Thursday, May 29, 2014

There Will Be...

I came in today and Karen was getting BLOOD. Apparently, she was a little anemic. I don't know, they didn't try spinach or Geritol.  They just said she needed blood. Like the way, pilots say it's fine when the oxygen masks fall. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Karen is on the rehab floor. She has, at least for now, the largest, nicest room. A suite, really. There are closets, drawers and a refrigerator. And space. Her last room was essentially a sliding puzzle that seemed to have no solution. And besides the luxury, she gets three hours of physical and occupational therapy. 
Here at home, we've been eating well without shopping because Sarah has been sending us food from all over the internet. At least that's how it appears to us, it's probably been on farms and stuff before we see it. A lot of it is organic including two different, delicious sauerkrauts. They have live cultures so there has been an explosion of healthy bacteria in my gut. Or at least something seems to be exploding. 
Visiting hours for Karen are four to eight pm on the fifth floor at Alaska Regional. Visits here at home are by appointment only. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Karen Jumped Through All The Hoops

Ok, that's crazy talk; Karen walked slowly and carefully through all the hoops to qualify for inpatient physical therapy, so if the doctor on that unit signs off, she will be moved tomorrow morning to begin her stint in what sounds like PT boot camp.

Monday, May 26, 2014


Karen made a second trip around the floor with only one rest last night. 
The Today Show has gradually turned into a variety show. 
Walking normally on the Ortho unit makes me feel like a show-off. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

It's Like A High-Wire Act

Karen walked the same distance today as yesterday and may even do another lap this afternoon. She didn't  have to stop and weep from pain and exhaustion this time, so it went quicker. 
Apparently, you need to be in bad shape to get into the rehab unit, but not too bad. She's walking a fine line. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Misplaced Priorities

Karen walked around the nurses station in the hospital today. That's about eight times farther than she did yesterday, which might undercut her chances of getting moved to the rehab unit  for the therapy I think she needs, so she might be sent home instead. Apparently, Karen was more interested in pleasing the physical therapist than her own husband.

Friday, May 23, 2014

This Is An Update On Karen In The Sense That I Read The Article While I Was At The Hospital

So,  J. K. Rowling and I are essentially in the same business. She aggregates letters into words, and gets paid for it, and I aggregate letters into mailboxes. So, I think I have to defend her when she's being done wrong. Solidarity, sister.
According to the New York Times, Amazon is using hard-ball tactics to muscle more money out of publishers. They have even gone so far as "...refusing orders late Thursday for coming Hachette books, including J. K. Rowling’s new novel, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith."
I don't want to be the, "When they came for the billionaires I didn't say anything because I wasn't a billionaire," guy.
I'm planning on boycotting Amazon until they stop being jerks. It should be easy to take this stand right this minute because I am stuffed full of food that came via Amazon as a gift from Sarah. Like the lady on Taxi said as she snuffed out a cigarette, "I thought quitting would be harder."

More Breaking News

The physical therapist has come and gone. Karen got farther than she did last night, but still only about 15 yards before she had to turn around. 
Based on that and her other observations, she thinks Karen would benefit from inpatient PT for a week or ten days. 

Reporting From The 6th Floor

Karen's surgeon stopped by this morning. He thinks she'll be here until Saturday or Sunday. The physical therapist is here right now, right now! Is this a blog or a live broadcast?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Come For The Update; Stay For The Alaskan Politics

Karen did take a few steps this afternoon, but far fewer than she hoped to. The good news is that a pain in her feet that made it agony to have feet, seems to have cleared up.
While I was at the hospital, I picked up a copy of The Anchorage Press, and read this article that refutes the oil company claims (repeated endlessly on TV) that SB 21 increased oil production and tax revenues to the state. So convincingly refutes, in fact, that you'd almost think Big Oil was deliberately trying to mislead Alaskan voters. That's sad for them, it must have been so much cheaper when they could get by just bribing the Legislature.
Anyway, I'm going to head back over there, so, bye for now.

Baby Steps

Karen has sat in a chair for several hours today. In an hour they're going to try to have her walk. 

Even Better Post-Op News

I had planned to go to work today, but Karen's  early morning headache and meds mix-up convinced me to stay at the hospital. Karen is asleep now and the nurse just asked if I was her son. 

In The Crease

Karen had her surgery yesterday. It took about twice as long as expected, but the surgeon said it went well. He said that he had never seen nerve roots being crushed so much in a person that wasn't paralyzed. 
A little glitch today, Karen's home medicine list got folded and most of them  were never entered in the computer, or Karen. Right now she's feeling very shaky and has a terrible headache. Don't know if that's a consequence or just post-surgical recovery. 
Here's a view out Karen's window. The haze is smoke from a forest fire about 50 miles from here. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


A spot has opened up. Karen is having her surgery tomorrow morning.

Policy Manual

The soonest Karen can have her surgery is probably just after the first of June. The doctor is fully booked except for this Thursday, but on Friday he's leaving town and the doctor covering for him just made the front page, in a bad way. The doctor doesn't want to do surgery and then leave abruptly. So, now, we know his policy vis-a-vis walking out in pre-op, it's fine, and in post-op, it's bad. We still don't know his policy about leaving in the middle of an operation.
If one of his patients cancels, (or dies) they may fit Karen in tomorrow. I told them we only need eight hours notice for her to fast, and we can be there. We're so flexible because while the doctor is out of town, I'm using my vacation time to take care of Karen.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Isn't There A Movie Out About A Monster Crashing Around?

The other day as I was lumbering around my yard I pulled over the hose reel, which broke off a piece, and as water fountained upwards, I stepped backwards onto the sprinkler, breaking that, too. The hose reel has been a bit of a disappointment really. It's heavy, awkward, and now a little bit broken, too. I'm thinking I'd like to try one of those as-seen-on-tv hoses that retract automatically and weigh next to nothing. I only mention this because even though I truly don't need anything ( I need less, if anything) for Father's Day, sometimes people will insist. This year there's really a perfect present. It's inexpensive, takes up no space and would mean a lot to me. It's an e-book of short stories set in Magadan, Anchorage and other places in Russia and the US. Since I already bought that for myself, a hose would be nice.
There's a scene in the book wherein a Russian moves in 1992 to run a Russian airline's Anchorage office. That was the year that I haunted the international terminal trying to get Russians to carry packages to Magadan for me. I felt myself a ghostly presence off to the side as I read the story. In real life, I was in a story about that. When I told Karen that the writer had made me look like a pathetic dweeb, she immediately sprang to defend me, "Well, it's all true."
As you might know, I've been off work this week taking care of Karen. I stayed on my diet, but apparently nursing, at the least the way I do it, doesn't involve much exercise. I gained three pounds. This is sort of disturbing since we're going to Iowa where the food tastes so much better than it does here. I had pushed a little below the bottom of my weight range, but now I'm afraid that I'll be pushing over the top of my pants.
During the debacle Friday, as I was driving to collect Karen off the operating table, I called to reschedule her surgery. They told me they couldn't reschedule it until they actually had the disk. I said, that I'd left it at the hospital, so presumably the doctor had it, but they said they had to be sure, and sure enough, they were right. According to Google's figures,  the doctor could not wait for me to cover 700 yards in eight minutes before he had the surgery canceled and was out the door. Tomorrow, we begin again.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Even Though I Share In The Blame, This Is Exactly Why I Hate Doctors

So, in my last post, Karen was being prepped for surgery. We had left for the hospital at 2pm, and on the way out the door, literally as we were walking down the steps to the car, the surgeon's office called to say that we had the only copy of the MRI, and could we bring it along. We frantically ran back in the house and got the MRI, the wrong MRI it would turn out. After all the prep work had been done, the surgeon appeared, took the CD and returned to say it was the wrong one. I told him that we just lived across the street from the hospital and I would run get the right one. He said, "Okay," and I did. As I raced back to the hospital, they called to say the surgery was cancelled. I told them I was almost there, and they said that they'd go ahead, then.
I gave the disk to the person at the surgical reception and went home to wait for Karen's operation to be finished. Except they called to ask why I hadn't come to get her since the surgery was canceled. I told them I didn't know the surgery had been canceled. I came back to the hospital and found out that before he'd even told me that I'd brought the wrong disk, the surgeon had told them to tear down the operating room.
So, okay, I brought the wrong disk. But they might have told me that they needed it before I was scheduled to arrive at the hospital, maybe even days or weeks in advance, they might have ordered it from Providence,  and failing that, they might have spared me the frenzied rocketing back and forth if they'd already canceled the surgery.
 I've taken off four of the ten days of sick leave that I can use in a year to take care of Karen. I had planned on going back to work tomorrow while Karen was in the hospital, and then having her come home next week better able to be alone.  Now I don't know if I should go back to work, or stay home and hope that this all works out early next week, or just seethe until I make myself sick. That last might be the best plan because I have more than a year of sick leave accrued that I can use on myself.

Grimm Prognosis

Karen is being prepped for surgery. She just asked me to tape the season finale of Grimm. I'm the luckiest man in the world

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Dodging Bullet, Naming Names And Then The Cutest Dog Ever

Karen had a block today to make her surgery tomorrow less painful. While I was in the waiting room, another patient told the receptionist her entire seventeen year medical history. The receptionist bore up pretty well, probably because this is her last week before moving to North Carolina.
The patient, let's call her X because I have no idea what her name is, said that after Dr. Peterson had operated on her, she went back to him complaining that she was in a lot pain. He took an X-Ray and told her she was fine. She went to Dr. Eule. He noticed that the two bolts that had been installed in her back had both broken.
That Dr. Peterson that ignored and minimized X's complaint, was the same doctor that we wanted to consult for a second opinion, but were unable to because the referral never came through. We DODGED A BULLET!
Except bullets never come in groups of one, do they? Dodging them is like dodging hailstones. If one doesn't get you, the next one, or the one after that, will. We dodged a bullet, there's another one out there somewhere.
By the way, X and I both agreed, Dr Levine was the worst.
And anyone who met her would think Ellie is the best:

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

And again (And again) And again (And again) And again!

Do you remember that song by Demi Lovato referenced above? Me neither. Karen is scheduled to have her spinal surgery on Friday afternoon. Doctor Johnson, her pain management doctor,  was surprised because Friday afternoon is like the worst time to have a surgery because any complications will probably be dealt with by interns and wait staff.
He himself will be in North Carolina by then, but the doctor that did Karen's first surgery will be on call for pain management. As Dr. Johnson left the room today, he looked over his shoulder at Karen and said, "Good luck!" Karen was terrified that he thought that was necessary.  "Oh yeah," he said, "with neurosurgery, there's always an element of luck involved." So yeah, we're pretty sure things are going to go well. We're practically Daft Punks!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Out For A Walk(er)

I'm making a car reservation for our trip to Iowa. We're staying on Karen's brother's dairy farm. Do you think it would be insensitive to arrive in a car with a leather interior?
Our former governor, Sarah Palin, called in to a local radio show and called out our current governor for being a tool of the oil companies he used to work for. She reminded listeners that she was elected to end crony capitalism up here and that Sean Parnell has become Alaska's Crony in Chief. For all the awful things she's said and done since she was nominated for vice-president, she occasionally reminds us why she seemed like a breath of fresh air when she campaigned for governor on a platform of rooting out corruption. On the radio, she sort of semi-endorsed Bill Walker for governor. Our children and the Walker's children went to the same school at the same time.  During a crisis in the administration of the school,  the Walkers were clear thinking, clear speaking parents that helped to successfully resolve the situation. That's how I remember them, and with hypnosis and memory enhancement supplements, they might remember me.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Humble Bragging Rights

I responded to New York Times Best Selling Author, Jennifer Graham's request for blood donations with such a tasteless and self-aggrandizing tweet, that even I, known to my erstwhile (practically the only kind I still have) friends as, "jerk," was embarrassed and deleted it almost immediately. But not before NYTBS author Jennifer Graham saw it and sent me a signed copy of her NYTBS book, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line.
You should definitely get your own copy. And give some blood, even if Jennifer's father doesn't get that pint, someone that really needs it will.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Still Not Much New

Karen saw a neurosurgeon recently after an MRI revealed she had spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the space the spinal cord runs through. He said that stenosis is generally classified as moderate to severe, but hers is "double severe," and he didn't understand how she was even able to walk (to be fair, she's not really walking that well) but that she wouldn't be able to walk much longer without surgery.  Karen had some concerns about complications, as you might expect if you read this blog in August through December 2008, August of 2010, or, oh, forget it, if you're interested, here's an assortment of Karen's complications and other stuff that might cause concern. He brushed her off. She asked about going to the Mayo Clinic since we're going to a wedding near there next month. He said he was trained at Harvard which was as good as Mayo, and that's when Karen stopped listening and we left.  Nothing is as good as the Mayo Clinic. Except this weekend was horrible, so on Monday, twisting my cap in my hands, I called them to schedule the surgery. They said they'd get right on it, and they apparently dropped everything to concentrate on ignoring us since they've never called back.
By the way, the wedding is outdoors in Iowa, which to me is the scariest part of Iowa. Karen's brother told me once that if they stayed inside every time there was a tornado watch, they'd never go outside. I was like, "Fine, then why are we out here?" but apparently I'd misunderstood him. Karen's family has a windowless room in the basement with a freezer full  of ice cream which sounds like a great vacation hideaway, but I guess there wasn't enough room for all the wedding guests in there.
Leah reminded me that I was trying to drive traffic to this blog by posting cute dog pictures and pandering to vegans, and then she sent me this picture she took of our dog, so there's this:
Ellie got up on the table and knocked over a jar of cashews,
so she is apparently vegan-curious.