Lovin’ Lately (September 25, 2020)

It’s Friday and that means it’s time for the Friday Favorites linky. I don’t join in every week, but today, I have a lot of amazing things I’ve loved lately.

1. My new essential oil diffuser. I had promised myself a new one when my benefits came in on Wednesday. After all, the old one was a bit leaky at times and its buttons had been stuck for a while. Wednesday in the middle of the night, I decided to order it despite my benefits not having shown up in my bank account yet. I got it from Bol.com, a large Dutch online store similar to Amazon. When checking out, Bol.com offered me free same evening delivery because I have a type of subscription (only €9,99/year) with them that allows free delivery. It seems rather decadent to want same day delivery on non-essentials, but so what? It arrived the following evening at around 8:30 and I love it!

2. Lots of essential oils. I ordered those at the end of last week at an online soaping supplies store. However, they take 3-6 working days to process and ship your order, so my oils didn’t arrive till Tuesday. I went through my old essential oils on Wednesday, seeing which had expired. I still have quite a lovely selection though. Currently, a blend of patchouli, bergamot and lavender is diffusing in my diffuser.

I also ordered some other soaping supplies, but haven’t used those yet.

3. Chocolate. On Wednesday, I had been in the care facility for one year. To celebrate, I asked my staff to get some mini candy bars for me and the other clients to enjoy. I particularly loved the crispy one.

4. Books. I haven’t been reading that much lately, but I did download a few new books off Bookshare. Among these are, not surprisingly, several books on essential oils. However, I also saw that the latest Katherine Center novel, What You Wish For was added to Bookshare. I haven’t gotten down to reading any of her books, but I think I’d enjoy them.

5. A weighted blanket. I discussed sensory integration with the physical therapist a while ago and suggested I try a weighted blanket for relaxation. The company that my care facility works with, sends them on a try-out basis for two weeks for just shipping costs. If it helps, the physical therapist is even going to ask my facility to purchase it for me. So far, it’s pretty great.

6. A small table. When we had the COVID scare and were in room-based isolation early in the week, I needed a table to eat on other than my desk. The staff got a small table from an empty room. We’re no longer in isolation, but I’m allowed to use it for as long as no-one else needs it. I love it! I have my diffuser on it. Used to have it on my countertop, but that didn’t work. I may ask my husband to help me look for a similar table at Ikea.

What are some things you’ve been lovin’ lately?

My Medication Musings: Abilify

It’s been a while since I last did a post on my medications. Today I’m writing about the medication I’ve been on the longest: aripiprazole (Abilify). I’ve been taking this second-generation antipsychotic for over ten years.

When I first got prescribed Abilify in 2010, I had been on no psychotropic medications except for PRN oxazepam for over two years. I was having a lot of meltdowns though and the staff at the psych hospital couldn’t adequately care for me. I was sent to the locked ward for a time-out shortly before starting on Abilify.

When my psychiatrist proposed this medication, he made a pun about the drug’s name by saying it makes things a little easier. I didn’t like that, but agreed to take a low dose of Abilify anyway. I started at 5mg a day.

Within half a year, I had had my dose upped to 15mg a day. I did pretty well on that moderate maintenance dose for several years, until I moved to another hospital. There, the staff/client ratio was lower and besides, staff weren’t as willing to accommodate for my needs. I quickly had to up my dose again to eventually 30mg a day.

I wasn’t so sure I wanted to go beyond 15mg, as most clinical guidelines recommend a higher dose for acute mania or psychosis only. My new psychiatrist disagreed and seemed to have no interest in lowering my dose once I had upped it. For this reason, I’m still on 30mg a day.

When I first came here, I expressed a wish to lower my dosage once I’d settled into the care facility. The intellectual disability physician for my facility as well as my psychiatric nurse practitioner recommended I wait at least six months. I’ve now been in the care facility for a year, but haven’t felt comfortable asking to be tapered yet.

Now I must say I don’t experience any of the more major side effects, such as akathisia (a form of physical restlessness). I however do feel slightly sedated.

