Winter Is Coming

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I am trying to think positively about winter this year. Winter has usually meant pain for me and being house bound more than outside. This year I have decided to think more positively about winter. How? Let me tell you…

I enjoy crafts. Many different crafts. Instead of being in dread of winter, I am going to focus on my crafts and the things I can do with them. For example, I have a new sewing machine. I want to get back into quilting again. It has been a long time but I am truly excited to think about doing some more quilts.

I also enjoy scrapbooking. I have a bunch of pictures needing to be scrapped and I plan on putting good use to them this winter. I also need to print out new ones to scrap as well.

I crochet too. Nothing fancy like my sister does, but I have a queen size blanket I have been working on for several years now and I can work on it as time permits. I like to crochet while listening to a program on tv. Time passes quickly and more rows are added with hardly any effort. I also want to try making fingerless gloves for me for winter. My sister made me a pair and I am modeling them after the one she made for me.

I am also planning on working on my skill set of self sustaining skills. I love several you tubers who have helped me to learn about gardening, canning, and homesteading. Just keeping my mind open to new things keeps me from stagnating over winter. Plus, it gives me new ideas for spring! For instance, I already have a diagram of my garden for next year based on information I learned from this years garden.

At some point in winter, I will start my seeds for next years garden. I am learning the skill of seed saving so that next year I can grow plants from this years plants. Cilantro anyone? I have saved seeds from beans, tomatoes, cilantro, peppers, onions and I could go on. I will be growing potatoes next year too along with garlic and more onions. I will grow what we eat.

In closing, I always viewed winter with dread. However, thanks to thinking positively, I am now looking forward to the season and all the exciting things it holds in store! What are some positive things you look forward to?

 

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Cooler Temperatures

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Seasons are changing here in the bluegrass state and I am feeling the effects. I love autumn and the beauty of this area as the trees begin changing colors and the birds are flying south for the winter.

I am in the process of clearing the plants from my garden and preparing the soil for next year. My compost heap is doing really well and I have some really good dirt for next years garden. I planted carrots and spinach in my fall garden and they are doing nicely.

The nights are cooler and the hot tub feels good. I love sitting in it watching the stars in the night sky. I tell you, the hot tub is a blessing to me. It truly helps my generalized overall pain this time of year brings. I have found that my body feels the change of seasons, from winter to spring and from summer to fall, the most. Do any of you feel these changes as well?

I love this season though. There are so many ways to see our Creators hand in the beauty surrounding us. I feel blessed to live where I do. We get people who come here for the fall colors because they are so beautiful. The Red River Gorge area gets a lot of folks coming this time of year. Many people like Natural Bridge too. The natural unique beauty of this area is amazing, but I guess that is why I like it so much.

So, enjoy your beauty around you during this season changing time.  Take time to appreciate all things in nature. It truly does help to reflect a more positive feeling and keep our pain from overwhelming us. Hope this finds you all as pain free as possible!

 

Hurricane pain?

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Do you live in the path of one of the hurricanes that have struck the US recently? Has your pain increased as they approach your area?

I have been wondering about this. You see, I get barometric migraines when storms approach. I also get pain in my joints. I do not live in an area that gets these massive storms. I live in Kentucky, USA. Here in the mountains, the storms we get tend to be your run of the mill thunderstorms and snow.

Anyway, I was just wanting to hear from you all about how these storms impact your lupus. Please share. Thanks!

It was the Best of Times…

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I have had so much going on around here lately. Most of it is good, with a sprinkling of not so good in the mix. I stated in my last post how much better I am feeling since weaning off most of my medicines and going to supplements and dietary changes. The result so far is really amazing. I feel as close to “normal” as I have in years. I am outdoors gardening most days. I wear my hat and garden in the morning to avoid the worst of the sun and heat. I have a chair to sit in if needed. I am just amazed at how much “earthing” is helping me as well.

Earthing is the term that covers getting dirty, walking barefoot in the grass, and basically just touching the earth. No shoes. Natural. There is even a web page about earthing. I have copied from their page the following:

“Being isolated from the Earth by non-conductive materials such as rubber and plastic (our shoes), wood, plastic, laminate, and asphalt (flooring surfaces).

See what happens when we

ConnectWITH THE EARTH

When we re-connect with the Earth, balance is restored!

Animated illustration FPOWhen we make direct contact with the surface of the Earth our bodies receive a charge of energy that makes us feel better, fast.”

