One Little Word Shall Fell Him

We sang this magnificent hymn in church this morning—accompanied by the glorious strains of an organ. Oh, that was good for my soul. I wish there had been several hundred more of us!

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

by Martin Luther

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Goodbye to the Okra Forest

I wish I could say today was a productive day for me, but I’d be lying. My alarm failed to go off and I woke up 4 minutes before I was supposed to be walking out the door to take Jasper to his Saturday job! I scrambled to get dressed and out the door in time.

One thing I did do was drive up to Sam’s Club to buy laundry detergent. My husband has to do laundry every day for his cleaning job, so we go through a lot of detergent. Sam’s detergent definitely seems to be the most affordable.

Afterward, I went out to the front yard with my husband and we cut down our massive okra plants. The stems were at least 2 inches across! All of them were in the neighborhood of 11 feet tall, but we measured the tallest and it was 11 feet, 5 inches tall. All of them were still blooming and still producing, but I felt the time had come to take them out so I can plant some winter veggies in that spot.

Later, my husband also pulled out all my green beans and put away the “bean harp,” though I will soon have to re-thread it for peas. He also pulled all my tomato plants out, as they had just about finished yielding. The garden looks so different now with all the tall plants gone!

Lucy and Tanner made more soap, and Jasper worked all morning and then watched a movie in the afternoon with some church friends.

Parting Shot:

My last okra harvest of the year. Those 8 plants have been the superstar of my garden this year.

Noping

Normally I sleep in a little on Friday mornings, to make up for having to go grocery shopping. But this morning, I was out the door before sunrise, on my way to the hospital/medical complex. My appointment was at the ungodly hour of 7:30.

Naturally, I got a fantastic parking spot because no one else was there yet. And when I reached the waiting room, I was the only patient in there waiting for at least twenty minutes. I still don’t understand why they asked me to come in so early, because I didn’t see the doctor until 8:00, and I know for sure there was no one else before me.

This doctor (also a cardiologist) spent more time with me than any other doctor I’ve seen since this whole rodeo began—at least 40 minutes. He surprised me with the unwelcome news that I have already had a heart attack at some point in the past, which resulted in scar tissue in my heart. No idea when that might have happened, or why I didn’t realize something serious was going on.

When I told him I was already scheduled for the drainage procedure on Tuesday, he went right to work setting it up so that I could have the catheterization that same day. It saves time and money and I only have to get off my blood thinner once instead of twice.

So Tuesday morning I’ll be there bright and early for the heart cath. If he finds any blockages (which he thinks he will), he will go ahead and insert stents as needed. Shortly after coming out of recovery from that procedure, I’ll go wherever I need to go to get the fluid drained out of my chest cavity. Doesn’t that sound like a fun day?

Supposedly, I’ll get to go home after the second procedure, but knowing how things go for me I wouldn’t bet on it. I have a feeling someone is going to suggest keeping me overnight for “observation.”

One thing about this doctor that I liked was his interest in me as a person and his concern about my lack of insurance. He said that my heart condition absolutely qualifies as a disability, and if I can get qualified for disability, I would automatically be qualified for Medicare also, even though I’m not old enough—and Medicare would pay retroactively for everything I’ve had done.

The problem is that I’ve been self-employed as a teacher/tutor and haven’t worked for a “company” for many years. Preliminary research makes me think it’s unlikely that disability would be approved. I don’t want a payout—just the designation. I will research it further but right now it doesn’t look hopeful.

So anyway, I would appreciate your continued prayers for my health and for the two procedures I’m having on Tuesday, and for wisdom regarding the financial side of it all.

When my doctor’s appointment ended, I was sent downstairs to preregister and get advance lab work done for Tuesday’s fun fest (including another Covid test). So it was late in the morning when I returned home at last. When I feel overwhelmed/stressed/discouraged, I often cope by lying down and moping until I fall asleep. It’s especially easy to do now because I need to lie down so much anyway. So if I’m both napping and moping, I’m “noping.” Seems pretty accurate for my current situation. And there was nothing to stop my noping today because the friend who was supposed to come over had a change of plans.

