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Showing posts with label health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health. Show all posts

Sunday, March 24, 2019 1 comment

Losing a Charlieweight

About six months ago, my weigh-in at the doctor’s office was not a happy occasion for me. I came in around 234 lbs, the most I’ve ever weighed. The doc didn’t give me too much grief about it, but suggested I try to get more active.

Fortune was looking out for me, though. Work and the group insurance team up to sponsor a program called “Naturally Slim.” “Lose weight while eating the foods you love,” the website proclaims. Yeah, by not eating very much of it, I thought, but figured I needed to do something. So I signed up.

Turned out I was right. But the part I missed was, they give you the tools to eat less… or at least remind you of what the tools are. What makes it work is, they tie the tools to their purpose (which in this case is getting to and maintaining a healthy weight without starving yourself). It boils down to three core principles:

  1. Eat when you’re hungry (but before you get to that RAW MEAT NOW!!!! stage).
  2. Eat slow.
  3. Stop when you’re full.

There’s more to it, but all the “more” is to support those core principles.

Yeah, yeah, so how’s it working?

Together, we weigh what I used to weigh
on my own. (Photo credit: Mason)
Quite well, actually. There have been times I’ve fallen off the wagon, but all that means is that you jump back on. I can now wear all the pants I couldn’t before because they were too tight, and have had to ditch some that won’t stay on anymore. My belt is at the tightest notch, and in the last week I’ve been trying to pull it in yet another notch… time for a new belt. I passed my current goal, 199.9, this last week. Since Charlie is 34 pounds right now, I’ve lost an entire Charlie worth of weight.

I had to celebrate with an “oil change,” that is, a chili dog and onion rings from Varsity Jr. I ate it slow and enjoyed every bit of it… and it was just enough to get me full. And that's another advantage: if you go to a restaurant, you can often get three meals for the price of two—or even two for the price of one. Or you can order off the value menu and save about half what you would usually spend. For example, I hit upon a "mini" quesadilla and nachos combo at Taco Bell that costs about $4. I can order it on my phone from the office, and it's ready (or nearly so) when I arrive to pick it up.

Next goal is 194 lb, which is the lowest I’ve weighed since moving to FAR Manor. I’m not sure I’ll be able to reach my final goal of 185 lb, but it’s something to aim for.

Friday, December 07, 2018 2 comments

A TB02 of sorts…

A long time ago, back when The Boy had more than his share of teen angst to deal with, I had a series of “TB” error codes. TB02 was “He moved back home (again).” (Dang… this blog is old. 13 in Internet years is like “going out for lunch meant we hunted wild tacos with spears.”)

Fast-forward to now. He’s married, living in his own house, starting a business, and doing a decent job of adulting. Unfortunately, he ended up with some health issues that put him in the hospital for the better part of two weeks (not his foot this time). During that time, his wife & his mom got together and really kept things going, spending days and nights with him, making sure he was being taken care of—I was thrilled at how well they worked together. Still, he was bored $#¡+less, and was more than ready to get outta there and get back to his life.

Yesterday, they sprung him, but with a condition: he can’t be left by himself for a week. The daughter in law has to work (hey, I totally understand, because I do too)—so he’s here at FAR Manor. He’s not really moving back in, just hanging out with us for a week, so it’s not a real TB02. I’m sure Mason is happy to have him around, because he was supposed to stay with his dad for a few days Thanksgiving week, but with one thing or another, I haven’t gotten home before Mason was asleep in bed.

Yeah, The Boy missed Thanksgiving, but I think we’re going to have an extra dinner this weekend. After all, we really have something to be thankful for this time.

Thursday, July 26, 2018 4 comments

Stay on, your toes

The Boy continues to embrace the whole home ownership thing. He has a pretty decent garden spot (mostly hot peppers, with a few other things) and is talking about adding a room. A really good thing, he's been keeping up with his glucose and insulin for the last six months or so.

Of course, there are downsides. About a month ago, a bad storm came through and dropped a tree limb on their newest car, totaling it. At least it was parked, which means comprehensive kicks in (lower deductible) and no ding on his driving record.

Then there was the garden incident… at least, as best as we can figure. He was weeding when his foot started burning (wearing sandals), but the pain faded quickly and he kept at it. He saw a blister later was all.

A few days later, he had a pretty heavy-duty infection in his foot, and ended up in a hospital in Carrolton. We grabbed a hotel to spend the night down there. The surgeon told everyone, “we’ll do what we can, but he’s probably going to lose four toes.” Yeowch!

So they wheeled him in, and we flipped out our tablets to wait for the news, whether good or bad. Finally, a nurse called us into the consultation room. The surgeon said, “the infection hadn’t gone to the bone, or got into the tendons, so we cut out the infected tissues.” So far so good… everything was still attached. For now. Even better: “he still has pretty good circulation in his feet, that helps.”

They wheeled him back to his room, and the surgeon came by to tell him what was next: they would leave his foot wrapped up for a few days, then the wound care specialist would come by and check for any further infection. At that point, they would decide whether his toes could stay attached a little longer. The way he talked, it sounded like a 50/50 proposition.

This is the GOOD side!
We went home, but kept in touch via text, until we returned to the hospital for The Unveiling.

No infection! Yay!

The wound care specialist came in and said, “three things if you want to keep your toes: don’t smoke, don’t walk on that foot, and keep up with your insulin.” There were other particulars, including a special boot he wears to walk around safely, but those are details.

The wife took a pic of the bottom of his foot. I really don’t want to inflict that one on you… there was basically a trench about 1/2" wide and deep, running across the joints. Top view is bad enough (the bruised big toenail came from him dropping something on his foot while doing a moving job).

