Wednesday, February 19, 2014

On Being a Diseased Leper

Have you ever had a total "why me" moment?

Some of my earliest memories consist of having rashes on my legs. I used to get them in wide patches on my inner thighs, inner knees, and the backs of my knees. They were called "heat" rashes for a long time until eczema became known. Eventually, those rashes went away (and by eventually, I mean it took about ten years) but then I started getting what I called "nerve" rashes on my fingertips and knuckles of all things. As an adult, I still get rashes and my doctor now calls them "stress-induced eczema". If you're not getting the picture here, I've been plagued with freaking rashes nearly my entire life. I had one on my knee for about five years before I was prescribed with a cream that actually worked. Now I have rashes on the outside of each of my ankles that two different prescription creams haven't been able to cure. They look lovely on the beach with my flip flops. Please, hear the sarcasm here.

And now, I have a skin condition that reminds me very much of the time when I had chicken pox as a kid but without the fever and it lasts longer. It began about four weeks ago with this weird patch that I got on my abdomen. It coincidentally coincided with a juice cleanse that I tortured myself with (and one that I'll never be trying again). The side effects of this cleanse included "skin eruptions". I had no idea what that meant, but I figured they meant zits and pimples. When I got this patch, I was like, geez! Talk about a skin eruption. It's about the size of a quarter and actually looks like a healing burn mark. Then about two weeks after that, I started getting red bumps on my abdomen. Some itched, some didn't, but I'm so used to having some skin condition or another, I didn't really think too much about it. Then, a few spots turned into many and I wondered if we had picked up bedbugs on our romantic evening away. I did some Googling and didn't see any signs in or around my bed that would indicate bed bugs, but my spots were multiplying overnight. Finally, I broke down and called the hospital on Hurlburt Field to make an appointment. They couldn't get me in for over a week, but something was better than nothing. 

This past Saturday, the amount of spots was becoming alarming and the itching was driving me nuts. So, I put on my big girl panties and went to the urgent care here in town. The doctor took one look at me and told me that I have Pityriasis Rosea. He said I was a textbook case. That patch I had gotten several weeks before? It's called a "herald" patch and basically announces that you have this condition. Go figure. I still have to keep my appointment at the base because the doctor told me that this could also be latent syphilis, lmao. If I had syphilis to the point where I was getting skin lesions, I'd be a goner, lol. I'm not worried. But my blood pressure was also high, no big surprise there. He gave me a nice prescription for antihistamines which kind of works and it's also a mild anti-anxiety which I have seen no evidence of so far. This is such a low-dose prescription, that I have NO side effects of drowsiness and the itching is barely under control. 

I look like a freaking diseased leper and I'm generally feeling very sorry for myself. Why am I constantly plagued with some sort of itchy skin condition? Why did this have to happen right when the weather is warming up? Luckily, I only have a few spots on my lower arms (so far) so I can wear t-shirts and no spots on legs yet (knock on wood) so I can wear shorts and capris. But my wardrobe is limited to a couple t-shirts out of my own closet and a few t-shirts out of the Mister's closet. Other than that, I can't wear any other tops that show any of my chest whatsoever. In the meantime, my spots are still increasing noticeably on a daily basis. When I saw them in the mirror yesterday, I bawled for about an hour. There are two positives about this: 1) It isn't contagious and 2) It doesn't generally spread to the face or neck. I have to be careful of scratching so that I don't give myself an infection on top of this condition but the itching is unbelievable. Goody for me, I get to keep myself distracted with the mountains of homework that I have. 

Sorry. Sarcasm, mild hysteria, anxiety, general nastiness, and self-pity have become my norm of late. It's also nice that what is hopefully the peak of this condition is coinciding with PMS. You really should count yourself lucky you're reading this long distance. OH!! And I found out yesterday that Tricare is refusing to pay for my visit to the urgent care. I haven't been to see any doctor for over a year and the one time that I force myself to go, Tricare won't pay for it. Nice.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Big Announcement!!

Friends and family, please take the time to read.

This is quite possibly the biggest news I have ever put on my blog. ::Deep breath::

The Mister is taking the early retirement option and will be retiring from the Marine Corps this year. The paperwork was officially approved today and this a "no going back" decision. He will go on terminal leave towards the end of July. Terminal leave is when you take the leave you have on the books added with travel and job hunting leave. He'll still be active duty until September, but won't be actively working for the Marine Corps starting in July.

A lot of factors went into making this decision. A lot of soul searching. A lot of discussion. A lot of time. Hindsight is, as they say, 20/20 and if the Mister and I are completely honest, he should not have opted to reenlist clear back in 2006. We have been dissatisfied with the military life for quite some time. Did you know...The Mister is 36 years old (he'll be 37 this year.) He's been married for 18 years this May and will have a daughter old enough to enlist in the military herself this July. AND, he has to ask permission to buy a motorcycle. Or to travel to New Orleans over a weekend. We are simply, too old for this anymore. When you add in the current political climate here in the U.S., early retirement is, by far, the best decision that we could make. He will have his Master's degree before he officially retires and he has tons of experience behind him for job hunting. Basically, he's taking retirement while there's still any retirement from the military to be had. With our government downsizing the military, the Marine Corps will be significantly decreased over the next couple of years, there's a good chance he would have been forced to leave the military anyway. A better than good chance. Frankly, we don't like what we're seeing on the horizon and we certainly don't like the changes that have been made to the military overall that we have seen over the past almost 17 years. I'm trying not to get too political here, but it's really hard, lol.

