I’m tired from the weekend

IMG_0109It’s been an interesting weekend as in the curse “may you have interesting times” interesting.

Foxy, my little dog, started coughing on Thursday afternoon. It sounded like croup– or as one of my friends pointed out like kennel cough. I took her to the Vet the next morning and she sounded okay to the vet. Still he gave me an antibiotic and a cough suppressant.

By Saturday and Sunday, she was coughing even more with the meds and she had a stomach ache. I learned from her that if a dog starts licking the carpet and eating grass that these symptoms point to a hurting stomach. I have a first aid book for dogs that has gotten me though a lot of problems with Foxy. She once got stung on the noise and her nose swelled twice its size.

The first two years I had her, she was stung on the nose, she had pancreatitis two times, and she stepped on a devil’s thorn (puncture vine seed)  that infected her paw. So you can tell that I needed that first aid book. Plus she went back and forth to Banfield hospital quite a few times.

So when I realized she had a hinky stomach, I immediately opened that book to stomach issues and vomiting. I was surprised that it suggested using Pepto Bismol for vomiting or an upset stomach. It even gave me how much I could use by dog weight.

I did use it and we were able to get through the weekend without her licking every fabric in the place. Also when she realized that the nasty tasting stuff helped her stomach, she was willing to take it. I had to put the stuff in my hand to get her to lick it off. The things I do for my little dog.

Anyway, this weekend took my mind off of Wednesday. I just found out that my kidneys are degrading again and it looks like dialysis is in my near future. I may have been worried about my dog, but she did keep my mind off of my own troubles.

I’m glad to say that she is coughing less today and she has more energy. In a few days, I’ll let her socialize again. For now I’m pleased to say that her sickness was not more serious.

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Be safe out there

close up of light bulb during sunset

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The last week we’ve had more over triple digit temperatures than under.

It’s been hot.

I’ve been huddled up in the apartment with my Foxy, around the air conditioner. I also have a hurricane fan in the hallway to blow that cool air to the living room.

My dog is black so she doesn’t do well in the heat. I have that fair skin that burns. So I know all about doing the wrong things in the desert heat.

So this is a reminder of the precautions you should take when you go out in the sun.

  1. Keep hydrated. This means water. Always carry some with you. In my case I am limited to a certain amount because of my kidneys. In this heat, the sweat dries before you notice it so you may be losing more than you think. I know that when I go from the heat into a cool area that I start to sweat.
  2. Keep those electrolytes balanced. Either make sure you have the proper chemicals in your diet or buy a drink with electrolytes. I have a little bottle so I can put drops in my water. Most of the drinks with electrolytes have too much sugar for me.
  3. Remember the sunscreen. You are in more immediate danger from heat exhaustion or heat stroke than skin cancer. Take care of the hydration situation first.
  4. Don’t forget to eat. I find it hard to eat much during mid-summer. Even though it is hot, the body still needs nutrients. In fact it is working hard to keep you cool
  5. Know the symptoms for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If you are having heat stroke, get to the ER immediately.

Even though I know these things by heart because I grew up in the desert, I still forget to drink enough water or to make sure I am getting the right nutrients. So this is as much a reminder for me as it is for you.

Stay safe out there.

When you stare into the void

Nasa void Sounds pretentious, right?

After the hospital stay, I re-evaluated my eating habits. I found some cookbooks with kidney friendly recipes. What I did find was that there were a lot of contradictions going on. Some writers suggested dairy and some said dairy was a big no-no.

There were other inconsistencies. Some said to use nightshade plants such as potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplants. I have been told to limit these vegetables because they were high in potassium.

I’ve been rubbing my forehead because after all of this research, I don’t think these “experts” really know what is good for someone with chronic kidney disease. I do know a few things about my my body. Even though I am on a low-protein diet, I do need protein to feel good enough to survive an entire day. Also nightshade vegetables give me “acid reflux.” I do enjoy my tomatoes. I could probably take them out of my diet if I could find a good substitute.

I discovered No-tomato sauce online. My objection is that it is made with beets. I can hardly stand the taste of beets. I can’t stand the smell of beets. It’s in the same category to my nose and taste buds as fecal matter. So that sauce is out. I did find that roasted red bell peppers are considered a good substitute for tomatoes in sauces.

I do like cream sauces. However, heavy cream, milk, and certain cheeses are out. I did find that ricotta cheese (considered a poor man’s cheese) can be used for creams. Even though I am on a low-dairy diet, ricotta cheese would be better than sour cream and heavy creams for my body.

After seeing the void again, I know that I have to cook more. I can’t depend on prepared food at the store. There is too much salt, too much HFCS, and too many preservatives. My kidneys cannot handle the poisons.

My personal void is kidney failure. I knew I was losing my kidneys when I was in the ICU recently. Thankfully the time-honored way of flushing the kidneys helped me this time. I can’t depend on medical intervention helping me again. The next time might be dialysis and the inevitable decline of the kidneys.

So what does it feel like when the kidneys go? When it starts there is pain in your entire body and every joint. After a while, the pain recedes and you feel like your body is stuffed with cotton. You can’t think or move. You drift. Something winks at you, and you know that you are going.

