Monday, September 21, 2015

New Car, Mini Health Update, and Prescription Tip!

Hey everyone! Exciting news is happening in the Powers household!

We Got a New Car!
Monday morning (today) was an "administrative day" for Patrick, meaning he wasn't teaching and his boss kind of let him have the day to himself because he needed to take care of some important things since he'll be leaving on Tuesday to go to Minnesota for a few days. Thankfully this trip is on the shorter side, so he'll be back on Friday.

Anyway, on the trip up to Oregon while I was driving (just before we switched "shifts"), a warning light came on in our car that said that there was something wrong with the tires. Only being a few miles from our destination (where we had decided previously to stop and switch drivers) and not being anywhere we could pull over to check since we were literally in the mountains, we kept driving and stopped in Weed, California to inspect the tires. Nothing was visibly wrong with them and Patrick made sure to check the air in the tires at the gas station just to be sure, but they were all measuring just fine. The light has stayed on ever since. Even throughout the week while we drove around after we got here, we kept an eye on the tires to make sure they weren't deflating or bulging. Nothing was happening, but the light stayed on.

When Patrick was finally able to take the car in this morning, the mechanics and tire specialists couldn't find anything wrong with the tires and decided that it was definitely a warranty issue and an alert malfunction. However, while Patrick was there, he decided to have them run some numbers.

The problem with having a lease (for us, at least) is that we drive a LOT, especially for Patrick's job. Our lease came with a 40k mileage limit over a span of three years, but as of this month we were already well past 30k miles and knew we would be going over the mileage limit. A few months ago we tried to get into a new lease but they definitely wanted a large sum as a down payment and our monthly lease would go up significantly, so it wasn't worth it for us, though we did have a make, model, and color picked out for our potential new vehicle.

This morning when I woke up, Patrick informed me that we could get a brand new car with all of the same features (and more) of our current car for less than we're actually paying for our current lease and asked me if I thought it was a good idea. I quickly weighed our options.


  • We won't have to wait in line at the DMV to register the car.
  • Because of Oregon laws, if you lease a car in Oregon, the state of Oregon will hold the title. This means that in order to register our car here, we would have had to register the car and then wait for the bank to transfer the lease to a local bank, then wait for that bank to transfer the lease to the state of Oregon. We know friends who have had to do this and it is an absolute nightmare and should be avoided at all costs. 
  • We won't feel the stares of people who see our California license plates and get angry that yet another Californian is moving into their state and ruining the sanctity of Oregon (sorry! I'm from Michigan, it's not my fault!)
  • We'd get a brand new vehicle for less than what we're already paying.
  • This brand new vehicle that we'd get comes with all-wheel drive and all-weather tires, which we would have needed to put on the car eventually because of the possibility of ice and snow here. 
  • The car that we'd get, which is a Mazda CX-5, is much higher up off of the ground than the Mazda 6 that we'd be trading in, which is helpful in any situation because you can see around more things.
  • The car has a hatchback!
  • We wouldn't have to worry about going over our mileage at the end of the Mazda 6's lease!
  • We would need to get used to a new car because I'm sure we'll lose it in the parking lot a couple of times in the beginning. 
That's it! The answer was obviously YES and Patrick came home with a new car this afternoon! I know some people are probably thinking "A new car? Wouldn't that cost them more money? Didn't they just have a GoFundMe page up for medical expenses? How can they afford that?"

The answer is: It's not costing us anything and it is only beneficial to us. The dealership wanted a "down payment" of one month's lease in order to lease the car, which Patrick had already put away for this month's lease payment for the Mazda 6. So our "down payment" is actually the lease payment that Patrick was planning on paying this month. We're both super excited and it takes a lot of weight off of our shoulders (his more than mine) that we won't have to worry about registration, the lease, the mileage, the tires, etc. 

Here's the new car! 2016 Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring.

We both really love the wheels.

Mini Health Update:
My cysts are mostly gone! I can now only feel some "nodules" under the skin, which are just pockets under the skin where the cysts tunneled, but they're not painful. If anything, they're sore from the swelling finally going down. You know how if you put your hair up in a pony tail too tight for too long it hurts, but when you take the pony tail down it still hurts, just in a different way? Like that. Only the left armpit has that feeling (I assume because it's the one that healed last), and I'm continuing to get better and I have full range of movement. I also filled one of my prescriptions today and it will be ready for pickup in a few hours, so that is one less thing that I need to worry about. In reference to the prescriptions, have I told you guys about GoodRx?

