Sunday, January 24, 2016

Tu B'Shevat 5776


The holiday starts tonight, and ends tomorrow night. 'Tu' stands for 2 Hebrew letters that add up to 15. (Gematria is a numerology based on Hebrew letters. Certain meanings can be derived from it.) It falls on the 15th of the month of Shevat. (That's where the 'Tu' comes from.) 5776 is the year we're in on the Jewish calendar. It's also known as the New Year of the Trees. People celebrate it by eating fruits and nuts, planting trees, and having special seders. Seder lit. means 'order', but is also a special ritual meal. You go through symbolic foods/drinks in order. Many people are familiar with the Passover seder. For this one, you go through the seasons, try at least a certain amount of fruits/nuts from certain categories, drink at least 4 cups of wine (or juice, if you're like me), etc. Basically showing appreciation of nature.:iconheroamericaplz:This seder has its roots in Kabbalah and it's having a pretty recent revival. Many people refer to this holiday as the Jewish Arbor Day.

Started tapering down the prednisone last Thursday. I was feeling more and more antsy or jittery, and very sleepy. Sometimes at the same time. Which is a weird feeling. That's gotten a bit better since I went down a pill. My nausea is a lot better, and most of the time it doesn't pop up. I think it's mostly when I eat too fast, now. I still occasionally have joint pain. Not as bad as before, though. I still feel a strange pain in my chest. The same one since I started taking it. I don't think it's a really big thing, and maybe that will go down as I taper more off of it, too. It might have to do with my stomach. I don't know.:iconusaplz:They did say it can cause stomach pain, but I'm not used to this kind. I have felt a weird muscle pain. I'm not sure how to describe it.:iconhanatamagoplz:I thought one of the times it felt really bad, my upper right thigh was cramping up horribly. No amount of movement changed it. Lasted for a while. It didn't really have a 'piercing' sort of pain, like I would have with cramps. It felt deeper and like it was searing. I've been getting similar pain more often in my upper right arm. Not as intense. I usually notice it before going to bed. I've read that it might affect people's muscles. So, I guess I'll just have to see what happens over time. Also, as I went down a pill, I noticed that I'm getting more headaches. Took me a while to fall asleep last night, because it just wouldn't ease up.

My gastroenterologist wanted me to schedule an actual physical appointment with her for in a couple of weeks. I say physical, because all the appointments since the end of July have been over the phone. It's a trek to get over to that clinic. So, I thought I might try to make one for the beginning of next month, and called them. They said the closest available appointment would be in mid-March. She's apparently very popular.:iconseychelles-plz:It's quite a ways out, so they said they'd confer with her nurses to see if there could be a closer date. A couple hours later I got a voicemail from them. They said they made an appointment time for me on January 25th. At least a couple of things wrong with this.:iconinsultedplz:First, they made my appointment for me, and told me I had to confirm it. I wasn't sure if they threw out the other appointment I had made. They could have just suggested the date, or said call us back we might have a better time. Also, this would make it earlier than even my gastro wanted it to be. So, I called back. The person on the other end was very apologetic, and switched the appointment date to the same March one again. Not sure how my gastro's going to take it. She might be used to that sort of thing anyways. Especially with how popular she seems. 

I have a few things that I might want to bring up while I'm there. It might just be easier in person with some of it. I noticed for a while after I lost so much weight, that my abdomen/belly is going down at a slower rate than everything else. This scared me at first, knowing about Mom's abdominal tumor. I know it wasn't the same, but still scared me.:iconscaredplz:The sit-ups have been helping a bit. Another sign it's not what she had. I noticed about a week ago, that when I turn to the side and look in a mirror, my spine seems to do a weird 's' thing. (Or, something similar.) I never had problems with scoliosis as a kid. We were tested each year, and I was fine every time. But, right where I see the most 'belly' or thicker part, my spine seems to be a lot more concave. I'm actually getting partially defined abs, because of all the sit-ups. So, it was interesting to see. It almost seems like my spine is pushing that stuff out, and making it appear that I have more of a belly than I do. Finding this out at first, I thought it was very interesting, and almost reassuring in a way. But, once I thought about it more, it seems like it sounds a bit serious. I've heard that IBD can mess with your bones in general, possibly stripping away nutrients from it. They can become more brittle this way, too. Some meds for it can actually dissolve bone. So, this got me a bit more worried. I'll bring this up then. It might not be a big deal, but at least she might look into it.:icontinoplz: 

