There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark



Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Ceremony

Gil buried his dad yesterday. He made this collage and displayed it at the ceremony. Obviously he sent me a picture of it. Looking at this photo array brought back a lot of memories. I have had some strange feelings since Bob passed....I told Gil to tell his dad goodbye for me and that I tried to love him forever....twice...but just couldn't. I took some of these pictures, the earliest one is Bob sitting on stairs that went up to his mother's apartment. This was in 1968 when I first met him. There is a photo of an older man with a woman wearing dark glasses. That was Bob now with his Aunt Velia. Gil said there were about 50 people that showed up to the ceremony including Bob's 91 year old father......Grandpa Richard. He was a prisoner of war during WWII. He is a kind, gentle soul and has buried three of his four children. Much of the family asked about me...I remember all of them. Sad situation all around. Sad for Gil, Bob's father, just sad.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The wounds of war update

Back in October...the 27th to be exact....I wrote a post about my second (and third...same man twice) husband. 

He died this morning.  Gil, our son, called me last night and told me he was near the end.  I think I said all of the right words.  Gil was crying and told me that even though his father was horrible to him more times than not, he loved him and while relieved his misery was almost over he was going to miss him.  I called him back because I needed to tell him this:  I loved your dad; loved him deeply.  I love you more than I can tell you because of the love I had for your dad and because of the baby, little boy, teenager and now the man you are. We were the best thing that ever happened to each other because of you. 

Gil called this morning after Bob had passed.  He will be buried at Riverside Memorial cemetery in So Cal with all of the honors that come with having served this country. 

I am so proud of Gil.  Gil gave his father what he was denied as a child.... and up until just a decade ago....unconditional love. He cared for his parent without one minute of hesitation.

Here is the original post if anyone is interested

There was a special segment on one of the morning TV shows this last Sunday. It marked the anniversary or was a remembrance of the photo of a young girl named Kim running naked down a road in Vietnam.  She had been burned with Napalm. There was an interview with the now 50 something Kim. She is badly scared but happy.

Wars; the horrible things humans do.  Young men and women lost, those coming home walking wounded....some of them anyway.  

I met my second and third husband (same man, different marriages obviously) early 1968. I'll call him Bob.  I was a single mother of two living partly on the welfare system, cleaning houses for the rich, and going to cosmetology school.  Bob was just home from Viet Nam.  He had been in the motor pool and while he wasn't on the front lines I eventually learned he had been exposed to horrible experiences.  He was the second most handsome man I had ever seen; the first was Omar Sharif.  He was Hispanic and American Indian, had long, black hair that he tied back with a leather thong, was muscular and brooding.  I saw that as mysterious and a sign of strength I guess.  He was damaged. He was that way before he left for Viet Nam I am sure, but the war just compounded the issues already there.  He came back an alcoholic and a drug user. I knew he drank, but the drugs were another story. 

By the summer of 1968 we were married and in June of 1969 our son was born. Let's call him Alex. Here is how the first marriage went: Alcoholism, domestic violence, calls to the police, arguments about drinking and drugs and not being home, cheating constantly (him), domestic abuse over and over, more police calls, crying, lost jobs (his), frightened kids (all 3), and more of the same. We tried marriage counseling, several times. We divorced.  He saw our son regularly, but he always picked him up at either his mother's house or my parents home. 

I heard from his sister that he was in therapy.  So was I.  Again. Three years went by.  I was dating....lots of first dates, only a few second ones.  By chance we saw each other at a club.  The "romance" started all over again; we saw ourselves as "healed." 

Here is how the second marriage went:  OK for the first year.  Then, see the above first marriage, add child abuse to that list of misery, and at the end, things more horrible than god awful horrible.  The divorce was ugly.  He was only allowed to see our son with a court monitor.  He saw him once. 

Fast forward to 1998.  Steve and I are in Idaho, my son Alex is getting married.  Of course he wants his dad there.  Seems Bob had married again and divorced and had another son.  In the 4 seconds that I was sitting alone at the reception, he came, glass in hand, and sat next to me.  Hey, good to see you, how are you doing? he said. Get the fuck away from me.  Now.  I said; and he did. 

About 8 years ago, Alex called me in a panic.  He couldn't find his dad.  Their communication was sporadic at best.  He was a full blown alcoholic (I don't know how to describe someone that is beyond being just an alcoholic) and had been having health problems.  Alex had found out that his father had lost his job, his condo had been foreclosed on, and no one knew where he was.  Alex wanted to know what to do.  I told him to call the local jails, hospitals and start looking for his SUV at the bars in the town where he lived. 

