Sunday, March 30, 2008

On Call Blues

Ok, I'm still consumed by this six word memoir concept. Here are some I came up with (among others that were not so nice) in the wee hours this morning after being awakened from deep slumber at 1:35 AM.......

"Care giving endlessly, day and night"

"Pissed, outraged, unforgiving; doctor in trouble"

"Hiding my anger; steaming and stewing"

What was going on last night? When I'm on call, my pager sleeps with me, turned to vibrate mode and clips either to the pants of my pajamas or to the top of the nightgown, depending on the situation. I could keep it on my night table but when it goes off on the hardwood, it makes a horrible jangling sound that startles me into alertness. This choice of mine to wear the pager to bed is less disruptive, but only slightly. No one likes to be awakened in the night.

At 1:35 AM comes the text page: Please call Mr. "xyz", transplant patient lost meds at airport, needs them urgently.

What insanity is this?

He: "Oh doctor, thanks for calling. How are you?" (asking me how I am at this time of day is one of the dumbest questions in the universe and is also my opportunity to be honest; after all, he asked, didn't he?)

Me: "Well, Mr. "xyz", I was sleeping."

He: "Oh, sorry doctor......(but not really). The situation is that I'm in the Miami airport, little spring break trip with the family and the airline lost my luggage. I had my meds in there and now I don't have them and they don't know where my bag is; could be anywhere from Fort Lauderdale to Jacksonville. I wasn't sure if I could go that long without them. What should I do? I'm sure it'll be hard to find an all night pharmacy around here...."

I'm thinking....what is rule #1? Never, EVER, put your medications in your luggage! I thought everyone knew this. Not. And you, a transplant recipient, what are you thinking????

Me: "Well, it's not the end of the world. You can actually miss a few doses without anything serious happening. We don't advertise that fact but it's true. Mr. "xyz", please call me by noon today if you haven't received your luggage and we'll work on finding a pharmacy in Miami on a Sunday that stocks these specialty meds." (This can be a tall order; they are not your everyday drugs but hey, Miami is a big city.)

This is the short version. He was long winded and had lots of questions. I was professional and reassuring. I wanted to bite his head off. There is often a huge disconnect between what I think and what I say in these settings. Bury it, Kate; bury it.

And then I hang up and start to stew. I toss, turn, and rail against the insanities. I think I've heard every midnight phone call under the sun until I hear the next one; there will always be a new variation out there to challenge my patience and good nature.

In case you think I'm a total turd, most late night and early morning calls are legitimate; perhaps they could have been made sooner or perhaps they could wait until first light of day but usually they don't cause me this much angst. This one got me though and good. Cost me at least 90 minutes of slumber before I talked myself back to sleep.

What will it be tonight? I'm carrying this pager for another few days. One never, ever knows and that's what makes this as unpredictable as a rabid dog in heat.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

More 6 Word Memoirs

I lay awake last night, on call, interrupted by pages from the hospital and pondered more six word memoirs. Sadly, I didn't take the time to write them down; many were quite creative, some funny, some bittersweet, and some just plain dumb.

How about some of these? There could be a memoir a day at this rate....six words is challenging in some ways but easy in others.

Born in Aruba, living in Seattle. (the original title to my blog)

Tenaciously keeping ahead of the wave.

Striving for happiness, settling for life.

Worrying and fretting through my days.

Plucking intermittent joy from the clouds.

Dreaming of calm, tolerating the bumps.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Six Word Memoir

Tagged by my sister at Rockbridge Times to write a six word memoir, I read the NPR article describing the challenge and took a stab at the task. "Don't overthink it" was the advice. Ok, I won't.

"Finding my voice, following my heart."

circa 1972; Ithaca, NY

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Out of Town

This is "spring break" week for Denny. Amidst all the commotion of March (see March Madness post) we decided a few days together out of town would offer a chance to disconnect from stressors coming at us from all angles. We are settling into the slowed down pace of a small resort town on Whidbey Island, during mid-week with stormy skies, chilly breezes and the intermittent sprinkle. The Inn at Langley is a great spot to unwind; providing comforts (like wonderful bedding, fireplace, and views of the Sound) as well as connections to the outside world (like TV, cell reception, and Internet capability). Paradoxically, I find my relaxation deeper if I'm not stressing about being 'out there' where no one can reach me. To many, getting beyond the cell phone/beeper range sounds rather nice but for me it's not an option right now. This environment is perfect; I can be reached if needed but left alone to enjoy the quiet tranquility and dose myself with the real world at times of my own choosing. Love it. This is a veiw from our deck at low tide; earlier today the water covered the grey sand beach.

