Wednesday, May 27, 2009

almost finished

It was a long ride home. There was a tornado drill at Denver when we all went and stood in a restroom when a tornado was sighted. Everyone got back off the planes (gee, you would think they could do that for other delays - they CAN figure out a way to get you off the plane and back on) and got away from the windows and into a restroom. It was very weird to see the sole man that stood in the women's room and did not cross the hall to stand in the men's room.

I had taken knitting to St. Louis but did not knit more than a half row at a time, so I gave up. On the trip home, I decided I should knit, so I did, for 9 hours. Sunday I finished knitting, blocked the piece and wove in all the ends. It is a shrug pattern that promises to button up into a vest. I like to knit anything with yarnovers and cables. this is linen and mohair, and did block out softer than the knitted swatch.

Monday, May 25, 2009

It's good to be home

I had a drink with Lei in my ever-so-clean house, and went to bed early. We were all glad to be there.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


sorry this has not been so interesting. Nothing interesting happens when one is in the ICU 12 hours a day. It was pretty tough to watch mother lay there motionless. Not too sure, it may be harder to watch her lay there and kick her feet and grimace. At least she is not pulling at the tubing so she doesn't have to be restrained. The old girl has a lot of fight in her, and it is for sure good exercise after laying there motionless. I'm sorry she is so agitated, but we can't keep her sedated until she is ready to get out of bed. It's going to break my heart to tell her I have to leave - she has no idea how long this has been, of course.

I was trying to let the tech get by me (it's a cosy room with all this stuff in here) and I closed my laptop screen onto my pen. Ooopsie. Now I have a striped screen with smears in the display. sorry boss.

OK, I am going on another little field trip to check out another nursing home. I need to run a few errands, and then I will come back here and sit. And knit. Or not.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday, May 21

To reiterate, Agnes has her own blog now at This one is going back to being about me.

It is kind of a routine now, wake up with a start when the first photon slides through the drapes, make tea, feed the cats, get it together and try to watch the 30 mph speed limit as I drive through the residential streets to get here a little after 6. I hike up 2 stories of stairs and come to Mom's room, glancing at all the monitor readouts before I ever look at her sleeping in bed.

I arrange my stuff around my chair, fix the power cords so no one will trip, lock down the laptop and turn it on, go out and talk to the night nurse to find out if anything has changed. Time to rummage in the cabinet for teabags, see if any peanut butter has magically shown up, hike down 3 flights of stairs to the cafeteria in the basement to get a clean styro cup and straw, some milk and oatmeal. Today as I pay, the cashier asks me if I work here. No, I tell her, my mother is here, and she nods sadly. Back upstairs, wash my hands as I go back in her room, where I sit and chat with the day nurse, the respiratory therapist, the 4 docs and the cleaning lady as they pass through in turn. So here I sit, rummaging through e-mail and looking for applications to send to customers, leaving occasionally to hike the stairs for more hot water, washing my hands, and sitting.

I am hoping we can reduce the sedation after we get her ventilator fixed. I am anxious to do my real job here, patting and encouraging, opening cards and reading them to Mother, standing over her and smiling. This sitting stuff isn't much help.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Agnes has her own blog now

So that all the friends and family can keep up with Agnes we are going to post on her very own site. How 'bout that! if Agnes has ever heard the word blog, I'd be surprised, but she has one now! it is at Please bookmark and see you there.

Wednesday 20th

Still in a holding pattern. No change. I promise to make a round of phone calls when there is news. I don't expect anything to change before tomorrow. She is stable, her lab work and vital signs are good, her skin is holding up, and she is heavily sedated and as comfortable as we can keep her. Stay tuned and think positive.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

supportive medical care

Agnes' medical team and I made some decisions today that we hope will enhance her chances for a full recovery. Agnes had a medical crisis that resulted in very major surgery to clean up after the infected gall bladder, and now she is very weak. It will be some time before her muscles are strong enough to breathe on her own, so we have made the decision to connect the ventilator directly to her trachea to make it easier to breathe and to allow her to remain on the ventilator until she is strong enough to comfortably breathe for herself. This will be a much more comfortable arrangement for her than to have the apparatus in her mouth and throat.

She is not doing well on the tube feeding. She is also having a line inserted into her artery so that she can continue on total parental nutrition. You don't want too much information here, but that should also make her more comfortable.