From http://www.earthing.com

I didn’t know about this until recently.  I have always been a barefoot type of person. Shoes are confining to me. However, gardening barefoot and weeding, planting and reaping combined have helped me. If you add the supplements into the picture, well, I have felt alive again. For years I have been on so many medications, as you lupus folks know for sure, and up to fourteen at one time. I was taking medications to counteract other medications. It had become like the proverbial hamster running on his wheel. I was getting no better. I was reclusive and stayed home most days.

My paradigm has shifted now, and it started with weaning off my medications, with the exception of two. I use my hands in the dirt, with dirt under my fingernails most days. I walk barefoot while in the garden as long as I am not using a tool which could hurt me. I now have a compost pile. I am learning about gardening techniques. I have harvested quite a bit from my garden and have either given it away, canned it, dehydrated it or used it.

I have canned spaghetti sauce, salsa, pickles, tomato juice, stewed tomatoes, banana peppers, and zucchini pickles. I went to Ohio last week with my car loaded down with jars of stuff for my kids and grandkids. I came home with four empty jars which were consumed by them. My family loves pickles. I dehydrated zucchini chips and then ground them up to make zucchini powder. I harvested cilantro and hung it up to dry. I allowed it to flower to get seeds for next year.

My beans are just starting to come in now so that is next on the agenda. More canning. I know canning is work but my goal is to be as self sufficient as possible and use methods of storage that do not involve refridgeration. I want shelf stable foods that I know are non GMO and grown organically. I truly believe this is helping me as well.

I am learning about fermenting now too. Fermenting foods is a great way to put good bacteria into your gut. I am in the process of learning about this. I also planted my fall garden last week. I planted carrots, green onions and spinach. I have lettuce growing in pots on the front porch.

I think this is all helping me. I am interested in being more healthy. I want to enjoy my life that is left. On the positive side, I am also losing weight. In two months I have lost 6 pounds. I have not tried to lose weight, it just is happening. I will take it!

The things I have done only required time to research, implement and make the necessary changes. I am not saying you all should do this. I am just saying that this stuff has helped me. I feel that your healthcare is just that…YOURS! Do your own research if you want to change. Talk to y our doctor. Be informed. As a postscript to doing this, I saw my doctor on Monday and guess what? She started using one of my supplements after researching it with me. No kidding. She said it is helping her too. I will not say what it is but she was so impressed with her own research that she decided to try it for herself.

I hope you are all enjoying this summer. I sure am and while it remains to be seen, I am hoping to enjoy winter too. Remember, never give up! Keep learning, keep researching and keep living life to the fullest!

 

 

 

Health Insurance Woes and My Fix

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Hello!

Before I begin I need to put a disclaimer on this post…

*I am not a doctor. I do not possess a degree. I am a lupus patient. Any and all information I am sharing in this post is for me only. I am the one who decided to do something about it. I am the one who implemented the plan. You should not do the same unless you have thoroughly discussed this with your doctor(s). I discussed it with my doctors and this is the plan for me. As you know, each lupus patient is different and we all have different plans of care. Do not do what I am doing without medical discussions with your own physicians. What works for one person might not work for another.  I am not responsible for any injury to you for you doing what I have done. For this reason, I refuse to share what specific things I am doing in alternative medications.*

As  the title implies, I am writing about my experience with the new insurance climate that has changed how my insurance operates now. I moved to Kentucky three years ago. I had to change my insurance because I moved from Ohio to Kentucky. To facilitate the changeover, I stayed with the company I had in Ohio, and just moved the policy to one I could use here in Kentucky. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

The fact is that it took me the better part of an entire day to change the policy. Seriously. I also found out that not only would I be paying the premium as in Ohio, based on the medicare payment, but that in Kentucky, I would have to pay another $60 per month as well. What??

Here is how and why I was told I had to pay that extra $60 per month on top of the $120 medicare premium…in Kentucky, you have a lot of different providers serving different healthcare chains. In Ohio, I stayed in the Kettering Healthcare Network with all of my doctors. They were all covered and I was happy. In Kentucky, my pcp is in the Mercy Health Network which is ironically out of Cincinnati. My local hospital, a small thirty bed facility with an ER, is out of the same Mercy Health Network. My eye doctor is out of UK Healthcare Network. My rheumy is out of Baptist Health Network, my cardiologist is from Kentucky One Health Network, and my husband has been in the St. Joseph Network system seeing his specialist. Here, not only do you drive an hour and a half one way to see a doctor at times, but you also are required to cross networks to see the right doctors for you. Hence the higher premiums.

Now, for those who are lucky enough to have several overlapping diseases, it becomes even worse. As of January first, this year, my premiums again went up, thanks to the lag of the higher priced Obamacare. I now pay over $200 a month just for my premiums alone! Oh, I am on disability and was one of the supposed low income people that it was purported this new scheme would help. Oh yeah? It has certainly helped me all right…it helped me have less money to live on is what it helped me to do!

