Another Quick Update

Earlier this week, I had a test/procedure done both to confirm one diagnosis and to rule out two other possibilities. It required some preparation, which may have had an unfortunate consequence.

That said, I’m happy to report that all of the samples collected came back negative for cancer. The original diagnosis was confirmed and while a pain (literal as well as figurative), it beats the alternative.

The prep, however, may have caused an issue or two on the cardiac side. We are monitoring, hoping that what is going on is temporary, and that nothing else is trying to rear its head. Since being hit by lightning, its seemed like my health was a descending quantum cascade with anything that had the possibility of going wrong was doing so. It is a huge relief to find out that in every area we’ve tested, I am at least clear of cancer.

I want to thank everyone who has donated to my fundraiser, and special thanks to the recent series of anonymous donors who have taken a huge weight off my shoulders with their generosity. I’m almost clear medically to move, now need to get enough to rent a place and get moved. Thank you all so very much for your support, prayers, and messages of encouragement!

*****

If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

What’s It Like To Be Hit By Lightning?

I’ve been getting this a lot lately, so I thought I would talk a little about what happened and what is happening now. I’m glad to say that a lot of good things are going on, including cognitive therapy.

Last June 30, I went out on the front porch to drink my coffee and read the news at about 0430 hours. There was a thunderstorm about a mile off, moving away from my location, that was putting on a light show. I had checked the weather radar before going out to see what it was doing. For those interested, I was seated facing West, and watched the light show through the brick arches to my right (North).

At approximately 0445 hours, I think I had just finished reading Instapundit when my world went white, then black. I realized as it flashed white that lightning had hit to my right. I thought I was clenching up in fear, but it turns out I was locked up. There was a roaring sensation, not sound, in my head and I remember every hair on the right side of my body standing straight up and those on the left trying to do the same. I also remember as everything went black that I thought we were having a power outage, instead of just a me outage.

I really don’t know how long things stayed black, but it was long enough for me to wonder what I was going to see when the lights came back on: heaven, hell, or something else. When vision returned/lights came back on, I was relieved to find myself still on the porch and intact. At least no chunks were missing. I got up, went inside, and gave thanks to God and the Blessed Mother that the lightning had missed me. Me being me, I got a shower and went to work completely missing that I had indeed been hit. I spent a lot of the day talking about the near miss, even though I was starting not to feel good.

Turns out, burns and blast injuries are not the most frequent result of a hit. Rather, it’s concussion symptoms and I soon had those in spades, along with a spike in blood pressure that had me well above stroke range. Finally got to the point I went to the ER, and that’s when we started putting things together. It’s also when I found a small black hole in the ball of my right foot, and evidence of a corresponding melt hole in the shoe I was wearing.

Right now, the best guess (and it is a guess) is that the main bolt hit a tree that is roughly ten feet (or less) from the porch where I was sitting. There is debate on mechanisms, but some part of it came over to say hello and while we don’t know exactly where/how it went into my upper body, we know where it came out. It is also worth noting that the radio in my car, which was parked not too far from the tree apparently got fried at the same time.

Things continued to deteriorate on the cardiac side, and in October I ended up having open heart surgery to: replace some arteries in one section of my heart that had gotten so inflamed that they were not letting any blood through; zap seven spots on my heart to stop the atrial fibrillation I was experiencing; and, to put a clip on the back of my heart to block off an area to prevent blood clots and strokes. We are still working on BP issues, but things are much better than they were.

Testing found that I’ve lost all the high frequency hearing in my right ear and that the nerves are dead. There is also an increase in my tinnitus. Holding off on a hearing aid for now, plan is to track and see what happens.

Which leads to the neurological side of things. God’s own stun gun got fired into the motherboard of the most powerful bio-electric computer currently known, the human brain. My brain. The good news there is that there was no physical damage found. Cognitive testing has me clocking out very well in most areas, but there is an area where even though I do well on the test, we know there are problems.

