Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Short Wednesday note

We finally say goodby to the hospital (cross all your extremities it stays that way) and head back amongst the OAP, the old folks.

Dad is back in his room at the SNF (remember that it's changed from the old one - even I don't know what it is - it's a private room just up the hall) and he seems to be well. I'm on my way up there as soon as I hit the 'send' button.

He also finally has his own cell back if you need to give him a buzz. Don't forget that he still tires easily. I know it's a relief to get to talk with him again (boy, do I!) but keep it kinda short and ... light hearted. He's still recovering physically and mentally, remember.

More later.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 7:14 am   1 comments

Monday, December 26, 2005

Bah humbug, part two

So here we are. The holiday is over, the stores are back open, some folks even have to be to work this morning.

Families emerge from the crumbs and the wrapping paper scraps ... to what this week? Relax and spend time together? Watch a few of those vids somebody got as gifts? Play with the new toys?

Nope.

Some people have to pack themselves into their cars for a long trip back to their homes, out on that dangerous motorway with the rest of the madding crowd, some of whom might still have a bit of christmas cheer upping their blood-alcohol level.

Many have the daunting job of retaking their homes: throwing away wrapping paper, washing dishes, laundering guest linens, storing the special holiday dishes, getting that wine stain out of the white rug in the foyer.

A lot of folks awoke this morning to find Mother gone. Had she just had all of her in-laws she could stand? Could she not bear to load the dishwasher one more time? No. She's shopping. Shopping because she hasn't quite spent five times as much as she planned on spending for christmas and there are sales. Sales! How thrifty, Blue! She can go out and buy loads of things she doesn't need or want but they'll be cheap! Really dirt cheap!
She's buying gifts for next christmas that she'll put in a closet and forget she has! She'll get bargain giftwrap and decorations that she'll decide is entirely unsuitable next year! Plus the dozens of items that she'll buy just because they're on sale.

-----

Today is Boxing Day. If you were as devoted an Anglophile as I am you'd recognize this, (one of my favourite), days.

The notion originated in Britain. It was customary to give gifts to family and friends on christmas and then charitable gifts to those less fortunate than yourself the day after. It became traditional in the Victorian era to give gifts to your servants on this day.

I suspect that the whole thing began as a thrifty hand-me-down sort of deal way back when in feudal villages. The local lord and lady made a huge meal for christmas, then the next day shared the leftovers of the food with the villagers . Later, in the 1800s, you got a new coat for christmas, the next day you give your maid your old one.

No matter how it got it's start, I love the idea. Everyone should celebrate Boxing Day.

I don't know about you, but my children just received an obscene amount of toys. Add these to the stuff that literally fills my house and it's enough to make you gag (or trip and crack your head open if you're not careful). So today, I'm gathering up roughly half of what they own: toys, clothes, etc and bagging it up to donate it to the thrift stores.

The babies all help with this (well, the Incredible Bulk just watches and drools helpfully), and they get to choose what stays. Mine and EGH's stuff is not immune. I go through my clothes, especially. If I haven't worn it in a year - I don't care how much I love it - it goes. I divide it up amongst two or three thrift stores (in Newberry and Columbia) and any big stuff or bags of like items I'll Freecycle.

Give it a try. Your house will be cleaner. Your kids will learn something important.

And you'll have more room for all that stuff you need to buy on sale this week!

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 6:39 am   0 comments

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Bah humbug, part one

Dad is doing OK. He's back up at eleven reynolds and on antibiotics for his bladder infection. His temp spiked over 104.

Man, that really scares me. He'll be there until Monday midday we figure.

In the meantime he's pretty content. Kimberly's dad, Mr B, and her sister, A, were there today. A more amiable and laid back family I've never met. Seriously. These guys are so great it's creepy.

I also got to 're-meet' a longtime buddy of Dad's: BT (the last time he saw me I was Bitty Girl's age) and it was a delight to get to talk with him.

Unfortunately i was my regular strung-out, tired self. I've been driving that road so long that I can traverse long stretches without even knowing it. No lie. I'll find myself in Rock Hill, getting off on 485 with no memory of having gotten there. Wheeee.

I did have a touch of excitement today. I was on the road to Oak Summit and the bloke in front of the bloke in front of me had to turn. He turned and the guy behind him put on his brakes and i did the same. A millisecond later I heard the scream of tyres on pavement and looked in my rearview mirror to see a red SUV skidding up to my back bumper. At the last second he yanked it to the right and slid off the road. He had come *this* close to rear-ending me.

Pay attention folks. I do NOT want to end up at Wake Forest Baptist next to my dad!

----

And now it's time for Blue's Crabby Vent Of The Day:

I got back to Newberry about 7pm to find the Wal Mart closed. The Wal Mart. This American institution is supposed to be open 24 hours a day. It says so on the door. I was not a happy camper. I'm out of my meds (I have a seizure disorder and must take 500mg of Dilantin a day) and Evil Genius Husband is low on his Insulin. Too bad! We're closed! It's a holiday that not everyone celebrates, but sod 'em! Closed!

No offense to anyone but i find it ridiculous that the entire world shuts down on certain days of the year and certain days of the week. I mean, really. We all have lives. Stuff happens and we forget things. What about the single dad who runs out of diapers for his baby son? What about the mom whose infant is teething and she needs tylenol? What about the family who forgot they were low on dogfood?

Suck it up! It's christmas and we're snug in our houses with everything we need. We celebrate this holiday and so you must put your life on hold. So sorry you have an emergency! Come back tomorrow!

I know that there are people who would be willing to work these days. This is a fact. I worked in a call center for 10 years and we were open 24/7 every day of the year. There was always someone who needed the hours who was willing to man the phones so that our customers could reach someone no matter what the time or day.

It could be done. But people have been indoctrinated with the idea that the day ends at 5pm and the week ends on Friday and on certain holidays the whole world grinds to a halt.

Bah, I say! Bah humbug.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 12:12 am   5 comments

Friday, December 23, 2005

All the old familiar places.

On thanksgiving day about 4 in the afternoon, I was getting ready to go over to my inlaws - a venture that I generally dreaded - and my cell phone rang. It was a North Carolina Highway Patrolman ringing me on my father's cell phone and asking me a series of strange questions while refusing to answer any of mine.

After a total of 3 brief convos with him and his commanding officer, and still no info, I drove off to my inlaws house convinced that my father must be dead. Car accident? Airplane crash? I had no idea. But my heart knew that if Kimberly hadn't rung me by then, that meant that she was probably unconscious in a hospital bed somewhere.

I spent the rest of that evening forcing myself to smile and to talk and later, when we got home, I finally found out the truth and the nightmare really started.

-----

Today, about 3 in the afternoon, I was getting ready to go over to my inlaws house for the beginning of the consumer orgy that is christmas there.

And my phone rang.

It was a nurse practitioner at the SNF where Dad is. He had spiked a fever (over 103), his blood pressure was down, and they were sending him back to Baptist. To the emergency room. For the millionth time since this all began, I wished fervently for a teleportation device.

I rang Evil Genius Husband's phone (which Dad has) and he picked up. I could tell immediately that he was in a bad way. He said he felt like hell and confirmed that they were sending him to the ER. I told him I was coming up right then, he asked me not to. I told EGH that I was going up right then and he suggested I wait until Dad got to the hospital and ring to find out what the hell was going on before running out of the house half-cocked. I agreed to do that.

We got to my inlaws. I smiled thinly and spoke little. After 1 hour I rang the SNF: Dad had gone to the ER. I rang the ER. Dad wasn't there. I rang the SNF back. He had left 45 minutes ago. I resisted the urge to slam my cell phone down and stomp it to bits.

20 minutes later I was ready to get the hell out of my inlaws house. I rang the ER. Dad was there. I asked for an update. The nurse said (and I quote): "Honey, he's only been here like 3 minutes!". I threw my cell phone at my van. Fortunately I missed and it landed on the neighbour's lawn.

A half hour later we had just placed our order at Maurice's Piggy Park in Irmo and I rang the ER. Again. I got a reasonably nice person. She said that she had requested a bed for dad and could I ring back in an hour? At least this was good news. If he was going into a bed then he wasn't too ill. My Bar-B-Que tasted great.

