Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thanksgiving Adventure

First, let me say, "Thank you," to more people than I can name. Thank you for all the kind and encouraging words, your thoughts and prayers, and your concern for my health. I have such a large circle of friends - I feel so blessed.

Tuesday last week, thinking I was having another kidney stone, I went to my urologist. They examined me, gave me a prescription, and I went home. The pain killers that are normally effective with kidney stones, weren't working at all. When my dad came to check on me, I said, "I think I need to go to the ER."

I told them the same things, thinking that I was having an unusually difficult kidney stone. In fact, with all the kidney stones I've had (14 I think), this pain was beyond anything I've ever felt. The ER staff was great throughout the whole process. After some CT scans, they discovered there was no kidney stone. Instead, there was a bleed in my stomach muscle - the rectus abdominus to be specific. My blood had gotten too thin and one of the blood vessels had sprung a leak (I'm pretty sure that's a medical term). There was an 8x18 cm pool of blood, and that was causing the pain.

They immediately counteracted my blood thinners, started fluids and platelets, and moved me to ICU. It was a really difficult few days - really difficult. After some more scans, they discovered I still have a blood clot in my leg, and now I have one in my lung. Since I was off the blood thinners, clots became a big concern, specifically the one in my leg. To keep that one from moving into my lung, another doctor inserted a VCF (vena cava filter). I now have platinum in my body, and as everybody knows, platinum is better than silver, gold, even titanium. Platinum makes me a much more impressive and valuable person now.

On top of everything else, while I was in the ICU I experienced a really high heart rate. Several times it raced to 180 bpm. The staff was very concerned, and I'm not sure they ever figured out exactly why it was happening.

After one more night in a regular room, I was able to come home on Friday. It felt so good to get out of that hospital. Don't get me wrong: the staff was great. The doctors, nurses, and aides were caring and kind. I appreciate all they did. Hospital beds, on the other hand, are horrible. There was no position in which I could be comfortable. I basically got no sleep and no rest for three days, and almost no food during that time. I had no appetite.

But now I'm home. Today for lunch I had some saltine crackers and applesauce! I can't say it was delicious, but it was nice to eat again. And I can't even describe how nice it is to sleep in my own bed again, with my own king size pillows, and body pillow, and a room without any hospital sounds.  It's going to take some time to catch up on my sleep deficit, but I'm working on it.

Next week I'll be making appointments with several doctors, to follow up on the adventure. My prescriptions will have to be adjusted, but I will get back to normal. Next week I'll also start figuring out how I'm going to pay for this adventure. I can't even imagine how expensive this will be. ER + ICU= $$$$

The new prescription for blood thinners is nearly $400 for a 30 day supply, instead of the $10/month I have been paying. There are some options that will need exploring and I know everything will work out.

I could not have made it through this without the support of my family. They give so much to me: time, energy, transportation, funds, caring, love and so much more. They almost all came to visit me in the hospital. Janae, my niece, didn't come to visit, but that was so selfless of her. She has a cold and I have a compromised immune system, so her staying away was the best thing.

Throughout this ordeal I was reminded of something. I'm definitely an emotional person. I've known that for a long time, but I don't always remember it. When I get fatigued, my emotional regulation weakens. When mom, dad, Susan, Steve and Pastor Grant walked in to pray for me, I almost lost it. It was just too overwhelming. Since coming home, it seems to have gotten ... more so. Watching anything online - tv show, commercial, video - anything that is the least bit cute or sweet or sad or happy, I'm overcome with emotion, ready to cry. I don't know exactly why but I've learned it's better to just go with it and not try to control it.

Again, thank you all for your caring and love. I am truly blessed.

Monday, November 23, 2015

What Rivers Mean to Me

Outdoor Idaho does so much for photography in Idaho.

  1. Their shows are always produced so well, as evidenced by literally hundreds of awards
  2. They host a monthly contest on their Facebook page. Each month, for years now, photographers around Idaho have posted images to their page. The best images of the month are chosen as the Iconic Idaho photos. There are some really talented photographers here in Idaho, and Outdoor Idaho helps promote photography in Idaho.
  3. Outdoor Idaho solicits photo essays from their friends. I wrote and submitted an essay about what rivers mean to me, which is now published on their website.

After publishing my book, which was two years ago, I haven't done much writing. I've written a few things here and there, a blog entry or two, but nothing that requires much thoughtful consideration (as evidenced by how this blog sometimes rambles). I decided that in order to be a better writer, I obviously need to write more, and more intentionally.

As an adjunct professor for the NNU counseling program, I've been doing site visits at internship sites. I observe the intern in a session and evaluate them according to a rubric. I added a written summary of my impressions of each intern. It was an interesting exercise for me, to learn how to articulate each intern's strengths and weaknesses, without repeating myself in every summary.

I've been writing book reviews for the Chi Sigma Iota (CSI) Counselor's Bookshelf. The reviews are limited to 2500 characters, so I have to be clear and concise while still summarizing the value of each book for counselors. That's been a good writing exercise also.

I even wrote an essay on leadership for CSI. The entries will be evaluated and judged, and there will be a winner chosen. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I even wrote a short story for the Boise Weekly contest - super short in fact. The story has to be exactly 101 words.

