Thursday, May 26, 2011

Week Three - Boredom, HGTV and House Cleaning

And so it goes.  I'm healing.  I know you all wanted to know that.  I've been to my primary care doctor who is possibly the only person I know who didn't know about my accident.  She said, "motorcycle?"  I said, "that was last year."  She said, "oh."  Kind of anti climatic really.

So I've been sitting around...a lot.  Depending on where I am in the pain/pain medication cycle I have also cleaned the carpet, vacuumed, groomed the #$%^& dogs, dusted, changed the slip cover on the couch, upgraded the teevee so I can watch the Horse Racing Channel, and done some laundry.  I also have been cooking and sometimes do the dishes too.  Yesterday I learned on the teevee that 3 parts cream of tartar to 1 part water makes an excellent "green" cleaning mixture for your stainless steel sink.  I am alarmed to announce this was the most exciting thing that has happened in the past 5 days.

On Sunday the spouse and I trekked over to Petaluma to get my car.  It has been living there since the helicopter whisked me away two weeks previously.  We also got to celebrate Dan's birthday.  This is a great occasion as Dan is now technically a year older than me.  I love old people.  We got him a bottle of Makers Mark "46" which I think either means Dan's "age" or IQ.  It would depend on whether or not Dan is mean to me.  Mostly IQ then...

The spouse keeps bugging me about blogging.  I keep saying I have nothing to blog about.  He keeps saying that never stopped you before.  I just take whatever is handy and zone out.  He is annoying. 

Since I was able to upgrade the teevee subscription to include HRTV (horse racing tee vee) and that then opened a whole new vista of channels,  I was able to watch the Preakness Stakes on something like four different channels.  And tape each one as well.  What a life.  I must say though, I was pretty surprised to see the horse who was the biggest boob of all win.  He looked to be using up way too much energy in the paddock bucking, spinning and rearing.  I saw many grooms and grounds people high tailing it out of his way.  Perhaps they had read what happens if you manage to insert yourself between a horses hooves and safety.  In any case, this nag must have endurance to spare, cause he won in spite of his pre-race gymnastics.  I'd put my money on him for the Belmont, if I had any.  That would be the tip-o-the-day.  No charge.  His name is Shackleford and he is named for an island.  Do you need to know any more?

Several weeks ago the spouse came home in a particularly foul mood.  Never you mind how I knew, that's not what this is about.  No, worse than even being told the dog could no longer come to work because of his indiscriminate attacking and biting habits and something about pinning someone to a chain link fence...details details, oh, the dog, not Steve.  But I digress, anyway the boss man at the place Steve works had some kind of epiphany as to dress code for managers and therefore determined that my beloved should dress more like a manager.  I took a long, thoughtful look at the man I married and marveled that it had taken this long.  Steve was not sure what part of his ensemble the boss man objected to, could it be the sweatshirt with stainage?  The too short pocketed t-shirt with stainage?  The board shorts with stainage?  Or the sandals?  Hard to say.  The upshot was that my spouse now had to dress his age.  Damn baby, I thought this presentation was strictly reserved for mandatory holiday dinners and outings to the ballet.  Nevertheless, the next morning my prince went rummaging through his side of the closet for something that was appropriate to his status.  Plenty of shirts in there due to my diligent purchases of a new shirt every Christmas and birthday.  Bonus:  they all had the tags on them!  Not so lucky in the trouser department.  In the last move we made, I believe I may have thrown out every pair of slacks that hadn't been worn in say a year.  So sweet cheeks was down to two pairs of slacks/trousers/not jeans.  I don't think he was appreciative of the sympathetic grunts I made on his behalf as he struggled with the fastenings either.  Sorry dude, just trying to be helpful.  In any case I emailed his mother unit and whined pathetically that her darling only offspring was going to be fired because he had nothing to wear, and could she send clothes to him right now, oh, and here are the model numbers from the catalog, and could you go ahead and send some shirts too?  Because God only knows how long it will be till the current crop goes stained, ripped, or whatever other horrors may befall them.   Bless her little heart!  The box arrived today and my dream machine shall be clothed in outfits befitting his station for some time to come.  Thanks Mary.  You're the bomb!

