Life Has its Ups and Downs.

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A shelf I built for the kitchen but ended up in the garage

Life has been so stressful lately and I guess I eat more when I’m stressed.  I thought when I retired my life would be less stressful but lately, it hasn’t been the case. I’ve tried to stay on my diet but that hasn’t worked out so well.  The good news is that I’m back on it and I’ve already lost six pounds.  I’ve set mini goals and I’m about four pounds before I reach my first ten-pound mini-goal.  My twin daughters will be graduating from college in May.  They want to go on a cruise in June so this has given me an incentive to lose about twenty pounds before the trip.  I really hope I can do it.

As I’ve stated last time I wrote, I had applied for Social Security disability.  I had my hearing and I got a favorable decision.  I’m still waiting on my backpay as well as my first check.  This whole process has me concerned somewhat.  I’m not surer If I can explain it or not but it makes me feel inferior or worthless.  I’ve worked all my life and over thirty-two years at my last job, not they’re telling me that I can’t work.  I feel like I can do something but I’ve got to be honest with myself, I do have trouble breathing when I do anything.  No one will hire me at my age with all the issues that I have.  So I guess I’ll just have to get over it.

The last two days have been dry and I’m glad it has because the few days before that it rained at least four inches in less than two days.  The next four days we’re supposed to get at between six and seven more inches.  There will be a lot of flooding and trees down.  Let’s hope that the severe weather that is projected for Wednesday is not too bad.

Tomorrow will be a hard day for me.  One of my friends worked for Kimberly Police department and was shot and killed the other day while on duty.  He will be buried tomorrow.  If you’re a praying person please pray for Nick O’Rear’s family.

It Was A Tough Decision

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February 14th, 2014 was a date that I will never forget.  One reason is that it’s the date that I asked my wife of 28 years to marry me.  She said yes, obviously.  The 14th was also the date that I was diagnosed with CML, Cronic Myeloid Leukemia. My life has not been the same since.

Prior to being diagnosed, my weight had increased over the years and my diabetes had gotten out of control. My doctor sat me down and told me that I had better start doing something about it or I wouldn’t live to see my kids graduate high school.  That woke me up a bit.  I started watching what I ate, I started walking some and a friend of mine got me riding my bicycle.  In 2012 I started riding my bike religiously; up to 20 miles a day and up to 30 miles on the weekend.  Even after my diagnosis of CML I kept riding.  In 2015 I rode over 7,000 that year.  But that would soon change.

In 2016, I spent a total of four weeks in the hospital.  Not all at one time but through the year.  My cancer meds were causing fluid to be collected around my heart and lungs.  This was also the time I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and diastolic heart failure.  This was also the time that my vision got blurry and I was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy. I had to take injections in each eye to remove the blood that was pooling up behind my retina.  Because of all my health issues, I had to take off from work a lot because of doctor’s appointments and hospital stays.  Some of the meds I was on also caused memory loss and I started making mistakes at work.  One was a bad mistake and I was given a choice to either get fired or take a lower position.  I took the lower position which I also got lower pay.  Since 2016, I have been in the hospital at least 2 times a year spending at least 4 days each time.  I missed my daughter’s high school graduation because I was in the hospital with the flu and pneumonia.  I also missed my wife’s birthday twice because of hospital stays.

Some years back the company I worked for raised the age at which you could retire.  Because I had been there so long, I was grandfathered in and I could retire at the age of 55 because I had over 30 years of service. When I got grandfathered in, I had 42 months until I could retire.  I counted each day.  I couldn’t wait.  On August 15th, 2018 I retired.  I retired because I couldn’t do the work they were asking me to do.  My memory had gotten bad, I couldn’t walk without having to stop and take a breath and it was taking me too long to complete my jobs.  I knew if I didn’t retire I would eventually lose my job.

Since I was diagnosed in 2014 with cancer, I was asked several times why I didn’t try to file for disability. For me, disability is for someone who can’t work.  Even now I still think I can do something.  In reality, I know I can’t.  At my age, now 56, I doubt anyone will hire me with all my health issues.  It took some convincing from my wife and some of my other family members, I filed for disability in Septemeber of 2018.  Of course, with any filing, the first attempt is always denied, at least that’s what I was told.  And with that, my first filing, I was denied.

The simple fact that I can’t do anything but short term because I get so out of breath.  Walking, climbing stairs, going up an incline, carrying anything of any distance; things such as these I get so tired with fatigue and afterward I have to go and lay down for a while to get my energy back.  I can’t see any employer letting me go lay down after I do a job.

