January 2, 2014

It’s Been an Interesting Year. Time to Let Go and Move Forward.

Posted in Finances, freelancing, Health, Life happens, personal finances at 3:33 pm by otherdeb

As some of you know, my health took a huge turn toward pear-shaped in 2013. In February, I went through congestive heart failure. In April, I was referred to a cardiologist. In August, I was finally diagnosed with a congenital heart defect that had lain dormant for over 55 years, and now had become something of a time bomb. In December, I had another round with my old enemy, cellulitis.

The interesting news for the purposes of this blog, however, is pretty good. Except when health issues have gotten to me, I’ve been doing freelance stuff all year. I haven’t looked yet to see if it has earned enough to be called a living, but I do know that it was better than the previous year.

I also took a course from Ed Gandia, of the International Freelancers Academy, called the B2B Business Launcher. I had sat in on one of Ed’s webinar’s, and walked away with so much actionable information that I knew I wanted to do the course. It did not disappoint, either. I now have a functional professional website, to which I will soon be connecting my writing blog. If you are looking at freelancing as a career, I highly recommend any course that Ed is teaching, and please feel free to tell him that I referred you. He really is one of the good guys, and he’s a heck of a nice guy, too boot.

I am setting one major financial goal for this year: to create an emergency fund for myself and get it funded so that when the next emergency strikes, and I have no doubt it will, I don’t have to scramble so badly to get things dealt with.

My other main goal for the year is to get back to blogging on a regular basis. I consider that part of taking back my health, and it’s been far too long.  For now, I am planning to stick to my long-established schedule: the food and weight blog on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; the knitting blog on Tuesday, this blog on Thursday, and the writing/grammar blog over the weekend. We shall see how well I can stick to that.

Other than that, I am hanging in. There is some rough family stuff going on, but we all have families so we all have family stuff. I will get through it. It will involve some tough decisions that I never wanted to have to make, but I will make them. It’s also clear to me that I am going to have to really fight to get the proper resolution for my health issues. This is the kind of fight I totally hate, because I am not a medical expert by any means, and I am going to have to fight the arrogance of surgeons who refuse to see beyond chart numbers and risk profiles. But I am nothing if not persistent (Yeah, Glasser, you can say stubborn…..), and I will keep at them until what is done is what gives me the best chance of getting my life back.

So, that’s where things are at right now. What the future holds is anybody’s guess, and I’ll be just as curious to find out as everybody else.

Finally, I wish each and every one of my readers a 2014 that is filled with joy, good friends, family of the heart, health, love, and prosperity.  You all keep me going, and I am grateful for each of you, whether I know you in real life, just from the Web, in comments, or even by your silent presence here. You are all important to me, and I thank you for being there.


May 2, 2013

Some Small Progress

Posted in Health, Organization at 10:44 pm by otherdeb

It’s been a pretty quiet week, but there has been some small progress on the organization front.

M came over on Saturday, and we managed to get the mattress part of the futon frame assembled, and even get some of the replacement screws to work.  I still need to get a drill and re-drill some of the holes, but I’m not rushing.  I don’t want to move the futon off the frame again, because it’s damned heavy.

The roomie is cleaning all her old papers out of the second drawer of the file cabinet I will be keeping, since I now need more than the top drawer for work and personal files. The bottom drawer also needs cleaning out, but getting her to do this took practically an executive order.

I also got four more clothing containers so I can start putting more laundry away.  However, they are currently blocking the closet, because otherwise Kitt opens the door, which doesn’t shut properly because the last several times it was painted whoever did it painted the part of the lock that’s supposed to move, and it no longer moves.  I suspect I can chisel the paint away from that part of the lock at some point, so I can actually close the door properly.

Still, progress is progress, and I am happy enough to be making progress, even though I am still having problems with sustaining energy levels, which makes it a lot harder to be able to perform tasks that require time or strength. That said, I will continue to do as much as I can on any given day.  However, next time I head to the doctor’s I want to ask him about this, since it may be normal for the kind of recovery I’m going through, or it may indicate something else needs to be looked at.

On the financial front, there has been progress too.  In addition to the credit card I got paid off last month, I changed cable/internet providers, and expect a savings of almost 4100/month from what I was paying before.

