Posts tagged: health

In Loving Memory of Our Precious Liz

By , November 2, 2018

 ♥ Liz ♥

July 18, 2000 – May 14, 2018

This is a hard post to write.

It is with such deep sadness that I tell you that we lost our precious little Liz to an aggressive oral squamous cell cancer (a mass under her tongue) on May 14th. She would have turned 18 on July 18th, 2018.

My precious girl, my precious Liz…my guardian angel physically watching over me for almost 18 years…she was that once-in-a-lifetime cat. Not just a cat, but her own person. A highly evolved heavenly being, she loved me with unflagging loyalty and dedication until literally the very last moment of her life. The amount of unconditional love this precious being could give was staggering. I will be forever indebted to her.

She was of pure intent, with none of the aloofness or air of ulterior motive that cats can have. She was absolutely nothing but sweetness. So, so dear and sweet.

♥♥♥

I hate that this cancer took her away. And the rest of her body was still in good shape… I feel that she still had good, solid years left in her.

The upside to this was that her body supported her right up to the end. She maintained her weight, she maintained her spunky spirit, and she was able to be herself and do the things she loved to do. She was a happy cat and she kept having great quality of life right up until the last week or two when things really got real.

In late February she lost the ability to eat by mouth due to the tumor. But she was still so robust and otherwise completely her normal everyday self that we elected to have the veterinary oncologist place a feeding tube — like a little port in her neck, protected by an adorable white padded collar — which was a great solution and Liz adapted to it, no problemo. I continued to bake chickens for her and cook 12-hour chicken bone broth, which I would puree for her in my Nutribullet blender along with her Balance-It vitamin supplement, various other supplements, Chinese medicine, homeopathic remedies, my own flower remedies, as well as some wet food (either Newman’s Own or the Science Diet a/d Urgent Care that the vet gave us.) I was so grateful for that feeding tube!! Being able to continue to nourish Liz gave us three more priceless months with her, and I hold the memory of that sweet time dearly to my heart. We got to simply be together for as long as we possibly could.

The chemotherapies we gave her (oral Palladia at first, then IV Carboplatin) both worked for a little while but then stopped working. Liz and I elected not to do palliative radiation sessions because of the low success rate combined with the fact that she’d need to be sedated each time.

Lizzie didn’t want to be euthanized, so we were together right till the very end, surrounded by all the comforting familiarity of our childhood home where we grew up together. She fought literally to her last breath, but the cancer finally just got her, and took her.

Even on her last day on Earth, we were outside together enjoying the fragrant spring air, sunshine, and lilac blossoms in the peaceful, familiar backyard. Her beloved yard! Her last few days were tough and rough, no doubt. What I found interesting was that even through this, and right up till the very end, her tail continued to do its usual light tapping “all is well” sign. She also tried to reassure me as best she could, with her special noises, purring, and nuzzling me. Her last day was really hard. It was a struggle, and she could no longer purr, but her tail continued to lightly tap, and she made deep eye contact with me for reassurance. That was a hard, scary day. My wish for her was that she could cross the rainbow bridge peacefully in her sleep, but alas it was not to be. I’m just glad we were together in familiar surroundings, not in the hospital, no strangers around… just us two together, staring death in the face, being brave for each other, and cherishing every last possible second together. ♥

Liz was an extraordinary cat; a very special being — she really was a guardian angel to me — and she brought me such joy and unwavering love and truly constant support over the almost 18 years she was with me. I am lost without her. I don’t know how to express how much I desperately miss her. We were so close that we were practically one in the same. And you can surely bet that I am grateful for each and every one of the probably thousands and thousands of photos I’ve taken of her over the years. And even more for the videos. I wish I had more videos.

Precious Lizzie we miss you.

♥♥♥

There are so many pictures of her that I love. But here are just a few.

Baby Liz. She showed up one Friday morning at our back doorstep, and we took her on our camping trip to the mountains the next day!:

♥♥♥

The rest are from just this year — in her last 4 months on the Earth:

For some reason she loved celery and celery seeds almost as much as she loved catnip. One morning I found my bucket of homegrown celery seeds like this! I wonder who did it!?!

