From the Chandelieeeeer

Ok, look. I’m just going to be straight up honest with you here and admit that I am NOT the best housekeeper by any means, but I’m not disgusting. Gross, sometimes [I do have a kid], but not disgusting. And I tell you this because we’ve developed a bit of a fly probem, which might bump me up into the upper tiers of grossness but, honestly, most of it is not my fault so hold that Judgey McJudgerson judgement for just a bit longer as I explain.

Our dog was diagnosed with Lymphoma on April 13th, and a few weeks later stopped eating her regular dog food. So I started scrambling to feed her whatever people food she would eat – which worked great for about two weeks. Then one day I had to feed and water her by hand. When she regained her appetite, or so I thought, I served her a big spoonful of her favorite beef and rice…and the entire bowl disappeared.

No, not like she ate it. She HID it. The entire bowl, with it’s contents. I laughed at first. What a weird thing for her to do, right? I laughed until I couldn’t find real people food in an open container for three days. Not so funny anymore.

I learned that she hid it because I put it next to her new sleeping spot and that she wanted her area clean AND probably also did not want the food period because her appetite was just about completely gone. And so, while looking for my son’s hoodie, I found the bowl and the spilled food in the corner of our “coat rack”, which is a bunch of hooks I hung behind the door but nothing really gets hung on them because my son throws his shit on the floor.

But I digress.

Grossness ensued as I cleaned rancid fat and meat…the rice held up nicely, I must say…but by then it was really too late. And I was too tired – let’s not forget that I’m pretty broken over here – and the seeds had been planted. Or the eggs. Whatever.

Fast forward to a few more episodes of her hiding food no matter where I put it, me having to leave plates of baby food out for her overnight in *hopes* that she’d eat, and, well…flies. Lots and lots of flies.

I was overwhelmed with the whole process of trying to find food for my dog to eat, on top of already being too overwhelmed to clean a normal house much less a house riddled with the remains of people food that was now dog food that was now hidden somewhere inviting problems.

I made a few homemade traps – I am an EXPERT at fruit fly traps, so why shouldn’t I be good at this? I mean, a fly is a fly, right?? After a few spills of just *disgusting* stuff, I quit. I quit and I went online and searched for where the hell I could get fly ribbon…which is where I came up with my first piece of comic relief in this entire fiasco – please see the description.

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Ass water. I should have known.

I stuck with the fly ribbon.

So here I am, pulling the first fly ribbon apart, and just praying that I do NOT get it stuck in my hair. Because I ran right into one once as a child and the memory of that thing in my hair still haunts me to this day.

I got the first one out very carefully, barely getting any on my hands, and managed to hang it in the bathroom without a hitch. This falsely raised my confidence levels, which really wasn’t a good idea, and so I was a little more cocky with the next ribbon.

I decided the next one should go above where the pet food bowls were. And so I started pulling it apart…pulling….pulling….until somehow it was stuck to the front of my shirt.

No problem, I told myself. It’s ok, I said as I peeled it from my shirt watching the residue stay stuck to my shirt in little patches. It’ll wash off…

Next fly ribbon was to be attached to the dining room chandelier because a) I really like Sia and b) they are really attracted to the light that comes from the window it hangs in front of. So I find some tape, open the ribbon, get the ribbon stuck to itself, peel it apart again, and successfully tape it to the chandelier.

Or so I thought.

I finally go to sit down, flipping off every fly caught on every ribbon on the way because I’m a bad ass bitch, when I hear FLOP!!!

The ribbon hanging from the chandelier had fallen to the floor.

Thank goodness it’s only tile, I tell myself as I get MOAR tape and go to pick up the ribbon.

[cues A Christmas Story’s tongue vs metal pole scene] Stuck? Stuck?? STUCK!!!!!!!!!!!

I finally pull that bitch off the floor only to find MY FLOOR TILE ATACHED TO IT.

So I pull off the floor tile, and the ribbon gloms right onto the front of my shirt as if my shirt were made of fly ribbon magnets. My hair sets on fire, figuratively of course, and I rip the damn ribbon off my shirt only to lose my grip on it and send it plopping back down to my damn floor tiles.

Shampoo. Rinse. Repeat.

I finally get it taped back up to the chandelier, to the chandelieeeeeeeeer, and then I go and flip every little stuck fly off AGAIN because FUCK THIS, I AM THE BOSS.

The very sticky boss.

Do you know that soap won’t get this shit off your hands???? Thank goodness I tried to be a good mom once two years ago and make my own baby wipes [because CHEMICALS], therefore I still have a newish bottle of baby oil in my cabinet – even though my baby is 8 years old. [Boys have pooping/wiping issues until they get married.]

And so here I sit, waiting for all my hard work to pay off, hoping I won’t walk right into a ribbon like I did as a kid, half knowing I’m probably going to do just that.

And that is life right now in the Ihlenfeld house. Thanks for tuning in. I’ll be pouring baby oil all over my floor tile if anybody needs me…and probably pouring it in my hair later if anyone would like to bring me some wine…

Maybe I should have gotten the ass water.

That Look You Give Your Child When You Know His Fish Died and He Doesn’t Know Yet

We’ve been going through it over here as of late. I’ve been going through it, my son has been going through it, hell even both cats and the damn fish have been going through it. And, based on me catching our dog scootching her ass across the living room carpet earlier today, she’s going through it as well.

Apparently it all started the day I was born, but we’ll start at the end of this summer just to make things a little easier. At the end of summer I scouted out some delicious used furniture from the rich side of town and moved into the era of being a real person that has real people furniture. You know, furniture that is somewhat modern, fairly stainless, and actually improves the look of your entire room. Furniture that looks like you put thought into it. Furniture that matches and coordinates with your room. Furniture that you actually don’t want the dog on…or the kids on….or your guests on….

And as I sat in my glorious new (used) living room, a sense of peace and harmony washed over me and then drained right out of my feet as my hand came down and rested in a wet spot caused by a leak that had sprung from our elder cat. Then I instantly became a basket case.

It was all so easy when I had a hand-me-down couch that was beautiful (but not toddler friendly) and a big patterned couch that *was* toddler friendly and beautiful in my eyes but, based on the $35 price tag at the local Goodwill that has been known to try to sell chipped paint scrapings for more, apparently no one else agreed. I was mildly happy with my acquisition, very happy with the price, and therefore not worried one bit about rips, spills, pee, puke (ok, yes I was worried about puke because omg it’s PUKE), markers, boogers, mud, feet, pets, farts, or anything else my child, nieces and nephew, pets, guests, and even self could throw at it. It just didn’t matter. It only cost $35 and the pattern hid everything. And I mean *everything*.

(My friends are all now wondering what they have sat in over the years. You’ll never know, guys. You’ll never know…)

But now I had real furniture. Light beige furniture. Why did I buy light beige furniture? Was I crazy? Yes. While I may not have been when I bought it, I most certainly was now that I had it I. And so I learned a valuable lesson that I would like to share with you all:

Don’t buy nice shit. All you do is worry about your nice shit getting ruined, and then your entire life is ruined because it’s all you think about. Live in squalor and be happy. Please. I beg you.

So our cat had a leak (big problem) and I was covering all three pieces of new (used) furniture with aluminum foil every single evening (possibly a bigger problem on the crazy person scale) because cats don’t like aluminum foil. Dogs, however, don’t give a shit fyi.

I’ve gone through 5 bottles of Urine-B-Gone and upholstery cleaner and three rolls of aluminum foil since then, spent about $300 on a leaky cat and still have a leaky cat, spayed the other cat so she would stop spraying but she’s still spraying and, somehow, still got her monthly visitor, and the dog is scooting across the damn living room carpet.

So we thought we’d alleviate some of the insanity by upgrading my son’s fish tank. He loves his fish – he’s had them for 4 years. Had. He had them.

First Hammer died. Yes, Hammer. My son went through a stage where he wanted to name his fish Hammer, his baby cousin Hammer, and even himself Hammer. Only the fish got lucky enough to keep the name. Hammer was also lucky enough to have me notice he had passed just in time for my son to look at my face and know something was wrong but I just couldn’t bring myself to tell him his fish was dead so I tried to use telepathy and it kind of worked but mostly it was just the “your fish died” look on my face that probably told him… but regardless, he was a lucky fish. Lucky to have a headstone made for him by my niece, an entire funeral in our front yard, and the undying affection of my son for forever and always.

So we replaced Hammer with Bubbles and my son focused on his original fish, Emo. Yes, Emo. He was 4 when he won him from a fair, and I initially thought he was trying to name it Nemo….but, as always, I was wrong because I’m a mom. Emo. His name is Emo.

So I transferred Bubbles the newbie and Emo the oldie to the new tank and pretty much killed my son’s favorite fish. He’s currently in our freezer as the trauma still hasn’t ended and my son can’t bring himself to bury him.

Oh, and then just two days ago one of the other newbie fish we added to make up for Emo dying, died.

I’ve found myself actually having chats with the the tank, telling the occupants that no one else is allowed to die because I can’t handle another bedtime fish investigation trauma extravaganza. I. Just. Can’t. My son has a heart so big that he cares so deeply for even the small animals and eyes so quick that I wasn’t able to sneak out and replace any one of the three fish before he knew it was dead. Or maybe I’m just slow.

And I could be slow. I’ve lived on my couch for the past month and a half in a woozy haze thanks to new meds. I might technically *be* a couch now. And while my pain levels are down and my depression is lifting, I am so tired that I fall asleep in the middle of being asleep. I also break all the things and dumb all the things and, well, am basically a hot mess….yet…it’s a million times better than the hell I was sitting in before, so I guess I’ll take limbo. An upgrade is an upgrade, right?

Oh, and everything tastes like crap. When I actually have an appetite I swear all the food is spoiled, and that coupled with the extreme nausea caused me to drop 20lbs in a month – something that my fluffy frame can certainly stand to lose, but it’s just not the most fun way. Like, I can’t brag about my lack of appetite or post pictures of an empty plate on facebook to get healthy life points like all my friends who are on raw food vegan triple venti diets that will make them live for forever. They get points, right? That’s why they photograph and post it, right? And you get to cash the points in for stuff, right? Right????????

Point being (see what I did there), no one feels bad for the fluffy person who is too nauseous to eat and is losing weight quickly. No one.

On top of all of this I caught a nasty virus and just couldn’t even parent, so I didn’t hang out on the playground before school with my child that day and then I also didn’t come in to read with his class that day either because I was either burning up or freezing at the moment…and I temporarily broke my child. All the fish deaths, and then his mother disappoints him twice in one day…..I broke him. Which broke me. So now we are all broken but only one of us is leaking and only one of us is scooting our ass across the living room (it’s not me), but we are all still broken.

But the furniture looks fucking fantastsic.

(:

A Typical Friday Afternoon

I stand on my front porch fully medicated and woozy. A chemical taste emits up my throat and out of my mouth like invisible cigarette smoke, and while it’s not horrible it’s most certainly weird and noticable. It feels as if it has permeated my lungs, and the damp post storm air does nothing to help.

Landi is rambling about the yard, testing limits, yet again, ever since both cats went in to the vet one after the other. I think she worries she’s next ever since that crazy Petco experience where she incited every dog in line with her incessant high pitched bark. She honestly just wanted to play. I swear. Fun times.

Little guy is on the floor playing with fully *clothed* barbies for a change along with a headless G. I. Joe doll. Why is he headless? We don’t know. Best not to ask. Plus, little guy has strep throat and is currently happy, so sometimes you just need to keep the peace by leaving well enough alone.

