Tuesday dawns with the soft droning of the AC and HEPA filters. Snookums is still asleep as I pad into the kitchen to start the coffee to brewing, then onwards to the studio to check the mail and social media while I wait for it to brew.
So our new routine begins. When Snook rises, we will have coffee and coffee cake, then pills, then vitals. The kitchen table now looks like a medical office, with blood pressure cuffs, pulse-ox meters, forehead thermometers and scales. She complained of nausea last night, and just feeling puny today, but eating seems to make her feel better. The blood pressure is high for the first time since we came home, but I am not so sure the machine we use is the best for her, so just ordered a wrist type that may be more comfortable. We don’t need hospital grade accuracy.
But she can remember routines once she starts them. I remind her that the dogs haven’t been fed, and she remembers how to fill the bowls. Same with the feral Katz family. It pains me to remind her of her morning chores, but she has always found comfort in them and seems to appreciate the reminders. Her mind is still quick with humor, but her short term memory is shot.
I keep the bills on the table and record whether they are paid or not, and she goes through them several times a day asking if they had been paid. If she remembers, that will be another milestone. As the dust settles, I think I would like to take a bit of time each day to chronicle it and perhaps if she recovers that lost section of her brain, these will serve to tickle her memory. Then again, maybe I just chronicle them for myself and my readers. The not knowing is killing me.
However, the mornings are still soft like they used to be with Snooks puttering around the house in her housecoat, and me trying to look useful while the caffeine slowly infuses my body with its magical goodness.
Sunday morning. I hear Snookums get up, and struggle to get into her cloths, then use the walker to go into the bathroom. I want to rise and help her but stifle the urge and pretend to sleep as she struggles to steer around furniture and dogs.
We have hit the dreaded plateau in her recovery where we know she is going to reside for a time. She is more animated now and rereads the get-well cards repeatedly. She doesn’t recall reading them before, but she knows the people that sent them. The same with the bills. She knows some must be paid and others should wait but doesn’t remember having gone through them a day earlier.
When I did arise, someone had started the coffee and opened the drapes, and Snook was watching the neighbors from the sofa with her morning coffee. She remembers our morning ritual of coffee cake and coffee that I have now combined with taking the morning vitals and medicines, and she quickly followed me to the kitchen for that. That is an important time for her, and I sure don’t want to miss it.
Today is pill sorting day when we fill up the pill boxes for the upcoming week. There are so many. I managed to get mine sorted, and Amber sorted Snooks, so one chore down. We have tons of medical waste that needs to get emptied this day, and that will be my major contribution to orderliness. A few other chores, checking the mails again, then lunch. If I keep prep simple, I can fix our lunch, but as soon as I get over creative, I quickly discover my limits. So it is mostly pre-prepared foods and dips.
The upcoming week will be a bit easier with two medical visits mid-week, one for me and one for Snookums. I am very sick of that place. Snook will have a follow up visit with the neurologist. Her home nursing will also start next week with two visits by the nurse, two PT visits, and possibly a speech therapist. I was thinking about occupational therapy for her too, but the nurse suggested that it would be better to do it as a fine tuning to the physical therapy. I am mixed with that but will go along with it for a time.
Housekeeping has never been my strong suit, so I am checking into getting a little help with lite housekeeping. Snook has always been a plugger and has never liked clutter. That’s why she married a clutterer. It is the natural order of things ….
So my life has changed, and I must change with it. I am not feeling all that confident …
It has been the week from hell. Snookums had a stroke at the Friday shabbat meal, and is still in the hospital as of today, though in the stroke unit instead of ICU. She lost the ability to speak while she was fixing dinner, so no one was watching her.
My niece came home from work and found Snookums crying in the kitchen because she burned the challah bread we have every Shabbat and was unable to speak. Of course, it was the ambulance at this point.
Then she had other problems the following morning. I had imaging scheduled in the same hospital early that morning, and so I was able to visit right after shift change. She was having trouble urinating and so they put some sort of vacuum device on her, but I don’t think she could force herself to pee in bed. I could tell by the way she was trying to touch her bladder and the frown on her face that she was in very bad pain. Snook is very stoic, and seldom shows when she is in misery.
They said they didn’t want to put a catheter in because of the danger of bleeding, and they had her on high powered blood thinners, and so later she went into arrhythmia and tachycardia. They thought it was another problem, but I was certain it was the stress of a full bladder. I know my woman. I believe today too, because when they finally got the catheter in, the heart settled down.
But they fiddlefarted around all day trying to get her to urinate, and finally by shift change, I blew up. Three nurses tried getting a catheter in and couldn’t. I don’t know what the problem was. The evening nurse the night before was able to get a temporary cath in, and he was back for that evening. The nurses decided he could do it, so they left her writhing in pain. He was fiddlefarting around as nurses are wont to do at shift change and couldn’t be located.
After I blew up, they magically fond him, and the three nurses and him went to work on her and got it in. She yelped a little, but as soon as the bladder started draining, she settled down. I am still a bit PO’d that I had to build a fire under their collective butts.
But over the last four days, she has steadily improved. She still has some memory loss but can hold a conversation and regale the nurses with her gallows humor. It seems that younger people have not developed that sort of dark humor that gets you through bad spots. Pity.
So’s I am home now early afternoon and will get ready to visit her shortly. My niece is with her and keeps me updated. She bathed herself, and the PT washed her hair, and that hugely helped her mood. Later in the day she will get the “pee test” to see if the cath can be removed. I think that is done by the urology people, so they will have a little more expertise in Foley insertions.
So, this is the update. I am not proofing this, so be a little tolerant of the typos and grammar …
Ha’vel ha’valim hakkol havel
Vanity of vanities
All is vanity
** Sip! **
Shabbat morning dawns overcast and a bit breezy. After unhooking myself from one set of wires and tubes and plugging myself into my mobile rig I pad into the kitchen. Snookums rose a few minutes before me, so the coffee was brewing, and the furnace was raising the temperature from a nice cool 68° for sleeping to a walking bare foot temperature of 72°. Nice.
Opened the blinds in the kitchen nook where my medical set up is. Insulin. Syringes. Glucose meters. Scale. Blood pressure cuff. Thermometer. PulseOx meter. Clipboard for recording my vitals. It has become sort of a morning meditation for me going through all the steps I need to take each morning for the rest of my life.
Snook putters around with her morning routine of emptying the dishwasher and getting the animals food bowls ready. The feral cats are sitting on the porch rail and staring into the house to get a glimpse of the breakfast lady who is maddingly puttering around. They are hungry, and Snookums only feeds them half rations so that their vermin hunting skills stay sharp. So far, their numbers have stabilized at four. Living with the birds-of-prey and coyotes makes cat lives very tenuous here, so I haven’t had to trap and neuter them. But it gets a little heart breaking when your favorite cat just vanishes without an explanation.
The Uvalde school shooting is still front page on the newsfeeds, mostly driven by an anti-gun political party and a liberal press that support them. The politicians are still dancing on the graves of the dead children before they are even buried in them. You just can’t let a tragedy go to waste. And the ubiquitous posting of the sordid tale of the Depp/Heard relationship. So far, I have avoided learning more than the headlines. Between Uvalde and them, there is no other news in the world.
So, I move on.
Check my facebook and blog pages for comments. That is my communication channel these days. But I always have preferred the written word over actual conversation. Texting to me has been a boon, not a curse. I can reply or not. I can quip or be sincere at my leisure. I can take long sips of coffee between comments. But it is too bad that self-righteous humorless prigs monitor the posts. I contemptuously find ways to subvert their algorithmic snooping as I make my comments.
And on to some more coffee sipping and window gazing as the Shabbat morning awakens.
Today is also the first day of the Memorial Day weekend, and I remember bits and pieces of my generations war. Vietnam. I was visiting my parents grave at Ft. Logan National Cemetery in Denver one Memorial Day. It was a beautiful day of warm sunshine and spring greenery. Tombstones were aligned with military precision, rank upon rank, file upon file. Thousands of them. Any public grief I had for my parents passing was safely and privately tucked away within my soul, and this visit was mere duty. I was staring at the stone that had my fathers name and rank on the front, and mothers name on the back when a small cadre of vets caught my eye. They knew their way around that cemetery the same way others found their way around their homes. They unerringly went from grave to grave of their fallen comrades, pausing at each one for a long moment of silent prayer before moving on to the next one, and silently wept at their loyalty.
But today I live 899.8 road miles from my home to the gates of the cemetery, and it is unlikely that I will visit those tombstones in this lifetime, and the vanity of it all falls on me like the middle of a cloudburst, and I understand the words in Ecclesiastes. Vanity of vanities. All is vanity. I can enjoy the work of my hands, but in the end, it is useless.
And so, I go from remembrance to vanity in one second, then back to this moment at the keyboard.
