Zanesville, Ohio to Elkhart, Indiana (301 miles)

Andy was up early and anxious to go.  I had stayed up until midnight to take my medicine and was not eager to get out of bed. Nonetheless, we were on the road at 0839.  I took one Imodium for the road.

We zigged and zagged across Ohio and Indiana farm country and a number of small towns. There was a lot of road repair and consequent detours in Lima, Ohio and we got a thorough tour of the city. I love driving on country roads and looking at all the farmhouses and crops.

Andy directed me to a Cracker Barrel restaurant (mostly for the RV parking) for lunch. It was packed and all the rocking chairs out front were filled with people waiting for a table. So I was surprised when they called us in ten or fifteen minutes.

Elkhart, Indiana is the RV capital of the world. There are a large number of RV manufacturers here.  The city hit hard times during the great recession, when people stopped buying RVs. We arrived at the Elkhart Campground at five o’clock.  I immediately took a nap. When I woke up, we took a long walk. The activity tracker says it was five miles, but I can’t believe it.

We are very close to the repair shop where we have an appointment tomorrow. I am ready for some electricity.

 

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Prince Frederick, MD to Zanesville, Ohio (404 miles)

I took some Imodium with my medicine this morning. Getting the motorhome ready for the road went smoothly except the driver’s seat was not working. Why does it have to be electric, anyway?  I can’t slide it forward to drive comfortably.  Barbara put a throw pillow behind my back so I could sit farther forward on the seat and reach the accelerator.  As we were hugging goodbye, my sister Barbara said, “You are the shittiest company we’ve ever had”. I had to admit that she was right. My only retort was that I didn’t have much fun visiting her. We left at 8:58 and I got to honk the extra-loud motorhome horn.

We stopped in Germantown, Maryland to eat and daughter Kathy met us at Wegman’s.  Andy was thrilled to eat a roast beef sandwich.  It was a good stop to see Kathy one more time.  And, the Imodium was not doing its job so I was happy to be there and not driving on the interstate when I needed to make two trips to the ladies room.

Back on I-270, we had terrible traffic.  The road was full of cars and we would go at a crawl for a while, then up to the speed limit for a few miles and then down to a crawl again.  It happened over and over for many miles.  There was not explanation for the bizarre traffic behavior that we could discern. There were several other slow spots, due to road repairs, but we were not in a hurry and did not stress over it.

We had planned to stop for the night at a Cracker Barrel restaurant, but Andy changed his mind and made a reservation at an RV park.  He realized that the refrigerator was not working on the road and we would need to plug into electricity.  When we got here, I realized that the water pump was not working so we needed to be hooked up to city water so we could, most important, flush the toilet. Good call Andy.

We got to Wolfies RV park at 6:53. We ate cheese and crackers for and evening snack.

We Are Getting Closer to Big Creek

I figured out what is wrong with the motorhome.  It is possessed.  By demons.  Or, maybe gremlins. The electricity came back on some time in the night. But then everything went out again about nine in the morning. I made another appointment at the RV repair place in Indiana for Monday.  We are planning to hit the road on Saturday morning.

Here’s the big news.  Maybe.  I called Hugo House editor, Patricia.  She said Big Creek is ready for a copy editor.  They had not called me since I submitted the last draft.  “What?  George didn’t call you?  He must have thought I did.” She said she had a meeting in six minutes, but would call me back later in the day.  She never did. I wasn’t surprised. I call her Dr. Ditz.

Since I changed the dosage on my Vancomycin, I am getting better again.  Now THAT is good news. I have a complicated regimen, changing the dosage and timing gradually over the next several weeks. If that doesn’t do the trick, the next step is “fecal transplant”.  Yep. it’s just what it sounds like.

And, speaking of transplants, my friend Sharon sent me an interesting link:

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/gastroenterology_hepatology/clinical_services/advanced_endoscopy/fecal_transplantation.html

When I read about the obese donor and then the recipient becoming obese, I wondered what other traits and maladies are a result of germs in our guts.  Then Sharon responded:

“My two year-old granddaughter spent the first 18 months of life with severe, open wounds, eczema. After seeing a dozen doctors they determined it was stomach bacteria causing the chronic condition.

