Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kittens, Saints, and the Clueless....



I have not been much in the mood to write lately. Still sick, I only get reprieve when I take the prescription limodol, and that lasts for about 24 hours. So I am learning to take it if I am going to go out and about, or attempt to go have a meal out with someone. I don't take it while I am teaching as I don't want to become dependent upon it. I am on the "Pepto Dismal" regime that the doc ordered, but my gut suspicion is that I have a parasite or bacteria that was not in the "top 20" for testing, and will have to go through further testing for that.

Thanks to my friends who have written me about this and are encouraging me to follow up on more testing, which I will indeed insist upon. But that June 11 appointment with the gastro doc seems so far away when one is sick.

Enough of that until there are any updates. I am sick of living this life and talking about it.

Pictured here is a little kitten that Colette captured from its feral mother the other day. It is very friendly, even purred for a bit when held, is about 6 weeks old, not sure if male or female. It has a few fleas, so it has been given something for that from the vet's office, and may have worms...that has not been checked yet and we can't tell at this point. He/she IS however looking for a very kind home, and Colette is waiting to capture the other kitten, and then the mother to get her fixed before she is released into the wild again. (unless someone adopts her...) I have to say, Colette is on a mission to take care of these animals, and I am thinking that she should make it part of her legend in this life. There aren't enough people in the world who love and help animals....and those who do reach saint status in my book!

SO, if any of you locals need a sweet kitten, and will give it a kind and loving home, email me and we will talk.

Then there are those who should never have pets, like the neighbors with THE DOG. THE DOG, that every time we approach them they keep saying how they are waiting for him to die, and the reason why he was out for two days barking was that he was throwing up all over the house. "Did you ever think of taking him to the vet or crating him or putting him in one room?" I retort?Between the family of 5 that live there, I don't think there is one entire brain cell amongst them.

Case in point. Yesterday they come home. I could not tell from all of the screaming and yelling that went of for 20 minutes what happened, but if I were to construct a story, I think that THE DOG got an animal that was in the house (wild or domestic, don't know that) and made a mess of it. There must have been blood or something, as the mother was sitting in the car SCREAMING for the kid to get a box, clean it up, and put it outside. They are screaming BAD DOG at THE DOG, and the kid is yelling "if we keep it out here it is going to smell". Let me tell you, I smell anything dead, the health department is going to be called. But the ruckus and screaming and cursing that went on over 20 minutes from this was enough to make me want to move.

I still have not told the story how SHE came over the other day and knocked on my door to give me her last name. I had emailed the landlord one last time about the situation, and that I needed her last name to take her to court. He would not give it to me, but sent her over instead. By now I had already done my detective work and gotten it. She proceeded to use every excuse in the book, and I was not hearing it. I suppose I was a bit formidable, talked to her through the screen door, (I had just been horridly sick as was crawling back to bed when the doorbell rang) and for the second, and hopefully last time, ripped her a new one. She then said "well, I can't help that my kids let him out". I said, well, then you had better tell them to get a job to pay all the fines you will get when you have to keep showing up in court".

Door closed, case shut, and you know, I haven't seen or heard much of the dog.

I do have a nice 15' section of fence that my other neighbor has gifted us with. It will go up on the property line so that we don't have to see them in and out of the house, or sitting on their side porch. I can't stand it any more.

Tomorrow look for the article on introverts. Very insightful, and may explain why Larry and I, though we LOVE our house, could do without a neighborhood.

Hope you are having a delightful day!

Patti O Hermit

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Diagnosis


At just after 9 am I called the doctor's office. The nurse says some test that I had was negative, (did not even know what it was) and that the biopsies turned up colitis.

Blech. But, better than some other options, like a cancerous tumor. I must make it my focus to get well again and put this into remission.

In doing my obsessive research, I learned that I might have this the rest of my life. Causes: a whacked autoimmune system, or poor circulation in the colon (hmmm..do phleboliths and colitis have any connection?)OR bacteria/parasites. I was tested for the last, but I KNOW that they did not test for ALL of the bacteria/parasites on my last sample. They test for the top 20, and that is it. So in my head I still have not ruled out the possibility of having picked up something in my travels, whether it be in Spain or the ole US of A. Just something a little more exotic than the top 20. Blood circulation in my abdomen? I know that lower extremity circulation is not that great in some of the older folks in the family, but in the abdomen??? And my autoimmune system. Well, that throws me a curve ball.

I am going blame this ALL ON MY HORMONES! They have been the BANE of my life for the past several years, they are the cause!!!

So the doc sees me in two weeks. Says I can eat anything. I beg to differ. Even while living on juices, rice, soy yogurt, some tuna, and bananas in little amounts all day can make me sick, so the thought of a bottle of wine, a fat steak or chicken with potatoes and veggies, followed by a piece of cheesecake and a coffee is enough to give me a panic attack.

So, for the next few weeks, I am to take Pepto Bismal three times a day.

Again, I did my research on treatments for colitis, some of which include some pretty heavy duty drugs like steroids, and came across an article about Peptol Bismol being the best kept secret in the medical field for helping with colitis.

Well hot damn. Maybe this petite beautiful doctor from Saudia Arabia is letting me in on The Secret.

And, speaking of THE SECRET, the only thing I am envisioning and wishing for abundance for is good health. F-that nice necklace at Schneiders. Funny how things change one's perspective FAST.

But I did treat myself today with a haircut from Lois, and a few Aveda products. I am also having an ephemera fix with the box that I bought online, waiting for the day that I will get back into the studio to design. In the meantime I am reading about other artists and techniques. And resting.

