Officer Wes flew to Dallas when his father had surgery on his carotid artery. Things went well.
With the sale of the Houston Home at the end of 2001, we were able to do some things that had been on hold. We got new computers. We had the house landscaped. Later we sold the Town Car and got Tom a handsome Passat.
Then Officer Wes started noticing some unusual things. He was needing more rest. His calves started cramping. His energy batteries seemed to return to a vexing thinly-charged and easily-drained state. Perhaps it was a sinus infection. But we also noticed his brain started slowing down again like it had three years prior. Time would tell.
Officer Wes finished his Oxandrin regimen. Now he felt even more unplugged. He dropped 5 pounds. We increased the nutrition regimen, which is pretty difficult when one is already eating almost constantly. Protein powder and protein bars helped fill in more. Priorities had to be rearranged.
Officer Wes had been helping out when able with local leather mentoring. But when the fatigue and brain slowness continued, it began looking similar to a vexing fatigue / neuropathy / medication / endocrine imbalance that takes months to work on. So he asked if someone else would step in when the next mentoring round began. About the same time, his buttocks started to lightly bruise from just sitting. What a pain in the butt!
Late in the month, several things happened. Officer Wes and his sisters held a celebration of life gathering for their mother and had her playful grave marker placed. And Officer moved his doctor appointment up from May and strategized on what to do next. Finally, a very dear leather man, bob harris, died.
April was brighter. In response to a medication change, the brain slowness largely disappeared. A power lifter gave Officer Wes an additional tip on how to put weight on, and that seemed to tilt the scale -- upward. (In short, he explained that the body can absorb about 40 grams of protein -- the building block of lean body mass -- at a time. So, he suggested Officer Wes increase his 25-gram protein shake mix by about 50%, to about 38 grams, and increasing the frequency of shakes. Specifically he suggested starting the day with a protein shake, eating solid food between shakes, and closing the day with a protein shake since the body repairs itself during rest.) And a long-planned trip to the Grand Canyon finally arrived.
A great picture of Tom
Officer Wes in his Blauer police jacket with Grand Canyon Sheriff's badge
The El Tovar Hotel on the rim, where we stayed
In May we made a bold decision to see if we couldn't further address Officer Wes' fatigue: We would discontinue the successful anti-neuropathy regimen and try a different medication or two; in up to four permutations.
We quickly came to the conclusion that anti-neuropathy-lite was probably not sufficient suppression for Officer Wes, though we gave the medications time to settle in before making a final decision June 19th.
We also changed Tom's antiretroviral medication combination in June in response to an increasing viral load. He went from Viracept + Ziagen + Zerit; to Ziagen + Zerit + Viread + Kaletra.
Also, Tim asked if Officer Wes would do the demonstration at July's gay leather social. Officer Wes asks Kevin, someone whom he'd been keeping an eye on since April, to help with the demonstration. The demo trial runs show a wonderful connection.
Late in the month Officer Wes got to visit his friend Steve in Tucson and help out with Arizona Power Exchange's APEX Academy: Carrying on the Butchmanns Tradition.
Officer Wes & Tom visit Deputy Dave in San Francisco.
We welcome Kevin into the family and he starts coming over at least every other week.
Deputy brings his new boy to Austin to meet the rest of the family.
We celebrate Tom's 50th birthday, early, with some friends.
Officer Wes works on his claim for the Enron bankruptcy case. If his benefits do indeed disappear through the bankruptcy process, he loses about $1.4 million in future benefits.
We have the guest closet door opening widened from four feet across to six feet across to better access the insides of the eight foot closet. We also have a vent installed in the military bathroom.
It was also a difficult month health-wise for both Officer Wes and Tom. Officer Wes got a sinus infection after his allergist suggested trying stopping allergy injections; and Tom had a 104 degree fever that mellowed into almost a month-long ick.
A delightful Halloween party at patti's.
Tom visits Mom and Dad and the three start talking about Mom and Dad moving to an assisted living community for Mom.
On the 5th we order some mixing CD gear which Officer Wes has wanted for 10 years. Finally the price came down to where a setup, a Numark CDN-88, was affordable.
On November 6th the Texas Register publishes that in response to budget shortfalls, Texas will cut back on its AIDS Drug Assistance Program ("ADAP"). Changes would roll through within about six months. Tom's prescriptions have been through the state's ADAP but with the eligibility cutbacks he will no longer qualify. And we suspect that since he needs a medication change -- which requires all-new paperwork -- he would be dropped from the program even sooner.
We let that settle in for a few days, then talk about it on the 11th. We have four options that we see:
- Tom stops his medications. This is a poor option health-wise, as his virus is difficult to suppress even with medications.
- Tom returns to work to obtain prescription health coverage. Even if this were medically feasible, Tom additionally has severe doubts about being employable at age 50 after a 10-year lapse in employment.
- We burn through savings at the rate of about $2,000/month to pay for those medications. We're willing to do this, but this option runs out in a fairly short timeframe -- especially when the cost doubles to also cover Officer Wes. (More on that below.)
- We move to a state where health support for its citizens is a higher priority. While medications are expensive, studies have shown that they are a cost-effective public health solution: Providing them keeps people from even-more-expensive hospitalizations whose costs are usually borne by local government.
Officer Wes had wanted to move to San Diego for years. (The weather is great. We have dear friends there and in San Francisco. And there's a significant gay male leather community.) But we moved to Austin in large part to look after his mom. But now she's dead. And his father and long-term stepmother recently moved from Texas to Oregon where his father's family lives. And now Tom's parents are starting the talk about moving to an assisted living center. Our family commitments are freeing up. To top it off, California supports its ADAP program and Tom would qualify there.
At the same time, Officer Wes has been getting his medication coverage through his Enron medical benefits for retirees and folks on long-term disability since 1991. But Enron filed for bankruptcy in December 2001 and those benefits are expected to end when Enron emerges from bankruptcy. (Like many large corporations, Enron self-funded its medical coverage plans.) Officer Wes does not qualify for Texas' ADAP but would qualify for California's ADAP whenever that happened.
Though we have rich friendships we treasure in Austin, our path was clear: We need to prepare to move to California.
There is a 30-day comment period for Texas' "proposed" ADAP guidelines, but we both view the proposal as a done-deal given the state budget situation and priorities. And, regardless of whether the proposed changes that started our investigation got implemented, we now know that moving to California would provide for Officer Wes' future medication needs. We are moving forward. First up: Taking Tom to San Diego to scope things out there -- Thursday.
San Diego is a lovely city, with many outdoor opportunities such as the beautiful Balboa Park and San Diego Zoo. The city's gay neighborhood, Hillcrest, was attractive with lots of good places to eat. It didn't take long for Tom to feel conceptually comfortable with a move.
The difficult part: Real estate prices.
We quickly realized that we couldn't afford a single-family home AND also were at the first-day listing of a beautiful condo in Hillcrest with a view. Our offer was the high bid of four -- in one day -- in San Diego's overheated real estate market. We entered into escrow Wednesday, and returned to Texas Thursday.
It's as if the universe agrees this is what we're supposed to be doing.
We majorly thin through stuff for our new smaller place, and it sells well at a garage sale.
We're able to close on the San Diego place in time to still go on our annual rest-and-renewal retreat.
The Austin house goes under contract in less than three weeks.
The Murphy bed sells on the first day it's advertised.
We are thankful.