Friday, February 24, 2012

All of this...

I find myself really shook by all of this.  By the stroke, the blood clots, the Afib.  And then there's the finances of it all.  This isn't going to be pretty.  I am going in to the doctor's office to get m INR checked everyday for the next week at least.  And there will be lab fees until I can get my INR up high enough that I don't have to continue with the Fragmin/Lovenox shots.  Warfarin is pretty cheap so it isn't going to kill my pocket book, but the rest of my medical bills are going to be significant!

There is just so much uncertainty in my life all of a sudden and it is hard for me to stay focused and positive!  I am moving tomorrow.  A week ago I would have told you that it was a good thing, a very good thing.  I still think it is, but it is also something of an unknown.  And unknowns are not welcome at the moment.

And that my leg and hip seem to be constantly in pain and I can't take more than 1K mg of Tylenol at a pop to deal with it…  it drags on my spirit.  It is really hard to be positive.  I can't use anything with aspirin or ibuprofen or naproxen, either internally or topically.  I don't know how people with chronic pain do it!

I've been to tears and near tears several times by all of this. I am really shaken by this.  I get angry but mostly I am a scared, frightened little girl.

My Second Daughter gave me a list of good things that are going on. positive things to think about:
  • I may have the surgery,
  • I may go on estrogen,
  • I will get some sort of funding for medical (job-related or not),
  • I will date myself  (a post abut this is coming),
  • I will get out there and fish, hike, and photograph,
others I came up with:
  • I will get work.
  • I will be well,
  • I will be healthy,
  • I am Loved,
  • my life is rich beyond measure because of the Love of my family
But I need to focus!  I need to remember!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The visit to my Doctor

I told Dr. Shelly the whole story. Didn't leave anything out. Told her that the first thing they diagnosed was the Afib. And as the stroke was so very small, the Afib is the monster in the closet. Afib is what causes strokes. I, and whatever medical team I have, have to proceed with the idea I can have Afib anytime.

There is no physiological evidence I had a stroke. All my fingers and toes work. My legs and arms work. My tongue works. My jaw works. My tear ducts work. My tear ducts seem to work overtime. I wonder when they'll figure out there's no time and a half.

So Dr. Shelly tells me what I know already, that I will have to be on warfarin (Coumadin) or some sort of blood thinner/anticoagulant for the rest of my life.

She did pointedly say this should _Not_ prevent my GCS surgery.

So we talk about my leg, the thing that started this round of Dr. visits. I explain the places where I hurt. My hip is almost chronic low pain. And my leg above the ankle is hurting to some degree most of the time. My calf and my thigh and outside thigh hurt a lot more occasionally. I tell her I've been taking Advil and Aleve. Haven't really tried Tylenol. I told her sometimes an increased dose of Advil helps some. Then she quietly tells me that because of the warfarin, I can't take the Advil or Aleve. They cause issues with bleeding in my stomach and can mess up the INR readings on my ability to clot. I can try tylenol or another drug. I decided to try Tylenol for now but I am not encouraged. She said I would probably need X-rays of my leg and hip and back eventually. Just that I should put that off for now because of the costs. Oh, fun =/

As she leaves and I walk up to the lab for my first blood test for my INR, tears start to form. All of this is getting to me. I am tired. I feel old. And I feel like I've lost... Not sure what game or sport or race I've lost, but lose it I did. Or that's the feeling. That and the feeling I've let people important to me down. I know I've let myself down.

I'll get past this. I always get past things... I survive. But I am tired of surviving. I am tired of being brave. What I want to do is find a nice quiet corner and curl up into a ball and cry.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Trip to the Hospital

I was visiting with a friend today because she'd had to go in for an emergency appendectomy the night before. We were sitting around nice and comfortable play games on our computers when there came a point in the banter where I had something to say. Only I couldn't get it out. I couldn't make my tongue work right. It felt all fat on the left side and the left side of my face felt funny, kinda numb. I tried really hard but I couldn't talk right. My friends got concerned and we all tried to see what was wrong. I was graced by my Poppa to have these friends around me; they both have good instincts and calm heads on their shoulders. We quickly decided to call 911. None of us said anything but we all were thinking stroke. Strokes run in my family and I have had blood clot issues and physiological reasons to have a stroke. It was only a small surprise and mostly because I felt nothing happen. There was no pain of any kind -- only my tongue felt thick and unmanageable. My tongue, unmanageable -- go figure!

I've kinda been here before. 2-1/2 years ago I had blood clots in my legs that's ad broken off and gone to live in my lungs. I took a trip in an ambulance to the ER then, too.

