Wednesday, April 22, 2015

potentially fatal

We went to see the cardiologist yesterday for an annual check-up on Regis's heart. He had a triple by-pass procedure done eighteen years ago, has been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, and most of the time we can forget about all of that. But sometimes, it scares us.

The doctor, a very kindly woman, had read all the reports of his pancreatitis and gall bladder and hospitalization. She said the most stunning thing to her was the small cancer they found in the gall bladder. Say what? Cancer in the gall bladder is almost always fatal because by the time a person has symptoms, it has metastasized. It's too late. So, she said, it was a very lucky thing to have this gall bladder issue. That puts a new spin on things.

She also said that there was no need to do a stress test. The stress on his heart from pancreatitis, surgery, overloads of pain, high and low blood pressure...was all the test she needs to know his heart is functioning well. Small favors.

Today is the first day in a long time where I have nothing on the calendar and nothing on my mental list of things to do. Of course, there are always things to do if a guy looks hard enough. Today, I plan to avoid looking too hard. I am going to enjoy my slothfulness.


This is Regis with Shelley, one of the hosts of our favorite radio show, Shuffle Function. They celebrate Intergalactic Bacon Day every year so we went up to enjoy the bacon treats, of which there were many. Here are a few:




We celebrated World Book Day by restocking the little library. I used to have enough books piled around my house to stock several libraries but over the years, I have culled the herd and now I have to go to thrift stores to buy books I read in the past. Crazy.


My little library is visited frequently during warmer weather.


My mom has a little library in her front yard!

Happy Wednesday, friends!




Sunday, April 19, 2015

April 19 getting my head back on straight


I worked last night. It was the last night of my month long work-a-thon that was interrupted by three hospitals in three different towns. I might not have been the patient but it was difficult just the same.

When we came home on Friday and decided to have Easter on Sunday, I had to make a wide swath through the house. I put all of the Regis-related stuff on one bag and all of my stuff in another bag. Now the bags sit here in my office, gathering dust. My goals today are to clean off the dining room table, put the Easter table cloth away, and clean up all the paper we have gathered.

Tomorrow we buy groceries and my writing group resumes. I get a hair cut at noon.

Tuesday, I go back to my volunteer job at the Treaty Site.

Life is getting back to normal.

I have worked very hard in my yard in the past week. The garden has been raked. The side yards and the back yard have been raked and the last pick-up load of leaves is waiting to go to the compost site.

I have gathered the sunny perennials from the shady side of the garden to move them into new spots. They are resting in a nursery pot for now. I've moved six small columbines from a back garden into a shady spot along the walk where they will get more attention. I transplanted some tiny flowering things from the back yard (where God only knows how they survived) into a pot so they can find a better place to live. These are things I usually think of in July and then promptly forget until the next year.


I'm going to trade some plants with friends. Coneflowers for cannas and trillium.

This could be my best garden in a long time.


And yet I wonder about all this busyness. I want to be done being so busy. I want to take a book out to the patio, plop into a chair with a cup of coffee, and spend the morning reading. Being busy is over-rated.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

end of the day

I seem to find myself here at the end of the day.So many things happen in one day. I signed up to bring a meal to Kristi and Wes. I don't even want to think about what that might mean. Zaida is out of the hospital and in the Ronald McDonald House. That's not even all of it.

Regis and I sit on the patio and the neighbors come by and say hello after the long dark winter. We're all out of our houses, raking our yards, walking bare sidewalks, anxious for summer. Hosta are poking their skinny fingers through the dark dirt. Tulips are being bitten bare by rabbits. Red-winged blackbirds make thier cell-phone like calls from every tree. It's a cacophony.

Tomorrow is another busy day. Appointments, work, fun. Life goes on.



Wednesday, April 15, 2015

moving along the road of life





Regis had surgery last Tuesday, April 7th, at 5pm. The surgeon said he would be in the hospital for 4-5 days but my husband is a fast healer and he was done with hospitalization so he was sprung Friday morning. No flies on him.

It's so good to have him home. The dog was depressed. I was depressed. Woodrow didn't care so much. That's how cats are.

I have tried to get him to rest and recover but he is right back to doing laundry. Yesterday, he made bean soup from the Easter ham bone.

We got home Friday about noon and decided to have our family Easter celebration on Sunday. Lots to do...shopping, cleaning, baking, organizing. I had doled out most of the side dishes but I want to make desserts. I spent all day Saturday making cut-out cookies, strawberry trifles, and chocolate bird nests. All way to putzy for such a busy time.

In the middle of the day, I decided to rake out one corner of my garden because I would much rather make the outside look good than the inside. I ended up raking the entire garden and getting all the leaves and sticks into the pickup. I needed to do this on that day?

I am working this week at North Intermediate, helping with MCA testing. It's boring but the money is good. I'll sacrifice my principles for that.

Yesterday was a big day. Here's what happened:

  • Bob and Emily bought a house...not far from us. In our neighborhood!
  • Peter and April set a date for their wedding! July 23, 2016
  • Tiffany made a decision about her life.
  • The city came to mark gas and electric lines for our new driveway.
  • Our new doors arrived at the lumber store and will be delivered today.
We celebrated all of this with our friend, Deb, on the patio with a glass of wine and the rest of the sugar cookies. My garden is clean, weeded, and the garden art is installed for the summer. Here we go!

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Stories...a million of them

I'm writing this from my iPad which is not nearly as user friendly when it comes to composing as my computer. I have to type one-fingered, for one thing, and I can't seem to get the pictures to appear. Ah, well.

It's Tuesday evening, day #9 of this adventure. Regis went down to surgery about an hour ago but I haven't heard yet from the Surgical Communicator that he is actually IN surgery. This is a well-oiled machine, everybody has a role.

I have walked miles around this hospital. Yesterday, 5.2 and today, 2.5 so far. It's a huge place. I was so tired when I left that I overshot my parking ramp by about two buildings and wound up in some far flung parking lot. I didn't remember the name of the lot where I was parked so it was hard to help me. Eventually I found my way to a place that looked familiar.

This afternoon, I retraced my steps to see where I made the mistake. A nice volunteer (They are like ants here.) helped me figure it out.

You overhear things. Like this from a crying woman as she walked right ahead of me: I don't think I can Three weeks ago he was a lively, vibrant boy.

This from a man who sat near me at breakfast: My wife and I have been married 67 years. She came here by helicopter.

He recommended the crepes, homemade and filled with strawberries.

This from a man I visited with over my walleye cakes: I'm 53 and I have prostate cancer. It killed my dad and my brother in their 50s.

Always a story.

Regis went down to one of 64 operating rooms. We are in the midst of a lightning storm but the nurse assured us they have a generator the size of this wing.

I'm fascinated by the workings of this place.

They expect his surgery to take about two and a half hours. When he goes into recovery, I'll hear from the surgeon, wait for Regis to come back to his room in the surgical area, and then I'll head back to the hotel for something to eat. I think I will go home tomorrow and come when they release him. 

I know I have written here about my aversion to work. This month I had committed to working almost every day but now, not only am I not working but I costing a bundle. Regis won't be driving the transit for maybe six weeks. We're going in the wrong financial direction. Oh, well. Shit happens.


Thursday, April 02, 2015

reality

Here is the reality of our situation.

Regis would hate that I talk so frankly about it but it's what I have to do.

The other night, I had an all-out panic attack. A hyperventilating, crazy, sobbing, panic attack. This is what it might be like to live without him in my life.

I know people do it all the time. They adjust to the loss of a loved person. I know I could do it. I could learn to fill my car's tank with gas. I could learn the difference between a screw driver and pliers. I could learn how to use spray foam. I just don't want to do it right now.

I know I am whining about something, which on the continuum of bad shit that happens to people, is very small. I also know that sometimes small things have a domino effect and the end result is nothing you could foresee.

I am home now after a dinner with my friend, Deb. A dinner of french fries, mac and cheese, and bacon wrapped jalapenos. How disgusting. Sometimes poor nutrition is a comfort.

I am not packing tonight. I am not making lists or reservations. I am tired.

Not tired from critical issues but tired from a steady barrage of worry and stimulation. You can't spend 40 hours in a hospital and not feel worn down.

My honey is lying in a hospital bed in Mankato. I am here making plans to drive to a major medical center to see about his treatment. We have postponed our Easter dinner. Our dog is feeling misplaced and sad. Even the cat is aware that things are not as they should be. Nothing is like it should be.

But, in the world, nothing is at is has been, or should be. Our friend David, is gone. Sharon's dad is gone. Sharon is in the hospital recovering from surgery. Mary is in the hospital trying to fight a recurrent cancer. Another David is struggling with brain damage. Anders and Judie struggle with what that means for him, and them. Life can be so hard, my friends. Life can be hard.

