March Clinic Visit 2014

James River from Belle Isle

So I had my three month follow up visit, and everything is still good!

James River from Belle Isle

James River from Belle Isle

The bad news is, my allergies are going crazy right now, and it’s most likely causing the congestion in my trachea and sinuses. It doesn’t help that Richmond is considered #8 out the 10 worst cities with allergies this year. Ugh. Also, I’m already doing almost everything that has been offered as an option (in terms of prescriptions and medications) that can help relieve my symptoms. My Dr. did however, tell me that the best way to take Nasonex, is to do a sinus rinse first, wait fifteen minutes, and then spray. The worst part about my allergies is that I keep waking up at night, coughing from the drainage down the back of my throat. I can take sudafed or benadryl and that helps me sleep, but the down side is that I still have drainage, but instead of coughing it out, it ends up in my lungs and can camp out there for a while.

The good news from my visit is my numbers are still holding strong! My weight has remained steady (which I have been tracking every day, so I knew that was going to be OK), and my PFT’s are at least remaining stable. Due to a scheduling mistake, I saw my Doctor before I did my PFTs, and she prepared me by saying that it’s very common to for the numbers to trend down again. The IV’s, she reasoned, give your body a great boost, but then you settle down a little into where your numbers will (hopefully) stay even. I could tell though, that my numbers should be close to what they were because I was feeling good, and I could tell I was doing better with the increase in exercise.

With the increase in exercise, it would be really easy for me to lose (too much) weight. But I’ve been careful in listening to my body and when it says I’m hungry, I eat. I’m also fortunate that I have continued to feel good, and not had more than maybe one small cold (and allergies) to bog me down over the last three months. When I don’t feel well, I don’t eat as much as I need to and I can lose weight fast. For example, in college I got sick with the Coxsackie virus, and had sores on the inside of my mouth and throat. It hurt too much to eat, sometimes even swallow, and in the week that it took for me to get properly diagnosed I had lost 15 pounds. That was enough to send all my numbers low enough to warrant my second ever visit to the hospital for a tune up.

But in this visit, not only is my weight staying even, but so were my PFTs. So this time, my doctors wanted me to do a Pre- and Post- bronchodilator PFT to see how much I may be affected by asthma-type symptoms (narrowing of passage ways vs. obstruction with mucus). My Pre-PFTs were pretty good, and my best FEV1 was at 54%- compared to my last visit at 51% I think that’s great! But here’s where it gets really exciting (to me anyway). My post- FEV1 best was 59%! My goal that I wrote in my last CF-related post was to get to 60% this year. I am so close and now I know I can do it! I attribute this increase in my FEV1 with exercise. I’m sure increasing the strength of Advair I take has helped too, and seeing the numbers go up a little after the bronchodilator, there is some asthma-like symptoms that are contributing as well. I still have a fair amount of obstruction though, which means all my numbers are still a bit low. BUT that is another reason why exercise is so important– I move stuff around and hopefully get stuff out.

Birds on the James

Birds on the James

My doctor didn’t make any changes to my regimen this time, but I am going to try to increase the amount of cardio I’m doing. I’ve got to look at my journal and crunch some numbers, but only about 30% of my exercise in the last two months has been cardio-based. (Roughly 1/3 was weight training and another 1/3 was Yoga). The biggest challenge in doing this will be making the time. It can be difficult to carve that much more time out of my day when I already spend an hour to an hour and a half doing my nebulizer/air vest treatments, getting enough sleep, and feeling up to doing something after a full day of work (mostly on my feet).

 

Turtles

Turtles

I know I am not the only one who thinks that  sometimes it can just be so hard to do what I need to. To exercise, to move my body through space, to breathe. Sometimes I feel I have to pull the energy out of nowhere to do these things. Every couple days I’ll give myself a day off, but I always have to push myself. Out of my routines, I think that Yoga is the most fun, and easiest to find time for. Walking on the treadmill is not bad because I can read while I walk. I’ll be honest in that weight lifting can feel like a chore, and Zumba, while very fun, can be frustrating. I am so glad I got Zumba World Party because it really is fun and interesting to play. My frustration lies in my inability to sometimes get through a whole routine because I start coughing. But it’s also good because it really helps move stuff through my lungs. But to actually spend about 20 minutes doing routines in the program, I actually spend closer to an hour of time between choosing songs and stopping to cough and bring stuff up. I have been using the quick play feature because it does one song at a time and only lasts 2 minutes- which is about perfect for me to get a good cough. Play, stop, cough, play, stop, cough.

