We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

Written By: Charles - Feb• 15•19

Imbolc                                                                       Valentine Moon

I had an influenza strength virus for ten days, then I really got sick. That’s my summary.


Year 72.1

Written By: Charles - Feb• 15•19

Imbolc                                                                       Valentine’s Moon

rag cutter with bales of cloth scraps

rag cutter with bales of cloth scraps

Starting my 73rd year feeling better. Better, of course, is relative. In this case relative to a lost two weeks. I mean that almost literally. The last two weeks were a fog. I know things happened. I know I did things. But what were those things? Mushed together in a perceptual porridge put through a blender. Indistinct.

Saw the doc yesterday. Left lobe cleared of pneumonia according to stethoscope. None in the right lobe. But wait! There’s more! Yes, another “incidental” finding. Atelectasis in my lower right lobe. Sounds ominous, right? Could be old, probably is. It means that some of the aveoli have collapsed.

When Tabitha listened to my lungs, she thought she heard pneumonia in my lower right lung. It was the atelectasis. So it’s significant. It can be the precursor to other bad things like lung cancer. Hope not. Still, when you consider my history. Smoker in my 20’s and early 30’s. Working in two different factories where asbestos and fiberglass were used. Cutting rags to make fine rag bond paper. I did this last job for a year or so and worked in a room filled with the dust from, of all things, Munsingware scraps from making underwear.

SEX-DRUGS-ROCK-N-ROLL-1”I’ve known for years that something like this could come up. If I could go back and change the choices I made while my chooser was broken (grief, alcoholism, lack of wisdom, plus general youthful stupidity), I would. But, I can’t. In my own vernacular, those problems are bought and paid for. That is, I did things that may cause serious problems for me physically, now, later in life. Can’t deny it, ignore it, or wish it away. It’s not clear right now of course whether this will be a serious issue or not, may not be clear for some time, though I imagine there will be a follow-up CT to more closely i.d. the causes of the atelectasis.

We all have to die of something. If this is mine, well, so be it. Not gonna dwell on it, but I do acknowledge it. I don’t blame anyone, not even myself. My 20s, as they are for so many of us, were a time of transformation, mutation, evolution. I learned so much, felt so much, did so much. There was another path for me through that thicket, many paths, I’m sure, but the one that transpired is the one I followed. And, it may be beginning to have consequences.

In other news Kate’s stent is open. CT proved that. Hopefully today she’ll get a pic line put in and get started on some nutritional supplements by iv. TPN, total parenteral nutrition. This should help her overall and make any surgical procedure, like the feeding tube placement, more likely to succeed. A home health service will send nurses here to set it up. Eventually, I’ll manage it. A step in a good direction for her.

Sun. Blue skies. Black Mountain standing tall. All things that will be here no matter how any of this turns out. And, again, I find this a source of deep consolation.


Valentine’s Day on Shadow Mountain

Written By: Charles - Feb• 14•19

Imbolc                                                                      Valentine Moon

Well, no matter what else happens I can say I made it to 72. Valentine’s Day on Shadow Mountain. Black Mountain obscured by low lying clouds, but still visible. A thin dusting of snow on the solar panels and the driveway. 32 degrees.

The pneumonia continues. Rattling in the chest, coughing, back to night sweats, shortness of breath, some fever. Not how I imagined my birthday, but there you are. I go to see Tabitha, Dr. Gidday’s p.a. today. Hopefully I’ll learn some more. Kate’s ct is today, too. I scheduled my appointment close to hers so I can take her to the imaging center at Porter Adventist, then scoot over to Dr. Gidday’s office for my 11:30.

I’ve been sick 15 days now. Figured out the last time I was this sick was not Austria, but when we lived on Edgcumbe Drive in St. Paul. Never diagnosed. Kate thought it might have been myocarditis. That was 29 years ago. It’ll be ok with me if it’s another 29 between bouts like this.

I’m up in the loft early. Feels nostalgic after 15 days of mostly miss on the mornings. I’m ready to get back to my old life, resume painting, teaching, writing. Not yet. There’s this big bump in the road.

A while back I read an interesting article about snow. A heavy snow eliminates boundaries, covers fences and streets, rocks, even mountains. The world becomes white, curvilinear, jagged edges smoothed. The affective mood of the landscape undergoes a transformation, becomes more connected.

Illness has a similar totalizing affect. The landscape recedes. Old linkages like grocery stores, schools, churches, synagogues fall away. The house, or even a room, becomes a world. In this world there is struggle, the body trying to hang on to life, an invader not caring about that life, but wanting the resources the life has to offer. It’s a raw, pitched battle, tough to watch, tough to experience. Not all illnesses are this extreme of course but pneumonia at 72 is a life or death matter. Either the pneumonia is defeated or the body dies. High stakes.

Like a heavy snow the world around this struggle transforms, becomes homogeneous. Can it help? It exists. No help? It disappears.

Writing from inside that shrunken world.


Shrinking World

Written By: Charles - Feb• 13•19

Imbolc                                                                            Valentine Moon

The fun continues. See doc tomorrow to check on lungs. Still coughing, still some fever. But! I am now 138 pounds. Back to my 20’s weight wise. Weird.

