Tuesday, September 17, 2019

I Have A Story To Tell Part I

I have a story to tell.  I don't know where to start.  Normally it would probably be best to start at the beginning.  But the beginning to this story was sly and cunning.  She came dressed in familiar garb with only the slightest of costume changes.   
"Look over here," she whispered trying to get my attention brushing my shoulder with a gentle but firm touch.
Of course now, when I reflect back, back to the beginning, I realize she was not subtle or gentle or quiet. 
I know now that she had been grabbing me by the shoulders trying to shake me to an awareness that I did not want to see.
On Friday, September 13th, 2019 my beloved Ross was diagnosed with Alzheimers.
This space here, "Lynda Grace An Hour Away", has been my safe space.  It's where I come to tell my truth. 
I asked Ross if he would be okay with me telling our story on LGAHA.  He was kind enough to say yes.   
Ross not only always encourages my writing, he is my biggest fan and cheerleader.  "Do you know how good your writing is?"  he continually asks.   
He is the one I show my posts to before anyone else sees them.  I  intently watch his face as he thoughtfully reads each and every word.   He never disappoints.  "It's good, really good." he says.
That always makes me smile and makes me want to continue to write.
I'm not sure what paths our story will take. 
My hope is that you, my dear readers will be kind enough to thoughtfully read each and every word, and encourage me along the way.  My hope is that our story will help others who are struggling with their own stories.  My hope is that our story will inspire and confirm the spirt of what is our common human story.
Today I want you to know that Ross and I are able to continue to enjoy our life together. 
The next time, on the next post, I will reflect back to what I now know was the beginning and begin to tell our story from the beginning.

If you would prefer to reach out to me, by e-mail you can do so here "lynsgems0701@comcast.net"

Thank you, friends.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Move This Here and Put That There And Cozy Afghans Too

This weekend we had a tease of cooler weather.   I am happy to be living in a locale where there are definite season changes.   It's perfect for someone like me.  I tend to get get fidgety when things stay the same for too long.  I suppose it's the reason I frequently re-arrange my furniture.

I reflectively and mindfully understand that re-arranging things is a way for me to have control over something, while at the same time distracting myself from worrying about things that I have no control over.

An important factor that usually preempts a re-arranging episode is the acquisition of a new piece of something that I have to find a place for.    In a way, I suppose the acquiring of things is another example of a benign way to rearrange my "life".

I would describe the moods of acquisition and re-arranging to be obsessive and compulsive, respectively.

Ross will testify, in awe, of the many times he has left the house, only to come back to find a huge armoire moved from one room to another or the bedroom flipped all around.

The most recent rearrangement happened yesterday at 6:00 a.m.

There was a course of events precipitating this one, which I will attempt to describe.  It may seem rambling and have no context, but at the end it will all make sense.

I am an enthusiastically compulsive knitter and crocheter.  In conjunction with my hobby, I have joyfully acquired and accumulated massive quantities of gorgeous yarn.  In knititng/crochet lingo these yarn quantities are referred to as stash.

Most crafty people are constantly either oohing and ahhing over their stash or they are having extreme feelings of guilt.  It's a back and forth kind of experience.

For the past month or so I have been in the guilt stage of my stash.

I thought the best way to accomplish an effective de-stash was to knit and crochet blankets or afghans.   Blankets and afghans use up a lot of yarn.

So in two months I completed one afghan and am halfway through another.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that over many years I have knit or crocheted over 50 blankets and afghans.  Most of those have been given away as gifts.

I also have quite a collection myself.  Some are slung over the backs of sofas and chairs. Others are folded at the foot of beds.

I have come to understand that these creations, which have become a welcome part of our home,  provide comfort and warmth for not only us, but for many of our guests.
They are within easy reach and are often the first object the kids grab when they settle in to spend the weekend.

They trigger memories of my mom's last days when she stayed with us.  She loved our bright sunroom and would often nap on the sofa, covered up with an afghan that she herself had crotched.  That afghan, now lovingly draped over "her" sunroom sofa is a bitter sweet reminder of my mom.

As I worked on my recent afghan project,  I stopped now and then to admire the design of the stitch and the color choices I made.

When I looked at the individual blankets here and there around the room, I began to see them not only as comfort pieces, but as works of art.   It was then that I decided they should be displayed that way.  At that moment,  the compulsion to find a blanket rack kicked into high gear.

