Jan 03


Thursday morning, 1-3-02, a week since my last update, and a whole new year has started. After the roller coaster of events in my life in 2001, I’m looking forward to this fresh start. It’s GOT to be better than it was last year.

Let’s see… to recap last year’s weirdness:

  • The year started off in a crappy little apartment in Maryland, right between Baltimore and Washington DC. The rent was too high, the neighbors too loud and the setting too urban for my taste.
  • My stepson got busted for making profane graffiti on the apartment complex playground. The complex called the cops and filed a complaint. The cop wrote us a ticket.
  • Then I lost my job and had to cash in my 401-k to stay afloat. Say goodbye to my retirement fund. I figured I’d start it again later, at a new job.
  • Soon after, my 3rd wife and I split up. Let’s just say things didn’t work out. I felt sorry for my 2 step-children, John and Shelby.
  • I got another job. It was located in Tennessee, so I had to pack up all my stuff and move. Of course, with me and Michelle splitting up, I was doing that anyway.
  • I rented a truck. Michelle lost the keys to it just before I was ready to leave. We had to get a locksmith to open it for me so I could leave.
  • On the way out of the parking lot, I ran over someone’s car with this big truck. Luckily, I had full insurance on the truck. I left a note for them on the windshield with all the information, and was on my way.
  • The new job was a wreck. The customer was unhappy, the workers were unhappy and upper management was unhappy. I had the task of trying to get everyone happy again. It looked pretty dismal, but I was determined to give it my best shot.
  • Soon after I started my new job, my dad died. It was totally unexpected and shocked everyone. I cried a lot at the funeral.
  • Then I got sick. Sicker than I’d ever been before.
  • At one point, during a visit to the clinic, I (and the doctors) thought I was having a heart attack, and I got my first ride in an ambulance.
  • At the hospital, they tried to kill me on a treadmill, testing my heart. My heart was fine, but I was beat. A doctor insulted me.
  • I got even sicker. I ended up in the hospital and got worse and worse, to the point I thought I would not leave the hospital alive.
  • I got cat scans, X-rays, ultrasounds, dozens of blood draws, a blood transfusion, and a hole drilled in my pelvis.
  • The doctors finally figured out what was wrong with me (the good news), and informed me that I have cancer (the bad news).
  • I swelled up like a character in a cartoon, putting on about 60 pounds of fluid. I looked like a man made of balloons. My shoes and clothes no longer fit me.
  • My sisters speeded to Knoxville and moved me back to my dad’s house in the Detroit area to begin my recovery with the help of my family.
  • I got a letter from the company that said I’d been terminated from my new job, but was welcome back whenever I get better, assuming I do.
  • I ended up in the hospital again.
  • They didn’t take my insurance.
  • I transferred to another hospital that takes my insurance.
  • They drained 7 liters of fluid out of my belly with a hose stuck in it that went over the side of the bed to a bottle they kept emptying.
  • I spent a week there, recuperating, and then went home, barely able to walk.
  • I went through 4 Rituxan treatments, sitting in a chair for 4 or 5 hours at a time, letting an IV drip fluids into me. The first one made me sweat, gag and pass out.
  • I now take 3 or 4 different drugs every day that keep me stable and get more of the swelling down, a little at a time.
  • I went through physical therapy to get me walking almost normally again.
  • I started to get some serious pain in my toes that hurt like hell. I ended up in the emergency room at the hospital with a guy that drives a cab who’d been bit and robbed by some reprobate. It turned out that the pain was caused by something wrong with my nerves, rather than an actual infection (what I thought it was, ’cause that’s what it feels like) or injury. I got more drugs to relieve the pain.
  • My insurance got cancelled. The drug store now charges me full price for the drugs I have to have, and the doctor’s office called with their concerns over my not having insurance anymore.
  • I sent a payment of over $1400.00 to straighten it out. I sent it by registered mail and got a receipt that they received it.
  • They say they never received it. I can prove they got the envelope, but not the check that was in it.
  • I then found out I could pay it online (why didn’t they tell me that in the first place?!!) so that’s what I did, but more than a week later it still hasn’t come out of my bank account, and my insurance is still cancelled.
  • Medical bills are now coming in for thou$and$ of dollar$.

