Group Sex

Before you get the wrong idea, the only reason I put Sex in the title of this post is so a lots of people would get the wrong idea and read my blog. And, I just lost 75% of them right about now.

* * * *

Last week, I requested my Facebook friends to write an account of their struggles during The Great Quarantine of 2020, and email them to me. I would compile them and post my first, and only, collaborative group effort blog post. The premise wasn’t that hard to comprehend, but this is what happened:

Screenshot_20200416-092934

I know Amy and Randy. We met Amy at church in Surprise, AZ. Amy is going to be the next proud owner of our Buick Encore. Once this global quarantine thing is lifted, we’re going to drive up to the Phoenix metro area, eat some Rosati’s pizza, do some shopping, transfer the title to Amy, then fly back to the Lakeside Area.

We’re hoping to be able to do that in early May.

We met Randy here in the entrance of Walmart while we were waiting for the rain to stop. If it weren’t for Randy, we wouldn’t have our two darlingpreshadorbs kit-tens. She moved back to Idaho after hooking us up with Mika and Mollie, having fulfilled her reason for being in Mexico.

Honestly, I have no idea why she moved back to Idaho, but my version sounds cool.

* * * *

Screenshot_20200416-093018

Mary is a virtual friend. We’ve never met in person, and we probably never will, which is too bad. I like her more than some people I actually have met. Mary has spent  a lots of time during her quarantine putting jigsaw puzzles together, despite the intense pain of gout.

Gout is a common and complex form of arthritis that can affect anyone, but in antiquity it mostly affected royalty and kings. Like, Henry VIII of England. It’s characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness and tenderness in the joints, often the joint at the base of the big toe.

* * * *

Little Known Fact About Me: I also have occasional gout flare-ups. And, yes, it does hurt like unto two hells.

* * * *

A few more friends of mine offered these brief updates:

Screenshot_20200416-093045

I know Mike and Laurie from the golf course. Laurie’s husband passed away about a year ago. It hasn’t been easy for her. Trisha is one of my favorite nieces. She’s a nurse, so T-Bop holds a special place in my heart.

* * * *

Screenshot_20200416-093117

Two people actually wrote up detailed accounts of their experiences. Denise is my favorite sister. Geanie is an American ex-pat living in the Lakeside Area. She has a small business called The Ugly Truffle. I bought some of her chocolates and candy confections a couple of times. They are seriously to die for.

Denise submitted her story first. I edited some punctuation and grammar, but this is her story in her words.

* * * *

How has COVID-19 -19 messed with me?!

In the state of Florida, they refused to do a state wide shut down, cases were growing by the minute. When I was scheduled to work on 3/24/20, I refused to go for the safety of my health. 2 days later, Pinellas County shut down non-essential services.  I manage a hair salon part-time, my boss has been in the business for 33 years in the same location. Our stylists are employees, not sub-contractors. Pinellas County is very wealthy, our salon is a half mile from the Ferrari dealship. Our clients travel all over the world. Plus, many have been with my employer forever, and are old, doctoring for everything! No, I didn’t feel safe being at work.

Step 1: Sheltering at home. Hubby and I drank heavily the 1st week. Then it started to dawn on me that I really didn’t like him or myself after copious amounts of alcohol. We were all having happy hours on different patios, then the death toll climbed higher…

Step 2: Cut back/quit drinking. Both of us had medical appts coming up, so no drinking! Then there was dealing with residents in our condo complex. Most of our dear Canadian friends went home ahead of schedule. They would have no health coverage if they became sick in America. Once they got home they had to shelter in place for 2 weeks or be fined $1000 if a neighbor narked on them. And they do narc on their neighbors!

Some snowbirds, like our elderly neighbor, Sharon, is from NY. She couldn’t go home because her state was on lockdown, so she had to stay. Sharon is a social butterfly, wants crowds of people all day, every day, around her. She wasn’t taking this serious. I finally told her, as did my husband, either keep your butt at home to avoid bringing the virus home to the complex, or forget about us spending any time with you — you will have no one. Sharon has been keeping her butt at home, or shopping with one of us on a weekly outing.

Step 3: Douchebag Trumpites! We have many douchebags in Florida. They love The Donald. They Drank The Kool-aid! It’s a hoax!! Nobody is telling me what I can and can’t do.  They’re violating my rights as a citizen….(fill in the blanks from douchebags’ mouth).