I began the search with our local second hand shop.  It was my lucky day because I immediately found a rack in very good condition.  I think I paid five or ten bucks for it.

But, I could only fit three blankets on it and I definitely have more than three.   It took me a couple of days to find another one.  Which I did at Goodwill.

Now I had two blanket racks displaying three blankets on each one.  But I had no place for them.
They needed a special place.

On a sleepless Monday, at 3:00 a.m. I began planning my furniture re-arrangement.  By the time I got up out of bed at 5:30, I knew exactly what was going to be moved and where it was going to be moved.



When I am in my re-arrangement mania, the adrenaline is pumping.   I can lift, haul, carry and push if necessary, heavy and awkward pieces of anything. By the time Ross got up that morning, I had moved around and or swapped two chairs, a lavender wicker desk with matching chair, a table, a foot stool and a storage chest.   I'm not quite sure I like the wicker desk in that spot.  I think it needs a piece of art on the wall above the desk.
I do like the blanket racks and the way they show off my creations.



I am content...for now.


 Are you a "re-arranger" or are you one who "likes things just the way they are?


Sunday, August 25, 2019

The What and The Why of It All

It's here I come when I am troubled. 

I often find that when I sit in front of my computer to write a post, I start with two intentional W's.
The "What" I am going to write about and the "Why" I am writing about the "What".

The What is normally straightforward.  It's usually an easy task to simply lay out the facts.
 
The Why, though, the Why takes more thought.   The "Why" may require more delicate handling.  I may have to prick my finger on a thorn or two before I am able to express the pain of the wound and ultimately be able to show you the beauty of the rose.

But today, the What and the Why seem to have switched roles.

Today the "feels" of the Why are eager to escape. They are wild, but hardly carefree. 

Today, the What cowers, hiding, in the depths of the thicket.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

There Is A Code For That... Or Is There?

A week ago Ross experienced  an unusual medical episode.  It happened mid afternoon on a Friday.
We weren't sure if was an anomaly or something that may reoccur.  I suggested we call Ross' primary care physician.

The call was picked up by the answering machine with the following information and instructions:
      "The Doctor's office is closed right now.  If this is an emergency please call 911."

I suggested Ross call one of the specialists he sees.   That office did pick up the phone.  We explained what Ross had experienced.   The receptionist determined that since Ross wasn't having difficulty with that doctor's particular proficiency, we should call his primary care physician.
We told the receptionist that the primary care physician was not in the office.  She suggested that if we felt we couldn't wait until Monday, we should go to the hospital emergency room.

We tried another one of  Ross' speciality doctors and we were told the same thing.

Our health insurance has a service called "Nurseline".   The nurse would be able to give advice about who you should call if you are unsure about which type of physician you should contact based on the symptoms you are having.
We told our "story" to the first "nurse".  She listened to the whole thing and then explained that she wasn't a nurse.  "I only handle insurance claims," she said.   I can transfer you to the Nurseline.
A pleasant woman answered the phone.  I asked if she was a nurse.  She said yes.
I told our "story".  She said, "Would you like me to set up in-home nurse care?"
I was confused because what we were describing would not have required in-home nursing care.   I told her that we thought we were talking to someone who could direct us to the type of physician we should be contacting.   She said, "Oh you want the Nurseline."  I'll transfer you.

We finally did speak to the nurse from the "Nurseline".  She told us to contact our primary care physician.

And around and around we go.

I called our Primary Care doctor first thing on Monday morning.   I asked if Ross could come in that day to see the doctor.  The receptionist asked why he wanted to be seen.   I admit I was being a little vague, on purpose.  I thought Ross would feel more comfortable speaking confidentially with the doctor.
"He's just not feeling right," I said.   She pressed for more details.  I finally told her that it was a follow up visit to a recent emergency room visit.  Which it kind of was.
She told us that the earliest Ross could be seen was Friday.
"If you feel he needs to be seen before then, I suggest you go to the emergency room."

I suspect the receptionist was pressing for us to state a more specific reason that Ross wanted to be seen was so that she could find the proper code to check off on the insurance forms.

Of course if we thought what Ross experienced was an emergency, we would have sought immediate care.

