Posted in Baking, Fiber, Pain, PTSD

Too Much Excitement and a Zippered Pouch

Ah, the adventures I’ve had this week! 

Last weekend, I made Madelines. They are a French cookie. I wanted to follow the recipe exactly, and I browned the butter. I’ve never done that before. Did you know that when butter is sufficiently browned, the butter foams, climbs out of the pot and explores the top of the stove? This is why I have a gas stove with enclosed burners. 

Next, the recipe said to chill the batter at least 20 minutes, then pipe the batter into the wells of a Madeline pan. Except the batter was too cold and there was no way I could pipe it. So I spooned the batter into the wells. I had used goop on the wells, but I didn’t use enough and the cookies stuck to the pan. Jim did something magic and got the Madelines out of the pan. I used more goop, and the batter was sufficiently warm to pipe. These came out of the pan easily. More goop, and more piping except I didn’t have enough batter to fill every well. Baked on goop is nasty. Getting it off the pan sucks. 

The Madelines tasted good. The next morning, I had some Madelines for breakfast. I felt something hard and swallowed before I realized what the hard thing was. It was a gold crown. Knowing it would be cheaper to have the crown reattached than to have a new crown, I spent the next week pooping into a strainer. Jim did the search and rescue part. The plan was to retrieve the crown, wash it off, then use my Instant Pot as an autoclave. No crown. Finally, I gave up and called the dentist. 

My birthday was on Thursday and we wanted to celebrate. Except I had a naked tooth that was starting to bother me. I could only chew on one side. We went to Denny’s because you get a free slam on your birthday. My mother tried to force feed me a fried egg when I was little. She told me I wasn’t getting anything else until I ate the egg. After a couple meals and me not eating the egg, she gave up. I don’t care for eggs. Slams come with eggs. I ordered the slam. Jim ordered French toast. When our food arrived, we swapped plates. I had something I could eat. I had to show my driver’s license to prove it was my birthday so we could get the slam for free. Starbucks is next door to the Denny’s, and I have the Starbucks app. If you have the app, you get a free treat on your birthday. I got my Frappuccino for free, and Jim got his two Frappuccinos for half price because it was happy hour day. Dinner and desert for two for a total of about $11. Do we know how to party or what? 

The next morning, I went to the dentist. He said he needed to do additional prep on the tooth, and I got to enjoy two things I hate. I detest getting Novocain and I got two shots. At the end of the drilling, they took an impression of the tooth. I detest having impressions taken even more than I detest getting Novocain. The inside of my mouth is small and the trays never quite fit. They are always a little too big. 

Now that I had a temporary crown and I could chew on both sides of my mouth, we could eat at a restaurant and I could order real food. Except I couldn’t. While my mouth and tongue were numb, I bit my tongue. My tongue hurt, and I needed to take an NSAID to make the pain and swelling of the gum around my tooth stop. We went to Starbucks and I discovered that Frappuccino is a great way to apply ice to a tooth. 

The next day, with a not sore mouth and a tongue that was almost normal, we went to Olive Garden for lunch. Olive Garden will give you a free dessert if you tell them you are celebrating your birthday. I ordered the Brownie Lasagna. Thin slices of brownie with cream cheese frosting between the layers and on top. Chocolate shavings on top and a raspberry drizzle. Starbucks again. I needed to order one more item to get the extra stars. The problem with the Starbucks app is it’s so easy to order far more often than I would order without the app. But I get a free Frappuccino with 150 points. I save up the points; and when we travel, we have free Starbucks drinks. 

My classes started on my birthday. I’m taking cell biology and immunology this semester. My immunology teacher said we may have talked to our grandparents or great-grandparents about life before vaccines in the 1950’s. Hey! I’m 67. I was born the year of the last polio epidemic in the US. I got all of the childhood diseases because there were no vaccines for them. I am not old enough to be a grandparent.  My brain is 35. The rest of me isn’t. 

One of my teachers was astonished to learn I’m not working towards a degree. She asked if I were taking the class for fun. Yep. We get 6 credits free each semester because Jim works for the university. I’ve got two undergrad degrees, a law degree, and no desire to have another piece of paper. One article I came across while researching PTSD was the fact that learning something new would repair the damage done to the hippocampus. It must be working because I’m finally past the worst of PTSD. No more nightmares. No more memories that take over my brain. Now, I only have uninvited memories that have no power to hurt me. They annoy me, but they don’t’ hurt me. 

I take class notes on my iPad. I’ve got an iPencil so I can make drawings in my notes. The iPencil comes with a little adapter for charging and a spare point. Both are little and easy to use. I decided a zippered pouch would be good to have and would keep the tiny parts safe. I’ve got lots and lots and lots of fat quarters and I picked out two that I thought would look nice together. I worked out the pattern. What I wanted was the contrasting fabric on the back of the pouch to continue over the top of the pouch and an inch or so down the front. Except I didn’t make the pattern right. 

Version I, front
Version 1, back

I still have lots and lots and lots of fat quarters, so I picked out two fabrics, tweaked the pattern and got the zippered pouch I wanted in the first place. I’m not sure what I will do with the second zippered pouch.

Version 2, front

Version 2, back.

Today, I’m making my birthday cake – red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. I’m going to be learning how to use Wilton’s Icing Gel and to work on my piping skills. I’ve always used the grocery store food coloring that comes in little bottles. I chose the red color that has no taste. This baking stuff is fun and helps keep down the anxiety. As long as the butter stays in the pan, the batter can be piped, and my crown stays attached to my tooth. 

I’m linking with Nina Marie http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com. Take a look at what other artists have been making.

Looking for a gift? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art. http://www.debthumanart.com

Posted in Clay, Fiber, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography, Quilts

I’m Not Old Enough To Be This Old

My friends have been telling me I need to slow down and that I keep trying to do too much. I should have paid attention. Now, whether I like it or not, I have to slow down. 

Jim has two tears in his rotator cuff and needs surgery. One tear is “medium” and the other “major.” We’re waiting for workers comp to approve the surgery. Once Jim has surgery, he won’t be able to move his arm for 6 weeks.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on little ceramic trays because they are a huge seller for me. I’ve got a fully-manual, gas fired, top loading kiln. I’m short. The kiln is deep. Jim has always loaded and unloaded the kiln for me. There’s concern that I won’t be able to load the kiln by myself. Jim won’t be able to load the kiln at all. I’ve got two dozen little trays made. They need to be bisque fired, glazed and glaze fired.

I was looking forward to setting up at the weekly farmers market in November and December. The Saturday after Thanksgiving is a remarkably profitable day for me. Jim helps me with the market. I could probably get the EZ-Up set up by myself – provided I did enough swearing. What I cannot do is drive the truck. The truck is a standard and because of the peripheral neuropathy, I can no longer feel the clutch. It’s too dangerous for me to drive the truck. The EZ-Up won’t fit in the car. Worse, we needed both vehicles to get everything – EZ-Up, tables, jewelry, ceramics, fiber art – to the market. Setting up at the farmers market this year won’t happen.