Even better, my cell phone service gave me an option to get the an iPhone 5 in easy installments – $20/month, and cut the bill part of my bill by about $30/month, so that even while I am paying off the iPhone, I’m still saving $10/month there.

I almost had a tax issue this month.  I filed my state sales tax return on March 10th. Fortunately, I printed out the confirmation number, and filed it.  On April 8th, I got an email from the state saying I hadn’t filed.  I pulled out my paperwork and called them.  I finally got connected to a helpful woman, and gave her my information. She and her supervisor checked every resource they had, but could find no trace of my filing.  I was advised to file again, which I did, and was notified that I would be assessed $50 for filing late.  I questioned this to the woman, and she advised me that I should hit file, and when I got an actual bill in the mail for the $50 I should call them again and ask for the Protest division. I did so, and spoke to a gentleman who checked my records and – because I *always* file timely, and had the original confirmation number (including the time I filed) – waived the $50.  He also suggested that I check the website on May 3rd, to make sure that the credit was issued and that if it hadn’t been issued I should call him immediately, which I will do. Looking at the website, it appears that I do not owe anything, but I will call them on Monday to make sure, since I will not be home much of tomorrow.

So, that’s where things are at with me organization and finance-wise at the moment.

March 1, 2013

Got a Bit of Walking Done Today.

Posted in Health, life, Organization at 12:09 am by otherdeb

Had a quick doctor’s appointment this morning, then headed to Manhattan to run some errands.

Got my ring back from the jeweler, and gave him the broken teapot charm to fix. Met A at TekServ, and now I’m more confused than I was before. I could get an iPad for a reasonable amount,  Or for about $300 more, I could get an 11″ Macbook Air, which is not much more than an iPad, but is an actual notebook computer. With the iPad, I’d need a data plan, which I wouldn’t with the notebook, and an Apple keyboard of some sort.

Both run Pages, which is the program I need for one of my clients.

Clearly, I need to do a lot more thinking while I’m trying to put money away to make a purchase.

Unfortunately, my energy crashed after that, while we were on our way to Best Buy so Abby could look at something. I headed up to the first stop of the express bus, so that I could get  on and get the seat it’s easiest for me to deal with. Headed home, had lunch, and went for a nap.

In terms of organizing, I’ve gotten another box of stuff unpacked and onto the bookshelves (and a few more books into the freebie box). So the pile of boxes nearest the door is gone, and there are only three more piles by the front window. One of those boxes is a storage bin of shoes, another is clothing that won’t fit me for a while yet, one is a container with yarn in it.There’s also two sealed boxes, which are going to be either books, records, cassettes, or videotapes, and a milk crate of notebooks and looseleafs with recipes and knitting patterns. There is also another box of assorted small bits and pieces, which will probably be the last thing I actually go through.

I also have some books to address and send out, thanks to BookMooch, which makes me happy.  At least, I know the books will be going to people who will enjoy them.

Anyway, I need to get back to work, and I have weigh-in in the morning, so I expect that my accountability post on the other blog will be eveningish.

See everyone next week.

December 6, 2012

Teeth! And Money! And a Broken Economy!

Posted in Finances, Health, Life happens at 9:34 pm by otherdeb

I need to have some dental work done.

This is partly the result of having rotten genetic, and partly due to having not paid attention to my teeth when I was younger.

I needed one extraction (a fragment left from when the Union dental clinic refused to treat me), and I need either another extraction or a root canal/post/crown.  And I also need some periodontal work.

I have dental insurance under Medicaid, but…

It covered the first extraction completely, and would cover me if I have the second extraction instead of the work to save the tooth.  For some reason, while extraction are considered important, saving the tooth is considered cosmetic.  Makes no sense to me, but I don’t make the rules.

So.  The tooth that needs the root canal/post/crown is not at an emergency point yet.  The problem seems to have just started.  The dentist even noted that I probably was not yet in pain from it (true).  So I have a little time.  Fortunately, my new dentist seem to have reasonable price for such things.   Unfortunately, it’s still more than I can do on the pension I get.  I have decided to do some knitting to try to raise the money to get the dental work.

My situation is, sadly, becoming more and more common, as the economy worsens.  People in my age cohort (and in others) have managed to amass debt that, while they were working, they could handle.  Then some emergency raises its ugly head, and the debt starts to snowball out of control.  First, one payment get missed; then one or two more;  eventually it becomes a question of “Do I pay my rent and eat, or do I pay my bills?”

