Wednesday, July 16, 2014

January 23, 1954 - June 28, 2014

This is the final entry in THE PLOG.  But that doesn't mean it's the last word.  Patricia Jempty, the author who always signed her posts PJ, passed away - peacefully, in her sleep, in hospice - in the early hours of June 28 in Brooklyn, NY.  In the days before, she had been embraced by her friends and her family - her husband Marty, her children Mariel, Mark and Harry.

Her friend Ronni Gordon wrote a lovely tribute to Patricia on her own blog: "She was feisty, funny, smart and compassionate." (You can read it in its entirety here:  http;//  After she fell down at 2 a.m. earlier this year, Patricia assessed the situation thusly: "Lesson learned: no more seltzer in the night."

Patricia had a thing for the color orange long before Netflix decreed it cool; she also liked shoes, and earrings that matched her clothes.  But it is her love for Marty, Mariel, Mark and Harry that was the wellspring of her remarkable spirit and courage.

That love lives on, through her family and her many friends, and through her writing; and because of it, so does she.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Always Bring a Buddhist With You to Long Medical Appointments

Five hours of medical treatment was all we could take. Fortunately it was all in the same place. Miriam,
my yoga teacher, drove. I can't safely do that.

First we saw my primary care physician, who ordered a bunch of tests: EKG, CAT scan with dye and an appointment with a cardiologist.

My EKG was slightly abnormal. The CAT scan  showed no embolism but did pick up a kidney stone and a bit of fluid around the lungs.

I saw Dr. Jaffe the cardiologist and he put me on blood pressure medication, scheduled me for an echo cardiogram and stress test. Stunned, we drove back to Jeffersonville. Miriam picked up my prescription and dropped off the mail. Then she took me home.

All through the day, Miriam kept me focused  on breathing and Buddhist thinking.

Queue  Doris Day: 'Que sera sera, whatever will be will be. The future's not ours to see, que sera sera.' 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

It Can Get Worse

Writing this makes me shake. I was simply taking the two steps into the kitchen using my walker when I slipped and fell on my butt. My center of gravity was low enough that I couldn't get up so I tries crawling to a chair. In hindsight, I should have gone the other way because the phone was nearby.

The major complication was that I have food on the stove and starting to bur. The fire alarm went of and my dog went nuts, stepping on me, mashing me up as a desperately tried to reach the phone. I Inched my way over to where I could pull the phone down, along with other more weighty things. Phone in hand I dialed 911. Four fire vehicles arrived within moments, and started doing their thing, removing the scorched pot, opening windows and removing the smoke detector. One of them turned to me and took my vitals and checked for breaks, bruises and blood. Nothing. Suddenly a woman was holding my hand. I was my neighbor Sue. She stayed until the firefighters and EMT left. The she went a got me some pizza.

It was as bad as it gets.

Bump in the Night

It was dark, about 2 am. I woke up with a hankering for seltzer. I carefully made my way downstairs, made way to the kitchen, and that's when disaster struck. I fell on my butt and couldn't get up. Normally if I'm down, I can get up with a little bit of effort. Not last night, in the dark, in the cold, on the dirty floor.

I was down for 30 minutes, attempting to scootch my way to a spot where I could lift myself up. This was the lowest I'd sank in a while.

Happy ending. I arose from the floor, got my seltzer, walked carefully upstairs, washed off the dirt particles and applied hydrogen peroxide to prevent cellulitis. 

Lesson learned: no more seltzer in the night.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Surviving Leukemia

Beating leukemia to the ground is one thing; surviving the nasty side effects that linger for many years, possibly forever, can be daunting.

I've cataloged my own complaints: destroyed tear glands, three tooth extractions, melanoma surgery on cheek and ankle, leukemia cutis, neuropathy, weakness, loss of most muscle, extreme gvh of the skin and a touch in the liver; psychological issues. Forgive me if I've left anything out.

I have two friends who've made it past the so-called 5-year mark. (I'll be there in 3 months). One friend is suffering the debilitating side effects of prednisone withdrawal. We are as weak as newly born birds. She has gvh of the lungs, which makes it even worse. Another friend has lost 11 teeth to the treatment of the disease and will be getting dentures. She's had cancer of the tongue and mouth. Due to our toxic treatment, we are at risk for secondary cancers.

We manage to live the lives that were given back to us wisely if not as well as we'd like.

Not all leukemia survivors face these issues. Some return to productive lives, which for me would be having a job. Not dying is good.

And then there are several I've known who haven't survived. My heart continues to go out to their families.  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Day at the Docs

I left my house at 9:30 yesterday and returned at 4. No lunch, little water, lots of waiting. My upstate doctor wanted me to have a cbc before my injection because my platelets were low, 90. But yesterday they were 140 so it was a go. A go that chewed up 3 hours.

My primary care physician was willing to see me after that because I have cellulitis in my right hand. I fell again, at the bottom of the subway stairs when I was in NYC last week. I fell on my rear but I did scrape my hand. I have to use Purell more often. So she doubled my bactrim for a week. She asked how often I fell and admitted it was too much. She brought my neurologist in who examined me and wrote a prescription for a cane, the kind that stands up and hopefully keeps me up.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Retail Exhaustion

I've been wanting a new pair of jeans to replace my beloved "Mom" jeans. They fit me so well but had so many holes that even the patching was giving out. I finally tossed them and have been looking for a new pair ever since.

Getting dressed each day is especially difficult for me due to my numerous physical handicaps. Trying on a pile of clothes brings me to the verge of tears.But I had a 30% off coupon and I was going to use it. I tried on 3 pair of jeans, a top and a sweater. 3 out of 5 worked, although the jeans were not perfect. I'll still have to wear a belt. You know how they say orange is this new black? I've been collecting orange clothing since 1970. The orange cardigan sweater goes with the top as well as half of what's in my closet.

I couldn't bring myself to go through all the sales racks. I was hungry, thirsty, and had already made my kill. I left the store on a shopping high but on a wave physical exhaustion. I still had some errands to run so I steeled myself and carried on.

Some of my readers will be very proud of me.