Jim won’t be able to drive the Mini, also a standard or the truck because he won’t be able to move his right arm. So much for shifting. My car is an automatic. We’re going to be a one-car couple with wildly different schedules. We have gym memberships, but we don’t go to the same gym. I picked the gym that’s right on the way from school to the post office where I get all my mail. Very convenient. It’s not convenient for Jim which is why he has his membership at a different gym. Jim works at the local university and I get to take up to six credits for free each semester. At least we’ll be going to the same place. I’ve got classes two days a week. Although I’d love to have an 8:00 class, just about no one teaches an 8:00 class. Jim has to be at work at 7:30. My classes are both in the building next to the library so I’ll have something to do for three and a half hours before class. I’ll need to find something to do for two hours after classes and we can go home together. I have a feeling I’m going to be doing a lot of hand quilting this semester. There’s only so much studying I can do before my eyes fall out of my head.

I have my online store, Deb Thuman Art. I was considering making laptop totes to sell. Fiber art is easy and relatively inexpensive to ship. I never have to worry about fiber art getting broken. I don’t sell ceramic pieces online because of the chance of breakage and the cost of shipping. I now need to spend quality time making laptop totes. My sewing machine was in the shop for its 60,000 mile checkup and I brought it back home Thursday. I need to pick out fabrics from my 3 miles of fabric collection then start piecing a laptop tote.

I physically cannot do the things I want to do so I will have to learn to slow down. This slowing down is going to take some getting used to.

Wednesday evening, there was weird light outside so I grabbed the camera.

I’m linking with Nina Marie. Please stop by and see what other artists are doing. http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com

Please visit my store, Deb Thuman Art. http://DebThumanArt.com

Posted in Baking, Emotions, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography

An Assortment Of Thoughts

Jim started baking. And baking. And baking. He found a sale on the Nordicware site and bought four fancy cake pans. Two will make loaves with fancy tops. One will make mini cakeletts. One will make regular cakelettes. I tried to convince Jim that we need the Kitchen Aid Pro 600 mixer with metal gears and a BIG bowl. Two bakers need two mixers. He didn’t accept that argument. Sigh. Someday. 

Today, I went to the gym for the first time in months. I only worked on my upper body because I’m not sure I should be using weights to work on my lower body yet. I want to have a couple more pain-free weeks before I ease into using weights on my lower body. My theory is if I am stronger I won’t be as prone to back and sciatic misery. If I’m wrong, at least I won’t have flappy arms. I’ve also been doing yoga designed to restore back strength and that seems to be working well. 

I’ve been seeing curtains of light in my right eye. That can be an indication of a torn or partially detached retina. Twice the retina in my right eye has been glued back down and I’ve been told that if my retina tears or detaches again, I will have to have repair work done in the hospital. I looked up the surgery. A sharp instrument is inserted in the eyeball….. and I need about a quart of valium to hold still for that. After seeing my eye doctor and a specialist, I learned my retina is fine and no one needs to poke me in the eye with a sharp instrument. The curtains of light could be an ocular migraine. Jim has those. They are a nuisance, but they don’t hurt. And so I’ll ignore the curtains.

I did a bit of work on the novel. I need to get the novel finished, and it’s taking a whole lot longer than I thought. I switched from first person to having a narrator. That solves the problem of how my female character knows things. 

I have not worked on the quilted pillow tops this week and I’m having small guilt attacks. Next week. I’ll work on them next week. 

I read an article in the New York Times about research that’s being done using virtual reality as a means of pain management. The theory is the brain is bombarded by so much stimuli the pain doesn’t register. So I bought a virtual reality headset. It works. I like how realistic and three dimensional the programs are. I started with the aquarium program and watched dolphins, sea turtles, clown fish, and sharks swim by. I detest rollercoasters in real life, but I decided to try a virtual rollercoaster anyway. It’s not a good idea to ride a virtual rollercoaster for a half hour.  Actually, it’s a really bad idea. My stomach didn’t like being on a virtual rollercoaster.

I hate Mothers’ Day. 

I grew up in a family run by a violent narcissist and a violent drunk. My mother not only hated and resented me, she made sure I knew she hated and resented me. Don’t ask me to honor someone like that. 

I have a uterus. I don’t have children. Don’t assume I am a mother. 

Tomorrow, I will stay home. I will avoid clerks and wait staff who insist on wishing me a happy mothers’ day. 

Too bad there aren’t greeting cards acknowledging women who don’t have children, or worse, lost a child, women who grew up in abusive environments and women who have lost their mothers. 

I’m linking with Nina Marie http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com. Stop by and see what other artists are doing. 

Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art www.debthumanart.comand check out my art. 

Posted in Fiber, Pain, Psych meds

98% Of The World Is Not Accessible

If you have ever wondered just how accessible the world is, try getting into and out of a restroom without using your hands. Putting a blue sign outside a restroom does not make the restroom accessible. There is only ONE restroom I can use on the entire New Mexico State University campus. It’s on the first floor of Foster Hall. The handicap entrance to Foster Hall is on the second floor. I have to be careful how much water I drink and when I drink it. It can be a long walk to the only restroom that has a door opener. 

Sidewalks are death traps. Expansion joins that have moved will stop the walker’s wheels. Then I try not to go flying over the top of the walker. Elevators are death traps. There’s a gap between the elevator and the building. That gap also stops wheels. Area rugs are death traps. Try wheeling over the edge. The rug lifts up and refuses to lie flat. Throw rugs are death traps. They are worse than area rugs. Construction zones are death traps. A main road on campus is torn up. There’s an 8” drop to the exposed dirt that used to be under the pavement. I’m not supposed to try to use the walker on stairs. Getting across that road was a near death experience. 

For some reason, the handicapped entrances for buildings on campus are the farthest from the sidewalk. Go to the college book store? Nope. The parking lot is on one side of the building and the handicap entrance is on the other side. The curb cutout for the sidewalk that will take me around the building is on the far end. I’d have to wheel myself across the parking lot, walk along the entrance to the bookstore, walk down the side of the bookstore, turn the corner, and there’s the handy handicap entrance. 

I got a cup holder for my walker. That allows me to bring tea from the kitchen to the office. I have to put the tea in a travel mug, but at least I can have tea. I thought the cup holder would allow me to go to Starbucks by myself. I could order my drink, put it in my cup holder, and wheel myself to the table. That works if the Starbucks isn’t crowded. Not that Starbucks has a door opener. I’d have to wait for someone to come along and open the door for me. The never crowded Starbucks is on a road that has been ripped up for the last year. It’s quite the driving experience. That’s why that Starbucks is never crowded. I tried going to Starbucks without my walker. My leg feels better and I can walk short distances without the walker. I discovered that I can’t stand long enough to get my drink. I was in pain by the time I could hobble to the table. I had an hour in which I could drink my mocha and hope my leg recovered enough to get out of Starbucks. Fortunately, I could get back to my car. 

I wanted to go to Sprouts, a wonderful grocery store here. It’s got the best produce, a large organic produce section, and a large selection of fruit. Except I can’t push my walker and a cart at the same time. Yes, they have the little motorized things for people who have difficulty walking. I need the walker to get from the car to the store entrance. So what do I do with the walker if I use the motorized thing?

