Animals, Health, Things I've Learned

Allergy

I went to the pulmonary doctor this week because my primary care doctor is concerned that my asthma isn’t well controlled. She prescribed the Trelegy inhaler, which has another medicine in it compared to my other inhaler. The Trelegy inhaler is just one puff once a day, which is better than the 2 puffs twice a day the other one required.

They asked what respiratory allergies I have, and I’ve always known cat dander is one of them, along with grass, trees, mold, etc. The doctor ordered a blood allergy test and the results are a bit surprising. The normal range for cat dander is <=0.34 kU/L. Guess where my results landed? 19.40. That means I’m a bazillion times over the normal range for allergy to cat dander. Next was birch tree, at 15.00 (normal range <=0.34). Alder tree, grass, and oak tree also play a big part in causing my allergy problems. I grew up in an oak savannah surrounded by fields of grass, and we had 20 cats (outdoor) at one point and I enjoyed spending time with them. I mean, I’ve known I was allergic to cats and grass since I was a little girl (funny nobody ever said anything about the trees) but no wonder I’ve always been a mess of allergies! The asthma came along when I was 7 years old, about a year after we moved out to the country full of all the allergens. When I was young there were no asthma inhalers, and no helpful allergy meds that didn’t cause me to sleep all day. If I had an asthma attack I just had to suffer through it, until I was 11 or 12 years old and they invented albuterol rescue inhalers. Then they invented Seldane allergy pills in the late ’80s or so, and those were awesome. They took it off the market for some reason, which is too bad.

We had an aspen tree out in the front yard here for many years until half of it fell down. It was sort of two trees growing out of the same spot and the other one was leaning toward the neighbor’s, so The Hubs cut it down a couple of years ago. Aspen and birch are in the same family so it’s good that that tree is gone now. We also live in what used to be a walnut orchard with some really big walnut trees, but I am only at 0.10 kU/L (normal range <=0.34) for walnut, thank goodness, and the same for maple tree. Our neighbor has a huge maple tree that is on our side of his yard and it drops pollen like crazy all over our cars during the pollen season.

Other surprises included that I didn’t show as much of an allergy to dust mites as I thought I would, and that most of the mold allergens didn’t show much of a reaction. Whatever A. Alternata mold is showed up the highest at 6.87 kU/L (standard range <=0.34). Our valley is a fairly humid environment so fungi/mold is to be expected, but thankfully God has blessed us with a dry house. I’m concerned there may be mold in my office ceiling because of the roof leak above, but I haven’t seen any mold so far.

I had my tonsils and adenoids out when I was 5 years old because of chronic ear infections. I don’t know if those were caused by allergies or not. I remember being in the hospital eating grape Popsicles, and a lady from church brought me a Fisher Price Little People circus set. They wanted me to let a little girl with a broken arm play with some of the pieces and I remember not wanting to share, ha!

A really annoying thing about having allergies (other than, you know, not being able to breathe and stuff) is that my eyes are constantly itchy so I want to rub them. This causes bags under my eyes. My nose and the face around it is also always itchy. I have in the past gotten hives (urticaria) which caused my lip to swell up in a very strange manner. It happened at work when I was in my early 20s, and I actually walked a mile in the snow to go to the allergy doctor (I walked to work so didn’t have my car with me, and wanted to make sure the doctor saw my swollen lip before it went away). The result of that appointment was that my hives had “no known cause”. Hmph.

So unfortunately my allergies will have to stay around for awhile, specifically the cat dander allergy. Philip isn’t going anywhere that we know of, and we love him so. He is especially a daddy’s boy and would be sad if he had to go to a new home, and I wouldn’t want to put him through that. <Ahchoo! Snif> excuse me — I might just have to find a way to keep him out of our bedroom though. And I should set the Roomba to vacuum more. I do take an allergy pill (Xyzal) and that keeps some of the allergies at bay.

Philip and his Daddy

Also, Happy Groundhog Day! I’m up too early to know if Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow, but I hope spring is just around the corner!

Punxsutawney Phil – famous rodent meteorologist
Do Not Want, Health

Shot

Well, I finally did it. I got the “old-person shot”, the shingles shot. Shingles is a reactivation of the chickenpox virus in the body, and it causes all sorts of pain and a rash, It can lead to nerve damage as well. I had chickenpox as a child and didn’t like the thought of having something worse, which is what shingles is. There are two shots in the series, you have to get the second one 2-6 months after the first one.

