Saturday, May 29, 2010

So what's up?

Here's my health update... I went to the Doctor's on Wednesday and she was quite pleased with the fact that my swelling had gone completely down. My last day for the steroid pills is today so we are in a wait-and-see time to determine if that was just masking a bigger problem. If the swelling comes back and/or the joint pain returns, then it's off to a Rheumatologist to see what the underlying problem is. I have confidence I'm all better but there is a faint fear in the back of my mind. The next few days will either confirm or deny that fear.

Here's my Dad's health update... On Wednesday they were finally able to follow through with the kidney surgery and removed three masses of infection. He is scheduled for another surgery on the other side next week. I doubt it was wonderful news to find out the masses were infectious versus plain old kidney stones, but I'm just glad they are out of his body. As of yesterday he is in a Nursing Home to recover. I talked to him last night and he was having a lot of pain from the surgery spot and from the horrible bed they had him in, but hopefully both of those can be remedied today. Otherwise, he has a lot of his strength back but not nearly all of it, or even enough to take care of himself. Despite that and all the other problems, I have this unexplainable confidence he will get better. I told him the same last night. I'm clinging to that.

Thank you to each and all who have been thinking and praying for me and my Dad. It is much appreciated and accepted. You all rock.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Finale season

Over the weekend everyone was talking about the finale of LOST! and then yesterday and today the conversation was about 24. For me, the finale I was most looking forward to was tonight's The Biggest Loser. It's so amazing to see the transformations those people have gone through. While not quite ready to talk about them yet, I'm going through some pretty big changes in my life right now and this show is a big motivation for one of those areas. (Not real subtle, I know.) It's a great show. That's all I have to say about it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A thousand buzzing awesomes

Yesterday I did one of the coolest things I've ever done. I headed over to Lamppost Farm to help Steve do some work, but before we got started he wanted to check on his two beehives. A few months back he'd been awarded a grant that allowed him to attend beekeeping classes and then ultimately be given two working hives and two colonies of honey bees to go with them. If you've been following the news, you know the danger our country is in regarding honey bees. So for him to get this grant was a wonderful thing for the farm and what they're doing there. I was more than a little scared to check out the hives with him, but I didn't admit it and agreed to join him.

I put on a hat with a mesh veil around it and then put on leather gloves. It didn't seem like enough clothes based on my experience watching beekeeping on TV, but Steve had one of those handheld smokers that I knew would do something to the bees and was supposed to keep their attention off of us and on the smoke. It seemed to be a decent alternative to a full beekeeping suit. Still nervous I'd do something to anger the bees and not sure what I would do if I lost my nerve, we headed towards the hives.

Steve spread the smoke into the hive boxes before opening them up and then again after the vertical internal hives had been exposed. The smoke didn't seem to bother the bees, and they didn't seem to mind him pulling their homes out into the open, so he put the smoker down. Now I was extra nervous we didn't have the safe-guard of the smoke, so I stepped back and watched Steve work. He spent the next five or so minutes looking for eggs, larva, comb development, and honey. And then it happened.

He wanted to see another one of the vertical hives at the same time so he turned to me and handed me the one in his hand. Instinctively I reached out and gently took it from him. The twelve by eighteen inch piece of wood I was holding was alive with activity and it literally was vibrating in my hands from the movement of wings and bodies from what seemed like a thousand honey bees. It was so intense. There was no fancy beekeeping suit or smoke between the lives of those bees and my own; it was just us.

I held it up, turned it this way and that, and examined every aspect of the bees in front of me. At one point my face was mere inches away from a thousand other tiny faces. And in that moment there was no fear. I was not afraid of being stung or hurt or injured. They were not afraid of me or my hat or my hands. For a few precious minutes we were alone together in a big, giant world. Before we had started Steve gave me a basic explanation of how bees can sense fear and the technique he used to overcome his fear. He stated he approaches the bees in a state of awe and it calms him. In that moment I found myself in that state of awe.

Sorry if that all sounded cheesy, folks. Words can never fully express the intensity of beekeeping. I loved it and in that moment wouldn't have traded anything to be in that place. It was so amazing. Many thanks to Steve for letting me experience it. If any of you reading this ever get the chance, try it. I promise it will change your life.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What does ministry look like?

I spent a few hours with the Montgomery's at Lamppost Farm last night (check out their link to the right) in a wonderful discussion about what they are doing there. In a stark opposite perspective, my friend Kyle visited me last Friday and we discussed his year-long involvement in the PULSE program in the city of Pittsburgh. (Check out his link too.) Both conversations were based on where each person(s) feels they are being led to serve God. Even though they were running in different directions, both were just as dynamic as the other.

I found myself leaving Lamppost with a feeling of being honored to know people who are willing to go to these kind of lengths for their ministry. And dare I say it, jealous. I'd love to be with these people and pursue their pursuits with them. Someday, maybe.

The other thought I had last night was how wonderful it is that there are so many different ways to have a ministry. I always roll my eyes when people say they don't know where to start in finding what God wants them to do. Seriously? Guess what? It doesn't matter. The thing that matters is the starting. Complaining on the outside is simply a diversion to get you out of being involved. God is not limited to a short list of ways to be effective. Brother and Sister, that list doesn't have an end.

