July 31, 2010

The Grim Reaper Doesn't Hamper Quirky Family Conversations

Life is good. We've all settled into our routines at Hospice. The tension is gone as Morphine is our friend. Morphine is good for the soul. The crying has stopped and the healing is beginning.
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I've been obsessed with writing Pop's obit. I've been working on it for a week. I've started pouring over obits in the paper trying to get the nuances.

Is it survived by Joe Shmoe and wife Joan? It could be, but that COSTS more and so it will be survived by Joe (Joan) Shmoe.

Do I call him Dr.? When do I call him Dr.? Before or after where I state where he received his degree? Do I start with Joseph Snoopy Shmoe was born on... blah blah blah... and in the next paragraph start calling him Dr. Shmoe? Dr. Shmoe costs more than Joe. But I think Dr. Shmoe is the answer... at some point.

It's the little things that count here, because at $6.05 a line and the fact I'm at over 100 lines, thats a chunk of cash.

Me: Do you want to hear what I have so far for your Dad's obit?

Hunhead: Shoot.

*I read the obit*

Hunhead: I think that sounds nice.

Me: I'm still fine tuning. We're at 100 lines and it's $6.05 a line...

Hunhead, looking over the top of his eyes at me: Hun.

Me: I know! I know! I'm trying to cut it down. I'm working on it!

So I omitted the part about how he felt about the Marines he transported from Iwo Jima to Okinawa. I've eliminated all the adjectives describing my saintly mother in law. I'm now going the Joe (Joan) Shmoe route and leaving out from where they reside, because does it really matter where we all live? Besides, putting grandchildren's names in a newspaper with cities kind of creeps me out.

I'm wrestling with words. I think I'm down to 80 lines... and still cutting.

My attitude has kind of been... throw it ALL in there and then take out what you really don't need. I don't want anyone regretting that they should have had more.

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The new mattress arrived yesterday. Evidently everyone at home tried it out while I was at work. I slept for a full four hours without waking last night, my hands and arms didn't fall asleep, and I'm left only with a persistent crick in my neck and a sore right shoulder, the rest of the pain subsided.

We've moved from the 'frowny crying face' (it should be a vomiting face... the pain was so bad I was nauseated) to the 'straight face' in the hospital 1-10 face pain guide.

Bones: Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Your new mattress is AWESOME!

Mr. T: It's really high, higher than the other. You definitely need your steps now to climb into bed.

Bones: It's so soft...

Me: Wait. You all tried my bed?

Bones and T in unison: Yup! And it's GREAT!

Bones: It's so flat. That big lump is gone.

Me: That was the goal dude; the wonderlump was bad.

Bones: You know, I always thought that lump was kind of creepy. It was like this wall between you and Dad. Kind of like you all were saying to each other, "This is MY side of the bed and that is YOUR side of the bed and you can't come on MY side!" and it's not supposed to be that way when you're married Mom.

Me: *blink*

Bones: So I like your new bed.

Me: Right. Glad you approve...

Sheesh.

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This is pretty much spot on a conversation from last night between my husband and I when we were going back to the Hospice wing.

Me: What I've decided is that when you pick your durable power of attorney, you need to pick the person that is the most steeped in reality, not someone who is a hanger on. You need someone who can be logical and pull the trigger.

Hunhead: Absolutely.

Me: You're allowed to handle my end of life care now. You passed the test.

Hunhead: There was a test?

Me: Yeah. I told you. You were on probation. I told you at the beginning that I was watching how you were watching this whole thing with your Dad and if you let him suffer that I wasn't going to let you handle my end of life decisions.

Hunhead: *blink*

Me: You passed. You did good with your Dad. You can handle my end of life decisions.

Hunhead: I... I don't think I remember this conversation. I don't remember you saying this. I was on probation?

Me: Yup. I wondered if you were REALLY listening or if you thought I was just talking to hear myself talk.

Hunhead: Probation?

Me: No sweat. You passed.

I know he feels a HUGE sense of relief... heh heh heh.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:48 AM | Comments (7)

July 30, 2010

Raging in the Here and Now

The halls to the Hospice wing are wood and not cold tile. The walls are nicely decorated, there are quiet rooms for people to sequester and a family room with a overstuffed couches, chairs, tables at which to eat, a big screen TV, plenty of coffee and a refrigerator that's freezer is stocked full of ice cream.

Mostly it is quiet. There isn't the hustle and bustle of nurses attending to numerous patients, bells going off above doors as patients need tending, doctors sitting at desks explaining orders, carts in the halls with meds or food.

The halls are mostly empty, and nurses come and go quietly. Most patients are heavily sedated. There are no real sounds of television except perhaps from the family room, and sometimes you'll hear family in a patient's room, but that is rare too. Patients are tended to efficiently, compassionately, and quietly.

Most patients are alone.

This appears to be the norm, quiet heavily sedated patients being kept from pain as death is imminent... no visitors.

Then there is Pop, who is intent to scream at the top of his lungs incessantly that he is dying. He is dying dammit and he wants EVERYONE to know it. He is scared, he is ready, he wants it over.

But we are at Hospice, we are not Jack Kevorkian. We cannot bring on the inevitable quicker, but must let nature take its course on its own time... with drugs as our helper.

Atavan is the magic elixir, but there is too much anxiety and stronger meds are being called in.

Hospice by his choice today, much relief from me. While other patients may be alone, we are working in shifts, suctioning, feeding, hugging, massaging, comforting. His room is full of family... and more is coming. We are a hands on family... he is not alone.

I am spent. The new mattress is here and I hope for good sleep, for spending 3 hours with a dying man, a man who 'will not go quietly into the good night', a man who will 'rage, rage against the dying of the light'... has drained me.

I do not fault him one bit. He is entitled to every bit of anxiety and rage and then some... and I will sit with him for days and days, alternating with family, if it provides comfort.

I just need to refuel. I'm tired.

Bonus for him, he rages so that they have moved him into a private room, a room that can accomodate all the family.

We just need to find better... drugs. For him. Not me. Ice cream works for me...

Posted by Boudicca at 10:55 PM | Comments (11)

July 29, 2010

It Took Me To Blog To Find Something Funny To Write

It's all good here. I'm just a bit in survival mode. And tired. (Thank you to Shaz. She kind of gave me a light shake and I woke up.)

Bonus: We bought a mattress and it's being delivered tomorrow. Woot! I absolutely cannot sleep on this gully ridden mattress one more hour. I'm DONE.

We were in the elevator today, going up to see Pop, and my husband said as he punched the button, "You know, I never knew how much we needed a new mattress until I was testing those others. Really. I mean, I slept fine. But now that I've seen how good it can be? I want that mattress now!!!"

So excited is he, he volunteered to stay home and wait for the delivery people tomorrow.

I think there is big potential on Saturday being sleep blogging instead of death blogging.

Ode to a Wonderful Mattress or such.

OH! On a funny note, we were talking about the mattress to my sister in law who is in sales, yesterday. Said she, "Did you get the mattress protection?"

Me: I have a mattress cover that breathes. It's good.

SIL: No protection?

Me: I wasn't going to pay for that spray. Are you kidding?

SIL: Really... nothing? We offer this barrier you can put right over it. It's thin. Repellent.

Me: Well, we do have that mattress protector...

SIL: I just, you know... fluids.

Me: Fluids? *looking at my husband*

SIL: Yeah, I'm kind of particular about that.

Me: Oh we don't have to worry about fluids. We don't eat or drink in bed. We're fine.

SIL:

Me: Really. *looking at my husband* I think we may be the only people who don't eat or drink in bed.

SIL: OK then...

I got home and looked at my husband and said, "OH! FLUIDS!"

Heh heh heh... I'm so stupid.

Posted by Boudicca at 10:33 PM | Comments (9)

July 26, 2010

Sleep Would be Sooo Much Easier If I Could Unscrew my Head and put it on My Nightstand

I have evidently not only decided to never sleep again, my body has also decided that in the event it must lay in a bed for 8 to 10 hours, I must wake up in so much pain... that I want to take my head off my neck.

You know you are in bad shape when you don't sleep because you spend your time rotating for pain. For instance, I start on my left side and 'sleep' there until I start to hurt, so then I move to my back and I 'sleep' there until I start to hurt, so then I move to my right side, eventually ending up on my stomach, but since I have tendon issues in my feet, I scoot to the bottom of the bed so my feet hang off the edge and I 'sleep' there until I... start to hurt and move back to my left side.

All night... long.

But it's gotten worse. I woke up last week with my upper body, spine from mid shoulders to the base of my neck, hurting so bad, that every time I turned in bed, I'd have to reach up with my hands, grab my head, put it in place and then turn the rest of my body. The muscles in my back and neck could not support the weight of my head without horrific pain.

Living in CCU, they have these pain charts from 0= Happy Face to 10= Sad Face Crying. I'd put myself at a 7. We've moved past Straight Face and moved directly into Frowny/Sad Face, moving to a 9 if I didn't move my head manually.

Finally I said to my husband, "I can't do this anymore. I think it's the mattress..."

He looked at me and said, "Are you sure? You have a lot of upper back problems anyway."

