Ten Years In

You would think that ten years into this stupid illness I would be used to it. But days like this still frustrate me to no end. Days where I wake up with things to do and I just can’t get my brain or my body moving.

I woke up today determined to get my desk and dresser cleaned off. Simple enough. Yet all day it has felt completely overwhelming. I sit here on my bed and can’t even think of where to begin. I went over to my desk a few times and tried to start but I’m pretty sure I just made the mess worse.

It is infuriating. I used to be a very task oriented, project driven person. I could sit down, think through something, do all the steps and then be done. Now it seems like I spend days or weeks just trying to figure out how to take a first step. Stuck in some incomprehensible state of brain dead, body dead inertia.

On a semi-related/unrelated note, this Buzzfeed article, “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Isn’t Just About Being Tired” by David Tuller is interesting.

Ten years ago, Jeannette Burmeister was working full throttle, logging 80-hour weeks as an attorney specializing in international commercial and employment law at the San Francisco area offices of a major law firm. So when she developed a sinus infection over the Christmas holidays in 2005, she assumed she’d bounce right back.
But she didn’t. The illness persisted; Burmeister then began suffering from profound lapses of energy, crippling problems with concentration and memory, and severe sleep disorders, among other symptoms.
“I went to work for two hours one day, hit a wall, and couldn’t go back the next day,” Burmeister, now 42, said in a recent telephone conversation. “I could not think straight. I had days where I couldn’t spell my name. And such complete exhaustion you can’t describe it, like you just ran a marathon, are hungover, and have the flu, all at once.”

That is precisely how it feels.

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DIY Laundry Soap for a Penny a load

I have been making my own laundry soap for several years now. I originally got the idea to try it when a friend posted a link on Facebook about it. (This was pre-Pinterest people.) The reason I tried it was because it was cheap, easy and I love that it eliminates a lot of unknown chemicals from our lives and wastewater. I have continued making it because it is cheap, easy and I still love not having those chemicals in our lives.

This recipe uses only four ingredients. Washing soda, Borax powder, bar soap and water. I double the original recipe and end up with about 4 gallons of laundry soap.

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First you grate up your bar soap. I use my mini food processor. I usually just grate up the whole bar of soap and measure out the amount I need and put the rest in a baggy or container for future batches. If using Fels Naptha then you would use 2/3 of the bar or Zote you would use 1/4 of the bar, which equals about 2 cups of grated soap. A soap like Ivory, Dr. Bronner’s or homemade, use two whole bars.

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Next you put approximately 2 cups of grated soap and 8 cups of water in a pot on the stove over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the soap is melted into the water. Next add 1 cup of Washing Soda and 1 cup of Borax powder. Stir until they are dissolved. (Usually takes a minute or two.) Remove the pot from the heat.

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Put 8 cups of hot tap water into a 5 gallon bucket or pail. Next dump in the mixture from the pot on the stove. Now add 44 cups more of water.

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The whole process takes about 15 minutes.

Let it sit over night. I highly recommend covering your bucket or putting it somewhere out of the way lest your child fall into it (yes that really happened) or your curious, and not so smart dog, drink it (also really happened).

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The next day your soap will have gelled at the top. Different bar soaps will have different amounts of gelling. Now you stir your soap so the gel breaks up and mixes in to the watery rest. I usually hit it with my immersion blender and that mixes it up nicely. If you only mix it with a spoon you will most likely have some gelly lumps but that is fine. It washes clothes all the same.

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Ladle your soap through a funnel into some empty containers. I use some empty OJ containers. It will bubble and foam up a bit as you get to the top so you may want to do this over a sink or a towel. Especially if you have a propensity towards making messes as. I do. Once full, rinse your bubbly mess off your containers, cap them and your soap is ready to use.

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Pour 1/2 cup into each load of laundry. I also use a downy washer ball with white vinegar in it for fabric softener.

Now for the cost break down:
Bar soap (varies depending on what soap you use) Fels Naptha $1.29 (makes 1 1/2 batches) So $0.86 per batch.
Washing Soda $3.49 for a 55 oz. box = 6 1/2 cups per box So $0.54 per batch.
Borax powder $3.79 for 76 oz. box = 11 cups per box So $0.36 per batch.
Water free-ish
For a grand total of $1.76 for four gallons of laundry soap.
Using 1/2 cup for each load that is 128 loads. Which works out to $0.01 per load.
A pretty great value if you ask me. And you have complete control over the ingredients.

Quicky, easy, cheap. Love it!

Affordable Prescription Glasses and Contacts

Our youngest son has to wear glasses. He is five and as anyone with a five year old knows they are clumsy and destructive, especially the ones who need glasses.

When he first started wearing glasses we ordered them through the optical center at our Optometrist’s office. Hello, expensive. Our insurance gave us a little bit of a discount but they still cost us $275 out of pocket. Ouch!

I was complaining about it one day and a friend mentioned ordering their glasses online through Zenni Optical. So I checked out the website and got our son a backup pair of glasses for $12 with shipping! Seriously?!?! He broke them pretty quickly and I was a tad disappointed but for the price I wasn’t too upset. Especially seeing as though his pair from the eye doctors office also broke and weren’t going to be covered under their warranty (the nice lady at the office had them fixed for us for free anyway).

