Outside April

by grace on April 10, 2021

Last Saturday morning, April 3rd, Lovely bravely ventured out in the fenced yard. She’d done this with Kevin, but last Saturday she was so eager to get out that when I opened the door she screwed up all her courage to rush past me outside.

She was delighted to find the catnip plant which is getting bigger by the day.

Here’s a short video of Lovey, Sweetie and Riley.

Riley loves being outside the most.

Later in the day Kevin showed me the latest destruction down by the dock. Animals are always desperate to dig things up down there. Not sure what the animal was, but it must have been very strong to push the bricks out of the way. Maybe it was the mink? A mighty mink!

On Sunday morning we prepped the boat to launch it. This is the earliest we’ve ever put it in the water. First, Kevin had to take off the giant tarp and the structure that held it together. We’re quite pleased with the durability of the new cover and it was much easier to disassemble than it was to put it together last fall. It was easier for Kevin, that is, who did it all.

We then cleaned the boat, starting with waxing the pontoons. When we started I was grumbling in my mind, thinking that just the pontoon waxing would take hours. But Mom came over to help and it only took us an hour and a half, including cleaning the interior of the boat and I even went a little crazy and waxed the motor.

And then we launched it! Kevin expertly backed the truck up, unhooked the boat, then drove forward and quickly backed it to get the boat to glide free from the trailer. A family was picnicking and fishing there by the boat launch, and later Kevin told me that they all cheered when he’d successfully backed the boat into the water.

Mom and I motored back to our dock and Kevin was ther, waiting to jump on the boat for an inaugural ride. A great ride and it was interesting to see all the trees with their naked branches.

Kevin and I wore matching “Mutts” t-shirts, because why not? Such a beautiful day.

In the early evening I relaxed in the fenced yard. A truly lovely weekend.

Ok thenn,

Mrs. April Hughes.

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More crashing around to the end of March

by grace on April 9, 2021

A couple of days before I felt like fainting and had to go to the ER, Amy dropped a glass pie pan and it shattered. She swept it up, but felt like there was a shard of glass in the sole of her foot. She tried to dig it out, to no avail, so the next morning, March 22nd, she went to Urgent Care, where the doctor tried to tell her that there was more than likely nothing there. But he appeased her by taking an X-ray, and sure enough, a sliver of glass was still embedded. He removed it and Amy brought the shard home. To me it looks pretty big. Luckily it wasn’t anything worse, like last summer when she dislocated her elbow.

Here are a couple of photos I took when in the ER on March 24th. This is where they parked me for my entire stay, and it’s funny that it looks so deserted because many people were walking or rushing around most of the time while I was there. Up ahead of me you can see the edge of another bed that was also stranded out in the hall.

Three hours was a long time to wear a mask, but my nurse wore a very tight-fitting N95 mask that dug into his head. He was remarkably cheerful considering he was near the end of his 12 hour shift.

I kept turning around to check on my blood pressure on the monitor behind me. It had gotten as high as 150/90, and you can see that it was 148/84, better but not great. But nobody was concerned about it because it wasn’t super high.

Here’s the Holter Monitor they sent me home with, with a couple of the five contact points exposed. They snapped in to the sticky things attached to my body and it was much too easy to accidentally pull them out.

Yesterday I went to a cardiologist because my doctor wanted me to get an echocardiogram stress test. I thought I was going to have one right then so I wore my tennis shoes in anticipation, but the doctor just listened to my heart and thoroughly explained about how the electrical system works in my heart, drawing with a dry erase pen on a nifty screen that had an image of a beating heart with the branches of the electrical paths overlaid.

He said that this Right Bundle Branch Block I have could simply be a benign change; nothing was actually blocked, but the electrical pulse was just different now. He said this is a common thing, and since I’m healthy it’s probably nothing to worry about. I go back next Friday for the stress test, which should hopefully show that my heart is just fine.

He did review my cholesterol with me and the bad cholesterol is kind of high. I guess I need to quit eating so much cheese. Hard to give up cheese. But he said that since I exercised so much, I didn’t need cholesterol medicine which I think is a very good thing.

Three days after my ER visit, I was headed off to pick up my computer which had been repaired, and I saw and felt a big rock hit the windshield. I guess a car must have kicked it up, and it didn’t look like the glass had been cracked because my sun visor was down.

But when I arrived at the computer repair store I saw that there was a giant spiderweb of a crack.

