Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

So on this eve of my 63rd birthday, I was talking to a friend whom I haven’t seen in almost 40 years. We got caught up on my wife’s medical issues and her recovery. Then we got caught up on our kids. Then she asked, as so many of my friends have asked over the last six months, how are you? Are you taking care of you?

I used my usual response “I’m fine.” There I did it again, I lied to another friend. I’m not fine and I know it. Hell I just had a “Sleep Apnea” test and I know I tested positive. Further details coming as I get them. I’m tired all the time, I eat to much, I still drink to much Coca Cola and as I learned growing up a man has to be strong not weak. You can’t show your feelings you have to be the one everyone can lean on.

So what do I do, I focus on work, or keep busy with my hobby of educating myself further on the internet about my favorite subjects, marketing, blogging, wordpress, and certain health issues that affect my family. I just take care of my family the best I can day by day.

During my wife’s stay at a skilled nursing center I found out that for someone to stay there the costs start out at about $10,000 a month and go up depending on the additional services you want. Most health care insurance doesn’t cover this type of expense. Most families can’t afford something like this. With all the “Baby Boomer’s retiring and getting up there in years, I can’t imagine what we as a society are going to do with all these people. How will they be taken care of? My old boss President Trump isn’t going to help us.

I’m reminded of an article I read how incarcerated people will be getting better care than the senior citizens. It was suggested we reverse the situation and put the seniors in the jail and people from the jails in nursing homes.You see in jail you get free medical care, three meals a day, exercise time, counseling, continuing education if you like and many more benefits.

I can’t solve societies issues all I can do is do the best I can with what I have and pray that it will be enough. I also pray that my family and friends don’t have to go through what I am going through.

So if any of you ask me again how I’m doing I think I see jail in my future. At .least then my family won’t have to be burdened with me. I think I want to go to one of those federal prisons where they send Illinois Governor’s to. Maybe I can go to Colorado the views must be fantastic.

OK, for those of you that read this and are now even more concerned about my well being I’m good. If you know me at all, I can be sarcastic, and I do like humor in my writing so take it with a grain of salt as they say!

My Medical Education

I believe I can have a new career if I want it. Over the last four months, I have received my medical education. I have learned how to do the following. I can flush a gastro 3 port tube. I can inflate a # 10 balloon in that same tube. I can flush a foley line. I can empty a foley. I can shut off and on the IV machines. I can drain and clean out open drain tubes and suction bulbs. I can clean and replace all bandages of varying sizes and purposes. I can teach RN’s how to unhook and reposition a colonoscopy bag clamp for either draining or expelling an inflated bag when not being used as for its original purpose. I understand the use of barrier creams and the applying of them. Of course, I’m an expert in the bed pan. I can identify blood pressure increasing due to increasing pain levels and I understand the readouts on monitoring systems. More importantly, I can remember doctors orders for medications their doses, purpose, and interactions.

Besides all that I had to understand the procedure my wife went through called a Whipple Procedure. It is considered one of the riskiest surgeries that one can have. The surgery itself can run between 8-12 hours depending on complications.Gaining and understanding of the digestive system, and how it’s been redirected helps in your ability to understand what a patient could be going through. Such as vomiting dark green foul/sweet-smelling bile. (No her head did not rotate around at any point)

On top of all of this add to it a patient that has a connective tissue disease, a degenerative disk disease and advanced arthritis in the spine.This is a person who in order to get through the day has to be always moving. Otherwise, a disk in the spine may begin to attach itself to another disk and begin squeezing some nerves that affect your ability to walk, or bend your legs or tell muscles to do what they are supposed to do. Now have that patient lay flat on a bed for 4 months. You will hear that patient ask you to kill them now. You will hear them ask god why do they have to suffer. You will hear them beg for relief. The worst part is this patient is allergic to most pain medications except for Fentanyl. Which is stronger than Morphine. If they take it they will begin hallucinating and or just sleep all the time and will not remember anything that happened previously and can’t be expected to really do anything but lie there and not heal but be a zombie or be in torturous pain.

So this has been part of my life for the last four months. If I hadn’t been there every day my wife would have been dead. I can’t tell you how many times they were about to give her the wrong medicine, or the wrong dose. Or give her something that could kill her like iodine. Or how many infections I stopped because they wouldn’t take the time to clean her wound site or flush her foley or drain her drains because in many cases they didn’t care, were too busy, didn’t have the knowledge or just have the opinion that all patients are the same and they should all get the same care.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the health care industry shouldn’t be profit driven. In many cases, nurses and aids can’t give you the care you need because there told by management to cut costs, have more patients per nurse, no overtime etc.Besides that nurses and doctors are being held more accountable and every step every action they take has to be recorded and measured. There to busy typing into the computer than looking at the patient. Their jobs have become not a caring job but an administrative paper pushing job that no one wants to do. Heaven help you if any of you or your loved ones have to go into the health care system and I pray that your family member will not be lost over the care they won’t receive.

I received a copy of the ambulance bill for moving my wife about 10-15 miles from one hospital to another $5800.00. I had been wondering if I should become an Uber driver to make ends meet financially but maybe I should start my own Ambulance company. How about “Uber Ambulance”!



Trying To Find My Way Home

Once again I have to admit that I haven’t been on here in a while. Like you didn’t notice. But as they say “Sometimes Life Gets In The Way.” I love writing even though I lack certain skills. Like writing a proper sentence with punctuation, grammar, just those few important things as my friend and adviser Gene would yell at me about! For me its getting my message out. I trust that you all will forgive me for not paying attention in I think 4th and 5th grades.

Back to my life…. Its been a challenge lately, or that matter its been a challenge for a year now. As I have mentioned before, I have a significant  other who is much more significant than I. A year ago they discovered an anuerisym between her eyes pressing on both optic nerves. In fact it was one of the largest ones that they have seen. They needed to do a crainiotomy (brain surgery) almost immediately. If that wasn’t enough a large mass was also found on her pancreas. The biopsy showed that the cells from the pancreas were pre-cancerous and we had some time but no one knew how much. For those of you that don’t know, once it turns to cancer in the pancreas you usually if your lucky have three months left. So a ticking bomb we were left with. She had to recover from cutting her skull open and the doctors removing the mass between her eyes and pressing on the optic nerves. Estimated time for recovery maybe 3-6 months is what they thought. This was after the 30 plus days in the hospital excuse me 2 hospitals then more weeks for complications in several other hospitals.

With no family nearby to help my life had been turned upside down. Yes I could call family on the phone but mainly that would make me relive the experience over and over again as I would have to explain everything again and again. I love my family dearly but they do have their life to live and I certainly did not want to be a burden to them. When they could listen to me I did appreciate it and its good to have a shoulder to cry on.

What makes this even more difficult is that my wife for some unknown reason is allergic to almost all pain killers out there except Delauded or Fentonyl. Both of which are about the strongest ones out there so when and if she takes them she doesn’t know where she is, may not know who I am and may have bad dreams and or visions or is lethargic and can’t do anything like physical therapy to help her get better. So if she doesn’t take them she shakes violently in pain like having the chills.

On top of the chemical allergies she also has many food allergies. Many of these allergies can stop her from breathing, give her hives, make her vomit immediately and continuously and many other symptoms.

Whats really amazing is that the brain surgery is nothing apparently compared to the surgery they had to do on the pancreas. That surgery is about a 10 hour process where almost every organ in your body is moved / pushed aside. It is considered one of the most riskiest surgeries that you can have and the potential complications afterward can even kill you or make it even more of a hell for you if you hadn’t been there already.

My day consists of getting grandma (my mother-in-law, she’s 86) up and dressed and give her breakfast. Then take care of the dogs and make sure she has everything she need for 10-12 hours till I come home. I then go to the hospital for an hour or so and make sure the staff hasn’t killed my wife. Then I go to work. I leave by 4:00pm and go back to the hospital and spend a few hours with her and hopefully see the surgeon and check on any updates. I then go home to make dinner for grandma and the dogs. Take the dogs out, do some laundry or cleaning if I can, go to bed and do it all again tomorrow.

We just passed six weeks of this routine and the woman I married still hasn’t come back to me and that’s the worst part. I don’t have anyone to talk to. (As I’m spilling my guts to you all here! Hopefully it will help) The problem is the not knowing. Not knowing when it will end, when it will be normal again. Or if it will be normal again. Will she still make it through this, if she doesn’t make it how will I cope, how will I take care of her mother. Everyone will say to me you take it one day at a time. For someone that always wants to know the outcome that doesn’t help. So I will stay stuck in my quandary and suffer through it. Forgive me my friends if I don’t call, or if I forget to, or I seen removed from the conversation / not paying attention I’m sorry. You see friends, I’m trying to find my way home. But home is where the heart is and mine is a little lost right now.

All We Need Is Love

Beatles All We Need Is Love

In my mind, it was just yesterday that I worked at Tovi’s True Value Hardware Store. It was just yesterday when I lived at our house in Glenview. Then it was just yesterday when I held each of my kids in my arms after their birth and promised to love them and protect them forever. Every time I blink my eyes a memory passes before me. You know what they say… The eyes are our windows to the world. Our short lives are infinitesimal compared to how much time has passed already or how long time will go on without us. It’s not dollars or cents that we pass on to our children, as that too will be gone quickly. Nor is any building that we built or any accomplishments that we were recognized for in our lifetime. It’s the words we said to our children. It’s the lessons they learned from us. It the mannerisms or the way we treated people or how we loved that goes on and is carried from generation to generation.

Some people teach hate to their children. Many of them have it so ingrained in them that don’t even know that they are doing it. It could be in Israel, or in Palestine, it could be in a black or white community. I’m sorry, but in my lifetime I learned that people are people. People are human, there not colors, they’re not identified as a type of person by the clothes they wear.