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Kids frames from Zenni Optical $6.95

A few months later the doctor changed my son’s prescription. Our new insurance covered another pair from their office. But they are so bendy that we have to bring them in for adjustments all the time. So for a backup pair I ordered another pair from Zenni. These ones lasted much longer. He had them for 6 months or more before he fell at school and broke them on the sidewalk. I love that the plastic frames don’t bend or need adjusting too. I had also ordered my hubby a pair, which he loves, and I ordered a pair of sunglasses for our son. Both of those have held up very well.

Now that our son broke his backup pair I ordered him another pair, my hubby a second pair and myself a pair with the clip on sunglasses. Total cost, $30. Thank you very much! (And I also will be getting 4% cash back through ebates.)

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Mens frame from Zenni Optical $6.95

I have also ordered glasses through CostalContacts before and am very happy with the pair I have from them. I have had them for years now and got the special protective coatings, springy hinges and all that and they only cost me $30!

The same idea applies for contacts as it does for glasses. If you order them from the Optometrist’s office they will be more expensive then if you order them online. I have ordered through OptiContacts the past few years but have used Vision Direct and CostalContcts in the past as well. I just shop around online to find the best price when it is time to order. A lot of times you can get rebates on contacts through the manufacturer too so be sure to look into that on their website too.

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Acuvue 2 box of 6 contacts $16.49 at Opticontacts $23.99 at Walmart, Sams Club and 1-800-Contacts

In both cases you need a valid prescription from your eye doctor (some sites ask for a copy). For glasses you will also need to measure your pupillary distance but that is very easy to do. If you have a current pair of prescription glasses there should be information printed on the inside arm of your frames and/or on the nose bridge that can be useful in making sure you get the right fit. Also, you should be able to use your FSA (if you have one) to pay for these online purchases by submitting the receipts to your FSA company.

A word of warning. Your eye doctor and their office will probably not be kind when you ask for a copy of your prescription. They lose money when you don’t order your glasses and contacts through them. However if you ask nicely and aren’t thrown by them being nasty they should give you what you ask for.

And as always remember to click through ebates first to get cash back and check there and/or google to look for coupons or promo codes. I almost always find one for a discount or free shipping.

* As with everything online, this is not medical advice. Go to your eye doctor for your regular checkups and follow their expert medical advice.

JoAnn Haul

Today I made out like a bandit at JoAnn. What would have cost $92.79 was $23.38 after clearance and coupons. Score!

Here is how I did it.

I always look through the clearance sections when I go in. They always have the seasonal stuff on super clearance after a holiday. Today I found Holiday Inspirations 25ft Pine Roping Garland on sale from $7.99 down to $1.67. I bought two to use next year.

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In their regular clearance section I came across a 2 lb tub of Crayola Model Magic modeling compound for $5.97. So I walked over to the kids craft section and saw that it was regularly $24.99! And there I also found some Crayola Model Magic Jungle Animals Craft Pack’s marked down from $7.99 each to $1.97. I grabbed two and plan to stick it all in my box ‘o gifts I keep on hand for when the kids are invited to birthday parties.

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The reason I went to JoAnn in the first place was I needed glue sticks for my hot glue gun and I also needed Gesso for some canvases I picked up on Craigslist.

The glue sticks were $9.99 for 100 but I used a 50% off coupon making them $4.99

And the Gesso was $8.99 and I had a 40% off coupon for that one so it was $5.39.

I also had a 15% off all crafts coupon that knocked another $1.99.

So there you have it. Not too bad if you ask me.

Print and sign up to get JoAnn coupons in the mail here. Sometimes there are also coupons in their flyer which you can pick up when you walk in the door. Also, teachers (homeschoolers too) can get a teacher discount card for an additional 15% off purchases.

Analogy

I thought of this analogy today and it seems accurate to me.

Trying to accomplish anything when living with a chronic illness is like trying to chisel away at a cinder block wall. Every day it takes a ton of effort to chip away just one tiny corner and there is someone on the other side placing another whole block.

Feeling overwhelmed and frustrated with the amount of time and effort it takes me to accomplish the smallest tasks. Feeling walled in by this illness.

Strep Again

Hey everyone (and by everyone I mean the two of you who read what I write). I keep meaning to post something, and have been working on several things, but I just don’t seem to be able to finish anything.

Our household has been dealing with Strep again/still. Everyone but me is up to three times on antibiotics for it. Their symptoms are getting more varied, strange and not classic. I was on an antibiotic too for a spreading infection I had in a scratch in my hand. I think that was caused by strep bacteria as well. We have had rashes gallore, low fever and a headache, etc. Pretty soon we are going to break out in stripes or something.

Naturally I am sick and tired of this darn bug. So I started doing research and found out that Strep A bacteria can live on surfaces for 3 days to 6.5 months! Oh yippee. Join me as I freak out and consider bleaching every single thing in my house! Pretty soon this will be me.

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Thankfully I also found that one of the things that kills Strep is Hydrogen Peroxide. Yay for natural solutions! So we will be disinfecting with that. As soon as I get up the energy. In the meantime I am praying that these antibiotics work and that we can rid ourselves of this wretched bug once and for all. If you think of it say a prayer for us and by all means stay far, far away.