Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Setting Goals When Chronically Ill: Improve Your Life in Tiny Steps


I was absent the past week due to a family funeral. Our brother-in-law died unexpectedly on January 1, so my husband and I quickly made plans to travel to Texas for the memorial service last weekend. I had no intention of flying anytime soon, but San Antonio is about a 5-day drive from here! Of course, I wore my mask the entire long day of airports and planes (and also most of the weekend). I also, for the first time ever, requested wheelchair assistance from the airline, and wow, what a difference! It helped so much, and all the people who helped me were so kind. If you've never requested it before and need to travel, definitely give it a try. It prevented bad over-exertion crashes so that I could enjoy time with our nephews and their families and recover quickly once back home.

While I catch up here and get back into a more normal routine, I wanted to share this video I posted just before our trip. It's called Setting Goals When Chronically Ill: Improve Your Life in Tiny Steps. It describes a process I have used for many years, with loads of simple tips and strategies to help you meet your goals, change habits, and improve your life--all in ways that are doable even in lives severely limited by chronic illness, even if your only goal is to be happier and find more joy in your life. You can watch the video on Youtube or I will include it below: 


I would love to hear how you are starting the new year, and any advice you have for setting goals and making improvements when you are chronically ill. You can leave comments below or connect with me on Twitter or on this blog's Facebook page.

Happy New Year!

Monday, January 09, 2023

Favorite Movies Watched in 2022


I reviewed just 9 movies in 2022, in part because there is so much great TV to watch now. However, if I took the time to review a movie, it was because I really enjoyed it, so any movies on my 2022 list are worth watching, not just my top picks.

The TV icon in the image above is still mostly accurate, as we once again watched just one movie in a theater last year because my health was so poor most of the year. I'm hoping to get out to the recliner theaters a little bit more in 2023!

As in years past, you can see my full list of movies reviewed this year further down, and my top picks in each genre just below. To see all of the movies I have reviewed on my blog (a considerable list), check out the Movies tab, where they are listed by genre, though it's getting harder to categorize a movie into just one genre as there's so much cross-over now. Links go to my reviews, with a trailer. Note that where each movie is available might have changed over the years, since I first reviewed it, so double-check to see where you can watch it now.

Best of the Best Movies Watched in 2022:

Best Action/Suspense/Thriller 

Parasite

clever, funny, family drama that turns into a suspenseful thriller 

(Oscar winner: Best Picture)



Best Drama

Where the Crawdads Sing

Murder mystery/legal drama/love story/coming-of-age story set against a gorgeous natural backdrop


 

 Best Comedy 

Licorice Pizza

nostalgic coming-of-age comedy/drama set ion 1970's L.A. 

(nominated for Best Picture)



Best Sci-Fi

The Adam Project  

heartwarming, funny, action-packed sci fi adventure 



All Movies Reviewed in 2022:

I only review movies I really like, so all of these are worth watching:

Action/Suspense/Thriller

Glass Onion - fun, eye-popping, suspenseful mystery with an all-star cast

Parasite - clever, funny, family drama that turns into a suspenseful thriller (winner: Best Picture)


Drama

Honey Boy - entertaining & moving film about a dysfunctional Hollywood childhood

The Power of the Dog - tense Western drama with emotional complexity (nominated for Best Picture)

Where the Crawdads Sing - Murder mystery/legal drama/love story/coming-of-age story set against a gorgeous natural backdrop


Comedy

Licorice Pizza - nostalgic coming-of-age comedy/drama set ion 1970's L.A. (nominated for Best Picture)

The Lost City - a light, fun adventure-romance


Sci Fi

The Adam Project - heartwarming, funny, action-packed sci fi adventure

Finch - warm, funny, suspenseful drama set in a post-apocalyptic world

Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Favorite TV Shows Watched in 2022


It's time for my annual wrap-up of my favorite TV shows reviewed in the past year! These are not necessarily new shows, but they are shows that we enjoyed last year, enough that I took the time to write a review. They run the gamut, covering all kinds of genres, so there's something for everyone here!