Save on Your Prescriptions!
I just saved more than HALF of what my prescription would have costed at Walgreens. If you don't have insurance, the next time you need to have a prescription filled, go to GoodRx and search your prescription. It will provide you with a list of pharmacies, from cheapest to most expensive, and it will provide you with a coupon to either download to your phone or print from your computer for that prescription*. You don't need to sign up for anything, download anything (unless you download the coupon to your phone, however you can just look up the same information on your phone and show the coupon information to your pharmacist without downloading anything), provide any email addresses or personal information, etc. My prescription went from being over $60 to just over $25 for one month's prescription, and because the prescription is filled in three month "chunks", that saved me almost $100 in just one shot. I'm so thankful that I found GoodRx. If you're curious as to how it works, there is a short video on their home page that explains it all (just in case you're skeptical). I hope this helps someone!

*Please note that each prescription with each different pharmacy has a different "coupon code" so if you have multiple prescriptions, look each of them up and write down/ print out/download each coupon separately. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Unpacking, Neighbors, & More Health

Hey guys! We finally did less stuff to talk about, so it should make for a pretty short post (edit: it ended up not being a very short post... sorry). I'm decompressing from the long weekend we've had.

Movers & Unpacking
On Friday the movers came to deliver our things. They arrived around 8:45am and they got to work. The three guys took about 4.5 hours to unload everything and then Patrick and I started unpacking.

Until today, either one or both of us were unpacking at one point or another except for when we slept. I'll admit that Patrick did a LOT more than I did. I have been feeling like crap all weekend, which I'll touch on in a minute.

As of right now we have all but four boxes unpacked. We've stopped for meals and to go out and grab things we might need (the big thing for us has been plastic bins-- we have so much more storage here that we literally need storage for our storage because otherwise everything is just kind of falling out everywhere). Yesterday, I took a nap while Patrick took a break.

The other really difficult thing has been that until yesterday, it has been SO HOT. We had some kind of heat wave here and Thursday-Saturday we had high 80's temperatures (record temps for this area) and of course, being on the third floor with apparently no cross-breeze no matter how many windows and doors we had open, we were slowly evaporating. It finally cooled down on Sunday and we were able to move around without feeling like death was upon us. Today, it is overcast and by 9am we had closed all of the windows because we were finally cold. I'm even wearing my favorite slippers to keep my feet warm :)

Apartments & Neighbors
Patrick and I are convinced that the apartment is eating things. Maybe we are still delirious from the recent heat and exertion, but I have lost two plastic storage bins and Patrick has lost a vape tank, an orange box cutter, a box of alcohol wrapped in clothing, and now a giant rubber band that we were using to keep the laundry closet shut so the cats wouldn't get in there. Are we built on ancient burial grounds? I don't know what's going on, but I know I'm not going crazy. I've counted at least ten times. I am missing two plastic storage bins.

Our neighbors are... I have no words to describe them. Let me just tell you what has happened.

I had a package arrive last Friday (the 4th). We weren't arriving until the 5th, and the UPS email told Patrick that the package had been delivered to our door step, so we immediately emailed the apartments and asked them to please check their office for the package just in case, so we could know if it was actually at the door because we were worried about it being taken. The office girls checked and it wasn't there, in our mail box, or at our door step-- mind you, it couldn't have taken more than hour from when we received the email from UPS until we got an email back from the leasing office. So we took out a complaint with UPS and one with the store we purchased the item from and waited to hear back from them. When UPS finally got back with us, they said that they wouldn't do anything because the package was delivered, so we were waiting to hear back from the shipper. Thursday night (I think), we went out to get groceries. When we were leaving, we saw our across-the-hall-neighbor coming out of her apartment. I smiled at her and we went downstairs, but I thought it was weird that she didn't smile back but instead looked a little like she had seen a ghost. When Patrick and I came home, the package was on our door step and the door of the woman's apartment was ajar. The doorjamb was visible but you couldn't see inside of the apartment (and the lights were off), and I thought that was super sketchy. I tried to reason with it and convince myself that she was just holding on to the package because she didn't want someone else to steal it and then she waited to see us before she returned it. But why not leave a note? Why not give it to us herself? Why was her door open when we came home? Why was she so freaked out when she saw us? I'm not buying it and the whole situation is not settling with me at all, nor with Patrick. Unrelated to the package incident, Saturday at like 9am I had to go over there and bang on the door to get someone to answer it so I could ask them to please turn their music down a notch because we could literally feel the bass in our floor. I know it was Saturday and I know it was 9am, but I could feel it in our living room, which is at least 35, maybe even 40, feet away from their front door and across a cement stairwell. Unacceptable.