Unless the peace is a hyperthyroid cat with possible kidney failure who is leaking diluted urine down his legs and all over the house non stop. Then you pick that dude up and shove him into a modified baby diaper that you learned about from a YouTube video, at around 1am last night during the power outage, and freak him out and make him miserable, and eventually watch him escape from its grips around his bum using his hind legs, destroying all your hard work.

Pick your battles wisely, they always say.

Hindsight is totally 20/20.

That Boom

My guitars are dusty
My keyboards rusty
My voice is gusty-less

I’ve got no breath for my reeds
No shake tambourines
No show for your appease-ment

My glitter has faded
My moves all out-dated
My act would be rated-less than zero on Yelp if Yelp rated such things like acts and singing and music playing and whatnot

But I’ve one little spark
And I’ll wait for the dark
Then l’ll light that shit up like – “BOOM MOTHERFUCKERS!”

– s. m. ihlenfeld

Obama Alien Baby (tmi)

You guys, I am miserable. And mortified. And thankfully I can laugh about it and share it all with you so you, too, can laugh.

So, enjoy.

*tmi warning*

I headed to urgent care this past Wednesday evening due to this horrible, gnawing, burning, and sometimes stabbing and slicing pain in my stomach that had been going on and off for almost a month. I know, long time, but the first time it happened I thought I had a stomach virus. The second time it happened I stopped taking my antiinflammatories. And this time it happened I thought I was having an alien baby… Or just had an ulcer.

So I get there and they are very kind and most certainly suspecting an ulcer. They give me a nice cocktail of lidocain to drink in order to rule out acid reflux, and then they sent me for xrays to rule out whatever it was they were going to rule out with that. Probably to get a good look at the alien baby growing inside me…

As I waited for X-ray results, the lab tech came to draw blood, and for the first time in my life I got to experience what it feels like when someone hits a nerve in your arm while drawing blood. HOLY SHITBALLS!!! I felt that ish in my damn TEETH!

He was really nice, though, and was extremely apologetic, and he was humming “you keep me hanging on,” – the Vanilla Fudge version – so I couldn’t even be mad. We clearly had the same soul.

Long story short – Gastritis (figured), a UTI (wtf?), and…. wait for it… Constipation.

Wait… WAT.

Now let me just say that the idea that there is an X-ray of my poo-filled insides floating around in my medical chart is just more than I can handle. Also, the fact that my alien baby is really a poo baby is messing with my mind, man, and a bit more than I can handle. And I’d also like to say that three days on laxatives is CERTAINLY more than I can handle. But I do remember telling my doctor that I thought the Lyrica was causing me problems down there when we first started upping my dosage…

So…. Thanks, Lyrica. And Antiinflammatories. And… Whatever else. Obama? Can I thank Obama? Fine. Thanks, Obama. Whew. I already feel better.

Except I really don’t.

The one good thing is all the burning in my stomach is fine thanks to the famotidine. I’m so thankful that I can finally go back to consuming an entire jar of Famous Dave’s sweet and spicy pickles without any pain. Not that I’d actually do that…often…

We’ll see how this progresses.

To be continued……

Bottoms Up

Continuing on this journey of self care, I’ve hit a pretty big bump – since school let out I’ve been severly short on time and energy. And rightly so!  I love spending time with my child and my nieces and nephews!  Summer vacation is time for pools and parks and little trips or even just bumming around the house together. But summer vacation also means way less “me” time, and I quickly started to feel all that I had previously invested in myself slipping away as my old habits of ignoring ME came creeping back. Since I had such limited energy and time, I wondered what was the *minimum* I could do that would greatly benefit me right now…

And that was when I remembered this exercise tape (yes a vhs) I used to do years ago. I found it at the thrift store but then lost it. I remember a woman who used to be a ballerina, bad 80’s leotards, and hip swivels and gyrations. That’s it. But I knew it was really helpful and probably exaclty what I needed since the focus was on small movements. I started searching for it… Calisthenics? No. That’s definitely not it. Um… Oh yeah! Callanetics! Callan Pinckney!