Alex found him living in his SUV in back of a supermarket.  He was collecting cans to support his drinking, a little gas and food.  Alex offered to help his dad;  his dad declined.  The next time Alex saw his dad he had broken into that lost condo, the SUV had been repossessed, he was cooking Raman on a hibachi, there was no power, water, no nothing but a seriously ill man and his booze.  Alex became a one man interventionist.  Somehow, he managed to get his father to agree to go to the Loma Linda VA. 

The VA got him dry and into a program, treated his diabetes, heart problems, blood pressure and found him campus housing.  He was granted VA disability and when he was ready to leave campus living, he was placed in a sober housing complex.  That lasted less than a year. 

Since then Bob has moved 5 times, survived a near fatal single car accident, lost toes to diabetes, had 2 respiratory arrests, one cardiac arrest, been treated for kidney failure, had a 5 vessel bypass, been in the hospital more times than Alex can count, had his bypass incision infected so badly he was in the hospital for a month, started on dialysis, and has never stopped drinking.  In August this year he was found non responsive in a strip mall parking lot next to his car, bagged broken beer and wine bottles under his head according to the police report.  He was released from the hospital a few weeks ago.  Alex can't find him.  He has a DNR in place; Alex has power of attorney.  Alex is waiting for the call to come.

My son Alex is a remarkable man in spite of his parents.  So are my two other kids; just remarkable humans given what they lived through. The three of them have forgiven me for the choices I made.  Forgiving their fathers is another story. Yes, there is a story with husband #1. 

Back in the 60's and early 70's our family was called dysfunctional.  Therapists either had a field day with our dynamics or didn't know what to do.  Now, the terms used are more advanced, more descriptive...PTSD, co-dependent, enabler, substance abuse disease, and several listings in the DSM-IV....or is there a V or VI now?

Bob was doomed long before I met him....a broken home, alcoholic mother, fraternal uncles killing each other, another uncle drinking after shave to feed his addiction, a sister that committed suicide, a brother that walked away from a deeply homophobic family never to be seen again, and on and on. 
Compared to Bob's family, mine was almost normal.  My dad was an alcoholic and my mother had affairs....what's to complain about?

Did I love Bob?  I did.  Obviously it wasn't a healthy love, or even close to one day of happiness love.  It was, in the end, just fucking miserable for both of us and the children we brought into our hell.  I take responsibility for my choices.  I don't wish Bob dead or in more pain than he brought on himself or what Viet Nam piled on top of that....but, he made his choices just like I did.  No regrets though.....I have Alex. 


Saturday, June 11, 2016

About June 27th

.....not happening.  When I saw the doctor in May he told me to get all of my dental work done before surgery because I couldn't have any done for 6 months after.  So, I made my cleaning appointment and then had to have cavities filled.  When I mentioned to the pre-op nurse (the one in the doc's office) that all of my dental stuff was done she said I had to wait 3 months for surgery.....Kootenai Health rules.....and that information was in the paperwork I received.  The problem?  I never received paperwork.   None.  Zero. Nothing.

I understand the whole theory behind the waiting period......I take a platelet suppression drug, my gums bleed...a lot...during dental procedures, our mouths are filled with bacteria, that bacteria gets into the blood stream, if I have hardware put in my neck the bacteria will seed on the hardware and I will get a HUGE infection.  After surgery I will need to take pre procedure antibiotics with dental work.  But....THREE MONTHS BEFORE?   Serious overkill. 

So, now I am "penciled" in for early September.  A whole summer of not riding my bike.  We rented a 3 wheeler, but it was a disaster.....we have a crowned road for water runoff and I felt even more off balance riding that stupid looking thing than I did on flat ground standing on one leg on my tip toes. 

~Sigh~ hurry up and wait.  I want to just get this behind me, start feeling normal....OK....I'll never be normal in any sense, but still.....

I bought a box of malted milk balls, Hershey's Kiss ice cream and a box of lightly buttered popcorn.  Not stressed one little bit.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Snip a little here, snip a little there......

The neurosurgeon.  Emotionless. Dry. He is all business.  I don't want him to be my friend or even friendly.  I want him to be precise....all precision and exacting...and he is.   Rarely smiles....but I got not just one but two out of him yesterday.  

Steve and I had dual appointments.  Steve is doing really well.  He has lost quite a bit of weight, is slowly using the treadmill, few snacks and portion control, and starts PT next week.  YAY, Steve!

There was a long discussion about my neck and hands.  I have severe carpal tunnel in my right hand....not so bad in my left.  But, my neck is a mess and that mess is flattening my spinal cord, thus my balance issues and just possibly some of my hand problems.  The doctor wasn't surprised that I hadn't worn the collar, but he said he rarely has a patient admit it.  No reason to fib, the collar is a bigger hazard than help. 


