April Fool’s Day seems appropriate

It’s 9:00 a.m. on Thursday morning, and I’ve only got two days until my self-imposed deadline of April 1st, April Fool’s Day. That’s the day I wanted this blog/website/greeting card business, whatever this endeavor has evolved into, to launch. April Fool’s Day just seemed so appropriate. I tossed around a lot of domain names for this blog, and several of them included the word virgin. I decided that, even though I’m a complete novice at all of this, it was just too silly to call an almost 70-year-old grandmother a virgin anything. I know I’m doing things all out of order, incompletely, sometimes backwards, and sometimes not at all. In short, I’m making a mess. I do hope that some of you will offer suggestions, and come along on this journey with me. I would like to make friends in the blogosphere. Is a blogosphere a thing?

Everything takes so long!

I’m back. Today is Monday, March 27, 2023. I just got home from an appointment to have lab work done prior to an appointment with my primary care doctor next Monday. I was in the kitchen making the first steps towards my husband’s lunch. My husband was in the living room with the T.V. on and he called to me to say there had been another school shooting, this time in Nashville. My soon-to-be daughter-in-law has been the director of a private Pre-K through 4th grade school in San Antonio for 22 years. Her son and his long-time girlfriend live in Nashville where he is a musician and she is a Pre-K teacher in a private pre-school. I dropped what I was doing and went to the T.V. It was breaking news, the shooting happened just after 10:00 a.m., just a few minutes ago. Reporters didn’t have much information then, but they said there would be a news conference in 20 minutes with the mayor or police chief, and we should find out more then. At that time, it was being reported that 3 children and the shooter were dead. I grabbed my phone and texted my friend, daughter-in-law as of May 6th, with the breaking news. In a few minutes she texted me back to say it was not the school where Kate worked, and that she is fine. I was receiving that text when I heard the T.V. say there were 7 victims of the shootings and none survived. They said that 3 students, 3 staff members, and the shooter were all deceased. I was relieved that Kate was not hurt, but I began tearing none-the-less. I texted son and daughter with the news and closed both texts with, “Horrified and heartbroken again.” I don’t usually cry easily, but over the past several days I’ve been a little weepy several times. I think it’s because I’ve been very tired lately (sleeping 2-4 and a half hours a night for about 4 months) and I felt a significant downturn in my general health last Thursday. I had the feeling that my bones, joints, nerves, and organs were deteriorating. I was at a pain level 8, and by the time it took to take the pill and for it to take effect, I had reached a Level 9. It had been a while since I had been above an 8. In October of 2022 I told my primary care doc that I felt the bones and joints and connective tissue in my shoulders deteriorating. He raised an eyebrow a bit, but when the CT scan ordered for my lungs came back, it showed my shoulders had been worn away some. Weepiness, weakness, and weariness aside, (kind of sounds like a terrible blues band, doesn’t it?) I don’t understand why we can’t do a better job of protecting people in this country, especially our children. I know we began with a revolution, and our culture is generally more violent than other modern nations, but really? Gunshots are the leading cause of death for children under the age of 18. More children die from gunshots than car accidents, cancer, drowning, or any contagious disease. I am a 2nd amendment advocate, but where is the common sense? Somehow, your right to carry any loaded gun, anywhere, anytime, has dramatically infringed on my right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I don’t want this blog to be political in any way, but I am just so moved by yet another tragedy. I’ll quit now. My hands are cramping and I’m at an overall pain level 7 and an hour away from being able to take a pill. I’ll stop and breathe, and stretch, and pray, and make some progress toward preparing dinner. Almost everything I do these days has to be done in stages with breaks in between. No wonder everything takes so long!

Left, Left, Left, Write, Left. One foot in front of the other and march on, soldier.

We first moved to San Antonio in 2012, when our daughter, a single mother then herself, said she needed our help “Now!” I took an early retirement from a 30 + year teaching career and we moved to San Antonio, Texas from Denton, Texas. This is the tenth home I’ve owned, but only the 2nd condominium. All the rest were single family houses. We moved into the first condo when we were new to San Antonio, and we moved into this one in August of 2022. I have never had an easier move. My daughter took care of almost everything, and when we came back to San Antonio from an appointment in Dallas with a specialty surgeon, who my University Medical Center surgeon referred me to, we came directly here. This condo is only a couple of blocks from our other one, but it is a smaller, less expensive, one-story unit downstairs. It suits our needs perfectly, and we’ve been blessed with the best neighbors anyone could imagine.

At any rate, the specialty surgeon I saw in Dallas, at Baylor Scott and White, said pretty much the same thing everyone else said. He, nor anyone else thinks a transplant, or any of the other major surgeries is a good idea. None of them think I’d have a good chance of surviving a major surgery or being able to tolerate the strong immunosuppressive drugs I would need to take forever after. I really don’t like the idea of anything invasive anyway, but I instinctively dig in my heels when I’m told no. Sometimes that works in my favor, though. For instance, I waited months to see a transplant surgeon at University Medical Center. Every time I went for an appointment, she was pulled away at the last minute to do an emergency transplant. The last time it was a liver transplant for an infant. I am always in awe at the fortitude it takes to be a doctor, especially surgeons who are so skilled and talented they are always in demand, and especially when infants’ lives are in their hands, literally. I met with her P.A. that time and she told me she had discussed my situation with the doctor and they had looked at my history of scans, including the MRI with contrast she had ordered for our appointment. Her P.A. told me the doctor had said I really wasn’t a candidate for the surgery she would perform because, if for no other reason, I didn’t weigh enough. I had been overweight since childhood, but was now down to 86 lbs. At 5 feet 1 inch tall (I used to be almost 5 ft. 4 in.), they said it was too risky to do the Wipple Procedure. That was what I had been referred to her for, to discuss that option. It’s basically cutting away the atrophied parts and sewing what’s left directly into the liver. Sort of reconfiguring the plumbing. It hurts so much to eat, but I want to make the final decisions about what to do with my body. I can’t stand being told I can’t do something even if I don’t want to do it anyway. Well, the P.A. said the doctor wanted me to gain weight and come back to see her then. I suffered through a lot of increased pain, but over the past several months I have forced myself to eat more (with accompanying constipation, diarrhea, hard bloating, throwing up, and close to pass-out pain). I was able to see her/the doctor, for a virtual appointment then, and it turns out that procedure only really works for people who have severe damage in only one area of the pancreas, either the head, the body, or the tail. My whole pancreas is damaged. Again, nobody thinks a transplant is a good idea. I do feel stronger now though, since I am up to 96 pounds. Don’t tell me I’m not a candidate because I don’t weigh enough!

I have a new pain specialist now, and he really dislikes one of my pain medications, an opioid transdermal system, a Fentanyl 25 patch, that I change every 72 hours. He suggested I try a different nerve block surgery, and I agreed.  It is a Splanchnic nerve block, and he performed it in two stages. The first part was injections into a spinal nerve bundle, under anesthesia. He said what they were looking for was at least a fifty percent decrease in pain over 4-6 hours. If that worked, then he would go back, in about 3 weeks, and burn those nerves, so that the pain relief would last months. The exact length of time differs from one person to another. I had already had two celiac nerve blocks, 2 different doctors, 2 different facilities, and 2 different angles. Neither worked. The Splanchnic is used much less frequently, but it is in a different nerve bundle than the celiac nerve block, and sometimes the celiac nerves have been so damaged that the procedure won’t work. Evidently that was the case with me. The Splanchnic worked! I went in with a strong Pain Level 8 and, afterward, my pain was down to a 4, but that was only for a six-inch wide, three-inch high oval just above my belly button. It didn’t help the rest of my body, but relief is relief, and I’ll take it where I can get it. Pain can be exhausting, and when I hurt too much I can’t think or function. I need to be able to take care of my eighty-three-year-old husband who has a myriad of health problems of his own. I still clean house, not always very well or often, plan, shop, cook and serve tasty nutritious food, and do laundry. We can’t afford to hire help, and the savings we had for retirement has been spent on family support and medical needs. Living on Social Security and Teacher Retirement makes for an “I do it myself or it doesn’t get done” situation. I’m having a hard time thinking now and not doubling over. My pain pills don’t last nearly long enough, and I have 30 minutes until I can take another, and then it takes 45 minutes to an hour for them to work, so I guess I’ll sign off for now.