Posts Tagged ‘Health’


August 4, 2008

Still feeling the need to avoid thinking about the Divorce going on, so – –

A recent post of a fellow blogger reminded me of the caring sensitivity of those in the medical profession. And that reminded me of my experience with epididimitis. Those who have had it are likely cringing right now.

How did the GnuKid learn of this one and how will you learn? Well, kiddies, pull up a spot on the rug, set a spell, and hear my sad tale…

Thursday I got home from work and had a seat at the computer to catch up on e-mail. A strange ache started developing on the right side of my gut at the belt line. I repositioned myself in the chair, granting me temporary relief. But the ache came back and bordered on pain. In the back of GnuKid’s mind the shadowy specter of appendicitis starting whispering at the Worry Lobe of my brain. In the next hour, the pain increased and radiated downward.

It was time to go to the hospital.

Arriving at the emergency room, I felt very lucky to get back to a bed after only 15 minutes or so. Directed to undress and put on the famously fashionable hospital gown, I for the first time noticed that my ball sack was swollen. Now, that’s just not right. It’s usually the guy right next door to the ol’ scrotum that gets swollen.

I reached down and tentatively touched the swelling, only to stop immediately…it hurt.

The nurse comes back to ask if I’m in pain, since I was occasionally moaning (and not in that good way I like). Damn straight, lady, it hurts. She says she’ll ask the doctor for some pain medication.

The doctor shows up just a few minutes later…and she was a slammin’ hottie woman doc of the female persuasion. I’d say “Yee-HA!”, but things hurt too much for me to do more than just notice. She asked for the history, I told her. Her first inclination was the appendix as well, so she starts poking around my abdomen. And…the abdomen doesn’t hurt nearly so bad as before.

However, “the boys” down south in scrotumville are fussing at me something fierce. I let her know that and she pulls up my gown. Oh, dear God, yes, I would clearly have loved for this to have been a “Dear Penthouse: I never thought this would happen to me…” moment. But no. She immediately commented on the apparent swelling.

Okay, so here I am in pain from something that’s causing inflammation and swelling…so what does the lady doc do? Uh-huh…s-q-u-e-e-z-e… Holy Mother of Perpetual Needles Under the Fingernails! Damn, that hurt! Trying to be manly (HA!), I just clenched my teeth. Any other time, I would have been thanking the heavens to have a woman willingly handling my boy parts. But, not this time…

She was either a slow learner or in competition for the “Madame De Sade 2006” award, because she again… s-l-o-w-l-y… s-q-u-e-e-z-e-d. Fuck that “manly” shit… I hollered out that it hurt like a mother… (yeah, I maintained a modicum of decorum by not using the full—and correct for the circumstances—term ‘motherfucker’).

The good thing was I got some really good pain medication (yes, I still have a few… no, you can’t have any), so don’t remember much more about the evening / early morning.

After an ultrasound, they determined I was suffering from something called epididimitis (you were wondering when the hell I was going to get to that, weren’t you?). Us guys have a tube running around our balls called the epididymis…and mine was inflamed. Tests were negative for the bacterial causes: STDs (HA!! Not likely… that requires I’d actually been having sex… and not by myself!) and Urinary Tract Infection, so they marked it up to Prostatitis… the ol’ prostate just getting crabby with me.

Anti-inflammatory drugs ‘cured’ the inflammation, but I’m not sure even time can cure the memory.

So, be safe out there, kids… and watch the boy parts…


Health Issues – Recap

July 22, 2008

Yet another installment of “Who Needs Soap Operas When You Have Real Life” – –

Ed. Note: This post is written to wrap my own brain around all that’s been going on in my life the last 15 years. It is not intended to garner sympathy or validation from others (though I’d be lying to say I didn’t appreciate it). It’s really so I can recount my life experiences in order to validate my thoughts and move forward with my own life.

Okay, so let’s recap…

GnuKid’s marriage loses its heart and soul.

GnuKid and The Wife hit the counseling circuit, marriage and personal.

The Wife contracts leukemia.

GnuKid takes on caretaker role through leukemia treatment.

