Wednesday, April 19, 2017

So, How Was YOUR Easter?

I had plans, I promise you. There was laundry, and typing up 2 meetings worth of minutes, and hunting all the... um... chocolate Easter eggs in the back yard and scooping them up.

Instead, I woke up feeling a bit off. I took my morning pills and decided to postpone breakfast.That turned into a wise idea. I was thirsty a bit later so drank some water, then hit the bed because "off" was turning into something worse. When Steve woke up, half an hour later, I called him to come talk to me. I let him know I was sick, and by the time I'd spoken five sentences, I needed to make a mad dash to the throne. It was my first set of dry heaves for the morning. I admit I was a bit surprised this soon the stomach was already empty. But it certainly got our attention.

Meanwhile, the pain had been traveling as well as increasing. I first thought bladder infection, then bowel, then appendix despite not having one of those for 56 years! Then the pain climbed up my back to sit waist high, just right of the spine. Almost like is was in the kidney. I decided Steve was going to drive me to the ER, that being the only available medical care available on the holiday. While he was tending to the dogs so they could stay home for a while, just in case, I was digging around for the least dirty clothes I could find. Laundry was due, after all, and would soon become overdue.

At the ER I asked if I could lie down anywhere, since I certainly didn't feel like sitting up by then. I got their routine response that was only a mite more civil and helpful than "Take a number and wait", but that's what it meant. They also answered my request for a pan, since the nausea was returning, and when it hits, it doesn't wait on a trip to a possibly already occupied restroom. As soon as I sat down, it became useful. My fellow waiting room inmates were treated to a spectacular series of dry heaves. I figured they must think I was hung over. By the time my name was called, the count was up to 4 sets, with two more to follow before they shot me up with an appropriate medicine. It kept Steve running to resupply me with tissues for after, since each bout left my eyes and nose streaming as well as the mouth.

The only good thing was I wasn't producing any bile, so no horrible taste or smell. On the other hand, it didn't do a thing to ease the pain, and left me even now with sore muscles across my back from over-use.

I asked Steve to hit the front window again with my request to lie - somewhere, anywhere - down while I was waiting. A couple minutes later they took us and my pan back... to a room with chairs!

I do believe there are times when it's appropriate to let someone know, even to the point of raising your voice, that they are not listening! A room with a bed miraculously opened up right then, and it almost felt better to lie back. I say almost because that still did nothing for my pain. But I was done with having to sit up. We even figured out how to hold the pan while I was horizontal so everything went into the pan and not on me, the bed, or the floor. By the time I finished the last bout, what was collected in the pan totaled about two tablespoons, all saliva I figured.

Things improved. The anti-nausea meds via IV worked. I can't tell you what they used, even though they told me twice. The brain was on hold for certain higher functions. I did recognize the term fentanyl , which started easing the pain, but it took the addition of toradol to really bring it down. In fact, it was good enough that I could raise my arms up for the CAT scan, a real challenge after rotator cuff injuries. And that CAT scan gave them their diagnosis, confirming a kidney stone.

I was getting admitted.

I learned a lot the next few days. The CAT scan only showed the one kidney stone. I would need to be concerned and adjust my diet if, like most who show up with one, already had a bunch of others sitting up in the kidneys just waiting their turn. Being lucky doesn't always feel like lucky.

There were several different options for treatment, depending on a variety of factors. Did this one also show on an X-ray? Size is a factor, graded by under or over 5 millimeters. Mine is exactly 5. How they go in, as in down from the top or up from the bottom, depends on how far down the tube it is. Following a pattern here, mine was exactly halfway. Options include a couple different ways of smashing up the stone, but neither is possible if there is a UTI, or urinary tract infection, which I tested positive for. Turned out to be e coli, the most typical culprit. It can be hard to clear the infection, since with a stone still imbedded, there is lots of habitat, if you will, for the little buggers to hide in. "Stone" brings to mind something smooth and round, so think more like sand burr. Surgeons can reach the stone with a lighted gripper thingy and pull it out, and not need a stent to keep urine from continuing to back up in the kidney. However, if the tool accidentally punctures the ureter the stent will still be needed so urine bypasses that spot to let it heal. But if it's more than a tiny hole, they have to open you up immediately and practice their knot tying, and you still get the stent.

