Sunday, June 29, 2014


Prepping for a vacation can be exhausting.  We haven't been camping since Babygirl became ill, and our tent was destroyed in the big storm right around that time.  I bought a new one at an end-of-the-summer sale in 2011 and it is still in the box.  We discovered that our camp stove and toolbox were missing while we were trying to sort things out last weekend, made some phone calls and had them returned after what appears to have been a two-year loan-out.  Shopping.  Packing.  Ordering medications ahead so there would be enough for a three week trip. Calling to check on the medications.  RE-ordering.  Finding someone to stay with Mom.  Finding someone to do personal care for Mom.  Sorting Mom's medication for a month.  And mine.  And Babygirl's.  LOAD UP!!!

We arrived in Philly about 10 on Friday, had drinks with my sis-in-law and caught up with the niece and nephew.  We planned on leaving 'whenever' on Saturday, which actually turned out to be a fairly decent 7:30 AM.  The plan?  To be in Williamsburg early enough to set up camp and make dinner. 

To say we took the long way would not be an exaggeration. To say that it took me a while to get out of "Hurry up and get there" mode and get into "Relax, you're on vacation" mode would surprise no one.  Babygirl had a headache and was too ill to eat lunch.  But a car nap and a couple of hours later she was up for a two and a half hour self-guided tour of Washington's birthplace on the Potomac.  We hiked, explored a reproduction of his home, and imagined him as a child playing along the banks of Pope's Creek.  We then drove through tidewater Virginia and landed here in Williamsburg about 6.

Our reserved campsite was the only one remaining in an area completely overrun by a very noisy family reunion.  God bless our camp host, Teddy, who found us a peaceful site in this very full campground.  Tent out of the box.  Easy set up.  Babygirl learned how to put cots together and we figured out a floor plan that fit the three of us in and still allowed us to reach the door unimpeded.  This involve me on my back on the floor lifting cots over my head to make them fit up against the walls LOL.  Babygirl an I were drenched in sweat when we were done with this, and hubby had dinner ready.  A dip in the pool, a campfire, some Jiffy Pop - heaven.

Today's plan is to go and tour Colonial Williamsburg.  Our campground sells discounted tickets, so yippee!

The only downside is that I had forgotten just how much fun it is to hike to the bathroom in the middle of the night.


Monday, June 23, 2014

It Seems.....Familiar.....

Dinner conversation.  It's never boring.

Mom:  Do you remember my cat Gilbert?  He used to make that weird noise with his teeth when he saw squirrels in the back yard.

Hubby (who had to bury that forty pound monstrosity):  THAT was NOT a cat.

Babygirl:  What was it?

Me:  A familiar.

Matt:  <spits>

Babygirl:  What's a familiar?

Me:  It's an animal possessed by a demon who lives with a witch to increase her powers.

Mom:  <sigh>  He was amazing.

General hysteria, to Mom's ongoing mystification.

I. Am. Going. To. Hell.  Laughing all the way, I'm afraid.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

"I'd Rather Die"......

Last week Citygirl flew home from Walla Walla to visit her dad, who lives about a hundred miles from here.  We decided to have dinner together on Monday night.  Now, for most people, a two hundred-mile round trip would seem like a bit much just for dinner, but I haven't seen Citygirl since Christmas.  Besides, we take two hundred mile long trips all the time, with less reward than that at the end!

Babygirl came along for the ride.  She'd had a long day at school, had a headache, and slept the whole way there.  We met up at a small tavern with some outside tables at the foot of a ski resort.  Live band, US versus Ghana on the TV, excellent food, and a chance to catch up on each others' lives.

For the ride home Babygirl was much more lively.  She chatted about school, friends, the book she's reading (her first Dean Koontz), the book she wants to buy next (another Chris Colfer) and life in general. 

One of her favorite teachers died in January.  We talked about him.  Early in the year he had the kids do that project where you write your name vertically and then use a word that describes you starting with each of the letters.  Babygirl has FOUR "A's".  She was struggling a bit to come up with that many 'A' words that describe her when the teacher came up and began chatting with her.  At the end, he said, "I don' know you very well, but maybe 'anxious' is a word you should consider."

It was and remains something of an "Aha" moment for her.  She doesn't look anxious at home, although she is shy in group situations.  But she recognized the underlying accuracy of the comment.  We talked about the kinds of things she thinks about, worries about, dreams about.  Family. Independence.  Life.

I don't think there is a parent out there who has gotten through a kid's teen years without hearing, "I'd rather DIE than......wear that seen with my brother......apologize to THAT JERK....."  It's a thoughtless exaggeration, right up there next to, "I'll kill you!"

Babygirl has said to me before that she plans on dying at 50 (not 'expects to die').  She is counting on this kidney getting her there.  And without a trace of self-pity or doubt in her voice she said, "I'd rather die than go back on dialysis."  There was nothing thoughtless about it.  She knows that when this kidney dies, if she refuses dialysis, that will be the end.

I know I've tried to convey how traumatic her dialysis start-up was. I've talked about how it hurt.  Every.  Single. Night.  For months. And months.  There wasn't a single thing I could think of that could successfully argue with that statement.  Her suffering was real, and lasting, and horrible. 

Eventually I found my voice and pointed out that peritoneal dialysis isn't the only kind of dialysis there is.  And what if this kidney fails when she is say, twenty, and she hasn't had time to achieve all the dreams she was just talking about? 

"I guess I'll have to think about it if it happens, Mom.  But I'm going to keep taking my pills."

It's a gut punch. 

I'm still having trouble breathing.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Respecting Men....

Hubby and I have been noticing a trend lately.  Sitcoms, jokes, and commercials all seemed aimed at pointing out the flaws in our men.  Don't get me wrong - men are flawed!  So are women.  But the mockery pendulum seems to have swung away from buxom blondes to hapless Harrys. 

One commercial in particular annoys us both tremendously.  A tall, attractive woman is looking out the window at a shirtless, very ripped neighbor who is washing his car.  Her husband, a slightly shorter, somewhat pudgy man comes up behind her and asks, "Do you think we settled?"  He's talking about their cable package.  She can barely pull two words together on the subject.  The subtext is clear:  SHE 'settled' when it came to her spouse.  HE is unworthy of her. 

There are dozens of other similar examples out there.  And while it is nice to see it implied that women deserve 'better,' (whatever that is!) it should not come at the expense of our respect for our spouses.

This morning's children's sermon was another example of this.  The pastor read a list of things the children might have heard their fathers say.  Some were humorous:  "I am NOT lost!"  Some were traditional:  "This is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you."  (All the kids looked mystified by that one.)  But the last one was:  "Why are you asking me?  Go ask your mother!"


It got a big laugh, understandably.  But in my heart of hearts I feel it undercuts the very fabric of paternal respect and authority. Hubby and I decide together.  If he says no, it's no.  If I say no, it's no.  If we disagree, we do it in private and come back with a united front. 

Women have been thoroughly disrespected for centuries.  Passing it on to the men doesn't make it even. 

So Happy Father's Day to my Hubby - the other half of the team, my best friend, my heart.  And Happy Father's Day to my sons-in-law, my brothers.  And to my Dad, who never tolerated a moments disrespect from us toward either him or my Mom.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Comin' Down the Home Stretch....

The third floor is in its final phases.  I've just finished painting six miles of baseboard.  Babygirl just shop-vacced, swept, Swiffer'd and mopped 600 square feet of new flooring after running leftover tools and trash up and down three flights of stairs.  Tomorrow we should be able to start moving things up, which is good.  I'm tired of having a 12' x 15' carpet rolled up and stretched from one wall to the other in my living room. 

One of the last things I did was to wander around the room with a tub of gray paint, searching out all the pieces of blue painter's tape I'd stuck up whenever I spotted a bit of blue pain peeking through.  I covered all the accidental hits walls take when you are fitting flooring and baseboards.  I erased all of the boot prints (Hubby likes to work on his stomach).

The most difficult was covering spots where red paint had managed to work its way under the painter's tape.  Since the red was on a railing over the staircase, most of that painting was done from a ladder.  When I pulled the tape and saw the odd (admittedly small) irregularities I knew I was faced with painting them out or driving myself nuts every time I climbed the stairs for the next ten years.

I'm good at cutting in.  Really good.  I just did twelve miles of baseboard without tape, drips or wipe-ups.  If I can just figure out how to reach OVER the rail...

The trouble with working with your head and shoulders hanging over a 15 foot drop isn't the fear of falling.  No.  It's the difficulty figuring out how to keep the lines clean when you are not looking through the correct (if any) part of your glasses, and fighting to keep gravity from obstructing your view in other ways.

I did it.  It looks great.  But it would have been easier if I could have put my bifocals and my bra on upside down.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sick Day....

I always plan to get a million things done on the weekend.  That third floor work, for example - we are in the home stretch and racing at the speed of snails to wind it all up.  Planning for the vacation is done, but assessing what we need for the mission trip and the vacation and packing it all?  Not so much.  So I planned on spending my weekend as productively as possible.

Of course, I had a good handful of things I needed to do for me.  It's been easily four months since my last haircut, and nearly as long since my last pedicure.  (I used to equate 'pedicure' with 'ridiculous luxury' but that was before I turned 50 and discovered what THAT does to your feet.)  With a nearly one month long trip coming up, both of these things needed to be done.  Our area is suffering a critical shortage of my blood type, so I signed up to donate at 8 AM Saturday (once you are out of the house, you are moving, right?) and I was on call for the weekend.  No sweat. I should be able to lay and paint some baseboard, right?

I accomplished everything I needed to on Saturday - the haircut, the pedi, the blood donation, the on call, the grocery shopping, dinner, and some baseboard work.

The mandatory mission team meeting at 6 PM?  Not so much.  Not sure how that didn't make the calendar, but our bad.

Sunday church, and doing the mission team paperwork afterward.  On call was grim.  Usually Sundays are quiet, but I just got call after call after complicated call that kept me tied to the phone and the computer for HOURS.  And the entire time, I just got sleepier.  And more nauseated.  Toward the end, near 4 PM, I started throwing up.  By 5 I was in bed, when I wasn't throwing up.  I don't know what the family did about dinner, but I'd skipped lunch and had no desire to even smell food.  I got up about 10 to try to get some fluids in, borrowed one of Babygirl's nausea pills, tried again, and went to bed.  I think I slept a total of 16 hours.

Monday morning I awoke feeling somewhat better, but given how I felt after a piece of toast I decided calling in might be wise.  It was a good call for about a dozen reasons.

Mom's recent hospital stay resulted in a visit from a home nurse.  Since I was home, I was there.  She REALLY got front row at Dementia Central.  Mom's three questions:  Who are you and why are you here? Do you like your job?  Do you like my cats?  And to me:  Can I have your sandals?  I really like them.  Ah, yeah.  Never mind about understanding your heart failure medications or getting your diabetes under control.  That was exhausting, so I took a nap.

I decided I had better call the Red Cross and let them know I was sick.  Vomiting and 101 degree fever was not something I wanted passed on to somebody like Babygirl who would be getting my blood.  I've been donating for nearly 40 years now and never had to make that call, and it was awkward.  The first person I spoke with was very, very concerned.  Very concerned, that is, that I was blaming THEM for being ill, which was hardly the case.  She transferred me to a post-donation 'specialist' so I could be educated about how this wasn't their fault.  There was no interrupting this young lady, so I gamely held on.  While this was happening, I was getting frantic text messages from my office.  One of my patients was risking his life by ignoring a specialist's advice, could I please call the specialist right NOW to discuss this.  I texted back what I was doing and that I'd get to it ASAP.  The post-donation person and I chatted.  She was also not interruptible, but hell, now I've GOT to get this moving, so I blurt out, "Look, I'm a doctor.  I'm sick because I'm sick, not because I donated.  Just tell me you are going to throw away the damned blood so I can move on to my next crisis already!"  She went on to try to apologize at length.  "Yes or no:  Do you understand you need to toss my donation???"  Ummmmm, yes.  "Good.  We're done."  Seriously?

On to a conversation with our social worker:  If a person is mentally ill but understands that their choices are bad, are we allowed to try to have them committed for being a danger to themselves?  In this case the answer is 'No.'  We cannot force medical care on anyone even if the consequences of not accepting that care is death.  Now, if he were pointing a gun at himself, then, okay.  I'm not sure what the difference is, really, but...  This was also exhausting.  So I took another nap.

