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Friday, April 25, 2014

Sickness (II)

Posted by Raul on April 24, 2014

2014-04-24  Sickness (II)


At that point I started seriously to consider suicide! There was no answer; no solution; no money, and only expenses and bills accumulating. All the savings were gone and I had to borrow money from my son to pay bills, from his savings to pursue a Master’s degree; I was using my son’s future to pay my present bills, just to survive!. What was the point on remaining alive! To be sick and in pain? Unable to work and even sleep more than 1 hour a day? To leave family in the streets because of the giant expenses without any income?

At the other hand, I have almost $ 200,000 in life insurance, which would pay the balance of the house off, and still leave like $ 30,000 for other expenses. They wouldn’t be set for life, but at least in a better standing, especially with the house finally paid off. And for me there would be no more pain, no more dizziness, no more lack of energy that kept me most of the time lying in the couch; and I would avoid the future deterioration (even more) that would probably means going to a nursing home in just a couple of years, to never get out alive. What was the point on keep on living?!

I seriously considered suicide!!

But most of my life I’ve been fixing things, and since the doctors couldn’t find my problem to fix me, I decided to give a last attempt at life and try to fix myself. So made a list of all my symptoms, body and mind, together with a chronology, and started to research the net (Google is my God!!!) trying to find sicknesses that would match, or at least would have the same symptoms.

My search wasn’t successful since I searched for Arthritis, Lupus, Under Active Thyroid, Low Testosterone levels, etc, and all of those should be detectable with blood tests; and so far all those tests had already been performed, and all of them came back negative, so I didn’t have any of those.

You might call it chance, luck, destiny, I don’t know, but since I needed a certification of what was my diagnosis, so I could present it in my job, and there was no diagnosis, I decided to ask for an appointment with my first doctor (the one who never called back), and ask her for a release, so I could go back to work, try to make some money, and try to last as long as I could before I collapse, and maybe then they would believe me, especially if they had to call 911 and the paramedics could certify that I had “symptoms” like short breath, muscle spasm and things like that. It wouldn’t prove what I have, but at least it’ll prove in my work that I did have something, and I wasn’t lying! (The lady from human resources at my job had a very “unfriendly” attitude with me so far).

Well, as I said, it could be luck, chance, destiny, whatever! The thing is, the day we went to the clinic (my wife was going with me most of the times to help me) to the front desk to ask for an appointment, there was a lady working there that my wife knows personally, they are not really friends but more like acquaintances. We all said “Hi” and chat for a little bit, and then I asked for an appointment with the doctor. She asked what problem I had, so we told her what was happening and the symptoms I had. She said: “Maybe it could be Fibromyalgia; we have several patients with that syndrome, and they are prescribed Lyrica

Now, the reason I decided to go back to the doctor that didn’t even call back is that she is a PA (Physician Assistant), which I understand is a doctor that is not completely certified, so has to have a certified doctor signing for her. She is very young and unsure of what she is doing, so is easily manipulated into what the patient wants. It happened when I asked her to fill out the forms to get family leave at my work; she didn’t know what to write down in the forms, so I told her almost “word by word” what to write!

I was going back to her so she could write a release form for my job, so I had in a paper what she should write. But after talking with this lady at the front desk, I decided to search the net for Fibromyalgia and its characteristics, before reaching the day of the appointment with the doctor.

To my surprise, my wife’s acquaintance was right! Everything was there; it was often confused with Arthritis and Lupus; it couldn’t be detected with blood tests because the test still show everything is normal, and most of the times the patient, together with having the symptoms I had, are thought of being lying and nobody believe them because the “evidence” (tests) show no sickness at all!!

The article in Wikipedia was describing my situation!! (Good old Wiki!!)

So with more hopes than ever, I went to the appointment with the doctor; explained everything to her and asked her for a prescription of Lyrica instead of a release form. She insisted (after using her phone to Google the sickness and the medicines), that I should start with Duloxetine, since it was the number one medicine prescribed for Fibromyalgia. I said OK and went to buy the medicine. I trusted her, not because she is a doctor, but because I saw her with my own eyes she Google it!! (Isn’t that so ridiculous?!).

After taking the medicine for five days I was feeling a lot better, to the point of being able to do things around the house! Still with pain and low energy, but definitely better, so I could see light at the end of the tunnel (and I wasn’t dead yet!). But by the tenth day new problems developed: Shaking in my legs that made very unstable to walk; to then add the shakiness in my arms, to then add it to my chest. At some point by the twelfth day my whole body was shaking and my heart was racing, even if I was seating or lying in bed! I got scared (now I didn’t want to die) so I simply stopped taking the medicine and waited a couple of days to see what happened.



Sickness (I)

Posted by Raul on April 23, 2014

2014-04-23  Sickness (I)

One of the reasons for my long absence from writing in this blog is that I’ve been very sick, unable to work for three months, and even unable to type in a computer! So now that I am recovering and feeling better, I can tell you how things went spiraling down so quickly in just a matter of three months. But I’ll have to divide this post in three parts since it ended up longer than 3,000 words! (I don’t want you to fall asleep while reading, LOL).

What happened is that, in December last year (2013), I was at work when I felt a very sharp, stabbing pain in my right hand. Since everything seemed to be fine up to that moment; I was feeling tired all the time and with very low energy levels, but also I was sleeping no more than 3-4 hours a day, I didn’t think I had a sickness, and the short amount of sleeping time (I thought) was due to having a very changing schedule, that forced me to sometimes sleep early at night, other times late, while others during the day, in the morning or in the afternoon. I thought, as soon as I can get a more stable schedule, I’ll be able to take a rhythm and then will be possible to sleep more hours, which will mean more energy and less tiredness.

So when I felt that sharp, stabbing pain in my hand, I thought it was a work injury and filed the report. They sent me to a doctor of Work Compensation, but that doctor, after just touching my hand and not finding anything, derived me to a specialist after prescribing some anti inflammatory. Clearly she didn’t believe me and thought I was pretending, so to get paid for not working, but I was in pain!

A week passed and the pain extended to my arms, shoulders, knees and hips, the tiredness became extreme and couldn’t do anything, and wasn’t able to sleep more than 1-2 hours a day!

The specialist order X-Rays and blood tests that came back negative; there was nothing wrong with my body! He couldn’t explain why all my body ached and I had no energy, so his conclusion was that I had Arthritis and Lupus!! And he prescribed a different anti inflammatory. And since it was not work related, he couldn’t do anything else, and had to report to the original doctor, and I had to go to my regular doctor to continue the tests and start a treatment for Arthritis and Lupus.

He said that I should change jobs and consider changing my plans for the rest of my life! That I will not be able to use my hands and legs normally ever again, so I should adjust my plans accordingly.

After the appointment I went back to my car walking like a duck due to the strong pain and stiffness in my legs, and with much difficulty I seated in my vehicle and started to cry like a child! All my plans, the thing I wanted to do, the things I postponed because of obligations, but always kept hope because at an older age I would be free to pursue those activities, all went down like in an earthquake!

About a week later I received a letter from the company which provides work compensation, explaining that the first doctor I went to see had sent a report to my job saying my injury wasn’t work related, so I was released for “full duty with no restrictions!”

Up to that point I was out of work for already a month, so my paychecks came zero, I was in extreme pain in my whole body, extremely low energy levels and dizziness that prevented me from even walking, and wasn’t able to sleep more than 1 hour a day. No money and no possibility to do anything, while bills kept piling up, and the only diagnosis I had so far was Arthritis and Lupus, which suppose to make things even worst in the future!

So I went to my regular doctor who run more blood tests. She said as soon as the tests come back she would call me to set an appointment to discuss the results. She never called! After a week I went to the clinic and asked at the front desk for a copy of the results, which were negative!

