Off to the Doctor Friday

Delve into the light and dark that is Mark
Delve into the light and dark that is Mark

Yesterday evening at 6, I received a call from my primary care provider, Crystal. I was surprised she was returning my call that late after office hours.

She inquired about the catch and pain with my right side, back and the sub-cu sac under my non-functional right lung. We talked about me doubling up on my prednisone and if it was having any effect yet. She also suggested possible lab work to rule out problems with my gall bladder or kidneys.

A follow-up from her staff would happen this morning. That call came in around 9 a.m. Since I am doing no better; the pain is still there; breathing has been more difficult, I am scheduled for an appointment in the morning at 11.

There is a bit of trepidation about the visit. With my history of what happened last year in August, I am a bit anxious. I am concerned I may land back in the hospital for an extended stay. None of my hospitalizations last less than five days at a time.

Although my lab work from two weeks ago revealed I was in “perfect” health (perfect for me that is) with nothing remarkable or concerning, that all seems to have changed last week. Although I am feeling stronger, able to do more, can bounce back quicker when breath and energy runs out, perhaps I am not as well as I thought.

That’s the way it is for me this Thursday waiting on Friday.

And how is your Thirsty, Throw Back Day going?

Hump Day Produce

Delve into the light and dark that is Mark
Delve into the light and dark that is Mark

It is produce day at the Colorado River Food Bank on this Hump Day. I have been told I will need to get in line no later than 11:30 this morning. Not sure how well this will go between the heat, my back pain and my respiratory issues.

Instead of distribution from inside the facility, people go through the produce outside like at a farmer’s market. Parking is out on the street since the setup is in the parking lot. Trouble for me will be not only picking through what is offered, but carry my bag(s) back to the car, walking down the slant to the road.

My back is a little bit better today, but still feeling like a catch and the pain is up and down in intensity. I did call my primary care provider at Live Oak Family Medicine. I am now waiting on a callback.

Chooey is starting to grow. Not by leaps and bounds, but I can see the growth, though minor. The name is so apt. Where Frankie only wanted to give kisses and Gizmo would do a purr when loving or being loved, Chooey tends to give out love with little nips – especially on my toes. He is learning, however, to give kisses and not nips at my chin.

Doing my best to remain positive and optimistic. Writing as much as possible to keep my mind off the loneliness and off the fact that Iohn walked out. At times it is not easy. I did get an appointment finally set with a lawyer to follow through on the divorce that Iohn wants.

Wondering if in addition to the medical care at the Veterans Administration health facilities will result in a VA check as well. Arguably, the major depression from which I suffer can be traced back to my time stationed at Grissom AFB, Indiana.

While in the Air Force in the mid to late 70s, I was an inpatient twice on the psych ward. One time was at Howard Community Hospital in Kokomo, Indiana and the other time was at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. In both cases I was going through a divorce. In both cases the diagnosis was “situational adjustment reaction to adult life”.

I did have regular therapy sessions with the base psychologist through most of my service time. None of this seemed to actually affect my work, however. My APRs (airman performance reports) were always 9s, which is as good as it got back then.

It definitely would be a Godsend, if I am eligible for some type of disability check from the VA in addition to my Social Security Disability check. With me not having enough money to get past payday each month for food and medicines, anything would be helpful.

Time to get ready to drive down to the CRFB.

That’s the way it is in the Desert this midweek day.

And how is your Wednesday going?

Catch in Back – Rising Fear

Delve into the light and dark that is Mark
Delve into the light and dark that is Mark

For the past few days I have had what is best described as a catch in the right side of my back and side. It is akin to a stiff neck which makes turning painful and very difficult.

The problem is my mind is beginning to wonder if this may be indicative of a deeper or more severe problem. It in and around my non-functioning right lung, which I lost the function to due to histoplasmosis.

While a PET Scan did not reveal any cancerous activity in my body, that was two years ago. While all my lab work came back normal and unremarkable, the fear of something dire going on within my body is building.

Should I call Live Oak Family Medicine or the Veterans Administration Hospital in Kingman, Arizona?

I am now approved for free care at the VA. I have not had my first appointment yet nor have I gone to get my ID card. Part of that is because I do not have the gas nor money for gas to make the 70-mile round-trip to Kingman.

It was a year ago when I was in the middle of a month and a half stay in the hospital. It was a year ago when my weight had fallen to 110 pounds. It was a year ago I lost my voice, which I have barely recovered. It was a year ago I lost my ability to sing and still cannot.

It was a year ago when I was finally diagnosed following a larynyx biopsy with disseminated histoplasmosis, the underlying cause of my most deadly health issues. It was a year ago when I spent a week in hospice.

Family and the doctors all were unsure if I would live another day let alone to be here in as good of a shape as I am a year later.

Fear that I may be facing another hospital stay with discovery of another issue is building.

What shall I do?

Give it another day?

That’s the way it is this Tuesday in the Desert.

And how is your second day of the week going?

Lonely Street?

Delve into the light and dark that is Mark
Delve into the light and dark that is Mark

The saying goes there is no rest for the worry. That is especially true with Chooey. My little buddy had me up around 5 a.m. today. Being wide awake, I turned on my coffee and we watched the sunrise.

In Friday’s edition of Kernels From the Cornfield, I shared an article from Prevention magazine about health risks associated with loneliness.

I have often written about how too many times I feel like I am in that old Fresca commercial where everyone is having a party in the snow while I am dry, no snow and cut off from the rest.

That is what loneliness is. When you feel disconnected even in a crowd. Sometimes, like this morning, I feel like I have checked into Elvis’ Heartbreak Hotel at the end of Lonely Street.

Prevention said there are six effects that are harmful to one’s health from loneliness:

a. Disrupted Sleep
b. Physical Pain
c. Poor Nutrition
d. Risk of Dementia
e. Premature Death
f. Heartbreak – literal damage to the heart

I can definitely attest to some of these in my own life. There are times sleep does not want to come. There are times my pain, which is never gone, becomes much more intense when I am feeling lonely. My eating habits can become bizarre. Fortunately the worst – dementia, death and damage to the heart have yet to occur.

Yes, I know, some would say I became demented years ago. LOL

Today is one of those days, as was yesterday, when the loneliness is closing in tight. There was one ray of light last night, when out of the blue, Iohn called using his room mate’s phone.

He had to use her phone because he is out of service until he pays up on Friday. Oh, and the room mate? There are two of them. They are a lesbian couple.

Contacted another lawyer today. Actually was able to set an appointment this time. Having to wait to see the attorney until September 2. Should not be long after that when Iohn can legally move on with his life without me.

My mind is hazy this morning. Perhaps its the heat which has been way above normal with at least one more day to go. Perhaps it is the loneliness.

What I know is that trying to focus and begin to ready my Kernels for today is not going to be easy.

That’s the way it is for me this start of a new week.

And how is your Monday going?

Another Early Start

Delve into the light and dark that is Mark
Delve into the light and dark that is Mark

Chooey made sure that I was not going to be sleeping in this hot, sunny Sunday morning. Like an alarm clock he woke me at 5:56 a.m. Time to get up and let Chooey run free in the backyard and take care of business.

There are some who question why I have Chooey given my financial circumstances. The cost, which is not that much, is far outweighed by the therapeutic value he provides. Those who do not see the intrinsic benefit of a companion for those such as myself who are ill and older are simply closing their eyes.

Before our breakup Iohn and I were proud parents to Frankie and Gizmo. We have had Frankie, who still resides with Iohn, since he was six months old. He will be 9-years-old in December.

Gizmo became our baby when he was 6-weeks-old. We had him for 2 1/2 years until the break-up. I was unable to bring him cross country with me. At that time I did not have the physical strength or well-being to take care of Gizmo on a 2,000-mile journey. Unfortunately, he scooted out the door, running away from my sister and Mom. I pray he is in God’s hands.

Then this past week, after praying if God’s will to somehow send Gizmo back to me, there was the posting in one of the local Facebook groups about a puppy being offered at no charge to a loving home. Both I and another member, a young woman, inquired. When I saw the picture of Chooey, my heart was lost to him. Chooey’s birth parents preferred he be placed with someone older, which I fit the bill.

At times it is a little difficult keeping up with this rambunctious little feller, but more than worth it. When he looks up at me, there are times I can see Gizmo looking back at me. Chooey will be 9-weeks-old this week. When you consider the time-frame of when he came into this world and when Gizmo disappeared, it is almost the same day.

Perhaps God has sent Gizmo back to me as Chooey.

So this Lord’s Day morning I sit entering into my blog while Chooey lays on my lap, taking a nap. Even while he sleeps I can feel the love.

And how is your Sunday going?

Late to Bed, Early to Rise

Delve into the light and dark that is Mark

Made no difference that we had gone to bed relatively late last night. Chooey woke me bright and early at 6 a.m. He is ready to go downstairs and outside for his morning constitutional.

Stopping by the kitchen on our way to the patio, I turned on the coffee maker. As the morning java was brewing, Chooey ran around the yard taking care of business.

I did my morning texts and messages to my sons, my daughters-in-law, mother and sister. I send the same message every day: Morning. Love you. Perhaps I am overdoing it, but the Garth Brooks song runs through my mind each day – If Tomorrow Never Comes.

Now I am on my second cup of coffee. My mind is a jumble.

The mercury reading when I rose was at 90 degrees. It is still 90. The humidity was a horrific 44% and has only dropped to 42%.

The pressure on my lung cavity is intense. But it is not the intensity which could put me down or in the hospital when I was back in the Cornfield. In the Desert, though I feel the bricks weighing me down, I am still able to recover quickly and easily. In the Desert, I am able to continue to function.

After romping and playing for the past hour and a half, Chooey is ready for his nap. As I type he is laying on my lap. Soon Chooey will be off in Sand Land.

A dust storm whipped across the Desert valley yesterday evening. It stayed to the east of Mark’s Den traveling along the Colorado River from the south to the north. The storm was fueled by the ash and debris from the #WillowFire.

The storm pushed up from Topock and Mohave Valley into Fort Mohave in Arizona. It then crossed the river taking a path northward along Casino Drive in Laughlin, blinding all, making visibility around the casinos impossible for a few minutes. A few rain drops fell outside Mark’s Den, but no sand, dust or debris.

This morning all is calm. Wispy and fluffy clouds are splattered across the blue sky. The sun is beaming with full levels unthrottled. It is going to be a very hot, but beautiful day in the Desert.

That’s the way it is this early, weekend morning in the Desert.

And how is your Saturday going?

Mid Month Already

marksdeninsidemymindIt cannot be, but it is. We are at the halfway point for the month of August.

Where has this month gone?

For many students, it is a second or even third week of school. Unlike when I was growing up and school began after Labor Day. I can’t see where all these extra days and weeks have made much of a difference in a positive light. Actually seems it has been the opposite. Too many are graduating with ineffective and under level math and reading skills.

Maybe I am an old fogie who can’t see the truth.

An excessive heat warning remains in effect across the Desert through Sunday and into Monday. The humidity has remained in double digits to my dismay. But in comparison to being back in the Cornfield, it is more than bearable.

Apparently the name I gave to my newest family member, Chooey, is very appropriate. Unlike Frankie and Gizmo when they were pups, Chooey is real chewer. But he is only chewing on his toy, his blankie or me.

The actual genesis for naming him, Chooey, was a take from Star Wars. He is named after Chewbaca, who was called Chewy. But I decided to spell it Chooey to set him apart.

Have yet to receive postal confirmation from the Veterans Administration of my eligibility for care. As I noted the other day, I did receive the phone call from the VA. When my first appointment will be, I am not sure yet. I am waiting on either a phone call or a letter with that information.

Doing my best to ignore my cluster headaches, which after a short respite came back in earnest. A big issue lately has been with the dizzy spells. Those can be so debilitating and embarrassing. Granted the spells last for only a minute or two, but still, what a pain with which to deal.

That’s the way it is this Friday on the crest of the mid month hill.

And how is your TGIF going?


Thirsty, Throw-Back Thursday

marksdeninsidemymindThursday in the Desert and there is a excessive heat warning out for now through Monday from the National Weather Service. Currently it is 93 degrees with humidity at 28%. Believe me I am feeling the humidity.

Today would have been my Uncle Allen Powell’s 73rd birthday. We lost him a few years back. His final hours were spent at my Mom’s house surrounded by his family.

Had a scary moment in the middle of the night. I could hear Chooey whining. But could not find him. He had woke me out of sleep. When we went to bed he was laying in the crook of my left arm.

I got up. Turned on a light. Looked under the bed and settee. I pulled back the comforter and sheet on the bed. No Chooey to be found. Then I decided to look between the footboard of the bed and the mattress.

Sure enough, there he was. Chooey had managed to get wedged and covered with the comforter. With ease I pulled him free.

Being up and hoping to see some of the meteor shower, Chooey and I went downstairs and out to the patio. While he did his business I looked up at the clear night sky hoping to see at least one or two shooting stars.

Alas, there was nothing to see.

Going to be a lazy, hot day. Definitely will be keeping my ice water filled and handy. Yes, going to be a thirsty day.

As far as a throwback?

How is this:

My family with Mom in 2013.
My family with Mom in 2013.

That’s the way it is in Mark’s Den this Thursday.

And how is your day before the weekend going?

Hump Day, Schlump Day

marksdeninsidemymindMidweek and a beautiful morning in the Desert. The mercury is setting at 91 degrees with a humidity of 38%, down from 44% when I rose at 6:30 this morning.

I am feeling the effects of the “high” humidity on my lungs and pressure on the chest walls. When compared to how it was in the Cornfield, this is a piece of cake. 

Chooey, the newest member of the family, did really well his first day and night at Mark’s Den. He slept all night and there were no accidents. When I brought him downstairs this morning, he waited for me to pour my coffee.

We then headed to the patio. It was only after we were outside that Chooey did his morning constitutional.

The #WillowFire is now 75% contained. The damage from the fire is horrific. Some of the pictures being shared in the various local Facebook groups is enough to make you sick. The evacuations are now over and people are able to go home or survey the devastation.

Did you check yesterdays recap of the headlines and current events?

If not, visit: Kernels From The Cornfield.

Received a call from the Veterans Administration as I have been typing. It seems I have been approved for access to the VA medical system. Being ineligible for Medicaid in Nevada, this will be a godsend on my medical costs.

That’s  the way it is this Wednesday in the Desert.

And how is your midweek going?

More Government Largesse

marksdeninsidemymindI was informed a few minutes ago that in addition to the whopping $16 per month in food benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), I do not qualify for Medicaid in Nevada. I do, however, qualify for the Slim Program which provides for my Part B premium, but may take up to four months before it is processed through the system.

This means that my Social Security check will continue to be over $100 less each month up until around the first of the year. Now I will be reimbursed, but in the meantime, I do without.

At least for the next four months, after I pay my rent, car payment with insurance, the personal loan Iohn took out, and my phone bill (which I need in case of emergency), I will have to make do with $50 or less per month for food, medicines, co-pays of 20% on doctor and lab work and gasoline to get me to the doctors and grocery store.

Isn’t that special?

Now to be fair, back in Indiana I did not qualify exactly for Medicaid though the state did end up picking up the excess medical costs which there was no way I could pay. I also did not qualify for even the $16 in SNAP benefit. Also in Indiana, Iohn was still with me and helped make sure I had food, medicines, could see my doctors and gasoline.

When Iohn left he promised he would not leave me high and dry. He promised to continue to assist me in making it from month to month. Things changed. It took me two months to be reimburse what I paid out on his behalf from my check in June. Now there is part of both July and August on the personal loan – and – I even loaned him my last bit of  money in the bank so he could have gas to get back and forth to work a week ago.

Iohn was paid Friday, but no reimbursement, yet. He did say if not this past Friday he would provide his next payday on the 21st of this month – that is if I can last that long.

There are some who seem to think I can qualify for this program and that program. They are wrong. I have been dealing with the system for the past 15 years.

Although I am on the poverty line, I am told over and over and over, I make too much money. I worked for over 30 years before I became sick. I played by the rules.

Now I am penalized.

What is aggravating is those who have never worked a day in their lives, are perfectly capable and fit, receive full benefits. Those individuals have the nicest of everything, the latest gadgets, the sportiest cars, go out and play, run, jump, drink every night, dance the night away – and get full benefits.

I do believe in the biblical principle that if you don’t work, you don’t eat – unless there is a legitimate reason you are unable to provide for yourself due to no fault of your own, such as a debilitating disability.

But so many of those getting full benefits do not have such an issue or concern.

Enough of my venting.

Nothing will change.

Nothing will become better.

It doesn’t matter which party or which person is in charge of government, all will remain the same.

OK, Mark, shut-up.