Sunday, April 19, 2009

Shingles (not the kind on your roof!)

Hello and welcome to all who visit here. I must apologize for being away for, gosh, almost, well actually over a month now. But I have very good reasons. There has been much personal drama going on at home, which I will share at some time in the future. But the most interesting, albeit painful, experience has been my bout with shingles. For those who are not familiar with this malady (and I hope there are many) shingles comes from the chicken pox virus. Apparently, when you have chicken pox as a child the virus stays in your blood stream, floating around your body waiting for an opportune moment to strike out. Seems the moment for me was about 3 weeks ago. Mine appeared on my face, most noteably my right eye and forehead. It started with a very sore lump on my head just inside my hairline. Then more painful bumbs around my eyebrow sprang up. Of course the first thing the Ol' Salt advised was a trip to the doctor, to which I replied "I don't need a doctor, I can figure out what this is on my own". I went to work on a Wednesday, and by that afternoon I was in such pain I cannot even describe it. I took Aleves and a giant 800 ml. Motrin, neither of which cut the pain one bit. By Thursday evening, after researching on the net, I had my malady narrowed down to three things. I either had hives, scabies, or shingles. Nowhere could I find any evidence that hives could be acutely painful, just itchy. The scabies idea was taken from my dog, Dixie, whom you met in an earlier post. She is going through her seasonal sarcoptic mange episode and insists on chewing her butt on my bed, so I thought maybe I might have picked her mites up on my head. But the most fitting explanation came from several web sites on shingles. The only drawback was that I didn't remember ever having chicken pox when I was little. I remember measles and having to stay in bed with the curtains drawn so I wouldn't go blind (such a wonderful thought to put into a little girl's head), and I remember mumps and having to watch the Ice Capades on TV instead of going to the live performance with my sister (or maybe it was Peter Pan I watched - the original with Mary Martin), it was a long time ago. So, when I woke up on Friday with my right eye puffed out so much I could not see out of it, I broke down and went to an Urgent Care Clinic, calling into work that I would probably be in when I was done. Well, as soon as the Nurse Practitioner saw my face and heard my symptoms, she said "you have shingles". And because it was in my eye, she immediately made an emergency appointment with The Eye Institute of Pinellas County. Seems shingles in the eye could lead to blindness. Oh, boy! The second thing she said was "don't touch it, it's contagious" - to which I said "oh, now you tell me" - because I had been touching and rubbing the sore spots for three days! The news just kept getting better and better. So, off I went to the eye clinic. Got good news there at least. There was no involvement with the optic nerve, thank goodness. I received a prescription for a viral medication which I have been taking for a week now. There haven't been any new outbreaks of those nasty little blisters, but there are still a couple of lumps left on my head that make combing my hair uncomfortable - which is okay because I'm not much of a haircomber anyway, fingers have worked just fine thank you. And through all that I just have not been in the right frame of mind to sit down and compose. Mind you, I have started several entries, but somehow, even though they started out lighthearted and amusing, somewhere along the line they got maudlin and depressing. Could be because of the blue "funk" I have been in since the onset of my malady. (the picture above is not me - I didn't have the heart to photograph myself, but you get the idea - icky ain't it?)
But, I'm feeling much better now. Almost all of the crusty, scabby places on my faces have just about fallen off, and the pain is pretty much gone. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
All was not stopped, however. During my hiatus (which sounds like a vacation but wasn't) I made this really pretty baby blanket with hood. I got the pattern from a skein of Lion's Brand Pound of Love yarn. There were two patterns, one for crochet and one for knit. Since I knit better than I crochet, I chose the latter pattern. A sad story is connected with the blanket though. One of my supervisors at work, Kristina, became pregnant. Actually, there were four ladies in my work group who were trying or hoping to become pregnant, and Kristina was the first. We were all very happy for her, until she gave us the news that her baby may have Trisomy 13. For those not familiar with this (like me) Trisomy 13 is similar to Down's Syndrome, which is known as Trisomy 18. That means that an extra chromosome attaches itself to one of the 23 pairs of chromosomes that create a living being. In Down's Syndrome, the extra chromosome attaches to the 18th pair. So, in Trisomy 13 it attaches to the 13th pair. This creates all kinds of problems from webbed hands to heart problems to misshapen head. They first noticed problems with the baby's heart and, in the sonogram, the baby's hands. So, an amniocentesis was done, with the results coming back with the worst possible news. If you do any research about this, you will find out that these babies do not live much past birth, if they even make it that long. It was, I am sure, the most heart wrenching news for Kristina and her husband. Because she was pretty far along in her pregnancy - about 6 months I think - she and her husband, along with her doctors, made the hard decision to induce labor. This, I'm sure, was all the more difficult because the little one was kicking and moving in the womb. But in the end it was probably the best thing to do as they were able to have her for a short time and could hold her and even give her a bath. I learned this one day when Kristina and I had a moment alone and I told her about the blanket I had started. I asked her if she would like to have it, and she said that indeed she would love to have it. I was glad to know that even in her sadness she still had hope that one day she and her husband would again become pregnant. So I finished it and will give it to her tomorrow.
I also did something I never thought I could do:
I made an absolutely scrumptious (at least according to my granddaughter, Sammi) loaf of bread. I got the recipe from one of the blogs I read - forgive me, but I can't remember whose. I have been hunting for it, and when I find it I will post the rightful owner of the recipe. It's called Maple White Bread and if the owner of it by chance reads this blog, please let me know. If you would like the recipe, please leave a comment and I will be happy to give it to you. I just don't feel right printing it here in my blog without being able to give proper credit. I had been making a no knead bread, but the crust was coming out a little tough for the Ol' Salt and I knew I could find a bread recipe that wasn't too difficult and I got a winner first time. It smells wonderful and the inside is nice and moist. But the crust, well I can only say it is great, nice and soft but with an outer crunch. I'll bet it makes fantastic french toast.

Here's an update on the "garden". My maters are doint splendidly - beyond my wildest imagination! And what is harder to believe is there are absolutely no pests. No little green worms or any other bad bugs that I have seen. Look at my green beans. I am amazed . . . those are my babies!!! And so cute. I think it's going to be a bumper crop judging by the number of flowers there are.

The biggest problem I can see right now is what to do with the squash and zuccini. They are in the same box and planted kind of low, but they vine, and I'm not sure what I am going to do once they start growing out of room. Maybe hay . . .
I saw a much longer container that I think I will try next time. For now, though, things are looking really good. It gives me heart to think that I may actually be able to pull this off. Who knew?? Certainly not me. This month marks the one year mark. Although I don't think it has quite sunk in yet. The fact that I will be losing a whole paycheck when I retire doesn't sound too scary now. But come April of next year and I may not be so flippant about it. It's a major change coming and I just hope I'm up for it. I am so looking forward to not having to get up every morning and rushing off to work. I dream about getting up and having a leisure cup of coffee and tending to my garden and whatever else needs to be done. All those little things that I always plan to get to on the weekend but never seem to get to. I am starting a "To Do" list so I can track what I want to accomplish right away, as well as things I really want to get done. I can hardly wait . . .
Take care all and please leave a comment. K (aka Mad Beach Maven)