Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Past Comes Calling

Today I will begin with a bit of background. My mother died of ovarian cancer that invaded both her colon and her bladder. The colon 'fix' was a colostomy. To 'fix' the bladder a surgeon went through her back and surgically inserted a tube directly into each of her kidneys. The tubing was brought together into a Y that joined a central tube that drained into a catheter bag. We cared for her in our home and she died there. My father did not thrive after her death. Six months later we again called for delivery of a hospital bed, and home health nursing. It was back to a catheter, and for him it was diapers. He died seven months later, also in our home.

I almost never let those memories out of the space I've kept them locked all these years but last night Bob opened the door and let them out.

I suppose he'd been thinking about those days, and wanted to talk, I did not. It may have been good for him but it was not good for me. I did not sleep well at all after our talk.

I can't let my mind go there. If I do I'm going to be no good to either of us. I must focus on one day at a time. I so hope neither of my children have to have this experience with me but we don't get to choose how our lives will end.

There are a few things I learned from my mother that I hope I can remember.

1) Always be pleasant and express appreciation to caregivers. They're doing their best and dealing with a grumpy,  complaining patient is not the treatment they deserve.

2) Keep current in what's going on in your community and the world. Don't let the world pass you by.

3) Mother was completely housebound the last 15 months of her life but she continued to have visitors every day of that time. I decided it was because she never talked about herself.  She was interested in those who visited and wanted to know what was happening in their world.

She was a little vain and didn't want her visitors having to look at a catheter collection bag hanging on the side of her chair. I bought pastel gingham check quilted fabric, eyelet edging, and some velcro. I made myself a pattern and sewed some bags to cover that bag. She could just drop her catheter bag into one of those bags and close the top with velcro and no one saw anything but a cheerful gingham bag. I was the only person that knew all the horrible things that went on under her clothing. 
Yesterday I finally got time to write a nice review of our ER experience on YELP. I've mentioned before that hospitals now receive some funding based on good reviews from Medicare patients. Unfortunately people are much more likely to write a review if they're unhappy than to write one when they're pleased. It's a small thing I can do to say thank you to our hospital system for the good service we receive in their ER.

We feel very fortunate to have Medicare and good insurance.  We're also very grateful for the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
On the subject of 'Obamacare,' let me say just a word. If you've been led to believe it's going away, put that thinking behind you. I think all Republican candidates as well as Republicans in Congress continue to say they will repeal Obamacare, not. 

Very recently I took the time to research what it would take to repeal it. First, they have to get a Republican in the Whitehouse!  Given that, it can be done, but the chances of Republicans being able to steer that very narrow path is indeed slim, very slim. But let's pretend they accomplished the path to repeal it, they have no plan to replace it. Obamacare has been the law now for six years. In that six years Republicans have repeatedly voted to repeal it. All votes have failed. Wouldn't it have been better use of their time if they'd looked for ways to improve it?  Nobody thought it was a wonderful plan when it went into law. Every lawmaker has a choice to help in making it better or continue the futile effort of repealing it.

Finally, if Republicans reach the goal to repeal it, their party is in shambles. In six years they've been unable to agree on a plan to replace it. What makes you think they will come together now in agreement?

Saturday, August 27, 2016


I've been a little busy the last few days but life goes on and we're adjusting. Every day gets a little easier but those first three days about did me in.

I will admit to being blindsided by this one. I've done heart since the mid 90s but never plumbing. I feel like I've been getting men's plumbing information from a fire hose since Wednesday.

The more I hear the less confident I am that we're going to see a good solution to this situation. It's been my experience when people reach Bob's age (84) and a crisis develops they seldom return to what's considered norm.

We will see the urologist on September 7 and see what he has to say about the future.

Here he is thinking about his situation I guess. Notice the cup of liquid in his hand. I'm pushing fluids like crazy. We very quickly learned jeans would not work in this situation so I was off to shop for new pants. Bought the jersey athletic/exercise pants with elastic waist and he absolutely loves them, and I love them too. 

After shopping for pants I was on to the grocery store to find everything I could find that I might get him to drink. He absolutely does not like water. I've gotten a couple of glasses down him but not much. Lots of other liquids but not water. That was Thursday I think.

Friday is the day grandson visits so I knew I had to get with it to be done in time to pick him up at 11:00 a.m. Bob wanted to go with me so we were off to the medical supply store at the hospital.

Along the way we bought gas at Costco, which was on our way. Oregon has no self-serve gas in the whole state so buying gas is only a matter of handing over your credit card. At least he got to see the building from the outside.