Meanwhile, Jasper spent much of the day out at his forge, helping a friend with some blacksmithing while also working on a poker that someone at his church commissioned him to make. He did a great job!

I made a big pot of chicken curry for supper and then we finished the evening by watching a movie with Lucy and Tanner. I say after a really bad week, the best option for shaking it off is watching a hilariously bad movie.

And finally—I’ll finish with some good news. The last two nights, after posting my blog entry, I’ve stayed up a little later to write. I had a story more than half done before my health problems started, and hadn’t felt up to writing ever since. But I finished that story in two evenings and now I can start another one and keep going until I have enough for my anthology. Such a relief!

Lookback:

Five years ago, on this date, Jasper was helping Walter build a treehouse.

Listening

One of my favorite quotes of all time is the following quote spoken by Merlin to young Arthur in T.H. White’s The Once and Future King:

“The best thing for being sad . . . is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”   

Much as I have loved that quote for many decades now, I don’t think it ever occurred to me that the day might come when I personally might lie awake at night listening to the disorder of my veins. Yet, once you know you have an arrhythmia, that’s what you do. At least that’s what I do. I listen to or feel my heartbeat rather obsessively, especially when I wake at night—and for the last couple of weeks, it has scared me, because I’ve known that my heart was back in a-fib. My heartbeat has been extremely fast and irregular whenever I’ve checked it. Sometimes I’m afraid to check because I can already feel my heart fluttering in my chest like a bird trying to escape. Frankly, at times it’s been terrifying.

This morning when I woke up a few minutes before the alarm sounded, I put my hand on my chest to feel my heartbeat. I felt a steady, normal beat. I could hardly believe it. I checked it multiple times during the morning with the same result every time. Could it be that my heart has reverted to a normal sinus rhythm on its own? If the pattern holds, I should find out tomorrow.

Today I had an appointment scheduled with my regular cardiologist, and frankly I was a little puzzled about it because I knew he wouldn’t want to make any decision until I had seen the doctor who’s going to do the catheterization. So I drove up there today and miraculously got a great parking spot, only to find out that my appointment had indeed been canceled but no one had thought to tell me. Tomorrow I have a ridiculously early appointment with this other cardiologist, at which time we’ll discuss the stress test and the catheterization and what we might be able to learn from them.

The puzzling thing about today was that despite my heart doing such a great job beating, I experienced overwhelming fatigue and weakness such as I haven’t felt for at least a couple of weeks. I had to rest often. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get some answers.

Lull

Today was a “down” day in more ways than one. My primary goal was to work on the financial side of our medical situation. I made some headway, but it was tough slogging because I really, really hate this kind of work. Tomorrow morning maybe I can get a little more done before my doctor’s appointment.

Lookback

Two years ago today, I was at Writers in the Field, my favorite writers’ event, which has of course been canceled this year. But two years ago it was an epic outdoor event with torrential rain, a tornado warning, and a sea of ankle-deep mud. For two days I slogged barefoot through the mud and felt like a kid again. This is what my feet looked like when I tried to clean them off before driving home. In addition to the mud, they were covered in fire ant bites.

Discouraging Words

A year ago, I was in the best health of my adult life and looking forward to a couple more decades of “golden years” adventures before slowing down to take it easy. I certainly never dreamed that today I’d be one of those old ladies whose life seems to consist of going to various different doctor’s appointments. Yet here I am.

This afternoon I received a phone call from the cardiologist’s office, telling me I needed to make yet another appointment because my stress test was “abnormal.” (I was expecting this.) I have ischemia, an insufficient blood supply to my heart. So I have an appointment for Friday morning with another cardiologist who does heart catheterizations, so we can set one up and they can get in there and figure out what is “abnormal” about my heart; what is causing the ischemia.

