Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Blood Red

My hair always changes. It was very, very long, then short, then sort of inbetween. Now it's about shoulder length, but last summer it was really short. (St likes short hair. Weird, for a man, yes?)

Last summer also found me with skin cancer on my scalp. It seems I have a creative cowlick right where my hair parts on top. The center of it must have been exposed to sun way too many times. I had the spot tested, then removed, then removed again because he didn't get it all. And this was from a plastic surgeon. I love the guy, so I tolerated a second removal. Then a cyst grew in the same spot and I had that removed. Four surgeries on top of my head. It doesn't get any better than that, does it?

Why am I mentioning this? Well, it seems that last summer I allowed the child to take a very bad picture of me when I came home after the first cancer removal. I allowed it because I had so much blood in my hair that I liked the color. I was on my way to dinner at Andiamo (is that a national chain or local? I am not sure, but it has really great food!) and I was afraid to subject a brand new surgery site to shampoo, so I went with all the blood in my hair. The color really was outstanding.

At another time I was fiddling with my new Android phone and decided to actually stick that picture of myself into Google Talk. I think that picture is now available of me any where in Google. Blogger is part of Google. Therefore, ya'all can see my blood red hair.

I need to change that picture. Sadly, I don't have a better one. Yet.

Good news: I just found out that I am going to get my favorite whine! I am going to Florida in a few weeks! Life is good after all. I haven't been any where since February and I am really, really stir crazy for travel. Martha, where are you?? I will be not that far from you!

Thank you to those who have let me know I was missed. It felt very good! I plan to catch up on everyone else as soon as I can! Did I hear that Remo retired finally? Oh, my. What else have I missed?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Good and Bad

In the past, I had done entries listing good and bad situations. They were fun to write, and hopefully entertaining to read. However, this won't be one of them.

Has anyone noticed I was gone? I didn't really want to disappear into the ether. I just could not bring myself to write about what happened.

The light of my life was taken away. Molly died not long after my last entry. It was not from her Addison's Disease, which was always well under control. Her blindness had no bearing. I don't like to talk about it much any more, but it was medical and I miss her so much every day that surely some part of her lingers with me.

I do not mean I have a shrine in my house and I cry at the drop of a hat. I mean if I see a squirrel run across the yard I might smile thinking about how much Molly loved to chase squirels. She loved meeting other dogs and would have been great friends with Chester, the new beagle puppy who moved in around the corner. Chester has Molly's unusual voice, and I laugh whenever I hear him.

Baby, my other beagle, has been an absolute delight. She always lived in Molly's shadow. Any other dog would have - Molly's personality was much bigger than she herself was. Baby has turned out to be quite a lady and minds her manners much more than I would have anticipated. We have become very close, and I am glad we are having time now to just ourselves.

Molly sent me Bubba. My daughter adopted a Jack Russell puppy just before Molly died, and named him Boston. He was Bubba to me from the first minute I saw him. I know Molly sent him - he even has her facial colorings. He has her large personality and can try the patience of the most devout saint. He can drive me batty, but bottom line, Bubba was sent by Molly and we have a bond. Luckily Bubba and Baby are good buds. Molly liked him too, for the few times she saw him.

I visited ST for a weekend every month at least for over a year. We had a lot of fun driving all over VA and a few neighboring states. I even had a short break from my vertigo and was able once to ride in the car 10 hours home with him. Earlier this year he left his job there and moved back here. He found a new job here that he seems delighted with. The bad part is I haven't been out of town since he came back. The good part is that with all those little trips I finally was cured of my PreTravel Freak Mode Dance and can pack and get out of the house with little or no fanfare. As far as flying, it got easier once I realized I could pack a couple of 3 oz bottles in my little baggie that I had to hand over to TSA for inspection. Those bottles would contain Grey Goose. ST and I are as close as ever.

