I made a mistake that I need to correct: I assumed the flowers we got after my mother-in-law's death (see my last post) were from both the Sheriff Department and the Fire Department, mostly because we have employees of one that are members of the other, and vice-versa. But the day after I posted about the flowers from the Noble County Sheriff Department, we got this beautiful plant from the Albion Fire Department:

 

 

My wife told me mum's the word, so we had an hour of silence before she explained that she thinks these flowers are mums. I know what you're thinking: How will I keep them alive? I dunno. Luck? Miracle?

 

I was going to go up to the fire meeting tonight but we're both still feeling crappy, so I want to extend my thanks to all the firefighters here. It's nice to be thought of by both these great groups of people.

Thanks to my coworkers at the Noble County Sheriff Department and my family at the Albion Fire Department, who had these flowers delivered after Emily and I finally stayed in one place long enough to receive them.

 

The color's a little off in the photo, due to the burgundy suitcase it's sitting on. Actually, our whole house is a cluttered mess right now; but Emily and I both had to go back to work immediately after returning from Missouri, so we're just too exhausted to care.

I don't remember if I mentioned it, but we'd already scheduled two weeks in September for a vacation before Emily's mom passed away. Turned out to be even worse than last September's vacation, with the totaled car and injuries and everything. Maybe we should try for a different month next year?

I normally try hard not to complain too much. Complaining is like trying to talk about politics: It's pointless and just annoys everyone else. Although I often fail, in recent years I've tried to be either positive, funny, or quiet. I used to have a reputation for turning the things that go wrong in my life into humor columns, but I can't anymore because ... well, I'd getting ahead of myself.

But please indulge me, just this once.

Because it's been a really, really bad month.

Actually, the really bad month started last month, as my fourteen regular readers already know. Just before we left for Missouri to see the total solar eclipse, my wife and I learned that her mother had been diagnosed with cancer. We did indeed get to see the eclipse, but that was, pardon me for saying, eclipsed by our worry over Jean Stroud's medical condition. We spent most of that week taking her to various medical places, and were there when she started chemo.

Then we came back to Indiana so that Emily and I could do our jobs, only to rush back over Labor Day weekend when things took a very rapid, very unexpected turn for the worse. It turns out her cancer had progressed much further than any of us realized, and she passed away while we were driving somewhere through west central Indiana.

Honestly, that's not something I'm ready to talk about yet.

Now, I could probably turn everything else that happened in September into a humor column, because it was all small stuff of the type we're not supposed to sweat. But when you're already in a state of shock, and the stuff just keeps on happening, one after another, it just can't be made funny.

I should consider us lucky we didn't get into an accident, like we did last September. That ended in splints, X-rays, and car shopping. I'd thought it as bad as a vacation could get, until this September. This one turned into the vacation they schedule in Hell, and what follows is just a sample.

But no accident, although we had a close encounter with a coyote. We drove some five thousand miles over the course of four weeks, most of it in the last couple of weeks. And we drove most of it while sick.

Emily got it first. Nothing accompanies settling your mother's affairs like a bad head cold. We made two trips to and from to arrange and hold a memorial, and to take care of a thousand details, most of which had to be done by Emily as the only child. Those trips were done with frequent Kleenex breaks. I did my best to be a supportive spouse, until I was also felled by little warrior germs that set up shop in my sinuses, then invaded my lungs.

All that driving. After it was over, the chiropractor could identify the model and make of our car by the bends in my spine. By the way, I've made that 500 mile trip for a decade, and have seriously never seen as much road construction along the route.

In the middle of it, we had to come back to Indiana because we'd previously signed up for an author appearance and didn't want to be no-shows. That was on a Friday, and Emily took advantage to work her saddle barn job on Saturday and Sunday before we headed back south. Believe me, she made more money there than we did as authors.

In fact, my author aspirations took quite a hit during September. We sold only a few books that Friday (although we handed out some business cards and bookmarks, which often lead to sales). A few days later I got my publisher's first sales report on my newest novel, Radio Red. Between its release in April and the end of June, the sales made me ... cry. It's the worse opening of my nine books.

Oh, and the newspaper that ran my column stopped publishing, so I no longer have a home for "Slightly Off the Mark".

At least that gave us a little time to watch TV. With a planned vacation, we'd set the DVR to record the shows starting up in September, and had hours of unwatched shows already recorded. Emily was at work when that last straw went dark and permanently dead, falling on my last nerve. She missed the horror-movie screaming noises that came from ... someone ... after the good people at Mediacom said they'd speed a technician our way in only a week or so.

