Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Just a brief moment of pride...

I was, for an EXTREMELY short time, employed by a jewelry store in the Sunrise Mall in Massapequa, NY. During that brief period, something funny happened with a pair of customers...but to be honest, I had no venue under which I could or should repeat it.

Last year, Ray's mom made mention of a web site that told stories about some of the dumbest customers on the face of the planet. The name of the site only goes to prove that the customer is "Not Always Right." Many of the stories are quite funny. Others cause me to grieve for the future of humanity, as the customers in some tales are SO stupid that it makes me believe the gene pool needs a stronger dose of chlorine.

Several weeks ago, they launched a sister site, "Not Always Romantic." Reading the stories there jogged my memory about that brief job at the jewelry store, (the name of which I'm trying to avoid, as the manager was a moron). At last, I had my venue and submitted the story to them. This evening, as I dropped in on the site to read the latest bits of funny, the story at the top of the page...WAS MINE! O.O

And so I present to you what they entitled, "The Man Show-ology 101." Enjoy! =)

Oh...as I pointed out on Facebook, this makes me, once again, a published writer, but not an author, as it is my belief that a published author gets PAID for their writings. =/

Because being in love...

...is all about sharing, right? I mean, when I was being hospitalized, Becky shared the experience with me as best she could, becoming worried enough for the both of us. A recent Facebook post from me about our anniversary turned into an online pissing match by her "aunt," who decided to call me a "moron" and to "feel sorry for Becky" because she was with me. And my beloved shared my outrage at this woman's utter stupidity. (Becky's "aunt" had yet to make a humorous or happy post to her wall, which was rather pathetic, really.)

Ah, but all of that is entirely too serious as I now tell you that which Becky decided to share with me. I deem it a true demonstration of her love for me, as she chose to freely give over that which was truly from deep within her very body...a cold. Cough...congestion...itchy nose. I can't begin to tell you how pleased I am that she felt the need to donate viral microbes to me.

Now I feel as though a truck has driven over me several times. Forwards and backwards, mashing my body until I'd rather stay in bed and moan. As it is, I'm notorious for occasionally croaking in a childish manner, "I dying." This usually prompts Becky to say, exasperatedly, "You're not dying."

But I am. I'm sure of it. This cold will be the end of me and she doesn't even care. I'll have the last laugh, though. I'll die from this cold, and she'll be miserable. So...HAH!

Actually, I was reading my posts from a year ago, and I must say I was really quite the sap. Page after page of all that "lovey-dovey" crap. What was I thinking?!?

Ummm...Probably all of the things I think about regularly. I am so in love with Becky that I occasionally FEEL it! (I know, right?) This is astonishing to me because I'm a bit on the emotionally stunted side. My psych meds tend to subdue certain emotions, which unfortunately doesn't cover anger...but then I have Xanax to keep that one under wraps. It probably also has a lot to do with my past, which has seen me beaten emotionally over and over again. I'm oh so guarded against leaving my emotional heart defenseless, as I believe I will forever be afraid of having it broken again. I'll probably stop believing she will hurt me in such a way when I die...which should be any day, now, what with this cold and all.

But I *DO* love her. And when her "aunt" proclaimed that she felt sorry for Becky for being with me, I became enraged. This woman...she graduated from nursing school and recently received her nursing license. Along with several others, I congratulated her, and she chose to complain back at me...and just me. (I said something about Becky doing well in her pre-nursing courses, and this got the crazy woman started.) Then, on the wall post in which I celebrated being engaged to Becky for a year, this woman chose to start taking my jokes about me not wanting "nurses who scraped by with a C starting an IV in me seriously. She started lecturing me about the grading system, and I went and made more jokes, because the original statement wasn't serious to begin with. (Does anyone honestly pause to ask what kinds of grades a nurse got in school?!? Apparently, this woman thinks I do. To this idea, I say, "DUH!") And so, to a couple of sentences ending with an emoticon, =P, she chose to start calling me names.

Oh, I was pissed! (I'm getting angry just thinking about it now.) And what made me angriest was the idea that I would somehow make Becky suffer through school. Me, the guy who helps her study. Me, the guy who reviews anything she has to write. (I do no rewriting, but make suggestions on what could be fixed.) Me, the guy whose first reaction to Becky making the dean's list was to call her mother. Yeah, I'm going to really make Becky miserable.


I love Becky, totally and completely...or as completely as a guy whose emotional circuits are malfunctioning. I will do anything and everything in my power to see her happy. My one great wish at this moment: that she wouldn't share things like this cold with me. Because, now..."I dying."

Be well, and DFTBA!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A forgivable forgetting

Whoops! Despite my best intentions of making a happy post of some kind yesterday, I forgot something rather important. Yesterday marked the first year anniversary of Becky and I becoming engaged.

So it was that last night's cuddle session was filled with the happy memory of me setting her up for the big surprise. It's still amazing to us that so many people knew of what I was planning, yet no one slipped up and told her about it. Even the bride and groom, whose wedding I would be asking at, managed rather well just mere days before.

I remember sitting at the kitchen table, talking about the toast I was supposedly going to make. It seemed like the more outrageous the idea, the more the bride and groom-to-be liked it. The most frightening aspect was that I was so uncomfortable about lying to Becky like that, even if it was for the best of purposes, and yet so very good at it. The same applies to Kat and Mike. Supposedly, they weren't thrilled at the concept of lying, but we all knew Becky would absolutely love the surprise that awaited her at the reception.

Mind you, I was somewhat impatient at the time. The wedding ceremony, which I didn't sit in on because I would have felt uncomfortable, (being Jewish and all), seemed to take FOREVER! I waited in a courtyard the church had, excited and nervous at what was coming. To be honest, I'm not sure why I was nervous. Becky had been "threatening" for some time that she'd say yes when I asked her to marry me. My best guess is that I was nervous because I'd be doing it in front of about 100 people.

When I met the videographer and his wife, I was all the more stunned by how many people knew what was coming. Out of the 100 people gathered for the wedding, only ONE had no clue; the most important one to not be let in on it, which was good.

The memory of asking Becky to marry me is lost in a flood of adrenaline. In retrospect, I think my fumbling and stammering came about from said adrenaline; I was loaded with far more energy than my body could handle while trying to stand still. I believe there's a perfectionist in all of us, and I wanted it to be THE perfect moment for us...and there I was, bumbling along, screwing it up.

Despite my thinking me ruining it, it turned out wonderfully. Becky, looking on in utter disbelief as I pulled the ring from my pocket and asked in a voice loud enough for all to hear, and seeing the desire in her face to start shaking her head. No...No, he can't be asking me to marry him. He hasn't given Kat the money yet. She hasn't assembled the ring. Heck, she hasn't even ordered the parts to assemble the ring yet! So, no...he's not asking me to marry him, and this is some kind of bizarre joke.

Oh, but I WAS asking! I was even down on one knee, which wasn't easy, with one recently operated on and another still requiring surgery. It was the perfect surprise, and Becky managed a minimal nod to let me know she was agreeing to be with me for the rest of our days. Then I was holding her close, slipping the ring on her finger, while the watching crowd applauded us.

It was a truly magical moment...one I shouldn't forget. But I did yesterday, and for that, I'm sorry. Happy anniversary, my beloved! =*)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Is broke. I make fix.

There's a bit of a silly accent that goes with that, but I suppose the fact that it's in "foreign English" is good enough.

It occurred to me earlier today that when something is broken in my relationship with Becky, I try to fix it in some way. Two recent examples come immediately to mind.

The first was just prior to my recent hospitalization. Becky was fretting over me being gone for so many days, despite my being only one mile away. Well, as I'd said in previous posts, my being laid up would mean a disruption to our rituals, and those disruptions were bothering her a great deal. (Thank goodness neither is considering breaking up or dying...Then again, does one consider dying actively? (I suppose if one were suicidal...) (Bah...totally off track!)) I've become somewhat accustomed to being hospitalized, and so it wasn't THAT big of a deal for me, with my only concern being that I was about to lose a toe. For my beloved, however, it was quite a big deal, as hospitals tend to be scary places where truly sick people go.

