Thursday, June 28, 2012

June 2012: Mom as "Lucy"

One of the workers at Bedford Assisted Living asked Mom if she could dye her hair.  She said that Mom said yes.  The problem is that Mom will say yes to any question that she doesn't understand or can't hear.

When I went in to visit her there she was with very short bright red hair.  Mom told me that she didn't know how it happened, that she just woke up like that.  I, of course, thought it was totally hysterical and just started calling her "Lucy" in my best Ricky Ricardo accent.

I told her that it would grow back white soon enough.  I spoke to the staff at Bedford about making sure that she understands the question before they believe her answer.  I had to almost hold one of them down so she would listen to what I was saying.  Something about health care workers - they tend to ignore what you're saying.  I had the same problem in the hospital with Jim.

The more I see her with red hair the better I like it.  It brightens up her face.  I know that she'll be happy when she has pretty white hair again.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June 27, 2012: Get a free car mirror bra

This site ( will give you a free USA car mirror bra.  This is the first time I heard of a bra for a mirror!  I wish the site had more interesting designs.  They have mostly sport teams themes.

Now I am on the hunt for decor for my new car.  It really needs some personality.  I would like to have a dragon tail swooping around the back end.  I don't want to paint it because I want something that is not permanent.

I'm thinking of renaming my car from "Dino" to "Lizzzy."  I called her Dino originally after the Flintstone's pet dinosaur.  Then I find out that that Dino is purple and my car is green.  So, Lizzzy would fit a lizard, dinosaur or dragon.

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June 26, 2012: waiting cont'd

I tried to write a post using my kindle fire earlier.  It would only allow me to type into the post title block.

Jim's minor surgery was a MAJOR hassle.  (He's home now and okay.)

I left the office at 11:30 AM to pick Jim up at TIRR outpatient where he had physical therapy.   We drove to the West Houston Hospital, Richmond by Kirkwood.  We arrived early - around 12:45.  But, they put Jim right into a day surgery room.  The nurse did the usual stuff - blood pressure, temperature, etc.  She asked me about his meds and when he ate last.  She didn't want to listen.  I had to repeat myself to be sure she understood what I said.  Then she went to do his IV.  She kept saying how wonderful his veins were for doing an IV.  Jim started OW, OW!  Then he said "I'm going to faint."  I stood next to him and sure enough he fainted.  I told the nurse, Blessie that he had fainted.  She didn't believe it at first but then tried to get the anesthesiologist.  Luckily Jim was laying down so he didn't fall.  He came back to and then promptly fainted again.  The anesthesiologist and at least 6 nurses came running in.  I was trying to stay next to Jim so I could tell them if he fainted again.  I guess he must faint weird or the staff were not familiar with people fainting.

Poor Jim got all sweaty.  I had to insist that they change him into a fresh gown.  The surgery was supposed to start at 2:00.  At 2:30 Dr Hananel came in to the room and said he was running late.  I thought he was going to have Jim moved to the OR.  After another 45 - 60 minutes of waiting I went to check at the nurse's station.  The doctor was working on a surgery that was scheduled before Jim's.  Finally at 4 PM they took him to the OR.

I went on a search for lunch.  The cafeteria there closes at 2 PM.  I got a bagel at a little coffee spot in the lobby and browsed in the gift shop.  Then I went up to the waiting area.  I waited until around 6 when a CNA came in to get me.  The doctor never spoke to me.  I asked the nurse to call him.  He was already gone.  I guess he couldn't wait to leave.  I complained to the nurses about how impolite the doctor acted.  So tomorrow I get to call him at his office.  I'll probably only get to leave him a message.  I'll make him listen at the follow up appointment.

When I went into his room Jim was sitting up drinking juice.  He was hurting from a poorly performed transfer from the bed to the table.  His blood pressure was up. Finally we were allowed to leave. Two nurses were trying to help get Jim dressed and into the wheelchair. They did not want to listen to what Jim and I told them to do.  I had to keep standing next to him trying to protect him.

Jim got himself into the car. The nurses forgot to give us bandages to bring home.  At least they did give me some home instructions.

Hopefully, this is the end of this ordeal.  Now Jim just has to heal up.  All this to get a couple of little cysts removed from a sensitive area.

June 26: 2012: waiting

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

June 19, 2012: I wanna rock!

Last night I went to visit Mom at Bedford.  I couldn't find my camera again.  I wanted to take a picture of her cropped red hair.  One of the aides gave her a new look.  They said that Mom said yes when they asked her if it was okay before they did it.  But, if Mom doesn't hear or understand a question, she always answers "yes."  I told them from now on make sure she can repeat the question back to them before they act on her yes answers.  Until it grows back in I am calling her "Lucy!"

I took myself out on a movie date after my visit.  I saw "Rock of Ages."  I knew that Jim would have no interest in this movie so it would be a good one to go to alone.  One of these days he might want to go to a movie with me again.

I thought it was going to be a story about rockers.  It was that and more - a musical with 80's music.  There was a love story and dancing, too.  I was at the 5:15 PM show at the Loew's Fountains.  I always like to sit in the back row, preferably in a seat where people won't want to walk across my legs.  So, I got there around 5:10 PM sat down in the last row and no one else came in.

Since there was no one disturb, whenever I felt like it, I just sang along with my favorite songs.  Alec Baldwin and I sang a duet to "I Love Rock and Roll!"  During the 80's I used to participate in a jazzercize type class.  1979 - 1987 were especially good feeling years for me so it was "my" music on Rock of Ages.

At first I felt more alone than usual.  Besides going alone the theater was empty.  Then it actually felt kind of appropriate.  Too bad, they didn't sing "Alone Again, Naturally."  That seems to be the theme song of my life these days.  (Just looked it up - it was released in 1972 - too early for Rock of Ages.)