I looked at our 19 year old King sized bed with two huge gullies and what we call 'the wonder lump' in the middle and looked back at him and said, "Positive".

You know you need a new mattress when you name the lump in the middle.

My sons, upon hearing the conversation said, "Mom, why don't you just sleep on the wonder lump?"

And... you know you need a new mattress when even your kids refer to it by its name. You also know you need a new mattress when you're afraid if you try to sleep on the lump, instead of squishing it down, you know you will most definitely come crashing off one side landing on your spouse.

Upon the vast realization that the mattress is in fact the source of 90% of my sleep problems, my being a 44 year old female contributing to the other 10%, I said to him, "I can't... I can't sleep there anymore. I'm sleeping in the guest room."

And that is where I've been the last two nights.

He gets it. As soon as I said we need a new mattress, he said "Let's go", but with Pop in CCU, teetering between death and just the normal sweet personality *cough* he is, there has been NO time to go mattress shopping. Meanwhile my husband said last night as I grabbed my pillow and headed to the guest room, 'I can't do this anymore. Either we shop for a mattress tomorrow, or I'm sleeping in the guest room too."

In the meantime, me being me, I have done scads of research on buying, 'the perfect mattress'. Bonus for my spouse, I'd already narrowed it down to only ONE brand, since I'd been convinced long ago by a certain person that one brand was better than the others. Looking through Consumer Reports, I knew she was right.

And so tonight was mattress hunting night. Well, mattress hunting and then on to the CCU to kiss Pop goodnight.

We went to a mattress place down the road a piece and walked in. The girl who helped us was not pushy, was very informative, and led us down to some mattress put out by Kingsdown that would show us what type of mattress was best for us, based on pressure points. And bonus for us, she had a cross reference sheet for ALL the mattresses as to which ones might be best.

My spouse? He could sleep on the back of a pick up truck full of shovels. He can sleep anywhere anytime on anything. And he ONLY sleeps on his back. It's like sleeping with a dead guy. Meanwhile, I'm like sleeping with a tiny tornado. I'm all over the road.

Poor guy. That adage 'You don't know someone until you live with them?' never rang so true as it does with us and sleeping habits. Maybe if we'd lived together first he'd have had second thoughts...

Maybe not. If my sparkling personality didn't make him run, the sleeping gig may not be as bad as I think it is...

Back to the store, my husband whispers to me, "We are absolutely NOT getting a pillow top. Then we have to buy new sheets!" to which I replied, "Wait, we have some sort of magnet thing on our bed and a feather bed, which I believe EQUATES to a pillow top. Whatever."

Consumer Reports said to lay on each bed, 5 minutes per side you sleep on. That means that I needed to be careful in the beds I selected because we're looking at 15 minutes of test time per mattress.

Meanwhile, my husband is moving from mattress to mattress, "No, I don't like this one. Yup! Hun! Try this one! Ouch, this one sucks... Hey, hunhead! This one seemed like it was terrible, all marshmallowy, but really its kind of nice. Try this one!"

I stood there looking at the selections that had been pared down for us, looking at cost, as he bounced from bed to bed, giving me a rating. I looked at the salesperson and shook my head saying, "I married the frickin' Princess and the Pea of beds..."

She thought that was funny saying, "And YOU are the one with sleep issues...". Actually, when we walked in, we were already clowning around and I thought we might have to tone it down, she didn't laugh, but by the Princess and the Pea and watching my husband carry on from bed to bed, she was laughing so hard, we all had a grand old time.

I was laying on a bed, doing my 15 minute deal when suddenly she had a big rush of folks come in. She looked at me and said, 'You've got to be kidding. I haven't had ANYONE all day long and now?"

I watched the folks trickle in from my right said and said to her, "Hey, all these people were just saying during dinner, "Dang, it's going to be bedtime in a few hours and sleeping in our bed is TERRIBLE. I didn't sleep at ALL last night! We need a new mattress!" "

We narrowed our choices down to three, she is getting the prices to see what she can do, and at home, doing further research, I narrowed it down to ONE.

It was one he liked a lot too... and a pillow top at that. We were laying there side by side, staring at the ceiling when I heard his voice say quietly laughing, "This is a helluva lot more fun than spending our night in CCU..."

Neither of us is excited about going to bed tonight on this nearly 19 year old mattress with two gullies and one wonderlump. It's bad... really bad, but family arrives tomorrow to help us with Pop and the guest room bed was freshly made today.

On the Pop front... let's see how instinctive I really am. I suspect he has a week, potentially only a few days. Others think months.

I could be wrong. What do I know?

Posted by Boudicca at 09:52 PM | Comments (14)

July 25, 2010

Games Brothers Play

Can't talk about today. Too draining. I feel like my head is filled with marshmallows.

My two eldest boys have made up a game for our next long car trip. It's a take on 'I'm going on a trip..." where you name the things you're going to take in alphabetical order, alternating with other players.

Most people say things like, 'I'm going on a trip and I'm taking an apple, a bear, a cookie, a doughnut and... an egg."

My boys have always played a different game... adjectives can be included, items of mass destruction are looked upon favorably, anything dealing with poop in any form is definitely a bonus, and then of course, anyone whose name pops up in the family is going too. For instance, if Bones' name really was Bones, he'd be the B word.

I would be driving all over and hear the following, "I'm going on a trip and I'm taking an anaconda, a bear's butt, a crap load of crap, a dead dog, blah blah blah".

Games evolve, the items they take become larger and more intricate as their vocabularies increase and sometimes its more entertaining hearing what they're taking than it is to play.

The newest game, however, is a 'brothers' game'. Only brothers would make this up.

The new game is entitled, "If Bones doesn't stop annoying me, I'm going to..."

This is a sample of what I heard today:

If Bones doesn't stop annoying me, I'm going to... set an aardvark on him, beat him with a bat, crack him in the skull with a sledge hammer, drown him, extract his lungs, ...' I hear they made it to Z, but I was not privy to the entire list, although I could hear them laughing themselves silly in the back of the car while Bones kept saying, "Wait! I'm not THAT annoying!"

And speaking of Bones... courtesy of TGOO, I may be cursing him soon...

TGOO sent me an email with the following video attached. It absolutely cracks Bones up and he has watched it no less than five times today and I think he's trying to memorize it. That makes me kind of nervous...

We shall see. The kid is determined to make us all bat crap crazy!

Posted by Boudicca at 09:18 PM | Comments (5)

July 24, 2010

Living in the CCU

We went through Pop's belongings today. It is time to pare it down again... Pop's next stop either being his final resting place or a nursing home. Neither has space to take what he has, the former needing only a suit (picked out by my husband today from Pop's closet) and the latter needing only a bed and a place to put clothes... and his TV as life stops if he can't watch Bill O'Reilly.

Below are some random things that have happened in dealing with him and his 'predicament' over the past few days. Some are funny... some, well, maybe not so much.

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Last night we went to see Pop in the CCU. He lay there slack jawed, eyes closed, mumbling. Barely I could hear the television as the hand speaker was muffled by pillows, sheets, blankets and what not. And for the life of me... I couldn't find it.

At 8:00, on the frickin' dot, Pop's eyes FLEW open, the most alert I'd ever seen him and in a voice, with great clarity and force he said, "Bill O'Reilly is on! Turn it on! It's 8:00".

I stood there for a moment, shocked and not moving.

Again, this time louder, he bellowed, "O'Reilly is on! Turn it on!"

And so with that, I fumbled around and found the cord that led to the speaker, that was covered by so many things, including body parts, that there is NO WAY in hell he heard any introduction to the O'Reilly Factor.

Laughing I said to him, 'Pop, is your internal body clock seriously set to the O'Reilly factor?" He mumbled and I heard a "YES."

I now know he's Bill's Biggest Fan.

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Last night the River Boat Captain was massaging Pop's arms and neck. I was off to the side sitting in a chair. I'd already spent 20 minutes massaging him before they arrived.

After about 10 minutes, Pop mumbled something.

RBC: What did you say?

Pop: mumble mumble mumble

RBC: Dad, I can't understand you. Louder, please.

Pop: MUMBLE MUMBLE MUMBLE

RBC: Dad, I'm trying, I really am... we can't understand you...

Pop, clear as a dang bell: I KEEP SAYING, STOP. THE GIRLS SHOULD BE DOING WHAT YOU'RE DOING. THE GIRLS SHOULD BE DOING THIS. STOP IT!!!

And with that, my bil jumped back, laughed, I stood up and said, "Right, excuse me. This is MY job..." and my sister in law and I massaged him until he nearly fell asleep.

I'm sorry, but it was dang funny.

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I've been debating today, is it easier to go through someone's things when they are still alive or after they're dead?

I decided... still alive. These are his memories I sift through, and with these memories in my hands, any questions I have... I can still ask.

In his special box I found his 'letter' from football in high school, a letter from the US government giving him permission to keep a Japanese rifle and bayonet, a copy of his discharge papers, a newspaper clipping about a priest who drowned in the early 70s... a priest whose life Pop had desperately tried to save but was unable, his report cards from grade school, from Seton Hall, and from when he did his doctoral studies, old bullets, pictures of him in his sailor uniform right after he went into the Navy, pictures of him on the USS Chase, before it was hit by the Kamikaze, letters of thanks from patients.

