Saturday, August 31, 2013

Here's To Health!

There is a fine line between life and death, and few of us ever realize how close we may be to crossing that line.  Deep thoughts for a bright fall day… but I recently became aware of just how tenuous that line can be.  It also raised my awareness once more of how amazingly synchronistic life can be.  I was being doctored for an abscess on my shoulder in back, and the second round of antibiotics caused an allergic reaction in my body, and I began coughing excessively and feeling absolutely exhausted.  Friday night, my daughter called to see how I was, and I told her I was feeling so weak I didn’t think I could drive to the clinic the next morning for my follow-up, so she said she would pick me up and drive me.  It exhausted me to walk across the room, and I had to sit for five or ten minutes to regain some strength.  We got to the clinic and discovered my oxygen level and blood pressure were very low… frighteningly low… and my doctor immediately called the hospital to alert the emergency room she was sending me over.  My daughter drove me, and they whisked me off before I even was checked in and put me on oxygen and heart monitors.  They didn’t know if it was heart failure or kidney failure, either of which it could have been according to the symptoms.  Blood tests showed an elevated number associated with the heart muscle.  I have congestive heart failure and diminished kidney function, due to diabetes, so it was possible that one of these could be the problem.  More tests and X-rays showed fluid in the lungs, which we discovered was a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in the lung.  It was not associated with the coughing… but because of the coughing, I saw the doctor.  Synchronicity at its finest.  Had I stayed in my bed trying to “sleep it off”, I would probably not be writing this now. 

I was in the hospital for eight days, bridging the Heparin IV and Coumadin (pill form) blood thinners.  The third day I was able to be taken off the oxygen, but continued to have two blood tests daily… all in my left arm, since the IV was in my right arm.  My arms are both multicolored with bruises, looking as if I’ve been on the losing end of a bad battle!  They cannot say the cause of the blood clot for certain, but suspect it is a sedentary lifestyle… too much quilting???  The doctors tell me it will take about three months for my body to absorb the blood clot.  I am still coughing, but less each day.  I go to my clinic for blood tests now, to make sure that my blood is thin enough to prevent further clots, but not so thin that it is dangerous. 

It has been a month of hospitals for me!  On August 1st, I had a cataract removed on my right eye and a stent put in to help with the glaucoma.  I did not have enough anesthetic, and it was a horrendous experience, with excruciating pain.  Later that night, both of my eyes were swollen and I could not see from either eye!  The next day, it was better, but the operated eye remained bloodshot for over a week.  On August 8th, they performed the same procedures on the left eye, but gave me more anesthetic, and it went very easily, with minimal pain.  Now, I can see to drive and do most tasks without glasses, but need glasses for close work, like reading or sewing.  I hope I am done with hospitals and surgeries for a while… but it does amaze me how far medicine has advanced, when they can tell from the blood what muscles in the body are stressed! 

When I was scheduled for the eye surgeries, I finally decided I’d better get my diabetes in better control so I would not continue to have organs affected negatively by the disease.  I had my glucose readings in the normal range by implementing the easy steps I’d known how to do but not taken as seriously as I should have.  I eat many small meals throughout the day, never eating until testing my glucose and injecting the necessary amount of insulin to process what I am eating.  I have eliminated most wheat products, which raise my glucose more than most things, and when I do eat them, I do it in moderation.  Now that my readings are in the normal range, I can eat small amounts of carbs without upsetting the cart.  As I gain strength and stamina, I will begin to exercise regularly.  There are simple exercises I do now, but they don’t raise my metabolism much. 

I’m eating more eggs (which I do not especially like, but my body does!), more fresh fruits and vegetables, and some meat.  I made a salad of fresh vegetables that was delicious and makes a nice meal in itself.  It made a huge bowl, so I will have enough for several days, which is good. 

Avocado/Tomato Summer Salad:
2 ripe avocados, diced
2 large firm tomatoes, diced
1 large cucumber, peeled and diced
1 medium zucchini, washed and diced (I didn’t peel it)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 small onion, diced
2 Tablespoons minced garlic (I used bottled)
4 Tablespoons lime juice
¼ cup olive oil (a bit more, if you wish)
Small amount of freshly ground pepper and sea salt, to taste

Since I am on a low-salt diet, I don’t add much salt.  I serve this on a bed of lettuce.  If you don’t like raw onion or garlic, you can omit them or put less in.  I like them for the flavor, as well as for their anti-oxidant properties. 

Thank you all for the well-wishes and prayers… they are much appreciated!  My children and grandchildren rallied around to help me and visited me almost every day in the hospital… unless I told them to stay home… even my oldest daughter who had a total knee replacement, just days before I went into the hospital.  They take me grocery shopping, help me with laundry and housecleaning, and even bring me “meals on wheels”!  I am indeed blessed!