Tuesday, February 9, 2016

On The Road To Recovery

I've been sick since December 31, 2015, New Year's Eve day. I didn't go to the doctor until the 14th of January. I thought I just had a chest cold or something minor like that. It wasn't. I was really sick. We guessed Walking Pneumonia. He prescribed a 10-day regimen of Prednisone and another medicine for bacterial infection. 

I didn't really grasp how sick I was until today as I'm starting to feel slightly human again. Almost 6 weeks of coughing, wheezing, congestion, fever and complete exhaustion. I need to dust, vacuum, mop and clean my whole house, and polish all the stainless steel in my kitchen. But it still seems like a daunting task. Maybe tomorrow. 

The true positive of this last 6 weeks has been the unexpected and unintended side effect of the Prednisone regimen. It has helped my colitis tremendously. The side effect of that side effect is anger and doubts about my gastro doc.  Let me explain. 

I started having diarrhea back in October 2014. When it didn't go away, I mentioned it to my GP doc, who quickly referred me to the gastro doc. During the initial consultation with the gastro doc I was scheduled for a colonoscopy in March 2015. Diagnosis: non-specific colitis caused by a reaction to ibuprofen. Treatment: stop taking ibuprofen and a prescription for a steroid that he warned that insurance companies don't like to pay for. It's no wonder. For the 2 month treatment the cost is $1,500. Then there are the serious side effects to the drug that have sent several patients to the hospital. 

I went back for a follow up and asked what risks there were if I chose not to take the drug. None, he said, then recommended taking Imodium to curb the diarrhea and they would schedule me for another colonoscopy in 5 years.  I left his office feeling disappointed. I continued spending time in the bathroom 8 to 10 times a day, even with the Imodium. 

Fast forward, a year and a half later to the office visit with my GP doc who prescribed the Prednisone regimen, during which he also inquired as to how my colitis was doing. I told him I hadn't taken ibuprofen for 11 months, since my visit with the gastro guy. Did it help, he asked. No, I said. Then it isn't that, he said. Simple as that. 

I took the 10 day regimen of Prednisone at a cost of $4.50 and my colitis got better. A lot better, as in almost normal. This is where my anger and doubt kicked in. I suffered for 11 months with horrible diarrhea. Nothing about my life was normal during that time. I could never be far away from a bathroom because of the urgency. I lived in fear of incontenence and subsequent embarrassment. And all it took was $4.50 and 10 days of a commonly used steroid with fewer risks or side effects of the $1,500 drug the gastro doc wanted to prescribe. 

Needless to say, I will be changing gastro docs. 

On another subject, do not even get me started on the political campaign clown show taking place right now. It's disgusting and scary at the same time. Watching and listening to the GOP candidates is like watching and listening to a bunch of sixth grade bullies high on sugar on the school playground playing "I know you are but what am I," and their class mates gathering around and goading them on. There's not a grown up in the bunch.

Welcome to America. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Leaving the 1980's and Welcome to the 21st Century

We are attempting to move ourselves from our bedroom to the guest bedroom temporarily. 

The guest room had a full size bed, far to small for the two of us to sleep comfortably, so we purchased a new queen size mattress, base and frame to accommodate our need for more sleeping space. 

We will remodel our master bedroom: scrape the popcorn ceilng, paint the walls and trim, and install new flooring. Our plan is also to sell our master bedroom set we purchased almost 20 years ago for a bedroom almost  3 times the size of our current bedroom. We've lived with it in our current small bedroom for almost 10 years. That's long enough. Now we have to move all of our crap out of the cabinets and drawers. Luckily this provides a much needed opportunity to evaluate what we need to keep and what should be donated. 

Tom has already moved his stuff. I'm a little slower because I have issues. I am attached to the memories these seemingly trivial "things" evoke. 

Take these for instance:

Believe it or not these are earrings. I call them my "Whitney Houston" earrings. Sometime in the mid-1980's I saw Whitney Houston perform and she was wearing earrings similar to these. At that time of my life I was very, very, very fashion forward, as opposed to my current leggings-t-shirt-flip-flop obsession. I saw those earrings and I was on a mission to acquire something similar. I didn't necessarily want to be Whitney. Hello, I can't sing. But I definitely wanted to project her style. Yes, I'm white. I know. I told you I have issues.