Meanwhile, today I had an appointment with a pulmonologist. I thought the main reason for going to see him was to talk about sleep apnea and maybe set up a sleep study. And we did talk about it. But he was much more concerned about the large amount of fluid surrounding my right lung, even after two weeks on a diuretic. He did a sonogram and showed me all the fluid and how it was squeezing my lung, making it impossible for me to fully inflate it. He also showed me images of my CT scan from my last ER visit, which showed the same thing.

I really like this doctor. He took the time to explain things to me very thoroughly. And the upshot was that since the fluid is not going away on its own, it will have to be removed. So next Tuesday I’ll be going in for a procedure where they’ll make a hole in my back, insert a tube, and manually drain the fluid. It doesn’t sound like a fun time at all.

I told him I felt very discouraged and overwhelmed, and he took a moment to comfort me. “I know it sounds like you’ve got a lot of different things wrong with you,” he said, “but they’re all actually different aspects of the same thing, and if we can figure out what’s causing it, all of it will get a lot better.” I hope he’s right.

I have an appointment with my regular cardiologist on Thursday, and the other cardiologist on Friday. Given how things have been going, I don’t expect good news at either appointment.

And a huge aspect of all this is how am I even talking about all these appointments and procedures when I don’t have insurance? Why couldn’t this have waited a few more years until I qualify for Medicare? The financial liability is going to be massive. So tomorrow I’ll be trying to figure out how to handle this through our “medi-share” program. I have been so stressed about this. Everybody wants to be paid, and when they find out I don’t have insurance, they want to be paid immediately. I won’t even be able to register at the hospital for the fluid-draining procedure unless I can work something out with them.

Oh—and Jasper’s ingrown toenail is back and severely infected. We both knew this would happen, but couldn’t get the doctor to remove the nail permanently back in the spring. Maybe now he’ll listen, assuming we can get an appointment. We have a toenail curse in this family.

Lookback:

Eleven years ago on this date, Spencer and Jasper were totally absorbed in reading the grocery store flyers. I love this picture.

A Lina Visit

Today may have been Columbus Day, but I still had my tutoring student. First though, I had to drive up to a mechanic’s shop early to pick up Lina. While I had to teach today, Lina’s school had the day off, so she drove back up here to get a repair done on her car. I brought her back to the house and she worked on her own projects while I worked with my student. In the afternoon, a friend came to take Lina out for coffee, and after that she was able to pick up her car.

Meanwhile, I was trying to sort out one of my prescriptions. I had tried to pick it up on Friday, but changed my mind when I heard it was more than $400 for a one-month supply (and that is the discounted price). I had been given a $10 “co-pay” card though, so I thought I’d come home, activate the card, and then go back to get the meds.

Except that when I tried to activate the card on the website, I was told I wasn’t eligible. So I let it go until this morning, when I took the last pill I had. This time I called on the phone to see if I could activate the card. No. You only qualify for the co-pay if you have insurance that covers prescription drugs.

So I called the clinic I went to last week and explained the situation. They said they’d call the prescription in to another pharmacy—one that could give me a big discount. I waited to give them time to fill the prescription, and then called and asked how much it would cost me. $58. Now that is still kind of pricy for someone on my budget, but it is doable. Full price is over $500! It was such a relief to get that bottle of pills though because there are multiple warnings telling you not to stop taking it suddenly. I had it in time to take it this evening with my other meds.

And once again I am asking for prayer for my health. I’ve known for several days now that my heart has gone back into a-fib. Last night was particularly scary and I probably should have gone to the ER. As a result of my poor night’s sleep, today I have experienced a great deal of fatigue. Tomorrow I have an appointment with a pulmonologist. I did not make the appointment, but was referred by my cardiologist. I believe the purpose of the appointment is to set up a sleep study to see if I suffer from sleep apnea, which is a major a-fib trigger. And Thursday I go to the cardiologist to get the results of last week’s stress test. At this point I no longer expect to hear encouraging news. I continue to research my options and incorporate every helpful habit I’ve learned about. But my heart is not cooperating.

Lookback:

On this date 11 years ago, I took this photo of a white rose in our front  yard.

The Promise is not Vain

I’ll be honest—I had planned on posting a different hymn today, but I’ve ended up in such a difficult place that my mind went to this hymn which has been like a lifeline to me during some of the worst times of my life.

O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go

by George Matheson

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

Family Together

This morning started, as Saturdays do now, with me getting up and driving Jasper to his yard job with a stop at a donut shop on the way. When I returned home, I tried to do some things to prepare for supper, like chopping bell peppers and making a big batch of sourdough pizza dough so it could be slowly rising all day.

I was up very late last night making white chocolate raspberry cheesecake and although I got less sleep, I was glad to have the dessert done.

This afternoon I went out to the garden and pulled up my basil plant because I needed the whole thing and I don’t think I’ll want to harvest again this fall. I cut a ton of oregano too and then brought them inside to incorporate into my homemade pizza sauce. I love being able to use fresh herbs.

Lina arrived late in the afternoon, followed by Spencer and Jade. Lucy helped assemble and bake the pizzas after I got all the components ready. Meanwhile, I made myself an almond flour meat pie since I can’t eat pizza.

Mercy and Daniel are in town for the weekend helping some friends move, but they blocked out some time to come here for dinner so we could belatedly celebrate Mercy’s birthday. The pizza was a big hit and the cheesecake was an even bigger hit!

We hadn’t seen Mercy and Daniel since the beginning of the summer, so it was great to even get a couple of hours with them. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait so long to see them again. Meanwhile, it was lovely to have five of my seven children here, if only briefly.

One Month

One month ago today, I went to the emergency room thinking I’d be there a few hours while they figured out what to do about my severe edema. It’s been a pretty rough month, but I’m so grateful to be in a much better place healthwise today. I still have my struggles, but most of the edema is gone and I am so much more functional than I was a month ago. I have two more medical appointments next week that should give me a better picture of how things are going.

This morning I felt up to going grocery shopping in person rather than opting for delivery again, so I drove up to Aldi and got the things I needed. We have another family birthday to celebrate this weekend.

This afternoon Jasper suddenly remembered something he had committed to do, and that requires an old electric guitar. So he talked me into taking him to some thrift stores to see what he could find. (Nothing.) We also stopped at a grocery store to get a few things that Aldi hadn’t had.

One of the things I needed at the grocery store was some graham cracker crumbs so I could make Mercy’s birthday cheesecake. Aldi doesn’t carry them ever, but I was sure I’d find them at the nicest grocery store in town. No. They had none. So instead I got a big box of graham crackers and ground them up myself. But as I was checking out, the clerk asked me if I had found everything I wanted, and I mentioned not being able to find the crumbs. Her question was, “Why didn’t you just get one of those ready-made ones?”

I stared at her, nonplussed because I have never in my life bought a ready-made graham cracker crust. Finally I said, “Because I want to make it myself.”

She shrugged and said, “Well I was worried we might be out of those too.”

I have no idea if they had them or not, since I don’t use them!

The state of my garden: right now flowers are really the stars of the show. I have impatiens and nasturtiums that have been blooming since early spring, and marigolds that have been blooming for months also. I make a point of planting flowers with my vegetables because my garden is in the front yard and I want it to look pretty. Okra is growing taller and still producing despite the fusarium wilt that is creeping up its massive stems. But I think we are nearing the end of the incredible okra bonanza. I’m still getting a few tomatoes and green beans, and Swiss chard and kale are just coming on. I have planted a few fall things and will plant more after we pull out our little okra forest. I also have plenty of basil and oregano, much of which will be going into homemade pizza sauce tomorrow.

Parting Shot:

One of my marigold plants in front of my one remaining green pepper plant.