February 4, 2007

Health News

It feels weird writing about my own health, until I remember whose name is on the blog, and whose picture is over there in the corner. I guess it IS all about me! ;-)

I went to the allergist for my follow-up appointment last week, and in telling about that, I can include some other aspects of the whole mess. The big picture is that I do indeed have asthma (duh.), but that it is reasonably controlled now; my years of sub-par health care have not particularly damaged my lungs; and I have a very very nasty allergy.

I have dreams of moving to a studio apartment in the Alps. Dust mites don't like dryness, coldness, or altitude, and I couldn't have much stuff to keep clean in a studio....On the other hand, I remind myself that I hate being cold (I am, in fact, part cat!), the whole family thing wouldn't work there, and I also loathe skiing.

So, back to the doc! She reports that I have enormous lungs. The number 2 handy device that asthmatics get to carry around is the Peak Flow Meter, which basically measures how fast you can push air out of your lungs (more knowledgeable medical personnel should feel free to jump in if I biff anything along the info. line!) The number 1 handy device is, of course, Ye Olde Rescue Inhaler. Anyway, when I measure my peak flow, a low normal reading for me--like after I've been cleaning dusty things all day the day before and have just woken up and am feeling a bit miserable--is what you'd expect from a 100% health person of my age and height. (As the nurse said, "Wow! That's better than I can do!" And I wasn't feeling that great...) I know now it's not all in my head, though, those readings notwithstanding, because I also got to do the Amazing Computer Test. (This involves taking a deep breath, having a tech scream at you to blow out into a tube as hard as you can, and seeing your progress on the computer screen. Seems to me Joe used to do that all day....) In short, the test shows that I can do waaay, waaay better than my "low normal", given the right drugs. So I think the summary is: I have asthma; I have big lungs.

I also have a big bad allergy. I can tell, in part, because when I don't do anything remotely dusty, I feel GREAT! When I do something dusty, even the cool drugs I'm on cannot keep me from feeling miserable. (They do, however, keep me *functional*, which is a huge improvement.) So I'm pretty much looking at environmental controls to keep me in good shape. Therein lies the rub, of course.

We have plans to move our bedroom to what is now my office, and we'll put the girls in the guest room. That all sort of depends on having only one kitty, that being the one who will be certain to...ah...make it to the cat box "in time" from the ground floor even if the box is in the basement. As for the other kitty....We're trying to give him lots of love and not let him read things like this entry, but honestly, he was born in 1988...you do the math! Meantime, we plan to rip out the carpet (carefully!!!) from the basement this summer; that should help heaps and loads, even after we're no longer sleeping down there. There are also plans afoot--in the further future--to change the carpet in the far upstairs to something solid. I may end up switching my office to what is now Matt's up there (since I'll lose the one I have), and he'll move his down into what is now the nursery in the basement. Up in the air is whether my office might move back to the ground floor as the girls get older; we always sort of figured the big upstairs room would be remodeled for them. But lots of things that were "always" are in flux at this point. We still don't want to move, though.

Other things that have helped enormously are mattress and pillow covers; a permanent air filter on the furnace (a bit of a pain since it has to be cleaned once a month, but worth it; I can totally tell by the peak flow readings when it's out and the temporary regular paper one is in!); the Dyson, which is what makes the downstairs carpet remotely livable; and washing all the bedding in the house every single week. The up side of all those is that they really, really, really help. The down side is that I sometimes feel caught on an enormous treadmill...when I was sick a few weeks ago, I wondered why I didn't feel better sooner; then I realized it was because no one had vacuumed, dusted, etc. in too long. Knowing I had to feel worse (by dealing with the dust when I already felt lousy) in order to feel better....well, it SUCKED, to be honest! That, and the fact that washing two beds (mattress pad, sheets, blanket, quilt or comforter for each) plus the crib stuff every week pretty much means that laundry is my life. (I read somewhere that the average family of four does something like 5-6 loads of laundry a week. We easily double that....) It is a foregone conclusion that when I go back to work, we'll pay someone to come in and help with all this. Otherwise, I probably won't be *able* to work!

I do see hope even in the midst of chaos there, though (surely, you expected no less from the Eternal Optimist, right?) I don't think there's any cure for the laundry, but slowly, slowly, I'm trying to eliminate all the little pockets of dust-collecting areas that are in the house. (That's what makes me dream of...say, a small chalet? I'm sure they're well-heated. I could drink goat milk....) As anyone who's been here has probably noticed, streamlined housekeeping is not really our strong point. I keep chanting to myself: "Containerize. Containerize. Containerize." That is one of the many ways in which I feel my brain, my outlook, changing to meet the challenge. And actually, I have only little pockets left, except for my own personal Waterloo, the sewing room. That will take a while, but while I was out on my own for the doctor's appointment (and I renewed my driver's license; I got a good picture, too, which is totally like winning the lottery--*nobody* gets a good picture!!!), I picked up a bunch of organizing tubs and things which will eventually house the fabric and tools. But first, I have to wash all the fabric. I sooo don't want to see the water bill next month!

You know, mostly, I'd just like to think about something else (positive, preferably) for a while. Suggestions welcome. :-) Unfortunately, it's pretty much (to quote Mad-Eye Moody) a "Constant vigilance!" kind of malady.

So that's the scoop. It's still not as bad as it could be; for instance, our friend Jim's cancer appears to have metastasized into some of the surrounding bone. It's not as if we can choose these things, but all in all, I'd choose the laundry hands down!

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