Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Preparing and Thinking About Big Messes

Apparently we're supposed to get official winter Storm Jonas here on the Eastern Seaboard on Friday and Saturday so today Jim and I prepared for it. Oiled the snow shovels, sprayed Pam on the old synthetic broom I always use to sweep off the walkways and got out the Quick Melt for the steps.

Around noon we went out, got a few things and went to the park to walk around and feed the ducks. It was cold but invigorating. A 180 degrees from growing up in South Louisiana where if the temps get near freezing or there are a few random flakes everyone freaks out. The first time I owned a proper winter coat was when I moved to Germany.

Washed and dried all the throw rugs, bath mats, etc and swept and mopped, which is likely the worlds dumbest move on the front side of the bad weather. Snow here usually means that the cats and Jim and I once we start trying to shift the frozen stuff off every car start tracking road salt, Quick Melt, sand and melting snow into the house, turning the beautiful wood floors into quite a mess of drying puddles ringed with white. This year I think I'm going to put a pan next to the front door and a couple of old beach towels. Take off the boots at the door, wipe up the mess.

While I was in and out, dealing with deep winter preparations today I kept popping in and out of online, seeing a big mess happening on one Duggar-related site I am a member of, but rarely post at. Over the last month or so at this place there have been more and more photos posted of Jill Duggar Dillard and Derick (why do I always think of 'Zoolander' whenever I type this poor kid's name?) Dillard's ten month old son.

I'm not even going to post that poor baby's name. But the photos and speculation is going in a way that is telling me that many in the anti-Duggar sites are headed straight into creepy and inappropriate-town. I'm so glad that I decided for NLQ that discussion of minors, no matter how famous or famous via parent they are that we're not going to discuss them.

Been asked why we haven't chimed into the discussion on the swaddling photos that Jill posted showing was seems to be her child crying his eyes out wrapped in a blanket. Well, it's because it's concerning this child and I'm not comfortable with speculation on this kid at all.

Today's dramatic discussion and denouement was over the same child, over photos posted by his mom. Why? A bruise on the forehead. A bruise. A bruise like every active child that age that crawls, gets into things, is learning to walk routinely gets.

Heck, the first six months after my son Andy learned to walk he was sporting a bruise on his forehead frequently. Once he was mobile he didn't walk, he ran! He would get up in the mornings and run headfirst into his sister's room to wake her up. He was so active as a toddler that if I had him out and about in Germany, say at the zoo, or the farmers market or on the subway I quickly discovered I had to put him in a leather padded harness and leather lead. If not he would be gone in a flash.

Yeah, I got dirty looks over the harness and lead, but it was better than having him dashing into the street. He was very active and being allowed to walk instead of being in the stroller made him much happier, even if I wasn't exactly happy how he'd stick every cigarette butt, bug or other thing he'd encountered in his mouth if I wasn't watching with an eagle eye every second.

Which is why I was so uncomfortable the minute people started howling that Jill was a bad mother because her young son had a bruise on his noggin. Commenters were diagnosing everything from some sort of palsy to him being mentally challenged. Some went as far as claiming Jill was an abusive or neglectful mother, insisting that someone call whatever version of CPS there is down in whatever part of Central America the Dillards live in now.

See, here's the thing with that. I know that there are message boards out there that love to call the authorities and make child abuse and/or neglect claims from photos they've seen online of the children of various mommy bloggers or reality show television people. I know of one in particular who that is their raison d'etra who've caused a mountain of troubles for people having a bad public moment. But really, unless you are there, witnessing first hand that the bruise was caused by someone slapping their child into a cabinet or hearing an outcry witness like the siblings you're just speculating based on a small narrow window of time, a single photograph.

Let's face it, childhood isn't all roses and peaches. There are stubbed toes and bruises, bloody noses and scratches from an entire spectrum of things. It happens no matter how carefully you at watching every move your child makes.

And parents are always going to make dumb mistakes. There will always be moments where you are suddenly distracted for a millisecond and look back to see Lil' Mr. Perfect has decided to chomp on the pebble near his feet. It happens.

Let's grant grace for those moments and worry about our own parenting instead of everyone else's parenting lacks. Perhaps we can all learn something from those moments.

Makes me happy I'd decided there should be a moratorium in 2016 on the discussion of under age children on NLQ.

We're not called to be perfect as parents. We just do the best we can and hope it's good enough.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Duck Bowling?

