Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On the Road Again?

Well, we're frantically trying to get ready for our spring break trip, but we're not sure we'll be able to leave on time.  What a week!

We got Jamie back to school this week (he's been working non-stop to get caught up after missing all of last week), but Craig's been out sick all this week.  Turns out he wasn't just crashed on Monday...he got strep throat AGAIN!  For those of you keeping score, that's twice in two weeks!!  He just finished his antibiotics Sunday.  The doctor said the test came back positive immediately, even before the timer went off.  The poor kid is absolutely miserable.  His throat hurts so much he can barely eat or drink - when Craig loses his appetite, things are really bad!  Unfortunately, after going to a sleep-over party Saturday night, we assumed his symptoms Sunday and Monday were "just" CFIDS.  It's so hard to tell sometimes.

We are all really excited about the trip (well, Craig will be when he perks up).  I have an awesome stack of audio books for the ride, Ken will get groceries tomorrow (he got mad at me for going to Trader Joe's Tuesday!), we'll load up the camper, and hopefully hit the road.  I can't wait to be camping again!
So, we're hoping Craig feels well enough so we can leave as planned...wish us luck! 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Movie Monday 3/29

Wow, what a movie week!  Poor Jamie was severely crashed for 5 straight days - left the couch only to go to the bathroom and go to bed.  He watched a LOT of movies!!  Plus, we watched some together.
  • With the kids, we watched Planet 51, a very clever animated movie about what happens when a US astronaut lands on an alien planet that looks curiously similar to Earth in the 1950's, only with green-skinned, antennaed citizens.  We all enjoyed it.
  • With Craig at a sleep-over party Saturday night, we watched The Sum of All Fears, starring Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman, with Jamie.  He'd never seen a movie based on a Tom Clancy book before (this was one of his Jack Ryan stories), and he loved it!  I don't know if I should recommend this one to people with CFS, though - it was so tense and suspenseful, my heart was racing!
  • Ken and I watched Northfork Friday night.  How to describe this movie?  The word that kept coming to Ken and I was...weird!  It's about a town in the early 1950's that is going to be flooded when a new dam is put into use.  It sounds like an interesting concept, right?  The movie centers on 6 men, all dressed identically in black, who are responsible for getting the last stragglers to leave town - a guy and his two wives who've built an ark, a guy who's nailed his shoes (with feet in them) to his porch, a devoted priest with a sick orphan in his care.  The whole movie is filmed in this dark, creepy style where everything looks like it's black and gray, and, most perplexing, there is a sub-plot involving angels.  Way beyond quirky.
  • Saturday night, we watched Lean on Me, another movie starring Morgan Freeman, this time as the principal of a failing high school in New Jersey.  It was based on a true story of how the principal took over this school that was like a war zone and transformed it.  This is the kind of movie that leaves you with a lump in your throat and a chill down your spine.  It's a real uplifting story.  In fact, I think the kids would have liked it, too.
Besides those, Jamie watched Ghostbusters, The Bourne Identity (Jamie's first Robert Ludlum movie), Snow Day, Pleasantville (one of our favorites), Welcome to Mooseport, Man of the House, Big Daddy, and Shallow Hal - basically every movie shown on FX last week, plus a few DVDs.  Thankfully, he is back at school today, though now he has a full week's worth of work to make-up (again).  And now Craig is home, crashed, today.  We had to install digital converters on all our TVs yesterday because our cable company is requiring it, so Craig is playing around with all the new channels today.  I hope he bounces back soon.

Have you seen any good movies lately?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Quote It Saturday 3/27

More busy, busy!!  We're frantically trying to finish planning our spring break trip, so after all that computer time this week, I'm now spending the weekend on the computer, too, looking for campgrounds and hotels and making reservations.  We're taking our pop-up camper and driving to southern Louisiana to visit Cajun country, then spending a couple of days in New Orleans.  It's a lot of driving, but we'll be camping along the way - we can't wait!!

So, just a quick quote today.  It's amazing how often I read something that resonates with me with respect to living with chronic illness in an unexpected place.  This was a middle-grade book, Murder at Midnight by Avi, that I recently reviewed at Great Books for Kids and Teens, my kids' book review blog:

It was the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who said,"If we do not expect the unexpected, we will never find it."
    - Murder at Midnight by Avi

This pretty much sums up my feelings about hope.  Despite all the data that few people fully recover from CFS, I still expect to improve over time and perhaps even recover.  I expect that medical research will continue to progress in time to help both me and my sons.

For more on hope, check out these blog posts I wrote a few years ago on Chronic Illness & Hope and Hope, Part 2.

Hope you're having a good weekend!

Friday, March 26, 2010

I'm Still Standing!

Coincidentally, since Chris at Sick and Tired was just talking about song lyrics taking on new meanings, I've had "I'm Still Standing" by Elton John stuck in my head all week:
"Don't you know, I'm still standing, better than I ever did,
Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid.
I'm still standing after all this time..."
It's been a very busy week, and I've passed several physical milestones this week...and I'm still standing (literally)!  Jamie's been badly crashed all week, so he's had the couch, where I usually spend a fair amount of time, but I haven't really needed it much.

I've been working hard at a deadline for work.  It was easy work - almost embarrassing, really - my job was to play a bunch of online games to test out various websites for kids.  But, it meant a lot of computer time, sitting up, plus the stress of working against a deadline.

On Tuesday, I went to the grocery store - all by myself! - for the first time in many months and did a full week's worth of grocery shopping, then ran home, took Jamie to the doctor's office and the drugstore, and stopped at the library for DVDs.  I also made it out to dinner and to my book group with friends that evening.  And (drumroll please)....I didn't crash the next day!  In fact, I even took a walk the next day - that's when "I'm Still Standing" started going through my head.

Another milestone: yesterday: I made it all the way around my neighborhood, about a 20-minute walk (slowly, but I made it) - that's again the first time in months I've been able to do that.

So, it seems that I'm finally coming out of my long winter relapse and hopefully making my way back to where I was last summer.  I don't know whether this is due to the d-ribose I started 2 weeks ago or simply the end of virus season or some combination of the two.  Jamie also started on d-ribose last week, though a cold caused a bad crash all this week.  I'll let you know how it goes for both of us.  One thing is for sure - it's very expensive!

I'm a little worn out this evening, but still standing (or I will be in a moment to make dinner)!  Busy weekend coming up, too - I need to finish planning our spring break trip.  So, lots of reasons to feel optimistic!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

CFS Webinar on Orthostatic Intolerance

Busy, busy week - sorry I haven't had much time for blogging!  The good news is that I'm busy because I've been feeling pretty good AND I have a new writing assignment.  The research phase is due tomorrow and is very time-consuming.  The bad news is that Jamie has been home sick since Tuesday with a sinus infection and strep throat.  He's been on antibiotics for 2 days now but is still crashed.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you about this great Webinar that is going on TODAY at noon, Eastern time, sponsored by the CFIDS Association:  Going With the Flow - Blood Flow, That Is.  It's going to cover Orthostatic Intolerance and the latest research on how reduced blood flow affects people with CFS.  I had planned to participate, but I know I won't have time today.  It should be good.

You have to sign up in advance, so if you're interested, register for the webinar here.  Sorry for the late notice.  If anyone attends, let me know how it was!

Also, iGive is running a great promotion...register for iGive and visit 1store through iGive before noon today (Central time), and they'll donate $1 to the CFIDS Association (or whatever charity you choose when you sign up).  You don't even have to purchase anything - just visit a store (all the major online stores are available through iGive).  iGive is a great organization, and this is a really good deal, so if you're not registered yet, use this link to sign up before noon today!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Movie Monday 3/22

Very hectic Monday here...and tomorrow's not looking much better. All three of us were worn out after our active weekend, though I'm feeling better this evening after a good nap. Craig was in the worst shape (it always surprises him when he feels wiped out on Monday mornings), but he did manage school. It was worth it - we enjoyed our visit up to my cousin's house. The kids all had a blast together.

