Sunday, August 31, 2008

Why should be rebuild New Orleans - AGAIN?

Well, we've got a nasty hurricane headed for New Orleans. Again. It's a bowl, below sea level. Of course it's a hurricane magnet.

My question - why keep rebuilding it? If it's so flood-prone, so costly to repair, why not just write it off? The government could buy out all those affected and they could move somewhere safer. No more worries about hurricanes and no more evacuations. It would probably be a lot cheaper.

It seems incredibly wasteful to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to repair homes and business that in all likelihood, will be severely damaged by the end of the week. Three years. That's how long it's been since the last one. Is it really worth it?

Are we going to perpetually "bail out" New Orleans every hurricane? Or will we finally stop and cut our losses? We have enough national debt as it is.

It's not worth it.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Taste perversion

"Taste Perversion". Sounds harmless, huh?

Well, when you're blind, can't hear that well, and eating is one of your only joys in life it's hell. Yeah. My husband is suffering "Taste Perversion" as a side effect of God Knows What, probably the Bactrim.

But Bactrim, that's harmless! I had a family member tell me it is "safe". Here's a link to "safe's" side effects: http://www.rxlist.com/cgi/generic/bactrimiv_ad.htm

The ones that got Ron: Stomatitis, nausea, abdominal pain, vertigo, hallucinations, "taste perversion" and he had a horrible psoriasis flare up. I mean, look at that link! Kidney failure! Horrible, horrible, stuff.

I may be able to help a little with the Taste Perversion - I read another link that suggests that zinc supplementation may help. It can't hurt!

We are definitely reporting it to the FDA - I found the https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/medwatch-online.htm Medwatch link.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

GO AWAY!

It looks like Hurricane Gustav is going after New Orleans.

What does Houston think?

"Finally, some plain old common sense prevails.......i.e. No vacancy at the Dome for hurricane evacuees."

"I know that not all of the Katrina evacuees are thugs, gov leeches, etc---but if you live in the Houston area, you know that this type does make up the majority of the refugee group. "

"Another 3 to 4 year vacation for the new orleans people. I think they need to tatoo the prisoners now, so we can tell them from the rest of the people coming. We did our duty with the people from Katrina. Let another state help now. Do you think mother nature is telling someone something. Wasn't a statement made that new orleans would be a chocolate new orleans.
8/28/2008 7:35:38 AM "

"Direct the evacuees EAST this time - share the devistation with the rest of the country. We did our bit LAST TIME and we're STILL paying for it. Schools overloaded with disrespectful children and parents. No tax base for these 'guests" so WE have to pick up their education tab.It's someone else's turn! "

"Being one of the Katrina evacuees myself, The ones that decided to stay in New Orleans were mainly the ones that lived of the government anyway. They weren't productive citizens at all in New Orleans. So I can understand the sentiment of some of the posters on this thread. The crime was unmanageable then and is worse now. At least in Texas, a homeowner, renter or property owner is able to do something about a little bit of the crime. That aspect rocks!! "

"Hope it goes away. Houston can not afford another hit on New Orleans." I coudn't agree more.

Scroll down to the bottom of this link and look at the comments: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/hurricane/5971278.html

We will never, ever take them in again. We got burned very badly, people mooching off the city and taxpayers forever. It was very common to see an article on the news, someone had free housing for 2 years, going to be evicted. "I have nowhere to go. I've been working on getting a job..." For 2 years? You couldn't get a job doing anything for 2 years?

One woman, in a recent case, moved in with a woman named Rhonda after Hurricane Katrina and left her five children for Rhonda to raise. The children looked great, two little girls wearing glasses, happy grins all around. The birth mother came back and said she needed the kids to pass a housing inspection. They argued, and a knife was pulled on Rhonda. She took the kids and ran. It's now in the courts. Oh, and by the way, the mother's new boyfreind raped one of Rhonda's daughters! What a nice guy! We want them to come back for sure! I want to carry them on my back!

Every single evacuee I rode with on Metrolift - who mentioned it - was a royal PITA (pain in the ass). Very demanding, ugly, attitudes. One demanded the driver to buy her lunch. They'd pitch a fit if it wasn't a straight trip and it seemed like all they did was complain.

Once the foodstamps and free rent dried up, a lot of them went back. Good riddance.

I'm referring to the evacuees now. Even someone who moved here from New Orleans agreed that they were trouble.

I just watched the news. NO EVACUEES.

We learned a hard lesson 3 years ago about being the "nice guy". Never again.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Be Rude to the 'Tude

When I took my nap today, I was feeling very discouraged and inadequate.

When I woke up, I had a phrase in my head "Be rude to the 'tude". It really resonated. Don't respect the bad thoughts. They're not worth it.

All they'll do is drag me down.

Hostage/Doubt

My husband's moving like an old man. His voice is weak. He's tired. It's awful to watch. Loving someone who's hurting is very difficult. You've got a hostage.

I care so much for him, and things are so uncertain. It looks like he'll be getting the hand surgery next week. I'm not worried about what happens afterward - I do his job and mine for 6 weeks. That's easy. I assume he will not be in a lot of pain after the first few days. I may have to help him eat; which I don't mind. Ron's not the clingy, dependent type. He'll do whatever he can for himself.

When he's in really bad shape, I don't worry so much about anesthesia and procedures. If he's in obvious pain or trouble, they've got to do what they've got to do. I just sign off and say "God's will, not mine". God's wanted him to live so far.

I don't even fear the what-if's of surgery. Either he'll make it or not. It's a simple procedure so I am certain he'll be fine.

My biggest fear? I won't be up for the job. I will fail him in some way because I'm not "normal". I can't drive. The last time we went in to the doctor's office they spoke of "Heading over to the hospital." I mentioned I can't drive. "Oh, you can just walk". Can we? Will it be safe for Ron? From what I remember last time, it's not safe. I get stressed out trying to keep him safe and navigate at the same time.

If I were normal, this wouldn't even be an issue, I think. I'd be driving and Ron would just get in the car and we'd drive. But I'm not normal, I can't drive, and Ron has to suffer as a result.

It's not fair to him. He didn't force my mother to drink during her pregnancy or pass on her bipolar disorder in my DNA. Why does he have to suffer because I'm disabled? It's not fair for him to depend on a "crazy" person to be his caregiver. I'm only as good as my medication. That's a hard fact to accept.

He'd probably say, my differences make me "better" than the average person. Average would have run screaming from him after his accident and certainly wouldn't have stuck around during his delusions. I can't fathom leaving him, no matter how bad things get. It's not in my makeup. Does that make me "better than average" or just an idiot? I don't know.

Days like today, I think I'm an idiot. Not because I refuse to abandon Ron, but I'm an idiot for thinking I can take care of him, "better" than the average person.

But God wants me here, doing this, right now. I know I'll give Ron 110% of what I've got to give during and after his surgery, but I really wonder if God knows what He's doing.

I hate that my husband has to suffer. I'd much rather hurt than watch someone I love hurting. Thank God I've got my own illness well-managed. I just wish we could be done with all the medical problems. Permanently.

He'll be needy. He'll be impatient. He'll get frustrated. I'll do my best to be patient, loving and kind. I'll do his job and my own and try to make it look easy. I'll eat the right things and take care of myself to the best of my ability. I'll probably schedule a bubble bath or two every week while I'm doing laundry. I'll do my best. Sometimes I'll fail. I'll get a sharp tone of voice with Ron, a sigh, I'll forget things I should have done or do them wrong.

We'll manage, but I often wonder why God put the two of us together? I wouldn't trade him for anyone in the world but I really wonder at His wisdom in putting together someone with brain damage, with another person with brain damage who's also blind.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Stigma

Today, on a message board, someone told me I shouldn't joke about having mental illness. Excuse me?

Yes, she went on to say, because someone she knew got stabbed by someone with mental illness. I'm sorry, but to my mind, it's not surprising. I've gone into this before: it's nearly impossible to get treatment for a mental illness in America.

If I became delusional and locked myself in a closet, I'd get a quickie "shot in the butt" treatment and they'd throw me back out on the street before I woke up again, doing nothing to treat the underlying cause. I've seen it. God, the paperwork alone would kill a normal person, much less someone who isn't in reality!