Another thing I want to bring up: do I really have Crohn's or do I have Ulcerative Colitis? Everything seems to point to Crohn's, including the colonoscopy/endoscopy. Except for that one IBD blood test that indicated I had UC. She told me that test can be inaccurate or produce false positives. So, I want to know for sure.:iconhongkongplz:I know that there can be Crohn's that just affects the colon, and UC only affects the colon. The only difference with these, really, is that one (Crohn's) affects more layers of it than the other. Also, Crohn's might be in more patches, rather than one section. If someone with UC has their colon taken out, they're a lot more likely to stay in remission for the rest of their lives. With Crohn's, it might travel, and slow the progression of the disease. This is at least what I've learned so far. According to the colonoscopy/endoscopy, my stomach and part of my duodenum were slightly affected as well. (Not nearly as much as my colon.) This would be more of an indicator of Crohn's. A lot of the treatments are the same, at least. I just would like a more definitive feel/answer for it. Might not get one, but I at least want to try and see. I might ask for a barium x-ray (I think) of my small intestines. Sometimes that helps with narrowing it down. They can't get to the small intestines with the colonoscopy/endoscopy. They can pretty much get to everywhere but that. Or, she may bring up that type of thing herself at the appointment. That might be partly why she wanted to see me in person, too.:iconpolandplz:So, I don't know. 

I finished figuring out descriptions for my nightmare anthology of short stories, Sweet Endless Terror. I realized I wanted to have more of the description down before I sent it off to be published. I'm actually getting pretty excited about it. Just the idea that I'm going to publish a 2nd book is pretty cool to me!:iconfrancisplz:It might take a while for it to be fully approved by both review phases. The first one doesn't take long, and it converts the book into multiple ebook formats. I think they dub it the 'meat grinder'. After it passes that, it's available through the Smashwords catalog. The second phase is manual and more in depth. After it's approved through that (it usually takes a couple of weeks for new books), it goes into their 'premium' catalog and gets distributed almost everywhere. Like I mentioned before, I'm thinking of having it as a pre-order first before it goes 'live'. They go through the review processes slightly differently, but you still have to be approved by both in the end. So, I'll see how that goes.  

For Shabbat, I did the same thing I did last time. I stayed off of electronics, and started/ended it on time. It still felt good.:iconthailandplz:Kind of refreshing in many ways. I read about a third of Sanctuary by Faye Kellerman, Friday night. It's a much thicker book than the last one I read from the series. I just started it that night. It's really good, and I didn't want to stop reading it, but I started to get really sleepy at a certain point.:iconswissplz:I like this one more than the last one, too. The killer's identity is a lot more hidden, and you don't know what they're thinking. With the last one, Day of Atonement, they kept going back and forth between the detectives/family's perspective, and the killer's/kidnapped kid's perspective. It was slightly annoying at times.:iconnorwayunimpressedplz:This one's a lot more straightforward, and it feels like there's more mystery this way. So far a wealthy family of 4 went missing. The mother and father had been found, and were killed and buried in the mountains close to home. The 2 sons are still missing. Something seemed off about the home, too. Another family, don't know if they are related with the current case, decided to stay with Peter and Rina. (Peter's the main detective in the series, and Rina's his wife. She occasionally helps out. Especially when it involves the orthodox Jewish community.) It was a mom and her 5 kids. They were trying to take a vacation away from the dad, since he was acting strangely. The dad was a diamond dealer. Same as the father in the current case. He was killed near his home, and stuffed in a locker. As soon as Peter heard about this the mom and kids disappeared. The car they had rented had stopped on a freeway, and had slashed tires. There was no one inside when Peter investigated. It's interesting that it might be related. I hope they're not dead, too.:iconraivisplz: 

It was also a special Shabbat called: Shabbat Shirah or Shabbat of Song. Both the Torah and Haftarah portions have songs in them. The Torah one looks really interesting in the actual scroll. It's stylized a bit more with wide spaces in between each line. This one's the song sung by the Israelites after crossing the Red Sea, and the Egyptians drowning in it. The Haftarah one has the Song of Deborah. Both of these are pretty violent. In the Passover seder, when we're going over the story, it's bittersweet when the Egyptians are defeated. Basically happy that we're free, but disturbed that anyone died. But, in this part of the Torah, there seemed to be no sorrowful response to it. Maybe the rabbis elaborated on it for the seder. Or, maybe that comes up later...:iconchibiswedenplz:The Deborah one was just very blunt. Some people observe Shabbat Shirah by singing more songs, and playing tambourines. 

