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.”

What is courage?

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From Pixabay

There was a color personality test on FB this morning that said it could pinpoint my most dominant characteristic. I’m always intrigued with personality tests, so I took it. My dominant characteristic is courage. A friend who took the same test and is dealing with the same disease got kindness.

It made me stop and think about courage. It makes me rethink the story of the hero. In my personal life, the person who isn’t scared is usually the foolish one. He is the one that walks in a bad area at night with the mistaken idea that he is the baddest one around. He is the foolish one who is addicted to the adrenaline rush. This is the one who dies first.

In my experience courage is always mixed with a dose of healthy fear. When I feel the adrenaline rush through my body, I also know that what I am rushing towards is going to hurt. Yes, I will stand for my friend or in front of the rushing animal. I am also the one who will be sliced to bits whether physically or verbally. I know I will lose something.

But courage is also the narrative I tell about myself. When I was a child, I was considered stubborn. I felt that the world should be fair. If I whined “it’s not fair,” my parents would always say the same thing. “Life is not fair.”

I won’t go into my childhood and teenhood. It was not fun or fair for many years. It was those experiences that made me face what is unfair.

I don’t always fight for myself. I have fought for others to have a place to smoke in their living quarters. Yes, the Navy made a decision to ban smoking halfway through my enlistment. I was not a smoker, but I didn’t think it was fair that others were penalized for this habit. If they couldn’t smoke in their private rooms, then they needed someplace else. I am not a smoker by the way.

Because I supported an unpopular decision, I was prepared to lose everything that I had worked for (I made E-5 in two years). The person that stands up gets noticed and not always in a good way. There is always a penalty for courage.

I have been told that being able to survive and thrive with a chronic illness is courage. If endurance is courage, I might agree. I really don’t know. I do know that even when I have the days I want to stay in bed and sleep, I will get up and dress. I will take the dog for a walk. I will put one step in front of another and start each day new.

I’m not a hero. I haven’t pulled people from burning buildings. When I was in the Navy, I repaired equipment for others. I didn’t go on combat missions. I fear.

When someone tells me they admire my courage, I ask them about what is happening in their own life. Then I give them the words that help me to get up in the morning– “This too will pass. Each day is better than the last.”

A quick update on the health of the writer

Panama Rose
This week I saw the surgeon for a post-op appointment. He called me the patient with the small cancer.

I will admit loudly and proudly that I have a great imagination. I can imagine scenarios using full senses with a full emotional spectrum. It gets me into trouble when I am sick.

So while I was waiting impatiently for my surgery, I was imagining the cancer slyly putting tendrils throughout my thyroid and into my lymph nodes.

I had a happy shock when the cancer was confined to one nodule.

When I talked to the surgeon, I was told that I had been very lucky. I wouldn’t need radiation or chemo. All good news because I wasn’t happy with the thought of being even more isolated for days.

One of the hardest things I have done before my illness was to become socialized. I would rather sit at home or under the stars alone. So illness has strengthened my inner tendency to leave social situations. It is one of the reasons I miss Otto terribly. He was the only one that could sit with me and watch the stars. It’s hard to describe the emotion because it is deeper than love and comfort. There is no words for this type of companionship.

Last night I watched “No Batteries included.” Otto introduced me to that movie. I see myself in the little old lady who lost her mind through dementia. When I was extremely ill one year, Otto watched me like the old man watched his wife in the movie. I would wander off.

The movie hit so many buttons for me.

Still I can see that Otto socialized me to companionship. I was a bitter young woman. It wasn’t meeting Otto that was so pivotal to my life now. No, it was when I decided he was the man for me. It was another twist that brought me a good twenty-two years. He made me a better person and grounded my wild imagination.

So I noticed one thing about the surgery. My emotional instability stopped. That little cancer had been causing my emotions to swing from one extreme to another. It is such a relief to be able to think and feel on a normal level again. One nodule. One cancer.

There will be other challenges. I wouldn’t be this person without them. I’m hoping that the drama will be less though.

Also I will have to pull myself out of this self-imposed shell. It is time for me to be social again. I feel excited and scared all at once.

Gratuitous Foxy picture

img_0584 Since this has been an interesting week as in the “Chinese” curse “May you live in interesting times.” I thought a doggy picture of my companion would be appropriate.

I finally lost my monitor. I knew I would lose it because there was a high squeal coming from the back. To my opinion as a former electronics tech, I was losing a cap in the power supply. Since it was a small monitor and buying parts would be more expensive than a new monitor, I used it until one day it wouldn’t turn on.

I think I might give it to an used electronics store– it is probably fixable. I just don’t have the time, energy, or money. Also I have room to write, but no room for electronics repair as a hobby.

The second thing that happened this week was the attitude of many of my doctors. I have been trying to get an appointment that leads to surgery because it is obvious to me that my thyroid is going to malfunction more and more until it dies and/or I have other problems. Because it is supposed to be a slow-moving cancer, many of the doctors do not have the urgency that I have about getting this problem fixed. One told me that getting the surgery now or in three months wouldn’t make any difference considering the kind of cancer I had.

I am learning once again that beating my head against the wall of medical “knowledge” will only give me a sore head– in more ways than one. So I am now cranky as well as exhausted with my body going through so many ups and downs this month– (cold then hot, happy then angry, and always in extremes).

I would like to go back to “balance.” I miss those days.

Today I went back to one of my novellas that I started last year. I want to get it written and then published. I also have started the third book in the Hilda’s Inn series called “Unlicensed Sorceress.”

The good news is that I have had enough energy to rearrange my writing room and clear out all the paper that was clogging my energy levels. More good news is that I am enjoying my new monitor. I find it easier to use for my writing.

Don’t forget that I do have a new book out– “Dragon Boy.” You can find it here at Amazon.com.