The month of Elul started on the 23rd. It's the last month before the High Holy Days. A custom during this time is to blow the shofar each morning. (Except on Shabbat, of course.) It's to awaken our souls to those holidays. I managed to remember to do it today. Yay! Also, got a long note out of it the first time trying to blow it. Usually, I'm not used to it, so it takes a few tries at first.
This also means Rosh Hashanah, our New Year, is coming up fast. I'm going to do what I've been doing for the last 2 years for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. That's going to online services. Even though I know I'm not on an immunosuppressant anymore, it seems nicer to me. I also don't have sit in a very crowded room. Oftentimes, it gets really warm with that many people. The synagogues I can 'visit' are gorgeous, too. They sometimes have stuff going on between those holidays. Not just the Shabbat services in between.
Dad and I were recently at a rally against hate, and some people I knew from one of the local congregations saw us. We chatted for a little while. I don't know why, but they seem to always try to encourage Dad to go to services. Funny, because she's not Jewish. I'm Jewish, and they don't seem as gung-ho with me. It's off-putting. I think one of them was surprised when Dad said she wasn't Jewish. It's not like she's hiding that.
They did ask me why I wasn't going to services. I was trying to be polite, and told them for a while it was because of the immunosuppressants, which was partially true. I know both congregations have new rabbis, and one of them basically had a huge overhaul to what they used to do. It's just...I don't particularly like most of the members of either. There are a handful I really like, but that's not really enough. The others try to mother me every time they see me. Or, talk about my mom. Or, think I'm a mini version of her. Many also were rather rude when they found out my Dad's trans. (Some just continued to be that way.) Some have tried to set me up in the past. Some have inquired when I'll find another boyfriend. They get gossipy and catty sometimes. That's not my cup of tea, and I'd rather go to services to pray, than have all that other stuff. Also, we're supposed to be against gossiping...It creates a weird and semi-hostile environment for me. I haven't felt that way at other synagogues I've visited. Maybe because they didn't have a history with me?
I had a gastro appointment last Monday. I wasn't able to get one with an MD, but the only one that was available was a PA or Physician's Assistant. She actually listened and gave me more options to relieve my symptoms.
She wanted me to go on Lialda. It's a very similar to balsalazide, which is an anti-inflammatory med. Balsalazide was really great at first, but soon stopped working. Often, people respond better to Lialda if the other one stopped working. She said she was very hesitant about prescribing a biologic, but if this doesn't work out, that's my last option. I don't have to take nearly as much as when I was taking balsa. It's just 2 huge pills a day, instead of 9 huge plastic capsules a day. (Had 3 three times a day, and felt like I was just filling up on plastic.) These look a lot like they're ibuprofen on steroids. The only side effect I've noticed so far has been a bit of heartburn.
She said in the future I may need to have surgery. I really don't want to, and told her that I'd like to try everything before that. She seemed surprised, but still talked about the possibility of surgery. She said they'd have to know whether I have Crohn's or UC in order to see what would work. I've read/been told that it's important to know which it is, in general. I told the specialist before about that, and she brushed me off. The PA did at first, telling me the treatment would be the same. However, she changed her tune about that. She's making sure to write IBD on my records now. That was what they said I was diagnosed with at first. Not specifically Crohn's or UC. I like that more if they don't know.
She wanted me to try the trazodone my primary prescribed. I was unsure about it. Mainly because it's considered an anti-depressant. I have gone through countless ones in the past. I have something that's been perfect for what I actually have. I didn't want it to mess with that, too. She told me it's a very light one, and hardly prescribed for that. It's mostly for sleep. So far, I think it's slightly working.
She wanted me to try peppermint oil pills. Didn't really elaborate on that much. Looked it up, and it's usually used for a variety of gastrointestinal stuff. Often, for nausea, abdominal pain, and heartburn. Sometimes for sleep. It wasn't available anywhere in town, but Amazon had a huge selection. It smells awesome! Not bad when taking it. The side effects so far have been burping a bit more, and burps tasting and smelling like mint.
I also got some blood tests done. All of them have come back normal, despite still feeling several symptoms. My sed rate was the lowest it has been so far. Sed rate is how fast red blood cells fall in a tube. The stickier they are, the more they clump up. Those drop the fastest. Those clumps are an indicator of high inflammation. The normal range is 0-20. My highest was 44. This last one was 18. A good number.
She wanted me to try going back to a fiber supplement, and miralax when I need it. I didn't want to, but am trying it again. I noticed Citrucel, which is what I used before, is normally full of sugar. So, I tried to get the sugar free one. When I got home, I looked at the ingredients more closely. It had aspertame as one of the main ingredients. Something I can't have. So, I returned it, and looked on Amazon for one. I noticed regular Benefiber was sugar free and aspertame free. I got it. First time I had it was in water. It was really nasty. The second time I tried it in hot chai. To my surprise, I couldn't taste it in that. Maybe the heat dissolved it more or something. At least, I know a better way to take it now.
She also thinks the low FODMAP diet would help me. It stands for: Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols. It's supposed to be a temporary diet, and is used for many gastrointestinal disorders/diseases. Main ones being IBS, IBD, and Celiac Disease. It's to help figure out trigger foods that make symptoms worse. Sounds great in theory. I'm not sure I'm ready for the diet yet. It's very restrictive, very small portions with some things (many people have issues with figuring out how to have enough calories for the day), elimination part lasts for 3-8 weeks (you take out the foods high in FODMAPs right away), and you have to add foods back in gradually after that. I think she mentioned I could do the main part for 4 weeks. It's also supposed to help give your gut a rest during that time. Many people feel much better during it. I could still have some of my favorite foods, at least.
I got a few other things from Amazon. One of those was pajamas. I was only down to one pair before. They were really old, winter-like heavy, and way too big. I could barely keep the pants up, and was swimming in the shirt. These new pajamas are amazing! They feel velvety, comfy, it fits me way better, and could probably be used in any season. The only issues I have with them is they're slightly too long in the sleeves and pants, and other parts of it are a little too big as well. I got it in 2 sizes smaller than my old PJs. Yay!
I also got a purse. My old one was about a decade old, discolored, full of holes, and one of the zipper 'pulls' fell off. It had corduroy-like fabric and was really durable. I loved it, but it was time. The new one has more pockets, I think it might be able to hold more in general, and looks nice. It has vinyl-like fabric. The old one used to be beige with a leather strap and zipper pulls. This one is coffee-colored, and has metal pulls, which would be better in the long run.
My new sneakers came today. They're Skecher's instead of Champions. I've never had Skecher's shoes before. I heard they were good, so why not? My old shoes weren't available in the same brand/type of shoe as a 7.5 regular anymore. They just had the wide version. I'm not wide anymore. I tried to find shoes that were a similar style and color. These ones are mainly navy with pink trim. The old ones were black with a lighter pink trim. Not that much different. These new ones have thicker soles, better tread, and are a lot more cushiony. At first, one shoe didn't feel good, but over time it has gotten better. Probably needs some breaking in. The only issue I have with them is the shoelaces are a little short. Although, maybe they'll be similar to my old shoes on that. Those laces seemed to grow (probably loosened) so much, I had to quadruple-tie them.
With one of the recent arcs I watched of One Piece, I can tell Luffy is definitely aro ace. I know the mangaka recently said it, but this cemented it even more for me. He was thrown by himself to an island called Amazon Lilly. Like the name, it's a country of Amazon women. Men were banned from entering the territory. Most of the women had never seen men before. They threw in both the legends of the Amazon women and Medusa for that arc. They always had snakes around them, and Boa Hancock or the Snake Princess (their leader) has the ability to turn people to stone. Specifically, people who are attracted to her romantically/sexually or who greatly admire her. She's considered very beautiful and most men seem to have a thing for her. I actually think she has a slight masculine look. I can't pinpoint what makes me think that, though. The only man who hasn't felt anything towards her and her powers don't work on him, has been Luffy. Even her citizens aren't immune to it. He didn't feel anything like that towards the other women, either. Never felt it towards the men they've met on their journey for that matter. Since he's uneffected and has gone up against a group that once enslaved her, she's fallen hard for him. It's kind of comical. She's helping him a great deal now. I have a feeling she'll become a member of his crew. She can't seem to stay away from him for very long. That'd be cool. She came off as a bitch at first, but I like her now. She already doesn't like the idea that there are 2 women in his crew. There needs to be more. With her, it'll be 3 women and 7 men. Slightly better.
I'm trying to be better about my writing this week. I essentially didn't write at all for roughly 3 weeks. Longest span of time between writing so far. That's not good. I'm trying to keep up with writing both the sequel to Alliance and the memoir each day. I've noticed my average page count has been 2-3 pages each. (4-6 altogether.) It's not bad, but I want to write more. The problem has been with my computer slowing down while I write. I probably would have done a lot more each day if it was up to speed. Honestly, I stop when I get too frustrated, do something in between, and write the other until I get frustrated again. If I had been writing during those 3 weeks and my computer was running smoothly, I might have either finished them or been close. I'm up to 145 pages altogether. (About 290, again altogether, in paperback.) That's a lot.
I've made it to writing the 'college' chapter in the memoir. This might be a long section, as well. The previous one was on school up to that point.
The sequel has had a huge twist recently. I'm even surprised that it popped up in my head. It's a huge turning point to say the least. Some questions have been answered with it, but it's brought a new crop of questions up.
I'm also going to try to practice my clarinet on a regular basis. Didn't do much of it at all this summer. I did it today, and didn't sound nearly as bad as I thought I would. It was fun to get back to.
I'm also trying to stick more to my normal 'diet'. For the last few days, I haven't cared. Always interesting to keep track of it with My Fitness Pal's app. I also want to be better about going to bed at a decent time. That way I can get up at a better time, and actually have more of a morning. Last night I went to bed at 9:30pm. I probably didn't actually fall asleep first until about 10:30pm. Still half-woke up every so often during the night. I fully woke up, naturally, at 7:30am. Not bad.
It was really warm today. About 90 degrees. So, I planned to practice my clarinet first thing in the morning, and write right after that. I normally get really warm when I practice. My 'break' between writing the stories was lunch time. I immediately turned off my computer after writing the last story. Helped with keeping it tolerable in my room for a while. It's going to be really warm off and on throughout the week. So, I might continue to do it this way for now.