Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Strange Day

This morning, my wife had a colonoscopy. It turned out fine. No polyps, no cancer, everything was OK. Getting to the procedure was a strange trip. My wife is a Type I Diabetic, Brittle. Brittle means her blood glucose level is volatile, swings through highs and lows and is difficult to control. She works at a fairly high level of maintenance of her glucose level, and wears an insulin pump which has helped level out her swings. However, not eating solids, eating Jell-O, drinking juices and sodas do not provide staying power with the steady drip of insulin from the pump. As a result her blood sugar kept tending low. It was not too much of a problem during the day, but come midnight she was to cease all liquids and drink nothing from that time forward to the test. That upset her, she was worried her sugar level might drop and then she would be unable to take the test because she would be forced to violate the no intake rule.

She set the alarm for 11 PM, got up and ate a lot of Jell-O, drank juice and did the best she could. At 4:00 AM her sugar level was 94. We had turned her insulin pump down to about half dosage, but still her sugar level was low. I had to convince her to get dressed, and we drove into Jonesboro to the ER where we were admitted for the test. I figured once there if her blood sugar dropped too low they might put her on an IV and pump some dextrose into her blood stream to level out her sugar. It wasn't necessary, on the way in she disconnected her pump so she received no insulin. After we arrived she checked her sugar level and it had actually gone up to 174. By the time we were in the pre-op area her sugar had risen to 184 so she reattached her pump. She got through the procedure just fine, and we stopped on the way home to get her a hamburger and she made it the rest of the day.

Now for another strange occurrence. I knew her test would be OK. God had told me. About a month ago I started out on my morning one hour walk and as usual I said hi to God and started to discuss things with him/her. He listens, I talk. I asked him to take care of my wife, that this procedure was coming in about a month and I asked him, if it was in his power, to insure that she would be OK. About that time, I lifted my eyes up from the roadway to the pine trees along the road and above my head. A shaft of morning light illuminated the uppermost part of a Pine Tree's trunk and a branch. The upper part of the tree was not illuminated, just the small area of trunk and branch. As I gazed at this golden light on the pine tree a voice came into my mind and said, "She will be fine."

I sometimes have difficulty hearing God's message. I try real hard, but am not too sure I hear it. There was no mistaking this message. She will be fine, and she was. There may be a time that she will not be fine, but on this occasion I had advanced information and was grateful for it.

So we carry on and enjoy the news of health, embrace the day and hope we get some more.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Finally, signs we are coming together!

Becky Hammond is a USA WNBA Alstar who recently signed with Team Russia to play in the up coming summer Olympics. After the fact she was invited to try out for Team USA. Now she is being called a traitor. The Olympics are about the common effort of athletics. There is no "team" in Olympics other than team sports, countries keep a medal count, but it has no impact, unlike track meets in the U.S. I think Becky did the right thing, she is 31, this may be her last opportunity to play in the Olympics, Russia may have a competitive team and she should take advantage to enjoy the Olympic experience.

Recent economic difficulties are being experienced world-wide, not just in the U.S. The sub-prime disaster that is creating havoc in the housing market is extending difficulties to other countries throughout the world.

Perhaps it is events like this that are starting to indicate we are all bound by common threads. Wouldn't it be nice if one day we didn't deny aid to countries because of their politics. Wouldn't it be nice if other countries took stock of their impact on the world stage before they denied there own citizens the benefits of participating in a global economy. Wouldn't it be nice if we no longer had to take issue whether or not a product was made in China because of cheap labor. There are already indications that labor rates are on the rise in China and other Asian countries. Perhaps some day the "creative destruction" that is commonplace in economic adjustment will be less chaotic and the mobility of society will be based on performance and need not nationalism. Hmm, maybe utopia is possible, but not in my lifetime.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Another Milestone

June 9, a Monday marked 18 months since I underwent bowel resection surgery. In fact, surgery took place on a Monday, and the 18th month anniversary was a Monday. It seems like I should take stock of where I am at and obviously give thanks because of the success of the surgery.

Couple with the surgery I went on a prolonged diet and have lost over 50 pounds. My pants size has dropped 6 inches and my stamina today is better than it has been for probably 20 years. I walk for one hour a day, six days a week. God and I rest on Sunday. I am watching what I eat, but that is tough. I do enjoy food.

I have not been back to a doctor now for some six months. The follow up colonoscopy in November was normal and I do not have to have another for two years. I still have some bowel issues, however they are not causing a great deal of discomfort. I go quite often, my definition of regularity is I go regularly, but not necessarily the same time of day every day.

Each day I take stock of how my body feels. Two years ago my days tended to be a shade of Grey with some bright days that happened on occasion. I characterize my days as bright when I feel good physically and mentally, dark when I feel bad and Grey when I don't feel good but not really bad. I recall that there were times that I would be out in the yard working and I just did not feel good. I worried about my health, I knew I was terribly overweight and was taking all kinds of medication for blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. I could not see very far down life's path. Today is different. Today most of my days are bright, the shades of Grey are light, and I can't think of a black day for some time.

When is assess my body I no longer have a sick feeling. When I have some digestive tract problems I don't feel sick, usually just uncomfortable. My attitude about doing things has improved. My wife comments frequently how pleased she is that I am doing things around the house instead of sitting and letting the world pass by. I do not have the energy level I had 30 years ago, but I ain't bad. Most days I am up before 5 AM and in bed by 9 PM. That is a seventeen hour day, I rarely nap, and feel quite good. Evenings are somewhat lethargic, I guess I'm just tired from the day's out and abouting. Many people come home from work and then set about working around the house until the wee hours of the night, but I've never done that. I guess for too many years I had my nose stuck in a bottle.

I still grapple with psychological issues. Having cancer and surgery reawakened the issue of my mortality. God I love life, I don't want it to end. I enjoy talking with my daughters and following their life story. I am able to walk a picturesque little path around my ten acres, and not many people can do that. I give thanks for that. I see clouds, and scenery, and creatures and am amazed by the constantly shifting patterns life allows us to observe, if we take the time. On my morning walks I run into numerous box turtles plying the path with me in search of something to eat. We've had a change in the types of birds that frequent our yard, it isn't huge but having lived here for so long it is noticeable. I like that. I do not attribute those type of changes to global warming or any other man made phenomena, it appears to be shifting patterns as mother nature makes sure her species don't kill out an area.

I especially enjoy the morning coffee and talks my wife and I have. For years we sit in bed, drink coffee and discuss a variety of topics. Sometimes there is nothing to discuss and we have the first cup in silence. Sometimes she lays there and reads and I just think of the days events and things that have to be done. Other times we make up our shopping list and think about what is going on in the week.

Life is good and I am having a tough time dealing with the fact that the years in front of me are dwindling. All of a sudden my daughters have a generation younger then they are. That is pushing us all up the ladder. I suppose if I had accomplished more in my life, if I had invested money and felt better about my financial security perhaps I would accept aging better, but I suspect not.

It may sound like I dwell on my growing old. I really don't. I think about it while walking sometimes and then push it out of my head. Life really is good! From all indications the surgery was successful. I am off almost all medication. My blood pressure is under control, my cholesterol is low, I no longer take medications for diabetes. I really have a lot to be thankful for. I remember to be grateful every day, and I must say my brush with serious illness has tempered my behavior and attitude. When I feel my temperature rise because something is making me angry I am able to stop and say, wait a minute, what is really important here? I deal with things better than I did before.

So, eighteen months after surgery life is very good. I pray that it continues for many years in the pattern established now.