I have had visitors.  My children and their children.  The Sunday I came home from the hospital, Megan and her husband, Josh, currently #1 - you go gurl I mean guy, and the adorable grandchildren.  I made sure I was heavily medicated before they got here so as to be at my best when they arrived.  And they arrived bearing Jamba Juice goodness!  Yeah!  In turn I found a Shrek movie for the darlings and we settled in for a little visit.  The next thing I knew little Mila was at my side with a fist full of coins, and she wanted to know if she could have them for her purse.  I figured she had shaken "Grumpy" down for cash and approved the transaction and asked where her purse was.  Sadly it was at home, so I sent her back out to "Grumpy" for an appropriate bucket to transport the coins home, which he did.  Then next thing I knew all the darlings had their grubby little mitts on money that they wanted and furthermore they hadn't shaken down "Grumpy", they were pilfering from my change trophy.  My bad that it was at urchin height, so I had to put down a few rules, nothing silver, nothing heavy.  That game got old quite quickly. 

On to the swamp in the back yard.  We have a pond.  It is not deep.  The dogs stand in it.  That's all they do is stand in it.  Kind of strange.  The pond is supposed to have a pump and a waterfall.  Neither of those things work or even are there.  The landlord was supposed to maintain all that sort of stuff, but he said he wasn't going to do that after all, and just to throw bleach in it once in awhile.  Well, in the meantime we were overrun with horny frogs (not horny toads, well maybe, but I mean carnally inclined) over the winter and the upshot of that was a feverish hatching of tadpoles.  Well the grandchildren were ever so excited about them.  And insisted on catching a good number of them to take home with the money.  It was a good day for the Kerns children booty-wise.  In any case the capture of the tadpoles went something like this.  Jack obtained a tadpole catching vessel from "Grumpy" and scooped the tadpoles in to it.  Silas then came around and tipped them all on to the grass.  Jack came in screaming that Silas murdered all the tadpoles.  Silas came in grinning holding a mass of cookies and granola bars in one hand and grasping for my Jamba Juice with the other.  Mila stole money.  So then Jack would go back out and catch more tadpoles and Silas then returned them to their gasping brothers and sisters in the grass and Jack would screech and Mila would take more money.  This went on for quite a while and I marveled that Megan could not hear any of the goings on and that Josh could, and was sleeping on the couch through the whole of it.  Simply amazing.  They are absolute darlings and I approve most heartily of them.  Of course what I really liked was how easily they manipulated "Grumpy".  Mila has ordered him to appear at her ballet class like YaYa did.  Steve gravely agreed that he should indeed do that.  I'll see to it that he does.

And so dear readers, I reach the limit of creativeness for this week.  Hopefully something interesting will happen in my future.  Oh wait, the daughter of Steve arrives for a summer homage to her pappy next week.  That should prove interesting ...I'll let you know.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Part Deux

So when we last left off I was relishing having a room to my self.  And drugs on demand.  However this idyll was spoiled somewhat by the clear fluids diet.  Let me explain.  If you can see through it, I could have it.  Jello?  yes.  Consomme'? yes.  Fruit Juice? yes.  Oh and make that three times a day for three days.  Actually make that three days of not eating.  Not that I was hungry, but I was petulant and in a lot of pain and I have to say I even got tetchy.  Stop rolling your eyes right this very minute, I'm an invalid.  And that's invalid with the emphasis on the "in" not the "val". 

And what good would a treatise about a hospital stay be if you didn't have your own personal version of "Nurse Ratched" to moan about?  (please see One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest for  reference).  Mine was a PhD. Nurse Practitioner named Aldrich, but for our purposes shall be known henceforth as Nurse Wretched.  What a piece of work.  Evidently since I was not privately insured by the rich Gods of insurance, I was assigned this gem of a medical practitioner instead of an MD.  I didn't really give a whoop about any of that, but I would have preferred someone who at one point, at least, had endured pain of the sort I was experiencing.  Perhaps she would have understood managing the pain through a thoughtful use of narcotics was a better idea than hers, which was basically an aspirin and the mantra to man up.  Many of you will recognize that being in pain, the type which manifests itself through the very act of breathing could have the nasty side effect of, say, crankiness.  So this queen of medicine with absolutely no sense of humor prescribed an oral medication that I discovered upon my investigation,  had the significant side effect of agitation.  This becomes important when we visit my last interaction with the angel of mercy. 

I was also allowed to have my choice of other IV meds at certain times during the day, I had only to express my pain level  in terms of intensity of one to ten to determine the dose.  Unfortunately, because I've never been a very good stoner, I kept forgetting whether 10 was no pain or a lot of pain.  Evidently this was an important distinction to make. 

