Thursday, October 29, 2009

In Which I Explain My Absence

Well, dear blog friends, it's been awhile. Since my last post my medical problems intensified - what was "just the flu" turned into pneumonia (although I didn't know it).

Last Sunday I missed church again. (Highly unusual for me. I think I'm now our church's youngest shut-in at this point...) Philip called our regular doctor Monday morning. This is how you know your symptoms are serious: the dragons guarding the doctor's office receptionists get you in within two hours that same morning.

My dad took solo baby-sitting duty so that Philip and I didn't have to take the girls to the appointment. We only waited a little bit before a nurse called us back. She took all my vitals, asked a few questions and almost immediately, my doctor came in. My doctor is a very kind, sensible man. He doesn't talk down to you or use so much "doctor-speak" you can't understand him. He did the usual doctor stuff, asked a few questions, and then sent me for a chest x-ray (in the same building).

Chest x-ray? How exciting. Did you know that you have to stand up straight, curl in your shoulders and hold your breath for a chest x-ray? Do have any idea how hard that is to do when you can't breathe? I do.

Then I carried the case with my x-rays (I think I had two or three taken) back to the exam room. The nurse came for them so the doctor could look them over and he was, quite quickly, back in my room. He told us that radiology would confirm the diagnosis within a day but he was already sure I had pneumonia and he was concerned about two things specifically: my heart rate was very high and my oxygen levels were very low.

He told us about the medicines he was prescribing and about some of the over the counter things I should take as well and then he looked at me and told me, "I'm throwing everything and the kitchen sink at this. I don't have anything to do after this. If these don't work, we're out of options and you'll need to be hospitalized."

!!!

He explained carefully everything to us what was going on and why I might need to be hospitalized. He told Philip to keep a close eye on me and if anything got worse to call him and we'd start admission.

Scary stuff, to say the least. Anyway, we filled the prescriptions (including the most expensive antibiotic ever, but hey, if it keeps you out of the hospital...) and headed home. I tried to eat something (I hadn't been eating much for the past few days) and then took my first five pills.

Not happening: everything came back up. Now that's a bad feeling. I went to bed immediately, unable to eat anything or take any medicine. How are you supposed to get better when you can't even take your medicine?!

A few hours later I tried to eat again and then took the antibiotic. So far, so good. I managed to choke down a few of the other pills. Then I didn't sleep again for about 24 hours, as a side effect of one of my medicines.

And have I mentioned the fact that I turned pink and white in a full body rash? No? Well, that happened too.

Tuesday morning my doctor called us, both to check on me and to tell us that radiology had confirmed pneumonia and I would need to come back for more x-rays in a few weeks (assuming I didn't end up in the hospital) to be sure everything was healing as it should. Philip asked the doctor whatever questions we had about the illness and medicines. Philip was most concerned, I think, about how exactly he was supposed to keep my oxygen level from dropping when he had no way of measuring it. (Doctor's response: If she gets worse in any way at all, call me.)

So, anyway, that's where things stand right now. I think I'm getting better but my lungs still protest. I can sit up for awhile and even do a few small things with the girls but I haven't been anywhere yet and even the thought of walking around anywhere just makes me tired. I'm still taking all my medicines (and will be for at least another week), even though I very much dislike some of them, and I'm trying not to look at the house because two weeks is a long time for a homemaker to not make her home and you can just imagine the rest. (Very Important Note: Philip has done an amazing job taking care of me, the girls, and all his usual obligations.)

I think I can honestly say I have never been this sick before in my life so it's a new experience for me. I'm so thankful for all of you who have been praying for us and helping us. I hope to be back to at least a semblance of my regular life within a few days, but we're taking one day at a time here and I suppose that's all I can ask.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

In Which I am Quite Sick

It now appears I can blame my grouchiness of a few days ago on my health. While I grumbled to you folks, my body was busy coming down with the flu and cooking up two major infections on top of that (sinus & ear). As I will now elaborate all my health problems, I shall now offer you the chance to stop reading.

Have you looked away yet?

Friday afternoon I started feeling sneezy, achy, feverish, and so on. (Sounds like Snow White's Seven Dwarves, doesn't it?) I dosed up on over the counter medicine and went to bed. I woke up at 1:30 AM, drenched in sweat and shaking. After that I couldn't get comfortable as I was either shivering with cold or burning up.

