Thursday, March 16, 2017

New Developments

I spent a week in the hospital and left without a colon.
Yes, it got bad enough that I was literally on my last legs.
I couldn't drive to work or do much more than sit in my chair
and watch TV.  The pain from my colitis was so bad that I 
couldn't wait for my surgery.

I was amazed at the cards, balloons, gifts and flowers I received.
I had no idea that so many people would be thinking about
me.  Some friends went above and beyond!  
I owe them big time.

I could barely eat and when I did it was so painful that
you didn't want to eat anything.  I got very weak since
Christmas.  My poor husband had to do everything the past few months.
I've lost 100 lbs and was very dehydrated, so much so that they 
thought I was not creating enough urine.  It turns out that I 
was so dehydrated I was absorbing almost all the fluids they
were pumping into me.

The day after they removed my colon I felt great,
comparatively so.  No gut pain, no cramping.  I had
a pain block shot before surgery that would last a day
so I would not be in too much pain when I woke up.
I was exhausted from the surgery that was around
5 hours long.  I had a pain medicine pump which I
used the first day or two but minimally.  I did use it just
before physical therapy, they recommended it so my
session would be productive; however, I stopped using it
early and they were surprised- even though they sent me
home with a prescription for a VERY strong pain medication
which I never took.  

I was on clear liquids for a couple days and then 
progressed to full liquids (add cream of wheat, 
milk and ice creams, puddings, etc.)
Then they had me on soft, low residue foods to see
 how I tolerated it before they could release me.

When they remove your colon they give you an
ileostomy.  This is a  stoma
which you cover with a pouch to collect your stool.
It's your small intestine that is brought to the surface of 
your skin and sewn on, sort of inside out.  You empty the 
pouch a few times a day and every few days change the adhesive
wafer that holds it on your stomach.

Now I need to determine if I keep this system 
or go for reconstruction,  I am leaning to keeping 
this.  It is inconvenient, the drawback is that you have a
bag attached to you that needs emptying and runs the
risk of leaking at some time, almost all do at one
time or another.  The biggest drawback is if I lose
my job or insurance, how will I pay for these very
expensive pouches?  With insurance I pay $13 a month,
without it would be $270 and that is without any of
the paste or other accessories you need to maintain them.

Reconstruction has its risks.  The Doctor says it works well for younger
people.  Older people, I'm 57, especially with auto immune issues
do not do as well, run the risk of infection, urgency and control
issues plus pain and burning.  The output would be liquid since
the drying takes place in the large intestine which I no longer have.
The liquid is caustic and can cause sores if your wafer leaks or
when you are getting used to your reconstructed J pouch
(again your small intestine that is used to create a pouch and
attached to your rectum/anus).  It can take a couple of years
to work through the issues and I just don't think I can go 
through that after the last couple years of problems.

I'm on medical leave right now.  Home Health was
coming in twice a week to watch me clean the stoma
and change my pouch.  I passed with flying colors by the way.

I couldn't do much.  Rest, eat soft foods, watch how
new foods affect me, no exercise other than walking,
no driving, no lifting.  So I embroidered the squares for 
my Bee Creative quilt along.  I'm doing the sashing now.
I will return to work Monday but on a work from home basis
for the next two weeks. I physically return in April when I can
make the hour drive and be able to lift my laptop bag in and 
out of the car.

I can eat again!  Nothing spicy or fibrous yet but I will be working
my way there after a few months.  You still have to be careful.
You can get a blockage in the stoma which is bad so avoid
nuts, popcorn, celery, seeds, etc.   

This is my gastroenterologist.  He was just named a Fellow of the AGA.
He took care of my until he referred me to my surgeon then sent 
me a nice note the other day to say he heard from my surgeon that I was doing
 much better.  I sent back a congratulations note on his fellowship.

That explains where I have been.  I don't have much to post but 
my husband has been taking good care of our granddaughter, Taylor who is 12, when
she visits on the weekends.  They are learning to read maps, use compasses,
hiking and geocaching.  We have picked up some things at REI that will be helpful.
She is learning to shoot various firearms.  She is showing interest in youth 
competition which  is available through our Conservation Department.