Read and studied from the Guide for the Perplexed by Maimonides. Maimonides is always interesting, but the type with this book is really small. Might need a magnifying glass next time...:iconhongkong-wantsursoul:The first part was on the concept that we're made in the image of G-d. It's not that we physically look like him. I tend to refer to G-d as him, because I'm used to it. But, many refer to him as her, as well. Some have other pronouns. Just depends on how people want to refer to him. According to Maimonides, it's our intellect. We have the ability to create, think, study the world, etc. That's how we're alike. I've always liked that idea, too. 

Havdalah was a bit easier this time.:iconranranruuplz:Might be because I'm getting more used to doing it on my own. I'm noticing that the candle burns up pretty quickly. Not exactly surprising, considering it has multiple wicks. A bit sad, because I got it in Israel.:iconkikuplz:At least it's being used now. 

I started the 2nd season of Haikyuu on Friday. Interesting start so far. Also, the 2nd season of Ansatsu Kyoushitsu or Assassination Classroom started recently. It was really good during its first season. Started watching a brand new anime a couple of weeks ago called Divine Gate. It looks promising. A bit much all at once right now, though. (Kind of similar to Kekkai Sensen that way. They hit you with a bunch of things, and then you understand more as you go along.) Fairy Tail started a new arc called Fairy Tail Zero. It's about the beginning of the guild, Fairy Tail. I like the founder, Mavis, a lot. She's very intelligent, unique, positive, had a horrible childhood, believes in fairies, tends to not wear shoes, looks ethereal, tough, and more. She spent a good chunk of her life virtually alone, except for one friend, on in island. So far this arc has been interesting, too. The current Shogun arc in Gintama has been amazing!:iconchibispainplz:Really high quality, awesome fights, nice and short flashbacks, very touching, the humor is still there (although toned down a bit), lots of surprises, and more. It seems to be one of their best arcs so far. I think it'll end during the next episode. Should be interesting to see what happens with it afterwards.

Started a manga called 6 no Trigger, or Trigger of 6 on Monday. (Some translate it to 6 Trigger.) It has a very interesting concept behind it, but has been violent, too. Some of the violent ones can be good. As long as there's a reason behind it. This one's about an assassin, named Tsubame, who shares his body with 3 other people. They switch control of him by switching to different mechanical arms. His appearance changes with each one, too. One of them is a quiet little kid named Penguin, who has amazing sniper skills. Another one's named Washi, and he has a huge gattling gun crafted to his shoulder to mow down his enemies. And, the last one's a woman named Suzume who wields dual pistols. Tsubame prefers rifles and martial arts. Should be interesting to find out how Tsubame got that way. It's a relatively short manga, but should still be interesting. 

Started the manga, Asklepios on Friday. It seems interesting, too. An order has been sent out to hunt down the existence of an Asklepios, a Greek demon G-d of medicine, whom the Church believes is practicing unorthodox methods. Buzz is the head of a family of doctors (I think he's the last one), and the Church believes his family are those demons. So, he's gone into hiding, and has helped people silently along the way. Every time he helps people they sing his praises, and he immediately runs away. He thinks the Church is always out to get him, so he wants to keep a very low profile. He's terrified of the officers that are sent by them to the towns he's stayed at. He also refused to do surgery until someone showed up to protect him, and got shot. She wants him to become more visible, and boldly help as many people as he can. Apparently his family has interesting medical abilities. They can monitor people's vital signs just by looking at them. Buzz seems very skittish, but that's to be expected. This one also seems to be short. 

Also, went to a town hall meeting about the trees that were being torn done in the greenbelt behind us. It was more like a demonstration/q and a thing. A few charts displayed with people to explain, a huge layout of the roads for the neighborhood and area, many officials around those explaining things, and people asked them questions and voiced their concerns. Interesting to see the house blown up like it was, to have a better view of what's behind us, and to see what they plan to do. The mayor was there and talked a bit to us. She had similar concerns. She couldn't be apart of the project, because she lived within the area. But, she can relay concerns, suggest things, etc. now. They do plan to tear down all of the greenbelt behind us. There's going to be a straight long road behind it. The mayor said she'll suggest that they put a fence up on the side that faces the new road. Beyond that road, in the future, there's going to be a new development. They said it'll take a few years for the project to finish. A lot of people seemed concerned about it. Many thought it was inevitable, but still find something wrong with it. Some are concerned they'll end up being flooded. The wood piles that I thought they were going to burn last week, are being turned into mulch instead. That's a lot better for everyone. I wonder if they'd be giving some of it away to the neighborhood? There were also about 4 different kinds of cookies, and water bottles at the meeting. So, yay! Calm people down with cookies and water.:iconsleepygreeceplz: 

I got to playing my clarinet this past week, too. Felt good to get back to it. I'm getting closer to finishing the original character expression meme of Junko, from my first novel. Studied a couple more kanji and their compounds. Translated more of the You Maga article. This time it's about what parents should make for school lunches, if anything. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Kimi wa Dare wo Mamotte Iru (Strings Version)


Or: Who Are You Protecting. This is from the first Rurouni Kenshin OST. I featured the original version a while back. So, why not this one? There's also an acoustic version, electric guitar version, and a 'hard' version. The original and the strings versions seem the best to me. This is one of Kenshin's character themes. All of the different versions for this fits him really well. I finished the anime a while back. 

