Are Your Crystals Aligned?

I know that sounds like New-Agey mumbo jumbo, but today I learned differently. I don’t think I’ve mentioned the difficulties my husband has been having lately. When he wakes up and tries to get out of bed in the morning, he is very dizzy and in fact sometimes collapses a time or two before he succeeds in getting upright. We assumed it was an inner ear infection, because he seems to be prone to them—but it didn’t go away after a few days. Then earlier this week he went deaf in one ear.

So he made an appointment with the best ear-nose-and-throat doctor in town, whose wife is an old homeschool friend of mine. The kindhearted doctor came in early this morning to see Walter before his regular appointment schedule started.

Turns out Walter had two different problems. The hearing loss was due to wax buildup, and that was easily solved. The dizziness was due to the crystals in his left ear being out of alignment. I am not making that up. The treatment involved moving his head and body in the “Epley maneuver” and sitting quietly for ten minutes before trying to drive home (I had gone with him just in case). If all went well, his crystals are back in alignment and he just has to be careful the next few days not to jar them. He reports back to the doctor on Monday.

So what did we learn? A. That your ears have crystals in them. B. That the crystals can fall out of alignment. C. That when this happens, it’s very unpleasant and causes dizziness and vertigo. D. That getting your crystals re-aligned is possible and not too complicated. Isn’t life fascinating?

I have bounced from task to task today. I started organizing some of my letter-writing supplies and made 21 new envelopes.

By the way, I have enough notecards to last me for several months, and I continue to write at least one note per day, so if you would like a handwritten note from me, please message me with your address and I will add you to my list!

I did get my walk in today, having had to skip yesterday due to the grill pickup drama. I have not pushed myself with exercise this week as I have learned I am no longer young enough to get away with that when recovering from even something as minor as a head cold.

I have a nest of fire ants in the cement block wall of my main vegetable garden bed and am trying to evict them without damaging my plants. I will let you know if I succeed! And I think the cucumber bonanza is over. There are many baby cucumbers that will never grow up to be picked and eaten because the plants are so ravaged by powdery mildew despite all my efforts, We’ve had cucumber sliced and in salads (including one based on tzatziki sauce) and even cucumber lemonade. I’ll be planting some new cucumber plants this weekend to replace the sick ones eventually.

Also, I’ll try not to talk about it anymore here, but I am writing this month and blogging about it over on my writing blog here:


Just in case you are interested in following my writing adventures!

Donuts All Round!

Once again, I apologize for my unwonted silence. To be perfectly honest, my life is pretty overwhelming right now and I’m running very short on sleep.

On the weekend Lucy played a rugby tournament in Houston with the university team. They lost all their games and she is still sore. She even played part of the game with one shoe off!

Walter and I went to our small group on Sunday and the theme was “international food.” Right up my alley! So we took curry and rice, Greek salad, Scottish shortbread, and French galette des rois. I think all of it was pretty well received.

We dashed home from small group because we had a very important date with Flynn and Tiffany and Paisley! We had to wait over an hour for our video chat as Paisley didn’t get the memo about how she was supposed to be thrilled to see Granny and Opa. When we finally saw her, she slept through the whole thing but of course she was totally adorable while sleeping. What a cutie!

This morning while I was preparing for my class, Jasper strode out into the rain on a mission to get donuts. A new donut shop has finally opened in the place where the old donut shop used to be, and he was raring to try it out. His review was cautiously optimistic. The new owners don’t speak much English and the donuts weren’t quite as tasty, but he certainly won’t be refusing to eat them!

It rained most of the day, but I still made my students go outside for recess because it wasn’t actively raining right at that moment. After lunch I had a tutoring student and then Walter and I drove up to the surgeon’s office. We had to wait a long time and I was so glad I took a book to read, even if it was just for school. After an eternity, we were moved from the waiting room to the frigid examining room. I was very glad I had worn a sweater.

When we finally saw the doctor, he had good news. The incision is healing very well. And the pathology report is good! No cancer in the “margins” they cut and no cancer in the lymph nodes! This is the best news! He still has to go back to the dermatologist and get the rest of his body checked, and will no doubt need annual skin checks for the foreseeable future. But for right now, we’re breathing a HUGE sigh of relief!