Beaches are closed to the public in Pinellas County and many other counties in Florida. But there’s an exception most people didn’t realize: It doesn’t apply to the douchebags that jump over barricades. They think it’s a joke when the sheriff kicks them off the beach. They go back the next day to a different location. Does sheltering at home work? Only if you have a brain. One tenant in our condos is a muscle man, steroid idiot, whose dick is as big as his brain. He’s at the beach daily, jumping barricades to work out on equipment in our parks. Go back to NY, where you’re from, you ignorant pig!

Step 4: Trying to get unemployment in a state that doesn’t want to pay it. Florida has the lowest payments and fewest weeks available to collect in the nation. You lost your job? Too bad, take a flying jump off the Sky Bridge, be homeless, we don’t care, you’re not getting a dime in unemployment. At the end of March, I tried to apply for unemployment. It took me 5 days to get registered due to the system being overloaded. I was kicked out, retired out numerous times. Finally on the 5th day, there was success! Come back in 10 days to apply for your 1st week. 10 days later the website is defunct.

They’ve had every Tom, Dick, and Harry contacting the Governor about the shit website; he put a task force together. Many Florida Crackers don’t have internet, or a computer. They had to hand out paper applications and create a site that could be accessed by phones and tablets.

My 10 days are up, the website is defunct, and is now directing everyone to the new and improved site! How fun!! Back to the drawing board, you have to start from zero, creating a brand new claim. Today, I should have been requesting wages for the weeks I haven’t worked, not setting up a new claim…

I think they hope you just get fed up and commit suicide, rather than dealing with the assbackwards government.

Step 5: Finding Zen! I walk 5 miles a day 3-4 times a week. I am trying new recipes or making family favorites I haven’t made in sometime. I’m reading daily, luckily our club house has a small library in it. I’m binging on Netfix and Amazon Prime.  Go Tiger King!! I’m sheltering in place. I’m praying — daily, hourly, anytime I have anxiety knocking on my door. My son-in-law in Chicago has all the symptoms of COVID-19, and I pray for him, his family and for all of us that we see the rainbow after the storm, the light at the end of the tunnel — that we will experience some sort of normal once again.

* * * *

Again, save for some minor editing, this is Geanie’s story:

…in my particular situation, my COVID isolation actually began before COVID… so I need to start there.

On February 26, just a short time before we all began paying serious attention to COVID-19 and what was going to be expected of us, my husband passed away. I had just spent 3 weeks at his side, day and night, providing hospice care. From the very moment he was gone I had never felt aloneness of this depth before in my life. I also knew that after watching him slowly die knowing there was nothing I could do — I knew that I could not stay in the home we were renting. My first morning after losing him, as I left our bedroom to pass through the living room on my way to make coffee, all I saw was my sweet Roger still laying in the hospice bed, dying all over again. There was no way for me to stay there. There was no way for me to grieve properly and heal if I had to see that every time I walked into the living room. So I moved, immediately. 

I found a little apartment and within 4 days of losing my husband, I moved. What I didn’t realize was that I was the only tenant in this brand new apartment complex made up of 14 apartments. I also didn’t realize the apartments were in a cellphone dead zone. Looking back I understand why I didn’t know these things. It’s amazing that I was even able to function enough to actually pack and move as I did. But here I was, and still am, in a deafening silent concrete complex with no one else around. Of course I immediately ordered internet access so I could at least have noise from the TV and have access to at least have a way to stay in touch with family and friends. That took 2 full weeks. Those 2 weeks were maddening for me. For one, since I was in a cellphone dead zone, I had no choice but to always remain at the apartment so I could let the internet provider in for installation. They couldn’t call me to let me know. And neither could anyone else.

Imagine how happy and excited I was once it was installed. I wouldn’t have to stay in this concrete graveyard all the time anymore! I could spend time with my friends, my family, here. I could begin my grieving process, my healing process, with the help of others.

But, just as I was looking forward to moving forward, COVID-19 struck and we were told to isolate.

How could I grieve? How could I begin healing my soul? We all need others in our lives to help us get through the grief and help us heal. For the first time in my life, I was living in limbo. And now, in addition to having my heart lying at my feet in a million pieces, I was a prisoner to a virus.