I have several ideas about future books, but those will be a long time in the making. I'll let you know when the next book is available.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Award Winning Tomatoes

Back on October 3, I participated in the Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk. There were several Boise walks; I chose the walk centered around the Capitol building in Boise, which has a farmer's market close by. Even though I've been to Boise on a lot of walks, there's always something new to photograph.

Each walker submits one image to their local leader, who then chooses a winner from the local group. This was the image I submitted.

Paul, our local leader, chose my image to move on to the next round. In the next round Scott Kelby chose from among all the winning images (about 1000) to find his top ten images, and a grand prize winner.

Surprise of surprises for me - this image made the top ten! I think it demonstrates that interesting photos can be found anywhere, even on a table top at a farmer's market.

The rest of the winning images can be found here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Creating New Habits

Wow! I can't believe I haven't posted anything since June. I knew it had been a while, but that's a really time to go without having something to say. Of course that's the kind of blogger I am. There are bloggers out there who make a living out of posting every day, or even several times a day. I just can't do that, and no desire to share that much. I think if I tried, most of what I posted would be worthless drivel. So I post when something strikes me as post worthy.

For the past 5 weeks (only 3 weeks left) I've been participating in the Whole Life Challenge. It's been a challenge, creating new habits, trying to give up the old, unhealthy habits. I haven't responded to the challenge as well as I would like to have, but I'm definitely becoming more aware of the things I did without being intentional about the activities. I'm clearly an unhealthy eater, as demonstrated by my over-weight-ness. I haven't weighed during the challenge, but I'm sure I haven't lost any weight, which is disappointing. Although I shouldn't be surprised - I've eaten too many of the restricted foods (according to the challenge rules) and not enough of the recommended foods. And when I do eat the good foods, my portion control is poor.

And yet, I'm becoming more aware and making changes. In the past I was most successful when I diligently tracked my food and my activity. So I'm doing that again. I've eaten some food that shouldn't be consumed by someone trying to be healthy, but I recorded them - calories and fat and sugar, etc. And there have also been times that I didn't eat something because I didn't want to record it. Apparently it's a good incentive for me.

In November, I'll be adding another tool to help create healthy habits: a fitness tracker. I'm the kind of person who tends to do a lot of research before I buy something. There are so many fitness trackers out there, how does one choose?

I found one that I think is going to help, that will track all the activities that I regularly do. The MOOV Now. It's priced well, has a lot of attractive features, and I have to start somewhere. I guess I'll see how it turns out. And if you use that link above (or this one: ) to buy, I get $5 off mine.

Here's to a healthier me - eventually.

P.S., If you're interested in the Whole Life Challenge, there will be another one starting in January.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Golf is Hard

You may know that I used to be a golf professional (not a professional golfer - there is a difference). I worked at a local course, teaching lessons, taking green fees, rerounding carts, etc. I left the golf business to return to graduate school, and when I did my time spent playing golf decreased.

When I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, the golf became even more scarce. I'm sure at one point I went more than 2 years without touching my clubs. Now, I'm back to playing again. I play 3 or 4 times per year now. And my game is a LOT different than it used to be. I no longer know how far I can hit a club. I have to swing more slowly, and more weakly, because my hand strength is so restricted by the RA. My stiff joints also affect my range of motion.

And yet, I'm back to enjoying the game. I have fun now. I lost that feeling for a long time. It's not about the score anymore; it's about being with people I enjoy, smelling the newly cut grass, feeling the solid contact of ball and club, listening to the sound of the ball in the hole.

Friday I played (for the second time this year) in the NNU Legends of Golf tournament. Since we were playing a scramble format I knew there wouldn't be much pressure on me. I could play easy and let the other guys hit the aggressive shots. However, I ended up hitting the ball harder than I should have. Somewhere in the first few holes, I hurt my left arm. Thinking back, I can't identify the particular shot that caused the injury. I probably should have stopped after the first 5 or 6 holes, definitely should have stopped after the first 9, and did stop with three holes left, just putting on those holes. Those last three holes, I couldn't even hold the club. I had to putt one handed on the last hole because the pain in my left arm was so great.

At the end of the round I could see the swelling in my arm. It wasn't until Saturday night that I realized how significant the injury was/is.

That is an arm-size bruise - all the way from my wrist to my elbow. Pretty isn't it?

I can't turn my hand to the outside, I have no grip strength, and I can't rest that arm on anything.

I will definitely play golf again this year, although it might be a few months before I try again. And next time, I'm going to remind myself to swing easier, grip more lightly, and protect my body. If you're my playing partner next time, please remind me of these instructions.

As for the tournament - we won a dozen golf balls for finishing in 3rd Net. Of course they're yellow golf balls and I don't know if I can play with yellow golf balls - but still, we won something.

On a completely different note, I was also teaching a graduate counseling course this weekend. As a former school counselor, I enjoy being able to interact with the next generation of school counselors. I'm confident that these future school counselors are going to impact students, families, schools and communities in an amazingly positive way. They are a great group of capable, insightful, passionate students. I'm so proud to have played a small part in their education and growth as counselors.