Monday, December 05, 2016

Christmas Tree at the Inn

Christmas tree at the Inn

Notice how fast the Christmas season is upon us? Every year the Christmas season seems to come around faster and faster.

I can't say I'm in the Christmas mood this year but I do like Christmas decorations. 

Both Bill and I like the multi-colored lights. We used to do a Christmas tree in our homes but we fell away from that tradition many years ago.  I put out three ceramic Christmas trees around the house. Bill also puts some lights outside but nothing Griswold Christmas worthy. Just a few colorful lights.

The header picture at the top of this blog I took of one of our neighbors' house.  I have several photos that I took of neighbors houses which I will post up until Christmas.

The Christmas tree pictured at the beginning of this post was taken of the tree at the hotel where I work. The hotel always has a beautiful tree every year, decorated by my co-worker Monica.  Nice job Monica!

I've been a bit depressed these past few days because I'm still having great difficulty navigating the VA Healthcare system trying to get Bill an appointment with a gastroentrologist. I was going to post about spending hours on the phone this morning only to be met with one delay after another. But I decided to give you, my faithful readers a break. "Post something nice Ron", I said to myself. That's good for you and good for me. Hopefully tomorrow we'll get that appointment and get Bill well.  

In the meantime, I hope you're enjoying the Christmas season as much as I am.


Saturday, December 03, 2016

Health Issues Update


Bill is gaining his strength but is still weak.  

Today I made one of his favorite dishes, a bowl of egg salad with plenty of mayo. Bill's loves mayo. He loves egg salad. And both are very easy for Bill to swallow.  

Yesterday I spent a good part of the morning following up with the VA Choice program to get an authorization number so an appointment can be made with the gastroenterologist that the doctor at the hospital recommended that Bill see within two days.  By the way, we're past the two days already but if we can just get that number and his appointment, I won't complain. 

I have to admit I'm trying not to slip into that Dark Hole of depression.  Once you pass all the hurdles for the VA health care system, they take good care of you (I know from experience when I was unemployed and had no health insurance).  But man oh man, the bureaucratic maze that one has to navigate through to get THERE.  Hopefully I'll have better news to report next week.

Yesterday I had more bad news. Not to make someone else's bad news about me, but my longtime good friend (since third grade) Larry received a diagnosis that he has ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.  

See HERE for Larry's blog posting.

Larry notice about six months ago he had trouble walking. He said he was "walking like an old man."  Well, we both "walk like old men" being 75 years old both of us.

Thus Larry got on the Medical Treadmill to find out the cause of his coordination problem. Yesterday, after months of tests, he received his answer at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.





I just got off FaceTime with Larry. He is doing well. He says he's just going to continue to live his life as he has been doing for the past seventy-five years.  With some "accommodations" of course. 


Larry on FaceTime a few minutes ago - we had a good two hour talk - this is what friends are for

Life goes on. 

Friday, December 02, 2016

Progress - Bill's Primary Care Provider

"Susan" - Bill's primary care provider at the VA

Progress!  

Yesterday was a very full day but we made progress!

We met with Bill's primary care provider at the VA Outpatient Clinic yesterday morning. 

This is the first time I met her.  Bill has often told me about her and how much he likes her. I can see why, she cares. 

Susan questions Bill about his condition

I was worried that Bill wouldn't get timely, follow-up care for his recent medical emergency. Not to worry now, Susan put through an "Urgent" consult to the VA "Choice" program.  She also gave us a script so Bill could get his medication that we could fill immediately at a nearby Rite Aid.

You know what is so important other than just getting timely medical care, knowing that someone cares.  Susan cares. 

Susan checking Bill's heartbeat - Bill has a BIG heart


Even though Bill and I go to the same VA Outpatient clinic, I have a different doctor (who I also like very much because he also cares).  Susan and I hit it off immediately. She didn't even mind me taking photos and even a short video in which she gave me instructions on how to navigate the next step in Bill's medical treatment under the "Choice" program. 

Yesterday was extra busy because I also had a dental appointment.  Then I got a call to come into work later in the date, which I did after my 4 o'clock dental appointment.  You know folks, I often think it would be nice to have a month or so of just "coasting."  Not happening now so I deal with the hand that has been dealt to us.

Today I have to finalize making an appointment for Bill with a gastroenterologist.  But first I have to receive a "Choice" number from the VA.  Yet another hurdle to overcome. I was told to call back at 1 o'clock for that number, which is about an hour from now.

But as exhausting as yesterday way, and believe me I was tired when I came home from the hotel last was Christmas "Hospitality Night" in Lewes, I slept well knowing that the wheels were moving to getting Bill his follow-up medical care. 

Bill is still weak but slowing regaining his strength.  He lost 14 pounds during this medical episode. He always wanted to lose some weight but not this way.  

Progress was made yesterday. We are heartened. 

Bill and his primary care provider Susan






Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Caregiver

Bill has lunch on his last day at the hospital (he left most of the food)
Last month, after witnessing Bill slug through another ordeal in dealing with the VA for him health care I decided that I would be his official caregiver.  

This is a job I should have undertaken years earlier but I was either too lazy or just wanted to respect Bill for his independence. 

When Bill and I first met I was twenty-two years old and Bill thirty-five. Even though my three years in the Army (from age 18 to 21) matured me immensely, I was still in many ways a (have to be careful with what I say) "kid" and Bill was the "man."  After all he was almost old enough to be my father.  He was only five years younger than my Mother.

Over the years our roles have gradually changed.  

When I met Bill in 1964 he was making three times my income.  When we build our house in 1980 I was making twice what Bill was making.  I advised him to take early retirement (at 55 years of age) because I was making enough money for the both of us.  Of course you know how that worked out. Two years later Mellon Bank bought Girard Bank where I worked.  Four years later I lost my job.

Fortunately I got another job at another bank.  Then I began an odyssey of jobs from working at two more banks, as a consultant and finally as a hotel front desk clerk.  In between those jobs I had a summer job as a gardener at $8.65 an hour on a rich woman's estate.  But I digress.

Through all this adventure, I managed to keep us afloat even through the housing crises of 2006 where we almost went under with our house on the market for eleven months and a new house mortgage to pay for. 

A few years ago I noticed that Bill began slipping.  Hell, I began slipping too.  But you do what you have to do.  Survival is what life is all about.  That an a little love too, if you're lucky.  

Now, the past few years with having gone through several medical issues myself, I realize that the end is near.  We've been lucky because Bill has been relatively healthy during all these years.  In fact he's even VERY healthy.  But at 88 years old, body parts start to fail. I've noticed that fact with myself (you should see me get out of bed in the morning) and with my friends.

Two nights ago when I responded to the "tap, tap" on the floor beneath this chair in my home office at my computer, and I saw Bill naked and bloody lying postrate on the floor at the bottom of the stairs, I realized that our live if fundamentally changing.  

I took care of what had to be taken care of that night to get Bill immediate medical care. Now I have to deal with the Catch-22 bureaucracy of the VA in getting Bill's medications and medical bills paid for.  He doesn't have Medicare Part B, only Part A.  I have both Part A and Part B (at least until Trump and his Republican cohorts dismantle Medicare and privatize the program) so my journey through the Medical Treadmill is much easier.  Not so with Bill and his VA care.

Tomorrow we visit the local VA outpatient clinic.  I need prescriptions filled for Bill that I got from his recent stay at the hospital.  I know that the VA is going to tell me that I have to contact the Wilmington VAMC.  WhenI call the Wilmington VAMC then tell me they can fill any prescriptions until his "health care provider" (the doctor he sees at the Georgetown VA) sends them a "note."  Thus I'll get the runaround again tomorrow just like I did trying to get his upcoming cataract surgery eye drops medication (the eye doctor finally sent him the medication free of charge - sample bottles he had from salesmen).  

I apologize for boring you with all this minutiae but this is what my life will be in the future.  I am officially a Caregiver.

In many ways I am lucky though.  Bill is still about to get around.  His faculties are good. His heart is good both physically and emotionally. But he does tire easily.  He's very hard of hearing.  He has cataracts which resulting him him losing his license. He doesn't have much of an appetite. He sleeps a lot, which reminds me of my Mother's habits during the last years of her life.

When Bill had his episode this past Sunday night it just reminded me of how much I care for this man I've lived with for the past fifty-two years.  This man who has devoted his life to me. This man who has put up with me (I am NOT an easy person to live with) for the past half century. 

Even though the next years of my life with Bill will require more from me I can honestly say I feel privileged for my new role. 

This is what love is all about folks. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm tired.  I'm going to go to bed early tonight to get ready for the next battle tomorrow at the VA Outpatient Clinic.



Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Bill is Home From the Hospital!




Good news!  Bill is home from the hospital.  

I got the call this afternoon to pick him up.  

