Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I Just E-mailed a SSDI Lawyer

A local person. I saw her speak about the program a couple years ago, and she seemed very knowledgeable, frank, and friendly.

Social Security Disability Insurance is, I understand, very difficult to qualify for. I never in my life thought I would be asking someone else to help take care of me. But I need the help now.

I so hope there is a time I can come back to working and living my life again. I wish for that magic pill everyday.

I hope this lawyer can help.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It's been really busy

Sorry I haven't written for awhile. It's been really busy trying to plan for the Longwood Gardens trip.

I talked about the house cleaning ladies. They will be back in early Thursday morning to "touch things up."

Tomorrow I have to go grocery, liquor store, and Target shopping. UGH. That will be a 3-4 hour adventure.

Jim continues to do fabulous. For some reason I seem to be getting worse. I think I explained the increase in my foot neuropathy after the gardening adventure. Now my fingers are going more too. I can hardly point the mouse, and my typos are getting way out of hand. That makes it very difficult for a writer. My handwriting is horrendous now. I have made an appt. with my medical onc for a couple weeks from now to see whether there is anything we can do about it.

Last night I fell. About 1AM, heading to the bathroom, but my feet weren't cooperating, and I banged my head into the door frame. That bouced me back against my dresser, bruising my right hip, then that put me on the ground brusing my left hip. I was just sitting there trying to get my bearings when Jim came racing up the steps. This all happened right over his head in the dungeon, and he heard all the commotion. He was indeed very concerned, and said he sat up until 3 listening for me.

I'm OK, just limping a little from the bruises, but it confirms for me that the neuropathy is getting worse and something needs to be done. I'm getting ready to ask the ubernice neighbor Curt to put a grab bar into my shower, because I often stumble as I turn around. I probably also should get a raised seat on the toilet in my bathroom, because I can't always "rise" from the seated position without grabbing onto the window sill.

Surprisingly, yesterday I discovered a scrip for an adbominal CT scan that I was to have today. Somehow, it didn't make it into my calendar. This is that small spot on my liver that the GI DR is monitoring. Chemo veins make it very difficult to get an IV line in (this was a CT scan with contrast, thus requiring IV dye). And my BP before the procedure was 167/68. Kind of high, but I told the technician it was likely because I hadn't taken my morning pills. Nothing NPO for 4 hours before the procedure, except that yucky barium drink.

My depression just seems to be building. I can't figure that out, except perhaps the neuropathy and the pain in my chest, which constantly remind me what I've been through, and that I "flunked cancer."

I did get a call today from the Tax Partner at the CPA firm that I have in the past consulted for. (Thank you Pam.) He is going to help me, pro bono bless their hearts, figure out when and how I can early access my various retirement funds without IRS penalty or extremely increased tax liabilties.

He also suggested I speak to a lawyer about social security disability insurance (SSDI). I know that is a very hard road to travel, but I did go to a program about it a couple years ago, so I know a local law firm that specializes in it. And they don't charge up front or by the hour. They take a cut of the ultimate settlement. I just don't recall whether SSDI is means (income or asset) tested. If it is, I would flunk based on my retirement assets.

So that's it for today. Going to be one very busy woman tomorrow prepping for the Gardens trip!!

Take care all!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Kris made a Pi for Ennis

And Janie is trying it out.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

38 Hours of House Cleaning

I certainly hope you Garden ladies are worth it. :)

I have had two women in here for 2 days, vacuuming, dusting, washing walls and ceilings, windows, baseboards and other woodwork, and floors. I thought they would NEVER leave. Of course, my office, which is a mess, was off limits.

But they now say that because the "core" is clean, they can come in every other week and do a quick tidy up. There's also less pet hair now with only 2 cats.

I am exhausted, and I didn't even do any of the work.

Actually, I needed a spring cleaning. I haven't done it myself since I moved into the house over 3 years ago.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Commenting on this BLOG apparently has changed their log-in process, both for editing a blog and for commenting on one.

You now have to have a Google account, and use your Google id (which is your email) and a password you create for that account. You sign up for a google account here.

