Tuesday, December 11, 2018

TV Tuesday: Killing Eve

With all the fall shows on cable going on hiatus after their "mid-season finale" (when did that become a thing?), my husband and I were hunting for something new to watch last week. I told him I'd been hearing rave reviews of Killing Eve, which was just nominated for Golden Globes for Best TV Drama and Best Actress, so we tried the first two episodes...and then ended up quickly binging the rest of the first season!

Sandra Oh (of Grey's Anatomy fame) stars as Eve, an American married to a Brit, living in London, and working for MI5 (the UK's version of the FBI) as an analyst in an office. It's clear from the first episode that Eve is eager to do more and has some amazing instincts, but her job definition is limiting. She is assigned to babysit a woman who witnessed a horrible assassination, but she goes above and beyond the call of duty. By the second episode, she is working for a small, secret sub-organization within MI6 (like the UK version of CIA) that is tasked with finding the mysterious assassin who is leaving dead bodies all over the world. The team knows - thanks to Eve - that this deadly killer is a woman. From the beginning, the audience sees this story play out from both Eve's perspective and that of the female assassin, Villanelle, who soon knows that the team (and specifically, Eve) is tracking her. From then on, it becomes a cat-and-mouse game, with Eve and her team chasing Villanelle around the globe, and the two women becoming more and more obsessed with each other.

This show is so unique and completely compelling! We finished the first season in just a few days and were disappointed to find it was over so soon. Sandra Oh, an acclaimed actress already, is excellent in this role, as Eve is first fixated on finding Villanelle and later, more personally fascinated with her, all while her marriage suffers. Jodie Comer, as her nemesis, Villanelle, is less well-known as an actress but is incredible in this role, playing the strangely appealing cold-hearted killer in a way that is utterly captivating. The rest of the cast is good, too, but these two women take front stage as they become locked in psychological warfare - and something like admiration? - with each other. In addition, the mystery and thriller elements of the show provide plenty of suspense. The short first season was over far too soon, and we can't wait for season 2 (due out in 2019)!

Killing Eve is produced by BBC America, and the first season with 8 episodes aired this spring. You can still find it On Demand through your cable company or on the BBC America website, though only episodes 1 & 2 are free in both places, so you can try it out. Spoiler alert: you will love it and want to watch more! You can purchase episodes on Amazon starting at $1.99 each or $13.99 for the entire season. We thought it was well worth the investment.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases from these links provide a small commission to me (pennies per purchase), to help offset the time I spend writing for this blog, at no extra cost to you.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Movie Monday: Trainwreck

Having been homebound for most of the past two months, thanks to a severe crash, I haven't been able to go out with my friends or even make it to my book group meetings, so last week, my two closest friends brought Girls Night Out to me! They came over with take-out Thai food, and we watched a movie in our family room - complete with recliners for everyone. We were looking for a light, funny movie and ended up watching Trainwreck, which was definitely light and funny, though perhaps a bit raunchy for some tastes!

Amy Schumer stars as Amy, a writer working for a men's fluff magazine called S'nuff in New York City (with hilarious article titles). Besides being focused on her career, Amy was brought up to believe that monogamy is not possible, a view instilled in her by her carousing father, Gordon, played by Colin Quinn, to explain why he and her mother broke up. Now, her father is aging, but Amy has stuck with his dysfunctional life philosophy. As a result, she drinks a lot, smokes some weed, and sleeps with lots of guys. Officially, she has a boyfriend, Steve, a muscle-bound hunk played by John Cena, but Amy still has one-night stands with other guys. Her rule is to never spend the night. Then, her editor assigns Amy to write an article about the "sports doctor to the stars," Dr. Aaron Connors. Amy knows less than nothing about sports, but she wants a promotion, so she spends time with Aaron, interviewing him for the article and getting to know him. She's attracted to him - and vice-versa - but he doesn't fit her usual type. He's intelligent, sweet, and kind. Will Amy be able to break a lifetime of conditioning to commit to one man?

Oddly, I think this is the first time I've actually watched Amy Schumer in a movie, even though I know of her, have heard interviews with her, etc. Directed by Judd Apatow, Trainwreck features his signature fast-paced amusing banter throughout (think Knocked Up, 40-Year Old Virgin, Bridesmaids, etc.) and also that same kind of raunchy, silly humor. I think it might have been a bit too raunchy for my friends (especially the one-night stand montage!), though we all laughed. As for me, I tend to prefer a more clever, dry wit in my comedies than such obvious silliness, but I enjoyed it overall. The cast was good, the banter funny, and like all romcoms, it has a happy ending. The side plots about  Amy's relationship with her sister and how they are adjusting to their father's aging were even tender and moving (and still funny). It's a fun, mindless ride for when you are looking for escape (and aren't easily offended!). Sometimes, that's just what you need.