Once they got on top of that, she has been so much better and a completely different joyful child.”

I don’t know about you, but I find this fascinating. I hope there is some serious research going on somewhere.  As I told Sharon, it is apparently not all about our genes, but also about our germs.

Daughter Kathy came for another visit.  She brought a Kabocha Squash with her.  She has a plot in a community garden and her next-plot neighbor, and older Asian man, gave it to her.

b Kathy with Kabocha Squash
Kathy with Kabocha Squash

Kathy wanted to smash it onto the driveway, but Andy thought chopping it with a hatchet would be neater. Then, Kathy and I picked out the seeds for planting. It tasted a bit like pumpkin to me.

b Chopping Kabocha Squash
Chopping Kabocha Squash

Andy and I had another exotic (to us) fruit adventure too.  There was a pile of Dragon Fruit just inside the door of the grocery store.  They were so strange and beautiful; we had to try one. Wikepedia has a nice description. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitaya I never would have guessed that it is a cactus!As I mentioned in my last post, I had to Google how to eat it.  First, you slice it in half.

b Dragon Fruit Cut in Half
Dragon Fruit Cut in Half

The tiny seeds are like those in a kiwi.  I scooped out the flesh with a large spoon, cut it into small chunks, and put it them in the shell for serving.

b Dragon Fruit Ready to Eat
Dragon Fruit Ready to Eat

Andy and I were both disappointed.  It was juicy, but very bland.  Hardly any taste at all, certainly not enough for me to describe.

Here is another petunia picture from Sister Barbara’s back deck.

b Purple Petunia
Purple Petunia

 

More Adventures in C-Diff

I called the gastroenterologist’s office this morning and made an appointment with the Physician’s Assistant. They had an opening at 1130. I know I am not supposed to take it but, I was not willing to go out without an Imodium.  I may as well admit it; I have been keeping a poop diary lately, so I took that with me. After she reviewed my chart and the diary, we chatted a bit.  She was surprised at the dosing I’m using for the Vancomycin.  She said it did not agree with Dr. Haque’s notes.  I have been taking 500 mg once a day.  She said I should be taking it every eight hours at this point.  I was certain that I was following the instructions on the prescription package and Andy and I both remembered that one-a-day is what Dr. Haque had said.

She consulted Dr. Haque (somewhere in Scandinavia) and wrote up a new plan for me, but the capsule strength did not match the remaining (very expensive) capsules in have left.  Then she said for me to go home, count up how many doses I had left and call her on the phone.  She would make up a new plan and fax in a new prescription to the pharmacy accordingly.

We took advantage of the Imodium doing its job and had lunch, went to the post office, and back to the hospital to pick up the results from the urine culture from last week. No luck at the hospital.  I wasn’t in the system.  I called the walk-in clinic and was told I had gone to the wrong place at the hospital.  I’ll follow-up on that tomorrow. Our last stop was the grocery store, where, among other things, I bought a Dragon Fruit. It was so strange, we just had to try it.  I Googled how to eat it.

When we got back to the motorhome, there was no electricity.  It was hot and humid. Andy and Tom tried to figure it out.  They found that the back side of the vanity light over the bathroom sink was extremely rusted.  Tom took it down and went to an RV store to buy a replacement.  There is no telling whether that will fix the problem or not.

Stay tuned.

p.s.  I love to write, but never in my wildest dreams did I every imagine I would be writing so much about poop!

 

Negative Progress

It has been three days since I dropped back to taking only one dose of Vancomycin per day (as opposed to every six hours).  Every day I have more bouts of diarrhea, up to six today. I know:  Too much information! At least I haven’t provided you with the poop scores.  Yes, there really is such a thing.  It was on the wall in the gastroenterologist’s office. Here, I found one on the web. By the way, it was amazing what I found when I Googled “stool chart”. I won’t do that again.

