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Posts Tagged ‘#doctor’

I should’t write today because I’m so beside myself. But that is precisely why I’m doing it. I was going to bake. I found the recipe and most of the ingredients. It calls for semi-sweet chocolate chips. I have every chip known to man except those. I have peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips. But no semi-sweet. If I had a running car, it wouldn’t be a big deal. IF. My life is surrounded by IFs. Due to staying home so much with Mom, I hardly drove my car. On the weekends, I’d go out with hubby to get groceries and whatever other errands we did. Now that Mom’s gone, my battery is dead and won’t stay charged. It’s only a year and a half old, if that. I’ve even had the alternator replaced. It doesn’t help to keep it on the trickle charger either. I’ll have to spring for a new battery but am wondering if this cold spell we’re having will kill it anyway. We’re going away for Christmas so it won’t be run until the New Year. I feel like a prisoner and a child. I can’t even take the dog to the vet alone without a car. On the one hand, I could get rid of my car (it would kill me) but I like being able to run to the store or post office if need be. I would like to take a solo trip to Target which hubby doesn’t enjoy. Nothing is happening. I could buy a new car but why? To just let it sit most of the time? Hubby is racking up miles on his Jeep driving so far to work now that he’ll need a new vehicle soon. There seems to be no simple solution to anything…

So it snowed heavily on Sunday and the Directv satellite went out. So we haven’t had tv in 2 days. We’ll have to call and get them to come out on Friday when Greg is home. We can see the entire face of the satellite is covered in snow and we’re in the deep freeze. It’s too cold to even take the dogs for a walk. I had been doing really well with taking them for a walk daily until the temperature tanked. I guess it makes sense that I would go stir crazy. We’ve been having trouble with our Directv for months. It constantly shows lost satellite signal. It wants us to check the cables and cords for the connection. We do and it keeps happening. We’ve rebooted the system too many times. We both hate calling Directv because they are so unhelpful. That’s how we want to tie up one of 2 off days this week with having a service technician here or waiting for one to come. Oy vey.

Trying to get Mom’s estate cleared up. She had stock which I am trying to transfer to my name and it is turning into a nightmare. Years ago, they had demanded she mail in the stock certificates and they’d keep them online. Well she did and now they are asking for the certificates. When I told them they were mailed in, they act like I’m crazy. Greg remembers her mailing them in also. But they are saying they are lost and I have to pay $182.94 for each stock to replace them. Plus go to the bank and get some type of guarantee seal (insurance for the value of the stock). Greg is too busy to help me and this shit is so far over my head. So I’ll have to hire someone to help me do all that paperwork. I know that will cost a lot but I don’t have a choice. It is worrying me to no end.

I wanted to write a post about how I’m dealing with things since Mom died. That will have to wait. I have other things that I’m alarmed about. Right before we left for Thanksgiving, Greg needed a refill on one of his prescriptions that had no refills. I called the doctor’s office and found out that our doctor was out on medical leave and they didn’t think he’d be coming back. At all. EVER. This floored me. I asked if a different doctor could call in the refill. It was a lot of rigamaroll with them having to call back. Finally the nurse said none of the other doctors there knew him so wouldn’t authorize the refill. We were leaving in 2 days and he’d have to come in to see a different doctor after working a full day. It made no sense to me. We’ve had the same doctor (Dr. J) for over 20 years and he had given us his home phone number (cell) but we’d never used it. We didn’t want to abuse it. I hated to call him when he was out sick but did it anyway. He answered the phone and sounded quieter than usual. I said hi and told him my name. He asked if I’d heard what happened to him. I said no. He told me the end of May (we’d seen him earlier that month) he’d gotten very ill. He ended up having a heart attack. This kind of freaked me out. He’s only 6 years older than me, 5 older than Greg and 60 years old! Then he told me that he had another heart attack in June. Whoa! He said he was later diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. Of course, I didn’t know what exactly that was until I looked it up later. I knew it sounded serious and pretty darn bad. He said he’d had surgery to take one of his lungs out and was going to be having another surgery soon. He said he wouldn’t be back to work ever. I told him what a great doctor he was and how we’ll miss him. He said maybe down the line we could get together. We are more like friends after all these years. After talking a bit he was like, “What can I do for you?” I felt terrible bothering him with the refill but he was glad to take care of it for us. He said he still had access to the files online and I could tell he was sitting at the computer already. He texted me back that it was sent through and I called the pharmacy and it was! Since Mom was his patient too, I mentioned that she had died a week ago. We had always talked about our mothers since they were the same age (95). Then he said his mother had died a week ago! I asked him when and he said Tuesday morning and he asked when mine passed. I said 10:40 pm on Monday night. So they passed within a few hours of each other. He said he’d just gotten back from her funeral in PA (where he grew up) a few days ago. We talked a bit more and he told me of a friend of his who’s a doctor in our area that we can go to for our new doctor. I don’t want a new doctor but will definitely go to the guy he recommended in Jan. or Feb. Ever since I got off the phone with him, I can’t get Dr. J out of my head. That he is so seriously ill at such a young age and he’s a doctor!! It was a real wakeup call for me and Greg to try to keep our health for as long as we can.

Last Thurs. we took 6 hours of our day off to call relatives and tell them that Mom died. You’d think we would’ve done that sooner but you’d be wrong. Greg didn’t want to tell his siblings and mother for fear that they would descend on us. We wanted a month to grieve privately. We were also pretty broken up and didn’t want to have to get into details with people. We kept trying to call Greg’s mother but the calls kept failing. We found out later that she’d been having problems with her phone for a few days. She’d had the receiver off the hook! We started with Greg’s older sister Linda but she was at work. So we talked to her husband Ken and told him. He had Linda call us when she got home and we filled her in. Then we called his brother John, then we got ahold of his mother who promptly started with, “Now that Irene has passed, maybe you can come for Christmas this year.” Hubby told her no, we’re actually going back to Tunica, MS for the holidays. Then we called his brother Dan and talked to him and his wife Kris. Last we called his little sister Colleen. The only sibling we didn’t call was his brother Brian who had the brain injury a few years back. I finally emailed 2 of my half sibling who were Mom’s stepchildren. My brother Gary and sister Dianne. It was good to have that over with.

I’ve been working on Christmas cards this week. We just got some cheapies at Menards. I sent them to Greg’s mother and siblings and some of the friends I got sympathy cards from. I had to watch it since I only had so many stamps (not even Christmas ones) and knew I would’t get to the PO. I haven’t done any Christmas decorating which isn’t unusual. Since we’ll be gone, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. On Saturday we went to Randolph Street Market for the first time. It’s a once a month market in Chicago that carries antiques and handmade goods. Someone on Instagram told me she’d put us on the guest list but they couldn’t find us. (Turns out she thought we were coming on Sunday so hadn’t put us on.) I dropped her name and we got in for free anyway. Admission is like $8-10 each so that was great. It was a ton of jewelry and clothes which isn’t my bag. Not much Christmas items which surprised me. Only one book vendor and I ended up getting 4 old books and paid more than I normally would. Greg also got an old crucifix with the skull and cross bones on it. It took us just under 2 hours to make it though. We went to one estate sale after and it sucked. Lately the estate sales are not even worth going to. The weekend before last we skipped them the entire weekend. We finally got rid of our gigantic couch (took apart in 6 pieces and put it at the curb) and brought in the formica tabletop we found curbside and mounted it to the Singer treadle sewing machine base. We put the table in the LR which look odd. I wanted it to work on projects and write cards at. We’ve got the wrong chairs at it which makes it suck. Nothing is turning out the way I’d hoped. So it’s looking like we’re going to give up estate sales so we can pare down our hoard. After the new year, I’m going to get up and running again with selling things. Might even do eBay again. We’d like to get the house where we could entertain again. I don’t know how long that will take. Possibly years but I doubt we’ve got that much time. By summer, his family will be making excuses to stop by.

On a sad note, I had 3 loyal followers to my blog. THREE. That makes each one incredibly precious to me! I have about 100 subscribers to the blog but only those 3 were regular readers and commenters. One was in Australia, one in Canada and one in the US. The one in Australia has disappeared and I fear illness or worse. I’ve tried contacting her via email many times with no answer. I am quite worried but doubt I will ever find out the true story. The one in Canada had a major life event a few years ago and her blog was wiped out. She hasn’t started up again and for the most part has given up reading blogs. My US friend (Hi Heather!) is still with me which makes me happy. I grew to really care about the people who bother to read my blog. I don’t know if others do this. Maybe if they have a ton of followers, they can’t.

Blogs seem to be obsolete. I still see the value in them. I’m so glad I have this safe place to come and vent my feelings and share what’s going on in my life with those I know have open arms, ears and hearts.

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We got back from our first RV trip of the year on Sat. July 4th. We went up to Green Bay, WI for 9 nights. It was nice but in some ways didn’t seem like vacation since we had to take Mom into consideration on everything we did. The first 4 days went good, we took her gambling (which we haven’t done since December in Tunica, MS) and she was ok. Then that Monday night she fell out of bed TWICE! She’s never done that before at home or in the RV. I sleep with her in the RV to keep an eye on her. After that I didn’t sleep all night. She got all black and blue and I was afraid she’d break something. The first time it happened, she got back up in bed no problem. The 2nd time, she said “I can’t!” when I tried to get her up. Finally, she got back up and was back to sleep in 90 seconds.
Amber & Elvis (in the bed) in the RV.

Amber & Elvis (in the bed) in the RV.

This is the first time we’ve gone anywhere in the RV where nothing went wrong! I was afraid to say it at the time but since we’ve returned home, I’ve been brave enough to say it. It’s hard to believe that something major (or minor) didn’t break down with it the whole time! It would be wonderful if this started a new trend and we could relax on vacations instead of wondering when the RV would act up…
Greg & the dogs on the picnic table in Green Bay.

Greg & the dogs on the picnic table in Green Bay.

Within a few days of coming home, Mom’s hearing aid kept filling up with gunk. I had to clean it out a few times a day. Then a week ago I saw her ear canal looked shut so I used a bobby pin and pulled out what looked like white dead skin. <gag> When I gave her a bath last week, I noticed a bunch of crusty orange stuff on her ear and going down her neck. I had seen it the day before and thought it was food. My bad. It usually IS food… Then when I changed her sheets, I noticed orange-ish brown stains on her pillowcase. So I figured out she had some kind of ear infection. She sees her ENT doctor once a year and that would be the end of Sept. but this couldn’t wait. Her doc is so booked up that he has 2 offices and only goes to the location by us once a week. He’s also triple booked and they couldn’t get us in at either location for weeks. So they offered to let her go to his partner Dr. Hughes. We’ve never even seen him before but were very appreciative that they could fit her in. Sidenote: Dr. Hughes looks just like Kip from The Millers. “The Millers” is this fabulously funny sitcom. There are very few sitcoms I like at all but this one is hilarious. So I got her in last Thurs. July 9th. It took a few hours since she had to see Idea (the hearing aid person aka audiologist). I am torn about Idea for a first name. If I was her husband, I’d never get over saying, “I have an Idea!” and then laughing at my own joke.
Ivy in our backyard. Dog Run sign is new from estate sale.

Ivy in our backyard. Dog Run sign is new from estate sale.

So I’m one of those people who google symptoms and self diagnose. Can’t help it. I’m wrong probably half the time but don’t always give myself a good scare with it so that’s something. I had googled Mom’s “discharge” (even the word is disgusting—how’d you like THAT for a first name?!) and it said “glue ear”. I was pretty confident and told the doctor. He didn’t say anything. So towards the end of the appt., I wanted to pat myself on the back so said, “Was I right about the glue ear?” Uh, no. Apparently, I need to hold my tongue. That is what someone with an intact eardrum gets. Mom has a hole  in her eardrum. Which I did not know or didn’t remember. I knew she did 4 decades ago and had surgery to put a patch on it then. So he said when you have a hole in your eardrum, you get drainage. I told him she’d never had it before. He said he was surprised she hadn’t. He prescribed drops containing antibiotics and a steroid. So I’ve been busy putting 4 drops in her right ear twice a day. At bedtime and after I get her up and onto the toilet. Her right ear is her “good ear” if you can believe it so she can’t hear ANYTHING out of it now. Plus she has to leave her hearing aid out until she goes back to see the doctor for a follow up. That’s right, I’m taking her back on July 23rd. The fun never ends.
We've had milk cans for yrs. Hubby just got tractor seat in WI. Now he painted both.

We’ve had milk cans for yrs. Hubby just got tractor seat in WI. Now he painted both.

Making lemon pie out of a bad situation (because lemonade is so overdone), we actually got to go to lunch after the doctor’s appt.!! It was Greg’s day off and we hadn’t eaten out yet this year. Mom was all dressed up in her good clothes and freshly bathed and it was just the perfect time. We never got to go our for hers or Greg’s birthday or our anniversary. We just had to take it as it comes and jump at the chance. We went to Boston Fish Market. Greg and I had a tuna sandwich with fries. Not canned tuna, a tuna fillet. Mom had fried fish and coleslaw. She doesn’t like fries so we took those home and ate hers the next day. Mom did great eating and it gave me hope that we can do this again sometime.
Hubby just got this for free. Corrugated metal Halloween sign.

Hubby just got this for free. Corrugated metal Halloween sign.

Communicating has been harder than ever with Mom’s hearing deficit. I find myself shouting at the top of my lungs and she still doesn’t answer me. Getting Mom onto the toilet, the dialogue goes like this: Me: “You need to go pee.” Mom: Silence and she tries to get up 10 seconds after her ass hits the seat. Me: “Put your hands together, close your eyes, relax and go pee.” Mom: Silence and tries to get up. Me: “You need to go pee while you’re on the toilet! DO YOU HEAR ME?!” Mom: “Yes, I hear you” and tries to get up. Me: “Then you need to answer.” Mom: “You need to answer.” Repeat this scenario multiple times a day about any subject you can name. When we were in the RV and left her playing games on the ipad, we’d come back and find her in the passenger seat facing the windshield! Once she was sitting in the driver’s seat!! I asked her what she was doing up there and she said she was going to drive but couldn’t find the keys. That was a scary thought since she hasn’t driven in 20 years!! The only answers I get to questions are “I don’t know”, “Answer” or silence.
Hubby's getting ready to build a pergola. We saw this at an estate sale & liked it.

Hubby’s getting ready to build a pergola. We saw this at an estate sale & liked it.

The Sunday after we came home, there was a breakthrough. I finally figured out WHY Mom picks her leg and arms. I was looking at Chibi Jeebs blog and she was talking about skin picking. It’s an OCD disorder called Dermatillomania. It is repetitive picking of one’s own skin to the extent of causing damage. Usually this is younger people and they do it to their faces or scalps. Mom has had this since her late 50’s and probably got it when she gave up smoking. It’s like a nervous condition that becomes a habit. Back then I remember her picking her arms where there were no sores or anything wrong with the skin. She would pick until they bled and they would heal and leave scars. I think back then she was able to quit for some periods of time or only limit to her forearms. From what I read, the only cure seems to be behavior modification. I don’t think that would work for Mom with her marbles loose. However, just KNOWING what it is has been a weight off my mind. I can be with her 24/7 and remind her not to pick but it doesn’t last. She keeps trying to do it and I keep her leg covered. Then I will be away from her for a few minutes and she will undue all the healing in a no time. I had no idea this was a “thing”. I find my stress level has escalated anyway and I’ve turned into someone who is coping by eating anything and everything in sight. I’ve had my moments of that in the past but now I don’t feel strong enough to resist nor do I want to. I feel bad afterwards but not long enough not to do it again the next night. It’s either eat everything in the house, drink or both.
Before we left on vacation, I cut up and froze a TON of rhubarb.

Before we left on vacation, I cut up and froze a TON of rhubarb.

So that’s where things stand here. Trying to make it through another day. We don’t have anymore vacations in the works until around Labor Day. We’re also trying to cool it on the estate sales until she get the house and yard a bit more organized. I am having a hard time posting at all to Instagram and have (for the most part) abandoned Twitter. I don’t know how to bring myself back. It’s not that I have nothing to say, it’s that I don’t feel confident to put myself out there. Someone on IG was asking about starting up a blog. A ton of people were telling her that blogging is passe and no one reads them anymore. I hope not! I think blogging should be here to stay. It’s such a reflection on society that people can’t stick with blogging for more than a few years yet can get tattoos that they’ll have to live with for the rest of their lives!! Everything in life changes. At least with a blog, you can change what you talk about and be fairly flexible with writing. But what do I know?! Not much.
Backyard from upstairs window. Nice & green but cluttered.

Backyard from upstairs window. Nice & green but cluttered.

When I was in college, I was friends with a girl named Edie who was from a dairy farm in SW Wisconsin. She was going to become a vet and from my research on the internet, she has succeeded. She always had a saying when someone dressed a certain way or told too much personal business, “she has no shame.” It got to be a joke between us and we’d say it to each other about everything. We had great fun. Anyway, I feel like on my blog I have no shame. I write about anything I want. Consequences be damned. Things others would gloss over like shit on the wall, disgusting crusty ear discharge, skin picking and any number of other gross things, I go all out sharing with the world. The only reason I can think of for doing that is how freeing it is. That and I have no shame. Holding things in will kill you. That’s why I insist on laughing hard every day. Not like a crazy person. Ok, some days like a crazy person. Laughing keeps me sane and lets out the hurt, pain, resentment, etc. So go have a good laugh on me or at my expense. It’s the least I can do for my fellow man.

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This time of year is hectic for everyone. Add in trying to catch up from vacation and a bunch of appointments and it makes for an even busier few weeks.  Tues. Dec. 3rd, I took Mom to the ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctor to get the wax removed from her ears. The next day I took her back to the same office, at the same time to see the audiologist who works on her hearing aids. They are never there on the same day, hence always 2 days of going. It went remarkably well. I stayed calm and felt in control the whole time. I made sure we were up in time so we wouldn’t be rushed getting ready. Mom didn’t remember ever being at the hospital/doctor’s office before. I’ve been taking her there for at least 10 years. She asked me a bunch of questions in the waiting room about why she was there and if I was coming in with her. I always do. Not surprisingly, she didn’t remember ever seeing the doctor before. The fact that the 2nd day she went, she didn’t remember we’d been there just the day before was sad. She didn’t remember the audiologist either. Unless something happens, she doesn’t have to go back to any doctor for at least 6 months. This morning she asked me if she was going to the doctor today. She doesn’t remember going last week at all.

