Delta Variant

The Delta variant of Covid-19 is sweeping the USA right now. It brings to mind things we thought we could forget.

CDC says all people should wear a mask again in crowded areas. Remember to have your mask with you. If you mask is homemade, remember to put the paper towel liner in it. I am telling myself these things again daily.

The hand wipes package in my car was getting low. Thought I might just go to a tiny package. With the Delta Variant I have once again taken a large package, poured alcohol into it and put it in my car, AGAIN. Washing my hands with those after every interaction in shops.

Many people are credited with saying, “The only certainty is the lack of certainty.” Plodding along with the rest of the world, hoping we all get smart and get this thing under control soon.

Does that mean it is risky to eat out in restaurants again? Oh geesh! we were so enjoying the return of that activity!

Another quote: “Wait it out. Be patient. Try to stay alive.”

“What can’t be cured must be endured.”

During the last go ’round I was trying to express what so many of us felt regarding the many deaths and our sense of helplessness to change things. One author wrote that a person ‘gave a shuddering sigh’. You know, that breath that does not inhale smoothly, like after a really hard cry? George MacDonald in 1905 wrote, “shuddered and breathed deep.”

I am trying to use wisdom regarding the Delta Variant. It is said that with full inoculation (which Bob and I have) we might catch the Delta Variant (more infectious than common cold) but are unlikely to require hospitalization. Bob’s Pulmonologist has told him to stay out of crowds. So we are thinking we need a return to regularly wearing masks, staying out of crowds, washing our hands, and praying those who have not had their vaccines will get them before another variant can pop up and spread among the peoples of the earth!! Another quote: “You can’t cure stupid.”

So many interviews on the evening news with people in hospital beds urging others to get the Covid shot. Almost all of them say they wish now they had gotten one before they got sick.

Like Lester Holt says, “Take care of one another!”

Worth It

Tuesday this week I had my eyes dilated. If someone would create the eye drop to reverse that dilation they could make a fortune!! I SO dislike the experience and would pay extra for that reversal drop. I know the doctor wants to examine the back areas of my eyes. It is necessary, especially with Type 2 diabetes like mine. I get it. I just hate it later.

This afternoon I get my second Covid vaccine. Grateful for the development of the vaccine. Even after one dose I had to really watch myself to remember to mask up, clean my hands, keep my distance, especially from ones I love or haven’t seen for almost a year. Inklings of psychological freedom!

After the pneumonia injection I had a badly swollen arm for over a week. Hoping since I only had a mildly sore arm after #1 Covid shot I will have no reaction to the #2 shot. But even if I have side effects, it has to be better than contracting a potentially deadly virus. My husband and I are both high risk and we have been vigilant and most careful for the past year.

Please get your vaccination and stay safe! Even if you get the vaccine and catch the virus you are reportedly protected from the worst of the symptoms, probably protected from hospitalization and death. So worth it!

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Bob and I got our first dose of Covid-19 vaccine. It was a relief to get the process started. After a drive through cone at Dairy Queen we decided that since it was a pretty day we would go see if there was progress on the new construction. We hoped the slab had finally been poured.

Were we ever surprised! Yes, the slab had been poured, inspections done and framers were hard at work.

The crane is in front of our garage where the driveway will eventually go. The boards sticking out of the side of the house is the Master Bathroom. Other window is in the guest room..

Boards in this window locate the office for you. We will have two windows looking out on the street. The man with the orange ladder is standing inside our front entrance. Obviously, no door yet.

We went back the next day to take the guys some donuts and the roof trusses were on. Monday, March 1 the shingles were to be delivered. Hoping the weather will hold for them to get it shingled this week without getting drenched. We had 2 inches of rain yesterday! It is supposed to be drying out.

After that most progress will be hard to record in photos. The interior work from drywall to flooring will take the bulk of the next 10 weeks.

Today is the first showing of our home to one family who is here from out-of-town for a family emergency. Then we board the dog on Saturday and Sunday, the 6th – 7th, and let the public make appointments to see it. The housing market here is so tight that most properties go into a bidding war and sell within 48 hours. (We could not find a house to buy. That is why we chose to build.) The only stickler for our property is we are rigid about no occupancy by them until May 28.

Unless the Lord builds the house,

    the builders labor in vain.

Psalm 127:1

Thanks for joining us on this wild ride!

Chronic Pain

Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.

-Helen Keller

I have had a chronic pain condition for so many years, at the moment I have lost track how many. I cope with that and osteoarthritis among other things. So hard to think when ill. Or plan, or organize two thoughts in a row. That would apply during a flare up. Then there is acute pain. Usually short lived like a broken arm or smashed thumb in a door. Lately I have had a “virus” that was going around. Now we are into week 3 and the thing has settled into what seems to be an ear infection. Blood work is fine. Second Covid test is negative. I still feel like I’ve been hit by a dump truck.

Trying to stay cheerful is difficult. Trying to carry on as usual, forget it. No appetite, dizzy, nauseous and never mind … the list is too long.

The world is full of suffering and of overcoming. I often console myself remembering that I do not live in a refugee camp. I am not living in the tent I saw in the woods the other day. I am a woman who is loved and safe and this, too, will pass, eventually.

Helen was about the same age as my paternal Grandmother. Thank you, whoever saved Helen Keller’s quotes. We all need to be reminded that we have sources within ourselves or ways we can learn to cope and overcome. Some days you just need to stay in bed!

Reading and Current Events

I have a message every Friday from Book Bub. I signed up a couple years ago. You tell them your favorite genre and they send you suggestions of books from free to $2 or $3. Their self-description reads: ” BookBub is a free service that helps millions of readers discover books they’ll love while providing publishers and authors with a way to drive sales and find new fans. Upon joining, members receive unbeatable deals selected by our expert editorial team, handpicked recommendations from people they trust, and real-time updates from their favorite authors. BookBub works with all major ebook retailers and devices, and partners with thousands of the industry’s leading publishers and authors to promote their books. BookBub was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.”

So currently I am reading “Light From Distant Stars” a novel by Shawn Smucker. Last night I read “Cohen wonders what it’s like to monitor so closely the mortality of strangers, to watch as death gathers them up, sometimes slowly, stretched out over days or weeks, and sometimes in a moment, before anyone can catch their breath.” As most of you know this virus mortality is taking an enormous toll upon the health care workers. Even the fictional medical TV shows are portraying their difficulties with so many people dying alone with only the health care worker to hold their hand and comfort them in their final time on earth. Yes, they are heros.

Isn’t it interesting that this book published in 2019 about a man’s father dying struck so close to home in Ohio in 2021?

Predictions are that a total 450,000 Americans might die before mid-February. Thank goodness most who are diagnosed have mild symptoms and are not likely to die from Covid-19.

So what is a woman to do? Have not been well for several days. I can’t tell if I have had mild food poisoning and a sinus infection or Covid-19. So this morning I went to get tested (Monday 1-18-21). They did a drive through test. Came to the car and swabbed my throat. When I called my daughter to tell her I was tested (so if it is positive she won’t be surprised) found out her household is not well either. Her husband ran a low grade temperature yesterday and isolated himself. The teenage Grandgirls did not feel well when they went to bed. Being a day off school they were sleeping in as usual. Emily has had Covid, but not feeling well herself. So either we all have sinus infections, or whatever. (Update: one Grandgirl tested positive.)

I have no fever, but our friends in New Mexico tested positive and never had fevers. If my test is positive (2-7 days for results) I might list my symptoms for you. I have not had a combination that screams YES! for Covid-19.

I have five of the above.

Try to stay well! Here are some ideas I have collected about Covid. “Wait it out. Be patient. Try to stay alive.” “What can’t be cured must be endured.”  

