Saturday, June 13, 2009

Wow! What a Weird Month

It’s been quite a harrowing time around here. About a month ago, my Sweetie’s mother and brother were in a car crash. His brother was just a bit shaken up, but his mother, who is in her seventies, sustained a broken back and internal injuries. We drove up to Chicago to help out when she came home from the hospital. He has two brothers and a sister. Both brothers and two grandchildren live with her (one brother is going through a divorce), and we took over her care when the one who had been in the car with her went back to work. I helped around the house while Raymond cared for his mother. (She’s a very shy and insular person, and since we’re not married, I’m not family.) One benefit was that I bonded with his fifteen year-old niece, and another is that one of his brothers got free tickets to a Cubs game that weekend, and we got to go. Woo Hoo! Cubs won! We came home for a week, then went back up to help out a second week. And that’s when my problems started.

Driving home from Chicago, we were on the Tollway in a construction zone with no shoulders when it sounded as though there were rocks under the hood. We drove that way for a minute or two, then suddenly I lost my power steering, my water light went on and a moment later, my temperature gauge hit the red and pinged at me. We were about two miles from an exit and somehow I managed to coax the car along and turn off the main road onto the exit ramp and the shoulder with steam billowing from the right side of the hood. I knew I was risking doing more damage under the hood that way, but I figured it beat getting creamed by stopping in the middle of the traffic and being rear-ended by someone doing 70. We waited a couple of hours for a tow truck and the driver took us to a friend’s garage where I think we got scalped, and I don’t think they did the work right because I’m having more problems with the car. The serpentine belt had broken and they replaced two pullies as well as the water pump, which my daughter told me her boyfriend replaced last summer.

However, my judgment was clouded, as I injured my back climbing into the impossibly high tow truck. The VA said the x-rays showed that I had damaged but not herniated a disc. That, however, was a full week after the injury, and the least of my problems. When I got home, I figured that if I went to the ER the docs would tell me that I’d pulled something and send me home with pain meds and tell me to rest. I had pain meds at home (left over from an eye problem last fall) so I took them and rested. By Monday, the pain had spread from my lower back to my upper back and abdomen. I have a history of urinary infections and kidney stones so I went to the civilian ER in Champaign and told the docs that I thought I may have a pulled muscle and a kidney infection. They palpated my back, found tenderness in the area of my right kidney and a lower vertebra, took a urine specimen, and sent me home with muscle relaxers, antibiotics and more pain pills and told me to rest. By the weekend I was in agony, but I had an appointment at the VA on Monday, so I decided to just keep doing what I was doing and address it then. That very nearly cost me my life.

I hate water. I mostly drink flavored sparkling water, but I ran out and I didn’t have the energy to go out and buy more. Besides—even if I liked water, it hurt too much to get up and go into the kitchen to get a drink, and I doubt I could have lifted a pitcher of iced tea or filtered water. Sunday evening, I phoned a friend and asked if she could drive me to the VA which is about 45 miles from home, as I did not feel up to driving, and Raymond is legally blind. She agreed and by the time we got there, my mouth was so dry I could barely form words. My blood pressure was 80/40, which is quite low and an indication of dehydration. The VA did x-rays, another urinalysis, and blood work. The x-ray showed the damaged disk, and the blood work showed that I was in acute kidney failure. Had I waited another day to go in, I may well have died. The docs said that my kidneys have been damaged by all of the medication I’ve been on for so long and cut my meds in half. Of course, they admitted me. They kept me on IVs the whole time I was there, which re-hydrated me and brought my kidney function back up to about 60% which is not optimal, but OK. I don’t need dialysis or a transplant or anything like that. I came home two days later and have been lectured on the negatives of pop (including the flavored water I’ve been drinking) and the virtues of water by everyone with whom I’ve spoken since then.

I don’t know whether it’s the release from the pain I was in that week or what, but for the most part, I actually feel better on less medication. I am concerned about my diabetes, however, as they have taken me off of all diabetic medication since my last blood test was in the normal range. I argued that it was in the normal range because I was on medication and they said they’d been monitoring it while I was in the hospital and it had stayed normal there. I argued that I hadn’t liked much of the hospital food and hadn’t eaten much while I was there. They told me to keep a log of my blood glucose levels and blood pressure and to follow up in the clinic in a week. It will have to be a two week follow up, since I am going on a spiritual retreat in the Ozarks (leaving tonight) and will have to wait until I return to see the doctor.

So, that’s what’s going on in my world. I haven’t gotten much writing done in the last two weeks, and I’m really glad that I don’t have any editing deadlines to meet right now. I’m currently working on Crystal Lady, a contemporary romance which I may or may not publish under my own name, since I will need a new tag-line for the contemporary genre. But all of that will come with time. I have a very rough first draft and am working on the re-write, which I hope to finish by August first, and then send to a critique partner.

Meanwhile, my blog is open to guests. Please let me know what week you’d like and whether you’d like to blog on a topic or answer my interview questions. See you on the authors’ loops when I return home.

And don't forget: Rock Bound is still available at Red Rose Publishing!

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