15 August 2010

I couldn't sleep

Sunday, August 15, 2010 0259AM

I don't know if it was something outside that woke me or a combination of things. But I couldn't sleep. It's just after 0300 MST and my roommate is sleeping soundly. So I'm trying to be quiet and not having much luck.

Already, I've made a list of things I need to do today mostly comprised of things I didn't get done yesterday. I've booted up the computer, checked email, and did a short search for jobs that might be interesting to apply for. I've been looking for months. No one answered any of the emails I sent this week, so there was nothing to answer. The jobs I could apply for require applying on-line.

I did do one of those on-line thingy's on Friday. It took nearly two hours to get it complete and right so it would be accepted by the prospective employer. I can only surmise if you don't do it exactly right, even if it's accepted, you probably won't ever hear from that prospective employer. I have to wonder what an 'on-line application' looks like when it reaches the other end. I guess these days employers want to know you can use the computer or at least have some literacy about using it.

I hate to try and clean the apartment even when my roommate is home even if the hour is more normal. I know I'd be irritated if someone ran the vacuum around me (awake or not). I'd be irritated if someone loaded the dishwasher and set it to running a cycle especially in the wee hours. And I'd be pissed off if someone was cleaning in the bathroom and I desperately needed to use it. I can get these things done in a timely manner sometime later today. I hope. For now, I'll just put them on the bottom of my 'to do list'.

It's even too early to go to the store for the things I forgot yesterday when I was there. Apparently, they were either not on my list or I forgot to walk down the aisle to find them. The store I've been shopping at lately is not my usual neighborhood store, so I have to literally walk all the aisles to find stuff.

I could go for a walk, but I won't. This neighborhood I'm staying in isn't the safest. I'd be concerned not about getting mugged, but more about getting hit by some impaired driver trying to find his/her way home after a Saturday night out. It's still way dark outside.

Mind you, I'm not complaining. I'm awake and up. I feel like I should be doing something productive. I actually have energy this morning. I hate to do housework but it's something we all have to do.

I did get the kitties fed, they're happy for the moment and I did make a small pot of coffee which is nearly gone already. So, in lieu of being 'housework productive' at this early hour, I punch away at these keys rambling on about what I can't do, should do, instead of laying down again and trying to go back to sleep for a couple more hours. Maybe I'll give snoozing a try after all....after I clean the litter boxes! More later.

12 August 2010

Oreo -- Part Two

The Forest Lakes Incident, summer 2000

I have family in the Forest Lakes area I rarely get to see. I thought sending Oreo to Forest Lakes the summer of 2000 would be a good idea. I wanted him out of the excessive valley heat. I might also get to see this part of the family a little more often, too. They live about a mile from the summer stables.

I arranged for Oreo to be used as a wrangler horse. The guy or gal who was staying with the horses at the stables would use him to lead the rides they took. I made the trip every weekend to spend time with Oreo, collect the cash receipts for the owner, and take the wrangler gal to the store for groceries. It was how Oreo's feed and board would be paid while he was there. I would enjoy getting out of the excessive heat for a few hours, too.

A group of us decided to take off Fourth of July weekend and spend the weekend in Forest Lakes camping. Our camp area was about a mile or so east of the stables where the horses were kept. It's a secluded area nestled among the ponderosa pines with a small pond and an area where we could bring the horses if we wanted to.

The day after we arrived a friend and I decided to take a short ride to my cousins home for a visit. The horses made the trip in short order and we visited for about an hour. It was on the way back to the stables we were in for what would become the story of the weekend.

We were about half way back to the stables and coming at us was a small miniature horse drawn cart. Oreo balked, spun around and bolted in the direction we'd just come from. I had to keep telling myself not to panic as I sawed on the reins trying to get him to stop. I watched as the end of the road got closer and closer. Just beyond the end of the road was a big wide ditch. I knew Oreo wouldn't make the jump across it. If I couldn't get him stopped, I might be able to get him turned, but in any case we'd be in serious trouble really soon. I could hear my friend calling from down the road. He was having an issue with his horse, too.

I fnally did get Oreo stopped. We were less than a hundred feet from the ditch and a neighbor had run down his driveway to see if he could help in any way. I was shaking so bad I got off Oreo, and walked on wobbly legs toward the man. He asked if we were all right, and I told him we were fine except for the case of nerves. He chuckled and I did too as he held Oreo for me so I could mount again. Oreo hesitated as we moved forward again.