You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down

I knew this was going to happen. My husband would have surgery, and he’d be given restrictions, and he’d ignore them. Mary and Lina had arranged to clean the daycare center for him this morning—but somehow he ended up going with them and working with them instead of letting them do everything. He’s supposed to stay away from his regular job for two weeks. We’ll see how that goes . . .

Then he came home and did some chores and started making a picture frame for a piece of art he wants to preserve. There were a couple of times when he bumped his incision and it hurt, but for the most part he carried on like normal.

Jasper had a couple of friends over to practice swordsmanship with, and I took cookies and hot chocolate to them. Mostly I worked on school stuff all day. Mary socialized some but she also had to work, as did Lina.

For supper I made one of Walter’s favorite meals, which also happens to be gluten free (for Mary’s sake). Sammy is here for the first time since before Christmas, and Spencer and Jade came, and of course Lina and Mary and Tanner were also here. It was a very noisy meal.

Afterward we all watched a movie together, during which I got a lot of knitting done. It was so fun to have so much of the family together for the evening. These occasions are now so much rarer than they used to be.

My husband was very happy that he got to take a shower and shave tonight.

Under the Knife

Well, I don’t know about you, but I am glad to see the last of January. Today was a long, long day, starting when the alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. While Walter took his shower, I made two thermoses of tea to take with me to the hospital. Poor Walter of course could not eat or drink anything.

We arrived a few minutes before the appointed time of 6:15, and then began a long series of waits. First the wait to be called back. Then the wait for the doctor to come and give him his radioactive shot. Then more waiting. Then the transfer to the “holding room” on the surgical floor, and a brief visit from the anesthesiologist. More waiting. Walter had to wear a hideous bright yellow gown with red trim. He hated it.

Finally, he was wheeled to surgery a little after noon. I kissed him goodbye and headed to the waiting room. I spent most of the day doing reading for my classes, despite my sleepiness and sore back from the hard chairs. I drank all my tea and finally had to resort to the free coffee offered in the waiting room.

A little over an hour after Walter went into surgery, his doctor called me to say that everything had gone well. We would not, as we had thought, get results of the lymph node biopsy today. That will come some time next week. But meanwhile, the doctor was very positive and wanted to let me know that the surgery had gone well.

I still had to wait another hour before they brought him back down to a room on the ground floor, where he was finally allowed something to drink. I got a look at his incision—at least six inches long and very painful. There is also a two-inch long incision in the armpit where they took the biopsy. My poor husband was quite alarmed when he heard that he couldn’t use deodorant on that side for three weeks!

That last nurse he had was hilarious. A couple of times she addressed Walter as “Burky,” which really cracked me up because my rather formal husband won’t even allow anyone to shorten his name to “Walt.” Best of all, that nurse was sympathetic to our desire to leave, and we were on our way home at about 3:00 p.m. Walter couldn’t wait to get a hot mug of tea and a bite to eat.

I was the one who couldn’t wait to lie down for a few minutes and rest my aching back. Walter was very chipper and chatty, telling the kids all about his adventures and displaying his impressive incision. Lina arrived after 5:00.

Mary took care of supper and I went to the gym for my walk. Most days I enjoy walking at least somewhat, but today was grim. I did not feel like walking. I felt like I was walking in slow motion—and I probably was. But I did it anyway. Hopefully Monday will be better.

I went straight from the gym to Walmart to get some groceries so I don’t have to go in the morning. I am not planning to set an alarm! Walter went to bed about 10:30 I think. I am hoping the pain doesn’t keep him awake in the night. Sometimes it’s hard for him to find a comfortable position.

Thank you to all who prayed for him today. It meant so much to us.

On the Brink

This morning I was busy preparing for Geography class. We were in Southeast Europe today so there was a lot to cover and some delicious Greek food to eat.

Mary arrived this afternoon. And this evening, as we were eating supper, the power went out. And came back on. And went out again. We had this same thing happen on Tuesday, but this time it stayed out for a couple of hours. We had lots of candles lit! I got some knitting done.

I was very glad the power came back on, because I had been in the middle of drying our bedding. Walter’s instructions say he has to sleep on just-washed bedding tonight after showering with special soap—and showering again in the morning!

Not looking forward to getting up at 5:00 a.m. Please pray for us tomorrow (Friday) as my husband goes in for surgery.

A Glimmer of Hope

My husband’s cancer diagnosis isn’t exactly a surprise, given his family history. Both his grandfather and father died of cancer, and his aunt and uncle have both had it too. I knew he was at high risk for skin cancer because he is very fair-skinned and he worked outdoors in the sun for years. In my mind, it was not “if” but “when” he would get it. Somehow, though, that doesn’t make it any easier to accept when it actually happens.

So today my husband received in the mail the actual printed report from the dermatologist about his cancerous mole, and it definitely cleared some things up for us.

When the doctor’s office had called the report in to him, he was working in the garage and had no way of writing anything down. What he heard was “stage IV melanoma.” But looking at the report today, I saw that it actually says “level IV” melanoma, which is a completely different thing. After a few minutes of research, I had a much better idea of what has actually been discovered so far.

Level IV means that the cancer had spread down into the next two layers of skin, but NOT into the fat layer below. The thickness of the tumor was under the size that is usually associated with aggressive spreading, so it is actually unlikely that the melanoma has spread to other parts of his body.

Don’t get me wrong—it’s still cancer and it’s still scary. But after reading the report and looking everything up, I find I can be cautiously optimistic for the time being. He was able to make an appointment for a consultation with the surgeon for next Thursday. Maybe we’ll know more after that appointment, but in the meanwhile the situation doesn’t seem as dire as it did on Monday. I’m so glad he requested to have the report mailed to him!

Today everyone was back at work. Despite being sick for the last week and a half, Walter went to work, and so did Jasper. Lucy was back at her job in the library. And I had to start organizing my papers so I can have some hope of being ready to start teaching next week!

I also made an excursion to JoAnn’s in Tyler to pick up some fabric I ordered. I’m hoping that Saturday will be a big “sewing-for-the-baby” day so I wanted to make sure I had all the materials I might need. And I enjoyed the rainy drive. It wasn’t raining hard at all—just sprinkling.

My Diabetes Miracle #24: A Milestone Journey

I decided I had better write this and get it posted right after my previous post, because I know some people who read that post might worry about me, and they shouldn’t.

If you follow this blog at all, you know that I just returned from a fantastic two-week trip to the United Kingdom, a special milestone birthday gift from my kids. I haven’t posted about my health journey for a while, but I thought it would be appropriate to mention it here in conjunction with the actual physical journey I’ve just taken and the milestones it represents.

Milestone #1 was my flight to London. For the first time in I don’t know how long, I didn’t have to ask for a seatbelt extender. I didn’t overflow my seat or ooze into someone else’s personal space. That was amazing. I always felt so humiliated having to ask for a seatbelt extender. It was just as affirming to have this same experience on my flight back.

Milestone #2 was just the sheer amount of walking I did on my trip. Some days I walked several miles, and although my legs did feel a little tired eventually, I was able to keep going. This is new for me—having a body that can actually do what I want it to. What a concept!

Milestone #3 involved stairs. So. Many. Stairs. Three years ago I would have really struggled even to get into some of my friends’ homes. Not now. Sometimes I find myself dreading stairs out of force of habit, and then I realize—oh, right. I can do stairs now.

Milestone #4 is about photos. If I had taken this trip three years ago, there would be lots of photos of the places I saw, but no photographic evidence that I had been there. I was so ashamed of my looks that I never, ever wanted to be in a photograph. (And people rarely asked me to!) As I begin going through the thousands of photos I took on this trip (yes, thousands!) I am struck by how many photos there are of me. Me in front of cathedrals and doorways and scenic beauty. Me with my wonderful friends. I can say, “Look, that’s me in the library of Sandon Hall,” and prove I was there. This is a huge, huge milestone for me. I don’t fear the camera nearly as much as I used to.

