Sunday, October 5, 2014

Meet my Ancestors: Grandma and Grandpap had off-the-charts blood pressure and a blinding headache. Both had strokes.

Anna Wisniewski and Walter Szczekocki

Grandma and Grandpap Szczekocki died of a stroke, respectively, 64 and 72. They are obese people, with lard, butterfat; essential dumplings, with astronomically high blood pressure and blindly, sufferably headaches. Conversely, I too had a stroke. I was fit, extremely (68/50) low pressure and absolutely no headache.  (Read: Mercury Fillings, please.)

Grandma and Pap Yezek were healthy as horses. They were farmers. Pap was 78.  I have knowledge about Grandma. Anna Hribal Yezek raised chickens and never spoke to me. It’s a long story. Two women, Grandma and Mom, fought constantly.

My mom, Jo, was plethora for cerebral vascular accidents, although Mom died of an aneurysm.  She's 72.  Grandma's family history, the Anna Wisniewski Szczekocki clan, died from a stroke. Grandma had five sisters; all had strokes, Mary, Gertie, Frances enlisted with Women's Army Corps (WAC) in Chicago and Helen owned a beer distributor. 

They died very, very young. Grandma had a sister from the convent, Sister Teonesta, praying fervently at the contra-cerebral vascular accident. Sister had a stroke as well. They are obese people

My dad Charlie and his brothers died of old, decrepit, age. The daughter, Eleanor, is 95-plus, living and well. Dad died of Alzheimer's. He was 87.

You pick. I had a massive, blown, left middle cerebral artery, with an acute infarct. The infarct is the loss of adequate blood supply.

I was dead, essentially, at 52.

Meet my Ancestors, a long time ago....

"Tsk." she muttered. 

She flung the tomato juice, milk and Sunkist oranges for $.49 cents. Grandpap wanted coffee, too.

"Such high prices," talking to herself.  She continued to shop and just for fun,  Kraft Carmels.  Grandma had a sweet fang.

Marion Market's was busy Saturday mornings; a sunny, spring April day.  
She checked out. The supermarket had two women on cash registerers, busy sorting the produce, 15 minutes from her house. Two shopping bags to distributed the load, arm to arm, she walked to the Post Office.  She'd run out of  $.04 stamps.  That done; home.
Everson, Pennsylvania is extremely hilly and uphill.  It's a village of Polish Catholics, everybody knows everybody and Fayette County population is about 1000, more or less.  
Grandma walked briskly.  Well, not briskly.  Grandma is hefty.  She walked uphill to St. Joseph's church, up yet still on Maple Street, huffing and puffing and markedly short of breath.  She opened the door, exhausted.  The bun on the nape of her neck was soaked with sweat. She heaved to catch her breath. The mouth was drooping, just a little, she had a headache. Anna died in the living room. The family doctor, Dr. Pisula, and came running. But Grandma was still.
"Anna had a stroke mercifully fast," he said, "there's nothing I can to. I'm sorry. She's dead." 
The doctor packed his stethoscope and little black bag and left.  
She hated doctors and pills, hence, the physicians told her about hypertensive drugs. All the time.
Coincidentally, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died of massive cerebral hemorrhage, April 12, 1945.  I'm a useless factoid.
Grandma did the same, April 12, 1958.  Grandma is 63.  I was 10.

Anna, recently deceased, and Walter Szczekocki, owns the house on Maple Street.  Kitty Mae and Jess Johnson were married and lived in the house.  Mary Ann and Billy were siblings.  The older children have married, Louie, Chester and Jo.   Kitty Mae and Jess produced a son, William Walter Johnson, aged 5.  Mary Ann was engaged and Billy is in high school.  It's a compact house for the family and there's an out-house with kinfolk.
Mary Ann Sczcekocki Knipple
Pap is distraught, to be sure, and crying.  "Go call Jo," he ordered.  Kitty Mae dialed the number, for the elder sister. 
I answered  the phone.  Clearly, something was wrong.  Aunt Kitty Mae was wailing.
"Where's your Mother?" she said, sobbing.
"Here. Wait a minute. It's Aunt Kitty Mae." I passed the phone to Mother, "She's crying."
"What's wrong?" said she to Mae.
Marions Market.  Shopping bags.  Soaked with sweat.  The doctor came and went.  Mum was gone.  Mum had a stroke.  End of story.

Louie (brother's Mom) Szczekocki and Helen Gismondi

I was an only child of Josephine and Charles Yezek.  Jo died of a whopping aneurysm and Charlie died of old age.  My mom is borderline-agoraphobia and my dad is amiable drunkard and he never missed a day's work.  A weird family, but I loved my parents. Charlie's a plumber and the pick-up truck full of parts and spigots and fittings and debris clutters the seats.  Dad is disheveled and looks like an unmade bed, but he is quite smart.  He had a scruffy baseball cap, grimy hands and watches boxing and works at Westinghouse a long time ago. Dad is his own boss. 
Mom called Dad. My Mom and I squeezed into the truck, flanges and all. My mom never owned a car. Well, she had a permit, sort of.  She had a crash in Bridgeport Dam, another booming metropolis, in her 20's. Two cars and a fender-bender; she tore up the permit.
"I'll walk,"  she noted.  Dad was with at the time and the car was fine, damaged, but fine. She never drove.
Grandma never liked Mother, sad but true, and Mom couldn't care less. My aunts were sobbing and mounds of Kleenex tissues were wet and soggy. Mom, however, nary a tear.
"I'm sorry, Pap," she embraced Grandpap.
The undertaker came and went and the body was embalmed.

Grandma died at home and the coffin laid in the living room.  All sorts of company came, from the inebriated men to the women making kieska, kielbasa, duck soup dziczyzna, my personal favorite, pierogi, laden with lard.  The camaraderie came non-stop for three days; the women prayed the rosary and the men were imbibing.
The day of  Grandma's funeral, Mom was late.  Exceeding late.  One hour late.  The sisters glared and Grandpap scowled.  Mom was undaunted, with Arpege perfume, red-red lipstick and seamed stockings just so.
Two years passed, Grandpap had a stroke. Dziczyzna, keiska and all matters of cholesterol took their toll.