All minor stuff, really. TV shows? You can catch up with them online. Poor book sales? My next novel is just around the corner. Illnesses pass, spines recover, and our car gets really good gas mileage. The dog slept for about twelve hours straight after we returned the last time, but now he's good as new.

It's just that stuff builds up, sometimes.

I don't know. Maybe the hardest thing after the memorial was cleaning out Jean's storage unit. Not because of the 90+ degree heat, dust, and spiders, but because you're suddenly going through memories at a time when it's most painful. We had to start three times, and in the end brought some boxes home into the air conditioning to be looked after later.

They say you have to go through bad times to appreciate the good times, and if that's so I'm feeling pretty darned appreciative. So, okay ... rough month. But if you've been watching the news at all, you know that everyone's been having a pretty rough month. Now and then we all need to vent a little.

Remember when your utilities were gas, electric, water, and maybe phone, and the idea of having the world at your fingertips and a screen in your hands was something for rich people or science fiction characters?

No, me neither. But I got a taste of first world stone age when our internet went out at the beginning of this month. How great is it that Mediacom convinced me to get my home phone service through them, then told me I'd be out for two weeks after both it and our internet went dark? It's so great, it makes me want to just injure my back and lay there, unable to use the internet or talk on the phone, or move. That's how great it was.

And that's the irony of it, that it failed at a time when I was flat on my back and could have used it most.

(Truth in advertising: It actually hurt to lay flat on my back. I was in more of a fetal position.) 

 But there's a bright side: By the time the pain eased enough for me to do anything at all, I worked on writing or--wait for it--reading. In the week and a half or so we've gone without, I wrote a submission outline for my newest novel, and got halfway through a final polish on the manuscript. I'm also halfway through the first novel I've read all summer.

That's the good news. The bad news is that when I do do internet stuff (and we all know there's a lot of online do-do), I often ended up using my phone. I didn't think twice about it until I got a notice that, 25% into the month, I'd used up 75% of my data. For you older people, that's like gossiping on a party line until the other users start yelling for you to get off the phone.

That's why I'm stealing the internet you're getting this from right now. *ahem* Borrowing. It's also why I'm not online as much as usual, even though I'm still limited in other things I can do. First world problems, yeah, but I'm paying for my first world stuff with money I earned by helping other people with their first world problems.

And when I called the people providing me with that first world service, who out of fairness I shouldn't name, they said a serviceman would be right there, in about two weeks.

Thank you, Mediacom. Thankyouverymuch.

Basically I'm telling you this because the service guy is supposed to be here today (they moved it up three days, so why am I complaining?) I don't want to vent on the repair guy, because it isn't his fault, so I'm venting on you. There. Vented.

How things go today will determine what kind of mood I'm in tomorrow ... but either way my smart phone won't be very smart for the rest of the month, and I suspect M******m isn't going to reimburse me for that.

"I feel like something's just crushing me." Kidding! This was taken after my sinus surgery.

 

So ... kind of a sucky week.

 

Actually, all of July kind of sucked, and the first few days of August just went along with it. Come to think of it, 2017 as a whole hasn't exactly been stellar.

 

But never mind that, let's go to the lawn mower. I never did get this out on all my social media, so you might not have seen it:

 

For the record, the tire is not supposed to go that direction.

 

This is the same mower my stepfather repaired for me after the carburetor crapped out. A carburetor is a ... thing ... that does ... something ... in an engine. According to my wife's research, the carburetors in this particular engine brand are now made out of plastic. Plastic in a piece of equipment that's designed to burn stuff under pressure. Yeah.

 

Now, this would be the same mower that gave me other problems, including a gas cap that wouldn't stay on and other small pieces that seemed to fall off at random. In addition, the little bar that stops the mower from running if you release the handle kept it from starting at all, until I bent the control wire in an un-designed direction. In retrospect, I should have known it was a lemon from the get-go, but it didn't become clear to me until after the warranty ran out.

 

And now there I was, pushing the mower across the yard, when suddenly the cut became uneven. It became uneven because one of the tires came off. And it wasn't just the tire: The whole assembly that held the tire to the mower deck just peeled away, like wet cardboard.

 

(I checked: It wasn't wet cardboard. It was metal that looked like web cardboard.)