Listed down at the bottom of this post are all of the shows that I reviewed here on my blog in 2022. I have also added all of these to my TV Reviews tab on the blog, so you can come back anytime to see ALL of the shows I have ever reviewed here (note that where to find shows may have changed over the years). And check out my Summer Shows 2021 and my 2022 Fall TV Preview posts for lots of other shows we enjoyed this year, some carried over from past years (everything listed under Fall New Shows we tried and enjoyed!).

I only review shows I like, so anything listed here or on the TV Reviews tab is worth trying. I didn't write a lot of TV reviews last year, so try them all!

Best of TV   

First a few superlatives--my favorite shows reviewed last year in each category/genre--always tough choices to make because TV shows are just getting better and better. Remember that we enjoyed all of the shows reviewed; see the full list at the bottom of the post. Links are to my reviews, including trailers and details on where to find each show (subject to change).

 Best Drama

The Handmaid's Tale (H)

Glad I only just reviewed it this year so I could call it out - some of the best TV ever.


 

Best Crime/Mystery/Thriller/Legal/Action

4-way tie? No? OK, then ...

Shining Girls (Ap) (also fits under Sci Fi)


 

 Best Sci Fi 

(my current favorite) 
Note this is time travel with no scientific explanation, so historical fiction is a more apt category.
 

Best New Show

The Bear (C, H) 

(I added this category just to mention this show!)  


 

All TV Shows Reviewed in 2022

So much good TV last year!

KEY: Available on:
A = Amazon Prime
C = Cable and/or Cable On Demand
Ap = Apple TV

CBS or P+ = CBS All Access (now Paramount+)

H = Hulu 

HBO

IMdB
N = Netflix
P = Peacock
S = Showtime

(Offerings from subscription services change all the time, so double-check. Also, some shows are available for an additional fee on Amazon Prime whether you subscribe or not. Most networks offer some episodes of every show for free at their own websites. Click the links below for my review and details on where it is available.)

Drama

The Bear (C, H)

The Handmaid's Tale (H)

Transplant (C, P)

 

Crime/Mystery/Thriller/Legal/Action

The Flight Attendant (HBO) with humor

The Old Man (C, H)

Shining Girls (Ap) (also fits under Sci Fi)

So Help Me Todd (C,  P+, H). with humor


Sci Fi 

Kindred (H)

Monday, January 02, 2023

Movie Monday: Glass Onion

We had our usual wild New Year's Eve, my lying on the couch and my husband in his recliner, watching a movie (and I did make it to midnight!). This year we chose Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, and it lived up to all the great things we heard from others.

First, you don't have to watch Knives Out to see Glass Onion (but you should see it because it's a great movie--my review at the link). The only common denominator is Detective Benoit Blanc, played by Daniel Craig, who in this movie, has been invited to a mystery weekend on a private island by one of the world's richest men, tech giant Miles Bron (Edward Norton). Miles has also invited his five closest friends: Claire (Kathryn Hahn); Duke (Dave Bautista), who brings his girlfriend, Whiskey (Madelyn Cline); Birdie (Kate Hudson) who brings her assistant, Peg (Jessica Henwick); Lionel (Leslie Odom, Jr.); and Andi (Janelle Monae). The invitation is an elaborate wooden puzzle box, and Miles' set-up on the tiny Greek island is super-luxurious. At first, it seems like a gathering of friends for a fun murder mystery weekend, but you soon realize there is a lot of tension behind the scenes among the old friends. These backstories and issues are slowly revealed, amid sunshine and gorgeous scenery, until a real-life murder shakes up the guests and the host. Good thing world-famous detective Benoit Blanc is there! 

This movie is pure fun. The scenery and cinematography are eye-popping and colorful, the all-star cast is excellent, the mystery is twisty and unpredictable, and a great sense of humor runs through everything. In fact, it's hard to catch all of the fun asides in this fast-paced, action-packed mystery. In an interview, Daniel Craig said it's best to watch the movie twice to catch all the Easter eggs. It's a 2 1/2-hour romp that will keep you guessing right up until the famous detective solves the mystery (though the audience is let in on a secret partway through). If you're looking for entertainment and escape, this is the perfect movie to banish those winter blues.

Glass Onion is in theaters and available on Netflix.

