Tag Archives: Health

Effie and blackberries

I took this photo last summer, of Effie slavering over the unripe blackberries she had been checking out. This year she has shown no interest in them at all, even when they were ripe. I think she does really cute things with her tongue.

Her cute look elevated my morale after reading the NOAA wildfire reports and predictions. It was a tad demoralizing to learn that I am not cut out for life on earth, but hey, I’ve had a fair number of decades to prove I am blessed with some kind of knack for survival–aka God’s preserving grace.

I have a wonderful husband, a compatible cat, a pleasant home, and a well-matched church. Smoke happens. I’ve been outdoors only briefly, to run up the hill to get any eggs our hens have laid, and down the hill to pick up our mail. I feel a little cooped up, staying in the house so much, and very ready to get back to fishing in the Snake River again. The fires have kept us from fishing for three whole weeks.

Like most nuisances, smoke doesn’t stay forever.

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Filed under Action & Being, Animals, Nature, Gardens, Cats, Effie, Effieland, Faith, Health, Home Life, News, Photos, Seasons, Weather

Safely out of the canal zone

I’ve had a sinus infection for going on two weeks. If that were not enough, an old pain in one of my teeth returned, right at the site of the root canal my dentist performed five years ago. I aced the procedure, but had zero desire for a replay.

Thursday afternoon, after two days of throbbing, I called my dentist’s office and explained the return of the pain. The sympathetic receptionist worked me in for an appointment Monday. The office is closed Friday, and she told me I should not hesitate to call my dentist on his cell phone Friday if the pain became unmanageable. He would come in to the office with an assistant and check out the problem.

I knew that. My dentist is a superior being. He once met my husband and me at his office, the evening of Memorial Day. He drafted his son-in-law to assist him.

Today is Friday. I awoke to an ancient memory. I have had this pain before. It’s some kind of knack with me, to get sinus infections; I have had a lot of them. The maxillary sinuses have a nerve relay indistinguishably near the back teeth, where my root canal was done.

I checked my back teeth in the mirror. Aha! My gums in the canal zone were significantly inflamed. The connection light finally switched on.

I deduced that the pain had nothing to do with my teeth or the root canal, but was due to sinus inflammation. The throbbing subsided within half an hour after taking an anti-inflammatory combo of ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

I’m still trying to decide whether to take consolation from the theory that, at this point in life, my teeth are better than my memory.

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Getting a grip. . .

My husband and I have determined our ISP to be up for replacement; no further comment. “Lousy” is the strongest descriptor I will use, although I am not unwilling to insert “Comprehensively” as a modifier before “lousy.”

We haven’t watched either presidential debate, but from the news coverage, I wish the media would cover it up more deeply, like out of sight entirely. I’m too easily tempted to watch the invective duel, even though it is a spiritual pathogen. At least with swords, one or at most two people are hurt; with guns one is likely to be killed. Invective duels may wound the spirits of hundreds of millions of people. I remain NOVOFOP (Not Voting For President), a depressing prospect, but necessary for me.

Closer to the upside, I am having an MRI of my elbow Tuesday.  The pleasant woman who called today to confirm my appointment asked whether I weighed more than 350 pounds, the limit of the MRI’s capacity. I couldn’t help laughing as I replied that I actually weigh under 100.

My right elbow was injured in an auto collision in March. The pain has been fairly constant and limiting, and I decided it was time to get it diagnosed, as my doctor has repeatedly suggested. It seems disinclined to heal on its own after seven months, and I want to know what I’ll be living with. One doctor, a pain specialist, suspects a deep tear in a tendon that he says would “require” surgery. No it wouldn’t. There is no compulsory surgery in this country. If I just know what I’m dealing with, I can deal with One More Thing.

Frustration is part of life. Even carefree Effie has her own coping mechanisms, like sharpening her claws on my shin. I don’t know whether she has frustrations, or, if she does, what they are, but she definitely has a good grip. And, like me, she is loved, and she really has it pretty good. ^-.-^

 

p1020318

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Bread and catnip

Because I have Addison’s disease, AKA chronic adrenal failure, it is necessary that I regulate my stress and choose my stressors judiciously. Socializing, travel, noise, and pain are the things hardest on me, but I can control my exposure to three of the four.

