Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Next steps

When I retired and moved out here, I had some specific plans about my health. Less than a year go I was put on insulin for my diabetes. The reason behind this was that my creatinine levels were pretty steadily moving up (Bad), and the standard medicine for diabetes is metformin, which is a little hard on the kidneys. So I ended up on insulin as a result of a diagnosis of bad kidneys.
Then I recently had a major problem with a kidney stone the size of a grape, which was completely blocking all drainage from my left kidney. It was blasted with ultrasound and I pissed it all out. When my blood tests were done after the procedure, my cratinine level were about half what they were before. This makes sense since I now had two functioning kidneys.
This leads me to believe that my original diagnosis of stage four kidney disease is a bad diagnosis. What was happening was the stone was blocking the kidney from draining.
If I am not in stage four of kidney disease, then I probably can go back to taking metformin and get off of insulin. I suggested that to the doctor on Friday, and he said that it was probably all true. We are going to wait until I see the urologist in December to make sure of my kidney status before making changes. This has lots of implications to my diet, and medication.
For instance, I was instructed to never take NSAIDS which includes most OTC pain relievers. I have been pretty much stuck taking Percocet for my arthritis because of this. Perhaps this means I can take something else for my chronic pain.
As a result of the kidney diagnosis, they did a bunch of tests on my urine, Those test results are ll in question now. What was rue oh the blood tests is probably true oh the urine tests,  So I have retaken all the tests and I will learn the results on December 11th. So for now, I just know I am in much better shape than the doctors tried to convince me I was in.
Several time when all this stuff a year ago came down when the doc asked me how I was feeling, I told him I was doing great except for all the doctors telling me how sick I was. Little did I know how true that was.
So for now I have to be patient and see what develops. I know that the medication I am taking works, I just would prefer not to use an injectable.
So far the plan I made for coming out here is working well, just not by the path I had anticipated. By getting in better shape by working around here and controlling my diet to get off of insulin will probably happen, but better than I had anticipated.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Mo Betta

I got a call from the Urologist last night.
Things are better then I had thought. Having just gone through several trips to the emergency room, a hospital stay and a week of pissing gravel, I came out this end of the journey better than I went in.
Mt creatinine is way back down. I guess it helps when BOTH kidneys are working properly.
About a year ago My doctor at the time became concerned that my creatinine was creeping steadily upward, so he sent me to the Nephrologist (kidney doctor) and after an extensive series of tests he determined that I was going into stage four kidney disease.
About that time I retired, then I had to find an interim doc. We sold the house and moved to Sequim.
It has taken some time to get established with a new doc here, and it all came to a head when I had a large stone lodge in my left kidney. It was completely blocking off the drain for my left kidney.
Doctor Benson did a CAT scan and found the stone, brought me back in to pulverize the stone and is now doing follow-up. A blood draw and test was done last Friday, and the results came in yesterday.
The results were great. My creatinine levels were WAY down. They whole stage four kidney disease diagnosis was wrong. Yes I have kidney disease as a result of my diabetes, but not severe. The upshot is that I am a long ways from dialysis or kidney transplant. When my ceatinine was up over four, I was looking at eventual kidney failure. Now that is a remote possibility rather than an inevitability.
So all the anxiety and worry I have gone through about kidney failure were caused by a misdiagnosis. I was not undergoing kidney deterioration, I had a stone the size of a grape.
I am now undergoing some tests to determine why I am forming stones. Believe me, whatever the doctor recommends to avoide another megastone, I will do it.
Yesterday was 24 hour piss test. Pee in a jug for 24 hours. Mrs A has a bit of a problem with having a jug-o-pee in the fridge. She has trouble accepting the fact that urine is sterile, so it won't hurt you. Not that I am recommending keeping a jug-o-pee in the fridge, but it is not all that ookey.
I have to drop off the jug-o-pee at the lab this morning. Feels a little strange walking around with a jug-o-pee.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Pissin' Gravel