I also feel that the medication’s effect has worn off over the years. I recently learned that your neurotransmitter receptors overgrow when you’ve been on psychotropic drugs for a long while. At least, that seems to be the case for the dopamine D2 receptor, the one Abilify mainly acts on. Recommended action is lowering the dosage or trying another medication. I will definitely raise this issue with my nurse practitioner.

As a side note, like I said, I had my dosage upped once I moved to a psych ward with a lower staff/client ratio and less willingness to accommodate my needs. This is not an appropriate reason for medication increases, but I didn’t know what else to do.

Negative

This is probably going to be a quick post. Like I said on Sunday, I was interrupted while blogging by a staff to tell me I and all other clients with cold symptoms were from then on in room-based isolation. We would be tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible. Thankfully, yesterday morning, the facility’s nurse came to test us. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was okay. I am however pleased to inform you that I, as well as all other clients, tested negative for coronavirus!!!

It was no fun being in room-based isolation. The hardest part, for me, was the fact that staff had to go to each client’s room for individual support rather than combining care activities, so there was effectively less time for each of us. The staff who had come to inform me of the isolation, said I could press the call button as often as needed. Well, press the call button I could, but that didn’t guarantee a staff would have time to come.

Yesterday, I landed in a rather bad crisis. Initially, I had been really upset and crying and screaming. Then one staff came to inform me that she wasn’t wearing protective clothes and the staff who was, would come “in a while”. That’s a rather unclear comment to make to an autistic person. I freaked out and became destructive.

For those asking why that staff wasn’t wearing protective clothes, staff need to change into different protective clothing when visiting each person suspected of coronavirus separately. They also need to leave the protective clothing at the client’s doorstep. After all, suppose my snot gets onto the staff’s protective clothing and they then go help someone who isn’t showing symptoms. Then that person runs extra risk of contracting COVID-19. You see, over half of the clients did not show symptoms.

Thankfully, the staff in protective clothing came about ten minutes later. She was able to comfort me a little.

Today at around 2:15PM, I heard the day activities staff tell another symptomatic client that he was free to leave his room. I thought I heard her say that “all is well again” or something like that, but I didn’t dare hope I was negative too. Well, I was! The first thing the staff asked when telling me everyone had tested negative, was whether I wanted to go for a walk. Of course I did.

We also had French fries at the facility’s cost to celebrate the good outcome. I was almost writing “positive”. It’s a positive outcome indeed that everyone was negative!

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 20, 2020)

It’s Sunday and I want to tell you more about my life right now. For this reason, I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. The image above is taken on a bridge over the local channel. I’m not there right now and in fact did not go out for a walk today at all. I did drink coffee. And pure green tea – not the matcha powder type. If you want any, you can grab some. There’s also cold water in the fridge. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, firstly I’d share that it was my and my husband’s ninth wedding anniversary yesterday. I wasn’t able to visit him though, because I have a cold. At first I wasn’t sure whether just a cold means I need to stay home, but my husband sent me the COVID-19 FAQ from the health authorities that said I had to. Strangely, a staff who has a cold slightly milder than mine, was working this morning anyway.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I did send my husband a card with a photo of me in it. He appreciated it.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I just got interrupted while writing this post by a staff to tell me several other clients show cold symptoms. I already knew this, but it means we’re from now on being cared for in our rooms. We’ll get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible, maybe today but I don’t think so.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I am loving learning more about essential oils and soap making. I downloaded three books on the topic of essential oils from Bookshare yesterday. Of course, since I don’t have a microwave or stove in my room, I won’t be able to make soap while we’re still being isolated. However, I do have my essential oil diffuser and oils here, so I can make my own diffuser blends.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I requested my staff bring me some coffee cups so that I can make Senseo coffee in my room. I mean, staff do come here to deliver our meals and help us whenever we need it, but they do need to wear protective clothing when entering our rooms. I think that’d be a bit annoying for them if they had to bring me coffee.

What else is new? A lot really, but all seems futile now that we’re in room quarantine. For those who pray or send positive vibes, do get those prayers/healing vibes/etc. coming our way.

What have you been up to lately?

