26 February 2009

I was walking across the parking lot at Walmart with a dollar bill in my hand and a strong wind came up and jerked the dollar out of my hand. I tried to chase it down but couldn't. An older man came up to me and asked if it was a dollar and I said yes. The man then sprinted across the parking lot and came back with the dollar bill. I thanked him, he tipped his hat and left. In my mind I said "Now that is what I call gentlemanly behaviour!"

Is there such a thing as watching too many Jane Austen movies?

20 February 2009

Man, my feet are cold! Where oh where did that 70 degree weather we had last week? It is so beautiful 'looking' out but it is cold and windy.

I have been spending my time lately working on a picture and crocheting and of course learning more about Arbonne. I am a little slow at getting things going but I am hoping it will start moving soon. I attempted to go to a Team meeting this past Monday, unfortunately I followed Map Quest and took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in Pungo! That is nowhere near where I was trying to get to and I knew that the meeting would be finished before I could get there so I just went back to the house.

Welcome to my world!

15 February 2009

Been wondering where I've been?

I've been on a pet sitting job this week and have had some trouble getting online. I will be going home Tuesday afternoon and will be home until Saturday when I start another job but this one is only for 4 days.

I just found out that Mary Engelbreit's magazine Home Companion is no longer being published due to the lack of advertising which of course is due to the crummy economy. Wow, that distresses me! Guess I'm not the only one having a hard time!

I have been contemplating for quite some time about my artwork and what to do about it. Since I have had no sales for months I have decided at this time to just do my art for myself but I will continue to post them online here and other places but just not focusing on the sales. I am now building an Arbonne business and feel that I need to focus there and do my Pet sitting until my Arbonne biz is doing well. Pray that it will take off soon! I do need some steady income (so to speak).

Right now I am working on a picture that I will make into a Valentine card for my hubby. You are saying that I am a bit late for Valentines Day... we are creative people, we are always late! LOL Sometimes inspiration comes late! I have been working on the sketch for the card and was almost fionished sketching when I managed to spill my drink on the page! Would you believe the only part of the picture that disappeared was my girl? So today I have spent time recreating the whole picture. There is much to do on it yet but I won't be able to post the phases... two reasons: 1) I do not have access to a scanner right now 2) My hubby might see the picture and that would ruin the surprise.

I just got home a short time ago from having dinner with Burton and watching "The X-Files." We love "The X-Files" and get the DVD's from Netflix. I love the Theme song and downloaded it to my cell phone... you should see the faces on people when my phone rings! Love it!

Okay, my eyes are crossing now so I am going to close for now. See ya in the Mother ship! Bwwwwwwwwwwaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!

09 February 2009

I am so lazy.... yeah right! LOL

Tomorrow I start a Pet sitting job that will last 7 days. Today I have been trying to organize all my things so I can leave in the morning with minimal trouble. I will be sharing a house with 4 cats and 3 dogs... almost like our house, 2 cats and 4 dogs right now... Pebbles is suppose to be going to a new foster home now that recooperation is finished.

So, I have a week long pet sitting job starting tomorow then I will be home for 4 days then I am off to another one. And in the meantime I am dealing with a fibromyalgia flare-up, drawing, crocheting lapghans for charity, writing letters, and studying to be an Arbonne Consultant... now who was it that said I never did anything? Geesh! It has been like this since Christmas!

08 February 2009

Newsy News

Here it is February and my Pet sitting is starting to stir up. Had a job last month and I have two this month, actually three but my hubby is taking care of a neighbors cat for me while I am gone. Once the warm weather slides in I will be getting more jobs.

As for my other businesses, the art biz has not produced any money is months and months so I guess for the time being I will consider it to be a hobby. Now I am not talking about something I do once in a while, I will be drawing and pencil painting continuously and sending samples out to liscensing companies and getting them in stores around here, and selling on my etsy shop (www.aheartofmersea.etsy.com), I am
also gathering some of my favorite works to create an artbook. We'll see how this goes.