On the way in to the hospital today, my tongue began to come back to me. It still isn't 100% now 9 hours later but it's nearly cleared up. The ER people were great! They were quick efficient and treated me very well. When they ran an electrocardiogram (ECG) it was determined i had atrial fibrillation or Afib. Afib is a condition where the top portion of the heart just quivers like jello and doesn't really pump blood. Because it isn't pimping blood, blood clots can form and cam then travel to the brain when the heart finally starts pumping again. They took me to a CT scan which showed some minor stroke in my cerebellum, the backside of my brain, but that didn't correspond to my symptoms. The current thinking is I have had at least a couple of small strokes. I have been admitted and have had an MRI of my head and an ultrasound of my legs and carotid arteries. They've found clots in both legs. Tomorrow they will do an echo cardio gram (EKG). I am feeling ok. A little unsure of myself and more than a little scared at times.

[--- The next morning ---]

Last night I was a little flip and not quite clinical when I was writing. I was [am] trying to keep from being overwhelmed by what has happened. I knew it was some kind of stroke. It scared me a lot. It scared me because I thought... was terribly afraid I would have to go through this alone. I am very aware of not having a partner to lean on. Being alone this way feels very much like shooting unknown rapids all by yourself.

Except I have been gently and lovingly wrapped in the arms of my new family. My Second Daughter, Debra, came as soon as she could and stayed the night with me. I look over by the window where she slept, where she is playing on her 'puter and she has never looked so beautiful to my eyes! Or warmed my heart more with her love. And my other friends! Lisa and Staxx took great care of me when his all started [damn lacrimal glands are malfunctioning again!]. Lisa and her husband took care of the home front and Xena. Staxx was critical with her observations and reporting to the ER team and did a great deal of the calling of my friends and family. Stax stayed with me til late last night.

And, Oh! did my family turn out! I have seen or heard very little of my brothers or their families since I came out. But both of my brothers were here and loved me. My sisters-in-law both told me they wanted to see more of me.

But the biggest thing for me with my blood family was my ex (and I hate calling her that) and my First Daughter came with their love. I have not seen my First Daughter, my Pride and Joy, since the summer of 2010. We've only recently begun to come back together. She was nervous and uncomfortable being here in the hospital. Seeing her Dad that now lives as a woman in a hospital gown. Seeing her Dad who had had a stroke. But she hugged me and she loved me. I so needed that!

So Poppa has gently led me to know that I am not ever alone. And He made me know that I am deeply and widely loved. Now, if I can only manage to remember that and rest in His Love ...

- Shannon Tucker
"It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are."
e. e. cummings

Location:Issaquah, Washington

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dealing with Pain and Dating

What I went in to see my Doctor for was intermittent pain in my right leg. The concern was that it was because of blood clots. Dr Shelly thought it was probably a pinched nerve but we were going to check for clots to be safe. I think she was right. I think it is a pinched nerve or something else and we just coincidentally found a clot.  The pain seems to have become constant on some level.  It is not always intense but it's there. I can deal with it.  It seems the worst when I'm driving. Something about how I hold my right foot sets off pain in my foot or ankle and then my thigh and then my lower back. If I'm able to put the car in cruise control, it's better. If I'm in stop and go, it's hell. Several people have suggested its sciatica and it could well be. I just know I hurt ... a lot!  And I expect that it won't be quick, easy and cheap to fix.

So it wasn't easy to drive from downtown Seattle to Issaquah at rush hour on a Friday to see the woman I've been dating. We've been mostly just friends, maybe special friends and there may have been some benefits to the relationship.  We were going to go to a woman's perty, I thought together.  I was wrong. She was already in Seattle and had plans for getting home. I had thought I was her only way in to the party and back. Because of the pain and if were just me, I would have skipped the party.  Which is what I'm going to do now. I am not a happy camper.  Not happy at all.

As for dating and finding the right partner?  I've been deciding to stop looking for her. It's a very difficult thing for me to follow through on. I've always found my self-worth in a relationship with a woman. But I've decided I need to find more balance in my life. I need to explore who I am as a woman beyond being a mom, especially now that My Girls are growing up and are more and more living their own lives and needing me less.  I need to find my self-worth dating a new woman who has been there all along. I'm going to start dating, courting me.

I've got new blood clots

Now what do I do?

After a really long and really thorough ultrasound on my right leg, it seems there are new blood clots behind my right knee (the popliteal vein). This is a sort of "No Man's Land" for deep vein thrombosis (DVTs). Below the knee the doctors aren't worried about a clot breaking off and causing mischief elsewhere in the body. Above the knee we start blood thinning treatment to reduce the chance of a clot breaking loose and getting lodged in the heart (heart attack ), the brain (stroke) or the lung (pulmonary embolism or PE). Two and a half years ago I had a "significant" PE in each lung and one PE not so significant. My friends at the hospital were amazed I was alive let alone ambulatory. I was otherwise fine except for climbing stairs when I would get short of breath.

