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Well, tis done. A week ago I got a whole new hip. The surgeon who was there when I opened my eyes told me so. And the whole episode was a kind of strange other-worldly experience.

PRE-SURGERY I stayed in a hotel in a handicap room with a “roll-in” shower.

I figured if I could roll in, I could walk in.

Not so.

I managed to slip on the very slick floor and thought I landed close to the bad hip. Then dragged myself to a carpeted room, and decided since there was no intense pain anywhere I could stay mum about the fall and go forward with the operation in the morning.

And that is what happened.

All went well in the morning including anesthesia with numbing of the back and me asleep in a flash with no nausea or any distress upon awakening!

But the saga went on.

It was agreed I would spend one night in the hospital. I was off to my own little room and bath and right next to that was a man who began a long diatribe of groaning, moaning, swearing, praying, and screaming. With colorful language and an actor’s ability to project, I began wishing relief for him via a sedative.

The nurses on the ward were in a constant huddle whilst taking abusive language as he was shouting, “Please, PLEASE, PLEASE! DO SOMETHING. I AM NOT GOING TO MAKE IT. HELP ME!!! OHHHHHHH, AAAAARGH, OWWWW, JESUS, DEAR GOD”, etc.

His language was so colorful and the nurses were so distraught that it became like an exciting audio story with dramatic sound effects.

Through this drama, nurses were still tending to other patients and would come in to check on me and would provide updates. Some said there was no reason for him to be carrying on like that, and how they were trying to get an on-call surgeon to come in. It was around 4:30 AM when I learned the Moaning Man was finally given morphine and was asleep which could not be said of the other patients on the ward.

The Moaning Man turned out to be a blessing because he actually kept my mind off my hip and on him.

I have been home a week since then and doing the exercises, walking inside with a walker, being pampered by Bill, son, daughter-in-law, and my three grandgirls.

All seems to be going well with more news to come as I progress from a slow gimpy gait to racehorse status.

So, how was your week?

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Hospitals are for other people.

Hospitals are o.k. if you are young and strong.

But now in a golden year and facing a hospital visit soon, I am grinning and bearing the notion that I am now one of those others.

Putting my right hip in for removal and replacement sounds easy peazy these days but the preparations and advance appointments are daunting, especially when a “post-op appointment” is scheduled for 3 days before the surgery.

Good thing my golden year left me with a golden eye that is able to catch errors!

Then there were two sets of lab work (in better words – “blood letting”.)

The first blood tests went well.

The second was conducted by a novice who, in an effort to collect seven vials, left my left arm a rainbow of black, blue, yellow and red bruises as evidence of cruel and unusual punishment.

My tests are clear though.

The Dentist says I am good to go.

The General Practitioner says so too. And after he proclaimed a clean bill of health he actually gave me a big hug and wished me luck. This had the dual effect of making me smile in the knowledge my doctor of over 20 years really cares and/or making me worry that he is secretly afraid he will never see me again.

Speaking of never seeing me again, I happened to be scanning Google stuff on surgeries and came across the little known fact that more people die in surgeries performed on Fridays! Wouldn’t you know it? I am scheduled on a Friday!

But, going on the premise that I will be the standout survivor of a Friday massacre,

I am practicing breathing into a gadget, doing simple exercises, trying to walk, and

the pre-op appointments that were scheduled correctly are now almost over.

Note: BigFoot is still affecting the Left extremity but sends regards. I keep mentioning to the orthopedic experts how BigFoot started over on the left ankle, swelled, moved around and is still capricious. But no one in the medical establishment pays a bit of attention. Evidently surgeons specialize in only one thing at a time and BigFoot will just have to wait.

Well the day is drawing near!

Please wish me luck my friends in the blog-us-fear.

There will surely be stories to tell when this is all over.

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I love Spring in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. ‘Tis really the season for beautiful color and the clean clear beauty of nature’s reawakening. Even the deer begin boasting their new babies. And I feel happy and productive and eager to think about planting more flowers. But thinking is not doing and since I am still a slow motion walker waiting for a hip replacement I have not injected myself into the wild.