Given that it is often taking people significantly longer to find work than it used to, thing continue to get wore, and the next thing is that you are dealing with collection agencies — some reasonable, some not-so-reasonable.  Then the credit rating slip, and it become harder to get a job because employers think that a credit rating shows whether or not a prospective employee is reliable.  (HINT:  It doesn’t, but – again – I don’t make the rules.)  And the longer one is unemployed, the less likely one i to find work, because HR department seem to think that a bad economy is no reason for a person to not be able to find a job.

The plain fact is that the system is broken.  And there is not much those of us at the bottom can do to change it.  And, when YOU need them, the protections that have been taken out of your salary all the years you did work might not be there for you.

This, my friends, is the new normal.  And so long as the CEOs can legally get away with paying less taxes than their secretaries, it will continue to be vastly broken.

What we really need to do is to stop listening to the rhetoric, and tart looking at the actions of those who make our laws.  Look at their voting records.  See who would destroy programs designed to keep peoples’ head above water.

And protect yourself.  Build an emergency fund that can cover at least six months of unemployment.  Start socking away money for your retirement.  Do not assume that your kids will be able to support you in your old age; the way things are going, they will be lucky if they can support themselves and their immediate families.

Do not live above your means.  No one else really cares if  you have the latest, shiniest toys.  And if they do, unless they are willing to help you acquire them free and clear of any strings, you are better off finding other company.

Further, take what steps you can now to improve your health.  With the rising costs of medical care, it’s really the only edge you will have  against the depredations of time.

From the perspective of a 60-year-old who has found the American Dream she was raised on to be akin to a nightmare in some very significant ways, you need to do this, or you will regret it down the road, when reality comes back to bite you.


November 29, 2012

I Hate Having More Month than Money

Posted in debt, Health, Life happens, personal finances at 11:19 pm by otherdeb

This month and last month have been extremely tight, as the roomie and I are battling to reduce the fees I am getting charged for using my overdraft privilege to cover the money she shorted the household account in October.  Checks that didn’t get paid then caused bounce fees, and then — when they cleared in November — caused November payments to either be paid by overdraft or to bounce, incurring fees either way.  I am going to be paying very little other than rent this month, in an attempt to hold down fees.

I also visited the dentist today.  The news there was mixed.  I need one extraction (the fragment of a fractured tooth that the union dental clinic left there after refusing to treat me), and a different tooth needs a root canal/post/crown or to be extracted.  The dental insurance I have covers extraction, but considers the  root canal/post/crown treatment to be cosmetic and will not pay for that.  The dentist and I would prefer to save the tooth, but it will cost $525.  Not unreasonable, but not doable at the moment – partly because of the hole from the bounce fees.  The other thing that makes it maybe doable is that the dentist won’t do the root canal until the extraction is healed in order to prevent the infection that is there from spreading and to prevent any infection in he tooth that needs the root canal from spreading into an open area. So it will be at least four weeks after the extraction before he can do the root canal.  If anyone out there can toss a few bucks toward the root canal my way, or if, instead, you want a pair of handknit socks, a hat, or fingerless mitts, I would be happy to make them for $25.   Your custom would be greatly appreciated, and remember — handknits make great winter holiday gifts!  Please contact me at otherdeb (at) gmail (dot) com for details.

I am feeling more than a bit depressed over the whole fees/dentistry thing, to put it mildly.  I do know the depression will pass — it’s not really my nature to be depressed, thank the Goddess.

Between the reduction in my income, and the mounting problems caused by the roomie’s inability to deal with collection agencies, I decided to apply for food stamps.  Spent part of the day after Thanksgiving going to the Food Stamp office in Coney Island to deliver the documentation they wanted after the phone interview.  I’m waiting to hear back from them.  I really hate having to do this, but it’s either this or succumb to the roomie’s way of eating — mostly carbs, mostly stuff you can nuke out of boxes, or lots of pasta with tasteless sauces.  Since that would send my weight skyrocketing, I bit the bullet and applied for assistance.  It was unpleasant, not because of anything the folks at the office or on the phone did or said, but because all of my adult life I have never needed to ask for this kind of assistance.  To say it’s humbling does not do the feelings I’m experiencing justice.

However, I am a survivor, and I shall get through this.  I know this because I have survived everything else that has come my way.