Ken was away this weekend on a rare getaway with friends, golfing in Myrtle Beach. The poor guy got a stomach virus the first day and spent 24 hours with fever and chills in bed, but he perked up enough to enjoy the last 2 days of golf and is on his way home now. So, I watched a couple of girl movies, plus one with the kids:
  • The boys and I watched Casino Royale, a recent movie about the young James Bond, played by Daniel Craig, who has just achieved 00 status and is still a bit of a loose cannon. It was excellent and very action-packed. Jamie had a school assignment to write an essay about a movie, citing five science-related scenes and whether or not they could really happen. It was a cool assignment, and a James Bond movie was the perfect choice for it!
  • Friday night, I watched The Tenth Circle, a TV movie based on a Jodi Picoult book that a friend had told me about (she and I both read the book). It's a pretty dark story, about a teen girl in Maine who's the victim of date rape. She doesn't remember a lot from the night, and things get more and more complicated as the police investigate her ex-boyfriend. The girl's mother teaches Dante's The Inferno at the local college (hence the title). It was an excellent book, and the movie was very well-done, though it's somewhat disturbing (and made my friend and I glad we each have two boys!). In fact, I quoted from this book in a previous Quote It Saturday - quotes that are amazingly relevant to living with chronic illness.
  • Saturday and Sunday I watched 27 Dresses, a romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl (from Grey's Anatomy). It was a light and sweet movie, the complete opposite of The Tenth Circle, but that's just what I needed after a very long day. By the time we got back from visiting my cousins and I got the boys to bed, I was totally wiped out! I lasted about an hour, then finished the movie Sunday evening. It's about a woman in NYC who has been a bridesmaid in 27 weddings and is always focused of other people's needs. It was a bit predictable but fun and entertaining.
Have you seen any good movies lately?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Quote It Sunday 3/21

Happy First Day of Spring! It's finally here - we survived the long, hard winter!

I'm pretty beat today, but it was expected and worth it. I drove the boys and I yesterday to my cousin's house (90 minutes away) to visit his family and his sister (my other cousin) and her family who were visiting from North Carolina. We hadn't seen the NC group in four years, so it was great to see everyone, and the boys had a blast playing with all their cousins and getting reacquainted.

So, I'm a day late on the weekly quote, and I actually planned one that was a bit more positive, but this is how I felt this morning:

I used to look forward to every day. Now I wake up totally exhausted and think, "Oh, shit, I'm awake."

- CFS patient quote from the book Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Other Invisible Illnesses: The Comprehensive Guide by Katrina Berne, PhD
That is one of many patient quotes Katrina included in her chapter, Overwhelmed and Uncertain: The Effects of CFS and FM. I highly recommend this book. I bought it shortly after being diagnosed with CFS and have read it cover-to-cover several times and still refer to it often. It's a very thorough explanation of the physiology behind CFS, how it's diagnosed, what treatments are available for various symptoms, plus very in-depth coverage of the emotional aspects of living with CFS. When my mother was struggling to understand how CFS affected me, I copied that entire Overwhelmed and Uncertain chapter and sent it to her to read. This book was a real lifesaver for me at a time when I was desperate for information. It was published in 2001, so it's not completely up-to-date in terms of the latest research, but it was very thorough at the time and still provides an excellent overview for understanding CFS, especially for those who are newly diagnosed.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Christian Weight Loss Book

I had all kinds of plans to write a thoughtful, in-depth post on a serious topic today (based on middle-of-the-night musings)....but I'm out of time and energy, and it's Friday evening!

So, instead, I will just tell you about a book review I wrote today of a Christian weight loss program called The Eden Diet. I'm neither a practicing Christian nor much overweight (except for the extra 5 pounds I'm carrying thanks to CFS), but the author is one of my oldest and closest friends. Even recognizing that I'm not really her target audience, I read The Eden Diet and found it very informative. My friend's best qualities - intelligence, compassion, and a great sense of humor - all come through clearly in her book, and she outlines a very common sense approach to changing the way you eat so that you can lose weight. She's also highly qualified, as both a medical doctor who has studied nutrition and obesity and a formerly overweight person herself who lost 75 pounds and has kept it off for over 25 years. Also, she's one of my best friends! her approach could definitely work for someone with CFS (other than the exercise part, of course), and I plan to implement some of her suggestions myself. So, if you do happen to fit into her target audience, you might want to check out my review or The Eden Diet website.

