Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Gorgeous Day

Today weather wise was gorgeous. I actually ventured out into my yard and cut some of my many dozen blooming daffodils for my daffodil vase. That heightened my spirits. I experienced several hours of frustrating phone calls today getting the place for my cat scan changed to where the x ray was taken, fighting with the company who still has not made ONE car payment for me, and fighting the medical group who billed ALL my visits incorrectly so that they were processed as out of network instead of in network. This would have left me owing thousands. I already owe plenty. So, I have my cat scan appointment for tomorrow afternoon. I am a bit nervous about it. When you have a history of cancer anything that suddenly appears is of concern. I am hoping I will hear quickly as I did when they read the x ray.
Today I had to go to the doctor's office and pick up my script for the scan. We actually went out and got a sandwich and walked around Target for half an hour. This is the first real exercise I have had in two weeks. I have been so weak that up until today I couldn't have done it. I am still coughing a lot, using inhalers (two different kinds) and wheezing but I do see some improvement.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I saw a word my doctor wrote on a form to the insurance company and my heart sank for a few minutes. My grandmother is becoming argumentative and difficult. My poor aunt deals with her daily while my mother is two hundred miles north. My mother says she has my father to care for and can't go. I think she can't deal with it. When I have been sick my mother has always distanced herself. I guess that's a protective mechanism she uses not to let things upset her. Wow if only I had that luxury!
She got mad at me when I pointed out that her mother had 96 years of excellent health. My mother has been very healthy too. I just want one day where I feel really good. I need to get back to work and back to getting my paychecks.
Hopefully I will have some good news in the next few days.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Same Old Same Old

I wish I had something good or exciting to write about. For most of the weekend I slept nearly round the clock. Sunday I was awake more and was actually able to enjoy a burger cooked outside on the grill...between episodes of rain. I am boring myself to tears here. If I were feeling better I would no doubt have cabin fever. I was able to sleep through the night last night once I finally got to sleep. I did some research on the internet yesterday that got me a little nervous. I am still waiting to get the approval from my health insurance company to get the cat scan and they will schedule it as soon as I have that. I will be relieved to know what they find. It is windy and cloudy again today. I am reading blogs and seeing such nice pictures of flowers blooming. Not sure if any of mine are because my flower bed is on the side of the house with no window. I have not gone outside of my house other than to get in the car and go to the doctor or hospital. Yesterday was the first day I didn't have a nosebleed so there was something to be happy about. If I have another one I am going to have to find an ENT and have that checked out. Wishing you all sunshine and spring flowers.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Beautiful Outside but I'm Still Sick

Yesterday I went back to the doctor. I didn't realize it but I was still running a fever from last week. I had stopped taking it even though I was waking up every night soaked and hacking up a lung. Saturday I had the worst asthma attack of my life and for a long minute I was afraid I might not survive it. It was that bad.
My lungs closed and I was gasping but could not take any air into my lungs. Finally I managed to inhale a tiny amount of air with the inhaler and it slowly began to open. My face was purple and no, I didn't see my life flash before me or a white light. I agonized over whether or not to go to the ER but I felt since the attack was over there wouldn't be anything else for them to do. On Wednesday as I coughed and hacked all day (despite cough syrup that has always worked in the past) I suddenly had a nosebleed. My almost white carpet in the guest room got sprayed and my shirt was covered. We got the doctor on the phone and she told me what to do and it stopped after a few minutes. On Thursday I went back to the doctor who could hear the respiratory distress I was in and also noted my oxygen intake was low. Hence my weakness. She prescribed a steroid inhaler for me and sent me for a chest x ray. I am so drained that it took a tremendous effort for me to walk down the ramp to the radiology department. Right after the x ray was over and I was ready to leave, I had yet another nosebleed. We picked up sandwiches and came home and the doctor called. She said I did not have pneumonia but they saw something else there "a nodule" and now I need a cat scan. What scares me is that it is on the left side. She was calling to get me approved for the cat scan. I also have oral steroids that if I am not better by tomorrow I am going to have to take. My chest feels as though a weight is on it.

My mother is still saying how overwhelmed she is by her mother's illness and does absolutely nothing. We have learned that my grandmother's cancer, at least for now, is confined to the breast. She still chooses to do nothing and at her age doctors feel that this is the best decision for her. My mother is pushing eighty and has had her mother all these years. Sometimes I think she just latches on to anything that she feels will get her sympathy. She knew I was going to get the x ray and never even called last night to see if I had heard anything. At times like this I certainly wish I had a nurturing mother.

My return to work will be delayed by a few weeks. I'm afraid that's going to be a ton of paperwork. The car loan company has still not paid one dollar though they have numerous doctor reports and all the information they requested.
Being sick sure is frustrating.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sunshine and a fresh day

Today the sun is shining, although it is cold. I have not been out of my house since I was at the doctor's last Tuesday. My doctor said I do not have the flu but trust me, she was wrong. So very wrong. I have coughed nearly all night long and much of the day in the past week. Red killer cough syrup couldn't hold it back. I wake up drenched in sweat each night. Since these were symptoms of my original chest tumor way back when, they provoke some anxiety in me. Then I have to have the conversation with myself that sometimes a cough is just a cough caused by chest congestion. My fever finally went away but I am not back to normal yet. Honestly, I am rarely normal but that's another story.

I was so happy to see that Ronni, a brave runner and journalist is once again blogging. She made it through her third bone marrow transplant. She is a remarkable woman and the weeks without her posts were rough. Missie, another blogger had knee surgery and was just hospitalized for blood clots in her lungs. So glad she is doing well in the hospital.
On another front, my grandmother's breast cancer has not spread as they originally thought it had. Since she has no estrogen in her body they think it will take a long time. She wants no treatment but I am not sure this is realistic. She is taking pain pills for back pain and her thoughts and moods are ever changing. I just don't want her to suffer.
Well, I need to jump in the shower and take a long luxuriating shower. I just wish it would warm up outside so I could go for a short walk.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Emotional Chaos

Yesterday I learned that my grandmother has advanced breast cancer. Although she had a mammogram and they explained to her that she had cancer, she chose to do nothing. She is 96 years old. While that may make perfect sense, I am having difficulty accepting that. Perhaps because my grandmother is the one person in the world who has loved me unconditionally. When she is gone, she takes that with her. Yes, I am selfish and I don't want to accept that it will all be coming to an end. I finally composed myself and tried to call her today. She was on pain meds and foggy but at the end of the call she basically said goodbye. I couldn't.

I am a private person for the most part. For the past month I have been home on disability my husband has been here out of work. There has not been more than half an hour of time when he is not here and I am. This is wearing thin. I really need some ME time. Especially now. Again, perhaps this sounds selfish but if I want to have a good cry without someone asking me questions I damn well deserve it. I am still sick, still coughing. My ribs ache and my throat hurts. I want some hard candy to suck on but that's not okay. Sugar free cough drops just don't cut it. Everywhere I go I see chocolate for Easter and that is making me cranky. My husband keeps buying and eating donuts. That makes me cranky. Why can't he go buy them and eat them out? Because when I see them I want them but I can't have them. I'm disappointed that he does that because he is normally supportive and caring.

