Sunday, June 27, 2021

Bill Falls And Can't Get Up


Bill sitting out back under our shade tree late this afternoon, recovering from last night.

Last night, just as I was falling asleep at my normal time of 12:30 AM to 1 AM, Bill's medical alarm rang. He was having an emergency.

I rushed downstairs to his basement bedroom and sure enough, he was shaking all over. He didn't know how to stop and I didn't know what to do either. 

I called the 24/7 hospice nurse line which is what I was told to do if Bill had a medical emergency. No more calling 911 and a trip to the Emergency Room which just results in generating more bills and no resolution to Bill's medical problem which is just old age and he's wearing out. 

"Debbie", the sainted person on the other side of the line (who takes jobs like this anyway? I can't imagine) asked the routine questions which I won't go into here except "is he in pain?" (he wasn't). Then Bill had to go to the bathroom, immediately! We didn't quite make it, his pee was going down his leg then I heard the poop. Yep, he was pooping (shitting) his pants. What a mess.

I managed to get him to the bathroom and on the toilet, just. He had the biggest dump I've ever seen. Of course part of it was on the floor, toilet seat, down the right leg of his pants but most of it was in the toilet. I took a picture of it just to prove to his hospice nurse. Apparently Bill was constipated. We didn't know that. Maybe that's why he had the uncontrollable shakes. 

As I was getting him up off the toilet and into the nearby shower to wash him off (after pulling off his pants and underwear, couldn't get his shirt or T-shirt off so that went into the shower), Bill fell. He just missed the seat in the shower/tub enclosure. No pictures here but this is one of those cheap, one piece plastic builder grade showers. Thank goodness no tiles to clean after the poop mess. My brother was faced with that problem when he was taking care of our mother at the end of her life. It was messy too.

Bill fell in a crumpled corner on the floor of the shower. I couldn't get him up as much as I tried. When I thought I got him part way up (he was very weak) he slipped and fell again and this time part of him was wedged in between the base of the shower and his toilet with the metal grab bars. He hit is head (the bruise shows). I couldn't get him up. Tried for at least forty-five minutes. Then I called his hospice nurse again. I told her of the problem. She told me to call 911 and have some EMT's come out and pick him up and put him in his chair where he sleeps at night.

They were at our house within ten minutes (seemed less). Two burly guys who had no trouble extracting Bill from being wedged in between the base of his toilet and the shower base. They held him up while I washed off the now dried encrusted feces (shit) from his right leg and his butt. Then they took him into his bedroom. They were very gentle and spoke soothing words to him, which greatly impressed me. Two big burly guys so gentle. They held him while I put on a Depends underwear, which is what Bill is going to wear from now on. I also put on his jogging pants that I bought initially for him when he returned home from the rehab after his hospital stay in January. No more regular underwear for Bill nor his usual Levi jeans, too much trouble to clean. They settled him in his chair while I gathered up all the soiled garments. I rinsed out his underwear in the toilet (something I quickly learned to do from previous "accidents"). One thing that I learned is true what my friend Glenn told me (he was his partner/husband's longtime caregiver), you quickly get over the "shit" part of caregiving. Not so squeamish anymore, just do what you have to do.

After rinsing off his underwear, I put all into the washing machine and turned on the extra rinse cycle. Been there, done this before too. 

By  the time the EMT guys left, daylight was dawning. I had been up all night as was Bill. That's right, no sleep all night. Last time I did that was when I was a night auditor at the Hampton Inn in Exton, Pennsylvania in t he year 2000. I was alert but felt out of body at time. I've been running on fumes all day.

My big fear was that Bill wouldn't be able to walk. What would I do now? His hospice care worker was coming over today at 8:00 AM to check on him, special trip after last night's call. I had about an hour to sleep. I also had a weekly Zoom call scheduled at 10:00 AM with my friends Stuart, Lar, Pat and myself. Today was Lar's birthday so we didn't want to miss that. Lar is my friend who has ALS (diagnosed four years ago). And yes, he has his bathroom issues too and his fall down issues (his family has had to call the EMT's to get him up off the floor on occasion). 

I laid down on my bed and quickly fell asleep. I had asked Alexa to wake me up at fifteen minutes to eight. When she did I heard movement in the kitchen. I rounded the corner from my bedroom (which is right next to our kitchen) and there was Bill, walking albeit slowly and unsteady. He refuses to use a cane for walker (which the EMT guys told me he should use). Thank goodness he was walking! I can't tell you how relieved I was.

"Abby", the hospice care worker arrived about 8:30 AM. She took Bill's blood pressure and it was normal. I told her what happened and she surmised that Bill suffered an anxiety attack, which makes sense. Bill is so worried about leaving me (dying) but he is tired and because he can no longer read or do his projects because of his eyesight and his other problems, he's in a quandary. I told him so often that I can take care of myself but after fifty-seven years it's hard for him to leave his responsibility to "take care of me." She advised him to try and think of nice things and not dwell on the negative, which Bill tends to do. 

