Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Medical Week for the Widow



I’ve been running the roads. Monday, the doctor. Tuesday, the dentist. Wednesday, the infusion center for my first Reclast treatment. I live on the north end of town and everywhere I had to go was on the south end which meant I had to take the expressway with its dreaded S Curve that cuts through the heart of the city. I’ve hated that curve since it was built in the early 1960s. Back then, the power brokers (think a handful of Trump-like creatures) dictated which buildings would be hazed by a wrenching ball and which ones would be spared. Surprise, surprise, their property still stands. A friend who drives the S Curve twice a day says it makes him feel like a race car driver as he banks his car near the outside wall, then crosses over to bank the other side. It’s his favorite part of the day, or so he says. I would rather eat earth worms but that won’t get me to the south end so cancel that trip to the bait shop to buy me a gift. 

I went to the doctor prepared to be bubbling over with happy good health and sharp, witty old lady banter. I was determined to make up for the last time I was there when I told him I didn’t feel well but I couldn’t put my finger on why I felt so spaced out. SPACED OUT? Damn! I thought as drove home that day, I shouldn’t be saying things like that to a guy who could transcribe that into my records as: showing signs of dementia. This time he had a new twist for my visit. He brought a woman in from “records” who, I was told, was going to chart everything we talk about so that he could get back to face-to-face patient-to-doctor talking. “I assume she’s sworn to secrecy?” I asked. “Yes,” the doctor assured me with a broad smile, “what happens in this room stays in this room.” And thus their weird experiment began. It will be interesting to see if they’re still doing it when I go back again. 

When I go to the dentist I probably drive past a couple of hundred dentists along the way. I’ve known the guy since before he went to dental school 25 years ago and if I planned on staying on the north end of the town I’d probably change to the one within walking distance of my house. Old people who drive 40 miles an hour on the S Curve while everyone else is going 80 are frowned upon. Fortunately, I'm still able to keep up but I stay firmly planted in the center lane and hope the pretend race car drivers don’t loss control as they do their crisscross antics in front of me. Once, on an icy night when there were no other cars around, I did a loop-de-loop in the middle of the S Curve. Side note: I just looked up the term ‘loop-de-loop’ to make sure I was spelling the ‘de’ part right and was shocked to see that the urban dictionary defines a loop-de-loop as a sex term for what we old timers used to call the 69 position. I assure you I was not having sex on the S Curve. I was driving south bound, lost control and ended up going north. Since then they’ve spent millions trying to make that section of the highway safer for wintertime driving but I still hate that expressway and the political string pulling that put that ridiculous curve in the city. End of rant.

I told the doctor that I was nervous about getting the Reclast treatment because of my hive and allergy history. He said to tell them at the center if I get itchy so they can slow down the infusion and give me an antihistamine. “Great,” I said, “I’ll scream bloody murder if that happens.” “I wouldn’t advice that,” he replied, “but do let them know.” What I actually wanted him to say was I was worrying unnecessarily, that reactions to Reclast infusions rarely happen. According to the nurse at the center, it is rare but it can happen at the time of the infusion or anytime in the first two weeks. Wonderful. Two weeks of drinking a million glasses of water a day (to help flush the stuff through my system) and two weeks of eating a couple of extra servings of calcium rich foods a day (because the infusion will be working to take calcium from my system and depositing it into my bones) and I’ll be out of The Valley of Hives-Hanging-Over-My-Head. And did I mention only one cup of coffee a day for the next two weeks? 

I did learn something at the center. They now have an infusion medication for chronic hives, if you can get your insurance company to pay for it. I told the nurse I’d mortgage my house to cover the cost if I ever get them as bad as I had them a few years back. Every day for nine straight months of itching, having my face distorted from giant hives and popping four different prescription medications a day was not a walk in the park. On the way home from the center, I stopped for a fresh supply of antihistamines---just in case---and a gallon of ice cream. What a happy coincidence that my new blender came with a malted milk blade. There goes that eleven pound weight loss recorded on my medical chart this week. ©

13 comments:

  1. My car goes to doctors visits and my every other week, fill and pedicure. Then I shop at Raley's and return home. I'm tired of always going to doctors as you are, but it's part of the process.

    Have a fabulous day and enjoy your ice cream. ☺

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    1. I try to do all my bi-annuals in October and April so I have less wintertime driving. It is a pain but it could be worse. I had ice cream for lunch. LOL

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  2. I think I am the only one left in this area whose doctor still believes in doctor-patient, face-to-face talks. His nurse takes all the necessary stats and puts them on the computer. Just before he comes into the exam room, he checks her writings. He never brings his computer in with him. I like it. Just like the old days. I'm sorry you have to get those infusions thingies. I don't like needles in my arm and waiting for the "bag" to empty! Why does GR have addresses titled SE and NE and stuff like that, instead of just the address number?

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    1. Many large cities use the South East (SE) and SW, NW and NE. When our city was first laid out there was a north-south and a west-east street that crossed dead center of town and that crossing point was like ground zero. The house numbers went up in all four directions from where they crossed---those going 'north' for example were like 110 N Division and those going south were like 110 S Division. The next streets over from ground zero would have the NW and NE depending on if you're west or east of that dividing line street AND north of the the east-west dividing line whose name escapes me but something like Main Street is common. If a street is a SW or SE you know you're south of the ground zero. That is still true for the original old streets that crossed those two intersecting center point streets but with newer streets that don't they still use the directional thing to denote which of the four parts of the city one lives in.

