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Friday, September 28, 2018

What Happened To Our Summer?

"If you are not barefoot, you are overdressed." - Unknown (but it could easily be Cindy)

In May we took a vacation to Kentucky. We dragged our
refurbished 1967 Fan camper to the National Forest, and found a wonderful campsite. It was
A small sign was
the only way to find it.
secluded, and about 50 feet from a creek. There were almost no mosquitoes, but plenty of frogs and other wildlife. The weather was hot, and humid, but our campsite was shady and cool. Most of the time the rest of the campground was vacant because it was not on most maps, and we had to drive a half hour to get cell phone service. It should have been a great trip, but it was not. Cindy had a pinched nerve or something in her leg, and could
I think if we had been feeling better
we would have stayed another week.
barely walk. She was in pain sitting, standing, or laying down. So there we were camped in an area called "Thousand Trails", and we couldn't walk. We explored by car a little, but there was not much to see or do except for hiking.

A couple days before the end of our vacation, Cindy woke up and her leg was all better. No pain. Not sure why, but she is still OK. Just about the same day as she got better, I started feeling sick with gastrointestinal distress. Looking back it is likely I ate some of those contaminated vegetables that were recalled back then. I was snacking on them a few days before we left. We made the best of it. In spite of not feeling well we had some great meals around the campfire. We even went shooting at the National Forest shooting range. We shot a couple hundred rounds using both the rifles and pistols. Instead of
Lil'Bit was my spotter.
She didn't even flinch.
boring targets we used pages from a coloring book. Cindy and I both hit what we aim at. It was great fun.

Once we got home things got worse for me. I was still having gastrointestinal distress, and at the time just figured I ate something bad on the trip. As I was unhooking the trailer, after burning some clutch getting it parked in the backyard, my foot caught in a hole as I bent down. I sprained the toe joint on my left foot. The common name for the injury is Turf-Toe. It is VERY painful. My foot swelled up, and I was unable to walk, or put any weight on it for several weeks. I took Ibuprofen and other stuff for inflammation and pain. That pretty much sums up the month of June. I spent it on the couch trying to manage the pain in my foot. Luckily after a couple weeks my stomach felt better, but I had lost almost 10 pounds. That was a good thing, so I decided to lose a few more pounds while I was at it. As of today I have lost about 20 pounds, and am trying to stay at this weight of around 180-185 pounds. (closer to 185)

The week after we returned home from vacation, I took the Jeep in for an oil change and check-up, It needed new brakes. New brakes and rotors. Though they did not make any noise, or feel different, they had been grinding metal on metal. Probably all through vacation towing the trailer. On the way
Clear Creek next to our campsite.
home from getting the brake job, the clutch went out again. While the Jeep was back in the shop getting fixed, Lil'Bit cut her paw on something in the back yard. We are still not sure exactly what she did, but it was a deep cut across her pad that required surgery and several stitches to fix. She is fine now. All in all that week after our vacation cost us a little over $2000. Did I mention how bad this summer sucked? With our tight finances, the only way we could mange was to refinance a loan that was almost paid off. We paid for the Jeep repairs, and also paid off a few big credit cards. Overall we will save on interest, but I still dislike borrowing money. I had a pretty good day, and was able to limp into the loan office under my own power without crutches. YAY!

I was feeling pretty good by July 4th, so we had a small party at our house. The weather was hot, and we spent most of the day in the pool. We played Bocce Ball in the pool for hours, and had a great time.

Of course I overdid it, and the next day my feet were both sore. It felt like tendinitis from all the bouncing around in the pool. I really had not been on my feet much for a month so I was out of shape. The tendinitis got much worse, and within a couple of days I was unable to walk again. This time it was a burning pain in my ankles, and up the front and top of both feet. I was taking NSAIDS for the pain and inflammation. After a few weeks, August was fast approaching. Suddenly the pain in
Lil'Bit's first time in the pool.
my feet got worse, and though I had sprained my left foot, my right foot was now even worse. So much for the month of July. We cancelled 2 more vacations because I couldn't walk. I was a shut-in.

Cindy finally nagged me into going to the doctor because the inflammation was not getting any better.  After some unnecessary X-rays and blood tests I was referred to a specialist. Well, the blood tests showed that I was in Stage 3b kidney failure, and just about ready to need dialysis. No more NSAIDS for me. I guess I cannot tolerate taking ibuprofen for such an extended period of time. That is probably related to the reaction I had to the Meloxicam I wrote about in a previous post. After a short examination the podiatrist determined I had Gout. Gout! That explained the severe pain I was in.

Because of my diabetes I was unable to take any steroids for the inflammation. I was prescribed Allopurinol to bring down my uric acid levels (they were 9.5, and anything over 6.8 can cause gout), and Colcrys to alleviate the inflammation. Within a couple weeks I was up and walking. YAY! I have had a couple flare-ups as My uric acid levels slowly come back to normal, but I am doing much better. Unfortunately, that was August. I was still pretty much a shut-in. Three months of doing mostly nothing.

That brings us to September. I am doing much better. I still have to be careful what I eat or I have a
Poor Baby! She did not let it
slow her down any.
gout flare-up and have to take the Colcrys for a few days. That means to me that my uric acid levels are down around 6.8 or so. I am sure they will continue to come down, and will be in the normal range in a few weeks when I get my blood tested again. My last blood test also showed that my kidney function was recovering nicely.

Three weeks into September I am feeling much better. But wait! The last couple of days I have been on crutches! Stupid me! I was feeling better. All I did was vacuum the house, and clean up the kitchen preparing for some company. I wore a different pair of shoes. That was apparently all it took to aggravate the bone spur on my Achilles tendon, and cause tendinitis. After icing it down well this morning it is much better, and I no longer need the crutch to get around, but I am not yet up to hiking anywhere. ...and now it is Hay-fever season. One thing after another. (The heel pain flared up again, and I took some Colcrys. It helped, so it might be gout-related.)

So- June! July! August! Most of September! Gone! We did NOTHING! What an awful summer!

The chain of events suggests I should avoid going to the doctor, and avoid taking their prescribed medications. It all started when my blood sugar levels were elevated. (Actually my glucose meter was broken, and reading high!) My doctor prescribed Jenuvia as an adjunct to control my diabetes. After a few months I had a reaction to the medication. It caused severe arthritis inflammation in my fingers and toes. The pain got so severe I was unable to sleep. It was worse at night. The medication was discontinued.

The pain in my fingers and toes did not go away. I was prescribed Meloxicam, an NSAID, to relieve the pain and inflammation. I also got Actos to replace the Junevia, and am still taking it with no apparent side effects. The Meloxicam worked like a miracle. I was pain free. Everything was fine until a routine blood test indicated my kidneys were not functioning well around January of this year. NSAIDS cause kidney damage!

I was taken off the meloxicam. The good part is that the pain in my fingers and toes did not return. YAY! My blood work showed that my kidney function was back to just about normal after a few weeks. Then I sprained my foot, got tendinitis, took NSAIDS again, and got gout because the NSAIDS damaged my kidneys, and totally ruined my whole summer. At the rate I am going I should be fully recovered by Halloween.

All the constant pain has been a trial. I know it has been very difficult for Cindy. Being in constant pain makes me short-tempered, and just plain miserable to be around. Maybe it is a symptom of my bvFTD, but I fluctuated between frustration, and anger, and sleep. I mostly locked myself in my room, and avoided people. Sometimes I let the dog in. Cindy tried to take care of me, but I am too independent and stubborn to let anyone do anything for me unless I am desperate. Like I said, it was a very difficult summer for poor Cindy.

I tried several different pain killers, without much success. I already mentioned the NSAIDS, but I also tried Vicoden, and Gabapentin. When my feet were really hurting I took vicoden, and even doubled the dosage. It did not work. It didn't even seem to reduce the pain at all, but it did make me sick to my stomach about 12 hours after I took it. So much for that. The Gabapentin worked a little bit better, but it had some unpleasant side effects. I finally tried some edible cannabis, medicinal marijuana. That worked a little, and didn't have any unpleasant side effects. Smoking was much more effective, and alleviated the pain. It allowed me to finally get some decent sleep. I was never an advocate for using marijuana, but I am now convinced it is a viable alternative to manage severe pain.

That brings us to today. I am no longer taking any painkillers, but am still taking the allopurinol and occasionally colcrys to control the gout. Other than that, and not taking any NSAIDS, I have not changed my medications.

What did I do when I was sequestered in my room? Ha! Not much! I read. I love my Kindle! I probably read 2-3 books a week. I am a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, so I have lots and lots of book choices. I bounced between some military science fiction, and some sappy mystery romance and humor. I also re-read Time Enough For Love and The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein. (TANSTAAFL!) also watched some TV. I also purchased a Firestick for the TV in my room. I have access to Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, Sling, HBOnow, and a few of the free access channels. We can't afford the pay ones, but I have wonderful children who share. That gave me plenty of choices, but even that gets old after a while. Right now I am working my way through the TV show Bones. I binge watched several shows, and also watched a bunch of mostly-lousy movies.

My substitute for actual social contact was to spend way too much time on social media. A little bit on Twitter, mostly reading news and comments, but not posting much, and of course Facebook. I drastically limit the number of people who can see my posts. Basically, if I have never met you in person you are not my "friend" on social media. Works for me!

Commenting on political sites is always public, and can be lots of fun as long as you do not take it seriously. As a true Independent I have fun trolling both conservatives and liberals. My political affiliation has always been as a Rational Anarchist. In looking back at my voting history, I have voted almost 50-50 between the parties. Recently I am leaning away from the Democratic Party because it no longer represents my views. I am in no way a Socialist. I believe people should make the best of themselves, and be responsible for their own actions.

My reading buddy.
Couch-bound, and down!
Social media helped pass the time. I found it is not as much fun to troll conservatives. If you disagree with them, they will explain in great pedantic length exactly why your viewpoint is wrong, or just tell you to fuck-off! No fun at all. Liberals, on the other hand, seem to harbor a lot of anger. If I disagree with a liberal, they usually start right off by calling me names. Usually on social media if you disagree with a liberal they will automatically call you a racist, and then get really nasty, even if you are talking about not liking Kale in your salad.Well, here is a word of advice: Don't go calling someone with bvFTD nasty names. Especially not someone who cut their teeth in flame-wars on the bulletin boards of ARPNET. Ha! Poor amateurs!

Anyway, it got me through some long days, and I only had to block a few people. I think a bunch more blocked me. Every time that happened, I knew I had won the game. ...and to me a game is all it is because I do not care what anyone else thinks. Mostly it is just plain fun. Now I usually just read the jokes, and funny memes, and keep in touch with family and friends.

That brings me up to the present. We are planning another vacation, and hopefully we will both be healthy enough to enjoy it. October should be a very interesting month - thanks again to my children..

Please click on an ad before you leave. Those pennies add up, and do make a difference. I think it amounted to nearly 62 cents so far this week! Lil'Bit needs her Scoobie Snacks. She has had a rough summer, too.

Thank you for your time. As my Grandmother used to say, "Better times are coming." And as I always say, "Some days are better than others."

1 comment:

  1. this has been a very tough summer. I have tried to stay busy but the heat was unbearable and with all of lees issues lets just say I am glad it is over and hope the fall is much better. We have an overnight planned and then the kids will be here and the dogs too. Then the craft shows start and then it will be Christmas. I have sewn alot for the shows probably better prepared than ever before. I love Lee more than ever but boy he can be a stubborn pain in the butt. He is still here and so am I. Happy Holidays stay in touch