A public service announcement for Oregon gamblers.

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If you or a loved one suffers with compulsive gambling, there is HOPE and HELP!!! For both you and the gambler. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment is free in Oregon.

I am posting this as a public service. Gambling is a serious public health concern. A recent study says that 1 in 37 adults in Oregon are compulsive gambler’s. http://nbc16.com/news/local/study-1-in-37-oregon-adults-are-problem-gamblers
Genetics, psychological risks and social risk factors such as single parent home or poverty are predisposing factors. Time, money and location makes it easy.  http://nbc16.com/news/local/study-1-in-37-oregon-adults-are-problem-gamblers

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My favorite community has had gambling brought to it. I am concerned for my friends.

Gamblers have the HIGHEST suicide rate of all addictions. https://800gambler.org/quick-facts-gambling-suicide/

The statistics are probably lower than what is the real truth.  Many suicides are listed for different causes other than gambling despite the fact a person had a compulsion to gamble. Also the research is limited.  http://lanieshope.org/gambling-addiction-suicide

Reach out and get the help you deserve if you have a problem.
National Problem Gambling Help line: 800-522-4700
Gamblers Anonymous Oregon and Washington: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Oregon Problem Gambling Hotline: 1-877-MYLIMIT (1-877-695-4648)
Voices of Problem Gambling: http://vpgr.net/
Smart Recovery: http://www.smartrecovery.org/addiction/gambling_addiction.html
For the family there is Gam-anon: https://www.gam-anon.org/
Oregon Council on Problem Gambling: http://www.ncpgambling.org/state/oregon/ and http://oregoncpg.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/OCPG-HANDBOOK_REV_OPT-8-14-17.pdf

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Anyone that needs direction to services may contact me through my blog https://nobetz.wordpress.com/ or my community Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MsLadybugAndHerLayers/.  You do NOT need to face the storm alone!

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Day 6 and the worst is over I hope!

Today, I spent some time trying to piece together the last 60 days. It’s hard. There are lots of big spaces of time I don’t remember much. That scares me. It’s evident whatever happened freaked out my loved ones in a big way. I was on the phone saying so many things that were not at all what I was wanting to say but my brain just was somewhat frying. It just was what it was.

Which of course adds to my shame and guilt.  I have not had that occur since I quit gambling. Yes, I’ve lost control of my emotions before, but I have had no “out of body” experiences like I experienced this time. I sure am glad I write tho, because I can go back and somewhat piece together the build-up, the blow, the loss of time, and then I went straight into detox for the Xanax withdrawal. Not the smartest idea in the book. But hey….who said I was thinking in any congruent way during this time?

Although extraordinarily fatigued with pain increased,  I think I’m doing pretty well. I am stronger than I remember sometimes. While I was feeling so weak, I had some idea of what I wanted. I have been on a journey to get off these pills for nearly 2 years. I wanted to get my overall health and strength a little better because I knew I was getting to a place I was ready to deal with some more of my “stuff”.

I did know I was having some PTSD triggers There were some encounters with people I cared about where I felt under attack so decided to disengage from those relationships. That is not something I do lightly. Yet, in retrospect it showed I was getting stronger because I was able to say to myself, “this is not healthy for me”.

In late February or early March was one  occasions and I handled myself with composure (maybe showing a slight displeasure but that is all) and then returned the next day to discuss the situation and stated what behaviors I could handle. That is a HUGE thing for me.

As time passed and other situations occurred I knew I needed to do some digging to see why I so easily get triggered by certain personalities. To be frank, I believe it’s because of my mother and our relationship and her behaviors. There are certain behaviors in women I just cannot tolerate at all. It gets my ruff up so bad and I have to just clench my teeth. Pointing, especially if someone pokes my chest, intimidation posturing, badgering, and overly aggressive. I have a tolerance and then it just is gone. It was like I was doing okay, handling each situation the best I could while trying to be professional in my role as “property manager”, and then it was over the edge.

I had told a few folks about my encounters and how they were affecting me. I had thought I had stated I was getting very stressed and overwhelmed, but again, I believe others hear it as “whining”. It was in late March that I picked up paperwork to get back into counseling. I didn’t get it turned in until mid-April after recovering from the flu. I didn’t get back in until  about the end of June for intake. Back in late March I knew I was over-stressed and had taken on more than I could handle.

In my perception a great deal of the stress came because what I perceived as agreed conversations on what was going on with the property and tenants wasn’t happening. I also had a situation with a friend and it was just the last straw.  I was so overwhelmed trying to get this property ready for renters. I had to help pack up a house that was full of many collections. Tapes(VCR and Cassette), books and mountains of electronics. The entire second story was just storage! I also had to get ready for an Estate Sale. I had never done one before and what a TON of work that is. I also had to help Mr. Chicago’s brother find an apartment and then I had to help him figure out how to make a home for himself in his new place. January was exhausting.

