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.  Bobby.  I was a single mother of two living partly on the welfare system, cleaning houses for the rich, and going to cosmetology school.  Bobby 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. Gil. 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 parent's 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 Gil is getting married.  Of course he wants his dad there.  Seems Bobby 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, Gil 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.  Gil had found out that his father had lost his job, his condo had been foreclosed on, and no one knew where he was.  Gil 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. 

Gil found him living in his SUV in back of a supermarket.  He was collecting cans to support his drinking, a little gas and food.  Gil offered to help his dad;  his dad declined.  The next time Gil 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.  Gil 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 Bobby 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 Gil 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.  Gil can't find him.  He has a DNR in place; Gil has power of attorney.  Gil is waiting for the call to come.

My son Gil 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?

Bobby 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 Bobby's family, mine was almost normal.  My dad was an alcoholic and my mother had affairs....what's to complain about?

Did I love Bobby?  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 Bobby 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 Gil. 

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 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. 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 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


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 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 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, 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.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Big Picture

Remember my youngest son, Alex? Yeah, about that....his name is Gil and I'm not going to try to cover up today.  He is my family on FB and I don't hide him there, he knows about my blog, and I doubt anyone will harass him over my post.

Almost four decades ago when Gil was about six or seven, he had a best friend named Georgie. Georgie's family was from Korea.  Georgie was born there but the family was "re-located" to So Cal when he was a baby.  His father was a government employee of some sort and his mother was a housewife.  They lived two houses down from us in Rowland Heights.  The father spoke fairly good English, but Maria, the mother, spoke no English at all.  Despite her lack of English and my lack of Korean, we were friends of sorts and managed to use an odd kind of sign language and gestures while we each spoke our own language. It worked for us.  Maria had a second baby, a boy, shortly after they moved and at that time she seemed to become a little overwhelmed.  But.....

Maria's house was always spotless, the kids clean and she managed to turn their backyard into a rice paddy.  It only flooded the house to the west twice and of course when you are growing rice in your back yard the kids had no place to play but the front yard so......they were at my house...a lot.  

Maria became pregnant again and had another little boy, David.  She kind of went off the deep end after that and the reason became pretty clear when the youngest was about 18 months old.  David suddenly had red hair and was wearing a dress.  Maria called him......Maria.  She was also teaching herself to drive.  Her husband had bought her a Volkswagen station wagon and the neighborhood joke was that everyone stayed inside when she was practicing.  Every single day she would load up David/Maria and then spend most of the time driving on the curb, on the wrong side of the street, or grinding the gears trying to find reverse.  It's comical now, but back then I was worried about her. 

Eventually she sort of evened out, but David stayed Maria.  They moved before he started school so I'm not sure how all of that turned out.  Gil told me years later that he had seen Georgie and his mom had died from breast cancer. 

I have left turn.  Most of the time Georgie and Gil were racing their big wheels on the sidewalk.  Some times they played with Gil's army men or holstered up and played Indians.  They were in the same class at school, walked to and from school together, had a few sleep overs, and just were really close as 6 or 7 year old boys can be.

One day they were playing at Georgie's house; not their usual routine because my lunches were apparently better that those at Georgie's house.  It was summer, it was hot and I was glad they were inside.  Gil came home shortly after he left....crying....loudly.  He said he had hit his eye on a table.  His eye looked horrible; red, swollen, tearing and well, just horrible. He said it really hurt and being a freaked out mom off we went to the ER.  Luckily the ER was quiet and we were seen right away.  Gil was given an ice pack to hold on his eye while we waited to see the doctor and within minutes.....probably one minute...what should pop out of his eye but a BB.

So the story then became one of playing cowboys, Georgie got his dads BB gun and shot the eye.  We were in an Ophthalmologist's office within an hour and the diagnosis then was: The BB had taken a piece of Gil's iris and that piece was now embedded in his retina.  There was nothing that could be done about that and in order to prevent the retina from detaching Gil was to be on bed rest for 2 weeks.  How we did that I really don't remember.  I do remember Gil jumping off the top bunk of the bed in his and my oldest son's room.  But, we got through it and it wasn't until Gil started high school that he needed glasses.

He had checkups yearly and as technology improved the iris piece could be seen more clearly.  He is nearsighted, had astigmatism in that eye and had a really hard time wearing contacts, so he just wore his glasses and complained about them daily. 

Jump to about 5 years ago.  Gil decided to have Lasik.  He is a grown man, has a family, works as a middle school teacher and can make his own decisions.  His mother....that would be me....gave him her opinion.  In 3 words; don't do it.  Like I said, he is all grown up.  He did it. 