The little cart had disappeared from sight, but I could feel Oreo's nervousness under me. He knew it was somewhere close by. I could see my friend had control of his horse, again and was waiting for me. He was with the man who had been driving the little cart. They were talking together when I joined them.

The man looked at Oreo's bridle and suggested I find another bit for him, perhaps something with sweet iron in it. I had to agree. I'd already planned to address the situation when we got back home to Phoenix.

I later found out, big horses are sometimes terrified of little horses. I guess Oreo was one of those big horses. When my friend and I got back to camp we told the story and everyone had a good laugh. No one believed Oreo could have that much stamina. In truth, Oreo always seemed to be one of those lazy laid back type of horse that never balked, jumped sideways, or spooked at anything. He had this Eyore attitude most of the time.

Needless to say, when the weekend came to a close, Oreo came home to Phoenix with us. I was afraid if he'd balked with me he'd do it with someone else, and I didn't want anyone hurt, especially since I was more than a hundred miles away.

That year and the next Oreo and I went on three other trips. Two trips to Wickenburg, and another camping trip to Forest Lakes. The two trips to Wickenburg, Oreo dumped his rider into the sand of the Hassayampa River bed. Fortunately no one was hurt and everyone laughed at his antics. Oreo wasn't the only horse on either of those rides who decided to have a roll in the sand rider, saddle, and all. On the last trip to Forest Lakes, Oreo's rider took him into the water to let him drink after a particularly long fast ride. Oreo did drink, then began to paw the water, a sure sign he was going to splash himself. None of us said anything to warn the rider and we waited....sure enough he did splash himself and his rider right into the cold water. Poor rider...he swore he'd never get on another horse after that. He walked back to camp instead of riding Oreo back.

Oreo had his moments when he surprised all of us. I'm so glad to have had him in my life. I'm so glad he came into my Mum's life, too. I sold Oreo to a friend in 2002, who has given him a good home and good life. At nearly 25 years old, he's 'King of the Barn and Pastures' where he lives with his mule friends and is retired.

A tiny village

The normal sounds of the tiny fishing village are muffled by thick fog obscuring the views of the harbor, bluffs, and beach's along the coastline of Massachusetts this late August morning. Even with the thick fog, the bell buoy's and foghorn buoy's can be heard warning mariners away from the rocky shoals below where Bluff Light stands silently flashing it's message into the gloom.

The old light has recently been awareded historical significance and been refurbished with new 'state of the art' electronic technology, given a coat of paint and stands as majestically as it has for more than a century. The tiny outbuildings serve the light keeper well. They were sturdily built and have weathered storms as long as the light has. Every few years a new light keeper takes up residence to maintian the light as it warns sailors away from the rocky shoals below.

The freshening easterly breeze slaps rigging on sailboat masts moored across the bay in the inlet at the Yacht Club. Soon the boats will be gone. local fishing boats will be pulled from thewater into dry docks for winter storage and repairs. Pleasure boats will also be pulled into storage or sailed south by their experienced captian's and crews to the warmer climes of the Carolina's, Georgia, or Florida.

Along this coastal area only a few weeks of idyllic weather remains. Tourists will still come after Labor Day, but not in the droves as they have since mid-May. They will trickle through until the middle of October. By late September, most of the tourists will turn their attentions to the fall foliage and make their day trips to the western part of Massachusetts, into Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont for the brilliant annual fall colors. the constant hum of traffic across theBourne Bridge willslow and become barely discernable to the natives who stay the winter months. The bridge links the mainland.

The gloom brightened and the fog thinned as dawn came. I can imagine, though I cannot see yet, fishermen tossing old bait over the sides of their stout little boats as they chug toward open water and another day of hard work. The gulls fly in from every known direction. Who knows where they roost at night. They circle the boats screaming and fighting for every morsel thrown over the side as they follow the boats to sea.

As the season ends, the hardy locals will bank their seasonal fortunes and begin the rigorous job of boarding up businesses, the summer homes of the affluent, and battening down for the long winter months. Fishermen will spend the long winter days, though daylight shortened, repairing traps, building new ones to replace those lost at sea during the season, and repairing nets and trawl lines. Their boats will be repaired, refurbished and painted. Safety equipment will be repaired, new installed and tested. The Coast Guard will inspect every vessel certifying it safe to work the waters the next season.