I’ve also been counting other things as exercise, like the hour and a half walk/hike I took with my visitors last weekend. (The pictures are all from that walk, around Belle Isle on the James River). And I can definitely tell I have better stamina than I did before. So all these things add up, and I think I will continue to meet my goals as long as I don’t get sick.

More Hellebores

White Hellebore with Marroon or Purple Interior
Common Hellebore Flower

Common Hellebore Flower

Since I first started seeing little pops of purple color poking out after the cold, long winter, I was curious and excited to see the first signs of spring (very very early spring) with the Lenten Rose, otherwise known as Hellebores.

Hellebores

Hellebores

This is what I saw early this year– small, slightly spindly plants sprouting from long, large leaves close to the ground. I don’t think I knew about this plant at all until I moved into this house and noticed this ground cover all over. The majority of my property is in shade in the summer, and these plants thrive in the shade.

Pretty Pink Open Hellebores

Pretty Pink Open Hellebores

I have several different varieties (I think), as there are colors ranging from dark purple to pink to white to an almost green-white.

Lenten Rose Hellebore

Lenten Rose Hellebore

There are also a number of flowers with spots and speckles on the inside, and the colors can be mottled too.

White Hellebore with Marroon or Purple Interior

White Hellebore with Marroon or Purple Interior

Pink Hellebore with Pink SpotsPink Hellebore with Pink Spots

Pink Hellebore with Pink Spots

White Hellebore with Pink Spots

White Hellebore with Pink Spots

Pretty Mottled Pink and White Hellebore with green

Pretty Mottled Pink and White Hellebore with green

Some look more open, some droop their heads down.

White Hellebore

White Hellebore

Now that they are in full bloom, they stand about 8-12″ tall, as the larger leaves that remained green all winter long have started to die back.

Purple Hellebores

Purple Hellebores

They are called the Lenten Rose because they bloom around the period of Lent. I’ve also heard them called the Christmas Rose for a similar reason- but mine were far from blooming in late December.

Detail Dark Pink Open Hellebores

Detail Dark Pink Open Hellebores

They are a lovely plant to have in the garden, and they look lovely in a vase too! I cut a few stems for my stepson and his wife’s baby shower this weekend:

Dark Hellebores

Dark Hellebores in a green glass vase

Hellebores on Mantle

Hellebores on Mantle

Hellebores and Daffodils

Hellebores and Daffodils

So pretty!

 

 

Linking up to these parties:  Remodelaholic

 

 

 

Sherwin Williams Paint Review

Two Coats of Duration Paint

Just to get it out of the way: This post is not a sponsored post, nor have I received any recompense from Sherwin Williams in any way. This post is my experience with Sherwin Williams Paint, and expresses my opinion of the paint. And let’s just say, it’s not good.

After all the good things I’ve heard about Sherwin Williams Paint, and finding coupons for 30% off in the newspaper, I wholeheartedly gave two of their top lines of paint a try- Duration and Emerald. These are supposed to be the best of the brand, but they both fell completely flat for me. I was very disappointed in both the Duration and Emerald paint. And I think my pictures speak for themselves:

Two Coats of Duration Paint

Two Coats of Duration Paint

According to the employees at the store, two coats of Duration should be enough to cover the walls. Now, I’ve painted lots of rooms myself, and I’ve tried lots of different brands of paint. I will say hands down, this was the worst paint I’ve ever worked with. Maybe it’s because the tinting strength was so high, maybe it’s just a difficult color to get even. However, I’ve painted one hallway a deep red (nearly ten years ago now), and I painted the hallways in my last house a fairly deep blue, and both times I didn’t have this much trouble with coverage. The deep red paint I used was from Behr, and had some gloss to it, and it covered really well in two coats. The blue paint I used in my last home was a flat paint from Benjamin Moore and also covered really well. This time, I wanted to use a semi-gloss paint in the dining room (which is the glossiest paint they have in Duration and Emerald) and I felt like it was tinted water when it dried. The Duration paint was very thick and gloppy in the can, and I stirred it very well even though I had just come back with it from the store (only five minutes away) where they had just mixed it. I was not happy when I had two coats finished. I went back to the store and told them what was going on, and they acted very surprised. Upon their recommendation, I checked the walls to make sure they weren’t covered in oil paint first. They were not. Were they primed before hand? I know they at least had one coat of paint already on them. The employee was trying to be very helpful and said it could be a number of factors. Maybe it was a bad can of paint, sometimes it happens. Apparently it was one of the last cans in the store because they were out of Duration in the deep base in semi-gloss when I went back the next day. Maybe The walls weren’t adequately primed and it’s just soaking it up. He talked me into trying the Emerald line instead, top of the line, and if it still didn’t work to come back and talk to the manager. (I haven’t done that yet, because at this point I would just be going back to complain).

