The L.A. Report Part 10

10-16-2003

 

Hey Everybody,

 

This installment of the L.A. Report doesn't have any entertainment news in it.  I've been concentrating on my "real" job lately.

 

My job at Unitrin, Inc. was supposed to have gone away by now but they're behind schedule converting everything over from the mainframe to their midrange system.  If I were a bettin' man (and I am), I would predict they'll keep us around until at least next summer.  And I'm still liking it there a lot.  My co-workers are just so great - they're co-operative, competent, friendly, personable, hard-working, fun, etc.  Best bunch I've ever worked with.  My manager is great, too, although the next layer of management in Dallas . . . . .  Well, I'd better keep my mouth shut.

 

I told many of you about Casper.  For those of you I didn't, here's the story:

One night in late May, he was acting very lethargic, so I took him to an emergency vet.  They found that he, like Spooky, had diabetes.  When they tried to re-hydrate him, the fluid went to his lungs.  When they x-rayed his chest they found out that his lungs were about half-full of fluid and he also had an enlarged heart!  They put him on antibiotics and put him in an oxygen tent for a few days.  He looked terrible.  He was having such a hard time breathing he had his mouth permanently agape and he would have to gulp in every breath.  I thought for sure he was a goner.  But miraculously, he recovered and they sent him home after being in the hospital for about a week.  When he got home he wouldn't eat so my other vet gave me some things to force feed him.  I was terrible at it so I boarded him there so the vet techs could force feed him.  I brought him home after a week there and he still wouldn't eat.

 

Over the next several weeks he got skinnier and skinnier.  He was a mere skeleton; you could not only feel his bones, you could feel how sharp his bones were!  I took him to the vet again and they gave me prednisone, an i.v. bag and more things to try to feed him.  They also discovered that his liver was in terrible shape so they wanted me to bring him in for an ultrasound in 5 days (they only do their ultrasounds on Wednesdays).

 

When I brought him in for that they said they also wanted to do an FNA (Fine Needle Aspirate, similar to a biopsy) but they wouldn't get the results for a few days.  I said I didn't think he would live a few more days because he had gotten so weak he could barely walk.  I decided that any treatment they might be able to do for his liver would be a long shot at best, given his diabetes and heart disease.

 

So I had him put to sleep.  I will miss him but I'm relieved that he won't suffer any longer.

 

Remember how I complained in my last L.A. Report about my lack of energy, particularly during my runs?  I've also had a very slight problem with enunciation, slight dizziness and lightheadedness from time-to-time and my eyes were doing a weird jittery thing when I would pan them all the way to the left.  So I thought, again, that something just isn't right somewhere.  My general practitioner at Kaiser Permanente (my HMO) didn't see anything glaringly obvious but gave me a referral to one of their neurologists.  The neurologist also didn't see anything obvious but enough to warrant an MRI.  I had the MRI on August 30th and, indeed, it was definitely abnormal.

 

They did some blood tests to rule out Lyme's disease and HIV and ordered a spinal tap (a.k.a. lumbar puncture).  I'll spare you the details of the complications I had (many of you already know).  Suffice it to say I missed two days of work (bringing my life-total to five) and two weeks of running.  But the test results confirmed my hunch:  I have Multiple Sclerosis.

 

If I thought I would end up in a wheelchair, I would be freaking out.  But my symptoms are so very slight and appeared so late in life (age 45) that I think I must have a very mild form of it.  So I'm not very concerned at this point.  I'm meeting with an MS specialist in two weeks for a second opinion - not that I doubt the diagnosis but more to get her prognosis and discuss my treatment options.  All four of the main drugs are injected; there aren't any in pill form.  I'm not looking forward to that; I already feel like a pincushion, I've been stuck with so many needles the past three weeks!

 

For me, bad luck usually goes in threes.  This year was no exception.  First, Kathy broke up with me.  Second, Casper died.  I was expecting a third thing; I just didn't know it would be as serious as MS!

 

But my bad luck is usually followed by good luck so I'm optimistic about the near future.  Hopefully, I'll have some good news in my next L.A. Report.

 

I'm planning to come back to Minnesota and Wisconsin for Thanksgiving so I hope to see you then.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jay

 

P.S.  Can you believe California just elected Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor???  I just moved from a state with a governor who was a macho entertainer!