 

So, for the second time, I didn't get to finish. I showed the above photo to my wife, and began my prepared speech, which was to be, "If you want to have someone fix it, that's fine, but you've got one week to get it done before I trash this piece of--"

 

I didn't get beyond "If you want" before she said, "Oh, we're getting rid of that thing."

 

My wife is a consummate researcher. It's because of her that I know about plastic carburetors, and what "consummate" means. It's in the dictionary. Who knew? Within days she narrowed down the new mowers, and then we went shopping.

 

For years I avoided mowers with grass catchers, because they fill up after about two passes. It took longer to mow a lawn than it does for me to assemble furniture, and I don't have that kind of time. But now we have a compost heap, which loves grass clippings, so Emily found a mower that could change between a rear bagger and a side discharge. Not only that, but it has four working wheels, and a three year warranty. Heaven in the grass.

 

It only took me a few hours to get it put together. And I needed to get on it, because the last two times I mowed, only about a third got done before disaster struck. It had been so long that the part already mowed needed it again, and that's where I started--a flat section, where I could get used to the new equipment.

 

I was being careful, you see.

 

But I didn't take something into consideration. I accounted for the new mower,  but not the extra weight of the bag filling up. So, when I went to turn a corner on a hill, the mower zigged and my spine zagged.

 

I'd mowed a third of the lawn--the same third I mowed last time--before my lower back went "twang!"

 

It didn't sound exactly like that, of course, but that's kind of how it felt. And that's why I didn't go online much for awhile: It hurt to type. It hurt to walk, sit, lay down, lift a finger, swallow, think ... well, it hurt to think about the pain, anyway. It hurt so much that I came to appreciate my  chronic back pain. Sure, that hurt all the time too, but it didn't feel like the red hot barbed tridents they use in Hell.

 

But my wife, through experience, has become a very good nurse. Three days later I was able to go back to work, and if you ask me I did a pretty good job of hiding the fact that my pain had only been reduced to agony status.

 

What have I learned from this, you ask? Well, first, always keep some of the good pain pills around the house. More important, either get a goat, or hire someone to mow your lawn. I'm leaning toward that last--I can only imagine how badly I'd get hurt dealing with a goat.

 

 

I've been feeling crappy the last several days: either an oncoming summer cold or a bad allergy attack (and/or lack of sleep). Considering all the dust and the white cottony stuff floating around outside, I'm thinking allergies, so I should stay inside rather than hiking around. But I had a bout of sleeplessness and hit the trails at Pokagon State Park; 3.6 miles later, I can say no one ever accused me of doing the smart thing.



What am I allergic to? According to the allergy doctor, everything that can be found in nature.


Except water. I'm not allergic to water ... or maybe they didn't test me for that?
 


  

And now, with apologize to Robert Frost:

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

And both smelled kind of musty

My nose asked me if I should

Go down something so dusty;

 

I shall be telling this with a sneeze

My nostrils full of mold

I took the road more allergen

It's worse than any cold.

  
  
  
  
  
   
  
  
  
  
  
 
  
  
  
  
  
 
  
  
  
  
 
Well done and lots of love to my older brother Jeff, who got through his first day of chemo for lung cancer today. Also to his wife Cathy, who's always there for him ... my prayers go to both of them as they start down a long, difficult road to wellness.
ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
( Apr. 2nd, 2017 01:34 pm)
My sister-in-law's words:
 
Jeff's tests came back that it is cancer. They are doing genetic testing on samples to see if there is weakness in  cancer. If they find one , they will do targeted chemo. Which doc said is better to fight it. If not  will do regular chemo. He is taking it all in stride. He says he gonna kick cancers butt!!! Prayers are still appreciated.
 
So, now the fight begins. 
ozma914: (ozma914)
( Mar. 27th, 2017 02:43 am)
So, kind of an up and down week last week, largely down. While I was getting interviewed Friday morning for the TV news, my brother Jeff was getting a lung biopsy. (Emily and I drove down just after the filming finished.) The results of the biopsy aren't in yet, and he's getting a brain scan Monday; but the doctors seem to think his cancer is back, and he's in stage four.

At least his lung didn't collapse, as it did with his previous biopsy about a year ago. But it sounds like he's in for a lot of chemo, which isn't a pleasant prospect under the best of circumstances. Jeff is in good spirits--much better than I am, truth be told--which is just the way he tends to tackle things.

