Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spring 2012

We’re at our beloved campground trailer for 3 days. It’s clean up time. Vacuumed and shredded 15 bags of leaves for compost. Moved the old compost into flower beds. 70 degrees on Thursday, but the weather has turned to freezing overnight. Our old Holiday Rambler trailer is super-well insulated and cozy comfortable.

Summer can’t come too soon for us. Eager to continue the flower bed project - raising them and filling with good dirt and compost. Last summer was pretty much a wash-out. Our diary shows "bronchitis" starting in March. It lasted all year and just got worse; sick all summer. Now we know that my less-than-adequate Pulmonologist didn’t know what he was doing, treating me for COPD and Emphasema with bronchitis. Actually, I had none of these, which is why the treatment didn’t work, and I kept getting sicker. When I asked for a CAT scan and he couldn’t read it, I decided to change doctors in November.

Found a great new Pulmonologist, whose first conclusion was that I have neither COPD or Ephesema, but instead have Fibrosis. He also scheduled me for a biopsy in December and started me on oxygen. I was going rapidly downhill. My family (26) gathered for Thanksgiving to essentially "say goodbye". I planned my funeral, wrote the obituary, gave away my best books as Christmas gifts for everyone and basically prepared to move to my next life. Then the biopsy gave us new information and diagnosis. I have "Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis" which is an allergy to fungus and mold which creates the fiber in my lungs. The allergy can be treated with Prednisone, though the fiber that’s there will be permanent.

Meanwhile, I came down with a serious case of pneumonia, resulting in 15 days in the hospital with IV antibiotics. That finally cleared up and I was started on the Prednisone, a steroid. Now I feel fantastic. Lots of energy. I still need my oxygen if I’m active, but can do without it if I’m quiet. As nearly as I can tell, the future will hold continuing fibrosis, less dependence on oxygen, though with a basic vulnerability to lung infections. So it looks as if everyone is going to be stuck with me for awhile.

One huge question mark has been, "where was I exposed to mold or fungus?" I finally concluded that my CPAP (for sleep apnea) machine was always warm, wet, and dark - the perfect climate for mold and fungus to grow. Now I’m carefully washing it with bleach once a week, and using a light bleach in the water besides. If you know anyone who is using a CPAP machine, tip them off to this potential for trouble.

So, life continues, much better this year than last. I get periodic invitations to preach and continue to serve on the Committee on Ministry in our Presbytery. Tom applied for a seeing eye dog, but was turned down because he still sees too well to qualify. His eyes appear to have stabilized. He can see enough to walk carefully to avoid things that would cause him to trip. Walking our Cairn, "Mac" can be a challenge, diverting Tom’s attention from the pavement to Mac’s needs.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The first hints of Spring

We're at our beloved campground. The first warm days after winter. Bright sun. Fun to be outdoors. Daffodils are up, ready to bloom in a couple weeks. Tons of leaves piled up from the winter - tree branches down. Planting Astilbes. It's a Friday night. People starting to arrive for the weekend - eager for a break from the winter. The central hot tub will be a gathering spot for old friends to catch up on the news. The water, off for the winter, will be turned on next month. Snow birds will be returning, then. We spent the day enjoying the sun while cleaning out the flower beds.
But it's hard to write about such mundane things when Japan is in meltdown and the middle east is a cauldron of unrest. How to balance our mundane with their earth-shaking catastrophes? Yet life goes on.
Feel sort of schizophrenic - concentrating on today's busywork, while our world is in various states of collapse. Son, Stephen, on a ship assigned to protect the carrier, Ronald Reagan, is no doubt in the middle of the Japan situation. Hoping the nuclear radiation isn't affecting him.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February 15, 2011

I'm still learning how to post things on this blog. I just posted pictures of our New Year's Dinner at Ken's house, pictures of the snow and ice around our apartment complex in the last "big one", and a couple taken last week when we were visiting our campground, for the first time since last September. The pictures aren't in good sequence, but I guess you can make sense of them.

It was good to get back to the trailer after being gone for so long. It was COLD outdoors but we were toasty inside, with a good furnace and an electric blanket. We are so grateful for the great insulation in this old quality-built trailer - so different from the new easy-to-tow lightweights of today. Mostly we just "chilled" as they say. Tom watched TV and I spent most of my time deleting old emails that pile up. And each afternoon brings a shower and soak in the hot tub and some socializing with other members.

Winter months are busy for us. Tom is busy with his NJGM Chorus and I'm working with several churches in our Presbytery, so we're visiting various churches on Sundays and there are meetings during the week as well. I'm on the Finance Committee of our Co-op, where we're looking into various investment options. It's a joy to see the sun earlier in the morning, and the darkness coming later in the evening. Summer will come! And we're looking forward to our summer garden plans.

For those interested in my hearing loss - I can see some improvement, but nerves take a long time to heal. Unfortunately, the middle tones of the organ are still absent, so what remains for me to hear is an unpleasant cacophony of tones having no relationship to "music."  Thankfully, I can hear voices, with my hearing aids. Other than this, our health is fine. (As I write this, I think Tom has Mac watching the Westminster Dog show - hoping he will pick up a few pointers on how a Cairn is supposed to behave.) We're also watching the development of Amendment 10A as it goes through the voting process and seems to be gaining ground. We're praying that it passes, this time. I'm active on Facebook these days, so I encourage you to find us there.