One hour later we were home and I rang the ER. I had this pithy convo with a nurse:

Blue: "Yes I'm calling for info on my dad"
Nurse: "I can't give that out on the phone. I can tell you he's here in the ER."
B: "Well, is he OK? Is he stable?"
N: "Ma'am you'll have to come up here and talk with the family ..."
B: "I am the family and I'm 4 1/2 hours away. Is he alright? Can you tell me that much?"
N: "I can't give any info over the phone. I can tell you he's in the ER."
B: "I just need to know if he's stable. I mean, should I wake up my kids and drive up there?"
N: "Well, ma'am I can't make that decision ..."
B: "...and neither can I without information on his condition!"
N: "Hold on, let me transfer you to his nurse."

I finally found out, just a half hour ago, that he had been taken back up to Reynolds tower. I rang up there and he hadn't arrived (I presume he was on an elevator somewhere or down some corridor in that labyrinth of a medical facility.) I was asked to ring back in an hour.

So there it is. I have no more information. I have no idea what's going on. I'm assuming that he's in not-too-bad shape since he's going back into a room, but I have no details.

I AM going up there first thing tomorrow after I've tried to get a bit of sleep. In the meantime I'll update here the instant I hear something.

----

EDIT: 6:30 am Saturday - Dad is in Reynolds tower, but I don't know his number. He apparently has a bladder infection, but I don't know if that's what caused the fever (got up to 104) or what. They'll keep him a few days. I'm hitting the road now to go up there and I'll have more info when I get back. Everyone stay safe today.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 8:18 pm   1 comments

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Comedy of errors

First off, I'd like to send out a huge thank you to the dynamic duo of WK and AK. They sussed out an alternate CTC store location so I wouldn't have my fragile psyche damaged attempting to traverse the Mall From Hell. (Or Hell Mall, if you prefer, which sounds like one of those cheesy horror films Evil Genius Husband adores so. Disclaimer: I have never actually been in this mall. I'm sure it's a perfectly lovely mall, but just the thought of a super-mega-giganto mall stuffed full of holiday shoppers in the throes of a collective consumer-gasm gives me the willies. So there. Hell Mall.)

Anyway, these two superheroes located a store just a few exits away that was just off the motorway. I was able to park, run in and exchange the phone in just a few minutes. Fabulous!

The telephone-for-Dad caper, alas, went south after that. Stay tuned.

So I arrived at the facility (I will be sending better directions out now that I have driven it) and it seemed nice. Pretty quiet, attractive in a superficial sort of way, but ... it was full of old people! I'm not jokin'! Old people! They were everywhere! It was creepy.

No seriously, turns out that this is an assisted living facility, a nursing home. Everyone I saw was quiet elderly, except Dad, who looked postitively fresh-faced by comparison.

He seemed to be in a fairly good mood. There were little things that irritated him: his clock on the wall didn't work (Mr B had given me a heads-up on this one so I brought him one), the telly remote didn't control the right telly (we hatched a plot to actually switch the televisions. If some of you blokes go up there, do that for him.), and the nurses were pretty damned slow in responding to his button (I mentioned this to the floor nurse and she looked at me as if I'd just said something in Klingon. Perhaps I'll try that next time: "Baktag, P'tahk!")

But all in all he seemed fairly content, considering.

Eager to help his stay a bit easier, I whipped out his shiny new cell phone. Ahhh, this will make life better, a bit of contact with the outside world ...

Wrong.

Seems the cell phone I've had all this time is NOT Dad's cell. It's Kimberly's. This explains how the highway patrol were using it but it wouldn't work for me. They had his. I have hers.

So now we have to wait for Mr B's next visit (fortunately he plans on being up there tomorrow) so he can bring Dad's cell. Dad can switch his sim card out of his into the new one and he'll be set.

Being used to failure, I had a couple of contingency plans ready and produced back-up #1: Evil Genius Husband's cell. So Dad does have a 'phone right now. Just shoot me an email and I'll give you the number. Don't be starteld if you don't get him and it goes to voice mail. You're just listening to the message of an Evil Genius (Oh and don't leave a voice mail ... Dad doesn't know the password to retrieve them).

Remember, he should have his own cell back tomorrow.

-----

I finally got to meet another dynamic duo: DR and MR, who are dear friends of Dad and have done an incredible job of visiting him constantly and bringing him wee things that he needs. D was laid back and affable (much like Evil Genius Husband) and M was no-nonsense and razer-sharp (much like ... eh ... well, I'm no-nonsense but a tad on the dull side). At any rate i was pleased to finally meet them and disappointed (as i was when ST and JT came) that i had to scatter off so soon. When this is all over, everyone will think me the most unsociable of persons. I swear that I'm not.

Ugh. OK, I gotta try to sleep some now. Qapla!

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 7:36 pm   0 comments

Go to sleep you little baby

Ugh.

Bad night. I didn't sleep well, had bad dreams.

Now I feel uneasy about driving today and about leaving my babies. I just have a bad feeling. Did I mention how much I loathe this time of year?

I'm hating this whole situation. I think sometimes that it's only vehemence that keeps me going.

----

OK, today I'm getting a phone (of some sort) for Dad to have in his room, and as well as visiting him, I plan to have a shufti at this facility. I've already heard some little things about it that bug me.

It sucks that we had no choice in this move. If Dad wanted to be close to the hospital, we had to go with this place. I'm v. v. glad he got in - it's difficult to find a bed for a male patient anywhere - so that he won't be making long ambulance trips back and forth to his final sugeries, but I wish I could have at least looked about the place.

Perhaps I'm being too picky. I mean it's not a hospital after all. These places are not staffed entirely by professionals and only have to meet minimal state requirements. I'm probably expecting too much.

I'll feel better if he comes down here where I can be there every single day.

----

I got my cards in the post for the staff at Baptist hospital. I wanted those guys to know how much I appreciate the good care they took of Dad. I wish I could have done more, but I hope that they at least enjoy the cards. I'll bet a lot of people just move on through and never think to say "thank you" to the staff.

I spoke with one of the nurses in the ICU a few days ago and she said: "Oh, I remember you. You were the one who was in here Thanksgiving night, singing to your father."

Singing?

I don't sing. I can't sing. What the heck? I have no memory of this.

The nurse was amused. Apparently, in the wee hours of the morning that Friday after the accident, I was standing by Dad's bed, quietly singing the lullabyes to him that I sing to my children when they're upset. I would never have believed the nurse except she said the words to the song back to me.

Was this a reaction to stress and lack of sleep? Or had I gone temporarily insane? ( ... am I still insane? Does it wear off?) That whole first two days has a surreal feel to it in my memory.

The last three weeks does, actually.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 5:48 am   0 comments

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Where's Jerre game

Finally!

Dad has been discharged from the hospital and admitted to a Skilled Nursing Facility in Winston-Salem. It's called Oak Summit and is apparently on the other side of town from the hospital.

I have the address if you'd like to send Dad anything, the directions if you're as unfamiliar with the area as I am, and his room number if you'd like to email me.

I'm working on getting him a phone in his room - the facility doesn't have them, which I find bizarre. My options are: get Bell Sux to run a landline in and take him a set or get him his cell. Obviously the latter is the better option but his cell is not working (another mystery ... it was working after the wreck, the highway patrol used it). I can get him a new one, but must go to a CTC store and they're all around Concord. I could use Kimberly's cell, but her family has the phone and it would need Dad's sim card which is in the phone *I* have.

*whew!*

Logistics are a bugger.

My gameplan is this: I'm going to take him a landline set as a back-up (I have, like, a dozen phones ... I'm a former telephone tech, remember? As a matter of fact, if I could sneak into their wire room, I could just punch his room line down onto an open number on the block ... Bwahahahahahah! I guess they'd notice that after awhile though, wouldn't they? Bugger.)

Where was I? Oh, anyway, I am going up there tomorrow and I plan on seeking out a CTC store and getting Dad a new phone. He wants a specific kind and his current sim card must fit in it or he'll lose his numbers.

Apparently the closest location to where I fly by on my way up is a place called Concord Mills. The CTC lady was giving me directions and said to take the Concord Mills exit and I said: "So Concord Mills is a town?" and she laughed a bit frighteningly. Concord Mills is a mall. That has it's own exit off the motorway.

Now ... I don't do malls. I hate malls. I don't like mixing with my own species. I don't shop. I never buy retail. They don't call me the ThriftyChik for nothing.

Just contemplating going into a mall makes me break out into a cold sweat. And THIS time of year? NOW? When folks are at their rabid-consumeristic (is that a word?) worst? Agggghhh!

But needs must when the devil drives.

So, assuming I'm not trampled to death by hordes of holiday shoppers, run down in the parking lot, or discovered to be a tightwad ("OMG! I ... I-it's a tightwad. TIGHTWAD! MISER! Everybody, she's not spending! She doesn't even own a credit card! Consumer blasphemy! Get your pitchforks and torches! The monster must be destroyed!") Dad will have a telephone of some sort in his room tomorrow.

----

Heads up: Dad's last operation (hopefully) will be Jan 4. After that, he'll be moving southward (we're not sure where ... it's looking like the Columbia area), so if you're planning a visit after the first, double check to find out where he is.

In the meantime, visit him if you can. He needs some human contact right now to keep his mind off the neverending loop of thinking about the accident.

And if you happen to be visiting and see me slipping out of a room, small tool in hand, looking all stealthy, well, I was just ... uh ... looking for the loo. Right.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 6:10 am   2 comments

Monday, December 19, 2005

On the road again ...

OK, here's the deal. I'm just going to have to divide my blog into two parts: the Crisis With Dad part (which sounds like a mid-season replacement sitcom) and the Blue-is-having-a-nervous-breakdown-and-needs-to-whine part.

I'll do Dad's update first so you don't have to read through my crap. Now how's that for service?

----

Here's where we stand on the change of venue: I was able to reach somebody Friday about this. Both the lady who handles the discharges and her assistant were out Friday. The woman to whom I spoke tried to get hold of the admission ladies at the various facilities but they were not in. So we've been dead in the water.

Hopefully she can scare up some info today on what's available and I'll post it immediately. PLEASE NOTE: if you plan on visiting Dad today (Monday) or any day this week, please ring the hospital or email or ring me to see if he's still there! He may very well be moved today or tomorrow.

Recap of the gameplan: Ideally, Dad will stay in the SNF up there in W-S until the last op on his leg (the 28th), then come down here to a facility. Of the three on the list, two are in Newberry, one is in Irmo.

All of this depends on the availability of beds in the facilities, whether they'll accept his insurance, whether they're even set up to take someone who requires as much care as he does (which raises the question: why is he being released from the hospital in this condition?). If these three fall through, we'll cast our net wider, toward Columbia.

Please be patient. I know everyone is anxious to know where he's going to be, but we can't even begin to make calls until 9am this morning, and then we have to do the whole admission dance. I'll post the instant I know. I promise.

----

Dad got a load of long-distance visitors over the weekend. I missed my aunt, she came on Saturday, and KK who went up Friday, but I got to see S and his wife J. J is part of my wouldn't-have-been-able-to-do-it-without-them support team (along with KK) and I gotta say that she's even cooler in person than she is over the phone! I'm really really sorry I missed KK.

I'm glad all of you got to come. The local gang have been doing a stunning job of being there as often as possible and it's cool that Dad got to see some of you farther-away faces as well.

----

Well, now that I'm here at the end, I don't have the energy to whine. I don't know whether that's good or bad.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 6:27 am   0 comments

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Whisky Tango ... a little dab'll do ya

Do you mind If I just do a regular Thriftymom blog entry?

I just feel like rambling/venting. So if you're here for an update on Dad: Run! Run while you can! Save yourself!

----

So, anyway, Evil Genius Husband had a late meeting (last day of the semester) and so the babies and I went out yesterday. We needed to run errands and pick up some chickens someone was giving us.

I've met a lot of interesting folks while wheeling and dealing over livestock: Suburbanites Gone Wrong, country folks, small town folks, Bewildered Northerners and the occasional Piece of Work.

Well yesterday's person was the latter: a real piece of work.

I finally found his house (People Who Give Bad Directions: a blog entry for another day), and fairly lept out with my crates. I was trying to proceed with some alacrity since the babies were all in the van.

The man who owned the chickens (4 purebred miniature Kelso Gamecocks, in case you're interested), began his ramble before I even reached him: "...is good chickens, really ace, they could be showed in that there fair down in c'lumbya, got 'em fum Alabama, ya know, they's good chickens, cost a lot, really ace, they ..."

I'm used to this. Many of the guys I meet, who fool with livestock on a small scale, are older men. They all have this same monologue. I always listen carefully and respond every now and then because A) I might learn something and B) I was raised to be polite (I know many of you who have just recently met me are thinking; "So what happened with that?"). So anyway, he's mumbling on and there bursts out of the house a boy of seven. He has my least favourite of all little-boy haircuts: buzzed with a rat-tail down the back. Why don't they just put them in a tee-shirt with a big WT on the front?

This child is loud, he's rude, and he's obnoxious. He never introduced himself, asked me a thousand intrusive questions, made ignorant comments (including the gem about my facial piercing and how "blacks get them things") and kept messing with my van. When he did this last I asked his grandfather (who was off muttering somewhere) to please ask his grandson not to mess with my van. His reply was:"He's a mean one, he likes to get into stuff."

Oh, great. Another version of the "boys will be boys" and "they're just being kids" cop-outs. These drive me insane. My children are just as rambunctious as any kids, but in public they are polite and quiet. This isn't hard to accomplish. It's called Mothering and it involves a bit of attentiveness, accountability, and discipline. I can't abide it when someone says to me: "that woman's children are all so good. She is blessed!"

No. She's not blessed. She's doing her job well. Kids aren't born with respect or manners. Their mothers (and/or fathers, of course) instill these qualitites. If your child is beastly it is YOUR fault.

So I say, clearly, "I am going to ask your grandson to not mess with my van". He grunted what I interpreted as a 'suit yourself' and added some lovely sentiments on his grandson's school being "fulla blacks". Gosh. Guess we know where rat-tail got his egregious prejudices, eh?

But before I could go attend rat-tail the man and I got into a standoff about the chickens and the crates. There were 4 small roosters and I had brought two standard peanut crates. I could have put all of them in one. He wanted one chicken per crate. Math was not his strong suit. Neither was tact.

He sez: "Lady, these'r games, they don't like each other."

Blue to self: "Well, duh, sir. I'm not an idiot. They'll be crowded into a dark crate in a dark van for the 4 and-a-half-minute drive home. I doubt seriously there will be a problem."

Blue to man: "We're going to tie their feet."

Man: "I got some bags ..."

Blue to self: "Ahhh, finally a good idea. Drop 'em into those woven feed bags. This is a good emergency fix for moving chickens." (Also good for transporting snakes ... if you ever find yourself needing to.)

While I'm musing, the man returns from house carrying ... two plastic trash bags. As I'm standing there with my mouth hanging open, he tosses the 3rd chicken in and ties the top closed. I had a Forrest Gump Moment. (I'm not a smart man, but ...)

I announced that we could just tie their feet.

So while we're getting the 3rd chicken secured, I hear the distinct heavy click of my side van door unlatching. All of my children are strapped in their carseats so that means only one thing: rat-tail Whisky Tango boy.

I quickly excused myself from grandpa ("He's a mean 'un, that boy, he goes to that school fulla blacks ...") and come around the van like a ship under full sail. Sure enough, van door is wide open and rat-tail is rummaging though one of my grocery bags.

Now, I'm a person who believes that a parent should discipline her own child. I don't think anyone has a right to discipline anyone else's child in most cases. An exception would be if you saw a child hurting a smaller child and Mom was not immediately available, for example.

Unfortunately, I wasn't going to get any help here and I still had to load these chickens. "Please don't do that." I said. He just grinned and continued rooting through my bags. My small children were all sitting there staring at him (rather like he was a wild animal loose in their vehicle. Not too big of a stretch, there.) What if he thought it was cute to, oh, say, put a blanket over my 6 month old's face while I was getting a crate? "Sweetie, it's impolite to mess with other people's stuff" wasn't going to work here.

Fortunately I speak White Trash.

I put my hand on the bag that he had, leaned in till I was inches from his face, and quietly said: "If you don't quit messing with my stuff, boy, I'm gonna wear your butt out."

He reluctantly vacated my van and amused himself by beating a stick against a cagefull of terrified little hens. This bit of nastiness kept him occupied long enough for me to load my chickens and escape.

And, damn, I never found out what school that kid went to. I want to make sure mine never attended. It's fulla white trash.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 5:57 am   2 comments

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Holy mad scramble, batman!

Well, I went up yesterday. What lovely weather for a drive ...

My Dad tried to stop me ("Why don't you just not come Thursday"), my Mum tried to stop me ("They said on the radio that all the roads in Charlotte were closed."), even the nurse up in Reynolds tower at Baptist tried to stop me: ("You're coming up here? Half of our employees didn't make it in today"). None of them had dads at the hospital, I guess.

