Tag Archives: Medical Center

Pushing On

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So, what is it now, that has kept me away from writing? I’ve been busy, sure, and tired. There have been a lot of things going on here on Beaver Island, and in my life.

Saturday, for instance. I worked at the hardware store. It was our busiest – by far – day this year. The side of the building has become a nursery, with stacking shelves arranged under a sun shade for perennials and shrubs, annual flowers, vegetables and herbs. Folks were flocking in to our store for necessities for lawn and garden plans as well as all the usual painting, plumbing and home repair projects.

I had started the day loading art work in the car, so that I could drop it off at the Beaver Island Gallery, on its first open day of the season. I did that in the early afternoon, just before running out to attend the memorial gathering to honor my friend, Roy. I then ran to the point, to attend the annual shareholder’s meeting of the Beaver Island Boat Company. Then, back to the hardware to finish my work day.

Home, I changed clothes, doused up with mosquito repellent, and headed for the garden. I’ve been forcing myself to get in at least an hour of work out there every evening, no matter how much I want to collapse. Saturday, I raked, dug stubborn weeds, hauled away another wheelbarrow full of roots, and assembled a raised bed for my strawberry plants, before coming in to shower. I ate dinner in my pajamas, and was in bed not long after.

In addition to long and busy days, I’ve had a few side-line inconveniences that have further complicated my life. I picked up a tick, while working in the garden, and didn’t discover it until it was firmly embedded in the skin of my inner thigh, and fairly well engorged with my blood. That was the most traumatic (and gross!) thing that has happened to me in quite some time! A trip to the medical center, a dose of strong antibiotic, a few instructions about prevention and how to handle it should it ever happen again, and I was on my way…though the nightmares continue.

My car is in the shop for repairs. That has caused me to be using vehicles that I’m not familiar with (Oh! No cup-holder? And where is the knob for windshield wipers?), changing one car for another, begging rides from here to there, and sometimes walking. It’s not a big deal. It will all be over soon, and I’ll have my own dusty, messy car back, with a nice fat repair bill to boot!

Next, my little dog, having worked herself into a frenzy over having her nails clipped, managed to get out of my grasp…and bit me. By the next morning, redness and swelling made another trip to the medical center necessary. “It was an accident,” I explained, “she was trying to bite the vet.” My tetanus vaccine was still good; another dose of antibiotic, and I was finished. All dog bites have to be reported, so next came a visit from the deputy. My dogs are up to date on all of their shots. Still, according to standard protocol, Rosa Parks had to be placed in quarantine (“House arrest,” I told her) for ten days. No rides to visit the inland lakes; no walks down the Fox Lake Road. “That’s what you get,” I tell her, without sympathy.

Yesterday, it rained. That put all yard work on hold. After coming home from work, I took a lovely, long nap. I got up in time to feed the dogs and make my own supper, then went shortly right back to bed. Today, I feel rested, and like I just might make it. The sun is shining. The grass is desperately in need of being cut. The dogs and I could all use some outdoor time. That’s where I’ll be, then, for the rest of this day.

 

Camping

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It was my own fault.

I thought I was stronger than I am.

Or younger.

More able.

Or super-human.

A couple weeks ago, I spent several days organizing a corner of the basement at the hardware store. I needed to make room for the multitude of grills that my boss purchased at the trade show this year. Some were being stored in the lumber building; some were still due to be shipped. They were all going to have to fit in the basement. In addition, they all needed to be visible and accessible, so that they could be sold, pulled out and assembled. I decided to combine that task with some much-needed re-organization.

Knowing my age and physical limitations, and that of some of the other employees, I felt it was necessary to arrange the large buckets of drywall mud (weighing up to 65 pounds each), bags of ice melt and water-softener salt (40-50 pounds) and other things in such a way that a person would not have to climb over, shimmy through or reach and heft over other stuff in order to get any of it out. I arranged it in neat, accessible aisles that a hand cart would fit through, so there would also not be reason to carry anything long distance. I cleared the pathway in front of those aisles so that the large UPS cart could be pushed all the way to the back, to pick up automotive batteries, 5 gallon buckets of paint or bags of floor leveler.

The young guys moved the grills in to the spot I had opened up for them, one day while I minded the store upstairs. Then the ferry boat made its first run of the season on Wednesday, with a good load of freight for the hardware store…including another pallet full of grills.

It was in putting away that freight that I noticed  I had no space for the grills.  I couldn’t get down the pathway with the UPS cart. I know I said I wanted that space clear. I’m pretty sure I mentioned that I was going to make room for the other large items in the plumbing area. But no, in the space designated for grills – and blocking access to the back of the basement with a cart – were three large air conditioners and five hot water heaters.

That’s when I forgot I was not super-human.

That’s when I got the hand cart and single-handedly moved three large air conditioners and five hot water heaters to the plumbing area. Then I got the pallet jack and moved the pallet of grills to the spot where they belonged. John came to help me move the grills. Lifting together, we were moving the second one when my back went out.

John’s an old hand with back trouble. He ordered me to stop immediately. I half-walked,  half-crawled up the stairs and went directly to the phone to call the Medical Center. They got me in that same day. I left there with prescriptions for pain medicine and muscle relaxers, instructions to spend at least the next two days flat on my back, applying heat and ice alternately for ten minutes each.

Not being the best at following instructions, I finished out my day at work (though there was no more heavy lifting and moving) then went to the library to get a few movies. Home, there was one more thing I had to do before I dared stop. My bed is terrible when my back is out. It’s too soft, and the stairs are hard to navigate. The couch is better, but not for sleeping on my back. I dragged the twin bed mattress out of the attic and down the stairs. I laid it out on the living room floor, added sheets and comforter. I moved the lamp, TV and coffee table, so that I could access everything I might need. Only then did I take the prescribed medicine, which tends to knock me out.

I’m getting a little better each day. Rosa Parks is loving it. The entire living room is now covered with things she can sleep on. What seems like “sick bay” to me, to my little dog seems just like camping!

Old Age…or Life in the Woods?

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Odd question, right?

Of course I’m old. Not that old…but old enough.

My house was built on the front, semi-cleared area of a woodlot. This was a farmstead over a hundred years ago. Large maple trees with rock piles at their bases mark the old boundaries of the plowed fields. Still, the woods want to move back in.

We removed a dozen small trees to make space for the foundation of this little house.  In the thirty years since, I have removed a dozen more – as well as over a hundred wild juniper – to make room for a garden, and to have a small lawn. I’m having three overgrown, diseased wild cherry trees removed this year, along with a pine tree that is threatening to take out my electrical service in every big wind.

Clearly, I live in the woods.

So, two questions; the answer to both is yes. One would think one has nothing to do with the other. And yet…

My sister, Brenda has developed “floaters”. Fortunately, I developed them several years ago, so I could enlighten and advise.

Brenda is one year and twenty days older than me. She hit puberty a full three years before I did. She reached adulthood at least ten years ahead of me. Maybe more. Being the oldest child in our large family, Brenda had to grow up fast, to allow me and the other younger siblings our “slacker” childhood.

She may be making up for that now.

Retired, Brenda is having quite a bit of fun.  She and her husband are on their way to Seattle right now, to get on a cruise ship. And, although (did I mention?) she is one year and twenty days older than me, Brenda is far behind me in all areas of aging, from menopause to wrinkles. Now it’s the “floaters.”

There was no one to advise me. It is one of those aspects of aging that nobody talks about. Until you are diagnosed. Then everyone says, “Oh, that, yes that’s been driving me crazy for years.”

It makes me wonder what other secrets are waiting.

Floaters, in case you don’t know, are caused by the stiffening and separation of layers of the eyeball, usually due to age. It causes the afflicted to see tiny dark spots moving in their peripheral vision, randomly and annoyingly.

Because no one had advised me of this, and because I live in the woods, I didn’t know I had floaters.

I thought it was “no-see-ums.”

No-see-ums: the tiny black, biting gnats that come out in swarms in the Spring of the year. Because the wind will carry them away, they like to get inside the ears, behind the eyeglasses, under the collar or at the hairline. There, they take an enormous bite with their tiny jaws, usually leaving blood running and an itchy welt.

They look amazingly the same as floaters.

For months, I was waving away insects. I was complaining to others, “aren’t the no-see-ums terrible this year?” and “do they always last this long into the Fall?”

Finally, it started to dawn on me that this was a vision issue rather than a living-in-the-woods problem.

Then I wondered about a detached retina. Or a stroke. Or several other scary scenarios.

Lucky Brenda – not living in the woods – thought about stroke right away!

I went to the Medical Center, and then to the Eye Doctor. Everyone assured me that it was a normal – albeit secret – part of aging. They told me coping strategies that I was later able to pass on to Brenda, in my new role of  “expert on aging.”

Now, this year, after what seemed like an exceptionally long winter, Spring has arrived on Beaver Island. What a noisy Spring it has been, too!

I’d lay down at night and hear loud chirping. Such pleasant sounds of the season! Birds…at night? Was it the little peepers? Crickets? I read somewhere this was going to be a tremendous year for Cicadas. Maybe I was hearing Cicadas.

After several nearly sleepless nights spent trying to decide what life form was making the sounds that were keeping me awake, I decided to try earplugs. No offense to Spring and all of the sounds of the season, but I need my sleep.

Oddly enough, the sounds are just as loud with ears plugged.

Come to find out, once again this has nothing to do with living in the woods.

It seems I have Tinnitus.

I’ve heard, at least, of Tinnitus.  A problem of the inner ear (most often associated with age) that results in a buzzing or ringing in the ear.

Or, as in my case, the sound of Springtime in the woods.