Friday, October 31, 2008

What Not to Watch

It's my day off. I'm indulging my cold by staying mostly in bed, and I was indulging Karen for awhile by watching, What Not to Wear. Today's show was about a tiny woman who shopped in the junior section. It's hard for small women to find clothes. There used to be a couple of shops in Anchorage that catered to small women. Well, no that wouldn't have worked, because small women don't eat, but it did sell them clothes. They're gone now, but there are a couple of stores that sell to larger women, and they're busy, you can't even get through the doors. They're thinking of larger doors.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

In the Kitchen With Zippy

I was a little rude to one of my customers yesterday. She came to the door because she heard me saying loudly, "Are you there, are you there?", and I was all, "What?" to her.
I had been on the phone with my daughter and Karen's doctor's office all morning because Karen has been so confused and weak, and then suddenly, there she was on the phone seeming almost completely normal.
She's been, we think, suffering from low sodium levels that her doctors aren't treating. Yesterday we took matters into our own hands, or handles, as it were, and just starting salting everything she ate, using jerky as our standard measure of saltiness. It seems to have worked, but, of course, a woman who has been suffering from edema for the last couple of years, probably can't stay on this regimen for long. It's like cooking on a tightrope, while an angry mob of monkeys throws doctors at you.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Oh, And Another Thing

For being in such a literally visceral profession, doctors and nurses use a curiously bloodless jargon. They gave Karen some medicine to relax her before sending her to the MRI. As they were injecting it, hey presto,  her blood oxygen saturation dropped from 98% to 90% and then all the way down to 80% and she stopped responding to her name. They slapped some oxygen on her and sent her on her way. They told the transport guy to be sure and keep a monitor on her since she had de-satted. 
I suppose all people with  careers that involve blood and despair find a vocabulary to insulate themselves from the horrors they see every day. For example, I'm sure it's much easier for mass murderers to think of themselves as ethnic cleansers. See, cleansing, it's a good thing. 

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Postal Supervisors Are a Necessity. Necessity is the Mother of Invention. Ergo, Postal Supervisors Are What?

Today they announced they're changing where our mail trucks park. They didn't really announce it; the news just dribbled out. The rationale is that subs can't find their trucks since they currently aren't in route order. One carrier pointed out to our new supervisor that if they couldn't read the map of the garage, they shouldn't be delivering mail. Later that same day, that same supervisor drove up to me on the route and asked where a certain street was. 
It's as if the post office is continually re-inventing the wheel, without ever realizing that what makes wheels so cool is that they're round. 
Yesterday at the hospital one of the nurses made Leah so angry. She didn't seem to take the infection control protocols seriously. I thought Leah might be over-reacting until I noticed how she was cleaning the cap on the PICC line going into Karen's arm.

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's Almost Halloween, and Karen's Doctors Are Pretty Scary

Today at the school where I deliver mail, the secretary invited me to guess how much the pumpkin in the office weighed. I guessed 53 pounds which was way, weigh off. As a math project, the older kids are measuring the pumpkin's circumference, and the home-ec kids are dividing that by 3.14 to make pumpkin pi.
That's about as far as I got today, because Leah and Ambre couldn't wake Karen and she was sort of twitching, so they called me, I told them to call the home health nurse and she told them to call 911. I came home and Karen was awake and mad, but nothing would do, but another ambulance ride to the hospital, another eight hours in the ER and then bounced out. The ER doctor said she was fine. She's home now and still barely awake and sort of twitching; another triumph of the medical arts.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Love You Sarah Palin, But Someone is Coming Between Us.

Another day, another doctor's visit.
Ralph Nader is starting to sound less and less crazy. I don't think he even minds that he might take votes away from Obama.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Here's Something Irritating Although If You Don't Work at the PO It's Going to Seem Sort of Random and Jargon-Filled. How Irritating

I got two letters from the postal service today. One was about the FMLA case that they still haven't approved, and the other was from the District Manager saying that times are tough, but one way they're saving money is by cutting back on supplies. All well and good, I guess, if they were writing to school children or idiots, but where I work, they just hauled out all our perfectly usable cases, and replaced them with new cases that are almost as good as the old ones. Okay, that's a lie, they're nowhere near as good as the old ones, they're just maddeningly impossible to work with. I thought I could be so clever and sneak back and get dividers since I have one of the few routes that the old dividers would still work on, but they had the janitor throw the (perfectly usable) shelves and dividers in the dumpster. So, thousands of dollars to turn p/u equipment into trash, but just try and find a freakin' rubber band during Austerity Days here at the Penny-Wise-Pound-Foolish Office.
See Comment for link context.

