And Breathe

The doctor started asking questions and my chest began to feel like bands were tightening around it.

Shortness of breath?  When did that start? Upon exertion or at rest?  Swelling in your legs? Any falls? How are you sleeping? How is your memory? With orders for a chest x-ray, and blood work, as well as a referral to cardiology we left the doctor’s office.

We have been to doctors several times over the last few years complaining about tiredness, memory issues, not wanting to do anything.  There where some heart issues.  A pacemaker and a ventricular ablation seemed to provide some improvement, for a while.

We started talking about other reasons for the lack of interest in doing things, and the persistent tiredness.  Depression? Drinking? Marital issues?  I knew something was wrong, and I wanted to fix it.

We got the chest x-ray right away, followed shortly by a call from the doctor with a referral to a lung doctor due to fibrosis.  Wait.  What?  That is when I did the stupidest thing.  I went on the internet.  Now, I was the one that couldn’t breathe.

Fibrosis is bad.  Really bad.  You are going to die bad.  And not die in a long time in the future, but in the foreseeable future.  As in put your affairs in order now, because, you know, you are going to die.  I did not share the news.  I figured if he was curious, he would look it up.

All our plans seemed to be going up in smoke.  Our travel plans, including our 50th Anniversary trip we have begun planning for in three years.  Could we go now instead of then?  Could we go at all.  What would we do over the next few relatively healthy years.  And then, the hard question.  How would we handle the bad years?

A few tests later and the heart is proclaimed good.  Good for now, because fibrosis is hard on the heart as it has to work harder and harder to get the  blood into the lungs for oxygenation.  Did I mention I’d been spending time with the internet.  I followed several lines in inquiry.

The lung doctor got us in quickly.  The doctor said, “Your diagnosis is Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.  Stay off the internet.”  To late, but I didn’t tell him that.  I’ve already seen x-rays of the progression of IPF, and heard a recording of what the doctor hears as he listens to the chest.  I’ve heard all the bad news, I hope.  He ordered tests and then we had to wait.

There is good news.  Three years ago, in 2015, two drugs were approved that are effective in slowing down IPF.  No, it is not a cure, but it buys time.  If I add the years the medication can hopefully add to life expectancy, to the highest number of the expected range of life prior to the medicine, add in a few years for luck, and if we caught the condition early, then life expectancy it isn’t so bad.

The only cure is a lung transplant, if you are healthy enough.

Yesterday the tests were all in, and we were back in the doctor’s office.  The diagnosis was revised.  He doesn’t have IPF, but COPD or Emphysema.  There are a lot more treatment options for COPD.  You can live a good while with COPD.  His lung function is relatively good, but the oxygen saturation in the blood tend toward low.  Oxygen is now his new best friend.

There are still some unanswered questions.  There will be more tests.  But for the first time in weeks, I can breathe.

Follower Throwdown

Kids fight.  I fought with my siblings when I was a kid.  My children fought.  My grandchildren fight.

The internet has brought today’s children a thing to fight about that their parents and grandparents never fought about.  Followers.

At least two of the three grandchildren we stayed with have a blog or vlog (video blog).  The effort of combining their talents and working together on a vlog ended in screaming, stomping, and waving arms about.

“You’re just trying to steal my followers,”  he yelled at his sister.

“Who wants your stupid followers.  I have my own followers,”  she screamed back.

A short time later my grandson asked for Mom’s credit card number to upgrade his site with a goal of monetizing his vlog.  His plan is to become so successful vlogging that he can drop out of school and quit studying science and history.  According to the internet, a kid can drop out of school at age 14 and have several million dollars by the time he is 21 years old.

You gotta love a kid with a plan.

Mom refused to give him her credit card number.  Hopes dashed.  But why?  For only a small amount of money he would be set.  He did not believe the small fee would be recurring.   Clueless Mom didn’t understand.

Lucky there was a blogger with over a thousand followers there.  My followers gave me cred!  I am legit!  Yes, Mom is correct, you do have to pay every month.  And monetizing takes more than 45 followers.  The idea of dropping out of school to get rich blogging is strongly vetoed.  I suggested he make some money first, then talk about quitting school.  The poor kid can’t get anyone on his side.

He doesn’t know all the creative opportunities that await a young man with a high school diploma.  W doesn’t know you can get a degree in college in videograghy, or film.   He doesn’t know the thrill of using a professional camera, instead of his phone, to make video, nor the fun you can have with a green screen, not to mention the value of editing.  He doesn’t know the joys of film making, and the challenges of collaboration on a big project.

In addition, he doesn’t realize the value of science and history to such endeavors as broadcasting and film making.

He has a future ahead that he doesn’t know enough about to dream of.  What is clear, is that I’d better step up my game, before this very motivated young man steals my followers.





They Keep Coming

Olivia de Havilland in Swarm, 1978

They wing their way through the air.  Hundreds upon hundreds without stop.  Birds, bees, grasshoppers all swarm, and a swarm is never a good thing.  A swarm drains available resources.

I love my computer and all it allows me to do.  I can get an instant answer to just about any question.  Feeling down and want an answer to life, the universe and everything?  The computer will quickly give you the answer:  42.

