There’s been a lot of depressing stuff going on lately. Our dear adopted mother, Rosemary Wood, passed away recently (nice Kenosha News article about her life here), then my brother-in-law Bob Brackney passed away suddenly, there’s my wife’s medical issues, mass shootings all over the place, President Trump gets more depressing with every one of his goofy un-president-like Tweets, and on top of all of that, Fall has arrived in force, and it’s freezing outside.

The weather, of course, is to be expected, but it’s still depressing every year at this time–at least for me. It’s beautiful, at least when the fall colors arrive in the trees and the temperature drops to the 50’s and 60’s, that part is actually my favorite time of year. Very comfortable for walking and spending time outdoors, having a nice fire going, I love it. But then, always much too soon the temperature drops down to the 20’s and 30’s and the snow and slush arrive, as well as my annual sinus issues and a cold that also settles in for the winter, and the days get shorter and shorter until I’m going to work in the dark and also coming home in the dark. Once that (this) happens I don’t feel right again until some time in the spring.

Socks gets so confused walking in the dark, so now our walks are limited to the weekends for several months. I think this depresses him as well. But this is all just part of the cycle. All we need to do is hang in there and things will eventually turn around again. Even with Trump. I am little reassured knowing our government has so many checks and balances in place that should prevent immediate catastrophe, but how much of that has really been put to the test? Trump is sure pushing that envelope. But I’m not political. so enough about that.  Except this:  I found this in a recent book I read:  “Voting is a lot like driving… ‘D’ takes you forward, ‘R’ takes you backward.”.  I got quite a kick out of that one.

On another note, my blog has clearly become a one-way outlet for me–Just a place for me to vent, post some notes, happenings, etc., so I’ll try (my famous last words, I know) to post more often, whether it’s news, reviews, complaining, or even just a little fiction I’ve written, I’ll try. But I know that this site has recently lost it’s #1 fan (Rosemary), and that saddens me even more.

Good Christmas? I’m hip!

Since midday Thursday I had been in severe pain. It has something to do with my right hip or something in that general area. I had minor problems before this with might right leg going a little numb whenever I sat in my recliner for an extended period of time. To alleviate it, I would sit up or get up and move around, then the feeling would come back and I’d be fine again. No real pain, just a numbness–just an inconvenience seemingly just to keep me active and not being lazy for too long, I figured.

But Thursday, the day before my nice 4-day holiday weekend, I tried to walk for lunch. I made it about 1/4 mile when the pain started hitting me hard, and it was in BOTH hips this time. I went back to work the rest of the afternoon, and it started getting worse and worse, and spreading. By the time I got home from work, I ached all over. It was like I was getting the flu, except the pain in my hips was far greater than the other aching I had all over. I tried to lay down for awhile, but it was impossible to get comfortable, as each hip felt worse when I laid on either side or moved in the slightest.

Kevin had a doctor’s appointment the next morning and we had planned to go see Rogue One after that, but I wasn’t so sure at that point whether any of that was going to happen, the way I was feeling. I assured him that night, when he got home from work, that I’d try my best. We were both really looking forward to seeing the movie, the doctor not so much.

I took some Tylenol that night and actually managed to get a decent amount of sleep, though it was a bit rough. By morning I felt a little better. Still a lot of pain, but most of the aching was gone, then left hip felt fine again, but the right now still throbbed and was painful to stand on and just about the same to recline in my chair at home. I was kind of stuck with not being able to get comfortable at all. Very frustrating. It was a very rough time for several hours, but eventually it subsided after a couple more Tylenols and I was able to get some sleep.

The next morning was better, thank goodness, and I was shocked to be able to walking pretty good with only a little pain in the right hip & leg. The flu symptoms seemed to have almost completely disappeared. I woke up sweaty, so if it was a touch of the flu, maybe I was able to sweat it out overnight. So I figured at this point we were still on for the movie and Kevin’s doctor appointment. These went fine, and I was even a little surprised I was able to sit through the entire movie, stay awake, and enjoy myself! Being a huge Star Wars fan, I thought the movie was great!

During Kevin’s doctor appointment (we have the same doctor) the doctor asked how I was doing, so I explained my symptoms. I said I had pain and aching in my leg, but hadn’t mentioned which one. He asked “Is it your RIGHT leg?” and I said yes. How he knew which leg, I have no idea, but I should have asked. He said to let him know when I’d like to come in for an appointment myself, and he’ll probably have to schedule an MRI to see what’s going on.

The following day was Christmas Eve, and we spent most of the afternoon and evening at Matt & Anna’s. We had a good time and great food, and everything was very nice. The next day, Christmas, we spent at home, just Kevin, Sandy and I, opening presents and relaxing, then had a nice Christmas dinner that Sandy spent most of the day preparing. All in all, everything turned out very nice.

Sometime on Monday, December 26th, as I sat in my recliner with the pain and numbness coming and going a bit, I realized something. My WALLET was in my back right pocket–as it always has been since I was a teenager–and this hurt along with the rest of my right thigh and leg. Suddenly that light buld went on over my head and I hit the Interwebs in a flash. Sure enough, it’s a thing. Sciatica. Look it up for yourself. Hip Pocket Syndrome.  Why didn’t my doctor mention that possibility? I don’t know.

So I’ve removed my wallet from my back pocket, and since carrying it in the front pocket doesn’t help much either, according to the articles, I’ll stick to other options from now on. I’m so used to making sure it’s there by feeling for it though, it’s going to take some time to adjust and not panic when I realize it’s not there any more. I’ll get used to it. Now I need to focus more on exercising that leg and stretching more to try to reverse the damage. Hopefully it’s not permanent. If all goes well, and the recurrences of very bad pain and almost inability to walk at all go away, I’ll know for sure that the wallet was definitely the issue, no doubt.  I know I shouldn’t self-diagnose, but if that was the issue and it gets better now, it’ll sure be a lot cheaper than an MRI and several more doctor visits–my copays are rediculous.

Ah, clarity…The Focus returns!

The Ford dealer called me at work yesterday and said he had good news – the Transmission Control Module came in for the Ford Focus–now, instead of in November as they originally said.  He said they’d possibly get it done today (yesterday), but maybe not, but it should be done by the end of day tomorrow (today).   Then last night while I was out walking the dog, he called again and said it was done and I can pick up the car.  They’re open until 8:30pm.

Sandy and I picked it up after she got home from work at about 7:30pm, so that’s it for that issue.  The car is running fine again, and we both have wheels.

Sandy’s Car

Sandy was at a client’s home last Tuesday evening, got done, and was about to leave when she found that her car wouldn’t start.  A message on the display kept repeating “Parking Aid Fault – Service Required” every time she tried to start the car.  It would just click and show that message, the car wouldn’t start at all.

So she called me, I googled the issue and found that it’s a common problem effecting this make and model, and the problem is with the Transmission Control Module.  The module needs to be replaced in order to resolve the issue, and based on user comments online, some people have had to wait (and others still waiting) weeks and even months for a replacement!  Yikes!  So I told her to call State Farm for a Emergency Roadside Service tow and I’m on my way to pick her up.

Since then her car has been at the dealer.  After two days they were able to look at the issue, and called us back explaining everything we already knew, and that the TCM is on backorder until early November!  The tech explained to me that this is a common problem with this part on this model, so Ford has extended the warranty to 150,000 miles for the part, and it’s now in such high demand that they can’t keep up, which is why it’s backordered.  The tech said he’d update me weekly, and said it might take less than a month, but that’s the longest it should take.

So we’re down to one car for the moment.  Sandy’s using my car most of the time, since her job involves driving to multiple clients each day.  I have a co-worker driving me to and from work in the mean time.

Her car sure has had it’s share of issues since we bought it!  I guess you live and learn.  We’re just glad we also got the extended warranty!


Socks, our Chihuahua, recently had his 14th birthday.  I wrote up a paragraph, but never posted it anywhere after I got busy and never completed a little photo album I planned to put together with photos from him over the years.  Here’s what the little posting said though:

Happy Birthday, Socks!! I know you don’t have a Facebook page, and can’t even read for that matter, but you still have birthdays and we’re celebrating! You’re officially 14 years old today, which makes you 98 dog-years old! Dayum! You still get out there like a trooper and walk with me, now more than ever, and you seem to love it–right up until you decide “Ok, that’s enough!” and plot down under a tree while we’re still out walking and refuse to go any further. I usually end up carrying you the rest of the way home or back to the car, but that’s ok, you’re light, so it gives me a little weight-lifting exercise!  You’re a bit slower today than you were back in the “Peanut Days”, but you’re hangin’ in there.

There was one more sentence about the photo album, which I removed because I never got around to finishing the album.  Oh well.  So many things drop to the wayside like that, I’m noticing.  It seems to happen more and more as I get older.  I must be slowing down.  There’s actually about 8 different articles in my “Things to post on my website” that I never finished, including this year’s 9/11 posting.  Bad, Jim, bad.  And so it goes.

So, if you don’t mind, I’m just going to start posting little things here, complete or not, just to to get them out.  I miss writing, actually, so maybe this will help.  If I could write while walking on the treadmill, now THEN you’d see some postings!  Maybe I’ll try using voice-to-text and just talk while i walk on the treadmill next time and see how it works out.

9/11: I watched a lot of History channel’s specials, this this year marked the 15th anniversary of 9/11.  Not all at once though, that would have been way too depressing.  I recorded most of them and watched them throughout that week.  I still have 1 or 2 more I’m still watching, a little at a time.  For some reason I still find much of it very interesting.  Very sad, but interesting.  New information is always being brought up, new stories from new survivors I hadn’t heard of, or stories of more victims I hadn’t heard before, how they tried to completely evacuate New York and other major landmarks, bring down every single aircraft in the country that day… just mind-boggling.

My Health: According to my doctor, I’m doing much better.  This week I had an ear issue–woke up the other day with my left ear plugged and had ringing in my ears very loud and annoying.  Couldn’t think straight for a couple days.  Struggled at work that day, then took the next day off to see the doctor.  The first evening Sandy helped me try to flush out the ear with a kit from the pharmacy.  It seemed to help a little, but the ear was still half plugged and the constant ringing continued.  My doctor’s nurses used whatever magical pump thing they had for this and that managed to clear up the rest.  I guess it was just wax buildup. ick.  But all clear now, and the ringing was completely gone when I woke up this morning.  So nice to be able to hear again!

I also found out that I lost another 5 lbs at the Dr. office…no, that wasn’t all the wax they removed from my ear!  They weigh me every time I come in, and my last visit was a month ago.  I’m down 5 pounds since then, which is great.  I try not to weigh myself too often because this gets quite frustrating due to fluctuations.  So hopefully this downward trend will continue.  I’m maintaining my walking at 2 miles or more per day, which is working out great.  I have already had to add new holes to my belts several times just to keep my pants from falling down!

Family: Kevin’s learning to drive now, and has also started college.  He’s also still working at the Naval base, so he’s got his plate pretty full, and we’re very proud of him.  Sandy continues to work hard for Society’s Assets doing home care, and is in pain a lot due to her own medical issues, but she’s hanging in there.