My cysts started to get better the day after I went in for my follow-up and I have been searching for a pharmacy that isn't going to charge me over $100 for a prescription that I know Meijer in Michigan would fill for free. Man, I miss Meijer. I have a little while before I need the prescriptions filled, so I can keep searching. The unpacking is not helping, though. I am supposed to be keeping from moving my arms as much as possible, but we need to unpack. I have developed another cyst lower down on my armpit (I think from the stress and the strain), but it's not that bad and I can definitely handle it. I have a topical antibiotic gel that I've been applying to the area as directed but it has been making my skin so sensitive. A lot of itching and burning, which I'm going to be emailing the clinic about.

The heat definitely took its toll on both of us and I hardly did anything on Saturday, although I did help Patrick take some boxes down to the garage and I tripped over some other boxes and fell. I twisted my ankle and whacked it on the side of one of the boxes and I also landed really hard on my knee, and then I had a panic attack. They haven't been too sore until last night (weird, right?), when they were suddenly too tender to touch (I found this out by trying to cross my ankles), and while I was trying to fall asleep last night I kept having a throbbing pain behind my knee cap. It's possibly because I've been trying to cut down on the ibuprofen I've been taking because the pain from the cysts has been less, so I didn't notice the pain until the ibuprofen was out of my system.

On Sunday I took a nap and woke up to the worst allergy attack I've had in a long time, which is strange because before my nap I hadn't done much unpacking and there wasn't much dust (or, well, no more than usual). I seriously sneezed at least 30 times within only a couple of hours, my throat was itching like crazy, and it took a few hours for the swelling in my sinuses to go down. I don't want to jinx it by actually voicing my thoughts, but I'm hoping that this is just allergies and not something else from the drastic changes in weather and temperature, if you catch my drift.

So that's all so far! Nothing super exciting has happened and yet and Patrick works during the day all this week, but we'll see about this weekend. My task for today is to take a bunch of boxes down to the garage for Patrick while he teaches and probably take a nap :)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Exploring Beaverton and Making Friends!

Hey everyone! I know I just posted yesterday but I didn't want to make one giant long post about my health and exploring, so I split it up and decided to post the health update first. I know both posts are really long and I'm sorry about that. I'm going to try my best to update more often so the posts aren't as long but I don't want to over-saturate the blog.

Health Re-Update:
I went back to the clinic for a follow-up yesterday (Wednesday). During the week, Tina (my doctor) did a lot of research for me and we decided on the following:

  • I'll be on a two to three month regimen of Doxycycline to temper the cysts and prevent new ones.
  • I'll be going on Yaz birth control to suppress the androgens* in my body, which is the hormone that causes the flare-ups. I've had good results with Yaz before so hopefully it won't mess with my hormones too much, because I've been off of oral birth control for 4-5 months to try to let my body sort itself out (I was having a lot of hormone issues).
  • My right armpit got much, much better since Sunday and I have almost full range of motion. However, my left armpit has gotten a lot worse. We've sent in a culture to see if that infection is more serious and requires different antibiotics. We'll reassess in a few days' time when the results come back.
  • If my cysts clear up sooner than later, I'll probably be able to stop taking the antibiotics and just stay on the birth control to keep the HS in check. I'm still trying to find a pharmacy that won't drown me with prescription costs, but I have a little bit of time before I need either of the scripts filled.
*I previously said progesterone but I've discovered that I was incorrect.