And now I am working for Arbonne International as a consultant. I do shows at peoples houses and gather more shows and consultants beneath me. I have been studying a lot so I can know what I am talking about. I decided to sell the products because they are really great! The products are botanically based and are produced here in America! Haven't had a show yet because I am still learning but will begin
soon.

I have a new pet project now: crocheting prayer lapghans and shawls to be given to charities. I am now part of a group that has been doing this since the early 80's. I am checking into making donations to CHKD for the children in the cancer ward. I joined a month ago and have created two lapghans, and almost enough granny squares for two more lapghans. If anyone would be interested in joining me in this endeaver let me know... this is the perfect way to bless someone who could use some uplifting and to receive blessings yourself.

I have also found another charity: "www.chemoangels.net" Here you are given a cancer patient who is going through chemo and you send a card or letter to them while they are going through chemo, you can also send them a little gift once in a while (between $2-$10). This isn't a penpal group but sometimes that could evolve.

Doing things to help others is a great way to get your eyes off yourself and your problems and helping others who need some care. Even though we know we will reap blessings from helping others, I think the real blessing is knowing I am helping someone else feel loved and cared for.

06 February 2009

K-9 New Life Foster baby

I just got back from taking one of our foster dogs to the Vet for a check of her eye. Pebbles came to us with cherry eye and we had it removed, unfortunately it came back. The doc said the only thing left to do is re-operate and that doesn't mean it will stay gone. He recommended that we just leave it be.

With all that done, we can now transfer her to another foster home. We have one in mind, there is another foster home that has a beagle mix and she is real shy so we are thinking that if they take Pebbles to foster, she will help the shy baby come out of her shell.

05 February 2009

Looking to "Pay it Forward?"

I came across group while looking for Military Charities to work with. I know there are many citizens that would like to help but don't know how, well, this one is for you! There are many things you can do to help this group send things to our Troops. Join and find something that you can do to help!

Operation: Quiet Comfort

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/operationquietcomfort/



Description

Established in July 2004 for the purpose of honoring and comforting members of the U.S. Armed Forces injured while in harm's way, and providing support to those who care for them.

Overview:

We're creating care packages for U.S. Military men and women receiving care at medical facilities abroad. Often our injured men and women arrive for medical care without their belongings and it can take weeks before those belongings catch up with them - and sometimes they don't arrive at all. Even when injured our troops need items like hygiene and grooming products, clothing, entertainment and support from the homefront.

It is the mission of this effort to help assure those individuals are honored for their sacrifice and comforted by creating "GO BAGS", or transition kits. These kits include comfort items like our "Four Freedoms Gratitude Quilt", personal care items and products that entertain and provide "down time" for their spiritual, emotional and physical healing.

We rely on the expertise of Pastoral Care Services and others knowledgeable about what items are most appropriate for their particular unit or facility. As a result, the program focus will change to meet the needs of those we sponsor.

Operation: Quiet Comfort is a 501(c)(3) public charity approved by the IRS on January 11, 2007. Your donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Everyone brings different gifts to the table...we invite you to share yours!

OPERATION: QUIET COMFORT
PO BOX 263
LA SALLE, MICHIGAN 48145

OQC is very proud to be working in partnership with Any Soldier, Inc. to provide support to the amazing professionals at these medical facilities, and the wounded warriors entrusted to their care. Please join us in demonstrating that a grateful nation truly thanks them.

04 February 2009

Today

I ran out this noon time and got the partical perm. One thing I hate about going to beauticians is that no one can ever fix my hair the way I do. It is pretty simple: curl the hair, pick it out, curl the pieces that are rebellious then cement it in place! LOL You should see some of the hair dos they have created! Today was hysterical: the top of my hair was a rectangular mass of tintsy tiny curls which made it look like I had a strange looking mohawk! you should have seen the looks I got! I came home, plugged in my curling rod and within a few minutes my hair looked semi normal... it will take a few days for the perm to relax then I may go back and get her to shape it.

