7.30 2010

I know you don’t read my blog to hear about boring medical conditions, but…

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It’s been a little slow-going around here with furniture projects, as I’ve been in and out of doctors offices for the past month. As a nurse, I can’t not mention this if it helps even one person.

It still feels like a dream, but after a 10-15 year battle, I’ve learned that I have hemochromatosis, a condition where the body doesn’t know when to stop absorbing iron. Excess iron oxidizes and damages the organs, unless you know you have it, and then it is treatable.

Hemochromatosis is most common in people of Northern European decent. Obvious symptoms don’t usually occur until it’s too late; when the skin turns bronze and the heart and liver damage are extensive. But, there are early symptoms, which include fatique, depression, joint and abdominal pain. I had every one of them for the past 10+ years, but they were vague. Feeling generally icky became my new normal, and I pushed myself harder to prove it was all in my head. I’m also a happy go-getter inside an iron-overloaded body, so that prolonged my denial and my diagnosis. But, every year my inner voice would nudge me to try a new doctor, and I was easily convinced with each one that it was highly unlikely I had it, because that’s what I wanted to hear. So, I stuck my head back in the sand until the symptoms begged me to try a new one the next year. And the next.

My symptoms were the ones they heard day in and day out. The same tests were run over and over and over. Insanity. The only possibility they could come up with was hypothyroidism and anemia. Everything was normal, especially my impressive iron level. “You’re definitely not anemic!” is what I  heard when they called to give me the ‘good’ news. I now look back and wonder where these docs went to medical school. I looked healthy. Everything was normal, except for what they weren’t checking for; what I ASKED them to check, but they didn’t. Finally, I gave up.

I owe my diagnosis to my sweet friend, Karen, whom I shared all this with one evening. She urged me to try one more time. I was done trying, but she sent me texts until I made an appointment with her doc, who humored me, and ordered the tests I asked for. I cannot express how grateful I am for her. She is an angel to me.

Hemochromatosis is the most common genetic disorder, yet the most under-diagnosed. It shouldn’t be this way. I am petitioning health care providers to routinely screen for these simple lab tests that would help so many people – ferritin, total iron binding capacity, and transferrin saturation.

I hope to put this genetic condition on the map. And to encourage everyone that if your body is telling you something, there is a reason. And to keep at it until you find out what it is. I start treatment in a few days, which is to routinely take off a unit of blood. I can’t wait to be anemic.

I do not know the extent of the damage for me, since I have further testing to do, but a preliminary liver ultrasound came back abnormal. I trust the Lord with the outcome and with my life that He has perfectly planned. All I know is that I have a lot of reasons I need to get healthy and stick around…The Little Women, and of course, my Romeo, Kevin.

7.28 2010

Our Entryway

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Today I gave our entryway some attention. It’s a rather large space that I have been decorating for some time now.
I worked some magic on this antique chair:
With the paint sprayer, all it needed was 3 light coats that took all of 2 minutes each! I love that thing.
I rubbed through the black with my favorite tools ~ a razor blade, then 220 sandpaper. I know most people recommend 80 grit, but I don’t like the scratchy look it leaves. 220 grit doesn’t leave those scratchy marks, but it takes too long. Distressing with a razor blade is fast, then I like to smooth everything with a light sanding with 220. This especially works great along intricate edges.
I’m sure if you’ve rubbed through black, you’ve noticed that no matter which technique you use, the surrounding paint is dulled, and it looks like you’ve ruined all your hard work. Applying a clear coat takes care of that, as long as everything is nice and smooth after distressing.
The entry is getting there. On my to do list:
What I should do with the door?
How I can get my kid to put her toys away?
7.26 2010

How to Remove Tarnish from Silver Dishes

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3 Ag2S   +   2 Al   --/>   6 Ag   +   Al2S3
silver
sulfide
  aluminum   silver   aluminum
sulfide
 
These tarnished silver plated chaffing dishes and ice bucket are recent Goodwill finds. I thought they’d be good for holiday dinners that get cold too fast.
Years ago, some friends had us over for a nice dinner and used their real silver. I remember her saying something about polishing, aluminum foil, and her sink. I tucked it way back in my brain in case someday I’d need it. I called her today to get a refresher.
 Here’s what I did. 
Boil a big pot of water. 
Then add a bunch of baking soda and some salt once it’s boiling. 
How much? I don’t know. I’m not the measuring type.
Enough to get it real fizzy. 
Maybe a couple of cups of baking soda 
and some aggressive salt shaking.
Do it over your sink or you’ll have a mess. 
Ask me how I know.
 
Line your sink with aluminum foil and wrap your pieces in foil for good measure. Not everything has to be covered, just some places in order for the reaction to take place.
Poke holes in it so water can get “in.”
Dunk it in your hot water/baking soda/salt solution.
Add more hot water (I used tap) so that it’s fully immersed. 
 An electrochemical reaction will take place between silver sulfide and aluminum while in contact and immersed in this solution.
Kind of like the reaction used for batteries.
I’m a bit of a nerdy bird & tutored organic chemistry in college so I enjoy this stuff.
Then, after 5 minutes or more, carefully remove everything from the hot water with tongs, scrub down your silver with some soap and water and hopefully you’re done! 

If your pieces are really tarnished, you may have to reheat the water and repeat, or immerse your silver piece in boiling soda/salt water for 5 minutes. Finally, you may need to touch up some stubborn spots with silver polish. 
That stuff stinks, so I sure hope you don’t have to!
(Wear a mask if you do.)
7.23 2010

Our Heaven on Earth :: Coronado

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 We’re back from Coronado and had a fabulous time!
(Anyone agree that vacation is a great opportunity to know what your house smells like?)Some highlights:

Long morning jogs along Orange Avenue…
…and alongside the charming homes.
I loved this glazed red door.
^^^This was my favorite bungalo, overall^^^
^But I loved the timeless taupe, black, and white color scheme of this cutie.^
The girls lost all track of time at the beach everyday.
^They found lots of these.^
After a thorough cleaning, they are the newest addition to their Coronado bathroom.
We enjoyed our frugally-packed lunches on the Del’s deck everyday.
^And watched the Sea Gulls steal people’s $14 burgers^

Nope, they weren’t the least bit interested in our food.
Those sea gulls prefer the expensive stuff.

I managed to squeeze in some retail therapy.
It was nice to thrift in another state.
^I’ve seen these headboard/footboard benches on blogs everywhere, and have yet to make one.^
These topiaries were dreamy…
…and so were these burlap/frenchy pillows…I definitely need to dust off my sewing machine and get on the burlap bandwagon.
 I’ve seen a lot of book wreaths...but book…dresses?
I’ll give fifty bucks to someone who wears something like this to their office Christmas party.
With drink umbrellas instead of a bra.
 ^^^We had our dinners at fun, unique places^^^
^^^And enjoyed bike rides around the island ^^^
We had gelato everyday. 
Get it…CoroNado?
Can’t wait to go back!
Okay, okay. We had gelato twice a day.
So I quadrupled the sugar quota for five days, big deal.
Keepin’ it real, folks.
Needless to say, we were on a first-name basis with Nichelo (permission granted). He was liberal with the samples.
All in all, what we enjoyed most was slowing down and enjoying many simple moments together.
We are already looking forward to next year.
(And if you know anyone who rents a house or condo affordably by the week, will you hook me up?
7.18 2010

My Workspace

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Tomorrow, I’m getting the heck out of here. You’re lucky I didn’t use another word, because it’s 115 degrees!
Our family is headed to Coronado Island for five days, Woo HOOOOO!. We’ve been going every year since the girls were little, and last year my brother got married right there on the beach. Hotel Del is in my blood. My parents took me there, and now I take my kids there. But, we stay somewhere cheaper and drive the whoppin’ 3 minutes to the Del’s beach everyday. We also do a Disney trip every year and stay at the same place. The girls anticipate these traditions, and they enrich our lives.
But before I go, I thought I’d show you my workspace. In case you were wondering. Because unless you have a dedicated shop, it can be a challenge. I really wish I had a basement. But, they don’t really do those in Arizona, although they are starting to.
For now, and until Kevin can get a handle on the garage, my workspace is my patio. When the weather is nice, I love it. Right now, not so much.
This is where I do my spraying. I need to make an enclosed booth. Again, waiting for Kevin to help me with that.
^^^ Sometimes it gets pretty out of control. Chaotic, really ^^^
.
But, I usually manage to get it organized so that my creative mind is freed up.
For now, it works okay.