Saturday, June 28, 2014

Scenes From The Rural Life

Here we are, and have been, in Iowa. As you can see it's beautiful and bucolic.

I've been eating like a pig, in the sense that neither of us will be able to fit into a size medium any time soon.  
The wedding is this afternoon. The venue has been changed to an indoor location because, why? Worries about the weather. And not my worries, either. The bride's. If anybody cared about my worries, we'd be like prairie dogs just coming up from underground long enough to look around and maybe bark in terror a little. 
Yesterday, some of us went to a tractor museum. It was a little bit of a misnomer because there was only one tractor, but it was a very seminal tractor, the progenitor of the entire John Deere family. 
Then we went to view a robotic milking parlor. The cows walk into a stall whenever they want and get milked without any human involvement. It's much more efficient and once the robots learn to drink milk, they won't need people at all. It's more efficient overall, but watching the robot fumbling to attach the cups to the udders was like watching a thirteen year old boy trying to get to second base. 
After that, we all gathered for a rehearsal dinner. I didn't really know very many people, but when I mentioned that I almost never shopped at Walmart, I sensed people thinking, "That tells us everything we need to know about you."
After eating, we went grocery shopping for Fritos and marshmallows, then stopped for ice cream and called it a night. Comes next, the wedding. And then, the reception, mostly catered by the bride, a culinary school graduate. I'm so excited to have her in the family. Plus, she seems really nice. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Leaving On A Jet Plane

So we're in Bloomington, MN. Tomorrow; Iowa. 
What a difference a day makes. Or almost a day. And seventeen degrees of latitude. When we were flying out of Anchorage at one am, it looked like this:
Now, at only ten pm, in Minnesota, it looks like this:


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Missing: Control. Last Seen Throwing A Salad Over Its Shoulder As It Left

So, Karen's bad mood kept ricocheting and caroming around the house until finally I lost my temper. When my temper went missing, it took all my self-control with it and I began to binge eat; the first time off my diet in six months.  It wasn't very satisfying, even in the moment, because all there was to eat was the same healthy food I usually eat; I just ate more of it. My dealer, Ambre brought home some barbecued brisket with curly fries, and I ate all of it, but I was already nauseated from too much oatmeal and kale.
I went to bed mad (mostly at myself by then) and woke up ill, a lot. Now, off to work, ill, but soon, Iowa here we come. Excited to see us?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Karen Is Going To Iowa, Against Medical Advice; Isn't That How Everyone Does It?

 Karen came home from the hospital today. The infectious disease doctor didn't want her traveling because he was afraid that she'd be "running around" and restart the infection. I hope he's wrong because, of course, I don't want the infection restarted, and because running around sounds like the kind of thing that would take place outside.
The hospitalist (and what a scam that specialty is) told her nurse to call the surgeon's office and make sure that he wasn't coming one last time to check the incision. After waiting three hours, Karen asked the nurse what the hold-up was.  The problem turned out to be, "I don't call doctor's offices." Karen threw a temper tantrum, so they sent her home. That was good, but unfortunately, she was able to play it off the wall, and throw it a few more times here at the house.
Iowa, here we come!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Karen Called Me In Tears

From the hospital where she remains st this hour. 
This morning her infectious medicine doctor told her she'd require another surgery to remove her intrathecal pump, but we're not convinced and we're awaiting more doctors to talk to. I took off from work to be here if/when they come. All very frustrating for her, especially since we're supposed to be going to Iowa  on Thursday night. 
We're not convinced because the CT scan she had was inconclusive; it showed results that might be signs of infection, or are also completely consistent with having had surgery, which, of course, she had. 
While I was composing this post, the doctor in charge of her pump stopped by to say that in the absence of any clinical signs (fever or elevated white blood cell count) of a more general infection, he had no interest in taking the pump out. There is still no discharge plan, but tantalizingly, the last doctor said that the next doctor that is still expected to come by might send her home tonight. As for travel, he said we'd have to wait till it gets closer, as if it could. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Resistance Is Futile. So Is Making To-Do Lists.

Today Karen's physical therapist told her that her incision didn't look as good as it had and we should go to the hospital.   I had already noticed some drainage and made an appointment with her surgeon. The therapist said we could we wait until then, but in the event, it hardly mattered. 
The doctor said it looked like a minor infection, but rather than let it have a chance to become major, she's being readmitted. So, we were just like proctologists, we spent five hours in the bowels of the hospital before being sent upstairs. And here we remain. Well, Karen does; I'm heading home right now. 

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Long Meandering Texts Concisely Molded Into A Blog Post

The first night home Karen's  hip hurt so much that she was in tears and quite rage-y. The next morning, I called her pain management clinic and they scheduled an appointment on Friday  for her to receive an injection of something, they hadn't decided what.  When we got there, Karen's hip hadn't hurt since she woke up on Thursday morning. The doctor said, "I can't make it better than that." So that does seem better. Now it's a matter of learning to walk and building up strength. I haven't offered her any life coaching lately, so we're cool. 
There is a state agency that thinks we might qualify for some caretaker respite grants, but I've realized that I've got leave, it's protected by FMLA and I should stop trying so hard to get back to work. Leah also has some FMLA protected leave available, and between us we should be able to keep Karen safe until (if Karen is strong enough)  we go to the wedding in Iowa. Nothing can keep her safe there, as the wedding is being held on the lawn of a roofless church in  tony Tornado Alley.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Karen Came Home, With A Vengeance

Karen did leave the hospital yesterday. By the time she stopped at a podiatrist on the way home, she was tired and her hip was bothering her a lot. This hip pain is brand new since the surgery. Her own assessment of her attitude was, "bitchy." I had to concur and helpfully advised that taking care of her was not only a full time job, it was one I would never have applied for. I added that it might be easier for actual caregivers, because their shifts were only twelve hours three times a week, not for life. So, that sort of established the mood.
I had planned to go to work today since a church lady had volunteered to stay with Karen during the times that Leah's and my shifts overlapped, but  it looked as if Karen would need more help than it was reasonable to expect from a volunteer and I needed to try to  get Karen into her pain doctor today to see what they could do about the hip. I did get her an appointment for tomorrow morning (so no work then, and Saturday's not looking too good either). A Blue Cross case manager called to see what we might need. Not that they would pay for it, or knew anyone that would, they were just reminding us that we were helpless and hopeless. But, Karen did do her exercises today, and she was able to get into bed by herself afterwards.  Later today, an outpatient physical therapist will be stopping by (a covered expense!) and tomorrow, maybe they'll figure out what's wrong with, and fix, her hip. So baby step by step, we are making our way.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

But I Did Not Give A Girlish Giggle

 Karen's discharge planner called me yesterday and explained that not only was the doctor pressing to send her home, insurance companies only pay to rehabilitate patients to their baseline state. That means that Karen only needs to be back to walking with a walker and then falling down, before the insurance company is satisfied with her inpatient progress. I was there last evening when the doctor came to check on her incision, and I not only bowed to the inevitable, I gave it a little curtsy. There didn't seem to be much sense in being churlish to the man that's going to monitor the still-healing opening from Karen's spine to the sometimes malevolent outside world.*
Anyway, I'm going to go to the post office in a few minutes and get my route ready. But somebody else is going to run it while I go learn how to be an aid again. Tomorrow I'm off anyway, and then begins the carousel ride around the clock making sure Karen isn't left alone on the floor.
One bit of good news, just like Sheldon Cooper, Karen's "been tested;" her cognitive skills are such that they don't think she will burn the house down if she is left alone.

* From the Merck Manual Home Edition:
For adults who have bacterial osteomyelitis of the vertebrae, the usual treatment is antibiotics for 6 to 8 weeks. Sometimes bed rest is needed, and the person may need to wear a brace. Surgery may be needed to drain abscesses or to stabilize affected vertebrae (to prevent the vertebrae from collapsing and thereby damaging nearby nerves, the spinal cord, or blood vessels).

Monday, June 02, 2014

What A Difference A Day Makes

Yesterday was gloomy and filled with gray thoughts. Today, though, dawned (if you can call it that) wet, dim, and filled with thoughts of rage. Or as much rage as a passive-aggressive person can summon. I am very angry, and intend to write a very sternly worded blog post.
Karen has been accepted into the rehab unit at the hospital. For the last few days she has done three hours of therapy per day under the care of trained therapists, and been attended by skilled nursing care around the clock, as well as sleeping in a hospital bed that can be adjusted so many ways that it could get its own act as a contortionist.
Now, her surgeon wants to send her home because in "his experience" patients do better at home. So, we're to trade, all the hospital staff and facilities for an ad hoc collection of church ladies,  my vacation time and a rented bed. Karen wants to come home because she misses her dog, even though she and Ellie FaceTimed just last night.
The decision will be made today. I may or may not be there, because doctor time is so much more valuable than my time that they can't tell me when the meeting will be, so if I'm to attend it will be by dropping what I'm doing (working) and going to the hospital with no notice. Because I'm a grownup, I probably won't do that, so you can expect the next post to be about finding Karen here when I get home.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Yesterday Was A Perfect Day

For staring pensively out the window. The wind blew through the dim morning light, the rain angled to the ground and fresh snow crept down the hillside. I stared for awhile, thinking about mortality and that in three weeks the days start getting shorter and we begin the slide back into next winter's icy metaphors. But then it was time to put on my big girl's rain pants and go to work.  
Karen had the day off from PT and OT, all the T's really. She had some visitors which was very nice. Then quite a bit of hip pain later that wasn't so nice. Now we're spending the first of June staring pensively out the hospital window. 

Tomorrow we go back to the workaday routine.