On Sunday, Suellen and I went for a brisk walk, which ended up with an even brisker chase of our dog Nutmeg, who decided to go on an impromptu visit to the neighbor's house. They have dogs. Over the hilltop then into the valley we chased her until the neighbor had her by the collar and delivered her to us.
But before we went a-chasing "Nutmeg-nificent" through the woods and fields, we did have a grand moment to enjoy the expansive view of the homestead from our farm's high point. To the left is a photo from near the top of the property.
And it's funny how pending health problems can alter life's focus -- if you let it. Looking at the beautiful autumnal fields, with eyes darting across the expanses, I focused attention on the heartfelt beauty of farm and nature as my subconsious took its own detour to contemplate nature's cycle. The once green fields full of foliage and verdant colors now has faded into sepia tones. As Keats noted in "Ode to Autumn, "Where are the songs of spring?" Or, as he ultimately concluded, autumn certainly has its own songs that are equally compelling, if you listen.
And my mind, contemplating diabetes as something of a metaphor for fall, honed in on dead limbs and lessons these dead limbs can teach those of us with diabetes. Certainly people who do not manage their diabetes face a high chance of circulation problems that can lead to numbness, wounds and ulcers that often do not heal and create a series of problems including gangrene and sometimes amputations. Dead limbs, indeed. Diabetes is a major cause of limb amputations. So I took note of all the dead limbs, with the mental note to mention them in this blog.
Then I noted that the spring running down the middle of the flarm did not have much flow as it does during times of normal rain. Reminded me of, yes, my lowly kidneys that are working overtime at about 16-20 percent function to keep my pipes drained and blood detoxified.
And while it does not relate directly to diabetes, the falling leaves can remind one of the thinning hair, with the gray sky also suggesting what color takes hold as the year -- and the hair -- ages. And as with those aforementioned dead branches, I too have some knots in my limbs I didn't have a few years ago, although said limbs remain functional and still attached to the trunk.
I want to keep it that way.
The farm in autumn stresses the point that limbs from unhealthy trees do fall.
Despite sepia tones and gray skies, autumn always has been an inspirational and soulful time for me. It is a time to assess the state of health and confirm that aging is harmonious with nature. T.S. Eliot suggested that April is the cruelest month because it shows nature regenerating itself while people are condemned to getting older. That would suggests then that November is the kindest month. Thus the joy I experienced in beholding all the sepia tones and gray skies.
That said, I have two important doctors' appointments today, one that seems destined to go well and another that remains problematic.
The one I'm anticipating to go smoothly is the periodic go-around with my nephrologist Dr. Cynthia West. I've already seen my lab results and my phosphorous and potassium levels have fallen into the normal range. Both can go out of balance and rise in the blood due to poor kidney function. But I quit drinking pop (mostly diet colas) to reduce my phosophorous intake and also to allay bone problems. Carbonated water depletes the bones of calcium and has left me on the verge of osteoporosis -- low bone density. I should have quit drinking pop years ago, but I never realized how unhealthy pop is. Through dietary measures, I've also succeeded in reducing potassium levels in the my blood to the normal range. High potassium levels can produce heart problems.
So I should get good grades from my nephrologist.
But the problem appointment will be the one with urologist Dr. Ronald Benoit of UPMC. He again will test me for prostrate cancer due to an elevated PSA level detected during my evaluation last month at the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Center at UPMC Montefiore. That high reading was unexpected, given my PSA -- postate-specific antigen test --- one month earlier that fell well within the normal level.
I should have more insights by day's end.
So, within days, once my PSA test results come back, I should have a better assessment of whether or not I willl qualify for a kidney-pancreas transplant. I'm calm and collected but certainly anxious to see those PSA results. The kidneys, as with those branches and leaves, face the impact of life in autumn. It's known as fall for a reason. And if I fail to get on the transplant, then we're talking about a winter of discontent.