I was hungry at dinner but the salmon fillet we had thawed did not appeal, so I cooked something a bit lighter.  Good thing, as Hubby had come down with the stomach bug (the only time I saw him all day was when our naps coincided). 

This morning, I feel like I might survive.  I planned the day off (God knows why - I do have a dentist appointment later) so I am laying baseboard, caulk and paint if it kills me.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

General Health Updates....

This is a general family health update for those who are interested.

Mom:  Her hospital stay was less than 24 hours, no cause of her chest pain was determined, no medications changed.  She's complaining of being winded periodically but otherwise seems much the same as usual.  I wonder how often she has these pains and then forgets to tell us?  The hospital staff seemed more aware of her dementia this time.  It's getting harder for her to cover.

Hubby:  Endocrine seems to have taken steps to controlling his blood sugars better.  Time will tell how this does in terms of making him feel better.

Me:  The new headache medication (Zonegran) has stopped the headaches cold.  I still smell cigarette smoke once every three days or so.  I don't see much in terms of side effects but I hear from others that I'm a bitch.  Sorry, all.  And pray for Hubby.  I've lost about half the weight I gained on the gabapentin, but MY sugars are still out of control.  Ugh.

Curlygirl:  Her Hive Hell appears to be calming down and she is seeing an allergist in two weeks.

Babygirl:  She managed school three of five days last week, but missed Friday and was unable to attend her 8th grade dance.  I have a call in to neurology to update them on the spectacular lack of success of their latest attempt to control her headaches.



Saturday, June 7, 2014


Squeaker is becoming quite articulate.  For a two-year-old, he has a lot to say and a lot of feeling behind it.  I can generally follow along, and catch up when he tosses out something recognizable.  I am Gamma, Hubby is Papop, and Babygirl's is his very favorite name.  He has good manners (unless he is hungry.  Then, forget it).  

But sometimes intelligibility meets hysteria.

He asked for, nay, demanded the ranch dressing at dinner.  I think that was what he wanted anyway.  Hubby gave him the Parental Stink-Eye and said,  "What do you say?"


Okay, I'm sorry, I was the first to laugh.  Then Hubby.  My Mom, always puzzled, asked what he said? I was choking by this point, and said, "I think it was a vulgar term for, um, male..."  Curlygirl shot ME the Parental Stink-Eye, said, "Nice mind, Mom!  No, Squeaker, we say 'please' first and THEN 'thanks'. 

Thanks?  Um, not quite, but if you say so. 

OhMyGoodness my sides are still aching.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mama Told Me.....

....there'd be days like this.

Babygirl was feeling well enough to go on her school field trip today, so after a trip to Dunkin Donuts for iced coffee (de rigueur before any middle school trip) I dropped her at the school at 7 AM, went home to do some chores, and went to the endocrinologist with Hubby at 8:30.  It was a long, complex visit, so I barely made it to the office by 10 for my first patient.

Both of my partners are off for the rest of the week, so I handled my patients, my phone calls, their phone calls (a burden considerably lightened by judicious screening by the nurses!).  I finished up and, looking forward to dinner, arrived home at 8:30 PM.  Hubby looked at me with some surprise and said, "Where's Babygirl?"  Umm.....arriving back at school at 8:30 PM?

I U-turned at the door and drove to the school, waited half an hour and came back with an exhausted, headachy Babygirl to hear my mom hollering for help.  So I went right instead of left.  She was in her recliner, clutching her chest and moaning.  She couldn't, of course, tell me how long she'd been having pain, but Hubby had been over to give her her medications just before I'd come home the first time, so it was less than half an hour.  By the time the paramedics arrived twenty minutes later I'd made myself a turkey sandwich, and the pain was just subsiding.  We decided to bring her to the ER just to be on the safe side.  Not a bad idea, it turns out - her EKG doesn't QUITE look the same as last time, so she's going to be admitted for observation.  Once she's settled, I'll (hopefully) be able to go home and get some sleep.  Until then, I'll just keep answering the questions of the evening:

"Who are you talking to?"
"Would you scratch my back?"
"How did I get here?"
"Why are we in the hospital?"
"Can I have green Jell-O with whipped cream?"
"Can we go home now?"

I'm still looking forward to dinner.  I might have to raid the doctors' lounge to get it.