Remote Separation

Keeping to authenticity, the note was typed in all caps. The first line about gave me a heart-attack and sky-rocketed me into panic-mode. Half a sentence later, I was shaking my head, and only half grimacing.

FYI: I decided not to [SIC] everything.  😉

Jeff:

WELL, YOU ARE SOOOO WELCOME !

BUT, I WAS HAVING THE SHAKES AND PASSED OUT SEVERAL TIMES THIS MORNING. I CALLED THE DR. RIGHT AWAY AND SHE TOLD ME I HAD POST-TRAUMATIC REMOTE CONTROL SEPARATION SYNDROME.

SHE TOLD ME TO TAKE TWO ASPIRINS AND CALL THE PTRSS SOCIETY. SO, I CALLED THEM AND THEY SAID THEY WOULD BE HAPPY TO HELP ME OUT WITH MY PROBLEM FOR A SMALL DONATION OF 500 DOLLARS. AND WITH THAT, I CALLED THE CREDIT UNION TO MAKE AN ELECTRONIC FUNDS TRANSFER OF 600 TO THE FUND FOR PTRSS SOCIETY.

WHEN I FINISHED THAT I CALLED THE PTRSS SOCIETY AGAIN AND THEY SAID THEY WOULD COME OVER TONIGHT AND ASSIST ME IN THIS NON LIFE THREATENING BUT VERY BOTHERSOME DISEASE. THEY HAVE FOUND IT IS TRANSFERRED THRU A GENE FROM THE MOTHER THAT IS DORMANT IN FEMALES, BUT IS VERY ACTIVE IN A MALE.

I HAVE FOUND THIS TO BE VERY INTERESTING AND I AM LEARNING QUITE A BIT. MY GOAL FOR THE PTRSS SOCIETY IS TO START A TELETHON WITHIN TWO YEARS AND HAVE AS MUCH SUCCESS AS JERRY LEWIS AND MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY.

MAY I ADD THAT JERRY IS ALSO A SUFFERER OF PTRSS AND THAT HE DONATES A LARGE SUM TO THE PTRSS SOCIETY EVERY YEAR. HE TRIES TO KEEP IT VERY LOW KEY , AS HE IS ACTUALLY A PRETTY PRIVATE PERSON.

OH, AND DID I TELL YOU THAT JERRY LEWIS CALLED ME PERSONALLY AND TOLD ME HOW IT FEELS TO SUFFER FROM PTRSS. HE REALLY IS AS NICE ON THE PHONE AS HE IS ON TV. AND HE SANG TO ME… IT WAS SUNG TO THE TUNE OF “YOU WILL NEVER WALK ALONE.” HE CHANGED THE WORDS TO “YOU WILL NEVER CLICK ALONE.”

WELL, THAT’S ABOUT ALL THE EXCITEMENT I CAN HANDLE FOR ONE DAY. HOPE THINGS QUIET DOWN A BIT AROUND HERE.

i love youuuuuuuu

Me:

Wow! You are my hero! Can I smooch you when I get home?

Jeff:

you may smooch me anytime, anywhere

Quote for the Week:

2018 05 22 Blessed are we who know when to laugh

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links

Well Put: The Blessing of Laughter

Seeing the Other Person’s Perspective: May Not Help

Yes, It Really is: The Best Medicine

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen of Coin, King of Remote

 

During this time, Jeff and I were always on the brink of broke. Paycheck to paycheck became my paycheck and only half of Jeff’s paycheck. Juggling money became my specialty.

There were days when timing was everything. Money was scheduled to come in, but money was also scheduled to go out. These were the days I would clearly and emphatically instruct Jeff, “Do not take any money out of the bank today or our such-and-such check will bounce.”

There were days when at 4:00 PM, I would check our account to be sure we were clear, and discover my paycheck had made it in, Jeff’d withdrawn $20.00, and our check hadn’t cleared, yet.

I would go into a tailspin. Jeff would either assure me without reason or concrete evidence, “Don’t worry. It’ll all work out.” Or, he’d point out that we didn’t actually bounce anything, so there wasn’t any problem, and there was no reason for me to be upset.

I was the self-appointed queen of the coin. Jeff was reigning king of the remote. The thing is, he’d fall asleep and change channels. He’d be searching for something during a commercial and hit a button that crashed our dish. He’d doze off and turn the TV off.