Humor

So I have had back pain flair up since mid-September. Recently I had an epidural to try to bring the pain under control. While recovering one of the ways my husband has been helping me is to remind me not to try to bend down to get things off the floor. He is willing to help me and do that for me. It has amazed me how MANY things I drop in any given day!

Recently I was wrapping gifts in basement while he also worked on basement items. At first I was angered by the following incident and then I just busted out laughing!!

Yes, the wrapping paper roll dropped off the table and literally rolled across the floor! We have got to keep finding humor where ever we can! No I won’t tell you who the gift is for! But I do like that the floor mat next to the incident declares winter JOY!

Yikes!

It was seventy degrees some days last week but the snowballs here just keep flying! On the date of my birthday Bob was walking our Lucky and she was attacked by a pit bull. Bob kicked the dog and punched it several times in the face while the owner tried to get it under control. It had gotten out of it’s choke chain. He arrived back at home with Lucky limping, bleeding from her shoulder and her eye. The only way we could pick her up was in a towel and even then she cried out in pain.

I called my daughter to tell her we were going to the vet. Before she heard my news she enthusiastically said, “Happy Birthday!!” I replied, “Not yet.”

After multiple phone calls we got her in to the vet. Due to Covid we had to wait in the car. They sedated her and did x-rays to see if she had broken bones or punctured organs. She did not. Shaved the shoulder bite and stitched it up. Two groin bites. Her bleeding eye was so startling! We went home with 3 Rx and eye drops for her. The vet said, “This is one lucky dog!” I am certain that Bob saved her life as much as the vet. He had flashbacks of the incident for several days.

So yes, I was a little distracted last week. SARCASM! Majorly distracted. She would barely let us touch her for the first 2 days. Her pain was great. She did not jump on furniture (which she is allowed to do) and was almost in a stupor of shock and pain.

After the first 5 days or so we did offer her a car ride without her harness due to the stitches in her shoulder. Just attached her collar to the car cord. She is getting spoiled with hot dogs since we put her pills in hot dog pieces twice a day. She is healing nicely.

We are hoping and believing the vet will have nothing but good news this week. Sadly, she will have to get boosters on her shots as the other dog was NOT up to date on his shots. We have asked the owner to remove the dog from the neighborhood by next weekend. The owner will also pay the vet bills for Lucky from this incident.

Not the birthday that Bob had planned for me. He did however have my favorite cake already made before this happened! Lyn’s Cream of Coconut cake. Delicious!!

Maybe in another post I will show comparison photos of her before and after injuries. I am so grateful we still have our little timid beagle!

“Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.”

Proverbs 12:10

Faced With ….

“Faced with demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize. Faced with brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. Faced with despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope.” -ROBERT EMMONS

Demoralization: The pharmacy workers where I get my prescriptions are exasperated by the rudeness of the public. The pharmacist cannot figure out if it is this prolonged pandemic or the way society has given up on being polite? Some of the techs have even quit. Some of the workers that are most experienced have had to leave to provide child care for their children. The new employees are green and new. They need time to find their way through the insurance mazes and medicare technicalities.

So we took them three balloons and a dozen donuts. On the balloon shaped like a gold star I wrote “Be kind.” Really, kindness does not cost us anything. Hopefully our gratitude towards them with energize them in their work.

Brokenness: Well I have a friend whose daughter is terribly ill. For several weeks they did tests and scans and more tests. Finally the surgeon said okay. He is very experienced and did the “Whipple” procedure. She had a tumor wrapped around several organs. The first few hours of the surgery went well and were done robotically. Then he found the tumor had almost completely blocked an artery and some veins around her liver. When they called in the vascular surgeon he had to open her belly. When it was all over, she had endured something like 14 hours of surgery. She remains in ICU. They had to remove part of her stomach, part of her intestines and part of her pancreas. There is great concern over the length of time her organs were exposed. She and her husband always like to watch Monty Python and have memorized many of the lines. When her mother finally got to speak to her on the phone the patient quoted the movie where they were loading bodies during the plague. One man being carried out lifted his head and said, “I’m not dead yet!” Both mother and daughter had a good laugh. This family has been broken and ground into a dust that now completely depends upon the Lord and His servant the surgeon. Surgeon said this was the worst tumor he had ever dealt with. Praise God, there is NO sign of cancer. The two teenage daughters are struggling with not seeing mom at all. Only husband can go in her room due to pandemic. She continues to get units of blood. This photo was taken the first time PT had her stand up. Still struggling with lots of pain. Father, help their gratitude heal their weary hearts, I pray. Heal her and strengthen her I pray.