At this point I claw back to life.

 

Stress, illness, and other matters

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Image from Pixabay

Once again I am recovering from a bout of illness. This time it was pneumonia. I am finally starting to feel better after three courses of Levaquin and a four day stint in the hospital’s ICU.

It started out as a high fever and headache. It wasn’t how I usually get colds so I thought that if I kept hydrated and slept that I would get well quickly. I was mistaken.

I went to a follow up appointment with my primary care doctor a week after coming home from the hospital. She did scold me. Apparently if I have a temperature over 100, I should go straight to the ER. I have done that before and didn’t receive the treatment that I needed. So I am wary. I am pretty sure I will try to do it myself once again for a couple of days before I give in.

What got my doctor upset is that she lost a family member at the age of 40 to pneumonia. I really do understand her concerns. I don’t enjoy going to the ER and having some ER doctor tell me that I came to the ER too early. Or even worse being treated with condescension. At least this time the doctor, and he was a VA doctor by the way, saw the danger to my kidneys immediately. He started appropriate measures while I was waiting in the ER.

I haven’t had too many good things to say about hospitalists, but the one that treated me recently at the Las Vegas VA Medical Center was smart and made sure I had good treatment. The nurses were also good.

This stint in the hospital reminded me that I am always on the edge. The stress I have been feeling hasn’t helped me to stay healthy. I have had personal stress due to illness and money. Plus yesterday when the world went crazy about Charlottesville and the two crazy groups clashing and hurting each other, I felt the stress. Plus in many ways these ideas of white privilege and white supremacy attack me and mine personally.

If you look at my family, we are quite diverse. I have full siblings that look Hispanic. One of my brothers  was in Saudi Arabia with work and he could pass as one of them. There are Native Americans in my family. So when I am told that I have “privilege” just because of my skin color, I laugh– I admit it is a bitter laugh.

I grew up in a cabin, sixty miles from the nearest town. My privilege included “no running water,” and “no electricity.” I’ve lived in a small trailer with nine other people before the birth of my youngest brothers. I have put ditch water in barrels, put alum over the top to settle the mud and dirt, then use the water to wash clothes by hand.

I have worked in a huge garden. We would grow enough food to feed us for the entire winter. Our growing season was about three-four months. I canned food for weeks. The work was brutal. I would sometimes light a candle so I could see what I was doing in the dark of night as I finished up the last of the canning on the gas stove.

I had to go into the military so that I would have the GI bill so that I could finish college. I received no scholarships and no loans. Still through shear stubbornness and grit, I received a college degree in English literature when I was 38 years old.

“Check your privilege,” I hear all the time on the ‘net. No, you check your privilege.

I didn’t have a TV until I left home. When we did have a telephone, it was on a party line. I bought my first computer in the early nineties and received my first cell phone in 2005.

My life hasn’t been easy.

We live in the richest era of all. We can buy our food and clothing. It is easy to get a place to live. We have computers and entertainment that fill our days. No matter our color or place in life, we have more now than in any time in history.

I am grateful for not having to make all my clothes, grow and can all my food, and wash my clothes by hand. I am grateful that there is medication that can keep my diseases under control. Fifty years ago any one of my conditions would have killed me by now.

I want you to know that all of us are privileged to have what we have and to have the leisure time we have now. My challenge to you is to use it wisely. Quit the scuffling and name-calling. Take advantage of the opportunities.

And as Ellen DeGeneres says every day– “Be kind to others.”

Grace under pressure

otto-tune
Since I was given my diagnosis of thyroid cancer (papillary thyroid carcinoma) on Tuesday, the stress has been building because I haven’t received any phone calls from the surgeon so that I can get an appointment. It blows my mind that the word “cancer” means something to me, but not to the doctors that should be treating me. Plus with the thyroid out-of-whack, the stress builds quicker and more forcefully.

I was thinking of how I should deal with the doctors when I remembered the few months we dealt with Otto’s diagnosis of cancer. At least in my case, we know where my cancer is located. I became more and more angry and he became more and more polite and kind to the nurses and doctors around him.

It was a scary time. I am now feeling some of the same pressures even though I have been assured by a couple of people including my primary care doctor that this is one of the most survivable cancers. It is also the easiest to treat. Except even with all this going for me, if I am not treated early, I end up like the five percent who don’t survive. What makes me anxious and ultimately angry is that I am seeing no forward momentum in eradicating this problem.

When I go to sleep at night, I feel this huge lump in my throat and I am now sleeping in a reclining position because I can’t swallow well while I am sleeping. Now that I know what is in that lump, I feel it every day. I felt it before, but I thought I could trust the doctors. If I hadn’t pitched a fit about not feeling good– and that I needed to be checked (I went to the ER, I had labs and fecal tests, and I had a sonogram). I would still have this thing in my neck, ready to spew cancer cells to other parts of my body.

It doesn’t help that my thyroid is releasing hormones erratically. It doesn’t help that I feel this lump whenever I swallow. It doesn’t help that I want to scream at someone–

So how did my late-husband stay kind under that kind of pressure. Part of it was that he really cared about my emotional state. He would diminish his pain a little so that I wouldn’t worry as much. Plus he was kind. He really was kind underneath.