Me and Charlie
 I remember Grandpap. My hair was short and Buster Brownish and he called me Mimsy.  He spread his arms around me and grinned.
"Hi Grandpap," with a hug.  
I remember a white shirt and tie, never smoked and he brushed his teeth with salt.  He had sparkly teeth.  I was four and he was gigantic.  I found out later Grandpap was miniscule person, perhaps 5'7".  Even Dad the plumber was a munchikin .  Even my first ex-ex-ex-husband was 5'7", the misanthrope womanizer.  Yes, a contradiction in terms.
Kitty Mae was kind, long-suffering and loves the church and the crisp, clean almost-virginal linen.  She's was always ironing for the church.  Men-folk abound with Grandpap, Jess, Little Billy and sibling Bill.  Mary Ann Szczekocki and Knip Knipple were married by now.  Knip was deranged in a good way.  Jess was a loving husband and ten years senior.  Kitty Mae was wildly hypertensive.
Every day before breakfast, Mae took the coffee and buttered toast with home-made preserves, out on the rear porch to feeding the birds.  Chickadees, bluejays and cardinals scarfed down crumbs and bits of toasts. The birds ate from the plate.
Sister Teonesta
Pap was 68 and had a mild stroke, then suffered two strokes. He's quasi-bedridden and he's falling down over the bed, to the floor.  Apparently, the paralyzed side, the arm and leg, were dead.
"Mae," said Jess, "it's Pap,"  Grandpap fell to the floor with thud.
"You can't walk, Pap," she explained.  Jess and Kitty Mae pulled him up.
Grandpap was mute and discouraged.      
Kitty Mae bathed him, fed him, encouraged him and he died in his sleep.
Grandma and Grandpap was buried from the house from the living room, respectively, 1958 and 1962.  It was a full-blown, three-day, bells and whistles wake.
Grandpap looked good for 70 years, white shirt and all.  Legions of men came to the Polish Club to give respect and the women baked delicious dishes.
"Na zdrowie," the men toasted.
The undertakers, however, halted the viewers.
"It's leaking fluids," said the afresh dead body.
"Here.  The eyes and the ears," squinting at the ooze. "It's overflowing."
"Well, that's not good," said the embalmer.  "Pump it out?"
"Pump it out."
The decay fluids were leaking badly.  I peeked through the keyhole on the door of the living room.  Out of the coffin he went, to the floor.  The undertakers manipulated the pump.  I don't want to think about it.
Mom's affliction with agoraphobia, coincidentally, buried Grandpap.  She never left the house.  I was a teen-ager.

The cemetery was peaceful, calm and serene and Anna and Walter left us.  

Josephine and Mickie Yezek

Grandma had a sister, Mary Somerfield, and she had a premonition, Mom told me.  Mary had a booming voice and she smiled all the time, toothless, I'm afraid.  She was rotund, never had a bra on and the paczki doughnuts were rich and heavy.
Mary had a son, Bobby.  "I don't know why I'm baking a cake so soon," said Mary telephoning Mom. "The birthday is next week," she noted. "Well, you never know."  
Mary died Wednesday, December 16, 1958 of a stroke and his birthday is in December.  She's 51.
Bobby Somerfield ate his cake silently.  He was obese and weeping.  Mary iced the two-layer cake in absentia, clearly gone and clairvoyant.
Years later, the house was quiet. Jess had a supervisor job with Anchor Hocking Glassware, Kitty Mae had copious ironing from the church and Bill the Sibling was a mechanic for small planes.

Billy Johnson was grand champion of divorce and three-times loser of wives. He's moved out, of course.  He had a pre-op for his knee surgery and had a sky-high-off-the-charts blood pressure.  He's taking antihypertensives.

Bill "Murphy" Johnson

Aunt Mary Ann, Knip, Jess and Kitty Mae were vacationing at Ocean City Maryland.  Well-rested and tan, Knip and Jess checked out.  Kitty Mae was going to the bathroom.  
"What's taking so long?" said Mary Ann.
"Mae?" said Jess.  "Are you OK?"
Jess opened the door in the bathroom and here she was, moribund, and quite dead.  She had a stroke.
Kitty Mae refused to talk about the stroke. She had small strokes.  Mae walked with cane and almost-mute characteristics.  She had a "yes" or "no" utterance, at best.  My mom's funeral two years ago, Kitty Mae couldn't speak at all.
Uncle Jess died of lung cancer. 
The doctors prescribed antihypertensives, unlike Grandma.  She's 59.
Chalmer "Knip" Knipple and Billy Szczekocki
Anna and Frank Yezek were farmers and "Pap" and the boys were coal miners.  Acre's and acre's of tillage, from cows and chickens and porky swines. The stint in this farm are brief and remote.  I remembered fireflies, lots of cats and mice, and sweet acrid odor of manure.
Anna Yezek was dynamic. Grandma had five boys, Dad was one of them, and the sixth baby daughter Eleanor, at least 90, last I heard. The sons were active and vital till death, to the exception of Mick with a heart problem. My Dad was 87 and he couldn't let go, kicking and screaming till the last.  Charley finally succumbed.  He had Alzheimer's.
Milton Yezek, the fifth baby, worked for General Foods in Connecticut and the brothers worked in a coal mine, coughing up dust. Uncle Milt graduated from Penn State University and got the hell out of Dodge. He scraped up the tuition and bought a life. The little I saw, Uncle Milt was kind, empathic and harvesting fresh produce from the garden. Milton was a farmer at heart. He's dead.

