#WeekendCoffeeShare (October 24, 2021)

Hi everyone. It’s really sunny out this Sunday afternoon! How about you join me for #WeekendCoffeeShare. I had quite a lot of coffee so far today, as I went out to McDonald’s (well, through the drive-through) with my husband for lunch and had coffee there. It was better than the coffee I had at Subway last week. Then when I came back to the care facility, I had a cup of coffee again. If you’d like a cup of it too, I’m pretty sure there’s still some left, as my staff said her colleague had just made a fresh pot. Let’s have a cup of coffee and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d almost invite you to the balcony. It’s sunny, after all, but quite cold. Besides, the balcony is covered in fallen leaves. So I guess we’ll sit indoors after all.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I managed to get in 12.5K steps yesterday. That’s a huge win, as I had thought my physical condition was declining slightly. Apparently not.

I also went on the elliptical for half an hour on Friday and am planning to go onto it for another 30 minutes later this evening.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that all this is slightly comforting in light of my probable IBS symptoms and the upcoming abdominal X-ray. I mean, if it’s something very serious, I guess I’d have other symptoms, such as unexpected weight loss or declining physical fitness. Please all still pray for me that the X-rays will show something easily treatable.

If we were having coffee, I would share that my husband bought a new car. Well, he’s going to exchange it for our current Volkswagen Golf on Wednesday. It’s a Daihatsu Cuore, a very small car. His VW is still in relatively good shape, but both of us wanted a cheaper car with respect to gas usage, insurance and tax. With the deal he got, my husband says he’ll have saved enough on these to cover the cost of buying the Cuore within the year. I must say I feel a lot better about this car than I felt back when my husband bought the VW.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that I woke up after a nightmare early this morning. It wasn’t yet time for my one-on-one to arrive, so the morning staff helped me put on my music pillow and settle back to bed. I thankfully slept well for about an hour and a half after that. I am really hoping this means that the topiramate is working. I mean, my nightmares aren’t your standard scary dreams and as far as I’m aware, topiramate doesn’t suppress REM sleep altogether, but it does seem to make it easier to let go of anxiety-inducing dreams.

How have you been?

Gratitude List (October 22, 2021) #TToT

Hi all on this mixed-bag Friday weather-wise. It’s cloudy with some rain, but the sun tries to peek through here and there too. I seem to have given up on the blogging challenges entirely, but I’m still attempting to write as often as I comfortably can. Today, I’m doing a gratitude list. I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) as usual. Here goes.

1. I am grateful my staff, the one who is on sick leave, was happy with her presents. Like I mentioned before, I gifted her a handmade soap, hand cream and bracelet. Another staff delivered it to her house as to allow me to save money on postage. The staff who is on sick leave, later texted the other staff an audio recorded message for me. It was so sweet!

2. I am grateful for my nurse practitioner and community psychiatric nurse. On Sunday, I landed in a bit of a crisis and E-mailed them, along with my assigned day activities staff and my support coordinator. My nurse practitioner responded on Monday. Though I felt like he was downplaying my crisis a little, my CPN later said that she at least felt that I was doing well because I asked for help.

3. I am grateful my GP takes me seriously. This really could’ve been a grateful for last week, but I forgot to mention it then. As regular readers of this blog might know, I’ve suffered with what doctors think is irritable bowel syndrome with constipation for years, but it’s gotten worse and somewhat different over the past nine months or so. I saw my GP about it a few weeks ago and he initially sent me home with orders for the staff to fill out a rating scale on my bowel movements. Boy, was it embarrassing having to ask the staff to look at my poop! Thankfully, it did show that I hadn’t been misguided about my symptoms. Last week, we went back with the rating scale and the doc examined me again. After discussing me with the gastroenterologist, he decided to refer me for an abdominal X-ray. It’s been scheduled for this coming Tuesday.

4. I am grateful for my husband’s ability to put things into perspective. I have been worried sick (no pun intended) about the possible outcome of said abdominal X-ray. My husband though said that, since I’ve been having symptoms for as long as he knows me, it’s not likely to be anything serious.

5. I am still grateful for topiramate. The increased dosage does seem to do something in the end. Last night, I had dreams about leaving the care facility, but they do not seem to affect me as much as they used to. I call that a win!

6. I am so grateful for one-on-one support. I cannot say this often enough. I am so very grateful my staff aren’t leaving me when I’m in crisis.