Still hobbling about on my right leg keeps me from exploring the environs much although we did manage to visit a winery today and bought a few bottles of white. Otherwise we are reading and in my case, blogging, eating good food, drinking good wine, talking and resting. This afternoon comes the spa treatments which are indulgent and glorious. I keep saying: "I need this; I need this".

While in the local grocery store today, replete with wonderful and unusual organic and other tasty items, we ordered vegetarian sandwiches to go. I also saw this small item at the check-out counter and was reminded that only two days ago in "Notes to Self", I could have really used these. Priced so sensibly at $0.39, how dare I do without? I certainly won't need these here but they will come in handy later and are not only purse sized but packaged attractively as well. Oh my.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Notes to Self

1. Buy some of those small, purse-size packages of kleenex. Yes, the type old ladies carry in their handbags just in case.....thank God I still don't need to buy the plastic rain hat yet, although I have a friend who already does and you know who you are. :)

2. Don't apply too much mascara; perhaps none at all just now.

3. Don't listen to ballads by Whitney Houston while driving to work and especially not "I'll Always Love You".

These tears of mine come from a fountain that is just below the surface, anxious to spring forth with the slightest provocation. I am frequently caught off-guard, unprepared, and overwhelmed by the pain exuding from the lives of my beloved parents and my thoughts are focused constantly on that place, unless I'm distracted. That fact coupled with a healthy dose of not wanting to go to work today after 3 weeks away from the grind made my ride through downtown streets in traffic rather "wet" despite a brilliant orb of light in the morning sky.

This too shall pass.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Earth's Own Congregation

Earth's Own Congregation
by Danna Faulds

I am received by earth's own
congregation into a green
sanctuary with no need of
walls or vaulted ceiling.

Embodied spirit celebrates
rebirth, each creature offering
its uniqueness to the whole.

How can I possibly feel separate
when nature dances with me
on the grass--the nodding tulips
and small azure moths, the wood
thrush, clouds, and groundhog.

The snorting doe who stomps
her hoof upon the ground, and the
swaying pine boughs, they all
know Easter's secret--

the wondrous, freeing peace of
the risen sun, the blooming bud,
the heart laid bare with love and
wonder, the many joined as one.


Today at Crista, two crows preened and cawed their way across the green grass, noisy and alive. The two were steps from the front entrance to Mom and Dad's new home. I never saw crows at Merrill Gardens. This sighting is new; perhaps Mom will forge a relationship with these black feathered friends and breathe in moments of unencumbered joy.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Moveable Feast

Easter Weekend arrives. As our ancient gardener in Aruba would say late summer or early fall of each year, "Well, Mrs. Thompson, Christmas is upon us." And I'd have to say the same of Easter; it is upon us. Unlike Keith who lamented months in advance, Easter just creeps up.

Is there ever a "good" time for this most honored and holy string of days in the Christian calendar? Probably so but I think not, at least for me, this year. In a month already overburdened with events, obligations, trips, and sprinkled with ever present stress, resistance, and change, it seems that Easter might pick another weekend in 2008, say in April sometime. I would honor the opportunity to really consider the contemplative questions and the issues that this time of year brings forth but just not now.

Railing against the question: "why now?", I decided to research the answer. At least that way, I'd own one crisp and accurate response to a long list of unanswerables. Easter, the so-called "Moveable Feast" in the Christian calendar, hits anywhere from March 22 to April 25. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the "Paschal Full Moon" (which this year occurs today, March 21). The Pashcal Full Moon is the first full moon after the Spring Equinox (a date that is fluidly defined and too complex to describe here; I've learned it isn't always on March 21).

That Easter this year falls on March 23 makes this one of the earliest possible dates in the calendar. According to The Christian History Institute, the last time Easter occurred on March 22 was in 1818 and the last time it occurred on March 23 was 1913 (not in our lifetimes!) The early bird nature of this year's Easter should be noted as quite unusual and perhaps that explains why the celebration feels so out of place.

Tonight is Seattle First Baptist Church's magnificent production of The Passion featuring choir, orchestra, bells, and their new organ, an instrument which Mom and Dad helped fund generously last year. They have never had the opportunity to hear the organ played. Tonight we had considered taking them to this event as both had expressed an interest but today is "moving day" in this time of moveable feasts, laden with newness, anxiety, and exhaustion. How can one more event be tacked on to the days of 90 year old people? I think not although sadness pervades. Timing is everything and Easter is just too early this year.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Goodbye Merrill Gardens

Moving from one dwelling to another is upheaval. From the endless preparations (engaging movers, making decisions about what to take and where to place it, change of address, new telephone and notification of friends/family) through the actual moving day, the process is as much emotional as it is physical, if not more so. Tomorrow Mom and Dad will leave their two bedroom retirement apartment at MG, a place they have called home for the last 18 months and move to an assisted living facility in north Seattle. The two adjacent rooms connected by a bathroom are considerably smaller, more institutional and less private. But, the hope is that they can remain together as their physical needs for care increase. We've all accepted that this move must happen and that our choice, although not perfect, is (probably) the best among the options. None of us debates the obvious fact that this move is highly symbolic and painful. The losses associated with physical and mental aging are heartbreaking to witness. What must it be like for Mom and Dad?

When I left their apartment at MG on Sunday afternoon it didn't strike me that this would be my last image of them in the place they've called home since August 2006. Although both JT and I have done "prep work" for this move, MM will supervise the actual process tomorrow. We three were clever in crafting the plans; teamwork at its best with each assigned to parts of the whole. More than once I've described our work during the month of March as a symphony with the conductor changing chairs with the first and second violin seamlessly.

And so, when I bid my goodbye to Mom and Dad several days ago, I turned to face their small living room from the doorway as I've done dozens of times. "Bye, see you later", I said. Dad, whose chair faces the door lifted his right hand in a wave, a small but familiar smile crossed his face and I let myself recognize this as his way of saying "thanks" to me for whatever small or large gift my presence there had been. I won't get to experience this in exactly the same way at their new "home" but perhaps there will be something else that comes forth. I will miss that little apartment at MG, so nicely appointed with their lovely furnishings. But, their time in this place draws to a close and we all move ahead to the next stage. MM described this experience today as moving in a current of water. This is a swift current and moving along is all we can do; it won't be possible to resist.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Post op day one: the local anesthesia injected into my right knee has worn off, my foot, calf and knee are swollen and stiff and I'm now understanding the meaning of "house bound" (actually bed bound). Getting up to do anything is a challenge. I'm off the high powered pain meds since they cause other issues and sticking with ibuprofen, which unfortunately is aggravating my basal state of heartburn. One thing affects another in this game of pharmacology.

I'm not a very good patient all the time. The bandage was to stay on until Thursday but I took it off last night; very bulky and uncomfortable. The ace wrap got lost this morning and I'm applying the ice directly to the knee, leg propped up on two pillows. I've only ventured downstairs once today but after that (I promise) will rely on the generosity of my husband to fetch items for me.

We still have the two person job of spraying two doses of antibiotics down Boo's throat today; Denny will have to bring the cat, the medication, and syringe upstairs to me for that task. Plus, we need a sponge to wipe up what he sprays out of his mouth after dosing; guess the vet figures that even a small amount will do the job; Boo does seem better. As in most situations (MD and DVM alike) we know best what the cat does NOT have, not what he HAS afflicting him.

Today I sponged off all the topical betadine cleansing solution staining my leg orange from knee to toes with a washcloth but the little "YES" written in black ink on my right knee persists. Being an insider to what goes on in surgery, avoiding "wrong site" surgery and its (worse yet) cousin, "wrong patient" surgery is a huge deal. To prevent these errors, very strict systems are in place to 1) identify the patient (I had to give my full name and date of birth to everyone who interacted with me yesterday and they compared it to the band on my arm) and 2) perform the proper procedure (especially when the surgical site is one of two bilateral choices; eg. left or right knee). I was asked which knee was going under the knife several times and then had it marked with the word "YES". Denny suggested that I write on the contra lateral knee "my husband is a lawyer" but I didn't have the nerve; they wouldn't find this funny in the least (not quite as bad as shouting "bomb" at the airport security line but you get the idea). There is also the final checklist (like airline pilots perform before take-off) called the "procedural pause" where all living breathing souls (sans the patient) in the operating room STOP and check to see that they have the proper patient, the proper surgical site prepped and draped and the proper supplies ready for the case. It's all good and I'm not mocking the repetitive nature of what they do; it keeps us all safer.

So, now it's back to the icing and dosing of my meds. I have a good book, my laptop, and the phone close by. I can see my favorite pine tree from the bedroom window and a bit of sunshine trying to peek through. Denny is in the next room but I have to organize my requests to minimize the number of trips he makes on my behalf. He's tolerant but up to a point. Asking him to fetch files from my desk drawer or look for odd items is not part of the deal. Water, food, and ice is ok.

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Pat's Day: Knee and Cat Butt

Happy St. Patrick's Day and Happy Birthday to my niece Jeanne ( born on March 17.

Our family celebrated with the traditional Irish dinner last night instead of today; corned beef, cabbage, boiled potatoes, carrots and brown bread. Denny and Chris also had a Guinness but I abstained in consideration of my surgical date today. The meal was wonderful and thank goodness for leftovers.

All went well with my meniscus surgery today; I don't have much pain (yet) since the long acting local anesthetic in the knee has not yet worn off. Denny is tending to my every need; re-filling my water pitcher, bringing ice for the knee, coffee, lunch and snacks. Ahhhhh. We are using the telephone intercom system since he is downstairs studying for finals exams and can't hear when I yell for him. I think he's getting deaf.

The only crazy part of today (aside from getting up at 4:45 AM and receiving IV anxiolytics, narcotics, and anesthetics in my spine) was tending to the cat who is under the weather. Boo has been lethargic for 4 days and won't eat or drink much. Saturday I took him in to the vet who diagnosed "an infection" (site uncertain) and put him on liquid antibiotics twice a day. Today she called to give us the results of the blood/urine tests which confirmed her initial impression. She asked me to "check his temperature" (oy) and call back with the result. I knew we'd have to comply since if he had a fever, more IV fluids would be needed to avoid dehydration. Thankfully his fever is gone.

Picture this: Denny holding Boo steady on the bedroom chair, me with a large bandage on my right knee and still a bit high on drugs, greasing up the digital thermometer and sticking it up Boo's rear end (we'll throw that one in the trash once this temperature checking is over), and Boo twisting and turning in all directions while Emeril Lagasse gives a cooking lesson on the Food Network. I'm not sure that my orthopod's instructions to be "house bound for three days" included checking the rectal temperature of my cat but it's clearly NOT a one person job. Amazingly, "house bound" is not all that limited although he did say to keep my knee elevated above my heart and ice, ice, ice.

I'll try to be good. Promise.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


I've gotta be honest here; how am I going to get through this one? Why can't it be April 1st?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Red Obsession

When I bothered to notice there were red dresses in shop windows and on the racks in almost every clothing store Laura and I visited in Las Vegas. Laura just rolled her eyes when I pulled out my camera over and over again to capture the wonder.

"Jeeez, Mom, what's up with that?"
No words.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Vegas 4

We are sleeping in....later and later. Tuesday it was almost noon before we rolled out of our room to breakfast on mixed berry and bananas foster crepes at Hotel Paris. Yum. We had another great day; lots of walking, some shopping and a late lunch at Dick's Last Resort (the original is along the Riverwalk in San Antonio). Irreverent, outlandish, and just as I remembered. Then, more money down the one armed bandits, and photos at every stop along the way. Good fun. We made it all the way to Mandelay Bay at the north end of the Strip before calling a moratorium on the walking.

Our feet are so heavy and sore after miles of walking that we soak them in icy cold water back at the hotel. This hiking about has got to be good training for the TRI. I was so right to postpone my knee surgery until AFTER the trip to Vegas; I feel certain I would never have been able to keep up the pace on a newly cleaned out knee. The fact that I've been moving so easily on it for this trip has me wondering if it's worth it to get the surgery at all. But then, I try to squat or sit cross legged on the floor and know instantly that I'll always be limited unless I just do it.

Last night we took in Stomp Out Loud, our fourth show in as many days. Wonderful. We have seen four very different shows and all like nothing we've ever experienced. Earplugs would have been nice for parts of this show; I feel certain my ears took a hit last night. Oh, well.

