5 Things: none of them about religion

Ellie has lived next door for nine years, and is like a sister. In a few months, she will move 1,000 miles away, and Peggy and I are both very sad.

Walt came by last week. He was best friends to both Peggy and me for a lot of years, but hasn’t been our friend for about eight years, and it wasn’t an amiable parting. If I hadnt sent him an occasional email during the past eight years to ask how he was, we wouldn’t have heard from him at all. He came by to tell us that he was diagnosed the day before with malignant melanoma, the tumor reaching two inches across before he saw a doctor. Peggy and I went to the hospital today to wish him luck as he went into a hastily arranged surgery. We arrived to find his wife berating him, and his father-in-law looking like he wanted to cry. I added to the ambiance by sitting in silence reading the obituaries (as with the tombstone in the picture, many of the deceased were my age) while feeling sick, sad, and distant. Only Peggy offered any real support. 

Six weeks ago, I had sudden onset fatigue so severe that I couldn’t stay out of bed for more than an hour or two at a time. I seriously thought I might die so, not knowing what the problem was, I immediately stopped taking oxycodone, Neurontin, Ambien, marijuana, and Cymbalta (Im back on marijuana and Ambien). In the wink of an eye, I fell over an emotional cliff. Now, I still have the chronic pain problem for which I was taking all the drugs, plus I have fatigue, fever, sweaty scalp, depression, irritability, tremulousness, scratchy eyes and throat, and a tendency to drop things. All this, and I still don’t want to go a doctor because I get tired of the same shit happening. To whit, the first doctor sends me for various tests (some of which might be dangerous), and then I get tossed back and forth between specialists (and their tests) for anywhere from a few months to a few years. After shelling out $4,000 before insurance pays the first penny, having up to three surgeries, making countless calls to insurance companies and billing offices, and being put on even more drugs, I still have the problem. If I’m lucky, it’s just not as bad as it was. Of course, by not going, I could end up like Walt. I know that, but still I don’t go.

It’s winter in Oregon. Month after month of almost nothing but gray and drizzle, except for a couple of periods during which the sky clears for a few days, bringing with it wind, cold air, and a sun that stays too near the horizon to be really cheerful. Peggy enjoys life here and has no trouble with the weather. I like many things about Oregon, but it’s only her desire to be here and the presence of a few friends that keep me.

Peggy and I getting rid of a lot of things today, mostly keepsakes. I am very pleased about this because I am finding it increasingly difficult to clean house. We celebrated our 41st anniversary in December. She has been a good wife.


ellen abbott said...

it's hard to lose a friend but mostly people come into our lives for just a span of time.

How sad for Walt that his wife felt the need to berate him before his surgery but I imagine it was her fear taking control.

Sorry to hear about your own state of health. Doesn't seem like going to doctors has done any real good in the past so I don't see how it can do anything besides impoverish you more. It seems to me if the many doctors haven't been able to figure out what's wrong by now, more visits and more tests won't do it either. That sucks especially when we are led to expect that doctors actually know what the fuck is going on when really they are just practicing.

I could never live in the Pacific Northwest even though I know many people there. It's hard enough to endure our short winters of cold and overcast and many times wet days.

I got rid of a lot of stuff when we moved to the country house but not enough. I should go through and reevaluate the stuff I kept.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

so sorry about your friend moving and the illness of Walt. I hope you are feeling a bit better.

Congrats to you and Peggy!

kylie said...

this sounds like some kind of a farewell and for reason idont like it one bit :(
if you are going somewhere, i am very very sorry it has come to this and i have admired your tenacity among other things.

PhilipH said...

Very sad post. Hope life gets a lot better soon.
De-cluttering: bloody good idea. I would like to chuck almost everything out, but 'er indoors is such a hoarder!
Got shot of a load of crappy junk via charity shops and the local tip in August/September as we were making a big move out of Scotland.
Great to offload so much stuff, stuff that seems to increase with no help from either of us.
Good luck Snowy; hope your friend has a favourable prognosis.

stephen Hayes said...

As a fellow Oregonian I can sympathize with you about the gloomy weather. I fantasize about waking up to bright skies and turquoise water lapping at the sand. So sorry about your health situation. Growing old isn't for wimps, is it? Take care.

Marion said...

I hate that you're feeling so bad & sad, Snow. I so understand about that fucking dr. treadmill shit. Damned if you do, and damned if you don't. Winter makes my pain a thousand times worse no matter what I take or don't take. I try to keep moving, but I cry a lot. I cuss the heat, but summer is so much easier on the old bones and back...

Hang in there, my friend, and congrats to you and Peggy. That's an amazing accomplishment. (I hear you about the house-keeping...if only I had the emotional energy to throw away some shit!!) xoxo

Love & Hugs,

"If I'd known I was going to live so long, I'd have taken better care of myself." ~Leon Eldred

lotta joy said...