I’ve not found a way to move on. I’ve not found a way to grieve. I know that if I were to allow myself to grieve in the midst of this isolation, in the midst of this fear of COVID-19, I’m afraid my tears and my fears will never end; that I may end up a basketcase. Why? Because grieving alone can be very harmful. Grieving alone is torturous. Human beings were built to be consoled. Here, all alone, in this concrete graveyard, isn’t consoling, it’s just a reminder, every moment of every day, of just how alone I am without my husband.

Am I coping? Sure, I’m coping. I’m coping by putting every emotion, every tear, aside. I’m waiting for my time to come, my time to grieve, my time to move on. It’s not now.

I spend my time keeping up with all that is going on in the US via television. I keep up with all that is going on here at Lakeside with my friends and others via Facebook. Oh, how I appreciate those posts that bring a little smile to me! So many have reached out to me, checking on me, offering their love and support. I do so appreciate that, too. But there is nothing that can replace an actual physical hug when you need one. So I’m warning all my friends….  Just as soon as is possible, you better be ready with those arms of yours, because I’m sure gonna use mine. And yes, I’ll cry.

I’m coping by remembering every single day that this is not what my sweet Roger wanted for me. I remember how he would support me and push me to be the best I can be. Sitting and drowning myself in sorrow would be so easy right now, but I know that is not the woman my husband knew, not the woman my husband loved. And to be less than how he thought of me would be an insult to the great love we shared for 20 years.

I’m coping by not coping. I’m coping by leaving myself in limbo. I’m coping by knowing that as each silent, isolated, lonely day goes by, I’m one more day closer to the end of this nightmare. Every night when I go to bed, I am thankful that the day is over; only because I know I’m one day closer.

And every morning I have just one thing I do to try to start the day out right. It may not last, but at least I try every morning. I sing to my little Boo. Boo is my dog. He’s a little Pekingese. Here’s what I sing:

🎼Momma’s 🎵little Boo Bear,🎶Boo Bear, Boo Bear. 🎶Momma’s 🎵little Boo Bear, I 🎶love you, Yes🎵I do, I really🎶love you.

And I give him an awesome belly rub and body massage. It starts both our days out right.

That’s how I cope. By starting the day out right and ending it happy that another day of this nightmare is over. What happens in between the two, well, is very hard. But I will just keep coping, in limbo, for now. My time will come and I want to be ready for it.

* * * *

Yeah, that was a bit of a tear-jerker, wasn’t it.

* * * *

Thank you to everyone that contributed something. Thank you to Denise and Geanie for stepping up to the plate and knocking one out of the fuckin’ park.

Until next time, stay calm, stay sane, and stay safe.

My Right Foot

For those of you who read my last post, I have an update. For those of you that didn’t, I had purchased a defective component for my stereo system and had been trying to get some sort of resolution of my problem through the Customer Support team at Best Buy®.

I had talked to a couple of the support people on the phone early in March, and while they were polite and friendly, they weren’t able to do anything to rectify my problem. So I sent several emails to the executive members of the Customer Support team. And nothing happened until March 10th when I received an email from one member of the Executive Resolution Team assuring me that I was a revered and extremely valuable customer. And then nothing happened. Again.

Yesterday, I sent another email to Best Buy®, and I finally contacted the one person I had initially resisted contacting.

Mr. Herbert Joly, the CEO.

I outlined all of my conversations with the Customer Support team, verbal and written, and asked Mr. Joly if he’d be kind enough to, you know, kind of light a small to medium sized fire under a few asses and get someone to do something to resolve my problem in a bit more timely manner, like, this year.

I told Mr. Joly that I had been a nurse, so I had a very basic understanding of customer service. I likened my experience with his company to having one of my patients ask me for a couple of Tylenol for pain, then me responding, “I’m sorry, revered and extremely valuable customer. If you could check back with me in six to eight months, I might be able to help you.”

This morning, I received a telephone call from Mr. Eleazar Kovalov, the guy who had assured me that I was revered and extremely valuable. He said that he was going to send me a refund check in the amount of $81.96. In his mind, it was the easiest, quickest resolution, and this thing had clearly been stretched out too long already. And he informed me that I would receive my check in ten days.

But wait, there’s more. My lovely supermodel wife’s boyfriend is coming here to visit at the end of April, and he’s going to bring me a new wireless rear speaker unit.

You can breathe easily once more, Jane. Balance has been restored to The Force, at least as far as this situation goes.

And one last thing. I sent another email to Mr. Joly thanking him for his assistance.

However, there always has to be something else that gets messed up, creating a different imbalance, otherwise my life would be perfect. It would appear there’s a plan in place to make sure that never happens.