One way I’ve described part of it is like saying ‘Oh, I need that and it’s over here in this filing cabinet drawer’ and discovering the thing and/or the drawer aren’t there. Another part is that short-term memory can be really short. The more mental and physical distractions, the harder it is to keep up. It’s as if some of the data in my brain is scrambled. Actually, some of it may be gone. Some of it is just not where it used to be. I’m told that it will be about three years before everything settles down.

So, the cognitive therapy has provided me with some things to do to help exercise the area of the brain/cognition that took the worst hit, and to develop mechanisms to cope with the issues. One of the things I do is make extensive use of lists to be sure I get everything done I need to in a day. This includes sub-lists on each task. I will note for the record that it helps not to leave the lists at home when you head out for appointments and errands.

It can be odd what does pop up in my head on occasion, and equally odd what doesn’t pop up. For one example, I may see a face and hear a voice in my memory, but I can’t match it to a name or anything else. More often, I can associate it with some things, but not with major things. If I stumble, mispronounce, or have another issue, just be patient.

In so many ways, I am blessed. I am alive. I survived the open heart surgery. My brain is clocking along above average in most areas, and there are ways to compensate for where it is not operating at peak efficiency. The support I’ve gotten medically, financially, and otherwise has been overwhelming. I’ve still got a ways to go, and it does bite to have been out of work so long. But, with continued support and prayers, I will hang on, I will recover as fully as possible, and I hope to move out West soon.

Thank you all who have prayed for me, donated, and otherwise encouraged me. Your gifts have made the difference. Thank you.

*****

If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Health Update

Sorry for the lack of free ice cream, but this is a week of doctors, with today wrapping up a series of visits. The good news out of all of them is that things are doing as well as they can be doing. I’ve been told to work on my triglycerides, and plan to do so.

The good news is that these visits also incorporated some regular cancer screens and those were all negative. I strongly recommend ignoring the Obama-era recommendations to not get certain tests done, especially a PSA test if you are male. The earlier you catch things, the better.

In addition to a recurrent rash I seem to have picked up in Iraq many years ago, I have a couple of new things to deal with. Neither bad, just annoying. Stamina is still an issue, but getting back to regular exercise should help.

Because of the diverticulitis, I get to have another colonoscopy here soon. Working on that, hopefully same doctor and location as last time. Best such I’ve ever had, and appreciated the care and professionalism. Especially as the doctor previous to them came closer to killing me than I care for.

Things are going well enough that I don’t have to see the cardiologist for six months, unless something comes up. BP still an issue, but we can work it via weekly reports and more blood work.

Starting back into regular exercise, have gotten in some good walks the last few days, though the body is quick to let me know when I push too hard and that I’ve not been doing this in a while. Have even been cleared to use the inversion table.

All in all, a fairly decent set of visits. Have more cognitive therapy sessions to come, and am looking forward to them. Again, I highly suggest not getting hit by lightning.

*****

If you like what you are reading, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Health Update

As much as I would like to be moving West by the end of the month, I just don’t see it happening. Then again, it may be for the best in that the people who’ve been checking on my cognitive ability have talked my insurance company into covering some therapy designed to help me deal with some of the cognitive issues.

As I’ve said before, I’m incredibly lucky and there was no physical damage to the brain. Most elements of cognition are clicking away nicely. That said, there are some issues that stem from the fact that while there was no physical damage, there was what might be viewed as data scrambling. Hardly surprising given that God’s own stun gun got fired into the motherboard of the bioelectrical computer that is my brain and central nervous system. I’ve been told it will take about three years for everything to settle down.

Meantime, the therapy should help and if nothing else will help me develop coping mechanisms for the effects. I’m already using notes and lists, and that needs to be expanded and refined. I’ll admit it is frustrating to reach for a memory or bit of knowledge, and not be able to find it. It’s even more frustrating to catch oneself “jumping tracks” a bit. For one example, while driving for the fasting blood draw the other morning I caught myself starting to go to the wrong doctor/lab. In my defense, they are all near each other so no major issue but still…

I need to get back to regular exercise, but that’s easier said than done. If the weather is nice I’m going to try to start walking around the neighborhood. That said, we had snow flurries last Saturday so the good weather is problematic.

