Category Archives: Medicine

Favorite People

Husband  told me out of the blue this week that his three favorite people  of the 20th Century were Rosa Luxemburg, Dorothy Day, and Martin Luther King, Jr. (He has more time to sit and think now that he doesn’t travel for work). I had to admit that I didn’t know who Rosa Luxemburg was, but Husband tells me she was a good socialist.

Given our current situation, I think my three favorite people of the 20th Century would be Jonas Salk, Alexander Fleming, and Tommy Douglas.

Who are your favorite people from the 20th Century? How about the 21st? 

Bug Bites

Well, the dog may be happy and the garden is really thriving and my kitchen floor is spectacularly clean, but I can’t say that my lower legs are particularly flourishing with furlough and shelter-in-place. 

Two weeks ago I dropped my bow saw putting it away and it scrapped my leg below the knee, so I have seven ½” long wounds, nicely healing but still a bit pink.  I have a bruise just below my left knee – I really have no idea how I got that one.  I have a nice gash from a rock that whipped its way out of the lawn mower and at least five various pokes from crawling around on mulch while weeding.

The spot that’s bothering me is the bug bite that I got on Thursday – it actually looks like two bites right next to each other, so it probably happened when I kneeled on something, but it itches like the devil and is still red after a few days.  Lots of Benadryl gel helps some.  Neosporin and a bandaid felt good this morning but I figure I’ve got a couple more days until it’s healed up.

I’m not sure if I should just give up my lucrative leg modeling contract or start wearing long pants while I garden.

Any unintended consequences lately in your life?

Your Private Hell

Husband declared the other day  that his private Hell consisted of dealing with paper (he has neuropathy in his fingertips from diabetes and can’t sort or easily manipulate papers or feel his fingers on a keyboard), keeping organized the cords for our various computers,  phones, and tech instruments,  and the internal combustion engine. He is in Heaven, on the other hand turning a phrase or writing a psychological evaluation.

What would constitute your private Hell?  


Today’s post comes from Jacque.

Two weekends of my life have been lost to construction of homemade masks.  This is not usually how I would spend a weekend, but then these are not normal times.  And what else was there to do anyway given our Shelter-in-Place order.  And constructing masks certainly is preferable to allowing debilitating fear and anxiety about our COVID-19 problem to take over my life.  I would rather allow something useful to take over my life.   The need for these was urgent, though.  Several people asked me to send masks ASAP.  Unfortunately, many of them are going to medical providers:

  • Sister-in-law, a doctor. She says they have shields and it was suggested they use homemade masks under them.  They had to find their own homemade masks.
  • Brother-in-law, a nurse. He has masks at his hospital but they are forbidden from using the one mask they have been assigned anywhere but in direct care.
  • Daughter of a friend, another nurse. Her hospital has assigned each nurse one N95 mask with the instructions to use a homemade mask over it to preserve the usefulness of it.  She also had to find her own mask.
  • My mother’s assisted living facility which has no masks at all—they are entirely dependent on donated masks amid the most vulnerable population of all.

To date, I have made 65 of these, and mailed out or given away 60.  Someone at  Blue Cross Blue Shield and Allina designed the masks I have made, then sent them out appealing to anyone who can sew.  An NBC article I found yesterday cited a research study by a Dr. stating that these screen out 79% of viruses and bacteria.    Not bad for quilting materials.  The instructions (thrown together and hand drawn) are here:

Then came the issue of obtaining materials.  First everyone everywhere ran out of elastic, then elastic hair ties which were used to improvise elastic.  I hear people are cutting the elastic off of underwear to make them.  I found shoelaces, ordered 4 spools from a shoelace site, and have been attaching those.  They tie very tightly and stay put.  The medical people need that.  Next, during a trip to Joann Fabric, the store was shut down because people would not stay 6 feet apart in the store.   Thus my on-line order was cancelled.   I went to the Edina Joann, and joined a line in front of the store.  They only allowed 25 customers in the store at once to maintain a distance.  The fly in that ointment was that all 25 customers headed for the quilt fabric department – to make masks.  We did our best to maintain 6 feet of distance from one another.  I did get more fabric, then launched into making more.

I am taking a break now from mask construction, having overdosed on the entire project.  I just could not do one more after yesterday.  I sent them off Monday morning to family in Phoenix, to KC, to Iowa wishing them 79% ability to block a virus and that they perform efficiently.  In a few days I will start some more, but I won’t make that many at a time again.   Today, for a change of pace, I planted my cold frame, wallowing in the joy of early Spring and the possibilities of my garden.  Then I fixed supper, using the baked potato recipe Steve posted yesterday via YouTube.  They were good.

What have you overdosed on lately? 


Husband is slow. Motorically slow. He always has been slow.  He really can’t do much of anything quickly, and it has been a source of frustration for him that I can do things quickly.  Really quickly.  When I did my psychology internship at a VA hospital in Iowa, we interns were administered  the same  battery of neuropsychological tests that we would eventually administer to the patients.  One of the tests was the Purdue Pegboard, which is a large board with holes for pegs, and you time people to see how fast they can put the pegs in the holes. It assesses bilateral motor speed and coordination. I had the fastest time ever for anyone who had taken the test at that clinic.

Last week, I got a notification from that recent analysis of my DNA revealed me to have the Sprinter gene, common in athletes, especially in successful short distance runners. I never was an athlete, but my dad was, and he was really speedy.  In high school he could zip around the basketball court so fast that he once caused the boy assigned to guard him to start crying during a game because he couldn’t keep up with him.  He did most things really fast, and I am pretty sure I inherited that gene from him.

What genetic advantage  do you think you inherited? Make up a gene you would like to have.


Cataract Surprises

Husband has his second cataract surgery today on his left eye. His right eye is really improving with some surprising  sequelae.  He says that it feels like his brain is being washed with light and color now.  We have a pretty good division of labor when it comes to cleaning house. I dust and do laundry.  He vacuums,  and folds and puts away the laundry. We both clean the kitchen.  On Saturday Husband noticed, for the first time in a long time, how many crumbs were on the upholstered seats of the dining room chairs, and he vacuumed them. He ordered me out of the kitchen twice over the weekend as his vision has improved to the point that he needs far less help from me while he cooks.

I remember hearing the shock and anguish from people, usually women, who have cataract surgery and realize how dusty their homes became as their vision worsened.  I am a fairly lackadaisical duster, and I must admit that I let it go for far longer than I should.  I suppose Husband’s improved vision means I will have to dust more often since he can actually see how dusty things get now. His improved quality of life means more work for me!

What have been some unexpected sequelae after improvements in your life?

Immunity Amnesia

I was fascinated as well as horrified to read that getting the measles leaves an individual with a compromised immune system that increases  vulnerability to other infections like flu and pneumonia.  The measles makes the immune system forget all the antibodies it has built up against diseases already encountered, leaving the post-measles sufferer at risk to catch diseases they already had. Boy, is that unfair, as well as dangerous.  This phenomenon is called “Immunity Amnesia”

I remember getting chickenpox, measles, rubella, mumps, and roseola.  I remember polio vaccine in a sugar cube, as well as a small pox booster.   I didn’t run into anyone who had a bad experience with these childhood illnesses until I encountered some middle aged and elderly developmentally disabled folks in our area who contracted measles or scarlet fever as very young children long before there were vaccines and were left with serious intellectual and developmental disabilities.  How tragic, and how wonderful we have vaccines now.

 What do you remember about childhood illnesses? 

The Blues

Maybe not a breakfast topic, but what the heck!

Last Thursday I woke up in the wee hours and couldn’t get back to sleep. Even turning on my “go-to-sleep” movies didn’t help.  Then when I finally decided to just get up, I had a headache – an unusual occurrence for me.  I was scheduled to give blood later in the morning so spent a couple of minutes checking on Google if there was anything I could take for a headache before getting stuck.

Then I trudged into the bathroom and blew my nose. It was blue.  I’m not kidding.  And not just any blue, but aqua blue.  Bright aqua blue.  Disturbing to say the least.  Since I had the laptop all powered up, I headed back to my room and searched “blue ____ (fill in your favorite word)”.  I was not really expecting to find anything, but it’s the internet, so I should have known better.  Apparently there is a bacteria (Pseudomonas pyocyanea) that causes this blue output.  One of the other symptoms – headache! This infection doesn’t seem to be majorly life-threatening although a few websites did say if it went on for more than a day or so, you should definitely get to your doctor.  Great. So then I spent time trying to figure out if I should give blood if I might have this bacterial infection.  That I couldn’t find.

I was still struggling with whether I should cancel my trip to the blood mobile when I went downstairs. As I went to get Rhiannon’s morning pill on the kitchen counter, my eyes fell on the Ukrainian dye that I had stirred up the night before.  Purple and — wait for it — aqua.  The dyes are made up of really fine powder; I must have gotten some of it in the atmosphere and breathed it in.  Subsequent nose blowings confirmed the blue to be a one-time occurrence and not a continuing “infection”.  I felt like an idiot after spending at least an hour searching online.

Hypochondria isn’t an affliction that I usually count among my foibles, but after Thursday, I’m not so sure anymore.

Any embarrassing revelations to take the heat off of me?

Are We Really Ready?

The headlines today say that Facebook is creating  “an immersive environment called Horizon to tempt people into spending more time in virtual reality.”  They’re calling this virtual world “Horizon”.

I just recently finished reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, which is about a future in which a worldwide virtual reality called “Oasis” has become the reality for most people.  Despite there being some seriously bad guys in the story, Ready Player One is much more optimistic about this future virtual world than I am.

Having just written yesterday about my unhappiness with my phone game addiction, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to jump into a virtual reality world with both feet. I mean, if you spend lots more time in “Horizon” or “Oasis” or “Eden”, who does the dishes and vacuums the dog hair?  My job of physically sending people to exotic destinations would be kaput.  In Ready Player One, many people got jobs in the Oasis but it still doesn’t answer the question of who makes your frozen burritos and who maintains the building you live in.

So I think I’ll pass. At least for now.

You just got a new planet for your birthday. What would you call it?  Anything special about it?

Binder Heaven

Binders are my thing. Give me a good binder with tabs any day.  I have a binder for my other book club, for poetry that I’ve printed off the internet, for directions, for recipes and for Solstice planning.  Vacations and special events like the solar eclipse also get binders.  I made a binder for YA’s college search and another one for college financial aid.  Luckily at work, I need a binder for each program and I also have a binder for assorted things I need to keep track of.

YA’s injury has generated massive amounts of paper: emergency room paper, orthopedic paper, worker’s comp paper and insurance paper. Every time we leave the house for an appointment, I get handed the folder.  I joked on Tuesday that I was going to put it all in a binder; YA snorted.

So I was surprised yesterday morning when she said “can you put all these papers in a binder?” I didn’t know how serious she was and although I agreed, I didn’t have the project on my immediate radar.  She asked again at 5 p.m. and then 8:30.  At that point I grabbed an unused binder (yes, I have a stash) and some tabs (yes, I have a stash) and we worked on it together.  She sorted out all the papers, I labeled the tabs and 3-hole punched everything.  As she wheeled herself back to her room with the completed binder, I felt a warm glow.  Two binder gals together!

How do you like to organize your papers?  Do you think our society will EVER be paperless?