Here is what they found:


  1. Atrophic gastritis
  2. Esophagitis
  3. Hematemesis
  4. Multiple gastric ulcers
  5. Peptic structure of esophagus
In layman's language Bill has ulcers and an irritation of his esophagus.  He also has a fungus infection which is unrelated to his esophagus problem.  

Now to begin the journey through the labyrinth of VA health care.  We will begin this tomorrow with an in person visit to the VA Outpatient Clinic in Georgetown and Bill's primary care doctor.  Wish us luck!

But in the meantime, I am so glad to have Bill home.  Our home isn't a home unless Bill is here.  I can't imagine my life without him. 

Ready to leave the hospital


Monday, November 28, 2016

Bill Is In the Hospital

Bill in the Emergency Room last night

Bill is in the hospital. 

Late yesterday afternoon he complained about an arthritis spill he took that got stuck in his esophagus.  He tried for an hour to loosen the pill.  I looked up on the Internet how to handle this situation. One of the suggestions was to drink warm water or tea. I made a tea for him and he felt the pill loosen.

Bill goes to bed much earlier than I do. Last night he went to bed at around 7:30 PM. His bedroom is in the basement, directly beneath my home office.

At about 10 o'clock I heard a tapping sound on the floor beneath my chair at the computer where I was finishing up some online Scrabble games.

I didn't know where the tapping was coming from.  At first I thought someone was trying to break in from outside.  Then I thought of Bill.  I left my desk and went to the top of the stairs that lead to our finished basement.  There was Bill on the floor moaning and struggling.  He had a bucket near him in which he had thrown up blood, a LOT of blood.  

Not to make this about me but I immediately started to shake (as I am now just writing about this).  I descended the steps and asked him what was happening.  He struggled to tell me that he had passed out when he went into the bathroom to throw up and now he was throwing up blood.  Again, a LOT of blood.

I immediately called 911.  Bill managed to put some clothes on and I helped him up the stairs to our garage.  Within five minutes I could see the lights of the ambulance coming down our drive.

The ambulance was the size of a Hummer, lights flashing but no sound (thank goodness, no need to wake up the neighbors at 10:30 at night).  

The EMI guys went through their protocol in asking Bill certain questions.  His name, what year is it, etc.  Poor Bill, he was in such pain and still vomiting blood.  He was trying to reach the bucket but one of the EMI guys told him just to do it on the floor of the garage. Thank goodness I was able to clean up that pool of blood when I returned from the Emergency Room several hours later.

I don't know what I was thinking but I rode along with the EMI guys in the ambulance that took Bill to the hospital.  I should have followed them down in my car.  Later I had to call my neighbor Barbara and asked her to bring me back.  What a neighbor I have.  Barbara has her own medical problems and here I wake her up in the middle of the night.  What WAS I thinking?  Bless her heart.

At the hospital, the folks in the emergency room quickly took control of the situation.  Bill was still in a great deal of pain. 

I don't want to make a novel out of this and I have to go down to the hospital this morning to see Bill but I wanted to let everyone know who cares about us what happened last night.

The doctors who examined Bill think that his esophagus hemorrhaged from taking too many anti-inflammatory pills, which Bill does take.  They stabilized the situation last night.  Today they will perform and endoscopy to see the extent of the damage to his esophagus.

Folks, to tell you that I was shook up last night would be an understatement of the grossest sort.  Bill and I have been together fifty-two years.  I literally cannot imagine my life without this man who I have lived with since I was twenty-two years old.  But again, I have to avoid making this about me. But last night Bill expressed to me his main concern was my welfare if he wasn't around. That's the kind of man he is, thinking of my welfare.  Well folks, I'm going make sure everything is taken care of for Bill and get him home as soon as possible. 

I'm off to the hospital now to visit him.  I'll update when I can.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Gift For Bill




A few days ago I bought a wireless Bose speaker for my Wave radio.  Oh how I love that speaker.  Now some of my favorite music fills the air at Casa Tipton-Kelly. 

I liked my new Bose wireless speaker so much I decided to get another.  This one for Bill for his workshop downstairs in the basement.  Bill loves polka music.  He has been playing some of his favorite polka melodies on an old cassette tape player.  Tiny sound and all that. Now he's living, real Bose sound!  Of course I had to talk him into accepting my gift.  Bill never asks anything for himself other than my presence. While that's flattering (and probably sounds like I am very full of myself which I probably am) I thought he should enjoy his favorite music as much as I do.  So we got him set up.  

Happy times here folks.  Musical happy times!

You know sometimes I take things for granted.  Today I was reminded of how fortunate we are to live in a nice home and just go out and buy something like this Bose speaker.

