Can I just say that on Halloween night all commercials with doorbells should be banned? Yes, I am talking to you , Dominos!
We left the house at 6:50 this morning and drove east. I spent the day at the hospital waiting for mom to have her minor surgical procedure. It was strange being in the same waiting room that I sat in last July when she had first real "get the cancer out" surgery. That last time lil sis was there and so was dad. Today it was just me. Lil sis is only a week and a half postpartum so she had a legit excuse, but dad was a disappointment. As tough as it is to be around him and his spewing misinformation some times, just having another family member would have been a big comfort. Dad was on the fence about going but last night we all went to bed thinking he was going to make the early morning off we go to have some more surgery trek. Then this morning when mom woke dad up he mumbled something about an upset stomach and went right back to sleep. I think mom deserves better than that, but honestly, the two of them do have a long history of dealing with things by not at all dealing with them and dad is surely freaking about mom being so incredibly sick and he dealt with it by, well, not dealing with it.
Mom pulled through surgery like a regular healthy person. That was great. They were a little delayed, but once mom's team got the OR they had her in there and took care of her and she was ready to go home precisely when they thought she would be ready. I managed to use the surgery/post op time to do more than just cope with food (which I naturally got out of the way thoroughly and immediately) but I took care of things with the OFH and the rehab/night of the living dead graveyard with several phone calls that surely had most of the surgical waiting room wondering how many less than healthy relatives can one person care for at one time, and tomorrow once wildmom and I finish up at the spa (yes folks, you heard me right, we are getting ourselves some well deserved R & R including some cranial sacral therapy for me which I am praying real hard will fix my neck/shoulder/numb arm issue once and for all) I can head over to the zombie spook show rehab and honestly, without sneaking past the nurses or hiding behind the linen cart spring grandma and take her back to the OFH where I don't have to try to slip her in the side door either.
I even impressed myself on the phone with these people today. I thought, "Damn, I'd give me what I was asking for!" I'm that good. And much to the doubting husband's relief, I did not have to resort to threats of life long lasting law suits by my lawyer husband or mention my pull at the local papers versus their need for free publicity or how I live across the street from the mayor or how tight I am with the town's ex-fire chief (and how I know how often the geezers start microwave oven fires in their rooms attempting to dry their laundry) and how all the cops think I am so great cause I get them in the paper or any of those things. I just kept pretty much telling them that there was nothing wrong with grandma, she was sent to the hospital unnecessarily and did not have a heart attack, is as capable as she was last monday when the overzealous nurse called 911 and no one was suggesting she needed any rehab back then, but I am a big fan of rehab so they can go ahead and give her some now and how as her responsible party I had to take into account her emotional well being, which is what I am doing by removing her from the rehab where grandma is very unhappy and her roommate now screams "Help me! Someone! Help me!" in her shriveled up old lady shrill death toll voice all day long every day except when she is moaning, and that I intended to bring grandma back to the OFH tomorrow so what would they like me to do and who would they like me to call to get the ball rolling, I'll be bringing her home around 1. The end. We all hung up on the same page, the page that says grandma is going back to the OFH and will not be returning to the rehab, like ever, or as long as she has a single functioning brain cell. But that is something for me, the one who deals with stuff to deal with in the future.
****I learned this trick from a ke-razy (in an interesting and eccentric kind of way) Japanese woman I used to work for. This woman would not take NO for an answer, and made me do her bidding for her, and I learned (because she made me call back and call back and call back until I got what she wanted) to be persistent until the other person folds. Works like a charm. Just never give up, keep repeating what it is that you want. I use that technique, or a slightly more diplomatic form of that technique, very effectively all the time. If I close my eyes I can still hear Ke-razy Kazuko screeching into the phone receiver in her office and then laughing as she got off the phone victorious and proud. She'd stand her doorway, throw her head back and tell me "That is the way the deal is done." Thanks Kazuko!****
The director of the OFH insisted that the nursing director (who shall now be referred to as Natasha, aptly named after the tall dark haired heavily accented villain in the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show) would have to go to see grandma and "evaluate" her. I went along with it, reinforcing that I was bringing grandma back tomorrow and not a day later. I also expressed concern that grandma being mostly deaf even with her hearing aids, was not going to understand a thing (quick talking! heavily accented!) Natasha said. Sure enough when I brought mom home after her surgery and showed up at the rehab Natasha and grandma were sitting in a common area looking like two long lost and reunited pals. I chatted briefly with the Natasha and when she left grandma leaned in to me and shouted "What the hell was that?!? I couldn't understand a word she said!" Told ya so.
