The Other Stuff

TRIGGER WARNING: This entry is gonna cover some of the other depressing shit that has also been filling my thoughts and influencing my mood recently. But I think it’ll help to explain why when it did hit me, about Mom being gone gone… why it was so easy for it to knock me down and keep me there.

About a year ago my best friend Jim lost his mom to cancer. At the end of last year, Brianna, another of my closest friends, lost her mom to cancer. And Christina was more than just “Bri’s mom” to me… she treated me like family. Rick, a classmate of mine, has been fighting cancer for two years now, and rarely posts to Facebook anymore, which seems like a bad sign. Then on the first of this month, anotherΒ school friend, Stephanie, died in her sleep from unknown and absolutely unexpected causes. Her oldest son turned 18 just two days later. And then today, my “cousin-in-law” Gloria lost her sister Wanda to cancer as well.

Jim’s mom was in her early 70s, but Christina was only in her early 40s, Rick is my age, Stephanie was only two years older than me, and I think Wanda may have been barely into her 50s. And Mom’s best friend through the entirety of her adulthood, Cecil… she passed away within the year as well. I’m actually sitting here afraid that I’ve neglected to mention someone, because it seems like every direction that I turn – sickness and death is what I see, and in many cases – in people far, far too young for most to even think it’s a possibility.

(Oof… this is gonna be a downer of an entry, that’s for sure…)

And of course, having cancer myself… or at least having had cancer (fingers crossed)… all of the stuff mentioned above doesn’t exactly do a lot to put my mind at ease. A long life before passing… that is something that hurts, but we understand it. People dying at my age or younger, from things like lung cancer when they were very vocal non-smokers… those are the ones where it starts to make less sense. And then ones like Stephanie that are there one day, making posts about her dog and her son’s upcoming birthday, then *poof* … simply gone the next. No rhyme or reason, and I’m not good when it comes to shit like that.

But for my stuff, I did get another appointment with my family doctor at the beginning of this week, tried to sum up all of the things I’ve been talking about here, and told her that I’m not really comfortable with what (to me) feels like a lack of concern or urgency once my thyroid removal and radiation treatment was completed. I’m not being neglected or anything… but after the surgery, radiation, and scan – other than the thyroid guy getting my levels right via medication, nothing else has happened or was scheduled to happen until July. I realized that I’m not okay with that. “You have cancer. We cut the cancer thing out. We think we got all the cancer. See you in half-a-year.”Β Christina also got the “we think we got it all” speech after her first surgery as well (I was there) so… umm… no. Not good enough.

It would be another thing if I honestly just felt great, and all these other things were just spooking me, but that’s not the case. Without going into details, there are things that just feel “wrong” for lack of a better term, and since I’ve gone with the “flashy” insurance this year I would be dumb to not metaphorically pound my fist on the table and ask for a little more. So that’s where I’m at now… the start of “a little more” phase. Tomorrow I’m seeing someone regarding my come-and-go, sometimes excruciatingly painful back problem… and, thankfully, with the lab being in the same building, my primary care provider has ordered an assload of blood and urine tests to not only hit on the regular “physical” type stuff, but cancer indicators as well… so I’ll do those right after the back guy.

So yeah… I’ll admit that with all of this stuff on my mind, I’ve essentially disappeared as far as my friends would describe it. At least in person, I mean. One, it’s hard to want to go out and do anything fun or visit with anyone when my brain is so full of this shit… and two, more than half of the time I just physically feel too crappy to even consider it. Now that it’s going to be looked into with a little more detail, I’m hoping that with good or at least encouraging results I’ll be more likely to spend at least a few days trying to act like everything is fine, and hopefully trying to start living my life again.

I’ve been out to see Dad a few times in the past month and a half, but when it’s hard to make myself get up and do anything even on good days – I know that I’ve not been visiting as much as I should or as much as I want. It’s hard to explain “I just can’t.” to someone, when it’s hard for you to even understand yourself. I can’t remember the last time I’ve opened my e-mail app, but I’m gonna try to at least start doing that again. My biggest problem is that I’m not exactly some cheery ray of sunshine right now, and I’ll probably struggle to come up with e-mails to Dad that are any less depressing than this particular blog entry. I guess that’ll force me to really think about each day, or couple of days, to find the little good (or at least “okay”) moments that I’m sure are there. But yeah, that’s the plan for now…

(And I’ll try to limit the depressing topics here in the blog for a while after today’s posts. Wish me luck.)

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Whirlwind

The past few days have been rough… starting off with some sort of 36-hour bug that had me down for the count. I can’t remember the last time that I felt that bad and threw up that much. It was awful. For 24 hours I didn’t even leave my bed, unless it was to go to the bathroom, but by yesterday morning I could tell that I was starting to get back to decent. Not completely better, but with as miserable as I was feeling, man did I feel blessed to feel at least as good as I was feeling. (I appreciated Gen keeping me “company” through an always-open message screen… ‘cuz man does it suck to feel alone when you’re that sick.)

