Coronavirus: When You’re One of the “Only”

I am probably in the bottom 30% of people qualified to talk about the coronavirus COVID-19, but there are 2 reasons why I’m doing it today. One—many people in my audience are medically vulnerable, and two—I’m just an hour’s drive north of the epicenter of coronavirus deaths in Washington State. I have a much funner topic I’d rather write about (stay tuned for next week!) but I feel my audience craves messages of acknowledgment and support right now.


When to Stop Fighting and Ease Up

Wow. Last week I was so tired, so foggy, that I started my Easy ButtonTM post and never got to the point I meant to make with it.

Where I fell off the edge with my story was, I went to see my Nurse Practitioner a while back for my 6-month bloodwork (you get that when you’ve had a major, near-fatal trauma, to make sure your bashed-in organs are still functioning as they should). My test revealed “subclinical hypothyroid.” This means my reading was low normal, but I had the elevated cholesterol pattern associated with hypothyroid, and several other symptoms that made her want to start me on medication.


Time to Hit the Easy Button

Some marketing exec for Staples has joined the 1 percent for thinking up the Easy ButtonTM ad campaign, I’m sure. That concept was absorbed instantly into popular culture.

My blog was due Wednesday and I started two topics that fizzled out before the fuse reached the detonator. I thought, “I need to hit the Easy ButtonTM this week.” Which isn’t quite as lazy as you might think—I’ve been noodling on this topic for weeks, because I’ve become aware of my own Easy ButtonsTM lately.


Sidelined: When Your Health Issue Calls Time Out

Just my luck (or my body's dramatic response to wide swings in air pressure). Western Washington, where I live, has been under an iron curtain of rain and gloom for about a solid month. During this time we had a 6-day snowstorm and not one, but two “Pineapple Express” rainstorms, which are known for dumping huge quantities of water in a short time and causing flooding. Indeed, a flood emergency was declared for our state a week ago.

So when Monday dawned clear, sunny, and warm, I was excited to get a bike day. So excited that I ignored the shimmery vision, slight nausea, and sinus headache that heralded a full-blown migraine on the way. Even when I bent over to pick up the cat dishes and floor rushed up at my face, I thought, “it’s just a little morning vertigo; it will clear.” Never mind that the only time I have vertigo is when a migraine is starting.


Stability as a Coping Tool

One morning last fall, I left the house to go do an interview for a freelance reporting job. I work from home, so it’s unusual for me to be dressed in street clothes and leaving at 8:00 AM. My neighbors, Steve and Paul, who were building a shed in my yard, were surprised to see me dressed like an adult and moving purposefully that early in the morning. I explained that I was on my way to interview a prominent local veterinarian. Steve grinned knowingly and said, “You’re stabilizing.”

Steve is involved with orgs that help people transition from homelessness and poverty. I didn’t think a lot of his remark until last week, when I went to pick my glasses up after having them repaired. The office manager and frame fitter, Linde, had a tragedy in her life a few years ago when her husband fell from the deck of their summer cabin and fractured his spine. Unlike me, he did sever his spinal cord and he’s a paraplegic. He also had a traumatic brain injury, and it was rough going for the first year. The trajectory of their life as a couple changed dramatically.


Ableism in Animal Rescue: A Story

My dear friend Morgan* lost her very elderly dog not long ago. She raised him from a puppy and it was a hard loss. Last month Morgan made the brave choice to open her heart to another dog. She wanted to rescue an adult dog, because after losing a senior dog, it can be hard to adjust to puppy energy. And Morgan wanted to rescue a dog who needed her too.

Morgan lives in an area with large towns spaced about 45 miles apart, and no big cities nearby. The animal shelters in her region are small, and most are run by private rescue groups not affiliated with an SPCA or Humane Society. Morgan took to the internet, where it’s easy to see all the dogs available for adoption at the various rescue agencies. She had a good feeling about one dog she saw at a small private rescue agency about 200 miles away. She emailed the agency and introduced herself.


When it Comes Down to Winter Survival

Even though I took my birthday week off, I’m coming back with a self-indulgent theme; the winter storm I just weathered in my tiny house, with pain, limitations and all. This is something that will touch most of us at some time or another—survival skills in storms and natural disasters.

Some of us live in very sheltered conditions out of necessity or privilege. My budget limits my choices, and I chose a rugged lifestyle over the other options available. I would easily qualify for a housing subsidy, but I’d have to live in a complex. I went with a tiny house on wheels so I could enjoy privacy and pleasant surroundings, and be able to move elsewhere if my space stopped offering those things. Quiet, and a level of control over the sound profile in my environment, are critical for my health. I could not have that in subsidized housing. Even the low-end condominium I left last year was noisy enough to keep me constantly stressed.


Managing Rare Conditions in the ER

This post was inspired by the pitfalls of modern life—I misread an article because I speed-read it. I thought it would make a great blog topic, but when I went back to get information from it at a proper scholarly pace, I realized I had it all wrong. Then I thought, “But what if I’d had it right? I bet that’s a real concern for my audience.”

The deal is, a woman at St. Charles Hospital in Bend died in the ER because her adrenal crisis was misdiagnosed Which is a terrible thing, made even worse by the fact that her life could have been saved with a dose of an inexpensive corticosteroid.

Now, when I first saw the article, I thought the woman knew what was happening and had been unable to convince the ER doctor of it. When I realized my mistake, I remembered the research I did on dysautonomia, and how many people had doctors who didn’t believe them.


Holidays II: The Sacred Nap

Napping made The Week magazine’s list of Things They Said Were Good For Us in 2019. It was number one, not that they were ranked, but the fact that they mentioned it first is not for nothing.

For regular, healthy people, napping for at least 5 minutes twice a week or more is beneficial for heart health. They don’t know why, but a study of over 3,000 adults showed that people who nap are less likely to have heart attacks (The Week, December 27, 2019, v19:956-957).


Holiday Parties with Special Needs

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I’m getting ready to go to my annual holiday party with a cosplay group I belong to. We celebrate my town’s historic brothel district by dressing as Victorian-era madams and we show up in the town’s historical district for the local festivals, especially Dirty Dan Days, which celebrates our founder. He was a robust customer of the local sporting houses.

Before I got hit, the party was no big deal. In the 9 years since, it’s been an annual labor of love. Half fun, half ordeal.