Elk

So this weekend we went to Elk County (aptly named) and stayed the night in Saint Mary’s so we could be out before dawn. When I say “we”, I mean me, my husband and his son…my SOMH. These two boys rival my two daughters in “not morning people”. Fortunately for the boys, I woke with a headache so my usual morning chipperness was muted.

We still managed to get up and as we headed to Winslow Hill to view the elk, we were stopped along the road by a very large bull elk and his haram. He desperately wanted to cross the road but the crowd seemed to make him mad. The bugling was getting intense.

We eventually made it to Winslow Hill and we were not disappointed. The elk are majestic animals for sure. There was one cow trying to make a break for it, so my SOMH, husband and I turned it into a soap opera. She was a tease, but then the tables turned and the other cows made a break for it while the bull elk was trying to corral the cow. There was some bugling going one in the lower field and we suspect he had a bigger rack. 😜

It was also fun to be the object of curiosity to the groups of Amish also visiting the elk. I am sure they often get the stares, and it was hard not to smile when they could not help but stare at me. I don’t suspect they see many Muslims.

We also took a short 2 mile hike but by this time my headache was a full blown migraine and all the tasbih (remembrances) couldn’t distract me. We drove a bit more but by then the elk had moved into the woods so we started the drive home. We saw a black bear but he was moving so no time to take pictures.

I sat in the back to rest my head, but it was unbearable and the winding mountain roads didn’t help. The pain was moving. The normal left temple, but also burning across the top of my head and heavy throbbing at the back/base of my head. The tinnitus was unbelievable and felt “trapped” in there. Very odd.

About an hour into the drive home I was torn between begging my husband to stop at a hospital or drugstore. Most small mountain towns had neither. We finally found a CVS and I blindly stumbled in for Excedrin migraine. I briefly thought about begging for an imitrex shot, but I suspected that would not go over well, so I got to the counter, barely able to speak and the chipper clerk asked if I had a CVS card. Uh huh, yes, no, I don’t remember, just um…no. I stagger back to the car and choke down a handful of pills. (Two pills, it was only two pills…the temptation was there tho.)

My husband, clearly irritated by the unexpected stop and getting grouchy from hunger, takes off down the road. Every sharp switchback, slow then fast, stop and go, the loud squeaking of Jane, the navigator GPS, and stifling air, had me moaning and groaning and wishing for a coma. I realize I hadn’t eaten and the pills hit my stomach. New problem. Ugh. 🤢

We finally get into Tyrone, PA, the boys decide to look for food. In Tyrone. There was a sketchy looking Subway (or Suay, according to the lighted sign). Or a Burger King. Fast greasy food. By this time, alhamdulillah, the headache was subdued. I ate a few fries and sipped some Sprite.

Over all the trip was beautiful. The leaves are almost at peak.

I dealt with the headache aftermath today – brain fog and leg cramps – and pray for no rebound headache.

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First Apple Massacre of 2017

So many cores and peels, I wish I were a skilled composter. My wrist and arm got quite a workout! This is just the first of several applesauce making weekends. I always argue that it’s is truly a waste of time to can the applesauce. They eat it in a few days.

I had a bit of a pot issue. I think I will need to invest in a bigger stock pot. Nevertheless that’s what 11.5 pounds of peeled and sliced apples looks like.

The apple butter cooked all day in the crockpot. I had most of my spices except for ground cloves. I broke out the ole mortar and pestle and ground my own. I love the white flesh of the cortland and empire apples.

Crush took his usual spot against my ankles except for when I used the apple slicer. Then he waited for one to slip off the board and into his always ready mouth.

My husband decided today was the day we needed to pick out living room furniture so I quickly cleaned the kitchen, threw a skirt on over my Walmart-ready white leggings and off we went. I just sat down to finally relax on the last day of the weekend and my SOHM stopped over on his way back to school to print some notes, snatch a jar of applesauce and get his puppy all riled up. Then he left. Crush will now mope around for the next hour missing his buddy.

Again I have to say this is my favorite time of year….baseball playoffs, hockey season, cooler weather, holiday season – starting with Halloween — it’s just a happily busy time of year.

Total Diet Fail

Today was the Apple Harvest Festival and by far one of (if not the one) favorite weekend of the year. I love this time of year. The leaves are changing, the air is crisp, the fields are being harvested and it’s officially deer-dodging season.

My husband wanted to go early to the festival as it is the first weekend and the crowds can be pretty bad. I did not argue (for once) since I already had to tell him he was right twice the day before and, let’s face it, it’s three words most wives choke on.

After visiting the amazing booths of crafts and mulling over whether to get a plaque that says “for me and my family we serve the Lord” or “all those who come in peace are welcome” or any number of other cutesy little wall art…none of which we could agree on and truth be told, the money I brought was really for what followed.

Breakfast

Open pit beef with horseradish and bbq sauce. My first 3,000+/- calorie meal of the day.

