Saturday, June 14, 2014


Some things just matter more than a small chance of being hit by lightning. This post is being dictated into a little pocket recorder while standing on a Manhattan street corner in the middle of a thunderstorm. Someone else might take shelter somewhere.

However, Marc is making his way up here. We're going to see a show at Café Carlyle. Melissa Manchester. Should be fun!

Thing is, he may have trouble finding me if I don't stay in this one location. I've been standing out here quite a while, as he makes his way to join me. Yes, I could find a place to hide, and then I could send him a message. But he's coming up on the subway. He might not see the message until he came wandering out here. He might start walking around, looking for me. While the lightning isn't a huge risk, crazy drivers are. And crazy drivers in wet weather are not a good thing. So I will wait here where he can find me.

He'll get here soon enough, and then we'll walk to the show together. In the meantime, I am much happier knowing that he should have no problem finding me, rather than taking some risk with his safety. That's just the way I want it. I think it's a better way to live! At least, I'm happier this way!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I miss my Dad

You shouldn't take the wrong message from this video. There was nothing unsaid between me and my Dad. No disagreements we didn't solve. Still, this song's message is a good one--don't let disagreements drive a wedge between you and someone you love. If you can heal the rift, do it before it's too late.

The reason I'm posting this is because it's the song that broke through and let the pain from losing my Dad finally start to come out. When he died, I did virtually no crying. I did what he taught me--I was strong for the family.

I could go on and on about my theory of how, since that day, I have a well of pain in me that can be tapped easily and unexpectedly in certain emotional moments. The first time I felt that was some time after his death. Marc and I were driving on the NYS Thruway. I don't remember where we were going, but this song was playing on the radio. As I said, there was nothing left unsaid between us. I had a wonderful relationship with both my parents, and there were no quarrels to fix. But then the song got to the line (around 3:46 in this video) that was factually accurate for me: "I wasn't there that morning when my father passed away." And with that, I burst into tears.

I wasn't there that morning when my father passed away. He had just begun home hospice hours before. It was about 2:30 or so in the morning (we got the call around 2:45), and he was in the room where I'm typing this now. Again, no guilt for me. There was no reason I would have been here. We didn't even know he'd go so fast. But I don't think whether I was there or not was the point that hit me. It just took the right thing to poke a hole in the balloon of pain I'd built up. A sufficient reminder from a song full of emotion.

It seems that some of that pain will always be there, but as wonderful a Dad as he was, I suppose that's to be expected. And did I mention that today is his birthday? That's what made me think of this.

Happy Birthday, Dad! I miss you!

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Clap for the Dodge dog!

Does that title make a song run in your head? If it does, you're both of a certain age and way too well versed in esoteric songs of a certain era. But let's talk about something more important--Dodger!

He's doing much better. From being so bad several days ago that I was literally in tears, thinking we were going to lose him, he's come back to pretty good health. Over the past several days, he stopped falling down, and he seemed to regain the use of his back legs, even if they still were a bit shaky (hey, he's an old guy!). It looks like it was something called Vestibular Disease. It's a balance disorder that's not uncommon in older dogs. It happens at other ages, too, but in an older dog, it's usually just a temporary condition that will right itself with time.

As I said, he's been making progress. Last night, he even took himself up to bed (with me right behind him the whole way to support him and make sure he didn't fall). But it still was lots of work for him.

Today, after I got home, we went out, he had some treats, and I left him to hang out on the first floor while I went upstairs to change out of my suit and put on comfortable clothes. The plan was that he'd wait for me to come back down. At least that was my plan. While I wasn't anxious for him to try the stairs unaided, I nearly jumped for joy when I turned around and saw this sight in the bedroom door...

Yay, Dodgie!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Where are things heading? No one knows.

Dodger is having quite a time. The vet has been of limited help, but that's how it is with human doctors, too, often enough.

He's having a hard time, but he's not suffering. Just a bit tired and weak. Also having diarrhea now. That's happened in the past, but we may have to take him in to address that. For now, we have left over Lomotil we're giving him, but he may need an anti-diarrheal shot. (We have way too much experience with this!)

At this point, we're taking it a day at a time. His kidney measures are a little high but not too bad. To try to keep that in a good range, we're getting him off his anti-inflammatory, because it's hard on the kidneys. Instead, we're upping his pain meds. But that has him groggy and a bit spacey now. Not easy. We're also starting him on a biologic supplement called Azodyl that's supposed to help kidney function.

Anyhow, we're doing our best with him. We hope he gets past his current issues and powers on to lots more quality life. We shall see!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

That was scary

While we're at work these days, Dodger spends his days in the kitchen. He has his bed, and we have fabric runners on the floor, because he's not so stable on his back paws now, so tile floors aren't the best for him. He stays in the kitchen, because he sometimes can't hold his bladder for what can be 10 to 12 hours. After all, he's pushing 14, and that's up there for a doggy.