Then in February I was still doing okay after taking a little break, but that is when some of the encounters with PTSD triggers really started. After the first one I was shook up and tearful for a couple days. Then I tried to rectify things in an adult manner and carried on. Then there was another encounter in March. Again, I held my tongue, waited a day or two and then tried to rectify it. I also was telling my family and loved ones about the stress this was bringing me. Yet, no one is around me to actually see what those affects looked like. Often when you have PTSD triggers in my mind I feel like I sound like I am “complaining”. But what I’m trying to convey is I am getting over-stressed and I can’t make prudent choices and I need some help.

I had my trip to Chicago in late March and then came home and landed in the hospital for 4 days with the flu and pneumonia and when I came home and got well enough I had to stretch myself again. I was interviewing potential land renters. I had to run ads and make phone calls and then talk with these people at length regarding their needs and what we could provide for them. I am not a good salesperson. It makes me very uncomfortable, so I was stressing about that. More stress. I am feeling like I am falling behind here. There is so much work to be done and I am coming home after a nearly 2 week absence and it’s time to start the gardens and I still have things to haul to the dump and things to sale and continued encounters that were less than comfortable with some people.

Then came May. I did forget to mention that I had a very serious family issue that occurred in January that was an ongoing concern and stressor until early June. Those of you who follow my FB page remember, Mr. Chicago came out for my birthday in May. It was truly the BEST surprise I’ve ever had for my birthday. The BEST.   During the time he was here I was able to show him a little of what the issues were but by that point I was definitely at a point that any more encounters with triggers was going to set me off. But to him I’m sure they seemed small, each little instance.

That is not so for someone with PTSD. I’ve only had one occasion where it was a single incident that triggered me. Even at that time, I had been under a LOT of stress. Typically when I go into a meltdown mode (post gambling…completely different scenario) I have had a number of stressors on top of a number of triggers. I can only take so much. Which, is another reason I have been trying to get disability.

Having a disability like this doesn’t mean I can’t function or that I’m not smart or capable. It means I can’t take the daily struggles like a person who doesn’t have a  disability. Over the years I’ve tried to explain so much.  I can do a little physical and deal with the pain, but then my stress will get up and so I can’t deal with people or additional stress. Or, I can be medicated and take it gentle on my body and not do a bunch of hard things and my brain works. In fighting chronic pain as well as mental health issues life gets very overwhelming at times.

After Mr. Chicago went home, I thought we kind of had things under control. But that was not the case at all. There were still unresolved issues that came up and a number of incidents that made me uneasy around the 12th of June and that was when I started going over the edge.

After my first blow up, I had a few days where I just was telling everyone “I’m done”.   I am not able to make these decisions. I was trying so hard to take care of the area here and do a good job. I went up and down and up and down for a couple weeks and then settled down a bit. But by then, I was really struggling inside with a lot of things.

I didn’t feel safe anymore. Because I had “acted out” I was scared and embarrassed and pushed everyone away more. I didn’t want anyone to see me unhinged. The lonelier I got and the more I tried to figure out what I could have done different I just got more and more distressed.

I tried to “pull it together”, but I had forgotten that back in May I had purposefully come to the point that I wasn’t gong to refill the Oxycodone anymore.  That had been my goal and I reached it and was doing okay. I didn’t take into account how that my affect my mental health when I was already under stress. I continued to rage and then cry and then rage and then cry. I’ve said “I’m sorry” so many times in the last 2 months and then gone and done the same exact thing.

That is what happens when you have a PTSD breakdown. You feel okay for a few minutes and think you are okay to be around others and then Every Little Thing bugs the hell out of you. Drivers that are speeding and reckless caused me to be the same…trying to chase them down to tell them what crazy drivers they are. Ha ha ha….and who was the undone woman chasing them? Yes…that was me! Hence the limited driving these days.

So June ended and July rode in and yet another big stressor met me on the 5th. Something that made me think of bad things from long ago. I tried to explain to the other my feelings but was met with resistance. This made me feel even more unworthy and increased my angst.

So on 7/12 I had ran out of Xanax and decided not to go to town to pick up my prescription the next day. I had made a choice. Not wise, with my thinking at the time, but it was just me here and I was going for it. The first night I found out some information that truly just made my head burst. My head has been racing and my heart has been racing and I became obsessed with this information and it was rough that first day or two. I was not only going through Detox and PAWS, but I was in the midst of a mental health breakdown and kept getting news that left me feeling so alone and so WRONG for everything. Lots of thoughts of “why am I here?”.

