Oh my aching back

Lying in the grass, waiting for the show.
Lying in the grass, waiting for the show.

So I threw my back out last week they day after I was in the emergency room for a stomach ache. Three days ago I started waking up every night in a night sweat. Yes, old age is upon me. Meanwhile my cousin texted to say she’s been diagnosed with a genetic disease that could explain a lot of the premature deaths in the family. The disease is called hemochromatisis. Coincidentally it was found during an investigation into stomach pain. No word yet if the two are related.

I tried to just get a doctor to tell me to take some Prilosec and see if my tummy ache would clear up. The urgent care doc sent me to the ER without much investigation. I called my doctor and he said yes, go to the ER. My stomach hurt a lot so I went to the ER. Once the ER heard about my underlying AFib I knew I was in for a long day of tests and so I sent Burt back to work. A cast of thousands took me around for a CAT scan and chest X-ray and I gave up 8 vials of blood. 6 hours later the conclusion was there was no life threatening blood clot, take some Prilosec and go see your regular doctor in a couple of days. Too bad that’s not really easy. I’ve been taking the Prilosec and my tummy still hurts but I am not going to the ER. I’m consulting with my doctor on logistics.

We were going to stay in Seattle and do another job but decided against it. If we’d stayed I’d see a doctor here. Now we are headed to Montana for two weeks, then back to OR for a little bit of work an the eclipse and then down to California for a job before heading to Arizona for Portal Irish Music Week and some more work. I’m thinking of calling doctors in California and making an appointment for September there. Ideas welcome.

Meanwhile the nightsweats are almost welcome. At least I know the cause roots, stem, and seed. The old ovaries are saying good night. Some 55,000 extra eggs in there with no where to go. Menopause is no longer a question but a fact. It’s been 81 days since I’ve seen my ‘friend.’ For the first time in my life I have a supply of products stashed everywhere I might need them (surprising irregularity will get a person organized) and no need for them. Oh, the irony. Regarding the unbelievable quantity of eggs we carry I always find it amazing. These eggs were in me while I was in my mother and they will come with me to the grave. You can’t have them.

The hemochromatosis is an interesting development. I’m planning on more thorough testing when I get to a doctor. The ER visit at least revealed that my liver is functioning properly so there is likely no problem now. I’ll get tested. If more of my relatives get tested we can figure out which branch of the family is carrying this thing and perhaps save some future lives from foreshortening. It’s an odd disease and frequently overlooked. In hemochromatosis the body absorbs and stores too much iron in the organs. Organs targeted vary.  The organs where your body stashes the iron begin to cause trouble and so symptoms vary greatly. My aunt, dead at 56, had congestive heart failure for no known reason. My mom had dementia at an early age. It could be these two sisters actually shared a genetic disorder that manifested in different ways. They both had thyroid problems and that is a common problem as well. Also my mom had terrible arthritis in her hands long before she showed signs of dementia. There’s a lot to think about.

Meanwhile my cousin, sad but lucky, will start treatment. To get rid of iron they take your blood. So, blood letting is inconvenient, tiring, and has a reputation for being a bad idea (see Geo. Washington) but could be worse. She’s young and hopefully this was caught before significant damage occurred.

Also, Mimi has definitely stopped eating regularly. It’s as if the vet visit pushed her to say, “Enough of this crap. I’m ready.” I’m feeding her wet food by the tiny dollop a few times a day. She seems to be rallying. Fingers crossed.

Mimi got a check up.
Mimi got a check up. She says, “Hi.”
Fircrest fire in Seattle
Fircrest fire in Seattle
This caught my eye. I imagine a lot of people tried to put the fire out.
This caught my eye. I imagine a lot of people tried to put the fire out.
Burt's newest assistant.
Burt’s newest assistant.
The new storage area.
The new storage area.
Hospital gurney ride.
Hospital gurney ride.
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What is wrong with me?

Common Gallinule. Some crazy facial features on these birds.
Common Gallinule. Some crazy facial features on these birds.

Last night I woke up feeling so awful I thought maybe it was the end. The kind of dread filled awful that fills a person when the blankets hurt to touch your skin,  joints were burning, the body was hot and then cold. I thrashed and could not sleep. Burt and I had a big day planned and there I was with hands too painful to move and a gut that seemed paralyzed.

My Dad arrives this Tuesday. We picked today (Thursday) as our day to head to Cabo San Lucas and pick up comfort foods for him at Coscto. Potato chips, peanuts, chocolate, wine, parmesan cheese. Things that will help ease his transition into our rustic life in Pescadero Heights. To entice us to make the run Burt decided to load up our Sea King rowboat onto the truck and we’d float out on the San Jose estuary and do so killer birding before we went shopping. All night long I obsessed about our plans falling apart. I Decided I would go no matter how bad I felt. And that is what I did. I figured I could lie in the boat while boat rowed us around. I pondered the inevitability of my gut starting to move again and figured I might have to explode from one end or the other over the gunnels of the vessel. Burt could handle it.

We made it to the Laguna San Juan in record time thanks to the newish toll roads by-passing all of the Cabo hotels and urban areas. At 8:30 we pulled into the lagoon parking and re-read the signs that we just then remembered telling us no boats are allowed on the lagoon. Oops. Funny how we both remembered we knew this fact just as we were reading signs reminding us of the fact. So here I was on an adventure that now required self locomotion. I gathered my wits and slowly trudged about. We checked out the new birding platforms. Be forewarned the steps were designed to give a degree of excitement not typically found while bird watching. The predicted gut explosion came right after I exited the scary bird tower and just as 40 some school children headed our way. Lovely timing body. Thus relieved I suggested we drive to another spot and see what we could see. Time to get some distance between me and my scat.

At the new area just a 100′ away from the previous area (water in between) we got the best look yet at the endangered and endemic Belding’s Yellowthroat. I captured a picture for my eBird records. Soon it was time to address our shopping chores. I gathered my strength and resisted the wheel chair cart at Costco. No actual parmesan cheese was found so we bought the green canned cheese-stuff to tide us over. Dad can have the remaining imported Parmesan and Burt and I will eat the salty, white, sawdust. My legs gave out for Soriana’s and Home Depot. We made it home with an hour and a half to rest before music class.  Five new species were added to our Mexico list.

So here are the possible causes of my -lips-hurt-so-much-I-can’t- talk disease: Too much pickleball yesterday? Sunburn? I even tried to convince Burt I must have an invisible sunburn because my skin hurts so intensely. Dengue fever? Food-born illness? I looked up Dengue Fever and I really hope I don’t have it. They call it bone break fever because of the debilitating body pain. Let’s all hope this is just a little food borne illness or too much pickleball.

Belding's Yellowthroat
Belding’s Yellowthroat

 

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Falta la Voz

Freshwater
Freshwater with a sandpiper

Our symptoms remain unabated. Throbbing heads, laryngitis, mucous, coughing, body aches, fever. It’s the flu. We are just miserable. To pass the time we spent $1000 pesos on a bunch of TV shows on DVD. Game of Thrones, Network…I can’t remember and I’m too drained to look. Instead of dwelling on our discomfort I present you with some pictures of a trip from a couple of days ago.

As part of our effort to bird the heck out of the area we visited a spot behind the dunes that sometimes holds water. I presume it’s brackish given the puddles proximity to the ocean but it fulls with mostly rainwater. I tried to count sand pipers and plovers but my dog and my binoculars failed me. Olive was too tempted by the shallow water and gooey mud. She tore the place up. Meanwhile my binoculars are broken. The center part that hold the two optical tubes together partially detached. The lenses are cockeyed. Looking through is instant vertigo. The only way I can use my formerly fantastic binoculars is if I close one eye and use them like a telescope. Spotting the birds is much more difficult with one eye. Just a big bummer. In summary: I counted a couple of birds with one eye and then Olive chased them away.

Meanwhile Burt was on the beach having a drastically bad time with Elvis. A poor sea lion had beached herself and appeared to be grievously injured and dying. Of course Elvis was onto the situation before Burt. With Burt screaming himself hoarse Elvis chased the weakened animal into the ocean. Elvis went into the waves with it and made some kind of effort to herd the thing back onto the sand. Burt said Elvis took quite a beating in the shore break before he heeded Burt’s commands to leave it. With Elvis back under control the sea lion crawled back onto shore. It was moving poorly. A sad scene indeed. The only thing that could of cheered us up was if a great white shark came out and gave the lobo marino instant death. But then what fun would swimming be after seeing something like that?

Time for more TV.

IMG_1175
Olive ruined the birding and covered herself in stink mud.
Elvis tried to land a dying sea lion.
Elvis tried to land a dying sea lion. He can be a real PITA.
This injured sea lion just wanted some peace.
This injured sea lion just wanted some peace.
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I caught a cold.

Burt and Elvis take in the scene.
Burt and Elvis take in the scene.

Ensconced in Portal for 8 months both Burt and I managed to avoid catching any colds. This despite some memorably afflicted friends in our immediate environs. Come to Mexico and get sick. It happens every year. I think it is the super duper increase in human contacts. We go from seeing 2 to 5 people in a day to making contacts with hundreds.  It’s like we are in kiddie daycare for adults.

First likely bed of germs: The tennis court. Tennis is a non-contact sport but think about that fuzzy ball going back and forth and from hand to hand. I like to pretend we are knocking the germs off or they are desiccating rapidly. Doubtful. Meanwhile sweat gets in your eyes. You serve the ball, receive the return, hit it wide, wipe the sweat out of your eyes. Zap. Vector for a virus.

Then there’s Spanish class. Close proximity here. Somebody coughs or sneezes and that’s it. You inhale and you’re done for. Vector.

How about Bridge? OMG. The cards, the close proximity, the swapping tables. Burt and I are taking Bridge lessons. So far it seems very interesting. After years of Pinochle and Cribbage and Briscola our abilities to assess hands and win tricks are there. Now if we can figure out all the arcane bidding communications. Burt’s mom gave us a lesson once. She played until she died. Burt’s dad Jack gave up the game. He says there is always one dickhead (He might have used a nicer word.) ruining the game. We already saw some of that. We’ve been reading up and watched two games this week. Sunday we have our first hands-on lesson. More vectors.

Add a smattering of music for children, visits with the neighbors kid (children are born vectors), going out to eat, sharing yoga mats…

Here’s the real sad news. I’m the vector now. I’ve done all this stuff not knowing I was infected. I have shaken all the bridge people’s hands. I played round robin tennis (there were 8 people on the court), I used a public yoga mat, I dipped in the communal dip at a birthday party. Worse, I used the spoon. In Mexico there is a spoon in the salsa. Supposedly it’s more polite. Everyone touches the spoon. I think it’s a greater health hazard.

My virus has achieved it’s primary mission: to spread and propagate. Burt has a sore throat. He’s out playing tennis. There’s other people to infect.

Olive likes sand.
Olive likes sand.
Evening Primrose. Some say oil of this plant will alleviate my general irritability.
Evening Primrose. Some say oil of this plant will alleviate my general irritability.
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