Thursday, July 23, 2015

this is what it feels like


To say I did not sleep well last night would be an understatement. I went to bed knowing it would not be a night of pleasant dreams and comfort but the reality was I had no idea how unpleasant it was going to be. Do you have allergies? Do you suffer from allergies? I'm not talking the hay fever that tickles your throat so that you are a sneezy mess with watery eyes and the like. While it is uncomfortable and annoying at best it is nothing compared to chronic allergies that hit you deep into your lungs. I'm talking knock down, drag out, kick your ass allergies that are triggered by so many things you might as well put yourself in a bubble suit and call it a life.

They say to avoid triggers. Avoid triggers, that's a hoot. It appears just about anything triggers my mess. I'm not even sure what it was this time. We've had high humidity (for us) which often triggers asthma symptoms in myself. There was rain. Rain can really screw up an asthmatic's life as well (not to mention that I walked in said rain at a beach surrounded by eucalyptus and eucalyptus is not my friend). I've been working in the pink room as well, kicking up the dust bunnies like it's the last disco on earth and well...dust is one of my (many) triggers. And to wrap it up, I ate something that had bell peppers in it. Up until now, bell peppers merely itched up the throat and caused a mild wheeze with a little tummy distress but who knows? Maybe in my middle age, bell peppers have turned all Snidely Whiplash on me.

Whatever the cause, it began with a bit more wheeze than usual. Wheezing happens when your bronchial tubes (or bronchioles) spasm making the airway passage narrow. Our air passages are already pretty narrow but an asthmatic's  are a crinkly mess. Even when we are not wheezing away, it is possible our bronchioles are so damaged that they are permanently narrowed. In an attack, as they spasm, they often decide to quirk it up by throwing mucous into the midst. So while a normal person is breathing through a clean straw, an asthmatic is breathing through a straw whittled from wood with sap till stuck in it.

When you breathe in and out, air flows into your trachea and down to your bronchioles and into your lungs (and alveoli). Oxygen is taken in and carried to your blood and which exchanges it with carbon dioxide. During an attack, your bronchioles spasm and produce mucous thus blocking your airways. You end up gasping to bring air in deeply but it feels like it only reaches the front of your lungs. The tube becomes so inflamed that the alveolus cannot release air or carbon dioxide to or from the bloodstream. To me it feels like I am being held underwater which is rather scary. Often, panic will flare up and my heart will start to race and there is a tightness all around my chest as if I am being embraced by the mightiest bear of all. Very little air goes in, even less is expelled.

Then, to mix things up a bit, my allergies like to include other parts of my body. They are equal opportunity attackers. For some lovely reason, not only do I get to not breathe through my mouth, but I get to forfeit breathing through my nose as well. Go me. Some time ago, my body decided to build polyps in my nasal passages. When said polyps decide not to play well with others they become incensed, nay, inflamed! They puff themselves up in anger and block my right to breathe through my nose.

So yeah, breathing is rather not fun for me when my allergies are being bullies.

Which, brings me back to last night. I had been struggling with abnormal breathing and a slightly inflamed set of polyps for a few days, sucking on my inhaler way more than I should be and being all mouth breather because my nose wasn't working. During the day it is annoying at best but during the night a different beast comes out. Fuseli's beast, actually. I have to sleep sitting up otherwise I feel like the nightmare is sitting on my chest. I cannot breathe through my nose as the beast is holding it closed so I am left gaping my mouth like a fish gasping for air. It also feels like someone has wedged a bean up my nose and to make matters worse their is drainage. My ears are also clogged to oblivion, muting all sounds save the ones my body is making, so the symphony of wheeze is not a lullaby but a raucous mess that is worse than nails on a chalkboard. There is snoring and gasping and gasping and snoring. My mouth is as parched at our drought driven lakes and there is no rest for the weary.

I toss and turn and turn and toss. I sit up. I cry. I stand up. I drink water. I suck on my inhaler. I try to get comfortable. I wake up and think is it almost morning but it has only been an hour since I went to bed. This goes on throughout the night. The tossing, the turning, the sobbing, the gasping. I finally find rest around 7am and sleep for two hours. When I wake up my mouth is so parched, it takes three glasses of water (and a mug of hot tea) to feel somewhat hydrated (and now, at almost 3pm I am still feeling parched). The curl in my hair has left me for sticksville and the bags under my eyes are a pretty shade of plum. I feel like I slept under water without an oxygen tank and I look it.

Allergies are not just allergies, are not just allergies, are not just allergies. They are an autoimmune response that can wreak havoc on our bodies and our day to day lives. I can tell you right now that I hurt. My body is in pain and I feel curled into myself just to breathe. I am so very grateful to have found a medicine that will give me temporary relief but am struggling to figure out how to do this without meds. Hydration is key and knowing those damn triggers can sometimes be helpful but one of my key allergies has me worried as from what I can tell it grows on everything even fresh greens from my garden. So all I can do is take baby steps, observe, be aware, and make sure there are meds in place for when the nightmare decides to visit.


some days...

some days you just need a dose of happy. sometimes that dose of happy might come from folding your tights and placing them in rainbow order inside a shoebox. just saying.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

sunflower garden

Have I told you already how the sunflowers have gone bonkers in the garden a-go-go 2.0? Seriously bonkers. The bees, all the bees, are loving them. Bumble, honey, and native bees are constantly buzz, buzz, buzzing about. It is awesome. Also, the linnets and goldfinches have been enjoying sunflower salad since before the flowers showed their faces. They sit, chirp, and peck, peck, peck at the green leaves. They appear so happy. And then there is this guy...the dreaded cucumber beetle, chomp, chomp, chomping away at whatever it can get it's little mouth on. Better the sunflowers than the lettuce I say. All in all there are three very tall stalks with a ridiculous number of blooms. The very first stalk to bloom has already gone past while the second two continue to show new blooms daily. The stalks are crazy thick, and the leaves...oh the leaves are enormous! Here are some more pics...

