Something about which I wondered today...

Should I move my political views to a new blog? Check out MisLeading Wisconsin for the latest in Scott Walker's contradictions.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Maybe an answer for the medical problem?

I went to see a neurologist from another medical group a couple days ago.  He listened carefully, took copious notes, and, from things he said, he obviously had studied my file previously.  After about 40 minutes or so, he asked if I had had a virus or been exposed to one back in Nov. 2009 when this numbness started.  Although I couldn't remember, the doctor said this could be a post-viral rection--essentially my smaller nerves were damaged as a result of the virus.  Although the nerves have likely healed, my body has retained a kind of nerve memory (like the body having muscle memory).  I'm taking an anti-depressant now to deaden the memory in my nerves (lucky me, I'm hitting, like, every single one of the side-effects: nausea, increased heart rate).  I've also been scheduled to get two more nerve tests to determine if this is, indeed, the problem.

The doctor said it may take several months of meds for results. 

And, even if it's not, at least it was an answer.

Or at least it was something to try.

Thank God.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

She will be remembered

Laura, our 30 year old niece, a wonderfully sweet and funny girl, a staunch battler of seven years against her stage 4 ovarian cancer, a woman of hope and faith in her Lord, passed away quietly on Sunday, with her mom, dad, and sisters beside her at hospice.  Her faith, her determination, and her spirit will live on as an inspiration to those who knew her, and even those who never had that pleasure (as in Laura's Smile Mile for ovarian cancer awareness).  We'll miss you, Laura.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Saying goodbye to Laura

Our niece is in hospice care.  I guess, by definition, that means she won't be with us long.

Laura's only 30 years old.  She got her college degree, got married, and then a few weeks later, at age 23, she was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer.  She's only 30 years old.  I write that again because I just can't believe it.  30 years old.  That's just too young to die.

I didn't have too much connection with Laura, to be honest.  I married into the family when Laura was 17--her life was filled with other things (as are all 17 year olds), so we didn't spend time bonding.  Whenever I saw her it was with the large-scale family, allowing for the litany of small-talk questions: How's school? How's work? and the like.

But she was always sweet.  And positive.  And smart.  And witty.  Just a lovely young lady.  She read at our wedding (she's Jodi's goddaughter).  She always included us in family invites later when she married. Did I mention she's just 30 years old?

She has fought this cancer with every treatment in the book (and some that aren't, I am sure).  Her faith has been incredibly strong, her outlook incredibly positive.  Her in-laws began a foundation and an annual walk/run to increase ovarian cancer awareness, and it's been a huge success.  They call it Laura's Smile Mile, well, because she brings smiles to so many people, and she smiles, and laughs, so much herself, even through seven years of fighting this.  Now she's 30.

When Jodi and I stopped in to see Laura at the hospice on Memorial Day, I stayed pretty much in the shadows, as I have always done, peripherally involved in stories told, nodding, sharing a smile.  When it came time to go, I touched Laura's arm--I've never hugged her or anything, except probably at her wedding, and now I couldn't because she looked so frail I feared she might break--and told her I loved her, and that I would always remember her reading at Jodi's and my wedding.

Since then, word's come from Laura's mother that Laura has accepted that her time is coming soon. We stopped in yesterday to say goodbye, I guess.  I sat in the periphery, as usual, but when it was time to go, Laura held out her arms for a hug, our cheeks pressed together, and she said "I love you."

She's only 30 years old.

That's just too young to die.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Medical update

For anyone who still checks this for info on my numbness, here it is:  The numbness and arm weakness that came a few days back seem to have intensified.  My calves are numb (which I don't recall them being before, as opposed to my whole legs), and it's possible my shoulder blades (whichever muscles that would be) are, too (they feel differently, but maybe it's just how I've been sitting around).  My right foot is virutally completely gone, figuratively, and my left foot is about 75% gone pertaining to feeling, although I can still perceive pressure when I walk (which I counldn't do with the last episode a couple months ago).  My neck even feels a bit lighter, so I don't know what that's all about.  And my right arm is joining my left arm a little bit in terms of strength loss.

I'm sure hoping this won't get worse before it gets better, but, even if so, I guess I have a baseline from the last episode and can assume that this is merely temporary.

