Monday, October 21, 2013

Good news

Blood test results: 

My last visit with my urologist he removed the nephrostomy and informed me that my left kidney had - for all practical purposes - shut down. I expressed deep concern for the welfare of my remaining good kidney and since he shared this concern, he scheduled me for monthly blood tests to assure that my levels (creatinine, pH, Sodium, Phosphate, etc.) remain stable and withing acceptable ranges.

The first of these tests - last week - confirmed that all levels are stable. My creatinine has dropped from 2.5 to 2.3 (the lowest it's been for a year). My urologist calls this stable. When my level rose to 2.5 he was quick to point out that a one or two point change is not significant and could just be 'noise'. But I take this as significant in that the 'noise' has gone down and not up.

A deep sigh of relieve can be heard all throughout our household.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

On Powerlessness and Power.

The Serenity Prayer comes to mind.

Maybe it's a logical side effect of coming out the other end of a personal trial (like cancer, loss of a loved one, tragedy (personal or witnessed), or other loss) is to feel a loss of power over our world - our existence- and to try to take some of it back.

I retired 5 years ago. This summer I volunteered to help out a friend; to cover for him at his job while he went out of town for a month. He's the IT guy for a department on campus and summers are very quiet so it wasn't that big of a deal to cover for him. This is something he does every year so everyone works around the break (and I'd done this kind of work for 20 plus years so I wasn't worried.) I basically sat in his office for about an hour a day and monitored the servers, networks, backup systems and answered any questions and fixed any problems. Well, one thing led to another - word spread - and now I'm working part-time for a different department on a 'permanent' basis.

I don't really have time for a job but I decided to do this because it gives me an excuse to get on my bike every day and ride the 5 miles from my home to campus. Yes, there are other reasons but this was high on the list. I want to keep in shape because -- well because I can.  Fitness is something I still have control over. Fitness and diet are proven ways to keep healthy and keep everything working.
Before I retired I made this bike trip every day and it kept my body strong and in good alignment. After recovering from the surgery, I tried to ride that route at least 3 times a week - I even gave myself little rewards for the effort. But It seems like other projects would steal that precious time away and I'd be lucky to average one ride per week. 

I was surprised at how hard it was to ride every day. I had really gotten out of shape. It seemed like my strength and endurance were shot. I was wondering if my weak kidneys were causing this or perhaps my thyroid condition (which only hit last winter). Some days it was really a chore to make this trip.  But after a month of so of riding to this new job, the fatigue wore off and now I ride easily again. Some days it's a little rainy or if I am just tired and I think about taking the bus. But then I think, "Well, I'll just get on my bike and take it easy today." Before long I find that I'm riding hard and feeling just fine again. I have gained a little more power.

I was reading the paper one morning before I decided to accept the offer of this new job. There was an article about how people who work longer tend to live longer and have significantly less trouble with memory loss and early onset Alzheimers.  This made sense to me and, at the time, I saw it as another way to take back some control. Another reason to give this job a try. Another power that I can possess.

My new job is very challenging. It has certainly forced me to organize my thoughts (and memories) once again. I have been away from IT (information technology and information systems support) for over five years and that can be forever in "IT years". I have been surprised at how many bits and pieces of information where dangling at the edges of my consciousness and on the verge of falling forever from my memory just waiting - it seems - to be snatched back in the nick of time.  I still know how to ride this "bike" but some of the familiar paths have become strange and some of the trusted shortcuts over-grown. But I now have Siri and Google to help guide me (as well as a number of old friends - who have not yet retired). So the ride back - though it has not been easy - it has been pretty smooth.

So when all is said and done, I believe I have been able to wrest back some control over the circumstances of age and fate - mind and body.  It may all be an illusion but I believe it has given me power over my little world. And that belief, in itself, may be enough.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I'm sorry..

A slap in the face.

There are times in our lives when we deserve a good slap in the face. Maybe we made an inappropriate comment or we insulted someone and it took slap or a punch to put us in our place. Like when Sir John Gielgud slapped Dudley Moore in the movie Arthur - "You spoiled little bastard." he said, "You're a man who has everything but that's not enough...."

Yesterday I got an email from my sister-in-law. They have found two large masses in her lungs. Because of her severe COPD they can't even do a biopsy. They think she has a year to live.

I guess it's not my party.