Taking the shuttle bus from the free parking lot to near where I have a class is…..interesting. The newer busses have a ramp that unfurls and makes it easy to roll onto the bus. The older busses have lifts. The bus this morning had a broken lift. My choices were: try to get up steep stairs (not in this lifetime) or wait for the next bus. I waited. Frequently, I have to tell the driver to unfurl the ramp. No, I can’t jump from the sidewalk to the bus while pushing a walker. 

I had a botany lab this morning. The lab isn’t designed for a walker. I managed to get around without the walker catching on a cord and knocking a microscope off the table. Getting prepared slides was easy. Prepared slides have the specimen and the cover slip permanently glued to the slide.  I got the slide, put it in my pocket, and wheeled my way back to my table. A slide I prepare by cutting a thin piece of fruit, putting it on a slide, adding a drop of water and putting a cover slip over the wet fruit required imagination to move from the counter to my table. Which is across the room. The ability to hold onto a slide and the walker simultaneously is a useful skill. I managed. I’m pretty proud of that accomplishment. 

This week, my leg is significantly less painful. I can take a shower standing up. I can get from the living room to the bathroom without using the walker. No, I can’t ditch the walker. I’ve tried. And regretted it each time when the pain returns. 

Three weeks down, three to go. I will be bitching a whole lot for the next three weeks. 

My psych meds have been tweaked so I can avoid serious depressive episodes. Last week, I had brain fog. This week, the fog is gone but I’m having a hard time remembering how to do things.

I finished another scarf. And I can’t stand long enough to block it and photograph it. And so it won’t go in my store for a while.

Having exhausted my supply of Shawl In A Cake yarns, I got out my hand dyed yarns. I did the hand dyeing. I knit a length of what looks like a scarf. Then I dye the length of what looks like a scarf. This requires measuring water, salt, dye and fixative and taking the bucket out to the back yard. Put the length of what looks like a scarf into the bucket and wait. Eventually, fetch the length of what looks like a scarf, rinse it, wash it, and let it dry. Then, I unravel the length of what looks like a scarf and wind it into a ball. 

I worked out a lace pattern and I’m now knitting a for real scarf with one of my hand dyed yarns. Yes, this scarf will be priced accordingly. 

I’m linking with Nina Marie here: http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com Stop by and see what other artists have been doing.

Looking for cool, one of a kind fiber art or jewelry? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art, http://www.debthumanart.com

Posted in Baking, bipolar disorder, Cognitive problems, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography

Rolling On

I have sciatic pain. Apparently two major depressive episodes in three weeks is not healthy. The second episode was scary because I caught myself thinking being dead wouldn’t be so bad. I called my doctor and now have my psych meds tweaked. Meanwhile, I woke up in severe pain last week Monday. I couldn’t walk more than a few steps. I had to push a chair around because I didn’t have a walker. 

Now, I have a few life adjustments. I use a walker and will likely need it for at least 4 more weeks. I have to consider how far I can walk. I tested out my walking ability in the grocery store this morning. I want to go back to school on Monday and I needed to know if I could walk from the shuttle stop to my class. I’m pretty sure I can get that far. I was afraid I’d get halfway to where I need to go, my leg would give out, and I’d be stuck. I’ve missed two weeks of school and I don’t think I can catch up. I know the grades don’t matter; I’m not working towards another degree. I’ve seen too many retired people taking classes and all they are doing is taking up a place in the class. I don’t want to be like that. I want to get as much as I can from my classes.

One of the main roads on campus is torn up. As in removed right down to the soil. I have to cross that road to get from one class to the other. I’m not looking forward to pushing a walker through an uneven, messy, wet, muddy road. I’m not looking forward to trying to get in and out of buildings that don’t have door openers. The university is asking the state for a few million dollars and one of the projects to be funded is $40,000 for a patio outside the football coach’s office. I’ve been taking classes since 2000 (I’m the poster child for the over educated) and in that time, I’ve seen only one student in a wheelchair and only one student using a walker.

If you ever need a walker, get one with a seat. I didn’t, and I’m regretting it. If I have to stand for any length of time, it sure would be helpful to have a seat on which to place my knee. My walker came last Friday. My cupholder came a few days later. That cupholder allows me to go to Starbucks by myself. Such a little thing but means so much to me. I’m used to being independent. Now, I have to wait for someone to open the door for me so I can get in and out of buildings.

We now have a collection of night lights. I got up in the middle of the night Friday night because my foot hurt and I wanted to get my TENs unit. I’m not sure how this happened. I lost my balance, went flying to the floor, banged my head on the wall, and scraped up my hand and arm. Then the lamp fell down on top of me. Jim had to rescue me. I have positional vertigo and I do what I call ear exercises. The exercises help to reset the fluid in my ears. I did my exercises after my deep tissue massage and I feel steadier. I’m not old enough to be this old.

Eating dinner at Chili’s was….interesting. The fellow who was about to seat us asked if we wanted to sit in the bar. I asked him if he saw me using a walker. He did. “Do you really think I can climb up on those stools?” If I gotta be disabled, I’ll make darned sure to educate people on how not to be stupid.

I so wanted to make something for Pi Day, March 14. But I couldn’t stand long enough to bake anything. I wanted to make decorated cookies for Hibernian Heritage Day. I’m that rare combination of Scott-Irish and Polish Jew. I can’t bring myself to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. I can celebrate Hibernian Heritage Day. I still can’t stand long enough to make cut out cookies and decorate them. No, Jim doesn’t want to bake per my instructions. He likes his own version of baking. We have a running discussion on whose oatmeal cookies are better. Jim adds chili powder. I use dried cherries rather than raisins. Adding chocolate chips is also good.

I finished another scarf. I can’t stand long enough to block it or photograph it. On this one, I played around a bit. I had worked out the lace pattern for the blue scarf, and the lace pattern on this scarf is based on the blue scarf. I kicked it up a notch.

My doctor tweaked my meds. I go from 3 mood stabilizers a day to 6. I’m supposed to add another pill each week. I go from 1 antidepressant to 2. The change left me with brain fog. Yesterday was the first day I could think clearly since I increased the doses. I’m thinking waiting two weeks rather than one week between increases will make it easier to adjust. I feel….safer now. I’m not worried about sinking into a dangerous depression or becoming suicidal. I feel….solid. Like I’m not going to fall below center.

I’m linking with Nina Marie http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com Stop by and see what other artists have been doing.

Looking for some cool, one of a kind art? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art http://www.debthumanart.com.

Posted in Baking, bipolar disorder, Depression, Fiber, Pain, PTSD, Sciatica

Some days, I just don’t feel like slaying dragons.

I can’t tell if I’m depressed or just royally pissed off. The muscles around my hips got tight enough to effect the sciatic nerve. I can’t get around without using a walker. I can’t take my vitamins because they are in a cupboard and I can’t reach them. I can get a glass out of the cupboard, but I can’t carry the glass to the sink to fill it with water. I can’t bring a drink from the kitchen to any part of the house because I need both hands to use the walker. My cupholder for the walker will arrive in a few days. 

