Thursday's Child ... has far to go ... (0nm10wn2feet) wrote,
Thursday's Child ... has far to go ...

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How I spent my summer vacation?

No, not really.  I don't think I've had a vacation in about 15 years.  Not what *I* would call a vacation anyway.

So, I left off with the monster storm and the loss of my beloved connection to the outside world.  Life just seemed to go on fast forward after that, seriously.  My mother-in-law had a number of tests and doctor's appointments that she needed some moral support with, then I had another stupid colonoscopy.  Yippie Skippy, huh?  Those are ALWAYS among the most fun medical procedures.  NOT.  Unfortunately, it became necessary because, despite resuming my Ulcerative Colitis medication, my 'symptoms' didn't lessen as they should have.  Blarg.

Shortly after that, we had to pack up everything and haul for the Northwoods for the annual 4th of July family get-together in Grand Marais.  Golly Jeepers, that was tons of fun too.  No, seriously, it really was interesting this time.  We spent more time than I thought we would with MSK's brother and his daughter Annie - and the kids discovered that their cousin is a real person.  Hallelujah for family, right?  Got the lowdown on all the other relatives and their doings, trials and tribulations.  Everyone is still limping along, but it's gotten progressively more difficult for some of them.  I have to say, though, after over 25 years in this family, I never thought I'd be sitting down to dinner with Uncle Don (MSK's uncle) at the table.  That was a most pleasant surprise.

When we returned from that, I got lost somewhere along the way.  Both of the kids and I had appointments to see the GP in the weeks after our return - them for anti-depressants that we couldn't get from our psychiatrist anymore and me for anti-ADD drugs.  In the course of that, we discovered that my blood pressure is STILL too high, so I'm now taking blood pressure medication.  Wowzers, that thrilled me all to heck.  Another pharmacy bill.  Whee - SHOOT ME NOW!!  And I discovered that I couldn't see my gastroenterologist until this month (last week, in fact) so I had no clue what the colonoscopy turned up, but the 'symptoms' were still a problem.

The horses proceeded to make life difficult by regularly escaping our pasture.  That became an extreme problem when the horse causing the havoc decided that he could run through the neighbor's fence as well, letting their horses escape.  Unfortunately, my neighbors don't put their horses out with halters on them, so catching them in a "wild horse round-up" becomes even more problematic.  My old horse, Socks, is the type that believes that, if there was a fence there yesterday, there's a fence there today, regardless of whether or not that's true.  Not so my younger horse, Doc.  That idiot likes to lean on the fence between the neighbor's pasture and ours, eventually stressing the wire to the breaking point, then going over for a visit.  I think it's perfectly hilarious that his registered name is "Docs Trouble Free." *snort*  Isn't he CUTE???  A better question would be "Why isn't he DOG MEAT already?" *grumble*  Stupid animal.

We finally had to go down the entire length of the fence (over 1/4 mile) between the two pastures and clear any semblance of brush, which happened to include cutting down a couple of trees, removing old tree limbs, vines, bushes, and a bunch of ugly prickery things.  In 90 degree heat.  And humidity.  When I felt like crap.  I almost passed out at one point, but managed to pace myself so that I could also 'harvest' some of the stone crop that has sprung up in the pasture over the past few years.  More fun, eh?  I haven't had that much "fun" in ages.

Around the same time, our red raspberry patch was being particularly 'fruitful.'  Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE raspberries.  With UC, though, they don't love me back.  But the berries still needed picking on a daily basis.  In addition to that, the wild black raspberries that grow like weeds around our property were also bearing heavily.  One just can't look free fruit in the mouth, y'know?  So every day, there went a couple hours just wandering from one patch of wild berries to another to harvest 'nature's bounty.'  All these wonderful outdoor activities didn't lend themselves to time spent in front of the 'puter.  Nor did I have the energy left when I finally DID have the time.

