Thursday, August 29, 2013

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

I bought a house this year, as handicap accessible apartments were impossible to come by in my budget range in my area. And yes, it really is cheaper to pay a mortgage, home owners insurance, flood insurance, and mortgage insurance than it was to rent a handicap accessible apartment. Pathetic, but true. A bit of a statement on the state of things in our world, but that’s not the point of this post.

Anyways, my adorable little house came with some convenient raised beds already in the back yard. They had ornamental grasses in them, but in this grand scheme in my head, I envisioned veggies growing there instead. So I wrangled up my aunt and cousins, they removed the grasses for me, then, *they mixed in compost from my aunts garden*. Stars around the compost bit, because this becomes very important down the road. I wound up planting 4 adorable little Roma tomato plants, since I make pretty awesome pizza sauce, if I must say so myself, and wanted to can some. Other things were also planted, but they are less important in this instance.

Turns out that compost? It’s tomato crack. Or speed. Or steroids. We’re not really sure. All I know is I’m living in the midst of a scene from the awesome, campy, C-grade 1978 horror flick Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. (If you haven’t seen it, watch it. It’s hysterical.) The one plant now tops 11’ tall. Yep, *11 feet*. I had to have my dad make me some custom 8’ tall spikes for my garden to tie the tops of the plants to. These 4 little plants? Are now generating about 20-40 ripe tomatoes per day. I cored, blanched, and peeled about 200 tomatoes last night, tonight is juicing, dicing, and making pizza sauce to can. I plan on trading jars of this stuff all year for chores, etc, around my house. The rewards will be worth it, though- pizza sauce made from organically grown tomatoes, onions, and basil, canned diced and whole organic tomatoes for soups and stews all winter, etc. I’m saving a ton of money already on grocery bills and will end up with a setup at the end of the year of drying herbs and canning like a loon to do lots of both in the future for next to no additional money. Next year, I expect to do all my canning for under $30 and have a year + supply of tomatoes, herbs, sauces, and food left for barter. This year, it’s cost me closer to $100 to pull it all off since I needed the proper canning jar grips, funnels, lids, etc. Still way cheaper.

For your viewing enjoyment, 5 days worth of tomato harvesting:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Surviving Germ-ageddon

After spending the last couple of years on immune suppressive therapy, I’ve picked up some tricks to avoiding infection. These tricks have come from both my own experiences and the experiences of my friends from my fabulous support group, The Chronic Bitches, who take similar medications. Being germ-a-phobes is not a choice for us, it’s a necessary survival tactic. I consider it training to survive the zombie-pocalypse, so I can avoid being contaminated by infected brains. Since fewer zombies on d-day means less beings trying to eat mah brainz, here’s some of the tricks of the trade.

1)      Wash your hands- often. It seems obvious, but surprisingly enough, I notice probably 30% of adults leave the bathroom without washing up. Make sure you wash them correctly- I like to look like a crazy lunatic and sing a verse of “Old McDonald” to myself while I wash. It’s exactly the right length in time. So are most verses of most children’s songs, to be honest. Bonus points are given for really weird songs.
2)      Wash your hands even more often. Yep, this one really gets 2 slots. The things we don’t think about can get you. Hands must be washed not just after going to the bathroom and before eating, but also before touching your face or any other mucus membranes. So- no rubbing your eyes, rubbing your nose, etc, before washing up.
3)      Don’t hesitate to teach those around how to cough and sneeze properly. Hesitation can mean a hospitalization- totally not worth it in the end. Everyone should cough or sneeze into a tissue then wash their hands thoroughly, or cough/sneeze into the crook of their elbow. This best controls the germ spread.
4)      Never share food or drink. It’s fine if someone eats/drinks after you, but never eat/drink after anyone.
5)      Only kiss people you really trust to know if they’re sick or have exposed to germs. Yes, I know not frenching random strangers takes a lot of the fun out of life, but you’ll deal. Besides, you never know when one of those people will turn out to be a zombie.
6)      Save certain fingers for certain tasks. Weird sounding, I know, but it really does help. For instance- my pinky and ringer fingers are for touching public surfaces. If I need to open a door with a handle, I pull the door open using just those 2 fingers if at all possible. I press buttons, like handicap door open buttons and elevator buttons, using the back of my hand. This leaves my middle and index fingers and thumb far cleaner, so that if I do mess up and rub my eyes (a bad habit I have yet to break), I’m far less likely to make myself sick.
7)      Never eat food from a buffet. If you must, like at a family dinner, make sure you are the very first one served. Just pretend you’re royalty if it makes you feel better. Bonus points if you wear a tiara.
8)      Never eat food prepared by someone who’s sick. Doesn’t matter if they say it’s “just allergies”. The junk they’re sneezing out is still contaminated with germs
I’m sure there’s a lot more tips out there, but those are the ones that popped up into the front of my mind. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Sorry I haven't posted in a bit- I got to go on my first vacation in over 8 years this week. My whole family went to Ocean Isle, NC. My grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a vow renewal on the beach overlooking the sound that seperates the island from the mainland. It was fantastic to get to be there. They're still so very much in love after 50 years of marriage. I can only hope that someday I can find my true love like they have. Following the vow renewal we had a big family dinner (all 12 of us) curtesy of my older brother, dancing to music that was popular 50 years ago (courtesy of my aunt), and a slide show of pictures from my grandparents dating days and wedding (which I had never seen before, so it was awesome).

The rest of the week was far less dignified. I blame that on my grandparents, though- they declared war by showing up with a minivan full of squirt guns. We spent hours most days in the pool attacking each other, attempting to dunk people, and generally being loud, obnoxious goofballs.  I may have kinda, sorta ending up jumping on my grandmothers back at one point and dunking her in the deep end... She started it! (I should probably point out that Gran looks and acts at least a decade younger than her 69 years and is healthy as a horse.) Thankfully, our neighbors were very laid back people and didn't mind the noise. ;) I even got in the ocean!!!! The RSD makes me extremely sensitive to temperature so I was very worried the cold water would be a Very Bad Thing, but the water was oddly warmer than usual. So warm, in fact, I didn't even need the wetsuit I took with me. I got some very odd looks for walking right into the water with my old wood crutches, but they worked great in the water and were no worse for wear for the  hour I spent in the ocean water. I'm glad I took the wetsuit with, though. It was worth the cost of the rental for the piece of mind. Plus, the guys at the scuba shop reminded me that with how weak my leg is now I shouldn't go very deep in the water as I wouldn't have the strength to resist any undertow. A very good reminder, indeed. 

A picture of my grandparents as they danced after the vow renewal:

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Good news!!

I'm so excited!!! I just saw my orthopedist last week (well, one of them- I avoid the other 2 as they have all the personality of a pair of rocks and herds of annoying Yes Men follow them around) and was told that my skeletal disease is currently stable enough that we can start looking at heavy hitting treatments for the pain disorder I have in my legs. Which means... I'm finally a canidate for a Spinal Cord Stimulator!!!! I'm super pysched, as I've met about 10 people over the years who have SCS's for RSD/CRPS specifically, and even more who have them for various other things, and most of them have had great success. I know there's a chance the device won't help, but I'm considered a prime canidate as I get decent help from Sympathetic Nerve Blocks, which I currently have done monthly. The goal is to be able to stop the SNB's and possibly reduce pain meds and/or ditch the crutches/wheelchair and go back to a cane. 

Now comes some seriously difficult decisions, though. I get to pick which brand of SCS I want. This is tricky- there's only 2 brands, but each has obvious advantages. Medtronic (, the more common brand, offers a device which is compatible with some types of MRI and the electrodes automatically adjust current strength and wavelength based off of position sensing devices in the brains of the device. This is nice because normal things like bending, stretching, and shifting can cause the electrodes to trigger pain. The other brand, Boston Scientific (, allows me to have a second set of leads added down the road without needing a second "brain" implanted. This is big because having leads-only done is a much lighter surgery, and I'd still only need to charge 1 implant instead of 2. This option of adding a second set of leads is huge because RSD, the disease we're hoping to treat, spreads very, very easily in cases like mine. In fact, 5 years ago, it only covered half my right leg. Now I have RSD from toes to waist in both legs. So if the disease continues its upwards spread, adding leads would cover any new areas affected by disease. 

So yeah, teh choices... It's a good choice to have, but it stinks to have to choose one type of awesome.