Sunday, July 29, 2007

Starting another week

First of all, thank you to everyone who posted and emailed with their concern. We really do appreciate it! The short version is: my aunt passed away suddenly last week. I flew down to Oklahoma City to be with my family, and now I'm back.

We haven't seen a spider since last Tuesday. Of course, I haven't been in the basement either.

We had 2-3 days of relief from the 100+ degree heat Thursday and Friday, but we're climbing back up there, and should get hit with hot hot hot and dry dry dry and sun sun sun by Monday or Tuesday. We sill only have the one small window air conditioner (for which we are eternally grateful) but Stephan worked on a window-screen project the other night that's helping cool off the house at night.

In other Stephan news... he helped save someone's life on Monday morning! A person came in with chest pain, and between Stephan, the night nurse (who was amazing and stayed 3 hours after his shift was over) and a doctor, they got the pain down, and got everything prepped and ready for a plane flight to Billings. Stephan found out later that the person is doing very well. The flight nurses were very impressed with how well "packaged" the patient was. I'm so proud.

This coming week has us driving to Wolf Point, Montana so that I can pick up an Amtrak train that will take me to St. Paul, so I can catch a plane flight to get me to St.Louis for a week. I'm taking my last Healing Touch class Thursday through Sunday. For sure there will be no internet next week- so if you're bored, you can go back and read some old posts. Here is a post with my favorites.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

For Someone- and Anyone

Sorry to bog down the internet, but when I heard this song, I started crying. We've had a very recent tragedy in our family- we would appreciate kind thoughts right now.

No Vacancy

Responses to our spider problem (This photo is of the 3rd one we've found. It's not a good photo because I took it from 10' away)...

1. "You guys have guns in the house, right?"
2. "It would have just handed me the shoe right back!"
3. "We need to get county tags for our spiders, forget about the chicken idea."
4. "It asked me if anything had come in the mail for it."
5. "I would move."
6. "Whacha need tuh git yurself dair is uh can uh raid."
7. "...and then the spider grabbed the can out of my hand and said..."
8. "...he spit the bullet out and asked me..."

This one looks different than the last one, but it's the same size (cue the AA batteries). Any ideas?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Not What Martha had in mind

Take out a AA battery. Really. Do it. Now, add legs. Not kidding. It's spider time people. Spider. Freaking. Time. People.

The spider was on the landing on the way to the basement. According to Stephan it's a wolf spider, not harmful at all. But it was waiting for a package to be delivered to our house, and was reading a newspaper just before posing for the photo. Not to worry, Sierra Club Members, Stephan relocated it out back, unharmed. During the Wildlife America Episode occuring in the basement, I was happily breathing into a paper bag on the couch in the living room. Stephan is currently yelling at the cats for not earning their kibble, allowing things like this to live with us.

In other news, I'm slowly finding out that homesickness is a normal part of adjusting to a new life. I have the guru here to help me navigate my way through this, and, as he says, it's a good thing.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

What we're doing today...

Stephan got up and is at a fire department meeting. Apparently it will last through most of the day, and include training sessions, and vehicle maintance.

Which left me to take out the trash.

About "the trash": Saturday morning from 9-noon, and Wednesday evenings from 7-8pm, the dump is open. There is no home-pickup of garbage. No garbage trucks in Plevna, Montana. So, during the week, we put our garbage in the garage. On Saturdays, or Wednesdays, depending on our schedule, we put the garbage bags IN THE CAR and drive about 1/2 a mile to the dump. The garbage goes IN THE CAR. We don't have a truck with an open truck bed. We have a Ford Escape. All the windows rolled down, the air blowing at maximum, sometimes the rear trunk window open, we drive to the dump.

You get there, back up to a big truck-trailer sized open bin, and throw them in. Now, anything can go into this dumpster, large sticks of wood, metal, furniture, walls of chicken coops, animal skins....

And today was my turn.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Mostly funny, but a little sad too


7:00pm "Hey, let's grill burgers! I'll let the dogs out..."

7:30pm "Hi Mom, we miss you..."

8:00pm "Wow, these are great burgers..."

8:45pm "Little Miss Sunshine IS funny..."

8:57pm "Where are the dogs??"

8:58pm "At least we know they'll stay in the yard..."

Yesterday was also the day that Stephan lost a patient while he was at work. It was early in the morning, and the family was all gathered together. It was a very peaceful moment, but a new one for Stephan. He said it the whole day was just a little more sad than he's used to, but he was okay overall. Of course, we wish peace and comfort to the family and friends of this very special person.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Overheard: Lemon Squares

Him: This package says that high altitude is 3,500 feet.
Me: I think that's us.
Him: Really?
Me: [typing]
Me: Oh, we're only at 2,900.
Him: Um, then I'll split the difference.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Fired Up

Ok. So I'm finally recovered from this morning's Fire the Grid events, and thought I'd write about our little vacay last week. We took off on Tuesday night, around 8pm (dogs were in a kennel for the first time in their lives. I cried) and drove straight to Shell Knob, Missouri. We got there 18 hours later to visit with my family for a while. It was a wonderful visit, as they all are. Too short, as they all are. Everyone left Friday morning, which left us with a few hours to ourselves!

I dragged Stephan through Southwestern Missouri to Roaring River State Park right on the Arkansas border. This is where the family vacations used to be, and where some of my fondest memories take me. We spent the afternoon hiking and exploring, feeding the fish (where was a paper cup when I needed it??), buying snacks at the store, and smelling the wonderful fish-hatchery smell that is such a fond memory.

Up from there to Osage Beach, Missouri to rondaveu with Stephan's parents for a few days of exploring and fishing. We stayed as long as we could with them, eating lunch at Peckers with the early family, and headed out... which meant 24 hours in the car, stopping only a few times. Once, in Grand Island, Nebraska to visit Henry, but that was at 11:30pm. I don't remember much of that. The ride home was brutal, and left my brain scrambled. But last night we slept well (in air conditioning, since it had been almost 100 degrees during the day) and today we were both back at work.

I didn't take any photos. Sorry.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Re: The Zombies

We're home! We're exhausted! We're homesick! It's almost 100 degrees here again today, so we've got the air conditioner doing its best to cool things off as we take stock of the damage that leaving in a hurry for 7 days caused. There's food in the sink, poop in the litter box, and dirty clothes everywhere. It's the post-vacation denouement.

We have some photos and some stories, including the mini-golf episode and book on tape that prompted the zombie comment. I promise more posting soon!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

We'd be in trouble if we were being chased by a hoard of killer zombies.

We would be.

Missouri is great. We've had some really wonderful vacation days. We've rested, we've visited, we've driven. I'll write more later- the speed of the internet at the Super 8 is a little slow.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Busy Busy!

The ER was so busy this morning, they didn't have time for stitch-removal. So I left and got things together for this latest car trip halfway across the country. This time it's 18 hours to Missouri. I've got a few more books on tape, and my next stop is out to the grocery store for caffeine!

So, I mowed the lawn and took the stitches out myself! I'm kinda proud, kinda woozy, kinda itchy. I don't know what the internet situation will be for the next week. Sorry if you miss us! We'll be back with even more summer in Montana news soon!

Wrong Side...

Every day we drive past this playground. Once or twice I've heard local people laugh about the location of this particular playground. It's right next to the train tracks. There's a 4' tall chain link fence between the tracks and the playground. I've often seen picnic's and BBQ's being held out there.

It's not just me, right? This is funny? Right?

Monday, July 9, 2007

Worlds Collide

This morning on my drive back home from dropping Stephan off at work I was listening to the radio station. I don't know the name of the guy who DJ's before 6am, but I usually he just plays music and doesn't talk much. Today he interrupted the music with a news story. I was expecting some important information about the price of winter wheat or calf creep, but no.

He was reporting on this story. To summarize, "E3" is the Electronic Entertainment Expo. It is the annual convention for video game companies: the designers, promoters, and fan-atics. Every year it takes over the hearts and minds of geeks everywhere. It also takes over the entertainment production industry. It's the loudest, flashiest, most crowded convention I'd ever been to. It's like putting the entire city of Tokyo, all the people, lights, music, signs, billboards, and chaos, into the LA Convention Center and pressing Play.

It's a show I used to be intimately involved with on a yearly basis. It's an event that has kept many of my closest friends busy for the month of May, every year, for years.

Driving past the hills sparkling with dew, where the cows and calves were just waking up to the first rays of sun, a light mist still dawdling out over the streams, I listened to this news with interested detachment. The memory of beautiful chaos seeming almost impossible in this new setting.

Friday, July 6, 2007

You asked for it! **Graphic**

I've gotten a few emails and phone calls (and IM's) about my panic moment last night at seeing the incision site for the first time. Thank you for being concerned, and of course, I know that in a few days I'll look back on this all and be glad for the period of personal growth. I've never been cut open before, never had stitches, never broken a bone, and only ever had one cavity in my whole life. Up until Tuesday, the image I had of my body being an impenetrable fortress of steel was uninterrupted. Even when talking with the doctor about the incision and the drainage tube, I had pictured something small, almost cute.

The first shock came when I realized how long the tube was that had lived under my skin for two days. Feeling something several inches long being pulled out of my neck confused my brain, and stopped my heart for a moment. I've seen too many X-Files episodes to be okay with anything living under my skin. Kayle was good, though. She put the table down so I could breath and not fall over. Stephan demanded my eyes stay open. My vivid imagination kept replaying the length of tube, the suction that had been going on for 48 hours, the draining fluid, the information that there was a hole in my body.

It took a while to get over that. Mostly I just tried to forget about it. Even now, typing, I can feel a hard lump form in the front of my throat where I remember the tugging sensation from yesterday.

Being out of line with pain medicine is another challenge I wasn't expecting to be so hard. I get confused, sad, depressed, upset, angry, and lost in my own house when the throbbing hits. Last night in front of the mirror, I really thought I'd just see a little line with 2 or 3 stitches in it. I thought the gauze was way over-sized for protection. Just seeing the actual length of the incision started me spinning. Again, the good imagination kicked in and I pictured the skin open, violated. This fortress I've lived with so easily cut into and pushed aside, and sewn back together. I saw black thread, red tissue, cut and broken. I saw a throat that looked as if it had been slit.

For a surgical incision, I've been told, this is amazing. There is no sign of infection, the line is perfectly straight, the stitches even and well-placed. It took a lot for me to face the mirror again and take the gauze off by myself. Now that I can look at the photo, I can replace all the upsetting images with healing ones- my body is making new cells every second, and taking the old cut up ones away. The skin knows how to weave itself together, my immune system knows what is friend and what is foe. The body repairs itself so many times a day. I'd forgotten how amazing it is, and how lucky I am to experience first hand the miracle that my body is. I am grateful to have a healthy body, and to watch it grow and repair. I'd forgotten.

FAQ: Isn't it nice to spend a cool summer up at altitude?

Answer: NO.

I've closed up the house already this morning, put a lot of water in the fridge, and continued the Air-flow Experiment, part 6.

Last night was challenging for both of us. Stephan got home on time, and I had been sleeping. I woke up without much pain medicine in my body, but pretty happy nonetheless. Stephan set me up to take a shower with a towel clipped to my neck to keep the stitches dry. He also washed my hair in the kitchen sink. He didn't sing or describe recipies like Julia Child the way my mom and dad used to, but having clean hair after a few days was wonderful. We did have a slight disagreement about just how bad he must have smelled in Bolivia when it was 3 weeks between showers...