In an effort to make her feel better, and as a kind of apology for being "dumb enough to get sick," I did the cooking the night before. Really, there's only one thing I seem to make exceptionally well and that's matzoh brei. I whipped up a couple of them Tuesday night in the hopes of bringing much-needed smiles to our home. It worked, as kisses and thanks were rained upon me in great quantities. And, really, I kind of needed the affection. I may not have been panicking, but I was quite nervous about losing "the piggy that stayed home." =(

Even more recently was yesterday. On the way home from a fitting of my newly made diabetic shoes, Becky said something that hit my emotional buttons in just the right way to enrage me. When I'm angry, I desperately try to avoid saying anything at all, and thus go quiet for some time. I need to calm down, or it becomes quite possible that I'll say something I'm sure to regret.

Angry responses, in almost any form, frighten Becky. She's lived with entirely too many people who've had poor anger responses, and tends to want to flee before anyone that's enraged, most specifically at her.

Making it worse was the fact that when we got home, there was no time for any kind of discussion. She had to get to work. We did, however, manage a quick tearful apologies to one another, and I promised we would talk more when she returned from work.

We did. We ironed out the problem as best we could, although I know it will happen again because Becky is unaccustomed to having someone talk TO her and not AT her. And I suppose one major argument every five months is acceptable.

The thing about our arguments, regardless of how serious they are, is that I am often right. I don't enjoy this fact, as Becky often comes away feeling like she's been thoroughly reprimanded. I'm not ALWAYS right, and I couldn't possibly be 100% right...but I am...sometimes right. (Oh ho! Can you NOW see the play on word of this blog? I write occasionally, and I'm also correct now and again. I'm such a wit, (and words that rhyme with "wit."))

Due to the rain yesterday, I was unable to hobble over to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions. So it was that I called today, had them prepare the various meds that needed to be refilled, and prepared to head over there about an hour later. Becky noticed me getting ready to go and said that she thought it was going to be her job to pick up my meds. "No," I replied. "I don't know if you've noticed this, but whenever we have something that's affected you emotionally in some way, I try to do something nice, even if it's to simply give you a break from doing this or that." (I said something to that effect. The exact words have managed to escape me in a rather short time.)

The mere fact that I give her any thought whatsoever, thereby demonstrating that I actually CARE about her, had her on her feet and moving to embrace me with tears forming in her eyes. Honestly, I don't think I'm committing a great feat of romance when I do such things, and the fact that it brings her tears of joy makes me want to find everyone who's done wrong by her in the past and beat on their heads until the space between their shoulders is concave, with their heads forcefully tucked into their torsos.

So...Is broke? I make fix! =)

* * *
In other news, I am becoming concerned about the goings on in my body. There is a pain in the second metatarsal of my left foot, and that could simply be related to the fact that the second toe had 66% of itself removed. Simple enough, right?

Except that my nose has been itching rather madly the past two nights.

"Ummm...Rob? Your foot hurts and your nose itches. You do realize that they're on opposite ends of the body, right?"

Yeah...except the nose is a breeding ground for MRSA, (pronounces "mer-sah), which is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It could be a sign that, while caring tending to the surgical site, (and foot in general), I've managed to spread the infection from my foot to my nose. Not sure how, but it's possible. And if I have MRSA...

*sigh* Here we go agaon, with time spent in the hospital to confirm it, and then a lengthy round of strong IV antibiotics. I won't have to be hospitalized the entire time, but there will have to be a few days to confirm it and set up a PICC line. Even better will be the enforced limited contact between Becky and I, as it's contagious. Hoo-freakin'-rah.

I'm going to try to hold out for the doctor appointment I have on Wednesday to have stitches removed. Here's hoping it's all in my head.

Be well, and DFTBA.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Yep...saw one.

After my diagnosis of Charcot arthropathy, the special specialist suggested I see a neurologist. But he couldn't refer me to the neurologist himself. Not sure why, but he couldn't. So I brought it up with my PCP, who got me a referral some time last month, but wasn't able to schedule me until today.

And so it was that I made the trip with Becky back to the very same hospital I was released from this past Saturday. The neurologist's office was beneath the main floor. Into the office, where I filled out a few forms and then waited. As usual, Becky accompanied me when I was called back to see the doctor.

But first, I was interviewed by a nurse, who also took my vital signs. I was, much to my astonishment, a mere 106 over 67 when my blood pressure was taken. Prior to my surgery, my BP was hanging around 140 over 80. It varied, but that was the average. The stress brought on by the pain in my toe, as well as the ongoing fear of infection, kept the pressure up...literally! So I attribute my reduced BP to the fact that I actually eliminated a problem.

Eventually, the doctor arrived. He was at an immediate disadvantage because I already had a diagnosis: diabetic neuropathy that had advanced to Charcot arthropathy. And so he inquired, "Why have you come to see me?" I told him that I was one of those rare patients who listens to doctor's instructions, (for the most part), and I was told to see a neurologist. He then asked what medications I was on for neuropathy pain, and what I'd tried in the past. He even asked if I'd ever used Capsaicin, which is a cream that uses a hot pepper extract to help alleviate pain. So I told him about the ONE time I'd used it, back in my late 20s, and...

Way back when, my attempt to use that cream resulted in me running from my desk at work to the cafeteria, where I would fill paper towels with ice, then try to line the area around my waist, just inside my jeans, where the cream had been liberally applied. After my third trip to the cafeteria, I went to my boss and said that I could no longer concentrate on my work, and that I was homeward bound. And when I got home, I ran to take an icy shower and scrub what was left of that cream from my skin. Even before I began scrubbing, my skin was red and raw in appearance, almost as though I'd been sun burned.

So, no...No more Capsaicin for me...EVER!

The only other drug under consideration was one that had been mentioned during several doctor visits with various specialists: Cymbalta. This is supposedly an antidepressant that also relieves pain. There's just one little problem with it. Y'see, there's this drug I take now for my neuropathy pain that has always worked called "Ultram," (or its generic name, "Tramadol"). Apparently Cymbalta and Ultram come together to cause seizures in those who combine them. I've never had a seizure from mixing Ultram with other drugs, as is the usual warning, but the neurologist didn't feel it was worth the risk. Besides, the Ultram was doing what it was meant to do. If it ain't broke, why fix it? (Right Facebook? >=P )

The doc then proceeded to give me a neurological exam. He checked my pupil reaction speed, my reflexes, and coordination.

One of the coordination tests was one to which I was unaccustomed. I was to touch my nose, then touch his finger. Simple enough, right? I did so a couple of times, and then he did the unexpected. He relocated his finger and expected me to continue touching it. Because he caught me off guard, I reached to where his finger was, and then cried out comically, "That's cheating!" Well...Becky smiled, at least. He did this to test my coordination on both the right and left side, and I was able to keep up just fine.

On my word, he didn't even bother testing me for sensation. I told him the best I'd feel was the contact between an object and my skin, bit I wouldn't be able to differentiate between dull and sharp.

With the exam over, he had virtually no suggestions as to what I should do. I jokingly suggested I play more video games to help prevent the wasting that's been evident in my hands, and he actually agreed! The use of a console game controller could, indeed, help prevent some wasting, as well as rebuild muscles in my hands. My feet...? Well, any wasting there would be difficult to address, as I have other issues there.

What surprised me was the lack of knowledge as to HOW Charcot arthropathy affects the joints. Doctors have a good idea about what causes diabetic neuropathy, and they know neuropathy affects various autonomic functions. But how it affects the joints...? Nope. They remain in the dark on that one. Even if you go to the major source of information online, Wikipedia, you'll find only theories as to what's happening under "Disease Mechanism."

That was really the end of the visit. There was nothing new to diagnose, and there weren't any other treatments for what was ailing me. The doctor finished the visit with, "Well, you were told to see a neurologist, and you've seen one."

Yes...Yes, I had.

Be well, and DFTBA!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How it looks

Well, I had a followup with the podiatrist today, and he said the most amazing thing. "It looks good." Really?!? It DOES?!? That's...that's...THAT'S AMAZING! Who would have thought that the answer to the problem was to remove it altogether? I mean, I had hopes, but I remained somewhat nervous that it wouldn't work.

Oh, but don't worry about that. There's still plenty of time for my foot to self-destruct.

I've successfully avoided looking directly at the surgical site, but had a fairly decent view of it today. It's a genuinely weird sensation to look down at the place where a part of your body was visible just a week ago, only to see a tiny stump. But "stump" is an "improper" word. Had this been an arm or a leg, the remainder would be called "a residual limb." I suppose that makes what's left on my foot "a residual digit." Whatever it's called, it looks strange.

