Thursday, July 30, 2015

Life Goes On

If you follow this blog you're familiar with most of my health problems. I’ve complained about them often enough. One thing I don’t think I’ve mentioned is that I have chronic venous insufficiency. The tiny little valves in my veins don’t work as well as they should. They cause some of my blood to pool in my legs instead of returning to my heart. It’s aggravated by the fact that I’m pretty sedentary. The pooled blood seeps out of the veins and the iron in the hemoglobin stains the skin of my legs dark red. It’s called called venous staining. It also makes the skin scaly, itchy, dry and fragile. A lot of folks have never heard of it and I often get stares when I wear shorts. The picture above isn’t my legs, but it’s a pretty close approximation of what they look like. Sort of like I've been stomping grapes and forgot to wash my feet.

My other health problems just compound the problem. The cancer medicine I’ve been taking slows the healing process. The blood thinner I’m on slows the healing process. My diabetes slows the healing process. I guess you get the point. When I have a cut or a wound, it doesn’t heal nearly as fast as normal people. I also have some diabetic nerve damage below my knees, so I don’t feel a lot down there except a constant tingling like my feet are asleep. 

When I noticed a strange feeling on the back of my right leg about six weeks ago, I got a mirror to take a look. Surprise! I had a nasty looking ulcer on my leg about the size of an egg. Not a pretty sight. Trust me when I say you don’t want to see a picture of it. So I hustled myself into the local wound treatment center to get it checked out. They cleaned the wound and put a dressing on it along with some compression hose on both legs. The next week when they peeled the hose off, the hose on my left leg (not the leg with the wound), stuck to my skin and peeled off the top layer of skin creating a second wound. Now I had wounds on BOTH legs. It’s six weeks later and both wounds are healing very slowly.

In other news, I had a CT scan this past Tuesday and got the results back this afternoon. The bad news is that the cancer continues to grow in my right lung. It’s now about 4 times larger than it was when they first discovered it. There was a little bit of good news; some enlarged lymph nodes they were concerned about haven’t changed any and the cancer hasn’t spread to other parts of my body. But the medicine that caused the mass to shrink significantly at first appears to have become ineffective against the cancer.

Doctor Whoosh is concerned about my leg wounds, and since the oral medicine I’ve been taking impedes the healing process, he took me off it and wants me to go cold turkey for five weeks to see if the wounds heal any faster. After that he’s planning to put me on a different medicine to see how that goes. The new one is intravenous, which means a four hour drive every two weeks to get the treatment. I’m not looking forward to that, particularly if it stretches into the winter months.

I also went in and had a hearing evaluation about three weeks ago. As I suspected, I have moderate hearing loss in the higher frequencies in both ears. My wife will confirm that. She's tired of me asking her to repeat herself all the time. I need hearing aids for both ears. My health insurance won't cover a dime. She's going to have to put up with me saying "What?" for a while longer.

Other than that, I feel okay. No new aches or pains. I'm just gradually getting a little slower as time passes. Since it appears that I'll be reaching the end of my road a little sooner than I expected a few years back, my wife and I have been busy putting our affairs in order. Last wills and various other end of life documents are now taken care of and we're trying to corral our various financial obligations as best as we can. Depressing stuff, but it needs to be dealt with now rather than when it's too late.

Life goes on. At least for the time being.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Trip To The Hardware Store

I was needing some plumbing parts a few days ago. Those of you that follow my blog know that plumbing is not a major part of my skill set. But the task before me was rather simple, so I took a trip to the local hardware store. The store is a large one that stocks everything from adhesives to zip ties and the plumbing supplies are all the way in the back of the store.

I’m not able to walk long distances without having to sit down and rest, so I dread visiting this store. I appreciate the stores that offer electrified shopping carts for the handicapped and rarely shop in places that do not. This particular store only offers two electric carts plus a couple of manual wheelchairs. This particular day both electric carts were in use. I needed the plumbing supplies, so I reluctantly decided to use one of the manual chairs.

While slowly pushing myself back to the plumbing section, I passed another patron riding one of the two electric carts. I didn’t say anything, but my mind was grumbling about it. Mostly it was about the store offering only two carts, but a little bit of my ire was directed at the other guy as well. I wasn’t a happy camper.

Moments later the other guy turned around and pulled up beside me. “Want to trade chairs?” he asked. I was dumbfounded. Why would this fellow want to push himself around in a rickety old manual wheelchair? It turned out that he was on his way to the checkouts and saw me struggling along. I eagerly traded carts with him and thanked him profusely. What a nice gesture! My bad mood instantly turned to one of happy gratitude.

Do kind things for others whenever you can. You'll feel better and you'll make their day a little brighter too.

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."
-Matthew 25:35-40 

By the way, I finished my plumbing job without a problem. I think that's a first...

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Major Upgrade

I've been holding off upgrading to a smart phone for quite a while. While I absolutely hated the mobile I had been using, I was to cheap to pitch it and take the next step. The main reason I didn't like the old phone was that it only took one button press from the main menu to pull up the Internet browser. I can't begin to count the number of times I butt-dialed the world wide web and wasted precious minutes. I tried locking the keyboard, but that was such a hassle when I wanted to place a call. Another reason was that the keyboard was so tiny. Even though I have relatively small fingers it was still hard to dial. I never did learn to text on it...and forget scanning a QR code with it. Applications? Forget that too. I think I downloaded two games for it, both of them were pretty crappy and playing them with the tiny keyboard was a struggle.

The decision to upgrade was forced upon me. I recently noticed the old phone was missing. I looked all over the house in the usual places and cleaned out the floorboard of the car, hoping it would turn up, all to no avail. Finally we decided to cook some steaks outside on the grill a few days ago. There, laying on the grill in a puddle of rainwater was my phone. It had been there for about a week, a week that it's rained just about every day.

I didn't even bother trying to turn it on. I got online and ordered a new smart phone on Friday.  It's supposed to be coming FedEx 3 Day Express, but with the holiday weekend I suspect I won't be getting it until about Wednesday or Thursday.