Abby left after about an hour's visit. 

The rest of the day here was surreal, as it is when one doesn't sleep the previous night. And today was the day I had my landscaper Ferdinand trim my nineteen holly trees (at $700), which I don't know house much longer I'll have that job done. I'm tempted to just let those holly trees grown out. If I'm left here by myself I have to cut out expenses like this. Let our backyard go natural. 

After I finish this post I'm going to bed. Bill is sleeping peacefully now in his Archie Bunker chair. Hopefully we can both get through the night without any more emergencies. Neither one of us can endure many more nights like we had last night.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Ear Cancer Surgery Complete


Early this morning I arrived at my dermatologist's office to have my sutures removed. 

Looks like I have to seriously trim my ear hairs
Last week at this time my dermatologist cut out a part of the top my left ear and replaced it with a skin graft from my left jaw line. Sounds painful? It was.

All this week I had to be very careful with treating the wounds (the skin graft area plus the "donor" area). That was an especially challenging task given that I have to wash my hair (what's left of it anyway) with a tar based shampoo because I have seborrheic dermatitis my scalp. If I don't white scales (dandruff) produces quickly and my head is itching like crazy. Since I found a solution to my condition when I was in my early twenties, I haven't had dandruff since or an itchy head. I don't want to go back there. So it was quit a challenge to cover up my operated on ear with plastic so it wouldn't get wet when I shampooed my hair with my coal tar based shampoo (I smell like a railroad tie after I shampoo). 

I was eagerly looking forward to today because those stitches were starting to itch.

I thought this procedure this morning would be a quick nip and tuck to pull out those stitches. That didn't happen.

Seems where I had the skin graft the skin had grown over the sutures. The sutures still had to come out, and out she (the dermatologist's assistant) took them.

The whole procedure took about fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes of torture. 

The dermatologist's assistant was very apologetic but it still hurt.  Finally, she got them all out. 

How would you like to have her job?

I'm home now, recovering. Whining and complaining but ready to start a new day.

By the way, Bill's doing fine. Weak but still with me.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Father's Day 2021


Pop making his favorite vegetable soup from veggies grown from his own garden - 1978 two years before his death. My father never had a gray hair on his head. White beard, yes but not one gray hair nor did any of his ten brothers.

My father ("Pop") died August 22, 2000. He was born April 18, 1920. 

He died of lung cancer. He was a life long smoker. On my birthday (November 9th), 1999 he had quadruple bypass heart surgery. That's when the doctor's discovered his lung cancer. They sewed him back up and sent him home.

The cancer had spread so much that they gave him six months to a year to live. He lived another eight months.

My father loved my Mother, even though he did cheat on her early in their marriage. But he knew he had a good thing with her and he corrected his bad habits. It was hard for him because he was very attractive to the ladies. They liked him and he liked them. All his life he continued to flirt to receptive women but I don't think anything ever came of it (consummated) after my Mother had a showdown with him early on in their marriage.

He had three children by my Mother. I am the oldest. My two younger brothers were born in 1943 and 1944 respectively. I was born in 1941. 

During the World War II my father failed his draft physical because he had brain damage from an accidental hatchet wound to his head when he was only ten years old. At that time his and his family of eight brothers (no sisters) lived in Hillbilly Heaven in Pigeon Roost, North Carolina. Someone was chopping wood and the hatchet handle came off and landed in my father's head. They rushed him by a horse pulled cart to nearby Johnson City, Tennessee hospital to try and save his life, which they did. Coincidentally some years later, when I was one year old I crawled out of a second floor window of the rental house we lived in and rolled down the front porch roof and landed on my head on the concrete sidewalk below. My Mother rushed my unconscious little baby body to the hospital, fearing the worst. Initially the doctor's were not hopeful but eventually I regained consciousness and here I am today to tell that tale. That was the first of my Nine Lives. Another coincidence, my good friend Pat also has a very noticeable scar on his head where he was also hit with an ax when he worked on a relative's farm in Canada when he was a teenager. And just one more coincidence, Bill (Kelly), my partner/husband of fifty-seven years has a dent in his skull where he was hit with rife butt during Army maneuvers when He was stationed in Germany in 1947. He said that's why he wore a toupee all his adult years, to hide that big dent. He doesn't wear a toupee now but the dent is very noticeable as is Pat's circular scar. So we all got a second chance at life. But I have veered off again from the main subject haven't I? I tend to do that.

Back to "Pop." My father didn't want children. He made that very clear during my lifetime. He especially didn't like me. Perhaps because I was closer to my Mother or perhaps because I was too "sissy" for him. But then he didn't like my brothers either. Although he did seem to favor the youngest ("the baby"). He showed more love to his dogs during his lifetime that he did to me and my brothers. I'll never forget that one Thanksgiving dinner, he put down is turkey laden fork, looked around the family dinner table and said "I have the dumbest bunch of kids."  Gee, thanks Pop. No surprise for us though, that was Pop. Nothing we did would please him. We all gave up a long time before that Thanksgiving dinner proclamation. 