On then to the medical supply store. He came across this bathroom chair and decided he needed it. We had discussed the need for a chair in the bathroom now so I was delighted when he was willing to buy this one. I was sure he'd say no when I told him it was $62 but not a peep did he say. They may be cheaper other places but you know that a old saying about "a bird in the hand being worth two in the bush." We got it.

He declined to take a shower Wednesday and Thursday nights so I knew Friday was going to be the day he was going to shower, afraid or not afraid. He would not let me put his new chair in the bathtub but we got it done. All the while I'm in that tiny bathroom assisting him he was kissing me and telling me "It won't always be this bad. I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have you, and you would have made a good nurse." I'm sweating to beat sixty, perspiration dripping off my hair down my neck, and he's wanting to kiss me, I was not amused.

Today 'we' made homemade chicken noodle soup. He said it was good but I don't like chicken so I wouldn't know. He's eating next to nothing so I'm willing to cook anything he's willing to eat. He likes pasta and he likes chicken.

His normal weight is 208. I weighed him this morning and he's at 193.2.

In addition to everything else he doesn't do change well so he became very confused. He never stops wanting to help though. Grandson about freaked out when he discovered a knife and fork in the silverware drawer that Bob had obviously taken from dirty plate to cabinet drawer, bypassing the dishwasher. I could have told him that wasn't all, I've also found dishes that went from table to cabinet without being washed.

Today he seems to be some better. Things are settling down and he's beginning to adjust.

He's enjoying all the added attention. Seems to think we're new best friends and wants to keep me close at all times.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Something New

Last night I sent Bob off to enjoy a Hops game with son Rodger. He had a good time and talked a lot when he got home.

This morning I made myself a cup of (hot) coffee and read like I do every morning. In time it occurred to me he wasn't up. I went to take a look and saw he was in trouble.  He told me he could not urinate.

I left him to get his clothes on while I closed up the house before leaving for the emergency room.

I heard a thud that made me cringe. Yep, he had fallen in the bathroom. Then he decided to go back to bed and not go to the ER.

I sat around here until 2:30 and told him he didn't have a choice. Enough was enough.

He had 895 ml of urine in his bladder. A bag of IV fluids is 1000 ml. He's home now with a Foley catheter. He's clueless about dealing with one but it's not my first rodeo. I have a lot of catheter experience from the days I cared for my parents.

My first task for tomorrow will be to get him in to see a urologist. I'm a lot more knowledgeable about the heart than I am plumbing but apparently I'm going to learn about it. Not a subject I'm remotely interested in but I don't think I get a choice.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Brain Fried

While it was 55 degrees this morning I went for a crisp walk. While I'm mostly reading books these days I do still listen to books while walking. That's controversial but I still do it.  I use only one ear bud, telling myself I'll be able to hear anyone coming up behind me, not, but I kid myself that way.

Currently I'm listening to A Man Called Ove, a book I can highly recommend.

I've decided some Americans are brain fried. I see the subject of transgender bathrooms is in the news again. Since I'm having such a hard time understanding why so much media time is being devoted to this subject I decided perhaps there was something important about transgender people that I've missed throughout my 74 years. If something bad is about to get me I certainly want to know about it. How do you know you're in the bathroom with a transgender person? I've never seen one that I know of, but then I don't go around looking under the doors of bathroom stalls.

I decided I'd better check into this so I went to my first source of all knowledge Wikipedia, and looked up the term transgender. I discovered there was a lot I didn't know about the subject, and I was able to determine that I'm in no danger from using a bathroom with a transgender person.

I'm at a total loss to know why Senator Ted Cruz is so panicked that a transgender person might enter a bathroom his little girls are using. I suppose I would counsel him to stand at the bathroom door and check the genitalia of all persons entering and see where that gets him.

Tomorrow I will be calling the cardiologist's nurse to report on Bob. Not sure exactly how that's going to go but I have to give it a try.

He doesn't share my idea of how you weigh when you're dealing with fluid retention. He prefers to weight on at least two sets of scales so I've eliminated that problem by hiding our second set.

One time he will weigh wearing shoes, jeans, billfold, keys, and belt.

Next time may be underwear only.

Sometimes it's socks jeans, billfold, keys, and belt.

Other times it's socks and jeans.

Accuracy is not a word in his vocabulary.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Life Goes On

Daughter has been in Vancouver this week attending a conference and sent some pictures from Butchart Gardens.

