Saturday, September 17, 2016

Time to do some catching up!

     Still have problems with my sniffer, as in I can't really smell anything.  I made an appointment with an ENT, my primary Dr's suggestion. It really didn't do much and I got the impression that he didn't care a whole lot either by the end of it all.  He checked me out, said he couldn't see anything physically that me be causing the smelling problems.  Some inflammation but not a lot.  Stuck one of those cameras up both nostrils. While not very painful, it was pretty uncomfortable to say the least and I highly don't recommend it unless really necessary.Told me he hadn't heard of Sjogren's  but was interested in doing some research on the topic since he has never come across this before, which made me feel good. Like he was interested in my problems and really wanted to help. He was honest, and said he could prescribe some antibiotics in case there was something going on and some prednisone for the inflammation and see what happens.  But he said he didn't think surgery would be an option for he saw no reason for it. So beyond the prednisone until he did more research that was all he could do. So I went and got me prescriptions filled.
     Prednisone is absolutely amazing.  I loved it.  It made me feel like a human again for the first time in a long time.  No pain, so much energy, so focused.  I couldn't believe it.  I got caught up on everything in my pending files at work.  I told my husband if I had another week like this, I could actually get the house painted like I've been wanting to for the last few years.  But alas it was just a short burst and by the time we left for vacation the end of June I was down to my last dose. But it didn't take too long for everything to come bouncing back.  While on vacation the vasculitis in my legs flared up extremely bad.  I had sore shoulders and arms but for some reason my legs were fine, which I found odd since we did a ton of hiking.  My sense of smell never came back though.
     At my follow up the ENT asked how everything was, and admitted to me that he forgot about the research he was going to do so he had no answers for me.  I felt so let down.  At any rate he said since it was going on almost a year-if I reached the 12 month period and have not had any changes then most likely my nerves where damaged beyond repair and it would be permanent.  Any damage to nerves in the sinuses will regenerate eventually by 12 months.  And for me that was really only 3 months away.  So with that, he basically washed his hands of me.  He ordered another CT scan to see if the drugs had cleared up the inflammation.  He told me there was a smell test that could be done if I wanted to go somewhere in the city.  It was basically these tubes or something that you smell to see if you could identify the odors.  He doesn't have them b/c they are expensive to buy (Well you just got me for 2 visits that did nothing, I guess that's still not enough $).  All the test does though was verify that you can't smell, it won't help you get it back There's no procedure, medicine or anything out there that can be bring it back he said.  At this point though, I'd just be freaking happy with knowing what the hell caused the issue to begin with, but I guess I'm never going to know that.  None of the Dr's seem to give a crap about quality of life.  He said my CT scan showed some improvement of the inflammation, and if I had any more sinus trouble or infections to give his office a call.  Yeah right, I'll be sure to do that jackass.  If I have to see someone for a sinus infection I'll be sure to fork over a copay for a specialist who is so eager to help.
     The only good thing out of the visit to the ENT was the prednisone.  Made me feel pretty decent for a while and I told my rheumatologist about it at my last appointment in August.  He told me when I start having really bad flare ups to please send him a message or call the office.  Cuz honestly I wasn't telling him during the flare up, I would just unload on him all that had happened since my last appointment.  He told me if it got real bad that I could get another small dose of prednisone.  (I know the dangers of taking it too often, believe me.  I would only do it if I couldn't walk or get out of bed.) But for the first time since being diagnosed April 2015 my ESR numbers fell in a normal range!!  That HAD to be the effect of the prednisone.  That test measures the sedimentation rate, it's a way to measure the amount of inflammation in the body.  For the most part I have felt less tired, it's easier to wake up in the morning.  But I still have various pains in my shoulders and arms lately.  So I guess something is still going on even though my inflammation is down.  But you gotta take it as it comes.  Right now I'm just trying to make the most out of feeling good while I have it each day.                     

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

My favorite art tool

My absolute favorite thing to use is an old debit/credit/gift card. Even the fake ones you get with the junk mail. It's so easy and quick to spread paint around with it! And they are cheap and in most households (like mine) they are plentiful. It's great if you want a thin smear of paint or a thick layer, and it doubles as a mark maker to give you texture! Some people like to use their palette knives for that, which is also a good tool but everyone has their preferences. I prefer to use my palette knife to push paste thru a stencil or to apply it really heavy on a canvas to build up more texture. I like how with a card I can lay down numerous thin layers of paint in my journal and it doesn't require a lot of paint. And it dries fairly quickly so I can keep adding. Here's an example of two completed pages in my journal.

The one on the right was made by swiping down numerous layers of Paper Artsy Fresco Finish paints in bright vivid colors. I then put down the matte black leaving the bright circles behind and journaled around some of the circles with a white gelly pen. I made this page while contemplating my chronic illness.
The page next to it just started out as a place to scrape excess paint off of the palette. It's a good way to get a page jump started and doesn't waste the excess paint that you didn't use! After it had several layers of multiple colors I started adding in other colors using the debit card and took a stencil from Mary Beth Shaw's collection and stenciled in bright red. I really love that stencil!
The page had a graffiti feel to it, which I also love! On a whim I decided to paint a quick portrait of my dog, Cammie, whom we adopted a year and a half ago. I found a photo and just started without any real sense/perspective going on. The results make her look like a Great Dane b/c I got her muzzle too long. She is actually a Pitbull/American Bulldog mix. But I don't care, I liked it anyways and that's what matters. It's my art journal where I make art for myself.
I love how you can still the layers of paint underneath the white, which is exactly what my intent was. Sorry for the shadows on the pictures! The lighting situation wasn't ideal and after trying a dozen different ways I had to give up! 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

My pride and joy!