The Mask Comes Off

I never saw the Mission Impossible movie, but I think there's a scene where a character pulls off their face and turns out to be Tom Cruise. In a move that can only be compared to finding out that your companion is a monster a la Tom Cruise, or maybe that sweet Bathilda Bagshot is really Nagini, health insurance companies are finally admitting that they are not primarily involved in healthcare at all. Here's an excerpt from an LA Times article:
Federal banking regulators insisted on classifying WellPoint as a healthcare company. And that was interfering with its efforts to open a bank.

The Federal Reserve Board eventually agreed that the company's core insurance business could be considered financial services. But what about its mail-order pharmacy and its program for managing chronic diseases, which was overseen by WellPoint doctors and nurses? Wasn't that healthcare?

WellPoint finally convinced the Fed that those activities were merely "complementary" to its main business -- financial services. It pledged to limit them to less than 5% of total revenue...

"We want the customer to be empowered," Rowan said.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Good News, The Pump's Fine

Our friend Ambre was with Karen yesterday. She called me and told me I was supposed to call Ivy Infusion so they could tell me that they tested the pump and it was fine. I couldn't bring myself to do it, though. I really don't care if the pump's fine; it should be, it just took 3 days off.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Opposite of a Bad Thing Must Be...

a different bad thing. Awhile ago, Karen's pump thought it was empty, so it stopped pumping, even though in reality it was still half full. Today, the nurse came to change the bag of medicine because it was time and the pump said it was nearly out, but no, it had only claimed to be pumping for the last few days and Karen (who has been complaining about being in so much pain) wasn't getting any medicine at all.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Safari can’t open the page... because it can’t find the server “”.

That was the response to a link I got in a brochure from the postal service offering me early retirement. It's just as well that apparently the offer was a prank, since I can't afford my life now, better yet on 3/5 pay. I'm not sure I could tell the difference anyway, considering how little I've worked lately. I had hoped to be able to go to  work today by getting three ladies to come and stay with Karen, but only one returned my call and she would have had a tough time ignoring me since I actually found her on the street a block from here and followed her until she said she would do it. That covered two hours, which allowed me to go grocery shopping. That was nice since I was getting tired of moths flying out every time I opened the refrigerator. 
Anyway, how could an inquisitive person ever leave the postal service with opportunities like these?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Beware the Medical-Industrial Complex

Karen's doctor called me yesterday and told me that Karen had to be admitted to the hospital; I had to take her as soon as I got home from work. She called back to say that although she had tried to get Karen admitted directly, we would have to present at the ER and then they would read her notes and admit Karen. Except, they didn't. They did blood work, and checked her vitals and sent us home a little after midnight.

I say that Karen's doctor called me yesterday. In truth, just before she hung up, she said she didn't want us to think of her as Karen's primary care doctor. This, after more than a year of agreeing with us how good it was to have Karen's pain and family practice doctors together in one clinic.
"And never a human voice comes near
To speak a gentle word:
And the eye that watches through the door
Is pitiless and hard:
And by all forgot, we rot and rot,
With soul and body marred."~from the Ballad of Reading Gaol

Thursday, October 16, 2008

You Know I'm a Mailman, Right?

Karen's doctor called me at work today and asked me why Karen wasn't admitted to the hospital yesterday.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

She's Still No Fun

Today, Karen was at her doctor's office when, on the way back to the exam room, she fell right over.  I was all, "Oh, she's just looking for attention," but the doctor thought that maybe the falling over and the twitching that's started recently might indicate some kind of problem. Perhaps her extremely low sodium and potassium levels were to blame, and since they not only can cause muscle weakness, but also cardiac problems that need to be monitored, she should go back to the ER. Oh, and in an ambulance, because, "David, you'll be all by yourself in the parking lot and if she falls, you won't be able to get her back up." I thought maybe they could help me get her in the car, but no, paramedics were called.
At the hospital, it took hours before they did anything, and they never did monitor her heart or even her pulse, nor did they give her potassium, they gave her magnesium because apparently those two minerals like to hang out together.
While we were there, I realized this might be the part of a new tradition; it was a year ago today that Karen fell, and broke her arm and ended up in the ER.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Maybe Gilligan Was the Wrong TV Metaphor

Maybe instead of referring to Karen's Medical Mystery Tour as Gilliganesque, I should have compared its plot twists about innocents marooned in incomprehensibility to Lost. The difference being that Gilligan played its castaways for laughs.
We recently started the third month of so-called recovery since Karen's day surgery went bad. To celebrate, yesterday Karen came upstairs for the first time since August and looked around a little like a prairie dog. Things had changed a little. For one thing, it was snowing. Some things stay the same, as Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr pointed out (so long ago that no one remembers who said it, which happens all the time, which in a very neat and contained way makes his point). After two months of nursing Karen, I'm still waiting for the Post Office to approve my request for FMLA leave.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Classical and Modern Combined in One Man, One Man Who, Rather Than Cleaning the House, Is, Even Now, Sitting in a Recliner Blogging

