5 appointments . . .

This is a true story about an ongoing struggle to get me to keep an appointment at the VA clinic I go to.

Beginning at the end of last October, I had an appointment to be seen in a specialty clinic. The appointment was on a Monday morning, and beginning the previous Friday we started getting severe heavy rainfall that continued all weekend. When I went to keep my appointment, the clinic had been flooded, and all appointments had been canceled.

The VA sent me a secure message through MyHealtheVet.com to reschedule, with several optional appointment times to choose from. I chose the one that worked best for us, and sent a reply accepting it.

When the day came, there was extremely heavy wind, with a high chance of severe weather. I didn’t think our car could handle the conditions, given that we needed to travel at least 45 minutes each way at highway speeds (55-60 mph) with the high winds. So, I sent a secure message asking to reschedule. We agreed on a new date, which would be attempt number 3 to get me into the clinic.

A few days before attempt number 3 was to happen, my wife and I were exposed to strep throat, and needed to quarantine to protect others. So I sent a secure message explaining the situation and asking for a further extension. After a few messages back and forth, we agreed on a new date.

Then, a few days before attempt number 4, my wife had to go to the local ER. We thought that she was having asthma problems, but it was diagnosed as Covid-19. So we had to isolate ourselves for 2 weeks, and I had to ask for another reschedule.

The most recent appointment was yesterday – but because of extreme weather in Fayetteville, AR, all of the satellite offices of the Fayetteville VA healthcare system were closed, and the VA asked me to reschedule.

I’ve sent them a message asking when the next available appointments are that we can choose from, but at this rate, I have no idea when I’m going to be able to keep an appointment. It almost feels like the universe itself is trying to keep me away from there.

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Many Apologies . . .

I must apologize for missing both last Saturday’s Post, but also not posting anything about New Year. The Wednesday before January 1st, my wife started having respiratory distress, and as the days passed, it became more pronounced.

When I got out of bed on January 1st, she was in severer distress, and I told her to go to the local ER. It was 6pm. She went, and at about 9pm (all local time) she informed me over the phone that she’d been positively diagnosed with Covid-19. We don’t know how she was exposed to it, but she was released from the hospital, and was given an array of prescriptions.

Since my focus has been on taking care of my wife, I missed both the Saturday Post this past weekend, but also didn’t post anything for New Year’s Day. That’s fine, since I didn’t have anything about resolutions or otherwise profound thoughts to share.

Because of her diagnosis, my wife and I are in isolation for the next 2 weeks. I expect a full recovery for her, and so far I am not having any trouble that I can attribute to that infection.

Saturday Posts . . .

We’ve had an eventful year so far.

We discovered that an invasive vine had infiltrated our shrubbery outside of our home, and was trying to turn our home from a nice clean “European Continental” look into an “English Manor” look. At one point the vines managed to climb all the way up to the eves of the house. After consulting a few different contractors, who each had different approaches to dealing with the problem, we ended up spending nearly $2,000 USD to eliminate the vines completely. In doing so, we also had to sacrifice our bushes.

I’ve also been binge watching several shows that deal with individual survival in the wild. One in particular was “ALONE” – and while I respected all of the contestants who appeared in the show, what caught my attention was how the show contrasted the caloric intake of the contestants with the amount of calories they were expending just to try to survive. Since I’m not in a situation where I can reduce my caloric intake any further, I decided that I need to increase my daily caloric burn if I want to loose weight. That was when I saw a documentary where I observed a medical Doctor who had a “walking treadmill” in his office, which he used while writing reports in between seeing patients. I talked to my wife about that idea, and she told me that her library had one “walking treadmill” in the public area of the facility, and she’d used it a few times and thought it was a good idea. So we ordered one. It arrived yesterday.

Unfortunately, my wife was experiencing back pain when it arrived, so it fell to me to unpack the treadmill and get it set up. That process alone was a major exercise workout, but I got through it. I suffered a couple of minor injuries while doing so, to my left elbow and left hip. Using this treadmill will be something that progresses on a gradient. I’m still convinced that it is a good idea.

Good News . . .

In our postal mail delivery yesterday, I received a report that I feel overjoyed to share.

Last week I had a scheduled visit to the VA clinic that I usually go to. My primary care provider had asked me if I’d agree to get a Carotid Ultrasound – as a routine procedure because I’m almost 60 years old. I told her that it wouldn’t change any of my decisions in the Advanced Directive or Living Will, but that there didn’t seem to be any harm in knowing what it may reveal.

The letter that I got about the results stated the following:

“Mild atherosclerosis with normal flow all velocities bilaterally and no evidence of significant stenosis.

Carotid Ultrasound results were normal no significant carotid artery disease.”

So, it looks like my wife is going to have to put up with my jokes a while longer! LOL!

Perhaps, and I can’t be certain either way, part of the reason for this outcome is that I’ve been mostly a vegetarian since January 1st of this year. I say mostly because living in this area limits the options for eating vegetarian when I travel – even the relatively short distance to the VA clinic. Also, I’m terrible about using supplements – and almost everything I’ve read or watched has said that Vitamin B-12 is impossible to get without eating meat. So, I’m mostly vegetarian, occasionally eating meats to get my B-12 fix.

