The old “friend” hath changed

When time determines a revisit to old friend you never wanted anyways

You step back and wonder what to make of the unlikely bedfellow:

The one who keeps you up at night in the most ugliest of encounters,

The one who left but came back with a nastier stench and puzzling cry.

He must be male for his strength surpasses my own

Unpredictable now for the feminine who thought she’d figured him out

But not so, little one, for he now brings new mysteries to untangle

And the next round of testing is still 48 very long and arduous hours away.

How will I survive this round with return of the wretched head-banging

The one that collapses my left side then right, no mostly my left arm and leg?

Unable to speak, the screams erupt from my frame twisting as it cramps

My neck reminding me of a symptom that has never left from the last time he came.

The chiropractic whiz-bang, the Florida dental magic held so much promise this year

Some energy returned as the puffiness in my face diminished, my, my indeed

Amazing things happen when your body doesn’t seize the very breaths of its life:

Ones that my body now craves as I struggle to chew the morsels my love fed me tonight.

vertebral arteries, seizures, convulsions, vertebral artery test, CTA, angiogram

No, this masculine drone has a different genre entirely, one triggered when I lean back

So scan it we must with more drugs to keep my body from freaking out with the dye

To see if vertebral arteries bear any aneurysm, stenosis, blockage, anomaly oh my

And cause much of what remains of this wretched hell that has returned, that’s no lie.

Perhaps the neck treatments of late, the dental appliances for TMJ

Have taken pressure off for a time so I could regain my strength for the finale

Might we yet find the real trigger of all of this illness nearing 7 years next month (?)

Hang tight my shiny knight, for very soon we might really know the “why!”

JJ

 

Just short of maximum destruction

monster truck, women, riding, Maximum Destruction, celebrate, ride a truck

That’s me with my brother’s girlfriend catching a ride on a Saturday night as I waved to my husband from the Monster Truck ride at the Maximum Destruction show.  Although I had never ridden in a jacked-up truck before, the figure-8 track of an auto raceway not far from the Motor City is nothing new for me.  I grew up hollering and hooting during demolishion derbies on hot summer weekends in the Detroit area where I grew up.  Virtually everyone in my family worked in the auto industry, the men in my family all tinkered with their cars, and my Dad founded a company that produced the fastest slot car motors on the tracks in the 1960’s.  It seems so long ago yet the adrenaline is so easy to tap into when I hear those engines get revved up!

The racing was exciting!  The effect it had on me was not-so-much exciting as it jittered my fragile nerves.  We did make it all the way through to the trailer races on the figure-8 track at the end of the night:  battered vehicles of all types pulling various types of 2-wheeled trailers for about 10 laps around the track.  The smash-ups drew roars from the crowd and the buggy towing the large teddy bear in a row boat took home the trophy that night.  I was exhausted as my own River Bear drove us home into the wee hours of the morning back across the State lines to Indiana.  What a crazy night!

I am not sure if it was all of the smoke that seeped through my charcoal mask, the vibration of the roaring engines, sitting on those damp wooden bleacher seats, or what exactly affected me the most on Sunday.  I sure slept a lot!  Certainly any of it would have kept me home just 1 year ago.  I am doing better in many ways.  But today brought another bad convulsive episode that seems to be happening again about every other day now.  We are puzzled; I am discouraged.  The healing from the specialized dental appliances and upper cervical chiropractic care appeared to be helping to decrease my reactivity, normalize my sleep/wake cycle, increase my activity level, and overall decrease the episodes.  There were at least 2 days per week when I had no seizure attacks at all!  And now they are back.

The only possibility we can think of right now, after nearly 7 years of serious illness and more medical care than you can imagine is a hidden issue in my cervical spine.  Cervical vascular disease can give rise to traditional seizures but more in the acute phase of these issues than in a chronic phase.  When neck extension can trigger them and the episodes can include a near paralysis of one side of my body then I start to think there is more going on than some pinched cranial nerves.  Have the dental appliances reduced my symptoms 80%?  Yes, until now, they have yet I still deal with the remaining 20% every day.  Chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy  have both triggered and resolved an onset of episodes.

