Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Parties and Weddings and Sleep - Oh My!

This has been my view as I drive down the street towards my home.  It just makes me smile every time.  I'm hoping this fall I can add bulbs to flesh this out.  All that brown in the grass is where it was destroyed by the chemicals put on the road for snow removal.  This is right where the plows end up pushing it when we get as much snow as we had this past winter.  Poor Mr. Helen has been out there poking at the ground and laying seed in his annual battle to claim the yard back.


Thumb Update: My right thumb feels almost completely normal since the cortisone shot. Just the occasional pain if I move it wrong but that's so few and far between, I have been able to wean myself off all anti-inflammatory meds (except when I need to take something for my aching back and SI joint which isn't even every day).  The improvement is noticeable even with exercise. For example, it actually hurt my hand to do pushups or mountain climbers or planks or anything that put pressure there and I'm doing those things and not even thinking about it.  All that pain and aggravation is gone. So yay for that!  Shelley, you had asked me what they would do if I had the surgery on my left thumb and I don't honestly know.  The doctor described it as cleaning everything up and resetting the the bone to the correct angle to the joint.  He also said a lot of people just don't have enough disability or pain to justify 6 weeks in a cast - or by the time they do, they're 80 years old and don't want to be bothered.  I think I'm in that first group right now.  I honestly don't have any intention of having the surgery any time soon!


Mr. Helen's surprise 60th birthday party was a smashing success!  I have no idea how we managed it but no one told him and he was truly shocked.  As is always the case with these things, the "right" people came so it was just a great time.  We all ate well, and danced liked fools.  Everyone over 35 spent Sunday hobbling around recovering from high heeled shoes and moving our bodies in ways they don't normally move lol! The theme was "60 is the new sexy" and I used bunches of 60's to decorate.  Little Helen and her fiance, and Mr. Helen's sister came to help me decorate - it was nerve wracking as I had to lie all week about that day.  So worth it in the end though! I took a few shots of our decorating efforts while the room was empty.

Little Helen's fiance put this wall piece together and we used it for photos

Look closely and you'll see we have "60's" dangling all over the ceiling

Once the party started, the room filled up and the fun began - it really was a wonderful celebration!

Some of the nieces and nephews in attendance
The cake was half chocolate with oreo filling and half vanilla with raspberry cream filling.

The little ones always want to help blow out the candles - then lick the frosting off them of course!

Little Helen and Poppy (Mr. Helen's dad).  He's 87 so you can see that family has good genetics.

Mr. Helen and all his living siblings

Party over here, party over there

Party, party everywhere!


Suddenly things are falling into place with Little Helen's wedding.  Location is set, JP is set, they're working on the music and photography this week and they've got their Best Man and Maid of Honor in place.  The wedding itself will be short, sweet and low key so those are the only people in their wedding party. Now, it seems we are going to fit in a shower of some sort, even though it will only be a couple weeks before the wedding.  I think it will be a brunch or a tea maybe.  That makes me happy.  Even though she's no muss-no fuss I want her to have some of the usual things that surround a wedding.

She and I went out on Mother's Day and she had a round of trying on dresses. At this point she was looking at samples that she could buy right off the rack and have altered - the best option since the wedding is about 10 weeks away. She really is a no muss-no fuss type of woman - she had dresses on and off so fast the helpers couldn't keep up with getting them back on hangers, so I pitched in with that.  Normally I wouldn't be so excited about putting out so much money, but paying for her dress, was one of the top money spending moments of my life.

Speaking of Mother's Day, I got these beautiful flowers from Little Helen and fiance.


I didn't realize how much stress I've been feeling over the Surprise Party and the wedding, until I looked at my sleep chart on Monday.  Suddenly I'm sleeping!  All this confirms everything my doc says about de-stressing my life but I'm not sure how to do that permanently.  Anyway, here's a chart showing the difference.  The left photo is my sleep on Sunday night May 3rd and the right is May 10th.  As you can imagine, I felt like a million bucks on Monday. 

I sure do hope this sleep thing lasts - so far so good, at least this week!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Thumbs Up - Thumbs Down...

Oh my aching thumbs.

A few years ago my thumbs began to ache.   When they were were aching more than not, one of my nurse brothers poked at them and said, "You've got the beginning of arthritis there, get the doc to give you an antiinflammatory."  Everyone else's opinion was that I had the beginning of carpal tunnel but the pain never, ever radiated into my wrist.  So I talked with my primary care doc and she prescribed a strong antiinflammatory.

The issue over this past year became that they hurt so much - and the right one would swell if I didn't take the antiinflammatory, therefore I was taking a very strong med every single night for the most part.  At my physical this year, my doc said it was time to seek alternative solutions, so last week I finally made it to the orthopedic doctor to have him look at my aching thumbs.

