Thursday, November 30, 2006

BRRRRRRRRRR



It was so nice the last few days. It was warm, sunny and my tomatoes were putting on blossoms and tiny fruit.

I fear most will be lost... alas. I usually like blue northers, cold fronts that drop the temp so quickly you can see the thermometer shiver, and come with great huge masses of blue clouds big enough to swallow a city without a burp. I just prefer them in late Summer, early Fall, when I know the temps will go from say..........95% to 60% in a half hour. They often come equipped with nice rumbly thunderstorms, but move so quickly that the storm is over in minutes.

This one came in like a slob. It was more like a sulky temper tantrum, dropping sloppy rain and a few tree shaking bursts of winds. Not even a decent rumble of thunder.

Yesterday 'Pup and I were able to cover most of the potted plants that are most cold-tender. I'd have liked to have had more leaves to cover some of the in ground plants, but most of the roots have a nice blankey of leaves around them. I tried to help, but 'Pup ended up having to do the lion's share of the work. I am just NOT back to normal yet. I get tired easily. It's very frustrating, annoying and a little scary. I will get my strength back and I will be able to be more active. It's just going to take a while. My mom reminded me today (phone call) that I'd been pretty sick...I think I may have been sicker than I really felt. Other than the breathing problems, some pain (a piffle compared to some I've had, really) and being tired, I felt almost guilty in the hospital. I'm a believer now. I'll be good, I promise.

We covered the pond as well, making it a little hard to feed the fish, but I think they'll be happier with some warmth. They got the clear plastic, so light can get in and provide a little warmth to be absorbed. The other two areas we covered have blue tarps over them and we may have to go outside and let some light in during the day.

You'll note, I hope that I still have a bazillion and 4 tadpoles.

Some years we go through a whole winter without more than a scattered day or two of brisk weather. Two years ago, we had snow at Christmas. Planting what should be spring crops (or at least cool weather prefering) is a risk, but can pay off nicely. I think the lettuce and the little carrots will be fine. We covered them completely with leaves. The sugar snap pea vines, who haven't been growing as fast as I'd wanted anyway might or might not make it tonight. It's supposed to get down a little past freezing.

I know my roses will be okay. They might lose some leaves, but the roots are deep and should be just fine. I cut a bouquet of some of the most open of blooms and brought them to work. Makes a pretty bouquet, if I do say so. The white mandavilla I'll have to cross my fingers over. it was growing too high to cover, and so we left it to (hopefully) go dormant.

The Mexican Heather bushes were blooming fiercely and the bees were buzzing busily to get the last drops of nectar that they'll be seeing for a while. I wonder where the hive is? It's not anywhere on my property. Often the bees will make a hive in the outside wall of a house. Sometimes those hives aren't found until a considerable amount of damage occurs. That's why I ask people like the guys who came to inspect the furnace in the attic to look around and listen up there. I also make sure to visually scan different parts of the house near the roof.
The lavender lantana is going to be marvelous this spring.

'Pup's lost enough weight now that he needs another new set of clothing. Almost everything he owned was too big for him. He can still wear the shirts we've been buying, and some of the pants can be taken in, so he's now got a better wardrobe than he's ever had since I've known him. He cleans up good too.

I got a compliment today as well. While we were shopping for the new clothes for 'Pup, I got a nice warm hat and some earmuffs and some gloves. When I got to work this afternoon, I was carrying the roses. My boss actually said that I looked lovely. Nice man...lol I'm going to pretend it was me... and the effect of the roses... I like compliments.

Y'all stay warm and safe.

Yikes! Y'all go over and visit Ksquest. Her dear love Walter has had a heart attack and is going to be having a double by-pass. He's a long range Trucker, and a long way from home in Indiana. Kmom and dad will be traveling there to watch over him, and all Ks can do is worry in long distance.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Breathing

Breathing. It's an under rated activity. Really. It's way cooler than you'd think, since you don't usually have to THINK to breathe. Unless you're me. Then you start thinking about it way too much.

It's getting easier. I've progressed from 4 breathing treatments a day to a couple of puffs of the albuterol. That's an improvement.

I went back to work Monday. It was good to be there, and it was nice to have the kids indignantly ask where I'd been. They missed me. The little darlin's.

Tomorrow, 'Pup and I are going to set up the areas of the yard that may have to be protected by Thursday night or Friday morning. There is a blue norther comin' down and it looks like our 80 degree days are over for a little while. I'll take pictures of what's still blooming and show the before and after.

I've got lots of roses still going strong. In fact, every bush I have is still in bloom. I've got yellow, orange, pink, fushia, red and white and then, the peace bush. Over the last few weeks I've been slowly pruning back the pink rose by the front door. It needed thinning in the middle and it was spreading too wide to make it easy to pass by without it reaching for you. I mean, I like roses...but I don't really want one to grab my elbow every time I pass by.

I'm a week behind thanks to the week in the hospital. The leaves are piling up and we're going to try to rake them as best we can. I use the leaves to help protect some of the more tropical plants I've got in the ground. Usually, they do a good enough job that even when I lose leaves, the roots still have enough vigor to put out new shoots as soon as it warms up again.

I would like to protect the tomatoes, I'd hate to lose my two year old tomato plant now. I wanna see if it'll set fruit again this spring. I wonder what the record is for a tomato of advanced age?

One of the plans is to make a large protected area around the pond. Wednesday it's going to be nice and warm (today it was 82 here at the house) and I want the residual heat in the water and the surrounding rocks to keep things at a fairly tolerable level for the fish. As far as I can tell, most of them are still alive, hiding under the duckweed and lilly pads. I did lose one of my bottom feeding "catfish" the other day. Why? I don't know. I started out with four. One washed overboard in a very heavy rain a couple of months ago, and now the latest demise brings me down to two. Two is probably as many as I really need for the 50 gallon pond, so as long as I don't lose any more, I'll be happy.

We'll use some fencing to hold up the plastic drop cloth over the leaves, and make sure to open a vent to let any excess heat out. Not that excess heat should be a problem for plants who loved the 100 degree and 100 percent humidity we had late in the summer.

When my REALLY BIG split leaved philodendron was only three feet high, I used to tuck some plants under the leaves and cover it with a blanket. Now? I don't think I have a large enough blanket. The dang plant is over 5 and 1/2 feet tall and about 6 feet in diameter. I don't think a little cold weather's going to inconvience it. I'll be stashing lots of leaves under it, and probably some of the pots in the sideyard as well. That should keep the roots warm, and when the leaf mulch decomposes, I won't have to feed the plant. Come to think of it, I can't remember the last time I fed that lovely beast. The leaf mulch seems to be all it needs.

It should be easier to get the leaves to decompose now that we have a lawn mower. We'll rake the leaves and run over them with the mower and collect the chopped up leaves in the bag. Then we can pour the leaves exactally where we want them.

Okay, it's already Wednesday morning, so I'd best go back to bed and try to sleep.

Y'all keep warm.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Psst--- I've escaped.....

First, a heartfelt and sincere thank you to those who sent me encouraging emails and comments and to those of you who didn't comment but included me in your prayers. It is an amazing community of bloggers I've been fortunate enough to come to know.

The doctor sent me home from the hospital this evening. He even said I can go to a nearby sister's house for Thanksgiving dinner. These are good things.

I still have to "take it easy" (which may mean something different to different people and thus may occasion a spirited conversation or two, or three).

The staff at the hospital are very good people. Houston is fortunate to be the "home" of several very good hospital groups. The "big guns" are concentrated in the downtown area, called (and quite aptly)"The Medical Center". I was in one of the affiliated hospitals in Katy Texas... the Katy Memorial Herman. They're about to move into a brand new HUGE (well for a suburb huge) new hospital next month. Now, while I'm glad the hospital is going to be there??? I hope I don't get to stay there. I said so to several of the nurses and they told me they didn't want to see me there either. Nice people.

I was lucky and blessed to have been diagnosed with the pulmonary embolism. Lucky how you ask? Well. Let me lay out the steps for you that brought me to the hospital room.

My left leg's been numb-er than usual for the past couple of weeks. We chalked it down to the radicular neuropathy, and as there's no particularly effective treatment, didn't address it at once. Then I fainted and had trouble breathing. Well, I've got asthma and allergies to stuff that grows north west of here and a good cold front usually makes me wheeze a bit. I used my nebulizer and it did help a bit. The fainting was a little more problematical, and the doctor was afraid that I might have a problem with my heart, so scheduled some tests, and I was to come back on Friday to discuss the results.

Meanwhile, I.....uhmm........had tummy troubles. Livey's described similar troubles, and as she's a little more colorful writer, I'll let you remember some of her past posts. This happens to me every once in a while and it, too, is affected by the radiculopathy (nerve damage). Things get....hung up for a while. This problem caused me to have some very bad cramping pains, and I was still coughing and having trouble breathing and there were some more chest area pains.

The doc examined me last Friday, and decided that it might very well be my gall bladder, as there is a family history factor. When he told me I was going to have to go to the hospital right now, and that I would perhaps have to have surgery to remove my gall bladder, I cried. I had to go to work, I said. I LIKE going to work, I said. My boss really needs ME, I said. My doc is from South Africa. His parents moved to South Africa from China to be missionaries there. He's a little short in height, but his personality is about 9 feet tall and he breathes fire when needs be. And, in his opinion, that's any time one of his patients isn't getting the very best of care. He doesn't usually yell, but he makes the place downright warm and there is the occasional scent of scorched PA's who don't take good notes or listen carefully to his instructions.

As he left to go call the hospital and procure me a room, his nurse was comforting me. I apologized for crying. She said not to worry about it, a lot of people cried in this office. "I know," I wailed, "but most of them work here".

Oh, yah, she laughed.

So, as it had happened, we'd had an 11 am appointment. I hadn't eaten yet that day, as my stomache was hurting too bad for me to want to eat. The doc said something along the lines of that normally not being a good thing, as diabetics should eat regularly, but in this case it was perhaps just as well.

Off to the hospital we went. I'd not exactally prepared anything for such a trip and, to be honest, I was dressed more for comfort than looks. We live 15 miles from the doc's office and in the opposite direction of the hospital.

Later on, I sent 'Pup to Wal-Mart. One of the items I told him to purchase I had to write down for him. After wandering confused in the approximate area of the store I'd sent him to and noting that even the specific directions I'd given him still left a lot of room for decisions to be made, he cornered.. er requested assistance from.. an associate. A lady associate. He just held up the paper with the list, she escorted him to the required items, helped him pick them out and said that he was a very good husband. (Come to think of it, ladies undergarments are a bit overwhelming if one does not have some experience there.)

We got to the hospital and settled in to the room. Then, the blood tests began. The first afternoon I was there they took 8 or 9 vials of blood for tests, I had an abdominal ultra sound and a heart ultra sound. And I was hooked up to a bag of fluids and told not to eat or drink, as I was probably going to be in surgery the next morning.

The tests came back later that evening. The tests were inconclusive. They'd not found any gallstones, but couldn't rule them out because I am...uhmm...well..I prefer to call myself "well rounded". The round part makes getting a good ultra sound difficult. So, they scheduled me for a CAT scan. And they drew 11 more vials of blood. Yes, I said eleven.

The next morning, they looked at the test results and realized that while my gallbladder wasn't working as well as it should, that what they saw from the CAT scan was a pulmonary embolism. Next thing I knew an oxygen tube was being wrapped around my face and another IV line was being put into my right arm. And the nice lady who'd done my abdominal and cardiac ultra sounds had brought up the machine to my room and was doing an ultra sound on both legs.

My good doc came later and told me what was going on. I was scheduled for another scan, this one using a radioactive isotope and a very large machine. The surgeon came to "explain" it to me. He told me that they would be injecting some dye into my arm, but it wasn't really a dye, and that then I would be laying down and they would take pictures of me. I felt like biting the patronizing twit. Some of that must have shown on my face as he stepped back and suddenly had to leave.

They came for me at 11 am. I had to hold myself as still as possible for 2 hours. It ended up taking 3 hours. I think I may have slept through some of it as it didn't seem that long. I wasn't comfortable enough to sleep, but I can go into my head and think very hard about other things, and the time passed. I was brought back to the room and allowed only the "clear fluids", as they weren't sure that they might not have to still perform some form of surgery.

All the while... my tummy hurt. A lot. So the surgeon (that twit) who would have done the gall bladder surgery decided I needed a little chemical help to...uhmm... resolve the difficulty. I really hate the taste of magnesium citrate, but I was a good girl and chugged it down.

It's really the only way to get it down... before you can taste it. One of the nurses asked what it tasted like. I told her. It tastes rather like semi flat diet sprite with extra syrup, and then liberally salted. If it is gulped ice cold, then you can get through it only gagging a little. Sipping it? Feh. Uh uh, nooooo, not going to happen. So, down it went. Through a straw and taking as large gulps as possible I managed to get most of the first bottle down in four large chugs.

In retrospect this might not have been the wisest thing to do, 'cause shortly thereafter things started to rumble, cramp and hurtverymuchmakeitstopdangit!! The nurse brought over a bedside toilet as it was plain I wasn't going to make it to the bathroom, and even if I had, there wasn't enough room there for the nurse to monitor me. I had a feeling this wasn't going to be fun, and I was right.

Then, my roomie's son came to visit. And stayed. And stayed. All the while, I was not a happy camper, and was straining and moaning and hurting something fierce. I kept wishing he would get the heck out of the room so I could at least have some last, tenuous grasp on my dignity. He stayed right to the very end. And the end...wasn't pleasant. Serves him right for sticking around so long.

From then on, I was jet propelled. I finally had the privacy to make it to the bathroom and made several trips there through out the night. And I still couldn't have anything to drink.

On Sunday, the surgeon finally gave up on my gall bladder. It wasn't functioning, and someday it will have to come out, but the heparine drip made surgery an unwise proposition. They finally allowed me to eat...a clear liquid diet. Broth, (nasty, but warm and wet), lime jello, and a cup of grape juice and one of apple juice. Y'all. Apple juice, orange juice and grape juice are things a diabetic simply can NOT have even singly. In conjunction with one another, they'd have spiked my blood sugar and then dropped me like a stone.

The next morning, they tried again. I sent the juices back again, and was firm when telling the nursing staff WHY I couldn't have the juice. This was to set a pattern. Grumble grumble. I kept having to send the trays back half uneaten. Then they stopped allowing any salt. Y'all. My usual BP is about 117/70. It was even lower with me being in bed. Why I was on sodium restriction I couldn't figure out.

When I wrote a note on my lunch tray on Monday (I'd graduated to a 1600 calorie ADA/cardiac diet), the dietician came to see me, apparently ready to educate me on the proper diabetic diet. After a little discussion, she agreed to have another "meat" on my plate, and less carbs. This only half happened. Sigh. The nurses kept marveling at how low my blood sugar levels were without insulin or any other meds. Not eating has a way of doing that. My roomie, an older woman, always seemed to have very high readings. No wonder, as she was eating all of the food sent up.

Lovely lady, my roomie. She was a little confused while I was there. All the while, the nurses and doctors and therapists would come in and assess her cognitively. One question came up again and again. "Do you know what the date is?" One time, she answered 1996. The doctor gently corrected her and told her that it was actually 2006. My dear roomie said, "Well. No wonder I'm so tired, traveling all that time at once." I wish I could have seen her doctor's face.

Meanwhile, they kept drawing more blood for tests, 'till finally they were down to one at a time to test the INR (how quickly/slowly my blood would clot). They also started me on coumadin. I'm not an easy person to establish an IV on, nor is it easy to find a good spot to draw enough blood. I have very colorful arms right now.

It seems I have a genetic predisposition to clot quickly. This hasn't been a problem, as I'm usually a fairly active person. Lately, with the pain? Not so much. So the clot happened.

All in all, I was lucky. My embolisms were small, and things hadn't progressed too far. It's too early to tell for sure, but I am afraid I may have lost a little of my lung capacity. On the other hand, I'm alive.

And that's a good thing.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Why She's So Special

This email exchange says it all. Here she is, in the hospital barely escaping death and she is worried about everyone and everything else.

Livey wrote:
Tell 'Pup I'm counting on him to sit on you if you overdo it!
Love ya!

Nancy France wrote:
'Pup said that he will indeed force me to rest. I may get to go have Thanks giving dinner with my family. Whether or not we get to drive all the way to Austin is the question. I hope so 'cause 'Pup's parents live there and they've not seen him since he's lost so much weight.

If not..well we have an already cooked turkey we got a part of a "meal deal" at a grocery store. We bought the turkey and they threw in some potato salad and salad dressing in for free along with some bread so we've still got a turkey dinner ready.
I am really ready to get back home as I would like to spend some nice weather in the back yard while the weather is so nice. I don't think Pup's been watering back there. No worries: that is a chore that I usually do sitting down anyway.
'Pup says the dog has been missing me. He keeps whining and looking for me. The cat misses me so much that she even let 'Pup pet her...and even put her paw out and grabbed his hand when he tried to leave before SHE was finished.

It is nice to be missed..lol.
Livey, please let everyone know that I appreciate the warm thoughts, good wishes and prayers. I'll be writing thankyous when I get to a real computer.

Take care, be well.

Livey wrote:
Awww you guys are just so damn sweet! All of you! I worry about you overextending yourself going anywhere too soon. I would feel better if you just stayed home this year so there is a next year for you!

Nancy France wrote: did K get her scooter yet?

Another Update

We have ESP! Just as I was calling Miss Nancy, she was sending me an IM on Yahoo Messenger. I got it just as she picked up the phone. How cool is that! Even cooler is the news she gave me!

The docs feel they have given her enough Heparin and Coumadin that they can let her go home tomorrow! If she promises to take it easy. As she's telling me that she wants to travel all over Texas to see the family for Thanksgiving.

She said they have taken 18 pints of blood out of her and testing for everything there is. Except anemia, which she undoubtedly has by now.

We didn't get to chat long because the nurse came in to take out her IV. She has recieved all the emails of comments here and says thank you to ya'll. Thanks for all your prayers and well wishes. I do believe they have really helped!

Livey

Monday, November 20, 2006

Update On Miss Nancy

I haven't been able to get in touch with our Miss Nancy today. The phone is busy every time I call. But I gave the phone number to k and she talked to Miss Nancy today. You can read all about it here.
K was worried that Nancy would get a huge bill from her cell phone for getting too many emails on it, but Miss Nancy assured her it was all free.

So please ya'll (trying to get that Southern thang in here somewhere ;) bare with me I'm a yankee after all!) feel free to directly email your good wishes to Miss Nancy at mrsfrance@gmail.com.

I will try to keep ya'll updated. If I ever get through to her!

Livey

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Please Pray

Hi folks, Livey here. The wonderful Miss Nancy gave me her blog keys so I could let ya'll know what's going on. Miss Nancy is in the hospital. She went to the doctor on Thursday with chest pain. The gall bladder was the first suspect.

After many tests, ultrasounds and cat scans, it was determined Miss Nancy had a pulmonary embolism. She is on oxygen and IV Heparin.

She is in very good spirits. Our Miss Nancy is quite the trooper. She said the staff at Hermann Memorial Hospital in Katy Texas are absolutely wonderful and taking very good care of her.

She has been texting via cell phone and trying to keep up with what's going on around the world. Pup is with her. I have a feeling the two of them are giving the hospital quite a run.

Miss Nancy is such an amazing woman. She was more worried about missing work and gardening time than her health issues.

Please say a prayer for our gal? Thanks.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006

You Know, there are just ..SOME DAYS

Hi,

Uhmm I'm not dead yet, though I've not been feeling as well as I'd like.

I've been taken off of two medications that were helping with nerve pain. Now, I don't know if what I'm feeling is the withdrawal, or what's been masked by these meds for the last couple/three years.

I've got a leg that seriously feels as if it is "asleep", and just beginning the prickly numb feelings you get as it "wakes up". This has been going on for 5 days. I don't like this feeling.

An odd thing happened to me as 'Pup and I were eating lunch (courtesy of my boss) at a local Jason's Deli. They've got a salad bar that we both like. Not to mention chocolate and banana pudding.

I decided to avail myself of the facilities. I like the facilities at this Jason's. Very clean, never smells of anything but fresh air and soap.

As I was sitting, contemplating my shoes and the numb foot, another person came in. Came in briskly and soon occupied the stall next to me. When I heard this person...spit! Into the toilet. Now, for you gents out there? Women don't spit like that unless they're about to get nastily sick. I braced myself for what was to follow. I mean, what DOES one do in such a situation? Offer help? Ignore stoically?

Humm. No wretching sounds. Okay.

Sound of a zipper. Okay

Person had yet to sit down. Ohhhkaaay.

Person's shoes were pointing TOWARDS the toilet. I began to get the feeling that this might be even worse than throwing up.

Then, I heard the sound of a steady stream of what must be urine hitting the bowl From rather high in the air. As if the person didn't need to sit. down. to. pee.

At this point I became even quieter than I'd been before. 'Cause ya'll. Unisex bathrooms do not exist at a Jason's Deli.

I waited for the person to finish. He did wash his hands, I'll give him that.

I sat for a while, giving the person a nice loooong time to get as far away from the door to the lady's room as possible. And yes, as I came out I did stop to verify that I was in the correct gender's assigned facility. After washing my hands.

When I came out and sat next to 'Pup I told him what had happened. I don't think I've ever seen quite that look on his face before. I suspect mine was looking a bit bemused as well.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Ups 'n' Downs

The ups? Got this in my email box yesterday.


Nancy,
I'm the interactive journalism editor at the Houston Chronicle's Website, chron.com. We've been letting readers set up blogs on our site for some time, and one of them is a gardening blog, Greenspace(http://blogs.chron.com/greenspace) ... The life situation of the bloggers there have changed and we're looking for a new garden blogger.Would you be interested in writing about gardening on the Chronicle's site?

Dwight Silverman The Houston Chronicle
blogs.chron.com/techblog www.chron.com

I said yes, of course.

I'm hoping I wasn't one of many he offered this too, and I was the last to respond....

The downs?

Well, I fainted. Twice.

I've been having trouble breathing lately. I think I'm allergic to cold fronts, dry air and chilly temperatures. It was only 42 degrees here this morning!

Anyway. Both times I'd been walking (not that far, but too far it seems) and felt bad and felt like I couldn't breathe. The first time I made it to a chair in the living room, so it was a nice soft slither down to the floor. The second time, we were walking up to go vote early (after calling my doc to say that I'd fainted and probably needed to come in) and I made it to a bench, with 'Pup sitting next to me... I kinda faded out for a moment.

Why yes, of course, we went ahead and voted. Some things one just doesn't put off until later. The doctor couldn't see me until noon and it was only 10 am, we were already there...

Oh, and here are some pictures I keep promising.



This is that new raised bed. Also in this picture is my most used and invaluable gardening tool. No, not a trowel, nor the two wheeler you can almost see to the left. Nor is it Ms. Pretty Kitty Lady SpitFire. Nor is it the hose or the nice short handled shovel.. though you're close.

It's the stool. I can sit on the stool and do almost anything. I wish school districts felt that way.

The back of the raised bed is missing some pickets. We didn't have quite enough of the picket fencing to go all the way 'round where we wanted it to go. After the peas I planted in there have come up (if they do), then no one will be able to spot the gap. I hope.
Lady SpitFire reminds me that she can see the gap. She sees all.

This is the bed I planted with carrots and lettuce. I need to thin the carrots soon I suppose. The lettuce is in the middle and has a bit to go before we can chomp away.

And the geriatric tomato plant is still growin' strong. It even has a little tomato on it. We're supposed to get back up into 70's for highs next week, and Lord only knows what it will be the following week..........so, I don't really expect a crop..lol I do have some plants that grew from seed from the tomato variety that claimed to be a Texas native (or nativised?) variety. It had set many tiny but very tasty tomatoes. I hope they will live and grow to produce early in the Spring...around February/March.



White Mandavilla in the sunshine, along with the vinca on the bottom and a basket with prostrate rosemary growing on the fence.


Lady SpitFire says it's time-to-go-in-hurry-up-you-slow-human.
Y'all keep warm.