If you're the praying type, this would be a really good time for the prayer warriors to go on the offense. And hey, if you're the good thoughts/vibes type, that would also be welcome. We'll keep everyone updated as we get news.
ozma914: (Dorothy and the Wizard)
( Feb. 13th, 2017 11:50 am)

My grandson Hunter got to visit the ER over the weekend, with a fine and extra-special case of gastroenteritis. Apparently he felt his tonsillectomy from a couple of weeks ago just wasn't enough contact with medical professionals.

If you're thinking, as I did, "aw, just a bad case of stomach flu", look it up and be scared. I know I am.

I dropped off a care package of Pedialite, Gatorade, and crackers, and discovered that I can hold my breath for exactly four minutes and fourteen seconds when properly motivated. That's how long it took to open the back door, throw the bags into my daughter's kitchen, and jump off the porch into the car. 

But in all seriousness, take the time to throw some good thoughts/prayers/vibes their way--the family's had a really rough winter, and it's not over yet.
Winter almost beat the Hunter family Christmas celebration. Almost. But in the end we celebrated, if only a month or so late.

First there was illness. Then work schedules. Then more illness. Then weather. Illness. A tonsillectomy. (I realize that fits under illness, but still.) Then work schedules again. Okay, a lot of illness: flu, bronchitis, tonsillitis, a stomach bug, friggin' scarlet fever. Seriously? I thought the last person who caught scarlet fever was Charles Darwin. Luckily he survived, what with him being the fittest and all.

Some of this was with my oldest daughter's family: Two eight-year-olds collect germs the way I collected publisher rejection slips. I think my youngest daughter only got sick once during that period; my wife and I collected five illnesses between the two of us, trading them back and forth like Pokemon cards.

But finally our schedule was cleared, our lungs cleared, and the roads cleared: We would meet at my oldest daughter's house to celebrate Christmas on Sunday, January 29th. Enough time had passed that one of my grandkids asked if we were celebrating last Christmas, or next Christmas. But at least the unusual warm weather made the trip seem like smooth sailing.

I walked out that day to load presents in the car, and discovered we'd been rewarded with a white Christmas.

Well, it didn't seem too bad, not really. I mean, not for northern Indiana in January. I even shot a fun video of it, then went inside to get another load. When I walked outside again, a blizzard had hit. I've taken to calling it the Blizzard of Ours, because it seemed to be times for right when we were about to drive twelve miles.

It was a snow squall, really--it didn't last long. After that it was just heavy snow, compared to zero visibility and seeing (or rather hearing) houses blow by. At least, I think it was a house. I haven't checked to see if the neighbor's garage is still there.

But you know what? We were having by-gosh Christmas, and no more delays! The happy ending is that we made the drive safely, successfully dodging the guy who did not successfully make his turn in front of us. We all emerged unscathed, and I got new fur-lined house slippers, which every successful and unsuccessful writer should own.

And the best part is, we also made it home safely, leaving my daughter and son-in-law to deal with the present we got the twins: a home kit to make your very own volcano.

Looks like they're in for rough weather.

Note to self: When taking an eight year old to the playground, please remember that you yourself are not eight years old, and neither is your spine.

On a related note, remember to stock up on ibuprofen and that stinging green slime stuff you get from the chiropractor.

On another related note to self: Steal a photo from Emily to illustrate this cause and effect, and how the dog was certain this activity was crazy human stuff:

Prayers and/or healing vibes requested for my Grandmother Nannie Bricker, who fell yesterday morning and has a compression fracture in her back. Painful, but not that serious--if you're not 94 years old. At the moment she's in room 213 at Parkview Noble Hospital, but I'm not sure how things will progress from here.

 

Rough day, yesterday, especially with half the family still sick. Basically the perfect ending to what was, with a few exceptions, a pretty sucky year.
ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Relay For Life)
( Nov. 27th, 2016 04:13 pm)
 

My Uncle Paul Hunter passed away yesterday; he had been under treatment for cancer in the hospital at the University of Kentucky, which coincidentally is where he attended college. Prayers would be appreciated for my Aunt Jewell, their kids, and all the family.

 

My dad beat cancer a few years ago, and my brother this year, and I had a scare myself awhile back; but this time it was the disease that ultimately won. We can only grieve, remember, and work toward a cure.