So after many visits to many malls (I lived in Southern California, surrounded by malls other folks can only dream of), I found these in a small costume jewelry shop at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California, an hour or so north of where we lived. They weren't real diamonds and gold, but baby they were sparkly and huge and they made me feel like a rock star when I wore them. I wore them a lot for a few years. Then styles changed. I changed. And I've stored them in a black velveteen pouch for 30-plus years. 

Today I removed them from the precious velveteen pouch, dropped them into a small plastic bag to donate to Goodwill with a bag full of other neglected jewelry I've been keeping, but not wearing, for years. I know some woman will see those earrings and feel like she has hit the mother lode.  She will put those earrings on and they will make her feel like the diva she envisions herself to be. Mission accomplished.  

Monday, October 5, 2015

Oklahoma Wins!

We have returned from our vacation in California and Nevada. We had a wonderful time. 

I love spending time with my cousins and we were able to spend a real nice evening with my favorite Aunt Sally, who is well into her 80's. 

Camping at Mt. Madonna County Park with Rickey and Robert is always a relaxing and fun week, full of camp fires, amazing meals, family, newly made friends and lots of laughter. 

The second leg of our trip, we found a really nice RV park in Carson City, NV where we spent another 5 days just a short driving distance from Mike and Kathy and our delightful grandgirls. 

Oh. But the traveling. 

Yesterday on our way home from Tucumcari, NM to Conway, AR, an eleven hour drive (only because neither of us could tolerate those hours divided up into small 3-to-4 hour increments) we reached a monumental conclusion. Bear with me. 

We have driven through 26 states in the last few years, some of which have been in an SUV pulling a travel trailer and some of which has been in our motor home. No matter the mode of transportation, there is one state that, hands down, wins the "Best Roads Award" so far: New Mexico. Not only do they maintain their roads so beautifully, but they make an attempt (and succeed) to make the exits, overpasses and medians attractive.....even beautiful. 

The worst: Oklahoma wins! Driving I-40 through Oklahome was like 6 hours of someone hitting my body with a baseball bat repeatedly. It was so bad, at one point another driver motioned to us about something amiss at the front of our motor home. We pulled over, Tom proceeded to check it out and found that the constant bumps, pot holes, tar strips, cracks and basic lack of any kind of maintenance had caused the hood over the engine to come loose from it's brackets and was flapping open. 

But it's good to be home. It's fairly quiet. I no longer feel Ike I'm still moving even when I'm sitting still. That's definitely a plus. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


I'm sneezing like a son of a bitch. I think I'm allergic to everything desert. My skin is so dry it looks like a dead shriveled up snake. Humidity is 10% to 14%. I'm used to 75% to 94%. I'm shriveling. 

We had dinner in a Nevada casino. Smoking is the norm. After sitting in the restaurant for less than an hour I smell like an ashtray. 

We spent 5 days in Carson City to spend time with our son and our two youngest grandgirls. We planned on leaving yesterday, but a warning buzzer in the RV kept "alarming" us and Tom couldn't figure out why it wouldn't stop. 

We called a mobile RV repair guy, but he couldn't get to us until the afternoon, so we waited until he was able to diagnose the problem. It turned out, he just disconnected the buzzer and we finally left this morning. 

We drove from Carson City to Tonapah, NV. Tonapah Station to be exact. A casino, hotel, sort-of-RV park, aka casino parking lot with full hook ups. 

Should I have expected gourmet food at the restaurant? Hello! No. Should I have expected a cigarette smoke free environment? Apparently not. Hense, I smell like an ashtray. 

I gave Tom $30 to gamble. I told him to bring back at least $250,000 in winnings. We'll see if my instructions are followed to the letter. I'm not holding my breath. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015


I submitted the paperwork at the end of last year for my retirement from the university where I worked and I started receiving my monthly checks right after the first of the year. 

A couple of months ago Tom and I submitted our paperwork for our Social Security and not only did we receive our first check, but we both received a lump sum equal to 6 months back pay.  A really nice big chunk. 