So, smile one.  I'm going to have a 3 level laminectomy/discectomy with a plate and 3 screws. The doc described in detail what he will be doing to my spine.  Naturally I asked him if he could do a little "work" on my neck.  He smiled and said that he wasn't very good at plastic surgery.  Next he told me about the movement limits I'll have......not bad really.  I won't be able to touch my chin to my chest or turn around to look, for example, when I back up the truck.  I can live with that.  I forgot to ask if the plate will ever be removed or if I am permanently blinged. 

He told me the whole reason for that nasty collar was to keep my totally unstable neck from being injured and damaged even more than it is now.  I could be paralyzed.  From now on since I won't wear the collar I can't use a step stool, ladder, climb on the couch to dust window sills (thanks Steve for busting me on that one), and worst of all I can't ride my bike. I am to stay on flat ground. Smile two came when I asked how soon I could start vacuuming post surgery.  One week.  My limitations after surgery will be few.  Much different from Steve's last month on doing zero. Best of all...no collar needed. 

Surgery is "penciled" in for June 27th.  Perfect timing because Steve's daughter and grandson and my daughter are coming up for a surprise visit on Father's Day weekend.   I am actually eager to get this behind me.  My arms and legs are so badly bruised.......thank you Plavix.....that I look like  a battered woman.  I am constantly in motion, probably move too quickly and usually end up plowing into a wall or piece of furniture and my biggest nemesis is the strike plate on door frames.  

My right hand will have the ligament split six months after my neck is fixed.  It will take that long to see if fixing my neck will help my hands.  Total neck healing will take a year.

So.....today we priced a three wheeled bike and last night I ate two donuts.....a maple bar and an apple fritter...they were yummy and I didn't feel one bite of guilt.  

Thursday, May 12, 2016

I'm all aglow and Steve is freaked

Had a nuclear scan and echo done yesterday.  One step closer to finding out if surgery is in my future. Both of the tests were painless.  The echo just left me with about 4 pounds of gel on my chest and boobs....gel that smears when trying to wipe it off with a "towel" made of plastic coated paper and the size of a sheet of toilet paper.  


The isotope used for the stress test....cardiolyte....will stay with me for about 10 days and set off the scanners at an airport, so I have a card to use should I have a problem......no travel in my future.  

Steve stayed in the waiting room for the 3 hours it took for the tests to finish.  When I came out at the end he was the only person there and I could tell he had been crying.  He couldn't talk when I asked him what was wrong.  With his eyes he directed me to a man and a nurse getting off the elevator.  The nurse was holding on to the man's left arm and talking to him.  He had his right hand on his forehead and looked really upset.  We got up to leave when the receptionist said that my husband had a whale of a tale to tell me and she laughed.  I asked if he had done CPR on someone and she said no, but he might have needed that himself.  What ever the story was she thought it was hysterical.  So......about 10 minutes before I came out, the same nurse came up to Steve and asked if he was Steve.....that's what he heard.  He said yes.  She then told him that his wife had experienced a serious arrhythmia during the stress test and would need to be admitted right away to the hospital......she told him all of this while walking him to the back where I was.  Obviously he was really, really upset.  He said he asked her if I was alright and she said this was very serious.  When they got to this particular stress test room a woman on the table screamed "That ain't my husband you idiots!" Nope, he wasn't.  Turns out what the nurse had asked Steve was.......Are you Keith? Steve did not find the episode funny at all.....he was upset and insisted that the nurse show him where I was.  He said I was relaxing with the nuclear camera/machine happily clicking away as it journeyed around my chest.  We laughed about the whole thing today, but last night as we settled into bed he said......I hope Keith and his wife are ok.  

FYI.....the nuclear camera/machine clicks 32 times in 16 minutes on its cardiac journey.  

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

AM & PM

My life has changed a bit in the last 2 weeks.  I'm in charge of everything....every little thing.  That's the way it was when Steve traveled all of the time.  I ran the show.  Slowly, after he retired, I gave up some duties.  Seems I gave up the wrong ones.

I'm an early morning person.  Up at 6, breakfast ready to go as soon as Steve is done taking the dogs out, feeding the deer and getting the paper.  Now I'm the dog, deer, paper person and I had forgotten just how sweet 6 in the morning really is. 