I remember, not that long ago, if the doctor was not available in the office, the patient would be able to leave their phone number and the doctor would return the call.

I also remember, maybe a little longer ago, when the doctor would agree to meet you in the office, during off hours.

I understand and appreciate the fact that there have been incredible advances in the science of medicine.

What I don't understand and do not appreciate is the fact health care seems to be driven by whether or not you are in or out of "network", whether or not your insurance is accepted and whether or not "there is a code for that".

By the way we did see the doctor on Friday.  He is a good doctor.  We like him.  He was reassuring and we felt much better after he spent time with us.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

On A Hot Sunday Afternoon in July

On A Hot Sunday Afternoon in July

As you can see Weatherbug is reporting the type of weather that keeps us indoors.  Anyway, Ross is feeling a little under  the weather, so it's just as well.

We are watching a series we have discovered called "A Placed To Call Home".

We're finding it interesting enough.  I believe there are six seasons.  So we are spoon feeding them, a few episodes at a clip.

I have started a new type of crochet craft.  I used to enjoy doing this many years ago.   It has since gone out of style.
No one uses doilies any more, do they?

A few days ago as I was attempting to de-clutter my clothes closet, which also doubles as my craft closet, I came across a group of  vintage crochet instruction pamphlets.  I had stashed them away in a dark green Rubbermaid tub with an impossibly difficult-to-open top.   Which is why I rarely go into that tub.
The intricate designs of the lacy doilies and table clothes piqued my interest.   I saw them in a new light, as pieces of art, really.

I am the type of person who can easily get obsessive.  Which is what I did when I decided I was going to crochet the "Pineapple Merry-Go-Round Doily", featured in the photo there.

I knew I had a ball of crochet thread somewhere in the closet.  I knew this because every time I got in the closet de-clutter mood, I would come across this ball of thread and debate with myself as to whether I should toss it out or not.  I was pretty sure I always voted to keep it.

I began to furiously rummage.  After fifteen minutes of an on my hands and knees session of  opening bins,  pulling out, and pushing stuff aside, I emerged from the closet, flushed, hair standing on end, with my treasure tightly clasped in my sweaty little hands.

Now all I needed was a very thin steel crochet hook.
I knew I had a stash of them.  I acquired a least 50-75 of these hooks over the years. Back when I was into the doily thing, I made sure I had every size I needed.  I also purchased vintage ones at estate auctions.
So I reluctantly went back into the now turned upside down craft/clothes closet.

As I was hunting around I pulled out an old sewing chest, again one I purchased at an estate auction.  I was sure that's where I kept the hooks.  When I opened up the chest, though, it was empty.  That's when I remembered that I had sold all of my steel crochet hooks on eBay.  That would have been about a year ago, the last time I did a craft/clothes closet de-clutter.  Apparently, the hooks lost that keep/throw out vote.
In my heated obsessive state, I was determined, though.  I must have kept at least one, I thought.
After I checked every possible junk nook and cranny, I found one in the coffee cup/pencil holder on my desk.  I guess it was one I couldn't sell.



See how tiny and thin these hooks are?

I was all set to go.  The closet would have to wait to be re-straightened and decluttered.

I started working on this doily three days ago. The pattern is total mind control and I have immersed.
It is extremely challenging.  I refer you again to the tiny hook.
I have restarted instruction number 9 at least a dozen times.   But today, today I conquered instruction number 9.   I whizzed through 10, 11 and 12.  I'm not sure what challenges "lucky" number 13 is going to bring.  But I say bring it on!

Tomorrow is Ross' last radiation treatment.  Hopefully, he will feel okay and will be able to go.

We are both relieved that this part of his treatment is over.   I can't say it flew by, because that's not how it felt.
I would describe it as each day floating by, the days blurring one into the other.

So far I've managed to maintain an even temperament, only feeling an imminent breakdown a minimal amount of times.

So, in case you haven't guessed by now, that's what the total immersion, obsessive doily making is really all about.  I don't think about cancer when I'm attempting a triple crochet cluster shell with a picot on top.


 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

A Life Curve Ball and CBD

July 17, 2019
Wednesday

As we head into the rest of the summer, Ross is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  He has eight more treatments to go.  YAY!   Aside from the tiredness, he's feeling well.

I've had a birthday and we celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary.



One of the things I have struggled with throughout my life is anxiety.  Having read a bit about the wide range of symptoms which can be attributed to anxiety, I would classify what I deal with as "manageable".  By that I mean it doesn't affect my life on a daily basis, but is more likely triggered by stress levels caused by life's curve balls.

Since we are currently in the midst of one of those curve balls, I have been wondering what I can do to manage the anxiety and stress.

Which brings me to today's topic.  The "miracle" of Cannabidiol or more commonly known as CBD,

According to an article in the Harvard Health Blog:

"CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.
CBD may offer an option for treating different types of chronic pain. A study from the European Journal of Pain showed, using an animal model, CBD applied on the skin could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. Another study demonstrated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits inflammatory and neuropathic pain, two of the most difficult types of chronic pain to treat. More study in humans is needed in this area to substantiate the claims of CBD proponents about pain control."
I've been toying with the idea of trying CBD for a few months.  During that time it seems as though the availability of CBD has become more widespread.
There are flag signs outside of all sorts of stores and shops advertising CBD.   It seems as though smoke shops were the first to bring CBD into their inventory.  Since I don't smoke (any kind of anything), I was hesitant to wander into one of "those" kind of stores.
Recently I noticed that our little local party store was flying the CBD flag outside of their shop.
When we entered the store, I wondered which aisle would contain the shelf holding the CBD products.
Party hats?  Balloons?  "Over the Hill" paraphernalia?
The woman behind the counter obviously noticed my furrowed brow and unsure demeanor.
"Can I help you find something?" she asked.
She was a friendly sort, introduced herself as "Patty" and was quite willing to tout the benefits of CBD.  Which, by the way, the various products were locked in a small cabinet on top of the counter.
Before I go further, I must tell you that I have been quite skeptical about the miraculous efficacy of CBD.
So, Patty had quite a job ahead of her to convince me.
But, Patty told us of a personal experience she had which led me and Ross to walk out the door with $100 worth of CBD products.

Apparently, Patty also has anxiety issues.   She also had been leery of CBD.  Her partner, Fran, though, was a proponent and advocate and swore by it.   But Fran could not get Patty to try it.
One day, Patty's father was rushed to the hospital.   Patty has extreme anxiety when faced with illness, hospitals and especially elevators.  All of which is what she would have to immediately be able to cope with.
In the middle of her panic, as she cried to Fran, that she would not be able to handle any of it, Fran said to Patty, "Open your mouth!"
She put a drop of oil under Patty's tongue and according to Patty, she immediately  started to calm down.

I thought, okay if it can work for Patty, it should work for me.

I bought the Gummy Bears.  Since Ross talked about pain in his neck, she pointed out the the cream would work well.  We got that too.
Patty told me to take on every morning, like a vitamin.   She said, "You don't have to wait for tomorrow morning, take one when you get home."
Which I did.
Here is what I experienced.   I immediately felt a strange sensation in my limbs.  Arms and legs.  I also began to get nauseous.   I  became jittery and irritable.  Perhaps the jittery and irritable feelings happened because I was upset about the other sensations.  I don't know.
I finally had to take an Ativan (tranquilizer) to settle down.
Since that first time, I was willing to try again, but with a lower dose.  I cut the gummy into quarters.  A quarter of the gummy did not seem to have any effect, good or bad on me.
I have not tried again.
Ross has yet to try the cream.

Now, every evening I take about a 1-1/4 mile walk around the neighborhood.  I listen to a book while I walk.  Currently I am listening to "Commonwealth" by Anne Patchett.
After my walk I settle in for some TV viewing and knitting.  I am working on a scrappy afghan.


Walking, listening to a book and knitting seem to be the "miracle" remedies I need to quiet the anxiety and stress of this latest life curve ball.

Have you tried any of the CBD products?  Have they worked for you?



Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Rest of The Story - Our Mini-Vacay in the ER

The ER
The last week in June has been the week that our family spends in Ocean City.  To accommodate the thirteen of us, we rent a couple of houses for the week. It has always been one of my favorite times.

This year because Ross has to have daily radiation treatments for his prostate cancer, we couldn't stay for the whole week.   We decided we would book a room at the nicest hotel in OC for the weekend.


Our reservations were for Saturday and Sunday night.

We had a nice day on Saturday, got in a little sun time at the pool and visited with the family at their rental in the evening.