So, mom is over another hurdle, hopefully she has a fully functioning port now, she has one more dose of chemo and 4 doses of interferon to get through and grandma is hours away from freedom and I am going to get my (morning) moment of peace, and next week we'll find out if the oral chemo dad has been taking looks like it is going to work for him. Cross your fingers, say a prayer. I guess we will all deal (or not deal-depending) with that result in our own way.
My paper has several people that call themselves "photographers". I am the only one of those several that catually has any actual credentials. (B.S. in Photography, thank you very much) the other two "photographers" are folks who thought to themselves, "Gee willy! I love taking purty pictures! I think I'll call myself a photographer!" and they got the same low paying job I did and went to work for the paper. They bug the shit out of me. One is just weird and the other tries too hard to be my buddy. He does it nicely, as if I am as inexperienced as he is and I want to let him know that I am the pro. He is the wanna be. Their photos, to be honest,
pretty much suck don't do much for me. I am a tough critic. The guy has been getting better, he's trying, but the woman... grrr...
My editor sent me this photo from a soccer game I shot last week.
That big fat dressed in black woman in the back is me. The guy just showed up- at MY assignment and shot MY game! Wait a minute! I thought I was invisible in black! OMG, do I need to cut out the carbs. This is the shot I was taking the split second after that novice's lame shot:
See?? See what I mean? These people are driving me nuts pretending to be photographers!! I mean, not only do I photograph the players and the ball close together, but I am actually able to do it under very distracting circumstances. I was able to take superb photos of that game despite being on the same side of the field as the man who is undoubtedly going be People Magazine's hottest man of the year. Not only that, I remained composed even though the guy was running back and forth in front of me time and time again. I don't know if you can imagine, but I stood steady and focused for the entire game all the while being teased and tormented by an unattainable hottie like this:
Now who is the Pro?
It's getting harder and harder to summon the energy to face another day each morning. This morning I woke up and realized that I had been so preoccupied with my mother and grandma that I hadn't been giving barely any worry time to dad. He's been taking his oral chemo and following the timed eating plan (so that the chemo is delivered to an empty stomach) like a real trooper. Dad's weak and sleeping more than his usual 17 hours a day, but he is trooping right along. I am praying that he he is the 50% of people for whom oral chemo will effective. I don't know how I'd be about taking my medicine if those were my odds. I suppose it easier to do that kind of thing when you only focus on yourself, but I know that if I had to be on that schedule it would be a disaster.
And I am not even considering that inconvenient fact that I eat/nosh/snack/binge all through the day pretty much every day just to get myself through. I am thinking purely of being on schedule. My boss out of the blue asked me how the binge thing was working for me the other day and I I told her that even though it wasn't working I was seemingly determined to keep on eating that way. I suppose eventually I won't be able to walk anymore if I keep gaining all this weight and then maybe no one will bring me cartons of ice cream and I'll take some of the weight off again. You know, I'll be back down to walking weight.
Last year I was among the first to sign up for NaBloMeDown and I really do want to keep things as normal as possible around here and really do want to participate except this year I am only pretending to be normal and in reality am very close to that proverbial edge. I think I'll signup anyway and see if I can just do it. I loved that pink elephant thing. (was it pink? it was an elephant right?) I figure if I go back to the iphone posting torture of last summer I can at least throw down a few lines here and there. Right? I am going to try to summon the funny side for more of November. She is still around and recognizing the funny in life, like Matt's interpretation of the scenario which enabled the brand new and somewhat inept possibly reality challenged limp wristed crossing guard becoming a crossing guard. Matt conjured up this image of a super friendly, yet dim witted, sort of guy who liked to wave (somewhat frantically) at the people on the street. Matt imagines that the waving guy thinks he has been selected to get paid to stand in the middle of the road and frantically wave "Hello", which he would have done for free anyway because he simply loves to wave "hello", to all the cars passing by. And now the waving man is so incredibly happy, his waving talents are on display for all to see. But he's not sure why he has to hold a stop sign or wear an orange jacket. (You know my babes are totally gonna get that joke because you kind of have to see this guy to believe that the local cops would actually pay him to disrupt traffic the special (needs) way he does!)
