Monday, October 05, 2015

The current plan(ner)

I was reading a "mommy blog" post the other night about buying school supplies. I would post the link, but I can't remember where it was. It was about spending a fortune on school supplies, not being able to find leftover ones from the year before, having to conform to school lists, etc., but, as is often the case, the comments were as interesting as the article. One of them struck me so much that I took a screen capture so I could copy it. It said:

"Mostly, I just think about how with every pen or notebook I've purchased (or that has been purchased for me) I have also consumed hope. Hope for organization, for uniqueness, for a clean slate, for the ability to be ready when the world (surely) imparts some knowledge upon me. And should that knowledge require a protractor or gel pen to understand, I will (by god I swear) be ready."

I have purchased SO many notebooks and pens over the years. So many different configurations, Franklin Planners, Levenger Circa, Moleskine, Piccadilly, and on and on. I might be a little OCD about it . . .

And planners. I've failed so many times to keep up with a planner. The closest I've come is the Franklin Planner binder with a Daytimer filler that I just happened to have started in January before Bob went into the hospital. It was great then, and as I've said before, I think it saved my life, because I wrote down everything that happened, everyone I met, everyone that visited, all the doctors and nurses and all the test results, and while I would never have been able to remember all of that information, I had it written down and could access it easily.

I kept it up for awhile, but it's so big and heavy, I started leaving it at work, and now it resides in a drawer there. It's just too big and bulky to carry around every day. So I downsized within the Daytimer universe. Many years ago I went to work for a commercial real estate company. When they hired someone new, they routinely ordered a monogrammed Daytimer wallet of your choice, which thrilled me! I got a burgundy leather one, and it's stayed beautiful for about twenty years.

I decided to try it again, and ordered a years' worth of monthly filler books. I've discovered that one of the reasons I love, and tend to stick with, monthly planners with either loose leaf pages or separate monthly books, is that if I mess something up, I get a new chance, a new start, every month. I choose the two-page per day kind, with the left-hand page dedicated to to do lists, expenses, and appointments, and the right-hand page is blank for notes.

So that's the current plan(ner).

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What I'm reading now

I was reading this article today: The End of the Ambitious Summer Reading List, and it started me thinking about the books that I've read throughout my life.

There were the school libraries, of course. I read my way through the Dick & Jane books, working up to Dr. Seuss. I particularly loved "Harold and the Purple Crayon."

When I was growing up, we lived within walking distance of the public library, which was huge for me. You could check out ten books at a time, and I spent the summer walking the couple of blocks to the library, getting my stack of new books and bringing them home to read, reading them, and going back for a new stack. I remember sitting on a lawn chair in the garage, watching over a garage sale on the driveway, reading hard-boiled crime -- Dashiell Hammett and James M. Cain. When I got my weekly allowance I walked to the drugstore and agonized over which Agatha Christie novel to buy next, until I owned them all (or at least the ones the drugstore had in stock). I read James Michener ("Hawaii"), and Arthur Hailey's "Airport" and "Hotel" honed my love of stories set in discrete, confined spaces.

High school saw me reading Anya Seaton's historical novels, and I still remember the thrill of discovering J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy on the library shelf. The first Stephen King story I read was "'Salem's Lot," serialized in Cosmopolitan Magazine, as I recall, of all places. And I eventually read my way through all of them. Ray Bradbury and Clifford D. Simak introduced me to science fiction.

I'm not really sure how I became such a voracious reader. My parents didn't read novels. They both read the newspapers, and my mother read some health-based nonfiction. We had a complete set of the "Happy Hollisters" books, and when I didn't have anything else to read I would pick a volume of the encyclopedia off the shelf.

I have always read purely for enjoyment, but I think my attention span has gotten a little shorter than it was when I was in high school. My interests have changed, certainly. I do occasionally think it would be fun to re-read The Lord of the Rings, but I no longer find historical romance interesting. In order for me to read romance, it has to involve some sort of paranormal element--vampires or werewolves or dragons--and even then, I have a fairly small interest range. I tend not to read anything set in the past; the setting needs to be present day or future.

I love discovering a new author, and will sometimes read my way through a whole series, one after the other. I read Thea Harrison's "Elder Races" series that way, immersing myself in her world of shapeshifters. I actually got the first book in the series, "Dragon Bound," quite awhile ago, either for free or for $.99. It didn't really interest me--a book about a man who can shift into a dragon?--but for some reason I started it, and absolutely loved it. I ended up reading all 8 novels, plus several novellas and shorts, and then listening to the whole series in audiobook form.

