Posts Tagged 'Ailments'



An Update

As many of you are aware, I didn’t post much through the end of last year, my goal of four times a week falling off to once every two weeks or so. I had a lot of things happening, and that intensified through the end of the year with Christmas and then New Year’s.

We put up a real Christmas tree for the first time in something like ten years, had an early Christmas with our son and DIL (Daughter-in-Law) and then exchanged presents on Christmas day itself just with my mother and sister. After that we took off for five days in LA.

Our plans took a shift right off when we encountered a freeway sign not far out of Tucson that advised of major delays west of Phoenix and told all CA traffic to use I-8 through San Diego. It was a bit longer that way, plus we had no maps, and no idea where to stop for food, both of which added time to the trip. We got in around 10:30pm, considerably later than we’d hoped.

We came back the same way, spent some time with Adam and Kim again as we passed through San Diego, and got back around 11:30pm New Year’s Eve — to discover a phone message from my sister, who’d been in town with my mother while we were away. I called her immediately: she’d just left the hospital where Mother had been admitted two days before for confusion, fatigue and fainting, possibly as a result of dehydration. Saturday morning, instead of sleeping in, I was up early and heading for the hospital, where my sister had already arrived. We were there pretty much all day and into the night.

The doctors had done all sorts of tests on my mother’s heart and head and so forth, but could find nothing wrong except dehydration, a low white blood cell count and a really low red blood cell count — anemia brought on by chemotherapy, compounded by lack of eating and drinking. It took two days and multiple bags of fluids and still she wasn’t recovering so late Saturday morning the doctor’s recommended a  transfusion of “packed red blood cells” which is blood with the plasma and platelets removed. At first she was resistant, but upon reflection and discussion decided to go for it. The results were dramatic, as had been promised.

One doctor (the on-call oncologist)  thought she might also have a heart problem or a neurological problem and advised consultation with a cardiologist or neurologist. Another doctor (the emergency room attending physician) thought it all a result of the dehydration and anemia. We still have to follow-up with the primary care and her regular cancer doc (actually his Physician’s Assistant since he’s on vacation).

We saw the primary care today, and he really hammered her with the importance of staying hydrated and eating nutritious food. He said the chemo causes her to not be able to taste anything but what the tongue tastes (sweet, salt, sour, bitter) and thus all the food tastes pretty much the same. But she needs to eat regardless, and especially to drink.

Dehydration not only causes confusion and fainting, but also makes you sick to your stomach and not wanting to eat, contributes to bladder infections, makes you drowsy and foggy, and destabilizes blood pressure.

Anyway, they let her out on Sunday in another orchestration of bureaucratic absurdity where we had to wait around for hours because no one seemed to know that we were supposed to be leaving.

First we waited for the final doctor to see us, only to learn he’d already come in and wouldn’t be seeing us.

Then we waited for a case worker to arrive and tell us there really weren’t any home health care services of value that her insurance would cover, and probably we didn’t need them anyway.  Then we had to wait for another nurse to return from her supposed 30 minute lunch break — which ended up being closer to an hour… I didn’t get home until almost 5 on Sunday.

So. I’ve hardly had time to breathe sine we’ve gotten back…. and yet… I’ve somehow managed to do three blog posts. Amazing.

Okay, time to go eat dinner. V is on tonight! Looking forward to that.

Let’s Try This Again

Well, what can I say? Even once a week seems to have become an impossible goal for me to meet with regard to blogging lately. It didn’t help that I was sick again.

Last time (before Thanksgiving)  it was some sort of digestive flu thing. This time (after Thanksgiving) it was a Perfect Storm of a cold. I still have the last dregs of its symptoms even now at day 12. 

The timing was perfect though. The first two days, when I was still not sure it was a cold, I had to drive my mother to the doctor for a white blood cell stimulating shot. I did that wearing a mask. Saturday, when I usually take her to the store, it turned out she didn’t need to go, which was a good thing because symptoms had begun by then and I don’t think the mask would’ve been up to containing them. Sunday was unbelievable. I could barely function for the sneezing and nose running. My hubby has it now. I hope and pray I won’t get it again. I don’t think I can unless the virus mutates…

Anyway, between that, and trying to catch up on the catching up I was doing when the cold hit, my time and energy for blogging have been more at a premium than ever. And the last time I worked on Sky was last Tuesday. I am at least continuing to move along with The Artist’s Way. I’m starting Week 10 today.  Though I have yet to complete today’s Morning Pages, nor did I do an artist’s date last week (unless wandering around Bookman’s Used Books for an hour looking at books counts) (I guess I can say it does). I did none of last week’s tasks — we were to read our morning pages for the first time since starting them, highlighting insights and actions. I only got the first week’s worth read and never got back to it.

