Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Where oh where has Sara been?

I get lots of messages from people asking where I've been, how is my health, how am I doing (besides reading), how are things? And for the most part you'll get the, "Oh... you know... the same..." and I'm rather vague.  

Because honestly? I really don't know how I am doing. I have had a really chaotic year in terms of health stuff, doctor visits, lab work, and crying in my car and/or closet (depending on the day). Let us start with November 2021 though, because I feel like the latest series of events kind of kicked off around then. 

Since my AFE, I have had a series of awful medical things happen and I know I used to do a good job at updating things here, but honestly, it feels like it is coming at me fast and furious all of the time and I really don't know my ass from my elbow some days. It's not so much that I am getting diagnosed with new things, but the things that I have been diagnosed with are changing, getting worse, or kind of morphing into something else, but nobody is actually sure so we wait. What I have consistently dealt with though are things that I could narrow down to a few categories: 

  • Fatigue: Guys. When I say fatigue, I'm not talking about the, "I wish I got more/better sleep, I'm really dragging ass and could use a nap" kind of tired. I'm talking about the kind of tired where you're totally fine and functioning and all of a sudden (literally), you feel like the Energizer Bunny as his batteries die down. It truly is like everything around me turns into slow motion, things sound far away or like I'm in a tunnel/under water, and I truly feel like if I do not lay down RIGHT NOW and sleep, I am going to collapse. As it turns out, I actually will fall down and sleep. Why? Nobody knows! 
  • Vomiting: Why people choose to vomit meals daily, maybe even multiple times a day, I will never understand. I go in random stretches of feeling totally fine, I can eat like a normal person and things will be OK to being a person who walks around her house carrying a red bucket and never leaves the house without a plastic Target bag (or ten) because I will puke out of nowhere. Think about food because I'm hungry? Puke. Try to eat a meal? Puke. Have to go pee? Puke. Want to take a shower? Puke. Answer the phone? Puke. It literally phases nobody in my house anymore, mom just pukes and we plan around the what ifs. I'm not even puking food anymore, it's bile, and then whatever the thicker, almost pudding like bile that comes after regular bile? Whatever that is, it is absolutely disgusting, never in my life have I ever experienced that and once that starts, then I'm in real trouble because I'm going to pass out. In other news, if anyone is looking for a good gift idea for me, a really good kneeling pad for next to the toilet would be awesome. Currently I'm balling up towels and that's not really doing it. The only thing I know I can always keep down are Wheat Thins. I will almost always have Wheat Thins in my purse (like a whole ass box or bag from the box), on side tables, next to my bed, literally everywhere. You know how an alcoholic would hide alcohol? That is me... just with Wheat Thins. 
  • Dizziness/Double Vision/Everything is a Merry-Go-Round: Honestly, this is the most unpredictable, and easily the worst, thing that I'm dealing with. Sure, fatigue sucks but I can take a nap and usually feel functional. Vomiting is not awesome, but I've got a bucket and Wheat Thins, come at me, bro. Dizziness though? You are actually totally fucked. There are medications of course, none of which work so I don't even bother. I could be totally fine and just like that, I feel like I'm on the fastest Tilt-A-Whirl, there is two (sometimes three) of things, and I am so damn dizzy. I look like an actual drunk college girl in 5 inch heels on a cobblestone street in the dark. It has made leaving the house near impossible. If I'm going to, it's a whole routine to do before, a whole series of things to bring just in case, and having several back up plans. I haven't gone to a store alone in... well over a year. Someone has to be with me because there is a good chance I will fall or definitely need to hang onto someone. If I get dizzy, I can chug a ton of water like I've never had water before, eat a bunch of salty snacks, and wait. If that's not working, I chug a ton of water and then eat a bunch of sugary snacks, and wait. Usually one of those works. If it doesn't, I have to go home immediately and go to sleep. If I'm alone by chance? I'm locking my car doors, opening windows slightly and taking a nap and hoping for the best. I'm not even kidding. 
Now, you're asking yourself, "Sara- what the hell, don't you ask a doctor?!", to which I say oh child. Seriously. I have been to primary, endocrinology, gastroenterology, cardiology, pulmonology, rheumatology, nephrology, neurology, the ER countless times, accupuncturist, balance and movement therapy, physical therapy, opthamology, and any weirdo idea anyone has come up with? Done it. All of it. No answers. Everyone just points at each other, meanwhile I'm in the middle eating Wheat Thins and looking like I've been on meth for a week straight. 

The worst though, was in November. I had been complaining that it was truly just getting worse and nobody really understood what I was saying. Until the day I passed out in the shower without warning, for 45 minutes, only to be woken up by Lucy holding my cell phone and asking if I want to call daddy. I had no idea what the hell happened, or how, and I was so disorientated. 

I know I hit my back, shoulder, and arm on the water spout going down, and I think I hit my head on the side of the tub, and probably bottom. I woke up to the shower being off (so I know something hit the little button thing that you push down to fill the tub) and the water hitting my forehead, so how I didn't drown, I have no idea. That's what my back looked like right after and that was an AWFUL bruise for at least a month. 
I had bruises like this in weird spots, so under my arms, one on the back of my neck, one on the side of my boob (but on the other side of my body, so that was odd), a bad one on my knee, the top of my foot, and god knows my head hurt like hell for days. Pretty much everyone was in agreement that I had a concussion for sure. Nobody can agree on why this would have happened. I didn't feel lightheaded or anything before, I truly have no memory of going down. So that was fun. 

Since then though, the dizziness and vision issues have only gotten worse. I rarely drive. If I do, please know that I have had enough water to accomodate three camels for a year and my bladder is probably going to burst. I've eaten an exact amount, I have snacks and more water, I have a bag to puke in, and I have a list of people to call should I get into trouble and can't drive. I can tell well in advance if I'm going to be able to drive myself to an appointment or not, and Matt will leave work to take me. I no longer walk outside because I get dizzy and disoriented. 

Which means that I have literally become a recluse. I'm lonely and sick. I don't go places, I don't have people come over because nobody wants to hang with someone who can't shower alone, pukes all the time, and literally only has Wheat Thins to eat. My house is a wreck, I have no energy, I'm exhausted, and I'm frustrated. I think I've narrowed it down to either endocrinology or gastroenterology at this point. I'm shit out of luck with endo because the doctor I've had since day one literally just died, which explains why I can't get a call back or reply message on the portal to save my life. Gastro FINALLY agreed to see me this Friday, so I'm just crossing fingers something good happens. 

The last straw at this point for me was yesterday. Yesterday I took Jackson to a doctor appointment. Got so damn dizzy so him and I just watched weirdos walking around the Hillside area for an hour while I chugged water and ate snacks. I got him to school and I just felt... not great. I was going to lay down but thought, I better pee first, you know? I pee, and I feel like I am actually being stabbed with pins and needles all across my lower abdomen and I have just a dull, but not comfortable, pain in my lower left side. I was at the sink and I remember thinking, "holy shit, I think I'm going to pass out, this hurts so bad", and I have a pretty high threshold for pain by now. So somehow I get to floor and decided to crawl out and into the living room to lay on the couch. 

Fast forward almost an hour later, I wake up, flat on my damn back, spread out like a starfish in my dining room (which is like half-way between the bathroom and the living room), and I have no fucking idea how I ended up like that. I decide I need to get to the couch, so I was able to stand up, I walked the maybe five feet to the couch, and I curl up in a ball and sleep for another hour. Now, nevermind I had apparently taken the dog out and he's outside and my back door is WIDE FUCKING OPEN. Hi, just come murder me. Have some Wheat Thins on the way out. 

By this point it is almost 3, so I know kids are coming home soon, so I get the dog, butt scoot my way down the basement stairs to my room, get into bed and slept for almost three hours. I was able to go back to bed around 11 at night, and I feel fine today. I'm tired but that's about it, same as every day. 

EXPLAIN THAT. 

Blood pressure is all over the place. Beats per minute? I could go as low as 40 and high as 120something one time and I was literally sitting on the couch doing nothing. I feel fine either way, no different. I keep telling Matt that if this is how the rest of my life is, this is pretty damn bleak because I am in misery right now. 

Friday, September 30, 2022

Book Review: Backyard Witchcraft

Happy spooky season! Are you tuning in to watch Hocus Pocus 2 tonight? I will not, it is actually homecoming for our high school, the big kids are playing in the band, so I'm pulling mom duty and sitting at a football game. I can't wait because at lunch time I decided to go put a couple of yard decorations up, and as I stepped on one to push the stake into the ground, I literally threw my back out. Just shooting pain, hurts to breath, hurts to sit or stand, I'm just real excited to sit on metal bleachers for 3+ hours. YAY ME. At least it's nice and not raining, it could be worse, I suppose. 

Backyard Witchcraft - Cecilia Lattari

Embark on an exploration of modern-day witchcraft, embracing the green path, which connects us to nature. Herbalist Cecilia Lattari guides readers to reawaken their inner witch by tuning in to the magic and sacred energies of their everyday lives, using the hidden powers of nature to foster positive connections between mind, body, and spirit and living spaces. Filled with colorful, compelling illustrations, this handbook introduces green, hedge, and kitchen witches. Readers will learn how to create their own witch’s tool kits, purify their homes, work with the four natural elements, build magic laboratories, and discover the path that encourages a harmonious transformation.
One of my favorite things to read and learn about is witches, witch history, witch lore, just all things witch. I immediately jumped on this tour because it sounded fascinating. It actually was incredibly fascinating, but I also learned quite a bit about things in my own backyard. I learned I actually have a whole bunch of yarrow in a back corner and I had no idea what it was. None of my plant identifying apps figured it out (yay for free apps!), but it's pretty cool that the mystery is solved. 

The book is broken down into really small sections and while you could read it cover to cover, this works best as a reference book. The book is separated into seven main chapters, there is a planner included at the end, a test to see if you were paying attention (but also to see what kind of witch you are), a few "magical stories" of witches, and a great bibliography at the end which is just interesting for the nerdy witches out there. 

I actually also really appreciated the information about plants in general and their roots/root systems, because I struggled big time with this. I am trying to become a semi-decent gardener (I'd like to ideally not kill everything), and oddly, indoor plants is where I struggle the most, so this gave me some information I had no idea about (and honestly never would have thought about). 

Overall, this was a pretty cool book. It has a great layout, it is written well and for a topic that could be intimidating and overwhelming, the author did a fantastic job organizing it and breaking down into laymans terms. I also want to mention the illustrations. Betti Greco did these throughout the book and they are just so pretty and go with the general aesthetic of the book, well done. 

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Dover Publications for having me on this tour. Matt says I can't turn into a witch but... he's not the boss of me. Right? 

This page contains affiliate links. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Book Review: Beauty & the Professor - AND- Falling for the Beast

OOH.... I have a double review for you today! I finished one and had to immediately read the next one, so I'm going to give you both because I'm sure you'll be doing the same. 

Beauty and the Professor - Skye Warren

(A Modern Fairy Tale Duet #1)

Once upon a time there was a beautiful college student…

Erin cleans Mr. Morris’s house twice a week to pay her tuition. The reclusive ex-soldier intimidates her, but she can’t help but feel sympathy for him. Then she walks in on him touching himself, and she has much darker, much more sensual feelings.

And a beastly professor with scars he can’t hide…

Blake Morris knows he’s scarred both inside and out. He’s reclusive and surly. Nowhere near good enough for the smart and beautiful young woman who cleans his house.

He receives an offer to return to his alma mater as an associate professor. This is his chance to reenter the world--and to be worthy of the woman he dreams about. He never expected to see her sitting in his classroom on the first day of the semester.
**
OK, now... when I started this one I was a little bit nervous because student/teacher romance is always really borderline for me. It begins with Erin, who cleans Blake's home (it gives you some vibes similar to The Mister by E.L. James, except it is so much better), since coming off a tour in the middle East badly and forever injured, he's become a recluse. One day she basically walks into him masturbating and very clearly fantasizing about her, which is how this whole romance starts, like any solid love story would, am I right? It isn't a very long one, but it covers the (very) hot and heavy beginning of their relationship, until him starting his position as a professor at the same college Erin attends. She needs one more class to graduate and, surprise, her lover is the professor. There is some ethical debating here, we also meet a slightly unhinged almost fiancee. I liked it, enough to make me immediately purchase the next one at 3:30 a.m. because I truly could not wait and it leaves you on a true cliff hanger. 

Falling for the Beast - Skye Warren
A Modern Fairy Tale Duet #2)
He can never turn back into a prince...

A troubling revelation puts Blake's newfound career in jeopardy--and even worse, puts Erin's impending graduation at risk. He can't risk her future no matter how much he wants her.

She will never have a happily ever after...

A dark legacy threatens everything they've worked to build. When old debt comes between them, both Blake and Erin must fight to protect each other--and their love.

Since their forbidden beginning, Erin and Blake's relationship has been marked by deep sensuality and intense emotion. The couple is tested at every turn. They're running out of time. Blake and Erin will have to trust each other to forge their own sexy ending.

**
Lord alive. I loved this installment, and honestly, most duets give me a meh ending, this one absolutely nailed it for me. Not only did we get a satisfying ending, a few more plot twists are thrown in along the way and it was just right. None of them felt rushed to the finish line, and I absolutely loved how we didn't have the crazy, unnecessary dramatics that we see in most romance novels. The author doesn't need to go there because she expertly weaves us around each obstacle, all while maintaining the heat of this couple. You're left rooting for them and cheering at the end because it was a ride. Erin isn't our whiny damsel in distress, and Blake isn't our asshole hero. They both have their flaws but they compliment each other, which makes all of the steamy scenes believeable and kind of great. Just saying. I finished this wanting more and more of this couple, but I'll settle for other Skye Warren books for sure. 

This post contains affiliate links. 

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Book Review: I Let You Fall

Hey lambs! I have a doozy of a post coming, maybe tomorrow, with a medical update that will make you laugh and laugh.... otherwise you just cry and frankly, my skin is so dried out. In the meantime, I'll be coming at you with some reviews, so try to keep up. 

I Let You Fall - Sara Downing

On a summer night in London, art teacher Eve Chapman finds herself in a hospital emergency room. She watches surgeons desperately operate on a young woman with a terrible head injury. But when the bandages are removed, Eve is horrified to find her own body on the operating table.

Trapped in a coma, Eve struggles to cope with the fact that no matter how hard she tries, her family and friends cannot see or hear her. But then she meets Luca Diaz, a handsome and comatose lawyer who can see her. He takes Eve under his wing and teaches her how to use her new abilities to help the living.

As the weeks pass, Eve struggles to find a way back to her body and to Nathan, the man she loves. But the more time she spends with Luca, the more she wonders if her old life is worth going back to at all.
It doesn't take a genius to know right away that I jumped at this one because I was in a coma once upon a time. I can't remember anything from that time though, so I can't tell you if anything like this is real or possible, but I'd like to think that it is. Books with plots like these always go down easy because the idea that there is something more after that is comforting and makes the end feel less daunting. A little bit, at least. 

Eve is just living her life one minute and the next minute, she's watching a traumatic incident in a hospital. While asking if she should go with the person as they are lead away, everyone is ignoring her and while a bit rude, it's understandable given the work they do. Once settled Eve quickly realizes that by God.... that's actually her. In a very clearly not great state, and as loved ones file in, she also realizes they can't see or hear her. She has no way to let them know she's OK (I mean, is she though? She is in a coma.), and she, of course, begins to panic. As anyone would do, she attempts to leave the room and quickly learns that's not doable because of restrictions and what not. Enter, Luca. Luca is our friendly... being? Ghost? Random guy going through walls and stuff? Whatever he is, he's friendly, and he becomes a tour guide of sorts for Eve. You know he's a good guide, but why him? The story weaves us through their relationship, but also gives Eve a new viewpoint, I guess I'd call it. 

I really liked this. My only minus point is the ending. I feel like, it wasn't really enough for me. Honestly, I'm not sure if it was just me not really getting it (which is completely possible, my coma gave me good ol' cognitive impairment.. yay me) or if it was lacking something. Don't let me feeling on that detract from you reading it though. I always enjoy books with this premise, though I do understand why it might be hard on others. Death/dying/afterlife/what if's of life is a private journey, though I truly believe there is, and honestly, I'll take any hope I can get some days. 

A huge thank you to TCK Publishing and Quilla Books for sending me a copy for review. Of course Sara Downing, who spells her name the best way possible #teamnoH, for writing a beautiful book you'll fly through on your next weekend. Just don't read as you walk across a street because traffic might get ya. Ask Eve. You can learn more about Sara, and see her other books, on her website: https://www.saradowningwriter.co.uk/

This post contains affiliate links. 

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Book Review: Fake Fiancee

Here we are, another day, another book on my read-the-random-things-I've-downloaded-on-my-Kindle-app journey. Only 250 pages, this was a pretty quick read, and this is a pretty solid author for me so why not?

Fake Fiancee - Ilsa Madden-Mills

Fake engaged to the hottest quarterback in the country? SCORE.

They say nothing compares to your first kiss,
But our first kiss was orchestrated for an audience.
Our second kiss . . . that one was REAL.
He cradled my face like he was terrified he'd f*ck it up.
He stared into my eyes until the air buzzed.
Soft and slow, full of sighs and little laughs,
He inhaled me like I was the finest Belgian chocolate,
And he'd never get another piece.
A nip of his teeth, his hand at my waist . . .
And I was lost.
I forgot he was paying me to be his fake fiancée.
I forgot we weren't REAL.
Our kiss was pure magic, and before you laugh and say those kinds of kisses don't exist,
Then you've never touched lips with Max Kent, the hottest quarterback in college history.

Three months. Two hearts. One fake engagement.
Well now. I'll be honest, a fake engagement trope is usually not something I go for, it's kind of a weird idea to me, but I already had the book, so I may as well give it a try. And honestly? I really liked it. I liked our characters, I loved the beginning meeting (of sorts), and I kind of loved the reintroduction. This one felt like it was more realistic in the "I can't possibly fake this, what are we even doing?", combined with the general awkwardness of doing this with a relative stranger, so I enjoyed that. I also enjoyed their eventual fall for each other. The author did a really good job giving you the feels. 

My only critique... the story has a bit of a subplot of mystery (kind of) and just as I was really starting to get interested in that, it was done. We got a really lackluster conclusion of it and I honestly expected (and wanted) more. Is this enough to deter you from the book? No, I think you'll still enjoy it because the main entertainment is the relationship. My other twinge of annoyance with Sunny CONSTANTLY doubting everything. Now, I understand this is a fake relationship so it truly is based on a lie, but I feel like if someone says something to you when nobody else is around, you can put a little more stock into that. Nope- she just second guesses and questions everything, all because her last boyfriend was a total dirtbag. I understand being a little leery, but this was to another level. 

Overall, I enjoyed this one. I'd give it a solid 4 stars. If you're in the mood for a college football romance, this would be a good, quick one to pick up. 
This post contains affiliate links. 

Monday, September 19, 2022

Book Review: Fighting for Flight

I got this idea at like 2 a.m. the other day that I should go through my Kindle app and randomly read books from there. I actually hate reading ebooks, but I feel bad having my book light on all night because I feel like I'm waking Matt up. So I thought maybe if I read stuff on my phone it wouldn't be so bad. I could use my iPad but it actually hurts to hold after awhile so phone it is. 

In other news, is there a way to sort books on the Kindle app by number of pages? Or a way that I could look up books by length? I was trying to find novellas, or the smallest books and work my way through them like that but I couldn't figure that out so I'm just guessing as I go. 

Fighting for Flight - JB Salsbury

What happens when in order to win, you’re forced to lose?

The only daughter of an infamous Las Vegas pimp, Raven Morretti grew up an outsider. Liberated from the neglectful home of her prostitute mother, she finds solace as a mechanic. With few friends, she’s content with the simple life. Flying under the radar is all she knows, and more than she expects.

Until she catches the eye of local celebrity, UFL playboy Jonah Slade.

Weeks away from his title fight, Jonah is determined to stay focused on everything he’s trained so hard to achieve. Undefeated in the octagon, he’s at the height of his career. But resisting Raven’s effortless allure and uncomplicated nature is a fight he can’t win.

Jonah trades in his bad-boy reputation and puts his heart on the line. But when her father contacts her, setting in motion the ugly truth of her destiny, Jonah must choose. In a high-stakes gamble where love and freedom hang in the balance, a war is waged where the price of losing is a fate worse than death.

Will the hotheaded Jonah be able to restrain his inner fighter to save the woman he loves?

Or will Raven be forced into a life she’s been desperate to avoid?
Would you believe me if I said this was my first book from JB Salsbury? I own a few, have I read them? Not yet. I think I need to soon though, because this one was pretty dang good. So good that I purchased the other ones in the Fighting series. 