It also feels strange on occasion, as I reported to the doc. I told him about the phantom sensation in my toe, which seemingly kicked it up a notch on the way home. Instead of simply feeling like he was grinding the toenail, it hurt as it did before the surgery. There's no toe there, but it felt like the old wound was aching.

Bah! I have bigger pains than that.

So, according to the doc, I can actually spend A LITTLE time on my feet. Yes, I may help with the dishes when I feel up to it. I need not change the dressing on the surgical site, but can if I feel the need. And next week, on Wednesday, he'll remove the sutures from the beheaded toe, which is good news.

Also in the category of good news is that my specially made diabetic shoes have finally arrived at the orthopedic lab near the special specialist. So I'm going on Friday to be molded for the brace. From there, it shoudl be three or four more weeks of living in this danged cast. And then...AND THEN...I'll be able to shower without having to practically balance on one leg the whole time! I'll be able to go for walks. I'll be able to...No...No, that last thought is not for the public. Never mind.

So things are slowly getting better over here. I have other medical adventures coming my way, but I think the whole "Foot Panic of 2011" is almost over.

Be well, all, and DFTBA.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hospital Adventures: The Aftermath

So I'm home, and I'm pleased that it was a relatively short hospital stay. Because my doctor didn't actually have faith in the idea of IV antibiotics at home, he thought there was the potential for me to be transferred to a nursing home for continued treatment, as hospital beds should be reserved for people sicker than I. Thank goodness it didn't come to that.

Just over ten years ago, when I briefly lived in a homeless shelter, there was an older man also staying there, and he'd just had surgery to remove his big toe. It was treated like ambulatory surgery, so he was in and out on the same day. I was shocked by this. The big toe is essential to balance, so him being kicked out without any kind of physical therapy was wrong in my eyes. He also had no choice but to be up and about during his stay at the shelter, as there was no hanging around permitted during the day. My thought was that the hospital should be ashamed. They operated on a guy, in what had to be emergency surgery, (as I couldn't imagine a homeless man having regular medical care), and then dismissed him with only a wound care nurse to stop by once a day to change the wound's dressing. I am, by comparison, far better off.

And yet I'm going to gripe. Yeah, it's somewhat selfish, but his problems are now in the past (I hope), and mine are in the present.

Knowing that I was likely to face this amputation, I asked the special specialist treating my Charcot arthropathy if I could start weight-bearing on the affected foot. He said I could, and had the cast techs give me a weight-bearing cast. My instructions were to do as I pleased, as much as I could tolerate. As the weather gets colder, it would seem I can't tolerate that much. Joints that have been broken tend to ache during dramatic atmospheric changes, and I had plenty of microfractures in my talus. But at least I could do SOMETHING.

Now I've been ordered back into the realm of bed rest for the next two weeks, and I'd just gained a bit of freedom. Forgive the childish outburst, but...THAT ISN'T FAAAAAIR! (Reading that in the whining tone of a five-year-old makes it sound proper.) I had only a few days of being able to do the dishes, take out the trash...and now all responsibilities fall back onto Becky's shoulders. Like she didn't have enough to do already.

Speaking of my beloved, I was particularly astonished that my brief hospital stay had such a profound effect on her. She's said a number of times, "I understood the need for it, but that didn't mean I had to like it." She'd become so accustomed to coming home to receive affection from me that the lack of it bothered her immensely. I came home to an abundant amount of evidence that she'd occupied my side of the bed while I was gone, which somehow brought her comfort. And we've been making up for lost time by showing a great deal of affection - just a wee bit more than usual - since my return.

As for how my foot feels...? Well, it hurts a little. Not nearly as much as other aches in my body. Even though it's just a toe, I've been getting the occasional "phantom pain" in it. Because my toenails have come to grow like little mutations at the end of my feet, they sometimes have to be ground down instead of simply cut. It's the strange discomfort of having the toenail being attacked with a grinder that I've felt most, and it's more bothersome than anything else.

Emotionally, I'm just frustrated. It's been months since I've been able to engage in any normal activities. It's been ongoing with this bulky cast, and now I have the added "joy" of an amputated toe. Again, it's bothersome. I want to be able to shower regularly...to go for a walk without having to limp...to be able to do more around the apartment than play the role of vegetable.

What's more, it isn't going to end with my foot adventures. Next on the list is the mystery pains in my hips. My right hip hurts more than the left, but it's in both. It could be arthritis. It could be related to Charcot arthropathy. Whatever it is, it won't be anything that'll kill me...just make me miserable.

Oh well. One problem at a time. It's good to be home with my beloved taking care of me instead of a parade of nurses that alternated between pretty and not-so-pretty. The would-be nurse caring for me now is beautiful all the time. =)

Be well, all, and DFTBA!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hospital Adventures: Part 2

I left you with the doctor just having removed my toe, but I failed to mention something that happened before that...

Becky and I debated whether or not to call my father about the pending surgery. Honestly, I don't know what I should have PROPERLY said. In my emotional hurt and frustration, as well as the stress I was experiencing, I would have tried to call when they weren't in and left a message, "I know you don't care, but I'm going in to have the surgery that you waved off as nonsensical." I honestly don't think I would have scored any points on that one. And if Becky called...Well, I could see her taking the blame for whatever crime they believe was committed against them. As a result of such thinking, no call was ever made. And since they may well be following this blog, as I'm sure my infantile brother is from time to time, they know my number. They could have called it at any time.

And now back to the day of the surgery. It went well. The troublesome toe was gone. There was no pathology on which to report.

Becky was waiting for me back at my room. To be honest, I don't remember much of that visit. I was still quite out of it, but I distinctly recall her being there, filled with her customary amount of love. G-d, she is so good to me and for me! After a short time, she left for classes, and I rested...

...until an infectious disease doctor showed up. (Honestly, if you expect to get any rest whatsoever, don't have such expectations in a hospital.) He confirmed that one of the cultures taken on the day of my admission was a staph infection, but didn't know what kind of staph it was. What they were keen to learn was if it was or wasn't antibiotic resistant. That answer wouldn't come until the next day. Still, he started me on two IV antibiotics to cover his bets. One was a broad-spectrum drug, while the other was designed to go after resistant staph. The latter I'd been on before. It's called Vancomycin and it can burn quite a bit going in; I'd had a number of IV sites changed because it would "burn out" the vein into which it'd been going.

Here's where I became INCREDIBLY stupid. You see, went a long time without a cigarette. About eight hours, if my guess is right. I should have stayed in bed and just done my best to ignore the urge. Instead, I got a hold of a wheelchair and made my way outside for a smoke. It didn't taste very good, and it made me lightheaded. I should have gone back inside and made some kind of attempt to quit. Instead, I made it as far as the next morning and found myself making my way outside once more after a dose of painkiller. Really, I am dumb beyond belief. Before I knew it, I was heading outside every two hours for another fix. Amazingly, opportunity was still knocking, as I couldn't bring myself to smoke a whole cigarette. I should have responded to the lack of enthusiasm to my 24-year habit.

Day number three brought me back into the Twilight Zone. The day before, I'd called Becky and she woke up easily. On this day, I called and she was ALREADY AWAKE! At 8:10 in the morning, without fighting me to get up? I recall saying something akin to, "I don't know who you are, but if you tell me where the real Rebecca is, I won't press charges." She said she had a lot to do before she came to the hospital, so I didn't make further fun of her behaving oddly.

After breakfast, I hobbled outside for another half-cigarette. I took all of four or five puffs before turning around and heading back to my room. Thinking that I should waste the cigarette, I cut off it's burning end and stuffed it back into the pack. By the time I got back to my room, I recalled what a stink a half-smoked cigarette could create and flushed it down the toilet. Natural instinct versus addictive urges. I should have listened to the former.

Amazingly, I STILL hadn't needed any of my short-acting insulin. That was about to change. You see, I wasn't just eating regular meals now, but was also receiving my IV antibiotics in a solution of dextrose. I asked about this and was fed some silly line from a nurse that the dextrose increased the strength of the antibiotic. It seemed to me that all it did was increase my blood sugar. By lunch, my glucose level was 243. (I took a few notes while I was hospitalized, which is how I can produce the occasional detail.) That level indicated that there was 243 milligrams of of sugar per 100 cubic centimeters of blood...and normal, as mentioned yesterday, is 70 to 110. My dream of having suddenly been cured of diabetes went out the window. (Hey! A guy can dream, right?)