Email is a wonderful feature of the computer.  Email allows family and friends to contact me with news from around the globe nearly instantaneously.  I would love it if I logged on to email to greetings from family and friends, with pictures attached, but that doesn’t really happen in our Facebook world.

What I get are a swarm of emails.  On a normal day, a few hundred emails come my way.  I feel stress!   If I miss a few days, because I’m sick, visiting the grandchildren, or communing with nature off the worldwide web, the emails turn into thousands.

Once, while doing research, I clicked on Railroad Jobs (no, train engineer was not listed). I have received listings of ticket sales and loading jobs, which I hopefully have not blocked.  Hot Brazilians pop up regularly, and I am told there are hundreds of these types of sites, and I just need to keep blocking them.  Every store, every website that I have ever shown any interest in also sends me emails, and I unsubscribe only to get a new round the next time I actually complete some business with them.  There are also the emails from my husband’s recent job search.  (I have begged him to unsubscribe, but there is apparently a delay.

I’ve finally managed to turn off my Facebook notifications that had my phone whistling at me repeatedly during the day.  The phone is another place I have to deal with email, as is my tablet.  After spending hours just getting rid of advertisements on all my devices, I’m not even sure I want to read anything.

Which brings me to my favorite bloggers.  I have found that using the reader, liking pictures and visiting blogs when I want to comment is much more expedient, and I’m even able to catch up where I’ve fallen behind with my favorites.

A recent tip was to read only five other blogs a day.  Okay bloggers,  what do we think of this idea. Is that five currently followed blogs, new blogs, or split between the two?   How do those of you with followers in the thousands deal with your comments and those you follow?

Please give me some help here.  I have been feeling overwhelmed.

Vacation, With a Hook

“Going on a cruise is on my bucket list,” Hubby said, so I was primed when I answered the call for white sand beaches, off shore breezes and salty surf tickling my toes.  Nine glorious days including a cruise to and from Freeport in the Bahamas, four nights on the island, and what the heck, let’s toss in a couple of nights in Orlando.  That hook was set, I didn’t even flinch when they said at the very end they would like to show us around one of their vacation properties.  This was marketing at its finest.

We got our itinerary and there it was, right in the middle of our first full day in Ft. Lauderdale.  I had a fantasy of going on our short tour and spending the rest of the day on a tour of the Everglades.  We’d already stopped at the Alligator Farm, on our way to begin our all-inclusive vacation package.  One short tour, promised to be about 2 hours, and we would be on our way to full-time fun.

We got to our tour site at noon, as requested, and waited our turn.  We were assigned to a nice young man.  Then the multi level press began.  Why do we go on vacation, don’t we want to have a lifetime of memories with our children and grandchildren, where would our dreams take us if we could go anywhere in the world and stay in five-star accommodations in complete luxury, and don’t we owe it to our families and our well-being to make these vacations a priority in our lives?

The family suite was wonderful, with enough room and privacy for all.  The pool and grounds were luxuriant. The location was in the heart of one of the most popular travel destinations on the globe, second only to  Orlando, the home of Disneyworld.  And we could swap our little piece of vacation heaven with others making the entire world our vacation heaven.

When we rejected their offer, a better deal was brought out, and yet an even better offer, and again an even better offer.  We went from $32,000 for the purchase of our one week share of paradise, to under $9000, and up to 4 weeks of vacation time, (but not at our prime location), and of course there was a very reasonable and continuing maintenance fee required from us or our descendants as long as we “owned” our vacation.   We would have a fee simple title to our vacation, just like every other owner of vacations at that location, entitling us to one week at that location, if we ever decided to use it.  (Or 1/52 for our suite and use of community pool, workout room, and laundry and parking.)

Some people thought this was a good idea, and some didn’t.  I did not!  We never take those types of vacations.  I knew this tour would be a time share offer and I asked around.  My friends like their time shares.  But I  want to boondoggle it in the wilderness with my camper.  How many ways did we have to say “No” to this unbelievable offer?  I wish I had kept count for my blog readers, like a true reporter, but I was on vacation!   It was 6 p.m.  before we were free to do anything else.  The Everglades would have to wait for another trip, and I was extremely disappointed, but now we could pick up our boarding passes for the cruise.   Or…we could get an additional $50 and pre-board if we would listen to one more offer.  Getting on the boat early seemed like a good idea, so what the heck.

I let them know I was not at all happy with yesterday’s experience, they promised 90 minutes tops.  This offer was a vacation club, and hubby was ready to write a check, but I was not convinced.  I wanted to go on the internet and research these vacation clubs.  Sitting there with my phone I had already found one complaint.  Not conclusive, I would agree, but certainly reason to do more research, and not rush to a decision.  Hubby put the checkbook away.

Once on the island people kept trying to sign us up for yet another presentation, we refused, repeatedly, even with the offer of a free motor scooter rental to drive around the island.  Instead we walked away without the one scooter we were going to rent and ride on together around the island.

Once we were back in Orlando, we were denied  our room assignment until we signed up for yet another presentation, and this deal was sweetened with a half price ticket to the Universal theme park.  I was snappish to put it delicately.   We declined and asked to speak to the manager and got our room assignment.

The rest of our trip was full of white sand beaches, lazy hours at the pool, eating too much, drinking too much, and enjoying the sun and surf.



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