GG Mary Hribal Beran, Me, Charlie
Charley had a brief stint in higher learning as well.  Westinghouse picked up the   tab bachelor's degree, unheard of a company-based tuition-assistanced in the 1940's.  Dad was brainy. He discussed with Jo, the rigors of night school three times a week for six years, albeit  a sheepskin; he chose no, and left Westinghouse.
Mom and Grandma didn't like each other, heinous comes to mind; stormy, infuriated and, well, insane.
Anna and Jo were fighting vehemently about nothing. Mom left the farmhouse with a huff, kid in tow and sheepishly Dad fired the pick-up truck, full of parts and plumbing supplies. Grandma was smirking and Dad was in the middle once more.  Fierce Mom and fiercer Grandma.  Not good, not good at all.  I'm probably seven.  My Mom left the farm, never to return.

I don't know the family or Pap or kids or the autocratic Grandma.  
My Mom's brood was plethora for cerebral vascular accidents and my Dad and his uncles died of old age.
You pick.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Percy Killed a Rat


“You’re free!”

Izzy and Percy catapulted just like a slingshot, out the door, sniffing everything from raccoons, skunks and, yes, deer, to the fresh air.

They are shelter dogs. Izzy is four years old, small, a little rotund, bared her teeth for food, toys and varmints (although she never bites). She’s mixed-breed. Percy is a joy. Eager to please, follows me everywhere and he is dachshund. He is long-bodied, extremely short; a “badger dog”, the heavily-built weasel family. He’s two years old and he likes puppyhood. He digs frantically in the yard, just because.

I had a stroke 15 years ago. I’m extremely careful about, well…everything. Four falls (Help…I can’t get up!) and I learned; slow and easy. The right arm and leg are tingly (well, dead I guess) and walk with a cane. The two pet doors, front and rear, are barricaded from forest creatures. I opened the roadblock and the dogs are free to roam, in the house and the yard. I live in the Laurel mountains in Pennsylvania.

I peeked outside the window, the dogs are fighting over a huge rodent, recently dead. He won. Percy bounded up the steps, and Izzy followed suit. In the house, Percy presented a moribund creature. The rat was enormous and he was proud. Izzy looked on, the hackles on her neck are showing and the ridged four paws were ready, pouncing.

“Izzy, stop!”, I warned. She stopped, disappointed.

The red shag rug in the front of woodstove, 4 x 6, had an assortment of toys; the hedgehog, the fuzzy fuchsia ball, the overstuffed bone and there, strewn about, a dead rat. Delighted and pleased, Percy is happy.

I took the WalMart bag and deposited the fur-bound creature. Bounty paper towels and one-gloved left hand, I dumped, secured it, and in to the garbage.

Percy is intimidated and never deterred.

Rats await. He’s a badger, sort of.
Fur-bound Creature, Dead

Monday, June 10, 2013

I Dreamt of a Car. Then a stroke happened. I lived in my car, Doritos strewn about and numerous Coke cans.

I wish....nice!

It's morning.

Blearily eyed, I turned on the light for my aspirin and metoprolol (Lopressor) and the ever-present water. On the night stand, I gulp it down.

Before the stroke, I was a supervisor for Chrysler Motors, Sterling Heights Assembly Plant in the '80's.  I was exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. I loved the body shop. The plant is a swiss watch, something is always going on, somewhere. I worked the Sundance and Shadow line.

I lived in my car, Doritos strewn about; numerous Coke cans; just-in-case items of toothbrush, deodorant, change of clothes (Snowed in...Michigan winters) for the plant; caked eyeliner brushes from a distant memory; my stuff.

Fifteen years ago, 1999, I had a monumental stroke. I'm 68 and it's 2016; it's an ischemic stroke. I dreamt of a car, whizzing by, not a care in the world, gas pedal floored and eating a Taco Bell (extra-hot). The windshield wipers, the  turn signals, the rear-view mirrors (although, it's all's knows;  the garbage cans, the bike, the little tot, programmed to stop the car), and the ever-present radio, all of a sudden are confusing. What about the other guy?

The reflexes are not good.

For instance, the aspirin, Lopressor and the water in the morning. The screw-on (it's tiny) water bottle, generic aspirin (it's pop-top) and metoprolol "to open push down and turn" are pretty easy. But is it? It's the lids. I get foggy about the lids. Just for a brief moment, a nanosecond, I'm concentrating. Which is which? I close the lids. Yes, my brain is fried. I'm little aphasic, too. Well, a lot.

Ditto for:

I have Anita for everything; for shopping, dog walking, vacuuming and other things.  Agency on Aging with the conjunction of Twin Oaks in Hopwood, PA, one day a week. I depend on the provider. For example, lugging bird seed and an enormous bag of kibble for the dogs, Izzy and Percy. One-hand ain't good.

I shower and shave my legs and towel-dry...every time without fail (the caregivers knows's a joke) "Can I shave my legs, please?" 

"No...your arm pits", Anita, the caregiver, noted. "Pits, pits, pits!"  She lathered and shaved and clean-shaved arm pits. In my mind, legs, not arm pits. The stroke wired me. Concentration: legs and arms. I'll get it right.

Turn right or left; I forgot peanuts for the birds, trudged back; the ceiling fan...which is it?  The ceiling fan or the ceiling light switch?  I devised a plan. The short ceiling fan and the long light switch. And the remote TV? The Exit button and the Mute button; get it wrong every time...time after time after time. I know the exit button and the mute button. The word indicates exit and mute. Duh.

The reflexes are a dollar short, needless to say.

So the car is out. The rear back up camera, power locks and mirrors and fog lamps is no more. I love my quasi-car, but what about the other guy; God-forbid the rug-rat kiddos.


Percy and Izzy

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I have an appointment for Botox on July 9, 2013. Yay.