Then throw the cars into the mix.  Wow, do I LOVE owning 3 automobiles that have over 100,000 miles on them.  NOT.  We discovered that my truck had a flat right after getting home from the north land.  Not only did it have a huge hole in it, but it had very little tread, along with two screws AND a nail stuck in it.  It's a wonder we even made it home.  Said dead tire is still sitting on the side of the garage awating replacement while we run the truck without a spare (those stupid 20" tires cost almost $200 EACH).  Steven found an interesting thing when he went to check the air filter on Jessa's truck - a mouse nest in the air box.  Hmmm, think that had something to do with the poor gas mileage??  MSK's car suffered another minor meltdown... the alternator died - again.  The Goodyear store thought it had something to do with the bad battery.  THAT was another $500 bill.  The real kicker came, though, when the transmission started acting up on him on his way home the very next day.

Mind you, the man has an almost two hour drive each day to AND from work in Port Huron.  He didn't feel like getting stuck on the freeway in the midst of rush hour traffic.  He's done that before when he worked in Detroit and, needless to say, that wasn't a lot of fun.  So, we took it over to our usual mechanic, who refused to touch our little Mercury 'Mistake' (Mystique) with a ten-foot pole.  It seems that those cars are notorious for being extremely hard to diagnose AND fix.  So he sent us to a transmission place, which, coincidentally, had just finished a similar job on another of the little beasties the week before we showed up there.  The initial estimate?  $450 JUST to take it apart and really diagnose the problem.  Whew.

While we were waiting for them to tear THAT apart, my beloved Dodge Ram truck... old reliable itself... the only vehicle we own that DOESN'T have over 100,000 miles on it... started making the most GODAWFUL screeching noise I've ever, in my 38 years behind the wheel, heard.  Since the 'monetary damage' to the 'Mistake' wasn't known, we parked the truck and waited, knowing that the problem with it was likely in the over $200 range (bearing on the compressor for the A/C).  To our intense shock, the repairs to the 'Mistake' totaled over $2,600.  I went into a SEVERE depression for a few days after that... Ok, more than a few.  More like a whole week.  We're already skating on thin ice financially.  I've been sending out resumes faithfully, but not connecting with what the labor market is looking for, I guess.

The 'Mistake' was in the shop for over three weeks.  The downside was that I was stuck here without a vehicle until someone came home from work each day, unless I wanted to risk more damage to my truck.  The upside was that, since MSK had to take the 'Danger Ranger,' it still ran (and ran well) and that it was the middle of summer and stayed light later, since it still had one headlight out and one mis-aimed from Jessica's last accident.  The day we got the 'Mistake' back, I drove straight to a store, since we were severely out of groceries.  Unfortunately, the 'replacement' battery that the Goodyear store put in the 'Mistake' had a bad cell and I couldn't get the damn thing to start again at the store.  In the middle of the day.  With MSK two hours away and Steven where I couldn't call him at work.

Now, a little background.  My daughter is an incredibly bright child.  Eccentric, but very bright.  She just isn't big on the common sense and drives like pure SHIT.  Sorry, but that's the god's honest truth.  I had to call home (three times before she got out of bed) and tell her to drive MY poor, abused truck to the store so we could jump-start the Merc.  She hits enough things by misjudging the size of her little Ranger - I was nearly having a heart attack imagining what she could do with MY full-sized, four-door Ram.  She made it there, though, and all was well... until she ran into a shopping cart trying to park the Ram.  I just cringed and kept my mouth shut.

We got the car started and my truck home without further problems, thank goodness.  The next day, MSK took the car back to the Goodyear store and got a brand new battery - one that worked this time.  Then the search for junkyard parts for my truck was underway.  In the process, they (MSK & Steven) managed to dredge up a junkyard headlight assembly for the 'Danger Ranger,' so that was good.  They DIDN'T, however, find a compressor for my truck, though, so that was BAD.  Fortunately, MSK seems to have an abundance of time while at work, to surf the internet.  It never ceases to amaze me, after he's just gotten done telling me how hard he had to work during the day, to hear how many websites he managed to visit (non-work related) during the course of said "busy" day.  Piffle.

Anyway, he found one at a parts place relatively near where he works, and got it for about $100 less than he would have paid new.  Then he & Steven proceeded to take my truck apart.  Believe me, my hubby is a wonderful man, a good provider and father, but I cringe every time he TOUCHES one of the automobiles.  He tends to try to apply his manufacturing background to auto mechanics, and it hardly ever works out the way he thinks it should.  In this case, though, he was (incredibly) right on the money.  Unfortunately, the 'check engine' light is still on, but we suspect that has something to do with the fact that we didn't plug the compressor back in (all the coolant came out when they took the old one off).  Time will tell.