Photo taken by Daughter-in-Law, Emmy – Virginia Redbud

Spring is is also a time of imminent threat from the wild. Whether you go outside to feel your toes in the grass or not.

Three days ago I felt an itchy place on my back just below the left shoulder. A hot shower helped and I thought nothing of it.

Two days ago, the itch was back so I took a look with the help of a hand mirror and saw a red place with a slightly dark center. I asked Bill to take a look with a magnifying glass and he did. He said, there was nothing there…. maybe a little raised mole. So I put some anti-itch gel on it and went to a peaceful slumber.

Yesterday the itch was back in full force and when I looked at it with the hand mirror there was a pronounced dark center, much larger. Bill took a look too and said “it” (the dark center) was kind of hanging loose so he removed it. In my opinion it was a well fed deer tick! And I was immediately off to the doctor.

Results:

  1. It was probably a tick. An adult deer tick is the size of a poppy seed. There are no charts or photos I know of that show a well fed deer tick as opposed to a hungry one.
  2. The doctor said if you check yourself all over each day and you happen to take off a tick, no medication is necessary.
  3. Because I came in early, I only had to have two antibiotics immediately… no more.
  4. Evidently, if you have a tick bite and remove it within 34 hours, you will not need meds.

I am still confused over all of this.

Seems to me, you should report a tick bite no matter what. My niece contracted Lyme and suffered with it for many years.

Anyway, in addition to gimpy walking I now have the remains of a bite on my back. The culprit escaped a plastic bag I swear I sealed. He was a major escape artist.

The doctor’s answer for this latter issue was to put a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover in the bag with the tick. He will then suffocate and die but his body will stay in tact for identification! More than I want to know.

I dislike ticks and other bugs, but do I hate them enough to become a wanton murderer?

‘Tis the season all right.

Spring has sprung in all its glory.

But there is a downside to living in paradise.

Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia

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It has been a very long year – well, almost a year – of high hopes and plans to get the much ballyhooed Covid-19 vaccination. Bill and I have followed all the rules and pretty much hunkered down and separated from family and friends.

And since I am still having trouble walking with a BigFoot that moved to the other foot and then from those two feet to the knees and then to my right hip, Bill is the “outside man” for shopping and errands and I am the “inside woman” with the chores I can handle.

We both decided months ago that we would get the vaccine ASAP! “We will be at the top of the list,” we thought, “because we are over 65!”

That was before a doctor I admire warned that if I was waiting for a vaccine, it would be a long wait. He was sure all the healthy young people would get it first. It made no sense to him but that is what he believed. “And why should I get it before you do when you are at the most risk from dying?” he asked.

Now it looks like we are actually closing in on qualifying for the arm jabs that hopefully will ward off death.

It sounds like vaccination appointments will be coming up over the next two weeks in our Central Shenandoah Health District in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Yes!

Finally there are notices that we are moving into Phase 1b in our specific district!

So why am I plagued with ongoing questions?

  • Is this cause for hope and celebration?

I have a more “believe it when I see it” attitude.

  • Will we really get the first shot?
  • And will we really then get the second one?

Somehow I am not sure of the value of our lives.

  • Will there be enough left for us after the masses of younger Essentials?
  • Will we have bad reactions?
  • How long will the protection last?
  • Will we have to get re-vaccinated every year?
  • Would it be better to wait for the one dose vaccine?

We are on the brink of beating the horrible virus that took over so many lives. At least that is what the experts keep telling us.

When we have passed the finish line and all of us have won the race for immunity, I will try to write another blog post in a real celebration for all the questions answered and all the lives saved.

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I was waiting to be called in to see the doctor re BigFoot (now on the opposite foot!) Feeling sorry for myself too, out in public in the middle of a pandemic, masked among other anonymously masked people.

On top of the doom and gloom mood I was in, it was raining hard and I wasn’t feeling a bit cozy even though I was dry.

Then a beautifully dressed woman came in. She was maybe in her 60’s. And with her was a little stooped man, also impeccably dressed. He looked like an English magazine ad for what to wear to look prosperously elegant.

“What an interesting duo,” I thought.

They went to the reception counter where the little man was asked his birth date. Around here in Virginia’s medical communities we seem to be known more for our birthdates than for our names. Anyway, here was the little man’s answer:

“July 12, 1918 – I have been around for awhile.”

That makes him 102 years old!

And then he walked by me, looked down and said, “Good morning.” It was 2PM in the afternoon but so what? And I replied “Good morning to you.”

That encounter literally made my day, cheered me out of my doldrums and gave me hope. I have never met a 102 year old person, have you? What a wonder that was. And I could tell he must have been and probably still is great fun.

A people person. A man who lives for rainbows.

A man who is young at heart.

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I am an expert at waiting:

  • Always the one who is dressed and ready to go first,
  • Always early to arrive for appointments,
  • Always flexible about time constraints,
  • I usually wait double time since I arrive early and others arrive late

Imagine all the waiting required over a lifetime – a half hour here, an hour there, etc.

Turns out even I (the expert at waiting) can be surprised stunned.

The general concensus among orthopedic experts is that I need a hip replacement. Yes, another complaint has emerged about one of two lower extremeties.

Yesterday I went to a highly recommended surgeon who, after double XRays, agreed that the hip on the opposite side of BigFoot needs replacing.

“You could get in for surgery soon with one of my partners. But I am booked through the summer of 2021,” he said.

What?

Did I hear that right?

A year?

2021?

I would have to wait a year?

In bewildered shock I answered, “It seems you are the best surgeon for this and of course I want the best. Maybe I could tough things out.”

The doc did not seem surprised as he outlined the plan. “My nurse will call you with a date,” said he. And then they gave me a folder on exercises to do post surgery as well as what to expect in the hospital.

Are they serious?

In a year there may be technological advances that would call for exercise instead of surgery!

In a year I might be DOA from Covid-19. Notice how I can talk in initials now?

In a year I may be too old for surgery.

In a year ANYTHING could happen.

I still cannot imagine WAITING A YEAR for a date with a surgeon can you?

On the other hand, I am an expert at waiting.

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I am one of those people with invisible veins.  I hate getting blood tests!  They leave me slightly nauseous, sometimes black and blue.

This leads me to my most recent blood letting encounter during the time of Covid-19.

First off, the sweet girl who first made my doctor’s appointment, said she would fax the blood test order to the lab.  In about a week I was mentally and emotionally sort of ready but had a funny feeling that nothing had been faxed, so I called to check.

Sure enough.  It had not been done.  But the next sweet girl who spotted the mistake said she would fax the order over immediately.  I took her at her word.

O.K.  I was again sort of ready.  It was early Friday morning and I had fasted for 12 hours, drove to the lab and then stood outside in the fresh air with mask on.  A sweet girl asked a series of questions regarding any possible virus exposure, then put a little squirt of hand sanitizer in my hand and said, “Sign in at the desk” and then sit in any chair with orange tape (the chairs were 6 feet apart to honor social distancing).  There were only one or two chairs left because the place was packed.

I was greatly impressed by all the protective measures, that is until following orders, I went to the desk to sign in.  There was a pencil on a string that loomed larger and larger in my imagination.

Who exactly had touched that pencil?

Where had their hands been until they reached the sign-in point?

Yes, I was given hand sanitizer but was it enough to make me sterile?

If I touched that pencil would I die?

Was it worth it?

I mean, to die following orders?

You can tell, I am a follower of orders AND a worrier.

But I did sign in using that contaminated, pestilence covered pencil!

And I made a note of the date to count off the days til I would come down with the virus!

But the story continues.

I waited and waited and waited.  I waited an hour.  And while I waited a young woman came to the door and was answering all the probing questions.  “Have you been around anyone who tested positive for the coronavirus?”  Her answer was, “Yes.”   (!!!!!!)

At that point, I left.  That was Friday.

On Monday I returned and the lab was again packed so I turned around and went to the doctor’s office to tell them I could not get a blood test in preparation for the appointment.  They changed the appointment to give me more time.