That’s the mindset of a PTSD person. When I am in a PTSD head, I am in total fight/flight mode. I feel horrible. I think I am the worst person in the world. I want no one to see me. I don’t behave in ways that are typical for me. I get quite mean (to push people away) I’ve been told. I typically am NOT mean! I am a lover and a giver and a smiler. But under duress from a PTSD flare I can dish out some verbal bashing and be quite harsh.

I hate that. Which is a big reason for going back to counseling. I know I still have learning to do. I am hoping by completing my detoxification off the narcotics and benzodiazapines my head will be clearer for doing the work I have in front of me.

I know nothing about my future right now. Neither do you…if truth be told. I remember my counselor telling me that I learned early in life, it can all change overnight. In the meantime I am hunkering down and just trying to take care of myself. I deserve it. So do those who love me. I despise scaring them so. Evidently, as I was recently reminded, it’s been going on for some time.   When I get to my lowest I have very pronounced suicidal ideation. I forget about it for the most part when I’m well. I know how that feels as my mother suffered with the same. It is very hard for those around a person feeling like this.

Today has been the clearest my mind has been in a very long time. A very very long time. Even with the fatigue of not sleeping the last two nights (going on being awake for about 58 hours now) my brain is clear. I truly am grateful for being able to finally get off all that.

The cannabis is working. The dosing is not exact, yet. Just like me. I’m working on it. Thanks God for a gentler alternative that comes form the earth!

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Day 5 – I’m gonna live!

 

I do not think all medications are bad. There are situations where pharmacological medications are curative or the benefits outweigh the potential risks or side effects. At this time in my life, having been on a variety of pharmacological medications with less than optimal results, as evidenced by my struggles (breakdown) the last month, I am wanting to go a more holistic way. It started with medical cannabis and I now am more interested in what nature has to offer.

One of the main reasons for doing gardening and animal care when I am in such a challenging financial and physical and emotional situation is they give me purpose on days I struggle. I am so grateful that I started that.  Putting in a garden and attracting butterflies and hummingbirds gives me something pretty to watch and look for. Being out in nature and getting a little exercise is one of the BEST medicines there is. On many days when I am in pain or just overwhelmed, having those things I MUST get up for …makes me still have a life. Hey Sigmund has done a nice outline here of a more holistic approach for mental health strategies.

http://www.heysigmund.com/the-non-medication-ways-to-deal-with-depression-that-are-as-effective-as-medication/

I started off using the medical cannabis (MMJ) mostly for pain. I was on fairly high doses of Oxycodone and it wasn’t working. At least not enough.  This contributed to my IBS for certain, causing severe constipation.  MMJ has been a wonderful option for getting off opiates. It also has improved my mood greatly, until I get into a panic situation or PTSD gets triggered. I still having to do some learning on that. I have a couple strains that I have been given or bought (thank you to the growers) and it works. But the medication I need now needs a special license to process and so I can’t get it as easily. Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) was the BEST cannabis medication I have had to date that helped me the most.  I was calm and pain was much better controlled than with the opiates.

To get the strains that I need for anxiety and PTSD challenges I have to now go the dispensary. In one week I went through $100 worth of RSO and other types of MMJ products in addition to my usual use of the tinctures and butter and flower I have already at home. I can’t afford that. I sure hope they don’t take out the OMMP because of recreational. This is my medication now.

I had it suggested to me to try some skullcap when my belly settles a bit more. It’s a nervine. Nervines are an classification of herbal remedies for mental health conditions that have evidence of high anxiety. I was also told a student of herbology that nervines such as Skullcap can actually help in the healing of my brain after long term use of various medications. Hearthsidehealing in Portland, OR presented this article on nervines written by Jon Keys.

http://www.hearthsidehealing.com/nervine-herbs-for-deep-relief-from-anxiety-and-stress/

While the last few days have been incredibly difficult emotionally, I have no desire to take those pills again. I do not crave them at all, which is a bit strange based on dealing with my gambling disorder and the drive I had for that. I feel that with the medications I was more dependent on them, whereas the gambling for me is a true addiction. But in all honesty, I really had no idea I had an emotional attachment to the medications. They were prescribed by my NP for my various ailments over the course of the last 5 years. Some of them I had been on for nearly 20 years off and on.  When one has a number of medications like that there is always concern about them being discontinued, or brands changing (can be very difficult for some), or your doctor saying after a number of years prescribing, “no more, we have to stop this”. Or there is confusion about getting it refilled. It is really a painful experience to be taking 60-90mg of oxycodone a day and then not have it for 36 hours! Very painful.