As for me, my week turned out quite differently than I planned (don't they always??). Craig got strep throat this week and was horribly sick for a couple of days; the antibiotics have kicked in now, and he's feeling much better. I'm crossing my fingers that Jamie and I don't catch it. Ken left at 3 am this morning for a 4-day golf trip - he was as excited as a little kid on Christmas Eve! I guess I did OK this week myself - no bad crash days (a few so-so days and one really good day). I'm hoping to be able to drive the kids and I to my cousin's house (90 minutes away) tomorrow to visit with his family and with his sister's family who are visiting. We'll see how we all feel tomorrow. I always feel so bad not being able to nail down my plans for other people, but it is what it is, right?

Have a great weekend and enjoy this beautiful spring weather!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Happiness Award

I was very pleased this weekend when Forgetful Girl gave me The Happiness Award (check out her excellent blog and its list of other Happiness Award winners)! This award is right up my alley because I'm usually a pretty happy person, and I've made a special effort, since my CFS diagnosis, to recognize and appreciate the joys in my life - the things that make me happy.

So, thank you, Forgetful Girl! Now, I'm supposed to list 10 things that make me happy and pass the award on.

Ten Things That Make Me Happy

  • Sunshine! It was shining brightly today and making everything seem better.
  • Music - listening to lively, feel-good music and, of course, singing along!
  • My husband and kids. I love our little family of four.
  • Being outdoors. I wrote a blog post about The Joy of the Outdoors.
  • Good food. Especially with so many of life's little's splurges now unavailable, I love to enjoy really good food (and prepare it for my loved ones when I'm able).
  • Springtime! The sight of the first snowdrops blooming today made me smile.
  • Good friends - both in-person and virtual! I wrote previously about The Joy of Friendship.
  • Losing myself in a really great book.
  • Watching a wonderful, uplifting movie that makes me laugh and cry.
  • Travel. Oh, I love to travel!! I'm currently planning our spring break road trip to Louisiana and am so excited I can hardly wait.
Just making this list made me happy!

So, it's time to pass on The Happiness Award to a few others. As with the last award, this one comes from me with no strings attached. If you feel up to passing the award along, great! If not, no problem. You might want to try listing 10 Things That Make You Happy, though - just making the list will cheer you up!

I'd like to recognize the following bloggers who have shared their happiness with me and inspired me with their upbeat spirits and focus on joy:

Please stop by their wonderful blogs to share in their happiness!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Movie Monday 3/15

Ugh...I hate springing forward. Even worse, I went to bed at 9:30 last night and couldn't get to sleep until past midnight! I had the Sunday Night Spins - that's what Ken and I call those Sunday nights when your brain is spinning with all the stuff you have to do in the coming week and you can't get to sleep. Maybe the d-ribose is still disrupting my sleep, too. I cut back to two doses a day, with the last one at 3 pm, after my nap, and that seemed to work well for a few days. Anyway, bottom line is that I'm short a couple hours of sleep and am wiped out and achy today - definitely a couch day.

We had a busy weekend - I went out two nights in a row and made it to our friends' St. Patty's Day party Saturday evening!! - so we didn't have a lot of movie time but fit in two DVDs:
  • Friday night, after our lovely dinner out, Ken and I watched Amelie, a French movie (with subtitles) I've wanted to see for years. It was nominated for 5 Academy Awards and lauded as The Feel Good Movie of the Year (2001). It's the sweet and funny story of a young woman, Amelie, who is the product of two very strange parents and an isolated childhood. She's living on her own in the Montmartre neighborhood of Paris (I got out my photo album of my high school trip to France after the movie!) and is searching to find both herself and love. Partway through the movie, Ken said, "Did the box say this movie was "quirky"?" Yes, both Amelie and the movie are quirky, but they're also full of humor and fun. It was a nice light-hearted change from some of the more serious movies we've seen lately.
  • With the kids this weekend, we watched Get Smart, the recent big screen adaptation of the classic TV show. We all enjoyed this funny, action-filled movie starring Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, and Dwayne Johnson. The kids have never seen the original Get Smart, but Ken and I enjoyed this remake which stuck closely to the spirit of the original. In fact, Anne Hathaway played a perfect Agent 99, very reminiscent of her predecessor. Jamie said he wants a copy of Get Smart for our own DVD collection - he says it will be perfect for cheering him up on sick days!
Have you seen any good movies lately?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Quote It Saturday 3/13

Well, I did crash after my two big days...but only briefly! I had all the classic CFS symptoms Friday morning - sore throat, aches, exhaustion - so I rested, totally gave up on my to-d0 list, and took an early nap. And...surprise! I felt a lot better by afternoon. Ken came home early, we took each of the boys to a friend's house for a sleep-over, and went to the closing meeting for our mortgage refinancing. Then, Ken and I enjoyed a wonderful dinner out (it's been ages since we've had any time alone together) and a good movie at home in the evening. I'm still feeling pretty good today and am even hoping we may be able to stop by our friends' St.Patrick's Day party tonight (we've missed it for many years). Too early to draw conclusions yet, but I'm thinking the d-ribose might actually be helping!