So, I got denied.  I immediately called a lawyer that had been highly recommended to me. When I filed for disability myself, I had to send in a lot of documents from all the doctors, the hospitals and such that I had.  It took me about two months to gather all of the information.  After about a month after I filed, they wanted more information.  Another month goes by gathering more information.  So, I had saved all of the documentation that was requested by the Social Security office and I sent all the documents I had saved to my lawyer.  After one year and six months, I had my hearing with the Social Security judge.

I met with my lawyer right before the hearing and he basically told me what not to say and what to say to the judge.  He told me to tell the truth and to tell him exactly what was going on, and I did.  They had a doctor on the phone that was representing the Social Security office.  To say that I was concerned would be an understatement.  My lawyer tried to calm me down because he could tell I was nervous.  The judge asked me a series of questions all of which I answered the best way I could.  The judge then turned to the doctor on the phone.  My anxiety levels hit the roof.  The judge asked him a series of questions regarding my work record, my work skill level and then he started asking him questions like, can he lift 50 pounds, can he crawl on his hands and knees, can I stand over thirty minutes without difficulty, can I sit for thirty minutes without difficulty.  The list went on and on.  To my surprise, the doctor said NO I can not do these things.  The Judge thanked him for his service and said I’m done.  That’s all I need to hear.  And with that he said we’re done.  I was in his chambers for less than 10 minutes.  The guy before me was in there for nearly an hour.

After I left the judge’s cambers my lawyer came and spoke to me.  He said that he felt really good about my case.  I am to call him in three months.  The decision could take up to six months.  But here is the kicker.  If I receive disability, I am supposed to get back pay from the date I filed or somewhere near that date.  He mentioned a figure of $2,100 a month for the backpay as well as my monthly payment.  I know he’s supposed to either get 25% of the back pay or $6,000, whichever is less.  I have a lot of need for this money so I hope I get it.

After all this, I still think that I don’t deserve disability.  I know a lot of people who are in worse shape than I am and they can’t get it.  The system is totally screwed up.  I know I have issues but I feel like I can still do something.  I’m not sure what but I think there is something out there that I can do.  The trouble is getting someone to hire me.

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Life Goes On!

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_1TH9138Happy belated holidays! Wow!  It’s been a rollercoaster ride for me and my family.  There is no way I can put all that’s been going on in one post.  If I did, it would be a very long post and most would not read to the end.  So, that being said I’ll probably post several topics in the next few days.  I’ll go ahead and briefly tell you what’s been going on though.

Diet  Nonexistent.  I really tired but these holidays were just too much for my weak will power.  I am back on it but and I have lost a few pounds.  I got on my treadmill the other day and I think the thing has a weak motor.  I know I weigh quite a bit but I don’t think the thing should stop suddenly like that. Maybe I’ll rejoin the gym at the local Baptist church up the street.

Dad’s Kidney Stones Dad called me up before Christmas wanting to know if I could take him to the hospital to have a kidney stone removed.  It seems that my mom, which is in her 80’s, had to take her to a clinic in the early morning hours that morning.  The doctor there said that he had a stone which was too big to pass on his own.  1.2mm x .08mm.  The clinic did not have the resources there to break up the stone.  I took him to the hospital and the doctor there said that they normally do not call in the urologist for anything that small.  My dad and I looked at each other. I looked it up and 1.2mm is nearly half an inch.  I called the doctor out on it and he reassured me that my dad could pass the stone.   The day after Christmas, which was about a week later, my sister made an appointment with a urologist and had the stone removed.  I won’t go into how they did it but from the sound of it, I wouldn’t want to have it done.  I spoke to him yesterday and all is well.

Oncologist Report  I haven’t been or heard from my oncologist since last August.  A lot of things have been going on with different meds that had me concerned about my numbers.  You see, I’m on drugs for some ulcers in my lower stomach.  One of the drugs that I’ve been on is Zantac.  This drug has been known to lower the effectiveness of my cancer drug as well as cause cancer too.  In order for the ulcer med to have minimal effect on my cancer drug, there had to be a six-hour delay before I could take my cancer drug after taking the ulcer drug.  Now, the new drug they have me on after taking me off the Zantac, they want me to take it four times a day but still keep the six-hour delay.  Can’t be done.  So far I have only figured out that I can take it in the morning and once at night before going to bed.  This is crazy. Oh, by the way, all my numbers are good.  

Ok, that’s it for tonight.  There are several more interesting items that I want to talk about so stay tuned.

 

 

Thought for Today

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Cat’s do the strangest things sometimes.