You will be adding a profile to that account, and whatever you put into your profile as your first name is what shows up as you name when you comment on my blog.

You also should be able to comment anonomously without a google account.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Three very tired and sore women

Laura and Annie came in from central PA yesterday to help weed the gardens before the Longwood Garrdens crew comes in 2 weeks. We worked for about 6 hours, with a half-hour lunch break.

This morning I can barely bend over, my butt hurts, and doing the steps is a chore. I suspect Laura and Annie feel the same way because none of us had been gardening yet this spring, and 6 hours is a very long time for bending over. My additional problem is the neuropathy in my feet. I hadn't stood for that long, and now the balls of my feet are back to dead. Hopefully temporary, but I was certainly walking gingerly so as not to stumble.

We even got the herb bed cleaned out. Except for thyme, chives, and sage, I could not remember what was what (I didn't garden in that bed all last year) or what was periennial. So if it was unknown, it went. That bed also holds strawberries, lillies, and asiatic lillies that seem to be doing well. Could not find the California Poppy. Must not have survived. The broom bush I put in there last year is doing gloriously!!

Hostas coming up everywhere. Got the hydrangia, Ms. Kim Lilac, spirea, and red twig dogwood shrubs all trimmed up. Didn't get to the boxwood, and they are putting on growth like crazy. Last year's clematic came down. The astilbe and bleeding hearts are coming along, and the mums are coming up through the daffodils. The forsythia are blooming.

It was a beautiful day for it. Blue skies, fairly warm, and the earth in the gardens was moist but not soggy.

Thank you Laura and Annie for all your help.

We did not get to the garage.

Annie brought along dinner. A stuffed turkey breast, potatoes to bake (white and sweet), whole cranberry sauce, and 3 bunches of asparagus. We passed on the hollandaise sauce because of the sodium. And there were brownies, and salted (not for Jim) nuts, and oranges.

The stuffed turkey breasts are made by a specialty butcher in a farmer's market near where Annie lives. She ordered one with bread stuffing with cranberries. What we found when I sliced it open was sausage and red peppers. UGH. We all ate around the stuffing. Annie's going to talk to the folks at the market about the screwup; I hope she can get her money back.

So today is tax work day. There is no way I will be able to get them done, but I need to get enough done to file extensions.

Tomorrow, I have a counseling session and Janet and Kathy are coming in to do spring cleaning. They think it might take 2 days. I am starting to wash all the throw rugs today. That will likely be about 5 loads.

So off to the taxes. UGH!!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Max's Video

This is my 3rd attempt to write this.

So now I'm going to be very brief.

Kris, thank you so much for my most precious possession.

The video could offend some because it shows pictures of my mastectomy scars at the end. Once that starts, you can turn if off or close your eyes and listen to the rest of the music.

Thanks again Kris.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

According to Dawn, the animal communicator

Ennis says life couldn’t be better. He doesn’t really think much about Max not being around.

As for his health, he doesn’t like to go to the vet. He feels bloated all over and the pads of his feet hurt. He has discomfort in his kidney area, but does not feel anything wrong near his stomach. (2 weeks ago the vet said he felt a small mass near his stomach which might just be scar tissue; nothing was revealed on X-Ray. Also the vet said the kidneys felt fine, they also showed no problem on X-Ray, and his blood kidney values came back fine.)

His occasional urinary incontinence (which has been going on for years) is health–related, he says. His bladder usually is very full when he needs to go, and sometimes it is hard to lift his legs into the litter box with a very full bladder. I had he suggest to him that he use the box more often, and he agreed that was an idea, but sometimes when he is sleeping, he wakes up with a very full bladder. (I think this is bullshit by the way; he’s been doing this for over ten years; it a territorial/attitude thing, I think.)

He used to pee on the concrete floor next to the litter boxes in the basement. Last summer he moved it onto the rugs in the Florida room. He said that when he would pee on the concrete his feet would get wet. They don’t on the carpet. And he likes having his smell in that room. I asked Dawn to tell him that I don’t like the smell and to try to stop doing that. Dawn also suggested I get him a litter box with lower sides.