I also want to take the time to thank all of you who have donated, offered prayers, and offered other support and encouragement. It has not been a fun or easy path, and I’ve not enjoyed being out of work for so long. If not for all of you and your support, I don’t know what would have happened.

To finish with some good news, we may finally be getting the blood pressure under control. I know I’ve talked about that before, but we are now down into the 12X/13X over 7X/8X range rather than 180/190/higher over 9X/1XX. Not where it needs to be, but a LOT better than it was. Almost nine months at the latter is more than long enough. If we can get it down a bit further, it will help with a lot of things including stamina.

Again, my thanks to you for your help and support. With your help, maybe May will be the month for moving out West.

*****

If you like what you are reading, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your help and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Thoughts, Thoughts On Prayer, And An Update

Today, rather than deal with the world, I’m working on just dealing with myself and my world. Trying to get caught up after this latest medical issue, and that is not going quite as well as I would like.

Assuming it really is diverticulitis, I’m trying to figure out what that means for me going forward. Yes, I am having my GP check the diagnosis. It’s not that I don’t trust doctors, but I also know they are human and it is up to the patient to dig in, follow-up, and ride herd as needed. Despite what many of them seem to think, doctors are not God, nor gods. It pays to be an informed, consenting patient and if any doctor won’t give you the information you need for consent, get a new doctor. Again, if it is, no clue what set it off which is problematic to be polite. Also, the lists of things I should avoid appear to be mutually contradictory as one group says lots of fiber, etc. and another group says to avoid it like the plague. All I know is that I don’t want to go through this again so I’m exploring a bit cautiously in some respects.

I also want to thank all who have offered prayers for me. If I may share a bit, I would note that I do not pray for a particular outcome for myself or for others. It strikes me a a bit presumptuous to try to tell God what to do. God sees all areas of time and space, knows all, and otherwise has the knowledge and wisdom that go with the omnipotent and omniscient aspects of being God. God knows far better what is right for me as God can see outcomes and times yet to come. Also, praying for an outcome can be limiting.

To use a musical example, I could pray for a Mercedes because all my friends have something else. The response may very well be along the lines of ‘Well, I was going to give you a Lamborghini, but if this is what you really want…’ Place not limits on the Lord. Instead, open up the options. My standard prayer is along the lines of “let that which is right be” so that God can do what’s best and show me the right path.

Trying to get back to regular posting, but probably nothing will go up tomorrow. I try to make Sunday a literal day of rest and relaxation. If something major pops up, well, we will see but I hope to rest and recharge.

In terms of the fundraiser and move, I really do appreciate all the help and will explain a bit about what is needed and why. The trip out West drove home to me that I can’t move myself at this time. Most previous moves I’ve loaded up a truck and taken care of things. After the surgery, and with the arthritis kicking it up a notch, and all else going on, I had trouble getting the big suitcase in the car, much less trying to deal with anything else heavy. Unfortunately, the costs of professional movers is continuing to rise with the costs of fuel and hiring. Right now, I’m just hoping $3k comes close. I’m actually having to budget closer to $4k right now.

Funds are also needed to cover the costs of getting a place to live. I can’t buy at this time, but will have to rent. That comes with costs not limited to security deposits, utility deposits, application fees, plus the actual rent itself. To add to the fun, the car needs a bit more work so I’m having to budget for that as well. Part of me would love to win enough in the lottery to just buy a camper and live in it a while… Meantime, I’m having to budget about $5k given that there is a difference in the costs of living between locations and between here and there.

Also, I’m investing a bit in period clothing. I’ve been offered a job that requires dressing in 1880s clothing. So, I’m checking out what it would take to do it right, do it to get by, and otherwise exploring period clothing.