But later that evening I got a few messages from my friend Bri, telling me about some concerns she was having regarding her pregnancy… and that she was advised to go to the hospital to have a couple tests done, but she wasn’t able to find anyone that could give her a ride. Her sister and brother-in-law both had the same bug as me, so I totally understood their inability to drive her there and wait – so I ended up being her last resort, and luckily I was just good enough to be able to go in and take her.

Everything ended up being fine but the whole ordeal didn’t wrap up until after 1am, and then I didn’t manage to get to sleep until after 4am. I had made plans with Aunt Sharon to go visit Dad today, but that was before I knew I’d have my late night at the hospital. (I had a bunch of old slide scans of him, Mom, me, and others turned into prints that I definitely at least wanted to drop off – even if I wasn’t feeling good enough to stay long.) So a few hours sleep and I was back up and at ’em. Sort of. Took me forever to get moving, because I could (and can still) tell that I haven’t quite shaken whatever had me laid out.

The visit was really good, and I finally ate some real food, but almost immediately when I got home I sacked out for a three hour nap. Not really what I wanted to do, risking losing a normal sleep schedule, but I didn’t get much say in the matter. I think I’m still good though… and between wearing a mask the whole time at the hospital, and then hopefully being over it by today, hopefully I won’t end up getting anyone else sick. Whatever it is is really going around though, so everyone’s kinda watching out for it.

I don’t know how I didn’t manage to jinx myself today. During that “Ahh!” period of feeling better after a couple days of puking, that’s when I made the plans to go see Dad… so I’m lucky that I didn’t end up overdoing it or setting myself back with the lack of sleep and end up having to cancel. For once my body didn’t betray me… let’s all hope that I can still get some good sleep tonight in a few hours though. Still staying optimistic, cuz any improvement over a couple days ago is worth being happy about. And maybe it was good to get one more day before I try to throw myself back into “getting some things done around here” – albeit slowly. Still trying to get myself back on track from this past month…

Sorting

Genesee’s spring visit here got cut short, so she’s making up for it on this trip. She got to Ohio early last week and plans to stay through my birthday. She’ll be visiting this person and that person, but she’s using here as a “home base” for most of her stay.

That was the plan from quite a while ago actually, with her helping me go through all of the tubs of Batina family stuff. For both my grandparents and my aunt, when they passed away I ended up saving way too many of their things that were important or keepsakes to them but hold no meaning to anyone else. As much as I want to save all of those things, it only makes sense to narrow it all down to something manageable.

Cards that they had received from decades back, candles, keychains, weird little nick knacks, photos of their friends, photos of me… where each one seemed to have at least one duplicate of random size… heh… and then of course there were receipts and manuals galore… and you might ask, “Why did you save that stuff in the first place?” Well, if they had stuff stored or marked as something important, I assumed it was all important. But just knowing that they saved it made me feel like I had to save it.

So that’s where Gen comes in. Without assistance I don’t think I’d be able to get rid of any of that stuff… so she and I sat a couple nights and went through most of the tubs and boxes and finally got it to where I’m keeping only the stuff that needs to be kept. There’s still some more things to go through, but I’m betting that by time she leaves to head home we’ll have taken care of all of it. Plus it’s nice that it means we’re stopping and looking at each thing before deciding its fate, which I think they would be happy about.

Tedious Ramblin’

Doing my typical weekend thing, being half-productive / half-bum. 😐 Last week wasn’t too bad… got a few of my “must do” things done, while adding in a couple new things on the fly – and whatever wasn’t accomplished last week will just be added to the list of stuff for the upcoming week.Β πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ I guess I got just enough of last week’s stuff done that it’s not really stressing me out today like it normally might.

Dealing with the misc “bill stuff” last week was tedious.Β πŸ˜’ My check for an bill that I had gotten was returned to me, with a note that said no balance was due. That same day, I got a second bill for that same amount… and it took talking to someone in person to get them to acknowledge that I was handing them a check for the amount due, at least according to their file. 😠 Not a big deal, just annoying.

Then I got a bill from one of Dad’s nurses or doctors, for an “at home visit” which I obviously don’t get here at my own home. I called and explained that our names are similar but not identical, but she still couldn’t tell me why the bill came to me, in my name. 🀨 She assured me that she fixed it in the system and that I won’t have to worry about it. It was for only ten bucks, but still… annoying.