Making chicken for her!:

Taken the afternoon of May 14th… I was so worried about her, and at the same time cherishing every second with her. This was one of her favorite mouse-watching spots:

♥♥♥

Good Days and… Crash Days

By , January 18, 2018

Hi again!

I was so excited that my blog post worked that I wanted to start updating you on stuff. Unsure where to begin with that, I decided to “start where I am,” so took my camera around and took pictures of various things on what had been a good day recently. I was going to post the pictures that night, but was feeling kind of off color, so didn’t. The next day was a big crash day, so here over a week later I am bubbling up to the surface, thinking about that post again! I’ll put the original pictures up, plus those from the next day too. What better way to update you than to show you the Reality.

These green shakes I’ve been making are delicious and nutritious: pineapple, green apple, fresh ginger piece, spinach, parsley, rice milk, milk thistle seed, pumpkin/sesame/sunflower seeds, turmeric powder, protein powder, brewer’s yeast, spirulina, kelp powder.

Unloading coffee grounds, to be spread in the gardens.

I love flower gardens even in Winter — the browns and the branches.

This soup was so good. Black eyed peas for New Years — soaked near the woodstove as pork neck bone broth simmered on top of the woodstove. Then the black eyed peas cooked on top of the woodstove in the broth, as I thawed some frozen cooked-together zucchini and onions from this year’s garden, and opened a home-canned jar of homegrown organic heirloom tomatoes! Mixed all of this together, ate with chunks of avocado, and oh my gosh!!!

 

That kombucha did eventually get bottled much later in the week…

…but there were more important things to do.

Next day.

Maximizing that sun patch, with freezing chills.

Fever of 103.5°

Anymore, I let fevers burn. After a bad experience several years ago while bringing down a 104° fever with tylenol (like that weird movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas), I thought Never Again. “Why do we do this?” I started to wonder, why disable this potentially helpful immune response? Later on, I came across Anthroposophical medical literature (Steiner-based — like Waldorf schools and biodynamic agriculture) where their view is that fevers are healers not to be tampered with. Burn off the dross! Top, top priority is keeping up with oral hydration though, that is for sure!

My standard hydration thing for when I’m sick is diluted juice. About 1/3 juice, 2/3 water. I always have several jugs of apple juice on the back shelf for times like this, just in case.

If you’re guzzling diluted juice, don’t forget your other electrolytes. Potassium and sodium are easily washed out with lots of liquid consumption. If you have a huge nonstop headache unrelieved by hydration, try getting more salt in. I like Ume Plum Vinegar in some warm water, like a salty broth drink. It’s your one-stop salt shop, with an astounding 1050mg (44% daily value) sodium in 1 tsp (5mL). It’s also really good mixed into plain yogurt as a salad dressing, for when you’re not sick. 😉

Potassium powder is cheap at the health food store (or buy it at grocery stores in the salt section as the “NoSalt” brand potassium chloride salt substitute). The NOW brand in the picture has 365mg (10% daily value) in 1/8 tsp (0.7 g). By comparison, a medium banana has ~420mg of potassium. The way I take the potassium is put some water into my mouth, measure the powder and dump it into my mouth, swish to dissolve, and swallow. Down the hatch.

And if you’re blowing your nose a lot like I am this time, these two are my favorite things to rub on, in, and around my chafed nose and upper lip: Weleda Calendula Diaper Rash Cream (goes on white but rubs in) and Alaffia brand Africa’s Secret.

***

I’m doing better. I’d been noticing something simmering since Christmas, a lung exacerbation (a flaring-up of the ever-present infection where there is lung scarring), and then I think this was just some wandering virus on top of that which really came on like a Mac truck. Not the flu, but some other thing. F came down with it too, several days later. We’re both better but not best. I’m still “running warm” with some lung unhappiness. Hanging really low, taking it slow.

***

May you be keeping healthy and warm!

*****

 

 

Need a Christmas gift? My Mandala Coloring Book is out!

By , December 10, 2014

I just released my new hand-illustrated coloring book, Mandala Dreaming.

Take a look; the mandalas are so much fun to color!

And, it makes a great Christmas gift!

