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

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Bones, Bacteria and Boogers

Hungarian Puli

Monday we had our first school closings of the season due to the weather. I didn’t have to go anywhere that day so being snowed in didn’t ruin any of my plans but I was keeping a close eye on the storm all same because I needed good roads the following day to get to an appointment at the infusion center and my niece was stuck at the Chicago airport, sleeping on a cot while all the planes were grounded---she was on her way home from spending the holiday in Texas. My other niece who had been up north at her favorite vacation destination in Traverse City was also keeping an eye on the storm and was able to leave in time to beat it before it hit southeastern Michigan and it’s a good thing she did. The storm brought them 6-7 inches of wet, heavy snow where she lives causing electrical outrages and backup generators were put into service.

Trust me, I won’t be getting my yearly bone infusion treatment in 2019 because I’m skipping next fall’s scheduling and picking it up again the following spring of 2020. This 2018 appointment was booked early last September at my biannual with my internist and this was the first opening the infusion center had available, and scheduling wait times are only going to get longer and longer as more baby boomers start getting Reclast for their bones. I’ve had super good results with the Reclast and hate the idea of letting a 5-6 month lapse without it but I hate the stress even more of worrying about winter storms colliding with important appointments you can’t cancel without it costing you a lot of money, more wait time and a repeat of your pre-infusion blood tests.

The day of my appointment I had allotted an hour to get across town. The side roads were wickedly icy but the biggest problem I had was all the street signs were covered with snow and unreadable otherwise the main roads were good plus I got all the green lights and I got there in twenty minutes. I always have my trusty notebook and pen with me so the extra time was put to good use while I waited out in my car. I also had my Kindle with a new book loaded on it. The infusion itself (an IV line in your arm) took an hour this time when the same infusion last year took half that time. It seems I’ve reached that “magic age,” the nurse said, when IV drips get slowed down because our veins are old and might spring a leak like an old garden hose. Right or wrong, that’s my translation for the medical explanation I was given for the change. I was lucky to get through the infusion without having to pee. The more water you drink in the two days before the procedure the better it goes and I was hydrated so much my veins were plumped up and eager to carry the Reclast where it needed to go.

The room I was in had sixteen white La-Z-Boys full of patients covered in white warming blankets and 6-7 nurses tending to our needs, checking our lines and beeping machines and working at desks inside a glass cage. Two chairs away the only black person in the place, a bored girl in her late twenties, sat down shortly after I got there. They handed her a bag that at first I thought was a barf bag that she breathed in for a good 15 minutes but it turned out to be a collection bag for bacteria. She had the IV portal in her arm but there was no line of liquids hooked up the entire time I was there. They were waiting for whatever it is they do with bags full of bacteria in the lab before starting her IV. I was glad she wasn’t right next to me because: 1) I didn’t want Bacteria Girl to breathe her bacteria in my direction, and 2) I was fascinated with her dreadlocks and I was afraid I’d be one of those rude white people who’d ask if I could touch it. It reached down past the middle of her back and she was constantly petting it as if she had one of those Hungarian Puli dogs attached to her head.

In between me and Bacteria Girl was a woman who’d been there with an IV in her arm for five hours and when I expressed shock at that the nurse told me they have a few patients who spend eight hours parked in their La-Z-Boys. Aside from that, there was very little conversation going on between patients this time or the other times I’ve been there. Most people, I assume, are there for far more serious treatments than I was and conversations seems intrusive---lots of bald-headed women, a few bloated up men and a surprising number of young women who obviously come there often enough to be well known to the nurses.

Most of my hour was spent pretending to read on my Kindle while surreptitiously people watching. I was afraid to use my notebook to write about what I was seeing out of fear I’d drop the book on the floor where I couldn’t reach it and someone else would pick it up and see the sentences I wrote about a guy with a booger hanging from his nose. I don’t know why a nurse didn’t hand him a tissue. I'm guessing they’re so focused on looking at IV lines that they don’t look at faces as they cruise around the room. Whatever the reason, Booger Man strengthen my resolve not to use the bathroom while I was hooked up to the IV. You have to drag the IV pole with you and all I could think about is how many germs were on those poles. Places like that always bring out the germaphobic me. ©

30 comments:

  1. I only know of one Bacteria Bag test, and that's for H. pylori, the ulcer-causing bacteria. But being in a roomful of other people in cold and flu season for a lengthy procedure would bug me too (no pun intended).

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  2. Ah, the mystery is solved! Poor girl looked really miserable.

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  3. I had to laugh at your concern about sitting next to "Bacteria Girl." I totally get it. I used to never think about catching things from people. I had a top-notch immune system. Not so any longer, and I avoid people in stores who cough. I go to the next aisle. No offense, but you know...