So that’s where the little energy I have has been invested lately. For one hour every other or every third day ib gently pulse muscles I didn’t even know I had and stretch everything to point where I am yelling “oh my good this is fantastic!”. Weird. I know. What can I say.

I’ve done it three times now and can most certainly see benefits already (Callan promises 10 years younger in 10 hours and no one has said she’s wrong), and I plan to continue until my core is stable, my back is stronger, and my feet… Oh dear lord my feet.

It’s ironic that I started this program while having that horrendous foot pain I was telling you all about; it’s as if something inside of me just knew.

After some serious research into why the hell my feet were *radiating* with pain, I came upon this blog that completely explained exactly what was happening with my feet and how to fix it:

https://walkwellstaywell.wordpress.com

Yes. I have plantar fasciatis and a pretty serious pronation problem. And it hurts like HELL. For a while I thought I had a fracture or neuropathy or SOMETING life threatening, because the level of pain eminating from the bottom of my feet was just unreal. I was holding onto walls to walk! Plantar fasciitis??? Pronation??? No way. That can’t be it.

However, some of the exercises in the Callanetics video (I bought the DVD on amazon) were helping my foot pain and mirrored the advice on the site. So I *knew* this was both my diagnosis and treatable. I started in with the rest of the advice on the website plus advice from a running article I read and was absolutely shocked at the results.

But first let me just tell you that the most helpful thing was the most painful thing ever. I cried. I actually cried as I rolled my foot over a golf ball. A GOLF BALL. It was PURE HELL. It BURNED. My shoulers climbed up to my ears and I flinched with every roll. I kept at it for as long as I could tolerate that first night telling myself that it was worth TRYING just to see if it helps. It’s only one night of pain. It’s just one night.

I woke up the next morning and walked into my kitchen to start the coffee maker. I walked down the hall and went to the bathroom. I walked back to the coffee maker and began filling my cup, and that was when I noticed…

I wasn’t flinching, holding onto walls, or avoiding using certain parts of my foot as I walked.

It worked!!

I went back to the website and read up on all the exercises for pronation and plantar fasciitis and started them immediately. Every night now for the past week I have been stretching my calves, rolling golf balls beneath my feet, and strengthening my weak inner calf muslces. All of this on top of doing Callanetics for an hour every other or every third day.

The result? Today I walked barefoot with no pain *at all* today, and my knees feel SO STRONG. I can feel the muscle definition where before there was nothing. Also, my hip muscles feel both stronger and smoother – I don’t know how to explain it, really. My core is getting tight and strong, which is really helping my back. And I can walk like a normal person.

I have been telling my doctors for the past three years that I don’t know how to walk anymore. I kept saying that it just felt wrong and I needed help (physical therapy) to teach me how to walk correctly. Well, they didn’t really listen. But that’s ok because now I know why I felt like I was walking wrong – my calves were so tight that they were pulling my heel up causing me to not be able to strike my heel down as I walked, and also making the plantar fasciatis worse!  Doh!

After all these stretches and strengthening between the Callanetics and the advice from the website, my heels finally touched the ground when I sat on the edge of my bed for the first time in FOREVER.  All this time I thought I just had short legs!!!!  LOL. Nope!! Tight calves! Who knew?

It has certainly not been easy, though. The first night with the golf balls was hell, as I had stated before, but it got exponentially better each night. Eventually, though, I was left with this pain in this one small spot on my right foot that I was SURE was a stress fracture. I KNEW IT. It still hurt after all the golf ball rolling and stretching. It had to be a stress fracture.

But then I took a second look at the picure of the tendons on the bottom of our foot that is on the website. My pain was right where the tendon branched off…so…it could still be plantar fasciitis. So I went ahead and got the golf ball ready for one more painful experiment…

It felt like I was pinching nerves, hitting bone, burning, aching… I almost gave up but then I felt it – a little release! Holy crap!! But then I though wait… did I do something bad???? I picked my foot up and massaged the area and prayed to jeebus that I didn’t make anything worse.