Ennis said when he gets hungry, it hits him really fast. That’s why he gets up in my face on the desk or wakes me 2-3 times a night. He is finicky sometimes because he just doesn’t have an appetite, even though he is hungry. He doesn’t mind having the same food everyday, and doesn’t need variety. I asked Dawn to ask him why he begs for food when there already is food down on a plate. He said he likes the company. I asked her to ask him to minimize that during the night while I am trying to sleep. He said he would try.

Dawn said Lily (my semi-feral) is so cute, has so much energy for a cat her age, and is innocent. (She hit that one on the head.) I asked how Lily was feeling with the early chronic renal failure. Lily said she didn’t know she was sick. I asked whether Lily would please be able to eat the wet food I bought for her CRF. She said she was willing to eat the wet food, but still wants some dry left out. Dawn suggested I remove the dry.

Because I will have to pill Lily for blood pressure, I asked whether she would consider eating a pill pocket every day. Lily agreed with me that she doesn’t like treats. Dawn suggested that I train her to eat the kibble out of my fingers, transition it to a pill pocket with the kibble inside, and then to a pill pocket with the meds. Lily agreed with me that she does not want to be manually pilled.

I asked how Ennis and Lily felt about having Jim here all the time now. They said they felt better having him here. Ennis says he feels he should spend more time to visit with Jim in the dungeon. He’s lazy though, and into his upstairs routine, so I would have to take him down.

Ennis and Lily don’t really like each other; their personalities are too different. But they get along OK. Lily, who spends much of her day hiding, gets lonely. Ennis likes the people in the house more than he likes Lily.

Dawn said Maxwell was a sweet cat who thinks he had a great life. He felt much loved.

He is happy and peaceful and not dwelling on death. He was only thinking of it now because I asked.

He wasn’t in pain with his cancer, but he felt ill (like having the flu) and wanted to be quiet. He was glad I put him down, although he said he was ready to go about a week before we did it.

I asked her to tell him I think of him everyday and loved him very much.

Bailey, my full feral that I lost last summer, said he lived here voluntarily. He didn’t want to escape back into the wild; he wanted to be here in a comfortable home. He didn’t feel captive and adapted to the lifestyle. He loved both Jim and me, as well as the cats, but he just didn’t know how to make attachments.

He doesn’t remember being sick (and he was very sick for 6 weeks before PTS). He only remembers being healthy and comfortable and felt he had a great life as a whole.

Well, yesterday totally sucked!

It was tough because I got a computer geek in here to do some upgrades and reconfigure my Microsoft Outlook for the new broadband ISP. It's kind of complicated because I want to continue to use my old ISP's email address. He ended up crashing my Windows XP (operating system), and had to do a reinstallation. He was here 6 hours and charged me $200, $50 of which was for an additional memory chip.

I was so tense through the whole thing, thinking I would lose all information since I backed up 2 days ago. I couldn't keep ANYTHING on my stomache, and I'm still vomiting and drinking ginger ale. But he did manage to save all my files, as far as I can tell.

I am going to have to clean up some mess he left behind. For example, he didn't load Service Pack 2 because he was running so late. It was his attempt to load the pack that crashed the system. I am terrified to try to install it. He also did not reregister the operating system, so I only have 30 days with it until I can figure out how to do that. He says I will get a prompt in a day or two that will lead me through it. Microsoft does not provide support if the product was loaded onto the computer when I bought it, which it was. They tell me I have to go to Dell for that support, and I'm sure Dell will charge me for that support. Ugh.

The computer geek is a nice guy, and during the 6 hours we did alot of personal chatting. He brought his 6 YO son along; a truly delightful and quiet child. He sat down in the dungeon with Jim watching the cartoon channel or reading a book. Jim did go out for a couple of hours and the child was just fine on his own. I felt so bad he was missing lunch, so I made him a peanut butter sandwich. Turns out he's a picky eater, doesn't like jelly and wouldn't eat the orange I gave him. And he ripped all the crust off the bread.

