Friday, April 29, 2011

The Foot that Ate Pennsylvania!

Pics or it didn't happen, right? As I said yesterday, I wanted to post the x-rays, but then no one would really know what they were looking at, anyway. Unless one of you is secretly a radiologist and has been holding out on me.

Anyway, last night was a bit rough on Becky. She had a paper due today, and was making herself crazy trying to get it done. Her eyes were bleeding from staring at a computer screen for so long, and gray matter was oozing from her ears, having fried it while trying to think her way through a subject that means next to nothing for her. (A recent conversation with an employed nurse reveals that requiring a future nurse to take sociology was just the school's way of making money.) Since my beloved has been taking me to doctor's and a few tests, I felt it unfair that she should be made crazy due to a lack of time to do her work. Thus, I suggested she take a few pictures of my foot with her phone and that I also write a note to her professor, asking for an extension until Monday. While she refused to take a letter to him, she was willing to take pics and e-mail them to me.

Thus, I have photographic evidence of what's going on.

That said, my opinion is that my foot is looking uglier than ever. Some may be upset at seeing the size and shape of my foot. If that's the case, I'll give a little filler so you won't have to see the pics immediately. Just skip this post in the future, or perhaps come back when you have nothing in your stomach to bring up.

As to the filler. The most I can think of, besides just throwing in the lyrics to a song, is to correct something I said yesterday. I was under the goofy impression I had a doctor's appointment on Monday, and that's incorrect. What WAS scheduled was a thrilling gastric emptying time test. This promised to be lots of fun, especially when I was given the list of restrictions prior to the test. Just like surgery, there was to be no food after midnight. For two days prior to the test, I wouldn't be permitted to take any Xanax. There was also to be no pain meds the morning of the test, as they would slow my metabolism down enough to affect the results. Then, upon arrival at the hospital, they would feed me a nuclear breakfast. I'm not kidding. It would be a meal sprinkled with radioactive matter that could be followed with radiography.

Well, the situation with my foot simply made most of those restrictions impossible with which to comply. The stress of dealing with my foot has me taking Xanax nightly, and if I become particularly upset with it during the day, I will take a 1/4 dose to calm down. And the idea of going without painkillers...? I might have tried to swing that prior to this flare-up of Charcot's foot, but I wouldn't dare try it now. With this being a four-hour test, I would have sat around in tears the whole time, begging for SOMEONE to run and get me a shot of SOMETHING! No, I couldn't possibly do what they were asking of me.

So it is was that I called yesterday and canceled the test. The technician who answered tried to put me at ease, but I told her it was no good. I wasn't supposed to take painkillers the morning of the test, and the condition of my foot made that impossible at this time. I told her to cancel my spot, and that I would be in touch when I was in better shape for the test...eventually.

As for the ACTUAL date of my PCP visit, that's set for Friday.

Okay...Almost enough filler. Just a little more, so that sensitive eyes and stomachs can look elsewhere.

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Okay, folks. Here we go...


This would be the side I'm most accustomed to seeing. Note that there's virtually no sign of the ankle bone. The edema is so great that almost all details are lost. There's a scar along my ankle, and when the swelling is at its greatest, it feels like my foot wants to split open along it. Also, and this could just be my imagination, but there almost appears to be a lump along the arch. I've had a great deal of pain radiating from that spot. Years ago, that was the site of a broken bone. It usually aches in bad weather, but these days it feels as though someone is stabbing me there. =*(



This is the side I don't look at often. Why should I? I know the ankle's in bad shape. Seeing more of it won't change that fact. Seeing it now, I keeping thinking, Leg...leg...leg...ANKLE, ANKLE, ANKLE, ANKLE...Oh, look...it's the sole of the foot looking dry, but normal. How'd I pull that off? My understanding is that the bones in my ankle could actually be slightly dislocated or suffering micro-fractures. Looks fun, doesn't it?

Oh, but I know what you're thinking. Come on, Rob. It doesn't look THAT bad. You said it looked like someone had inserted a softball into your foot. That's nowhere near the size of said ball. Well, you have to understand that my foot had been elevated for some time before that picture, and I'd been making every effort to stay off it for an hour or two before it was taken. But to make it clear as to how bad it is, we have...



The comparison picture. My feet aren't pretty to begin with, but you can at least make out some of the details of my left foot. (The dark coloring that seems to dominate the front portion of my left foot is a shadow, and nothing more. That shadow, however, meets with a scar at the top of my foot. That said, I do not have any severe issues with my left foot at this time.) Becky did her best to get them at the same angle, but the extreme swelling makes judging such a thing difficult.

And that's all for today. More than enough, really. I need to get some rest. Be well, all, and DFTBA.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

So...much...pain...

Today has been one of those day where I simply want to tear my leg off and be done with everything from the knee on down. I'm holding out for doctors' appointments that I have on Monday and Tuesday, but it's rough.

I went and had x-rays and blood work done yesterday. I have no results on either. But the folks at the x-ray department did hand me a copy of the x-rays on disc. And you know what that means, don't you? Yep! It meant I was going to head home and pop that disc into my computer in a feeble attempt at reading them. That I have no formal education on reading an x-ray meant little. I was going to try.

Really shouldn't have done that.

I would love to post the pictures here, or anywhere for that matter, but there's no way to reformat the x-rays from the program on the disc. The pictures that interested me most were those of the ankle. Now, if you look online for x-rays of a healthy ankle, you'll notice a lot of white in the joint. There's a lot of bones in that area, and when they overlap as they do in an x-ray, it appears as a frightening solid white mass that is actually normal. On mine, however, there was even MORE white in the area. Having had doctor's point at x-rays to show me things, I think I'm seeing a lot of "calcium clouds." They appear over bones that are trying to heal after being damaged. If I'm right, my calcium clouds form an actual "calcium storm front."

