Sammisnake

What age does wiser start at?

C'mon over my house, we got chicken in the barn
2 roads
sammisnake
Chicken, but no rooster.
  Let me tell you about Big Black. When I first decided to get a rooster to guard my flock out here in the big bad woods of Apalachin, I was reluctant.And scared. And excited,wondering if I was doing the right thing or opening up a big can of worms.
 Fact is, no matter big a roo is gonna get, he starts as a scawny, peeping  cluster of feathers and feet climbing over, under and through all the other birds in the box for food, water, and proximity to the heat lamp as well as any treat the human hand stuck into the incubator happens to be handing out. With the slightest bit of skill, I learned to scoop up the squaking, squalling creature- the secret being to get both wings flat and firm against their body so they stopped wriggling and fightng to escape, and with only the gentlest of pressure, I would now be cradling against my chest the closest living, breathing representation of a dinosaur it is possible to hold in these post modern days.
  As weeks passed and the odd-looking beasts got harder to catch, and, like all teenagers, far less interested in anything their human parent counterparts are doing than in their own battles for dominacy, they were still cute to watch, and on the rare times I woild let them out with me before the pen was built, they scuttled about behind me, trying to, at one and the same time, show their independance, and not get too far away from the big human with the handful of delicious corn.
  Though we were not completely sure of the sex assignment yet, I was becoming more and more certain it was tall, scrawny, and slightly bossy Big Black that was our boy. He continued to grow at a rate faster than the other birds, and, of course, his comb was expanding rapidly. I will never forget the first time he crowed-or at least the first time we heard him crow.It was still more of a sqawk than the rich, raucous, and surprisingly melodious song he would eventually develop. The look of surprise on his chicken face everytime this new sound came bubbling up out of his crop reminded me of the numerous times I've watched young men break though their own juvenile tenors to their new grown-up man-voices.
It is a sweet, wonderful, and terribly amusing moment ( for all but the possessor of the wayward voice) a real rite of passage.
  For after he started to crow,Big Black's position in the flock changed almost immediately. There was no question now about who was in charge. If a hen wandered away from the flock while they were browsing, it was Big Black who chased after her, first to see if she had found something yummy, and if not, to get her to hie herself back to the other ladies for her own protection.
  And he was a magnificent representative of his breed, whatever breed he was (we've narrowed him down to a Black Austrolorp or a Black Jersey Giant, mainly for his huge size, body conformation, and his gorgeous black plumage, a gleaming, radiant black with a rich, green metalllic sheen when  the sun shone on his wind-ruffled feathers. He stood almost twice as tall as the hens, and they are a big batch of lassies, so that is saying something.
  Now he is gone. Jeff says he came around the side of the woodshed and found him laying on the ground,having left on his final journey.Doesn't look like anything attacked him, but who can tell. What really bums me out is that am not currently strong enough to gut and pick him, so that I cannot keep my final promise that he will live in my heart- well, somewhere very 'CLOSE to our hearts as chicken stew. Guess we'll just have to send him to the Land of Compost, unless I got any chicken-plucking friends!
  We will miss you, big old pain in the butt you are. You were a lordly rooster, a real cock; RIP, my friend!!!!!

