For the first day in several, I don't have to leave the homestead today. The feeling of contentment that this fills me with is very solid and satisfying. I am SUCH a homebody! I love Swamp River Ridge, I love the house. And, now that I'm working outside it, I appreciate the days I get to stay at home all the more.
I had appointments in the big city, 3+ hours away, on Monday. The first one took me over the border into Wisconsin to the Toyota dealership I use there. Bringing desk work, my laptop, and my crocheting, I settled into the waiting area for the 2 hour wait while two new Blizzaks tires were installed on the rear axle of the Yaris and the back door latch was replaced.
I'd ordered two new rims for the new tires, too, so that I can change them out myself come springtime when I switch back over to the summertime tires. Once the "currently-on" tires were removed to make way for the Blizzaks, the parts manager came out to me in the waiting room to ask, "Uhhh, the guys want to know if you're SURE you want those tires left on the rims? They're in pretty bad shape!" I smiled and assured him that yes, I wanted them left on the rims. He never would have guessed that I still consider those "good" and feel that they should definitely get me through next summer and into fall!
When I checked out, the same parts guy said that they'd all crowded around to get a look at my two removed tires: they'd never seen tires so chewed up! He asked, "So, you must live on a gravel road, huh?" I said that I had 32 miles of gravel roads to drive each day (round trips). He then said, "Well, the rocks on it must be AWFULLY sharp: those tires look like nails and knives have been shoved into them and then pulled back out!" I said, yes . . . adding that every time the road is graded, flat tires are sure to follow. A huge chunk of money later (new rims & Blizzaks ain't cheap), I left with the knowledge that I was "that lady" who drives over nails and knives each day. ;)
I know I've mentioned it once before, but here it is again for the sake of illustration: one summer, when talking to a "neighbor" (that's relative, remember), he mentioned that he'd had S-E-V-E-N flats in one day, thanks to the road being graded! It's great for the potholes and washboards when the road is worked on but NOT for the tires (when all those pointy little arrowheads of rock are churned up)!
Following my tire appointment, I went to my first eye appointment in about . . . oh, 30 years! My eyes have been bothering me more and more over the last couple of years, and, in just the last couple of months, I've resorted to buying cheater glasses to help with reading and small-gauge crocheting. It was a horribly looooooong appointment (I was scheduled for 1:45 but didn't leave until 4:55!!!), but I left with a very comprehensive knowledge of what I'm dealing with AND a pair of glasses all picked out with delivery expected sometime next week.
At the eye doc's office, I discovered that I have histoplasmosis. And, this is where my warning to you fellow chicken farmers is going to come into play. "Histoplasmosis is a disease caused when airborne spores of the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum are inhaled into the lungs, the primary infection site. This microscopic fungus . . . is released into the air when soil is disturbed by . . . sweeping chicken coops." Did you get that? "Sweeping chicken coops"? The optometrist said that I could have picked it up anytime / anywhere in life, but once I started researching and read the above, it seems like there is a high likelihood that I got it from cleaning the chicken house. Could that have been avoided by wearing a face mask each time? I dunno. Seems like those little spores could sneak around a mask.
Most people have no idea that they may be harboring this fungus. The symptoms are the same as those of a common cold. And, "the body's immune system normally overcomes the infection in a few days without treatment". However, "histoplasmosis, even mild cases, can later cause a serious eye disease called ocular histoplasmosis syndrome (OHS), a leading cause of vision loss in Americans ages 20 to 40".
"OHS develops when fragile, abnormal blood vessels grow underneath the retina . . . [and] form a lesion known as choroidal neovascularization (CNV). If left untreated, the CNV lesion can turn into scar tissue and replace the normal retinal tissue in the macula." This is the stage I'm at: I have the scar tissue.
(Just had to take a lengthy time-out to try to remove a squirrel from the STOVE! Video of that to come.)
After lots of tests and images taken, the doc showed me a picture of my actual left eye and where the scar is. It looks like a giant, shining headlight, and it's RIGHT below my pupil. She said that I'm lucky: had the scar formed ON my pupil I would definitely experience substantial vision loss!
So, what do I do now? Nothing. We hope that the scar remains the size it is and that the fungus (yu-uk!) remains dormant. If so, I shouldn't ever have any problems. But, should I EVER begin to experience blurring in that eye, I need to notify her ASAP . . . for obvious reasons. Amazing what technology can do now, huh?!
All quoted information taken from the National Eye Institute website.