Sunday, August 8, 2010

Back Home

I arrived back home yesterday from Alaska.  The last few days I was there, I didn't have great internet access, so I wasn't able to blog.

Overall, it was a good trip. I learned a lot - some in casual conversation with my cousin and with others so I didn't write it down (but maybe that's best as it was political) - and had four good interviews.  I went to Unalakleet, a place I had never visited before.  I have to say that this village (around 842 people) was, on the whole, fairly healthy compared to a couple of other villages I've been in.   There was a lot of construction going on - they were building a seawall (in case of coastal erosion) and paving the roads. Lots of people were fishing, for themselves and when they got enough for themselves, they also did some commercial fishing.  People were berry picking, too.  Blueberries and salmonberries (also known as cloud berries).  Nome had lots of blueberries, too, but hardly any salmonberries. 

The people in Unalakleet were very friendly, too. I went to the Peace on Earth pizza place for dinner on my first night, and while walking home, a lady (D.) on a 4-wheeler stopped and said, "are you Deanna?" and I said "Yes I was" and she said that someone on facebook told her to say hi to me.  Then, D. said,  "Do you want to come to my house?  I'm going to have dry fish, seal oil, and sura (willow leaves)."  Even though I already ate, I said, "Sure!"  I'm not stupid, you never turn down niqipiaq (Eskimo food or "real food") when it's offered to you.

D. spoiled me.  We ate dried salmon (humpies), miziGaq (seal oil) sura, tugiyuq (sea lovage), masu (Eskimo potato), plus maktak (whale blubber, which I never got used to) and a couple of other things. Mmmm mmmm good!

It was really nice visiting with D.  She talked to a lot of elder ladies about skin sewing and is trying to pass this skill down to the younger generations. She is also really interested in archival documents and photographs - she had even heard of Father Bernard Hubbard, the "Glacier Priest", who took lots of pictures on King Island and about 20 hours of film, from 1937-38. 

The next day, I went to Peace on Earth (free wirelesss internet) for lunch and then I got hold of an elder to interview - she brought me some dry fish, too.  At Peace on Earth, about 12 military guys were waiting for their pizza - Air Force, Army, and National Guard troops, who were doing some training, I think, in their helicopters.  They flew in for pizza and then wanted to fish a little bit before moving on.  (I thought it was ironic to be sitting at a place called "Peace on Earth" with military guys.)

After the interview with the elder, I went to D.'s for dinner - she prepared fresh caught trout and also king salmon and halibut, with a salad, andfresh baked bread.  Yum!!

The next day, I was to have an early morning interview, but I think my interviewee forgot.  I went back to bed to sleep in.  I've been sleeping a lot - I think the pain meds make me drowsy. After lunch, I interviewed another board member and then went to visit the President of Bering Straits Native Corporation - who then invited me over for dinner. 

Both talks went well, then I went to dinner and afterwards, T. (the President) and his wife (R.) took me for a drive on the only roads around Unalakleet.  That was cool.  Saw where there used to be an old Air Force base, that was decommissioned in 1984 (? or was it 1976?).  There was a nice view down into the Unalakleet valley. 

The next morning, I visited T. again - got a second more substantial breakfast - and then back to D.'s house to pick up dry fish (she wanted to send me home with some).  Then, I flew back to Anchorage.

The only thing that marred my trip was the pain and/or nausea that I had.  I started a pain medication just prior to my trip - the swollen lymph nodes under my left armpit started giving me constant pain - and for a day or so, I ended up with nausea, just prior to flying to Unalakleet.   I think I had too much caffeine (diet pepsi) and maybe not enough food.  I started getting nauseous on Monday afternoon (had visited an elder whose house reeked of cigarette smoke) and I couldn't shake it the whole rest of Monday and even the next morning, I felt nauseous.  So, I made sure I ate lots of bread, less caffeine, and then was able to fly to Unalakleet.

But by Thursday/Friday, the pain pills weren't working as well.  I would take one and it would work until about 5 hours after taking it - I could take it every 6 hours.  But I started feeling constant pain about an hour after taking it.   By the time my cousin picked me up in Anchorage, the pain was really bothering me, so after dinner, she took me to  the Alaska Native Medical Center's Emergency Room.  In the end, they said I could double my dose of the pain medication, Ultram (tramadol) (or start taking a narcotic) and I could take Tylenol in-between times if I needed it. 

I had an early flight home on Saturday - I felt okay, just tired, so I slept most of the trip.  Made sure I ate breakfast.  But by the time my folks picked me up, I was nauseous again from the pain pills.

I spent most of my time yesterday resting, dozing, and just eating small amounts.  The nausea is mostly gone as long as I keep some food in my belly.  I slept about 9 hours last night and then got up and had breakfast.  I picked up my son from his dad's (yay - soooo good to see him!  I really missed him!!) this morning.  But now I'm tired again. 

I think with the pain pills that I need to take a double dose, then six hours later, a single dose, then a double, then a single.  For now, that seems to work.  The double dose keeps the pain away and then the single dose kinda keeps it away but I get less nausea. 

I'm supposed to have Herceptin tomorrow, but I think that that triggered the increased pain, so I'm going to cancel tomorrow until I see Dr. K on Tuesday.  I'm already tired of the pain.  The swelling isn't going down. Something's got to give . . .

1 comment:

Joanna said...

I am dismayed that those nodes are painful. I hope your doctor comes up with a good plan. I willbe waiting to hear your progress.