An Idiot- Everywhere
2 roads
sammisnake
  I've been watching In Idiot Abroad lately on Netflix, a series that I find incredibly amusing, even though I generally find Ricky Gervais's humor a bit cruel. At least the man admits right up front the whole thing is a tremendously expensive practical joke, meant to allow him to laugh at his supposed "friend", Karl Pilkington. Just finished the wrap-up episode to the first season, where the trio of buddies address the issue of Karl being bullied by his mates. Karl's attitude is, "I'm almost in my forties, you needn't feel sorry for me, and besides, if you think I'm being treated so badly, why don't you come yourself and do something about it," or words to that effect.
  Frankly, I think he is the biggest comic genius of them all, and the joke is on everyone who thinks he's the idiot, but that's not the point I'm making here. The point is, the point is, while I was watching this stupid show at two in the morning, trying desperately to find a comfortable position, that I figured out that I am the Universe's Karl Pilkington- and it is my Ricky Gervais.
  And it's not just me, oh no. The damn Universe, or at least this little chunk of it called Earth that we need to deal with, has it in for everyone, pretty much. Einstein postulated that perhaps God dices with the fates of Man: I suggest that any entity that inspires a company to put something as two-AM-worthy a food as triple chocolate M&M cookies into a rustling, crackly envelope that requires nothing short of a thermo-nuclear device to open, only to be confronted with a brittle plastic tray capable generating over 70 decibels of noise ( I'm guessing- I don't have a decibel meter, but I'm pretty sure I'm close) any time it is touched is a sadistic bastard, capable of any kind of brutal cruelty for their own sick amusement.
  That is assuming there is some kind of entity in charge. But what if this entity is not really in charge, but is just a smooth-talking wanker with a contract on a universal scale to provide entertainment to the cosmic masses at our expense? And just like Ricky, he loves us, he really does, and not just because we are the best source of comic fodder he has found in thirty-seven inhabited planets, but because, unbeknownst to us, he's been kicking along beside us through thick and thin throughout all of our time as a civilized species, just poking us with his stick to produce galaxy-level humor.
  Who do you think  was standing at the shoulder of the first cave man to find a supply of the crumbly red soil called ochre, prodding him to "just stick your finger in it, and doodle a bit on the walls, c'mon, nobody is ever going to notice it down here in this dark cave" and sniggering behind his hairy Paleolithic hand?
  Who designed the 'accessible' stalls in the bathrooms in turnpike restroom bathrooms, that are just big enough to allow you to roll in forward in your wheelchair, but then leaves you no room to turn around to transfer to the toilet seat? I'm sure the Eternal Ricky was at that planning meeting, saying "Aw, nobody needs that much room to turn around in the loo (he would say "loo" instead of bathroom because, like Dr. Who, he has, for some reason, a snarky posh upper-crust British accent that makes everyone else in the world feel just that little bit more put-down and yet, unable to object than if he said the same thing in, say, a Long Island accent) do they really? Why waste all that space?" Snigger, snigger....just anticipating the humor of being able to watch, with his omniscient oversight, the amusing antics of a woman in a wheelchair urgently needing to pee, struggling with purse, wheelchair, door, pants-fastenings, all in a space sufficient only for an arthritic hampster, and giggling his galactic ass (or is that arse?) off.
  Just wish if I was providing anywhere near as much entertainment as Karl Pilkington, I was getting at least a tiny portion of the pay check he is getting.
  Here's to you, Galactic Gervais, you sniggering, omniscient prankster. Hope you're amused.

Way to screw a cancer patient-or at least their oncologist
2 roads
sammisnake

It's no big news that I have cancer. Adenocarcinoma of the lung, with metastases to the bones, and now to the liver and pancreas. Not the best diagnosis to have, and yet I still manage to live, somewhat, to enjoy as much as possible my husband, my family, children, grandchildren, and those other wonderful families of folks from my fire department and emergency squad, my congregation, all those crazy musicians I've jammed with or plain admired over the years, from the BPC, Summer Savoyards, Ti-Ahwaga Players and others I am sure I am forgetting. Even the folks my husband works with! I am truly blessed in my family and friends.
  Part of the reason I am still able to enjoy my life has been the wonderful care I have received from the doctors, nurses, and other staff at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, first at Eastern Regional Medical Center in Philadelphia, and more recently at Mid-Western Regional Medical Regional in Zion, Illinois. They have taken excellent care of me, being completely up-front and honest about various therapies and their attitude towards cancer care in general, which is based on giving the cancer patient the best possible quality of life whether a 'cure' is possible or not. They make sure my pain, as much as possible, is controlled so I can do as much as possible of what I want. Let me tell you, that is a very tricky type of medicine to do properly; walking that tightrope between keeping the pain to a level as low as possible without turning the patient into a zombie who sleeps all day and night. It is something they do extraordinary well, which I very much appreciate.
  So what do I have to bitch about? Why those good people from Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA, as we refer to it)  have to go without being paid for the hard work they have done to keep me alive, that's what! And why are they not being remunerated for my care, even after they were initially promised they would be? That's the question I have for Blue Cross/Blue Shield Excellus, my insurance company.
When I first went to CTCA, they checked our my insurance, and told us we were very lucky, as our insurance had no yearly cap, no lifetime cap, and though that particular hospital was not in "in network" with Blue Cross/Blue Shield, they would pay at 80%, and we would work out how to handle the other 20%, which in cancer care, was going to be pretty huge.
  Then the payment checks began coming in. My Beloved was trying to keep my stress level as low as possible, and didn't want to bother me with bills when I was fighting for my life, so he just had me sign the checks and sent them immediately on to CTCA. Who wants to have checks that size sitting around the house, or be responsible for banking them? Not me, thanks- just send them on to the people who earned them, and get back to the fight. Se we didn't notice, until one of the CTCA financial advisors took me aside and pointed it out, that the insurance company was paying more like 10 to 15% on the charges; nowhere near the 80% they had told us they would!
  As a former insurance agent I am well aware of the tricks insurers use to reduce the amounts they have to pay out, and I thoroughly understand the concept of charges needing to be what is considered 'reasonable and prudent', but this was ridiculous! I have written letters, appealed, and finally was forced to change my care to the CTCA facility in Zion, IL.,which IS "in network" with Blue Cross. SoI can continue to get care, but I have had to change my oncologist and all the attendant staff, and have to travel a day to get there and a day back, dealing with airports, delays and cancellations, weather problems....ARGHHH!!!
Perhaps we should look into Obamacare?
We have paid premium premiums for many years to have the very good insurance, and those premium payments have to be made even when my husband has to take time off from work to accompany me to Chicago. I can imagine how well it would go over with the insurance company if we told them that we had decided not to pay all of the premium because we don't like the way they do business, or because they don't have a contract with the providers we want to use-they would drop us like a hot rock!
  And here people everywhere are trembling in fear that the government will interfere with their choice of providers. Well, at least it won't be anything different than the insurance companies have been doing to us.


A Walking, Talking living doll.....
2 roads
sammisnake
    I walked out to the car, and folded my walker up and slung it into the seat behind me. I got in the driver's seat and headed out to meet my hubby for his doctors appointment with his guy, Dr. See-Thru.
When I got to the office I parked and grabbed out my walker, managed to strap my messenger bag to the frame, and wandered inside to meet my sweety.
  How many of you got that? That I WALKED to the car. That I DROVE the car myself? Isn't that HUGE? Especially after watching me struggle with  a wheelchair for so long........I know, I know, it'a really only been about 6 months, but it has felt like forever!
  And driving? Man, its heaven to be making my own decisions on braking, and what speed to drive, and what route to take!
  With many, many thanks to everyone who has been helping me through this very tough time, and the caveat that I may still need lots of help in the future, it still feels pretty stinkin' good to know I can attend a doctor appointment, or even just go shopping by myself for an afternoon, that I just want to SCREAMMMMMMMMM!

  So on the third attempt, I finally made it to Chicago. My first night there, I woke The Beloved at 4AM, afraid I was having either a gal bladder attack or appendicitis. He trundled me over to the Emergency Room- CTCA Zion has their own- and they diagnosed me as under-medicated. I can believe it, as several things have me believing the cancer has been growing pretty viciously this past month. Dr. Lindsay increased my Fentenyl patches by 100mcg, and upped my breakthrough pain med considereably. Voila~! Pain relieved, able to sleep, sit up, walk- feeling great.
  They kept me there in the hospital so I could be observed while I adjusted to the new doses, and everyone came to the hospital room to meet me. I'm very pleased with my new team, (though my oncologist is about Rainbow's age, a bit intimidating!) and they all seem to be on the same page of getting me walking again. Yee-hAW! So the drugs are helping with this, and they did CT scans of my abdomen to see what is causing the pain there. No surprise, it's cancer, metasteses on my liver that are kind of rubbing on my ribs. She believes the new chemo will take care of a lot of that discomfort.
  Chemo will be done at home, orally, one pill a day, which will be sent to me. I can't wait to get started! The drug is called Tarceva, and if anyone has any tales to tell, I'm all ears!
  The next day they did a nerve block injection on my right hip, and it helped immediately. Of course, just as the doc warned me could happen, the pain relief wore off during the second day. But I hung in there, and by Sunday it was coming back, and by today, well....just see for yourself! I'm really excited at the thought of having some of my independence back. Granted, I won't be handling any logs or driving any fire trucks anytime soon, but I feel GOOD. And I'm hoping all of you do too!