September 13, 2012

Debt, Your Health, and the Rest of Your Life

Posted in debt, Health, Recovery at 8:58 am by otherdeb

First off, I want to thank Turtle for calling to my attention that my comments were not working, and sitting on chat with me while I floundered my way through the instructions, fixed the issue, and checked all my posts so that comments are now functioning properly. The help and company was much appreciated!

I read an interesting post this week.  Melissa Batai of Mom’s Plans did a guest post on Glen Craig’s Free from Broke blog, “Did You Know Your Debt Can Hurt Your Health?”  In it she goes into some of the ways that being in debt saps your energy. I’ve been thinking about this subject on my own, because in addition to taking up my time and energy, I’ve found that being in debt also affects my moods and even my blood pressure.  It is one of the major causes of the comfort/frustration eating I have done over the years. In addition to the money I have spent trying to pay off debts, the stress of dealing with collection agencies and other creditors, and the frustration that all the progress I made a few years ago has eroded, it leaves me feeling hopeless and frightened.  There isn’t a day I spend that I don’t have some debt-related concern, from “Can I afford the groceries?” to “Can I afford to pick up a prescription?” to “Can I afford the bus fare to a free event?”  It often means I must make do with something that should have been replaced long ago because I simply cannot afford to replace it. And one of the things it means in my particular situation is that I am not able to move somewhere else; somewhere that I won’t have to wonder what stupid financial blunder my roommate will make that I will have to bail us out of in order to keep a roof over our heads, which is probably one of the most stressful things I have had to deal with over the last few years. So, the question arises of how I can reduce the impact on my health that my financial situation is causing.

The obvious answer is that I can pay down my debts, but the problem with that is that I am bringing in less money than I was a year ago.  I am throwing a large portion of what I do bring in at my bills, and they are going down, but this is a slow, long-term measure.

I can try to get moving more.  It’s fairly common knowledge that getting moving on a regular basis can improve moods, and general health. I can also start accepting that while I got myself into this hole, I will not be here forever.

And – perhaps most importantly – I can learn to be patient with myself and kind to myself, both of which are likely to go a long way towards helping me make better choices, since choices made while in panic usually turn out badly.

So, my questions for today are: What effects has debt had on your life, energy, and health?  What steps can you take to change this?

September 6, 2012

Wow. It’s September Already.

Posted in Health, Perspective, Throw Out Fifty Things at 4:17 am by otherdeb

I have slowly and painfully been evaluating where I stand…not much fun, but if I want to figure out where I am going in the future, it needs to be done. One thing I have decided is that I need to be doing my own writing, both in terms of blogs and income generation.  The jobs I have been finding online are not generating the kind of income I want, and I really hate shilling for products I don’t believe in. I currently have one writing for hire project in the pipeline, and I am learning some of the skills I will need in the future, so I am doing my best to fulfill this one last job.  I have made arrangements for hosting one of my three blogs, and once that is going the way I want, this blog and my knitting blog will get transferred there, too. Right now, the one recurring expense I have added is rejoining Weight Watchers.  The roommate and I have discussed this, and decided that my getting healthy again was a priority, and that we could afford to spend the money for the one program that I know for sure works. It’s not a cheap program — the current price is $42.95/month for their monthly pass.  This allows me to attend as many meetings as I want, and allows full use of their online and mobile tools, which is very useful. I have been making sporadic attempts to do the program in Throw Out Fifty Things.” So far, I have ten things (things being defined loosely as groups of things):

  1. Papers
  2. Plastic Bags
  3. DVDs
  4. Boxes
  5. Eyeglass cases
  6. Medicine Bottles
  7. Magazines
  8. Watch Cases
  9. Paper Bags
  10. Ink Cartridges

It”s a start.  And a pretty good one.  I’m not tossing clothing just yet, however;  That will have to wait until I lose enough weight to get into the next smaller size, since I do need to cover my carcass before walking out the front door.

A friend and I were just discussing being caught in-between.  She never had trouble getting a job until she got her teaching certification.  When I went back to school, I had no idea I was setting myself up as unfit for corporate world:  too qualified to be an administrative assistant; not qualified enough to be a manager.  And, at ages 40 (my friend) and 60 (me), we are aging out of a market that increasingly ignores older workers in favor of younger ones — favoring those who they can pay less, regardless of the longer learning curve.