Last night to hear the weather forecast you would have thought we were going to have a major snow storm! and yet... they said we could get between 1 and 3 inches while other places will get nine - well, that covered all the bases! LOL Such heavy snow we had! Invisible snow! I really had to be watching for that invisible black ice! Ha. Right now it is snowing what I call hamster dandruff... you know, you can barely see it but it is there!

Well, I have several things I need to do: 1) Write to a penpal or two; 2) begin again on my picture that I mussed up last night. 3) Take down some notes for that great american novel I've been contemplating writing.

Hey, there goes 5 big snow flakes! Quick, close down the city! Bwwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...............

A la Boo Boo

I was working on my picture yesterday and I messed up somehow so now I have to start over. That's okay, I think I need to reconstruct it, something doesn't seem quite right.

03 February 2009

Scrambled eggs



I meant to scan in the outlined sketch but I forgot. I have come down with some weird kind of illness.... could be a cold but right now I am not having the cold symptoms I was having yesterday- anyways, my head is all fogged up.

We had some excitement in the neighborhood last night which is very unusual for our neighborhood. Until the city decided to put the new Light Rail system straight across the front of our neighborhood no one knew we were there! Since then that is beginning to change. As we were beginning our Dog walk at 10 pm, I saw a cop car start to pull onto our street, stop, back out, then head down another street. When we came to the end of the street there was the cop car sitting at the corner. I waved at them as they took off. Turning the corner I saw a man standing in his yard. I commented that looks like we are having some excitement in the neighborhood. The man started talking but I realized that he was talking into a cell phone so I left. I heard him hollering into his phone about some woman and his talk became more and more angry and high pitched. I'm thinking great, we'd best get home quick! At that point our dogs all began to act spazy so I knew something was up! As we were heading down the last street before reaching home, two dogs appeared out of nowhere and jumped the dogs my husband had. (Remeber we have two dogs recovering form surgy and we need to be very careful concerning them.) Both of us charged those dogs hollering and they backed up. Then they headed for the two dogs I had. Well, I took the handle of the (roll-up) dog leash and smacked the smaller dog that kept coming after my set of dogs- smacked him good so he and his buddy ran off. Under normal circumstances we catch the dogs and find their owners (this comes from working with a no-kill dog rescue) but since we didn't recognize the dogs (we know a lot of the neighborhood dogs) so we were on red alert! I only smacked the dog because I didn't know the dog and he was going towards one of the injured dogs. I smacked him a couple of times on his side and not his head, just enough to let him know that he would be in trouble of he kept on. He didn't and he and his buddy ran off.

I am so glad that the Arbonne Team meeting was canceled last night because I would have been good for nothing! Unfortunately yet fortunately the show I had scheduled for this evening has been postponed... remember, I am ill. We will schedule for March/April.

I had a hard time sleeping last night! It took me a while to get drowsy then I would pop in and out of sleep. I was having a hard time breathing and what was really weird, (this shows you how weird a night of sleep I had, I kept waking up thinking I smelt the scent of pot being smoked! Now where did that come from? Kinda made me nervous since that guy down the street saw who we were, I'd never seen him before. (Since the beginning of the Light Rail construction we are seeing people who we've never seen before, especially during afternoons and nights.) Maybe it was an unconscious thing since I had read an article about Mike Phelps smoking pot.

Now I am up (in body, don't know where my head is!LOL) I was planning on getting a particial perm yesterday but I felt horrible so if I begin to feel a little better maybe I will see if I can find a beautician who will do as I tell her to do!

Hmmm, I feel like I am ready for a nap!

01 February 2009

Sketch of new picture

Excercize and Art.

I have been working out on my elyptical for weeks now and yes, this particular machine of mine kicks my butt! On Thursday I decided to go for a run outside, ran (slowly with some walking in there) 3 miles. Love the runners high! Friday I took a run but only ran 1.5 miles because I stopped to talk with a neighbor, I was too cold to go on. Now I am having symptoms of shin splints or myalfasia pain syndrome, or Fibro. The shins hurt to touch them, sometimes my shins feel like they are spasming, and at night I am experiencing RLS (maybe, not sure... I've had RLS in the past and the symptoms are similar but the shins hurt!).