Having had to be up and around yesterday, lugging that CAM walker on my right foot, my knee is complaining today. Remember, this knee is now missing 40% of its medial meniscus, so it wasn't very happy to begin with. So now it hurts.

All of this pain has me wanting to keep taking pills until it goes away. A part of me doesn't want diminished pain; I want it GONE! That's not going to happen, so I shoot for something that is semi-comfortable under the circumstances. And even that's not easy. I have been desperately trying to stay within the parameters of the doses given by my doctors, and for the very first time in a very long time, I broke the rules. I took an extra pill yesterday, and was rewarded with a degree of comfort. And that, my friends, is bad news.

Why is it bad? Because I'm going to sit here in pain and be sorely tempted, (pun fully intended), to take extras to gain relief. It means running out of pills faster. It also means risking an accidental overdose. I may not be feeling these painkillers 100% anymore, but that doesn't mean they aren't having their alternate effect of suppressing my respiratory system. I could cause myself to accidentally stop breathing. Yes..."accidentally." And that doesn't make for happily ever after with Becky at all.

Thus, I wait for Monday's appointment with my PCP, and my Tuesday's appointment with the new podiatrist. On both days, if necessary, I will be discussing some way toward pain management that doesn't involve the possibility of accidental overdoses. In my mind, the most effect method would be a morphine drip. Morphine directly into a vein would be more effective, and would be managed by computer, not allowing for an overdose at all. And if there's breakthrough pain, I'll press the button and get a boost of morphine, also controlled.

But can this be done at home? Will it ABSOLUTELY need to happen in a hospital? Is there no chance of a nurse being assigned to come to my home daily to check on the machine, the catheter, and meds? I have no answers, and hope to get them next week. I don't want to be hospitalized unless absolutely necessary, and would rather not be on a morphine drip. But if that's the answer, I'll go that route, if only to not have to lie in bed, wincing every now and again because it feels that bad.

Be well, all, and DFTBA!

Monday, April 25, 2011

An extremely isolated fever

Don't ask me the exact numbers. I don't remember them. All I know is that there is a two degree difference between my right foot and my left foot. Thus, my right foot seems to be running a fever...and just my right foot. The only thing I can truly recall is that there was a two degree difference between my feet, measured in Celsius. And that's not good.

Obviously, I saw the new podiatrist today. He seems like a nice enough guy. He actually went right at my toenails, clipping them, while also denoting an ulcer on the second toe of my left foot. No drainage, so it should be okay.

But the right foot...Well, he wants to refer me to what I guess would be considered a "specialist's specialist." This other doctor focuses on the bones of the ankle, and it's pretty obvious that that's where my problem is. In fact, when the doc stepped into the room, he asked what he could do for me. I gestured to my right foot and said, "Welcome to the wonderful world of Charcot-Marie-Tooth's foot." When he saw my ankle, his first response was, "Wow." I don't think that was a good response.

So we talked about what to do. He wrote orders for a set of x-rays, as well as some blood work. He wrote a prescription for antibiotics, just in case. And then he put his staff to work on getting me in to see the other specialist. I was stunned when I learned that the soonest they could see me was 22 June. That's too long to sit around and deal with this pain, and I will head for an ER if it remains as bad as it is. That said, I'll try to hold out until I see either my PCP or have the followup with the podiatrist.

I expressed my fear of being sent directly to a hospital. He said that that wasn't out of the realm of possibility, but to get x-rays and blood taken care of first. If something shows up, they'll call.

And so I'm back to playing the waiting game. And while I wait, I get to imagine all kinds of terrible things occurring inside my foot. It would be nice if I could control my morbid imagination, but if you saw this ankle...Well, it's a frightening sight, and imagining the worst comes easily.

Be well, all. Weller than me, anyway. And DFTBA.

Friday, April 22, 2011

I don't mean to harp...

...but this right ankle of mine has me quite concerned.

I went and saw an endocrinologist last Wednesday. (You'd think that'd be a little more important to report than watching a good movie.) She saw my ankle and wanted to know if I'd set up an appointment for a podiatrist. I said I did, and that appointment is coming up on Monday.

What seemed to upset me most was the SIZE of my ankle. It's as though someone replaced the joint with a softball. The doctor also noted that it was red, while I further noticed that it was warm. These would normally be deemed signs of infection, except that it's known I have Charcot's foot. And it's just...

Well, the problem is this. It can take many months to treat this condition, which may well include a cast. One of the things I was hoping for when I moved in with Becky was the ability to go for nice, long walks and talk about...whatever. Now I fear our talks will have to take place in bed, with me in an immobilizing cast, and me just being miserable because I can't actually do anything.

Mind you, I take great pleasure from doing what little I can. I feel good about myself, and life in general, when I'm able to have dinner ready and waiting for when Becky gets hoe from work. (I make such a lovely housewife, don't I?) The meals are simple and quickly prepared, but it's still something. Instead, I'm being presented with a condition that has great capacity to feed my depression. I get to feel even more useless than before.

This makes me glad of two things.

First, that I left the guys behind in KS. They were great, and very understanding of my illnesses. Still, this virtual need to babysit me shouldn't have been their job. That should have been a loved one. Someone...I dunno...like a brother, perhaps? Instead, when I was supposed to seek refuge under the roof of family, my brother flipped me the existential bird. Had I moved there, I would have been in even greater trouble. So, while I'm thankful the guys were there for me during the trials for the year and four months I lived with them, I'm also glad to have relieved them of such responsibility.

Alternatively, I'm glad to be with Becky. Not only is her level of caring obvious, but there's also the amount of love she feels for me. How she remains so patient under the circumstances is beyond me. When I came here, things were supposed to improve. Instead, they took a massive backward step when my foot decided to start becoming completely unglued...almost LITERALLY!

I've been at the computer long enough, folks. It's time to get back to bed and keep this foot level with my hip to reduce swelling. I just...I just wish my life had started down a better path, instead of one so frightening and frustrating.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Some Kind of Wonderful

Ever seen it? Well, I was still a movie theater usher back in 1987 when the last John Hughes teen-coming-of-age flick was released. Hughes wanted Molly Ringwald for the role of Watts, but she turned it down, wanting to move on to movies about grownups. Thankfully, he got Mary Stuart Masterson for the role, and she was great in it.

Anyway, the tale is summed up thusly...Teen boy wants teen girl that's supposedly out of his league. Alternatively, the girl that's interested in him is also his best friend. Amidst all this, boy has a father that can think of nothing but college for his son and a sister who only craves popularity. How, pray tell, will it all work out? No great mystery, as there was a clear formula to teen romances back in the 80s...and since, to be honest.

So while shopping online recently, I found a used copy of this movie for under $5. I couldn't resist. As far as I'm concerned, it contains some of the best writing to ever come from the late John Hughes. The story and its plot are obvious. There are no real surprises...EXCEPT when it comes to the dialogue. And because the movie arrived today and I've watched it, I feel it absolutely necessary to share the best of its quotes.

After breaking up a potential fight between the character of Duncan and Keith, a teacher then starts busting the former. It starts when the teacher pulls a pack of smokes off the kid. "Those aren't mine," Duncan says. The teacher then pulls a half-full bottle of booze from the kid's pocket. "Ah, man...That's just for show. I don't - " Finally, the teacher pulls a deck of cards with naked women on them. With perfect timing, Duncan says, "Y'see, those were a gift from...from your wife."

Having asked out the beautiful Amanda Jones, Keith is seated with his family around the table the next morning. The fact that oddball Keith has made a date with Amanda has his sister,
Laura, baffled. After some verbal banter and dad comments sarcastically that he's glad Keith has time for girls and not important things like college, Laura pipes up with, "Ease up, dad. Any fool can get into a college. Only a precious few may say the same about Amanda Jones." =D

During an intense argument, Keith's father states that Keith is only 18, as if to indicate that this is reason enough for the teen to have no idea about what he's talking about. To this, Keith replies, "Then I'm 19, then I'm 20...When does my life belong to me?"

Keith: Nobody can stand being alone. The minute you stop thinking there's someone out there for you, it's over, isn't it?

Amanda: ...I'd rather be next to someone for the wrong reasons than alone for the right ones.
Keith: I'd rather be right.

These are the best of them, but not all of the good stuff. There's a lot that happens in terms of visual dynamics to go with the words, as is hinted at with my description of the scene with Duncan. Really...It's all good stuff, and I think this movie went largely unnoticed. And it's definitely worth a watch.

I just wanted to share this celluloid nugget. And as soon as I can, I'll be subjecting Becky to it. =)

Be well, all, and DFTBA!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Bad Night

Last night, I wrote about being out and about in the world, being silly with most humans I encountered. What I failed to discuss in that post, as well as with Becky, was exactly how bad I was actually feeling.

This right ankle of mine, which has yet to be looked at by a doctor, was aching beyond the capacity of my meds. It's my assumption that it's a result of Charcot's foot, as it resembles many of the pictures I've seen of the condition as it advances. It's something to consider what the pain would have been like had I not been taking morphine, oxycodone, AND dilaudid. Recent glances stolen at the ankle have me thinking that BIG trouble is brewing there.

Thankfully, I'm seeing an endocrinologist on the 20th and a podiatrist on the 25th.

That said, something funny happened this morning. I received a call from what is apparently an education center for diabetes. They were referred to me by my new PCP. This poor woman on the phone...She sat there, trying to tell me about the referral, and I'm saying in disbelief to the idea, "Ummm...I'm a diabetic for over 36 years and writing a book about diabetes. I don't think I need to be educated on it." I told her I'd discuss the referral with my doctor when I saw him, but I have to admit that I was tempted to make an appointment, just to go there and see if they knew something I didn't.

In a recent correspondence with another diabetic, I shared a tiny snippet of my manuscript. I told him not to share it, but then it's not really anything so personal that it can't be shared openly. What's more, it's an accurate answer to the question, "What is diabetes?"

Within the pancreas are approximately 100,000 islets of Langerhans. This is where insulin is produced, stored, and released. Each islet has about 1000 to 2000 beta cells. The beta cells are primarily responsible for insulin production.

Other important regions of the islets of Langerhans are the alpha cells and delta cells. Alpha cells produce and release glucagon, which is used to raise blood sugar levels when necessary. Delta cells create somatostatin, a chemical that mediates on behalf of insulin by blocking glucagon. Finally, there are PP cells that release pancreatic polypeptides to control all of the insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin activity.

“How does all of this work together?” It’s like this…If you intake sugar, the regulatory parts of the brain sends messages to the beta cells by way of the PP cells to release insulin. As the sugar gets broken down, the insulin attaches to various cells to allow the glucose molecules (sugar) into those cells. Keep in mind that sugar is a major source of energy, right on down to a microscopic level. If the cells inside your body can’t get their sugar fix, they will force other substances to become energy. That’s very bad. (Diabetic ketoacidosis is discussed later.)

Those who are active in sports benefit from the actions of the alpha cells. As you run, jump, sing, dance, or what have you, the alphas release glucagon to give you a much needed boost in fuel.

If there is confusion inside the body, however, and the alpha cells try to raise your blood glucose when you don’t need it, the delta cells will release the somatostatin to block the glucagon, thereby allowing the insulin to do its job. (Don’t ask me how or where the confusion originates. I can only assume it involves some kind of naturally occurring chemical imbalance.)

After all that, it becomes quite simple. If you don’t have any insulin, only a small amount of insulin being produced, or your body is unable to use the insulin in your body…You’re a diabetic.

Far more accurate than the common statement, "Diabetics simply aren't allowed sugar." Said statement is inaccurate and virtually impossible to make a reality, as almost everything eaten produces some kind of sugar in the end.

So...does it seem like I'd need a diabetic educator of any sort? =P

No, what I need is this foot fixed, and I'm fearful of what that'll entail. There are times when I want to "skip to the chase," as they say, and have the foot removed. The problem with that is that it doesn't solve anything. Not really. It just exchanges one set of problems for another. I've lived with an amputee. Things weren't easy.

I'm also a brilliant kind of klutz. I can easily see myself on more than one morning, waking up and forgetting that I'm missing a foot. "Face, meet floor. Floor, this is face."

And now that I'm thinking about it so clearly, I think it's time to take some anxiety medication and get some rest. Be well, all, and DFTBA.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Can't take me anywhere

So...Becky's grandpa and mom have birthdays coming up this weekend. She was going to go to Walmart to get cards and gifts alone, but I had an idea to cope with my right ankle so that I could go along. Y'see, I still have the CAM Walker that I was given years ago. It has a few more straps than the one I had before it, so it's that much more effective at isolating the movement of my foot. Lo and behold, once it was on, my ankle was no longer cracking and grinding.

Off we went to Walmart to shop for various things. And, as is my habit when it comes to dealing with the stress brought on from my medical woes, I turned into Captain Comedy.

To start with, I got one of the motorized carts to get around the store. The CAM walker might be helpful, but my knees are still tender from the surgeries not long ago. So I got in the cart, and I immediately commented how I wanted to race a senior citizen that I saw in a wheelchair near to us. "Come on, old man. I'll smoke you in this thing!"

Then there were the two women shopping in the same aisle that we were in. It's odd how THEY apologized to me for almost colliding, when I was the one talking up the most space. Amidst the banter that had all of the ladies laughing, including the one I love, one crossed my mind that I wasn't able to get out, "Oh, don't worry. I got the accidental death and dismemberment insurance on this thing when I took it out."

Becky almost panicked when I started backing up and almost took out a Harry Potter display. Not sure what she was worried about. A good "repairo" would have taken care of said display.

On our way to the registers, a brother and sister combo were chasing one another around the store with no regard for their surroundings. The younger of the two, the boy, almost made a grate-shaped impression on his face from the bin attached to the front of the cart I was driving. As his mother had been trying to get them to calm down beforehand. I went into "guardian mode" and told him he could've gotten seriously hurt, as his face was low enough to have hit his face against the cart. The mother thanked me for giving that little talk to him...although I skipped the part where I was tempted to run the kids down to help her stop them from running around like lunatics.

I wasn't done, even after we left Walmart. We decided to treat ourselves to some Subway sandwiches for dinner, rather than have to cook when we got home. They had a huge banner over the window announcing that we could get any sandwich for $5 after 4:00 PM. It was 3:50 when we entered the store. I asked the girl at the register if we really had to wait until 4:00, hoping that the huge boot covering the lower portion of my right leg would inspire a break in policy, but she said we had to wait. I turned to Becky and made an announcement of my own: "Honey, we have to wait. So we hate her, now," indicating the cashier.

More laughs all around.

During the wait, I suggested to Becky that we might be able to speed things along if we stood inside and stared at the cashier. If she asked why we were staring, I would have said, "Oh, nothing, really. We were just thinking how good you'd look locked in our basement." Not sure why, but Becky seems to think the cashier would've called the cops.

Upon our return, we were stuck in line behind a mother and her kids. Mind you, she only had one son in her arms when we got there, but another boy joined her in short order. He was staring at me because of the CAM walker, so I screwed up my eyes and said in a silly voice, "Yeeees? Can I help you?" The boy immediately leaned into his mother, his bold staring turning into shyness. His mother clarified that I was being silly, which was spot on.

When we got into the car, I said, "You can't take me anywhere."

"No, I can't, my crazy-ass man," she said.

'Well, think about how much fun Shawn was when you'd go anywhere with him. Did you even go out with him?"

"We'd go food shopping together," she said.

"Yeah...but even shopping is more fun with me," I countered.

"That's for sure...crazy-ass man."

That's been her latest nickname for me. I usually have two responses for it when I'm up to physical humor. The first is to shake my butt chaotically, making it clear that I do, indeed, have a case of "crazy-ass." The other response is to grab her butt, as I'm operating under the assumption that she believes me to be a crazy ass-man. =P

I may be more of a hermit most of the time, and I'm certainly down a great deal about my physical woes, but when it comes to shooting for the laugh, I'm not above making a fool out of myself in public.

Be well, all, DFTBA, and remember..."The catnip danced bananas under the full tape recorder!" o.O

Note: This post doesn't come close to the amount of kidding around that I did. I was joking around about almost everything we saw and did. The above are just a few examples.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

We were due

It started yesterday when Becky got home from classes. She got started on cleaning the dishes, which she's done before...but this time I actually saw her in the act. Our sink has two sections. There's the left side, which is larger and often filled with all of the dirty dishes. The right side is half the size of the left and OCCASIONALLY empty. Becky washed the dishes and not rinse them right away, but place them in the right section of the sink.

This almost had my jaw drop. Clean dishes...back into the sink...that isn't quite clean?!? The verminophobe in me wanted to scream. (My fear of germs comes from so many infections throughout my life.) So I made a comment that she was doing it wrong, to which she replied, "Fine. You do the dishes, then." She rinsed her hands and walked away to do her homework, leaving the chore to me.

Well, they needed doing, so I did them. When I got to the main living area/bedroom, she had her ear buds in and working, so I didn't interrupt her. Instead, I settled down to watch some programs on Hulu. And it was during an episode of House that my brain decided I should have an anxiety attack. I popped half a Xanax and then...brushed my teeth. Yeah, I don't understand it either. I've been having greater and greater oral issues, so I used that moment to brush and rinse my mouth with this truly grotesquely flavored, viscous Novocaine wash. (That's viscous, not vicious.)

I guess I was in there a while, because Becky came knocking to see if I was okay. I told her my state, adding that I needed to go sit down. I thought she was avoiding me, so I called her to "the futon that's probably forgotten how to be a couch." I further told her that I could use some cuddling and talk time. So we relaxed and had us a chat.

Sharing every intimate moment on this blog shouldn't be the norm, so it's not going to happen this time around. Suffice to say we talked a few things out and, for the moment, all is well between us. Not "as well as it can be." All is well.

No, this post is about the fact that we were due to have some kind of blowout. Compared to how it could have gone, this was EXTREMELY mild. No raised voices. No throwing things. Just me and my beloved having a disagreement.

The anxiety attack...? Well, it COULD have been triggered by the whole thing with the dishes, but I can't say that with any conviction, as it wasn't on my mind when I started feeling "trapped." And "trapped" is the only way I can describe it. I felt trapped in my own skin, which probably doesn't make any sense to someone who's never felt it. What's more, this strange sensation only increases for me, which is why I required medication.

Back to Becky and I...Our greatest "argument" to date has been who'll pay for what. Fast food, groceries, things for our home. It's more common for us to be silly and "fight" over who loves who more. (Try not to puke on your computer.) My personal point of view is that the couple that doesn't argue is probably in trouble. They're not discussing issues, bottling them up, to the point that they end up exploding when least expected. And it tends to be the little things, too. The dirty dishes in the sink, the toothpaste uncapped in the bathroom, or the clothing in a heap NEXT TO the laundry hamper. Such things have probably ended as many relationships as have money issues.

So...13 May marks a year for me and Becky. In all that time, we haven't had a "real" argument. Now, to an extent, we have. And while having such disagreements aren't fun, I'm glad we had it. It let's me know that we're doing just fine, and that we have a chance to make this last for the forever that we crave.

And to my sweet, beautiful Becky...Thank you for holding me when I needed it. Thank you for talking with me. Thank you for listening. These are the REAL reasons I love you, and not because you have a great pair of..."assets."

Now that that's out of me, I have a pair of texts that still require my attention. I've been trying to meld two different versions of the same story into one, and it's resisting my efforts. I'm gonna go take a hammer and chisel to the words to see if I can't make them fit properly. Be well, all, and DFTBA!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Little Fuzzy on the issues

I'm excited. I'm excited for two reasons.

The first is that I did a good thing and made Becky a happy camper. Y'see, she's been working real hard by...ummm...working real hard at an icky job, and going to school, and doing homework. So I was online, looking for something else, when I was informed that shipping would be free for stuff that I wanted if I bought over $25 worth of stuff. I had $23 worth of stuff, so I asked Becky if she'd like anything. She requested an old game that she missed playing, so I bought it for her. Well, it arrived yesterday in the mail, and Becky has been like a kid on Christmas, playing with her new old game for many, many hours.

The other reason I'm excited is...Well, I have this book. It's a novel I've enjoyed reading since the 80s. It actually contains TWO novels, (darn you, blogspot for not letting me underline things anymore!), "Little Fuzzy" and "Fuzzy Sapiens," written in 1962 and 1964 respectively. Together, they make the novel "The Fuzzy Papers."

It's most amusing to see what H. Beam Piper, the author, thought of in terms of the future. Two examples that come to mind are how they record data...on tape. They then share information my either shipping the tape great distances or transmitting them locally at an increased speed. This, then, was his idea of the height of technology. That, and almost EVERYONE smokes. Pipes, cigars, cigarettes...Almost every character is lighting up in a chapter at one point of another, reflecting the fact that smoking was not only thoroughly acceptable back in the 1960s, but practically encouraged.

I find the book fascinating because it's grand, science fiction premise is, "What makes any race of beings sentient?" The story establishes that the law states, "If a race of beings can talk and build fires, then they're sentient." Whether or not there are indigenous sentient beings on a planet will change that planet's classification, so this becomes a sticking point for the plot. There's very little in the way of action, with most of it being intellectual or somewhat suspenseful.

Every now and again, when I can't think of anything better to do with my time, I'll reread my "Fuzzy Papers." Alas, my copy has been falling apart...rather badly, I might add. So I hopped onto the internet in search of this book that is...well, it's out of print. Gone the way of the dodo, it has. Finding it was going to be impossible, right? Oh, come on. Who am I kidding? If it exited at almost any time, odds are you can find it on the web, as long as it's not an artifact.

But in my search for "The Fuzzy Papers," I discovered that a book is due out come this May. "Fuzzy Nation," by John Scalzi. It's not a sequel, as others have taken to writing when it comes to Fuzzies. No...it's a REBOOT! First time it's been done with a book, as far as anyone knows. He's taken the original story and characters and is bringing them back in a whole new way, and I'm juiced. What's more, although it wasn't required, he received the blessing of the Piper Estate to publish the work.

This is how I ended up with that $23 order. I picked up a copy of "The Fuzzy Papers," as well as pre-ordered "Fuzzy Nation." The first book arrived the same day as Becky's game, which means my mind has been filled with Fuzzy visions. And come May, it'll happen again with an entirely new Fuzzy novel!

It feels kinda good to make a blog post that isn't fretting over one thing or another. =) Be well, all, and DFTBA!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Young is, in fact, young

Dr. Young, that is. I think that if he lacked facial hair, I would have been asking if he was even old enough to be skipping high school classes. "You should stay in school and at least try to get your high school diploma."

But I was impressed by his friendly nature, ability to listen and to answer questions. He and his staff were friendly and smiled easily at my lunatic behavior. But the truly important part of the visit was the discussion of my medical needs.

He has no problem with prescribing me my various medications, including the narcotics. When I explained how it was that I was on two different medications for breakthrough pain, he didn't blink, agreeing to give me prescriptions for both oxycdone and dilaudid. And I don't think I properly explained it here, so...I had the knee surgery. I went from being okay to being in a lot of pain. The surgeon wanted to send me to physical therapy three days before I was moving from KS. Since that wasn't going to work, I spoke with my pain doc and explained that even my regular meds weren't enough, and that I could use something extra for said woes. As an added bonus, he could write for extra pain meds, and then I would be someone else's problem. Thus, he wrote a prescription for dilaudid on top of my oxycodone.

Meh. Consciousness is overrated, anyway. =P

Then we briefly discussed my medical issues. This included: the terrible condition of my teeth, my knee, pain management, insulin, retinopathy, neuropathy, Charcot's foot, depression, PTSD, and the possibility that I might have gastroparesis. Ten issues rapidly talked about in my initial visit. And while he agrees that all of these things need to be addressed, they key was maintaining my medication regiment. Thus, I was handed a stack of prescriptions, and I'll go back in a month to further discuss referrals...or something like that.

What actually has me worried the most at this moment is my Charcot's foot. The original thought was that the swelling in my right ankle was vascular. I even bought a $20 pair of compression socks to help. But with every step I take, the join crunches and grinds, and sometimes even hurts. Mostly, if just feels uncomfortable...and some part of my mind believes this is actually BAD. When I say every step brings about the crunching and grinding, I mean EVERY SINGLE STEP! That kind of wear and tear should be more than uncomfortable.

When Becky asked about it last night, I told her that the only treatment I knew of was spending up to six months in a non-weight bearing cast. That pretty much stunned her.

So you're probably wondering why a lack of suffering has me concerned, right? Well, the swelling I'm experiencing has the chance of becoming so great that it chokes off the circulation to my foot altogether. THAT'S the scary part. I keep imagining myself heading intot he shower on some night in the future, only to take my socks off and discover my toes are necrotic.

Worries aside, I'm pleased to announce that I now officially have medical care established here in PA. What happens next? We shall see.

Be well, all, and DFTBA!

Monday, April 4, 2011

A rundown of stuff

It would seem that there are several things going on in my life that I've been failing to report, so I think it's time for a summary...if my babbling can be called a summary at all.

First, there's the grand adventure of trying to rewrite "The Suicide Note: Memoirs of an Insulin Dependent Diabetic," (or TSN). The original copy of this manuscript was on my laptop. I copied it to a floppy disc to ensure its safety. In this way, I was able to transfer it to the desktop I bought while living in AZ. That desktop, a Dell, eventually went BSOD on me. (That's "Blue Screen Of Death" for those who don't know.) I tried to get out the old laptop in an attempt to perhaps e-mail it to myself, but the laptop was dead, DEAD, DEAD! I would have to rewrite it from scratch.

Mind you, I knew I'd given a copy of TSN to my podiatrist back in AZ, so I hunted him down at his new practice in...Indiana, I think? Anyway, I left a message with his receptionist that if he should find it to please mail the disc to me. But I never heard anything from his office or him.

Another existing fact about TSN is that it needs to be updated. A number of things related to my diabetes have occurred. These things have to be added to the story, as it adds weight to my overall message. What is my message? That I screwed around with my diabetes enough to have shaved years off my life. I may live to be 80, but when that time comes, a part of me will know I should have lived to the age of 90. This book will hopefully save a few lives.

So...After my move to Pennsylvania, I sat down and started working on TSN. After 29 pages, which contain 9,440 words, I realized a few things. I was missing various facts and would have to renew my research. I was forgetting a few things, like Sir Frederick Banting's Nobel Prize, and the fact that he initially refused to accept it because his lab assistant, Charles Best, wasn't named on said prize. (He eventually split the money with the med student that would become a doctor.) Finally, the original was written better, as far as my tattered memory is concerned.

Shock of all shocks, I received astonishing news about TSN. My beloved friend Julie may well have a copy of it in her near-ancient computer. She'll be sending me a copy as soon as she finds the right size hamsters to fit in the wheel to run it. Meanwhile, I'll continue to write my current version, as I may accidentally write something wonderful that should go into the story. I'll work those new parts in as I see fit.

Also pertaining to TSN, I have reached out to my old friend Terence. As he writes professionally, I thought he might have a few links to help me get this thing published when the time comes. He said he just might have such connections, and this news helped to light a fire under my butt to get writing. What's more, last night I sent a message to author John Green, who seems quite personable in his YouTube videos. Professional authors tend to get nervous when you ask them for help if they're not friends you've had since the age of 15, as is Terence. I asked him for only one thing: to point me in the direction on an agent that might help me get TSN published. In this way, I'm networking as much as possible, as I'm taking this particular piece of writing quite seriously now.

Speaking of this writing, I'm trying to decide what to do once it's published. It would be nice to see this book turn me into a millionaire, but I don't think an autobiography of "some guy" will do that. It might well see me receive a nice paycheck initially, but I don't expect much after that. Besides, if large monies are offered to me, I'd like to see a good part of that go to...something. And here's where I'm undecided. Do I take the easy way out and just have money go to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation? Or do I dare to start my own organization that gets insulin to those who are getting screwed by insurance companies? Like I was.

There are many different types of insulin out there. One of the best is called Humalog. This is a synthetic insulin that takes a half hour to start working, and peaks in three to four hours. The price per bottle seems to be around $110. Compare this to the alternative, Novolin, which costs around $70, takes an hour to get to work, and peaks in four to five hours. Humalog is better stuff, but using three bottles per month upsets insurance companies. Thus, they essentially said to me, "Insulin is insulin. Use the Novolin." Every time I'm on Novolin, my diabetes control gets worse.

With this in mind, starting a non-profit organization that helps diabetics get the proper insulin would be a very good thing. But am I up to doing such a thing? Will being disabled eventually cause problems with the running of the aforementioned organization? And how on Earth am I suppose to distribute a form of insulin so strong that it requires a prescription? Decisions, decisions.

Moving on to knee news, I believe I may have officially re-injured my left knee. Becky's parents, 'Nita and Turk, were here yesterday to work on Becky's car. (Her car stopped running last November, and the weather has prevented people from getting it repaired.) Deciding to be somewhat sociable, I spent some time with them while they worked, chatting about this, that, and Becky. (The usual stuff. How awful Becky is. How smelly she is. How yucky in general she is. (This was put in here special, as Becky will be reading this. None of it is true. =P )) I spent just enough time standing that my knee swelled up to twice it's normally swelled size. Upon waking up this morning, I could barely walk. When I'm done posting this, I'm going to make my calls today in an effort to find a doctor SOMEWHERE to help me.

Finally, under the "stuff" category, we have the fact that Becky is trying to kill me. Not literally. I'm not worth that much dead. But we knew for weeks that she had this lengthy sociology assignment that was due on 4 April, and I told her not to leave it for the last minute. What did she do? She left it for the last minute. She spent eight hours last night, not including short breaks, working on answering three questions per chapter of an 11-chapter book.

We've talked about this. I told her that doing so would chew up time that we could be spending all curled up and watching a movie, or just cuddling, or whatever. If she would just do the assignment a little at a time, she wouldn't be overwhelmed by trying to get it all done in one night. And it absolutely kills me when I have to be the one to stand over her and constantly say, "Do your homework." That's not my job. My job is to lover her, encourage her, and make her feel good. Instead, I feel like I'm a terrible overlord demanding that my subject pay tribute to me. I don't want to be demanding anything. In this way, Becky is trying to kill me.

And that's about all I can think of to report at the moment. I have a rather important call to make, so be well, all, and DFTBA!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Getting the second degree

"I was given the third degree by may father for (insert broken household rule)." That's the way it usually goes. The only person to give me the third degree these days would be Becky, and she thinks I'm right more often than not. Besides, our greatest fight is over things like who'll pay for what. Our last one was when we were at a Wendy's, grabbing food for the sake of convenience, and we settled it by flipping a coin.

Last night, she came a bit closer, and even then it wasn't serious. Her demand was that I stop hurting myself. Like I plan to be a klutz throughout the day. And her "third degree" was inspired by the fact that I got the second degree. A superficial second degree burn on my left index finger, that is.

You see, there's a relatively simple meal I can prepare called matzoh brei (pronounced "bry"). I make it the way my Dad taught me. I like it because it's quick and easy. Why, I'll even give the recipe toward the end, should you want to give it a try yourself. Becky loves it, and I've joked that if she eats 100 of them, she'll become Jewish.

But none of this matters. What does it the fact that I was in the process of cooking it, went to clean part of the pan while literally in the middle of cooking the food, when my finger touched part of the heated metal pan. I've become accustomed to upscale, dull aches and the like, so a good burn was a reminder of what "real" pain is. And there's something distressing in seeing one's skin instantaneously becoming an angry red and glossy smooth. I'd managed to burn the first joint after the knuckle, and the pain extended to my fingertip. The language I used...Well, such words don't often fly from my mouth.

This was a reminder that there are just some things I should do, and if I can manage them, I shouldn't do them often. My coordination tends to be low, and my reflexes are literally not what they should be. (I have the nerve conduction study to prove it.)

Here's my issue, though. Becky goes to pre-nursing classes for several hours each day. Three or four days a week, she also works part time. While I may not be feeling up to keeping house all day long, I should be able to do a little every day. Cooking the occasional meal should be on that list. Alas, it may be wiser to rely on TV dinners and such every now and again. In this way, I won't require bandaging myself as often.

And now, THE BREI!

This really is an easy meal to prepare, but I'm somewhat wordy, and like to give warnings and such. It'll probably take loner to give the recipe than actually cook it. =P And understand that this is a bachelor's way of cooking, and not a cooking manual. Double =P !

You'll need:
3 boards of matzoh
2 Eggs (and a small bowl to scramble them)
Cooking oil (vegetable of canola works)
Kosher salt
Pepper
Something to mix stuff with, like a giant spoon
A cooking pan
A plate that fits over said pan with a little room to spare
A mixing bowl
A colander

