Thursday, June 28, 2018

Another Day, Another Doctor

I couldn't get off the couch when I woke up this morning.  My body wouldn't move.  This has happened a couple of times before and I'm now set up for it, with the heavy coffee table within reach and the cane handy.  I didn't get up easily, but I eventually got upright.

Today it was the neurologist. 

I managed to get myself in a panic because I did what one should never do:  I went internet surfing and checked out the symptoms for ALS, most of which I have.  So I went into the appointment halfway expecting him to start more extensive testing for ALS, but no, he agreed with my doctor that the cause is probably the bad interaction with the statin drug she prescribed last year sometime.
He also agreed with me that her follow up blood exam 2 days after stopping the drug was silly.  The normal creatnine level is under 20 UL; mine is 2,644 UL.  There was going to be little noticeable result in 2 days.

The bad thing about this condition is that when I'm sitting, I'm just fine.  Nothing hurts and I don't need to use any muscles, so I look just fine.  Everybody who passes through the room or writes to me asks how I'm feeling.  Well, ask me that when I'm struggling to get UP and then hobbling down the hall to the bathroom!  (I think of this every time I see the ad for fibromyalgia where the affected woman says "when most people look at me they see...most people, but inside I'm in great pain."  or words to that effect.)

The doctor also checked my CT scan and showed me my brain, telling me it "looked fine for a 75 year old woman."

He checked my reflexes by tapping my knees in several places, forgetting that I'd told him that I'd injured my right knee.  That tapping definitely caused a reflex as he hit the knee smack where it hurts the most.

He has ordered weekly blood tests for the next several months to see if my numbers begin to fall.  If not he will order some sort of nerve conduction study which he warned me several times that I don't want it because it hurts.  A lot.  And warned that "some ladies cry."  So I'm hoping, of course, that it won't be necessary.  I had a nerve conduction study many years ago for my numb fingers and I remember how innocently that started out and by the end of half an hour I was feeling that I was undergoing a long electrocution.  I don't think I cried but I certainly said a lot of not very polite words in my mind!

We drove back home to take our respective nap.  I had fired up the battery in the iPod so we could listen to the book we started some time ago.  I thought I had the right book, but it didn't sound familiar.  We listened to it for an hour, hoping to remember the plot.  When we got home, I checked the plot summary on Amazon and discovered that no, we had not been reading that book.

After our naps, Walt asked if I wanted him to cook dinner again.  What a guy!  The meatballs he made were delicious and, I have to admit it, better than mine.

We had a quiet evening watching TV and then Walt went off to bed.  I've decided that until this...whatever it is....passes, I'll be sleeping exclusively in the recliner.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Anniversary that Wasn't

Yesterday was our 53rd anniversary.  Walt's sister, who loves knowing what people are doing to celebrate events, called in the afternoon to wish us a happy anniversary and I think was disappointed that I had nothing to tell her.

The previous day had been so Kaiser and house heavy that we just didn't think about the fact that the next day was our anniversary.

We don't do anniversary gifts, but always exchange cards and Walt, who is suffering from the cough I had earlier this month and not feeling at all well, forgot to get me a card.  I had a card for him, but only because I buy cards ahead of time and sometimes have more than one anniversary card in the card drawer.  I don't know how long ago I bought this particular card, but was glad I had it.

In the morning Walt took a nap, since he felt so crappy and I spent a good part of the morning writing the review for the show we saw the other night.

I finished up our cottage cheese and strawberries for lunch, so Walt went out to buy more, and when he got home, he was exhausted, so he went down for another nap, and I slept too.
Neither of us was particularly hungry at 5:30, which is when we would have to eat if we were going to have dinner, so we both picked at leftover and then headed off to Sacramento again to see Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

It was billed as a "daring, dazzling choreographic extravaganza" and they did not lie.  Short on plot but oh...that dancing!

I particularly liked the "girl flipping."

I'm getting to where I hate going to shows like this because at intermission people want to leave their seats and go out to get refreshment, which means I have to get up to let them out, but my knees sometimes don't want to unbend and they have to figure out how to get around me.  I hate this.  Poor Jeff, my colleague, who is not a small man, had to literally climb over me.  Not sure which of us was the more embarrassed.  He later helped me stand up. 

During the finale, I was hoping for lots of applause and a standing ovation (which they got) so I could struggle to my feet...which I was able to do eventually, though with all the jostling of the crowd leaving the theater, I felt very unsteady and had to hang onto Walt.

We got home, had ice cream bars, watched jeopardy and went to sleep.  Happy anniversary!

Today I have an appointment with a neurologist.

This is what marriage is like when you reach a certain age!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Jeri's Busy Day

We all had cold pizza for breakfast.  Phil taught Walt the joy of a pizza-egg combination, which looked tasty.
Jeri and Phil then headed off for coffee with a friend.  They then planned to go to Atria to have lunch with my mother.  Ned was coming here to be with Walt when a pest inspector came to check the house.  I opted out of the Atria visit.

But then Atria called.  My mother had fallen on the patio and they were sending her to the ER in Vacaville.  After lots of tries at all sorts of phone numbers, we managed to connect with Jeri and Phil and plans changed.  Jeri would go with me to Vacaville to the ER, Walt would stay home to wait for Ned and the pest guy.

We got to the ER and, of course my mother didn't know where she was or why she was there.  Jeri, bless her, was just so good with her grandmother.

There was no bad news about results of her fall and she was free to go.  They sold us a walker, which I didn't think my mother would use, but she actually did.

(like mother; like daughter)

Poor Jeri had to both get her grandmother into the car each time, but also get her mother into the car each time, since I cannot lift my legs high enough to get into the car.

We decided to go to Fentons Creamery for lunch and it was the perfect choice.  The noise level was deafening, but my mother ate all of her lunch and had more of a good visit with Jeri.

After lunch, we indulged in hot fudge sundaes.

 Then we went back to Atria, where we handed my mother off to one of the attendants there and Jeri drove me to the Davis Kaiser, where I was supposed to have my blood tested again.  She has been so wonderful about getting me into the car each time.

We finally got home, as the pest guy was leaving.  Ned and Jeri went back to Sacrament (where Phil was already) and the Bostonians will be flying back home this evening. 

Having Jeri and Phil here this weekend, and Ned around to provide all sorts of help, made the weekend much easier.  Tomorrow, we are on our own again.

And tonight, my wonderful husband cooked dinner for me.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Why You Have Children

If I ever wondered why we have children, this weekend erased all doubts.

As I write this it is late Sunday afternoon.  I have pretty much slept most of the day.  My body seems to be getting worse.  I've been having some physical problems--getting very weak, progressively, so that I have difficulty getting up from a chair and then walking, can't reach things overhead in a cupboard, have to hold a coffee pot in two hands because it's too heavy, etc. In the last month, it has gotten significantly worse and I saw the doctor this week. Ned and Walt came along to make sure all the questions were asked.  The doctor ordered a CT scan (since I had that glorious fall last weekend), ran lots of blood tests and two came back extraordinarily high, both of which are affected by the statin drug I'm taking for cholesterol. So I'm stopping that and drinking lots of liquids to flush it out of my system, but until I can actually get my legs into a car without assistance, I am not safe to drive. I feel fine sitting down, but the second I stand up, it's like all the energy drains out of me.

Ned has been feeling bad because I don't take showers, but take sponge baths, since it's so difficult for me to get upstairs.  He decided I need to take a shower at Atria.  So Jeri and Phil took my mother to lunch and Ned stayed behind to help me take a shower.  He had bought a shower chair and was just so dear...he put the chair together and presented me with a spa basket with towels, 2 kinds of shampoo, soap, and a bath robe.  He also brought a fan for the bathroom, so it didn't get too warm.  I was so wonderfully moved at his thoughtfulness...and the shower felt wonderful.

After the shower, we were chatting together when my doctor called to give me her suspected diagnosis.  Walt was overwhelmingly relieved.  Me too.  Now we just have to see if dropping the medication works.

Jeri has been driving me, since I don't feel I am safe to drive, and she is very good about helping me get my legs in the car, since I can't do it myself.  She and I stopped for sushi on the way home, and then we all drove to Ned & Marta's, where Ned fixed a soup-and-salad buffet.  Lemme tell you -- Trader Joe's tomato and red pepper soup is to die for.

We left Phil with Ned and the other 3 of us went to see a play at Capital Stage.  It was a great play and a good one to share with Jeri.  Then back to Ned's to get Phil and come home.

In the morning, everyone descended on the kitchen.  I had hoped to cut up strawberries when I woke at 6, but I fell back asleep and didn't wake up until 9.  By then breakfast was in full swing.  Jeri made a fabulous smoothy with every fruit in the house.

Phil was up to his elbows in waffles.  Ned and Marta brought their dog Bouncer, and Polly got uncharacteristically very protective of me.  Whenever Bouncer got too close, she snapped at her and then sat right by my feet to make sure everything was all right.  As moved  as I have been by how good and caring the kids have been, I was equally moved by Polly's care of me.

I am feeling like a real invalid, since I feel absolutely fine when I'm sitting down, but getting up takes a major effort and I hobble around the house, leaning heavily on my cane.  But breakfast was wonderful.

Jeri and Phil were going to a memorial for Phil's stepmother and I took, Walt tells me, four naps this afternoon.

I am feeling all warm and fuzzy about how good  everyone has been this weekend.  It's good to have children!  Especially good, since Walt seems to be developing the cold/bronchitis that I had for the last 3 months.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Comfort Objects

Today is my sister's 71st birthday.

Or it would be if she hadn't been murdered at age 24, 47 years ago.

I have been near tears for a good part of the day.  I understand why Rachel Maddow broke down and could not read the story of the babies and toddlers being separated from their parents.

What got me today is learning that when the children are taken from their parents, they also have their comfort objects (blanket, stuffed animal, whatever) taken from them.  Not only that but if a child is crying and another child tries to comfort him/her, they are told "no touching."

I can't even write that paragraph without crying.  What monsters are these?

Our older three kids all had comfort objects.

Jeri had her blanket and a number of "stuffies" that she needed before she could go to sleep.

Ned had a thermal blanket with a satin ribbon binding that the "blanket" portion dropped out of one day, leaving only the tattered ribbon, which was knotted and raggedy, but he had to have it with him at all times.  One time he left it on a neighbor's lawn and the neighbor, thinking it was garbage, threw it out.  You should have seen the panic we went through trying to find it until we finally decided to look through the neighbors garbage...where we found it.  That helped, but it had to be washed first and Ned couldn't calm down until it was finally out of the dryer.

[aside:  Ned still has it!]

Ned and Jeri were so attached to their comfort objects that I decided not to let Paul get attached, so I rotated his blankets every night and at one point he also got attached to a dress that I had that I cut into swatches, so he could have one at all times.

My great plan didn't work, though.  He got attached to ALL of them.  To go to sleep he needed all three blankets and all of the dress swatches.

(Brianna had "piggie" who went everywhere with her for several years)

I don't know why Tom and David never had comfort objects...maybe because they each nursed for such a long time they didn't need comfort objects to go to sleep...they had me instead.

So when I think of these babies and toddlers unable to bring their comfort objects with them into baby jail, it hurts my heart.  One reporter who was able to tour one of the "tender care" facilities said it was "full of crying, traumatized babies."  It makes me think of reports of the orphanages in Romania and the effect the neglect of the babies had on them.  Lifelong effects that affected their later adoption.

Now many of the parents have been sent back to their home countries and the babies/children are left behind--and how are they going to find them again?  They are already talking about "immigration orphans," and talking about adoption.  These children, kidnapped by our government, have parents who love them and want them and yet people are talking about adopting them to Americans.

So yesterday our benevolent leader, who has been telling us for days/weeks that this is the Democrats' mess and that it can't be solved simply with an Executive Order, signed an Executive Order decreeing that parents and children are no longer to be separated...but not a word about the >2,000 children who are currently in kiddie prison and their parents who have had to go back to their home countries.  What is to become of them?

(Has the infamous tent city become another crown in the Trump Hotel complex?)

This is not the America I know us to be.

If you are feeling as helpless as I am, consider donating to one of the organizations that is raising money to help the immigrants.  The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services is a non-profit focused on "providing free and low-cost legal services to under-served immigrant children, families and refugees in Central and South Texas," according to the organization's website.

The non-profit, which currently has about 50 lawyers on staff, got a lot of attention over the past week after Charlotte and Dave Willner set up a Facebook fundraiser that they hoped would raise $1500, but raised over $12 million in just five days.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018


I tried sleeping on the couch last night which maybe wasn't the best idea.  I was able to get onto the couch, able to fall asleep, but getting UP again was tricky...fortunately I had prepared for it and had my cane handy to help.

So I went back to the recliner and after an hour or so of Morning Joe, which was more upsetting than usual, I went back to sleep and woke up around 9.  Getting up, gingerly, I realized that yesterday my knee pain had gone from a 9 to a 5  and today I'd rank it at about 3.  (I originally optimistically said a 2 until I moved around a bit.)

I actually was able to cook dinner last night, though had no appetite so other than a couple of bites of salmon and some tomatoes, I didn't eat anything.

Walt's plan today was to work at his office, and then drive to SF to see one of the Ringcycle operas.  He usually goes to work around  11 so he can have lunch with his buddies and then heads to the city and gets home around midnight.  I had all sorts of plans for my "free" afternoon.

I suddenly realized that was nearly 12 and I hadn't heard him leave.  But then I could easily have dozed off and missed it.

As it got past 12, I figured that yes, he left without my seeing him.  When he does this, and I know that he won't be home until late or so, I often have the ice cream bar we have together in the evening and eat it in the afternoon instead.

So I was sitting here enjoying my ice cream, feeling very naughty, when Walt came in, in his shorts, sandals and t-shirt and reported that he had been sleeping...and that he had a fever.

Caught!  Owell, he'll have his ice cream tonight and I won't.  (But my "illegal" treat was very nice.)  Whatever reason for the fever, it apparently wasn't all that bad because he was under the sink cleaning in preparation for our pest control guy coming next week.

As any reader here knows, I have been very upset about the situation at the border and feel so heartbroken at the pain the children and their parents, especially those who may never see their children again.

The two countries which have seen the most activity are Guatemala and Honduras.  Families coming from these countries are fleeing violence.  Sometimes family members have been murdered.  One mother talked about her young teen age daughter who was captured by a gang and held for four days and her young son who was being recruited by the gangs.

So I understand the pain and, like so many others, I feel so guilty for being unable to do anything about it.

Then Nely from Guatemala appeared on an ad for Compassion on Amazon.  I was immediately drawn to the Kermit she was holding.  How can I resist a kid who likes Kermit?

But did I have enough money to add one more sponsorship? Probably not and kids this cute  are usually gone in a day or two.  I've watched Nely for a whole week.  I finally decided that if she was still there yesterday, I'd sponsor her.

There she was again.  I fully expected that when I clicked on her photo it would say she had already been sponsored and that I would be offered other kids, but no there she was, still holding Kermit.
So I agreed to sponsor her.

Then I had to laugh because when I clicked on her photo to get further information, Compassion offered me the opportunity to sponsor another child from the same facility and showed about 8 other kids.

Four of those 8 kids were holding the same Kermit!

I feel kind of manipulated, but since I can't do anything to help the kids trying to get to the safety of the U.S., I can at least help one little girl in Guatemala.  As someone on Facebook said, "saving one person won't change the world, but it will change the world for that one person. We do what we can, where we can, to do the most good."

I hope she actually likes Kermit!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

I Think I'll live

Yes, I was able to get up from my desk and stagger to the recliner without having to wake Walt up to come and help.  Whew.

I slept as all right as I ever do and woke up around 5:30.  I noticed one thing right away--I could bend my right leg, which I was not able to do the day before.

I carefully got out of the chair and though it was painful, the pain had gone from a 9 to a 5.  I was able to hobble down the hall to  the bathroom and it only took 3 tries to get on my feet afterwards, which is a HUGE improvement.

Still, it was not a good idea to be hobbling around so once again, I settled into the recliner with ibuprofen at my elbow and ice on my knee and watched TV.

But watching TV today was more painful than the pain in my knee.

Watch/listen to this recording secretly made by ProPolitica.  It is the sound of children separated from their families, crying for mommy or daddy.  It will tear your heart out but listen to it because we need to viscerally feel what it feels like, not just gloss over it because it's not happening to us and we feel helpless so why put ourselves through it.  We put ourselves through it because it is happening to children as young as a year old and we need to have our heat torn out a bit to get us angry enough to maybe DO something.

If there is anything positive I realized today it's that people are starting to notice.

On every news show I watched, it was the lead story and often took over half of the show or more itself.  Everyone from politicians (Republican and Democrats), to newsmen, to political historians, to physicians is weighing in and the clamor is becoming louder and louder. One newsman was almost apoplectic as he shouted the question we all want answered -- how long is this going to go on?  How long is #45 going to keep those children hostage to his^%$#@ wall?

Many people, politicians and reporters pointed out that Trump could end the separation policy in an instant.  Hasn't he constantly reminded us of the power of the presidency?  Heck, he was able to change all the good things about this country with a stroke of his pen, why not end the misery of these children and their parents?

And then there is dear Ann Coulter, who said “I would also say one other thing, these child actors weeping and crying on all the other networks 24/7 right now — do not fall for it, Mr. President," on The Next Revolution with Steve Hilton.  Two thousand child actors, age 1 to 17.  Boy--who is footing the bill for THAT casting?  Are these the same paid actors hired to pretend to be victims of the Florida shooting? or the paid actors at the huge Women's March?

Where is pro-Life in all of this?  You'd think this would be right up their alley, children traumatized and separated from their parents, crying and begging for Mommy and Daddy.  Why aren't there big ProLife rallies?  Or is the problem that these are "born children" so they don't count?

A reporter, allowed in one of the facilities, saw a crying child and asked why nobody was comforting him. He was told they are NOT ALLOWED TO TOUCH THE KIDS because of fear of accusations of sexual abuse. One child, he said, they didn't realize her age because she spent her time curled into a ball. Another older girl had to change diapers because the caregivers had that "touching kids" thing to worry about. Reports are that a 4 year old, placed in a sponsor's home, was "the worse case of trauma" they had seen. 

Someone today pointed out that the facilities that reporters have been allowed to visit house boys 7 to 17.  Where are girls and babies being held and why can't we investigate those?  No cameras are allowed inside facilities reporters have toured.

Department of Homeland Security reports that from May 5 to June 18, 2,342 children have been removed from their parents.  67 kids/day (it was 47 kids/day according to DHS last month)
And now there is a tent city in the hot Texas sun for an indefinite period of time.

And the New York Times reports that there are no protocols in place for reuniting parents and children and many parents have been deported, while their children remain here.

This is all biblically inspired, Trump, Sessions, and Huckabee-Sanders say.  Even Franklin Graham is disgusted by that.  (Isn't Sarah's Dad a minister?  What does HE say about all this biblical permission to persecute children for political reasons?)  

When will this cruelty end????

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Saturday 9

16 June, 2018
Welcome to Saturday: 9. What we've committed to our readers is that we will post 9 questions every Saturday. Sometimes the post will have a theme, and at other times the questions will be totally unrelated. Those weeks we do "random questions," so-to-speak. We encourage you to visit other participants posts and leave a comment. Because we don't have any rules, it is your choice. We hate rules. We love memes, however, and here is today's meme!

Cat's in the Cradle (1974)

This song was chosen in honor of Father's Day. Hear it here.
1) This song began as a poem, written by Harry's wife Sandy before the couple even met. Have you ever tried your hand at writing poetry
I'm terrible at it.  I can write limericks and funny verse, but anything high-falutin' defeats me.

2) The lyrics include a reference to "The Man in the Moon." The original Mother Goose rhyme ends: "It's time for the children on earth to think about getting to bed." Do you remember what time your childhood bedtime was?
I don't remember but assume it was between 8 and 9.

3)  When did you go to bed last night?
1:30 a.m.

4) In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed the proclamation that made Father's Day a holiday on the third Sunday in June. Can you name all 45 Presidents? (No, you don't have to list them here.)
Probably not.  I'm sure I'd miss a few.

5) Since Sam's father is particular about his Cole Haan loafers, her Father's Day present to him is always a DSW gift card. Who on your gift list is especially easy to buy for?
The grandkids.  Their mother keeps an Amazon wish list (which I guess is cheating!)

6) Sam's father is a voracious reader. So much so that the local librarian knows him on sight and by name. When did you last visit your neighborhood library?
Years ago, when it was our polling place.  I should be ashamed to admit that since the library is only 3 blocks from our house, but I have SO many books here in the house that I'm trying to work through.

7) Back when Sam was in high school, her father gave her driving lessons. Do you consider yourself a good driver?
I used to be an excellent driver and could even parallel park on San Francisco's steepest hills (driving a shift!)  Now that I'm 75, I find that my driving skills are not what they used to be.  I can't even park, in an automatic, on a flat surface with lots of room without jockying back and forth several times.  It is very frustrating.

8) He is a stickler about car maintenance and reminds Sam to check her car's air filter regularly, because a dirty air filter can reduce mileage. Share your own car maintenance tip.
Marry well.

9) Whenever he fills up the car, Sam's father also stocks up on his favorite candy: LifeSavers. So Sam is celebrating Father's Day by giving everyone a roll. Would you prefer Wild Cherry, Butter Rum, Winter Green or Peppermint?
If I had to choose one of those, wild cherry, but I'd prefer lemon.