Noise is a publicly traded commodity, and there is little I can do about this stressor in my environment. About all I can really do is try to compensate with other calming activity. In the case of excessively barking dogs, which unfortunately is common where we live, but which fortunately is a violation of a county statute, I sometimes resort to calling the sheriff, whose deputies are very responsive, very good at educating dog owners of their responsibilities, and also good at imposing fines on owners who just don’t get it.

Crying babies are different from barking dogs of course, but their vocalizations are just as stressful. All I can do is remove myself from their midst, if possible. If a migraine kicks in, I have something to take for that.

Hyperacusis, or sensitivity to sound, often accompanies Addison’s. A deficiency of cortisol magnifies every kind of stress. People with Addison’s take hydrocortisone to “replace” our excessively low cortisol, but it really isn’t the same as God’s original issue.  The synthetic replacement can’t adjust its level to accommodate our stress levels as does our original cortisol, which modulates to meet the stressful occasion. But the synthetic keeps us from flatlining–a good thing, because cortisol is a hormone necessary to life.

My dear cat can be joyfully entertaining, and she can also be exasperating and stress me into caving to whatever she wants–which is usually to go outside into Effieland, our enclosed garden. But she can’t go out at night, and if she tortures us then, she needs forced cuddling and distractions. Catnip is also a fairly effective antidote to most of her yowling.

Making bread is a pleasant, happy, calm thing I do every week. Gluten intolerance, like noise sensitivity, is chummy with Addison’s. If Effie yowls while I’m making bread, it’s because she knows she’ll score a free safari ticket to Effieland.

I can’t cure my next-door neighbor’s phobia of leaves on his lawn. His gas leaf blower sounds like an XF-84H (I Googled “loudest plane in the world”). Every time a leaf falls, Doug’s on it.

Life is good; Addison’s sucks, but God has made it an instructive limitation.

 

P1020223My bread ingredients and wonderful tools in array

P1020224For Effie, bug watching has its own rewards–for me, too, because her expressions are so delightful.

P1020226Catnip score!

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Kind of a week

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me
!
—Thomas Chisholm (1866–1960)

Annual slamograms, as I, being sensitive, call them, used to be the anti-reward of turning 50; now 40 is the recommended age of welcome to the pink-ribbon rite. (I in no way mean to be cynical; I’m just not a color-code ribbon person.) I’ve done the dutiful thing for a decade and a half, and always received my good-girl “See You Next Year.”

This year’s routine was seasoned with a dash of variety. Calcium deposits had been noted last year, but last week’s annual routine showed the little white dots were starting to become maybe a little too chummy, getting together in clusters. The change wasn’t necessarily sinister, but radiologists don’t think highly of any sort of change that brings no advantage. It was Thursday. Jen told me I would hear from her Monday, only if she had something to tell me; otherwise she’d mail the SYNY report as usual.

I didn’t think about it over the weekend. Monday arrived. My phone rang; of course the hospital’s imaging center number is in my phone. I greeted my favorite technician, “Jen! Who wanted to hear from you today?” Her voice was pleasantly urgent. Could I come for a reshoot that very morning; the radiologist would like to see a different dimension of the clusters. Our new 3-D mammography equipment has reduced the necessity of reshoots 77%. There I go, gate-bounding into the 23% pool. . . . No problem. Reshoot accomplished.

Another call the same afternoon. “Dr. W. wants to do a biopsy. Can you have it tomorrow?” Um, sure. . . .SYNY was definitely no longer protocol.

I had the biopsy Tuesday. It was hard for me. I’m bruised and sore and exhausted. Fibromyalgia, arthritis that makes turning my neck while lying prone excruciating, and adrenal failure (Addison’s disease) aren’t much help, and the best doctor and technicians can’t do anything to make it more comfortable. The technology, advanced as it is, imposes limits that I simply had to endure. Jen promised I’d get a call from the radiologist with the results Wednesday or Thursday; otherwise I was to call her Thursday and she’d find out what was going on.

