Friday, July 5, 2013

What a great day - I'm approved for "Vetcare" (Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services)

God has really worked wonders in our lives today. :-)

This afternoon, we received from the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services - an approval from the "Vetcare" office (HFS Mediplan). An actual "Approval". :-) 9 months effort finally ends with a result!!! <Excellent.> The monthly payment for this coverage will be $40 a month (and eligibility starts on August 01, 2013). So I'll have standard co-pays regarding Doctor's visits ($15), ER visits ($50), and Hospitalizations ($150). At least, now I can find a way to have my gout / joint disease addressed by medical professionals. :-) Oh happy days.

At this point, I just have to find out if there are any Illinois Hospitals / Providers who actually are still accepting this type of medical plan still (since the State of Illinois is on average over 1 year behind in paying claims).
We'll still pursue federal VA healthcare for the long term, but at least I now have "something" regarding medical insurance.


Penny went for Chemo Treatment #3 and her friend Michelle went with her this time). I am beginning to think that she is using the time to get away from me and to spend time with others. Nahhhhhh, she just wants me to heal (at least that is what she tells me). <J-K>  :-)

Hopefully, the chemo continues to not cause any adverse effects (other than sleepiness and achiness). I should be back in her corner next week to provide support / spousal angst.... ;-).


In other news (the feet that won't stop causing me untold pain)... you can see in this picture that it is my right foot now throwing me for a loop. It travelled from my left foot (left big toe and ankle) to my right foot (right big toe and ankle) to the top of my right foot where it swelled to where I couldn't bend the foot to step on with the heel then throwing sharp pains up my leg being the latest... to the point I blacked out and fell onto a recliner last weekend).

Using Tramadol this afternoon, I was able to leave my house this afternoon (with the use of my mother's cane). My right foot was actually able to handle some weight put onto it today (I took 3 aleve last night and 3 aleve this morning in an attempt to get past the sharp pain in my right heel). Using a special open shoe/sandal that closes with Velcro, I had enough cushion on my right heel to handle weight enough to use a cane. I then went to pick up the Wheelchair Lift from Roscoe Illinois from a Christian couple who treated me with kid gloves and bunches of respect. After reading the directions that come with it, the lift will work with any minivan / van). I came home to the letters from the State of Illinois, and a relief went over me like you wouldn't believe. Just the act of getting up no longer fills me with fear.... and to do so with confidence? Priceless (especially when I haven't done so for 2 weeks... especially when I was at a point that I thought it wouldn't get better and I was contemplating seriously that my medical condition was not going to improve).

I haven't a clue how other people can do it while working when they get a gout attack this bad, but I now have to rethink what my job options are (and have a doctor give me a realistic assessment of what I can handle from this point on). The relief though that I can go to the restroom or take a shower now whenever I need to now is such an incredible gift, I cannot begin to describe it. The means to care for oneself after losing the ability to do so (I guess it was time for me to understand what Penny went through 17 months ago.....). Ok God, I got it. Lesson learned. Our diet WILL be followed to the letter.  


Thursday, July 4, 2013

To one and all, please enjoy your 4th of July Holiday (and be safe out there)

From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli...... we wish everyone a joyous and safe Independence Day.
Happy Birthday, America!
Painting by Frederic Edwin Church, 1861, oil on paper, "Our Banner in the Sky"

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The black cloud that follows, and why people try to avoid people with them

Dennis Miller has a great saying on his radio show. He is an advocate of helping the helpless, not the hopeless. Despite our adversity, we are doing what we can not to be a burden to others, we take responsibility for the things we do, and try to get by on our own efforts. It is hard to go through 10 months of unemployment with no visible means unless one works hard at making sure responsibilities are met. We do not blame others for our situation. And most certainly, we believe that we should ensure that we resolve our problems as best we can without having to depend on others. We aren't receiving snap  or SSI benefits and have only applied for those benefits in which we thought we were eligible for (with the intent that once I find a job, that such benefits will no longer be needed). We aren't applying for the free Obama phone nor are we trying to get benefits that will take away from others truly in need. 

