I’ve been ‘disabled’ since I was age 12. Legg Calve’ Perthes disease destroyed the cartilage and bone in my right hip, and was starting to attack my other hip and both knees. After much failed experimentation, ‘they’ were able to stop the advancement. ‘They’ decided the best course of action was to cast me, fusing my right leg at the hip. In 1966.
So my right leg is substantially shorter than my left, and fused at the hip.
I’ve lived my life this way. I’m used to it.
And, anyway, a hip replacement is elective and expensive.
In spite of this (in my youth), I ran, played, jogged, walked, took Kenpo karate, lifted weights…all manner of things!
Sadly, this disability kept me from joining the military or becoming a cop. Childhood dreams dashed.
But, in spite of my limitations, I never felt, well, disabled.
Yes, sometimes ‘it’ got in the way (like needing leg room to drive – straight leg, and all), but it never kept me from most things. I usually avoided wearing ‘Ed Sullivan-the really big shoe’* when I was younger, because I thought it made me look crippled. Which I was.
And I rarely felt sorry for myself. Well, sometimes.
But Life brought the addition of a serious car accident, diabetes and lymphoma, all potentially more lethal.
And Diffuse Type B Cell Lymphoma is listed as the ‘official’ reason for my Social Security Disability Income.
As of age 58.
And I am still here, now approaching age 64. Wearing ‘Ed’ more often.
My roommate J. has been having her own health issues for many years. They needn’t be enumerated here. Surgery pending on some. Suffice it to say we don’t get to gun shows much, anymore. Too much walking.
But she never asked for one of those disabled mirror hangers! I obtained one a while back, and we kept in in her car, as she does most of the driving, her car being in better shape then mine.
She finally remembered to ask her primary care doc for the form to get one! And got hers!
This meant I got to have and use mine for the first time the other day!
It’s official – I’m a gimp!
(Sadly, not the exceptional book by Paul Brickhill, nor the film based on it by John Sturgis)
I rent-a-room from my ex-gf J. We dated a few years ago for about four years, and have remained friends. Hell, she offered me a room in which to land when I lost my home!
The point being, we have been acquainted for going on eleven years(!) And I with her menagerie – a smattering of chihuahuas and cats. Some of whom have passed on (Mike was a terrific boy kitty!). Others remain, and continue to age.
Fooling us into complacency.
The drill used to be to make certain the gate from the back yard into the parking lot was secure, because DYLAN could escape. And has.
When I first met Dylan (which I privately spell Dillon – gun folk will get it), she was three, and very animated and active.
And she did get loose a couple of times, running willy-nilly, constantly checking for pursuers over her shoulder and laughing. She was a rescue dog, and had probably lived on the street for some time. Of course, the main fear was she’d run into the street and get killed.
Now, she’s going on 15-years-old, and has an arthritic back leg. Spends most of her time sleeping, sometimes with one eye pealed for the cats or the puppy. She moves kinda slow.
We were alerted by the (evil) HOA to keep our back gate unlocked (an impossibility, due to the spring-loaded lock) lest they need access to make ‘authorized’ repairs and improvements. For a specific three day period. And we were used to the gate being closed and secure.
So we had to leave it ajar for the three days.
I wasn’t worried. Dylan could barely walk, and D.J. (the happy boy idiot dog) wouldn’t leave, regardless. And Lola (the puppy) generally used paper inside by the back door. (She was a showgirl, ya know!)
Part of the morning routine was to check the backyard for maintenance folk, close the gate, THEN let the critters out. But the habit, based on years of programming, was just let them out.
You can see where this is going, can’t you?
I let them out, then looked up to see the gate still ajar about a foot. I wasn’t worried.
Then, Dylan looked at me and bolted out the gate like a shot! I quickly ran (well, relatively quickly) and called to her. There she was, as if she were again three, running away, looking over her shoulder at me.
I let D.J. back inside, secured Lola in her kennel and yelled to J that Dylan was loose. She ran out back with her car keys. I searched the opposite direction on foot.
J. is asthmatic. Going to her car is her best bet. I’m crippled. Hobbling slowly after a very fast
puppy old lady dog is the best I could do.
