Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘Health update

Asthmatic Thoughts

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Folks, I’d intended to write two more blogs starting with “The Transformative Power of” rather than this, but here’s what I’ve got. Enjoy?

The last few days for me haven’t been that wonderful. I had an asthma attack that was bad enough to force me to go to the emergency room — something that hasn’t happened in years — and interrupted my rehearsal on Thursday night with the Racine Concert Band for the upcoming concert at Case High School on Tuesday, May 21.

At least, for me.

I hope I didn’t interrupt it for anyone else. But I had to leave. I couldn’t breathe well. And about fifteen minutes into rehearsal, I took four hits on my albuterol rescue inhaler — the max dose. But all that did was get me to the break without passing out. It didn’t allow me to regain my energy or breath well enough to continue playing my saxophone, and I only barely had the energy to concentrate on driving to the ER.

I’ve been asthmatic most of my life, but it wasn’t diagnosed until age 27. Most of the time, I’ve been able to do everything I want to do, including five K walk/runs (I used to power walk, when my back still allowed me to do such). With a little prudence, even on very hot and humid days, I can do what I need, providing I rest a great deal and be sure to have my rescue inhaler handy.

But that’s why this was so frustrating. I know what to do. And yet, I was running a bit late, was afraid I’d get into rehearsal late, and I didn’t want that. While I’d taken my rescue inhaler around five p.m. — meaning it should’ve still been able to help for the 7 p.m. rehearsal — I had just done the fastest walk I’m capable of from the parking lot, with my cane, sax, and big, heavy purse in tow. So that, right there, was probably all I had, breathing-wise…and that’s why, fifteen minutes in, I had to take four puffs of albuterol.

What also was difficult for me, then, was not realizing how bad off I was. My stand-partner, Vivian, who’s known me since I was 18, is the one who realized what was going on. She told me I should go seek medical attention, and get a breathing treatment; I told her that I wanted to stay at rehearsal, so I’d try to take the rescue inhaler instead.

And you already know what happened then.

When I got to the ER, they took me right back to a room. (The local hospital, Ascension-All Saints, takes shortness of breath in an asthmatic seriously, which I greatly appreciate.) Within a half an hour or so, I was given a breathing treatment on a nebulizer, and my mind started to clear. (That my oxygen saturation when I got there was approximately 85% did not help, though it did go back up after I sat for a few minutes.) They then gave me three tablets of prednisone, and while that made me very jumpy and jittery, it also allowed me to have enough energy to drive home a few hours later.

I didn’t call my parents, or my sister, until I knew what was going on and could talk without gasping. (My sister works very early in the morning, and I was in the ER until after midnight.) As my brother lives in another state entirely, I didn’t think to even tell him about this, either. But I wasn’t thinking too clearly at the time.

I did text a few friends who were expecting to hear about my rehearsal, and had been worried as they knew I didn’t feel that wonderful when I left on Thursday for rehearsal in the first place. I did that mostly because I knew they were waiting to hear from me. I always try to keep in contact when someone’s expecting to hear…anyway, fortunately for me, one of my best friends I’d texted lives in town.  She came over to the ER, sat with me the last half-hour until they let me go, and drove behind me all the way home to make sure I’d get there all right.

This gave me great comfort.

I was told by the doctor to take it easy over the weekend. No practicing at all. No heavy shopping trips for my mother, if I could avoid it. (Light stuff was OK providing I took my time about doing it.) No editing, if I could avoid it. I could write, to tolerance, and I have — not just this blog either. (1000 words of fiction, yay!) And providing I do take it as easily as possible, he said I could play the dress rehearsal on Monday night, and the concert on Tuesday night — providing I take my rescue inhaler beforehand and after, and continue to take steroids for several days to aid my breathing overall.

I still have hope that I will play this concert. It isn’t going to be easy for me. I am not going into it with much strength, energy, or clarity of mind. But I can do it, and have promised I would…so I will find a way, if at all possible.