7. I am grateful the chili con carne I had for dinner yesterday was better than I expected. I hadn’t had meal delivery company chili in a while since it’s part of their fall/winter menu. However, I’d remembered it as dry rice with dry beans and a tiny bit of mince thrown in. To my surprise, they’d actually added some sauce and there was more mince in it than I expected.

8. I am grateful that the people who were installing blinds on my side of the building, are finally done doing so. Originally, only the other side of the building had blinds on the outside, but some of my fellow clients suffered badly from the sun shining through their windows during the day especially in summer. It took the company several weeks of installing the blinds and they had to be in each room to program them too. Thankfully, they programmed mine to manual, not automatic. Otherwise, if it’s sunny, the blinds will go down, then if a bit of wind blows they will go up, then down again, up again, etc. I’d rather keep them up and just draw the curtains when it’s sunny.

9. I am grateful that, when they were working on my blinds this afternoon, my one-on-one took me to the snoezelen® room at the day center. After all, the noise was quite unbearable. I loved lying on the waterbed while there was no-one in the adjacent room. So nice!

10. I am grateful I had the energy to go on the elliptical for over 30 minutes this afternoon. When I first stepped onto it, it felt as though I’d hardly manage 15 minutes, but I did pretty well.

What are you grateful for?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (October 17, 2021)

Hi everyone. I’m rather late joining #WeekendCoffeeShare this week and I’m afraid there’s no coffee left. You can help yourself to a soft drink or a glass of water though. I also have chips in my cupboard. After yesterday’s crying fit over there only being the wrong flavor left, I decided to buy some myself. I did ask the staff to put them into a cupboard which they only have the keys to, but I’m pretty sure they’ll love to open it for you. Let’s have a drink and a handful of chips and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee (or a soft drink and chips), I’d share that this week is still quite meh. Early in the week, I was feeling a little more optimistic at the prospect of starting my increased dosage of topiramate soon. I started it on Friday and so far, unfortunately, no change. I am grateful though for no side effects either.

Over the weekend, I’ve really been struggling. I landed in a bit of a crisis earlier this evening, but thankfully pulled myself out of it. I did E-mail my nurse practitioner and CPN at mental health to let them know I’m worried about deteriorating. My husband said I’m not, but the fact that I keep increasing my meds, tells me otherwise

If we were having coffee, I’d moan about my orthopedic footwear after all. The shoes squeak and, though I’m still not in terrible pain, I cannot walk for more than twenty minutes on them without them feeling horribly uncomfortable. Mostly my left foot, the foot on which I wear the AFO, starts to drag. I haven’t heard back from the physical therapist, but am pretty sure she’ll just say I need to push through.

If we were having coffee, I would show you all the soap I made for my assigned staff, the one who’s on sick leave. I heard last Thursday that she’ll remain off work until the middle of November or so due to among other things her needing to use up all her days off for the year or they’ll disappear.

Like I said yesterday, the soap contains vetiver, lavandin and clary sage essential oils. I decided to use a white soap base and no colorants, because I felt the scents would speak for themselves.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that my husband came by today. We drove to Subway for lunch. I dutifully wanted to get out my CoronaCheck app, but my husband told me to wait. As he expected, they didn’t ask us for it. The taco beef wrap I chose, was rather boring and I’m pretty sure the mince they put in it was vegetarian rather than beef. Oh well, now at least I know what not to choose next time.

How have you been?

Loneliness Comes From Within: Some Reflections

I am still struggling badly. I have been having flashbacks of the time when I lived on my own in 2007. When I told my husband this tonight, he asked whether any traumatic events happened there. Not really in the classic sense of the word, but I did suffer intensely. The “cage”, as I called my apartment, was a filthy, dark and gloomy place. Neither I nor anyone else had ever thought of making it into a home.

I was intensely lonely during the three months that I lived in that place. Nonetheless, people did reach out to me. I was in touch with several of my fellow students in the linguistics program at university, one of whom lived in my housing complex too.

When I mentioned this, my husband said that loneliness rarely comes from the environment. It wasn’t that no-one cared, as had been the case during most of my high school years. In fact, multiple people reached out to me, but I was closed off to contact with others. I was so convinced that I was unloveable that I didn’t attempt to form genuine bonds with people.

Sadly, it’s still mostly this way. Just a few days back, I was telling my husband that all caring staff eventually leave, referring to the idea I’ve gotten in my head that my assigned staff is not coming back. Indeed, a number of staff have left in the past or told me they had to distance themselves from me due to my behavior. However, a number have stayed too. In particular, my support coordinator from when I lived with my husband, stuck by me till the end.

