Days 2015

Days 2015

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

How to get Really Soft Fingertips

I am looking down at my hands and notice that all my fingertips are completely young and healthy looking.  No cracks or snaggy skin or calluses.  I don't think they've looked this good since high school.  I also told Mark today that I don't think I've had this long of a "break-up with make-up" since maybe I was a kid.  What's the secret?  Lie around in bed all day and let other people do all the work. 

This has been one crazy adventure that we are hoping is about over.  I think that Heavenly Father knows that for me to deal with the tough stuff it has to make a story and that it is way better if it's something I can laugh about later.  Well, here's the story.

Almost two weeks ago I was picking up Macy from her basketball clinic (the one we forgot to make sure she had sneakers for.)  It was dark in the parking lot and I misjudged my distance from the car door as I was slamming it.  It caught my kneecap pretty good and I yelled but then forgot all about it.  The next morning it was swollen and hurt to walk, so Mark took me to the Instacare to make sure nothing was dislocated or torn.  They said structurally it was fine, gave me some pain medicine and an anti-inflammatory and told me I'd feel better in 3-4 days. 

It kept swelling and hurting but I thought, no big deal, I've sprained my ankle a time or two and this is what it feels like.  I borrowed crutches, went to church Sunday and propped up my leg.  That night I was talking to my folks on the phone and they asked me how my knee was looking.  I huffed with exasperation and said, "Well, it looks all swollen and red." 

"Red!" They both said.  "It's not supposed to be red!"  Dad has had a
Sunday night, 3 days after banging it.
lot of knee problems and told me that sometimes knees get infected even if there is no flesh wound.  I didn't really believe them so I called my sister the nurse and sent her a picture.

She said that yeah, it was kind of weird and that I probably needed to go back in.  So Monday morning, we went to a regular clinic that had an orthopedic doctor.  The doctor who saw me kept asking questions and finally said, "The problem I see does not fit with the injury you are describing."  (I felt a little like my integrity was being insulted.)  He ordered some blood tests and I knew it was serious when the ladies there in the lab were like, "Hmm.  We haven't done this one for a while.  Let me ask so & so," etc.  The doctor said it was probably cellulitis--which I am unfamiliar with--and gave me an antibiotic and a stronger anti-inflammatory.  He also said that I needed to keep it rigid straight to keep the infection from spreading and wrapped me and gave me a knee brace.  He said to come back Wednesday to check the progress and go over my lab results.

Did I mention that all this time I was in pretty awful pain, Friday on?  Sleeping very little, zero appetite (which most likely had something to do with the meds) and making comparisons to child labor pains?  The Bryan Regan ER bit about "Say 8!  Say 8!" (rating your pain) was flung around a few times.

Tuesday morning we started to get scared.  (Actually Mark said he was up in the night about those lab tests--they were checking for leukemia and all kinds of fun stuff.)  The red had spread--quite a bit.  I kept thinking of, "If you see infection racing toward your heart..."  We called the doc back and he said our lab results were back early so come in early. 

As we went to back to the exam room, Mark cracked a joke to the nurse about amputating and she didn't even smile.  The doc sat down and I said with a grin, "Well, is it flesh eating bacteria?"

"I cannot entirely rule out flesh-eating bacteria."  (This doctor is a bit straight-laced.)  He did tell me, however, that my white cell counts were way up and that they were not nearly high enough to indicate something like leukemia (he also said I did not have rheumatic fever, gout, and maybe a couple of other things I've never heard of) but they were high enough to let us know that this infection was much more serious than we first thought.  He saw my new red leg, "Well, that is just impressive!"  After consulting with the ortho doctor, they decided to try one more kind of antibiotic and see me the next day.  He drew a line around the infection so they could track it.  I kept thinking of that episode of Little House on the Prairie when Ma is home alone and hurts her foot and almost self-amputates when she reads the bible verse about "If thy right hand offend thee..."
Cellulits, Tuesday afternoon.

The next morning it was not better and had in fact spread and darkened.  Mark drew a new green marker line around it (didn't get a pic of that one).  The docs looked at it again and sent us right to the hospital in Payson, which has actually been really nice because it is very not crowded and easy to park at.  The doctors there hooked me up to an IV that delivers a certain kind of medicine, vancomycin, which is the only thing that beats this kind of staph infection (MRSA).  It drips for an hour or two and then I go home and come back in to the ER every 12 hours.  For 3-5 days at the least.  (it will probably end up being 10-11 days for me).

At its height, the infection got all the way to my ankle and about 4 inches from my hip.  And still no wound!  CRAZY stuff.  I had no idea there was such a thing.  It hurts to stand for more than a minute or so although that is getting better. 

A doctor yesterday reminded us that, yeah, lots of people complain about getting old--without thinking of the alternative!  We laughed and I am very grateful to be getting older.  Pretty scary.

My favorite moment of this whole mess though, was on Friday.  We'd had a terrible night's sleep, and as we were bundling up at 5 AM I looked over at Mark and he was white as a sheet.  I wouldn't let him drive until his face pinked up a bit and he insisted he was ok.  Once we got to the ER he grabbed a barf bag and huddled in the chair through the whole treatment.  I was actually starting to feel much better by now since they had taken me off of the oral meds that were making me feel so sick, and I was excited that two of my friends were coming over that day to take care of me and Luke.  Mark stayed in bed all day.  Once my friends had left, I came in to check on him.  He hadn't needed the barf bag but was running a fever.  I just laughed and was kind of worn out so I crawled into bed with him. 

We called our Home Teachers to come over and give Mark a blessing.  He simply could not be sick.  They walked into our room and we were both lying there looking like death warmed over and their faces...I just will never forget the looks on their faces.  Shock and awe, baby.  They just kept shaking their heads.  The Little House on the Prairie metaphor keeps sticking with me and I described the whole scene later as, "It was just like we were Ma and Pa sick in the wagon bed with malaria and the wild Indians (our happy, rowdy kids running the rest of the house) were circling the wagons with their war paint on."

A few thoughts I have had as I lay here on my back, softening up my fingertips.

1.  I want to serve others WAY more.  Yesterday I made up a list to show the kids all the service that has been done for our family in the last two weeks.  Babysitting (it is really not safe for me to babysit a toddler while on crutches!), meals, goodies, cleaning, rides to the ER, rides for my kids, shoveling snow, videoing Cooper at the spelling bee, filling in for meetings and responsibilities, etc.  It filled up the paper and brought me to tears!  I am excited to start paying it forward and also will cherish the close feelings that come from being served.  So, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!  You know who you are.  It has been extra cute to hear Luke talking about all "the 2nd mamas".   As in, "the 2nd Mama gave me a sandwich", "the 2nd Mama said,..."

2.  Moms should be thankful that they have legs.  Every minute of every day.  Walking, carrying, picking up, kneeling, standing to cook, driving, getting dolled up.  It is pretty tough to do what I need to do from my bed.  Although we've had a little fun with that... On Saturday as I made up the job lists I told Macy she had the toughest one:  being my nurse for the day.  I thought it would be fun to train her a little with some CNA skills... She did great being at my beck and call all day long.

3.  It's super important to laugh about things when you can.  It just is.  As the great Marjorie Hinckley once said, "You can either laugh about things or cry.  Crying gives me a headache!"  We have had a lot of laughs this week over the sheer absurdity of it all, also with how cute our kids are.  Luke keeps calling my crutches "crushes".  They have also loved the barf bags Mark brought home from the hospital.
It has been very difficult to keep the kids from playing with the crutches.

I bet Rocky trains with these.
4.  I just feel so blessed.  I get to get old.  My leg should go back to normal without any long-term damage that I need to worry about.  I also feel like the Lord set us up well for this one, like He always does.  We had just spent the last two months bed shopping and finally settled on just the right one--but in the process got stuck with an adjustable power base that we can't return.  We've been trying to sell it with no takers.  Why would we need something that lifts the feet, lifts the head, etc.?  It has been great!  I also barely bought brand new beautiful pinstripe flannel sheets and a new fleecey red paisley blanket bedspread.  And guess what I asked for for Christmas, out of the blue?  A floor-length bathrobe.  Boy has that ever been a lifesaver as we bundle me in and out of the backseat at the crack of dawn in a foot of snow and as I wait in the ER or in my hospital room while they bring me a blanket.  I also felt really strongly when we moved here that I wanted to organize a babysitting co-op like the one I participated in in our previous neighborhood.  Little did I know I'd be the one desperately needing it!
Also, January is just a plain boring time of year.  I am happy this didn't happen when we could have been hiking, biking, camping, playing.  Might as well take it easy with some books and a drawer full of chocolate, right?

So, the docs are saying I probably will be coming to the ER through the weekend.  I am in much less pain, practically none unless I am standing on it, which still burns pretty bad.  Here is the last hairy leg picture I will be posting publicly.  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Opening presents

I let writing about Christmas slip away from me.  Here are some highlights..

Who knew that out of the three wonderful family weddings we went to in a month's span,(sis-in-law DeAnn, niece Janika, nephew Spencer) this will probably be the sweethearts photo I keep on my fridge.

When we walked through Toys R Us, of all the toys, Macy was most excited about a $3 pack of sticker earrings.

I neglected to mention in my last post that one of Mark's frustrations during the Great Christmas Tree Hunt was that, since he has lost some weight, his snowpants kept falling down around his knees and he was hiking around having to hold his pants up.

Macy kept getting mixed up and calling her new bathrobe from grandma her "Bathing Suit".
 I will interrupt the flow here and write something she said last month I thought was rather clever.  You know how we have two dishwashers so we name them to keep them straight?  Cosmo and LaVell?  Well, we were having pancakes one day and Macy said, "Mom, can we name our griddle?" I lift an eyebrow.  "I know just what to call it:  Hansel!"

This was probably my favorite Christmas moment.  Cooper had asked for a BYU jersey for Christmas.  I ran out of time to go up on campus but they had some at KMart.  They were all the same number.   I fingered it, thinking, well, I hope this is a good one, and bought it.  Cooper ripped it open, pulled it out of the box and in the same instant yelled in all-caps, all-one-word, "NUMBERTWENTYONEJAMALWILLIAMMMMS!"  Incidentally, he has started baskedball and chose generic jersey number three.  I said, "Hey Cooper, who's number 3?  He looked a little sheephish, "Tyler Haws!"
Grandma and Grandpa Day came to watch us.  When they arrived, Macy went running to her room to fetch a "really good present" for Grandma.  It was a plastic treasure box with Macy's latest missing tooth in it.  (The kids get $5 from Grandpa and Grandma if they let them put it under their pillow instead.  The tooth fairy gives grandparents $10 and they split it, so it really was a pretty good gift.)
This was the last gift they opened.  I was a super nice mom and let it stay upstairs in front of my kitchen bar for a week.  It got a lot of mileage.  Now it's down in the basement watching Mark finish the walls around it.

New Years Eve was very fun.  I was the only one awake 10-12 and spent the time writing a long letter to my niece Kelsey who is on a mission to South Carolina.  (Her mom was one of the ones who got married.)  I'll include my description of it to her here.

"As a matter of fact, tonight is the commemoration of one of the most romantic days of my life. [we got engaged New Years eve] It’s New Year’s Eve.  I am staying up until midnight writing this because a. no one is interrupting me and b. Leslie is at the Stake Dance and someone needs to pick her up.  Mark was going to do it but I made him go to bed with a dose of Nyquil—he’s got a cold.  We had a great evening eating lots of fun fingerfoods and watching a double feature of a couple of fun nostalgic movies we wanted to show the kids that we rented from Amazon.  Cary Grant, etc.  The kids were spread out on the floor in sleeping bags and had a great time.  For dessert I made my first batch of authentic Crème Brulee. (For Christmas Mark got me ramekins and a real kitchen torch to carmelize the sugar on top.) Can I just say, I don’t get paid enough.  They were A-MA-ZING."

Luke got to wear his spiffy new church clothes on his first day of "Sunbeams"--the children's Sunday school class he will now be attending.  And yes, we did eat our family's traditional Sunbeam Chocolate Cake.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Hunt, 2015

I don't do Black Friday.  To me there is no more deeply visceral feeling of absolute misery than to be out in the cold and dark early on a winter morning.  (I think this has something to do with early morning seminary in Montana while at the same time as being a die-hard night owl.)  Seeing your breath when you should be seeing the insides of your eyelids, under the covers.  Brrrrr.  I do not fathom how my Dad can handle getting up multiple times in the night in the coldest part of February to check on his new baby calvies all these years.  That gene skipped me (and I don't even stay up late anymore!)  I admit, I do not get up with my teenager to bond with her before she catches the bus.  Perhaps this will change someday, but for now, an "I love you" when she comes to my room to fetch her phone is about it.  Bad mom.

But wait...I did do something pretty awesome this year to be the kind of mom I want to be.

Last year I coveted something that was my neighbor's.  It was a Christmas tree, fresh from The Wild.  Instead of continuing to envy, I quizzed her about it, took notes, and contacted her again this fall.  She helped me navigate the Utah world of Christmas tree hunting.  We always cut our own tree in Montana growing up and it was no big deal, but we've never done it here so my kids have never had that experience.  Time for mom to step it up.  Which leads me back to the Black Friday thing.

This is what I was doing at 7:30 AM in NEPHI, UTAH, (not even my same county) mid November, at a hardware store of all places.  AND I had to drive through a blizzard to get there!  Mark said he was super stressed the whole time I was gone and wished he had just done it himself.  I thought it was no big deal (other than the waking up early to go be in the cold and dark) having been raised in such conditions, and I even turned on the Christmas music channel even though I am usually super opposed to that kind of jumping-the-gun before Thanksgiving.
There were hundreds of people standing in line, and we were informed that the tree permits would definitely sell out.    Lucky for me, I was somewhere in the middle of the line and came away with my prize for the morning.

Then the waiting began.  First we had to get through Thanksgiving, which was very nice and particularly festive because we are welcoming three new in-laws to the Day family this season and we got to get to know them a little better.  All of Mark's siblings were there.
From top:  Mark, DeAnn, Kathy, Dwight, Frances, Sharon, Paul

We also had fun attending a double bridal shower for my niece and soon-to-be niece-in-law.  Leslie was in charge of a game where we quizzed the grooms and then had the bride's guess their fiance's answer.  If they got it wrong they had to put a big fat piece of gum in their mouth.  To add to the fun, we also quizzed Grandpa Day and had Grandma answer.  She sort of flunked.  They all did at some point, it was pretty funny.
Janika learned that Nathan's favorite food is homemade bread.
Stephanie was a little downcast when Spencer remembered the topic of their first fight--and she didn't think they'd had one;)
Grandpa's answer to several of the questions was "Ice Cream!"  But ask him what he wants on a dessert island?  A blanket.  Open wide, Frances!
Their jaws were starting to hurt, although Janika managed to blow a bubble.
Christmas crept closer.
We hung the stockings on our fencepost and made lots and lots of goodies.  This year Leslie did the dreamsicle fudge and Boston did the raspberry shortbread bars.  Everyone helped wrap the carmels.
Then, it was time for the Great Hunt.  Our tags were good for certain sections of the Manti-LaSalle National forest.  Luckily there was one acceptable area not too far from our home, so one beautiful Saturday morning we piled into the Dodge Yak.

That was our first mistake.
 As you can see, there was much more snow than I was anticipating (although we did have the foresight to bring the sleds), and we do not have snow tires or 4-wheel drive.  Duh.  In this picture the van is parked at the bottom of a long hill.  That we backed down very carefully after sliding down and subsequently getting high centered just past the left side of the photo there.

We were stuck for a good 45 minutes and didn't see another single vehicle--our second mistake was that we didn't come with someone else.  We tried putting branches and gravel under the wheels, going back and forth and sideways, etc., while the kids sledded on the side of the road.  Finally I volunteered to hike up the mountain to see if I could get cell coverage and Mark continued to work on the problem.  He was to honk at me if he got unstuck.  A few minutes later, as he found himself down on his knees digging under the van, it occurred to him that since he was on his knees the same time I was on top of the hill, having found zero cell coverage, and was offering a prayer of my own.  I said "Amen" and the horn honked.  He had simply climbed back into the van and backed out of our position without incident.

After finding a better landing place, we split up into teams (3rd mistake) and went looking for the perfect tree.  I wanted a nine-footer for sure.  Macy and Boston came with me, and our 4th mistake was that I underestimated how difficult it was to even locate a fir tree, let alone an evenly branched out 9-footer.  Most of the trees were those raggedy brush cedars.  After hiking for quite a while I found one I thought would work just fine, and, as agreed, we started yodeling for the other team to come quick.  No answer.  More yelling, no answer.  We had gone too far to hear each other and were on opposite sides of the hill.  Hoping desperately that Mark wasn't also about to saw down "the perfect tree", I sent Macy and Boss back down the hill to honk the van horn. 

I had the hatchet...

Twenty minutes later I had felled that tree and hauled it a good way down the hill, all by myself.  (A feat of which I am inordinately proud.)  Mark found me (luckily, we had left lots of tracks because he said the kids were pretty clueless about where they were leading him) and we got the tree loaded.  Apparently their team hadn't fared as well because Luke insisted on coming instead of staying in the van with Leslie.  He didn't last long going up the hill and had been howling his guts out for the last half hour, with all of them waiting for us back at the van.

I hadn't heard a thing.  Too busy chopping down trees and such.

 So, mistake number 5 was not bringing a Granny Goodwitch to sit in the car with the little ones passing out Cheese Whiz and crackers.  Missed you Grandma!  I did manage to figure out that Luke was screaming because his boots and ankles were full of snow, and I also hooked up the DVD player that the others had forgotten about to get him to stop crying.  I won't be quitting my day job anytime soon.
 We did remember to pack hot chocolate!  Although mistake number 6 was that we hadn't checked if the cocoa mix had expired.  It was pretty nasty, plus it was too hot so we watered it down with snow, making it both stale AND flavorless.
 It really was a beautiful, very warm day, and the kids had a blast playing in so much snow.

 The way home wasn't so great because we had to go relatively slow on a pretty fast highway with lots of semi-trucks that wanted to pass us.  Mark pulled over to let them pass a few times.  I may have suggested with a contented, cocoa warmed smile that when we do this again we probably need to use a truck so that we can just throw the tree in the back.  Mark said nothing until we pulled into the driveway.

"Never.  Again."

I had him softened up though, once we decided to ditch the traditional tree holder that has frankly never worked well and use a 5-gallon bucket full of rocks instead.  I am sure he was horrified, but his tune changed really fast when it only took us about ten minutes to get the tree straight instead of an hour of near-cursing and snapping at his wife (er, the tree).  We didn't even have to use fishing line to nail it to the wall this year!!  Plus, he had forgotten that I was going to put a tree skirt over our white-trash bucket.  It really looked quite nice, and I kept the tree alive clear until Christmas for the first time in like, our whole marriage, with that much water capacity and that degree of freshness!  I think I heard my vacuum say thank you, mistress.
I also remembered not to showcase his bald spot in the "Putting the angel on the tree" pictures like he usually points out, after the fact.  He says those are his least favorite pictures every year when he looks back through the albums.

After all that work I let him have the place of honor while we decorated the tree.  I seem to remember my Dad claiming this selfsame position after lots of swearing at the tree...although possibly in a different room.  In front of the television.  Although he had usually been the one to chainsaw down the tree and carry it down the mountain.  OH wait...