This is not the only way it “helped” me either. I went to get my prescriptions just as I always have. When I got them, it was not at the usual $2-4 each as before January first. One of my prescriptions went from $4 to $75 a month! Only one stayed the same. One! As anyone with lupus knows, we can be on a few drugs or many, depending on the disease and all. I paid that month but made a drastic decision at the same time. More on that later. I also found out that the place I had been getting my prescriptions, a retail chain, was not on my insurance plan anymore. I live in a rural county in Kentucky. The nearest retail chain that is covered, is 35 miles away. In my town there is only the one retail pharmacy. So, so far, I am paying more premiums, and now prescriptions were cost prohibitive plus I have to drive 35 miles to get to the nearest pharmacy that is covered. What else could go wrong? Surely a low income person like me could try to keep this up right?

Wrong! I had eye surgery in January. It went well. All better. However, when the bill came in I was in for another shock. You see, I now have deductibles. I have not had deductibles since going on disability. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I have to pay 10% of my bill! My surgery was $10k so do the math folks. Yep, now I am paying a deductible. Wonderful. Just wonderful.

So far, this affordable health care act has priced me out of eating, rent, medications and all other costs of daily living! But wait, I did get a cost of living increase finally this year after 7 years of none. That will help, right? Hm, where do I spend that $20 a month? I got a big fat $20 increase in my benefits…so that should cover those pesky extra expenses right?

Sarcasm much? I find that now half of my gross income is going out each month towards my healthcare costs. I think I have found how it will save money though. I think it will save money because the very people it was supposed to help will be dying off because they cannot afford to live anymore. The only people it really helps are the politicians, lobbyists, and CEO’s of insurance companies who are all getting huge kickbacks and salaries. Those are the ones benefiting from it. Not me.

So, before you can say I should go apply for help, I did. I found out that, believe it or not, my husband (who is also on disability for something completely different) and I make $50 too much in gross benefits and thus do not qualify. It does not matter that we are paying out the wazoo for all this stuff. Nope. Income is what it goes by we were told. Now, if we should separate and live apart we would both qualify for help. We are honest people though and while many might play the game the system forces you into, we will not.

So to recap, this low income disability person has to pay half of my gross income for the privilege of paying even more money out for goods and services previously covered for a lot less.

Now on to what I have done about it. Here was the scary part. I researched all of my meds in more detail to find what specifically they were doing for me. I then looked for corresponding natural things that could do the same. At this juncture, let me state that while I did this for me, it may not be good for you and you should discuss all treatments in detail with your doctors. I am not a doctor. I am a lupus patient who was at the end of my rope here. I took decisive action for myself.

I found interesting things in the process. I found that indeed there were several natural alternatives out there and for the most expensive meds no less. I then made an appointment with my doctor and discussed these with her. I explained the situation. My doctor, who used to be a nurse, is very much on board. After we looked over the alternatives, we decided to try it.

What can I say? The alternative treatments are working and I actually have tons more energy than before. My mood is more stabilized, and I feel alive again. I still live with pain but the pain is more bearable now. I will not disclose what I am taking because as stated before, I am not a doctor. I can honestly say that it is working for me though. A month after started the alternatives, I ran out of one and truthfully thought it had not been working well for me so I did not get more. However, a few days later, I was in pain, bad pain. I got more of the alternative stuff and the pain went away! I am a believer now!

I do want to add that the things I now take are available anywhere. I will not endorse any product here. I am not selling miracles. Honestly, the only major differences I have found is that I have more energy and I feel things again. What I mean is that instead of being in a cloud of medications making me groggy and sloth like, I now can enjoy my life again. I still have the same limitations I had before. I still have lupus. I still have bad days. However, the good days seem to be more now.

I am also aware of a “placebo effect” and what it is. I do not feel like this is the case here because I seriously did not think the new things were helping until I did not take them. I tested them. I also did not abruptly come off my other meds. As I started a new thing, I would wean off my meds. Slowly. All of this was under my doctors care.

I just wanted to share my experience because I have a feeling this new insurance scheme might be affecting your lives as well. I know mine has changed but thanks to an understanding and knowledgeable doctor not afraid to jump in and experiment, and my willingness to try some new things, I find life so much more livable. Just my experience.

Do not lose hope. We are in this together. Research, ask questions and most importantly, pray for help. I now spend a lot less on meds and supplements. I feel better. I am alive. I am happier.

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer! I hope to get back to posting again more often. So much is going on here…good things! Until next time, stay as healthy as you can and enjoy each day you have!

Winter?