* * * *

I’ve mentioned my affection for movies and music in previous posts. Little Known Fact About My Blog: many of the titles of the posts I write are also song or movie titles. Or at the very least, a play on words that reflects a song or movie title.

Coming up with a catchy title is the most critical part of the writing process. Well, it is for me. Suppose that Erich Maria Remarque wanted to write a sequel to All Quiet on the Western Front. He’d need another catchy title to grab his readers’ attention.

I’d suggest this: Still Pretty Quiet on the Western Front. 

Mr. Remarque will have to figure out the rest…

* * * *

Perhaps you’ve seen the movie, My Left Foot, 1989, Daniel Day-Lewis. It’s the story of Christy Brown. He was an Irishman born with cerebral palsy, and the only part of his body he could control was his left foot. About a week ago, my right foot started bothering me and it steadily got worse until it became the only part of my body that I couldn’t control.

I’m fairly used to having at least one part of my body bother me on a daily basis, so I wasn’t too concerned about my newest pain issue. It wasn’t too bad. Most of the time. Unless I was golfing.

Until yesterday.

I went to my weekly golf lesson with my buddy, Tom. By the way, my golf coaches are reasonably satisfied with the mechanical improvement in my swing. I still have a bunch of stuff to figure out, but as they say, it’s job security for them.

My golf lesson is a group lesson. A bunch of old, white gringos gather on the driving range and hit golf balls while Romero and Cesar critique our swings and stuff. Yesterday, I hit golf balls for about an hour. And that’s all I did. I didn’t practice putting. I didn’t run laps around the golf course, or do any push ups. To be honest, none of us do any of those things. Most of the old gringos hit golf balls, then go drink beer in the club house afterwards.

My right foot was aching on a medium-ish scale when I arrived at the golf course, but by the time I got home I could hardly place any weight on my wildly throbbing foot. On a scale of one to ten, my pain was a nine. It climbed to thirteen if I tried to walk.

I’m not a doctor. I’ve never even played one on TV, but I once was a very good nurse. So I decided to diagnose myself.

Okay. I need to document a couple of disclaimers. First, and foremost, do not try this at home. I am a highly trained healthcare professional with decades of experience at speaking very complex medical terminology.

Second, and secondmost, do not, under any circumstances, ever ask me to diagnose you. I’ll tell you that you have cancer.

Okay. Let us begin.

* * * *

Little Known Fact About Nurses: whenever something goes wrong with our bodies, we automatically assume the worst. We know all of the terrible things that can go wrong. Therefore, I immediately came to the conclusion that I had somehow stepped on a landmine.

Little Known Fact About Medical Diagnoses: finding the correct diagnosis can be a very complicated and tricksy thing. It’s basically a process of ruling out shit until only one thing can be ruled in. Unless there’s more than one thing…  Seeing how I hadn’t actually stepped on a landmine, it was easy to rule this out. The only thing about this diagnosis that was remotely accurate was it conveyed the level of pain I was in.

So I moved on to the next most probable scenario. I had stepped in a bear trap. Again, fairly easy to rule out because there aren’t any wild bears in Mexico, and even if there are, there aren’t any living in the Lakeside area, so there aren’t any bear traps to accidentally step in.

Trauma would certainly be a good cause of the pain I’ve been experiencing. But I’m pretty sure I’d remember injuring myself, and I have no recollection of doing anything to fold, spindle or otherwise mutilate my right foot.

Back when I was drinking myself to death, I would wake up in the morning with multiple areas that ached with pain. And the first thing that popped into my head was, Did I jump out of a car on the highway again?

Once I got through the impossible possibilities it was on to the less improbable possibilities.

* * * *

Gout.

Gout is a complex form of arthritis that can affect anyone, but is more common in older males. Like, well, me. It’s characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness and tenderness in the joints, often the joint at the base of the big toe.

It is precisely that part of my right foot that has been screaming in something like unto agony.

Gout occurs when urate crystals accumulate in your joints, causing inflammation and intense pain. Urate crystals can form when you have high levels of uric acid in your blood.

Okay. I just had a bunch of labs done last week, and none of my lab values were abnormal. While gout isn’t as ridiculous of a diagnosis as landmines or bear traps, it still doesn’t appear to be very probable.

