Sunday, January 21, 2018

Let me tell ya that it... HURTS SO BAD

I've written about my health and constant, chronic pain before.  Today, it is reaching new heights.  I slept about 3 hours, then I woke up to go to the bathroom and then I was hitting that period of the morning where different alarms go off every so often, my attempt at keeping my body waking up at around 5 AM when I go back to work tomorrow.  So I was in serious pain when it was time to get ready for church, and I decided not to go.  I didn't really want to miss church, but I sure didn't want to stand in the choir loft (or in the congregation) or sit in the pews while my feet were aching like sore teeth.

If you want to think I'm Miss Cheerful and never complain about anything... stop reading now, because it's gonna get hateful in here.  I hate dealing with chronic pain.  When I was in 3rd grade, I got to know a girl who was diabetic and I wanted to learn all about her.  I was a little jealous because she had a mid-morning break when she went to the teachers' lounge and my suspicion was that she had a snack (I was usually hungry before lunch so this seemed positive) and had to test her sugar... which was all by urine at the time, no sticking.  I thought it was a built-in diet trick to always drink diet sodas, I thought that would keep her from being a fat adult. (It didn't. She's not huge, but has never been thin.)  That was very important to me at the time. She did have to get insulin shots, but they didn't seem to bother her like shots bothered me. I thought, the worst thing that can happen is that old people with diabetes sometimes lost toes, and I wasn't sure why that happened, but her 11-year-old toes seemed to be in decent shape.  I also thought if shots were the worst thing... well, let me assure you, they are not.

The neuropathy started sometime around November, 2008.  I'd been diabetic for at least 2 years before that, and it wasn't too long after my diagnosis.  I was insulin resistant for many years, since at least 1985 and probably a few years before.  I thought it was just a genetic thing, most of my mom's family dealt with it.  I didn't realize what that was doing to my body, and I didn't realize that the way I ate was making it worse.  I had gestational diabetes in my first pregnancy, and though I didn't the second time, I did have a nine pound baby that time - both risk factors for developing diabetes later in life.  Even that didn't scare me.  I thought because I had low blood sugar that I wouldn't become diabetic, just like I couldn't starve myself because my sugar would dip too low.  Honestly, if my blood sugars hadn't been so wild, I probably would've been anorexic because food was always the enemy.  But I'd let them drop too low and then stuff some carbs down to get me through.  Carbs couldn't be too bad, right?  After all, they were low in fat and fat was the problem, right?  I ate more complex carbs, like pasta and potatoes, because they weren't simple sugars like candy that would run through me quickly.  I began to realize that I could eat sugars IF i ate something with protein first, so I did.

When I was diagnosed, I thought if I took my meds, I could still eat what I wanted, within limits.  I didn't really want as much sweet stuff, but I did still like it.  I thought I would never be able to cut carbs out completely, and I was eating so much less sugar than I used to, but eventually, they had to stop one of my medicines because of the liver function tests going haywire, so I just gave up and threw all caution to the wind.  For a year or so I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it.  Eventually I did attempt to cut out carbs, and I'm still pretty good at that, but I do eat some.  Like I had a hot dog, and instead of carb-laden side dishes, I had - sit down - a BUN!  Oops. Flag on the play.  The touchdown will not count.

I've been thoroughly disappointed with the inability of modern medicine to cure my pain.  Doctors say, "You've got to have better control of your sugar."  I'm like, it's 3:00 pm and all I've had all day was a protein shake that says it contains 25 carbs.  How could my sugars be high because of that?  So why are they hurting? Well, lots of things can make them hurt... but only keeping my sugars low is the only relief I can get???

I would try medical marijuana, but I live in a non-legal state.  I'm told my state representatives share the Attorney General's belief that marijuana leads to harder drugs.  I went to college.  I tried "weed" back in the day.  I never did any stronger drugs, and I was offered cocaine more than once.  For the record, I didn't try marijuana the first few times it was offered either.  I guess I did do "harder" drugs at times... I had morphine after surgery.  Once in awhile I'd have a prescription for an opiate, when I had broken bones and migraines and toothaches.  The medicine would help with whatever pain I was in at the time, but that wasn't because I smoked pot in college.  I could understand how people got hooked on opiates, because after surgery, it was a little scary to think about the pain without the drugs, but I was able to go longer and longer without them and substitute Tylenol for doses during the day until I could easily wean off the "hard stuff."  Nowadays I can't even get the doctors to write me a prescription for pain medicine, because it's taboo to prescribe opioids.  Oh, and by the way, I live in the number one opiate-prescribing state according to this study.  Not surprising, considering we are a long way from a medically-legal marijuana state.  I think in a few years our neighbor Arkansas will have it.  That's only three hours from me... certainly not convenient for moving.  Oh, if Kentucky would allow it, I'd probably move the 13 miles due north for that.

So i am left to my own devices to drown out the pain.  I'm gonna try turmeric.  Hell, what do I have to lose?  I go to bed terrified of what the next day is going to bring.  I have no guarantee that a night's sleep will allow me to wake up feeling energetic and pain-free.  (Occasionally, it happens.)  If I have to work, will I be miserable all day?  Maybe I'll have a good day and it'll feel better.  But after I stand a lot, what will my night be like?  If I can't sleep, I'm guaranteed a day of intense pain.  I have to check all the boxes:  a good night of rest, all medications taken on time, all meals at the correct time (which doesn't happen often in my work), no carbs (even on Christmas! Diabetes doesn't take a holiday), a good balance of sitting and standing and walking (something else I can't always control in my job).  Now, who among us can check all those boxes  Maybe I am a loser because I screw up on that list on a pretty regular basis.  Then there are the matters none of us can control, such as weather.  Did we get a cold front?  Count on extra pain.  Rain?  Probably.  But it's the way I eat that's the problem.  RIGHT.  Too cold in the room?  Better cover those feet, but socks are usually too tight, exacerbating the pain.

It's a vicious cycle.  Sleep late and take meds late?  Ouch.  Work to make money and, let's face it, to keep me on my feet... and pay for it later with sleepless nights.  It's driving me insane.  I've tried B-6, B-12, biotin, evening primrose oil, alpha-lipoic acid, multi-vitamins, Metanx, and using a TENS unit... ice, heating pad, more water, liquor, prayer (begging), and acupuncture.  While the latter can be helpful, it can also be useless. I've experienced more movement after a treatment, but also experienced more pain after one too.

If I get a lot of negative comments on today's post, I'll just shut down the comments on it.  So, if you have a suggestion (like the many who say, just eat less, just exercise more... ha, let me put you into my day and see how YOU do), let your words be nice and sweet, for later they may be words you'll have to eat.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Easy like Sunday morning

For awhile I've been considering some options for maintaining my websites in the short time I have available after working 40 hours a week and commuting another 10 plus hours. I have a lot to add to all my pages and it could be a great source of residual income for the dry spells I go through as a PRN healthcare employee.

In that spirit, I've decided to create a blog and a Facebook page for all my pages that don't yet have one. So bookmark, and I'll be  able to add information on the fly now, which should make it easier for me to keep things fresh. The blogs should also facilitate cataloging. 

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Just remember I love you, more than I can say... maybe then your blues will fade away

And I almost titled this one "Your Love Has Lifted Me Higher," because it was out that year.  I was just tired of looking for a more appropriate title from the year in my mind. 

In 1977, I turned ten. My world was pretty small. I was born in Nashville but I lived just north of the county line in Ridgetop.  I thought Nashville was a pretty important place, like Chicago or New York.  I had no idea that there were bigger places in the world, though I had heard of far-away cities like New York and Atlanta.  I had been to the ocean in North Carolina, which made me a little different from my classmates who went to PCB every couple of years.

Two girls moved in up the road from my grandparents' house in the mid '70s.  They were from Seattle, which was way, way up in the return address corner of the United States.  Looking at it on the globe, it looked like it would be much colder, and I learned that sometimes it was, but they had a lot of weather similar to ours in Tennessee with sunshine and rain.  Humidity was something else.  It's still something else, let me tell you.

Looking back, I never began to comprehend what it must have been like to be a newcomer in a town like Ridgetop.  Having moved out of town a few times since then, I feel a little sorry about that. Everybody in Ridgetop must have seemed to be related. They moved to a house on a hill, a house built by my grandmother's family when she was a little girl and their old house on that same location burned.  From the front yard one could see eight houses.  I had relatives in two of those houses, my grandmother and her cousin Jerry.  Another neighbor was my aunt's sister-in-law.  She grew up there too.

That summer the neighbor girls' dad was transferred and they returned to Seattle.  Elvis died, Star Wars premiered, and other things happened that stamped the year in my memory. One happened to my brother.  Mom took him to day care, where he refused to drink the milk.  They thought he was just "faking" when he said he was allergic.  He obeyed.  He vomited.  Mom found another babysitter quick, cousin Jerry's wife Wanda.  Mom hadn't considered really thought of her earlier because she seemed to keep a lot of kids and had her hands full.  To my knowledge though, she never lost any!  At first I stayed by myself at my grandmother's house that summer, but there was some family trouble going on (other unforgettable events I don't want to write about tonight, and a few I didn't really understand) so I started going to Wanda's too.  I think she saw me as another big kid who could help with the little ones, like her younger brother and nephews who dropped in frequently.

Jerry was one of my favorite relatives.  He was one of those people who always had a smile.  Even in sad moments, he could muster up a grin.  He was funny and kind.  When I was a very little girl, long before 1977, I remember thinking he was cute.  Back then we called him "Jerry Lee."  I noticed a lot of my relatives calling him that today; I even found myself saying it.  When he was born he had a hole in his heart, and some of my earliest memories of him involved him being in the hospital in serious condition, having had a heart attack or something at a very early age (like 24 maybe?).  I remember being told his heart had stopped but he was brought back to life.  I knew what that meant.  It was very scary and I remember being very afraid that he would die.

I wish I could've seen him recently.  Most of the times I've seen him over the past 20 years were when he was working on cars out in the yard and the garage, and I was driving by on my way to Mom's and Granddaddy's.  I think I saw him at Mom's funeral; I know I saw him at Granddaddy's and talked to him for quite a while.

Today I went to his funeral.  I sure hated to see him go.  I pray for Wanda and his kids and grandkids.  Ridgetop is a sadder place without him for sure.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

It's Only Make-Believe

So I'm watching CNN and I think, what if there was a parody character called "Kellyanne Conway Twitty"??? And of course, I am not the first to think of this... I'm not sure who was, but Seth MacFarlane, for one, beat me to the punch.

Ah, Seth MacFarlane... I have mixed feelings about him... he is drop-dead gorgeous and insanely talented, but his sense of humor is no smarter than a fifth-grader.  A precocious fifth-grader, but... anyway, great minds think alike, eh??? ;D

Seth either loves or loves to rag on ol' Conway.  Like all Southern white kids in the 70s, I was exposed to regular doses of Conway Twitty.  We watched all those GREAT country music TV shows every Saturday afternoon (as my Granny used to say about watching Andy Griffith) BECAUSE WE HAD TO.  Now, I really love to wax nostalgic about the old country shows and seriously, they played a YUGE part in making me the music lover I am today.  The TV alternatives were limited.  Today's youngsters can not begin to imagine three or four channels. Even the "big three" have local networks!

I don't remember just three channels. I don't remember a time before PBS. I'm not sure when public TV came to Nashville, but I do remember seeing "Sesame Street" mentioned on another show, before I had discovered the Muppets.  That was the first time I ever saw that my mom tried to hide things from me.  She did not want me to start watching "Sesame Street" because she foresaw exactly what happened. She knew I'd get hooked. She didn't want to have to watch silly puppets!

If she were here, I would ask her if she really thought Gilligan was any better.

But back to Conway Twitty.  I DID discover him when I was young, like age four, but that's when he looked like this (from "Hee Haw," by the way, and also used by Seth MacFarlane on "Family Guy"):

If I'd discovered him when he looked like he did in this next clip, I probably would have thought he was hot, like my aunt Peggy and a lot of other women who were young in the 1960s and 70s did. OMG. When Conway died on June 5, 1993, Peggy and one of her friends stayed up late, drinking adult beverages, crying and listening to his music, probably on vinyl... possibly on cassette... maybe, but probably not, on 8-track... and maybe on a CD... not everyone had a player then but they were gaining popularity.  I understood that SHE liked him and I could understand, kind of, because I figured she was about 50 and he was probably about 50 and he sang all those sexy songs and had kind of a cool voice, but I didn't think he was HOT.  But in this clip below, he was kind of cute, and that song is freakin' amazing:

Here is another phenomenal clip of the same song... I did not know this show existed.  As performances go, it's not the best Conway ever did (although it might explain why he didn't dance much once color TV footage began), but it's a piece of broadcasting history for Dick Clark's intro alone. Conway looked very uncomfortable and staged, and had to be lip-synching (I just don't think there was any other way back then) but wow! What a lucky break for an Arkansas boy to share a TV audience with Fabian!

It's only make-believe... just like he's making believe he is singing...  I have a real-life, not make-believe, Conway Twitty story.  When I was 12, I ran into him - I mean, I literally ran.into.him - in a bowling alley in Hendersonville, TN.  He was polite, maybe a little annoyed, but polite.  Later I saw him playing in the 11th Frame Lounge, adjoining the bowling alley, just through the door.  I didn't go in.  That would've been a riot. I was there with my church youth group.  He didn't look it in black-and-white, but he was in his mid-20s by the time he made it to Dick Clark's Beech-Nut Show.  That makes me feel better.  I think it's kind of creepy for an old woman to think such a young man would be attractive!  But my daughter will be 25 this summer - NEXT MONTH! - so I guess that's why Conway looks like a kid in those video clips.

I have always had a great sense of imagination. I'm glad that it has grown up along with me, but I am really sorry that I haven't written everything I've dreamt up over the years.  I created characters based on people I knew but mostly based on "what if" scenarios I dreamed up about them.  I have a lot of these stories but now, I don't have nearly enough time to write about them. I'm trying, though. I'm busy in my "real job" but I have a lot more time than I let myself believe.  I like writing non-fiction as well as fiction.. or maybe I should say, real life as much as make-believe.  I'm blessed to have great memories and imagination for both.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

How can people have no feelings? Easy to be hard... easy to say no

I don't go political too much, but I have been hearing so much about healthcare reform, etc. lately. I have a lot to say about it, not as an employee but as a wife, mother, and daughter... as a woman, as a human.

No, health care is not a "right" per se, but in a country that wants to be one of the greatest, people should be able to access the necessary healthcare no matter their income. We have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If we have the right to life that means we have the right to do what's necessary to avoid death. Being ill can often feel like imprisonment, the opposite of liberty. One can be happy in poor health, but it's not easy. I have no problem with working to pay for my health insurance. The rock star and I always have. I also have no problem with my tax dollars helping people who truly cannot work to pay for their health insurance. For example, my mom had stage IV cancer and worked as a "cafeteria lady" far longer than most people in her condition would have because long-term disability wouldn't pay enough to maintain her coverage. She got a type of state-funded insurance, which she had previously when she was working in a job that did not provide insurance. Her doctor became angry when she changed coverage, but she had little choice if she wanted to buy food and have running water and electricity. Someone I knew years ago was paralyzed on a motorcycle. He has since passed, but he couldn't work. He was in his early 20s. Could you look him in the eye and tell him he didn't deserve healthcare???

I read an article where a man said that people who lived right don't have pre-existing conditions. The writer specifically mentioned strokes, heart problems, and birth defects. The rock star had a stroke at age 4 (yes, four) because of a birth defect - a heart problem. Not only that, but my grandmother had a stroke at age six. I'm not kidding. Personally, I am INSULTED that I would be blamed for my child having a birth defect. Yes, I had one of those too. I still have him! I did not smoke or do drugs when I was pregnant. I had a cold and had to take some medicine early on, which was okayed by my doctor. I don't want to say I'm a victim, but I don't think it was my fault. Nor do I blame my father-in-law for becoming the father of the rock star ten months after coming home from Vietnam where he was often exposed to Agent Orange... he didn't get drafted, he enlisted... but no, it was not his fault that his son was born with a life-threatening heart defect. I read someone's comment that Jimmy Kimmel's child was born with a heart defect because it was "karma" because he made jokes about Donald Trump. I disagree. Besides, what did that tiny baby do to deserve that?

I have a pre-existing condition, though i wasn't born with it. I'll take responsibility for my Type 2 diabetes. I ate my way into it. I'm sure all those low-fat, high-carb foods I ate in attempts to lose weight and maintain it in my 20s and 30s didn't have anything to do with my body becoming insulin resistant. I had inherited a predisposition to blood sugar issues. And my mom's cancer? She didn't smoke, seldom drank, tried to eat right and maintain a healthy weight, and exercised regularly most of her adult life. So why did she get cancer? Oh, that was probably hereditary too. What do you think about people whose genetic profiles show predisposition to diseases? Should we deny coverage to those people because we know it's going to cost more to take care of them? You going to look me in the eye and tell me no? And the young but now deceased motorcyclist? What if I told you he was driving too fast and was at fault? Would you look him in the eye and deny him coverage after that?

I have a problem with people who think it's ok to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. Even though our insurance pays for those, our dental insurance would NOT cover needed dental implants for our child who was born with a cleft palate, and had teeth that did not form enamel properly (a condition that also affected my brother, though his lip and palate were fine). He had two root canals that had broken in the growth and surgical process. He had one tooth I jokingly called a "bubba tooth" - he laughed at it too - but it really wasn't funny, it was only about half a tooth. This after nine years of braces, 12 years of dental appliances... in his (then) 18 years of life.

If my brothers, uncle, and I had not just sold my mother's house, I'd planned to refinance my car to borrow that money. We're talking five digits worth of money, and that's not counting the numbers on the right of the decimal. I felt like we were lucky. I'd rather have had my mom living in that house, but I felt she would have approved of the money being spent that way.

I agree that the ACA - "Obamacare," as it is so frequently called, is not really its name - needs work and maybe even replacement. I want to see pre-existing conditions left in. I say we do not need caps on coverage. My sweet rock star and son might have had to do without healthcare... and who knows when we'd have had to start doing without. My mom's insurance company re-analyzed several medicines over the years. I think they were surprised that someone who had been through all she had was still alive, so they didn't realize they had to keep paying for those drugs!

When I was a new nuclear medicine tech back in the early 90s, occasionally I would see kids who had been born with cystic fibrosis (CF). Back then, a kid born with CF had a life expectancy of maybe 20 years. Now, babies born with the disease have a much longer life expectancy as more and more patients are living into their 40s and even beyond. If you put a cap on their benefits, some of those kids would not survive that long because they sometimes spend a lot of time in the hospital. I care, and that's because one of my childhood friends has a child with the disease. I don't know for certain but I would be beyond shocked if I learned that they had done anything at all during pregnancy to "deserve" a child with such a condition. No, that, like so many other things, is a GENETIC issue.

If you are healthy and have lived a "good" lifestyle, you are LUCKY. You won the genetic lottery. You may be taking good care of yourself and for that, you should be proud, but you should not judge others, for you do not know their stories. Can you honestly say you've never overeaten, or had too much ice cream, or just once, slept instead of working out? Can you truly say you've never broken the speed limit? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. As the saying goes, Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. (source unknown; attributed to Plato)

How can people be so heartless
How can people be so cruel
Easy to be hard
Easy to be cold

How can people have no feelings
How can they ignore their friends
Easy to be proud
Easy to say no

And especially people
Who care about strangers
Who care about evil
And social injustice
Do you only
Care about the bleeding crowd?
How about a needing friend?
I need a friend

How can people be so heartless
You know I'm hung up on you
Easy to give in
Easy to help out

And especially people
Who care about strangers
Who say they care about social injustice
Do you only
Care about the bleeding crowd
How about a needing friend?
I need a friend

How can people have no feelings
How can they ignore their friends
Easy to be hard
Easy to be cold
Easy to be proud
Easy to say no

Ragni, Gerome / Rado, James / Mac Dermot, Galt