Gratitude List (September 18, 2020) #TToT

It’s Friday, yay! It’s the Friday there are no day activities, so I spent most of my morning and part of the afternoon in bed. I’m feeling a bit tired and down in the dumps, so I thought I’d do a gratitude list. As always, I’m linking up with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. The weather. Early in the week, the temperatures reached over 30 degrees Celsius. I loved being able to wear a skirt for what might be one of the last days this year.

2. Going for walks. I reached my step goal of 10K steps a day three times this week.

3. The scenery. I cannot fully enjoy it, of course, as I’m blind, but I do appreciate it.

Scenery

4. Taking pictures with my phone. I, of course, needed some help taking them and still needed to delete several because my finger was showing. However, I loved the ability to do it. I’m still not planning on following the rule of a picture with every post, as that just won’t work for me.

5. The sensory garden. I spent some time in it on Tuesday afternoon. I loved smelling the rosemary. Sadly, the lavender had already stopped flowering. I also loved listening to the little stream of water.

Sensory Garden

6. Wraps. We made those for lunch on Thursday and I loved them. I had three of them. We had them filled with chicken, lettuce, cucumber and red pesto.

7. Soap making, of course. I loved being inspired to make some soaps again and am planning on making more. One of the staff is retiring next week, so I’ll make one for her.

8. My essential oil diffuser. Okay, its buttons are almost stuck, but not completely, so I can still use it. Last night, when I couldn’t sleep, I diffused a store-bought essential oil blend called Sweet Dreams into it. I am already on the lookout for a new diffuser in case this one stops working altogether. I also have been looking at recipes to make my own blends.

9. Special interests. And people who listen to me perseverating about them. My current special interest is, of course, soap making and aromatherapy. I have been loving telling a new staff, who will be replacing the retiring staff, all about how to make soap, lip balm, essential oil blends and such.

10. My husband, of course. It’s our ninth wedding anniversary tomorrow, so how can I not mention him? I saw him over the week-end and will be seeing him again tomorrow.

What are you grateful for?

Green Tea and Lemon Soap

This week, one of Mama Kat’s writer’s workshop prompts is to write about the last thing you made. Another of her prompts is about something good that happened this week.

Well, the good thing that happened to me is the fact that I’m motivated for soaping again. I’m seriously loving it!

Last week, I googled all over the Internet for soaping recipes, but didn’t really find the motivation or time to actually make any soaps. This week, I made two.

Now I must say that researching soaping is almost as enjoyable as is actually making soap. For example, today, I decided to look into making all-natural soaps and researching essential oil brands that are relatively safe. I mean, I know that natural health-minded people say that essential oils are by definition safer than fragrance oils, but I disagree. This is the reason I used a fragrance oil in the soaps I made this week.

So what did I make? Those who saw my Lovin’ Lately post last week might be guessing it correctly. Yes, I made green tea and lemon soap! I used this recipe for inspiration.

I used my default brand white glycerin-based melt and pour soap base. Then I added the cheapest matcha green tea powder I could find. After all, I didn’t really need it for actual tea. I used one teaspoon for about 100g of soap. I added a fragrance oil called Juicy Yellow Lemon from a great fragrance oil store. In my first soap, pictured below, I added three drops of fragrance oil, but I felt it was a little strong. I wouldn’t recommend using 3/4 teaspoons essential oil in one pound of soap, as the linked recipe recommends, because particularly lemon EO is very phototoxic.

The green tea got a little clumpy as I mixed it in with the soap base. Maybe I should’ve mixed it with some glycerin first, but I didn’t have any on hand. Actually, I think the spotty effect is a bit charming in its own right.

I made this one yesterday. Today, I made another soap using the same method, but it is heart-shaped. That one is for my husband, as it’s our ninth wedding anniversary on Saturday.

So how did I like it? I rarely use the soaps I make myself, but decided to give this one a try before making the one for my husband. Contrary to my expectations, the soap feels really smooth when using it. I also don’t feel like my skin gets rubbed too much. I loved the combination of green tea with the lemon scent!

What have you made recently?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Pandemic Positives

Today, Fandango asks in his weekly provocative question wehther the need to quarantine as a result of COVID-19 has made you a better person.