I didn’t go to school last week because I was waiting for my walker to be delivered. I won’t be going to school this week because about 98% of the buildings are inaccessible. I only know of one restroom that’s accessible. There’s an office set up to “help” accommodate students who have disabilities. Yeah, right. The office is only to protect the university in the event of a lawsuit. Even if the office actually gave a shit about students, they couldn’t help me. I’d need someone with me all day to open doors for me. The someone would have to be a woman so I could use the restroom. The restroom by my first class has two doors. One door gets you into a sitting room. The second door gets you into where the toilets are. There isn’t a handicap stall so I would be forced to use the toilet with the stall door open.

I’ve been working on a bag to tie onto the walker so I could carry stuff. I used three placemats piled onto my cutting mat so I could iron the seams. I am not sure I can put the bag together. I need to cut out a backing, cut out batting, and sew the whole works together. But…the batting is not in the sewing room. It’s in the guest room. I bought 10 yards a few years ago so I’d always have batting when I needed it. I can’t lug the batting to the sewing room because I need two hands on the walker. I can only walk a few steps without the walker. Cutting out an 18” x 36” piece of fabric requires standing up. I can only stand on my own for a minute or two before the pain in my leg becomes unbearable.

I need to photograph a scarf I knitted so I can put the scarf in my on-line store. But I can’t get the white board out of the closet and get it over to the sliding glass door and I can’t stand up while I focus the camera. This is the best I can do…and it’s not very good.

So much of my life right now is restricted. I see the world in terms of what I can’t do. I can’t make the bed. I can’t change the sheets. I can’t do laundry. I can’t put away my clothes after Jim washes them. I can’t stand while brushing my teeth or blowing my hair dry. I can’t bake because I can’t get the mixer or the ingredients out of the pantry.

My appointment with my doctor arrived before my walker was delivered. I got as far as the reception area where I could check in and doubled over from the pain. I think I may have traumatized the poor woman who asked if I was all right. No, I’m not all right. She offered to get me a wheelchair. Did you know that driving a wheelchair is a whole lot harder than it looks? I found that out real fast.

I can’t.

I can’t.

I can’t.

I found videos on Youtube for exercises to help with the pain of sciatica. The exercises work. I had a deep tissue massage yesterday and that helped. I have rice bags that I made. I put them in the microwave, then wrap the hot bags in a dishtowel. I put the bags under my right hip and right calf. That helps. I thought when we had the house built that a ledge in the shower was luxury. I thought it would only be used when I shave my legs. Now, I sit on that luxurious ledge in order to take a shower. Jim put a chair in the bathroom so I could brush my teeth and dry my hair.

Still, even with all the help, I can’t do so many things. I can’t fix myself a cup of tea and bring it into my office because I need both hands on my walker. I can’t fix myself a bagel and bring it into my office because I need both hands on my walker. I can’t cook because I can’t get ingredients out of the pantry. I can’t open a can of soup and nuke it. I can get up to nuking it if I can reach the proper size container, but I can’t carry my soup to the table.

This misery came about after two major depressive episodes within three weeks. The pain started last Sunday and got worse over the next few days. My doctor tweaked my meds with the hope that the new doses will keep the depressive episodes away.

I never let bipolar disorder or PTSD stop me from doing what I want to do. I almost never run from my PTSD triggers. The two exceptions are a series on Amazon Prime that deals with treatment of veterans who have PTSD. I could see a problem starting as we watched the show. Fortunately, the show sucked and we switched the channel before I had an attack. The other time I ran was watching the news. I couldn’t bear to hear a teenager express her admiration of her parents because they got her help when she was suicidal. I had to mute the TV.

I’ve never run from bipolar disorder.

Mental illness never kept me down. My sciatic nerve is keeping me from doing nearly all the things I want to do. 

That’s why I don’t feel like slaying dragons today.

I’m linking with Nina Marie http://ninamariesayre.blogspot.com Stop by and see what other artists are doing.

Looking for one of a kind art? Please stop by my store Deb Thuman Art http://www.debthumanart.com

Posted in bipolar disorder, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography

Photos, Meds, And Secrets

More med adjustment. Wellbutrin is now replaced by Cymbalta. The point of Cymbalta is to relieve the neuropathy pain. It’s an antidepressant which, for some odd reason, helps with nerve pain. Sort of. It sort of helps me. I’m still having to take gabapentin and still having to sleep with a TENS unit attached to me. Cymbalta is acting like Prozac. I can only take it every other day and I have no appetite. The no appetite part is difficult because I have to take antibiotics for another week and I have to take them with food.

I make no secret about being bipolar, and I’m finding people who have mental illnesses are willing to ask me about medication. While I don’t mind the questions, I do mind that these people are firmly in the closet. I never have and never will out anyone. Still, the stigma of mental illness isn’t going to go away until we all come out of the closet. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 26% of the population in the US has a diagnosed mental illness. This doesn’t count the number of people who haven’t been diagnosed. The next time you are in a room with 4 or more people, do the math. I’m in a class with 20 other students. Per the math, at least 4 other students have a mental illness. We are everywhere. Even if you aren’t aware of our mental illnesses, we are everywhere.

Jim and I did some hiking during spring break and went to Bosque del Apache on the “spring holiday.” Spring holiday is the politically correct version of Good Friday. Oddly, the spring holiday falls on Good Friday every year. Funny how that happens.

I bought a new lens for the Canon. Tamron 18-400mm. I wanted an all-in-one lens because changing lenses in the field when one is in a desert is not a good thing to do. Sand, dirt, dust, and crud aren’t good things to have inside your camera. I also didn’t want to schlep lenses every time I go hiking. The more I use this lens, the more I like this lens. Jim kept borrowing my camera so I have no idea who took what shots. Here’s the best of the lot.

Jim and I did some hiking at Aguirre Springs and White Sands during spring break and went to Bosque del Apache on the “spring holiday.” Spring holiday is the politically correct version of Good Friday. Oddly, the spring holiday falls on Good Friday every year. Funny how that happens.

Aguirre Springs.

Aguire Springs 14

East side of the Organ Mountains. Aguirre Springs 7

Bunny Ears of the Organ Mountains.

White Sands National MonumentWhite Sands 1

Where the white gypsum sand meets the desert. The white part in the middle is a dry lake. White Sands 3

It’s amazing how much grows on the white sand which is really powdered gypsum.

White Sands 7

Once vegetation takes root, the dune becomes solid.

Bosque del Apache.

Bosque del Apache 1 3-31-18Bosque del Apache 3Bosque del Apache 4 3-31-18 Cropped

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.   Stop by and see what other artists are doing.

Looking for a one-of-a-kind gift? Please visit my online store, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Emotions, Grief, Pain

Maybe I’m Headed Back To Normal

I thought it was just situational depression. Fearing that a nerve conduction study would show that I’m going to have to spend the rest of my life in pain is depressing. There’s a logical reason for the depression. I knew I was suicidal, and I told people about wanting to kill myself. I told Jim and a friend how I planned on killing myself. Hold the pistol about an inch to the left of my breast bone, use hollow point ammunition, and squeeze the trigger. Fast and lethal. When I went for my nerve conduction study, I had to fill out pages and pages of information. I detailed, for an entire page, that I was suicidal, that I had a plan for killing myself, and that I had brought Jim with me in case I needed someone to talk me out of buying bullets on the way home. I formulated a plan for dealing with the police who I was sure would be called. I’d remain calm, I’d be sure not to do or say anything that could possible be construed as a threat to others thereby ensuring that if I didn’t want to go to a hospital, and I didn’t, the police would need a court order to take me to a hospital. Court orders take time. I was pretty sure I’d have about an hour in which to disappear if necessary.