Check out the trailer below for a taste of the colorful exuberance of this unique film:


Friday, December 30, 2022

Exciting New ME/CFS and Long-COVID Research


There is SO much new and exciting research happening that will benefit both those of us who've had ME/CFS for years and newer patients just struck down with long-COVID more recently. One source for these new studies is the Open Medicine Foundation (OMF), which has been studying ME/CFS for years.

This fall, OMF hired me to do some freelance writing, reading scientific summaries of five of their new research projects and writing brief, easy-to-understand recaps for patients, their families, and OMF donors. I am happy to now share these summaries with you, each written for laypeople and each presenting some very exciting opportunities for new discoveries about our disease.

Currently, you can access all of these layperson summaries from OMF's News page, but here are some quick links - I promise all scientific terms are explained simply!

Neutrophil Study - this study by Ron Davis and his Stanford colleagues aims to identify neutrophil abnormalities in ME/CFS patients (and yes, don't worry - my summary at the link explains what neutrophils are!). This study could potentially lead to a new biomarker for ME/CFS.

Post-Exertional Malaise (PEM) - conducted by Dr. David Systrom, the top PEM expert, to better understand the causes and effects of PEM (aka exertion intolerance), a feature unique to ME/CFS that is often the most debilitating part of the disease.

Does ME/CFS Have a Biomolecular Signature? - the aim is to identify a unique combination of biochemical characteristics present only in ME/CFS, perhaps leading to diagnostic tests or treatments.

Does ME/CFS Change Molecularly Throughout a Day? - I'm very excited about this study because we patients know that our ME/CFS is constantly changing, day to day and hour to hour, but no one has studied these changes in such detail before!

Raman Spectrometry-Based Biomarker Discovery for ME/CFS  - this study aims to characterize the biochemical signature of ME/CFS, using a specialized kind of testing.

Aren't these exciting studies? I can't wait to hear the results! Scientists are really starting to dig into the nitty-gritty details of our disease.

I also helped OMF find families to interview for this excellent article, The Crisis of Sick Children with ME/CFS and Long-COVID, featuring families from our Parents' group on Facebook.

I think all this new research bodes well for a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Chronic Illness Vlog 12-27-22: Holiday Preparations!

Somehow, in the midst of a crazy busy week, I managed to record a few short video clips for a weekly vlog! Fortunately, I was feeling relatively good last week, especially compared to the past few months. I did have one mysterious crash mid-week that turned out to be not-so-mysterious!

You can watch this short vlog on YouTube or below:


How are YOU this week?

And how did you manage the holidays this year?

Let me know in the comments below.


Friday, December 23, 2022

Holiday Help for the Chronically Ill


I have been immersed in holiday preparations (I successfully did a little bit each day this year to avoid the last-minute rush!), but I wanted to take a few minutes to wish you all a happy holiday season and to offer some tips, support, and fun to help you through this often-difficult time for those with chronic illness.

First up, the part of the holidays I struggle with the most (and many of you, too, from your posts and comments) is family relationships, which can be challenging when you're chronically ill. Those challenges multiply with the stresses and expectations of the holiday season. That's why I wrote Managing Family Relationships - Holidays and Beyond, which is excerpted from my book. This article/chapter provides practical tips to help you not only manage relationships but even enjoy the holiday season, in your own way.

Last year at this time, also in a time crunch without time to write my own post, I collected Chronic Illness Tips and Support (and Fun!) from other chronic illness bloggers and writers. Check out that round-up of support, practical advice, and some time-out fun, too. There is a lot of collective wisdom in the large chronic illness community!

Finally, when you just need to take a break from all the activity and people and noise, check out Movies and TV for the Holidays (or Not!), my own collection for the season. I included some of my favorite holiday movies, old and new, and some outstanding, uplifting non-holiday movies and TV shows, if you just need to escape for a bit. Re-reading this list reminds me of how great these films and shows were!

OK, that's it for me until after Christmas. I still have a few more decorations to put up, cooking to do tomorrow, and my son and his girlfriend are coming for dinner in a bit. Trying to pace myself!

How are you doing this holiday season?

Do you have any tips or favorite holiday movies and TV shows?

Please share in the comments.

Enjoy the holiday season, in whatever way you can!