After all this time
2 roads
sammisnake

  they finally get a PET scan on me, and surprise! MORE CANCER!!!! This time in my pubis and ischium- the bones in the front and back of my groin on the right side (no WONDER I've been having such pain that I can't walk!) and in my left scapula, which is contributing to the pain in my left shoulder from my torn rotator cuff. So more radiation, and I will be spending Christmas day here in Philadelphia. Don't cry for me, Argentina- we'll be enjoying a prime rib and lobster dinner at the Center, cooked by gourmet chefs from the finest ingredients! Then this weekend, we'll enjoy a lovely belated celebration with our family.
   And the blessings just keep on flowing in; while I was checking out at KMart with some sweats to replace those I've shrunk out of, a middle aged lady pushed my husband aside, as I went to run my card through the reader, saying, "I'm going to pay for this!" and she did! I've heard of these Christmas angels, but this is the first time I've ever been blessed by one. I feel truly humbled that some nice person has chosen to celebrate the holiday by giving to someone less fortunate.
   Friends have given and loaned decorations to brighten our hotel room with the spirit of the season. People have sent cards, for which I am grateful, and wrapped all the presents I had bought,given cash donations and various other blessings.
   And then, there is....The Grinch.
   Otherwise known as Blue Cross/Blue Sheild. The insurance company who assured me, when I first considered coming here to CTCA for treatment, that even though this facility of Cancer Treatment Centers of America was out of their network, they would pay all charges at 80%, and I would have to make my own arrangements with CTCA about the remainders. CTCA graciously agreed to write off everything but the regular co-pay, and I proceeded with my treatment.
  But- when the payment checks started coming, they were covering treatments at more like 10% of the charges, rather than the 80% BC/BS had promised. Then came the day when the patient financial advocate sat me down and explained the whole complicated thing to me. How if a hospital has signed a contract with their local BC/BS, then they are 'in network' with all the BC/BS agencies in the country. However, just because one hospital or treatment facility has a contract with one BC/BS group, it doesn't mean that any other hospital in the same company has the benefits of that contract.
  This means that the only way I can continue my treatment with the company that has saved my life, is to be torn away from the doctor and staff that has kept me alive, abandon the healing, nurturing relationships my family and I have built here in Philadelphia, and transfer my care to the Chicago facility. More travel time, having to get to know a whole new treatment team, whom I am sure will be wonderful people, but still are strangers to me now. And why? Only because the Chicago facility has a contract with Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
  Does anyone wonder why I hate insurance companies?
And for those who wonder, this has nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. This has been going on since long before that legislation was passed. It's got everything to do with BC/BS wanting to have complete control over what our doctors can and cannot do, including what drugs and procedures they will allow. They are the reason more and more doctors are refusing to work with insurance companies, disgusted with people without medical degrees making decisions about their patients medical care based only on cost.
  Wow- not quite the Christmas card to be expected on the eve of Christmas Eve, huh? Sorry if I brought anyone down.  But then the birth of Jesus was all about salvation, about justice and doing what is right, and that means I cannot stop battling against a heartless machine that treats human lives as poker chips in a money game. If you can wish me anything for this holiday season, wish me the strength to continue to fight against the greed-based actions of these machine-like entities that care not at all about the well-being of their "policy holders", or at least not when that well-being runs counter to their desire to make ever more money for their corporate masters.
  And the merriest of holiday seasons to everyone!




Back in the saddle again
2 roads
sammisnake
Knock-knock.
Who's there?
Guess!
Guess who?
......NO! nononononononono!

A-yup. That vague ache int he middle of my back, that I attributed to overworking my poor shoulder- muscles as I pushed myself to walk more and more with the walker, and get around less with the wheelchair? A quick MRI on Friday shows that cancer is munching away at another vertebrae, T-7 this time. So here we are back in Philly on Sunday night, ready to hear whatever my oncology nurse-practitioner has to tell us in the morning.
And you are probably not going to see a lot from me here on Live Journal or on Facebook, because the new symptom is an almost complete inability to sit comfortably- and I don't type well lying down!
But I wanted everyone to know WHY I'm incommunicado, and that I will have to designate a person or two to be my "spokespersons" to get updates from, at least until they can get me sitting pretty again.
Thanks again for all the prayers, good thoughts and energy and vibrations I know are being sent my way. I am in the best possible hands- here at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, and Gods.

Beginning to see the rim
2 roads
sammisnake
  Of this black hole I've been in for the past month.
  Who would believe a simple stumble could have created such havoc in its wake? Or predicted that one illness would spill over into another, cascading into weeks in the hospital, and eons of pain?
  But that is how life goes. And I'm beginning to feel like finally I can peek over the rim of the lip of the hole......
  If anyone out there is listening, could you please send out some prayers for my friend Annie? My bestest friend forever and ever, who has always been there for me, and for so many others when they were down and hurt and needy....and who  has had one cruddy, shitty year this last year?
  I'm not going to go into details, because she is a private type of person. But isn't it enough to know that her best friend has been fighting cancer for this last year and a half? And that is not the WORST thing that has fallen on her tiny little shoulders?
  She is such a special person...when I saw the announcement of the Rally to Restore Sanity (And/Or Fear) on the Daily show, and called her and said, "Let's go!" she never hesitated-she said "Sure!"  Just this summer, when we saw the promo for Farm-Aid being held in Saratoga Springs, she jumped on line and bought tickets, just as quick as she could, so that the four of us could go. Since things haven't quite worked out the way any of us had planned, she and I decided yesterday that she should put the tickets up for sale, since with the amount of pain and disability I am experiencing, I cannot imagine trying to ride in a car for 4 hours, then sit on the lawn at SPAC for the rest of a day, and be able to really enjoy Willy or Mellencamp or Neil Young the way I envisioned back in early summer.
  So- no Farm-Aid, and believe me, she could really have used the diversion. But, as usual, she thinks not of herself, but of others, specifically, of me. She could have kept the tickets and gotten other people to go with her....and I kinda wish she would....but that's her decision, and I respect it. She will probably be embarrassed at me posting anything about this, too...but I think someone like her deserves some recognition, and, as I said, some prayers, good energy, whatever anyone can spare, heading out her way. She is a very special lady, and very, very special to me.
  She is a big part of the reason I'm beginning to see over the rim of the hole, too-she and my sister Melody, and my friend Deb, and Elaine who sent me a prayer shawl in the hospital, and so many others that I know are thinking of me. Marilyn and Carol, and Sue, and Tiffany, and Bobbi, and bundles more than I can list here. I appreciate you caring about me, and I care back!
  And now it's time for me to actually get something productive done, so that I can pat myself on the back and be proud of myself.
 

