Sunday, November 22, 2015

Medical Travails Sunday November 22

Well, as of this week I can feel a little bit less like a bum.  My first social security disability check arrived.  So instead of getting paid nothing to sit around the house and catalogue my various aches and pains, I now have a steady stream of income to compensate me for that.  I think that is pretty nifty.  And it’s not like there’s no real work involved.  New aches and pains raise their heads to be catalogued every single day.

I still really have no idea how much longer I have to be around this tired old planet.   I’m not kidding about the aches and pains; new ones seem to arise every day while old ones fade away or take a back seat.   The theme for most of this week has been pain across my lower back, where my left kidney used to be.  (The bastards took it out and didn’t even give me anything useful in return for it, damn them, leaving me with a hole good for nothing except collecting the occasional ache, sometimes acute).  This week the major line of pain has dissipated somewhat, but in its place are spiking pains descending my side in paths parallel to it.   These pains can be quite sharp when trying to get up in the morning, or when I get up in the middle of the night to answer one of my pain alarms.

A pain alarm, in case you’ve missed it in one of the previous narratives, is a smart phone alarm that goes off reminding me to take a pain medication, of which I have three – Oxycotin delayed release, Dilaudid for short-term pain relief, and Lorazapam for pain and anxiety.  The anxiety is no laughing matter; if I let that get out of control, that’s when I start feeling shortness of breath, which is a truly awful feeling.  The medications are set on a schedule, the theory being that if you stay on top of the schedule it’s much easier to deal with the pain than if you get behind and have to play catch-up.  As far as I can tell the theory is sound, but it does require me to get up every four hours on the maximum (sometimes every 2 hours) to take the medication.  A good morning is when I wake up feeling at least somewhat refreshed, with no lingering pain.  A bad morning falls short of that to one degree or another, and a really bad morning falls short by several degrees.  There have been more bad mornings of late than I’d wish for, which is why I say my condition may be deteriorating.  But if so, it’s deteriorating now on the government’s clock, which suits me fine.  (Now here Social Security defenders may be tempted to point out that this is my money, not the government’s money, because I invested it for my benefit it over a period of many years, etc, and so on.  I won’t argue except to point out that if such statements were true then the system would not be in the process of going slowly broke, which it most definitely is doing.  Besides which, at one point it definitely was my money.  I saw it there listed on  my pay stub, where they had to acknowledge that I’d earned it before snipping it right out and making off with it to give it to someone else, those sly devils.  Now I’m getting money that they robbed from someone else’s paycheck to give to me.  See how that works?)

So, as if the advent of revenue from the good folks at the Social Security Administration alone isn’t enough of a reminder that the End is Nigh, another chore that the wife and I took care of this week provides more weight.  We had to arrange for wills.  That’s right, Final Wills and Testaments – for the both of us.  I did not initially see the need even for one will, but people who are smarter about this kind of thing than I am convinced me of the wisdom of having wills in place in order to expedite everything than needs expediting.   After all, there are not one but five different short-term scenarios; me dying leaving Deborah as the sole survivor is the most likely scenario but is just one of five things that can happen, and we have to be ready for each one.  Well, bring it on.  We met with an attorney this week for that purpose.  

Next up:  funeral homes.  Is anyone going to think it inappropriate of me if I refuse to take part in planning for my own cremation and/or burial?  I mean, sheesh.  Being dead sucks but the process of dying sucks worse.   I’m willing to make a deal:  I won’t die, and no one has to carry out funeral arrangements.  How does that sound?  No muss, no fuss for anyone.  So far I haven’t found anyone who thinks such a deal is workable.  I have other ideas.  I ran one by Deborah involving a really cheap cremation service and a flush toilet, but she wasn’t interested in hearing more about that.  Me, I’m for saving every penny.  But I suppose it’s true that when I’m gone, they’re no longer my pennies, so I guess I should quit worrying about it.

The one thing that makes all this bearable is the continual stream of well wishes I get from friends and family via phone, email, Facebook and whatnot.  I am still hearing from folks  who have not previously  contacted me, or for whom it’s been a while.   The outpouring of affection and love in some of these messages is nothing short of amazing.  I won’t embarrass anyone by naming names but you know who you are!  God bless you, one and all.  You make my day and you do it continually.

In a roundabout way this brings us to our next family crisis:  what to do with Thanksgiving.  You may recall that my last trip to California was conducted without incident.  I stayed off the meds, didn’t suffer any inordinate amount of pain, and drove myself, with Deborah as backup.  Now I’m at the point where I have to drive myself to the mailbox in order to avoid a painful walk of about 400 paces. There is no question about driving myself to California; it just ain’t gonna happen.  I wake up every morning not knowing what aches and pains will be setting themselves up, but I do know that there will be some, and perhaps many.  There will be no avoiding the pain meds over Thanksgiving.  So, Deborah could still drive me to California with me hanging out in the passenger seat, but then that begs another question:  what happens if I get a sudden breathing/panic attack?  What happens if I get faint headed and pass out, which has nearly happened several times in recent weeks?  What if any number of other possible medical emergencies take place?  After all, I am on hospice care, which assumes that the worse, not the best, is around the corner.

The alternative is to have my California relatives drive down to Tucson, but they outnumber us and to be honest my rental house is not as comfortable as Amy’s home, not by a long shot and especially not when crammed with visitors.  Yet am I really ready to say that I’m not going to see my sister and her family under non-trying circumstances ever again? That my last trip to California was indeed the last one I’ll ever make?  That would seem like a shame since death certainly does not seem to be imminent.

See, these are the questions I wrestle with, and so far I have no good or consistent answers.  What we’ve decided is that she, her husband and one of my nephews will make the trip.  We will embrace one another perhaps not in the glow of perfect creature comfort, but in the busom of God’s love, as he intends for all of us.   I don’t think anyone can wish for better than that.



  1. Forrest,

    Very sorry to hear you won’t be coming to Escondido this Thanksgiving. We’d been looking forward to it. Very good that Amy, Tim and Ben will be with you and Deborah though. Amy had suggested that we might want to join, but I think there are times that should be reserved for family. I’ll keep the hope that in the near future you’re up for a visit and we can hit the pub.
    In the meantime, know that you and Deborah are in our thoughts as well as our daily prayers.
    Best Regards,
    Mike & Judy

    1. I really regret that I won't be seeing the two of you. You will be in in our thoughts and prayers, I promise you. In the meantime, have a great Thanksgiving!

  2. Forrest, You are so good at explaining the trials of life. Enjoying reading what your mind delivers.

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  4. Forest!
    Happy belated Thanksgiving!
    Remember there are no storms only gentle breezes....May the wind be at your back!

    Keep the faith! 2016 is almost here and hang in there. The mind is a powerful weapon.

    You have my prayers!
    All the best!

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