St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Pearl Harbor Day

Pearl Harbor Day Mood
Friday, December 7, 2012 |   (Taken from my postings at the Myasthenia Gravis Support Group )
Today is Pearl Harbor Day, remembering Dec 7, 1941 when the US got bombed in Hawaii and World War II for us got started.  My father-in-law, 87. enlisted in the Army and is one the veterans still left of what we call the "Greatest Generation."  He is still quite spry and does funeral honor guard duty for 2 fellow veterans each week (has been doing it for several years now in West Bend WI).  
December has other birthdays too.  My mother turns 91 December 18th.  She lives at home in NW Wisconsin on the farm I and my three brothers were raised.  She is independent and still in pretty good health despite having had to take prednisone for 30 years to treat an autoimmune disease, polymyalgia rheumatica.  She sent 100 Christmas cards this year, each with a page long handwritten note included.  When we asked if she wanted a Christmas party, she said "No, my mother had a big party on her 100th birthday and I think I will wait too."  
December 8th we awoke to winter.

Margo's mother turns 85 on December 22.  She has been in a nursing home for the past 7 years after having been diagnosed with Alzheimer's about 10 years ago. It is a terrible disease; Myrtle's body is in good condition (taking after her mother who lived to be 99), but she has forgotten almost everything she ever knew, including her family and how to eat and so on.  Now she mostly sleeps between being fed.  Her husband, the World War II vet, joins her for lunch each day and does that feeding and tries to bring her to awareness briefly--sometimes she responds a little.  He lives in a condo, having sold their large farm house in the country to help with the costs.   
My own 66th birthday is December 10th.  Last year at this time I was preparing for a knee replacement (had fallen off doing a roof and damaged my leg and knee 2 years earlier and although the leg healed, the knee did not get better--and I had damaged it skiing back in 1988 with a totally torn off ACL).  As I entered Medicare last December and had my initial medical exam under that program, I knew I had breathing problems and so had a lot of tests to see what was wrong.  Nothing was found, so we agreed I must be out of shape from not walking or doing much with 2 years of bad knee/leg and that series of surgeries, so aimed for a knee replacement in 2012.
 Those of us born in 1946, when World War II was ended, are members of the Baby Boom generation--the first year of it.  We hit 65 last year and are destined to break Social Security, Medicare and restaurants who give the senior discount on our way out!
Last year, on the 65th milestone, I decided to work on getting in better shape and losing some weight as a new year's resolution.  I was so tired and the tests said it must be because of being out of shape,   so through the winter and spring and the knee surgery (one to remove 13 pieces of leg hardware and another in March to put in the new knee) and into May, I lost 15 lbs and was getting mobile and walking as much as the knee allowed, with a feeling of great success. 
 Then, on May 17th, as I was mowing Mom's lawn on the riding mower, I started having double vision and had troubles seeing to dodge the apple trees in her orchard.  It persisted, but next morning was fine; then came back and got worse the next few days.   I had a knee followup at Mayo 6 days ahead, so while there strolled into the eye emergency desk and a few hours later, by then my left eye mostly shut, got a quick, MG diagnosis, referral to a neuro; and a week later with a positive MG antibody test was into learning and planning about a future with MG.    Things rapidly got worse and I had an MG breathing crisis early in June and spent a long 3 days in the hospital learning that with a lot of Mestinon I could function. and started prednisone--and over the past 6 months have gone from bad to moderate to reasonable to almost acceptable now. 
So, with my new knee, and again mostly functional, I come back to where I was a year ago, thinking about getting back in shape.  Over the nearly 8 MG months, I put on 20 lbs, wiping out the 15 and adding 5, so as my birthday nears, I am determined to get back into an exercise and weight loss program.  
It was quite wonderful to have lost the 15 lbs and to have found old clothes fitting again, and it is quite depressing to have put it all back on plus.  My doc says that prednisone seems to encourage weight gain by increasing appetite--and I do think that is part of the problem, as well as being depressed I couldn't do much of anything physical for most of the summer and fall.  I do find my appetite quite ravenous at times. 
 However, I don't want to use that as an excuse in 2013.  With MG no longer totally in control of my life, it is time I take on this battle again!  I have pre-diabetes and high blood pressure--mostly prednisone induced, but losing weight will surely help with those.  
December 7th, Pearl Harbor day seems like the day to start the attack, but I will weight until Dec 10th when I turn 66.   First I have to have just a few more of those 6 different kinds of Christmas cookies Margo has baked this year ;-) 
 I wonder what new tricks my body has hidden that will come in 2013.  I think my left eye is cataractously inclined, and will visit the eye people in Jan.  My knew knee is quite wonderful.  
 I suppose if my will is not strong enough to lose the weight, there is always lipo!  By posting this and telling my friends I have a goal  (it is the same as last year, lose 25 lbs over a year), the embarrassment of a public failure will encourage me to persist!