I think this is the 5th night since my last dose and while life isn’t bubblegum and rainbows, it’s better than it was 24 hours ago. I even ate! That is one of the big side effects with my withdrawal is NO appetite. Additionally, I think I have only had about 6-7 hours of sleep in the last 3 days. For tonight I’ve made myself a nice hot cup of cannabis tea. I feel very tired. But not as despondent  and sick as I was off and on the last week. Yay God!

Only two sleeps and I will see the counselor that I have seen before.  As well as my NP was to be putting in a referral to a psychiatrist for me.

I really appreciate those who are following. I hope you share this all over the place! I really want people to know what detox from a benzodiazapine after on and off use for 20 years looks like. I want people to know it’s possible to improve from a dependency, an addiction, or a number of mental health ailments by making just a few lifestyle changes. And help me remember that the only person I really need to take care is me. 🙂 Peace!

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**This is no way an endorsement for taking yourself off medications.  I have discussed this with my Nurse Practitoner and it has been a slow taper over 18 months.  One medication at a time.

 

 

Something new…for me…House sitting!

1:36 AM 5/16/2014 I am experiencing a FIRST! Those are always something worth mentioning as far as I am concerned. So much of life can often be very repetitive and become part of a routine. Right now my routine is all messed up. But, I am looking at all the good. I am house sitting for a friend I’ve known for about 2 1/2 years. This person has only known me in a state of not actively gambling. Yet, this person has heard my stories of lies and manipulations and embezzlement and all the things associated with my behaviors of compulsive gambling. I’ve been in this house a couple of times, yet I’ve never been here overnight.

This person told the woman I am providing my expertise to in organization and delegation (the woman where I live) that of all the people he knows I am the one he would trust with all he has. Which he has done. What an honor.

So, here I am in a wonderfully appointed nicely equipped state of the art home. This is something I have never experienced living in during my entire adult life. I have a car and two trucks at my disposal. I have a wonderful roof over my head. I have 2 bathrooms that have showers and tubs and toilet that flush and good lighting that are available for use 24/7. There is a gorgeous sink and a fridge/freezer/water/ice machine that is gorgeous. And a dishwasher that I can run quietly whenever I choose. I also can do laundry 24/7. If you are a large majority of the US, you think this is typical America. Even the ghetto apartments in inner cities have a majority of the amenities that I mentioned available if there is they funding for them. It is very nice and comfortable for certain.

I am enjoying having internet 24/7 where ever I choose to be in this house. I can be in bed, or on the couch or in the recliner of on the patio or at the kitchen table. All in this one place. I have done 2 loads of laundry with drying included in the 5 hours I’ve been here. I’ve also used the TV and Cable and Internet. Oh, and I stopped by a store and picked up a few things and then decided I wanted something for dinner and the store is only about 1/2 mile away and so I went and got myself a mini pizza (gluten free to boot). Yes, living in town and having ammenties is quite nice…..

Yet, I have not head the bird song or the frogs or the crickets. I have not smelled the dirt and the cedars and pines heated by the rays of the sun beating on the trees tops surrounding me. I haven’t been able to enjoy going to my own place and seeing my own things with all the wonderful background sounds.

I am grateful for this opportunity to enjoy a very different living environment. It affords me an opportunity to see how it is for mainstream America as well as an opportunity to gain income to provide for a need.

The amount of compensation I am receiving for this gig will pay for my nursing license renewal, the last one I will be afforded without some repeat education for the next 2 years. I am required to have a specific number of hours in 5 year period. I am still within those guidelines and so I can renew, after being compensated for house sitting in a very comfortable environs.

I also have another situation I am pursuing tomorrow morning. I am going to make a series of health related videos to market a First Aid Kit. 🙂 I will share a link when I have it. There will be 14 videos, each a short vignette of an emergent health care situation.

So, different environment being in someone else’s home, different routine (have to set an alarm to get up and drive myself to another town in the morning, 30 minutes commute. Different bed.

I am really tired and having a hard time settling in for the night. But…my energy and my attitude this week have been very up and I am grateful for every opportunity being put in my path. God is providing for each need…one at a time.

BTW….Shasta, my best friend ever, is with me and she is doing fine. She enjoys looking out the back window and watching the kids at the school grounds just across the way. She has done her necessary things going out in the front yard where there is grass, being allowed a small arena, yet her sniffer is on overdrive. She finds and spot and does her thing and then is off to sniffing again. The life of a dog is all about their front end (nose and mouth) and their back end (defecating and urinating). As long as she’s healthy and happy that is all I am concerned about.