Post-breakfast palette cleanser

Funnel cake with stewed apples, confectioners sugar and cinnamon. I had to laugh when they gave me two forks. Like I was going to share. Forks are not needed when I tackle funnel cake. It’s the one time I can honestly say sticky fingers don’t bother me.

One cannot go to an apple harvest festival without obtaining the harvested apples, however the festival sells pre-bagged apples and since I plan to can apple butter and applesauce, I like to get a variety of apples so we made a stop at the round barn (historic round barn)

for a half bushel of apples…jonagold, cameo, Fuji, empire, winesap, gala and others.

I’ll be busy tomorrow.

Sadly I did not take a picture of the final “must have” from the festival as they were eaten after dinner. Apple dumplings with vanilla ice cream. I’d say I managed to consume more calories than I care to admit, but oh my they were tasty calories.

The verdict is in …

No, this is not a blog about work so not that kind of verdict – although we DID have a verdict and not exactly in our favor, but not my point.

So since my last blog, I did hear from my ENT’s nurse. Your MRI is normal and there is minimal fluid so keep using he Nasacort and if you need us please call. Um….what? Minimal fluid? MY copy of the MRI report said “moderate” not “minimal”. That HAS TO be it. I start to choke up, I say to the nurse “so that’s it, I have to learn to live with the screeching in my head. I can’t live with it.” TINNITUS IS DIFFERENT FOR EVERYONE. Oh, I’m sorry, what was I thinking.

I called Johns Hopkins. They arrange to get me in Thursday (i.e., day before yesterday). I call my ENT and ask for copies of my audiology report and the MRI report (because hers must have said “minimal”). In the most immature fashion possible I play a YouTube video of a balloon squeal on repeat, because, after all, if I have to hear that high pitched squealing nonstop I should share the love.

I’ll save you all the boring details of what transpired between Monday and Thursday but say I have absolute saints for family members, friends and coworkers. I cannot even imagine how irritating it must be for them listening to me whine, cry and all but throw myself down on the ground in a full-on temper tantrum. I assured my husband that if the doctor at Johns Hopkins agreed with my ENT or in any way felt this is not curable, I would be done. No more seeking answers. No more whining.

Well, my husband is in luck. It is NOT my ears. It is my brain. That amazing gray mass in my head. So much potential and it has to spend all of its energy destroying what little sanity I have left. The doctors at Johns Hopkins are truly spectacular in that that they looked you in the eye and explained the situation. I understand what but not why but then I’ve given up being untitled to the why.

The main doctor I spoke to made some suggestions including seeing someone about migraines (which I’ve had all my life) but more importantly he insisted I get back on my antidepressants immediately. This part worries me the most. I’m not suicidal. Not in the slightest. But I’m starting to wonder what is wrong with me that I’m not. He wants me to get under the care of a psychiatrist to work on CBT – sooner rather than later – so like a good patient, I called my primary for a referral (which I already had, but they are scheduling 10 weeks out). As per usual, three days have passed and no call back from my dr. I’ll call the doc at Johns Hopkins for a referral Monday afternoon.

Finally, I get to bombard my brain with similar white noise in an effort to stop hearing the noise that is constant and will never end. I’m still wrapping my head around that one. I’m generally just numb and quite gun-shy (rather terrified) of what my brain is going to do next.

Still waiting…

I’m feeling mean. It’s uncharacteristic of me but I’m really irritated/frustrated/overwhelmed.

Over six months ago I complained of tinnitus to my doctor. She cleaned my left ear. That should fix it. It didn’t.

As the tinnitus became a NONSTOP SCREECHING, I go to an ENT. You are congested. Here’s some nasal spray. You are stressed and anxious. Bye.

Three weeks later, I go to the ER begging them to stop the noise. Full on mental breakdown. I’m no longer sleeping, I can’t get away from it, I can’t focus at work. So sorry, nothing we can do except have you follow up with the ENT but until then…even though you have no symptoms of neuropathy take gabapentin and prednisone. (Prednisone, but the way, is Satan’s medication. I don’t even know who I am anymore.)

Apparently the ER visit got me a little bit of attention – I received an email from my primary, a phone call from my insurance company and a follow up from my ENT. All within the next three days. I begin to feel optimistic that things are moving. Maybe now someone will believe me. Uh….Primary wanted to know if I needed them to schedule to follow up. I responded I don’t know … maybe … is someone going to do something about actually making this stop? Thank you for reaching out to us, please let us know if we can help. Oh oops my bad, i thought they were reacting to my visit to the ER, not covering their ass by no seeing if I needed an appointment. I don’t think they even knew WHY I went, just that I went.

The insurance company has an RN call me….repeatedly…starting off with the “can we help” speech but not really wanting answers, just letting me know there are less expensive resources than the ER…like reading material on depression and anxiety and going to Urgent Care not the ER. Strike two – my mistake again. I thought the call was to see how I was, not lecture me on their suggested proper procedure. (In retrospect, I suppose they are in a full on panic because we met our deductible and they are having to cover these expenses. How dare I?!)

