2020 was a bad year for everyone, it was kind of special bad for us. It started with my husband breaking his leg falling out of tree and just got worse and worse. Then what I thought was just a personal character flaw turned out to be a deadly disease that landed me in the hospital for a week.
Looking back, I realize that I’ve not been well for a while. A few years ago I started having fevers every two weeks, but after a year or so it was predictable, and predictable infirmity can be easily adapted to. I intended to use the winter to get back in shape, do more boating, more hiking, but it seemed like the more I tried to strengthen myself the weaker I got. I had a cold I just couldn’t seem to quite shake, I was always sick with something the children brought back from school, and then I started fainting.
I knew what was wrong, it was laziness! A shameful, and pitiful flaw, but thankful one that could be remedied with hard work. It was in my power to drive out this failure of character. Sure, I didn’t have pulse in my left arm, but I hadn’t had one for months. I occasionally went partly blind, but it wasn’t like I was totally blind. Self discipline and commitment, that was what was required. Then it all fell apart.
February 2020 I was diagnosed with Takayasu Arteritis, along with pneumonia and several other transient lung organisms. I would recover from the disgusting lung creatures, but the Takayasu was permanent. In the six months since the fevers had passed the disease moved from it’s constitutional phase to it’s inflammatory phase. My aorta and the arteries coming off of it were swelling shut. My subclavian artery had already closed, and my carotid arteries were well on their way.
I immediately started high dose steroids, and soon followed with a biological medicine made from the blood of mice. The medications reduced the inflammation, but the damage done to my arteries was irrevocable. So in February 2021 I had a bypass done from my aorta to my left subclavian and carotid arteries. During that surgery I had a stroke and lost the use of my right arm as well as the ability to speak.
But! It’s only April and I’m writing this to you now. I’ve regained full use of my right side, I can walk, and I can frequently talk. I’m definitely not completely as I was, but I can usually compensate for the cognitive and functional aspects that I’m missing. There is every reason to be optimistic and excited about the future.
This is not a curable disease however. It may go into remission or it may not. I may go many years with minimal medical management required or I may not. I’m not dying, but I’m not exactly growing old either. After discussions with family and doctors it’s clear we need to have a reordering of priorities. I don’t need to plan for retirement, I’m going to do it now.
So, what are we doing? We have no idea. We’re going to enjoy summer with our wonderful children. We’re going to go boating on the weekends, and go to beach, and travel to see our families. We’re going to go camping, and take float trips on the river. We’re going to build happy, full lives with our children. Lives we won’t have to look back on with regrets.
When is the pay lake opening? I don’t know. I don’t even know if we will open it this year. By all appearances the fish seem to be doing well. We still are aiming to start running our aquaponic system and raise fish as well as produce in that.
When will we have our soaps and jellies back? Soon. We’re picking dandelions and violets now, and I last year I experimented successfully with Sumac, Ground Cherry, and Blackberry jams which will be available later in the season. I have several new varieties of soap, as well new colors and patterns.
What about firewood? That is going to have to be a “soon” too… We had a tornado destroy the firewood shed, and I’m just so happy it didn’t take the high tunnel that it was welcome to the shed. We will be building a new, and much larger shed which will also function as an expanded store front for us. This will give us more room for selling self-serve produce as well as the jellies and soaps.
What else? We’re expanding our produce production with the new high tunnel, hopefully even into winter. So far we have started strawberries, onions, beets, radishes, and carrots. We have tomatoes and sweet peppers started as seedlings waiting to go out. Soon we should start corn, green beans, and sweet potatoes.
Will you be having the Hammer In (blacksmithing event) this year? Probably… This really all depends on the COVID situation. We would love to have it this year, and if it’s legally possible we plan to. We’ll just have to see how things are going towards fall.
As we head into summer we will try to continue posting interesting homesteading things. Follow along with us as we do something really cool (or really disgusting) with a ham. Learn about rabbit breeding, pasture raised hogs, how to skin a catfish, really good recipes for groundhog. There’s so much to find out, and we want to know what you’re interested in. What projects are you working on? What new skills have you learned this year?