My medical doctor took some convincing then ordered the first of a couple of diagnostic tests after realizing that I have a family history of carotid artery  and heart disease.  I was at the race this weekend with my brother who had a devastating stroke 4 years ago due to occlusion of his carotid arteries.  For me, initial testing shows that my carotid artery is fine; it is the vertebral artery that could be most suspect as it travels around the first cervical vertebrae called the atlas.  More testing should clarify what is going on.  I often have instability or rotation at the level of  C1.  It doesn’t move correctly during flexion or extension according to specialized cervical xrays.  We have got to figure out what is going in these structures in my neck!

Today and some other days recently, Steve providing simple distraction technique of my neck eventually resolved my worst symptoms during a bad episode.  Extreme fatigue follows with an emotional release of frustration, despondency, exasperation, grief, and sorrow.  This has just been going on for so very long!  I am amazed that all of the massively destructive movement patterns occurring thousands of times day after day for years has not caused more damage to my weary frame.  This finding actually gives me hope — that if the episodes stop then maybe I can regain some physical health and fitness with with what is left of me, with the body my Lord has entrusted to my care.  Even those beat-up sedans, pick-up trucks, and other stock cars on the race track somehow keep going to win races week after week.  Just tune ’em up, sure-up the quarter panels-n-bumpers, and onto the track they line up to race another day.

Perhaps that will be me at some level too in my race called “life.”  Only I think I’ll add a little more bling to my frame than the lipstick ladies did to their jalopies during the first heat this past Saturday night.  I might even spruce up the “paint job” on my hair color too.  Next weekend (or hopefully one day soon) just might be my night to shine when the official waves the green flag to get up and go.  Surely that will be a prize worth waiting for . . . just short of the ultimate finish line in heaven.  Yes my Lord, I’m ready!

JJ

Hebrews, 12:1, run, the race, with endurance, Bible verse, race of life

The cricket in the ER

It probably would created a shocking gasp on Gray’s Anatomy if T.V. Dr. Meredith Gray saw a black cricket on the floor next to a patient’s gurney.  But there was no fanfare for me.  I just smashed it with my shoe and hopped up onto the bed, not really sure if the nurse had changed the green sheets or not from the previous patient.  Yes, I said GREEN!

St. Joe is a very old hospital, probably as old as the biggest city near where we live.  At one time they had a pediatric and OB ward however it has been farmed out to the larger campus in the Lutheran network of hospitals.  If mothers arrive in the ER in labor then they are put in a transport vehicle of some sort sent to pick her up by the staff at the other campus.  Surely lotsa babies are born en-route or in the parking lot with this crazy system!  Who ever heard of a hospital not delivering babies?  We’ll see no-mo babies any more at St. Joe, just a few black crickets to match the worn linoleum flooring.  I did notice 2 months ago however, that they finally replaced the bedside tray tables — the ones with levers that were duct-taped together!  Now that was sanitary, eh?  Er, no!

The outpatient nurse, Mary, is as sweet as can be.  Since the hospital doesn’t have their own outpatient clinic, her charge nurse assigns both outpatient and ER patients to her caseload.  She runs around the whole time I am there for my monthly appointment.  Yes, I still have my infusa port flushed every month so I use the opportunity to take in some extra fluids if I need them and have any labs ordered to be drawn at the same time.  I just bring a lunch bag, binge on HGTV, and make a day of it!  Unfortunately my appointment in the ER was a bear this past Friday.  Six and one-half hours after arriving, I felt about as much like “toast” as that crushed bug still on the floor when I left.  It shouldn’t have taken that long.  But every month, I end up hanging out with Mary for at least 4 hours for a one-hour procedure.  It’s just the way it goes.

This time, it took the first 3 of those 6 hours to determine that one of the blood work panels would require 15 vials of blood if I were to have it drawn at the ol’ St. Joe!  Maybe I forgot or maybe I never knew that there’s another lab actually closer to our home that has a special kit for this particular panel; the kit enables multiple tests completed from a few vials of blood.  St. Joe could do the panel but I would probably be billed over $400 more and not be able to walk out of there due to the resulting weakness from the drawing of so much blood.  So it was not to be; we just some other routine labs, and finally AFTER EIGHTEEN HOURS OF FASTING, I ate everything I had with me!  I should have taken Mary up on her offer of a box lunch as well.  I was sooooooo hungry!  All of this probably contributed to the convulsive episode that followed the de-access of the infusa port and an extra 3-hour nap the next day.  What a life, I tell ya!

Someday I hope to have the infusa port removed.  My Doc may be reluctant to order this procedure since it was only 3 months ago that I needed six days of IV antibiotics for pneumonia.  That was another fiasco of a story left to another day.  If only I could go to the newer hospital closer to my home this process would be less exhausting.  Can’t do that either in case things should go wrong and I end up in the chamber room of the abusive nurse in the ER who might still work there.  Better check on that one sometime:  does he still work there?   Regardless, I seem to benefit from regular infusions of fluids when Mary flushes my port at the ol’ St. Joe.  Things shall remain status quo for now.

The monthly sojourn to St. Joe will henceforth continue until an insurance denial, a swarm of locusts, or maybe even something wonderful happens first.  Something wonderful?  We can always be hopeful right?  JJ

“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming [a]locust has eaten,
The crawling locust,
The consuming locust,
And the chewing locust,
My great army which I sent among you.
26 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
And praise the name of the Lord your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you;
And My people shall never be put to shame.
27 Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel:
am the Lord your God
And there is no other.”  Joel 2:25-27a

The times inbetween

Tis a time for more resting than doing

And it is unusual for me to give into the slower pace

But give in I must.

The rain garden project awaits an instructor’s touch

While our own landscape decides if bushes or an Amilsh “mini garage”

Will grace the outer banks of our bedroom.

Shall I attempt to rip out the red twig dogwoods,

My fav in garden beds here and the ‘burbs of Chicago

That don’t really like their sunny home but delight the view out the bedroom window til late summer?

The dog days of hot weather have sapped my zest for projects, most anything green

Or maybe it’s from having to stay home when hubby got to go without me

To his National paddling competition afar; yeah I was too tired to even go.

Yeah, I’m kinda down about all the failures these past 2 months —

Alas the Lord spoke to my heart; now maybe they shall give rise to something better for me?

The times in between the hills n valleys can bring a fresh new look

If I but heed the call to slow things down a bit, to rest

There are but a few tic zips here and there so I do believe something is going right at last!

Thank you Lord for seeing me through to this day

For allowing me to pass through the fiery tests, the times of despair, and hopelessness too

I may even get to go paddle locally tomorrow with my beloved River Bear.  Now won’t that just be saweet if I do?  JJ

A Rain Garden in the Making 8.4.18

Jumping from a home landscape to a specialized garden in the community is a huge leap on many levels.  The size and the scope of the project just multiplied by too many factors to count.  I have barely pitched the project to the President of the Board of the 501c3 that owns the Community Park and drawn up a basic Site Plan.  Just 6 days later, there is a 22 x 26 hole dug in the ground!  Wait, what?

rain garden, site plan, design, storm water, runoff, public park, initial, proposal, draft, drainage

Initial Site Plan Huntertown Family Park Rain Garden, August 4, 2018

When I heard that there would be a Kubota tractor available to scratch-dig the rock hard base of the proposed Rain Garden, I had to move quickly!  I was going to try to attend the Community Park work day on Saturday to get a sense of how things worked, meet some of the volunteers, and learn more about the park facilities.  The Pres gave me a more detailed tour of the grounds, introduced me to “the guys,” shared some more history and vision, then mentioned that they would be finishing that afternoon, the prep for a sidewalk adjacent to the proposed rain garden area.  The tractor would be available after that, wow, in about 3 hours!

I noticed some mega weeds around the entrance to the park so I grabbed my shovel to do some impromptu weeding; I did what I could in the hot sun.  A really nice man came over from where he and his wife were staying with family across the street and offered to donate some mulch to the Park.  His brother-in-law had just bought a local landscape supply business and this man wanted to know if we needed anything before an event coming up the next weekend.  I gave him the President’s contact information and mentioned the rain garden project ’cause, hey, there are already mountains of mulch already on the property but not landscape-quality; tell him Julie would love the offer of some “dark hardwood mulch!”  (Later the Pres just smiled; I’ll bet it’s a go!)  By the time I left the park, I had met this man’s wife who became my first volunteer for the Rain Garden Project.

Off to Walmart I went to pick up some marking paint for the Pres then came home to prepare some treats for these amazing men.  My energy was waning but some kind of momentum had taken over.  A bunch of food, a glass of chicken bone broth and a ton of water helped revive me enough to keep going!  I had most of the ingredients at home for chocolate cookies and a gallon of lemonade; surely some “appreciation treats” would be welcome as temperatures soared above 91 degrees?  The conditions were tough on everyone for sure.  By 1:30 p.m. I was back at the park to hang out in the shade of the picnic shelters and learn.

I am learning as much about general carpentry and construction as I am about how members of a community can work together, how much fun these men have just hanging out with each other no matter what they are doing.  Most of them are retired from the trades and in their 40’s and 50’s.  Building this Community Park is how they love to spend their free time together after breakfast at the Kitchen Table restaurant down the street.  Perhaps it has a lot to do with the years they all once worked together in one way or another and the small town friendliness I had never witnessed up close from our housing addition across the highway.  The Pres treated all of them like contractors, co-workers, brothers, and sons alike.  It was beautiful to witness as they helped to craft the public facility already enjoyed by dozens of folks every day.  They worked REALLY HARD that day in their respective projects!

Kubota, rain garden, community, project, Huntertown, family, park, runoff, storm water, digging, construction, volunteers

About 3:00 p.m., the man in the Kubota tractor was ready to scratch-up the base of the rain garden.  Its claw-bucket digging down few inches deep didn’t loosen up the nasty crab grass in the compacted clay/sand mix so down a full foot he had to go.  It took about 30 minutes to complete the 22 x 26 foot area, much like the shape of a baseball diamond in miniature.  As I do additional calculations we might need to increase the size of the rain garden yet that is still bigger than the initial site plan noted above.  I realized that those dirt clods would be rock hard within half a day so I tried to weed a few chunks of those grass plants as I could in the searing heat . . . with a couple of breaks just to cool off a bit.  It took a long time, leaving much more for another day and team of volunteers.  Even I was munching on a chocolate cookie and drinking lemonade before the day was done!  🙂

Sunday morning the guys would be meeting again for breakfast at the Kitchen Table before finishing adding the mesh to the sidewalk plus other preparations before the delivery of concrete on Monday by 2:00 p.m.  I was glad that the Pres had shared with me about the sidewalk so I could ask if they cold add the crushed limestone instead of dirt along the outer edge; this would match the other stone edge already in place along what would become the top of periphery of the rain garden (i.e. the front horizontal and right perpendicular edges in the photo above).  It might not be the most aesthetic choice of materials however those two stone borders would definitely be easier to maintain than a berm made of dirt that would eventually grow weeds.  While I have begun seeking  volunteers from the Master Gardener and Native Gardener groups locally to help build and maintain the the rain garden, I see signs all over the park of “good idea” projects that don’t look as good anymore, lost to poor follow-up.  Low maintenance must be part of this garden design!

Some interest in the rain garden project grew among the guys, just by being there, hanging out, and helping here and there where I could.  One gentleman told a story of how he used Roundup to kill all the grass in his yard before re-planting his lawn.  So we talked about the effect of glyphosate on beneficial insects, how it can effect plants in the area for up to 6 months, and how it would basically not work with the project here.  Beneficial insects pollinate the flowers of the tap-rooted plants that hold and filter the water runoff plus help prevent all the flooding that lasts for days on this side of the bathroom building after heavy rains.  No insects, no healthy plants, no rain garden.  Another man suggested using the extra pavers they had on the property which we could use for the outer border (i.e. to form the berm that prevents spillover; we would add drainage windows too).  Even the Pres said he could probably work with a local landscaping company to build a flagstone path through the area which would enhance  interest for visitors in addition to helping with weeding and such.  I agreed, taking lots of mental notes.  Chances are that I will see these hardworking men again . . .

rain garden, Huntertown, family, park, runoff, storm water, native plants, Monarch butterfly, community, project

So tonight I put together a flyer about the Community Family Park Rain Garden project.  How poetic to set in motion something like this that will actually come to fruition through the “organic” interest and talents of so many wonderful folks in my community.  Momentum has started as I continue to recover from a setback in July.  So grateful to have something else focus on:  my own Horticulture Therapy!  The flyer will likely become a temporary sign along the edge of our big dirt hole so that folks attending the Heritage Festival this weekend will know that something really cool is about to happen there soon.  Maybe some will join in and help?  I feel really privileged and honored to have this opportunity that came about just by taking a little online class, just by making a little post on Facebook, .  There is so much more going on here and it transcends me for sure.

Then again, that is always the case now isn’t it Gentle Reader?  Yeah God!  JJ

Isaiah 58:11

11 The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.