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» Saturday, May 16, 2020Tilting at Medical Windmills
On Sunday morning, James was showing signs that his UTI from April (see April 21 entry) had returned, and come back worse than ever. He drank as much as he could, and was doing quite well until Sunday evening, when he started running a fever. James shot off a note to his urologist after he finished with work.
Sunday night and into Monday we became even more worried: his urine output had halved despite the fact he was drinking more water, and he gained five pounds overnight. At noon we drove to Kaiser so he could take a urine test as the urologist had ordered. He worked the rest of the day, but was feeling worse every hour. At dinner time, we decided we had to fish or cut bait. So we had dinner, waffled a bit, then about 9:30 we took our nightly showers, got into fresh clothes, put Tucker and Snowy to bed, and drove to Urgent Care. Of course I packed snacks and things to do, and a good thing I separated the snacks into "his" and "hers" bags, because they took him back and left me to cool my heels in the car from eleven p.m. through 4:30 a.m. (I did expect this, but it was still annoying.) I tried to sleep, but Butch's seats are damn uncomfortable even with a back support and extra cushion; I still had the car blanket and that kept me warm, as it got down into the 40s, but Fred the traveling pillow has long been relegated to the spare room. Instead I used a crescent-shaped travel pillow, which would have worked if I wasn't so distracted: twice I had to pee, several times cars drove up with people dropped off at Urgent Care, I kept losing things in the front seat (like my glasses and my phone), James and I were texting each other, and at three a.m. a mockingbird started singing in the parking lot. Eventually I just pulled out my tablet and started to read.
James spent a miserable five and a half hours being prodded, stabbed, scanned, and other diagnostic miseries. They took blood and urine, scanned his bladder (they said he is emptying properly, so we worried about his kidneys seemingly needlessly), and also revealed he has a hernia. I wasn't in the treatment room with him to turn out the lights between pokes and prods, so he had to lie the whole time with the Nazi-interrogation-fluorescent lights in his eyes. In a way, even in Butch's non-ergonomic seat, I had a more comfortable place to perch. I was even almost warm enough, especially when I doubled up the blanket.
So, it turns out the UTI du jour is e.coli, and he's also anemic. They gave him two bags of antibiotic intravenously. When he emerged we were both so tired it needed all four of our eyes to get us home, but thankfully, since we'd showered before we left, we could just get undressed and go straight to bed. We slept till eleven and then James tried to work, but he was still feverish and after two hours could not read the teeny-tiny type on his computer screen. Then he gave up.
Of course the doctor put him on an antibiotic, but even that caused a problem. James made it clear to both the Urgent Care doctor and the nurse who was assigned to him that he could not take Ciproflaxin because of its interaction with hydrochloroquine. And guess what we came home with a prescription for! So we had to call them back and get something else that would not affect him. They finally decided on amoxicillin clavulanate, which, of course, we had to go pick up. What fun.
His fever didn't break until Wednesday, although it went off and on up and down to 99 point whatever for a few days. But between the fever and the anemia he's been feeling rotten and his temper has ebbed and flowed. All we did on Thursday was go to Publix and that wiped him out, and he was really upset about it. You see, even after two heart attacks he's still not used to being sick for any extended period of time. James' way of "being sick" used to be him coming home early from work or fading in the middle of an afternoon with "I'm cold" (even in 90 degree weather), going to bed early, calling in sick the next day and spending the morning in bed to drag downstairs about noon to eat soup and stare dully at the television. At night he'd feel better, go to bed, and go back to work the next day, all well.
It didn't help that his arthritis has been acting up and his back has been very painful. He finally had me put on the cream the rheumatologist prescribed, and that did help, thank goodness!
