Monday, September 23, 2013

Mick McKellar Update — Day +945

It's a beautiful fall day in the Keweenaw — sunshine, temps near 60 degrees F, and a light breeze from the southwest make for one of those days you just want to go for a walk in the woods. So, naturally, I remain indoors, hiding from excessive sunlight because several of my medications require I avoid exposure to the sun. My doctors have also warned against visiting with old Sol because of his tendency to cause various and sundry forms of skin cancer — a very real possibility because of my compromised immune system.

If I can drag my carcass out of bed, I take my walks (with Dante) early in the morning, when the shadows are still long and there is plenty of shade from the mean old sun. If I don't take him out between my first set of medications (taken on an empty stomach) and my second set of morning meds (taken with food), Dante will bark at me — like Lassie telling everyone that Timmy fell in a well — and run to the front door. At the front door, he stares at me, then at his leash, and then at the door. If I don't respond, he will repeat the process, getting more frantic each time.

For the moment, we walk about a mile each morning. There are days I cannot make the walk, and he is disgruntled with me for the rest of the day. On those days, Dante will walk to the door, sit down, stare wistfully at the door, and then stare balefully at me. Amanda's dog is trying to send me on a guilt trip — go figure.

A Tooth, Forsooth...
On September 11th, I traveled to Marquette for a root canal by an endodontist (a dentist that specializes in root canals), because a regular dentist won't try a root canal on me — I'm too much of a package, I guess. I had to choose between having the tooth removed by a dental surgeon, or having the root canal. Although it is a tooth I don't use (no other tooth meshes with it), I chose the root canal because it is less invasive and the risk of infection is much lower. The root canal was an apparent success, with most of the pain centered much lower on my body.

The endodontist does not participate with my insurance (Delta Dental), so I had to pay the whole bill up front and wait for reimbursement, which the dental assistant said is usually about 70%. I got the check...for 50%. When on a fixed income, this kind of unplanned for expense wreaks havoc with one's bottom line. Ah, well, another bump in the road...

Testing, Testing, 1 - 2 - 3...
My monthly blood tests, done on September 17th, show readings consistent with those for the last two years — no indications of problems — which I find reassuring. A new test, requested in this last batch, determines the fluoride level in my system. I've had some bone pain, mostly phantom stuff (ouch! and gone...ouch! and gone, etc) and the doctors at Mayo Clinic ordered the test because certain medications can result in higher fluoride levels — which can cause such pains. There's always something.

Loving Life
It's easy to complain about small stuff, like pain in a bone (or in the wallet), but only because it is just so wonderful that I wake up each morning — still alive and functional. I have not stayed in a hospital since last February — a great pleasure for me, and a grand relief for Marian, who spent so many hours in waiting rooms and on uncomfortable chairs in hospital rooms. My perception about what is important in life has changed dramatically after avoiding three close calls with leaving it. I am learning to live with my new limitations and not get angry and frustrated when I have to stop because of my minimal lung capacity. It's like getting angry because the hair on my head is more decorative than protective these days — pointless. I just put on a hat and a smile...and walk (slowly) out the door.

Good day and God bless,