Quick Health Update

Not a whole lot to report. I've been off the IV antibiotics for a week and off the oral antibiotic since Friday. I've been doing the breathing treatments with the nebulizer, which seem to be doing the trick. The albuterol that I mix the antibiotic in with makes me a bit jittery after the treatment. I discovered that it's similar to adrenaline so that's not much of a surprise. The adrenaline crash is part of the reaction too.

I'm generally feeling like the infection is gone. I still cough up a little stuff but it's not menacing like before. I didn't feel great this afternoon - kind of full, bloated and uncomfortable after my afternoon smoothie. I think maybe it's too big. I also had a long couple days at work so I was just generally kind of wiped out.

I started tracking my diet last week using a website called FitDay. By late afternoon the first day I was only up to 1250 calories and got disheartened and quit tracking. I still need to get back to the gym. It's tough to do when one doesn't have any energy reserves at the end of the day, but I know it'll help my lungs and my appetite both.

Quality Time With Grandma Jean

Grandma Jean, my mom's mom, has been visiting from Florida for about a week and a half. She leaves tomorrow to return home. We've been having a good time and I took a couple days off last week to hang out with her. Some of the highlights include:

  • Eating at both my favorite breakfast places (Rudy's and Crème de la Crêpe)
  • Selecting pictures from Grandma Grace's 100th birthday party for a collage (seen at the end of this post)
  • Watching classic family favorites like It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World and The Princess Bride
  • Greek food at George's Greek Cafe in Long Beach (The roasted shoulder of lamb special on Friday nights is the best lamb and some of the best meat I've ever eaten)
  • And lots of Pinochle!

It's been a fun week and a half and I'll be sad to see her leave. I'm already planning my next trip out to Florida - hopefully around November.

Long-Term Treatment

As of today, I finished the IV antibiotics and started the nebulized (inhaled) antibiotics, which will be a long-term thing. I finish the oral antibiotics Friday. The intent is that whatever the IV and oral didn't kill off, the nebulizer will keep suppressed. I am, quite honestly, glad to be done with both the oral and the IV antibiotics. The oral are starting to bother my stomach and the PICC line is often itchy. I feel much better than a month ago and can only hope that the nebulizer does the trick.

On another note, I did a bit of Googling and discovered that Vita-Mix offers a medical needs program. I called to confirm and found that it was indeed true - all you need is a note with affirmation of medical necessity from your doctor. Considering I've lost 1/3 of my body weight since I was "healthy," I certainly think I qualify, and my immunologist agreed to write the note for me. Some might wonder if a Vita-Mix is simply overpriced hype. I was certainly skeptical until I used my grandma's. It blew every other blender out of the water - and it's about 20 years old. When I made smoothies, it even pulverized the berry seeds (which unlocks the nutrients within). I'm confident that it will be a big help toward returning to a healthy weight.

I've been a slacker and haven't kept a dietary journal. I'll start this week.

Greener Pastures

This post is a response to Laura's post entitled "What should we mean by 'greener pastures'?" on her ecclesiology blog.

In essence, Laura states that there are five areas of needs that must be met to one degree or another, depending on the individual:

  • Adequate Resources
  • Adequate Social Space
  • Encourage and Equip My Calling
  • Fit My Worldview
  • Accurate Assessment of My Worth

If one or more of these needs is inadequately met, one may feel the emotional pull to seek out "greener pastures," or a body of believers that will better meet their needs.

As someone who has lately been experiencing these emotions, I know it is easy to become torn. I don't want to "jump ship" simply because something else might be better, but I also don't want to settle for less than satisfactory in any of the areas mentioned. There is also the fear of the unknown and the comfort of the familiar that hinders me from making a decision. As it stands, my current faith community, TFB, falls short in the "Adequate Social Space" category and, to a lesser degree, in the "Accurate Assessment of My Worth" category.

I enjoy and treasure the relationships that I have at TFB, but something is still missing. I am the only person in my mid-to-late-20s in the entire community, and something I miss from college is being around a large number of peers and interacting with people who shared not only age but interests and station in life. There is also the fact that I would like to get married to a well-rooted Christian woman and raise a family someday. This would become more likely if I regularly related with single Christian women approximately my age.

I also feel that modern Christianity (and not just TFB) has a bit of a stigma, whereas people are not "grown-up" until they get married. This causes people who choose to be single or who have long graduated college but not yet found the right person to be stuck in limbo. One one hand, this is where I feel like I am. On the other hand, I serve in three distinct capacities at TFB - I am on the CE committee, I am a leader and co-founder of the Sanctify! ministry, and I play bass for the worship band (although I have been on hiatus lately while tending to my health issues) and feel that I have been called to serve in these capacities. It would be difficult to give them up.

