Friday, August 10, 2018

Grub #32

Gilbert has been dead 32 years and tonight we celebrated the 31st "Gala reinterrment of Uncle Buddy," the dinner which began the year after his death with four of us getting together to commemorate the first anniversary, expanded over the years to include as many as 20 or more people (a mistake) and for the last 20 years or so has just been the devoted 9:  4 actors, 2 techies, a musician, a dresser, and me.  The group has seen death and illness but we have remained intact and these are some of my closest friends, though I only see them once a year.  As we are all aging and each has his or her own "organ recital" each year, you never know when this will be the last dinner for someone.  Our oldest is 80 and she is no longer able to spend the whole evening chit chatting, so leaves early.

Mezzo Soprano, Jeanne Ziaja was the first to leave, dying of a heart attack, all too soon and at a much too young age.  Her husband, the 10' tall baritone John continued to join us until health problems kept him housebound.  Then we lost Adrian MacNamara, who was an actor and also the first president of the Lamplighters.  He served as president for many years.  His wife Connie came for a year or two after Adrian's death, but it was a long drive for her.  Then Will Connolly, one of Gilbert's best friends, had the audacity to die.  A big spark left with him and he is still sorely missed, especially because he was the organizer of the event year after year. 

The wonderful actress Marie Clyde, who was one of the earliest Lamplighters and who had been Gilbert's friend and shared a house with him for many years, just gradually stopped coming.  So now we are 9.

The drive down was through haze and smoke since there are so many fires burning in California right now.  Fortunately none close to us.

But once we hit the San Francisco Bay area it was clear and cool.

That little finger of fog that will envelope the bridge by sundown was just starting to roll in.
We got to the Presidio Social Club nearly an hour early, but Jill was already sipping a cocktail at the bar and Roger was waiting out in his car, so we went to our table to await the others.

The Presidio Social Club was one part of the Army installment when the Presidio was a working base, so it's nothing to look at from the outside.

But inside it has the look, ambience, service and prices of the 5 star restaurant.

Our table was over by the window in the back

I wish the food matched the decor and the attentive staff, but it just has always been sort of lackluster for me.  Of course, my special of the day, shrimp scampi, was pretty tasty.

Many years ago, we used to retire to someone's home to keep the evening going long into the night, but none of us is up to that now, so when dinner was finished we said goodbye and headed back across the Golden Gate, through the fog, which was now covering the whole city.

A finger of fog rolling down Mt Tamalpais in Marin county was our farewell to fog and cool weather.

And so it's over for another year, but I feel all warm and fuzzy inside, having spent another evening with our friends.  I say it every year...Gilbert would be amazed that we have kept this tradition going for 31 years.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

This and That

So Walt went to the Urologist yesterday but they made the appontment wrong.  He was supposed to come in the morning to have the catheter removed and then return in the afternoon to check to see how his bladder has handled not having a catheter.  They had to reschedule so he's now due for his appointment next week.

I didn't get to my blood draw either since it was so late by the time he got back from Kaiser I decided to just wait until today to get it done.  Today Walt is working and when he gets home we will get the blood draw done.  I sure hope the numbers go down this week, though I have no visible signs of improvement.  I think I'm just getting used to dealing with non-functioning limbs, and if it's up to Ned, I will be getting all the exercise I can stand to make things better.

*  *  *  *
I took one of those tests on Facebook today, checking which words I used most often in 2018.  The results are not surprising, but nonetheless depressing.

It's depressing when I realize that I try very hard NOT to use the word "Trump" but to use "#45" instead.  They don't count numbers, I guess.  It would be interesting to see how this changes if "#45" is included in the tally.  or not.  It would obviously be even more depressing!

 *  *  *  *

Last night I asked Walt how he would feel about Chinese food.

"If  you want to cook it, I'll eat it," he responded, gracefully.

Then I told him that I meant how would he feel about going out to BUY some Chinese food to bring home, which he also did just as gracefully.  I can cook Chinese food, but it just nevertastes as good as that from a restaurant that speciaizes in it.  And it was worth it -- Chow mein, fried rice, chicken with mushrooms, and honey walnut shrimp.  Probably enough to put the hair of any native Chinese person on edge, but it sure tasted delicious, and just what the doctor ordered.

*  *  *  *

I have finished the random journal I was making for Swap Bot.  T his swap was ridiculous, since the date to sign up was September 30 and your books have to be sent by October 13.  The swap was posted in June, I believe.  I started working on it when I got inspired an I actually finished it a week ago, and still don't know who my partner is.  But I sure had fun working on it.  It's also twice as long as it was supposed to be (it's about 80 pages long)

This was one of my favorite pages.  The opposite page has pictures from Bloodsource, offering donors free movie tickets for donating.  But it seemed rather plain to me until  figured out that the used blood test strips might make an interesting decorating and I was  tickled at how they looked across the flyer here.

This was also fun to do, with paper dolls for Nelson Mandella, Berne Sanders, the Dalai Lama and the Supreme Court.

And I really liked this page

It's all related to reading and I found the baby in a Parenting magazine I found at Kaiser

Now that this book is finished, I have started on the next, due September 7.  At least this time I already know who my partner is, unlike the previous swap.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Enforcer

Wow.  2:30 p.m. and I'm just starting this entry--and it's the one for today, not for tomorrow.  Usually if I'm writing FTW at 2:30 it's the one to be posted for tomorrow.

Last night was one of those insomnia-horrible nights.  Finally at 6 a.m., after a night of crying for being so sleepy and so unable to get to sleep I decided to go into the couch, even though I wasn't sure I could get off the couch, but figured it was late enough that if I got paralyzed on the couch, as I have before, it wasn't that long before Walt would be up.

So, Linus-like, I trailed my blanket along behind me so I could cocoon under it and finally sleep, sat on the couch, punched my pillow into a nice soft lump, laid my head on it, and realized there was no way I could lift my legs to the couch.  I tried several things, but they resolutely refused to budge.  I thought of sleeping with just half my body on the couch but realized my muscles would really rebel at that when I woke up, so I got up and went back to the recliner again and, finally, slept for about an hour.

When I woke up, though, I realized I had to finish a review and get it to the paper by noon.  Walt was going to take me to the lab to get my blood test, but I told him I would have to finish the review first.  It was a good review and I had fun writing it, but it was 11:30 before I got it sent off to the paper.

Ned was coming to pick Walt up to take him to his Urology appointment in Vacaville (we are all appointments, all the time around here!) and I had this feeling that the lab at Kaiser in Davis closed over lunch time so thought it was too late to go and I had it in my head that his appointment was at 2 and knew that if we waited until afternoon, he would not be home in time to meet Ned, so I suggested that we either went when he got home from his appointment or go tomorrow morning -- I just have to have a weekly blood test and a day or two late isn't going to make that much difference.

But back to yesterday, Ned, the enforcer, arrived around 10 or 11 or so.  He had been to the senior center where, we heard, you could borrow walkers.  Turns out this is where people take their equipment of old age when they are no longer needed and they have such a surplus that when Ned asked how long he could keep something, they told hi forever.  So I now have two free walkers, one the metal kind that you put tennis balls on and one the kind with a seat on it.

He informed me that he had brought my spa bag and that we would take the walker, go to Atria to visit my mother and to get me a shower.  He said that he would not take me to the side door, but to the front so that I would have to walk the entire hallway because I needed the exercise.

I found out that it was MUCH easier to walk the hall with the wheeled walker and I didn't have to stop at all.  My mother was in her room, sound asleep, flat on her back, which was unusual for her.  She usually sleeps under covers, curled up.  She looked like she was laid out, but she was breathing.  

While she slept, Ned set e up in the bathroom for a shower, and left me to my own devices.  more difficult this time than last time because last time my legs worked.  But the job got done and the aide who came in to empty the garbage was definitely surprised to find me there dressing.  It was good, though, because she was able to help me get my legs in my pants.  I swear, I'm going to move in with my mother any day now!

It was a relatively good day for her, meaning she woke up and was alert and talkative, if making no sense, but she smiled and reacted appropriately and we had a good time with her.

When we got home, Walt's brother was here visiting, but he and Ned left soon because we all hoped to catch Jeri's live streaming concert from Berklee College of Music.  I thought this was her personal concert, which she does with a pianist friend of hers, but it was her musical theater students doing a concert version of Jekyll and Hyde, with Jeri the orchestra conductor

Ever the mom, I sat at my computer hitting "print screen" from time to time when the conductor showed.  I was tickled to get this shot.

As a critic, I was mentally comparing the performances with the full show we had seen here in Davis recently.  The kids did a good job and one can certainly see how much emotion they put into their performances.

So the day ended.  As "night" arrives these days, I hate it, knowing that I have several hours of trying to sleep ahead of me.  Maybe tonight will be better....

In the meantime, The Enforcer is going to make sure that I get my exercises done, that I have the equipment to make life easier, and I hate him for it because I'm, at heart, lazy , but love him for it because if I'm ever going to get over this "whatever it is it will be because Ned is so diligent and so loving.

Monday, August 6, 2018

With a Bang AND a Whimper

Age doesn't creep up on you slowly.  Sometimes it just hits you over the head and BAM you're old.

Last night I fell again.

Oh it was lovely.  Maybe not as dramatic as the last two falls but it had a better audience.

We were leaving the Woodland Opera House after seeing a fantastic production of Shrek.  I was pleased that I was able to get to my feet after the show with minimal difficulty (Walt pointed out it was much easier when my pants weren't falling down!)