I want to reverse the clock and wake up when my grandmother was not sick and when I could eat donuts and when I didn't feel so damn cranky.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ramblings of a Medicated Mind

I absolutely hate to take medicine. The fact that it serves a necessary evil does not comfort me. I am neurotic about adding any new medicines into the mix. My new doctor has had trouble understanding this until she saw the result of me nearly passing out. I have a strange reaction at times. I have hacked nonstop for many days and nights and I finally called today and spoke with her. No, she doesn't think I need a chest x ray it's just bronchitis but if I am still coughing next week she will do one. Newsflash; if I am still coughing by next week I will be one of those people who needs a rubber room after losing it from lack of sleep. She also prescribed some cough syrup with codeine. I simply cannot tell you how good it felt to taste sugar in the syrup. Nothing like that has touched my tongue in over six weeks. I am on a new antibiotic which makes me a little dizzy, then with the cough syrup I am in a mild haze. For the life of me I cannot understand why people would want to spend money to feel this way. By the way, I am making a disclaimer that if none of this makes sense I cannot be held responsible due to too many medications.
I have still not cooked my corned beef brisket and guess what today I think is Friday, it is two a.m. IF I cook the brisket and ate it I would be eating meat on a Lenten Friday. In years past, I was observant of this. My old priest explained to me that if you do another thing, such as visiting a sick person, you can eat meat. My mother-in-law gives up something for lent but has it in huge amounts on Sunday because she goes to mass and figures that is a trade off. Technically she is right. A few weeks ago I had a medical test and I was told I had to eat a very fatty meal to keep radio isotopes from being absorbed by my liver. She called here that night and was horrified that I ate a cheeseburger on a Lenten Friday. Now I have to tell you that if a doctor tells me I have to eat a fat laden meal and recommends a cheeseburger then I'm going to cave. If in the final judgement it comes down to that, I'm not worried. I have corrupted her son because I don't remind him. Well if lent is about suffering than I guess she is in the right spirit. As for my home, people (occupants and visitors) are allowed to have whatever they want.
Speaking of the leprechaun he did an Easter headliner for me. Then I found this great blog design. OK I am now worn out. I went this morning and got an echo done. It's always fun to see someone who hears my heart for the first time. I really liked this woman who let me gently cough and such on a sugar free cough drop. Oh the little things that count when you are sick. Happy weekend.

OOPS I forgot to mention something that if I were well I would have done an entry on. MARTIN BRODEUR (my hockey playing significant other.) He beat the record of most game wins by a goaltender and the following game set a new record. Knowing Marty it will be more and more cause like the Energizer Bunny he keeps it coming. Two Christmases ago my husband bought me a beautiful autographed picture of Martin, my Stanely cup sweetheart. He agreed that if Martin ever came to our door and said he had to have me, he would make that sacrifice. (I could tell he never thought this might really happen.) ha! Aside from being an incredible goalie he is just so boyishly cute. He will be 37 on May 6th. OH I love my NJ Devils and I hope sometime in the future I can once again afford to go to their games. Seats in nosebleed territory cost us. IF I ever win the lottery I would buy season tickets. We love ya Marty. 552 and counting......

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I am sick

Since Monday I have been sick. A fever, freezing one minute and roasting the other. Hacking up what sounds like lungs. My chest hurts. Went to the doctor yesterday and she gave me a script for an antibiotic. Wasn't sure how I felt about her not taking a chest xray or doing blood work. Does she not know I am delicate? I am just reading my emails from Monday. My corned beef brisket is sitting in the fridge waiting to be made. Don't think it will be today either. Neighbors came over to bring us a card but I was asleep and not functioning too well. My bed calls and I hope to be back in good shape soon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Rough Night and a Valve in Overdrive