Patti O Healer

ps...this was one of the cards that I got and used as an "advertisement" for my blog...might stick that on facebook cause I don't want to post this all there!! ACK!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Waiting Game




I called the doc's office as SOON as I got home to pester them about my results. Turns out the biopsies are in, but nurse can't give me results, the doc has to call me. I tell her that I am home ALL AFTERNOON and resting as I am still sick, and if they needed to reach me in the morning to call my cell as I will be at work. So what do they do? Call my cell, which I don't have on when I am home, and don't bother calling the home phone. This is the second time this has happened to me there and it has made me very cranky. Who knows HOW long the results have been in, and how long they would have taken to call me with them if I did not keep on top of it.

As it was, I should have probably gone to the hospital for hydration over the weekend as I suspect I was at a place that was getting a little bit dangerous. Then I run into a friend Monday, who says to me "Patti, I did not want to tell you this till you were better, but recently my friend's mother had a colonoscopy, felt horrid after it like you did, and died!".

Again - and I repeat in case you did not hear me the first time, YOU HAVE TO BE VIGILANT about your medical care. I worked in the medical field, and the squeaky demanding patients get the answers. I don't mean be rude or nasty, but being on top of their every move is extremely important. BELIEVE ME.

Tonight's photos is of one of the guardians of the garden, along with a gargoyle, a hedgehog, and I am looking to get an obelisk as part of the entourage. The seem to be doing a good job, as SO FAR the deer have stayed away, as well as the woodchuck. Maybe that noisy poop dog from next door had freaked him out. (someday I am gonna write that blog about "neighbors"....it will probably be saved as sublimation for a horrid PMS night). The other two garden pics are of my peas, bok choy, and swiss chard, all ready for the picking.

PATTI O

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Lessons I am Learning



It is too late to get into detail, but I have discovered some of the lessons that were to be learned from my illness. The main lesson is that I was deceiving myself by thinking I was living a healthy life. In some ways I was, as compared to many, but I was putting too many things into my body.

The doctor told me NO DAIRY for now, but I have also taken myself off gluten.

I had the energy to take myself shopping so that I can eat various things during the week at school and at home. It turns out my new diet is also very expensive, but you can't put a price on health, now can you?

I have also bought a juicer and made my first glass of organic fresh juiced greens, fruits, and veggies this afternoon. My intention is to start my day off with a glass rather than with coffee. Todays breakfast was an iced green tea with a strange little gluten free muffin, sweetened with --- of all things, VALENCIA ORANGES!So far that and my dinner of Artic Char, salad and grilled zuccini are staying quietly in my body. At least for now.

So I am off to get ready for bed and for my first day back to work in a week. I think now I can face the challenges of the students. There are going to be a lot of questions tomorrow....

Patti O Healing

PHOTOS: Salad I made with 3 kinds of lettuce, arugula, spinach, baby peas, cilantro and parsley, all laid out nicely in a bowl made by my friend, Rhinebeck artist KIP EGGERT. See also his spot on Martha Stewart! Kip can be found at the Rhinebeck Farmer's market on Sundays selling wine, flowers, and such. I bought the bowl for Larry one Xmas which has a place of honor on his desk, but I snuck it out for a photo shoot filled with dry clean salad for the blog. Sorry Larry.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ideling

Today was a S L O W day.

I slept terribly the night before. I could not sleep and had to meditate in bed before I could drift off into a semi-conscious state. Then not long into that state, the $^#^#^ neighbors dog is outside barking at 3 AM. I won't even go into the knock on the door by the neighbor who owns THE DOG the other day right after I had been sick. THAT is for another blog.

It was opening day at the Farmer's Market, so I went uptown to check it out and sit on the stone bench and talk to my friend Jonathan. It was torture as there was nothing that I could eat, and the only thing I bought was some potatoes to boil for a new meal.

I came home and then went to bed for a while. I was exhausted. I think I am still dehydrated. Headaches for a few days, and I am having weird spots/flashes in my vision. I have to get up slowly otherwise I have the spins and feel like I am going to black out. I have been eating bananas for potassium, and putting a bit of salt on my food, and had some honey to supply some sugar in my ginger tea. I hate Pedialite, and Gatorade is not much better.

I am back off to bed, as I am tired. I hope that the tuna I made and ate as a "new" food, sits well in my stomach. Tomorrow I am invited to a few parties, and I will drop by for a little while, carrying my applesauce, brown rice, and banana. Oh, and my water and ginger ale. No partying for this chica!!!!

Patti O



.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Notes from the Healing Chair





Since I don't have the stamina to work on my new painting, I spent a few moments wandering the yard and taking a few photos of various parts of my back gardens, working on them in Photoshop. It soothed my need to make art, and centered me for a while, as I have been pretty depressed about being sick.

One thing I discovered a LONG TIME AGO about the health care system, is you have to be your own advocate and bug the doctor. Last night after chicken broth and a small piece of grilled salmon, I became violently ill for 5 1/2 hours. It is wearing me out.

I called the gastroenterologist's office, saying "at what point do I check into a hospital?" I may have been over dramatic, but I was in so much pain and constantly in the bathroom that I thought there must be something that will help me till I get the results back. Sure enough, there are a few drugs to stop the spasms and the trots...that are not available over the counter. "We will call you as soon as the results are in" the nurse says. Which for me at this point, isn't soon enough.

So I have eaten 1/2 a banana today, and just tried 1/2 cup of brown rice about an hour ago. Trying to get in some water, and am ready for something to get rid of the persistent headache that is plaguing me.