 

When I was a kid, Paul and Jewell’s house was next to Mama and Papa’s, so they got a lot of spillover guests during family get-togethers—and with nine brothers and sisters in the family, the get-togethers could get pretty big. It was in a hollow in the area of Mousie, Kentucky; I haven’t visited for some time because I’ve heard the area has changed a great deal, and I’d rather remember it as it was.

 

I don’t recall now the name of the hollow or what road it’s on, but I remember sitting on my grandparents’ big front porch, looking down toward Paul and Jewell’s house and past it to the big mountain that rose in the distance—well, big to me, an Indiana boy.  It was uphill on either side, too, and to visit relatives you’d walk up the narrow road, past houses built in single file. Just about everybody had a big porch, and the adults would sit there, sometimes snipping green beans, while they got caught up. The kids would play in the yards, climb the hills, and watch for ticks.

 

It’s funny what you remember from your kid-hood. Even back then, I thought Paul and Jewell had infinite patience, for putting up with all the kids running in and out with what was no doubt not their indoor voices. There were probably a lot of balls and Frisbees stranded on their roof.

 

We all seemed so very alive back then.

 

If I have this right--and it is 4:30 in the morning, after all--that's my Aunt Ruby, Aunt Dorothy, my father Delbert, and Uncle Paul.

 

 

 

I’m considering not taking vacations anymore. Too stressful.

 

I have to go back to work for at least a week before my stress levels fall enough for the stress of work to start getting to me again. Then I start needing a vacation, because the last vacation was too stressful. If Joseph Heller hadn’t already written it, I’d hit the best seller list with my own Catch-22.

 

Let’s start at the beginning, when we decided to vacation at a place called Turkey Run State Park. It was the vacation that ended up being a turkey.

 

A few days earlier, as I cleaned my glasses, a temple fell off. The temples are the parts that hang over your ears. Remove one, then try to wear your glasses. Yeah.

 

Whenever it’s time for new glasses I try to get the same frames, because the only thing worse than wearing glasses is wearing new glasses. And every time, that particular frame is no longer available. Every time. It’s like some kind of sick joke within the frame making business.

 

But this time, the optometrist office didn’t tell me the frames weren’t available. They told me the frame manufacturer wasn’t available. They’d been bought out. The optometrist was going to try and find some spare parts, which was fine except I was about to drive three and a half hours away.

 

Here comes the repeating theme of this story, which is that things kept working out even as my stress levels rose. During my last eye exam, my eyesight had hardly changed at all. I slipped the old glasses into the new case, and there they waited for a catastrophe just like this one.

 

It reminds me of the line from Apollo 13, which went something like, “I think we’ve had our glitch for the mission.” They didn’t stop to consider there might be more than one glitch.

 

We managed to fit all our camping gear, and the dog, into my beloved 2006 Ford Focus. I probably wouldn’t have used the term “beloved” before, but I really did love that car.

 

Guess I’m telegraphing the ending.

 

Wait--I have to sleep outside with you? What did I do?

 

 

Let’s go back to the dog, Bae (It’s short for Baewulf, and yes, I know it’s misspelled—don’t tell him). Bae had started his fall shed. He must have been exhausted, growing so much fur. We would open a window, and a tornado of hair would blast past us. It looked like a cloud of smoke, pouring from the car. No wonder he sleeps so much.

 

Meanwhile, Emily got a sore throat the same night we put a deposit down on a campsite. By the next morning she had a cold so bad I’m still not sure it wasn’t the flu. I bought a case of Kleenex and a barrel of Nyquil, and she laid on the couch and didn’t complain, because she’s not me. We were still going on vacation, she declared, because our deposit was non-refundable.

 

We’ll just eat the cost, I told her. Your health is more important.

 

She swept aside a two-foot drift of dog fur and gave me a glare that actually made me retreat into the next room. “I’ll pack the car,” I told her. She really hates wasting money.

 

The strange thing about this whole story is that we had a wonderful time, whenever we weren’t miserable. We’ve compromised on our camping style: She gave up the two-man pup tent and hard ground, and I gave up the giant camper with a generator and satellite TV. The important thing is the inflatable air mattress. We had a nice site, a roaring fire, and S’mores. We had some great hiking trails that traversed rivers, suspension bridges, and canyons. Yes, there are canyons in Indiana.

 

We had leash laws.

 

This was one of the less scenic areas!