Thus it  comes at no surprise that Father's Day was no big deal around our house. He was our father. Up until he was fifty-two years old he helped to support our family.  Initially in the marriage, (they were married in 1940), because he was rejected at his physical, he was required to be a cross country truck driver. He would be gone for weeks at a time. My Mother was left to fend for us kids (feed us). She lived in a small, no electricity, no running water, out door toilet, shack in the country.

My parents first home, a shack (no running water or electricity) in the country. Mineral Springs, PA. That's my Mother pregnant with me. 

She often told me the story that one day she was walking down the country road cradling my youngest brother (who was just a baby at that time), and hold me and my other brother's hand while she walked and walked as we were crying because we were hungry. She didn't know what to do. Of course welfare was out of the questions, "Nice people didn't do that" she said. he was too embarrassed to apply for welfare. Her Quaker family influence (grandparents on her Mother's side) no doubt. While she was walking that dirt road her father happened to drive by (he was a tomcat (married three times and like the ladies) and stopped. He saw she was distraught and gave her five dollars to buy some milk. That five dollars lasted her a while, five dollars back in 1944 was a lot of money.

Pop with his guitar in front of his early marriage hillbilly home in the Pennsylvania countryside. He LOVED his Packard!

When my father returned from his latest cross country trip delivered war vitals to their destinations, again was short on the money. My Mother found out later he was spending most of his money on other women during his travels. She gave him an ultimatum, she would take over the finances or she would leave him. My father wasn't the sharpest knife int he drawer but he did know he had a good thing with my Mother. He loved her and would never find anyone else who cared for him the way she did but she was willing to leave him. Thus he reformed his wastrel, irresponsible ways. But I've often thought, do I have any half sisters or brothers across the continental United States.  Might have, several of his brothers had children out of wedlock during their wander lust days. 

My Mother took over the full family financial when Pop "retired" at fifty-two (too "stressful" he said, his welding job).  She was the sole breadwinner in our family working at Pepperridge Farms frozen foods division for over twenty-five years. Pop just hung around with his friend Harry down the road from where we lived in our 1,100 square foot rancher (moved there in 1959, the year I graduated from high school). He occasionally did some house finishing work along with his buddy Harry (hanging doors and windows). He mainly liked to hunt, garden, smoke and eat fried, greasy foods while Mom ran the household. 

My father LOVED gardening. A trait I Inherited from him, I too love to garden. 

Early on in the marriage he used to beat me and my brothers but no more than the usual beatings that kids got in the late Forties and early Fifties from their father with a belt for misbehaving. At least he never beat us with the buckle and no serious damage was ever done.  Me and my brothers learned early on that if he hollered a lot when he was flaying his belt at us (I'll always remember him pulling his belt off in preparation for a beating) around at the three of us. Yes, we usually got beat together but I'm sure we got individual beatings too, I just don't remember that. When I would complain about the beatings, my Mother would refer us to the scars on my father's back from beatings he got as a kid from his father. And I guess she was right, it could have been a lot worse. It wasn't. And the beatings stopped as we entered our teenage years. The only incidence of his violence towards me was when I asked to borrow the family car for my Senior Prom and he refused.  I said something insulting to him (I don't remember but I was being disrespectful) and he punched me across the jaw, knocking me off balance and into the bathtub I was cleaning at the time. Yes, I was the house cleaner of our family, which I thought in my naive way would qualify me at least to borrow the family car for my prom date, which by the way I stood up for which I am to this day ashamed of. She (Vivian) took it was well as would could expect but I DIDN'T show up and she was waiting for me. What was I THINKING? Dumb kid. 

When my father punched me a good one across the jaw, it was in front of his brother. He was incensed because I disrespected him in front of his brother. I can understand that. But at the same time I made a vow to myself never to ask him for anything again and to leave home as soon as I could, which I did when I joined the Army after I graduated from high school. There was a six month delay there because I too failed my first Army physical (I was born with a hernia). I had to have an operation to remove the hernia before the Army would accept me. During my operation I developed a deadly case of staph infection which kept me in and out of the hospital for the next six months. But eventually the infection was cleared up after several surgeries and I joined the Army and broke the parental bind that I was under for the fist eighteen years of my life.

Except for one day when I returned home from Pittsburgh, where I had moved after I got out of the Army, I never lived at home again. That one day was a Friday through a Saturday. When I returned home by bus (he picked me up), I had no money and no job. I had a job in Pittsburgh but I was very lonely in Pittsburgh and was discouraged about the gay scene, which wasn't what I thought it was. I was looking for Prince Charming and all I was meeting was guys who wanted to get in my pants. I may be a lot of things but I'm no slut. Frankly, I didn't even know what the gay scene was about. This was the early Sixties after all. I wasn't a drag queen or a "queer" who hung around men's bathrooms. I knew I was different and I knew I liked men but I didn't know where to go from there. But this is just another branch of my sordid early life that I might get into in a future blog post should I live that long. Regular readers of my blog for all these years (since 2005) already know something to my Fantasy Ride Early Years Of Gayness For Ron.