Despite all that, I wouldn't have gone to the doctor at all (I can be stubborn like that) but then I woke up Saturday morning in the most intense ear pain I have ever had, and believe me when I tell you, I know about ear pain. One of the less beloved traits inherited from one side of my family (not to name names) is a propensity for ear infections. Specifically, the little tubes inside my head are just that: little. And it doesn't take much to fill them with whatever nasty fluid my head concocts.

From my excessive ear infection history, I knew that the next thing would be my ear-drum bursting and I almost hoped that it would, because at least then it wouldn't hurt so much (the gross stuff thereby leaking out and all pressure relieved). However, this is not really a good idea because it takes the ear-drum a while to heal and several years ago (back when Tigger was a baby) I had such a severe ear infection and ear-drum tear that the doctors began to warn me I might never recover full hearing. Many medicines later, those fears were eased, but it was a long and worrisome thing.

Prince Charming went to visitation at our church, the girls tried to play quietly, and I attempted to go back to sleep. I felt completely exhausted of course, after that night, but I couldn't sleep because of my ear. When Prince Charming returned I practically begged him to take me to the doctor. (I'm pretty sure I was crying fairly non-stop at this point, but maybe I imagined that.)

He called our family doctors, who oh so not-helpfully informed us that I could come in Monday. So we went to an Urgent Care, where I know I must not have been feeling well since I didn't take off my jacket and shoes before they weighed me. (I mean, really, who needs the extra weight?!)

The nurses took my vitals and asked questions, most of which Prince Charming had to answer since I couldn't a) hear very well and b) be bothered to speak. Then we were back out in the waiting room where we...waited. And waited. And waited. Then it was back into an exam room where we, naturally, waited some more.

At this point one of the nurses came in, wearing a mask and brandishing what looked like a very large q-tip. Nothing good can come from this. She told me they were going to test me for the flu. She told me she would have to swab my nose, which didn't sound too bad, but let me tell you, it felt like she was trying to shove that cotton swab up to my brain. And for her next trick: the other nostril! Let me just say that I have an entirely new appreciation for the phrase "stick it where the sun don't shine".

After that thrilling experience, we waited some more. Then a very nice doctor came in and told me that the rapid test had confirmed that I have the flu. (Side note: he did not specify H1N1, so I have no idea which flu I'm carrying). Then he told me that it shouldn't cause an ear ache. He felt my face and checked my ears - sinus and right ear infections confirmed as well.

He wrote me three prescriptions for various things (another side note: nothing for the flu, per se) and told me to take it easy for a week and stay out of work (yet another side note: ha!). He asked me if I needed him to write me a note. (I suppose I should have said yes, just to remind myself to take it easy, should the situation warrant it)

Then we left to have my prescriptions filled. Prince Charming went in for me and I heard - and I am not making this up - a long story on health care reform on NPR while I waited. Then Prince Charming came out with my meds and, lo and behold, apparently Prince Charming hadn't been clear enough when asked by the nurses if I had any allergies, because the main antibiotic for my ear was one that I am allergic to. He told me that the pharmacy had wanted to call the doctor about it, because they have my allergy noted in their records, but he had just wanted to hurry home. So then he had to go back in and ask tell them "yes, please call the doctor but meanwhile we are going home and you can call us if he orders something different".

Needless to say, I went home, took the two medicines I did have, drank some juice and ate a little bit (absolutely all I'd had to eat that day), and went to bed. Prince Charming had to go back out and pick up my new medicine a little later.

So, I've spent most of the past three days in bed, I didn't get to go to church today, and I'm sitting here shivering while I write this blog post.

I guess it's back to bed for me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

In Which I Grumble

OK, so I think I should be doing something. If only I could remember what it was.

The girls are playing dress up. They're also dressing up our borrowed boy. He is taking it patiently but let's just say jewelry is not his thing.

Prince Charming is, un-charmingly, away. He was away last night. He's away today. He'll be away tonight. The worst thing about this situation is the fact that it leaves me vehicle-less. Which makes getting to the grocery store (10 minutes away) exceedingly difficult, to say the least. (I'm sorry, did you think I was going to say the worst thing was his absence? 'Fraid not.)

Then there's this annoying allergy / cold / sinus aggravation that will not go away. And the fact that the girls have it too and only one of them is really capable of keeping her own nose wiped. I know.

