Friday, December 18, 2015

Christmas Presence Spread, Day 2

Christmas Presence Tarot Spread: Day Two: Ten of Chalices

What does the Darkness teach me?

"The rainbow shines after the rain."

This card symbolizes contented happiness, ease, family, harmony. Stability and a firm foundation. Well-established contentment, the knowledge that even through hard times, the family holds together and comes through stonger for their relationship. The lesson of this card is not to let the darkness overtake you, to believe that there will be better times ahead. To believe in the permanence of family love and the strength of a good foundation.

Card is from the Manga Tarot.

Spread can be found here: The Christmas Presence Tarot Spread.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas Presence Spread, Day 1

Christmas Presence Tarot Spread: Day One: The Tower

How can I be fully present to the Miracle of the Season?

Change, upheaval, reversal in fortune. A slap to the face to snap you out of hysteria or complacency. Something is wrong and you are ignoring it -- expect a blow (physical or to the ego, for instance), a surprise, a fall from grace. Disruption or destruction is necessary, how you deal with it is the key. Try to find the positive in any situation, no matter how bleak. Clear away the old and make a fresh start; a welcome release, shattered illusions, the courage to change beliefs that are no longer appropriate. A powerful revelation that changes everything.

I always go into the holiday season with some trepidation. I do my best to do things that will raise my spirits even though this time of year is always hard. I do a really good job for a few days, sticking to my plans to watch Christmas movies, make early preparations, not get caught up in the frenzy, or guilt that I'm not doing a good enough job. Invariably, my plans fail and I begin to lose hope, realizing that this Christmas will be like all the others, just something to get through, and look forward to the relief on the other side.

This card seems to indicate that I need to pull myself out of that mindset, accept that things may not (will not) be perfect, that there will be pitfalls and setbacks. Shake it off and push forward, take things as they come, and expect that everything may get turned on its head.

Card is from the Manga Tarot.

Spread can be found here: The Christmas Presence Tarot Spread.

Nine of Wands

Card of the Day: Nine of Wands

This card is from the Manga Tarot.

From the LWB: "Vigilance. Not everything happens without conflict."

This card represents inner strength and determination, persevering despite setbacks, being wary of being attacked, being knocked down but standing up again. Holding fast, continuing on through difficult times, keeping things together. Relying on yourself to be strong enough to get through the current situation. A struggle, with the hope of victory.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Two of Wands

Card of the Day: Two of Wands

This card is from the Manga Tarot.

From the LWB: "Desire. Where the eyes don’t see, the heart sees."

This card represents personal power, commanding respect, inventing something new, doing things your own way. In a reading, it suggests that preparations may have been made for something, but the project, venture or journey has not been started. It could also indicate that the querent may focus on planning, but never actually takes the first step. You may be faced with opportunities, but will have to follow through to gain a good result.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Three of Pentacles

Card of the Day: Three of Pentacles

This card is from the Manga Tarot.

From the LWB: "Service: There is also honor in serving."

I got this card three times in a row over two days, so obviously it's something that I need to pay attention to. The Three of Pentacles focuses on a group, a team, rather than individual action. It also indicates competence, i.e., be proud of your good work even if it is as part of a team and not individually recognized. The traditional card shows a workman showing his progress his admiring bosses. Perhaps they are architects and he is carrying out their plans; they show that they are pleased with his competence at his job. You don't always have to be the boss, you can also achieve happiness and satisfaction by following the lead of someone else, as long as you concentrate on doing your own job well.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Ace of Pentacles

Card of the Day: Ace of Pentacles

This card is from the Tarot of Pagan Cats.

Prosperity, abundance, security, positive energy, productivity. The Ace of Pentacles suggests that you may be ready to start a new business or career with the potential of financial advancement, as long as you are willing to put in the hard work necessary. calls it the "seed of possibility," and says that if you focus and stay grounded, you will be able to bring your dreams and goals into reality. The Ace of Pentacles shows a hand appearing from the sky holding a coin. However, it is only a possibility; the lush garden indicated on the card will only come about with hard work, but if the hard work is done, the financial reward will come.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Queen of Swords

Card of the Day: Queen of Swords

This card is from the Tarot of Pagan Cats.

Honesty, sense of humor, experienced in the ways of the world, both good and bad. You can't put anything by this Queen!

She is traditionally shown as one who has suffered, who has known pain, yet has faced it with courage and dignity, and has been able to hold her head high. She may represent a person who will enter your life, or may indicate that you will be required to develop such qualities yourself. If you are faced with adversity or sorrow, bear it with dignity and a sense of humor.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Six of Cups

Card of the Day: Six of Cups

This (and all the cards this month) is from the Ceccoli Tarot.

From the LWB: "Look into your deepest memories to remember who you are and what makes you happy. Let others help you find yourself again.

