Saturday, September 26, 2015

Health Problems

(This photo is from the Internet.)
Since July 1, I have been experiencing some health problems. It started with a kidney infection which I thought I could self-treat with cranberry juice. This occurred when I arrived in Seattle. While I was there, I had a fever, chills and shivering. Heidi offered to take me to the doctor, but I declined, thinking it would just go away. I flew home on July 8, but still ignored my symptoms.

July 17 my sister, cousin and I drove to Branson, Missouri. I was still dealing with the infection, getting up during the night every hour to use the bathroom. As you can imagine, I was getting more tired. My symptoms were increasing.

Very early Sunday morning, July 26, I woke up shivering. I got up and took my temperature. It was 101 degrees (my well-temperature is 97). I took a couple of Tylenol, covered up, and went back to sleep until my alarm for church went off. I went to church and sang in the choir, after which some of my dear friends took me to eat a brunch for my birthday. When the brunch was nearly over, I began to shiver and my teeth were chattering. I went directly home, put on some warm pajamas, took some Tylenol, and hopped into bed. I fell asleep, but woke up around 3, burning up. I took my temperature and it was 103 degrees. I knew I had to bite the bullet and go to Urgent Care. I prayed all the way there for protection against running into someone.

When I arrived at Urgent Care, the receptionist informed me there was only one person ahead of me. That was good news, as I was shivering and shivering. Other people arrived after I did, and the lobby was getting full. They called the little boy who was ahead of me, and then called a woman who had come in after I did. I went to the desk to inquire, and was told her symptoms were worse than mine. Before returning to my seat, I asked if they had any blankets for me to cover myself. She brought 2. I was called in next.

The receiving nurse had me to go the restroom to provide a urine sample and then returned me to a room, where I again covered with the blankets. It wasn't long before the doctor came in. She informed me I had a severe kidney infection. Did I want to take an ambulance to the hospital, or was there someone who could drive me? I chose to call Peder. Bless his heart, he came to get me and we took off for the Emergency Room in  my hospital where they were already waiting for me.

We spent about 3 hours in the ER where I was hooked up to a heart monitor and other testing equipment, all the while being interviewed, and even scolded by a doctor for not having seen my doctor before my situation got so serious. I informed her I didn't like my new doctor, to which she retorted I should have sought out someone else. Around 7:30 pm I was wheeled to a room. I spent 5 days in the hospital (July 26 - July 30), because my kidney infection escalated to my blood stream on about day 2. By the 5th day, the infection had cleared the bloodstream and I was sent home with 10 days of antibiotic. I was also instructed to have an appointment with my doctor within the next 14 days. I made that appointment, and when I saw her, she said "You were really sick. Why didn't you come to see me?" I told her my reasons, and we had a "Come to Jesus" meeting. Since then our relationship has been good. I wanted to write all of this down so I can remember the lessons I learned.

Fast forward to August 12 or 13. While watching TV in the evening, my upper left leg began to ache and the top of my left foot tingled. I thought it was a fluke – stood up and tried to shake it off. It continued. This was the beginning of a pattern I was familiar with—1988, left arm, which led to neck surgery. August 20, I phoned my doctor's office to see if I could get an appointment. Bingo! They had an opening that afternoon.

After examining me, Dr. W. said she was ordering an MRI. She gave me the scheduling number so that I didn't have to wait for someone to call me. Again I scored! The hospital had 2 openings the next day (August 21), so I took one.

I got the MRI results August 28. I was diagnosed with multi-level degenerative disc disease, with a small herniated disc between L3 and L4, and a large herniated disc between L4 and L5. Also, I have a very pinched nerve between L5 and S1. They also reported a 1 centimeter spot on my left kidney. Oh, oh. This was not good news, and of course I began to worry about it. My doctor told me a concierge would be calling me to set up an appointment with a spine specialist and an ultrasound to look at the kidney.

September 10 I had the ultrasound. This was a totally new experience for me. I had to fast (nothing to eat or drink—not even water) 4 hours prior to the test. The technician searched and searched for the spot, but could not locate it. She brought another technician in to locate it. She didn't find it either. I told them I had been praying for God to remove it. Perhaps He did! They paged the radiologist to come in to have a look, but he was unavailable and instructed them to send me home and that another test could be given to me. However, after he had seen the test results, he concluded the spot had been residual from the kidney infection I had had. Good news!

September 15 I saw the spine specialist, a very nice doctor. He went over my MRI pictures with me and told me his plan of attack. I was to have an EMG September 17, and an epidural yesterday, September 25. This test, by the way, went very well, for which I am grateful. I had fear going in, but prayed to God to help me through it, and He did. Already today the ache in my leg has gone away. We won't know for sure if it was successful for 7 - 10 days. Also scheduled are appointments for physical therapy—both traction and stretching. My first appointment is Monday, October 5.

