Officer Wes, Daddy Barry & dog’s 2021


The year began on an unsettling note.  After 30 years, Officer’s long-term disability company requested the first-ever Independent Medical Exam by someone hired by them.  (Previous annual paper declarations were issued by my current and preceding treating physicians.)  We sensed they were trying to position themselves to try and drop the claim.  Our guess is the company lady who handled the reports may have retired, as the late-2020 version came from someone different.  Regardless, the prep work for the paper statements and televideo and in-person appointments was exhausting.

Then came the right-wing assault on the nation’s capital.  Shocking.  And not unexpected, considering that they were fed disinformation from someone who acted as if he were a Soviet agent.  We are in for a challenging time as our nation confronts deep right-wing beliefs.

Meanwhile, we’ve had challenging times on health fronts.

Daddy Barry has been in excruciating pain for some time since a spine stimulator implant trial ended back in October.  The temporary trial did wonders for his pain, but through COVID, etc., that was six months ago.  Finally he got the permanent one April 26th.  One interesting tidbit from the discharge instructions:  Devices that send out wireless signals may affect your stimulator.  If directed by your health care provider, avoid the following:

·        MRI and ultrasound tests

·        Metal detectors

·        Anti-theft devices

·        Generators or power lines”

Also since January Daddy Barry has been having dizzy spells and double vision that an ER visit traced to "severe distal left vertebral artery stenosis" -- constriction in an artery in his neck; one that neurosurgeons don't normally operate on.  The dizzy spells really get him down, as all he can do is lay down.  That makes him feel old.  So I'm advocating surgical solution of his arteries by a neurointerventional radiologist.

We also learned through an MRI for the neurosurgeon that, separately, Daddy Barry needs surgery on his collapsing cervical (neck) spine.

While that was going on, Officer went through an especially challenging wintertime blues aka Seasonal Affective Disorder (now called Short Season Affective Disorder or SSAD).

Meanwhile, our families of choice and origin got fully vaccinated.  We are adjusting our protocol with new information as it evolves.

Officer then had a series of health issues which required two visits to the emergency room.  Short version:  Gall stones appear to be causing pancreatitis, and, separately, a really bad muscle pull -- “thoracic strain” -- in the upper mid back.

After waiting quite some time, we got a call in late June:  Daddy Barry’s cervical spine surgery would be in 8 days, on July 3.  It went well, and he was discharged to home three days later to recuperate through the summer.  Later in the month he had an angiogram, which showed the inoperable blockage (severe distal left vertebral artery stenosis) from the inside.

And just after having a brief month of no masking indoors with unknown vaccinated people, we resumed masking indoors except for our family pod.

Daddy Barry then started dealing with three different issues. 

First, his right foot went totally numb.  MRI showed there is “severe right and moderate left neuroforaminal [neuroforamen are the openings in between the individual vertebra through which the nerve roots exit the spinal column] narrowing” at L5-S1.  My guess is he’ll have another spine surgery to get his foot working again.

Second, his kidney function tests showed that it was time to change HIV medications to one that was easier on the kidneys.

Third, he had infernal itching develop in three curious places; his ears, beard and right inner thigh.  Multiple trips to the dermatologist proved fruitless.  So, we decided to take him off the new HIV medication and switch him to another, in case he was having an allergic reaction to it.

And, we were visited by Deputy and Chris in September.  We gathered outside at Chuck and frank’s during some beautiful weather.

October’s big project was creating handsome storage in the office / music / dungeon multi-purpose 2nd bedroom. 




After - exterior


After - interior


We also had a lovely outdoor birthday celebration at the Lafayette Hotel for frank’s 65th.

And, sadly, our friend Joe Faulkner died.  Longtime readers will remember our sweet neighbor for a decade, Mrs. Faulkner.  Joe was her only offspring and visited daily to keep her alive and moving.  We all became friends.  In the two years after we moved, Mrs. Faulkner spent a lot of time in rehab facilities for one thing or another.  We visited weekly, as we know how boring that can be.

In December, Wes traveled to Williamsburg to see bio family for the first time in a couple of years --first air travel since COVID-19.  He wore an N-95 mask and sanitized regularly.

He arrived on Christmas Day.  For dinner, Elaine made her traditional prime rib.

The rest of the week the family visited and played games.

Monopoly Junior.

Hungry, Hungry Hippos.

The card game "War." (Deal the decks to players equally. Each player puts in 2 cards face down and one up. Whoever has the highest card showing takes all cards. Repeat.) 

And "Advanced War." (Play War til 1 person has all the cards.)

And Simon Says.

And with Groku (baby Yoda).

And the kids played with Disney Princesses walkie-talkies.

The adults played Hand and Foot.

Swimming at the pool when safe.

One day when Addi was in her bathing suit to go swimming at the pool, but the pool had too many people, we filled the bathtub and played.  We played with soap suds.  We played with the Jacuzzi jets, using our hands to make the water splash up.  We played puppet show through the shower curtain, using the shadow from the light on one side of it.

But the biggest hit was Officer ordered and brought:  Dominoes!  Nearly everybody, except Sara but including Addi, played and had a good time.

Meanwhile, Commander and dog did lots of things while I was out of town.

They got Lily groomed.  (She has eyes!) 

They made trip(s) to storage. 

They stored the Christmas tree and retrieved the new door hardware we'd bought 9ish months ago.

dog installed the door hardware.  (It looks very handsome.) 

They set up the lava lamp. 

Commander worked on sewing a fleece cover (!) for Lily's steps.  (She appears to love them.) 

They did the floors (apparently fleece had gone *everywhere*!), the bathrooms, the kitchen, laundry. 

They put up and connected the Bose sound bar and subwoofer from Santa.

It was soooo nice to get home and see them.

As always, may this find you happy & well.

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