I had a great plan.

No one talked to Jim about me. No one called the police. No one asked me about being suicidal. Probably because no one read the damn paperwork.

I have two bad days a year, April 1 and June 24. April 1 was my late sister’s birthday. June 24 is the anniversary of her death. April 1 is approaching and I’m depressed. My mother, a horrible narcissist, decreed that no one tell me my sister was sick or that she had died. I only knew because a friend saw the obit and called to ask how I was doing. Some years are better than others. I assumed this wasn’t one of the better years. There’s a logical reason for the depression. It would pass after April 1. I just had to wait a few days and the depression would be gone.

Since March 6, 2012, the day after finally being accurately diagnosed bipolar, I had been on both a mood stabilizer and an antidepressant. After the Lexapro and lithium stopped working, I came off them one at a time. I went through withdrawal, then saw my doctor. She prescribed Wellbutrin and Lamictal. I was on the best set of psych meds I’d ever been on.

I started having problems right after the inauguration last year. I was sure the problems were situational. We have a president who brags about being a sex offender. I went into the second worst manic episode I’ve ever had. I tried increasing the Wellbutrin, but that gave me hallucinations. Or maybe there really was a tiny bug pushing a huge dust bunny along the bathroom wall. Backed off on the Wellbutrin and increased the Lamictal. That worked. Once the crisis had passed, I went back to my regular dosage. Problem solved.

Except it wasn’t solved. I started having hallucinations last August and made the decision to come off Wellbutrin. Hallucinations are a good reason to suspect you’re either on the wrong medication or on the wrong dose. I went through 12 weeks of withdrawal which was not only miserable for me, it was miserable for anyone who had the misfortune to be around me.

I thought that because I am retired and no longer working in a hostile, hateful, stressful, and downright miserable environment, perhaps I could get by with just a mood stabilizer. My doctor agreed with my decision. She knows I’ll be back if I’m wrong.

Yesterday afternoon, I realized the depression wasn’t situational. It was permanent. It was a part of my mental illness. I cried because I was depressed. I cried because I felt like a failure for needing to go back on antidepressants. I grew up in a family where seeing a therapist was worse than walking naked into McDonalds at noon. A household run by drunks has one inviolate rule: Don’t tell. I was a failure. I would always be a failure.

In the midst of this, I realized I need to go back on antidepressants. I found my supply of Wellbutrin, cut a pill in half, and took it. Within two hours, I had a complete personality transformation.

I will continue to take a half pill a day and see how this works. I’ve been on a number of antidepressants, and needed to come off every one of them. I came off Effexor when I hung onto the living room wall to keep the universe from spinning out of control. I came off Paxil when I realized that I could not continue living as I was living. Take my Paxil dose, things are fine, then I was out of control and the dose had to be raised. Again and again. I came off Lexapro when my meds stopped working and I was bouncing off the ceiling. After coming off Lexapro, I looked in the mirror and wondered when I had gotten so grossly overweight. I looked around the house and wondered when it had gotten so cluttered. I looked and the clothes I had been wearing to work and wondered whatever possessed me to wear such outfits.

I didn’t gain weight on Wellbutrin. I lost weight although not enough to get down to a healthy weight. I wore normal clothes. I cleaned the bathroom although I’ve still got clutter I want to remove.

When I go back on medication, I go back down the rabbit hole. Again. I enter a cycle that can’t be broken or altered. I enter med adjustment which lasts about 6 months. Then I am in the eye of the hurricane and my life is under control. Then the meds stop working – all psych meds eventually stop working – and I enter med hell. I stay there until I am sure I cannot stay there any longer. Then I enter withdrawal which lasts a minimum of 6 weeks and up to 12 weeks. I long for the ease of heroine withdrawal where all that’s required is puking and pooping for three days. I am forced to repeat this cycle until I die.

To those who reached out to me after my last, depressing, suicidal blog post, thank you. You will never know and I cannot express how much you helped.

On an artistic note….I finished the nerve quilt. And I’m working on a design for the next nerve quilt. While this quilt is about frustration, the next quilt is about healing. I’m getting there. It’s just going to take longer than I want.

Nerve Quilt 1 3-19-18

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. checkout what other artists have been doing.

Want to see the art I have for sale? Check out my website: Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in Baking, Beads, Cognitive problems, Emotions, Fiber, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography

The Coffee Cake Cupcakes Were Good

I’m doing better, but it was a horrible week. I had a nerve conduction study on Tuesday. I wasn’t afraid of what it would show; I was terrified of what it wouldn’t show. If the study showed tarsal tunnel, I’d be fine. That can be corrected surgically. If the study showed it wasn’t tarsal tunnel, I’d be stuck being in pain with not relief.

When the neuropathy flares, the pain routinely hits 7. The last time, it was bad enough that suicide looked like a good idea. I even planned out how I would do it. I’ve got a .22 calibre pistol. The advantage of a .22 is that it bounces around inside and cases more damage than a 9mm. I figured I’d use hollow point ammunition. Hollow point bullets are designed to flare upon impact and damage more tissue. If I held the pistol about an inch to the left of my breast bone, I’d be sure to blow a nasty, as opposed to nice, hole in my heart. I figured I’d have only one shot at killing myself and I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to survive this shot. Naturally I’d do this outside so Jim wouldn’t be stuck cleaning up a mess in the house. Then I came up with a better idea. I’d go back to the neurology clinic at University of New Mexico and tell whatever neurologist was handy that I was tired of being ignored, I was tired of neurologists refusing to find out why I’m in pain and I was tired of being handed yet another prescription for yet another useless drug. So, if you can’t be bothered listening, let me put this in words you won’t be able to ignore. Bang. Why should Jim have to clean up any of the mess? Maybe, just maybe, one of those genius neurologists would start to listen to patients. And if not, at least I wouldn’t be in pain any more. I would just have to remember to tell Jim not to accept my body. Let the state pay for the cremation.

That scared the shit out of me.

The closer it got to the nerve conduction study, the more anxiety I had, the more depression I had, and the more terrified I was that I was going to have to commit suicide. I had Jim come to the appointment with me in case I needed him to talk me out of buying bullets on the way home.

One of the ways I deal with anxiety is to cook or to make art. I found a recipe for sourdough coffee cake and made coffee cake cupcakes. I brought them to my neurobiology class on Tuesday morning. The class enjoyed them. Then I started working on a quilt. More about the quilt in a few paragraphs.

When I got to the doctor’s office Tuesday afternoon, I filled out a good dozen pages of history and information. I had to list my allergies on at least three pages. I had to answer how much I agreed or disagreed with a list of statements.

“I enjoy talking to attractive people.” I wrote: You’ve got to be kidding me.