Trainwreck is available for streaming on Amazon, starting at $2.99, or on DVD.


Note: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases from these links provide a small commission to me (pennies per purchase), to help offset the time I spend writing for this blog, at no extra cost to you.

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Weekly Inspiration: Happiness Is a Choice

Last month, for Nonfiction November, one of the nonfiction books I listened to on audio was Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons From a Year Among the Oldest Old by John Leland. You can read my full review of the book at the link to my book blog.

I really loved this unique, fascinating, and inspiring book. The author is a journalist who spent a full year interviewing and spending time with six elderly people in New York City (details at my review link), all over age 85. My father-in-law is 93 years old, so this book gave me some insights into his life...but I was surprised to find that many of the lessons from the elderly apply perfectly to a life of chronic illness. They are often living with all kinds of physical ailments, plus just age itself has forced them to slow down, and their lives are often defined now by limits. Sound familiar?

Even though I was listening on audio, I frequently hit pause to rewind and write passages in my Quote Journal. Here are a few of my favorites:
"Here was a lesson in acceptance and adaptation. In a culture that constantly tells us to overcome our limitations, sometimes it is more productive to find ways to live with them."

"Problems were only problems if you thought about them that way. Otherwise, they were life and yours for the living."

"Here was a lesson on the myth of control. If you believed you were in control of your life, steering it in the direction of your choosing, then old age was an affront because it was a destination you didn't choose. But if you think of life instead as an improvisation in response to the stream of events coming at you - that is, a response to the world as it is - then old age is another chapter in a long-running story."

          - from Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons From a Year Among the Oldest Old by John Leland

See what I mean? Each of these applies to my father-in-law's experience but also to mine, just in my 50's, as someone with chronic illness (and really, everyone, whether ill or not, could benefit from giving up trying to control everything!). That last one is especially powerful - just substitute chronic illness for old age.

This book really spoke to me and made me think...but it was also entertaining and enjoyable. By the end of it, I felt as if I had spent time with these six elderly people myself. I definitely recommend it - either in print or on audio.

You can listen to a sample of the audio here.

Hope you are having a good weekend!

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Updated Information on Treating Herx Reactions

Hi! Yes, I'm still here and still in the midst of this bad crash. I do think I've made some progress and am improving, but slowly.

Quick recap: I went into a severe crash/relapse about 7 weeks ago. This has become extremely rare for me, to crash for any reason at all and especially this bad. In all of 2017, I was only crashed for 3% of the time (11 days)!! I reduced - almost eliminated - post-exertional crashes by treating my Orthostatic Intolerance (OI) with low-dose beta blockers and did the same for virally-triggered crashes by treating the immune dysfunction at the heart of ME/CFS with a variety of treatments. I've been in pretty good shape the past few years - not cured, by any means (I still need my afternoon nap & have limits), but much better and living a fairly active life.

So, this crash seemed to come out of nowhere, and it took me awhile to figure out what was going on. One weird recurring symptom - a twitching muscle in my eyelid - finally tipped me off that the crash might have been triggered by my Lyme disease recurring (Lyme often causes weird neurological symptoms, and I've had this one before). Sure enough, I started treating Lyme again - after about 4 years in remission - and experienced the tell-tale worsening (Herx reaction) that confirmed my theory, with other typical Lyme symptoms re-emerging, like knee pain. That was abut a month ago, and I am finding that I have to proceed very slowly with the Lyme treatment, as I am Herxing pretty badly this time around. That, along with my son's continued struggles with treating his 3 tick infections, made me read a book on Lyme disease and do some more research into the best ways to treat Herx reactions. It turns out that even after 8 years of dealing with this, we still had more to learn!

Herx reactions (worsening) occur not only when treating tick infections but also when ME/CFS patients treat viruses with antivirals or sometimes even when treating yeast overgrowth with antifungals (and treating mold toxins, too). Learning how to properly manage Herx reactions will not only help you to feel better and function better but will also help you to make more progress in knocking out these underlying infections that are often behind many of our symptoms.

So, my Managing a Herx Reaction post is newly updated, with parts of it completely rewritten. I have added new treatments to the list and included dosage information for all of them. This now accurately compiles all of our hard-earned knowledge in one place...but please let me know if I missed anything that has worked for you!

I feel a little better today, though still achy and with some knee pain and lower energy than normal, so I am hoping that I will continue to improve bit by bit and soon get back to my "normal" baseline.