According to Wikipedia, " More than other sins, the definition of sloth has changed considerably since its original inclusion among the seven deadly sins. In fact it was first called the sin of sadness or despair."
Um, I've taken Zoloft for the last seven years, do I have to say anything else to show my classical bona fides for this original meaning of sloth? I hope not, because it sounds like a lot of work, and, also according to Wikipedia, "Current interpretations... portray sloth as being more simply a sin of laziness or indifference, of an unwillingness to act, an unwillingness to care rather than a failure to love God and his works."
I don't want to brag, sin number seven, and the root of all other sins, but if I was any more slothful, I'd be hanging upside down from a branch eating leaves.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Perspective is All

 I was followed all day by a pair of supervisors evaluating the latest adjustment to my route. I was afraid that they might not have had enough cold weather gear for our first snow fall. It turns out they did: a Jeep Cherokee.  I'm pretty sure that from inside their heated automobile, my job looked like a pleasant walk through  swirling, downy feathers of joy. I know from where I was trudging up slippery driveways, it looked like they were just sitting on their keisters all day.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

One Step Back and Running in Place

Don't you just hate those people that take two steps forward before they take one step back?

 Yesterday, after my sketchy trip to the pharmacy, Karen took some Sudafed and felt much better. Some nurses with needles came by in the afternoon and made seven unsuccessful  attempts to draw blood from Karen's arms (which are made of turnips). They finally took it from the PICC line. While this was easy, it wasn't their first choice since the blood was to be tested for its antibiotic level.
Last night, her headache returned with a vengeance, no wait, that was Bruce Willis, her headache returned with nausea and kept her awake all night, and me awake intermittently. Today I took her to the doctor who took one look at her lab results from yesterday and said, "These aren't the tests I ordered."
So more blood draws today, from the PICC line at least, and another trip to the doctor tomorrow.
One huge bright spot, though. Grilled salmon and broccoli from Jan DeYong. Those of you who have eaten at the DeYong's know what she's capable of in the kitchen. The rest of you, be jealous, very jealous.

Monday, October 06, 2008

"She's No Fun, She Fell Right Over"

 Today was the first day in almost 2 months that Karen was to be left alone for a short time during the hours that Leah and I would both be at work. While I was getting ready, she was using her walker, when she appeared to swoon and then topple over. I was there, and caught her and helped her back to a chair where she could sit down and then I called in.
She claims she's dizzy from a sinus/ear thing, and asked for Sudafed yesterday. I don't know when the last time you bought Sudafed was, but as an ingredient in meth, it's  pretty strictly regulated. I tried to buy her some, but the pharmacy at Safeway was out. This morning I went to a different pharmacy. I'm sure I looked a little sketchy standing there when they unlocked the door at 9am, needing a prescription for pain meds and a box of Sudafed.

Friday, October 03, 2008

I Hate Hate Crimes. Wait, Can We Say That?

I really do think the concept of hate crimes is pretty stupid. We already have laws against murder, assault and what have you; it shouldn't matter what the mindset of the perpetrator was, the victim is just as dead or beat up. I don't suppose it's even completely possible, given the state of our technology, to know for sure what the criminal was thinking about while committing his crime. I think designating something a hate crime is just a way for certain people that think a certain way to feel better about themselves.

Alaska is a very large state, one fifth the size of the continental United States. Even though some of it is mountainous, and some is wetlands, there's still a lot of land available for landfills. No one has convinced me that it is more environmentally responsible to ship cans and paper Outside than it is to bury it here. Regardless, Anchorage residents are being forced into curbside recycling and paying more for the service. One of my customers, a few weeks ago, was telling me how great this program was. I told her that I didn't believe in recycling, but, and here I was sputtering a little, I rode a bike instead of driving a Suburban like she did. I'm sure she feels good about her choice to recycle, but why drag the rest of us into it?

Since, in my own mind, I'm such an environmental wunderkind (I don't which is more pathetic, that I think I'm all that, environmentally, or that I think I can still be any kind of "kind") and we're having a little snow mixed with rain today, it might be time to put my brand new Nokian 294 studded tires on my bike. I'm pretty excited.

I'm a Blogger, Does That Qualify Me to be a Pundit?

Some of the real pundits are saying that Palin won on style, and Biden on command of the facts. A writer at National Review hints that the reason Biden had the facts at his command was because he made them up on the spot.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

It's The Water

And, if it wasn't the water, it would be some other damn thing. It turns out that besides battling meningitis and high blood pressure, Karen is suffering from water intoxication. It's apparently not too severe, she's just been told to lay off the water and get plenty of soda and juice. Maybe now, she'll stop breaking her bottle of Evian and yelling, "I can take on the lot of you."
They removed her Wound-Vac a little while ago. We hope that it will be easier now for her to move around without ending up like a portable maypole.