Lockdown here started in the middle of March with restaurants acutely closing their doors, school closures and, a week later, a no-visitors policy in nursing homes and care facilities. I couldn’t see my husband for nearly three months. Then we could see each other, but we had to keep our distance as much as possible.

Life more or less returned to some sembleance of normal at the end of June. Still, people are scared. I, not so much, though I do take COVID-19 seriously. There are still certain restrictions, most of which don’t affect me too much.

The main thing affecting me was not being able to see my husband. This certainly made me appreciate our very special relationship even more than I appreciated it already. I mean, I chose to go into long-term care last year, of course not knowing that this would mean not seeing my husband for a few months. However, I doubt most marriages would survive even that decision, let alone the consequences. I attribute the success of our marriage mostly to my husband’s everlasting love, but I do deserve some credit for it too.

In general, too, the pandemic has made me more appreciative of what I do have. I am physically healthy and so are my loved ones. In April, a man at the home below me died of coronavirus. Though he was in his 70s, this shocked me a little. My father is in his 70s too, so I’m all the more grateful to still have him.

Other than gratitude, I think the pandemic taught me some level of creativity. Before the lockdown, I found it hard to connect to my husband when I didn’t see him. Now we call each other multiple times a week and text multiple times a day. Of course, I could’ve done that before too, but out of need grew the solution.

I also read somewhere that some people are particularly happier now than they were before the pandemic. I have to say so am I. The reasons may not be related to the pandemic at all, as I’ve also finally settled into the care facility and such.

In general though, I think the pandemic has had and continues to have negative effects on the world, of course. However, if it affected me personally at all, it’s positively. By this I don’t mean my economic, social or health status, of course. Though I’m still financially secure and healthy, no-one knows whether this will remain this way given the huge economic costs of the pandemic. I’ve just become a more positive (or should I say less negative?) person.

A Sunny Monday

Hi all on this beautiful Monday! It’s mid-September but the temperatures rose to 29°C here anyway. Tomorrow we’re supposed to get even hotter weather, with temperatures rising to 34°C in some places in the south of the country.

I went for three walks today. In the morning, my regular day activities staff was in a meeting, so a substitute came. She took me on a long’ish walk. I think we took over half an hour. Then in the afternoon, I took my usual 20-minute walk when the regular staff had returned.

I was originally planning on taking some pictures, but ultimately I didn’t really have the courage. That little voice that says as a blind person I shouldn’t be interested in visual stuff like photographs, was pretty prominent in my mind.

In the evening, I took another longer walk. The staff who took me pointed out that there were some cows real close. I asked her to take a picture with my phone. Both Seeing AI and Envision, my two image description tools on my phone, didn’t get beyond calling it livestock, but my iPhone itself did identify cows in the picture.

Ultimately, I took over 12K steps so far today. This gives me an excuse to take it easy tomorrow, when it’s going to be so hot. I might make a soap then or maybe I’ll try out the matcha green tea in a smoothie. I doubt I’m going to try it as regular tea, as I’ve heard it tastes pretty bitter then.

I may also visit the sensory garden attached to the day center. I went there some weeks ago and loved smelling the herbs. There’s a birdcage there too, although at the time the birds didn’t make a sound.

I may try to take some pictures myself. What do you think? As a blind person, should I be interested in pictures, and if so, is it worth it if I try to take them myself? I mean, would you like to see more pictures on this blog even if they’re not good?

The Ordinary Moments

My Bucket List

Carol anne over at Therapy Bits did a blog post detailing her bucket list. It reminded me that, in May of 2018, I did one as well on my old blog. It was based on a prompt from an app I have on my iPhone that asked me to list 25 goals I have for the next 25 years. In 25 years, I’ll be 59 and hopefully still alive and well. However, this list is going to detail the things I want to accomplish in life as a whole. After all, my paternal grandma, who died shortly before I wrote that post, taught me by example that a lot can still be accomplished after 60. I’m not aiming for a particular number of items this time.

1. Write my autobiography. This was #2 (after finding suitable day activities) on the original list. I still haven’t gotten down to it, but I really want to.