I thought I'd try to resurrect my Saturday routine of posting a book quote. Since I'm in such a good mood, I was looking for something happy and uplifting today. Today's quote is a partial excerpt from one of my favorite books of 2009, The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells (my review of the audio book). If you're looking for a book to lose yourself in, that will make you laugh out loud and cry your eyes out, this is a great one!

Here's one of my favorite quotes from the book, a list that Calla Lily's mother, M'Dear, wrote that hung on the refrigerator of their home in the little town of La Luna, Louisiana. In the book, La Luna is both the name of the town and the name of the river, and Calla's mother also refers to La Luna, the Moon Lady, who watches over her. I've abridged this list a bit so as to not give away any spoilers:
The Rules of Life According to M'Dear:
  • Sleep with the windows open (window screens are fine, when necessary).
  • Whistle in the dark. Calla Lily, your attempt at whistling is good enough.
  • Good enough is good enough. Perfect will make you a big fat mess every time.
  • Sing anytime you feel like it, and even more when you don't feel like it. Sonny Boy, this does not mean in math class, although you have my permission to sing in all other classes. Will, all your silent singing is good, and also try to sing out loud at least once a day.
  • Let love slip underneath closed doors, through tiny cracks in the walls, through your pores.
  • MOST IMPORTANT: KEEP ON DANCING. Dance while you're brushing your teeth, dance while the sun shines, dance under the moon...Remember, La Luna waits for us to dance in her light, so dance in the streets. When life is happy, dance in the kitchen, and when life is roughest, dance in the kitchen...
- The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells

Lots of good advice, don't you think? I especially like "Perfect will make you a big, fat mess every time." I love the Live Your Life To the Fullest attitude embodied in this novel.

Hope you're enjoying a nice weekend!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sue's Two Big Days

After spending much of the last 6 months homebound, I had a couple of big days of outings this week!

Yesterday, to kick off the day, a wonderful friend drove over here, just to join me in my meager 10-minute slow walk! It was great to see her and have time to catch up. Then I showered (oh, joy!), rested a bit, and went to the library for a book discussion. This was my library's first noon-time book group (they have another that meets in the evening that I've never managed to get to), and I really enjoyed it! The book we discussed was Bel Canto by Ann Pratchett. You can read my brief review at Goodreads, if you're interested.

At the discussion, I ran into an old work colleague from DuPont that I hadn't seen in 15 years, so I enjoyed catching up with her. All this social interaction in one day after so much isolation was thrilling!

Amazingly, I still felt OK today and drove to New Jersey for a check-up with my Lyme doctor. This is always a big day as well, with a 90-minute drive each way. I just got Lyme about 18 months ago. If you missed all that drama (!) and explanation, here is a 2008 blog post about my initial Lyme diagnosis and how to tell CFS from Lyme and here is another blog post from about a year ago with more information about my Lyme treatment, plus information on being tested for Lyme.

As for today, the doctor is still optimistic that I will get rid of Lyme completely. He raised my dose of Plaquonil, an anti-inflammatory that also helps the antibiotics (doxycyline) better penetrate my tissues, so I may experience another herx reaction - hopefully not too bad this time. He agrees that my current relapse is almost certainly a CFS reaction due to exposure to all the viruses this winter; he said it was a terrible season for viruses. So, he and I are both hopeful that I will improve with spring coming. He took blood for standard monitoring, and that's about it.

After my appointment, as is my routine, I stopped at the huge Target store across the street from his office (ours in Delaware is 25 minutes from my house) and stocked up on necessities. The cashier finished ringing up my huge order, I packed all the bags in my cart...and the power cut out for a second before I could pay! We had to unload everything so she could re-scan every item! Fortunately, I was still doing OK. Then, I drove home, with my customary Burger King burger and fries and an audio book in the CD player.