Yesterday something happened that alarmed me regarding Mom. I was upstairs on the toilet (in disposed) and I heard her walking around downstairs. Usually once I get her on the computer to play games, she sits there until I get her up to go to the bathroom before lunch. Then I heard the front door open. I hollered down, “What are you doing down there?” She said, “I’m looking for the little girl. The little boy.” I yelled back that he was upstairs with me. He sits on my feet while I’m on the toilet because he can never be too far away from me. She couldn’t hear me say he was upstairs but finally shut the door and went back in the sunroom. We let the dogs into the backyard but never loose out the front door. It even confuses me why she was looking out there. She doesn’t like to walk or I’d have to worry about her wandering off. She doesn’t remember the dogs’ names. Yesterday she called Elvis “Charlie.” She doesn’t remember the dogs we used to have before these.

We had pizza on Tues. when Bacci had a 2 for the price of 1 special. She always loved pizza and now she won’t eat the crust. Not just the end crust but ANY of the dough base. She only wants to pick the toppings off with her fork and eat those. I don’t want her giving the crust to the dogs and tried to get her to eat some of the base. She wouldn’t. This is the same woman who used to make me sit at the table long after my food was cold if I didn’t finish my plate. I hated liver and lima beans and those things taste worse when they are stone cold. I was stubborn and would sit there for quite awhile. Eventually, I would give in and at least eat some of the dreaded food. Now to think my mother thinks nothing of “wasting” food or being a picky eater or not finishing her plate. Last night we had the rest of the leftover pizza and I didn’t even try to attempt to get her to eat it. Instead, I made her a can of tomato soup and she was happy as a toddler. I always said I would never be a short order cook and make different things for family members but here I am.

This morning before hubby went to work, we took Elvis to the vet for his distemper shot. He’s due next month for his rabies but we got that today so we don’t have to go back. Tomorrow night after work, hubby has his diabetes class at Jewel. They’ll take his blood to check his A1C. Next Wed. the 18th is the Christmas party at hubby’s work. I’ll have to make some bars or something for him to bring to share. Then later that afternoon, we both have dentist’s appts. It was the only day the dentist had openings. We’ve never gone together before but they’re only cleanings so it shouldn’t take long.

Then after that is CHRISTMAS VACATION!! Hubby’s off for 17 days! 🙂 To say we’re excited is an understatement. I’m not a Christmas person for reasons I’ll have to get into another time. If we stay home, it feels like we didn’t even have a vacation. Unless we do what we don’t normally do and make a Christmas. I still won’t buy, exchange or wrap gifts but I’m willing to put up a tree and decorate. I haven’t done that in YEARS. This means we’ll be going into the attic and pulling down boxes of ornaments and things we haven’t laid eyes on for over a decade. This could be fun but it could be a nightmare. I’ll keep you posted on what we find and what we do. The only way things could change would be if we saw on the news that Tunica was getting a heat wave and expecting temperatures in the 70’s! Then we’d pack up fast as lightening and venture forth.

