Captivated by the Desert

Captivated by the Desert

We love the changing seasons everywhere, but it’s particularily spectacular in the desert.. Southwest Arizona has gotten more than it’s fair share of rain this “monsoon” season, which will probably yield a gorgeous spring of cactus blooms.

This picture is from Debbie Carlisle – a long-time resident of Quartzsite.


Nike Air Shoe in Death Valley

Do you wonder where the other shoe went?!

This photo was taken in Death Valley and is one of about five “lone shoes” that we ran across . . . who know where the other shoe is?!


Social Security Disability – The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Social Security Disability:  Having a lingering, chronic, and fatal condition that is sometimes categorized as the “walking dead” is a difficult place to be. 

Waking each morning, putting my feet on the floor, I begin to move through the beginning of my day.  In spite of getting a lot of rest over the past 1-1/2 months at my uncle’s beautiful home in the hills of Auburn, California, this morning I awoke exhausted.  Today has been particularly cruddy.  I just have to learn how to be a little more patient, gracious, and good mannered about it all.  Throwing a fit will not fix my illness…so I’ll blog instead.

We’re extremely lucky and grateful to have this respite from the heat of the Arizona summer.  Great Bonus: An opportunity to visit family (who I’m sure are sick and tired of us, but are gracious enough not to tell us!).

Today I am very grateful for social security disability.  Without it, there would be no tomorrow for either of us.  I wonder what would happen if we couldn’t afford to purchase the medicines that we take – the cost with co-pay is approximately $600.00 a month per person.  If we didn’t have insurance, the cost would be almost $4,000.00 a month for both of us.  Crazy, huh?!

After taking my handful of prescription pills, tablets, and liquid tincture of opium in the morning, sometimes I have to point my head towards the toilet bowl.  I don’t drink much ice-water anymore.  Room temperature liquids have more success making it down and staying down

Like most people on Social Security Disability, I miss working.  I enjoyed my work, the long hours, and the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day.  I miss “normality,” strength, pain-free days…the ability to physically and emotionally handle difficulties, solve problems, and all those challenges that we humans meet each day.

Today:   The challenge today is handling U-238 uranium and tungsten heavy metal poisoning that has settled into our bodies.  Most days pass with pain, discomfort, vomiting, diarrhea, and often depression joins the party.

My husband Richard and I are both grateful for days when we can get around without experiencing pain or some sort of weird ailment.

Our Experience with Social Security Disability:  Last year we applied for Social Security Disability.  We were told by many people to expect to be turned down by the social security folks.  We heard many horrible stories about people who were literally on their death bed with no bed who were turned down…

Surprisingly, we both received SS Disability three months after sending in the application paperwork.  I was shocked.  

No way!  I have known people who are barely hanging on a tree limb that is breaking, and they have not received a green-light for receiving Social Security Disability.  

I read this story with sorrow in my heart.

Blatant Commercial!   BTW, we didn’t apply for SS Disability on our own: we obtained the services of David C. Brown.  Although he is located in Utah, he has clients all over the nation, and I’d bet my last dime that you will be treated with respect and excellent service by everyone on his office team… If you want to talk to someone who will tell you the truth and keep their promises to you, this is one attorney who will help you and not empty your pockets – here’s the link to his web site:  

Applying for SSD:   If you are contemplating applying for SSD, don’t try to do it on your own.  Seriously, this is one thing that you need professional help with.

Rejected claims are normal

Get thyself to a lawyer who specializes in getting people their social security benefits

The odds of your claim being rejected the first time through the bowels of the Social Security office are high – it’s rumored that only about 10% of the first claim you send to Social Security are awarded – the remaining 90% of claims are rejected. Get a lawyer that handles this type of work before you even file.

There’s a ton of information on the internet; simply type into your search engine “advice for applying for social security disability,” and do your homework. 

One important note during your application process:  Don’t lie.  This is applicable in everything, but even more so when working with the government, doctors, and attorneys.  And remember, lying includes omissions of information that is pertinent to your situation – there’s no grey here – it’s either black or white and nothing in-between!

I truly believe in the Ten Commandments.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think just about every religion and spiritual belief offers up some good advice about honesty!  Check out Buddhist beliefs . . . they have literally the same beliefs as Christians on how a human should behave.

Fraud:  If a little guy wearing a red-hot Lycra suit armed with the pitchfork hangs out on your shoulder whispering, “Come on…no one will ever know you told a little white lie,” please don’t listen to him; okay?   

Don’t exaggerate or try to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes…you’ll get caught.  The consequences aren’t pretty.

Cleaning windows while on social security disability?  ...not a good idea...

Cleaning windows on a high-rise building while on social security disability? …not the best idea… 🙂

FRAUD is what this is called!  Just so you know what social security fraud is, read this “” explanation

There are a lot of stories and folklore about Aunt Ginnie collecting her deceased husband’s Social Security checks for years before the folks at the Social Security Office wised up.  Yes, that is FRAUD.

