Wednesday, August 27, 2014
I was going to write another blog about how horrible last week was, and I may get around to that in a day or two, but right now I am in Proud Mama mode, and I am going to brag...yes, I admit it...sometimes I am one of *those* mothers.
Beyond last week, this has been a very difficult summer for me, financially and emotionally. I mentioned a $300 water bill in a previous blog. That crippled me financially for the month of July. My water bills are usually around $50. I figured out that it was caused by a problem with the sprinkler system. In August the bill was only $70, much more reasonable (maybe higher than usual because of the actual day I got the water turned off to the sprinkler system...can't afford to get it fixed right now). But I had vet bills from my dog's last illness that were more than $300, which right there crippled me for the month of August. And I at least did not expect that things would get worse.
Then one night Danny, Cecily, and I returned home from a day spent at a theme park with some friends. We had had a great time, but we were exhausted and it was really late. Danny walks across the lawn and says, "Mom, there's a swamp over here."
Sure enough, in the middle of a drought, I have a swamp in my front yard. I called the plumber. The guy came out and diagnosed a major leak in the pipes. Price to fix: $600. I told him to go ahead...you can't *not* fix that kind of problem. Then I went into the house and started to cry. It was just too much. I wouldn't have that kind of money in the best of circumstances, and already August was in bad circumstances. I was so tired, and I was just in despair.
I called Henry, just to cry on his shoulder. When he answered, I was crying so hard he couldn't even understand me. Finally I managed to calm down enough to tell him what was wrong. His reaction: Oh, good grief Mom, I thought Danny's cancer had come back. It's ONLY money, for goodness sake! Calm down, I'll *give* you $600!
And he paid for the plumbing repair for me. Honestly, I don't really know what I would have done if he hadn't. And I am so, so grateful. I often think that I am not the mother I would like to be, and I know I have made a lot of mistakes, but I must have done something right.
To top that off, he sent me a text today telling me that he has perfect customer ratings at his job, higher than everyone else there, and his manager is really happy with him. So I am definitely one very proud mother.
I have to add, though, that I only wish I were able to say/think, "It's ONLY money!" It never is, for me.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
I posted as my status a couple of days ago that Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of last week had been awful. Well, they definitely were, but, looking somewhat objectively at what happened those days, I can say that, to someone less affected by stress than I am, they might not have been all that bad.
Here is what happened...my lovely daughter was returning to college on Thursday morning, and we had many, many things to do before she could return. The first order of business on Monday was to get her a new military ID card. This required an appointment, and the presence of her father, who is the military sponsor. The appointment was set.
The plan was for me to take her and Danny to the hospital where her father works, hand them off to him, and stay peacefully at the hospital, using the wifi and perhaps sipping some iced tea until they returned. However, Dave wanted them at the hospital a full hour before the ID card appointment. Since said hospital is a half hour from my house (or more, depending on traffic), and it was just about a half hour before the time he wanted them when he informed me that they had to be an hour early, we had to rush like crazy to get into the car and leave.
So, we got to the hospital, and I had maybe two minutes to 'relax' before I got a text telling me that Cecily had forgotten the oh-so-important letter...the one from her college, certifying that she is a full-time student and her anticipated graduation date. Without the letter, no ID card.
The irony here is that, if we hadn't rushed so much to get to the hospital on time, she probably wouldn't have forgotten it. And she HAD to get an ID card because she doesn't have a driver's license, and she needs photo ID to fly...to get back to college, which is what this whole mess was about.
So we discussed the situation and decided that Dave would take Cecily for her appointment and I would drive home and get the $%*3(*@%$@$# letter (see? I'm not even using bad language) and then meet them at the ID card place. Which of course I had no idea of the location of...not to mention that my car at that point was running on fumes. Then there was the fact that Dave (and I) didn't really think that they would let me on base unless he or Cecily was with me; of course, neither of them *was* going to be with me. I had no choice but to take my chances on that, but we agreed that I should at least take Danny with me, since he does have an ID card, just as proof of my story, even though he isn't old enough to sponsor me on base.
So I drove home like a maniac, had to stop for gas, which delayed me, found the (stupid) letter, and plugged the relevant address into my GPS.
Now my GPS can indeed be a most useful thing, but it has several flaws. One of these is that it is very unwilling to change course if an obstacle (such as a closed road due to construction) presents itself. Another is that it is completely ignorant of such things as gates on military bases.
So, another long drive across town, and the GPS led me, oh-so-accurately, to a closed and locked gate. The kind that has been closed permanently. Mentally screaming, cursing, blaming Dave for wanting us there so early, blaming Cecily for not remembering the (stupid) letter, I called Dave in a panic since I was already at least fifteen minutes late for the time of her appointment.
And Dave informed me that, since he only works at the hospital, he really isn't knowledgeable about the rest of the base, and he has no idea how to get me where I need to be. More mental curses and sobs. Then he called me back and told me he thought I could get where I needed to be from the Waters Street gate. I asked the GPS to take me there, and it decided to cooperate, although the route it chose was very long and circuitous. And time was ticking away.
But we made it to the gate, finally, and....of course they wouldn't let me in. I had to go to the Visitor's Center and get a pass. Big surprise there. By the time I staggered into the Visitor's Center, I was at the end of my rope. But I did get a pass, drove back to the gate, got let in......and then couldn't find the accursed building. The military always has to make things difficult for you. The building number was extremely well hidden. The building designers could teach the camouflage folks a thing or two. Then, too, the GPS thought the building was a mile down the street from where it actually was.
By the time I finally found the right building, not only was I at the end of my rope, but my stomach felt like said rope had landed right inside it, full of knots. And then, to top it all off, I couldn't find the right office once I was in the building. It was most definitely not my day.
The only good thing was that, once I found my daughter, here I was well over an hour late for her appointment time......she still hadn't been seen. Insert comment about government offices and their idea of keeping to time. However, in this case, I wasn't about to complain.
Not too long after that, she got called in, and presented her letter. Her dad filled out and signed the relevant form. And then...oh, yes, then....she was asked for another form of ID - student ID, birth certificate, social security card, driver's license.
As I mentioned, she has no driver's license. She had left her student ID in storage back at her college (common sense not being her strong point). And she hadn't realized that she needed to bring another form of ID.
Sooooooooo, after all that, she wasn't able to get the ID card anyway. Insert screaming and sobbing sound effects.
There went the majority of my day, my stress level was in the stratosphere, and it was all for nothing..... And here I had pictured myself sipping iced tea while using the wifi peacefully back at the hospital...
All was not totally lost, however. We were left with only one choice, and it wasn't a good one. She had to return the next day at 7:15 A.M., with all her paperwork including the second form of ID, and hope to be called as a walk-in. Since Dave had already filled out all the paperwork he was required to, he was totally off the hook. Guess who landed squarely on said hook?
To add insult to injury, although it was very minor in comparison to what I had already gone through, we had to go out that evening to a meeting, so we grabbed whatever we could find to eat and rushed right back out, having spent maybe a grand total of 30 minutes at home.
So that was my Monday. I hate to say it, but Tuesday gave Monday a run for its money as worst day of the week, but this blog is already way too long. Waaaaay too long.
Monday, August 04, 2014
I haven't done much in the way of blogging lately. Things have been pretty tough in a lot of ways - from the $300 water bill, which I am pretty sure I have determined to have been caused by a problem with the sprinkler system this house has - to having to say good-by to my wonderful little dog, Cotton. She was the sweetest, best pet ever.
I cried myself sick that day. But she was going to die anyway, and I just couldn't watch her suffer.
There have also been some good things. My aunt's birthday party was a highlight of the summer, and I will, I hope, eventually get around to posting a few pictures. Friday Danny and I will be leaving for a week-long camp for kids with cancer and their families, and I am looking forward to that. I am a bit concerned about leaving Cecily to house-sit, but I believe she will be fine - just overactive mother nerves.
And, best of all from the SP perspective, I have actually started something of an exercise program. I hope I can keep it up. Yesterday Cecily and I walked two miles together (took us over an hour, so it was a very slow pace, but it was what we could do). And today I finally got finished mowing the entire lawn - in the scorching heat. I didn't think it would be that hard, but the heat made it much worse than usual. I definitely got my heart rate up. I also managed to get a sunburn in spite of sunscreen. Not too bad, fortunately, just enough to make my face feel hot. :-(
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
I have been lazy about posting stuff lately. There has actually been a fair amount of stuff happening, almost none of it related to my efforts to get in better shape and lose weight, but still...
On June 20th, I took Danny to one of the activities the local American Cancer Society offers for kids with cancer. This one was Wrangler Day at Rio Cibolo Ranch. RC Ranch is an entertainment ranch, which is to say that it is a real ranch, but at the same time, they are in the entertainment business. Groups of people come to see a ranch, go on a hay ride, see and feed cattle and other animals, eat Texas barbecue, etc., etc.
This event was just for kids with cancer. I was sorry that more kids didn't come, because it was so much fun, and they really treated the kids well. Danny was reluctant to come initially, but my feeling is that we should take advantage of opportunities to have fun and meet other kids with cancer - something we haven't really had much success at.
It was a very full day. We went on a hay ride, got to feed and pet a variety of animals (longhorns, beefalo, buffalo, llamas) - and sit on a longhorn! - play a lot of games (ping pong, shuffleboard, skee ball, horseshoes, etc.), eat a catered lunch, ride on the river, eat s'mores (huge, hot campfire, which was a bit incongruous in June in the middle of a hot day), play bingo, paint goblets to make a fancy chandelier...
Danny's favorite was the trick roper. He really wanted a picture with this kind and generous man, and he obliged.
There was also a sing-along with two talented young people who were both survivors of childhood cancer. That was a very nice message of hope for the families there.
By the end of the day, Danny and I were pretty tired. We had a lot of fun, but, as is unfortunately usual, he didn't really get to know any of the other kids with cancer. However, I was a happy mother when he said afterwards, "I had SO much fun!" I hadn't heard him say that in a very, very long time.
I am even willing to show a very embarrassing picture of myself. Danny begged me to get up on the long horn, and I finally said I would. Then he just *had* to take a picture. Anything to make him smile.
Sunday, July 06, 2014
I recently found a new doctor, and I must say that I am very pleased with him. I have had an oncologist and surgeon since 2007, when I was diagnosed with cancer, but I haven't had a primary-care doctor. A few years back, a friend referred me to one, but, in the end, neither she nor I was terribly happy with him. He was a pretty nice guy, and I'm sure a competent doctor, but I draw the line at a doctor who has the office staff send you a letter telling you your test results. I mean, I understand he is busy, but that's a bit too much.
So I wanted to find someone else. I had heard pretty good things about this guy. The same friend who left the other doctor had switched to him, and my pastor goes to him, plus one of my oncologist's nurses. That sounded like a good enough recommendation.
When I went to the first appointment, he took a thorough history and had blood drawn for a whole lot of tests. He also referred me for a colonoscopy, about which I am not at all happy, but that's another story. The follow-up appointment last week was to discuss the results.
I wasn't thrilled to find out that my thyroid hormone is low. Not low enough to require treatment at this point, he said, but when I asked if there is anything natural one can do to increase it, he said no. I am going to research that myself, though.
In addition, my levels of omega threes are about half of what they should be. Since I take quite a lot of Krill Oil, I was unhappy about that. Well, it turns out that I should be taking 2000 mgs. of omega threes, not 2000 mgs. of the Krill Oil. Yikes! At the strength of the oil I have been taking, to get 2000 mgs. of omega threes, I would have to take twelve capsules per day! There are only 60 capsules in the bottle - it would last five days. And they are pretty expensive pills to start with. I need to find stronger and cheaper pills.
On the plus side, my Vitamin D levels are good, so that at least was a relief to me. I take a Vitamin D supplement and try to get a little sun at least occasionally, before I put on the sunscreen.
Dr. F recommends a niacin supplement, because my levels of 'sticky' cholesterol are very high. That I don't mind doing. I just hope it works. He also recommends exercise to get my inflammation down. Big surprise there. But I really haven't found anything I like well enough to stick to it long term. With my bad hip, I simply can't run. :-( Walking is OK, but it gets pretty boring for me.
One other marker I am not familiar with is my coagulation genetics, which came out as intermediate risk genotypes. To improve my situation, he recommends that I take methylfolate, which, again, since it is a vitamin supplement, I don't at all mind doing.
Also on the plus side are my blood sugar numbers. They are very good. Also my liver function and kidney function look pretty good. My CBC is all fine. And after looking for so many months at Danny's terrible numbers, it seems strange to see a CBC with every single number in the normal range.
All this isn't too interesting, but I am very pleased to have a doctor who is really doing a thorough evaluation and telling me what I can do to improve things. He did also say that what he does is to try to prevent heart disease and stroke, but that in my case, what is really of concern is my risk of cancer. I do know that, but of course many of the same changes to diet and lifestyle that can lower the risk of heart disease can also lower the risk of cancer.
What makes me so happy is that he takes the time to do all this. My previous doctor didn't. And now, I do have my work cut out for me.
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