Now, here's another long blog about exploring Beaverton :)

So the more we explore, the more I fall in love with Beaverton and Oregon in general. I'm so excited and grateful about this opportunity and I'm finding that Oregon seems to be the perfect mix of Michigan and California, which means that it has things that both Patrick and I really like. For example, the food here is diverse. If you want Thai food, we only need to walk about a block. But if I want Zoup-- my favorite soup restaurant chain that I ate almost every single day while I was still in college in Michigan-- you can find that, too (there were none in California and it broke my heart). There are a lot more high end options if you look for them, especially in Portland itself, but it's really nice to find stuff that we are both excited to try when we go out to eat. The weather is also making us both very happy, and we're close enough to the ocean (about two hours, give or take) that it doesn't make Patrick all itchy and land-locked.

We're also in a really great area. There is a Target about three miles away but on the way there you see about 60% trees and 40% houses or developments, instead of seeing almost 100% man-made things like you do in California. Anywhere you go, it's a beautiful drive and we have been driving with the windows down every single time. Fresh air... It's sad that we didn't have it for thirteen months while we lived in Tracy.

  • Went to urgent care
  • Took a long nap, woke up feeling a LOT better
  • Went to a local mall to explore
  • Went to dinner at Patrick's friend Dennis and his girlfriend Gina's place. Many thanks to the two of them for having us over and extra thanks to Dennis for cooking a fantastic home made meal!

  • Woke up and Patrick had left to go explore some more
  • Patrick came back, we went to a few stores including the "baby" Powell's books. If you read my post from July that included a bit about Powell's of Portland, you'll know that Powell's is a gigantic book store in Portland itself. It turns out that there's a smaller, though also very well-stocked, Powell's in Beaverton as well
  • Also went to a gigantic craft store in that same shopping center (I'd describe it as "Joann's, Michael's, and Hobby Lobby combined") and also a huge store JUST FOR ORGANIZATION AND STORAGE, which is called Storables
  • Finally got to go to the thrift store (albeit briefly) and I got a couple of flannel shirts
  • Went Patrick's friend Sam and his wife Lisa's for dinner. Thank you SO MUCH Sam and Lisa for inviting us into your home and many thanks to Lisa for cooking us a delicious dinner! We had a fantastic time!

  • We had a big adventure and went to Ikea to buy the things we budgeted for: two bar stools, a dining room table with two chairs (which doubles as a desk for me to craft/write/sew/etc), a light fixture for the breakfast bar, and a few other very small items
  • We spent the rest of the day putting together all of the items

  • I went out on my own for the first time! I have pretty bad anxiety about driving in general so this is a really big deal for me. I went to the Dollar Tree to get a couple of things (hand soap, a table cloth, and a few Halloween decorations). Patrick taught until about 3pm.
  • In the evening, Patrick and I went back to the clinic (different clinic, same provider) for a follow up (which I've written about above) and we went to a really delicious southern restaurant for dinner called Miss Delta
  • Patrick taught until about 3pm.
  • While Patrick was working, I ventured out to Target by myself. It was a successful trip.
  • We went to the Dutch Store after work and got some delicious Dutch cheese and a few Dutch snacks. 
  • My HS is doing much better today and I almost didn't need to take any ibuprofen. 
So that's it up until just now! Tomorrow the moving company will be delivering our stuff and we'll probably be unpacking and organizing all weekend. I'll continue to update every so often, hopefully more often so that these blogs aren't so darn long from now on. Sorry! 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Health Update/ Hidradenitis Suppurativia

Hey everyone!

Today's topic is one that's very personal to me, a little embarrassing because of the misconceptions, and it's what I'm dealing with right now. In my last blog I mentioned that I might do a health update. I wrote one, but it turns out that I wrote the bulk of this blog a long time ago when I was thinking about doing an entire post about the topic, so I figure that now is as good a time as any. Here we go.

I have a disease called Hidradenitis Suppurativa. What this disease is is actually a debate, but it is basically a chronic cyst issue. There isn't a whole lot of research on what causes it and there are very few proven treatment methods or methods of prevention. However, I can tell you what it is in its simplest form and why it's so awful.

At any given time, I probably have a cyst on my body. It's not a cyst like you would think it is-- it is not a tumor that can be cut out. Basically what they are are tiny-- or large, depending on what your body has in store for you-- boils that can occur all over the body, especially in high-friction areas or folded areas. The most frequent places for these cysts to occur are in the armpits, at the top of the tailbone, under the breasts, or on the groin area. These are not hard rules, however, and they can occur anywhere. They also tunnel beneath the skin, so multiple cysts can be connected by tunnels and these tunnels can scar.