      I used to know why streets where streets, Avenues or Roads but I've forgotten but I THINK avenues originally always went north and south and Streets went east or west. My husband used to collect maps. I've probably got 200 left to sell, you'd think I wouldn't forget this stuff, but I am!! All city maps make sense if you see how they looked in their first 50 years...even the ones out east that are set up European Style. Or those planned around waterways. I hate when they rename streets that paid homage to city founders. Go find something new to name and leave history alone!

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  3. I do hope that your health improves Jean and as far as that highway, take a taxi or bus if the highway bothers you especially if some person drives 40 while others are going 80. Oh my God, it's a accident ready to go.
    Have a fun day my friend. See ya.

    Cruisin Paul

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    1. I'm not the only one who hates the S Curve. I've seen people driving 40 on it and even 20 in the wintertime when everyone is creeping along. I only take it one way when I go to the south end and I take surface streets----a route on the eastern or western side of the city---back home again. It's takes 20 minutes longer but it's easier on my nerves. Next year, if I move to a condo, I'll never have to do the S Curve again.

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  4. I'd be interested in hearing more about your experience with Reclast. I have a friend with serious osteoporosis that I'm trying to convince to consider this type of treatment. -Jean

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    1. I don't know as much about Reclast as I probably should. My doctor thinks the Forteo I was on did a great job of building bone density inside of my bones but you have a two year lifetime limit on that, I guessing that's because daily shots are very expensive. The Reclast infusion is suppose to hold me where I'm at, not losing or gaining any bone density. They consider that holding a successful treatment for osteoporosis. Reclast is a popular treatment and considered better than the various pills on the market. I know a lot of people who do it every year as is recommended as I will from now on. It was painless and only took a half hour and so far I'm not getting the joint stiffness/pain that can happen in the first two weeks. I was told it does most of its work in those two weeks as it draws the calcium from your system and puts it into your bones. You can't have dental work done during those two weeks either. After that, any side effects anyone gets goes away. I plan to have a malted milk every day until the end of the month and look for other calcium rich foods when I go shopping this weekend. Lots of water and calcium rich foods helps reduce side effects. They do blood tests before the infusion to check your calcium levels, too. If they are low, you can't do the Reclast.

      That's about all I really know. I was glad it was recommended for me. I have tried all the pills over the years and just saw my bone density slip away, a waste of time and money. I'm surprised your friend isn't doing Reclast already. Next to Forteo it's the best on the market for serious osteoporosis, to the best of my knowledge. Hope this helps.

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    2. This is very helpful. Thanks! (My friend has other serious health issues that have been the focus of her and her doctors' attention, so that the osteoporosis has been on the back burner. I'm hoping to get it onto the front burner.)

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  5. I don't think milkshakes will count toward your caloric intake. Look at it as medication. It's a requirement. :)

    Sure, "What happens in this room stays in this room." Except for your insurance company.

    I'm not familiar with Reclast.

    I'm so happy to have my doctors and the hospital only a few minutes from my house. It's convenient. They are less than five minutes from my house. Love it.

    Those hives sound like a nightmare.

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    1. That's the way I'm looking at milkshakes....medicine. LOL But it is true in a way. Sure, I do sardines and broccoli but I already eat a lot of them so it's not "extra" calcium rich foods for me.

      I didn't really like having the woman in the room typing the notes and I'm sure I'll get a followup phone call wanting me to rate the visit. When I move, my internist, dentist, bone doctor and hospital will be closer and no expressway driving. The only thing I have on this end of town is a social life and an allergist.

      Chronic hives are terrible. The first time I got them was when I was a baby. They've come about every five years my entire life for no apparent reason and they leave anywhere from a month to a year later for no apparent reason. So few people get them that there hasn't been any money going into research for an effective treatment. So I was elated to hear there is an infusion for them now. I don't see how insurance could deny that treatment for me, give my history. They think but don't know for sure that I am allergic to myself or rather antibodies that my thyroid gland puts out. It's the first thing that gets checked when I get the hives. Trouble is, it takes a long time for thyroid hormones to build up or run down in your body. Everyone with chronic hives is different, with different causes. I just think about eating in restaurants out where you live and I get hives. LOL I'm allergic to shellfish and discovered that on a vacation out your way.

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  6. I'm beginning to not like driving on the highways any more. It seems like every driver is doing something else in addition to driving ... causing them to veer out of their lane, or slow down too much for no reason. And the people who are in such a HURRY, swerving in and out of every lane to get their 14 seconds ahead of me. UGH! Thank goodness Maui is more laid back. We have one highway but mostly two lane roads. Just five more weeks!

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    1. I know what you mean about distracted drivers! It used to be you just had to worry about the occasional road rage person but now it's the cell phones that make driving dangerous. I saw a guy the other day walking across five lanes of heavy traffic while texting! It's a wonder he didn't get killed and he would have if someone was also texting while driving by him.

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