This is Jonah and Raven's story and right off the bat, I really liked them. Jonah is an MMA fighter at the top of his game and Raven is a mechanic, which is how they meet. Jonah needs his classic car brought to life and when he meets Raven it is literally instant love for him. She definitely thinks he's gorgeous but she's pretty unexperienced in relationships. Jonah, on the other hand, is basically a man whore. He doesn't do relationships, he's a have-sex-and-then-get-out kind of guy. They start a relationship and immediately I love it, and just as soon as things really come together, Raven learns that her biological father is a pimp and hey, guess what, on her 21st birthday she basically becomes a prostitute and she doesn't really have a choice. Devastated, she is coming to grips that the life she's building after a pretty crappy childhood, is going to be over before it really began. 

Unless. 

Jonah agrees to throw his upcoming match, lose on purpose so the dad can cash out on it, with the promise that Raven would be safe. Now, we've all read enough books to know nothing is as easy as that, so things go down, and I'm not even going to tell you if this has a good ending or not. 

What I will tell you is I really liked this. I flew through it in one night (thanks, insomnia!) and was completely irritated I couldn't buy the next one through the app (why? WHY is that a thing?!), and I was too lazy to get up and walk to the next room. It was also dark and I knew damn well I would run into something, make a ton of noise, and wake everyone up. It was best I just wait until daylight. I love the writing, the steamy scenes are on point and pretty damn great, the relationship development was actually really fast but it felt logical. Overall? I definitely recommend this one, especially if you're looking for an entertaining, and basically guaranteed, book. 5 stars for sure. 

This post contains affiliate links. 

Monday, September 12, 2022

Concerts, Birthdays, the Lake, and more!

I feel like I am doing such a terrible job at keeping you updated on life and what I'm doing. I just forget about it and then I have so many things I could talk about, but I get overwhelmed and do none of it. So that's where I'm at. 

I'm going to be all over the place with this because I can't get my brain to put things in order like a normal person, so here we are.  

Most recently the big kids and I went to see Florence + the Machine this last week and it was a GREAT concert. I've seen Florence once before and this one was just as good, but I'm glad Olivia and Jackson were able to go, too. 
Truly, if you ever have the opportunity to see her live, you need to absolutely do it. Her voice is incredible and it almost feels like a religious experience, which sounds corny, but it's true. 
Dance has started up again, and it is nice to get back into the swing of things. Lucy is all about it, and Olivia seems to be happy to get back into a routine. 
Over the week that Pep and Lu were at grandma and grandpa's, Matt and I refreshed their room. We painted, deep cleaned, sorted toys, and moved furniture. It was exhausting but they absolutely loved it. Can they keep it clean? Yeah.... no. 
Lucy turned six in August, and it was a tough one. I don't know why it is still tough to get through it, but it is and it is so frustrating. 
We got a new kitten, which we've named Pickles. The other pets tolerate him, and the kids love him. He's super cute and has like four polka dots on his side/back and it's so cute. 
I'm pretty sure he's part feral or something because he is WILD. He wants to be petted until you do and then he bites you and tries to fight you. He's kind of an asshole. A cute one, but still. 
School started for everyone, and the best part of fall is watching Olivia in the marching band. This year Jackson is doing it too because he's in high school now. 
It's been pretty fun, and we've been bringing Pep and Lu until half-timeish, but Lucy has yet to make it that long. She usually falls asleep. Pep would go all night if you let her, but she also wants to run wild and eat all the snacks. 
With everything going on, I've been super overwhelemed with life, so this desk is basically a representation of my brain. Try sorting that out. 
Then we had Olivia's birthday, she's officially 17 now. We spent the day hanging out on Lake Superior in a couple of spots and it was such a nice day. Windy as hell, but the lake was so pretty. 
Matt also had a birthday, and he got a matching tattoo to mine. I got my Dory way back in 2017 as a representation of my AFE and just general struggle but survival, too. Matt got Marlin because Marlin always finds Dory, is always helping her through life no matter how hard it is. He's just a really great husband, and no matter what happens in life, I know he has my back. He's always there to help me and I'm never floating out there alone and lost. I love it, but I love him, too. He's pretty great. <3 

That's a solid round up of life right now. It's busy, it's messy, and we're doing it.