This will be a quickish update regarding the crazy/evil gut pain. No cute kitty pics or grandbaby updates this time. Just wanted to catch you all up/record this in case I forget because I go to too many dr appointments and Pain Brain is a real thing.
As I mentioned previously I was able to get approved for charity/indigent care with the local hospital. This also, fortunately, covers the doctors in their system. My primary care doctor is in their system so I was able to go back to him after two years of not being able to afford to go see him. Here's the thing: when you have multiple health issues and receive your medical care piecemeal through several different caregivers you have to be a strong advocate for yourself. If you have multiple pain conditions, especially if those conditions include back pain and fibromyalgia people don't take you seriously. There's this disdain as if you were lazy / low life / drug seeking. It's hard to be an activist for your own health without feeling like THAT woman that doctors hate to see coming. It makes you reluctant to be pushy. That's why it was such a huge relief for me to be able to go back to the doctor who has been treating me over a long period of time and has witnessed the multiple issues and conditions I have because he diagnosed many of them.
I am extremely grateful that there is a free clinic in our town that fills in the gap for people who have chronic illness combined with low incomes. The people there are nice and I'm always mindful that they are donating their time. The truth is, however, that they primarily deal with people who are not well informed about their health issues. If you ask about your recent lab work they'll tell you things were "fine" or "a little high" but not give you the actual numbers. When I asked once for a copy of my lab results the nurse said, "I don't think we can do that." Which, of course is ridiculous but it's just not in me to be assertive with someone who is a volunteer. I literally asked three different people before I got a copy of my ultrasound results last week. The point is that they're not in a position to be a primary care giver. They treat very specific chronic illnesses and ... that's just what they're able to do.
I'm also grateful to have been able to continue to see my pain specialist over the past few years even if it's been costly to do so. They have been the only constant throughout all of this. I appreciate that they have been willing to cooperate with me even though I've been unable to do any addition testing or new treatments due to a lack of insurance. Am I one hundred percent certain that they've handled my issues as well as they could be? No. That's my fault as well as theirs, though. They haven't pushed me or made me feel bad about not being able to do anything different. They've been supportive and encouraging about the disability process and I truly need their input to be able to win my case.
I went to my primary care doctor today and basically caught him up on the past two years, especially the crazy gut pain details. He evaluated the information we have - still no results on the MRI or x-ray - and laid out a game plan for finding out the cause of the pain. I had some additional blood work done today and he is scheduling a CT scan for me. Once we have those results - and hopefully the results of the MRI and x-ray - he'll be able to determine which way to go next. He was very reassuring and told me that any specialty I need to see is available to me under the charity care program. It is a HUGE relief to feel like the burden of self-advocacy is no longer on my shoulders. I don't have to visit Dr. Google (which I do every time I go through a bad flare up), I don't have to worry about what we're missing. I can just be a normal patient and rely on the doctor to do what needs to be done. It's life-changing for me!
And another thing... I just love how friendly and welcoming everyone is in that office. It's a large practice and fairly busy but nobody makes you feel like they're rushing you through. They called me back quickly even though I arrived about fifteen minutes early. Their records are done on a computer system (which may be very common nowadays but it's not that way at the pain doctor or the free clinic). At the end of the visit they give you a printed summary of your visit including things like your weight, blood pressure and the reason for your visit. SUCH a help for people like me who see too many doctors and can't remember from one visit to another those little details.
The only hiccup in my visit was trying to give a urine specimen. It took four attempts! I was so embarrassed! I was drinking gatorade when I got there and the nurse brought me a solo cup of ice water to see if that would help. They sent me to the lab and the lab girls refilled my cup and let me try again. I sat there FOREVER and it just would not come out! I go to the bathroom more than anybody you've ever seen. Seriously, I woke up six times the other night to go the bathroom and I only slept seven hours! I went and sat back out in the lab waiting room playing sudoku on my Nook until I thought I *might* finally be able to go. And what's really embarrassing is that I have to ask for those little "hats" they put to collect urine because I can't contort myself to catch it in the little specimen cup. I wasted all those hats! At any rate... I was finally able to go and then barely made it home because all that stuff I had been drinking finally hit my bladder.
So that's the latest. They're usually quick about scheduling testing so I'm sure I'll have the CT scan in the next week or so and we'll just go from there.
ALSO.... the plane tickets are purchased for the Gant Girls to go to New York for our new inductee's bridal shower. We're doing a quick turnaround - only away from White County for about 36 hours WHICH, just in case Cosette isn't here yet will drastically reduce the time frame where I might not be here when she's born. I truly believe she'll be an April baby but just in case.
And that's my Thursday. Time to get some mango italian ice and tuck the kitties in for the night. Love and hugs, y'all!
Thursday, March 26, 2015
This will be a quickish update regarding the crazy/evil gut pain. No cute kitty pics or grandbaby updates this time. Just wanted to catch you all up/record this in case I forget because I go to too many dr appointments and Pain Brain is a real thing.
Posted by Heather at 6:51 PM
Monday, March 23, 2015
Is it Monday again? How did that happen? Time flies when you sit around doing nothing. I'm kidding. I may not be exactly running marathons physically but I'm always working on something that fits my sedentary lifestyle.
While reaching for a qtip last night I cut my thumb on a razor and then while searching for a bandaid under my bed I dripped blood on the carpet. Why are razors in my qtip drawer? I have no idea. Why do I store bandaids under the bed? See answer to previous question. Organization is not my strong suit. I really do have a good bit of space down here in the Whine Cellar. More room than most New York apartments, minus the kitchen. Actually... my mini-fridge and microwave and electric kettle probably put me in competition with a lot of NYC apartments. Not to mention the freezer in the shed that holds lots of goodies.
Anyways... the nasty little tiny cut on my thumb has made sewing next to impossible so I'm working on ancestry.com instead of sewing like I usually do during the daylight hours. It's crazy that such a small injury can be such a bother. I couldn't do my hair today. Or shower. And many other things that don't involve personal hygiene.
I advertised this as a Reasons to Love Monday post and I haven't yet gotten to the love part. Sorry about that. Adult onset A.D.D. is a real thing, y'all. I really do have some butt-kicking Reasons to Love this week so here goes:
|This will be a pillow...|
2. Peanut, aka Grandbaby #2 aka Oliver/Elijah will be here in about four months which also brings the finish line into closer view. I would tell you that I don't have a clue about how to be a grandparent but I'm pretty sure I know a whole lot more about being a grandma at (almost) 47 than I knew about being a parent at 18. We got this.
3. In between grandbabies #1 and #2 the very exclusive Gant Girl Sorority gets a new member and that's a RTL (reason to love) in and of itself but it also involves traveling (WHICH I LOVE) to New York (WHICH I LOVE) and Connecticut (WHICH I have never visited before but based on The Gilmore Girls I'm sure I'll love) in early Summer. I haven't been out of Northeast Georgia in almost two years so even though I know it's going to be difficult I am really, really excited about traveling.
4. But wait... that's not all... I also get to enjoy my nieces' first Broadway show with them on a Wednesday matinee while we're up North for the wedding and surrounding festivites. I'm not well versed in Broadway etiquette but aren't Wednesday matinees sing-alongs? No? At any rate... I've been watching a series of YouTube videos on "Behind The Emerald Curtain" showing all the different pieces of putting together Wicked. I geek out on all that theatre techy stuff and it makes the show even more interesting for me. You might not remember but the last time I saw Wicked was in Boston during the first month of the Darby Era. I have a feeling I'll enjoy it much more this time. So... trip, wedding, Wicked....
5. BUT WAIT... at the risk of sounding like an info-mercial THERE'S MORE! Mom and myself are going on a bonus trip to New York at the beginning of May for a bridal shower! Again, traveling is not easy for either of us but being a part of the pre-wedding excitement is... well.... exciting! I'm going from couch-potato to jet setter with babies on the bookends. Reasons. To. Love!
When I first put out food for her it was in the middle of one of our frozen precip events and I was worried about her. I had to have the food outside before she got here because otherwise she'd take off... so skittish. Over the past few weeks she's gotten used to me and now will even wait for me to love on her a little before she starts eating. This morning she kept sitting out there pleading for me to come back out and pet her more. I would love to make her part of my Crazy Cat Lady Posse but... a) I don't have the money to have her health checked out before exposing my kitties to her and b) I don't know for sure that she's without an owner. I only know that she's a roamer. Oh, a c) my mom does the litter boxes because it's really painful for me and I don't think she wants another poop maker. My cats have gotten used to the stray - we call her Rosalita because she looks like a cat my mom used to have named Rosie. My kitty boys have gone from staring at her like she's a zoo animal to visiting and preening for her.
7. More RTL - got to see my little Cosette today. Even though intrauterine growth restriction is no longer a concern, Tasha is still considered high risk. (I had originally typed "high maintenance" instead of high risk which might have gotten me in big trouble!) We're on weekly ultrasounds now to keep a close watch on things. The kids haven't done their childbirth class yet but they did get in a breastfeeding class and Austin, in typical Aspie fashion, has become a lactation specialist. He even knows what kind of food they get from WIC if Cosette is breastfed.
Have I ever told you the story of Purple Michael singing at a La Leche League gathering? My kids' dance group was performing and they brought along Michael to sing. The KIDS were coached that this was a gathering of breast feeding moms and that some of the mommies might be nursing while they performed. Nobody told Michael. He was up there singing something romantic and the milk started flowing. In his words it was BOOB... BOOB... BOOB... the shock on his face was apparent. That's in the top ten of my best Purple Michael stories.
Back to Cosette... she now weighs an estimated 4 pounds and 10 ounces. She is no longer breech and we got the sweetest 3-D pictures that I will show you as soon as I can translate them to the WWW.
8. The pack-n-play for our house has been ordered so I'll have a place for my babies to nap. Tasha is setting up "grandma diaper bags" and I'm hoping to have lots and lots of babysitting time.
It's been a hectic day and I'm wiped out. Hope you survived another manic Monday and found a few reasons to love it! I'll leave you with a few more cute kitty photos. Love and hugs, y'all!
Posted by Heather at 6:56 PM
Saturday, March 21, 2015
There were a few things I wanted to update y'all on (and have recorded somewhere because pain-brain has decreased my ability to remember things). First, the good news - out of the three diagnostic tests I had done on February 19th to diagnose my crazy gut pain, I've been able to get results back on only one so far - the ultrasound. It showed only a small ovarian cyst and some scar tissue on my cervix (which would only be an issue if I intended to have more children. I don't.) The cyst is anechoic which means it doesn't echo. If I understand correctly that means it's not a solid mass which means that it's completely benign. So, the things that were the greatest worries to me don't appear to be the problem.
Fortunately while reading through the small print on the letter accepting me for charity care, I realized that the charity care that I'm approved for with the hospital ALSO covers all of the doctors that are in their system. It means that I can go back to my general practitioner and hopefully have someone take on the challenge of diagnosing the crazy gut pain. It also means that I can - at least as long as I'm approved for charity care - go to a different pain doctor and not have to pay! It means that we can use whatever specialists - including a general surgeon if needed - to get to the root of this problem.
I called my old "regular" doctor and explained the situation and I have an appointment for Thursday morning. The clinic doctor feels like the gut pain could possibly be from the nerves that are compressed due to the damage to my back.... WHICH... reminds me that when the back pain first started it was misdiagnosed as a kidney infection and possible kidney stone! The pain is cyclical in that at certain times (trying to avoid the world of TMI) it is much more severe than at other times. That's the reason I thought it had to be a gyn issue. And it still could be - it could be as simple as the combination of that tiny cyst pressing against a nerve that is otherwise complicated.
And if I may, from a political standpoint, point out that the Affordable Healthcare Act has done absolutely nothing for me. What I have found in these past few years without health insurance is that there are many, many ways that we could, as a country, help those who fall in the gap between employer provided health insurance and programs like medicaid and medicare. Think about it... the free clinic where they manage my high blood pressure and other chronic conditions is completely privately funded. Take some of those billions used to advertise and administer the government program and turn them into grants for programs like the clinic that treats me. For hospital systems who are able to provide charity care why not give them tax breaks equal to the amount of free care / discounted care they provide? It's never going to be a one size fits all proposition. Access to health care varies by state - and even county. It varies by economic status. I'm sure there are as many answers as there are individuals in the U.S.
I've finished a sewing project for Cosette and am now trying to decide what to do next. I have a little dress that was mine (and my mom says it was a hand-me-down from family so it's probably a generation or two OLDER than me!) that Austin wants me to touch up with some embroidery and lace. I have to find some tiny needles to do that because it's very delicate material. Right now all I have are those big thick embroidery needles. I'll post pictures of the latest project later, don't feel like digging it up at the moment.
Also... my parents have spent the week painting upstairs. I'll take some photos to share later on. And... so that's about it, or at least all I can remember at the moment. It's sunny and mild outside and things are bloomin' like crazy. Hope you're having a lovely weekend out there... love and hugs, y'all!
Posted by Heather at 2:19 PM
Sunday, March 15, 2015
That title sounds like one of Johnny Carsons old swami skits but it's the best I could do and it will get you caught up on all the haps here in the old nest.
|burp rag I monogrammed by hand|
Part Dos... As I've previously mentioned my brother Bryan is marrying the lovely Lady Helen on June 6th. Bryan and Helen live in New York (the Upper West Side for those of you who know how things work on that island). The wedding will be in Old Lyme, Connecticut where her parents have a home. This means we'll be taking this dog and pony show up north for a few days this summer. And it's not really a dog and pony show. We don't have a pony. But we are trying to coordinate itineraries among ourselves so that we can make the most of this once in a lifetime family gathering. The wedding part of the itinerary is organized quite nicely. They're experiencing all the pre-wedding parties and events and have a wedding planner who is dotting i's and crossing t's and we are so excited to be a part of something so nice.
I've mentioned before that Bryan is the only person in the world that has been witness to both of my weddings. The first one he was an usher and was 7 years old. The second one, he accompanied us to the hot side of hell (Las Vegas) to witness the unholy coupling of myself with he who should not be named. Have I ever mentioned that we didn't consummate that wedding until a month later? NOT an auspicious beginning. Nevertheless... the only consistent thing between my two failed marriages is the presence of my brother who is younger by ten years. Therefore, if he were bungee jumping off a mountain in Upper Tibet (not sure if there is an Upper Tibet) I would move heaven and earth to be at his wedding. I'm not kidding. In the past two years I've traveled no farther than "civilization" a half hour south so New York and Connecticut will entirely feel like Upper Tibet to me. But there's more... we've never seen him so happy and in love and my big sister heart just swells two sizes too big when I see two people who really love each other making a commitment to each other. It's going to be enough happy that I can push through the pain. Just has to happen.
Anyways... we've all been kinda dragging our feet on deciding who is going up when and where are they staying and what will we do. There's a question of whether or not we should bring grandma - that's a heckuva lot of traveling for a 91 year old woman but honestly, she gets around better than me most days. Mawmaw is bringing Oscar because they can't bear to be apart. I'd bring Little Kitty but it would be my luck he'd Houdini his way out of his carry-on and take over the plane. I'm going to miss him but...
Anyways... sorry for all the rabbit chasing... we finally decided that we definitely want to take Sarabeth and Jamie to see their first Broadway show. They've been to shows at the Fox but you know it's not the same. Angie invited me along - because Aunt Heather is always happy to be there among the firsts so she can cry off some mascara. We found a show with a matinee that fits right in our schedule (Wicked) and there were good seats in the orchestra section available and now they have been purchased. It will be Jim, Angie, Sarabeth, Jamie, Aunt Heather and Pop taking in an afternoon show and getting back to our lodging before dark, I hope. The lodging is still being sorted out. There are many possibilities that don't involve a hotel for me and Mawmaw and Pop. Jim and Angie are getting a very small broom closet with a shared bathroom - or something like that - for the days we're in New York. Then we will travel to Connecticut where a guest house has been secured for the whole fam-a-lam. Think they'd mind if we took down the drapes and covered the front window with a confederate flag? No?
So the way it looks we'll be Tuesday and Wednesday in NYC and then Thursday - Sunday in Old Lyme, CT. I've got a dozen things I'd like to see in both locations but the reality is that I'm going to have to strike a balance between "once in a lifetime experience" and "not having to be carried home on a stretcher".
Before the shower yesterday my sweet daughter in law messaged me and wished me a good time at the shower and cautioned me to take it easy. I tried. The seats were hard and those nasty jelly-filled donuts that are replacing the discs in my back are all kind of compressed and I have a variety of numbness, extreme pain and muscle spasms in every part of my body you could think of. And a few that would surprise you. We're trying to arrange the wedding trip to take my 89 year old spine into consideration but I want to do so much!
I've rattled on too long here. One last thing... while working on my Ancestry.com stuff today I discovered that I am a 3rd cousin seven times removed of Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis and Clark and the Louisiana Purchase fame. This is the book I need to write - all our interesting ancestors.
This first column shows Meriwether Lewis going back to our common ancestor and the second shows that mutual ancestor down through me. As always, my research is all internet based using information available on ancestry.com and this may be a fact or just an interesting possibility.
John Major Lewis 1635 - 1689
John Lewis 1669 - 1725
Robert Lewis 1704 - 1765
William Lewis 1735 -
Meriwether Lewis 1774 - 1809
Posted by Heather at 9:14 PM
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
|Cody and Austin show their bellies|
Had a fun visit with all the prospective parents last Saturday. I drug out the vintage baby clothes collection and we went through it to see if there was anything Cosette or Peanut could use. I look at baby clothes online ALL the time but haven't bought any because, no work = no money. If I could afford it I would waste an unholy amount of money on baby clothes but... you know, the truth is that my money should probably go to more practical things like diapers.
|Marquee and Mawmaw going through clothes|
|Tasha's pile to sort through|
|Marquee at 20 weeks|
Back to the baby clothes... we did have a few timeless classic pieces like OshKosh overalls that could be used by our new generation but some things just screamed 1970, like polyester and all and I had some funky stuff from the 90's. Some things were very delicate and dainty and probably would not survive another baby. Almost everything I had was for boys but there was a decent amount of clothing left from when I was a baby. Marquee was reluctant to take things because they were precious old relics but for me, seeing my grandbabies in the things that their dad or their uncles wore is precious too. It makes new memories to add to the old ones. It was a fun trip down memory lane, something I'm really good at, you know.
I think I previously confessed my interest in The Bachelor. Honestly, I know it's all phony and fake and anyone who meets in those circumstances is probably not destined for eternal love but it becomes sort of a soap opera for me. I'm interested in how things turn out even if it doesn't feel quite like my idea of "true love". In the series that finished last night I wasn't pulling for any girl in particular. There were a few I was pulling AGAINST but... yeah. I think Chris and Whitney are good for each other because she talks like Minnie Mouse and his laugh sounds like a dolphin so they're mutually annoying which has to mean it will work out, right?
This week includes lab work for me, an ultrasound for Tasha and Cosette's baby shower on Saturday. I'm still confused about what I'm bringing but I think it's deviled eggs, a cheese ball and chips and dip. Marquee's shower will be at the end of May and it's a co-ed shower with a lot of people. Tasha's is more of a church lady shower with punch and appetizers. I'm not one who gets too excited about showers and knowing that it's going to involve pain makes me less excited but I'll do the proper grandma thing and show up and squeal with delight at the things my grandlings are gifted. I'm now leaning toward Gumby for my grandma name after my oldest called me that being silly the other day. I think it is funny and different. What do you think?
And that's it for today. Closing with a cat picture because, well, he loves me. And a granddoggie picture because he's been a good practice baby for Cody and Marquee.
Posted by Heather at 1:31 PM
Friday, March 6, 2015
I was going to do a "this week in pictures" blog post but when I looked at the pictures most of them were from last week and most of the rest were of something that is to be a gift so I can't share YET. So it's going to have to be a combination of "last week in pictures" and random stuff from this week. You've been warned.
I have to be honest with you and say that apart from the progress on craft projects and the number of boxes of Luigi's Mango Italian Ice in the freezer most weeks in 2015 have looked the same thus far. I completely expect that to change since there are two babies and a wedding happening this year. What I'm saying is stick around, it's bound to get more interesting. Eventually.
Tomorrow Cody and Marquee are coming up to celebrate Austin's birthday (which was last Sunday). I did not go with Austin and Tasha to the doctor yesterday as I was in a whole world of pain PLUS had a sore throat/flu-ey feeling going on. She will be going twice a week starting this week- I think -so I will have many opportunities to tag along. Cosette is up to about 3 and a half pounds and has chubby cheeks so I think we're past any growth issues. She's flipped back to breech but there's still room for her to flip again in the next two months.
Posted by Heather at 6:31 PM