Tom had always said he was going to wait until he was 70 to retire and even then he thought he would work part time. But so much has happened in the last 6 months or so to change his mind. The last straw was the time we were able to spend with our granddaughters this summer. He began to realize he'd rather be traveling and enjoying himself than working. 

When that big chunk of money hit the bank account, reality hit like a ton of bricks. At first Tom started only working half days. Then when jobs got delayed or schedules were rearranged, rather than work another job into his schedule, he'd take the whole day off. If you know Tom, you know he just doesn't do that. He gets too antsy and generally feels completely unproductive. 

No one has been more shocked than me. 

He's trying to decide how he's going to close the shop. He's comparing sheds to hold what tools he plans to keep. He started removing the signage from his van. Yesterday he came home about noon and proudly stated that he had removed the letters from the back doors and the large staircase logo from one side. Today he will remove the one on the other side. 

Last week Tom suggested attending a Silver Sneakers class together at the gym and maybe go for walks together. I was momentarily stunned. 

He's started reading more often. He takes more time to do the yard work. Maybe one day he will do the back yard and do the front yard the next day. If he's home for the day, he makes the bed before I even have my second cup of coffee. That works out fine for me. It's when he gets a little antsy and follows me around the kitchen asking if there's something he can do to help that I have to tell him in my stern voice to take a seat elsewhere and stop bugging me. But those times are fewer than they were initially. 

So we have another trip planned to California in September. In October Tom's oldest sister is coming out from California and we'll spend several days in Hot Springs visiting. And we have another trip planned to Florida in December. We're looking at work camps for next year. Campgrounds all over the U.S. provide a free campsite in exchange for a 15 hour work week doing light maintenance or office work with a three month or more commitment. 

Who knows what we will wind up doing. Whatever it is, we won't be kissing each other good-bye every morning as we head off to work. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Some Things Friday for January 16, 2015

We picked up Mackenzie from the shelter late Wednesday afternoon. She had been spayed earlier in the day, so she was pretty loopy recovering from the anesthesia.

As you can see, she is apparently crate trained. When we went to bed Wednesday night, Tom put her new bed in the crate in our bedroom and she walked right in, fell asleep almost instantly, and slept through the night.

What we've learned about Mackenzie in barely 48 hours:

1. She has little to no idea what dog food is, but if we head to the kitchen cabinets or refrigerator and she is at our feet, tail wagging in anticipation, waiting to be fed any human morsel we are willing to share. We're not willing. This does not please her. We started her off Wednesday afternoon with a cup of kibble in her bowl and 48 hours later over a half of a cup remains. All that people food she's been used to eating has made her fat. She's too fat, eighteen pounds, and could stand to lose about six or eight pounds at the very least.

2. She may have been housebroken, but we've had two "accidents" in two days. This appears to be precipitated by excitement and/or anxiety. It's as if she has no control. We will have to work on that.

3. She wasn't given a lot of affection or attention by her previous owner. It's not that she's afraid or timid. She just doesn't seem to care one way or another. However, if we make a specific effort to pet her or pay attention to her, she seems to enjoy it. Otherwise she is content to go back into her crate and sleep most of the day away. But we'll keep trying to socialize her more.

4. For no apparent reason, she will begin walking in circles, always to her left.

5. The shelter described her as Lhasa Apso mix, but in the original photo taken at the shelter, she looks like Gizmo, a Shih Tzu we had about 25 years ago. Mackenzie was groomed while in the shelter and the groomer cut most of her coat away because her hair was matted and dirty. Now she looks completely different. The groomer told the shelter staff that she was probably a Lhasa/Pomeranian mix. We might just have to do a doggy DNA test for a definitive answer.

So, now for Some Things Friday...

Some Things I Love:
  • Sunshine
  • Finally finding a new doctor who looks at me when he's talking to me, performs a thorough exam, and provides many alternatives on how to proceed. Thanks to my friend Tammy for recommending Dr. Lea. My doctor's appointment yesterday went really well, but we'll know more when the blood work results come back.
  • Pedicures
  • Finishing paying bills and filing the invoices away.
  • Only 63 days until Spring!!!