    I'm glad these treatments work for you. I have osteopenia. It hasn't changed much over the time it was detected. Keeping fingers crossed. Getting old is no day at Starbucks. Speaking of Starbucks, we tried breakfast there a few weeks ago. Except for their blueberry muffin, it was my first time getting breakfast there. So delicious. I got the ham and cheese croissant (320 calories) and H got the spinach, feta & egg white breakfast wrap (290 calories). Mine was better.

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    1. My bone specialist says if with treatment your bones are getting any worse then they consider that a successful treatment. Getting improvement, like I've been getting, is out of the norm and see that with this infusion drug.

      I love Starbucks breakfast sandwiches. My favorite is the Gouda and bacon, but love the one H got too.

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  4. You can make an adventure out of ANYthing! Kinda creepy that would let Bacteria Girl in with all the others with lowered immune systems.

    Are you supposed to get your infusion twice a year? How early can you set them up? March and October?

    Sorry you have so much snow so early in the season!! Ours was RAIN yesterday ... must have been an inch, with hefty winds. I walked two blocks to have dinner with my condo buddies and my double brown paper back was so wet it almost dumped my contribution!

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    1. No, the infusion is once a year but they have to be set up by my internist who I see biannually---spring and fall. The infusion also has to be timed within 60 days of a battery of blood work beforehand. My yearly blood work is usually in the fall for EVERYTHING including this infusion. Then the bone scan needs to come after the infusion 4-6 months. I've been wanting to do my annul blood work in the spring for a long time now because if I need follow up tests---which I often do for thyroid---I'm not getting into winter with those too. And now I've told you more than you wanted to know. LOL I just have to get my doctor on board with my plan.

      We got your rain today. I figure if the nurses didn't take any special precautions handling the bacteria bag is must be safe for us to breath the same air but I still yucked me out to do so.

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  5. Dear Jean, in a room full of people--doing whatever is being done in that room--we always know that we are witnessing the burning bush of the Hebrew Testament. The one Moses stood before in awe and then took off his sandals and knelt before the flames of his God's love. I think of that when I'm with people--that within them is a particle of divinity so that we are all One. And we share in the pain and passion and loneliness and yearnings of all gathered there. And so you did. And so you will the next time also. I'm glad there is this treatment for you. We live in such a fine age of possibility. Peace.

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    1. Thank you for that, Dee. "And we share in the pain and passion and loneliness and yearnings of all gathered there. And so you did..." In your poet's voice you explained why conversation isn't common where I was at. We are communicating our stories just by being there, by having the hope that it will make a difference.

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  6. Had to laugh at you using your Kindle to disguise your people watching. I do that too and will unabashedly eavesdrop. I got caught once as the man I was listening to made me burst out laughing. He said to his wife as he was filling out the form, "You know, I have had diarrhea for 18 months and I still can't spell it."

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    1. Oh, that's a good one. Made me laugh and I have trouble spelling that word too. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. I sympathize with your weather report. We just returned from 2 weeks in Southern California and I understand why people live there. What gorgeous weather! (66-72F every day). Our trip was delayed on the way there as our flight to Toronto was cancelled because of snow. We were rerouted to Vancouver and then south without too much delay but winter has arrived. It is, as you mentioned, time to clear the calendar of essential appointments and warn people that plans may be cancelled.
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. I've only been to California once, to the San Diego area, and I loved it. Every area has something weather wise not to like and with CA it's the thought of earthquakes. I've never flown in the winter but I think that would scare the pants off me.

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  8. I can appreciate why you would want to change your appt. I take your approach to people-watching when stuck in waiting rooms. Also, I remember only too well the challenges of winter travel in snow country. There are other seasons when I would enjoy more being there which is usually when I choose to visit. I must confess living as I do now in Southern California I do keenly appreciate being here during my aging years though it wasn’t deliberately planned that way. The price is high since my adult children live across country in much colder snowy climes — one in Michigan, the other on the central east coast. The older I become the less attractive flying across country for holidays mid-winter becomes, especially the prospect of becoming snowed-in an airport. Travel for working folks can be more time-stressed and problematic coming west for them. I’ve felt my share of earthquakes since living here. The first one experienced is always the most unsettling whatever the size. I know we’re predicted for a “Big One” sometime, but don’t dwell on it.

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    1. Let's hope the doctor appreciates why I want to change. It's not like he can force me to do something I don't want to do so it might not be that hard to get him on board.

      Got to be hard on parents and adult children to be separated by so many miles, especially when you add snow and the airport security to the mix.

      We actually had a tiny earthquake here in MI a couple of years ago that knocked a few off shelves in my basement. I felt it and so did the dog but I didn't know what it was at the time. I hope that's the closest I ever get to one. The photos coming out of Alaska right now are sad.

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  9. Glad someone knew what the bacteria bag is for, that's a new one to me. I did think it must be a bacterial infection if some kind since she was in a room if immune suppressed patients. You can't "catch" bacterial infections (at least airborne), only viral infections. I'm trying to make some hard decisions about leaving SLC and heading south and west to somewhere that doesn't get cold weather. Th leaving decision isn't hard, it's just almost impossible to get anything done with my depression this severe. And I have to figure out how if get my insulin and other meds that keep me alive (haha, alive!) and I very likely will be living in my car for at least some while so decisions to be made about that. Well, that's more than anyone other than my drs won't to know about me. Once again I've very much enjoyed your post. I like your covert methods of getting blog fodder. You would've made a great spy!