No real question to leave you with in this post... just wanted to share some observations.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Nothing to Something

By the multitude of comments on that last post, it seems the dark mood I was in and the dark sense of humor that went with it was a little too much. The ironic part is I wrote about nothing and that's the response I got. Made me chuckle.

I do want to deeply thank those of you who took the time to let me know you were thinking about and praying for me. It does the spirit good to know people care about you. So thank you, all of you.

And for those that asked, I'm doing a little better today. The steroids seem to be affecting the swelling and my ankles and feet are slowly feeling better. The only bad thing is that I seemed to have broken a bunch of blood vessels when the skin was stretched so tight and now I have red, spotty bruises all over my feet and lower legs. It looks freaky. Also, I seemed to have incurred a bunch of tiny tears in the skin on the top of my feet. So now those either have to heal or could turn into some weird stretch marks. Only time will tell.

Again, thank you to those who have been concerned. It means a lot to me.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A big bag of, "Thanks for nothing."

I shouldn't be so negative, but I'm finding it hard not to be. So I had my third doctor's appointment in as many weeks and got the same diagnosis. Post-viral something. From what? No answers. But I did find out the medication the doctor had me on the past week was possibly adding to the intense swelling. Thanks for nothing, Doc.

To add insult to literal injury, she decided to put me back on steroids. That's right, the medication she didn't want me on one week ago, I'm back on. That's right, the medication that was working, the one that took down the swelling, the one that made me feel a lot better, was the one she took me off of. Thanks for nothing, Doc.

One more pill she added to the list is a water pill. Now I've never taken a water pill, but I've heard it turns my body into water and will make me have to pee like a race horse. Tomorrow should be fun at work.

Of course I'm being a little light-hearted. I'm not mad at the Doctor, but I do have to wonder where her thought process was last week. I know she was trying to help, but where was the sense in prescribing a drug that "adds" to an existing problem?

So to update those that have asked, my ankles and feet are still horribly swollen and painful. My skin still feels like it's about to rip with every step I take. And my knees/hips still get stiff when I sit for too long. I'm mighty uncomfortable, but hopeful I can get better. Either that or I get to say, "Thanks for nothing."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Getting worse

I know talking too much about yourself is a surefire way to lose readers, but a few of you have expressed concern for me and want to know how I'm doing. If you're not in the latter group, this might be a post to skip.

I went to the doctor last Wednesday and she came up with the same diagnosis as the ER doctor: something post-viral. What kind of virus? No one can tell me. And it pisses me off. What the heck is going on with me? To answer my questions, she ordered some blood work and stuck me on a different pill. I started the pills the next morning after they took four vials of blood out of me, and then Laura and I headed to Columbus.

I guess the pills are working alright at reducing the joint pain, but they aren't stopping the horribly painful swelling. My ankles and feet are almost double their normal size and my skin hurts so bad. It literally feels like the skin is ripping every time I take a step. From the tops of my feet to the middle of my calves, the skin is bright red. The biggest problem with this is that the swelling is getting worse every day.

And to be as honest as a friend encouraged me to be, the intense swelling is scaring me. Scaring me to the point of tears on a daily basis. Why is this happening and what does it mean for my future? Will I ever be able to hike again? When can I get back in my garden? What if this doesn't stop? What if this takes away my ability to walk? I'm scared, friends. I'm really scared.

All that said, I'm trying to be strong for Laura. Tomorrow is her pinning ceremony; the culmination of nursing school. This is the woman who jumped into college after being out of school for ten years. This is the woman who jumped past her initial plan of an Associates Degree and the title of LPN, and then past a regular Bachelor's degree with a title of RN, to a better Bachelor's degree with the title of Advanced RN. This is the woman who worked sometimes seventy hours a week, went to school sixteen hours, and had a clinical schedule of twelve hours a week. This is the woman who one semester slept only three hours a night with a nap of two hours in the afternoon for the entire semester. She is such an impressive person and I am so proud of her. I need to be as strong as I can for her tomorrow night. It needs to be all about her. It's going to be hard.

I have another doctor's visit tomorrow afternoon to find out my lab test results and hopefully get some answers. Wish me luck. And thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Good news and Bad news

I just found out my Dad was able to get out of his hospital bed and into his wheelchair. That's a huge change from the weak shell of a man I visited a few weeks ago. He's got a long way to go, but this is great news. So exciting.

The bad news is that I'm not so lucky. My steroid pills only lasted six days with the last pill taken on Sunday morning. As my body came down from the pills my health grew increasingly worse. I'm going right back to being as bad off as I was before the pills. I'm really worried the steroids just masked the issue and I'm still really sick. I don't know what I'm going to do. All I know is that I'm getting worse by the hour.

Ell is trying to get me into the doctor but we're heading to Columbus on Thursday morning for a four day vacation so I don't have a lot of spare time. Normally we'd just change the dates of our trip but we already spent $300 we can't get back. Hopefully I can get in to see the doc tomorrow and then suffer through the pain. Hope, right? I really hate being sick and not knowing why. REALLY hate it.