Friday, April 14, 2017

All's well medically, still sorting

My heart's pumping fine. My brain is healthy. Doctor says I am in great shape. except for the pine pollen that has everyone including me, sneezing and wiping their noses.

Regarding the half clogged carotids, Dr. Greg (his first name and what everyone calls him) said he would order testing every six months to monitor change.  And even if the build up increases I may not be in any danger with the blood still flowing to my brain.  Many other factors like my health in general are used to determine what or what not to do.

We discussed the causes and one thing he brought up was nicotine. He asked if I'd ever smoked, for how long, how much a day and when I finally quit. I quit 25 years ago, smoked a pack a day off and on for 25 or so years. He explained over the years of smoking, the nicotine could have played a part in the build up in those veins. That's something I never considered.

So, for the feeling I had in my brain of being turned off and on again, we'll just leave it at that. A feeling. And I am so relieved.

I've been sniffling and sneezing for two weeks now. Dr, Greg said no, it is not the flu and likely not a cold. It is allergies due to the tremendous amount of pollen besieging us. This year is particularly bad because we haven't had rain to wash it away. Everything outside has had a permanent yellow dusting on it for weeks from the pine trees. I took Mucinex. It didn't work. The I took Zyrtek and that didn't help. Doctor told me to use Allegra instead because it is a different medication and when one doesn't work, the other one will. Hopefully, because I am tired of blowing.

Not much else going on. I did go to grief support group yesterday. My main reason was to see the other Nancy in the group. We started going at the same time and became pals, telling everyone else ours were the only names we could remember. She wasn't at the last meeting and I didn't attend the one before that, so it was a while since we'd seen each other. I wanted to let her know I don't plan to attend any more unless the need arises. Turns out she is at the same point.

Been busy going through more stuff to toss or take to Goodwill. Kevin had so many things that had meaning to him. It is hard, but I manage to let go, a little at a time. Makes me think about myself. I am worse with attachments. I don't want to get rid of my own stuff let alone pick and choose among his favorites. Yet, it is something I have to do while I can. I wouldn't want to leave it up to a beloved relative nor a perfect stranger.

I don't know about you, but I have this idea that my stuff is so important everyone else should love it as much as me. Do you know what I mean? Although, the point is well made when you see stuff with hefty pricing at yard sales. The glass that says, " God bless Milwaukee." or a seashell nightlight from Miami. We don't have those things, I just made them up.

The hardest part is removing the story behind the item in order to let go.

Happy Easter everyone. Here is a picture of Kevin wearing his Easter hat last year on this day:

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday, Monday

 I've been feeling a bit emotional today. A lot of this day reminds me of Kevin. First with a happy feeling and smile. Then ... sadness.

In my attempt to rein in expenses I called Spectrum, planning to ditch cable TV, but hang on to Internet service. Use to be Bright House. Was bought up by Spectrum which sent a letter last year explaining we would get the same stellar service and there would not be a rate hike. They've found reasons to nickel and dime we customers twice since.

Kevin had whittled the service down to a point where he could still watch baseball. Sadly, he never got to watch his favorite teams last year.

So, I've been putting off dealing with the cable people until today. I called and at first ended up with "new Sales" department. The guy immediately assumed I wanted to add a land phone to cable and Internet. When I told him no, he laid it on about how cell phones aren't very dependable and what if I lost my found and had an emergency.. I wanted to tell him how I've gotten by for several years now with a cell phone, I'd be fine. Instead, I thanked him for his concern and he transferred me to the right department.

This guy was all peppy and when he asked why I didn't want TV, I replied that my husband recently passed away and I need to cut my expenses. He told me he was sorry for my loss and waited a few seconds before warning me about having a perfectly good TV taking up space in the living room and not being able to use it. I politely told him I can watch NetFlix on my otherwise dormant TV.

He did manage to talk me into keeping some bare minimum channels. He reassured me I could dump TV altogether if I still didn't want it.

I hate dealing with things like that. How is it we are suckered into paying for TV? Bad enough having to pay for Internet.  If Kevin were here today, it would be a  moot point though as he'd be gearing up for baseball season.

After Zumba class I went to the new Aldis just down the street from home. I feel sorry for Publix because they lost me. What excites me most is the the produce section. Stephanie told me yesterday that the cantaloupes at her Aldis in Palm Beach County  are sweet and just 99 cents. I bought two of them along with a pineapple, strawberries and bananas. Organic.  Plus enough veggies to make many different dishes.

This afternoon I started cutting up a cantaloupe and I felt so happy. I thought, "Kevin is going to love this." Then it hit me. Kevin loved this time of the year and most of summer because he could never get enough fruit. Cantaloupe and berries were his favorites as well as pineapple and watermelon. He decided I was pretty good at picking out the sweetest and freshest fruits.

Last year at this time, Kevin wasn't eating well. He'd still eat a few pieces of cantaloupe, but not like when he would sometimes eat a half of one for dessert. Those days haunt me. Doctors and nurses would say to me, "He needs to eat." No matter how hard I tried I couldn't force him to eat, and I know it was because he couldn't. I was in the middle, trying to do what the medics told me to do and then having to keep pushing Kevin to do something he could not do.

I did a lot of dusting and ran the vacuum this afternoon. Hadn't been done properly in a while and I believe the dust has something to do with my drippy sinuses. As I was doing it I thought about the year Kevin was ill and how I made every effort to keep our home dust free. While he was home with Hospice care, the last time I ran the vacuum before he died, he raised his hand and said, "Don't." I stopped, thinking he didn't want the vacuum noise, Or that I was stirring up dust around him. I don't know why he wanted me to stop.

His box of ashes sit on his rocking chair in a corner of the living room. I talked to him as I moved the box to clean his pillow where the box sits. I told him, I would just be a minute and the room would be fresh and clean again. I wished it was Kevin sitting there reading, with a cup of tea. I would've welcomed an eye roll and a teasing groan as he lifted his feet for me. I would gladly share the cantaloupe with him.

Days like this remind me of what I lost, what everyone who knew him lost. It still doesn't always register. There are glimpses of hope that I will wake up from this very sad dream. Then I take a deep breath and thank my lucky stars for the life we shared. I miss him everyday. Some days, more than others.

Here is Kevin eating watermelon on the National Mall in Washington, DC, July 4th, 2000. It is the same day he shook hands with the Dalai Lama.

Thank you for reading my blog posts and your best wishes and comments. I appreciate hearing from you.  Nancy

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Corroded carotids, cataract clouds, crappy craft show and a cold

Now that I set the stage for this post, I expect you to read it. Hah. No, really. It's been nearly a month since I last wrote. A month full of emotional and physical stress. Every time I thought about updating you, I put it off, hoping for a slow down, some relief. All at once occurrences usually don't happen to me.

But first, let me point out how much I enjoy going to the gym, taking Zumba and drumming classes. I regret not having nor taking the time many years ago for these activities. This part of my days are doing positive things for m and have nothing to do with me otherwise falling apart.

On March 8th I was in bed fiddling with my phone (doing crosswords). When I felt tired, I put the phone away, turned off the lights and said goodnight to the cat and Kevin. All of a sudden I had this feeling in my brain. It was as though I was a robot and someone had, in a microsecond  turned me off and on again. It felt like a wave went through my brain in a dip. I thought, "I am shutting down,"  and immediately, "I back on again."

That was odd, I thought. And took a retake of what happened before falling asleep. The next morning I was off to the gym. While there I started thinking about what happened and at first decided it was probably just my overactive mind. But by the time my workout was finished, I decided it wouldn't hurt to stop by my doctor's office on the way home and mention it, just in case. I ended up with an appointment the following morning.

My doctor said it was possibly a TIA, Transient Ischemic Attack, aka mini stroke or forewarning of a stroke. He said while there is no test to definitely say that is what happened, he'd order other tests to check for stroke conditions and also check my brain to see if there isn't something else going that needs attention. He was surprised by it since I don't fit the pattern. I was just there for my six month check up and all seemed fine. He prescribed the low dose aspirin and off I went with many fears.

When he said TIA I had now idea what he was talking about, but it soon became clear. When I told a few people I realized those close to my age reacted almost nonchalant and cited friends and relatives who have or had TIA. On the other hand, the kids (daughters and grands) were more like me jumping from TIA to stroke and having scary thoughts. I'd read online that 50% of the time those who had a TIA had a stroke within a few days. So that was a trying time between the strange occurrence in my head and the tests.

I know the results of the Doppler carotid test. Both carotids (arteries that bring blood to my brain) are 50% clogged. When I heard that, I was ready to scream in terror. Then I was told my insurance wouldn't cover medical treatment until they were 70 to 80% clogged and the doctor's office had already placed an order to have them checked again in six months. It took me a few days to understand it must take some time for the carotids to get to the danger point.

I didn't get results for the test that checked my heart or the Brain MRI, so no news is good. I have a follow-up appointment next week.

In the meantime, I went to the eye doctor regarding cataracts in my left eye. It is getting tough driving at night and harder to see very far away.  They set up an appointment for cataract surgery in June. I am planning to spend most of May in wonderful Palm Beach County with the girls.

This was also kind of a hassle. I didn't care for the optical place I went to on last fall for new glasses. I ended up paying a lot more for the glasses then the insurance company said. what they did was talk me into special deals on everything from the frames, lens to coatings, which cost me more money. Each line item was the same but added up differently. I can't explain. I decided to go to the Hernando Eye Institute which is where Dr. Tang sent Kevin a year ago. It seemed more professional and listed in the insurance company manual. I'd asked my primary care doctor is I need a referral from him and he did one.

When I called for an appointment I found out they weren't contracted with that company, that I was assigned to another place and to call my insurance and request a change. Another long story short, they did allow the change and boy am I glad. Since then I 've heard nothing but horror stories about the other place regarding cataract surgery and nothing but good things about the doctors at the eye ins.

While all of this is going on I was busy preparing for an upcoming craft show that turned out to be a dud. It was a twofer in downtown Brooksville. A statewide bicycle racing event and a health fair.  I wasn't going to do it, but was talked into it and they lowered my entry fee. Doesn't matter I still lost money and a whole day.

Kevin and I did the annual bike racing event in 2010 when we first moved here. It was busy, fun and somewhat successful as far as sales. At the time it was run by the city.

This time the downtown association took control. Crowd turnout was low. The two events were set up on different city blocks and there didn't seem to be any commingling. Few people from the health fair bothered to check out booths on the race side which is where my booth was located. And the racers didn't pay any attention to what we were offering. I'd spent a lot of time stamping fabric with my famous stamp of Kevin's favorite bike's tread. Please note that's a drop of gold paint on the wallet and not ice cream.

I had a few sales. Some of the other vendors had no sales. it was the first really hot day of the year and I started having a sore throat. The good takeaway was getting to know some new vendors and catching up with others that I know from earlier shows.

That brings us to Tuesday (today) and I am hopefully getting over a cold. At least my throat feels better this morning.

Lots of good things happened. I went to the movies with my neighbor. We both admitted the movie sucked, but it was fun to be social on a Tuesday afternoon.  Had lunch with Anna and Sally, as always fun to be with them. Made lots of chicken soup and am brainstorming over what's next for Antsy Nancy Co aka Antsy Artist Redux.

I didn't get to the yard yet for urgent spring cleaning. I dread it more than ever. Kevin loved spring and always things everywhere.  Hot weather and summer here means doing yard work when you can stand to be out in the heat which is before 10 a.m.

I probably forgot some things I meant to share, but for now I am tapped out. and sure you are, too.

I've decided to lay off going to grief support. I can always go back.The topics and questions are generally the same each week and no longer things that concern me. The other reason to keep attending is for helping others get through it. I don't feel like the subjects they address have much to do with me. And there are others who are eager to help those new to grieve and loss.

Kevin is still keeping our beautiful blue skies interesting. Here is his artwork for the bike racing event:

I hope you have a less eventful, but better event-filled week, than me. Thank you for reading my posts. I am grateful for all of your good wishes.