That’s pretty much it for the banner year 2001. 2002 will definitely be much better.

And don’t think I’m feeling down or sorry for myself. They haven’t broken me yet. After all, I’ve still got everything I really need; Roof over my head, all the food I can eat, family that loves me and helps with everything I could possibly want or need, lots of time and love from my daughter, an income from my disability insurance (which is NOT the same company that’s messing up my medical insurance, thank goodness!!). I feel pretty good overall, and anything is better than feeling like I did a few months ago when I felt like I was going to die. So I’m doing really well, and things are looking up as far as I’m concerned.

The numbness in my thumb and forefinger is all but gone. I barely notice it anymore. And the pain in my toes is pretty much totally controlled by the Neurontin, although Casey and I went shopping the other day and we were gone for quite a few hours and I forgot to take any extra pills with me. While we were walking around the mall, the pain in my toes started up again and by the time we got home to where my meds are I was in so much pain I couldn’t even think straight. But other than that, it’s been no problem at all.

I got a new pain to replace it though. This one started yesterday in my left leg. I can feel it on the inside of my thigh from just below my groin to just above the knee. It feels like I pulled a muscle or something, though I don’t know how I’d do that unless I over exerted myself on our little shopping trip the other day. It hurts when I stand or walk on it, so I’m just kind of sitting or laying down mostly, taking an Ibuprofen now and then, and hoping it goes away within a few days. If not, I guess I’ll have to see the doctor about it and hope he has a solution. With any luck, I’ll have insurance again by then!

Speaking of the insurance, (again?!!) Candy is about fit to be tied over the whole shamozzle ( I learned that word from my Australian pen pal, Julie ). She’s been on the phone with them over and over and won’t stop till they get it together. She even wrote my congressman about the whole ordeal, suggesting that someone investigate the company that’s supposed to be managing it all.

Get this – in the course of it all, she found out that they found OTHER people’s checks behind desks and stuff while looking for mine! So I’m not alone in my bizarre dealings with them. Is that any way to run a business? Especially one that people depend on for their very lives and medical care? A mistake is one thing. But this smells like ineptitude at its pinnacle!

Well, as I was writing all this, I got a call from them and an email from Candy saying that my online payment has gone through and I’m insured again. At least for now. I have to make another payment to them within the next few weeks to keep it going. With any luck, it won’t get lost again in the shuffle.

I’m still napping a lot, and it’ll probably continue this way as long as I’m on these drugs. I tend to get up pretty early most mornings, take a nap or two during the day, and then I’m down for the night by about 10:PM. Then I’m up again at 4 or 5 AM, putting on the coffee and checking emails and forums I visit. It’s a nice, quiet time of the day for me that I really enjoy. It’s almost a become a routine for me, which is nice because for a while there my sleep patterns were just totally unpredictable and all over the place.

My chemotherapy starts in a few days, on Tuesday, January 8th. Mom made it back a few days ago from the blizzard she was stuck in, so it looks like it’ll be a go this time. Most of the other drugs they’ve introduced to my body have made me sick the first time I got them, like the Rituxan and the Neurontin. We’ll see if it’s the same with the C.O.P. treatment. I’m sure to have an update to my journal shortly after to let you all know how it went.

Meanwhile, I’m feeling really good and keeping my sense of humor up. Irreverent shmuck that I am, I’ve been trying to find some good cancer jokes to cheer me up. Alas, it seems the subject matter is too heavy for most people, so I haven’t seen many (any?) really funny ones yet.

Since the comic rule is that it’s ok to poke fun at your own group, I’ve decided to start making some up myself. Here’s the first:

Q. How many cancer patients does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Just one, but he needs a support group to cheer him on, and there’s a lot of grieving afterwards!

C’mon! I thought it was pretty funny! Hey, if you think you can do better or you find any cancer jokes you think are funny, email them to me. If I get enough of them, maybe I’ll dedicate a whole page to them. Remember, laughter is the best medicine. Besides, when you can laugh at the monster that’s threatening you, he might think twice about actually attacking! Hmmm… You know, with that reasoning, maybe I should start a joke page about inept insurance companies and their employees!

On that note, I leave you all with well wishes that your new year is filled with laughter, good health and much happiness, just like mine!