Yesterday I had a really good day. I have had a bug for a couple days and my head hasn't felt right and my tummy hasn't been right but yesterday I was excited to go back to the nutritionist and have her review my records of what I've been eating and my glucose numbers. She was thrilled and when she weighed me I was down six pounds since my last visit. Since being diagnosed with diabetes about seven weeks ago I am down ten pounds. My numbers are pretty good, I am working hard to keep my carbs to under ten servings a day and to only eat any carbs with protein. I do find I am eating more cheese than I want to be, but it's all low fat. Last night we did (okay hubby did the work) about half a dozen chicken breasts on the grill. That means I can have one on salad or as the main part of a meal when I want it. He had prepared a lot of Italiian sausages but I learned yesterday they are so high in fat and calories and a bad choice so I am going to let him finish them while I have the chicken instead. Getting back to yesterday, when I left the nutritionist I decided to celebrate with a tiny burger from Wendy's and a huge diet soda. I was very thirsty. Later I realized that it had caffeine in it. Big mistake as I had already had one cup of coffee and one cup of tea that morning and I was way over my limit. I went to bed about ten thirty and that's when my heart went into overdrive. What a miserable feeling. It was beating so fast and there was no way I could sleep. I dozed off for maybe fifteen minutes but that was it....until after four thirty. I was so mad at myself for being so careless. I slept from about four thirty until eight when the pets wanted to get up. I got up and fed them. I dozed a few times while watching tv. My eyes are so tired I cannot even read today.

My heart is so sensitive to caffeine that once this begins nothing can stop it. I drank at least a quart of water during the night, took a mild tranquilizer, tried to meditate but was distracted with thoughts of Edgar Allen Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart. Since I have the artificial valve, I not only feel it, I also hear it. There was a time I never thought I would get used to it. I am used to it most of the time because there is noise but at night when it's very quiet I really notice it. I am going to put a picture of it here. It's kind of like a silver dollar, but smaller, and it has these louver door like appearance. Now my skin covers it they tell me. I was amazed there were three tiny holes in it where the stitches went. As long asit keeps on ticking I am happy to have it. It's carbon graphite.the lastest technology and I have it. :)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

An Hour Ahead

I woke up today feeling it was early to get up but then I realized it was an hour later than I thought it was.....at least technically. I changed the clocks (the computer and cable box changed themselves). Yesterday was so beautiful. We opened the garage and let the warm air come in. I got some things put away in there and was basking in the heat on the patio when our mail was delivered. It seems we didn't have enough taken out of our checks last year and now we owe some money. Didn't count on that. At first I was really upset because I am still waiting for my first disability check. By the time it arrives I will be returning to work. That is only part of your salary. I have been going to doctors and having tests and regulary writing out $20 and $40 copay checks. When I purchased my car I paid extra for insurance to cover the payments should I be out on disability. I knew if that happened I would not be able to swing those payments. The woman who did the financial paperwork told me all I had to do was call her. She is no longer working there but the procedure for this leaves a lot to be desired. I spent nearly $800.00 at the time for the coverage which also pays off the loan if I die. I made the call and learned I would be faxed over papers which both my employer and doctor would need to fill out. Those papers could only be submitted after the 2nd of each month (couldn't get an adequate explanation for that) AND I would be responsible for making all the payments. At some point when they determined I was eligible, they would submit the money directly to my company holding the loan. So, the safety net I thought I had has been anything but. I have had to make two payments and once they have the money from the car loan company I will have a credit on my account. Had I understood this when I took the loan I would not have bothered. It makes me angry to be given incorrect information and to have to have a credit up the road when I need that now.

I have decided that I must use all my energies towards feeling better, which slowly I am doing. I will have to pay the taxes in payments since I cannot send the entire amount now. I cannot worry about it because I cannot change it. I am hoping to get back to work in about three weeks feeling so much better. There is new management now and a lot of changes going on. I liked the old management who always was concerned about the worker bees. I understand the need for change. I will try my best to make the necessary changes.

I am going to take a long hot shower and go to the store and return the jeans that were purchased over the internet. Hopefully I will get the full refund because I cannot find the receipt. They have been here since Christmas.
I am usually very organized. The past few months, especially December, I felt out of it. I was dizzy and greatly fatigued but didn't know why. Now I am getting all that sorted out and adjusted to a new diet and new meds. I am doing better and by Easter I am hoping to be the person I was before.......or better.
Speaking of Easter I have a new header for that but will wait until St. Patty's Day is over. I have my corned beef waiting to be cooked and I just love that day.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Did Ya Ever Have "One of those Days?"

Yesterday was mentally exhausting. It all began with the cat waking me up at 6 a.m. I woke up feeling a mild sore throat and exhaustion. I took a shower and got dressed thinking it would be a good day to go and get my license renewed. Got all my documents together and got there. They had moved. Okay...back in the car and about five minutes later we arrived at the right place where they rushed me through. I had anticipated getting my picture taken so had done my hair and put on makeup but they decided to use the old one since I hadn't changed in 4 years. Not going to argue with that, even if my hair is about six inches longer in that picture. I was wearing a green turtleneck sweater in the old picture and one that day and I could tell the woman noticed that and was no doubt thinking "Could that be the same turtleneck?" For the record it was not. We then headed to the grocery store and picked up a few things we were out of and came home. About that time my birthday girl friend Laura called. I had told her to call me if she was available for lunch. She told me her son had given her money to go to Atlantic City and given her money for me to go with her. Folks, I have to tell you I am not a big fan of "AC". I never truly feel I have enough money to gamble and I would rather give it to charity if I did have it. She knows this but it was her birthday and she wanted to go. 'We live about forty miles apart and she is near the Parkway which is the way you go. She suggested I drive and meet her by the service station near the Driscoll Bridge. While I know this is me going North and then having to go south to get there, I agree wanting things to be easier for her. I through myself in the car and stuff a credit card (to buy her dinner) in my jeans pocket and off I go. I stop at the bank to make a deposit on the way. I go to where I think she means but there is NO service area. I am stuck going over the bridge and now have to go miles to find a place I can turn around. I try to call her cell but it goes right into voicemail. I call home and find she has called Rob and told him she got a new cell and hadn't put my number into it. I get off when I can and head south on the parkway. Now she calls me and I am talking to her when I suddenly realize I was in the far right lane and am stuck on the ramp to the Turnpike. Oh no. Once on the turnpike you go forever before you can turn around. I am talking to Rob who has Laura on the other line. I keep explaining there was no rest area and then she decides that where I entered the parkway was above the rest area. By now I am so far away I tell Rob I will just head home and if she wants to come to the house she can. She begins to come here but then she gets lost. Now I am in tears feeling I have ruined her birthday. The fact that I have a GPS should mean I don't get lost but let me tell you, when you are driving on the parkway people in NJ tailgate. They are driving 65 or faster and it's four lanes like that. Finally when Laura calls again I know just where she is and tell her to stay put. Rob drives me there and I jump in her car and now we are on our way to AC. She is laughing, grateful I am going with her and tells me not to worry about the delay. We stop at a rest area and decide to grab a burger and drink. The rest area is close to AC and has the audacity to charge nearly ten dollars for a whopper junior meal. Can they be serious? Yes and it was the worst service ever with us waiting ten minutes for them to make them. About that time I notice my AMEX is no longer in my pocket. I rush back into the bathroom and it's not there OR in Laura's car. I call Rob and tell him to report it lost after he checks our car to make sure it wasn't lost there. Poor Rob even when I am out of the house he is having to assist me. We arrive in AC and we find a good parking spot. We went to Bally's and parking which was free is now $5. We go upstairs and Laura doesn't have her card so she gets another one and I decide I will get one. This is to build up points and get comps. We head down to the floor and she hands me 5 twenties. I have never had that much money in a casino. I spot a machine that says Dublin Diamond and I think oh yes luck of the Irish. More like the potato famine. It took awhile but I lost that twenty. My friend wanders over to the $1 game machines and wins a few hundred dollars. I am happy and so is she. She takes her winnings and plays the same machine again and wins another couple hundred. YES! I am having vicarious pleasure cause my twenties are being sucked in with nothing coming back. She suggests we go check out the nickel machines. The money goes much faster there because you play x lines and so many per line. This is how it has always been for me. No winnings and no luck. She wins yet again. We have now been there three hours and it's after eleven. She asks me if I want to eat. I am not hungry but I am thirsty so we find a place selling sodas. Nearly three dollars for a diet Pepsi. She decides to call it a night and cashes out. I was so happy for her. She left with several hundred and got her parking comped. I left with what I came with MY $20.
For the life of me, I will never understand the thrill of gambling. Perhaps if my luck were to change and I won, I would feel differently.
So while I ran up lots of tolls yesterday, used a lot of gas (and discovered my engine light was now on) lost my AM EX and had rotten luck on the slots, my luck was good in that I was able to spend a birthday evening with a friend. She smiled and laughed and seemed to have a good time. That was my prize. We made memories and those are priceless and last forever.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Happy Birthday Laura and Stacey