Needing a diagnosis because at my work they were also believing I was lying and I needed proof that I was really in pain, and urgently needed a certification to turn my absences into family leave so not to loose my job, I went to another doctor who run even more blood tests, which also came negative. Even though this last doctor admitted he couldn’t find anything, he insisted it must be Arthritis, so he prescribed new medicines and derived me to a specialist. I went to the Arthritis specialist and asked at the front desk how much was the appointment, and they told me it was almost $ 500! And that the tests (which were performed “in house”) could amount to several thousand dollars!!

Up to that point I was almost two months without working, so zero money from paychecks; my medical insurance cost me almost $ 300 a month, but it has a $ 2,500 deductible, so all the medical appointments and medicines were paid from my pocket, with no help from the medical insurance (and no result from any of the different medicines!)…and the bills kept piling up; and I was feeling worst and worst with more pain and extremely low energy levels, dizziness and unable to sleep! And everything, at this rate, suppose to become worst if I had Arthritis and Lupus!

At that point I did understand how some people can become homeless and sick, sleeping in the streets!! I can’t deny I was very scared and upset; not only with my physical problem, but also disappointed with doctors, and the medical system, which in their attempt of just make more and more money, they simply don’t care about the medical condition of the patient and his/her feelings. It seemed, as long as you have money to pay, you get service, and they will suck all they can as fast as they can, until you have nothing left, and then they will simply drop you and discard you as useless and a liar!!

I just cannot understand why some people admire them because they are “doctors”, without considering first if they are good doctors or just money suckers!



The Enclosure

Posted by Raul on April 9, 2014

2014-04-09  The Enclosure (1)


Trying to go in chronological order, to update you in what’s been going on, I guess the first thing I should tell is the almost finished enclosure.

After they finished replacing the whole roof on the house, we continued adding more elements to the enclosure: Inside walls; ceiling tiles; lights; electric outlets and switches, and lots of other little details that are part of a finished construction.


2014-04-09  The Enclosure (2)
2014-04-09  The Enclosure (3)


The electric outlets ended up being a total of 12; 9 inside and 3 outside. From the 9 inside 3 are switch controlled and use a dark brown cover to identify them easily, so we can plug in them things like a Christmas tree or a water fountain, and be able to turn them ON and Off from a switch on the wall, rather than crawling behind the thing. From the 3 outlets outside, one is switched, in case we decide to have something like a water fountain in the backyard. There are 5 ceiling lamps in two circuits; both circuits are energized from one switch, but each circuit has its own dimmer. There is an exhaust fan in a corner up close to the ceiling, which is connected to one of the switched outlets, so we can ventilate the room by just operating the switch on the wall.


2014-04-09  The Enclosure (4)
2014-04-09  The Enclosure (5)
2014-04-09  The Enclosure (6)


Also, since the idea was to make things more comfortable, we included the BBQ inside in a special enclosure like a closet. It has an air extractor with light, and an air suction window in one side at the bottom, so the extractor could take the smoke out from the top of the BBQ, and the air would be taken from outside through the suction window and passing all around the BBQ, without ventilating out the warm air of the room in winter time.

There is also a swamp cooler that is still not “air” connected. What happens is that, when you have a swamp cooler as it is normal, it’ll be set outside, so it can take air on three of its walls, and push it inside through a small window in the house wall, where inside you cover that window with the part that has the grid and the controls. I didn’t like this idea since it makes the swamp cooler prone to get too dirty, and you have to be continually cleaning it. So I just set the whole unit inside the enclosure, to have it protected from the weather, grass and insects, and it takes air now from just one of its walls (the one touching the enclosure wall), and discharge the air in the front of the unit. I still have to make the window in the enclosure wall that touches the back of the swamp cooler, so it can take the outside air in. I haven’t done it yet because I left that for spring time, so not to waste time and give preference to more important things at that moment.