The next morning I woke up and the pain in that area was SIGNIFICANTLY less.

So I did the same thing the following night, and it was a bit easier but still painful.

I just finished night three of focusing on that tiny spot, and things are improving. I no longer think I have a stress fracture – I think my tendons are just really, really, really pissed off.

So there you have it. It’s like I’m working on myself from the bottom up. Solving my foot problem is helping my knees which is helping my hips which is helping my back. It’s all connected.

I do still get mentally exhausted just thinking about how far I still have to go, but I have to remind myself that it’s not a race and every little improvement I’m making right now is a worthy investment that will help make my life better. It’s worth taking my time and doing it right – there are no quick fixes here.

I’m hoping by the end of summer to have significant improvement in my flexibility, strength, and all of my body mechanics. I am also really enjoying reading about Callan Pinckney’s journey of curing her own severe pain. I don’t think I’m going to cure all of my pain, but I do think I can reduce some of it.

Fibromyalgia is such an asshole. Anyone can have tight muscles, but fibro takes it to the next level and makes it significantly harder to deal with. You have to be super vigilant to keep your muscles from getting tight, yet you have to constantly work under your ability so as not to throw yourself into a flare. It’s a messy, tricky balancing act that sometimes send to have no middle to balance it all on; it often feels impossible.

Bit by bit. It’s the only way. I will just keep going and hope for change.

I guess we’ll see!!

Where I’ve Been

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Hi everyone! I haven’t been around much lately, and I thought I’d tell you why.

A few weeks ago my friend Janessa shared this article, http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/7469526, and it really got me thinking. High vagal tone = less pain for people with chronic conditions (arthritis, in this study). They used an implant to stimulate the vagas nerve, but they found that people who did a loving kindness meditation every day increased their vagal tone just as well as the implants.

So it got me thinking…

And that thinking led me to two apps that have been helping me take better care of myself, meditate, and basically get my life.

The first Android app I found is called The Fabulous: Motivate Me!

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=co.thefabulous.app&hl=en&referrer=utm_source%3Dgoogle%26utm_medium%3Dorganic%26utm_term%3Dthe+fabulous+app&pcampaignid=APPU_1_NaWBVZKgJ5HHsQTQroOQDw

It helps me make small positive changes in my life, and I absolutely love it.

The next Android app I found is Lifesum

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sillens.shapeupclub&hl=en&referrer=utm_source%3Dgoogle%26utm_medium%3Dorganic%26utm_term%3Dlifesum+app&pcampaignid=APPU_1_GqaBVa27AviQsQToubioDQ

It’s a calorie tracking app that is so positive and caring that I can’t help but succeed! My problem is not eating enough. I know. I’m fluffy. I must eat too much. But that is not the case. I tracked my calories a while ago and I was only eating between 500 and 800 calories a day! What the hell???!

Well, when I am tired and in pain, feeding myself just isn’t a priority.

But now it is.

And that is where all of my energy has been going to lately – feeding myself. And drinking enough water. And meditating. And taking time to do something special for myself every day. And removing a box of clutter from my house every day. Basically, lots of little tiny goals spread throughout the day aimed at making me feel better inside and out.

So for the first time in forever (you sang that, didn’t you lol) I am properly caring for myself… And it’s exhausting! It’s like a full time job! What the hell??! But, it is rewarding as FUCK.

So this is where I’ve been and where all my energy has gone. I’m thinking that pretty soon this full time job will start feeling like a part time job and I will have the energy to keep the page going again. But until then, I’m spent and my presence will continue to be pretty sporadic.

I’ve gotten such wonderful messages from some of you saying how much you look forward to my ridiculousness, and I am truly humbled. Thank you, and I can’t tell you how much I feel like I’m letting you down while I take this time for myself. But I know you get it.

I hope you read the article. I hope you try the meditation and the apps. And I hope to be back in your newsfeed very soon.

Until then, keep smihlen! (: