Hope & Eilish

Hope arrived last night.

After 10 months.

I suspect it could take a year to explain, but I also suspect it could take three. History could repeat itself you know: a year of memories could take… umm…. 5… and counting. 😉

I didn’t get the target-specific drug because… insurance. It took 10 months of tests, two weeks after the last results, one more week and a few meltdowns, but I got the 2nd best-recommended antibiotic, instead. And I was damn happy about it because I was desperate.

For months I’ve been in pain and exhausted. No mere fatigue – physically, emotionally, mentally exhausted. I’ve been overwhelmed, confused, forgetful, unable to recall or say the correct word. I would pick up a pen and by the time I blinked, I had no idea what I was after.

Last week, I realized I’d forgotten to complete a crucial work task, had a mini melt-down, scrambled pre-holiday to make it right, only to discover I had not forgotten. I’d done it the previous week. Completely, correctly and with absolutely no recollection of doing so. But the proof was there with my name on it, and after 10 months I was suddenly scared.

Maybe I’d had a stroke? Daily for months, I’ve been teary. Some days, tears would trickle out. Some days, I cried. My balance was off, I stumbled into walls and desks and doors.  My ears constantly rang. I dropped things no matter how hard I tried not to, sometimes repeatedly.

I had a lot of tests, a lot of scans. The most ridiculous was the supposition of a fractured hip. I doubted I had a fractured hip, but I had enough non-answers and medically-induced doubt of my own knowledge of my body that I subjected myself. My self-diagnosis had been kidney stones. I was correct about that part.

I refused a good number of tests, as well. I declined two of the last three offerings, one of which was eating a radio-active egg so it could be tracked through my digestive system in real-time. I declined the other because we didn’t have a diagnosis, so what sense would seeing a specialist in that field make?

I accepted the seemingly innocuous Hydrogen Breath Test, and it completely wrecked me. I wasn’t expecting side-affects from spending three hours breathing into bags. My symptoms got worse; way worse. Meltdown I-have-no-idea-what’s-going-on, spontaneously-bursting-into-tears worse.

The day after Christmas meltdown was due to a recorded message from my pharmacy informing me that they could not fill my prescription because… insurance. I went home, napped, cuddled Blu and cried.

Friday morning, I went to Meijer, where I did happily run into someone I adore who shared some much appreciated yet sad information. I had my third meltdown of the week after dropping a jar of tomato sauce, splattering shards of glass and globs of red goop all over the woman in front of me. She tried to wipe her white cable-knit boots off and ended up with slivers in her fingers. Phrases like ‘pay for this,’ ‘liability insurance,’ and ‘I’m sorry,’ flew back and forth between us. Things changed when I burst into tears. She and her friend hugged me. She told me not to worry, that it could have just as easily been her because she drops things all the time.

I cried all the way to the car, went home, napped, cuddled Blu and cried some more.

Friday afternoon, I received a robo-call that my antibiotic was ready for pick-up. At that point, I knew I wasn’t getting the other one, hadn’t expected to get anything until after the holidays, so I ecstatically accepted what I could get.

I decided chicken wings would help – no sauce, of course. Only salt & vinegar, carrots, celery and blue cheese. I took my to-go order home, and following in the theme of the day, sadly discovered I had no blue cheese. I did have someone else’s smooshed chocolate cake, lumped into a bowl. It was gross, so I threw it away and moved on.

Dose 1 of the Augmentin horse-pill made me more nauseous than I already was.

Dose 2 induced 24 non-stop hours of volcanic belching and prolonged gassing, alternately terrifying and offending HBlu.

At dose 3, it sounded like I’d swallowed the MGM lion and he really wanted out of my internal mess.

By day 3 (dose 4 & 5), the expected antibiotic effects kicked in, the lion was still protesting and it occurred to me that not as much liquid was coming out as I was forcing in. I gave myself a pass. Recliner and mindless phone games all day.

Day 4. I could… think. I thought about my ambitious list created pre-holiday time off. I thought, figures. Major projects thwarted, again. My biggest achievement was taking out the garbage and sleeping in 4-hour segments.

Yesterday, I did some minimal straightening up. Which after months of not doing any straightening up was monumental for me.

I put away my Christmas-themed socks to make room for 6 pairs of Christmas-gifted socks. I took a shower.

I read the provided one-sheet on SIBO diagnosis. It had been explained to me and was easy to understand. Bacteria is a normal part of large colon health. It is not normal in the small intestine. The small intestine bacteria eat your food, then excrete hydrogen and methane. You’re being robbed of nutrients and energy and infused with gasses.