I spent an entire page writing about being suicidal and having a working plan for killing myself. I warned Jim that someone would probably be talking to him about me being suicidal. I expected to be sequestered in a room and have a police officer come in and try to convince me to go to a hospital. There are three ways to get someone into a mental hospital. Voluntarily go; commitment by court order; or if the person has committed an offense for which the person could be arrested, the police could take the person to a mental hospital for a mental exam without order of the court.

Under no circumstances would I voluntarily go to a mental hospital. I’ve visited friends inside of locked wards. They all have a glassy expression, talked like they were underwater, and shuffled when they walked. No thanks. I don’t need more drugs.

A court order takes time and I knew I couldn’t be held in a room against my will. I could get up and walk out of the doctor’s office. I knew I had to be extremely careful not to do or say anything that could be construed as a threat against another person.

So what happened? Nothing. No one talked to Jim. No one asked me about being suicidal. I doubt anyone read a word I wrote.

I told the doctor, a pain management specialist, that I wanted to be able to see the monitor during testing. So he told me about his experience. Somewhere in there, I mentioned I have an undergrad degree in biology. Unfortunately, I was facing the wall when he asked, “Are you a neurophysiologist?” “No. I’m an attorney.” I would have loved to see his expression.

I did get to see the graphs for a number of the tests. Because of my neurobiology class, I had a pretty good idea what I was looking at and I could keep up with the medical terminology. The tests showed a lowered amplitude on the action potential. Translated: the electrical impulse in my nerve wasn’t as strong as expected. I have a slower velocity than expected. Translated: the impulse travels down my nerve axon slower than “normal.” The tests also showed there had been problems with the axons connecting to my leg muscles, but I had grown new axons to take the place of the defective axons. That’s nerve regeneration and it does happen.

My nerves are dead or dying and this isn’t going to get better. Fortunately, I was too depressed to be suicidal. Yes, there are levels of depression so deep that one would have to feel better to commit suicide.

The pain management specialist said he had no way to treat me. That’s okay. I would never let this guy treat me. I told him the only reliable pain killer was making art. He tried telling me that was a diversion. No, this isn’t like Lamaze. The pain stays gone after I stop making art. I don’t think he liked hearing that. It’s tough to make money prescribing art.

I did some thinking the next day.  I realized I don’t have dead nerves. I know this because I felt every one of those impulses. Then I did some research. Then on Thursday I had a chat with my neurobiology teacher. I had some of the amplitude problem figured out although I had the wrong ion. I had the velocity figured out, although the problem might not be as bad as I thought. I looked at the results of blood work done in December. I remembered what my primary care doctor told me.

The blood work showed a mild potassium deficiency and my triglyceride level is way higher than it should be. My chiropractor told me that peripheral neuropathy is a metabolic problem. The potassium deficiency at least contributes to the neuropathy. I had been monitoring my blood glucose levels and keeping a food diary. My primary care doctor told me that the glucose levels are indicating a problem. I’m not diabetic or even pre-diabetic. My doctor told me that if I continue to monitor my glucose levels and learn what foods to avoid, keep exercising and keep losing weight, the triglyceride level should go down to normal. So that’s what I’ve been doing. My nerves have already proven they will regenerate. I’m hoping that fixing the potassium deficiency will reverse the neuropathy.

Here’s the quilt I’ve been working on. I have finished putting the beads on the dendrites. I’m working on quilting it. I’m quilting by hand around the dendrites and the axon. I’ll be quilting the graph for a healthy action potential on the quilt. The axon has vesicles containing neurotransmitters and one vesicle releasing neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are how nerves communicate with each other. Note that the neurotransmitters aren’t being accepted by any of the receptors (beads) on the dendrites.

IMG_5418IMG_5422

The working polite title is: Damn it, LISTEN to me.

The real title, which would keep this piece from ever being accepted into any quilt show on the planet, is: Get back here motherfucker, sit the fuck down and LISTEN TO ME.

I’m no longer suicidal. I’m working on getting healthier.

I got a new lens for the Canon. It’s a Tamron 18-400mm zoom telephoto. I’ve tested it out and I love this lens. It gives me way sharper shots than I was getting with a generic 75-300mm zoom telephoto. I even get sharp macro shots at 400mm. I went out to Soledad Canyon to do some shooting yesterday. My brain is still messed up from all the anxiety – anxiety that was worse than I had when I took a bar exam. I forgot my phone. I forgot I had used a custom white balance and neglected to switch back to automatic white balance. I’m shocked that the colors came out right. I forgot I had used exposure compensation and many of the shots are badly over exposed. At first, I thought there was a problem with autofocus. Nope. Autofocus is nearly silent.

Soledad Canyon 6 3-16-18Soledad Canyon 5 3-16-18Soledad Canyon 4 -16-18

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Take a look at what other artists have done this week.

Looking for a one-of-a-kind gift? Please check out my store, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in Beads, Fiber, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Quilts

Listen To Me

I love my neurobiology class. I signed up for the class because I wanted to understand the peripheral neuropathy in my feet. I still don’t understand what’s happening in my feet, but I’m learning a ton of intriguing stuff.

I learned that the writers of the series Homeland screwed up when they wrote about the effects of sarin gas. I knew they screwed up because if the story line were accurate, the antidote for sarin would have guaranteed the person died. It’s good to know stuff like this. I did some research and asked my teacher if I had figured out the mistake right. For the most part, I had. I missed when I assumed a particular medical reaction, but I was right with the rest of it.

I learned that when a vesicle binds with a receptor, the cell membrane expands. In order to keep the cell the original size, a piece of membrane has to be removed. The process is remarkably like sewing a dart. That caused my brain to start working on quilt designs. I wasn’t happy with what I was sketching, so I started playing with lines and color. Much more satisfying, but not something I could turn into a quilt unless I wanted to spend several months hand sewing curved pieces. Which I don’t want to do.

Meanwhile, my primary care doctor noticed that no one had looked for tarsal tunnel syndrome. That’s the ankle version of carpal tunnel syndrome. I subsequently discovered that was one of the first things the eight neurologists I had seen should have checked. I’m furious. I’ve been in pain for five years. I’ve told all eight of these neurologists that I wanted whatever was wrong with my feet fixed. Find the cause, treat the cause, and the nerves regenerate. They smiled at me and handed me a prescription for useless drugs. I have another nerve conduction study scheduled for next Tuesday. If the problem is tarsal tunnel – and the nerve conduction study will answer that question – then the problem can be easily fixed surgically.

Anger and fascination merged. I want a quilt that says how furious I am, how frustrated I am, and how downright pissed off I am. I want a quilt that speaks with words a neurologist can understand. The working title is: Damn it, LISTEN to me.

Nerve Quilt use this one 3-9-18

It’s a dendrite with receptors and an axon with an axon terminal. Briefly, the axon terminal (green piece) contains the neurotransmitters in vesicles and the vesicles bind to a receptor on the dendrite (blue piece). When the neurotransmitters are released there’s a chemical communication between the nerve cells. Axons and dendrites are contained on the same neuron. I’m only showing part of two neurons here. I’m the axon and the dendrite is the eight neurologists too arrogant to listen to me. I’m pretty satisfied with the design but I want to do a little tweaking with the axon. I think it would be better if it curved more. Yes, there will be beads. Beads for receptors and beads for neurotransmitters. I need to work out what colors I want to use for the background, dendrite and axon. I haven’t decided if I want the dendrite to be darker than the axon. I know I want the axon to be bright and colorful. I’ve got a batik for the axon in mind that I think will work. Perhaps a darker, more muted batik for the dendrites. Then I have to figure out the background color. I’m trying not to rely on off-white or black. Something that would be surprising and unexpected would be nice.

