I’ve had it with COVID!!!

Despite the epidemic, life was moving along just fine without too many hitches, when the Outdoors Guy was suddenly not feeling well. A couple days later, I was right there with him.
We both got tested for COVID. He was positive. I was negative. That was on a Friday. A couple days later, I still wasn’t feeling well and went for another COVID test. This time, it came back positive.
We’re not sure if our son, Evan, gave us the virus after going to a Brewers game the previous weekend with his wife, Annie and daughter, Ady, although, they did wear masks the entire time. Or, if Bob picked it up somewhere throughout his travels and gave it to me, Evan and family.
Evan was probably the sickest. And although neither The Outdoors Guy nor I got deathly sick, we were both miserable for a number of days. Annie did OK and Ady (almost 10) only had a sore throat. What’s so strange is we all previously had our COVID vaccines AND boosters. In fact, I had my second booster four days before I was diagnosed. Go figure!
I recently read Dr. Frank Bures’ column, Health Hints* in the La Crosse Tribune that those who had a more mild form of COVID, where they didn’t need to be hospitalized, may have long-term effects from the disease. Oh, goody! As if being 65+ isn’t enough fun, another dimension has been added to our merriment!
The mild COVID group here showed thinning in several brain regions, ranging from 0.2% to 2% compared to their pre-COVID scan. This is equivalent to 1-6 years of normal brain aging.
For comparison, the scientists were able to find a small number of volunteers’ scans after non-COVID-19 pneumonia. They did not have the same changes, implying Covid patients’ alterations were from COVID specifically. Brain volume decreases are common to many brain diseases and are found in depression, Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive disease and traumatic brain injury. These patients also have problems with memory and attention deficits.
According to Bures, “Affected brain regions included parahippocampal, an area related to memory and the orbitofrontal cortex, an area affecting taste and smell. They had altered connections between different brain regions in the olfactory cortex, an area related to smell. The brain-size reduction related to post-COVID patients showed greater decrease in whole brain volume and increase in cerebrospinal fluid volume.
“Both groups took some rudimentary cognitive or thinking tests. The COVID group had greater decline in the ability to perform complex tasks, which on brain scans was associated with atrophy or thinning in the crus II, an area of the cerebellum (lower brain) an area associated with cognition or attention and mental flexibility.”
It is an interesting study. However, the authors also speculated these brain changes could be “related to brain diseases found in depression, Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive disease and traumatic brain injury.
As with any study, and especially one of such uncharted territory, the authors explained that the changes could also be from inflammation or immune reactions, direct viral infection of nerve cells, or degeneration of those nerves.”
Dr. Bures wrote, “The long term implications and predictions of and from these data are impossible to make at this time.’
My question: Should we who have had COVID be concerned or move forward and live our lives to the best of our ability? I vote for option 2!
After all, according to the National Institute of Mental Health: The brains of people who experience depression or anxiety may age more quickly than other people. And researchers in a new study say this increases their odds of developing dementia.”
Keep in mind: This is just another study that likely had its limitations, too!
* Comments taken from La Crosse Tribune’s Dr. Frank Bures’ column “Healthful Hints” Sunday, May 4, 2022

A day of sadness becomes a yearly celebration of joy!!!