Started watching the 1st live-action movie version of Rurouni Kenshin today. I'm about a quarter of the way through, but it's already much better than I expected.:iconfrancisplz:(It's a little over 2 hours long. Didn't really want to sit through the whole thing at once.) It really does translate over to the 'real world' well. The fights have been a bit dramatic, like the anime, but well done. The actors have been spot on so far. The one who plays Kenshin would seem to have the toughest role. Considering he has a split personality. Also read that the actor that plays him did all of his own stunts. He has the vocal quirks down, too. Interesting considering the original voice actress that voiced him made him sound so unique. Not sure if I like the way Yahiko looks, but I've only seen him in one scene so far. Very briefly. They changed the plot a bit, too. But, that kind of thing makes it more interesting. Also, read that the original mangaka (manga creator) loved it. That's a good sign. The music is really good, too. The cinematography is gorgeous at times.:iconawwwplz:There are 2 more live-action movies for it. All of them seem to have good reviews. I might watch them slowly in order. 

I started prednisone last Thursday. I'm having some strange side effects, but nothing really big or life-threatening.:iconusaplz:Also, those side effects change depending on how long its been since I took the dose. Right away I feel sleepy. Then, a little while later, I feel like something really heavy is weighing down on my shoulders and chest. A little after that, I seem to have a semi-energy boost (not much...:iconkikuplz:), and a warm feeling. Then, I feel antsy and there's a weird pain in my chest. Sometimes I've felt very frustrated at that time. Then, I become relaxed and sleepy. It's a weird whirlwind of side effects. But, I have noticed that my joints seem to be feeling better. I'm not as nauseous, but that might be because of decreasing my azathioprine dose. I've decreased my balsalazide dose as well. Feels nicer just to take 1 dose a day now. 3 huge pills is better than the 6 a day. (Right after my colonoscopy, it was 9 of those huge pills a day...:iconwtfukplz:)

So far I've gotten 8 test results back from my blood draw. I don't really know how many there will be, or if these are all I'll get back. My sed rate is better than last time. It's 30 instead of 34. Sed rate shows how much inflammation there is, and can be indicative of remission. 0-22mm/hr is the normal range. My highest was 44 back at the end of June. I was slowly going down into normal range, and then it suddenly increased last time. Not by much, but it was the first time that it started to go back up. I'm glad it's on the decline, again. Really good sign.:iconranranruuplz:Hope it continues to go down. Had a test result for tuberculosis for the first time. It came back negative. That's a good thing. I think they have to test for it before you take prednisone. Everything else came back normal. Although, a few of the test results were the highest I've ever had before on, I think, the 'general panel'. They were the highest I've ever had them last time, too. They're just barely still within normal range. I'm a little nervous about that.:iconraivisplz:Especially considering that's not truly my norm for them. (My actual norm, where I hover around usually, might be different than the general population's norm.) I guess we'll just have to keep an eye on those. 

For Shabbat, I did 'unplug', and tried to start and end it on time. It was a really nice relaxing, yet refreshing, experience.:iconsleepygreeceplz:I was only a few minutes off with starting it, but it was still before sunset. A lot more 'on time' than I normally would do it. I finished it exactly on time. I got in as much time with my electronics beforehand, and cleaned up as much as I could, too. I don't normally get to cleaning the dining room table beforehand, so that was good. I was a little late with starting, since we were still at the grocery store. I think if the candles are lit within that 18 minute time period, it's pretty much still on time. That's 18 minutes before sunset. I also made sure my computer was off beforehand, my phone was somewhere away from me, put my mp3 player out of sight, etc. That I think helped a lot. It felt like a completely different atmosphere. 