In terms of pain, I was experiencing some ache in my feet, but a majority of my pain was in my hip. When I say "feet," I DO mean both of them. There was a bit of pain coming from the surgical site - just a bit of soreness, really. In my other foot, still in this damnable cast, there was a steady ache coming from the talus, where I'd had so many microfractures. But when it came to my hip, I was in true agony. Lying down seemed to cause the most pain. Sitting made it somewhat bearable. Standing and walking reduced it the most, so really...what the heck is going on in there?!?

The hospitalist came by, and my pain wasn't really on my mind enough to discuss it with him. Instead, we discussed my rising blood glucose levels, and he decided to raise my 24-hour insulin slightly. I came in taking 0.5 CCs of Lantus daily. He lowered it the day before to 0.3 CCs. Now he was raising it to 0.4 CCs. But as long as they were using dextrose with my IV antibiotics, I didn't expect much of a change.

And I must say, the timing of my IV meds made life in the hospital...annoying. My need for a lengthy nap yesterday came from the fact that I received the broad-spectrum antibiotic every six hours - 6:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 6:00 PM, and 12:00 AM - and the Vancomycin every 12 hours - 4:00 PM and 4:00 PM. Those doses that came along while I was sleeping were a lot of fun. Each time I was given medication, they had to use a laser scanner on my hospital ID bracelet. If I was sleeping in a position where it was hidden, they had to dig my arm out to scan it. Then, to connect the IV, they might have to do the same with the other arm to find the IV port. As an added bonus, the "Vanco" burned, so...yeah. Sleep was a bit difficult. And every time I was awakened, I became that much more conscious of my pain, which meant I was soon asking for a dose of Diloted again.

That drug was somewhat enjoyable. I mean, there's a reason why people become addicted to such things. When injected into a vein, there's an instant feeling of euphoria. That said, I was actually proud of the fact that while I was in the hospital, I was able to cut one of my narcotics from my list of meds. The major use of my Valium is to sleep. (PTSD and all that.) But while I was there, I was able to receive 25 mg. of Benadryl through my IV, and it would knock me flat. On the very first night, they gave me a dose of Benadryl, and I didn't feel much of a difference, so I decided to read a bit. I found myself reading the same sentence over and over again, unable to make sense of it, and taking longer to read it each time. Silly me, I thought it wasn't working; it was working just fine!

During day number three, a nurse came in to talk to me about my discharge. I was excited in that I thought they were going to0 cut me loose, but there were no such orders. No, she wanted to discuss what would happen WHEN said orders would come along. She explained to me that if I required IV antibiotics for a longer period, I was all set to receive everything I needed, as my medical insurance appeared to be excellent from her perspective. A week's worth of the broad-spectrum stuff would cost me $2.40. The Vancomycin would cost $4.60. And everything else was covered. She sounded truly amazed. She was also somewhat pleased that I knew about how to handle such home care. Mind you, she wasn't happy that I'd required it in the past, but did like the fact that I wouldn't be a complete novice when it came to setting up my own IV at home. (They'd install a PICC, or Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter, and all I'd have to do was connect the lines to receive my meds. There would be no starting a new IV at home for me.)

Alas, there was some confusion as to what was or wasn't happening with the whole home care thing. At one point in the morning, a doctor was saying I'd need it...and was saying I wouldn't need it at another point. None of the nurses were sure when he said which one, so the one nurse discussing my home care said she'd leave a note in my chart and let the doctors figure it out later.

My podiatrist stopped by that evening to say he'd be back bright and early to change my dressing. When I mentioned the whole home care thing from earlier that day, he stated, (and not for the first time), that he'd never heard of someone being able to do IV meds at home while on Medicare in his 20 years of practice. When I'd argued that I'd done so in the past, he shrugged it off and suggested that maybe it was an issue in Pennsylvania. He remained skeptical, so I sent him off to read my chart, where I knew a note was awaiting the infectious disease doctors. He was back in short order, telling me that he had great trust in the nurse who'd written the note, and that he now left HER a note asking her to teach him "this strange and powerful magic."

I was going to cut this post here, but there's not much left to tell. So...

My final day started with my podiatrist dropping by at 6:30 AM to change the dressing. He rinsed it with saline, said it looked good, painted it with iodine, and covered it with enough gauze to make it virtually bulletproof. he then instructed me to stay off it as much as possible, rest with it elevated when possible, and to keep it dry. And I loved his instructions for the happenstance of it getting wet. "Wash it with soap and water, dry it thoroughly, apply some iodine again, and put a band-aid over it."

"Really...? A band-aid?" I asked.

"It's not that big," he replied.

Between this foot's surgical site and my other foot being in a cast, it looks like I won't be showering AT ALL for the next couple of weeks. Thank goodness I've lived with similar instructions in the past and know how to remain clean under such circumstances.

An infectious disease doctor was in around noon to tell me that the deep tissue culture had gotten off to a rough start, not growing anything. But then something had started to grow, and they were still awaiting those results. He was positive I'd be spending at least one more night in the hospital...and returned a half hour later to say the results miraculously came in while he was still there, and that it was antibiotic-sensitive staph. I could go home immediately with a prescription for oral meds.

Thus, I was immediately discharged with instructions to call for an appointment with my podiatrist ASAP.

And that's it. I suppose I could now go get a pedicure and insist on a 10% discount due to my now-missing toe...if ever I was of a mind to get a pedicure at all. And while I may not be able to count to 20 anymore, I CAN get as high as 19 and 1/3.

I'm off to try and get Becky out of bed. It would seem that my return home has also meant a return to her fighting wakefulness. Perhaps I really SHOULD call her; it worked better that way.

Be well, all, and DFTBA!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hospital Adventures: Part 1

Well, I'm home. Kind of tired, as not a single night went by without interruption, but otherwise intact...minus a toe. This may take a few posts, but I'll try to fill in the details of what went down.

So, Wednesday rolled around, and I toyed with the idea of a blog post, but couldn't really think of anything to say, other than, "I'm going to the hospital very soon. Ummm...Yeah, that's it. Be well!" Not exactly the writing exercise that most of posts are.

Becky and I arrived at the hospital and I encountered what had to be the easiest of all hospital admissions ever! I walked in, signed some paperwork, and was shortly escorted to a bed waiting for me upstairs. I answered a whole bunch of questions pertaining to what meds I take at home, and was then examined by EVERYONE! At least, it felt like that. First the nurses wanted to see what the problem was. Then the infectious disease doctor wanted to see it. Then the hospitalist wanted to see it. That last was the only one to confirm the fact that there we hyper-mobility at the end of my toe...and it hurt.

Ah, but pain would not be an issue during this hospital stay. I ran down the list of painkillers at home, and told the hospitalist, who'd be in charge of my "regular" meds, that I was hoping to take advantage of the fact that I'd have IV painkillers available to me. Instead of having to wait an hour for relief from pills, I could get it instantly. The doc agreed and wrote for 1 mg. of diloted every two hours, which is dilaudid in injection form. When I was conscious, I pretty much got a dose every two hours, as my pain was continuous.

The thing is that much of my pain had nothing to do with my toe. Yeah, that was bothering me a bit, but was nothing compared to the pain I experienced in my hips. (It got so bad on the last day that the diloted was increased to 2 mg. every two hours.) Of course, I was never able to truly settle on the effects of the IV painkiller. Did it really help with the pain, or did it make it so that I didn't CARE I was in pain?

As a side note, the infectious disease doctor chose not to start any antibiotics that first day, and for a very good reason. He said that if he started such meds, they could mask an infection without actually killing it. The result would be me being treated for nothing while I needed treatment for something.

The one aspect that bothered me the most about all of the examinations was what almost everyone said. "It doesn't look so bad. I've seen worse." That may have been the case, but *I* haven't seen worse on me! This thing was looking pretty bad to me, even if it wasn't going gangrene just yet. In fact, that was my great fear. Y'know...my superstition that one a diabetic starts losing parts, it's about 10 years until it's all over. Well, I've decided that that only truly applies when there's no choice whatsoever. I still had a choice in this case, but it wasn't a very good option. I mean, I could've waited until it went gangrene or until it miraculously healed...an in the case of the latter, it would never heal on the interior...because there was nothing to heal on the interior. The end of the toe demonstrated a hypermobility that suggested the tendons were gone...but then I believe I covered that previously, so let's move on, shall we?

My first day in the hospital was akin to living in the Twilight Zone. They gave me my daily coverage of my 24-hour insulin, and then...ummm...I required no other insulin until late the next day. In fact, my blood sugar dropped to 56 around 4:15 AM. Since I wasn't permitted to eat due to my pending surgery, they had to inject me with straight dextrose. That was...fun. My nurse that night was still going through orientation at the hospital, and had never injected dextrose. It's thicker than most other injectables, and when it leaks...it's sticky. So the nurse struggled a bit, and it leaked, and...yeah. It was fun.

What made it strange was that Becky and I ate McDonald's that night. I kept calling it "the last supper." A meal like that tends to have all the calories one should eat in an entire day. The side order of fries alone should have jacked up my sugar levels. It didn't.

The worst that night was my missing my sweet, beautiful Becky. There were no cuddles that night...and being in the hospital made romance somewhat difficult. I don't know...It seems that they can pull off some very loving moments on various television medical dramas. In real life...? Yeah...far more difficult. Maybe if there was an appropriate soundtrack.

The next day continued that Twilight Zone-esque experience when I called Becky at 7:45 AM. The phone rang; she answered; and she was awake infinitely easier than when I was actually at home. I'm thinking of calling her from now on, even if I'm sitting right next to her. It seems to work better than pleading with her to get out of bed in the morning.

I was visited by a different hospitalist that morning. His first question was whether or not I'd eaten breakfast that morning, even though I was NPO. (NPO is "nil per os," the Latin equivalent of "nothing through the mouth. In other words, NO EATING!) So, no...I hadn't eaten. He mistakenly thought I'd already had surgery, so I had to iron that one out.

Due to my blood glucose adventures, he decided to lower the dose of my 24-hour insulin. I tried to object, but he would have none of it. I mean, he was a doctor and I was just living with diabetes for 37 years. It's not like I knew anything, right? Sure enough, my blood sugar would be over 200 after that dose, and normal is considered between 70 and 110 these days. (No one seemed to know with any certainty what the normal range was. Maybe they should have called a doctor in, eh?)

Becky stopped in before the surgery and we managed to get some cuddles in. It was very comforting, which is what I needed. I mean, once she left, my brain did all it could to shut down. That's right, kids. I was so stressed that I almost slept. Hardly the reaction I used to have. Once upon a time, I used to start laughing hysterically prior to surgery. That sense of doom would make me so nervous that I'd start laughing, and often found myself unable to stop.

They brought me down for surgical prep around 12:30 PM and almost immediately gave me something to relax me. Then I was wheeled into the operating room, where I saw my doctor preparing to operate. I believe I greeted him, and then something else was put in my IV, and I didn't remember much of anything else until I was in recovery, where my doctor was saying that he'd forgotten to get some deep tissue cultures that the infectious disease doctors wanted. That's all I caught, as I drifted off again...but I believe he cut my stitch, (I think there's only one, really), and "double dipped" to get what was needed. My foot was so completely numb that I didn't feel a thing.

The surgery itself went smoothly. The doc didn't encounter any abnormal bone along the way and was able to stick with removing the first and second bone in my second toe without having to cut out more. He also didn't do any cutting into what was removed, so anything pertaining to understanding the infection I had was off to the lab; no visual inspection was done. For this, I'm actually glad. I mean, I'd rather have my doctor concentrating on what was being done with all the parts still attached than the little bit that had been removed.

And that's all I have at the moment. I started this post much earlier, and ended up napping shortly after I began. What a grand change, not to have a nurse coming in to connect me to an IV filled with medication that burned on entry. So until I tell more, be well and DFTBA!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How it's supposed to go...

I saw my podiatrist today for my pre-surgical visit. I started it by showing him the new wound on my ankle. Y'see, the exterior of the cast is rather rough, and so I've been wrapping it with an old shirt and an ace bandage to protect my "good" leg, (which isn't very good). But I haven't been covering it as far down as the ankle, as there's been no real contact between the exposed ankle and the cast. That apparently changed yesterday, and I discovered my sock was bloody from a collision I never felt. Brilliant, eh?

Anyway, I am to be at the hospital by 2:00 PM tomorrow. The intake will be done by either a "hospitalist" or an infectious disease team. With luck, they'll start me on IV antibiotics right away. It'll also be up to them as to how my meds are handled. I'm hoping to get a break from the regimen of pills that I take and get the IV form of all that "fun" stuff. Even while I sat with the doctor, my morning dose of pain meds was wearing off, and my hip was starting to ache fiercely.

My podiatrist should be making a cameo appearance at my room some time in the evening.

At some point on Thursday, I'll have the surgery. I'm scheduled for 2:00 PM, but cancellations or emergencies can always skewer a schedule.

Then things become a bit of a mystery. My doctor has no idea how much of me will have to be removed. He may have to only take off the tip. He may encounter "mushy" bone and have to take the next...and the next...and the metatarsal after that. But anymore than that and he'll have to stop and wait for me to recover enough to discuss it. He'd likely have to wait until Friday, as trying to discuss serious surgical matters with someone recovering from twilight anesthesia isn't recommended (by lawyers). His opinion at this point is that he will probably have to remove the distal and part of the middle phalanges.

The problem with this whole procedure is that he won't know anything with 100% certainty until I'm on the table and he's cutting away the bad pieces. He doesn't believe, at this time, that he'll have to take out so much. He said that if it were THAT infected, we'd see a distinct red streak going from the toe and up my foot...

What I failed to point out to the doctor was that I have yet to be "normal" about a few of my diabetes complications. Like the last time I had osteomyelitis. The only symptoms I displayed were swelling and pain. It took various tests to show that I actually had a bone infection. There was no severe redness and I didn't have a fever. Just pain and swelling...like I have now.

Unfortunately, the doctor was distracted. I believe he was also prepping another patient for office surgery, and wasn't in his usual friendly mood. Too much going on to make bad jokes about my pending doom, I guess.

His receptionist handed me paperwork that I must have with me when I arrive at the hospital. She added that she wouldn't be at all surprised if I was out by Friday. And while that would be nice for Becky and me, I honestly hope they keep me over the weekend at the very least to give me a full three days of post-operative IV antibiotics.

Meanwhile, I should be on my way. I have a bag to pack and nerves to settle. Be well, and DFTBA!

Edit: I made a post about my pending surgery on Facebook, and one of my friends said (about not knowing how much will come off the toe), "Make sure he promises that if it's more than half the toe, he gives you a prosthetic that shoots lasers."

My response: "I was thinking missiles instead of lasers. This way I could literally have missile-toe."

Monday, September 12, 2011

In the week toe come...

Tomorrow is the pre-surgical visit with the podiatrist, in which we will be discussing the surgery details. That means there'll probably be a post tomorrow about those.

Meanwhile, Becky and I are trying to prepare ourselves for the week to come, in which we won't be around one another perpetually. Since moving in six months ago, we've grown accustomed to the presence of the other, and it's a comfort to know someone is always there...that someone always cares about what's going on in your life, and is constantly asking about you.

It would be very different if we were constantly clinging to one another. Her ex, Shawn, was like that, always busting her chops to do something with him. We like to do things together, such as watch movies and play games...but we don't have to be in constant contact with one another, which is what her ex essentially wanted. The only time we seem to get "clingy" is when we're shutting down and cuddling.

And it's cuddling that's become the problem. In the last month, it's become a nightly ritual. It's our time to be selfish and share our day with one another. Concern...tenderness...comedy...They all come to the fore once we've taken up our posts for cuddle time. When I'm in the hospital, there will be a serious interruption to our nightly ritual, which is distressing to both of us.

What's more bothersome to me is my interpretation of "never go to sleep angry." I don't say those words, but I insist that there be a goodnight kiss before we roll over and drift off to sleep. (Our most comfortable positions are facing different directions; her on her side, with me on my back or stomach because of hip pain.) Sure, we can have a kiss before parting ways while I'm at the hospital...but it's not the same as a kiss before heading directly to sleep. I want my kiss goodnight from her. I NEED my kiss goodnight from her!

Last night, as we cuddled, I tried to think of ways for us to get the doses of love to which we've become addicted. I could always sneak out to a door where she'd meet me, regardless of the hour, and get what we need. Maybe we could get therapeutic permission for her to spend the night, with my doctor signing off on orders that Becky and I be permitted to drift off to sleep in each other's arms. Then, of course, there's Becky's plan of "accidentally" getting beaten up and having to be hospitalized, and we could arrange to share a room. All but the first would probably not work, and the first isn't quite the same as what I'd have at home.