Seven years ago today, May 8, 2015, The Outdoors Guy was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The day was like a nightmare we feared would not end well.
I noticed his yellow skin early that morning and asked, “What is going on with you?” Even the whites of his eyes were yellow.
I told him he needed to go to the doctor NOW!! He left for Mayo Clinic in Onalaska shortly thereafter. Within 45 minutes, he called, “Can you be ready for me to pick you up in a few minutes? I have to go to the main clinic for a CT scan.”
We were both quiet on the drive. Although, like me, I knew his brain was swirling with questions and what news we would receive.
The scan was fairly quick. Then his doctor called to give us his diagnosis: pancreatic cancer. Our world as we knew it was crashing down around us.
Back home, we tried talking through his possible options, called our family and then spend a sleepless night with lots of tears.
We had recently celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary. Would we see No. 44… together?
Monday finally came. He was scheduled for an ERCP (Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) to diagnose if the tumor was cancerous. It was determined the medium-sized tumor was in the pancreas.
Mid-May we met with doctors at Mayo Clinic-Rochester. They explained pancreatic cancer patients are now treated with chemo first to shrink the tumor. Then surgery follows. Dr, Chari said the success rate has been very good. He said what The Outdoors Guy had going for him was his positive outlook, his otherwise good health, being active and having a strong faith.
Doctors now begin with the strongest dose of chemo, shrink the tumor to a more manageable size for surgical removal, and then do another round of chemo. The success rate has been very good.
I told The Outdoors Guy on the way home that day, "This is not going to be a sprint. It’s going to be a marathon.”
On May 20, 2015, we met with Bob’s surgeon, Dr. Mark Truty in Rochester for the first time. He did an amazing job explaining step by step what they would be doing to treat Bob and why.
His chemo treatments began in June 2015 after his bilirubin was down. It went well for the most part.
If you stayed informed through his chronology on my blog, you may recall he was diagnosed May 8, 2015, and beginning June 15, he endured 37 rounds of chemo, 25 radiation treatments and major surgery. He also weathered many ups and downs along the way.
In 2015, our family and The Chemo King wondered if he would be here to celebrate another Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, birthday or wedding anniversary.
Seven years later, he is among only 2% of the population to have survived more than two years with a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.
And, we have celebrated many more of the above special occasions, including the marriage of our youngest, Evan, to Annie in 2019 and our 50th wedding anniversary April 10th of this year.
We have also met our youngest grandchild, Evan’s Ady and love getting to know her better every day. We’ve watched Jon and Sara’s two sons, Jackson and Bryson, grow into fine young men! We have much to be thankful for and much to look forward to!!!
Happy Anniversary, Ted!!! (short for Teddy Bear!!! - my nickname for Bob!)


The Doxology  
Thomas Ken

Time ‘flies’ when you’re havin’ fun

Once a week, usually Thursday, The Outdoors Guy and I go out for dinner.
One week he chooses the restaurant and the next week it’s my turn.
This past week, he chose a favorite local spot. We decided to dine on the patio after a staff member assured us the mosquitoes hadn’t been bad.
The couple at the next table left shortly thereafter, but soon another couple was seated behind The Outdoors Guy.
We were having a pleasant evening until an unwanted guest joined our twosome. I looked at The Outdoors Guy and, WHAM! I hit the side of his head with the palm of my hand. A fly, not a mosquito, had decided to join our party of two. Of course, I missed the fly. But within a few seconds, I said, “He’s baaaack!!!!” WHAM! I hit again… and missed …again! Arggghhh!
But at the same moment, my eyes shifted. I immediately realized the new couple saw me whack Bob on his head. Yet, they didn’t know why. They couldn’t see the fly because Bob’s back was to them.
EEEKKK!!! They looked troubled for a split second until I said…”a fly!” Then The Outdoors Guy, not yet seeing their faces spoke up loud and clear…”Spousal abuse,” he cried. At that point we all started laughing.
The third time was a charm. The fly made the mistake of landing on The Outdoors Guy’s upper arm where there was enough real estate so I could get a good hit. I also had no concern for causing him brain damage…lol! So, I landed a resounding WHAM!!! The fly landed on the patio. We, along with the other couple, cheered! The fly crawled around on the ground, obviously disabled, until I put it out of it’s misery.
As we left, I told The Outdoors Guy the fly obviously liked his cologne. He begged to differ and explained it had to be his magnetic personality. I, however countered with, “I think it picked up on the fish scent from your earlier trip to the boathouse!!”
I had hit upon a reason he couldn’t dispute!!! But, we also determined there will be no more patio dining for this couple!