The Wife contracts toxoplasmosis.

GnuKid’s tenure as caretaker is extended.

Yep, that’s the quick summary of the last few posts (and some of you may be wishing I’d left it at that level of detail…tough, this isn’t about you…Nyaah!!).

The addendums: some other personal issues going on through this 15 year time frame which may have had a mild influence on my mental well being (presuming there was any to begin with)—

GnuKid’s left eye gets a detached retina. They have to pop it out, freeze dry the rips to keep them attached, put a band around the ol’ eyeball, and put it back. My vision is saved, but my prescription goes way up.

Most likely due to stress, GnuKid develops a bad case of Urticaria (otherwise known as “Hives”). Swelling (and not in the good place), itching, and general misery. This lasted about three months, during which there were quite a few meds.

GnuKid’s right eye gets a detached retina. First fix attempt is to pump a huge gas bubble into the eye to hold the rips against the eyeball, requiring me to lie face down for 48 hours. When that doesn’t work, they resort to lasers, welding the rips back into my eyeball.

Mom passed away.

GnuKid is diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy, an enlargement of the heart which reduces its effectiveness. (See? I knew I had a big heart.) Luckily, in my case it is mild and its effects are controlled with exercise and diet.

One of the hives medicines, a steroid, resulted in my developing nasty ass cataracts, first in my left eye, then a few months later in my right. Both cataracts removed surgically… thankfully on separate occasions. (On a good note to this, the doc inserted intraocular lenses which meant no more glasses [other than reading glasses which I would’ve ended up with anyway]! And, it adds a certain twinkle to my eyes as well!).

And you already know about my sister’s lung cancer (remission) and my brother’s brain cancer (still fighting)…

So… I think I’m quite ready for some health and happiness in my life, thank you very much – – –


Health Issues – Recovery

July 21, 2008

“Who Needs Soap Operas When You Have Real Life” continues – –

While still working towards the leukemia remission, the wife was also recovering from the toxoplasmosis talked about in the last post, which gave her stroke-like symptoms. She worked on doing better at the mundane tasks of daily life, but her real goal was to be able to drive again [blood runs cold here still]. Let me say that again… with problems with memory and controlling her right arm, hand, and leg, she wanted to drive again…

She convinced herself that all she needed to do was get a new pair of glasses to fix her vision and she would be cleared to drive. Not true, unfortunately. The challenge was getting basic skills relearned.

An example of the memory issues–while away on a business trip one time, I got a call from the Girl Child. “Mom drove today.” Undisguised panic and anger ensued from the GnuKid. Seemed The Wife ‘remembered’ that her oncologist (no, not her neurologist) had said she was good to drive. GnuKid called the oncologist who categorically denied giving any such approval. Rather, he confirmed that was the neurologists call. Once calm and home, I had to ask three times before The Wife would agree not to drive again before getting the neurologists okay.

Neurologist demanded therapy and training for that approval, not to mention the need to equip the family van with hand controls. Getting The Wife to practice her therapy was challenging to say the least. Girl Child was particularly Mom-like in getting her own mother to “do her chores”. There was improvement… slowly and not without understandable trauma. Some of the trauma was in the form of emotional outbursts at not being able to do things as easily as before. Other trauma was associated with relearning other daily tasks, for example, knife-sliced fingers or burned hands as she relearned her way around the kitchen.

While I thought I’d, thankfully, seen the last of the high school parking lot where Boy Child and Daughter Person did hour upon hour of driving practice on the way to their licenses, I found myself out there again with the Spousal Unit. Every practice found me gritting my teeth.

Finally, the neurologist approved her to attempt the driving test. After our last session of practice in the parking lot, I was convinced she wouldn’t be able to pass the test, but still deathly afraid she would. Off to the state license test facility. She left with the examiner and came back 15 minutes later in tears… I felt bad for her, but was secretly glad she wouldn’t be on the road. Imagine my shock and surprise, then, when I found the tears were of joy for passing her test. And more shock when she told me she’d actually flunked, but the examiner took pity and let her retry parts of the test.