Happy Holiday’s everyone!!  Or, as I like to say, Merry Christmas!!

The past few days have been pretty busy and according to my calendar, it’s only going to get worse.  When I worked, I always disliked the holidays because I never had enough time to do what I wanted to do. With my job being what it was, I always had to be there.  If there was a threat of snow, I had to make sure I brought clothes with me to stay however long I was needed.  I always felt that I couldn’t spend enough time with my family.  Now that I’m retired, it seems that it still holds true.  For now anyway.  Both my girls have come home for Christmas but one is leaving tomorrow to go to Texas with her boyfriend to spend some time with them over the holidays.  When she returns home she’ll spend a couple of days here then back off to college.

This year it’s going to be different for my wife’s side of the family.  She lost her mother a few months back and her good for nothing brother and his family are trying to steal the family’s inheritance.  We’ve had one court date but that got put on hold until further notice.  I never really liked that family anyway.

A quick note about my diet.  I’m back on it.  I’ve been on it for a couple of days now.  So far, so good.  If I can just get my wife on board.  I keep telling her not to fix me stuff that I can’t eat but she continues to do it.  She fixed french-fries tonight and I just left them there.  Of course, she got offended that I wouldn’t eat the food that she had prepared.  It’s a constant battle.

I went to Wal-Mart today and I saw what most everyone sees this time of the year.  A Salvation Army Bell Ringer.  This one was different. He played the trumpet and played Christmas music. What a wonderful experience.  He was drawing in the dough.  I could listen to him all day long.  I wished that all Bell Ringers had some sort of talent.  I’m sure their donations would double.

 

Do Over Again

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I was doing so well and then just like a car hitting a stone wall, it stopped.  It’s really laughable.  This has happened so many times in my life that it really didn’t come as a surprise.  I’m upset and then again I’m not because I knew this was going to happen.  In the past several months I have forked out about $100 on diet plans and a gym membership.  I was following both when I got sick and had to be put in the hospital.  Of course, when I got out I was so weak that I didn’t feel like doing anything, including eating right.  I saw myself sliding down but I just didn’t feel like doing anything about it.  I thought about Thanksgiving coming up and that didn’t help any with all that food around so I decided to wait until the first of December.  Starting on the first of the month always seems easier for me for some reason.  Well here it is the 3rd of December and I’m already sliding a bit. It’s been too cold to get out and do any walking or hiking.  I’ve got a membership at a local church gym but I have always had an excuse as to why not to go.  It’s will power, or should I say, the lack of it, is the main reason I’m not doing well.

Since I know what the problem is you would think I would know how to fix it.  Well, I don’t.  I eat the wrong things, I snack too much, I don’t exercise enough.  I come up with a plan to exercise and I always find an excuse why not to exercise.  I’m doomed.  I’m by myself during the day and I have no one to push me out of this recliner.  I have no one to hold me accountable but me and I’m not doing a very good job.  This cold weather is killing me because it’s too cold for me to get out and do any type of walking.  I don’t want to even get out to get to my truck to drive to the church where I’m sure the gym is heated.

I’ve lost 50 pounds before and I know I can do it again but I was working then.  I had to get up and get out of the house by a certain time.  I walked at least 15,000 steps a day then, now, I’m good to get around 4,000 steps.  I had my meals at the same time every day because everything was structured.  Now, not so much.  I have my wife get me up at 6:30 every morning so that I can take some of my daily meds.  I have to wait an hour before I can finish my meds and eat breakfast.  Then it’s a six-hour wait until lunch. I do this because of my cancer med can’t be taken within six hours of one of my morning meds.

Tomorrow is a new day.  Let’s hope I do better than the past two.

End of Week 2 Update.

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This has been a very busy week.  Last Thursday was the last day of a very busy month.  I will not schedule as much as I did last month.  I never thought November would ever get here.  If you saw my last blog, you read of my accident with the band trailer.  I never heard anything today so I guess everything went alright with the insurance company.

The above picture is of an iron pour.  Sparks in the Dark, as they called it.  About 100 boy and girl scouts paid $20 for a scratch block so that they could “scratch” in the mold design so that when they poured hot iron into the mold, they would receive their artwork in solid cast iron.  This was Saturday night, which was very cold to me.

I lost two pounds this past week.  I thought about joining a gym with a personal trainer, one that would tell me what I’m doing wrong and maybe would develop a plan for me to follow.  Then I got to thinking, why would I do that.  Why would I pay for something that I knew in a few weeks or even a month or so, I would change my mind and not go.  I would be just wasting my money.  There is a gym, however, that a church sponsors that I have already joined a couple of weeks ago.  It’s only $5 a month and there’s no contract.  You can go one time a week or five times a week and it’s still the same price.  There’s no physical trainer though.  They do have some cycles, treadmills, a weight room, and ellipticals.