 

 

See, in a state park there are rules, and one is that you keep your pets on a leash. The lady with the dog on the trail either wasn’t holding the leash tightly enough, or was letting her dog roam, and drag the leash behind it. It saw our dog, Bae. It wanted Bae.

 

It wanted Bae for dinner.

 

I found myself quite literally in the middle of a dogfight. To our dog’s credit, he went on the defensive. However, Emily was there. When there might be a danger to Emily, “defensive” becomes a snarling, clawing, biting, 90-pound whirlwind of kick-ass. There’s no reason I can think of why my attempts to drag him away didn’t result in major blood loss.

 

Which brings us back to our “all’s well that ends well” theme. No injuries. The lady dragged her dog away and apologized profusely, and once Emily knew Bae was unharmed she restrained herself from going after the lady.

 

There was also no injury half an hour later when a much friendlier dog came running after Bae, wanting only to make friends but not realizing our dog had just been traumatized.

 

Leashes, people. It’s a thing.

 

We lasted about a day and a half. Emily was still sick, the dog was stressed, and that was it. We decided we’d come back the next week and spend a few more days there, because Turkey Run State Park was really a wonderful place.

 

All we needed was transportation.

 

Next: The “Trip” Back

 

S'Mores, people.

 

 

ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
( Jun. 29th, 2016 05:52 am)

Jeff tells me he has all his chest tubes out, and so is tube free and is now running and jumping and dashing around … well, he’s tube free. And he sure is happy about it.

He does have some rest and recovery to work on though. If you know Jeff, you understand why that’s work—I expect Cathy’s biggest need the next couple of weeks is going to be a supply of duct tape to keep him secured to a chair.
ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Relay For Life)
( Jun. 16th, 2016 12:09 am)

People have been asking, and I'm overdue to give an update on my brother Jeff's status:

On Tuesday he had surgery to repair the leak that developed around his chest tube. The surgeon, Dr. Greenlee, says the surgery was a success, but he did find cancer and removed the upper lobe of Jeff's lung, along with some lymph nodes. More samples were taken, so we're awaiting tests to confirm the diagnosis ... but I assume Greenlee wouldn't have taken that step if he wasn't already darned certain of the diagnosis. I also assume Jeff''s going to have to have some chemotherapy later on, but the next course of action on that front remains to be seen.

So he's back on a chest tube, as the rest of his lung settles into the resulting space. However, he was looking really good on Wednesday and was already up and walking around, as well as sitting in a recliner instead of being stuck in bed. It was some major-league surgery. As of this writing he was in room 2205 (entrance 10 at Parkview Regional Medical Center), but I don't know if and when they might transfer him to another room. We expect he'll be in the hospital another 4-6 days.
It’s almost March (yay!), but the February 4County Mall can still be found for free in newspaper stands around the area, including outside Albion Village Foods. (Sadly, I got my copy at the entrance to Parkview Noble Hospital.) In addition to this column, the fun page, and all the deals and coupons, you can read a piece about Valentine’s Day by Lydia Waring and fiction by Rita Robbins and Nick Hayden. On the website is also a new piece by Rief Gillg, Assistant Principal at East Noble High School. 
 
