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

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.