But hey! maybe none of those options would be necessary if the stone flushed itself out, so they pump IV fluids through me at a high rate to keep me peeing, and catch that in a little insert under the toilet seat, then strain the contents before anything gets flushed and see if any little 5mm something shows up.

None of the information influencing options was available yet, so I made it onto the surgery schedule for the next morning. Something was needing to get done, unless I could produce a stone in the strainer. By then we know I had a UTI, limiting some options, that no stone had passed, so the first procedure was to be -hopefully - a simple stent. 20 minutes under. Nothing to eat or drink before surgery, of course.

With my kidney in the shape it was in, I wasn't feeling hungry anyway. Painkillers didn't change that. Good thing, since the hospital food absolutely sucked, except for the red grapes or the banana I got later. Not only was the meat over-cooked, dry, and tasteless, the baked potato like a rock that didn't even smell inviting, the whole wheat dinner rolls were old and cold and again, yuk in the flavor department, but every tray had about 12 carb units where I'm allowed 3, so I had to make choices of what is the least worst. Then again, even now I barely have an appetite, so much of that food would have been tossed anyway. At least the grapes and banana could be saved for a late night snack.

Most of the nurses were great. However, both my roommate and I had special attention needs, primarily for being unplugged from multiple outlets, and quickly enough that we could make it to the bathroom without either creating a mess or enduring an unnecessary level of pain. Sunday night was the worst. A couple of the nurses made sure we knew how much inconvenience we were causing them.  What made it worse was them sounding like there was a party out there.

If we hadn't shift-changed to new sets of teams, we both would have gotten very good at becoming even more of an inconvenience. I had pain pills I needed on schedule, especially since my pills were only 2.5 mg of percoset and wore off well before I was allowed the next. You better believe even at my most out-of-it, I was a clock watcher. And yes, I was a bit out of it that night with a low grade fever.

One issue I solved for myself by figuring out how to take stuff apart so I didn't need help every 2 hours or sooner. The pink plug came out and went back into the wall behind my bed, and the IV rack it was attached to had a display showing battery life, usually 4 to 5 hours. No way I was going to need it unplugged that long. The leg cuffs that squeeze alternate legs in order to prevent blood clots took a bit longer to figure out, since they had an alarm that sounded if they were disconnected for a certain length of time. I finally just decided to just unplug my cuffs and wear them into the bathroom, and it the alarm brought somebody, well, all to the better. Ann and I had different staff assigned to us, and that first night they were very territorial, in a not-my-problem kind of way. Again, that improved, and we had gotten very good at saying, "while you're here could you just....?" Ann had extra complications keeping her from unplugging herself, including being hooked up to O2, and a bed alarm.

After both of us were feeling better we started chatting occasionally. You never knew when the other was sleeping, with the curtain kept pulled. She has led a very interesting life, traveling to many different countries for work, on all 6 of the major continents. At present she was battling COPD on top of Valley Fever, had been here 5 days already, and had only one sleeping pill in her history that worked for her, which the hospital pharmacy didn't stock. After 5 sleepless nights, the staff finally threw up their hands at a problem they couldn't solve, and consented to let her have somebody bring her own labeled bottle of sleeping pills. They were talking about discharging her soon, but she'd been through the repeated routine of going home and needing to return two weeks later, stay a while, go home, come back. She wanted not only more care, but better.

Back to me: Monday morning I was awakened with the news that surgery was at 11:20, and the CNA needed to assist me with two antibacterial "baths". Think towel, washcloth, and thin pink soap. I informed her no way until I got my already overdue pain pill. Maybe it takes messing with their schedule to get your needs met, because the pill arrived shortly. In between the two baths, I was informed surgery was now moved to 12:30. That worked for me because my pain pill would just be wearing off then and the OR staff could deal with it however was needed. I should be under, and then on whatever was needed for after surgery. One way or another, my kidney would be unblocked and stop trying to kill itself. Even if the stone remained, it was the kidney causing all the pain, not the stone traveling the length of the tube, as most people think.