Tough… yet gentle

This time of the year, The Outdoors Guy loves to have a front row seat, by way of his computer, to the Minnesota DNR eagle cam.
Since early February, he’s had his own eagle-eye on the nest, watching and waiting for the eagles to arrive.
When they did, he announced their arrival with a hardy, “The eagles are here!” It was as if he was telling me friends had arrived for dinner!
For a number of years we watched the Decorah, Iowa Raptors Resource eagles. However, that nest is deserted. There is a Decorah North cam, but The Outdoors Guy has been tuned to the Minnesota DNR Nongame Wildlife EagleCam instead. You can, too, by logging onto  https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/features/webcams/eaglecam/index.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.
Saturday, Feb. 12, the female eagle, named Nancy, laid her first egg shortly after 5 p.m. The Outdoors Guy called me to his study so I could see it. Then, on Tuesday, Feb. 15, she laid her second egg about 2 p.m. We are waiting to see if a third egg arrives. Although Nancy raised two offspring last year, eagles can lay up to three eggs.
There have been some challenges weather-wise for mama eagle. Snow and high winds have been the two biggest trials. Yet, she remains stalwart in nature’s duties set before her.
Another reason the Outdoors Guy loves watching mama eagle is because she reminds him of his dad, Ray. Eagles are tough and rugged, yet gentle!
If you watch mama eagle tenderly turn her eggs in the nest bole, it seems those long, strong talons would destroy the delicate eggs. Yes, she is strong, but ever-so gentle in her motherly duties.
In comparison, The Outdoors Guy’s father was a rough and tough kind of guy. Ray was a welder. He worked hard… played hard, too.
Yet, Ray could be soft-spoken and gentle in some of his ways. It was especially evident on summer days when I looked out the kitchen window and saw “Grandpa” coming to the back door. He walked ever-so-gingerly while cradling a bouquet of fresh flowers from his garden, or a loaf of his homemade baked bread. Then, he ever-so-tenderly delivered them along with a pleasant visit. Those memories are like short videos playing in my mind... recollections I’ll always cherish.
May God care for the eagles as they follow His plan. And may we never forget the tenderness and loving acts of our loved ones who also cared for us like mama eagles… tough, yet gentle!!!

Big wheels rollin’

Monday of this week, The Outdoors Guy and I traveled to Mayo Clinic-Rochester to have my cochlear implant re-progammed.
My implant surgery took place a year ago in May. It is normal for the brain to take about one year to adapt to the device. In the beginning, men’s voices were gruff and women’s voices sounded like Mini-Mouse!
I am fortunate because voices began to sound normal to me after about six months. Now, with the implant, my hearing is totally normal.
The testing went well. I am at or above the levels the staff likes to see at the one-year anniversary.
The drive home… well… that was another story. The Outdoors Guy and I had a heart-stopping experience.
We were eastbound on I-90, about 20 minutes into our return trip to La Crosse, following a semi, who was a ways ahead of us. Traveling at about 75 mph, Bob pulled out to pass.
Suddenly, the semi had a blowout!! The tire came spinning toward us at a high rate of speed!!! Bob had a split second to decide what to do. Knowing he had to be careful not to go into the median, yet somehow keep us on I-90, he tried to position the Jeep to miss the tire, but it was impossible. The tire crossed the center line and came barreling straight at us!
The tire slammed underneath us with a loud thunk!!! Nonetheless, Bob was able to keep the Jeep under control.
The semi driver pulled over, but it took us about a minute to stop. When we did, we were a ways ahead of the semi. By then, it had also started to rain.
We both got out of our Jeep and looked underneath it as best as we could. We couldn't see any damage, thanks be to God! Still, we were both extremely shook up.
We gathered our senses and continued home, but not before we came across another semi along the highway who also had a blowout. YIKES!
We were never happier to get home!!! When we did, I told Bob, “ I guess our expiration date isn't up yet!!” We both managed a laugh that was really more a sigh of great relief!!!

“He will cover you with his wings; you will be safe in his care; his faithfulness will protect and defend you.” Psalm 91:4