And....(drum roll, please)...I still feel OK! But ask me again tomorrow...

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Trial of D-Ribose

Feeling a little better today but still had bad OI and very limited stamina. The boys are both doing well, though, and the sun is still shining (the rains come tomorrow), so I'm not complaining. I love the sunshine!!!

I'm trying something new, for the first time in a while. I've been in such bad shape this winter that I held off on trying anything new, waiting (in vain) for some kind of steady state. At my last visit, my Lyme doctor (I got Lyme last year, on top of CFS) suggested I try D-ribose. I already had a bottle at home, so I decided to give it a try. It's a sugar that our cells need in order to produce energy, one of many energy pre-cursers in short supply in those of us with CFS. It's also supposed to help with exercise intolerance, which would be the ultimate ecstasy for me right now, as my stamina is terrible.

Here's a recent study of using D-ribose for CFS that had excellent results. The most comprehensive information I found on treating CFS with D-ribose was in this article on Dr. Teitelbaum's website. Many of you remember that I had some major problems with Dr. Teitelbaum's appearance on the Dr. Oz show where he talked about CFS. I do strongly object to the way he portrays CFS in his writings and public appearances - his burring of the line between chronic fatigue and CFS, his overzealous promises of recovery (which we all know is not that simple), and his promotion of his own line of supplements. HOWEVER, all that said, he is knowledgeable about certain aspects of CFS, and his website does contain some good information (if you can get past the sales pitches).

In my own limited experience, I haven't had much luck with other energy supplements I've tried. I think it's because the problems with our cells not producing energy efficiently are effects of CFS, not causes. The root causes lie in our dysfunctional immune systems, our messed up autonomic nervous systems, and our poorly functioning endocrine systems, and I believe that energy supplements won't have much effect until those underlying problems are dealt with. Unfortunately, no one yet knows how to fix our dysfunctional immune systems, though treating underlying infections seems to help.

So, I'm interested to see if the D-ribose helps at all, but I'm not too optimistic. I hope I'm pleasantly surprised. Most studies show it takes about 10 days to see results; I just started on Friday. I do suspect that it's already interferring with my sleep - I've had trouble sleeping at night the last couple of nights and falling asleep for my nap today. I'm going to try changing my dosing schedule to see if that helps.

I'm very interested to hear whether anyone else has tried D-ribose and what your experiences have been.

P.S. Did anyone catch House last night on TV? The featured patient was an obsessed blogger!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Movie Monday 3/8

One of those Mondays. I made a list last night of all the things I wanted to do this week (will I never learn??), then woke this morning feeling awful. I slept poorly, which is unusual for me - the medications I take for my sleep dysfunction normally work well. I got Craig off to school this morning and just collapsed on the couch - sore throat, terrible aches, the works. I tried to get a little work done on the laptop at first, then gave up completely (which was a huge relief). I moved my pillows and blankets to the living room where the sun was shining in and just read my book the rest of the morning, waiting until it was time for my nap. I took an extra-long nap, and I think I'm doing a little better now - we'll see.

Anyway, time for the movies!
  • Ken didn't get back from his trip until late on Friday, so I watched a movie he would have hated, The Sweet Hereafter. I had just read the book last week for my book group and wanted to see how the movie compared. The book was well-written but very depressing - the story opens with a school bus accident in a small town in the Adirondacks that kills many of the town's children...and it never really becomes uplifting or any happier than that! It's told from several perspectives: the bus driver, one of the fathers who lost his twins in the accident, a big-city lawyer who comes to town to stir up interest in a lawsuit, and a teen girl who's left in a wheelchair from the accident and , against her will, becomes the lawsuit's primary witness. I actually liked the movie a little better than the book, though it was still pretty depressing. It was very well-made, though, and captured the best points of the book quite well. In fact, it won an award in the 1997 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for two Academy Awards. Still, Ken would have hated how depressing it was.
  • Saturday night, we watched Elegy together, which was also rather melancholy, though not without its high points. It's about a love affair between a cultured, older professor known for his many romantic conquests, played by Ben Kingsley, and his young, beautiful student, played by Penelope Cruz. It's a very sexy movie, but also very sad. Kingsley's character seems incapable of long-term commitment, even when he realizes he truly loves her. I enjoyed it very much.
Have you seen any good movies lately?