Finding the geocach

Without realizing it she is getting survival training.
I hope she won't have to be our next John Conner 

I don't know how often I will post but as I get
stronger and start doing more things I'm sure I'll
get back into the swing of things!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Santa Rides a Harley- A Christmas Lesson

Santa Rides a Harley

Sleet and snow blanketed our area unexpectedly December 2007 on a most important day, at least for three year old Taylor, our granddaughter.  It was the day she was supposed to see Santa and tell him what a fine girl she had been all year.   We were going to the mall which was at least thirty miles from our home and twenty of those are over curvy, hilly, two lane, no shoulder roads where roll-overs are the norm.  The fortunate ones don’t land upside down in the many small creeks.  

How was I going to break the news that we just couldn’t make it?  She truly is fine girl.  One of the most well behaved children, kind and sharing.   I don’t say this simply because she is my grandchild, it was a concentrated effort of all parties involved to set limits, examples and actually provide discipline rather than have a kiddie free-for-all that is so common these days.  Then it hit us- 

Our local paper advertised Santa’s arrival at the nearby Harley dealership.  It is located at the cross section of Hwy 44 and 50 just outside of UnionMO.  It stands by itself, very rural and of course has motorcycles in the parking lot.   I have passed by it several times and there have been some pretty strange looking people there.  I was a bit nervous; I had watched movies where Hell’s Angels terrorized towns.  They rode Harleys.   There were tatted up, leather capped, long hair bearded men - also women in tall boots donned in pure black leather with more than a hint of silver studding.  We could get there, but would we get back?

It was only eight miles away, we could make it.  We all jumped into the 4WD truck and headed to the dealership.   I asked my husband to wait in the truck with Taylor while I checked out the store, just in case we had to hightail it out of there.   No, I’m not the brave one, I just can’t reach the truck pedals to make the fast getaway.  He thinks I am ridiculous, a West County princess, but gives in to my request.  

I gingerly approached the door, entered the building and what to my wandering eyes did appear . . . . . ?  Sitting atop a beautiful, shiny motorcycle was a wonderfully jolly, white haired, bearded Santa donned in Santa red and white from tip to almost toe-the required black boots as the finishing touch.  The pretty lady elves in elfin garb, their pointy caps all green and red, ushered the little children to Santa, snapping photos of each- compliments of the dealership.   Little play areas were set up among the aisles where awaiting tots could build with blocks, play with tiny cars or hug stuffed bears.  

The store had been transformed into a winter wonderland with homemade decorations of candy canes and packages high up on the walls.  Display areas were filled with stuffed animals, an unusual selection with anteaters, opossums, skunks, chipmunks and squirrels, all at very reasonable prices.  There were Christmas trees- the traditional green bushy variety. There was also a very special orange and black tree covered in Harley ornaments, all very pretty and quality made.  Across the store was the bake sale with freshly made cookies, fudge and candies which rivaled any PTO selection I have seen.  All proceeds would go to charity, just one of their many charitable events throughout the year.  

I ran back to the truck to get Taylor.  She couldn’t miss this, and I couldn’t pass up this photo op!  Now this is our annual Christmas event.   She loves that Santa and you can tell how much he loves the kids.  He takes his time with them, no rushing.  He has an actual conversation with them, and also with the parents. Then he pulls everyone in for a group photo.   I’m no longer uneasy around the long haired, bearded, leather capped and tatted up patrons, in fact, I would really love to have one of their leather tooled black purses complete with the silver studding  but they are way above my price point!    I make certain to purchase several items from their bake sale and Taylor always gets her pick of unusual stuffed animals, my favorite being the opossum. 

So the magic of Christmas didn’t stop at a child’s wonder but also transformed the preconceived ideas of a grandma.  Peace on earth and goodwill to all.  Merry Christmas.   

Taylor in 2016

Sunday, November 13, 2016

I am Still Here


Just an update.  It took a trip to the emergency room to determine that I have carried around a bacterial infection, C Diff, for months.  It's a Really, Really bad infection but we thought it was just a colitis flare.  It wasn't.  In the meantime I also twisted my knee badly so the ER also put me in a substantial brace which I was not allowed to remove, except for showing, for a month.

Today I am on Humira, which I will post about later, and finishing up the second round of antibiotics for the C Diff.   I'll be back to posting soon.  I am so far behind reading all your blogs.