I am contemplating going to the pool but I am thinking I may just let my legs rest today. I didn't exercize yesterday and they still hurt. Maybe this is something that will take a few days to overcome.

I finally started a new picture! For the longest time I could just sit down, put pencil to paper, then sit back and enjoy the process. I hate it when I have blocks like I just went through!

Dr Plotnick follow-up

The Virginian-Pilot
© February 1, 2009
Fibromyalgia is tough to pin down, tough treat

Sue Maxwell describes her pain as feeling like someone is slowly bending her bones.

For Lois Reid, it's more of a generalized ache that brings a fatigue that robs her of focus during the day and sleep at night.

Maxwell and Reid have fibromyalgia, a disorder that causes chronic and sometimes debilitating pain.

Both are former patients of Dr. Stephen Plotnick, a Virginia Beach physician who last week gave up his medical license for at least two years and promised never to treat chronic pain patients again.

Plotnick's agreement with the Virginia Board of Medicine followed board allegations that he failed to properly prescribe and monitor powerful pain drugs. Five patients died and others were permanently injured under his care, according to board records. Most of them had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Plotnick specialized in aggressive treatment of the condition, and his case shows the high stakes for doctors and patients in managing chronic pain.

For local fibromyalgia patients like Maxwell and Reid, the case highlights the difficulty they have getting relief. More than 20 years after the American Medical Association recognized the disorder, many doctors are still skeptical of patients' claims of pain or are not confident about how to treat it.

Most doctors agree that the best treatments for fibromyalgia, which affects 10 million Americans, are antidepressants, physical therapy, certain types of exercise, and fairly new medications developed for the condition - Lyrica and Cymbalta. Most people find relief from those approaches.

For a minority of patients, however, those measures might not work.

Some of them find relief through narcotics - which doctors refer to as opioids - such as methadone, OxyContin and morphine.

Many doctors, though, are reluctant to prescribe narcotics for a variety of reasons: concern that patients will abuse the painkillers or become addicted; the potential for death or disabling side effects; and the scrutiny of medical boards and of the Drug Enforcement Administration, which tracks prescriptions for narcotics.

After Plotnick's license was first suspended in August, his patients scrambled to find doctors to prescribe the same drugs so they wouldn't get sick from suddenly stopping the medicine and so their pain would not return.

Patients expressed worry in online chat groups, at a local support group and during interviews that they wouldn't find the kind of outspoken support Plotnick provided for those with fibromyalgia or other chronic pain disorders.

"There are thousands of people in this area suffering severely with chronic pain and who have no quality of life because doctors are afraid to prescribe narcotics," said Judy McClary, a fibromyalgia patient and a consultant for others with the condition. She has taken narcotics for years.

"I know we need guidelines and checks and balances, but we need a balance," said McClary, who often referred people to Plotnick. "People can't be afraid if their doctor has a stroke or accident, there's no one else to give them medication."

The past decade has brought great strides in addressing pain, particularly for cancer patients in the last stages of their disease.

But people with chronic, nonfatal disorders like fibromyalgia often run into barriers because long-term drug regimens are trickier to administer and more controversial.

Dr. Robert Hansen, a neurologist who practices at the Center for Pain Management in Portsmouth, said people may cringe at the mention of morphine and methadone. But some people with severe pain need such high-powered drugs just to function normally and keep their jobs, he said. Used appropriately, the drugs can be less damaging than years of over-the-counter medicines, he said.

After Plotnick's license was suspended, Hansen's office was deluged with requests from Plotnick's former patients. In one case, a patient ended up in the emergency room in withdrawal. Hansen requires referrals and records and had hoped the patient's primary care physician would prescribe the meds until she could be seen in his office.

But, Hansen said, many doctors are loath to prescribe the painkillers.

"They worry they're going to show up to work one day and have crime tape around their office."