(Order by 10:30am MST, on Saturday Dec 20th to receive by the 24th with standard shipping. But they’ll remain for sale beyond that, of course, if you don’t happen to need one for Christmas…)

IMG_0888 - Book Cover

Coloring is a low-tech, creative activity that has been enjoyed for generations. It’s not just for children, although of course it is wonderful for them too!

Coloring has grown up, as you’ll discover in this beautifully hand-illustrated coloring book.

The 20 intricate mandalas contained within are just waiting for you to allow yourself the luxury — nay, the necessity — of a bit of quiet time for yourself… to play creatively with color… to allow your deep-down spirit to come alive.

These high-quality coloring books are handmade, one by one, in my Colorado studio. The pages are thick 110-lb (199 g/m²), acid-free, 8.5″ x 11″ cardstock, perforated for easy removal, and the mandalas are printed on the front side only of each page. The book is spiral-bound so you can fold it back completely for ease of coloring.

Enjoyed most by Adults, Teens, or Older kids because the designs are a little more complex.

Use markers, crayons, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, and even actual watercolors! (For watercolors, tear out page and tape corners to a board.)

One of my favorite ways is to color with art markers first (Prismacolor brand is very nice, but there are others), and then add highlights and depth with colored pencils on top of the marker.

These really are fun to color!

***

$14.95

BUY NOW

***

Color and display!

Color and display!

MandalaBackCover

The back cover

Mandala (c) The Herbangardener

IMG_0890

IMG_0852

IMG_0921

IMG_0925

IMG_0917

IMG_0918

Mandala (c) The Herbangardener

IMG_0923

MandalaDreamingCover

*****

Catching up with photos!

By , November 28, 2014

IMG_0545

Happy late-Autumn to you all! We only recently stepped into real Autumn actually, after the longest and most luxurious Indian Summer here, which topped off a perfect Summer season and glorious Springtime. The garden looked beautiful this year, it was a satisfying harvest for most items, everything was lush, we received rain at regularly spaced intervals, and it never got uncomfortably hot. On the health front, I’ve certainly made progress after referral to a more responsive, take-the-reins style doctor and some quality time on a couple of antibiotics. Another pneumonia came on in the Spring, as well as various other ups and downs, several viruses, and the identification of an immune deficiency. That pretty well glazes over it. It’s been a hard, embittering year. I’ve fought tooth and nail to even be this far. Obamacare itself has been my saving grace, and yet our alleged “world-class” healthcare system is a giant obstacle course, broken in many places. When you’re feeling awful, you don’t have the strength or stamina to run through a marathon obstacle course, yet that’s what a patient often must do if they’re unfortunate enough to be a patient. As I said though, I’ve been feeling far better overall than I have in quite a while, and by hook or by crook, that trend must continue.

Let’s move on though; there’s a lot of good stuff that balances out the infuriating crud, so let’s go on and have a tour through that, okay?

Oh right — and the downtime and move to a new web hosting provider did happen a couple months ago. I was shamelessly puffed-up for weeks afterward, because I blindly googled my way through the manual migration of this wordpress blog and database, augmented by my minimal technical “expertise,” and without benefit of handy-dandy migration plugins or other sanity-saving tools (learned about those too late, after the old hosting was already turned off). I certainly “learned a lot” — which is the euphemism that you use, instead of telling people that you nearly murdered your laptop trying to rebuild your wordpress file structure.

Anyway, get ready — we’ve got a lot of catching up to do with the photos! Starting with the succulent, late Spring garden bounty, through Summertime, and into the late Autumn now…