Key concepts: Revisiting the past, childhood memories, forgiveness.

The traditional Six of Cups card shows two children playing, with a castle (their home) in the background.


It is a truism that there is violence, anger and mean-spiritedness in the world. Certainly there is enough of this, but there is also much good will and caring. A mother hands a drink to her child. A friend lends his car for the weekend. A worker fills in for a sick colleague. Small gestures, barely noticed, but so important. The Six of Cups is a card of simple goodness. It encourages you to be kind, generous and forgiving.

The Six of Cups also represents innocence - a word with many shades of meaning. You can be innocent in the strictly legal sense of lack of guilt. You can be innocent of the truth - unaware of some secret. You can be lacking in deceit or corruption - innocent of ulterior motive. Finally, you can be virtuous or chaste. These are all possibilities that can apply to the Six of Cups, depending on the situation.

In readings, this card can represent a child, children, or childhood, or the qualities associated with childhood, i.e., innocence, playfulness, sweetness, feeling safe and/or secure.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

King of Swords

Card of the Day: King of Swords

This (and all the cards this month) is from the Ceccoli Tarot.

From the LWB: "One who plans and strategizes thoroughly before acting. Brings a brilliant mind to any situation."

A man of intellect. Honest, truthful, insightful and eloquent, impartial and incorruptible.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

The Queen of Pentacles

Card of the Day: Queen of Discs (Pentacles).

This (and all the cards this month) is from the Ceccoli Tarot.

From the LWB: "One who gives abundantly of all of life's sweetness. Generous and motherly, a resource for wealth."

This Queen is sensible, down to earth, matter-of-fact. She doesn't have the time or the inclination for a lot of foolishness. Loyal, steadfast and trusting, she just takes care of things without worrying too much about it. She's nurturing, but she won't put up with a lot of your nonsense. A lover of nature, she represents involvement with the physical world, reliability, pragmatism, success, security, wealth.

In readings, the Queen of Pentacles may represent someone currently in your life or someone that you may meet. All of the Pentacles cards represent money or finances in some way; the Queen is strong, affectionate, nurturing and wise. She is financially secure and spends money wisely, but is not particularly frugal. She enjoys the things that her wealth brings, i.e., a beautiful home, gifts for her family, the ability to pamper herself with beauty treatments--maybe a spa day or two.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

The World

Card of the Day: XXI, The World.

This (and all the cards this month) is from the Ceccoli Tarot.

From the LWB: "Everything seems complete and perfect just as it is, but don't be afraid to shake things up. A new pattern will emerge."

Key concepts: Completion, wholeness, breaking through.

I love the card from this deck, with the little gingerbread house and the little girl inside a snow globe. I've always loved snow globes -- a whole little world inside a sphere, with "snow" or glitter inside. A couple of years ago I made Christmas ornaments for everyone in my family by buying clear glass fillable ornaments and filling them with plastic "snow." There's just something about that little self-contained world that intrigues me.

Traditionally the World card shows an dancing woman with her feet crossed in the manner of the Hanged Man, but upright rather than upside down. According to Rachel Pollack in Tarot Wisdom, "the World represents the culmination, full consciousness unlimited by dualism or ignorance," and "the World card doesn't just overcome limits, it transcends them to show us a vision of fully realized existence."

In readings, the World represents a positive result, a breakthrough of some kind, "some powerful understanding that leads to wholeness and freedom. . . mostly, it promises success." Rachel Pollack's Tarot Wisdom

In Learning Tarot, Joan Bunning equates the World card to a feeling of thanksgiving: " It's Thanksgiving Day. . . . You're happy, fulfilled and truly thankful . For this moment, the World and everything in it is yours." So while I was first thinking that this card would be more appropriate for the last day of the year, I also think it's very appropriate to start off this month, this season, with a wish for wholeness and completion, to go into the holidays on a positive note.

Monday, November 30, 2015

A day, a year

I love the "photo a day" challenges, and I sometimes start them, but don't usually finish them. I was going to do a "tarot card a day" one (no challenge, just for my own learning), and I did it for a few days, then something happened that destroyed my mood for a few days, and I couldn't go on. Isn't it silly how that happens? But it does. I have a really hard time bouncing back from from things sometimes--disappointment, a perceived insult, something that doesn't work out the way that I had hoped.

I'm going to try the card a day thing again for December, as well as doing Susannah Conway's December Reflections. I was going through my Day Timer, putting the prompts in for each day, and when I got to the last day, it asks for your word for 2016.

I can't remember for sure what my word for 2015 was, either "sparkle" or "shine." I got a manicure right after the first of the year, and my nail tech convinced me to do gold sparkles (I always get French manicures), and I thought, well, that fits in with my word of the year, so, okay. But then Bob went into the hospital on the 5th, and was away from home, either in the hospital or in rehab, for six weeks, and I didn't feel like I did much sparkling. It was much more like my word for 2014, which was "believe." I did a lot of that in 2015. Bob says that was what made the difference -- my belief that he would live, and maybe so.