It is cold out there today. When I got up this morning the windchill put the temps in the minuses. But I've been home more than not lately so I was starting to feel a little antsy. Particularly since..... drum roll please....... THE MEDICINE IS WORKING AND I CAN USE MY RIGHT HAND at least for a while now each day.

No more whining and crying or mourning today thank gawd. Just a lot of chilly errands ahead of the big snow. You'd think we were getting a blizzard tomorrow because the store was filled with folks hording milk and yogurt and eggs.

Took some time out to visit the park and feed all this last week's stale bread to the ducks. With the low temps the lake is mostly frozen over. When the ducks saw me coming they RAN...and slipped and slid into each other, bowling others over. I wish I'd have taken a video instead of this lone still right before the running on ice happened.

I'm going to revisit in the morning and see if I can get a duck bowling video.

One of the things I never like about going to the park is even on a day were it was all of a balmy 18 degrees when I was outside there are random dudes lurking in the park. Most of the time they're just sitting in their trucks, staring at who knows what. Makes me nervous. Never expected to see three of them on a day as cold as today. What on earth are they doing there?


Monday, January 18, 2016

Mourning Again

After a late bedtime after Andy stopped by the house for a visit I got up late. Pedro actually graciously allowed me to sleep in till after 8 am.

But I was just working on that first cup of coffee when I found out two things that almost made me drop that first cup of hot reviving coffee. First my friend who's sister was mia in Oz announced that the police had found her sister's body. They arrested the killer too. I feel so horrible for my friend and wish there was something more I could do simply listen to her. I wished I lived near her because I'd be at her house, cooking, cleaning, doing whatever she needed. Alas I'm on the other side of the world and my heart breaks for her loss.

The other news was both good and bad. Dale 'Buffin' Griffin, of Mott the Hoople died last night in his sleep. The good is that he's in a place beyond pain, hurt and the illnesses he's suffered. The last few years he's been in a nursing home because his Alzheimers got too bad for him to stay at home with his partner. He's suffered and it's been miserable on so many levels from what his family has said.

But it still made me cry, at least just a bit. Mott the Hoople was one of my favorite all time bands. I saw them more than once,  hitchhiking up to some of their gigs on their 1974 tour. I met him briefly after one of the gigs and he was a gracious polite guy to a beyond thrilled teenager that was me in those days. I followed the careers post-MtH of all the guys, buying the albums of the various musical projects and incarnations of Mott the Hoople. Godspeed and rest in peace Dale.

Another piece of the strange trip that was my teenaged years now gone.

I wasn't a big Eagles fan but the passing of Glen Frey this afternoon didn't make me any happier. Why are all these guys dropping dead? Timing and age sucks.

2016 is rapidly shaping up to be one of the suckiest years I've lived through...

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Irritated and Chafing

Sort of describes my state of mind today. It's been a tough week, and I'm not talking about trekking back and forth to the doctors/hospitals either. A couple celebrities that I admire died, first David Bowie followed by Alan Rickman. Cancer sucks! Then someone I worked with and knew pretty well killed himself. While all this is going on one of my friends in Australia is living a real life mystery 'Gone Girl' - Her sister disappeared and the media is all over it. My mind has been preoccupied and sad this week.

 Last night Jim had a long, sometimes unfriendly, phone conversation with his brother while I cringed nearby and listened in. They did make some headway on the things they're both irritated about with each other. Jim told him how hurt we all were to travel 1,500 miles to be treated like Cousin Eddy, actually no, Clark and Ellen treated Cousin Eddy and his family better than they treated us.

On the flip side Jim's brother thinks that our decision to move the Maw In Law here is purely spiteful, motivated by some desire to 'get even'. He doesn't understand that we all picked up on the tension between Maw In Law and his wife and are concerned that perhaps she's taking it out on Maw In Law. Even our adult children feel this way. This is about Maw In Law's needs and the sense we all have that there's a problem on their end.

The other thing he was upset with us about is that we didn't call his wife that Christmas Day to inquire how she was feeling after he dumped off the food and ran. Jim did tell him we all thought she was faking her illness based upon many of her Facebook posts and things she did right after being so so sick.

I have freaking damn infectious systemic something wreaking havoc on my body since November 27th, was in the hospital twice this week alone and they haven't asked me once how I'm doing. Nor do I want or expect them to. Again, you cannot dictate the behavior of others, which they do not understand at all. 

They ended the phone call on a somewhat conciliatory note, agreeing they should communicate more. Not me, what I have to say to them would be expressed with the F-word used many times. No one hurts my husband and kids like that and gets a free pass.