Tried to call the hospital about some additional bill stuff on Friday afternoon, but even though it wasn’t that late in the day – apparently everyone with any authority had already left the building for the weekend. In theory, the financial assistance should absorb some bills as they’re generated, so there’s a good chance that the ones I’m calling about will have already been affected (or perhaps eliminated) by the time I actually speak to someone about them.

Everything that I ordered for Maven finally came in. There were issues because of the package being damaged in transit, then automatically refunded, then the order was automatically re-orderedΒ – despite me doing that same thing manually… just nonsense that had to be worked out before everything was good.Β πŸ™„ But she’s feeling better, isΒ mostly flea-free… so basically I’m handling a few things at the same time with her, like I’ve been doing appointments with myself for a few months now.

Oh, and then the “on the fly” thing that I mentioned having to make room for last week… it was an intake appointment that my PCP had made for me, to start seeing a therapist and psychiatrist.Β πŸ˜³πŸ‘©β€βš•οΈ The last two PCP appointments I mentioned that I’d like to do that eventually, but that I wasn’t ready to throw it in with all of the rest of the things I’m dealing with quite yet… but my PCP apparently (and accurately) figured that I really did want to get started with the psych side of things, and that I just needed the nudge of having an appointment straight-up scheduled without any input from me. 😏

The first person I saw (and the only person, until next week) was the therapist lady, and I think I’m going to like her. 🧐 I got the typical hour-long intake visit with generic questions to start sizing me up… and I think I’ll like her not only because we share political and social views (it came up while talking about insurance and pre-existing conditions), but also because I think she’s aware that I’m relatively smart – and she seems pretty sharp herself. I always like therapy better when there seems to be a “fun” but somewhat adversarial type relationship – where we each know that what we both say will likely have merit.

Not much talk about meds yet, since that will fall under the umbrella of what the actual psychiatrist will be handling for me… so, I dunno, it may seem weird but I’ve always liked counseling for some reason. Even if it’s just because I can rant to a disconnected party for almost an hour and then just go home.Β πŸ™‚ I don’t have to consider any “solutions” that they think might make me “better” compared to what I usually am. I mean, I’m open to suggestions… but do I have any specific goals or methods that I’m particularly interested in? Not really. Hey… I’m not the one who actually made this appointment.

The Little Moments

Okay, so, the good from yesterday…

When I went to get my drain removed, I first stopped by my neck doc’s office since the two are located in the same building. πŸ€” Hmm… I guess I’m going to have to figure out another nickname for him since I technically have two neck docs now. 🀨 But yeah, my workers comp neck doctor, Dr Walter… I wanted to stop in there real quick to let Nicole know about the two prescriptions that I was given, just so they’d have a bit of a heads up for my next appointment.

Luckily there was nobody else in the waiting room when I went in, and when she opened the glass and saw me she joked, Wow… what’s the new accessory you’ve got there?” Heh… and that’s exactly the kind of response I hoped for, because for as long as I’ve known her through my monthly visits, and since she knew this was in my cards, it was just nice to get a jokey but caring response from her – especially when I showed up unannounced looking startling like I did. 😏

After getting the drain removed I went to leave and ended up running into Dr Walter in the parking lot. He could have ducked me, since I didn’t even see him coming, but I heard him say “Hey, Robert…” as he walked over to greet me. πŸ™‚ Like Nicole, he knew this surgery was coming, so he was interested to hear how it went and to even take a quick glance at the surgery site for his own curiosity. It was just nice, when he was probably ready to just get the hell out of there and head home, that he took five minutes to talk to me there in the parking lot like that.

Like I’ve said, I’ve been seeing this same doctor for over a decade now, so you do sort of feel a bit of a friendship… maybe that’s not the right word, but after countless office visits you end up being pretty familiar, often times talking more about “other stuff” than medical stuff, and I always felt like he genuinely cared about my issues and treatment… so it was just nice to feel like that was confirmed, by him going out of his way to show interest, concern, etc. when he could have been 5 or 10 miles closer to home if he had just taken off. πŸš—πŸ’¨Β  Β  Β  Β  Β πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

So it might sound silly that it was such a big deal to me, but having two of “my people” from that office treat me so kindly at a time when I really did need it… it makes me feel even more fortunate that those are the folks that I ended up with right after my injury happened all those years ago. 😊

Oh… Yeah

Today was a good day. I have some papers that I needed to sign which also required two witnesses, so this afternoon I went over to my friend Amy’s house so she and Rick could provide some initials and signatures to help me out with that. I ended up staying there about a half hour, and we stood outside talking and looking at various projects that Rick either had been working on or planned to start working on soon… and lemme tell ya, that guy can do almost anything. πŸ’ͺ🏻😎 And like I told him, sometimes it’s nice to live through someone else’s inspiration and motivation about their passion projects. 😏

After that I made a quick trip to the gas station in Rockbridge so I could a) fill my car with gas, b) pick up enough necessities to make it to next week, and c) grab some Burger King so I didn’t have to do any cooking tonight… all in one shot. Basically just a mini-run to keep me “good” here at the house until next week, when I intend to do a much bigger “stocking up” shopping trip before my surgery… just in case I don’t feel like leaving the house and mixing with the unwashed public for a while afterwards.

But what I actually did while I was out today isn’t the point. The point is that I did all of that stuff today without thinking about the problem with my leg at all. πŸ˜ƒ I may have had some pain as I was getting in and out of the car, but I don’t remember it. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ And as I was walking around to get ready, or over at Amy’s house, or while I was filling the car and doing my shopping… once I got home I realized that I hadn’t been limping, at least as far as I know, through any of it. 😯

I’m not going to start cheering just yet, since I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs as I’ve been going through this… but yeah, it feels good to have not been nagged by pain for at least that small part of my day. I’m hoping that sitting on this giant silly yoga ball is actually making a positive impact, because I’m going to keep doing it. I’m also going to change the sheets on my bed and add that fluffy mattress topper thing that I bought a few weeks back.

I really needed something like this today. πŸ™‚ I mean, I’ve got much less on my mental agenda today than yesterday, but it really was an uplifting surprise to have (for the first time in a couple of months)Β such a span of painless walking. And the older and more broken that I get, the more that I’m learning to appreciate these small victories.

Paying For Yesterday

I’m right in the middle of a “spell” with my lower back. πŸ™ It happens a couple times a year, and I’ve even been to the ER once (several years ago) while it was happening – and the scan or x-ray or whatever that they did, it didn’t reveal any damage or specific thing that could be causing it. (Because of course it didn’t. 😠) So, even though I woke up today essentially unable to walk or take steps due to the unpredictable random jolts of pain – I’m still planning on waiting it out, and then theΒ next time that I feel this coming on I’ll make plans to go to the ER again to see if I can get some answers.

It’s hard to describe the pain and that effect that it has if you haven’t experienced something similar. Cautiously and slowly taking each step, being unable to predict what movement is going to cause a jolt of pain that would knock me over if I didn’t have a wall to grab on to. 😳😒 Even just getting out of bed required five minutes of rolling, twisting, sliding, bending – all to find the one way that allowed me to sit up. And I do mean allowed. Because no matter how much pain that I was determined to accept, there’s a point where pain dictates what the body does, and when it doesn’t wanna allow you to put your weight on one leg, it’ll be happy to let you fall to the ground to avoid it. πŸ˜”

But anyway, today is the price that I’m paying for yesterday’s activities. I went up to Columbus to take Cassi to her doctor appointment, and it was actually helpful to spend so much time sitting in my comfortable car seat with the heating elements set to max. β™¨πŸ˜‹ I think that’s actually what allowed me to function as well as I was during the moments when we were out of the car. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I also gritted my teefs and made a bunch of phone calls to handle appointments and things that I’ve been needing to take care of. πŸ“žπŸ˜¬

I had $80 in free slot play, and $30 in dining credit, so after her appointment we went over to Hollywood Casino. By the time we got there we were both starving, so we opted for the buffet and absolutely poofed ourselves before we played. πŸ§‘πŸ»πŸ‘±πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ•πŸ—πŸ₯™πŸ”πŸ₯©πŸ₯“πŸŸπŸ₯—πŸ– I let her play on my free money, and I took the same amount in cash to play along side of her. By the time we left she had won over $240, and I was ableΒ to (again)Β walk away with the same amount that I took, which is absolutely fine with me. 😁 So that “Meh… why not?” side trip ended up being a good experience for both of us.

We then went to the huge thrift store across the way from the casino, and she picked up a handful of new black pants for use with her work uniform, along with some extra shorts and tops thanks to the unexpected winnings. πŸ’πŸ»β€β™€οΈ I found a couple of shirts that I liked, but no jeans. πŸ˜’ I’ve finally started looking for jeans that have a waistband that’s one size up from the ones that I’ve been wearing for the past many years… not something I’m too excited about… and I’m hoping there’s still a medical explanation that can eventually be fixed so I can stick with my normal “almost fat” sized pants.

So yeah, even though I felt miserable, and feel even more miserable today, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. πŸ™‚ I like when I can do something fun with a friend and it ends up actually really helping them out at just the right time. And when I got home… I was still hurting, but no worse than I had throughout the day… so I certainly wasn’t expecting this when I woke up today. πŸ€”πŸ€¨ I’m going to be taking it super, super easy for the next couple of days though, so I can give it some time to hopefully recover a bit. πŸ§˜πŸ»β€β™‚οΈπŸ™πŸ» I mean, I know I’ll get better – because I always have – but it’s still scary when your ability to walk becomes questionable at best.