Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Birthday times again (#61)


Well, it's baseball, and it's now my age, works? (I have never heard of this movie, it must be noted)

Y'all.  I will commence my 62nd year of age at approximately 2:20 this afternoon.

My Mom reminds me every year of my birth time, and sometimes the methodology of my arrival into the world of air and breathing.  Look up 'frank breech,' or as the nice Irish obstetrician said to Mom once she came out of the twilight anaesthetic, 'she was born ass-to!' All 9 pounds 10 ounces of me, 1 pound of which was poop, so you say that from the very beginning I was 'full of it.'

I'm very very fortunate to have made it this far.  So many times, had I not been born into a world of modern medicine, I should or could have died from one malady or another. 

Case in point, my paternal grandmother, who as a young child contracted diphtheria (this was in the early 1900s). It might just be my imagination, but I'd bet that pretty much the whole village was sick with it as this was in the days before antibiotics or most vaccines.  The treatment, as I recall it being described to me by her, was that the doctor came to their house, got the affected persons to open wide, and then through some torturous means stripped their throats of the coating/film of bacteria that trying to kill them through poisonous exudates.  I recall she said that what came out of her throat looked like 'a liverwurst skin.'  

You can understand then why I applaud the development of things used to combat the necessity of stripping liverwurst skins from the throats of young children. It seems nicer just to poke their chubby lil' arms or thighs with a needle once and have that worry taken care of.

More: As a kid I had part of my colon removed - thank God for that because life would have been potentially much shorter and more brutal than I've enjoyed.  Look up Hirschprung's disease if you want a notion of what went on there and how very lucky my folks were to have a pediatric nurse who paid attention in a seminar back in 1966.

Also more: As an adult I had pneumonia twice.  Don't recommend it.  Could easily have done me in if the z-pack hadn't been invented.  That was the second worst sick I've ever been.

Extra more: Had the breast cancer a few years ago.  That one was pretty bad, and it doesn't need mentioning how things would have most likely gone for me a hundred years ago or so.  Again, grateful for surgeon's hands, the poison that is chemotherapy, the breathtaking horror that is filgrastim, the painful em-effing drawn-out torturous miracle of radiation treatment, the follow-up I've received, the wonderment of all the means by which body parts can be scanned and examined, etc etc.  

Ultimate more: The COVID.  If I hadn't been twice-vaxxed by the time we got it in early 2021, I'm certain I would have been much sicker than I got.  Now, while I'm convinced I also had it back in late 2019 (right as COVID was making its way around the world and I was in the very early stage of chemo), it can't be proven that I did, but that 3 weeks after my first infusion was the worst sick I've ever been and no infusion thereafter made me even a tiny bit as poorly feeling as that first one did.  I did think I would have rather died at at least one point in that whole mess, therefore, why I believe I've had that nasty thing twice.

My intent of this post is not to make it a 'poor me' sad sack pity party, but instead celebrate the fact that here, at 61, I have the chance to thrive and be thankful for everything made available to me in the moments of these challenges.  One point: I have had good health insurance my whole life, which puts me in a special group of citizens.  I also recognize that I grew up in a different time and had perhaps more or better opportunities afforded to me in my professional life that makes it possible for me to be able to achieve positions in which that good insurance was made available and affordable.  That bit doesn't escape me.

But anyhow, here I am, closing out year 61 and headed into year 62 with  a shoulder that I somehow injured while sleeping, a bum toe throbbing with arthritis, spaghetti and meatballs and a family gathering to look forward to this evening, and the great good fortune to have many wonderful friends and family to share life with.

Grateful for every day, I am.  Challenges be damned.

Tiff out.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Memorial Day sits heavy (and it should)


Today is a day of reflection and remembrance of those who died while serving in the U.S. military, according to the Congressional Research Service. The holiday is observed in part by the National Moment of Remembrance, which encourages all Americans to pause at 3 p.m. for a moment of silence. 

A couple of things that might make it to that 3 p.m. moment of silence and reflection:

 In Flanders Fields with a powerful reminder of our responsibilities to never forget.

 The Poppy Wall, ephemeral and powerful.

There are many many other resources to engage with to understand the impact of this 'holiday' and why we should note it, perhaps not just in the United States but in every country that has lost in-service military to acts of war.  It's not just one country's story to tell, not one country's perished to mourn, not one country's potential and future that is diminished by murder in times of battle.