Will this mend anything? Likely not. Jim expressed a desire to have a relationship with them. I'm still done with them and unless I see some genuine behavior changes I'm going to stay done with them. For over thirty years I've smiled, not taken offense and swallowed all the insults, bad behavior and sneering from their side to keep the family peace. Right now I do not give a fuck about family peace, I only care that my family not be exposed to any more of their bullshit and drama.

Had a hard time sleeping after that late night phone call. The clusterfuck continues even if I'm merely an observer now.

This morning I played church hooky, stayed home to wait for Laura, giving her an update on her uncle's ongoing drama. The concensus is still the same, that it's stupid and petty.

We did some shopping and went out for breakfast this morning before she cut the visit short to make a quick run for home. It started snowing here like mad, it wasn't sticking, but Laura was still concerned about the hour drive back to her house.

Waiting for Andy and cruising the interwebs. Something interesting going down with the child of someone mentioned in Vyckie Garrison's story on No Longer Quivering. I'll post about it shortly.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Merde Versus The Fan

Sitting here eavesdropping on a conversation between Jim and his brother. It's ugly and it's uncomfortable. Apparently when Jim spoke to his mother this afternoon she expressed a wish to die soon to be with her late husband. Then she told him she didn't want to move at all.

Don't know what's going to happen here now. Jim is determined to move his mother here. I sense we really need to do just that because there is tension between the Sister In Law and the Maw In Law. But now the BIL is putting the kabosh on that.

Sick to my stomach. I hate this. I'm done with them.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Rest of the Story

Today I spent most of the day with my friend Joanie in Northern Virginia. We went shopping. I'm in the middle of planning a home remodel and have started buying things I need to complete organizing it before we start remodeling. We will be shortly repainting the kitchen and dining room and I have some fun ideas I want to use in each place. Expect photos when I'm done.

I also bought boots, fancy leather boots, for next to nothing and a pile of Christmas craft supplies on final markdown. But the weather is rainy and crappy so between the weather, my thumb and the capacious butt load of medication and pain pills I'm on I was ready to end the trip and come home at least three hours earlier than I got home.

When I got home I was surprised to see a 'Thank You' card from my passive aggressive super-fake newish sister in law. I'm still not sure what she's thanking us for considering we didn't see her once on this last trip and she behaved in some rather nasty ways before it was all over.

I left off my recitation of 'Christmas From Hell' with me in bed waiting for Jim and the kids to get back from their kava bar adventure in Austin. Part one is here and there's also a Part two. 

When Jim got back he said that the kids told him I'd received a pile of emails from the SIL that I'd not opened. I told him by looking at the subjects it looked like she'd merely forwarded all the reservation information to me after I complained I wasn't in the loop on any of this.

I get oodles of emails every day and while the thumb was at it's worst I wasn't even opening them, just letting them pile up. Now I've read most of them but not responded to more than a few.

He insisted I get up and open the emails right then and there. I did. Yes, they were forwarded reservation information on our Airbnb house. But at the start of each reservation was a nasty note, things like 'You don't like the house!?!?! GET OUT and let us get the Maw in Law a refund. You need to get a hotel room on your own!' and 'I did all this for you and you are sooooo ungrateful!!!!' (really all she did was spent five minutes online without consulting with us or anything and booked the first full house that came up in that town... nothing else) and 'yadda yadda yadda don't take your rage and hate out on me' hateful screeds about a variety of things.

I wasn't going to reply to any of it because it really sounded unhinged and was quite the overreaction to the initial email I sent her insisting on knowing the house wifi password three nights before. But Jim insisted I apologize just to keep the family peace. I did, I swallowed my irritation and sent her an apology email, even if apologizing was the last thing I wanted to do.

The Sister in Law sent an email back saying it was no big deal and that we should get together that day for coffee or beers. I emailed back and said that sounded great, call me anytime.....and we waited and waited and waited.... de nada. Finally Laura and I decided to go out and hit the area thrift stores. It's something we love to do together and we'd already looked up where the stores were and mapped it on our GPS. I decided to call the SIL to see if she wanted to go shopping with us, or just meet for coffee since they live about ten minutes from where we were staying.. total silence. I left a message, we wait... total silence. Finally Laura and I go out and hit a few stores.

As we're sitting in the parking lot of HEB preparing to go back to the house my cell phone pings that I have new Facebook notifications and I open it up just in time to see a photo from the SIL posted on FB of a large complex jigsaw puzzle with the words 'Lazy Christmas with no plans is the best! Nothing to do today or over the last week so I finished my annual Christmas puzzle.' Laura and I look at each other and I'm going into 'Oh bitch, please!' mode. On the ride home both Laura and I conclude that our first impressions of the SIL four years ago as a fake phony woman were right on the mark.

How absolutely passive aggressive can you get after I've tried to reach out to her. At this point we'd been in Texas about five days and only have one more day to be there.

I'm done with her at that point. I don't do passive aggressive. If I'm pissed off with someone I might rant and stew for a bit, but eventually I do talk to them about it and I don't try to somehow 'punish' them in an underhanded way while I'm thinking about whatever the thing is I'm upset over. I do what I did when I needed the wifi password, I spell out what's needed in a polite manner explaining why it's needed.

I come home and tell Jim about this. Neither of us know what to think. Over the week Jim has started to get more upset over the way his family was acting and watching him suffer from the snubbing from his brother was awful. The next day, our last full day in Texas as a group, we get up and decide to go see the Alamo and downtown San Antonio for the afternoon. Jim calls his brother to see if he wants to go with us. Silence. He doesn't respond to voice mail or text messages.

Jim reaches his breaking point with his brother, calling up and telling his brother that he must call back immediately, that it is imperative. Eventually the brother calls and they have a very ranty and unfriendly conversation where his brother tells Jim that they've never had a relationship, that Jim is hideously selfish and demanding, yet when asked for examples cannot come up with any. It's the same old bullshit about when they were kids in elementary school and mom liked you best... ridiculous things to still be angry about in your 60s.

Jim told his brother that they owed the kids and myself an apology and the conversation gets nastier. Turns out that it is the Sister In Law that is the most upset. Why? Because according to her we've never thanked her properly for taking care of the Maw In Law. She wants monthly 'Thank you' cards, gift cards and lavish acknowledgement. I was aghast to hear this because we're both thanked her many times. Hell, I made and bought nice jewelry and sent it to her a number of times with a thank you note. We've always made a point of thanking her, but it's not enough apparently.

Which sort of blows my mind because I know many people who routinely do the right thing in life and do not expect others to fawn over them and make a big deal of their doing the right thing. 

I'd already sensed three years ago that there was already some tension between the Maw In Law and the SIL but figured since I had heard nothing further about it from the SIL that they must have resolved it.

Life experience note here: You cannot dictate the terms of a 'thank you' when you give someone a gift or do something for them. I routinely send out thank you cards because that's how I was raised. It's how I was taught to react to someone doing a kindness for you or giving you a gift. Years ago I realized that if someone wants to thank you that they will, but on their own terms. I'm okay with that, I find life is much easier when you don't have those types of expectations. But expecting lavish praise all the time like the SIL seems to need isn't an indication of an emotionally healthy person. I have noticed in the few years I've known her that she seems very insecure and constantly needs to be told how wonderful she is or she pouts.

Okay, so I admit I made a mistake in blowing off her emails thinking that they were just copies of the reservation. I should have opened and dealt with the emails right away. Live and learn. Will not make that mistake again.

But I've also learned that usually my first impression of folks is right on the money. Three years ago when we'd been out in Texas for Christmas I'd thought that perhaps I'd misjudged the new SIL because she was behaving so nicely. I was happy and encouraged that Jim and his brother seemed much closer than ever and were getting along. The rule through the years has been that when the brother is married he doesn't get along with Jim, but the minute he's free and single he's all palsy-walsy again with his big brother. It's just weird.

We have a family meeting, Jim, the kids and I and decide 'Fuck Them!' we're having an awesome last day in Texas and we go out to the Alamo, get tipsy on German beer on the Riverwalk and enjoy the weak December sunshine as we walk around Riverwalk. We go home the next day.

One of the most disturbing things I got to hear from my kids was when my son said that from the time he was a little kid he always knew that his daddy's brother thought he and his family were better than us. I got to hear from my son how impacted and hurt he'd been by his uncle. Once I hear that I am so damn done with my BIL and SIL. I don't care if you try to hurt me, but once you try to hurt my kids and my husband I am just so done. I'll be polite to this duo if I have to be around them, but I'm over trying to be 'nice'. There's no more hospitality. When this marriage falls apart or some tragedy happens I will not be opening my door to welcome either of them. I. Am. Done. 

We hear nothing from Jim's brother and his wife up until I share with Jim how his mother was calling me last year and complaining about his brother and the SIL. Jim starts making plans to move his mother up here with us. Which is what she initially wanted to do years ago but his brother stopped from happening. We hear from the brother saying that we can move her if we want but he's not going to lift one finger to help.

