Not-So-Lazy Sunday

I did sleep until 8:30, but since it has been raining non-stop I got a nice mix of housework and fun stuff done today!

I ordered a lovely puzzle for myself and am having a lot of fun working on it! It is “Alice in Wonderland” themed and is a picture of a pile of books and tea pots and tea cups (and quite a few berry tarts!). Also, a couple of the books we ordered came in, so I rotate between working on the puzzle, reading, and playing computer games and watching YouTube videos online.  :}

As for important things to do, I took my car for a drive so that the battery won’t drive. Regular gas is down to $1.83 in my area! My tank is full or else I might have been tempted.

I also *finally* finished going through all my paperwork. I had NOT been doing a good job of filing things and had a huge pile of papers on my desk for over a year. I first filed all my medical papers in a separate file organiser, then went through each folder and cleaned out anything outdated or duplicated. I then the did the same for important files (bills, warranties, things like that) in a separate file holder, and then today I finally did the same for our house binder. I recycled a tree and I still have a thick stack to shred. It took me, in all, about three weeks from the time I started, but there were gaps in between each set of files. Now that I have things sorted and my bins aren’t so crammed that I can’t fit anything else in, I hope that it will be easier to keep things sorted going forward.  I have no one to blame but myself for letting things get so out of hand, but I am so proud of myself for getting it all done! Very satisfying (as is doing the shredding!).

I also got some of my weekend chores done: scooping cat litter, sorting out my pills for the week, doing laundry, etc. Hubby and I cook separately for now, so I made a big triple ginger teriyaki ground turkey stir fry with broccoli and cashews for my next couple of dinners. Very yummy! And easy to make, too! I also got on the exercise bike for the first time in a while. I only made 23 minutes (I’ve had some IBS issues, probably due to stress), but that is a good start to build from. I am recharging my little tablet so I can watch YouTube while biking.  :}

I’ve had one or two medical issues that are currently on hold: seeing back doctor for the pinched nerve in my lower back, and one of my pain medications has not been refilled. I am managing without it, but I’ve had some bad cramping in my legs. Hopefully as I stretch and exercise more that will taper off.

I am trying to grow romaine from some of my romaine hearts, and two are sprouting! One is not looking too good, but if I can get them to put out roots I can grow my own. I am also thinking of doing the same for cherry tomatoes and peppers. It’s not a “victory garden”, but it would be nice to have some fresh veg on hand without having to run the store as often.





Working from Home

Working from home for an extended period of time is a new experience for me. Thankfully, I have our guest/craft room at the front of the house to work from, so I have a nice window with natural daylight. I love working at my grandfather’s old wooden desk and the wooden office chair that is only slightly younger, and I think my posture is much better than when I work at my desk in our home office!

Since I spend so much time in this room, I try to make my space as clean and cheerful as I can. I am clearing out things that were temporarily stored here (“temporarily”, three years?), gave the room a good cleaning, and hung some artwork on the walls that had be stashed in the closet. I put a cushion on the sewing machine in the front window and the cats take turns watching birds and squirrels from there. When I take a break I’ve been sorting through my craft supplies (which is long overdue!) and minimize my visual clutter. Hubby and I check in on each other regularly, and sometimes he comes and lies on the couch to read when he’s taking a break, which I really like.  :}  I might hand some white lights in the front window, just because!

I do catch myself walking around the house with my wireless headphones on- I’m so glad I stopped by work to pick up some equipment, they are so comfortable! I keep forgetting I have them on, especially since I can get all the way to the kitchen from the front bedroom and can still hear what’s on my computer. I did take my work clothes out of regular rotation and hung them up in the closet. If I need to dress nicer for a webmeeting I can still put on a pretty tunic, but most days I just wear comfy work polos or t-shirts and shorts.

I figure I get back between 1-2 hours a day from not commuting and finding parking. That time is mostly going toward extra rest, and being able to sleep an extra hour in the morning is a huge help! I am also unsubscribing for a number of work listservs so I can focus my inbox and my work time better. The rate of incoming messages is slowing down a bit now that folks are getting used to being online, and that is much less stressful. I am still working a little overtime every week, but starting next week I should be back to a regular 40-hour schedule, which I’m looking forward to!

As for non-work stuff:

Since I’m not going out for a few weeks (other than yardwork or to pick up the mail), we ordered some books from Amazon, next in the various series that hubby and I are reading. I have been trying to avoid ordering anything online, but fresh reading material is a must. I am also considering gifting myself a new puzzle *shifty look*.

