News, updates, and happenings with the Kragnes family: Phil, our Seeing Eye Dogs, and (me) Rebecca.

Summer Update

I realize I have not written here for a while. It just seems like life is busy, and there’s always something going on.

Phil was in the hospital for 12 days in June. It started as cellulitis, then a bloodstream infection which caused his kidney to think about shutting down. They got the kidney going again with some diuretics which in turn caused a gout flare in Phil’s knee, wrist, and hand. Especially when the kidney was shutting down, life was pretty stressful. I was home with the dogs most of the time except when I could find someone to watch Blake while I went out to do a job like play a wedding or a Mass at church, or go to mental health appointments downtown. I didn’t get to the Malt shop during this period, but luckily they are understanding about my absences.

This past weekend I played for both the Saturday evening and the Sunday morning Masses. Then we had someone over to install a new security system. Finally, I played at the Malt Shop for 3.5 hours, and some friends, including Phil, came for dinner.

I’m looking forward to the Fourth of July. We have plans with a friend to go out to eat and then to come back to the house to watch Bohemian Rhapsody the movie. Later this month, Phil’s sister and her husband are going to camp near our house and spend some time with us. Phil’s also thinking about taking a weekend camping trip in September. I hope he and Blake get to do that, as I know they’ll have lots of fun. I’m into creature comforts, so camping isn’t my thing.

In addition to reading braille books on my note taker, I’ve begun the first draft of a book about Phil and my life and relationship. I’m not in any hurry, but with all that we’ve been through, maybe someone will benefit or at least be entertained by reading our story. I’ve tried to make it easier to write by doing an outline full of notes, but even after doing that, I’ve found I’ve forgotten things. The writing is more daunting than I thought it would be.

While Phil was gone in the hospital, there was a truck in our neighborhood which stirred up the dogs. I was wishing I knew neighbors to ask what was going on, and this motivated me to get on an app called Next Door and find and write to a few neighbors on my block. Some of them were kind enough to give me their cell phone numbers, so I could call or text if I had a question about something happening on our block. One neighbor is coming over to introduce herself today. I’m glad I took the time to reach out to people on our block. The neighbors on either side of us don’t speak English well, and in one case, they’re afraid of dogs. These have been barriers to getting to know them well.

I’d better close, because a certain Yellow Lab is going to want dinner soon.


March Update

I just realized I haven’t brought my blog followers up to date on what’s been happening in the Kragnes household. The year 2019 has not gotten off to a rip-roaring good time here. Phil was in the hospital in January for gout in his shoulder. Then in early February he went in for Influenza, and I got a strong case of it as well. I haven’t been that sick in a long time. Trying to care for the dogs while that sick was a challenge., and I had to miss quite a few of my own appointments and engagements due to needing to watch Blake for Phil, who doesn’t want him left alone. We were still getting over that when Phil went into the hospital for a third time for gout in his left hand. He’s now on prevention meds, but his left hand still hurts once in a while.

Then all the coughing from the Influenza set off the nerve in his back. Hes going to be sedated next Wednesday for a full cortisone injection. The last time they tried doing it with Phil awake, they couldn’t do the whole thing, because it caused Phil so much pain as it was happening. That was back in November.

I bought a new notetaker at the end of December. I had it for a couple weeks in January before it had to be sent back due to a malfunction. In Mid-February I got a replacement, and although there are some little things about which I have questions, it’s working fairly well. I’m reading the Harry Putter books in braille on it right now, and I hope to use it to write a book about our lives and the things we’ve been through as a couple.

On top of everything else, we’ve had the snowiest February on record, and March is supposed to be our snowiest month. In between snowfalls, it turned bitterly cold with temperatures way below zero. We have just recovered from another one of those cold spells, and tomorrow there’s another winter storm warning in effect.

After Phil got home from the shoulder gout and before we got sick, our email company folded, and our addresses no longer received new messages. We had to set up gmail accounts and then change all of our email addresses on all of our various accounts. I still don’t know if I’ve gotten all mine changed, but I think so.

We’re starting another Lent, and for me that means Friday nights are more playing at church for the Stations of the Cross. Next Saturday we go do our taxes which of course won’t be a lot of fun either. My depression hasn’t let up through all of these mostly-downs at our house, and Phil is also dealing with little and big frustrations from expectations of our snow shoveler to clips not coming off of the knives he’s started to collect.

We’re going to have a Leaf-filter put on our gutters toward the end of this month, but before then, we hope the thaw will be gentle, as all that ‘snow has made ice dams on our roof. There’s only been one year we’ve had water come in the house, and that’s a statistic I’d like to keep right where it is. Phil did some reading on whether to pay someone to use a roof rake to get the snow off of our roof to prevent water from coming in. But the article said doing so could damage our roof in the process.

The dogs remain healthy, although we need to get their nails clipped in a bad way! They seem mostly happy, and we’ve reconciled to letting Lancer on the couch where he loves to sleep.

Speaking of the dogs, it’s time to go feed Lancer, so I’ll close.

No apostrophe!

An observant and helpful friend told me my email address contained an apostrophe when I sent it to this blog. Of course it all sounded the same to me. So, let’s try this again. my address is

In one day — that would be yesterday — I had my brand spanking new notetaker break down, found out I had to send it back to the company, and learned my old email address I’ve had for 18 years is probably a thing of the past. The email providers’ phones were out of service, and I could not send or receive from anymore. So now I have a brand spanking new email address to share with you all. You can email rjkr’ if you need to be in touch with me. I’m changing it everywhere I can think to change it, and some transitions are definitely easier than others. My biggest issue seems to be getting rid of the old address, but that’s not exactly my problem if sites don’t have an easy way to do this. WordpPress made it easy, so kudos for them! I’ve resigned myself to no longer receiving some emails I used to get every day due to not being able to find the sites and having some sites make it too difficult to resubscribe under a new address. I’ve spent a whole morning on this project, and I have a feeling I’m not done yet.

Kragnes Kard or Kragnes Karol

To the Tune of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Last year we spent a hospital Christmas.

Ambulance and All.

This year two more ambulances came to call.

Had six total hospitalizations.

Blake and Lancer stayed,

With Rebecca at home where they pooped and played.

There we were with Phil’s Sepsis and Phil’s leg pain and more.

Can’t remember what all of those,

Visits in the rows,

Were For.

Throughout this we all remained together,

Though the stress was high.

Phil’s nerve pain in back and hip and leg and thigh

But Phil’s health marked this year as it went racing by.

Through the year between hospital visits,

There was normal life,

For the dogs and Phil and don’t forget his wife.

Presentations meetings coding working,

Software to install,

At work Blake was happy when they threw his ball.

While at home the weekdays were fulfilling,

Various Household tasks

,Lancer knew for scratches he just had to ask.

But on weekends piano playing at church and the restaurant.

It was Lancer people thought of,

Getting all the love,

he’d want.

As we gather at this Christmas season,

It’s a peaceful scene.

Fireplace and the beds the dogs will go between.

So Merry Christmas, happy two thousand nineteen.

August Update

Today was supposed to be the day our concrete work got started after delaying the original date of Monday the 27th. We weren’t too impressed when nobody showed up or called until Phil left voice mail after ten this morning. Now the concrete work has been delayed until next Tuesday September 4. I can understand not wanting to start tomorrow and then leaving us with three days of lack of access to one of our exits. I just wish they’d called to let us know. The owner of the company did call and apologized which helped.

I haven’t written much here, because there just hasn’t been much beyond the norm of doing laundry during the week and busy weekends at church and the Malt Shop. My depression continues to plague me, and friends are noticing that I’m quieter than usual. I don’t laugh as readily and always seem to be tired.

We’re holding our breath and hope to make it through August without a hospitalization for Phil.. It will be the first since March with no hospitalizations. When Phil is hospitalized everything stops as I manage both dogs or look for someone to watch Blake while Lancer and I go do our work. Then there’s the stress of worrying about Phil and his care. Hospital doctors don’t always listen to him, and that has meant over-hydration and subsequent puffiness and weight gain. The fluids overwhelm the kidney.

Phil is having an angiogram on the 12th of October. There’s always a bit of risk to the kidney with this procedure, but doctors feel they can manage it OK

I’ve found myself receiving a lot of e-mail I just don’t need anymore. Almost every day for the last two weeks, I’ve unsubscribed from some list or other. I have no idea how I got on some of these lists, but I definitely want less e-mail in my life — particularly from lists.

The dogs are doing fine. Blake and Phil are riding with a friend to and from work, until Phil feels ready to walk the five blocks to the bus. At least hes able to do most things around the house now without being on his knees and wearing knee pads. For the first week home from his last hospitalization, knee pads were the norm. This is because the right prosthetic didn’t fit do to swelling.

Phil is taking some much deserved vacation, which he was hoping to use for being here for concrete work. He has had to take a lot of sick time the last few months so hasn’t felt taking vacation was worth getting even more behind at work. He maxes out on vacation often, but the sick time has been a lot between all of the hospitalizations and time home afterward.

The dogs are starting to sing their chorus which means it’s time to feed and relieve them. I’d better go take care of it.

It seems like I’ve been doing the same old, same old, so there hasn’t been too much to report, until now.

We’ve had an ongoing problem with neighbors parking their vehicles in our driveway. It becomes an issue when taking out garbage or recycles. Our hands are full, and we’re not using a cane or dog on our own property. Then Bam! We run into an unexpected parked vehicle. We’ve asked and asked people to move. What if we wanted to use our own space for friends who visit? This week Phil got a “No Parking” sign to put in our driveway. We didn’t get one that said we’d tow vehicles but I think it’s a logical next step if they ignore our sign.

I also learned that at the end of this month, the radio station on which I broadcast is shutting down. I’ve been getting tired of broadcasting when not many listen. I value those that do, and I was told by one listener that my shows would be missed. Although it was nice to hear, it doesn’t motivate me to apply at other stations. I think I need a long break if not a permanent exit from broadcasting. I mainly did it as a ministry anyway, and it’s difficult to persuade most stations to have another Christian program.

My music buying habits are changing with the Amazon Echo and it’s music service. I can now hear anything I want on the Echo or my phone, so I’m not buying that many albums anymore.

With Daylight Savings Time upon us, spring can’t be too far behind. I look forward to walking on sidewalks and not worrying about who has and has not shoveled. We have a friend who does a great job on ours. I wish everyone was as conscientious as he is about keeping ice and snow to a minimum.

With spring comes taxes, and we’re taking care of that this weekend. Phil has the day off Friday, so he took a vacation day Thursday to have a long weekend. He’s basically healthy, except he has this ongoing stomach issue. He knows what medication will fix it, but the doctors are insisting on a hydrogen test before they will prescribe the medicine. That test isn’t scheduled until April 27. In the meantime, Phil has all kinds of presentations at work, so hopefully the stomach issue won’t reek havoc with those.

I’m still playing at church and the Malt Shop on weekends. Right now I’m earning extra money doing the music for Stations of the Cross during Lent. During the week, I have laundry and other household things that keep me busy. I am trying to be more social by talking on the phone, and hopefully meeting people when the snow and ice goes away. The depression has resulted in social anxiety, so doing these things is a little harder than it sounds.

I’ve been reading lots of fabulous books both for the book club over the phone and just for myself. I am so grateful to live in a time where we have such great access to books both at the National Library Service and on Bookshare. Some people have Audible which is a paid service for audio books, but their prices are a little too steep for me.

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