I'll end this by saying that I hope the people that we care about most will support us in this decision and if you cannot, we didn't like you all that much anyway. ;) (I wink, but I'm not really joking.)

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Leon Ain't Got Nothing On Us

(Please forgive the poor grammar in the title ;))

The palm tree in our front yard covered in ice. And say hello to our OSU lawn gnome, lol.

I have to laugh at the extreme irony that the first named storm we had to deal with since moving to Florida was a winter storm. I mean, seriously?!?!

Leon brought our part of Florida a sheet of ice over the roadways and especially the bridges. You need to understand the amount of bridges around here. Like I said in my other post, the Mister crosses four just to get to work. During the course of the storm, every major bridge in the three counties of northwest Florida closed. The bridge that leads to the main gate of NAS Pensacola (where the Mister works) was closed. At one point, the only way he could have gotten to work was either by air or boat.

Something else you need to understand is that Florida isn't equipped to deal with winter weather. At all. Northern states have machines that salt and sand the roads. We had to wait for the ice to melt. I even saw on the news, workers who were chipping away at the ice covered bridges with shovels. I also think that it's ironic that whenever northern states experience widespread power failures that Florida sends up power trucks to help out. Where were salt truck to help us out?

My girls had three days off of school and the Mister had two and a half days off of work. And you know what? I really enjoyed having my family home while not being able to go anywhere. We didn't lose power, unlike the almost 50,000 other people in our area who did, and our pantry was full. It was nice being home, warm, fed, and together for those days. For the Mister, it was like free days of leave. However, Florida doesn't build inclement weather days into the school year so they have to make them up. Our county has applied to not have to make up those days, but so far and until and unless that gets approved, they are taking two days off of their Spring Break. We had planned on taking a family vacation during that time and now we don't know what we're going to do.

Overall, we made out pretty good during Leon's wrath. Some of the plants in the backyard are probably going to have to be pulled up in the Spring, but I've seen a lot more plant damage in my neighbors' yards. I didn't cover any of the shrubs or bushes up. What can I say? This is a rental and I think the shrubs in this yard are ugly, lol.

Did Leon visit your town? How did you fair?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Crazy Winter Weather

Much of the U.S. has been experiencing the wildest weather this winter. I've seen on Facebook many postings my my friends and family in Ohio about their kids not having school. One friend posted that her kids only had one day of school out of an entire week due to the weather. I also saw that Ohio's governor is saying how they need to add more school days for the schools this year.

It's been pretty crazy here in Florida too. This being our first winter here, we didn't really know what to expect. I was guessing that it would be colder than San Diego but warmer than New Bern, N.C. So far, we've been having a lot of "colder than average" days. The arctic blast that most of the country experienced affected us too. We had subfreezing temperatures and I'm pretty sure my poor hibiscus aren't going to survive the winter. I tried protecting them by putting them in the garage and then in the driveway, but they weren't getting enough sun in the front yard. That, combined with the cold-ass temps has really hurt them.

Today, we are getting ready for yet another dose of winter weather. Winter weather advisories were posted yesterday and now we have a winter weather watch. The weather "authorities" keep changing their minds about how much snow/sleet/freezing rain we're supposed to get, where, and when we're getting it. As a result, schools have been cancelled for both Tuesday and Wednesday. For an Ohio native as well as a person who has survived several harsh Vermont winters, that's pretty insane to me. Right now, it's a mild 63 degrees outside. Is that not craziness? I always chuckle when warm weather places panic over a little winter weather. I distinctly remember driving my girls to school in Vermont when we already had lots of inches on snow on the ground and it was snowing so hard on the way to school that I could barely see to get us there. If I hadn't had 4 wheel drive, they would've missed school that day. The only time I can remember them cancelling school in Vermont for weather was when it was due to cold temperatures and not because of snow. I also remember when New Bern got a dusting of snow. You could still see the grass and roads under the snow and it closed down the entire city. Schools, government offices, everything, lmao.

Pensacola Three Mile Bridge
However, even the jaded me is keeping a close eye on this storm. Why? Because if we get as much ice as they're forecasting, it's a pretty good bet we'll be losing power. Hardly any of the trees down here lose their leaves in the winter. The gigantic trees in my front and back yards are still very leafy. Add ice to leafy trees, and you have broken limbs and downed power lines. They're saying we could get as much as 3/4" of ice. I also worry about the Mister because he has to drive over four bridges between our house and his base. Bridges are especially dangerous in winter weather. One bridge is three miles long. I've been hearing on the interwebs that they might actually close this bridge so it might be a moot point.