Happy Birthday, Laura! (an old and dear friend)

Happy Birthday, Stacey! (a wonderful neighbor and friend)

Today is the birthday of two people that I know. I wish them both a wonderful day.
I am going to run to the DMV and get my driver's license redone today. In NJ we are required to have unbelievable amounts of ID to do this. I am required to go in person and take copies of birth certificates, marriage certificates, bills, tax statements or social security cards. I have it all here ready to go. Don't know how long this will take.
I got my results of my nuclear stress test on Tuesday at a visit with my cardiologist. NO blockages. ::::::::happy dance::::::: For someone with my medical issues this is somewhat surprising to doctors. I am so happy I will not have to go through another cardiac catherization as I had six years ago. I heard last night that Barbara Bush just had an aortic valve replacement. She is fortunate at her age to get a tissue valve. I was not old enough to get one, since I was under 50 I had to get a mechanical valve. This requires anti coagulation meds which frankly are a nuisance. I have to get my INR tested once a month. IF that number goes too high many things can happen, including a brain hemorrhage. Last month my number was great but this month it was way too high. This was probably a result of me introducing a new medication for the diabetes into my body. Now my dose will be changed once again and I will have to retest in about a week. Not a big deal but I will never get used to blood tests. I still hate needles of any kind.
We still have snow on the ground here. It was bitter cold two days ago and yesterday the temperature rose ten degrees. Today it is expected to rise another ten degrees. That makes me smile. It has been sunny and I try to soak that in. Overall I am feeling better. Thank God for that. If the last blood pressure medicine I tried continues to keep my pressure where it currently is, I am hoping that I have found the combination that will work for me. They have found I need two meds to really control it. Well, time for breakfast and off to a productive day hopefully.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Noreaster Hits NJ

I'm sure many of you have felt this storm. We got ten to twelve inches of snow in my area which started about 11 p.m. last night. Not as thick as some snow I have seen but the winds were pretty strong. Thankfully, neither of us had to get out this morning. I did have an appointment but the office called to cancel and advised me to reschedule tomorrow. Since I was hoping to hear the results of the test I had on Friday I was a bit disappointed but no one should have had to drive today. They said NJ state police reported 350 accidents by noon with one fatality. Our neighbors came over about lunch time to start shoveling our driveway for us. Rob had done the sidewalks and patio but was taking a break. I simply cannot say how helpful our neighbors are when you need them. We all watch out for each other. I have never lived in a neighborhood where people were like this and I find it interesting that people here have much less financially than previous areas I have lived.

I finished reading the final book by the author I wrote about, Laurel Lee. She had been diagnosed with Hodgkins disease the year before I had. I had tried to follow her life back then but it was difficult......no Internet. I now know much of what I missed and what her final months were like. It frightens me a bit to think that so many secondary cancers can occur but like her I feel that when you survive cancer and are gifted the time to see your child become a self sufficient adult, you have to see the time you had and not what you will miss. Her children were such beautiful people and had her spirit of helping others.

I have a few more books sitting here to be read and I think I might begin another today. My chef is preparing one of his wonderful pot roasts for dinner.
Might as well take advantage of the oven being on for hours. He pan sears the meat with a searing flower and it makes it so tender. Hope all of you are dry and warm and finding something good in your day.