Saturday, August 16, 2014

It's not fall yet

It's still summer. Ordinarily I would be complaining about the heat. Today the high was 86. You'd think that we were in Hawaii... But, the geese are already forming into V's. This is not a good sign. We put a lot of notoriety on ground hogs in the spring, but the true sign of fall is geese. They usually start going into formation in late September or early October. The sign of a mild winter is for them to begin their formations around Thanksgiving. Last year they flocked in July. Remember Snowcalypse Atlanta? I'm glad that I have snow chains.

But it's not just the geese. This morning I woke up noon and it felt like early fall outside. there were dead leaves on the ground. And yes, I did see a V of geese fly by. I have spent many a birthday with temperatures approaching 100 degrees.

My birthday is Friday and I don't expect it to be so very hot. But I'm not going to be able to take it off work. Monday morning has turned out to be a bear. I need to do another 24 hour urine test tomorrow. Which means that I need to turn it in on Monday morning and have a blood test. Last time, it took me an hour to turn it in. After that I need to be a few miles away to have my arm measured for lymphedema. That appointment is at 10:30 and will take about 40 minutes. After that I need to be about 4 miles away to have my teeth cleaned. I will make it to work around 12:00. I will need the rest of the week to make up the time.

Today I named my new car. It looks like a storm trooper, so I have decided on Stormy. I like Yoda too, but Stormy is a natural. I have decided not to tell my friend at work, Stormy. I also washed it and got an oil change and emissions test. I also found out that I will be able to purchase new tires for about half of what I was afraid that would be needed. It will be a while before I need new tires, but I was lamenting the price. The car wash showed me the problem with the radio and it was an $8 fix. All I needed was a new antenna. I could even install it myself. It works great. Suddenly the truck feels like mine. I can't explain it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

35 Years

This is what I have been doing for the past 35 years. My oldest son turns 35 today.
Happy Birthday Tim!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Tears of a Clown

Sometimes people hide the deepest pain in humor. Good Night Robin Williams. 
The world will miss you in all of your vulnerability.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Transportation Instability

I had been driving a 2002 Chevy Impala for the past several years. It was a great car, but last year around this time it began having problems. After spending $1600 on repairs, the car died anyway. I was sad because this happened while I was trying to move into a better living situation. The area that I live in doesn't have public transportation and I work 24 miles away. Fortunately for me I carpool a lot and I have friends in the neighborhood who are more than happy for me to ride along with them. Plus, I have the most wonderful landlords ever who have 2 extra cars. But Still I have been counting on the charity of good people to be able to get to all the places that I have needed to be. Over the past few weeks that has been harder to do, I ended up renting a car.

My son has been driving a 1998 Mercury Mountaineer sense 2010. It is a good car. But it came to pass that he inherited a newer, smaller, less expensive to travel in and easier to handle for a person with rheumatoid arthritis car from his wife's grandmother. She isn't dead yet, but she understands that it is time for her to stop driving and live in a place where she can receive the support she needs. He would also like to build a fence around the back of his house so that his son will be free to go outside independently of having parents who can helicopter. He sold the Mountaineer to me for the price of the fence. The crazy thing is that the Impala and the Mountaineer get roughly the same gas mileage, which unfortunately isn't good. Still, I can get the price of gas down by carpooling and Kroger fuel points (discounts on gas for shopping at Kroger grocery stores.)

I can't say that I love the new car, but I am very grateful that I have an answer to my transportation instability while providing my grandson with independence.  I can't say that I hate the car. It has a lot of possibilities. It is just that I will almost never use anything other than the driver's seat. Still,  in the winter this truck has 4 wheel drive. It also came with snow chains. Even if UPS decides not to close during weather emergencies this winter, I will not be afraid to drive to work. I know nothing about snow chains, but I'm willing to bet that the best landlord ever does. He's a former military do it your selfer. The geese are already forming Vs this year. They don't usually do that until the end of September. The winter will be cold and snowy. I will be ready for it.

Thanks Tim and Jack for my transportation stability. It really feels good that after a year I am no longer worried about whether I can get where I need to be.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Week

From the roof of Tin Lizzy's
Oakland Cemetery
My week started here. I had slept through church. I woke up hungry and missing Mollie. Missing all my kids to be exact. I looked around and decided that there was nothing keeping me from taking a trip to the city to see her. She was at work, I had a captive audience. She was actually very happy to see me, and all her co-workers came up and introduced themselves. Of course, I got the family discount for my meal, but tipped my daughter for the full price of the meal. That's real important. If you get a discount meal, the discount comes from the restaurant, not the server. The tip is the server's only source of income. The $2.15 that they get paid from the restaurant all goes to taxes. An acceptable tip is 20% of the tab, 15% for sub-optimal service. The workman is worthy of his hire.

Later that evening, I can't remember why I went over to Mollie's new place. It's beautiful. It's in a quiet neighborhood. She has a deck and a fenced back yard. Her room mate grooms, boards and trains dogs. The room mate has a 16 month old child who lives there part time, and part time with the paternal grandparents. The room mate is thrilled to have found someone who loves both children and dogs. She commented to me that she had never seen anyone outside of her family sit down on the floor and play with her daughter until Mollie. It doesn't surprise me.

George has stopped barking when I come to the door. I am told that now he runs to the door expectantly and paces until someone lets me in. The barking was helpful.

After getting home late on Sunday night, I had to get up early on Monday to make it two appointments that I wrote about in the preceding post. Tuesday morning brought a surprise meeting that I thought had been was not. I stayed in the meeting for about 15 minutes. None of the speakers stood at the podium or directly in the front of the room where there were active mics. Instead they chose to stand to the side of the podium and speak in voices that did not carry. I finally decided that if they didn't wish to speak in a manner that could be heard, what they had to say was not worth my attention, or the time my company was paying for. I, like a few others, went back to my desk and did meaningful work.

On Tuesday night I realized that I am still not feeling much better than when I began the B12 shots. What's worse, I can tell from the paleness of my skin and the way I am feeling that I am still anemic. I went online to learn the shelf life of cyanocobalamin. It turns out to be 3 months after it's been opened and unopened by the date on the bottle. I had never noticed any dates on the bottles. Ummm...Uh Ohh.... I had to throw away almost 4 years worth of the stuff...that I had paid for! I also had to call Dr. R for a new prescription. I'm sure that I'm the joke of the office now. "There's an elephant in the room, who knew?" 

Mean while, my wonderful landlords are filling my coffers with fresh vegetables.

After years of renting from a slum lord I feel like I have left purgatory and moved into heaven. I may never move out of here. I feel sad that I couldn't provide somewhere this safe and welcoming when Mollie was a child. But we are both in good places now.

On Wednesday evening Tim was supposed to pick me up and drive me to Alabama where I could pick up the truck that I am buying from him. I the evening while leaving work, I called him to enquirer about when I could expect him. Turns out that he wasn't planning to leave until 6:30 pm central time, which is 7:00 pm eastern time. That would put him getting here at 10:00 pm. We would  then travel three more hours to Auburn and get there at 12:00 their time and 1:00 my time. I would have to travel back three hours that would put me getting home at 4:00 am. Did I mention that I'd had a nightmare the night before that woke me up at 2:30 and I couldn't get back to sleep? On top of all of that he was having a RA flair. Folks, this isn't happening. We both called it off and decided to do a re-do on Sunday. Fine, but I have to get someone to cover lighting and presentation at church. Not a big deal. 

Not having any obligation I made dinner plans with Mollie and Caleb for Saturday night. I haven't really seen them together as a couple since their break-up last year. On Thursday Tim called and told me that he made plans with me not knowing that Jenn had made previous plans for Sunday. He wanted to know if I could change to Saturday. Actually, Saturday works out better for me. I can pick up the truck (not a pun) and be back in plenty of time to have dinner with Mollie and Caleb. And while I will have a nice amount of time with Tim, I will be cutting Jack's time short. I hate that. 

So, I hadn't heard back from the pharmacist regarding the new prescription for the cyanocobalamin by this afternoon so I called. My head exploded! I didn't yell or rant at the pharmacist. It isn't his fault. There is a shortage of cyanocobalamin because it has become so popular among alternative health activists. What? They can get all the B12 that they need from eating an egg,  a piece of chicken or even from just drinking a glass of milk. But I can't metabolize it from those sources any more and they are putting my life in danger. I can die a nasty death because they need an energy boost? For the love of all things Holy!!! I survived stage 3 breast cancer and suffer because a hippy wants a fix? For the love of all things Holy. My head exploded...again.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Another Medical Monday

The upside of arranging yearly check-up appointments a year in advance is that I don't forget to make them. The downside is that I forget that I made them until the reminder pops up in my calendar. I made my appointment with Dr. Pop a year ago. When I made the appointment with the new nephrologist that Dr. D wanted me to see, I didn't have that calendar open. I managed to miss my goal of not having two medical appointments on the same day. Fortunately they were far enough apart that I had plenty of time to travel between them. Plenty of time is a good thing when you are navigating the Emory healthcare system. I think they pride themselves on having the most difficult and expensive parking arrangements available. For me, it is the only truly annoying thing about waiting to see a doctor. As I am waiting the parking rate is steadily rising. I have paid as much as $20 for parking in one of their decks. My co-pay for the appointment with the specialist was less than half of that. I wanted to snap at the attendant, but he doesn't set the rate so what good would that accomplish?

The first appointment was with Dr. Pop. This is the only facility where I don't have to pay parking. Unfortunately it is hard to find a parking space there. I had to park in the back and walk around to the entrance. The early morning was cool so at least I didn't get all sweaty.

I had hoped that because it was an early morning appointment I wouldn't have to wait long. I was mistaken. The waiting room was filled with mostly octogenarian men. A few were accompanied by their wives or their daughters but I could tell by the name called that the men were the patients. In a lot of the appointments that I go to I am either too young or the wrong gender to be in the waiting room as the patient. I would not have considered a dermatologist's office to fit into that category. It did. One of the elderly gentlemen was sitting in the chair beside mine. He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye and said "You seem to be in the wrong office." I had noticed that. 

I waited for nearly 2 hours and was considering if I could afford to wait much longer because of my next appointment. The waiting room had filled and emptied twice by the time I was called back. It's not all that unusual because there are seven doctors and two PAs in this group. Dr. Pop is an oncological and reconstructive surgeon as well as a dermatologist. Almost all of the patients he sees have or have had skin cancer. With my history of cancer and family history of melanoma I see him every year, but I usually have a wait. 

The visit with Dr. Pop was over in about five minutes. I assume that he was doing mohs surgery on someone or something because he usually spends more time. But then, he usually removes something suspicious every visit. This time there was nothing to remove. I left with all my skin intact. He did give me strong instructions on what to look for and to come back in if I found anything like it., and a bag full of sunscreen.

I had a few minutes to stop at Yogli Mogli on the way to the next appointment. I was starving by the time I left Dr. Pop's and wanted some peach frozen yogurt. I love their peach in the summer and their pumpkin spice in the fall. I have to stop at least one time in the season.

I took the interstates to get to the next appointments. I usually try to avoid them and take back roads. I know the back roads to most of that area of town, but it had been years since I'd been there and was afraid that the one way directions may have been changed for a few of them. It wasn't rush hour, so traffic was pretty light and that helped. I got to the midtown hospital with about 30 minutes to spare. That was fortunate because I couldn't find the entrance to the parking deck and parked in the parking lot across the street from the hospital. 

There was a young man who was having the same problem as I was. We walked in together and I was surprised when he also went up to the nephrology clinic.  We sat together and chatted while we waited. He feels the same way I do about feeling out of place in these rooms. I laughed and said that at least my hair was the right color. He shot back that at least his skin was the right color. I looked around the room and had to admit that he was right. The majority of the people in that room were African Americans. Again I was surprised because I have never thought of kidney disease as primarily affecting elderly black men. The young man did not tell me why he was there nor did he ask why I had the misfortune to be there also.

The wait wasn't quite as long as the morning one had been. The office staff were nice and very helpful. The nurse was friendly and explained everything. The doctor is pretty green. I think that I have children older than him. But the was very thorough. He seems pretty smart too. Like I suspected, he wants to redo the 24 hour urine, so I will be storing pee for another day. He also wants a complete blood work-up at the same time. He has ordered test to look for antibodies that detect things like RA, Lupus and a few other autoimmune diseases. I have no idea what that has to do with kidney disease. I'm afraid to Google it.

I left about 3:30 and was able to get out in the sunshine in the afternoon. I didn't stay long as the 90 + degree weather got to me in a hurry. Still the brief escape from cubeland was welcome. I ended the day with no cancer and no answer which was what I was expecting. 

By the end of the year I have at least 10 more medical appointments and that is if I don't schedule an eye exam. The next one is next week with Dr. Sh. Ten years ago, we were scheduling surgery. This time is just the yearly mammogram and ultrasound. It still boggles my mind that ten years ago nobody expected me to still be around.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Dr. T Today

I went to see Dr. T today. He assured me that he isn't thinking of completely retiring and that was a relief. I have been seeing him for 25 years. He delivered Mollie. I do not want to find another doctor. He did ask about the black eyes and the knot on my forehead and was disturbed that I didn't go to an emergency room, but I think that he mostly understood my reasons. He agrees with me that emergency rooms can be brutal and that a lot of people are just too sick to navigate them, but not sick enough to be an urgent admission. He wants me to see a neurologist, but his first suggestion is a doctor whom I have already seen and wrote off as sleazy. He agreed that he is sleazy, but said that he is one of the best in the city. Sorry, but I think that I will pass. I am already feeling better. Not good as new, but much better. Sorry, but Dr. Sleaze just doesn't appeal to me.

I go see my dermatologist and the new nephrologist on Monday. I hope my face looks a little less rough by then.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Getting Hard to Hide

I have bought about $30 of make-up just to hide the bruises. On the right is my heavily made up face. Can you see the bruises? I am a little amazed what make-up can do. The problem is that a little bit of sweat or a tear running down my eye, or even just a few hours of make up melt will leave the bruises showing again. I will be glad when all of this heals. But until then, I have to visit three doctors, one of them is my dermatologist who will make me wash off my make up. I can't really remember what happened, so this should be interesting. I just know that I fainted and I hit my head and I have been confused and disoriented quite a bit ever since.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

The New Colossus 
Emma Lazarus