And believe it or not, I’m still fighting about writing the pages. I don’t think I like having to write 3 pages whether I have anything to say or not (although I do always seem to come up with something). And then later, when I do have things to say, there’s no space in the journal that I’m using (specifically designed for morning pages, with three page increments marked out and quotes from the topics of each week’s reading used to embellish the pages) so I have to add overflow pages…  On the other hand, I’m kind of thinking that just the process of writing three pages of stream of consciousness might well be beneficial, just not in the way one would think.

God seems to do be doing a lot with me  along that theme lately… That the purpose in things done or things that occur is not what people see, or what I see but something else entirely. That God’s way of molding us into the image of His son is not anything like man’s way would be (not that man could even do it, but we seem to think he — we — can). That the sufferings we endure change us in ways we can’t really perceive and maybe can’t even imagine, and certainly are not changes we would be able to work in ourselves no matter how much we might want to.

That’s partly come out of the things I’ve been learning from The Artist’s Way.  I think I’ve mentioned that I’ve been highlighting, underlining and writing in the wide margins of the book’s pages as I’ve read and Week 9: Recovering a Sense of Compassion was heavily marked in.

Dare I save further comment on that for tomorrow? Well, one of the “guidelines” I’ve been following lately is “Try it and see.” So I will.

And hopefully I’ll be back to write some more tomorrow. Here’s a teaser, the first paragraph from that chapter:

“One of the most important tasks in artistic recovery is learning to call things — and ourselves — by the right names. Most of us have spent years using the wrong names for our behaviors. We have wanted to create and we have been unable to create and we have called that inability laziness. This is not merely inaccurate. It is cruel. Accuracy and compassion serve us far better.”

 Those who know me or have read this blog for any length of time will recognize not “laziness” but “indisciplined” as my term of choice for why I have been unable to create.  Which is perhaps just another word for the same thing, and just as wrong…

Under the Weather

Why do they call it feeling “under the weather” when someone is feeling sick? Well, let’s see. I can google that… hmm. Turns out the phrase originated in the 1870s and is believed to have been a seaman’s reference to the weather deck on a ship, the topmost deck most exposed to the weather. When they were sick they would rest below the weather deck in their quarters. So says idiomSite. I would add that in bad weather they might also rest there, and in really bad weather most of them would not be feeling well at all.

So. Glad I got that straightened out. It’s a good term then for my latest foible. Last Thursday at 2am I awoke suddenly feeling awful. Hurried to the bathroom, stayed there an hour, but nothing happened except I continued to feel sick. The next morning I still felt bad and figured I should take it easy, using the BRAT diet, but even that was difficult to eat more than a few bites of. At first I thought it might be a result of exposure to my son, who, as I mentioned in a previous post, had come down with a viral infection about ten days before.  Later, I recalled that the side effects of the new prescription for megadose Vitamin D I’d just started taking included nausea, sleepiness and headache. So which was it? Why would I care? Because tomorrow (Monday) I needed to be taking my mother to her second chemo treatment. If I’m sick, I can’t be around her. Well, I called the Nurseline today, and the nurse said that we have to assume I’m sick and someone else would have to take her. But not my husband, who might also be contagious,  just not showing any symptoms.

I called the Pharmacist about the side effects, and the weekend shift person was aghast to think I would be taking so many units and surely that would have more intense side effects. On the other hand, the pharmacist who went over it with me knew all about the recently changed Vitamin D levels and the new treatment for deficiency involving megadoses, and said the old 400IUs was obsolete.

So. Confusion reigns again. The only one who knows anything is the Lord. So after trying to figure out what to do with far too little information for more time than I should have, I finally gave it up and turned it all over to the Lord. My mother would have to find another ride and it turns out she has: the neighbor has agreed to take her. Hopefully she will arrange for the neighbor to bring her back as well, as I urged her to.

So that’s been the Distraction of the Week. But yesterday I decided to stop letting circumstances derail me as they have. In some of the Artist’s Way stuff I read about the notion of having a “studio hour”, wherein the person would go into her studio for an hour every day if only to dust and organize. So I decided to have an office hour. I just have to go in and be there. If only to dust and organize. I cannot however, read blogs.

Actually the blog reading has dropped way off thanks to the tool introduced by The Artist’s Way last week (Week 4): Reading/media deprivation. We were to attempt to refrain from reading for the entire week. I failed miserably — it was during the election after all and we had close races locally. But the exercise has shown me not only how much time it takes but how addictive and really waste-of-time it’s been. So for now I’m cutting back.

And, instead of telling myself I have nothing of interest or importance to write about in a blog post, I told myself to just do it and let it be whatever it is rather than trying to judge it’s worth. That’s Rules of the Road number 9:  “Remember that is it my job to DO the work, not judge the work!”

Thus you have a post to read today!