On the third try, I fasted from 10PM to 10AM and went to the lab again. This time I was the only person there!

The problem was they did not have an order from my doctor!  So, the second sweet girl forgot to fax the order over too.  This was beginning to literally be a comedy of errors!

Fortunately my blood-letter lady called the doctor’s office and they faxed it over while we sat and chatted.  Thankfully, I was the only patient in the place. And my blood-letter was an expert and got what she needed on the first try.

Now let’s hope the blood test shows everything normal and that I will not have to get another test for 6 months or a year.  And mostly, let’s hope I am mistaken about the Pandemic Laden Pencil used for sign-in at the lab!

 

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Many steps from house to pool.

Thirty years ago, when we built our little house in the country, we had an in-ground pool installed at the same time.

I insisted we live by water and Bill insisted on a woodstove instead of a fireplace.  It was a compromise.

The end result was a heavy-duty woodstove in the middle of the living room and a swimming pool!

As it turned out, that woodstove grew on me, maybe because it saved our lives through many a frigid winter.

And the pool meant happy memories with our son and the grandgirls, friends who visited, and our two golden retrievers who loved anything water.  Swimming in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia has always seemed to me to be the ultimate luxury.

Oh, and I forgot – there was once a horse in our pool, but that is another story.

But now (due to sheltering in place from Covid-19)  we are pretty much the only swimmers.  We invite Elsa-the-dog to join in but she is suspicious of so much water.

On July 3rd I was determined to get into the old pool and paddle around as a prelude to celebrating Independence Day 2020.  A swim would also be good for Old BigFoot.

But as enticing as it is, getting to the pool is now an enormous challenge.  Navigating all those steps is out of the question since there are many steps down, and the only other way (I thought) was walking down over uneven terrain.

Then there were the endless preparations… What to take…

  •  A water dish for Elsa.  Treats for Elsa.  A leash for Elsa.
  • Towells, walking stick (cane), suntan oil, bug repellent, sunglasses, first aid supplies.
  • How to get down there.  The pool is not far if you can walk.  May as well be to the moon for BigFoot.
  • Bill to the rescue!   “We will take the car!” said he.  And Elsa jumped into the backseat thinking it was another ride.
  • And off we went for a one minute drive around the house to wind up at the pool.

It was an unceremonious but successful arrival. 

Elsa would not even consider getting near the water.

Instead she began tentative explorations and found shady spots (to shelter in place).  In fact she found a cave under one of the big evergreen bushes where she was cool, hidden from danger, and could watch for bears in case the peeps needed protection.

BigFoot loved the swim and was already plotting how to get down there again without the mortification of being driven! 

The only concern is that Bruno-the-Bear or his sister would decide to join in, but there is always Elsa for protection.

Do you think she would emerge from her new private dog-cave-digs to scare off another bear? 

 

 

 

 

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photo of lightning

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An old friend called.  It has been years since we talked and odd that we were both complaining about the aches and pains that have beseiged us.  And that led my friend to share some of her remedies for success.

She started by recommending a book called “Quench,” a treatise on the value of staying hydrated for optimum health.  I never heard of it of course and I was intensely interested so immediately purchased that book.  It all made perfect sense and I began to implement the suggestions.

Quench, by Dana Cohen:

“Based on breakthrough new science in the field of hydration, Quench debunks many popular myths about “getting enough water” and offers a revolutionary five-day jump start plan that shows how better hydration can reduce or eliminate ailments like chronic headaches, weight gain, gut pain, and even autoimmune conditions.”

Another area my friend spoke of was a concept called “earthing” or “grounding”, both of which advocate so many minutes of the day going barefoot outside in the grass or on the ground such as at the beach.  That also made perfect sense.  I grew up going barefoot in Florida.

However, being older now and living in a mountain paradise instead of seaside:

  1. Earthing would expose one to tick bites and onward to Lyme Disease, which is a prevalent problem now in Virginia.
  2. We sometimes get serious snow and ice here too and going barefoot might result in frozen toes, gangrene, and possible amputation.
  3. Of course there is always an alternative and they do sell mats and things that can be plugged in to electrical outlets that would give you the grounding benefits and allow you to stay inside.
  4. On the other hand, being a worrier, I would fear electrocution!
  5. Or in the worst case, the only thing I would have to fear is fear itself, which would ground me so that I would be afraid to even leave the house (shades of Elsa-the-Dog).