My vision is all fixed now. Both eyes have had cataract surgery and my vision is 20/20 for reading and 20/20 for distance. No problems other than some loss of night vision. I had excellent night vision before, so this has been an adjustment. Nevertheless, for someone who used to be legally blind without correction (could not read the big E on the chart or sometimes even find the chart) this is absolutely amazing. It was worth sleeping on the floor because I was not allowed to lift Molly onto the bed for a week after surgery. Her blindness caused her to lose her ability to jump onto the bed.

Let's see, medical issues. Hm. After seeing 3 or 4 neurologists and who can remember how many other doctors, I finally managed to figure out myself what caused my vertigo. Amazing, isn't it? The sleeping pills I took for 25 or 30 years were the actual culprit. Not one doctor ever mentioned the possibility that medication could have caused it. The vertigo became quite unbearable in time. I had a short break when I stopped the sleeping pills and changed to the new sleep med that is a liquid. It's called Xyrem. It also gave me vertigo, but since the stuff is a liquid, I could adjust the dosage very carefully, so when the vertigo got worse, I could reduce the dose. Two weeks later, I would get a touch of relief. But finally I could not take it any more. I totally stopped it two months ago.

Within a few weeks, I noticed changes. I was no longer dehydrated. My vertigo lessened, but very, very slowly. The extremely loud tinnitus did not go away, sadly. (Also caused by the Xyrem.) My mouth was no longer dry and it turned out I did not have an auto-immune disease - I finally insisted it be tested about a year ago. I think the problem was just due to dryness. Oddly, my hair color holds longer now. It was fading rather quickly while I took the Xyrem. No idea why. Oh, and I don't sleep. Well, I expected that.

Bad changes - all my fibro symptoms came back at once. Much pain from that, but I am getting used to it again. Then my restless leg syndrome came back - I had completely forgotten I had it and was surprised that the Xyrem had not only cured the fibro but also the RLS. Odd.

Now that my vertigo is so much improved that I call it vertigo light, I am getting out more. Driving is no longer a terrifying challenge. I can walk without having to fight against fear of falling or having to guess where the floor is or which way is up. I even bought a bicycle and rode it once before it got too cold out. In the spring, I plan to start jogging again.

Between Molly's loss and the vertigo, mostly the vertigo, I pretty much had holed up here at home and read most of the time. I did finally branch out to watching movies with Netflix, but I still have no desire to watch television. I have watched some series through Netflix - Dexter, Bones, and True Blood come to mind, but I have also read all the books those series are based on. I never did stop my long walks, but they were quite a challenge at times.

ST and I walked a lot in VA. Once weekend we went to the west side of the state to the Shanandoah state park and walked a bit on the Appalachian Trail. That was exciting, especially when we spotted four bears in a tree. ST seemed confident to walk under the tree, but why not? He only had to outrun me. Luckily, the bears stayed put. Another weekend we drove down to Virginia Beach. That was wonderful! I loved VA and miss it.

Sometime we walked on a trail that was just lovely. Once I got stung by a wasp right through my shirt. I wasn't sure if I was going to have a reaction or not, and ST had no idea what to do. I reminded him we had passed a fire station a few miles back, and suggested he drag me there if necessary. Our walks on the trails were often 12 miles long, and in 90+ degree heat. I miss those walks. We have the same rails to trails here, but for some reason I really liked the one we used there the best. Maybe because it often wandered near civilization and we could find real bathrooms?

I hope I am forgiven for my long, long absence. Somehow I just wasn't able to put the words down about Molly. It makes it so final.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Molly's Big Adventure

Molly is 100% blind - no shadows, no lights, nothing at all, and it's entirely permanent. I need to state this before I describe her Big Adventure today. Molly has always been a creative and busy little girl all her life, but I figured some of her habits were going to not be a concern any longer after the blindness. I felt guilty for how I used to get so angry at her for getting on the kitchen counter and eating food - how does a beagle get up there? Plus, I was always worried about her breaking a leg or something jumping down.