Let me preface this with the following statement: These cysts are not caused by lack of hygiene. They are not caused by the foods you eat. There is a debate of whether they are caused by an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks itself-- and there is often evidence to support this, as many HS sufferers also battle rheumatoid arthritis even though all tests come back negative for RH, like they did for me-- or an issue with how the body produces and expels its natural oils. There is little that can be done other than taking a low dose of antibiotics for a very long period of time or simply letting the boils do what they do and living with it. It is incredibly painful and often debilitating to the point where, depending on where they develop, a person can no longer move a certain part of their body because the pain is too much. Sometimes the cysts have to be lanced open and drained or corticosteroid shots are administered directly into the cysts.

My first cyst occurred in my left ear lobe. It was truly terrifying and I had no idea what was going on. I was at a friend's house watching a movie in their basement, and my ear had been in pain for days. It was red, hot, swollen, and I couldn't touch it. Halfway through the movie, I got up to go to the bathroom to check on my ear and found that the back of my ear had sort of split open and it was draining. Thankfully I don't have any scarring there, but when I got home I mentioned it to my mother and she told me that sometimes my dad got those, and he would just put a hot compress on them and it wasn't a problem after a few days. I didn't think to associate it with genetics at the time, but now I know that it is definitely something that can be passed down.

Since then, I've had them on my back, waistline, thighs, in between my eyebrows, on my chin, in my armpits, on the top of my tailbone, on my nose, and a few other places. I'd have to say that the worst was on my tailbone. Because that one takes you to your own special little place in what feels like hell, it even gets its own special name: pilonidal cyst. I had to go the dermatologist and have it lanced (i.e. they stuck needles in a very painful, inflamed part of my body to "numb" the area-- which wasn't very numb when they started squeezing the heck out of it-- and then they cut the area open with a scalpel to drain it). I had to take a lot of time off of work because I simply could not walk, lay down, stand, or sit. Everything was excruciating. The cyst occurred a second time almost immediately and thankfully drained by itself and never reoccurred, but I do have a lot of scarring from that one that I'm very self conscious about. I live every single day in fear that it will come back because I was told that if it ever came back a third time, I would have to have surgery to remove the glands from that area. Don't make the mistake I did and look up "pilonidal cyst surgery," because even if you've never had one you'll probably be paranoid that you'll develop one after seeing that.

The point here is that there is so little information about the disease and so few people talk about it because it is taboo. No one wants to tell someone else that they basically have an infected zit somewhere (possibly very personal) on their body and it's messing with their life. People make all sorts of assumptions about the disease and it makes it extremely hard to talk about, even though I've known at least two other people with the disease for completely unknown reasons.

Fast forward to two weeks ago and I got a cyst under my right armpit, which quickly tunneled under the skin and created several more cysts. I ended up with 5-6 cysts in my right armpit, plus I had started to develop them in my left armpit and those tunneled, creating about three of them. I had been having trouble moving my arms and sleeping since last week, but on Sunday I woke up in the worst pain any cyst has ever given me (besides in 2012), and insurance or no insurance I had Patrick take me to urgent care because I was ready to have someone slice them open. Unfortunately (or fortunately? I'm not sure) there was no clear place to cut and the cysts got to stay while we figured out a different way to treat them.

Since then, I've been on antibiotics (oral and topical) and I've been on a hefty amount of ibuprofen (more than I care to admit because I'm probably destroying my kidneys). To say it's been hell is an understatement. I can't clasp a bra behind my back my myself, I can't lift my arms past shoulder height, I can't shave my armpits, and I can't carry a purse or a bag unless it's for a short distance. My right armpit, which was the worse one when I went in to urgent care, is so much less painful than when I went in that I can't even believe it. My left armpit, on the other hand, seems to be getting worse and I've been having sharp pains and there is a strange redness spreading down my bicep from my armpit. Thankfully I have a follow up with the same clinic today after Patrick is done with work so we will see what the heck is up with that very shortly.

I think the best thing that has happened in all of this is that I finally have an official diagnosis, because I always run into those people who say "well, has a doctor diagnosed it?" and I'm honest and say "well, no" and then they discount any pain or suffering I'm in because someone with a degree hasn't confirmed that yes, I have every single symptom of the condition that I've been suffering from for years.