I also have stacks of boxes of items to donate, as well as a load of electronic waste piling up to take to the recycling center. I don’t know when I’ll be able to get those out of the house, and right now they’re all stacked near the front door, which isn’t great. I may see if the local Vets might want to pick the donation items. There are two boxes of books I want to bring to our local library, but that will have to wait as well. Since I can’t do anything of these things right now, hubby and I made a donation to our local food bank, which is overwhelmed with requests from so many people working fewer hours or who are laid off entirely (college town and lots of students work in food service, which is greatly reduced now). It made me really happy to find something that I can do remotely to help.

I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube for cleaning/organising inspiration, and it’s helping! I choose one target area (ie., a drawer), and go through it. A month or so later, I go through it a second time, and usually find other things that shouldn’t be stored there or that I can donate. We have been talking about moving for, oh, probably five years now? I would have to do this anyway to get ready to move, so hopefully being proactive now will make it an easier transition later.

For example, yesterday I cleaned out my “tech” drawer, untangling wires and throwing out old phone cables. Why do we have so many phone cables?!  And some old software CDs. VERY old software. 2008? 2007? Yeah, okay. 2000? !1999?! Yeah, those can go! The drawer is now organised and I know which cables go with what. Sorting out that drawer was long overdue!

Sheltering in Place

I have been wanting to journal my COVID-19 experiences, and remembered, hey! I actually have a blog! So, here is what has been going on with me.

I work for a university in their online learning department, so work has been an avalanche the past few weeks, trying to get everything ready in case we went to online-only instruction. It should not be a surprise to anyone now that all our face-to-face courses are now moved to remote teaching through the end of the spring term and for the first part of the summer. Thankfully, my field makes it easy for me to work remotely (although not seamlessly).

Last Monday was the beginning of our spring break. This was good timing because students were off campus and there were no classes scheduled so we could focus on hardware, software, and training for our instructors to get them up to speed.  I didn’t feel well however, and despite feeling terrible Tuesday I dragged myself into the office since our jobs are particularly urgent right now. I managed to get an appointment with my doctor squeezed in that afternoon and it turned out that I had a sinus infection and beginnings of bronchitis. I had some minor issues getting my antibiotic, but was able to start steroids and a heavy-duty decongestant right away. Despite being out on sick leave for the next few days, I tried to keep up with work from home. Fortunately, one of my team members was able to step up into training mode,which is usually my role. I also had a persistent fever, which I worried was from my rheumatoid arthritis flaring up, since I haven’t been able to take my biologic for two weeks now due to the infection (yesterday was my last day of antibiotics!~ Yay!).

Between my autoimmune diseases, immune suppressant meds, and sinus infection/bronchitis, my sequestering started a week before the rest of my office. Thankfully, hubby is in good health and is able to do all our errands as well as help out his homebound parents. It does require us doing some weird things, like wiping down all our groceries with disinfecting wipes when he brings them home. We are not ordering take out or delivery either to make sure I’m not exposed to anything. We had been eating too much take-out lately anyway, and I wouldn’t be surprised if being away from the coffee shop at work for a couple weeks doesn’t help me lose some weight! We exercise at home together a couple days a week and take walks in the neighborhood.

Before all this started we already had 2-3 weeks worth of food in the house, so we just stocked up on some long-term foods for variety. I am supposed to limit beans due to kidney stones, but hubby is making himself a crockpot of garlic chili to enjoy while I eat chicken and fish. Most of our stores have limited hours now, and our county has a curfew, but we are fortunate to live where we do and to already have been prepared ahead of time. We also have been drying fruit, which is one of our favorite snacks, including strawberries, apples, and pears. The cats have been confused but delighted to have us both home every day, and since they are usually shut out of the guest room they’ve had fun exploring while I work here. Scout especially likes to supervise my productivity!

Hubby and I are both working remotely and we quickly decided that it will be better if we work from different rooms instead of from our shared home office. I was already relegated to the front guest/craft room while I was sick, so I have my work setup there and now we don’t have to worry about disrupting each other (I have a lot of video and chat calls, and he likes to listen to the news while he works). Now that my infection is over it is nice not to be stuck in this room 20 hours a day, however! I am having to work on enforcing boundaries around my non-work hours, and make a point to walk away from the computer for an hour at lunch to read a book. I also try to get up, stretch and walk around every hour. This is something I do at work as well, so it’s just continuing the habit. I have been doing a lot of cleaning and organising in this room since I focus best with a clear environment. People watching is a bit distracting at times, but having an office with a window is really nice!