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

TV Tuesday: Kindred

One of my favorite books read this year was Kindred by Octavia Butler (my review at the link), which I read for a book group hosted by my local independent bookstore in February. This historical fiction time travel story blew me away, so when I heard that a TV adaptation was coming, I was thrilled! My husband and I started watching it on its release date last week. We are three episodes in so far and are both loving it.

Dana, played by Mallori Johnson, is a young writer who has just moved cross-country from New York to California. She sold her grandmother's house in Brooklyn and purchased a house on a peaceful tree-lined street in L.A. She meets Kevin, played by Micah Stock, a waiter in the restaurant where she's just gotten into an argument with her aunt and uncle, her only family in town, who don't seem pleased about her recent move. Dana and Kevin get to know each other over the next two days, as he helps Dana buy some essentials for her empty house. He spends the night but wakes to Dana screaming on the floor. She's just been transported to a Maryland plantation in 1815, where she saw a white boy named Rufus drowning in the river and saved him. While she was leaning over the boy, after reviving him with CPR, his mother arrives and begins beating her, and his father points a gun at her. Then, Dana is back in her home, with Kevin asking what happened. This continues, as she and Kevin try to figure out what is happening and why she keeps getting pulled back. Meanwhile, in the present day, Dana has some new nosy neighbors who keep coming to the house to investigate the screams and clearly suspect Kevin is abusive to Dana. Then things really get interesting.

If you've read my reviews before, you know I hate spoilers, so that is just the barest outline of the first episode or two, as much as is shown in the trailer. SO much happens in this story. I read the book and loved it, and my husband has not read the book, but we are both enjoying the TV show, so I recommend it whether you know and love this story or are unfamiliar with it. There are a few changes and additions to the TV show, but so far, they all add to the story rather than detract.  The main actors, playing Dana and Kevin, as well as the people back in the 1800's, are all excellent in their roles. Dana's fear and Kevin's confusion are palpable, as this unbelievable thing continues to happen. It's all the more interesting because Kevin and Dana barely know each other but are suddenly flung into life-or-death situations (this is one of the changes; in the book, they are married). The settings, both modern and historic, are rendered in great detail, making both times feel real. The suspense and tension are keeping us riveted to the screen.The premise is so compelling, with so many layers to it, that it's hard not to just binge the whole thing all at once, but I want to make the 8 episodes last. Seeing a modern Black woman suddenly stuck on a plantation during slavery times is disturbing but also powerful and gripping. This is one of the best shows on TV right now! I can't wait to see the rest of the season.

Kindred is streaming exclusively on Hulu.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Chronic Illness Vlog 12-12-22: Up and Down and a Dose of Nature

While I was able to finally recover from my three-month-long relapse, thanks to starting some treatments and stopping others (more on that in a future post), I'm still not quite back to what I consider my "normal" baseline.

So, this vlog from last week provides a pretty typical view of how I'm doing right now, with some good and active days, some run-down days, a COVID scare, and a nice dose of much-needed nature to share with you.


I had a very busy day yesterday (too busy, clearly) and am feeling pretty crummy today, so the ups and downs continue. This time of year is always tough for me, with too much to do. As a book blogging friend said to me earlier this week, "I can barely keep up with everything normally, and then to add holiday preparations--impossible!" 

Right now, I am trying to decide if I can manage my neighborhood book group tonight. I haven't been able to go since May, and I did have a good, long nap this afternoon ... but I'm still not sure I have the energy. After that long relapse, though, I have been reminded of how much I need some social interactions and to see friends once in a while. I still have two hours left to rest and decide!

Tell me how YOU are doing this holiday season?

How's your health been?

Is this time of year hard for you?

Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Movie Monday: Licorice Pizza

Last weekend, with many of the shows we watch on cable on hiatus until the new year, we decided to watch a movie. We chose Licorice Pizza, a 2021 movie that was nominated for three Oscars, including Best Picture. It got a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, and it was on my (very long!) list of movies I've been wanting to watch. We enjoyed this coming-of-age film set in the 1970's.