And during this whole mess, my only client (I write for them) called and insisted on knowing when I was going to get a certain product to them. We finally agreed that I would be relieved of 2 of the products that were to be finished this spring, but which I haven't even started. So now I have no work with them, except for a new book that I was writing back when I was diagnosed. He said that I could have all my products back as soon as I am feeling better. Typing is difficult because my fingertips are still numb from the chemo. I am thinking about having my doctor certify that I am disabled so that I can get to my IRA money without penalty. My saving are getting close to depleted. I see her next week. With my depression, she has me back on a monthly schedule.

I don't think depressed people should be allowed to self-medicate. I continue to forget my pills. I've been 2 days without them. I did take them tonight, but I'm not sure how many stayed down. I think someone should show up at my door twice a day, hand them to me, and watch me take them.

So that was my day. And now I can't sleep. The day and all the cleanup I have to do keeps running through my head. But I need to because my appt with the animal commuicator is in the morning. And I have to prepare my list of questions for her.

So off to that chore.

Wish me luck on having a better day today.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Max's video

I am still trying to "discover" how to put Max's video on the Internet. But for the time being, here are my two favorite images from it.

In this one, he is covered with catnip. But the sad thing is, because of his cancer, his eyes looked so "dead."

I like this one because I can't see his dead eyes, and he often was looking out the window like this. Looking to see what was going on in "his yard."

Thursday, April 05, 2007

We got massages!!/Longwood Gardens

From a massage therapist who works for Hospice 2 days/week. Wasn't really all that good. She was a really sweet woman though, who had to most beautiful eyes.

Here is what I wrote to Robin about the session. You should have seen Ennis while I was getting my massage. He wouldn't move from my side and either was glaring at her, like "Don't hurt my Mom," or staring at me, like "Are you OK?" That's the first time he's been down to the dungeon (except to use the litter box) in weeks. The massage therapist was impressed by the bond Ennis and I seemed to have. She commented on the long gazing looks we gave each other. She didn't realize, and I didn't say, that it was food love. After she left I smooshed some bonito flakes on his FF, he chowed down, and now, he's back sacked out on the bed. During the whole time Ennis was down there, I felt like saying "Jim, will you please feed the cat?"

As for Longwood Gardens, I am having about 30 of my Internet pals from the FDMB in the weekend of April 28 to have a get-together at Longwood Gardens. Most of these folks are ones that have supported me so strongly through this entire Max diabetes/my hellish cancer treatment/losing my cat Bailey/Ennis diabetes/Jim getting alcoholic end-stage liver disease/my hellish "final" surgery time/my losing my best boy Maxwell time. (Wow, just writing that put me into tears.) It's been a really crappy almost two years that these people have held me up and helped me to go on.

Yes, there have been so many others who have helped--my brothers Les and Dave, my sister-in-law Donna, Annie, Betty, my neighbors, Jim's neighbors, and other local folks.

But the FDMB is a very special place for me. I am not sure I will ever be able to put it behind me once I lose my final (hopefully) diabetic cat. Just a couple days ago I got a bouquet of yellow tulips and purple irises (and a box of very good chocolates) from Teresa and Olivia (GA). She said: I thought you just needed a big time hug. I did, and that lifted my spirits for the rest of the day.

So, anyway, back to the Gardens trip. (I do divert from time to time, don't I? I think it's the whole hot flash/not eating thing. Yep, again today nothing to eat.)

We have people coming in from Maine, Tennessee, California (3 of them), Florida, up-state NY, CT, MA, and also people a little more local like from NYC, NJ, MD, a bunch from western PA. All except one who is coming are women. Thank you Glen, for coming with Robin and having a "romantic" weekend. You two deserve it!!

Still no one from the Pacific NW. Come on Emmy!!

I have co-conspiritors in all of this. Once the group started getting too big for my house and Jim's condo, Alice helped with finding a local motel where I could block rooms. Julie is making "personal cards" for those who care to have them to give out. Cat (SunCat) is making name badges with pictures of the person's diabetic cat(s).

Next weekend, Annie and maybe Laura will be coming from central PA to help me clean my garage and gardens. I never got all the "dead" stuff out last fall, and now the weather has been so warm that the weeds already are springing up. (Springing, never really thought about that word before.)