I thought I would get bored without electronics during that time. So, I looked online to get some ideas for what to do beforehand. There were a few that got me a little more inspired about it. I already had some ideas, but it was good to see what others might do. I wrote a lot of ideas down, but interestingly I didn't get to everything. I, of course, wanted to do my own Friday night service, Saturday morning service, afternoon service, and a Havdalah service. I thought that would still leave quite a bit of time left. Put together, Shabbat is about 25 hours long. Friday night to Saturday night. I went over the Torah portion and Haftarah portion, like I wanted to, as well. Looked through my mom's Tehillim (Psalms) book. (Or, was my mom's. It's mine now, but I'm just getting used to that idea still.:icontinoplz:) It had the psalms categorized in the table of contents, and each weekday/Shabbat had a certain chunk of them designated for it. The categories were things like: for when you or someone you know are sick, weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, death, success, gratitude, etc. They also had prayers before and after you read them. It was very interesting.

I also read a lot of the book, Day of Atonement by Faye Kellerman. I was close to halfway through it before reading it on Shabbat. I finished it just a little after. Didn't know I'd get to reading so much of it.:iconberwaldplz:It was good, but at times, really graphic. There were no pics, but she writes so well, you can easily imagine those scenes. When I stopped reading it to go to bed Friday night, I had stopped at one of the most gruesome murder scenes. It kind of seeped into my dreams. Yay!:iconhanatamagoplz:This one had a bittersweet ending. They found the kidnapped kid, but the stuff that the killer made him do, made him go crazy. Or more like, made him feel like he didn't deserve to live. Didn't deserve to be loved by his family. So, he was alive, but he seemed an empty shell of who he used to be. He ended up caring more about his family, though. And, Peter Decker was welcomed into his biological family. He was struggling with it ever since it dawned on him that he finally met his biological mother. He didn't want anyone but her and Rina to know. His biological mom told his step siblings anyways. And, there was a touching scene at the airport just before Rina, him, and the kids were going to leave. All 5 of those new 'siblings' hugged him, sang, danced, cried, and called him brother. He wasn't expecting it, smiled, and started to get teary eyed. When he was a teenager, he always wanted to know about his biological family, and signed up for a national directory that had a list of adopted people that wanted to find their biological families. No one contacted him, so he grew bitter about it. Thinking they wouldn't be his real family anyways. The mom said that she didn't contact him, because she felt ashamed for what she was forced to do. But, she wanted to have some sort of relationship with him now. He felt sorry for her, but refused it up until close to the end. They're an orthodox Jewish family, too. So, quite different than the Baptist one he was raised in. All the books in the series have Jewish themes, which makes it really interesting. It's not a 'religious' series, but there's the cultural, customs, and traditional aspects that are thrown in. I guess the series is really a detective/mystery series with a Jewish twist.:iconseychelles-plz: 

Anyways, the next book I have of the series is called Sanctuary. It looks thicker than the one I just read. I'm missing 2 books in the series that were in between Day of Atonement, and Sanctuary. That's ok. It'll probably still be easy to dive into again. Also didn't have one book that was in between Sacred and Profane, and Day of Atonement. They apparently had the wedding in that one. But, at least in Day of Atonement they recapped that a bit. So, the next one's going to be about a rich orthodox Jewish family, and the father dealt in the jewelry business. One day, they all disappeared. Should be interesting. 

Also, took a nice walk. I'm going to try to get at least one in during each Shabbat. That also means I won't be bringing my mp3 player on those walks. I went with Dad this time, which was nice. If I take one by myself, then it still might be nice. I could focus more on the sounds around me, go slower (or at least a nice leisurely pace), go further if I wanted to (could do this part while walking with someone, too), several short ones, and more. After the main part of our walk, we went to see how much of the greenbelt was demolished behind us. They're apparently building a 2-way street back there. There will also be sidewalks and bike lanes, supposedly. It was a pretty thick greenbelt behind us, and stretched quite a ways on either side of the backyard. Now there's a huge hole halfway through where the trees once were. Like it suddenly just opened up. I don't know if they're actually going as far as the part of the greenbelt that's right behind the house. The farm and farmer's fence (I think) are still up. But, the house to the left of us, already has quite a bit of the greenbelt stripped away on their side. I've never seen it this way. There are huge piles of tree debris, too. They might be waiting for drier weather in order to set them on fire. That might not be good for the atmosphere, and might get into people's homes. Doesn't sound healthy.:iconnorwayunimpressedplz:I also don't like the idea that the animals we normally might see, might have been driven out of their homes.:iconohboyamericaplz:There was a large multi-generational family of raccoons living back in that area. Occasionally, they'd come through with their babies. Now, it's less likely we'll see them. I don't know if the coyotes (or wolves?) are leaving now, too. Although, they always sound so far away. It's just sad to see. 