Dylan did her best to stay about 60 feet ahead of me, even taking time for a ‘rest stop’ – just to mock my pursuit! J. drove around the parking lot slowly, searching. After about 15 minutes, I chased her to Judy, who scooped her up into her car and went home!
She ended up running a few hundred yards. Which I ended up walking. Slowly and painfully.
The important things are Dylan is back home safe, Judy is breathing okay, and I have additional pain medication.
Here is Dylan, after her little ‘adventure’.
A number of folks close to me have pre-deceased me. And with some (not all) it would be nice to have another 15 minutes.
Or a day.
My Mother, who passed when I was in the Second Grade. My maternal grandfather, Gramp, when I was 24. Of course my daughter Molly, when she was 12…
And a couple of others.
But, I’ve never had that kind of spiritual connection. And I’m a little envious of those who have!
My friend Bob – who saw a vision of his mother in the moment of her passing. Five miles away!
A girlfriend who saw ‘something’ resembling my deceased dog Ilsa wandering around my house.
My daughter had a childhood friend and neighbor who awakened one night to see a black cat outside on her closed window sill. My daughter loved cats. And the cat opened her mouth and laughed, sounding just like my daughter! Of course, this could have been a dream – except the girl’s mom ran into her room and exclaimed, “I heard her, too!” This was about one month after Molly’s passing.
But for me, bupkis.
I like to think I’m a spiritual guy. Perhaps I am, but just not in that way.
I’m sitting here this morning (actually, a couple of days ago), doing my morning routine: shower, dress, morning rituals, medications, the all-important diet soda, the GiA blog, reading other blogs, news and emails…
Waiting for the stopping point. When my muscle pain and diabetic neuropathy kick in! Sometimes in an hour, sometimes more.
Pain in my extremities, feet, legs and even hindquarters. From SITTING for chrissake!
AND, I already took medications!
And I remember being young. Well, younger…
Lifting weights, walking long distances, jogging, karate – even with a fused hip! And the hot shower accompanied by perhaps a couple aspirin did the trick.
Well it did in my 30’s.
But alas, no more.
And I remember older people from my youth, whining and complaining about this pain or that ailment, and me having no understanding.
And even thinking it was funny.
Karma IS a heartless bitch!
And then I think of Bob, a recent 1/2 leg amputee currently braving throat cancer, and my attitude improves…
Gratitude, my friends, is the key!
I was able to communicate with one of the many Bobs in my life last night. (Long-time readers know I’ve many friends named Bob and Dave. One childhood friend was even named Robert Davidson!)
The dear friend with whom I was a private investigator, and later worked together in a firearms emporium.
The one who lost the lower 12″ of his left leg due to diabetic complications. And almost lost his life.
Fortunately, things are going well as can be for him.
He’s been using a prosthesis now for about six weeks! He still has need of a wheelchair or a walker for some life activities.
The most important thing is he is active, continuing to test his limits, and has a terrific attitude.
One daughter is preparing to graduate from a local university; the other from Northwestern.
He is most proud.
I’m proud of him for his ongoing attitude. I’ve my own health issues – And he continues to show me that attitude is everything.
Thank you, Robert!
The really big shoe, the sequel!
I’ve been in need for a replacement big shoe for over seven months, now. Bought the shoes, but simply didn’t have the funds to get the orthopedic build-up needed.
Until a couple weeks ago.
I now present to you, Ed Sullivan II, the sequel!
I’m still sick. Have spent most of the past three days in bed. Am planning on going into Urgent Care this morning. (This, after checking to make certain they took Medicare – some don’t – and that they don’t expect their 20% up front.)
Which is good, because I probably don’t have it.
The interesting thing in all this (to me, anyway) is that my temperature (which tends to run about a degree low, anyway) has been all over the map. Starting on Thursday @ 102°, then varying degrees of 101° on Friday and Saturday. It was even 99° – something one time!
And all I’ve been taking is a cough suppressant, which doesn’t work especially well…
(My own doc wants me to lay off the IB, as I’ve been eating them by the hands full for years!)
I do feel better at 99° than at 102°. Duh.
So, we shall see.