This morning I had to leave early for a hair appointment. I have changed my hairstyle. It's no longer shoulder length or even close - it's pretty short for me. I have 3 different colors of highlights put in, and some of my own left untouched. I gave up on aiming for my own natural auburn (which had natural highlights and lots of colors, but is fading and graying, sad to say), and decided to go with much more contrast. I now have strangers stopping me and telling me how pretty the color looks - much like my life was when I was younger with the auburn, except it's no longer long enough for strangers to grab and wrap their hands in. That used to creep me out, and yes, it did happen often. Recently my brother said he went through it, too. (I think he liked it more, lol!)

When I got home, I noticed first thing that two cupboard doors were open. That generally only happens when I am late for a dog meal - Molly will prepare her own meal. She will open a cupbaord and chew up a Tupperware dish that smells like it had food in it, or grab a plastic or paper bag that was used for food at some point. Maybe demolish a candle, chew up a pen, rip a button off my jammies, whatever she feels is appropriate. I aim to be on time for dog meals. I wasn't even close to being late today, but it's slightly possible that I did forget to give them a little milkbone on the way out. It was early, I was tired, and I can't remember.

Upon getting further into the kitchen, I found a chewed up box for holding garbage bags, two bags on the floor, one of the pull-out shelves for the lower cupboards was open, the lid was off the cake pan that held 3-4 dozen cookies last night, and half a loaf of bread was gone. I must have disturbed her snack, since only maybe a dozen or two cookies were gone, and not the whole loaf of bread.

Just in case it wasn't Molly this time, I carefully felt the bellies of both dogs. No question. Molly is plumped up like a ball park frank, and Baby's little belly was caving in, as usual. For an 8-year old, she has one fine, tight little belly.

How does a blind dog do this? I have no idea. She may have climbed up the pull-out shelf like a stair, but even that might have not been enough - she would have had to climb from there. She might have jumped up on a bar stool and walked across the bar to the rest of the counter, but if she did that, she didn't knock anything over on the way.

Molly seems a bit quiet today. I wonder why? I had to give her the monthly shot today, which meant a treat, too - I was worried about that, but I gave her a very small dish of frozen doggy yogurt treat. Molly got her shot of Percorten, I got my shot of Effen Black Cherry so I could do it. Baby got 90% of the dog dinners. Molly got a tiny bit just so she could have her pill in it.

For weeks after my cataract surgery I will have to sleep on the floor with the dogs because Molly can't gauge the distance to jump up on the bed. Maybe I just need to put a dozen cookies on the middle of the bed. I bet then she would get up there on her own!

As far as I know now, my surgery for my right eye will be 1/24. I am happy to hear any horror or good stories regarding anyone else who has already had this done or knows someone who did. I will be getting one of the two multi-focal lenses. They are $2000+ for each lens, but I figure this is my vision for the rest of my life. I want to get it the best I can. They are the Restore and the Crystal lenses. I am leaning towards the Crystal, but I need to discuss it again with my doctor, who is now home from her emergency out of town. I could see her tomorrow, but I am leaving too early for my weekend visit with ST. If I could go tomorrow, I could probably have planned for the surgery to be done 1/17. Dammit.

I was also told that it's possible they will not be able to get optimal vision for me and may have to change to a different lens. I asked if that meant another $4000, and she wasn't sure. I asked her to check, since that is a serious bill for someone living on a pension. Actually she didn't say "optimal." I think she said "You might not be able to see very well."

Once again I will have Fly Eyes. I had plastic thingies to tape over my eyes when I had the Lasik done to protect my eyes while sleeping. With Molly around, I am more than willing to wear Fly Eyes again. She is very creative. Baby is skittish, and moves quickly sometimes, so I need protection from her, too. Toss in my vertigo, and Fly Eyes will be the height of fashion around here.

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone - I hope to get to more journals soon. I have stopped by a few so far, but not nearly enough. I really miss hearing all the news!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Snow weenies

Has it really been since November? I have been trying hard not to whine constantly about my weird medical issues so I figured it was one of those times that if I had nothing good to say, I should just say nothing. However, I feel a whine coming on.

First, to explain the title here - we have had SNOW this year. In addition to probably double our usual horrid snowfall, we have had unusually cold temperatures. Combined, that means snow that hangs around. I don't think we have seen our grass since around Thanksgiving. I am sure it's still under there, some where, just counting the days until our January thaw. Oh wait, this is February. Well, we are sort of melting now. Somewhat. It doesn't mean winter is over or we won't get much more snow, it just means a temporary reprieve with melt.
That picture is my front yard taken a week or so ago. My poor beagles, one blind, have had a horrible time finding a good place to pee. Today we were actually able to get to the backyard. They were very happy to be smelling the prints left by the local herd of deer that runs through our backyard on a regular basis. I was happy to have them pee in the back for once. Even so, the snow was frozen - in some areas even I was able to walk on top of the snow.
Now for my medical whining. After about a zillion doctor visits and enough co-pays to sink my financial ship, I think I know some of what is going on. I lost weight possibly due to silent gastritis. You don't even want to know some of the tests involved to get that diagnosis, but let's say biopsies were involved, so I was rudely invaded. The pseudomonas aeruginosa on my skin is probably always going to be with me. I was finally told, "You are very, very white with very extremely sensitive skin." OK, I can live with it.
The "thrush" turned out not to be thrush. How many doctors did it take to come to this determination? It was only tested once, and the test was negative. Even so, I was treated for thrush by at least 4 doctors. I finally realized that if I saw a doctor in the morning, I was told my mouth was normal. If I went later in the day, I mostly got a confused doctor, treated for thrush, or once told, "I have no idea what this is. Can I take pictures of it? I have never seen anything like this!" Eventually I saw an oral surgeon who told me it's an auto-immune disease and I should just get used to it. Sure, I am now used to the fact that the inside of my mouth is swollen and looks somewhat normal in the morning, then sort of deflates between 1-2 pm daily, leaving the inside of my mouth to pretty much slowly peel off. Usually it doesn't hurt, but it is very, very dry. It could go away for years at a time, but would probably return.
Which auto-immune disease? Oh, one of three. No biopsy needed, he said, because it's not terminal and it doesn't matter which one it is. We can't treat it.
OK. I can live with this, too.
Meanwhile, I was still not hungry, but not really losing more weight. I have been given a new medication for that, but so far we aren't getting along very well. I have cut the dosage in thirds, but probably won't be able to continue with it. I think it's like trying to put out a candle with a fire hose anyway. There was talk of h pylori, but the biopsy must not have shown that. Darn. That is fixable.
Since last summer I have been noticing my vision in my right eye is deteriorating, so I figured I was going to have to give in and get glasses. I had Lasik done 10 years ago, and haven't needed glasses except maybe some readers if I am tired. I can read without them, but I don't ever want to strain my eyes. I went to my ophthalmologist. I do not need glasses. I need cataract surgery.
My reaction? I said NO and left. Within a few days I was laughing at myself. Was I expecting this to heal? I don't think so. When I finally decided to return to get measured for the surgery, my doctor was called out of town that very same morning for an emergency and would not return for almost 2 weeks. She should have been back today. I will get at least the right eye done soon. The left can maybe wait a while, but it also needs to be done. I knew I had a small cataract years ago, but did not even consider that was my problem now. Both eyes? Surprise!
My postponed trip to see ST did happen in January. It was very nice to see him and have a whole weekend together. He did still manage to find some time to use his computer for work, but it wasn't an issue. We have never had that much time together before, and it was great. I learned not to use bubble bath in a jacuzzi.
We are going to meet up again this coming weekend in DC. Last time was just before the inauguration, so we went to a different city in Virginia to avoid the crowds. I had hoped to get my right eye fixed before the trip, but it wasn't to be.
So you snow weenies can stop complaning about a few inches of snow. I admit, I haven't been able to keep up on journals for a long time, but I can just guess that many of you have been upset over a few inches of white stuff on your lawns.
Sorry to be absent so long. Time just flew by! I don't feel poorly so much any more. Just tired. Very, very tired. I can't take my Xyrem for sleep now, but that is a whole separate story. I have vague hopes of being able to use it again, because it's the only thing I have ever taken for sleep that has allowed me to really get deep sleep. I have had to depend again on my old sleeping pills. They at least allow me light sleep.
Let's get ready for my PreTravel Freak Mode Dance that will be starting any moment now. You know I haven't done anything to get ready for this trip yet, and I leave in 4 days.
I have missed all of you and I thank every one of you who took the time to inquire about my health and WTF I have been!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Neither infection of mine is cleared up yet, and with ST needing shoulder surgery very soon, we cancelled the weekend plans :-(