It was annoying but after going to the ER i was able to put it into perspective. Cars can be fixed. I was able to quickly get the windshield replaced, paying a modest deductible, and things are all good for now.

And that’s it for March. April had been unseasonably warm but the temps are dropping to more April-like weather which is good so that I can do more outside work. Because there’s always plenty of work to be done outside and I did get pretty darn warm when I was raking the other day.

ok then,

Mrs. April Hughes.

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A whole new month…

by grace on April 4, 2021

It was so chilly on Thursday, with temps in the 40s and strong winds blowing. It’s continues to warm up and today it’s going to be in the 70s. The daffodils are blooming, as well as the hyacinth. Lots of positive changes here for April.

Meanwhile, way back in February, Sweetie was so very content, as well as beautiful, posing like a model…

Back on the first day of March Lovey bravely nestled into the repurposed laundry basket hideaway.

A few days later she jumped right up onto Kevin’s lap! She’s getting more and more tame but continues to be resistant to warming up to me.

On March March 11th the first crocuses bloomed. I love spring!

Lovey continuing to be bold and sit on Kevin’s lap. I think she’s only done this down in his workroom in the basement because that’s where she feels more protected.

On March 18th the winds were so strong that they blew mom’s old canoe down onto the rocks along the shore. You can just see Kevin dragging a kayak after retrieving the canoe, securing all the watercraft.

The lake level had dropped so far down, but by March 20th it was way up, yay for that.

The groundhog who live in our neighbor’s yard enjoyed the bird seed along with the two geese who have taken up residence here. The geese weren’t very excited to share, but the groundhog managed to get some food.

Unfortunately, the goose laid one egg and the next day it was gone. It then laid a second one and Kevin found fresh broken shells in the yard. I guess that’s why they said “silly as a goose,” because no matter how often Kevin told them to look for a safer spot to nest, they didn’t listen. Also, “bird brained” seems appropriate. There are always such huge families of geese in the spring that obviously some of them have figured out how to safely hatch a family. Maybe these are younger geese who haven’t learned, or maybe they’re developmentally disabled geese.

Last night a friend told me about her Easter plans, involving quiche and mimosas, and she asked about ours. I told her that we haven’t thought about it. Our plan for today is to launch the boat, a magnificent way to spend the day IMO.

I hope you’re doing well. Even though cases continue to surge again nationwide, at least it’s spring.

ok then,

Grace.

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March Madness

by grace on March 30, 2021

Cerebral Volume Loss.

Not something you want to read about, re: the state of your brain.

But let me start at the beginning.

Last Wednesday, March 24th, I was messing around the house, doing the stuff I usually do. I’d played a game on my iPad while drinking my lapsang souchong tea, I worked out for a while in the bedroom, and then I was standing at the kitchen counter sending Amy a text.

But as I hit send I suddenly felt odd. I was pretty sure I was going to faint. There was no black tunnel or anything, just a strange feeling and I staggered over to the couch to sit down. So weird. I felt a little better sitting but wasn’t sure how to proceed. I wanted to tell Kevin, who was down in the basement, but I didn’t think I had the energy to call down to him. I settled back on the couch and figured he’d come up the stairs shortly. He did just that, and I told him I felt weird.

He quizzed me about my symptoms and I explained that I’d thought I was going to faint and felt light-headed and weird. He went to the bathroom to search for a thermometer while I decided to eat an apple and peanut butter because maybe I was just hungry.

I felt no better, and Kevin finally told me he couldn’t find a thermometer so I got up and found one, and then another one. Men just can’t find things, can they? I took my temp and it was normal. But still the weird feeling. Kevin took my blood pressure and it was much higher than it usually is, maybe 150/90. Kevin suggested that I call my doctor. I can’t just call my Dr. Yu’s office anymore because the medical system is now interconnected. But because my symptoms had some red flags, the main call center connected me with Dr. Yu’s nurse right away, and after I explained my situation she immediately asked the doctor what he thought.

He said I should go to the emergency room. The nurse said they would check up on me and when I went, I should say I had a “sudden onset” of feeling faint.

Now, I’ve taken people to the emergency room quite a few times and I knew I would probably be there a while no matter what, so I started hustling around, changing my clothes and gathering my phone and my iPad and my phone charger and another phone charger and my big blue water bottle which I’m never without. I also called my insurance company because our friends had just taken their 88 year-old dad to the ER at St. John’s Hospital and their experience reminded me that I didn’t want to go there, but I knew that in the past we didn’t have a choice, insurance-wise.

I told the person on the phone that my ER choices were St. Johns and Memorial, and could I go to either one? The woman put me on hold to check, as I wandered around the house looking for stuff to bring with me and feeling very out of breath and maybe I should try to hurry up since when you go to the ER you’re supposed to get out the door in a reasonable amount of time not wander around for a half hour or more. The woman came back on the phone and asked, “so you could go to Northwestern?’ which was funny because Northwestern is in four hours away in Chicago, and no, that wasn’t a good option, but then she assured me that I could go to whichever hospital I wanted to.

Finally we made it out the door and to the ER. When I checked in they took my temperature and gave me one of those flimsy light blue masks which had to swap with my superior dark blue mask. They told me that Kevin couldn’t wait with me until I got into a room.

So he sat in the truck while I waited, glad to find a separate waiting room that was partitioned off from the main one, and only one other person was in there. As far as I could tell, everybody was appropriately masked. It was kind of interesting to be out amongst people since I haven’t done that much in the past year except for going to the grocery store. Two cops were talking to a woman in the other waiting room. She was sitting next to a woman who looked like she was in bad shape, and they wheeled her away as the the other woman kept talking to the cops. Hmm, had that woman been in an accident? I worried that she’d been abused by somebody, because why else would cops be there? I try not to think about all the bad things happening to people all the time.

I only had to wait 25 minutes which seemed good to me because there were quite a few people in that main waiting room.

When they checked me in they weighed me and I didn’t even care that I didn’t take off my shoes, which is something I always normally insist on . They asked me lots of questions as they took my blood pressure which was still high. Then then put me into a very wide wheel chair and wheeled me back. It was funny to be wheeled around, something I also don’t recall ever doing.

The nurses’ station in the middle of the ER was surrounded by beds full of people. They wheeled me past a guy in a prion uniform and parked me on the far side of the nurses’ station. My nurse, a very nice guy named Michael, apologized that I’d have to stay in the hall for a while because all the beds upstairs were full, so people in the ER rooms couldn’t be moved out. This was fine with me. I was only a little bit worried about potential Covid germs in the air as all kinds of medical people hurried back and forth and all around. Michael hooked me up to an IV, explaining that I might be dehydrated which could have made me feel like fainting. I don’t know why I didn’t mention that I’m almost always overly-hydrated, but I wasn’t at my sharpest while lying there. I do recall that there were quite a few guys walking around with electric drills and stuff, were they remodeling?

Michael took some of my blood and a very nice doctor came over and talked to me, and then they wheeled me to a CT scan room and then an X-ray room, and a nurse put sticky things on me to do an EKG. The time passed and I was content to just lie there; I didn’t even feel like opening up my iPad, much less playing anything on it. I kept Kevin updated and after a couple of hours I started feeling bad that he was just sitting there in his truck, but I was also glad that he wasn’t out amongst all these people. I texted him that he should go get some coffee, or he could just go home and that I was fine.

Meanwhile, I suddenly remembered that this had happened to me before. Why hadn’t I thought of this? In 2010, Kevin, Mollie and I were out east, camping and traveling around, and we stopped to spend the night with his sweet aunt somewhere in Virginia. We went to dinner at his cousin’s restaurant, had a lovely meal, and then they gave us a tour of the place. While we walked around I suddenly felt like I was going to faint and his elderly aunt ended up driving us to an urgent care place in some tiny nearby town. I remember that the exam room at the hospital or whatever it was was also a closet, filled with mops and cleaning products and a ladder. I can’t recall what kinds of tests they did, but I know that the only thing they could find was that I was a low on potassium. We picked up some potassium at a Wal-Mart the next day and drove on to the Shenandoah National Park. I felt OK after that, a little weak the next day, but nothing came of it. We even hiked a little on the Appalachian Trail, so clearly there was nothing too wrong with me.

I flagged down Michael and told him about the incident, and I told the doctor. MIcheal said the low potassium could have caused the near-fainting, but my potassium today was OK.

I called Kevin and reminded him of the story and we both marveled that we’d forgotten all about that incident. He finally drove home at about 5:00 and the doctor came back and said the EKG showed that I have a “right branch bundle block,” and explained what that meant at least three times and I finally got the gist of it – at or near my heart, there are two branches of electrical impulses and the right one does a weird little thing, making the impulse ricochet over to the left branch, which is abnormal. She said that she didn’t think this had anything to do with me almost fainting, and that it was something that I might always have had.

She talked to Dr. Yu on the phone which I thought was good, and she came back to talk to me one more time. Basically, they didn’t know what happened to me. She said that I should make an appointment with Dr. Yu soon, and handed me a stack of the findings of all those tests and told me to give them to Dr. Yu. Nobody seemed concerned that my blood pressure was still pretty high, but they put some different sticky pads on me which hooked up to a Holter Monitor, which would read my heart rate for 24 hours. It was about the size of a small cell phone and attached to a lanyard, but the heart guy who hooked it up told me that I could detach it from the lanyard and stick it in my waistband.

I called Kevin, who had only been home long enough to feed the starving kitties, and he came back to get me. As we drove home I started leafing through the papers and stopped at the results of my CT scan. Mostly it was a bunch of “blah blah blah is not abnormal, No hydrocephalus, basilar cisterns are preserved, blah blah blah.”

But then something leapt out at me. “mild generalized age related cerebral volume loss.”

MY BRAIN IS SHRINKING.

Yeah, fine, it;s age-related and it’s mild, but still, SHRINKING. I haven’t been able to get that out of my mind. my shrinking mind. Can I do something to build it back up a little? Brain food, is there brain food? I must look into it.

When we got home Mom came over and I showed her how I was hooked up with the electrodes and she said that a long time ago a co-worker had to wear a Holter Monitor but it was huge, as big as a tape recorder, and in a big bag. At least things have gotten more compact.

I didn’t care for that Holter Monitor though; I somehow managed to unplug a couple of the sensors a few times. I turned it in the next evening and nobody called to say that my heart is completely out of whack, so that’s good.

I’m going to see Dr. Yu on Thursday and I bet he’ll tell me that this is something that randomly happens to me every eleven years.

I wonder, will I remember this incident when it happens in 2032? Almost certainly not. Think of how much my brain will have shrunk by then…

As I started writing this this morning I had to stop and I thought about one more thing I wanted to add. I’ve been trying to recall it ever since then, to no avail. shrinking shrinking shrinking…

Meanwhile…here’s a short little video of Lovey being brave and venturing out into the fenced yard with Kevin. She’s been inside our house during the entire pandemic, having come in late last March.

ok then,

mrs. cerebral volume loss hughes.

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Marvelous Christmas Gift!

March 12, 2021

As I posted way back in December, Kevin hand-crafted a leather purse for me for Christmas. He has spent the past couple of months doing the dying of leather, and yesterday he completed the project! He worked so hard on it! All that work was worth it. And that’s it for this Friday in March. […]

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The Last of the Snow…

March 10, 2021

Hmm, hopefully that’s not wishful thinking. We’ve had a few unseasonably warm days lately, but it’s only March, after all. But even if we get more snow that’s OK because buds are starting to poke up out of the ground and spring is just right around the corner. So even if these aren’t the last […]

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Mom’s Special Day

March 6, 2021

Here are a few photos of Mom’s birthday celebration. Amy and Jim did quite a bit of festive decorating, and their house looked fantastic. We bought her a new pair of shoes because of the huge amount of walking we’ve been doing… …and she loved them! Amy made shrimp scampi, Mom’s favorite, plus she made […]

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So long, February!

March 3, 2021

This morning, March 3rd, the lake has finally thawed, it’s sunny, and might reach 60 degrees. Whoo hoo! I thought maybe this would be my last post from February but then was a little dismayed to see that there are many photos I haven’t yet posted. What was I doing all month? This is one […]

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Happy Birthday Mom!

February 26, 2021

I bet it’s the warmest February 26th we’ve had in a long time. A great day for Mom’s Covid birthday! We will celebrate with a family dinner tonight, but before that there will hopefully be much birthday merriment. No involving going into any places, of course. Here’s one of my favorite travel photos of Mom […]

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Geese on the frozen lake plus deer in the snow

February 21, 2021

Here’s a short video from February 8th, geese out on the lake. Yet another snowfall on Feb. 15th. I looked out the front bedroom window and there was a deer eating bird food. 3 It looked like it was trying to catch snowflakes. Then she looked at me, but wasn’t worried enough to run away. […]

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