I have an appointment on July 9, 2013 for Botox.  Just the right hand.  My leg has flexion, but it's too far gone. It's 13 years.  I have my WalkAide, four-pronged cane and I walk a lot. Two out of one ain't bad. I have flexion in my hand, just a little bit. No claw-hand, it bends and it's loose. The fingers are not rigid.

Dr. Marti Haykin fired some questions at me; the date and time and place. It's hard to think sometimes but I responded. The doctor had a bag of tricks, "and, if and but", it's hard as hell (pardon me).  I can't do this...I have a brain freeze.  The brain catches up, but, the thought process is skewed.  Stroke survivors? You know what I'm talking about. I'm little bit aphasic.  Well, a lot.

Good news, though. I breezed threw with flying colors, "and, if and but", with no problem at all. I'm a overachiever, have to, have to, have to do it.  In the comfort of my home, unconstrained, the words come. I'm excited, anticipation, you know?

The stethoscope revealed funky arteries in the neck, on my left side. I related Dr. William Weisel, family practice, noted obscure arteries for long, long time, faint arteries. I went to the hospital in Oct. '09 for a (magnetic resonance imaging) MRI and checked out fine, completely negative.  Ditto for the Doppler carotid in Oct., 2012, negative. In my opinion, (my humble opinion) look to the source of the problem. Is it the brain (Yikes.) or more? I dunno.

On a lighter note, I invested in a Mac Pro, Time Capsule and Pages. Now it's the hard part...I have no idea what I'm doing.  I have no back-up system and that's frightening. Pages is a plus. I'm a writer sort of; a poor writer, and I keep pluggin' away. MacBook is ancient, '08? Something is wrong with the Mail and Safari (internet).

Baby steps.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Take Two Botox and Call Me in the Morning. My claw-arm and my right knee are dead in the water, although WalkAide helps. I had a catastrophic massive stroke 13 years ago. Go figure.

I need Botox. Now.

My claw-arm and my right knee are dead in the water, although WalkAide helps. The peroneal nerve lifts the foot electronically. It's a cattle prod, essentially. The left hand does everything from cooking froot loops and deep-friedTwinkies and to open the mail for snarky politicians, one-handed yet. The left appendage goes for wood in the garage. I'm an excellent woodburner-fire-builder, again one-hand. My right-hand sits there, confused.

The right hand and foot has feeling. My fingers work, minimally. My brain knows fore and aft, back and forth; my hand has flexion. Ditto for my leg.  Watch the video.  Botox relaxes the muscles. A mini-Baclofen; simplistic I know, but you get the drift.

I'm 65, I had a catastrophic massive stroke 13 years ago. Aphasic and mute, my blood pressure was 68/23, my right arm and leg were non-existent and basically I didn't know my name. Not good. On Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 1999 in Allegheny General Hospital at Pittsburgh, I lay in supraventricular tachycardia as fast as 220 beats per minute and a stroke to boot. I believe it's mercury fillings, but that's a another story.

The doctors shipped me off to Allegheny General via Frick Hospital (Excela).  At the time of transfer, I took, among others, low-dose Dopamine. Dopamine controls the brain's reward and pleasures center, I took an IV Levaquin to fight bacterial the body and, hey, where's the heparin for thinning the blood? Nary a warfarin. And the blood pressure medications? Where is it? Mighty strange. But I'm no doctor.

In retrospect, Frick's OK. A stroke is a stroke is a stroke. Nothing changes that; it's done. Doom. My son, Jeffrey, transferred to Pittsburgh. He meant well, but I couldn't speak at all in Frick. Nada, nyet, tout. Frightening.

Before the stroke I ran, a non-smoker, I was a drinker (Chivas Regal and Absolut) and I detested medication. After the accident, a myriad of drugs existed from aspirin, Lopressor, Calan, the insidous warfarin (I'm off that), simivastatin (I'm off that) and a host meds.  Simivastatin (Zocor-cholesterol) makes me crazy...funky joint pains in my calf muscles and a general feeling of weakness. Side effects. My cholesterol is 275. No processed's Franken-food. (I'm kidding about loops and Twinkies.)

Today, I take aspirin (81 mg.), metaprolol (Lopressor), 25 mg. in the morning and evening, vitamin D-3 1000 mg, krill oil 300 mg, and Chlorella. It's a micro-algae for mercury.

I'm tired of my left hand and leg. Crib notes at the ready, I'm calling the neurologist. I'm a little bit aphasic, well, a lot aphasic. Crib notes are handy for words, phrases and sentences. After the stroke I was a blank slate, a one-word answers. For example: food, bathroom, mail, TV, etc. Slowly but surely I graduated to sentences. Hence, I have crib notes, a "coach", me, extracting words. Kind of a script. In the evening, when I'm tired, a revert back to the blank slate. Lights on, but nobody's home. Without question, I'm aphasic.

"I'm Mickie Roller. I want Botox."  The crib notes are succinct and effective; a script.

Louis W. Catalano, MD is an neurologist in Greensburg, PA and the three physicians, a man and two women, comprised the Neurological Institute of Western Pennsylvania. I had an appointment for May 29, 2013 at 2:00 PM, my doctor is Marti Haykin, MD.  She's board-certified in Neurology by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

The manager informed me the package of information, the social security, where I live, and most important, the insurance. I have Keystone Blue and Medicare.  Medicare is murky, Medicare doesn't cover Botox. For example, hypothetically, I'm 30 years old. Keystone Blue covers Botox. Whoopie. End of story.

I'm 65. Medicare serves as an umbrella, a filter, as it were; bed pans, walkers, blood tests, specifically, Botox is not covered. Keystone Blue, in conjunction with Medicare, is not covered. Keystone Blue supersedes Medicare. I told you it's obscure. Ah, Medicare.

I called Botox. The Botox patient assistance program helps financially eligible patients receive the Botox treatment they need.  (1-800-44-BOTOX, Option 4, Mon.-Fri. 9 am to 8 pm ET) I looked on the internet; probably $1500 +/-.

Stay tuned for May 29 I'm ready. I'm excited.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mercury fillings takes over you, little by little. Mad hatter disease. Suddenly, it's here, without warning.

Enter Mad-Hatter disease.

The hallucination becomes real. It's frightening. It's skewed logic.

It's 1999 and strange things are happening. To the Sears card, the IRS, and poor ex-husband Dur and the "faggot" incident, something is brewing. But what? 

I was a reporter for The Daily Courier and the Trib in a former life, before the stroke. Five editorial members trekked upstairs to solve the problems...local editoral pieces; school board, low water pressure and ever-present sewage.

I'm making conversation about a gay guy in Mt. Pleasant, a "faggot".

"What a faggot," I exclaimed. Who said that? Me?

 A faggot? It's an pejorative. Where did it come from? In my brain? How in God's name? I like gay guys; they're neat, intellectual and empathic. ("Not that there is anything wrong with that...",I love Seinfeld)  I'm a right-wing liberal; a tree-hugging, save the owls and my philosophy is let and let live. My cohorts are amazed and rolling their eyes. I'm throughly confused. My brain is confused. It's the mercury fillings?

It's a late-spring evening and the tomatoes, zucchini and the peppers are doing quite well. The picnic table's octagon and Dur and I are conversing. The ladybugs, crickets and even the mosquitoes seemed to say it's spring. All of sudden, I blew up. (See? No rhyme or reason.)

I proceeded to tell Dur your daughter and husband were infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan; yes, big hoods, crossings ablaze and chic, polyester, robes. Indeed, I was whacked. Paranoid thoughts? He was dumbfounded. They never heard of KKK, last he heard. Durene was a legal secretary and Bob works in the auto industry, both from Michigan. Nice, nice people. It's the mercury fillings.

The bank called with a courtesy call. I'm underfunded. I wrote a check for Sears to the tune of $250. Somehow, I transposed the two-fifty for Sears for $60 dollars. Sad, but true. I called Dad immediately, explained the situation and Dad loaned the money to the bank. Good ol' Dad. How did I miss that?

The same as the Internal Revenue Service. I transposed the numbers for a $100 dollars, to $200 at tax time. The IRS called me. The IRS, by the way, couldn't be nicer. How did I miss that?

I fixed the checkbook.

Dur was gone June 1999. He fixed a tumbler Chivas Regal, packed his guns (Dur was a hunter) and off he went to wilds of Michigan. He fired up the Ram pick-up-truck and he never looked back. Wise man. Of course he died, clutching his chest, in 2007. 

Meanwhile, I had a catastrophic stroke, December 1999, and that's another story.

Thanks to the dentist in 2006, mercury fillings are gone. No Afib and no panic attacks.
The funky flashes of deja' vous, paranoid behavior and "someone's out to get me" are utterly gone. Again, I'm not a psychologist. I'm sane, (sort of). I'm 68 years old and I can breathe again with no remorse.

It's the mercury fillings...or not? You be the judge.

Fear and loathing in my dentist's office. Not really. The dentist extracted mercury fillings in '05. No more Afib!


I was a weird child.

It's 1947. I slept an a crib in a fetal position, with the left ring-finger and the big digit, two fingers sucking away to oblivion. I'm 68, and my gnarled integer, the big digit, lives even today, crooked. I twisted my brown hair, stick-straight, forming a smooth curlycue with my right hand. I was 6. Hey, I'm no psychiatrist...

My Mom was agoraphobic, just a little. Tucked inside were notes, for the butcher, the fruit market and the electric bill for Allison News. I could read quite well. Off I go, bills in my pocket and bags of stuff  would appear on the table. Out of breath, I lived in a second-floor apartment with stairs yet, I counted the change of Mom. I was a skinny tot.

Mom's affliction with agoraphobia, coincidentally, buried Grandpap, my grandpap, in 1962. She was devastated. She never left the house; dark glasses, the blinds pulled down and quasi-died, essentially. I was a teen-ager. I was an only child of Josephine and Charles Yezek.  Jo died of a whopping aneurysm in 1971 and Charlie died of old age in 2001, respectively, 72 and 87. Charlie's a plumber; he is disheveled and looks like an unmade bed. My dad is amiable drunkard and he never missed a day's work...and he's smart.  An odd family, but I loved my parents.

I wear Mom's wedding band. It's platinum and gold, for the symbol of an psychotic union of unbalanced marriage. Jo and Charley spent 50 years, sometimes wonderful and sometimes, well, not. All because of spite. Mom and Dad were cremated.
I never owned a toothbrush.  Mom has no teeth to speak of.  I was four. I remember Mom and I walked to the bank building on Main St., where the dentist's office is.  
"Go to the bank building and sit there," she ordered. "I'll be back."
A half and hour later, bloody and toothless and the dentist pulled out the teeth. She threw the teeth away, in the garbage. Never mind the fittings, swollen gums and the pain, eventually subsided with the smooth-fitting dentures. Quite simply, "They hurt," said Mom. Just like a child. Dad caved, of course.  Mom was gumless to this day. 
"Open wide," the doctor said.
Dr. William Robinson lives across the street from my house College Avenue. I was 12 years old and I have tonsillitis. Mom gives me the note for the doctor for authorization.  Clearly agoraphobic, my Mom is afraid of the doctor's office.
The tonsillitis is inflamed, red and the pus-like abscesses were sore. The plaque and tartar and caries from my teeth were odorous.
"Don't you ever brush?" said the doctor, wincing.  
Blankly, "No."
The doctor prescribes the medication for tonsillitis. He rips the pad of paper and a note.  "Give this to your Mom. You need a dentist."
My Mom looked in the window, she peeked out from the curtains. I explained that the doctor detected a rank odor. "Here," indicating.
She read the note. Mom peered at the caries.  
"It's just baby teeth,''  she said, incredulous. Two incisors, the two front teeth, were in bad repair. The holes were showing in my tongue. 

