Mired in Mud!

We have had a very mild winter compared with last year – no snow to speak of and plenty of days with temps in the 40s and 50s.  I’m very happy about this because it means we don’t have to use as much propane to heat the house, the chickens and goats aren’t suffering from the cold and we haven’t had a single ‘snow day’ at school.  Since it’s been wet as well as mild, we have enough water in the cistern to shower more than once a week and can even do laundry (our largest water use) regularly.

The downside (and isn’t there always a downside?) is that our dirt driveway is a muddy quagmire.  And Indiana mud isn’t just wet dirt – it’s a sticky clay that gathers on your boots with every step until you have acquired several pounds of muck that threaten to drag off your footwear with the next step!  It’s nearly impossible to drive in (as the UPS driver discovered when he got stuck delivering a holiday package) and we’ve taken to parking on a higher and dryer patch of ground rather than in front of the house. muddyIt also diminishes the already limited ambiance of the homestead both inside (due to the amount of mud tracked in) and outside.  Combined with the grey and dreary skies, dark leafless trees and short days it is an altogether depressing landscape right now.

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Just a Little Blip

I sometimes wish for a night away from it all and last Friday that wish was granted.  But I didn’t get a Spa get-away for an early birthday present, and that night wasn’t the least bit relaxing.  Friday started like any school day – up at 5 AM, at school by 6:30, in the trenches at 7:30.  First period sped by as the 8th graders discussed inherited traits and how they could possibly be the only person in their family with curly hair, and I was still on a roll when I switched gears to go over body systems with the 7th graders in second period.

I lost ground suddenly without warning, my vision blurred, I felt a constriction in my chest and had the urge to vomit.  I thought I would pass out and I completely lost my train of thought and ability to communicate instructions for the prepared activity.  Luckily I had an Aide in my classroom and I asked her to watch over things while I ducked down the hall to see the school nurse.  I told her I needed her to take my blood pressure and she did, all the while telling me about a stomach virus that had taken out another teacher, “That could be what’s ailing you,” she said. Then she saw my blood pressure reading – 180/110.  By the time I arrived at the emergency room it was 213/125.

So I spent the rest of Friday in the ER bay hooked up to an IV drip and oxygen, electrodes measuring my heart rhythm, a blood pressure cuff strapped around my arm, enduring multiple blood draws and scheming to leave as soon as possible.  “If you cause a distraction, I’m sure I can disable the alarm on this thing,” I told the school secretary who’d drawn the short straw and had driven me to the hospital.  Unfortunately as bored as she was sitting there and answering email while she watched the nurses torture me, she refused to help me break out!  Hours went by.  I was bored. The nurse told me to be patient. The secretary told me to be patient.  I told them as a single mom to four kids and a middle school teacher I never had time to be patient – I always had more things to do than time to do them!

Finally the doctor reappeared but instead of releasing me she insisted I stay the night – my blood pressure hadn’t stabilized and they needed additional blood samples to monitor for heart damage.  If I left it would be against medical advice and I’d have to pay for the entire bill out of pocket. With that terse and frightening (the bill part) explanation she disappeared, the school secretary gave me a rueful shrug and the nurses trundled me off to the second floor to intensive care.  I was quite the novelty in the ICU – a patient who swung herself off the gurney and walked over to the bed instead of being heaved there by orderlies, cracking jokes as they hooked me back up to the numerous tubes and wires in the new room.  I’m pretty sure I only ended up in the ICU due to a lack of beds in the regular ward.

Truthfully I wasn’t feeling much like joking around by that time.  The blood pressure medicine was a vasodilator – it opens the blood vessels and it triggered a massive migraine. I was in pain and feeling a little anxious. I had to scramble to arrange for the kids to be picked up after school and to be told I was having some tests in the hospital. They were on their own for the night (and probably slept better than I did as they expected me home in the morning).  I passed a dreary night with the lack of privacy and all the attendant indignities and discomfort one might expect in the ICU and Saturday didn’t bring much relief.  Mid-day on Saturday, my blood pressure lower but not ‘normal’ I was wheeled downstairs for a ultrasound stress test.

The results of the test were inconclusive as my blood pressure spiked again during the test, but at last, with an appointment for additional tests, sheaves of paper – instructions and prescriptions – and admonitions to get a primary care physician as soon as possible, they released me late Saturday afternoon. I went home and slept for about 16 hours.  My blood pressure isn’t where it should be yet, even with three different medications (and me leaping on board the natural diet approach to hypertension). I have an appointment next Tuesday for a 4 hour long ‘nuclear medicine stress test’ which will hopefully provide some answers.

In the meantime I’m to try to have less stress in my life (so I hope they don’t send the bill anytime soon).  That’s not a prescription I’ll find easy to fill.

Posted in health, healthcare, heart, hypertension, stress | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments


IMAG2082Fall is here at last after a lingering summer. The trees glow in their autumn coats of gold, orange and red and the air is cool and damp with hints of the colder weather waiting in the wings. I love fall and regret that it is the shortest of seasons, with summer encroaching into September under the guise of days of Indian summer and winter shouldering in too soon, striping the trees of their leaves with fierce winds in November. It is the best time to walk in the woods leaves crunching underfoot or to enjoy the scent of hay piled up in the barn while you dig your fingers into the thick winter coats as you give your goats a scratch. It’s the time for soup and baking bread and digging out the wool socks. It’s the time to enjoy the delicious combination of crisp air and warm sun against your face as you rake leaves and prepare the garden for the winter months.

But because it is such a short season there’s never enough time to enjoy it! With the memory of last winter weighing on me I’ve made a list of things to do to prepare for this winter. First off is finishing adding skirting to the mobile home – at its last location it was backed into a hillside so some of the skirting that came with it is less than a foot tall and useless to us. We have a good 20-25 feet to fill in at this point. I’d like to get the porch back on the house – I had hoped to do that this week but it’s been very rainy. We need to order hay for winter feed and straw to line the goat stalls and place around the chicken coop (did I share that we have our own little flock now – housed in a converted shipping container) to insulate our farm animals. And we need gravel for the driveway so that we don’t get bogged down in mud/snow again! We have propane in the tank – enough for the beginning of winter anyway and despite the cool nights we are holding off on turning on the heat to better conserve it. “Layers!” I tell the kids, “Lots of layers!” They reply that they have no layers that still fit from last winter so shopping for warm clothing goes on the list too.

The Farmer’s Almanac says our winter will be colder than normal, with less precipitation but more snowfall and while leading meteorologists are not so pessimistic they hedge their bets saying it all depends on whether El Nino develops or not. I shall hope for the best and prepare for the worst (to the extent I can anyway). And while I scurry around like a squirrel storing nuts for the winter I will try to remember to pause and enjoy the cool breezes, beautiful leaves and the scent of wood smoke wafting down from the neighbor’s house.


Posted in cold, fall, fire, winter | 1 Comment