Gary, played by Cooper Hoffman (son of the late, great Phillip Seymour Hoffman), is a precocious fifteen-year-old in L.A. who's been working as an actor since he was a young child. One day at school, he spots a young woman he's never seen before. Alana, played by Alana Haim, is twenty-five and working for the photographer at school that day, but bold Gary asks her out. She eventually agrees to meet him for dinner (he's very persuasive) but emphasizes that it's just as friends. Despite their age differences, Gary is the one who is confident and knows exactly what he wants from life (plus he makes a lot more money than she does), which is appealing to Alana since she isn't sure what she wants to do, except that she does not want to work for a school photographer. Gary brings Alana into his world. It's clear he's in love with her, but they are just friends, though there is definitely some tension. They have many adventures together and apart, they talk and have fun and sometimes argue, and the two of them spend a lot of time together, often with Gary's friends, and get into all kinds of trouble. Gary starts a couple of businesses and helps Alana see the potential in her own life, though she eventually finds her own passion.

All of these exploits are set against the backdrop of 1973 L.A. And it's a whole lot of fun to accompany Gary and Alana on their explorations! The fashions, the colors, the cars, the current events, and the settings are all vibrant and entertaining. Accompanying all of that is a great 70's soundtrack. Though Gary and Alana are definitely the center of attention here (and both are excellent in their roles), the movie is filled with big-name cameos, including Sean Penn, Tom Waits, and Bradley Cooper. And did I mention it's funny? This movie has a great sense of humor. My husband described this movie as quirky (which is not always a compliment from him), and it is definitely a little weird. But I thoroughly enjoyed this nostalgic, enjoyable trip back in time that often left a smile on my face. It's not deep, but it's a whole lot of fun!

Licorice Pizza is currently available free on Amazon Prime and Paramount+, plus available for a fee on many other services.

Friday, December 02, 2022

Gifts Created by and for Spoonies


(Note: spoonie refers to anyone living with chronic illness and disability.) 

This holiday season, why not help to support your fellow chronic illness peeps by purchasing cool, unique gifts created by those with chronic illness and disabilities? Or maybe you deserve the gift of self-care for the new year!

When I put out a call for gifts created and sold by those with chronic illness, I was inundated with all sorts of wonderfully creative items! Some are made specifically with spoonies in mind and others would make great gifts for anyone on your list. And you'll be helping to support fellow spoonies! Check out these awesome items:

Books

Suzan L. Jackson (I had to include my own book, too!)

Finding a New Normal: Living Your Best Life with Chronic Illness – guidance on emotional coping, daily living, relationships, and more.

Available anywhere books are sold, in paperback and all e-book formats.

Available here.

K.T. King

Fiction (including Little Eden series) and nonfiction (including 21st Century Prayers series), available in paperback and e-book. Author has ME/CFS.

Available here.


Kathleen O’Shea

So Much More Than a Headache: Understanding Migraine Through Literature

Available in paperback and e-book.

Available here


Strength and Sunshine – Rebecca Pytell

Breakfast Bliss: Delicious Allergen-Free Recipes – cookbook (looks yummy!)

Available here


Victoria Mack

5-Minute Gratitude Journal for People with Chronic Illness - A beautiful journal, with inspiring and supportive prompts to help with mindfulness, gratitude, and self-care.

Available here.

 

Infinitely Chelle – Chelle del Rosario

Beautiful notebooks and reading journals (wide variety with fun prompts).

Available here.


Jen Hardy’s Planners

3 planners just for those with chronic illness: Path to Happiness 5-year Journal, Chronic Illness Journal for Moms, and a Business Planner, all available on Amazon (all three linked from here):

Available here.

 

 

Jewelry


Words as Medicine Shop – Etsy – Christina B.

Wide variety of earrings – all different kinds of themes, shapes, colors, including holiday themes. I love earrings and want all of these!

Available here


(Also see under Other Gifts - several sellers with multiple items include jewelry)



 Other Gifts

 

Crafty Miss B – Etsy - Beth

Wide variety of hand-crafted items, made with embroidery, wood, metal, and fabric. Gifts include bookmarks, jewelry, decorations and ornaments. Creator has ME/CFS.

Only ships in UK.

Available here.


FUMS – Kathy Reagan Young (has MS)

Wide variety of gifts with the FUMS logo, including hats, tote bags & fanny packs, clothing, masks, and more.