I remember trying to get my first jobs — everyone wanted experience, and I couldn’t understand how I was supposed to get that experience if I couldn’t get a job.  Now I have the experience and the credentials, and I can’t get hired because I am over-qualified (and older).  As my friend said, “on the one hand, its great that we in theory have all these career choices…  on the other hand, there aren’t a lot of careers out there anymore.”  Theory, however, doesn’t pay the groceries or the electric bill, let alone the phone, internet, rent, etc.

For me, I have opted out of that race, and am now trying to carve out my own little piece of the universe.  It’s challenging, and long-term.  And I keep refining the ideas of where I want to go and what I want to do so that I am actually beginning to get a real sense of focus.  However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still days when I want to hide under the covers.  And overcoming that, I suspect, is the biggest challenge.

So, although this is short, there is a lot to think about.  Here are my questions for the moment:  What do you do to reinvent your life when you are caught “in-between”?  What piece of the universe can you carve out, succeed at, and call your own?

August 1, 2012

It’s Been an Interesting Month

Posted in Health, life, Recovery at 10:02 pm by otherdeb

I finally got the approval for Medicaid, which will make life easier going forward.

July has been filled with followups and followups of followups.  I’ve had an ultrasound, a second endoscopy, several medication foul-ups, and — today — a Doppler of my left leg to rule out deep vein thrombosis.  The preliminaries of the Doppler are good.  The swelling in the leg is from the infection, rather than deep vein thrombosis.

There was reason to worry.  In addition to the infection, I have a number of symptoms that cause cardiologists to cringe:  My father had two heart attacks — both coronary thromboses; I am over 50 and overweight; I have some slight varicose veins.  I also have a slightly enlarged heart, high blood pressure, and a heart murmur.  For all these reasons, they wanted to rule out the deep vein thrombosis, and they have pretty much done so, although the final word will come from the doctor at the clinic when I go on the 10th.

Between navigating the hospital campus, going to dinner with my friend Naomi, and picking up prescriptions, I got the most walking in that I have in a while:  2,486 steps. Yeah, it’s nowhere near what I used to be able to do (and want to do again), but it is a start.

I also called the office I will be using to handle my claim for disability, and found out what my preliminary steps are.

So, overall, it’s been an interesting and productive day.

July 14, 2012

I Really Thought It was the Asthma

Posted in Health, life at 10:56 am by otherdeb

Okay, many of you know that I’ve been feeling kind of run-down lately (not to mention feeling kind of run-over).  I really did think it was a combination of the weight gain and the asthma but – and you know it kills me to say it – I was wrong, and pretty horribly so.

I’ve been faithfully going to the asthma study appointments, and taking the meds, but my asthma has not been getting better.  I knew that was a possibility, but at least the study was keeping me in asthma meds, so I was not complaining.

Then, back in mid-April, I woke up one morning with a coughing/choking fit.  My roommate, not knowing what to do, did nothing; trying to yell for her while choking, I could feel a vocal cord go “boing;” so now I had a strained vocal cord to add to the mix.  That was finally starting to heal when I got the news about Lisa Rogers passing.  I knew there was no way I could make all the necessary phone calls, so I made a few strategic ones, asking people to pass the news on, but I managed to restrain the vocal cord nonetheless.  I now speak – as Dave Weingart pointed out – about four octaves higher than normal.  Additionally, a badly strained vocal cord obstructs one’s breathing; just what I needed.

Nevertheless, I was still carrying on – sort of.  I was finding going out less and less attractive, unless I had someone to drive me, because it was just too damned hard to do public transit.  And forget about walking; I needed to take my cane along for anything more than about half a block – not because I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other, but because I would need to stop and rest when I ran out of breath.

Now, if I still had health insurance, I could have gone to my doctor – he’s only 3½ blocks from my house, but when I retired, I lost my insurance coverage.