Gil has overcome a lot in his life.  He is swimming in lemonade.  He races for a semi-pro bike team (bicycles not motorcycles) and has more scars from those races than I want to see.  Most prominent is the half moon scar under his eye proudly gotten after a crash in a race he somehow managed to win. I doubt he can tell you how many pairs of glasses he has broken....even those indestructible special goggle things he paid a fortune for broke.  So, he had Lasik.  One thing that came out of that procedure is what exactly happened when he was shot.  Yes, the BB took out a piece of his iris and yes, it is embedded in his retina.  But it seems the BB floated around his eye, mostly under his cornea leaving ripples of scar tissue in it's path.

Gil calls me every few weeks.  We catch up with the kids activities, if his dad is alive and lost or found, how his classes are going, just mom and kid talk.  He had called me Saturday on his way home after picking his dad up from the hospital.  So, when the phone rang Tuesday and I saw it was Gil on caller ID I thought....his dad is gone. 

Hi Bert, what's up?

I'm on my way to the ER.  I just saw my optometrist. He said my retina is detaching.

You're driving yourself to the ER and you think your retina is detached?

Seems he started having blurry vision in his eye late Saturday afternoon.  By Sunday everything was gray and shadows.  He called the optometrist Monday, had the appointment Tuesday and then the trip to the ER.  He was in the ER until midnight and had an appointment at UCLA yesterday morning.  He drove his car home from the ER.  Yes, his wife had met him at the ER, but Gil....gawd forbid.....didn't want to leave his baby Mini at the hospital. The UCLA appointment was a bust because his fucking insurance will not agree to the rates UCLA wants.   So, back to the ER they went and finally yesterday afternoon he was seen by an ophthalmology surgical specialist in retinal detachments. 

I understand the physiology of what is happening and it isn't good.  Simply, he has a tear in his retina, the vitreous is leaking behind his retina causing it to detach and fall over his line of sight.  There is a lot more to it, but the result is the same.  He is in danger of losing sight in that eye period, forever. The specialist told him he will have to do the following....on fucking Monday.....drain the vitreous, laser tack his retina, maybe do a silicone buckle, fill the area where the vitreous was with an air bubble and hope for the best.  Gil will have to pretty much lay face down for 2 weeks so the air bubble can do its job of putting pressure on the retina.  Eventually the air will be replaced with fluid, but not the thick vitreous.  He might get 30% reading vision back, but time will tell about his overall vision.  There are no corrective lenses to help.  He has a 10% chance it will happen in the other eye. The why of all of this? Not necessarily the BB accident, not necessarily the bike crashes, not necessarily the Lasik, but probably the fact that his nearsightedness and astigmatism is so bad that it stretched his retina and since it was already "weakened" it just tore. 

You know, Gil is almost 47 years old.  But, he will always be my baby; just like Chris will always be my little girl, and Art will be my big boy.  They are my children, I want to protect them from this kind of misery, but they are adults.  I feel helpless, Gil is not only scared but deeply worried.  His kids are freaked and I can only imagine how his wife feels.  This is just all fucked up .....from Gil delaying getting treatment, UCLA and his insurance playing monopoly with his health, to the delay in surgical intervention.  I'm in Idaho, he is in So Cal, but I wouldn't be any good to him anyway.  This is just all fucked up.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Double Helix

Mothers and daughters; sometimes a complicated relationship.  My relationship with my mother was troubled, intense, rarely fun, distant.  My relationship with my daughter is fractured.  Not the first time that has happened, but the broken line never really heals and eventually it starts to stress. She is angry with me for not protecting her as a child in a step parent marriage. She denies this. 

My daughter is strong, beautiful, talented, professionally brilliant, lives every day to the fullest. I am beyond proud of her and there are no words to express how much I love her..  I can't tell her this enough.  She is generous to a, not generous, giving.  She has gotten me little meaningful gifts...a hand painted picture of violets, a collage portrait of my grandson's wedding, a necklace with a picture of the two of us, a cup with Penelope's picture...just special gifts.  And then there was my surprise 70th birthday gift of family, tickets for us to see Jackson last summer, snowboarding trips to Schweitzer when Mammoth is closer and in the end less expensive. She calls me every Monday on her way home from work and sometimes on the weekend if she isn't busy.  She loves me.  She just doesn't like me much. 

I realized a very long time ago that I had become a lot like my mother.  We share depression, worry, low self esteem, frizzy hair, and an Italian face. My daughter deeply dislikes most of  these traits in me, calls me Debbie Downer and bickers with me over pretty much any little thing I might mention about my health, financial circumstance, or my hair.  These subjects are pretty much off limits....most of the time. 

