Self-diagnosing–Part 2

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Ok, if you’ve already read “Part 1″ then you are caught up to date on self diagnosing things.

This is more of a personal medical story. For those who don’t know, about 7 years ago I had Lymes disease.  I had no idea I had it but thought I had gotten a really bad case of the flu–over July 4th weekend!  I literally was so sick I should’ve been in the hospital but being a RN I just stayed in bed and dealt with it. I finally dragged myself out of bed to shower and found “the bullseye” rash, diagnosis confirmed by an MD several days later (good thing we had a digital camera and documented the proof).  We did the whole antibiotic route, orally  twice and then IV for a month and I was finally without the headache that was my major complaint for 5 months.

We live in the country part of NY where ticks are everywhere (don’t think they aren’t in towns and cities though) so doing a “tick check” has become a way of life. I’ve had Lymes again twice, which is hard to diagnose since once you have a positive blood test it will always be somewhat positive, but we treated based on symptoms and history.

Recently I was feeling like crap; worn down, tired, achy and… I had a major headache! The headache is my “warning alarm” that something is amiss because I exercise and work nights so achy and tired are somewhat normal for me.  I finally convinced myself it was Lymes again (despite not having a known tick bite) and went to my doctor. He has ‘walk in’ appointments so there is usually a wait unless it is an emergency.  Despite the anticipated wait I love this guy; he is actually a PA and takes time to listen to what you are not saying as well as what you are ‘complaining’ about. Unfortunately the wait time was going to be more than I had so I made an appointment for the next morning after I worked the night shift.

I got in after a short wait (and a reminder to the staff of my appointment). I was tired, irritable and just wanted to get my labwork done and antibiotics prescribed. However…..self diagnosis was not what happened. My PA sat me down and talked. He took my BP (blood pressure) like normal and it was high–very high at 180/ 100. We chatted about things and he took it again–still high.  His diagnosis:  Hypertension.   Headaches can be a symptom but often there may be none.

He sent me home with a prescription which I filled. I took one and went to bed and…it was normal when I got up.  I sent him a message since I was still unconvinced that I had high blood pressure  that one pill could do the trick.  He allowed me to monitor it for a few days and like he anticipated it did creep back up to a lower, but still elevated, number. I still had a headache and bloodwork was normal for Lymes. I took the med and well, now I feel a lot better.

I guess the long and short of the story is that even though “you might know your own body” you can’t always be the one to judge what is wrong. Sometimes we are too close to our accepted ideas of what is the matter to look beyond that “box” for alternate solutions.  From now on I will leave the diagnosing to the medical professionals and just be aware that something is not quite in sync and be open to listen.



Leave the “diagnosing” to the Professionals –part 1

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Owning your own home can sometimes be a challenge. There is always something that needs an adjustment, repair or replacement. After a while you get to know your house and can anticipate what some of the problems might be and become pretty good at “DIY”  (aka do it yourself) repairs.  However, not all problems are what you might think they are.

There is an unusually high amount of sediment and minerals in our water supply; our well is over 350 feet deep so it might not be that unusual. We originally found out about it when our electric hot water heater started to short out. The electrician found a ton of sediment in the bottom of the tank and said it was bonding to the heating elements and breaking the metal off as it fell off it; thus the short. Next step–water softener for ‘hard water’. We got a water softener system installed and all seemed to be going well…until we solidified the resin tank. OK–next adjustment: add a pre-filter to the system. That worked pretty well for a long time and we added another filter after the (calcium salt) reservoir to remove the softener before it went in to the house.

That worked well until we burned out a well pump due to the calcium in the well water. Much time and money later, we had a new well pump…..and 300 feet of new and bigger tubing–the second time with a ‘check valve’ to prevent the second more powerful pump from burning out. Yeah!! Its working and we have lots of water!

Fast forward to June– hubby changed the filter in the “pre filter” and suddenly no pressure in the house. He bypasses the water softener and it gets a  better.  We debate about calling the water softener company and delay that when the service fee alone was $150 just to show up.  We debate again and call a plumber who could evaluate the well pump and replace if needed, because based on past experience that was probably what it was.

So the plumber comes and checks this and that and another thing and….determines its NOT the well pump but something inside. He removes the valve and ‘t-piece’ to the pressure tank and low and behold its 90 % blocked with sediment crud and pretty much limiting the flow into the house. He replaces it and we have water!! But….he also suggests replacing the copper pipe up to the water softener because it also is filled with crud.  SO he comes back, replaces that part and we have water again…..but the resin tank is again solidified and needs replacing at some point.

The moral to the story: just because you are sure you know what the problem is doesn’t make it so.  Had we just called the well guy we’d have a new pump and the same issues of low pressure. Sometimes you need to set DIY diagnosing aside and let the professionals do what they are trained to do…for a reason.  And you usually save money in the long run since you are only ‘repairing’ things once.

That being said, head on over to “Part 2” for more personal diagnostics.

Excuse me, your roots are showing….the Return of the Vegetable Garden

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Well it seems I have come full circle; I’ve got a garden going again this year. I am turning into my mom even more, its not that bad a thing, really.

I grew up in New York, not the city but a little upstate ” in the country”. When we moved from our house and small yard in NJ it was a little shocking to find we had 4 acres to spread out and make use of.  My parents did a lot of land clearing and made a large pond area with an island, a horse barn and fenced area, a tool shed….and a huge garden!!  I really do mean it was big!  They grew all kinds of vegetables I had never heard of and some I did: zucchini, summer (yellow) squash, broccoli, kohlrabi  tomatoes, peppers, beans, cukes and more.  They either froze, canned, pickled or made jelly with everything they grew.  They were organic before it really was a thing to try to achieve–they fertilized with “chicken manure tea”, the manure being obtained from a local egg farm.  We “composted” the weeds and the stuff we discarded…even though I had no idea what I was doing; we had a pile in the corner and added to it then added it back when they gardened then next year.

I can’t say I ever thought about the garden, it was like church–something we just did. And I can’t say I enjoyed both all the time either. I don’t know where my parents got their recipes for some of the meals but….sometimes I thought we were eating ‘garbage’ by the way it looked (shredded zucchini, peppers, onions and sausage-yuck!). They liked it though and it was either eat it or starve, most times I ate it.  I always wondered why they had the garden, as far as I could see it was just more work to do.

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My tower of beans!

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Roma tomatoes

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Basil….love the smell!

Fast forward a few years. Last year I got a couple of raised bed kits and had some soil delivered and put in a basic garden on what I thought we might eat; tomatoes, peppers, beans, basil, potatoes, pumpkins and strawberries. I can say I enjoyed it and we did eat most of the produce and I froze what I could for the winter.  My daughters even helped out with harvesting now and then.

I wanted to expand this year and have some raised and some traditional planted areas (ie in the ground). Well it did not quite work out that way–I waited too long to get started and had to stop due to the roots I found while roto-tiling and the rain. I still kept the two beds going but with different plants and planting methods (see the next blog for details) and I have plans in place to get the new raised beds built and the other area set up for tilling.

So the point to this rambling tale? I get why they had a garden; its comforting to be working with Nature to produce a harvest. I enjoy puttering around pulling weeds and ‘mothering’ my plants. Its actually rewarding to see things growing and knowing you made it happen. Plus I get to control how my veges are grown; organic seeds and fertilizer, natural pest deterrents.  Plus I get to share them with friends.


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