Two women are coming in on Thursday, I will have to make Philly airport runs, and they will be put to work on cooking and cleaning. Most everyone else is coming on Friday, so I will have a single entree buffet, with salad and bread that night, but one "pot" vegie and one "pot" not.

On Saturday, we will go to the Gardens, hopefully at opening time because there are a few people who need scooters or wheelchairs, and this will be a busy time of the year and there are limited scooters/wheelchairs available. Some folks will show up later in the day.

We will have a cafe lunch at the Gardens. Saturday night, I again will have a dual one entree buffet, with salad and bread, at my house.

Sunday morning, we are thinking about a breakfast buffet (but maybe not) because there will be airport runs to make to get folks out. I can do a buffet if I can find someone local for those airport runs, which I might be able to do.

These are only a few of the details on what is going to be a very busy and huggy weekend. I am still startled that this thing has grown so huge and that I will be meeting some of my closest FDMB friends.

(About to go into tears again.)

I am so looking forward to meeting and hugging you all.

Love to you all. Venita

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Jim Graduates from Hospice/Got Broadband Internet!!

Tuesday will be his last day. (Edited: Actually, now we found out it is Monday, which is in effect Friday because his aide takes her birthday holiday off on Monday.)(Edited again: The RN was wrong; Tuesday is the final day.)

This is a good thing, that he is well enough now that the Hospice can let him go. Of course, I believe he will miss his daily aide; I know I will. Weekdays, she would help him with personal care, make him breakfast and clean the breakfast dishes, cut up or clean fruit or vegetables that I bought, make his bed, empty his bedside commode, vacuum the room. She has been a gem and we need to get her a going away present.

Jim can do most of those things for himself, except washing his back and putting lotion on it, and making his bed so that looks as if it really is "made." That's where I am going to come into play again.

I hope they give him a "diploma." Not too many people "graduate" from Hospice.

Got Comcast Cable Internet and phone today. Wowza. Why didn't I do this before? Free (in the package price) long distance. No longer complaints from Jim that I have to get off the Internet for him to make phone calls.

Let me tell you, ATT phone, which has been getting $80-90 from me a month for long distance was pissed. (Too many calls to my FDMB and other friends.) Kept trying to explain to me what a mistake I had made. I think not.

Then my ATT internet service. I was able to downgrade service so that I only get email and my web page (for the cats) from them. That guy wasn't pissy about it at all.

But I had to keep asking both of these people to talk slower so I could understand what they were saying. Offshore outsourcing.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


It's an interesting emotion and can completely change who we are.

I hadn't really though about grief much until the owner of the FDMB asked me to moderate the forum we have there for persons going through the grief process for a lost pet. Moderation means I have to read every message and response.

Yes, I went through a very pronounced period of grief when I lost Max, but I soon became resolved to the fact that his cancer was not my fault, there was nothing I could have done to fix it, I helped him to pass peacefully, and I started remembering the fun things about my best boy.

I believe I also am through the grief of my failed implant surgery. My right side was doomed to failure from the get-go. Anything that could go wrong did go wrong. I really only think about it now when I have pain.

But I still am in a grieving mode, and going to the counselor yesterday helped me to begin to get some understanding of where it is coming from. It's Jim (please don't tell him I said this). When we married, we agreed that we would never live together, but here we are living together. And now that he is feeling better, it's like he keeps an eagle eye on everything I do. He expects me to cook a hot meal every evening; I never did that when I lived alone. There are so many other things, so many expectations he has of me that are just draining my energy and spirit away.

I love him desparately; you all know that. But I cannot live with another person, whomever it is. I am independent and I want my solitude back.

Just don't know how this is going to play out.

On a completely different note, I have an appointment with an animal communicator by phone this weekend. I am concerned about this "mass" near Ennis's stomache and want to know whether that, his diabetes, plain old age, or the loss of Maxie is what is making him so lethargic.

I want to know what Bailey and Max thought of their "hospice" time here and the way they passed.

I want to know whether there are any thoughts in Lily's head whatsoever.

After all the bucks I've spent on vets in the last month and a half, it seems to me that $58 for 45 minutes with an animal communicator isn't necessarily money badly spent.

Care to all!!