Monday, January 7, 2019

Mondays

Mondays have become busy days in our new reality. Today both the tech and the nurse came. They were both running late so I was running late, too. We didn't have lunch until 230 pm.

When the nurse checked his vitals, his blood pressure was a little high. He isn't on his bp meds unless his blood pressure goes up. He's having a little more pain that usual, but the opiate takes care of it so far. Sometimes I thinks she does more for me than she does for him. She offers positive reinforcement when I so badly need it. I was in dire need this morning.

Our sons came yesterday and worked in the yard and cleaned the pine needles out of the roof gutters. They are very helpful to us. They've taken over the yard work. They also paid to have heat/air unit replaced, and saw to the repair of the leak in the dining room ceiling. My older son "has a guy" for any repair we need. The sons share the expense of the repairs. The cost of five years of various cancer treatments has pretty much taken what little we had. Cancer for ordinary people can take everthing. The last oral medication that he was put on was $36,000 a month, but I never received a bill for it. I suppose we were given a grant for it. He only took it for one month before everything went to hell. It seems that rich people can pay, I suppose, and those who have less than we do qualify for "assistance" with the expense. Another word for "assistance" is charity. It was demeaning to have to fill out the forms and then be turned down. I think we didn't qualify because they decided there was no need for further medical intervention.

The weather was nice today--high temp in the 60's and the sun was shining for a change. We have had so much rain. Walking in the yard is like walking on a wet sponge. We've had a few cold days, but not many. I never thought I would say this, but I would be so happy if I could just take a walk. The only thing that would make me happier would be if Mr. Fixit could take a walk or even sit in a chair.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

It Wasn't a Very Good Year

At last, 2018 is gone. It hasn't been a very good year in the Fixit household. Mr. Fixit was being treated for cancer in a number of different ways for the last five years. According to what his oncologist was telling us he was doing quite well. The liver became involved and he had several treatments called embolization to kill the lesions in his liver. Again, according the the doctors the first three went quite well; the cancer was literally killed off when the chemo meds were introduced directly into the lesions. The last time something happened. A new technique was used. He came home and returned several times for short visits to the hospital. He was in a great deal of pain which was diagnosed as colitis caused by the embolization. This began the middle of June. After a couple of months of short hosptial stays,the doctors came to me and suggested that he be placed in hospice care. I was floored. It was totally unexpected because the oncologist had lead us to believe he was doing okay. The doctor who performed the last procedure never even came to see him. We were handed off to the hospital staff physicians. I'm beginning to wonder if mistakes were made, but I realize that dwelling on that possibility doesn't get me anywhere.

The first of September he was sent home. He was taken off most of the medications he had been taking for years for his heart condition. Hospice furnished just enough meds to insure his comfort. He is on an opiate and meds to counteract the unpleasant side effects caused by the drug. He takes his blood pressure meds only as needed. He is now bed-ridden. At first he seemed to be getting stronger, but suddenly he developed a fever of almost 105 degrees, and his condition deteriorated. The opiate causes a murkiness in his thought processes. Sometimes his mind seems completely clear, but at others, he is very confused.

I wanted him to be placed in a hospice facility because I wasn't confident that I could care for him at home. We were told he didn't meet their criteria for institutional care. I guess that meant he wasn't in eminent danger. We have a nurse who comes in once a week, and a technician who comes in three times a week to bathe him. I provide the day-to-day, hour-to-hour care. It's the hardest thing I have ever done. Sometimes I feel that they left me to make too many decisions that I just am not equipped to make or implement. It's up to me to decide, for instance, when to give him blood pressure meds or medication to calm him when he gets agitated. Some of those meds caused more problems that they helped, and I was so afraid I would make a mistake.

Not only is there an emotional toll, but the physical demands are almost too much for me. I never have a minute to myself. Our sons provide as much help as possible, but they have jobs and families to tend. They have helped financially (they paid for a new heat/ac unit when the old one conked out) and they, with our grandchildren, took over the yard work and the household repairs that I can't handle. The only time I get out is to go grocery shopping. One of them comes to stay him while I'm out. I don't feel very good about asking them to help. It's my pride that hurts mostly. Mr. Fixit and I have never needed, or asked for help, from anyone. That's a big adjustment for me to make. I think that's the worst part of being a care-giver. Yes, it's physically demanding and I get very little sleep, but I really hate feeling for inadequate to dealing with everyday living now and being so dependent on my children. And fear is always there.

