Sunday, March 26, 2006

Coming Home and Living Wills (A Grandma Update)

Grandma had her surgery the other day. She'll probably come home tomorrow. She now has a plate and pins in her left arm to hold the broken radius in place. LOL. Yes, she'll set off airport alarms. She's not happy and is in pain, but that will pass with time.

She's going to be in a hard cast for at least six weeks and then she'll have therapy after that. So, for the next two months, Mom and I will be cutting up food and making sure she's walking steady and all the other fun things you do when a person needs to be waited on hand and foot, pretty much. LOL. Grandma really needs to stop breaking bones!

On a more serious note, the nephrologist told us that she's in the fourth stage of renal failure. There are only five stages. She's this close to dialysis. There's no way she'll b eligible for a new kidney, and frankly, I don't think she'd want one. TAFH had a good idea. She wants the children to sit with Grandma and truly discuss medical powers of attorney and living wills. Grandma has fought these up until now, but they're hoping they can get through to her that they would only kick in if Grandma was incapacitated. She even suggested taping whatever Grandma's final wishes in the conversation were in case they needed to convince a doctor of them. This is in case Grandma refuses the two documents. I know Grandma doesn't want to linger on life support. We all know this. None of us want to, either. However, if she refuses a living will, we'd need to convince the doctors somehow, because they'd automatically put her on machines if something happened.

If Grandma's kidneys keep shutting down like they are and she wants no dialysis, I don't think she'll last the year. I don't know what else to type. I don't know how to express what I'm feeling, acknowledging that fact to people other than my mother.

Friday, March 24, 2006


First and foremost, let me go on record saying that I think smoking is a nasty habit that needs to go the way of the Dodo bird. That being said, if a person truly chooses to light up and inhale a rolled-up wad of dried leaves, it's their choice. I wish them well in their lives and hope they find the strength to quit before said lives are permanently ruined. I never ask a person to put out a cigarette if they are near me. I simply try to move upwind of them.

Now, I have some questions for and about smokers and smoking.

1) Why, if a store doesn't allow smoking in the vestibule, do all the smokers stand right outside the doors? If you're sitting or standing in the vestibule, trying to avoid the smokers in the first place, you still get a snortful of cancer gas each time the doors open.

2) Do smokers not see the grand irony in puffing away on a cigarette and then either sucking down oxygen or asthma medicine? My great-aunt used to drag around her oxygen tank and puff up at the times she wasn't hooked up to it. She knew she was dying from emphysema, but didn't care. She was a great old bird in every other respect.

3) Why do so many smokers seem incapable of putting out their butts in the sand receptacles provided outside most stores? They so casually flick them to the ground. Do they do the same on the grass? People rarely even stub them out with their shoes. Do they not realize that one careless cigarette could cause a devastating wildfire?

4) Why is it that no matter where you stand outside, if a smoker shows up, the wind switches so that the smoke goes right into your face? If you ask the smoker to change places with you (which most seem amenable to if you ask politely, as I do) the wind immediately switches again, so the smoke goes the other way and smacks into you again! *sigh*

5) Why can a person buy cigarettes at 18 and alcohol at 21? They are both addictive, lethal drugs, so what's the difference between them other than the time it takes for them to kill?


Thursday, March 23, 2006

To Be Read Piles

I've picked up a book I had started many moons ago: Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World, by Adrienne Mayor. I set it down around Christmastime thanks to overwork and too many familial obligations, but now that my room is tidied up I have a pile about two and a half feet high of books to be read. Nearly all of them are reference books. The fiction gets devoured daily.

I was flipping through it and found where I left off, but I'm thinking I should start all over again, since it's been so long.

Oh, by the way, Grandma needs surgery on the arm, but they can't do it until her kidneys are functioning at a certain level and that won't be till this weekend or Monday, the nephrologist thinks. So, a couple of weird, Grandma-free days are in store. I never know what to do with myself. Laundry is a priority at the moment, though!


Sunday, March 19, 2006

The State of Medicine in NEPA (A Grandma Update, Sorta)

Well, TAFH has weighed in. Not setting Grandma's bone and sending us home with the understanding that we'd be contacting the ortho specialist on Monday is "criminal." The hospital was wrong to let us walk out of the hospital without having seen an ortho surgeon. She says it was just because of Grandma's age, and yadda yadda the state of medicine in this area is barbaric and primitive and yadda yadda. We have grounds for a suit, even.


She wants to talk to my mother about it. She called to make sure I actually understood what I was telling her. LOL. She's so casually insulting. And she's coming in this weekend for a visit. This is going to be fun. I'm going to get a lecture about what I should have done.


Chance (A Contemplative Grandma Update)

Grandma broke her arm yesterday, so we spent some time at the hospital. Given that we usually end up there for thing much more life-threatening, we were actually able to relax and joke a bit. It was just the two of us, since Mom was at work and the other relatives were out of touch. My aunt drove us there, but she and her husband had a date planned, so we told her to go enjoy it.

As we sat in the exam room, it really hit me how chance and fate play in our lives. There were four people shuttled in and out of the exam room next to us in the time we were there: an older woman, a college-aged young man, a middle-aged man and a little girl.

The first, the older woman, was there when we got there. She had a bunch of female family members with her. When the doctor came back and told her that the cancer they'd thought they caught was back and incurable, I'm not sure if she was in shock or just accepting. He said it was treatable, but incurable and wouldn't give her a lifespan. But he was kind and had called for second opinions. I think she was trying to be strong for her daughters, whom I could hear crying and beginning the stages, "But she's never smoked, so why...?" She was admitted.

The second, the college-aged young man, simply had an infected tooth and wanted some antibiotics to hold him over till he could see his dentist. He went home shortly.

The third, the middle-aged man, was nervous. His brother had stolen his prescription and he needed an emergency script to tide him over until his refilled itself on the natural date. He just didn't want to have to file a police report. They took his info, checked it out and gave him a script. He went home.

The fourth, the little girl, arrived pretty much as we were leaving. I don't know what was wrong with her, but she was crying and holding her arm up. Maybe she'd broken it, too. We tried to smile at her on our way out, and I think the mother was a bit gratified by it.

It struck me, though, that we are usually the family sitting on tenterhooks, waiting for some pronouncement from above to tell us that Grandma is going to live just a little longer at a decent mode of living. This one time, it was someone else whose life was devastated by terrible news. Is it petty of me to think of this visit as a good visit? Mean to be able to think positively and realize that there is always a worse diagnosis?

I can only hope that the older woman finds comfort in her obviously loving family and in her faith, if she has one, and that she lives comfortably and happily as long as she is able to. I hope the college kid gets a dentist appointment Monday. I hope the middle-aged man's brother gets treatment for his addictions and stops stealing his brother's meds. And I hope the little girl recovers quckly from whatever happened to her.

As for Grandma, she has a Radial Head Fracture (and you can really see the break on the X-Rays.). We're making an appointment for her with her ortho doc ASAP.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A Miscellany

I'm now four days off work. However, the sinus infection/pharyngitis or whatever the heck it ends up being feels like it's getting a bit better. LOL. If it doesn't get better, Kim, don't let them give me a viewing. A drunken wake with a nice photo (if you can find one), yes, but not a viewing in a corpeshouse. Of course, scraping up enough of me from the road and whatever truck hits me after I leap the highest bridge I can might make that hard for my family. ;p

I just watched Good Night, and Good Luck. Wow! This was an excellent movie. I definitely recommend you watch it and then listen to the commentary. The friendship and repartee between Grant Heslov (one of my faves) and George Clooney (not a favorite, but I certainly don't hate him) is great.

Of course, I've also read a ton of books in the last few days in between moans and groans. Eva Ibbotson's The Haunting of Granite Falls; JR Ward's two vampire books, Dark Lover and Lover Eternal are just the last three, as well as rereading JR Robb's Memories in Death. What a surprise that I spend some of my sick time reading, right? Well, I also taped each of the documentaries hosted by William Shatner on the History Channel and watched them the next day. I have to admit, when I was younger, he annoyed me, but he's growing on me. He's a hammy actor with a really funny sense of humor. LOL. He doesn't take himself too seriously anymore.

Anyway, I managed to get very small bites of mashed potatoes (about a cup's worth) and an entire glass of water down. I'll try the Cepacol stuff and small bites thing and see if I can eat some more potatoes for dinner. Absolutely no Gatorade, though. The stuff burns too much going down. So does Mom's flavored water.

Oh, and I'm really going to have to figure out those "cut" things that Ragnell does.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Well, it's a sinus infection. Funny, I never expected a sinus infction to do what this thing has done to me. I've missed three days of work and feel like somone is grabbing my insides and twisting them with glee. Have I mentioned I've barely eaten since it hurts to swallow anything, even liquids?