I was hospitalized in Santa Rosa for four nights and three days.  I had expected to be incarcerated over night for observation, so the length of stay was something of a surprise.   But I was pretty much asleep most of the time so it didn't matter that much.  I also spent some time walking around the corridors with a nurse  holding me up while I grasped the back of my gown so as not to share the glory of my backside with the ward population.  The exercise regime was under the orders of  Nurse Wretched.  However, at some point in the stay she decided I had not saturated enough oxygen and then confined me to the bed with a clip to my finger and a hose up my nose which were hard wired to central command at the nurses station, so that if, say, I had to go the bathroom I could  wait till someone could come unhook me from the various  breathing devices.  Or I could unhook myself and tottle off alone while various bells and whistles went off.  Upon returning to my sanctuary (bed) I would try to remember to reattach all the various things so I could nod off, but nine times out of ten I would forget something so a nurse would have to come in anyway and cluck cluck about this and that.  Still I think they appreciated they didn't have to come for potty duty every five minutes.  Clear fluid diets will do that to you.  This had the added benefit of giving Nurse Wretched something to lecture me about since I wasn't getting enough exercise prowling the halls.  Never mind she had confined me to the bed, she could still give me lots of dire warnings.  You just can't win for losing.

At some point during my stay I gained a "room mate".  She was about 110, spoke no English and had had a stroke.  Neat.  So she was confined to her bed full stop, the don't even think about leaving your bed kind of bed confinement.  This warning did not seem to translate effectively because she got up quite often to go potty.  Sadly, in her case an alarm  shrieked to warn everyone, including me, that the patient in bed "A" was escaping then six or seven medical experts would have to rush in to screech at her about fall risks and instability and being sick and what not. Then two or three translators would have to re-shriek the orders to the lady.  And nothing ever really got through to her.  It seemed to be important to screech because thats what you do when you have to converse with someone who doesn't know what you're saying.  When my little room mate wasn't trying to make a break for it she would lay in her bed/prison and chant.  That unnerved me to say the least.  I fully expected crossed chicken bones and dolls with pins stuck in them to appear at any time.  She also had visitors.  About 30 or 40 at a time all babbling in the mystery language and the errant children who liked to peek at me from around the curtains.  I found that baring my teeth at them had the desired affect of discouraging their visits.

All good things must come to an end and so I was informed that at some point I would be transferred to a Kaiser hospital.  It was also agreed that going to a Kaiser nearer to home was a good idea.  But they teased me with that tantalizing thought for a couple days.  In the meantime I was still on the clear fluids diets even though Nurse Wretched had told me I could now be on a modified diet, sadly she neglected to tell anyone but me about this revelation.  Day after day, three times a day I was presented with consomme, jello and fruit juice as my only dining option.  Long about day three I started to feel a little hunger.  At that point I had not really eaten anything since Saturday noon.  It all came to a head one morning when I was once again presented with the hell diet and I had a complete hissy fit about it.  This was resolved by someone bringing me a steaming bowl of Cream of Wheat.  Yum.  I love Cream of Wheat.  Comfort food, memories of mommy and all that.  Soon after that Nurse Wretched appeared to make her daily assessment of me as an individual (found severely inadequate) and as a patient.  She informed me that she personally had determined not to send me to Kaiser the day before, probably just to be mean, but I could probably go this very day, but I had to have a heart ultrasound first.  Ok.  Then she asked me how I was tolerating the diet (translation:  have you gone #2 yet?)  So I said the diet was intolerable and why was I still on clear fluids long after she'd told me I could have real food.  That caught her attention.   She said, "What?" So I told her that the only offerings that had come my way in the guise of food was consomme, jello and fruit juice and that I'd finally had a cow about it that very morning and I had been presented with a bowl of Cream of Wheat.  She said, "What?"  So I explained it all again to her, using much smaller words, and the point finally got through.  Defensively she said that she had told me I could have a more significant diet.  I said that was great and all, but perhaps writing that down as an order would have perhaps gotten that point across to the nursing staff and dietitian.  Then I stared at her.  She blinked and asked me why I was agitated.  So I told her why and also brought up that agitation was one of the side effects of the medication she had prescribed.  And I stared some more.  She bustled off to chew some nurses butt for not reading her mind and soon after that I was ensconced in an ambulance and on my way to Kaiser Vacaville.  Bon Voyage.