Thursday is probably going to be the roughest on Becky. I'll be having the surgery around mid-afternoon, and probably spend the remainder of the day in a medicated daze. She, in turn, will have classes all day long, well into the evening. At best, she might be able to get in a few short visits, but she won't be able to spend as much time with me as she'd like. And I've been adamant about her attending classes. "No time off. I don't want you missing material that may turn out to be important." I even added, "I know it'll be hard, but I want you concentrating on your classes. I know you'll be worried about me, but this isn't going to happen under general anesthesia, so the risks are reduced. Keep your head in class."

Easier said than done, I'm sure.

The great comfort is that we know the love is there. We started officially dating on 13 May 2010. Then, while still enduring a long distance relationship, we got engaged on 24 September 2010. Yeah, it seemed a bit rushed, but I didn't want this one getting away from me. I was moved into her place - OUR place - by 12 March 2011. The affection and communication haven't faded in all that time. NOTHING has faded in all that time. Our home is still filled with life, love, and laughter.

Here's hoping the hospitalization will be short.

Be well, and DFTBA!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Decade Later...

On 2 May 2011, we finally killed the mastermind behind 9/11. Most of us rejoiced, while simultaneously wondering if it was finally a reality. Had we really killed Osama bin Laden? We took the word of the President. He was dead. And the nation breathed a sigh of relief...until 6 May 2011, when Al-Qaeda confirmed it and vowed to retaliate.

Today, we're on high alert. There's rumor of a credible threat on this 10-year anniversary of the fall of the World Trade Center. Like I needed something else on my mind this day. Hopefully, the appropriate security officials have it in hand, and we won't have further reason to mourn this day.

What else is on my mind? Well, I've considered turning this into "Punch a 9/11 Truther in the Head Day." Really, their list of "evidence that 9/11 was an American conspiracy" is absurd. They point to quotes by people who've said the Towers could withstand the impact of a Boeing 707...and, oddly, THEY DID! What they couldn't withstand was a sustained fire that burned away the floors holding the building up. In know it's hard to grasp, but the floors were engineered to be the things that kept the walls up. That which gave the buildings their square-ish shape was turned to cinder, and so it was that the structure collapsed in on itself. Maybe they would have toppled like dominoes had the plane struck at the base. But because it was higher up, it came down almost as though a demolition crew had set it up.

Just because it APPEARS that way doesn't mean it WAS that way.

Then there's the infamous footage of Building 7, which was heavily damaged on its south face and its southwest corner after the North Tower collapsed. Bulging on the SW corner and perpetual creaking indicated that the building might come down, and so it was evacuated of all rescuers around 3:30 PM. At 5:20:33 PM, the east mechanical penthouse crumbled. At 5:21:10, just 37 seconds later, the whole structure came down. The footage shows a vertical line of windows shattering as the building collapsed, and this has given rise to the Truthers' claim that it was planned.

"Open your eyes!" "Face the truth!" "Those who don't believe are 'sheeple!'" And let's not forget their questioning battle cry, "What about Building 7?"

The problem with a conspiracy is that often there are too many people who are "in the know" about it. If more than one person knows about a secret, it's really not a secret anymore. Someone else has already been told. In order to pull off something as large and horrific as the destruction of the WTC, A LOT of people would have to be in on it. And many of them would not be "trained" to keep secrets. Had there been a conspiracy, it would be leaking in so many places that the whole idea of keeping a secret would be a sinking ship by now, and plenty of people would be on the hook for it.

And my final thought on it: Americans would NOT slaughter Americans wholesale like that. I refuse to believe it. I'll buy into the conspiracy theories surrounding JFK because, as I said, secrets can't be kept in Washington D.C., and the leaks started almost immediately. One man killed for what appears to be a laundry list of reasons. I've been sold on it specifically because there are documents sealed away that won't be released to the public until all possibly involved parties are dead. But 11 September 2001 was the work of terrorists, not the U.S. government.

This year, the Truthers were given another reason to start crying foul. Video was leaked years ago of the execution of Saddam Hussein. We knew he was dead. But no one saw the killing of bin Laden except those soldiers who carried out the execution. And pictures of Osama shot/blown to pieces were never released. And to top it all off, he was buried at sea. So now, (aside from giving me cause to start a number of sentences with a conjunction), the Truthers don't believe Osama bin Laden is actually dead. If he is, they decry that he was killed for no good reason, as they believe there's nothing that connects him to the destruction of the Twin Towers. This is despite the fact that he was quoted as saying, "G-d knows it did not cross our minds to attack the towers, but after the situation became unbearable - and we witnessed the injustice and tyranny of the American-Israeli alliance against our people in Palestine and Lebanon - I thought about it. And the events that affected me were that of 1982 and the events that followed - when the Americans allowed the Israelis to invade Lebanon, helped by the U.S. Sixth Fleet. As I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me to punish the unjust the same way: to destroy towers in America so it could taste some of what we were tasting and to stop killing our children and women."

Yeah...nothing to connect him to the attacks, besides that quote and the fact that he proudly announced that Al-Qaeda was responsible.

And then there are the rumors that firefighters and police charged up the stairs of the towers to steal all they could. I've actually heard them. Perhaps they should sit down and watch the documentary I've been recommending the last couple of years. I found it on DVD last week and bought it. (Now I can watch and weep from the comfort of my bed.) And perhaps I should explain in a bit more detail what it is.

James Hanlon, along with Jules and Gedeon Naudet, set out to make a documentary about a rookie firefighter going from being a "probie," or probationary fireman, to "becoming a man." So they auditioned several candidates at the academy and found Antonio "Tony" Benetatos. Amongst the superstitious men of Ladder 1 and Engine 7, Tony was what they called "a white cloud." A "black cloud" is a probie who comes out of the academy and brings every fire in the city with him. But a "white cloud"...? There seems to be nothing that happens after his arrival, which leads the men to believe that the mother of all fires is on its way.

The film sticks to its original purpose, showing Tony as he learns his job, as well as how to laugh under the comedic hazing of his fellow firefighters. After weeks of filming, Gedeon Naudet claimed that they had a great cooking documentary, showing various men at the station whipping up meals to feed at least a dozen guys at a time. But no fires. Not any serious ones, anyway.

On the morning of 11 September 2001, Jules Naudet, still learning how to do camera work, went along with Battalion Chief Joseph Pfeifer on a call about an odor of gas on the streets. It was a routine run, not very exciting. And then at 8:46 AM, the day became anything BUT routine.

It would seem that there are only two shots of the first plane hitting the Towers. Jules Naudet unintentionally caught the first, clearest, and most horrific one. There's the sound of a plane flying entirely too low. He aims his camera at the WTC...and there's the collision, with a ball of fire and debris exploding into the air...one of the firemen shouts, "Holy shit!"...then comes the sound of the impact.

From that moment, it would seem that the documentary changes its focus. It's no longer about a probie working his way into the role of fireman, but about the day our nation was forever changed by an act of terror. And yet it doesn't quite lose its focus entirely. It's still about Tony and the day his aspect as "white cloud" came back to bite him in the butt...HARD! At the same time, it shows what REALLY went on inside the towers. Yes, INSIDE the towers.

It's not an "all hail America" propaganda. It is, however, probably the most honest telling of what went on that day. If you haven't watched it, it's worth it...and I believe I read that it will be aired again at 8:00 PM tonight on CBS.