I was very scared by this episode. I used all the biofeedback techniques I have learned recently to stay as calm as possible on the road to the ER, and was able to “stay in the moment” to drive safely over there even feeling the way I did. (Why did I do this, you ask? They tow cars if you leave ’em at the practice site overnight. I can’t afford that!)

But I was fortunate. My stand-partner knew I was ill, which prompted me to take my rescue inhaler in the first place. She also urged me to go to the ER when I was still ailing after. And after that, I got good attention in the ER; my friends helped as much as they could from where they were; my family, while being miffed that I didn’t call or text or do anything to let them know in the moment, has been very understanding of how little I’ve been able to do over the last two days since that happened.

I promise you all, I will take my meds on time. I am not going to ever forget to take my rescue inhaler directly before practice again, either, even if I’m already fifteen minutes late…though I hope I won’t be late at all, so I can go in without feeling like I have to “haul ass” and thus have almost nothing to work with from the get-go.

All I can say, else, is that I survived this. And I’m glad, though I wish I hadn’t had to deal with it and had just been able to play as normal.

Anyway, I do hope to write the other blogs about “the transformational power of” later this week, if all goes well. And I would like to know what you think about this, the most personal of blogs I’ve written in a very, very long time…tell me about it in the comments, please. (You are reading, right?)

 

Sick at the Holidays…

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Folks, I have meant to write a blog or at least drop in a little bit of something for the past week-plus. But I have been quite ill.

I’ve been to the doctor twice and a third visit is in the offing. All I know is, I have had two ear infections (one in both ears, or a double ear infection), a bad sinus infection, an upper respiratory infection, and all of this happened more or less at the same time. As I have asthma, too, and other health issues already, none of this has helped me feel productive or like I have a place in the world.

Being ill is hard enough, but being sick at the holidays is even worse. I don’t know why that is, but it seems to add insult to injury somehow…and adds a bunch of stress to an already stressful situation.

I have so much stuff to do. Stuff to write. Stuff to edit. Stuff to read, even…and I can do none of it right now. I can’t even help my family members when they need help, as I usually do. Because I can’t get out to do anything for them right now. And that adds to my feelings of stress, not to mention that “do I have a place in the world?” thing I discussed above.

All I know is, I have to somehow heal up. That means another trip to the doctor, to figure out what happened this time, and how to fix it. Maybe I didn’t respond to the last bit of antibiotics? Maybe I caught something else on top of all the other stuff? Maybe something else is going on and I haven’t a clue what?

This is what’s running through my mind, as I write this.

So, folks: Don’t get this, whatever it is. And if you do somehow get something like it, get your rest as fast as you can, and don’t insist — as I unfortunately did — on trying to do any of your normal activities. As bad as it is to feel useless, it’s even worse to feel useless and sick…so pick the best of your available bad options, and rest/heal as best you can.

Oh, and try to laugh, too. That does help.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 31, 2018 at 1:46 am

Quick Update

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Folks, I just wanted to let you all know that I am still alive.

(Yeah. Really.)

The last week or two has been challenging, and I haven’t enjoyed my time much. While I have managed to read a number of good books (including Deborah Harkness’ A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, a book I had wanted to read for over a year, and Audrey Sharpe’s two fine space opera books, the latter being THE CHAINS OF FREEDOM), and I’ve written a little bit, I’ve mostly had to rest.

And I find rest boring.

So, I read and re-read favorite books, including a number of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Liaden series, the three Allie books of Katharine Eliska Kimbriel, and the two Zero books by Chris Nuttall. I thought a lot about the stories I was working on, and talked with other writers about their stories. And I did just a little editing here and there, to keep my hand in…as I truly do hate doing nothing.

Of course, I haven’t been doing nothing. I’ve been recovering. But it feels like nothing, and I won’t pretend it doesn’t.

Granted, I have the philosophy that “work does a body good.” But sometimes, when your body is worn-down, all you can do is rest and prepare your next assault on the “work fortress.” And that’s where I’ve been, the past two weeks.

I look forward to getting back up to speed soon, though. So keep watching this space…as you never do know what I’m about to say next. (Is that part of my charm? I’d like to think so.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

January 22, 2018 at 7:23 pm

Posted in Informational Stuff

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Writing, Hand Issues, and More Frustration…

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Folks, you probably have noticed that I haven’t written a blog in nearly a week.

There is a reason for that. Three of them, to be exact: Hand issues. Frustration. And lots of editing.

My writing has taken a big-time backseat to all of this.

Now, as for the hand issues? I have tendinitis in both hands and wrists. (Until recently, I was told this was carpal tunnel syndrome, but now, the diagnosis has been revised.) Typing is painful at the moment. Using my arms at all is painful, too. I’m going to hand therapy, using heat, ultrasound, and doing various exercises, all so I can continue to use my hands as best I can.

Why am I so worried about my hands? (This may seem basic, but please bear with me.) Without my hands, I can’t work. As being an editor pays most of my bills, I need to do this despite the pain.

That’s why writing, for the moment, is taking a backseat, even though I don’t like it much. I just can’t concentrate on my stories right now, because everything I’ve got is going either into the hand therapy, my editing, or just living day-to-day life.**

In addition, I have another concert to play in a week and a half with the Racine Concert Band as a saxophonist. My part won’t be very difficult; I will have no solos, I will not have any exposed parts, and I will be someone that most people won’t even realize is playing. Yet the conductor and other members of the band would notice if I didn’t show up, and thus I’m going to go and do my best.

Even though it hurts.

I’ve persisted through a lot in my life. I’ve endured divorces, deaths, health problems, financial distress, floods, earthquakes, and probably a number of other things I’m forgetting right now. So you can assume I’m going to persist through this obstacle, too.

Do I wish things were easier right now? You’d better believe it.

But I’m glad I can still type. I’m glad that I can still play my saxophone, even if it’s not at the level I want, even if I don’t have solos anymore, even if for the most part I’ll probably never again be someone most people in the crowd think about when they go see a concert.

I’m doing what I can. I have to take comfort in that.

No matter how frustrating I find this situation to be, I will not give up.

I just have to pick and choose my spots for a while. That’s all.

——

**Note that I am still thinking about my stories. I have written down some prose notes. I have talked with other writers, and am doing what I can to re-read the works in progress, and keep going as best I can with my thought process overall. I know that my mind never stops working, so maybe being hindered will eventually produce some better, richer, deeper stories…one can only hope, right?

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 11, 2017 at 3:47 am

Housing End-Game

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Folks, I really didn’t want to write this blog. But things have gone sour, again…and my blogging is likely to be interrupted for a few days or weeks, so I figured I’d explain why.

As I said months ago, my housing situation went critical. I can’t fully explain this because it’s not my story to tell; all I can tell you is that I knew, at that time, I’d not have much longer where I was.

That was back in April, and I’m still in the same place. It was like being in limbo, and it certainly slowed up my creative efforts. But I have been warm, and safe, and with my dogs.

Now, the housing situation is about to be radically different. I will be put out of my home of the last five years within the next seven to ten days, as something called a “writ of assistance” has been requested. Once that’s executed, I will be put out of this situation, and am not sure what will happen afterward.

For a time, I know I will go to my father’s house. But long-term, that is likely to drive him and I both nuts. I won’t be able to bring the dogs, and that worries me greatly, because I don’t know what will happen to them — and they’re good dogs. They don’t deserve this uncertainty.

And that doesn’t resolve the rest of the situation, that I can’t explain, that I wish I could explain (except it’s not my story to tell, yada yada yada).

Over the past six months, I’ve had various friends ask me why I haven’t left already when things have been so up in the air. It has to do with caring about my family, and wanting to make sure they are safe and happy and well. I’ve also been worried about the dogs. One of my friends told me a long time ago she could take me, but not the dogs; another can take one dog, if need be, but she has cats. A third friend lives in Canada and I’d not be able to bring any of the dogs there, if I could somehow miraculously get to him…this is a big, fat, freakin’, unruly mess. (Insert string of profanity here, if you feel the need. I know I certainly do. I’m just too polite to subject you to it.)

