Rain song

Thoughts coalesce, precipitate
wet earth soaks rain and turn to mud
snow melts and soaks the bosom of the earth
sun warms, worms break down tattered leaves
what stirs beneath wet brown muddy ground
we listen for spring’s soft slow moving sound

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For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: precipitate.

Taken in December 2021 in Maryland.

Lichen song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0MvY6m_5yI.

And another:

Doing the best with what you have

Medicare doesn’t cover everything.

It can’t. There are new things being thought up all the time. Some are legitimate and some are scams. There are tons of quack medicine videos and supplements and stuff on line.

But there is also a matter of personnel and resources. Sometimes we do not have enough. Then we have to do the best we can with what we have.

There is a particularly difficult case from my second year of rural Family Medicine with Obstetrics. Things went right but just barely. This is from memory and over 25 years ago, in the 1990s, so I can’t violate hipaa because I can’t remember names from then. Mostly.

I had a pregnant woman whose pregnancy had gotten complicated. Her ultrasound showed an abnormal placenta. Very rarely, the placenta can grow into the uterus too far, and form a placenta increta. Even more rarely it can grow THROUGH the wall of the uterus and into another body part. That is called a placenta percreta.

In this case we thought that the placenta had grown into the bladder. We were not certain. The obstetricians were aware. Our patient was aware. A cesarean section was planned for when the fetus was mature.

Then she developed a second pregnancy complication. Preeclampsia. This is a complication where blood pressure rises, there is protein in the urine and many things can go wrong. It can progress to eclampsia, which means seizures. This is Very Bad, which means the mother and fetus can die.

She developed HELLP syndrome. This is an acronym. The P is what I worried about, platelets. Platelets help your blood clot. Her platelet count was dropping out of sight. We were rural, 180 miles from the nearest high risk obstetrician. We did have blood for transfusion but NO PLATELETS.

The treatment for preeclampsia with HELLP syndrome is to deliver the baby. I called our obstetrician the minute I got the lab result. “No platelets — can I fly her out?”

“YES! FLY HER OUT!”

Transfer to a bigger hospital with facilities for a premature infant and with platelets, because she needs a cesearean section and she could need a hysterectomy if that darn placenta has grown through. Messy.

Problem number three: weather. We are in Alamosa, Colorado, at 7500 feet, which is the valley floor. We are surrounded by 14,000 foot peaks with passes in four directions. That nearest hospital with platelets is 180 miles and over a 10,000 foot pass and it is snowing.

I call Denver first. 250 miles. Fixed wing life flight. Nope, the weather is too bad to the east and north.

I call Albuquerque. 250 miles. Nope, the pass is socked in, the plane can’t get through.

I call Grand Junction. About the same distance. They say “WHERE are you?” I’ve never tried to send anyone there before. They demur and I cajole and beg. “Okay, okay!” The high risk obstetrics doctor can’t be looking forward to meeting this patient, but they accept.

From the start of calling to the arrival of a plane and crew usually takes about four hours. I want to chew my nails.At last I hug my patient goodbye and they go.

I get the call about 6 hours later. Delivered and they did have to do a hysterectomy, but mother and baby are fine. Her bladder was untouched. They had platelets.

Whew! I was so happy, and mom and baby too. Let’s give credit to my patient too: she got prenatal care. She paid attention. She knew she was high risk. I had told her to come in if anything changed and she did, so we caught the preeclampsia on time.

But it could have gone wrong in all sorts of ways. We were both careful and we were lucky. If the storm had been over Alamosa we would have done the best we could then, too, but it could have turned out quite differently. And thanks to the high risk obstetrics doctors who accept complex patients that they have never seen from rural doctors like me!

Blessings. Blessings on all the nurses and doctors and midlevels and hospital housecleaners and security and lab workers and the Life Flight personnel and First Responders and everyone who has worked and worked and worked through the pandemic.

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I took the photograph in Maryland in December: abstract and complicated water, ice and reflections.

PANS/PANDAS and diet

I have been thinking about PANS and diet.

When I am sick with pneumonia, I have to keep my carbohydrate intake as low as possible, or I get much much worse. I am attributing this to the lysoganglioside antibody. I have been puzzling about the lysogangilosides because a conference last year says that in some children with PANS/PANDAS, the antibodies cross the blood brain barrier and then macrophages appear to be killing ganglion brain cells. They described a truly awful case. I completely understand children refusing to eat or only eating one or two things when they are having a flare. And everyone may have different food issues because we all make different antibodies. This makes it darned tricky to sort out.

But back to ganglion cells. These are the “nerve” cells. They make up the brain but there are also nerve cells all over the body. And more recently we have started calling the gut, the digestive system, as second “brain”. This is because the gut turns out to have tons of ganglion cells.

So, my lysoganglioside antibodies do not appear to attack my brain. But something attacks my gut. It could be any or all of the antibodies, actually. Ganglion cells in the gut would have receptors for dopamine, the gut has smooth muscle that is powered by tubulin and my understanding of lysogangliosides is that they clean up dead or damaged ganglion cells and should not bother healthy ones. Studies of patients with lyme disease are showing the same four antibodies with a rising baseline for people who have more infections, so my guess is that my baseline has risen enough that I do not tolerate gluten. I may try it again, because my good news is that my muscles feel normal again. No more tubulin blocking antibodies, so I have fast twitch muscles again. They are weak but functional. I am starting to exercise them. Hoorah! If I am super lucky, whichever antibody screws up gluten for me has also dropped, but it may not have. The antibodies do not all do the same thing at the same time. This flare started for me when I had my influenza vaccine and then 5 days later, my fourth Covid-19 vaccine. The shots SHOULD get an antibody response but it was annoying to have the muscle dysfunction again. I managed to avoid getting pneumonia, so the response is shortened, about two months. I had very little of the dopamine 1 and 2 effects, so it was a relatively mild effect. The annoying bit was that I was improving in exercise at pulmonary rehab and the vaccines knocked me back down.