Well, after I was clean and dry, it was time to change to bandages. He carefully took off the tape (getting my hair out of the way) and was an excellent nurse through the whole process. I looked in the mirror. It was good that I already had both hands wrapped around the towel bar. I had imagined about 3-4 stitches, maybe 1" long. That's not what I saw. I saw a long black line, that seemed to run from the center of my neck to the side of my jaw. I got sick, dizzy, grossed out, and so sad. I looked at Stephan and cried, "There's something gross and it's ME!!"

The fallout from the incident lasted about 25 minutes. Poor Stephan had worked 12 hours, gone grocery shopping, started cooking, was really hungry and sat with me, talking me down from being scared of my own skin.

I highly recommend this site for guided imagery to help anyone calm down or stay level headed around surgery or healing. Let me know if you use one of them and it works for you!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

That was unexpected

I'm back! Back from surgery, back from Billings, out of a Percocet-induced sleep (for at least another 20 minutes). Quick health update: when the doc looked inside, there were two 'bad' lymph nodes that had nestled up next to the salivary gland, appearing on all the images as stones. So those were removed and sent out to the pathology lab to see what's going on.

There are much more gory details and photos. Let me know if you want to hear more.

Tuesday night we stayed at our friend Diane's house. We'd gotten fresh eggs from her a few times, and I knew she had a farm, but I never imagined how beautiful it would be. As we were driving there I kept saying, "THIS is what I thought Montana would look like when we moved here!" We could see snow-capped mountain tops in the distance, the rolling hills were full of huge pine trees. Rivers snaked their way among the forests and eagles, owls, deer and antelope were everywhere. Everything seemed lush and green and just amazing.

The house was a log and stone cabin on a hill with large porches. She raises Appaloosa horses, bantam chickens, and poodles. I took a ton of photos, so look for those on the Flickr site soon.

Stephan had a birthday cake that night that I packed the night before without him knowing. As I was about to drift off to sleep in the OR I sat up and looked at the nurse, "THE CAKE!!"

"Please tell my husband that there's a cake in the car for him I don't want it to get spoiled in the afternoon heat is that okay for you to pleeeaeaassseee ccccaaaaaaallllllllll hhhhhiiiiimmmmmmmmmmm."

She did, and he got the cake, and ate it that night with plenty of wine. I know he appreciates all the phone calls and birthday wishes he got that day. He's back at work today and tomorrow, so if you're trying to get a hold of him, it may take a while for him to call you back.

Thanks again to everyone who sent prayers and positive energy. It's so amazing to have so much love surrounding us, even when we're far away.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Since I won't post tomorrow

Me: It's cool that we've never had to sleep in seperate rooms of the same house. Like, I've never made you sleep on the couch.
Him: Uh huh.
Me: Except those times when you were sick and smelled bad, then I left you alone.
Him: And the time you smelled bad.
Me: WHEN?!
Him: Oh, I was just hoping there was a time in there I didn't remember.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

It's not just for Horses!

Here are some interesting facts about hay bales.

* The average hay bale weighs 1,500 pounds.
* An average cow eats about 15 pounds of hay per day.
* Ranchers need to provide hay for their cattle about 6 months out of the year (we figure).
* The average rancher in Eastern Montana has 300 head of cattle.
* Hay is harvested on a rancher's own land, from grass and other plants growing on the fields.
* Ranchers can purchase hay bales, but the shipping costs are considerable.
* You cannot ship a hay bale using FedEx.

Because of the very wet spring we had, ranchers are already baling hay! This may mean that they will be able to harvest hay twice this summer, which is a very good thing, since they will need, on average, 600 bales of hay to feed their cattle during the winter.

It kinda looks like this: big huge lawn-mowers cut down the tall fields of grass. We can mainly see that the shoulders of the road are used for this purpose. The grass was about 3'-4' tall. The mowers (or whatever they're called) put the grass on the ground in a very long row, with everything pretty much laying the same direction. I haven't seen it, but I'm assuming that a hay-baler comes along and makes a big roll out of this row, and then there's something that puts really strong plastic straps around the whole mess to keep it together. The finished product looks about 6' in diameter, and about 6' wide.

If I find out more I'll let you know.