I’d wake him up and ask him to give me the remote. He didn’t ever want to give it up. Jeff would insist he was awake now, wouldn’t be nodding off again, and he would get everything or the show we were watching back to the right place.

It had been one of those teeter-totter banking days and Jeff had done what I’d asked him not to – took $20 out of our account. He’d also not done what I asked him to do that day – call the doctor about a new dizziness and increased pain. I must have been more convincing than usual regarding the TV remote, because, apparently, Jeff conceded on that one point. Granted it was the only particular point left to address that he or I could do anything about right then.

Our 2004 email treasure began this way…

Me: Thank you for giving me the remote last night… I know it was traumatic for you, but you handled the separation like a pro! Kisses.

In one hilarious email response, Jeff managed to address all of my previous evening’s complaints: banking, health management and our TV troubles.

Quote for the Week: 2018 05 15 Disagreements do not break relationships jakorte

Face Value

Our doorbell rang one sunny mid-morning shortly after the letter.  Jeff was in his chair in the den, so I went for the door. As far as I knew, we had no visitors planned that day. I suspected it was one of our neighbors, so I opened the door with a smile.

I think my smile surprised him. He sure surprised me. Skipping ‘Hello,’ he gruffly grunted, “Is my son here?”

“Of course, he is.” I answered.  Bewildered, I stepped aside to let my father-in-law in. He’d never dropped by before.

Dispensing with any potential pleasantries, he blustered by me and near -barked, “Where is he? I wanna to talk to him!”  

I jumped in front of him and led the way to the den, calling out to my husband. “Jeff!  Your Dad is here.”

We were already stepping into the den, as Jeff put down the recliner foot rest.

“Don’t get up!” Roger sternly ordered. “I’ve got something to say to you.”

Before he sat down on the couch next to Jeff’s chair, he turned to me and said, “I’d like to talk to him alone.”  

When I hesitated, Jeff suggested, “Maybe, you can take Sadie out?” I went to grab her leash, and while I was fastening it, I overheard the first part of the conversation.

“What’re ya doin’, Jeff?” Roger demanded. With a bit of humor, Jeff shrugged, “Watchin’ TV…”

“No! Jeff!,” he exclaimed. “I mean WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? You wanna know something, Jeff? You wanna know what I carry in my wallet? I’ll show you…”.

I was still in the kitchen, where I had previously been unintentionally eavesdropping. I  now intentionally began moving a little slower. Roger’s back was turned to me addressing Jeff.  He sounded angry and a little shaky, which was alarming to me. Peering into the den, I watched as he opened his wallet, reached in, and pulled something out.

“This!” he shook the paper toward Jeff. “This is what I keep in my wallet.” I only caught a glimpse as he put it away, but easily recognized it as the same baby picture Sally and Nannee kept.

In tears, I routed Sadie out of the kitchen, toward the back slider.

As she and I went out the door, I glanced over. Jeff, sitting forward, staring at the floor, didn’t say anything.

Roger, in exasperation, blurted out, “I don’t want to bury my first-born son!”

Something changed for all of us in that moment.

For Roger and Jeff, it was the beginning of a deeper relationship. I later learned that Roger had told Jeff that he would be available to drive him to appointments, so I didn’t have to miss work.

For me, it was the beginning of my relationship with Roger. I’d never taken Jeff’s Dad seriously. I never looked beyond the clowning. Mostly because, he made tremendous efforts not to be serious. I honestly, did not know he had it in him. That isn’t a dig on Roger. That’s me saying, I’d never tried to have a meaningful conversation with him.

I took Roger at face value, letting others perceptions, including Jeff’s, color mine. I didn’t know he’d listen to whatever I had to say, or that he’d be a steadfast ally.  Especially, after the letter. Especially, after Jeff died.

I took Roger at face value, when, the whole time, all that bluster and nonsense deftly camouflaged  a deeply caring heart.

Quote for the Week:

2018 05 08 If you never ask someone a serious question

 

 

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The Daily List

I guess you could say, somewhere in the middle, I somewhat started on a weird winding road of acetic acceptance.  On the daily drive home, I used to think to myself, “I wonder if today’s the day I’ll get home and find him dead.” I decided I’d have enough of that scenario in my head. I felt it was time to let it out.  Time to ask for help.