I suppose it would be best if I would try to get a little sleep before my acting debut! I haven’t been in a “stage” presence since 2002 when I took a credit class titled “The Total Performer”. I really needed to boost my GPA and I figured this would be an easy A. I ended up working my rear off!!! The class required 6 hours of class time and about 20 hours of off class time. I did get the A tho!. That is a long time to have been away from the acting environment, yet I did love drama in HS. I also have applied to be in a car ad later in the month. I may have a new career. 🙂

Being flexible is affording me so many options. Options I may not have otherwise considered. God is providing for my needs and I am also finding entertainment and enjoyment from many of the venues I am pursuing. God is good, all the time.

A Superbowl that changed my life

It’s Superbowl Sunday!!!  Even if you aren’t a football fan it is likely that you are aware that it is Superbowl Sunday.  Except for two other Superbowl games  I have no recollection of anything about any professional football game I’ve ever seen.  The one other was in 2006 when the Seattle Seahawks were playing and lost due to some terrible calls.  That is my opinion anyhow.  I am not a big football fan yet I could tell that the ref’s in that game were doing some serious picking on the Hawks.  I couldn’t watch the last 5 minutes of the game.  It was disgusting.  I am certainly glad they won today’s game.  The 48th Superbowl played in New York was one they deserved to win.

The other Superbowl Sunday I recall is one that changed my life.  It was 20 years ago.  Superbowl XXVIII.  The Cowboys and the Bills.  I don’t recall where they played the game.  I know who played because I googled it.  I do remember where I was and who I was with and what I did to change the course of my life forever.

I was at the Newport Hilton on the Oregon Coast with my then husband, Mr. B.  We had decided to go over to the coast to enjoy our weekend and have a place to watch the game.  We had only been married for about 3 months so of course we were still very snuggly and cuddly and romantic. Mr. B. was a huge sports fan.  In fact, I sometimes think he would die if he didn’t have access to watch sports and keep up on his favorites.  So, a weekend at the coast at a nice hotel was a compromise of what I enjoyed and what he enjoyed.  And we both loved the beach which is why we decided to watch the Superbowl from there.

The bar had a few huge TV’s.  That was back when big screens were just starting to be made.  Technology has come a long way since then.  There was a lovely view of the beach.  They were packed and there was lots of food and everyone was having a good time.

Every so often my husband would go over to some machines and put some money in them.  I didn’t know what they were except I had seen them before and knew he sometimes put money in them and played a game.  I was feeling a big ignored, with both sports and now this machine and so I went over to ask him what it was about.   He then gave me $5 and said put it in and I’ll show you.

That was the first bet I made in a video poker machine.  I had never really gambled before that.  Maybe some penny ante poker, but nothing worth recalling and never on a machine or at a casino or anything like that. This was a whole new experience for me.  I can’t tell you if I won or lost.  I can’t tell you what game I played.  I can’t even tell you how it made me feel.  I just remember that is the first place I ever made a bet.

We enjoyed our weekend.  Like I said, I don’t remember much about the game because I was mostly there to spend time with my husband.  I know we stayed over another night and probably took our time driving home, stopping for lunch at one of our favorite places along the way.  But I can’t tell you for certain.

While I didn’t play a machine again for a few months, that one bet was the start of the change of my life.  You see, I became a compulsive gambler.  In less than a year from that Superbowl game my family was doing an intervention to get me into treatment.  I was lying and stealing money.  I was not being the person I used to be.  I was not there for my family.  I was not performing well at my job.  That was just the first year of my gambling.  I ended up battling my addiction for 16 years.

I am proud to say I am nearing my 4th year without making a bet.  But it being Superbowl Sunday and the year 2014, it hit me hard the memory of that game 20 years ago an how my life changed course.  I can’t help but wonder what would have been different if I had never made that first bet.  I had no idea at that time that anyone could get addicted to gambling.  I was very careful about addictions.  I was raised in a home with addiction.  Had I known…I may have done a few things different.  But I didn’t.  The price was very costly.

Not only did I lose thousands of dollars over the course of all those years, but I lost friends and family.  I lost respect of my peers.  I lost opportunities.  I lost moments that can never be made up.  I lost a part of me.  I lost more than can ever be imagined.

I can’t change what was done.  I can only go forward from here and hope that the lessons I’ve learned are directing me along the path God has set forth for me.  I took control of the reigns of my life that day that changed my life.  Today, I let God be in charge and I trust He will find a way to use all  those years for some good.  Maybe good for me, or maybe good for someone else.