Time Warp

I feel like I’ve been caught in some sort of time warp. Two weeks seemed to have passed in a flash. I want to thank everyone for their prayers and also  those of you who commented on my last post with your words of encouragement. I greatly appreciate it.

The last ten days or so have been crazy. After the shock of finding out my mother’s cancer was back two weeks ago Monday and her new chemo treatment on Tuesday, we had to come in every day for the rest of the week for her to get shots to build up her white blood cells. Then there were blood pressure issues, which involved much phone tag with the doctor’s office and a new prescription called in to the pharmacy. I also had to set up an appointment for her to get a portacath, and that involved even more phone tag — I’m really starting to see where a cell phone or at least a cordless one would be beneficial. I would step outside to hang out clothes, or just turn off the water and the guy would call and leave a message. Then I’d call him back and leave a message… We did finally get it all settled and she went in Friday to have the portacath placed.

A portacath is a small reservoir and catheter inserted entirely under the skin. The reservoir has a special skin on the top of it that can be pierced by a special needle, which is what they use to draw blood or infuse medications. The catheter runs from the reservoir to a large vein in her neck.

On Friday at 6am we arrived at the hospital for the outpatient procedure. The nurse said I couldn’t come in with her and told me to go home and come back at 10:30am. So I left, went out to the car, parked in the hospital garage and discovered, all out of the blue, that it wouldn’t start. I had to walk almost a mile and a half to her house, to get her car which I then drove to my home. It was God’s provision that I had her purse with me, because that’s where she keeps her extra set of keys. Actually it turned out to be a nice walk, and I enjoyed it. The only downside was that lugging two purses and a bag of books and water did not make my back terribly happy. And when it’s unhappy, it tends to interrupt my sleep…

To further complicate matters, my hubby had left the day before to go hunting and was in the mountains, completely out of contact. He left without knowing when he’d be home… possibly not for several days. Meanwhile, our son and daughter-in-law were due to arrive that same day and wanted to spend time with us/me that night…

But I’m getting ahead of myself. At 10:30 I drove my mother’s car back to the hospital and picked her up. The procedure had gone without a hitch and she was doing well. I took her home, and since she still can’t drive (waiting now, for glasses to arrive) I took the car with me to my home.

I prayed that Stu would get a deer Friday morning and come back. That was unlikely, and even if he did, he’d really have to push it to get back in time to visit with the kids, so I wasn’t surprised when they arrived and he wasn’t there; nor was I when he wasn’t back by bedtime.

My twitching back woke me up Saturday morning about 4:30, a time I’ve come to call the carnal hour for the way things that normally wouldn’t bother me get all blown out of proportion. I thought about the car in the garage, and whether security would come and tow it, or vandals would scrawl graffiti over it. Finally I had to put the whole matter firmly in God’s hands. It’s His car, He would have to take care of it. I drifted back into sleep and about an hour and a half later, Stu came in the door — having gotten his deer late Friday afternoon, then working all night to get it out. (He’d hiked in and had to carry it out, all uphill. It took him five hours, in the dark).

On Saturday, after I had taken my mother to the grocery store (except for two small, sutured incisions she was almost entirely recovered from the portacath insertion) and Stu had slept a bit, he and I returned to my car still parked safely and without graffiti in the hospital parking garage — the battery was dead, he jumped it and we went to Autozone and the guy put in a new one. All better. I love the way God works.

Sunday we went to a party at the grand-inlaws’ house in honor of my DIL’s grandfather turning 80. Adam cooked the steaks — they were very good — and Kim made an amazing German Chocolate Cake from scratch. Yummm! We had a really nice time. The kids left to drive back home on Monday.

Meanwhile my mother and I returned Monday morning to the oncology center to try out the portacath for a blood draw. My mother was still losing weight, and the doctor kept suggesting things she “couldn’t” do — things like snack or eat more protein and fat — until he was banging his forehead with his hand. Finally he prescribed for her a medication that is supposed to increase appetite. She took it for about three days, then decided it was making her itch and quit. We had to go in Tuesday and Wednesday for more white blood cell stimulating shots. Wednesday I had a doctor’s appointment of my own as well, then returned home to find a message from Kim that after she and Adam had returned home on Monday night, Adam had gotten really sick and Tuesday night they took him to Urgent Care with a fever of 105. He was given fluids and Tylenol and was told there was some sort of problem with his liver… Liver?! By then the hits were coming so fast and furiously — and obviously — I was almost at the point of laughing. (But not quite)

Now, almost a week later, it turns out Adam had some sort of unidentified viral infection that must be allowed to run its course and from which he is steadily recovering. The liver problem readings were a result of the fact that he’d been vaccinated years ago for Hepatitis B.