Small intestine bacterial overgrowth symptoms: abdominal bloating/distension, GI issues, nausea, vomiting, body aches, malabsorption, malnourishment, brain fog, mental confusion, poor short-term memory, difficulty concentrating, exhaustion, severe fatigue, slurred speech, gait disturbances.

That’s when Hope showed up.

It might as well have been a physical flick of a lighter in a cave. I got it. I suddenly got it all, connected the dots. Low food absorption – low absorption – of everything. Low absorption of the extra vitamin D and iron and ibuprofen I’d been taking to help combat symptoms. Low absorption of allergy medications, fibromyalgia medications.

10 days from now, treatment for this bacterial monster will be complete. Realistically, it may take another dosing, it may take months until my body’s re-absorbed optimal levels of nutrients. That’s not ok.

I’m already impatient with Hope, so I will go one step further.

Lord, I ask you for healing with faith that it will come.

So, here’s to reasonable medical explanations, modified diets, and a healthier 2020 than 2019.

Oh, Billie Eilish, right?  Day 5, partial re-possession of brain, getting lost in hours of video, interviews, raw music, concert footage, fanzines, endless articles. Oh, and Bellyache, yeah.

Quote for the week: 2019 12 31 popular theory clusterfuck jakorte

ps. rock painting by paula pruitt

 

 

Chucking Chuck

Splat.

It turned out that Jeff hadn’t been expecting me, at all. “No! No! Not you!” He exclaimed. “Sadie!” Jeff shouted and pointed. “It’s Sadie!” He waved his arms as he launched another piece of meat skyward, calling, “Here, Puppy, Puppy!”.

We completed an impressive, synchronized peer-over.

Hyper-girl was ping-ponging around, running a non-direct, Jack Russell route. She was making a bee-line toward the tree line, and Jeff was chucking chuck to get her to come back.

Our only slightly attentive lassie, was only slightly interested in what he had to say, but she was starting to sniff out the meat. Each morsel delay lasted about 2 seconds, then she’d turn her back and resume her directionally impaired run for freedom.

I resituated my grease-smudged glasses, and scooped the fallen bit from my sneaker top where it had finalized its landing. Struggling to quickly (aka ungracefully) open our escape-proof gate, I wasn’t exactly able to immediately bolt down the stairs.

Sadie saw me. Her homeward-galloping greeting was perfectly interrupted by another falling fragment. She was swift. I wasn’t swifter.

I had an advantage, though. By placing her tail-end toward me, I was in prime position to scoop up the little scoundrel just as she scarfed another bite of my supposed supper.

When she was safely back up-top, I set her down, and turned to Jeff. “How the heck did that happen?”

He’d been flipping a burger and caught a blur in the corner of his eye. When he fully turned towards it, he saw Sadie happily prancing along.

“Ok.” I said. “But, how did it happen? The gate was closed. I couldn’t get it open!”

“Hmm,” he remarked. “I kinda wondered what you were doing….”

Jeff and I mirrored surprise faces, and simultaneously scanned. She’d ghosted.

Sadie Bug Lady Bug and I played a one-sided game of tag, for a 5-minute while. Jeff watched and coached, offering wrangling advice and helpful stealth tactics. I finally got her.

Carrying Her Highness of Happiness up the stairs, again, I proposed we watch her to figure out her Houdini act. I waited at the bottom of the stairs. Jeff waited atop; at the barrier.

Soon enough, a patchwork head and two frisky paws popped through to the right of the door.

She was about to make a jump for it, but Jeff snagged her wiggly butt and hauled her back.

Sadie had, somewhat smartly, squeezed between the wider, wooden railing slats, and jumped down to the steps. We remedied with additional, in-between slats.

Since, we weren’t sure she’d be able to gauge the inappropriateness of a 5-foot leap to the ground, Sadie’s future deck-scapades were seriously supervised.

There were a few other canine escapes. The first one was accidentally resolved, which might have made my latter incident easier to resolve. If I’d known about that first one….

Quote for the Week: 2019 03 26 Where there’s a will there’s way jakorte

 

 

Memorable

The first time we went to church, Jeff was reluctant to ask if anyone knew our caller. I’m not sure why. When I asked about it, he just said, “Next time.” I didn’t push it, because, well, I wasn’t the reason we were there.

The second time we went, I encouraged him to ask. Jeff said, “Ok.” He slid down the pew to ask a woman he sort-of knew. He remembered her name from years ago, as a friend of Nannee. Surprisingly, she remembered Jeff quite well, and enveloped him in a back-slapping hug.