Literally. Or the closely related topic, Pissin' blood.
Right now I am doing both.
A week ago I all of the sudden developed severe back pains on my lower left side. As A person who has passed multiple kidney stones, I was pretty sure I knew what was going on. Except this was worse and didn't move at all.
So I went in to the walk-in clinic in Sequim. Their diagnosis was kidney infection, they gave me some antibiotics and sent me home. By Saturday, I was in no better shape, so I went back to the clinic, and they referred me to the Hospital in Sequim. After giving me some anti-nausea and pain medication they sent me to radiology for a CAT scan.
I had a stone the size of a grape that was completely blocking my left kidney. They did an operation to install a stent and kept me overnight for observation.
It was not a good night. There were a couple of psychotic patients, one on either side of me. The one lady was mean as a snake, attacking everyone who came near her verbally and some times physically. The other was an older gentleman in with pneumonia, He had no idea where he was or what was going on. But he yelled pretty much all night.
I asked the doctor if I was missing something.. Did they check my into the Psych ward for a reason? She laughed and said no, that this was the normal ward, they just happened to have a couple of disturbed people in at the moment. The one had been a patient for four months. The problem is that new laws forbid them from releasing the patient until they have some place to put them. Because the Federal Government has defunded the treatment of mentally ill people, no one takes them. Since this particular patient had a history of violence towards staff, no one would take her.
On a different tack on the same subject, take a look at his from a detached perspective. I have no skin in this game, just am making an observation. First the Reagan Administration defunds treatment of the mentally ill, dumping thousands of disturbed people out into the general population. Then gun violence and mass killing by mentally ill people rise sharply. Could it be that these things are interrelated? So if you want to trace the origins of the wave of mass killings, you can thank the Republicans. Better to blame them than blame the guns, which is a cop-out, We always had guns around, and you know what? Not a single one of them jumped down off of the rack and killed someone.This country desperately needs a system for dealing with the mentally ill. The problem with this is that if we effectively screen and treat the mentally ill, where are we going to get our politicians?
At any rate, after holding me overnight they sent me home, with an appointment to come back on Wednesday when the stone breaking machine was in town. Pretty neat. They bombard the stone with high frequency sound waves and it shatters the stone into little bitty pieces. Then over the next week or so, you piss out the pulverized stone pieces. You also piss blood, because pulverizing the stone is a lot like taking multiple kidney punches.
I have not been able to do much of anything for the past week, so I am going stir crazy. I have work to do but am supposed to take it easy until the Doc gives me permission.
I hope that today I can get out and repair the chipper.