And, if I’m honest, a lot of why I haven’t left has to do with CHANGING FACES. I’m so close to finishing up that novel — the revised and final version, after editing — and I just didn’t want to have to uproot my entire life as moves tend to do if I could somehow hang on until the novel was finished.

I am about three chapters, perhaps less, from the end. But I don’t know if I can finish up what I need under all this stress. I’m having a number of unusual stress reactions already, and I have to be careful, or I’ll land in the hospital and I’ll be even slower to finish things up…dammit all.

Anyway, all I know is that it is likely I will be put out in the next seven to ten days. I can’t get a hard date as to when I will definitely be put out. I have already moved some stuff to my father’s across town, and will be moving more in the upcoming days as I’m able, but I remain worried.

If for some reason you feel the need to help me, I do have a Paypal account. Type Barb and Caffrey together (as all one word, lowercase) AT Yahoo DOT com (take out the at and dot, of course), if you want to help at all with the frustrations and vexations of this move. Because in some ways, this couldn’t happen at a worse time…honestly.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 19, 2016 at 1:14 pm

Friday Inspiration: Overcoming Back Pain, and Other Obstacles

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Folks, for the past several weeks, I have been saying very little about what’s been going on with me and my health.

Why? Well, as you know, I am not able-bodied. But I can do many things, and I don’t want anyone to dwell on my disabilities. I’d rather talk about my abilities instead.

There are many people in this world worse off than I am. I can walk, albeit with a cane, and I can type, even though sometimes I have pain due to carpal tunnel syndrome.

I would rather overcome my obstacles than give in to them. However, sometimes I have to take time out for myself to rest and recuperate.

Or, in this case, to do back therapy, as my lower back is so inflamed, I can barely walk or move around.

Of course I’ve been taking more medicine, including the hated seven-day course of prednisone. to try to get my muscles to relax. I’ve also been doing the stretches prescribed by the physical therapists, and will be in physical therapy for another four or five weeks.

Why am I telling you all this? Because maybe someone out there needs to hear that you don’t have to give in to pain. You have to recognize it, and deal with it, but you don’t have to give in to it.

There’s something you hear a lot from professional athletes, who in the main deal with injuries far more than the general public. They say that when you’re recovering, you have to “stay within yourself.”

I’m not particularly good at this, but I’m learning.

If I stay within myself, I can get everything done that I need to do. That includes writing, editing, practicing for next week’s concert with the Racine Concert Band out at Park High School…all of that.

Yes, I’m going to pay in pain. But I can get it done.

So, for the moment, how I overcome obstacles is to pace myself. Do the stretches, and try to get my back to loosen up a little. Take more breaks. Eat well, and try to rest (which isn’t always easy with back pain, but I’m doing what I can). Use a heating pad, or take a long, hot shower a few times a day.

Whatever works.

And try to give myself a break, too. Because sometimes, being good to yourself is the hardest thing — especially when you want to be doing so much more than you are.

Still. For this week’s inspirational thought, I leave you with this:

Don’t let your obstacles overwhelm you. Find a way to circumvent them as much as possible. And live your life as best you can.

That is the winning strategy.

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 11, 2015 at 7:16 pm

My Writing Adventure Continues (Slowly)

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Just a quick update here, folks, as I’m in the process of trying to get a new story out to the Writers of the Future contest as their quarter ends at 11:59 PM PDT on 3/31/15 and my story is, at best, three-quarters finished.

Once that’s done, I hope to be able to blog about a few subjects near and dear to my heart, including baseball, my opposition to Indiana’s new “Religious Freedom and Restoration Act” which looks to me like anti-LGBT legislation (and thus needs to be either rescinded or amended, stat), and some discussion about words, their meanings, and whether or not some words should ever be off-limits (whether in baseball or in politics) because they’re considered overused, hackneyed, trite, and/or politically sensitive.

But for now, I’m alive, and I’m writing. Recovery is in process, and while it continues to be slow, I’ve been able to gain a little ground in regards to my final edit of A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE and with regards to this proposed story, which I fully intend to send to the WotF contest if I can only finish it…

Anyway, back to work.

Written by Barb Caffrey

March 31, 2015 at 12:36 am

Quick Update, November 2013 Style

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Folks, I haven’t had much time to write blogs or do much of anything this week aside from a spot of editing and a teensy bit of fiction writing.

There is, of course, a reason for that. Unfortunately, it’s the usual one: I’m under the weather. (Again.)

As I continue to fight for better health, I’m also continuing my fight to get the Racine Concert Band fully funded for 2014. And I do have news in that quarter — the RCB has been funded for next year, albeit at a much lesser level.

What this means is twofold: the RCB will continue. (Yay!) But the RCB will have eight performances rather than thirteen, one being the City of Racine July 4th Parade, and will become a summer band only. (Boo!)

I’m not sure what else I can do, if anything at all, to affect the outcome. But whatever I can do, I will.

Anyway, as for what I plan for the upcoming week — over at SBR, I plan to review one non-fiction book tomorrow, BATTLESHIP (about the horse, not the game), and will have an interview with author Stephanie Osborn up by the end of next week. And here at my blog, I plan to discuss the World Series (the good, the bad, and the really odd) along with a brief bit about Carlos Gomez winning the first Gold Glove for the Milwaukee Brewers since 1982. (Mind you, had Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin kept shortstop J.J. Hardy, we would’ve had two by now, as Hardy won in both 2012 and 2013 over in the American League.)

And, as always, if there’s anything that says to me, “Write about me right now,” I promise I’ll do just that.

For now, though, it’s back to some mint tea and soup (which is simmering in the stove even as I write this), in the hopes that by taking it easy I’ll be able to work up a storm tomorrow. (Here’s hoping.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 1, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Saturday Odds and Ends (May 2013)

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Folks, there’s a number of things to cover, but I have only a limited amount of time to cover ’em all.  So let’s get started with a shameless plug, shall we?

Since you already know about HOW BEER SAVED THE WORLD, please check it out.  I would really appreciate it.  (Links available in the prior post.)

Next, due to my health continuing to be problematic at best, I won’t be reviewing anything at Shiny Book Review this week.  I do hope to review two books by Karen Myers — good, solid fantasies about fox-hunting, dogs, and just a bit of the Wild Hunt for good measure — very soon.  I also have books by Ash Krafton and Chris Nuttall that I’ve read and am pondering, but am not quite ready to review . . . anyway, I plan to review these four books as soon as I can, starting with at least one book by Karen Myers next week over at SBR.  So please, stay tuned.

As for everything else . . . my favorite baseball team, the Milwaukee Brewers, lost a heartbreaker at home this afternoon to the St. Louis Cardinals, 7-6.  The Brewers had tied the game in the bottom of the 8th on a suicide squeeze, perfectly executed by Nori Aoki, so things looked as if the Brewers might actually be able to win against the Cardinals at home.  Unfortunately, when Brewers closer Jim Henderson entered in the top of the ninth, he ended up giving up a run partly because he didn’t hold his runners on base very well.  Had he done a bit better at that, the Brewers and Cardinals might still be in extras right now, tied with a score of 6-6, because Henderson pitched well aside from that.

A health update: I continue to have problems with what I’ve been told are “the remnants of bronchitis.”  Because I have asthma, these remnants continue to cause me to feel completely wiped out.  I’m able to concentrate better, providing I continue to rest much more than usual, and I have been able to resume work on a difficult edit in progress.  I’m also thinking about various stories and worked on one of them, albeit in prose notes form only (no dialogue, a couple of brief character sketches, and scene setting), earlier today.