It is time to wrap up this morning’s musings at just over 700 words. Wishing you all a wonderful Memorial Day. Joy is a good thing. But let’s not forget. May they not have died in vain.
I didn’t get around to writing this morning. I slept in late and even now in the late in the afternoon I am still walking around in a cotton world. The fatigue days are draining me, and I am in full blown ennui. But I remain optimistic that we are on the right track of recovery now. I am reduced to writing small sentences. Compound sentences are just beyond my reach in this state of mind.
Our satellite box went out during the lightening storm, so while we are waiting for FedEx to deliver a new one, the house has been noticeably quiet. That is good, because the incessant rehashing of the Uvalde shooting and ‘Beto, the plastic Mexican and political opportunist, started dancing on the children’s graves before their bodies had time to cool. I don’t have to watch the video clips of it, so that calms my mood considerably
And I still don’t know what is going on in the Depp – Heard courtroom, as hard as the media tries to inform me. I simply don’t want to know, and I tune it out on the TV and skip over it in the NewsFeeds.
And a new Top Gun movie is in the works, with many of the original cast members. They had to make their pants larger to hide the Depends® they are likely wearing at this time of life. Oh, how I care about this one. yawn!
About the only thing I watched in the news was the Sussman – Durham trial. I am following it out of idle curiosity to see whether I can believe in the justice system or not. I am not overly optimistic about that, however.
I do feel a bit better now that I am writing something. Anything will do. Just to sit here and watch the words come off my fingertips like magic is a balm that has been sorely missed. I am so aware of how badly the dyslexia has crept up on me, and being out of the discipline for around three years has taken the edge off of my prose. I am embarrassed by my poor syntax, style, and grammar. Mrs. Gilder, my 6th grade teacher, would be frowning at this as she toyed with her editing pencil that had a red end and a blue end. Yeah, I am that old.
Still, I write. My thoughts run wild during that waking period between the sleeps. An old manuscript that I started æons ago optimistically called Akashic is haunting me, and I suddenly saw a way to bring back a runaway novel back into order. But it is a major rewrite and will take a year or better to whip it into shape. At least with the energy level I have now, anyway. The year has sailed by me, only punctuated by stays in the hospital and weeks of fatigue at home. Sometimes I feel like I am just waiting for Thanatos knock at the door. But as I sit down to write this unedited bundle of me-isms, he has stopped knocking and has moved back to his lurking position over my left shoulder.
So, this coffee post has turned into an after-dinner post but may not be the tragedy I expected. A strawberry-rhubarb pie is baking in the oven, and we will have pie and coffee in an hour as an evening snack. And this seems as good of a place to wrap this up as any.
The day started out nicely. I woke with the sun, padded out to the kitchen to start the coffee. After I switched my night bag to my day bag, put my hearing aids on, turned off the blanket and the HEPA filter, that is. Gone are the days that I hit the floor running. But it is what it is, to cite an old saw.
I sat down and dutifully took my blood sugar, blood pressure, pulse, oxygen, temperature, and weight to please the myriad of medical people that see me and call me often for that information. Then the insulin injection for my instant breakfast of blueberry turnovers and Metamucil™. At one time in my life, I just grabbed the coffee and went out on the porch to watch my rural neighborhood awaken, then went inside to share my observations with my readers. I resent the time I must spend in morning preparations. But I just can’t lay down and die. Not that I fear death, but I am less than enthused about the dyeing part of it. I hate dealing with so much morbidity, so I use gallows humor in confronting it. I wish it offended less people than it does, but we all share in Adams failure. Non the less, it is a tragedy, but I don’t want to dig into that midrash at this moment.
For this precise instant, however, I leave those thoughts to peer out my real window at the softly lit neighborhood, and through my virtual window at the limerence of friends and family. It is for you I write.
I forget that from time to time. I have heard writers say, “I write for myself”. No. I can only say that if I write in a private diary. My posts are sort of like sitting at the kitchen table and talking to you. I doubt that I will see most of you again, at least in this realm. And some of you I have never sat with. I only know you by your words. Oddly, though, I think of my virtual friends as often as those I have met.
I also want to get back in the habit of writing every day so that I can distance myself from the big ME that my infrequent posts are now dwelling on. I notice my writing skills have waned with my absence, and I really do miss them. I am full of words and want to put them down. I want to live in someone else’s head for a while. I am tired of mine.
So I begin by living in my head … curious, no? I have to start somewhere, though.
Later: The sun has risen, the coffee drunk, the coffee cake shared with Snookums, and I must wrap this up, publish it, and move on with my life.
 Midrash – midrashim. Jewish teachings from the Torah. Loosely, homilies and teachings. I interpret the term loosely here.
I know I had promised that I was done with the health updates, but some of my long time readers have been concerned that I haven’t been posting much. I think I am doing OK, but I never know. My labs came in online for my visit with the Cardiac PA this afternoon, and it took about half an hour of googling to come up with three incurable maladies.
I think I’ll just leave the test interpretations with the physicians. I really suck at it. But they do explain the sleepiness and fatigue. We’ll see if they can’t work their sorcery on the maladies. I can always hope.
I am quite chipper for the condition I am in. It feels good to drive and shop. I never thought I would see the day when I was happy to be in a grocery store. Moving around in there was another of those minor victories.
I was told that I am not a good candidate for cardiac rehab, so it is on with the home health PT. I will check later to see if I am up to pulmonary rehab. It is much the same as cardio rehab, but less intense.
The diabetes is under control, but I am still fighting wild swings. I discovered that I didn’t have a diabetes specialist on my list. The doctor who treated me in the hospital doesn’t have a practice, so I need to get that taken care of. I think I need an adjustment to the meds I am taking.
The fog really hasn’t cleared much out of my mind, though. Writing is still a Herculean task, even an update like this. So, I am reduced to repackaging memes I read and posting them on facebook. Those will have to suffice for coffee posts for the time. Still, the writers itch is annoying the hell out of me, so who knows. I plan to start small, mostly coffee posts. Essays are a favorite of mine because they seldom require research. And opine I shall.
I am waiting on the arrival of Kimberly, my trim, petite, and perky physical therapist. I keep telling her how miserable I am feeling, and she pouts, says she is sorry to hear that, then tries to kill me. Fortunately, she is only strengthening me enough to ward off her evil intentions.
Perhaps my next post will be a coffee post, but I am not promising anything.
Up with the sun this Tuesday morning. Enough with morbidity. Yeah, some days life is tough, then you die. But for this sleepy morning, coffee and cake with Snookums sums up the reality. For this day, life is good.
I apologize for my last post. Things were grim that day. But I am unable to keep that level of the blues for long. Life happens, and you deal with it as it arrives. My predictor doesn’t work that well anyway, and I have discovered that the mere act of living day to day is all that is needed from me.
New hearing aids this afternoon. I hope they work out well. I miss so much in conversations that I have moved myself onto the internet and printed word. Everyone wants to talk to me, but no one wants to write. That sucks because I can’t hear them. The new aids work directly with the phone, so maybe I can discuss stuff with people and know what they said.
Still trying to work out all the mysteries of diet and insulin, and I have made some stupid mistakes. But I think I am finally getting the hang of it. I think the next move will be to begin “carb counting”, where you total your carbs and adjust your insulin for that. I think that will end that afternoon crash where my blood sugar gets dangerously low.
I am enjoying running errands again. I had lost so much interest through the long recovery spell.
I so much want to return to writing again. Fiction takes a bit of mental acuity, and it just hasn’t been there for me the last few years. But everything in small steps. Small glimpses into a new genre for me are pushing me toward the studio, but they still float out beyond mere words.
I am excited. Maybe this is the last update post and I can finally break free of this cocoon I have put myself into.
… then one morning I woke and knew that the skirmishes were over. I was joined in a battle to death. The lawn became unimportant. The dust bunnies in the kitchen weren’t going away. The carpet wasn’t going to get cleaned. The shed is not going to be emptied. The tools aren’t going to get sorted.
The day is fast approaching when I will not be able to protect my wife, and I will leave her to the care of others just at the time she needed me most. It is a bitter pill to swallow.
Yet I have each day, and each day adds to each day. I must concentrate on those things that are good and necessary before the darkness arrives.
But all that is left is the struggle.
Shabbat morning. The morning of the seventh day of Passover. The morning counting the seventh day of Omer. Forty-three days to go …
Rose with the sun this morning instead of the ticktock machine. Coffee. Meditation. Insulin injection. Mango. Egg and sausage muffin. Mandarin orange.
Then coffee cake and coffee with Snookums after she puts dishes away from the dishwasher, feeds the dogs and feral cats.
The days come, the days go. Lots of change in the micro, no change in the macro.
And some day I will enter the final Shabbat …