Monthly Archives: January 2006

Everything is an adventure.

At least that’s how I feel today.

Here’s the week so far…Monday I took the day off to try out for Jeopardy. Yes, the TV show. After being a trivia hound for pretty much my entire life, I got a chance to try out. However, I didn’t get past the 50 question quiz that you had to pass to screen test to be on the show. So…all I got for it was a nifty pen with the Jeopardy! logo on it, with a handy tip from the production staff that it also doubles as a training device for the clicker they have on the show (the button you have to press to ring in). Oh. So, you’re saying since I’m not smart enough to be on your show, I get the consolation prize of taking a 10-cent pen home and pretending like I’m trying to buzz in?

I shouldn’t have said that. The production staff was wonderful. We had a lot of fun doing practice questions, and hearing stories about some of the most popular contestants. Please don’t ask me to repeat what they said. Not because of any reasons dealing with confidentiality, but I don’t watch the show regularly, and if it wasn’t for reading news on the internet, I couldn’t tell you the different between Peter Jennings and Ken Jennings (yes, I know…one’s dead, the other isn’t.)

Tuesday and Wednesday were normal workdays. Today, however, was the day I’d been waiting for when it comes to medical testing. I had my chest, abdominal, and pelvis CT scans today. What a barrel of laughs this was. First, don’t drink or eat anything for 4 hours before. Well, except for one thing…one hour before, they requested that I start drinking the two ‘bottles’ of barium they gave me. Don’t know if I can call them ‘bottles’ though…the size and appearance of each of them was more along the lines of a couple of white, plastic, Tall Boy Budweiser cans with screw tops. For those of you that do NOT have the checkered past that I have, that means about 24 ounces each. Don’t get me wrong, this stuff will not make it into my top ten favorite drinks. But I’m sure we’ve all had medicine that has tasted worse.

So, I’ve drank the bottles, filled out all the required forms, ready for testing. I get led back to a ‘dressing room’ where I get to put on not one, but two gowns. Why? Because they’ve finally realized that these gowns cover me about as well as a size 2 dress. But, instead of making better gowns, they opt instead to tell me to wear one gown for my front, and one for my back. If it didn’t sound like their normal speech they give to everyone that wanders in, I’d swear they were telling me that my butt was so fat it takes two of these suckers to cover it up. Good thing I still have a healthy dose of self-esteem.

It’s now time for the scan. The very nice young lady then proceeds to put the IV in for the contrast dye. She also told me she was surprised that I didn’t scream or complain when she put the needle in. She says that the biggest crybabies they get for this tend to be larger (like me), and male. I told her fortunately, I’ve come to regard needles as an everyday experience. However, what happened next, was not. She told me that normal side effects to the dye were feeling warm, a metallic taste in my mouth, and an increased urge to urinate. Well, got the one in the middle, but not the other two. But to compensate, after the injection and the first scan (they had to do several because of my height), my throat started to get itchy, my nose started running, and I couldn’t stop coughing. I was having an allergic reaction to the dye. Nothing serious, I’m fine. But still pretty annoying. She tells me that if I have to do this again, I’ll probably just take some Benadryl beforehand, and they still use the same dye. I just can’t wait for the next one.

Then, I come home and take a nap. And why not? Because the last 4 days I’ve had off, I find myself taking two naps each day. I am so ready for them to find what’s going on and get on with my life. But honestly, my biggest fear right now is that they still can’t find anything with the scans. I do NOT want the label of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome…but I guess whatever is in His plans, I’ll be ok. He does say to be anxious for nothing…guess I need to start putting that into practice.

Wow…I am up way too late, especially if I’m going to work tomorrow. Please keep praying that they find something in the tests that leads to a diagnosis, cure, something. Thanks again, and God Bless You.

Category: Site News

The week ahead

…is going to be an interesting one. Off tomorrow, work Tuesday and Wednesday, CT scans on Thursday (took the whole day off), and work on Friday, if I’m able to.

The past few days have been pretty rough. Friday I went to work, came home and went to bed. Saturday spent a lot of time there too…and took two naps today after going to church and then lunch. I also feel like the low-grade fever I’ve come to know and loathe is making repeat appearances. I just keep hoping that they’re going to find something on Thursday. I don’t even care if it’s bad news…just as long as they find a reason for why I feel exhausted all the time.

