Hello! I’m still on break, but I wanted to pop in for my monthly review, particularly because May turned out to be a fairly good month! Tons happened, and almost all of it (except for one particular medical scare from Jason) has been positive. Advance warning – because so much happened and because I haven’t posted all month, this post will be LONG.
Books and Movies
Not much happening in either reading or watching, so I’m combining them this month. In books, I was mostly hooked on reading and rereading What Alice Forgot, which I reviewed in April. I love that book soooo much. Plus, it helped me a lot with the PTSD-triggered feelings I usually get in May, helped me contain them and channel them in a healthier way than avoidance! As for movies, Jason and I went to a Three Amigos movie party on Cinco de Mayo. It was a blast!! The theatre was tiny and only half the seats were filled – a huge difference from the Clue Party last month – but the crowd was so much rowdier and funner. Even though I like Clue more than Three Amigos as a film (though I love both), the Amigos party was by far superior. I didn’t really watch any other movies this month, though I did enjoy binge-watching The Great British Baking Show on Netflix…
Almost all of our house news involved yard stuff this month, and there is some BIG news. Starting with the smaller things, though. First, I noticed some weird plant growth in an outer ring of one of our two chinaberry stumps (invasive trees that got chopped down last fall). Turns out, this is how chinaberry trees grow back from their stumps. Aaagh!!!!! Damn chinaberries! We chopped out the new growth, drilled holes into both stumps to cause a lot of damage, covered them with landscaping fabric so any new growth couldn’t get to light, threw down dirt, and built up rocks and other plants to hopefully prevent the trees from growing back.
Then we found two new guest in our yard. The first was awesome – a nest of cardinal eggs (and possibly one cowbird egg – cowbirds are brood parasites). The second was not so awesome – termites in two parts of our yard, likely arriving in a bag of cheap mulch. Oy. We know there were no termites in the house at least as of nine months ago, but we weren’t taking any chances. We got our pest control people out to do treatment immediately. We have to keep an eye out for more activity over the next few months, but mostly that’s just an out-of-pocket cost with a positive end. The sad end came regarding the cardinal babies. Five days after they hatched (on Mother’s Day!), something got into the nest and ate them. We’re pretty sure it was a raccoon because we found a tuft of raccoon tail fur on our driveway and the nest was tilted downwards toward the ground. It was unbelievably sad. The nest was low enough that we could see into it from above, and the babies’ eyes weren’t even open yet. 😦
Then our oven broke. Our less-than-a-year-old oven, that we got when Jason fell into our last one while putting up cabinets last summer. Ambrose was baking a cake, and when he went to open the door, it split into two halves, nearly burning him. !!! We had a warranty, but they refused to do anything but fix the door or replace the oven with the same model (which turns out to have the two halves of the door held together ONLY by two screws!). We called up Lowes, where we bought the oven, and even though they normally only take returns in the first 30 days, the serious nature of the danger (I can’t believe there’s not a recall!) convinced them to give us a full refund. Point to Lowes, nothing to Frigidaire! We bought a new oven that was roughly the same cost, so at least we weren’t too out of pocket on that one.
And lastly, the really good news: After the termite treatment was complete, we could finally do the very last of our planting. Fifteen months after we began, and after some major setbacks last fall, our xeriscaped from yard is DONE!!! More photos on my Instagram page, wider shots and details.
Lots of big news in health this month, too – enough that I’m going to bullet-list a lot of this! (Feel free to skip past the bullets to the one-sentence synopsis!)
- In late April, I started on an antidepressant and a heavy-duty allergy medicine in addition to over-the-counter antihistamines. For ten days, I had major side effects from the allergy med, and I also had no hives. Then the side effects disappeared and the hives came back.
- This pattern was the same as when I had my strep-pneumonia vaccine (no hives until the vaccine-lump/fever disappeared) and when I changed from low carb to a high carb diet. The pattern seemed to be that whenever my body was dealing with an infection or change, the hives would go away, only to come back afterwards. It was like my body would turn on itself whenever it didn’t have something external to fight. This indicates an autoimmune issue rather than an allergy.