So I took the Emerald paint home and put a third coat on the walls:

Two Coats of Duration and One Coat of Emerald

Two Coats of Duration and One Coat of Emerald

Much better coverage yes, and the paint was better to work with. Emerald had a really nice consistency to it and went on like butter. It was smooth and pretty. However, when it dried, it was obviously not enough. You can still see my test spots- which now had a total of 7 coats of paint. After one more coat, even though Mr. Lucky was happy with it, I was not. I still needed to cut in for a fifth time, and I could still see spots on the wall with uneven coverage. The whole room honestly needed a fifth coat of paint, but I was down to a very little in my gallon bucket and I refused to spend more money on paint. So I cut in with a brush, and went over the worst areas with the brush as well. It’s OK, but I can still see some brush strokes on the walls. Sometimes it’s tricky with the lighting and mirrors in the room because they can cast so many weird shadows, so some areas don’t look even when they are.

The final product:

Dining Room After

Dining Room After

They say to do a darker primer first, and that is one step I skipped. However, with all the “super paint” out there now, you don’t always need to do it. Maybe this time it would have made a difference- but it still would have meant probably putting at least four coats of something on the walls. And that means it would have been at one coat of primer (one gallon) + two coats of Duration (one gallon) + one or more coats of something else? More Duration? Emerald? Maybe if I had done the primer coat and then two coats of Duration it would have been enough? I don’t know, but I do know that I’m not going to test it out anytime soon nor will I ever try it again with Sherwin Williams Paints. I had much better coverage with Behr, and I know Benjamin Moore works as well and I’d much rather put my money into a product that works for me without guessing.

 

 

 

Some New Spring Blooms

Budding Succulent

It is such a joy to see the garden emerging this Spring, and discovering all the (new to me) plants. I could spend hours outside, and every time I go out and look around I think I find something that I hadn’t seen before.

Mini Narcissus

Mini Narcissus

I have mini Narcissus in the lower garden, but last week I discovered them at the end of the driveway too.

Pink Camelia

Pink Camelia

The Camelia next to the front door is starting to bloom too! I’m so excited to see this pretty pink blossom–I was worried that it wasn’t going to bloom at all because I saw buds on it last fall, emerging just after the other Camelia was finished blooming.

Red Camelia

Red Camelia

Around the corner, on the far end of the house we have a red camelia starting to bloom.

Oregon Holly

Oregon Holly

The Oregon Holly looks like it’s about to start doing something too. I think the berries form on these stalks after the it blooms. I’m sure the birds will eat it right up!

Sedum Coming Alive

Sedum Coming Alive

In the vegetable and flower garden, the sedum is coming back to life. I love this ground cover as it looks so pretty and interesting.

Budding Succulent

Budding Succulent

I have this budding succulent in the planter in the lower terrace by the bench.

Mid March

Mid March

So about a week before, the daffodils were getting ready to burst and now…

Daffodils blooming

Daffodils blooming

There are even more out now, but that will be coming in a later post soon.

There are a couple things coming up that I am not sure of what they are- if you have any ideas please let me know!

What is this

What is this?

I have several little mounds of these coming up by the mailbox and in the front side beds. I don’t know what they are but they sure are cute!

Not sure what this is

Not sure what this is either

I’m not sure what this plant is either. It’s coming up all over the yard and I’m a little worried it might be a weed- but I really can’t tell. Although, a weed is only a plant growing where you don’t want it to, and I might want these here no matter what they are. :)

It’s so fun to watch all these new plants emerge. I’m trying to make notes of holes and areas where I could plant more (if I wanted to). I have a feeling though there’s not going to be a whole lot of room out there! :)