We hope these changes will make it possible for us to reduce the amount of sedation. She is otherwise stable, and when we see how she is doing with these changes, we can move Agnes to a setting that will allow rehabilitation while she is weaned off the ventilator. It will be a long recovery, but barring unforeseen circumstances, we still expect that to happen.

Please folks, she needs all the prayers and good thoughts to keep comin' her way.

Monday, May 18, 2009

no good news yet

Discouraging, Agnes is not breathing any better yet. I had truly hoped she would be doing better by now. She is agitated and moving when she is not under the pain medication. I hope there is better news when I go back to the hospital this evening.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A smile is a beautiful thing

It’s Sunday. I know this because it is the day there is a big newspaper. There is a daily calendar on the wall across from the bed. I had assumed it was for the patient but now I understand it is for me. Agnes was too weak to breathe, so she is back on the ventilator again since last night. She seemed OK and sleeping comfortably when I left for the day, then the phone rang and the ventilator was required again. It will be some days before this changes. I am not sure why I sit here all day, as most of the time she doesn’t know me, but there you go. I don’t know why I didn’t think to pack my little radio – I could use some company.

Just before lunch she started thrashing around, meaning the morphine was wearing off and it was time for more. If you ask her if she is in pain, she slowly nods. That’s all. I told her I was going for the nurse, and while we waited for him to come, I pat and rub on some place that is not stuck, bruised or be-tubed, and tell her to hold on for a few minutes. Today, she opened her eyes and nodded. I told her what had been happening, that she was going to make a complete recovery, explained about the respirator and she nodded. It was the first time I had explained anything that I think she comprehended. Especially, I hope, the part about complete recovery. So while the morphine was kicking in, I told her who had visited, who had sent prayers. I told her I had her meal ticket and was going out to get lunch and would be back when she woke up. I told her I was going to eat her lunch because she was not going to get it. And around the breathing tube, past the tape over her mouth, she smiled. Beautiful.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Let there be light!

Saturday morning. Baby steps today. But we did get the ventilator tube out. After the machine left, I moved my chair from the dark corner to the window. Now I have enough light to read. That has made a surprising difference. Yay!

Agnes is now on oxygen, but breathing through her mouth. She becomes very agitated, but appears to be in pain, so she is still in la-la land but only on morphine now. I’m pretty handy at reading all the monitors and know when to get the nurse and what to tell him to do. The sedative they were using has the side effect of amnesia, so she should not remember any of the past days, which can only be a good thing. Her surgeon is a wonderful doctor, at least as far as bedside manner. He is very good at explaining the past, expressing optimism, letting me know what to expect, and outlining steps if developments are not as expected. Bless him, he has promised me daily phone updates when I have to leave on the big silver bird again. Her nurses have been wonderful, also. I have always been dubious that they used this hospital in preference to going to St. Louis, but I like her doctors, and her care appears appropriate. You can’t judge the hospital by the cafeteria, I’m just sayin’.

So finally, the proper combination of mild sedative, lidocaine patches, morphine and diuretics seem to be operative, and she is sleeping without distress. Let's hope tomorrow brings more progress.

Friday, May 15, 2009

happy banding day, 3 girls and a boy

That's good, it has become an annual treat, the banding of the falcon eyasses on the city hall tower through the lens of the blurry web-cam. Glad I didn't miss it.

It is so green here it makes the eyes hurt. You who live where it does not rain much understand this. A cardinal, an oriole, peonies make my heart sing. People are getting ready for summer here, painting lawn furniture and fat men are riding mowers on the impossibly green lawns.

48 hours post surgery, Agnes is still on the ventilator. I was crushed when they told me it would be another day. When the sedation starts to wear off she gets very agitated, and since I am not sedated, I am having a hard time dealing with that. After we got her quiet again, I left for some time, as she does not know if I am there or not. They tell me she is doing well, but not that well. I suspect there will be no more news for awhile. Sigh, more waiting.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


beep boop. All day. I got in very early so I would be able to talk to all the docs. She went from sick to way sicker than I ever hoped she would be in just hours. Maybe just as well I was not there Tuesday. It must have been a happenin' place and I only knew the half of it before today. It's pretty unusual for her to still need to be on the ventilator- certainly that surprised me. And it is bonus day; we made it up to 7 bags of stuff hanging on the tree.