So my morning was devoted to getting 2 scrubbings, blood drawn, vitals checked, and trips to the toilet, straining my own urine because the staff had somehow lost orders for that in the transfer, so the "not my job" resurfaced, and it was really simple. Whether that stone had passed was vital information for the surgeon. Plus for hygeine there was a nice sink with soap and paper towels, the strainer rested in another container, and the toilet insert sat next to it all in the shower, out of the way. Get over it: after changing thousands of dirty diapers, this was not obnoxious.

Once down in surgery, we knew the stone hadn't passed,  I had a fever, a UTI was presumed, so a stent to relieve the pressure was the only task of the day. Taking out the stone under these circumstances risked a blood infection. Antibiotics before and after surgery, and a follow through with my urologist to make sure the bug was gone, and we'd schedule lithotripsy and stent removal. Oh yeah, and now the schedule was changed again, so surgery something like 2:20. Or whatever. I wasn't going anywhere. I just laid there quietly, not even up to reading. (Nor for most of my stay.)

I didn't particularly appreciate the lead-in to surgery. I got wheeled in on the gurney to a spot reasonably close to the operating table, and asked to transfer myself over. Uhh, sure, you bet. Of course it means sliding from one slippery surface to another even slicker one, nothing to grip or that would stay put for leverage, and it took them a while to decide they probably shouldn't leave me half over the edge of the second because I might fall. Well duh! I was a long way from worrying about falling yet, with the two gurneys touching. My issue was the hard inch-wide, inch-high rim on #2, not - so - cozily nestled right under my spine.

Hey guys, a little assist?

Then the anesthesiologist shoved this plastic mask down over my nose and mouth. I couldn't breathe, so started wiggling my face around to create an air gap, and gasping. As far as he was concerned it wasn't possible that I was having trouble breathing, and he just told me to slow it down. Hey, my body is slipping into full panic mode right now! He removed the mask for a few seconds, then clamped it back on me again. Same result. He removed it once more. The third time he told me he was putting something in it to help me sleep. Well, about effing time! So down came the mask, and... I wasn't going under for what seemed an age. "Breathe deep."  Hey, what the hell do you think I'm doing here, trying somewhere to find some air or sleep or something! My eyes are rolling, searching the room for help, but nobody's looking. I started counting breaths. I remember 10. Way-y-y-y too long, guys! And why should it be so difficult in the first place? Hose kinked? Nobody turned the O2 on?

If it takes surgery to remove the stent, I want a different assisting staff!

In the recovery room, I was mentally out of it long after being physically awake. I knew who I was, I'd just had surgery, and why. But it was still too hard to connect the verbal part of my brain to answer the basic questions they shoot at you. Finally I was able to answer. "Do you know your name?" "Yes." Hey, everybody asks you that, every time you see them. Birth date too. So far the best I could do was answer the question they asked. It went rapidly uphill from there, giving full name, date, and volunteering,"I have to pee!" They heard me. Within a couple minutes, they had me sitting up, making sure I had balance, and brought over a commode chair next to the bed. Ahhhhhhh....

The fever stuck around most of that evening, not too unusual after this surgery I'm told. My blood pressure was also well  up there past the healthy zone. I was loaded with pills, the IV with antibiotics, potassium to make up for the IV flushing practically everything out of my system, and settled in to
 trying to get out of bed in time. The fever shot down hope of leaving Monday night, but maybe Tuesday, if....

I improved overnight and through suppertime Tuesday, but so far only the urologist had signed off on my going home. Steve was trying to arrange his schedule for picking me up, a challenge when nobody will commit to anything. A pair of good friends stopped in for a visit, after finding out I was still going to be there in the hospital to see them.

It turned out the doctor who was needed to sign off on my leaving had no idea my urologist had already given the OK. Once she heard, things got rolling. Fast! I was out the door and in the car in half an hour. That was still time to get to my pharmacy for my 3 new prescriptions, then home to a comfy chair, even better a comfy bed. Steve and I watched a half hour of TV, and by the time I got back to the living room after that next potty break, I was ready to crash. No more TV. No more pills as I'd just taken what was needed. Just sleep.