Back to returning "home" from my doomed foray into Pittsburgh, that Friday night I went out with an old school chum, strictly straight and platonic. The next morning over his greasy fried eggs, bacon, scrapple and biscuits he asked "Where were you last night? I told him it was none of his business. He replied "As long as you live here it's my business." I immediately though "He's right! It is his business." That's when I decided then and there to move. As I said before I had no money so I called one of my brothers and borrowed money (I think $250) from him. Then I looked at the classified ads for a small efficiency furnished apartment. I found one ($65 a month) which I rented that day and the next day I was out of his house. I never lived there again in that small, stuccoed wall, eight foot high ceilings, one bathroom, ranch house of his again. I lived in that shabby, one bedroom furnished apartment for two and a half years (until I met Bill and moved in with him). He never visited me once. NOT.ONE.TIME.

Wherever you are Pop, happy Father's Day. I am who I am because of you, f-cked up and all, because of you. I even look like you now. And this year I will be the age (80) that you died. 

My father was twenty-one years old when I was born. My father has been dead twenty-one years. 

I saw him last time one day before he died on a Saturday night. He was in the hospital hooked up on morphine pain killers. No one else was in his room. They had left earlier in the late afternoon. The time I saw him was about eight o'clock in the evening. 

When he saw me come around the curtain (he was sharing his room with another patient, he was near the window, I could see the cars in the parking lot and the parking lot lights from his window). He asked me help him up so he could pee in his jug. Like me he can't pee lying down in a hospital bed. As I helped him back in his bed I said to his back "I love you Pop."  I don't know if I loved him but it seemed the appropriate thing to say. He said nothing to me. At least he wasn't angry at me. I think he was too preoccupied with is weakness and out of it from the morphine. 

My Mother hand feeding my father during his last days in the hospital suffering from terminal lung cancer

Monday morning as I unlocked the door to the small town bank where I worked at that time, I heard the phone ringing.  I knew what it was. I knew it. I quickly unlocked the door and rushed over to pick up the phone. It was Barbara, my sister-in-law (my youngest brother's wife).  She said "Ronnie, Pop died last night. Can you come home to be with Mom?"

I had the strangest reaction to this news. News that wasn't unexpected but still it was a shock to hear, that his man who had been so much a part of my life was no longer alive. I felt like someone gut punched me in the stomach. I didn't feel sadness, for which I was ashamed. Nor a sense of loss, just relief. I felt bad for my Mother though. All the years I knew them I never once heard him raise his voice to her or even argue with her.  He loved her. 

Yep, he loved her and she him

At his funeral, still no sense of loss. Not happy either, perhaps relieved, just different. 

My brothers and I say our final "Goodbye" to the man who produced up and was such a force in our lives. Yes, I am the smallest even though I'm the oldest. My second brother (the Middle One) is in the middle and named after my father (Isaac, Jr.) and my youngest brother John.

One thing my father did like about me, I attended as many of the funerals for his ten brothers as I could with him. That was one of the few times I saw him smile at me, when I would accompany him in my best dark suit. I remember one funeral for his brother Bruce, one of his cousins (Fred Byrd), who I had never met before in my life, came across the room and said "You must be Ike Tipton's son, you look just like him." I have to admit I was taken aback (I "look just like him?" What? I've turned into my father? I'm afraid I did.) Then I felt a tinge of pride, to be recognized by a cousin he grew up with (back in his hillbilly North Carolina mountain days) who would recognize me across a crowded room of family relatives and friends who had come to mourn another Tipton brother, who coincidentally was babysitting me when I fell off that roof and almost died. Bruce was just a teenager at that time. 

Well, that's enough of my Father's Day tribute to Isaac Walter Tipton, Sr. (we have the same middle name by the way). Hope you enjoyed reading this cathartic tome of mine. I tend to do that you know.

One of the few pictures I have of my with my father (my youngest brother John to my right). Photo taken about 1960 when I was home on leave from my three year Army stone.   Pop was holding's stomach in and I think I detect a faint smile. See it?

Friday, June 18, 2021

Cancer Surgery On Ear

Bandage ear after surgery to remove squamous basil cell carcinoma 

 Got up early this morning for my cancer removal surgery on my left ear. 

My appointment was at 6:30 AM.  I arrived at 6:00 AM and they took me right away.

The top part of my ear was removed. Squamous basil cell cancer. 

My doctor said he got it all.

The four needles to numb ear hurt. Initially I thought he was cutting me without anesthetic but he told me "No, these are the needles for the anesthetic."  He gave me five of them. Each one had a unique hurt.

Of course I felt nothing when he actually cut out the cancerous top part of my ear. But he cut so much he had to do a skin graft. He took off part of my lower ear and grafted it to the top. Sounds like robbing Peter to pay Paul but I didn't question him. I have to assume he knows what he's doing. 