But, on the positive side, this also meant she was returning to self sufficiency. Still a ways to go, she was nonetheless making progress. She could drive, she could shop, she could cook… basics for living.

Now, I’ve heard that some couples find that under the stress of a shared challenge they regain lost love and can renew their relationships. I actually was looking for that… and never found it. I felt like, and remain to this day, a caretaker of a sick person who happens to live with me.

Maybe not so obviously, but this also added a worry to my wanting to leave the relationship. Here I am, contemplating leaving a partially disabled woman. Not severely handicapped, but still… can I live with that (knowing full well she’ll be taken care of financially, if not emotionally).

It has been almost 14 years since the audible pop… almost 9 years from my finally deciding to go… a bit shy of 9 years since her leukemia diagnosis, 7 years since the toxoplasmosis; Continuing to deal with short term memory issues, stubbornness, and other recovery issues. All the while still struggling with my own demons of worry – about the kids, about what family and friends will think, about taking a chance again to be happy…

…but it is time…

Health Issues – Toxo

July 21, 2008

The next installment of “Who Needs Soap Operas When You Have Real Life” – –

Finally home after a difficult six-month recovery from the bone marrow transplant, The Wife still was considered at risk of the leukemia recurring. I was still committed to being a good caretaker to her until the prognosis improved.

Not long after returning home, she started showing strange symptoms. Walking a bit crooked… spilling drinks… and, what really drove it home, aphasia. This is word loss. She knows what to say, but can’t find the right word to express it. Previously, she never seemed to be at a loss for words.

She had recovered enough, prior to these new symptoms, to drive herself to the leukemia follow-up appointments. On seeing her the morning of one of those appointments, I suggested that maybe I should skip work and drive her in. Now, she is a very stubborn, independent person, so it actually scared me a bit when she didn’t immediately balk at my suggestion and just meekly replied, “…sure…”.

The moment the nurse saw her walking, that leukemia appointment went out the window and she went in for an immediate neurologic exam. Sent to the emergency room, they called for a CAT scan. Now, the hospital we went to at the time had a notoriously long wait for CAT scans… we got bumped to the front of the line only 20 minutes later. Whoa. This must be serious.

Sent off to another hospital, where they took another CAT scan. Both at my hospital and this new one, they found a couple smudges on the pictures of her brain. Blood tests were inconclusive, so they had to do exploratory brain surgery. Yoicks!

Then it took three days to find out – – – toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasmosis is a one-celled critter (parasite) that likes to party down in the lungs, eyes, or brain. It usually comes from, believe it or not, cat crap. Many people have it, but a healthy immune system can keep it quiet—sort of in stasis. Those with a compromised immune system, like a recovering leukemia patient, can have the thing all of sudden become active. And party down actively it did. In her case, it attacked two parts of the brain, one on the surface and one deep inside in the Thalmus. The surface one wasn’t any danger. The Thalmus one was nasty.

Treatment is Sulfadiazine in high dosages. The Wife is allergic to sulfa. Crap. Luckily, they can (and did) do a desensitization process.

But, nonetheless, by the time the Sulfadiazine took effect (taking longer than usual, per the doctors), the Thalmus was damaged…scarred. Now, the Thalmus is like the switchboard of the brain. The brain does the thinking and sends commands to the body, all via the Thalmus. The part that ended up scarred controlled her right side. She effectively presented symptoms as if she had a mild stroke… right side control issues… eyes involuntarily crossed… even some short term memory loss… and that aphasia was still there. Crap.

…looks like my caretaker status will have to be extended…

Did I mention, “Crap!”?

Or to use a new favorite phrase from Silverstar: “Fuckity-Fuck-Fuck!”

My Brother’s Battle

May 29, 2008

My recent visit to see my brother in Oklahoma was spurred by more than familial longing. I am not sure how much longer he will be with us. My brother has brain cancer.

I had written a detailed saga of his battle to post here. On re-reading it, I found it good for me to express it on paper, but I was pretty sure, for The Wilds of Ohio…hell, for me!… it would be a wet blanket… a moldy, smelly, wet blanket. GnuKid just can’t do that.