Say a prayer.  Thanks.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Neglect and numbness

I've certainly neglected this blog for my political blog MisLeading Wisconsin ( ).  And it's been very exciting, to be honest.  I've interviewed Sen. Erpenbach (one of the Wisconsin Democratic 14 that left the state to deny a quorum), I've gotten an e-mail from former Governor Jim Doyle saying he'd check out my site, and I've been in contact with national editorial cartoonists, obtaining their permission to run their cartoons on my "Laugh About It" page.  And I've gotten some comments from visitors (not a lot yet, though), and most importantly, I've gotten a chance to research and write about topics that are vital for this wonderful state's future.  If you can visit, please do.

I also said I'd use this as a health chronicle.  Even though the neurologist said that no news is good news, and all my tests say I'm healthy, I still have had the general numbess in my limbs.

Today, it's getting worse again.  My left arm feels like dead weight (especially the bicep area), and the tops of my feet and the back of my thighs have severely lost feeling.  It certainly feels like it did before the last episode that made the neurologist think MS (the MRI showed absolutely NO markers for it, thank goodness).  To be honest, I don't recall the backs of the thighs going out before, so I'll see how I'm doing tomorrow.

But, the good news is, if history is any predictor, the feeling will come back to where it was.  I'll just have to wait and see what happens.

And keep writing MisLeading Wisconsin, of course.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Ah, Baseball

I love baseball.  It means summer, green grass, having a beverage out in the sun.  And the make-up of the game is perfect for warm, lazy summer evenings--you can tune in for an inning, come back later, and probably not have missed a thing.  And even if you did, every inning, every pitch really is classic drama: pitcher vs. batter, batter vs. fielder, fielder vs. runner.  Any pitch could be the one that turns the game.  And any player could be that day's hero, no matter how bad they are.

But the best thing about baseball is that you can be down to your last out and still come back to win the game.  I told my second graders that before the Brewers opener--just like life, you can be way down, and still come back.  It was actually (I thought) a pretty powerful and positive message.

And it proved true.  Cincinnati hit a three run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to win it.

Right message.

Wrong team.

Go, Brewers

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Has Sprung

A beautifully sunny (albeit chilly) day.  The birds are singing like crazy--it seems every year I wonder, were they this vocal last spring?  And the Brewers start on Thursday.  I'm taking more walks (because I can), and am really enjoying doing so.   My legs are still a bit out of control, and my shins (yes, my shins) are completely spent by walk's end, but I'm doing great (well, except for my NCAA bracket...).  HAPPY SPRING!  (and GO, BREWERS!)

Friday, March 25, 2011

More lies from my Governor

As you may or may not remember, Governor Scott Walker's "budget-repair" bill was passed in the Assembly just after 1:00 AM, when many Democrats (and even some Republicans) weren't in attendance.  Then a quickly called committee meeting allowed the Senate to also take the vote soon thereafter, despite a democratic committee member protesting that no one even had time to read the bill.

I just happened to stumble upon a Walker quote from the Appleton Post-Crescent (April 24, 2010), when he was running for Governor:

(Walker) promised to sign legislation if elected governor that prohibits the Legislature from voting after 10 p.m. or before 9 a.m.
 "I have two teenagers and I tell them that nothing good happens after midnight. That's even more true in politics," he said in a statement. "The people of Wisconsin deserve to know what their elected leaders are voting on."

So the people of Wisconsin really DON'T deserve to know what their elected leaders are voting on, after all? 

Again, shame on you, Governor Walker.

P.S. An appeals court just said a Milwaukee ordinance requiring sick leave for private corporations--which was voted for by an overwhelming majority of Milwaukeeans two years ago--is valid.  I am SOOOO curious as to how Walker plays this. When the votes favor HIS agenda, he says, "Hey, the people voted for it." Well, the people voted for THIS, Governor. So, do you follow the same rules you've asked everyone else to accept regarding YOUR laws and accept the "people's will," or do you pull strings--and invoke hypocrisy--to change the rules?

Remembering an Uncle and a Marine

Today I traveled to King, Wisconsin--the veterans' home near Waupaca--for my Uncle Carl's funeral.  Uncle Carl (a former Marine who was at Iwo Jima) was never shy, whether talking about politics or how Brett Favre would never become a decent starter (which he maintained throughout Favre's career), but he was pretty much always entertaining (in a good way).  At one time, he owned a bar in Three Lakes with my Aunt Marge (his third wife), and a long time ago, he once ran unsuccessfully for county sheriff.  I went up with my parents (Carl was mom's 14-year-senior brother) and my sister to meet with Carl's 12 living kids/stepkids, and assorted other relatives to share in telling stories about his life.  I remembersoftball games at the family reunions--they let us little kids play with the adults--and Uncle Carl always seemed to pitch against me.  He gave me the business with every pitch, but it was always in fun, and I could tell he was as thrilled as I when I dropped one over the infield to reach first safely. 