Available here


ChronicIconic Designs – Etsy - Victoria Mack

A wide variety of products, including notebooks, t-shirts, buttons, candles, and artwork, featuring honest, irreverent, often funny designs. I like the t-shirt that says “Yes, I tried yoga” – lol.

Available here.


Grace and Magic – Etsy – Katherine Grace

Beautifully designed planners, journals, notebooks, and trackers, available in print, digital, and printable pages to help with all kinds of planning, organizing, tracking, and self-care.

Available here.


Siren Blossoms – Heather Wright

A wide variety of printables, jewelry, and books, available through Etsy, Amazon, and other platforms. All links here:

Available here


Achy Smile Shop – Erica Nicole Carrasco (chronic migraine)

Beautifully-designed migraine-themed shirts, stickers, hats, bracelets, and phone cases.

Available here.


 

Chronic Illness Shop Directory:

 

Ability Shop: Chronic Illness and Disability-Owned Small Business Directory

A directory of businesses of gifts, businesses, books, art, and services from those with chronic illness and disabilities.

Available here.


WOW! So many unique gifts from so many creative folks with chronic illness and disabilities! I love the idea of getting cool gifts (for others and for myself) while also helping to support fellow spoonies. 

Happy Shopping!


And if YOU create gifts or other items that are available for sale and not on this list, please include your link in the comments below (if you have trouble leaving a comment on a mobile device, try using a computer).


Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Giving Tuesday 2022 - Help ME/CFS and long-COVID Patients


Today is Giving Tuesday, a day devoted to giving back, after the commercial excesses of Black Friday & Cyber Monday. Every little bit counts, even if it's only $5. If you, like me, spent way too much shopping online for the holidays yesterday or you just want to give year-round, you can even set up a recurring donation. That's what I did several years ago with OMF (see below) so that $5 is automatically donated from me each month - I don't have to think about it or do anything else, and my donation adds up to $60 a year! It only takes a few minutes to either donate or set up recurring donations.

And there are some amazing deals in place right now that will double or even triple your donation, turning $10 into $20 or $30! Any donations to groups that do ME/CFS research and/or support ME/CFS patients will also help those with long-COVID.

Where to Donate:

Here are some wonderful places to donate to support ME/CFS research and patient support & advocacy--all are doing wonderful work and the first three are the top ME/CFS research organizations in the world, funding or conducting the bulk of the scientific research today:

Host Your Own Fundraiser:

To have an even bigger impact on these organizations, you can host a Fundraiser on Facebook. For Giving Tuesday, Facebook has pledged to match up to $7 million dollars in donations! I have hosted fundraisers on Facebook for my birthday, and it's very simple to set up. Just go to the Facebook Fundraisers page and click on "Select Nonprofit" (all of the ones listed above are available), then follow the steps. You set your own fundraising goals, share your fundraiser with Facebook friends, and then Facebook will double whatever donations you bring in! More info on how it works and the matching gift today here.

Donate While Shopping:
And remember - especially this time of year - to make your shopping work for you with automatic donations to your favorite ME/CFS charity every time you shop!  

Goodshop or iGive have almost every online store covered between them - I always stop at iGive first before doing any online shopping. You can also earn by using the site to search. To show you how well this works, my iGive page currently shows that I have selected Solve ME/CFS as my cause, that I have personally earned and donated $296.31 to them, and that they have earned a total of $6583.88 from all supporters! Isn't that amazing? Over $6500 just from clicking a button before we shop online.

Amazon is not a part of either program listed above but has its own charitable donation program: AmazonSmile. Just sign up and choose your charity (most of those listed above are options). My quarterly report from AmazonSmile from September 2021 says they sent a payment of $1338 to Solve ME/CFS for the quarter and that to date, the organization has received $22,792 from AmazonSmile! I added more to that yesterday. These shopping links really pay off, with almost no effort and no cost to you.

With so many painless ways to give, we can all help to move ME/CFS research forward and support patients!

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Chronic Illness Vlog 11/21/22 - Trying Treatment Changes


Not much time this week. We're rushing to get ready for a trip to my hometown (Rochester, NY) for Thanksgiving. I'm not in great shape, but I'm not in awful shape, either. I made a change today that I hope will help me get through the long holiday weekend!