Thanks for the nice thoughts while I have been out.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Little Under the Weather

I was thinking that I haven't made any progress on
the projects I wanted to accomplish as pertain
to learning the old ways.  This summer has been 
wet or I have been under the weather again, 
fighting this colitis.  It's hard to get too 
enthused when you don't feel well.

Instead, I thought I'd post some photos of the project I AM working on.
I really have enjoyed this quilting/embroidery project sponsored by
Moda,  Bee-utiful Quilt A Long with designs by Pamela Jane Morgan.
It has helped me to learn new embroidery stitches and to take
some creative license with the basic pattern.

You'll see some blue markings in the photos-
they was off but serve to outline the basic pattern,
each containing a bee or two.


It's easy to sit in my recliner and stitch
and still spend time with my husband.

In the meantime I am working with 
doctors, fighting their recommendation 
to get on medicine with potential side effects
of brain infections or TB.  Another lists 3-4
types of cancer, one 100% fatal.

Maybe the odds are small but one brain infection
is enough to change everything.  I am going to consult
another doctor to see what the alternatives are.
We've only had these new biologics (you hear them on 
tv all the time now) for awhile,
people managed before without them.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Hot Springs Arkansas Visit

We were Arkansas bound, headed for Hot Springs
to visit my mom for a four day weekend.  We brought
our granddaughter along and took the required photo
at the Arkansas welcome center on Hwy 67 just after
the Missouri border.  This time the sweet ladies that 
man the center gave her a cutout of Arkansas to hold up!

It's a long drive for us but we have made it so many 
times that we have familiar landmarks which help
to make the trip shorter.  Additionally, it was good
to see they extended the four-lane section so we are 
down to only about 30-40 miles of two-way!

After resting a bit upon arrival, we made our way out to
Tom's favorite restaurant, Mr. Whiskers.  It's moved 
locations, expanded the seating but was still so crowded
the line to order stretched down one whole side of the 
seating area.  You had to estimate departures so you
can tell them To Go or Eat In!  He had fried oysters
with hush puppies and slaw.  Taylor had the kid meal,
mainly because it comes in a snazzy cardboard boat!
Mom had fish and shrimp and I chose ala carte since
I can't eat much these days.  Three shrimp and some
hush puppies were plenty, with some of those hush
puppies to take home!

We made sure to go downtown the next day.
We dropped my husband and Taylor off while Mom
and I went to the quilt shop to pick up my
Row by Row that mom had purchased for me
but we still had to pick up.  

Afterwards we met the hubby and Taylor downtown.
It was really nice except it's a small area and when you
add 10,000 motorcycles for a rally on top of tourists,
it was a bit deafening! 

This is Fat Bottom'd Girls, a cupcake shop that won
on Cupcake Wars that Taylor watches.  She was simply 
amazed last year when she saw her idols were right there!
She had to get a big chocolate cupcake this time.
By the looks of it, it was grand!

Taylor and I had our photo taken outside of the 
Ohio club with Al Capone!!

Mom owns the point so we have a great view plus
a lot of water frontage to swim.

Captain Taylor and Pops

Taylor takes a break and sits with my mom
up front to enjoy the view.

Mid air too!

Relaxing on the deck.

Our view as the sun sets.

Mom's house from the water at dusk.

There are some tremendous houses on this lake.
This is mom's neighbor and yes, it's as big as it looks!

Another house down the lake.

This one has an infinity swimming pool just before the lake.

Soon the weekend came to an end and we were packed up
and heading back to the St Louis area.  
Now I need some time off to rest!

Monday, September 5, 2016

I Survived !

Shared from FaceBook

I needed help and help did not come!!! It was horrible, twisting and writhing across the basement floor and here I was trapped between the washer and IT. I yelled for help and my husband answered me, but not with the reply I expected. 

No, abandoned in the basement with The Bug! And, it has pinchers. I was quiet for awhile, you would have thought he'd check on me, but no! What to do? Think, Kathy, what do you have here? I positioned a measuring cup and dust pan on either side and then scooped it up. Then I walked upstairs and showed it to him!!!! He didn't seem impressed. Neither did he seem impressed that I captured it ALIVE, with pinchers moving to boot!

 I took it outside-where it belongs- and tossed it onto a large lump of grass. It's on its own now and finally, the basement is safe once more!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Are the Hives Strong?