We watched the fountain and light/music show outside the Bellagio Hotel after the show. Weary and ready to call it a day, we ate a quick dinner and headed back to comfort in a horizontal position, propped up in bed to watch Jay Leno's antics.

Our flight today doesn't leave until 5 PM. I'm sure we'll wander about and amuse ourselves for our last few hours in Sin City before heading back to chilly, grey Seattle after 75 degree days in sunny Vegas. I will miss the carefree mood and the feeling that it's ok to let the money flow freely. Reality will hit when we walk off the plane, I feel certain.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Vegas 3

The days unfold in Vegas; yesterday was equally fantabulous as Laura and I walked miles and miles in comfortable shoes spritzed with baby powder and didn't care about how we looked in our sensible footwear. We started the day with a jolt of caffeine and a chocolate muffin and headed out on the strip to upscale shopping adjacent to Caesar's Palace. Thankfully there was more than Chanel, Gucci, Coach, and Juicy Couture. We landed out at familiar Express and spent time trying on lots of (cool) clothing and spending some money. Then, further down the strip at the Mirage we decided on breakfast for lunch at Carnegie Deli. Revived on swiss cheese omelet, toast, and hash browns, it was on down the strip to Fashion Place Mall for more shopping. Our feet felt like demons by then but we persevered until we made it even further down the strip to Circus Circus and the Riveria. Our will call tickets for the Russian Ice Show had to be claimed several hours prior to the evening show.

By 5 PM, totally whipped, we bailed out of the long walk home by taking the public transit bus which felt marvelous on the feet (even better when we soaked those swollen stumps for legs in a tub of cold water back at Planet Hollywood). Rejuvenated, we took the bus all the way back out Las Vegas Boulevard to experience the show at 8 PM. Bedazzled we were with the acrobatic stunting and costumes that made the ice pop.

We won't mention how mean the slot machines have been to us. Trust me.

Here's a look at Laura and me....hamming it up.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Vegas 2

Day 2 in Vegas was great. Sunshine and 70 during the day, cooler in the evening but still lovely. Laura and I had a fun day yesterday shopping, eating, losing small amounts in the slot machines and walking ever so long distances between each venue, the streets packed with tourists and sidewalk vendors hoping to make a quick sale. Everything here is about spending (and maybe winning) money and the fake facades, baubles and tacky souvenirs are well, just Vegas. It's all good fun.

Sunday's highlight was Le Reve (the Dream) at the Wynn Resort last evening. The tickets weren't cheap but the show was unlike anything we've ever seen with seating is in the round and a pool as the focal point. Acrobatics, gymnastics, and dramatic special effects left us spellbound for 90 minutes. The creator, Franco Dravone and resort owner Steve Wynn, named the show after the Picasso painting (shown here)entitled Le Reve, a piece that Mr Wynn actually owns (lucky him).

Vegas is a marvel; we feel far away and living an unencumbered existence. Our own version of Le Reve, a dream and a very, very good one.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Vegas 1

It's almost 11 AM in Vegas; the clocks sprung forward last night so it feels like 10 AM. I've been up for awhile but am letting Ms. Laura catch up on some zzzzzs since she is exhausted after mid-term week and as usual, burning the candle at both ends. I'm writing from the hotel room, pumped up on my 4 dollar caffeine fix (just a plain ole drip coffee from Starbucks in the lobby of Planet Hollywood; prices are really ramped up in this town) and planning out what we'll do today. The weather is great; 70's in the daytime, sunny but very breezy. This is a lovely change from Seattle.

We had a good day yesterday; an easy flight and check in to our hotel on the infamous Las Vegas Strip. My only other trip to Vegas was over 20 years ago; I really wasn't prepared for all the changes. The oddest thing is the enormity of the hotel complexes. Problem is; they are so large and visible that they appear to be rather close together. Not. What looks like a short walk could be well over a mile.

Last night we had tickets to Blue Man Group at 7 PM and found ourselves cut short on time; not just a little but a lot. The Vegas Strip monorail (I thought) would be a good idea and save us time but was a disaster, putting us out in an obscure parking lot at least a quarter mile from the Venetian, the venue for the event with less than 5 minutes to show time. Picture us running (and me on my bum knee) through the crowds in the maze of the casino at Harrah's, finally navigating outside to the strip, and in Laura's language, "booking it" to the Venetian, dodging slow moving pedestrians and cursing under our breath. We made it with no time to spare, took our seats with adrenaline surging and sweat seeping but it was all worth it. This show was a winner even if it took us thirty minutes to calm down and settle into the evening.