Milestone #5 is about perseverance, about effort, about fighting to achieve a goal. My adventures in getting my big heavy suitcase to Heathrow yesterday were painful and discouraging and exhausting. Yet just as with my health journey, I knew that once I committed to the task, there was no going back, no giving up, no feeling sorry for myself. I had a job to do and I would somehow find a way to do it. And I did find a way, and that is the biggest achievement of all—because three years ago, no matter how determined I was, it simply would not have been possible. I would most likely have had to get a taxi all the way to Heathrow from Euston station, and even then I’m not at all sure I could have succeeded in getting the case from the entrance to the electronic luggage check-in place. So although my body is not capable of doing what it could thirty or forty years ago, it is much more capable of performing various tasks than it was ten or twenty years ago—and that tastes like victory. Bruised toes and bruised hands and aching shoulders seem a small price to pay for that much success—and all those things will heal. The triumph will remain.

Oh, and by the way—I returned home eight pounds lighter than I left!

My Diabetes Miracle #23: A New First

Last Tuesday, as I believe I reported, I had my book club meeting, followed by an open art session in the same location. The book club starts at 3:00 and the art time is scheduled to go as late as 7:30 p.m.

So, during the art time, we three ladies were busy with our painting, and our hostess asked me if I needed some food, because she knew I’d been there since midafternoon. I assured her that I was fine, and explained that I didn’t necessarily eat every day and in fact was currently fasting.

So the other lady piped up and said, “Oh! Is that how you stay so trim?”

Friends—I had a moment there. Never in my entire life has anyone ever described me as “trim.” Not once. Interestingly enough, you don’t tend to get that kind of comment when you are morbidly obese.

Now, I realize that my artist acquaintance was flattering me. I am not yet “trim,” but I’m the trimmest I’ve been in several decades. I’m still getting used to it. In my head, I usually still think of myself as obese. So I was genuinely staggered to hear someone refer to me as “trim.”

This tiny exchange was such a huge boost for me. Especially with Easter coming up, I knew I’d be sorely tempted to stick my toe over the lines I drew for myself two years ago. But I also knew that no treat in the world tastes as good as hearing someone else call me “trim,” let alone feeling so much better and having so much more energy to live my life. I honestly believe that eventually I will be trim for real, and that I’ll be able to stay there—and that is worth all the effort I’ve been putting forth for over two years now.

In the Driver’s Seat—With Bare Feet

Oh glorious day! Today I finally was allowed to remove my classy hospital-issued knee socks:

So elegant! Otherwise known as devil socks. They are very tight compression hose which are really hard to get on. I’ve had to wear them day and night for the last two weeks, except for the brief interludes when I washed them. Today, the two-week anniversary of my surgery, I was allowed to take them off and leave them off. Feels good!

The other thing I was allowed to do today was start driving again. I ran errands! I took Jasper to youth group! If you know me, you know that I am a barefoot driver, so driving today was doubly enjoyable because I didn’t have to wear shoes to protect my stupid socks.

My one big disappointment was going to the gym. I really looked forward to it, changed into my exercise clothes, and drove over there—only to discover that the track was closed today. I hope it’s open tomorrow. My doctor said I can walk as much as I want.

Parting Shot:

Spring is on the way. Our forsythias are leafing out.

In Which I Am Sorry to be Proved Right

Today I slept in successfully. I keep reminding myself that it’s okay to rest because my body really does need it right now. Because I was well-rested, I was up to making a big pan of fried rice for the family to eat for lunch, using up quite a few leftovers in the process. Lina is still sick too, by the way, but today seemed a little better for her.

This afternoon my husband took off work so he could take me to my doctor’s appointment. The upshot was that as I suspected, I have developed an infection at the site of the surgery. Much as I despise seeing doctors, today I was glad for my appointment because I knew if I had an infection it would need to be dealt with. It certainly explains some of the things I’ve been experiencing.

So I am on two different antibiotics for the next two weeks, and I am pre-emptively taking some high-powered probiotics as well. I’m really hoping to feel some improvement as early as tomorrow.

Also, I accidentally forgot to take my pain meds this afternoon. That was a mistake.