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

Archive for February, 2013

Never mind Camera and action. around here the word is “lights!”

Because of Phil and I getting sick, I haven’t had the opportunity to write about my adventures going to Metro Lighting and Sound on Friday the 15th. The metro Mobility drivers had a hard time finding the place on both trips, and I blocked off too much time to make sure I had enough. Because of the driver problems, I almost didn’t’ make it out of there before they were closing. The sales guy was very nice, but there were a lot fewer choices than I expected. I found something I really liked, but I knew it wouldn’t be quite the same as the light which was shorting. Still I couldn’t wait to see it in action in our living room. The point was moot Friday night when I arrived home and heard Phil’s cough and how badly he was feeling. Then he was off in an ambulance Saturday, and I got sick Saturday night.

This Friday night, he set-up my new light, and though I liked it, it just wasn’t quite as bright and intricate as my first moonflower lamp. Phil knew I was really wrestling with the problem, and both of us agreed that if we took it to an electronics store, they’d rip us off. Phil kept saying that if we lived closer to some of his electronics-loving friends, we’d probably have someone willing to work on it. It occurred to me that perhaps Phil had someone like that in his life and might not know it or think of who it was. Yesterday I asked Phil to put up a post on Facebook asking if any of his friends might be interested in taking a crack at fixing it. A former co-worker — who has moved onto a job outside the University — said he’d be glad to do so. Phil talked to him and told him that he thought it was just a broken wire being trip when the mechanism moved. Within an hour, our friend called back saying Phil was absolutely right and that it was fixed. Within another hour, he dropped the light back at our place, and tonight when I returned home from the Malt shop, Phil had all of my lights set-up and working beautifully! Several are sound-sensitive, so we turned up some loud music to see them work their magic together, and it truly was wonderful! At times like that, I wish Phil could see all that the lights were doing. It’s also very rare that I am enthused about kids, but I bet my nieces and even my teen-ager nephew would probably get a kick out of seeing these lights. As I watch my lights doing their thing, I am a very happy camper!

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Phil released tomorrow. both getting better

As some of you concluded and others heard through other means, I was not able to fight off the illness, and Sunday I was extremely sick. I have felt a little better each day. I wondered whether I had the flu, because on Sunday I had the chills etc., Even by Monday though , I could tell I was better. It ended up being my usual cold and sore throat which used to result in Bronchitis every single time. Now my doctor has me taking things which have resulted in avoiding it the last two times. I had the additional symptom of not desiring to eat and not keeping any food for long when I tried. I’ll spare you those details. It was very hard being ill for days all by myself. Filling the humidifier seemed like a giant chore, because I was so weak. Phil would have a fit if I didn’t do it. I didn’t want to spread the illness and didn’t want my friends to start running away when I called. So I asked for what was absolutely necessary. We were low on toilet paper, and a friend dropped some on the porch for me.

Meanwhile, Phil called me for the first time Monday, but only for about five minutes. Yesterday and today we’ve had progressively longer conversations, and I could hear in his voice that he was getting better. In fact, tomorrow he’s coming home, and I’m excited about that.

Monday night, his doctor called, and she was coughing her head off with a cold herself. In updating me about his progress, she said Phil was concerned about me being sick. She made me promise her that if it got worse the next day, I’d go in. Yes, Phil was still trying to orchestrate things from his hospital bed. It didn’t get worse, but I called my doctor describing my symptoms and telling her I’d been exposed to Influenza Type A. She was pretty sure I didn’t have it from the symptoms, so at least I could give Phil that report. He and I laughed about it, because it’s true that I am always on his case about going to the doctor. It’s also true that I’m resistant to going myself, but had it been spring, summer, or early fall, I would have gotten on a bus and gone. I was afraid that trying it might result in hospitalization because of a fall on snow or ice.

I cancelled just about everything I could to be well enough to play for church tonight. No Malt shop Sunday, no cleaning yesterday, and no meeting friends for lunch today.
I have been drinking plenty of fluids — especially tea. At one of my sickest moments, I ran out of sugar packets and was shocked to open the box and find many shredded packets and sugar all over in the box. I dug down to untouched packets, but I was pretty sure I understood what was happening. A friend came over to help me with something else, and my suspicions were confirmed. Yes, the house mice had been having a sugar fest. What I didn’t think about was the … excrement they left behind. My friend recommended throwing the whole box of packets out, but I didn’t really want to do that without Phil agreeing first. This was a box of 2000 packets of sugar, and there’s at least a third of the box left. I had gotten some of it pretty well by digging to the bottom of the pile, and she said she come back with gloves and help me rescue packets untouched by anything mouse-related. Yet another thing we have to seal up tighter than tight. The traps downstairs are catching them, but we refuse to put any upstairs where they could hurt the dogs.

Anyway, it will be nice to get the household back to normal … just in time for another snowstorm to come in tomorrow night. I have a meeting Friday which will probably be cancelled. Phil already told me that he just can’t go in yet Friday, and I think everyone will appreciate him staying away until he’s ready.

In the hospital w/ Influenza A

For those who don’t know yet, I sent Phil to the hospital in an ambulance Saturday morning. I know he’s in bad shape when he asks me to call an ambulance. He apologized for “throwing away $$$”, but I’d rather have him have help getting where he needs to go. Cultures came back positive for Influenza type A. They are testing for other things, but chances are, that’s what it is.