When I have pneumonia, eating carbohydrates makes my breathing worse. That’s weird. Well, not really. This fourth go around I realized that I could mitigate the effect of rising blood sugar as I improved by drinking bicarb with each meal. Sodium bicarbonate, baking soda in water. Why did that help?

Bicarbonate is a base. If it helped the symptoms, then it was balancing out an acid. Rising blood sugar was making me acidotic. When we are acidotic, our bodies will try to increase bicarbonate by speeding our breathing. If I have pneumonia and am hypoxic anyhow, then additional pressure on breathing is definitely not a good thing. So adding a glass of water with a teaspoon of baking soda reduced the acidosis. Then food did not affect my breathing.

Would this help all children with a pandas flare? Again, everyone has different antibodies, so the answer is probably NO. I think it is enormously important to listen to children with a PANDAS/PANS flare and give them an assortment of simple foods to choose from. No pressure for a balanced diet at the height of a flare, because some food or food group may make them feel terribly ill and actually may affect their acid/base balance and MAKE them more ill. I would offer something mostly fat: avocado or bacon or a high fat salami or cheese. Some steamed or raw vegetables, ranging from the high carbohydrate to low. Peas are high, kale is low. No sauces or dressing. Some protein sources, chicken breast or meat or beans. A grain or grain source. Offer fruit but do not push. Let the child figure out what they can eat and roll with it. Try to find more things in that food group. Remember that the main food groups are fats, proteins and carbohydrates. There are a bunch of different carbohydrates, which are sugars. Glucose, fructose (in fruit and corn syrup), lactose (in dairy), maltose, dextrose and others. I would avoid junk food and anything prepared. When I am sick I do fine with lactose, but all of the other carbohydrates make me feel very very ill and mess up my breathing. This is individual and will differ from person to person. If eating makes you feel very very ill, it’s easy to understand why some children stop eating. The obsessive compulsive traits are understandable too: if you suddenly don’t tolerate the foods you love and you do not understand what is happening (and your adults don’t either), you might try to behave in ways to bring back the good old days. Do everything the one right way and maybe things will return to normal. It’s a terrifying illness for children and for parents, but I have hope that my experience will help other people.

Blessings.

The extroverted feeler and “bad strangers”

My son is an extroverted feeler. I’m an introverted thinker. He’s a bit of an alien, but then we all are, really.

When he was four we flew to New Orleans. We were waiting in our herd. It was when you were assigned to herd A, B or C to load on the plane.

My son started talking to people. He went up to a stranger and held out his hand. The stranger shook it, slightly bemused.

“Hi,” said my son, “I’m (name). I live at (address). My phone number is (number). What’s your name? Where do you live? Would you like to come visit?”

The stranger answered in a rather bemused way and my son moved on to the next person and repeated the conversation. He worked his way through most of the herd by the time the plane loaded.

Even though I thought it was hilarious, I also thought we should have a talk about “bad strangers”. I waited until we were at the hotel in New Orleans. I said that it wasn’t always a good idea to tell strangers one’s name and address because some of them might be bad. He was quite enthralled by the idea that there might actually be a “bad stranger” that he might actually meet.

That night we ate dinner in a section of New Orleans that the hotel concierge sort of warned us about going in to after dark. Afterwards my husband went to meet a friend and listen to music.

My son had recently acquired a plastic bow and suction tip arrows. He had taken it seriously and had already gotten quite good at shooting them. He did not have them with him loading on to the plane, but of course brought them to dinner in New Orleans. Our understanding, I hoped, was that shooting them at people would result in immediate loss of bow and arrow privileges and result in confiscation.

So after dinner my husband had left and I was walking back to the hotel, a five foot two, 130 lb female, with a four year old who was holding a suction cup bow and arrow. Loaded and ready. I would describe my mood as alert, especially when my son started talking quite loudly. He was on the alert too.

“I hope we meet a bad stranger. I’m ready for them. I’ll shoot them with my arrow. I’m ready. No bad stranger will bother us.” He continued in this vein all the way back to the hotel.

As we walked through the fairly dark streets back to the hotel, I hoped that the “bad strangers” were too busy laughing in the alleys to bother us. No one did bother us.

And that’s how my extroverted feeler son learned about “bad strangers”.

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First published in 2009 on another website. For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: stranger. I took the photograph quite a few years ago.

shut

I was keeping the door cracked, hoping a friend would come back
but it’s too painful to hope all the time, a constant heart attack
I slammed doors and windows this morning, took my heart out of hock
If you want to see me again, you can damn well knock!

_______________________

Four flocks of geese flew over on the beach a couple days ago, heading south. It always makes me want to travel too! And one of my trees is shedding leaves already, yellow and all over. Fall is on its way.

flight

Cormorant, I think.

About to take flight.

A good take off point.

It takes five years for bald eagles to fully mature. This one is close.

And a great blue heron in flight in the fog.

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: flight.

Up a tree

I love Great Blue Herons. We have a lot. I love them best in trees, because they still look strange to me in trees. They will perch right on the top of our tall Pacific Northwest trees and look like peculiar Christmas tree toppers. Alien angels. Their bones are lighter than ours, so they can stand on a limb that would not hold me or you.