I also still have to pay my current bills, and I am no longer employed. With the BP still up in stroke range, it makes things most interesting. I left my former employer on very good terms, to the point that if I get out West and want to work at one of their other stores, I am to put in my application and have them call the location where I worked. I will miss what I did, but it is time to move on.

I really need to get on out there as soon as possible. To that end, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or do the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and for all the help and prayers that have been offered. Please know they are very much appreciated.

Moving Along?

I apologize for the long gaps, but the last few weeks have been interesting. My faithful laptop purchased in 2007 reached the limits of it’s abilities towards the end of January, and I got a new-to-me newer laptop. Along with dealing with the issues on the old, the new laptop won’t run the software from the old system (64 bit versus 32 bit). It also won’t do migration, so there has been a lot of very time consuming manual file transfer involving an external hard drive since none of the ports on the old computer work with the new generations of computer. Fun, fun, fun. For now, going to reconfigure the old computer for photo and video work, and am getting everything else set up on the new. Have to do that as the software people want me to buy everything new again, and that’s not in the current budget.

There continue to be health issues, including a positive test that forced me to isolate for a week. The blood pressure is still not under control, and I’ve had some life experiences that have reinforced to me that I can’t do a lot of things (yet) that I used to do.

On the good news front, I did get to the Southwest and loved it. I can’t begin to describe how much better I felt out there. It truly was amazing. Also, being able to go check things out in person resulted in some areas/opportunities being taken off the list, and a couple of new things added. In fact, I left with a most interesting job offer: dressing up in 1880s period clothing to interact with visitors about history and more. Pay isn’t great but I am very seriously considering it. Meantime, following up on some more traditional employment opportunities and continuing to refine things down with the goal of moving in as little as six weeks if I can raise the necessary funds.

For those interested, I have narrowed it down to two states. The first has decent ratings on various personal freedom/individual liberty indexes. The second is not as good, but there is some movement towards improvement. One state took itself out of consideration because of its low/red ratings. Within the first state, there are three locations under consideration right now, two semi-close together and the third being remote in almost every way. I really, really like the third location, but don’t see it right now as being a likely place for the initial move. The fourth location was a surprise as it was not on the list, but I liked it a lot and there are some job opportunities in the area that I hope to spend a good bit of time this week exploring. All locations have basic medical, and both air and ground transport to advanced medical care.

It’s going to be a busy few weeks, but if the next two are as productive as I hope they will be, a lot will get done. We’re about halfway on the fundraising goal, and with a bit more help, I can get a place to live and hire the movers to get me there. I’m not happy about having to hire the help, but life has reinforced (along with some friends) that I can’t do it (at least right now).

To everyone who has shared with me, and offered prayers, my thanks! It has all helped and made quite a difference. There are no good words to say how much I appreciate all the help and support, other than Thank You. So, Thank You!

BTW, if you don’t trust GiveSendGO after the hack, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right. Both will get to me, and it is all appreciated!

I’m Not Dead Yet

And at least I’m not on the cart at the mercy of Monty Python. Sorry for the long silence, but life has been interesting. I’m having computer problems, and it may be a week or two more before they are fully resolved. I’ve also dealt with testing positive for COVID and other issues. The cardiologist still can’t get the BP under control. All that said, there is a LOT of positive going on. I will share more soon, once the computer issues are fixed.

I know GiveSendGo is down right now, so feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right if you like. Prayers very much appreciated. Let’s also hope that GSG is back up soon.

Take care, and thank you all for the amazing support!

A Day Of Answers And Blessings

As a writer, you always wonder how much impact you have had with your work. If a book sells well, you know you’ve done something, even if you may not always be sure what you have done. With a lot of other work, stories and online posts, you never know and comments are an extremely unreliable thing. In fact, I will join with others and say never read the comments in posts or such about you and/or your work. That said, you always wonder if you have ever truly been able to reach even one person, for if you have, you have done at least some good in the world.

