spring has…almost…sprung!

I am a spring time person. I love the cold nights and the cool days, the soft rains and the raging thunderstorms, the smell of loam after a storm, the plants sending out new shoots of life I will enjoy into autumn. It’s hard to be cynical and sour when everything comes together, new.

Those who read this blog from time to time know that last year at this time I did a series of walks with my handsome ginger tabby, Louie. Louie and I had small adventures each time I followed him on his walks. They always were concerned with, from Louie’s perspective, “What’s new in my territory?!” Then, August 1, 2011, Louie died suddenly of lymphoma. I didn’t know until the very night he died that he was ill. To this day, I grieve that fact because I had medical insurance on Louie. He could have had a couple more years if we’d caught it in time. Yeah.

But it is spring time, time to put away the sorrows and travails of the previous years, and enjoy the resurgence of life.

This year I have Louie’s successors, the kitten brothers. Full of life and the dickens, Andy and Dougy aren’t Louie, but they are a new adventure for me. Louie I rescued from the pound when the veterinarian estimated him to be five. The kitten brothers come to me when they were a bit older than two months, last September.

The kitten brothers. Cynical Andy, just now starting to accept things as they are and enjoying them a little. He was the sicker of the two kittens, and had to put up with more than a life time of baths to wash the diarrhea out of his fur. Ugh! Goofy Dougy, always ready for a good time. He and Andy play well together, and I think Andy benefits from Andy’s goofiness, his “come on, Andy, let’s chase each other all over the apartment and hunt each other down” way of keeping Andy occupied with what’s necessary for kittens: A good time, all the time, thank you!

Spring. The kittens are eight months old, as of March 1st. They make me laugh. They make me look forward to getting out of bed in the morning. They behave badly but are good, little kittens by and large. Explorers of their realm, little predators learning how to do it by hunting each other -and me sometimes – they are spring spirits, young, reckless, adventuresome, rough around the edges, but holding the full promise of a renewal of the cat presence I liked about Louie in my life. They enter spring as kitten teenagers. That should be interesting!

I’m in a spring mood today. The remains of last year remind me of the cycle of life that ends in death for all living things, but there always is that little sprout poking up through the dead leaves, impossibly small now, but just waiting to spring forth as rhubarb, the first chives for a light oniony touch in an omelette, or maybe mint for some tea.

Spring. My season!


My word! The last time I posted, it was the middle of summer, July 31st! Perhaps the cooler weather will prompt me to return to this blog.

A lot happened in that time, mostly management of my mother’s and my financial and insurance business, something I don’t want to relive.

At this point, I don’t think I have insurance coverage. I’ve become one of those unfortunates who fall under the status “has pre-existing condition”. It’s a big ‘un, too. Wegener’s granulomatosis. Not on the Nebraska Comprehensive Health Insurance Pool list of pre-existing conditions they cover.

Well, there is one form of vascular disease- WG is a vascular disease- on the list, but it relates of arterial issues arising from smoking. Wegener’s granulomatosis isn’t that. Smoking!? And what about these other “pre-existing conditions”? Alcoholism. Attempted suicide. Cancer survivor.

I’m here to tell you, if you are going to have a pre-existing condition in THIS country, the United States of America, it better not be an orphan disease!

“I’m here to tell you…”

That expression crept into my awareness after I first came down with Wegener’s granulomatosis in March or April 2003. Surviving that initial flare, surviving treatment with Cytoxan and Prednisone (the standard treatment for severe cases then and largely now, and known among weggies as the “Toxic cocktail”), that phrase took on new meaning and life.

“I am here to tell you,” I’d say. It wasn’t a given before. I was near death, with lungs and kidneys under assault by my own immune system. “I’m here to tell you,” I’d say. And I meant it!

I. Am. Here. To. Tell. You! I am here to tell you that America’s healthcare system is failing me just now, its insurance side at least, and I hope and pray that my health holds out until the Republican- and insurance company-opposed healthcare reforms phase in or I reach the age where Medicare kicks in, if that will do the trick.

I’m waiting now for a call or an e-mail from BCBS’s local agent to let me know if I am “in” or I am “out”.

If I am “in”, I get to pay too much for less insurance than I had under my company, then COBRA, plans. And be grateful to a healthcare system that values dollars over people, rich people over poor, the advantaged over the disadvantaged, umm… I hear violins!

[“Can Jimmy Stewart return from heaven and play me in the tragic movie I’m playing in my mind. Yes? Oh, good!”]

If I am “out”, I probably will survive. I’ll even set money aside for a rainy day when my body’s auto-immune system runs amok, again, as probability tells me it most likely will before I die of it or its complications.

[I must get to work on that obituary and funeral arrangements. I’m a veteran, so should qualify for a burial by Uncle Sam in the new veteran’s cemetery built on top of an old prairie dog town where I used to watch burrowing owl chicks feed on grasshoppers brought to them by their parents. I’ll like that!]

These will be days of uncertainty, but not days bereft of hope. My faith in God, tempered by this terrible illness, is key to that. That and the fact that God in His infinite wisdom had the good sense to create cats, of which I have one very amusing and companionable specimen, Louie.

I’m here to tell you, that’s Louie in the photo in the super hero suit he’ll wear when he rescues me from this quagmire! Good kitty!


Americans with chronic illness know that the first concern of hospitals is less for you than “Do you have insurance?”

Doctors, nurses, food service, maintenace staff: All great in every hospital I’ve been in (five hospitals total).

In nearly every hospital I’ve been in, in every hospitalization, there is a moment when someone from the billing department asks you: “How do you plan to pay for this, do you have insurance?

Usually the question comes while you, bound to a gurney, are gasping for air or bleeding all over the floor.

I don’t exaggerate that much.

I learned fast, though, that you have to be aggressive with the money people. They, more significantly the system that created them and the focus on payment over patient, is what’s broke with the American health care system.

The system is broke.

August 27, 2009, a decades long champion of national health care died.

His public life, his true legacy, is that he stood up for the people least able to stand up for themselves. To people like me, with chronic illness, there is hope that the Obama administration, without him on the President’s side, will be able to create a humane and just health care act that works.

The politics of it are above me. I was touched by his death. I feel the loss.

If you feel the loss, too, please meditate, prayerfully, while listening to the video above.

Soli Deo gloria!

Ted Kennedy, Requiescat In Pace.

  • things are looking up…

    I don’t know. After yesterday’s post, I felt a need to create something fun.

    There are several places one can get t-shirt designs printed up. I created this t-shirt as a variation of a weggieboy’s blog postage stamp, a mousepad, and the heading of this blog. I guess the design makes it my official weggieboy’s blog t-shirt.

    If it brings people to this blog, great! The statistics indicate people actually do come to it, and I hope they are entertained, amused, informed, and find it worth their time.

    The symptoms I was concerned about seem to be clearing up, but caution is my word. Once a weggieboy, always a weggieboy.

    “new normal”

    FACT: I’ve been in remission since April-May 2005.

    Life can take on teeth: I’ve had a few symptoms the past few days. They bear watching. This is the world of the weggie. “Symptoms” may suggest Wegener’s granulomatosis, but it mimics many other diseases, making it a difficult disease to diagnose or live with.

    A symptom can result from nothing more than over-doing a turn in the garden; many ordinary, non-threatening things such as colds or flu; or a full-blown Wegener’s granulomatosis flare.

    I’m hesitant to mention specifics, as if that can put the “hoodoo” on me, assuring a flare.

    (I found this on “Stumble”. I don’t know who to attribute it to other than “Russelljo”. The little guy starts down the hill on his own. This is how I feel today!)


    Yes, if symptoms persist, I will make an appointment with my pulmonologist to review symptoms, to give blood and urine samples for analyses, to establish which direction my immune system is headed.

    If it a flare, there’s the “Duo from Hell”, Cytoxan and Prednisone: there may be less toxic therapies available now, but they still seem to be the old reliable combo, the one recommended by most rheumatologists.

    Yet, I’ve had these symptoms before, and they turned out to be a false alarm. I’m counting on that again.

    In the end, hope and faith are what every weggie needs. That and an understanding that there will always be a “new normal” down the road, where you take pause, assess what body parts are still attached (just joking, sorta), and come to grips with what the next medical plateau in your life will be.


    I tend to be a happy person. I joke around. I rough house. I enjoy a good belly laugh. Sometimes I go a step too far. That is the risk of a quirky sense of humor.

     For example, several years back, a young friend asked me that seminal question of youth, “What is the meaning of life?” I, not thinking about the source of his question, replied, “You are born, if you are lucky you reproduce, and then you die!” Um, yeah! Good one!

     My friend, however, entered the workforce after accidentally becoming a father and a husband, in that order. This bump in the road of life meant giving up a chance at college or university and a more secure future. It hurt! So, my glib response reminded him that he’d finished two thirds of life before he reached age 20! Or so he heard it.

    Whew! The next couple of days he was a bit down. Finally, I brought him out of the funk by reminding him of all the joys and potentials ahead of him, regardless of how he traveled his road. I learned the danger of too fast and glib a response to a sincere and serious question. And the dangers of killing someone’s hope.