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On being still

Be still and wait. Hard on any day to remember or accomplish, damn impossible when a loved one is lying in ICU. So I sit here in the waiting room, waiting for visiting hours to start back, taking every moment I can to be with my love, my life, my Phoebe. She is the better part of me. My breathing feels ragged, suffocating, the oxygen missing, I need to hear her voice, to look into her eyes, to tell her I love her and for her to react. I sit as still as I can and wait. I sit and try to nurture my mustard seed.


Today is day eight of our saga. Last Sunday my wife Phoebe started running a fever and when I checked her left foot it was extremely swollen and hot to the touch. We made the decision to go to the emergency room At Emory of Decatur, we should have just driven back to Columbus and gone to St Francis to start with, I guess we thought that with Emory’s reputation it was the best place to go. Little did we know we would see a pair of podiatry residents who apparently did not know big words such as sepsis or basic signs of an infection. Their solution was to put a cast on it, the only thing that saved Phoebe was the ER doctor we saw for just a few moments at the beginning of the night had labs drawn to test for infection and to order Vancomycin to start treatment. Perhaps like us he believed when he turned her treatment over to the residents that they would have a clue about her condition and treat her accordingly. So they put on the cast, wrote a prescription for some low level antibiotics since I asked them about the infection and discharged us from the ER with instructions not to put weight on her foot to further aggravate the bone that showed broken on the x-ray.

We proceeded to head home cancelling our plans with family for the Fourth of July. A few hours after we arrived back home we received a call from a Nurse Practitioner informing us that there was an infection in blood stream and that Phoebe had sepsis. We proceeded to the ER at St Francis after grabbing a quick bite to eat, in hindsight that was a mistake as we were up against a clock. When we were called back to triage, Phoebe’s blood pressure was extremely low in the 70/40 range they tried a different cuff with the same results, and rolled her immediately back to a room. Different machine and same blood pressure, went to a smaller blood pressure cuff and same reading. Through out this Phoebe was in an extreme amount of pain, she was dizzy and getting delirious. By this time we had been up for better part of 48 hours. They moved her to ICU. The next 24 hours were very rough as she was in pain and complaining she could not breathe. visiting hours in ICU are very limited and they called me in the middle of the night as she was being very belligerent and insisting they call me. I tried to get her to calm down and unfortunately it was not working. When I was finally allowed into see her she was so angry with me and the world in general. it was a very long day, trying to keep her calm and not hurt herself by pulling out an IV or the central line they put into the vein in her neck.

The days have been a blur, Orthopedics operated on her foot Wednesday draining 100CCs of puss of of her ankle, the cast had done nothing but exasperate the situation. She came back from surgery on a ventilator which she is still on and will probably be so for several more days. They had her on a cocktail of fluids, paralytic, sedative, antibiotics, various electrolytes, etc. 2 IV poles full of pumps and all of the various bags. Slowly they have weaned her off of the paralytic, reduced the sedative, tried to reduce the medication keeping her blood pressure up but she started going down again so they readded it. She has a great team of doctors and nurses caring for her it helps to reduce some of the stress, just being able to ask questions and getting back clear answers.

The hardest part of all though is the waiting, the long hours just sitting by her side, having to leave her side when visiting hours are over. There is the guilt I feel for sleeping through the night because of the medications I am on to combat insomnia. Then there is the guilt that I feel for being on mood stabilizers that keep me from being overly stressed. I know these are important medicines without which I would be a manic depressive mess, but it does not relieve the guilt that gnaws at me. I want to take her pain and carry it for her, taking on her suffering so she does not have to endure it. Phoebe is my heart and soul, without her I am nothingness. So I sit here with her every moment that I can, waiting for her to wake up, letting her know she is loved.

People Forget

It is easy for people to place blame on the President of the United States because it gives them a singular person to blame for what they perceive as failings in the status quo. Let me repeat that, perceived failings in the status quo. Yes we are experiencing inflation, gas prices are driven up by oil companies and organizations such as OPEC, speculation by rich investors and unscrupulous businesses. It is also the same with blaming the President for a shortage in baby formula. The President of the United States does not get up every morning and set gas prices and production numbers, he is not the purchasing manager for baby formula companies, nor is he the quality control supervisor who failed and caused a large recall on various baby formulas.

People forget that we have a capitalist economy, prices are not regulated by the government but controlled by the businesses who buy and sell goods, by labor markets that at times do drive up the costs by demanding living wages above the threshold of the minimum wage. For many industries employee pay rates have been stagnant or anemic for the last 30-40 years as the prices for the goods that they produce have risen. We have finally reached a critical moment where workers are not taking low paying jobs, not going back to the same low paying jobs they lost during the pandemic, they have suffered and reached a breaking point where they want living wages.

Yes right now the supply chain is in a mess, gas prices are up, cost of goods are going up, and businesses are reaping windfall profits in many industries. Other companies went under during the pandemic, over a million United States citizens lives have been lost the last 2-2 1/2 years, over 85 million reported cases of Covid in the United States. So yes we have many problems to overcome as the supply chain transitions back to levels pre Covid. And yes the transition is going to be painful, a worldwide contraction of business does not just right itself overnight. So, if you need someone to blame go ahead, use the President as your scape goat if that is what makes you feel better. If going down the road of hate and anger is what helps you make it through the day, no words I or anyone else can write or say will change that. As for me and my household we are putting our faith and trust in God, not looking for anyone to blame but praying for those who are broken and bitter, praying for those who are struggling financially, and praying for businesses to do the right thing.

