Saturday, November 27, 2021

Thanksgiving Eve Fire Video

I recorded my fire the other night and edited it down to a 6 minute video.  A tedious process, but now done so I'm not going to waste it.  Much of the video is from the first part of the night, then I skipped past most of when I was on a video call with my Mom and niece, with an outro of a fire in the dark.  Air traffic was heavier than usual, not surprising with the holiday, and taking off generally south above me.  The sky was very overcast, the temperature surprisingly moderate at about 50ºF when I began at just after 4:00 in the afternoon.  There were lots of sticks that had fallen on the neighbors yards out front that I grabbed and burned up this night.  The extended forecast was much colder so I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

There is a squirrel distraction about 4:45 and plane lights passing through the trees about a minute later.  Otherwise it's just me relaxing, feeding the fire and being lost in my thoughts.  Sit a spell, relax.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving Thoughts 2021

With what I've been going through with my health recently and work frustrations bubbling up again I've been pretty down and maybe even ornery lately.  As I sat out by the fire last night I thought it would be good to think of things I am actually thankful for, so I gave it some serious thought and started a list.  Let's see if I can expand on that this morning and maybe get to 10 good and meaningful things for which I am truly grateful.

  1. My wife.  It's hasn't always been easy but I just can't imagine my life without her.  I don't know anyone stronger who could deal with me and everything else she's had to deal with the last several years and more.  I've been guilty of being self-centered, taking things for granted and not listening as I should, and improving myself will only help her, so I am determined to become a better person.
  2. My health.  I've taken this for granted, too, for far too long and it seems to be catching up to me.  I need to eat better, drink less, exercise more and lose some weight.  Very much easier said than done, but increasing health issues is a good motivator.
  3. Family.  My mother and sister, specifically.  I don't like my father and my brother has been pretty distant.  When my mother's husband passed and then the pandemic hit I started to get closer to my Mom and my sister is always there with a smile and encouraging words if I need her.  I love them both greatly.
  4. Friends.  I don't have many left these days, more acquaintances than friends.  I want to continue to work on those relationships and in some cases not let the distance between us cause that friendship to wane.  It seems harder to make friends the older I get, but much of that may be me so I should work on that more.
  5. Blogger friends.  Delcatto and Blue Witch have been friendly towards me for a long time now and I'm grateful they keep coming back.  I like to read their blogs about them and their lives, and have learned much along the way.  Knowing they are there has helped me try to write better and more interesting things here.  I've not reached out to other bloggers much in a long time now, but Nic has been a relatively recent breath of fresh air and as a bonus he creates music pretty consistently so I always look forward to his next song.
  6. Our house.  When this blog started in 2009 we started looking, and originally didn't think we could afford a house right in Madison.  But the market was in our favor and we found a nice house with a nice yard close to whatever we could need or want, right here in the near east side of Madison.  Yes, it is very small, seemingly too small for us at times, but overall I think we found a good one and have improved it in many ways over the years.
  7. Madison.  Related to the last one, we live in a good area and city with a majority of like-minded people as us.  That changes rather quickly and surprisingly when you get outside the county.  When we traveled to pick up our last quarter cow it was shocking the amount of pro-Trump flags and signs in the rural areas.  I don't remember such divisiveness before he came along and thankfully don't have to worry about that too much here in Madison.
  8. Music.  Music continues to be a joy and an escape for me even as I get older.  I don't go to live shows as much as I used to and am pretty unwilling to travel longer distances for it anymore, but I still enjoy discovering new music and I'm always looking for my next 'latest-greatest,' even if at a lower volume these days. 
Well, 10 was an arbitrary number anyway and I don't want to add something lesser just to get to 10.  I may remember something good that I missed later, but I think I have 8 very good things to be thankful for here and it was good for me to consider and reflect upon these.  Now it's time for me to do some cleanup for Kate's family coming over to celebrate the holiday.  It's currently snowing big white flakes outside, and my wife has been busy cooking up the cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and other goodies while the turkey is already in the oven.

Happy Thanksgiving and a great long weekend to all!

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Health Update and Lactose Intolerance

My wife discovered her lactose intolerance about 7 years ago and has been taking lactaid when she eats dairy ever since.  There had been times when I would complain about something and she would tell me it's possible that I'm becoming lactose intolerant, too.  I'd always just brush it off and never had any real bad problems.  After all, we live Wisconsin, known as the Dairy State, and I really love cheese and ice cream lots and just can't imagine a diet restricted or without dairy.

Yesterday morning I still felt poorly, I had a bit more strength and stamina but not much.  I had arranged to borrow my neighbor Jane's handyman to help me clean out my gutters and rake and mulch my leaves before it gets too cold and/or snowy out, probably doing a little too much myself but it's hard to stand by and watch someone else do your work.  Once done, about 1:00 in the afternoon, I sat down and had some leftover cheese and sausage crackers.  Three of them, to be exact.  That's only 3/4 of a sandwich slice of swiss cheese.  It didn't take long and I was bloated again, feeling as inflated as a Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon.  I was so uncomfortable a cough made my sides hurt.  I had been bloated quite often recently and it was happening again.

Once my wife got home I was discussing it with her and she looked it up, and sure enough the antibiotics can make you temporarily lactose intolerant.  A fact the doctor or anyone else failed to mention when putting me back on a regular diet on Wednesday, still with an IV pumping antibiotics into me.  Hell, I even had pie and small cup of ice cream that day and later complained about being bloated before finally being discharged.  Here at home and as my appetite increased I just ate as normal, bloating on and off and wondering why my movements weren't normalizing.  She convinced me easily and now I'm swearing off dairy at least until I'm off the antibiotics, but this could turn out to be permanent and I'll have to take lactaid when I want dairy forever.

It took 16 hours since that bit of cheese, but this morning I've had so much more 'relief' than I had all week and I'm starting to feel more like myself.  I'm still rather perturbed that I wasn't warned, and I'll be sure to bring it up at my follow-up appointment in a couple days.  I'm sure it tells you this can be a side effect on that full page of small print that comes with the prescription I got after I was discharged, but who reads all that stuff?  I still feel the doctor should have mentioned it when he put me on a regular diet while I was still in the hospital.

So, while that part should be getting better for me now I again woke up with a headache.  I failed to mention this in my last post, but I've had the same migraine on and off since I was in the emergency room last Sunday.  I'd be given different medicines for it in the hospital every day but it would always come back, and it's been a similar pattern since I've been home.  Maybe it's related, not sure, but I really hope it ends soon.  I've also had pretty wacky dreams all week, sometimes waking up panting with my heart beating fast several times a night.  Last night was better so perhaps this is related, too.  But again, I'm not sure.  

I guess all I can hope for is to avoid dairy for the time being and I should continue to improve and these things will work themselves out.  I just want to feel normal again.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Diverticulitis Hospital Stay

Well, I was certainly optimistic in the last post.  I wrote it shortly after settling into my hospital room, still feeling the fentanyl they gave me in the emergency room.  The picture was from the ER and before they hooked up a second IV bag in an attempt to get me rehydrated.  So, nothing much had been happening, now I have something to write about.  Let's start from the beginning...

I felt fine last week, mostly.  Thursday and Friday things that normally happen in the morning happened, but not enough and not well.  Still, I felt normal and figured things would clear out with a little pill to move things along.  Friday evening was the last night I ate food.  Saturday was uncomfortable but still, life goes on and I had things to do and a Badger game on TV so I took another little pill and ran some errands.  I had a bit of time before the game started so I thought taking a walk might help.  I made it around two blocks and was almost doubled over by the time I got back home.  And still, splash mountain had no one riding the ride and my belly hurt even more.  I upped the ante with what I thought would be more effective than the little pill in the afternoon, then again before bed knowing I would be getting up often all night - and I was, just about every hour.  My wife started taking my temperature that afternoon and it fluctuated the rest of the day, between 99.4ºF and 100.8º.  Still, I went to bed hoping to feel better by morning.  In the morning I did not feel better.  I knew I just couldn't take any more of this medicine, I needed outside help but I was unwashed yet so took a very uncomfortable shower and my wife took me to the emergency room.  This was Sunday morning about 11 or so.  

In the emergency room waiting room there were probably about 8 other people, some seemingly okay and others looked like regular visitors, but no one seemed in the distress I was in.  I do know that you can't tell what someone is dealing with just by looking, just sayin'.  Only patients were allowed to wait, any support persons had to wait in their car due to covid so my wife was outside.  After about 15 minutes I was called into a side room where they were taking vitals.  I explained the whole story and she told me it would be a few minutes but they would come and get me, so I waited about 5 minutes in the waiting room again until they called me back.  By this time I couldn't stand straight the pain in my gut was so bad yet I declined the wheelchair and shuffled back to a room where I started to get treatment right away, as hospitals go, anyway.  They put stickers all over my body, gave me an EKG, chest x-ray, and when I asked they called my wife to come back in with me.  Eventually I was wheeled off to have a CAT scan with contrast, ironically in the same room I'd been in twice already this year for my back shots.  When back in the emergency room they put in an IV, then at some point added a second and had them both dumping into my vein at a fast rate.  I was given fentanyl and hooked up to monitors, something they have to do when giving fentanyl I was told, but I asked them to not give me dilaudid as I've needed heavy duty pain killers enough in the past to know it makes me sick.  My Mom texted me about the upcoming Packer game, I texted back for her to cheer for me because I may have to miss it.  A nurse came in and said it looked like they would be keeping me so she had to give me a covid test, the long swab that goes so deep in your sinus it tickles your brain stem.  I found out later it was negative, of course.  Then it was just waiting for a room assignment.

I was finally wheeled off to my room, in time to uncomfortably watch most of the second half of the Packers game.  Well, I was going to feel the same if the game was on or not.  Once I was settled my wife left and I kind of watched the game, and waited.  I couldn't call my Mom, I would have broken down, so I decided to post here about it from my phone.  (I actually had planned a different post about the first snows as I normally note it on the blog every year, but this would have to do.)  Then I texted my Mom to check the blog and told her I would call her the next day.

Then it was Monday and I was in the hospital and I had just been terribly miserable since the fentanyl wore off the prior day.  I had been given morphine as a painkiller since, which didn't make a dent, along with anti-nausea and various other drugs and IVs.  My IV tree had really grown.  I was not allowed food at all but I had no appetite, just ice chips now and again.  This day is kind of a blur, but I remember not sleeping well and having people come in and out, poking, prodding, asking questions, drawing blood, and you name it.  And the damn IV kept beeping so I had to keep calling the nurse in, a new one every few hours it seemed.  Some I saw lots, others I may not have seen at all.  I do remember a brief period of feeling relatively okay and sitting in the chair for a while, otherwise it was miserableness and beeping and getting up often to drag my IV tree into the bathroom with me.  I was feeling pretty icky unclean by this point.  My wife came in the morning and brought me some things to clean up and underclothes, which I greatly appreciated.  I tried to give myself a quick clean-up, but it was difficult.  I remember when I was admitted that they said they would keep me until at least Tuesday, so I was looking forward to that.

Tuesday I felt a bit better and the doctor said he did see improvement, but I knew I wasn't near well yet so I didn't put up much resistance later in the day to having to stay another day.  All this time they had multiple IVs pumping into me; saline, antibiotics and potassium.  I remember early morning still feeling so dehydrated, and when I pinched my knuckle or back of my hand it kept it's shape long enough to indicate I was needing more fluids.  When I discussed with the doctor he agreed and increased my IV rate from 125 ml to 175 ml, and put me on a clear liquid diet.  I was able to get water, juice and jello now to go along with my ice chips.  I was making progress, feeling a bit better though I felt filthier.  I wound up taking two walks around the floor that day to get moving, totaling 52 minutes of active time per my Fitbit, though I'm sure some of that active time was coming down from walking as well.  I also tried to clean myself up more, but my hair was still filthy so I wore a cap.  The best thing that happened this day was that one smart nurse flushed my IV (she said it did feel as if there was a little clot in the end, put a tight roll of gauze in my elbow and covered it with a cotton mesh sheath to hold it all in place.  The damn IV that beeped if you looked at it cross-eyed the last two days finally worked as it should.  My lovely wife brought more supplies and stayed with me for some time.  Also, I had been texting with my Mom so she didn't feel she had to come up and visit, I wasn't very good company anyway.

Wednesday I felt considerably better than I had.  Certainly not healthy but hopefully healthy enough to go home.  By this point I was utterly exhausted from uncomfortable sleep when I did sleep, and nurses coming in and out at all hours giving me pills, changing IV's, drawing blood, etc.  I saw the doctor early and he was encouraged, upgrading me to a normal diet so I ordered hash browns, one scrambled egg and an english muffin.  Food that I thought would be bland enough to start my system with again.  By mid-morning I could no longer stand the filth.  I rang the nurse and asked for towels and shampoo and new gown and bedding.  I didn't think I was allowed to shower due to the IV, but she taped a sleeve over the area and let me do it.  Man, I wish I had done that sooner as I felt so much better.  They don't make any effort to keep you clean in there, it's up to you.  I took another walk around the floor and waited, hoping I would be let out that day.  On my walk I saw the doctor, he told me he was going to check my blood potassium levels again and a get a stool sample for bacteria shortly.  Sure enough, someone was there to get my blood at the designated time and I ordered a piece of cherry pie and some ice cream to help get things moving for the other sample.  That afternoon I was allowed to be discharged as the sample came back good and my potassium had risen, though not enough but I would get pills to take when I got home.  By last night I was finally home, but it is still apparent I have much more healing to do.  Any kind of shape or conditioning I had has left me as I huff and puff over the smallest tasks now and still feel very weak, but I did go four and a half days without food.

That's my memories of the last few days as I remember them at this moment.  I did take some pictures when I was feeling up to it, but not many.  I'll throw some in here, I think, but this is long so I'm not going to proofread, just put it out there.

The takeaways?  Diverticulitis is highly uncomfortable and can be scary considering your colon has a perforation.  I have a wonderful and patient wife.  And people in the hospital are filthy.  Now I must rest, take my pills and get something to eat.  Please stay well, folks.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Snows 1, 2 & 3 And Other Unpleasantness

 We got our first dusting of snow for the season on Thursday but I was working so didn't get a picture. More snow last night and then some more today, but it's all gone by now.

In other news, I wound up in the hospital again.  Diverticulitis is the diagnosis after an afternoon of tests.  I shouldn't need surgery, but I have to hang out here with no food or water until at least Tuesday, sounds like.  IV's and antibiotics, and maybe a few ice chips is all I can have for now.

I'll write more later, I'm doing this on my phone right now, which is proving difficult.  Please don't worry, I should be good to go soon.

Monday, November 1, 2021

Happy Halloween 2021

We weren't quite sure what to expect for trick-or-treaters last night.  Last year I hung a sign for covid, but I didn't hear much about it this year so I assumed everything was going to be normal.  And it seemed to be, except we got fewer kids coming by the house.  About 25 or so little monsters, pirates, princesses and bumble bees, and they all got a great big handful of candy since I could tell it was going to be slower this year.  I enjoy answering the door and have worn a Halloween mask for the last several years (but for last).  And again I put up the mummy in the corner windows.

But by far the biggest hit of the night was the mask I wore, parents and kids alike laughed and commented on it.  First off, I felt better answering the door wearing a mask, just the new normal now.  This one has an LED light display that can show several different colors and patterns, but the most entertaining is the green smiley mouth.  It's voice activated so changes up to a big O shape so when you talk it moves to match your voice.  Very entertaining for Halloween, though I bought as a goof on Amazin' sometime since last year as maybe something funny to wear into the office when I had to go in, or some other stupid reason.  Regardless, it was certainly a hit last night.

I hope everyone enjoyed their Halloween!

Saturday, October 23, 2021

October This-And-Thats*

Looks like I haven't done one of these posts since May, and I've not written a lot recently so I must have something to say.  Yes, it's time again to start typing and see what happens!

  • First, Feedburner said the blog mails would end in July.  Then they said August.  Now, here it is nearing the end of October and the emails are still going out.  I'm certainly not complaining, but there has been nothing posted about it that I've found since they said August.  A change of plans, perhaps, I guess time will tell.
  • While our fall has been warmer than normal so far, we have become more seasonable recently.  We normally get our first frost about October 7 and this year we got our first frost and freeze the other day, on Thursday night/Friday morning.  It all goes downhill from here now until we come out the other side in several months time.  Yes, I complain but I don't move away.  It's another Wisconsin pastime, kind of like last post and probably a big reason for it!  Well, at least there's no snow in the forecast yet.
  • Last weekend we did some yardwork and got the gardens ready for winter.  The back left garden has been fully planted with garlic.  The back right garden with the monster herb plant that the name escapes me now has the rest of the area planted with just an odd collection of bulbs that we had stored downstairs from planting and replanting things in the flower beds.  It will be interesting to see what comes up in spring; certainly some tulips, daffodil and hyacinth are possible, and who knows what else.  You can see here if you look close that the squirrels already dug one big bulb up.  That's also why we have that old makeshift cover over the garlic.  Then the strawberry and raspberry plants have been cleaned up and straw put down for winter.  All the compost soil has been emptied from the left side of the compost bin into the gardens while the right side fills up with yard waste.  Shredded paper to cover it all and the bottom of the empty side, we'll start using the left side only soon and let the right side break down to go into the gardens next fall.  The compost bin is one of my favorite things I ever built.
  • I've not been walking as much recently, not because I don't want to walk but my knee has been acting up.  The right one, the one that I busted up the femur there back in 2010.  Perhaps it's the change in weather, but I don't remember this from recent years.  Not painful so much as uncomfortable as the patellar tendon seems tight and aggravated.  Hopefully nothing comes of it and I can continue my walks soon.
  • My mouse broke yesterday, thankfully it waited until after I was done working.  The scroll wheel started making noise so after work I ordered another one, the mouse must have noticed and shortly after gave up the ghost.  I have the same mouse but wireless that I'm using now, but it's not as responsive and is currently driving me a little batty so I hope the new one arrives early, it's currently scheduled for Tuesday.  Come on, Amazin' Prime!
  • Speaking of work, we are now required to be fully vaccinated by a date in December.  President Biden's executive order for government contractors.  That would be us, and it includes fully remote workers as well as those who go into the office.  I've already provided my proof of vaccination, and really no bother to me as I've been vaccinated for quite some time.  There are others I know of who are not, though, so it will be interesting to see what happens and who believes in not getting it so much that they lose their job.  
  • I might give the impression that I color my fires more than I actually do.  Normally I save the color for when we have people over, but sometimes I do add it just for myself.  I'm thinking I may have one tonight, after the Wisconsin football game so I'd be out there just a bit before sunset.  It will be chilly with temperatures in the mid-40's F and falling, and I'm not sure I'm quite acclimated to these temperatures yet.
  • Speaking of the football game, I like to have a special football snack for games.  It can be almost anything, but today I'll be trying a recipe that I found.  Well, I'm not going to exactly follow the recipe, it will be my take on it.  Dill pickle, ranch and bacon pizza!  Sounds good to me, but disgusting to my wife.  We'll see how it turns out, but I have high hopes.
  • I've taken a few pictures of neighborhood Halloween decorations when I have walked, but I feel kind of funny taking pictures of other people's houses, so I haven't got much.  There is one house that beats all the others, hands down.  It's dark and with a steep pitched roof so looks like a good fit for Halloween even without decorations, but their display is pretty impressive.  Not everything even fits in one shot unless I'm pretty far back.  I am impressed, and I'll have to make it back after dark some night because I know they have lights for it, too.
Okay, this wireless mouse is really driving me nuts.  I may have to get out the tiny cheap one that comes with the computer, at least before work on Monday.  I thought a mouse pad would help, but not really.

Well, there's football to watch and pizza to prepare so that's enough writing for now.  Hope everyone is enjoying your weekend, I'll let you know how the pickle pizza turned out!  Maybe I'll add a picture later, if it was as good as I expect...

*Updated after the game.  Pickle pizza pictures (say that several times fast) after the break!

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Best Place To Drink?

Just a couple recent articles that I found interesting enough to share.  

Madison has often been near or at the top of many 'best places to live' lists in the last couple decades, and finds itself number one once again.  This time Livability dot com conducted a survey of small and mid-size American cities and Madison came out on top after apparently coming in third last year.  Not a whole lot to hang your hat on, but a nice feather for it.  See the article and link here.

Also, another recent survey by 24/7 Wall St. on drinking shows that Wisconsin has the top 11 'drunkest' counties, and a whopping 41 of the top 50.  This is out of 3,143 counties in the U.S.  By their definition, I am a heavy drinker.  No surprise.  My county of  Dane is number 25 on that list.  Again, out of over three thousand U.S. counties! See that article and link here.

I'll drink to that - - Cheers, Madison!