Fenestration, Ortho-statics, and Bilirubin – Oh MY!

Remember those “famous last words” in my most recent post about this being a busy week, but hopefully much less surprising? Yeh… right! I know that this week could technically have been even more tumultuous, but if it had been, I’m not sure I’d be here writing a blog post right now.

Monday was my first day teaching the Baby Surprise Jacket at my LYS. Of course, first day of a class series always has its trials and triumphs, but I had fun. However, class did run WAY over time, and I ended up late to Guild meeting trying to grab a fast food supper on the way. Then I arrived to a very dark venue, due to Candace’s slide show. Instead of sneaking in unobserved, the program was interrupted and the lights turned on while someone located an empty chair for me. Blush…

Tuesday we drove to Cincinnati to look at some fenestration options. This would be my first new word for the week, and it has to do with the art/science of windowing a house. This is an unexpected emergency project, basically because we have one window we simply can’t close, and we are relatively sure that winter will eventually arrive here…

We are planning to replace just this window and one other that is broken at this point, and we’ve chosen to use Marvin windows. We were going to do more, but it seems that the contractor Marsh Builders recommended must not need work right now. He’s still not called to set up an appointment to measure our openings, despite my second call to the company, and it looks at this point as if it’s going to be physically impossible for him to get them installed before the end of the year deadline for the tax credit, since there is a 4 week lead time just to get the windows – without holidays. No energy credit is sort of a deal breaker on spending more right now. I guess it would have been a good thing to have known about that credit before last weekend… sigh… Now we’d just like someone to do SOMETHING for us before this rather big pane of glass hits the ground two stories down…

or we have to stow a snow shovel in the hallway upstairs. 😉

Wednesday brought my bulldozing buddy, who is helping me work through the decluttering project. It’s amazing how hard and how long we can work, and how exhausted I can be at the end of the day, and yet feel like we got through such a small percentage of the problem. I can’t be anything except unbelievably grateful for the help I’m getting though. This is so far beyond my ability to conquer alone, and it’s a marvel to have someone come alongside me and help. 🙂 There are actually moments once in a while when I think it might even be possible to get my life back. What a miracle that would be!

Then came Thursday. Not long after I woke up, I received a phone call that my father-in-law, who lives more than an hour away, had been rushed to the hospital via ambulance, condition unknown – and for that matter, hospital unknown – but symptoms sounding as if he might have had a stroke. Thankfully, I finally located him, and after three days in the hospital he was released. Instead of TIA’s or a small stroke, he was having ortho-static (next new word for the week) problems – blood pressure/dizziness related stuff, particularly evident when he changed “altitude” by sitting or standing. Much easier fix than the stroke we were fearing, but this was still definitely more stress than either hubby or I needed, especially since we ended up spending all day Friday touring senior care facilities in his area. Though he’s home for now, we are going to learn first hand what it’s like to move a parent into a retirement/care community and break up a household established some 60 years ago – long distance and before the year is over. It’s going to be a very challenging 5 weeks to 2011.

Now Friday had actually felt rather positive. We found a place we really loved for my FIL, nice enough I even thought I might be able to live there – presuming I could get two apartments so I had room for my dolls and yarn and fleece and fabric… – and when we stopped to visit at the hospital, he was looking and feeling much better. We stopped for our first meal in 10 hours, celebrating with a rare treat, a Cassano’s pizza, which was simply marvelous. As we left the restaurant and were getting into my car, hubby’s phone rang with a call from Daughter#2. This was odd, as she was supposed to be spending her birthday on a Caribbean island and had told me not to bother calling, as she wouldn’t be answering her phone. My heart was in my throat in an instant, and it stayed there for many hours to come. Instead of being in Dominica, she and her husband had just arrived at the airport in Baltimore on an emergency flight home and were making a mad dash to the hospital. The ship’s doctor had diagnosed a life-threatening condition that she felt couldn’t wait even another day. If you’ve never been in this situation, let me tell you that hearing your daughter’s liver isn’t functioning, her bilirubin (At least I knew what this strange word was!) levels are sky high, she’s 8 hours away and in terrible pain, and on top of it all, she has just lost a fantasy vacation and it’s her birthday, no less… well… it’s definitely one of the worst feelings I’ve ever had in my life – and my reserves were already shot with my father-in-law’s situation!