I emphasized to everyone that my right thumb was constantly in pain and showed them the joints where it hurt.  X-rays of both thumbs were taken and much to my surprise (and consternation!), my left thumb is completely disabled from arthritis.  There are bone spurs, one bone has collapsed onto the other and there is no joint, the bone isn't sitting properly in there, and there is what the doc called "joint junk" which looked like a white cloud.  He said it probably doesn't hurt as much because without knowing it, I've stopped using it since it's disabled. The only solution is surgery with 4-6 weeks in a cast.  At least there is no urgency and I can put it off as long as I want.

The right thumb is heading in that direction but is only stage 2 so he was able to give me a cortisone injection into the joint and he asked me to wear a brace on it if I am doing a lot of hand work.  I have to say, the injection has helped tremendously and my thumb nearly feels normal - at least as normal as it ever will again I guess. The funny thing is now that my right thumb feels so much better, I am actually noticing some pain in the left one. Sigh.  The brace is not pretty but manageable and I don't have to wear it all the time so that's a plus.

When all was said and done, the medical assistant, who happens to be a big burly man said he couldn't believe I've been dealing with my thumb pain all this time and he can't get over how women really handle large amounts of pain.  That's right - I am woman, hear me roar!


On May 2nd, Mr. Helen and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary.  It was a little extra special this year because he had been away all last week at a class and got home in the middle of the night Friday which maybe made us feel a little more romantic.  Absence and the heart growing fonder and all that...

It was a gorgeous day weather-wise (even if it was a smidge cool) so we started our day off by going to one of the trails we had hiked when we were practicing for the Grand Canyon.  We hiked the 3.5 mile trail the uphill way as we didn't intend to do anything but actually hike it and wanted to feel a bit of a workout.  It took us a little over an hour and was a wonderful way to start the day.

When we got home Mr. Helen wanted to do some weight lifting as he hadn't really worked out the whole week and I took off to run some errands.

The whole day was just sort of laid back and nice.  We had dinner reservations for Cafe Routier, a restaurant that we'd heard was excellent but had never been to. I also picked it because normally we would have been in St. Martin eating at a French restaurant and this is the closest you'd get to that around here. Unfortunately it took me so long to figure out where to go that our reservation choices were 5:30 or 8:30.  I picked the earlier time as I figured Mr. Helen might be a bit tired from traveling. We decided to go there for 5 and go into their bar to enjoy a specialty cocktail prior to dinner.

As you can see, it was a gorgeous day!

23rd Anniversary Selfie

I had a drink called a Black Rita:  plum infused vodka with cointreau, fresh lime juice and fresh agave sour served over ice.  Mr. Helen doesn't even drink vodka and when he took a sip of it he said, "that's the sort of cocktail that can get you in trouble!"  Truly, it was refreshing and delicious and of course now I'm obsessing to see if I can figure out how to make them at home.

After our cocktail we went over the the restaurant side where we were one of two couples seated.  I told Mr. Helen to watch how fast it filled up since there was that 3 hour time frame when no reservations were available.  Our waiter, James, came over and explained about their menus - they have 3 - a regional menu featuring items from a particular area - in this case Italy, a seasonal menu, and a specialty menu. You can mix and match however you'd like to create your meal.  Mr. Helen told James that he realized they were busy but he hoped we wouldn't be rushed because it was our anniversary.  James responded not to worry about that at all and right then I knew we'd have a fantastic evening.  We treated ourselves to a nice bottle of French Bordeaux, each had an appetizer and an entree and shared a dessert.  It was simply a fantastic meal and experience - just the right touch for a celebration!

My appetizer from the regional menu: a pork belly porchetta with a frissee and grape tomato salad.  Mr. Helen got fried oysters off the specialty menu, but I didn't take a photo of those.

Mr. Helen's entree from the specialty menu: "Mom's Meatloaf" -  good old fashioned meatloaf, with mashed potatoes and green beans.  He said it was magnificent and only ate about 2/3 of it so he could have leftover for a sandwich. Unfortunately, he left it on the table - he was sad about that.

My entree from the seasonal menu: grilled hangar steak with grilled asparagus and a blue cheese bread pudding.  That bread pudding was so good and yes, I am going to try to replicate it.

 Our dessert: Chocolate turtle cake with vanilla ice cream and pralined pecans.  I cannot even begin to describe how delicious this was.  The cake was unlike any I've ever had - so light but buttery at the same time.

As we talked over our leisurely dinner, we decided that in the 23 years we've been married, we've been to heaven and hell and back many times over and that this was a wonderful way to celebrate our stick to it-ness.  Real marriage with all it's ups and downs is worth celebrating and this was one that will go in the memory books with a big thumbs up!