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Hello once again! I hope this post finds you in good health! I know I am up and down. I called this post Winter? Because here in Eastern Kentucky we have had two or three light dustings of snow and that is it! How weird is that? It has not been cold either! I keep expecting a blizzard because it has been too mild. Now, on to life…

First, big news. I mean really BIG news! I got my eye surgery finally! I went to UK eye clinic and finally I can see!!! I was legally blind in my right eye and had no idea my “good,” left eye was not so good either. So they got my right eye going again and it sure has been great to see again. My cataract developed quickly because of Prednisone. That is what my opthalmologist told me. My left eye also has a cataract, but not the kind that was in my right eye. Thank goodness! I may have it removed soon since it was not a bad experience. I follow up with a retinal specialist soon as well. Since I have been on plaquenil for so long, like 20 years off and on, I have to see the retina specialist to insure that my retinas are not damaged from the long term usage. Who knew?

Next on my plate are my knees. One at a time. I am struggling most days with walking. I bump into walls, fall down and feel very unsteady. My knees, both of them, are prone to giving out at the most inopportune times! However, thank goodness, they only give out one at a time. I am always finding new bruises. This is why the knees are next in line. One issue at a time right now.

As for husband and his alcoholism, he is sober and attending AA every evening. He has a sponsor too, which is a big change this time around. I am hopeful, but also realist, that he can maintain this sobriety. So far so good. One day at a time!

Life is always moving ahead. My oldest grandchild graduated from high school last year and came down and stayed with us for a month. It was a hoot! We had so much fun and we spoiled her pretty good too. She slept in and had her own TV in her room. She loved it! She has three younger sisters, ages 16, 14, and 12 plus a new baby brother who is nine months old. Time alone, in a room of her own, was the thing she needed for a bit. It was great having her here and we looked into the nearby Berea College for the classes she is interested in. She is quite an artist and in different mediums too! I know, I brag but hey, I am granny! That’s my job!

Finally, I am working on my craft area and trying to get it organized. It is not easy. I hope I can get it situated so I can get back to crafting. It helps me relax and I need to relax! Do you craft? What do you do?

That’s it for me for now. Take it easy and stay well! Gentle hugs!!!

 

Ah,finding your true worth?

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This is a bit off topic but I feel compelled to write it nevertheless. I have learned to accept the challenges of living with several auto immune diseases and other illnesses.I help my kids and grandkids when I can, and have taken care of my mother and mother-in-law as well. I have moved states, been a walk participant, been in drug trials and seriously given a lot of myself to others. I neglected one person though, myself.

I am in therapy now, to help me get myself back. I have buried myself taking care of everything and everyone around me to the detriment of me. I am now in a major flare, worse than in recent history, and I am finding it hard to adjust to taking care of me. The first step is to get my cataracts taken care of so I can drive at night again. The next thing is to see about these knees getting replaced. I have a list of items needing taken care of but I had been so absorbed in the daily drama and task of taking care of my husband, who is an end stage alcoholic, and his many hospital ER visits, admissions, ICU stays and rehab facilities located all over this state. Transporting him from pillar to post only to have him return home and begin drinking again. It is not pretty around here.

I allowed myself to be used. I ALLOWED myself to be used and neglected taking care of me during this chaos and drama laden time of the last year. As I stated, I am in therapy right now. My therapist is very encouraging and is helping me to see what my role in this is. She is also helping me to see that I do not have to do anything I do not want to. I can stop being used by others by respecting myself. Tall order. I feel worthless most days.

I can see clearly now how the verbal abuse, the mental abuse and the emotional abuse have taken a toll on my body and mind. I am seriously ill right now. My eyes are open though to the manipulations and techniques being used on me. I have to take responsibility for allowing myself to be manipulated, but I am not taking it anymore. As a result, I have an end game or plan in progress that gives me a sense of security. I am free to follow what I need to do to be healthy physically, mentally and emotionally. I am learning how to love myself. It is really empowering to do just that.

I have been living in a self centered and narcissistic home for a long time now. I have been treated really awful, and made to feel like it is all my fault. If it is not his way, then it is no way. A drunken dictator who is to be obeyed and how dare I have a thought about anything other than him? It is not pretty.

I am writing this because I need to put it out there. It validates my feelings and the fact that my eyes are wide open now. I am still here. However, I have an exit strategy prepared and ready to implement if no changes are made in MY time frame, not his. I doubt he will change, so it may well be I will be embarking on a new, single, adventure. Who knows? Am I afraid he will read this? Nope  You see, he is only interested in himself and not any thing I may do. The time is coming, and I plan on living the best I can until then. Wish me luck!

I hope you all are healthy and happy! I hope to be soon!