The stay in Vacaville lasted  three days and among other luxuries I was also allowed a shower.  I guess I forgot to mention that I'd only had sponge baths up to that point and hair washing was not part of the service.  Amazing what feeling clean can do for you.  I was almost sorry to leave, but on Thursday we parted company and I was remanded to the care of my loving spouse.  Some of you may think that is a cruel and unusual punishment, but I will state here and now that he is a paragon of sainthood and my care under his tutelage has been nothing short of spiritual.

So I'm home and recovering.  I have pain meds to take on a schedule and they help a lot.  I've caught up on all the shows I'd recorded and have watched several movies.  I will be happy to give you my critiques of them if you'd like to ask me, but I won't bore you with that unless you beg.  I am rapidly running out of at home amusements.  I'm not allowed to lift more than five pounds nor do I have my car, and I shouldn't drive just now in any case. Wa Wa Wa.  I see the light at the end of the tunnel, though the light is a few weeks off yet.  I'll be fine.

I fully expect to resume my house sitting gigs.  I like doing that.  And it gives me lots to think about and more importantly to write your expense, but there you have it.  Thanks for your notes of sympathy.  And your jokes and cards.  I can't laugh, but will sooner or later. 



Saturday, May 14, 2011

felt like a bomb went off, but there was no noise...

What a week.  First off, all my condolences  to Chris and Logan Bearden and your family.  Your loss is unimaginable and I can only hope you can find a way to live with it as best you can.  Carol...we all miss you.  Cheers.

Now, what about me?  Shallow and self involved? yes, yes indeed.  So as you know I spend countless hours at the beck and call of my friends in exchange for tasteful compensation.  Such was the situation last weekend when the Petaluma "client" beckoned and I hastened to do the bidding of my horse show bound friends.  I was somewhat suprised that I was also watching two gigantic dogs that closely resembled lions.  But being easy going and even tempered I dealt with it and carried on..The weekend was most satisfactory in that the horses were well behaved.  The dogs, not so much in that they chased one of the  horses in his paddock barking and carrying on like a pair of d*** fools.  Eventually one of them got smacked by the horse and went limping off to sulk.  I ascertained nothing was lobbed off nor was there any blood, determined injuries were deserved and probably painful but not life threatening.  I  informed the mother of the bad dog of his sins and went back to what ever it was I was doing.

You faithful readers will remember I was in Petaluma when the dropped drawers shipper visited.  I was forewarned that the same shipper would be arriving to pick up a horse at some point over the weekend and having previously endured that treat I was prepared.  Imagine my delight when the shipper arrived and 1.) it wasn't the same bare mooned fellow of before and 2.) I received insider information on the Kentucky Derby hopefuls..  So the going away horse left I hustled back to the house to catch all the pregame excitement of the Derby on the Tee Vee.

Eventually I had to go back out and do the evening chores so I did that, expecting that my timing would be such that I should be back at the house in time for the start of the race.  I cleaned the stalls, changed out blankets that needed changing and did the water refilling, got the hay fed and all that.  So I was on my last horse and he was in a paddock that was on the way back to the house so I untied the bad dogs and put the halter on the horse and reached around the back end of him and the explosion happened.  It was exactly like a gigantic bomb, but no noise and the next thing I knew I was several feet away from where I'd been an instant before and I couldn't breathe.  And I thought, well this sucks, I can't breathe.  If I can't breathe I will die and I'm not ready.  So I made myself breathe then I rolled out of the pasture under the hot wire and reassessed.  Hmmm, oh yeah, I believe I've just been double barrelled by the hind feet of a big horse and I was alone and I should correct that.  So I did what any of you would have...I called Steve and he said call 911.  I became hysterical and told him to just get over here as fast as he could.  He was about  45 minutes or more away .  So then I told him to call Muffie and he said he didn't have her number and said I should call 911 so I hung up on him and called Muffie myself and she said call 911 and since we had discussed the idea of her going to nursing school and because of that she was practically an expert and a doctor  so I called 911.  Then things got really exciting.