But in the end, the poppies appear in the garden. The red moon comes out tomorrow night. A beautiful baby named Emerson is born. Nicole and Jason wait for a baby due in September. Nora Jane celebrates a birthday. And we go on.

Regis

I am behind on my blog and decided rather than recreating all the drama we have experienced with Regis's gall bladder and pancreas, I would just copy and post those entries here. We are hoping to have this resolved by tomorrow.

March 30
After spending four hours in St. Peter's ER, Regis is on his way to the hospital in Mankato. He has an inflamed pancreas and gall stones. At least that's what I think I heard after no sleep and a vending machine meal. I needed Zofran and Dilaudid as much as the patient did. He'll spend a few days in the hospital waiting for the pancreas to simmer down, then will have surgery on one or both organs.

You can see Regis has his sense of humor back. Here he is making his best dead face while using his fingers to make Xs on his eyes. He has seen a fleet of doctors: GI doctor, captain of the team, resident of the captain of the team, surgeon, and a few others I can't recall. (One of them looks barely old enough to vote.) We have taken to saying kaching whenever someone walks in the door. Haha! When I left today, his numbers were much improved so they thought the gall stone had passed. They will wait for his pancreas to simmer down before removing his gall bladder in the next couple of days. I came home to take care of the pets and to get some rest. Hospitals are not very comfortable places to hang around.
March 31
Quick update. Regis had an uncomfortable afternoon. They tried to do an MRI without success. The Atavan caused him some trouble in the aftermath. He has been without food, water, and sleep so you can imagine his mood. I have not heard from him this morning so hope he slept through the night. I will go over later this morning to see what the plan is. They might do an endoscopy to try and fish out the stones, then surgery for the gall bladder. Bless all your hearts for the positive energy coming our way!
April 1
Yesterday was a rough day. I spent about half of it at the hospital and never once saw Regis reach for his phone or his iPad so I knew things were just not right. He was in a lot of pain, very restless, very frustrated, and very tired. He just called and he sounds much more like himself. I am headed over soon so I hope I can report a plan of action later this morning. Waiting is hard.


April 2
I spoke with Regis this morning. He said the pain last night was almost unbearable. They did an EKG and blood work to make sure it wasn't a heart attack. He is thinking that another stone might be stuck in his common duct. Ha! We're getting the lingo down. I'm heading over to the hospital about 8:30 so I can be there to hear what the docs have to say. My guess is endoscopy today to remove the stones and surgery tomorrow to remove the gall bladder. With some luck, they will do that surgery laprascopically and the recovery time will be minimal.

Note: Regis complains that I share so much but he gave me permission to take his picture and to use it here and on my Facebook page. He's a good sport and brags about my promoting abilities!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

it's been a week

A vibrant and funny man from my town died of lung cancer yesterday. It wasn't too long ago we saw him at the gym working out vigorously. Life changes pretty fast some times.

This morning, we had breakfast with good friends. Sharon and I have known each other since the early 70s. You can do the math. We went through breast cancer treatment about the same time and even though we didn't see each other for 30 years, we reconnected like it had been two weeks.

Tomorrow, Sharon leaves for Rochester for her reconstructive surgery while her dad is dying in the hospital in Mankato. Such a tough time for her whole family in so many ways.

Today is the 17th anniversary of the F3 tornado we experienced in St. Peter and towns surrounding. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it. Back then, we didn't take digital photos but some are available on the web. It's still hard to look at them. This picture was taken just as the storm came into town.


March 29, 1975 also signifies the end of the Vietnam War when the last of the American troops were removed from Vietnam near the US Embassy.


I started thinking about that era and all the men I knew...some who went and suffered terribly, some who didn't go and suffered terribly for that. I remember watching television with my family in 1969 when the death of a young Minnesota man was announced, Victor Rabel. He was the older brother of  John, my former classmate from Herman, Minnesota.


The way the world is now, it wasn't hard to find out that John lives in Bemidji. This picture is the two of us probably around the age of 5. I have had it in a tiny frame for years. Who knows why. When I saw John's face on Facebook, I knew it had to be the same person. More than fifty years later. I can't remember what I did yesterday but I can remember this friend from so long ago. Maybe we will be able to reconnect.

Beyond those sad and poignant things, I have had a good week that included lots of good coffee from my River Rock mug, a sausage and pepper frittata, a new bird feeder, and four new chairs for the patio in the colors of the Easter bunny!



Today, I am planning my Easter menu, checking the grocery list, thinking about the cooking week and the work week, and trying to avoid the sound of the wind. We don't need 40-50 mph winds today, my friends.