Last week, we got a report (and a pic): the wound care specialist says it’s healing up faster than expected. Indeed, the pic showed a small oval of raw flesh surrounded by new skin. Woohoo!

So what caused all this? The symptoms were all consistent with a brown recluse bite. We may never know what happened, but I’m willing to blame spiders.

Thursday, March 29, 2018 1 comment

Patching Things Up

Charlie is mostly laid back, but he definitely has a lazy eye. A few weeks ago, we got to head down to the 'burbs to see an eye doctor—whether they specialize in pediatric eye care, or have an “in” with the state, what does it matter? Wife wanted me to take a day off work and come along… since it was on a Thursday, I also took Friday and made it a four-day weekend.

I was curious how they would get a squirmy toddler to look where they wanted, and I found out. They have a number of gadgets designed to get a child’s attention—a mechanical owl on the other side of the room, a clown toy that does jumping jacks when you push a button—yet another one of those it’s obvious when you think about it things.

yawwwwwn uh… arrrrr.
The upshot was, Charlie has to wear a patch on his left eye for two hours per day for the next month or so. They gave us a handful of samples to get us started, and (of course) you can get nearly two months’ supply on Amazon for $20 or so (and we did).

The cool thing about the big box is that it has an assortment of patterns—camo, wizard (robe, wands, Harry Potter-esque glasses), rockets… and, of course, pirates! By the time I got this picture, Charlie was well on the way to lala-land. I ended up peeling the patch off (which woke him up a little, of course) and putting him to bed soon after.

It only took a couple days for Charlie to mostly stop picking at the patch while he has it on. Once it’s on, if we keep him occupied for a couple of minutes, he pretty much forgets about it unless he gets bored. So far so good. Getting daycare to remember the patch is kind of hit-or-miss right now, though. Oh well. One thing at a time.

When it comes time to take it off, though, I guess Charlie knows to keep his eyes peeled…

Thursday, January 11, 2018 2 comments

Brace Yourself

With Charlie’s second birthday, he’s finally starting to take those all-important solo first steps. To give him a little more practice, I’ve been walking with him some, trying to get him to hold only one hand and walk beside me. (Besides, I’m less likely to step on his feet that way.)

A while back, one of the therapists said he would need braces to get his feet aligned properly. I immediately conjured a mental image of the hardware Forrest Gump wore in the early part of the movie. But when he came home with them, I had a surprise:

Ankle brace, really
Just a foam-lined plastic cup that goes around his ankle, and a Velcro™ strap to hold it on. To be honest, I'm not sure how they work. They’re called Supra-Malleolar Orthoses (or SMOs), and are designed to be worn with shoes.

Now shoes were an interesting issue. Charlie’s feet are still pretty thick, although not as blobby as they used to be, and he’s supposed to wear shoes over the braces. The orthopedist suggested a wide shoe, a little oversize with laces, and we figured he would need an 8W. Surprise! Most shoe stores didn’t have anything suitable. After a few attempts, I gave up and went to the nearby Target. We soon found out why the orthopedist recommended laces—between the brace and Charlie’s thick foot, the Velcro straps barely reached across at best.

Amazingly enough, I found a pair of shoes that fit the bill:

High-tops, no less!
High-tops? Well, they fit. The zipper on the side turned out to be the key there—unzipping it gave enough room to slide the braced foot in without having to unlace the entire shoe.

Unfortunately, the shoes aren’t very well-balanced… something one might expect from a big-box shoe. They’re too heavy in the toe, so Charlie was dragging his toes when we walked with him. The orthopedist gave us a set of shoes that are made to work with the SMOs—at least the Velcro strap goes all the way across. They’re kind of clompy-looking, but they do seem to work. We’ll keep the high-tops for when he’s older and no longer needs the braces.

Let the Games Begin

Now this is the world according to Charlie:

Paper is treasure.
Bread is dessert.
Anything on his feet is an abomination.

Keeping socks on his feet has always been a chore. Any time he gets a moment to think, off they come. One morning, I was taking him to daycare in the Miata (he likes riding in the little car, because I’m always within reach). He made his “heyyy” noise, and I glanced over. He had one foot in the air, and his hand on the end of his sock.

“Don’t do it,” I told him. He grinned and yanked it off. Little rat.

Now, to get his socks off, he has a couple other things to remove first. Developmental issues my rear; he may still be non-verbal, but he figured out how to pull those Velcro straps quick enough. Ah, and the satisfying ripping noise they make! Rip, and the shoe can come off. Rip, and there goes the SMO. The sock doesn’t make any noise, but bare feet in the breeze makes up for that. Usually, he works one foot at a time. Given a trip of any significant distance, and he’s either asleep or barefoot (or both) at the end of the journey. With the cold (by Planet Georgia standards) weather we got with Winter #2, it was often a mad scramble to get his footgear back on before getting him out. Sometimes, like at the grocery store, we just left the gear in the car and took him inside barefoot. Cold doesn’t bother him.

He still prefers to crawl—but as his balance continues to improve, he often free-stands and will walk short distances (four or five steps). His biggest problem is he’s trying to lean forward and run before he can walk. It won’t be long before we’re shoring up all the old baby-proofing and hearing Mason rage-scream about Charlie messing up his stuff.