Friday, October 02, 2015

On Track

I have sadly neglected this blog for some time now. I closed my eyes for a second, and suddenly it is October.
I have been busy working around the place. There is a lot that can be done, but it is a little overwhelming even thinking of trying to bring order to 3 1/2 acres of woods. A lot of it is brush, blowdowns, broken off limbs, and pretty much unusable as it is. Clearing out the limbs and blowdowns will take a long time. For now I am clearing trails so I can navigate through the underbrush without fighting.
Eventually I see a network of trails between small meadows amongst the trees. There are a lot of very nice mature Cedar trees interspersed with Fir, Alder and an occasional Maple. I want to clear a number of small clearings and plant them with wildflowers. They have a product called "Meadow in a Can" which is a mixture of wildflower seeds. Once you clear the ground, you just sprinkle the seeds and voila' you have 20 different kinds of wildflowers. I used it on a small scale before, but can't wait to see how it does semi-wild.
There is a lot of beauty bark on the yard near the house. Looks nice and inhibits the growth of weeds. The trees I was cutting and splitting for firewood were downed Fir of pretty good size. Had a lot of thick bark. Since the had been laying on the ground for some time, the bark came off pretty easy in the process of splitting it for firewood. I set it aside.
I decided to bite the bullet and get a chipper/shredder. I purchased a Brushmaster commercial grade model, which will handle anything up to 3". Bigger than that it is firewood, smaller it is beauty bark.
I managed to break it after one week. The pulley on the flywheel split in two. I have been waiting for the replacement for three weeks. In the meantime I have been taking the hatchet and cutting the bark into three inch wide strips so I can feed it into the chipper.
One of the reasons I bought the chipper is because they don't allow much in the way of outdoor burning. There has been a burn ban on since we moved in here and the local dump does not accept yard waste. With so much debris in the woods, the logical thing is to turn it into beauty bark.
My cousin, Ginger, her husband Pat, my cousin Rick and his wife Robyn came up from Oregon for a much too short visit. Wouldn't you know it, the day they were supposed to show up, the water failed. We are on a well, and we just suddenly had no water. We had to call the plumbing service. We chose Brother's Plumbing because they had surveyed the well when we bought the place. At first they thought it was burned out points on the float of the holding tank. but when they replaced them, still no go.
They had to pull the pump, which was at the end of 170 feet of galvanized pipe. That meant the boom truck, and a helper. It was interesting watching them pull the pipe sections and get to the pump. Of course the pump was shot. The bill was just under two grand. Oh well the pump was 20 years old, and now we should be good for another 20 years.
We warned the relatives that we were in the middle of a well crisis, but they came anyway. By the time they got here the plumbers were almost through, But when they got through, what was coming out of the taps was not fit for human consumption. The water in the toilets was of course, grody, so Ginger had to take a picture and post it on the internet.
The water still has a slight chemical taste, but not too bad. My well water is still better than city water.
The weather has been spectacular. The days have been sunny with the temperatures approaching 70, cooling off at night to the high 40s, low 50s. I have been setting the fire before I go to bed, so all Carol has to do in the norning is drop a match and add a log once it gets going. Electricity is expensive and wood is free.
The fall mushroons have sterted showing up. Lisa found a Shaggy Mane on the edge of the lawn, I found a bunch of Boletus Edulis in the yard, which I dries, and when we were on a hike the other day we came across a bunch of Agaricus Arvensis. Good stuff.
Now that i have in the winter wood, and the weather is cooling off, I will havemore "inside time" so I will try to be more regular about posting on this blog.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Makin' Wood

Get yer mind out of the gutter, that is not a sexual reference.
I got a Stihl chainsaw for my birthday. We have 3 1/2 acres of mostly woods. There are a number of trees down that need to be turned into firewood. And several more that are standing but dead. The previous owner left about a cord of cut, split and stacked firewood in a wood shed.
I figured I need to cut, split and stack at least another cord to feed the wood stove.
We have a heat pump, but electricity is expensive, and the wood is free (if you don't count the cost of the chain saw).
I have cut and split a lot of wood in my life, but it had been a quite a while since I ran a chain saw. The still start and run the same as they used to.
The first log I tackled was a downed fir about 2 1/2 feet in diameter. The chain saw has an 18" bar, so it was a double cut to start and get the root ball off of the tree. Worked just like I knew what I was doing. I cut a half dozen rounds, muscled them out of the woods, split them and put them in the wood shed. No big deal.
You know what happens when you get cocky. Fate smacks you down.
I forgot to refill the chain oiler. Next this you know the saw is straining, and not making much progress. Then it started smoking.
I turned it off, and let it cool. When It had cooled off, it would not restart. I noticed that the chain needed tightening. But the chain tightener wouldn't work, and the chain wouldn't move.
So I go in the shop and start tearing it apart. By that time I had realized that I had run it out of chain oil and overheated it.
When I pulled off the side case, I saw that the clutch bell had gotten so hot it had melted the case. When I shut it off, the plastic hardened, and the clutch bell wouldn't move.
No biggie. I just took a small pick and broke loose the bell, removed it and cleaned up the case. I was putting it back together and decided to make sure it ran. I started it up, and saw a retainer fall off and bounce across the shop floor. I managed to find it, but could not find the retainer clip.
I ended up having to make a trip into Port Angeles for the part. I took the saw and parts with me just to make sure I got the right part. Good thing I did, because I had also lost a couple of extra parts.
The total bill including a chain file was $15, so not bad.
Brought it home and put it together. First thing I did was put the chain on backwards. DUH!
Reassembled everything and went out and cut a couple of rounds. After the second one, it wasn't cutting well. The chain was not sharp any longer. On the last round, I got a little too deep and hit the ground. Chain saws really, really don't like to cut dirt. No surprise there.
So the saw is in my shop with me new chain file. It will be ready to go when I get back from the Doc's tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Medical Run Around