Communicating final decisions . . .

I’ve written several times in the past about the importance of making an Advanced Directive or a Living Will, or both, for the purpose of controlling your last life decisions. Ever since the USA case of Teri Schiavo, (my apologies if I misspelled her name) it has been obvious that clearly communicating your plan for the end of your life is of paramount importance.

I already have a legally binding Living Will, and another legally binding Advanced Directive. But, I’m choosing to take the entire matter one step farther. I’m getting a tattoo in the center of my chest that will read “NHM – see medical alert bracelet”. The medical alert bracelet has digital copies of both the Living Will and the Advanced Directive on a flash drive contained within it, and the NHM stands for “No Heroic Measures”. As far as I can tell, this is the final step in making absolutely certain that ALL first responders will know exactly what my wishes are.

The whole point of this is to prevent the first responders (EMT’s, paramedics, Law Enforcement personnel, and other people who might initiate life-saving actions) from taking actions that may result in bankrupting my wife if I’m involved in a catastrophic event of any kind.

Yes, I want to live – but not so much that I want to live with the assistance of expensive equipment that can’t guarantee my chance of recovery. My wife’s future is more important than my survival.

New Year Resolutions . . .

I originally wanted to post this yesterday, because it was January 1, but after learning of Betty White’s passing I didn’t want to take away from the memorials to her life and achievements. So, I’m posting it today.

In addition to reading the books that were recommended by my dear friend Anita, I’ve also been watching several very good documentaries on Netflix. This post is about those documentaries.

In no particular order, the Netflix documentaries I’d recommend are:

What The Health

[Un] Well

Salt Fat Acid Heat

Down To Earth with Zach Efron

Kiss The Ground

Fantastic Fungi

The Game Changers

The Bleeding Edge

If you have access to Netflix – especially Netflix streaming service – you owe it to yourself and the planet to watch these documentaries. Together, they build a compelling argument against the currently accepted “traditional western diet”. They also present a very good foundation for building a defense against Global Warming.

While thinking about New Year resolutions – I’m compelled by having watched these shows to make the following commitment – I’m going to spend the rest of January 2022 as a vegan. If that succeeds in reducing my arthritis and other body problems, I’ll commit to that lifestyle in perpetuity.

Recent observations . . .

  1. Are you a person who is gluten intolerant, and has trouble finding a probiotic supplement? So is my wife, and it has frustrated her for years. However, we’ve found a way to naturally get probiotics that she can take without complications. The solution was old-fashioned sour dough bread. Yes, it is more expensive than regular bread, but it is the only bread (or even grain product) that she can eat. Since we switched to that, we’re both feeling stronger and healthier.
  2. I recently read that President Biden is soon to sign into law an amendment to US banking law. The current laws require all banks and credit unions to report interest payments to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) for taxation purposes. The amendment that President Biden is championing will also require them to report the BALANCES of your accounts. Try as hard as I might, I can only think of one reason why the government would want to have that information, and it is not good for any of us. If you’ve studied the financial collapse that led to the Great Depression of the 1930’s, you’ll know what I’m concerned about. If the government wants to know what liquid assets you hold, it’s probably because they want to confiscate them, just as they did back then. It’s probably time to find another way to protect them, instead of leaving them in an account in some sort of bank or community institution.
  3. I respect the fact that the US National Weather Service has a tough job to do, but I’m getting tired of seeing a weather forecast for our area that says we’ll have clear skies for the nest 4 days, and then having a serious weather event the next day. Even worse is that my body tells me the weather is about to change as much as 12 hours before the National Weather Service updates their forecast. Sometimes I think that weather forecasting is just getting a license to be a gypsy fortune teller.
  4. I still think it’s rather humorous how the US government is trying to treat this whole Covid-19 situation as something that can be managed. Recent postings by the CDC and the WHO have acknowledged that not only are the vaccines ineffective, but that the entire event has been blown out of proportion. MD’s across the nation have been pressured into falsifying the numbers of people confirmed to have the disease, just to coerce us into greater compliance with the mandates given by the government. IMHO, because this is a virus – the best protection you can have is a healthy and robust immune system – and I say this as a person who’s immune system was compromised by a bone tumor back when I was barely 18 years old. But, I’m not an MD, so consult your own understanding of biology and human physiology – or someone you trust who has a degree in such things.
  5. I’ve been binge-watching a lot of Netflix Streaming TV shows over the last year. A good chunk of my viewing has been reality shows, including one called “The Circle”. It’s a social media game, where contestants are isolated in one building with each other, and try to become the most popular contestant of the group. I have a huge problem with the game’s formula. They allow contestants to enter the competition while deliberately misrepresenting who they are – a social media activity referred to as “catfishing”. Here is my complaint – if we as a society value honesty, integrity, and the other things that are called virtues, why would we deliberately REWARD people for acting contrary to those virtues? Especially with a prize like $100K for a few weeks of work?