Liberation Front, this site provides information relating to how to free a gnome, gnome freedom stories, and gnome freedom organisations around the world. Since 1997 it is believed that over 6,000 gnomes have been freed by the GLF.

Barga Gnome City, European Gnome Sanctuary:

The official gnome sanctuary for Europe, Barga is a place of safety for all gnomes.  This site provides information of gnome abuse along with feel good stories of their rehabilitation following emancipation.  There are also beautiful pictures of gnomes running free and playing in parks.

Garden Gnome Liberation:

This site details many instances of gnome liberation around the world.  For example:

"In September of 2001, camouflaged personnel scaled a 3.5m (10ft) wall, navigated barb wire and an electric fence, and rescued the garden gnome from the house of the South African version of the TV Show, Big Brother. It was then taken to a pub".

It should be noted that unlike Norman's life of luxury, many gnomes continue to suffer abuse and gnomism permiates world wide.  Perhaps the most famous instance of gnomism is the continued gnome ban at the famed Chelsea Flower Show in the UK.  In 2009 contoversy arose when gnome advocate Mrs Jekka McVicar, breached these rules to place her gnome, Borage, in her design and was threatened with disqualification.  Borage was relocated but was proud that his presence had brought light to the important issue of gnome rights. 

So lets all stand up against gnomism and gnome abuse and celebrate gnomes in all their glory.

Michelle and Norman :)

NB. Living with Bob, is a pro-gnome blog.

(okay so I didn't design this, it can be found here)