So, I am going to register for NaBloBloBloYourBoatGentlyDownTheStream as soon as I get back from little sis's house. Tomorrow. We are taking the kids up to meet their new cousin. And see utopia, whose progress has been painfully slow. But there has been progress, and in the scheme of things, I can't muster enough energy to give the contractor a hard time. So at least there has been progress. And a new baby, can't forget about him. He's really cute.
First thing I did after dropping the kids off this morning was stop by grandma at the rehab where the wicked witch of the OFH made grandma go
to cover her scrawny ass so that grandma would be stronger and not at risk for falling when she came back to live "independently". What a place. First smell to greet me right in the door is the same bus disinfectant that used to make me nauseous on Greyhound buses in the 1970's. Next there is a curious mixture of urine and rotting carpet. Followed by the fragrant bouquet of indistinguishable rehab food. Not a pleasant sensation folks. Grandma was dressed and up eating her breakfast. I walked in with mom and grandma asked "What the hell am I doing here?" she didn't know where she was or how she had gotten there. She didn't seem to know she had been in the hospital for the past four days either. She just wanted to go home and all I wanted to do was toss her into the truck and peel out of that stinky driveway and take her back to the OFH. But I didn't. I met the physical therapist and spoke to the main nurse there. All the staff people were unbelievably nice. Even the guy pushing the maintenance cart gave me a big warm smile and an enthusiastic "Good morning!" It was creepy, like they were trying hard to hide their cannibalism or something. Kind of like the big smiling helpful teenaged costumed kids at Disney World. You know they get off from work and shoot chipmunks or something.
Spent the rest of the morning at the hospital with mom getting her pre-surgical check up and EKG. I've seen so many of those lately that I could tell it was fine from across the room. Mom will have her port turning procedure on Monday and I am wondering, since everything else so far has been much more of an ordeal than we were led to believe, just how "minor" this is really going to turn out to be.
We got back from the hospital around 1 and longing for some babe time, I thought that maybe if the babes were having a very leisurely lunch I could catch the tale end of it. No such lunch luck, but Kitten and B being either suckers for punishment or really (and more likely) very good friends offered to meet me at the Bucks and this where I had my first melt down of the day. After the bucks I grabbed some rental
video's (showing my age!) dvd's, a couple of bribery frozen cokes for the kids and headed over to school pickup.
Sitting in the car I phoned the rehab physical therapist who had evaluated grandma that morning, half expecting her to say that grandma didn't belong in the land of the wheel chair bound zombies at the rehab and she shocked me by saying that grandma needed to learn how to use a walker properly. Grandma was walking too fast! She was also sitting too fast, as if (shock) she trusted that the seat was going to be right under her! The nerve! I knew grandma was a trouble maker! Then the therapist said the words that made me know for sure that there is some major insurance fraud corruption going on out there in the wonderful world of elder care. I asked how long grandma would need to be at the rehab (again expecting to hear 3 or 4 days) and the rehab lady therapist said "Typically patients stay for about 4 WEEKS." I almost fell to the floor. No fucking way freakazoid.
The Goddess called me just as I approached the designated pick up area for Josh and hearing her sweet caring voice set me off on another meltdown. Seriously, I couldn't even choke out a single word.
I picked up the kids and then went back to the rehab to give grandma a reprieve and bring her home for a few hours. Grandma got a new roomie. So far it appears grandma's new roomie is a magical snoring skeleton. Nice!
Somewhere in between picking grandma up and dropping her off I may have had a phone conversation with the wicked witch of the OFH
yelled at and hung up on the heavily accented idiot OFH director of nursing. Theoretically if I did those things, It might have happened right after I explained to her that grandma will not be staying at that dreadful rehab with the night of the living dead other patients for more than a coupe of days. I screamed calmly let her know that I am all for rehab and a stronger 95 year old and that grandma would soon be getting her rehab at the OFH. They are set up for that and will be accommodating her. The witch nursing director, likes to hear her heavily accented self speak, even after I shouted calmly let her know that this was a listening exercise for her. She kept right on talking so I just hung up the phone. Hopefully the OFH still likes that timely check I send in every month and won't try to gulp kick grandma out because I was all up the witch's ass insistent tonight. Like I need to worry about this!