(c) The Herbangardener

IMG_4783

IMG_4836

IMG_4860

IMG_4863

IMG_4870

IMG_4876

IMG_4962

IMG_5003

IMG_5063

IMG_5067

IMG_5109

IMG_5192

IMG_5195

IMG_5207

IMG_5292

IMG_5294

IMG_5303

IMG_5368

IMG_5427

IMG_5472

IMG_5561

IMG_5589

IMG_5594

IMG_5610

IMG_5637

IMG_5686

IMG_5692

IMG_5733

IMG_5828

IMG_5912

IMG_5924

IMG_0022

IMG_0023

IMG_0025

IMG_0027

IMG_0105

IMG_0162

IMG_0177

IMG_0228

IMG_0249

IMG_0345

IMG_0360

IMG_0391

IMG_0400

IMG_0432

IMG_0532

IMG_0556

IMG_0608

IMG_0615

IMG_0620

IMG_0623

IMG_0625

IMG_0661

(c) The Herbangardener

IMG_0663

IMG_0669

IMG_0672

IMG_0679

IMG_0680

IMG_0685

IMG_0689

IMG_0692

IMG_0696

IMG_0713

IMG_0719

IMG_0722

IMG_0747

IMG_0757

(c) The Herbangardener

IMG_0783

IMG_0785

IMG_0789

IMG_0794

IMG_0801

IMG_0804

IMG_0807

IMG_0808

IMG_0810

IMG_0812

IMG_0814

IMG_0825

IMG_0829

 *****

Images of Springtime!

By , April 22, 2014

***

Happy Spring to you!

Ohh this time of the year is glorious, with apple blossoms and tulips and the grass greening up by the hour. Lilacs coming soon, and some peach blossoms on the homegrown peach tree (above)!

It’s been a while since I posted, with the usual ups and downs of life intervening… a terrible cold germ that gripped our household and overstayed its welcome by weeks, more medical testing and appointments which drain my energy but are part of the deal right now, a long overdue visit to the dentist with shocking news of 7 cavities — then a couple appointments to get them filled, along with a definite improvement in my condition thanks to the fabulous antibiotic, and then a bit of a relapse with my lungs certainly improved (ohhhh what sweet relief!!!), but still with a ways to go, with the underlying issue persisting. A recent sinus CT scan showed sinusitis in several areas which has likely been there for the past 3 years, improved by — but persisting through — multiple rounds of antibiotics, and largely ignored by me (as were the cavities) because of so much other crap going on in my body. It’s possible that my sinuses have been seeding my lungs continuously with infection, but it’s not clear yet.

And so it goes. But of course amidst the churning and distress and medical decision making that goes with being sick, there is beauty and sweetness all around, and having My People around me (or thru phone/email/video skype) is highly sustaining. Good things have happened too — I won tickets to the theater to see our children’s chorale sing, which turned into the most wonderful, stress-free afternoon out with F., where we could each forget our respective life-stressors, be lifted out of Survival Mode for a few hours, and be doing something fun and not too energy intensive, simply for the Joy of it! What a concept!!!!!! It was something that we both sorely needed as life has been awfully Real lately for both of us. We got sushi after the show and came home and had a picnic outside in the pretty evening.

And this year our bird baths are overflowing with the comings and goings of robins, finches, chickadees, nuthatch type things, grackles, a mystery bird, and even a couple of blue jays one special afternoon. Birds and birdsong add such a wonderful element to life, and I’m very thankful for them personally. And I love that when I’m resting out on the grass, they feel safe enough now to come within a few feet to bathe and drink.

***

So here are a number of pictures from the past couple months, as winter has wound down and spring has begun in earnest. And now, with spring is in its peak week, I am loving every second of it!

I hope this post finds you all well and enjoying your springtime (or hopefully that you will be soon, if winter is still hanging on in your neck of the woods)!

*****

Health Update: Brucellosis, Pneumonia, and More

By , March 2, 2014

Hello to all of you, and happy 2014! March already! And definitely time to get back to blogging — I’ve missed it — but first a health update, which is the main reason I’ve been away from my little blog for so long.

It’s been a bad phase these past several months. I’ll go into some detail because in the past I’ve appreciated reading about other peoples’ health experiences, so who knows — maybe this’ll be useful to someone out there.

***

Over the summer I worked very hard on my health, putting much belief and many, many hours into a radionics machine developed in Germany that’s supposed to heal the body by transmitting specific wavelengths into it through a brass handplate and a mat that you sit against, thereby eliminating bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc. The health claims out there about bioresonance and radionics machines can be pretty fantastic, while the criticism is equally harsh. The person I was working with uses the machine differently than the way it was developed to be used, but the implication was that “this’ll cure what ails ya.”