In amongst all of this, we had a scare with MSK's dad.  A couple weeks ago, he had to have emergency surgery for a perforated colon.  In the Upper Peninsula.  For those that don't know Michigan, that equates to the wilderness of the Old West, just about.  Especially on the Lake Superior shoreline, where Grand Marais is located.  The nearest medical facility is either in Newberry or Munising - both are over 1 hour's drive from Grand Marais, even by ambulance.  The nearest MAJOR medical facility is in Marquette - over 2 hour's drive.  When he first started having trouble, they called the ambulance right away and took him to Newberry, which is 1 hour EAST of Grand Marais.  Newberry couldn't handle a problem that big with an 87 year-old man, so they transferred him to Marquette, which is 2 hours WEST of Grand Marais.  Thus, with a still-perforated colon, that poor man had to ride over FOUR HOURS to finally get treated.

They performed surgery that night, but it was touch and go for a while.  They weren't sure he'd survive the surgery.  Then they weren't sure there wouldn't be complications from the contamination in his abdomen.  THEN they had him in the cardiac unit for a few days because of an irregular heartbeat.  They still aren't sure he's going to recover enough to do any meaningful self-care.  He's been released from the hospital, but he can't walk, he has an 'ostomy' bag, and he can't even sit up without assistance.  MSK's mom is over 83 and has enough health problems to gag the proverbial maggot as well; high blood pressure, diabetes, joint problems and "mini-strokes," technically known as TIAs.

Fortunately, MSK's sister, brother & nephew all live in Grand Marais, along with his Uncle Don and several other extended family members.  UNfortunately, WE are the only relatives living in this area - and our house is about 45 minutes from their condo.  May heaven forgive me, but I'm desperately hoping that they keep his father in the nursing home up there until he's able to handle himself.  And then, I'm hoping even more that the family prevails upon them to stay longer.  I can't afford to drive 1 1/2 hours more than twice a week on what we're making now.  Even that would be a strain, with all the bills this summer's 'adventures' have run up.  But I also know that my mother-in-law can't handle her problems AND his.  Only the powers that be know how THIS story will play out.

The latest piece of 'news' came last week from the gastroenterologist.  You know things aren't the best they could be when he comes into the room shaking his head.  You get the feeling that stuff isn't too great when he sighs and says that you're causing him to think and it hurts.  Evidently, my colonoscopy showed conflicting results yet again, although he COULD now be positive that my colon condition was deteriorating.  Wow, that's a comfort, huh?  Although, he did say that, on a scale of 1 - 10, with 10 being the worst, I'm only on the "high side of 2."  That's even more comforting!  So, we still don't know, conclusively, whether I actually have Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative Colitis.  Terrific.  Peachy.  I can't begin to tell you how thrilled I am about that.  Oh, and one other little tidbit that he slipped in was that I was (or still am, who knows?), evidently, bleeding somewhere internally.  I guess my bloodwork showed that I had a plethora of "immature" red blood cells, indicating that the system is overloaded trying to make more.  HOO-RAY!!

See why it takes me so long to actually go see those people?  I mean those medical people??  He discussed the problems with my diagnosis, saying that there's a blood test that could conclusively show what my problem is, but it costs some astronomical amount and most insurance companies won't pay for it.  So, he sent me on my way with an increase in my dosage on the colitis meds and an appointment to check in sometime around December.  THAT'S gonna help me get a job, isn't it?  I mean, I'm usually stuck in the damn bathroom for upwards of an hour or so at least once a day - try explaining that to a new employer.  Yeah, right, that would go over REAL well.  Crap.

So, there you have it, friends.  In one fell swoop of written diarrhea, the chronicle of the past couple of months.  Aren't you thrilled?  Aren't you GLAD I updated THAT??  Don't you wish I wasn't on your friend's list now???  Frankly, I'd be amazed if ANYONE on my friend's list read all that.  I mean, honestly.  Anyway, I'm still limping along from day to day (or is that LURCHING along from crisis to crisis?), but since it was my B-day yesterday, I decided to give myself a present and preserve all this fun for posterity.  Or until I die, whichever comes first!! *snicker*

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