(Post UC visit – apparently, I’ve bronchitis (among other issues). I was chest x-rayed, breathing tested, steroid injected, and given antibiotics and an inhaler, and sent on my way. I’m feeling MUCH better, and my temp is much closer to normal. HUZZAH! Thanks for all your kind comments and emails!)
And now, to make good the promise of the blog post title…THE THREE DEGREES!
I was fortunate to have pizza (and salad) delivered for lunch! (This was last week.)
Was NOT so fortunate to have taken yet another strong pain med today – this is probably 10 days I’ve needed the ‘extra’ medication above-and-beyond the daily pain med I take. For diabetic neuropathy and arthritis pain.
There have been weeks I’ve not needed to take any!
And, I chose to have one (one) bottled beer with my lunch. A special white chocolate brew. (I wasn’t driving anywhere.)
And after lunch I took a nap.
And this is what I dreamt…
HUGE numbers of people lining every street,and our troops advancing down the street.And the people trying to stop their advance!I don’t know why they were advancing, or why we were trying to stop them.But, it wasn’t pretty.Libertarian nightmare?
I posted a few days ago regarding losses – specifically the loss of my daughter, and a good friend’s loss of most of his lower left leg and foot.
Hardly an upbeat read.
However, Life is not just loss. Life also gives us lessons!
Since I heard from my good friend Bob regarding his diabetic amputation surgery, I’ve tried to contact him. We exchanged texts initially a couple of times, and he advise me he would call.
I feared the worst.
So, I took it upon myself to call him. Not to incessantly badger him (thinking he was busy enough) but once a week, just to check-in on him and his condition. And attitude.
And I ended up leaving messages. And this concerned me.
Bob returned yesterday’s message last night. I needn’t have been concerned.
Bob – (my former PI and gun store boss) was in great spirits! YES, he did lose his left foot and about 12″ of lower leg. And yes, he has a long, painful recovery and rehab ahead.
But he was not only doing physically well – he was doing well emotionally and spiritually, too!
Now, Bob would be the first to tell you he is not a religious guy. And not the most spiritual. But he almost lost his life to sepsis, and took his survival to mean he is supposed to remain here a while longer.
And not wallow in his losses.
He is fortunate to have the great support of his wife and two daughters. And his brother. And he reminded of previous losses and near-death experiences he has suffered.
AND HE SEES THIS AS YET ANOTHER CHANCE TO REDEEM HIMSELF!
Or, in the words of his parents (both deceased), “Put on your big boy panties and get on with it!”
And his is and has.
And, he reminded me (indirectly) that I have similar lessons. I, too, have had losses, and near-death experiences. And I have wallowed. Or more specifically whined.
I might lose some benefits. So what? Big boy panties are available for the wearing.
Bob has set an example for me to try and emulate.
(If you abhor whining, read no further)
First, my former employer TMCCC contacted me regarding applying for early retirement. I’m currently medically retired due to my contracting lymphoma in 2008. I left active employment in 2009, after six months of chemo.
Obviously, the sooner they can nudge me out, the less pension they will have to pay. And current calculations are not very promising, regardless of my retiring now or @ 65.
So, it wasn’t a complete surprise when my private medical insurance carrier (thank GOD I paid the premiums when I was working!) contacted me to update their information.
This means contacting my physician with regard to my current condition and ability to work.
In spite of the fact I was awarded SSDI and private disability due to having cancer, I have many other conditions which make returning to the workforce problematic. Even though I AM currently in remission! (knock-on-wood!)
Working while diabetic is no biggee, working with the neuropathy (chronic nerve pain) that comes with it – not so much. And the arthritis. There was a time I could stand and sit for long hours. No longer. Now, sitting more than an hour or two is painful. Forget standing and walking much.
Oh, I can (and do) take various prescription pain medications. Which make me dopey and put me to sleep. And still only lessen the pain. They do not take it away.
And my fear is the private insurance company will say, well, you have been in remission over 5 years…SAYONARA!
And the private addition to my SSDI payment isn’t much, but it is 21% of my disability pay. And the total is still poverty level.
I rent a room in a friend’s home, and drive a clunky 2000 Oldsmobile. I lost my home of 18 years, 2 1/2 years ago. I’m not milking the system here.
And now I get to jump through more hoops in hope of keeping that 21%.