2014-04-09  The Enclosure (7)
2014-04-09  The Enclosure (8)
2014-04-09  The Enclosure (9)


One of the more important things at that moment (October-November) was to activate the fireplace that is incorporated slightly off the center of the room. As you can see in the pictures, it is ventilated through the roof with a 7 inches diameter straight pipe. We already used the fireplace throughout winter, and it has been awesome!! While outside we had 20 degrees with snow and wind, inside we could keep the room at 70 degrees. It was very nice to be warm inside, watching the cold weather outside through the big windows!

All the materials for the enclosure (except cement, wooden poles and panels, and electric wire) we bought them at second hand construction material stores, including the windows light fixtures, switches, etc. The “decoration” like table, chairs, fireplace, BBQ, swamp cooler, etc is also from Craiglists, and just the blinds and paint were bought new. So in total we spent $ 4,268.87; $ 3,701.36 were for building the enclosure and $ 567.51 were in equipment (fireplace, BBQ, swamp cooler, chairs, etc. Including the rent of trucks from U-Haul to bring some of the oversized materials, like windows and doors).


2014-04-09  The Enclosure (10)
2014-04-09  The Enclosure (11)
2014-04-09  The Enclosure (12)


Still there are lots to do to finish the enclosure. The ceiling needs finishing; the air extractor for the BBQ needs improvement; complete the swamp cooler system, and give the finishing layer to the floor, but the enclosure it’s been in “service” since November last year. I hope throughout summer it can be completed, so that would means one less thing in the To Do list not to worry about

It was a lot of work; we stopped in December for the Holidays, and never got to re-start again, for reasons I’ll tell you about in another post. The pictures included here are not very good, but I hope they can give you an idea of how the enclosure looks and “feels”  :)



New Roof!

Posted by Raul on October 11, 2013

2013-10-11  New Roof (1)

Yesterday was a very noisy day in the house! Finally, after what seemed to be like months of wait, they came in the morning and, after tearing apart the old roof, installed a new one. It really was like 26 days from the storm to the new roof installed, so not bad at all!

2013-10-11  New Roof (2)

Now we are confident that there should be no more inside rain, so we can plan the finishing of the enclosure, and get it done before winter arrives. Still, with all these delays, there are a couple of improvements that we are not going to do this year because of time and money, but next year will be back, armed with a hammer and a screwdriver, ready to attack another project!  LOL

2013-10-11  New Roof (3)

As you can imagine, because of all this stuff, I really haven’t had much time to write here and visit my friends, but I hope at least by winter, when all the improvements stop for the season, I’ll have the chance to do some more here.

Hugs to everyone! 


Hosting Problems

Posted by Raul on July 20, 2013

2013-07-20   Hosting Problems

I’ve heard of other bloggers with the same problem, although I don’t know how they fixed it. The thing is that a couple of days ago I received a letter from the hosting company that provides the hosting for this blog telling me they cancelled my automated payment for the package I had with them. Immediately I sent them a letter asking why they cancelled my subscription and the answer was a play of words I didn’t understand.

After thinking about renewing the automated payment system I realized I’m paying too much for the hosting service, so decided that it could be a good moment to change to a different package (slightly smaller) that would give me what I need but just for a fraction of the monthly cost I had.

Looking around it seems the best I can do is just switch to a different hosting provider and just move this blog, keeping everything the way it is but with a new monthly payment of about 15 percent of the original amount. Great!

Only one problem! I have no idea how to move the blog from one hosting company to another, and for what I’ve heard it is a real pain the whole process. And even that I searched for offers providing the move automatically as a way to get the business, I couldn’t find any at this time.

So I’ve been thinking to just sort of finishing this blog here and re-starting from scratch in the new hosting company. Then just re-publish the best posts and leave the rest behind. It is not that I’m going to loose a bunch of readers! Still, I’m not sure if that would be the best move.

Any suggestions, ideas and/or advice?


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