Hey, don't start making out a will just yet. I too, started tossing twigs out of my nest when we moved two years ago. I said "goodbye" to my past, shed some tears over my present, and avoid doctors for the same reason you do.

Maybe your pseudo-friend avoided going to be checked for the same reason. Sometimes, we just KNOW and don't want to invite the upcoming medical scenario a doctor's visit would start.

It honestly sounds like:

(1) your body finally has had enough of the pharmaceutical casserole you've been feeding it for so many years.

(2) with the sweating and weakness, you may be experiencing different drug withdrawals from some of the casserole ingredients.

(3) from someone who lived in gloom 6 months of every year, my body always went into some kind of hibernation/suicide during the middle of the winter.

When our bodies aren't scaring the shit out of us, they are causing us pain. I hope you get to experience some rays of sunshine just to see if it could be weather related.

Congratulations on having Peggy. No one else would have put up with you this long, which is why I'm VERY grateful to have Stud in my life.

Helen said...

Like Kylie, I thought your post sounded like a goodbye of sorts, I hope that's not the case. I would miss you.

Take care of yourself, please.

PS, you can move to my side of the mountains ... where it's mostly sunny and dry, cold doesn't seem as foreboding.

yoborobo said...

Snow - I don't know what to say except I am so sorry that you're feeling sad. And I'm glad you have Peggy. You hang tough and take care.

Snowbrush said...

I was so touched to have so many responses appear so rapidly. Thank you.

"this sounds like some kind of a farewell"

"I thought your post sounded like a goodbye of sorts"

No, not at all. This was just a hastily written check-in, and was probably inspired at some level by a desire to get away from the topic of religion due to my growing suspicion that my recent adventure among the Episcopalians was just so much silliness on my part, and therefore something to put me behind as gracefully as possible.

"with the sweating and weakness, you may be experiencing different drug withdrawals"

I've been thinking that too. I can't find any information to suggest it, but, then again, it was a lot of drugs to quit at once, so I certainly think it possible, and so I've been more or less gritting my teeth and hoping that time will bring improvement.

"Winter makes my pain a thousand times worse"

Well, I lived in the same climate you're in for most of my life, and I hated the winters from my childhood onward because I was sick from the time I got my first cold until warm weather arrived months later. Since leaving, I've lived in Oregon and Minnesota, and you wouldn't believe how nostalgic I am for Southern winters. If nothing else, the sun is at least high in the sky. I think I have come to understand why 99% of the people in Canada live within 100 miles of the US border as if preparing for an invasion.

The Bipolar Diva said...

I'm sorry you're not feeling well, you worry me you know? and the weather here now? it absolutely sucks, especially since one of my son's is now homeless and wandering the streets of Portland. He's only 19. It makes me sick. I'm sorry about your friend, that's all too scary. and by the way, happy anniversary!

Bruno Laliberté said...

I would wish you a happy new year but it would sound lame now. May I wish you some happiness? To break apart the clouds...

I know about the medical merrygoround, something I try to stay away from, not wanting to hear a diagnostic I don't want to hear about. Enough is already going on in my life without adding to it right now.

Hoping you and the wife find great moments to savor still Congrats on your 41rst anniversary. It's not something you hear that often these days.

Elephant's Child said...

Peggy sounds like an amazing woman, and I am very happy for you both that you have shared your lives for so long.
I hear you on the medical mayhem front, and understand why you and your friend have stepped away. I have been avoiding going to see both my general practioner and the specialists she wants me to see because I am just so tired of it all. Onto the merrygoround, spend lots of money, be poked and prodded, finish up at the starting point again.
Here the sun is high in the sky and it is HOT. Half of Oz (at least) is in the middle of a record breaking heat wave. MS thrives in the heat so I am longing for winter. Perhaps we should swap...

Charles Gramlich said...

Long dreary winters are tough on many people. Even I get down when it's dreary for too many days, though we don't often have that here. I'm sorry about all the things that are happening to suck your energy away right now. I hope it will get better soon.

Myrna R. said...

So sorry you've been hurting. I truly hope things change for the better. My husband and I will celebrate our 44th anniversary next week. We are luckier than many. We found true loving partners. Congratulations to you and Peggy.

Snowbrush said...

"I'm sorry you're not feeling well, you worry me you know?"

I think it safe to say that we each worry the other.

"one of my son's is now homeless and wandering the streets of Portland."

I'm so sorry. Portland seems unusually accommodating to its homeless population, so at least there's that.

"May I wish you some happiness?"

Always, although, weather-wise, I had rather be here than where you are in Ticklebear lives in Montreal). Here, there will be crocuses in another six weeks, and that's always a good sign. Even though it will still be gray for a long time to come, at least the days are getting longer, and the vegetation is coming back to life.

"Here the sun is high in the sky and it is HOT."

There are few places where the weather is nice year round, and a lot of people tend to dislike the ones there are because, as they say, they miss having seasons. I've never lived in such a place, but I would sure like to give it a try. Here, that would mean a move to California, which is where my neighbor, Ellie, is going. She and her family despise Oregon winters. At least at my house, it's only me who gets in a funk. At her house, there are four people in a funk

"Long dreary winters are tough on many people."

It's not that much colder on average than where you are (Charles lives an hour or less north of New Orleans), and Eugene only gets 50 inches of rain a year compared to your 60 or 70, but we get all 50 of those inches in winter and spring (followed by severe drought every summer), and it falls as drizzle. 50 inches is a lot of drizzle.

Yay, Myrna, 44 years! You've lived to be a legend in your own time. I can remember when Peggy and I had only been married 25, and our friends were amazed because so few marriages seem to last even that long anymore.

angela said...

Sorry about your friend. I hooe what ails you is better soon. You sound like me most days and it sucks really. But what do you do. 41 years wow that's a very long time. I hope you felt well enough to do something special. Feel better soon my friend.

All Consuming said...

Well I'm glad to have read your response to the first few comments, because it does read somewhat as though you were saying goodbye. I get you 100% on the medical front, it may come that you have no choice but to see someone, in which case you'll know that yourself, or it may be, as Lotta said, that you're experiencing some full on effects from all the drugs in the past year or so. I hate winter here, I want to swap with TEC right now. Keep as positive as you can dearie, and my yes, you have one hell of a good wife there. Sending love your way xxx

Strayer said...

I went to Hawaii once, on a short notice offer from someone, who had a spare ticket and needed someone along, for various reasons. Of course I went! That was before back surgery. I could barely walk here. But there in bright sun and dryness, although it rained some, the pain was gone, mostly. Julie from Brownsville and I split almost immediately once there, over some issues, and I slept on the beach, on a couch after helping someone net a kitten. It was glorious, the climate. I did not want to return, thought seriously about missing hte plane, but I had cats back here. Climate change might be a good move for your pain issues. And mood. I loved it over there, could hardly believe my luck to get that trip. Was a decade or more ago I went, but I remember it like it was yesterday. The dreariness of an Oregon winter is very difficult to endure. Getting old is crap too. And berating someone scared with cancer before surgery is like evil beyond evil. So wrong. Your wife sounds wonderful. Glad you have her.

kj said...

snow, i would guess medication withdrawal has a current role. and facing someone else's mortality, at least for me, is hard. it triggers my own fears.

i am the opposite. i get myself to a doctor because i suffer from my own paranoia. as i write this i have been sick for almost two weeks and i keep thinking, what and why?

you write so honestly. that is a gift to your friends and readers. sometimes i wish peggy would write a guest column on your blog. your descriptions of her fascinate me. i am glad she walks with you

i hoe things improve. the determination of those crocuses do seem to inspire.


Snowbrush said...

"You sound like me most days and it sucks really."

Whoa! I must say that I do go up and down from time to time, and I hope that you do too. It's when a combination hits me that it's really bad.

"it may be, as Lotta said, that you're experiencing some full on effects from all the drugs in the past year or so. I hate winter here..."

Yes, I'm hoping it's simply a case of withdrawal. I would hate your winters too. I might even hate them worse than I hate Oregon winters. Most places either have crappy winters or crappy summers, and here, it's the winters.

"The dreariness of an Oregon winter is very difficult to endure."

I would hate someplace like Michigan or Western New York (with their "lake effect snow") even worse but that's like saying I would hate pancreatic cancer worse than liver failure. Alas, Peggy is not about to move, so I'm not likely to move either. You mentioned Hawaii. I've been to 48 states, and she has been to 49, and Hawaii is the only one left, and she would dearly love to see an erupting volcano.

"i wish peggy would write a guest column"

Not likely. I used to even dictate thank you notes and postcards for her (she has gotten some better about writing them). She would ask, "How do I say I'm having a good time and wish you were here," and once she had her pen in hand, I would dictate: "I'm having a good time and wish you were," and she would write it word for word, and then tell me that she really didn't know how she would manage without me. Peggy would have an advanced degree in nursing (so she could teach) if it weren't for the writing requirements.

lotta joy said...


Snowbrush said...


As of today, yes. I therefore went out and dug some postholes in wet clay, so that should eliminate any and all improvement! Actually, I'm already in pain from the work I did, but some of my symptoms that you, I, and others thought might be withdrawal related, do seem to be ever so slowly improving.

lotta joy said...

I actually walked a little yesterday and again today, and every joint in my body feels like it's bone on bone. arghhh

If you had any strange "electric" sprints running up your spine and into your skull, it was DEFINITELY withdrawal. I forgot to ask about that one tip-off.

I prefer pain from working to pain for no reason. But it all hurts.