I wrote a letter to some of Jeff’s friends and family. I’m surprised I don’t have a copy of that letter, but I don’t. I asked everyone to come see him, to tell him he was important, to see if they could convince him to take better care of himself, to stop chewing tobacco. I don’t know which came first, in a chicken or the egg sort of way – either I told him, or he found out about it.

It’s one of the few times I made Jeff really mad. He said I made him look stupid. I shrugged and raised my voice. “You are stupid! You’re not doing enough to help yourself.”

 It was also one of two times, I made Jeff cry. Tough love is tough on the person giving it, too. If he cried, I cried. If I cried, he’d try to cheer me up or make me laugh. Not exactly an even exchange, but, somehow, we’d both end up laughing.

He said the problem was that he was bored being stuck at home with nothing to do and no one to talk to. The meds made him foggy and mostly he just watched TV, or read, or spent hours at the computer. 

So, I started a daily Jeff list. Only 3 or 4 things that I’d like him to accomplish that day.

It wasn’t all chores. It was some mundane tasks, a few challenges, and some silly stuff.  I found a few of my lists in between orders in the store files. Don’t know if Jeff put them there on purpose or if they accidentally got filed away with paperwork. Some of the highlights were:

Launder bed sheets (I’ll put them on when I get home.)

Check the Power Ball #’s. (No one matched all 5 #’s, but I’ll take anything!)

Water plants (I love our garden!)

Don’t forget to check the NASCAR channel. Al Unser Jr. is expected to retire today.

Go through papers on the dining room table, please.

Call Kapnick’s and find out how much the sweet cherries will be. The sign says “place orders now.”

Research Michigan vendors who might sell us their hot sauce at wholesale.

Figure out what meds you need to re-order.

Wear socks! It will help the rubbing of your feet.

Call the doctor re: Anodyne machine

Defrost the chicken, so it will be ready to cook for dinner.

Set your alarm for med times.

Take naps often – feet up, please!

Quote for the Week:

2018 04 17 Routine jakorte

Sleep Talking

Pancreatitis was the beginning of the avalanche. Up until then, we had both believed that Jeff’s health would improve. A little weight loss, a bit of exercise, a healthier eating plan should have, could have, might have worked. But, we never got around to it.

And, I do mean ‘we.’ I nagged occasionally, but I enjoyed the wonderful meals Jeff created. I enjoyed going out to dinner, and breakfast and lunch on the weekends. We’d get on track, get off track, restart. All the while, my weight was going up, too.

After Pancreatitis, everything changed. Because, at that point, the trouble Jeff was in became permanent. I nagged a lot more, about everything. Medications, money, meals, sales and purchases for the store. But I didn’t take my own advice, either.  

Pancreatitis takes the body on a downward journey. Everything you do can help, and everything you do could just not matter, either. Jeff never gave up hope. He simply accepted his new reality and went on with his life. I didn’t fare so well in that department. I’d had hope, then was left with nothing to cling to.

The pain and balancing pain medications were a losing battle, as well. Some caused auditory hallucinations – not creepy voices, but the continual sound of a low playing radio just outside your reach. They occasionally caused situational hallucinations.

Following one particular subsequent pain-related hospital stay, the doctors added two more medications to his regime. Methadone and morphine were prescribed for continual long-term use. As I’ve mentioned earlier, Jeff could fall asleep anywhere. So, the added drugs only increased that possibility.

Even pre-opiates, though, Jeff and I had some interesting conversations, some serious confusion and one horribly harrowing incident which led me to always double check if I was speaking with an awake or sleeping-talking Jeff.

Quote for the Week:

2018 03 13 just because you can see through the snow jakorte 

intertwention

Years later. One evening after dinner, an intense pain hit Jeff in the gut. It doubled him over, caused a serious sweat but then almost instantly disappeared. He announced he must be extra gassy. I worried about it a little, but he said he felt fine.

About a week later, he excused himself from the den and said, “I’ll be right back.” I watched him walk away and thought he was walking oddly, but so many of his medications caused digestive issues, I shrugged it off as he’d probably just been in a hurry.

The TV show we were watching ended, and I went to brush my teeth. I flipped the light switch in our bedroom, and screamed. All I could see was Jeff’s feet and the top of his back. He was on the floor on his hands and knees, shaking, and sweat was pouring off him.