Today when I was in Wegman's grocery store with Joanie I saw a thank you card with a middle aged guy with super short shorts on, his pasty flabby dimpled butt cheeks were hanging out of the shorts, right on the front of the card. When you opened the card it read 'Thanks a Butt Load!' I laughed and thought that this was the perfect card to send to the brother in law but decided to keep taking the high road with these two. Coming home to find that silly insincere thank you card from the SIL was too much. What the heck was she thanking us for? We never once saw her.

I feel like sending her a note asking if she is either on drugs or did she fall down and smack her head because a thank you note was not really appropriate after this visit. But, le sigh, I'm going to take the high road, at least until we get the Maw In Law moved closer to us.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Doctors Are Kind of Like Assholes...

Do you remember that old saying that opinions are like assholes? Doctors kind of fit in that category as well. Just like assholes they all are different and hold differing opinions.

The thumb, the thumb that would not quit. Sunday at church was pure misery I was in so much pain in the hand and thumb but could not take any pain pills because Jim and I drove separately. I'm still involved with worship and he's head of counting up the offering. Interesting enough there is a lot of whining, crying, in fighting and blaming among those that court up the monies. They cannot even agree on best practices. Jim has a mess on his hands. The kind of ugly nasty church mess that I run far away from.

I was in misery the rest of Sunday and most of Monday, throwing in the pain pills again like M&Ms.

Tuesday morning I had an appointment with my dermatologist that I'd set back in late October when my hairdresser pointed out a suspiciously skin-cancer-like spot on the edge of my scalp. When he came into the exam room, took one look at my updated medical history and went right for my thumb/hand. "What about this spot on my head?" I whined as he was manipulating my hand. He barely glanced at it and told me it was an age related thing that was harmless. Great.

He believes that the thumb and hand infection was also fungal. Wanted to do a biopsy and more bloodwork but I declined. I was not there to see him about my hand.

Today I finally got in to see the infectious disease specialist a few towns over. Before the appointment was over not only did they do a skin biopsy but I found myself in the Infusion Center getting another round of IV antibiotics and an IV antifungal. Have scripts for another month on antitbiotics (new ones) and something to bring down my viral load.

Will this make this misery go away? I am hopeful. Today is the first day I did not have a fever since the 27th of November. I'm not having to take the pain pills and I have regained a little use of the thumb.




Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Been a subdued sad sort of a day. Once I woke up and heard the news about the loss of David Bowie I spent the day on the edge of tears. Something about his death hit me in a way that none of the recent deaths of the famous have done.

The last time I reacted to the death of a musician it was when Freddie Mercury, lead singer of the band Queen, passed on from AIDS. The day Freddie died my youngest child was a mere four months old and I was trying to prepare for a week long visit from my in laws and mourning at the same time. Terrible week pretending everything was normal, but inside I was saddened almost to the point of tears every day. I'd been a huge Queen fan since buying the album Queen II in the summer of 1974.

That time frame was a point in my life where the music and artists had the deepest and most profound affect on my day to day life. I was quite ill in the mid-70s, having had a tumor removed and in the last gasp before my awful childhood asthma went into remission. I went to a lot of concerts in those days and my favorite artists I listened to religiously were Queen, Mott the Hoople, Bowie, The Who and Deep Purple. Others came and went but that bunch was the soundtrack of my days. I've seen all those artists perform live in the 70s in New Orleans.

It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times, but their music got me through those days. Apparently I'm not the only one deeply touched by the music of the time. Earlier today my dear friend Cindy Kunsman posted a piece written by Dwayne Walker about The Who's movie "Tommy" and how the movie relates to survivor wars and trauma. I can see that. I remember the summer of 1975 where I had the soundtrack to "Tommy" on my turntable the entire summer. As someone that was sexually abused as a child that movie is one of my favorites because it shows the possible outcome of the secrets we keep and the things we repress.

While I never followed the life and news of David Bowie with the same obsessiveness I did that of Freddie Mercury and the guys in Mott the Hoople one my favorite memories of him was at the memorial concert celebrating the life of Freddie. He dropped to his knee and recited The Lord's Prayer between songs. I remember being blown away by this because prayer was definitely not rock n' roll cool. Only David Bowie, iconoclast breaker of rules and boundaries, could get away with something so out of place at a rock concert. It also gave me a tiny glimpse into the kind and decent man that lurked just behind the perfectly tailored suits and cool hairstyles.