The good news is the kidney pain was gone by the time I woke up from surgery. However, I'm one of those who find the stent very uncomfortable. I've got pills for that. Next Tuesday I see the urologist for a post-op evaluation. If all goes well, we can schedule Lithotripsy for about a week later, but there are "ifs". Later that same day I see my primary for a post-hospital evaluation. Of course the calendar is already spotted with the last post-op check with the eye surgeon, the 1 year check on my knees with my orthopedic surgeon, and the 6-month cardiologist visit, all before we head north. Hmmm, funny, I don't feel like I'm falling apart.

I do feel... good that the laundry finally got done today. And maybe ambitious enough tomorrow to go harvest those chocolate Easter eggs. I'd like to head back into lapidary, but if it comes to a choice between taking the good meds and spending more time working on rocks, you can guess my priority.

Anyway, that was my Easter. How was yours?

Better food, I bet!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Getting Rid of Trump

Historically, assassination has been the way to get rid of leaders whom you have decided have got to go, when there seems no other way to accomplish the task. We tried to get rid of Castro that way, Iraq tried to get rid of Daddy Bush. Whether it's for idiological reasons, or a power play so you can take over, it's been a tactic throughout history.

It's tempting to at least think of somebody going for it with Trump, say, before he creates a total catastrophe. But recent reports  in the news suggest there's no need to actively assassinate Trump. Just let him continue spending his weekends down at Mara Lago, eating his wonderful chocolate cake and whatever else from their filthy kitchen. That'll do it for ya! We just have to be careful his kitchen doesn't kill off some other world leader and start the catastrophe we'd like to avoid.

As a side note, one of our local news stations has a weekly feature called "Dirty Dining", where they inform us of which restaurants around the valley get the most - and best - ratings for health violations. But even their worst kitchens only get half or fewer of the violations Mara Lago got.


So I guess that when Trump brags that whatever he's got is the biggest, the best, the most, this is one time we can believe him. That list of code violations in Mara Lago's kitchen is  HUGE! HUGE!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Ask Yourself This...

So, you've been sitting there, catching bits of news here and there, maybe even paying more attention lately as evidence mounts from a variety of US and international sources of Trump and company's collusion with the Russians - NOT a friendly state - and watching as Trump keeps ratcheting up the aggression with more and bigger bombs, however misplaced, however ineffectual, as a way to divert our attention (Look over there!), listening to the bluster and self-praise voiced or tweeted in ways which prove just the opposite....

If you're not scared, you just aren't paying attention, or you're nowhere near as smart as you think you are. Complacent or terrified, hopefully it has finally dawned on you that there are two  crazy rulers on opposite sides of the globe revving up their engines on their self-aggrandizing game of nuclear chicken. The possibilities from that just beg the following question, in no way offered as a kind of silver lining to this whole mess:

Would a nuclear winter stop global warming?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

In-N-Out Ick

Steve and I were running errands which stretched over the lunch hour. We opted to grab a bite from some fast food joint. I suggested that while I drove to our next stop, he scout out the joints we passed and we could stop on our way back, his choice. He opted for In-N-Out Burger, something neither of us had tried.

Nor will we ever again.

Steve ordered a burger, fries, and Coke. I think his Coke was OK, meaning standard Coke, something he enjoys. I asked about his burger, and he wasn't all that impressed. It was food, period.

That was not something either of us felt confident about claiming for the rest of our fare.

Not having a yen for a burger, I opted for a small chocolate shake, figuring if that was all I had, I could pretend it was justified in quantity of calories and carbs. I will give it credit for chocolate flavor. However the texture was that of some kind of goo holding together a bunch of air. Maybe they substituted some kind of gum additive for milk product? Once the level was down in the cup, I slipped the lid off and took a look. Whatever it was, it still thickly coated the cup evenly on all the surfaces which had originally contained it. Now any real shake would have slid down the sides to the level of what remained, leaving only the thinnest coating to testify that the cup had originally been filled, with just enough color to suggest vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, or whatever.

I really want to see an ingredients list for whatever that was.

Or wait: maybe I don't.