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Weekends, Before and After

It's been a pretty nice weekend so far, but the weekend seems to go by so quickly lately! I usually sleep in a bit (I'm not able to sleep much in the morning - I'm awake at first light - but I manage an extra hour or so on weekends with the help of a sleep mask), then we have a big breakfast - pancakes every Sunday, then Ken and I read the paper, something we don't have time for during the week. By then, it's usually 10 or 11 and only a couple of hours until I have to take my afternoon nap!

So, I try to do a few things around the house, then lunch and nap, then it's time to make dinner, then it's evening already! I really hate not being able to help Ken with yard work and stuff like that.

We've had gorgeous weather this weekend, compared to our past month. Temperatures hit 50 F today, and the sun has been shining brightly. I've gone out each day on two very short walks. My stamina is so horrible right now from this nasty virus-filled winter that I can't manage all the way around the block anymore, so I'm trying very short walks so I can (hopefully) build my stamina back up.

But I'm missing the old days today - you know, pre-CFS days. Back then, I was full of energy. I usually spent one day of the weekend getting things done - yard work if it was nice out or clearing out clutter in the house if it wasn't. The four of us might run errands, going from store to store or run to the home improvement store, then back home for some kind of project.

One day of the weekend, I'd plan something fun for all of us - almost always a hike. We all love the outdoors so much that I made sure to make time once or twice a week to get out hiking. Sometimes we'd explore someplace new or go back to an old favorite spot, hike for a couple of hours, and come back feeling refreshed and full of energy!

Finally, there was usually some sort of social aspect to our weekends. Sometimes Ken and I would go out to dinner together. Often, we'd have friends over for dinner - the kids would run around together, I'd make a big meal, enjoy a couple of beers or a glass of wine, and we'd enjoy our friends' company. I really miss those days.

On the positive side, both boys are having a great weekend! Jamie not only made it to his dance on Friday night (and stayed up past 11!) but managed to play outside all day long on Saturday with Craig and a few of their friends. They were so full of joy with the changed weather! It was only about 45 degrees on Saturday, but they were out running around in shorts and t-shirts, as if it were summer. By some miracle, they both feel good again today! Jamie worked on his homework this morning (he's still trying to catch up from those 6 days he missed last month), and now they're outside again. Craig just ran in to grab more Gatorade, and said to me (out of breath), "I'm having a great time, but it's almost Monday!" I love when they can act like normal kids.

So, I guess, it's actually been a very nice weekend, but I do still yearn for the good old days...

Friday, March 05, 2010

Happy Friday!

Ah, it's the weekend! Although that may not mean much to someone who spends most of her time in her home anyway, I still look forward to it. The weekend means that I don't have to get up early (6 am today!!), I don't have to worry about trying to work when I don't feel up to it, and I get to see more of Ken and the kids. Ken returns from his trip tonight. Thank goodness I only had to handle the early morning routine once this time!

I'm still not feeling great but not horrible either - back to that in-between place that I've spent so much time in these past six months.

I experienced a happy coincidence this afternoon! I haven't been able to go shopping (other than necessities like groceries...and you know where that led me) in a long time, but Jamie desperately needed jeans today. Poor kid has been running around in too-small jeans with rips in them for months (just so you don't think I'm a horrible mother, he has to wear dress pants to school). Anyway, there's a Blackout Dance at school tonight, with black lights, to raise money for Haiti, so I promised to take him to Kohl's after school to buy new jeans.

While I was sitting in the chair outside the men's dressing room, waiting for him to try on ten pairs of jeans, I glimpsed an adorable little half-sleeve cardigan - black with cheery white polka dots - hanging on a nearby rack amidst all the men's clothes. I took off my tired old fleece pull-over, slipped it on, checked it in the mirror, and I loved it! It was just my size and on clearance, reduced to only $10! As you can tell, this just made my day. I don't have a lot of money for shopping anyway, but I do really miss browsing the sales racks and looking for something new.

