What is a "tiehacker"?

"Tiehacker" is a term originating in the Ozark hills of southern Missouri. It referred to a class of people from WAY back in the hills that made a living cutting trees into ties for the railroad. I first heard the term from my wife shortly after we married. I had been working outside all day and was dirty and stinky. She had learned it from her father, and thought it just meant "a bum". Never having heard it before, I looked it up. Although I am not really a bum, I thought it was interesting, and I do have a life-long love affair going with the Ozark hills, so ... there you have it!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Preparedness: Friendships, health, and wellness

Well, you never know when things will go straight south on you, seemingly in the blink of an eye.

For a few days, I had been feeling a little under the weather; not really sick, but not 100%, either. But, after my normal weekend off, I went to work Monday night like usual. About 4 am, I began really feeling crappy, but I assumed it was just from being tired, and readjusting to working all night after a couple nights off. Not unusual for Monday nights . But about 5 am, I spiked a fever and became delirious, according to the guys I was working with at that moment. They got my on-site supervisor to our location, and he got me out of the van and back to the office. My wife was called, and she had my brother-in-law lead her to the East St. Louis railroad yard where I work. (She had never been there; I had always discouraged that due to the really bad neighborhood surrounding it.) By that time, the railroad nurse had shown up, and determined that my fever was 104.4. She gave me a couple of Tylenol. They were going to call an ambulance for me, but my wife agreed to take me straight to the hospital.

We got to St. Anthony's Hospital about 7 am Tuesday, and my fever was down to 102, and an hour or so later was below 100. They did some fast talking and convinced me to spend the night, so I could get some IV antibiotics and fluids into me, and some rest. That one night turned into two nights, but they finally let me out yesterday (Thursday) afternoon. I had been pumped full of several different powerful antibiotics, plus several bags of saline. I was initially diagnosed as having pneumonia, but after a chest X-ray, a CT scan, and several blood tests, that was changed to a bad upper respiratory infection.

At home now, I am on orders to rest, and have two different oral antibiotics plus a third one via a nebulizer/inhalation machine.

One truly positive takeaway form this is that since the hospital is a strict no-smoking zone, I was put on a nicotine patch, and that seems to have done a great deal to help me with my smoking addiction. I went two and a half days smoke free. I can't say that I have stuck with that completely, but I can say that from two packs per day I am down to less than half a pack per day, and I foresee being able to quit completely in the near future.

It was good to have my wife by my side throughout; she only left my hospital room to go home and take care of our dogs and run errands; she was right there with me otherwise. What a wonderful woman I am blessed with!

My best friend was in and out several times. A good friend and a Godly man. And, a couple of other really good friends from way back showed up. Also Godly men. The interesting thing about friends like that is that although we hadn't seen each other in several years, just staying in touch via Facebook, when they made their (separate) appearances, it was like we had just seen each other the day before, without a trace of awkwardness. That is a hallmark of a true friendship.

This episode has really impressed upon me the importance of regaining and then maintaining the highest level of health and fitness possible. If I had been truly healthy and in good shape, I might have avoided this all completely, or at worst just been temporarily staggered by it. But because I had let my physical fitness level get so bad, this could have literally killed me if proper, prompt, and efficient treatment wasn't available. What would have happened had it occurred during a grid-down situation?

From painful personal first-had experience, I can tell you that a true "prepper" needs to work on his/her personal preps, meaning health and fitness levels, and solid friendships, with the "beans, bullets, and band-aids" as next-tier projects.

And, most importantly, one's "preps" need to address one's relationship with the Savior. Death can be right around the corner, and it would be the height of folly to be caught unprepared for THAT.

That's enough for now.

God bless!
Ron (and the Debster)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Health and weight loss

So many things going on, it's been hard to decide what to write about. With the onset of winter weather, the rioting and nonsense related to the Ferguson, MO mess in August died down a great deal. But I can't help wondering what will happen once warm weather returns. Might be an "interesting" spring & summer. 

The Debster is doing better and better. She is driving again, for the first time in almost a year. Hooray! And, as she becomes more and more mobile, her self-confidence and attitude about herself have started perking up. Triple-hooray!

My own issues remain. The leg has pretty much healed up, but the other problems still exist. The hematologist has had me undergoing a weekly phlebotomy (blood-draw) to get my hemoglobin count down. I normally don't have a problem with needle-sticks, but those things they use for drawing off entire units of blood aren't needles, they are more like sharpened hollow pencils. At least that's what it feels like going into the bend of my elbow.

The metformin that the doctor has me on to help control my blood sugar was rough on me, to begin with. The literature warned of the side effects, and they weren't kidding. For the first week or so, I was afraid to get more than a few steps away from the bathroom. Wow. Sure am glad that has faded away.

One positive is that because of the changes I've had to make to my diet, I have begun to lose weight. As of about 2 weeks ago, I had lost 6 pounds, and I'm pretty sure that I've lost a few more since then. I don't have a scale at home, though. Just going by the one in the doctor's office. I refuse to obsess over this. I know that I need to lose a LOT of weight. Really. A LOT. Like about one hundred thirty pounds, at least. One fifty wouldn't be out of bounds. But, thinking in terms of those kinds of numbers is guaranteed to only cause despair. So, my goal is to lose FIVE pounds. Once that is gone, then ANOTHER five pounds. It is much easier to think in those terms.

At this point, systematic exercise is difficult for me. I am so heavy that it doesn't take much at all to get me out of breath and my heart pounding. But I know that as the weight comes down, I'll be able to do a little more, and then yet a little more, and so on. And, as the exercise rate increases, so will the weight loss. That is a spiral that is the opposite of vicious! I will say, that even when I was young and fit, systematic exercise bored me to tears. I tended to keep fit by normal but strenuous physical activity, like hiking, wood-cutting, running up and down stairs instead of walking, playing sports, stuff like that. And I suspect the same will happen now. Just looking at a barbell makes me want to run the other way, but I have been eyeing my shovel and spade and garden space a lot lately. That kind of thing.

There were other things I wanted to talk about, like the garden I want to put in, my desire to get into woodworking using only hand-tools, getting ready for the fishing season, and so on. But this has gone on long enough; I'll save those for another time.

God Bless!
Ron (and the Debster)