But, I have to admit that since the open heart surgery, I’ve been questioning my life and what, if anything, I’ve accomplished. Many of the normal things, like a wife and children, are not there for reasons that I won’t go into. I wanted them, and there is still time for marriage, though I am not sure I should have children. It’s been one of those times where you can get down, and when you do you might wonder if anyone will even show up at your funeral. Though I admit I want a wake to go with the funeral, so that if anyone does show up a good time is had by them all. I also still like the idea of a speaker for the dead…

I bring this up as this has been a day of answers and blessings for me. This morning, Sarah A. Hoyt wrote something at Instapundit that made it very dusty in here. The fact is, I had no idea about her reading me. When I began reading her, I didn’t have a clue she had already been reading me. Funny how things work out. Thanks to her, the fundraiser has taken off.

On top of that, it was a good day at Cardiac Rehab. I may not have had a heart attack, but my path back is much like that. We’ve had some things come up that are concerning, though some were not entirely unexpected. For example, it’s not unusual for your BP to go up as you start rehab. I was surprised and disappointed, however, at how high mine went. Not as bad as after the lightning strike, but bad enough. It’s been slow work getting it down, several medication changes. Today was the best BP in a while and while there is a long way to go it is coming down and I’m also starting to get a bit of stamina back (IMO).

There have also been some other issues that have come up. I won’t get into all of them, but will say that I was delighted when the cardiac monitor I have to wear for two weeks showed up today. It’s a cute little thing that has one part attached to my chest and a phone that pairs with it to monitor and record. Hopefully, it will help them figure out what else is going on and see what we can do about it. If it does not show any afib, whatever else it does show, it can help get me off one medicine — and getting off meds is a good thing.

A minor blessing of the day was waking up and not having some sinus issues as normal. Landlord put a humidifier in my room, and it has made a huge difference in breathing and in not shocking myself silly via static electricity. Small potatoes in some way, but it is a positive.

The other blessing of the day is getting all the prayers and messages of hope from people around the world. People who even if they could not donate, offered prayers for me. I very much believe that the prayers I got before the surgery are one reason I did so well.

It has been a day of answers and blessings, large and small. Thank you for them all. My thanks to higher have already gone out. May your day be blessed as well.

Update: Good, Mixed, WTF?

I like to start with the good, and the good news is that the fundraiser got off to a great start courtesy of an anonymous donor. Now, if more donations come in, things can get moving. Yes, a pun, couldn’t resist. Why a fundraiser? Here’s the post launching it that lays out what isn’t covered at the fundraiser itself. Again, if you don’t want to use the fundraising site but do want to help, hit the tipjar at the top of the page. All prayers appreciated.

On the mixed front, there may have been something good happen — but there’s no record of it. As I noted before, the insurance company denied all claims related to the ER and surgery. In short, the hospital filed the proper paperwork, but sent it to the wrong fax number. The next morning, the error was caught and corrected. However, it was the next morning and that broke the time limit they had to file. So, the insurance refused to cover anything. There are appeals in work, and I’m getting ready to file some appeals myself. However, the billing office of the one doctor who has billed me directly (so far) reports that they have been paid. Only problem is, I can’t find any record of it at the insurance company. Calling their customer disservice is useless 99 percent of the time, so wondering if they just haven’t updated things or just what is going on. Be nice to know before I file any appeals that may not be needed.

My WTF moment this week came from my visit to the Nurse Practitioner at the cardiologists office. As always, a ECG was run and glancing at part of it I thought it was off but didn’t get a good look and the NP didn’t say anything about it. She did talk to me about wearing a monitor for a few weeks, and if there was no afib, I could come off one of the meds I’m taking. That would be good. However, I do get all test results electronically and I’m thankful as the ECG was indeed abnormal and is likely the real reason for the monitor. I consider that a lie of ommission, and am not happy about it at all. At the same time, just hoping that this doesn’t indicate other problems that could keep me from returning to work/being able to work. Especially as we still have not gotten the BP back under control after it spiked when I started cardiac rehab.

That’s the week so far. Hope all of you are having a good one. So far so good on my goal of not getting hit by lightning again this year.