On June 21st, I woke up with my teeth chattering, and feeling unwell.  Figuring I was getting the flu again, I went back to bed.  Over the next 24 hours, I became less and less functional.  I didn’t even look at my cell phone, or I would have seen that my sister had called on the 20th, and the 21st.  When, on the 23rd, I still hadn’t answered her calls, she came to the house, took one look at me, and told me I was going to the hospital, and I had a choice between Coney Island Hospital and North Shore University Hospital.  When I realized that I was actually too sick to tell her to “Fuck off and die,” I agreed to go, but asked her to call Marc Glasser.  Being sure I was going to argue with her, she went on a few minutes before she realized that I had agreed.  She then called Marc, and he came over.  It took both of them to help me get out of bed, although I was able, with my trusty cane, to walk to Marc’s van.  They took me to North Shore – a much better hospital than Coney Island will ever be.  When I was admitted, my blood pressure was 96/52 – great if you are a marathon runner; pretty horrendous if you are an over-50, obese woman with hypertension. They also told me I was dehydrated, which I was sort of surprised at because I was drinking 20 oz. containers of 1/3rd juice mixed with 2/3rds water constantly over the previous few days. It was so bad, in fact, that on Monday the doctor told me that if I had asked my sister for a night to think it over, the question would not have been “which hospital?” but “Burial or cremation?”  We got there around 9 pm on Friday night, and it was eventually decided to admit me.  Marc and Paula left around 4 am, and I was in a room by 7 am – pretty good as far as getting admitted from an ER when you have no insurance goes.  The diagnosis was cellulitis that had gone both septic and systemic.

On Saturday, the Medicaid rep, a nice lady named Michelle, came around, and we worked out what I would need.  My sister came by, and took the papers – telling me she would get it all handled.  (She didn’t, but that’s probably a blessing, although it ended up holding things up for a bit.)  She also insisted that I have them look at my throat, because she was absolutely positive that what I knew damned well was a strained vocal cord was actually a cancerous polyp.  (It wasn’t, but that comes later.)  I was put on IV antibiotics (Vankomycin – 1 bag a day from Saturday through Tuesday), as well as oral antibiotics (Cipro – also from Saturday through Tuesday), and told that once they felt I could do only oral antibiotics they would release me.  Paula and Marc both visited me on Sunday, and I had a very welcome surprise – a call from Nancy Thalblum, offering to put a note on Facebook for me.  (My roommate supposedly put notes on #filkhaven, and Plurk, but, somehow, those notes never showed up.)  On Monday, they still had not looked at my throat, and I realized that they were not going to do so until the Medicaid paperwork was at least started.  Since my sister was holding things up (mostly because I refused to tell the lies she wanted me to), I called Marc.  He graciously agreed to come and do some running around for me on Tuesday, so that the paperwork could get moving, including taking my roommate to have a letter notarized, and dropping paperwork off at Michelle’s office.

While he was doing the running around, they finally came and did an endoscopy of my throat, and decided that they needed to do a CAT scan of my throat and chest, and that they were going to release me that evening after they were done.  Marc couldn’t stay that long – for some reason, the traffic both to and from Nassau County has been horrendous lately.  However, a friend (Joanne the Librarian) was planning to visit me that evening, arriving just about when the hospital was planning to cut me loose.  I called her, and she agreed to drive me home.  So, I was told that there wasn’t much movement of one vocal cord, and I underwent the CAT scan, came back to my room, ate dinner, and waited for Joanne.  While I was waiting, my sister called, and when I pointed out what the endoscopy showed, she admitted (possibly for the first time in her life) that she was wrong and I was right, and that – while she really, really, really hated being wrong in general – in this case she was glad.  When Joanne came, they discharged me, giving me prescriptions for different blood pressure meds than I normally take, and a bottle of doxycycline to take for the next seven days.  I didn’t argue with them, although I know damned well that one course of antibiotics does nothing as far as my body is concerned.

Joanne drove me home, where I found that not only had my sister rearranged half my room, but the two things I had asked the roommate to do were not done.  Since one of those things was to make my bed, because my sister had put the sheets in the laundry while I was in the hospital, I was less than amused. (Her excuse for not doing that was that she was hoping Joanne would do it).  The other request was that, since floor was now visible, would she now vacuum it?  (Her excuse for not doing that was that there were electrical cords on the floor.)  I made the bed (Joanne had a two hour drive to get home, and work the next day), and went to sleep.  I vacuumed the floor the next day.

I did take all the antibiotics, and then another three days’ worth I had in the house.  They worked somewhat, but there was still some infection left, and the back of my left leg was now a hot mess, because the infection’s way of fighting back was to turn the back of my left leg into blisters, which would break when touching any surface, including the bed.  I had showed this to the doctors in the hospital, but they said that nothing could be done, since it was clearly the infection fighting back, and would heal eventually.