But behind the knee, neither above nor below, we aren't so sure of the next step. There is a risk with clots behind the knee, but is it significant enough to warrant blood thinning therapy? Because the current standard for blood thinning therapy is Warfarin (sometimes called Coumadin) and has significant problems to consider on it's own. Warfarin is difficult to regulate and needs frequent monitoring (trips to the Doctor's office $$). And another use for Warfarin is as a rat poison.

Where we seem to be in my case is "wait and see." In another week, we will do an ultrasound again to try to determine if the new blood clot is "stable" or if it is still growing. If it is stable, we will increase my current dose of aspirin from 1-325mg tablets daily to 2-325mg tablets daily. If it isn't stable but growing ... we will probably start Coumadin therapy. I really don't want to do that.

There is one small (??) up side to being on Coumadin. If I'm already on Coumadin, I could again consider taking estrogen.

- Shannon Tucker
"It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are."
e. e. cummings

Monday, February 13, 2012

So it seems I have some kind of clotting going on

So it seems I have some kind of clotting going on. Whether it is old clots or new ones, they don't Know aright now.  They need to find and compare some old scans.  I am currently waiting to see my doctor. They may have found something new behind my knee. I am scared. I really cannot afford this. But I am more afraid to face this by myself. It makes me know how vulnerable and fragile my life is.  I have my Second Daughter to fall back on for emotional and moral support.  But she has her own life and challenges.

What I'll probably do is put a brave Face on things and just keep on Keeping On. I am a survivor. I always get by.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Apartment Hunting

I have been in my current apartment for more than 2-1/2 years -- the longest I've lived in one place as a single person. It's a nice little apartment; it fits my puppy, Xena, and me really well. When I came out this was the place I moved to. The location is really good; easy access to the freeway and shopping.

But my life has evolved with new activities and new friends. I am now spending $350-$400 a month driving to the Eastside to see my Second Daughter and other friends. So I am looking for a new place to live, hopefully between Redmond and Issaquah.

I have to be a little smarter about what I'm looking for. The apartment must have a washer/dryer hookup and must have a bathroom bigger than a postage stamp. A nice kitchen with lots of cupboard space and electrical outlets is something else I'm looking for.

I know I'm going to spend more money for anything I find and I will probably eat up the savings in gas with the new rent. But a perq of the new place will be much less time in the car and more time with my friends.

- Shannon Tucker
"It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are."
e. e. cummings

Location:132nd St SW,Everett,United States

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I'm a Lucky Woman

The weekend had been painful; mostly self-inflicted. The therapy session had been helpful, but I managed to turn it into another tool of self-torture.

I walked in to her place, gave her a hug and a kiss onna cheek like I always do. And like always, I started to pull away. But she didn't let go of the hug. If anything she held me closer, held me tighter. Surprised, I sank further into her arms and started to choke up. I started to have those little pre-sobs. Somehow, for no good reason I could think of, I managed not to cry. Eventually [much too soon] we broke the embrace and moved on to more mundane things.

When the [too short] evening was over, we started our good byes. Another hug and a kiss onna cheek like we do. And again, she doesn't let me break off. She holds me tight. And again I start to cry on her shoulder. When we finally let go, I said, "I am a lucky woman!"

And she replied, "So am I!"

I love my daughter and will forever thank Poppa for her warm, loving presence in my life.

Wanting to be Wanted

So … at my therapy session yesterday we talked about the years of being a woman in her prime that I gave up for my First Daughter and Son, that they might have as close to a "normal" childhood or, at least, a childhood that they didn't have to deal with their father the transsexual.

And what did I give up?

I was in better health in those days and it is reasonable to think that my transition would have been different. Perhaps I could have had hormone replacement therapy I wasn't diabetic then and wouldn't have had other health issues that would have held up my GCS.

I gave up a dynamic and powerful time in a woman's life; a time of being attractive, desirable and vibrant. I would not have been beautiful or glamorous, but much more attractive; someone who would have caught the eye of somebody who wanted to know me better.

I know I am a catch. I am not hard to look at for a woman of nearly 60. I am a sweet, sensitive, caring and kind person. I have a nurturing and empathetic spirit.

At 60, a woman with my qualities makes a great … Mom or Gramma.

I have a card on my door that asks, "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?" My answer has been 36 and sometimes 43. And because I haven't been living my true self very long, the middle 30's isn't an unreasonable description of my spiritual and emotional age. The women I hang out with most of the time are in their 30's. Women in their 30's are who I am attracted to. But these wonderful people, that I love dearly, don't see me as a peer. They see me as a middle-aged Mom. A mom they love and cherish and respect, but a mom. Or an older sister-type of person.

The women, attracted to women, more my age see me as a woman and respect me as a friend, but when it comes to dating? They see me still as a man.

It would seem that the people I want to date either see me as a mom or as a man.

My dating pool resembles a mud puddle in the Arizona sun.