Mom turned to the Yellow Pages for "Dentist" and scheduled the appointment. I was in the eighth grade and I have soft teeth as a teenager. It's 1960. 

The essential instruments, the whirring of the drill, the copious amounts of Novocain, the canines and molars are decaying and marginal. The drill worked over-time and the dentist studies the cavities. Filling after filling, tooth after tooth, the drill cleaned out the cavities and silver fillings intruded insidiously. Little silver fillings of mercury, amalgam fillings. I didn't know. Nobody knew. Well, the dentists, apparently.

"Here. For you," the assistant said, handing a foreign substance known as a toothbrush.  I had gleaming teeth. The incisors looked fine to me and I have fresh, minty breath.
Conservatively, the fillings in my teeth were 40 to 50 percent. That's a lot of mercury. The silver amalgams are actually half mercury, 50%. Silver fillings contain a mix of zinc, copper and tin. It's deadly. The mercury is second only by plutonium. I called in 2009 for my dental records in 1960, a long time ago, but the old records were gone.  Seven years is the maximum.
Little silver fillings.

I was about 19 or 20 . My dentist-to-be, Jack, was an acquaintance and familiar friend.  Jack's wife and I became riding buddies at California State College (aka California University in Pennsylvania, Cal U). Kathy and I were commuters. Jack finished dental school. 

Meanwhile, I was married to Frank Yankowski (ex-ex-ex-husband), had a baby, Jeff, and the teeth were rank. I called Jack and the copious root canals, amalgams and bridgework were in order. The new bridgework, eight teeth all told, left and right on my two front teeth.  

Over time, my mouth had a whiff of odor, a metallic taste. I overheard the dentist say to the assistant, "God. She has bad breath."

I chewed gum and Tic Tac for my breath. A funky bad metallic taste was there. Your the dentist. Do something. But they never did. 

It was a summer day in June on a Sunday in Latrobe, Pa.  I was drinking, slightly; one or two Rolling Rock's.  My cohort, Marie Bodziak from Volkswagen, threw a party.  I was in alone in the car. I careened up a hill and crashed my Volkswagen Rabbit.  It was a major car-crash.  I fractured my teeth at the jaw-line, and split my lip.  Major stitches, inside and out.  I used a stabilizer and the teeth were hanging on a thread. It was not pretty. I was 35.
I was in Latrobe Hospital (Excela) emergency room and Dr. Ted Lazzaro is a plastic surgeon (Aestique Medical Center & Spa in Greensburg, Pa.). Right time, right circumstance.  My chin healed well and left side, my molar, premolar, canine and incisor were loose. Very loose.
I removed the stabilizer from my other dentist, and sent me to a prosthodontist for missing teeth in Greensburg. I remember yelping alot. Twenty-four hours later, my lymph glands were hurting in the throat. A week passed. I could see the nodules.  I called Dr. Lazzaro, not a prosthodontist, and he diagnosed cellulitis.
I blew up with cellulitis.  My throat closed up and my neck exploded.  I was one sick girl. Dr. Lazzaro ordered Keflex, an antibiotic at 2000 mg. and it subsided, finally.
Consequentially, I am afraid to go to a dentist.  A little bit of "Mad Hatter's" from mercury?

August 14, 1982, Ozzie Schlueter (ex-ex-husband) and I were married. My ever-present teeth were wobbly, at best.  Ozzie and I transferred to Volkswagen Fort Worth, Texas and I searched for a dentist. My next appointment was in Azle, Texas.  Reluctantly, I told the dentist about cellulitis and my neck. I'm terrified to go to a dentist.   Unconcerned, the dentist built a bridge to the left molar on down. Five teeth all told.  The molar had a silver cap on it,  three teeth were silver for stability and the canine and incisor as well.
I still have the bridgework years ago. I saved it. The bridgework came loose. It's heavy and dense and suspicious for mercury or nickel. I emailed four industrial labs, but they only analyze enviromental samples.  I'm still looking. 

Oz and I split up at 1985 and he is at large in Fort Worth. I traveled to Michigan; Troy,  Romeo, New Haven, Washington and Macomb Township. I moved a lot in Michigan. I worked in Chrysler Motors  building cars, among other things.
I visited the dentist office only once in Romeo, probably 1986. Filling out the questionnaire, "yes", I'm afraid and apprehensive, "yes" I had a funky taste in my mouth. A metallic taste. Yuck. The dentist advised mouthwash. Unconcerned, the dentist filled the tooth.
By this time, I have Afib, heart-stopping, a wish-a-was-dead, pounding, hammering on my chest. Yes, I had myriad physicians; the ER doc, family practice and  cardiologists.  The doctors were stumped; no chest pains, hammering palpitations and then, miraculously, it stopped...and then it started again. Diagnosis: Take a pill. Any pill. I was anxious and fearful and chewed Tic Tac non-stop.
To 1990, I never went to the dentist. The novelist Joseph Heller said it's a Catch-22.  I have the fantasy of choice to the dentist's office, but averting any real choice.  What if I died in the dentist chair from Afib? That will not be good.
I have a new symptom in my mouth. It's a inflamed canine, left lower jaw, deep in the root, from my accident. Three times a year, conservatively, I used Keflex to ease the pain.  The medication worked, 3 times a day for 10 days and the doctor (any old doctor) of choice wrote a script. And, repeat the process for 15 years. I used a lot of Keflex.
Charley Yezek , my  dad, was in Shady Side Hospital in Pittsburgh for myriad surgeries.  Dur Roller and I were married in '95.  In 1997, I talked to doctors about pacemakers, prostrate cancer and Dilantin levels. Dad was fine, but he had dementia in 2001. He eventually died. 
My husband Dur, "Something's is wrong with your mouth. There's pus coming out of it." he announced. I looked in Charley's mirror in the bathroom.
"Eww," I said.
Sure enough, the canine was festering. I tried peroxide, hot salt water rinses and mouthwash. I used the medication, but the Keflex doesn't work any more.

Exit to Shady Side Hospital. Now what?
Charley wanted to kill me Fourth of July, 1999. Not good. It's the Alzheimer's; demented, confused and paranoid, I called Highlands Hospital Mental Health in Connellsville,  Pa. via ambulance. It was agonizing. Charley went to the personal care home in Mt. Pleasant, Pa.

Dur divorced in June, 1999.
Charley Yezek

Come September, the mouth was killing me. My teeth are excruciating. Seventeen years at the dentist is a long time. (Remember Jack?) I called the dentist, and scheduled the appointment, but  I'm skittish.  I cancelled, fearful of the Afib. Besides, something is wrong for the insurance. Pesky divorce.  I rinsed and gargled and, finally, after two weeks it waned.

December 20, 1999 had a stroke.  Frick Hospital (Excela) in Mt. Pleasant and Allegheny General in Pittsburgh are murky at best.  I had violent Afib and my teeth were unbearably painful. I couldn't speak or walk. One-word sentences. Weird.

Enter Heathsouth, a rehab facility in Monroeville, Pa. My right arm and leg were dead. The doctor, every blessed morning with out fail, took vital signs. It was extremely early and the dead of winter. He had a congenial smile, fluffy, fuzzy hair, albeit a receding hair line, and thick horn-rimmed glasses.
He flicked the light switch on my bed. The stethoscope was frigid.
"Good morning.  How are you?  Breathe please?"
"Teeth," I indicating the lower jaw.
"Excuse me?"
Teeth? See? The teeth are inflamed, red and infectious.
"Huh," he inspected the teeth, "you need a dentist."
The nurses and nurse's aide brought mouthwash, floss and Plax. I gargled vigorously and often. The metallic taste was stale and reeking.
The doctors scheduled two appointments, consultants for Aetna, for the dentists in Monroeville, one after the other. Two dentists vied over xray's and general well-being.  The van is warm and toasty in the bleak, frigid January. The nurses bundled me up in this snowbound winter's day.  I'm overjoyed from fresh, brisk, clean air. My nose was happy. Needless to say, I'm wheel-chair bound. The dentist accepted, probably for insurance purposes.
Next door to Forbes Regional Health Center, I had rampant Afib. The Healthsouth was custodial care, Forbes Regional had an emergency room.  The ambulance took me. Numerous times, four times in the ER, I had heart-stopping Afib.  I was admitted for the third time for dental surgery and Healthsouth for Afib..
So, a gloomy Saturday morning, six o'clock yet, I had surgery.  I looked at my window, it's sleeting in Monroeville.  Well, that's just wonderful.
The postoperative diagnosis was an mandibular abscess, septic tooth and supraventricular tachycardia and Coumadin/heparin therapy.  I had intravenous sedation and the silver fillings, at least ten, stayed put.
Heathsouth didn't want me back. The fourth time was the charm. The ambulance took me to the ER, yet again, for erratic beats.  The Forbes Regional said  "the patient will not be accepted back to Healthsouth..." forever, I presume. The discharge summary physician suggested Lopresser; it's beta-blocker and slows the heart. Take a pill; any pill.
I rolled my eyes. I was speechless and aphasic, of course. The beta-blocker doesn't work. Trust me.

Harmon House was a manse in Mt. Pleasant, Pa. a sprawling edifice for geriatrics. It's a nursing home. Me. How did I get here? I'm 52, an indentured by my wheel chair..
Additional to the rest home, there is an Assisted Living Center, 60 suites, for the seniors.  Amber House is top-notch.
The ambulance driver pulled up to the kitchen. The paramedics wheeled me in on a gurney and an ancient soul with vacant eyes, looked at me quizzically. This is not good. She's 90, at least. She and I are roomies.
The nurses' aides and the nurses are wonderful; kind, generous and caring. The housekeepers, with flatus, feces and spewed retching, are constantly on the move, and disinfecting at the ready. The housekeepers are meticulous.
That said, I couldn't wait to get out of here. Five long months.
The array of drugs I have are many; Lopresser, Calan (three times a day), the insidious warfarin, Lanoxin, Zocor, and a stool softener. I'm drugged up, to say the least.
Today, metoprolol (Lopressor), morning and evening, 25 mg., aspirin, krill oil, D-3 (vitamins). Statins were not  for me, terrible joint pains. I look like an little old lady. My cholesterol was 275. Yeah, it's high. I have "benign blood pressure".

My cardiologist was 12 years old, at least, and neckties with Loony Tunes, specifically, the Tasmanian Devil. Actually, quite competent with my heart muscle. The doctor prescribed the patch. The deliberate heart slows down to a standstill.
In the morning, there's something wrong.  
"Heart? No!" I vehemently indicating the patch from the heart. The slow-paced heart, the halting heart, was crawling.
I ripped the patch off. The nurses understood and cardiologist knew. The heart guy discontinued the patch.
Meanwhile, my teeth hurt.
One month after the septic tooth from Forbes Health, the teeth are painful and hurting. The social worker called, a completely new dentists by now, out of Greensburg and Mt. Pleasant.  In Mt. Pleasant, the dentist was booked solid. They catered to children anyway. The dentist in Greensburg took a full set of x-rays and diagnosed the problem.
"You have an infection, a rampant infection, in your gums and teeth," the dentist concluded. Do you think?
My social worker and I scheduled an appointment for next week. Full of apprehension, I'm worried about Afib. Next week came and went, I fretted about violent throbbing.  My appointment is today in the afternoon. 
Out of the blue, Linda Urban Soltis, Pat DiPadova Hall (now deceased) and Lois Ford came for a visit. They're Volkswagen buddies and company closed it's doors in the eighties.  Jeffrey came as well, and discussed my infected teeth. I nodded and smiled with vigor, and I was an absolute wordless mute. Once a upon a time, I was sarcastic, witty and scathing. Not any more.
"Maybe the stroke caused this," said Linda to Jeff.
Bingo.  Maybe it is. 
The girls left and Jeffrey had to work. It's mid-afternoon. Where's the dentist?  I putted down to the nurses' stations in my wheel chair.
"Dentist? Van? What?" I explained.
There's a mix-up with the insurance paperwork, the nurse said.
I was enormously relieved, sort of. No palpitations with the chair. Of course, I  was hurting. Palpitations versus rampant infections. Hmm. No contest. The drugs stuporous and benign at the same time; the hypertensive medication were groggy and kind to me. I felt calm and irritated. I was a wreck. I'm drugged up and infectious. God is laughing.
No mention of the dentist's office. I moved to Amber House in June and July, custodial care, and Jeff finally got a care-giver for AccessAbilties from Westmoreland County. December till July;  I'm, at long last, going home.

I missed the psychotic Johann, the German shepherd. Jeff had a coworker who got the dog.  My next-door neighbor, Dorothy Lloyd, fed the cats. She's 80+ and she's the Energizer Bunny. I loved Dorothy. (She died at 93, Feb. 13, 2010) Jeff helped also, with fresh water, Friskies food and cleaning the feline litter box. Seven months is a long time. The cats are overjoyed.
I have a caregiver and no more wheel chair. I'm walking with a quad-cane. It's 2000.
Aunt Mary Ann (she is my Mom's sister) and uncle Knip Knipple saw me many times at Harmon House. My caregiver Carla is stable, smart and 40 years old. I have halting sentences and aphasia. Carla and Mary Ann coordinated the trip to the dentist's office. Carla called the dentist, a new dentist Dr. Thomas Gretz (Senior and Junior), in Scottdale, Pa. and scheduled the next appointment.
Knip is agitator, a kidder and stirs up trouble. He is demented, in a good way.  The early fog mist, over the mountain, was thick.  Mary Ann and Knip turned into the driveway in my house.
"Are you nervous about the dentist? said Mary Ann.
Are you kidding me? I have gulped down Lopressor, Calan and Lanoxin, in the morning and the evening, thank you very much.  I was nonplus, slow-witted and silly.  I'm in the zone. The populous is over-medicated, in my opinion.
"Yes," I lied. The verdict is the same; an infection, the dentist said. Could be mercury fillings?
Carla Ware is my caregiver for five years and she's a good friend and chum. Carla's Dad had leukemia for two years. No family history to speak of and dad was failing.  Dad died, of course. She and I perused the internet for leukemia, toxic waste, polluted arsenic, mercury and onerous bad stuff.  Could it be mercury?

And then the light came on.
Of course. Mercury fillings, silver amalgams in my teeth. I remember, thank God. My Mom used to say, "polluted".  Somewhere, something the recesses of my little brain were humming. Years ago, 60 Minutes had a segment about mercury and the repercussions of mercury. Mercury can interfere with dental and periodontal disease, allergies, GI disorders, palpitations, high and low blood pressure and central nervous system. Mercury is lethal and poisonous to all cells.

Dentist's know this.  I'm not a physician, or a dentist, or a science guy.  I obtained medical records for the hospital. Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration in December 14-15, 2010, discussed mercury fillings in pregnant women, young children and alternative methods for tooth decay. 

My son Jeff is 46 now. Every spring and fall the dreaded eczema appears.  Every so often the obsessive-compulsive disorder rears it's grave head. The actions repetitive, ritualistic and compulsive. Mercury fillings passed to the pregnant women, to the placenta, to the baby. Yes, me and Jeffrey. Jeff never had eczema and OCD.  Ever.  

My granddaughter Jordan is a reed thin sweetie, with angular features and long lines.  She's 14. She eats like a truck driver, craves sugar and she loves fruit.  She inherited eczema;  wisps of eczema from elbows and knees, ever so faint, in the springtime.
Jordan and Jeff

Fayette Transportation carted me, actually a bus, back and forth to the dentist in Scottdale, four long years worth. 
I couldn't speak at all with the stroke. Well, awkward sentences in 2005.  
But I was deep cleaned from the hygienist and had four apicoectomies (an infected tooth).  Yes, palpitations, violent palpitations in the dentist chair, no rhyme or reason.  I had two, numerous teeth from the mandible to the jaw and a dead tooth.

"Pull them," I said, emphatically. "Hurts."
"Pull them out?," said the dentist, disbelieving, "all the way out?  The teeth are fine."
"Pull them.  Mercury?" I said.  "Metallic?"
Of course, I couldn't speak a lick, but in my mind I thought:  Do you know it hurts? The teeth are infected, to be sure, poisonous, toxic, noxious teeth are damaged.  The teeth are the problem. The metallic taste is the problem. Mercury fillings is the problem.  Get them out.
I waited for authorization from the insurance group.
A crazy lady with a stroke. The dentist complied. Gently.
The dentist pulled the teeth '05. The stench in my mouth was unbearable. One by one, the dental forceps extracted the teeth. Forty years is a long time. Cell by cell, organ by organ, took it's toll. The long, slow, process is over and I was overjoyed. The blood coagulated and dentist placed the dentures in my mouth.
Every month for six-months, the swollen dentures were better and better. No swollen gums, hot-spots and tumescent facial features. The metallic taste was gone instantly and the dentures were healing.  No pain to speak of. 

Two years, more or less, the Afib and the panic attacks gone. (Mercury stay's for a long, long time.) After the stroke, I had at least once-a-week for Afib; pounding, heart-stopping, life-or-death Afib for at least 20 years. I took the metoprolol (Lopressor); and it doesn't help. Yeah, it's a beta-blocker. Yeah, it reduces the heart-rate. I get that.
Everybody's looking for a quick-fix. Let the body heal itself.