I am going to nap. I did very little today....but that is what healing is about.
And I am grateful for my local and virtual friends who send me words of encouragement to keep me going. You all ROCK.

Patti O Napster

PS. The healing chair is a wicker chair and ottoman with 2 beautiful silk cushions that my girlfriend Lois bought for me to recover on when I broke my ankle and was an invalid for the summer. It has love and healing imbued in it. Its place of honor is on my screened in back porch.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Got the "Will I Ever Recover" Blues



The sun is shining, there is a smooth cool breeze easing into my room from under the partially open window. I hear the birds singing, and I am waiting for school to call to get directives on what to do with my classes today and tomorrow as I can't go back to work until Tuesday. I had myself a few little cries as I feel so horrid, and am depressed that I have no energy and sometimes wonder if I will ever get better.

I know it will, it did when I broke my ankle, but not before I had to deal with pain, solitude, a lot of lessons to be learned.

The procedure prep was brutal, probably compounded by the fact that I have been so sick for weeks. The procedure itself was fine. However, when I woke up...I was not aware that I would have severe abdominal pain, nor was I in any shape to see the high contrast vivid photographs of my colon, which showed a lot of blood and some other things which I could not decipher. They took a bunch of biopsies which made me bleed even more.

Larry took me home and played nurse the rest of the day. I still have very bad gas (they have to pump air into your intestines so they can see better) and am still not keeping anything in me for any length of time. And there is more, but I don't want to make people freak about colonoscopies. I am sure they are not bad when you aren't so sick.

I am off wheat, dairy, and trying to figure out what I can put into this fragile digestive system of mine. I am very tired and weak. Duh, no kidding....and have lost a good 5 lbs in the past several days. Part of that is departing with everything in my body, the other part is not being able to eat much.

So here is to a day of being gentle with myself, and doing only what I can do. Perhaps I will spend some of the 50.00 gift certificate from I Tunes that I got from Will for Xmas. I have already downloaded one of the Fleet Foxes Cd's, and want the other. Perhaps since I fixed my scanner I can also scan and sell some things as I need the money.

And be patient..in all senses of the word.

Patti O Recovery

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Last Supper #2


I made a mistake calling last night's dinner "The Last Supper" as I sip on tonight's dinner of clear broth soup from Kyoto.

After drinking 64 oz of 50% Gatorade and 50% water, with a 14 day supply of stool softener chemical thrown in, I am deeply honored by this humble and delicious mug of broth. I have fasted all day, and in four more hours, I will be consuming nothing but air for another 12 hours.

After doing a bit of research online about preparing for this procedure, and interviewing a few people who have undergone it, I came prepared. Tube of Zinc Oxide, baby wipes, several rolls of T.P. placed in each of the two bathrooms. Fortunately I was never far from one of the two bathrooms, so Depends were unnecessary, and my legs walk really fast when they need to. I learned not to wipe, rather blot, or do a little butt munch on the T.P. (TMI?)

Go ahead. You laugh. Wait till it's YOUR turn. Or maybe you already have done this and nod your head in agreement. I bet there are a few of you with your OWN stories about the prep.

My biggest fear right now is that they won't find a vein after all this fasting. They can't find it on a good day, it is harder when there is little left in one's body.

But I will be glad when it is over. I am just glad that I am not the doctor on the other end of the scope who does these for a living, and I hope that SOMETIME SOON I will be fixed. At least I know I will be one step closer. And a heck of a lot cleaner!

Patti O Potty
I managed to fix my scanner/iMac issue... here is a scan of one of my silly collages.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Last Supper

Being sick has had it's effects on me. Weekends I spend recovering from the fatigue and stress of the classroom and "running on empty". I often wake up in the middle of the night having to run to the bathroom, so even my sleep is compromised. I had to cancel my massage today as I feel horrid and can't be far from the loo.

Today I wrote on Facebook: home is where the bathroom is.

Indeed, how sadly true.

Tonight is the last supper. Larry stopped by Bistro-to-Go and picked up grilled eggplant, salmon, and couscous for the both of us for a mere 12.00. You could not MAKE IT for that!

After midnight tonight, when the food has already left me and is off to the next notch in the recycling chain, I cannot consume anything but clear fluids until the test is over with around 1 PM on wednesday. After all of this, I had BETTER fit into my smaller pants. It would be a nice gift the universe could give me along with an "at least there is no cancer" diagnosis.

I want answers, but the human body is often more complex than a straight forward, easily diagnosed problem. And then you toss the effects of the stress of everyday life, incorporate the mind/body connection, and throw in a little of this and a little of that, and you have one tossed salad. (Oh my..)

So off to take 2 more tablespoons of Milk of Magnesia which seems to be working far too well for my likes, its memories ring of childhood poop problems, and much nicer bottles to house it. It is far easier to drink out of a pretty cobalt blue glass bottle than a wimpy-ass blue plastic bottle.

Can you tell I am not having fun and the ride has only begun? And I have been in training for this for a month?

Patti O Mental Pause

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Taking it Slow

Underpainting of view of the Hudson from the Rhinecliff Bridge

Last night was a lovely date with Larry.

A ride over to Bard w/top down on a warm spring night, the sun dropping down behind the mountains. Me, shooting like a mad woman holding the camera high to the sky, trying to shoot over the rails of the bridge to capture the caress of light in the sky and on mountains and river as we glide 40 mph over a mile of water in my little silver transport machine.

There was a moment where I felt the pure joy that a dog must feel sticking it's head out the window.