Some Things I Hate:
  • Cold weather. And the older I get, the more I hate it.
  • Walking on my treadmill in the garage instead of walking outside.
  • Not living near a coastline.
  • The Republican National Committee just announced there will be at least nine GOP presidential debates and as many as twelve. One clown show is all I can tolerate. Twelve is tantamount to torture, which is unconstitutional.
  • Rand Paul makes my skin crawl. That is all.

Some Things I Just Don't Get:
  • Ted Cruz, a climate science denier, was appointed to chair the Senate subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness. {Head meet desk.}
  • When Fox News says "More blacks kill blacks than whites". And somehow that makes white cop gun-happy racism okay? {My desk is getting a work out and my forehead is starting to hurt.}
  • This Georgia pastor prays for the opportunity to kill first.
  • Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (oh, yes, I'm so freaking proud) has criticized President and Mrs. Obama's parenting skills because they allow their daughters to listen to Beyonce. Perhaps he shouldn't be so quick to judge someone else's parenting skills. In 1998 Huckabee's then 18 year old son, while working as a counselor at a Boy Scout camp (you know, as a mentor and role model for younger boy scouts), tortured a stray dog by hanging it from a tree, threw rocks at it in an attempt to beat it to death, and finally slit the dog's throat. Someone please tell me what kind of parenting skills it takes to raise a child who would do such a horrible thing. Oh, and yes, the Boy Scout camp director apparently thought it wasn't the best example for younger boys and his son was fired from his job.
  • And finally, this.....

Monday, January 12, 2015

Changing Our Reality

Where do I begin? Florida is a good place.

We left Arkansas on December 16th, first to South Carolina then on to Florida for a little over 2-1/2 weeks. Except for a couple of days of spotty rain, the weather was glorious. We ate fish of every kind imaginable for lunch and dinner, except for when our son Chris cooked. He and Kelly had returned from a trip to Belize the week before and he came back with a spice mix, Recado, and made the most delicious stewed chicken I've ever eaten in my entire life. For Christmas dinner he whipped up a pepper crusted pork loin roast with an apricot glaze and a pan of rustic mushroom risotto. Christmas dinners at their house are almost always non-traditional and I love it.

I got a much needed pedicure and my granddaughter Hagan opted for a full set of acrylic nails. Tom opted not to participate although he was invited.

And we slept. The first couple of nights were a little rough. KOA campgrounds are almost always situated on a frontage road of some major highway. The first night was no exception. Interstate 20 at one end of the campground and a railroad track at the other end. A train whistle at 4:30 am. Enough said. Each night after that sleeping was better and most days we didn't get out of bed until 7:30 or 8:00 am, an anomaly for those of us used to starting our day around 6:00 without an alarm clock. I haven't slept that soundly and felt that rested in months.

The gulf was a beautiful bright blue. The air was warm. Pelicans, blue herons, egrets, seagulls and ducks greeted us everywhere we went. The mullet were running so there were lots of boats bobbing out in the water. We talked about everything, laughed, cried, hugged, kissed and snuggled. It was perfect. In every way.

We've been home since the evening of January 2nd. I haven't put on a pair of flip-flops since. The footwear norm is ultra thick hiking socks and my feet are still cold.

It was harder to come home this time than any previous visit. Tom has been talking more and more of retirement. I finally submitted my retirement papers before we left. It's getting closer to being a reality. And it feels really good.

I need to make an appointment with another doctor to address some potentially serious health issues. I cannot go back to the doctor I've been seeing. I don't really trust him or his staff. They continue to blow off my symptoms. I received a doctor recommendation from a friend and I will follow up this week. I found the doctor I'd seen for over 15 years as a result of a recommendation from a friend. I'm hoping this turns out the same way.

We're picking up our new furry family member sometime on Wednesday after she is spayed. The shelter staff found out her name is Mackenzie. Being a HUGE fan of The Newsroom, we will add a middle name: McHale, after the character Mackenzie McHale, the Executive Producer of News Night. What a fun coincidence. We've visited Mackenzie three times already and can't wait to bring her home. Bed, food and water dishes, leash and collar, dog food and training treats await her. Pictures coming the end of this week.