Feeling greatly unsatisfied by what I'd ordered, I decided to help myself to a couple of Steve's fries. I knew his portion was way bigger than he could eat. So I reached over, grabbed a couple, and bit into... what, exactly? There was certainly salt there, and not a lot of oil (on the face of it, not necessarily a bad thing to avoid a grease bomb), but it somehow missed being "potato". It wasn't that it tasted bad, it just didn't taste. Like it wasn't actually there. Like I was chewing... hmmm... air.

I looked at a couple broken centers, and saw quite plainly that these "french fries" were not, in fact, a cubed stick cut the length of an actual potato. I cannot say with surety that it didn't contain any actual potato. But whatever it contained, it was a highly processed substance puffed up with air holes, or even a central tube of air down the length of one piece we examined.

In-N-Out Burger? We're staying OUT OUT OUT.


And I'm looking forward to supper this evening, at home. Not quite sure what it'll be, yet, but by the time it goes in my mouth, you can be sure I will know what I'm eating!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Lunch With The Kool-Aid Drinkers

Thank goodness the pot luck part of the meeting only lasted a half hour. I know this area of the world is majority Republican, which party I left many years ago when the Democratic Party became the one to push for civil rights, but I had no idea what it was like listening to a whole table-full of extreme and extremely vocal right wingers.

At first I couldn't seriously believe what I was hearing. It's not that I haven't heard all the wild-assed conspiracies before, or at least most of them. These were die-hard kool-aid drinkers. I'm talking obvious Fox viewers, sucking up every nutty assertion of actually fake news as the real thing. You know, like all the people Hillary killed, how she and Obama conspired to (insert list of about 18 to 20 crazy things here), how one rape perpetrated by a person from a particular minority meant that the whole of the group behaved that way and didn't belong in this country.  Sharia laws were ruling our public schools now. The Black Lives Matter movement was responsible for all the cop killings. Thousands/millions of dead people voted for Hillary. And on. And on.

I've heard all that crap. I've also gotten the debunking. I'm old enough to remember history that is definitely different from what was now being touted, and read the Constitution enough to know why certain things were illegal and against the principles of our country.

I'm particularly tuned in to the garbage after sitting in the spa pool last night listening to some guy from Wisconsin expound on how the 10th amendment was a conspiracy by the Koch Brothers to ... well, nevermind. All I needed was a calendar to debunk whatever it was he was trying to prove. I know even those guys aren't that old!

So when today's nonsense started, I checked one of the women's statements."Excuse me, did I really hear that you believe....?" She did. More people chimed in. Topics broadened, crazy ruled the conversation. I decided I didn't need to do anything more than concentrate on my lunch, just shut up and marvel at these people, and not in a good way. This wasn't punking, not joking, but anger at all the things they believed were happening in the world and whom they held responsible.

I recalled a previous conversation with the woman who started off the crazy. We had been talking about something completely non-political, and I mentioned Minneapolis. Her response was to express her unease (putting it mildly) about there being a concentration of Muslims there. I calmly agreed with her about the numbers, since there is an area with a concentration of Somali immigrants. I went on to inform her I had worked alongside a number of them, had some good discussions during slow work times about how our cultures differed, and ended with my assessment that by the most part they are a strongly family-oriented community. That ended our conversation as she quickly excused herself and relocated away from where I was sitting.

Thank goodness!

But today I was stuck at this particular table, and simply had to be content that the club business meeting would soon start and they'd have to put away the kool-aid for an hour or so, after which we could all go our separate ways.

But OMG! Really?

Thursday, April 6, 2017


So, while I'm not working on my taxes, getting paperwork ready for tomorrow's board meeting, mopping the den floor where the dogs mistook its concrete for the outdoors ... uh, last year ... uh, three times ...  I'm also staring at a necklace, a very complicated design, which I started either two weeks ago or two years ago depending on where you consider its starting point really is...

I'm blogging instead. It's not so much what I am doing, it's more a reason to avoid what I'm not doing. I've gotten pretty good at being busy at one thing instead of another.

So why am I procrastinating on all these things?