Carmina Burana was splendid at the Fisher Center, a BARGAIN at 5.00 a ticket! It is a wonderful concert hall, a true architectural gem - right here in the Hudson Valley.

So today I had the painting bug and knew it was time to go back to the studio and start my 10,000 hours of painting. I have already put a few thousand in by now I am sure, but if I paint three hours a day for 8 years I will reach my 10,000 hours and I will be a great painter. But at the rate I am going, I hope I live to 100, as I am not moving at 1,000 hours a year yet.

But I laid out the gesso undercoat for an oil painting, primed a small study canvas, and did a pencil sketch on another large canvas. And it felt great. Today I gave up cleaning, gardening (0k put a little bit of time in) and a social life to lock myself up with my imagination and loads of inspiration!

More later as the work progresses.

Patti O Draft

Friday, May 15, 2009

Garden Bouquet of the week


It is late and I have had a full day.

This is the bouquet I picked from my garden tonight.
I have had bouquets of forsythia, and French white lilacs, parade through my house, but they are done now and it is time for the next round of flowers to present themselves.

Sadly, I missed the violets.

This week the garden presents me with lily of the valley and pink wild Columbine, and the azaelia is in bloom as well as my pink lilacs...just about ready to cut.

I am really paying attention to the garden and the cycles this year, and letting the plants dictate what I am going to do with them.

Till tomorrow,

Patti O Flower

Thursday, May 14, 2009

It's all BUNK

It is too late to write.

I spent an hour with my aunt on the phone, which has wiped me out emotionally. On a good day she is a challenge. On a bad day she is an ........energy depleter, save for the fact that I try and make her laugh, cause I don't think anyone else tries to do that.

I am struggling with the negative lab results which mean I have to now have a colonoscopy. Next week. Great. The last great orifice to be explored.

Some think it is my body processing trauma. Some think it is my gallbladder. Some say "lactose intolerance". I say WTF, I just want to be normal again!

I say it's all shit. Plain and simple.

Patti O feces

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Green Goddess


As I type, I am listening to Peter Gabriel's song DIGGING IN THE DIRT. The lyrics hit a chord that twists me heart a bit. (said with an Irish accent)

Something in me, dark and sticky
All the time its getting strong
No way of dealing with this feeling
Cant go on like this too long....

Digging in the dirt
Stay with me, I need support
I'm digging in the dirt
To find the places I got hurt
Open up the places I got hurt

The more I look, the more I find
As I close on in, I get so blind
I feel it in my head, I feel it in my toes
I feel it in my sex, that's the place it goes

I wonder if he's in therapy?

Yes I have been digging in the dirt, but to plant things to be worthy of the Green Goddess. Lettuce, arugula, spinach, cilantro, parsley, basil, rosemary, peas. I am awaiting the delivery of my tomato and pepper plants, and then the garden will be complete for now, until I get the next bed tilled and planted. Since I have been sick, I have had very little energy, but I want to get my nasturtiums planted---if I get up early enough tomorrow morning, perhaps I can stick those large caper sized seeds around the edges of my one bed before it rains. I envision the flowers tumbling over the edges of the raised beds, providing me with peppery flowers to compliment the arugula while giving a cheery boost of warm sunshiny color to offset the green.

I am addicted to Larry's homemade Green Goddess recipe. Here it is as I have promised...yumm

1- 1 1/4 cups mayo (can't help it - I am a Hellman's worshipper)
1/2 cup sour cream or sour 1/2 and 1/2
1 1/2 tbs. snipped fresh parsly
1/4 cup minced green onions with tops
2 tbsp lemon juice or tarragon or wine vinegar (I love lemon juice)
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt (optional and I used the organic salt/garlic/parsley mix)
dash ground pepper

I have a mini hand blender to whisk all together. Let sit and chill.....makes about 2 cups. Great on salad, great on spinach dusted green rice from the local Afghani restaurant, great with raw veggies.

YUMMM....digging in the dirt brings out the green goddess in me. Bring up the old gives birth to the new. It's all good.

patti o gardener

A mixed media collage I did a bit back titled "Food for Thought" about the bio engineering of our food.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tibet Through the Red Box


Just got in a bit ago from a long day of teaching, a brief nap, then a class on using the illustrated books of Peter Sis to teach art, history, and current events. The original illustrations for the book TIBET THROUGH THE RED BOX are being shown at the Woodstock Art Association and Museum, in Woodstock, NY, as well as the scrapbook and objects he made which inspired the book.

Peter's father saw Tibet just before the invasion by the Chinese, and the book tells the story of what Peter discovered about his fathers long mysterious absence in his father's diaries, which had been kept locked in a red box. There is much more to the story, but I will leave it to you to explore the site which includes a very moving documentary (but does take a special video player that I do not have on my computer yet).

His art is inspiring, his books beautiful humanistic stories about freedom, and personal and global history. I came away with many ideas for new ways to reach my students which may be more motivating and relevant to their lives - what is happening NOW vs. what happened 4,000 years ago.

Yes, it is still important for students to know how art and culture are intertwined, and how art developed, but perhaps it is time to rethink my curriculum to make it more current, more about personal growth, personal stories, and how each one of us is an agent for change.....

After class I met Larry for a bite to eat at Joshua's, which was on of the first restaurants I went to in Woodstock in the early 70's...when I escaped from the clutches of my controlling family and would pretend I was a hippie for a few days. I still order the same things, they bring back such sweet memories of my friend Susan and her family and friends. She is one of the few people I still stay in touch with, but don't see often enough.