The purpose of this chart is to enable patients to talk to their doctor about poop without getting too embarrassed. Just give a number.

But all that is off topic.  I’m getting worse again. The doc is on vacation for three weeks, but I am going to go see whoever is backing him up for advice on what to do now.

Andy and brother-in-law Tom spent a whole morning trying to figure out why the power was off. Tom read the manual for the inverter and tried a “soft reset”.  Nothing happened.  He tried a “hard reset”.  Nothing happened. They gave up.

Andy and I spent a lot of time in Barbara’s house and on the back deck.  It was evening when Andy went to the motorhome for something and found the lights on.  We have no clue what happened.  Everything electrical worked except the stove (which is propane anyway).  The next morning, Andy and Tom were scratching their heads over that.  Tom asked Andy if he had turned the propane off at the tank, but Andy had not.  He took Tom outside to show him the propane tank in a compartment under the motorhome.  Tom asked about a button and Andy showed him that it is the on/off switch, “see? On. Off.” They came back inside and there was gas flowing to the stove and it lit right up. Apparently, there is a relay that shuts off the propane if the power goes off.

Ah, but like the Clostridium Difficile puzzle, there is some negative progress here too.  Tonight, the lights are blinking again.  Tom and Andy decided that it may be a light switch in the bathroom.  They already replaced the ground fault interrupt outlet.

We had planned to start heading west tomorrow, but now are going to stay here a few more days to attend to my medical issues.  See? I can address it delicately.

Clostridium Difficile

It’s been a while since I made a post.  How much is there to say about poop anyway?

I finished my course of Vancomycin every six hours for fourteen days.  I’m better, but not cured. This week, I take one Vancomycin a day.  Next week I’ll take one every other day. The curve-ball came a couple days ago when I suspected a bladder infection (the third one in three months). Red pee was the clue. I asked Dr. O’Connor what to do because I am super leery of antibiotics these days. He recommended going to the doc-in-a-box  for a urine test and a culture (to find out what causing this) and getting an antibiotic prescription for only three days. The doc in the box agreed. He also gave me a big lecture on the overuse of antibiotics and how C-diff is running rampant. He’s preaching to the choir here.

My friend Karen sent me an interesting link to the University of Virginia about a new discovery regarding C-diff.

https://www.news.virginia.edu/content/bad-guy-cells-unexpectedly-prove-vital-stopping-deadly-bug?utm_source=DailyReport&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news

Apparently some of our white blood cells, the ones to blame for asthma and allergies, may be the answer to a cure for C-diff. This sounds better than the “fecal transplant” I read about on the Mayo Clinic web site.

What really got my attention on the UVA article was:

“About one out of seven people with this infection dies in North America.”

and

“There were almost half a million C. difficile infections in the United States in 2011, and more than 29,000 patients died within 30 days of infection, according to a study released last year by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency has classified the bacterium as an “urgent threat,” noting the rise of a new epidemic strain in recent years that has made the infection even deadlier.”

Yikes, maybe I’d better double up on the probiotics!

Just to make life a little more interesting, we are having electrical problems with the motorhome. The lights flickered a few times and then went out completely.  We have no power except for the refrigerator and the microwave.  Only two outlets, next to the bed work.  No air conditioning, no hot water.  No lights, except the one on the microwave. Even the propane stove won’t light.  I can’t figure that one out. The roof vents with fans built into them don’t work. It doesn’t matter whether it is AC or DC. The RV repair place in this part of the state can get to it in five weeks. Andy called around and found a place in Indiana to make the repair. That is on our way to daughter Jennifer’s house.

So, we are going to miss Michigan again this year. We’ll spend its allotted time at the repair shop.

We have not seen the Misovec grandchildren at all.  I can’t visit with Mother Moulton for fear of passing on C-diff; the elderly are more susceptible.  And, we’ve only seen Andy’s brother Paul one time.  We had planned to spend a good bit of quality time with him this year, but it just didn’t work out. I don’t want to give him this bug either. Not seeing my loved ones is a bad side-effect.

Gotta go.