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An Apple A Day

We were in for quite a surprise when I accompanied hubby to his doctor’s appt. on Thurs. Sept. 17th. We had been there the month before and the doctor wasn’t. We’d been there in June and July. Plus we’d stopped by on at least 2 other occasions to get a doctor’s order for something and some sample meds. A new nurse we hadn’t seen before took us to the exam room and asked us, “Did he tell you he’s leaving next week? His last day is the 24th.” We were shocked. If we hadn’t come in then for an appt., we’d never have found out until after he was gone! Dr. J had already trimmed his schedule from 4 days a week (M-TH) to 3 days a week (cutting out Mondays). We didn’t know if he was having health problems or what. I asked the nurse if he was retiring. Dr. J is only 58 yet I couldn’t see him going anywhere. He’s been on salary where he doesn’t worry about how many patients a day he sees or how much time he spends with them. The nurse “couldn’t say” where he was going and to ask him ourselves.
Well, when he strolled in late (typical), he had a resident in her last month of school shadowing him. We asked him where he was going and he went into a long detailed explanation about how the neighborhood in Melrose Park has gotten bad (true) and it wasn’t safe. He’s heading to Elk Grove Village which is a little closer to us but in the opposite direction. He said he told his current employers he was leaving in June and they didn’t believe him. He put in written notice in July and they were supposed to mail out letters to patients and we didn’t get a single one. He told us the office isn’t allowed to give out the information of where he’s heading to. He didn’t have a specific address or phone number for us and said he would email Greg with the info. As Greg was giving him his email address, I just knew. I would bet everything I own in the world that we’ll never hear from this doctor we’ve been loyal to since July ’96! For all I know, he wasn’t even typing in the email address into his phone. As far as I know, he’s not trying to get rid of US as patients. Although I do believe he is trying to get rid of most of his patients who are on Medicare/Medicaid. They also don’t take any of their health issues seriously. He told us that they hand out diabetes booklets to those diagnosed and most don’t even look at them OR take them with them. They discard them in the exam room and head to McDonald’s.
We had to get written prescriptions for all of hubby’s meds and Dr. J doesn’t like writing them. He wants to send them directly to the pharmacy. The only problem is that when we got over there, he had only sent scrips for the 2 blood pressure meds. He didn’t send one for hubby’s Metformin (diabetes drug) or the test strips or lancets for the blood glucose monitor. Last month when hubby had no refills on the Metformin, the pharmacy called the doctor’s office. Then the pharmacy called back saying they wouldn’t give any refills until he saw the doctor. As I said earlier, we’d been there just a month ago! Then a different doctor authorized one month but no refills.
We are so torn right now. After this week, we’ll have to actively search out this doctor if we want to continue to see him. Which we would do because in some way’s he’s easy. He doesn’t put us through a lot of unnecessary tests or make us feel bad about being fat. He doesn’t lecture or scare us (usually). Yet in other ways he makes things SO HARD. Like trying to get ahold of him for emergencies (impossible) or get an appt. with less than a month’s notice. Weighing the pros and cons is tough. EASY: He’s generous with free samples of meds (if he has them) which saves us money. HARD: He doesn’t discuss blood test results unless we specifically ask. We don’t know how many of the difficulties we’ve had are due to his office staff or him.
Maybe we’ll try to follow him to the new place (if we can find him), and see how it goes from there. I’d rather not find a new doctor but he’s going to retire eventually and we’ll need someone new then. Hubby doesn’t need to see him until 2014 so that gives Dr. J time to settle in to his new practice and get some of the bugs out. Let’s hope we don’t have anymore trouble getting the medicine we need. Instead of subscribing to “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” maybe I need my own apple orchard!  😉

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Wed. I had my appt. for the MRI for my back. Just as I’d predicted, I got a phone call on Tues. saying it had to be cancelled again! Just like the previous week, the woman on the phone told me that it hadn’t been pre-approved through our insurance yet. I didn’t get upset since I was half expecting this. I did ask her who I should talk to since it shouldn’t be taking this long. I told her I knew it was an expensive test and I could see how they’d try to cut costs if someone had had a lot of claims or tests done. I told her I hadn’t had any. She told me to wait while she looked it up again and then said it WAS approved and she was sorry that she had called in error. I was glad but I just have NO faith in Gottlieb Hospital. 😦 Makes me wonder if it had already been approved the week before and they’d missed it then too.

 
Everything went as smoothly as it could for the MRI. I got there at 9 am, filled out the paperwork and got called back into the Radiology unit. I was told to take everything but my underpants off and put on a robe. I put my glasses and watch in the locker with my purse and clothes. They hadn’t said anything about shoes so I wore my sandals and asked from the hallway if I needed to take them off. The technician said I could wear them for the test or take them off. That I could wear them over to the machine, which I did. I don’t care how clean the hospital floor is, I’m not going to walk barefoot on it. I took my sandals off and sat on the flat bed of the machine. This was my first MRI and I didn’t know what to expect. They basically tell you nothing except that you’ll hear banging and to just lay still no matter what. Then they put huge, heavy headphones like the kind from back in the day. If someone had to sit up wearing them, they’d get neck pain. I hate those type of headphones since they cover the entire ear and are tight and feel like you’re suffocating.
 
On the paperwork you fill out, they ask if you weigh over 400 lbs. They also ask if you’re claustrophobic. I’m not but when I feel crowded or cornered, I tend to feel panicked. I didn’t put yes and didn’t think I’d have a problem with the machine. I had NO idea that it was such a tight fit. I’m a little over halfway to 400 lbs. and when I was slid in, it felt like the solid top was only a few inches from my face. I could tell AS I was sliding in that it would freak me out if I had my eyes open.  So I closed my eyes and kept them closed the entire time!! My eyes were watering a majority of the time even though they were tightly closed. I wasn’t crying but it was more my body’s way to dealing with the anxiety. I’m big boned and even my arms felt pressed in against me. I tried to not think any thoughts that would make me panic. As soon as my mind started to go there, I made sure I changed my thoughts. It was starting to get really hot towards the end. It didn’t help that the tech had covered my feet and legs with a blanket. I must’ve been in there at least a half hour. The guy who took me out was white, the guy who had put me in was black. I was so unsettled, I couldn’t even make any idle chit chat. I think I’ve watched too many horror movies where the person is buried alive in a coffin! 😉
 
Late Friday I got a call from the nurse at Dr. Feelgood’s office. She said the doctor was referring me to an orthopedic specialist at Gottlieb Hospital. I asked if the scan showed if I have a bulging or ruptured disc in my back. She said no, that what I have is “mild to moderate degenerative disc disease.” Wonderful. 😦 I asked if I could go to one closer to home and she said yes but then I’d have to get a copy of the scan to give the doctor. Dr. Hennessy was in the same system and could access the scan from his computer. So I decided I would go to who my doc recommended. She gave me the phone numbers. He has an office in Elmhurst too which is even farther away.
 
