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The Break Up Song

Because, Part 2…. :-)

Omphaloskepsis

Because…. :-)

Small warning: There’s a shout at the start that’s pretty loud.

So the doctor does not want to do surgery. He believes that I can control the attacks through diet (reduced fat diet), and I am inclined to believe him.

I’ve lost about 15 pounds since Monday mostly in water weight I’m guessing. Yesterday was my first day with more or less real food (chicken noodle soup, toast, boiled eggs, applesauce, and crackers). Today, I’m branching out, and I have a non-fat yogurt and ham in a sandwich (no dressing of any kind) along with more applesauce, boiled eggs, and some dry cereal. Tonight I’m going to try some baked chicken with roasted potatoes and a veggie side.

I have, until now, avoided all but trace amounts of fat. Obviously, that can’t continue forever, and I am planning on introducing fat tonight or tomorrow so that if I do have another attack, I have the rest of the weekend to recover.

I’m admittedly probably rushing things a bit, but I’m so tired of feeling, well, tired. I’m also cold all the time lately, which is a sure sign of calorie deficiency. Today is my first full day back at work, and I’m feeling alert, which is nice.

 

This has been, for me at least, the worst 12 months of health in my entire life. I’ve just been sick off and on the entire year, and often with some pretty durable stuff. So was I surprised when the coming of the dawn found me in the Emergency Room?

Not really.

Early Monday morning I woke up with tremendous pain across the top of my abdomen. At first I thought it was heartburn, and I took an anti-acid and went back to bed (but not to sleep). After an hour of dealing with the pain, I got up to take a hot shower which usually puts me back to sleep. Nope. At 4:30, I got up and took a second one. And this is the first time I threw up.

I went back to bed, tossed and turned, and then threw up again. By now Courtney was up and concerned, and we started trying to figure out what was going on. We wondered appendicitis, pancreatitis, blocked intestines, ulcers, or any other of a handful of things. About this time, the pain was approaching an 8 on a scale of 1-10. No matter what I did, it would not stop, and it would not lessen. And I definitely could not sleep.

I called a friend of mine to come give me a priesthood blessing. By the time he arrived, the pain was a full 10, and all I could do was roam around the house bent in two trying not to die. I threw up again at this point, and now it came out a rich yellow (I actually had the thought that it’d be a nice paint color for the house….). Bile. We switched our focus to liver and gallbladder issues. When Michael arrived with Troy to give me a priesthood blessing, I was no longer able to speak, and I had collapsed on the couch, and we were packing to go to the Emergency Room.

We loaded up Michael’s truck, and sprinted off to the hospital with a short break to once again expel my innards. At the hospital, they took one look at me and admitted me immediately. As the two nurses were changing me into my hospital gown, Courtney had the tact to remark, “Bet this isn’t how you envisioned being stripped by three women!” Well played, Courtney. Truly.

A shot of Morphine, a shot of Zofram (anti-nausea medication), an ultra-sound, and one good solid vomiting later, I found myself with the pain unabated. It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever felt. It felt like someone had buried a knife in my gut and was just sitting there twisting it. No matter what I did, how I moved, or what I took, the pain would not drop. During the ultra-sound, I could not stop writhing around (and there really is no better word for it) on the table. When we got back to our room, they gave me a new medicine (I don’t remember it… diloudid?), but they said it was ten times the strength of Morphine. It just took the edge off. Just. And it slurred my speech wonderfully. :-)

We found out it was a gall bladder attack. An attack is more or less your gall bladder trying to do what it should do (secrete concentrated bile to process fatty foods) and not being able to. Because it can’t, it gets inflamed or blocked or even dies. We debated surgery off and on for the rest of the morning and early afternoon. The doctors were okay with surgery but suggested waiting since this was my first major attack and I don’t have stones (yet). I agreed to go until Wednesday to see what happens. There’s a good chance we can change things with diet. There are also several gall bladder cleanses out there that supposedly help. Most of them just involve eating really good foods, and apparently grape fruit juice is a miracle cure for gall bladders.

Who knew?

Wednesday we will find out if we are doing surgery or not, and until then I’m on a clear liquid diet. After Wednesday, I go on a BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) until closer to Friday or Saturday. After that, I can go onto a low-fat diet–and I mean low-fat–for two more weeks. No dairy of any kind except skim milk and fat-free yogurt. No fatty meat or other foods. The idea isn’t to restrict fat completely, which is just as bad for your gall bladder, but to keep the fat intake very low so as not to trigger another attack. After those two weeks, I should be able to add most things back in with the understanding that if I overdo it, I’m back to square one and potential surgery. Given the amount of pain I was in, I don’t ever want to do that again.