I spent an hour sifting through his box, looking at pictures of him in his football uniform, seeing him so young and naive in his sailor's uniform.

It was kind of surreal...

I also found some love cards from a woman he dated a few years after my mother in law died. That was weird. It wasn't a woman we liked very much, we questioned her intentions, but if she made him happy, we were fine.

It was weird though... finding this stuff from this woman. I kept it. It's his. I asked my husband what to do with them He seemed shocked, but then said, "Keep them. We'll throw them away after he dies, but not now. They're his and they mean something."

So the love cards are going to storage.

Seriously, I've never throw away so much 'God stuff'. Mass cards, Catholic funeral cards, Catholic trinkets for God only knows what he gave for, paperback prayer books... and on and on.

Finally I looked at my husband and said, 'Hun, I'm good with understanding which of this Catholic stuff goes and which stays, but I'm just really at a loss as to what to do with the 18 tape set I have here of James Earl Jones reading the New Testament..."

Husband: You're kidding...

Me: No.

Husband: Storage... we'll figure it out.

I may give it to his old girlfriend. She may want it... I hear she is going blind and she takes Catholic to a whole new level.

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Going through Pop's things, my husband found a wooden spoon. It's an odd looking spoon.

Husband: So, what do you think? Do we keep the spoon?

Me: What the heck is he doing with a wood spoon? He doesn't have a kitchen...

Husband: I don't know...

Me: That's a weird looking spoon. I've never seen it before.

Husband, turning the spoon in his hand: This is the wood spoon my Mom used to beat me with.

Me: *blink*

Husband:

Me: Umm... sentimental value?

Husband: Hunh.

Mr. T: Wait. Is that why there are all these cracks in it? She hit you with it?

Husband: Probably...

It's an Italian thing, right? Funnier still, he had it on his bedside stand as if it was a weapon. "Stand back or I'll hit you with my wooden spoon!"

The wooden spoon now resides in my home...

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Lastly, my father in law knows the grim reaper resides in CCU with him. He is terrified of dying now and is looking at dialysis to buy him some time.

It is his choice, but he is absolutely terrified.

I get it... I get it. And he said he's terrified like he was on the USS Chase as the Kamikaze was coming for them, running on the deck, wondering where that plane was going to hit, no matter where he went it appeared it was gunning for him. He's reliving WWII.

He's terrified he's not been good enough to see my mother in law again... that she's in Heaven and he's going to Hell.

Said I, "Pop, I'm looking at the big 10 and I'm not seeing any raping, pillaging, murdering in your past. I think you're safe..."

Still he continued on about the mistakes he has made and I said to him, "Well we all make mistakes. You think Ma was some Saint? What makes you so sure she didn't do something that would keep her from the pearly gates?"

And with great pause, and slowly and clearly he replied, "Because I lived with her for over 50 years. She never did anything wrong in her life..."

I've called for a priest. Only a priest can assist in the bringing of the peace he needs.

Meanwhile I'm kind of pissed. This is what I hate about Christianity, this whole heaven and hell bit. I know why it is. I understand the psychology of it... the feeling that injustices here on Earth are righted after death. The assist in keeping people in line for fear of going to hell, although with the state of our World right now, that doesn't seem to work. At all.

But what it really does... is push come to shove at the end, there creates this HUGE fear of death. It doesn't matter what I say to him about Christ dying for our sins, it doesn't matter what I say about a Forgiving God, it doesn't matter what I say about asking for absolution, in the end, in his mind, he's a sinner and he won't get to heaven to see his wife, who he knows without a shadow of a doubt, was NOT a sinner.

And that is the root of our problem. His death is not pissing me off. His cause of death is not pissing me off. All the folks in denial are not pissing me off.

What pisses me off is he is afraid because of his Faith.

I'm struggling with that one. We're getting to some basic roots as to why I don't do organized religion.
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Posted by Boudicca at 09:14 PM | Comments (11)

July 23, 2010

The River Boat Captain

It's 11:53 EST and I cannot sleep... again. I'm not even going to bother to try. I may end up reading. I'm not sure.

We were awakened at 5:30 this morning by a call from the rehab center, calling us to the local ER, where they had taken Pop. He couldn't breathe.

My husband went, I stayed home, staring at the ceiling, noticing I need to clean our ceiling fan, and counting the minutes until I had to take Ringo to work and then be off to work myself.

It has been a long day, but we know it's all coming. I am steeped in reality.

I have said often that I expect that when my children leave home, I will spend my volunteer time at Hospice. It is not an attraction to death by any means, but rather the fact that I'm... alright with it, as long as it doesn't involve children.

It happens, the natural progression. I am a bit surprised by the fact that I'm surrounded by so much family that remains in complete denial of the freight train heading our way.

Discussing with my sister in law (married to my husband's younger bro) this entire situation today, she expressed to me how very surprised she has been at the suddenness of this all. At first I agreed, but then I took a deep breath and explained to her that 'no, this was not sudden'. For when my husband's sister came to visit at Easter, I said to HER husband, "I give Pop 6 months to 9 months and he'll be in a full blown nursing home and it will be a very bad..."

The surprise for me was that I was off by four to seven months. Other than that... no surprise.

For lack of a better way to put it, Pop is essentially a quadriplegic right now, who can move his arms up and down and breathe on his own with O2. He is what I call '220 pounds of pudding'. He can do nothing. He can barely turn his head, he can hardly speak and when he does, he cannot be understood. When he's uncomfortable in a bed, he cannot adjust himself, roll over, or make himself comfortable in ANY way. He cannot adjust himself in a chair. If he is put in a chair all schlumpy, he stays all schlumpy. And at 220 pounds of pudding, meaning full on dead weight, many cannot help him.

He doesn't even bother to ask me anymore. I can hardly push him in the wheelchair. Trying to straighten out 220 pounds of dead weight is worse than pushing a rope for me. It's like... trying to straighten 220 pounds of pudding. I finally said to him, "Pop, I am a small woman, and you are a big man. You're going to hurt me. I can't help you anymore..."

He quit asking. At first I thought it was because he knew I'd not help. Now I realize it's truly because... he doesn't want me hurt.

Imagine my surprise today, sitting off to the side in a chair, in CCU, watching my bro in law and sister in law, one on each side of him, talking to him, touching him, when my bro in law said he felt certain that if they got his protein levels up, got rid of the 20 pounds of fluid that have recollected, that Pop will be able to move around, adjust himself in a chair, maybe stand with a walker.

I sat there from my chair and stared. Blankly. The room was quiet. He looked at me and realized that I was looking at him like, "Really? Did I just hear you say that?" because he said, "Look... it's not like I'm in total denial..."

And thats when I stopped him and said calmly, clearly and firmly, "John, you are the River Boat Captain for the River of Denial..."

And if the room wasn't quiet enough, it got quieter, with my sister in law now staring at me, then staring at her husband.

He smiled and said, "The River Boat Captain, huh?"

I replied, "Yes. Absolutely."

He grinned bigger and said, "I prefer to think of myself as... optimistic."

Hey, I hope he's right. I'd love for my kids to have a good extra year with their grandfather and if protein shakes and lasex will do it, I'm game. I'll be the prayer warrior that he stays out of pain and can do this...

...but I think he's done. And as I standby and watch, and brace my immediate family for what is probably coming soon... I still remain amazed at how many float down that river of denial.

People have said to me, "You aren't in denial because it's not YOUR Dad."

I pray fervently, that should my folks end up in a very bad place physically, that I completely get it... and don't take over the reins of the River Boat Captain.

Here's to hoping protein shakes are the magic elixir...

Posted by Boudicca at 11:10 PM | Comments (5)

July 22, 2010

P is for Pookie

The Great Flambina does not have an extensive vocabulary. At 18 months of age, I think I counted 15 things she says, but as we were leaving, she was starting to string two words together.

For instance, a monkey is an 'ah ah'. As odd as it sounds, she can't say any 'd' words, but she can use the letter 'L'. I'm still trying to figure that one out. So she looked at us and said, "Ah Ah, Ball" and she turned around and threw her ball at one of her many stuffed monkeys.

Her favorite and second word was... balloon. She can't say dada, but she says 'balloon' all the time. And it's OBVIOUS this is what she's saying. There is no mistaking it for toddler talk... she is saying balloon and you know it.

During our last visit, she had just started to say Mama. I know, late. The baby was nearly a year and a half, couldn't say mama, yet she said balloon. Mama has started and now in the wee hours of the morning, my sister has been known to hear bellows of 'mmmmmaaaaaammmmmaaaaaa'. I told her she needs to start coaching Flambina on the fine art of the word... Dada.

Meanwhile, the boys were enthralled with everything she did and said and they took it upon themselves to teach her four words. They were bound and determined that she would be able to say these four words before we left their home from vacation.

In no particular order they were:

Carcinogen
Pulmonary
Perposterous
Cankle

We would be driving down the road, Mo driving, me sitting shotgun, the baby in the middle row with Bones beside her and the older boys in the back, when we'd hear Bones say over and over again...

Pulmonary. Ppppppulmonary. Pppppulmonary. Pulm-on-ary. Pulmonary.

You can only hear that so many times before you are driven nearly bat crap crazy. After the second minute, its like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Pulmonary. Pulmonary. Pulmonary.

And then there would be a change:

Perposterous. Pppppperposterous. Pppperppppposterous. PerPOSTerous.

Again... and again... until finally Mo or I would speak up and say, "OK. Done!" and he'd have to stop.

This went on... for two weeks. If Bones wasn't in the backseat drilling perposterous or pulmonary, the other two were drilling carcinogen and cankle.

But mostly it was Bones.

It really went like this:

Bones: Pulmonary

Flambina: *stoic*

Bones: Pulmonary

Flambina: *stoic*

Bones: Ppppppulmonary

Flambina: *blink*

I call every couple days. My first question is, "What's she saying?!" because I KNOW, without ANY doubt, that this sweet young thing is going to be talking. Sometimes she'll blurt something out when not thinking and then never say the word again, as if 1)surprised she said it and 2) she can't recreate it.

It's coming though. The Babbling Toddler Express is coming.

And today when I asked, Mo said, "She is starting on P words. She is trying to say pillow. If you pick up her pillow she'll say 'puh' as if sounding out a P".

Folks, it was just 10 days ago that Bones was working on the Ps. It was like ancient Chinese water torture. Drip. Drip. Drip. Pulmonary. Pulmonary. Pulmonary.

She doesn't say Dada, but she's going for P words? I think this is NOT a coincidence.

I don't care what anyone says. It registered, she figured it out, and it's coming.

I'm just excited at the new words that can be taught such as POOP! Every baby needs to know how to say poop!

Meanwhile, the boys are beside themselves for they know... it's coming. Next up: Pulmonary and Perposterous!

Mark my words...

Posted by Boudicca at 09:56 PM | Comments (5)

July 21, 2010

Odds and Ends

Bones slept over at a friends, leaving us with the two older boys.

A chance to take them to a movie they MIGHT like, that Bones would most certainly... not.

Inception.

Wow.

Be prepared to... think? I'm beat.

Late night, tough day. Odd story, if I can pull it together.

Things are never as... they seem. Rarely anyway. Perception.

Posted by Boudicca at 10:46 PM | Comments (4)

July 19, 2010

City Slickin' Smart

My boys won't swim in lakes. They just flat won't.

It really comes from the fact that S. FL lakes are notoriously dangerous to swim in. The water is always warm and, from what I gather (no research was done, this is just what I read, I think, somewhere) this makes our lakes conducive to bacteria and what not.

In this house we call it 'Getting Amoebas'.

If you talk about swimming in a S. FL lake, inevitably, one of my boys will chime in, "You don't want to do that. You'll get amoebas". Getting amoebas means you're going to die.

That's bad.

I didn't realize how much this had been hammered home until last summer, during our 'Annual Southern Tour' when visiting my Aunt in Alabama. She's always trying to think of fun things for our boys to do, and she succeeds. We've gone to Huntsville and done their museums and Marshall Space Center. We've gone to water parks. We go hiking, swimming, boating, grill hot dogs, make s'mores, and just all around have a great time.

But last summer... she encountered something she, not being from S. FL, had never experienced.

She took us to a lake... to swim.

It was a grassy park and folks were having picnics and playing ball with their dogs and... kids were swimming in this huge lake.

My boys stood at the edge.

"Go on, boys! Get in!" she exclaimed.

There they stood, the three of them, on the edge. "Nuh uh" they all said. Not a toe was to be dipped.

"What?" she questioned. "It's a lake! Go swim!"

Inching back, the boys looked at each other as these crazy Alabamians dunked their heads under water and swam around and splashed. They got more sullen. Quiet.

"It's slimy" one said as he dared to touch the water. "The bottom of the lake is slimy" and they all shuddered and my Aunt was left speechless.

"I don't get it, Bou. Your daddy and I used to swim in lakes all the time. What is up with your boys? Is it a city thing?" she inquired.

Getting closer to the boys, I whispered, "What's up?"

They were so close together now, they were nearly one. Together they went through the litany of what was wrong with this 'swim in the lake' thing.

The water looked dirty, the bottom of the lake felt disgusting, what about gators, and then the beat all end all as to why they REFUSED to go swimming, "Mom, don't these people know you can catch... amoebas in lakes?"

I told them repeatedly that amoebas were not a lake issue in that part of the country, there were no gators as the water was too cold, and if I got them sandals, they should try the swimming.

NO WAY, NO HOW, they were NOT only NOT going to swim in the lake, they were going to sit 3 feet away from the lake... quietly. For an hour.

And that... was that.

My Aunt was at a loss. She chalked it up to city boys and the lack of chlorine in the water as surely they were used to swimming in pools. I finally told her, "No, I can't convince them, but they think if they swim in your lake, they'll get amoebas and die..."

"What in the heck? Amoebas?" She had never heard of such a thing.

But that's the deal down here.

So it was off to Scout camp this summer, away camp, and preparations were coming to an end and I finally sat down with the two older boys and gave them the 'lake facts of life'.

"Look," said I, "There aren't any amoebas in the SC lakes. You're cool. Everyone is going to be swimming in those mountain lakes. The worst thing is the cold water, but it's OK. According to Scout rules, you have to have closed toe shoes, so you'll have water shoes and you won't care that the bottom is funky, and there are no gators. Hell, with all those kids around, there probably won't be any fish. Besides, you just went tubing down a river. You can swim in a lake."

That was my big Lake Pep Talk.

Convinced, they were excited. Lake swimming would be fine this summer. It would be safe.

Right?

So tonight was the first night I've had any amount of time to spend with my 15 year old alone, because since he got home at 2PM yesterday he's grabbed something to eat with friends, seen a movie, been to work, gone to the beach, and went to a friend's house for dinner.

Moi, the chauffeur, drove him home tonight, when I heard the story of 'swimming in the lake' and how it just flat won't happen again.

WE may have amoebas.

In South Carolina they have... leeches.

Yes. You heard that right. My son was PISSED.

Said he, "We took our SWIMMING TEST IN THAT LAKE, Mom. IN THAT LAKE. And there were LEECHES!"

What does one say to that as one is barreling down the highway? This is the year 2010. I live in S. FL. The only time the word LEECH comes from my lips is when I'm talking about medicine in history.

Or about a politician.

Nothing... like... REAL.

After a long pause, brain registry was slow tonight, I said, "Did you say leeches? When did they tell you this, before or AFTER the swim test?"

"Are you kidding? Do you think they ever TOLD US? We all took our swim test and like the next day, we're all swimming and some kid gets out of the lake and he has like seven or nine leeches all over him. We were like, 'What are THOSE?' and they told us leeches. Can you believe it? WE SWAM WITH LEECHES. We could have gotten LEECHES!"

Now being the Mom-person I am, I was trying to find a silver lining in all this. (Yes, I'm just about done with this Mom, gig. It's wearing me out. I'm running out of happy thoughts and silver linings and when you're trying to find a silver lining about frickin' LEECHES with your 15 year old, I assure you, you are digging DEEP.)

"Well, that does suck. Actually, that's pretty nasty. What did they do?"

"Someone pulled them off! It was BAD!"

I wasn't sure what the answer was going to be, not being a leech expert and all. I thought you had to burn them off, like stick the edge of a cigarette on them to make them release. But nobody smokes really, especially NOT in Scouts, and so what then? I'm thinking it's not leeches you burn off a body...

I continued, 'OK, so it's bad. Seriously though..." (silver lining time) 'Its not like... amoebas. I mean, its just nasty, but it's like a tick. I mean, if you go in the woods, you can get ticks. You go in the water, you can get leeches..."

I wanted to frickin' HURL.

He looked at me like I was the village idiot. "Mom, you can get diseases from leeches. Are you kidding?"

And he turned his head away in disgust.

Two points don't make a trend, the two points being amoebas and leeches, but I think my boys won't be waiting for that third data point.

There won't be any more lake swimming.

Ever.

Unless its a leech free zone.

Even then... I have doubt. They're pool boys.

Posted by Boudicca at 10:16 PM | Comments (26)

July 18, 2010

Home Again Home Again Jiggety Jig

And so it is that my older boys have returned home today, after a week at Boy Scout camp up on the border of South Carolina and North Carolina, in the mountains, a camp called Camp Old Indian.

I was wondering how it would be, certain they would fare well because 1) they had each other and there is a strong bond between the two, 2) they have survived a week, twice, in our local Boy Scout Camp, Tanah Keeta, a hell hole of sorts when staying the night for seven fold during the late month of June, and 3) they were to go white water rafting, the prospect of which seemed thrilling to them. The thought of white water rafting alone would see them through the week. Add to all that they are extraordinarily self sufficient when camping, as Boy Scouts is wont to make you, and there were no worries from Dear Old Mom.

At all.

My biggest worry only being that there were a boy or two going with them that bug the ever living stew out of my boys, on deep levels, my concern being only that one of my boys might try to smother said annoying boy or two in their sleep upon day six, when I knew nerves would be fried.

Fortunately it didn't happen, although on the trip home to the homestead my eldest said he was really struggling not to punch one of the boys in the face, knocking him unconscious... the thought of annoying boy(s) quietness for the length of time of loss of consciousness would have been so worth it.

How often have we not felt the same about a co-worker? Too often, I might add...

The weather was obviously much nicer than that of a S. FL summer camping outside in what I call 'Valley Forge tents'. There were NO mosquitos, only spiders, which according to Mr. T are one of his least favorite things in life. He still preferred spiders to being bitten by S. FL bugs... and he did inform me that for two days he peed outside in the woods because their bathroom had some huge ginormous cricket thing that would stare them down, something out of nightmares.

At least he had the option of peeing in the woods... being a boy and all.

Badges upon badges were earned, from textiles and basket weaving (no joke) to medicine, oceanography and shotgun. Muzzle loading will be taken next year as the class is long and fewer badges can be earned if it's taken.

Other than lacking one more promotion and time in rank, and four more Eagle required badges, my boys have enough badges for Eagle Scout. They will be getting Eagle Projects in order come next June.

It's not a rush for them, they feel no hurry, they just want to go to Camp and do things for fun, as opposed to 'required for a badge'. In their minds, the real fun begins after the obligations are over... such as participating with the Rangers where they do white water rafting and rappelling.

By next year, they want to be going to have a GREAT time, without regard to anything else.

We're off to see Pop tonight, who will be his normal weird self. He'll cry over how much he loves the boys, how sad he is that he's dying, and then harp on how long my oldest boy's hair is, never leaving it alone, making my eldest pull away more and care not what happens in the end to Pop. When you have nothing nice to say to someone, just carry on about something as ridiculous as hair, eventually that someone will tune you out and care less and less what happens in your life. I'll point it out to Pop, but it will be on deaf ears.

People don't change.

It's good to have them home. I missed them.

Posted by Boudicca at 01:16 PM | Comments (2)

July 17, 2010

City Slickers

When I was little, there were series of questions TGOO would put to us kids:

What's a Henway?
How Long is a Chinaman?
What's a Greek Urn?

And with that there was the little adage, 'If you put salt on a bird's tail, you can catch it."

They're kind of family jokes now. (Answers in extended entry.) It wasn't until I was probably a teenager when the reality hit, that if I was close enough to a bird to throw salt on it's tail, then I was close enough to catch it.

I remember going round and round with TGOO about how to get close enough to sprinkle salt on a bird's tail. He would just laugh. Actually, he snickers like that cartoon dog, Muttley.

And so this is a tale of... bird tails. The next generation. For those who read the previous post, this is an expansion of what I was teasing TGOO about in the comments.

When we do our Southern Tour, we always stop by my cousins' home. They live on a farm, both octogenarians, they have been married for over 60 years. Maybe 70... When we go, the boys ride on a golf cart with my cousin, John, who is 85, I believe, they make peach ice cream the old fashioned way with one of those bucket churns, and over time we've taken tours of the farm. I have pictures of my boys up in the hayloft, we've eaten some nasty apples, gone up to cows and avoided cowpatties.

I hang mostly with Billie, his wife, who is an amazing artist in the ways of textiles and it is from her I had this need to learn to tat. She's awesome.

I'm not sure where Bones was. I think he was outside getting into trouble with John, but Ringo and T were inside with me and looking out the window, we could see all the peahens running around outside.

We'd just finished churning peach ice cream and eating it, so the ice cream churn and all the fixings, ice, rock salt, sugar, were all over the floor and the table.

This is dang close to the entire conversation that occurred... to my best recollection.

(Read all of it with a heavy southern accent... except my boys. They don't have an accent. At all.)

My Aunt K (TGOO's older sister): Hey boys, you should go out there and see if you can catch yourself a peahen!

The boys stood to look outside and see the mess of peahens running around.

Aunt K: Go on out there and see if you can catch one...

Me: If you put salt on their tails, you can catch one.

Mr. T: Really?

Me: Yup.

Billie: That's what they say...

Mr. T: Billie, can we go into your kitchen and get some salt?

Ringo: Hey, we don't have to. We have this big box of rock salt right here!!!

Me:

Aunt K:

Billie:

Mr. T: Hey, if we throw the rock salt at the peahens and it lands on their tails, do you think we can catch them?

Ringo, standing with the box of salt: I bet that works! It's salt!

Me: Uh...

Billie: You boys go on and sit down and leave my peahens alone...

Aunt K, snickering like TGOO: Yeah, this isn't a good idea. Some other time.

And the boys let it go.

Dang, for being smart, they're not so swift at times... And I'm not saying a word. I wonder how long it will take for them to catch on?

About 3 lb, Yes, XX drachma

Posted by Boudicca at 09:15 PM | Comments (5)

July 16, 2010

The Queen of Contraband

I was at the Rehab Center yesterday with Pop. He was in his room getting cleaned up, while I waited in the waiting area. It was there I met a man who appeared to be around 90.

He said he was a Navigator in WWII... I think my assessment was pretty accurate.

So there he sat on the couch, waiting for his wife who was the actual resident, when he said to me, "Do you think she's almost out of that bathroom?"

I'd seen her enter with a nurse previously and so I said, "Give her 5. I bet she's finished in 5."

We made idle chit chat when he said, "I have something to give you..." and he handed me his calling card. He is retired Air Force.

And on this card it read the following way:

Center of card:
Joe Bag of Doughnuts (made up name)
Retired
AirForce
Man of Many Talents.

Upper Left hand corner:
Violins Appraised
Babies Delivered
Sailboats Built
Revolutions started

Upper Right hand corner:
Orgies organized
Hurricanes diverted
Tigers tamed
Land deals

And it went from there. This guy was 90. I did laugh. I finally said, "Did you get married before the war or after the war?" He replied, "During the war..."

I said, "So she is your war bride?" He grinned and said, "Yes she is!"

She came out of the bathroom a few minutes later, hair perfectly coifed, dressed in her best, struggling to walk with her walker, a nurse beside her. She eyed me suspiciously.

I smiled and said, "Your husband has been keeping me entertained!"

She looked at him and said, "Has he now?"

I continued to smile and said, "You must be his warbride..."

She looked at me oddly and said, "What?"

I repeated, "You are his warbride..."

She immediately smiled warmly, the stern look of caution was gone and she said, 'Why, yes! I am!" I said my good byes and let them spend the afternoon alone.

Seriously though, I wanted to tell her that his stash of viagra was safe with me. Seriously. He can be an orgie organizer, but I'm not a participant!

----------------------

Everyone in my husband's family knows how I feel about Pop's food restrictions. I get it and will abide by them... mostly.

However, he is an adult, life is short, he is dying (not today or tomorrow, but his body is dying slowly), and if there is something he REALLY wants... I'm going to sneak it in.

So... a little background. Make no mistake, Pop is dying of Chronic Kidney Disease. His Parkinson's is bad right now and the Neurologist today ordered a special drug from Israel that will help and not hurt his kidneys.

Today, I don't know what the heck happened. He was awake, alert, he could talk, and he took TWELVE steps in PT... to date he had NOT taken even one, and today he took 12. Go figure.

Back from the doctors, my husband put Pop, for the first time, in this recliner they put in his room... this recliner has a dumping feature as it will lift up and dump you out. It's for folks who can't move.

Well, I'm not sure what he was thinking, that he was Superman or something because he took TWELVE steps today, but sitting in that chair, he decided to get himself out, and he ended up dumping himself out onto the floor, sliding onto it in a heap, when everyone had told him SPECIFICALLY NOT TO TOUCH the controls.

Pop is a stubborn bastard and he found himself on the floor yelling for help, luckily he didn't get hurt, his ego hugely wounded.

It's the big talk with all the nurses. Now that we know he's not hurt, and they have a real glimpse into his personality now, they're clucking and laughing about it... laughing WITH us, while begging my husband not to verbally beat the snot out of him, as my husband was PISSED! The nurses were Pop's first line of defense against my husband... which is really very funny.

You had to see it to see how ironic and amusing... Pop who carries on that these women don't care about him (a complete lie, I am growing to love these women), being protected by these same nurses from his son. "Now don't you go in there yelling at him! He learned his lesson!" My husband replied something like, "Not yet he hasn't..." to which my favorite nurse, who I think is from Jamaica said, "Oh yes he has. YOU be NICE to your father..." as she also laughed.

The entire thing was absurd.

Anyway, so he dumped himself out at 3PM. I showed up at 5 to feed him dinner. The serving help had a bottle of Pepsi on a rolling cart

Pop: Is that Pepsi? I want Pepsi.

(Pop is on a nectar only for fluids. It slides down and he won't choke.)

Me: You can't have Pepsi.

Pop: I want Pepsi. I want a soda. They have it.

I asked the server, she looked at his menu and said, He's on nectar only. No, he cannot have it.

A sour expression crossed his face. I said to him, "Pop, I'll sneak you in a soda tomorrow. Take it easy..."

The daughter of an old lady who sits next to Pop leaned over to me and said, "There are sodas next to the iced tea. You don't have to smuggle one in..."

Pop heard it.

An hour later, we were back in his room and he looked at me and said, "I want a soda. You heard her. You know where they are. Get me a soda."

So I sneaked out, got him a soda, acting as if it was mine, and got a cup full of nectar and a straw, as if it was for him.

I walked back in and whispered, "You BETTER not choke on this. If you choke and die, it'll be two funerals, first yours, and then mine after your sons kill me. Drink SLOW!"

He drank it slowly, relishing every sip. Finally halfway through, he started to choke and he said to me, 'That's enough. That's all I needed."

I dumped it out, recycled the can and said, "Here, drink this nectar, that way it washes the rest of it down..."

Dang. I got the straw to his lips, he started to sip when a nurse walked in and said, "Oh! He has been such a bad boy today!"

Pop and I stopped. I could feel the sucking stop. I looked at him and found him staring at me, midsuck. We were frozen.

She said, "Yes, he tried to get out of that chair ALL by himself today!"

I felt Pop start to suck again. I looked at him again and he was boring a hole through me. I grinned at him and said to her, "Really? You don't say..."

All I kept thinking was, "If you had been here just ONE MINUTE earlier, you'd have seen how bad he's REALLY been!"

My brother in law, upon hearing the story later said to me, "You're going to slip him a slice of pizza aren't you?"

I replied, "You're damn right. I carry a big purse. A piece of pizza will fit just fine. If he asks for pizza... I'll cut it up and bring it in..."

My brother in law laughed.

Life is too short to deny one's self the little pleasures when you're at the end...

Besides, my sister in law said she slipped her grandfather a beer when he was in rehab, in the same situation.

I appear to be Queen of the Contraband.

Posted by Boudicca at 10:02 PM | Comments (10)

July 15, 2010

Summer Fun

Time with Bones

Bones had me take him to see Knight and Day yesterday. It was our movie day. I'd not heard of the movie and when I heard Tom Cruise was in it, I was like, "...great."

That said, we REALLY enjoyed ourselves! It is just a fun summer movie. Tom Cruise was fun to watch and I keep quoting him from some of his parts. He made me laugh... a lot.

Cameron Diaz is infectious with her laughter and was a good choice for her part. She is not aging well... her face. Her bod looks great, but she's got that 'blondes age harder' look and she needs to stay away from plastic surgery or they're going to make her look weird.

-------------

Pinheads

That would be me. The day before I went on vacation, I got a message that my passwords at work were expiring, so I changed them... and didn't write it down.

You know where this is going, right?

I completely forgot what they were, which in my company is a VERY bad thing because... it took me 2 hours to get back up and running.

My coworkers have been teasing me. Someone walks into our office and they say things like, "Guess who went on vacation, changed their password, didn't write it down, and... forgot it?"

Nice.

I finally said, "I know! I know! Sheesh. I'm too old not to be writing this stuff down. I GET IT!"

Tough crowd.

I bonded with our IT guy, who really is great, and who SWEARS he doesn't think I'm a pinhead.

My coworkers, however, do.

On a sidenote: I could never work in IT. They have to hold too many hands and that would make me bat crap crazy.
----------------------

PSA

Did you know when you have kidney disease you itch? I don't think I've ever scratched someone as much as I scratch Pop.

He's like a dog. I scratch him and the other arm trembles, like a dogs leg will vibrate when you scratch them just the right way. I've been teasing him about it.

Scratching his shoulders, his arms, his legs... he begs to have us scratch all over his head... and then he moans in contentment. His eyes roll to the back of his head and he moans.

Good grief. It's really funny... and then I lotion him down and massage his arms and legs.

Now that I know kidney disease causes itching, it is all coming together.

------------------

Everyone Needs to Grow Up

I'm going to step out here and talk about LeBron James. People need to move on. He's a frickin' free agent. He can do what he wants.

Besides, the kid has been with the same team since he was EIGHTEEN. Give me a break. He can't get better if he isn't able to spread his wings. He needs to play with new people, figure out what he likes and doesn't like, and grow up a bit.

Sheesh. He's 25 and people are acting like he's some greedy grown up bastard.

Give me a break.

It's a frickin' GAME.

---------------------------------

Confidantes

I appear to be the only one he'll talk to about dying. During a large moment of lucidity he said to me, "I'm slowly dying, Bou. I know it..." and then he added, "I think I'm ready..."

Then... five minutes later he asked, "Do you think I'm dying?" to which I responded, "You tell me... are you?"

He said to me, "Do you think I should die?" and I replied, "That's not my decision, Pop. Look inside yourself... and you tell me. Make peace with yourself and decide."

He said, "I think I want to fight this..." and I said, "Make peace with yourself anyway... it'll be easier to fight if you're right with yourself."

By the end, he'd decided he's going to fight and I said I'd stand beside him no matter his decision. If he wants to fight, I'll fight with him. If he wants to die, I'll hold his hand.

He said to me, crying, "I'm sorry I'm such a pain in the ass." I laughed and said, "Pop, you're not a pain in the ass. Six months ago you were a pain in the ass. Now... you just have needs and we're here to help. This is not a big deal."

----------------------

War Paint

If you are at a pool in S. FL and you see a blonde floppy haired kid that has a blue streak of zinc from the center of his nose and across his cheek, and a red streak of zinc from the center of his nose and across the other cheek...

... it's not a village idiot. It's not some lost soul from Braveheart...

It's Bones.

At least he's not burning.

-------------------------

Posted by Boudicca at 08:57 PM | Comments (2)

July 14, 2010

Revelations

He's not thriving where he is. It has become more mental than physical. Forget the kidney disease, the mild vascular congestion, and the Parkinson's... if you lose the will to fight, that is the biggest impediment.

He's going to die from what is in his head, not what is failing in the rest of his body.

He's always had some mental issues, but he is in a full blown depression now and that's not something you can pull someone out of. You can change their diet for kidneys, you can get them PT and massages for the Parkinson's (PD), but depression is a scary monster animal in itself and that's not readily fixable, in particular at his age. He has a history of not being tolerant to anti depression drugs.

Shaz was right and the pictures and cards did help. It also gave me insight as to what is going on in his head. This entire time I thought he was afraid to die, something that puzzled me as he's so deep in his Catholic faith and in one hand he's raging wanting to die to be with Ma and in the next hand he's having a fit that he doesn't want to die.

The hippocrisy of it all has made me very angry. His seeing all the framed pictures I brought in and set on the shelves so from his bed that's all he sees, with an 8x10 of Ma smiling upon him front and center, brought him to tears and a confession... he wants to die as he's so very tired of it all, but he doesn't want to die because he loves his grandchildren and children so much, he can't bear to leave them.

He cries for not seeing his grandchildren grow up.

And THAT I completely get and now he doesn't seem so hippocritical to me. Now it's... heartbreaking. It has finally added the element of sad to it all... what makes death so difficult.

It is often not the death itself, but not wanting to leave those behind.

He has lost his dignity. There is no compassion where he is staying. It is a clinical setting where A, B and C must be done to get to destination D. There is no care for his self preservation when taking care of him. Women with rubber gloves come in, strip him down, do what they have to do, and move on. There is no idle chatter, no warmth.

It is cold.

Rehab centers suck. They're all pretty much the same. This one just happens to have a better reputation for the medical end.

I foresee a hunger strike. He'll eventually decide he's done with it all and quit eating and drinking. I give it a week or two before he decides it's not worth it.

I fed him dinner last night. Bones, my new hero, and I spent an hour and a half with him, coaxing him to eat and drink. (The drink is a post in itself and I can't go there right now.) I told him he had a choice, he could drink the awful swill he must drink and eat the food before him, or make a choice to stop both, knowing he will die.

In his mind, I know he views this as what he can control and I see him starving himself to death. He knows how I feel about suicide. I'm cool with it. And when he and I have had these conversations, he gets all self righteous with me, "Well, *I* am Catholic and WE don't believe in these things... Its a sin and you can burn in hell..." to which I normally shrug and say, "Yup, that's too bad you are confined by those walls..."

So to see him on the brink of a hunger wand fluid strike once again makes me angry at the hippocrisy and makes me want to shake the crap out of him and scream, "IT's THE SAME F***ING THING! IT'S SUICIDE YOU JERK!", but then I realize, that in his mind... it's not. And this... is his escape hatch.

And he deserves it.

So I say nothing.

There are ways to die and ways not to die. As I sit here gaining an enormous amount of weight through this entire ordeal, not exercising or eating right, I've realized, I'd rather die of a heart attack in the gutter during a run on the street than die the way he's dying. So much of his struggles are because he didn't work out the muscles in his body. (Not the PD... there was no avoiding that. He is facing a cardiovascular fight with both lungs and heart.) Much of what will take him down now is... the lack of exercise and care for his diet for 70 years.

And it's a sh!tty way to die.

I'm joining a gym this week.

Posted by Boudicca at 07:15 AM | Comments (9)

July 12, 2010

Home

We are back. Bones is a most excellent travel companion. We made this all about him, stopping whenever and wherever he liked. He only wanted to stop twice... once for Chick-fil-a and again for a doughnut.

Easy.

We went directly to the rehab center to see Pop. I'm not sure what I expected.

He's in rehab... so I guess I expected him sitting up and watching TV or... something. Instead...

...

... I just wasn't prepared. My husband had told me he aged. I guess I didn't grasp that. Was it possible for him to look WORSE than the last time I saw him two weeks ago? Really?

It was.

And is.

The rehab center is great. He hates it. The family has been up in arms over certain things they do there, but I'm completely on their side. It's not all warm and inviting like the crappy rehab centers in town. It has a cold hospital feel, but the goal is to get people up and moving, not make them feel at home.

He looks terrible.

I don't know how to describe it. It's been eating at me tonight. I walked in to find him slack jawed with no expression, shaking, shaking, shaking, as his meds had warn off and it wasn't yet time for his new ones. He cries a lot. He's on O2. He is slouched in bed in a pseudo fetal position, his hands slightly bent. He is stiff. I think dementia is setting in.

We all bring something different to the table. My brother in law is a huge fitness buff and has been monitoring his diet. My husband pours over his medical charts. My sister in law has been coming with her baby every day for 2 to 3 hours at time and sitting with him... outside, inside, talking and listening.

I walked in and saw bare walls, his Father's Day cards closed up on a cabinet, a clock but no calendar.

"Do you know what day it is?" I asked as I opened his Father's Day card and put them on a shelf, big as day, for him to see.

He looked at me, tongue moving back and forth as it does now, slack jawed, droopy eyed, 'No..." he muttered. 'I don't know. Is it Saturday?"

I said, "No, it's Monday, and there is no way for you to know since you have no calendar and no concept of what is going on. Tomorrow I'm bringing you a HUGE calendar with a big number on it, a tear away, and I'm putting it on the TV so every day you know what day it is."

He smiled and said, "What happened to the weekend?"

I walked around his room and said over my shoulder, "You're asking the wrong person, Pop. I've been in a car for two days..." and he laughed.

I texted my sister in law and asked her daughter to draw him pictures that I can tape to his walls. I'm going to the Catholic store and I'm going to get a crucifix on a stand, a statue of St. Gerard if I can find one, otherwise I will find a statue of Mary or perhaps St. Jude. I'm going to his apartment and getting pictures of Ma, the grandchildren and hopefully I'll find a rosary. I'm putting them up all over his room, so no matter where he turns, there is something familiar. I'm going to pick up one of those window stick things that has lots of colors and will shine in his room...

As I listed the items I'd be getting and decorating with, my husband shook his head and said, "You don't need to turn this into a Catholic Church..." more so we laugh as it's a Jewish rehab center. I told him that was not my intent, only for him to feel comfort.

We all bring something different to the table. Who would have thought that analytical me would bring decorating to this mess?

Tomorrow is work as well... I'm past swimming in fire to being completely engulfed as of tomorrow. All hell broke loose and honestly, I cannot fix it, but will just get the wheels turning.

Welcome home.

Posted by Boudicca at 10:03 PM | Comments (7)

July 10, 2010

Getting all Random in Atlanta

We are in Atlanta having had a great breakfast with Zonker and Denny this morning! The Great Flambina was in an excellent mood, which means good things.

Babies can be so unpredictable. She spent so much time eating, I think she forgot she might want to get down and run. That's a bonus!

It had been too long since I'd seen Zman and he looked fantastic. And as always, it was such a pleasure to see Denny!!!
-----------------------------

I'm in love with my niece. I can't get enough of her. And even better for me, she likes me. She shunned me the first few days and now willingly comes to me, wants to sit next to me, and allows me to carry her around.

I'm not completely fooled. I realize I'm being used as a vehicle at times. I'm another big person that can get her a cookie or cracker.

I'll take it.

-------------------------

Although I keep laughing about it, I'm not ready for work. I have been calling in every few days to see what's been going on. It's not a control issue. My tech lead is handling things and I have no issue with that. I'm calling so I can prepare myself for what awaits.

Yesterday's call started with, "You better have your big boy pants for Tuesday. It's hit the fan while you were gone, I'm going out of town, and you're left with it..."

I'm not sure what I'm getting into, but I gather it's nasty, because when I threw out the nastiest scenario I could think of, the response was, "You will WISH it was that..."

So that's Tuesday. Until then, I'll keep sniffing baby. She's my fix...

----------------------------

Ringo and Mr. T leave for Boy Scout camp tomorrow morning. I'm making the trek into the mountains to drop them off while Bones stays with my sister and the baby.

I think what has impressed me most this vacation is how good Bones is with my niece. NOTHING is too mundane. NOTHING is silly. He will do absolutely anything for her, from rolling a ball to her 100 times, to reading the same book to her (putting on different voices) 1000 times, to making up new games that he thinks might occupy her time, things most of us would not think of.

For instance, at the end of her rope, her little stroller in the house, he suggested she stroll her monkey, Ah Ah, through the house. That game was good for TEN MINUTES. Ten.

He'll sing to her, play with her, read to her, make faces to make her laugh, think of things she'd like to eat, lay on the floor and let her crawl all over him... it is endless, his patience.

He may be a high strung on the go kid, but I've seen a side of him I find endearing. He truly loves her to the depths of his soul... and he shows her all the time. He is the huggiest kid and he'll spend an hour on his knees, playing with her, hugging her and kissing her every couple seconds.

She's a well loved baby, but let me tell you, I don't think any baby has been kissed and hugged as much as she has this past two weeks... and that's just him.

----------------------------

My new obsession for learning is... tatting. I have taken up tatting. I've learned to needle tat and am now learning to single shuttle tat.

For those who do not know, the finished product looks much like lace. It is along the lines of quilting in the sense it is something the women in our past of done for many many generations.

We were in the car on the way to Atlanta as I was struggling with the shuttle and thread. My husband was watching me out of the corner of his eye.

Him: So... what's your goal for this?

Me: Actually, I have a project in mind, a small project, and I think this would be a nice trim. Plus, I can use it occassionally on some of my quilts to accent.

Him: OK. Your intent is NOT to tat an entire quilt.

Me: *blink* This is tatting. It's like lace. You don't tat a quilt...

Him: Yeah, but this is YOU we're talking about. You'll do anything, take on any HUGE project and think absolutely NOTHING of it. Normal people might not tat a quilt, but you would... and you'd finish it too. So... I was just making sure I knew the goals.

And that made me laugh. I guess after 19 years of marriage... he kind of gets it.

Heh.

Silk ribbon embroidery is up next as well.

And if you notice, these are things that can be done in a car... while waiting on kids. Quilting you cannot. Tatting and silk ribbon embroidery you can. I need more to keep my hands and mind occupied as I sit from place to place waiting on kids...

Posted by Boudicca at 07:26 PM | Comments (10)

July 07, 2010

Genetics, They Do The Darndest Things

Do you ever spend time dissecting your features, figuring out from whom you inherited them?

People say I look just like my mother, but we look enough not alike that I'm not her clone. My eyebrows are different for one. I found them on her maternal grandfather, I believe. I remember looking at the picture and saying, "Those are my eyebrows! I think..."

I'm a bigger person than my mother. She is tiny. I'm the big girl, which makes people laugh when they meet me because I'm just not that big. Imagine two summers ago when I was talking to my father's sister and realized, I am more broad like she is. The upper part of my body seems to be more McInnis. (Hence the background of this blog... TGOO's family are of Clan McInnis.)

People say my sister and I look alike and that she and my Mom look alike and that of course the three of us look alike... but I actually look MORE like my Mom as Morrigan has something a bit different than my Mom. Mom's coloring and mine is nearly exact. Mo is more... Celtic in color. And her nose is not that of my Mom's or mine. I think my Mom and I have a French nose. My sister has a nose from my father's side, I believe.

And my father and my brother? If I'm looking only peripherally in the room, I cannot tell to whom I'm speaking... I can easily mistake one for the other. Yet, there is something in TN that is NOT like TGOO and I think he is more Copeland in some areas, my paternal grandmother's side of the family. He has a stronger chin than my father.

And so it goes... I find it fascinating to sift through pictures of our family, dating back to the late 1800s and seeing a feature that has been passed down through the gene pools, sometimes skipping generations and generations and then popping up out of nowhere.

Absolutely fascinating.

I do this with my kids, constantly. Mr. T has always looked like my sister. From day one, people have commented about how he looks like her. He looks far more like my side of the family than my husband's and its not just his Celtic coloring, he just looks like our family.

Or did.

Things are morphing. I've been noticing as he hit this last 12-13 year old growth spur that he's not growing like us. His torso has gotten long. I've been calling him, 'Stretch'. My aunt brought it to my attention last week. He walked through and she said, "He doesn't look so much like your Daddy anymore. He's got that long torso... we don't have those..."

Yet my husband's sister has a torso like that as does her second son, making me think that perhaps the fact that Mr. T and his cousin are looking more and more alike has something to do with my husband's MOTHER's side, the side from Northern Italy.

I said to my husband, "We need to find pictures of men from that side of the family..."

Husband: There aren't any. Remember? All my mom's brothers died in infancy.