The hatred that exists today won’t be solved in our lifetime. For that matter, it may go on for generations. I’m not a biblical historian but I think God did wipe out entire populations as a way to cleanse things. To some degree, I’m sure it solved the problem and it also made an example for others to hopefully learn from.   I’m not sure if God’s ready to step in again. If you remember at one time God was asked if he would spare the city if he could find just 10 good people and he said he would. Unfortunately, he only found one man and he saved his family but he might not be as lenient the next time around.

I have a friend named JJ and he has a jazz band that plays every Friday night in our restaurant for the last 15 years. On each of those Fridays he asks everyone to pray for “peace all over the world.” I’m afraid if he gets his wish God will make it peaceful again but none of us will be here. Maybe he should be asking for us all to show love all over the world.

May love be with you all my friends and your friends and their friends until we have a 60’s love fest going. Ok, Que the Beatles record playing… “All You Need Is Love”

Who Will I Follow Home

I have a game I play at the grocery store when I go there. The game is called “Who Will I Follow Home”. The game usually begins near the checkout counter as people  are getting ready to checkout. If I was single this is a fantastic way to meet the ladies as they always seem to laugh and I get their attention.

I usually admit out loud to these people or persons that “OK I’ll Follow You Home.” Then I go on to tell them they have good instincts in their choices today and I’d be glad to assist them with the scarfing down of their food. Many times the husbands or boyfriends actually invite me to come with them. I think these guys have been deprived of male bonding and need assurance that they are still a man, poor guys. When the ladies are alone they enjoy my banter and if they are closer to my age group I get these looks like, ok where is this going after a little polite laughter. Kids love me, and I usually ask them if I can ride with them in the shopping cart as I’m tired of walking. They usually reply yes, which shocks their mother and I make a failed attempt to climb in.

I have always admitted my addiction to those specialty culinary foods such as Pizza, CocaCola, Ho Ho’s, and meat in general, all baked goods and pretty much anything sugary. It didn’t help me growing up having my French toast with cinnamon and sugar or drowning my cereal with more sugar. If only they had Oreo Double Stuff when I was a kid, I could eat packages of cookies at one sitting. I wasn’t an overweight young man, in fact I was quite svelte and I was very active in sports.

But as you can imagine, as you get older that kind of diet does catch up with you. Especially as we become more sedentary we do not have as much time for sports and activities as our lives take over. Cutting the lawn on the riding tractor or driving the kids everywhere, or glued to the boob tube (and I’m not talking about breasts unfortunately) has set us back. About 20 years back I use to ride a bicycle every night after work. I usually would ride between 15 – 20 miles each ride. I was in much better shape. I also enjoyed my rides so much as they would usually pass through the Chicago Botanical Gardens.

Ok let’s fast forward back to today. I got a present over the weekend. I am in possession of a new bicycle. It was 40% off on sale at Sports Authority going out of business sale. Now my last bike as you read earlier, I rode a lot and when I bought it over 20 years ago it was an $800.00 investment. My new bike was with tax about $189.00. Almost one forth the price but I couldn’t have been happier. It has a gel seat, and a spring in the seat shaft to absorb the shocks of my overweight ass bouncing up and down. (Please remove that image from your brain immediately!) In actuality there was no bouncing as I bottomed out the spring, and my ass would then receive all the pounding it deserved for me getting into my present state of health.

Life is about balance. If you haven’t been doing yoga for the last few years, I can almost guarantee you have no balance. I believe at one point as a child I had a toy that was like a clown on a bicycle that was on a string. The idea of the toy was to get the clown down the string to the other end without flipping it over. My new name is Topsy Turvy the clown. I also do not have a string going through my butt to balance on. If I’m going down I’m going DOWN! When I was my former svelte self to power up a hill, I would stand up and pedal through the uphill battle. On my first ride small inclines felt like mountains and standing up turned me into Topsy Turvey the clown. Oh god, where are my training wheels? Luckily I wasn’t wearing my Tour De France yellow shirt to bring further attention to myself in front of my neighbors.

Somehow, I got through my first ride and I got home. After recovering my breath, I pulled out my phone to look at my new bicycle app. It would give me my average speed, my distance, a geo map of my route, the elevation I overcame and the calories I had burned. I knew based on my past abilities,  at a minimum I did 5 miles or so for being out of shape. I couldn’t wait to post these results online at Facebook which was an option of the app. I could show everyone how great I am.

1.19 miles is what I rode. It had felt like the 20 I use to do and I was dead. But surprised to me, I wanted to do it again. Not that day, maybe the next day or maybe every other day for the first week or so. In the meantime I have to figure how to get this spring shaft out of my ass and get some padded bicycle shorts to make me look hot.  Not sexy hot I’ll actually be sweating hot, sweating profusely and burning the lbs away to get as far away from Topsy Turvy that I can.