Today is the 19th anniversary of when my wife and I became a couple.
I still don’t know how she puts up with me.
Today is the Thanksgiving holiday in the USA, and most people will sit down at some time today to elaborate meals shared with someone they care about, in celebration of the holiday.
For me, today has special significance because I was recently reminded of someone that I considered a dear friend when I first moved to the St. Louis metro area. It was December, 1994, when we met, and she was one of my superiors at the job I moved there for. No, she was more of a mentor, because we both did the same type of work there. Her name was Francine.
Last Saturday, my wife saw a Facebook post by one of Francine’s relatives, announcing that Francine is dying of cancer. The relative used the phrase “has finally admitted that she is . . . ” which says to me that Francine has been sick for some time. She was expected to die within days, but I’ve heard no update since.
Anyway, this got me to thinking of the many people I knew and liked at that job – and how many of them have died of cancer. Not many have died, but to a person, ALL who have died did so of cancer. What does that say about the place where we worked? Most died while still working there.
So, today I’m giving thanks for the MANY wonderful people who have touched my life over the last 55 years. Some had minor appearances in my story, some inspired whole chapters. They were all special, and I’m forever grateful to have known them. It will be a while, but eventually I will see them again. The great video game of LIFE always respawns with a new character.
but a whole lifetime for him. I’m talking about our pet cat, Merlin, who joined our family 10 years ago today. You can find our original announcement here:
Sorry I don’t have any update photos to share, but he still doesn’t pose for cameras. He does purr a lot, and he still chases shadows. Now, though, he prefers to chase shadows that we aren’t deliberately making for his amusement.
Well, it looks like my run as an internet blogger is coming to an end, due to simple economics.
When we first moved to this area, we had a fairly reasonable rate for internet service, and we were happy enough with the provider that when I cancelled my cell phone we called them up and got internet phone for the house, using the same number. The main problem is that they have been the only broadband internet provider we could use in this area.
Over time our internet cost has escalated to where it is no longer affordable. It is now nearly 50% higher than it was when we started with them, and the quality of service has declined noticeably. The last 3 months in a row, the bill has gone up every month. There is another provider that has started moving into the area, but they can’t provide service to our address yet.
So, I’m going to call Cox in a few hours, to see if we can get a slower package, or find some way to reduce our bill. If we can’t, it will be time to pull the plug on our internet, and that might take our phone with it.
I learned a little while ago that one of my mom’s brothers passed to his next adventure early this morning. While I can’t say he was someone I felt close to, he treated my family alright when we got together while I was growing up.
Still, it is a fitting capstone to a particularly gruesome week. In my last post, I stated that I woke up with another migraine. So, imagine my surprise when my wife reads to me from an email newsletter by Dr. Sears (I hope I spelled that right) that Imitrex actually CAUSES migraines – and makes them worse by both intensity and frequency. This is because of a physical manifestation known as a rebound effect. In other words, what it does to provide relief is only a treatment of symptoms, and the problem is worse when the medicine wears off.
Well, I’ll vouch for the “makes them worse” part – this last migraine lasted 5 1/2 days, and for the last few months the classic ID tags of a migraine (light sensitivity, upset stomach, audio distortion) have been showing up in pairs about half of the time.
Oh, and the rest of the story on how this week went? Before the migraine had run it’s course the National Weather Service was posting severe weather watches for this whole area. The storms started about 10:30pm (2230 hrs) last night, and it’s been pretty steady ever since. MIGHT end tomorrow, but no promises.
Last night my wife and I were watching a disc we got from Netflix. I was sitting in my recliner, with a cat sound asleep on my lap, when she got up to go to the kitchen. Seeing her heading that direction, I held up my empty coffee cup and asked if she’d mind getting me a refill – so I wouldn’t have to wake the cat.
She wanted to know what she should put in it, and I responded with “something hot, brown, and wet.”
Then SHE asked me if I meant Zoe Saldana or Halle Berry.
I really should have just said “coffee”. Besides, even if they were willing, neither one of them would fit in my coffee cup.
I have written before about the fact that I have a history that includes a fight with a bone tumor back in 1980. I recently wrote a summary of the events that led to that diagnosis, because my lawyer in the fight with Social Security thought that it would be helpful to our fight. After some reflection, I decided to post it here, as well. Hope you find reading this to be helpful in understanding me . . . .
Vernon Pope’s Bone Tumor Discovery
This is a factual summary of the events leading to the discovery of a bone tumor in my left femur in October of 1980.
The story begins on September 17th. I was active duty in the United States Army, assigned to Ft. Eustis, Virginia, training to be a helicopter mechanic. On that day, I awoke with the rest of my unit at 0500 hrs. (which was normal for all normal duty days). At the time I awoke, I was not aware of anything amiss. I sat up, spun on my bed, and placed my feet on the floor, feeling normal. The very moment I stood up, I felt a searing pain I have struggled to describe ever since. The best estimate I can give to what that pain felt like is imagining what it might have felt like to have my whole left leg doused in gasoline and set fire. I screamed so loudly that half of the men in my barracks came running to the room I shared with 5 other trainees.
Very quickly I was questioned about what was wrong, and it was decided that I needed to get to the nearest medical aid station immediately. Two of my fellow trainees created a fireman’s carry chair and hauled me to the aid station. The medics on duty checked for sprains, broken bones, charlie horses, and other usual suspects, without discovering the cause of the pain. By the time the examination was concluded, the First Sergeant of my unit was also on location. The medics gave me some non-prescription pain killers and said they didn’t know what was wrong. They sent me back to the barracks on 24 hour bed rest – and specifically instructed my First Sergeant that if I was not feeling better by noon I should be admitted to the main base hospital for further testing.
The First Sergeant took me to the hospital at 1205 hrs. that same day.
The following days were a series of tests, x-rays, and other exams. Nobody who examined me ever suggested that they felt my pain was other than real, but no evidence was found for a cause with any test the hospital at Ft. Eustis was capable of performing. On October 8th, I was put in an ambulance and transported to Bethesda Medical Center for a full-body bone scan, with and without contrast.
On October 9th I was informed that the bone scan had revealed a shadow on the left femur that had not previously been seen on x-ray. I was scheduled for a biopsy of the site of the shadow for the following morning.
The doctor who performed the surgical biopsy deserves some mention, I think. He was Col. James W. Blunt, Jr, MD. He was the Chief of Orthopedic Surgery at Ft. Eustis at the time in question. He was also the Hospital Commander, and the highest ranking Orthopedic Surgeon in the United States Army.
I went into surgery at 0700 on October 10, 1980. I was back in my room after recovery by noon. At 1300 I was informed that I had a bone tumor – eosynophilic granuloma (please forgive me if I misspelled it – I am not an oncologist), and that I would be permanently disabled.
I want to call attention to a few facts of this narrative. First – that I experienced extreme pain all of the 23 days before we knew what was causing it. Second, there actually was a very real problem. Third, that the same sensitivity to changes in my body is why when I experience a migraine headache now, it isn’t something I can medicate and still go on with a normal day.