On the up side, I'm hoping that the bad road conditions hold off long enough so that we can drive to the beach if and when it snows. I've always wanted to see snow at the beach. I know. How dumb. But I've always thought that it would be neat and unique. We've also laid in a supply of wood in case we do lose power and we just went to the commissary so we have a full pantry and lots of tp. From what I've been hearing on the interwebs, the stores are all out of milk, bread, and tp. And we have a cabinet full of liquor. There's more than one way to stay warm, heheh.

What's the weather been like in your neck of the woods this winter? Crazy, normal, mild?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Romantic Recharge

On Friday, Jan 17, the Mister surprised me with an overnight trip away from the kids, the pets, and the house. Do you ever have those times when you just need a break. A break from homework, cleaning the house, cooking dinner, feeding the pets, just EVERYTHING. I was having one of those times. It wasn't any one thing. The kids have been doing relatively okay and the pets are fine as is the house. But it was just the everyday minutia of the cats running around the house like monkeys and having to nag the kids to do their homework and having to figure out dinner every single day that was wearing me down. Because I have a wonderful husband, he listened to me bitch about it and planned an overnight trip just for the two of us.

Sandestin Village of Baytowne Wharf

He booked a terrific hotel at Miramar Beach, FL. He made dinner reservations at this fancy French restaurant. He planned it so that we could go out afterward for drinks and not have to worry about getting back to our hotel room.

The hotel was located in this village-type resort area that had several properties with accomodations and even streets with regular houses and town houses. It's hard to describe because I've never seen anything like it before. Our room was HUGE! with gigantic windows overlooking the courtyard/pool area (not that we could take advantage of the pool in winter). You walk out the lobby of the hotel and the restaurant was just around the corner.

We ate at the Bistro Bijous. I had the filet mignon which was so perfect that it was fork tender and melted in my mouth. Then I had the bread pudding with goat cheese ice cream for dessert. Goat cheese ice cream was pretty exotic for me but it was yummy. The presentation was so pretty it was almost a shame to eat it. The Mister had duck. Neither one of us had ever had duck before and it wasn't that bad. He also had a Russian coffee for dessert that was 99% Russian and 1% coffee.

After dinner, we walked across the way to Rum Runners which is a dueling piano bar. I had never been to such a thing but it was a lot of fun. The pianist was hilarious. Coincidentally, he told his audience that he attended the University of Michigan and it was on after that with the Mister. He heckled the piano player and requested he play "Hang on Sloopy", which is an Ohio song and he refused to do it replying by playing a few bars of Michigan's fight song. It was so funny.

Saturday, we spent the day recuperating from a night of overindulgence. Kinda made me feel old, lol, but it was so totally worth it.

I can't believe that the Mister managed to plan everything, tell the girls about it since they would be spending their first night alone, and keep it all a secret. It was the best surprise and I truly have the best husband and the best friend ever.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Making Changes...Making Improvements

 We breathe, therefore we live, therefore we evolve. Right? Oh. And we're open-minded which also allows for change.

Today marks the first day of graduate school for me. It's also the first day of the Mister's next to last semester in graduate school. I also made a hair color change. It's also a Monday and raining like cats and dogs. Just thought I'd throw that in there.

Today, I had to take a 200 question assessment of my IT skills. I had 1 hour and 20 minutes to take the assessment and I needed a 90 to test out of the first three "sessions" or weeks of my class. The test came with a disclaimer that it is hard and even IT professionals have a hard time scoring a 90. Needless to say, I didn't. I didn't expect to. Some of the questions were about things I had never even heard of. Some of them were statistical-type questions that I couldn't even begin to guess the answers. So, I have to partake in the first three weeks of class. I have to say, I'm not that disappointed. After all, I paid for an entire semester and I also paid for the book. Skipping three weeks might be easier, but I wouldn't have gotten a refund for those weeks. Anyway, the test gave me a pretty good reality check into the differences between an underdrad and graduate class. I can't remember ever having such an extensive test the very first day of any of my other classes. I'm taking a total of seven credits this spring semester; two full classes and a one credit, required "introductory-type" class. Blah blah.

So, back to the title of changes.

With both the Mister and my classes starting today, we've decided to implement a new homework routine. Out of the four of us, the Youngest child is the only one with good homework habits. The Mister and I both leave everything for the last minute and the Oldest a whole other story. This means that we all need a more structured and stringent homework routine. Like it or not.

Lastly, I colored my hair yesterday. I remember saying when I was an ignorant teenager, that I would grow old gracefully. The reality is, I am unable to embrace gray hair. I only have a few, but they're stupid and grow right where my hair meets me forehead and where I part my hair. So, they stick up and an old lady palm tree. I usually just pull them out but I figure this is only a short term solution unless I'd rather be bald at some point. I decided to color my hair to cover up my troupe of grays and I went with a darker color. Naturally, my hair is a mousy yuck color between true blonde and true brunette. I nudged my color fully into the brunette camp. I have to say that I am very pleased with this change. I like the darker color. Normally when I decided to color my hair, I go much lighter into the blonde arena. I like the brunette better. It's shiny and glossy and more natural looking than bottle-blonde.

Now, I have to go because it's homework time. Then I get to make dinner. Chicago dogs are on the menu. I figured we needed something fun to ease the pain of enforced homework time, lol.