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Three score and ten or more

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Getting Old—or Older- Or

  1. I started this thing about eight or nine years ago, thinking about recording the process of getting older.  Soon after I began, my brother started a blog about the same thing, calling it something like “Reflections of a Depression Baby”.   Before it got too deep, he passed away.  My brother in law, who was a computer expert,  did most of his computer business researching genealogy, but he started  losing his health, gradually leaving the computer, and last week he died.  Sometimes I wonder that I am still around.  Strangely enough, except for shoulders that give me pain all the time (My rotator cuffs are worn out.  The doctor recommended shoulder surgery –replacement- five or six years ago, and I decided I was too old for that stuff so I didn’t do it. If I had known how much worse the pain would get, I would have done it, but when I suggested, a couple of weeks ago, that I would like to reconsider, he told me that I am now too old and frail.), but strangely enough, except for the shoulders, I feel better than I have in a long time,

I worry a lot about my family (they in turn, worry about me).  My oldest son has passed away from lung cancer, another son is doing sell but he has the same problem with weight that I used to have (I have lost about eighty pounds in the last couple of years),  One daughter us coping with severe plantar fasciitis her delightful daughter just lost part of her leg from diabetes.  One grandson has been on a Mormon Mission for the last couple of years in Ukraine (In Donetsz  where things are very tense, so I have worried about him—I found out yesterday that he has been transferred to Mesa, Arizona, so I am less concerned about him.  I am taking care of another son’s delightful three legged dog while he fights through personal problems,  Roxy, the dog, loves to be taken on walks, but walking him is lkie walking a forty pound mosquito, he walks in every direction at the same time.  The secdnd time I  walked her she tipped me over and blacked my eye.  ( I was using my walker at the time, I have found that without the walker, I can control her for a short walk, and we are both exhausted but exhilarated when we are through,)

At any rate, as I get older ife is still interesting—what I can remember from day to day.  I was reading the diagnostic from my cardiologist the other day, and he states that “I  deny having any chest pains”, like he doesn’t believe me.  Getting older is certainly interesting.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Two posts in a week --wow

I once was a supporter of the Patriots Act and much that it included.  Recent events in my life have made me pretty cynical.  Without being too specific I have really become worried about the Homeland Security people. 

I am old enough to remember that there was a lot of resistance at the founding of the FBI There was a Constitutional argument about a national   police force vs local law enforcement so when the FBI was carefully limited to interstate crime, violation of Federal rather than local or state law, etc.  Any watcher of television has seen the tension arise between local law enforcement and the FBI when the FBI takes over a case that began in local jurisdiction (as well as the occasional relief felt by local law when the FBI has assumed jurisdiction when a case is going badly or when a serial killer is involved.

Homeland Security was sold to the public as an agency designed to protect the country from terrorists, spies and that sort of thing..

We are beginning to find Homeland Security involved with totally domestic crime and they are clearly not as careful of how they operate as are the local and state law enforcement.   Beyond Homeland Security, we see from the recent events in Nevada the Bureau of Land Management seems to have swat teams or military groups enforcing law with the appearance of military attack on US citizens.   WE have a Posse Comitatus (my spelling is down the tubes) that keeps the US army from enforcing the law within the borders of the US. but it seems  that the Federal Government is by passing the historical and constitutional basis of law enforcement and oozing toward a National Police Force of some kind or kinds.  When I think of a National Police Force it brings to mind the Gestapo or the NKVD….  Iiiiick  

Friday, April 18, 2014

Back again, back again jigety jigl

I haven’t posted for almost a year.  It isn’t that I havent’ had things to say, but I found myself doing something that I considered “whineing”, talking about my ailments and stuff like that.  I shifted over to face book and mostly commented on things that my former students and family had to say.  The other day I reflected on the reason I started the blog and remembered that it was an attempt to talk about the things that happen as one piles on the years—some of them funny some of them scary  and some, just stuff.

Among the things that have happened is that my typing skills have deteriorated a lot.  My hands get off the base keys and if I am not watching the screen as I type, up comes gobbledygook.  You may be faced with a decoding task.  Of course, as long as it has been since I posted, there is probably no one out there to read (which makes some of my weird thoughts safer)  

At any rate, I will be eighty in a couple of months, and neither the body nor the mind are as frisky as they were just a little while ago .  My various doctors are medicating me and testing me to see how fast and where my body and mind are going.   Everybody has memory lapses, but when you can’t remember the name of the person you called on the phone it is scaryl  The other day, I took out my upper plate, cleaned it in hot water, put it in its little case with a cleaning disk and went to bed.  When I got up in the morning, I went in the bathroom and found that the hot water was still running and we had no hot water for showers.  That sounds funny on the face of it, but what if I had been boiling eggs instead of washing teeth.  I could have burned down the house.   Things like that bring one up short.

I spent much of Tuesday this week up at the Medical College in Augusta having an MRI of my brain.  The neurologist is trying to find out if the problems in my brain come from atrophy, entropy, or have a physiological base. I am taking Chinese medicine pills  from my acupuncturist, and two kinds of pills from family doctor that are supposes to help the brain dead or dying.

I feel like I am in a dangerous world (think of Crimea and Russia and remember the parallel with Germany and Czechoslovakia and one wonders how long before world war III.)  I have no more shoulder rotator cuffs so my wife had to help me put on a coat or shirt,  with my neuropathy I can’t feel my feet and my balance is crummy so I fall down if I try to do much without a walker, but I am still married to the most wonder woman in the world,  five of my six children are living, and I have seven grand children and five great grandchildren. so it aint all bad.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Stuff and Nonsense

I felt that if I don’t get back here a little, even my relatives will quit looking for me.  I have had a wonderful and also a difficult month with great joy and a lot of frustrationl

I have developed something called a venous ulcer.  The most frustrating thing about it is that I can’t get it wet, so I can;t do water aerobics, and I have a hunch that without the water exercise, I am going to melt in a puddle.  That’s not why I wrote about the ulcer.  I wrote about it to tell you about a real experience that will make a different person of you.  If you get frustrated, depressed and worried about hanging on, you should follow my shoes for a few days.

This    “venous ulcer” which hasn’t been a great personal trial (except maybe for Janet) but they tell me that without treatment, it is a good way to lose a leg, and I have been having to patronize a wound clinic at the hospital.  (I never knew such places existed, I thought that the whole hospital was a “wound clinic.  I have had a quadruple bypass, sat in ICU both as a patient and a visitor, etc.  But the wound clinic is for wounds that don’t heal easily.  Sit in that waiting room for an hour and you will be acquainted with  folks who REALLY have difficulties.  There are open wounds that have to be treated in a hypobaric chamber, and other injuries that have persisted for months, with intense treatment two or three times a week at two or three hours per treatment.  After four trips to the waiting room, I am never going to whine again.  I may talk about a physical problem so that people can share an experience, but no more complaining of any kind.    I used to take my students to Nursing homes to perform puppet shows and cheer up the people, and invariably the patients would cheer us up.  I am just going to pray for the people in the wound clinic.   I don’t think I am man enough to work there and I have such respect for the nurses and doctors who do.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

New thoughts.

I was going to write a thing without any whining, but since the theme of the blog started out to deal with the process of aging, I will mention some elements of that process.

My back yard is a disaster.  I have two riding lawn mowers who seem to have permanent resident status in the small engine repair shop.  When things get tall enough, the hand lawn mower is a task that neither my shoulders nor my legs handle well.  Fortunately I have a six or seven foot privacy fence around the back yard or the neighborhood association would have had my ears by now.

I actually have been alternating between a string trimmer and a hedge trimmer to cut weeds in preparation for hand mowing.  I also have some branches growing down in inconvenient places so i got out the trusty chain saw to remove them.  Much to my disgust, my shoulders are so painful that I can’t pull the starter chain.  The chain saws (both of them) sit there and snicker as they see me coming.  I don’t know how successful it will be, but when my wife asked me what I would like for Father’s Day, I asked for an electric chain saw.

I had a request from a local Boy Scout troop for a financial contribution, so I offered the troop a couple of hundred dollars if they would come clean out my back yard.  They came and looked at it.  I haven’t heard any word from them since, not even an offer at a higher price.

Janet was treated some years ago for rheumatoid arthritis, but the rheumatologist said that her tests were coming up pretty well and he suggested that we save the money.  She recently has been in such pain from her leg (femur broken in several places and patched with metal plates) and the bone in her shin is just randomly painful.  Last weekend, her hands were so painful that she stayed home from church (unusual), so our family doctor rain the “rheumatic”  tests again, and they are out of sight.  She is back on methatrexate, which she hated before, and on low dose prednisone, which seems to help a  lot.  My neurologist sympathized with my shoulder pain and has giving me a dose pack of prednisone  which has really helped my back in the past,  My shoulders seem to be “shrugging it off” (note, poor attempt at pun).

Unrelated to anything else, but one symptom of old age is that instead of having “my  doctor” one begins to have “my neurologist”, “my cardiologist”, “my nephrologist “ (which, until I got one, I never knew that they existed under that name), “my urologist”, “my orthopedist” and , I shudder to think which new kind of “ist” I will acquire next.

I spent some time the other day thinking of wittty social commentary , but when i sit down to the computer I can’t remember what it was.  (Half witty, I guess)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New Series of Old Coot Ruminations

Again sporadic in posts.  This is really frustrating because: 1. I have plenty of time to write. 2.  When I sit at the computer, I am sorely drawn to Facebook where I find the latest word from many of my grandchildren, though I tire occasionally of the obsesssion with Harry Potter and Dr. Who.  ( I have to admit to a small obsession with Dr. Who when it was the real Doctor  with the scarf reaching his feet.) 3. My brain is so fuzzy that it prefers Spider Solitaire to anything that requires thinking.  4. Etc.

I sometimes wonder which is more frustrating, not being able to remember the names of friends  (I get along with looking them in the eye and saying “Hi, buddy>” .  If I have to talk about my friends, I can usually describe them well enough that Janet (my wife) can fill in the blanks; or having to ask my son to unscrew the lid off the jam jar (ore even worse the Diet Mountain Dew bottle.

I am astonished at the way physical durability diminishes.  About a year and a half ago i dug foundations and laid a combination of railroad ties and concrete blocks to lay up and level a space for a back patio, which space, with the help of my son Stuart I filled with and packed down dirt, then hauled in a trailer load of concrete pavers with which to cover the space.  The pavers still sit solemnly in stacks at the end of the patio, and  the ground to which they belong  is no longer level (Erosion and the habit of the dogs belonging to my children of digging little dens in it to cooll off have had their effect.  My back yard is such a shambles that if I didn’t have a six foot fence surrounding it, the neighborhood association vigilantes would have long since strung me up.

With all this, the most frightening and frustrating thing in my life is the pain Janet has,(a few years ago, she came to hear me sing with a choir in a university Christmas concert and fell off a badly designed step landing which had no rail and broke her femur in three pieces, which was fastened back together strongly but not painlessly with metal patches on the bone installed by a brilliant orthopedist.  WE were advised to sue the university because of the unsafe design but the lawyer we hired surrendered because the university was declaring some kind of “eminent domain” for itself.  (The good thing was that they repaired  and put rails along the landings ---there were more than one dangerous landing -so it won’t happen again.)  Her leg still gives her terriible pain, and her health is much worse than it was,   But we keep plugging along.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Well, I have repented or reinvented or something.

My oldest daughter, who lives in Florida, recently got a new computer, and when talking to me on the phone she revealed that she had found the ‘three score” blog and is reading it starting from the archives.

This aroused my curiosity enough that I went back and read some of the early things I posted and had a revelatory epiphany.   I can write the things that I post on FaceBook, or at least the same kinds of things.  I don’t have to get deeply into some thoughtful essay.  I think the last election, some of the things I thought about at the time, some things I even wrote about at the time but didn’t post and--- well I just got writer’s block trying to do something I really didn’t want to do.   The heck with it.

I have had a series of adventures, not big ones, but significant ones to me and I think I will just write about some of them.  I smashed my face into the concrete again, invested in a smart phone (which convinced me that one should mess around with technical things that are smarter than he is), got , literally, ripped off by a hospital, and Janet is having physical problems that concern me.  I will try to take a moment, at least once a week and probably more often, now that I have convinced myself that I can do this again without any physical body parts falling off.

The thing that is in my mind right now is a continuing theme for the blog.  Getting old is, literally, a pain in the butt, among other things.  It has recently been a moment of pride when Janet hands me a can of soda and asks me to pry it open for her.   For the last several months, I have had to use a coin, a pocket knife or an available piece of metal to pry open my own soda,, and am a bit humiliated when I have to do that which Janet could do as well as I.

I have been feeling a bit smug about having lost seventy or eighty pounds in the past year or so.  I smugly gave advice to others (which is good advice, but…) on not snacking, eating smaller portions, eating organic Greek yogurt, etc. etc. etc.     About Thanksgiving time I began to sense, from symptoms that are probably not appropriate  to discuss in this post, that I had a urinary infection.  I went to the Doctor.  He gave me a prescription for Cipro, had me come back in a couple of days to give a “sample”, and called me up the next afternoon to tell me that my bacteria were having such fun partying with Cipro, that I should cast out my Cipro, and he would have to give me a much more powerful medicine, a combination of a couple of different antibiotics, that were so powerful that he also gave me a prescription for  some extra strong probiotics because this new stuff was so powerful it would kill all the organisms in my gut that digest my food.

My regular pharmacy didn’t have the new stuff in stock so they called around and found some at Wal-Mart.  I went to Wally World and presented my prescription and waited for an eternity till they got it put together (side note:  Has any one noticed that in most Wal-Mart parking lots they now have parking places set aside for pharmacy customers specifying a fifteen minute parking limit?     What a farce?  No one who goes into a Wally world pharmacy gets out in fifteen minutes.)

At any rate when the prescription was finished they assigned me to a “counselor” of some kind to discuss my prescription.  She apologized that I had been kept waiting for so long but the she said, “Most people who need this prescription are not able to come pick it up personally, the prescription is picked up by some one else”   If they say that  wouldn’t it make you wonder?  It did me.

Even this stuff wasn’t completely successful.  Though I felt a lot better, and felt “symptom free’  my tests didn’t agree, and I was sent to a Urologist who gave me two other consecutive extra strong antibiotics.  It was well into January before everyone was satisfied that my infection was gone.

The troubling thing is, that even though I am still being very careful about the foods and the amounts that I eat, since my “cure”, I have gained a little over ten pounds.  I think, and at least one of my doctors concurs, that I have had a low grade urinary infection for well over a year, and that it should get credit (or blame) for most of my weight loss.  That is really disgusting.