Thursday, January 6, 2011

MY ILLNESS DOES HAVE A NAME


My terrible rash that stated the whole process

The old sick man after 16 days has dragged himself to the highest dune. What is he asking for? Is that two legged critter an alien?


White Sands, New Mexico Nov 2010

This is the sixteenth day I have been ill. It has not been a fun time for any of us but I have to say how thankful we are for our family and friends who’ve come through time after time for us. And of course my wonderful wife who is burdened with so much more work especially dealing with the medical insurance and pushing the right buttons with the medical establishment. I tried to keep my daily journal up as much as I could throughout so I have some awareness of each day. I last posted that I didn’t have Valley Fever, or at least in the doctor’s opinion. Well, that old fraud should not be on call in emergency! He said about the only way he would consider me a candidate if I were a black man.

On New Year’s Eve, Aileen managed to get me in to see a nurse practitioner at the clinic at our front gate. He immediately sent me to the hospital for a chest x-ray and a battery of blood tests. One of his prime candidates was Valley Fever. Yesterday I was called back to the clinic and given the definitive diagnosis of Valley Fever. I have to take pills twice a day for quite some time with blood work on a regular basis to make sure the liver continues to function correctly. Valley Fever is caused by a mold in the ground that causes a fungal growth in the lung. I was caught in a nasty dust storm Nov 20 but I was also involved in digging post holes for our RV cover after that. I guess there will be no way to know for sure how I contracted it.

I have to go for a cat scan of my right lung tomorrow morning as there was a mass noted on the chest x-ray. From there we will have to visit a lung doctor on Monday to get that all checked out. The big problem is when one goes back to Canada where the disease is relatively unknown, if they see a growth in the lung they immediately want to start cutting. It’s important to establish what is my new normal for my lungs.

I’m starting to feel a little better today and would dearly love to get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. I’ve been feverish and thirsty for so long that I am drinking a lot. Of course that means I have to pee lots. For the past several nights that has translated into 40-60 minutes of sleep followed by a rush to the toilet than a visit to the fridge. I’ve been craving cold water which I used to avoid. The cold seems to cool my chest down.

Here’s my recall of the night of January 1. It was another horrible night. Pee and drink then pop a cough candy. And then some time in the middle of the night, I thought I was going to be violently ill. Aileen suggested deep breathing and that finally headed it off. Then came a period when I thought I was completely cured. I lay there making great plans for when morning came. I felt like we had gone in and twigged my metabolism somehow fooling the disease into leaving. How sad the truth was to be! I lost over 12 pounds during my ordeal but am stating to gain it back with all the liquid and a bit of solid food.

And now on to the good Samaritans who have rescued us several times these past few days. I told Aileen to go to Bud and Arlenes 60th anniversary party and enjoy herself. She did and stayed almost two hours. It was nearly six when she returned and started making supper. After only a minute or two, the power blew in the park model. I went out and found one tripped breaker. However, that didn’t cure it. Aileen finally got Jack, a neighbour, to have a look and he managed to restore part of the power. No stove but the fridge worked. He thinks one of the main breakers is faulty and will check it out in the morning. Of course my going out in the damp cold brought on lots of coughing. Man, just when you think things can’t get worse, something pops up to tell there is. We had an extension cord plugged in under the table running the internet and pole lamp. So we survived that way for a couple of days then on New Year’s Day my Uncle Jim and Jacquie went to Casa Grande and managed to find the only two breakers there were and buy them. That didn’t cure the problem. Turns out the switch to the right of the sink had shorted out. That was the pop sound we heard. Aileen managed to get one of those from neighbour Daryl so Jim fixed that up. Everything appears back to normal finally.

This morning when Aileen went to start the car, the battery was too low again. If we use the car daily the issue doesn’t come up. We put it on the charger then Jim came and looked at it a couple times. The first time he disconnected a wire from the positive battery post. Great. Car seemed to start easier. However, when she went to go for my prescription, it started but couldn’t be shifted out of park. The upshot of that was Jacquie and Jim driving her to Coolidge for my prescription. After lunch, Jim came by and followed up on the wire and found where the installer had tied it into another wire under the dash and not done a good job to boot. Jim has taken the Even Brake book home to study the install directions to see if he can make any sense out of the mess. Why do these terrible installers get turned loose on unsuspecting customers like us? It is most unethical. And so again it was Jim to the rescue. I have offered him the use my ATV since I won’t be using it again this year. I hope he takes me up on it so we can at least slightly repay our gratitude.