I've rambled on enough for one day. Be well, and DFTBA!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Not toe be

And we're done. I saw the podiatrist today, and he initially wanted to wait another two weeks before making any decisions. But the discussion that followed went something like this:

Me: Honestly, doc, what do you expect to happen in two weeks? We've alternated between waiting one or two weeks, and this wound, with the exception of that ONE night, has done no healing. If anything, it's now bigger than it was when it started.
Doc: I understand if you're tired of this and want to move forward with its removal...
Me: It's more than that, doc. *starts ticking off on fingers* One, it's not really healing. Two, it's not a healthy color. It's not gangrene, but it's also not looking good. Three, the tendons seem to be gone, and the end of my toe now rotates full circle, which it shouldn't do. And four, it hurts deep inside. When you consider that you were able to probe to the bone without me flinching, that means something is wrong somewhere in the center of the toe.
Doc: I agree with all of that, but I wanted to give it that chance to heal.
Me: Okay...be honest. What kind of odds would you give this toe in terms of recovery.
Doc: I'd say about 2%.
Me: Uh huh...2%. Doc, if you were to tell me I had cancer, and that I had a 2% chance of survival, you can pretty much bet that I'm going home to make my final arrangements. If I were in a coma, and only had a 2% chance of ever coming out of it, my family would gather around and pray for a miracle, while also debating rather weakly to pull the plug. Right now, the only thing keeping the end of my toe in place is skin, as the tendons seem to be completely gone. And what are the odds of those growing back?
Doc: None.
Me: Okay...then let's lose this thing already. Because it hurts, and it's aging me just worrying about it all the time. We keep hoping for a miracle that's not happening. It's time to lose this thing.

Not word-for-word, but pretty close. And the doctor agrees with me. We've been hanging by a thread this whole time, and have been steadily slipping off it. I could, at any moment, smash this toe on a piece of furniture and the end of it would come off. Before that happens, it's time to have it taken off properly.

Due to yesterday's adventures in flooding, one of the area hospitals had to be evacuated. That means the other two have had to take the overflow. In turn, that means that the surgery may not happen swiftly. Thus, I made an appointment to followup in two weeks on the off chance the doc couldn't get me scheduled for surgery. What's more, I'll likely be hospitalized for a few days, as my PCP was in agreement to do such a thing.

So the bad news...? The toe must go. The good news...? Once it's gone, I'll have one less worry.

I'll keep you folks posted. Be well, and DFTBA!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

DOOM! DOOM, I tell you!

Honestly, trying to get a bit of appropriate news for the area during a potential natural disaster is baffling as all get-out. The news agencies are filled to the brim, with little more than bad news, showing videos and pictures of roads that are either under water or being washed out.

The names of some of the places are the same for long stretches. Reports of flooding along the Susquehanna River can stretch across numerous counties, including the one I live in. So when they report about such flooding, it MIGHT include us...but we can't tell.

At this moment, seated in our apartment, are three guests: my neighbor and her daughters, 12 and 14 years of age. The ladies, including Becky, are essentially glued to the television, listening to the reports of our pending Armageddon. The ongoing problem is that most of the reports that they're watching have little to do with where we are.

How do I know? Because I called two agencies that would actually KNOW. First, I phoned the non-emergency line for the local police department. The cop who answered essentially said that our town wasn't in any danger. With this news, we breathed a sigh of relief. But then we kept watching/listening to the news, and we started fearing that I'd been misinformed. Thus, I called the local FEMA-esque agency for clarification. I'm told the levies are at a height of 36 and a half feet. Thus far, the river waters, (the agent checked the most recent report), was at 19 and a half feet. Local estimates say the waters should top off at about 32 feet at the most.

So we're experiencing a state of panic for nothing, really. I'm surrounded by women - two adults, two teens, and two felines (also female) - for the sake of keeping my stress levels at maximum.

This day has been an unnecessary exercise in excitement. I understand the need for the media to report what's been going on where, but a sense of organization might've been nice. Make a column of flood warnings and flood watches, then report on them individually. Then have another column under which are the names of places NOT in danger, and report on them as well. Really, we can all use our imaginations when it comes to muddy waters flooding the insides of homes, so your reporter in the field doesn't need to be showing us as many personal tragedies as possible. Life is rough for everyone in those areas, so go back to the station and shut up! Organize the news in such a way as to keep people from panicking, instead of working to be as disorganized as possible.

As for me...? My guests have gone. Becky is taking a nap, as the useless excitement has worn her out. And I am going to find something that's not weather related to relax.

Be well, and DFTBA!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Weather, cast, and pain

It rains like cats and dogs today...and ferrets...and snakes...and rats...and iguanas...and any other domestic pet you can think of. It would figure that such heavy rain would come on the day I had to get a new cast put on. As we drove to the orthopedic clinic today, we passed a water runoff that looked like a raging river. Flooding couldn't be that far behind.

But I got to see the special specialist again today, and was FINALLY granted permission to be on my foot "as tolerated." This means I can start walking and standing for as long as I feel no discomfort, which is a relief to Becky and I. Once more, I can engage in such things as doing the dishes!

But for the fact that the second toe on my left foot is feeling worse. I don't know if it's because of actual damage within, or if it's the weather, but my pain is definitely increased. And the toe...? When I change the dressing daily, it doesn't LOOK any better. Where I once had to convince Becky that removing the toe would be a good idea, she's now suggesting it on her own. "I really think it's time to take it off," she's said several times...

...and I'm inclined to agree. This thing is a physical and mental pain. The stress is getting bad enough, worrying over it, that my hair is getting grayer. Before, I had the more "distinguished" look of having gray at my temples. Now those damnable grays are showing up all over the place. I suppose I was lucky, as my biological mother was gray by the time she turned 18. Still, I don't like the "less-than-distinguished" look it's creating.

In addition to this, there's the fact that 9/11 is rapidly approaching. The trauma of the day still haunts me annually, and I suspect I'll be blogging on that day if I manage to think of anything new to say...or decide to simply spew the same pain that visits me this time every year.

And there's more. There are wildfires in TX. There's still more flooding in upstate NY. I have friends living in these areas, where Mother Nature seems to have unleashed her wrath for no other reason than "those areas were due." My friends don't need to suffer for me to feel overwhelming concern; they just have to be under the threat of suffering. That's when I want to throw on my tights and cape, fly to their rescue, using my powers "beyond those of mortal men" to fix everything.

Finally, thoughts of my father keep sneaking in on me. He and my step-mother are upset because I would "say such things on an internet." Yeah...a place where the people I know don't actually know them. And the things I was saying convey a message of how upset I was, and how I perceived things. They didn't want to discuss anything; they just wanted to be angry. Things were fine, with them none the wiser, until Stu - it HAD to be Stu - showed them what I was saying. Now everyone is hurting, making Stu a more precise clone of my biological mother than I previously thought. She destroyed lives. He destroyed lives. (Well played, Satan's nephew.)

Too many woes at the moment. Too much stress. I'm taking gobs of insulin to stay in some semblance of control, while attempting to remain "normal" amongst my friends on Facebook. I kind of praying the new meds my PCP prescribed will help me sleep the night through tonight.

Be well, and DFTBA.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"This side of the bed..."

Becky and I have a lot of moments in which we interact, and her first reaction is, "At least you can blog about that one." They're usually funny moments, and the ones that are unsafe to put here are rated R for "adult content." Or pretty darned close to it.

She wants me to share such moments, because as long as we're laughing, she wants to be sharing it. G-d knows, we have enough reasons not to laugh, so sharing the good stuff is...ummm...good. (Me goodly writer; make funny message.) But aside from those moments that shouldn't be shared because they're too growed up, there are also the "location jokes." They're all "you had to be there" kind of things.

But we had another one last night, and she seems to really want me to share the moment...so here we go.

It was "post-cuddle." I wasn't quite tired, so I planned on doing some reading. Really, Becky is quite emotional, and often sheds tears of joy when we cuddle, as she just so amazed she found little old me. Sometimes I just don't get it. I'm too broken. No one in their right mind would shed tears over the concept of being in love with whatever it is that I am. But Becky is just THAT in love with me, and so the tears flow. And last night was one of those nights.

Now, cuddle sessions mean we're going to be quite clingy. We're not like that all the time. We enjoy showing affection, but don't feel the need to be glued to one another 24 hours a day, seven days of the week. But once we start clinging, Becky often doesn't want to give it up. So as we ended our cuddling, and I was getting ready to read, she curled around my seated self on my side of the bed and said, "This side of the bed is - OH G-D!" That last was a result of going from candlelight to lamplight. She knew I was going to set myself up to read. She had to see me reaching for the lamp. All the same, the light startled her, altering her line from what was supposed to be, "This side of the bed is all comfy and warm."

It's at this point that I should note that the walls of our apartment aren't too thin...but also aren't very thick. Given enough volume, a neighbor could easily hear whatever it is we might be doing in here. It's kind of amusing to think of a neighbor parking in the back, noticing our dark apartment, going into their own, and shortly thereafter hearing through the walls, "OH G-D!"