It’s supposed to be pretty and warm the first part of this week.  I think I’ll go to this gym or go to the track and walk.  It’s going to start turning colder by the end of the week so if I’m going to enjoy the outdoors I’d better do it now.

What a Day!! :( Accidents Happen

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It’s going to quite around the house for the next few days because my wife is not speaking to me. She told me not to do something and I did it anyway.  I had an accident with the band trailer on my way to a football game tonight.  The route we took led us downtown Birmingham where they are currently working on the bridges that go through the center of town.  It’s 5 o’clock traffic, it’s bumper to bumper and along some narrow streets.  A lady and her brother were sitting at a traffic light in the left turn lane.  I’m next to her waiting to go straight.  The light changed, I move forward and I hear a long and loud horn blow.  The lady pulls up next to me and tells me that I hit her car.  Now, not only did not hear the crash, I didn’t see it either.  I was not about to stop in the middle of the street and call the police to come and do a police report. But there was nowhere to pull over either. I drove for several blocks trying to find a place and all the while the lady was beside me in the turn lane trying to get me to stop.  We finally stopped at a traffic light long enough for me to communicate to her that I was looking for a place to pull over.  I finally found a parking lot big enough for me to pull into so we could exchange insurance cards and get a police report.  Which we had to wait over forty-five minutes for the cop to show up.

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The school has insurance on the trailer so therefore the school’s insurance will take care of the car that I hit.  I was told that it would not go on my insurance but my wife does not believe this.  And this is where the rub comes in.  When I first sat down with these people to volunteer to haul the trailer, I signed a document stating that very same thing.  Plus, if anything happens to the trailer or any of the contents I would not be held responsible. My wife did not want me to volunteer for this.  In fact, she doesn’t want me to do anything outside the home since I retired.  She always has some excuse for why I shouldn’t do it.  I get paid $100 each time I haul the trailer no matter how short a run or how far. So far I’ve raised $800 and that’s pretty easy money.

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As you can see there wasn’t much damage to the car I hit but still, I hit a car.  My wife is worried that regardless of who pays for it, this will make our insurance costs go up.  I haven’t had an accident in over thirty years and I really doubt our insurance will go up but I can’t get that in my wife’s head.

Our team is in the playoffs and they won their game tonight.  Next week we travel again to another school but this time we don’t have to go through town to get there.  Originally, this was supposed to be my final night but because they’re in the playoff’s we have yet another game to go to.  This could be over an hour away so I’m not really looking forward to hauling the trailer that far. Is it a bad thing to hope they lose so next week would be their last?

The Crossroads

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Decisions, decisions.  This weather we are having doesn’t seem to know where to go.  This morning we woke to 70-degree weather, now as I’m writing this it’s close to 40 degrees and dropping.  It will be a miracle if I don’t end up sick or worse, in the hospital.

Although it rained all day, I got to spend some time with one of my daughters. The other daughter decided she wanted to go to Chicago with her boyfriend.  Their flight kept getting delayed because of the weather in Chicago.  I think their trip had a five-hour delay in getting started because of it.

I was able to take my other daughter out to lunch and we got to spend some good quality time with each other. Time flies.  She and her sister are seniors this year in college. It’s hard to believe.  It seems just like yesterday we were taking them down there. They have both grown up to be responsible adults.

Being that the weather was bad and my daughter was home, I didn’t go to the gym as planned.  My daughter will be here until Sunday and I have somewhere to be both Friday afternoon and Saturday so it may be Monday before I get to back to the gym.

I am sticking to my diet but my problem is that I still have a snacking issue.  Late at night, I get hungry and I head to the kitchen.  Now, instead of eating a bag of chips or ice cream, I’ll fix me some cheese slices with a little bit of mayo on them.  It’s not really filling but it satisfies my grazing needs. But, I feel guilty for doing it.  I shouldn’t eat that late at night.

The good thing about all this dieting is that my blood sugar has dropped somewhat. It’s still got a long way to go but at least it’s going down.

 

Over Zellous Hike

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I’m going to let the video speak for itself.  I will say this though, even though this was only a four-mile hike, the hills were tough for me.  I can go to the track and walk five miles and be sore a few days but walking in the woods with all these hills, that’s a little different.

http://www.tannehill.org/