Saturday, July 18, 2015

walking before midnight...


Greetings! Tara and I have been talking about how we have kind of lost the knack of both blogging and taking photographs. After many chats and coincidences we decided to partner up and photograph our magic hour walks. Once a month, we will be posting photos and writing about our early evening wanders not too far from home, we're calling it walking before midnight. We hope to encourage you to grab your camera and go for a walk when the light is its most pretty and your surroundings appear magical. Begin small, take a wander around the block or your neighborhood. Look for color or interesting combinations and have fun!
Tara and I couldn't live in more different environments. She lives in the desert and I live on the coast but we still see magic and beauty in the simplest things. From flowers to rocks to cacti or sand, we aim to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.
I took my magic hour walk along the sands of Avila Beach. Usually I like to walk this sandy stretch early in the morning when the tide is out and there are very few people milling about. Walking this beach after 6pm changes everything about my walk...the tide, the people, the sights, and sounds.
The tide was super high, which made walking in the sand a little more work. My feet would sink, sink, sink, in the soft, soft sand causing the incoming tide to embrace my knees. The air is warmer in the early evening and of course the light, more golden.
 
There are small mounds of golden seaweed scattered across the sand. Feathers are everywhere, poking up out of the sand like small forests and tangled up like a dance party with the golden seaweed.
After wandering out towards the cliffs as far as the tide would allow, we turned around and wandered up to the small village full of touristy shops, coffee houses, and tasting rooms (this is wine country, after all).
It's a tiny little stop along the coast but there is much to look at if you slow down and look. I love the colors I can see, the rust, the green, and the puffs of pink.
How quickly the light changes but it may be those hills you see in the background. One minute the light was golden, the next it was as blue as blue can be and the temperature dropped. People began packing up and making the trek up the sand back to their cars and their homes.
Really, this stretch of sand I love so is not very large at all. Maybe half a mile from end to end. Mostly sand and seaweed with the occasional sand crab tickling your toes. If the tide is out far enough, you can walk to the end where there are small green crabs that hide behind amongst anenomes and if you time it just right you may see a whale breach right before your eyes, a pair of sea otters will float by, and lines of pelicans cast shadows across the sand peppered in criss-crossed footprints of the seagulls as they do their early morning dance before the sea. Click here to see Tara's desert adventure.

Friday, July 10, 2015

the mama a-go-go had a birthday...

so we celebrated...with decorations
 
and light-up fun
and food...
 
 
and old school cocktails...
 
and gifts...
and pie (of course)
and tunes...

Monday, July 06, 2015

june

Clearly I need to work on my blogging skills. I have lost the habit of writing and I miss it but right now my brain is in such a muddle that anything I write is far from delightful so until I rediscover my happy place I'll just recap so I remember what I did in June. It was pretty busy...
The pomegranate tree finally produced fruit! Crossing my fingers at least one of the three poms matures. I am ridiculously excited over this news. My very own pomegranate tree! The best things in life, right?
I dressed up in pseudo-medieval costume for our History Day celebration at school. I work for a private school that follows the Classical Education model and we often celebrate history as an entire school. From the preschoolers to the graduating seniors we gather together for the children to share what they have learned about history. This year was all about the Middle Ages and since I missed our Viking Day I was happy I was able to make our feast! There were sword fights, dancers, court jesters, musicians, food, and even...gasp...a posoining!
More costume fun. Also for school. This time I dressed up as the little red bird from The Lion and the Little Red Bird for our end of year classroom party. The children are invited to dress up as their favorite book character from our classroom literature throughout the year. They get to present on their chosen books and we gather together for high tea with fancy china cups and all.
We celebrated the mister's birthday with a family dinner at our favorite burger joint. While the burgers are most excellent, the chocolate malts are the best! Even better, pop a silly hat on your head on your birthday and your burger is free!
The school year ended and so I schlepped all of my classroom succulents home in the tray we use to corral water bottles. Many of these happy plants were gifts from students. Succulents are the easiest way to add a little green to the classroom.
I had to pack up the classroom as we are getting new floors. Out goes the carpet, in comes checkered linoleum. While  it is going to be a lot of work unpacking and arranging, I am super excited to experiment with our even more open floor plan now! Like...keep-me-up-at-night-planning type of excited! 
The first week of summer vacation was spent recovering from a nasty food poisoning episode. After all the sleep and ick I did manage to read all sorts of fun. I do love the libary.
Also squeezed in a few coffee dates and there are plans on the horizon for some fun stuff such a partnering up with this super nifty gal. Also, just enjoying really good coffee and oh my goodness, the best morning buns EVER!
I took a trip down to Los Angeles where I finally got to squeeze these people and pass along Christmas-New Years-Valentines-Arbor Day-Etc...gifts. L.A. will get its own post coming soon. Ahem.
We sadly said goodbye to this dear kitty. At 19 years she lived a pretty long kitty life even though the decision had to be made too quickly for our wanting. Sweet Dolly, you are missed.