Anyway, not counting my just wanting to see Dad, I had to go up there. We really had to talk over some stuff.

I had contacted Dad's lawyer slash friend - Lawyer C - who has rallied a swarm of litigators who will, in turn, be decending on Dad's location today in a pin-striped cloud.

I really like this guy and I'm glad we were able to get a person Dad trusts and likes - no offense to the other lawyers, they were fab - but you know how that is: you're more comfortable with people you know.

----

So what else did we need to talk about yesterday? Oh yeah. I got a call from M, the social worker at the hospital on Tuesday. Dad's being discharged.

Like today.

I'm sorry ... *cleans out ears* ... EXCUSE me?!

Yep. They say that Dad is 'medically ready' to leave. Please bear in mind that he still has a bi-lateral flail chest, broken sternum, broken clavical, broken thumb, cracked pelvis (both sides), plus the whole smashed-leg-with-gruesome-external-stabiliser thing goin' on. He is non-weight-bearing on all four limbs and requires extensive on-going physical therapy.

Because of all this he must be either A) put in a Skilled Nursing Facility, or B) have 24 hour in-home care, a hospital bed, reclining wheelchair, bedside toilet, tilt board,etc.

I heard about all this for the first time Wednesday, mid-day. I was told that he would be discharged Thursday. To say that I was in a panic the rest of the day on Wednesday would be an understatement of shocking proportions.

-----

So I spent all day looking up Skilled Nursing Facilities here closeby my house, and calling the 24 hour in-home care places. I also got a list of places that rented medical equipment since I hadn't spoken with Dad about all this and didn't know which he preferred - in home or facility.

In the meantime, M, looked up the same info for the Charlotte area (I was guessing about where he'd want to go. Daddy has said that he will not be returning to his house.), and armed with this info, I went up to see Dad yesterday.

By the way, he seems to be doing fairly well. He's frustrated at being alert but still so physically frail. He can't sit upright(hurts too much), which is pretty bad for him and physical therapy is always just horrible. It's like being tortured ... but for a good cause.

So he's flat on his back, pretty much, but completely lucid. I imagine he spends way more time than he'd like thinking. He watches a bit of telly and I've taken him some reading material, but both are hard to do all day, especially if you can't sit up.

So Dad's decided he wants to enter a Skilled Nursing Facility here in my area. Since he has one more operation on his leg on the 28th, we're hoping that they can take him in their facility up there in W-S until then. Out thinking is that, since he will have to be transported by ambulance, it would be better to only make that trip once.

So into a SNF until he's stronger then, perhaps, here in my house for a bit until he decides where he wants to go from there.

----

Dad has had a life-changing event. It's important that he do whatever it takes to get better, physically and emotionally. Things won't just go back to being the way they were and we shouldn't expect them to or tell him that they will. We all want him to stay close, to go back to some of the old stuff, but if he decides to - I dunno - move to Alaska and hike over the tundra for a year that should be his business. We shouldn't try to make him feel guilty for not doing what we want him to do.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 9:34 pm   1 comments

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What a day

I eagerly await the day when I can sit down at my computer and blithely type out: "had a wonderful day, Dad feeling much better and outlook is positive!"

Instead, every hurdle he clambers over just provides a stunning view to another obstacle.

Oh, I have no doubt that he's recovering, but parts of it are progressing maddeningly slowly. The latest thing is, now that he is lucid, he is spending all day thinking. Lying in his bed, unable to get up, staring at the off-white acoustically tiled ceiling and thinking. Thinking about Kimberly, about the accident, about his classes, about his bills, about his animals at home without him.

His conversation is still dampened by drugs, but I can tell you he's frustrated, grieving, and just a tad angry. (Those last four words were sar-chasm. That's really really big sarcasm, folks)

He's expressed a desire for his own choice of lawyer (not a problem) and that both I and Mr B be given Power of Attorney. I don't agree with this last bit. It's not a two-man job. I think Mr B would do just fine without my meddling. Too many cooks spoil the soup, I say.

He wants his wife's remains cremated. I pointed out that, even though that's my and his preferences, she probably would want to be buried. He said he just couldn't. I understand completely. Personally, I think that the idea of taking a body, pumping it full of chemicals, liberally spreading it with make-up (to look "natural"), putting it in a really expensive box, then burying the whole lot is the most grotesque rite man has ever come up with. But that's just me.

Fortunately Mr B wants whatever Dad wants for Kimberly and cleverly did have her embalmed so that Dad could have time to recover and make this decision. Needs must when the devil drives. Mr B has done an amazing job of thinking things out. I'd have been a twittering wreck in his place.

Speaking of twittering. Between my being so tired and strung out and my not having gotten to speak with my Dad in so long I spent the visit chattering away like an insane canary on speed. Dad's probably wondering about my mental state right now. Another good reason to give Mr B sole Power of attorney. I'd probably screw it up anyway.

Dad is facing a much harder recovery than the physical part could ever be: the psychological part.

And once again, there's nothing I can do. He has to get through this on his own. All I can do (all of us can do) is be there for him. I'd love to be able to tell him not to worry about the bills, the paycheck deposits, and temporarily suspending unneeded services, but, well, that didn't work out so great.

But things will get better and we have to start thinking of the next step: when will he get out of hospital? Where will he stay? He's said that he doesn't want to go back to that house (something else that I understand completely) and he'll need quite a bit of care at first, too.

I've told him that he can, of course, stay with us. I have a big house, a farm, two empty dog pens, plus I'm here 24/7 so he wouldn't be alone. Then again, he'd have to learn how to stay in a house with Very Small People all over. Well, perhaps that would help him. It'd only be temporary, anyway.

-----

So, go visit him. Take him Bruegger's poppyseed bagels. Listen to him if he wants to talk. Don't press him if he doesn't. If he says something you don't agree with ("I'm gonna move to Romania and become a monk!") don't tell him that he needs to try to return to his old life just as if nothing happened. Just nod and ask him to think about it some more.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 10:25 pm   5 comments

Winds of change

Today should be interesting.

On a personal note, I continue to not sleep well. I woke up this morning in the wee hours and couldn't go back to sleep so if I seem more befuddled (is that even possible?) just run with it.

Mother had to work today (although she'll be here Thursday) and so Evil Genius Husband is taking a half day so that he can run home and I can hit the road. If I make haste, I should be back by 11 tonight.

According to Mr B, Dad is much more alert, less confused, and getting more and more PO'd about the whole situation: the accident, the hospital, the future. We should have some watershed moments today. I have a feeling that a few things will be resolved and in ways folks might not expect.

----

Update: Dad has been moved to his own room (Yay!) and is continuing to do well. It's on the same floor as the acute care (11D) and the visiting hours are from 8am to 8pm (yay, again!).

I'll give you a more detailed update when I get back tonight.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 5:54 am   0 comments

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Briefly

So. Bloody. Tired.

Well, I normally leave here at 7am and return about 8pm. That's 9 hours on the road, 3 hours at the hospital, and 1 hour in petrol stations, in parking garages, in traffic, in drive-throughs ('cause my arse needs to be a bit wider *rolls eyes*).

We left at 7 and returned ... just now, actually, at 9:30. My Mum just tore out the door to her 1 1/2 hour drive home and she has to get up at 5am to go to work.

*whew*

We got the Explorer, we didn't retreive any important papers, we did get Dad some requested stuff from the house (munchies and magazines and medicine).

----

(Disclaimer: this post my be a bit muddled. I'm Zombie-girl nowadays but I want to update everyone)

Dad is struggling through a whole new set of difficulties. He's confused, his brain is scrambled, and he feels a bit out-of-control.

It's very easy for folks to brush this phase off. A lot of people are saying brightly: "Well, he's on the mend now!" and "He's over the hard part!" and "This is nothing! He'll get over this quickly!"
No offense to the optimists, but, well ... that's easy for you to say. Dad is not only having to continue to recover physically, but he's now wrestling with a memory riddled with gaps - and most disturbing for him: stuff that's just not true.

This is normal, but he's having a hard time dealing with it. This part is NOT easy. He's like that guy in the Stephen King novel, the writer who thought he was being stalked by the guy when it turned out to be HIMSELF. (Not that it's that sinister, but you get my meaning)

He remembers the accident, he remembers about Kimberly. But he also thinks that he was in a coma ("for seventeen days") and swears that someone told him that he broke both arms and both legs. He thinks that he's been in different hospitals and that he's had multiple surgeries (on all limbs). He knows who I am and knew Evil Genius Husband, but says that he thought we were both working at the hospital "last week".