So, now I'm ready for the weekend! We have no plans, nothing to do, no where to go, and the weather is supposed to finally turn nice here with temperatures in the 50's. Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Missing Out and Resting Up

I wasn't planning to write a blog post today but just felt like talking to someone who gets it... turns out I did have to pay for my victorious return to the grocery store yesterday. I felt fine all day yesterday and OK when I woke up this morning, but then got steadily worse as the day went on. After I got Craig off to school, I made a list of things I wanted to do today...then an hour later crawled into bed, aching all over, and just gave up. I hate days like this.

I've been looking forward to my book group tonight (it's a major part of my meager social life!), but I just decided to stay home. I know it was the right decision because I don't feel disappointed, just relieved. The idea of getting dressed and going out was exhausting, even if it's just to my neighbor's house down the street. I might be able to do it, but I don't want to endure yet another payback day tomorrow. Ken leaves tomorrow for a short business trip, and I'll need my energy to handle things on my own, plus our cleaning service comes tomorrow morning, so I know I won't be able to rest completely.

Just lying here on the couch with my laptop, I know I made the right decision. I feel very achy and mentally wiped out. Hopefully, missing out on my book group tonight will help me to bounce back tomorrow. At least, I can socialize online...

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

My Ill-iversary

Eight years ago today, on March 2, 2002, my life changed dramatically. That was the day that divided my life into before and after.

I was going to include a quote from my journal from that date, but the only remarkable thing about what I wrote is how unremarkable it was. I felt awful that day, but I had no idea that my life had just forever changed; I just thought I'd caught a virus (and maybe I had?). I never dreamed that eight years later, I'd still be sick and certainly never could have guessed that both of my sons would also be chronically ill. How could such a significant day in my life seem so ordinary at the time?

For many years, March 2 marked not only my CFS anniversary but also a low point in my condition (check out my 5-year anniversary post). Fortunately, today I felt much better than I have recently.

I was in really bad shape yesterday. I was not only recovering form a hectic weekend, but I also had a bit a stomach virus. As usual, I didn't really get it full-blown, but I had severe stomach cramps for about 24 hours, plus felt badly crashed. I was much better today and even - ready for this? - went grocery shopping! Woohoo - first time in weeks I made it to the grocery store. No payback yet - I'll let you know tomorrow!

So, another year has gone by, and the boys and I still have CFS. I hope that some day, some year, March 2 will lose its meaning for me.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Movie Monday 3/1

No time for movies this weekend because we made a whirlwind trip to Connecticut for my niece and nephew's birthdays, after yet another snowstorm came through our area. We were planning to leave on Friday afternoon, but with the entire New Jersey Turnpike reduced to 35 mph, we had to wait until Saturday. We left at 8 am Saturday morning and arrived just in time for the birthday party at 1 pm, helped my sister and brother-in-law wrangle 30 noisy kids between ages 4 and 8, and drove back home after breakfast on Sunday. Whew. Today was, by necessity, a recovery day for me.

In place of my usual movie reviews, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite movie-related websites. I keep a running list of movies we'd like to see on an Excel spreadsheet (there's the engineer in me again!). I get ideas from current movies in the theaters, previews on DVDs, and suggestions from friends (thanks!). Before I add a movie to my list, I usually look it up to see whether it's any good:
  • I really like All Movie. You can look up movie titles and read a brief summary of the film, a rating from 1 to 5 stars, plus other pertinent information, like length, attributes, keywords, and themes. Over the years, I've found that the ratings here generally match my own feelings about movies.
  • Metacritic is another website I use frequently to look up potential movies. It gathers all the reviews that have been written about a movie in one database and applies a 0 to 100 rating to each review, so you can see the compiled rating from all reviews or read a specific review, if there's a certain newspaper or reviewer that you like. Metacritic also features reviews of TV, music, and games.
So, when I hear about a movie, I usually look it up on one or both of these sites and note the rating(s) on my list, if it sounds like something we'd like. I also note the length because there are plenty of times when we're too worn out to watch a long movie!

And, when Ken and I have questions about a movie or an actor or actress - as we often do since neither of us can ever remember anything! - we look it up on Internet Movie Database. This site is a wealth of information. So, when we recognize someone on screen but can't remember what other movie we recently saw him or her in, we go to IMDB. It also features news and trailers for new releases.

If you're looking for information on whether movies (or games or books) are appropriate for kids, check out this piece I wrote for Family Fun magazine on review websites for parents.

OK, now I need to get off the couch and make some dinner. I hope I have more energy tomorrow.