The crappy part is that even though I have a diagnosis... There's really no way to treat the condition. I've heard that turmeric can help, so I've been taking capsules of that but I have no idea if it's having any effect, and I use Hibiclens to wash the areas that I most often get the cysts, but they still persist. Antibiotics don't always help (although thankfully they seem to be helping in this case) and there are no preventative measures you can take to completely stop getting the cysts that have been proven to work other than surgery (which really butchers the body and includes a lot of skin grafting). I know that I'm fortunate and that my condition isn't nearly as bad as some out there and I'm lucky enough to have avoided surgery and have mostly avoided doctors up until this point, but that doesn't mean my suffering isn't real and it doesn't absolutely suck.

My hope is that I can get my hormones under control (they have been extremely imbalanced lately and I've been trying to get them to balance out, which is what I suspect caused this flare up) and that I won't have to worry about them too often anymore.

Anyway, that's what's up with my health right now and I'm just dealing with the problem until it goes away. Otherwise, I've just been dealing with more of the usual stuff, nothing terrible. I hope everyone (if anyone is reading this at all) is doing well and they never have to suffer through a condition like this one.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Last Day in California, First Day in Oregon, and the Trip Between the Two

Hey everyone!

I don't know why it struck me just now to write a blog, but here we go! I decided that I would let everyone know how we're settling in Oregon the the first few days or weeks, depending on what develops in that time. Lots of my friends on Facebook have liked my statuses regarding our move and our trip, so I figured at least one of you is probably interested (it's probably just my grandma, but that's okay-- hi grandma!).

So first let me recap the last few days/weeks.

Patrick was out of town in New Jersey from August 23 until September 2, and our movers were coming on September 4, so I had a LOT to do. I wanted to make sure that I did as much as possible before Patrick came home because I knew he would be stressed out. I sacrificed my lower back for the job, but I finished everything that I wanted to finish, including but not limited to packing the rest of the kitchen, my bathroom, the various odds and ends throughout the house, all of the art that we had left on the walls. I also finished removing the nails/screws so I could putty over them and reorganizing the boxes in Patrick's office (lots of books, clothes, and those plastic three-drawer cart things that he has packed full of random things *coughpackratcough*), and finally, meticulously and cautiously individually wrapping around 30 bottles of wine. I got it all done-- and then some-- and when Patrick came home he was pleasantly surprised at how little we had to do until the night before the movers came on the 4th. (By the way, a huge thank you and big hugs to Mandy, who went out of her way to purchase bubble wrap for me and come over, one-year-old in tow, to help me pack up the heavier art pieces and move the heavier things out of the office. If not for her, I would have absolutely had back spasms the next day.)

THANK GOODNESS FOR MOVERS. They came at 9AM on the 4th and were done packing in under three hours, so all we had left to do was wait. We organized everything we were going to take with us, I bathed both cats so they would be clean and worn out for the ten hour drive, and after a long nap, we left around 10pm. By the time we stopped at Brook and Mandy's to say goodbye and dropped off the modem at Xfinity, it was around midnight and we started our trip.

The trip went excellent, to say the least. We were thankfully able to stuff every last thing we had planned on taking into the car and were still able to 100% see out of the back window and nothing was on top of or under the cats, who slept 95% of the trip and didn't have a single accident or get sick the entire ride. To say I'm proud of them, and us, is a total understatement.

We rolled in to Beaverton around 9:30AM, however our apartment complex's front office doesn't open until 10am, so we had a little bit of time to kill. We stopped at Xfinity to pick up our modem and grabbed a couple of things from Rite Aid and ended up arriving at the apartment complex at 10am on the dot.

Let it be known that the very first thing we did was lock our car in the garage with the garage door opener inside it, because we have a lot of common sense, don't you know?

We unpacked the car, got the cats settled in, went to lunch with our friend Dennis, went to Target for some essentials and Office Depot because Patrick needed a desk chair (his broke a few months back and he has been using my desk chair, which I need but also is really low quality and isn't good for him to be sitting on while he teaches all day-- plus, we let the movers take it and he teaches two days in a row before they get here and he can't sit on the floor for that), and then I had a nap before dinner.

Now that you all know what we've been doing, I'l let you know how we're feeling and how we like it so far.