I notice that the prompt for December 1 is "sparkle," so I guess that's appropriate. I'll have to think about what I want my word for 2016 to be while I take photos this month.

It seems like we sure spent a lot of money this year, from the mountain of medical bills following Bob's hospitalization, to having to have our trees pruned, to having to get an unexpected set of tires this weekend. But we will try to have a small Christmas this year, and it will be fine. I have a secret thing that I'm going to be saving money for, and I'm really hoping that I can make that work. I'm excited about it.

The photo above is a selfie that Bob took a couple of years ago. I posted it to my company's Slack channel saying, "This is the face of retail from now until the end of the year." It makes me laugh every time I see it, he's so serious. And I love the bent "antler."

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Quiet Power

Okay, so . . . this is getting weird. For the third day in a row, I've drawn The Sun. Completely by accident. I've mixed the cards pretty well, although since I'm not actually doing a reading, but wanting to get familiar with these cards, I didn't actually shuffle them.

I recently read a book called "Getting Wilde," by Jenn Stark. The protagonist, Sara Wilde, is a professional thief and carries a pack of tarot cards in her pocket and pulls one from the deck when she needs guidance or inspiration. Occasionally one will fall out of the pack, and if that happens, it takes on even more significance. So that's basically what I'm trying to do. So I guess the cards are doing their best to tell me that everything is going to be okay.

So I pulled another card for today and got the Queen of Swords, "one who wields quiet power behind the scenes. May be more dangerous than is easily perceived." Perfect! That's me.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The Sun

This morning I drew a card and got The Sun again, which actually makes me very happy. I've been having a hard time of it over the last few days or weeks, for various reasons, but I've been trying hard to embrace joy and believe that everything will work out fine, and this card reinforces that.

So I drew another card, and got the Four of Swords. From the LWB:

"Quiet your swirling mind. It's time to rest and sort things through. Do not take any further action. Take care of your mental and physical health."

Key concepts: Recovery, meditation, a healing respite from troubles.

I love this. It's really good advice for me. I also like the aquarium imagery, given that I've been working on the aquarium at work. The fish is a cichlid. He has a lot of personality. He was given to me by a friend, along with several others, but he bullied and/or killed any other fish that I put in with him, so he is now alone. He is from Lake Malawi in Africa, as are many cichlids.

Cichlids are builders, and he has cleared all the gravel from underneath the little castle structure, causing it to fall over. I posted this picture on Instagram this morning with the caption, "This is why we can't have nice things." I tried to take a video of him moving the rocks, but every time I get up close to the aquarium, he stops and pretends he wasn't doing anything. I can hear him right now. He picks up a piece of gravel, takes it where he wants it, and spits it out. Maybe one of these days I can sneak up on him and take a video.

I said something yesterday to my coworker that I should get in there and set the castle upright, and he said, "no, he's made his bed, let him lie in it."

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Everything is going to be okay

Today's card: The Sun.

From the LWB: "All good things are coming to you now. Open your hands to receive them. Sweet happiness is yours for the taking."

Key concepts: Joy, supreme success, health and wealth.

Basically, every little thing is gonna be all right.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Fall in love with as many things as possible

I plan to pull one card from the Ceccoli Tarot each day in November.

Today's card: VI The Lovers. "A choice is offered to you that could change everything. Listen to your heart's guidance. Follow the path of love."

Key concepts: Sacred or profane love, moral choices, soul mates.

(From the Ceccoli Tarot LWB.)

Generally, The Lovers card is not about romantic love per se, but about choices, or it could be about being in love with some*thing* rather than someone.

My theme for the holiday season is "Fall in love with as many things as possible," so it is apropos for the first card of the month.

This year has been really hard, starting with Bob's hospitalization in January, and since then it's just been one thing after another. This time of year is hard for me at the best of times, but lately it's seemed worse than usual. So I'm going to make a real effort to enjoy the holiday season, starting right now, with my birthday month. I'm going to take a lot of pictures, and hopefully blog every day. I guess we'll see. I've got a good start!

And I'm definitely in love with this deck. I had heard about it months ago, but since it wasn't out yet, I had forgotten about it. Then I saw someone else post something about it, and immediately went to Amazon and ordered one. There is a mini deck coming out in February, and I have already pre-ordered it. I prefer the mini decks, they're easier for me to shuffle and carry, but in this case, I will want both.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Sock Yarn Addict

With enough sock yarn in my Ravelry stash to make sixty pairs of socks--enough to knit a pair a month for five years--I should probably just give up and say that I have a Sock Yarn Collection instead. (Click for larger version if you're curious.)