- My allergist agreed that the atypical presentation of hives indicated an autoimmune disorder despite tests coming back negative (false negatives are common). She added Pepcid to my daily regimen of meds as a counter-histamine, and ordered a six-month round of anti-IgE injections for me. The injections are still going through the insurance process, but in the meantime…
- Adding the Pepcid worked a miracle! No side effects but also no hives! And suddenly, I could smell things again!!! About 75% of the anosmia issue miraculously disappeared! I can smell mint, and soap, and soy sauce, and scented candles, and sweat, and tar, and plants…all things I haven’t been able to smell in almost 1.5 years! Oniony scents still smell rotten, but the issue has improved drastically. Tastes as well: Peanut butter and ketchup and eggs taste right, instead of like rancid fat and mint and rotten onions, respectively. That sort of thing. Hurrah!!
- The new antidepressant has also been a lifesaver. Between it and the Pepcid countering whatever inflammation that has been keeping my body in prison, it’s like I can BREATHE again. I feel good exercising. I don’t feel exhausted all the time. I walk up my stairs and feel more energized when I get to the top than I did when I started. It’s like suddenly I have endorphins again after a years-long drought!
- I went gluten-free early in the month. I have a complicated history of gluten-related symptoms, and I know autoimmune disorders often react poorly to gluten, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt. It seems to have helped a lot, in fact. As soon as I stopped eating gluten, my appetite leveled out and I began to drop weight. Slowly, but consistently (about 4 lbs in May). Hurrah!
- In April, Jason discovered that as a USAA member, I can get a multi-gym membership for a low monthly price, and we signed me up on May 1st. I started going to the LA Fitness real close to my house right away, and discovered a fabulous Aquafit class with some really awesome people. I also tried a yoga class, but everyone was in silent competition and NO. I still need to try Zumba, but the Aquafit is by far my favorite! I also signed up at Planet Fitness because they have a free teen program that my boys want to use this summer. Their 30-minute circuit training is awesome!!
- After a month of using Lunesta again, I ended up with a severe allergic rash all over my face just like in February. Clearly my body will only tolerate the medicine for a few weeks. I had to take my emergency steroid kit because my skin burned and itched so badly, raw and inflamed (pic is not altered in any way). It was awful and the steroid kit could only do so much, but it helped enough that I could let it heal over a few days. (Notably, when my face flared up like that, it caused all the inflammation issues – including anosmia and chronic fatigue – to flare up too.) Thankfully this is a short-lived issue with a very definitive cause that I can eliminate.
So if you skipped the bulleted details, my month basically went like this: fewer hives, more energy, improved smell situation, some new gym memberships, better mental health, and some decent weight loss.
Highlights of May
So many of the highlights of the month are mentioned above (Three Amigos party, finishing the yard, Aquafit, etc). Here’s what doesn’t fit neatly into one of the above categories. Awesome thing: There are a lot of them! Where applicable, I linked out to photos from Instagram, since there are way too many to post here!
- Jason and I got new wedding rings! Since my ring is too small and his was destroyed recently, we bought matching silicone rings as a temporary solution, and they’re gorgeous.
- I got some really awesome new outfits this month from Torrid and Lularoe, including some new favorite dresses.
- Jason and the boys took me to an escape room on Mother’s Day. It was my first ever escape room (first for any of us). We reserved the room for just the five of us, and even though it was our first time and we chose an 8-out-of-10 difficulty room, we escaped with eleven minutes to spare! Afterwards we played pool and went out to eat.
- I got to spend an afternoon with my friend Nat who lives out of town, so that we rarely get to see each other. We’ve known each other for about 25 years now and it was so nice to just have a few hours in each other’s company.
- I tried out a recipe for gluten-free yogurt lemon muffins, and they were AMAZING. Light, fluffy, not too sweet, melt-in-your-mouth. Definitely couldn’t tell they were GF.
- Ambrose got his SAT scores back and scored a fantastic 1420! He was surprised to discover he did equally well – 710 each exactly – in math and english, because he’s usually much more math-oriented and he struggles in english.
- My newest nephew, Kyler Grant, was born on the 29th! He makes my sister’s third son and my mom’s sixth grandson. Apparently we don’t have girls in our family, haha!
Coming up in June
Morrigan graduates high school this month, and we have both the ceremony and his party coming up fast. His grandparents from Wisconsin are coming down for it, so we’ll see them for the first time in two years. We also have oral surgery scheduled for Morrigan (wisdom teeth are all impacted), and Jason is scheduled for both surgery (a parathyroid removal) and some medical procedures for that recent scare mentioned above. The boys want to spend a lot of time at the gym this summer as well, and Laurence decided to take a summer school class to get ahead, so I imagine things are going to be crazy busy for a few months. I’m probably going to continue on my blogging break at this point and catch up again at the end of June! I hope everyone is doing well. *waves*