Unfortunately it didn’t. And neither did the chiropractic care (better alignment really felt good though!) or months of acupuncture (though I really liked acupuncture and definitely felt its effects) or Xiao Chai Hu Tang Chinese herbal pills.

This past September, I was feeling like I truly needed to go back to a conventional Western doctor, distasteful as that thought was. In fact I’d rather clean toilets all day. And the idea of embarking on another diagnostic odyssey to find out What Else is wrong was overwhelming. Just figuring out the Brucellosis piece involved so many months of torturous doctor visits, tests, and bloodshed (144 vials of blood, and counting, drawn over the past 3 years that I’ve felt like crap) that I just wanted to turn away from it all…shut the door…and never have to face any of it ever, EVER again.

But what I hate even more than going to the doctor, is being sick.

So.

***

After finishing 10 months of antibiotics in Sept. 2012 for the Brucellosis, I was 80-90% better — SO much better than I had been — but not 100%. The Colorado health department nurse had told me that even after finishing the treatment, I may still get some fevers, joint pain, fatigue, etc. for a while. And so I kept waiting for my body to come back up fully, but it never quite did.

The fatigue was still there and getting worse, and then the cough and chest heaviness and fevers returned, though not some of the other familiar brucellosis symptoms. So this September (2013) when I went back to the doctor, I said it felt like the chest infection that I got 3 years ago in Argentina in 2010 was still there, but that we should also do a repeat Brucella antibody test to see where we’re at with that, since I had the chest symptoms during the Brucellosis (and thought they might have been one in the same).

So we did a chest x-ray (read as normal), bloodwork (high neutrophils, a type of white blood cell), and repeat Brucella antibody test — which was finally negative!! After 4 positives over the past 2 years, seeing that negative result was an incredible relief because Brucellosis is a difficult bacteria to get rid of. It meant that the doxycycline and rifampin had done their job, but it also meant that I had another infection going on, which wasn’t gone yet.

A few days after the first visit back to the doctor, my lungs were having so much trouble that I called the clinic and they had me come in. But driving there, I started feeling very awful, like I was going to pass out behind the wheel and needed to either get there fast, or get out of traffic and pull over. I nearly rear-ended someone trying to get out of traffic, and by the time I pulled into the clinic parking lot, I was having a lot of trouble breathing, my hands were paralyzed and I couldn’t move my fingers, and my abdominal muscles and diaphragm were clenching up like a tight fist. It was the scariest thing I hope I ever have to experience. I flew through the front doors, cut everyone in line, and flopped onto the front desk and said “I NEED HELP.” Nurse STAT to the front desk was called over the intercom, and I was wheeled back to the urgent care area. It was dramatic and embarrassing.

They started an IV and did some quick bloodwork which showed that my potassium was critically low, which explained the muscle paralysis. Potassium is an extremely important electrolyte, because our vital functions (breathing and pumping blood) depend on muscle, and muscles must have adequate potassium. They gave me a double potassium cocktail to drink. My heart rate was very fast and the EKG showed some ‘ischemia’ (insufficient bloodflow) and I was still feeling really weird and my breathing wasn’t right, so the doctor decided to transfer me to the emergency room by ambulance. After 6 hours of monitoring there, and an IV of magnesium (helps with potassium absorption), I was stable enough and feeling strong enough to walk around and go home.

In the ER

They put me on supplemental potassium which has helped my body feel much more stable, but over the next weeks I was still having the difficult breathing and chest heaviness and the sense of a smoldering lung infection — the same as what I’d been experiencing for most of 2013 (and also much of 2011 before the anti-brucella antibiotics took care of the issue almost completely). And then one night in mid-October, after a big day of yard work, my usual low-grade fever went up to 102.5 and my body and joints and lymph nodes began to hurt at a level of intensity I’ve never felt before — far worse than with any flu I’ve ever had. The next night I passed out when I got up to go to the bathroom, and my lungs hurt too. Two days later I went back to the doctor. She ordered another chest x-ray and bloodwork; my white count was still high, this time with high band-neutrophils too, and the x-ray showed pneumonia. It was in a tricky part of my left lung (the lingula) which is harder to see on x-ray because our heart is in the way. The doctor said the pneumonia had probably been cooking for a while but was not pronounced enough to be seen on the x-ray taken 3 weeks prior — especially since my bloodwork from 3 weeks prior was showing a high white count.