As bad as  this was, I'm thankful it wasn't a more serious cancer like melanoma. I'm also thankful that I have medical coverage.

Oh if I could redo those foolish days of my youth when I would bake in the sun trying to get that perfect tan. That my friends is one (of many) regrets that I have in my long life. I'm paying the price now.

The results of another bloody visit to the doctor

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Groundhog Day-My daily Routine


My clock on my bed headboard - the time I see almost every morning when I wake up to start my day

Almost everyday I wake up at 6:50 AM. Not 7 AM or 6:30 AM but ten of seven. What's up with that?

I've never seen the movie "Ground Hog Day" but I've seen clips and I know the Bill Murray character wakes up to the same time every day.

It doesn't seem to matter what time I go to bed at night. Last night I was up latter than usual binge watching the latest season of "Better Call Saul." I didn't get to bed until about 1:30 AM. I usually go to bed between 11:30 to 12:00 midnight. 

I've never been a late riser. I am a midnight owl though, preferring to go to bed late. Bill likes to go to bed early, usually when the sun sets or when it gets dark. He also gets up early, earlier than me.

These days my usual routine when I get up at ten of seven is to do my bathroom absolution, including daily bowel movements (thank goodness). Back when I was young I was frequently constipated and sometimes when several days before I made that prolonged visit to The Throne. These days, in my dotage, a daily Visit in the morning is a requirement lest I have a very embarrassing accident. Next Friday I have an early morning appointment at my dermatologist (6:30 AM) which is a concern to me because that time is interfering with my daily bowel movement. Too much information? Yes.

These days in which I am a full-time caregiver is Ground Hog Day predictable. I get up at 6:50 AM. After my bathroom routine I go downstairs to Bill's bedroom where Bill is waiting for me. I wash his edema lower legs with Dial anti-bacterial soap. Every third day is Shower Day (which Bill hurts).

After washing Bill's lower legs and feet Bill and I go upstairs to the kitchen.  I give Bill his morning pills (he also have evening pills) with peach or watermelon juice (which he likes). Then I prepare his oatmeal breakfast.  I also prepare my breakfast of sliced strawberries with shredded wheat or Cherrios. I also drink a daily allotment of FiberBlend to keep my bowels moving as well as take my morning medications (I also have evening medications.)

While Bill is eating his oatmeal (he slurps it) I take my daily walk. When I return I have my breakfast and clean up after Bill's breakfast. 

This is the time of day (about 9:30 AM) I go into my home office (smallest bedroom in our house that I turned into a home office) and check my online Scrabble games (I usually have a dozen or so going with Pat and other Internet players) and my e-mails and, sometimes, update my blog as I am doing now.

I don't sit too long at my computer like I used to in the past because my left leg falls asleep (that's the leg I had injured). Almost every day I take Bill for his ride and at the same time shop at Food Lion, our local supermarket. Sometimes we stop at Ace Hardware or the Post Office. Other times I stop and shop at the local nursery but not so much this year as in year's past.

Upon returning it's time for lunch. Bill doesn't have lunch. I usually have hummus and chips and soup, often my homemade soup which is the best which I don't mind bragging about. 

After lunch it's time for my daily nap which can last anywhere from one and a half to two hours. Yes, I do take a nap THAT long. I tell Alexa when to wake me. Before I had Alexa I would sometimes sleep three hours or more. What was THAT all about? Old age dotage folks, old man sleeping his life away. 

When I arise from my afternoon nap, which is  taking me longer and longer to come back to earth, I go outside (during the warm weather) and do some yard work. Once a week I mow the lawn. Other times I trim and pull weeds. Sounds boring but I find pleasure in doing these mundane chores.

Around 5 o'clock I make more oatmeal for Bill's dinner. He also gets chocolate milk with his dinner oatmeal. I prepare my diner which lately has been reheated Royal Farms spicy chicken tenders with their fries and biscuits. I accompany that entree with shredded iceberg lettuce, sliced cucumber, quartered small tomatoes, Feta cheese crumbles and Wishbone Greek Vingerette salad dressing. Works for me.  

After Bill's oatmeal I give him either a pudding cup or a Danon yogurt cup for dessert. 

Bill sits in is favorite chair in our sunroom which I eat and watch reruns of "Judge Judy" on my DVR recorder. 

When the sun goes down our string of Christmas lights turn on, giving out sunroom and living room a very festive feeling. Both Bill and I love the effect! When the lights go on, that's Bill's cue to go to bed which he heads for the cellar stairs to go to his bedroom. I always tell him I will stop down later and say "Goodnight" to him, even though sometimes I don't because I don't want to disturb him.

Now I have the one time of the day all to myself, which is very necessary to maintain my mental and physical well being as Bill's caregiver. 

I'm back in my home office, on the computer, updating my online Scrabble games, while on my TV I'm playing back some of the MSNBC shows I've recored earlier. Almost all of my TV watching has been prerecorded for my convenience and to enable me to zip through the ever increasing number of commercials that are on TV today. I usually call Pat on FaceTime to see what he did today and to tell him about my day.