We drove to Rehoboth Beach first for a walk on the boardwalk.  As I parked the car I noticed the car next to us was packed.  And I mean packed. So I got out and took a video.  As I rounded the car I saw a cat sitting on top of some of the stuff packed in the car.  Then I saw a woman behind the wheel.  Oh my God, this person obviously was homeless and living in her car.  Wow.  Sometimes I need these reminders of just how fortunate Bill and I are.  I could never imagine something like that happening to me but you just never know. 

   

A Gift For Bill




A few days ago I bought a wireless Bose speaker for my Wave radio.  Oh how I love that speaker.  Now some of my favorite music fills the air at Casa Tipton-Kelly. 

I liked my new Bose wireless speaker so much I decided to get another.  This one for Bill for his workshop downstairs in the basement.  Bill loves polka music.  He has been playing some of his favorite polka melodies on an old cassette tape player.  Tiny sound and all that. Now he's living, real Bose sound!  Of course I had to talk him into accepting my gift.  Bill never asks anything for himself other than my presence. While that's flattering (and probably sounds like I am very full of myself which I probably am) I thought he should enjoy his favorite music as much as I do.  So we got him set up.  

Happy times here folks.  Musical happy times!

You know sometimes I take things for granted.  Today I was reminded of how fortunate we are to live in a nice home and just go out and buy something like this Bose speaker.

We drove to Rehoboth Beach first for a walk on the boardwalk.  As I parked the car I noticed the car next to us was packed.  And I mean packed. So I got out and took a video.  As I rounded the car I saw a cat sitting on top of some of the stuff packed in the car.  Then I saw a woman behind the wheel.  Oh my God, this person obviously was homeless and living in her car.  Wow.  Sometimes I need these reminders of just how fortunate Bill and I are.  I could never imagine something like that happening to me but you just never know. 

   

A Gift For Bill


A few days ago I bought a wireless Bose speaker for my Wave radio.  Oh how I love that speaker.  Now some of my favorite music fills the air at Casa Tipton-Kelly. 

I liked my new Bose wireless speaker so much I decided to get another.  This one for Bill for his workshop downstairs in the basement.  Bill loves polka music.  He has been playing some of his favorite polka melodies on an old cassette tape player.  Tiny sound and all that. Now he's living, real Bose sound!  Of course I had to talk him into accepting my gift.  Bill never asks anything for himself other than my presence. While that's flattering (and probably sounds like I am very full of myself which I probably am) I thought he should enjoy his favorite music as much as I do.  So we got him set up.  

Happy times here folks.  Musical happy times!

You know sometimes I take things for granted.  Today I was reminded of how fortunate we are to live in a nice home and just go out and buy something like this Bose speaker.

We drove to Rehoboth Beach first for a walk on the boardwalk.  As I parked the car I noticed the car next to us was packed.  And I mean packed. So I got out and took a video.  As I rounded the car I saw a cat sitting on top of some of the stuff packed in the car.  Then I saw a woman behind the wheel.  Oh my God, this person obviously was homeless and living in her car.  Wow.  Sometimes I need these reminders of just how fortunate Bill and I are.  I could never imagine something like that happening to me but you just never know. 

   

Gift For Bill


A few days ago I bought a wireless Bose speaker for my Wave radio.  Oh how I love that speaker.  Now some of my favorite music fills the air at Casa Tipton-Kelly. 

I liked my new Bose wireless speaker so much I decided to get another.  This one for Bill for his workshop downstairs in the basement.  Bill loves polka music.  He has been playing some of his favorite polka melodies on an old cassette tape player.  Tiny sound and all that. Now he's living, real Bose sound!  Of course I had to talk him into accepting my gift.  Bill never asks anything for himself other than my presence. While that's flattering (and probably sounds like I am very full of myself which I probably am) I thought he should enjoy his favorite music as much as I do.  So we got him set up.  

Happy times here folks.  Musical happy times!

You know sometimes I take things for granted.  Today I was reminded of how fortunate we are to live in a nice home and just go out and buy something like this Bose speaker.

We drove to Rehoboth Beach first for a walk on the boardwalk.  As I parked the car I noticed the car next to us was packed.  And I mean packed. So I got out and took a video.  As I rounded the car I saw a cat sitting on top of some of the stuff packed in the car.  Then I saw a woman behind the wheel.  Oh my God, this person obviously was homeless and living in her car.  Wow.  Sometimes I need these reminders of just how fortunate Bill and I are.  I could never imagine something like that happening to me but you just never know.