With the new season, there will be an event. The event is festive. There is an air of hope, promise, and goodwill. The flotilla will gather across the bay in and around the inlet near the Yacht Club for "The Blessing of the Fleet". The village will attract large numbers of people for the one day event. It's a sight to see so many people, hundreds of boats and the hardiness of the village as it starts another season. The cycle repeats and begins again in this tiny village along the south coast of Massachusetts.

04 August 2010

Polyclonal Hypergammaglobulinemia

August 4, 2010

What is Polyclonal Hypergammaglobulinemia? Good question. Little is known about this rare blood condition that affects women over 50 who have other medical issues and are smokers.

In my personal case, I am a smoker, have high cholesterol, COPD exacerbated with allergies and asthma and any number of other things we haven't discovered yet. I have/had a very enlarged spleen. I was anemic, which was corrected with iron supplements and B-complex vitamins.

Originally, the rare blood issue was discovered during a stay in the hospital with breathing issues. Many months have passed and many possible diagnoses have been thrown at me, including Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia.

Waldenstrom's is also rare, but not as rare as the condition I have been diagnosed with. The thing with Waldenstrom's is you will die with it, although it will not kill you. The complications exacerbating Waldenstrom's will ultimately do you in. The suggested life span after diagnosis is 5-12 years.

I have digressed here. This article is not about Waldenstrom's. It's about me and Polyclonal Hypergammaglobulinemia. I've gone through months and months of testing to reach this diagnosis. Testing including, but not limited to lots of lab testing of blood, CT scans, sonograms, endoscopy and colonoscopy, two bone marrow biopsy's, etc. During all this testing, my spleen was growing larger and larger and there was some enlargement of my liver as well, but that (the liver) apparently was little to be concerned about.

I gained weight. I went from 160 pounds to 185 pounds in about three months after the initial visit in the hospital. My belly was hard and distended. I felt tired, slow and sluggish most of the time. I slept a lot, too. Still no answers or recommended treatments.

Finally, the doctor suggested removing my spleen. He and his colleagues made the suggestion about the time I started asking if I could go back to work at my regular profession as a commercial truck driver. I was cautioned that my spleen could rupture if bumped the wrong way, so they recommended waiting until after the proposed surgery. I was cautioned at that time, also, the removal of my spleen probably would not be the cure all for the condition.

I did have the spleen removed and an umbilical hernia repaired. I spent six days in the hospital after the fact. I had a rough couple of days not being able to breathe properly right after the surgery, but for the most part I was on my feet after the third day. Lord, was I sore. The food left much to be desired as well. But that's not uncommon for institutional food either. I was kept on a 'clear diet' until the last day, then I was allowed 'soft foods'. I thought I was going to go nuts. Since then I can't look at jello or clear broth of any kind, laugh.

I agreed to have the surgery so I could go back to work at my regular profession without worry that my spleen would rupture. I'd deal with the associated issues of not having a spleen as they arose. It isn't uncommon for people without spleens to be more susceptible to seasonal illnesses (viral and bacterial), pneumonia, and influenza. I'll have care when the time comes and have the recommended inoculation's. Fortunately, I'm not in contact with school age children often, so the likelihood of contracting something serious it limited.

I've healed well. The post-operative visit with the surgeon went well. I can return to work without restrictions. I can ride my horse again without fear of having my spleen rupture if I'm tossed off. Hey, anyone who rides always takes the chance of having their animal toss them, it's not an uncommon thing.

I've lost weight since the surgery. My belly is back to nearly normal and I feel 100% better. pretty good news, considering a few months ago, I wasn't sure if I'd get through all this or not. There will be more blood testing to watch blood counts. I've been forewarned. To be forewarned is to be armed and ready.

I don't know what the long term effects of this condition are. I'm told the doctors will adopt a wait and see attitude treating as needed. It's been suggested I quit smoking. I knew that was coming. I've been trying to quit for more than ten years without much success and still not having a great deal of success.

In all this medical hoopla, I've moved. I'm staying with a friend in another area of the city. It's not as quiet here as it was where I used to stay. I have to admit, it's a great deal healthier than the place I was in before. I haven't had to run for my inhaler, the nose drops, or see the doctor for antibiotics for help with an infection since I left the hospital. This is a positive thing.

Having high cholesterol, I've made changes to my diet. I think we can beat the high cholesterol with these changes and exercise. I'd started this process long before I was tested for the cholesterol issue, so I had a head start.

The good news is, I can and will live a healthy active lifestyle for many years to come. I'm on the mend and I'll recover completely. We'll deal with the blood issues as they present. I'm reasonably assured Polyclonal Hypergammaglobulinemia won't kill me.