Kate has a ct tomorrow to check on the stent, see how it’s positioned, if it’s functional. That’s necessary because the feeding tube placement needs a good stent to produce the results we hope.

Strange how the world shrinks when you’re sick. Your body demands attention, often full attention. It wants to know where the bathrooms are, where the bed is, and the approximate time necessary to navigate between them. It knows other things are going on in the world, Trump’s still the president, right?, but doesn’t really give a damn. How can I get out from under this damned thing. That’s on the top of list.

Discovered King Sooper delivers! Whew. That made things a lot simpler. Got the first order this morning. A few missed beats, but not too bad and the young lady brought the stuff into the kitchen. $12 to avoid the trip, the trek through the store, checkout. Way, way worth it. Especially with my old bud pneumonia dogging my every breath.

From my home based hospital ward to yours, cheers.

New Diets! Guaranteed Results! Apply Now!

Written By: Charles - Feb• 12•19

Imbolc                                                                                 Valentine Moon

New diet. I have two sure fire diet plans for those with enough cojones. The first one I’ve written about before. The interstate move from sea level to 9,000 feet diet. The benefits begin when you start packing, but they really peak (lol) when you arrive at your new home with a houseful of boxes. Unpack as you acclimate to your new altitude. It was good for 20-25 pounds for both of us.

The second one, the adenovirus diet. You may need to locate a friend or neighbor with a bad, bad cold, but, hey, it’s winter! How hard can it be? Expose yourself. Get sick. Start enjoying the benefits of your new weight loss plan. The symptoms? Oh, they’re troublesome all right. But you know what they say: No cross, no loss. This one’s been good for ten pounds for me. Yep. I’m at 140 right now, within ten pounds of my weight throughout my twenties and well into my thirties.

Too drastic? Well. I get it. Two weeks of sore throats, coughs, fevers, chills, chest infections, and serious malaise have made this diet less than fun. Of course, no one ever said weight loss programs were a laugh riot, eh?

I have gotten modestly better. I’m up here, for one. My sore throat has diminished. The fevers are gone. Still coughing, still have pneumonia. Kate has a ct of her stent on Thursday and I have a followup on my pneumonia at the same time.

I know this last couple of week’s posts have not been cheery reading, but there you are. A life is a life and sometimes its challenging.



Showing the Flag

Written By: Charles - Feb• 11•19

Imbolc                                                                     Valentine Moon

20190205_072936Just a note to say I’m still kickin’, albeit a bit feebly right now. Pneumonia continues. Fatigue. Coughing. Occasional fever.

Just talked to Kate, told her I needed to be sick now. Not responsible. Tough one, given her condition. We’re looking at options. Maybe Jon. Maybe Sandy. Maybe the Mitzvah committee again.

Need help with getting groceries, light cleaning, that sort of thing. Not onerous unless you’re sick, in this case both of us. Ouch.

This is showing the flag. Consider it shown.


71 years, 360 days.

Written By: Charles - Feb• 09•19

Imbolc                                                                                    Valentine Moon

Such a romantic lead into my romantic birthday. Kate’s going to get the feeding tube put in sometime. CT next week to make sure the stent’s working, then the tube soon? thereafter. Don’t know. Looks like it will be a home-based operation from the git. No rehab.

Meanwhile on Friday I drug my sorry, tired a@@ to the doctor. Doc thought I’d had the flu. Have you ever had a flu swab? Oh, man. A long plastic handle, a scrub like brush at the top, thin, and a hunk of wire joining the two. One up each nostril? The wire? That’s so they can get up behind the bend of your nostril. Exquisite, but short, pain. Negative, too. As Kate pointed out, that did mean my flu shot worked. Yeah.

So, whatever I’ve had, probably an adenovirus of some type, acts like the flu. Huh. Don’t let me ever get the flu. Doc yesterday it hits “you like a truck.” Good description of the last 1o days. Anyhow, that seems to be gone now, replaced by a follow-on, pneumonia! Yep. Just be too sure I was paying attention, I guess. Got my antibiotics course, ten days, doxycycline. I hope to pass.

Missed two days here. I can feel it when I miss a day, like I’m not yet complete. Don’t like it, but I didn’t feel like climbing the stairs. Hopefully, the plateau has changed to slight upward curve.

Misery. Discomfort. Illness.

Written By: Charles - Feb• 07•19

Imbolc                                                                                        Valentine Moon

My expensive Vienna hospital

My expensive Vienna hospital

The viral merry-go-round goes round and round, round and round. Here some phlegm. There some chills. Here some fever. There some sore throat. Here a cough, there a cough. And, overall…yuck. I told Kate I didn’t remember ever being this sick. “Austria,” she said, “You were pretty sick in Austria.” True. In that case I had my new physician wife with me who had, in what I would come to know as her way, packed for this. Antibiotics, thermometer. Bed side manner. Don’t remember much of Vienna and I was sick to some extent when we hit Paris. OK. I’ll take Austria, but that was 1990.  So, not for a long time.