I decided to eat in the dining room during Shabbat, too. I normally eat on the couch in the family room in front of the TV. Seems too tempting when you want to 'unplug' to sit over there to eat.:iconpolandplz:Also, Shabbat is supposed to be 'separate' or different. I also had tea with almost every meal. Used the kettle on the stove, rather than the microwave. The microwave is another electronic...So, I didn't use it. Almost everything I had during the day was either cold or room temperature. Except for the tea, and a few chicken sausage links for breakfast I cooked in a frying pan on the stove. It was actually nice. 

I also thought it'd be a good time to play games. Like card or board games. I decided to play some rounds of solitaire. Won 2 out of about 5 rounds...:iconlietplz:It used to be one of my fave games. Next time, I might ask if Dad wants to play a board game with me, and/or I can play some trivia games. When I do have my 'electronics', I feel I don't have time for those. But, I could go back to them, if I keep this up.

I think it was my 2nd or 3rd Havdalah done by myself. When Mom was around, we still didn't do it that often. Havdalah is the service/ritual that ends Shabbat. It's very short, but nice. I used the special Havdalah candle I got from Tzfat or Safed. This type of candle is braided, and has many wicks. Mine's a rainbow of colors. The shop where I got it at was really cool. They had huge sculptures made entirely of wax on display behind glass, they handmade the candles in front of the customers, had many different types, and more. It'd be cool to go back there someday. Mom made a 'spice box' herself out of a glass jar that's filled with all sorts of spices, and a metal lid with holes in it on top. Kind of like a short parmesan/red pepper shaker you might find at a pizza place, only with a variety of spices inside. On top of the lid, she added a piece of plastic wrap to go over the holes, and a big rubber band to keep it down. To keep it sealed up until the next time we use it, too. She also painted designs on it. It's really cool. Feels even more special this way, too.:iconchibihungaryplz:I used grape juice instead of wine. I can't drink alcohol, and they say grape juice is just as good for it. (Just has to be 'fruit of the vine'. Doesn't mean it has to be fermented.) It's kind of hard to have only one person doing it all.:iconhongkong-wantsursoul:The candle's held the entire time (occasionally raised up a bit), there's the custom of putting your other hand up to the candle to see the reflection on your fingernails (you don't have to, though), there's the blessings to follow along in the book, there's a part where you drink the 'wine' (so you have to hold the candle, drink, and say the blessing...), and then there's the spices you're supposed to smell (while, again, still holding the candle). But, I was able to do it! Yay!:dummy:I just forgot the beginning melodies for the first blessing.:paranoid:At least, I managed to say that one. 

I really do think I'll continue doing this for Shabbat. It felt really good. For some reason, even just the feeling of not looking at something electronic felt comforting or relaxing. Felt more focused, too. My eyes didn't feel as strained or tired by the end of the day. The only thing I did use that was really electronic was the stove's clock. I didn't use the timer part or anything, but I needed it to see what time it was...:iconwtfromanoplz:I don't have a working analog watch anymore. But, I know some people say if something was turned on before Shabbat and you don't mess with it, it's ok. So, I'm going with that. I didn't touch it during that time. I still think that's being 'unplugged', too. I think it might be healthy anyways to have a day set aside to be unplugged. Felt like I actually observed Shabbat. Definitely felt more of a connection with it. Similar to a connection or feeling that I haven't felt in a long time. Hard to describe. So, there was obviously a spiritual part of it, as well.:iconchibiswedenplz: 

Rosie kept following me around. I think she realized I wasn't doing my 'normal' stuff, and wondered what was going on. Wherever I went, she ended up guarding me really closely. I think she liked what I was doing, but again, seemed confused by it. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

National Milk Day!


This holiday was actually on Monday. Apparently, it marks the first day milk was delivered in bottles in 1878. I can't stand it by itself, but mixed with something like chocolate syrup, or in a recipe, it's amazing.:iconfeelingfullplz:I've heard some people say we don't need it, but you can use it in so many different ways. It can change its form, too. (Turn into cheese, butter, etc.) It might be one of the things some people take for granted. So, it makes sense that there'd be a holiday for it.

My IBD symptoms seem to have gotten worse lately. The joints in my hands are stiff and really painful. They started to especially worsen Monday night. I think my left elbow joint is starting to hurt, too. Tylenol only helps to take the edge off, doesn't actually take the pain away. So, at the moment, I don't really have anything to take for it. It's interesting that sometimes when I go to touch something, I get a weird spiky pain in my hand joints.:iconawkwardplz:Having a hard time really carrying things, too. Especially in the morning. 

I'm still nauseous at times, too. My stomach is starting to hurt more often in addition to it. Also, bruising more often. I find all these symptoms oddly interesting, though. 