Knowing what I know about compulsive gambling today, would I make the same decision?  NO WAY.  Gambling can ruin lives.  It is the addiction with the highest rate of suicide of any addictions.  It eats at your mind faster than your wallet.  No, if I knew then what I know now, I would not mindlessly put my money in a machine a place a bet.  Or, would I?  There is no way to tell now.  I just have to live in today.  And today was good, because I watched the big game (well, only the second half because I have the flu and slept through the first half) and I didn’t make a bet and I didn’t make any big decisions that were life changing.  I just watched the game.  And I will remember who played and who won!  I was present.  Thank you God…for the Present of today!

Hurting, sad, mad and yet able to be inspired.

I came across this blog post today, Pain and an Unfulfilled Life, and it inspired me to be very honest and forthright about my life today.  No pretty pictures.  No tasty recipes.  No happy happy joy joy stuff.  This is laying it out on the line.  I am SMAD (sad and mad) about my life right now. And you know what? It’s okay. It’s my life and I’m allowed to have whatever feelings I need to have.

Part of this sad and mad is due to once again having my heart hurting. Another relationship busted.  But honestly, that’s secondary. Yes, I’m sad my most recent relationship didn’t work out. But I’ve learned from previous experience that this too shall pass. I’d rather know now, then after investing years of time and possibly having a marriage and everything in our lives completely blended. It hurts. It sucks. But….life will go on.  I’d rather be happy and alone than unhappy and lonely with someone who I was not good with.

So, that is part of the sad. The mad is from really hating my life right now. What really makes me almost lose it, is that I don’t see it getting any better any time in the near future. I live with chronic pain. The last 3 years have rendered me unable to work. I have a variety of diagnosis. Fibromyalgia seems to be the one everyone reverts to when discussing my disabilities and the fact that I live in chronic pain. But there are other issues too. Bulging discs in my low back as well as in my cervical area result in chronic back pain and occasional bouts of severe disabling headaches. Then there is periodic sciatica, bilateral trochanteric bursitis, irritable bowel syndrome, osteoarthritis in my back, and my feet (Oh my gosh how my feet hurt). I  have struggled periodically in my adult life with many bouts of chronic depression.  I also was diagnosed with  PTSD and generalized anxiety disorder when I was in treatment for my gambling addiction nearly 4 years ago.  Those mental health issues have been pretty well controlled for quite some time. Yet, pain triggers my mental health issues and the pain has been worse than ever the last 6 months. Our bodies and minds are connected you know? So, the pain is bad and my brain tanks, which makes the pain worse, which make my brain chemistry all messed up.  But hey, everyone says I look great! 🙂  Blech.

Now, there are some that may think to themselves or say “Well, you did a lot of things that weren’t so great over your life and maybe this is your comeuppance”. That first part is a true statement. In my gambling addiction I really sucked as a mom, a wife, an employee and as a person in general. I used to think that all my trials and tribulations were the price I was paying for my sins. Yet, in all honestly, I was bombarded with many trials and tribulations even before my gambling ever started.  But if that is the case, if this is punishment for my sins,  can you tell me what to do to atone for all my wrongdoings that I haven’t already done? I would do anything to atone for my previous sins and shortcomings and have been working on them for quite some time. I used to think my sins were unforgiveable…but I now know my God is big enough to handle even MY horrors. I personally believe God has forgiven me and I have forgiven me, so if this is a punishment, can you tell me how to have it stop? I don’t think that is the case, but am open to suggestions if you have one.

Or maybe some think “You haven’t tried the right treatments and you aren’t really trying hard enough. You need to just do XYZ.” Okay…what is X and Y and Z? I have tried medications. I have tried physical therapy. I have tried accupuncture. I have exercised. I have changed my eating to be mindful of food considered inflammatory. I have prayed. I have cried. I have tried more medications. I have had counseling. I have lost weight. I have quit smoking. I got chickens to care for so I am forced to get up each day to care for them even when it hurts so bad that I am nearly throwing up. While some of these treatment modalities have helped, there isn’t a one of them that has made it better to the point that I can count on it working for me everyday. I am grateful for what relief they do give me, but it isn’t the type of relief that would allow me to commit to going to a job on a routine basis.  Additionally, many of the treatments cost money and when you aren’t working and don’t have insurance…..well, you get the picture.

Some are thinking and have said that with the Affordable Care Act that I can finally be cured, or at least get well enough to become a productive member of society again. While I am hopeful, I am not going to hold my breath. I don’t look very good when I’m blue in the face. I have an appointment with my Nurse Practitioner next week and am going to request a very thorough workup. I want proof that I have tried all that I can. I also want to know if by chance there is something underlying that has not been noticed because everyone (including medical professionals) gets so hooked up on Fibromyalgia that they forego looking at anything else going on. That makes me mad too! I was so glad when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, because it gave a name to the pain that was changing who I was. Then I realized that the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia came with a stigma and I got sent to the back of the bus on being taken seriously about anything that hurts or doesn’t feel right in my body. Well, now I have insurance and I want some answers!

