Sunday, March 24, 2013

So I thought heart palpitations would be fun.

First of all, I'm totally kidding about this title.  I've just got a sick, sarcastic sense of humor.  Forgive me for that.  It's just the title I came up with when I started thinking about this post.

Ok, so anyway.......get cozy.  This one's going to be long, but I wanted to share what happened to me this past week.

Several years ago I complained to my ob/gyn at my annual check up about having some fluid retention trouble.  My rings were tight & my lower calves were perpetually puffy.  Of course, we discussed drinking more water and exercising, but she said that some people, who are otherwise healthy, just have a fluid retention issue.  (My blood is tested every year---my heart is healthy.  I have no obvious signs of any kidney or liver troubles.  My blood pressure is perfect.  Circulation doesn't seem to be an issue.)  So in the end, she prescribed me a very low-dose water pill (diuretic).  It was 25 mg of hydrochlorothiazide (aka HCTZ).  It looks like this.

I took 1 of these pills daily for a number of years.  It worked well.  But over the past few years, I've adopted a bit of a healthier lifestyle--eating better, exercising more, drinking more water--so I'd begun to notice that I was (ahem...) relieving myself a LOT every day.  I tried to do without the HCTZ, thinking I just didn't need it anymore, but alas, after a few days without it, I would notice the fluid retention again.  When I saw my doctor in the Fall, I asked her about reducing my dosage.  I knew I still needed a little help but felt like I could get by on a lower dose.  She agreed that I should drop down to a 12.5 mg tablet for my new dose.  It looks like this.

Umm, yeah...they look pretty much idential.  The pill manufacturer of the 2nd pic is different, but other than that, they look basically the same.  Still pinkish-peach in color, still a tiny pill about the same size, still scored on one side.

When I filled the prescription for the smaller (12.5 mg) dose in the Fall, the cost was way higher than usual.  But since it was the first time I'd filled a prescription in that fiscal year, I figured it was the deductible that made it so much pricier.  I didn't question the pharmacy people & just paid it.

Fast forward to mid-February when I went back to refill the prescription.  The pharmacy tech rang up my medicine & the cost was $47.00.  I just about croaked.  Our money is way tighter now than it was back in the Fall, so this time I questioned her.  I pointed out that these pills have never cost more than $5-10 in the past.  Why were they so pricey now??  She said that this manufacturer is crazy.  The lower dose pills cost WAY more than the higher dose pills.  Call me crazy but if they can use LESS of the drug to make a pill, shouldn't it cost LESS?  The pharmacy lady agreed that it was nuts!  I asked if she could give me the 25 mg pills (what I'd been taking until the fall) and let me just break them in half every day.  She readily agreed & fixed it.  When she rang it up, it was $1.69!  Holy inflated medical costs, batman!  {Yes, I'm totally serious.  Giving me half as many pills at a higher dose cost me $45 less!!}


The week before Spring Break, I decided that since I am not a fan of medicine at all (if I can avoid it), I wanted to cut the pills into quarters & see if I could still get the same benefit with less of the medicine.  After all, if I could do that, it would make the medicine last longer and I could feel better about taking even less.  I filled my little weekly pill box with tiny little pieces of the pills and went ahead with taking them that week.  By Thursday or Friday, though, I realized that I was retaining fluid and I needed to just go back to the regular dose.  Since I fill a little pill box thingie (yes, like the ones old people use) a week at a time, I determined that when I refilled for the following week, I'd just go back to the regular dose then.

So last Sunday morning, 3/17/13, I took the first full pill again.  By late that afternoon, I noticed a few little palpitations.  I could feel my heartbeat up in my throat.  It wasn't painful, but it was just enough of an odd feeling to make me recognize it each time it happened.  I've had that happen a time or two over the years, but nothing ever came of it.  I assumed the same this time & just sort of blew it off.  I don't think I even mentioned it to my family because it was such a non-issue in my mind.

On Monday morning, 3/18/13, I woke up & before I finished breakfast, I noticed a couple palpitations again.  I thought it was odd that I was still feeling them the next day, but again dismissed it.  For a few seconds, I was a tad nervous to work out that morning because I was a little afraid that maybe I had some sort of problem and my family would find me dead in the living room floor still holding my hand weights that night.  But I went ahead & worked out anyway.  I didn't feel the palpitations while I was exercising and only felt them occasionally throughout the day.  They were very infrequent and mild, but I felt them off and on all day long.  By late that evening, I was getting a little nervous and began googling 'causes of palpitations', 'heart disease symptoms' and ya know...'death from palpitations'.  Nothing on the lists of possible causes fit me in the least.  Ultimately every place I found online said that palpitations are not usually a cause for concern and if you're healthy you should just sort of try to ignore them because worrying can make them worse.  Hmmm...

Tuesday morning, 3/19/13, the first thing I was aware of when the alarm went off was a very strong, powerful palpitation.  It alarmed me.  Throughout the day, I felt them almost constantly.  They were hitting every 10-30 seconds ALL DAY LONG and growing stronger.  I couldn't imagine WHY it was happening or how to make it stop.  I only see my og/gyn annually.  I am very rarely sick enough to need a doctor.  So when my 'regular' doctor retired a few months ago, I haven't made a priority of finding a new one.  And with no regular doctor to call on, I spent most of the day trying to ignore them, but growing more concerned by the hour.  So I did what every smart girl does these days.  I went to Facebook & private messaged a girlfriend who is a nurse! (Love ya, Karen!!!)

I described my symptoms & medical history briefly to her and asked if my changing the dose on my medicine might be the cause.  She said YES!  She told me I'd very likely dehydrated my body of sodium & potassium and my electrolyte imbalance had caused the palpitations.  Apparently that is a very common cause of palpitations!  She advised me to go get some Powerade & drink up!  With that advice, I high-tailed it to CVS & bought several and began chugging.  Sure enough, by morning I was feeling pretty good with far fewer palpitations.

After taking my morning medicine and drinking half of a Powerade with my breakfast on Wednesday morning, 3/20/13, it hit me!  I had not gone back to my normal dose on Sunday!  I had gone back to taking a FULL PILL.  My correct dose is HALF a pill!  So overnight, I went from taking a teeny 6mg to FOUR TIMES THAT MUCH.  And I was on my 4th day of taking that incorrect dose when I discovered the boo-boo!  I laughed at myself, but then realized that my palpitations would take a while longer to stop since I'd already taken a FULL pill again that day!  I was forcing my body to flush out massive amounts of electrolytes over & over.  (and boy was I ahem...flushing them out!)  Sigh!  When I told my nurse friend, she laughed with me at my mistake.  I think her words were "Well no wonder you are so out of whack!"

Thursday 3/21/13 and Friday 3/22/13, I was very tired.  I slept all night, then after taking the kids to school, I came home to crawl back into bed & sleep for another 45 minutes or so before I had to get up & get ready for work.  In the afternoons I'd doze a bit more.  I continued drinking Powerade throughout the week, feeling like I had to be careful to continue replenishing all the sodium & potassium I'd flushed out for four days while taking the messed up dosage of medicine.  On both Thursday & Friday, I continued to feel some palpitations.  Even though they were slowly decreasing, I was soooo ready for them to STOP!  I was a little nervous to do much at all, for fear my heart might explode!  Saturday 3/23/13, things were greatly improved with only a tiny handful of palpitations that only hit late in the evening after a full day without any!

And today, Sunday 3/24/13, one week after the whole ordeal began, I've finally had a full day palpitation-free!

Friends, I share this very crazy personal boo-boo to tell you this.  Don't toy with your medicine dosages without talking to your doctor.  Even if the medicine is something simple like a water pill!  What seemed like a "no big deal" dosage adjustment to me gave me a week of cardiac fears.

I am so grateful for good health!  I am overweight, but I am blessed with a strong immune system, good cardiac health, decent vision, good hearing (well, unless you ask my husband) and strong arms and legs.  Although I having digestive issues (IBS) and an aging body, I am so thankful to have the ability to continue doing things to improve all the time!  Exercising, eating well, drinking tons of water and trying to continue to learn better habits all the time are important!

Be careful with your meds, friends.  A week of palpitations is not nearly as fun as it sounds.  :)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

How to clean your microwave and your top loading washing machine (with pictures!)

Today, I tackled 2 Pinterest-inspired cleaning projects that I've hoped to tackle for a while now!  I just needed a day at home to do it!  In addition to a LOT of other projects today, I cleaned and sanitized my top-loading washing machine and the inside of my microwave with some tips I learned on Pinterest.  I wanted to share the details and pictures.

First, the microwave.  It's a little simpler and only requires 3 pictures to explain the process.

Here's the before picture.  Grody!

On Pinterest, I had read a post about heating a cup of vinegar to loosen up the dried on food inside.  It sounded like a great way to do this little project.  You could just swipe out the yucky stuff afterward.  But when quite a few people commented that it had somehow destroyed the inner workings of their microwave, I decided against that!  Some other commenters recommended just heating a cup of WATER and basically steaming the inside of the microwave.  So, a cup of water it is!  And it worked!

One cup of water, heated for 2 minutes produces steam and boils the water.  When I took it out of the microwave, I moved the glass spinning plate thingie to the sink and poured about 1/2 of the water over it to sit and soak while I scrubbed the microwave.  It didn't take a whole lot of elbow grease.  Everything wiped right off!  And then I went back and wiped the glass plate thingie clean, too.  Again, very little elbow grease required---it just wiped off!

Back into the microwave with the glass thing and voila...clean microwave!  Easy peasy!!

I actually did the microwave project while in the midst of the next project because there are several times when you have to sit and wait, so it provided plenty of time to do the microwave.

Here's how to clean your top loading washing machine.  I also found this link on Pinterest and pinned it.  But just like so many other cleaning projects, that's about as far as it went.  A few weeks ago, a friend posted on Facebook that she did it and it worked!  So I was inspired to give it a shot.  The trick, for me, was to find a time when my washer/dryer was not in use and I had all the supplies!  It took a little time to get it all in order, but I finally pulled it off today.

First you have to gather these supplies:  1 qt of bleach, 1 qt of vinegar, a scrubber sponge and a towel/rag.  Oh, and one big dirty washing machine!

It's really pretty simple.  Fill the machine with HOT water and add in the bleach.  Let it agitate for 1 minute, then open the lid and let it soak for about an hour.  (I was a little impatient, so mine only sat for 45 minutes before I was ready to get onto the next step!)  At the end of the hour, close the lid and let it run through the wash, rinse, spin cycles.

Immediately fill it again with HOT water and add in the vinegar.  Let it agitate for 1 minute, then open the lid and let it soak for an hour.  (again, I only let it do this for about 45 minutes!)  During the soaking time, dip your scrubber sponge in the hot vinegar/water and detail the machine inside and out.  This was a little tricky because if you close the lid to reach the knobs and top of the lid, the machine tries to start running.  Don't let it run!  You'll have to hold it up a little bit so that it doesn't make contact with the mechanism that starts the machine.  While you're detailing, don't forget the agitator itself, bleach or fabric softener dispensers, the knobs, hinges, the inside of the lid and the top surface.  I also put a rag over my finger and swiped around the top of the drum where water gets slung during the wash cycle.  I was shocked to see how much crud was floating in the water as I cleaned, then re-dipped the sponge for fresh water over and over.  Gag!!

In the end, I am glad I did it!!  The website where I saw the instructions said you should clean and sanitize the inside of your machine at least twice a year.  I can see how it would be beneficial to do so.  Mine definitely needed it!

And now for the pictures! 

First, the outside/top of the machine.  Before--

And after--notice how shiny it is!!

Inside the lid/opened before--

And after--

The agitator before...ewww!  Soap scum & gunk!

And after--much better!!'s a nasty one.  Are you ready?
Looking down into the top of the agitator, there is a thing where you're supposed to put fabric softener.  I've NEVER used it because I use vinegar in a Downy ball.  I guess it just collects the funky stuff that is tossed around inside the machine while in use.


Lid hinge before

And after

Looking into the drum while it was soaking in the vinegar/water mixture.  Do you see the crud floating?  And the shade of the water?  Not exactly clear & sparkling, huh?

Check out the yucky stuff behind the lid.  Eww!

And after!

Check out the knobs sparkly clean!  Note the 2nd picture.  There is no duct tape residue from (cough, cough...) 2006.  You can see it in the "before" pics above.  I know, it's shameful how long that gunk was on my machine!  When we built on our master bath and laundry room, we had to put the machine in storage for a month or so and duct taped the cords to the top just to keep them from hanging on the floor.  That tape stuff has been on my machine ever since!

One final look down inside the clean drum!

I think both projects were a big success!!
One thing I'd note, however:  when you clean your washing machine, wear gloves.  Those scrubber sponges, combined with the very hot water, combined with the bleach & vinegar just about ate the tips off my fingers today!

Friday, March 15, 2013

It's Friday.  Wait, let me re-phrase that.
SPRING BREAK IS ALMOST OVER!  (Re-read that in a real whiney voice & you'll get the idea of how it was meant.)

The week has flown by!  I know summer is close, but I would love to have a few more days of Spring Break.

The first several days I was up until 1-2 am every night.  I was reading or writing or a combination of the two ( counts as reading and writing!)  I stayed in bed until 9-10 am most mornings.

Each day, we fed a couple of friends' pets and really enjoyed it.

We hung out with a friends' kids while she went to the doctor.

The kids stayed up late watching movies.

The kids went to Grandma's house one night and Larry & I took advantage of the evening & went on a date.

Today I got up early(ier than the rest of the week) and ran a couple of errands before babysitting a couple sweet boys for most of the day.  I went grocery shopping this evening.

I'm on the look out (yes, already) for my next job.  I'm not actively turning in applications or sending out resumes, but I'm starting to listen for news about job openings here & there because I will have to make a switch this summer.  And really, summer will be here before we know it!!

Life is good.

See ya next year, Spring Break!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Year of Dates: March

Tonight, Larry and I went on our March date for our Year of Dates. 

This month's date was a Restaurant Crawl.  That is kind of like a progressive dinner for all the Southern Baptists out there.  (Hush...I grew up in a Southern Baptist church.  I know our love language is food.  ha ha!)  We shared an appetizer at Applebee's, then walked next door to share an entree at Olive Garden, then drove to Andy's for dessert.  Since we were on a budget, we didn't spend more than $10 at any of the three places!  In fact, at Olive Garden some sneaky friends paid for our meal!!  THANK YOU friends!!

Here's the envelope and card for this month's date.

When we got to Applebee's, there was a short wait.  Larry checked in with the name "Raul".  I cracked up when he told me what he'd done.  So from that point forward, Raul and I started planning what his name would be at Olive Garden.

Me and my date, Raul, while we waited for our table at Applebee's.

When we walked into Olive Garden, I was giggling pretty hard because of all the name options we had discussed on the walk over.  I just knew they'd never believe any name he gave them if I was laughing so much, so I thought I'd slip into the bathroom while he checked us in, then come out after I stopped giggling.  As it turns out, a friend who works there was at the front desk so I figured he wouldn't give a fake name.  After all, she'd know it was a fake name.  So I approached the desk with him, but she walked off at the last second, so when they asked him for his name, he said it was Alowishus. (or however you spell that!)  The lady asked him if he could spell it.  He replied "Yes."  If you know my crazy husband, you know he can't spell worth a darn, so to ask HIM to spell Alowishus is pretty funny.  The girl tried to spell it & he just nodded his approval.  But then he broke into the Paul Simon song (just speaking the lyrics, not singing) and said she could call him Al.  I was biting through my cheek and I'm pretty sure there were tears welling up because I was trying not to roll in the floor laughing.  Gosh I love this crazy man!

(If you're too young or don't remember the Paul Simon song, you can hear it here:

Clearly, you can't leave Alowishus alone at the Olive Garden table for too long or he starts playing.  I almost spewed Dr. Pepper out my nose when I looked up and saw this.

So of course, it was then his goal to make me laugh harder and louder.  Let's just say he accomplished his goal.  I love this looneytoon!  He doesn't care if he embarrasses himself if it makes me laugh.  This next one is my favorite.

Did you know you can build your own pizza at Olive Garden?  We had pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms & tomatoes, but couldn't finish it all because we knew there we had 1 more stop to make!  After all, you've gotta save room for frozen custard!

Our last stop of the evening was at Andy's.  Yummy!  I had a banana coconut concrete.  Larry had a root beer float.

Wow my tummy's full.
.....and so is my heart!