Tonight we have tickets to La Reve and we will be more thoughtful in our planning, especially since Laura plans to wear 3 inch heels to the show.

Friday, March 7, 2008


Ramping up for my parent's move out of Merrill Gardens points out (again) just how difficult it is to change one's address. I remember when moving from one place to another involved a few phone calls, a few change of address cards but it was quick, easy, and over. Of course, I haven't moved since 1991. But, I have been involved with Mom and Dad moving; first from their home to MG eighteen months ago and now enmeshed in planning another move in two weeks.

The last time they moved, it was a full six months before all the addresses were changed on bank accounts, investment accounts, credit cards, Medicare/Aetna/Medco accounts and the like. We were so caught up in the physical moving that the details like change of address got lost in the packing, unpacking and transitioning into a new life.

This time I decided to start early. Magazines are easy; no one really cares and on-line address changes are just fine for subscriptions although you must have those annoying little, flaky strips off the magazine to identify your account number or the name "exactly as it appears" on the account. Newspapers are a little harder. The worst nightmare comes with financial institutions, the government, phone service, or healthcare. As Mom and Dad are incapable of navigating through the morass of phone trees, operators who speak quickly, garble their words and use terms even I don't understand, the family must step in and make the calls for them.

Today I was on the phone with Verizon to set up phone service. Oy. I have to identify myself as "Doris" otherwise I will get nowhere. The problem is, I refuse to change my voice and when they ask for date of birth, they KNOW that I am not Doris. The Verizon guy caught me in the act this morning when I spouted out 1917, he put 2 and 2 together (duh) and then asked me:

"Are you Doris?" I could have lied but I had to confess.
"No, I am not Doris but Doris can't do this; she is 90 years old, I am her daughter and please, pretty please, give me a break".
"Is Doris with you? You could put her on the line to verify that it is OK for you to handle her order."
"No, I'm not with her."
"Are you power of attorney?", he inquires.
"Oh, yes". Now we are getting somewhere; he's going to "get it". Not.
"Well, you'll need to fax me that document...." (I cut him off at that point)
"Oh, shit", I say, "why can't you guys cut me the tiniest bit of slack. Doris cannot handle this; I'm just trying to set up her new phone service at the retirement community. I'm doing a good deed as a devoted daughter."
"I recognize that Ma'am but we have to look out for fraud."
"Yeah, I guess you caught me; she's 90, I'm 53. I guess I don't sound like I'm 90."
He laughs (thank God for humor) remarking, "Nope, you're not a 1917 baby."
Asswipe, I think.
"Here, let me give you the direct line for you to use when you call again from Doris's current residence to set up the phone service. I can help you directly".

The phone number is long distance and I'll have to pay for the pleasure. Do you have any idea how long it takes them to arrange a phone line? Ridiculous.

Note to self: cultivate a wavery, confused, old-lady voice. Gotta have it in addition to the SSN, mother's maiden name, date of birth, and the last time you took a crap (they want all this information, I promise you).

Thursday, March 6, 2008

March Madness

We are well into the month of March and I've wished more than once that I could go to sleep and wake up on April 1st. Even though there are some fun events coming up, there is just too much action. I call it my version of "March Madness", NCAA Men's Basketball Championships aside.

Some of the events converging on the month of March 2008 include but are not limited to:

1. Three different "Spring Break weeks" for the three students in my life (all at different times of course)

a. a four day trip to Las Vegas with Laura

b. Chris's solo trip to Arizona to visit a friend

c. Denny's week off and our plans to spend three days/nights at a lovely place on on Whidbey Island

2. Mom and Dad's big move out of Merrill Gardens; orientation to a brand new living situation and all the stress that comes with organizing and making this happen. I have forgotten how many people/institutions/magazines etc need to know the new address and phone number. And so much of the time, I have to pretend to be my Mom since these pinheads refuse to talk to anyone other than the "subscriber" of the service. Don't they get it that older people are often unable to navigate through endless phone trees and other idiocies of our modern day? I barely make it through the morass and aggravation. And so, I just become Doris complete with SSN and get the job done. My voice doesn't sound 91 and I think there are suspicions at the other end of the phone line but screw it. If I know the answers to key questions like her mother's maiden name, I'm "in".

3. MM and John's most essential trips to Seattle to facilitate this move (THANK YOU)

4. My knee surgery (so I'll be "good as new" to train for the TRI)

5. Dad's facial plastic surgery next week

6. Easter with 2 of Laura's college friends joining us for the holiday weekend

7. All those unexpected twists and turns that cannot be predicted. wonder I want to stay ahead of the wave. If not, I'll be buried. I'm racing fast to keep moving forward but I hear the roar behind me loud and clear.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Ahead of the Wave

I've changed the title of my blog. I never much cared for the original: Born in Aruba which then morphed into Born in Aruba, Living in Seattle. Striking me as rather plain, boring and factual, I decided to try a title with more pizazz, something that raises a question rather than answers one.

In this month of March I identify with the metaphor of riding the wave, hoping to stay on the down slope, harnessing the power of the forward movement, crafting the strategy, and above all feeling the exhilaration of the moment. On the other hand, the image just as easily connotes a tension filled perspective as the wave seeks to overwhelm and bury me in the rush of life's momentum. We may have strategies but in the end, we are not in control. From which voice does this "Ahead of the Wave" title spring? I would have to say from both. Each day seems like a serious ride to somewhere for me; the destination may be the shore, another wave, or just the endless blue. Navigational skills are critical; I spend most of my energy cultivating these.

Let's ride the wave but keep ahead of it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


One of my favorite phrases describes my physical and mental body perfectly today: "hammered dog meat". People always gasp and then laugh when I say this. I usually end up prefacing my remark with "as we say in Texas, I feel like"........hammered dog meat although I don't really know the origin of this expression. Seems as though Denny and I picked it up when we lived in Houston; perhaps we heard it come out of the mouth of infamous trauma surgeon "Red Duke" at Hermann Hospital during our training days. No offense to dogs (I love them) but somehow hammered any-other-meat just doesn't convey the meaning quite as well.

I have not slept well for three days. Last night there was a drive back into the hospital (rarely happens) to supervise an urgent dialysis which got me back home around 1:30 AM. I'm way too old for these hours and no amount of caffeine provided the beneficial effect that yesterday's jolt gave me. I'm fuzzy, frazzled and restless. But, the good news is that I'm off work until late March; between a few vacation days and my knee surgery, there will be a break from the work routine. Certainly other "stuff" will fill in the time but tending to kidneys won't.

As for "hammered dog meat", let it just stand as it is; an exhaustion beyond the usual, enough to qualify me as road kill. One good night's rest and I'll likely be good as new, like the cartoon characters who get flattened by the steam roller and "poof", appear lively and rejuvenated in the next frame.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Desert Island Must Haves

This morning my body felt dead. After sleeping all night on the couch in Mom and Dad's apartment, curled up under a throw that didn't quite cover me, getting up a few times in the night to assist Mom to the bathroom and then hearing the knock from the relief caregiver at 6 AM whilst in a deep sleep had me feeling less than my best.

But, after a grande Americano and a couple of regular aspirin, I was amazed at the transformation. I morphed into an alert, positive person, full of insights, energy and a bit of passion for my work. Notice, I said "a bit" of passion for my work.

I've been trying to cut back on coffee. Denny points out that this is "dumb" since I've been hooked since age 16 and have probably only done without less than a dozen times in our entire marriage. Once before a scheduled elective surgery, I got up hours before just so that I could get my coffee in before the cut off time. Perhaps what I'm trying to do is cure my insomnia; at least that's what I tell myself. Yesterday was a coffee-free day (only tea) and I felt dull and limp all day. Sometimes after a respite from the brew and a then a sudden blast (as in this morning), the jolt is overwhelming, like raw fuel pouring into the engine of an F 16.

And so, my must-haves in the category of "drugs" for the desert island are the following:
1. coffee
2. aspirin
3. imitrex

I can do without the alcohol, narcotics, nicotine, chocolate, or the female equivalent of viagra (if that ever appears). Just the basics to keep my head clear and pain free. These three are the bomb.

I can't give up the coffee just yet. Maybe I don't need to.