Twice in the past 2 days, I've encountered someone who worries that I speak too much about the negatives in our life (the black cloud) and not enough about the positives. I take such observations to heart as I honestly feel  that despite the adversity, that we lead very comfortable lives. So the fact we are facing so much adversity should show others that despite such adversity, that such situations can be survivable if one stays ahead of such situations. That black cloud is the enemy, and so far... we are staying ahead of the enemy (otherwise, we would be homeless and would be completely dependent on others) In my comments, I always try to point out what good we are seeing (and I try to bring up the upside). I am always aware that there are others who are in worse situations than ours. I try not to "gauge" how much adversity we are dealing with, instead, I just report the facts as I see them (and let the reader make up their own mind as to what we are facing).

I find that the hard part is that some people just don't want to hear anything negative (and yet, I see the National Enquirer has a huge circulation, Jerry Springer and TMZ gets large ratings, etc.). The hopeless are those who (despite many efforts of others to help) do not learn from their experiences and make the same mistakes over and over again (and who are not grateful for the help they receive). For example, Penny and I try to help others (even while we are receiving help), as we have a lot of time on our hands and that we can contribute in abundance. When a fire in a Huntley apartment building in February forced 5 families to move, we acted to coordinate the relief effort and were able to get furniture, food, and a lot of basic essentials to those families. As a result, our adversity turned into a pay it forward opportunity. When opportunity knocks, one answers the call.

Our situation is not normal and I started this blog is to speak about many things that affect us that people normally do not speak about. I am hoping that people learn how to tackle a problem by our example. The only way to do that is to put the information out there. Let me put it this way...

Penny and I do not have a large supportive extended "family" (either due to geography or due to familial adversity). That is not to say that the family we do interact with is not supportive, but it is to say that the means of those we interact with is limited. Its just a fact of life. We don't complain about it and have accepted our situation. 3 of our 4 children just do not interact with us due to various reasons (interference in our parenting for example that has essentially sabotaged the long term relationship). Our son Travis (on the other hand) is deeply entrenched in our lives. But he is also developmentally disabled and has the least means to help us when we go through adversity.

Our support network (essentially, our "family") is our former co-workers, friends and those whom we have befriended via our church. Ever since Penny got off Life Support last year, we truly have the support of many and it is evident in our daily lives. We consider ourselves very fortunate to know so many caring people and there isn't a day we don't thank God for their continued interactions with our lives.

We have faced much in the past 22 years, and yet we do not see it as a Black Cloud... we see it as opportunities to learn and to grow in our lives. We hope that on some days, people will glean a few gems from our blog that will inspire others or such gems will teach how to face such adversities (making lemonade out of lemons). We hope that our faith in God (and in Jesus Christ) will inspire without sounding "preachy". God is in our lives and it is a fact of our lives, however... we also are human beings and are fallible. It is not for us to judge others, it is only for us to provide guidance (and steer others in a direction that will help and/or inspire). Jesus inspires us and we dare to dream of a life beyond our earthly ones. At the end of the day, we spend a certain amount of our lives on this Earth. We hope that over time, some will join us on that journey (and in the end, continue that journey with us beyond our earthy shells). It is a dream we have......

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The power of prayer. It is amazing the difference a day makes

Last night, my foot looked like this:
This morning, I actually woke up...  at 7:30 am (which means.... I actually slept... which also means I didn't need to crawl to the bathroom all night). "Whew": Halleluiah <woot>.
The wonderful power of Prayer (many at our church and amongst friends were praying for my improved health). :-)
So, the throbbing in my right foot is now down to a roar. I still can't put any weight on it, but I was able to use the folding chair this morning as a means to get to the restroom (I have a small pillow on the chair and use it for my right leg to lean on when moving... it is hard to describe how I do this, just think of it as it is holding my body weight when moving forward).
Which means that my going to the restroom no longer is the fear inducing process that it was (up to last night).
I will be trying to put a small amount of weight on it later this morning (and try to work my way towards putting enough weight on it to be able to stand). Baby steps.......
By the way, Penny should be nominated for sainthood (she has been my rock during this medical crisis). She has fed me, prayed with me, tried to make me as comfortable as possible, and made my taking a shower yesterday even possible. Despite her medical limitations due to her own medical issues... she has done everything possible to make life easier for me. I cannot even begin to thank her enough.

Monday, July 1, 2013

It is 3:45 am, and I can't sleep.... so I am busy working on "solutions".

So, I am busy trying to work on "solutions" to our present issues (the mind is racing at the moment), and it is truly amazing what gets accomplished as a result. Dealing with adversity is the mother of invention (one tends to get creative when trying to deal with everyday issues). Given I still cannot ambulate (I am using a folding chair and a pillow to get back and forth to the bathroom at our house), I really must find better solutions.
Penny talked with her father this afternoon. He has a "Hoveround" that was being used by my mother-in-law until she passed away last year. A Hoveround will hopefully provide me with a quick solution to get around on the first floor of our house (or provide a scooter solution for me while we go to our various appointments). In order to truly get the biggest bang for the buck, we need to be able to mechanically get it in and out of our minivan without any physical lifting on Penny's and my part. I stunningly found such a solution for sale on Craigslist yesterday.  
I received the following video from the present owner of a wheelchair lift (he presently has it listed for $600 on Craigslist) and it fits the back end of a minivan.
He agreed to a $400 price, so we essentially have a truly inexpensive lift solution for the Hoveround (I am presently working the budget numbers at the moment to pull off paying for the lift as it is a cost we weren't anticipating). I never thought I'd be looking at such solutions in order to continue to get around despite my latest limitations, but it also really does resolve any issues for Penny in the future (in case she has major surgery regarding opting for a neobladder - bladder replacement surgery). Many prayers went out this past week in response to the latest medical setbacks I've underwent, and it is incredible how Prayers are truly answered. It brings to my mind the following Bible passages:
  • A fool thinks he needs no advice, but a wise man listens to others. [Proverbs 12:15]
  • For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. [Ephesians 2:8-9]
Truly, it is God's doing regarding all of these wonderful solutions (for every step backwards, we go forward 2 steps). And we are so thankful / humble for God's blessings. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The pain....... the horrible terrible pain.

So, Friday nite (after cutting the lawn with the lawn tractor)... I started getting major pain on my right ankle. I barely made it to my bedroom and collapsed gingerly into the bed. Around 5 am, I had to use the restroom.... and it took me 10 minutes to hobble to it. The very act of occasionally having to use the bathroom now strikes fear in me, as it means I have to move.

Penny is the rock in my life. She gave me "Tramadol" (as a last resort) this morning Tramadol is a strong pain killer.... and I am actually able to sit up in my chair writing this as we speak... for the first time in 2 days (Penny went to Church this morning without me, not a good feeling as I need that Godly interaction). This is my first chance touching a laptop since Friday (where I could concentrate while having the laptop on my lap without screaming due to the pain). I have NEVER felt pain like this..... ever. Lets put it this way... even after a 25 mile "hump" in the Marine Corps with a 85 lbs. pack using black boots and suffering from blisters, I have never felt pain like what I am experiencing right now. Last nite, I had to crawl into the bathroom and back (you want to know what humble is? try crawling). I can't put any pressure on my right foot (when I attempted it, I almost blacked out from the sharp pain and fell.... luckily into a recliner face first). I inadvertently stubbed my inflamed left big toe in the bathroom this morning also (it is hard to position feet when adjusting for "weight" and over adjusting sometimes happens). Penny described my scream as blood curdling. The hard part is, our house is an old farmhouse. There is no room for a small wheelchair and we only have one bathroom. It is not a very functional home when it comes to accommodating physical "limitations". Needless to say, the inability to be ambulatory is my worst nightmare and without medical coverage, the self medicating aspect of this is failing. I honestly am at the end of my rope trying to figure out what to do. And the fact I cannot clean myself up (as I cannot stand), makes the experience that much less dignifying.

If this keeps up, I have to seriously question if I will ever be able to functionally work again.