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Archive for August, 2011

Every time my mother has felt ill, she has reminded me that she has written her obituary and it is in the computer.

The woman has had two strokes, two TIA’s,  breast cancer, and a total of 24 surgeries or procedures in her 89 1/2 years of life.  She has about everything wrong with her heart that can be and the 24th procedure was this month.  So, you can well imagine that I have kept that thought in my mind:  “My obituary is in the computer.”

We thought she was having a third heart attack for the month and took her into the emergency room in intense pain.  Luckily, and I say this with all my heart, she got a good physician (this time) in the ER.  Last time she was in (this month) she was in for six hours and had a second chest x-ray after three hours because they just realized it was blurry.   This doc knew right away that he was not dealing with a heart attack and ordered an MRI on her abdomen.

They found a larger gall stone had fallen into a duct and was blocking the area between her liver and intestines.  Her liver was enlarged.  She was in immense pain and in an ambulance some 50 miles to Indiana University Medical Center.

We have spent most of our time since at Indiana Medical Center and found it to be the best, ABSOLUTE BEST, bunch of nurses, student nurses, doctors, interns, cleaning staff, people on earth.  The one ‘poor quality’ nurse really stood out after seeing so many who rushed in to help her to the bathroom just because they heard her tell us she was going to need to go soon.  She rarely had to push a button.

We were told that she had two options and neither was good.  If they did not do surgery she would die and if they did surgery, there was a 70% chance she would die.  That night, when I went back to her apartment to pick up some things for her, I turned on the computer and looked for her obituary.  I had already grabbed the name of the mortuary.

There was NO OBITUARY.  What there was, was a read-only file called obituary.  I did not tell mom that this document, that I presumed she had worked on so hard, was blank.

Ten days, a PIC line (which is a line they put in after no one can bear to stick her again since her blood clots in the needles anymore), and a procedure later, she was recovering and I got up the nerve to tell her about the missing file.  Her response:

“Oh, I know that.  I haven’t written it yet.”

WTF, is she just playing with my head?

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Conversation with mother (age 89) yesterday, after she had a heart attack in the morning and fell in the evening and was doped up on painkillers.

Setting: Her apartment.  I’m trying to get her tucked into bed.

MOM: You need to move that fan.

ME:  You want it closer?

MOM:  and close that window.

ME: You love the evening breeze on you.  It’s not going to rain so why not just enjoy the open window?

MOM: Because you are going to yell at me about the stuff.

ME:  “What stuff?”

MOM:  You know, the wet stuff.

ME: (pause)  Not really sure I know what wet stuff you are talking about; let alone when have I yelled at you.

MOM:  It gets damp and you yell at me because I’m not turning on the air-conditioner.

ME:  OHHHH!  When it is 98 degrees out, at 2pm, and really humid and you are sitting in your apartment panting, and having trouble breathing, because of your COPD, yes, I want you to close the window and turn on the air-conditioning.  But, it’s night out now and dry and there’s this nice cool breeze.  So, why not enjoy it?  You love sleeping with the windows open.

MOM:  Okay!

By this time, she is almost in bed.

Two seconds later, as she has all of her medicines and her cold water to drink.

MOM:   You need to move that fan.

ME: (foolishly thinking this issue was settled)   Why do you want the fan moved.

MOM: Because you are going to yell at me about the water.

ME:  If you are talking about the humidity, I only worry about it when you are having trouble breathing during the day.  But, it’s a nice cool night and you like the window open.

Mom is now tucked in and as I am turning out the lights, I hear,

MOM:  You need to move that fan.

ME:  Good night, mom.  Sweet dreams.

About about fans and windows, I’m sure.

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Martha Southgate author of “The Taste of Salt” was complaining about the movie “The Maid” on CNN.   Then, on comes one of the actresses and says something like, that she had to debate doing the movie because she had trouble with doing a part (that of the maid in 2011), that being a maid is demeaning.

Now, don’t shoot me if I misunderstood because far be it for me to get anything wrong and run with it, but I’m not about to stop now.

EXCUSE ME!?!

Is being a ditch digger demeaning?  Is it more demeaning to be a lawyer than a doctor or a babysitter than a waitress?

Were these maids possibly treated in a demeaning manner?  HELL YES!

But, were they also doing an honest day’s work for less than an honest days wage to feed their families?  HELL YES!!

No matter what society you live in, you do the best you can with what you are given.

I grew up in the 50s, in a household that did not believe that women should go to college.  Women  were to be taken care of, (all the while they are cleaning the toilets, that  is.)  Did I finally get my butt through  college?  Yes, I did.  Did I pick the best vocation for the    money?  Well, no!

I started off in pre-law.   Made straight A’s and thought about doing something, other than being a  lawyer in this vein.  Then, I got a  divorce and needed to work to support my girls.  So, I became a legal secretary.   It was there, I was good at it and it was a wage.  I never once thought about it being demeaning  to be a secretary rather than a lawyer.

I have, however, been treated in a VERY demeaning manner by bosses, and then I have had other bosses who treated me like family.

In the end, I’m an artist and there is definitely a reason  why they call it us “Starving artists.”   I have my hand in about five separate ways to
make a living.  I get $200 here and $20 there.  I don’t care if I paint toilets,      there is nothing about working any job that is demeaning.

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Husband has a faulty electrical energy field.  Watches break within minutes of him wearing  them, answering machines stop working, clocks run backward.  There is no end to the mayhem that is my husband.

Once, he went to pick up a brand new refrigerator and by the time he got it home, the only side that was not scratched, dented   or banged was the BACK!  THE BACK!  For crying out loud, couldn’t he have let me have one side???

So, when he was finally given a cell phone (he was the last  to receive one in the family and we were all in trepidation over the gravity of giving him a cell phone), we all held our breath to see what would happen.

It didn’t take long for the phone to fight back.  It repeatedly talks to him when he pulls it out of his pocket to see what time it is.   (Since he cannot wear a watch.)

PHONE:   “Do a command.”

Husband fumbles with buttons.

PHONE:  “DO A COMMAND!”

Husband opens and closes lid.

PHONE:  “LIKE, Call home!”

Okay, his phone is obviously “like, a valley girl.”

Husband begins pushing buttons.

PHONE:  “Calling Home.”

Me:  “Hi.  Whatcha’ want?”

Husband:  “I wanted to know what time it was.”

Me: Pause.  “Ah, if you open the lid of your phone you will see what time it is.”

Husband:  “That’s what you think!”

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I come from a line of worriers.  Dad would faithfully watch the news each day and that would give him a whole new set of problems to worry about.  A car drove through a house somewhere in the country and now we must be on alert for rampaging cars.  A girl was attacked.  Then, we were going to be attacked.  He was sure of it as sure as he was that everyone was out to get him.

I’m sure he would have had a field day in this post 9/11 world.  He already avoided large cities because people were mugged in large cities, there was traffic in large cities and everything cost more in large cities.

My mother, having lived with my dad for well over fifty years, has absorbed some of his worrying.

The other day, I received a call from her. The doctor recently asked Hospice to begin attending to mother.  She lives alone, in an apartment and has not been eating well.  She has four very bad leaky heart valves and by the time she has buttered her bread, to make a sandwich, she is so tired that she has to go and sit down and rest.  It can often take her an hour to make a sandwich and by then, she’s just too tired to eat it.

The latest thing is that they are bringing her out a hospital bed.  She has trouble getting into her craftmatic, twin bed.  It is high and she has to sit on the edge and roll and grab the opposing side of the mattress to pull herself the rest of the way up.  This is fraught with the possibilty of her falling out, so a hospital bed can be lowered to a more amenable height for her.

She called me today with a question she has already inquired about two other times.

What happens, with Hospice, if I don’t die in six months?

My first response really wanted to be something like, “Just what are you going to do about this?”

But, mom doesn’t get my sense of humor and I really did not feel like her dying was a good thing to joke about.  So, I again explained that should she not die in six months, they will reevaluate her health status and then resign her up as needing care.  This is presuming that her heart has not miraculously healed itself in six months time.  Should that happen, we will bring back her craftmatic bed for her to use, as “yes, at that time, they would take her hospital bed away.”

There is no date stamped on her.  She may live six years.  We have explained that the doc is not saying, “You have six months to live.”  He’s just saying, “you need help to live a rich, full, safe, life.”  Just enjoy it, Mom.  After 89 years, you have the right to have someone come and help you make a sandwich and dust.

Surely, there are more important things to worry about than where her craftmatic bed is.

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I love to find bloggers who can make me laugh and I think I have discovered one of the best.  http://thebloggess.com/2011/06/and-thats-why-you-should-learn-to-pick-your-battles/   The Bloggess is hysterical.  I forwarded it to Facebook and got a comment right away from someone who tried it and loved it.  My daughter then wrote me and said that she was laughing so hard she was crying and her husband was looking at her like she was nuts.

When I find a blog like this, my main thing is to read as many old entries as I can.  That is the only thing about The Bloggess, it’s really hard to find/read her past entries.

But, they are all priceless hysterical gems.

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I would love to have natural humor in my writing.

My humor is of the more dry kind.  Someone is having a conversation and I pop in with a blatently obvious observation that no one else will dare to say.

Okay, example:  I graduated from the School of the (Museum) of the Art Institute of Chicago.  You study all forms of art, 2-D, 3-D, 4-D, etc.  We had attended a show of some performance art, where a young man is naked in a cage and trying to pleasure himself.  (It is the Art Institute); lots of naked, lots of angst.  The class was discussing the ‘purpose’ of the performance and what we learned from it.  I, one of the older students, opens my mouth and out pops, “That it’s harder to come in public than you think.”

To me, it was just one of those rules of nature that everyone should know, but the class spent the next five minutes ROFLOL.  (See, I’m not as old as you think.)

Often, when I say these things, I don’t even realize it’s going to be funny.  This makes it hard for me to write humor.  I’ve had a lot of ‘things’ going on in the last year; ill health of family members, ill health of pets, the financial situation, idiots, etc.  Not a lot seems funny to me and I have made a point of going back through my book and MAKING some funny.

I used to read my daughter’s blog, BRAINDEBRIS  at http://braindebris.wordpress.com/, for lessons in funny.  AND, AND, that girl has started blogging again.  That girl is funny in her sleep and it is just all so natural.  I also have a niece who has you in stitches all the time.  I have just discovered, from one of my other favorite blogs, EpBOT at http://www.epbot.com/, to the Bloggess’ blog:  http://thebloggess.com/2011/06/and-thats-why-you-should-learn-to-pick-your-battles/  This one goes to the top of my list, right alongside http://www.crazyauntpurl.com/  BECAUSE, everyone should have a 5 foot tall metal chicken.

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