I suspect that only lawyers and politicians will escape the penalties for lying!

Just so there’s no doubt in your mind, if you lie (or omit information required) on your application for SSD, the rest of us ‘little people’ will probably have to refund the government all of the ill-gotten money plus interest and fees.

There's no way this orange jumpsuit will look this great on any of us

You and I won’t look this good in orange prisoner jumpsuits!

. . . And, oh horrors, you just may find yourself wearing a very unflattering orange jump-suit with PRISONER stenciled on the back.  Not a pretty picture.

This is how most people look in orange prison jumpsuits!

This is how we’ll really look!

The first social security payment was made in 1937.  What do you want to bet that shortly after that historical event, someone figured out a way to fraudulently steal money from social security funds? 

1937 - First Year of Social Security

1937 – First Year of Social Security.  It didn’t take long for the SS workers desks to get snowed-under with claims from disabled people in the USA.

This meandering tale and observations about Social Security Disability is brought to you on a Friday night; after a difficult week.  So that’s my excuse for not staying “on-point” right now! 

Prescriptions – Friend or Foe?

As my husband and I have been wending our way through this lingering condition of U-238 uranium and tungsten poisoning, the number and strength of medications has been increasing.  Last week we had the worst thing happen to us that could – our prescriptions for the month were way-laid for 1 full week.

I’ll skip the details on how the medication shipment got delayed, but suffice it to say, last week we went through detoxification (obviously un-planned and not controlled).  Detoxification of our systems for seven days had us literally physically jerking every limb day and night, throwing up, and all the basic ingredients that every addict fears the most. 

Because the poisoning that we have is so heavy (trust me: uranium is the heaviest heavy metal out there), no cure is available.  Chelation won’t touch this poison.  Surgery won’t work – unless we wanted to have every single organ in our body transplanted (I understand this has been done before, but the chances of survival are about 3%-we think those are lousy odds).

So, today we drink tincture of opium, take about 4 different pain pills, and add in valium….oh, almost forgot: I use a 100 mg morphine patch too. 

Going cold turkey:  Let me assure you that it’s an experience that is uniquely wicked. And, I don’t mean “wicked good.”  Your entire body including all hair folicles and fingernails hurts like hell.  You vomit constantly, and then you lose everything out the other end too.  During detoxification your skin goes from clammy warm to freezing goosebumps alternating every 10 minutes or so.  You cannot sleep, and you long for death. 

I found myself dropped to the floor on my knees praying, “Oh God, just kill me now and get this over with.”

Well, since you’re reading this blog, you know that He didn’t provide that option to me as an answer 🙂  Both of us made it through 7 long days without our medications.  I’m pleased to have a bit more time inspite of how I felt all week. 

Bottom line for us is that although we wish we didn’t have to take drugs, we must if we want to continue living.  If we stop, we will be stopped . . . permanently.

I am completely amazed at how much humans desire to live!  We fight for our lives even when we know that the final conclusion will be death.  No matter how jaded, cynical, angry, or pessimistic we may be: Life Is Important.

There are other important issues: Quality of life and finding a dignity as we die. Unfortunately in the United States of America and most all countries, the dying are not provided a dignifed, comfortable, and painless way to die.  Suicide for terminally ill patients is unlawful (except Oregon – and there are so many restrictions there, that I would advise you not to pack your bags and get right over there…). 

Richard and I have gone full circle on the subject of the right to die.  We firmly believe the laws must be changed to protect people such as ourselves.  We should have a say over our bodies and life.  We must.  Because by not having a right to say when and how I will die from a debilitating condition, the government basically OWNS me. 

There are a few exceptional events in our life where I don’t want the government involved, and the right to die is one.

Going back to being without our medicines for one week for a moment of reflection: It was hell.  But, I found that I have an incredibly strong desire to stay alive through it all.   We humans can take a lot of battering and pain for just one deep breath of air.

Saturday Morning Musing

Saturday Morning Musings…

Curiosity and interest.  Most of us desire to see things not previously seen – do something we haven’t done before-experience something new. 

Life is filled with exceptional experiences.   Unfortunately as time has gone by, we get jaded…curiosity is replaced with exhaustion, interest is replaced with disappointment. 

I’ve learned that so many, many psychological things happen to us when facing a serious illness.  Even worse, I’ve discovered a lethargy that I never expected. (Albeit, much of that lethargy can be attributed to the poisoning and the many medications that we have been taking for the past few years.)

Regardless, if we have a serious, deadly, or chronic disease, we do become different.  Our minds and emotions change – often because of the drugs taken that are necessary to keep us alive and breathing.  And, yes the pain of the disease or condition that we carry with us every day.

 “Better living through chemistry.”  REALLY? 

 Each day we take our pills and liquid tincture of opium.  And, each day we feel the effects of the disease as it moves through our bodies…pushing and pulling…every day wishing to have a happier frame of mind.

 I’d love to wish upon a falling star and have that wish come true!


Falling Stars are a Promise for Tomorrow's Happiness

Falling Stars Come in All Sorts of Shapes!

According to some writers who are care keepers or hospice helpers for dying patients believe that as you prepare to die, patients usually conduct a ‘Life Review.’  I believe that to be true.  If you aren’t hit by a Mack truck and die instantly, but instead face a lingering and painful process of dying…you sift through the past events in your life and evaluate yourself, others, and your life experiences.

It just makes sense to review the past.  I know that I have spent a lot of time going over my past, asking some important questions of myself, “did I do the right thing?,” “did I treat people with respect?,”  “did I give 100%?,” “did I act in an honorable way through my life?”  Those are just a few questions I have to ask myself.

Many nights I awaken with fear and feelings of helplessness.  I hear that’s also to be expected.  I would like to spend more time in the happiness zone.  Being a worry-wart isn’t going to help me at all.

Dying was never on my Top Ten of Desires.  In fact, thinking about it, I believe that I devoted less than 1% of my waking hours in thinking about death until we discovered that we have radiation (U-238 and tungsten poisoning).

falling stars come in all sorts of shapes!

I was busy wishing on falling stars and grabbing those beautiful stars with both hands for over 50 years. 

How blessed I have been . . . I have beat back death on several occasions and have had a life filled with travel, love of a caring man, and more “stuff” than I ever needed.  At the end of the day I value the love of family and friends more than anything.  The junk that I collected through the years is almost gone (good riddance!).

The one major concern I have as “ye ole’ grim reaper”  approaches:  I have lost my curiosity and interest.   I don’t crochet, am a crummy “craft person,” and just can’t figure out how to rejuvenate my curiosity and interest.

 Got any ideas?  I’d be pleased to entertain any concepts.

Much love and friendship to those whom I know and am very grateful.  Without friends and family, our lives would be quite different.  (Perhaps sometimes they could try creating a little less stress – but they usually mean the best – right!)

Happy weekend.


Patti – back when working was one of my favorite things to do (note: I said “ONE!”)

Love – Patti – on a good day!


Thelma & Louise aka Thelma & Louis

Soaring Over Lake Tahoe

Soaring Over Lake Tahoe on the most beautiful day possible!


Remember Thelma and Louise?   We took a scene out of that movie, and yesterday, at the spur of the moment, took a soaring trip over Lake Tahoe.  What an exciting and knock-out gorgeous trip we had. 

We scrunched up together in the back seat behind a wonderful pilot, and off we went from the Truckee airport…At 11,000 feet the plane towing our glider dropped the tow line and off we soared up and over breathtaking views of the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe and the beachfronts of the lake.

This was the coolest thing ever!  GO if you ever have the chance to do this for yourself. 

We figured that taking a glider ride over the most impressive northern California mountains, trees, lakes, and reservoirs was worth a shot.  Oh, yes, it was!  We grinned and laughed like a couple of little kids at Disneyland. 

You know…what we saw was spectacular Mother Nature in all it’s beauty.  After grinning – we both welled up with a few emotional tears…so grateful that we shared this adventure together – knowing that throughout our lives together, it has been one long non-stop adventurous experience.  We are grateful.  We feel honored to have been able to meet the terrific people we have, make friends with people from all around the world – from Bali, Indonesia to Andros Island, Bahamas. 

Flying towards the east bank of Lake Tahoe

View at about 6,000 ft. in elevation as we were flying towards Lake Tahoe

We’ve been watching our health deteriorate rapidly in the past month.  We miss being “normal;” whatever that could be…Taking this glider ride was a reminder that there are experiences still out there, and we will not just sit here feeling sorry for ourselves.  Viva life!

Yes, lately things have been sucking wind in some important departments of our lives.  Increased side effects from opiates and pain killers.  Pain killers that don’t work. 

We know that whatever we do these days will most likely be the last time that we do “that.”

But, darn it all to heck. . .we are still breathing, and we’ll do what we can to continue (but still maintain that DNR in our charts and in our wills).  While we are able to move around, we want to stay LIVING, which includes doing things that make us smile and keep a feeling of love and excitement together.

After our awe-inspiring soaring trip, we drove back to the town of Truckee and found a scrumptious restaurant/bar to see what other great things we could do to make our day complete.  We didn’t get too far walking the little “old town” there at Truckee before finding a fun restaurant with side-walk seating.  Fabulous day in all respects…

We are both ‘oh so’ grateful that we had the opportunity to add yet another adventure to our list of “mission accomplished” items!

Soaring over Lake Tahoe

Soaring isn’t just for the birds!

Sometimes, even when you know that you can’t afford to do something, you just have to do it anyway.  …particuarly when you remember the experience you have (in our case – gliding over the most gorgeous country on the west coast of the United States)  is a treasure of love and a knock-out memory between you and your love!

There are some very special people who made this trip possible for us.  You know who you are!  THANK YOU K and M – for your caring and love to us.