Tag Archives: Life in general

Pictures, we got pictures

Unfortunately, I don’t have the time right now to post them. But today – a day that was supposed to be all rain, all day, turned into another bum forecast for this area. The large mass of heavy storms burned themselves out before they got to us. We did get about 0.15 inches of rain today, which is just enough to be annoying: can’t mow, can’t work on pulling weeds (because getting all the soil off the roots is a pain), can’t work with the bees, and so on.

It was, though, an excellent day for having my niece and nephew over while my sister took care of a few things, and during a break in the rain we did have, we picked some muscadine grapes from the vine in the herb garden. I also found some caterpillars on the foliage. At first, in my addled, needs-much-more-sleep brain, I thought, hey, monarchs! Then I reminded myself they only use milkweed, which this was not, and their caterpillars have no hairs, as these did. We finally identified them with some help from Stacy (thanks!) as grapeleaf skelentonizer caterpillars – an entirely apt name, because that’s exactly what they do to the leaves on the grapevines. The adult moth they  morph into is ugly, too. I counted 15, mostly young ones. Tomorrow, I’ll go on caterpillar patrol and kill them all.

The first round of peppers I harvested the other day is in and drying. By tomorrow morning, they will be fully dried, and I’ll start round two. Given the shape the plants and fruits are in, there will only be two rounds this time. Tomorrow, my sister is coming over, and we will pull the pepper plants that have been chewed away/damaged to nothing, along with the squash and zuke plants the bugs got to. We did manage to get some yellow squash off early from those, and they were delicious. Inattention, however, allows the bugs to take over and destroy things. If only some bright person would come up with a commercially viable solution for leaf-footed bugs and stinkbugs, they’d make a fortune.

Very early this morning, I went to the doc for my annual checkup, even though I had just seen him two weeks ago. All my bloodwork is normal, except for a couple of items that are slightly out of normal range, but not so far out that they’re problematic. Xrays are good, scans are good, and on paper, if someone just looked at these results, they’d pronounce me in fine health indeed. And that, of course, is what I tell people: outside this cancer business (fuck you, cancer!), I’m healthy as a horse – healthier, actually, than most people. I did talk to him about my right shoulder, which I’ve either torn the rotator cuff or the labrum in, most likely. I’m fairly sure I did this months ago, and it’s progressively gotten worse, but I have ha so many things going on this year, it’s taken a seat behind all that. Now, though, it’s time, and it will probably take an mri to figure out what the problem is. Interesting note: my referral to an ortho doc happens to be to the brother of the doc who handled my radiation oncology work back in 2005 for the first cancer round. He also surgically repaired my primary doc’s rotator cuff injury, so he’s definitely the guy I want.

Tomorrow, we are planning to do some honey extraction – about 10 frames, I believe, that I pulled off the bees in the west yard. I really need to do a full round of inspections on the girls, and tomorrow I also need to feed them, as I’m behind a day on that.

And now, it’s back to tame the helldesk, get that cleared, and eventually tonight, get some sleep that is better than last night’s, which was atrocious even for my baseline of sleep habits.

Until next time, peeps. Be well.

A better question

In fact, a much better, and necessary question: is there any intelligent life amongst  the GOP? Because this guy doesn’t have any.

Those of you who blunder in here like moths to a light due to this comment: save it. I don’t usually go into politics here, but with GOP science deniers on committees specifically concerned with science and GOPers scoffing at climate change even when presented with evidence, and so on, it’s a perfectly valid question, in my opinion.

Sorry we couldn’t deliver your package

On multiple occasions in the past few months, those are the notices I’ve gotten from Amazon. The USPS handles what’s known as the “last mile” delivery for a variety of places, and out here in the boonies that includes us.: Fedex or UPS hands off to the USPS, who then send their rural route carriers out with whatever it happens to be.

The primary reason the USPS “can’t deliver” recently? Rain. I was expecting a package on Friday (that contained a couple of drives, among other things) and the notice from Amazon actually had a report from the USPS that the “address [was] incorrect”. This is complete bullshit, of course – after all, Fedex managed to find us just fine for part of that very same order, going to the very same address, on that very same day.

Miraculously, Saturday, the address was deliverable! Amazing!

