Saturday, October 30, 2004

Scooped pumpkin guts

It is a day to be grateful for "courageous little souls" and for the support of strong silk webs woven by many small spiders working together!

I love all of your reports about your folks... I feel as though they are part of my own family, and I'm "teary" or "elated" right along with you, depending on the news of the day. What brave and courageous little souls are Howie and Fritzi, handling all of the various events that have come their way in the last couple of months. What a brave soul you are, Nancy, as well. To be so far away at this time in their lives, has to be an ache beyond compare. Please always know that there are so many of us with you on this journey and if thoughts count, you all are wealthy...Happy Halloween .

Friday, October 29, 2004

Cross your fingers

If there are no major snags Mom will go home tomorrow. The Gastro Doc says there has been sufficient progress. Mom's had no vomiting for several days. Dad thinks he
can do a better job on the celiac diet than the hospital kitchen. They sent Mom
a bowl of noodle soup, crackers, and a dinner roll for lunch.

The floor nursing staff was having a "tailgate party", not actually in a parking
lot, but there on the floor, with chili and hot dogs. They invited Dad to join them. While he was there, the head nurse of the floor asked him how things were going, and he told her that Mom's lunch was screwed up again. He very nicely and effectively lodged his complaint just by honestly and thoroughly answering her question. The head nurse was going to talk to the dietician, and Dad thought heads might roll. A big "Gluten-free celiac diet" had been written on Mom's blackboard. Dad thinks the nurse will send the dietician up to talk to them, or perhaps to listen to them.


Dad reports that Thursday was a "pretty damn good day". Mom did a lot of walking, including trips to the floor lounge to read the newspaper, and to get some magazines. This is the first time she has been interested in reading the news in all this time. She especially wanted to find more news stories about the quadruplets that were born in the same hospital sometime this week. An aide had taken her down to the nursery window, but the quads had not been on view at the time.

Mom's attitude was good, and she was aware of dates and appointments. She is relieved after reading the bushel of mail from Medicare and Mutual of Omaha about the benefits paid on her first spell in the hospital. The expenses are being well-covered. Phew!

Mom is also into orange sherbet when she is still hungry after her meal, and we love hearing she has that much of an appetite. Also, she is sitting up much more. It is tough keeping track of all the doctors in the internal medicine and gastroenterology partnerships. Yesterday the internist decided Mom needed more potassium, and the gastro guy determined she needed more manganese (or the other way around). Rather than having her choke down giant pills that might not be tolerated, they hooked up the "pick" IV and gave her the potassium and manganese
that way.

Dad was on hand when the young gastro doc of the week made his rounds yesterday. He said they must get all these electrolytes in balance before Mom can go home. Dad asked what the status was on all the different lab and blood tests, including the ones sent to Mayo and to California, and got a full report on all but two. He said every one of them had come back either inconclusive or negative. This is good, but doesn't give us any more indication of what caused all this. A bit later the doctor stopped back in and reported that the last two tests were also negative/inconclusive. So, as Dad says, we still have nothing to hang our hats on but that one little biopsy that maybe showed celiac/sprue.

I am disgusted that the hospital kitchen is still sending inappropriate foods to Mom. This seems to be the weak point in all the staff and care she has received. Mom is with it enough to not eat what could contain the gluten, but it is ridiculous that she is still receiving hamburgers in buns.
Both the folks are caught up in hearing Rochelle's trick-or-treating plans with her kids. I think this woman provides a huge service of comic relief and laugh therapy for patients.

Dad's dermatologist reported back on the biopsy of a small growth on his cheek. "DR ZIT" has been taking care of Dad for thirty-five years. Dad's little growths on face, ears, and hands are always precancerous minor deals. The doctor cleans them out with a laser. Remember to wear sunscreen and a hat! That is why I've been reading a cute book about going fishing with a tackle box AND A HAT to all my preschoolers this week. It's called "A Good Day's Fishing", by James Prosek.

Dad is going to check on possibilities for Mom to vote Tuesday. She has a perfect record of voting in every election. He still hopes she'll be home before then. And that's all the nort spews, as Tank McNamara used to say.

Transfusion for the support crew

I know this is probably a late response since this news is already one day old. I hope things went better today and I do appreciate your daily updates. I got a letter off to your folks today (after writing in the plane yesterday). I'll try to do another one in Seattle since it means a lot to them to get mail, I know.

Boy, it is really discouraging to see our folks not be as independent as they would like to be. The things my mom tells me remind me of Halma Mastalir when I first got married and moved to Pierce. The tone of voice, the fraility and the lack of coherence are all what I remember so vividly of Halma and now I'm experiencing it in my own mother. Keep your sense of humor and strength and that way we can hold on to some sense of stability.... Otherwise, we might drown in it. Your folks are very strong and stable, so I'm sure they will maintain, but it is hard. Always enjoy hearing from you...


Sorry I didn't get this written up after I talked to Dad. He said the results of the transfusion were already showing. Mom was discouraged, though, because she lost her breakfast. It had been several days since she had any nausea. She was given her before-breakfast pill after breakfast, and that caused the problem. Dad was very ticked off about it.

The doctors seem to be getting a handle on the steroids and blood balance. Her blood pressure is up, which is good. She still has the edema from the fluid retention. Her appetite is good. She is clear-headed, just discouraged.

Mom's not aware how whacked out she was on Sunday. At one point she saw bugs coming out of Dad's shirt pocket. I am creeping out thinking of the 1991 movie of William Burrough's "Naked Lunch":

Dad was having an Arbys with barbecue sauce and a side salad with Santa Fe Ranch dressing (to get his greens). He had mowed the leaves again yesterday afternoon from Bob's damn sycamore. We all know Dad's not kidding much when he says if those big leaves fall off the tree and hit you they can knock you out.

Dad had scoped out a place at the other end of fifth floor with a big window. He and Mom walked down there to look out over all of Eastridge with the fall foliage colors. Mom knew what she was seeing, where the swim pool is, etc. After the walk she sat up awhile with a blanket.

The transfusion process was started about five p.m. Tuesday. It went slower than expected, and after eight Mom was having some distress, coughing and gagging. She told the nurses it felt like "someone is sitting on my chest". They called in the head nurse for the floor (she is the one who did the research on the drug interactions with the steroids) and after a nurse conference they solved that problem. Mom did have a rough night after the transfusion, though.

Dad said last night would be a good night because Mom's "favorite team" was on. No, not the Red Sox--Nurse Sally and Rochelle, the aide who got her all calmed down Sunday night. Also Sera was on duty, and she does the very best showers and shampoos.

Dad and I talked about Mom's discouragement. I think it could be as related to the steroids as the earlier aggression, and suggested having a psych nurse visit with Mom. He thinks the head nurse of the floor is the person who fills that role, and he will look into it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day

Bon appetit!Mom polished off a three-egg omelet with ham this morning. In the five years I worked in the Bryan hospital kitchen, I don't remember ever serving an omelet. I'm thinking Steven and I will be having omelets tomorrow morning! Maybe with hash browns. Maybe I should set my alarm a bit earlier. Of course, when I make omelets they turn into "scrangled eggs" (as one of the boys used to call scrambled).

The Compassionate Internist took Mom off the IV today since she is getting plenty of fluids orally. She actually has some edema from fluid retention in her normally slender ankles. Good-looking ankles run in Mom's family from her mom's side. We may be Rubenesque elsewhere, but the ankles are slender. So, let's hope the fluid retention is on its way out!

Mom has been clear-headed since Monday noon. (I am still waiting for the Arby's to arrive for dinner, though!) The Gastro Doc reduced the steroid dosage by half, then by half again. This week there's a new Gastro Doc on call at the hospital. You can't tell the players without a program in this large medical group. He's the one who has Mom on the steroids. Now he says she must have a blood transfusion to get everything "in balance". The transfusion is being done this evening over a three to four-hour period. Dad says it is one unit of blood. I wish I could supply everyone involved with the lovely plastic vampire teeth we've been handing out to the kids in our classes this week.

Mom is still on a gluten-free diet, but none of the doctors are sold on that celiac/sprue diagnosis. They feel that results from blood samples sent to Mayo Clinic and to somewhere in California will soon come together to give a clear indication of the cause of this whole mess.

Dad is pleased because the snowblower is back home from its $100 tune-up (once per decade since 1984), and ready for winter. Hope he doesn't have to deal with snow any time soon, but he is prepared. We didn't talk long, as he was on his way to the basement freezer to snag a microwave dinner to nuke before he went back to the hospital. May we all be coping so well when we are 81 and a half, as my preschoolers would say.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Tripping on steroids

It's 7:18 my time. Just got off the phone with Dad. I had tried at 5 their time but no answer either place. Got a brief report from Nurse T. because the operator intervened. She is very
sweet. Then I caught Dad at home at 6:30 after I got home from picking up the kids at soccer practice.

The skinny: T. expected Mom to go home today but then they changed dosage of a medicine that was confusing her. (I found out later that was the steroids.) She thinks she is doing great and will go home tomorrow.

The skinny from Dad: Yesterday went to pot after he talked to you. It seems the steroids built up too quickly in Mom's body and she was getting strange. The rainbow incident magnified. For example, she was waiting for Arby's for dinner. By the end of the day she had gone on so many walks that they couldn't keep her in her room. She got really cranked up, dressed herself, and got ready to go. Dad said he caught her trying to go to the bathroom by herself. She spilled some water and was trying to clean it up, etc. She was furious with Dad when he wouldn't let her stroll up and down the halls. Dad reported the behavior and asked for help. Rochelle (a hero!) came on duty and sat down with her for a long time to calm her down. Another nurse went to work researching the relationship between the steroids and other meds. She worked with the Rx and doctors and they decided to cut the steroids back considerably. By the way, at one point Dad found Mom in a wheelchair at the end of the hall because they had captured her before she
went down the stairs. That's when they put her on a tether system so that she wouldn't stray far before an alarm went off. But Rochelle was terrific all evening and took great care of her. (Dad thanked her profusely today.)

Dad went home feeling useless and exhausted. Got to bed at 10 and slept OK. This morning he was dreading the return to the hospital but found her in good shape. The doctor had cut the steroids by half and then later today they were cut by another quarter. They can't cut them out altogether. (They also switched them to a pill form for fewer side effects.) They need to monitor her progress before she can go home. Gastro doctor and other doctor were going to confer tomorrow morning and send her home if they had a consensus. Dad thought another day in the hospital would be good for her after the steroids slow down. Those steroids are nasty. Grandma S. had a terrible time with them. They help but they need to be monitored. Very frustrating for Dad, but typical side effects from everything I have heard. Before he left the hospital at 5:30 today he and the nurses got her into bed for some quiet time. She has been sitting up and walking all day (trying to get in shape to go home!) and he knew she was tired. He also said her feet were swollen. So he was going to let her rest before dinner and then return. He went home for a beer, a little dinner, and then will go back to see her. He asked us not to call so she could have a quiet evening. What a trooper he is! He was even polite to the neighbor boys who knocked on the door to ask if they could play in the yard while he was on the phone with me.
Dad confirmed thatMom is just about 160 pounds. She has put on several pounds in the hospital but is still way down from August.

That's all I can think of right now.

...and it explains the behavior of many athletes!

Strutting her stuff

Mom's been out gallavanting around the hospital corridors today and viewing somebody's wedding photos down at the nursing station. I talked to Nurse Tiffany when I couldn't catch Mom in her room on several tries, since I thought she might have changed rooms. Tiffany said she was doing really well and will go home in the next day or so.

Mom said the Gastro Doc on call this week was amazed at how much better she looked than yesterday. He told her she can go home tomorrow if she doesn't throw up before then. She is tired of the hospital, and the dinging of the IV and all the other noises.

Dad said Mom is much more "feisty and energetic". She is also looking in the mirror, combing her hair, etc., now. He found some wheat-free crackers for her soup, and she is excited about that.

Dad used the mulching mower on part of the backyard this morning, which was why I couldn't catch him either. He didn't want the leaves to get too deep, because the mower doesn't work then. He had a great visit with H. yesterday, and also with my brother, who offered to come down today. They asked him to wait until next weekend.

We are off to a soccer game now with that good news.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Isn't it romantic?

Dad and Mom went for a date about four this afternoon, strolling down the corridor, with Mom holding onto her IV stand. Dad says this is the first time he has taken a walk with Mom without a hospital attendant/chaperone.

I'm sorry to report that Mom still has vomiting and diarrhea especially when she has to swallow pills, have blood drawn, or other have other activity or tests. She doesn't want to read because it is too complicated getting back support and bifocals aligned. She had an abominable snowman CAT scan Wednesday that didn't show anything. The doctors are as frustrated as we are. They have added steroids to the mix of things she is taking for the bacterial infection of the small infection. Her diet is still gluten-free. Her blood tests are going to Mayo and to California, but not showing anything.

