Monday, July 26, 2021

June Highlights Reel (the abbreviated version)

Despite my hopes and best efforts, keeping the blog up to date with current happenings has proven very difficult this summer. I have omitted several sections from this post because they just seem silly in light of so much that has been going on; additionally, I simply don't have the time, bandwidth, or interest to sort through my copious photos to choose ones to include for this month. 

I have one more huge update about the farm to share in a future post, but beyond that, I will likely be absent from this space in the future. I am not committing to "ending" the blog at this point, but with so much going on of late (and my dedication to not over-commit myself anymore, thus allowing myself space and time to relax), I do not anticipate that I will update much in the future. If you enjoy my adventures and scenery, I encourage you to follow along with my Instagram @estout18 for more "regular" updates. Cheers, y'all.

A Total Loss

As alluded to in my introductory text for my [very] late May highlights reel, life at the end of May was a bit turbulent for me. It took 32 years, but I finally hit a deer with a vehicle. And not only did I hit a deer, but I destroyed said deer. It jumped off a bank into the road directly in front of my car in a section of road we don't often see them (there are much more popular crossing points on either side of where the accident occurred). I had no time to react at all. I was going 50-55 mph. The road is posted at 55. One second I was driving, and in the next I slammed into the deer's broadside. With an explosion of simultaneous sound, I struck the doe and all of my airbags deployed. I immediately pulled over to the side of the road and flung myself out of the vehicle to stumble to the side of the road where I sat in a tripod position trying to come to grips with the sudden onset of events. Ultimately, I would drive my vehicle home (3 miles away) and go into shock for 90 minutes. It was a bad night. 

Fortunately for me, Subaru makes a very safe vehicle. Unfortunately for me, in making vehicles safe, they also make them more expendable. Hitting the deer totaled my sweet little car. 


I'd just like to pause and take this moment to ask each of you: Did you know there were shin-height air bags? Because I sure didn't. And 95% of the folks who I've talked to since my accident did not know this either. It makes sense and I totally support having them, but I'm just impressed with how few people seem aware that they exist - myself included!

Were it not for the shin bags, I would have been completely unscathed from the incident. The steering wheel airbag didn't even touch me. My touching it only occurred as I batted it away from me so I could see the road and pull over. I didn't even register the shin airbag until I'd gotten home. And I didn't register that the airbag had caused trauma to my lower legs until later that evening. And even then, I was only aware of the significant swelling to my right leg. In fact, the swelling was so significant that I wondered if I had broken the leg and was only moving okay on it due to shock and adrenaline. In all my years as a first responder (over a decade) I've never seen a shin swell like mine did that evening without their also being a fracture. 


After all was said and done, I was grateful to be okay without a need to go to the hospital. I loathe car shopping, but am fortunate to have close friends who enjoy it. So while I still hated the process, it wasn't as bad as it could have been and by the third weekend of June I brought another new-to-me Subaru home. Same model, three years younger than my last. 

I am so happy to put this in the rearview mirror and move forward. It was exceptionally stressful for me, and while I'm grateful to have grown from the experience, I'm ready to enjoy some [hopefully] easier days for awhile.

Further Tack Room Upgrades

Fed up with the spacing of my saddles (which I chose based on the availability/distance of studs), I decided I needed to come up with a new solution. No matter how burly my dry wall anchors were, they failed. Patching my wall is something I'm capable of, but not a chore I enjoy doing so often. Meh.
So all of the saddles came off the wall and were stacked on the couch while I came up with a solution.

Yes, that is a plush unicorn head in the window. Yes, I have plans for it. One day...
Austen recommended doing some sort of wood wall where the saddles were. This way the boards could be drilled into the studs and then the saddle racks could go anywhere on the boards and have support! I loved it and knew I had lots of scrap wood to make the project happen for pennies on the dollar. In fact, Dave even found some more 100+ year old spruce boards for me to use (the darkest boards) and some really old cedar from a project he did years back.
The mismatched scrap wood pairs beautifully with the rest of the barn. 
One day I'll get black pipe insulators in place of the blue pool noodles, but for now, this setup works beautifully! I love being able to have my racks spaced more comfortably for the saddles. 
It's a small change with big benefits. 
Overall I'm really happy with this space and how it has fallen together. I'd like to add a few more minor storage/organization things, but beyond that - I think we're close to "complete" finally.
I also adopted a mini fridge from a friend who was getting rid of it. I LOVE having it for my meds and for water and alcohol. Barn beers are an important part of barn chores, after all!

Lyme and Meningitis 

(If you like odd medical stories, this is for you - keep reading! If not, skip this section.) 

During the final 10 days of June, Dave came down with a sickness. Its initial onset presented as strong body aches that would evolve into a fever hours later. The fever and body aches continued for three straight days where Dave could hardly leave the couch. No other symptoms except he occasionally complained of his head hurting. The fever went from over 101°F to somewhere in the low 99°F range by Friday evening and he was able to rally and spend some time with friends. He was now complaining of a headache/migraine, but was otherwise "okay".  Until 4am Sunday when he woke me up in the worst pain of his life. 

We immediately headed north to Oakland, Maryland where we went into the ER. They found several incidental findings not related to his pain on an abdominal CT scan, nothing to report from two head/neck CT scans, and elevated liver enzymes in his bloodwork. They delivered toradol, morphine, and Ativan to his system while we were there, but nothing resolved his pain in the slightest. We were discharged with two scripts to fill for musculoskeletal pain "causing the headaches" and headed home. 

Once home, we each napped for about 3 hours (we were each operating on less than 3 hours of sleep to this point). Upon waking, I checked on Dave and he was no better. Worse even. His body was on fire. He was barely lucid. I'd been texting with 6 medical professional friends since 5:30am and was aware that this was No Good. Meningitis was looking very likely. So I packed bags for us very quickly and we headed to the nearest higher care facility in Morgantown, two hours north. 

My medical knowledge and savvy coupled with my vast network of medical professional friends and family helped us to get through the intake process at the Emergency Department quite quickly. Knowing buzz words to trigger triage of stuff like this is very beneficial. From the time we arrived until we were in a private room in the ED was less than 30 minutes. Through this entire process, Dave could barely talk. He was in so much pain that I became the mouthpiece with the medical team. They ran another gamut of tests and a suite of bloodwork and found that his C-Reactive Protein test was very elevated (in the 200s). From here, the team started taking things much more seriously. They administered a gamut of pain drugs once more, but nothing helped. At 8:30pm, Dave consented to a lumbar puncture and I left the hospital to spend the night with a friend. 

By the next morning, Dave was feeling much better - to the great relief of myself, friends, and family. They'd ruled out bacterial meningitis and were confident with a diagnosis of some kind of viral meningitis that wasn't caused by a herpes virus. Lyme was still on the table. As to the drugs responsible for helping him, we still didn't know. They administered 14 the night before in an attempt to get him comfortable.

I spent all of Monday at the hospital with Dave hanging out waiting on updates as the medical team received test results. Dave felt great all day and the team felt it was very safe to discharge him that evening (though they were also happy to keep him if he felt he wanted to stay). Right before discharge, some additional bloodwork was returned that noted the presence of IgG and IgM antibodies for Lyme in his blood indicating an active Lyme infection. While the team didn't draw an immediate conclusion that evening (still awaiting further test results), it is entirely possibly that his meningitis was catalyzed by Lyme. And so, they scripted him doxycycline with his discharge. 

As of this writing, we are home and Dave is holding stable, but is still a little uncomfortable. We're hanging low and hoping for steady improvement in coming days. 

Update: I wrote the above immediately following the incident. Since that time, Dave's western blot test results have been returned and were negative. Thus, doctors told him he did not have Lyme and did not need to take doxy. He spent about 2½ weeks building back up to his normal routine and - other than putting his back out this past weekend - has been great and has returned to life as usual. What a scare though! We're really grateful to have it in the rearview mirror. 


  1. I am so glad that you and Dave are both okay after your experiences, oh my gosh! I had a medical scare many years ago that turned out to NOT be meningitis, but I remember how awful that was and so I can only imagine how much worse it actually was for Dave 😭 and for you having to watch and run medical interfere. And your poor car, I can commiserate with the awful experience of a car being totaled and trying to replace it in this market 😬 your tack room is just 😍😍😍 though, so I'm glad for that eye candy in the middle of all the upheaval! Looking forward to continuing to stalk your social medias and maybe coming to visit you 😉

  2. Oh my gosh, poor Dave and poor car! I'm glad Dave is feeling much better, and I'm so sorry about your car but so glad you're OK. So scary all around!

  3. So glad things are improving! Poor Dave!
    I totaled my truck hitting a deer on the highway a few years ago and it's not an experience I'd wish on anyone :(

  4. yikes, what a rough go for you both -- hope you're both ok soon!

  5. JFC I'm glad y'all are both okay after the respective incidents. I hope the rest of the year is smooth sailing in good health

  6. Sorry June was rough for you guys... :-( I'm glad Dave is on the mend now - his illness sounds really scary and painful.

    I'm having a hard time also on regular blog updates. I have stuff from March to post still. ugh.