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Saturday, February 06, 2021

What's Goin' On?

"Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings." ~Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

     I do apologize to loved ones, friends, and followers for allowing four months to lapse since I last posted. There was so little to post about and I had adopted a siege mentality that made me feel as though my life was stuck in amber like an insect. A few things have changed: the Biden/Harris win is restoring a thin veneer of civility to America--at least out here in the Pacific Northwest. I noticed the day after the election results were verified, people out and about at the grocery store seemed friendlier and more willing to allow a smile to travel above their masks, to their eyes. The continuing support for Trump and the very real split in the U.S. Senate between actual conservative Republicans and Trump sycophants indicates the wheels have come off their vehicle and a fight for the heart and soul of the GOP (Grand Old Party) is occurring. In Arizona--a heavily Republican State where a lot of the Trump crazies live--7400 registered Republicans have left the party and registered with the Democrats. In Oregon--a State with a majority of conservative Republican towns, with Portland and Eugene functioning as liberal islands in a conservative majority landscape, 10,000 registered Republicans have left the party. Below is a timely interview with retired Republican Senator Danforth about this issue. 
     I've come through the darkest months literally and figuratively for me anyway, stretching from November 30th to January 31st. I've made it through one more anniversary of  Les' death and the days are growing discernably longer again. Seed and plant catalogs are arriving in the mail box--harbingers of spring and summer ahead. We've signed a fourteen month lease on this apartment so I feel now as though I can truly unpack, hang some art and pictures, and make myself comfortable. I will post pictures when it is all unpacked and sorted out. 
    I try not to think about the Pandemic since I cannot change anything. Of the four of us--my daughter Shiery, my daughter-in-law Kelli, my foster daughter Mary, and me--only Mary has no medical conditions precluding her from getting the vaccine. Shiery, Kelli and I all have multiple auto-immune diseases so we continue to take careful precautions. Mary found an Etsy site (Elimstation) that sells the best masks we've found yet: three layers of fabric with a pocket for a disposable filter; comfortable, covers my chin and lower face, has a thin adjustable nose wire, adjustable ear loops, and each mask comes with one disposable filter. There are 56 different cloth patterns and child sized masks as well. These are the first masks I can talk in, breathe in without fogging up my glasses. The three layers and disposable filters (a pack of 10 can be purchased from the same Etsy shop) make me feel far better about going out in public. 

     The BBC online included a piece about the Covid-19 virus and its main host while undergoing mutations. Apparently the virus has taken up residence in the bodies of immunosuppressed individuals on Steroids and Chemo drugs for Auto immune diseases, where it makes them desperately ill for many months due to their pharmaceutically suppressed immune systems. Without an immune system to mount a defense against it, the virus utilizes the host body as a lab, replicating itself while trying out different mutations, before killing its host and spreading on to others. There are 89 known auto immune diseases and they are all treated the same--with massive doses of steroids and usually a chemotherapeutic drug to shut down the patients' immune systems. Not good...and one more reason why both my daughter and I refuse to be treated with the standard immunosuppressive drugs for our auto-immune diseases. 
     Personally I have just experienced another apparent sign post of aging. It occurred a week ago Sunday. It had been a long day of shifting the furniture around in my bedroom, installing lights on my new headboard, taping wiring up in the back so my cat Biscuit cannot reach it to chew on, installing a curtain rod and hanging room darkening curtains, etc. At 8:30 pm suddenly a large, dark floater appeared in the vision of my right eye. It was quite large and looked like a black swirl of ink might look if dropped into a white cup full of water. I noticed a half hour later in my darkened room, flashing lights at the peripheral of my vision in my right eye, like a strobe light. Shiery has worked in health care for over twenty five years. She checked my pupils and received a normal response. I took an aspirin just in case I was having a stroke of some kind and we decided to sleep on things overnight. 
     The next day the strobe light effect was still occurring but the floater had diminished in opacity and size, now shaped like a dark ring with a clear center, known as a Weiss Ring. I also had pain radiating our from my eye socket that was gradually growing worse. Shiery called the Advice Nurse at the hospital and she recommended we come into the ER so off we went. Shiery knows all the local hospitals so she chose one that is not a major trauma center and there were only two people in the waiting room when we arrived-- a mother and her four  year old daughter. We of course were wearing masks, and there was an attendant sitting behind plexiglass in the waiting room, checking temperatures of  those accompanying patients, and wiping down the furniture after someone left the area. Nevertheless, as soon as the attendant went to lunch, the young mother pulled her mask below her nose and her child had no mask on at all and was sneezing and coughing all over the bloody place. I could see droplets of saliva fly out of her mouth which pissed us off. People apparently do not teach their children civil manners anymore, such as covering one's mouth when sneezing or coughing. We were ushered into a small room off the waiting area and a triage nurse wrote down all the relevant information.  She wore a double vented heavy duty mask, clear plastic eye protectors and a shield. I said, "I bet you never thought you would see the day when you had to gear up like a welder to come into work." We laughed grimly...back to the waiting area and finally we were ushered through a door and in to an ER room.       
     Thank the Goddess it was a room with four walls and a door and not a giant bay with six flimsy curtains separating the beds and patients. The mom and child were installed in the room next door. At one point Shiery was out in the hallway and she overheard a doctor diagnosing the child with Covid-19.
    The pain in my orbital socket grew more intense. Finally the lovely Dr. Shah arrived to examine me, and she patiently gave me detailed information after several tests which determined I do not have Diabetes or Glaucoma. My retina appeared to be in one piece so she referred me to the Northwest Eye Health Center which is located across the street from this hospital and requested that I call their office first thing in the morning for an immediate appointment with an ophthalmologist. 
     The appointment the next day with Dr. Bengtzen resulted in an eye exam for new glasses, and several diagnoses. I had something termed PVD, Posterior Vitreous Detachment. As one ages, the gel inside the vitreous sack attached to the orbital socket and retina shrinks and tears away from both the socket and the retina. This can cause retinal tearing or detachment. My retina was okay--for now. Every time the sack of vitreous gel tears away it causes the strobe-light flashing. The dark floater in the shape of a Weiss Ring was caused by the glue adhering the sack to my retina pulling away. Dr. Bengtzen was surprised that I felt any pain. 99% of people feel nothing. During my intake he noted I have an auto-immune disease called Sarcoidosis which can cause the immune system to attack--among other soft tissues--the eyes. The Doctor was quite surprised to meet a sixty four year old who was not taking any medications at all. He asked what I took for the Sarcoidosis and I replied, "twenty-one milligrams of Melatonin daily." It does not cure Sarcoidosis but it does stop it from progressing without any negative side effects. He confirmed no Glaucoma, and no scarring from Sarcoidosis but indicated I have the start of cataracts--too small to worry about right now and caused by the aging process. 
     Finally Dr. Bengtzen shared with me that I have a genetic anomaly called Map Dot Fingerprint Corneal Dystrophy. It means my corneas are fragile and easily scratched, even by my own eyelid or something as innocuous as an errant lash. 
     That's all the news that is fit to print for now. Next time, a post all about Biscuit, my little black cat!


Nev Wells said...

Hi Jaq, you are often in my thoughts and I'm glad you are ok'ish from this recent scary episode. The canals miss you but you are with your family so maybe the best place. As my wife's aunt in the US often says 'age does not come on its own...' Take care

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Nev,

I think about you and and your family, and others on the cut whom I've grown close to, and hope and pray all are staying well and safe through this pandemic.

I certainly miss the canals and the people, and dear Britain.

I am doing my best to weather things as philosophically as possible.

Love and hugs to you and yours,

Jaq xxx

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs