2011 Mike & Gigi Firth Notes

2011-01-23 Rev. 2011-07-08, 11-20

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November 20 - Thanksgiving week. Gigi is in Louisiana, I will join her later.  Step-mother, Virginia Firth-Mears, called last night, having been out of touch for about a month, moving from Victoria BC to Naples FL in parallel with her daughter Sandy and her husband.  Virginia is in a moderate high rise in a campus like assisted living place and Sandy and Dale are 10 minutes away in a house.
The last month has been a bit stressful.  Following the MRI mentioned above, I searched around and found a much friendlier facility with quieter equipment and had the follow-up on Wednesday 11/9.   My 69th birthday was last Sunday [11/13] and in mid morning I got a call from the endocrine doctor with a report on that MRI   It seems I have a moderate, probably benign, tumor squeezing in along side my gland and possibly involving the optic nerve for my left eye.  So I made appointments with ophthalmologist and neurosurgeon that she recommended. The eye exam showed no involvement of the optic nerve, thus, at least to me, reducing the possible risks of removal. The neurosurgeon, looking over information and examining the MRI DVD himself concluded that the best thing would be to wait and monitor vision and hormone changes and do another MRI in a year to observe any changes.
So have a happy Thanksgiving.
September 22 - Well, since the last entry Mike got an iPhone and we adjusted our internet access and home line to AT&T Uverse.  Thought we would save some money along the way while getting faster access speed but got the latter and haven't seen the savings yet.  Gigi is spending a lot of time on the phone with proofreading Braille with readers in San Antonio, largely because they are transcribers and have endurance at the task that Mike does not.
  The last month has been spent dealing with new doctors.  Mike's primary care doctor for the last 8 years or so decided to retire, so that was one search.  But a greater problem has been Mike's Lyme disease.
  This episode began in August with the failure of my last round of Doxycycline to return my Lyme disease polyneuropathy to the usual levels of an inch at the bottom of my feet. When I turned to Dr. Sutker, my original Lyme Infectious Disease guy, I found he had retired and his association declared that they referred all Lyme to Dr. Moayad in Bedford (about 30 miles west.) Dr. Moayad is in my records from eleven years ago when he was declared one of two physicians treating long term Lyme, the other being a flaky woman (per Lyme blog type notes.) I even have a letter in my files to him but he was too far away and I didn’t have a vehicle.
  I went to this visit being very edgy and the contents of his office did not encourage me – a book title “Iridology” (diagnosing diseases from flaws in the iris) and bottles of herb cures. Also, he is out of network so the visit cost me several hundred dollars plus more for tests. His behavior is more eastern U.S. Jewish than Midwestern reserve. He uses “my friend”, etc. and other affectionate terms. He is an osteopath (equals MD in Texas) with specialty in Neurology from U of Missouri.
  After the two visits, I have come to trust him enough. During the time between the two visits I was generally between somewhat and very uncomfortable with a bout of real foot pain before antibiotic dose cut back.
  The result of the blood tests with IGenex is raging current Lyme indicators and clear record of historic (memory) disease. Both IGenex and CDC criterion were met. Following those two pages are several pages of other results, almost all of which show a healthy normal older male. A bit surprising is the lack of indicators for arthritis as I have been taking naproxen for it for over a decade. The TSH (thyroid) is high and Lymphocytes are low. The former in connection with the next test is the basis for seeking an endocrinologist
  In the same time frame as the blood tests, I had an MRI of the skull that shows an enlarged pituitary gland with a suggestion that a more focused MRI on that gland along with hormone checking for possible adenoma (benign tumor.) “mild age related generalized cerebral atrophy and chronic microvascular ischemic change” the latter being small stroke like bleeders, I am told.
  So I have an appointment on Tuesday with a new Internist to see if relationship can develop. Gigi wants me to see the endocrinologist quickly/first/now, but I want pace the new relationships, especially since I can barely endure the MRI, even open. Noise was awful.
  The new antibiotic seems to be doing some good although it is also affecting me in different way. For much of treatment weeks, my feet felt like I had a thin rigid plastic sheet wrapped behind foot and ankle with a somewhat abrasive surface (like back of Formica sheet) that was painful and prevented me from feeling foot movement. On reduction of the dose, pain went away and it felt more like I was wearing an inflated plastic cast on my ankles – I could not judge the position or exact location of feet within inches for walking or standing/balancing. With the Doxycycline I always knew where my feet were even though I was missing a lot of details.
July 8 - Gigi called at just after 2 to say that her 12:45 flight to Reno for the American Council of the Blind has not left Dallas due to a need to replace a filter. Her friend Carla called yesterday to say that her Amtrak train from Omaha to the same convention was delayed two hours hitting a truck in Colorado (news story http://tinyurl.com/3gneo2v ) And her friend Suzanne who drove with Liz to save money was caught in Las Vegas when her back went into spasm.

Gigi is working long hours doing Braille proofreading using paid readers on the phone and making money.
We both have iPhones and are learning new stuff almost daily. Gigi so hates Windows 7 and its constant updates that disrupt her speech software and the dumb ribbon in Office and happy with VoiceOver on Apple products that she is considering getting a Macintosh, but has learned that Microsoft rewrote Office for the Mac and failed to use the links Apple provides so screen review doesn't work.

As I sit here the temperature has gone over 104 on our front porch and I think I am finally over the sinus drainage and chest cough that has bugged me all week. My doctor has informed me he will retire at the end of September.

Have a happy summer,


P.S. Just as I was doing the spell check to send this (at 3:29) Gigi called to say that they were now suggesting that 4 pm might a time for take off, but they had allowed all 7 (SEVEN!!!) guide dogs on the flight off the plane to park.
P.P.S.  I followed the updates of the flight on line as American moved it repeated, finally halting the planned take off time at 7:40 pm. actual takeoff time was 8:01 and Gigi called me just before 11 pm our time to say she had arrived - sounded fairly good - 12 hours after I dropped her off at the airport!
May 13 - The last few days have seen a number of changes including spending some money.
The cell phone I was carrying partly died when I caught it a few inches deep in the wash water when I did not check my pants rear pocket. So we carried out a discussion had over the past months and went and got me an iPhone. As well, we merged our various AT&T accounts and shifted from our DSL to AT&T Uverse, speeding up our access 12 times.  We have had slow DSL because we are out at the distance limits from the exchange - in the middle of Dallas.
  I also went shopping to replace my old Nikon CoolPix 995 which had died after a decade and over 9200 pictures when it could not access memory cards.  I had discovered the Sony HX1 and a Nikon model where the view screen tips up or down for taking pictures at low level or overhead  I got both camera's manuals on PDF from the Internet and decided to get the Sony, only to find that is was discontinued and back ordered at a dealer. After my first search and a dismayed look at the higher cost and excessive features of the HX100, I called back to the dealer on the chance that one of their back orders had come it.  It had and I went out to get it.  Much fancier than the old one, somewhat bulkier, and with much larger images - 1.5 megabyte minimum vs. a quarter meg in the middle size I used on the old one.
  Added to my media source, I bought a not very expensive flat bed scanner with the capability of scanning negatives and slides at much higher resolution than my old one that only did photos/papers.  I have been looking at negatives, slides and prints from my college and first marriage years, scanning some of them.  A couple of thousand of those to work through.
  On another note, I now have a Louise Kelly painting, courtesy of cousin Keo.  See it here.
  Gigi continues doing hours of Braille proofreading each day while I have done some programming for her and am taking over as the webmaster for the American Council of the Blind - Texas that Gigi has been involved with for years.
April 2, - A late start this year.  Gigi just got back from two weeks in Louisiana with her sister and mother.  We both were there for five days or so across Christmas.  Living arrangements have changed there and her mother has moved into a new space created in a building on Cathy's property.  Various grandchildren and great grandchildren are flourishing Bryan will move into the trailer on his mother Polly's land that his grandmother is leaving. 
   Gigi is working industriously on her Braille proofreading work with Region 20, most of which is being done with phone connections with a hired reader down in San Antonio rather than the old pattern of finding volunteers up here and shipping a book up (or paying someone up here.)
  Gigi got an iPhone which turns out to have pretty good accessibility built-in and of course allows the playing of books and song via iTunes.  We have shown people who own iPhones how to turn on the speech and its complications in adding commands because every iPhone has VoiceOver.
  While Mike is doing some volunteer work with the American Council of the Blind Dallas and state organizations, most of the time is spent working on tasks most closely related to cleaning up collected stuff around the house and shop, as long as energy and pain allow. Trying to lose weight while finding exercise that lasts long enough to be effective.
  Last Thursday, I went to a play for the first time in decades, the review sounded interesting and it was in the Wyly Theater, an adjustable black box space as part of the Performing Arts Center.  The play was "Dividing the Estate" by Horton Foote who writes affectionately but satirically about his and similar South Texas families - good humor at times, a script that had to be filled out by the director and actors to sustain interest.  Fifteen of his plays are being done at a dozen or so venues across the metroplex in a month and a half - an astounding cooperation.  The 10 person Dallas Theater Center company at the Wyly was extended by several students from SMU and other local actors, something that never would have happened under Paul Baker when I was more interested/involved in theater in the 70's.

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