What really pisses me off the most is that I can say without any excuses that I have been one of the hardest working people I know and it hasn’t helped me in the slightest during the recent years. In my former life (before the pain won) when faced with a trial such as a relational breakup or a move or anything, I would just get busy and go to work and get it done and move on. But I can’t do that anymore. I have to do little steps. And those little steps don’t get me very far on remedying my situation. In my mind, I want so bad to push through it. But that likely could put me in bed for days to a week, if I was able to do it at all.

I have no plans. I have no dreams. My only goal is to do one thing at a time to try to get me to the place I’m supposed to be to have the life that I am going to have.  I have absolutely not even a hint of what that is going to look like in a month, or a year, or 10 years. But based on how things have been the last 3 years, nothing is going to be pain free, and nothing is going to happen smoothly or without a great effort on my part. Yeah…I am sad. And I am mad. I feel like I have no choice. Yet in all reality I do have choices.   I can choose to keep moving along putting one foot in front of the other. I can be grateful for the love I have from some really special friends in my life. I can enjoy my dog and my kittens and my chickens today! I can keep trusting that as long as I am doing the next right thing, God will get me to where I am supposed to be to do whatever I am still here for. It’s okay with God if I get SMAD. He understands.

Capturing wild yeast and making sourdough bread!

This starter was created the beginning of the second week in May.

My list of new things to learn to do is always growing. When spring approached my research said it was a good time to capture some yeast and start my own science experiment on my counter. I read many different articles on how to make a good sourdough starter. The one I decided to follow was this one Sourdough Starter from Scratch: Collecting Wild Yeast.   My first capturing yeast was done in early April and it was growing well and I had been feeding it for a few weeks. I had put it in the refrigerator while I was gone from home traveling and when I tried to “fire it up” and reactivate it after a few days it developed some pinkish yuck so I threw it out. I started a new batch around May 10th and have kept it going on the counter ever since. I have tried four different Artisan sourdough bread recipes over the last few weeks and this weeks batch turned out the best in my humble opinion. My starter lives on the counter and I feed it daily with 1/3 cup of water and 1/2 cup WW flour. I toss 1/2 the starter about every 3 days. I feed it with AP flour the day before I intend to use it as that seems to create more yeast. The rest of the time the feeding is done with WW flour.

I have a little experience in bread baking over the years and anyone who knows how I am about recipes knows I have to go with my own flow and typically just use a recipe for some inspiration. That is what I did this time. I found yet another slightly different recipe and tweaked it to suit me using traditional American measurements since I have not acquired a scale yet. I found my inspiration with this recipe at Them Apples and I hope you take the time to check out this writer’s blog. He and I share a similar taste for foods! Lots of yummy stuff to be found and I love his layout!

I made my sponge using 1 heavy cup of my starter, 1 cup WW flour and 1 cup AP flour and 2 1/3 cups water. I mixed it with a fork and covered it with a cloth and it set on the counter from noon until 8pm. I wanted to have my bread ready to give a loaf to my physical therapist and my appointment was scheduled for noon the next day! I have learned over the last few weeks that baking good sourdough bread really is about taking your time and allowing the fermentation of the yeasts to develop. I love my set of Vintage Pyrex bowls and the large one was just perfect for this process!

While the sponge was doing it’s thing on the counter I tidied up my kitchen and prepared for an interview I was schedule to do at 2pm one of the reporters from the local newspaper. They are doing a full spread article on compulsive and problem gambling. I have been interviewed about problem gambling a few other times in the past.  I am happy to say this is the first interview I have had where I have significant recovery under my belt. The two other times for newspapers occurred when my life was in a shambles or I was literally sitting on my hands white knuckling it so I wouldn’t go place a bet. There was also a time I was interviewed for a TV newscast, and that occurred when I had been at a treatment facility and was at about day 45  and still trying to figure out how I was going to manage life once treatment was done. This time I am doing well today and it felt good to know that.  I am sure the article will focus more on the devastation that occurred during my 16 year battle rather than all that is good, and that is ok if the story helps educate the general public on the devastation that gambling can bring on a life. One other thing that is significantly different about this interview is that I chose not to remain anonymous. I am allowing the paper to use my name as well as my picture. Not because I am anyone special. Quite the opposite. I am just another person, who lives in the country and raises chickens and likes to cook and bake and has life challenges and loves people and is emotionally and mentally sound and happy with life. In a nutshell that is. I have nothing to hide anymore and it felt very liberating to say yes when asked if my name and photo could be used.