From my perspective, my options are:

  • Remain where I am and do nothing different, slightly dissatisfied but not disgruntled
  • Leave TFB completely and find a new body with which to worship
  • Remain in some capacities at TFB, but find something like a para-church organization to be part of
  • Remain at TFB and commit to either building a strong population of 20-somethings at TFB or expanding Sanctify! beyond TFB

Aside from the first, all will take some work, growth, and discomfort. The fourth is the most lofty but is also very appealing if it comes to fruition to the degree I envision and dream

I must prayerfully consider all my options. This is something I don't want to rush or make the wrong decision. Feedback is not only welcome but requested.

A Visit to the Nutritionist

This afternoon, I had my appointment with the nutritionist that my pulmonary doctor referred me to. The big takeaways were (a) I REALLY need to be snacking between meals, preferably a couple hours before the next meal, and (b) it takes 3500 extra calories to gain one pound. Some ideas she gave me for good, high-calorie snacks:

  • Nuts (850 calories per cup)
  • Dried fruit (400 calories per cup)
  • Avocado Italian style - mashed (250 calories) with salt and olive oil (125 calories per tablespoon)
  • Nutrition drinks - I've had Ensure and it's nasty after a while, but there are other brands
  • Adding extra cheese or dressing to stuff I'm eating anyway

I definitely got a vibe of sincerity and genuine concern from her as I unfolded my last several years of health history. She not only understood but also emphasized the importance of maintaining a healthy weight in order to support the immune system and better fight disease. The trick, she says, is to change your habits and routines so they become part of your lifestyle - I may even need to go as far as to set an alarm to remind myself to eat every couple hours (this seems obvious when someone says they want to gain weight, but I have never been one to eat just for its own sake - I eat when I'm hungry).

Beginning tomorrow, I'm going to keep track of what I eat and weigh in every week so I can have an idea of what works and doesn't. I am not sure that I am ready to share my weight yet - suffice it to say that I am profoundly underweight.

Haiku 7/11/09

greek fest for dinner
kebab, beer, dessert, coffee
fun with mom and pop

Ongoing Treatment

After being off the IV antibiotics for only a few days, I felt myself getting slightly worse. I saw the doctor this morning who was not hesitant to put me on another two weeks. The plan is to continue with both the oral and IV antibiotics for another two weeks, and then move to an inhaled antibiotic that will be taken with a nebulizer. This will be a long-term treatment. The doctor said that pseudomonas is remarkably hard to wipe out completely as not all the individual bacteria are exact clones. Some are slightly different (and resistant). Thus the multi-pronged approach. I really hope that this course of treatment does indeed offer some long-term relief - I have grown weary of being acutely sick. I continue to try to remain upbeat and hopeful.

June 2009 Budget Update & Mid-year Analysis

In general, I did well keeping to my budgeted amounts in June. It was a rough month health-wise so between office visits, prescriptions, and my massage, my expenses there went over. I also bought a GPS system for my bike, which I categorized as auto but should probably go in misc or bike. Auto is more for maintenance and gas. My spending money came in under budget, primarily because I was sick for a week and a half and didn't leave the house for much of anything and didn't go to the cafeteria at work.

Now, on to the 6-month check-up since I began budgeting/tracking expenditures. My spending money category is good - my average is slightly over my intended $15/day. My medical allotment is low - I've budgeted $2/day and it has been more like $3/day (chiropractic and massages figured separately - those are very controllable). The "miscellaneous" category is interesting. I've bought a fair number of medium-to-big-ticket items:

  • Microwave
  • Projector bulb
  • Car seat re-upholstery
  • Timing belt repair
  • Motorcycle
  • Motorcycle safety gear
  • Mattress
  • Motorcycle GPS

I have no regrets about any of the above and can certainly justify each of them to some degree (ok, so the GPS is more of a frivolity than any of the rest of it) but they are also all items that need purchased once every blue moon. I was able to pay for them out of savings or budget surplus (which would otherwise have gone to savings) with the exception of the motorcycle, which I feel I got a fair financing deal on through the BMW dealership. I really don't see myself having a several-hundred dollar unexpected expense every month so I'm going to leave my misc category where it is right now and just see what happens the rest of the year.

Since I have the motorcycle now, I'm very motivated to get it paid off quickly. This should help with frivolous expenditures (mostly buying breakfast and lunch at the cafeteria instead of taking it from home). I'd also like to automate as much as possible. I already have a few things automated but want to explore the capabilities of my ING Direct accounts. I'd also like to go through my stuff and sell or pass on the extraneous junk, as much for de-cluttering sake as anything else. Proceeds will go to the motorcycle loan.