This morning I called and made my appt. for an initial consult with the orthopedic specialist. She said he would look at the scans and check my range of motion when I came in. The soonest I could get in was 11 am on July 10th. This works out well since hubby’s next appt. is 10:45 am that same day! So he’ll go to his appt. while I go to mine. I’ll probably get in and out before he even gets in at our regular doctor’s. I asked if Dr. Hennessy was young or old. I just like to prepare myself. She said “He’s almost fifty!” like that’s ancient. So that made me feel better. Then I asked her one of the stupidest things but it is so “me”. I asked if he was nice. She said “He’s very nice.” Who’s going to say anything different if they want to keep their job?! Sometimes I even astound myself with my childlike naivete.
 
I can’t say I’m looking forward to this but I am curious as to what he’ll say I should and shouldn’t be doing. My regular doctor didn’t restrict anything but I’ve used my own common sense. I hope I never need another MRI. If I do, I’ll have to wear a Thundershirt like they put on dogs to keep them calm. Why hasn’t anyone invented that yet for humans? Someone needs to get right on that. 😉

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Yesterday was physically and mentally exhausting for me. I took my mom to the doctor for the first time in 4 years. When she finally agreed to go, I jumped at the chance. I made the appointment a month ago and this was the soonest I could get her in. She just turned 92 last week so I figured it was a good time to check in with the doctor and see what he suggested for 3 medical issues I was concerned about. BTW, when you turn 92, people don’t wish you a “Happy Birthday”, they say, “Congratulations!” I know a lot of people avoid going to the doctor because I’m one of them. I made an appointment for hubby and I for 2 weeks from now. My dad was the opposite and “loved” going to the doctor. He liked the attention and he liked talking to a professional. He wasn’t a hypochondriac or anything, he had genuine medical conditions that needed treatment. He just looked forward to going.

 We’ve been going to our Family Practice doctor, Dr. James, since mid-1996. We had moved here the year before and had pored over the big book of doctors the insurance co. had sent us to “pick a doctor”. We didn’t know one from another and just picked the most generic name and hoped for the best. In July 1996, hubby was remodeling our basement and cut his hand with a table saw. (That’s a whole future blog post so I won’t spoil the fun with details now.) He had to get Dr. James (who we’d never met) to refer him to a specialist in the network. At the time, Dr. James was working in our town like a mile away. The convenience was intoxicating. No, not really but I love saying that word. 😉 Dr. James was 41 yrs. old at the time (8 years older than me and 6 years older than hubby). He had his hair in a ponytail, wore glasses and just seemed like a cool guy. He loves to talk, like maybe no one else I’ve ever met on earth. No, really, *I* love to talk but he could just talk all day on any subject for hours with just one patient. That’s not a bad thing and it gives him a great rapport with everyone! I used to say to hubby that I’d love to socialize with Dr. J because he seems so fun. Hubby squashed that idea, saying it just wouldn’t be a good idea to socialize with our doctor. Left to my own devices, I might’ve invited him over to a party at our house.
 
A year or so after we met Dr. J, he moved to an office somewhere in Chicago. We went there once to see him and then the following year he ended up where he’s been ever since 1998 in a south suburb of Chicago. It takes a good half hour of driving from where we live due south to get to the hospital that he has his office in. Come to think of it, we tried a local doctor for 1 time back when he first moved down there since we thought it was too far to go. This local doctor was the opposite of Dr. J. He scared the hell out of me. He immediately lectured me on my weight, told me not to ever bake again or eat certain foods, it just went on and on. When he heard my father’s history with heart disease, he spun into overdrive telling me I would have to change everything in my life if I wanted to live. He told me he wanted to see me again in like 3 mos. I was shaking when I left there. I’m a worrier anyway and didn’t need to have a death sentence put on me. Hubby had been with me and we both agreed that he was not a good fit for us as a doctor. (One of the best things is that hubby and I often go along to the doctor together for moral support and just to be an advocate for the other.) We decided then and there we would follow Dr. J wherever he went and that he was worth the drive.
 