Ross woke early on Sunday not feeling well.  We decided to head home.  Fortunately, we only live 45 minutes from OC.

A few hours after we got home, Ross' symptoms became more concerning.  Enough so that I called 911.

Our local EMT, emergency services are excellent.  Two ambulances and a police officer came within minutes.

They determined that what Ross was experiencing was not life threatening but recommended an Emergency Room visit.

This is where the real story begins.
We got to the hospital at 12:30 p.m.

Emergency room time is different from normal time.  It surely slows down in an emergency room.

There is a sign in each cubicle stating the times that one should expect to wait.  For instance, standard blood work and run of the mill X-rays might take one to two hours before results are known.
It's a three to four hour wait if you are having a CT scan.

I guess the emergency room Public Relations people thought that having an "expectation sign" posted would make the patients more patient.

Trust me, as the hours and hours go by, the sign becomes less effective.

I have a feeling that everyone reading this has had experience with hospital emergency rooms.

The mere fact that one is in a hospital emergency room is certain to bring on anxiety.

Over the years, one of the things I sadly have had to learn when dealing with medical situations is to be a patient advocate.  That also goes for times when the patient has been me.
I question everything.

For instance, before a diagnosis was specifically made the nurse came in hauling vials of medicine.
"I have your medications Mr. G," she cheerfully said.
"What are you giving him?"  I asked.
She rattled off the names of the medicines.
"What are they for?"  I asked.
She told us and I asked Ross if he wanted to take them.  He declined.
I must explain here that the medicines were for the symptoms Ross described.  Pretty much over the counter stomach soothers.
The point I am making is that the nurse was going to administer these medicines without explaining what they were why they were being given.
"I got the order from the doctor,"  she explained.  As if that was the only explanation we needed.

It's at this point that our story becomes scary.

I think by now it was about 3:00 pm.
The nurse came in with a cup filled with liquid.  She extended it to Ross and told him that he needed to "drink this".

"The doctor has ordered a CT scan," she told us.

"Why?"  I asked.

She explained that the doctor thought he saw something suspicious on one of the routine X-rays and wanted to get a more detailed picture.

I'm sure I don't have to tell you the stomach dropping, heart stopping feeling we experienced at that moment.

We asked to speak to the doctor.   A half-hour later he popped in.

He convinced us that the CT scan was necessary.

The time frame for a CT scan is this:  One hour after the patient finishes the drink, he is taken for the scan, then it takes 2-3 hours for the results.

The waiting was hard. 

After about 90 minutes the ER doc came in and explained that what he suspected was indeed true and he had ordered a surgeon to come in.  It would take about two hours for the surgeon to get to the hospital.   Then he left the room.

As you can imagine we were in shock, tired, and trying to digest what we were just told.

We asked to speak to the doctor again.

"Sorry, but he left." we were told.
Apparently his shift was over and another ER doctor, Dr. Galapos (not his real name) was then assigned to Ross.

Dr. Galapos came in to explain the condition that Ross had and depending on the severity, what the possible treatments might be.

I asked to see the CT scan results.

What happened next is still unbelievable to me.

A few minutes later, Dr. Galapos came back into the room.

"I've cancelled the surgeon," he said.
He went on to explain that the CT scan report indicated that Ross did not have what the original ER doctor suspected.

I was baffled.  No, more than that, I was relieved but furious at the same time.

Apparently the first ER doctor was in such a hurry to leave that even he didn't have the patience to wait for the CT scan results!

But, because one of the symptoms that Ross originally described could be heart related, Dr. Galapos still recommended that Ross stay for 24 hour observation.

By the way, Ross was feeling fine at this point.  All of his heart tests were negative.

We agreed for one reason alone.  Ross' cardiologist, Dr VJ would be in to see Ross the first thing in the morning.

Ross finally got into a room at 8:30 p.m.   Exhausted and hungry, I left to go home.

Dr. VJ did see Ross first thing in the morning and cleared him for release. 

By the way before the paper work was done and his IV removed, two people came into the room with orders for additional testing.  I had to explain that Ross had been released.  After verifying with the doctor they apologized and went away.

Need I say this?  Be your own patient advocate!

Aside from an occasional bout of anxiety, Ross has been doing okay. 


This is how I prefer to remember our weekend.