She said “I’m pullin’ out the big gun” and gave me Levaquin and said my fever should be going down within 24 hours. 24 hours later, my fever had gone up over 103, but by day 3 or 4 it was finally down. Those were miserable days.

I’ve had six of these in the past five months…

…not counting the multiple failed IV attempts, leaving me looking rather battered with ouchy bruises that last for weeks!

And the maddening, exhausting journey continues. More doctor visits regarding both wacky lungs and wacky electrolytes, trying to figure out if they’re related and how. Another chest x-ray a month later showed that the pneumonia infiltrate was still there, so I had another round of a combination of antibiotics. My long-awaited referral to see a pulmonologist turned out to be a complete waste of money, and I was hitting dead ends left and right. Doctors often hold the keys to finding out what’s wrong with you because of the world of tests and procedures they have access to. But when they won’t listen and don’t feel like digging in to help figure out what’s wrong, and they only have 15 minutes before they have to move onto the next patient, then they become the obstacle. Your health suffers because of the doctor. This became the situation.

One thing that went very right during all of this was our new Obamacare took effect. All I can say is, THANK YOU OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

Because of Obamacare, I was able to take the opportunity to say good bye (and very good riddance) to Kaiser. When I began Kaiser 7 years ago, I was determined to make up my own mind about them and not be swayed by others’ opinions. Well, 7 years later, I can say that I’ve gotten some good care from them, and also some very negligent care. Looking back, I am angry at what I see. Very angry, actually. You couldn’t pay me to go back to Kaiser. Thank goodness F. encouraged me to explore other options and look elsewhere for insurance, and thanks to him, I got myself into a much better insurance situation at a much better hospital and I’m getting far better care at a much faster pace. At this new hospital, I’ve had more testing and procedures and specialist visits in the past 6 weeks than Kaiser ever would have coughed up. I’m sure Kaiser is good for the simpler things that can go wrong, but if you have something complex and unusual going on, get thee the heck out of the ‘local Kaiser family medicine’ sphere, and up to the regionally or nationally recognized, University-type or similar, health care level. Somewhere that actually has a reputation, where they have smart doctors who will spend an hour or two with you on multiple occasions to really dig in and do some testing and partner with you to figure out what’s wrong.

I am blessed and feeling infinitely grateful to be receiving care at this level. There is a huge difference. I’m seeing that now.

Anyway, as part of the wacky-electrolyte investigations, an incredibly painful blood test called Arterial Blood Gases was done, where they dig around with a needle deep inside your wrist to find the artery, and then draw blood from it. Jeezus it was painful. From this test they could tell that my blood pH was too high — a respiratory alkalosis. Our blood pH is very tightly regulated to stay right around 7.40, and when it sways too far toward either acid or base, major things can go wrong with body chemistry, with major implications. One theory is that my lung issue and chest heaviness and difficult breathing causes me to breathe differently which causes my CO2 to fall too low, thereby raising my blood pH and throwing off other elements of my body chemistry like potassium and some other stuff. The results of a couple other tests indicate that there may be another electrolyte issue going on that adds to the effect of this, and that’s something we’re still investigating.

After getting arterial blood gases drawn. A nerve got nicked in the process, causing excruciating pain for a while. It’s all better now though. I also had a Home CAT Scan done, which you can see in the background. That scan determined that everything would be A-OK, giving me great peace of mind.

And so where does it all stand now?

This new hospital is doing some very good, thorough investigating which has enabled us to begin ruling stuff out, and also to pick up important clues.

A repeat chest x-ray showed thickened airways, but that the pneumonia infiltrate is gone. However I’m still feeling symptoms of an ongoing smoldering lung infection, and my neutrophils and bands are still high, with lymphocytes low. A chest CT scan showed bronchiectasis (permanent lung damage), a few nodules, and a calcified granuloma (from brucellosis maybe? Or from what’s going on now, maybe?). Other tests are pending, and I have been submitting some sputum samples for culture. My ANA has come back twice as being mildly positive at 1:160, which is new since it’s always been negative in the past. But since all other autoimmune tests have come back negative, it could be from infection, or nothing at all.