Garron is at puppy camp. This means Zane and I could play Saturday night Mass and do the Sunday Malt Shop thing.

I have had an increasing sore throat all day and have been drinking water and vitamin drinks like a fish tonight in hopes of heading it off. As my doctor ordered, I start sniffing the steroids tomorrow morning in response to getting the sore throat. As usual, it’s hard to sleep with Phil away, but I should try.

humility and others’ perspectives

Many times my blog entries are about Phil’s health, and in this one, all I have to say is that he had his follow-up test (the TEE I talked about in my last blog), and things look fine. Garron stayed home and lay beside me in bed this morning. He was just as happy to see Phil this afternoon as if they’d been apart for days.

The majority of the entry focuses mostly on the other half of the family — me and Zane. I was given complimentary tickets to an acoustic concert of Christian artists which was also a fundraiser for two ministries for people with disabilities. I asked my friend and canter Gina if she wanted to go, and since it was advertised as having desserts, coffee, hot chocolate, and tea, we stopped and ate some fast food along the way. I guess it was because Zane was in harness that he didn’t bug us for food. I can’t say the same about yesterday when Phil oiled the counters and covered the table with things from the counter. We normally don’t eat in our living room, but Zane was right there when the food was on the TV tray and table on our couch. Phil threatened to make oiling the counters a Super bowl Sunday tradition.

Anyway, the evening gave Gina and me a chance to catch up. Her first child is due in April, and as with a lot of relationships, I’m expecting that her having a kid will probably bring change to our friendship. So this was our special girl time before whatever change may come. Like Phil, Gina’s husband is not a church goer, so sharing this evening was special for both of us on that level too.

It was very nice to get a Braille program, although I could have kicked myself for leaving it behind Afterward. My friends Theresa and Ken Taylor run Seek the Son Ministries. I’ve gone to Ken and Theresa’s for Bible studies, worship services, game nights, social time and combinations of the above. All of the activities are adapted for blind people and those with other disabilities. Blindness and other disabilities affect their entire family, and they’ve done such a beautiful thing in people in the Minnesota disability community for sacred and secular time. Their family is very into beading, and the tables had clear beaded snowflakes to remind us about our uniqueness and colorful beaded roses to remind us that pretty things — like joyful situations — can be accompanied by pain. I brought one of the roses home as a reminder of the evening.

I’m less familiar with Walk Right In Ministries , but it tends to center around parents/caregivers of those with profound disabilities. Although I saw a few of my friends, we sat at a table with a woman who had some pretty profound disabilities. The man with her had to constantly tell her to tone down her voice, and I believe the part of her brain that edited comments before saying them may have been missing. I grew up with a lot of people like this at the school for the blind and used to be so embarrassed. I cringe when I think I may have had a few of these tendencies as an adolescent.

Three musicians featured shared their gifts. Maureen Pranghoffer is a notable song writer, and she and I serve on our library’s advisory committee together. Our Black Labs seem to be buds. Erin Jaimison’s parents run Walk Right In, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her music. She seems pretty young, yet has a lot to say in her writing and performing. I was reminded of my own family when Erin’s sister Alex harmonized with her during some songs. Ginny Owens was the most famous performer on the program. Like Maureen, she is blind and on Seek the Son’s board of directors. Ginny has six or seven albums (all of which I own) and has won several Dove Awards — the Christian equivalent of the Grammies.

After the program, I introduced Gina to the iPhone Game Hanging with Friends while we waited for the crowd to thin out a little. Then we talked to Ken and Theresa for a few minutes. Ginny was really busy with the crowds, so I was hesitant to take any of her time. I also found myself having a weird combination of shyness and not wanting to be one of those overwhelming talkers. She was surprisingly enthusiastic when I told her I was a secular solo pianist. She seemed to understand the dilemma I had — that my genre is called New Age which scares away Christians who think that’s my religion. She was so sweet to talk to and loved on Zane a little.

When I returned home, I walked in the door and discovered three things almost simultaneously. I was scared when Phil didn’t answer me, and it turns out he was reading an audio book and didn’t hear me. He apparently had a similar moment earlier in the evening. The house was redolent with onions and meat. After talking to Phil, I learned that he didn’t realize Zane and I were gone until he was halfway through preparing dinner. He was sleeping when we left, and I didn’t think to remind him about our trip. The good news is that I have a wonderful onion, pork, BBQ sauce, pasta dish for lunch tomorrow.

Then — and to my horror –, I found a big old ragged rip in my favorite emerald green sweater I’d worn all evening in the middle of the chest area that just about lined up with my bra! Gina doesn’t really notice stuff like that, and I hope no one else did either. The good news was that I was wearing a white lanyard and clasp holding my iPhone which probably covered and/or blended most of it. Because of my own disability, I tend to try to avoid situations like that, and when it’s a favorite piece of clothing, it not only brings out my vulnerability but also my materialism. I don’t think I am materialistic like needing to keep up with the Joneses. But when something that brings me joy is no longer in good shape, there’s a grieving which probably is more shallow than I’d like to acknowledge. I recently replaced my worn-out talking book player, and I’m dying to replace my favorite colored light with the short. I guess these were a couple of reminders to try to instill some humility and remind me to consider the perspectives of others.

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