Bowie gave me hope in my teens that not fitting in, that following your own inner beat, was not only okay, it was freeing on so many levels. For many of us it was our first exposure to a sexuality beyond  the established gender roles of the time. Bowie straddled that line between masculine and feminine in a time when people not gender-norm weren't everywhere. He really was like a man from Mars showing up.

After coming out of a evangelical charismatic church I no longer believe in the Christian constructs of heaven and hell like they've been taught by the church universal. But I do believe that there is an existence after death. The only comfort I take in the loss of this visionary artist is knowing that out there in the great beyond Freddie Mercury, John Lennon and Spiders From Mars guitarist Mick Ronson were waiting for Bowie. I pray he is at peace and in a place well beyond pain.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Family Drama and Thumbageddeon Continues

I took down a few posts I made Christmas week but I think I'm going to restore them because they offer a glimpse into the awful crazy mess Christmas with my in laws turned into. Cliff Notes version. My brother in law and his new wife behaved very badly the week we drove 1,500 miles to see the Maw In Law and them for the holidays. A trip planned six months ago. A trip where I spoke to them less than a week before we left and everything seemed copacetic before veering into el strango passive-agressive land once we arrived. It wasn't even the Airing of the Grievances of Festivus.

The worst part of the holidays was watching my beloved husband suffer at the emotionally cruelty of his brother and his actions towards my adult children. Snub me if you like, but hurt my family and earn my blazing hatred. I am done with them.

The good of the trip is that it's shown all of us in our little family how close we are, how deep our bonds go. It's given me a new appreciation for my husband, my children and Laura's boyfriend. It was a good time together for our family. 

One thing that the trip exposed is that the many phone calls I'd received from my wonderful Maw In Law right after they moved her to the retirement home near the Brother in Law's might have been more than just her moving anxiety. There's clearly something that has happened negatively between the brother in law's new wife and my Maw In Law. They live mere minutes away, yet visit every week or so. There's some sort of tension and resentment that Maw In Law doesn't deserve.

Maw In Law has been nothing but pure kindness to me since the first day I met her. I had a mother in law that hated my guts in my first marriage and have forged a great relationship with her over the last thirty two years. She doesn't deserve to be drug away from everyone she knows and then ignored like this. Jim has started taking steps to try to move Maw In Law to the large retirement community five minutes from us. Brother in law is already upset over this. I predict there's going to be a huge amount of drama from their side, but Jim and I are going to do like we did on the trip, be as kind, polite and logical as possible and not accept any more bullshit from his brother. What's the most important is making sure Maw In Law is being taken care of.

And while all the family Christmas hijinks were ongoing my thumb is no better. I'm only able to use the computer for a short while daily and am mostly on my iphone for Facebook since texting is easier on it. Downloaded a program that turns voice to text for things like this.

This Monday I reached a level of frustration over my thumb still being swollen, red and unbending and saw that it's clearly spreading to the other fingers in my right hand. I can use my ring finger and pinky on the right hand, the others do not bend and hurt very much.

So what do you do when the doctors at the primary care office you go to keep just simply tossing in more and more antibiotics to something not healing? You try to find a specialist and get a second opinion. For me since I have unbending digits I went to a friend of mine who happens to be a local orthopedic surgeon. Since Monday I've had another set of xrays, a MRI and another set of blood tests, this time looking for any number of rheumological illnesses, yes, like lupus or rheumatoid arthritist, lyme disease, even things like hepatitis.

All negative. The only thing the tests and exams revealed is that I am having a fever around 100 degrees daily, I'm in extreme pain, have a elevated sed rate and white blood cell count. Something systemic is going on.

Here's what he's thinking I have. A fungal infection picked up in Costa Rica that has lain mostly dormant until the minute I got put on a brand spanking new high dose inhalable steroid med by my lung doctor. Which made my immune system stand down and allowed this thing to grow. If this is true then all the antibiotics I was given merely strengthened this thing according to him.

I'm not convinced it's not psoriatic arthritis because of the why my hand skin looks and the many symptoms I have. But we'll know something soon. His staff got me an apointment on Wednesday with the local infectious disease specialist and I'll be getting skin biopsies that will conclusively tell if I picked up one of the many fungus's or viruses common in Central America. Culturing the skin will take three weeks but will narrow things down finally.

So the local guys have misdiagnosed me, and when I didn't improve just simply threw more antibiotics at me. At least my friend gave me a prescription for enough strong narcotics to get the entire town high. If I have to deal with this pain for another month before getting a definitive diagnosis and treatment there has to be some pain relief better than what I was on.