Throughout all of this, I was uncharacteristically sanguine, confident in a perfect report in the end. I felt nothing but blessed and grateful that everyone was being so wonderful to me and moving things forward so expediently. Even the discomfort of the biopsy beat wondering for weeks whether something was really wrong.

I had no call from the doctor by the appointed time Thursday, and checked in with Jen, who called the pathology people and learned the doctor had ordered additional stain tests that would take an extra day. Good. He’s very thorough.

Today—Friday morning, the faithful thorough radiologist called. All benign. Then he gave me the best medical sign-off there is. SYNY.

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Oases

The word “revive” occurs 10 times in the 119th Psalm; reading the 176-verse Psalm, I thought the Psalmist would have used it more. In any case, God’s promises of reviving us from dispiritedness, upheaval, low times, and ultimately, from death, are sure.

As I read through Isaiah, it is reviving for me to review how much worse everything that I think needs reviving could actually be. The first time I read through Isaiah, about 14 years ago, I was enthralled with the take-down by the Angel of the Lord of 185,000 Assyrians (37:36). I scrawled “Dude!” in the margin of my Bible.

I daily check off new side effects that beset my systems in response to a new medication. But hey–none of them is in the “call your doctor if” column!

Our vacuum cleaner sounds like it has a dying elephant in its motor. I’m not sure yet how the upside of this will pan out. . . but my very dear friend honored me with the epithet “oasis” today, in reference to our near-daily correspondence, improving my perspective immeasurably. We have our faith perspective in common, as well as time of life, health concerns, and anxiety; and we are both blessed with having devoted, level-headed husbands. Mere weak mortal women that we are, we revive one another by our Lord’s grace.

Palm oasis

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“. . .a limit to all perfection. . .”

I’d been feeling more tired and weaker than my usual; in fact, in describing my sense of it to my husband, I likened it to the months preceding my diagnosis of Addison’s disease, back in 2007. We reckoned, apparently correctly, the root of the trouble. “It’s your hormones, Stupid!” Again? After 18 years. . . this was not a good thing.

Without going into detail, I will say the lesson has been instructive: casualties inhere in all quests for perfection.

Part of the trouble is false memory. We think we were perfect at the age we’re trying to return to, but we were not perfect. We were flawed—and worse, designed to play out the universal scheme of entropy. Pharmacology, with all its promises, can’t perfect us decades later, either. Tough.

I’d never had anything but perfect lab tests before in this particular area of my health. But then, I’d never volunteered for this particular test because something was clearly wrong before, either. Suddenly imperfection has hit the routine screen. Nothing urgent, or even sinister, but something materially pre-sinister. And a change in said pharmacology might likely belay any progress of the pre-sinister, or possibly even make it go away entirely.

As I was cleaning a room in our house this morning, I looked up at the framed text of the Heidelberg Catechism, Question 1 on the wall. I gave quiet thanks for being surrounded by reassurances.

I have seen a limit to all perfection; Thy commandment is exceedingly broad.—Ps. 119:96 (NASB 1977)

I’m comported to rebel against the times and seasons of my life that God has faithfully established. My way, at no cost, would be so much better. That’s why I have a Savior. And the husband He gave me.

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At Our Age

My close longtime friend and I correspond frequently about tissue issues: things of topical substance regarding our health that we have in common, things that require so much encouragement and reassurance At Our Age.

When did the importance of lab test results overcome running times and annual miles cycled? Quite a while ago. L.A. Law was still on the air.

Mystery and science coalesce At Our Age. Things can change so fast. I suppose they always did. It’s frustrating. I don’t require affirmation of my frustration, but I am thankful for the affirmation I receive, that things become frustrating At Our Age.

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aftermath

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A few weeks ago, in the course of my so-called routine annual physical–though nothing about my health has ever been routine–my doctor detected a bruit–a too-loud perfusion of blood coursing through my abdominal artery. I asked why; there could be an aneurism, he said. So? I can be fairly phlegmatic about these things. It could hemorrhage, he said a bit impatiently. Would there be help? I asked. There wouldn’t be time! he said. He was becoming quite emphatic; I was becoming a little defensive.

It was hardly my fault, after all. I eat inordinately sensibly, weigh under 110 at 5′-nearly 6″; okay, my cholesterol is 300 but lots of that is HDL, the good kind–and I have, notwithstanding a newly noisy artery, a healthy heart–which, incidentally, according to my doctor, is the typical profile among his hyperlipidemia patients: petite, thin women with low-to-normal blood pressure, and no cardiovascular disease. I try to grin like a typecast super-model for perfect coronary health.

So what do we do now? I ask. He calls to make my appointment for an abdominal ultrasound. I eat a few licorice jelly beans from a bowl at his desk while he is on the phone; his nurse packs the rest up for me to take home. No one in the office likes licorice.

I really wasn’t worried about this, and there was, as I somehow knew, no reason to be. The ultrasound was perfectly normal. Sometimes a thundering artery is just a thundering artery. I thanked God for his mercy; I have known so much of it. So very much.

But while I didn’t actually worry, I did reflect on the possibility of a condition that could actually mean sudden death. (In common parlance, of course, it’s called “life;” but I was thinking about whether it was responsible to drive with a known any-minute condition.) It seemed a peaceful prospect, really. I have no entitlement, after all, to any certain number of years of earthly life. Then I remembered there was arterial surgery for these things and I stopped worrying about the potential inconvenience to the public a spontaneous arterial blow-out might cause.

Instead, I was given a much lovelier thought: one to reserve for an unknown time. Perhaps the difference between life and death is really just a change in the light. . . like the rainbow, that symbolizes our ultimate reconciliation. . . .

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Blood, fog, and arthritis

Saturday my husband and I took an easy and pretty and walk along the river, mostly just admiring the rocky citadel of Snake River Canyon and being glad we live here. The squawky intonations of red-wing blackbirds were fun to hear; these birds don’t make it up to the dry high country where we live.

Hours later, the elbow pain that recently returned from a dormancy phase throbbed mercilessly. Lifting, or even handling objects of any mass at all was clearly interdicted. As if to post a sign as a reminder, my right elbow, fingers, knee, ankle, and instep were very puffed up and bright red. Only my elbow hurt. My left elbow also hurt but showed no inflammation. My left knee sported a rash that didn’t itch or hurt at all. The difference between my right and left sides seemed almost like two different people. It was all very weird, but everything but the elbow pain was gone by morning.

Because I have other autoimmune conditions (Addison’s disease and Sjogren’s syndrome), and have had arthritic deterioration since I was 15, when my knees were found to have chondromalacia, I have somewhat expected rheumatoid arthritis to join the fray at some point, and never really gave it much thought as any big deal. Fibromyalgia, which has been a constant in my life for 30 years, has been a very big deal.

Featherweight class opioids keep my fibro pain manageable for the most part; but I have no way of deterring the dense mental fog that most fibro people call fibro-fog, and which I call transitory braindeath episodes.

I saw my doctor today (Tuesday), to get his take on the right-side inflammation. He ordered some bloodwork to try to identify an underlying cause of what he is now calling my poly-migratory arthritis. I suppose that is better than uni-local get-nowhere arthritis. He sent me to the hospital lab, practically next door to his office.

I was tired. I had spent part of the morning getting myself locked out of my bank’s online banking site for using the wrong password three times. It was the right password, but for a different website. Next door or not, I knew I was too fogged-in to find the lab.

I recognized the lab as I drove around the mazelike hospital complex. I went in and proffered my doctor’s referral. Wrong lab. The intake person gave me directions, but I knew I’d never remember them. I intercepted another employee who somehow realized I was lost and she took me to the right lab. I have no idea what made the lab I could find wrong, and the lab which required me to appropriate an escort to find right.

The technician at the right lab deftly filled three vacutainers with my blood; my only aspiration now was to see my car again. And I did, after maundering around the complex for about 20 minutes. My legs hurt. I felt too defective to ask for help.

I was rhapsodic at the sight of the squatty little wrong lab building, and my beautiful Grünhilde parked in front. Once I was home, my brain relaxed; I was able to find a secret code number scrawled on a 2010 check register, making it possible to reset my online relationship with my bank. I don’t care what kind of arthritis(es) I have, or the cause(s). The fog has lifted. I am just as the Lord would have me.

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