He did feel a little better on Friday, when we hosted a "socially distanced" picnic in the garage. I went out there in the morning, measured the garage, and marked safe distances out in chalk with a tape measure after backing the vehicles out. Aubrey had to work, and Juanita had something come up, and Mel and Phyllis had a medical appointment, but Alice and Ken were able to come and that was nice, to be able to chat in person! Of course I made sure the downstairs bath was nice and tidy, and stuck a sign on the toilet that said "Sanitized for your protection by the Sheldon Cooper Cleaning Co., Ltd" as a joke.
We ended up going to Dragon for our weekly eat-out meal out again; since they've been closed over a month I want to give them as much business as I can. I tried the barbecue ribs and they were excellent and meaty, but they have to be saved for a treat—much too rich.
» Saturday, May 09, 2020The Tweaks of Life
Well, Wednesday we had a definite pause. We had gone to Lidl and then to Publix, and James seemed a little "off." He seemed very drowsy. Well, when we came home, I checked out his meds and was horrified. I had sorted the day pills into the evening slots and vice versa. He probably hadn't noticed since Sunday! So he'd taken an Ambien this morning. Needless to say, the rest of the day was shot.
Thursday we were all much more awake, and did the trip to Patak's we had put off yesterday because the line was so long and we had perishables in the car. They were out of pastrami, to James' dismay, but we got Italian sausage, stew beef, breakfast sausage, and some mortadella. To our absolute surprise, three EMTs walked in, not one of them wearing masks! You would think health workers would know better! Before we came home, we bought gasoline at Costco before the price goes back up.
Friday it rained most of the day and nowhere to go anyway. We made the best of it: James got Mexico Lindo food for lunch, I got chicken chow mein and pork fried rice from Dragon 168, and we had an afternoon matinee: Apollo 13 and Twister (I guess I was in a Bill Paxton mood). Plus I finished reviewing the books I read in April.
Ah, Saturday, Saturday...it started when I took Tucker for a walk. We'd crossed the street and were walking past Timber Creek's property, and I was slightly woolgathering, musing on what to do that day. Perhaps I'd do "bothers"—go into a room, find something that bothers me, and fix it. And then I noticed the big plant Tucker was cozying up to and then peeing on had "leaflets three." (Not sure of today, but kids in New England in my day were brought up the rhyme on "leaflets three, let it be.") I kept him at a distance for the rest of the walk, then once home tied him on the front porch, stuck my head in the front door and yelled up the stairs to James, "Google what poison ivy looks like, willya?" So he did.
Unfortunately I couldn't positively identify the photos that were on the computer screen as the same plant Tucker had given the close encounter to, but I couldn't swear it wasn't poison ivy, either, so, guess what: pulled on a pair of rubber gloves, dumped the dog in the bathtub, and gave him another bath, his second since Monday. Gah. Of course I had to wash his bedding and the towels, too. He wasn't happy, and neither was I.
Good thing I had nothing planned at all. I only ended up doing one "bother" after all.
» Saturday, May 02, 2020The Outside World
We actually did something amazing on this long, long weekend still in effect: we went places that weren't supermarkets, buying clubs, or a doctor's office. And we did it safely, too.
As usual, on Wednesday we went to Publix (there I am, going the wrong way up an aisle again) and Lidl, early enough that we found everything we needed. But we also stopped at Walmart; while James did get sugarless candy for himself, mainly we went there to get him more sleep shorts. We thought about ordering them, but wanted to look at what was available and what material they were made from. I don't know names of material from Adam; I just know I hate jersey. And even when I looked up men's sleep shorts on Walmart's site, I kept getting directed to items that were fleece. Fleece shorts? Seriously?
So we masked and I carried my trusty squirt bottle of isopropyl alcohol and some folded-up paper towels, and I liberally sprayed and/or wiped the cart and the self-checkout machine. The fabric department was completely out of cloth; lots of mask-makers have gone through here. Bet you can't find bandanas at JoAnn right now, either.
That was enough for a Wednesday; on Thursday, another novelty: James had his hair cut! (His hasn't been cut since February. I've been trimming it, and was told I did a good job, and James has his beard trimmer, but he was still looking like a sheepdog.) His stylist was taking one appointment at the time, cleaning and wiping down between cuts, which were scheduled at one an hour. We also got to see friends leaving there (within social distance, of course) and waved at friends arriving (we all use the same stylist, and this day had been arranged). On the way home we made a call and—calloo! callay!—our favorite Chinese restaurant, Dragon 168, had reopened! They're a real hole-in-the-wall place anyway, and you don't really go in there to sit inside and eat, although you can, there are tables and chairs, but they have fashioned a plywood pass-through structure that fits into their door. You call in your order with your credit card number, and they give you a number—we were number one on Thursday! number two showed up as James was waiting—and then you get your order through the pass-through.
Before we went home to eat, we gassed up the Kia at Costco because it was $1.299!
Friday we had a real treat: talking to live friends in an outdoor setting! Alice had scoped out Heritage Park, which had a pavilion with picnic tables. She and Ken and Aubrey had showed up early to wipe down a picnic table (they were still covered in pine pollen from the park having been closed for six weeks) with disinfectant, and we sat in chairs at one long end of the picnic table, and they sat in chairs on the other end, six feet apart and sitting so that neither group was downwind from the other. We had a nice lunch and a nice chat, and I think it only broke up because all of us needed to use the restroom (the park facilities were still closed though the park was open, and the trash cans had not been maintained).
Saturday we decided to go out and see if we could see the tribute flyover the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels were doing for the healthcare workers. The flight plan was published on Facebook, and it looked like it was going right down highway 41 or I-75. We picked up lunch, then went to a couple of places before settling in at Akers Mill shopping center. (Alice and Ken went to the parking lot near the closed AMC theatre and they got some nice shots, but it was too crowded; in retrospect, the way the flight came in, we should have stayed in Barnes & Noble's parking lot, as we could have seen from the top of the whole hill.) The planes came in from a totally unexpected angle so we were just able to gape as they zoomed over.
On the other hand, everyone we saw at Akers Mill was pretty cool about social distancing. Cars parked in every other parking space and many people wore masks. We were sitting in the shade in front of a closed restaurant and no one was near us. We saw footage on the news later on about people crowding together on overpasses to see the planes and were glad we didn't go there, although the overpass over I-75 near the Monstrosity (Truist Park) would have been the best viewing spot of all.
Best of all we discovered Hobby Lobby was back open, so we put on our masks and went in, mostly to use the restroom, but just to look at something different. We stayed away from other people and when we got home quarantined our few small purchases in the library until next weekend.
We also finished watching both seasons of Star Trek: Discovery (yes, second season was a big improvement; my favorite characters are still Sylvia Tilly, who manages to put her foot in her mouth more than I do, and Jett Reno, the engineer with attitude) and Star Trek: Picard, plus all the behind-the-scenes "Ready Room" shows on both series. I'm about Star Trek'd out for a while! To my surprise, I found the most recent animated Lassie cartoon with the kids' programs. I managed to download all 26 English-language episodes from You Tube, as apparently the series was never shown here in the US, just in Canada, Europe, and parts of the Middle East, and figured they were just repeated here, but was gobsmacked to discover a 26-episode second season on CBS All Access instead, labeled as season one. This left me in a quandary: our free subscription would end on May fifth.
So I sat down Saturday after we got home from the flyover and binge-watched for five hours. (Later: and then I watched more between chores on Sunday and four final episodes on Monday and got through them all. I canceled on Tuesday as scheduled, since I couldn't see any reason for keeping it any longer. If I want to watch other Star Trek, it's on Netflix, and the other shows on CBS All Access I might be interested in (Perry Mason, I Love Lucy, Caroline in the City) are not intact. Oh, the episodes are uncut, but they don't show all the episodes in each season. If there are thirty episodes in a season, for instance, CBS All Access carries only fifteen or twenty of them. In addition, with Perry Mason they don't show any season six or nine episodes. What kind of a deal is that? Why say you "carry __________ series" and then not have every single episode of every single season?