When I retired from Boeing, they no longer provided coverage through Group Health, so I had to go find a new provider.
I am 67, so I get Medicare, and Boeing provides part D coverage through Aetna, so coverage hasn't been too much of a problem. The problem is that we were selling our house and moving, so I needed to find a temporary doctor, which I did. It was a hassle because I am a long term Percocet user. I have stage four kidney disease, so taking over the counter NSAIDS is not an option.
I have been in several rear end car accidents, and also have a sports injury in my neck, all of which combine to keep me in constant pain.
I don't have a problem abusing Percocet. I have been taking it fir about  six years, and don't use any more now than when it was originally prescribed. I use one or two a day. Usually one.
Enter the damn politicians. Because of the politicians, you cannot get a prescription for more than a month at a time. Not only that they don't allow refills. You have to get a physical piece of paper each time.
Once we got settled here in Sequim, I set about establishing a Medical Provider.
Not an easy thing. It took five weeks to get my first appointment. Since I am an insulin dependant diabetic, it is a priority that establish a Medical Provider.
I accomplished that, but the Medical provider will not prescribe opioid. I was referred to a pain clinic that is an hour away. I can't get in until next Wednesday, a week away. I have four pills left.
This is not good. I will probably go through withdrawal. I am trying to hold off using any of the remaining pills. Maybe if I take one tomorrow and one every other day I will be OK. Still not sure if I will be able to sleep at night.
I have been eating a half of a peanut butter cannabis cookie at night to help me sleep. Maybe if I up my intake...
And maybe if I stay stoned I won't go through withdrawal.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Settling In

Tomorrow we will have been here three weeks.
We have almost dug ourselves out from under the enormous pile of possessions we moved from our former home. Not quite, but close enough that we have slowed down a little.
The Jensen Healey is in the garage, and with maybe another days work, I think I will be able to ease the Z into the other slot. But who knows which day. I am in no hurry.
We took the day off today. We jumped in the truck and went down to the Dungeness Spit for a hike. It has been several weeks since we hiked. Amazing how quickly things go soft. The hike from the trail head to the tip of the spit is a litle over five miles, so that would have made it eleven miles round trip.
A little too ambitious for first time out.
So we walked about half the way out and then back.
We saw a lot of shore birds. We saw an eagle perched on a piling eating a fish, and we saw several harbor seals. It was partly cloudy, temperature in the upper 60s, so perfect for a hike.
As a reward we stopped at the Black Bear Cafe for lunch. They were all out of Pie! So I was forced to eat a generous portion of huckleberry ice cream. O the Humanity!
Several people have told me that in the fall, our area is frequented by cougar and bear coming down out of the hills, so I went in search of a gun. I had pretty much settled on a lever action 30 - 30, but not on which model. When we went into town, there was a Winchester model 94 on consignment. It was a 1981 build, before Winchester farmed out all the manufacturing to subcontractors. Book value $300 - 500. It was in near perfect condition, with one bad spot in the bluing about the size of a pin head. Marked down to $375. I bought it on the spot. I still need to get out and sight it in, something I will probably do next week.
We still have lots of exploring to do.
I have been picking wild trailing blackberries every night. I noticed a couple of runners next to the mailbox, and once I started looking for then, a few more here and there. I generally get a couple of ounces every day. By the time the season is over, I should have enough to make a nice big batch of sugar free blackberry jam.
Speaking of which, it is time to go pick berries