Me: Dang. I forgot. All of them died of some respiratory failure by age one.

Husband: yeah, remember the story, we weren't supposed to name any of our boys Carmine because all the Carmines died?

Me: Right. That's right. And her uncle Carmine got hit by the trolley, sealing the fate of the cursed name... Carmine.

Trust me, it didn't hurt my heart when my mother in law, upon hearing of my first pregnancy said, "Don't name him Carmine if it's a boy..." No problem there.

Anyway, so there are no pictures of men on that side of the family, and I do believe this long torso is of my husband's mother's mother's side... but we don't know for sure. We have 120 years of pictures... they do not.

Sometimes we don't have to look so far... sometimes the similarities are right there before us, but for some reason we never see them, which is the case of what occurred this past week at my Aunt's house.

I give you... Ringo. We were on my aunt and uncle's boat and Ringo's hair was blowing off his forehead. I can't remember the last time we saw his forehead...

Ringo.jpg

We were in my Aunt's bedroom looking at all the family pictures on the wall when we found a picture VERY similar to this one of TGOO's father, my granddaddy. The picture was STRAIGHT ON, so it gave a better representation, but this one will have to do... even though it's not as exact.

Grandaddy small.JPG

My aunt looked at the picture, stood there for a minute and said, "My Lord, Ringo has your granddaddy's forehead!"

And sure enough, he does.

For years, I kissed that little forehead with the strong widow's peak and wondered, "From whom did he get this forehead?" It's not mine, not my husband's, not either of our parents... and now, I know.

We're trying to convince him to wear his hair back off his forehead and he just flat won't. It's a shame.

He's a handsome boy.

Posted by Boudicca at 08:47 PM | Comments (9)

July 06, 2010

HB, Mom!

Today is my Mother's Birthday.

I think I redeemed myself in the cooking department after the past holiday's beef tenderloin fiasco, when after an hour of cooking Dad's electric thermometer decided to go negative upon checking progress, only for us to surmise the meat had been... frozen, to my surprise. Tonight's dinner was a pork tenderloin in apple brandy.

Except we didn't have apple brandy. We had apple juice. So I guess it was pork tenderloin in apple juice. (It is cooked with sliced apples as well.)

It was good. For a side I served steamed green beans and stuff baked potatoes. And we had her favorite for dessert, angel food cake with fudge frosting.

I went to the store earlier to pick up candles. As I walked down the aisle with candles in hand, I looked down to my palm and saw the 6 and the 9 and thought, 'Hunh. I didn't think about putting a 69 on her cake, big as day...'

Fortunately the boys are still clueless... even Ringo, who knows a lot, but that still, thankfully, escapes him!

We ended the night with the Great Flambina sitting on her lap, doing her stupid pet tricks, of which there are many, and being her captivating self.

A good time was had by all....

Happy Birthday, Mom!

And on a sidenote, Bones got her a Hoops and Yo Yo cake server that screams, "PARTY! PARTY! PARTY!" which was far better than any of the wine glasses he had wanted to select yesterday. Nothing about hiding one's 'inner thin woman' or 'breast cancer'. What a shock it would have been to Dad if she'd opened a 'divorced' wine glass....


Posted by Boudicca at 10:09 PM | Comments (8)

July 05, 2010

How Regifting Got Started

My mother's birthday is tomorrow, so in preparation, we took the boys to Hallmark to get birthday cards. I'd already gotten her birthday gifts.

As we picked up cards, Bones decided to walk around and pick something out for her himself... a painted wine glass. One year I'd gotten her one, and so in his mind, this is something we always do.

I stood at the card aisle, mulling over cards and sayings (some of them very funny, one talking about how scientists have discovered why some animals eat their young, but since I couldn't send it to myself, I didn't buy it) when Bones came up and said, 'I want to get Mimi this one'.

I looked at the wine glass and it said something along the lines of having a thin woman inside, but keeping it hidden with a glass of wine.

Bones doesn't read. He only looks at pictures and colors. He CAN read, he just... doesn't.

I read the glass to him and said, "mmm... I don't think so. Mimi is a thin woman." He has much to learn. You don't gift things to women talking about the 'inner thin woman hidden inside'.

"Geez," he replied, "You never like my ideas" and he stomped off.

I turned back to the cards, only to have him return minutes later this time sporting a different glass in each hand.

"I like these," said he.

Looking in the right hand, I replied, "Bones, she doesn't play tennis" as the glass had tennis balls and rackets painted all over it, "and...", I continued, "She's not getting divorced" as I took the other glass in my hand, turning it around and around to see painted pictures of a ball and chain snapped in half and a house being cut in half by a big saw.

Bones' body got all schlumpy. "But this is what they HAVE," he declared, "and besides, I like these!"

Looking down at my blonde haired flaky son, I replied, "Fine. Get the tennis glass, but she's NOT getting divorced..."

Sheesh.

He stomped away again, because I'm the bad guy and hate all his ideas, and I turned once again to the cards.

Two minutes passed when he reappeared, "Fine, I like this one, but she's not my Mother, sister, or friend," he said with great exasperation.

I stood there looking at him, seeing the pretty pink colors all over the glass that read, 'Mother, sister, friend' and replied, "And... she doesn't have breast cancer".

"GEEZ!" he said loudly. 'You hate ALL my ideas..."

I'd reached my limit at this point, contemplating sending myself the card about eating one's young, when I took a deep breath and said, "Bones. You can get ANY glass you want. Really. Just know... she doesn't play tennis, she's not hiding her inner thin woman, she's not getting divorced and she doesn't have breast cancer. Any of them... I really DO.NOT.CARE."

He stomped off yet again... and found something very sweet, not drinking related.

Good Grief.

Posted by Boudicca at 04:56 PM | Comments (1)

July 04, 2010

Spectrums

Today is the 4th of July.

My husband joined us yesterday, a day later than he expected, losing an airfare having to reschedule as he continued to work with the doctor to figure out what is wrong with his father. My husband's sister is a microbiologist working on AIDS and Cancer, depending on grants and funding, and with her and my husband's medical background, both of them grounded and steeped in logic, the nephrologist has pretty much been having round table discussions as to Pop, his symptoms, and ruling things out.

Compassion has been the word of the week as the doctor has been trying to piece it together with as few invasive tests as possible. You can only put an 84.5 year old man with the ailments he has, through so much. Blood cancers were ruled out without having to do a bone marrow. Kidney biopsies have been nixed as nearly too cruel.

And as my husband says, "It matters not how we got here, just that we are where we are."

And we are.

So he got in yesterday, a pervasive concern in all our minds that he'd not be able to join us, he the one who really needs to get away more than anyone.

Watching one's parent die... sucks.

But out of this, I believe, has come a closeness with his eldest sister he has not had before. She being seven years older, and moving away as quickly as she could to get away from Pop, never visiting, is the sibling that dropped everything to help. For a week they lived together, ate together, and poured over data together, both their temperaments, in their very essence, more similar than I would have ever suspected, she typically seeming more high strung and... well... being a socialist and all.

And the day before she departed, she confessed to him, that she had not really come for Pop. He is who he is and always will be. She had come for my husband, for her brother.

I know he is touched by that, and what happened this week has forged a bond between them that was not forged in their earlier years. In all that is bad, some very very good has occurred.

We cannot lose sight of the good.

He left the West Palm Beach airport to find a young couple at the gate. The woman had been crying so very hard and they held on to each other until separated by boarding calls, he in cammies off to Afghanistan and she to wait at home for his return. I was glad to hear the airport let her go all the way to the gate. My husband said it was heart breaking.

Upon his boarding to his plane for Pensacola in Atlanta, there was a seasoned military man, as my husband put it, not so young as the man he'd seen leaving his heart behind, waiting to board. Hopped up on energy, bouncing around, he'd cut in front of my better half getting on the plane, which made my husband laugh.

They started to talk and the man, who we strongly suspect was a Marine, said, "It's been 14 hours to get here! I don't even know what day it is!" to which my husband replied, laughing, "It's 12:20 on Saturday and I suspect you get to do this entire day all over, because isn't it Sunday where you came from?"

The military man looked at his watch and said, "It's 9:50 in the evening there!"

My husband said, "Exactly! You get to do this entire day over... but THIS TIME, with your family!"

He told me later, "I didn't know they make Marines so extroverted. I think he was just so excited to see his family!" We both laughed at the stories he recalled with the Marine going home, laughed with happiness for him.

So on the 3rd of July, my husband saw both sides of the spectrum, a young man leaving his sweetheart to serve our great Country and a man coming home to his family... after so many months away... full of hope and hopped up on excitement and love. He had a wife and daughter waiting for him.

Happy Fourth of July. May we all remember what this Country is all about, what our Founding Fathers sacrificed for us and what our men and women continue to do... following in their footsteps.

Posted by Boudicca at 09:25 AM | Comments (3)

July 02, 2010

iPhones

I've been unplugged, so I'm catching up on email and whatnot. Y'all may have seen this. My sister sent it to me and I can't quit laughing.

More tomorrow...

BTW, serious language alert!

Posted by Boudicca at 09:56 PM | Comments (6)