I'll futz around on my computer for a couple of hours before I have my nighttime pre bedtime snack. This is My Time. 

During the week this is when I prepare to go to bed. During the weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights) I usually watch one of my rented Netflix DVD movies. During week, after I do my evening bathroom absolutions of brushing, Water-Pie and flossing my teeth I go to bed. I always have a book handy to read before I go to sleep.  On good night I can get through two or three pages before I enter an unconscious state. Then during the night I will probably get up two or three times to pee (yes, that often) before I get up again the next morning at ten minutes to seven o'clock. Then I begin my GroundHog Day all over again folks.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Ron's Health Update


Me at Herring Cove beach, Provincetown, Mass 1988 - working on developing my future skin cancer diagnosis - fool that I was. Should've listen to all those skin cancer warnings Ron.

Wednesday I received a call from my dermatologist's  office.  She was calling a out the results of the biopsy of that painful "pimple" I had taken off the top of my left ear last Friday. The fact that I was receiving a call was bad news. Yes, the biopsy indicated that I have skin cancer. 

There are three main types of skin cancer:

Basal cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma


My biopsy came back as shamus cell carcinoma. 

I've been going to a dermatologist since 1988 every six months for checkups. Almost every time they find something to burn or cut off my skin. All so far have been actinic keratosis, which are precancerous skin lesions. It has been very routine to have those precancerous skin cancer lesions removed from my skin, mostly my face. 

Where I am now folks is a results of my foolish hunt for that perfect tan when I was young. Oh sure, I heard all the warnings about skin cancer. I ignored them. That is until one day when I decided to go to a dermatologist because different parts of my face hurt when I shaved. My dermatologist discovered that I had numerous spots of actinic keratosis. So many the best way to remove them was a topical form of chemotherapy which was Efudex. I had that applied all over my face which burned off the top layer of my skin. Folks, that was one of the most painful episodes I've ever had in my life and warned me away from my "lying on the beach baking in the sun in search of that perfect tan" days. 

It's ironic that I live near Rehoboth Beach for the last fifteen years and have never played on the sand at the beach in pursuit of that tan. Nope, I don't do that these days folks. So far I've been lucky not to have developed skin cancer but that chicken has come home to roost now. 

Next Friday at 6:30 AM I have an appointment with my dermatologist to have the top part of my left ear removed. It's my cauliflower ear that my father used to mock me so much about and for which I was so ashamed when I was younger. I don't care now, just as long as I've caught the cancer in time.

Me, third grade (1951) my cauliflower ear on the right. 

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Caregiving For Bill Update

I probably shouldn't be writing about this but I will anyway because it is bothering me so much.

Since February 5th, when I picked up Bill from his two week stay at the rehabilitation center in Dover, I've been caregiving full-time for Bill. 

I've left my job at the hotel, which I loved.

I no longer make my quarterly trips to travel with Pat for the foreseeable future. Of course COVID has had a say in my travel plans but COVID is now receding as an impediment to travel. I won't be able to travel as long as I'm caregiving for Bill.

I help him dress. I help him shower. I cook for him. I clean up after him after his accidents (and he just had a really messy one a few days ago). 

I give him his pills twice daily. 

I take him for a ride at least once a day. 

I take care of maintaining our home including mowing the grass and performing small handyman chores that Bill used to do.

The one thing I have asked Bill to do is not to pee in the sink.  

I didn't realize he was peeing in the sink until he first came home from the rehab facility. At first he was using the guest bathroom on the first floor. After couple of days I noticed "that smell" (urinal) coming out of the guest bathroom. That's when I discovered Bill was peeing in the sink. I confronted him about it. He said, "What difference does it make? It all goes the same place."  Uh, actually not. When one pees in the porcelain toilet one is not peeing in a sink with a metal pipe. That's why the metal pipe of Bill's sink in his basement bathroom is all corroded. 

Bill, because of his failing eyesight couldn't do a stand up pee so we agreed he would pee in the hospital jug. He did that for about three months. Only problem there was he wasn't quite getting all his pee in the jug requiring me to clean up the tile floor. I talked to him about it and discovered he couldn't hold the jug the way it was supposed to be held because of his reset broken arm wouldn't permit it. Don't ask, but that's what he tells me.

He said he would use the toilet. He would sit, thus saving me the daily chores of wiping the tile floor three, four and sometimes five times a day and also emptying his urine from the jug.

Tonight, on a hunch, I opened the bathroom door to his bathroom because I had a suspicion he was using the sink again. He was.

Now, I don't want to hear from a blog reader about "He's just an old man and let him do this."  I say no. 

It's not just the cleanliness issue but its a respect issue. He tells me multiple times during the day how much he loves me and appreciates what I am doing for him. I told him tonight "You can tell me you love me over and over again but you have to back up your words with actions. Show me you love me by showing respect for me and pee in the toilet like any civilized person." 

