There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Friday, March 06, 2015

I'm a drug trial graduate.....and the story is a long one!

July 2011 I was 13 months post heart attack with 2 stents placed. My nuclear scan was done July 5th. I was positive that 12 months of eating healthy and literally exercising my ass, stomach and boobs off  had reduced my remaining 70% occluded vessel by at least 25%, I would be taken off Plavix the platelet suppression drug that caused the most horrible bruises I had ever seen AND, all of this would be confirmed at my appointment to see my new cardiologist.

I had lost weight the doc said, my blood pressure was great, my heart rate nice and slow, no leg swelling, but, I was still 70% occluded said the nuke scan, Plavix was "cheap insurance" and I would be staying on the drug for quite awhile because another stent was needed and how did August 25th work for me?   Okay, I guess.

On the 25th while waiting in the cath lab patient room we were approached by a woman who identified herself and said she was a research nurse working with my cardiologist, Eli Lily and Daiichi Sankyo.  There was a drug trial going on that included the type of stent I was going to have inserted (drug eluting Paclitaxel), an oral drug similar to Plavix called Effient and daily aspirin.  She gave us a packet of information to read, my doc came in the room and fully explained the trial and said I was an excellent candidate.  I would get the drug free for at least a year (big benefit there because Plavix cost a bunch at that time), be monitored every 3 months by my doc and the research nurse, and get 50 bucks for each of the visits.  The point of the see if short(er) or long term platelet suppression therapy helped prevent cardiac vessel occlusion in conjunction with the stent drug and aspirin therapy.   I signed on the dotted line.

Here's how the trial was going to work.  It was a 5 year trial. Every patient enrolled would absolutely get the drug for the first year.  People included in the trial had stents placed, had an acute heart attack or other qualifying cardiac event.  After a year the patient (or number actually) would be double blinded and only the dispensing body would know if the patient was then getting drug or placebo.  Aspirin was to be taken every day.

It seemed to me that anyone with half a brain would know if they were on drug or not because of the nasty side effect of bruising. I continued to bruise if I looked at my arms or legs the wrong way, Steve looked at me the wrong way, I turned over in bed or simply took a deep breath.  From month 13 through month 30 I was to bipp along taking my drugs, seeing the research nurse, seeing the doc every 6 months and depositing my nice little check.  At month 30 I would be taken off drug or placebo, continue aspirin, see the research nurse every 6 months and deposit my check.  Sounded okay to me.

Month 30 was approaching and the nurse called to make my appointment.  She told me she had some important things to discuss with me and that a new consent would be needed to continue in the trial.  Warning bells went off.  Sure enough, there were important things said.

I was un-blinded.  Yes, I was on the drug and surprise I was going to stay on the drug for at least another year. Why? Because as the trial had progressed it was found that people who had been on the drug and then taken off at month 30.... well, a large number of them had cardiac events within 15-21 days of going off drug.  None of the events were fatal.....well, thank goodness for that.....but, more information was needed and rather than put those of us left in the trial at risk, we were to continue taking Effient.  At that point in time our results were going to be merged with another world wide trial called The DAP Trial (dual anti-platelet) that included Plavix and other variations of stents, drugs, etc. I would be seen at the end of month 42 and would find out what was decided then.  I deposited my check.

Month 42 appointment was yesterday.  I am/was one of the last people in the trial, # 1525/118, and the trial will be fully closed in 2 weeks.   The paper had been published (yes, we had read it) and the results one is sure whether keeping patients on long term platelet suppression drugs helps or not, but for sure it must be providing some sort of protection as evidenced by those poor folks that had events after month 30.

We had a really nice conversation, my cardiologist wants me to stay on either Plavix or Effient (I suspect it will be Effient) long term which in doctor language means til the casket drops, I was given 2 weeks of sample Effient and a script will be called in to my pharmacy.  My check is in the mail and will be deposited before the endorsement ink is dry.

If I typed trail instead of trial....sorry.....either way it has been a long trail in the trial.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Ass Hacks

My blog was hacked. Serves me right for not posting in forever. This year will mark 9 years of blogging. A lot has gone on during those years.....much loved pets lost, friends made and lost and then found, trips, weather, health issues, great grandbabies and on and on. How dare someone hack all of that. Ass Hacks. It has been an interesting journey getting to 70. On my fridge I have a little magnet where I wrote my mom and dad's ages when they died. I know....beyond morbid. But, if I average those numbers I come out at 79. Not good. So, I am treadmilling a bit more, eating a little better and trying to beat that average by....oh, let's say 25 years. I'm laughing too! I have said in the past that I would blog more, Facebook less and other not accomplished resolutions. But....if I don't try then for sure those won't be fulfilled. I'm gonna try. Besides, Facebook is... after all is said and done....just Facebook!

Monday, December 09, 2013

The post ictal state of a vet visit.

The howling is over, the claws are retracted, the vet wasn't bitten but she was smacked. Emma's journey to the vet is done. The vet ruled out tumor, poison, and trauma so we are left with epilepsy unknown etiology until labs come back and then .....well, we'll see. If her labs are normal then the diagnosis stands and we will start phenobarbital. The "rule" is: If a cat has 2 or more seizures in a 4 week period then they start medication. Emma has had possibly three in 6 days; two for sure. She is not a happy kitty right now and Steve and I are sad. I refuse to think of her as sick. She simply has a condition that we will control. She is 6 years old. She is young and healthy otherwise and I love her even more for maintaining her cool for the most part and not potty-ing on me on the ride home like her brother did. Kiss, kiss my sweet Emma Lee.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

My Emma is sick. Not tummy sick or stuffy nose sick; she has had 3 seizures since last Tuesday. Tuesday we went grocery shopping. When I was in the snorgage room putting a few things away I noticed that a footstool was turned on its side, a few pictures were knocked over and the heart shaped rug had scooted across the floor. I laughed and asked Emma and Guido if they had a party while we were gone. Thursday night at 11:30 we woke up to the sound of bumping under the bed, a cat howl and when I turned the light on Emma was in the water bowl having a fit because she was we thought. She spent the night....until 4 AM....searching the whole house for some unseen mouse or toy or maybe Izzy. Friday morning Steve and I discussed the possibility she had a seizure but, that thought seemed ridiculous......not our Emma, not feisty, lovable, wonderful, my heart of hearts cat Emma. She's still a kitten; only six years old for heavens sake. No, not a seizure. We said we would watch her and watch her we did. Friday went by fine, Friday night was perfect with Emma curled up at my knees washing her face and paws before settling in for the night. Saturday was the same. Then at 1:30 this morning we heard bumps in the next room and there was Emma hiding under the china cabinet with foamy spittle around her mouth. Seizure.

Emma and Guido's pedigree can be summed up in 3 words; rescued feral kittens. I blogged how we found their pregnant momma, Sweetpea, in our pole building. She had 4 kittens under one of Steve's old cars. From the first glimpse of Emma the runt, my heart was stolen. We eventually trapped all of the kittens and Sweetpea, found homes for all and kept Emma and Guido, my babies. They are adorable. They are sweet. They are playful. They are lovable. Emma kisses me. Emma sits on my lap at night and watches TV with me or reads with me. She is my little girl. Steve says she is perfect.

 I know I love my cats ridiculously; ridiculously. I do. They (and the dogs as well) fill our days with happiness, have kept us active and filled our home with family. We have lost so many sweet babies in the last few years; Charlie, Penelope, Drakie, Fuzzy and Mimi Louise. I just cannot think that I will lose Emma. I have looked up seizures in cats....she hasn't hit her head, fallen out of a tree, been hit by a car.....she never goes outside. She hasn't eaten poison although she did lick a can of dog food last week. Does that count? I have ruled out all of the usual culprits but one. Tumor. I know that using the Internet can be dangerous in some cases and this is probably one.

We will call the vet first thing in the morning and do as much as we possibly can and afford. Until then.....I can only hope this day and night go by quickly because I know I am annoying Emma to bits with my constant touching and kissing.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Just because

I've spent part of the last two days going through boxes and files of cards, comic strips, letters, newspaper articles, kids drawings, essays and school projects. I threw out cards from people I no longer remember, some comic strips and a few other weird pieces of paper (meaning I couldn't figure out why I kept them) but, kept everything from my kids, Steve and grandkids. Among about 2000 Mutt's comic strips I found a 1978 letter from my mom. My mom and I had a difficult relationship. She never said out loud that she loved me until she was dying. But, the whole purpose of this letter was to tell me just that. Why is it I don't remember ever receiving that letter? Why? Right now I really wish my mom was still alive because I need to apologize to her for being such a fucked up kid and woman. She didn't deserve a lot of the misery I put her through. My excuse for being a poor mother was I did the best I could. Maybe she did too.

Monday, September 09, 2013


A friend of mine on Facebook mentioned a lack of blogging on her part...Tiffany Stewart to be exact. I'm not sure what blog she will post on or if she even will .....but, for sure I have sorely neglected mine. No excuses; I haven't felt creative, cat storied, family tale telling or anything that involves writing more than maybe 10 words or a "like" click. My life revolves around exercising, menu figuring out, mowing the lawn, my eternal house cleaning, Steve, the cats and dogs and seeing my no particular order. We have had one grandchild visit this summer. Our family is busy and involved in sports, school, jobs and all of those activities young families do! But, I miss them still. I could carry on about the weather in rural Idaho, crab about dogs barking in the middle of the night or bitch about the woman next door cutting down her forest along the property line that irritates me beyond belief. But, why would I subject anyone reading this to all of that? Exactly. Life is good. I am healthy I think....I'll know more tomorrow after I see my cardiologist. I address the man by his first name; Ron. I had a nuclear stress test today because of pesky chest pain; sigh. I woke up this morning, have been upright most of the day, love Steve beyond words and my kitties give my hand a bath every day. Not much more I could ask for.....well, except for visits from that family of mine.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Loving a cat can mend a wounded heart. Mimi's miaow soothed mine for sure. Her little face caught my tears. She passed away at home today.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Losing a miaow

What is it about my cats? They ignore me, get fur all over the furniture, scratch me with their claws and yet somehow have managed to wrap themselves around my scarred heart like a big red valentine with LOVE written all over it.

 I have had nine cats since 1982. The day before I got my first cat Babie, I would have said I didn't like cats. Now....they are my sweet babies and I can't imagine my life without several little (or big) fur balls.

My Mimi Louise is dying. She has bowel and kidney cancer and her lymph nodes are involved. Mimi is 15. She is crabby, sweet, lazy, aloof, scared of Izzy, feisty and a liar. She promised me on my heart after Fuzzy, her brother, died that she would be around forever. Yes, we talk to each other. Of all my cats Mimi has been the most vocal. She starts conversations and answers me when I talk to her. I truly believe she understands what I say and knows when I am upset and need a kitty kiss or encouraging miaow. I love her beyond words. I hate seeing her the way she is now....pottying outside the box and being embarrassed, falling over or just sitting down because she is so tired. She has lost 4 pounds in 2 months....this the cat that has been on a diet since she was one. At one point she was over 25 much over we don't know because the kitty scale topped out at 25.

 I had lost my boy kitty, Magic, the year before Mimi was born. A girl at work had a Siamese that had escaped the house and came back pregnant so a litter was available. Three babies were Siamese that had dibs on her right away....a boy Fuzzy that I had asked for before they were born.....and Mimi. No one wanted Mimi. She was just a "plain tabby" according to her then owner. When I went to pick up Fuzz he was napping with Mimi and I fell in love with her then.  Yup, she was a tabby alright....but, she had ticked fur with orange tips and green eyes....she was beautiful to me.

 Mimi is my last So Cal kitty. She bounced along with us in the RV when we moved to Idaho in 1998. I guess of all my cats I thought she had the least chance of living a long life because of her weight. She was one of the first cats at our vet office to go on a special weight loss diet food. We tried getting her to be more active. She was the first guinea kitty to have a harness and leash for walks. She revolted every time we tried to take her outside and would flatten herself on the garage floor and refuse to move. She lived for the occasional kitty snack, would give her best try to jump onto the counter where the other cat food was so she could steal some....but never succeeded. All she ever wanted to do was eat, nap, potty and get an occasional hug on her terms. Instead she was relegated to 1/3 cup of food spread throughout the day and teasing from anyone who saw her. No wonder that she smacked everyone from family to friends to workers. Now, when she can eat whatever she wants she isn't hungry.

We have to make a decision soon. I hate doing this. I can't imagine not having her here. Steve is devastated and even Izzy the terrorist has stopped chasing her. I love you Mims, Mimila, Moo, my sweet, wonderful Mimi Louise.

I use a photo of Mimi as my profile picture and she has a page located on my Facebook home page.  She could have been a Vogue model....yes she could. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Another Mother's Day. It's just Sunday really. Yup, feeling sorry for myself. No Kids here, no grand kids either and I still have one great-grand child I haven't met. My fault. I moved to Idaho; no one forced me. It's just that we had plans and things were different before the gigantic recession....more visits to So Cal, more kids here, more of everything family so I wouldn't feel like this every time a special day rolled around. Oh, poor me.

My mother. I miss her...not every day, not just on Mother's Day...but I miss her a lot. I miss those few times we actually had fun together, seeing her with my kids when they were small, giving her gifts, feeling the comfort of my childhood home and the wonderful taste of her Italian cooking. I wasn't really close to my mom. She was as difficult to love as I am. She wasn't a hugger or mommy-kiss-and-make-it-better woman. I can only remember 2 times she told me she loved me and both of those times were when she was dying. But, when I was a kid she was my movie star. She had thick, fierce black hair, wore deep red lipstick, was full figured, and could dress like she was ready for a fashion show. She smelled like Avon. Today I miss her....a lot.

 I have tried to be a different mother than mine....not the nicest thing to say I guess. But, I am a hugger, a kisser, a crier, a misser of my kids of all generations. It took a while for me to become the mother I should have been, but I hope being a late bloomer is OK with my kids because I love and miss them every single day all day long.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Muddied Crystal Clear Thoughts

I plan on living a long, long time.....heart stuff listen up!  I am going to see my grandchildren and great grandchildren become the people I know they will be and that is nothing short of wonderful humans. The story I am going to tell will make you want to comment (if anyone reads this anymore) stuff like stop that and buck up, think positively, get over it....whatever.  But, facts are facts and I am at a point in my life where "things" need to be taken care of and my affairs need to be in order. I'm not morose, sad or fatalistic....I'm honest. Steve and I both know I will probably die first.

Last year when I was in monitored cardiac rehab (versus maintenance like I am now without a monitor) I met a guy that had a heart attack and stents like me. His wife came with him every session and they would both be dressed in WalMart tan and blue and no, at that point, I had never seen either one of them in WalMart. He was and still is an ill tempered man, she was/is a happy spirit. They attended classes with Steve and me and he balked at every single suggestion, lesson and fact. He was not giving up coffee, was going to eat what he wanted, eventually dropped out of rehab because he was going to buy a bike, and his most ridiculous statement was that he already had a heart attack and why was he taking all of those pills if they weren't going to fix everything.

His wife was the polar opposite saying she would see to it he followed all the rules and was going to buy that bike herself and make him exercise. She was changing her lifestyle and he would too. We talked off and on and I liked her. Of course after he left rehab we saw them all of the time at WalMart; just saw them last Wednesday.

Right around Christmas time we went shopping for last minute dinner things. The wife was at the greeter station sitting on one of those fancy walkers, basket, hand brakes...all the bells and whistles. I went over to talk to her like I always did and asked if she had fallen or broken something. With horribly slurred speech she told me...with a smile....that she had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of ALS, but Walmart was going to keep her employed and working as the official greeter. I was stunned. She was like sunshine in summer. Each time I have seen her after that she has been a little less vocal and always sitting on that walker. But, she still has that radiant smile. We see her husband all of the time too....he is still Grumpy, The Grinch, Mr. Rain Cloud.

Last Friday Steve took me out to a movie and dinner.....senior discount at the movies and Subway for a healthy Februany $5.00 foot long. When we walked in guess who was in a booth.....yup, there they were. We ordered our meal to go....sandwiches only no chips or soda.....and on the way out we stopped to quickly say hello. There was Grumpy tearing small pieces off of her sandwich and putting them in her almost floppy, tremulous fingers so she could chew and swallow easier.....and as we went out the door with the picture of them in my mind I thought....what will Steve do without me. Telepathy. Steve said I know what you are thinking and I don't know how I will manage......and he hugged me.

Did I mention we went to a seminar on Revocable Living Trusts?