It's difficult for me to understand any festivity to fully replace our solemn obligation to recognize Memorial Day's meaning.  Sure, picnics are wonderful, playtime is totally underrated especially for those over about 9 years old, and togetherness creates stories and, well, memories.  I don't begrudge that, but do wish that the meaning of Memorial Day isn't lost in the slip-n-slides and beer pong and wafts of smoke from the grills of this fair land  UNTIL the real intent behind this day off is recognized and meaningfully given its moment.

Maybe at 3 p.m.

Tiff out.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

How to fit into shoes


I have reached an age that isn't quite retirement (dang it) but definitely qualifies for a smattering of 'senior citizen' discounts.While I have yet to take advantage of any of those discounts, because I don't go to the stores that offer them for someone my age I guess, I COULD save money on a cup of coffee at McDonald's if I wanted to.

Among the things that accompany the onset of aging is the realization that stuff just doesn't work in your body they way it used to.  Jump up out of a chair?  Nope, not now, not anymore, look for something to push up on. Tie that lush head of hair into an adorable messy bun?  Uh, no, as it gets crunchy and dry well before the bun-making length is achieved.  Live life free of medicines designed to keep you alive?  That's way in the past, darling, because the thyroid quit and the blood pressure started to rise, better get your pill-taking regimen established.

More particularly, FEET.

Sometime in the last couple of years my feet have been mounting an effort to expand well beyond what my shoes have been able to accommodate.  OK, my feet have always been a LITTLE bit swollen (like, since I was a young adult), and I think have a raging case of varicose veins (thanks Dad) have something to do with that, but lately this edematous state of being has become an issue, even beyond the feet.

My knees were in near-constant pain, as were the ankles.  One wrong move and I'd be hurtin' for certain. Living was starting to suck kind of badly, and I was beginning to worry about my future and the ability to move around.  Hobbling was becoming my mode of ambulation, and I was mad about it.

When Biff and I were at the beach a few weeks ago, and walking around quite a bit, you might have thought that the swelling would decrease by the end of the day, no?  All that movement and motion should have gotten stuff circulating, right?  Wrong.  By the end of the day when I took off my shoes, the tops of my feet looked like half-risen bread rolls, with an indent where the adjustable velcro strap cut across the instep.  Awful, and when accompanied by shooting pains in calf and thigh, made me very keenly aware that something needed to be fixed.

Cut to my doctor's office a couple of weeks later.  The PA is new-ish to me, and so naturally she is looking me over pretty carefully which of course I appreciate.  She gets to my feet and remarks 'Oh! You're very swollen here' and pushes a couple of divots into my shin with her thumbs to illustrate.  Yes, nicely pitting edema, thanks for the demonstration.  This normally indicates a kidney problem, but my eGFR is fantastic, thanks, so some other issue is keeping all this water in my system.  Whatever it is, she put me back on a diuretic (I'd been on HCTZ before but thought it might have been giving me the gout so we stopped it a couple of years ago).

OK, but it's not HCTZ this time.  It's LASIX, the big dog.  Furosemide, but the low dose.  Once daily.  Remember to stay hydrated. Go get 'em, tiger.

After just a week of dosing, I noticed a few things: my knees no longer hurt, my ankles no longer hurt, the bottoms of my feet no longer burned, my hips moved less stiffly when walking, and my feet fit into shoes.

Also, my ankles looked cute.  As in, I actually HAD ankles, not cankles, for the first time in a very very long time.  As in, those adjustable velcro straps on my 'regular' shoes aren't hanging on by a thread at the 'fattest' setting but instead wrap right over to the factory pre-set bend.  I can slip into my slippers (!) without having to tug.  I can get into sneakers that I gave up trying to get into 5 years ago.

I think the furosemide is working.

No matter that an hour after I take it I'd best be near a bathroom for a good bit (think about it), I feel better and my shoes fit.  That, to me, is plenty good enough.

Here's to better days ahead.

Tiff out.

Friday, April 14, 2023

Is it really about the meeting?


Like this, only in red.

 The venue was huge, Vegas huge.  There were giant fountains in lobbies, lush fake greenery around wagon-wheel light fixtures 10 feet wide, literal WALLS of color-shifting light that throbbed with whatever beat was bluetoothed to it, cavernous reception rooms, labyrinths of hallways, cacophonies of catering carts being pushed too fast by handsome young people who possessed a definitely practiced Jimmy Cagney flair.

And while it was certainly grand, it was also troublesome as I couldn't find the room I booked months ago.

I'd memorized the number and location and hardware assigned and the slides to be presented, but none of that was any good because it seemed like that particular brick-and-mortar location simply did not exist in this Gorgon of a meeting hall.  Walls moved, mirrors glinted with satisfaction of my confusion, bellhops ignored me, and the crowds of celebrating wedding guests from multiple receptions meant that getting to the concierge was impossible.

Madness, until I recognized someone from our team and tailed them to wherever they were going.  A brilliant idea.

Truly this person had a more intricate knowledge of the space than I (important to note that: I had never been there before but had studied the layout and specifics until I thought I knew what I was doing), as it took a snap to get to the room and then assemble the necessary presentations and seating to ensure a successful meeting.  

I was flustered, but ready. 

The team began arriving, animated and excited.  I couldn't tell why, as the scope of my work wasn't to be anything to make anyone act either of those ways.  But I couldn't get anyone to sit DOWN and therefore couldn't start the meeting as people were circulating around in small groups, chattering and tapping on tablets and showing one another so very many things.  Nobody spoke to me or listened to me; I, the leader, was invisible.

After a period of time I decided to simply move along, and began showing the initial presentation on the giant screen mounted in a corner of the hall.  Intro, agenda, topline messages, then chaos.  The screen detached from the wall and began to fall on the high-up muckety mucks on the dais, there was no help from tech to put it back on the wall and only the very most tenuous of connections that seemed to be structural, and yet, if I took a broom and pressed against the top to hold that part against hte wall, there could still be displays and presentations, only with me in the front of the room holding a broom while who-knows-who clicked through the slide decks.

Which, in the end, really didn't matter, because all the potential excitement and tablet-tapping of a few minutes before absolutely EXPLODED into general gasps and cheers as an announcement of some discovery of importance that directly affected OUR project was announced at some other venue that had been carefully tracked by everyone in the room (where I was supposed to make things happen, but that was all gone now in the thrill of the new thing).

It was obvious what needed to be done. I dropped the broom and walked out. 'Know when to say when,' my Dad used to tell me; it's a lesson to stitch on your pride.

So then I took a walk to a nearby park, forgot how to get back, my not-a-dog kept showing up, my husband was driving a four-in-hand to get people back to the venue because the bigwigs took the hired bus back to the venue and didn't tell any of the lesser mortals at the feste they were departing, once back at the meeting hall a small group of women were bidding on a dress  I'd brought with me for our 'formal night,' and yes this is all a part of the dreams I had this morning.

Also, it started to rain.

Tiff out.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

That one time, in the ER


Can recommend.

Last Thursday was a doozie, my friends.  I wound up in the ER due to intractable nausea and vomiting due to my yet-undiagnosed 'condition.'  Got myself in a bit of a pickle with dehydration, so got 500 mL of saline pumped through an IV (hopy crap it hurt getting that thing put in...twice), some Zofran to boot, while the docs analyzed the blood work, had me undergo a gall bladder ultrasound (because the bilirubin was weird) and COVID test, took some more blood, made the BP cuff go 'whirr' about once an hour, monitored the O2 saturation (99%, woo!) and generally made me hang out until it was nap time.

On entry, when I was so depleted and worn out, my BP was about 180/110.  By the time I was headed out the door with my new prescriptions and an un-nauseated stomach (post-nap) it was 124/72.

Guess I felt better.

It's now Tuesday, and I haven't puked since.  

Still don't know what's wrong with me, but it's not my gall bladder - she's looking great.


Also, I saw a vestibular disease and tinnitus specialist last week.  We did all the tests to provoke vertigo.  ALL OF THEM.


I am unprovokeable (is that even a word).

So, again, whatever is wrong with me, it's not my vestibular system.  It's doing just fine.


Naturally, one day after the spinny doc visit is when the really bad vertigo and puking began.  

I only got the LOML up to take me to the ER when I thought I might be puking blood.

Super stoic.


So tired of feeling crappy, but the new prescription for Valium might help.  Maybe. I'll try just about anything at this point.

Taking suggestions.

Tiff out.