When I came around the bed, Jeff grunted, “thought it would pass…” Confused, I barked, “How come I didn’t know you had kidney stones!” He put a hand on the bed and tried to push himself into a standing position. That ended  badly, sliding him back to the floor, bent in half. “I don’t…” he wheezed. “Stomach pain.”

“Same as before?” I asked. “Yeah” he gasped, “Water…” I jumped around him and came back with a bathroom Dixie cup. Jeff gulped it, and asked for more. He seemed to be getting his breathing under control, but then reported,  “…getting worse.” “I’m going to call the ambulance,” I told him.

“No! No!” he protested. “I’ll be ok, just give me a minute. It always go away…” By then I had figured out, he’d had more than just the two attacks I knew about. “How many have you had?” I angrily shouted. “Just a few…” he answered.  “How about giving me a number?” I demanded.

“‘Bout once a day,” he huffed, resulting in my swearing, a lot. Usually, my creative cursing made Jeff laugh. Not this time, though. I asked if he’d called the doctor, and of course, he said he hadn’t. “Eating lots of Tums” seemed to help, so his plan was to mention at his next appointment. “Tums?” I still questioned. “How many Tums does it take.” “A handful'” was Jeff’s answer. My blood pressure was on it’s way up, when Jeff cried out in pain.

“I’m calling…” I told him. “No, no!” he protested, “It’ll be expensive. I’m getting better.”

“No, you’re not!” I cried in frustration. “Yes, I am!” he insisted. “I’ll call the doctor tomorrow if it doesn’t get better.”

“Listen, Jeff.” I put my hand on his shoulder, squatted down to look him in the eye and issued an ultimatum. “Unless you can get up off this floor in the next 30 seconds, I’m calling.”

He looked at me, looked at the bed, looked down at the floor. He took a rattled breath, hung his head even lower in painful defeat and grunted, “…call…”

Quote for the Week: 2018 02 27 intertwention jakorte

 

 

 

A Dinner or A Doctor

Jeff’s health took many turns, endured many twists. One after another, incidents began piling up.

Jeff had been fighting Intertrigo with a topical medication, but failed to mention it was getting worse instead of better. Right before leaving for a dinner at one of his cousins’ home, he announced he thought he should go to the emergency room. “Can’t you wait until after dinner?” I asked. “We’ll be closer to the hospital and we can go right after.”

“No,” he replied. “I need to go now.” Knowing Jeff would normally never miss an opportunity for dinner and a social visit, I panicked a little, and asked for specifics. I was annoyed, because I really wanted to go to this dinner. I was angry because, if it wasn’t working after a week of treatment, he should have done something about it. “Like what?” he wanted to know. “Like call the doctor!” I threw up my hands.

“Well, this is what the doctor gave me. Doctors know what they’re doing! They go to school for it…” he argued. What followed, as we gathered our belongings to head out, was an argument like many more to come.

My stance is that the patient needs to be responsible for telling the doctor if something isn’t working. Doctors and diagnoses aren’t always correct, and the right doctor won’t be annoyed with you for asking. Jeff was lucky to have a doctor like that. Actually, I was the one who was lucky he had a doctor like that, since I was the one informing her of subsequent non-successes and eventually, other treatments I’d like to see taken.

So, we made the call: explaining our regrets, explaining we were on the way to the emergency room. I felt even worse when I learned that dinner had already been made and a special cake had already been baked. Before we’d even pulled out of the driveway, Jeff’s phone rang. He shook his head, as he told his brother it was true; we were headed to the ER. The Korte Grapevine is the fastest form of communication I’ve ever come across. So many times, I’ve been so very thankful for that.

Along with Intertrigo, a rampant yeast infection had developed. With a blood sugar of almost 700 – the attending doctor checked Jeff’s incoming chart and incredulously demanded, “How are you even still talking to me?” That range is commonly coma and or death inducing. By this time, though, Jeff’s normals were regularly 350-400. That’d be like a controlled or non-diabetic hitting a 400. Not good. 

A spinal tap and a few other tests, lead to an admission. Through it all, Jeff never stopped talking… or joking.

Quote for the week:

2018 02 20 The relativity of medical treatment jakorte

(For example; my norm is 97.3, so when my temperature reaches 99, I have a fever. It’s like a 98.6 hitting 100. If I don’t let the caregiver know my 97 norm, my 99 is considered ‘normal’ – no fever.)