The difference between Friday and Saturday? Friday afternoon and into early evening, it was storming, then raining. Both of the parcel lockers in our community mailbox were also taken up with other items for other people. Saturday, people had cleared those out and we got our package.

Today, I received another “Sorry we missed you!” notice from Amazon. What was happening this afternoon, about the time the mail is typically delivered?

Yes, another big storm rolling through. But there was no close lightning as there was when I shot the video for that other post. No, it was just rain, sometimes heavy, sometimes gentle, and sometimes slacking off, as it goes here in the great State of Florida in the summer.

In addition, we have a covered porch out front. They know this. Hell, they could see it from the community mailbox, even though it’s 200 yards away, if it’s someone who has never delivered here before, and all the regular people know our house. But no, it’s apparently too much effort to drive that 200 yards, hop out, and put the package inside the front gate on that porch.

So, hooray for Amazon Prime. Boo for the USPS people who think they’re going to melt or something and can’t be bothered to at least make a token effort to deliver a package because it’s raining.

Good morning campers

Our recovery of nameless guy’s server continues today, but I did implement part one of my overall plan to get some writing time.

See, the thing about owning a small business in the field I’m in is that not only is it very unpredictable, but sometimes it takes more than one day. It can take dayS, plural. We are in day three of this specific issue, and still going.

Fortunately, right now does not involve a ton of hands on for me while we wait, so I’ve been able to knock out a few other things that also need to be attended – payroll, for instance, since my employees don’t work for free, the bastards, and payroll taxes, because neither does the IRS or the country. Other “real” work things has filled the nooks and crannies, and I believe I am caught up in the routine, day to day things. Yay!

So maybe it’s time to type a few sentences into Scrivener and move that few footsteps closer to (one) goal. Progress is progress, after all.

More later, peeps. Be well.

The plan was

To write. Because it’s time to, as Neil Gaiman says, make good art.

I’d been moving sites around as we retire older servers, and finally got to bed this morning somewhere between 4 and 4:30. A few hours later, I get a notice to my phone about a customer server. Nothing is responding. I try to log in, get a login incorrect error. Huh, that’s weird, the client is unlikely to have changed the password without telling us. I try it again, same deal. Well, hell.

So by 7:30, I’m up and around and chatting to the client, and something very bad has happened – I won’t go into details except to say it is something so bad it makes your heart stop. The plans to write this morning and perhaps a second, smaller session this afternoon? Gone.

Off to the NOC to do some recovery on this client’s server. Spend a large number of hours reviewing the damage. Build a new machine because all his sites have to be transferred off the existing one. Deal with other client stuff throughout.

Finally, I’m shot at about 2-3 AM or somewhere in there. Crash out, wake up again at 7:30 (I am now typing this on Monday, the next day here), realize I have to go get blood drawn to check various things, drive out to the hospital (again) where I was in the ER back in February to get my records for that visit, as two previous requests to relay those records to Mayo resulted in the records not being sent because they didn’t have my fax although the transmission was good, then the records not being sent because the form I hand delivered to them, in person, wasn’t done (and a bonus: they lost my form and couldn’t find it when we called asking them where the records were), and then to Publix to pick up my meds.

Off I go right out the door, because the bloodwork has to be fasting. Do all of these things today, and I am back, in my chair, at my desk, at 10:50. That is not bad at all, and shows that focused work can be truly productive – and those tasks involved other people, as well. I wonder how much writing I could get done in three hours without people (real people, anyway) being involved in things I need to get done.

Sine we’re still dealing with this server, and some defacements of pages, and because I had to mow beeyard #1 as it hasn’t been mowed in three weeks, and because I needed to feed the bees and add a second brood box to one hive, and because work has been a steady drip, drip drip of things going wrong for people, no writing today. In fact, right now I am very sleepy, and if I didn’t have to transfer this guy’s sites off his server to the new box, I’d probably go hit the sack for a bit. I actually may not do that immediately, but run something that I won’t go into detail about, and then transfer the sites after that.

Now, I wait for something else to finish on that server, and I have titles popping in to my head, so I’m writing those down. Something productive in the writing arena after all! And the day has been productive otherwise, even if it seems like treading water.

Treading is better than sinking, though.

More later, peeps. Be well.

The lost weekend

OK, so it was not a weekend, and not as Oscar-worthy as the movie of that name (which is brilliant, by the way – you should watch it if you’ve never seen it). It was a few days during the week, and yours truly was back in the hospital with pneumonia. Again.

The  first sign of an issue: I slept for almost 11 hours straight, without waking up. Not normal for someone who regularly wakes up every 2 to 2.5 hours.  When I got up, I couldn’t really see – everything was sparkly, and not in the sparkly vampire sense, but in the sense of standing up too quickly, or getting heat stroke. So, we took my blood pressure, which was a rather alarming 64/48, then twice more because hey, you have to confirm these things, and the other two were not much different. I also stuck a finger in my handy pulse ox (O2) thing and it came back as 76%. Stuck it on another finger and got 80%. None of this is good. We called 911 and yours truly took a delightful ride in the ambulance to the ER. They gave me oxygen and fluids and finally I was back into normal ranges. But, I also got admitted because the chest xray showed lower lobe pneumonia, and they wanted to nuke me with some IV antibiotics.

And here’s where those sensitive to descriptions of bodily functions should stop reading. Seriously, if, say, reading about people puking gives you the heebie jeebies, stop here. I mean it.

Still here? Good. let’s have a little chat about heavy doses of antibiotics via IV, shall we?

The point of it all is to kill all the bad stuff, knocking it down quickly to a level where you can go home and take more antibiotics the way any normal person would take them, for x days. The problem is that those large doses of antibiotics kill everything – including the good little bacterial guys humming around in your guts, happily keeping things stabilized down there. You know what happens then?

Explosive diarrhea. And I don’t mean that in the joking, ha-ha sense, I mean that in the “OMG, am I going to make it to the bathroom before I shit my pants and the bed and everything between me and the bathroom” sense.

Fortunately, it’s kind of easy to tell from the gut rumbles when the time is close, so the astute patient hauls their ass out of bed and into the bathroom. This was made easier for me this time because they didn’t have me continuously hooked up to the IVs, so I was free to get up without having to take the IV stand with me.

And then, I got my independence from the hospital on Independence Day, July 4! I made my escape back to the ranch, and have two antibiotics to take, along with something they quaintly describe as being “for loose stool”. Thankfully, the doses are not high enough to cause me to have to race to the bathroom, so things are not quite as explosive as they were in the hospital. We should be thankful for some small favor every day, and right now, that one’s mine.

More later, peeps. Be well.

Crawling out of timesinks

As I said yesterday, I made a massive shift that gave me time I could assign to something else.  What was that?

I shut down pretty much all social media.

Now, to be fair, I was most active on facebook and twitter, with a small dabbling in instagram from time to time, and those three are the biggies, name recognition-wise. But I got sick and tired of facebook, and deactivated my account there. As a result, I have quite a lot more time to pursue other things, because those “I’ll just spend ten minutes checking out facebook” is never really ten minutes. You look up, and suddenly you’e been checking it for an hour or longer, wasting time that could be better spent on other pursuits.

I still have a page on facebook, since publishers expect writers to have a “platform” (and let me tell  you how I want to launch that phrase into the heart of the sun). Before I deactivated my primary account used to create that page, I created a new account for myself that follows nothing and friends no one. I then passed administrative duties for the page from the account I used to this new account that I do not use except to manage that page: an object lesson in how to both have a presence and not have a presence on facebook.

That was followed next by twitter getting the heave-ho for the most part. I created another twitter account to use as my author account (for branding purposes, of course).   Under that umbrella, I can do the author update thing now and again without spending hours at a time on social media throughout the day.

So, while I know that it’s necessary for me (the artist) to have a presence on these outlets, it really is not necessary for me (the person) to have one, and now I basically don’t. And I’m ok with that.

Sick sick

What I’d really like from the universe: a fairly long length of time of feeling good. Not great. I don’t need great. But I don’t need a once a week visit from bug-o-the-week. Today appears to be that day. The bugger of the thing is that I felt pretty good over the weekend, and yesterday was good, too: three shakes, two cans of formula. This morning, though, I woke up queasy, had some dry heaves, thought that did it, started breakfast (such as it is for me) and it’s been downhill from there.

