Friday, April 20, 2012

Rumors of my demise...

To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. Besides being sick in the head, (my normal state of being), in December of 2010 we had a humongous snowstorm up here in the Western North Carolina mountains. As the snow was just coming down lightly, I figured I could make it over to John and Virginia Dekker's house on the west side of Hendersonville and pick up Lynne before it got too bad. Bad choice.

I started to drive over there in our antique (1992) BMW and it seems like that was the trigger to cause the snow to immediately start falling at triple the rate. Lynne was baby-sitting the Dekker's three dogs while they were out of town. They usually reciprocate by watching our three cats when we go someplace. I got stuck in the snow about a half-mile from their house. Fortunately, I was able to maneuver the car over to the side of the road to keep it out of the way of other vehicles. Then the people next door to the Dekker's came to get me with Lynne in their 4-wheel drive vehicle. They drove us down to the entrance to the community and we waited for our youngest daughter to come pick us up in their 4-wheel drive vehicle.

By now you should be getting the idea that for where we live, a 4-wheel drive vehicle seems to be an awfully good idea. At this point in time, I realized that I could not drive back up the mountain where we live to get home again until either the snow melted or we acquired a 4-wheel drive vehicle. And if I didn't get a 4-wheel drive car, this could happen another dozen times that winter or any winter thereafter. Sort of a no-brainer situation: get a 4 wheel drive vehicle or move.

When we got here in 2005 we had no transportation at all and no money to get one. The situation was slightly different in 2010 simply because we had gotten a reverse mortgage and had a little money left to draw on. However, in looking through all the information on used 4-wheel drive vehicles, it became apparent right away that we'd be lucky to find one decent vehicle for less than $20,000. That was eighty Percent (80%) of the money we had left in the reverse mortgage. Tough call, huh? Keep in mind that I have no job, I have not worked since the heart attack eight weeks before Katrina and the 565 idiots in Congress have not exactly been our friends with their dipping into our Social Security and refusing us the cost of living increase for two years.

It was Melody's husband that found the car for us. He ran across it online and settled my nerves about it. "I had a Toyota 4 Runner for a couple of years when I lived in Colorado. A remarkable car - it was bulletproof!" That was not meant in the true sense of the word but used to give me an idea that the car was very hard to stop. We ended up buying the car and it has served us well for the last year and four months. Ended up costing us less than $9,000 which meant we only used up 37% of our reverse mortgage reserve.

What didn't go down so well was the situation at Melody and Tommy's house. I didn't know that they were all sick with some sort of respiratory illness and the doctor had all four of them on anti-biotics. Anyone that knows me knows the lifelong battle I've had with respiratory infections. This little sojourn at their house for three days with no way to escape, hardly any fresh air at all (it was in the 20's outside) and none of my vitamins or prescription medicine on hand really knocked the hell out of my already shaky immune system.

With such an assault on my health, particularly with all the other stuff that has been going on for the last couple of years with the added injustice of not being 22 anymore, I didn't really start to feel much better until the end of the summer, around the middle of October up here. Then Lynne went to New Orleans for ten days and when she came back she had a nasty gift for me: she was carrying some sort of infection donated by the bug network in Louisiana. Within a couple of weeks my sinuses were packed with a real doozy of an infection and I became the apparent local distributor of Grey Poupon Mustard, at least that's what the stuff coming out of my nose looked like. It was awful and my overall health started to get worse.

Eventually I ended up in the hospital emergency room a couple of times with what I call the "Seasickness Syndrome". That occurs when you get so sick, like seasickness, it's only the hope of dying that keeps you alive. Then my legs started to swell up. What an exciting time! Did you know that when the legs swell up and begin to make you look like the Michelin Tire Man, at a certain point the body starts to dump excess fluid through the skin? Wow! You walk across the linoleum floor in the kitchen like a giant slug leaving a trail that really resembles footprints by the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

At that point I ended up in the doctor's office and she told me I had to have some Home Health Care. I had open wounds on my left leg that seemed to have appeared from out of nowhere - sort of like the stigmata the Catholic Church keeps referring to when discussing various and sundry saints. No, I'm not suggesting by any stretch of the imagination that I might be a saint and I didn't have any marks on my hands or feet but the appearance of these wounds resembled the stories of how the stigmata would come out of nowhere. Seems as though the valves in my legs had gotten clogged up and the blood had no place to go. It's called venous insufficiency.

The name does not give you any idea of the severity of the treatment. From what I've heard, it's almost the exact same thing they do to burn victims. I'm certain that you have heard just how painful that procedure can be. When the new skin forms and becomes a scab it has to be removed in order to facilitate the healing process and prevent infection. Until you have experienced that treatment you have no idea just how painful it really is. Words cannot describe the agony of having healthy skin pulled away from an open wound. Essentially it seemed as though I was waiting for the home health care nurse to come by twice a week and attempt to amputate my leg without any anesthetic! There's that good old Chinese curse again: "May you live in interesting times!" No funnsie's whatsoever!

The treatment was completed about six weeks ago and of course I'm going to have to wear compression socks from now on - permanently. Just remember there are certain prices most of us have to pay simply because we've lived longer than others! Speaking of which, here's a good question for you. Dr. Wayne Dyer asks this in most of his motivational seminars: "Would you like to live to be 100 years old?" Most people have qualifications like "if I have enough money; or, if I'm in good health; or, if I don't have any dental problems". There's a whole list of things that people want if they are going to live to be 100 years old.

Let's face it folks, those qualifications don't apply. They have a very adverse effect on your ability to help the body survive into three figures. Basic cooperative attitude is simply to have no qualifications whatsoever. Then immediately people will jump on to "What if I'm paralyzed from the neck down?" and my answer to those people is my attitude. I have every intention of living past 100. Might trip on the stairs tomorrow, hit the ground like a sack of potatoes and end that pipe dream. However, if I do end up paralyzed from the neck down, I'll learn how to paint with a brush in my mouth or something equally as challenging.

In the meantime, as much as it may offend a few people, I am alive and kicking and intend to keep things that way as long as I have any control over the situation.

Your feedback is what keeps me going. All writers need encouragement from time to time. Feel free to leave any sort of comment after this article - it really is important.