Well, I think I’ll forgo writing another novel tonight, and cut it off here. God bless.

Category: Site News

One step forward…

…and what feels like two backwards.

Hi again, sports fans. Bubba here with the latest play by play of the fun known as the American medical system.

Went to my family doctor yesterday. He’s a great doc. At least I think so. I say this because even though he hasn’t come up with a solid name for what I have, he had the honesty early in the game to tell me that he doesn’t know what is wrong with me, and the good sense to send me to every specialist around so they can tell me the same thing.

However, yesterday’s visit was not a highlight. He told me that we’re getting to the point of calling this Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Even though it’s a diagnosis, it’s not exactly the best news around. Not really much of a cure, or even a maintenance program to deal with it…you’re just tired, and deal with it the best you can. A lot of people believe CFS is the bucket you get put into when they can’t find anything else wrong. But doing some quick research on it lends some definition (if not credibility) to the diagnosis. Here’s what the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) says about it:

In general, in order to receive a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome, a patient must satisfy two criteria:

  1. Have severe chronic fatigue of six months or longer duration with other known medical conditions excluded by clinical diagnosis, and
  2. Concurrently have four or more of the following symptoms: substantial impairment in short-term memory or concentration, sore throat, tender lymph nodes, muscle pain, multi-joint pain without swelling or redness, headaches of a new type, pattern or severity, unrefreshing sleep, and post-exertional malaise lasting more than 24 hours.

The symptoms must have persisted or recurred during six or more consecutive months of illness and must not have predated the fatigue.

Fatigue started in July (seven months ago), so I guess I fit number 1. And God knows they’ve tried ruling out everything else. From the other list, memory loss, muscle pain, multi-joint pain, several types of headaches…well, pretty much all of them have been complaints of mine. Including the headache I have now, which feels like someone’s driving a spike into the top of my head. So maybe there’s something to it.

But I might also be jumping the gun. I got a call from my pulmonologist today, saying that the insurance company finally approved the CAT scan of the chest that they had ordered. Shortly after that, I got a call from the radiology place setting up the appointment. When they called, I also had to tell them that my hemoc has been trying to get approval for the same scan, but of my abdomen. Fortunately, they blocked out time for that as well, but I still hadn’t heard from my hemoc on whether they got the same approval.

So I called them, only to find that they hadn’t even requested it yet. Initially, this didn’t make me a very happy camper. But she told me not to worry, that she would call the radiologist, make sure that they put both abdominal and pelvis scans on the order, and get it approved by insurace. I probably sounded like Mr. Whiny Butt when I told her about all the trouble that the insurance had been in the past…didn’t faze her a bit. She just said don’t worry, by the time I go to the appointment, insurance will have put their stamp of approval on it. I hope so. At least they called me back to say they’ve confirmed with the radiologist that it’ll all be done at the same time.

Speaking of which, the appointment is next Thursday afternoon. Another co-pay, and more time off work. Oh goody! Not to mention that I have to fast for four hours before it. Well, that’s not totally accurate. One hour before the scan I get to have a nice, thick, barium shake. I can hardly wait.

Unfortunately, I did all of this phone work from home today. I never quite made it to work. I knew I was too tired, but still showered and started driving. I got about 3 miles from home when I realized that not only was going to work a bad idea…but I was so tired, driving probably wasn’t the smartest move either. Went home, went back to bed, and stayed there for much of the day. I’ve only been up since about 4 pm…and looky here! It’s already time for bed. I’m hoping to make it to work tomorrow…I already have a three-day weekend coming up anyhoo. Take care, and God bless you.

Category: Site News

Progress.

I’m not kidding.

Well, it’s more progress than I’ve had lately.

I got a call from the pulmonologist today. After calling the insurance company (AGAIN), they found that the reason they were not approving the CT scans was because they didn’t know I had done chest x-rays.

I have.

Two of them.

So, now that they found out I have had two x-rays done, they say that they’ll call my doctor tomorrow to let them know if it’s been approved. Not sure how much I like the word if in that sentence, but the insurance rep also said it shouldn’t be a problem. No wonder I feel so wildly optimistic today.

I also started the day out right. Actually got out of the shower early enough to stop at Starbucks before work. And apparently I needed it. Because when I got there, the cashier (who happens to be one of the lovely ladies from my singles’ group at church) greets me by saying “you look like ____!” But don’t blame her…she said it in all Christian love…and probably because my eyes were only open enough at that hour to prevent a police officer from declaring me legally blind. Or stoned. One of the two, anyway.

Well, I’m off. You kids behave…and keep your stick on the ice, eh?

Category: Site News

Who knows.

Bubba sez howdy…hope your weekend is going OK.

I don’t know why…but the past couple of days haven’t been good. Yesterday just about kicked my butt. Barely made it through work, had to run a couple of errands after…and was in bed by 8:00. Woke up in time to make it to men’s Bible study this morning, thank God. Came home, did some dishes…and back in bed for the first nap in about a month.

I’ve been trying not to take naps in the middle of the day, because I find that I’ve been having a lot of problems going to sleep at night. But that didn’t seem to stop me from taking two of them today. I also have been trying to determine whether I went back to work too early, or if I’m just depressed because the doctors are telling me that I’m still sick. I keep going back to that verse in 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV) that I referred to in an earlier post stating that God has given me a sound mind because I’m one of His children. If I believe I have a sound mind, I must be as sick as before. The feeling I have, however, is that I’m just going to push myself until I know I can’t do anymore. In other words, I’m going to just keep going until He says stop.

It also seems like this is bad news weekend. Yesterday my ex-wife called to say that she was putting her cat Junior to sleep because she was too sick. The vet told her that they could run tests and find out why she was not eating and going potty places she normally wouldn’t, but they would run about $1,200. She was nice enough, I guess, to ask for my advice, asking if we were still married and we had the money, would we spend it. I told her I don’t believe it’s a money issue, it’s the issue of how long the cat would suffer while they tried to figure out what’s wrong with her (yes, Junior was a female.) It was also tough on me to hear this, because she was my cat too for seven years. Junior was a really affectionate cat, would come when you called, and comforted me when I was going through the divorce, always sticking by my side until my ex took her to live with her. Junior had several health problems throughout her life…but she’s in a better place now. RIP Junior.

I’m now going to a going-away party for one of the guys in my singles group at church. Robert is a great guy, someone that you could count on if you needed help, and always a genuinely caring person. He’ll be sorely missed at our church.

Well, time to get going. Be good, kids.

Category: Site News

Unanticipated fun

Hi kids. Uncle Bubba here, thinking he was going to be done with all of this medical stuff.

Nope.

Feeling improved enough to go back to work, I thought that I would just do the follow ups at the doctors, and be done with all of this. Not according to the hemoc. Reviewed my blood tests from the day before I went back to work. White blood cell count is still going up. Hemoglobin levels back to normal, but they’re still on the very low side of normal, which has the doc worried. So now, in addition to the chest CT scan being ordered by my pulmonologist, I have an abdominal one being ordered by the hemoc.

I was also a bit tired yesterday, probably because I had a hard time sleeping the night before. I had to work early because of the dr. appointment, and I didn’t get to sleep until after 10. Not good when you have to wake up at 4. I’m just waking up now, so I don’t know how tired I am going to feel today. I try to keep an optimistic outlook on all of this….yes, God is going to allow me to be healed, yes I’m going to have the energy to continue to work. I’m trying to be optimistic, but it’s getting much harder to keep putting on the happy face. I think I’m going to ask the doc to put me back on the antidepressant, see if maybe that will give me a better outlook.

But which one to be on is going to present a problem. I’m now finding out about my prescription drug coverage through work…and I have to say, folks, it’s depressing. When my work put out the details on the benefit, I thought, ok, not great, but as long as I have generics I should be fine. Like my momma said, though, that’s where thinkin gotcha. Because I go to the pharmacy last night, only to find that they still have not gotten any approval for the stomach meds prescribed, and then I got my blood pressure med refilled…a generic that I’ve been taking for a while. When I read what my work put out, I thought it said generics $20 copay. That represents a 100% increase, but oh well, you gotta do what you gotta do. However, you can imagine my surprise when they bring the med out and it says $60!!!! Oh, but don’t worry. After going to the insurance company’s website, I find that if I had bought the drug myself, it was only about $25 more. Wait a minute! Who’s the one with the copay here, them or me? Then, I look at their formulary, and I’ve seen longer drug lists on the promotional items handed out by the drug salesmen. There’s no more than 2 or 3 drugs for each condition, and most of them with 1. Because we all know everyone responds to the same drug. Gimme a break! Since I have to get going for work, I’ll just sum this up by saying Caremark sucks!

Well, enough fun for one morning. Oh, my tuberculosis test came back negative/I don’t have it. Guess I should be thankful for the silver lining, but my goodness, sometimes you need a microscope to see it. God bless you.

Category: Site News

Bad Bubba. BAD Bubba.

Yeah, I know. I haven’t updated. To both of you that have been reading, I apologize. =)

I continue to do better, with the exception of this nasty cough that keeps nagging me. Oh, and I found that one of the inhalers that was prescribed by my pulmonologist was the culprit in my nausea. Fortunately, I had an appointment with him yesterday, so I told him about both. I also found that the CT scan that was supposed to be requested 3 weeks ago was requested two days ago, and still had not been approved. Grrrreat. So, it’s more waiting for the scan, another inhaler, and he also prescribed an acid reflux remedy, because my cough has been going on for so long. I told him that I’ve had acid reflux for 15 years, and that this cough isn’t heartburn, but he prescribed it anyway. Only to get to the pharmacy and find out that the drug he prescribed isn’t covered by my insurance. Brilliant.

He also did a tuberculosis test as well…and after all this time, if that thing comes back positive and I haven’t been tested all this time…well, I don’t know what I’ll do, but happiness won’t be the primary emotion, folks. And if you haven’t had one of these tests, kids, you haven’t lived. They inject this stuff just below your skin, circle it with a ballpoint pen so you know where it is, and you wait two days for a doctor or nurse to read it. SOOOO, when I go to the hemoc on Wednesday, I’ll have them read it and fax the results to my pulmonologist. Doesn’t that work nicely? But in the meantime, I have a little red spot on my arm, circled by black pen. Therefore, I’m wearing a long-sleeved shirt…to avoid the 300 questions I’ll get at work why my arm has a bullseye on it.

On the positive side, I have been feeling generally better these days. Went to California over the weekend to drop off Pat, and flew back without incident Sunday night. Flying isn’t too bad if you can carry everything with you, and for a weekend I was definitely not carrying anything that needed to be checked.

Right now, though, I’m starting to get tired again. Hopefully this is temporary…talk to you later.

Category: Site News

Happy New Year from Bubba!

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Hi kids! Uncle Bubba here to wish you a Happy 2006…it just has to be better than the previous two… =) I got to spend it with friends playing Starcraft and Half-Life. Starcraft we played a couple of times against the computer, won one, lost one. But the real fun when we played Half-Life, a game where you attempt to kill the other players, including the computer’s characters. Even though it was my first time playing, I got my fair share of kills in. I didn’t realize how addictive it was until I started killing the other players. And no, I’m not one of those blood-thirsty people that needs to be destructive…but a smile definitely came to my face when, from the other room, one of the players that I kept killing off yelled “d-mn you, bubba!!!” But it’s all good, clean fun, resulting in hugs and handshakes after all the carnage was done.

Healthwise, I’m continuing to improve, with a couple of minor setbacks. Last week, when I went back to work, I noticed that I was continually nauseous, with other stomach problems. For now, I’ve cut way back on both the vitamins and inhalers, and that seems to work. I’m going to start adding them back slowly to see what’s causing me to be ill. But other than that, my energy level is increasing every day. I even did quite a bit of house-cleaning on Sunday, including going to Wally World to get new drip pans for the stove.

I also have three doctor’s appointments and a CAT scan to complete. I figure either the burst of energy I have now is temporary, and they’ll find something fast, or I’ll just continue to get better, and this will be a distant memory.

Over the weekend I will be taking Pat to California, driving out on Saturday, and flying back Sunday night. I’m hoping to reach my friend Jay so I can spend time with him and his family, but haven’t had any luck reaching him yet. Even if I don’t, I’ll still have fun with Pat, and I’m SURE it will include a stop at Tito’s Tacos, just like the last time.

I have to get back to work, but I wanted to thank everyone for their prayers and gifts to me, especially over this holiday season. I can’t tell you what it’s meant to me…I feel overwhelmingly blessed. God Bless!

Category: Site News