I hope my nephews have warm memories of me, too, when I'm gone.

Rest in peace, Uncle Carl.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Brief Update

The health is good.  I've taken to going on more walks, because I can.  The tingling is still there, there's some pain in my left ankle and left bicep, sometimes my feet don't follow my body, and my left arm has about 85% of the strength it had a few weeks back (before it went dead), but I'll take it.    A couple weeks from now, the neuorologist will let me know that which will be the next steps, so to speak.

Oh, and regarding a Scott Walker update: it looks as though 91,000 seniors will have to pay more for their prescriptions, a program to preserve Wisconsin farmland will likely be discarded, and the Governor's new budget bill makes the mediator for labor disputes (such as those brought by unions and citizens against Walker regarding unfair labor practices in not negotiating before the current changes) no longer impartial, but a governor appointee.  These interesting and exciting revelations, I am sure, are tragically just the tip of a very horrific iceberg for our great state.

But, hey, I can walk.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Not My Health, My State's Health

I obviously think Governor Scott Walker is morally bankrupt.
Here are some examples of his lies, ostensibly done to purposely deceive the people of Wisconsin (these are not union tweets, but from well-researched and local articles).

***"I campaigned on (the proposals in the budget repair bill for Wisconsin) all throughout the election. Anybody who says they are shocked on this has been asleep for the past two years."  --Scott Walker, 2/21/11.  PoliFact (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who endorsed Walker for Governor), 2/22/11 (rated FALSE);
       Walker never mentioned the proposal on his official campaign website nor debated it during his two-year campaign. It reverses long-standing policy in Wisconsin, among the first states to give public employees union rights.  Wisconsin Senate passes public-sector union curbs, Reuters News, 3/9/11

***Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says his budget-repair bill would leave collective bargaining “fully intact”  PoliFact, 2/18/11 (Rated PANTS ON FIRE)
***This (collective bargaining) has never been about union busting, it’s about balancing the budget.
      Walker promotes splitting of budget repair bill to effectively strip collective bargaining rights (NOT as a fiscal matter).

***He had also has made clear in recent days that he would not negotiate or budge from his plan to sharply curtail collective bargaining rights for state employees.
--PolitiFact, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 23, 2011   Walker reveals e-mail proof of negotiations with Democratic leaders. –March 6, 2011

Again, these weren't passionate rhetoric or being misinformed, these are CALCULATED, DELIBERATE LIES MEANT TO DECEIVE THE PEOPLE OF WISCONSIN (all of us, not just the teachers).  If you need specific citing of the articles, please let me know.

Which is worse, really--fleeing the state because of your principles, or LYING because of your principles?

Shame on you, Scott Walker, Glenn Grothman, and every official backing this heinous measure.
And may God save the great state of Wisconsin.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Good Boat

I got the call from my doctor yesterday regarding the results of my brain MRI.

It's not MS.

Actually, that should be IT'S NOT MS!!!!!!

They have no idea what is causing my limb numbness and assorted symptoms, but after conceding it sure seemed like multiple sclerosis, it turns out it isn't.  I know many people live okay with MS for years, but I didn't want to be one of them.  It's conceivable that the causes behind my symptoms are even more insidious than MS would be, but them not knowing has given me new hope that it may be okay someday, that I might be okay. 

I'd be incredibly remiss without thanks to God (although I thank him, too, especially now, for days I can walk, things I can do, friends and family).

Hey, but with not knowing what this is, I'm in pretty much the same boat I was two weeks ago--except with MS ruled out.

That's a pretty good boat to be in.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Waiting Game

I had my MRI last week.  The sedative-like drugs were so good I barely realized I was in the MRI tube, and everything went well.

Now I just have to wait for the results.  I'm pretty sure it is MS (I've been told that once they go to the brain MRI, they've just about ruled out everything else), but I'm not quite sure as to what that would really mean.  I think I'll spend time (especially at first) waiting for the next attack.  Then waiting to see if it subsides.  Then waiting to see how much deterioration takes place.  Then waiting for the next attack, and so on.