I must have been on vacation

Saturday morning after returning from doing some shopping I just happened to look down at my water meter cover while walking by it. I was surprised to see that it was soaking wet, so I opened my garage and grabbed my water key and proceeded to open up the water meter box. I was greeted with a waterfall running from the yard into the box. I quickly turned off the water at the meter and called the water company. I went ahead and grabbed my 2 shovels as I waited on the technician to arrive as I expected him to say it is on my side of the meter which means the water company is not responsible for private property which begins at the customer side of the meter.

Sure enough the technician arrived after 15 minutes from my placing the call, was very surprised at the timely response. And as I suspected the issue was on my side and he offered his condolences but could do nothing for me since the leak stopped once I had turned off the water line coming into the meter. So the fun began and I started digging, as quickly as it had stopped running when turned off I suspected I would not have to go too far to find the leak. After digging a small 3′ by 1′ by 1′ trench I turned the water back on to see if I was getting close and got my first cold shower of the day as water sprayed up about 5 feet in the air.

Now the hard part began, digging by hand with a little garden shovel to expose the water line and the pressure control valve assembly. It was such a mess that I had to dig at the clay with my bare hands to clear around the line and below the pressure regulator. It became apparent as I uncovered the pressure regulator that the output side connector to the house main line was the culprit as it was literally only connected by a thin strip of what remained of the pipe. I would have taken pictures of the damage but I was soaked and covered in mud with no way to wash my hands which were covered in mud.

So, I got ready to take out the old parts, however I needed pipe wrenches to disconnect from the water meter side. Thus began the first shopping trip for tools, off to Harbor Freight for pipe wrenches and bought two of the last four they had in stock. Get back and fight with the pipes coming in to the regulator, took a bit but was able to loosen up the right nut connecting to the pipe coming from the meter. Then I had to decide where to cut the PVC mainline since I would need enough space to add a union, once I made the cut what little piece of metal left on the output side broke the rest of the way.

Then began the back and forth to hardware store to get the pressure regulator fixed and reconnected to the house water supply. Took 2 more trips to get everything connected properly. In the middle of trying to get everything connected it started raining and I got completely soaked from head to toe.

Plumbing part all complete

Left it overnight to dry as much as possible to determine if there were any leaks coming from the regulator or the PVC connections. Finished it up on Sunday with a new meter box instead of the small round box I uncovered while digging.

new box installed and old pieces ready for trash

So ends another vacation saga, would like to just have a normal vacation one day in which nothing goes wrong or breaks.

Mental Health Awareness Month

There is so much I want to say about mental health and the toll it takes on individuals and families. I just cannot seem to get them to come out right from my mind to the keyboard. Some of that is because I have mental illness and it can, at times make concentrating difficult. Even though I am in a good place with my medications, nicely balanced and able to focus on many of the tasks I need to accomplish, there is still that underlying trepidation that any given day my medication may stop working for me. I have been there many times over the last two decades, reaching a point where the medication just fails to do what it is intended to do. The only choice is to swap things up and spend 6 months to even a year, adjusting different medications. Unfortunately when that happens my life is still going on, still have a job to do and a family to take care of, that does not stop just because I am in trouble mentally. No, life has to go on and it is in those darkest moments, when my emotions and my thoughts drag me down that I feel totally alone in the world. That is a bad place to be, especially if you have a family and a job, I am lucky that I have a bit of stubbornness that keeps me from giving up.

There have definitely been many times in my life when I wanted to give up, where not living felt like it would be the better choice. Long stretches where my mental train was a roller coaster; top of the world to a bottomless pit. That is a scary place to be when those emotions are flip flopping multiple times a day, no triggers, just random emotional states, and when your high water marks are still deeply depressed it can be overwhelming to the point where you just want it to end. When I was in high school I cut and burned myself to feel something other than despair. In the pain there was clarity, in clarity there was purpose, in purpose there was safety. I also self medicated with nicotine and on occasion with alcohol, lucky for me the alcohol did not become an addiction. The nicotine on the other hand stayed with me for 20+ years, from the age of thirteen and into my thirties, I still crave cigarettes after 15 years of not smoking.

So I celebrate the fact that I have not succumbed to my mental illness, but I also understand the toll it can take and why people eventually give up the fight. I have come close but I do not look down on anyone who gave up, some say it is the easy way out, but I suspect those who do have not spent a lifetime in the trenches fighting against themselves trying to survive.

The Human Condition

Some days we are as delicate and sensitive to the changes around us, we become wisps of smoke pouring down.

It only takes a small amount of air to interrupt our flow and send us scattering away.

Something to Ponder

Ezekiel 22 29 The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the foreigner, denying them justice.

The Poor

This is a repost of yesterdays post, my wife said it should be in a newer, clearer translation. So here is the English Standard version.

Deuteronomy 15 7:11
7 “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, 8 but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. 9 Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly[a] on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin. 10 You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. 11 For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’

The Poor

I am just going to throw this out, just a short passage from the Old Testament. Something to maybe get people thinking about how they view those who are impoverished.

Deuteronomy 15 7:11
7 If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:

8 But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.

9 Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee.

10 Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.

11 For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.

Hurry up and wait

If the Military invented it, hospital doctors perfected it. My wife Phoebe is a diabetic and was hospitalized with a severe infection of her foot yesterday. They did do an MRI yesterday once they finally got her admitted, however we have to wait for the Doctor to come by and give us the results and let us know what is going on. So, we sit and we wait, and wait, then we wait some more. Maybe we will get lucky and see the doctor before afternoon turns into evening.

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