Off to watch the remainder of Ladies in Lavender. Sweet movie. Turn on the heater on the bed, as it is still cool out, and settle in for an hour or so while Larry grades his Marist student's photo portfolios. From the sound of it, lots did not follow directions.

Patti O Student

Art is by Peter Sis, who incorporates symbols throughout his work, a few of them being mazes, maps, and mandalas. It was a download for kids to do, so I took the liberty of posting it here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My I-MAC has arrived!

I am keeping this blog short tonight as I am too busy trying to learn how to use my new/used I-MAC.

It was getting really old working on my laptop, which is fine for what it is, but I like a bigger screen, a bigger keyboard, and the ability to run all the programs I need.

I bought it from a really good friend, who had it LOADED with all of the Graphics Programs I could ever want. So much to learn, so little time.

I still have to figure out how to transfer all of my files onto the external hard drive that came with it, and how to get my I-Tunes up and running. I need to buy a USB hub as I need more than the three ports that are on it, but that is no biggie.
I don't think that the USB ports on the keyboard are good for much, or at least powerful enough for hard drives and card readers that I often have to use.

More tomorrow, as I have to get some sleep soon. Last night I was up from 2-4, and actually got up and did some work as there was no way I could get back to sleep.

Patti O Computer Geek

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fast Cars, Goddesses, and Pomegranate Necktar


Mother's Day is always a weird day for me. In the past there have been some bad things that happened on Mother's Day. There have been times where neither one of my kids called me, and I hate to say it, usually one out of two does something to really annoy me, and I bet you can guess which one.

Megan had sent me gifts and a card during the week, and called me first thing in the morning. She was up way earlier than I was, but it was fine, I woke up to talking to her and Alanna, and sipping on the coffee Larry brewed for me in bed.

As the day went on, I was feeling ill, so I went back to bed till 2 pm. I awoke to my son calling me to wish me Happy Mother's Day. He asked what we were doing, and I invited him to dinner. 6 PM. He then said "I had no money to buy you a gift" which is a line I have heard over and over. I bit my tongue to keep from saying," if you threw a few bucks in a tin a week for a few weeks, you could come up with enough to buy an 8.00 bouquet of tulips instead of buying beer, cigs, or whatever else you spend your money on". But I didn't say that, I just said: "I have come to not expect anything Will - see you at 6, unless plans change for you, then give me a call" 24 years old...he lives at my ex's parents house for free, we gave him a car....how many bills can he have???? And he works full time. Long story short, he never showed for dinner.

My son does not read this, as I doubt he has any interest in what I do. He may accuse me of the same. We do not have a great relationship; he holds grudges about our past, and about some of the things I had to do in order to keep him safe. Once my daughter and I were in a similar spot, but we have talked about and mended much of our past, and moved on. For that I am most grateful. But this open wound still makes me very uneasy, especially around the holidays when something always seems to explode. (for those of you who have lived with addicts, you know this all too well.)

Then there is the visit to my mother in the nursing home. Every Mother's Day there is less and less of her. Now she no longer gets out of bed. She cannot talk, so I do most of the communicating. I bring her tulips and a crucifix from a church in Valencia. I tell her about life, and spend time with her, even though my inner self is screaming to run out of there FAST. It is depressing to go there, people in wheel chairs in every kind of physical state, drooling, talking to themselves, even chasing after me. The smells get to me, as does the general depression in this place. Even though it is situated on the majestic banks of the Hudson River, the place looks like just another institution, just in a pretty setting.

In addition, my hormones are raging to boot, so I spent some time crying in the car on the way there.

How do I keep myself from jumping over the bridge that I so love? Today I put the top down, even though it was a bit cool and windy. The wind dries tears as soon as they form... I found a few straight a-ways that I drove 80 mph. I have a fast car, but being such an obedient citizen, I don't usually break the law. Today was an exception and I prayed that the Troopers were too busy spending the day with their mothers to notice. Plus I had put on my invisible suit..so I felt safe.

When I got home, Larry had made dinner. A beautiful fresh salad, my favorite pasta dish. Wine. He makes this every year for me, this man who isn't even the father of my children. He has presents...he always makes up for the lack of what I don't get from others....two large canvases to paint on, an LARGE bottle of PAMA, a Pomegranate Liquor. And last, but not least, a beautiful carved goddess, whom I have dubbed this Mother's Day as the Goddess of Elimination. I think she will go into the bathroom that is almost finished being remodeled. I love her. I joke about the advantage of being a little bit of a mama to my man.

I end this day full of good fresh organic food, and some nectar of the gods. I have bought joy to my mother's life by my visit, I have felt the wind in my hair and it is OK to feel the sting of salt in my eyes. I have the love of my children, even if they haven't figured out how to come to terms with it. And my husband. He is a gem....like some superhero, he always saves the day.

Patti O Mother

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Luggable Loo


Some things are better left unsaid.

Like yesterday's poo sampling.

Let it just be said that it was one of the more disgusting things I have had to deal with, and I have dealt with a lot of shit.

I dropped it off as promised, in a Victoria's Secret bag. I decided against going to Monkey Joe's as even thinking about a double espresso made my guts hurt.

It was not a good day. Spent a lot of the day in the bathroom, with several reprieves before it started up again. I had to take a nap on my desk at lunch, as I have not figured out how to get energy when my body is running on very little nutrition.