As for Quenching:

  1. I think the hydration idea is good.  I actually tried it, but it did not work since I was i up all night with runs to the bathroom.  In the end I suppose the need for sleep became more important than the need for hydration.
  2. In reality, I still believe hydration is terribly important for good health, so I would not discount quenching as a positive therapy.  You can find the book, “Quench” on Amazon.

In my case, however, it became choices between Lyme Disease, amputation, and sleepless nights.

To be sure, I do not wish to make fun of my friend’s remedies.  They are really working for her and she is so excited about her discoveries, she wished to share.  And I love her for that.

Earthing is a concept that is still floating (forgive the pun) around in my head anyway and if I could get by the electrocution part, I might invest in one of those mats.

“… Throughout history, human beings have walked barefoot on the ground, releasing electrical tension naturally and preventing its accumulation. When the human being is in contact with the earth, either because he is barefoot or through any conductive object, whether it is a metal bar, a wire, a tree or a plant, this silent energy from the earth is transferred naturally…”   Author unknown.

 

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neon signage

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I like to say I am growing old instead of already old.  It gives me a better feel for how to feel when the most vulnerable population to the Covid-19 virus is touted as 60+ or 80+ or somewhere inbetween.

In any case, there always seem to be new rules about coping with this virus.  I know you are dying to hear them…. forgive the pun.  The world is coping but there are consistently more confusing theories about how the virus is spread and regulations regulating how we should lead our lives in the midst of what I call Viral Confusion.

For instance:

When I was a kid, you did not go to a doctor unless you were sick – maybe even really sick.  That seems to be the case now too.

2020 Pandemic Rules

Do not go to a doctor unless you feel sick.  And even then, call first to see if he/she will let you in.  Will this eventually even lead to doctors making house calls again?  When our son developed a very high fever, panic set in and we called the doctor who came to our house in 20 minutes, but by that time, the fever was gone.  And I don’t think the doc even charged for the visit!

Ah for the good old days.

Do not go to a dentist unless you have a bad toothache.   Dentists are just now reopening in my neck of the woods and I think they can be called for more mundance things like cleaning.  Check to be sure where you live.

But in the good old days, Mom would give me a clove to suck on or an ice cube – anything but the dentist – to cope with pain.  She was deathly afraid of dentists but finally when I was 14 and had a bad toothache, she made an appointment.  The dentist found one cavity for every year I had lived and I spent the next 14 weeks getting cavities filled (minus Novocaine!).  In those days you raised your hand if the pain was too bad.

Did I say I was growing old or already old?  Is pre-Novocaine ancient or what?

Ah for the good old days.

The new scary deadly virus has made me re-evaluate the wonders of staying home.  But what about positive changes?  Take clearer water.  They say you can see the fish in Venice canals now. I would love to take a gondola ride again but this time in clear water.

And now that there is more testing going on, some say if you are blood type O, you have a better chance of not catching the virus or maybe even surviving it.  Maybe I can go out sans mask and celebrate shoulder to shoulder in a crowd since I am in the O category.

Or if your ring finger is shorter or longer than the rest, you may or may not be in trouble re the virus.  I keep forgetting to size my ring finger.

And how about the urge to flush the toilet without putting the lid down?  Do you know how volatile the spray can be as you flush?!

Screaming spreads more virus than talking.  Talking may be the New Nasty Culprit that spreads the damned thing.

Disinfecting every surface on earth is no longer advised but don’t stop washing your hands.  You may have touched something evil.

All this speculation makes me wonder what people did in the real good old days of The Plague and Cholera.  The more I hear or read, the more I ponder this pandemic and all its pros and cons.

Stay Safe is the new Farewell, especially in our emerging “New Normal.”

Stay Safe my friends.

Stay Safe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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