I recommend this movie to anyone who like 80's music, Tom Cruise, love stories, dancing or any combination thereof.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 14, 2012: Paper Butterflies

I work in the Anthropology Department at Rice University.  Tomorrow is my supervisor's birthday.  She loves butterflies.  I cut out butterfly shapes from one of our department's old books.  I was able to find some pages with skeletons and hieroglyphics on them. I added some butterflies cut from colored papers.  I cut out the center of a large paper plate and stapled the butterflies around the rim.  It needed MORE so I cut the rim off a smaller paper plate, covered it with butterflies and added it to the top.

The dots on the butterflies are holes punched out of the leftover colored paper.  I wrote "Happy Birthday" on a large butterfly and put it in the center of the wreath.

She hasn't seen it yet because it's on the back of her office door.  I won't be in tomorrow.  Guess I'll have to call her and tell her to check out the back of her door.

I love "found object" art that now seems to be called "upcycling."  I was happy to find a good use for a discarded textbook!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

June 7, 2012

Jim and I went to a Board game meetup group on Tuesday.  They were playing "dungeon and dragons" type of games.  We wanted to play Scrabble, Password, old people games, I guess.  But, at least we went out together and we even had dinner.  The group met in the Potluck Sandwich Shop.  The people were nice but we didn't join in their games and won't be going back.  I'll start my own group, if necessary.

Tonight I'm going to a book club meetup group.  I read the books years ago - A House for Mr Biswas.  I don't remember much of it but I liked it.  The group meets at the library on Montrose near Richmond at 6 PM.  The time and place are convenient so I'm going to try it out.

Saturday is my sewing meeting.  They're doing another sew-in.  I don't know why people like to haul their sewing machines and all the other stuff to meetings.  Guess I'm just lazy.  But, I'll go and watch, take photos and talk with everyone.  I always enjoy our meetings.

It's amazing how much better I feel with just a little socializing. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

June 2, 2012: I'm tired of moping around.

Jim and I used to do everything together.  We were busy most weekends - estate-saling, movies, out to dinner, plays, art openings, day trips, exploring back roads.  I was totally spoiled - he was my best friend and lover rolled into one!

Then the accident happened.  It's been a year and a half.  Jim is much, much better now.  But, he is still afraid to go places with me alone.  He doesn't think I'm strong enough to take care of him.  I'm not strong but I'd sure try to keep him safe.

There's no changing his mind.  Most of the time I'm pretty content staying home on the weekends working on my hobbies.  I'm not asking for much - go to a movie once in a while or out to dinner  It has been so long since we've had fun together.

I have to work on getting out more on my own.  I did go out to an early dinner by myself yesterday.  It was okay-a first step.  I still haven't gone to an estate sale alone yet.  I used to go by myself long before I met Jim.

I know how lucky I am that I can get up by myself, get in the car and go somewhere.  Jim can't do that, not yet anyway.

Sometimes I feel like I'm paralyzed, too.  I don't do things because I don't want to do them alone.  It's no nowhere near as much fun being alone.

Tomorrow I am going to the JCC and sign up for Tai Chi classes.  That will get me out of the house one day a week anyway.

I'm thinking there are lots of other people like me.  With the internet why should anyone have to be alone.  There is a website "meetup" that helps people meet others with similar needs and interests.  Anyone interested?  I'm thinking of becoming proactive and see if I can organize something.  Enough of this moping around!

Friday, June 1, 2012

June 1, 2012: I'm caretaker of the day.

Claudia's car broke down today so she can't come take care of Jim this morning.  I'm resting now after getting him up and bathed.  My phlebitis has been acting up so I can't stand for long periods.  Jim has gotten much stronger but he still requires a lot of assistance.

Right now I'm wondering about other spouses of spinal cord injured people.  When Jim was at TIRR I'd see women pushing baby strollers with more kids in tow walking beside their young husbands in wheelchairs.  Then there were the older women trying to help their paralyzed husbands.

These women were most likely being told the same things that I was told.  "You need to learn how to care for your husband by yourself.  This is how you catharize, give injections, do bowel programs, roll him over in bed, and on and on and on."  I received absolutely NO psychological counseling at TIRR.  So, I assume these women, also traumatized by this huge change in their lives, were treated likewise.  My friend even told TIRR's doctors that I was severely depressed.

The goal at TIRR was not to make the patient better but to move him out of the health care system and into the home.  We were given 6 weeks at TIRR after he moved from SW Memorial Hospital.  Jim was totally paralyzed from the neck down.  I was still in physical therapy from my knee replacement surgery.

I understand that insurance companies decide how long someone gets health care.  But, that doesn't make it right.  No one at TIRR would admit that Jim needed to remain in the hospital longer.  His occupational therapist strapped a razor in his hand and pronounced him able to shave himself.  His physical therapist rolled him onto his side and told him that he could do it himself.

That was NOT true.  Jim could do so very little by himself.  He had to be fed by someone else, put into his chair by a lifting device, catharized,  tilted back when his blood pressure dropped.

My point is that insurance companies control TIRR, the other hospitals, etc.  My beef is with the pretense:  Health care workers pretending that it is all right to boot severely injured people out of facilities long before these patients are ready.

  I knew I was not physically capable of taking over Jim's care.  The attitudes of the workers at TIRR were that I was just inadequate.

This denial of the needs of patients and their families contribute to the mindset of so many in this country that we do not need health care reform.  Jim and I have good health insurance but still we didn't get enough assistance.  What about everyone else?  If doctors, nurses, therapists, etc. keep bowing to the insurance companies and refusing to admit that their patients need further care, we can be sure things will not change.

Do not make the injured parties feel inadequate.  If something is wrong, admit it.  That's the first step towards reform.