Dr. J isn’t perfect and having a doctor as laid back as him has had its faults. Like when he doesn’t call back when we call him with emergencies. Or he doesn’t get back to us with test results. Or that one time he prescribed the wrong medicine for my mom. I don’t know how much of that is him and how much of it is incompetent staff. He subscribes to the “First Do No Harm” school of medicine. He often doesn’t touch his patients with a 10 foot pole, or at all, if he can help it. That sounds odd when you think of it but I guess he does something better that not a lot of doctors don’t do: he listens. As much as he loves to talk, he does listen to all your symptoms and complaints. He never tells you when to come back, he lets you decide when you need to come back. He never tells me to get a mammogram, I tell him that I want an order for one and he gives it to me. He never tells me to get a pap smear, I just do it when I can get up the nerve. The only thing he’s ever been firm on with me was making me quit birth control pills when I was 40. He said they’re too dangerous after that age. He made a remark years ago “When in doubt, yank it out.” Of course, all that did was make me say to hubby “got me a rock-n-roll band, it’s a free-for-all!” That’s just what everyone wants, a doctor that channels Ted Nugent. 😉
 
Getting back to yesterday, I asked him about some treatment for Alzheimer’s / Dementia that Mom has been sliding into the past year. I knew from commercials on tv that the Exelon Patch was an option. He named Aricept and Namenda as other options. Then he told us that they don’t cure, only treat symptoms. He also said that in the past few weeks, it’s been brought to the medical field’s attention that none of them work. They work the same as a placebo. So any help from them would be negligible and he said the side effects are horrible. He read them off to us and I agreed. The side effects could make her sick or even kill her which obviously isn’t what we’re going for here. He said at this point to just keep her safe. She doesn’t wander outside or try to use the stove or oven. He said we shouldn’t expect her to be able to do everything she could 20 years ago. To just let her live her life and do whatever gives her pleasure. If she wants to watch tv all day (she doesn’t) or sit on the porch and watch the flowers, she should be able to. We got discussing food and I said how much hubby and Mom love ice cream and that I limit us to once a week. He said that was right for hubby but Mom could have ice cream every night if she wanted. Just to give her quality of life and keep her happy. He didn’t even do any blood tests on her. He said at her age, it doesn’t really matter. His mother is 90 and her doctor took her off her cholesterol medicine since at her age, it’s just not necessary. A lot of other doctors would run a ton of tests on her and put her on all kinds of medication. I kind of like his minimalist approach. Above all else, he seems to know the value of life and of letting people live their lives with dignity, being themselves and doing what they enjoy. He didn’t tell her she needed to come back either which made her happy.
 
He gave her some samples of Vesicare to try for incontinence. Also recommended Neosporin for the skin ulcers on her left leg. I  had to really keep after him to give her something for the itching. Finally he relented and gave her a script for some pills. They seem to help but make her sleepy. If she’s sleeping, she’s not picking her leg. I’ve lectured her so many times about leaving it alone but it’s either a habit now or it itches so badly that she can’t leave it alone. I’ve done everything short of handcuffing her hand or putting mittens on her so she can’t scratch. It has been so stressful for me for so long because it feels like she doesn’t listen to me. I will tell her to leave it alone and just seconds later, she’ll be at it again. I’ve tried wrapping it and taping it and as soon as I leave the room she’ll tear off the tape and bandage and scratch it. It looks really awful and is now infected. I’m afraid she’ll lose her leg. I’m staying on top of it so hopefully, if I can just get her to leave it alone, it should heal in a few weeks! Yesterday, I got her prescription filled at Jewel and got the Neosporin and she left it alone until this morning. I woke her and then checked on her a few minutes later and she’d already loosened the bandage and dug at it. That undoes all the good work of healing from the previous hours. 😦 It’s so frustrating. Tomorrow morning, I’m going to give her one of the anti-itching pills when I wake her up and hope it kicks in before she can do any damage.
 
We were the first appointment of the day at 10 am. I made sure we got there early at 9:50 am. The doctor was late which isn’t unusual. Mom once had an appt. late in the day and had to wait 3 hours since he was running late! He said he had 2 flat tires so with all the car troubles I’ve had, I could sympathize. We got called into the exam room at 10:45 and he spent close to an hour with us (which is what they booked her for when I made the appt.). When we got out of the room at 11:45 am, I had to go to the bathroom so bad since I had my period. I had the cramps from hell and there was a woman in the 2 stall bathroom on the telephone the whole time talking about magnolia trees. The other stall had a woman with 3 small kids. I was getting so overheated too (it was in the 80’s) and just generally felt sick. Got out of the bathroom at noon, drove back to our town to the pharmacy and it was 1 pm before we got home. I hadn’t walked the dogs yet and was going to before lunch but I was too exhausted. I did it later at 4:30 pm after I got my second wind. I was so tired and I had to make our lunch. I feel like I’m still recovering from yesterday. I’m just SO glad it’s over. 
 
 
 
 

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