Obviously, we're both exhausted. We haven't slept regularly in many days and now we'll be sleeping on an air mattress (thank goodness for Gina and Dennis, who loaned it to us-- we were honestly planning on sleeping on the floor), but we're glad that we are finally here and most of our anxiety is lifted.

Patrick was excited on the way up here because that's just how he is, but I felt differently. When I'm having a lot of emotions, I shut down completely so I don't feel any of them: this is called dissociation. This often happens when you're driving a vehicle-- you pretty much don't notice the road passing around you and your mind wanders until you reach your destination. Dissociation is my go-to coping mechanism for every scenario in my life that I feel I cannot emotionally handle. So yes, I am internally thrilled about this move, but I shut down all emotion because I'm so sad about leaving our friends behind (I did the same thing when I left Michigan, which is why I wasn't a mess then, either). I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I didn't shed a single tear about it this entire time, when usually I'm very emotional. I know it's not healthy, but it's how I cope with big life changes.

Now that we're here, I'm still ignoring the fact that we have moved away from our friends, but I am truly so ecstatic that we're here. First of all, the weather is right up my alley and I'm soaking it all in. I was laying on the floor earlier today, relaxing after moving everything up two flights of stairs (we're on the third floor), and I heard pat pat pat. I thought it was one of the cats eating from their food bowl until it started to get more steady. When I looked outside, I started crying because it was raining and I love rain so much. Next to my family and friends, rain (and weather in general, but especially rain) is the thing I miss most about Michigan.

It's also really chilly right now, especially when it's raining. We only packed summer clothing and we're both pretty cool right now, so we'll be going to the thrift store to pick up a coat and maybe a long sleeved shirt or two soon. I keep saying that when it finally snows, I'm going to lay outside naked and let the cold freeze me to death because I have missed it so much. I'm only exaggerating a liiiiiiittle bit. The worst part about living in Tracy was that it was so hot that you literally couldn't leave the house at certain times of the day. Today, we walked to dinner and did it with great enthusiasm. There is something so energizing about being able to do any sort of physical activity and not want to keel over and die after only a minute or two.

In regards to our apartment-- we LOVE IT.

In our old apartment, we could hear the people next door to us snoring through the walls. Here, the neighbors behind us have a young baby (probably around 1 or so) and we haven't heard a peep out of them. They've been home all weekend. In fact, we can't hear any of our neighbors.

The area we're in is actually really nice and we are in the back corner of our apartment complex so we don't get a lot of traffic or noise in general. We especially can't hear people running around outside (obviously because we're on the third floor), but even so, the people we do hear are very quiet and aren't shouting. We even live near lots of executive areas that have random walking trails on them and beautiful landscaping just for people to walk through, which we're excited about.

The people we've encountered so far have all been fantastic. There's something to be said about the phrase "Keep Portland Weird". I know we're not in Portland (we're about 20 minutes away), but this whole area is so chill and accepting. No one cares what you look like or how many piercings or tattoos you have or what color your hair is or if your clothes aren't their taste-- they care about who you are as a person. We walked through Target yesterday and I made an offhand comment about how much laughter I've heard so far, and it's true. The people here are genuinely happy and friendly. They don't drive like maniacs (and they use hand gestures to thank you for letting them go, like polite people do!) and they even say please, thank you, and excuse me. It's a startling difference from the Bay Area.

Our apartment is so roomy and so well laid out. We're excited to get our belongings and start nesting in it. We also have so much storage that I can't even think up an item, or group of items, big enough to fill all of the space that we have just for storage-- on our patio, in our garage, in our apartment.

And lastly, because our apartments are only about 1.5 years old, we're the second tenants to live in our specific unit. It also means that everything is still basically brand new. We have high end appliances and really nice carpet... It's just thrilling. Our apartment still has the "new carpet" smell, and we even have regular blinds instead of mini-blinds, which is AWESOME.

Today we were supposed to go to the thrift store which we had to cancel so that we could take me to urgent care (I'll probably do a health update soon), but Patrick did make it to Frye's Electronics and Bed Bath and Beyond for a few things that we've been needing while I napped (health issues = very little sleep = exhausted Brook). I'll continue to keep you all updated on the happenings with us. Have a gold star if you've actually read all of this-- I know it was a very long update!