It was surprising, to me, at the time. You’d think after about the 100th time someone he hadn’t seen in 30-40 years recognized him, remembered him and was happy to see him – that I wouldn’t be astonished.

I never got used to it, certainly never expected it. It happened a lot. Like the time Jeff and I were standing in line to pay at the food auction. When we were just a few people back from cashing out, Jeff left me to pay while he went to get the car. The woman behind me tapped me on the should and asked, “Is that Jeff?” I confirmed and she lit up with a huge smile. “I was his teacher!” As she told me he was such a nice young man, I was picturing a junior high connection.

When Jeff came back in to load up our purchases, he was greeted with a hug. He explained that she was one of his early grade-school teachers.  (3rd grade, maybe?) That surprised me because I’m sure he was a little shorter and had a lesser amount of facial hair at that age. I’d never seen him sans mustache ad beard, and momentarily wondered if I’d recognize him at first glance without them. 

The final recognition surprise came a few days after Jeff passed. I received a phone call from the coroner’s office. It was the medical examiner offering personal condolences with the explanation that he had been Jeff’s pediatrician when Jeff was very young. He wanted me to know that he remembered Jeff very well and fondly, too.

Thinking about it now, so many people saw something in Jeff that could easily be dismissed as recognition; but I think what they were really remembering was his never-changing soul.

(And the fact that his laugh was so distinct, someone an aisle over in the grocery store would rush around the corner and exclaim, “I knew it HAD to be YOU!” Happened. More than once.)

Quote for the Week:

2018 02 06 faces are easily recognizable jakorte

Bonus School Photo Collage (a gift, compiled by my niece):

Jeff school photo collage 20180206_190706~2

 

Called

I answered the call because Jeff was busy cooking, and said, “Hey, could you get it? Please?”

He also added that he didn’t want dinner to burn, which added a little extra unspoken urgency as to why I should. I don’t like answering the phone. Never have. Teenage girls on phones for hours? Not me. Music for hours was my choice.

I don’t like talking on the phone. My timing is always off. I adore text even though it sometimes takes me a good ten minutes to write out what could have been said in three. Phone calls also require you and the person you are planning to talk to be available at the exact same moment.

Anyway, the point is – I didn’t often answer our phone. The guy with the gift of gab usually handled that.

But, that night, I acquiesced. Because, dinner.

Everything that followed “Hello” was a bit awkward and odd. I was told upfront that I was talking to a complete stranger who was offering kindness and support. I wasn’t clear why and I had no idea what to do with this situation, but Jeff was unavailable and so I listened.

She introduced herself as some sort of committee member of Tecumseh United Methodist Church. She was just checking on us after our most recent loss; said she was just seeing if we needed anything, offering her support, extending an invitation to visit the church.

We talked for a few minutes, or rather she talked. I said, “Oh,” “Ok’” and “Thank you” a lot. Then she asked if she could call us back in a few weeks, just to see how we were doing. I thought it’d seem kind of rude to say no, so I said, “Sure.”

When I hung up, Jeff asked me who it was. “I don’t know her name, but…” I started. (although I 100% believe she must have told me when she introduced herself, I’d found the whole thing befuddling)  “… she’s from… the church,” I finished, referring to the church where Sally’s funeral had been.

“Well, what’d she want?”

“Um,” I said. “Something about a committee that checks on people after someone dies and wanted to know if we were doing ok.”

Jeff listened intently to my sketchy, scattered bits of recall, nodding his head like everything I was saying made perfect sense to him.

“Hmm,” he said, with an accepting nod. “Supper’s done.”

Quote for the Week:

2018 01 23 There seem to have been more leaps of faith jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Phone: Pro

Phone: Con

Phone: 1990 Argument that caller ID invades privacy

 

Gingerbread with Broccoli Trees

One of the requirements was that the house be only constructed using edible items.

We’d already purchased chili-shaped red cherry gummies, so I ran down to our store. Of course, as long as I was there, I eyed the stock; evaluating each item for inspiration. Super-Hot Tamales, spicy Red Hots, old-fashioned Fireballs, cinnamon flavored licorice twists and mango-habanero gum, and dried chili peppers piled up on the kitchen counter. I also grabbed a few packets of blueberry habanero cookies and two spicy chocolate bars, for dinner.

Next stop was Country Market. In the baking supply section, I basketed powdered sugar and food coloring. Intending to pick up a few cute mini-tubes of icing, I saw an easier way. Colorful packages of hard icing letters! I grabbed two sets of those, thinking I’d use them to add ‘Michigan Hot Sauce Club’ to the roof.

In the candy aisle, I slowly evaluated every red or green item in the candy aisle. It was disappointing to determine there wasn’t anything especially unique or anything I didn’t already have. I’d seen some adorable trees made by stacking Hershey Kisses, though. I thought they’d be cute even though they weren’t ‘hot’, I picked up one bag of white chocolate peppermint kisses . Just in case I came up creatively short, later. And, in case, I felt like eating some.

“Ok,” I thought to myself. “What food looks like a tree?” Years ago, a young lady who recently became engaged, used to call broccoli ‘little trees.’ When I got to produce, I stopped in front of a bin full of green stalks and crowns. I stood there a while wondering if broccoli would hold up for a week or so, or for however long the house would be on display.

Thinking it probably would wilt, or worse, I also realized I hadn’t come across any broccoli trees on any of the many, many gingerbreads I’d found online. Logically, that made sense. I mean, no kid’d want vegetables on their candy-covered house, right? Still, since my mind was already headed that way, it leaped to jalapenos.

Jalapeno peppers seemed to sturdy. We bought them in large quantities and they lasted a long time at our house. I contemplated that pile and figured out that jalapenos look nothing like trees. I couldn’t even imagine a way to make them into trees, so I sighed and turned the carriage around. That’s when I had an ‘aha’ moment. If I drizzled white icing on them, the wrinkly little habaneros in front of me could turn into snow-covered pine trees. Yeah, it was stretch.

I miss judged how much décor a candy house would need. So, I ran a little short on the idea of using the licorice ropes to resemble logs. I arranged, rearranged and shuffled candies around on the kitchen table for a few hours before I came up with a sweet plan. Done with the decorating, I stood back and shook my head. The Hot House looked nothing like I’d imagined. I knew I wasn’t going to be entering it into any contest, that was for sure.

When I revisited the mess the next evening after work, it honestly didn’t look as horrible as I thought it had. The structure had held together, was kinda cute and definitely unique.  I knew there wasn’t going to be another theme’d like it. I knew it wasn’t likely I’d be winning any awards for construction or beauty, but, maybe, it would at least be amusing. I know Jeff would’ve laughed, so I took my entry downtown.

Somewhere amongst my belongings, is a red ribbon that reads, “People’s Choice Award” and an old camera card with a color picture…

Jeff Hot House Gingerbread House

 

Gingerbread (Hot House)

I can’t place the timing, which always irks me. I wouldn’t even be questioning the timing, if there hadn’t been that recent ‘50 years ago’ today newspaper story. That startled me into a memory, too.

I know what happened, but I’m not always sure how or why what happened, happened. So, on that note, I confess: I’m not at all sure how I got to the beginning point of the story I’m about to tell you. Obviously, some things had to have happened first.

Like the conversation, Jeff and I had. That’s easy enough to recall, because… Wait, wait. It could have been something that came up in a BNI meeting, but it would have had to occur at the end of September 2006. I can’t help thinking that would have been pretty far in advance. I suppose, though, as area business were looking ahead to the holiday season, it might not have been unreasonable announce plans for an open-house and contest.

It’s something Jeff and I talked about, were excited about and planned to do: enter a gingerbread house contest at a local, main street yarn store. I’m sure they carried more than yarn, but the first time I entered the shop wasn’t to shop. I was there to drop off our creation. Near tears, I didn’t linger.

Physically, it was only my creation, assembled in the weeks following Jeff’s death. I didn’t have much time, and I’d never made a gingerbread house, before. The ideas and enthusiasm were just as much shared as everything in our lives was.

Jeff started it, so I expected Jeff would be making it, too. But, there I was, a few weeks into widowhood, thinking about how much fun it would have been to do it together. Perhaps, well probably, I was still in a sort of shock. Functioning and trying to keep moving along. I decided to keep the plan, and set out into the internet world of gingerbread and patterns and royal icing.

My edges weren’t straight, my technique was terrible. My royal icing either didn’t harden fast enough or hardened too fast to use. Eventually, I baked and sugar-solder assembled on a plain cardboard base something that happily looked like a lot house. I stared at the pile of decorations I’d amassed and the naked shell for a while wondering, “Now, what?”

I decided to let the structural bones set-up overnight and dragged out the top of our Tupperware cake carrier to protect it.

Quote for the Week: 

2018 01 02 A good overnight set could either make a lot jakorte

Bonus Photo & Story:

Tecumseh Herald Gingerbread House Jeff and Eric 1967