In which Wren gripes, then updates news

Hi, friends!

Pardon me for not posting recently, but nothing much has changed on my personal RA/hip bursitis front. Seems like each time I start to write, I just end up spewing a load of whiney angst and helpless aggravation. Cathartic to write, no doubt, but utterly brain-numbing to read.


That said, allow me to complain about a different subject entirely. (Disclaimer: As a former graphic designer and newspaper editor, I have a few pet peeves when it comes to publication design and style. I cannot help myself … )

Many websites (almost all of them with a white background) not only indent quoted material but also change the quote’s font color to a very pale gray, presumably to make the quote stand out from the rest of the text.

I wear glasses to correct my vision, which is slowly deteriorating year by year. Reading that pale gray text on a white background drives me bats–t! I have to put my nose to the screen just to see the words, let alone read them. Even worse, some websites have chosen to make this pale gray font color their standard throughout.

I realize that this “style” is trendy and considered sophisticated. It does, in fact, look classy at first glance. But if I land on a site that uses it exclusively, I sigh, grumble under my breath and move on—even if I’m interested in the material. If it’s only the quotes that are in pale gray, I’ll read them, but grudgingly. And only if they’re short. Otherwise it’s just too much work.

A good publication design is one that makes reading the material quick, easy and pleasurable. The reader should never have to think about the act of reading. It should never be a chore.

Surely I’m not the only middle-aged bifocal wearer who has trouble seeing and reading pale gray text. Why would anyone want to make their website difficult to read for a significant portion of their readers?

In other news, in the early morning of Friday last, my mom had what seemed to be a heart attack. Awful chest pain, panting for breath, skin gone waxy and colorless. I called an ambulance and they whisked her off to the hospital. Within an hour after arriving in the ER, the pain had abated to less than half of its previous intensity, her blood pressure normalized and she was breathing easily. She was admitted and taken upstairs to a bed in the cardiology unit. By mid-afternoon her pain had disappeared.

After a myriad of blood tests and cultures, several EKGs, an echo-cardiogram and a nuclear stress test, the cardiologist on weekend call determined that she hadn’t suffered a heart attack after all. He also determined that he didn’t know exactly what had caused her symptoms, but with her history of gastrointestinal problems, he suspected either her stomach or her gallbladder. Apparently either of them can cause the scary symptoms Mom suffered.

Did I mention she had a urinary tract infection, too? She was already taking antibiotics for that when she had the pseudo heart attack, so they switched her to IV antibiotics for the duration of her stay. The cardiologist didn’t think her UTI had anything to do with her symptoms.

They discharged her from the hospital on Sunday afternoon, heart-attack-symptom-free but totally exhausted from all the tests and not being allowed to do more than cat-nap day and night. She left with a new prescription for more UTI-busting antibiotics. She also had a roaring headache; they hadn’t allowed her to drink any coffee, ascaffeine is a stimulant and a strict no-no for heart patients.  Poor Mom had gone into withdrawal.

If you’ve ever had a caffeine-withdrawal headache, I’m sure you can sympathize. They’re horrible, front-and-center, pounding, nauseating things. I made her a largish cup of coffee as soon as we got home; she drank it down and her headache disappeared within an hour. Her relief was palpable.

We’re currently trying to get her an appointment for an abdominal ultrasound and another appointment for soon after with her gastroenterologist. It would be nice to get to the bottom of this; our weekend was by turns terrifying and dreadful. Neither one of us wants to go through another one like it.

On Monday afternoon Mom broke out in a rash that spread slowly from just under her left ribs up onto her chest. At first it just itched intensely; by evening she said it felt like it was “burning from the inside out.” She was absolutely miserable. The cold packs from the freezer that I use for my bursitis hips relieved the itch and burn as long as they stayed cold but had to be changed frequently.

At first, we feared that she’d gotten shingles. It wouldn’t be the first time; she had a really bad attack once about 15 years ago. But other than the itch and burn, she said she felt just fine. Shingles usually come with flu-like symptoms.

She refused to go to the local urgent care clinic. “I’ve had enough prodding and poking to last me a lifetime,” she growled. I couldn’t blame her. She went to bed late Monday evening with a freshly frozen cold pack. Both of us crossed our fingers. If the rash was from shingles, it would start raising tiny, leaking blisters by morning. We’d get her in to see her primary care doctor for treatment. The other possibility was that the rash was a side-effect from one of the drugs used on her during her hospital stay.