Are the hives strong?  
No, not really.  One hive is better than the other two,
one is so weak that we can't figure out what is happening.
It's almost like they don't know what to do.  That one is
the combination of the two week hives from our original

They were hungry though.  There has been plenty for them to eat.
First the wild grapes bloomed, garden flowers, the elderberry fields
down the road and wildflowers.  My daughter had left a 
Mountain Dew on the porch table so I poured it out over
the rail which meant that some hit the bushes.
The bees flocked to it and suddenly we had hundreds
of bees licking the sugar off the leaves.
I gave them some sugar syrup in the same manner
and the flocked there.  Lots and lots of bees.

So we filled their sugar feeders and the strong hive
ate it all immediately.  The second hive about half of it
and the third hive had no clue.
I also saw some small beetles which may or may 
not be a problem.

We'll go visit our beekeeper store this weekend and discuss it.
I don't think we'll get honey.
Our best hope is that the bees survive the winter!  

Friday, August 26, 2016

It's Alive, My Rooted Rose

I had about given up, ready to throw out the rose
cuttings I made after my husband cut through the main 
stem to to remove it from the house.
But here it was today,
just as if it knew its fate.
You can see the new growth popping out, in 
fact, there are several all up and down the stem.

It was magnificent this year.
We had a great Spring resulting in tremendous growth.
It's a wild climber, going up two stories but unfortunately
climbing the down spout and trying to get 
beneath the siding.

The bees love it and it's oh so pretty!
I thought I would try saving it, replanting and
allowing it to grow up one of the trees at the 
edge of the woods.  

I tried sticking a cutting in a potato but it doesn't 
appear to be working, even with rooting hormone.

I put one in straight water.  Nice leaves but I can
see they are starting to fail.

This one was cut, dipped in rooting hormone and 
planted in an indoor potting soil- Success!
Now let's see if it will continue to grow!

Now, can someone tell me how to keep a misplaced
wisteria root from climbing my front siding?  

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Tomatillo, a Citrus Balloon

When I tell people we grow tomatillos most don't know
what we are referring to so I thought I would
introduce you to these fun little fruits.

From what I understand, these are an ancient fruit going
back to Aztec times, related to the tomato but with a 
paper husk and the fruit having a citrus flavor.
They are the little green chunks in salsa that 
is not a green pepper.

Like a tomato, they vine and the stems are full
of tiny roots so they could be grown on the 
ground but it's much easier to pick when we 
grow them up cattle panels.   The paper husks
will fill with the fruit and start to split when ripe.
We pick them often and make small batches of 
salsa verde, or you could put them into a regular
red sauce in tiny chunks.  

My husband loves his salsa verde, topping everything
from breakfast eggs and sausage to his chicken tortilla.

They are very easy to grow as long as the soil is not too wet.
They don't attract many pests either; however, I found 
my squash bugs think they are little love balloons!
Fortunately for me, they are easy to spot riding atop
a big tomatillo!  

Monday, August 22, 2016

Crooked Neck Squash Cake

I have a Bunch of them!
Crooked Neck Squash.
All yellow and warty, full of seeds and growing like
weeds.  I still have babies popping out all over,
although the plants are looking on the downhill side this week.

We have stuffed them, pickled them and grilled them,
now I baked them
and they were good!

I found this yellow squash cake recipe on line.
This is way too sugary for me (but I had a slice anyway).
For that reason I didn't frost it as suggested in the recipe
and I made a couple of changes so you can 
follow the recipe below or click the link
at the beginning of this paragraph to get the original 
with the frosting recipe too.

It was a big hit at home, in fact I sent a good third
of it home with my granddaughter.
Everyone at worked that tried it came back for more.
I hope you will like it too!

Crooked Neck Squash Cake Recipe

  • 3 Cups sugar
  • 3 Cups flour
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½  teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups  yellow squash (I peeled the warts and put them through the food processer so they were grated)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1½ cups vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (I omitted this- it was an accident but didn't make any difference, they all loved it without the extra vanilla

  • Use a very large bowl and add the sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir this up well.
  • Combine the eggs, oil and squash in a medium bowl and mix.
  • Add the squash mix to the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
  • Grease a 9 X 13 pan and add the mixture
          Bake this at 350 degrees F for about 45-50 minutes

         Let cake cool and cover.