Those aren't chills running down my spine
2 roads
sammisnake
  I'm getting SOME answers finally. Went to Philly on Thursday and talked to the radiologist, Dr. Suh. He showed me the most recent scans of my spine, and explained the pain I'm having is from spots where tumors on my spine and in my pelvis are pressing on the nerves, effectively pinching them. The tumors are too close to the nerves to be able to use the Interventional Radiology technique of inserting a "hot needle"- one that actually heats up enough to burn away the tumor-because the tumorous material is wrapped around the nerves, and the procedure would kill nerves also.
  Instead I will be going to Philly for the next 2 weeks for the more standard radiation treatment, meaning laying on my own special custom-formed  cast, while the machine zips and buzzes around me, trying to zap as much cancer as it can while avoiding as much good tissue as possible.
  The biggest side effect will be fatigue, with diarrhea thrown in for good measure. I will also have to forgo my beloved hot soaks for quite a while. Then again, if the radiation gets rid of the pain, I will not need to spend so much time soaking in a tub! Hopefully I will not need to be quite so doped up with pain meds either....
  It also means that I will not be here for the next two weeks. My accommodations aren't completely sure yet. If I can get into Hope Lodge, it would be great, as there is no charge to stay there, and they have kitchen facilities so I could take my own groceries and cook my own meals, but someone would also have to stay there with me for the whole time; their policy is that you can only stay there with a caregiver.  Of course, I would NEED someone with me, as there is no way I could handle all the cooking and shopping alone, let alone laundry and such; I can barely walk from the bedroom to the bathroom without being in exquisite pain, and I'm new enough with a wheelchair that cooking is a real challenge!
  If instead I end up at a hotel, it is conceivable I could take care of myself for the majority of the stay, as breakfast would be at the hotel, and all my other meals I would eat at the Center. I really hate the thought of asking the Beloved to use up all of his vacation time to sit around a hotel room in Philadelphia with me, seeing as how the treatments only take up about 15 minutes of the day!  Of course he is perfectly willing to go, and I bless his wonderful, big, generous heart for being so supportive. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to get us moved from the upstairs to the main floor, and who is going to do all that if he isn't here?
  So, if I DO get into Hope Lodge, is it possible there would be a few friends who would be willing to take a few days a piece to explore lovely Philadelphia with me, in between trips to the Lazer Cannon Death Ray?
  What is bothering me the most is that I thought the cancer was pretty much in abeyance, and it obviously is not. Dr. Suh tells me he will be irradiating my spine with two-thirds of the total amount of radiation that area can have for the length of my life, and that if this doesn't work, then there is no way to go back with radiation to fix it. If two-thirds doesn't stop it, then the other one-third isn't going to either.
  So once again I find myself contemplating my own mortality. Often in my years as a medic, people would say to me, "I don't know how you can do what you do, I can't bear the thought of death," or perhaps "being around dead people." I've never been harmed by a dead person; never even been offended. No dead person has ever insulted me, attacked me, or even hurt my feelings with a careless remark. The living are the ones who can hurt us.
  Even more than that, I have seen the ones for whom death comes as a blessing. We have all said it, one time or another, that so-and-sos death was actually a blessing, they had suffered so much.....well, if living a long time with the pain that I have had this past month is the alternative, I can see how death would be a blessing. I only pray that the doctors can find a way to break this pain cycle I am stuck in, so that I can enjoy whatever time I have left without agony. I leave that in the hands of the Spirit That Moves The Universe- it's too big for me to think about right now!

Honesty is such lonely word
2 roads
sammisnake
  I haven't been being honest, not to the people who care about me. Truth is, ever since I got the news that the cancer was , for the moment at least, stopped in it's tracks, I have been feeling so much worse.
  Not that the two are unrelated; the pain in my back is from the degenerative disk disease, and the problem is that they cannot do any of the surgical things they normally would, due to the cancer and cancer meds. Also, I cannot take advantage of the spinal decompression that got me through the last year of my employment - again, simply because of the cancer.
  No one has told me whether they are afraid of it spreading if they operate, or whether the Avastin that has seemed to be keeping the cells from spreading would make the surgery too dangerous...not enough answers, dammit! The pain is so bad when I try to walk that I am now using a wheelchair to get around, and I hate it. I mean, I'm grateful that our son just happened to have one hanging around when I needed it - but I hate the very IDEA of having to use it!
  Then the left wrist started hurting, so badly I could have believed I broke it, except I know I didn't: it is just my old buddy, carpel tunnel syndrome revisiting me, probably because I'm having to use my arms more to support myself and get around-but that means THAT is in a brace, pretty useless to me.
  Then came the ear infection that would not go away, leaving me isolated in a pretty soundless place where most of my conversations with other consists of me saying "What?" and "I'm sorry - I can't hear you." As per modern medical knowledge, I didn't run to the doc for antibiotics because, we all know nowadays, most ear infections resolve themselves without antibiotics. Not mine, though- mine finally blew out my left eardrum, and even with the resulting drainage, would still not let go. Back to the doc again, this time for antibiotic ear drops-yum!
  Followed this week by a new eruption of hydrenitis supuritiva, this side on the right side of my groin-I already have an active site on the left side. In layman's ;language, that means a huge, incredibly painful cyst under the skin that the docs don't seem to be able to do much about, except, yummy, MORE antibiotics! Oral, this time, one of the exotics because I am allergic to the 2 more common drugs for this condition, and with the warning from the doc that  "this stuff will really upset your tummy" while I've been fighting tooth and nail to maintain ANY kind of appetite at all.....
  So if you see a very skinny woman in a wheelchair who looks like she is in pain and doesn't acknowledge you when you speak to her, it was probably me.
  I've never been comfortable talking about the troubles I have, and any of you who are reading this who really know me probably also know that our whole family doesn't like to go on about our health problems. We have all been taught it is so much better to just try to bear what God gives you and remain cheerful, and do your crying in private. The only problem with that right now is that I spend so much time crying, it's not safe to go out in public! I do manage it, though, because I do not want to give up.
  Thursday I am heading to Philadelphia where they are going to try, yet again, to do something for the pain with Interventional Radiology, and possibly radiation-ablation of nerves: hopefully that will help. I will be starting physical therapy next week, to work on getting the use of my left hand back, and trying to maintain whatever strength I've got, and hopefully get myself built back up to where I can walk, regardless of the pain.
  Over the next few weeks, the Beloved and i will be moving from the upper floor to the main floor, giving up our lovely tree-house in the branches. That will help. And so will help.
  Yes, I need help. There! I said it! More than I ever have before, now I need help with everyday chores like cleaning and laundry, and fixing meals.It hurts almost as much to admit that as everything else all together, but that is how it is, and I cannot fight it anymore. My poor husband is becoming exhausted, trying to pick up all my slack with household chores and at the same time, trying to get remodeling and moving done, so we can make this move to the main floor. So, if anyone has a but of time they could spare, just let me know, and I promise I will work very hard at accepting said help gracefully.
  Because it's not right to lie to your friends, especially friends like all of you, who have showed so many times just how big-hearted and generous you are. Thanks again for everything you have helped me with in the past. And know that I have every intention of beating these problems, and get past them!

Limits
2 roads
sammisnake
  Stumbling through the bathroom in the deep. dark mid-night, I find myself adrift in the middle of a familiar space. Where am I? How close to anything - a towel rack,a dresser, shoe-rack, a shin-splitting mass of vitreous china,a sleeping dog, a wall? Out of concern for the tender bits of my anatomy that never seem to make out well in abrupt encounters with immoveable objects, I reach back into my fire training: specifically, the principles of large-area search, that state when you find yourself alone, with zero visibility, in the middle of nowhere, reach out, reach out and touch something...
  Make yourself as big as you can. In a real fire scenario, I would plop myself onto the floor on my belly and assume a spread-eagle position, extending my arms and legs as far as I possibly could. Of course, in a fire situation, or even a fire training situation, I would be dressed in around 75 pounds of gear, my extremities protected by boots, gloves, and helmet, and would most certainly have something - a tool of some sort, an axe or pike pole, or a peculiarly useful item known as a halligan with me, to extend my reach by three to six feet. As the room I am currently lost in is a 24'X14' bedroom, I take the position that the spread-eagle thing is overkill, and just reach out with my arms.
  So I reach out, reach out and feel.....nothing. Maybe I should bring a halligan to bed with me, I think for a second. The Beloved would look at me funny....besides, it's just my bedroom, how lost can I really be? That is when I realize that my arms are extended only the length of my forearms. I force myself to extend my arms from the shoulders, wiggling my oh-so-sensitive fi\ngertips, and, of course, before I am anywhere near completely extended, THERE is the wall, in one direction, and the corner of a dresser in the other. My feet, sweeping in gentle arcs across the floor, likewise encounter the dresser, the edge of the rug that lies at the foot of the bed. I am located in space, I know how far it is to the light switch, the bathroom door....I am safe.
  How could I be so lost in a four foot radius? If you consider the human body, reaching out with my forearms from my waist makes me about 42 inches in diameter, while extending my arms completely brings me to a total length of 56 inches, just a tad shorter than my height of 64 inches. Wow- my arms, extended straight out from the shoulder totals only 10 inches less than my height. And that is as I struggle to hold a tape measure; I'm pretty sure if I was to stretch as far as I could while someone else measured, my reach would be longer. Yup-just had the Beloved measure me that way, and the total is 62 1/2 inches. That matches up with what I was taught, that our reach, while it may not exceed our grasp, almost equals our height, and I am 64 inches tall...or, I used to be, at least.
  But that isn't the point, really. The point is, why, while stranded in the middle of the total darkness of my bedroom, when I was reaching out to locate some kind of landmark to navigate by, to find my way safely to the bathroom from the recliner where I had been forced to spend that extremely uncomfortable night, didn't I reach out to the full extent I am capable of? Is it fear, and if so, of what? Why not automatically, the first time push out to the farthest limits I am capable of, increasing my chances of finding some touchstone on the first try?
  Beats me. Anyone?

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