Keeping sane:

  • I have a list of Things To Do Around The House. In addition to regular housework there are several things I’ve been meaning to do when I have time. Well, now I have time! I also have an equally long “Fun Stuff” list of things I’d like to do, and I alternate back and forth between the two. I add ideas to both all the time.
  • I have a small stash of daily “emergency chocolate”. I like Lindt dark chocolate truffles, and I allow myself two a day for “dessert” after lunch. It meets my chocolate/sugar craving and for the last week has worked very well.
  • My friends have a Discord chat, so we can log in, chat with each other, and share pictures and videos. It’s a great way to keep in touch, and we’re looking at playing some online games together since our monthly board game nights are on hold indefinitely!

How are you all faring? Most of my prescriptions are already on a three-month mail-in cycle, so I am doing well there, although I worry about deliveries as things go on. Stay safe!

Pride Goeth Before…

Last week I was traveling for business. While walking between a restaurant and the hotel I stepped off the edge of the sidewalk into unexpectedly deep grass and took a header. There was a moment when I almost caught myself and then realised that I would probably do less damage if I just let myself fall onto the grass. I scraped my left wrist on the pavement but otherwise was fine. My left shoulder was very unhappy with me, however, and it took a few days to settle down. Mostly I was just embarrassed since I fell in front of coworkers, but I know that during my monthly call with my nurse she’ll ask if I’ve had any falls, and this time I’ll have to say yes. It’s been a while, and I know it’s a very real risk with RA. I am still regaining the mobility lost due to foot issues and am still getting up to speed on my reclining exercise bike (which I am loving!). It’s just frustrating when my body fails me, especially when I feel like I’ve been doing so much better. I was recently reminded that I can be a bit stubborn (*ahem*), and that definitely applies to what I can, or can no longer, do. Sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back. (or one step off the pavement, in this case.)

New Year Check-In

…a bit belated. I hadn’t realised it had been so long since I updated, but the holidays will do that to you.

I barely know where to start, really. We had cycles of very cold (for my region) and then unseasonably warm weather which played havoc with my arthritis, in particular my hands (not to mention things blooming unseasonably, so allergies are in full swing already). The tendinitis “trigger thumb” in my right hand has been very painful and even with wearing a splint at night it still wakes me up at times. In fact, my overall pain got so bad that I went on a ten-day taper of steroids to help put it in check (which I loathe doing). It helped, for the most part.

All this has been a bit more hectic since my rheumatologist has left the practice and relocated outside of my area. I haven’t met my new “temporary” doctor yet, but had to get bloodwork done to renew my prescriptions. Thanks to changes in my supplemental medical coverage this ended up being a three-way paperwork fest which was finally resolved as of this morning and resulted in me missing only one week of medication. It has been stressful, to say the least, in addition to trying to dodge round after round of colds and flu at work. I had actually managed to accrue some sick time at work and then had to use it all on a chest cold that took out half of my team (luckily I had a light variant, but I am constantly wiping everything down with antibacterial cloths).

Without going into too much detail, I also began seeing a women’s doctor again. With the medications I take it’s not safe if I became pregnant, but the medication I was taking was having significantly bad side effects. Just as I get a referral and have an introduction appointment I’m notified that the new doctor’s practice and my health insurance have not renewed and the end date is alarmingly soon, so I was in a rush to get my meds changed before the cost-off. I was able to my medical appointment done and now am adjusting to the new medication, but I feel like it’s a taste of the direction that women’s medicine has been going in this country for quite a while now. I’m not going to go into politics here, but it added significantly to my stress, which I did not need in the least.

In good news my left foot is much better with just a little stiffness in the early mornings, which is probably the new normal. My Christmas gift to myself was a reclining bicycle, and hubby’s gift was cleaning up the spare room to make space for it. I only used it twice last week, so my goal for this week is three times. I have had to start much slower than I expected (10 minutes 30 seconds and 12 minutes 30 seconds respectively) but I am still adjusting settings. Building up my thighs will help my right knee not overextend, so it’s better not to push too hard. I feel like it is already helping my lower back which has been particularly bad this past week- so any progress there is welcome.

Not much else going on, really. I haven’t seen The Black Panther yet thanks to an unfortunate migraine yesterday, but will definitely see it this weekend- I’m so excited! It looks gorgeous and everything I’ve heard has been glowing so far.

One other gripe- I am still trying to adjust to diet to help avoid kidney stones. Hubby asked for a list of what I *can* eat since the list is getting so short. I really wish he was joking. It’s frustrating to say the least.

Oh- and I received all my medical statement summaries for last year. Without insurance I could have covered my prescriptions and had $5,000 left of my income. Which means that with my medical bills I would have been $35,000 in debt. I am grateful every day for my insurance- I honestly don’t know how I would be able to work full-time without it (which of course is it’s own source of stress, since I need to keep working to qualify, not to mention that hubby is covered under my insurance).