Thankfully this week has been much calmer than the last two. Through it all, though I have gotten no writing done, I have continued with The Artist’s Way, with the Lord’s blessing it seems from the way He keeps working not only the daily Bible classes along with it, but other things as well. I even managed to finish reading a novel on Sunday that related in a very weird way. But this post is already too long, so those subjects will have to wait for another day.

Bad News

On Monday I took my mother in for her monthly treatment of maintenance-dose chemo-lite plus a bone-strengthening medication. We always see the doctor first and he had the results from the PET scan she’d had last week. (One which he’d ordered back in June, but which had been denied by the insurance company, thus necessitating filing an appeal before it was accepted). The results were not good. Her cancer is back and this time it’s widespread: spine, skull, clavicle, liver… other places I can’t recall. So he wanted to immediately begin a new regimen of treatment, but they didn’t have the drug he wanted to use.

Since her veins are objecting to being stuck as much as they have been, we decided to come back Tuesday when the medication would be available and do both infusions with one “stick.” The drip of the new drug was so slow (to prevent allergic reaction) it  took three hours. She’s also scheduled to have a portacath inserted before we go back next week for the doctor to check her white blood cell count. She seems to be handling it well. At least as well as can be expected. I was in a sort of shock for half the day on Monday, because while I expected the cancer would return, I didn’t think it would be quite this soon. Even though this is about the same length of time that passed the last time she had treatment and apparent remission and then a recurrence. Of course with the PET scan having been initially denied, we don’t know what the situation was when she ended treatment last summer, but she did enjoy a couple of months of feeling pretty good before things started to go downhill again.

This time we’ll go in every three weeks for the chemo. My biggest concern is her weight. She’s lost thirty pounds since this all began and she doesn’t have much more to lose, but it is extremely difficult to get her to eat when she’s not feeling well. It doesn’t help that she’s a vegetarian who doesn’t eat milk-products, because that makes it harder to slip in high protein/calorie mini meals — people keep suggesting a milkshake but she doesn’t drink milk. Or soy milk. And doesn’t like Rice milk. I’ve offered to come over and cook some meals for her and if she takes me up on it, that might help. We’ll just see how it goes.

So, to anyone who feels led, your prayers would be appreciated.

Another Day I Didn’t Plan

Quigley has some bumps on his head around his ears. He’s had them for a couple of weeks it seems and after several days of waiting for them to subside, or thinking they might be getting worse, and  then wondering what they were, and speculating all over the map, suddenly TODAY I decided they were getting worse.

In my examination I found what I thought was a blob of sap on his neck under his ear, got the mayonnaise to take it off, and discovered the hairs coming off with the mayo and underneath, very definitely a lesion.

So I called my hubby about taking Q to the vet. After discussion, Internet research, and more discussion, we agreed that’s what needed to be done. I called, thinking no way he’d get in today, but… they had an opening in an hour from when I called.

Quigley LOVES going to the vet. He gets so excited. He jumps up on the counter in the reception area, wants to smell everything, jumps up on the counter in the exam room, because he knows right where the treats are, or wants to help with the computer. He jumps up to greet strangers, as well…  He’d really like to get hold of one of those stethoscopes everyone seems to carry around.

Despite all that, everyone seems to love him. He’s very good about holding still for the doctor to examine him or the animal tech to take his temperature. If I could just figure out how to break him of the jumping up on people he’d be perfect.

Anyway, the bumps are not an allergic reaction as we’d thought, but probably the result of bug bites, maybe ants since we recently had a big problem with them, and/or bacteria. The lesion she said was definitely bacteria, so he’s on antibiotic for the week. At which time all the bumps should be gone.

Anyway, we got home around 1, I caught up on all the regular things I didn’t do, ate lunch and then just crashed, that no doubt the result of going to bed at midnight and waking up at 6… so I took a nap. 🙂

The Second Cataract

Well, I didn’t intend to let the entire week pass without posting, but once again, all my time and energy were taken up with the second round of cataract surgery, which began last Tuesday with pre-0p eye drops. Wednesday was the surgery day, across town, and she was a bit more out of it after the sedative wore off than before so I stayed with her til mid afternoon. Plus we had the whole drop schedule to fit in that day after the surgery.

This time I’m not having to do drops five times a day, only three, as my mother has learned to do her own with the drops she doesn’t have to worry about using up. The antibiotic drops, which come in a teeny bottle (“teeny” being smaller than “tiny,” you understand), cost $74 with insurance, and have to do for both eyes. Since she had a history of missing her eye with the drops, and friends told her they measure out the drops on a how-many-days-needed basis, I’m doing those. It’s all going pretty well. Only two more days of this regimen left.

She’s finally seeing better without her glasses than with them, and only uses them to read. It’s nice to start having a payoff for all the trouble she’s been through.

I’m hoping to get back to work on Sky tomorrow! That would be a novel experience. LOL!


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