But I've heard that medication and exercise can often successfully slow the progression, and, again, my wonderful wife, Jodi, will be by my side, so I'm hopeful it won't be as bad as I envision, at least not right away.

Until then, I'm waiting.

Monday, February 28, 2011

A walk the other day

I wrote this a few days back, the sensation in my toes had been completely absent for two days (it returned joyfully the day of this walk).  The realization, to that point, was sad and frightening.

Took a walk through Regner Park, mostly along the somewhat shoveled pathways. You know, you try to will yourself to walk straight, even though you know it’s not working. You lean to one side and your body follows. And you look back at your tracks in the snow, and you think maybe the toes of my boots always dragged, then you notice the slight curvature of a walk steered by little else besides momentum. And you slip on the slightly snow-covered walk, unsure if it’s icy, or if it’s you.

Look at this, here I am talking about the negatives of the walk. To be honest, it was beautiful. The snow—big cottony flakes I could easily catch on my tongue—drifted lazily, as if they had nowhere to be. That’s kind of how I took my walk. I went off-roading, gently trudging through banks of snow halfway up to my knees, just because I could. I stopped to watch a crow. I listened to the brook tumble through the rocks at the turn where I could always find the crayfish—with Jodi when we were dating, with my nephew Josh when he would come to visit when Grandma and Grandpa lived up on the hill at Mitter Circle.

And I thanked God for all this loveliness. I felt regret that I hadn’t done this every day of my life—I’ve probably walked through Regner Park fewer than a dozen times since moving to West Bend more than a decade ago. And of course I cried. Some of it was me feeling sorry for myself, wondering when, or if, I’d get the chance to ever do so again. Some of it was gratitude, I think, that I can still do this. That I’ve had 50 wonderful years of doing so, even if I didn’t take advantage of it.

And as I cried upon returning home—in the bathroom with the fan on—my Jodi, my sweet, wonderful Jodi, awaited me sitting arms outstretched when I came out. And as I relayed my thoughts, my regrets, my fears generated on a walk through the snowy woods, she said, “It’s all changed.”

Yeah, it’s all changed. Hopefully I can appreciate more that surrounds me. Hopefully I can live in the real world, not in front of the television watching another rerun of Seinfeld in high def.

Well, not everything’s changed. I still have my Jodi. And with her by my side, this MS thing will be as much of a piece of cake as it can be.

My calves are completely spent. My left arm has a hard time staying elevated above the keyboard as I type. The tops of my feet are going numb (or, more accurately, more numb) again.

But I had a perfect day in the snow.

And a perfect woman waiting to comfort me when I got home.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Category: Life sucks sometimes

About a year and a half ago, my left arm started going numb.  Within five minutes, my right arm followed.  By the next day, both my legs joined them.

The doctor thought it might be a virus (a reasonable diagnosis pertaining to a healthy, 48 year old man).  It didn't get better, it didn't get worse.  I had a physical and Cat scans and MRIs looking for nerve problems, circulation problems, whatever, and everything looked great.  The neurologist sent me to a physical therapist.

But I still had no feeling.  Well, some feeling, but more like the tingling prickly feeling you get when your leg has gone to sleep.  And, thankfully, it still hadn't gotten perceptibly worse.

From my reading, thank God I didn't have pain or loss of strength--two symptoms that might point to multiple sclerosis, a nerve disease that has no known cause, and no known cure.

About a week ago, my left arm went dead.  It was a struggle to write, even a struggle for me to keep my arm anywhere except hanging limply by my side.  A couple days later, pain was in my now-terrifyingly-numb feet.

And that's when I started to freak out.

The neurologist said it was time for the MRI of the brain, which would either rule out MS, or rule it in.

Needless to say, it's been a trying few days awaiting the MRI. 

I know it's not a death sentence if it comes out as MS, but it's no fun either.  My physical and cognitive abilities will gradually decline (most readings say it may be up to 20 years before MS takes complete control), with episodes generally becoming more severe, both in terms of duration and intensity.

And although I rationalize that I'm coming to grips with the possibility of having it, and that my support group--especially my selfless and wonderful wife--will minimize its effects, my random crying when I watch the snow fall, or hug my bride say otherwise.

So, if you're religious, say a prayer for me, but please don't feel sorry for me.  I'll be okay.

It'll just take me a while to realize that.