I learned a lot of my coping skills from him. He used to tell me that I needed to hold a good memory close so that I could remember it when I was unhappy. Plus I needed to visualize it as clearly as I could. When he was close to dying and needed help to remember his good memory–I recreated the beach for him. I told him about the water washing up onto the sand. About the colorful fishes swimming around his feet. I described the women in bikinis walking hand in hand and splashing water.

I want to borrow his “grace.”

Essential Oils and Diamond Butterfly

img_0365 A couple of days ago, I was talking to a mental health professional about how I thought part of my problems with health was because of the underlying anxiety I feel all the time. While we were talking about my husband’s death (we were married on Feb 16th) and my chronic illnesses, she handed me a cotton ball, which she laced with a couple drops of peppermint oil.

The response was almost immediate. I could feel each muscle relax. But it went even farther than the skin, muscles, and organs. I could feel the relaxation go down into the cells of my body. I felt the electrons that had been spinning like crazy, start to drop to a slower frequency. When I left our meeting, I was even smiling and holding that cotton ball to my nose.

When I drove the forty minutes home, I had one hand on the steering wheel and the other hand was holding that cotton ball to my nose. I made it home without yelling at drivers, or giving them the one-fingered salute. I think there was a silly smile on my face when I walked into my apartment. Foxy jumped and gave me the chihuahua greeting, including the waving front paws.

When I think about it, smell is one of the most powerful of our five senses even though we use visual more often or think we do. Smell is the first sense we develop and the last sense we lose.

Cinnamon and peppermint are the two smells that remind me of Christmas and magic. So now I am trying out a few other oils. Orange is a great pick-me-up. I really need that one in the morning. I’m also looking into a few that can help dry skin and kidney function.

Peppermint is still my go-to when I lie down and my brain starts to roll and spark. It calms me down even quicker than lavender–maybe because it sparks a feeling of safety.

Now here is an excerpt from my current WIP Diamond Butterfly:

The snow came down wet and heavy as I trudged down a dirt road, marked by slashes on the trees. Without those slashes I couldn’t see the road, and I still had to hike a couple of miles before I made it to the cabin at the end of the road. My baby boy’s sleeping breath warmed my neck as I carried him on my back, wrapped in a blanket. With his weight on my back, I tested each footstep. If we fell in the snow, hypothermia could be a problem. I couldn’t fall.

I had been driving down that road like a demon with the snow hitting the windshield. I should have gotten new blades, hell, new tires when I realized that I was heading for the storm. The heater kept a small portion of my windshield clear. I might not have jerked and slid off the road, barely hitting a tree if I had seen the black creature earlier. Now I was walking in the storm and trying to keep my baby warm.

The snow dampened the sound around me. I could only hear the crunch of my own boots. Even the birds and smaller animals were hidden in burrows, snoring. I opened my mouth to taste the air. I couldn’t smell or taste anything around me, just wet and more wet.

I reached back and touched my boy’s small foot. It was soft and warm. I felt a quick relief. If I could just make it to the cabin soon without getting lost, we would be fine. I took a deep breath and followed the slashes, the loaded revolver heavy in my pocket.
How did I, Nova Tewa, obedient granddaughter, get into this predicament?

dragonboy2016

Don’t forget– Dragon Boy is my new release:

If you’re down on your luck, come to Hilda’s Inn for a game of dice and cheap ale. The hundred-year-stew has been stewing for a hundred years and the fire never burns out.

Except Hilda’s Inn is under new management, and Hilda is on the run with Davi, a dragonling. There will be dwarfs, ogres, dragons, and magical trinkets between Delhaven and Koenigstadt, the king’s city.

Don’t forget that the woods are not a safe place–the Draugr is lurking and
hungry. And, he has a taste for magic

Warm days and cold hands

img_0584 Foxy, my black chihuahua terrier mix, sits with me on my overstuffed rocking chair with the front door open. She sits on my lap and stretches like a flat fur rug. I know she is starting to get older because white is appearing on her muzzle and eyebrows. When I first got her over two years ago, except for her chest, she was black all over.

She is also getting more cuddly and less active. But then, with the problems I’ve had the last few weeks, I am also getting slower.

We don’t see too many clouds except in the spring and fall in Las Vegas. So I watch the clouds curl and flow. In the higher atmosphere the I see lenticular clouds. It would be long that this storm which left us only a few drops will be on its way to Utah and Colorado. I think it stops here to dry off a little and warm up before the big show.

My sleep schedule has been interrupted by my symptoms. My usual sleep schedule is between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. The prickling in my neck, plus the hot and cold sensations that seem to start at bedtime and keep me awake. I have been waking up at 4 hour intervals. So at 2 p.m. in the afternoon (sometimes earlier) I am so tired that I take a long nap. Needless to say these patterns make it hard for me to think and to write creatively.

Inside it feels like someone has put their foot on the pedal and is revving the engine.

So I am hoping that the sonogram biopsy will be the start to getting my engine to a low hum. This constant revving is tiring.

Now for a little promotion time.

Plus here is the first in the series, Hilda’s Inn for Retired Heroes: