A Fairy Tale Birthday

My granddaughter, Issie, just had the perfect birthday celebration for a princess-obsessed 3 year old.

First, getting to spend three days at an amusement park with the undivided attention of both parents is pretty awesome. What child wouldn’t be having fun? Add to that the attentiveness and playfulness of the Disney character actors.

Here are some of my favorite photos from the adventure:

I thought it was pretty awesome that she wore her Halloween Cinderella dress on one day. I wish I could have done that! I plan to ask her to wear it and tell me Cinderella’s story when I visit next month.

Her favorite rides were the Tea Cups and the Ferris Wheel. I never liked the Ferris Wheel because I didn’t like getting stopped on top during the loading and unloading. This one had a cage, not like the old (ancient?) ones I remember, so maybe it would be better. But I always loved Tea Cup rides.

And it’s such fun to see how much she’s grown On her first birthday, wearing the cake was more fun than eating it!

Blast From The Past

This post – Yrs. faithfully – reminded me of the occasional odd electronic conversation I used to have with my youngest daughter in the ’90s. Remember the ’90s?

(Note: the memories he invoked have little to do with his essay other than the importance of the people doing the communicating. There’s much more there than what I reminisce about here.)

She used to send messages to me in my *office* via my printer from her bedroom. Yes, we had a home network facilitated by Cat5 cables (and Windows 95/98) strung from one end of the house to the other. These were not installed, they merely laid on the floor, also facilitating tripping and making vacuuming and mopping more fun. Not that I did a lot of vacuuming or mopping.

Believe it or not, we had 3 telephone lines into the house in those days. One was the primary voice number, it’s secondary line being the daughter’s line. The other was another “line 1” for either fax or modem, mostly modem. A 56k modem which usually worked at 24k… because the lines were noisy. But we were wired, folks… wired.

My older daughter communicated through writing also, but not nearly as easily. There’s 6 1/2 years difference in their ages… and the ability to communicate a passing thought was much easier for the younger one than for the older, I think… because the younger one had the electronic advantage.

Now, through email and Facebook, we can all share our immediate thoughts much more easily and readily than ever before. Not to mention photos. I love digital photos!

Mr. Kinsell writes:

Properly used, the communications technology we now enjoy makes a whole lot of things easier and less time-consuming so that we can actually spend more time and energy on what’s really important.

Exactly. The key words there? “Properly used” and “what’s really important”.

The Case Of The Disappearing Cell Phone Batteries

Until yesterday, this was “the case of the disappearing cell phone battery” but now we are even more puzzled and in even greater need of someone of Nancy Drew’s sleuthing abilities.

My husband is known for many things, but not for his new-fangled electronic gadget knowledge. A little over a week ago he brought his cell-phone to me and impatiently and petulantly asked why it wouldn’t turn on.

My first response was “duh, the battery is dead” so I plugged it in to his charger, but didn’t hear the cutely annoying ditty his phone always played when plugged in. And, there was no “charging” indicator.

Hmmm… I said to myself. (I say this a lot, but that’s not important right now.)

Drawing on my years of electronic gadget knowledge, I decided that we should try the time-honored “trick” of pulling the battery out and putting it back in again. But, being a physically mechanically challenged individual, I couldn’t get the cover off the battery.

Where brute force is required to remove something, no one tops my husband (once a Marine always a Marine) and he said, “Give that to me.” So, I did and he got the cover off. I watched him do it.

And then he said, “There’s no battery in here.” Of course, I thought he simply didn’t recognize the shape and form of modern day batteries, expecting to find a 9-volt in there.

But, when he held the phone up where I could see it better, I discovered to my amazement that he was right! There was no battery in the phone!

With the power of a flash of lightning, I immediately knew that the lack of a battery was why the phone was NOT working. I’m amazing that way.

So, I ask dearest hubby why he took the battery out. He assures me he did not remove the battery. Then… because we are both old and doddering fools with less than perfect eyesight and reflexes… we figure the battery must have popped out when he took the cover off.

We were sitting in my office (otherwise known as the cave with the internet connection) when this took place and I’m a bit embarrassed to note that said battery could have popped off and been hidden anywhere.

Yep, my “office” defines clutter, trash, disarray, chaos, confusion, disorder, mess, litter, hodgepodge, and general mess. Being rational people, we figured that any place with more than an inch of undisturbed dust was not a likely spot for the battery to have landed. Thus our search area was somewhat defined.

We looked behind and underneath furniture, inside crates, laundry baskets, and other containers of “stuff” and we didn’t find the battery. We did find a discarded phone with a battery of the same size fitting the same charger and got the phone working again.

Yet, we remained puzzled. We ruminated over the time lapsed since the last call from or to that phone and who might have had access to it during that time. We called the one person we thought might know of a new trend of stealing batteries from phones… and endured the derision of the common sense thinking that suggested they would simply steal the entire phone.

And, we carefully examined the list of pranksters we know. Oh, yes… there are people we know who would delight in seeing us puzzled, bemused, confused, bewildered, baffled, rattled, and addled.

The worst part of this was that my dear loving untrusting husband considered me the prime suspect in this case. Maybe it was not quite so often, but it seemed to me that he asked at least seven times a day if I was yet ready to tell him where the battery was.

I swore, upon pain of everlasting blisters on my left little toe, that I had nothing to do with the disappearance of his cell phone battery. Finally, I think he came to believe me.

The most logical explanation he could come up with otherwise was that one of us was sleep-walking and had, um… perhaps, accidentally removed the battery. Except that he obviously thought that since I like sleeping so much, it must have been me doing the sleep-walking.

Not a chance, I countered. If I really wanted to mess with him I’d have hidden his keys and glasses. He countered that was silly because he couldn’t find those anyway. I had to concede he had a good point.

So… we come to yesterday. Saturday mornings my hubby and his biker friends regularly gather for breakfast, gossip, and tall tales. I regularly skip this meeting preferring sleep.

On the way home from this meeting… Mr. Coordinated (aka dear hubby) drops his cell phone in a public restroom. Now, he swears he saw it fall… and that that back did not fall off. He states, for the record, that when he was through with his business he put the cell phone back in it’s holder and that the battery cover was not loose.

A very few minutes later while on the interstate, he tries to make a call. Nothing happens. The phone is deader than a door nail. Knowing himself not to be a virtuous battery charger, he plugs the phone into the car charger.

Uh Oh. No melodious response, no lights, no cute graphic of a battery charging. Being a cautious man, he pulls over before he takes the cover off to discover there is — again — no battery in his phone.

Obviously this is not a fluke, as there is no sign of good luck to be found in this mystery.

Upon finding that a replacement battery cost $48 (since we’d run out of superflous phone batteries), my darling decided to purchase a new phone complete with battery for $29.95.    

If the battery in this new phone stays where it’s supposed to be, I supposed we’ll have to conclude that the other (refurbished, mind you) phone was haunted in some way.

UPDATE: One of the batteries has appeared in the comments. This is truly amazing, folks.

A New Life Is A New Hope

Sometime around the 7th of April, I will be the fortunate grandmother of a newborn granddaughter.

Her 19 week sonogram showed her to be perfect and healthy. I’m anxiously awaiting my grandma cuddle time with her as well as wondering what joy I will experience in watching her 3 year old sister interact with her newborn baby sister.

Until today, we all wished for a baby boy… but we all wished for that perfect and healthy even more. And now, after a few hours I find it difficult to think of this child as anything other than a perfect and healthy girl, though as recently as last week I thought of a perfect and healthy boy.

It does not matter. The most awesome and inspiring thing about having a child is the inability to imagine life without them. Once born, once cuddled, once held it is as that child has been a part of your life forever.

So, even though in reality it’s been only 30+ years that my daughter has been in my life… it feels wonderfully as if it is forever. And with each child my daughter bears, forever is extended exponentially, geometrically, and beyond.

Love cannot be explained by science.

Thinking About Christmas Already

Halloween just isn’t a big deal for us since we have no young’uns living here and have had no trick or treaters in the last 5 years. The last thing we need is a bowl of candy sitting around for us to eat. And we would. We are not that strong.

This year of not having Thanksgiving or Christmas plans is an example of what’s going to happen occasionally since we share our children and grandchildren with other families. It often works out that we get one or the other and we have no problem exchanging Christmas gifts at Thanksgiving.

So, for me there is no big Thanksgiving celebration to get in the way of Christmas shopping. It will all have to be done in time to allow for shipping, so I might as well start now.

Especially, since I got a call this morning from one daughter who informed she’d just found the perfect Christmas gift for me and already purchased it. Another daughter sent out the Christmas/birthday wish list for a granddaughter today too. I really appreciate these lists because it’s hard to keep up with what they already have and neither set of grandparents or aunts and uncles want to send duplicate gifts.

Thus I have been wasting time perusing Amazon and other toy sellers. And you know what? I’m not that impressed by most of the items. Far too many of the toys for the 3-5 age range are not interactive, or would likely be boring after used once or twice. Far too many of the toys for 2 year olds are still listed as appropriate for 5 year olds.

Also, just how comfortable should a parent or grandparent be purchasing a puzzle of the U.S. that contains only 45 pieces??

I am having fun. I’ve found the absolute perfect gift for one grandchild and some pretty good ones for the others. Of course, I’ll keep looking because that’s my gift to myself! That, and trying to figure out just how much I can get away with in the way of musical instruments and chemistry sets.

Punishment Or Training?

There is nothing more that I would like to post here than that I was a wonderful, perfect parent. That would be such a lie. I was young, intelligent, but uneducated, and married to a man who was young, intelligent, uneducated, and an abusive alcoholic  to top it all.

It’s a damn wonder any of my children survived to be successful adults. Some people, upon hearing of the success of my children have congratulated me on being a wonderful parent. So uninformed they are! My children are successes despite my parenting more than because of it.

Though… I did have a few good points here and there. I was not evil, and never did anything designed to beget failure. I was just, for the most part, not aware that what I was doing might hurt them. I was aware of never wanting to hurt them… but unaware that things I thought “good” for them might not be.

Razib, of Gene Expression highlights research that spanking is detrimental to children. He also highlights that the spanking tends to occur when the chilren are of the more incorrigible type and the parents less intelligent, aggressive and lacking impulse control.

Those who commented on Razib’s take give an interesting but certainly not homogenous take on the issue.  

There are numerous alternatives to spanking for training and discipline and one I’ve become fond of is “time-out”. It’s the new version of sitting in the corner, and I’ve witnessed it’s success. However, there are now psychologists and sociologist who are saying this is also detrimental.

When a Parent’s ‘I Love You’ Means ‘Do as I Say’ is a disturbing essay which ultimately suggests (IMHO) no discipline at all.

Apparently I was spanked at a fairly young age. Relatives have told me that once when I was squirming and being a pain during church, that I was repeatedly threatened with being “taken outside to be spanked” until finally I requested (in an apparently loud voice) to be taken outside and spanked”.  Though no one has specifically told me so, I suspect I did not get spanked on that occasion.

The first few spankings I do remember were half-heartedly administered along the lines of “now that I know you are safe and though I’ve thought of killing you for the suffering you put me through, this spanking will have to suffice for both of us.”

When I was older and deliberately disobeyed or ignored rules, I was also spanked, but not until I’d received the full lecture. My father was definitely the strong type, but not silent. He was eloquent in describing my failings. He could describe fluently how I’d disappointed him and made my mother sad. He could do this for hours without actually repeating himself. It was a talent. After 30 – 45 minutes of this, I was sobbing and begging for a beating because that would be so much less painful.

The “beating” was usually sort of half-hearted and never managed to assuage my guilt.

I am not defending true beatings which far too many children have been subjected to. I’m merely stating that parents have psychological weapons that far surpass a mere spanking. A mere spanking is NOT equal to a beating.

Any form of punishment can become abuse, even time-out. Somewhere recently I read that Rose Kennedy would put her children in a dark closet for an equivalent of time out. To me, that’s abuse, but it was probably not considered so at the time.

Now… back to the post title. Whether a parent swats, spanks, puts the kid in time-out, or lectures him to numbness, the effectiveness will be determined mostly by the parents’ intent: are they training or punishing? It’s my opinion that an intent to punish will, regardless the method used, do little good while an intent to train will be very effective.

Intentions, though paving the road to you know where, do have meaning.

Not-So-Fun Activities Of The Last Two Weeks

My husband had his first treatment for bladder cancer yesterday. This is his third primary cancer and, of course, he has asked, “Where next?”

Two biopsies were performed, but neither got enough muscle wall tissue to rule out the spread of the cancer there. It was a transitional papillary tumor at the top of the bladder which makes it more difficult to get a “good” muscle wall sample. Location, location, location.

His options were to assume that the cancer had not spread to the muscle wall or to assume that it had. After talking it over with his doctor, he chose to assume it had not. Removal of the bladder is still an option, but hopefully it won’t have to be done.

What is fascinating to me is the treatment when the assumption is that the tumor has not spread to the muscle wall. It consists not of chemotherapy, but of immunotherapy. In a nutshell, BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guerin), a tuberculosis vaccine is inserted into the bladder to “call” the immune system to battle the cancer.

See: Bladder cancer, Treatment and Drugs, Mayo Clinic. Also, NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines. Registration is required, but it’s free.

Because the biopsies were inconclusive, my husband was faced with the choice of trying the immunotherapy or with surgical removal of his bladder. Surgical removal is sort of a guaranteed cure, but it is also a drastic cure. My husband chose the less drastic, but less certain treatment.

We shall see.

What I’ve Been Doing The Last Two Weeks

Obviously, I haven’t been posting.

My grandchild was here for a few days. She’s 2 1/2 and very energetic. Her favorite game is “Get me” which involves first chasing her a bit then tickling her. Step two is her chasing you and “getting” you. Repeat for however many times the adult involved can stand it. The child seemingly never tires of it.

She’s a bit like her grandma in that she doesn’t wake up in the best mood. She needs a little time to adjust and I’d have offered her coffee, but figured her parents would object. When she’s getting tired, I find it amusing that she begins to refer to either of her parents as “MommyDaddy”. Either will do, as they represent a unit of comfort and safety for her. I’ve witnessed this before, but noticed it especially when she asked me to look at pictures with her.

She was, of course, fascinated by pictures of herself. I’d ask her to identify the other people in the picture. She was almost always correct. But this was often a “quiet” time activity just before her nap or bedtime and as she got tired, she began to refer to any picture of her mother or father as “MommyDaddy”. 

She’s certainly not confused as to which is which. When she meets a new person (as she did a few times when our friends dropped by while she was here), her first interaction with them is to point out who is her Momma and who is her Daddy.

One of the things I noticed is that she is quite capable of entertaining herself. This makes me quite proud.

We have a cable strung between two large pine trees in our front yard for tethering our dogs. Since my daughter’s dog, Daisy, was staying with us while they visited New Orleans, this was very useful. She’s 11 or 12 years old (got her from the pound, so no one is sure) and it just didn’t seem a good idea to house her with our two young male dogs who are larger than she is.

Daisy was indoors and my granddaughter, Issie, was outdoors with me, my husband, and a friend of his. She began playing with the cables. I was a bit nervous about this because I am an over-protective motherly type and was concerned that she’d strangle herself.

For some unknown reason, my husband had tied a length of rope on the cable. (I do not question why my husband does some things.) This rope was just out of Issie’s reach. She jumped, but could not grab it.

I was amazed when she returned to the middle of the cable where the cable leash for the dogs was attached and pulled the main cable down where she reach it and “walked” with her hands to the rope, pulling it down where she could reach it. I wish we’d taken a video of this, but I didn’t have my camera handy.

I’ve got to say that I am impressed with her problem solving skills. Perhaps I shouldn’t be, since her father is an engineer and her mother a mathematician. It’s also possible that I’m biased. But not really that likely… :-)

Also, I can announce to the world now, since my daughter has posted it on Facebook, that they are expecting another child. Needless to say I am thrilled! 

I have three other grandchildren that I do not get to see so often (as if twice a year is often) and it is my goal to somehow remedy that.

A Happy Hospital Story

For background, see here, here, and here

This morning, my father, brother, and I met with several St. Michael’s staff, including the director of the medical staff and the director of the nursing staff. It was a very cordial and informative meeting for me, and I hope it was for everyone else. We all left the room on the same side, so I’d call that success.

Of course, one thing that helped from our point of view was that the St. Michael’s staff was obviously very upset that such things had happened and were anxious to tell of us ways they’d already worked on to prevent such in the future. This, basically, is what we wanted.

The nursing supervisor on duty when my step-mom fell was devastated that something like that had happened on her watch.

We, as patients, learned a lot about how some hospital systems work. For example, we learned that when we need to call a nurse to be sure to say what we need, as they can get the message to the right person more quickly.

The director of medical staff explained some of the problems they were having implementing a hospitalist program and contracting with a separate firm for ER physicians. It was quite honest of him to say that these two groups of physicians do not always cooperate in a timely manner and explained how the hospital was working on this problem.

When we asked whether charges for the x-ray after the fall would be included in the bill, we were told it didn’t matter whether they were or not. Now this was upsetting at first – it seemed like the hospital was not taking responsibility for something they admitted was their fault.

But we were oh so wrong. That’s not it at all. My step-mom has Medicare and no matter what tests or procedures or how long she was in the hospital, they were going to paid the same, based on her problem at admission. To my way of thinking, that just ain’t right.

The final conclusion I have come to is that if the hospital staff had all got together and planned to have my father and step-mom treated as they were, they could not have planned it to be quite as bad as it was. These episodes are likely random ones and we were the unlucky family that lost the coin flip twice in a row.

Another Sad Hospital Story

See update here

A few weeks ago I wrote about an excruciating and medically scary 24 hour adventure my father experienced in an unnamed hospital. Read here and here, for that background. It’s time to name the hospital now:

Christus St. Michael in Texarkana TX.

I mentioned in that story that my step-mom was in the same hospital that my Dad was transported to. She’d had a hip replacement and was in rehab. She got out of rehab a few days after the ER fiasco and was doing pretty good getting around the house with a walker.

One morning a little over a week ago, she woke up with chest pains and too dizzy to stand. At the ER, it’s discovered she’s got a blood clot in her leg. It takes hours and hours (just like with my Dad) after the decision to admit her to actually get her admitted and out of the ER.

When she’s in her room and settled, my father goes home. Talking to him a few times that day, I chuckled at the thought that he was having some very mild PTSD symptoms from memories of his recent visit.

My step-mom is, of course, labeled a fall risk and she’s instructed by the doctor (not the same one my Dad had) to not try to get out of bed herself. Later that evening she has to go pee and presses her buzzer for assistance. And presses it and presses it and nobody answers.

She’s soon faced with a decision: Do I wet the bed or do I try to get up by myself? I don’t think anyone will be surprised that she decided to get up. And she fell. Fortunately, she wasn’t injured worse than a nasty bruise on her shoulder, but the hospital did x-ray her shoulder to make sure.

And then they addressed the issue of why no one answered when she buzzed. It was simple to fix — all they had to do was plug the buzzer in. The initial neglect in not making sure it worked when my step-mom was moved to the room is bad enough, but it was fixed now so there should be no problem, right?

When I wrote about my Dad’s experience, I made sure to compliment all the staff except the arrogant doctor and the maintenance people who didn’t show up in a timely manner. Now I don’t know whether my Dad was really lucky or whether my step-mom was just really unlucky. She didn’t get the same quality of care from the staff. Nowhere near it.

You’d think that after her falling the first night there, that the staff on that floor might have been a little extra-vigilant about answering her buzzer and responding to her requests to go to the bathroom. But that wasn’t the case. The buzzer was answered and she was told somebody would be there, but often no one showed up in what could be called a timely manner and sometimes no one showed up at all.

This hospital uses a blackboard to note patient information. In addition to noting she’s a fall risk, there’s a notation about warm packs to be placed on her legs three times a day and this was not ever done during her week long stay. Perhaps the doctor changed his mind, but the blackboard was never updated.

Shortly after coumadin was started, my step-mom started having stomach pains. She described her stomach as being on fire. Four days later, this pain was finally addressed and eased. I can’t imagine what took so long.

For two days, she and Dad pointed out to nurses that her IV was no longer working. While they all looked at it, no one did anything to fix it.

I’m not quite sure what all the problems with her bed were, but it was not comfortable. She used multiple folded blankets to try to make it better, but finally got to the point where she demanded a new bed. She got it and was then given medication to help her sleep. Or, as my Dad suspects, to “knock her out and make her shut up.”

Anyway, they tried to use the IV she’d been telling them wasn’t working for this medication, but of course it wasn’t working. They crushed a pill and gave her the medication orally. I don’t know what it was and am wondering why it needed to be crushed. She’d been taking other medications by mouth.

Ah… wait. Let’s back up a little bit. Before demanding a new bed last night, my Dad called the customer service representative that we (my sister and I) have emailed and talked with concerning the problems my Dad had while he was there. He got voice mail, of course, and left a message requesting she call him or come up to the room and talk with them.

She called him back a short time ago, approximate 20 hours after his request and five hours after my step-mom was released.

This morning when the doctor told my step-mom that her coumadin levels were good enough to be released, my Dad packed up her stuff and took them to their car. He got a wheel chair on his way back to her room and told the nurse she could mail the release paper work to them. She asked him to wait and talk to her supervisor about their problems. A half hour later, the supervisor got there and listened to their complaints and said the problems would be addressed. By that time the paper work was done and they left.

So, maybe we should just drop this right now, but we’re not. One reason is that my parents (and many many other folks) rely on this hospital. They’ve been going there for years and the problems seem to be getting worse.

My father had a stent inserted there (I’m guessing) 8 years ago. While I was sitting with him, his monitor started flashing bright colors and beeping. I looked at it and noticed his blood pressure was low. It went back up a little and the beeping stopped. But it started again soon and didn’t stop. The door to his room was open and his bed was less than 10 feet from the nurses station where his nurse was chatting with her co-workers.  I had to walk up to her to get her attention, and could clearly hear the beeping while standing beside her.

Frankly there are many other little incidents I could post about, enough to make me wonder if there’s a “systemic” problem with patient care there. Enough to make me want it further investigated before any more of my relatives are hospitalized there.

The Rest Of The Story

See update here

See the first part here.

I ended the last post with my father being admitted to the hospital for further evaluation of his dizziness, low blood pressure, and slow heart rate. Simply being in the ER had made his arthritis flare up so severely, he needed narcotic pain med to tolerate it.

Up to the floor to a nice room furnished with a bed that was, if anything, more uncomfortable than the ER cot. It was also suffering from bad wiring so that it constantly had the call light on, which effectively translate into the call light not working at all.

Except for the ER hospitalist who admitted my Dad, every person we came in contact with was friendly and trying to do their best. It’s hard to do that when you’re dealing with malfunctioning equipment and equipment that causes unnecessary pain to your patients.

After the nurse fiddled with the call light for a while and tried to figure out why it was so warm in this room, she called maintenance. What else could she do? Well, obviously maintenance was overwhelmed as they showed up 30 minutes before my Dad was discharged the next day.

In the meantime, Dad says he feels like he’s smothering, but at the same time he’s cold to the point of shivering. He insists my brother and I go home that he will be fine. This is a tough thing for us to do (for reasons I won’t post about), but we do because we don’t want to upset him by arguing with him. He said if either one of us stays, we’ll just keep him awake all night.

During the night, the inflatable mattress that’s supposed to make this hospital bed more comfortable deflates in the middle section. I believe I’ve covered my Dad’s severe arthritis and do I need to point out that this didn’t help that pain?

Also during the night the smothering feeling my Dad was complaining about has become a general shortness of breath. So let’s recap this 86 year old man’s recent onset symptoms:

Dizziness
Low blood pressure
Slow heart rate
Shortness of breath

If I have any health professionals or anyone with strong Google fu, you’ll be able to figure out what at least one probably diagnosis is.

Enter the same obnoxious hospitalist from the evening before who writes on the discharge orders to discontinue the diuretic and heart medication (which has a side effect of lowering blood pressure) that my Dad has been on for years. The written orders do not say to taper off the heart medication.

No cardiology consult was requested and no interest shown in the addition of shortness of breath to his symptoms.

My Dad is by this time ready to leave. He feels worse than when he came to the ER. And he wants to make his radiation treatment. (I don’t think I mentioned earlier that he has Stage I NSCLC.) By now all Dad wants to do is go home. So we do.

By early afternoon, the shortness of breath is bothering him much worse and he goes to his storage shed to get a 3 year old bottle of oxygen (with 3 year old tubing) that I didn’t even know he had. This makes me very unhappy and I tell him he shouldn’t even try to use it because his blood oxygen saturation had been good. He says he that can’t be true because he can’t breathe.

Fortunately, the oxygen tank and tubing aren’t working. While he’s fiddling with that I suddenly remember that he has a lung doctor! Why yes, I am really, really slow sometimes. I look at the clock and tell my Dad that we can make it there before 5 pm. We’re in the door at 4:45 pm.

After the routine vitals, the RN comes in, a nurse practioner. She questions him, checks his oxygen saturation (96) and listens carefully and thoroughly to his lungs. Thanks to electronic medical records, she can see the results of his chest xray and other information from the ER visit.

It’s then that I fell in love with this woman. She said that the hospitalist was no more qualified to order discontinuation of his heart medicine and diuretic than she was and told him he should not change it until he’s seen his cardiologist. She explained that the cough he’d seen her for two weeks before and the current shortness of breath combined with the radiation warranted a prophylactic round of antibiotics and that a round of prednisone would get him feeling decent again until he could see his cardiologist.

She explained that he had multiple risk factors for fluid build-up and that discontinuing the lasix could be dangerous.

It’s a shame we can’t all take prednisone all the time. It’s a feel good drug like no other. And since Dad’s cardiologist is out of town all this week, it will sustain his energy until his appointment next week.

I’ll be going back to my Dad’s soon, but the thing I’m undecided about is exactly how to word the nastygram I want to send about the obnoxious hospitalist and his lack of follow-up and follow-through. Fortunately my siblings are better at that kind of thing than I am.

UPDATE — July 22, 2009 (read the comments for earlier update)

This morning, I got a call from the head of the customer relations department of the hospital. The first thing she assured me of was that none of their junior volunteers would ever be asked to deal with patient or family complaints, ever.

She was very nice, apologetic, and assured me that several departments would be hearing from her about our complaints about the facilities and explained that problems with the doctor would still have to be addressed by the VP of medical staffing, but that she would also forward her notes on our conversation to him as well as the hospital CEO.

I’m Back

See update to the medical story here. 

I left last Friday to go to a niece’s wedding in Arkansas with my father. She was married on July 4th in a beautiful outdoor ceremony near Little Rock AR. The photos on the site’s page do not come close to the majesty of the setting. They do justice to the facilities, but not the nature surrounding them.

My father mentioned on the drive up there that he’d been having dizzy spells which, at first, sounded like orthostatic hypotension. He’s 86 and I really thought that this was probably natural for his age.

However, the day after the wedding, he was more than tired. He was suffering fatigue. He had no energy and no appetite. I decided to stay another day or two. In all honesty, it wasn’t just that, it was also my innate dislike of leaving wherever I am. I’m pretty much at home anywhere and hate moving. Staying another day or two sounded great to me and I have the most understanding husband in the world.

Tuesday morning, my Dad was feeling dizzy sitting down and lying down. We eliminated the possibility of it being an inner ear infection because he’s suffered those numerous times and it certainly wasn’t that bad.

We got an appointment to see his PCP Tuesday afternoon. He confirmed my father’s suspicion that his blood pressure was low and they decided to discontinue two medications that might be contributing to his problem.

We go home thinking the problem is solved. Wednesday morning, 11 am — blood pressure is 106/51. Pulse is 37. (This machine had been previously “calibrated” with an RN’s manual BP reading.) Checking BP again, the reading is 81/45 with pulse still 37. My choices are… call an ambulance (and first responders) or attempt to transport my father 40+ miles to the nearest ER.

I take my hat off to Little River County’s first responders. Before I was through giving the ambulance service all the pertinent info, a trained first responder was in the house. His BP reading was a bit higher, but he noted the pulse was irregular. Within minutes of his arrival another first responder (who also worked as an EMT for the ambulance co.) arrived and confirmed the irregular heartbeat and slow pulse rate, although the BP was within normal ranges by that time.

Keep in mind while reading all of this that my father is 86 years old.

When asked where he wants to be transported, my father names the hospital where his wife is getting rehab after a hip replacement.

His transport takes 45 minutes. During this time he is sitting up in a gurney. This means that his legs are, at best, a 45 degree angle to his torso. He is then transferred to a standard ER “bed” which is not capable of raising the knees or ankles to a comfortable position for a young person not suffering from near-crippling arthritis.

Imagine that you are 86 years old and that doctors have told you that your back/hip/knee/wrist pain is inoperable and that the best they can do is narcotic pain relievers. Imagine that you’ve always thought that you didn’t need pain medication, that your mind could overcome it.

Now you are put in the most uncomfortable position a human can be in for 4+ hours. Imagine that all your blood relatives suffer from painful arthritis. Imagine a doctor questioning you as to whether you are REALLY in pain or not… the same doctor who thinks your BP of 110/60 is fine even though you are in writhing pain.

At least this doctor listened to (or gave into) the ER nurse with 29 years experience who insisted that my father was experiencing REAL pain. She administered 3 demerol shots during the 10 hours my father was in the ER.

My father was admitted for “observation” overnight. I will post later (if I feel like it) about how that turned out.

Happy Anniversary!!!

Happy Anniversary to all my girls. It’s shameful to admit that I don’t remember the exact dates except for one. I hope the others will forgive me, but that date was seared, seared into my mind as that was my deadline for six bridesmaid dresses and a wedding gown to be finished. After five years, even that one is getting fuzzy in my head.

Please forgive my poor memory for dates. I love you all and celebrate the occasion of your marriages each time I think of you and my wonderful sons-in-law. I don’t know which is greater — my daughters’ taste in men or my son’s-in-law taste in women. Possibly both?

Though even Hallmark hasn’t marketed a card for this, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the parents of those wonderful men who married my daughters. I hope that you are as grateful for your daughters-in-law. Whatever their (minor :-) faults may be, they love your sons.

Now, a note to my sons: one of you has found a wonderful woman. Whether you eventually choose to get married or not, I’m glad you found her. To the other — never give up, but don’t fret about it either.

To my children: I love you all.

I’ve Been Living In The Real World

Since Saturday, I haven’t been online more than an hour total, and most of that was looking at proofs of my daughter’s latest family photo session. Realizing that I cannot afford 32 11 x14 prints is causing some stress!

Saturday, we had a family reunion on my mother’s side for the first time since 1994. My cousins have children and grandchildren I’d never met before. We realized we’d only been getting together for funerals for the last 15 years, and that we needed more. We had so much fun we’re planning another for next year.

All of my mother’s siblings have died. My father is the only one left of that generation in the family. We are fortunate that my oldest aunt started gathering genealogical information about the family when she was a teenager and kept at it until she was no longer able to travel. Her daughter went through one box (there are more) of her mother’s photos and distributed them to the oldest child of each sibling. What a wonderful gift that was!

My sister and I have taken the information my aunt gathered and put it into genealogy software and have continued the research. Everyone enjoyed looking at the wall chart my sister printed.

Little Sister is in the states for another week and a half, so I won’t be online much until after she goes home. I could be, but I have found that I really do not like using a laptop. My wrists are spoiled to my split keyboard and my eyes to my big monitors.

Family-wise, there’s a lot going on that’s not bloggable so I may be a bit distracted. Um, I mean more distracted. Possibly less intelligible too, if that’s possible.

Family History Confusion

Confusion coupled with a poor memory is not a pretty sight. I’ve blogged about addictive nature of genealogy and about trying to define what I want from the research. When I started this, I could keep track of people in my head to a much greater extent than I can now. I can still remember most of my straight-line ancestors, but you don’t learn a lot about their lives unless their brothers and sisters are included.

What I’d really like to have is a huge wall-chart that would show where the various ancestor’s families have married into the same group of families, for example two sisters of one family marrying two brothers of another. There’s ample evidence that these families moved together from Virginia and South Carolina westward together. So many of them ended up within a 100 miles of each other either in Texas or Arkansas.

This is a small house. I don’t have a wall that big!

But, I’ve got to get organized and soon. I’m starting here, but I realize no one “system” is going to fit my idea of what I want. I’ve got to find (or design) one that integrates my paper files with my digital ones.

If anyone reading this has suggestions, let me know!

P.S. I would be willing to trade a week of babysitting for a week of organizing! hint… hint.

ThinkHost: Pretends To Provide Webhosting, Pretends To Be Green

My LittleSister can’t get to her website dependably. Neither can I. Bet you can’t either. Nobody could yesterday. The really huge problem for LittleSister is that she can’t even get into backend to point the domain name somewhere else and just move the site.

Thing is, the tech support at ThinkHost is just horrible. Back in October, she opened a support ticket about a specific issue. It was something she’d always been able to do with other hosting providers with a few clicks – additional FTP functionality. That’s so easy on the three providers I’ve used that even I can do it.

Like a good customer, she went to their Knowledge Base for information. She found they suggest using a virtualFTP thingie (whatever that is) and that ThinkHost would set it up for a fee and it would then triple her monthly hosting fee.

The funny part is that they finally answered her original question after 15 days of telling her they couldn’t. This was after a message from tech support telling her how to cancel her account if she wasn’t happy with their service.

Now, I’ve got to let you know that I would never have signed up with this hosting service in the first place. And yeah, LittleSister knows that. She’s OK with me bursting into laughter within seconds of viewing the homepage.

What made me laugh? The logo tag: powered by wind and sun. Of course that explained LittleSister’s problem! She lives in Scotland and probably hasn’t seen the sun in several days. Yes, this is nonsense, but it’s just the way my mind works. Then again, ThinkHost is based in Portland OR and I’m wondering how much sun they’ve had recently too.

The site says “we provide world class hosting powered by renewable energy. let’s change the world together — join us today.” That is misleading because it is, of course, impossible. What they are doing (and is discussed on their site, so they’re not trying to hide it) is buying renewable energy tags, which sound a lot like carbon credits which have always struck me as similar to complex financial instruments, ie., useless and worthless paper.

Not that there’s not money to be made on carbon credits — my father owns timberland and has been approached with offers to buy his carbon credits. His scam-o-meter alerted him to the fact they don’t really make sense and he didn’t sell because he didn’t want to be involved with scammers on any side of the scam.

To LittleSister, this green thing sounded good. She is a good-hearted person and wants to do things in a way that is best for the ecology. And she’s a progressive and we agree on very little politically. But durnit, she’s my sister and she was scammed and that really irritates me.

I have little doubt that the collective at ThinkHost thinks they are doing good and no doubt at all they are trying. If they want to succeed, they are first going to have to refine that little thing about “world class” hosting. It doesn’t mean leaving your customers in the dark to save electricity.

What I do not believe for one minute is that the “green” and “progressive” angles are not marketing tools. When someone signs up for hosting with ThinkHost, they are buying conscience relief; psychological carbon credits. They are paying higher (in my opinion, at least) prices for the hosting because the company is in political agreement with them, plants a tree for each customer and gives progressive non-profits discounted hosting.

OK, that’s a bit snarky, but geez… I can’t help it! (sorry LittleSister). But you agree that non-profits are not helped by poor service and technical support. I know you do.

It occurs to me that these greenies may be simply capitalists/opportunists with a niche product designed to empty the pockets of greenies and progressives. Except they picked on my sister. Nobody should pick on my sister, ya know?

I’m through. For now. If you are in the market for web hosting, please overlook ThinkHost. How green can a site be if their service increases one’s desire to throw things which will then have to be replaced?

I’m Back! And Now I Know My ABC’s

The entire blogosphere has been on pins and needles waiting breathlessly for my safe return, I’m sure. Well, worry no more! My knees survived the 13 hour trip there and the 13 hour trip back. My son-in-law did have to prop me up for a few steps when I tried to stand after the last leg of the return trip.

Everyone should be proud of my son-in-law (and my daughter) for not getting upset with either me or my 22 month old granddaughter when it was time to get back in the car after each fill-up and potty stop. We both whined, but I wasn’t physically able to kick and scream like I really wanted to.

In fact, my granddaughter was pretty much an angel. This is in part due to the backseat video player. I’m up on a lot of kid stuff I didn’t know about before. We found Nemo twice and I know all about Elmo’s World. The best video was Leap Frog’s Letter Factory. It’s funny, colorful, and I enjoyed it as much as my granddaughter did. We had a fantastic time watching it and saying the sounds together.

The DVD has a 5-star rating on Amazon with over 500 reviews. That’s astounding. I can see why. It was actually a nice refresher course in basic phonics for me. Consider how many years it’s probably been since I was taught phonics. Just consider it, don’t dwell on it. That number is rather depressing.

It was, as always, the best Christmas ever. I can’t wait ’til next year.