I emailed my gastroenterologist during the weekend, and got a response yesterday. She also called me last night. She seemed concerned about all these symptoms. She said these symptoms suggest continued inflammation of the colon, despite increasing the azathioprine. The inflammation can travel to the joints, causing stiffness and pain. It was odd that I was getting close to 'normal' or 'remission' level with my sed rate, and then suddenly with the last blood test it started going back up. So, azathioprine helped for a bit, and then I guess it stopped soon after.:iconusaplz:So, she wants me to go down to 2 pills a day of the azathioprine, go down a dosage and stop when I'm done with my current prescription of balsalazide, and start taking prednisone tomorrow. The steroid might help with the inflammation, and with absorbing the azathioprine better. Also, she thinks the higher dose of azathioprine was the cause of my nausea and stomach pain. Prednisone sounds scary.:iconscaredplz:If I don't improve (or get worse than I am now) after taking it for a month and stopping, she wants me to switch to either remicade or humira. They're much stronger than azathioprine is. And, I might have to get injections with those. This is starting to scare me more, but we'll see what happens.:iconsighingplz:She's a bit worried about the weight loss, too.

I also thought I should probably attend an IBD support group. I feel kind of detached about it.:iconhanatamagoplz:Like it's not really happening to me, but I know I have to take care of it. I guess it's not complete denial...I also feel like no one would believe me if I brought up these symptoms, and yet that's never been the case. With this, most of the time, they've taken it very seriously. I also tend to have test results that indicate that things aren't 'normal' during those times. So, I have evidence that it's real. It might be nice to at least talk to more people that have it through a support group. My gastro said she'll ask her colleagues about a local one, and email me back the response. 

So, she ordered a bunch of blood tests that she wanted me to get done either today or tomorrow. I did it today. There were about 7 or so vials they had to fill up. 3 were of the largest vials, and a couple were of the smallest ones. Kind of a range, but a lot nonetheless.:iconlietplz:She said she can see if the increased dose of azathioprine was really the cause of my nausea and stomach pain. She probably wants another sed rate done. There will probably be another general panel one, too. She said she wants to do a variety of different ones to see how the inflammation is, see how I'm metabolizing certain things, how my nutrition is, and I think more to do with my liver. Some of that has to be done anyways just before I take prednisone. This time the lab tech was very quiet. I get a strange feeling, and have passed out before, if I focus too much on the blood draw. I need someone to talk to me or some sort of distraction, in order to avoid that sort of thing.:iconnataliaplz:I did manage to draw out some sort of conversation with him, though. Of course it was about IBD. The only thing I could think about, when someone is running tests for it.:iconwtfromanoplz:It took a while, too. At least the vein didn't roll, and he was able to find it. 

Afterwards, I picked up the prednisone at the clinic's pharmacy. Apparently I have to start off at a certain amount, and then start tapering it each week. So, she has me on 10mg pills, and I have to take 4 of those a day for a week. The next week will only be 3, and so on until I run out. I like that they gave me a little schedule sheet to keep track of how many I should take each day. It seems handy.:iconheroamericaplz:They said I have to take it in the morning with food. A common side effect is insomnia. It gives you a high energy boost for a little while, and then you crash. Some people think they're 'cured' during that boost. But, it's like a false hope on that. You could be a lot better while on it, though. It also is more likely to upset the stomach if not taken with food. You can have an irritated stomach even with the food. I already have nausea and stomach pain, so I'm not looking forward to it possibly being worse.:iconwtfukplz:The pharmacist was surprised I was prescribed this at first after I told her about the nausea and such, but when I brought up Crohn's, she immediately agreed with it. Saying the benefits will most likely far outweigh the risks. I could also be incredibly hungry and gain weight. But, I'll be on it for such a short time, it might not happen. For many people who experience side effects with it, they tend to go away pretty quickly after stopping it. At least that's what a lot of people say. So, if I do have any side effects, I'll go along with thinking they won't last after stopping it. That'll give me a little hope on that.:iconpolandplz:

