Friday, April 18, 2008

Advance Directive

I have one of these now.

It was interesting when the lawyer placed the document before me. Interesting as in a made me feel weird kind of way.

The last time I had worried with one was just before my mom died. We were updating things for my dad. He still was not diagnosed then. We thought he was being a little eccentric. He told us "you're trying to kill me." At first we didn't think he really meant it but then he became uncharacteristically angry and I remember sitting there trying to get my mind around what had just happened.

I chose the option that provides for no food and no water in case it is agreed I am dying and can't make any decisions for myself. My Judy didn't like that choice much and said so. Well, I didn't really like it either. She's my health care proxy. I hope she doesn't have to deal with the issue but if she does I think maybe having this document might help.

I do believe that "it is appointed for me to die once" as I read it in Hebrews 9:27. I think its best to leave the details up to The Lord. He's trustworthy.

Someone much younger that I know was talking the other day about wondering when they'd feel grown up. I've wondered that myself.

Having an advance directive is a pretty grown up thing.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Unleavened Bread

Passover begins this coming Sunday, April 20, 2008.

I have some friends who are working really hard to say sober. They're attending AA meetings and going to counseling and doing about anything and everything to escape their addiction.

I was thinking about how addiction to alcohol is like being enslaved and how similar is the escape.

It took ten plagues visited upon the Egyptians before the Pharaoh let the Israelis go. All of the plagues were pretty bad in my view.

  1. Water sources turned to blood
  2. Frogs
  3. Gnats
  4. Flies
  5. Disease on livestock
  6. Boils
  7. Hail with fire
  8. Locusts
  9. Darkness
  10. Death of first born
I was wondering if the I could make some kind of correlation between those 10 plagues and the addict's path to that final moment of clarity. I haven't done it but I think I could.

It is heartbreaking to meet some of these addicts and get to know them as individuals instead of some label. Labels are terrible in how they mask the humanness of individuals. It is easier to disregard and ignore an alcoholic than it is Joe's sister, Sarah.

At a meeting not too long ago the question was asked about how long everyone had been sober. One very young man upon his turn asked "well, what time is it?" He was serious. He had come from jail directly to the meeting. I asked about him later in the week and was told he was already back in jail. He did not make it very long this time around.

It took the death of the first born children before the slaves were released. That's a lot like reaching bottom I think.

But it turned out the being set free was only the first step.

The next was that the entire nation had to leave Egypt and they had to flee into this vast wilderness where they wandered around for a long time. They had a lot of hard stuff happen out there in the wilderness, too. All of that generation, except two, died before reaching the destination.

When freedom was granted they had to leave in a hurry. It had to be right then. It couldn't be later. So they made unleavened bread. Crackers basically. Bread does not last very long and does not pack very easily either. Crackers last a while and are pretty easily stowed for travel.

Anyway - just stuff I've been thinking about.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


J has food allergies. We ran out of places in Oklahoma City to help us. So we found a place in Dallas that we decided to try.

I have hay fever. It isn't new. But I seem to be getting more sensitive and I think the episodes are worse. During the caregiving period I became allergic to latex and once even had an anaphylactic episode.

Since we were both going to be at the clinic then I figured I would also have testing and look into both homeopathic treatment and immunotherapy.

They called it provocative testing. The tester takes a tiny amount of various allergens highly diluted in water and injects them just beneath the skin. A few minutes later he checks to see if a wheal has formed and what size it is.

The idea is to find the range of potency of the allergen that causes a reaction. Once that is known then a special compound of the antigens is formulated for periodic self-injection. Over time the potency is increased and the body learns to tolerate the allergen. In this way the actual cause of the allergic reaction is addressed and sometimes patients are able to completely avoid any medication.

It actually works pretty well for hay fever and many other kinds of allergies. But it is quite controversial for food allergies. On the other hand no one seems to have any better ideas other than avoiding all the food. That works pretty well uness you have nothing to eat as a result.

The first part of the test was for tree pollen. My first reaction was to Hackberry pollen. It was pretty mild but noticeable. I thought it was interesting because I have this old Hackberry tree on the farm. It is one of the few things there that is older than I am. I have always kind of liked that old tree.

Next he (his name is James) gave me the Juniper pollen. Whoa! I had a big reaction. I suspected I would because of a trip I made to Santa Fe in March of 2007. I had a terrible time on that trip and my cousin told me it was these Mountain Junipers. Juniper includes all these cedar trees we have everywhere around where I live. So it wasn't all that surprising.

Then we started on grasses.

I sat back down on my chair. I thought to myself this is feeling weird. The lady next to me was staring at my face. She told the tester "he's having an intense reaction." My left eye was swollen shut by then but I didn't exactly know it. My right eye was also swollen but I could still see. My mouth was hot like I had eaten a hot pepper maybe. And my tongue was swelling. It felt like my tongue was turning upside down in my mouth. Like curled up from side to side except upside down is how it felt. I wondered if I would swallow it except I don't know why I wondered that.