 
SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
 
We like our traditions here in northern Indiana: For instance, it’s traditional for us to get sick every fall and winter. All of us.
I’m as traditional as the next guy, assuming the next guy is a Hoosier, so a few years ago I decided to take it up a notch. No annual cold or flu for me, no sir! I tried strep throat but didn’t like it very much, because without a voice I couldn’t whine. So, I went for the sinus infection. Sure enough, it became as traditional as that bowl of can-shaped cranberries nobody eats at Thanksgiving.
Then I started getting three or four of them every winter—sinus infections, not cranberries. Turns out not all traditions are so great.
Now, I’m not going to go into detail about my sinus surgery, because the details are all disgusting. I once wrote a column about my prostate biopsy, and that set a high bar, but a sinusotomy has it beat. The recovery period was nothing but two weeks of “ow” and “ick”.
Still, when it was over I basked in the knowledge that my chronic illnesses would soon be a thing of the past.
Then I caught a cold.
That cold immediately settled into a sinus infection.
See, here’s the thing: It takes from twelve weeks to a year for sinuses to settle down and actually improve after sinus surgery. Until then, you’re just as prone to problems as you were before. Although by the end of a few weeks my breathing seemed better, that just made it easier for viruses to work their way up and have a party. And it was a wild party.
My wife looks after my health, by which I mean she keeps me warm, feeds me good food, and lectures me. “Drink lots of fluids. Are you taking extra vitamin C? Don’t forget the fluids. Here’s some hot tea with honey, and Echinacea. Are you drinking fluids?”
“I think I hear the dog calling your name.”
The dog wasn’t. In fact, the dog was laying at my feet, because he tends to stay close whenever he thinks I’m dying.
My doctor had a more aggressive treatment in mind. When he learned I had still another sinus infection, he gave instructions for the nurse to bring a certain type of antibiotic. The nurse replied, “Let me remove the breakables from the treatment room first, and bring in some restraints.”
Possibly I should have seen that as a warning.
My doctor is an old military man, and he explained his reasoning. “We need to keep at this until all the dogs are dead.”
“Wait, what? But I like my dog.”
“I don’t mean literally. I used to say we needed to keep at it until all the cats are dead, but people complained.”
Apparently dog owners are more laid back than cat owners. That makes sense, as dogs are more laid back than cats.
The nurse brought in two needles. “This is going to hurt.”
“No problem.” I pulled up my shirtsleeve.
“That’s not where we give it.”
I had to lay down on the treatment table—on my belly, which tells you where the shot goes. I couldn’t just bend over, because apparently this shot sometimes makes you faint. She put the first one in.
“Hey, that’s not so—aaaaauuuuggghhhhHHHH!!!!!!”
“Okay, now let’s do the other one.”
It took a day and a half for the pain to ease. I couldn’t crouch down. I couldn’t climb stairs. I couldn’t sit back against anything. Two days later I went back to the doc, who gave me a careful examination.
“Well, we’d better keep at this.”
He meant two more shots. I knew this because of the way the nurse winced when he said it. I have to admit, though, she’s got a really strong grip for patients who try to run away.
Meanwhile I still got the antibiotics by pill, which have their own issues, but at least they don’t cause people to reminisce about when they got stabbed in college. Eventually my own stabbing, the stabbing pain in my forehead, began to ease, and as I write this it’s down to a four out of ten, with watching a presidential debate being ten. The treatment was working, and metaphorical dogs and cats were dropping like flies.
Then my wife caught my cold.
I sat her down on the recliner and brought her a cup of hot tea and a box of Kleenex, while the dog laid at her feet in what I can only call a faithful deathwatch. Then I said lovingly:
“Drink lots of fluids. Are you taking extra vitamin C? Don’t forget the fluids. Here’s some hot tea with honey, and Echinacea. Are you drinking fluids?”
And that’s when she threw the Kleenex box at me. She’s a pretty good shot, too—hit me right on my sore hip.
Good thing she didn’t reach for the tea cup.
 
ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
( Feb. 21st, 2016 06:08 pm)

In addition to a particularly rough case of pneumonia, the doctors are now saying Mom had a stroke at some point during this whole process. She’s now got a partial blockage of a carotid artery and is experiencing bad headaches and double vision—not to mention still having to recover from the knee replacement. She’s going to be seeing a neurologist at some point in the very near future, and otherwise it’s a waiting game for now … we’ll pass it on as soon as we know more.

ozma914: (ozma914)
( Feb. 20th, 2016 06:57 pm)

Often I compose my social media posts in the wee hours of the morning, then set them to post in the afternoon, when more people might be reading them. So it was early Friday, when I wrote about how my mom Linda Taylor had knee replacement surgery, and was recovering and undergoing rehab at North Ridge Village Nursing and Rehab in Albion.

 

By the time those posts actually came out, she was in the emergency room at Parkview Noble Hospital. I didn’t get a chance to cancel the posts because that’s where we headed, too. It’s been kind of a long week.

 

They thought she might have a pulmonary embolism. In short, that’s a Very Bad Thing. Her oxygen saturation was way too low, among other things, and to make matters worse they quickly determined she had an infection, and pumped about twenty different antibiotics into her at the same time. (I’m exaggerating, slightly.)

 

The next morning we had word that it’s a bad case of pneumonia. It might be, in fact, the first time in history that a pneumonia diagnosis was actually a relief. The sudden onset was certainly a shock. She’s getting better, but still having problems with double vision that they haven’t quite figured out.

 

So … that’s been our weekend. I don’t know how long she’ll be in the hospital, but she still needs some time back at North Ridge while her rehab is going on—either way, visits, cards, and letters would be much appreciated.
.

Profile

ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
ozma914

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags