Wednesday, September 19, 2018 last Finished

Walt is now hernia-less and moving gingerly, but has survived the long nervously awaited ordeal and is on the road to recovery.

It was a long day.  Things medical do not move quickly!  He was told to be there by 8:30.  Ned arrived here around 7 and we packed up to head to Vacaville.  Norm and Alice Nan were waiting for us in the ambulatory surgery waiting room when we arrived  She had driven up to Santa Barbara to Norm's house in Petaluma and the two of the had driven up together.

Walt checked in and we sat down to wait to be called.  Walt read over the instructions they gave him.

An hour or so later, they called him back, told us they'd do the prep, which would take about half an hour, and then we could go back and be with him. 

They have this very efficient method of keeping track of your loved one.  Each patient is given a number and the numbers are displayed along with the matching color.  The color tells you were they are in the process.  At any time you can check to see what is going on, but at the same time, nobody's privacy is being violated.  And at the same time it keeps the staff from being bombarded with questions.

We were in the "Patient in the pre-op holding area" for an inordinately long time.

It was actually more like 45 minutes before they let us in, 2 at a time.  And we sat chatting with Walt and texting with the ones who were still in the waiting room.  At one point I texted to Alice Nan that we needed her because we were running out of topics of conversation (something she never does).

It took forever before they finally took him into the operating area and the doctor told us it would be about an hour before the surgery was finished and another half an hour in the recovery room before they would call us to come and be with him again.  We went off to lunch at the Black Oak diner, which we have passed by on the freeway for literally 45 years or more and had never visited.  Our lunch was just arriving when the doctor called to let us know that surgery had gone well, and we were on our way back to Kaiser when the nurses called to say he was ready for visitors.

We found him not the least groggy and sitting up watching TV.

Other than incisional pain he seemed to be just fine, though Alice Nan was very solicitous.

Again, it took an inordinately long time before they were ready to release him, while Ned ran off to the pharmacy to get his prescription filled.  Then we went to get the car(s) while the nurses got him in a wheelchair to meet us downstairs.

We were working on a sort of time line.  Jeri's concert at Berklee was being streamed at 4 p.m. and though it would also be archived so we could see it later, we were hoping to catch it live.  We got home at 3:30 and Ned tried to get the concert on our smart TV, but our smart TV, working with only wifi, was dumb and though he could get the page, he never could get the concert to come on.  I could get it on my computer, but my speakers have not worked in years, so I have to use earphones and thus could not share at least the sound with them.  But I loved it and will write about it tomorrow.  The others were watching it on Norm's TV in Petaluma.

Ned cooked dinner for us before Jeopardy came on and then our wonderful friend Nancianne stopped by with dinner as well.  We watched America's Got Talent and then Ned and Walt went off to sleep after a long day.  Ned expected to be up early, though I have been awake since 4, it's now 7 and still no sign of him.  I'm not surprised he was exhausted after his long day taking care of both of his parents yesterday!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Cuddle Corner

Walt's cousin and his wife have a guest bedroom in their basement which is known as "cuddle corner" because it is where they used to cuddle and read to their children, both of whom are married with their own kids now.

But cuddle corner remains the place where guests sleep and it is appropriately named.

These days I'm feeling like I have my own cuddle corner.  Since I got the new recliner my new favorite thing to do is cuddle down, go to sleep, wake up around 6 or so, get up, have my morning banana and ice water, and then snuggle down again, perhaps to watch TV, but almost certainly to fall back asleep.  I slept through the entire Today Show today and woke up at 9 a.m.

Not quite sure how to handle this newfound "rested" me.  But I like it.

Ned arrived as I got a phone call from someone who just needed to rant...and it was a glorious rant.  Sometimes you have to feel that it's just not your day ... or week.

One part of the rant included getting a $50 parking ticket.  Hearing that, Ned had his own rant saying he had jut received a $75 parking ticket for parking in a loading zone while he was trying to unload some boxes of books at the library.  Nobody does righteous indignation better than Ned and he came up against a police officer who does his own power trip better than most and I guess briefly it was not pretty.  I told Ned that if he had been black, he probably would have been shot -- and immediately felt guilty for feeing that way, but so many innocent confrontations like this, getting out of hand, have turned fatal for people of color that I couldn't help it.

We had a nice visit with Ned.  One thing Ned and I have in common is media.  He has recommended lots of good movies and TV shows to me and we watch several of the same shows and are able to compare notes.  Since he knows "Breaking Bad" backwards and forwards, I rely on him to explain Better Call Saul to me each week.

I was able to tell him about seeing Walter White's grave on a TV program last night.

I was surprised to learn that White was born...and died...on my mother's birthday.

I am amazed at how popular Breaking Bad is this long after its ending, though I suppose I should not be surprised.  I actually bought Ned a book a couple of years ago, written by a guy who is a member of the Davis Musical Theater Company.  It's a map and description of every set where a scene in the show takes place.  Ned was thrilled.

Apparently the folks who live in the house that was supposed to be Walter White's are really fed up with tourists stopping by to take a picture of their house!

Ned is particularly pleased today because his latest album "Shh" by "Nasty Pussy" was released on the internet today.  I haven't heard it yet, but it's all anti-Trump pieces and I'm betting there might be a naughty word or two in it.

Anyway, today is a quiet day, a good one for resting in cuddle corner and maybe even napping some more before we go to the theater tonight.  Tonight we have "handicapped seating," which is at the back of the theater, instead of my favorite orchestra tickets down close.  Not happy about that, but the chances of my falling again are minor.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

47 Years

So while all the country is concerned with Hurricane Florence and its potential destruction in the Carolinas, our president is busy trying to convince us that the 3000 number of deaths in Puerto Rico is just a plot by the dems to discredit the "incredible job" he did on the island.  There should only be a few more than the 67 that he heard when he visited there right after the storm.

In the meantime, with hurricane season starting to get in full swing, he has taken $9 million from FEMA and $20 million from the Coast Guard -- the two most important entities after a hurricane -- to give it to ICE so they can build more barbed wire detention facilities so he can arrest more children.  I hope those of you who are still Trump supporters are happy with yourselves.

I should have written that last instead of first because I'm so angry, I'm now shaking from the frustration of it all.

My sister died 47 years ago today, after lying in a coma (maybe brain dead?) for 7 weeks.  She had been shot by her partner, who first said that she (the partner) had decided to commit suicide and Karen tried to take the gun from her and in the process the gun went off accidentally.

Even someone like me, with all of my knowledge from crime dramas, can figure that shots to her chest and head would not result in a struggle over the gun, but it took her several days before she finally admitted that they had argued and Bernie had shot her.  People ask me what happened to Bernie and all I know was that she spent a year in a medical health facility to assess her ability to handle prison, but I don't know what happened after that.  My mother said she had never seen anyone so devastated by anything as she was.

Karen and I were 4-1/2 years apart (Bri and Lacie are 3-1/2 years apart) and were never close.  She was sports and tailored clothing; I was frills and girly stuff.  I was jealous whenever she decided she liked something I did (like Judy Garland, for example...when I started a scrapbook, she did too.  I was not very nice about it.)  

I'm sure we did things together, but today I don't remember them.  The only "uniting" things we had between us was our fear of our father and our frustrations with his mother ("Hon, like a good girl would you...")

When I went to high school, I chose the smallest Catholic high school in the city because I was shy and it seemed more "safe" for me.  It  was and I excelled during my four years there.
When Karen chose a school, she chose one of the larger school because she didn't want to compete with my "reputation"

In her senior year, she fell in love with a woman and became very secretive.  My mother thought she broke the relationship up, but when Karen moved to her own apartment with a "roommate" she made up a name and the woman was the same one she met in high school. She separated herself from the family for a long time, until she finally admitted who her roommate was. (These were the days before PFLAG and my parents agonized over "what they had done.") 

The roommate eventually broke Karen's heart and she found another partner, Bernie, whom we all loved for bringing Karen back into the family.  But they had their disagreements and Karen finally found another place to live. Bernie, angry, shot her.

Her death became my father's great sorrow and nobody else could share it.  My mother was afraid to cry around him.  He became obsessed with proving Berne's guilt and his anger was kind of the straw that broke the camel's back of my parents' marriage.

That seems like a whole lifetime ago and I truly have never felt great sorrow about her death, other than how much it hurt my mother.  But I do admit that in these Alzheimers years (and in the years when my parents' marriage was falling apart), I am sometimes angry with her for being safely 6 feet under.

I've been an only child far longer than I was a sister

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Cover Girl

"Let me get my camera," she said.  "I want to take your picture."

Lots of people want to take my picture these days.  Pretty soon I'll be able to create a "Bev's butt" poster.

BUT, I woke up this morning and for the very first time in 2-1/2 months had the feeling that this damn wound was actually going to heal eventually.  Last night I dutifully put my Calmoseptine on the wound, and then settled myself in the recliner to find a position where it didn't hurt and then went to sleep.

I slept a full 7 hours (be still my heart) and when I woke up and raised the chair I had this strange sensation --- no stabbing pain.  I carefully got up and walked around.  There was discomfort, but no stabbing pain.

Today was my nurse appointment and they say that yes, it looks like it's healing.  Not good yet, but healing.  They had a conference with the nurse practitioner about whether or not to use silver nitrate again and decided to give it another week, so they put more Calmoseptine on it and sent me on my way, with another appointment next week.

We then went to the lab for me to get my regular CK blood test.  Things are going well enough today that I'm confident my numbers will be lower again.  I managed to get both legs into the car almost completely unaided today, which is a first. I needed a boost the last inch with the right leg once, but otherwise, I got into the car almost unaided.  Now if I can only get through preparing a meal without having to sit down most of the time I'll really feel encouraged.  I did manage to get a frying pan down from the wall by myself, another first, last night.

We ran into a friend of Walt's at the lab.  He had jut come from Kaiser in Vacaville, where he had a procedure done and Walt was telling him about his upcoming hernia surgery.  Be advised, you 50 and 60 year old kids reading this -- this is what happens when you hit 70 and your body starts to fall apart!  Meetings with friends all end up starting out with an organ recital.

As for Walt, he had his last pre-surgery appointment yesterday and got the OK for his surgery next week.  They took a photo of his healing rash which may or may not have been shingles, and sent it to the surgeon who said he would be cutting higher and it would be OK.

What a difference digital photography has made in medicine!  You don't have to go and see doctors all the time, but consultation can be made by photos e-mailed.  

But anyway, he's all set for Tuesday.  His sister (and possibly his brother) will also be here, so it will be a family affair.  The nurses wanted to make my next appointment for Wednesday, but I decided to make it for late morning on Thursday, which gives Walt a day at home post surgery.  Ned will be staying with us for a couple of days and he can run me out to Kaiser.

Maybe, maybe we are seeing a pinpoint of light at the end of the tunnel for both of us.

Last night I watched episode 2 of PBS's The Great American Read, trying to encourage people to read, and promising that in October they will announce which is America's favorite book. (I'm betting "To Kill a Mockingbird.") 

The first episode, a few months ago, introduced the viewing audience to the 100 choices from which to choose, everything from "Charlotte's Web" to "50 Shades of Grey."  Last night they went into more detail on several of the books.  The idea is to encourage everyone to read more.  Later episodes will center on specific genres of books.

As they talked about several of the books, titles I'd known forever but knew little to nothing about, I found myself wanting to read several of them.  I checked out a few on Amazon and discovered that I could get a copy of "Gulliver's Travels" for free, so ordered it and am reading it now.

The program must be working on me, at least.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


No, I haven't fallen again, but this wonderful Bizarro cartoon feels about right.  If I fall and get up, I just have the news to get up to...  Next time I fall into the dog bed, maybe I'll just stay there.
I'm getting tired of this "sick-ish" period Walt and I are going through.  The longer he deals with his condition the more depressed I see him become.  I can't put my finger on how long I've been dealing with this whatever-it-is, but long enough that it's starting to get real old.

It's being more or less housebound.  I can't remember the last time I was in a supermarket, but remember that I got weak and dizzy and could only handle half the store before leaving, so I'm not eager to go back.  This does save us tons of money on impulse purchases, of course.  I've also decided that Home Chef is becoming too much, so I've put it on hiatus indefinitely and we will go back to eating "something with chicken in it" for awhile.

Since I still can't drive, I can't just hop in the car and go somewhere.  Walt or Ned will take me wherever I want to go, but I'm not eager to spend lots of time at Atria and I haven't had lunch, one on one, with a friend in months.  (My friend Kathy and I missed discussion of the whole immigration crisis and separation of parents and kids.)  And watching Walt moving gingerly around the house, I feel bad asking him to drive me somewhere.

We saw one show on Friday and will see one on Saturday, but both of those are local and I have no plans to see a Sacramento show in the foreseeable future.  We decided not to go to the first film of the new IOOF film series because it just seemed too inconvenient for us to get there.

Our memories of this day have always been a bit different from most people's.

We were checking into the obby of a hotel in London, when a woman rushed in and asked if anybody had seen anything the news about "something" happening at the World Trade Center in New York

This hotel got CNN and when we got in our room, I turned the tv on to see what was happening and saw the second tower collapse.

We spent the day glued to the TV until dinner time, when we went out to meet friends (from the US). I wandered the streets of London and the tube and listened vainly for an American accent.  I desperately needed to hear an American accent. At that time it was early enough that there weren't even any headlines in the tabloids.

We met Ellen and her husband at the restaurant and shared information we each had.  A nice couple of British ladies, hearing our accents, came over to our table and offered their condolences.

The next day we changed hotels and only had the BBC, so we didn't have any of the coverage from home and by this time newscasters were concentrating on the Brits who had been killed.  One newscaster said to another that now the Americans would "find out how we've been living for so long."

The cyber cafes were filled with Americans trying to make contact with people at home.
When we moved to Orkney at the end of the week, the news in the small town where we were staying did not make the front page, but was on the back page.

We returned to a country we didn't recognize, with flags flying everywhere and everyone suffering various stages of grief.

It wasn't until we went to New York a few years later and saw the notes saved on a hospital billboard and memorials stuck on a chain link fence that I got a full dose of the emotions that everyone had been feeling for so long.

The country came together in a very special way in the days after 9/11.  It's too bad we forgot that.

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Avid Reader

I have always described myself as an avid reader, ever since my grammar school days when I haunted the school library and walked to the public library, a mile away from my house, chose 6 books, and carried them home (it really was up hill), read them and returned them the following week to get six more.

I read a few classics, but mostly I read whatever passes for the grammar school version of chick lit -- books about animals, books about girls choosing careers to follow, etc.

Several years ago, I started a database to keep track of the books I read.  I've kept it for about 15 years and since 2006 have kept all of my book reviews on line.

While I aim for about sixty books read a year, in most years I read somewhere between 50 and 60 and one year -- I believe it was the year my mother broke her ankle and I both drove back and forth between Davis and San Rafael countless times (eats up those audio books!), but also had lots of spare time while at her house to sit with a cup of coffee and read.  

I read 75 books that year.

It's already September and in 2018 I have just finished my 8th book.

I blame Trump.


These days instead of sitting down and grabbing a book I turn on the television and immerse myself in the news of whatever shocking thing is happening in and around the Trump administration (I just learned from the prez today that Trump got more votes than Hillary two years ago.  Did you know that?).  I have also read big chunks of books about the Trump administration that I start and then drop when the next one comes along, so while the book totals don't represent the totality of what I have actually read, it's still pretty pathetic.

I think about reading a lot, wondering why I am not devouring a book, picking up my kindle, opening it, and then closing it again.

The other day, a used paperback appeared in the mail.  There was no note and while the name of the sender looked vaguely familiar, I couldn't place it.  I checked every place I could think of.  She's not on Facebook, or in my Over 50 and Proud discussion group.  I couldn't find her through Google.  (The following day I received a letter from her, so I remembered who she was.)

But I started reading the book.  It's called "While My Sister Sleeps" and while not a particularly good book, it's an enjoyable bit of chick lit.  The thing my mysterious book giver didn't realize was how it would resonate with me.  Robin, a professional runner, collapses while out on a run and has a massive heart attack, due to an apparently genetic enlarged heart that nobody knows she has.  Because of her fame, she has been the center of the family and it is up to her younger sister to keep the family together.

But the book has a brain dead sister and the discussions of life support as well as the emotions surrounding her continuing, though she will never receiver.  Brought back a lot of thoughts about my sister and the weeks between her shooting and her death in 1971 when I was pregnant with David.
Then there are the discussions about organ donation (I think only corneal donation was possible in 1971 and my father was adamant that nobody was going to cut up his daughter) and the conversation I had with the organ donation coordinator about David's organs (I have never regretted that decision and even today it brings me comfort)

There are the differing emotions experienced by each person in the family as Robin lies comatose, many of which were so sharp reading it today.

There is also a grandmother with Alzheimers and conversations with her sound like conversations with my mother.

As I say, it was not a good book necessarily, but it held my interest.

One of the comments in the Amazon review of the book came from someone who had just finished a book called "The Only Child," about a six year old by who survives a school shooting in which his 9 year old brother is killed.  It's a gut wrenching story, told in the voice of the 6 year old (much like "Room" is told in the story of a young child as well).  

I finished the book in a day and a half and was sobbing by the time I finished. 

Maybe I have revitalized my reading genes and will go on from this book to another one.  Lord knows that even with the emotional reaction to the stories, it's a heck of a lot more positive than the news.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Next up--Hunnert!

When my mother first moved to Atria, all those many years ago, the thing that she hoped most of all was that she would live to be "hunnert."  She thought it would be really cool to live to 100 and I remember countless discussions about whether or not I thought she would live to "hunnert."

Today she turned 99 and is only one year from that goal, but she refuses to believe she's 99 and "won't" be 99.  She has forgotten her goal of "hunnert,"

But we doggedly celebrated her birthday anyway.  And actually by the end of lunch, she was remembering that we were celebrating her birthday, which was a great surprise.  Also, we went to the main dining room and she actually briefly recognized the woman she had lunch with every day for 2-3 years.

Ned and I got there early.  He, who thinks of everything to make a party festive, brought stuffed eggs--her favorite--as an "hors d'oeuvre."

She was also pleased to get a box of chocolate for a gift.

I had hoped there would be some cards for her to open since she loves cards so much, but there were none, except the one I brought (Walt's sister sent one, but to our house and it has not arrived yet).
Ned decided we should eat in the main dining room, instead of the memory care dining room, and he walked her down there, while I followed in my walker.

As I took this, I remembered taking the exact. same. picture of my cousin walking my aunt down the hall in the facility where she lived.

Momma didn't remember ever being in the dining room where she ate 2x daily for 3 years, but she thought it was a nice place.  Ned tried to take the traditional "Grandma birthday" picture.

It turned out pretty well.  Does this lady look 99?

I tried to get a picture of the table...

By the end of lunch, as I said, she had an inkling that it was her birthday and I think she enjoyed herself.  I know she enjoyed her birthday ice cream.

It was so nice to do something that had absolutely NOTHING to do with Kaiser today!