To leave the opera house, you either climb up all the kinda small stairs from the orchestra to get to the elevator or you climb up 3-4 bigger stairs to get to outside and then downstairs with a nice hand railing.  Down stairs is not a problem.

I waited until the theater was almost empty and then headed up the 3-4 stairs.  I had my cane in one hand, a nice banister in the other, and Walt behind me.  I made it up the first two or three steps and then my foot wouldn't go high enough to go up the last step and there I was falling in slow motion, surrounded by other members of the audience trying to get out, and all grabbing at me, breaking my fall.

At least they could have given me a round of applause.

It only took 2 or 3 people to get me up this time, compared to the 4 it has taken before (I forgot to mention that at Red Lobster, I hadn't fallen, but I needed the assistance of a waiter to get out of the booth we were sitting in).

No harm, no foul, and going back to the car was easy -- it was even easy getting into the car, since the door was at the curb level so that I only had to step down and not up.  I was aware that I was very shaky though, and remained shaky for an hour or so after we got home.

In the morning, I woke up, got up out of the recliner and took a step toward the hall, holding onto my cane, and my other knee nearly gave out.  It was just like after the first fall I took.  I must have twisted the knee in the fall.  I wasn't sure I could make it down the hall and fortunately, as I passed the kitchen, my old cane was there and with the help of two canes and lots of wincing, I made it to the bathroom.

I was afraid I would not be able to get off of the toilet, and it was more difficult than usual, but I was able to do it.

In my slow progression back to the recliner, I made the decision that the time has come to get a medical alert button.  If I'm here with Walt, that's OK.  If I am alone, and I fall, there is no way I can get back up again.

Thanks to the wonderful people on Facebook, I had suggestions that ranged from getting a knee replacement to getting Amazon's Alexa that would call 911 for me, to a bunch of other things that wouldn't work for my situation, but I did get a couple of workable suggestions which I will check out tomorrow.

I also have suggestions for walkers, because I agree it's time for a walker.

Just a few weeks ago I was fairly mobile and now it's weekly blood tests, legs that won't work, medic alert, walker, stool to sit on when I cook, and lord knows what else.  I'm suddenly old, guys!  My appetite has also decreased so much that I am afraid I am not getting enough nutrients and have started drinking Boost once a day.

I don't think I've seen my mother in 3 weeks and I can't even think of walking the hall to see her right now.  I'm grateful just to make it to the bathroom.  Which is another issue.  Depending on whether this new knee thing is temporary or not, I may have to consider a raised bathroom seat, which I hate the idea of, but if it's that or sitting on the toilet until Walt passes by, that may be a necessity.

And then there is Walt who still has his catheter in.  I feel like we have become our own private medical center.  His brother is coming to visit tomorrow -- which he has never done on his own, I don't believe!  I feel like he's making a hospital visit.  Maybe he'll bring chocolate.

I think all these falls are also affecting me mentally.  I sat here at the computer for half an hour very frustrated because Berklee was supposed to broadcast Jeri's annual concert at 5 p.m. our time and it wasn't coming on.  I didn't know why but was very disappointed that I would miss it.  It wasn't until Walt came downstairs to show me what the screen I was looking at was saying that I realized the concert is MONDAY and today is SUNDAY.

I think I'll go back to sleep now.

Saturday, August 4, 2018


I'm back!  Didja miss me?  Nothing had really happened the day before except that Walt went to see his doctor in the morning, and learned that everything seemed fine and his instructions were good.  Then in the afternoon, Ned took him to his surgeon appointment and he will have hernia surgery next month.  The doctor appointment was here in Davis, so he was able to drive himself, but I was glad Ned was available to drive him to the surgeon's office.  Also just kind of  ... I dunno ... heartwarming to see Ned taking care of his Dad.

Yesterday, continuing our tour of doctors' offices, it was my turn to go to the eye doctor in Sacramento (about the same distance from Davis in the opposite direction from the surgeon's office.  Walt drove, so I guess he really could have driven to the surgeon's office too, but it was nice to have Ned to ask questions Walt might forget to ask.

Anyway, this was my annual exam. I actually never got around to it last year.  With diabetes, I'm supposed to have an eye exam yearly and I figured I could use a stronger prescription by now.
I was first seen by the doctor's assistant, a recent graduate who seemed very efficient and very thorough, though she skipped the classes on patient interaction.  She always spoke to me with her back  turned and in a very low voice.  I had forgotten to wear my hearing aids.  You'd think that after 2 or 3...or 5 or 6....requests to repeat what she aid she would automatically speak louder, but she never did.

Equipment is different from 2 years ago.  Instead of going through endless "this or that" lenses, she picked out2, did a this or that and that was it.  She also spent a lot of time on the computer getting all of her observations recorded.  While she did that, I was looking at the eye chart, seeing how many words I could make out of the visible letters!