Of course, staff/client relations are different from friendships. Staff might leave for reasons that have nothing to do with me. Others will come in their place, sad as it may be. Friends though will not necessarily be replaced. And that’s where it hurts more: I feel intensely incompetent at forming friendships.

I mean, though I did have contact with fellow students and people in my housing complex while living on my own, I mostly sucked up their energy. I feel intensely sad about this. I still feel like I’m not able to make friends ever at all. However, there is hope. Now that I (hopefully) am in a stable living situation, I may be able to build on some genuine friendships after all. I already consider some of my fellow clients my friends. I don’t need to rely on them for support, as I (hopefully) have my staff for that. That should be a relief.

Do-Re-ME: My Favorite Music

Today, I came across Leslie’s Where Bloggers Live. This month’s theme is favorite music.

I am a kid of the 1990s, so, though my parents had a record player, I mostly grew up with cassette tapes and CDs. I remember my father (who was a stay-at-home Dad until I was thirteen) would also often have the radio on in our living room. He generally listened to public radio stations, which didn’t play the latest music and generally were more talk-focused anyway.

As a child and preteen, I was clueless about pop music. I remember the odd ’80s or early ’90s Dutch song, but I had no idea what was “hot”. My parents, aside from public talk radio, listened to 1970s protest songs.

When I was eleven in 1997, my mother encouraged me to develop an interest in music in order to “fit in”. For this reason, I pretended to be into the Backstreet Boys, even though I’d never consciously listened to any of their songs. In reality, I continued to listen to children’s songs for years. In fact, when I went to summer camp in Russia with a group of other teens at age fourteen, I was made acutely aware that listening to children’s songs was definitely not appropriate for someone my age.

I got a stereo player for my twelfth birthday in 1998 and I did buy the odd CD to play on it. I was mostly into ABBA or its upbeat cover band the A-Teens (which I spelled “eighteens” for years). Once I got into mainstream high school in 1999, I occasionally bought CDs recommended by other students in the school newspaper. I still to this day love The Corrs.

I eventually started listening to commercial radio stations at around age fifteen, but I never quite developed a truly defined taste in music. I still like to listen to all kinds of music. Some days, I’m into Dutch songs, usually dialect rock (such as Normaal or Mooi Wark) or truck driving songs. Other times, I’m into Celtic folk, country (usually 1970s songs such as by Bobby Bare or Buck Owens) or southern rock. Still other times, I’m into contemporary Christian music. Sometimes, quite the opposite. I even have a “Punk etc.” playlist on Spotify with songs from the likes of Cock Sparrer. I don’t really listen to that anymore though. Occasionally, I’ll revisit an old favorite genre of mine: world music.

When my now husband and I first met, he asked me what kinds of music I liked. I replied that I liked world music. Once, several years later, I played a favorite CD of mine with Latin music on it, which I’d had in mind at the time. He was glad he hadn’t known back then that this was what I’d meant or he might not have decided to meet me again. He, by the way, was the one who introduced me to most of my current favorite genres and artists.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (October 9, 2021)

Hi everyone on this sunny Saturday. Well, it’s not sunny anymore, as the sun has just set, but it was sunny all afternoon. Today I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare again. I’m in Lobith and I usually have tea in the evenings here, but if you’d like a cup of coffee, I’m sure my husband can make you one too.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that this week was all quite meh. I’ve said this a couple of times already over the past week. It’s all just one endless stream of sadness, triggers and the resulting flashbacks.

I’m pretty sure I’ve decided I’m going to ask my nurse practitioner to up my topiramate on Monday. I hope this means I won’t have to wait for my next weekly med refill on Saturday to get the upped dose. Of course I know meds won’t solve everything, but I can’t think of anything else right now.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I did find some inspiration in the soaping and essential oil departments again. Yesterday, I even managed to make a simple butterfly melt and pour soap.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I also managed to get in more steps this week than last week and that’s not counting tomorrow yet. Okay, last week was quite a bad week in the walking department, but oh well, let’s be thankful for the little things.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my orthopedic footwear finally returned from whoever (Shoe or AFO Guy) was working on it earlier this week. It finally seems to be okay now. Not great, but okay. I have at least been able to walk some 25 minutes on the footwear without too much pain and am pretty sure it needs getting used to as well.

If we were having coffee, I would repeat how grateful I am for all the lovely comments on my blog. Like I mentioned last week, I’m participating in #Blogtober21, though my only goal right now is to publish a blog post everyday. I’m no longer going with prompts. Today, I almost wouldn’t have written a post, as I’m with my husband in Lobith like I said and this usually means I can’t concentrate. However, I didn’t want to break my streak.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share my husband cooked me a delicious rice and meatballs meal this eveningn. Neither of us was full after it, so we ended up ordering something else afterwards. However, the meal was very tasty!

How have you been?

Gratitude List (October 8, 2021) #TToT

Hi everyone. I’m still struggling quite a bit, but I’m determined that, if I don’t write to the 31 prompts for the 31-day writing challenge, I’ll at least write a blog post everyday. To cheer myself up, today I’m doing a gratitude post. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Here goes.

1. I am grateful for pizza. Yes, again. Last Sunday, like I mentioned in my #WeekendCoffeeShare post, we ordered food from the local Italian restaurant. I ordered a tuna pizza and it was delicious!

2. I am grateful for my staff. As I mentioned several times over the past week, my assigned home staff is on sick leave. Thankfully though, I still do have other staff. I struggle to trust them, but am trying.

3. I am grateful for new essential oil inspiration. Last Monday, I signed up to the Using Essential Oils Safely VIP club for one month. It’s too expensive for me to remain a member longer, but I’m learning all I can while I have the membership. I did put a few new essential oils on my wishlist to buy someday.

4. I am grateful for my bed’s adjustable headrest and legrest. That way, I am able to lie in bed much more comfortably.

5. I am grateful for quetiapine (Seroquel). This is my PRN medication. I’ve needed it quite a few times over the past week and am happy it helps at least a little.

6. I am grateful for the support from my community psychiatric nurse and nurse practitioner. I had a regular appt with my CPN on Wednesday and told her how much I was struggling. She offered to ask my nurse practitioner to call me on Thursday and I reluctantly accepted the offer. He did call and we agreed to discuss possibly upping my topiramate (Topamax), which I take for PTSD symptoms, on Monday.

7. I am grateful for my husband. He is very able to put things into perspective.

8. I am grateful for St. Nicholas candy. The holiday isn’t till December 5, but the candy has been in stores since mid-August and my staff ordered it earlier this week. (Thankfully my fellow clients don’t have the awareness of time to get confused by this, as people of higher intellectual level might.) I had a large handful (well, a small bowlful) of candies this evening.

9. I am grateful I am still able to blog everyday in spite of my distress. I am also so grateful for all the engagement on my blog, particularly on my posts about the mental hospital. Thanks a bunch everyone for your support!

Well, okay, nine things of thankful this time, but it’s alright. What are you grateful for?

#IWSG: Drawing the Line

IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and this means the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) is meeting. It doesn’t matter that it’s Blogtober and the 31-day writing challenge is running. It’s already past 8PM as I write this, so I probably won’t have time for a separate post for these challenges. Maybe I’ll catch up with the word prompts from the latter challenge tomorrow. Maybe not.

For those visiting from #Blogtober21 or the 31-day writing challenge anyway, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group gathers each first Wednesday of the month to discuss our writing insecurities, fears, successes and setbacks. There is also an optional question each month.

First, let me share that I did quite well in the writing department over the past month. I published 22 blog posts in September, one more than in August. I also think I did an okay job of broadening my writing horizons. I (re)discovered the diary app Diarium and did an okay job keeping a journal in there for part of the month. Not so much in October so far.

For October, my goal is just to write a blog post everyday in keeping with the challenges I’m participating in. I may or may not go with the 31-day writing challenge word prompts. I don’t really intend to write much in the way of fiction or poetry, but who knows where my muse will lead me?

Now on to this month’s optional question: where do you draw the line with respect to topics or language?

First, I have a clear line relating to language: I don’t swear in my writing. Even when one of my angry alters was writing on here and tried to drop an F-bomb, I censored it out. I do occasionally use bad language on social media. I don’t use profanity though and haven’t for a long time, even before I became a Christian. I in fact find unnecessary use of foul language (which is most use of foul language) quite offputting in my reading too.

With respect to topics, well, since I write mostly autobiographical musings on here, I draw the line where I invade other people’s privacy. For example, when I mention my husband, I make sure it’s in a lighthearted way. I won’t write about our arguments, about our intimate life, etc. I do need to say though that I had to learn to shut up about such topics the hard way. In fact, my husband still likes to jokingly remind me of a post I published on an old, now-private blog in 2008 in which I described my expectations should he and I become a couple officially. In particular, he likes to tease me about calling him a “kid”.