It's quiet at 6.  No turkeys or crows screeching, no cars on the road yet; just me and the dogs out in the forest.  The grass smells better at 6.  The trees are greener at 6.  The bird songs are much more beautiful at 6.  I got to see the first sweet violets this spring, the first ferns pop up (they're not unfurled just yet).   I stay and wait for the deer to come out for their 4 little pans of grain and corn.  They come from the east; slowly, not a sound made and wait to see if I'm going to leave.  When I stay put, it's the yearlings that come to the pans first.  I was surprised at that; I thought the older does would be the first ones to be piggy's.  Sunday there were 11, yesterday 9, and today 9 again.  They are just as nasty as ever.  The largest doe gets in the most kicks, but while she is acting up the smaller ones eat.

Violet is at her best at 6.  She is rested, maybe a little more aware of where she is and today she even managed to run a little bit.  Wes is his usual pony self, jumping, running and acting like he is a puppy and Pete...well, he is just little submissive Pete. 

Afternoons have become special too.  Petey has decided to be my band aid.  He goes with me to put the laundry in the dryer and then we go out to get the mail. He is a great turkey feather finder (poop finder too), and can hear the moles under the grass.  But, he is never far from me.  In the last 2 weeks I have taught him to look both ways before crossing the road....really, he looks both ways and he carried a piece of mail in his mouth for a few feet before he dropped it.  Pretty smart my Pete.

I have gotten in 2 bike rides since Steve's surgery.  They were leisurely rides with some power moments.  But, mostly I have enjoyed 45 minutes to myself.  The lilacs and syringas are blooming, and Rob's field is already sprouting little blades of sweet grass....he just seeded last week.  The Oylers moved their chicken house so I can't see the chickens jumping all over the fenced yard.  The new people on the corner....I can't remember their names and call them The Redheads....have cleared a pretty impressive garden area. The snow on the Seven Sisters is melting.  Only the second Sister is still totally covered.  I have only yelled stupid bitch to one woman driver who was in such a hurry to get to her drive that she cut me off and kicked up rocks that hit me.  I hope she heard me. 

I need to remember these moments.  I need to remember that Idaho has overwhelming beauty even when I am missing my kids so much my body aches....because, Idaho is where I am.  Period. 

Steve is healing and will eventually take back his morning routine.  That's OK.....I can always go out with him if I want to.  But, I'm not giving Pete back to him in the afternoon.  Mom and Pete; that stays. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wrap up

I won't be "available" for a while after tomorrow.  I will be Nurse Ratchet as Steve is scheduled for a laminectomy at 1pm.  It has been a tough road for him to get to surgery.  He has been miserable for over a year.  Added to that, he was originally scheduled for the 18th, but he caught my miserable cold and chest crud.  He had to be cleared by our family physician and have labs done again.  So....tomorrow is the big day.  He isn't optimistic, but I am hoping I get at least 1/2 of my old Steve back.  Recovery is at least 2 months and since I have "nursed" him through 4 hip surgeries, he knows I won't tolerate any crap.  He will follow the doc's rules. Period.

I talked to Gil yesterday.  The gas bubble in his eye is gone, but he can only describe his vision as not good.  If he holds reading material close to his eye at a certain angle he can read with it, but his depth perception is still horrible as is his distance vision.  He is in a hurry to heal and get his best vision back, but the doctor told him it will take at least 6 months to maybe 5 years to fully heal and find his best vision. 

I saw my cardiologist earlier this month for surgery clearance.  He said I am doing well.  I will have a nuclear scan done the 11th of May to be absolutely sure my heart is healthy enough for any surgery.  I saw the neurologist the day after I saw the cardio doc and had an EMG.  Trust me, it is not a nice study.  He stuck long, thin needles into my hand and arm muscles and then shocked the muscles to check whatever it is they check.  I was tough until he stuck the muscles in my thumbs and then told me to lift my thumb.  Hurt. Like. Hell.  Turns out I have severe carpal tunnel issues with both hands/wrists......the right is severe severe.  I also have nerve issues at C6-7.  I see the neurosurgeon on the 19th of May and I am not sure what his plan will be now.  My fingertips remain numb, I am still crooked and walk like I am drunk.  Whatever. 

I was fitted for that demon collar.  Have not worn it.  Will not wear it.  Might try it on sometime before I see the neurosurgeon so I can honestly say I wore it....but, not gonna be a part of my life. 

Spring is in full bloom.  My bulbs have come up, rosemary is outside and has little, soft blossoms, the trees in town are glorious, the turkeys are still pooping everywhere, the bambis are back in force, the cats finally went out in the playpen, our sweet doggie Violet is failing....she has dementia and probably a tumor on her liver, but we are keeping her comfortable......there are dandelions everywhere, the trees are sprouting candles and the cottonwoods are dropping their sticky blood pods.  Life is good. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Situation of the Situations.

I Started this on the 24th of March.....I'll update rather than start all over again. 

I read an article in TIME magazine yesterday while I was sitting in the neurosurgeon's waiting room.  The article was about how older people feel about the end of life.  Their survey found that most had accepted it as a part of their life/living/humanness and were using the time they had left to make the most fabulous memories they could.  They had made bucket lists and achieved most of the things in life they had wanted to. 

JP isn't the only one with a bucket list. I had a bucket list too.  Here is what has happened to the list:

Be blonde again; I opted for straight hair for a year.  Either one would have been to expensive to maintain.

Drive a race car.  My friend Delci bought into a Groupon for exactly that at the Spokane Raceway and gave it to me for Christmas.  My cardiologist said no.  I had to give the Groupon back.

Travel to a place I would call paradise.  We can't afford to travel to the grocery store.

Make love like we used to.  Steve would probably be paralyzed if we did that....me too. 

I think I wrote that I wanted to move closer to my kids.  There is no way we will ever, ever, ever be able to afford So Cal living.

I want to finish all of the books I have in my iPad....I might be able to achieve that. 

So, the situation about the situations.  Steve has had two steroid injections.  Neither one gave him any relief from his back pain but, he did have a migraine and leg cramps afterward. No third injection and surgery is going to happen late April after having an echocardiogram and lab work done (done and waiting for results). 

I blogged about my numb fingertips, the balance crap, the neurosurgery consult.  That happened yesterday (the 23rd).  I was seen first by the PA.  Nice girl, thorough, no clue what she thought.  Dr. Ganz came in shortly after the PA assessment.  He said he didn't think my issues were necessarily related to my neck.  My neck is a mess.....degenerative changes, narrowing, three discs making dents on my spinal cord.  But.....he's not sure why I am having these particular symptoms.  Then, he did a more indepth exam and changed his mind.  After lots of talking back and forth, questions and concerns he thinks I will need a 3 level discectomy with a plate and 3 screws.  Had motion xrays done to be sure my head isn't going to fall off, have an appointment for an MRI of my thoracic spine (done today the 31st), need to see my cardiologist for clearance for surgery the 6th, have an EMG the 7th, and on the way home from the neuro doc appointment I checked messages and he wants me to be fitted for and wear a Miami J collar whenever I am upright....oh, I can take it off for showering, sleeping, and eating.  The fitting is on the 8th. 

I am not sure what is really going to happen because the EMG appointment is with a neurologist and maybe all of these symptoms are from something totally unrelated to my neck.  So, fuck wearing the J collar because it is a horrible torture thing and we will see what my cardio doc says because my heart is way more important than having to adjust to numb fingers and walking like I am shit faced. 

No, I am not particularly compliant.  Too bad. I will try the collar......as in put it on for a while and see if my symptoms miraculously go away.  I don't see the neuro doc until mid May and I will just tell him I have been wearing the collar, it really bothers me, and didn't help. 

I'm going to start a new bucket list.  First thing is:  Ride my bike as many days as I can when the weather is good......starting tomorrow.  That's the current situation of the situations. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Doctor Said....

Just a quick note about Gil.  He saw the eye doc this morning and everything is healing well.  The laser points have scared, the buckle is in place, and the gas bubble is about 55% gone.  His vision is blurry, he has to hold reading material really close to his face and he will need cataract surgery in another year.  Yes, Gil failed to tell me he had a cataract.  One thing at a time, mom, he said. 

His biggest complaint is depth perception.  It is horrible and his good eye gets really tired and twitches....all things the doctor said will take time to normalize.

He has his next follow-up appointment in 3 weeks.  He forgot to ask the doctor if he can run.  ~sigh~  He promised he would call the doctor and ask before he laces up.  He just can't relax and heal.  All of our kids seem to have the same attitude when we "advise" or ask them to be a bit more responsible.  Silence and then, I heard you, Mom. Gil has two kids......he'll find out soon enough.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

3 eyes

Drops and ointment, shield at night, rest a lot, face down 100% of the time if possible, no soap in the eye.....eat, sleep, drink, rest, take vitamins.... all face down. When he does get up to use the bathroom, it's head down.  His neck is going to be a mess.  For at least 3 weeks.  The gas bubble will dissipate by half in 3 weeks and he will have half of what will be his vision back then.   6 weeks total for the space to fill with fluid. In 6 months he should pretty much know what his vision will be, but it could take as long as 5 years for total healing.  My kid is a superhero.  xxoo, Bert.