Grandma spent the evening and dinner with us and it near about killed me to have to bring her back to the rehab and the still snoring skeleton. Poor grandma just wants to go home to the OFH.
Regarding family: Grandma did not have a heart attack. Her heart enzymes were just fine. However, she did have a small UTI as well as pancreatitis which both might be due to her constant state of dehydration. (Not into beverages, she prefers to pee less) This would happen to be the very same state of dehydration that I have told anyone and everyone at the OFH about every chance I get, pleading with them to encourage her to drink.
The unreasonable asshole physical therapist at the hospital decided that grandma needed some physical therapy before returning to the OFH and the "I have to cover my ass no matter how disruptive it is to the resident" head of nursing the OFH decided it was necessary as well. They have me over a barrel and now poor grandma, in all her general confusion was transferred to another facility where she who hates everything resembling exercise will endure not one but two one hour sessions of physical therapy a day in order to earn her ticket back into the OFH. I'm ready to rip some OFH administrators into shreds. If I didn't need them so damned much I'd consider hiring a lawyer since this is grandma's 3rd unwarranted trip to the ER. Everytime a new nurse comes on board she takes one look at grandma freaking over something and dials 911. It's getting pretty old.
Mom endured another round of chemo today, but there is bad news. The one functioning port that they have been struggling to use is blocked and now Mom has to have a little surgery to untwist the other as of now unusable port for the rest of her treatment. The woman can not catch a break. We met three other patients with her rare cancer today. They all just happened to show up at the specialist on the same day. One in particular touched my heart. She is only 30 and was originally misdiagnosed in 2000. Because of all the wasted time, she is only a few weeks ahead of my mom in this surgery/chemo process. I think I am going to try to find her on the internet. Thank goodness for the internet.
Dad is generally weak and pretty much sleeps 20 hours a day. He says he is nauseous in the mornings and also suffering from reflux, which he refuses to take anything for. No one around here is eating much of anything but I keep buying it all just in case. I don't know how he does it, all the sleeping, but I do get jealous from time to time. I am tired right down to my bones.
My sports editor gave it to me again today. He sent me to a tennis game that was postponed until next week. I am fit to be tied. I can't take the guy. I was so angry that I avoided him at a subsequent soccer game. Also, he smells and life is too short, I see, to stand next to smelly people.
I'm losing patience with the entire world right around now and would like to wear a big sign with all my troubles on it. This way, I imagine, everyone else would just step aside and let me do what I have to do. Also, people won't stop asking me "How are things going?" and questions like that, even though I keep crying and asking them not to ask me that.
So once and for all, for the record: THINGS STILL SUCK!!!!
When I went to visit lil sis yesterday I brought mom and dad with me. And I left them there at lil sis’s house. They are staying for two whole nights. The first night didn’t count because I didn’t arrive home from lil sis’s until after 8 and I hadn’t seen the kids all day and I was kind of exhausted and yet still all buzzed and jazzed up on the bucks double expresso with cream shot that I consumed in order to stay awake home on the endless ride home.
So last night completely didn’t count towards me getting a break. But tonight was so going to count. I was going to create the perfect in home break atmosphere tonight. Tonight I was going to enjoy the quietude of no deaf senior citizens planted in front of my den TV. I was going to have an all family harmony evening filled with love and cooperation and brotherhood and motherhood and I was going to go to bed refreshed and happy. Until my cell phone rang at 6:50 this evening and the NEW nurse at the OFH tells me that the ambulance crew has just loaded grandma into the bus and are on their way to the hospital. The NEW nurse tells me that grandma was short of breath and complaining of pain radiating down her left arm and a sharp pain in her back.