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    1. Blog fodder just takes paying attention to the details of life. Wait until I'm snowed this winter I'll be describing the woodwork in the living room and the rung under the chair Levi chewed as a pup.

      Good to know that bacterial infections aren't airborne. I kind of figured she'd be safe or the nurses would have taken some precautions around the girl.

      Gosh, you are a braver person than I am. I'd be afraid I'd be jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, to move without a clear cut plan in place for where I'd be living and how. Living in my car is my next worst nightmare, the step I'd be taking before I'd end up with a shopping cart, my worst nightmare. On the bright side, living out of a shopping cart would be easier to do in warmer climates. I wish you could get some real help for your depression. Gotta keep trying...

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  10. I learned something reading your post, about the infusion to strengthen bones you got and the room full of quiet people just trying to get the treatment done and go home. That is quite a scene you paint with your words.

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    1. I would have loved to know what various people where getting treated for but it didn't/doesn't feel right to ask. The people who work there sure seemed dedicated, like they know what they are doing is important.

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  11. I love people watching too, Jean. I will go to the airport early just to do that while waiting to board. (Also I still have PTSD from all the times the hub made us so late we had to run the length of the airport to catch our gate while being paged...but that's another story).
    Good to know the treatment is working well for you!
    I've been told my bones are thinning too, so I guess something like this is in my future.

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    1. My husband was always running late as well. It got to the point where people would tell him something started at 7:00 when it really started at 8:00. I lived with that stress so many years that I really like being early now.

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  12. I don't know about these infusion things but eight hours in a chair would be a long time for me. At least you are a captive person and can get reading or whatever done and people-ing is fun, too!

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    1. I'd have trouble going more than an hour but I guess if the infusion is saving your life as in a lopus, crohn's, anti-hemophilic or cancer treatment you do what you have to do. I just googled infusions and found out they can run from 1/2 hour to eight and your veins, age and medical condition are what determines the time. The average length is 3 hours and if they give them to you too fast you get too sick the next day to move. They told me flu-like symptoms are common. All three times I've been there they had the TV set to HGTV with no volume. so that part was nice.

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  13. Just reading this post gives me the whimmies and makes me nauseous!!!!!

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    1. I know...it's the needles in the arm that do that to you. The secret truly is to drink a ton of water the day before getting blood tests and infusions. Needles slip right in without any searching or second or third tries and no discomfort.

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  14. Trial #2

    In case this goes through - I read the posts but often can't comment (and feel guilty in just reading and passing on). Today, somehow, I can!

    I'd learnt about the Reclast infusion from your earlier post on the subject.

    Anyways, in case I can't get through again, please know you have a constant fan (me) even if I'm unable to comment, and happy Xmas and NY.

    Libby

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  15. Note: When website doesn't show the Captcha-prove-not robot test, my comment goes into the ether. Today, when I did a trial run, the Captcha appeared, and after doing that I could comment.

    Libby (long explanation on case Captcha refuses to appear again, locking me out from commenting)

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    1. Libby, I don't know how many tests you did but three got through. Thank you for being persistent! I've wondered by I have heard from you lately. I've heard a few people on other blogs complaining about glitches in their comments. I guess I've had them too but just didn't know it. I comment a lot on other blogs and know how frustrating it is to have a comment go off in never-never land. Thankfully it doesn't happen often. A good tip would be if you write something long to copy it before clicking it through. Anyway, glad to see you this morning as I was just wondering how you're doing over there in sunny Australia.

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  16. This is all so interesting. I've never heard of Reclast or these infusions. There are so many things available now that weren't around even 20 years ago. Amazing. It does sound like quite a process, though, and I can appreciate the frustrations of trying to get everything coordinated. I go in for my eyes every six months, and even with that I'm constantly changing appointments at the last minute for this or that reason. Of course, the last time we had to reschedule it was because my doc was going elk hunting in Wyoming or somewhere, so he can't complain about me rescheduling for a while.

    I was interested to see H. pylori mentioned. My mother ended up in the hospital with that. Then, she picked up C. difficile in the hospital (or so we think). By the time it was all over, she didn't die, but she sure wished she could have now and then. It's not something I'd ever want to have to cope with -- like the shingles she went through. I think I need to go find some wood to knock on.

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    1. I think infusions are getting used for more and more things. I was interested and encouraged to learn they can now do infusions for chronic hives. I haven't had them in a few years---knock on wood---when I get them again I won't hesitate to ask for an infusion.

      I've never heard of H. pylori. Interesting yet sad at the same time. Shingles are something I hope never to get. They are truly awful!

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