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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Feelin' Alright (uh huh)

Taking a cue from Geo., and being determined to get over this funk I've been in with the avalanche of bad that was 2016, I'm looking for the sunny side. So I'm actively making myself happy. Which means that I've carefully sliced and caramelized an onion and deglazed the pan with red wine. This produces an aroma that soothes me. It's why I always wanted to work the saute station.

Beest was at the vet today to get the bubble on her head taken off. But behold, she has hyperthyroidism. So no anaesthesia til that's under control because her heart rate is too high. To get that fixed she goes on an expensive new diet, though it's cheaper thru him than via Amazon. With the diet she won't need meds.
He clipped her nails (she bit him), he cleaned her ears (she bit him), he gave her an antibiotic shot (they had her wrassled by then). Good thing he's used to being bit, too.
In 45 days we'll see if the thyroid is normal, then deal with the bubble on her head. It isn't too awful. He said she may become a sweet cat once the thyroid is controlled. I'll believe that when I see it.

I left Fecebook. Maybe forever. We'll see. I'm already happier without it.

Other good things;
I must, somehow, have these

I love this!

And thanks, Obama, really. Thank you. A small bit of justice keeps hope alive. Maybe the trend of rewarding liars and punishing truthtellers is ending.

It's a picturesque Vermont Winter. Dark trees against the white ground and a sky the color of old linen trousers. Beest sleeps on my bed.  All is well.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Dig It Up and Bury It

I gotta get something off my chest and hopefully soon afterward I can get back to the funny.

In 1989 I went to my first arthritis specialist. He told me to stop running and recommended drugs. My GP prescribed Meclomen, and for a few years I carried on as usual except for not running. But I began piling on weight, and was yo-yo dieting. Then Ian left NYC and I didn't have insurance anymore. When I moved to Vermont in '95 I literally couldn't afford to eat, so I slimmed down, and between the physical labor I did and slimming down, I was ok for a few more years.

In 2004 I was told I'd need a Total Hip Replacement. But, the surgeon said, nobody would do it til I was around 60 years old because of the need to replace the replacement every 12-15 years. No insurance company, even Medicaid, would ok it, she said.  I was then 45. After several-too-many cortisone shots in that hip, she said there was nothing more she could do for me. I then went to 3 other surgeons, 2 local and 1 an hour and a half away, in the next 2 years. The one that was hardest to get to was the only one who showed an interest. Not having a car and nobody to depend on for transit, that idea fell through. So no THR. He has since moved away.

In 2007 I could no longer work, and quit.  Thus began my disability. By the end of that year I could get around on a walker, but doing housework, shopping, laundry... that was all very difficult. The pain was still new then, and frightening. My doc gave me opioids- oxycodone and Fentanyl- and Cymbalta for the nerve pain. Now I was a zombie as well as a gimp. That went on for 4 years. I quit the Cymbalta first, and a few months later went cold turkey off the opioids. It's nearly 6 years since I quit prescription painkillers. I've gotten used to pain, and just deal with it now. I'd rather have the pain and keep my brain. Or what's left of it.

But conditions untreated tend to grow worse, and now I'm in a wheelchair most of the time. I've put on a lot of weight due to inactivity over the last 12 years, which doesn't help at all.

I can't help but recognize that had I gotten that THR 10 years ago I'd still be working. I'd also be a union member, as that place unionized 5 years after I left. And I'd worked so hard organizing for the last 2 years I was working there. It's the salt in the wound, really.

As whatever it is that I have keeps adding new features, I have to keep reinventing myself. Until some doc recognizes what's up with me and knows what to do, I can expect nothing getting better. So when I see my GP (last appointment was cancelled due to a head cold) I'll ask for a referral to Dr. Ditri, mega-brain over at Dartmouth's annex in Keene, NH. He's a physiatrist (a fairly new field that looks at the whole body's systems), and diagnosed me once in 2006. Maybe he'll know what the hell is happening to me now.

So, that's what's been eating at me for the last year or so. What is, what could have been if insurance companies didn't control our healthcare, and what may be.

Now I hope I can lighten up.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Clusterdoc in 2017

It's now officially ridiculous.

Healthcare in the US seems to be what I hear Brits say they fear. Months to get an appointment, denial of healthcare, stressful, demeaning and fairly insane.