Lately I've been reading a lot of "cozy" mysteries; currently it's a series called "Maternal Instincts" by Diana Orgain about a new mother who gets involved in solving mysteries. Like most cozies, it's not really based too much in reality, but if I can suspend disbelief in order to read about men turning into dragons, I guess I can read about a mother with a newborn solving murders.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What I've been up to

I know that I haven't written in a LONG time. I had two people contact me this week to say that they missed hearing from me, so I thought I would at least jump on here and post an update.

We're doing fine. Bob spent four weeks in the hospital, two of those in an induced coma, and then two weeks in a rehab facility to get his strength and mobility back. In the middle of February, he came home, and a few weeks later when the doctor said it was okay, he went back to work, part time at first, then full time after a couple of weeks of that.

In June he had some more surgery to repair two additional aneurysms that the surgeon had noted during the original emergency surgery, but didn't deem serious enough to do at that time. This time, he only spent two days in the hospital, and about a week off work.

He's now back to work full time, and pretty much back to normal. He still has some pain, but he's working through it. He's had a lot of appointments with the surgeon and the cardiologist, and a couple of CT scans to be sure that everything is still in place, and it seems to be.

I've been busy at work; I used up all my paid time off while Bob was in the hospital. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way -- I felt like I needed to be there so I could talk to as many doctors as I could, and, of course, to be there for Bob, even (or even more so) during the time when he was unconscious.

We moved our offices in May, and I was pretty involved in that. We're now a few blocks farther south, in the Crossroads Arts District rather than the River Market. There is construction going on down here, too, but I've been happy to get away from the streetcar construction! I have to walk farther to get to work now--the parking lot is a couple of blocks away--so I've been working out various strategies to carry what I need to. Right now it's a combination of a medium-size crossbody bag (a Vera Bradley On the Go Crossbody) and a small tote back to hold my Kindle, my current knitting project, and my lunch.

In an effort to pare down, I bought a new Kindle, so I don't carry my iPad every day anymore. And I got a new desktop computer at work, so I no longer have to carry a laptop back and forth. I've also been experimenting with various configurations using a (Vera Bradley, of course) backpack. One of these days I'll have it all figured out, or maybe I'll keep changing it up. It's fun, anyway.

I bought some crazy new Sketchers, and we bought Bob a new recliner. I made some jewelry, and a made a couple of new websites for people, and I'm working on a couple others. I've been test-knitting a sock pattern for a designer, which has been fun.

I've just kind of gotten out of the habit of posting here, but I'm going to try to start doing it again, at least occasionally. In the meantime, I'm on Instagram quite a bit, as evidenced by:

Monday, March 16, 2015

Continuing the story

Someone asked me how Bob was doing, and I realized that I had left the story right in the middle. I think I just got tired of trying to write it all down in detail, and also, Blogger is screwed up for me now -- I made a Blogspot blog for a client, and now even when I sign in as myself, I'm seeing her blog, and no matter what I do, I can't see mine in Firefox, which is what I normally use.

I can use a different browser and it will work, so I'm using Safari for this today. Weird.

Anyway, Bob is doing great! He was on the respirator and in an induced coma for two weeks. Two weeks, I found out, is the longest that most doctors will leave you on a respirator. Any longer than that, and all kinds of problems can start. They had been warning me for a few days that we were approaching the two week point, and that they would probably need to do a tracheostomy, which is cutting a hole in the neck to access the windpipe directly, without going through the mouth and throat.

Throughout Bob's second week in the hospital, they would periodically try a breathing "trial," which basically meant dialing down the sedation and respirator and seeing if he could breathe on his own and not become agitated with the tubes down his throat. Frankly, I can't imagine anyone being able to do that. The usually did them very early in the morning, before I got there, and the nurses would tell me that they did a trial, and it went okay, but not well enough to remove the respirator.

All of the doctors said the tracheostomy wasn't a big deal, and it wasn't anything to be scared of, but I was. I trusted them to know what was the best thing to do, but all I could think about was people in long-term comas, and that scared me to death. The 14th day fell on a Monday, so they planned to do the tracheostomy at 10:00 that day. I got to the hospital earlier than usual on Monday, and found that the nurses had decided to try one more time, and they had initiated another trial. They were in the middle of it when I got there, Bob was awake, with the tubes still down his throat.

I dropped my stuff and stood there by his bed, holding his hand and looking into his eyes and telling him that he was doing great, that he just needed to hold on for a few more minutes. It was a total of 20 minutes altogether, I think. He made it through whatever the time limit was, and sometime during that time, an anesthesiologist came in, expecting to get him ready to go down to the operating room. It was nice to be able to tell him that it didn't look like the surgery was going to happen.