I started having a really hard time breathing. The others in the room said I was very red. My palms of my hands were bright red. I kept staring at them. Then my fingers turned blue. I had never seen that before. My nose was running. I was coughing. I needed water. I walked out to the water cooler and got one of those little cone things full of water. Someone got me a red plastic cup later.

I was not thinking very clearly although I did not know that at the time.

The tester gave me two injections of histamine that helped a lot. After a few minutes I thought I should tell Judy in case I died so I went to find her. I told her "I had a reaction" but it was pretty evident. I meant to tell her that I loved her and if I died I just wanted her to know that. But that was way too many words and I just could not get them all together and out of my mouth for some reason.

I went back and resumed my seat in the testing area.

The doctor kept trying to talk to me. He was standing and I was sitting. I think I finally told him that I couldn't turn my head up anymore and I'd have to talk straight ahead. But I really wanted to lie down and sleep and I wanted everyone to quit talking to me.

They took me back to this room and had me lie down. I was really cold by then and I was shivering. I tried to not shiver but I couldn't really stop it. My fingers were white. The doc said that was because the blood vessels were constricted. They checked my blood pressure and my oxygen. The nurse gave me a shot of Benadryl in my right arm into he muscle. It kind of hurt but not like a sharp pain. Then another nurse gave me another injection of some kind of steroid. I remember the doctor saying something about it but beats me what it was.

He gave Judy a prescription for EpiPens and told her to get some Benadryl and to give me more when we got to the hotel. I said I was fine and finally they let us leave. We walked out to the parking lot and I got in to drive. Judy was nice but said she thought I'd better let her drive so I got out and moved around to the passenger side.

I pretty much would do whatever anyone would tell me. I remember thinking that was funny that I was so compliant.

She found a Walgreen's and I waited on her in the car while she got the prescription. It took a long time. I slept but not very well.

Then she found the hotel. The map thing on the car is rather useful at times. I was able to check us in by that time and I carried in the suitcases and stuff. I had no energy and it was hard carrying stuff. I was definitely breathing hard but I offset it by going slowly. Judy gave me some more Benadryl and I went to sleep. I was still cold so I pulled all of the covers over me.

Sometime I became hot and then I got up for a while. I drank some juice and ate some dried blueberries I think. Then I went back to sleep and I don't remember anything else until morning.

We had to go back to the clinic. I drove. The doc asked me how I was doing and I told him "I am not excatly the sharpest knife in the drawer." My true wit!!

Then we went to Whole Foods and bought a few things and headed back home.

We're returning in a few weeks to have more tests. Hopefully there will not be any more reactions like this one.

But just in case I never get to post anything again I just want you all to know I love you.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Cup of Comfort for Horse Lovers

I received my copy of Cup of Comfort for Horse Lovers today.

I opened it with great excitement and hurried to find our own Betsy's article. It's a wonderful story entitled "A Graceful Exit." It is very well written as if there were ever any doubt. I enjoyed it so much that I turned immediately to the front and began reading from the beginning.

It isn't necessary to read the essays in any particular order. In fact I think that's one of the things that I like most about this book. I was short of time so I thought I would read just a few. Finally I stopped only when I realized I had to hurry to make an appointment. I was very surprised to find I had already covered half the book.

Of course Betsy's article has to be my favorite but I do have others. I am quite certain that everyone will have their own favorites. There's one called "Horse on Lap" that reminds me so much of Judy's "Jett."

But there is no great need to be a horse lover to enjoy this book. Really I think it is an anthology about friendship and relationship and all of the accompanying emotion and drama. The stories all have the ring of truth forged from the reality of personal experience. There is despair and joy and sadness and love and anger and bitterness and solace and as many others as can be imagined. Each story is complete in itself and I found not a single one that I would have omitted.

Great job Betsy and congratulations to Colleen Sell for putting this volume together. I hope it finds many other readers who will each find the same reward I discovered.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Flinty's Excellent Adventure

My brother and his family gave us a Christmas gift certificate to the Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri. It wasn't this past Christmas though but Christmas, 2006. That was Dad's last Christmas as it turned out and it was the beginning of the most difficult time for him and for me.

There wasn't much opportunity in 2007 for us to take a trip. It was a hard year that one was. A few times we tried to make reservations but it just never worked out for one reason or another. Finally I made the reservations on March 2nd this year. This place is expensive and packed all the time. So they have a strenuous cancellation policy as in you have to cancel like 22 days before your arrival date to get all your money back. At 21 days you only get half and then it goes down from there.

Ridgedale is about 10 miles south of Branson. I took my young family to Branson back in the early or mid 1980's. It has grown so much larger since that time and is truly a magnet for all sorts of tourists. The area is hilly (more like short mountains) with beautiful lakes and streams and lush forestation. The area around Branson is very beautiful. I personally don't like Branson that much. There are too many people for me and way too much traffic and just too touristy. But I am told by friends that there are wonderful live shows there and that I just need to learn to live a little better.

Big Cedar Lodge is actually a rather large compound of several lodges, many cabins, restaurants, and other buildings all nestled at one end of Table Rock Lake. The lodges and cabins are arranged on the side of the valley face so that every room or cabin looks out onto the lake. There are no bad views. The lodges are 3 story structures out of steel and concrete but finished on the outside with wood logs so they appear to be log buildings. The inside is plaster and very modern and nice. There is a definite outdoor theme with room decor including pelts and stuffed animals of various types.

Even though it is located in such a rural setting with a natural hunting and fishing theme it is strangely formal and elegant. Several restaurants suggest reservations for evening and business casual attire is normal. It suggests to my mind what the old Adirondack lodges must have been like. Although I admit the only thing I know about Adirondack lodges is what I learned from Dirty Dancing.

In our room there were 2 deer heads looking at us from one wall. I find it a little disconcerting to have dead animals looking at me when I'm in bed.

On another wall there was a bear skin and some pheasants and a raccoon was doing something on yet another wall. The rooms are huge with a fireplace that you turn on with a switch. There's cable and wifi and a bathtub and a shower and room service as needed. We also had a small refrigerator and a microwave. The bed had this down comforter that itself was wrapped in 2 sheets.

The lodges are set into the slope of the valley. So the road takes you behind the lodge where you park and the entry from the road is on the 3rd floor of the lodge. You come in and take an elevator down to your room if you are on floors 1 or 2.

It is very quiet here. Every room has a balcony and each balcony has two wooden rocking chairs. It is wonderfully peaceful to sit out there on the balcony and look out over the valley and the lake.

On the morning after we arrived I got out for my normal exercise time and decided to walk down to the registration building and then back. I knew it was pretty steep from driving up to the lodge in the car but you really do get a much better sense of how steep it really is when walking. I think I am in fair shape since I exercise nearly every day but in no time I was huffing and puffing.

Well the way down the hill isn't so tough although you have to be careful because you can pick up pretty good speed. But going back up is hard. On the way I met a much younger man on his mountain bike. He was going down and I had enough air to say "hi." I thought to myself that I would probably kill myself on a bike going down but if I made it down I'd have to carry the thing back up because there's no way I could peddle it.

Then I saw a father and a daughter. The daughter was in her mid-teens I think. She was jogging. Her dad was in his early 40's I'd say and he was having a tough time keeping up.

Judy took the photo of me and the stuffed bear. Did I ever tell you that she called me her "teddy bear?" The bear and I have a strangely similar body shape I think. He's quite a bit taller though. But even our arms are similarly positioned. He's looking a little more to the left though. Some people have told me I am sometimes grouchy as a bear. I wonder how bears got the grouchy reputation?

After we left Big Cedar we drove around Branson and then headed to Springfield. We had lunch there and then stopped at the big Bass Pro shop. It is really big. "Shop" is definitely the wrong word. The thing has its own stream and waterfall. We were quite interested though in this place where you could have names custom embroidered onto shirts.

Later we found a movie theater in Springfield and stopped to watch Fool's Gold. Kate Hudson was in it with Matthew McConaughey and Donald Sutherland. I think I like Kate Hudson so much because of her mother, Goldie Hawn. Even when the movie is not so good I enjoy watching Kate Hudson. This movie is not going to win any awards but it was really nice for us.

On the way back home we got off the Interstate and traveled part of old Route 66. First we stopped in Claremore and I actually got a Starbucks there. I had one the previous day inside the Bass Pro Shop so I wasn't in too much withdrawl.

Later we stopped by this new place in Arcadia, OK called "Pop's."

It's a gas station with a diner and a fountain and it is designed by an innovative architect from Oklahoma City.

It has this huge pop bottle like thing out in front that is lit up with neon at night. It is pretty impressive. In keeping with the "pop" theme the gas pumps are ultra-modern and make you think of soda pop bottles.

The walls of the building are glass and slanted on an angle. Inside there are shelves on the glass walls and on those shelves are hundreds and hundreds of soda pop bottles.

They have a rather large collection of different soda pops that you can buy.

I bought a sarsaparilla and a root beer. The place was very busy when we were there with nearly every table taken in the little diner area. The diner is kind of old fashioned and nostalgic.

I suppose it is the nostalgia that maybe is the big draw. Or maybe it is the uniqueness of the thing or the kind of kitschiness that it is meant to make one remember about old Route 66.

It is surprisingly close to Edmond, Oklahoma where my kids live. I knew about the place but in my mind it should have been further away. But that's just how much things have changed since my childhood and how spread out our population is in Oklahoma City.

But we had a lot of fun stopping by Pop's. Since we were in no particular hurry we didn't mind the slowness of the old 2 lane road either. But just in case anyone has forgotten let me say that 2 lane roads are really, really slow. There is no hurrying period.

We also saw the old round barn in Arcadia that has been restored. I remember seeing this thing as a child although I do not remember very well the trips we took when I must have seen it. That was a time before the Interstates that seems so long ago now.

I remember it being pretty much like it is today and then I remember it nearly collapsing. According the web site the roof did collapse in 1988. Volunteers raised money and provided labor to rebuild it. It is a true round barn. It was built in 1898.

The End.