1: Soak the matzoh completely. Down it if you have to. You want none of it to remain crispy.
2: While that's happening, get your eggs scrambled and start warming up some oil in the pan. I usually go with a low-medium heat to get it going. Warming up the oil makes it easier to make it HOT when you need it.
3: Once the matzoh is completely soggy, use the colander to drain all the water from it. Being the thug that I am, I'll use my hand to press the excess water from it. It makes a mess, but then I don't know what this "neat" thing is. =P
4: Dump the matzoh into the mixing bowl with the eggs. Add pepper as you'd like. Then add...ummm...this much Kosher salt. Here, I'll show you. (*Shakes box of Kosher salt over the bowl, allowing an undetermined amount to land in the mix*) Did that help at all? I didn't think so. There's no telling you exactly how much to use, as I've never measured it. Becky has made it herself, and says a palm's worth wasn't quite enough. You'll have to experiment. Sorry.
5: While mixing all of that up, start getting that oil good and hot.
6: Once the oil is hot, dump to contents of the mixing bowl into the pan and spread it evenly to form a circular pie-shaped thing. You might want to GENTLY shake the pan back and forth to ensure none of the mixture is sticking. Then lower the heat immediately to low-medium again.
7: Cook at that temp for about five minutes. That should help it to cook through, as well as give it a golden brown color on the side that's against the pan. When five minutes are up, increase the heat to the same temp when you got the pan hot for about a minute.
8: Now for the "fun" part of flipping the matzoh brei. CAREFULLY place the plate over the pan, hold the plate firmly in place, and carry them to over the sink. (You don't want to accidentally drip hot oil onto the stove.) Now flip the pan/plate. What you should see on the plate is a "matzoh pie" that's golden brown in color. If not, place the pan over it, flip it back, and cook for a little longer. (Pay a visit to step 10, even if you need to cook it a bit more.) If it IS golden brown...
9: You have to get the uncooked side of the matzoh brie back into the pan. Being uncooked, however, it's not going to just side in there. I tend to shake the plate, vibrating the brei back into the pan. This tends to leave tiny bits of brei on the plate, but we'll address that in a moment.
10: Before you you return the pan to the stove, use a moist paper towel to wipe away and oil that's managed to drip to the understand. FOR THE LOVE OF G-D, BE CAREFUL! This is where I burned my finger. Still, oil that's been burnt to a pan is incredibly hard to get off, so if you care about your cookware, take this step, and then return the pan to the stove. Reduce the heat once more and cook for another five minutes.
11: While it's cooking, you might want to clean that late you used to flip it. My father may have been able to taste uncooked matzoh brei when I was a kid, but I'm not a fan of it. It's a quick wash, and be sure to dry the plate thoroughly. If you're lazy, just use another plate.
12: While your at it, and this has nothing to do with the actual cooking, but you might want to clean up a bit. I mean, you now have a small bowl you scrambled eggs in, a mixing bowl, a colander, and large spoon, all sitting in the sink waiting for someone to wash them. Do that now while your food cooks. =)
13: It's time to flip your matzoh brei again. It's the same process as before, but with less of chance for a mess. Again, the matzoh brei should be a golden brown. If not, cook for a bit longer.
14: This creation is now EXTREMELY hot. Give it a little time to cool off before eating any of it.

And there you have it. Some nice Jewish cooking, brought to you by a guy who isn't allowed to cook meatloaf, as per court order. (The last victim of my meatloaf is still lying in a coma.) I wish I could be more precise on the part with the salt, but it's ALWAYS been guesswork. Sometimes I'll put a lot in, and then wonder where it all went. At other times, I'll put too little, but then manage to take a bit that seems to be filled with ALL of the salt I added. And the pepper is really something you add to your own taste. I know people who put no pepper in it and sprinkle sugar on their matzoh brei once it's cooked. Different strokes for different folks, y'know?

This has been "Cooking with Bor." Remember our motto: "Never fry bacon when your naked!"

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Battle of the Bed!

It began on the night of 31 March 2011, when forces from the Republic of Beckistan crossed the boarder into Roburia. The former's invading army was aided by the kitty from Raineq. Unprepared form such an attack, the army of Roburia held what ground it could until negotiations could take place during the day.

Representatives from both countries met in the afternoon to discuss the incursion, and it was concluded that it was the presence of Raineq that forced Beckistan to seek what was believed to be unoccupied land. The Republic had no idea that it was pushing innocents to the limits of the land, and the sole occupant of Roburia was almost shoved off a cliff. Since Raineq could be relocated with relative ease, it was deemed important that such a thing occur so as to keep the peace between the two nations.

Alas, on the night of 1 April 2011, without orders from the capitol, forces from Beckistan once again attempted to invade Roburia. Whether ot not Raineq was involved this time remains unknown at this time, but it is suspected that Raineq once again took land in Beckistan, forcing its denizen to unconsciously seek open bedding.

We'll keep you updated as often as possible, with casualty lists, fatalities, and the political ramifications of conflict.

I suppose this is what we get for believing we could get by on a full-sized bed. We'd done it before, but those were during visits. Now that we are growing more comfortable and falling into our natural habits, it would seem that Becky and I are officially fighting...in our sleep. And the fight is for bed space.

It doesn't help that her cat, Raine, is a bit on the heavy side. I joke that the cat weighs 300 lbs., but it's not true. She could only weigh 290 at the most. =P All kidding aside, Raine must be close to about 16 lbs, which makes for a big kitty. What's more, Raine likes to stretch out when she's comfortable. She'll jump onto the bed, find a comfortable crook somewhere in Becky's sleeping form, and snuggle in, occasionally stretching out while doing do. The important thing to the cat is to be close to "mama."

But in her sleep, Becky feels as though she's being pushed. She starts relocating, gravitating toward the center of the bed. Becky isn't frail and petite, as many of my past girlfriends have been. Becky is my height, and very much so shaped like a woman. (Oh, such lovely curves!) This results in her eventually occupying the center of the bed, leaving me with less room to sleep.

On the first night, I sought a resolution to the problem, that being to attempt to "spoon." Alas, Becky was quite comfortable with her legs bent at acute angles; something my legs don't do comfortably for very long at all. I ended up lying on my side, facing away from her, and praying I wouldn't eventually be evicted from the bed altogether.

During our "negotiations" the next day, it was decided that if Raine sought comfort next to Becky in the night, Raine would be evicted. The problem, of course, is that Raine seeking to be next to mam didn't necessarily wake Becky. My lady-love was reacting in her sleep. And I, myself, would only become aware of the situation when I'd try to reposition myself in bed, only to find myself colliding with Becky in less-than-pleasurable ways.

Somehow, I had a feeling that a full-sized bed wasn't going to be enough. We had room to roam when we slept at the various motels during our "Rob can only visit" stages. When we had to get by on a full-sized bed, it was because we had no choice, and we somehow maned to make it work. Now Rain wants on the bed, too. And Nike wants on the bed, when she can get away with it without warring with Raine. The issue is that a larger bed wasn't really an option. This apartment is limited in size. Becky had enough difficulties rearranging the furniture to accommodate bot of our possessions, and a larger bed would make this place feel that much more like a sardine can.

So until we train ourselves to kick cats off the bed while we're asleep, the Battle of the Bed will continue. Pray, my friends, that there won't be any casualties.

Be well, all, and DFTBA!