With my current fatigue level, he would have spent a third of the time sleeping, and a third of the time watching me read a book or something equally coma-like.


Just figured you might wonder why I am still so quiet! I will be hopefully perking up soon and running through the new blogs at top speed! I have visited a few. I am not mingling well with the Google Reader.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The same old deja vu all over again....

This was not intended to be a journal about my health and my dogs, but currently that seems to be what is going on in my life. About 2 weeks ago I realized the thrush was back. I had two separate infections - one in my mouth, the thrush, and the pseudomonas aeruginosa, on my skin. The antibiotics for the PA did not cause the thrush, since I had the thrush first. I just wasn't aware of it.

So, wanting to avoid getting to the point where I was before with the thrush (I will kindly skip the details, including the parts that made me gag), I realized I needed to see a doctor. Both my internist and my dermatologist are off on Fridays. The day I needed to be seen was - Friday. I called the internist's office and was advised I could either hope he would call in a script for me without being seen, or I could see a partner. I decided to be a Good Girl and see a partner.

Big mistake. He could not see the thrush and acted like I was nuts. He was rude to me, as if I was there to get drugs or something. I didn't ask for anything other than treatment for infections, and then some sleeping pills, since I need to use them again. He wrote me for 30, and I gave it back, saying I generally get 90 at a time. He said he couldn't give me more, so I politely returned it to him, saying I would wait until I see my internist as I pay the same co-pay for 30 as I do for 90. I left with no help from him at all, but I had to pay a co-pay for the visit. By the following Friday, I had more than visible proof of both infections, but it was after 5 pm. I was not a happy camper.

I had been getting ready to go out, and looked at my arm. I subconsciously thought, "Who bit me?" when I saw a bump on my arm. Then bells went off - I remember that same thought over the summer. Dammit, I knew the pseudomonas was back. The increased vertigo symptoms were more than enough for me to be sure, but the visual lesion just added to it. By Monday, I had probably 20 of them.

I spent the weekend counting lesions of pseudomonas and hoping for a nice juicy one that would be easy to test. I got my wish, sad to say (I still have it, almost a week into treatment). The thrush developed very fast and by Monday there was no question whatsoever. I went to my dermatologist, who seemed mystified that both had come back. Both are opportunistic infections, not likely to bother someone who doesn't have a compromised immune system. He asked me if I have a hot tub. I said no, but I had been in one a year and a half ago. No good, he said. Pool? No, I don't swim. He gave me two medications for the thrush and increased the strength of the antibiotic and increased it to two weeks, instead of one.

Had the partner of my internist only listened to me the week before, I could have avoided the two infections getting worse so very fast. I can taste them both, separately, as I told him, plus I had a definite white area on my lower lip. I was disgusted with the partner and will never see him again no matter what. His attitude downright sucked. I will mention it in detail to my regular internist next time I see him.

In the meantime, my appetite is again gone, as if I didn't lose enough weight fast enough to begin with. I have enough energy to spend about 2 hours a day doing something more strenuous than reading, and that is on a good day. I can't sleep even with a sleeping pill other than in a light sleep. I need my new sleep medication, but won't even begin testing to find out what went wrong for at least a few more weeks. There is still a question regarding the electrolyte imbalance I had that sent me to the hospital. Did the new sleep medication cause it? It's hard to tell, since suddenly so many things are out of whack.

In my disgust, I made an appointment with an infectious disease specialist. I want to know why these infections are recurring in someone who hasn't had a cold in a few decades, who can kiss someone with the flu and not get it, and who can be exposed to almost anything and suffer no effects, but has twice had two opportunistic infections. One of these, probably the pseudomonas, is causing my vertigo, I am pretty sure. It started acting up again pretty heavily when the infection returned, but the partner didn't care at all. Sure, he wasn't trying to move through a world that seems to be on LSD 24/7.

Other than that, Molly finally learned to play a game with me :-). I squeaked a toy for her, and called her to me. She came, and I acted like she won the lottery. Then I moved, and squeaked a toy. She came again - same thing. She enjoyed this as a game. It's hard to find games for a totally blind dog, but I think I finally found one.

In just a short time, I will be traveling. Let's hope my vertigo lets up a bit more so I can walk through an airport and not bounce off the walls. I just want to have a nice, long, languid weekend, with no worries about infections and vertigo. My dermatologist swears I am not contagious. I might believe him.

There has to be a silver lining, yes? Let's see. I can wear a size 4 now, for the first time in 10 years. Molly can no longer get on top of the kitchen counters to get food and risk breaking a leg. I think that is about it. Nothing else seems promising regarding my health and her eyesight getting flushed without warning. Oh yeah, and ST being 500 miles away - that is not a silver lining.

Who is going to change the batteries in my smoke alarms this Christmas? I can't even get on a ladder with vertigo. Nor can I put up a Christmas tree - Molly has no blink reflex and could easily put an eye out on a branch. I can do without a Christmas tree. I can't do without Molly.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


There is some unknown force in the universe that will not allow me to take a shower without either the phone ringing or someone coming to my door. Today I got the routine over with early - I had just taken my clothes off when the phone rang.

It was a car dealership, the one I used to deal with before the salesman became a real dick last time I went to get a new car. I was advised that they have me in their data base, but cannot find my address. I was told to give it to them.

As if that required any thought on my part. "A better idea would be if you remove me from your data base entirely. Thank you."

My shower was pleasant, after that, since I was able to complete it without any interrupting phone calls or door bells.

It has been generally pleasant here. The weather has been in the 70s, with abundant sunshine and no wind. Just lovely, but not anything we ever see in November. It is a lovely thing. I can only imagine what will suddenly follow this reprieve. We will pay. We will pay big time.

Meanwhile, I continue to encourage Molly to walk with us around the block, down the street, and any place I can get her to go. She sometimes just completely STOPS and will not move. I swear she turns into a mule. I don't force the issue, since this is about confidence building as much as exercise. If I were totally blind, I sure wouldn't want to be led around by my neck. Walking around the block can take half an hour, but it happens, several times a day. If we are lucky, we run into someone else walking and Molly just goes all gushy over everyone. Even strangers. I am chopped liver at times like that :P

Otherwise, things are returning to normal. I am feeling pretty good and getting stronger again. It's always been my pattern to heal from anything very fast, but this time I seem to be a bit slower. Law of averages, I guess.

Remo, I am Molly's white cane. Think about it. Who is more pale than I am? Red hair on top? Molly has a good thing going. I am her seeing eye person, her cane, and I pick up her poop, too. It's easy to see who is in charge, isn't it?

I cook for often for the dogs than I do for myself, but I don't have an appetite still. They never lost theirs.

Looks like time to get these poopers on the street. I hope it's not a slow, slow walk - I have a lot of things backed up to get done. I hope I don't have something broken that would mean having my electrolytes messing up on me again. My guess is that I don't.