I still had some swelling of the ankle (although more my usual swelling from the hypertension than anything else), but the leg was no longer bright red.  On Tuesday July 10th, Naomi Moslow drove me out to the first of the follow-up appointments the hospital had set up.  This one was at North Shore’s Medicine Clinic, on Northern Boulevard.  They took a complete medical history, looked at my leg, and prescribed another round of Doxycycline.  They did not put me back on my normal hypertension meds, but on a greatly reduced regime of a different blood pressure medication and a much lower amount of the beta blocker I was originally on, and think that a lot of things I’ve been dealing with for the last few years may have been misdiagnosed.  They also gave me a prescription for mometasome ointment to put on the leg, and that has reduced the mess by about ¾ since the 10th (I’m writing this on the 14th).  They also want me to set up an echocardiogram appointment, to check out a heart murmur I have had since roughly 2000, and while it will be a pain to get to, I agree with erring on the side of caution.

My next follow-up is Wednesday, the 18th, with the doctor who did the endoscopy.  The doctor at the Medicine Clinic told me that I have a paralyzed left vocal cord.  The doctor who did the endoscopy will discuss with me what should/can be done about it.

The good news is that I was able to go to ConCertino, the Massachusetts incarnation of the Floating Northeast Filk Convention.  It’s the one convention a year I almost never miss, and I was really glad to make this one, as it meant I got to see friends from out of town (both Chicagoland and Great Britain) that I otherwise would not be able to see for a very long time.  I also got to see friends from the Boston area, and got to meet a very lovely young fan named Batshua, who I hope to stay in touch with.  She had asked on LiveJournal about a room share, and I offered, hoping to cut the cost of the room to where I could actually reimburse the friend putting the room on his credit card while at the con (I could and did).  Another thing that worked out was that Harold Stein was able to fix my computer while I was up there, so I am now working on transferring files from the computer Sue loaned me to mine.  Then I can give her back her computer, and we can return the computer Marc Glasser loaned me to him.  Also, thanks to Spencer, I was able to get my iPhone to a guy he knows who might be able to fix it.  We had a spot of trouble over the provenance and date of manufacture of the unit, but that seems to have been sorted out.  I will theoretically find out next week whether it can be fixed or not.

Meanwhile, I have had a good deal more energy than I’ve had for a long time, although I’m nowhere near up to what I had before all this stuff happened.  On the other hand, when I had to testify, on July 3rd,  in a case I was involved in as a witness, I was able to get into Manhattan, over to the State Supreme Court, testify, and get home – on one of the hottest days of the year!

This was the case where I was on an Express bus, an old woman on a walker, who several passengers had seen approach the bus and had agreed should not be on the street without a companion, as well as her walker, insisted on being let on the bus, and before the driver could raise the lift, fell over backward. (The funny thing is that both witnesses [myself and another passenger] were on the driver’s side – we watched him ask her several times if she was sure she wanted the express bus, and we both watched and heard him operate the lift, and we knew he had done nothing wrong).  The night before the case, each side’s attorney called me.  The MTA’s attorney just wanted to know what time I was coming in.  The old woman’s attorney called what I had to say speculation, and asked me to consider another scenario; when I asked him why his speculation was better than mine, he accused me of having a vendetta against the old woman.  I told him that I did not have a vendetta against her, but I replied that I was on the scene and he was not.  The case was settled in the MTA’s favor – probably the only time in my life I will ever support the MTA over a consumer, but right is right, and I was not gonna lie.

Sadly, I had to pass up going to the NYUSFS Ferry Meeting on July 5th, because it was a horridly hot day, and I knew that I would not have enough spoons to go in by public transit, walk from the express bus to the Ferry, then travel to wherever the group decided to go for dinner, then get back home.  So, rather than hold everyone up, I decided it was the better part of valor to stay home and send my regards to everyone.  Marc did tell me that the meeting was fairly well attended, so that made me happy for the group.

The other good news is that I have begun to pick up doing some transcription work again.  While it doesn’t pay a heck of a lot, it’s money coming in – something we can use around here, since my pension doesn’t cover a heck of a lot.

Anyway, that’s about it for now.  Hopefully, everyone and everything around me will continue well for a good long while.

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