Let's start with taxes. I have all the paperwork, though I really need to pull everything out of my file box and sort 2016 from 2017, and some of the stuff I need, like how much SS I got last year, got detoured into a stack of paperwork I've set aside for proper ID for a driver's license that actually allows me to fly and do cool stuff like enter Canada, which in turn requires proof that the me on my birth certificate is actually the me on my SS card, and I never did replace my original card with one with my new name on it after marriage a gazillion years ago.  (Now that's procrastination, although the SS folks have followed me around just fine, and have no problem paying me or setting up my Medicare when it was time. The new card should be here in a couple weeks.) Anyhow, stalling on my taxes has nothing to do with owing any money, because I don't, or not figuring it all out, since I filed my own business taxes for over 40 years and this year I only need about 3 numbers on the form. I just am. I still have over a week, anyway.

Tomorrow's board meeting involves making some copies of last month's minutes to distribute to the board, and I was just at the printer working on copies -yes Virginia, real hard copies - of the tax forms, and I simply didn't get around to it. Maybe the floor under the printer having been one of the dog's target spots rushed me out of there.

The floor? Well, that involves not having the right kind of mop,  so I have to go to the store. I probably also need the right kind of mop bucket and a better type of detergent, and since I have to go pick up a prescription later, I can do at least that part... if I get it all on the list... later. Plus, if I do mop the den floor instead of just keeping the door closed forever except when I use the printer, I can't pretend I don't see the dirty floor behind the living room chairs where Fred lies down and drags in desert dirt on his greasy coat, leaving it there to build up. And once I start on that, I will also see where he leans along the wall, creating a brown stripe about a foot high and, oh, 10 feet long? And then, since I'm cleaning, there's the kitchen floor under the sink, and sweeping all the Fred-bunnies off of everywhere, and ....

The necklace began with cutting and polishing 6 identically- sized cabochons from a single lavender agate slab. OK, lavender plus light stripes plus black dendrites plus orange plumes. Pretty cool, actually. It's been among the projects that have kept me awake hours after bedtime designing in my head. It's implementation time now, and after getting approval that what I want to do will actually qualify for sale in the club store because the design incorporates purchased amethyst beads, I started putting it all together and once nearly finished decided that the copper wire made the cabs look muddy. Like, ick! I can't use silver like I really want if I want to sell in the store, because my silver isn't sterling, only silver-filled. I can't afford sterling. So it sits.

I am thinking about it. I wonder whether I want to continue with this in my silver, perhaps making next year's X-mas presents instead of making something to sell. Perhaps find a new slab to start from. Perhaps just cut this project back from three cabs plus triple chains with hanging amethysts all wrapped in copper to just the one cab with the most orange and a smaller, less ambitious design. Whatever I decide, I've already wasted a lot of wire and some lengths of chain.

I did actually pooper scoop the yard, cut the damaged trunk from the "thorn tree", though without having cut most of it into small enough pieces to go out in the garbage in a dog food bag so they don't stab our garbage collectors, cut the brown seed stalks from last year off the red yuccas without destroying this year's nice crop of new stalks about to bloom in brilliant red, separating out the seeds which I scattered down among the yuccas in case they might actually sprout and increase the clump sizes. I cut out a lot of the old dead brown leaves (think spears) from the blue yuccas, though not all, and got most of the cut ones removed from the plants' centers and onto the ground, though without actually gathering them up for the garbage. A new smaller wire cage went around the thorn tree to keep the rabbits actually out this time, and transferred the larger one around a bush with a tiny cage which had been choking it. It didn't get staked, however. Yet.

See? Lots of ways to procrastinate and still fool myself into thinking I'm not useless. Including blogging.

Of course I've forgotten just what I was going to actually blog about this time.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Meds Wars

Lately it seems like the whole family has been having problems with their meds. Except Steve. He's just fine, mostly.

Steph has been quitting her latest migraine medications. I'm not sure all the reasons, whether it's side effects (dizziness, etc.) or lack of effectiveness (dizziness, etc.) or what all. I'm also not sure what's in the arsenal for trying next, since she's been dealing with migraines for decades now. As of last night when I spoke to her on the phone, she'd been five straight days with migraines. Lucky for her, if there's anything at all lucky in her situation, is they're not the painful sledgehammer-bonking-the-head kind of migraine, but a lot of visual symptoms and that  kind of stuff. I would describe them better, but I don't quite understand them myself. Back as a teenager, my migraines were the hammer and nausea, go hide in a dark room type. And hormonal changes got rid of them for me.