Around here it has been hot, triple digit hot. Only three days of it but that's three days more than I wanted.  I've resorted to using the a/c which I don't use all that often because Bob never gets hot. Never the less, I melt down in a hurry so I told him to put on a jacket I had to have some cool air.

He's lost about five pounds since he's been on the diuretic. He can't seem to remember to weigh the same way every time, either with shoes, belt, billfold and keys, or without, but be consistent.

I'm pretty sure he's continuing to lose weight but don't know exactly how much. Perhaps I'll be able to tell more in a few days. I see no improvement. He's moving very slow and is not very alert.

He eats very little. I was reading about food supplement drinks as a possible treat sometime during the day other than mealtimes. It seems you need to be careful about that if the person is taking blood thinners as they don't always mix well. I'll wait to talk to the cardiologist about that when we see him in September.

It's been a very long time since I've read a book. I listen to a lot of audible books but had almost quit reading. For some reason I've suddenly switched and am reading now and not listening to books. Our daughter says she does both and perhaps I will also but for now I'm only reading. 

I have a few books I'll read in paper but some I'll download on Kindle. I have an iPhone Plus and have found I enjoy reading on it. The extra size is very nice for reading. I always have my phone with me so I can sneak in a few pages here and there and I especially enjoy it for reading in bed.

I hope you're having a good week-end.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Keeping On Keeping On

I'd about decided we were going to skip summer this year in our corner of Oregon but it found us. Beginning tomorrow we are supposed to have three days of triple digit weather. In the winter people lay in groceries before a winter storm, I lay in groceries before a heat spell, then I turn on the a/c and hunker down.

I took Bob in for an eye exam and he did have significant changes in his prescription. Today I took his newest set of frames in for his new lens. The man said the frames didn't look like they'd been worn much. I told him frames don't get a lot of wear and tear when you wear your glasses in your pocket rather than on your face.

Bob wanted me to call the cardiologist because he thought his lack of air problem was heart related rather than COPD related. I called and had the nurse talk to him. She called back after talking to the doctor and said he wanted him to have a blood test and chest x-Ray. It was news to me you could tell oxygen levels with a blood test but we took off to do as we were told. He also started him on potassium and a diuretic.  I didn't expect to hear anything more.

This morning the nurse called to say they could see he was retaining fluid. I'm to keep a log of his weight and call them in a week. He wants another blood test in two weeks. He's hoping to hold off making a decision about a change in treatment until Bob sees him in September.

His yearly tests are already scheduled before seeing the cardiologist in September. He wants to look over all his reports and will decide at that time how we go forward.

Bob's been at this heart thing since the mid 90s. After a while heart disease becomes like a member of the family. It seems to have a life of its own and ages along with the rest of the family. We'd known for years that at some point in time he would likely need a pacemaker. That happened last year. We've always known there may come a time he'll need to start wearing oxygen.

Is this the time he starts wearing oxygen? I rather doubt it. I suspect he is at the time he'll need to stay on a diuretic. I think that usually comes before they order oxygen but I don't know. I guess we'll find out in September.

Bob decided to bake pre made cookies and it did not go well. He forgot to use a potholder when he went took the pan out of the oven. Cookie crumbs were all over the kitchen.

Monday, August 15, 2016

He's Too Fast or I'm Too Slow

You'd think as long as Bob and I have been married we would have worked out all the marriage wrinkles, not. I hear people remark about a couple "they can finish each other's thoughts," not us. I've also heard a lot over the years about communication being the secret to a good marriage. I can tell you we've totally failed in the area of communication.

After 54 years you would think Bob would know how I like my coffee. He's a real sweetheart for trying but again, we've failed to communicate. Every morning I have a cup of coffee and a glass of ice water waiting by my chair when I come out of the bedroom. You can't ask for anything more dear than that can you? Well, yes you can, the coffee is always cold.

I decided I'd make another run at this communication thing. I suggested he was making my coffee too soon but he said I was spending too much time in the bathroom. So much for communication.
I'm totally hooked on Donald Trump's Twitters, constantly checking to see if he's topped himself is fun. I'm enjoying it but I felt like I needed an interest I could sink my teeth into and I certainly don't want it to be him.

Reading everything from A-Z, as I'm prone to do, it finally began to dawn on me the country is in for another big transition as in, the New Deal in the 1930s, the Great Society in the 1960s, and the Reagan Revolution in the 1980s. We're overdue for one.

How exciting. Where will this take us? Which party will lead? What will happen to the two existing parties? Will we see new parties emerge? It's a lot of fun to think about.