Because of the bronchiectasis, they gave me an ingenious little device called an Aerobika. It’s a simple mechanical thing, no medication involved, which you exhale into repeatedly for about an hour a day total. It has really helped to loosen some of the gunk in my lungs, making it easier to breathe and relieving some of the chest heaviness. And when I’m breathing better, I’m sleeping better. And that is a HUGE thing.

It’s my Respiratory Toy!

Last week I called the doctor though, because the tricks I’ve discovered to keep my lungs light enough to get some sleep (the Aerobika partnered with coughing as hard as I can, as often as I can throughout the day) weren’t cutting it and I was wondering about a saline nebulizer attachment for the Aerobika that the respiratory therapist had told me about. But the doctor said before we do that, I should drop off another sputum sample and come in for an appointment. And although none of the sputum cultures are finalized yet (that takes 6 weeks), it turns out that so far they’re growing E. coli, which is not a bacteria that belongs in your lungs.

So we’re going to do a sorta-urgent bronchoscopy, scheduled for the day after tomorrow, to go into my lungs with a fiberoptic scope and get more of an idea of what’s cooking in there. They’ll go into the damaged area and do a lavage (a “wash” — meaning they inject saline and suck it back out, and send it to the lab for culture and analysis), as well as snip out some biopsy samples for the lab to look at, and if they see mucus they’ll suck some of that out and culture it.

And right after the bronchoscopy is done, I can begin antibiotics. Sensitivity testing showed that luckily this particular E. coli bugger is susceptible to the antibiotic TMP-SMZ. At this point it’s unclear whether E. coli is the main culprit for the lung damage that’s been done, or if it’s only part of the problem. The bronchoscopy may shed more light.

They’re huge!

***

My body doesn’t give up its secrets easily. I am otherwise very healthy… I always have been and there was never any major health drama growing up. I eat very nutritiously and do so many of the right things for my body. And so my body is strong and resilient. I have youth on my side too, but my body amazes me with its strength. But one downside to that, I believe, is that it’s able to keep things like infections tamped down lower than maybe someone with poorer health (yes that can be a downside!). Something’s wrong and the clues are there, but they’re just more subtle, and looking at me you would never guess my body has felt like it’s been sick with a never-ending flu for the past 1,500 days. When you’re trying to get the medical care you need, looking the picture of health isn’t necessarily helpful! What I hope is that we will be able to identify and get rid of all the bacterial crud that’s dragging my body down and preventing it from regaining its full, radiant health that I know it’s capable of.

And what an eye-opening education this all has been these past several years. As a by-product, I’m getting a full tour of the best and worst of both Western and Alternative medicine. And I have changed my opinions about them both. I used to think I didn’t believe in Western medicine. It certainly has its problems, but before I got sick, it was easy to sit perched in my healthy body and declare that Alternative Medicine was the only way to go. Well. That has changed. The two systems can, and probably should, coexist. But I have a very different, humbler, and wiser, view of it now.

***

Living day-to-day life with this multi-layered illness — whose duration has now reached Biblical proportions — can be incredibly dispiriting. But it’s okay because it has to be okay or else I will suffer immeasurably and my life would be a living hell. Humans are incredibly adaptable. And even while you endure the un-endurable, you can still feel like Life Is Good. I sure do have my moments, hoooooo boy, but there’s a lot of beauty to appreciate, things to laugh at, people who love me dearly, and good stuff to enjoy out there beyond the boundaries of Sick. One could slither along endlessly through the depressions, sorrows, and injustices of life, feeding on joyless fodder forevermore. But to choose to let go of all that… at least most of the time… and rise up above it all, is the challenge — and also the only way to survive.

***

(Minor health updates in these posts: April 2014 and November 2014)

*****

Visualization, by Lindsey

By , February 20, 2013

***

Think of a time when you felt so free, so strong within yourself, where you were having the time of your life, completely in your element.