Now, I have my handy bottle of a popular sports drink, one flavor of which (available around here) does not cause my mouth to burn. I’m hoping this will go down, stay down, and I can get back on my horse – or tractor, since I mowed Friday, and you can’t even tell – and get back to what has now become my rather unfortunate normal.

The very definition of

Fitful sleeping.

I don’t sleep much or well. This dates back to my high school days, that I can remember. Tonight, though, is one of those really bad nights, where I sleep for at most an hour, but usually wake up after a much shorter time, anywhere from half an hour to (what I’ve measured right now) twelve minutes. The strange thing about this is that my mind thinks it has been a much longer time. In the current episode, I woke up after twelve minutes and my mind figured it had been at least two hours. My gut chimed in with some gas bubbles escaping around the stoma for the tube, so here I am, feeding at 3 AM, trying to get that calmed down, and thinking it would be really nice to get four hours of uninterrupted sleep. Such is the life of an insomniac: some nights are better than others, and this is one of those others.

Life is complicated

The last post about these irritating medical issues was rather optimistic about the eating regularly again (by mouth) and using the feeding tube as a supplemental agent to that. We’ll discuss that, but first, a bit about the chicken I mentioned.

It was delicious. Seriously good, after marinating for 24 hours in a mix of greek yogurt, olive oil, crushed garlic, salt, and pepper. I seared those off on the stovetop in a hot pan, then transferred them to the oven to finish. While they were finishing, I made a tzatziki sauce to go with them, and it turned out fantastically – amazing, given that it’s been forever since I made one. I added extra garlic, and it was, quite literally, the best I’ve ever had. I’m not slapping myself on the back as the best cook ever, but I could eat a bowl of the stuff on its own and be happy, and even my mother, who is not normally one for this sort of thing, judged it to be be excellent. I managed some chicken and the rice I’d made on the side, helped along by the tzatziki to get it swallowed. One thing about dysphagia and mucositis, if you, gentle reader, have stumbled across this during a search: sauces and gravies are generally your friend. (Note: I am not a doctor or medical professional – do not take what I write here as medical advice of any sort, and check with your doctor(s) about stuff, not random things you read on the internet).

That was this past Friday. I think I’d had a couple of cans of the formula in addition to the chicken and rice, and an orange or two. Saturday, I had some of the leftovers, along with a couple more cans. Sunday, more cans. And we ran out of cans from the first delivery. This is where things start going badly.

We’d ordered more formula from the folks who handle that on Friday, and thought from the way they talked the couple of cases we’d ordered would be arriving on Monday. That turned out not to be the case. On Monday, I was feeling worse because I’d not been able to take down enough by mouth. I also had to head out to get some bloodwork done to recheck my kidney function, as of course one of the issues with not eating/malnutrition can be kidney function problems. They had been abnormal in the hospital, but had been improving once the tube was in place and I was on continuous feeding. Off we went, and they took blood and had me pee in a cup. Idiotically, I’d not even thought about the latter, but it makes perfect sense, of course: kidneys, duh! Fortunately, I managed to give them just enough to deal with. Then, back home, where I continued to feel like total crap because I couldn’t get enough into my piehole.

Tuesday, I had an appointment to finally get the stitches out of my neck, one day shy of a month after the surgery and three weeks past the original removal date. I was feeling so weak I wondered if we should call them and reschedule, but we decided they really needed to come out, so, with the help of my sister, who has been a rock through all this, mom took me up to the hospital, and my sister had commandeered a wheelchair so I didn’t have to totter around in my state to get to where we needed to be. The building where this appointment was has a cafeteria on the ground floor opposite the entrance to the part of the building where my doctors are, and the smell of whatever they were cooking was overpowering and made me ant to vomit. Through my reading, I’ve found this can be a problem for people recovering from things like this. But, we made it through that, made it through stitch removal, and the doctor said flat out he is at a loss about this lump. All the scans have shown nothing, the biopsy was negative, etc. – in effect, he’s unable to fix something that does not show a problem. If I’d had the energy, I’d have told him I knew that issue quite well, given the type of work I do. He suggested another PET scan – this uses nuclear tracers to light up possible cancerous areas, as cancer cells glom on to every bit of sugar they can get their greedy suckers on – but since I just had one a couple months ago, it wouldn’t be possible to have another for at least another three months. That’s fine, because even if it had already been six months, there’s no way I’d be able to do one right now anyway. So, the lump thing is a wait and watch thing.