I got the shot on Tuesday, and immediately started to feel yucko. I was tired and achy and all my joints hurt. These are common side effects of the shot, according to the information sheet I was given by the nurse. The very same nurse said, however, that I shouldn’t have any side effects. She was terribly, horribly wrong. I remembered that Marnie’s Hubs had had the shot as well and asked her if he had any side effects. She said his were the same as mine and that his arm hurt for a week. Neither he nor I are looking forward to the second shot in the series!

Here is a photo of where the nurse gave me the shot. See how it’s a bit red down and to the left there? It still hurts. It actually hurts worse than it did right after I got the shot. I probably should wave my arm around in the air to get the blood moving more.

You might have side effects, and it will probably hurt.

Now it is Thursday morning and I still feel achy and tired, although a bit better. Don’t let the side effects deter you from getting the shot though, as from what I understand the rash itself is very nasty and can cause all sorts of lingering problems. Mom had it back in April and she still has pain and itchiness from it. I decided not to put a photo from the internet of the actual rash, because ew, it’s not nice to look at.

I did receive an information form, which I accidentally left in the car and didn’t read until yesterday, afternoon. Here is an excerpt from it:

Some extra Advil helped me feel a bit better and I was able to do some shopping yesterday. I went to the St. Vinnie’s thrift store and what do you think I found? THREE 1930s Nancy Drew books with the dust covers still on and in good condition! And for only $3.49 apiece! I didn’t take photos of the books yet and now I’m at Mom and Dad’s, so I’ll post about the books soon.

Bible, Christian Life, Health, Life

Reflection

Since our PCT thru-hike attempt and our subsequent Oregon section attempt, I’ve been reflecting on the purpose of it and what I should do now. I spent most of my non-work time for seven years planning for our thru-hike and thinking about it every day, and now I sort of feel like I’m in limbo. I haven’t thought of another BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal, as my parents’ pastor puts it) to plan for and right now I’m just not doing much at all.

We weren’t able to conquer last time. But shouldn’t I be doing this? And better still, SHOULDN’T I BE DOING IT IN CAPITAL LETTERS?

I like to be productive, and while I get my eight or nine hours of sleep a night (early to bed, early to rise!) when I’m awake I prefer to be accomplishing something. So I keep asking God, “What are you calling me to do? What’s the next thing? What thing should I be planning for now?”

Seriously, I completely, totally do.

Something I’ve noticed recently is that I’m just tired. I’m not a super high-energy person generally, but I seem to feel more regularly tired than I did before our hiking attempts. After our four-mile beach walk on Saturday I came home much more weary than I should have been. I couldn’t get going on any other projects even though we got home early in the day.

So I’ve been trying to figure out what God wants me to do next, and what I’m sensing is that I should rest, take a sabbatical (a break or change from normal routine) from planning. I really enjoy planning, so I’m constantly running over things in my mind. I’m the one who starts packing a month before the trip, ha. Rest is defined as “peace, ease or refreshment.” My brain has been on one track for so long, I think it really needs that refreshment. I will plan for small things like holidays, and will rest from planning big things like thru-hikes. I will be able to put more energy into serving at church, studying God’s Word, dealing with some health-related issues, and reading more books. I will still do my transcription work, but will more available to others. I will endeavor to learn how to trust and hope in God completely. I will be able to put my heart into all these things more than I did when I had a big event constantly on my mind. I look forward to wisdom gained and strength renewed!

28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:28-31

Backpacking, Change, Health, hiking

Toes

I don’t have much to report today, except that I had my right big toenail removed on Tuesday. It kept trying to grow a new toenail but didn’t succeed in getting very far, so there were layers of toenail that kept trying to grow. (I don’t remember any trauma to the toe, so the origin of the problem is a mystery.) The nail had also mostly separated from the toe, so the podiatrist thought removing it would be the best option in hopes that it will grow back in a normal fashion. He actually showed me his toe that was growing a nice new nail after he lost it in a mountain biking accident. I don’t know if you’ve ever had a toenail removed, if you have you know that there are shots involved. The doctor sprayed my toe with cold spray, then put two or three shots in my toe. (It hurt a bunch, I’m not gonna lie. I gritted my teeth and closed my eyes tightly so I couldn’t see what he was doing.) The reason they have to give your toe more than one shot is that they don’t know for sure which nerve will hurt when removing the toenail.

After waiting a few minutes for the anesthetic to kick in, the doctor came back in and popped the toenail right off. I didn’t feel a thing really, the shots did their job. Then he bandaged it all up very effectively and I left the office with no toenail. I waited 24 hours like the doctor said and then took off the bandage to look at the toe. It didn’t look very nice at all, so I immediately put another bandage on it. The yellow stuff on my foot in the photo is the solution the nurse used to clean the area before the doctor took the nail off.

A good bandage.

Though it didn’t hurt when the doctor took the toenail off, it is uncomfortable now. I had a hike planned this Saturday to Duffy Lake (the site of my very first backpacking trip, when I was 21!) but decided not to go as it isn’t an easy hike and we would have to cross a river, and I didn’t want to wade in and get germs on my toe. Hopefully I can get some easy walks in around the neighborhood in the next few days.

Have you ever had a toenail removed? How long did it take to recover and be hike ready? Comment below!

Aging, Baffled, Health, Life, Memories, Miscellaneous, Observations, Poetry

The Rime of the Ancient 40-Year Old Person

Based on Part 1 of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

The mirror – it startles me. (I wrote this poem 12 years ago today.  To say the mirror startles me now is an understatement.)

Skull or Lady in Mirror

It is an ancient, common tale,
And we do not like to think
That our lustrous hair and lovely eye
May someday be extinct.

Our big bright eyes were open wide,
And we were cute and thin;
We did not fret, the mirror showed
Pink cheeks and glowy skin.

It held us there in happiness
“Yes, I approve,” it said.
And thoughts of aging gracefully
Were put into our heads.

It holds me now in disbelief,
I gasp when I stand still,
And catch a glimpse of how it shows
Its lack of kind goodwill.

My heart is sinking like a stone,
I cannot choose but hear,
And thus cackles that shiny fiend
“You’re not the same, my dear!”

Then I was cheered, my face had cleared,
Of spots and pimply beasts,
Below though, they were lurking,
To get me while I sleep.

The sun is up now in the east,
Out of my bed I crawl,
And see a face reflected that
Just isn’t me at all!

Higher and higher every day,
My expectations loomed.
I’d diet, I’d fuss, I’d stay for hours
In the exercising room.

Frustrated, I pace back and forth,
Red in the face, I sigh.
The scale, who is not my friend,
Shows me an all-time high!

“I’ve worked so hard, I do not know
What gives, for heaven’s sake?”
And thus goes on the ancient rhyme
From night until I wake.

Now a storm-blast, not a smile,
Assails me when I think,
That I’m NOT aging gracefully,
The opposite, I think!

I’ve sloping masts and dipping prow,
I’ve crow’s feet, lines; I’m pudgy.
These thoughts just make me want to eat
Some pie, or something fudgy.

I should turn back, loud roars the snack,
(I ate it, now it’s quiet!)

And now there is a misty fog,
My vision’s getting blur’y.
The eye doctor said “It’s just age,”
And told me not to worry.

It really seems just yesterday
That I was seventeen.
No shape of what I used to be
The mirror is all between.

The mirrors are here, the mirrors are there,
The mirrors are all around:
They mock and laugh, and roar and howl,
My self-respect is down!

At length did sneak the wrinkles,
Through the years they came;
As they had been a horrid smell,
I curse them, but in vain.

I ate chocolate to comfort me,
Chubby and plump I grew.
My jeans did split with a thunder-fit;
But I would not buy new!

And a good dose of denial came by,
“You’ll be fit again!” did follow,
But every day, I was still plump
In sadness I still wallow.

In mist or cloud, in sun or gray,
Age perched to stare at me;
While overnight, I’d think each morn,
It multiplied times three.

“God save thee, ancient lady,
From your loss of self-esteem! –
Why look’st thou so?” — “I’m old, and lo!
I bought the hundred-dollar cream!”

~Noelle Marier  ©2010