After the interview I hoped on my motorcycle and ran to town to check the mail for my guy while he is out of town and then back out to Applegate Valley Lavender Farm. I had promised my new friend Deborah Thompson, the proprietor, that I would help her do some preparing for the upcoming Oregon Lavender Festival. Check out her webpage and learn more about the Lavender Festival. Aside from enjoying this sweet ladies company, who wouldn’t want to hang out at a lavender farm and enjoy the scenery and the scents and the animals? I love it there. We played with her farm animal friends and pulled some weeds and ate some watermelon. It was a great couple of hours.

At 8pm I was back home and done with phone calls and little things that occupied my time for a while. It was time to make some dough! I dumped the bubbly mass of sponge into the bowl that goes with my standing mixer. I added 1 cup of WW flour, one cup of AP flour and 1/2 cup of oatmeal flour (that I grind myself with Organic Oats) and 1/2 cup of whole oats. I sprinkled in 1/2 tablespoon of sea salt and started up the mixer. Nice and slow at first. I didn’t want flour all over the place! It is a very wet batter as you can see from the photos. I added maybe another 1/4 cup of oatmeal flour after about 3 minutes because it was still sticking too much on the sides of the bowl. Once it all started to come together I amped up the mixer and let it fly for about 5 more minutes. I love my Kitchen Aid Mixer. It probably is the most used appliance I have ever owned. It is started to get a bit wobbly from so much use. When I use the dough hook to knead bread I have to hold the thing still because it bangs all over the place. I just use it as a resting place for the time it takes to knead it! After about 8-10 minutes with the mixer into an oiled bowl it goes!

Now to let it rise. I always pre-warm my oven to 350 degrees for just ONE minute and then turn it off and set my bowl inside with a tea towel or loose lid on it. I have a gas oven so it always stays a little warmer. It is a good thing I am a bit of a night owl because this dough still needs attention. As Rich at Them Apples states in his blog, this dough needs attention for about 4 hours or so. I would just stick my hands in the bowl and punch it down and turn it over and punch it down a few times each hour. At about 1:30 in the morning when I was just about ready for a good sleep I shaped the loaves into nice rounds and left them on a piece of parchment paper. I did the tea towel trick for holding their shape and it worked well. I covered them up and went to bed!

I awakened at 9 and padded out in my bare feet and turned the oven on to 450C degrees. I had a few things to do to put my “Barter Basket” so set to that while waiting for a good solid 30-45 minute pre-heat. I placed my rack in the middle of the oven and had a loaf pan full of water underneath that was heating with the oven. I also threw in some oiled new red potatoes to let them roast utilizing the pre-heat temps! I had my favorite Pampered Chef rectangular baking stone preheating in there too. For those who are curious my “Barter Basket” is a basket of home cooked and home canned food I put together each week for my physical therapist. She is treating me sans charge except for whatever I choose to bring as a barter gift. It is working out well for both of us. She and her betrothed are getting married in September and she has just asked me to provide some of the food for her dinner, which is a BBQ as well as highlight her bridal breakfast with some quiches and muffins and such! I have been so excited and honored about this. I have been enjoying cooking for most all of my adult life and to have someone ask me if I will cook for them for their most special occasion is just wonderful!

At 10 a.m.  I was ready to throw them in and have them bake. I had covered the bottoms of the loaves with a good layering of the oatmeal flour before letting them rise and so they moved about on the parchment paper I had set them on pretty well. I opened the oven and gently lifted each one with a nice long spatula and closed the door gently! Baked for 10 minutes at 450 and then turned the oven down to 200. The loaves were  just barely brown after 10 minutes. I checked on them after another 20 minutes and they didn’t sound quite hollow when tapped so I gave them an additional 5 minutes. On to the rack to cool while I got ready for my appointment with my PT.

My “Barter Basket” contained a jar of Marsala Chicken that I had cooked overnight in the crock pot, the roasted potatoes, a jar of canned peaches, a jar of Blackberry Plum jam, a plateful of Lemon Bars a loaf of this lovely Artisan Sourdough Oatmeal bread and a dozen of eggs from my Layers! My wild yeast starter is still growing on the counter and I believe I will make this same recipe again next week. I had a slice of this bread and it is very good, but I will add a little more salt next time. I think with the WW and Oat flours salt requirements increase! I hope you enjoy learning about Capturing Wild Yeast and making some good sourdough bread!