Archive for the 'health' Category

SOUTHWARD HO! AGAIN!

The pickins in the Oregon economy right after our return from Alaska

were dreary at best. I picked moss and sold it, shaved chittum trees

of their bark and sold that and I even packed said items into the side

basket of my old schwinn bike and cycled on my own power to the

local merchant to sell them. In case you are unaware, chittum bark

is what they make laxatives from. The bark back then sold for .32

per pound. Since we needed firewood anyway, and there did seem

to be a need for the um, end product in this country, I was able to soothe my conscience

over stripping these trees of their bark along with cutting them down and I went

about my merry but trail blazing way. I even picked up our goat milk on my bike,

fed the kids on brown rice, wild black berries and government commodities.

Our oldest daughter took the two little ones down to the river to catch crawfish

about twice a week and arriving home from the woods we would feast on a poor

mans miniature lobster dinner, with dandelion greens and taters dug from the neighbors

garden. But my apartment over the shop was too small, (boy did I have alot to learn).

We only had one vehicle that ran sometimes. It rained and rained and rained in the

winter. I had grown up with a steady pay check and we had never known the uncertainty

of not knowing weather there was going to be a paycheck or not. I had always worked

but now I had babies and I did not want to have someone else to raising them.

Hubby with all his multitude of talents and education could only find a job driving school

buses. The economy was really bad. And we both had student loans to pay off.

Needless to say, after dealing with students who shot spit wads,

toted hand guns, and cleaned their fingernails with machetes while riding

the bus, we decided it was time to move where he might find a more lucrative position.

About this time a friend from California called and offered Hubby a job at

the then outstanding wage of $10 per hour! Dollar signs clicked and rolled

over and over in our eyeballs. Though we didn’t move to Beverely Hills, we

did immediately pack our bags and embark on another grand adventure.

A BUILDING BY ANY OTHER NAME

A bathroom is a bathroom is a bathroom. Right?  Before I tell you about our move to California, I feel I must indulge in a little out house tale. 

As I had mentioned in a previous story, our new home contained no toilet.   The apartment sat on top of the shop and looking out the upstairs windows sat the cutest little wooden shack with a crescent moon on the door. After having been instructed on the proper care and maintenance of said facility, I decided we had to make the building more, aesthetically pleasing.  No sense in becoming a barbarian after all.

Scrounging scrap paint my sister in law and I painted the interior bright yellow and hubby cut a window on the side to allow light in while accomplishing various bodily tasks.  We found a spare glass window to fit the hole and since this type of building was bound to be crawling with insects, I painted large lady bugs on the interior walls.  By golly if I had to deal with bugs at least some of them were going to be there by my choice.

A cute little toilet paper holder and a decorated can of lime, (keeps the odor down) completed our refurbishing task.  Not bad.  The only drawback to this tidy little domestic scene was my 6 year olds late night imagination. Add a daddy who was an incessant tease and trouble was bound to ensue.

The night came when she could no longer hold it till the early morning hours when there would be daylight to guide her.  We encouraged her to head downstairs while we turned on the flood lights.  We watched out the windows as she cracked the door open ever so slightly and looked around for monsters lurking in the dark.

Suddenly she leaped out the door and slammed it so hard the entire house shook.  Fast as lightning she bolted for the outhouse door!  SLAM! went that same door as she was safely inside, secure for the moment from dreaded demons of the night. Even they wouldn’t enter the outhouse.

Then daddygot this mischievous grin and said, “Watch this”. He waited with his hand on the flood light switch while our daughter finished up her task.  Just as she stuck her head out the door and checked left and right for monsters,  he flipped the lights out.   A scream pierced the night air!

If I had a stop watch I am certain I would have clocked her return speed at more than twice the original speed!  The door to the downstairs slammed even harder making all the windows vibrate. She was so furious with us she forgot that she had been frightened.  She did remember to carry her own flash light after that. This is when we all began to develop the habit of not drinking anything after 6:00 pm.  

BANANNA SPLIT DELIVERIES

So after the 4th false labor trip to Portland we were getting kind of bored with the whole process.  It went something like this.  Labor pains become 5 mins apart.  Start old VW by pushing it down the hill and popping clutch.  Drive to Portland. 

But the drive to  Portland was only a small portion of the ritual.  Since I was a gestational diabetic I had strict dietary guide lines that I was told could end when the pregnancy did. Since Baskins Robins was on the way and since we had been really strict diet wise during the pregancy it was decided that before we actually delivered, we would celabrate with a bananna split extravaganza!   (We knew the hospital was very strict reguarding how many calories could be eaten in the day and one BSplit would be the entire days fare)

Full to the brim with comfort food, we would arrive at the hospital ready for the next adventure only to have the contractions stop!  My husband was begining to think I was holding out for the chow! We were up to our 9th trip in the Bug and decided to make the routine stop for the um, healthy bannanas.

Certain that the 9th time was the charm we took our full and content selves up to OHSU.

By the time we were admited, my water had broken and contractions were going full throttle at less than 5 minutes apart.  We were ready! Hub donned the green paper fashion garments and prepared to snapp the gloves on when notified. I was poked, prodded, wired for sound and placed in an indecent hospital garment.  Oooh we were really jazzed!  Waiting for the next contraction to arrive on time we all gazed at the clock.

Seven minutes went by befor another one hit.  And with less intensity then the last. Can’t argue with that little graph on the machine.  Nurses, doctor and husband all looked at me with the same comment in their eyes.   “Would you stop that for crying out loud and get on with it?!”

“Look you guys it’s not my fault!  I’m  5 centimeters dialated, my water broke, and I’m 3 weeks over due! You figure it out! ”  The doc scratched his head and reviewed my chart. “You know,” he began slowly, “it says here you are diabetic and high blood sugar can stop labor,  so how about we test your blood sugar and you write down everything you’ve had to eat in the last 12 hours.”    He walked away to get the phlebotomist and my man and I looked at each other and whispered, “Uh Oh!”

I wrote every good thing I had eaten that day on the list in large letters.  Hub leaned over and said in a whisper, “Why didn’t you tell me high blood sugar stopped labour?! This is our 9th trip up here for cryin out loud!”   “Don’t you whisper at me in that tone of voice!,”I whisper/yelled back. “I DIDN’T KNOW IT EITHER”   “What are you going to put on that paper?”he asked me, leaning over.   “I’ve put all the good healthy foods I’ve eaten in a list like this….”   I began.   “Man you eat alot when your pregers!” he blew a quiet whistle.  “SHUT UP” I said out of the corner of my mouth.   “If you had eaten my other half of the bannana split like I asked you to we wouldn’t be in this mess…” I began. The doctor came in clearing his throat and asked if I was ready to get my blood drawn.  “Sure,” I said, as I finished my list by writting Bannana Split in teensy weensy letters at the bottom of the page.

Mr WetBehindTheEars youngster doctor drew my blood and sent it off to the lab. “Now,” he said, “lets take a look at that list while we wait for the results.” Hub and I hummed quitetly to ourselves and generally tried to avoid making eye contact.

He read calmly for a while, then looked up at me over the top of his glasses. I grinned. Crossing his legs, he pulled his glasses off and rubbed his eyes in a very tired way.  “Tell me seriously now,” he said, “is a bannana split really on your dietary guidelines?” “Well,” I said, trying to look sheepish enough, “bannanas are good for you.” 

That night, little Melody was born weighing in at 9 lbs and 4 and 1/2 ounces.  And the round, fat cheeks on that kid were to pinch for!  Must have been all them bananas.

bob.JPG

bob.JPGThis The following is an unschedualed alert to inform readers of an insideous new plot by the PS3 Playstions all over the world to take over the minds of young players every where.   Bob Gentry was last seen over one week ago when he first got his new “TOY”.  Since interfacing with this device he has gradually lost all contact with the real world and his station has been replying on his blog for him!   Mothers all over the world must act now before it is too late.  I fear all is lost for Bob but mothers must unite now and go cut the power to your homes at the breaker box! Do it now before all is lost. Do NOT fail to heed my warning.

GOING BUGGY!

It was getting  close to my time.  I was having numerous contractions.  We were getting very nervous.   Also we lived about a two hour drive from the hospital.

The car we inherited was a 1963 green Volkswagen bug that only ran when it felt like it.  Let’s just say that the gas mileage was even better when we had to push.  Being so far away from the hospital was nerve wracking  but this was my second child so my man figured I knew what I was doing.  So did I.

Our first trip was sooo exciting!  Just imagine, our first child together as a family. After we had driven for one hour towards Portland  our fantasies of familial harmony and well being were suddenly put on hold as we were pulled over by the police.   A tall officer of the law strolled over to our vehicle and asked what the rush was?  “My wife’s in labour officer! We’re on our way to OHSU.”    He replied, “Really?” as he bent over sideways and  gazed at my belly looking like he thought I had stuffed a pillow under my shirt. “Were you aware you had a tail light out?” He asked in an accusatory tone.  “Yes Yes officer, I promise I’ll take care of that as soon as we get to the hospital! said hubby.  The man with the badge stood and considered this for a moment then said, “I think I better check your turn signals and make sure they are all in working order.”   He walked around back.   My husband whispered, “Great! What will we do now? The signals don’t blink  automatically!”  I wispered back, “Just slip your hand up there and move the handle up and down with the same rhythm of the blinker!”  My man managed to pull off this charade and the officer almost wrote us a warning ticket for the broken tail light.  I grabbed my huge belly and groaned. That got us outta there quick.  

When we began the ascent up the hill to the hospital, the bug died.  It was only a 6 volt machine and running here with the headlights on had severely taxed its’ capabilities. Hub slammed on the brakes (at least they still worked) and sat for a moment thinking.  Why did these things always happen late at night in the dark with no one else around?

“Ok, sweetie here’s what we’er going to do.  Let’s push the bug around the corner where there’s that really long steep incline and when the car is rolling good we’ll jump in and I’ll pop the clutch.”    I said, “Wait! Hold on a minute! You can’t pop the clutch going DOWN HILL BACKWARDS!  What if a car comes? Have YOU EVER done that?!”    He just grinned and said, “As long as you stand here and argue with me we’ll never know if it can be done, will we?”  I started to argue but was hit by another contraction and I decided to place some energy else where. 

We lined the bug up and began to push. (I wished I was at the hospital doing the other kind of pushing) Have you ever seen a 9 months pregnant woman pushing a Volkswagen bug backwards down a hill? It’s not a very pretty sight, I’ll tell you!

The car began to roll and just as I started to fling my rotund self into  the car the door caught on a hillside and bent on the hinge. I yelped and hub hit the brakes. “Great” , he said. Now we have to start over again. “And I’m soooo thankful you didn’t run your wife over with THE CAR!, I snapped. I got out and tried to close to bent door.

Getting into position again we began to roll down hill and we both leaped in.  Well, he leaped in. I threw my butt into the seat and hauled my legs in with my arms.  Then I held the bent door shut as we gained speed coasting down the hill. Popping the clutch the car sputtered to life and we chugged the rest of the way to the hospital.

I was dilated 3 centimeters but my labor had stopped.   The doctor looked at me and said, “Well this is highly unusual for someone whose had a child before. Sometimes over exertion or excitement will cause labor to stop.  Was your trip up here eventful?

We both looked over at each other , simultaneously shrugged our shoulders and said, “Nahhhh, Piece of Cake”.

Next blog, the last trip to the Portland Hospital.

SOUTHWARD HO! PART 2

Except for having been nearly eaten alive by mutant Alaskan/Canadian crossbreed monster mosquitoes the first part of our journey was uneventful.  The truck rumbled along loyally and we admired the wilderness scenery.  Whitehorse Alaska was our next scheduled stop and we pulled in there to do some recreating.

After leaving White Horse we began to hear a muffled “ka-thunk”, “ka-thunk”.  We turned toward each other. “Tell our kid to stop making noise back there.”  I turned around to settle her down but she was already asleep in the back of the truck.  “Not her”, I informed him.  “Oh my, I hope the rear end transmission isn’t going out!”  I listened carefully.  No grinding noises and no problems shifting led me to think it was a wheel bearing.  “I think it’s a rear wheel bearing”, I said.  My honey gave me a condescending chuckle.  “This from a woman who didn’t know how to read a map when we got married? Look , I  know you worked on helicopters when you were in the Army,  but this is a truck. I think you’d better leave the diagnostics to me. ”

Well talk about mood altering conversation!  “Fine! Figure it out yourself!” I harrumphed.  “Now Now hun,” he condescended to me again as we pulled into a parking lot. I know what I’m doing. I’m going in there to ask the way to a dump and with any luck I’ll find a rear end that matches this one.   After getting instructions we headed to the local dump.  He parked the truck and we scouted for parts. “Look! I think there’s one that’s our year and make!”  I couldn’t believe it but it was true. 

“Now”, he said, “The guy said the most important part is to watch out for bears.”   “What?”   “Watch for bears, he said to keep a look out so you sit here in the drivers seat and honk the horn if you see any coming while I remove that transmission.”   “Are YOU INSANE?! ” I yelled.  “No, I’m serious. Now if you don’t want your only husband eaten alive while trying to repair our rig I suggest you pay attention.”

I sat in the drivers seat with the window open scanning for predators and biting my nails down to the quick. Every crackle, every noise made me jump.  What was I doing out in the middle of nowhere, pregnant, a 6 year old, two house cats in the back of the truck and an insane man scrounging for parts in a wilderness dump?!  An hour and a half later he came back to the truck grinning and carrying what I assume was a transmission.  But what did I know? I had only worked on helicopters.

We drove back to the one restaurant combination bus stop, post office and general store. In the parking lot he began jacking the truck up and taking the rear end apart.  He seemed bent on dismantling our whole vehicle and we would probably end up stranded here forever. Watching him I grew a little more than irritated.  “Sweetie, wouldn’t it have been more prudent to change the wheel bearings first?”  Sighing really big he said, “Have you ever worked on this type of vehicle? No! So just let me get back to work please. Go do something.” 

So I started to pray.  Not your basic, “God please help my husband” prayer.  Oh no, let’s be honest here. I was praying the “God just let me get a chance to say, I TOLD YOU SO! prayer.”  It is such a good thing we aren’t God. Do you know how many bolts of lightning I would called down by now?! 

Anyway, I left with our daughter to go get a bite to eat, and at the same time a greyhound bus pulled up.  People began to walk over to  see what my man was up to.  I listened just before going into the restaurant as my hub described the symptoms to a man who had asked if he could help.  “Well” said the newcomer, “I’m not a mechanic but you know what it sounds like to me? A wheel bearing.”  Then he walked away and left my man sitting on his knees, covered in grease  with a half torn apart truck and a scrounged transmission that he realized didn’t fit.  I went and hid in the restaurant praying, “God PLEASE don’t let me say I told you so!”

Six hours later it was dusk and he had gotten the rear end put back together.  Now what to do about a wheel bearing.  We drove to the only gas station in this not quite big enough to be a town place.  Getting out we found the sole proprietor underneath a vehicle repairing it.  My husband asked if he had any truck parts.  “Maybe,” he said,  “If I got anything it would be in that little white cabinet on that wall.”   Walking over we opened the dusty cabinet and peered inside.  The cabinet was completely empty except for two small boxes, both wheel bearings, both for our make and model truck.  Really! 

The next day we were on our way.  No more “Ka-thunks” from the rear and the truck ran smoothly along.  “Wasn’t that a blessing those two wheel bearings being there?” said hubby.  “Yep” I replied.  (please God don’t let me say I told you so!) “Nice job on the repair.” I said.  We rumbled along quietly for a while. All of a sudden he said, “Sorry I didn’t check the wheel bearings first.”  (Hold my tongue God) “Oh that’s ok. I’m just glad we didn’t get eaten by bears.” I halfheartedly replied.   I contented myself that I had resisted an enormous temptation and probably avoided a terrible argument.  Would that I could have held my tongue as well on other occasions. 

