Tuesday, March 18, 2014


It's not tomorrow.  My week was sooo busy and so sad.  My big brother went to see Jesus on the 9th of this month.  He was 82 and struggling with dementia. Bill had been a highly thought of family practice doctor for all his working life.  He graduated from Baylor in Houston, where he met his wife of 55 years, Mary Ann. They decided that where they needed to start their life was in Ft. Worth, TX, because it was halfway between parents... hers being in Houston and his being in Okla. City, OK.  That made it easier when the babies came for the grandparents, aunts and uncles to be involved in their lives. All us 6 kids were spread out over 17 years so my big brother was 14 years older than me and therefore was almost more of a father figure, especially for me and my baby brother.  I went down to Ft. Worth and stayed with Ben (baby brother) and his wife Diane and we kept ourselves busy enough to not be crying all week.  We had lots of stories to swap and laugh about over the years so there was a lot of joy and celebration of Bill's life to share. As soon as I figure out again how to transfer photos I will photo bomb you all with photos that I love of my big brother and my family... but meanwhile, back to the story.

Senility runs in our family, on our mother's side and we are all aware that it can hit any of us.  It was so frustrating to Bill because he was uber aware of what was happening but was unable to stop the progression and for a doctor that was such a hard pill to swallow (pun intended). When he had his good days he loved to pop his funny jokes and tease like he always had done but his bad days were filled with depression, sadness and tears, wanting to go home. Anyone who has dealt with senility, dementia or Alzheimer's or whatever name you give it understands the frustration and pain associated with the disease, not only for the patient but also for the caretakers. It is a roller coaster ride like no other. You learn to cherish the good times and try to bury the bad times. I am so thankful that I went down and stayed with Bill for 9 days in October while his wife (who is also 82) went for a reunion with about a dozen friends from high school days.  Had I not had that time with him the loss of my brother would have been much harder on me.  Each of us sibs know from our mom that none of us wants to go that way.  While physical pain is not a part of the equation, the mental anguish of being aware of what is happening to them in the beginning is so scary.  Not in the traditional sense of scary but scary in the sense of is "it" starting to happen to me? The only way we have all learned to deal with the possibility of 'being next' is to joke about it.  Like Carol used to joke that she was going to rent me out to the neighbors because I was so good at pulling weeds but we would have to tie me to a tree so I wouldn't wander off.  Things like that.  Kind of like the movie and t.v. show Mash. You make jokes to deal with the pain and destruction that is going on in our head.

Hate to stop on this note, but I've gone about as far as I can go without a brain rest.  I will be back!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

I Think It's A Sign...

I think it's a sign that I need to start blogging again...  Face Book has determined that I am a non-entity. I have been locked out and blanked out of the games, off of friends lists and the Good Lord only knows what I might have done to screw up my account. So since even I, the game player, need to talk sometimes and I have been silent too long so we need to play catch up.

So much has happened in the last year that I will have to figure where to start. My depression pretty much got out of hand for a variety of reasons and then I started having palsy in my hands and when I would try to type I would uncontrollably hit the key several times and it would just frustrate the dickens out of me and certainly didn't help the depression, feeling like all I was doing was forever correcting myself and I had enough people in my life criticizing what ever I was doing. I hit bottom. Period.

I didn't want to do anything more than was absolutely necessary. I quit caring for myself physically and mentally. I just didn't give a shit. All I wanted to do was sleep. My poor dogs were so patient with me.

I finally sought professional help and started taking anti-depressants. It's taken a while but I am finally starting to feel like myself again, albeit off and on.

Some of the other things that have happened in the last year...I had to put my sweet Chloe down last May I believe. I'm real sketchy when it comes to dates. I was packing to move to low income apartments since Carol and her sister were moving to Broken Arrow and blew a compression fracture, T-7 or T-8 I don't remember now which one but I had to move by July 1st so I was so drugged up that I am still finding things that were put up in my apartment by friends, but thank God for friends that were kind enough to help. I was already in a world of hurt with my back and Carol moving away and would have even been more so if I hadn't had friends to help me.

SueSue and I got moved in and I spent most of my time playing on Face Book and basically watching the world go by. The only time I got out was to walk SueSue because we have no fenced yard, go to the grocery and to doctor appointments. My family doc sent me to a back specialist, he had the MRI done and found the fracture and in September I went in the hospital and had surgery or I should say got my back superglued back together. I had to stay overnight so they could make sure I could go to the bathroom on my own and what better time to try that out than night time?  Also had to be able to shower by myself and eat before they would let me go back home. The most awesome part of the whole deal was that I could walk Suess without pain. I was no longer doing the Tim Conway "old man shuffle".

More to come tomorrow...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Still Kickin' - Two

I could continue to relate all the symptomology but it would be repeating basically what I've told you.  I sort of learned through all this that if I removed myself from me and looked at what was going on in different parts of my body that it helped keep the pain controlled longer and I could be up more... not particularly helpful around the house but I could do my own laundry and do the dishes some evenings.  Bless Carol for being sooo very patient through all this.  She just continued doing around the house and in the yard and if I was up she would talk about what was going on with me and check to see how I was feeling and didn't push me about not being up or sleeping too much.  I had talked with her about not wanting to add any more medications to my body until the liver doctor got back all those results from the blood tests so that he would have as clean a slate as possible for me when he decided what my treatment would be so that if there were side effects with any of the meds he would be able to make whatever necessary changes without the waters being too muddied, as it were, and she understood where I was coming from about not pressing for more pain meds or trying to rush the doctor about getting to see me.  Believe me, when you are waiting to make an appointment with a liver specialist for the first time and you get a phone call and the voice says, "This is the Liver Transplant Center calling for Helen Gardner" it tends to get your attention and I wanted to fully cooperate with the doctor to avoid the possibility of a transplant.

So time passed and I fogged in and out of the pain and time came for my appointment to find out what all the blood work indicated was going on in my body.  A dear friend drove me to Oklahoma City to the Transplant Center, seriously that is the name of the clinic.  I didn't trust myself to drive because of the pain and the drugs I had been taking. I told the doctor that it felt like my body was trying to rip itself to shreds.  I had a war going on inside and he agreed that my good guys were attacking what they perceived as my bad guys in my body and trying to eat them and destroy the invaders.  What it basically all boils down to is my autoimmune system is AWOL.  Every test it seems that is checking autoimmune markers is out of range.  The doctor said that he really wasn't in the mood to transplant me so how about if we try to get you back to some semblence of a normal life by the use of medications.  He also told me that if I hadn't been so pig-headed about getting off the steroids I wouldn't have had to go through all I'd been going through for the last month or two, something that I'd already figured out for my own stubborn self. I told him that he was right, that I had been so frustrated with nothing seeming to improve that I was just fed up with all of it. The doctor said his goal is to get the liver enzymes back in a somewhat normal range and controlled for three years. After three years my antibodies might forget about the ones they thought were bad and he could then try getting me off all medications. Sounds good to me... I'll only be 70 and I'll be ready to go dancing!

He started me again on the prednisone and I'll be on it until I see him in January. Within two days the pain was nowhere even remotely near what I had been dealing with for almost two months. I still have had to take pain pills occasionally but not 4 - 6 times a day. I'll have to get blood drawn in another week, but will not have to go back to the lab during the holidays.  That sound like a great Christmas present to me.  I walked the dogs for the first time in over two months and they were happy babies to go poop somewhere other than their own little yard.  Carol and her sister went to Habit For Humanity and found carpet squares and I actually was able to help lay down new carpet in the living room, hall and front bedroom.  Nancy, Carol's sister, took up the old carpet and padding and we decided that when the mobile home was built they must've paid the workers by the staple because there was a butt-load of staples used to put the padding down. My brother had given me a multi-use tool on one of my trips to Ft. Worth and I figured out that one of the attachments would cut the staples off even with the floor and Carol's eyes lit up and she became a staple and old nail cutting mother!  She is in a wheelchair most of the time now but she could bend where she could make the tool flat to the floor and cut those nasty staples off.  She got after it, which is good because I still wasn't up to being able to help much but when all the cutting, cleaning and prep was done and the glue was rolled on the floor I was able to help lay the squares down.  I was so excited to be able to help do SOMETHING around the house that I was almost in tears.  The best part about it was I was able to do something to help two days in a row.  Not like I used to be able to do but able to help and do some of the repair/fixit around the house stuff that I so have enjoyed doing over the years.  I'll have a good day or two in a row then I will still have a fall out and sleep a good portion of the day spell. I really feel like maybe, just maybe I am on the road to being able to do around the house and next spring maybe I can get back out into the garden.

What it all boils down to is I have missed visiting you all and wanted to let you know that I may be back on the road to getting back to my ornery self. Or at least 2/3rds of my ornery self.  Thank you all for caring what's going on with me and checking up on me.  My doctor said that I'm not done with things in my life and he wants to get me back to taking care of business.  I totally agree with him...

I'm not done yet!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Still Kickin'

I knew it had been a while since I've posted on my blog and when I looked I was embarrassed to see how long it had been...  A lot has happened since my last post and nothing really has happened since my last post.     Let me explain that statement.

In August I was pretty much tired of feeling like the hamster in the wheel, running and running to nowhere on the medical side of my life after getting my blood drawn every month and going to the G.I. and having virtually the same conversation about getting the liver function down to somewhere near normal.  I was having some side effects that I attributed to the Imuran, the liver medicine that I had been taking, along with prednisone (steroids) for months.  My doctor was getting frustrated, also I think, because my liver readings were not getting down to where he thought they should be and I was thinking if the dang liver med hadn't kicked in to deal with the problem and get me off the steroids then why am I taking it?  We talked and I told him that I felt some of the problems that were putting me in the dirt were side effects of the Imuran and I wanted to know if there were other options.  He was honest with my that he really didn't know as it was pretty much all he knew to do and he would prefer that I go to a liver specialist that would be more knowledgeable about it all.  Fine with me but I'm getting off the Imuran and he said that was fine but would you not go off the prednisone.  Well, I thought what is 7.5 mg every other day going to do for me but for now I stayed on it.

I went to Ft. Worth for the weekend of August 24th.  My sister-in-law was going to sing for her first time with a gospel group and 6 or 8 songs solo in the program.  The concert program was at a large church in Benbrook, a bedroom community in the south part of Ft. Worth.  My sister that lives in Weatherford, TX, west of Ft. Worth drove in and we got to visit and sit together during the concert and that was fun to get to catch up with her.  It seems we don't get to do that often enough.

This was the flyer for Diane's first professional appearance.  Gloria Diane Gardner or as we call her GG or Diane. She also went with Praise, Inc. to Vermont for 4 days of concerts.  My baby brother went with her and Praise, Inc. on their Vermont trip and they got to visit with my cousin and her husband that live close to where the concerts were being held.  I was jealous that they got to visit my cousin as it has probably been 15 or 20 years since I've gotten to see my cousin... but I wasn't cognizant enough to fuss too much about it.  I, once again, have digressed from my post...

Meanwhile back at the ranch... The Evening Of Praise was wonderful, but also very long.  Anyone that has ever gone to a gospel singing evening knows it will go at least 2 hours and more likely 3-4 hours. Since I went with Bennett (baby brother) and Diane we were at the church so they could get set up and do sound checks and all that pre stuff and then we were at the church for the tear down and all total we were there from about 3:30 in the afternoon until 11 p.m. that night.  I was wiped out.  I slept for the better part of Saturday.  Praise, Inc. was going to sing at a car show and I was looking forward to getting to see all the older cars and enjoy some more music but I was so exhausted that I told Ben he was going to have to go without me.  Diane was also pretty wiped and was staying home until little brother called and smooth talked her into going to the show and doing some more singing both solo and with the guys. I slept, watched a little t.v. and slept some more and some more.

I had planned to get up and go to church with B. and D, on Sunday but I didn't wake up until almost noon on Sunday and when they got home from church we all basically crashed, napping and watching t.v. until Sunday night when we met two of my nephews at the movie, the first one I'd been to at a movie theater since I went with Ben and Diane to see "Elf" when it came out several years ago.  I got up on Monday and drove home. Exhausted.

Somewhere during that stretch of a few days I decided in one of more disastrous decisions that the prednisone wasn't doing any good no more than I was taking... 7.5 mg every other day.  The doctor hadn't told me that you have to step down, way down before you quit taking it and I figured there wouldn't be any problem.  I was so very wrong as any of you who have been on an extended steroid regimen know.

NEWS FLASH... Sometimes I just amaze my own stupid self... I just now in talking with Carol realized I lost almost two months.  I was thinking that I just lost about one month, but I'd been thinking that the concert was in September when they were in August. I got home on Monday even more tired than usual from my trip. And from there things pretty much started heading south.  I slept, got up to eat, maybe get on the computer a bit, maybe not, back to sleep and the next day repeat.  Then the pain started.  I would take pain pills when I got up to feed the dogs in the morning, go back to bed and when I'd get up again I'd take more pain pills just to try to keep the pain at a manageable level... it wasn't working very well.  I went to my regular doctor about getting stronger pain medication until I could see the liver doctor.  I had my first appointment with him on Sept. 20th I think.  Before he did anything medication wise he wanted to get lab work and then we would get down to the business of figuring out what he was needing to treat.  He order 15 different blood tests. I got the bill for them the other day... over six thousand dollars of tests.  Thank God for Medicare otherwise we wouldn't be having this conversation because I'm one of those that has no other medical insurance.

In the time after the blood tests until my appointment to see him again, the pain really kicked in.  I would wake up one day with hot, searing joint pain in maybe my elbows one day and then in my wrists and hands the next. You could see the swelling and almost feel the heat coming off whatever area was hurting that day.  My hands looked like I had been in a fight.  My knuckles would swell up to almost double normal size and the swelling would go halfway up my arm. When the pain traveled again it went to my knees.  I was in such pain just trying to walk from my bed to the bathroom (about 12 steps) that I had to use Carol's cane for several days and thought about getting her walker but I didn't get quite that bad. As the days passed I got to being almost analytical watching the pain traveling from one area to the next in my body.  Almost as if I was on the outside of my body looking in and observing what was going on.  For example I figured out when the low grade fever started coming on the pain would start intensifying. The pain meds my family practice doctor gave me that were stronger than what I normally take for the fibro pain and they would afford me some time where I wasn't curled up in a whimpering blob on the sofa or asleep in the bed on an average of 12 hours out of the 24.

I'm going to make this a two-parter because I'm getting worn out trying to remember what all went on since the end of August.  I can remember 40 years ago great, just don't ask what I had for dinner last night and here I'm trying to recall what went on in my drug induced state for almost two months.  I promise not to make you wait for two days, much less two months but I have to take a break for now...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Back To Blonde...

I have been on a tighter than usual budget because of car repair expenses so when I got my hair cut last week most of the blonde was cut off.  I didn't think much of anything about it until today.  I took Carol to the doctor (in the wheelchair van that has been giving us some problems) and after she was finished with her appointment we decided to splurge and went to McAllister's and split a baked potato with everything but sour cream (I don't do sour cream) and a wonderful chef salad.  Had a nice leisurely lunch/supper then headed back out to the van to come home.  It decided that it didn't want to start.  It has done this several times in the last 3 months but has been running good for the last couple of weeks after our bad gas episode.  Anyway, after giving the old van a half hour to contemplate how bad I was going to cuss it out if she didn't start, I had Carol call her sister to come get her and I called AAA.  I don't know if I've told you all how thankful I am to have AAA but I've been a member since 1969 if that give you a clue.  I've had to have either my little pickup or the van towed four times just in the last two months and there has never been any extra charge.

But I digress, as I often do, even more often as I get older... ahhhumm... back on track now. I sat outside on the patio, in the shade, at McAllister's and waited for the tow truck to show up. About 5:30 the truck pulled up and the driver gets out and asked what was wrong.  Me, "It won't start."  He, "What does it do?". Me, "It turns over and tries to start but then doesn't."  Okay says he, let's give it a try.  I said it will probably start for you... and sure enough it started right up!  He kind of gave me that raised eyebrow look that we all hate to get and I apologized just short of profusely and he patted my arm and said it's okay like you would say to a little old blue-hair that had run over your toe with her wheelchair...

I'm going next week to get my hair bleached back to blonde.  I would rather be thought of as a ditsy blonde than a little old lady that doesn't know how to get her flippin' car started.  The worst thing about getting old is, well, getting old.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Schnauzers in attack mode thinking they have a cat trapped under the stove... they don't. And, yes, that is a hole in the floor but it's not near big enough for a cat... to come in or go out.
SueSue still not convinced that damn cat isn't under the stove... right here, mom... even after I moved the stove so she could see that it was not back there.
I was reading some of the blogs I visit and had just commented when SueSue wants to play she usually starts with bringing me a ball.  If I don't stop and play she will bring something else and drop on my foot... usually the mean kitty that she likes to play tug with and about that time I felt mean kitty being dropped on my foot. Had to take a picture and share.  I didn't move my feet because I was afraid the ball would roll off the pillow.

If that is all that it takes to inspire me to post something I need to be posting more often.  (Laughing at my own self because it takes so little to entertain me sometimes.)

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I'm going to get on my horse about bras.  They flat make me crazy.  My insanity began many, many years ago when I was just a flat chested kid.  Not just an ordinary flat chested young girl but one that was so flat chested it looked like I'd been steam rolled.  I used to fret about it some especially in senior high and girl's locker room and showers but when I looked at my older sister and my mom, I pretty much figured my lot in life, padded bras.  Then someone told me if I could find a bra that wasn't padded that fit my little ones would have room to grow. I was naive, I was gullible and I grabbed at that little ray of hope.

I was 21 years old.  I walked into the lingerie department of one of the nicest department stores in Okla. City and knew I was in trouble when the matronly and proper looking saleslady approached me and said, "May I help you sir?".  True story.  I sucked it up and explained my mission, all the while watching the doubt grow in her eyes.  She gamely took me to a fitting room, took a few (very few) measurements and excused herself to go find brassieres for me to try on. When she returned she brought several styles for me to try on and we began.  They all fit well around my chest but when it came to cups... sigh... all of them you could have rolled up and pinned the extra fabric. After trying the different styles she graciously suggested I might want to try the juniors department, that they might have something for young teens, i.e. training bras.  Which by the way is such a dumb term,  I mean, you have to train those puppies?  Don't they just grow into their own?  You have to smack those babies around and tell them you go to the left and you go to the right... seems kind of silly to have to "train" them.  I walked out of the store and bought tank tops for my underwear.

But, once again, I digress from my original gripe. I went through the first 60 years of my life not needing to worry about a bra but 40 pounds and 2 inches shorter, I was told, "Aunt Helen, you really need to buy a bra."  Ask not for whom the bell tolls... it tolls for me.  My simple life was about to get very complicated and frustrating.

Okay, I'll compromise.  I'll wear a bra when I go to Ft. Worth to church and out to eat and to weddings and such so I don't embarrass anyone with heading south boom-booms that you can almost tell are boom-booms. So I go bra shopping, this time at WalMart.  Forget that high dollar stuff at the nicer stores. I found a couple to try that I could fasten in front of me and then swing them around and put my arms in the straps and pull them up into place.  I found jog bras that looked like they might be comfortable but it was like trying to put on a girdle if you stepped into it and pulled it up into place. I had flashes of someone trying to hang me from the nearest tree when I tried putting it on over my head.  My shoulders and my elbows prevent me from reaching behind and fastening a bra the normal way without pain, one of those aging things. Why can't you find bras that fasten in the front?  I understand that when some fellow invented the brassiere that ladies had dressers and undressers.  I had a few of the undressers in my life and have been an undresser in my life, but no way have I ever had a dresser.  I found two bras that closed in the front... minimum cup size C.  Forget that!  I'm not rolling up the cups and pinning them either.

Since I have a couple of visits and a wedding looming in the future the search shall continue.  I may even have to go to a higher end store that has a legitimate lingerie department... hell, I may even go to a Victoria's Secret