I’ve had histoplasmosis?

Histoplasmosis

Image via Wikipedia

Who knew?  When I visited my eye doctor, she asked me if I’d ever been diagnosed with histoplasmosis.  I was like, “what?  noooo”…She explained that it’s fairly common in this area (I’m in south central Indiana, but we’re still considered part of the Ohio Valley).   It occurs when we breathe in airborne spores from contaminated ground (gardening is one activity that could put you at potential risk) or from dried bird or bat droppings (I’ve always had bird feeders and bird baths in my yard).  She explained that I have scarring in the outer portions of both eyes, that it isn’t anything to be worried about at this time, that a lot of people have had histoplasmosis and never even knew about it.  It starts as a respiratory disease, but can affect other areas of the body.  She told me that it had affected my eyes, but that there was no indication that it was active in my body now.  She did caution me to call for an immediate appointment if I happened to notice a sudden change in my vision, that the disease can recur and could cause serious issues with my vision.  She said that particular scenario isn’t likely, but she wanted me to understand that there was a possibility and to know what to do if it should occur.

I did some online research and it sounds like it doesn’t cause serious problems for most people who are exposed to it, but that it can be fatal to people with compromised immune systems.  I’ve had respiratory problems in the past, have had pneumonia several times, have had what I thought were colds that I couldn’t seem to shake (that was one of the questions that my eye doctor asked me).  So now I’m writing a list of questions to ask my doctor at my appointment next month.  I don’t want to be a hypochondriac, but I do believe in being proactive with your health. 

I always knew that your eye doctor could tell a lot about a variety of health issues (such as diabetes) with an exam.  But this one surprised me.  I had no idea that this was even something to be concerned about.  I wonder why my old doctor never mentioned that this was a possibility…I hope this new doctor will have some answers for me.

Have you ever heard of/experienced histoplasmosis? 

Gold finches in the garden

gold finches on a feeder

Image by DanielJames via Flickr

I walked into the kitchen this evening and saw a tiny little bird perched on a big leaf of one of the sunflower plants outside my kitchen window.  The bird kept leaning over the head of the sunflower then perching on the leaf again, presumably eating the sunflowers she was pulling from the flower head (hey, that’s okay, the birds planted those sunflowers in the first place).   It was quite the balancing act and very amusing to watch.  A few seconds later, I saw a larger bird doing the same thing.  When he flew up to the top of the garden arch, I could see that it was a gold finch.  Shortly, the other bird joined her mate on the garden arch.  How adorable, a male and a female gold finch.  They kept me company for a few minutes before flying away.  I’m sure they’ll return again…the buffet is still open, sunflower seeds for all.

Why I think birds are a lot like people

Bushtits mass on a birdfeeder in Salem, Oregon.

Image via Wikipedia

I have a couple of bird feeders, a suet feeder, and a bird bath outside my kitchen window.  Usually watching the birds is relaxing.  However, Wednesday I heard a terrible ruckus outside and rushed to the kitchen window in fear that a wild cat was out there terrorizing the birds.  Nope, not at all.  What I saw was a demanding, loud young bird sitting on top of the suet feeder.  It was screeching at its poor harried mother to feed it NOW!!  The mother kept hopping down to the bar on the arch, grabbing the suet as fast as she could,  then hurriedly placing the food in the wide-open mouth of the youngster.  All the while, the young bird continued its very vocal demands for more food, more food, faster, mama, faster.

This brought to mind the many times I’ve seen children making ridiculous demands of their parents (the young bird was sitting directly on top of the feeder and could have easily reached right in to get all the food he needed, but instead of doing for himself, he felt entitled to sit there while his mother was wearing herself out administering to his needs).  It also reminded me of the many times I’ve seen parents (usually mothers) doing things for their children that the children could, and should, be doing for themselves.

The only difference was that the mother bird was  teaching her young one how to get the food he needed on his own, while so many human mothers continue to do things for their children long past the time they should have learned to do for themselves (mothers doing their grown children’s laundry, cleaning up after their lazy teenagers instead of demanding that they pick up after themselves).  Instead of teaching children how to survive in this world, too many mothers (and fathers) are teaching their kids how to be leeches.  Somehow I don’t think that’s doing anyone any good, not the parents and definitely not the kids. 

Come on, parents…raise your children to fly away…they’ll always fly back to the nest, but at least they’ll become contributing members of society instead of whiny brats with a sense of entitlement.

No shopping…lots of ice

Winter Storm December 2007

Image via Wikipedia

I live in Indiana…and winter in Indiana can be a little iffy.  The weather forecasters were predicting one of the worst winter storms ever for our area.  Fortunately that didn’t pan out, but it was still bad enough.  I went outside today to clean the snow off my back patio so I could fill the bird feeders.  I swept the snow away, but couldn’t really do much about the more than an inch of ice (well, other than slide around on it).  I did get the bird feeders filled though, so some happy little birdies flying around outside my kitchen window…and one excited cat sitting on the refrigerator dreaming about catching them (don’t worry, the cat never goes outside so the birds are safe from her).

I’ve been off work for a few days.  I’ve been sick, not exactly how I want to be spending any time away from work…I’d much rather feel well enough that I could be catching the deals at CVS or Kroger. About this time last year I got really sick…ended up with pneumonia and it took me a long, long time to feel better.  I thought about getting flu and pneumonia shots this past fall and kept putting it off.  Now I’m beating myself up for not doing it BEFORE I got sick.  I’m just hoping I don’t get sicker than what I’ve felt the past couple days.  I’m so fortunate to have a great boss who just wants me to feel better (he called me today and asked if I needed him to go to the store to get anything for me…I don’t think he understands stockpiling!).  One nice thing about having some time off work (aside from being able to take naps) is that I’ve been able to catch up on a lot of the frugal living/couponing blogs I read.  I’m amazed at how much info is out there…amazed and oh so thankful.  The blogs I’ve been reading have taught me so much about couponing and frugality.  They’ve also inspired me to write more and and give some thought to what I want to do with my own blog.  I’ve got lots of ideas, but it’s all still kind of percolating in my mind right now.  I’m certainly looking forward to taking these next steps, learning more about how to live a more balanced life and sharing what I learn with others.