Happily, at this writing, my daughter is in much better condition than she was two days ago. She’s discovered the grand world of endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography. In layman’s terms, she had a camera for lunch on Saturday. 😉 Under anesthesia, a camera was fed down her throat and eventually to a place where her liver and pancreas could be examined. During the procedure, they were able to locate and remove a large gallstone that had lodged in an important duct in her liver. The pain is gone, but she has a killer sore throat – probably a good swap, in all honesty. She’s still not eaten since Wednesday, and sometime Monday she’ll be bidding adieu to the hooligan gall bladder that started all the trouble in the first place. One of the things I learned this week is that gall bladder problems aren’t just a pain; they can be a life-threatening problem.

Suffice it to say, after all this I’m trying very hard not to try to imagine what lies in wait for me this coming week. However, God has seen us through an impossible week. My Sunday has been a blessed oasis – the first thing anywhere near a “normal” day I’ve had in nearly a month. In a few hours, it all begins again, but today I’ve felt peace, hope, and much enveloping love and prayer from a myriad of online friends and acquaintances, and for this moment, that’s been enough.


My Final Souvenir

So July 23, I found myself in a very unusual state of mind. I was heading home from a trip and actually excited about the prospect. Four major trips this year has been an exhausting marathon, and I was more than ready to crash for a few days, then figure out in which cupboard I’d locked away normal life. I’ve not completely unpacked from any of the trips this year, my annual goals are growing mold, I have well over 10,000 emails in the inbox of my most used email account, and I have a desperate need to generate a lot of income – fast. Besides, Chicago, as much I loved what I saw on my first trip there, was stinking hot, which was making sightseeing a miserable chore instead of a pleasure. So it was with a light step (at least in my mind) that I walked out the door of the yarn shop, heading for the bus that would take me to the train to O’Hara airport.

And about 3 heartbeats later, I felt myself floating through the air, anticipating the impending collision with a Chicago sidewalk.

I’m not kidding about the floating thing. I remember wondering why I wasn’t falling faster and harder. My guardian angel did a really great job, all things considered. 🙂 Still, gravity won and I eventually found myself sprawled face down, surrounded by a cluster of people who seemed to have materialized out of nowhere, all asking at the same time if I was alright. Of course, that’s human nature and the right thing to do, but at that moment, even if I could have spoken, I didn’t know the answer, and I thought it oddly humorous. However, once they coaxed me into a sitting position and I saw my leg, I found myself asking exactly the same question, and I couldn’t fault the several who were wanting to call an ambulance. Within seconds of my impact, a totally amazing transformation had occurred on my shin, making it appear someone had slapped a large, thick slab of biscuit dough across the front of it. However, my assets consisted of $21 and an airplane ticket; I had to get home if it was humanly possible. So, with a decidedly foul look at the unmarked, oddly placed step that had been my downfall, I asked my rainbow entourage to help me to the restaurant next door, and before I had time to thank them or even see most of their faces, they’d delivered me and my luggage to a table just inside the door and vanished as quickly as they’d appeared – with one exception. Don (or was it Dan?)had apparently parked illegally when he saw me go down, and he risked a ticket to stay with me for the first 15-20 minutes of ice packs and ice water and post injury shaking. I wish there was a way to better thank him now that my head is clear, and Don in the Loyola polo, if you ever happen to read this, please know you were appreciated far beyond my ability to express it. I’m more inclined to think that God will be the one to orchestrate the repayment, and he’ll probably never know it came from me… but that’s okay. 🙂