Last July, my GP recommended I see a dermo to look at the mole on my nose, recently inherited from my mother. First it had to be a dr that accepts Medicare- not as easy at it sounds. Then the moving threats, deaths, real move, and holidays happened. I was finally scheduled to see this Dr. Rebecca Jones today, 6 months later. In the meanwhile, mysterious blisters had been breaking out on my hand and arm (the right, with the thumb that's now on strike) which I thought she ought to see. I told them I need accessibility, they assured me they were accessible, they have a ramp. So I went thru the maze of getting funding for help to get there, Gal Friday rearranged her schedule, and all was set.

Today I got up after little sleep, showered, got ready, planned how to get out of here and back via wheelchair (and walker if the path was too steep), etc. A lot of aforethought has to happen when you're on wheels. Gal Friday helps me out to her car, we drive downtown, park in the patient parking, transfer, push and pull over the ice humps, down the broken sidewalk to the far side of the office entrance. There, the ramp starts in mud. It's a rickety wooden-slat ramp, with one handrail on the building side and nothing on the open-drop-to-the-sidewalk side. Up we go, to a small wooden platform, too small to turn any wheelchair around on. The wide door opens out. And there's a cement block, around which is a 2" gap between it and where the wooden platform surrounds it. Just wide enough to swallow any wheel. But that's nothing compared to when we got the door open and saw a step up. Yes, a step. About 6" high, with no handgrips, no way to turn a wheelchair to even face it, and obviously not accessible by any stretch of any imagination.

Gal Friday went in and told them we couldn't get in. An office flunkie came out to the door, chewing gum open-mouthed, stood there a minute, didn't apologize when I told her I was told it was accessible, shrugged her shoulders, said the snowplow had hit the ramp, and we left, backing carefully backwards down the ramp. I got a sliver in my arm from the one handrail. We came home. No dermo was seen today.

About 3 hours later I was in the bathroom when the phone rang. I came to the desk to play the message. It was Dr. Jones' office, saying they understood I "had a problem with the ramp". If I wanted, I could make an appointment with her at her Whately, Massachusetts office- some hour's drive away- where "there is no ramp". Wow. Just wow.

So if you ever hear bullshit about what great quality healthcare we have in the US, remember this story. We have for-profit healthcare, and it sucks.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Get Out, 2016!

This year has been awful. All the deaths, both friends and famous, feel like continuous piling on. There's no time to ease from one death before another comes, forming one huge pressing weight. Then the stressful every-two-weeks threats of moving, and finally the move to this place, which is a blessing and a curse. The constant changes in Billy's deteriorating health, and my own increasing inabilities. Beest's ups and downs, and now her surgery coming on the 19th. So much loss, grief and heartache in my circle.
And Trump. That pile of festering excrement.
The entire world is in turmoil.
There aren't words. Well, there are, but I don't want to go into it.

With all that, I find that I can't face 2017 with much hope. In fact, for the first time, I dread the new year. What the past few years have shown me is that not only can things get worse, they rather surely will. Everything is precarious.

But in the midst of uncertainty about Herr Drumpf and the new Congress, I find hope in that they're all so hateful and shifty they won't be able to work together to really change anything for the worse. I wish them on themselves, as Herman used to say.

As for the rest, que sera, sera. I'm certain surgeries to remove the masses on my arm will be coming. Perhaps that'll relieve issues and I'll get the use of my right thumb back. Beest's surgery will, with any luck, end the cycle of the bubble on her head and she'll be back to her normal Tortie self. It's time to trust doctors, something I unlearned a while back. But there's no choice now. Even if I decide to not go thru the colon cancer screening again, the masses on my arm must be addressed. Not having a functioning thumb is annoying and scary. And it's not easy going, alone.

So, with apologies for being a dreary Debbie Downer, I say to this year goodbye and good riddance. If nothing else, there is reassurance that those we've lost can't be lost twice. For good or ill, we're still here, and as for me, I'll take Gandalf's advice:
 "I wish it need not have happened in my time,' said Frodo.
'So do I,' said Gandalf, 'and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

I wish us all a happy, healthy, brave new year.

And may I add this very rude salute to the year:

Monday, December 12, 2016


5 days later, we have details. Greg had pancreatic cancer. He's been fighting it for over 2 years, then decided no more chemo last Winter. He finished his autobio and made a film with Bob Harris, the longtime BBC rock journalist. They look like being released in September, 2017.

As I've said, we knew he was ill, but not how ill. The knowledge that he was ill all along since 2014 puts a different light on everything he's said and done since then. I'm glad he's out of pain.

Here is a still from the film shoot with Bob Harris. Rights are Bob Harris'.

Yes, that's Greg mugging on the right.

Here's one of the last photos we'd seen of him, in 2013.

This is a tough death.
Enough, now.
On to the holidays, as he'd wish us all to do. After all, he loved Christmas.