Well, a couple of the runners were in the wash today and weren't ready to go back out when we left for work. In hindsight, I see that we should have found something else to lay on the floor. When I got home, I found that he'd walked across the kitchen for a drink and fallen. From his condition when I found him, I think he'd been lying there, backs paws uncomfortably crossed, for hours.

I understood if he couldn't get himself up on that floor, but lying there had hurt, apparently. Even when I got him up, he couldn't stand. He couldn't even get his back legs in the correct positions. After a few tries, I carried him out to the yard. When I put him down out there, he staggered sideways. He tried to pee and then fell over sideways.

I was so upset, but I kept helping him and he kept trying. Slowly, he started to get function back. He managed to poop without falling over--and for that, I am very thankful! That could have been messy. Then I went and got his leash, and we walked the block, so he could try to work the kinks out of his paws. That seemed to help.

I know it's a one-way trip through life for all of us, but it's so hard to see someone you love having a hard time in old age. He's fine now, and I hope he surprises us with his resiliency!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Medical concern? Sometimes the simple answer is the right one

On three different occasions over the years, I have found myself with some breathing trouble. This is not the usual allergies and related issues that I’ve had all my life. Rather, it is a feeling that’s akin to asthma. In fact, one doctor once called it “extrinsic asthma.” By that, he meant that I didn’t actually have asthma but had similar symptoms. Either way, it is very distressing.

The symptoms started again a few months ago, but when I went to see my doctor, I made clear that I did not want batteries of tests like the other two times this happened over the past 12 to 15 years. In those cases, they did cardiac tests and pulmonary tests, but they never found anything wrong. In essence, the diagnosis was a well-educated shrug.

So this time, the doctor just did an EKG, bloodwork and a general exam. Again, nothing was discovered. No one ever really put a finger on what the issue was.

In each case in the past, the symptoms eventually went away. Still, it took a few months and was distressing whenever it was hard to get a full breath. It also was tiring and quite aggravating. Then, in the past couple of weeks, something occurred to me. Several months ago, I changed jobs. When that happened, I changed insurance. This wound up being a good thing. I will get to that in a moment.

Going back to several months ago, under my old insurance, the co-pay for a prescription medication called Nexium (which reduces stomach acid) went from $20 to $100. At that time, I asked the doctor to switch me to something else, since a $100 co-pay for a reflux medication seemed exorbitant. So she switched me to a generic medication called omeprazole. I didn’t start the omeprazole right away, because I still had some Nexium on hand. What occurred to me just recently is that I started the omeprazole a few months ago, right about the time the breathing problem started. Thinking back, I remembered that the last time this breathing issue happened, a few years back, I wasn’t on Nexium or any acid reducer, and the pulmonologist commented that reflux can cause breathing issues. Was the omeprazole not working well enough for me? Also, I took a look at a few weeks ago at the side effects of omeprazole. One of them was “bronchospasm.” So maybe that was the issue—or part of the issue.

So I e-mailed my doctor and asked if I could be switched back to Nexium. While the cost is higher, if it either is better at controlling acid or has less side effects (or both), at least for me, then it’s worth the extra money. She congratulated me on my analysis and “detective work” and wrote the new prescription right away. The extra bit of nice news with this is that I have found out that the new place’s health insurance has a co-pay of just $50 for Nexium. So it’s not quite as bad as the old one became.

Regarding the other possible cause for my issues, I found reinforcement for what the pulmonologist said a few years ago in all my reading—that acid reflux can cause breathing problems. Even if you’re not feeling the burning, there can be a certain amount of acid being quietly brought up which gets into the lungs. This bit of acid can be enough of an irritant to cause problems in the bronchial tree.

Granted, this is somewhat theoretical for now, and I don’t even have the Nexium yet. However, I am off the omeprazole, just to be safe, and I’m taking over-the-counter Zantac 150 in the meantime. It’s possible that the results are coincidental, but I definitely seem to be doing better for now. I sure hope that I have found the answer. I guess the main lesson in this is to keep digging and not take “no” for an answer (or a diagnosis) from medical providers. I don’t doubt that the doctors did their best and made their best guesses when this happened in the past, but if the answer is this simple, then all of them, including cardiac specialists and pulmonary specialists, missed a simple explanation while they were doing all of their fancy tests.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Yes, distracted driving is dangerous

The driver just ahead of me and one lane over, as I drove to work this morning, was having trouble holding her lane. I couldn't see exactly what she was doing, but something (a smart phone is likely, but I can't say for sure) was distracting her. So she wandered from her lane.

When she realized she had, she over-corrected and briefly started to skid. She then over-corrected the other way and wound up smacking into the concrete divider. A number of us cut our wheels and braked hard to avoid her out-of-control car. Fortunately, it remained a one-car accident.

She smacked up the front left section of her car pretty well, but she appeared unhurt. By the time we all started moving again, she was getting out of her car. Still, that was yet another example of what constitutes dangerous driving--anything other than watching the road and keeping your hands on the wheel!

Stay safe, everyone!