The next few hours were a whirlwind of unique experiences and angels wearing skin, and I’m so grateful for every one of them. The restaurant didn’t charge me for any of the service they provided. Though I rarely get her on the first call, when I phoned my best friend, she answered my sobbing call from the bus stop. I desperately needed someone who knew me to know what was happening, not to mention how much I needed to hear the voice of someone I knew. (Doesn’t hurt that she’s a veteran ER/trauma nurse, either!) The fact that a Chicago bus driver stopped BETWEEN bus stops to let me off exactly at the top of the stairway down to the train is definitely miraculous! As I stepped off the bus, a woman appeared out of nowhere and asked if she could carry my bag down the stairs for me. It happened so quickly, I’m not even sure how she knew I needed the help, and then, after she put me on the elevator and said she’d meet me on the platform, I never saw her again, giving much credence to my angel theory. 🙂 The train, though full, maintained just enough space that I could sit with my leg up on my suitcase and under an icepack during the 45-minute or so ride to the airport. Although I had a nightmarish walk shuffle from the train into the terminal, before it was over, a cleaning lady, who spoke only Spanish, rushed to my aid, taking over my suitcase and running ahead to summon me an elevator. I was SO glad I have some Spanish to my credit, as it was fun to see her eyes light up when she found we could converse. 🙂

Once I hit the terminal, things started getting easier, which was a very good thing, considering my flight was to leave in just 50 minutes. There were two TSA agents near the door of the elevator, and while one summoned a wheelchair and headed off to get my boarding pass, the other helped me get to a chair. By the time I was rolled up to my gate, I found that the flight had been delayed by the impressive electrical storm I’d been watching from the train, and though I regretted having to wait, I did appreciate having some time to collect myself a bit. Besides, I was making some really good progress on the scarf I was knitting. 😉 In the end, our flight was delayed nearly 3 hours, but it could have been much worse. The people who were flying to Cleveland saw theirs canceled! The woman beside me was heading there for her brother’s funeral, and my heart was breaking for her to have to deal with all the additional stress this caused. The woman beside her had even more problems. I figure God put me in the right place at the right time, though. 🙂 She was also on the Cleveland flight, and when it was canceled, she got a little panicky. That’s when I found out that she didn’t speak English either! In fact, it turned out in the end that she was from Latvia – and no, I don’t speak Latvian! She did seem to understand a bit of the German I tried, but the biggest service I was able to provide was to offer the use of my cell phone. She asked me to call the number she had written on a piece of paper, and when I reached her relative, I was able to explain the situation to her. We went back and forth several times with this long distance interpreter, then the gate agent did the same, and as my momentary friend headed off to a new gate after getting reticketed, she stopped for a moment with a smile and tears in her eyes to express her appreciation via a big, fat chocolate bar that had traveled with her from her homeland. I was so touched that I about cried!

Sitting for several hours at the gate wasn’t very good for my leg, and it was a bit embarrassing to have to call for a wheelchair escort so I could go to the bathroom and get a bite to eat, but I survived, partially because of the incredibly sweet fellow who arrived to be my chariot driver. He was a gem! Then there was the plane… The Chicago/Columbus hop is short and done on a puddle jumper – 50 seat Embraer. They aren’t comfy under the best of circumstances, and they are miserable under bad ones! I was moved to the bulkhead seat, but it was on the left side, so I had to sit sideways in a too small seat. We didn’t get off the ground for nearly an  hour after boarding, and I had no ice and no elevation – not good! Once we were finally in the air, the flight attendant got her own suitcase out of the cupboard and put it under my leg, and even though there was no food service on the flight, she got me water so I could take my Tylenol. I also started chilling, and she dug out her own sweater to cover me, then when we were near to landing, she prepared an icebag to see me home. That lady deserves a HUGE gold star for all she did to make my situation a little less miserable!