Do these beads make my dendrite look fat?

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by her blog and see what other artists have been working on.

If you’re looking for a gift or for something special for yourself, please stop by my on-line store, Deb Thuman Art here..

Posted in Beads, Fiber, Jewelry, Pain, Photography, Quilts

It’s Not Called Art Therapy For Nothing

I’m getting my energy back s-l-o-w-l-y. The infection is now gone and I don’t miss it. I’m still furious that tarsal tunnel, the ankle version of carpal tunnel, wasn’t ruled out 5 years ago. That should have been one of the first things any of the 8 neurologists looked for. But it’s so much more profitable to pat me on the head, smile when I say I want to know what’s causing the pain, and hand me another prescription for another drug that doesn’t work well. I have a nerve conduction study done on March 13. This time, I want to ask if there’s a way I can be positioned so I can see the computer monitor. I’ve now got a pretty good idea what those graphs mean and I want to see what’s going on inside of me.

I had been sleeping on the sofa because that was the only way I could keep the TENs unit attached to me while I sleep. I toss and turn which pulls the leads out of the dermatodes. There’s no room to toss and turn on the sofa so the leads stayed attached. Either I keep the TENs unit attached all night or I’m up in severe pain after a couple hours. I discovered that if I wear fleece socks, the leads don’t come unattached. This means I can sleep in my bed again. And I can use my CPAP machine which I can’t use in the living room. The outlets aren’t in the right places.

Armed with coupons and knowing fleece was on sale, I went to JoAnn’s in search of fleece that stretched in at least one direction. Some fleece will stretch, some won’t. I picked out five fleece fabrics and bought a yard of each. I’m using a Green Pepper pattern. The big thing is to make sure I’ve got the pattern pieces oriented so the stretch is in the proper direction. I finally found my ribbing so I used that for the cuffs.

Socks 4 3-4-18Socks 3-4-18Socks 2 3-4-17Socks 1 3-4-18Better black socks 3-4-18

The other day in my neurobiology class, the teacher was explaining how when the vesicle in the axon terminal binds to the receptor on the dendrite, the cell membrane gets larger. This requires a bit of the cell membrane to be removed from the side of the terminal. Ah ha! It’s like sewing a dart! And that’s when the designs started flowing.

Nerve quilt 1 3-4-18Nerve quilt 2 3-4-18Nerve qilt 3 3-4-18

Then, I took a little walk through my brain.

A walk through my brain 3-4-18

I’ve also been working on jewelry.

Necklace 2 3-4-18Necklace 1 3-4-18

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Please stop by and see what other artists are doing.

Looking for a gift? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in Fiber, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography, Sexual Assault Is Wrong

I Need A Nap

I’m exhausted and stuck in a circle. I had pain in my feet so I couldn’t sleep. That lowered my resistance and I developed an infection. Then I couldn’t sleep because I had pain in my feet. Then I did some research on the nerve conduction series I had done and discovered the paperwork I had only said: the observed results are equal to or less than the expected results. I was so angry that I had difficulty breathing. Then I read the two stories assigned for my writing class. One was about date rape. The second about gang rape. Then I had an allergy attack and needed to take a decongestant which prevented me from sleeping for 40 hours. Then I went to my doctor, got put on antibiotics and discovered I’m not pre diabetic – not even close. She gave me a referral for an orthopedic surgeon because the pain in my feet may be from the ankle version of carpal tunnel syndrome. Then I decided I was too upset about the stories that tried to portray rape as simply “guy behavior” and it’s not necessary to get upset about it.  Then I decided I couldn’t stomach going to class. Then I discovered that the ankle tunnel syndrome should have been the first thing that was checked for when I started seeing doctors about the pain in my feet. If I just spent the last five years in hell because someone forgot to check the obvious, I’m going to be beyond furious. Then I filed a formal complaint of sexual harassment against my writing teacher.

And now, I’m exhausted. I will be unprepared for my neurobiology class on Tuesday. I don’t have the energy to read the text book. I tried yesterday, but nothing I read stuck in my head.

I dyed sports bras yesterday. Jim helped. I tried to figure out how much dye to put In each bucket and miscalculated. I used twice as much dye as I needed. The colors are BRIGHT. The sports bras are now in my store, Deb Thuman Art,  here.

Ivory BraWatermelon Bra 2-25-18Peach bra 2-25-18Parakeet bra 2-25-18Orchid bra 2-25-18Blue Bra 2-25-18

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.  Stop by and check out what other artists have been doing.

Posted in Baking, Jewelry, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy

Coming Up Radishes

My feet hurt. I’m sleeping in two-hour blocks because that’s about how long it takes for the pain to be bad enough that I can’t sleep. To be able to get any sleep, I need to use my TENS unit. I was sleeping on the sofa. I toss and turn in my sleep and if I sleep in bed, the tossing and turning pulls the leads out from the dermatodes. I can’t toss and turn on the sofa. I also can’t sleep well on the sofa because I can’t use my CPAP. Yes, getting older sometimes sucks. Then I discovered that my fleece socks will hold the lead ends still enough that I can sleep in bed. This is good although it has taken me two days to recover from the exhaustion I’ve been feeling.

My neurobiology class is on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and I’ve been having a manic episode. Medicated manic episodes feature me cooking. Must….make…..King…..Cake……. So I decided to make King Cake for the class on Mardi Gras. Not wanting to bother with paper plates, knives and such, I decided to make King Cake cupcakes. I had never made a King Cake before, so this was an experiment. King Cake is a sweet, yeast dough and has a filling. The recipe from King Arthur Flour  here calls for a cream cheese filling.

I could have followed the recipe exactly, but what fun would that be? I added minced lime peel and lime powder to the dough and used coconut flour rather than all purpose flour in the filling. Yes, I made a cocktail King Cake.

I made the dough in the bread machine. When the dough was done, I cut the dough into halves and cut each half into 24 pieces. I put a piece on the bottom of each cupcake paper. Then I made filling and put a lump of filling on each cupcake bottom. There was way more filling than needed for 24 cupcakes, so I had to make another batch of dough for a King Cake loaf. Then I put a top on each cupcake and made another batch of dough.

The cupcakes, which weren’t supposed to double in bulk, rose to great heights. Putting bottoms and tops around filling isn’t a great idea. I had filling spilling out of cupcakes. I baked them anyway. Except the oven was too small for all four cupcake containers and I had to use the convection part of the microwave oven to bake two of the containers.

Meanwhile, the second batch of dough was finished. I put a bottom layer of dough in the bread pan, spread filling on the dough, and smooshed down the top layer of dough. This batch also rose to great heights.

Once all the cakes were done and cooled, I made frosting. I used plain frosting for the cupcakes. I don’t like adding alcohol when I’m giving away baked goods. One never knows who might be adversely effected and I wanted everyone to be able to enjoy the cupcakes.