SOUTHWARD HO!

I was fed up with the darkness that is Alaska.  I was fed up with the cold.  I wanted to move south.   My hubby was missing his family as well and the Alaskan economy was in a temporary decline.  The decision was made to move to Oregon.  I was 3 months pregnant when we began planning. (Hint: important detail for later)

We started  to build our modern day covered wagon.  Scrounging plywood and paint, scraps of carpet and hardware we built a brown wooden camper on to the yellow  truck.  Knowing that we would be traveling through rugged country we took out the rear window and connected the cab of the truck to the new interior.  Each of us crawled through to make certain we fit.  Now if there were any bears or mosquitoes along the Alcan we could get into the truck to sleep without exposing ourselves to the hazards.

After packing the back of the truck up taller than the top of the closed tailgate, we laid our bedding out on top of our worldly goods.  Selling everything else we headed off on our adventure. The truck was sitting way down on the shocks, as we drove down the Alaskan Canadian highway. I had never been camping in my life other than military exercises. So I figured, no sweat! (cue maniacal laughter here)

We began our journey pleasantly enough,  with  the second night stopping at a place called Eagle Creek wayside.  Sitting  in the truck we heard a low pitched hum.  Looking at each other we sat quietly and listened as the sound began to grow into a thunderous drone.   Alaskan Mosquitoes!  These weren’t just any tundra blood thirsty vampires, they were Canadian cross breeds!  Here is where our planning and preparation would pay off. 

Deciding to skip a hot meal and have snacks we started to crawl in the back.  Hubby crawled back through first and then I passed our oldest child through the opening.  Now it was my turn.  I  started to enter the portal.  “Uh ohhh.” I mumbled.  “Whats wrong honey?” my man asked.   “Ummm, I no longer fit through the opening!(It had taken three months to prepare for our trip)  What are we gonna do?”  The outside hum increased slightly in volume.  I looked nervously out the window.

“Well you’ve got no choice.  Jump out the door, slam it shut and run around to the back. I’ll be there and open the door.  Just don’t let any of those blood suckers in!”   Did I hear gigling sounds mixed in with the hum?

I sat very close to the passenger side door with my face pressed up against the window, waiting for a break in the swarm.  At last my opportunity came.  In one swift movement, (which was a marvelous thing to behold at six months pregnant) I leaped from the truck, ran around back and dived into the camper.  Slam! went the camper door.  

We sat quietly, breathing heavy and trying to hear if any of them had gotten in. We breathed a sigh of relief.

Outside the angered blood suckers bombarded our truck dive-bombing into it repeatedly.  The truck rocked back and forth and we feared these mutated creatures would have can openers in their mouth parts and begin hacking our truck to pieces.  We lay under our covers, back to back guarding each other.

Just as we were about to drift off we heard that dreaded high pitched hum INSIDE the truck!  “DANG, honey you let one in!” grumped hubby.   “Don’t blame me! You made the hole to small!  You knew I’d get bigger! I can’t help it if you didn’t plan right!”  I complained.   “DUCK!” I yelped.  We both dove under the covers.  Oh mercy, we’d never get any sleep now.

Totally under the blankets, we knew we’d have to come up for air sooner or later.  I could hear her zinging around inside our camper, licking her chops and rubbing those little insect legs together in anticipation. I grabbed a straw and tried sucking air from under the covers like a snorkeler. I fell asleep and nearly suffocated. I think she had stuffed a piece of paper into  the straw.  These were HUGE mosquitoes!

At 5 am the next morning we repeated the process, with me making a marathon dash to the front cab.  We escaped this time with only a few welts.  Going  hungry till we came to the next town, we scratched.  Here we recovered, doctoring our wounds and scraping dead mosquito bodies the size of small dragons off the sides of our truck.    The place was renamed by us.  Mosquito Creek Wayside.

After this event we figured the rest of the trip would be a peice of cake.  (cue maniacle laughter again)