I get to the hospital and the first thing grandma, who is sitting up in the bed looking as fine as can be, says is that she has no idea why they brought her to the hospital. As far as I can tell from piecing together the fragments that slowly reveal themselves in grandma’s tale, grandma couldn’t find the key to her apartment, had her usual anxiety attack and the nurse freaked and called 911. I don’t think there was ever any radiating pain or pain in her back. I think the nurse was covering for herself there. And so goes another evening that I didn’t get to spend basking in the love that is my nuclear family, but instead in the ER hoping that the sniffling, wheezing, and coughing doctor who was assigned to my grandmother was not contagious
You might recall that as kids lil sis were shipped off to sleep away camp every single summer. The first year we went to sleep away I was 8 and lil sis was 6. That was our summertime destination for almost a decade. At sleep away camp getting mail was a BIG deal. I’d desperately write to every friend and relative that I had in attempt to get word back. Hearing my name called at mail call was thrill number one and but then savoring the news from the outside world was the real cherry on top. I loved the mail from friends the best. They were doing things I could relate to. Their letters made me laugh and got me all envious and left me wanting more.
Letters from my mom were nice, because they counted towards eliminating the roll call “will my name be called today” anxiety but in truth they were pretty boring. Mom would chronicle her search for the right shade of mauve shoes, or mention which dinner dance she had attended at the country club, how she missed us and always how quiet the house was without us there. Nothing I could or wanted to relate to. Then she’d sign the letters “Love, Mom and Dad” which bugged me because I knew that Dad had no part in the letter writing process.
Once, back at sleep away camp, when I was about 10 a letter unexpectedly came from my Dad. It was hand written on the yellow legal pad paper that I still associate with him today and it was a whole glorious page long. I don’t remember at all what he wrote but I remember it being a fantastic letter. I remember marveling at what an entertaining and enjoyable letter my dad could write. I savored the letter reading it over and over. Dad, I felt, had been holding out on me the other summers of mom only correspondence! I wanted more. I surely immediately wrote him right back and begged for more. But he never wrote another letter. In all the other years there was never another letter. I would make heart felt pleas for letters and tell him how I much his letter lifted my spirits and meant to me, but he didn’t believe he could write a good letter and never wrote another one. I really wish I had the original.
Needless to say, dad is not a creative spirit. He is a good man, a real mensch, right down the very core of his being. Every single cell in this guy’s body has a good intention to back it right up, but in the creative expression department, he got the short stick. Or at least that is what he believes and carries with him.
Since both of my parents aren’t feeling well, and they aren’t particularly aggressive about spending quality time with the kids in the first place, I find myself pushing the kids towards them in all sorts of ways. Also, and obviously, I want to milk every second for all I can get since they both don’t have very long left on this earth.
When Josh beings home a book to read for his first grade homework I’ll suggest he plop down next to my mother and read it to her. Dad thinks that the Discovery Channel is fascinating so I suggest that he and Evan sit down together and share some tv time. Matt, who spends a great deal of his teenaged time in his own room has been officially put on notice that he needs to bring his teenaged butt down to the den where he can be seen and enjoyed by his grandparents.
When I came home yesterday afternoon, Matt was voluntarily sequestered in his room, Josh was at a Halloween party (there are mothers out there way braver than me) and Evan was at a friend’s house. Mom was sleeping. I saw dad sitting on the couch by himself cutting out newspaper headlines. I asked dad whom he was sending a ransom note to, and he showed me that he had noticed Josh’s name in a headline and was planning on making up some headlines with it. I got busy and didn’t notice what was going on, but when Josh came home from the party dad presented Josh with a book of headlines, zeroxed on his personal fax machine, all about Josh. Josh was so excited he made a cover page and then illustrated each headline. The whole thing was so unexpected and so deliciously special. I felt like I was re-experiencing the miracle of the letter and you know that this time that book is going into the KEEP FOREVER files.
Before labor she thought they might call him Sam. At ten centimeters for a couple of hours with no downward progress, when he didn't seem to want to stop, drop, and get the hell out of her uterus she thought maybe Devil, El Diablo, or even Damien. After only two minutes of pushing him into his final descent she decided to go with Sam after all.
But you should know, my brand new baby nephew Sam, didn't drop because his little baby fist was raised up by his little baby face. And this is how he made his grand entrance. Lil sis's OB said (as my brand new nephew little baby Sam emerged) "Look he's waving at me!" cause his hand came out right next to his face, but I know the truth, he was raising his fist in an act of defiance. No one was going to tell him when it was time to get out and he wasn't going to go just yet. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree!
Mazel Tov Lil Sis! And good luck!