Bad thing is that by the time we landed, my leg had swollen to the point that I was totally non-ambulatory; my knee and ankle refused to flex more than a couple of degrees, and since my knee was bent and my ankle straight, it was hopeless. After the shuttle driver took me right to my car instead of dropping me in the aisle as he’d done the rest of the vanload, a cell phone photo and phone consultation with my nurse friend – not to mention the fact that I’d have not been able to get into my house if I’d gone home anyway – convinced me that I had no choice but to go to the emergency room. Anyone who knows me, knows how hard of a decision that was for me, even though it was an obvious one! I really don’t know Columbus at all, so she got online and found a hospital for me, then looked it up on Googlemaps, talking me into it from her perch in Detroit. The ludicrous nature of going to the ER in this fashion helped take some of the sting out of the experience! The bad thing was that there is a lot of construction going on at the OSU hospital, and they don’t have the ER labeled well. An employee on the grounds misdirected me, and I ended up stuck in a parking garage with no way to get into the hospital. In retrospect, it’s almost hilarious, but at the time, it just caused me to finally break down and bawl. 😦 After driving in circles for a while, I finally parked near an elevator, and Joy looked up the hospital phone number. I would have loved to have seen the look on the operator’s face when I told her I was a non-ambulatory ER patient-to-be, stuck in the parking garage! It took 10-15 minutes, but eventually a security guard showed up to rescue me. He looked like a knight in shining armor to me by that point!

The next 12 hours were pretty typical emergency room stuff, I suppose, but since I wasn’t in pain unless I moved and wasn’t on medications, I actually enjoyed the show a lot between catnaps. I was in a 7-8 bed ward with 2 psych patients, a suicide attempt, a woman who insisted on sleeping instead of providing the necessary urine specimen, a fellow who was asking every few minutes when he could have more pain meds, and the narrator, who gave a rather loud running commentary on everything from his treatment to a jubilant “You’ve got a runner!” when one of the psych patients made a dash for the hall. The woman who wanted to sleep had a few things to say about this monologue, but I have to confess I found it somewhat amusing. It felt a lot like I’d landed inside a TV show at times, and it was good company for my knitting – which came home 21 inches longer than when I’d left home the previous Monday.

So, now I’m home, the accident was 17 days ago, and I’m using a cane instead of crutches, and the past few days, I’ve not needed an icepack. The leg has been – and still is – every color but pretty, and an ever changing kaleidoscope. It’s fascinating to watch the sometimes hourly changes in color as my body slowly deals with the misplaced fluids. I have a VERY impressive lump over my tibialis anterior – the big muscle running along the outside of my shin. It’s impossible to get a photo that shows how big it actually is, but this should give you at least some idea. Keep in mind that my entire leg is swollen in addition to the lump, which is so big itself that it takes my entire hand to cover it completely. The second picture shows my right leg as a comparison.

This photo was taken the second day that there was pooling in my foot. It looks a rather wimpy in comparison to what is there right now. It’s currently about thrice this size and MUCH brighter, but I don’t feel like coping with taking pix at the moment. On this particular day, even the bottom of my foot was discolored – a first for me!

After the first few days of improvement, healing leveled off, leading me to break down and go to a sports medicine center up in Dayton, where they told me everything looks normal, and that I need to be patient. This sort of injury takes WEEKS to heal, not just days. GRRRRR!!!!!! What I am dealing with is an intramuscular hematoma, and the doctor says I may have as much as 12 ounces of blood inside the muscle. That could explain a few things! The bad part of this is that as soon as my leg goes vertical, it starts to swell and hurt, so I’ve been a couch potato for the past 2.5 weeks. Since my new laptop got sick a couple of days before my trip, I can only get online for a few minutes here and there without aggravating my leg beyond my tolerance level. (This post has taken me a week to write!) Good thing is that I’m getting a lot of knitting done; bad thing is that I’m going stir crazy! I love to knit, but I don’t necessarily like HAVING to knit! I’ll work on a knitting update here next, I think, as I’ve been more than a little bit productive. I miss my online friends and connections, and I have SO much I need to be doing… cleaning, remodeling, doll repair, earning some income…

About that break I’ve been needing so badly? 😉

Published in: on August 10, 2010 at 2:51 am  Comments (2)  
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