The Virginia Board of Medicine's guidelines, adopted from a model policy crafted by the Federation of State Medical Boards, call for strict monitoring and documentation of treatment plans and refill requests, written agreements with patients, urine screens and procedures for discontinuing treatment if there's evidence of misuse or noncompliance.

Urine screens show whether patients are using the drugs prescribed and whether there are other drugs in their system that could be dangerous in combination.

People with a history of substance abuse or psychiatric disorders are supposed to receive more scrutiny. The policy clearly states, though, that inadequate treatment of pain is a problem in this country and that doctors need to understand the difference between addiction to and dependence on painkillers.

The Virginia Board of Medicine alleged that Plotnick failed to document treatment plans, repeatedly authorized renewals of prescriptions without examinations, neglected to require contracts with his patients, did not always dismiss patients for noncompliance, and continued to prescribe medications even though patients had exhibited suicidal thoughts or family members said they were overmedicated.

Such detailed steps can be cumbersome for doctors.

Added to that are other concerns.

"It's the disease no one wants to embrace," Hansen said.

Fibromyalgia is an invisible, poorly understood condition with no lab or blood test to confirm diagnosis. It affects people in an array of ways - mild aches to debilitating pain - and a treatment that works for one may not work for another.

One of the principles in the field of pain management - "pain is what they say it is" - can be an uneasy guide for some physicians.

Some patients with fibromyalgia still run into doctors who don't believe it's real, even though the American Medical Association recognized it as an illness in 1987.

Studies have shown that people with the condition, believed to have its root in how the brain processes pain signals, have a higher level of brain activity in response to pain stimulus than people without it.

It's not unusual for people with fibromyalgia to see a range of doctors, though rheumatologists often diagnose it. The National Fibromyalgia Association says people typically see an average of four doctors before getting a diagnosis. A study conducted for the American Pain Society found that one out of four chronic pain patients changed doctors at least three times, mainly because they still experienced pain.

When Maxwell, 62, was diagnosed with the condition two decades ago, she had never heard of it.

"The ache is like a toothache, where it can be mild or it can be so bad you can't take it. If you touch my skin, it hurts. The bottom of my feet hurt, my shoulders hurt, and it goes down my arms, then all over. You just hurt so bad. Your muscles ache, your jaws hurt, everything hurts."

The Virginia Beach woman first heard of Plotnick when he spoke at a support group meeting for people with chronic pain about two years ago.

The next day, she called for an appointment.

"He's the only one who understood what you were talking about. I felt like I was finally getting some good help. He explained in detail what it was. He said, 'We will take care of that pain.' "

She said he would give her several narcotic prescriptions and tell her to try one first to see if it worked. If it didn't, she was to stop that one and take another to see if it worked.

Even though that was one of the methods the Board of Medicine criticized, Maxwell appreciated the approach because it kept her from going back to his office so often.

"I think the patient has to take some responsibility in keeping track of meds," she said.

"Some of the things Plotnick had me on... I didn't feel pain, but I did feel a little loopy."

When that happened, she said, she reduced the dosage. "It took awhile to find the right combination that made me feel like myself again."

But when she did, "it was like heaven. It was like a whole new world. I could wash the dishes, clean the house, I could do laundry."

When Maxwell went by Plotnick's office for a refill last summer, though, she found he was no longer practicing. She tried getting in to see a pain management specialist, who told her to send her records. The office said the doctor would review them and call her to set up an appointment.

She never heard back.

"I had no meds for five days," Maxwell said. "I panicked."

She resorted to taking morphine that had been prescribed for a friend, but she stopped that after a month and a half when her doctor told her if she continued to take it, she'd have to report her.

Maxwell went through days of withdrawal, bedridden from chills, flulike aches, vomiting and diarrhea.

Her primary care physician wouldn't prescribe the narcotics, nor would her rheumatologist, but between the two of them she was prescribed two non-narcotic drugs that eased her pain. Swimming, which she took up more than a year ago, also helped her cope.