Why is it so easy for my husband to go to an emergency room and get treatment for physical pain, yet, when I went to the same hospital suicidal they gave me a pat on the head, a few names and numbers, and best wishes? The hospital asked detailed questions about my husband's living situation, nutrition, etc. Me? "Did I have a plan?" No? OK, see ya! Don't let that door hit'cha on the way out, Heather!

I'm not bitter, I'm just resigned. Everyone seems so shocked when someone with mental illness commits a crime. It's inevitable, people. When psych meds, assuming you can find a doctor like my aunt did, costing hundreds to thousands a month, and many people with mental illness basically unemployable, what do you expect? Who's going to bring proof of residence and all the other crap when you're convinced the government is out to get you?

In all honesty, I am probably only one week away from living under a bridge. If I stopped my meds, I would crash in a rapid and dramatic fashion. I always remember I'm only a few missed doses away from the Bad Times.

And why is it so shameful to say I have bipolar disorder? This same woman, who claims an unspecified "mental illness, but I don't talk about it all the time like Heather does". Hm.

We, Americans, Society as a whole, have this attitude that a mental illness is akin to a bowel movement. You have to hide it very, very, well, and never, ever talk about it?

WHY, DAMNIT? I can help people! I have!

I shared my experiences with a friend as I began my medication routine. How wonderful it was not to be suicidal! Really, he asked? I was suicidal? Yes. I told him, all I'd think about day in and day out was killing myself. Now I don't.

He mentioned very offhandedly that he got a little depressed sometimes and wondered if "something" would help. I encouraged him to try something, and told him "It's a brain thing, it's not you. You're fine. You would take medicine for your heart, wouldn't you?" Put that way, he did.

"I'm a whole new man, Heather."

Many times, when I mention my illness, I get questions. What is it, exactly? I tell them. Oh, OK. I'm educating. And when my aunt's friend's daughter got diagnosed, I told her "You have to get Mom the Bipolar Survival Guide." Now Mom has tools, information, and someone to call if she has questions.

If we with mental illness were more evangelistic about it, we'd eliminate the stigma. Sure, we'll always have weasels who tell us to shove our ligth under a bushel, don't make noise, don't talk about it.

But guess what, my husband pays my check. Not them.

I guess I should look into joining http://nami.org . Huh?

Home Again.

Ron's doing better today. He was actually able to put in a few hours at work without collapsing in exhaustion. We came home so he could take a nap before I go to Walmart.

I need more Lithium (!) and groceries. I need to do dishes, wash my bedding, housework, etc., but right now I'm blogging because it's fun. I need to take care of myself, too. To quote a very wise woman "I'm no good to him if I'm no good to me".

I did ask Ron if he liked having me there when he was in the hospital. What if he'd said "Oh, it didn't matter either way, you could have gone home"? Well, I'd know not to stay next time! Anyway, I asked and he said "Definitely". Good. It's nice to know he wants me around.

Does that mean I want a clingy, dependent husband? God, no! One of the sexiest things I find about Ron is his fierce independence and self-determination. He won't let anything stop him. Not even being hit by a pickup truck. I laugh when I recall the shock and disbelief that greeted my statement "Even in a wheelchair, he'll be back at work stocking his vending machines." He was. But not for long, oh, no, as soon as he could he retired the wheelchair. His walking isn't pretty but he's walking. Again, I find that immensely appealing. How lazy are we, the average Americans? We'd do anything to avoid walking a couple hundred yards and he's walking as much as he can. He hates it but he realizes he's got to "Use it or Lose it". He keeps me accountable, I don't take shortcuts anymore and I stay as fit as I can. I truly respect him.

When he's tired and weary, cold, and can't find the call button on the remote, it's good to know I'm there to push it for him. To ask for more pain medication, or just to ask a question. He loves the way I tuck him in, wrapping him up like a burrito. He's suffering enough, why add loneliness to the equation? There's something profoundly lonely about a hospital bed.

It's not so bad, I guess, when I'm there to gossip about the weight limits on the hospital beds and rattle off his medical history to anyone who asks. He doesn't like to think about all the damage he sustained in the accident, he'd rather focus on what he can do. I admire him for that but someone needs to know why he's got that huge scar on his chest and 5 chest tube drain scars. We wondered what God-forsaken things the cats were bringing home through the cat door and I ranted bitterly about the limited low-carb options in the cafeteria.

Thank God for Vanilla Cream Slim-Fast Low-Carb Diet Shakes. And peanuts. Since I ran out of groceries, we were supposed to go the day Ron went to the hospital, I've been eating a lot of peanuts.

I'm getting a little sick of them, honestly. I can hardly wait to get something else.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bug out bag

When we left for the hospital, I brought a small (next time, large) cooler filled with low-carb snacks, my purse, and my bug out bag.

What the heck is that? Well, in my life I've found it handy to have a bag packed and ready to go at all times, because you just don't know what life's going to throw at you. One thing I'm working on now - loading all my digital photos and music onto a flashdrive. I can throw that in there too. I need to evacuate? Road trip? So what? I've got what I need.

So, what did I have?

  • Clothes. One time Ron was in the hospital and I had one change of underwear. I didn't get home for days and then my period started! YUCK. I brought a couple of t-shirts, a nice comfy pair of knit pants (drawstring waist, kind of scrub-like). I wore them to sleep and when I was awake. A fresh bra, 3-4 changes of underwear, t-shirts, and comfy pants and shorts.
  • A blanket for Ron, who's always cold. Everyone remarked on my wrapping technique. Ron kind of likes to be swaddled when he's sick.
  • Medication - a week's worth and extra lithium. Obvious.
  • Tunes. Both Ron and I brought our MP3 players. We loved having them. Extra batteries. I killed a battery while I was there.
  • Snacks - they went into my cooler.
  • Hygiene stuff - obvious for a woman of childbearing age.
  • Toiletries. I have them all set up in their own bag. Soap, lotion, q-tips (I need my q-tips), shampoo, etc. It was nice to use my stuff. Ron's room had a shower. Yay!
  • Entertainment. I brought a black and white knitting project. It was easy and fun. I should have brought more yarn, though. I almost ran out.
  • I also brought painkillers and pepto - which I use fairly often.
  • Next time I will bring some benadryl to help me sleep.

That's basically it. If it were a true bug out bag you would also add your ID documents, Deed to the house, credit cards, etc.

For my purposes, my current bag works great. I was so glad I could just grab it and go.

In Sickness

In addition to the hand arthritis and the facial abcess, Ron developed agonizing stomach pains and nausea. I had to take him to the hospital. Good thing I had the bag packed. Next time, I'll bring more food and yarn.

The hospital's selection of low-carb foods was DISMAL once you got past breakfast. If I eat another cup of tuna salad I'll scream. I was already burned out on tuna salad because I'd made batch after batch for Ron this last week.

No, I don't think my tuna salad put him in the hospital!

He has gastritis; his stomach isn't emptying properly, and he may have a gimpy gallbladder. He spent one night in the hospital, in agonizing pain. I stayed with him.

Why? It's what I do. If Ron's in the hospital, I stay with him. Ever since his accident, he's always done better when I'm around. Doctors have actually come to me and told me they've written ordes that I'm to stay with him in his room. Respiratory therapists have demanded I stay because "He be good for you! Your wife here! You be good for your wife! Tell him to breathe in." I'd bellow at him, he'd comply, and the therapist would walk off with a grin. Apparently he was a very bad boy until I showed up.

One day a medication tech brought the wrong medicine for him. I was glad I stayed so I could bold upright in my chair - they always have a chair, and yell "HE'S NOT MR. JONES!" as Ron reached obligingly for the pills (he was pretty foggy for a while).

But it's simple, it always comes down to this: Ron does better when I'm around. Why should I stay at home, worried about transportation, worried about Ron, knowing he forgets his medical history? He'll wake up and kind of peep at me. I'll talk to him and he'll go back to sleep. If the IV pump alarm goes off, he's in pain, or he needs a urinal, I can go get it.

Besides, this time I only stayed one night. I've stayed weeks with him.

This time, I had my medication. Things went fine. I'm sure no one even guessed I'm bipolar.

That's the way it should be.

Next time, more yarn, more peanuts. I just wish it wasn't so surprising that I want to take care of him.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

When Crisis strikes

I'm going to go back in time. January 7, 2003. My husband had just been hit by a pickup truck while walking to work. I'm at the hospital. It's lunchtime.

"Heather, you have to eat." I'm prodded. What do I get? Chocolate ice cream. I did pretty well after that until Ron's dad let slip the fact that the hospital had a bakery. I really did not need that information.

I had lost 20 pounds or so by working out 10 hours a week and adhering to a low-fat diet. I ate so little red meat I was rejected as a blood donor. Needless to say, after I learned about the bakery I gained it all back in a few weeks.

Future reference: If Ron has a health crisis and you know of a bakery nearby - DON'T TELL ME!

We had some very emotional and exhausting "family meetings". I was not feeling the love, very emotional and tearful, I'd head for... the bakery.

Fast forward: 2008. I've broken my sugar addiction. I'm eating low-carb. I'm eating salads and fresh raw veggies every day. I pack lunches and snacks so I'm not tempted at work.

Today at work, in fact, I ate a lovely mini-meal of sharp cheddar cheese stick, 1 cup sugar snap peas - raw, and 1 cup beef sauteed with onions and garlic until just crunchy. Delicious. Only then did I go stock hundreds of candy bars. Candy and low blood sugar is a very bad combination.

I like to think I'm pretty experienced at managing my low-carb life. Ron's got a lump on his face, some kind of sinus infection? He's got hand surgery coming up and his good hand will be immobilized for 6 weeks. I'll have to do his work and mine. I'm worried about him.

Old habits do die hard. It is very tempting to think, "I'll just eat this". Now, to be honest, I did treat myself - a concious choice - to some no sugar added ice cream. I ate a 12 (carbohydrate) gram portion. I put the lid on it, and put it back in the freezer. It's the first time I felt like I was in control of the ice cream instead of the other way around. I bought some Caffeine Free Diet Dr Pepper - I've heard bad things about aspartame but it's sweet and hits the spot.

I'd slipped out of working out - very easy, I had an elbow injury and I couldn't lift much, then I stopped doing the cardio because I was too stressed, too tired (we have to run a business in addition to the health crises), too anything.

"I deserve it". Why? Do I hate myself that much? It isn't sugar to me, it's POISON. I wouldn't put ant bait in the cat food, why would I put sugar in my body? My body serves me well. I'm not going to subject myself to that. It was hell going off the sugar back in February/March. I am not going through that again. I felt so awful, I realized the true extent of my sugar addiction.

I deserve better than that. I deserve healthy, nourishing foods and stress-relieving workouts. I deserve to be at the top of my game so I can support Ron 110%. He deserves a healthy, vibrant, dependable, wife. How can I help him run the business if I'm stricken with a migraine?

I know, however, that I have to do it for MYSELF, first and foremost. It's my body, my health, my mind. As soon as I stopped the workouts I began to get depressed. I had a 45 minute cardio workout tonight and I feel great. My depresssions are always worse at night, but not tonight. Tonight, I'm fine, because I respected myself.

If Ron ends up in the hospital, I've got a bag packed by the door. I'll bring my medication, my MP3 player, my Bible, and a cooler full of "legal" snacks.

I deserve good health.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Playlist

With all the drama and stress the last couple weeks, Ron and I each bought ourselves an inexpensive MP3 player. Mine is a bright red, 1 Gigabyte, and $30 retail.

I thought you might get a kick out of my playlist:
Come Sail Away - Styx
Don't Bring me Down - ELO
Beverly Hills - Weezer
Blessed be Your Name - Tree 63
Carry on My Wayward Son - Kansas
Heart and Soul - T'pau - the first "album" I ever bought
Tubthumping - not even going to try to spell the artist
Welcome to the Jungle - Guns N Roses
Pure Energy (I want to know what you're thinking) - Information Society
When I grow up - Pussycat Dolls
Dadra - Ravi Shankar (Indian music)
It's My Life - No Doubt
Hey Ya - Outkast
Knew you were waiting for me - Aretha Franklin and George Michael
Let's Fall in Love - Diana Krall
Bridge Over Troubled Water - Amen Singers
Jump - Van Halen
Would I Lie To You - Eurthythmics
It's the End of the World - REM
Mirror - Barlow Girl
Don't Ask Why - Step Rideau and the Zydeco Outlaws
Monkey - George Michael
Neutron Dance - The Pointer Sisters
Missionary Man - Eurythmics
Track 8 from "Prince Igor" - Borodin
I can't help falling in love with you - UB40
Love is like Oxygen - Sweet
Rat in de Kitchen - UB40
Flute and Drum Quest - Native Flute Ensemble
Fame - David Bowie I think, Ron didn't label it.
Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd
Does anybody really know what time it is? - Chicago
Doing it all for my Baby - Huey Lewis
London Homesick Blues - Jerry Jeff Walker
I Want a New Drug - Huey Lewis
Happy to be stuck with you - ""
Power of Love - ""
Sweet Home Alabama - Lynrd Skynrd
The Craw-dad Man - Step Rideau and the Zydeco Outlaws
Wish you were Here - Pink Floyd
Why you lookin' so sad? - Step Rideau

There you have it. I like it, I think it says a lot about me. [grin] Hopefully, good things.

Take care!

Lumpy

Things were pretty quiet for a while, except for my losing weight. I've lost 8 inches each off my waist and hips, only 4 more inches to go. Working out regularly, eating smart foods.

About a month ago Ron decided that his hand is bothering him enough to have surgery. Here's the press release from The Hand Center about the procedure:
"
THE HAND CENTER’S ARTHROSCOPIC INTERPOSITION ARTHROPLASTY PROCEDURE for treatment of basilar thumb joint arthritis. Continuing with Dr. Brown’s tradition of developing minimally invasive techniques to reduce patient pain, suffering and minimize recovery time (The Brown Procedure endoscopic carpal tunnel technique, Brown Endoscopic Trigger Release, BETR) Randolph Lopez, M.D. and the other Hand Center surgeons have developed a modified minimally invasive arthroscopic technique for treating the very common problem of basilar thumb joint (metacarpal-trapezial) arthritis which commonly causes pain at the base of the thumb.
Using a simple two-portal technique, the joint is resurfaced arthroscopically, and an acellular dermal matrix allograft or a type 1 collagen graft is interposed, acting as a much needed cushion in the joint. This is an outpatient procedure requiring NO stitches. The patient is placed in a removable thumb spica splint avoiding an uncomfortable cast and may resume normal activity in six weeks.
This procedure has revolutionized treatment of basilar joint arthritis, sparing large incisions, painful removal of bone and debilitating bone fusions.
Well, that's not so bad, except for the 6 weeks of me doing Ron's work and mine. He doesn't know about that yet. I'll sure lose weight!
But wait, there's more! About a month ago, Ron showed me a "Pimple". I'm a bit of an acne expert - I had my first pimple when I was about 9 - I still get one or two now and then but it's not bad. I told him we couldn't pop it because it didn't have a head.
Last week he called me over to look at his lump. It was about the size of a teaspoon. Now it's a little bigger than a tablespoon. Our doctor is fairly concerned. She sent him off for stat blood tests, which came back OK. Today was CAT scan and re-exam. Thank God "it" hasn't grown any more.
Since Ron had a similar, large, tumor on his neck as a child, it is most likely a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurofibromatosis Neurofibroma. Odds are very strong (90%) that it's benign, that's the good news. The bad news is these things can grow to be hundreds of pounds.
We have an appointment with an ENT surgeon (only in Houston can such a doctor be found within 10 miles of our home) who actually has an office in the same building as the Hand Surgeon.
I couldn't get all the sleep I needed this week and workouts went out the window, but I'm eating right. My body has rewarded me with a 1/4 inch loss off my waist just last night!
More as it happens.... H.

Consolation

Ron needs to realize, not everyone is consoled by his "Don't worry, the end of the world is coming soon" speech.  Agh.