I mentioned a while back that I'm interested in exploring modern orthodox Judaism, or at least becoming more observant than I have been. I decided to actually start this. At least, making some steps toward it. (Finally doing something about it, rather then just talk about it.) For this coming Shabbat, I'm going to try and 'unplug' or not use electronics, and start/end it on time. So, no iPhone, no TV, no computer, etc. If it starts before we usually eat, like it would now, I'll light the candles and such at that time, then eat at the usual time. Technically you're supposed to light the candles 18 minutes before sunset Friday night. With Havdalah, which ends it, it's about 50 minutes after sunset Saturday night. So, these are rather early this time of year. Which might be perfect for starting that. When Shabbat starts later, I could have dinner and then do the candles. I just want to see how it feels, too. It might be nice to unplug at a certain time of the week.:iconthailandplz:I might add more things slowly over time, we'll see. Depends on how this will go for a while. I might have my iPhone with me when I travel still for emergencies. Plus, I might let myself take a pic of something I haven't had before, but not mess with it until later. While waiting at a restaurant, I can just take a book out or something, instead of my phone. I've also started watching more of Chabad's videos on their iPhone app. They're not 'modern' orthodox, but will give me more insight, I suppose. (They are an orthodox movement and organization, though. Specifically, under the movement, Lubavitch Hasidism.) So far, a lot of it's been interesting. Many of it I knew already. Probably because Mom was very knowledgeable about Judaism as a whole, and because of the books I have as well. Should be interesting to see where this takes me.:la: 

I finished going over/editing my 2nd novel, Sweet Endless Terror, one last time. Then, I decided to fix a couple of things with my 1st novel, Alliance, reuploaded it to Smashwords, and changed the price to 'free'. It took only about a day and a half to go all the way through to getting back into the premium catalog. (There are 2 reviews it goes through. The 2nd one for a new book usually takes longer to get the ok from.) It was very quick. I'm going to publish my 2nd book next. I'll have it start off on pre-order for a few weeks, and then it will go 'live'. During the pre-order period, I'm going to have it cheaper than when it goes live. That might be an incentive for some people. I also decided to switch the price of the 1st novel to free for during the pre-order time period. (Or, technically, just before until the pre-order ends.) After that, it'll still be slightly cheaper than the second book. These books aren't connected, but it might give some a chance to read the first book beforehand. Kind of like people might discover it as well this way. Pre-order sounds really interesting. Once the pre-order period ends, the author gets all the sales during that time, at once. The readers get it right away, too. The only downside might be that Smashwords doesn't do pre-orders with their catalog, but they still can put it as a pre-order through 3 other online retailers. (I think, from what I've read.) I'll just have to direct people to those first. But, after the pre-order period, it'll go live almost instantly on Smashwords itself and at other online book retailers. It can't go on Amazon until you make $100 on that book. But, it'll pretty much go anywhere else. They keep adding new retailers from around the world, too. Libraries can buy them, as well. Should be exciting to see what happens with it.:eager:I think it's better written than the first, it's a bit more personal since the short stories are based on my recurring nightmares, and people might be more interested in horror. I'm thinking of rating it mature for violence, being graphic, psychological, etc. There's no sexual content. (Which is what I usually first think of when I see 'rated: mature'.) These are based on nightmares, so it might not be suitable for certain ages.

I finished watching the Japanese drama, Siren. It was very short, but really well done. There were some plot holes, but if you ignored them it was good. The fight scenes were a little awkward looking. It was really twisted, funny, sad, disturbing, complex, and the music fit. It kept you guessing until the very end. Other than the fight scenes, it was very well acted. Kind of like a wild, bumpy, and oddly satisfying ride. 

Also, finished reading the manga, Magico. It was really good.:iconfrancisplz:Seemed very unique, but the last few chapters also seemed rushed. The series could have gone on for a very long time. At least, they let us see the wedding and gave us a somewhat happy end. 

I recently started watching a drama called Yami no Basosha or Partner in Darkness. This one's also short, but very good and interesting so far. Has some actors I like, too. It's essentially about a killer mangaka (manga creator). He killed 4 girls (if I remember correctly) a long time ago. He decided to draw/write out one of his crimes into a manga. He left it in another mangaka's storeroom, and expected no one to find it. A secretary for the second mangaka was going through that storeroom a little after that mangaka died. When he found it, he asked an investigator to look into it. Especially because there were newspaper clippings about the murders mixed in with the manga. She's not familiar with the manga world, so she asked a manga editor to help her with the mystery. They want to know who the mangaka is, if he really did kill those girls, and what was his motive. They now suspect he has a continuation of the manga somewhere. They don't even know why he hid the manga there in the first place. Recently found out that the secretary was actually the little boy that the mangaka talked to in the manga. He saw him bury one of the bodies as a kid, and he had a fascination with killing things ever since. He wanted to be just like that mangaka. However, after the secretary finally found him, that mangaka didn't want a 'partner' and recently killed him. He might have killed many more people, but the only ones they know about were the ones that were reported missing, and/or their bodies were found. Only one of them wasn't found. This is getting better and better with each episode. I think I read that this was based on a manga, as well.