Stitches out, we returned home, and thankfully, the case of formula had been delivered and was waiting for me. I immediately went back on the feeding schedule, or as close as I can get to it: five cans a day.

Now, the thing about feeling so badly those couple of days is this: it’s incredibly scary. When I weighed myself after getting home from hospital, I was 92 pounds. When I weighed myself this past Saturday, I was 90 pounds. That is the completely wrong direction, and I was shocked at that, because I thought things were going better. Clearly, they were not, and as things progressed, obviously not good. Now that I’m back on the feeding train, when I weighed myself today, it said 94.5 pounds. I have more energy, I don’t feel like I’m so weak I can’t walk, and while this does not mean I’m going to be able to get out to the gardens and start the huge catchup work that needs to be done, it does mean I can take some laps around the inside of the house. Moving is one of the keys to recovery: if you decide to put it off until you “feel better” you’re not going to feel better. Get up. Move around. Don’t try to do 50 laps on the first go. The first couple of days, I could only do two laps through before I had to sit back down. Now I can do more, and also do things like get the dogs’ water bowl up, clean it, refill it, and get it back in place. It doesn’t sound like much to most people, and the previously active me would not think such a thing would be a big chore, but it is a victory for me in my current state.

The mental side: I had a bit of an existential crisis during the days I felt so incredibly weak and shaky, and wondered – for the very first time – if I was going to be able to make it back from this. Even with the first cancer diagnosis, I never thought for a minute that I would die. But at the beginning of this week, it was something weighing heavily on my mind: was it possible that things were too far gone for me to recover? I’d no thoughts of giving up and ending it all, so don’t worry about that, friends and readers (in fact, it never actually occurred to me for an instant). My mental state is not generally fragile, as people who know me would be able to confirm, but because of all the things going on and the very physical signs that are so very easy to see of the condition I’m in, for those couple of days I went to the edge of the abyss of wondering about the possibility of failure and very nearly fell in. To be honest, it scared the shit out of me. And during that little crisis, what I thought was the stupidest thing ever (at the time) bubbled to the top of my mind: I had grand plans for the gardens and bees this year, which are now out the window. I’ve no idea why that came to the forefront of my mind at that very moment. Perhaps it was because these things are important to me, and it was an attempt by my brain to help me recognize these are things I would want to fight for, and not to completely give in to the hopeless feeling that had flowed up to envelop me in its grasp. It still felt silly and stupid at the time, and I do recognize that this is going to be another lost season for the most part, but this acknowledgement is not a sledgehammer driving me into a depression, just a recognition that this is the way life happens sometimes.

So, where do we stand now? I’ve just finished another tube feed, and in a few hours, I’ll do another. It’s very much like being on a newborn baby’s schedule: wake up, eat, wait a bit, eat, wait a bit, eat, maybe nap here and there, and so on. If that’s what it takes to get the weight back on my frame and head back to the healthier me, then that oddball schedule is what I’ll do.

Remember, if you are someone going through cancer treatment, or dealing with the aftermath of it, or having issues thanks to radiation, the gift that keeps on giving pretty much forever, or just in general feeling that you’ve lost the point of it all somewhere: life is worth fighting for. There is, and only ever will be, one you, in the history of the universe. Find something that is special to you, the unique you, and hold to that as your anchor. The seas of adversity may be rough sometimes, but hold fast to your anchor and do not let the waves overtake you. You, and the people who love and care for you, will be better off for it.

A note for those thinking that nothing is worth it, and waving a flag of surrender is the only option to whatever problems have invaded your life, be they medical or other: please talk to someone before considering doing yourself any harm. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7, at 1-800-273-8255 if your friends, family, or medical contacts are unavailable or if you want to talk to someone anonymously.

Until next time, peeps: be well.