Jerked Around by DST

I hate the time change in the spring. I really wish we could just do away with changing the time. I don't care which one becomes the standard—just pick one and stop moving the clock hands around. 

I may be feeling it more this year because of recent events. I have some trouble with my evenings. I get more anxious as night approaches. I had one difficult night in the ICU when the night nurse kept insisting that I needed some Haldol because my blood pressure was too high and I wasn't sleeping. I finally gave in and let her give me some, but the Haldol just made me loopy and more anxious. I had some very strange dreams that night and it wasn't restful at all (and I have no idea if my blood pressure came down or not). 

[They all seemed to be very fixated on my blood pressure, which I understand; they are very fixated on numbers in the ICU. However, I wanted to say—to this nurse in particular—that perhaps she would like to change places with me and go through what I had just been through and then we would see what her blood pressure was like.] 

Other than that one ICU nurse hassling me, I really did have excellent care there. They took me out of ICU the following day and put me in a regular medical room on the Oncology wing (oh, the irony) for four days until I went home. It was a strangely comforting place to be. The nurses and CNAs there would come in at 8 p.m. to take vitals and say, "We're just going to leave you alone now so you can get some sleep." And I did. I did take a small dose of Ativan in the evenings and they sent me home with some, but I really don't want to continue to take it. I've managed for the past two nights without it. My sleeping and waking schedule is trashed, though, and I know it's because of the time change. This happens every year. I can't fall asleep until about 10 or 11 p.m. and waking up in the mornings is torture. Normally, I just open my eyes around 5:00 or 5:30 and I am awake and ready to go. The husband, in contrast, sets his alarm for 6:00 a.m. and then hits the snooze button every 8 minutes for the next hour. (He is not a morning person.) I have been participating in this snooze-button routine and not getting up until 7:00 a.m and I don't like it. At least I have stopped napping in the afternoons. Yesterday, I did almost my entire normal transcription quota, did three loads of laundry, and changed the sheets on all the beds.  

I am also feeling rather Rip van Winkle-ish, because today marks one month from the night the husband drove me to the emergency room. It certainly doesn't feel like a month ago. 

The husband is trying very hard to help me get back to a normal routine (snooze button notwithstanding). The fire department has a controlled burn of an abandoned building tomorrow and he is going to be gone most of the day. He said to me this morning, "You'll have a whole day of prime sewing time." When I asked him why he thought I should sew tomorrow, he said it was because he thought I should spend time doing something that I like to do. Unfortunately, I am going to be putting in at least a few hours trying to get the tax stuff organized for the accountant. When we told him what had happened, he filed an extension for us, but the IRS is not going to care that I was on a ventilator for a week. 

I might try sewing at least for a little bit. DD#2 went back to Spokane yesterday (she was getting bored being here) and I moved my cutting table back into her room. The pieces for the Ravenwood Messenger Bag that I started the day I came down with the flu are still cut out and waiting to be put together. I don't really want to start anything new until I get some of the existing projects cleared out. 


Spring Break

I picked a good week to go back to work. It's spring break and eight or so of the doctors who dictate regularly are out. Work in the queue has been light. I've been transcribing from about 8 to noon and then taking it easy for the rest of the day. DD#2 drove me to town again yesterday and we ran a bunch of errands. I fell asleep after dinner for about half an hour but I shouldn't have done that because then I couldn't get to sleep when I went to bed. I don't want to mess up an already messed-up schedule any more than it is. 

Still, it's forward progress. Slow, but forward. The physical stamina is going to take longer to come back, I know. That's kind of frustrating because I am used to dashing here and there and doing whatever I need to whenever I need to. 

These arrived the other day:

We didn't only order acorn squash; I got the usual amount of stuff. I had to make sure to order these, though, because they are a particular favorite of my sister's. Two years ago we grew them and she took a bunch back in her suitcase at Christmas. We forgot to get seeds for them last year and she was disappointed. 

My friend Anna brought me two big containers of Mexican rice yesterday. Anna and I get together to drink wine once a month and commiserate about how much food our husbands eat. (Her husband, Billy, owns an excavation company and he eats just about as much food as the husband does.) And Anna owns a catering company, so she has it much worse than I do! She cooks all the time, especially in the summer. We sometimes joke that if anything happened to our husbands, we would move in together and cook the stuff we like to eat for each other. We both like the same kinds of foods—mostly vegetarian-ish. I certainly don't eat as much red meat as the husband. My preferred forms of protein are fish and chicken and lots of beans. Anna knows this, so when I came home from the hospital, there were Anna-made meals for me in the freezer, including lentil soup and enchiladas with vegetables, beans, rice, and quinoa. 

[We had a lot of people bringing food over, but it was mostly pasta and other wheat-based foods. I let the husband eat all of those meals. I ate more pasta than I should have just because the food was there and already prepared, but I started having the usual issues I have with wheat foods so I had to stop. It certainly was a huge help having a lasagna in the freezer, though, that we could pop in the oven for him to eat. And he can eat one entire Costco lasagna all by himself. I don't want to minimize my need for nutritious food, but in some ways, it's more important to keep the husband fed. If he doesn't eat, he can't work, and he needs to work. March is the month when all the seawalls need to get poured down on the lake, before the lake level comes back up.]

Anna's Mexican rice was phenomenal. I had it for lunch and dinner. 

I haven't tried to sew any more this week; DD#2 is here and I had to move all my cutting stuff out of her room so she could sleep in there. There is no point in working on anything until she goes back to school. Besides, I am enjoying her company in the afternoons. It's nice to know that the husband and I raised such fine human beings. 


Back to Work

I told my supervisor that I would log in this morning and work for an hour or so to see how things went. I've been at it, now, for about three hours. I woke up feeling especially good and decided that I will just work until I feel like I need a break (I'm eating lunch). Truly, sitting at a computer typing is not a physically strenous job (mentally strenous, maybe, but not physically). What is really keeping me going, though, is the feeling of normalcy that being back at work is giving me. I needed that. I do understand (and appreciate) all the urging for me to get some rest, but I am not cut out to be an invalid. And something my naturopath said to me keeps coming back. He said that if I had had a traumatic brain injury, I would be one of those people always pushing the boundary to see how much further I could go. I don't see that as a bad thing. I see that as something I should harness and make work to my advantage. 

I am not having much trouble typing, thank goodness. That lack of coordination seems to have been a function of the drugs I was on and I just had to wait until they cleared my system. I am not as fast as I know I was before, but it's been a month. I was also a bit worried about the cognitive part of it; I have a lot (like hundreds) of text expander abbreviations and other small details to keep track of and I was not sure how easy it would be to access all of them. Again, it's the same as with my typing—I am not as fast as I know I was before. but I expect it to come back before long. 

I still don't have a whole lot of stamina. The girls took me to the grocery store yesterday and I was pretty wiped out by the time we had made the rounds. We also stopped at church. They were having a fellowship meal after the service and I knew that would be a good time to put in an appearance. I had to be pretty clear, though, about needing to keep my distance. This is a rather huggy group and I was just not ready to be mobbed like that. I stayed long enough to give everyone an update and then left. 

One of my friends who called last week to check on me said that it was ironic that I had gotten so sick because as he noted, I never go anywhere. And I don't. I go to town maybe twice a week and church on Sunday. It's not like I work in a school or daycare or am around people all day. This experience has left me even less eager to be around people, though. I am still dealing with some claustrophobia/PTSD issues. I am very grateful to the ICU nurse who warned me that I might experience some of that and actually gave me some literature on how to deal with it. My naturopath was going to check in to referring me to a colleague of his who deals with PTSD, but he said she was on sabbatical due to a sick family member and might not be seeing patients right now. The husband has been helping nicely, though, as my therapist. He is slowly (very slowly, because I get overwhelmed) filling in some of the details for me and spends a lot of time listening to me talk through what I remember. I need to work through all of this and move on. 

Having the girls here this weekend was fun. DD#1 flew back to Seattle last night. DD#2 is probably going to be here until Friday. The weather is nice today but it is supposed to snow midweek and then get nice again, so she is going to wait until it's safer to drive over the passes again. 

I am going to work until mid-afternoon and then rest until dinner time. I know I won't get my full quota in, but I am pleased with what I have been able to do so far. 


Your Body Knows

Obviously, one of the things I have been doing since I got home from the hospital is monitoring my body and how I feel very closely. The first three nights I was home, I really felt like I needed something. The closest I could get to determining what I was craving was to have the husband mix me up some Hammer electrolyte tablets. Hammer Nutrition is a local company and they make a supplement that is similar to Emergen-C. The electroyte solution was close, but it didn't hit the mark. 

When I saw my naturopath on Wednesday, we talked about the best way to clear all of those high-power medications/opioids out of my system. As soon as he said, "Your adrenals need some support," I knew what I had to do. I have a recipe for a very simple solution comprised of water, whole food vitamin C powder (not ascorbic acid), sea salt, and cream of tartar (to provide potassium).  The adrenal glands thrive on vitamin C, and I knew I was low in potassium because they had given me supplemental potassium in the hospital (and very helpfully gave me a copy of all the labwork I had had done while I was in there.) The sea salt provides trace minerals. 

On Thursday, I mixed up that adrenal cocktail three times during the day and drank it. As soon as I downed the first one, I knew that it was what my body had been craving and what I think I was trying to get from those Hammer tablets. I had been terribly light-headed every time I stood up and that finally went away. I've been drinking that mixture three times a day since and I can tell what a difference it has made. Between that and being back on my vitamins (Nordic Naturals cod liver oil capsules for vitamin A, a quality B-complex, and the adrenal cocktail for the vitamin C), I feel like I have made some real progress in the last couple of days, although "progress" is uneven. Some things are still easier for me to do than others. I was able to pay bills and reconcile the husband's business account, but it took me a bit longer than it normally would. I have been writing thank-you notes, but printing them because cursive is still beyond me. Interestingly, my piano playing does not seem to have suffered much. My naturopath said to play even if I thought I sounded awful just to keep my fingers moving. I have a new book of music and have been working on three of the pieces in that book, playing for about an hour a day. I can knit. 

Typing has gotten easier, too. I talked to my supervisor and I am going to work for an hour or two on Monday and see how it goes. They could have thrown me off that account and on to a different one—which would make me very sad—but they have held that job for me for a month. I don't want to wait much longer to get back to work. (Also, I am getting really bored.) Typing on my transcription PC is easier than typing on my Mac because they have two different keyboards. I may be as slow as I was when I first started transcribing six years ago, but it is important to me to get back to work. And I do feel better when I am up and moving around as long as I remember to stop and rest when I need to. I am not sure when I'll start driving again, but honestly—I have no desire (and no need) to be out in public right now. I thought about going to church this Sunday but I think I am going to wait one more week. 

I even sewed for a bit yesterday. The husband was helping me to put some things away last night before I went to bed and he pointed out how much progress I had made in a week. When I came home last Thursday, I had to get around using a walker. I couldn't take a bath by myself (or even be by myself, for that matter). I spent most of the first four days either on the couch or in bed. Now I can go up and down stairs as I need to. I can load and unload the dishwasher and do laundry. I can make breakfast for both of us. I still won't take a shower unless someone is here in the house with me, but at least I can take care of my own personal hygiene again. I was here all day yesterday by myself and able to do everything that needed to be done, although I did spend a fair bit of time just sitting in my chair in the afternoon reading a book. 

I wasn't sure what to expect when I tried sewing. Before I got sick, I had cut out a second waxed canvas Wool + Wax Tote and the pieces were still waiting for me to work on them. A bag like that normally takes me an hour and a half, start to finish. It took me an hour and a half yesterday morning to make the pocket and sew it to the lining. Some of that is my brain not working as quickly as I would like it to (see reconciling bank statement, above). Some of that is the normal spatial perception issues I have—I was working with a directional fabric for the lining and had to think about what I was doing. But I needed to sew something to see where the parameters were for that particular skill. Let's just say I won't be making any complicated quilts or bags any time soon, but at least I can thread my sewing machine and sew a seam. Yay me. 

So my priorities for the next couple of weeks are:

  • Getting back to work (this is the big one).
  • Nourishing my body with the nutrients it needs.
  • Being able to take care of all the basic household stuff again (I admit to being spoiled by not having to cook, which has been really nice).
  • Being able to play in church again (Easter, perhaps?). 

Everything else is just going to have to wait and happen when it happens. It is encouraging to see progress, though, considering I basically lost an entire month of my life. 

DD#1 got here last night on the late flight from Seattle and DD#2 is driving home from Spokane today—it's her spring break. I am going to have DD#2 take me in for a haircut this week; it's time for one anyway, but I am going to have my stylist cut it a bit shorter this time so that's one less thing I'll have to worry about.

And hopefully soon, you will get blog posts on more interesting things than medical updates. The seed order should be here next week. As long as we get things started in the greenhouse by the second week of April, we should still be in good shape. We will probably have chicks some time in mid-April, too. Summer is going to come whether I am ready for it or not. I plan to be ready. 


Followup Visit

I went to see my doctor yesterday. He is actually a naturopath, not an MD, but he is the person I trust most in the world with my ongoing medical treatment and I had a great visit with him. Usually I see him for an half an hour visit, but I was there for a full hour yesterday while we went over everything that had happened in the last couple of weeks and made a plan for recovery. 

I need to make it clear here that I do no not—obviously—eschew conventional medical treatment. Hospitals and specialists are the appropriate places and people to treat the post-flu pneumonia that I got. I am grateful for their existence and knowledge. (I truly think I got better care here at our local hospital than I got 24 years ago for leukemia at the Cleveland Clinic, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which were our hospital's staff and the incredibly nourishing food.) Still, I needed validation from my naturopath that my plan for getting back up and running is the correct one. And it was nice to hear from him that he has a good relationship with some of the doctors at the local hospital and that they kept him in the loop about what was going on. I think an antagonistic relationship between MDs and naturopaths does no one any favors; each area has its strengths and weaknesses. 

The one thing he suggested which made a huge difference was a B12 shot—about two hours after I got the B12 shot, I started to feel more like myself and a ravenous appetite came roaring back. I lost 18 pounds while I was in the hospital and really haven't felt like eating since I had been home, despite all the food people have brought over. He also knows me well enough to know that I am not one to lie around doing nothing. His advice was to listen to my body: do what I feel I can do, but before I get too tired, I need to stop what I am doing and rest periodically. 

So I am trying to synthesize the two different sides of medical treatment and take the best of each. I felt much better after seeing him (and after that B12 shot). I feel like I can see the path through the weeds and back to my life. 

The girls will be here soon; DD#1 is coming tomorrow for the weekend (she loves her new job in Seattle) and DD#2 has spring break next week. Seeing them is going to be good medicine indeed.