Despair: In this prolonged isolation and rapidly spreading pandemic we each need more gratitude to help us combat despair. To me, it seems this despair is being poured over the earth like hot tar. Robert Emmons says gratitude has the power to being hope. Are you familiar with the lyrics to “Great is Thy Faithfulness”?

His faithfulness will see us each through this weird year of 2020 and beyond. Gratitude can heal and restore us, energize us and give us hope. Find three things each day to give thanks for. Be kind. Give thanks.

Difficulty of Physical Stillness

I began to wonder if my doctor had ever sat for 5-6 weeks with no weight bearing upon one of his feet? I found it to be difficult psychologically. Psalm 32:9 CSB is a description of me when I refused to trust God in the difficult moments. “Do not be like a horse or mule, without understanding, that must be controlled with bit and bridle or else it will not come near you.”

The verse before that is a wonderful promise: “I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with my eye on you, I will give counsel.”

And God did when I calmed down, asked for help and let Him guide me.

Here is what we saw when the bandages were removed for the first time:

Tara Brach calls us to Surrendered Presence, Surrendering Presence. We waste so much time and energy trying to control everything. We are better off as far as energy stores if we can surrender and wait and see. One beaded bracelet I made pre-surgery reminds me that God is never perplexed. He is willing to be my strength. As I gladly boast in my weakness ( 2 COR 12:9-10) He is willing to be my strength and “react” upon me. (See journal entry http://stand-and-tip.com/2019/10/06/perfect-in-weakness/)

On October 31 I read a quote from Mark Nepo that says, “The things that frighten us just want to be held.” “Does that describe my fear of the pain out of control? Just something that wants to be held? Show me Lord, how to spread out the medication. When to stop. How to cope with the remainder of the healing pain.”

“I trust You, Jesus, to lead me through this. I do not want to be hooked on the painkiller. Please give me the courage to cope with this pain. Wisdom to know how to proceed.” And just like that, I was on Tylenol only.

November 2 I wrote in my journal that I needed to go back and read what I wrote about the turtle at the Nature Center ( https://treasures-in-plain-sight.org/2018/09/22/the-wise-turtle-and-bloom/). She taught me to hold on to wisdom, courage and the ability to keep looking up. “Most importantly, I realize she is looking up, as I am called to do, fixing my eyes upon things eternal. Letting go of obvious pain and aging issues I am able to relax on my favorite bench and simply soak in the pond activity: belching frogs, passing humans, bird song and noonday joy.” Yes, Lord, return me to that peace. Acceptance of things as they come. Wait and see attitude. NOT jumping to the furthest negative conclusion.”

I will likely never forget for long that I have a steel plate in my foot with 6 little screws. As of January 14 I am walking 5-8,000 steps per day. the doctor thought that was too much. Well, when I got inspired I just began moving. He says I am not totally healed yet. So, as you read this, please pray the bone will grow more thoroughly around that plate and screws.

Yield and Breathe and Listen

Other lessons learned while recovering from foot surgery: Determined to not be taking much pain medication, I broke the cardinal rule of recovery and took too little. Saturday, October 26 was a 7PM melt down. I felt as if my foot was swelling, then pushing against the padding and ace bandage and then the THROB began. It was the worst pain I had experienced thus far. Put myself to bed and loving husband brought me ice packs and iced water to sip. I listened to meditations, especially from “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Cabat-Zinn. Husband rubbed my back. I read until drowsy then slept, and tried to draw what I saw at the apex of pain. Of course, I did not capture it as I saw it at the time. We decided I likely took too little medication that day. Tried to stick to 6 hour schedule the next day. I am exhausted and wary of THAT much pain. Pain I could NOT ignore. I was able with the meditation recording to breathe into it, exhale it, but it was serious WORK. Yes, I have a plate in my toe.