"I didn't feel good being on narcotics, but when you're in pain, you don't care, you think, 'Just give me anything.' Many times you feel like committing suicide. You think, 'If it's going to be like this, I don't want to be here.' "

Even though she's now free of narcotics and able to handle her level of pain, she supports Plotnick and said she'd return to him if it were possible.

"There's no one but him who understands and wants to help us."

Lois Reid was diagnosed about 20 years ago, too, and was able to control her pain for years with an antidepressant and an anti-inflammatory. Then about three years ago, her pain increased. The 50-year-old Norfolk woman had a hard time concentrating, a symptom many refer to as "fibro fog." She had trouble sleeping.

"When you're in pain, it's hard to sleep. If you don't sleep, you feel more pain. So it's a vicious cycle."

She went to a variety of doctors before seeing Plotnick. One drug he prescribed was methadone, a narcotic similar to morphine.

Her pain eased, but about eight months ago, she started feeling more fatigue. "I'd be holding a glass of something to drink, and the next thing I knew it'd be over the top of me."

Two nights in a sleep clinic showed she stopped breathing while sleeping and would awaken gasping for air. Sleep specialists there told her to stop taking the methadone, as one of the side effects of the drug can be sleep disturbances. She has stopped, but she continues to have the sleep problems. She uses a machine at night that pumps air into her lungs through a mask.

"I am sad for him on a human level," she said of Plotnick. "I think he had good intentions. But I'm frustrated because medicine he prescribed me led to difficulties. That's a hard thing as well."

Dr. Janet Lewis, medical director of the rheumatology clinic at University of Virginia Health System, said proper treatment includes a combination of approaches.

There is medication that can improve sleep and thus reduce fatigue and pain during the day. Also, patients can become inactive because of pain, but exercise has been shown to help.

"It gives them more energy, helps them sleep better and reduces pain during the day."

She said there are new drugs specifically for fibromyalgia, and physical therapy helps some people.

She sees narcotics as a last resort to pain, because there haven't been large-scale studies to show strong effectiveness in the population. She refers those patients who feel they need them to pain management specialists.

Dr. Robert Bennett, a rheumatologist in Oregon who has treated and researched the disease for decades, said many family practice doctors and rheumatologists hesitate to prescribe high-powered painkillers to their fibromyalgia patients.

"It's a hassle prescribing them," Bennett said. "You can't repeat prescriptions. You have to see them regularly. You know the DEA is looking over your shoulder. You're aware of cases like this, and it makes you wary."

Across the country, doctors are being scrutinized for prescribing high doses of narcotics over long periods of time. In Virginia, one of the more high-profile cases involved Dr. William Hurwitz, a Northern Virginia pain specialist convicted in 2007 of 16 counts of drug trafficking for prescribing high doses of OxyContin and morphine.

The judge in the case said that much of Hurwitz's practice, which spanned 39 states, was legitimate, but that he ignored patients who were clearly drug dealers.

The number of suspensions, revocations, restrictions and reprimands by the Virginia Board of Medicine related to drug prescriptions has been rising. There were 17 actions in 2006, 26 in 2007, and 33 in 2008.

Yet patients should not have to live in pain, either, Bennett said, and some benefit from opioids when the drugs are properly prescribed and monitored.

"We have people in our practice who have taken them long term and done very well."

At the clinic where Hansen, the Portsmouth physician, practices, patients on the opioids are seen once a month when they start the medication. They have periodic urine drug screens. If patients come in for an early refill, the office can request a report from a state database that shows all the drugs pharmacies have dispensed to that patient.

A staff psychologist works on depression, anxiety and life issues that may be causing or worsening pain. Exercise is required of those with fibromyalgia, and non-narcotic drugs are tried before opioids.

Those patients who do require opioids for pain relief must sign a contract that they will receive the prescription drugs only from that practice and won't give them to anyone else. If they break the contract, they are dropped from the practice.

McClary said Plotnick had dismissed patients for lack of compliance but sometimes took them back.

"The reason he took them back is they were in severe pain and could not find another doctor in Tidewater to give them medication."

Elizabeth Simpson, (757) 446-2635, elizabeth.simpson@pilotonline.com
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