I called the doc to make sure they had all of my phone numbers. I asked them how long it would take for the lab results to come back. "Oh, depending upon the tests, a week to 10 days". "WHAT!" I shouted in the phone. "I'll be DEAD by then" I snorted. I don't think the receptionist quite knew what to do with that, and my students all looked up from their own private conversations to wonder what I was talking about. "Can't you have it stat-ed?" I asked. NOPE. It is what it is.

Photo today courtesy of Andrea who gave me a chuckle when I opened up my email this morning. Actually, it is looking like a pretty good idea. I might have to take the Honda though, as I don't think I want to carry it around in the VW.

The good part of the day? Working in the garden for a little bit when the sun came out, and having my friends drop by for a bit in the early evening, with libations to share with me.

Today is Richard's wake, and I have art in two places with the openings this afternoon. I will only make it to one, but if you are local, there is an opening at the WOODSTOCK SCHOOL OF ART from 3-5 where I am showing one of my paintings, (I will go to that one) and then at VARGA'S gallery from 6-8, but I don't think I will make that one. I hope to catch some variation of rice for dinner tonight....maybe the Afghani Restaurant.

Patti O Porta Potty

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Doctor Visit


OK, so here I will go again educating you. We have discussed endoscopys, endometrial biopsies, hysteroscopies, and now I am going to talk about the health of the colon. Please feel free to ask me questions at any time should you too someday have to go through any of these tests.

I met the nurse practitioner at my gastroenterologist's office. I liked her too. A bit older than I, very well versed and proceeded just the way I had in mind. I like the "lets go from simple to more complex/invasive route". I have been to too many other doctors who jump to the LET'S TAKE OUT THE ORGAN, before they even knew 100% what was up with it.

We decided on the stool sample. Now this is just a charmer of a test. When you do it on little babies or toddlers (for suspected lactose intolerance or parasite infection which can very easily be picked up at the beach or swimming..) they at least have a diaper to work with. All you need is that diaper full, a poopsicle stick, and the bottles. But when you are older, and not in Depends yet, it becomes a little bit difficult. Since the "poop" can't be fished out of the toilet as it can't touch water, you have to figure out a way to get it. The way I did it last time was to line the toilet with a layer of saran wrap or a garbage bag. I think I have those industrial bags under the kitchen sink, the giant ones that will go over the entire toilet. (wheels are turning right now)
Of course I will glove up, and probably take the sticks and tape a few together to make them longer. The further away I am from this lurid stuff the better. I am quite appalled that the human body can produce such noxious waste. Once I get it into the FIVE different bottles what will have my name on them in red Sharpie marker, (or maybe I will go lime green or teal) I have to transport them back to the lab.

The last time I had to do this, (the time I contracted Giardia with my girlfriend in Raleigh!)I packed them very nicely in a pretty shopping bag to return them to the lab. One of No.2's (hahaha) friends was there. "What's in the bag, Patti?" he queried. I shook it up a bit and with a nasty grin on my face, I said....."MY SHIT" He had a better sense of humor than #2, so we both got a good laugh. I am thinking that this time I will transport in a Victoria's Secret bag.

I will probably have to call in late to work tomorrow. I can't imagine having to do all of this and get the stuff to the lab and be on time, especially if I stop by Monkey Joes for a double shot of espresso to get me jump started. I am already in deep doo doo about setting off the fire alarm; I wonder what they will say if I have to tell them I am dropping off some shit on Broadway.

There are a few candidates for this horrid affliction...parasites, or worse than that, a bacterial infection, and the grisly C-Diff was mentioned, and considered, especially since my mother has had it for a long time in the nursing home--and it is highly contagious and difficult to "kill", thus many people who have been in a nursing home or hospital can contract it. I have proceeded to gross myself out...not easy to do, upon researching this baterial infection.

But let's not go there.....if all is clear, then I will get to report on one last procedure....a camera up the arse. Let's see, the only orifices left then for me will be my nose and my ears.....

Traveling around the body,
Ms Patti O ...who is off to wash her hands for the 10,000th time.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Laughter, the Best Medicine


It is funny how you get accustomed to your disabilities. I know I can't do certain things on or with my right ankle, and now I have learned how to navigate my life around how close the toilet is.

Today was a rough start. I could barely get out of bed. I felt really disconnected and spacey, and it took a long time for me to feel like I could function. At lunch time I debated whether or not I could make it up the road to buy a flat of plants and back to school without a disaster. I took a deep breath, and headed out. I got to the place and could not find any of the plants Ruben told me were there. I called his cell, and he told me to go down the stairs to the right of the place and that was where all the plants were.

I took the hike, but found nothing but broken machinery on one side, and a rock quarry on the other. WTF?

I go inside of the store and ask the woman where the peas are that my friend had bought there last week. She looks at me kind of odd, and says "ma'am, we just put our plants out today". "Where am I ?" I ask, and then find out that I have gone to the wrong place. DUH. I slink back to my car and realize I am really out of it.

I find the nursery, the RIGHT nursery, fill up a flat, and head back to school just in time for another trip to the bathroom. "WHAT HAPPENED?" Ruben asks. I fess up to my total space out. He laughs.

He feeds me lunch. Nice grilled potatoes and London Broil. Man, it tasted good. I was hungry. BUT an hour later, I have to run to the bathroom.

As I am leaving, one of the crisis workers comes running down the hall. "WHO WAS IN THAT BATHROOM?" he asks. "Me" I say in a quiet voice. "WHO DID YOU LET IN THERE?". "No one I murmur. "THEN WHY DID THE SMOKE ALARM GO OFF?" he queries. I flush a deep red. I tell him it's me. "WHAT, ARE YOU SMOKING IN THERE?" he asks? "No, JB. I umm..had to light a match". He cracks up, turns around and walks back down the hall.

The phone starts to ring in my room. It is Laurie, my supervisor's secretary. My assistant answers the phone, and says "I think you should talk to Patti about this". Again I am questioned as to who was in the bathroom, and again I have to retell the story. By now the entire school knows that Patti had to light a match in the bathroom, including the kids.

I managed to get in my peas, the Swiss chard, bok choy, and parsley as I know it is going to rain some more and it was the best time to plant, when the soil is moist and more rain coming.

Tomorrow I finally get to the doctor...to tell my stories of woe, and to ask to start the process with a test for parasites. No one else in Spain was sick with them, but then again, who else but me and my girlfriend gets parasites in the US in Raleigh, North Carolina, on one of my jaunts there several years ago. If there are parasites, I will find them. I am, as always, a most gracious host I suppose. Hmmm...

pattio O gardener

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Part Deux


I am a bit weepy. Perhaps it is because I am listening to such sad music, and I feel so poorly. Or maybe it sounds so sad because I am sad.

I made it through a day of work, but not without spending my early morning hours in the bathroom, as well as the remainder of the afternoon. I did not go to my workshop. Instead I had to go to bed. I am not sleeping, no food is staying for very long in my body. It is wearing me down, and who knows after yesterday's procedure how my hormones are reacting to the invasion of their home base.

A reader reassured me that I was not giving too much info, because as women, we need to be educated in order to make the best decisions about our bodies. Thank you my dear readers.

I have heard "hysterectomy" whispered by a few doctors I have talked to, and to me, that is far too invasive a procedure for an organ that does not have cancer. What I do have is hormones that are off the chart. I have suspected that for years, though it does, on occasion, have its merits. But at my age, I don't need such intense surges in my life, and they are creating more havoc than good. I am not ready to give up my uterus if there are other solutions to the problem. I have tried the natural hormone therapy; it did not work, so I am interested in the procedure called an endometrial ablation .

It is done outpatient, and is essentially an electrical current that destroys the built up lining of the uterus, and I can go back to work w/in a day or so, depending upon how I feel. So much better than having to traumatize the entire body with the removal of a major organ, no matter how tiny the bikini cut, or how they go about taking it out.

But I can't even THINK about that until I take care of my digestive issues. That has overshadowed everything. I suspect gall bladder..... at least that is what I feel deep down it is. Thursday's appointment can't come soon enough as it is affecting my life even more than my uterus. With so many in my family having either had problems or having had it removed, it looks like a good possibility.

It is hard as I am just not me any longer. I make it to work, and maybe can sit at the computer, but I find it impossible to have the energy to do the 10,000 things that I have and love to do.

And tomorrow's blog is about having to come to terms with accepting other's limitations and deciding who you can really count on in your life, what it is they can give and what they can't. Or maybe I shouldn't go there........

Patti O Poop

Image called Healing Hands which was a digital collage I did some time back. I make them as a print or a greeting card, and showed the piece last year in a show on cancer.

Monday, May 04, 2009

For Women Only - A Long One

I am so glad that today is over. It has been a long one; I made it through without a major breakdown, thought I do have to admit, I had a few mini melt downs.

Sometimes I wonder if what I write is TOO MUCH INFORMATION at times. But there are not enough people out there who talk about what it is like to go through peri-menopause, or what to do when the body is starting to break down, and how to go about the health care system in such a way that is honorable and the least invasive. We have to be our own best advocates and do a lot of research.

Some of you may not know this, but before I went back to school for my BS and MS in art education, I worked in the medical field for years. I got anesthesiologists and many surgeons their money because I knew how to bill insurance companies. I am fairly literate regarding medical terminology, coding, reading operative reports etc. I worked in the operating room of one of the local hospitals as a secretary for a while, scheduling surgery, while billing insurance companies.

I saw a lot. I learned a lot. I got really upset when I saw people go into the OR and never come out. Or depressed when I had to shake people down for money, sometimes people who had lost their loved ones or were battling with their own life threatening illnesses.

The insurance companies were pigs many times, though I have to give credit to the doctors I worked for. If I gave the facts straight...and gave them the picture of the desperateness of the situations, they often reduced the balances, or gracefully wrote them off.

Anyhoo...I have spent a lot of time "gathering" a group of doctors who are mainly women. You can go online through various websites and get ratings for most any doctor.

I chose my GYN due to the people in the office as Helen, my ex-neighbor, a mid wife and advocate of alternative medicine, worked there. She did my endometrial biopsy, and was a pro... Today's procedure, a hysteroscopy, was something she could not do. It more more invasive, and I have a problem with putting things in something that things should be coming out of. I called the office, told them of my fears, and Helen said she would be in there right along with the doctor to be there with me.

They gave me my 10 mg. of valium, but the situation was quite complicated by the fact that I have been very sick with......severe intestinal distress. I was crying this morning, after a week of running to the bathroom, and ended up taking 4 immodium trying to stop the trots. I took a few moments to breathe, and envision peace in my body. A few friends of mine had horror stories about this procedure, and I tried to envision it to be one of ease for me.

The doctor was such a kind woman..I had just met her for this procedure. She said she would not start till Helen came in....When Helen came in she held my hand and helped find my elusive cervix so that they could even START the procedure. Once done, they had to give it a local, which meant needles in it. The thought of it was much worse than the actual needle. Once done, they got the camera in and started exploring the world of my uterus. I had to look at the camera screen, as it was fascinating.

They have to lavage the uterus with saline so that the camera can see the interior. What an interesting world that was. I saw things floating around in it, and I asked what that was. "Cobwebs" Helen declared. "Got to keep using it Patti". I had a good chuckle, and kidding aside, it was just loose tissue (microscopic actually) that was floating about.

I will get into part II of this tomorrow...as it contains some important info about a procedure that is far less radical than a hysterectomy.

Oh, and my digestive problems that I have been dealing with for a year now? Probably my gall bladder. Have an emergency visit with my female gastro doc on thursday.

Hope I haven't bored or disgusted you. If you are over 60, you are probably glad that you are done with all of this, but then again, there are no guarantees. If you are my age, it may be quite informative. If you are younger, well, tis better to be informed for future reference.

Patti O Procedure

PS and thanks to my fabulous gentle husband who drove me there, would have come in had I wanted him there, and took me out for a bite to eat and came back to check on me in between jobs. You rock.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Reseach and the Urban Dictionary

It has been a long weekend. The only trip out of the house was to drop off art work at Varga's in Woodstock, and to buy paint for the bathroom. I was too scared to go far from home, as one the rumbling and grumbling starts in, I have to be close to a bathroom.

I did a lot of research today on my "condition". The last words the doc had for me about my stomach was something to the effect of my gallbladder not working well. They did the endoscopy, gave me meds that are working for now, but now terrible, just terrible things are happening to the other end of the digestive system. They match up with symptoms of a broken gall bladder. And come to think of it, this has been going on for a while now, only the ante keeps getting upped. I learned that you don't need gallstones or even sludge to have a bad gallbladder.

Of course there is a danger in self-diagnosing, but my gut (and it speaks loudly these days) is telling me that might indeed be the case. A PS to all of this, my aunt, grandmother, mother, and daughter have either had their gallbladders out or have confirmed issues with it. And it is hereditary.

So what is the upside to all of this? I spent some time cleaning my back room.(uh no, that is not a code word for what you are thinking) Though still not "clean", I can now see parts of the floor that I have not seen in a long time. I have also started listing more things on eBay and Etsy, and hopefully I will make some money to get my business back on track. Maryann at Beckon called me for more cards, and said that a nice young couple fell in love with my Ashokan painting series. There is hope.

And for a chuckle, I was looking up a few words online. One was the meaning of DORKEL, and I was checking to make sure that I was spelling WARRANTY correctly as that word was not showing up on my spell checks and it was highlighted...and I did find out that warranty is not spelled like guarantee (two e's) What I did get was links to the following on the Urban Dictionary. Imagine my surprise and laughter when I found the terms Dorkel Snorkel, and Extended Warantee. I will let you do the investigation..... as I will get in trouble if I post it here.

Have fun, and will let you know if EVERYTHING gains 10 lbs with a camera.

Patti O Research

Saturday, May 02, 2009

On Toilets and Screen Memories....


All that talk about the toilet the other night spurred on some nasty nasty bug to get even worse in my body yesterday. I have not been right all week, and it culminated with a day of feeling quite poorly at work, and then I started running to the bathroom.......I had to cancel out on going out dancing to Sonando with my work buddies in the late afternoon, and head straight to bed. I was so happy that Tom put the door back on my bathroom, as I too often locked myself in there, not caring what shape the seat was, or that there was grout dust and Spackle all over the walls; I was just grateful the bathroom was a few feet from my bed.

I am better today, though weak. I hope to be able to get out and do my banking, shipping, and go buy mulch, plants, and get some more gardening done. I need to replenish my electrolytes, and eat something to get some strength back as I don't have much left.

I am posting a blog I wrote the other night on my art blog Catskillpaper. My personal and my art life are intricately intertwined. At times it is hard to not write about my art on this blog, or about my personal life on my art blog. This perhaps gives you a glimpse into my art mind....which never sleeps.

Everything is Fodder...

It never ceases to amaze me that anything and everything becomes fodder for one's creativity, I find inspiration in the most unlikely of places.

Today I got a brilliant flash of inspiration after therapy.

I make no bones about it. I have been undergoing therapy for years. And at the age of 50 I found the most amazing therapist, who has allowed me to tell all, in a setting of utmost comfort. She is a wise woman, a sage, a genius, a guide.

I had a really messed up childhood and early adulthood.

I was lucky that I was smart and found a way out of what many would still be mired in.I have forgiven, and I don't have pity parties. But what I want to do is understand why I have done what I have done, and why I do some of the things that I do. In that quest I hope to be able to live my life to the fullest, and be the best human and spiritual being that I can be. I know I can overcome that mountain of dreck, and therapy, as well as art, helps me climb it.

I want to get a few bodies of works together ..... each one having a different function.

The landscapes/sky/air shots serve one purpose, and are more easily sold to the public than the other body of work that I want to show. A bank, for example, will want my landscapes. A gallery on the other hand, may be the venue for my deeper, more intellectual work. (not to say that my landscapes aren't intellectual, they are just safer)

Inspired by tonight's session, I plan on calling one of my shows "Screen Memories" based upon the work of Freud.

I have been making "screen shots" of my "screen memories" for years in my mixed media work, never knowing what I was doing. It was subconscious, directed by my muse. The irony is that I have sold more of these personal monographs of my life than I have sold my landscapes. Both come from my heart, but perhaps the personal works reach out to others in a deeper way.

I must get into the studio.
"The time has come" said the walrus
"to speak of other things"....

The art...one of my series which I sold.

Patti O Healer