I was able to remember who I was, where I was, even the address and the gate code and all that stuff and the next thing I knew there were about 500 ambulances, cars, lights, personnel, and a helicopter milling around.  Did I say helicopter?  Why yes I did.  Remember the horses in their paddocks?  They saw the helicopter too and thought that was really interesting and stampeded around, and I was still on the ground and there was only a hot wire between me and them.  One of the paramedics (you should not smoke BTW) was trying to pull me close to the wire for some unknown reason and since I was having a little bit of a time getting enough air to scream that the wire was H.O.T.!  she had just had to find that out for herself, then she pulled the wire down in her uh "shock" and the horse got out and all kinds of pandemonium let loose.  And I was thinking I might have been better off by myself since none of these guys knew the first thing about horses much less ones that were in a panic state, and the blades of the helicopter were taking a really long time stopping and I was on the ground on a back board with one of those "C" Collars on.  So there was no way I could get myself out of the way and was at the mercy of at least three different medical response teams each vying for the opportunity to provide excellent care, but there was all the requisite posturing to be done first and I decided to freak out.  I believe I was in shock and I was freezing and I kept wondering why they kept lifting my shirt up.  Suddenly they remembered they had an ambulance and it would be quieter and warmer and maybe even safer in there so off we went and they did all their EMT stuff to me and decided they would transport me to the hospital then they decided I was a trauma case and I could go in the the helicopter.  My first thought was that Steve would be really impressed by that, and my second thought was that the helicopter would have to start up again and the horses were loose and after the helicopter left there would be no need for the ambulances and the rest of the  personnel to be there and they would leave and the horses would then be loose on the property (hopefully) or loose on the road (probably).  So I refused to be transported till the guys told me they had captured the horses and put them in stalls with water and food blah blah.  So anyway, eventually I was strapped in the helicopter and went for my first ride in a whirlybird.  Wish I could remember any of it, or perhaps I don't. 

At any rate I found myself enroute the trauma unit at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and I was fretting that I had Kaiser and they told me Kaiser did not have a trauma unit and so I just had to go where they took me and I decided they might have done this before and I was better off just going with it.  In the mean time my cell phone rang and rang and rang.  What exactly was I supposed to do about that?  I had a needle the size of  two penny nail in one arm, the other was strapped under a  seat belt thingy, my entire body was strapped to a board and still it rang.  Finally one of the EMTs answered it and talked to Steve or Muffie or both told them where I was.  Under my concise direction the medic/receptionist told Muffie to go Petluma to make sure the horses were ok and the dogs were locked up in the garage and all that housekeeping stuff was done and to bring me my purse.  He then told Steve to come to Santa Rosa to see me.  We arrived on the roof of the hospital, just like in the movies, and they moved me again, excrutiating pain,                                                        to a guerney that they all agreed was the first one ever built and chugged me down to the E.R./Trauma place.  Then the hospital personnel began cutting my clothes off.  I had successfully forestalled this action while in the field in Petaluma, but I was no match for trauma docs and the like.  It did not matter the jeans were brand new, the shirt was Ralph Lauren and the bra was comfortable snip snip off they came.  Thankfully I'd managed to push my paddock boots off before they had a chance to get to them as well.  I may sound a little pouty at this point, but I maintain I was in shock, wasn't sure what all had happened, wasn't sure how damaged I was or any of that yet, but things were happening, they took a chest x-ray then they sent me down the hall for a cat scan, brought me back, Steve called and said he was at the hospital emergency but they no record of me, which didn't sound like a good thing, but one of the trauma nurses heard the conversation and said they assign trauma patients a code # and never release their names, so she ran down and fetched him and brought him back with her.  At last a face I could recognize. Then Muffie showed up and she had no problem getting in because, well she's Muffie and few people have the energy to argue with her  for any length of time. Finally the trauma doc. came in and said they'd be keeping me overnight for observation and I said what's wrong with me? and he said lot's of stuff and left.  Kid you not.   Eventually he came back and said I had fractured my Sternum and broken 7 ribs.  Dayum. 

Each time he told me something was broken or cracked they gave me more drugs and that was a really good thing, but not so good if you were meant to remember anything important like how to manage breathng and things like that.  I had only he word of Muffie and Steve to go on, but they were pretty involved listening in on the woes of other more interesting patients, the lingo of cops and medics and taking unflattering pictures of yours truly. Then Muffie gave her personal assessment of the drugs I was given and gave her recommendations of successful companion narcotics to enhance my pain control regime.  And Steve was thinking they should serve the families of patients alcoholic cocktails and a nice meal while they waited and all I wanted was to find out what they were going to do to/with me.

So finally they decided to send me to a room so I could be observed by some other hospital people. My only wish was granted and I had a private room. And all I had to do was ask and the narcotic fairy would appear and send happy juice into my IV and I would waft away in to oblivion and be pain free.  On the down side I kept mistaking the Tee Vee turny on button with the STAT call nurse panic button and so they became disenchanted with me rather sooner than I would have liked. be continued