Agnes began to come out of the sedation and began fretting about the ventilator tube and the restraints that kept her from pulling it out. Her oxygen was decreased so she would have to work harder to breathe, so they can take the tube out. She did know it was me, and her eyes opened wide when I told her sister Nora Jean had sent love and prayers - that clearly touched her. But she was fidgeting and squirming so much she started to have a lot of pain, so she is back in la-la land for the night. Maybe tomorrow.

It's a pretty small community of 6 rooms, so I have been watching family come and go and hear them hollering at their loved one to get a response. There is a young woman there on drug overdose who is totally unresponsive, and a few old people. I've never been around people this sick before, and literally everything stops for everyone (except the staff) until the situation is resolved. That's me, on hold, waiting.

We are temporairly suspending normal programming

We will take a break from our usual publication of random musings to keep tabs on my mother’s recovery. Agnes had an acute gall bladder attack Monday morning and a number of other complication ensued, so that she went from being uncomfortable to acutely ill within 36 hours. The medical staff intervened to prevent cardiac failure and stabilized her sufficiently for surgery Wednesday. Unfortunately she had to have the old-fashioned surgery, not the newfangled laparoscopy kind that would have gotten her out of here in a day or two. The good news is that the liver and pancreatic tests are back to nearly normal, so she is recovering. So for the next few days I will sit in this cold room with a warm laptop for company, listening to the bong bong bong beep-beep-beep whoosh whoosh hisssssssssss noises that surround me. Mom has been fighting the restraints, so she is pretty well sedated still. She recognized me last night, but today there are no lights on. The plan is to start to wean her off the respirator and try to get her out of bed in a few days. I’m guessing a skilled nursing home with some physical therapy will be required to get her back on her feet.

Meanwhile the technology in this place is pretty amazing. She has more tubes than I knew there were places, although amazingly enough, there are no drains in the incision. In addition to the machine that breathes for her, there are 4 bags of stuff dripping in to her neck, where there is a handy-dandy port for syringe injections, and blue leg warmers that squeeze her calves rhythmically to assist the circulation in the lower half of her body. I would never embarrass her by photographing her looking so terrible, but you have to be impressed by how much stuff they have hanging off the walls. .

However the technology that is totally unimpressive is the free WiFi. You get what you pay for, and occasionally my computer can find Yahoo, but no way can I get through the firewall. So I’m working off line and hooking up to the lan line in the computer room where mother lives.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Good News!

Ahhhh. That is one sigh of relief. Mother went to the "Sergent's" today, where they told her there was not a real difference between the last two mammograms. There will be a needle biopsy to be sure, but at this time there won't have to be general anaesthesia. No harm in being cautious, but I think this was pretty badly mishandled by whose ever office left her a voice mail and told her to schedule a biopsy. All's well that ends well.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Wardrobe Malfunction

G managed to get some cheap tix for the Celtic Woman show in the San Jose Civic Auditorium for Sunday night. We took advantage to go out for dinner at Il Fornaio, where G loves the risotto and I love everything else. We then walked down the block to the Auditorium, stood in long lines for will call tix and made it to our seats in the nosebleeds. Since many seats were still empty, I went to the ladies room. Now the steps in the balcony are concrete, steep, and have no hand rails. I bent over, crept down the steps by holding onto the backs of the empty seats on the other side of the aisle. I finally reached our row, crossed over to get to my seat and whoops! my silk charmeuse pants came untied and slithered down my legs. I QUICKLY sat on the step, started laughing, and began fumbling to fix my clothing. Glen was laughing, I was laughing, everyone was laughing. The poor lady right next to me kept saying 'I'm sorry" through her laughter, and I kept saying "It's funny!". Ah, no real harm done as my tunic was pretty long. Too bad I didn't think to take a bow after I stood back up! But maybe some elastic instead of a slithery drawstring, ya think?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Genus Nepeta

We have three varieties in my yard, and my guide today to the relative potency is Louie. Catnip, or Nepeta cataria, is the least favored, although it seeds itself well and we now have several established locations. I also have two species of catmint, although I do not know for sure which species they are. One is larger and has quite lovely blue flowers. The cats' favorite, however, is the smallest plant. It nearly didn't make it through spring for being rolled on, so it is recovering under a pot holder.