He doesn't seem to be in a great deal of pain. He's still on small doses of morphine, and our sons are here to help. The hospice staff are good people and are very supportive. Our 53rd anniversary is coming up in February. As I've said before, we have been married a very long time, but 53 years is still not enough.

On a cheerier note, we finally had our Christmas today. My older son and his family scheduled a Caribbean cruise before Christmas. He wasn't feeling very well before he left on the trip, and his wife thought she might have been coming down with the same thing. They felt fine on the cruise. They came home a few days before Christmas, and he became very sick with flu-like symptoms. Then his wife and his younger son came down with it. It was type A flu. They didn't want to expose Mr. Fixit so after several delays we had our Christmas today.



Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Two-Parter

Part 1 - Current Events in the Fixit Household

After Mr. Fixit's latest scans, a "few" new nodules were found in his lungs. They are very small, but the doctor advised starting a new course of treatment--immunotherapy. This therapy ramps up his immune system to fight the cancer rather than introducing chemicals to kill the cancer. It is supposed to have fewer side effects than chemo, and the treatments are scheduled every other week for only 30 minutes of intravenous infusion. I just hope that it works with few side effects and that we can afford the treatments. That's Mr. Fixit talking. I told him that if we had to sell the house and live in the car, that's what we'll do.

During the visit to discuss his scans, the doctor said that his liver looked okay after the procedure was done a few months ago, but he said the "liver guy" might want to do an MRI instead of just relying on the CT scans. I got a call saying that he should have the MRI. I was a little upset. I thought if he wanted to the the MRI things weren't as good as the "lung guy" seem to think. Our son, who was with us for the consultation, didn't seem to think there was anything to be worried about. He goes for the MRI this coming week.

I wonder why these anomalies are referred to as nodules instead of tumors. Not once since he was diagnosed has anyone said the word "tumor." Is there a difference? Is it possible that not all of these nodules are cancerous, therefore, not tumors? Are they just using "nodules" because it a little less scary than "tumors?"Every time we go to a consultation I want to ask the doctor the question, but I'm a little leery of hearing the answer.

Our weather has taken a turn for the better. The highs for today is predicted to be in the low 70's. Glorious!

Part 2 - On My Soapbox Again

With all the disturbing (to me, at least) events happening in our country, two things have happened that are truly shameful in my opinion. The worst is this country's highest elected official being absolutely rude, crude, and uncaring about the plight of the citizens in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. His attack on the mayor of San Juan was savage and uncalled for. I sincerely believe that the man has no empathy. How can anyone support his rhetoric? Shame on you, Mr. Highest Elected Official.

The first lady sent books to schools to encourage reading for young students. One (dare I say it? yes, I dare) snooty Cambridge elementary school librarian rejected the gift and was rude and condescending. Perhaps the books selected may not be age appropriate for children in the first grade, but younger children love these books. Dr. Seuss racist? I don't think so. Cliche? Tired? Is this librarian out of touch with reality? Why did she have to be so impolite? I was taught that when you receive a gift you smile, say thank you, and accept it graciously even if it isn't something you really like or want. Then you re-gift if you feel you must, lol. I am sure that are many children who would love to receive a book or just to have access to a book. This librarian may not agree with the highest elected official in this country, but it is inexcusable to sink to his level (and that's exactly what she did) and attack the first lady for trying to do a good thing.



Wednesday, September 13, 2017

When Irma hit us, it had been down-graded to a tropical depression. The forecast called for several inches of rain and sustained winds of 15 to 20 mph with gusts reaching 55 miles per hour. We live about 5 hours from the South Carolina coast and about 9 hours from Tampa, Florida, and there was wind damage in our area.The following pix show the aftermath for us. All of this came from one oak tree. The last picture shows how "de-limbed" it is now.




First my DIL and two grandchildren came armed with a chain saw, muscle, and youth. My DIL wielded that chain saw like a pro. The children, Bella, 15, and Levi, our youngest grandson, dragged smaller limbs and transported the heavy branches. They worked so hard. Ben, our older son, took time off from his job to come and help. Our neighbor across the street brought his chain saw, and his wife helped to throw the mess into the ditch in front of the house. Mike had our chain saw. The whole mess was cleaned up and stacked in the ditch in about 3 1/2 hours awaiting the city to pick it up. We may have to wait a while, but that's okay. This is how the pile looked after being cut into manageable pieces.


We didn't know that the family was coming. Mike and I were just waiting for the rain to stop before we went out to work on it. His chain saw is a small electric one and I was afraid he would be electrocuted. We are so appreciative for all their help.

Another neighbor wasn't as lucky as we were. A tree in her yard uprooted and hit her house. There was some damage. It just hit the corner.


I feel so fortunate after seeing the damage in Texas and Florida. I can't imagine what those people who tried riding out the storms went through. Those 55 mph winds we experienced were scary. I just can't imagine what 150 mph winds must feel.

(Click on individual photos to enlarge.)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Eclipse Mania

We are located almost dead center of the total eclipse path. We waited too long to get the glasses, so I made a viewer from a shoe box. Mr. Fixit is working on his now. I remember a few years ago, there was another solar eclipse, but it wasn't total. Jason was still in middle school. We used two sheets of paper. One with the small hole, and one behind that one was our viewing "screen." It worked quite well.

I'm looking forward to watching the progress of the moon blocking the sun, but I'm very eager to see and experience the darkness. I hope it's as spectacular as in the movie, "Ladyhawke," when the spell is broken and the hawk becomes a woman again. It's weird how I relate things to movies. I don't really expect to have an evil spell removed and turn into Michelle Pfieffer, dammit!

Now if I could only see the Perseid meteor shower. . . I missed it again this year. I would settle for seeing just a few "shooting stars" at the same time instead of a full-fledged shower.

Note: People are renting their homes for tons of money to visitors who have come to see the total eclipse, and motels and hotels are fully booked and are tripling their prices. Money, money, money.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Tuesday, A Good Day

With the world situation the way it is and Mr. Fixit's health problems, I just haven't been able to post in the last few months. Last Tuesday I had another unpleasant chore to attend to--a financial mess with Mr. Fixit's medical bills. The short story is I wrote a $2000.00+ check back in March, and I couldn't find where that money was credited.It was for the newest procedure Mr. Fixit had done to treat a new cancer that was found in his liver. (He's doing well. It looks as if the treatment worked.) I was receiving bills that should have been paid with that check. I did have a copy of the cancelled check. I was dreading going to the hospital business office to discuss the matter. I had a feeling that it would turn out that I still owed a bundle. After speaking with two people and driving all over Greenville, I found a very nice lady who took all the paper work I had and listened (yes, actually listened) to my request to trace that check. On the way home, I received a call from her and she said that the check would be credited to my statement I had been receiving as due and owing and is now, therefore, at a zero balance. She further stated that I will be receiving a check soon for almost $700.00 as a refund. Yipee! But, of course, I will be holding my breath for a few billing cycles before I'll rest easy.

We stopped on the way home for lunch. I noticed a man in the restaurant with a very frail, older lady in a wheel chair. His actions with her touched me. I was close to tears. The man was probably in his late 50's or early 60's. He fed her patiently, he patted her hand, and caressed her face several times. Throughout the whole meal, he talked to her. He smiled and carried on what seemed to be a most enjoyable, lively conversation. I never saw her respond in any way. It was wonderful so see. I know it seems like I was staring, but I was so impressed with this man. I don't know if he was a son or a caregiver, but he treated his lady with such love and respect. It melted my heart.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Good News, Bad News (Again)

Mr. Fixit had an appointment with the oncologist Tuesday. The good news is that the nodules in his lungs showed no change and one even decreased in size. The bad news is that the new scan found two "somethings" in his liver. The scan made for the prior visit showed the two "somethings" in the liver and one in his remaining kidney. The doctor was not concerned. This latest scan show the two liver somethings has increased in size. He didn't mention the kidney. I'm not even sure the scan included the kidney. The result is that he is scheduled for an MRI in early January. They will be able to see exactly what the somethings are. If need be, they will be biopsied. If they are malignant, they will be burned out with microwaves.

Mr. Fixit's new family physician also referred him to a nephrologist because his kidney function numbers were a little high. New tests were run and the numbers were down. He has an appointment for tests later in January to be sure nothing is going on. Maybe it will show what the "something" in his kidney is.

Mr. Fixit, of course, is quite depressed. It doesn't help that he has a bad cold and feel terrible. Me? I'm scared spitless.

I had a feeling that this doctor's visit was not going to go well. It's the season. We have been married for over 50 years, and it seems that something always happens during the holidays to cause problems. When we were young, it was usually car trouble or major household problems. One year we went to see the Boston Pops orchestra perform in Hartford, Ct.
It was wonderful! After the concert, our new car wouldn't start, and it had to be towed home. The last few years it has been problems with Mr. Fixit's health. I lived through all those minor problems. This one? My heart is breaking.