So I have a friend at work, she's my best work friend, who has a shoe problem. She loves 'em, maybe a lil too much. She has a ton of them and decorates her office with a shoe theme. Customers even bring her little shoe decorations, like miniature shoes, shoe wine glasses, etc. So for Christmas (2013) I decided I would make her a shoe collage and it turned out to be my favorite piece of work I've done so far.I started out with a 12x12 canvas panel and sketched a peep toe on it.
I had a bunch of magazines I had collected for the purpose and started cutting pieces for the collage. I started gluing them on, using mostly black for the background and adding cutouts of shoes and cutouts of clothes for some interesting textures.
I also cut interesting phrases I found in the magazines that went with the theme. I wanted my shoe to be bright pink with a cream insole so then started the task of finding different shades of pink and cutting them out just right to blend and create shadows. This was hard but still immensely satisfying.
I couldn't tell you how many hours I labored over this shoe, but I loved every minute of it.
Here's a closer one of the shoe itself.
My friend absolutely loved it and it's on display in her office. She gets a lot of comments about it. I have to admit it makes me feel pretty good that she loved it so much and I can see it whenever I wish by going in her office! I haven't made another collage like that one yet, but I have several ideas in my head for more. One last pic!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

It's been too long...

I can't believe it has been so long since my last post! Jeesh! I'm still learning and coping with my autoimmune disease, Sjogrens. I also found out in December that I had tested positive for Rheumatoid Arthritis. FUN! It explained a few crazy flares that I had in September and October with my hip. Crazy pain that developed pretty suddenly and got so bad I could barely walk, or stand. It was awful! My rheumatologist had taken a ton of blood work on my first visit in August. I mean a TON! I've had several vials done at a time before, it's not new to me, beleive me. I usually have some big tubes and some smaller tubes. When the nurse came in she had a fistful of tubes, then went and grabbed a couple of jumbo tubes. Apparently what I considered the big ones were actually medium I guess b/c I had no idea they got any bigger! My vein almost stopped giving blood; I had to squeeze my hand a few times to keep it going. Afterwards when I went home I had to take a nap. I was so dang tired,there was no way I would have stayed awake. Thank goodness my husband went with me and drove. A lot of the tests were the same ones my primary had ran, he just wanted to recheck certain numbers and the rheumatoid factor. BUT I wasn't told it came back positive! So imagine my surprise and shock when I was told 4 months later at my second visit that I also had RA. I've also lost my sense of smell and taste in between the two visits. Well, not lost completely, more like diminished. That started in September/October and continues to this day. I just noticed one day I hadn't been smelling things like before-the cookies burning in the oven, the coffee brewing in the pot, my husband's cologne. It was gone. Food started tasting bland as well. The weird thing was my nose wasn't stuffy. I was actually clearer than I had been in a long time! I always had a stuffy nose, and now the stuffiness is pretty much gone. I can breathe easier out of my nose than ever before, so why no smells? I asked the rheumy if it was the Sjogrens, and he said maybe. It could happen but to have my primary check it out before blaming it solely on the autoimmunity. So I see my primary at the beginning of February and he checks my nose out, asks if I have any sinus pressure, pain, toothache, head trauma etc. The answer is no. (I really really wanted to make a joke about macheting my brother in half when I was young, but I didn't. That's a movie reference btw-Walk Hard-The Dewey Cox Story I believe is the name of it.) So he looks up the symptom and finds that actually 33% of Sjogren's patients lose their sense of smell. That's a pretty good chunk! So he scheduled me for a CT scan just to be careful but neither of us think it's going to show anything. Well, shocker it did come back showing I had "significant sinus disease". WTF? It's basically sinusitis, according to all the googling I've done. But I have no pain, remember? No mucous, no drainage, no grossness that usually accompanies sinus infections! So he put me on a heavy duty round of antibiotics and when that's over I need to check in with him to see how I'm doing. It's almost time-and not much has changed. So I will prolly need to see an ENT specialist. YAY another copay! I swear! But I'm just gonna keep trying to keep my head up! Trying not be depressed, it's hard. I did go through some mild depression when I first realized food wasn't tasting good anymore. I like food! And another when I was told I have RA. The only thing I could think about for awhile was my hands twisting and turning into claws that you can't do anything with. I keep thinking about what my retirement is going to look like, will I be able to type or hold a paintbrush? Sometimes it's not a blessing to know the name of what ails you. I used to be able to push the pains off to the back of my mind easily by telling myself I must have hurt a muscle by moving wrong, or I layed on my limb wrong in my sleep, give it a few days it will go away. It always does. Now all I can think is this will never go away completely, it will be always be in the background lurking and it will only get worse with time. Some dreary stuff!! So that's how the last of 2015 and the beginning of my 2016 looked like. Sorry if I'm being too depressing man, I'm trying out here! But I just had to get it all out, it's been building inside of me! My next post won't be like this I promise! I have lots of pictures of some things I made that I've been wanting to post since 2014, lol.