I reassured him that, yes, it sucked and, yes, this was right but that was just a false memory and that all of it was due to the drugs. I told him that tomorrow would be clearer and the next day clearer still, but he still asked all the questions again.

I'm so glad that he's getting better and I'm so glad that he's getting stuff worked out in his head but I'm sorry that he feels helpless and confused. It's maddening to me. I want a magic wand to wave to give him clarity. It's certainly clear that he feels very vulnerable right now. He's also a bit cross with the situation (understandably).

Well, I answered all of his questions frankly, dragged Dr Looks-Like-He's-Sixteen over to address Dad's concerns (he wants the drugs to relieve the pain but not make him confused. That's not gonna happen. They're narcotics.), and had to run.

----

Oh, I wanted to give props to the nurse in the acute care. I liked all of the nurses in the ICU (save that last one who was snotty to me and spent the entire time I was there sitting on her broad backside in the nurses station) but this chick is exceptional. Not only did she allow me in despite it not being visiting hours, but she was sweet, efficient, and attentive. You go grll!

----

And this grll is going to bed. Ring me tomorrow, anyone who needs a more specific update.

*Zzzzzzzzzz*

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 9:23 pm   1 comments

Gameplan for Sunday

Today we go get the Explorer. Mum has graciously offered to come over yet again and this time stay all day so that we can get this car. The only other option (thank you and sod you, U-Haul) was for one of Dad's friends to drive the gazillion miles from her home to mine. I won't allow it. Number 1, it's a pain in the arse, and number 2, I'd worry myself to death for her especially with it icy all over.

Besides, it's my right to inconvenience Evil Genius Husband. It's in the wedding vows somewhere.

While I'm there I plan on making a sweep of the house and collecting any and all papers that pertain to bills (and any legal papers that I can find, although I think they're locked in the gun safe - any of you old-school friends know the combo? I used to know the combination of the big safe but it went the way of the alarum code - no room in the pea that is my brain.)

I want to be sure that nothing falls through the cracks and that everything is taken care of. My tiny desk at home already looks like Dad's desk at work: stacks of papers everywhere. An organized desk is the sign of a cluttered mind? OK. That fits.

----

We tackled the hurdle (or rather Kimberly's father did) of telling Dad about his wife. Apparently - as many of us already suspected/hoped - he knew at least on some level. He had volunteered the info to a doctor earlier and apparently just came out and talked about it to Mr B.

He's still v. confused, though, so we may have to have this conversation a few times with him, but we are really relieved (as everyone is) that he's getting over this particular bump. If you plan on visiting with him and he asks questions, just tell him the truth as far as it makes you comfortable. I just ask that you don't lie to him (ie: "Kimberly's fine").

Daddy, still off the ventilator (that I know of), has been moved to Acute Care. I'm v. v. pleased with this and soooooooo excited to see him today. The only problem (and there has to be at least one) is that the visiting hours are something to 10 and 2 to something. Well hell. I'm there from 11 to 2.

Ya know what one of my peeves is? When you say to someone(lets say an appointment-maker-person): "I can't be there because (fill in reason)" and he/she says: "Well, you just need to work something out."

I want to reach through the phone and pinch her head off.

Uhm, lady, do you not think that if I COULD work something out I WOULD? Helloooo. Let's take folks who want to schedule appointments for me at 8 am. I have four small children. They get up at 6:30, eat breakfast at 7. Not only does it take - minimum - 20 or 30 minutes to get them all dressed, out the door, and in their carseats, but I live 1 hour away from Columbia (where all our doctors are). Do the math.

Same thing with 11 am appointments. My kids nap at 11 sharp. Now, YOU may let YOUR kids decide when and if they nap, but I do not. We have family down-time from 11 to 2, no exceptions. Because of this my babies are all well-rested. Now imagine these four small children, sans naps, sitting in a waiting room (and if it's one of my doctors: for over an hour) with you. Chilling, isn't it? I don't wanna inflict tired babies on anyone.

So, I'm not being obstinate or lazy when I say I can't make it. I'm being serious.

So, I'm going to need to do something about these visiting hours. I just cannot be there at any other times. I'm really worried about this. I certainly don't want to inconvenience the nurses but I don't know what else to do. One chirpy little nurse - after my telling her the whole spiel: live in a galaxy far far away, babysitter has 1 1/2 hour drive home, etc - she goes: "Well can you come during our evening hours?"

...? Have I been speaking Klingon again? Is my universal translator broken?

*sigh*

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 5:52 am   0 comments

Friday, December 09, 2005

Musings

I was pondering the concept of the hospital. It's an interesting thing. It's like a city, almost self sufficient, with places to park, places to sleep (patients in beds and visitors in chairs in various waiting rooms), places to eat, televisions, newspapers, toilets, trashcans, sinks, showers even. People are born there, people die there.

It would be possible to actually live in a hospital. That would make an interesting book idea in the same vein as that film with Tom Hanks about the bloke who lived in the airport. It might even be possible to live in one undetected for awhile. You could move from waiting room to waiting room, even visit patients. I'm sure there are folks there who have no one to visit them and that would actually be nice if they had someone drop in. Even a nutjob who lived in a hospital? OK, maybe not.

I've discovered that a lot of people in that area have had experience with Wake Forrest Baptist Medical Centre. Kimberly's dad had treatments there, Lawyer P spent time there as well, and I've spoken to several people who have had loved ones in that hospital's ICUs.

It's also home of Brenner Children's Hospital.

Children's hospital.

You know, that should be a phrase unknown in our language. If there was any planning to the universe that would be something that just did not exist: children would never have to be in hospital.

Going in yesterday I parked in an unfamiliar place (owing to how late I had arrived), right at the top of the parking garage. When I paused by the door - I was on the windswept roof, by the helipad where Dad was brought in, and it was freezing - to answer my phone, I saw a family come out the patient pick-up door. It was a father carrying his child, a little girl the same build and size as my Bitty Girl (about two years old). She had her head down and was lying limply against his shoulder. The biting wind blew her blanket off and I saw that she had on a tiny hospital gown over her pajama bottoms and the tell-tale bandage on the back of her hand where an IV had been removed.

My heart just broke.

I chokingly said goodby to my caller and fled into the building.

What a horrible thing. I just can't imagine. No one should ever have to see their child in hospital, no child should have to go through that. Ever since Dad had his accident, I have been consumed with fear that something will happen to my children. I know that it makes no sense and I also know that I worried constantly about this before Dad's accident, but I'm obsessed now. I lie awake at night and fret even though I know they're all downstairs safely asleep. I'm positively terrified to put them in the van today to go to the doctor.

I suppose this is all normal but I feel paranoid, like the universe is out to collect a debt and my family hasn't paid everything that's due.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 7:18 am   2 comments

The biggest hurdle

Well, apparently no good day goes unruined right now.

Right after I put up yesterday's post I got a call from Dad's friend T.

T was visiting Dad yesterday and had rung me prior to going in. Hhad found out how lucid Dad was and - as we all are - was v. concerned about Dad asking him questions about Kimberly. I told him that we (the family) had talked about it and we felt like one of us should tell Dad BUT since I will not have people lie to daddy I told T this: Try to avoid the subject, if he asks "where is Kimberly?" then tell him you don't know (the truth) but if he says: "Is my wife dead?" or "Is Kimberly OK?" or similar then, again, just tell him the truth ("yes" and "no").

Well, apparently their whole visit was punctuated by Dad asking uncomfortable questions. T said that he asked for his bookbag and cellphone so that he could call Kimberly (he had asked me just 3 hours before if I had his cell phone, but then seemed satisfied when I said I had it and didn't say any more about it).

The night shift nurse said that Dad knew he had been in an accident and that Kimberly was driving, that it was the Corvette (thus his question to me about where it was), and that someone had hit them. She said that he was "asking constantly" for a cellphone to call his wife or for someone to call her.

Why didn't he ask me all these questions? I was THERE. I was prepared to calmly answer anything and give him the whole story. I've been steeling myself for this moment since Thanksgiving!

I'm so sorry that T had to be put on the spot and I'm more frustrated than you can imagine that Dad still doesn't know, that he's asking questions and not getting answers. It makes me want to scream and cry that I can't be up there right now. (A feeling that was NOT helped by the nurses saying "someone really needs to come up here and tell him." in a dissapproving tone. Easy for you to say, honey, you don't live 4 and a f*$%ing half hours away and have a family to take care of.)

Aaaaaghhh!

Anyway, Kimberly's Dad will be going up there tomorrow and there's no better person to tell him although it hurts my heart that he'll have to be up there by himself.

Y'know it's kind of surreal. This is one of those "where were you when ..." events and I won't be there. It's my duty, my job to be there for Dad when he needs me. He's getting the worst news of his life and I'll be hundreds of miles away in an antiseptic-smelling waiting room listening to muzak and reminding my 2 year old to not hit the fishtank.

Yeah, I'm doing a great job.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 5:25 am   4 comments

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Regrouping - a better day

OK!

A friend of Dad and Kimberly's, Mr B, has been in contact with my aunt and has offered her the services of a lawyer. We (all) met with him today and learned quite a bit.

I have had mostly bad experiences with lawyers, I'll confess. I was rushed getting up there too, since, well, I'm so bloody far away. (But I found out that Evil Genius Husband's car will go 95 even with the valves clicking.) So all that, coupled with no sleep, made me just a tad wild-eyed going in.

(Note to self: Self, don't listen to Lewis Black CDs in the car going up to meet with your lawyer. I had to restrain myself bouncing in there like a prizefighter. I'm certain the lawyers have joined the group of folks who think that I'm on crack.)

Anyway, I liked Mr B, liked the lawyers: Lawyer P was very knowledgeable and sincere, Lawyer T was frank and pointed with his questions and opinions. I love a bold, honest person. I'm that type. No lies, no drama, no hidden agenda. You've got something to say? Just say it. I'll guarantee you that I'll do the same.

We went over all the stuff and they pointed out small things that I'd've never known plus gave good advice. We all agreed that attempting to get the Durable Power Of attorney is the way to go. They agreed with my wanting to wait one week (have I already said this? I feel like I'm repeating stuff.) and assess Dad at that point. Meanwhile I've been walking around with the P of A papers in my bag for a week. No, I'm not anal.

-----

So after a good meeting with the 'L' words, I scurried up to the hospital.

I walked in to discover A) the only unhelpful nurse I've seen so far (there's gotta be one!) and B) that my Dad had apparently spat out his breathing tube that morning. By the time they got the respiratory crew in there he was doing so well on his own that they left him. He's off the respirator. Keep your extremities crossed that it stays that way.

Hopefully this eliminates any more episodes of him thrashing about on the bed in pain and panic and my hanging onto his arm to keep him tearing out his IVs while the nurse tries to contact the respiratory team. I would like to never do that again for the rest of my life, please.

He was also fairly alert and, speaking of tearing stuff out, had just yanked out his feeding tube about 30 minutes before. So he's being generally very naughty.

We were able to speak. He knows some things but is still confused. He knew me, knew my name, knew I was his daughter (I quizzed him) but then asked me: "When did you start working here?" a few minutes later. He also asked me what other hospital I was working at, making me think that he thought he was speaking to my Mum (who's an operating room technician).

He never asked about Kimberly or the accident but I think he may know or have guessed or have an inkling. About halfway through the visit he suddenly said: "where's the Corvette now?" Now, I firmly believe in telling people the truth but the question shocked me so badly that I just stammered that I didn't know (which is technically true). He didn't ask any more of that type question.

He asked about the animals and seemed satisfied that K was caring for them, he mentioned that his buddy T had visited 'yesterday' (he actually was there Monday) and he asked about food - he wanted pizza and then suggested, with perfect clarity, that I get some Cheetos and "smuggle them up to him"

He definitely feels better.

He's still a bit befuddled, though. He asked about his oldest grandson but then said that he (my 3 1/2 year old son) had been up there this morning to visit him.

Is he lucid or is he foggy? A little from column A ... A little from column B. His memory and cognition are like swiss cheese right now. Some parts are solid, yummy cheese and some parts are just air.

Will he be able to be told about the accident soon? Dunno. I'm certainly dreading it and have been since it happened. We will see. I would rather that I, his sister, or Kimberly's father be the one to tell him. So if you read this blog and you visit him, please try to avoid the subject if you can. I'd like to give him a few more days to get his mind straight, ya know?

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 7:55 pm   4 comments

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

'roadblocks' defined

*bangs head against floor*

OK. I consulted with the paralegals at the hospital (v. helpful and enthusiastic ladies by the way) after ringing the woman who hears the petitions for guardianship, Ms H. (aside: does this mean she's a judge? I do know two things about her: she has NO people skills and, oddly, everyone up there seems to hold her in high regard.)

Well, Ms H, told me tersely that there was no way that I could be named guardian of the estate because their people would refuse to bond me because I live in a different state. This strikes me as really strange (and I said so), and she said that this was 'policy'. She said that guardianship would be awarded to a lawyer. AND that we have to pay him (it comes out of the estate) for doing it. AND that none of us, the family and friends of Dad, would have any say in what this guy did.

I'm not worried that he'll do anything weird, but, for example, I mentioned in an earlier blog posting that I feel like the things that Dad might not be using for many months to come - cell phones, cable, netflix, direct TV, etc - should be temporarily suspended so that Dad isn't paying for them. Well, if this guy disagrees then too bad. Dad pays for premium cable that no one is watching PLUS the guy who decided not to turn it off.

This blows large.

My other option, and the one I'm hoping for (actually, the one I'm hoping for is that Dad recovers quickly and can make these decisions on his own, but, barring that ...) is that Dad can sign the Durable Power of Attorney papers sometime soon. But after the disheartening events of yesterday and seeing him so disoriented I'm just not sure when that will be.

I'm going to speak with the lawyer who handles the guardianships in Forsyth county (the one guy does all of them), scope him out, voice my reservations, and get more information.

----

On another frustrating note, I got what I thought was a good idea, regarding getting the Explorer, while driving home yesterday. I thought to myself: "Self, what about U-haul? They rent tow dollies, I know the Explorer has a hitch on it, and Evil Genius Husband's little Camry would be v. easy to tow". I could run down to Albemarle in the Ford, pick up the dolly, run back to the house and load the Camry on. Voila! I just drive home with both cars. Problem solved.

Except that (wait for it ...) U-haul doesn't allow any of their equipment to be towed by Ford Explorers! Even ones with 8 cylinder engines and 3500lb hitches! It's policy!

For pity's sake! I'm gonna start to get paranoid here if something doesn't go right quickly. If it wasn't for my support team of Dad's friends, I would have thrown in the towel by now. Jeez!

-----

Speaking of support, I wanted to thank each and every one of you who has been commenting here and emailing me. I know sometimes it seems like I'm ignoring you but I swear I pore over evey word, I consider every scrap of advice. I need all the help I can get and you've all been a tremendous help.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 11:27 am   6 comments

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Tuesday evening

We had a bad day.

They were inserting the epi when I arrived (and I was thrilled) and the doc said that they would try to extubate Dad while I was there. I was ecstatic. The nurse told me that she'd ring me when they got the tube out and ushered me unceremoniously out of the ICU.

I swear a dozen people rang my phone while I was waiting.

Every time I picked it up I'd be breathless, thinking it was the nurse. I appreciate the phone calls, don't get me wrong, but these folks probably now think that I'm on crack.

When I got to go in the ICU Dad looked ok. Semi-ok. He looked confused and stressed, but alert.

His first words were: "Let me get out of bed" followed by: "hurts like hell"

I tried to reassure him and told him that everyone had been coming by and that the grandchildren and his animals were alright. He never asked about Kimberly or about what happened (that I know of. He's v. v. hoarse and there were some things I just didn't understand).

He was alert but I'm not convinced that he really knew what was going on. I think he recognized me and knew that he knew me but I don't think that he knew who I was. At one point I think that he thought he was talking to Kimberly. I told him I loved him and he said: "I love you too, I love your whole family."

He was fine for about 10 minutes then his breathing got more laboured and he became less and less coherent. He was clearly in a lot of pain. He was taking quick, wet-sounding breaths and his oxygen level was falling. As a person who has very bad asthma, I can really identify. If you've never been unable to breathe you have no idea what it's like. It was horrible to watch my Dad like this. It was horrible to see that panicky look in his eyes.

They kicked me out again an re-intubated him while I waited in the hall.

The next thing will be a tracheostomy (sp?). They'll do this Thursday or Friday and Dad will have an appliance in his throat (with a tube through the hole) so that they can disconnect and re-connect the respirator without having to put that tube down his throat.

I'll blog more tomorrow. I'm wrung out.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 7:53 pm   2 comments

Just the facts, ma'am

Alright, my mission for today - after visiting Dad - is to talk with the legal ladies at the hospital about the guardianship. The hospital has a few paralegals on staff to help out with just such questions and I'm going to avail myself of their assistance.

I am also going to ring the lady who does the guardianship hearings and ask her to define 'incompetant' since no one seemed to know who was there last time. I'm also going to ring the two companies who do the bonding for the people who are seeking a guardianship and ask them their criteria for bonding a person.

I need some definitions here and, frankly, the women I've talked to thus far on this subject don't seem to know jack. There have to be some hard and fast rules out there somewhere for these things. I need them.

-----

I got a call from my father's oldest friend (jeez, that sounded bad. Not oldest chronologically but as in: has known him the longest). Sam and Dad have been best friends since, like, age 9, so I've known him, literally, my whole life. He's like a second dad to me and just hearing his voice gave me strength.

He and another long-time buddy of dad's, Tim, brainstormed about Dad's cars and decided that the T-bird was not the vehicle I needed to temporarily use. Apparently Dad, in his fashion, has been tinkering with it and it's a bit tempermental. With this in mind, and with Evil Genius Husband's Toyota now making an ominous tapping sound, we are going to go up and borrow one of Dad's Explorers. Probably this week-end. This will be one less thing I have to worry about. *whew*

----

On a lighter note, Jerre's oldest grandchild, aged 3 1/2, drew this pic for his granddaddy and since Dad can't look at it right now, I thought I'd share it with you:




You can see where he was practicing his numbers (under mine) and then decided to draw a bat (he has helpfully written 'bat' there in case you couldn't tell). Here's the young artist himself:


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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 6:02 am   3 comments

Monday, December 05, 2005

Waiting and visitors

Well, every time I ring the ICU it's the same thing: no change. So now it's just a waititng game.

Hopefully they will re-evaluate Dad for the thoracic epidural on Tuesday (or thereabouts). Heck, they might suddenly decide to try a breathing test. We can only hope. Until then we wait.

I'll be going back up tomorrow bright and early, so I'll have more info tomorrow evening.

----

Kimberly's memorial service was yesterday. I hope that there was a standing-room-only crowd. I suspect there was.

I'm sorry that I was unable to attend but I hope I'm doing my part to honour her by taking care of her stuff, her husband, and her animals to the best of my ability.

-----

The nurse yesterday told me that Dad was more alert - which makes me very happy and hopeful - and I warned her that there might be a few more visitors because of the memorial and folks being 'in town'.

Well, apparently, a visitor told her that: "Jerre wouldn't want people to see him like this", or something of the sort (that's how she phrased it to me) and it concerned her so much that she rang me. I was taken aback to put it politely. The implication from this person was that only people on the 'short list' (family, such as it is, and very close friends - about 5 couples) should be allowed in.

Number one: I have known Jerre Hill for 42 years. I'm not just his only child, I'm a daddy's girl. I was standing in a garage handing him tools before I could see over a fender. He's my best friend and confidant. I'm making every decision based on what I think he would want, not my own feelings or some passing whim. If anyone has any opinions on a decision they are welcomed to voice them (hey, I need all the advice I can get) TO ME. That would be, again, ME, not the hospital staff, not each other, not the pet-sitter, not the insurance people.

Number two: I disagree vehemently. As long as my father is composed and resting I see NO reason why he can't have visitors. I think it does him loads of good to hear familiar voices and see the faces of friends. Even if he won't remember a person in the morning, I still think that it is soothing for his brain to look at and hear people he knows and loves.

How would you like to be sedated and strapped to a bed, confused and unable to speak, and only see an endless succession of strange nurses and doctors and only hear the hum of machinery and unfamiliar voices? That sounds like a nightmare to me.

Number three: Dad is special to a LOT of people. Not just the short-listers. He has friends and collegues, ex-students and current students, fellow cyclists and racing enthusiasts who want to visit him. If It will not hurt him (indeed, in my opinion above, help him) then why should they be barred?

I am very grateful for the visitors. I just cannot be up there all the time. I can only go every other day and have a tiny window of time to be there. Everybody else on the short list works full-time and/or lives a long way away. They're coming as often as they can but also can't be there all the time. I'm glad other folks are filling in the gaps.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 6:14 am   5 comments

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Saturday musings

Newton's first law of motion states (basically) that an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless outside forces act upon it.

So if the earth was as smooth as a billiard table and you rolled a cue ball away from yourself, it wants to keep rolling. But it has many outside forces acting on it: earth's gravity, friction against the surface upon which it rolls, even resistance as it pushes through the atmosphere. Because of all these things it will lose it's momentum and stop.

I'm losing my momentum.

I had so hoped that Dad would be appreciably better by now. I comprehend that he has a long way to go and I'm fully aware that he has months of healing to do, but I was hoping that something would have changed. Yes, I understand that every day that he hangs in there is progress, but that doesn't make it easier.

I've traveled up there every other day since the accident, gone to the other hospital (the one he was first sent to: Rowan Medical Centre), gone by the house twice, and of course spoken with innumerable official types on the 'phone. I ring the ICU exactly four times a day. My phone rings all day long.

Yet I feel like I'm doing nothing for him. And I feel tired and washed out and feel like my Mum is doing a better job at looking after my children than I am (and that really makes me feel like crap). I think I should be doing more or doing a better job but I can't think of what to change. Actually, I'm having trouble thinking at all. Bleh. I feel like a mental patient: sort of gently confused.

-----

I got a scare this morning. When I called for my before-lunch update Dad's blood gas was bad. The respirator was operating fine but he wasn't oxygenating his blood properly. They had just rung the doctor when I called.

Fortunately they got that quickly squared away - I know they had him on a bag, and were hand-pumping the air in to try to saturate the lungs. Whatever was the problem got resolved but it frightens me that this should happen now, over a week after the accident.

Update: I rang again tonight and the nurse said that he was stable. Nothing new to report.

-----

I wanted to share with you my ... interesting experience with trying to get the guardianship:

Note: my goal is to pay my fathers bills. I am currently unable to even talk to any of his creditors (several almost hung up on me, refusing to even speak with me and let me explain the situation). I do NOT want my Dad to wake up to find that his credit has been ruined and his house is in forclosure.

So I trekked into downtown Winston-Salem, was confused as to where to go (thus the 'erratic driving' that I got stopped for - I was trying to drive and read the signs on the buildings). The twinkie who gave me directions, frankly sucked at it.

Anyway, I finally found the right place, had to virtually disrobe to get through security (hindered by a security guard who declared that my piercings would "light the thing up like a christmas tree" - uhhh, no, you moron, they're all surgical steel. Non-magnetic. Hello!) and learned this:

In order to get a guardianship of my fathers estate I must be declared guardian of his person. The latter will enable me to make decisions as to his medical care. Well, duh, I am already making all of his medical decisions as his next of kin. I don't need this bit of paperwork to do that.

Except that I must get it to be declared guardian of his estate and pay his bills.

Here's the catch: for me to be made guardian of his person he must be declared incompetent. (makes me writhe because my Dad is NOT incompetent. There's nothing wrong with his mind, he's just under heavy sedation right now.) So after I've filed the papers, paid the fee ($65), and appeared in court, a lawyer (NOT a doctor) goes to assess his competence. He might very well NOT be declared incompetent since it's not him but the drug load.

But if he is declared incompetent then I must file more papers (and another $65 fee and another court appearance) and they decide if *I* am 'suitable' as the guardian of his estate. One of the conditions of suitability (is that a word?) is that I am able to be bonded for the entire amount of his estate.

Well I can tell you right now that my Dad is worth more than I am. They look at things like my criminal record (none) and credit history (not so perfect). If I am deemed unsuitable for bonding, then a lawyer (there's that word again) will be appointed guardian of my father's estate. There is nothing I can do at that point (Dad's been declared incompetent, remember?)

So I'm in a quandary. I found bills in Dad's house that were due then when I went there on Friday after the accident. It's already been over a week. I need to at least contact these creditors and let them know what's happened. But they won't even speak with me without my having legal rights.

What to do? What to do?

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 1:12 pm   0 comments

Friday, December 02, 2005

My day - such as it was

So what did *I* do interesting today?

Hmm. Well.

I got into a shouting match with the bloke who was supposed to be fixing my furnace (yes, it never rains but it pours - The heater in our house started blowing cold air about noon yesterday. I came down at 2:30 am this morning and it was 50 degrees in the parlour. I set up a little electric heater in the Nursery where the two youngest children are then couldn't go back to sleep because I was so paranoid it would burn the house down.)

I got stopped by the police (highway patrol, deputy sheriff, junior woodchuck - whatever he was he was very polite). He said I was 'driving erratically'. I told him that I was a bit short on sleep but that I always drove erratically and he had the good grace to laugh. He didn't ticket me. Of course he was slick and clean and looked young enough to be my child. I think he just felt sorry for me.

Because of all this I burst in the door of the ICU at the arse-end of the 11 - 11:30 visiting time and they were nice enough to let me see Dad.

It was v. v. difficult.

They were getting ready to reinsert his chest IV - just below his left clavicle - because it had clotted closed. I reassured the two doctors that the procedure wouldn't bother me.

Indeed, blood, bruises, and stiches, even on my own father, don't bug me. What disturbed me was his demeanour.

They had had to back off the morphine to do this (the morphine is delivered through this IV) and Dad was in tremendous pain. He moved restlessly, clenched his fists, swallowed convulsively around the breathing and feeding tubes, rolled his head about on the pillow (as much as the neck brace would allow). It was horrible. He was very pale and drenched in sweat. I spoke to him, and he would turn his head toward me but I don't think he knew who I was.

It should be that the worst part to watch is the beginning, right after the accident, but I'm finding this much much harder to take. Much worse.

The anesthesiologist who rang me had evaluated Dad this morning for the epidural and decided that he was NOT a candidate right now. They will take another look at him in 2 or 3 days.

So I held Dad's hand while we waited for the x-ray film to come back to make sure that the IV was in the right place. The nurse actually had the morphine in her pocket, poised and ready for the go-ahead. As soon as they cleared him and she gave it to him he sank back into his regular state of the past 7 days: peaceful, but only minimally responsive.

So we're back to square one.

I asked the doctor when they would try a breathing test again and contemplate trying to remove the respirator again and he said 'about a week'. In the meantime he stays on the morphine. Keep your fingers crossed that Tuesday the anesthesiologist thinks that Dad is ready for the epi.

I have the whole lovely ordeal of the trip to the courthouse for the guardianship to tell but I'm about to fall asleep. I'll blog ya tomorrow.

(update: the guy fixed the furnace. Yay! I guess crabby, sleepy women are a great inspiration.)

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 8:44 pm   0 comments

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Well ... damn.

I got a call from an anesthesiologist at NC Baptist and found out that Dad began doing so poorly (with his breathing) that they have had to re-intubate him and put him back on the respirator.

I feel like I've been beaten with a stick.

The theory is that when he was off the respirator and off the meds, the pain of his injuries (remember that his chest was basically crushed) caused him to be unable to breathe well. he couldn't take deep enough breaths. Their next plan of attack is to try to address the chest pain without systemic drugs - thus the convo with an anesthesiologist. They are proposing a thoracic epidural.

That 'E' word probably sounds quite familiar to some of the ladies reading this: pregnant women can be given lumbar epidurals while in labour to control pain. This is the same thing only higher up. (the impossibly-young-sounding-doctor seemed a tad disappointed when I revealed that I, who has had so many children, hadn't ever actually gotten an epi. All of mine were c-section babies. Strictly spinals for me, followed by that loveliest of inventions: astromorph.)

The good news is that this will control his pain without so much mind-fog. The bad news is that 1) it doesn't necessarily mean the immediate removal of the breathing tube. His readiness for that remains to be tested, and 2) it may not work (or they may not be able to get it in), and 3) there are some slight risks.

They are going to assess him tomorrow morning and I gave them permission to go ahead if they thought he was ready.

I'm sorry I got this out so late. As you know I'll be going up there at the ass-crack of dawn tomorrow and so I'll be ringing everyone when it gets to be a decent hour. Going to try for some sleep now.

(Edited to add: several folks have inquired about his medication level. i'm not sure. I don't know whether he's back to the minimally responsive stage or in a less-meds, more-response state. I'll find out tomorrow.)

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 8:21 pm   1 comments

Oh, hell yeah!

Well, I've spent three hours trying to sweet-talk Blogger into uploading my blog entry and right after it finally does, I get some great news and need to update my blog!

They have removed my father from the respirator! Yay!


He got through his surgery just fine - they took a skin graft from his hip and closed the wound on his leg - and they did a breathing test. They turned off the equipment, left the breathing tube in, and let him breathe on his own. He did so well that they removed the tube!

Dad always did excel at everything.

Hopefully this makes the guardianship a non-issue (plus, I'll get to ask him if I can borrow his Thunderbird!) I'm so excited about seeing him tomorrow. I wish I could leave right now and go up there.

The only dark part of all of this is that now he's off the meds ... he'll start asking questions.

This is the bit that I have dreaded. I can handle everything else. This, I am not prepared for.

But apparently I have no choice.

I was hoping that a professional, like a grief councilor, could take on this task. Someone who was better versed in helping a person handle the information and the inevitable reaction thereto, but the consensus seems to be that I should do it.

Kimberly's father has volunteered to come up there tomorrow, and I certainly appreciate his support. He's handled this nightmare with more strength than I could've mustered in his place.

We'll see how it goes.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 3:08 pm   1 comments

Thursday thoughts

My Mum has agreed to come watch the children again tomorrow so that I can go back up and see my Dad before the week-end. I'm really happy that I don't have to wait until Saturday. I wish I could go every day.

There are some very important things that I want to discuss with the doctor tomorrow when I go. I asked them the Friday after the accident, and again that Sunday, when they thought he might be cognizant. I know that they have to keep him under sedation to help him heal and as long as he's on that respirator (to keep him fighting it too much), but I'm hoping they can give me an ETA of when he'll be able to be told about Kimberly (I'm dreading that day) and be able to make coherent decisions.

I understand that it's really really hard to guess this. These blokes are doctors, not gods, they can't work miracles or see the future. I only want to ask one last time (with a great deal of hope that they'll say: "Oh, any day now!"), before I go down to the courthouse and file for guardianship.

I really hate that this is happening. My father is only 61 years old and at the top of his game. he shouldn't have to bury his wife. He shouldn't have to have his affairs be handled by someone else. He should be at home right now, sitting in his recliner, surrounded by cats and television remotes, typing on his laptop, and watching two TVs simultaneously. He should be grading papers, riding his bike, walking his dogs. Kimberly should be there.

But life doesn't have an 'undo' button and you just have to deal with things or they'll deal with you.

When Dad gets out of the ICU - if he'll have an extended hospital stay - I would like him moved to a closer hospital. Closer to me. I have spoken to a few folks about moving him when the time comes and I think they thought I meant to Charlotte. I mean to Columbia (SC).

Columbia is only an hour away from me and 20 minutes from his sister, my aunt. Charlotte is 2 1/2 hours away. I'm really sorry that this will take him farther away from some folks as it brings him closer to me.

All of this is dependent upon him, of course. The instant he can get his thoughts together I'll happily defer to his wishes. Hopefully all this will be moot and he'll recover quickly and be able to go home. All we can do is hope.

----

Dad should be in surgery right now. While the plastic surgeon repairs his thumb, the orthopoedists will clean out his leg wound again and attempt to close it. There was some loss of tissue (It's the only open wound that he received that I know of) so if they can't get it closed they'll have the plastic surgeons take a skin graft from Dad's hip.

He hasn't had a temp again but they're giving him the antibiotics and Tylenol now so that may just be keeping it at bay. No matter, it's good that he's not running a fever.

----

Remember how I was expressing my frustration about certain types of calls that I was getting? Well I've not gotten any more in that vein since those first few days (except for yesterday ... words cannot describe ...) and I've come to realize that there is a certain type of person (all female in my experience) who behave this way - are long-winded and nosy and seem more interested in invading my and my Dad's privacy than inquiring on his status - because they want to be part of the drama.

In striking contrast I seem to have a cadre of women (and you know who you are) who are sympathetic, practical, and strong in the face of this crisis. They have appeared on the scene like valkyries and are assisting me so much. They are helping me with everything, making my life during all this easier and less worrisome, and giving me not only tangible aid but their virtual shoulders to cry on and electronic ears to bend.

Along with all of Dad's friends and Kimberly's family, I feel better able to handle all of this because of this support and the few 'rubberneckers' don't bug me anymore. I can't say it often enough, so here it is again: Thank you so much.

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 9:45 am   1 comments