Rolling Thunder

It’s been a while since I posted. Quite a while, actually.

I didn’t have plans to post now but I’m sitting here in the dining room with an earache and there’s a steady rain and a low rumble of thunder that doesn’t seem to stop. It makes me think about things and reminds me of when I was a kid, watching storms with my family, or the amazing storms that would happen out at DA’s cabin.

I’m doing well. Lots of stuff has happened over the last while and I’ve had some ups and downs but all in all, things are trending upwards. The novelty of being stuck at home because of covid has long worn off but I’m keeping my brain and hands quite active. Even did some welding a week or two ago – first time in ages. Then I actually went outside and barbecued supper for the first time in two years? Even did it twice this past week.

My hands are working again and I had my last followup with the surgeon a few days ago. My hands are weaker than they were before but I can use my fingers again and doing things like soldering or welding or picking up a screw aren’t frustrating ordeals anymore.

Another thing that’s helping my hands stay steady is that between Dr W and I have reduced my medications further and I haven’t suffered any ill effects. I also think that I’m starting to shed some of the weight I put on since I got sick. I’m not counting on it but I wouldn’t complain if it happened.

Tried to get in touch with WG to see how he’s doing but haven’t had much luck. That’s too bad – I miss him quite a bit. I miss a lot of people, actually. Family, friends, even people I don’t normally think about like the hairdresser I used to go to. I hope everyone is okay.

Still raining, still thundering. I think I’ll end this post here and go sit and enjoy the storm as much as I can.

Stay safe.

Time Is Really Getting Away On Me

Song: “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Several

I don’t know if it’s the whole “being stuck in the house” thing or what, but time has pretty much ceased to have any meaning to me. It’s been two weeks since I got that surgery done, and three weeks since I posted last. On the good side, things have been moving along not too badly.

The surgery went pretty well – it was the second run at this particular problem, and the surgeon was much more positive about things this time. On the downside, I ended up having to stay overnight for observation because my O2 levels were lower than they were comfortable with. They’ve always been low – I don’t know how many times I’ve been told, “okay, I need you to take a few deep breaths” by nurses once they put that little clip on my finger – but aside from really wanting to get home and being uncomfortable, I was happy they were being more careful than less careful about things.

During the night at the hospital, I had a pretty bad nightmare (tent) and ended up wandering over to the nurse station to ask if it was okay if I stood out there for a few minutes because being in the light and around a living human being helps me a lot. To my surprise, she was FANTASTIC about it and went out of her way to help me calm down and talk to me while I fought off a panic attack.

So yeah, that’s pretty much the big news… and that happened weeks ago. Oh, Zombie Mark has made a few appearances lately. He hasn’t done anything particularly dumb but he’s fallen asleep on the couch and woke J up with his snoring (sorry about that).

As usual, I’ve been doing my best to keep busy. I’ve actually been making progress with some projects and have even finished a couple of them.

Went to do some laundry just before I started writing this post and right after I hit start on the machine, J came downstairs and brought this to my attention:

Brown water running into sink

*sigh*

Some of the covid restrictions have been relaxed around here so tomorrow’s going to be a good day – going to have a visit!

One last thing – this is my first post on this site that I haven’t written up in a word processor first and gone over repeatedly before posting. Hopefully it’s not full of errors…

Stay safe.

Things Have Improved

Song: “Wasn’t That A Party” by The Irish Rovers

Mood: 6.5

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Few

In the days since my last post, things have improved markedly. As I mentioned, Dr H called later on the same day and told me she’d spoken to the surgeon and got me an appointment the following day. I was tired and quite worried, but J was allowed to come in and ask the surgeon questions, and after the appointment I felt a lot better about things. Non-essential surgey is starting to open back up around here, and the surgeon asked her assistant to get me in as soon as a slot was available at one of the hospitals.

That helped a lot. This will be the second run at fixing this particular problem, and the thought of waiting another two years was really bothering me.

Other good things have happened. FA was in touch and told me about some new hobby stuff that piqued my interest and got me excited about something, which helped drag me out of my funk. My mother-in-law was in town and visited twice over the weekend. It was really, really great to see her and hang out and chat. I don’t know if she’s much of a hug person or not but I gave her two very big hugs. Hopefully I didn’t squeeze too hard…

But two big things happened yesterday that also helped to improve my mood enormously. The first was that the surgeon’s office called and my surgery is scheduled for a little more than a week from now! Part of me still can’t believe it, but the surgeon’s office emailed the paperwork and I printed it up so I can actually feel it in my grubby little hands. What a relief!

The second is that we got a notice from the bank stating that our mortgage is finally paid off! I can’t really take any credit for that – J is the financial mastermind here and did all the math and work shuffling money and balancing budgets over the years – but between where I’m at with my disability pension and where J’s at with her office being shut down in November, not having that monthly payment hanging over our heads is… well, it’s pretty amazing. I am hoping that it will have a big effect on the scenarios I worry about where we lose the house and have nowhere to go.

So yes, things have improved a lot. I am still upset about Dr H leaving but I certainly wasn’t her only patient and there must be a bunch of other people in the same boat as I am. They’ll get by and so will I.

I have a Dr W appointment this week, and on Friday morning I have an ultrasound that the liver specialist requested. I’m not looking forward to either event. Dr W is going to ask why Dr H leaving upsets me, which will also upset me. He’s also going to ask what I want to do with my medications. I’d really like to reduce the quetiapine again but I don’t know if right now is the best time to do that.

Aside from that, I plan to get in a bunch of project stuff and see if I can cross one or two more things off my list. We’ll see how it goes.

I also want to get Dr H a card and maybe some kind of gift. What kind of gift do you give a fantastic doctor who dramatically improves your quality of life and may have even saved it?

Stay safe.

Never Should’ve Got Out Of Bed

Song: N/A

Mood: 5

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Few

Lacking any other way to put it, today has not been good.

I often joke about how my health seems to be a zero-sum game. Last week, I got a call from the liver specialist and she was happy to report that my liver numbers have all gone back into the normal range (all except for one but it’s just slightly off and they’re not worried about it). Adding coffee to my daily routine was the only change I’d made, but the difference it seems to have made is fantastic. Easy, cheap, a little disgusting, but it got results. So that was great.

But like I said, my health seems to be a zero-sum game.

I had an appointment with my GP (Dr H) this morning for a pre-surgery physical. I went to bed early, got up early, but just as we were on the way out the door, one of the garbage bags we were taking outside tore and dumped garbage on the inside landing. So yeah, that was an omen.

Got to my appointment on time, got into the room, and was met by a medical student. He was pretty good, no problems there. I mentioned some concerns I’ve been having with the upcoming surgery, he took notes. Then he left and came back with Dr H. I explained my concerns, she had me hop up on the table… and the two of them did some prodding and poking. What they found was not great and will probably change the approach to my next surgery quite a bit. I also have to start taking my temperature regularly and be ready to zip over to the emergency room in the event I have a fever.

That was pretty upsetting, since I’ve been trying extremely hard to do everything the doctors have been telling me. But then came the little toothpick flag on the shit sandwich my day was rapidly becoming:

Dr H is leaving. She’s not moving to another practice or anything like that, so I can’t follow her around town. I think she’s going to be spending more time teaching at the university. Which is really good for her, but sucks very, very badly for me. When I first met Dr H, I was barely able to utter a whole sentence, and I would sit there, staring at the floor and shaking while she patiently tried to pry what it was I was trying to say out of me. She’s been very patient and helpful with my various physical and mental health issues, and she has truly been one of the pillars of my recovery.

She said she had two doctors in mind who she thought would be a good fit, and she was going to sit down and talk to them about me before she handed me over to whomever ends up being my next GP. She assured me I wasn’t going to be without a doctor, and she assured me I’d always have a doctor at the clinic I visit. She said I was one of her favourite patients (which I’m sure she’s saying to a bunch of people) and said she wanted me to hear it from her instead of being surprised by a letter (which I’ll be getting sometime soon).

I didn’t know what to say. I thanked her profusely, wished her luck, and when the two of them left and I was sitting in the office by myself, I had a good cry before texting J and letting her know I was on my way back out. Then I cried in the car on the way home, then went back to bed and cried for a while before I could feel things starting to spiral into panic so I took some PRNs and did my exercises as best as I could before falling asleep while clinging to J like a drowning man holding onto a log in the middle of a river.

J woke me up a couple of hours later. Dr H was on the phone, she contacted the surgeon I was getting the paperwork done for today and somehow got me an appointment with the surgeon tomorrow afternoon. So once again she proved how great a doctor she is and how hard it’s going to be for another doctor to have the understanding and do all the footwork she does.

This is really hard. Today is not a good day.

Stay safe.

So… 2021

Song: N/A

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Several

Here we are. A week into 2021. I hope the holiday season went well for you and your family and friends.

I don’t like talking about politics in this blog, but I’ll be honest – I’m still gobsmacked by the news and video that came out of the US yesterday. That’s not the kind of stuff one expects from the “leader of the free world”. It doesn’t matter who or which party did what and when. What happened yesterday was awful and those responsible for it should be prosecuted.

Yesterday’s events reminded me that I need to step back from the news. I got to bed a little after 3AM because I was glued to my computer screen, watching the (extremely boring) feed of the Electoral College certification. Why? Because part of me was still feeling ill from what had happened earlier in the day, part of me needed to see it officially finished, and part of me was certain that something else was going to happen. The later it got, the worse I felt (which is what happens when I stay up too late), and I didn’t do myself any favours by staring at the screen for hours after J went to bed.

So… I will be taking some steps to back away from some aspects of the news and embrace the little bubble I enjoy at home.

But I have to be careful about how much I do that, too. I went to the clinic the other day for an appointment and then picked up some groceries on the way home and even though it was very quiet out, I was quite uneasy driving and bring out – particularly in the store. Nothing bad at all happened. Things were just more difficult than they were a while ago. That’s got me a little worried that with all these video and phone appointments and not being able to go anywhere, I’m slipping a bit. That would be a real letdown too, because before all of the lockdowns started happening, I had big plans to go visit friends and family. Now I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do it when things start opening up again (whenever that may be).

I’m still doing my best to keep my mind and hands occupied during the day. I still have a bunch of projects on the go, and I’m actually getting some done, too. J and I are playing computer games and watching shows together, which is fun and a good distraction from other things. I’m expecting to get a letter shortly that will give me a surgery date; once the surgery is done and healed up, I will be able to get outside and enjoy moving around quite a bit more.

I’ve made a lot of progress with the whole coffee thing. J’s been a huge help with that, and while I still need to wait for it to cool down a bit before I can drink it, it doesn’t make me want to gag anymore. And I’m only adding two of those Sugar Twin packets to it. No milk and none of those fancy flavoured creamers. I’ve done some more observing and while I thought for a bit that it helped get me going in the morning, I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. No matter.

Tomorrow, FA is swinging by for a quick visit and to exchange baggies of electronic parts. We’re both working on things and are at the point where she has parts I need and I have some she needs. Don’t worry – no reason to call the COVID cops on us – we’re going to stay outside and a good distance apart.

This time of year can be difficult for people even when things are quiet and there aren’t restrictions placed on where we can go. Please remember that if you’re having a difficult time that there are people out there who want to help you and want you to feel better. Don’t be afraid to visit or contact a hospital or crisis line if you need to, and if you’re asking yourself whether you need to, then you probably should.

If you are in Canada, you can call or visit:

– Your local hospital

– Canadian Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566

– Kid’s Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868

If you are in the United States, you can call or visit:

– Your local hospital

– National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255

If you live in another region, visit your local hospital. You may also find help at the International Association for Suicide Prevention Crisis Centre List at http://iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/

There may also be other helpful information and links on the Resources page.

You are not alone. You deserve to feel better, you are worth it, and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

Stay safe.

I Feel Busy But I’m Not Sure If I Actually Am

Song: “Soul Bossa Nova” by Quincy Jones

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Several

The last while has been interesting. I think I’ve been keeping pretty busy but I don’t have a lot to show for it. A couple of my projects are waiting for parts or consumables, which is a little more difficult now because the covid rules have us locked down pretty tight, and I’ve been having more trouble than usual motivating myself to start on something and then maintain focus once I’ve started. But there’s a lot going on, so my mind has been dancing all over the place I think.

I was also in a bit of a down for a while there, too. A friend of the family passed away, J’s job is coming to an end in two days, one of my uncles was back in the hospital with an infection and another had another tumour. The surgery I had back in September has undone itself so I need to get yet _another_ scan and _another_ surgery. My right hand isn’t working quite properly but I’m not sure if it’s because I’m still getting used to it after the elbow surgery, if I’m sleeping on it wrong, if it’s just going to take a while to get back to normal, or if there’s something else going on. A buddy of mine’s kid ran away from home a little while ago and is now spending most of his time high. I’m getting really tired of being fat. I’m really tired of people who think that wearing a mask is tantamount to to slavery. People who know me would agree that I’m a hermit, but even a hermit needs to get out and stretch their legs and say hi to people once in a while. And it doesn’t help that it gets dark at 4PM now, either.

But there’ve been good things, too. Both of my uncles are out of the hospital, and the one who had the tumour had it successfully lasered away so he’s already been back out at his cottage hunting with his daughter. I know I mentioned J’s job in the previous paragraph, but with all of the work she’s done lately and the ridiculousness that’s been happening there over the last while, I’m going to be very happy when it’s all done and she doesn’t need to worry about email or getting a text from someone asking her for help or to do something that’s not her job but she’ll do it anyway because nobody else can/will help and she’s a better person than I am.

I’m worried about what comes next but at the same time I’m kind of excited. J and I get along very well at home so that’s not a concern, but she’s concerned about what her next steps should be and there’s not much I can do for her except be here and be a sounding board.

Speaking of the hermit thing, I’m a little concerned about almost everyone I know because of how the lockdown is affecting things. I feel bad for the restaurants, stores, coffee shops, and other social places like concert halls and museums – once all this stuff is done and over with, the commercial and social landscape is going to look a lot different around here. But it’s not just the stores. My parents are climbing the walls at their house because they usually hang out with friends and go for walks and wander around stores. My mother-in-law can’t hang out with her quilt group or visit people. FA and DM can’t play any of their sports or enjoy their get-togethers with friends for brunch. J’s aunt can’t hang out with her friends or just go to a book store and wander around (which is something J really enjoys too). It’s just crappy all around, but it’ll get better.

I miss my friends, too. FA and DM, DA, WG… lots of folks out there I’d like to be able to visit with.

It also sucks that FA and I can’t hang out in person to shoot the breeze, eat burritos, and work on projects (and play with her dog). We’ve talked about setting up a video chat to hammer some project things out, and that would be good, but there’s nothing quite like arguing across a table covered in parts you can just pick up and wave in the air for emphasis. 🙂

Which reminds me… I had a phone appointment with the liver specialist a week or two ago. My liver is enlarged and its numbers aren’t quite right so my GP referred me (which I think is great). So since this was basically the introductory office visit (but over the phone), she asked me a bunch of questions about my habits and what was going on. Do I take drugs? Only the ones I’m prescribed. Do I smoke? Nope. Do I drink alcohol? Nope. Then: do I drink coffee.

Coffee? Merciful Neptune, no – that stuff’s disgusting!

I was feeling good about having another reason to not drink coffee when the doctor said that she wanted me to start drinking between one and three cups a day; apparently there is some correlation between drinking coffee and a reduction in liver damage from several causes.

The next day I had a phone appointment with my dietician. I asked her if there was anything that had the benefits of coffee but wasn’t disgusting. When I told her why I was asking, she said, “What? Seriously?”

A couple of days later, I had a phone appointment with Dr C. She asked me what was new (she’s a big proponent of making sure your body is ok along with your mind) and when I told her that I was supposed to start drinking coffee, she said, “What? Seriously?”

I spoke to my mom on the phone. When the liver and coffee stuff came up, she said, “What? Seriously?”

So yeah… J has been helping me get used to the stuff – I don’t like it because I don’t like hot drinks and I don’t like the taste of coffee at all – and we’re making some progress. I’m up to two cups a day now and I’m making progress and don’t feel like gagging while I’m drinking it now. Or not as bad, anyway. I need to let it cool down a bit before I can drink it, too. But there are some good things to me getting used to drinking some coffee during the day: there’s the whole liver thing, it also seems to help me finish rebooting faster in the mornings, and if I actually get to the point where I can tolerate it then there will be many more places where I can get free drinks. I was always the designated driver when I went to bars with friends, and coffee was always free but I had to pay for pop. Which is dumb. But there are coffee urns everywhere, so if I’m ever thirsty I can just stop in at a car dealership or a store or an accountant’s office or a faculty lounge at a university (one of the benefits of being old).

Otherwise, J and I have been watching more episodes of Bob’s Burgers (which is a hoot) and we’ve been playing Neverwinter online together. I think we spend more time talking and making fun of stuff than we do playing, but I think that’s part of what makes it so fun to hang around with her.

Anyway, this post has already gone on for a lot longer than I’d originally intended. I should try to get back into the habit of writing smaller posts more often than an enormous one every few weeks.

Stay safe.

I Haven’t Ran That Much In YEARS

Song: “Skyliner” by Charlie Barnet

Mood: 8

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Several

Today was pretty fun. FA had an appointment in our part of town and DM was at work, so I got to do something I’ve never done before: dog sit!

I was a little nervous beforehand – our house is not what you’d call dog-proof, and I’m not even sure how to dog-proof some things, but J and I moved around and tidied up what we figured was some common sense stuff and I would be supervising the pup the entire time so we weren’t too worried.

FA stopped by with the dog and a brief hello, then hopped back in her car and zipped off to her appointment. I felt a little bad for the pup because she stood staring at the door her person had just left from.

But then I got out the treats and everything was fine. I showed her around the house and then we sat for a while in the living room. J and I bought a toy for her yesterday and when I gave it to her she didn’t quite get it until I made it squeak, then she was all over it and it lasted about 14 seconds before she’d already started pulling it apart and I took it away. Then we sat and talked for a little bit and she plopped down and leaned against me while I gave her scritches.

Then we went outside. I kept her on her long leash at first because while our yard is fenced, I’m not sure if it’s dog-escape-proof. Our yard isn’t large but we went over every last square millimeter of it, sniffing away at all kinds of stuff, only pausing in that to jump up and give chase to a squirrel.

Then I got her attention with a fake chew bone (it had peanut butter in it) and I spent time scritching her ears again while she played with that. By this point I was feeling more comfortable about taking off her leash because just crinkling the treat bag slightly would get her attention instantly and she’d trot back over to me and give me puppy dog eyes.

Who’s a good doggy? My goodness, who’s a good doggy?

Picture of dog sitting on the grass, giving me puppy dog eyes for a treat.

I AM. NOW HAND THE TREATS OVER AND NOBODY GETS HURT.

Then – for reasons that escape me right now – I thought it would be a great idea to play chase-catch-wrestle, so there I went, running around the yard like a maniac, waving my arms and making whooping sounds. Any neighbours or people walking by probably think I’ve lost my mind – with the fence, they wouldn’t be able to see the dog – only my head and arms waving as I ran back and forth around the yard. She was good at keeping up, and I think she enjoyed it because her tail was wagging pretty good. Then I’d heave myself down to the ground and (gently) wrestle with her for a minute or two, but she mostly just rolled over to get belly rubs, for which I was happy to oblige.

Filled up a little container with water and she drank a bit, then we ran around the yard some more. And some more. And then some more. It was good fun, and I haven’t ran that much or that fast in a loooong time. FA and DM have been working on some commands, so I figured I’d see if we could try that, too. “High-five” ended up with me getting knocked on my butt by two paws in my face, but she’s getting pretty great at “sit”.

And what fun is looking after someone’s pet (or child, for that matter) if you can’t spoil it? I was splitting the treats in half but we still went through quite a few of them, but it was for a good reason – we practiced catching treats out of the air. She let the first couple of them bounce off her head but then she started to get the hang of it.

I’d had several plans for activities but they kind of all went out the window when she seemed to enjoy scampering around outside. And after what seemed like only half an hour, J and FA showed up at the same time and the three (four) of us had a good little chat outside. We showed off the tricks we worked on, ran around a little bit more, then FA and I took the pup on a short walk around the block before they got into their car and headed out.

It was fun! I’ve never done that before, but I’d be happy to do it again sometime. I’m going to be sore tomorrow but hey – a bit of exercise for an old fat guy isn’t a bad thing, right? I also really appreciated DM and FA trusting me with their dog, and J (as always) was fantastic with boosting my confidence and helping me prepare for a little furry guest.

There’s other stuff going on too, but it will have to wait for another post – I just looked at the time and I REALLY need to get to bed.

Stay safe.

To My American Friends

Today is going to be a strange day. I hope you and your family and friends all get to where you need to be safely, and you can spend your evening comfortable at home doing something that makes you happy.

Stay safe.

I Hate Halloween

Well… it’s that time of year again. We usually don’t get many trick-or-treaters on good years, and this isn’t shaping up to be a particularly good year so I think both J and I will be hiding in the basement with the lights off this time.

I feel bad for the kids who are going to miss out because of all the stuff going on, but I will be a happy man if everything’s done by 7PM and the streets are quiet.

Stay safe.

A Nice Long Weekend

Song: N/A

Mood: 7

Nightmares: 0

Ghosts: Few

This has been a good weekend so far. J has today and tomorrow off, and it’s been great to just hang out, relax, and get some things done around the house.

One of the things that’s been on our list for a while is the outdoor light above the front door. It’s got a little brain in it so that it turns on at night, but only runs at half brightness until it detects motion, at which point it goes to full brightness for a while. Well, a couple of months ago we noticed that it was doing this weird flickering thing so we turned it off. Not a big deal in the summer, but as it’s getting dark by 7PM now, having an outdoor light would be good. We did some online window shopping but didn’t find anything we liked, so we took the lamp down, ripped the guts out of it, and then put it back up as a regular lamp that we turn on/off with a switch. Might get one of those extra screw-in light detectors and see if it can turn on automatically again but at least we’re not in a big hurry to find something now. So that’s another item off the list.

With the days getting shorter and some of the other things going on, I’ve been feeling a little down lately. Had an appointment with Dr C on Thursday and it was one of the more difficult ones I’ve had in a while. Sometimes it’s easy to talk to her, while other times it feels like every word is snarled in a bunch of tree roots and I only have a butter knife to cut them free with. Four and a half years in, though, the sessions are still very important and I’m lucky to have Dr C as my therapist.

J and I decided to see if there were any new computer games we could play together and we ended up trying Neverwinter. It’s certainly not new, but it’s new to us. I think we’re both enjoying it, although it’s a little confusing in places (particularly when trying to figure out where you’re supposed to go). We’ve played Neverwinter Nights and NWN 2, so the fantasy-style game isn’t new. I think the most fun part of the game is when we talk about and mock the bad guys, particularly the big nasty looking ones who howl and take forever to fall over after you beat them.

We’re still watching Bob’s Burgers, too. I’ve been finding it getting funnier as the show goes on. We’re on season four but there hasn’t been much of a lull yet, although the first season was a little rough. There’ve been a lot of places where we’ve had to pause and rewind a couple of times because we were laughing so hard.

Otherwise, there isn’t a huge amount of stuff going on right now. This coming weekend J and I will be going into her work to sort out a bunch of stuff and load up our little truck to haul stuff to a couple of charities and recycling depots. If I remember correctly, the following week is going to be another appointmentpalooza. So I’ll enjoy the quiet calm we have going on right now.

Stay safe.