*

Close your eyes. Go there to that exact moment. Breathe it in and re-incorporate it into your being.

Breathe the YOU in that moment…into yourself here in this moment.

*

Let that effervescent experience be your medicine in this moment.

***

*****

Nope, slower than that~

By , January 24, 2013

In figuring out what works the best for each of us in our own lives, I think it’s helpful to sample the extremes through personal experience; we figure out what we do want, and what we don’t want.

I fractured a bone in my hand (my dominant hand, naturally), so I’m sampling the extreme of being-rather-than-doing. No art. No sewing. No major projects. Very minimal writing (I miss that especially). Minimal typing.

More reading…more sitting…more thinking and pondering. More time spent working around my hand to do things I want to, and have to, do — like preparing food. While it is an extreme — and I very much look forward to having my hand back — being forcibly disallowed to do much of what I’d normally be doing allows me to see, more and more, that I’m happiest when living a very simple life, conducted at a pleasant pace. I feel like I’ve said a variation of this so many times here before, I think I’m starting to sound like a broken record.

I’ve certainly sampled the other extreme — of living frenzied and stressed, always with one eye on the clock. And I sure didn’t like that. I’m learning, now, how to live a new pace of life that’s much more viable for me, and far less likely to result in general life burnout. My inclination has always been busyness and activity, with minimal lounge-around time, so pacing myself feels very strange sometimes. But when I downshift my whole pace, I arrive at the end of each day feeling more balanced and not so drained.

As I lay on the acupuncture table yesterday, words drifted into my head… I wish I could remember exactly what they were… something about “Learn to live comfortably in the slow, quiet moments. That’s when life’s the most enjoyable.”

And later as I mentioned to my acupuncturist that I often feel ill-at-ease during days of lower energy and minimal activity or accomplishment, worried that I’m not doing something concrete toward my future… she replied “There’ll be plenty of time for all that. And really, all we have is time.” All we have is time! I’d never had that thought before. It’s true. A long time, a short time, that’s not for us to know… But all we do have is time.

Let us make sure we are enjoying the time we have. Because otherwise, what’s the point!

(And let us try not to be worrying why this is the second bone that has broken, under only moderate impact, in under a year’s time…)

*****

Philosophy Friday: Bare feet on the earth

By , January 18, 2013

For many thousands and thousands of years, human beings had contact with the earth for the better part of each day. Walking barefoot or with shoes made from natural plant or animal materials; sleeping on the earth; touching plants, animals, trees, lakes, soil, oceans.

Wild animals have this connection, still.

I’ve noticed that children try to hang on to this connection as long as possible — preferring bare feet above shoes, and a trickling stream to splash in above even the most enticing indoor activity.

It tickled me to see children in New Zealand walking to school barefooted.

I’ve watched children throwing tantrums and have noticed that they will often throw themselves onto the ground during the tantrum. It does feel better to lie on the earth when you are hurting. I remember times of deep grief soon after losing my soul sister Sonja, where the only place I wanted to be was flat on my stomach on the grass in the back yard — and so there I stayed until the earth had absorbed all my tears.

Once, I was nearly hit by a car while crossing a busy intersection on foot; it was as if I had been invisible and the car simply didn’t even see me.  The close call really spooked me. Once I was safely across the street I was so shaken that the only thing I could do was make a primal beeline for the nearest tree and lean my whole body against its trunk. It wasn’t something my conscious mind even thought about — I had never actually hugged a tree before. I couldn’t believe how good it felt.

***

If your winter weather allows you to be outside barefooted on the grass or the dirt or the beach (or barefoot in the snow as I remember doing as a kid!), then take advantage.

Put yourself directly onto the earth.

If it’s too cold for bare feet, or too snowy to sit on the grass…have you tried hugging a tree? Wrapping your arms around it and pressing your cheek against its bark? Mmmmmm.

***

After some serious single-digit cold weather, we’re having a string of 50°+ days. So my cat and I go outside, each of us barefooted, to connect ourselves to the earth. And one of us particularly enjoys rolling in dirt.

Collecting celery seed yesterday afternoon

*****

The Herbangardener is powered by WordPress