I suppose I could play mindless games on facebook. (Done.)
Or read a nice novel. (Done. Just finished a not so nice one which I will not be mentioning again. No one else needs to read it. Ever.)
Or some laundry. (Done. Or doing, anyway.)
Or research. (Not done.)
Or write. (Not done)
Or clean. (Oh, it is to laugh...)

Well, how about whining to my blogging friends? Obviously, this is the option I chose. And now I can hear the laundry buzzer so I'll be running along. Just as soon as I make myself get out of this chair.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Confidential to my Mom

Happy Birthday!

I hope you have as much fun as these kids. We'll have to find some party hats like these. I'm pretty sure the hats bring the fun. Although it could be the streamers, I suppose.

Love you! (And, ahem, you can clearly see I haven't mentioned your age...)

photo credit

Friday, October 9, 2009

Awesome Anniversary Trip - Part 12

So, there we were on the streets of Peebles. I was pretty sure I was going to die. Prince Charming was pretty sure that no matter what happened he would be blamed for it. (Um, yes, he was right...)

We were still walking. Well, I call it walking. I was dragging along behind Prince Charming like one of my legs had gone dead. And have I mentioned the crying? 'Cause there was some. Prince Charming spotted a local man out walking his dog. Desperation set in and Prince Charming called out, "Hey, is there a pub around here?"

Yes, it sounded as though my beloved had decided to take up drinking. Not so, friends, not so. He was thinking pub = people = phone to call taxi.

The local man stared at us. (I'm trying not to remember what a sight I must have been.)

He said: "A pub?" He thought: "You idiots".

He said: "It's right down at the end of this road." He thought: "You complete idiots." Of course, he was right. I mean, doesn't everyone in this world know where the pub in Peebles, Scotland is? I thought so.

We hurried forward like men in a desert who have spotted an oasis. That is to say, we stumbled down the steep street and didn't see a pub. (Curses! Foiled again!) We walked over one more street and, lo and behold, there it was. A tiny door in a long wall of shops (all closed of course). I thought the pub was closed too, I mean, why wouldn't it be at this point? But Prince Charming pulled open the door and peeked in.

An angel in capris, shirt with rolled up sleeves and high heel sandals (OK, it was just a nice Scottish woman but by now anyone with a smile seemed angelic) bustled us into the back dining room. The front of the pub was full of mostly youngish men watching a soccer (hereafter: football) match on the telly and drinking it up.

"Oh, ye look dun in!" She said, showing us to a little table and pointing the way to the Ladies' and Gents. In the tiny cubbyhole restroom, I combed my hair and washed my face and generally, made myself feel about 50% better.

In short order we were well fed, rested up a bit and generally well cared for (and no, we didn't have anything stronger than water to drink, although, if I was ever going to take up drinking, this would have been the day!). The dining room was separated from the bar by a swinging door but we were never disturbed by the football fanatics (in other words, they were not very loud. Maybe they weren't winning?)

The nice lady had not only restored our faith in humanity, she called her "favorite taxi service" to drive us to our castle lodgings. Which begs the question whether she has a non-favorite taxi service but we were way too tired at this point to ask such a question. (By the by, I think we left this woman the best tip we gave anyone whilst on our trip. I would've given her every pound I had left, so it's best that Prince Charming handled that, considering we had three more days in Great Britain to live through.)

Then our own carriage (OK, bland little taxi) whisked us up to our castle and this was our room:
I don't know about you, but a room like this went a long way to restoring my spirit.

Not to mention a tub like this: So, despite a very trying day, we had a lovely evening and in the morning we got to see a view like this:
We ate a full Scottish Breakfast (Word to the wise: Haggis isn't that bad but avoid the blood pudding.)

We walked around outside the castle while the hotel manager called our trusty taxi service again. Yes, I know, we were rested, it wasn't that far down the hill, the dogs would probably be inside, etc. Forget it. Prince Charming, smart man that he is, didn't even ask me if I wanted to try. Besides, we were dressed up (I had on my favorite dress) because we were on our way to Glasgow to go to church (Sunday night) with missionaries our home church supports.

This is from the castle, looking down at Peebles: And this is Peebles (well, one corner of it): And here is the bus stop where we waited forty-five minutes for the Edinburgh bus: Why yes, I can read anywhere. We watched the people around us and peeked into the vestibule of a mostly empty church (it was Sunday morning) but mostly, we just sat and waited with everyone else.

Then it was back to Edinburgh to catch the train for Glasgow where someone was supposed to meet us...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Growing Pains (Mine)

Last weekend we traveled about 3 hours away for a family reunion. This involves spending one night at a very nice motel. It also involves getting in our last swim of the year. (Or in one family member's case *Prince Charming* the only swim of the year) Our girls went swimming in the heated indoor pool three times in around 18 hours.

Saturday is the actual reunion and, after picking up food to take along, we went to the reunion. This reunion is held in a large meeting room type of place on the back of a rural gas and electric company.

Not ideal for children by any stretch of the imagination.

We always take along a bag of toys and games for our kiddos and their cousins (2nd cousins up until Fennec came along). At some point though, those lose their charm and the kids want to do something else.

The kids decided they'd like to go outside and play on the sidewalk / parking lot. It's not really a good idea unless an adult is around to keep an eye on things, especially if the younger ones are going to be out too.

So what to do when no adult was quite ready to go outside? One cousin had it all figured out. He's not much younger than Polly, but he was sure she could handle the situation.

"But Mom," he insisted, "Polly can watch us, she's almost a grown-up. She's in the Third Grade!"

Polly didn't get the job. But I have the same reaction as my cousin, sometimes. When did my baby get to be a third grader? And who is that big kid reading Nancy Drew mysteries? Wasn't that me just like, yesterday?

And this morning Tigger joined her sister and her uncle in her first Tae Kwon Do class. She came home in her little uniform and I couldn't believe how much older she looked.

I suppose I must resign myself to time marching on. It would be handy, in the future, to send Polly outside as the "grown-up". Maybe when she's in the Fourth Grade.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Books of 2009 - September

I have a blog? Oh, yeah, I have a blog. Forgot that for a week or so. (insert smiley wink here)

Without further ado, here's what I read in September:

1. Radical Prunings. Fiction by Bonnie Thomas Abbott. Quick, easy read. This is one of those books I picked up at a library sale and hadn't read. It's now in my "to sell or trade" pile, if that tells you anything.

2. Homework for Grown-Ups. Non-fiction by E. Foley & B. Coates. I like to read refresher books like this every once in awhile. I was particularly glad that I could manage the math in this book, as math is, too put it mildly, not my strong suite. The English and Classics sections were both funny and useful, which is always a nice combination.

3. Rumpole Rests His Case. Fiction by John Mortimer. A series book about a British lawyer (Barrister?). Funny in a wry, sardonic way. Also now in the "to sell or trade" stack.

4. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Fiction by Mary Shaffer & Annie Barrows. Oh, my, yes. This is one of those books that I wish I would have written (had I the talent), which is a category of book not to be confused with "I could have written this". It's delightful and compelling and it will suck you in and you won't be able to put it down. (It also apparently inspires me to write hopelessly run-on sentences) This is going on my wish list. (The previous sentence is FYI for those of you who buy me stuff.)

5. The Pickwick Papers. Fiction by Charles Dickens. Hm, well, this is the first rung of my "Read All of Dickens in Publication Order" ladder. Memorable characters, less than memorable story. Was there a point to this? Only Mr. Dickens knows. I suspect it may have just been "because I can" or "and better yet, they'll pay me by the word!"

6. The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman. Nonfiction by Margot Mifflin. The true story of a pioneer girl whose family is massacred by Indians in the southwest. She lived among at least two different Indian tribes and was adopted into one, which is why she had distinctive tattoos on her chin and arms. After being rescued she had to adapt back into "civilized" society, where others tried to cash in on her story. Makes for painful but compelling reading.

7. Frankly, My Dear. Nonfiction by Molly Haskell about - what else? - Gone With the Wind. What can I say? I love GWTW and Vivien Leigh.

8. Tending the Heart of Virtue. Nonfiction by Vigen Guroian. I've seen this book discussed (and praised highly) elsewhere around the blogosphere. I think, for the purpose, I prefer William Kilpatrick's Books That Build Character.


The rest of September was spent reading Oliver Twist, but, as I didn't actually finish it until October, it will have to wait until another post.

Fiction: 4
Non-fiction: 4
Dickens' completed: 1
Unread books owned by me completed: 2