Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Nothing is Free

    I feel like I need to apologize to you, my readers. When I got laid off, it was easy for me to say I would keep my same routine and sit here and blog, but when days turned to weeks and then months and I found myself still here without any sign of that changing, I lost a little of my focus. It's all I can do to sit here everyday and look for jobs. Jobs, Facebook and my email. That's about all I can do. Oh and maybe Amazon or Ebay... You know. For the important tools of unemployment. Cheap books and DVD's.

At the beginning of November, I posted in here determined again to start blogging and writing a book. Then we got sick. A week or so before Thanksgiving, Smoke came home saying his vision was starting to blur and he felt like crap, like he had a flu. Then we all got a stomach bug that tore through my family and beyond. Then for the most part we all got over it. Except for Smoke.

He continued to feel like crap and his symptoms were so inconsistent that it was hard to determine the cause. WebMD was all over the place with it. But when I noticed he was peeing a lot and still puking, not to mention the vision problems, I had a feeling I knew what it was. But I still hoped for something else.

Since we have no insurance we put off seeing a doctor until finally he just couldn't function and we went to the ER. My fears were answered. He was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Oh and he had pneumonia, which was why his symptoms were all over the chart. When they tested his blood sugar it was in the 600's. Normal blood sugar is in the 100's or less.

I knew this wasn't the worse thing that could happen, but it was still going to be a change for us. They gave him two bags of saline, a first dose of antibiotics and a prescription for diabetes medicine when his blood sugar leveled out in the 400's. We were told to call the free clinic the next day for his glucometer and to fill his prescription for antibiotics.
Before I continue, I want to say how thankful I am for the free clinic. Without them he would not have been treated right away and our holidays would be so much harder. I appreciate all the doctor's who volunteer their time and the county for providing this service.

That being said, going to a free clinic is an experience in itself. First they tell us we have to call around 12:30 the next day to get in around five that evening. We don't get an actual appointment. This is just to get on the "list". Like for an exclusive club.

The day after the ER visit, Smoke calls at 12:30 and it's busy. He calls again. Busy. He hands me the phone and I start calling. It's like the 80's again and I'm trying to get tickets to see Duran Duran from the radio station. I'd forgotten what a busy signal sounds like! Finally someone answers and it freaks me out so much I throw the phone at Smoke. I'd truly given up on ever winning tickets! You are caller number 24 for the free clinic!

He gets on the list and we get there early. We are there ten minutes to five and their are people already lined up at the door. It really is like a club! But without cool techno music.

Finally, they start opening the doors and we have our name check off the list by the bouncer-uh, free clinic person. The waiting room fills up pretty quick but we find seats. Almost immediately we are called back to meet with the finance person and you are lured into believing it will all go that fast.

Ha. We go back out and sit on the couch and wait. First he will be called in so a nurse to get his vitals and then when the doctor's get done at their own practices they will come to the clinic. There isn't even a doctor there yet!

When Smoke gets called back to the nurse, I tell him to just go by himself and regret that immediately. I'm texting Katie and she tells me I'm cracking her up and I should blog about this.

How to explain the free clinic waiting room to you... Do you know how you go to a doctor's office and everyone is sitting in the waiting room with you and you kind of wonder what they have, but people are quiet and not sharing? Well, at the free clinic, it's more of a round robin conversation, where everyone is telling you about their problems and competing about who has it worse.

One man explained to us how he was in the hospital for about two years after having cancer and having everything was taken out of his throat except for his main artery and how, while in the hospital, he would leave in his gown and walk down to the local bar to get a beer. Another man in a hoody said he was still going through chemo himself right then.

Not to be outdone, there was the man who was sitting next to Smoke and was an old pro at free clinics. He would complain how he was melting and would walk out of the waiting room to smoke a cigarette every 15 minutes. Right in front of the no smoking sign they have posted in front of the doors. Did I mention all the smoking made him breath heavy? It was like a crank phone call without the phone. When Smoke left me in the waiting room the only time I let him, all I did was hear him breathing. When he wasn't smoking. He had at least five different surgeries at the hospital and was discussing ways to get on disability with the beer man from above. Apparently he was at the free clinic at noon that day to get on the waiting list. That was kind of strange since we got in and were done while he was still there. Smoking a cigarette out front. Maybe that's why they kept him waiting.

Oh and we had the weird couple who did nothing but play videos on their iPhone and at one point, the man went out and got them some dinner at Wawa and brought it back.

There was a lady playing on her phone with the volume on her phone as loud as it could be and she didn't care. Nobody cared about anything here. It was anything goes. One guy fell asleep and had to be waken up when they called his name.

There was another lady who would periodically get on her phone to complain about waiting at a free clinic. This was obviously her first rodeo! She also started freaking out a little when someone's kid started screaming and wouldn't stop. She kept telling Smoke how "children acting up got her upset." I didn't know what that meant or what could be done. I fully expected her to go over and start yelling at the kid and was almost disappointed when the dad finally took the child outside to hang out with Smoking Man.

Oh and apparently they were trying to get rid of stuff in the waiting room so people were just taking toys from the toy area. Smoke and I were not used to being able to take stuff from waiting rooms and walking out, so we doubted this was true, but who knows. Maybe it was? But it was interesting watching grown people picking out toys they wanted. They said they were for grandchildren, but I had my doubts.

Those who weren't sharing all had shields from the rest of the room. For some it was crocheting or a book or their phone. I had my phone until the battery died while I texted Katie furiously and then it was an old Entertainment Weekly from the summer. The cover was the cast of Fast and the Furious. How topical. And depressing

We finally get back to see the doctor, who was pretty nice. She gives him a prescription for antibiotics, his glucometer and two prescriptions for diabetes.

Then we went to Walmart to pick up the meds and start buying food. Buying food for diabetes is not easy. It's not just about avoiding sugar. You have to look at carbs too. I downloaded a book to my Kindle about the best foods for diabetics. The other night I made salmon with spinach and tomatoes and black beans. He had one of his lowest blood sugars that night!

We have a book and I track his numbers. I'm happy to say his blood sugar continues to go down. I know it frustrates him when suddenly it will go back up again, but I told him it's normal until
we figure it out. We even got into the 100's yesterday!

He's doing awesome and is losing weight. He had quit smoking when he got sick and hasn't started again, which is excellent! I'm truly proud of him.

Today was the first day he left the house without me and I made him a lunch and made sure he had his prescription. That's all I can do.

It's been such a crazy year. I want my groove back. Having a job meant I had a distraction from all the crazy stuff that would happen at home. In a way it's good that I'm home to help get Smoke on track and keep his spirits up as we get used to this new change in our lives.

I need to get back to my writing again, but I still don't have focus. When I was working and going to college, there was a bit of tunnel vision there. It wasn't hard to add writing to that. Not only do I lack vision, but my imagination is a bit stagnant being home. When I try to sleep at night, there's nothing there. No new story to write or adventure to go on in my mind. Just worries. And a little bit of Jimmy Fallon. But I'm pretty sure everyone sees him when they try to fall asleep.

But this is not forever. One day it will be a blip in my life. And it's the holidays. A time for goodness and hope! I have hope. I always have hope. And optimism.

If that doesn't work, I will pay another visit to the free clinic. (If I get on the list) Maybe Heavy Breathing Smoking Guy will have the answers. He knew everything else!

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