Yesterday morning she arose with the rash still visible but no longer itching or burning. No blisters. No sickness. We concluded that it must have been a side-effect. All that remains now of the last several days is that deep fatigue. She tires to the point of needing to lay down after even a little exertion. Gallbladder? Stomach? Your guess is as good as mine.

And me? I’m fine, except for my ever-aching hips and hands. Boring. I’m coping and trying to maintain my optimism and sense of humor.

I think I’m succeeding.

12 thoughts on “In which Wren gripes, then updates news

  1. I hope your mom continues to get better. It is hard on us as our parents age but of course, it is harder on them. I know what you are saying about the font color and it is something I will look at in the future just because I have seen the grey generate on my blog as part of template. I hope you are feeling better these days and enjoying the summer months. Hugs to you. You have had a busy couple of weeks.


  2. Thanks, Lana, and hugs backatacha! Don’t worry about the gray text on your blog–templates are tough to change. I’ll keep reading your blog no matter what, anyway. 😉


  3. I had to re-look at my blog to see whether or not I use the particular grey you were talking about – made me laugh. I love a woman with strong opinions. I hope your mum feels better soon too. Shan xo


  4. So sorry to hear about your mother. I bet they gave her cipro or levaquin antibiotic which have some nasty side effects. Hope things settle down soon.


  5. What the heck, it’s good to gripe sometimes. I’ve just had two more cortisone shots, one in each hip. The last one lasted about 8 months. Regarding your mom, it’s good to have a gastro have a look see. I had the same pseudo fake heart attack and it ended up being gallstones. They removed the gallbladder and I thought I was good to go. No so though as I was one of the few where a gallstone escaped detection as it hid in the bile duct. I had three more years of off and on attacks before I finally had the courage to go back for a look see (I thought I had cancer ). Once that stone was removed I was really good. I guess the moral of this story is always check things out. Have an otherwise great day.


  6. Sometimes griping is what having a blog is all about … not too often of course, but sometimes. My original reason for blogging was to have a gripe now and then without ‘laying it’ no my friends and family. That’s until hubby opened his big mouth and proudly told all the friends and family about it. (Well … I hadn’t told him not to …)

    Sorry your mum’s having such a difficult time of it – but very glad to hear she’s on the mend!! Sorry you’re still achey too, but glad you’re both … hmm, I was going to use a British expression there that means something QUITE different in the US … I’ll go with ‘glad you’re both keeping cheerful and positive’ instead. 🙂


  7. Wren: Sending hugs to you and your Mom. What an exhausting, scary episode and, with the rash and fatigue, it sounds like everything is not yet resolved. I am glad to hear that even though you’re not better, things haven’t gotten worse. Please do keep us posted (no pun intended). And I agree with the other comments — it’s quite okay to use your blog to gripe. (If you don’t believe me, go back and read some of my posts! ha!)


  8. Gosh, you have certainly been through it! I am sorry you are having such a hard time of it. I hope your mom feels better soon.

    I too went and checked my blog to see about my font. Please tell me if it is hard to read.


  9. Hey Wren, it looks like you are keeping yourself very busy. Wow! Sending healing thoughts to your mom and to you and those hips. Every time I feel pain in my hips, I think of you!


  10. Hi Wren! On personal blogs, as has been mentioned, the different fonts and styles usually come from a template, and even if they are customizable, you have to know HTML and CSS to change them. On big commercial web sites, though, you’re right: Shame on them if they choose style over usability. Of course, maybe they’re doing it because the writing is no good, and they sense that style is really all they have…

    Sorry for the suffering you and your mom are experiencing. I hope things get better for you both.


  11. I hate that scary stuff! And scary it is!!! I bet your exhausted as well. Those roller coaster of emotional ups and downs and er visits can do us in and for sure!!! How scary! And yup, I also think it was a med reaction…the rash. But as far as the rest and the initial visit…well not really sure…so much going on for your mom. Please be sure to take care of yourself since you are her primary care giver. If you give out…well…you get my point. Take some r&r too. And lets get the vodoo dolls out and start using some pins on them! i got mine out recently as I swear there is a curse lingering nearby.


  12. Many hugs, Wren. How is your mom doing?

    I agree with you on the readability. There are a few blogs I had to stop reading because the design was too hard on my eyes.

    Also, have you considered a short term stint with prednisone to take care of your bursitis? Getting that inflammation down makes PT exercises easier; doing those exercises faithfully for an extended period of time might mean the pain wouldn’t come back when you taper off the pred. Just a thought.


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