Saturday, November 9, 2013

A blip in time (a scare and relief).......


"Hematuria"? Really???? What the heck is that, and why am I going through this?

Well, last Tuesday morning I had a scare. I went to the restroom and left blood in the toilet bowl. I'd seen this before, but it was usually miniscule amounts. This time, there was a lot of blood (and the blood was dark also). However, the bleeding stopped..... and I went on with my day. I had been looked at by the VA Urologist 2 weeks before... and he had indicated there was no evidence of bleeding (or a identifiable source). I took a picture of the evidence so I'd have something to show the Urologist the next time I saw him (sorry about the graphic picture, but it is the only way to convey what I was dealing with). 

On Wednesday morning, I was bleeding after going to the restroom first thing in the morning, and this time... the bleeding wouldn't stop. I used a rag to contain the bleeding, hobbled into the bedroom, and asked Penny to take me to the ER. The blood on my legs and on my socks apparently were the convincer. As Sherman Hospital in Elgin was the closest ER, we went there. When we got there, I was immediately put into a room (a first for me). Within an hour, I received a cat-scan with contrast.... and the results were negative for any obstruction around my kidneys/intestines. As I was still bleeding (and it wasn't stopping), I was transferred to a room and admitted onto the 5th floor (and they put a catheter in me to clear out my bladder of the multiple clots that were in there). They ran more tests and I had a cystoscopy the following morning (by Penny's former urologist.... of all people). Apparently, the bladder had an injury and the urologist cauterized the tears (and he noted injuries in the urethra also). I have no clue how I could have been injured there. So they kept the catheter in me and I dealt with spasms once or twice an hour (pain so strong, I was tearing / barely containing my guttural scream afterward). Luckily, my room was a private room and I was by myself. By Friday afternoon, the pain was such that they felt they needed to get the catheter out given the unrelenting spasms (and the bleeding was minimal). The spasms then stopped and I was released from the hospital (I even was able to take a shower so I could go home without being funky.

During this time at the hospital... Deb Wolf stopped by Wednesday evening bringing Travis with  to visit, Jeff Madsen (from my FVC life group) visited Wednesday nite & Thursday nite, Pastor Adam (Pastor for FVC Pingree Grove) stopped by on Thursday, and others came by... (along with several calls to my room) bolstering my spirits. We all prayed at our various times, and I went over John 10 with Pastor Adam (and he and I discussed multiple things). =)  Jeff Madsen (despite being a Packers fan) I firmly believe will be a lifelong close friend of ours (and I look forward to growing in my faith anywhere close to Jeff and his wife's faith).

I am at home now re-learning how to manage my bladder as it is very weak (using pads to catch leakage)... a very humbling experience. During all of this, Penny has been my foundational rock, keeping our household going and taking care of me as best she can (I am a truly blessed man). I know this much, Penny and I are much closer now than at any time in our marriage and I firmly believe there is nothing that the other would do for the other. And our belief in Jesus and in God is growing daily......
We just sold a 15th ticket (out of 100 available). We are still working out a way to get the word of mouth out there (if anyone has any ideas, we are all ears.... please comment in the comment section and I will get the message directly). We are down to 11 days left, but with God's help..... we shall be successful in our endeavors.

I heard from my former boss that a good friend of ours has taken a turn for the worse health wise and now has full blown leukemia. This man stuck with me through thick and thin and we had the other's back when dealing with adversity at multiple companies. He is the kind of guy who will give you the shirt off his back in a snowstorm, and I feel just awful he is facing this battle. It seems that many of us who work ourselves so hard don't think of keeping our own health and pay a price for that over time. My predecessor (John Fugazy) retired at 57 and passed away from ALS at the age of 61. Kevin Koerner is now around that age and is looking at chemo and a bone marrow transplant. It would seem that people who work hard all of their lives are the ones who don't get to enjoy retirement..... and who face adversity when they are deserving of so much more out of life. I will be saying an extra prayer for my friend tonight.......

Monday, November 4, 2013

The changing of seasons & facing the financial cliff.....

So, our effort at trying to make it until June of next year is in full swing (when Illinois Hardest Hit ends), so the effort is ratcheting up as our funds have dried up. Come December 28th, our unemployment ends (with no chance of extending). So we are approaching the Holidays with much to pray for.

Social Security

I find it incredible/ironic that Penny, Travis, and I find ourselves having applied for Social Security benefits at the same time. 20 months ago, we were like most American families and were considered "middle class" with my having a good paying job with benefits (with Penny having no cancer and Travis having just graduated from High School). I had always had a job since I was 14, so it was inconceivable to me that I would ever be applying for governmental benefits (let alone disability benefits).... and yet here we are..... 13 months on unemployment (with only 1 interview during that time).
I will be going to a medical assessment courtesy of the Social Security Administration on November 14th (I received the letter last Thursday), the doctor I will be seeing is an "Internal Medicine" doctor... so it appears that Social Security is taking my application for benefits seriously. Usually, decisions are made within 3 months of such assessments (so I am hopeful that they will actually take into account my present limitations). 

Penny's "Res Judicata" Social Security effort continues. I contacted "The Standard" Insurance Company on October 24th and asked them to have Allsup & Associates (a company that specializes in helping people get Social Security) get actively involved in representing Penny. Amazingly, it has been a week & Allsup still hasn't contacted us (the amount they'd receive is 33% of the Disability Award for fees and this would cover from 2005 through 2013.... one would think they'd be jumping all over this opportunity). The Standard also was supposed to get the 2007 medical assessment records to us by 2 days ago, but we still haven't received them. We need those records to prove to Social Security that they didn't have all of the information necessary to review the Social Security Disability claim back in 2008 (hence..... "Res Judicata"..... ie: to re-open that which has already been decided). We are praying very hard on this one......

Travis' Social Security claim is in process (we've provided everything needed), now we are just waiting for a decision. We've done what we can.

We just may have to seek a Social Security attorney for all of us if nothing happens within the next week with "The Standard". 


I am now covered by VA healthcare (for 2 months) and Illinois Vetcare - Medicaid (for 3 months).... although I don't know how much longer Vetcare will continue as I don't believe that one is allowed both benefits at the same time. I'll know within a couple of weeks. I am going to the VA Optometrist tomorrow in North Chicago,

Regarding Penny and Travis, we tried to access the Obamacare/ACA marketplace website for over 3 weeks (and finally were notified our application completed and that Illinois DHS has the application and that "maybe" Penny and Travis are eligible for Illinois Family Care ("Medicaid"). We just received DHS paperwork to fill out (yet again) 2 days ago, but it appears that Cancer Treatment Center of America does not accept "Medicaid". (I am negotiating that with them as we speak).
We are still only at 14 tickets sold (out of 100)... and it has been since October 21st since the last ticket sold. We are still working out a way to get the word of mouth out there (if anyone has any ideas, we are all ears.... please comment in the comment section and I will get the message directly).

We had a Halloween party for Travis and his friends this afternoon at our house (despite both Penny and I feeling very crappy)... but we had made a commitment to Travis and his friends. They all had a great time hanging out playing games outdoors....

Tomorrow after seeing the Optometrist, I will be seeing the VA vocational unit for help in trying to find a job that takes into account my medical limitations (so we'll see how that goes).

This weekend, I helped a former boss with configuring his next laptop system for his home (and he saved over $1,000 with the approach I took... including having a copy of Windows 8.1 when he is ready to migrate to it in 2 years plus having a new monitor stand / port replicator that works with the laptop's USB 3.0 capability). So he'll have a rock solid solution for the next 8 years.

Time to hit the sack.......