This has been a lot, but I'm grateful to be on the mend. During the night I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep. For the first time ever, about 3:30 am today, I stepped out onto my porch and sat in a lawn chair to look at the sky. I live in the city, so it never gets really dark, but as my eyes got used to the lighting, I could see stars – about 11 or 12 bright ones. This is party due to trees and buildings in my view. Nels and I stayed out there about a half hour. It was a wonderful time of communing with our Lord.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Cousins' Weekend 2015

Yesterday my Cousin Linda, my sister, and I met at my Cousin Pat and Cousin Pudge's home. Linda had driven up from Chicago the day before and stayed overnight with my brother and sister. It was so nice to see her again.

Pat and Pudge had set the table and living room and dining room for a Minnesota dinner, complete with pine trees, pine cones, a kerosene lamp, the sounds of loons, crickets, and tree frogs, plus a delicious dinner of fried walleye and northern pike that Pudge had caught. Filling out our dinner we had cheesy hash brown potatoes, vegetable salad, hot rolls and homemade apple dumplings. Everything was delicious!

L to R: Linda, Janet, Pudge, and Pat

L to R: yours truly, Linda, and Janet

These apple dumplings were wonderful!

After dinner we had a lovely evening of visiting and looking at some of my Aunt Liz and her mother and grandmother's sewing.  Linda is shown here holding up some of the hand crocheted lace. Neighbor Denny came over to Pat's to visit for awhile. He has been a welcome guest/friend for many, many years. 

After a nice breakfast this morning, we checked out Pat's gardens and then boarded the Patty Wagon (Pat's golf cart) to take in some garage sales. Each of us scored a few things. We also took time to tour one of the Parade of Homes in the area – a beautiful model home, complete with a half basketball court, with a price tag of $975k. The realtor was impressed that we had arrived on a golf cart! 

This is a garden in Pat's yard dedicated to my Aunt Liz. Double click photo to enlarge.

This is a close-up of Aunt Liz's garden

Sail boats on White Bear Lake

For lunch we ate at a local restaurant and then headed back to Pat and Pudge's. I gathered up my things and started for home. The other gals headed off for Duluth to take a boat tour of the harbor on Lake Superior tomorrow. I know they'll have a good time. These times spent together are precious.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Harvesting My Pineapple

About six or seven years ago I bought a pineapple at a local market and after cutting it up, decided to plant the top (crown) of it. I had read up about it and learned that is the way to grow one. It took root and eventually got too big for my pot. My boss had a big, empty pot in his office—an office with windows—and he invited me to transplant the pineapple into that pot. Over time, it got bigger and bigger, and its leaves stretched out to over 6 feet.

Fast forward to February of this year: on the 23rd of the month, the first day back in the office after my trip to Japan, I was in Paul's office and in the course of conversation, he said perhaps it was time to do away with this giant plant which was taking up most of the counter. I thought about it and said I would look around the office to see if there was another spot where I could put it to still get natural light.

The next day, while watering it, I happened to look down inside the plant and saw what looked like a small pine cone. What? What is this? I called Paul over to look. "I think it's growing a pineapple!" And from that point on, Paul was all in favor of keeping the plant in his office.

Looking down into the pineapple plant

A few weeks later

About the third week of March, the pineapple had sprung up on a stem about the size of my index finger and little purple flowers appeared on what would become the "eyes," starting at the base of the fruit and progressing upwards. The flowers each bloomed about one day and then closed up. From that point—according to the Internet—the fruit would ripen in six months. As it turns out, mine ripened in five months and one week.

About a month later, checking it every day, the most change was in the expanding diameter of the fruit and the growing crown. The stem was reaching higher, too.

By mid August, the pineapple fruit was getting bigger and the crown was also growing. The fruit had gotten so heavy, one day I found it leaning over about 90 degrees, so I attached the venetian blind cord to it and staked it up.

 A week or so later, the pineapple showed definite signs of ripening. Ten days after that, when I came into the office, it was totally yellow and ready for harvest. Another sign was how sweet it smelled.
Totally ripe pineapple, ready to be cut from the stem
LaVonne, severing the pineapple from its stem
Yours truly posing with the long-awaited pineapple
Once the pineapple was totally cut by LaVonne, I portioned it out for some of the people who had come along side me in the journey. We all exclaimed how delicious it was—the best we had ever had. Too bad it took so long to grow.
Minutes after it was eaten, I planted the crown (seen on the table) in a smaller pot to start all over.