So that’s progress, of a sort.  But it is slow.

I just have to remember that even incremental progress is still progress.  And that it’s important that I keep trying . . . as if I could ever forget.

Anyway, there were a number of other stories that caught my eye this week — Howard Kurtz getting fired from the Daily Beast due to a factual inaccuracy in an article Kurtz wrote about NBA basketball player Jason Collins (Kurtz said initially that Collins didn’t explain that he’d actually been engaged to a woman for eight years, which wasn’t true — in Collins’ first-person Sports Illustrated piece, Collins clearly says that he was engaged to a woman.  Kurtz’s newspaper made a correction later, saying that Collins had “downplayed” his engagement instead, which makes more sense, but apparently Kurtz himself did not make this correction.), Harper Lee suing to regain her own copyright for TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD due to what appears to be an unscrupulous agent giving her bad advice in order to profit himself, and, of all things, a second grade teacher in Colorado who taped the mouths of her twenty-eight students shut.  She’s currently on paid administrative leave as, apparently, doing this to her twenty-eight students is not considered a crime in Colorado.

I’d love to write about those three things — any, or better yet, all.  But right now is not the time, as I continue to have problems drawing a full breath.  As long as this condition persists, my energy level is just not going to be what it should no matter how strong my will is that wishes it otherwise.

At any rate, all I can do is to get up every day and try my best.  I’m doing that.

My hope is that I’ll be able to feel better soon and do much more of what I’m accustomed to doing — writing, editing, and playing music (I can’t do the last at all, and it’ll probably be at least a few more weeks before I can even make an attempt, considering) — rather than how I feel right now: more than a tad guilty for leaving three juicy blog subjects on the cutting room floor, all because my health just won’t allow me to do them justice right now.

Written by Barb Caffrey

May 4, 2013 at 9:17 pm

Still Really Sick

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Folks, if I knew what was going on for sure, I’d have put a stop to all this coughing, wheezing, and sneezing weeks ago.

Seriously.

I’ve counted up how long I’ve been sick and it’s been at least five weeks.  I have been to the doctor twice in that time (Prompt Care; all I can access and afford).  Once I was given antibiotics; the second time I was given prednisone, mostly because I have been on antibiotics five times since late October and the doctor was afraid the antibiotics were not helping.

As a woodwind musician, I have better lung capacity than most.  And I found out years ago that it is possible for me to have a bad bronchitis or even pneumonia and have it not sound nearly as bad as it is due to my extra lung capacity.

I wonder if this is why I keep staying sick and nothing seems to improve.

I am going to have to go back to the doctor again in the next few days, and I will do it.  I’m not looking forward to it, mostly because I know I have limited energy and I hate wasting my time on things that are intensely frustrating (like the doctors telling me I’ve already had five courses of antibiotics since October, so this can’t possibly be an infection).**  But I don’t see a choice; I’m going to have to go, and I’m going to have to insist that they do a chest X-ray if I continue to cough like this for another twenty-four hours.

This is why my editing (paying work) remains way behind and I have absolutely no idea when it can be finished — something that’s never before happened, even when I’ve been extremely sick.  But usually, within three to four weeks, I’ll start to have a bit of physical energy, stop coughing, my sinuses will drain and then I’ve been able to get caught up again.

Not this time, I fear.

Those of you who pray, I’d appreciate some support right now.  And for those of you who don’t, please wish me well, send positive energy if you have any, or even send along your best home remedies for nasty coughs that don’t go away.  (Maybe it’ll help, and it certainly can’t hurt.)

———–

** Note: The doctor I saw last week had no doubt I was sick.  He just didn’t think this was an infection, and I didn’t present in a way that was symptomatic for pneumonia.  But I’m wondering if, because of the one time I actually was diagnosed and how many times I had to go back (three) before I got a chest X-ray and thus a diagnosis, I just don’t present in the usual and expected way due to being a woodwind musician since the age of ten or eleven.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 14, 2013 at 1:07 pm