It. Was. Ludicrous.

The plan now is to try the cleanse next week. I need this week to get my feet back under me. Since Saturday night, I have had maybe 2,000 calories and very little water. I’m slow, I’m tired, and I’m just now to the point where I can eat and drink stuff, and all I have is jello, apple juice, and chicken broth (thanks Deckers!!! They made me home made chicken soup and strained out the chunks so I could have real broth!). Tomorrow I’m upgrading to more solid stuff, including crackers, soups, bread, and so forth. I’m actually really looking forward to it! I’m out of work until at least Wednesday, and if I go in on Thursday, I will likely do just a half day. I can’t imagine sitting at that desk for 8 hours just yet.

Now for the miracles. It was awesome to see how quickly the ward mobilized around us to help us (in my faith, a ward is what we call the congregation). We had several people here to watch the kids be 7:00 AM, one to take me to the hospital, and another waiting at the hospital to help (she works in the OR). She took care of Courtney all day and ran her around to get all the medicine and grocery shopping I needed. We had several women in the ward take our kids, and it was wonderful to see them come home happy and clean and fed. The Deckers brought us food and company, and I had a dozen people check up on me last night to make sure I was well. We had well over 300 text messages of people checking in and asking how they could help.

I wondered more than once how people outside the church handle emergencies like this. I’m not sure I could have. Or rather, I could have, but who would I have turned to? In our case, we made one phone call, and all of that started rolling. That one phone call led to the entire ward mobilizing. If it weren’t for the inherent and natural trust that exists there, I’m not sure how we could have managed all that with just one call.

There seems to be a lot of pressure against organized religion. For me, I’m grateful to be part of an organized religion that allows me to deal with a crisis without worrying about the family, worrying about my wife, and even worrying about myself. It’s nice to just go and get healed.

Now if you’ll excuse me, a nice tasty sampling of Jello is calling me for breakfast. If I dream hard enough, I’m sure I can get it to taste like bacon and eggs….

Okay, I wasn’t going to post on this, but I have now had at least ten people approach me to ask my thoughts, and I know many other beekeepers are being approached with similar questions. You may have heard about the Flow Beehive (see here for more details). To describe it briefly, it’s a system that allows you to harvest honey from a hive without opening the hive. It’s admittedly pretty cool, but cool doesn’t mean great.

My very first thought is that this is a tool of bee “havers,” not bee “keepers.” Beehavers are people who simply have bees and don’t put in the energy or effort to manage their hives. It’s the rough equivalent of someone who farms by scattering seed (not sowing) and then coming back in August to get whatever came up. Sure, they might get a harvest, but there’s no relationship or familiarity with it, and no real effort. A true farmer spends time in the field caring for the plants and nurturing. They water carefully, fertilize and weed patiently, and eagerly await the harvest.

I know of no beekeeper who is eager to try this product. Many have said they’d investigate it, which isn’t surprising considering the pragmatic and inquisitive nature of most beekeepers, but I will be surprised if many seriously engaged beekeepers adopt this as their primary hive style.

Second, many are claiming this is a revolution in hive technology. No it isn’t. It’s a simple change to the frame design. It still uses standard Langstroth (or National) hive boxes. It still relies on our current understanding of bee space and comb size.

Third, claims of being non-disruptive are bogus. Every beekeeper has experienced brood in the honey. Would you really just turn that spigot and hope that what came out was honey and not brood juices from destroyed brood cells? I sure wouldn’t. And if I’m opening the hive up to check for brood, I’m being disruptive. And if I open the hive to check, why not just finish the job and harvest the honey?

Fourth, reuse of comb is, in my opinion, dangerous. Wax is where the bees naturally store the poisons their bodies gather through nectar and pollen storage. Wax should, as a rule, be replaced every few years even in natural, organic hives. This system encourages reuse over long periods of time, which I consider somewhat dangerous.

Fifth, this is not a revolution in beekeeping. This is, at most, a revolution in honey harvesting. Anyone who believes this removes any need to check and care for your bees is fooling themselves. Managing beehives requires management. You have to get in there at least a few times a year. The spacing between visits is up for debate, but I would certainly never recommend less than once a month, and I try for every other week usually, especially during a nectar flow. And no…. that little side window (if you use a box with a window) is not an adequate substitute. And let’s be clear, honey harvesting is maybe… 5% of the workload a year in a small operation, less in a big one. This is hardly a revolution.

Sixth, I have concerns about the depth of the frames. As far as I can tell, the Flow frames are quite deep compared to standard frames. Not sure how that impacts things, but I suspect it changes it.

Seventh, I think this style encourages harvesting too much honey. You really have no idea how much you are taking without opening the hives, and if you are opening the hives anyway….

Eight, I’ve heard lots of people complain about robbing, and if you are pouring into open containers, it’s a valid complaint. The site does say you could set it up to have an enclosed harvesting system, but let’s be honest: the people who are eager for this are people who don’t want to do the work in the first place and they are going to design and build their own enclosed system? Right….

Conclusion: It’s a gimmick. Plain and simple. It’s like the beehaus of yesteryear. Pretty cool idea, but really not that different than what we already have. It isn’t the miracle cure or the next great leap.

I will say this, though, it’s disruptive in a way that I haven’t seen before, and conversation is very good. And to be clear, I don’t mean disruptive as in breaking new ground, I mean disruptive in that everyone is aware of it and talking about it. It’s bringing attention to beekeeping, which is always a good thing. Maybe it’ll bring in more people who will then try other ideas as they grow more experienced. If it does that, I guess I really can’t complain too much. Just don’t expect to see it on my hives.

Did You Think to Pray?

This hymn has been one of those that has always sat on the edge of like vs dislike. I guess I just don’t really like how it is normally sung. The message, however, is remarkable. Here’s this rendition from the April 2013 LDS General Conference performed by a BYU choir. It is wonderful and is definitely one of the versions I truly enjoy:

So a few thoughts….

I was chatting with Laurel earlier today about resisting temptation and overcoming addictions and so forth. This hymn came to mind as part of that conversation. One scripture that seemed to be everywhere this last week in lesson preparations is Alma 17: 11-12. Speaking of Christ, the scripture reads:

11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

That word “succor” is not one that is very common in English. It has Latin roots, though, and as any speaker of a Romantic language would tell you, the word succor means “to help or to aid.” Another way of saying that is rescue. Christ went through all of that not so that He could comfort us, though He certainly does. He went through that so that He could rescue us. Literally save us from the pain, temptation, hurt, or whatever it is that we’ll face in life. Knowing that brings a rich new power to the idea of coming unto the Savior and his invitation to “Come unto me.” It also paints a different picture than if He only comforted us in our pain and trials.

It’s been interesting to watch how often (as in always) the answer to the problems and hurts of life is to look to the Savior. And maybe it shouldn’t surprise me when we think about it. The very nature of our existence is one that is designed to give us the opportunity to “learn of [Him]; for [He is] meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls (Matt. 11:28-29).”

And it all starts with us making a choice to reach out for that help.

Enjoy the song.

I got out to visit the hives again today. Hive 1 has been on my mind a lot, and I’ve just had that sneaking suspicion that it was a goner. The bad news is that yes, there is no queen and no brood in Hive 1. That depresses me a bit. This is my original have. I’ve gone through multiple queens with it, but they are all daughters of the original local stock. This was also my top producing hive each year, giving me a minimum of two gallons and a max of eight each year. Can I just say sigh…. ?

On the other hand, Hive 2 is quite strong. I found the queen, and she’s big and fast. She’s got the makings of a solid brood nest as well. Still on the small side because of the time of year, but strong. And they have plenty of honey stores as well. I’m tempted to take the remnants of Hive 1 (there’s still probably 3,000 bees in there) and combine them into Hive 2. That would create a monster of a hive going into the spring and allow me to split out at least once, and possibly twice! I’m hoping to get up to three hives this year, but I’m also determined NOT to buy a package. They are getting to be far too expensive (at least $100 this year).

The success is that I’ve talked another person into doing bees. He’s a neighbor friend, and he’s going to start up with a single hive. I’m always glad to see more beekeepers. The more the merrier!

**UPDATE**

I figured why wait… Right after writing this, I ran back out, opened up Hive 1 and confirmed the lack of queen and brood. I then did a newspaper combine between Hive 1 and Hive 2. That should provide a big boost in population (I’d guess 3,000 or so), and about 20 more pounds of honey.

My hope is that Hive 2, which is now Hive 1, will be big enough come April that it’ll warrant a triple split, which will get me right back up to three hives, which is where I like to be.

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