For clarity’s sake, I am not and never was one to describe violence, sex etc. in detail. Even when I still did describe my fights with my parents or my intimate life with my husband, I didn’t use explicit language. Similarly, when I write fiction or poetry, I must say, I generally keep my language quite non-explicit too. I do write about dark topics, but usually by trying to convey the emotions rather than going into detail about the actual facts.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 19, 2021)

Hi all on this late Sunday evening! Boy, am I late joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. I’ve had all my coffee for the day and even had my last soft drink. If you’d like one, I’m sure I can still pass you one through the Internet though. Let’s have a cup of coffee or another drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that the weather is still pretty good for September here. Temperatures rose to roughly 20°C in the afternoon and it’s been mostly dry with some sunshine and some clouds. Today while in the car being taken back to the care facility from Lobith, my husband even said I had to wear sunglasses. Now sadly the sunlight wasn’t particularly bright to my (almost) totally blind eyes, but yesterday I’d gotten a headache from what might’ve been exposure to bright sunlight that I wasn’t consciously detecting.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my husband and I had our tenth wedding anniversary today. We celebrated it yesterday with a large Domino’s pizza. We each had a milkshake too, but it was far too thick for my liking. I couldn’t finish drinking it, whether I tried the paper straw that came with it or my own silicone straw.

If we were having coffee, I would finally show you the picture of the present I gave my husband for our anniversary. It’s a polymer clay heart with the text “Assie houdt van je” stamped into it. Assie is my nickname (and no, in Dutch, there is no connotation to asses) and “houdt van je” is Dutch for “loves you”. There is magnetic tape at the back so that my husband could hang it on the fridge.

Polymer Clay Heart for My Husband

My husband really appreciated the gift.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the rest of my week was okay. I was a little sad and grieving the loss of my eyesight, as well as worrying about my upcoming care plan review. The review won’t be until September 30 and of course it doesn’t involve judgment and it isn’t a test.

However, I have been increasingly aware of my inner fight regarding my wish to stay here in Raalte and yet my feeling that I ought to be looking for another care facility or working towards living with my husband. In my paragraph about the bright sunshine, I almost wrote I was taken “home to the care facility” rather than “back”, as if our house in Lobith is less of a home to me than the care facility. My support staff would consider this progress, in that I’m beginning to feel safe here at the care facility. However, there’s an inner voice that tells me that this is betraying my husband. I know he supports me staying here for now, but I also know he struggles with the distance. Ugh, this is so hard.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I’m very curious about iOS 15, which will be out tomorrow. Like almost every year, there is one critic on the Dutch VoiceOver E-mail group who warns all of us to wait because it’ll be drama. This year though, the accessibility bugs seem not as serious as last year and especially the year before. Still, I’ll probably wait at least a couple of weeks until at least some of the other members of the group have actually installed the official release. I am really curious about live text in photos and improved VoiceOver image recognition though.

How have you been?

Gratitude List (September 17, 2021) #TToT

Hi everyone! I’m struggling with grief a bit today. I thought at first that I wanted to write about it, but I’ve made up my mind. Rather, I want to distract myself and, for this reason, am doing a gratitude list. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Here goes.

1. I am grateful for my husband. We’ll celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary this weekend and I’m so glad he’s put up with me through all these years.

2. I am grateful to be pain-free right now. I woke up in some pain a few mornings this week, but right now, it’s evening and I’m not in pain.

3. I am grateful I am doing relatively well sticking to a healthier lifestyle. I started two weeks ago and, in my first week, lost 800 grams. I’m going to weigh myself tomorrow morning again.

4. I am grateful for relatively good weather still. It’s still pretty warm, with temps rising to about 20°C each day. We’ve had some rain, but not too bad.

5. I am grateful for quick replies from the developer of Diarium, the app I reviewed on Tuesday. He’ll hopefully be able to figure out why the app isn’t showing up on the App Store for at least some people.

6. I am grateful for Diarium’s built-in “My Day” template. I am also grateful that Diarium is pretty much completely translated into Dutch, including the template, so that I can now easily journal in my native language. That helps me get out of “writing for an audience” mode. I am grateful I am on a four-day streak in Diarium (not that the app keeps track) now.

7. I am grateful for good books to lose myself into.

8. I am grateful for Pringles. My day activities staff, the one who had her 25th anniversary of working for this agency in August, celebrated the occasion officially yesterday. She gave us all chips, in my case Pringles, because I like those the best.

9. I am grateful to have been relatively creative despite feeling a bit meh over the past week.

10. I am grateful to be a child of God. I have been increasingly inspired to not just proclaim Jesus as my savior, but to allow Him to be Lord over my life.

What are you grateful for?