King Cake Cupcakes

For the loaf, I used rum in place of milk in the frosting. Just in case you ever need to know this, adding a shot of rum to two cups of confectioner’s sugar is overkill.

King Cake Loaf

Then I had to pack the cupcakes into an oversized, cake carrier.

I spent Monday night in pain and got maybe four hours’ sleep. I had Jim drive me to class. I was stoned on gabapentin, which wasn’t doing much for the pain, and needed to use my hiking stick to be able to walk from the car to my class. People are real nice to you when you are wearing sunglasses, using a hiking stick, wearing a backpack and carrying an oversized cake carrier.

Although they were weird looking, the Mardi Gras King Cake cupcakes were enjoyed.

I’ve discovered the only thing that reliably kills the pain is art. So I’m making lots of beaded jewelry. Yes, there will be photos eventually. I’m wondering, though. I’m considering trying Cymbalta to combat the pain. But…..it’s addictive, I just got my brain back after coming off Wellbutrin and I’m not looking forward to brain fog, and if Cymbalta doesn’t work, or stops working, it will take me a minimum of 6 weeks of withdrawal to get off the stuff.

Meanwhile, I’ve started the garden. The radishes, in the ceramic planter, came up first. I’ve not got a few tomato plants up, some peppers peeking through the soil, and a few sensitivity plants up.

Radishes

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other artists are doing.

Looking for a one-of-a-kind gift? Please stop by my store Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in Emotions, Jewelry, Pain, Peripheral neuropathy, Photography, PTSD

Art And Other Stuff

I got up early on Wednesday to shoot the eclipse. I had good and not so good results. I was able to shoot the eclipse until only a tiny slice of moon was left. I wanted to shoot the rest of the eclipse, but the moon fell behind clouds then set behind the mountains.

Eclipse 1A 1-31-18 Use this oneEclipse 2 1-31-18Eclipse 3 1-31-18Eclipse 6 1-31-18Eclipse 8 1-31-18

I’ve been making more jewelry. I had ordered a new supply of beads and I’ve been playing with designs. These are all in my store, Deb Thuman Art. I’ve got these and a number of other pieces sale priced for Valentine’s Day. Shipping is included in the price.

Purple peacock earrings

Glass peacock feather earrings.

Oblong green earrings

African opal and glass.

Heart earrings 1 2-2-18

Brass hearts.

Green peacock earrings

Glass peacock feather earrings.

Green glass earrings

Recycled green glass earrings.

I’ve been having severe pain in my feet this week. I had to miss my neurobiology class on Thursday because I can’t function on three hours sleep. I love that class, but I had been frustrated by all the emphasis on the brain. I’ve got pain in my feet, my brain is just dandy. Or is it? I’ve been reading Childhood Interrupted. In the book, the authors mention healing neural pathways in the brain. The theory is that once the brain is healed, then the other diseases will also heal. I know there’s a mind/body interaction. I know that PTSD causes physical changes in the brain – changes that can be healed and reversed. Perhaps the real reason I was drawn to take neurobiology has nothing to do with my feet but rather with healing old wounds. Gabapentin doesn’t cure peripheral neuropathy or even halt the progression of the nerve damage. What it does is more or less stop the pain. Sometimes. Other times, it just leaves me stoned and walking into walls.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.  Stop by and see what other artists have been doing.

Looking for a special gift for the special person in your life? Check out the Valentine’s Day Special in my store here.

Posted in Beads, Fiber, Pain, Photography

Making Some Changes and a Messenger Bag

We took a little vacation this past week. The original plan was to go up to Albuquerque, spend a day at Bosque del Apache wildlife preserve, a day in Albuquerque and a day in Santa Fe.

We drove up on Monday, and stopped at Bosque del Apache so I could do some bird and critter photography. Mostly bird. I learned a few things. It’s tough to get a decent bird in flight photo. A telephoto lens doesn’t do what I thought. I still had little birds in a big pond. I had to crop like crazy to get a half-decent shot. My telephoto doesn’t have image stabilization which makes it just about impossible to use without a tripod. And it’s just about impossible to use a tripod to photograph birds. Even on the ground, birds move fast.

Cranes 1 1-8-18Seriously cropped crane 1-18-18

Sandhill cranes.

Reflections 1-8-18

I couldn’t resist an artsy shot. The water was dead still and the sun was in the perfect position to catch this reflection.

Duck 1 1-8-18Swimming ducks 2 1-8-18

No idea what kind of ducks these are.

I did see a bald eagle – the first I’ve ever seen in the wild. I took a shot that I knew would be crappy. I wasn’t about to leave with out a shot – even if I would be the only one who knew it was of an eagle.

Bald Eagle 1-8-18

Note the details on the eagle’s feathers. That’s okay – I can’t see it either.

Canada geese look different in the southwest. I’m used to the northeast version with much darker coloring.

Canada Geese 1-8-18

 

Cropped flight 1-8-18

My only decent cranes in flight shot – and it’s not that great.

I’m now researching zoom telephoto lenses. I want something with decent glass and image stabilization. At the moment, I’m looking at Tamron lenses. I’ve heard good things about those lenses.

We skipped Santa Fe. Driving in the old part of the city is a challenge. The streets are narrow and lots of one-way streets. Parking is expensive. The newer part of Santa Fe looks pretty much like Albuquerque.

I did get to go to a gem store and replenish my semi-precious gem supply. I saw a magnificent string of yellow opals full of fire and sparkle. Unfortunately, the string cost $1800 which is well outside my budget.

I had forgotten to pack the gabapentin, which sometimes helps with the neuropathy pain. All I had with me was the TENS unit and CBD oil – something that also sometimes helps. By Wednesday morning, I was in enough pain that we decided to head for home. A winter storm was blowing in and I can’t see spending money to sit in a hotel room and watch it snow. Few people in New Mexico know how to drive in snow. Being on the road with inexperienced winter drivers is to be avoided whenever possible. We got home ahead of the storm.

My A1C test shows I’m in the pre-diabetes range. I need to make some serious changes in my eating and exercising habits. I bought a glucose monitor kit and I’m now keeping a log of glucose results and food. I want to see which foods will cause glucose spikes and which won’t.

I made vegetarian chicken soup today. As I cut up the carrots, I thought about how I need to eat more vegetables. As I cut up the celery, I thought about how I need to eat more vegetables. As I added peas, I thought about how I need to eat more vegetables. As I added the corn, I thought about how I need to eat more vegetables. As I added the can of chopped tomatoes, I thought about how I need to eat more vegetables. At that point, there was no room left in the 4-quart slow cooker for the chicken, which went back into the freezer. Jim and I will be eating this soup all week.

I’m working on a messenger bag. I thought I had designed it to hold my iPad Pro. I’ve got the 12.9″ version. Now that I’m putting the bag together, I think I might have made a miscalculation and it will be a touch too small. Nothing to do but keep on going and finish it. I’m putting a zippered pocket on the flap, a zippered pocket on the back, an welt pocket on the inside, and two zippered pockets on the inside.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what other artists have been doing.

If you’re looking for a gift, or want to give yourself something nice, please stop by my web store, Deb Thuman Art here. Thanks.