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.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The whole story

I'm always excited for a new year.  It seems like a second chance, a chance to start over and do better.  And 2014 felt like a bad year (although I couldn't say why without really thinking about it), so I was happy to move into 2015.

But we were only five days into 2015 when it all started to fall apart.  I've told this story so many times, but I really want to get it down, both so I don't forget anything, but also for Bob, who, while he lived it, was unconscious for most of it.

Bob had been having some back pain which we first thought might be kidney stones, which he has had before, or it might have just been back strain.  Then he also had some pain in his stomach, which we thought could be related to the back pain, i.e.,  your back hurts, so you walk differently, and that strains your abdominal muscles.  This all happened over the first weekend in 2015, and Bob asked me if I would make him an appointment to see his doctor, who is also his best friend.  His day off was Tuesday, so I made him an appointment for Tuesday morning.

I asked him if he wanted me to drive him, and he said no.  Later that evening he talked to John (his doctor) on the phone and told him his symptoms, and Bob told me that John was concerned, although he didn't have any specifics.  He changed his mind and asked me if I would take him, and of course I said I would.  I thought maybe John would give him muscle relaxers for the back pain and he wouldn't be able to drive home.

So we got there and he was called back to the doctor's office, and I waited in the waiting room with all the sick people, all the while praying that it would be something simple  When John came to the door and motioned for me to come back to the examining room, I knew it wasn't.  When I got back there, John said that Bob was having an ultrasound, and he thought it could be one of three things -- 1) nonspecific back pain, 2) an aortic aneurysm, or 3) transverse myelitis (which I immediately Googled), an inflammation of the spinal cord similar to MS.

About that time, the ultrasound technician came out and said that it was an abdominal aneurysm, and it was the largest one she had ever seen.  So she prepared a CD with the ultrasound results on it, and John told me to get Bob in the car and take him to the emergency room at Centerpoint, the closest trauma center.  The ultrasound tech was giving me directions to get to the hospital when Bob suddenly had terrible back pain (he said later it felt like someone hit him in the small of the back with a baseball bat).  I shouted for John, and he came running, yelling "Call 911" to the office in general. 

He drug a chair over and had Bob sit down in it, and we were waiting for the ambulance when Bob stood up.  John said, "What are you standing up for?" and Bob said, "I'm going," and he collapsed.  John eased him down to the floor, and we (John and I and probably the whole office) thought we had lost him.  Someone said, "Is he breathing?" and John said, "I don't know."  I had backed into one of the doctors' offices to be out of the way and just stood there, shocked, and so scared.

He was breathing, and the paramedics got there VERY quickly, but he had collapsed into a corner, and it was a struggle the paramedics to get positioned to get him off the floor and onto the gurney.  I was praying for them not to drop him, and to get him to the hospital quickly.

The clinic is a family practice clinic, and seldom sees anything like this, so everyone was standing in the hall trying to see what was going on, and a lot of the young girls were crying.  The ambulance driver had to call in to his supervisor to get permission to take Bob to Centerpoint, because that would mean passing up a closer hospital.  But the closer hospital didn't have a vascular surgeon, and Centerpoint did.  I was standing on the sidewalk waiting to see what was going to happen, and one of the office girls came out and asked me if she could pray with me, and she held me and prayed and we both cried.

The ambulance crew finally got permissions to go to Centerpoint, and they took off, and I started for my car, but the ultrasound tech looked at me and said she would drive me, and we could worry about my car later.  John told his nurse to cancel the rest of his appointments for the day, and he and his brother Mike, who had been visiting the clinic at the same time that we were there, drove to the hospital, too.

To be continued . . .

DayTimer Review

Originally submitted at Day-Timer

Our most popular format has the room you need to capture all the details of your day. The left-hand page includes to-do list and a long daily schedule. The right-hand page as a diary allowing you to jot down job details, personal events, and ideas.


By Willa from Overland Park, KS on 2/17/2015


5out of 5

Pros: Improves Organization

Best Uses: Everyday Use, Organization

Describe Yourself: Midrange Shopper

Primary use: Business

Was this a gift?: No

I love a paper planner, but the desk size is heavy to carry around, so I sometimes switch back to electronic, i.e., my calendar on my phone and tablet. But this year I decided to go back to paper, and I am so glad I did. I have used this two page per day format off and on for years. I have tried other formats, but always come back to this one. I love having the blank, lined, right-hand side for notes and journaling.

Right after the first of the year my husband went into the hospital for major surgery, and was there for almost six weeks. My planner was invaluable. I wrote down everything that happened, all the doctors' names, test results, visitors, etc. He was in a medically-induced coma for two weeks, and when he woke up I was able to tell him who had visited, and give him a chronological record of what happened to him. I would not have been able to do that without my DayTimer. It made it easy and pleasurable during a very stresful period in our lives.