Had I thought of it at the time, I could, in an equally loud voice, have said, "Yes, ma'am...you are welcome!" =P

Instead, I chose to start having fun at Becky's expense, resulting in her laughing so hard that she was crying again. It was one line after another. "This side of the bed IS ON FIRE!" "This side of the bed IS WRITHING WITH SNAKES!" "This side of the bed IS COVERED IN RAZOR BLADES AND PUDDLES OF LEMON JUICE!" I just kept going, one line after another, with her laughing continuously.

The two of us have moments that we'll probably never live down. She has last week's trip to the mall, which, for some odd reason, had us driving to the completely different location of Wal-Mart first. And I have those THREE times when I thought I was innocently caressing her shoulder...but it was definitely NOT her shoulder.

So there you have it. Is it truly a location joke, or are you laughing (or at least smiling) as well?

Be well, and DFTBA!

Monday, September 5, 2011

2011 Labor Day Special!

I just wanted to thank all of the wonderful doctors and nurses working so hard today, helping all of those pregnant women giving birth. It must be rough having one day of the year dedicated to having all pregnant women go into labor, and...

What's that? Well, how far, exactly, is "WAY off base?" A thousand miles in this case?

Well, I'm not alone. Most Americans no longer even know what the holiday is, other than a kind of seasonal bookmark to end all summer shenanigans and to let us know that kids are going back to school. And it is there, in school, that we were never really taught what the day meant. It was just a day off from work for our parents, if they held such jobs that gave off for holidays. Thus, I feel it's time I schooled you kids on what Labor Day is about.

I suppose we can call the 1880s the late adolescence of the United States. We'd already had our rebellious, early teen years, in which we had a truly bloody Civil War. (Second American Revolution for my southern readers, right?) During the 1880s, there was a great deal of financial growth in the States overall. But where the housing market was a big part of the problem for our recent recession, back then it was railroad speculations. Too much growth, including some ill-advised purchases of smaller companies by larger ones. An influx of silver from out west was also part of the problem, (but I'm not quite understanding that one. Economic genius, I am not.) Come the 1890s, trouble was looming. Banks started failing and railroads went bankrupt.

Enter "the Panic of 1893." We didn't ease into a recession. We fell right on into a depression. Unemployed workers marched on Washington in 1894 to protest Grover Cleveland's financial policies, demanding some type of job relief program.

And what goes better with an economic depression than a series of strikes? One of the most notable was the "Pullman Strike." Due to their financial struggles, the Pullman Palace Car Company decided their best course of action was to cut the wages of their employees. Said employees tried to send a delegation to talk the situation over with the owner, George Pullman, but he decided that they weren't worth his valuable time. Thus, they made it worth his time. If time is money, they cost George a lot of it by shutting down the works. Around 125,000 men made it their business to prevent Pullman cars from being...pulled. (Sorry.)

President Cleveland decided to break up the strike because it was supposedly interfering with the delivery of the mail. Big federal no-no, y'know? So he sent in troops, and they handled it by managing to kill 13 workers and wounding 57 others.

Yeah, that worked. The violence increased. In the end, around $340,000 in damages was done by about 6,000 workers, which, when taking inflation into account, is estimated at over $8,000,000 in today's money.

Money vs. lives. It never comes out even, as you can't put value on a human life. So to try and make up for it, Grover Cleveland reconciled by making Labor Day a federal holiday, as a way of saying, "Hey, thanks for all the hard work you folks do." I'm not actually sure how a national day off from work compensates for the loss of lives, but it seemed to do the trick.

And that's about all I could squeeze out of my one and only Wiki source. It states at the beginning that the holiday "celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers." These days, we "celebrate" Labor Day with retail sales and the gleeful idea that the streets will have fewer kids roaming about during the day. While we might give thanks to our nation's soldiers on Veteran's Day, I sincerely doubt anyone is walking up to someone who's employed and shaking their hand, saying, "Hey...thanks for having a job!"

Now that's enough out of you! You've been sitting there, reading this relatively short blog post, wasting valuable time on something you may or may not have already known. (Likely that you didn't, I'll bet. =P ) Get back to work!

Oh...before I go, be well, and DFTBA! =)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Toe be continued...

This is really just a status update. And the update is that there's little change in the actual status of my beleaguered toe. It's not healing. It's not really becoming visually worse.

But it does HURT! G-d, how it hurts. After the podiatrist examined and treated the toe, debriding it and all that, he went about the task of dressing the wound...and that process ended up causing me a lot of pain. The problem being that whatever is infected in there doesn't feel great to start with, and the toe now bends in directions it wasn't meant to bend. He believes the connective tissues in the toe have disintegrated from whatever got in there. So the end of my toe moves this way and that, and it all hurts.

Following the visit to the foot doc was a visit to my PCP, where we discussed my lack of surgery and what should happen if the toe does, indeed, have to go. Essentially, he agrees that hospitalizing me wouldn't be a bad idea. In this way, there'll always be someone around to handle whatever crisis I experience after said surgery. That, and the meds are that much better. (IV antibiotics...? Yeah, they're nice. But IV painkillers?!? WOOHOO!)

I'm trying to be a patient patient, but this whole thing is being dragged out much longer than I think is necessary. The podiatrist is still on the edge about trying to treat the toe, as it's not making that much of a recovery since it's miracle healing session that one night. If he operates, it's a definitive end to the problem. Becky, believe it or not, is all for the surgery at this point. It puts an end to just one more thing we've been worrying about.

* * *
Meanwhile, I've been lurking on Facebook, and have been enjoying myself capitally. It seems that I randomly have some criticism or humorous post to make after my friends have said...something.

For example, Wyatt posted an interesting link to genetic research. They've completely decoded the gene sequence of the green anole lizard. In my mind, the only response to this could be exactly what I posted:

No, Mr. Hammond, you may not take the original copy of our research. We need it to...

A *WHAT* kind of park? Are you insane? It's absurd. It's irresponsible. It's -

Hey! Come back here! Someone call security and tell them an old guy named John Hammond just ran off with all of our genetics data on the lizards. Tell them that he moves rather fast for a guy so old. And also tell them that the cane with the piece of amber at the top is not a walking aid, but more likely a weapon!

Days before that, he posted this golden nugget of news. That brought about my lengthier reply of:

Another study went on to say that the United States has, in fact, been wasting trillions in other countries, if for no other reason than to demonstrate "how big the U.S.'s junk is."

An example of such spending over the decades is the continued military presence in Japan. Their initial goal was to ensure that the Japanese remained a docile nation. That goal was never achieved, as the Japanese grew technologically and now make almost everything owned in the States, effectively taking aggressive ownership of American society. (Or did you think your Sony Playstation was built in South Carolina?)

Trillions more were wasted in Germany, where nothing but democracy accidentally broke out, despite our best efforts and presence. The Berlin Wall, for example, came down without so much as the U.S. military sneezing in its general direction. At best, the wall coming down was witnessed by American video cameras...bought from Japan.

In the Falkland Islands, troops were sent to liberate students and sheep from an Argentine invasion, only to realize later the Argentinians could have been defeated by an expert team of bullies from American high schools using spit balls to make them cry. The only visible result of our military action there was a somewhat amusing movie starring Clint Eastwood, who, as rumor has it, doesn't resemble the original Clint Eastwood, who, in turn, looks an awful lot like Marty McFly.

Despite all of the money spent in these seemingly ridiculous ventures, our military men and women are still paid in virtual peanuts, and their aftercare from wars is as close to a war crime without being prosecutable. Veteran affairs is a joke, unless one manages to be particularly brave or good looking, at which point Japanese-made cameras will be trained on their faces using high grade lenses and laser sighting, just to be sure said cameras are truly aimed at the soldier's "good side."

When asked about all of this absurd spending of the past and present, as well as our ongoing investments in foreign nations in the future, President Obama quickly turned the fifth estate's attention back to the recent earthquake. "My scientific advisers have told me that the 5.8 quake was a result of a little-known geological abnormality known as 'Bush's Fault.'" This seemed to satisfy reporters, as it appeared at least some of the taxpayers' money was going into something that had occurred on American soil.

Yeah...my replies are fairly random, but I've been having fun when I make quite a few of them.

And now, dear friends, this wounded old man needs to get back to resting. I'll either try to continue to take over China in Romance of the Three Kingdoms 11, (just as China is somehow taking us over by buying up much of our debt), or settle in to watch Saving Private Ryan.

Be well, and DFTBA!