2. Get published some more. I have been saying for the past five years that the one piece I got published in an anthology in 2015 makes me a writer, but I really want to get published more. Note to self: get to writing that piece for the Chicken Soup book.

3. Travel to the United States. I really want to visit some people who live there, but I also definitely want to enjoy the scenery.

4. Visit Ireland. My husband traveled to Ireland with his Dad when we’d been dating only for a short while. I’d love to see the country, eat at the high-quality vegan restaurant in Dublin my husband ate at and meet carol anne, who lives in Ireland.

5. Visit Poland. Emilia from My Inner MishMash lives there, so it’d be cool to meet her. However, it’s also cool to visit because my husband knows some Polish.

6. Stay at an all-inclusive resort. I don’t care for tropical destinations. All I want is to swim and eat as much as I want, even if it’s in my own country.

7. Get a guide dog. Okay, this is unlikely if I’m going to stay in the care facility, but one can dream, right?

8. Take some more distance learning college classes. I would still like to enroll at the Open University again. I’d also like to do some education courses, which would be through a commercial college as the OU doesn’t offer that program.

9. Take some in-person college classes. This is going to take some years, as those under 50 certainly can’t attend individual college classes without a prior college degree. I’m not sure the higher education for older people program still exists even.

10. Take a writing course. I have been looking at Writer’s Digest and other writing schools, but so far they’re way too expensive for me.

11. Do some volunteering. I’d love to someday do some volunteer work in social services or social care. For example, maybe I can be a language buddy to someone learning Dutch as a second language, or work as a volunteer helping people fill out forms for social services etc.

12. Sit on the client council for my care facility.

13. Join a gym, yoga studio or other out-of-the-house exercise place. I intended on doing this before COVID-19 hit and until there’s a vaccine, it’s likely not an option due to the assistance I need.

14. Keep up with technological advancements. I am pretty proud of myself for having learned to use the iPhone at age 31, but still I’d like to keep up-to-date with new technology for as long as I possibly can.

That’s it really. Other items I had on my list back in 2018 included getting more active, which I already manage, buying a house, which I’ve done too, and staying as healthy as possible. These are not necessarily items for on a bucket list though.

What’s on your bucket list?

Lovin’ Lately (September 11, 2020)

Hi everyone on this beautiful Friday! How are you all? I’m doing pretty well. I thought I’d share another edition of Lovin’ Lately. As usual, I’m linking up with Friday Favorites.

1. Cold tea. Last Saturday, a staff brought a bag of so-called cold tea. This is a new product from Pickwick (I believe). It’s herbal tea that you add to cold water instead of hot water. The staff brought me the pineapple and lime flavored one.

2. Fragrance oils. I decided for the first time to check out a webshop specializing in fragrance oils for candle and soap making or oil diffusers. I’d heard of this shop before, but never bought anything off it. This time, I ordered two fragrance oils: one pineapple and the other juicy yellow lemon. I got another fragrance oil as a gift. That one isn’t suited for soap or skin or hair care products, but I’ll try if I can diffuse it in my oil diffuser.

3. MyNoise. Emilia over at My Inner MishMash recommended this app (well, she didn’t name it until I asked). Like she says, it’s an app that lets you listen to various soundscapes and you can set the volume for each individual sound within the soundscape. I pretty soon decided to purchase the full version, which has like 150 different sounds. You can also somehow calibrate your own soundscapes or something, but I’m not sure how that works. I’ve so far been listening to a lot of nature-based soundscapes.

4. Soap making recipes. On Monday, I decided to check out YouWish, a Dutch soaping supplies store with a great blog. I really want to get into the soap making craft again. I haven’t yet tried out any of the recipes yet, but will next week. Some use micas, which are powdered colorants. I bought two at the fragrance oil store too.

5. Matcha green tea powder. When searching for more melt and pour soap making recipes, I saw a recipe that uses green tea powder as a colorant and additive. I immediately decided to order some matcha green tea powder. The site said that it’d arrive within a day, but it didn’t. It finally arrived today. I saw on the packaging that besides tea, you can also use this in smoothies. That sounds pretty cool!

What have you been lovin’ lately?