If you’re experiencing a gout flare up, urate crystals accumulate in all of your joints, not just your big toe. I have varying degrees of arthritis in my back, shoulders and knees. And also in my hips, ankles and hands. Yet none of those joints are screaming in pain. The only thing that is gout-ish about my symptoms is the point of origin of my pain.

I might not be able to completely rule out gout, but neither can I completely rule it in. There’s a couple of more possibilities.

* * * *

Bunions.

A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. It forms when your big toe pushes against your next toe, forcing the joint of your big toe to get bigger and stick out. Bunions can also hurt like hell.

Little Known Fact About My Right Foot: it has a bunion. It’s not a big bunion, and as far as I know it has never caused me this much discomfort before. So whatever it is that has gone wrong with my foot, it probably isn’t the bunion’s fault.

My right foot hurts almost as bad as my first kidney stone did, which made me think that maybe I was passing another kidney stone, except this one is leaving my body via the big toe on my right foot. As intriguing as this idea is, I drink a lots of water now, mostly because I never want to have another kidney stone. Even in my foot.

I’m pretty sure I can rule out my bunion. And a pedal/plantar renal calculus.

See? I told you I knew a lots of fancy-sounding words. And then I remembered something that sounds uber-fancy.

* * * *

Plantar Fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot pain. It involves an inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes, the plantar fascia. Hence, the name. Plantar fasciitis typically causes a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot near the heel.

However, my heel is the only part of my right foot that doesn’t hurt. The rest of it fucking hurts like unto two goddamn hells. It feels like I’m walking on razor blades while dropping a bowling ball on my foot.

I have a very high pain tolerance, but this has been beyond my ability to effectively cope with, so I did what any logical guy in my position would do. I begged my lovely supermodel wife to amputate my right foot with my power miter saw. She said no, which wasn’t all that surprising. She would probably tell you that she spends one-third of her time saying no to things I suggest.

Perhaps A Little Known Fact About Plantar Fasciitis And Nurses: nurses are at a high risk level of developing plantar fasciitis because they spend long hours on their feet walking on hard surfaces. Several nurses I know have had it. Their descriptions of their symptoms are what made me think PF was the root cause of my aching foot.

Like unto almost every disease process, there are multiple factors involved in contracting and/or developing PF, and I have almost none of them. I don’t exercise. I sure as hell don’t run. I’m not obese. I’m not working as a nurse anymore. Still, there’s one possible indication that applies to me.

Shoes.

Wearing ill-fitting shoes can cause PF. I recently bought a new pair of Skechers® golf shoes. I absolutely love Skechers®. I have five pairs of their shoes. They’re the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. That said, I’m not sure why I bought new golf shoes. I didn’t need them. I already have two pairs of golf shoes. My new shoes are a bright neon green. You need sunglasses just to look at them. I never buy stuff like unto that.

My new golf shoes are the most expensive shoes I’ve ever purchased, but they’re just a bit too big for my feets. My feets slip and slide, just a little, inside my new shoes when I’m walking downhill. Otherwise, I don’t really notice any issues with my golf shoes. Maybe, just maybe, they might have some culpability in the current status of my right foot.

And then there’s this: the recommended treatments for PF have made my right foot feel better. Rest. Ice packs. Motrin. Stretching exercises. Elevation.

Something I found interesting is one of treatments for plantar fasciitis is ESWT.  Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy. It’s what my urologist did to break up two of my kidney stones.

I’ll probably spend the next few days doing those things, minus the ESWT, and not much else. My right foot actually feels pretty decent right now. I hope it works. I’m going golfing on Sunday.

If the shoe fits…  In my case, it’s the opposite. At this point, I’m not sure I’ll ever wear my amazing Technicolor golf shoes again.

Perhaps A Little Known Fact About Me And Shoes: I rarely wear shoes around the house. I prefer being barefoot. So this makes the case against my flamboyant golf shoes that much stronger. My feet have been seen associating with them more than any of my other shoes.

* * * *

And there you have it. We have explored several possibilities. Some of them even made sense. What we ended up with is Non-traumatic Non-traditional Delayed Onset Pseudo-Goutal Plantar-Facio Bunionitis with Possible Idiopathic Displaced Renal Calculus Syndrome.

Ta-da!!!

If I had gone to see my doctor back in the States, that diagnosis would probably have cost me a few hundred dollars. In Mexico, it would’ve been seiscientos pesos. Roughly thirty bucks.

I love Mexico.

Does anyone want a pair of Technicolor golf shoes? Sunglasses not included.