He said he was sorry and asked me to forgive him. Yeah, right. Here is  the truth folks, Bill is lazy about his personal hygiene. He always has been. That's why he came home with fungus medicine from his two stays in the hospital. That's why I insist on washing him with Dial anti-bacterial soap every three days. He complains, and complains but for the first time in years he doesn't have body odor and is clean. 

Maybe the problem is me. From the time I was nine or ten years old I remember being concerned with the cleanliness of myself and place were I lived. Growing up in the Fifties one took a bath once a week. No shower, a bath and make sure you clean the ring around  the bathtub once you get out. I remember my father mocking me for wanting to at least wash my feet daily (me and my brothers didn't wear shoes in the summertime). Then in 1958 when he moved to a small ranch house with a shower, he mocked me for wanting to take a shower more than once a week.  Oh I had a "loving" father, he speciality was to mock me whenever he could. Not a whole lot (actually NONE) of encouragement from dear old dad. By the way, I never called him "Dad". 

I cleaned our apartment, I washed the dishes. I cleaned myself. That's just me. 

My biggest problem here is literally keeping the shit out of this house. And the pee out of the sink.

I probably should apologize that this blog post wasn't one of my uplifting, happy and joyous posts. One good thing about Bill's recovery is that the edema of his legs has settled and we're in a routine of appreciating each day we have together. Except for his bowel accident a few days ago, all has been going well even though he's getting weaker by the day. But he's happy and I was settling into a routine of caring for him. 

Today was a setback. So discouraging. I feel betrayed. Lied to. I've sacrificed so much to make Bill's final days comfortable and happy and he can't do this one little thing for me? It's not only about the cleanliness issue it's about respect. 

I'll go on. I love Bill and want him comfortable. Tomorrow he gets his near hearing aid. He lost his other one two months ago. He doesn't know what he did with it. Even though I told him not to touch his hearing aid when he had it on his side table to change the battery.  Again, he lied to me and tried to change the battery even though he can't see the battery. And you remember the projects?  He said he wouldn't do any more projects? He's still doing them. I gave up on that one, figuring it's best that he doesn't something besides sit all day and doze off. I try to keep and eye on him that he doesn't do too much damage during one of his projects.  

There, I've said it. I'm not trolling for sympathy or confirmation. I'm venting. As I have said many times in this blog, this is my therapy. I don't need to go to a therapist. This blog is my therapy. 

Monday, June 07, 2021

Welcome Back!

Yes, I have returned to my old Blogger format. 

I tried, I REALLY tried the new Blogger format but I just couldn't GET IT. 

Blogger forced me into the new format. I didn't want to go but they forced me. Why do they do that? "New and improved"? WTF? They have a committee that has to justify its existence and change just for the sake of changing.

I've been blogging since 2005. I've made many friends and lost a few friends (their choice, not mine because THEY COULDN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH). Some died, some just got bored and some just moved on with their lives, leaving my small, buried, insignificant blog in their wake. I blog for the same reason I journal, therapy. If I made a few friends along the way, more is the better. Of course I would never have met Pat, if I hadn't been blogging. He's The One Friend I was searching for all those lonely nights hanging out in smoke filled, booze infused gay bars during my Glory Years. How ironic that he came into my life many years after I had given up the Bar Scene. Just goes to show you, lookin for love in all the wrong places is SO TRUE.

Truth be told, I'm most comfortable in this basic, old fashioned Blogger format. I feel right at home. I have to make blogging fun again. That "new" format was just to laborious. 

Some of my blogger friends have really cool blog formats in Word Press. I have a Word Press account (which I have to PAY for by the way) but it hurts my head to try and navigate Word Press. At this time of my life I'm just trying to minimize those "hurt my head to think" activities. I have to keep things simple like cleaning up after Bill after he has another bathroom accident (he had one a few days ago, and yes, it was a mess. More on that later......maybe). 

So I'm back folks. Welcome back! 

Now I have some grass to mow on this really hot and humid day. 

Have a great day wherever  you are and remember, make each day count because tomorrow may be your last. 

Saturday, June 05, 2021

Chrissy's Eulogy For Her Aunt Sis

This past Thursday was the funeral service for one of my favorite first cousins. By father had ten brothers and those brothers had thirty-three (legitimate) children. Four of those children were born in 1941. Me, and my twin cousins Bud (Edward) and Sis (Joan) and Louise. We all graduated high school in 1959 (see graduation photo below)

From left to right me, Joan (Sis), Louise and Bud - 1959

Last week Sis's sister Janet (and my cousin) sent me a Messenger message on Facebook informing me that Sis had a massive heart attack the previous Saturday and was on a ventilator and they were going to take her off the ventilator because  there was no hope for her. She was going to die and indeed she did two hours after they took her off the ventilator. 
Janet told me that Sis's funeral service would be at the James Terry Funeral Home in Downingtown, the same funeral home that I held services for my parents and many of our Tipton relatives over the years. I am very familiar with that funeral home, I have been there in person many times. However, this time I could not be there because of my caregiving responsibilities to Bill.  Also, it is a long trip (2 1/2 hours) to Downingtown and at this time of my life, I'm just not that good at long road trips. When we first moved to southern Delaware fourteen years ago, Bill and I often drove "home" to Pennsylvania, sometimes as much as once a month. We haven't been back in several years now. 
I felt bad because I did want to go to Sis's funeral service because, even though we had lost personal touch over the years (she lived in Lancaster Pennsylvania) we still maintained the once a year Christmas card tradition. 
During my youth growing up (late Forties and early Fifties) my brothers and I were often treated to a "trip to the country" to visit Aunt Mabel and Uncle Ed" and their five kids. Their house didn't have running water or electricity and an outhouse but that didn't matter to us "townie kids". We lived in a second floor cockroach infested apartment in the white trash section of Downingtown (Pop was a hillbilly and we were poor). A trip to the county was indeed a treat for us.

Can you spot me? I'm the third (tallest) boy from the right. Sis is the blonde pigtailed girl. Date about 1947

More Tipton cousins, this time with Uncle Rich and his kids.  Again, I'm the tall kid with his arms folded. Date about 1949. Sis is the blonde holding her baby sister Linda.

More ragtag Tipton brothers having summertime fun in the country with our Tipton cousins and one of their black little girl neighbors. Date about 1951. Of course I'm the tall skinny kid with my hand on my hip. 

In addition to the fresh air of the country, we LOVED our Aunt Mabel's fried chicken and biscuits. And to think she cooked that chicken and biscuits on a wood burning stove and only had a hand water pump to help clean up afterwards. Best fried chicken I've ever had in my life!

I did so want to go to my cousin Sis's funeral and was so disappointed that I couldn't.  On Thursday night I got on my computer and went to the funeral home's website to leave a tribute to my beloved cousin and was very pleasantly surprised to find that they had live streamed her services!  Oh my gosh! 

I watched the whole service with took forty-four minutes. It was so comforting to see that room where I sat during the services for my Mother and father and other Tipton relatives. In a way watching the lives stream was better than actually being there because I could watch the services and also switch the camera to watch the guests, which I did (video not included in this post). I was able to identify most of the guests.  What a wonderful thing to do in this time of COVID and our digital age, to enable family members to attend comforting services without actually having to make the trip.

This video clip I have posted is of Sis's niece Chrissy telling a vignette about her impulsive move to California after she finished college from her home in Pennsylvania. California, the Promised Land. Of course Chrissy almost immediately regretted her decision to move to California, she was immensely homesick. So when she received a letter from her Aunt Sis with Sis's secret fried chicken recipe, she got a little bit of home in California.

That was just like Sis to do something like that. Chrissy describes Sis's personality to a T.  Sis was one of those forces of nature. When she entered a room, all heads turned. You knew she was there because he made sure you did. She wasn't perfect, and she did have her "chinks in her armor" (nice way of putting THAT Chrissy), but everyone LOVED Sis. She will be greatly missed. 

Thank you Jame Terry Funeral Home for recording Sis's services. So grateful. Now I have closure to that wonderful relationship I had early in my life with one of my very favorite cousins. 

Wednesday, June 02, 2021


Happy birthday Howard!

My longtime friend celebrated his birthday a couple of days ago. I made this short video of some old photos and recent photos and videos that I had of him. I love making these "music" videos. I just wish I had more time to do them. 

I met Howard way back in 1979 when I used to visit my longtime friend Bob McC. who I met when I was attending ASA Training School in Ft. Devens, Mass in 1960. I used to visit Bob's place when he lived in southern Delaware in the late 70's.  Bob also lived and worked near Philadelphia as I did during that long ago time. He was still in the closet at that time.  He let his hair down by spending the weekends getting drunk at his single wide trailer on twenty-acres of wooded land outside Georgetown Delaware. Oh the bacchanals we used to have those wild weekends. One fo the pictures you see if of me cutting my birthday cake on my 39th birthday. The first and only surprise party I ever had in my life!  And yes, I was surprised. You'll see Howard (blonde hair) in the background along with my boyfriend at that time of my life, "Fuzzy" (the bespectacled bearded guy also in the background). 

Over the years I lost touch with Howard (strictly a platonic relationship by the way.  When our mutual friend Bob died five years ago, we rekindled our friendship when I met Howard at Bob's memorial service. 

At the end of the video you'll see one of my Old Time Photo excursions. Since the pandemic I haven't been able to organize one of those fun events but I'm thinking of doing one again.  

Friends are so important in our quality of life. Hopefully, now that the vaccinations are causing the pandemic to recede in our rearview mirror we can renew these in person friendships and I can create more memories with my photos and videos.

Caregiver Update

  Bill with his hospice nurse last week Regular followers of this blog have no doubt noticed that I haven't been posting on a regular ba...