Thursday, August 03, 2017 1 comment

Hitting My Stride, and Other Stuff

Sunday morning, I went to get something from the kitchen, when I realized I was walking my like old, pre-knee-issues self—long, brisk strides that covered ground with only the tiniest twinge of discomfort from the Whiny Quadriceps. Hey! I thought, I’m back! That, more than anything, convinced me I’m close to fully recovered. After a week of my feet giving me grief, one or both at a time (while Charlie is cutting molars and wants to be held more than usual, which is a lot), it felt really good to walk instead of limp or shuffle.

I guess cutting those molars is really rough on a baby. Charlie is trying to be his normal happy self, but he’ll start crying at anything or nothing at all. But here’s a pic from a couple weeks ago, when Mason also felt like cutting up:

Just me and the boys… Charlie's trying to grab the phone, of course.

With school starting today(!!), we swapped our Labor Day timeshare week for one in July, and so we escaped FAR Manor last week. We spent a lot of time at the pool, and Charlie loves the water. We have a float he can sit in, with his legs in the water, and he can reach out and splash with his hands. Definitely his happy place. But mid-week was when he started cutting molars, and started getting rundown and moody later in the last few days.

Meanwhile, Mason wanted to try this zipline place near the resort, and Skylar stayed with us for the first half of the week, so we took them over there. The big ziplines were beyond their ability, but they had smaller "adventure" runs over a rope bridge, a rolling platform… and finally, a short zipline:

So that’s pretty much the end of summer at FAR Manor, even if we have all of August to get through.

Saturday, June 03, 2017 4 comments

Saturday Rugrat Roundup, plus a Knee Update

Charlie can’t quite reach him… for now.
School’s out, and that means Mason’s around a lot more. Charlie definitely approves of that, and wants to be in on the action as much as possible. But in the mornings, Mason just wants to have some quiet time watching YouTubes or playing Minecraft… and he goes through some rather odd contortions to keep Charlie from interfering.

I’m still mostly at home, although in the last week I’m now able to get in and out of the van without much discomfort. Wife has decided since I can get around with a cane instead of the walker, she can take off to her dad’s and leave me with the boys… pretty much as if I were 100%. Most of the time when I’m supposed to be working, I have the house to myself, but early mornings and late afternoons are problematic.

I was framed! Framed, I tell ya!
As for Charlie, he’s become a very good crawler. He will go from one end of the manor to the other, and find bits of debris and slobbered-on dog toys that mere mortals just can’t see. We bought a pair of 16-foot enclosures/baby fences to cordon off parts of the living room where he shouldn’t go, although they work very good as a baby pen. Naturally, Charlie doesn’t want to be on a clean rug and surrounded by his own toys—he wants to get into everything else! Still, after a couple minutes of complaining, he’ll often settle down and start playing. There’s more room than the old Pack&Play, and we could always add another panel or two from the second one if we decide he needs more room. Charlie’s therapist took to the new setup right away, and enticed him to walk the entire perimeter of his new cage, following her phone playing an episode of Sesame Street.

As for me, I continue to heal. The in-home therapist is satisfied with my range of motion, and this afternoon he discharged me to start outpatient therapy. I’m supposed to get a call on Monday with the schedule (and presumably anything I need to bring along).

I just happened to have one of my twice-yearly checkups on Tuesday, so I went on in. Wednesday, I get a call from the office—when it begins, “you don’t have to go to the ER, but,” it’s not a call to give you the warm fuzzies. Turns out my platelet counts were through the roof, past a million, and they were worried about me developing blood clots. Seeing as someone I know died of a blood clot in her 20s, my stress levels puffed up like a startled blowfish. Anyway, they prescribed me a powerful blood thinner, and scheduled me with a hematologist on Friday. I calmed myself by figuring if I didn’t have to see the specialist for two days, it couldn’t be that serious… although I did keep a mental list of symptoms.

Fortunately, none of the blood-clot-getting-loose symptoms manifested, and I got to the hematologist in good order. They ran another blood test, which showed my platelets were down to 630,000—still way high, but something like half what they were three days ago. My iron was low, though, perhaps for the first time in my life. She thus suggested I cut back my blood thinner dosage (“as fast as that count came down, I don’t want you getting too low”) and start taking an iron supplement, and come back next Friday to see what to do from there.

The low iron would explain why I’ve wanted to have a nap every early afternoon day this week, although my crappy sleep cycles (I haven’t had a normal night’s sleep since before the surgery) could have explained that as well. But I slept all the way to 6 this morning, so I’m hoping to be mostly normal (health-wise, forget the other kind of normal) in the next few days.

Time for my afternoon exercise routine. May you never have to have a knee replacement!

Saturday, May 20, 2017 2 comments

Kneecapped, 2017: Progress

Ah, to heal like Wolverine… because I never would have had to do this in the first place! But a week later, I’m making visible progress.

Stylish stripes!
Early in the week, I decided I needed to have some kind of morning routine besides sitting in the recliner and doing my therapy exercises. I’ve never been one to care about appearances much—except, ironically enough, I’m a little vain about my legs—but looking presentable is a definite mental boost. So each morning, I get dressed, shave, then sit at the desktop and do things that are more difficult to deal with on the mobile devices. I can actually get some useful stuff done that way, and that also gave my attitude a boost.

Keeping up with the three-a-day exercises is a chore, but I set alarms in my phone to remind me when to do them. The same therapist who worked with the wife, when she had her knee done, is now working with me. Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Those are painful… that deep, annoying pain that’s the equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard. Fortunately, that fades to an ache (still annoying) quickly enough. He gave me some additional exercises on top of the ones I brought home from the hospital.

Sunday, I decided to explore that “as tolerated” part of the repaired leg’s weight-bearing. I found it could tolerate a lot more than I had expected, leading me to wonder why I’m plonking around with a walker. I got my answer Monday: OMG was I stiff! That made therapy extra-OUCH-special. It didn’t help that the A/C wasn’t working (turned out to be a bunch of dead rats in the fan) for a few days.

The wife helped me get a shower Tuesday night. Soon after, the dressing peeled off (which was OK according to the doc) and we put a fresh one on. Despite my taking aspirin for pain relief as well as blood thinning, when that one came off, there wasn’t even a spot of blood on it. We’ve just let it get some air since then. Somewhere in there, the tight muscles began to loosen up. A little. Getting in and out of the recliner is easier and less painful. I’m putting less weight on the walker.

Friday, the staples came out, and my new stripey-knee style came in. I like it. The therapist is still clucking about getting my knee to straighten out completely, but was encouraging that I was able to straight-leg lift my heel a quarter-inch off the bed. Seeing that the quadriceps muscle wasn’t even working on Monday, that was a step forward. Getting in and out of the van wasn’t any less painful than a week earlier, when I got out of the hospital, but I’m no longer on hospital-grade painkillers.

So I got on the bed to do my exercises this morning, and I managed to lift that leg all the way off the bed! Now that’s what I call progress. I’ve also been able to shuffle behind the walker without putting weight on it, but (given the previous experiment) I’m not doing that one so much.

Looks like I might be good for resuming work (from home, anyway) come Wednesday. Not sure how much longer it will be before I can drive myself around again. I just hope I can be a pain-free passenger soon… that would be a good step forward.

Saturday, May 13, 2017 4 comments

Kneecapped 2017, post-op

Chainsaw go ning-ning-ning-ning…
The deed was done Wednesday morning, and Friday afternoon I was back at the manor. I only got four hours of sleep Tuesday night, because Charlie wasn’t sleeping well and I got up with him. So I was already pretty well out of it when I got to the hospital at 6:15am, and don’t remember much of anything after shucking my clothes in the prep room, putting on the standard extra-drafty hospital gown that would be my home for the next however long, and getting stuck for the IV. When I came to (at least to myself), they had just deposited me in my room. And there I sat. Or laid, actually.

I had prepared a bag for the wife to bring, containing my iPad, Kindle, a charger, and cables. She neglected to bring it up when I first saw her, but I was still sleeping more than waking. The same foot massagers they had put on her when she did this a few years back were now buzzing and squeezing my own feet. So some hours went by quicker than expected, and soon she was back with the goodie bag. That first day was okay, except that the nurses were a little slow to get around to me. I picked at my lunch (dry turkey, some interesting potatoes, green beans, fruit), caught up on the dumpster fire that is the daily news these days, read a little, played some solitaire, and listened to all the noises that are part of a modern hospital facility (even one out in Sector 706).

Except for two bobbles that first day, where it took an hour for someone to come after I buzzed, and the day nurse didn't take me walking up the hallway, things went smoothly. But sleep, even with pain-killers, was kind of elusive. I kind of skimmed the surface of sleep, with repetitive dreams (mostly about work of all things). I finally sat up on the side of the bed to use the undignified bucket they give you to pee in, and nearly filled it, sometime around 4am.

Thursday was a little better. My appetite and the food both improved, an ombudsman asked us if we had any problems (I told them about the hour wait on Wed), a therapist came by, and I got to talk with some people on the Outside―the wife and Charlie, Mom, and the home therapist who would be coming by after I got home. Except for the two patients whose meds were maladjusted, and who could thus be heard from the other side of the hospital, of course. I kept running out the saline they kept putting in my IV, and actually did fill the 1-liter bucket once. On my third walk down the hall, I reached the nurses’ station and thus “graduated.”

So I came home Friday. Getting in and out of the minivan was harder than I hoped, but I made it into the manor and to the recliner. The first home therapy visit was this morning, and I’m left with a feeling of “I can do this.” If only I can make sure nothing gets infected…

Saturday, March 04, 2017 7 comments

Kneecapped, 2017 edition

Tonya, Queen of Kneecaps
image source: about.com
Last Wednesday, the knee started twinging. I didn’t give it much thought, because it does that once or twice a year. I baby it a few days, it gets better. This time, it waited until Monday to kick it up a… dozen notches or more. It hasn’t hurt this bad since before the surgery, and that was before Mason was born.

The normal RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) routine hasn’t seemed to help—in fact, icing it seems to only make it worse, and it can only stand being in a knee brace for an hour or so. Sleeping has been a chore all week, because I can’t find a comfortable position. One of the recliners almost works, and I got a relatively decent amount of sleep last night, but I’m having to watch myself to not get cranky with the kids or the wife. I’ve had to work at home all week, and the wife has done her usual “leave Charlie with me while I’m supposed to be working and go take care of everyone else” routine.

When it had not improved by Tuesday, I got a doctor’s appointment. It started feeling a little better by the time I arrived, of course. They sent me out for X-rays anyway, and I got the results yesterday: arthritis and bone spurs.

Next step is the orthopedist who roto-rooted this knee almost eight years ago. That visit’s scheduled for Tuesday, and I wonder how it’s going to turn out. Maybe scraping the thing every seven or eight years will keep it mostly functional. I’m not sure how I feel about a replacement just yet.

But I’ll keep you posted.

Saturday, January 14, 2017 2 comments


Back in October, Mom had a pacemaker installed. It’s a routine thing these days, almost an outpatient procedure. They keep you overnight, wait for the happy juice to wear off, then send you home with a long list of things you can’t do for the next six weeks.

That should have been the end of the story, but would I be blogging about it if that was the case?

To begin with, Mom is pretty dang athletic for being 80, so there isn’t a lot of excess padding where a surgeon can hide a pacemaker. So they just stuck it under her skin, making a nice little lump but otherwise not interfering much. My youngest brother Solar lives near her, so he made sure things like laundry and heavy lifting got taken care of until she was off restrictions.

That should have been the end of the story. Again. But…

Whether it was a matter of the pacemaker being too close to the surface, or one of those airborne things getting into the mix during surgery, an infection set in. One of those nasty antibiotic-resistant hospital infections. Of course, this happened right before Christmas, when we planned to come down. Solar ran out of chill and advised us to cancel our hotel and just stay home. Meanwhile, they yanked the pacemaker and put on (on, not in) a temporary, then started shotgunning the antibiotics.

Wife suggested I go down myself, day after Christmas, and Solar was good with that. He had been taking care of his business and Mom’s, and was going into negative-chill over the hospital wanting to send her home despite never having done that when a patient has a temporary pacemaker. Still, Mom wanted to be in her place, and I suspect the hospital wanted to prevent a possible secondary infection. So I came down, and Solar got to have a break for a while.

Mom looked a lot better than Solar was describing—definitely not 100%, but able to dress herself, fix her own food, and so on. A home nurse came in daily to help keep up with her medications and do blood tests. So here she was: pacemaker taped to her shoulder, a pump pulling the crud out of the infected area, a PICC line in her arm—tubes and machines everywhere. Cyborg-Mom! Her primary complaint was “I only got to play tennis twice before this happened!”

I thought Solar was worrying way too much. Sure, he was comparing Mom to herself at 100%, but she was able to handle the basic tasks of life. We went to the grocery store, she made coffee, and helped me fix a meal or two. I was comparing her to my father-in-law, who only gets out of his chair when he needs to use the can or eat. He completely depends on the wife (mine) to get his meals, arrange his meds, and bathe him. Compared to that, Mom seemed hardly affected… besides being unable to play tennis, of course. I even got to take a couple walks on the beach, where I saw six people using a four-person inflatable float and a melting snowman (sandman). Had to look up the float; I might get one for our week at the timeshare.

Put me in summer and I'll be a… HAPPY SNOWMAN!

So back to Mom. Once they identified the infection (a cousin of tuberculosis), they knocked off the shotgun antibiotics and gave her one or two that had the most effect against the bad buggly. (Good thing, all those drugs were starting to bang on her kidneys a little too hard.) So the infection started clearing up, and they took the pump off. Mom really bounced back after that; she always had to remember to pick up the bag with the pump and make sure the lines weren’t going to snag on something. I kind of missed it; it made a soft fart sound every ten minutes or so, which thoroughly delighted my inner 12-year-old. (“Yeah, Mom, blame it on the pump!”)

So I went home on New Years Eve, and she went into the hospital on the 3rd to get the new pacemaker put in. This time, they put it into a muscle so there wouldn’t be a repeat problem.

That should have been the end of the story. But… are we starting to see a pattern here?

She came home on the 4th, and the very next day she was right back in for a mild heart attack. They ran a catheter in, and found no blockage, so they concluded it was stress-related. (Stress? Now why would she be stressed?)

She got to come home a few days later, and everything is finally more or less on an even keel. We rescheduled our vacation for spring break, I got reservations at the cottages we often stay at, and she should be back to playing tennis by the time we come down in early April.

Not even 2016 could do for Mom. Nobody messes with Mom.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016 2 comments

Weekend of Woof

Our weekend began well enough, until Mason… shall we say, displayed symptoms of a 24-hour stomach virus starting late Friday evening. The fun went on a little while through the night, then settled down. Saturday went well—Mason bounced right back well before lunch, and was playing outside. I managed to get the lawn mowed, and started editing Blink on a paper copy.

Call it the eye of the hurricane.

Source: oversharing.tmi
Sunday late afternoon/early evening, the wife started feeling pretty rotten, and I was about three hours behind her. “I meant to tell Daughter Dearest to bring up that medicine,” she said.

“We’ve got Pepto here,” I replied.

“That won’t work.”

Be that as it may, I figured it wouldn’t make things worse, and took a couple tablespoons when I started feeling queasy. It seemed to work for me; I only had MGV (Merde Gran Vitesse) to deal with. I skipped supper, and slept very lightly, but I slept. Unfortunately, the “lightly” part meant I woke up whenever the wife ran for the bathroom, which happened several times through the night. Thankfully, Charlie slept through the night. One less thing to worry about.

Monday morning came. Sizzle came up to watch Charlie, while I felt human enough to take Mason to school. On the way home, I picked up a bunch of Powerade. My first act upon returning home was to email work and tell them I wouldn’t be coming in. I poked at a couple things online, sipping at a tall glass of Powerade, then got back in bed and stayed there until about 2:30pm. By then, I felt quite a bit better—even though I’d skipped three meals in a row for the first time in, like, forever. Wife was past it as well, although she was debilitated and most likely dehydrated. I spent the rest of the afternoon finishing a paper edit of Blink, and plying the wife with fluids.

By supper time, I felt more hungry than crampy, and decided to have a sandwich. It gave me no problem, which was good, but I was ready to sack it again by 10:30. That was good, because Charlie woke up at 6:15 this morning. I got him a diaper change and bottle, and he went right back to sleep right when Mason got up (also a little early). So we got him off to school, and me back to work. Wife is still a little tired this evening, but is otherwise recovering well.

I sure hope Charlie avoids getting it. Nobody should have to go through this, but that goes double for a baby. Besides, this stomach virus already violated the Interspecies Accord by hitting more than one person in the house at a time, so it needs to leave the rugrat alone.

Friday, August 28, 2015 3 comments

Pain in the… [UPDATED]

It’s off to the doctor’s office with me. If you’re wondering what’s happening, I’ll give you a hint:

UPDATE: In at 10:30, out at 12:30. They put me OUT for the procedure, so I didn’t feel a thing besides the IV… and the horrible purging procedure yesterday, anyway. Doc said “we removed one polyp, nothing evil.” There shouldn’t have been anything evil up there… all that got shot out the tailpipe last night.

The nurse said I’d probably want to have a nap when I got home to sleep off the rest of the anesthesia, and she was right. She also told me no booze until tomorrow, which kind of shot down my plan for this evening. Tomorrow is, however, another day!

Thursday, August 13, 2015 4 comments

Big V's Scary Week

As some of you remember, my nutty one-legged sister in law is diabetic. And she’s never been the most stable isotope on the periodic table. Most of that side of the family have an amazingly high clue-immunity… you can see where this is leading. The reason she’s one-legged is that she doesn’t take care of herself very well, refuses to adjust her high-carb diet to accommodate the diabetes, etc. Lately, her continued avoidance of reality has taken its toll on her kidneys.

Sunday afternoon, she checked into the hospital to get hookups for dialysis. It was supposed to be a two-night thing, including her first dialysis. As usual, her body chemistry had to get un-whacked by a day or so of decent diet before they were comfortable doing the surgery. So that happened on Monday. Everything sailed right on through, no problem. I visited her on the way home from work, since the office is about a mile from that hospital.

The “fun” began Tuesday morning. Her blood pressure started dropping, and continued to drop, to the point where they thought she was in cardiac arrest and started doing chest compressions. The head nurse, who dropped by when the wife met me there in the evening, said “you scared the crap out of me.” She remembers Big V saying I can’t die, I have to take care of Skylar. And perhaps that’s the only reason she’s still here to annoy the rest of us. :-P

Needless to say, the two-nighter dragged on another day or two. They rolled the dialysis machine into her room and hooked her in… and her numbers responded very well. So well, in fact, they were in the normal range after the second dialysis. They ended up unhooking her and sent her home late last night. No more dialysis! That’s a very good thing, because guess who would be taking her down there? (wife, not me)

Now, if she gets her act together and starts eating right, she'll stay reasonably healthy. And I’ll be watching for flying pigs…

Tuesday, March 04, 2014 2 comments

Spring #3 comes in like a… kneecap

Winter #3 brought snow and a little ice to FAR Manor, and a recurrence of the winter congestion that lingers for weeks. About the time the snow started melting in earnest, I was finally able to get outside and let Mason play around in what was left. He had a good time all in all, and had a howling fit about having to come inside to get warm and dry.

Then Spring #3 really got itself going, right at the end of February, and it promised a real spring to come (not soon enough). I even drove home with the top down on my Miata one sunny evening, at least until I got about 10 miles from home. There hasn’t been a Winter #4 yet, but it had better hurry up if it’s going to get here. The best part is that weekends have often been warm and sunny, while the crappy weather comes in through the week when I have to be in the office anyway.

Tonya Harding
Tanya, Queen of Kneecaps
So… the last weekend in February. Absolutely gorgeous. I spent a few hours cutting firewood for the not-so-warm nights, then washed my car. Somewhere in there, I banged my knee—the one that isn’t all that good to begin with, of course. I can’t remember how I did it, but thought at the time, “I hope I didn’t knock another bone chip off it.” But it stopped hurting after a couple minutes, so I completely forgot about it and went about my business.

Until evening, when it started hurting. And continued to hurt. By Monday, I was wondering where Reality the crutch had gone (it’s not in the closet where it belongs). To make matters even more fun, that stomach virus going around caught up with me Tuesday, because I couldn’t outrun it. I learned how to limp very quickly to the bathroom.

At work, there’s a first-aid kit with various useful things. There’s a dispenser of stuff called Pain-Aid, which is half aspirin and half ibuprofen. This combination seemed to improve things immensely. By Saturday, it was feeling fairly good… and then the wife had a bunch of errands that needed to be run and no time to run them. Off I went, limping around this store and that, and you can guess the result: by that night it was screaming again.

Rest and ibuprofen (and the ice cuff) have helped; today, it has been mostly usable. Still, it’s off to the doc tomorrow morning to check it out. Once it’s working right, maybe I can enjoy Spring #4.

Thursday, November 28, 2013 4 comments

Home for the Holiday

Home, home again
I like to be here, when I can
— Pink Floyd

I took the three days off work that the office was open this week, but it wasn’t even a staycation.

Last week, the wife went into the doc’s about her knee. Over the years, it never really recovered from the car wreck that brought Daughter Dearest into the world a month early, and a chicken house accident certainly doesn’t improve anything. It finally gave up about a month ago. The doc suggested trying this and that, which weren’t likely to be a permanent fix if they worked at all. The wife said, “Let’s cut to the chase, not mess with stuff that isn’t going to work, and just replace it. Because that’s what’s going to happen after these other things don’t work anyway.”

That hardware is going
to be around for a while
The “system,” usually glacial when it comes to elective surgery, got its act together more quickly than expected, and she went in for a new knee on Tuesday. Yup, that was how I spent my birthday: dragging myself out of bed at way-too-early-thirty, taking her to the hospital, playing solitaire on my phone in the waiting room, then joining her in her new room. The operation itself was a breeze, but the recovery will take a while.

Lots of people have said to tell her to make sure she does her therapy. No problem there—she’s been trying to get ahead of the curve, trying to flex her leg a little a few hours out of the operating room. Her actual first therapy session went well, with her gimping around the bed on a walker.

With Thanksgiving looming, Daughter Dearest and I wondered about the timing. Still, there was plenty of dinner on the table, including the rolls I made from Grandma’s secret recipe. We didn’t have any shortening, but I found online that coconut oil is an acceptable substitute and we do have some of that. They turned out just fine. She called me in the morning, and told me to pick her up after I ate.

So it was off to the hospital, wheelchair to walker to van, then down to the in-laws to join the rest of the crowd for the second round of face-stuffing. There were jokes about her and Big V having a walker race, but Big V has more experience. I thought that “Two Gimpy Sisters” would be a fine name for a punk rock band.

So there’s a few things to be thankful for this year: thousands of copies of Accidental Sorcerers sold, Mason started pre-K, wife is going to be able to walk well for the first time in years… and Daughter Dearest is more like her old self than she has been in a while.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 3 comments

The Drumbeat of Life

Sometimes, instead of writing wibbles, you just need to put on your ear protection, pick up the sticks, and have at it:

A lot of stuff has happened this month, and somehow I managed to not blog about it. Mason’s 4th birthday was earlier this month, a day that kicked off our vacation at the retreat near Helen. This time, The Boy came, new girlfriend in tow. She and Mason hit it off pretty well, and her family has a racing team. (Mason approves.) One of the highlights: The Boy wanted to go tubing, so we piled in the van. Well before we got to Helen, Mason was asleep. “You guys can go,” I said. “Just call me when you’re done.” Then the tubing places were closed. Oh well, it never really got hot this summer, so that water was pretty chilly. Mason ran his hand in it the next day, and was glad he didn’t try to go tubing.

The proper tool needs
to be the proper size.
Then there was the steps project. The manor came with this little brick-lined walkway going from the driveway into the back yard. It has eroded a little, and Mason has always had trouble taking that big step down. Wife has been poking me about building some steps there, and I tackled it. First, we dug out the step-down, which was easier than usual because it has been so rainy this summer (making the ground nice and soft). We have a shovel that’s a perfect size for Mason, so of course he got into the act. And he actually helped. He scooped up loose dirt and tossed it into the wheelbarrow.

I poured a concrete footing, which involved horking 80lb bags of concrete down to the worksite. My brilliant idea was to lay a board across where I wanted it to stop, dump the dry concrete in, and add water. It worked, but it took a lot more water than I’d expected. But after a lot of raking and stirring and hosing, I got all the stuff wet, then smoothed it out. Then, I stacked the concrete blocks I was using for steps in the wet concrete, using more to glue the layers together.

As I was working on the last of it, my left shoulder decided it had had far more than enough, and went on strike. I worked through it, carrying the last bag with one arm—I was like 90% done, and I couldn’t walk away being that close to finishing (defined as being able to walk up and down ugly steps, the esthetics can wait until I’m better). It slowly improved, but I went to the doctor just to make sure I didn’t have a torn rotator cuff or something equally bad. She opined that it’s a tendon, and gave me a round of steroids. In some ways, it’s worse now because it’s better—I can use it for light duty, and it wants to instinctively reach for things that I’d usually use my left hand for, so at bedtime it’s aching quite a bit. I might end up going in for physical therapy… depends on what the doc says when I go in for my usual 6-month checkup today [UPDATE: yes, physical therapy].

Oh, and Mason has started pre-school. He’s in the 4yo class, despite still being 3 when he actually started. The teacher listened to him talk and what he talked about, and said “he belongs with the 4 year olds.” So he’s going to have some regular interaction with a lot of other kids, for the first time in like ever. He should get to really like it in a few weeks. Right now, he’s in a contrary phase, which for the in-laws is constant. I hope it’s just a phase with him.

Saturday, January 05, 2013 7 comments

Sick for the Holidays

What I’ll look like, if this cough keeps up.
Source: openclipart.org
At least I have an excuse for not blogging much lately, even for #FridayFlash. The afternoon before Christmas Eve, I began to feel fatigued while running an errand. That’s often the first sign that I’m about to come down with what’s officially called an ILI (Influenza-Like Illness). But a cup of coffee erased the fatigue, so I figured it was just lack of sleep.

Unfortunately, I woke up shivering around 4am that morning. I thought to myself, “No, I can’t get sick now!” but viruses don’t give two tin toots about the in-laws coming in later that day. I dragged myself through the last-minute preparations in the morning, then went back to bed for the afternoon. So I missed out on a rather large feast, for which I’d made rolls, but I was too feverish to care much.

Then the wife got it, too. Christmas Day, we both sat in the lounge chairs, trying to be part of the thing. The Boy was here, fortunately—and even more fortunately, he limped in with a deteriorating CV joint, so he was more or less stuck at FAR Manor for the week. Between himself and Daughter Dearest, who got along pretty well this time, they kept Mason busy shredding wrapping paper and blasting through his presents. Snippet, whose boyfriend also has an iPhone, uses FaceTime to “see” Mason every couple of weeks, and they pinged in to watch Mason open the big box of stuff they sent him. That works out pretty well: during those calls, she mostly focuses on Mason, who usually grabs a handful of toys and plays while she talks to him. Being a thousand miles away, she can’t get on The Boy’s nerves or tempt Daughter Dearest to commit ditzicide.

The next day, I was feeling well enough to drive, and took the wife to the doctor’s. I figured she had what I had, and would be feeling better the next day, but I still wasn’t in any condition to argue. They took a throat swab, and she had strep. At that point, I should have asked for a swab as well, but here’s where I brain-farted. I figured since I had a routine appointment scheduled for the next day, I could get it all done then. The appointment was actually scheduled for a week after the next day. I continued to feel incrementally better with each new day, but figured it was better on the half-dozen co-workers who’d be at the office if I stayed home and used the VPN. Oh, and The Boy got his car fixed and departed on time.

So I finally got to my real appointment, which included an application of The Glove cue banjo music. I got the throat swab, and yup, I had strep too. The antibiotics are already doing their thing, but I have this almost-dry cough that won’t go the eff away (cough syrup is effective for maybe 20 minutes). I’m either going to hack up a lung or have washboard abs by the time it’s done.

Here’s hoping your holidays were pleasant and disease-free.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012 4 comments

Long November, Sick Grandkid

This “winter” has been one long November on Planet Georgia. The mini-winters that make up the season have been few and far between so far. I’ve actually had to stretch the definition to designate the last couple of days Winter #2 — it didn’t stay below freezing through the day, and the forecast sleet and “wintry mix” never materialized. I guess the Mountain West and Europe have been getting all their winter and ours to boot. It’ll be March in a couple weeks, so time is running out.

Meanwhile, the weather got to Mason: he’s had a cold for the last week and a half. He was pretty good about it at first, but in the last few days he’s run out of patience. He’s cranky, doesn’t want to eat much, and his sleep cycles are all out of whack. He really needs to eat; it would probably make him (and us) feel better. I really don’t know how he manages to get by on a handful of fruit and liquids (juice and a little milk), but he doesn’t look starved yet. And yet, he’s spreading the misery. Mrs. Fetched says she’s taking him to the doctor tomorrow, but she’s been saying that for a week now.

However, he has figured out how to use the iPad. He can wake it up and find a game (or Adobe Ideas, a nice finger-painting app), even if he doesn’t quite understand how to play just yet. His favorite game is Otto Matic, right now. Even “better,” he’s figured out that my iPhone has most of the same games — which means I can’t give Twitter a look without Mason crawling into my lap and trying to grab my phone. It did come in handy over the weekend though, when we were trying to keep him from nodding off in the car before lunch: I handed him the phone and he took it from there.

Tax time is here, but I’ve already done ¾ of the work: just waiting on Mrs. Fetched to get me the business expenses and car taxes.

I downloaded the Blogger app for my iPhone over the weekend, thinking maybe it would help me compose stuff at lunch. Kind of, yeah… if it bothers to save drafts. Google needs to do some serious work on that app, or make a mobile-friendly dashboard. It’s best feature is (again, when it saves) the ability to upload photos from the phone.

Oh, remember Prince Stinky? He disappeared for a couple weeks, but came back with a little matted fur but otherwise fine. I think he has a first home somewhere nearby, and comes here to visit when he needs a little weirdness in his life. Mrs. Fetched is making noises about getting him fixed, so he won’t spray everything (Daughter Dearest says he even scented my car last weekend).

Winter and headcolds both go away, so things will soon improve at FAR Manor. Just gotta wait it out.

Monday, October 10, 2011 6 comments

Let There Be Light

Tonya HardingYou know I wouldn’t pass up a chance to re-use this picture, right?

Tuesday evening, I was playing with Mason under his bed for a few minutes. When I went to get up, I put my left knee down on the register grate… then put my entire weight on that knee. HURT I limped around for a few minutes until the pain went away and didn’t think much of it.

Until that night, when it hurt enough to wake me up. Ibuprofen was my friend then and for the next two nights. It never got to the point where I couldn’t walk on it, or needed my friend Reality the crutch, but I didn’t like it much. From then until Friday afternoon, when the pain subsided, I didn’t do much tweeting, blogging, or writing. I’d planned to post yesterday’s October Horror Spotlight on Thursday, but it was one of the casualties of the week.

So when I got home from work on Friday, I got crackin’ on my #FridayFlash and got it posted.

But Saturday brought new issues to the fore. Ever since the fluorescent fixture in our bathroom crapped out again last winter, we’ve been getting by with a lamp on the vanity. It hasn’t been a wonderful workaround — it gave just enough light to be useful, but took up space and we kept trying to flip the switch. We finally decided to do something about it and picked up a new fixture at Home Despot.

As with any project, I realized I needed more parts once I actually got started, not to mention getting the wrong parts for the next thing, so back I went. With everything I needed, the actual job took less time than the round trips needed to get the stuff. (I took the picture with auto-exposure set to −2 so the light wouldn’t blow out the whole picture.)

A less annoying, but still necessary project, completed the electrical work at FAR Manor. One of the dimmers in the living room wasn’t working right, and I decided to get something that didn’t have a large protruding knob that Mason or Skylar could put a lot of sideways force on. What I really wanted were the new touch-plate dimmers, but they didn’t have any rated to work with dimmable CFL or LED bulbs. So I settled on sliders with rocker switches.

One of the things I got on my second trip was a wall plate and a 3-way switch. It turns out that they don’t have a wall plate with two big rectangular cutouts (slider size) and one small (regular switch size). So I replaced the working switch with a rocker so I could get a plate to fit them all.

Unlike the bathroom light, where I just had to turn off a switch to have safe working conditions, we had to find the breakers for the dimmers. Once that was accomplished, I got to work… OH $#¡+ the 3-way switch was on another circuit we hadn’t shut off! Mrs. Fetched fixed that by hitting the main breaker, and I got that job finished without any further tingly zappage.

So I have a good dimmer and a good 3-way switch in the parts drawer now. I think I know where I want to put the dimmer…


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