The surgeon came in and looked at the numbers, and decided to remove the tubes. He looked at Bob and told him what to do -- he was supposed to cough, and they would pull the tubes out at the same time. The surgeon was so happy -- I was too, of course, so happy that they didn't have to do the tracy -- he said, "Well, hello, sir! How are you? Nice to meet you!" It was so cool for all of the doctors to come around (and the nurses, too), who had never yet actually met him when he was conscious.

My nieces had come with their babies to sit with me that day, when we assumed that Bob was going to be in surgery for several hours. I was so grateful that they were there, because I was really anxious that day. We talked for awhile, and went down to the cafeteria for lunch, then they took off and I went back to sit with Bob.

He was awake, but he wasn't really all there. We figured out later that he had had a lot of very vivid "coma dreams" that he thought were real, and after having been unconscious for two weeks, it was really hard for him to differentiate between what was real and what wasn't.

To be continued . . .

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

More of the story

So, we got to the hospital, and I jumped out of the ultrasound technician's (Laura) car, and ran up to the emergency room entrance. There was a policeman there, I'm not sure why, but I said they had just brought my husband in, and he got the door open for me. The emergency room part is all kind of a blur to me now, but I remember the most important thing. Bob was conscious for a brief time, and as they were hurrying him from the emergency room to the operating room, he looked at me and said, "If I die, I love you, and I had a good life. I have no regrets." I told him that I loved him, too, and he wasn't going to die, and then he was wheeled away.

We -- John, Mike and I -- headed into the hospital proper to find a waiting room, and I started calling people. In retrospect, I was holding it together remarkably well. I found out things later that I'm glad I didn't know, i.e., that 50% of the people this happens to don't make it to the hospital, and 50% of the ones who do, don't make it through surgery. At the time, I just knew that he was in good hands.

I called my sister, and she came to the hospital, and John's wife did, too. After a couple of hours we went to the cafeteria and got something to eat, then made our way back up to the surgical waiting room, and there was someone from Bob's work waiting there. In short order, several more of his friends came up to sit with me. It was five or six hours before the surgeon came looking for me. He said that Bob came through surgery fine, but said that he could be in ICU as long as a month, and probably in the hospital for an additional month, followed by physical therapy. He just wanted to be sure I understood that it was going to be a long recovery. He said, "Just don't give up on him," and I assured him that wasn't going to happen. He said that some people feel that the hospitalization can be so long that families feel the patient will never recover.

Once we knew Bob had gotten through surgery, everyone else left, and my sister stayed with me. I wanted to stay until they got him into a room, whenever that would be, and she didn't want me to stay by myself. It was after 9:00 before someone came to tell us that he was in Recovery, and we made our way down there. We went down and found him, and he was hooked up to so many things that I was afraid to touch him, but I held his hand, and we sat there for quite awhile before someone came to take him up to ICU.

We followed them up there, and I was able to see him settled into his room in the ICU, where he would spend the next two and a half weeks. My sister took me out to the clinic to pick up my car, and I drove home, fell into bed, slept a few hours, then got up the next morning to head back to the hospital. Of course, it was nowhere near home -- it was exactly 30 miles away. Kind of a long round trip to make every day, but of course, I did.

I had taken my DayTimer out to the clinic, and I was so glad that I had. It became my journal / diary / record of everything that happened in the hospital. It was my record of nurses, respiratory therapists, doctors, surgeons, specialists -- I wrote down the name of everyone I met, every test result that they told me or that I overheard, everyone who visited, everyone who called.

I learned a lot of things. I learned that "acute rental failure," as bad as it sounds, means temporary, rather than permanent, which is what "chronic renal failure" means. His kidneys didn't bounce back as quickly as they had hoped, so he had dialysis every other day for a couple of weeks. I learned that a kidney specialist is called a "nephrologist," and I met a couple of them.

My day would go like this: my alarm would go off at 7:30. I would get up, get a shower, feed Dinah, and get in the car and head to Independence. There was a Starbucks in a strip mall right before you got to the hospital, so I would stop there for a mocha. Sometime in the second week, the barista started greeting me by name when I came in the door, which I felt sort of weird about, but also nice that she recognized me. She said she liked my name.

So I would get to the hospital, head up to the ICU, and check in with the nurses, asking them how Bob did overnight and if anything had happened that I needed to know about. Most of them were great; there were a couple that weren't very friendly or helpful, and I didn't handle that very well. I remember coming in one morning and asking the nurse (it was a different one every few days) how Bob did overnight, and she shrugged and said, "Okay," like, "he's alive, what more do you want?" And then she told me that Bob's brother and sister had both called, and she didn't appreciate having to talk to our relatives. She asked me, didn't anyone tell me that I was supposed to coordinate all that? I just looked at her, and walked out, because I didn't want her to see me cry.