Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hookworm Update!

[This is an update about J's hookworms. My previous posts about this are here: part one and part two.]

J has had hookworms for almost 12 weeks now.

He was sick for about 4 weeks. He has been better now for about a few weeks*. While he was sick, J was absolutely exhausted. He slept about 11-12 hours per day. His guts hurt. He found that Hydrocodone was the most helpful for pain relief.

At about his third week of having worms, J's pain became so intolerable that he had to choose between getting rid of his worms and taking Prednisone, which is an immunosuppressive drug. It worked extremely well, but it is also very dangerous, so he only took tiny doses. He took it whenever he was really hurting, until week six.

J didn't miss much work while he was sick, but there were a lot of days where he would come home early in the evening, or take very long naps during his lunch break, because he just really didn't feel well. For pretty much all of our weekends he slept for the majority of the days.

Honestly, we were kind of frustrated with his sickness. We felt like we had an unclear expectation of what his "worm flu" was supposed to be like. Up until J actually got the worms, we thought that he would probably feel slightly sick for the first few days he had the worms.

After we met with Garin and the doctor, I don't know whether we just misunderstood or what, but I think we expected that about two weeks into having worms J would experience mild discomfort for a couple weeks. After J became sick and had been sick for a little while, the expectation was that it would become much better very suddenly at about week six. J says about 85% of the suffering happened between weeks 2-6. After that he got better over the following two weeks, until he was not having any pain from them at all.

So far, the results are:
1. J would never, never get 30 worms all at once. He suspects 10 at a time would be ideal, and 15 would be acceptable (because going to Mexico each time is a hassle.)
2. As far as allergies are concerned, J has occasionally been friends with our cat to see how he is improving. At the beginning, J would touch the cat and have a very delayed (and reduced) allergic response. Partway through his sickness, J discovered that he could touch the cat (but not really cuddle her and rub her against his face) and he would have no allergic response at all. Now, as of yesterday, if he rubs the cat in his face, he does still have a small allergic response that is somewhat delayed. Of course it is nowhere near where he started.
3. J was also seeking to improve some mild joint pain. It is totally gone.
4. J used to wake up with a stuffy nose every day, and now his nose is always dry in the mornings. This started at two weeks.
5. J thinks he may be interested in increasing the number of worms he has at some point in the future.
6. People we know have also seen J's improvement; J's parents and my sister both have cats, and we have visited them successfully, with no allergic response. Members of each of our families have approached us with interest in learning more about worms. We recommend Garin as a provider of hookworms.
7. J underwent surgery yesterday and all of the doctors and nurses involved were careful to accommodate him. Garin was a great resource for J as he tried to work out the anesthesia. A couple of the doctors were especially interested and asked J a lot of questions. They seemed to think that it was unusual but great that it was working for him.

[Note: I've written another update about the hookworms. It is here.]

* "During which I got a cold, and a broken bone, and surgery! So much for being well, eh?"

Monday, February 07, 2011

Life Update

Things Happening:

1. My mother-in-law is helping me organize our house! I am not very talented when it comes to organizing, so her help is MUCH appreciated. She is also helping with other things.

Back from when our roof was leaking almost a year ago, we tore down a bunch of drywall to find the leak. And then we left it because other projects were more pressing. My mother-in-law helped me install drywall* in our alcove. I did the joining tape and spackling, and I painted it, and replaced the carpet with more fake wood floor. Now it houses our two big [empty!] water barrels and some shelves. Oh, I guess this isn't really about actual organizing--we've done that, too.

2. I installed fake wood floor in our old office! The idea was to swap the dining room and office, because the "dining room" has new carpet and the office had very old carpet. Having our table, refrigerator, and trash cans on carpet was just not the best. Now, we're not sure if the "dining room" will actually be moving to the fake wood floor bedroom or not. We'll see.

3. I'm teaching 8 year-old kids at Church this year. Last year J and me taught the 5 year-old kids. It was pretty fun. This year, we were assigned the kids who are turning 9 this year. So far I really like them. It seems like they all want to be best friends with me, which is fun. They fight** to sit by me. I've decided to stop trying to get the kids to sit still during class. Here's the thing: they have to sit still for Sacrament meeting (before my class), and they have to sit still for Primary (after my class), and it's just not worth it to me to try and make them sit still in my class too. So we DO THINGS.

A few weeks ago we acted out our whole lesson. The last time I taught, we made salt dough maps of the places Jesus lived (because that's what the lesson was about). The kids are loving it, and I feel less stressed about them not sitting still. We still look up scriptures together--I think that's super important, that the kids become really familiar with the Bible and learn to use the maps and footnotes, etc. I want them to love the scriptures as much as I do, so I'm trying to make the scriptures more exciting and easy to relate to. We'll see how the rest of the year goes. Maybe I'll change my mind about letting them be so squirmy. So far everyone really likes it. I think it's important that we stay structured enough that the kids can feel the Spirit and actually learn about the gospel.***

4. I am taking a GNOWFGLINS class about Cultured Dairy. I was going to do the Fundamentals class when Wardeh started it, but at the time I was just about to get married and trying to graduate and about 3000 other things, so I ended up canceling my membership. I knew I wanted to do it eventually, though. This month the Cultured Dairy class was beginning so I decided it was time to come back. In the class we will be learning to make a whole bunch of yogurts and cheeses**** so J and I are both really excited about this class because we love cheese! So far we've only had the introduction class, but tomorrow we'll actually start making things, so I'm excited. I've already been having fun meeting people on the forums*****.

5. I've been blogging for eFoods Direct! (I'll post separately about this when the new site is released.) My topic is "Emergency Preparedness" and I blog on Mondays. I absolutely love it. I've cared a lot about emergency preparedness for a really long time so it's fun to blog about it, and learn and think more about preparedness. J and I actually revamped our preparation efforts last fall because we're worried about the direction our country seems to be headed...but that's another blog post for another day, maybe.

6. J broke his finger. At the gym. He thought it was just sprained or strained, but he kept re-injuring it, and it kept not healing. Last Thursday (12 days after the original injury) he went into urgent care to have it x-rayed. It was definitely broken. Poor guy. The urgent care doctor said for sure we'll be meeting our deductible. Too bad.

So then on Friday, J got an emergency appointment to see a o. surgeon to have it looked at, and the doctor said "this needs surgery..." but then we talked to him about setting it. The trouble is, it broke at an angle so that the muscle in J's finger will naturally kind of slide the bone right back out. The doctor said there was a chance setting it would work, but maybe only a 10-50% chance. We decided it was worth trying. So the doctor set J's finger and it hurt very very badly. As he was massaging J's finger, I tried to distract my poor husband:

"So, J...what is your favorite flavor of ice cream?"
"Aouhmmm...cookies and cream..."
"Really? You like it better than all of your other flavors?"
"But what about chocolate peanut butter and strawberry? You like it better than those, too?"

Poor guy. I don't know if it actually helped distract him from hurting at all, but it did make him happy because he thought it was really silly for me to be asking him about ice cream.

Anyway, after the doctor set his finger, they x-rayed it again to see if it stayed in place. IT DID! So J was splinted up and sent home with a return appointment for today--if his bone stayed in place, he would get a cast. If not, he would get surgery and a little metal plate and pins to hold his finger together. (Ouch.)

We hoped and prayed his finger would stay in place. J was very, very careful not to bump it over the weekend. (But it didn't actually need to be bumped to slide out of place.)

We went in for his appointment today and he had his hand x-rayed again to see how he'd held up over the weekend. Here is the new x-ray. What do you think, readers? Cast or surgery? (It's a strange angle because the splint is on and it holds fingers in a strange position for x-rays.)

The doctor said it looked good! He said it had moved a little bit, but not very much, so J was probably out of the woods now. He said he had tried to call his colleague who is a hand specialist to get his opinion on whether it was good enough or not, and he wasn't able to talk to him yet, but most likely J would be just fine in a cast! The doctor said he would talk to the specialist and call J back this afternoon to confirm it was all right.

The doctor said it was kind of like if you ask your mom, "Mom, can I spend the night at my friend's house?" and your mom says, "Probably, but I'll have to check with your Dad." And you're kind of like, "Well, hmm, can I or can't I?" And maybe your dad will say, "Oh, no, remember, we grounded him last week," or something that Mom just forgot or didn't know about, but probably you can. The doctor said it was like that. He said we shouldn't get our hopes up, but J could go ahead and get a cast because it looked good.

So, of course, we immediately got our hopes up.

We went to the casting room where J was going to get his cast. J broke his wrist when he was 12, so he's had a cast before. I asked him over the weekend what color of cast he'd get if he could get a cast and he said white. White? "Do they come in other colors?" he asked, not sure whether I was being serious or not. "Of course they do!" It's been a long time since he was 12. I suggested he go with pink or red, since it's about time for Valentine's day. We also discussed more work-appropriate options, like khaki or grey. (I don't think they come in those colors, though.) J wasn't sure which color he would want.

When we got to the special cast room, the girl putting his cast on showed him a ring of different cast color swatches. His cast would be on for two weeks, and then he would come in for an x-ray to be sure things were healing up right. The girl explained that they would remove the cast at the two week appointment. I suggested pink or red again, because Valentine's day is especially relevant for the next couple weeks. J was not convinced. The girl suggested red with pink hearts ("She's just a Ute, that's why she wants me to get a red one," J countered). So she suggested pink with red hearts. J picked dark green.

The girl wove cotton around J's fingers. He would have his index finger, but the other three fingers would be in the cast, and the cotton would keep them from rubbing and getting blisters. Oh. Then she put a special sock on J's arm, cutting holes for his finger and stuff. She wrapped cotton all around his arm and hand, carefully doing the spots where there would be edges of the cast, so they wouldn't rub. She got his green cast stuff out and got it wet. She brought it over to J and started to put it on...

And then the doctor came back in the room. He finally spoke with the hand surgeon, and unfortunately J's bone wasn't quite perfect enough. He will be needing surgery after all. Too bad! So the girl removed the little bit of green that she'd put on J, and she splinted his hand back up (on top of the cast stuff), and bandaged it all back up, and cut off the cast part that didn't need to be there since it is only a splint and not a cast. J will most likely be having hand surgery on Friday, but it will depend. It's too bad because it is going to be much more painful and expensive. We'll know more later.

* Although we both enjoy building things, we also both agree that we do not like installing drywall. It is heavy, and not fun to work with, and the insulation is a pain to work with. She was very pleasant about helping, though.
** Reverently, of course.
*** "Sister K! Can I sit on this tower of 4 chairs?!" "Yes! As long as you remove all of the chairs beneath you except one."
**** We're learning to make sour cream, cultured butter and buttermilk, clabbered milk and cheese, heritage yogurt, greek yogurt, kefir and kefir cheese, kefir cream and ice cream, ricotta and soft cheese, cottage cheese, feta cheese, Middle Eastern fresh cheese, Queso Fresco cheese, fresh Cheddar cheese, traditional Mozzarella cheese, and we'll learn about keeping mother cultures so that we can just keep going.
***** Can you imagine? There are other people like me that like doing things like making cheese. NEAT.