Latest Event Updates

Autumn is here, winter is coming

Posted on

Shabbat morning dawns quietly.  The songbirds are finished for the year, and only the infrequent cooing of the pigeons and mourning doves are in the air.  Snookums had the coffee brewing by the time I arose, changed out the tubing in my body, put on hearing aids, bumped the thermostat up a little, and padded into the kitchen for coffee, vitals, pills, and muted conversation.

Snook continues her recovery, albeit at a much reduced rate.  Experts tell me that it will be at least a year.  She continues with the speech therapist, but now it is only once a week.  Some days it is a little discouraging, and other days she is near normal.

I can usually tell what kind of day we are going to have by her remembering her morning chores.  On Shabbat morning, she puts the dishes from the Shabbat meal away, folds the special tablecloth and launders the napkins.  This morning she went looking for the napkins that Amber, my niece, had already done.  She double checked to make sure, then remembered to feed the animals.  So I am thinking this will be a good day. 

Her Shabbat morning ritual is to have coffee and cake with me, let me do her vitals, take her pills, feed the animals, and occasionally empty the dishwasher and dryer.  Then she sits at her computer and listens to services at our former congregation in Denver.  That routine was the first thing she remembered to do after her stroke.  The way she logs on is particularly complicated, but she remembers how to do it.  Other things like her log-on password are a bit harder for her to remember.  Today is a day when she didn’t have to ask me what the password was.

It has been two weeks since my last update.  Things are changing slowly now, but she is at least out of the woods.  Now it is time for the doctors to figure out a regimen that will prevent or lessen the likelihood of another stroke.  I still panic when she gets tired and lays down or goes to bed early, but I also believe that rest is necessary for her recovery.  So when she lays down or retires, I ask her the usual questions.  Are you feeling dizzy?  Nauseous?  Unstable?  Is your vision blurry?  I call it 20 Questions time.  Old people know that saying.  Young people probably don’t.  But she laughs, answers the questions, and lays down.

And  goes the Autumn of our years.  Winter is coming, to quote a more recent media event that young people will understand, and old people won’t.

Good morning!

Updates and Critiques

Posted on Updated on

I missed the usual weekend update.  To blame? Laziness and sloth I should think.

But it has been a good week, mostly.  Snook had two ‘bad’ days where she couldn’t remember the simplest of tasks, but the rest of the days were better.  And Sunday she forgot that Amber fixed the evening meal, so she started frying up ‘burgers.  I was a little leery of her working at the stove because she was baking when she had her stroke, so we carefully watched her.  Amber was able to prepare dinner Monday because it was a holiday.

I am looking out my window at the ground cover that is mocking me by waving in the gentle breeze of the morning.  Odd how we can instantly go from dry and crunchy to verdant green after soaking rains. So, mowing looms large in my future.  Snook said she thought she could run the mower, but I am not as confident as she is and don’t want to put her on a device that can seriously injure her.

Snooks is going in for an MRI Thursday.  She has a baseline to compare now, and we can see if the damage is continuing or not. Just from carefully watching her, though, I think that the damage has run its course.

The news today is the usual stream of outrage and horror, and I suspect that you are just as confused as I am by it.  So, no further comment.

The new Lord of the Rings is out, but I am not so sure I am up to Hollywood sermonizing right now.  I’ll wait for a few more movie critiques of it before I decide whether to watch it or not.  It sounds like it is another extravaganza to quietly dismiss, however.  The harder they hype something, the more likely it is to be a dud.

And the heat has broken, finally.  This morning it was a pleasant 74° at sunup.  Now that I have a new laptop, I may go back to porch sitting.  I will have to reclaim the porch from the feral cats that have made it their private property, though.  It will be nice to sit out there with my coffee and computer again.  But Chromebook’s have a weird keyboard and I will have to master it before posting anything serious.

The day comes and goes.  The sun rises 15°.  And I must get on with my loafing.

Good morning!

The Four Horsemen Ride!

Posted on

Well, here it is.  My newest addition.  A Samsung Chromebook.

I really wasn’t paying attention when I bought it through AT&T, and I was thinking it would be half the size that it is.  I intend to use it merely to record our vitals in the morning, but now I might try using it as a laptop.

I am also using google docs to write it.  I can add MSWord to it, but I think I will try to keep this computer clean.  But I have to relearn everything, both on the computer and the word processor.  It should be an interesting experiment.

Snookums is having a bad day today.  It is an up and down thing with her, and nothing that I can see triggers it.  It is like her mind comes and goes at whim.

The next visit with the neurologist is a month away.  We will then go over the MRI and do a cognitive test that will give us a benchmark to work from. I am still optimistic that she will continue to improve as time goes on.

Today is an overcast day that seems to fit my mood.  I admit to being a bit pessimistic.  I am sure that like most moods, it will go the same way it came.

Other that that, the day goes on like every other day, and I handle the woes and joys as they arrive and depart.  This week I get a respite from doctor visits and bill paying.  Perhaps the decompression is what I am feeling.

Of course, there is the news.  It is hard to browse over the offerings without getting a sense of impending doom.  Stupid decisions are made.  Rosey promises are given.  Prices go up faster than income.  Both sides are screaming at each other.  It can’t continue on like this, and when the break comes, neither side is going to like the results. The years of peace at home have ended.

Yeah.  I am a prophet of doom.  It does not matter which side prevails.  The four horsemen ride, yet few see them.

So dawns the day here in the dry pampas of Texas.  Soon the rains will arrive, dragging the hurricanes behind them.  The grass will green, the frogs will croak, and the mourning doves will change their lonesome wooing to a more pigeon-like coo.

Good morning!!

A Weak Weekly Update.

Posted on

Shabbat dawned sunny and warm, but it has cooled some as a very light rain started to fall.  The raindrops disappear as soon as they fall.  I woke up late this morning, but Snookums was still waiting for me at the breakfast table.  Our morning coffee and cake ritual is important enough to her that she remembers it each morning.  Today, her and Bruce had already polished off a pot of coffee before I awoke.  It has been a long while since I slept in like that.

But she had a fresh new pot awaiting me, and we went through our morning ritual of taking vitals, swallowing pills, sipping coffee, eating cake, and engaging in small talk.  It is a good way to greet the day.

It wasn’t always like that.  When we were first married, the ritual was a quick cup of coffee while scowling at the morning.  We didn’t talk.  We didn’t eat breakfast.  So this new ritual is an odd one for me, albeit a pleasant one. 

Snook is still having problems with her short-term memory, though I see a slight improvement in that.  But we takes our victories where we finds them.  I was almost in despair when we first brought her home from the hospital.  I wasn’t very confident that recovery was going to happen.  Now I think that in time, she will be restored, though there will be a gap in her memory from the day of the stroke until now.

Last week it was the follow-up by the cardiologist.  He was surprised that they didn’t put her on blood thinners in the hospital, so now she is on some that will help in keeping any future strokes from happening, or at least moderate the damage they cause.  He also examined her AFib incident from the hospital, and we went over the process of blood clotting.  Scary topic, but interesting.

Bruce and Amber picked up the slack while she is recovering.  I appreciate that, but I imagine the task is wearying for them.

It has been a time of reflection, a bit of fear, a change in life, but all of it is in God’s purview.  I do not fear old age, but I do fear dementia as I age.  That part still has me uneasy. Still, there is a blessing that is given to gray hairs.  Subtle nuances of scripture become obvious to me, and I wish to tell it to youngsters. but like I did when I was young, you just get a quizzical look and a quick change of subject.  That is fine.  They have babies to raise, and that appears to be a very high priority with God.

So goes the days in our retirement paradise in the vast pampas of Texas.

Good morning.

I Long For A Better World

Posted on

Shabbat morning dawns with the clatter of Snookums feeding her animals.  But this morning she is having problems remembering what she has just done.  Normally we have coffee and coffee cake the first thing, and it is a simple setup.  I lay out the blood-pressure cuffs, thermometers, pulse-ox machine and scales, and I take our vitals.  Once I get that done, I take my insulin while she sets the table with a knife to cut the cake, two butter plates, two forks, a glass of water (shared) and we make small talk while sipping coffee and chewing on the coffee cake.

But this morning she was having difficulty remembering how to do that, and I sat on my hands to keep from ‘helping’ her.  I am male.  I rescue females.  That’s what I do.  But rescuing my Snookums is exactly the wrong thing to do, so I gently remind her of what is missing.

On Shabbat mornings, she listens to a podcast from our former congregation since we no longer attend services anywhere.  And she remembers that she does that, but often needs help with starting her PC.  She seems to find the podcast without my help, however.  So, I resolve to keep a close watch on her without hovering over her.

Next week we visit the cardiologist to discuss a tachycardia event she had while she was hospitalized. I think it was more because of the acute bladder pain she was having.  After they got her bladder catheterized, her heart rate became stable again.  But the neurologist seems to feel that though it was the pain that triggered the AFib, it still shows that she may have heart problems as well. Stroke and irregular heartbeat often go together.

We had a hard rain yesterday that was quickly soaked up by the parched earth.  It always amazes me so that the native ground cover springs back to life so quickly after a drought.  Already the fields are turning green, the tree leaves seem a bit brighter, and the land recovers.

And we had a water main break the other day, and we still are under a boil water notice.  I laid in a stock of bottled water to use in the interim.  Such is life in the rural pampas.  You must be prepared for utility outages that can last several days.

The national news is still a dismal swamp, and I wonder why I even bother to read the news.  It isn’t going to get better anytime soon, and maybe it won’t ever get better.  I am certain the birth pangs of a failed civilization have begun.  Yet I am not morbid about it.  It must happen.

Next month I go on hospice care.  Not the kind of hospice where you die in 30 days, but now the doctors will come to my house, order prescriptions, make blood draws etc.  I have mixed feelings about it, but it is something we will all face.  I want to stay around for Snookums if I can.  Even now, I don’t want her unprotected.

So goes the day, and so goes the week.  The day comes, and the day goes.  The rains come, and the rains go.  We are birthed, and we die. I long for a better world.

Shabbat Shalom!

Later Events after the Latest Events

Posted on

Sunday dawns with a hazy overcast that filters the hot rays of sunshine a little.  Still, it is August, and the world turns a crunchy brown as we long for the rains of late Autumn.  Life has settled back into a manageable routine again, but my life has changed, and I must change with it.  Still, it is nice when old routines can still comfort me, though there are few of them left.

Snookums is still recovering, though it feels like we have reached a plateau in her healing.  The major damage is to her short-term memory, but if something is important to her, she often will remember it.  I need to remind myself that she needs the gentle nudging, and it isn’t bossing her around to prompt her for a chore that hasn’t been done.  And to be fair, she seems to appreciate the reminders.  I do see that many of her old routines have returned, and she does them without prompting.  She make the beds in the morning, does the laundry and remembers to tune in to our old congregation’s webcasts.

But on the flip side, she cannot remember how to start her computer in the morning, and she never did master the art of the cellphone.  I might restore her old flip phone now that she has no use for the whiz-bang features of a smart phone.

My cardiology visit went very well, and the group that watches my kidney functions told me that the nephrologist is going to be happy when I see him next week.  But my urologist really horked me off with their delays and tries to make their incompetence in scheduling my responsibility.  I will cut off my own nose to spite my face, and after all the pre-surgery visits but before the surgery, I told them to forget it as I had lost all confidence in them.  So, onwards.

I need to assemble Snookums new computer chair today.  The height adjusting tube gave up on her old one.  But putting stuff together has become a very difficult thing for me, but I still refuse to pay someone $45 dollars to put the damned thing together.

The national news is discouraging.  I gave up on TV news sometimes back and now get most of my news online.  I am just a little weary of government that can’t govern, but can do symbolic gestures that are useless in solving the problems with inflation.  It has effectively cut my paycheck by 20%, yet you see a Congress who wants more taxes to … ahem! … fight inflation.  I can’t believe they really think they can pull the wool over my eyes.  I KNOW what it costs to go to the store, and I know what it costs to put gas in my tank, and I know what it costs to have things repaired. 

Then some butthead in Washington tells me it is not all that bad, it is just bad ‘messaging’.

OK … put that down for a bit … trying to stay on top of things and elect fiscally responsible politicians is a useless endeavor.  Then they wonder why we hate them, because they are so … like … wonderful.  Or something.

Anyways.  The day unfolds, God is in his heaven and my only job is to deal with the day as it arrives.

Good morning!

Crossing That Bridge

Posted on

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.

Good morning!

I have arrived at the bridge I was going to cross when I came to it.

Posted on

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.

Baylor Scott & White Hospital campus

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 …

Good morning!

Weekend from Hell

Posted on

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

Posted on

Ha’vel ha’valim
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.

** Sip!**

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.