I've been starting to work my way off the clonazepan that was prescribed for my post-knee surgery restless leg syndrome. It's been working just fine, thank you. But partly I want to know if it's just a temporary thing, whether I can go off it and get by with, say, more activity, more vitamins, more or less whatever, and get off a schedule 2 drug.

It's more the idea of the thing than any side effects - at least so far - that's prompting this. I did the horrible thing of going and looking it up in depth online. New things popped out at me from this search than I found with my initial search a year ago. It just seems like a really good idea to at least try.

But it's a drug you can't just stop. You have to wean yourself off. So last night I cut two pills in half and tried taking just a half. By bedtime I knew that wasn't going to work. So I cut another pill in quarters and added one of those bits. I'll be taking 3/4 dose for a few days, see how it goes, and try tapering lower, and lower. Worst case, I'll refill the prescription. Best case, I won't have to worry about refilling it on summer vacation across state lines, and whatever else goes along with this medication that prohibits doctors from prescribing it past a certain (unspecified) number of doses.

But the real star of the meds wars is Rich. He picked up some kind of respiratory bug. It takes a lot to get him into a doctor, but this was bad enough he called up Brenda for a ride to the ER. They prescribed a new, strong antibiotic and some Prednisone for him. One to kill the bug, the other to open the lungs. Unfortunately, either one or the combination got him hallucinating. He was both seeing and hearing things/people that weren't there, and he knew, in some deep corner of his mind, that they weren't. The worst news is that the symptoms started in while he was at work. He was sent home, and it turns out that Uber from Minneapolis to home is about $120! He was already working because he couldn't afford the time off. Now he's not sure if he has a job to go back to.

On the plus side, he's done with all the pills, he knows what's real again, and he's coughing all sorts of crap out of his lungs. (I tell him that last one is a good thing.) He'll be staying home until he's much better. Or perhaps until he has to head out job hunting again. Hallucinating is not great for job security, even if it is a drug interaction and you know how not to repeat it.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Another One Bites The Dust

OK, technically it bit the gravel and concrete. We've been watching and waiting for it. It couldn't possibly last, and it didn't.

Backing up a few weeks ago, there was a big saguaro cactus a couple suburbs over that made the news when it fell over onto a pickup truck, and once finally removed, left the truck in a very sharp "V" shape. Estimates at the time, per the news, were that the saguaro weighed in at 10,000 pounds. (Who do you suppose weighed it?)  Those puppies do hold a lot of water, and we'd just had three decent rains, each about 2 weeks apart. They told reporters that they didn't want to spend the $2,000 removal cost and just let it stand. Until it didn't.

This story resonated particularly with us because we almost daily pass a corner where another huge, very multiply branched saguaro was visibly dying. We blame the rabbits, of course, for nibbling the juicy green bottom away. At first only the bottom foot or so showed  through to the skeleton all around. That has been climbing higher and higher as time progressed, say, over the last year or so. Each time it got windy we'd pay particular attention to whether it was still vertical. Since it's exactly at the corner of a 4-way stop, there was plenty of time to observe it safely. Plus, if you're prone to worrying, to wonder whether it would fall just when Steve was scootering to the Community Center. That's exactly his path.

The last couple of days, wind warnings were out, though mainly either north or south of the valley. Still, we wondered. Today, on my way home from errands when  my path took me past that corner rather than a different way, I noticed that the inevitable had happened. Six feet of dead trunk no longer was able to support the monster top. It currently is laying not only completely blocking the sidewalk but also the entire width of the driveway for the house, blocking the exit of the car currently safely sitting tucked up under the carport.

I hope they're not in a hurry to go anywhere. And maybe have a couple grand sitting around.

I wonder, with all the regulations concerning saguaros, whether someone will be required to plant the individual arms to try rooting them and produce some benefit out of the tragedy. Or if somebody will try just for the profit in it.

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Ummm, on second look, backed by photos, the arms look a little too split and crunched to be viable.