Finally, the ENT. I did get a follow up. First to arrange a hearing test…until I reminded them I just had a hearing test when I saw her three weeks ago. Oh…ok, just an appointment then. I cried through the entire appointment. I refused to let her say “ringing”. I corrected her every effing time “screeching” “SCREECHING” “SCREECHING“. Ok, she gets it. She backed me off the gabapentin, made me finish satan’s steroids, and ordered an MRI. I suggested ruling out Lyme Disease. Oh..yeah sure, good idea. And, hmm, there is this clinic that we can refer you to that will help you learn to live with it. I sobbed harder. I will not, cannot “live” with this. This..is..not…RINGING…in…my…ears. (Why is no one listening to me?).

Lyme test negative.

MRI was Thursday morning. The report was in my chart Thursday afternoon. It was “unremarkable” for acoustic neuromas or other masses. <– this is a good thing. However the MRI DID find “moderate amount of fluid in the right and left mastoid air cells”. The radiologist commented “clinical correlation suggested”. I waited until 3:30 on Friday to call the ENT to ask if anything in the MRI report was useful in stopping the screeching. (Side note…I had a sinus migraine Wednesday into Thursday and typical of migraines, sights, sounds and smells were intensified. I had not been to sleep as of the MRI Thursday morning and the screeching was overwhelming. The headache has minimized to only being there when I move my head, but the screeching is still louder.). As of 9:30 a.m., Sunday, I have not heard from the ENT. Oh I know, I am being unreasonable to expect I am her only patient with SCREECHING in their head for over six months. I’m surely able to tolerate it for at least another 6 months while they hem-and-haw over how this anxious and depressed person is making up these things and wasting the doctors’ time for an intermittent, irritating background humming in my head.

Having to resort multiple times to Dr. Google and, of course, finding no immediate solution since tinnitus is not itself a symptom or anything but rather a secondary symptom to a lot of things, the only time fluid in the mastoid air cells appears is in conjunction with an ear infection. Or a stroke. A or Z. (MRI did not show any indication of a clot or stoke)

So as I try to function with a stress level now exceeding 1000%, exacerbated by no meaningful sleep in over a week, and pain in my head when I move, I patiently wait for someone…anyone to tell me what my next step is? Ice pick through the head or, I don’t know, antibiotics maybe?

Finally I will close this blog with a disclaimer. This is not me. I am not normally like this. I am friendly-to-a-fault, trusting and patient, but despite whining nonstop to whomever will listen, I am also 100% convinced that no one is listening and no one gives a shit. My family and my friends are sympathetic, but they don’t…can’t…know the intrusive, nonstop, high pitched, alarm screeching that is over EVERYTHING else and never ending. N E V E R E N D I N G. Not even for 10 minutes. I have to not mope around for fear of upsetting people. I have to function at work like there is nothing wrong. I have a husband to care for, a household to mange, chores to do. I can’t lay in bed wishing for….well wish for this to stop. But good news…this should all distract me from the screeching. Um..ok. How about do all this ON TOP of the screeching, no sleep and throbbing. Fighting back tears 24/7. Oh and don’t forget to smile. I’m soooooo “dramatic”.

If this is merely an ear infection or if there is any sort of solution whatsoever I hope that my suffering will be helpful to someone so they never have to do this. I WOULD NOT WISH THIS ON MY EX-HUSBAND, seriously. And believe me there is not much pain and misery I don’t wish on him.

To temper my last post…

Just so y’all don’t think I’m 100% whacked after my last post, here is one to prove I am a productive member of society.

I used the long weekend to work my way through a half bushel of peaches. Since I cannot claim to be perfectly sane, I have to admit that of all the fruits God has blessed us with, I despise peaches the most. They are slimy, stinky, mushy and all-around gross. But my husband loves canned peaches. So sanity aside, I am nothing if not completely devoted to those I love and I got right on it.

First we found yellow freestone peaches at one of the many fresh fruit markets. Gotta love living here!!

Then a large, fat spider crawled out of the box so they entire box went into a sink full of water in the hopes of drowning any of its companions.

I then proceeded to make seven quarts of canned peaches, five 1/2 pints of peach jam, and a large baking dish of peach cobbler.

Crush the pooch made everything I did in the kitchen difficult as best as he always does. Ready to catch a slippery slimy peach slice or, as per my other chores, cut up watermelon, sliced apples for overnight oats, or shredded beef for the Philly cheesesteaks. Or, as in the photo below, napping in such a way so as to not let me slip out undetected – one paw across my foot and his head locked into my ankle.

I did do a batch of pineapple habanero jelly for myself but I’m so done using Ball® pectin. This is the second time I used it and my jelly didn’t set. I’m not comforted by the “if your jelly doesn’t set” instructions included in their packet. So my “jelly” is preserves and will be good on fish or chicken. I had a bit on some crackers and it is really tasty.

I had a good mix of Halestorm, In This Moment, Amaranthine, and Breaking Benjamin with some classic Iron Maiden and Scorpions mixed in playing on Spotify so the afternoons flew by.

It was a nice holiday weekend with the SOHM home from college and beautiful weather. Good for a little mental rehabilitation.