Prior to surgery I tried to prepare myself psychologically for the long recovery sitting. I planned crochet projects, things to read, and recorded TV shows to entertain and distract me. I cooked foods we liked and froze them. Taking my iPhone to the basement I photographed every storage shelf in the pantry area and shelves in the freezer so that when people asked me where something was, I might be able to direct them to the correct area. Even the upstairs kitchen pantry was photographed. I planned clothing that was easy to get on over huge bandage and cast. What I did not realize was just how difficult it can be to sit idle for a long time after a fairly active life! My step count had dropped to around 3,000 steps per day prior to surgery due to pain in my foot. Taking that to near zero and letting go of all household responsibility was something I had not done in several years. I think that like childbirth, we tend to forget the miserable times in life, or at least, to gloss over them. Sitting still and staying cheerful for weeks on end is work! I sometimes found myself fantasizing about just getting up and walking.

October 28, 2 weeks after the surgery, I had a major emotional meltdown. I did not see it coming. I was exploring crochet patterns online for a small turtle to remind me like Aesop’s fable that “slow and steady wins the race.” Was having difficulty signing on to my favorite site.

Suddenly and rapidly the anxiety was upon me. The surgeon had wrapped my foot in thick layers of cotton batting, then gauze, then a bent splint to hold it in place and then ace bandages. It was quite a thick contraption. About 3:45 PM I had a terrible dry skin/hurt combination on my lower calf that undid me. I could not reach far enough inside the cotton-batting of the bandage to get cream on the spot. Even using a plastic knife handle and then a chopstick I could not reach it. And then I became desperate. {Now where were the ears to hear that admonition to trust in the Lord?}

Desperate for relief, frantic and wanting to throw off the bandage and walk away, I began to cry. I cried in fruitless frustration and helplessness, knowing I had to sit still for the bones to heal and anchor this metal plate and 6 screws to my toe.

I texted a dear, faithful friend for prayer. I called out to Bob to come help me.  I told Alexa to turn on meditation music. I sat and cried and tried to breathe as Bob got me a fresh ice pack to apply on the misery location on my calf. Focused on my breath. Over a period of time I took it all down a notch, and then another notch, and then another. Went back to find the correct online screen to sign in to Ravelry. Purchased the turtle pattern, printed it and relaxed even more. Eventually, I had to put ace bandages back on so I could roll to the bathroom. I was exhausted.

Psalm 37:5 (HCSB)  Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will act.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV2011)  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

What is the purpose of telling you these struggles? The journal entries above describe what I did outwardly. Inwardly, I fell into God’s arms. I yielded my heart to Him. He touched me in my weakness. If you have not traveled to that point of helplessness (or one like it) you likely have no idea what I am writing about. If you have been there, you might remember the sweet relief that comes from throwing yourself on the mercy of Christ. My feelings had escalated out of control. There was not much warning that I can recall now. When I hit the wall and realized only the touch of the Holy Spirit could return me to my right mind, I knew it was time to yield. If the ice had not relieved the dry skin/hurt, I had bandage scissors at the ready to open that one spot for some cream! I did not have to use them. The idea to have Bob find the scissors came to me only when I chose to breathe and be led through that valley. No one can make you decide in those frantic moments  to yield and breathe and listen. I believe we are each given the opportunity to choose in those types of situations. Repeated practice has helped me begin to choose Proverbs 3:6 more quickly. Other translations read “in all your ways ACKNOWLEDGE Him.”

Isaiah 55 still holds true in my life: Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV2011)  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Oh Lord, continue to lead and guide me, I pray.

Slow and steady, Molly Lin. Slow and steady progress towards healing.