Misery. Discomfort. Dis-ease. Feelin’ rotten. Down the rabbit hole. Indisposed. Feeble. Ill. All. Ready for them to go back, hide in somebody’s closet.

The second time in two days when I wrote this blog later in the day. I couldn’t brave the cold to go up to the loft.

Back from Edwin Smith, surgeon:

 A kind man. And, cautious. He wants Kate to have a week or two of pic line fed nutrition before he operates. “To be as sure we can that you’ll tolerate the procedure.” Guess that falls under, Physician, first, do no harm.

healthThis will be in-home, started by nurses but managed by me. I can learn this, right? Besides I’ve got Kate as backup. Surprisingly, he also said, after the feeding tube is put in, that will be at home, too. Not sure whose decision that actually is, Gidday’s I imagine, but I know Kate wants a few weeks in a rehab center.

But, that’s for later. For now, proceeding.


A Matched Pair

Written By: Charles - Feb• 06•19

Imbolc                                                                           Valentine Moon

FortWe’re a matched pair. Hair uncombed, vacant looks, wan smiles, in and out of bed during the day and the night. My bout with this virus, probably an adenovirus, is a week old today. 1 to 2 weeks according to the home medical advisor: Kate. Let it be less than 2 weeks. Please.

Last night the sore throat kept the good things coming. Coughing, clearing my throat. Going back to sleep. Waking up. You know how it goes. Any thought of swallowing? X.

Which meant I got awful thirsty. Not a good fit with the sore throat. Ice chips! I’d seen Kate in post-op recovery often enough to remember these. Got some. My entire menu for the day so far, one cereal bowl filled with ice chips. Brings up something else. After months of nudging Kate to eat, all of a sudden I don’t want to. Hurts to swallow. Not hungry. What’s the point?

As you can tell the glass is less than half full, at least I think so, the glass itself being opaque for the most part.

Really shouldn’t do this, look up adenovirus on the net. I’m gonna die! I’m gonna die! Well, yes. But most likely not right now. When I did, I found that, as with most viruses, the treatment is supportive. In other words, wait.

Lord of Misrule

Lord of Misrule

Nothing we can do. No choice, I know that, but god, what a word, wait. In common use it often means do nothing while something awful continues until it stops. Like this damned adenovirus (or, whatever) rummaging around in the closets, storage areas, kitchen, living room. Hey, you there! Stop what you’re doing and go. That would be supportive, too.

These diseases are like the old Lords of Misrule from medieval times. They come in, take over, put things wrong way round, upset life. When the illness or the festival is done, matters return to normal. The King or the Duke or the Baron in charge once again, but this time with a renewed sense of the value they bring. Order, equilibrium, homeostasis. Oh. Yeah. This is what it is to feel well. So I suppose they do play a role, reminding us of our mortality and our frailty, reminding us of what it means to be healthy. But. I’ve had my reminder for this biennium. And I’ve paid attention. So, quit already.

Illness here, Illness there…

Written By: Charles - Feb• 05•19

Imbolc                                                                            Waxing Moon

20190205_072936Frayed end of a hawser. That would be me this morning. I thought this virus was done on Saturday. Nope, just getting warmed up. More fever. Then congestion, chest and sinus. So, coughing. A lot of clearing of the throat. “Yes, Curt,” Kate says, referencing my father’s frequent clearing of his throat. When that subsided, nope, not over. Now let’s try throat-on-fire. Last night. Full on righteous 7 or 8 pain. Made sleeping difficult, coughing an exercise in self-torture. Not to mention fatigue. Where it began last Wednesday. It will end sometime, apparently very much on its timeline. Not today. Go away little virion’s, go away.

Which, if you recall yesterday’s post, creates in us an expectation that this too will pass. We get sick. We’re miserable. We get better. We go on. Fully what I anticipate. We’ve had the same anticipation with Kate’s 18 months of malady after malady. Not happening. Could not happen at all. Therefore it seems out of the way of things. An anomaly.

Kate and Jackie

Kate and Jackie

She woke up miserable yesterday, more miserable than usual. She called Gidday and we got an appointment with Tabita Lane, Lisa’s P.A., since her schedule was full.

Here’s a bit about Tabitha from my Caring Bridge post: Tabitha, a former oncology nurse and military corpperson, came in. “I was reading your file. It’s long.”
Yep. Tabitha carried herself much like Dr. Gidday, an athlete confined for the moment to a stool. Her left leg splayed out behind as she began asking questions.

Her empathy was obvious. She leaned in, nodded, frowned. “What do you want to do, Kate? A feeding tube? I think you’re there.” She was seeing Kate for the first time, at the tail end of an awful four months and she’s clearly malnourished, thin and weak. “And, your brain may be effected. Not enough fat. You’re probably not thinking straight.”

The next branch on this ancientrail began. Kate will see a general surgeon this week about placement of a feeding tube. After that procedure she will probably go into a rehab center, Brookdale most likely. There she will gain weight, have p.t., gradually regain her strength. I have no idea how long any of this will take. It does mean that my life will change dramatically once again. Less fraught this time because the initiating event here will be therapeutic, not management of a mysterious emergency.

Not done yet.