Dad is discouraged because Mom is confused and can't keep a sense of days and nights and time. She is sedated for some of her tests. She reports seeing a rainbow when there hasn't been one. She is very enthusiastic about a card from Jeannie with Morel mushrooms on it. She continues to have great rapport with the hospital staff.

Since my sister will be in Lincoln for Thanksgiving, the folks want me to come at a different time. I told Dad the story of how I resented the beautiful plants I received in the hospital when one of the boys was born because the plants were making too many demands for my time and nurturing (and dang near talking too loud) when I was so exhausted and depressed. I wanted the folks to know that I understand when the change of the slightest variable seems overwhelming.

Dad has spent a frustrating time trying to renew his TRAK mobile phone and get a new card and secret number. After losing sleep about it for a couple nights, he finally got a real nice real person who fixed everything up after he told her he was 81 years old. He's also been to the dermatologist to take care of four spots on his hand and one on his cheek. I am completely impressed this evening at how he is coping with all these changes.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Talkin' 'bout my generation

I would agree with you – I’m sure it is especially hard trying to keep things under control from 1000 miles away – I was right here and I found a few distraught moments trying to stay calm with my mother. I reorganized my pantry last night between 9 and 10 p.m., so I’m sure that is a control issue as well! Geez, if you don’t laugh you’d end up drowning in tears from the frustration of it all! ... Tomorrow I am moving my mother to a 1 BR apartment... I know what you mean about halos! There are some dear people that keep me going when I can’t seem to anymore. H.

Nearly everyone I know is coping with aging parents, and with children leaving the nest. Sitting down to lunch together involves nearly as many discussions of digestive issues and diapers as when our children were babies. Our parents seem more fragile than our children now, and maybe more controllable! Somedays I want to smash my guitar or set it on fire.

People try to put us d-down (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Just because we get around (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (Talkin' 'bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

Why don't you all f-fade away (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
And don't try to dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I'm not trying to cause a big s-s-sensation (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I'm just talkin' 'bout my g-g-g-generation (Talkin' 'bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

Why don't you all f-fade away (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
And don't try to d-dig what we all s-s-say (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I'm not trying to cause a b-big s-s-sensation (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I'm just talkin' 'bout my g-g-generation (Talkin' 'bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

People try to put us d-down (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Just because we g-g-get around (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Yeah, I hope I die before I get old (Talkin' 'bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

The Who

Holding her head up

Just had a call from Dad to bring me up to date. It was a good day. Mom has more color and pep. She is sitting up, and "more interested in holding her head up." * The endoscopy/colonoscopy found two small polyps and took biopsies with some sort of Tupperware melon-baller. It's very sci-fi fX.

Mom wants more and different foods, and all meals stayed down today. She went for a little walk down the hall.

Uncle B. called Dad "late" last night. Mom had a card from her brother today. The hospital "ladies" stop by all the time to visit Mom. I am ready to issue them each a golden halo!
Gastro Doc and the Compassionate Internist have reviewed the breath hydrogen report and found it abnormal, indicating bacterial overgrowth somewhere in the intestinal plumbing. Mom's antibiotic treatment may continue for quite awhile.

Dad went to some senior citizen hangout and had creamy cole slaw, clams, and mashed potatoes for supper. He picked up some apricot kolaches at Hi-V for breakfast tomorrow before his appointment with the dermatologist about his skin cancer (the fairly mild kind that doesn't spread).

I have completely torn apart the living and dining rooms to rearrange furniture and clean. A little corner of my life will be under control.

I'm doing lots of venting these days. Tell me if you don't want the updates, and I will completely understand. I feel like taking Dramamine for the turbulence, and I thank you all for your moral support. I think we would all like to return our tray-tables to the upright position and prepare for landing.

*Just two months ago we expected to be sitting together at the Santa Fe Opera production of Don Giovanni!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Photo shoot tomorrow

Just got off the phone with Mom. The CAT scan showed no signs of nerve damage that would throw her into this state of chronic vomiting. My thanks to everyone for not saying, or letting me say, "Oh, my God...brain !," today. This week the doctors have also ruled out any kidney damage, and Addison's disease (which my grandmother and JFK both had). Tomorrow she is going to have the scope that involves swallowing a teeny-weeny camera to see if there are any Sports Illustrated swimsuit models in her small intestine. In the night her blood pressure got down to 90/36, but it is better now. She might be strong enough to go for a little walk with her walker and a nurse aide this evening. There doesn't seem to be anything I could accomplish by being up there. The short phone calls with Mom, and the very long ones with Dad seem to invigorate both of them. That's me, the human Snickers bar. If I thought she would get the joke, I'd tell Mom to put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

O, Best Beloved, Where Art Thou?

My copy of The Just So Stories is missing in action. I have so many stacks of stuff at home and at work, and it's just got to be here somewhere. Rudyard could probably explain that CollageMama "humphed" instead of filing and putting things away ever since the work began, and she will just have to deal with it. And wouldn't Rudyard be a good name for a junkyard dog?

I am one of the world's luckiest inhabitants. My mother rocked me in the yellow Eames rocking chair when I was tiny, and read Kipling to me in the mornings after Captain Kangaroo and the Arthur Godfrey Show ended. Arthur Godfrey had a ukelele, and the Captain had Mr. Moose, Bunny Rabbit, the ping-pong balls, Mr. Green Jeans, the Banana Man, the Magic Drawing Board, Bainter the Painter, Dancing Bear, and stories. Oh, what wonderful, gentle stories! Caps for Sale, The Littlest Snowman With the Red Candy Heart, Ping, Make Way for Ducklings, Millions of Cats, Stone Soup, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel!

I put together a whole curriculum for a summer art/drama camp about Australia because the Captain used to sing "Waltzing Matilda" forty years ago. I still wish a jolly swagman would sit beside my billibong and eat marzi doats and doesi doats. Some of my strangest nightmares may have origins in the Magic Drawing Board's version of "There's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea." Bob Keeshan was the genius that defined my childhood, even more than Dick, Jane, and Sally.

I even saw Captain Kangaroo IN CONCERT! Yes, at Lincoln's Pershing Auditorium. It was a totally big girl event. A babysitter was engaged to deal with my brother and sister. I'm nearly fifty, and I've never felt more grown-up than going to that event.

When a story begins, "O, Best Beloved," you know you will be traveling in a special jungle. It is the same as, "Once upon a time," but without the shining armor. I am sad when people reduce the Kipling experience to the thumbnail plot outline. Kipling is all about language; words, wonderful words, swirling in dust storms across the outback or wallowing in the great grey-green Limpopo River, more patterned than a bicolored python rock snake, and absolutely feeding my "satiable curiotity"."O, Best Beloved," the stories would begin, and my mom and I still call each other Best Beloved (pronounced Bee-luv-Ed). Did I obsess that I would be spanked by adults as the Elephant's Child was spanked by his aunts and uncles because of his endless questions? Of course not. Did I go out and paint myself with fingertips dipped in mud like the leopard? Well, only that one time, and I'm almost over feeling guilty.
Monday wasn't too great for Fritzi, and she ended up very limp. In the morning she had a CAT scan that took a lot of time and strength. They are looking at the part of the brain that controls nausea, which is scary, too.

The fish served for lunch was icky, but she ate her applesauce and tea. She talked to the doctor about her dry cough, and got something for that. Dad says Robitussin, but I don't feel he actually knew what it was.

Because the orchid was dying, Dad talked to Louanne at the garden center(over-watered), and learned Dick had to cut short a trip back east to return for laproscopic gall bladder surgery. Mom is very fond of Dick, Dad's delightful golf buddy whose wife passed away last year, so this was upsetting. Dick is on sixth floor, so Dad visited with him for a minute.

Mom lost her supper, and ended the day weak.

Someone is picking up the snow-blower for a tune-up/oil change. Dad had a Philly cheese steak with the works for supper. He says they are due for a good day today. Please send good vibes everybody, and for Dick too.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Runza sounds good to me!

Talked to both the folks at the hospital last evening. Mom said she would be at the hospital at least until Wednesday as some doctor has ordered a two-day stool series (lab test). She is on a diet of"fully-cooked meals" now with "double fat", but she says she can't eat enough to actually get the double fat. Dad had been to Runza. They had talked to both Aunt Bev and R.

I could tell how frazzled Dad was when he told me on Friday night,"Do you know how many meals I have had to eat with someone throwing up in the next room?" I hope he enjoys some quiet meals this week. M

I realize that a blog about intestinal problems is an odd place to promote a fabulous Nebraska food called a runza. Just get over it, because runzas are to Nebraska what White Castle, Steak'n'Shake, and Krispy Kremes are to their areas of origin. I hope runzas get their turn in the spotlight and all over the map soon.

Nebraska foods

While searching for information about runzas, I found this fun slide show of Russell Stovers candy plants.

I used to know the secret codes in the chocolate swirls so I could find a caramel every time.

The original Runza Drive-In on the way to Pioneers Park.

Ask any Nebraskan about pizza, and they will tell you "Valentino's"!

Kind of scary, but it tastes like home to me.

Miller and Paine's tearoom served the best macaroni and cheese and cinnamon rolls on the planet. I even worked in the bakery department at the Gateway store for a short time and got very sticky putting fresh baked cinnamon roll dozens into plastic bags.

There weren't any good photos out there of Weaver's potato chips or Skyline Dairy's Swiss Almond ice cream.

And now that I'm on a roll, what about the donut machine in Ideal Grocery?

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Through the bugs on the windshield

So there I am driving on back roads this afternooon, seeing coyote, deer, many roadrunners, countless scissortails, gorgeous red earth, blonde and pink grasses, white cotton, vultures, and my hawks. I'm heading back toward Dallas from Lubbock on Highway 82 to Seymour, then on deserted roads to Archer City. Outside the window there is poverty, decay, erosion, promise, creation, renewal, ripeness and light. "Carmen" is blaring, and cleansing quiet tears are streaming....Must refill the windshield wiper fluid!I'm not good at crying. Tears rarely come to the surface without whacko hormonal assistance. If they did, maybe I would view life through a cleaner mental windshield.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Lubbuck interrupted

Guys--I called the fifth floor and talked to the nurse, Tami, at about 9:50 p.m. She said Mom was asleep, stabile, and being rehydrated. She had only one lose stool after she was admitted, or at least on Tami's watch. A gastroenterologist had been in to see her. I will call Dad in the morning and find out if I need to fly up as soon as I get back to Dallas.

Tech Tour and Travel

Got to Lubbock and had an early supper with Mike. Then we walked all over the Tech campus and visited. It was great to get a sense of his place finally. We hung out at his apartment when the mosquitoes drove us away from campus. Before settling down to sleep I checked my email:

Nancy et al - 5:35 pm Don't want to interfere with your weekend but...I just got off the phone with Dad. After a doctor visit he took Mom back to the hospital this afternoon. She has lost twelve pounds since she got home. Dad had just returned home when I called.

I got a long report about the day and then the scoop at the hospital. Very low blood pressure, continued diarrhea/vomiting has led todehydration."Old home day" there. So glad to see all their friends and our heroes. Mom is settling in and they are getting things rolling fast. Dad feels like a huge weight has been lifted from his shoulders. He feels very confident that she will get the best care possible there. He sounds relieved just as he did the last time he took her to the hospital.

Call me if you would like more details. M

Friday, October 15, 2004

The family photo portrait arrived in Lincoln yesterday. Dad got all choked up trying to describe how it just "broke him up" and was such a tear-jerker when they opened it. Fortunately, being a tear-jerker is a good thing this time.

Dad went to the gastroenterologist's office before eight this morning to pick up six days of samples of Welchol to replace the gritty powder that Mom had been mixing and drinking. The grit usually brought on the gags. Now she has to keep down three tablets twice a day taken with meals. We'll see how it goes. They are getting more insistent about doctors and nurses returning their calls in a reasonable time frame. Amen! Welchol, and the grit stuff before, are actually cholestrol-lowering medications, not a bulking intestinal med like Metamucil as the folks had believed. I wish they would ask more questions, but I know how it feels when you are getting the "My time is very valuable" vibe from a doctor.

I am leaving for Lubbock now. Have a good weekend, everybody.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

True grit

Mom managed to go from 11:45 last night to 4:00 this afternoon without a "major disturbance" This is a new record.

Tomorrow the folks will call the doctor to ask about alternatives for the metamucil-ish grit that seems to be the culprit for setting off the heebie-jeebies. I told them to ask about alternatives for taking pills on an empty stomach before breakfast, too. Mom gets "too hungry" while she is waiting the prescribed length of time before eating. We all know about "too hungry"! Kind of makes me want a Hershey's Kiss, lemon drop, or Kraft caramel.

Mom called her sister using the cellphone, and brought her up-to-date. The folks are enjoying a good watermelon. Fresh fruits are a big part of her celiac diet. Fritzi is also enjoying hot tea and taking walks outside. Dad is warming to his role as the chef.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Bureau of Weights and Measures

There's been a bit of confusion in Lincolnland due to my mom not wearing her hearing aids. Dad asked Mom what size Depends to buy, and read the size options to her. She heard "weight 150-160 lbs." He really said "hips 50-60 inches". That would be the reason the Depends weren't really very effective! I asked if she had tried wearing them with suspenders. It is good to know they've got the right size now, and that they were still on sale at Shopko!

To my sons--When I get that old, you have my permission to find some humor in the situation, as I certainly intend to! Also, stock up on duct tape...

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Asking for help is healthy

Just got off the phone with my dad. Offered again to fly up, but Dad doesn't think I should. Things were better today. Mom isn't limp like she was before she went into the hospital. When she has a problem she fights back. I am impressed with the ways they are adapting and problem-solving. They are also doing better about calling their doctor's nurse, or calling the
1-800 number of a food company for ingredient info. They are even open to calling the parents of my college friend to ask about gluten-free food products even though they don't know them from Adam & Eve. They are using the available resources better, is what I'm saying. They are out of the mind-set that you only ask for help as a last resort.

My main frustration is that they don't have a cordless phone. In fact, they are the last people on earth with a rotary dial wall phone in the kitchen. They do have a Radio Shack push-button phone down in the basement. If I could, I would have the phone company out there installing the right kind of wiring and phone jacks for a cordless phone with caller ID.

N - I second that emotion. I called twice yesterday and let the phone ring10 times the first time. I decided they were outside or Dad had his hands full. When I called again 30 minutes later and it still rang forever I got worried. It seems that Dad was in the shower the first time and on the floor doing exercises the second time. He got up too quickly and arrived at the phone dizzy. Madness. At least Mom used the cell phone to call R. from the bedroom.

I thought Dad was feeling "in control" yesterday. He seemed to have had a good rest and was ready for the new day. I gave Dad a pep talk about using resources as well. I told him it was important to call doctors SOONER rather than later. And reminded him to be straight with us. (He said Mom didn't want him to give you all the scoop about the bad day but he told her he wouldn't operate that way. Good.) Anyway, he seemed eager to just ramble a bit and I was happy to oblige. You run an awesome support system from afar!!! We are grateful. M

No bowl of cherries

Mom had a bad day Wednesday, and Dad said he was "run ragged" doing laundry and shopping for Depends. Mom had a bad night's sleep that got her started coughing. As we all know now, the coughing leads into the vomiting and diarrhea. She was also complaining that her "tongue felt wet". Dad says they are being very careful to keep her hydrated this time, and now have some anti-nausea suppositories since she can't keep the anti-nausea pills down. The Depends are "insurance" so she has the confidence to go to the doctor or take a walk. Things had improved some by the end of Wednesday, and she kept down Royal Anne cherries and jello.

Being old is the pits.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah

It was a lovely day in Lincoln, according to Dad. Days are all looking more lovely through the glow of gratitude and relief. Mom walked all the way to the corner and back, then sat outside to enjoy the fresh air. She went to her internist, had a very encouraging exam, and doesn't have to go back until November fourth for some fasting blood work.

My folks are enjoying planning their meals, and incorporating the gluten-free restrictions without much trouble. Tonight they were cooking pork chops and homemade hashbrowns. Mom had taken charge in the kitchen, feeling confident she was up to it and could produce a superior result. Heck, I wish I was there for dinner!

Strumming on the old banjo.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Mission Control

Home again! Howie reports that the Two Week Endeavor has landed. Bringing Fritzi home went smoothly.


Looks like Mom's going home today. She is getting unhooked from everything, bathed, dressed, and instructed by the dietician. Medicare just bought her a walker. She's still waiting for the gastroenterologist to come in on rounds before her departure will be official. The internal medicine doctor has suggested that she may not need her blood pressure medicine anymore. She's been off it for the last two weeks, along with her thyroid and cholesterol medicines. The doctor also told her to cut her cholesterol Rx dose in half. So, it is a day of good news!