I can't afford this.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Sick. Yuck.

Aching all over (even my teeth!), fevers, chills, 103 degree to 100 degrees?

Well, I was given a horse pill (Amoxicillin), so let's see if it works.

I'm going to take a cool shower now to try to break this darned fever.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Vacation From My Vacation? (A Grandma Update)

I may need a vacation from my vacation. I haven't actually gone anywhere and that's most likely the problem. I've had a pretty solid week of Grandma-sitting, adding my niece and nephew to the mix. Tuesday the kids and I escaped the nuthouse to go to the store so I could show them off and get some kid-oriented puzzles. Today we went to my Grandfather's and Grandma went to my Uncle B's house for dinner. "Bea", the woman who watches her when Mom and I are working came for a while, too. She'll probably come tomorrow so I can take the kids out for an hour or so.

It's just been a bit of a frustrating visit. My brother is becoming just like TAFH. He is in the military, so I understand self-confidence is a must, but he's "never wrong." His way is always the right way and Mom and I give in to Grandma too much. He cleaned out our freezer without asking us if he could, for instance. He just assumed the right. He tells us that we should just do things and basically tell Grandma to suck it up. He bought a new ironing board (he irons every article of clothing he puts on his body but for underwear and socks), something Mom and I (well, Mom, at least) have been trying to convince Grandma to let us do, and it's totally cool with her. Meanwhile, she gripes and moans to the nurse who was here for her six-month checkup about everything I do.

To be honest, he's always been like this to a point. He was always the only boy in our generation, and no matter what my prents say, spoiled a little bit. He even admits Mom favored him. She denies it, but my brother and I know she's just trying hard not to see it. He tells me that I can take what he says to me without getting defensive about it and "over-reacting." He always says this right before he says something he knows would get me pissed, but since he just "complimented" me by telling me how rational I can be, I can't react without looking the total fool. I just do what I always do with my family. Shut up and go to my room. He didn't even want to spend any time Grandma-sitting and laughed about it when I told him that's what I get to do with my day, because "he" was on vacation. Well, so am I, dammit! He apparently told Mom later he was happy I got to go out every once in a while because it's not good for me to never go out, or something like that, but wouldn't it be nice if he said something like that to me, instead of making me feel like stupid crap? He says Mom and I try to please people to much, which is true, we do. But he's quite willing to take it and not help back.

*sigh* To be fair, he has watched her a few times for an hour or so, but he gripes about it plenty. The one time I went to the grocery store to buy food to feed him and his kids and he did his usual, "You need to learn how to walk faster." The other was when I went to the doctor's and I made sure I took my sweet time getting home. I even took the bus when walking would have been a bit faster. *snort* I only added about twenty minutes time to make a total of about an hour and a half, and I consider this a respite. How pathetic can I be?

I don't know. There have really been only three or four people in my life that can so casually, constantly and unconsciously make me feel so unloved, stupid, insignificant and totally unnecessary to this planet. It's just my dumb luck that two of them happen to be sharing the same roof with me at the same time. All that's needed now is a visit from my father and TAFH.

Note to self: Never clean your room again. You get in as much trouble with Grandma as when it's a total mess. Also, anyone want to do my laundry? If I do one large load a week, that's doing laundry every day in her mind (This from the woman who will wash a shirt and pants every single day. Yes, I do mean a shirt and a pair of pants and that's it and call it a full load.). I did three loads in the last two days, as I've been going through my clothing to get rid of stuff I'll never wear again. Big mistake.

Oops, I left the last load in the washer. I'd better get it out and on the radiators. The second load is hanging on the ladder going up to the attic in a pile. I was forbidden use of the radiators last night. I'm taking them tonight, no matter what the old bat says.

There, I said it. I called her a name online. Of course, if you'd been a doctor and heard me when I was hanging clothing yesterday, you'd have been calling in a diagnosis of Tourette's!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


"Dear Sir, you are without any doubt a rogue, a rascal, a villain, a thief, a scoundrel and a mean, dirty, stinking, sniveling, sneaking, pimping, pocket-picking, thrice double-damned no-good son-of-a-bitch."
Stephen Hopkins, delegate from Rhode Island: 1776 (Restored Director's Cut)

I'm watching this movie for what is probably the 200th time of my life. My parents recorded it on VHS when I was little and I've always loved it. When our copy died a natural death from overuse, especialy since Hello, Dolly! and The Pirate Movie were on the same tape, I bought a new tape. Of course, the VHS had pieces cut from it, so when the buzz came out that a restored cut was going to be released, I was thrilled. To finally see Cool, Cool Considerate Men peformed was something I was really looking forward to. I had already purchased the 1972 Broadway soundtrack and loved the song. I even went to see it on Broadway during the revival in 1997 as my present to myself for my 21st birthday (I missed Brent Spiner! Drat!).

For some reason (even knowing it's not totally historically accurate) watching the Founding Fathers struggle to take the baby steps in the creation of our country is extremely uplifting. Peter Stone's book is simply a masterpiece. He manages to make each of the players a hero in his/her own right as much as showing their flaws. There was John Adams (the hero of the piece) an arrogant, egotistical, sometimes-jerk whose whole being was focused on independence. Franklin, the "sage" who serves as the conscience of the people in the play/movie. I even love Dickinson and Rutledge, whose reasons for staying part of the British Empire resonate even now: Dickinson, the man who represented the Tories who wanted to make sure they held onto their money, properties and status they never would have achieved in England proper; Rutledge, the man who wanted to keep his traditional way of living alive and his state's rights paramount. Dr. Hall, whose part is small, but pivotal, reminds me of the ideal delegate. He wants to serve the people, but has to work out how that is best done and even uses the words of Sir Edmund Burke, of the British Parliament to decide exactly how he'll vote.

I guess it's naive of me, but I hold the Founding Fathers as prime examples of what we hope for in our politicians. I know that they had their faults. I know we get the phrase Gerrymandering from Elbridge Gerry, a delegate from Massachusetts. James Wilson died penniless after having helped write the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution, as well as having been on the Supreme Court. Dr. Lyman Hall was dismissed from a pastorate for doing something naughty. Samuel Chase of Maryland was thought to have a mental illness and was later impeached while on the Supreme Court (acquitted). Each of the Founding Fathers had some foibles. They were human, after all. I'd prefer they have faults. It makes it seem so much more amazing that any of this could actually happen.

I also like a couple of lines by Franklin as he and Adams are arguing about taking the slavery clause out of the Declaration to appease the South and get them to agree to sign:
"These men, no matter how much we may disagree with them, are not ribbon clerks to be ordered about. They're proud, accomplished men. The cream of their colonies. And whether you like it or not, they and the people they represent will be part of this new nation you'd hope to create. Now either learn how to live with them or pack up and go home."

This little speech brings home the very idea that we all hope for. No matter what we think of each others' political beliefs, the fact that we can all express them and come to a consensus is the point of this "experiment."

*snort* Now just don't ask me to concede too many of my beliefs and we'll be fine. ;p


Sunday, March 05, 2006


Wahoo! I found it, Kim. Here's the address for the online comic I was talking about.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Vacation time

It's been a little while. My brother and his kids are in now. They arrived last night. My niece and nephew were so happy to see me, and of course, the feeling was quite mutual. They literally threw themselves at me when they saw me. Man, they are great little monkeys. Gods, how I adore them.

Why do they have to live so far away? It's just not fair of the Air Force to do that to me, darn it! I really hope my brother gets posted to Dover when his choice comes up. Delaware is a lot easier to get to than New Mexico.

Anyway, I'm taking the week off as a vacation (lots of Grandma-sitting, how fun.) and hopefully some of the relatives will cooperate by giving Mom and I some respite so we can take the kids out. We'll see.

Oh, I simply must brag. My nephew is a brilliant little boy. We did some of his homework and he understood the concept of pronouns without a struggle. I even gave him examples and challenged him to change some of the things that were on his homework sheet and he did great, coming up with a few changes himself. He's also one heck of a clever writer for his age. And his spelling! Let's just say that I know who's getting my prized dictionary when I die.

Now, my niece...she's the athlete and drama queen. And I do mean drama queen. Her future career will be one of these: actress (multiple award-winner, of course), soccer player, doctor, President of the US, lifelong convict. Of course, none of those career paths cancel out the others, so... When she told me they were going to build a snowman, I told her I wanted to play too, but since I was at work she kept telling me "You're going to miss the fun. You're going to miss the fun." *snicker* It's a really cute snowman.