The doctor came in, checked his assistant's notes, did a cursory exam, happily said that my eyes show that my blood sugar is in good control and wrote me a "tweaked" prescription for glasses.
Next off to optometry to get glasses.  There will be no surprise when they come...I am getting exactly the same frames.  I had my choice of what I have now (blue) or in brown.  I am not a big fan of brown, so I went with what I have now.  There was a similar pair that had kind of a pattern on it, which I kind of liked, but not $70 more worth.  The woman helping me was sharply efficient and looked like she was suckng a lemon the whole time.  But the order got made and they will be delivered to the Davis office.

Then came the fun.

I have been watching Red Lobster commercials for their crab fest, which is going on now.  I know there is a Red Lobster near Kaiser ('cause I've eaten there several times when I was indulging myself!).  I convinced Walt we should go there for lunch.

In truth, the prices have increased significantly from last time I indulged myself, but oh so good!  I had the crabfest combo (the middle picture) and gave some of the legs to Walt, who ordered crab linguini.  We both ate more than our fill and were able to bring home enough leftovers for dinner tonight, so all things considered, the prices weren't all that bad.

I actually ate more than I thought I could. What I like about the combo is that is has lots of Dungeness crab, along with that delicious Alaskan King crab.

I left a very happy camper.

We both came home and took naps, getting up in time for the evening's show, The Twelve Huntsmen by Acme Theater Company, Davis' oldest theater company.  Jeri was one of the founders, around 35 years ago.  This show was written by an Acme alum who graduated in 2002 and directed by a woman who had been in Acme with Jeri and now works in theater in New York.  (When she came to meet me at intermission and I saw this middle aged woman with more grey hair than I have, I realized how old Jeri really is....she she has no visible grey hair and of course is still our "little girl.")

Anyway, it was a nice, full day.  Everybody is healthy, and we will have crab for dinner tonight!  Best of all, I had a good night's sleep.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Walt's Busy Day

I actually slept pretty well last night.  I dozed off early and did my usual seep-wake cycle all night and woke up finally at 3:30 or so, but that was after several hours of sleep and I felt good.  I got up at 4 and wrote Funny the World and then snuck back to the recliner, where I went to sleep for another couple of hours.  I was vaguely aware of Walt making coffee, but he was not around when I finally woke up.

When he finally appeared, he seemed uneasy and finally admitted that he had a full bladder, but was unable to urinate.  He was starting to be in great pain.

I told him to call the Kaiser advice nurse, who advised him to go to the emergency room.

Now the problem is that the emergency room is in Vacaville, about 20 miles away....and I can't drive.  He himself could barely sit, let alone drive.  I knew Ned was busy helping a friend today, but I called him and he did not answer.  I left a text message. 

What to do?

I decided to take a chance on our friend Jessica, who works with old people and who has offered many times to help us if we ever needed her.  Bless her she said "I'll be there in 7 minutes" ... and she was.

I told her she could just drop him off and that I was sure Ned would be able to pick him up later, but she stayed with him until 1:30 and was able to fire off a text storm letting me know what was going on at each step of the process.  I don't think I've exchanged so many texts since i got my cell phone!
Best for Walt was that they catheterized him and removed roughly 3-1/2 cups of urine.  They left the catheter in place and will remove it tomorrow, when he returns (Ned will drive him then).

He meets with a surgeon tomorrow.  He was diagnosed with a hernia in 2010 but it was not causing problems and the doctor felt he could let it go for awhile.  Apparently the ER doc guesstimates that the hernia was blocking his urine flow and it may finally be time to repair the hernia.

Things do not move quickly in the ER and Jessica finally had to leave, but Marta drove down from Sacramento and relieved her.  It was she who brought Walt home.  Marta is now officially a manager and so she managed his return very efficiently!  He has sheaves of paper, bottles of pills, bags for his catheter, and other stuff.  He retired upstairs and I suspect took a much needed nap.

Polly, as always, by his side

In the meantime, Atria called and said that my mother had scratched the skin next to her eye and got blood on her pillow and that she would need a new pillow.  When I asked why they couldn't just wash the blood out, I was told that they are not permitted to wash anything with blood on it.

Obviously there was no way we were going to be able to get a pillow for a few days.  I certainly can't drive one over and Walt can't now either, but the manager of Memory Care offered to go and buy a pillow and just bill her.  I said that would be fine.

As for ME, I'm feeling better tonight, but the knee I twisted when I fell awhile ago flared up and I could barely stand on it.  But keeping it elevated and rested all day, as well as a cold compress on it, seems to have helped somewhat.

We are a real pair tonight, that's for sure.

At least Polly seems to be doing all right!  So far.