And that's a lot of what last week's Chronic Illness Vlog is about - making changes in my treatments. Happily, the result, as you'll see here, is that I am finally feeling better and able to do more. You can watch the latest vlog on Youtube or below:


I'm a bit anxious about the trip and how I've been feeling, but I'll feel better once we are out the door and on the road tomorrow (about a 7-hour drive). I'm already very happy to have our older son home with us and looking forward to spending several days with all of us together. I'm also looking forward to seeing some extended family, though I'm nervous about COVID, and social gatherings exhaust me.

Hope that all my U.S. readers enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving!

And please tell me about YOUR week in the comments!

Friday, November 18, 2022

New Diagnostic Codes for ME/CFS and Long-COVID Now Active!


I thought I already wrote about this exciting advance for patients of ME/CFS and long-COVID, but I can't find it among my blog posts. Well, it's been a rough few months--it's entirely possible I never got to it! So, here's the big news:

Effective October 1, updates to the ICD-10-CM, the U.S. version of the International Classification of Diseases, will include ME/CFS--using both terms, myalgic encephalomyelitis and chronic fatigue syndrome--and also long-COVID.

ICD codes are the diagnostic codes that doctors must use each time they consult with a patient--insurance companies require them. In the past, doctors had to fit us ME/CFS patients in wherever they could. Often that meant using "chronic fatigue--unspecified," which of course was not accurate. Old ICD codes also referred to myalgic encephalomyelitis as "benign'!

These diagnostic codes that doctors assign are recorded and tabulated, and knowing how many patients suffer from a particular disease can affect funding, allocation of resources, and attention from the NIH and other bodies. No wonder ME/CFS has never gotten any significant government funding.

You can read a summary of the new codes and the changes made here (put together by #MEAction).

I printed a copy of that summary and gave it to each of my doctors, asking them to share with all their staff and to use the new code (G93.32) for my son and I and any other ME/CFS patients and pointing out the new long-COVID codes (either G93.3 or U09.9).

This is an important and exciting step forward for all ME/CFS and long-COVID patients. Many of us have waited decades for this!

So help to spread the word!

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

TV Tuesday: So Help Me Todd

I included trailers for several new TV shows we wanted to try in my Fall 2022 TV Preview post, and one of our favorites from that group is So Help Me Todd. We are really enjoying this crime drama that mixes in family and a great sense of humor.

Marcia Gay Harden plays Margaret, a successful lawyer at a top law firm in Portland, OR. She is always dressed beautifully and perfectly poised. Her son, Todd (played by Skylar Astin), is her opposite, living life from the seat of his pants and the black sheep of their very accomplished family. Todd lost his private investigator license for some illegal activities and has been a bit lost in the two years since. His mother is constantly harping on him to grow up and live more like an adult, but this time, she might actually have a good idea. After Todd helps her, both with a legal case she's representing and a personal matter, she hires him as an investigator for her firm, though the firm's existing investigator, Lyle (played by Tristan J. Winger), never lets Todd forget he's the top dog. In between solving cases for his mother--and gradually earning her respect--Todd is also spending more time with his family, including his sister, Allison (played by Madeline Wise), her husband, his brother-in-law, Chet (played by Thomas Cadrot), and his niece, Clem. As Todd becomes closer to his family, he solves case after case and becomes an asset to Margaret and her firm. And maybe Margaret even learns to loosen up a bit (maybe).

This show has all the ingredients we love in a TV series: mystery, suspense, family drama, and a wonderful sense of humor. The two lead actors--Harden and Astin--are outstanding in their roles, and the supporting actors are all excellent as well. Each episode deals with a different legal case that Todd helps to investigate, usually with a twisty plot and plenty of surprises. The relationship--and the banter--between Todd and Margaret is fun and amusing, but there is also a sense of warmth as the two of them and the rest of the family grow closer to each other. We've watched seven episodes so far (#8 comes back in December), and we look forward to it every week. No word yet on whether this wonderful show will come back for a second season, so be sure to check it out soon so the decision-makers know that people are enjoying it!

So Help Me Todd airs on CBS Thursday nights. We watch it On Demand, and it is also available through Paramount+, Hulu, CBS TVE, Pluto TV, and other popular streaming outlets.