Rather, I still must fall back on the oldest and best defense mechanism known to man—thermonuclear war. Okay, not really…we’ve only known about that for about 70 years. No, I’m talking about that good old humor. How people can laugh in the face of danger and death amazes and emboldens me in life.

So, my brother was diagnosed a year ago after an MRI revealed a shadow in his brain. The doctors decided the best action was surgery to at least do a pathology on the cancer, if not remove it altogether.

I was on the telephone with my brother prior to that surgery, discussing what to expect and offering him hope and encouragement. I guess he didn’t think I believed what I was telling him. So he attempted to reassure me—

“Don’t worry, it’s not like this is brain surgery… oh… wait…”.

They removed a portion of the skull to get at the brain and, at the end of the operation, screwed it back in place. There was my chance at a comeback. On phone calls since, I’m sure to occasionally throw in—

“Ahh, you just have a screw loose.”

My brother’s battle continued, through a second occurrence and radical surgery in January where they removed most of his right temporal lobe.* My brother’s reaction then?—

“I need this surgery like I need a hole in my head.”

I think my family carries a gene… or a full chromosome… for bad and bizarre humor. But, it’s kept us afloat through trying times. And I am thankful for it.

… and, now, a just diagnosed third re-occurrence. [heavy sigh] But, I’m sure our humor and love will carry us through whatever happens…


*And I was utterly amazed that he was on his feet and discharged just 3 days after major brain surgery.

Nursing Home Camp

May 15, 2008

Yeah, yeah…blogs are supposed to be stuff you write. But this was too good not to share—

A friend of mine on the management staff of a Nursing Home sent me this missive on great fun at her Home.

I am many years away from needing a nursing home, but after reading this, I am so ready to go now!


Hi GnuKid,

We are celebrating Nursing Home Week in our usual over-the-top manner at Friends. This year we’ve taken our residents to Camp Run-A-Muk. Everyone is on a team – Red Rattlers, Dancing Deer, Lil Stinkers, Horny Toads, and Groovy Grizzlies (my team) – and we have bandanas with our team colors. Every other team has a single color, but the Groovy Grizzlies have tie-dyed bandanas (that’s why we’re groovy)! On Monday we had a cookout with sing-along and storytelling around the campfire. Well, not exactly! Due to the rain we moved inside, so there wasn’t really a fire. The fire pit we had dug outside was full of water – more like a little pool!

Yesterday morning the teams participated in a scavenger hunt. Staff paired up with wheelchair-bound residents, and we were racing all over campus in search of our prizes. The residents laughed and laughed, and the staff got some badly needed exercise! In the afternoon we had karaoke and a visit from Elvis. Last night the casino and bingo hall opened so the residents could win Friends Bucks to spend in the gift shop.

Today we had all kinds of camp crafts, as well as a visit by 6 exotic birds and parrots. Tonight we are having an Eastern European dance troupe, followed by a drive-in (wheelchairs, not cars) movie, “Ernest Goes to Camp.” Tomorrow is field day, and the contests include watermelon seed spitting, horseshoes, corn toss, and pin the tie on the administrator. In the evening we are having a luau, complete with REAL pig, and then a talent show featuring Tapcats [Ed. Note: an amateur tap-dancing troupe], residents, and staff. On Friday we have our special brunch in which residents are served made-to-order Belgian waffles, omelettes, and tons of other great breakfast foods – always a highlight of the week!

I’ve been very busy embellishing tote bags for the gift shop. Last week we all picked up lots of tote bags at the OHCA convention, and I covered the company logos (mobile x-ray, pharmacy, etc) with decorative fabrics. The residents love tote bags, and that is an inexpensive way to provide them! Most of my cat bags have already “sold.” I also helped with the decorating and am taking photos (300+ so far) and printing them daily – the residents really get a kick out of seeing them posted so soon. Tonight I’m a car hop for the movie, so I’d better get dressed soon. I’m wearing roller blades – the residents got such a kick out of them the last time I wore them.