The car accident in 2005......called her after I was sure we were at least OK. Steve's 4th hip replacement because of the accident....didn't even tell her until he was on the ortho floor.
My heart attack.....called her after I was moved out of CCU. Louie.....called her after the needle biopsy was done.

She wasn't happy when I told her after the fact with all of these issues, but it was the best decision.  I never even told my sons about need. 

She has been upset with Steve and me the last few years because we haven't been able to travel to So Cal to visit.....we simply can't afford a trip.  I did talk to her about the consolidation loan we eventually got, but those calls were short  because she couldn't understand how it was we were so deeply in debt....we get Social Security don't we? My daughter has no clue about retirement finances.  She has said she will worry about that when the time comes.  She buys what she wants when she wants, has a nice home by the beach, recently leased a 65K car, and she and her husband both bring in a nice 6 figure salary.  Steve and I did too at one recent as 2009.  Then the words Great Recession came into being and all of that changed with a lay off and a tumbling retirement account.

So, 3 weeks ago as soon as I said the words I knew it was a mistake; a big mistake.  Here is sort of how it went:

Why have you waited 2 months to see the doctor if your fingers are numb and you feel lopsided?

I just thought it would go away; you know, it was gonna pass.

And of course you are thinking the worst like you have a tumor or had a stroke or something else drastic, right?

No, I am just concerned because it hasn't gone away.

And whose fault is that?  Yours. I'm sure it is nothing, maybe some PT will take care of it. I'm going to think positive and you can think horrible.

I hope it is something simple and that I don't need PT because at 40 bucks a pop I can't do that.

So, it's about money now? Didn't you just pay off all your bills with that loan? 

Sweetheart, paying off those bills got us a little stability not a total fix.

Has it occurred to you that all of this is just old age?  You are old, mom. Deal with it, get over it. Move on, just take care of this shit and move on.

And that was it.......she had hurt me, or to be psychologically correct, I guess I let her hurt me, set myself up to be hurt. I told her I had to go, I loved her, said goodbye and hung up. She hasn't called me since. It took me over a week to realize she wasn't going to call. I emailed and finally left a message on her cell over the weekend. Short and to the point with both....I love you, I miss hearing from you. 

I'm not sure what comes next.  Like I said, this has happened before, but it has been years.  I am old, I am.  Physically I feel old, but mentally I haven't caught up to 71, not by a long shot.  I know/acknowledge my faults.  She is right about all of them. Are mothers and daughters not supposed to talk about things that trouble them, worry them, hurt them?  I'm not sure what comes next. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016


Let me start at the beginning. Last summer I had an episode of torticollis. I swear, my neck hurt so badly if someone had led me to a pasture with a shotgun over their shoulder I would have happily gone. The aftermath of that left me with my left shoulder about 3 inches higher than my right with intermittent spasms, shortening of tendons and ligaments and haircuts that are always lopsided....really.

Then last fall, October 3rd and 4th to be exact, these two adventures happened. Remember? I was digging the 5 foot hole required to fix the water pipe Steve had crushed when he was using the auger to put in a post for the satellite dish. And then, I had voiced my last bitch about all of Steve's fucking boxes sitting in the middle of the garage. Yeah, that was a good idea, rosemary. Let me haul the boxes to the bucket on the tractor, I'll climb up the ladder to the appropriate shelf and then haul the boxes out of the bucket onto the shelf.....while Steve sat in the cab of the tractor (because his back is all jacked up) moving the bucket with a lever.

A few days after these brilliant exercises in stupidity my fingers started tingling and going numb....and then it went away, then a few days later tingling again and then it went away. Early November the tingling and numbness came back and has been there since. I thought it would go away eventually, but it hasn't.

Then early December I woke up one morning and felt clumsy, lopsided, drunkish. I was listing to one side or the other and if I moved too fast I fell over. It wasn't in my head or my ears, it was my body. Sometimes my arms and hands went slack and my legs felt like they were steel pipes. I finally had to tell Steve when I took a header in front of him in the living room. I saw the doctor mid January and had an MRI on the 20th.  Here are the short results.

Severe, multilevel discogenic, spondylitic and facet joint degenerative changes in the cervical spine as delineated above. 2.  Mild to moderate central spinal canal stenosis at C3-4 and C5-6.3.Central disc protrusions at C3-4, C4-5 and C5-6 abutting and mildly deforming the ventral aspect of the cord. 4.  Moderately severe narrowing of left C4-5 neural foramen. 5.  Moderate narrowing of left C3-4 neural foramen. 6.Moderate narrowing of right C5-6 neural foramen. 7. Prominent arthropathic changes at the atlantoaxial articulation, manifested by capsular thickening and/or pannus formation and a relatively gracile appearance of the odontoid process.

The doctor said I needed a neurosurgical referral. Well, I live in Sandpoint, Idaho. My sweet Steve has a crumbling back and waited 3 months to see a neurosurgeon who referred him to a pain clinic for steroid injections before proceeding to surgery correction. Said pain clinic is so backed up (and probably badly managed) he can't get the first injection until mid February because the clinic cancelled two previous appointments. I was referred to the same neuro guy and have yet to get a call.

I am frustrated at not being able to do the things I do every day timely and without hurting myself....vacuuming, exercising, walking, taking the dogs out, just pretty much anything. After my heart attack I worked my ass off to lose weight, changed my dietary habits, exercised daily and felt great. Now, it is almost dangerous to get on the treadmill and my legs can't handle the recumbent bike for more than 20 minutes. Forget getting on the elliptical. That frustration, no anger, reached maximum levels because I had a melt down Wednesday night and when I saw my doctor yesterday I totally fell apart in the office. I am not sleeping well and spend most nights wandering around the house, watching snow fall, petting the reading or computering because then I will never fall asleep. I'm not in real pain although my neck bothers me sometimes, but the clumsy shit is just way out of control.

Let me complicate this a bit more. I was an ortho-neuro nurse all of my nursing career. I realize that my experience was almost 20 years ago, but I took care of patients that had surgery for what I have and not all of them had good outcomes. I realize that medicine has made HUGE advancements. But, I am not really excited about an anesthesiologist sticking needles in my spine to inject steroids or a neurosurgeon slicing my neck open even with a tiny, teeny incision to do whatever. Not that any of this is a concern right now. I have no clue when I will see the neuro doc, if I am even a fair candidate for surgery because of my heart, or if the sun will ever shine again because I live in Sandpoint, Idaho and that is not the mecca for neurosurgery. As for the format of this post.....fuck trying to align anything because my fingers hit all the wrong keys......sorry.   It was all I could do to click spell check and be sure caps were in the right place.   On a positive note....I got a script for Restoril and slept like a baby last night. 

Wednesday, January 06, 2016


Here I sit waiting for Steve to go through yet another MRI.  I'm worried about him in general.  He is overweight....again....because he can't exercise without pain and he won't change his diet.  After I had my heart attack he was doing great.  We exercised together, rode our bikes in good weather, walked the trails and he was happy. Then last year everything changed.  I want my old Steve back.  Added to this.......

His cousin, Jeanie, is dying.  This is no run of the mill cousin.  This was Steve's best buddy, best girl cousin, his get into fun trouble cousin, the first person he told he loved me was Jeanie. I love Jeanie. She is the coolest person ever.  She has a gypsy soul, wanderlust, and is a true 60's free spirit.  Until she went into hospice care she kept her hair bright red, dressed in gauzy skirts and peasant blouses, wore as much silver jewelry as she could cram on to her arms, fingers, ears and neck and always...and I mean always....wore red cowboy boots.  She carried her look beautifully, never looked gaudy or eccentric.....she looked like a fuck-you-I-am-a-kick-ass-redhead and you'd better get out of my way. That's all over.  She has days left, her husband is talking about the movie The Notebook, and the family has gathered.  She wants all of us to get together at the river by her home in Montana this summer, at least be barefooted or naked if we want to, and put her ashes in a special paper box she has picked out and let her float away.  I can't imagine being without Jeanie, and Steve is mourning......deeply.  

We have talked seriously about getting our affairs in order....finally......and talked to the vet when we took Emma in for her lab work yesterday.  All of our possessions and bills aside......and the shit pile of Steve's "inventory".......our biggest concern is what will happen to the dogs and cats.  Violet is old and not healthy, Petey is depressed and submissive, Wesley is a forever puppy.  Emma and Guido can't be separated and of course Emma has special needs, and Izzy needs to be an only child.  Who would want this menagerie? No one.  The vet said we could put instructions in whatever we have in place....a will or contact her and she will help should we both be gone, but we are both worried the pets will outlive us.  For all of my wanting kittens, at this point in my life to bring in any other pets would be irresponsible.  

So, here I sit.  Thankfully, I'm  alone in the waiting room because just thinking about all of this is making me cry......but, what else did anyone expect?  You can always count on me to write something like this, right?  Every group needs a Rosemary.