Day 113

Why would this mother cat and her kittens think they were welcome in our back yard? Where are the hawks when you want them?

I don’t like cats!

While I was watching Morning Joe this morning, they had a segment on about George Romney’s run for the president in 1968 and how it may have affected Mitt’s strategy. The discussion was interesting, but what really drew my attention was the Romney for President ’68 graphic that they showed on the screen. It reminded me of the graphic arts that were around back then. I believe that was when I started paying attention to popular art. I was still in college back then. Much of the graphic art I remember from those days revolved around themes of anti-war, rock ‘n roll, and sex…at least that was what I was looking at.

I remember that there was a Big Ten Magazine that was distributed (for free?) to students on campus. It seems to me that it had an anti-war slant and came out of, I think, Wisconsin University. I may be wrong about the political slant, because I was reading a variety of magazines then. I do know for sure that it carried a column titles “Bridge For Blood.” I remember because I was just starting to learn the game back then. I wish I had held onto, and pulled out the centerfold graphic, from those magazines. It would be a trip to go back through them, especially when I’m in a nostalgic mood like I am today.

Jumping ahead a few years, when I was in the army stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, I was well aware of the graphics art scene there as well. I frequented a poster shop downtown, and bought a number of posters. Sadly, I left a number of them behind, and of the ones I brought back to the states, most have become ripped and destroyed over the years. I still have a poster I took down from a kiosk. The poster was advertising a jazz festival. I wish I had gone.

Day 112

Mason spent the night with us

He likes to sleep on the family room floor, though he used the guest bedroom Friday night. It has been a long time since he spent two consecutive nights with us. His cousin Jordan spent last night with us as well, but he prefers a bed (smart kid). Right now they are in the basement hooking up the Wii to the newly repaired flat screen TV. We’ll be lucky if they come upstairs to eat with us. They are physically young only once. Some of us revert to that stage again later in life, while some never leave it.

Today is one of those days when I want to compose about something, but it is a topic I don’t care to share with people other than Cindy. I do like my privacy. I suppose I need to put it in a document, digital or hand written, and keep it for myself. That way I can look at it in six months and wonder what the big deal was. Perhaps I’ll feel like sharing it then; but chances are I’ll consider it not worth sharing. 

I looked in the mirror a few minutes ago and decided that today I need to shave. I haven’t touched a razor to my face in over a week, and I’m looking pretty scruffy. I don’t shave every day, I’m retired, but it has been a long time since I have gone this long between shaves. I’ll feel better when I clean up.

The last few days I’ve been listening to a lot of folk music and old timey music. It has suited my mood. Today, however, it is a time for a change. Right now I’m listening to Johnny Rivers sing Summer Rain, next on the playlist is America doing Woman Tonight. I’m not sure what is coming after that, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy it. Earlier this afternoon I was listening to Nancy Wilson. I started listening to her when I was in college. I started because she had been voted best female vocalist in the Playboy Jazz Poll. She deserved it. I’ve come to enjoy other female vocalists over the years, Jane Monheit and Diana Krall are two, but Nancy Wilson always catches my attention with her phrasing and arrangements. I’ll be listening for a long time.

Day 111

Cindy and her handsome escort

I wasn’t up to going to Max and Cheryl’s wedding today, so Cindy called on her favorite single guy to be her escort. Ir seems to me that Mason is growing up faster and faster. I dread the time when he will want to spend less time with us, but I know it is coming.

I guess there is still some clean up that I have to do about my stay in the hospital. First: I forgot to mention that on Monday the 14th a young woman came in and did an ultrasound on my left leg to make sure I had no blood clots. I honestly don’t remember if that happened before or after the surgery. I know it was ordered before the MRI, and I know it happened after the MRI, but when??? My memory isn’t as clear as I like to think it normally is.

Neither did I mention having my foot X-rayed, but that seems incidental because the results don’t appear to have figured in any of the various doctor’s decision-making.

Second: the post Day 107 – Updated raised the question of phantom pain but never resolved it in the post. It does exist, but in my case it was more along the lines of phantom discomfort. The evening after my surgery I could “feel” something/someone pinching the upper left corner of my toe, where no upper left corner exists. I haven’t felt that since (the phantom aspirin worked) but under the wrapping I occasionally feel like there is pressure where the toenail used to be. It is strange to get such mixed messages from your brain.

Am I done writing about the hospital? I dunno, I hope so. Adding anything more would be like writing another volume in the Dune saga. Has anyone really read anything beyond the third book? I haven’t. We all craved a fourth Indiana Jones movie, but was anyone satisfied with the movie they made? Some things need to remain finished.

Day 110

The backyard as seen through a screen

I should stop trying to get a good photo shooting through a screen. Getting from the deck to the backyard through a screen door, and then back again, using a walker just seemed too much of a hassle. While I was on the deck, two little children, a girl who looked to be maybe one and half and a boy of about two and a half or three were on the stairs of the neighbor’s deck. The little girl pointed at our pool (it is still covered and not open) and asked, “You go there?” I said I did. The boy asked, “Sharks in there?” I told him no. He looked relieved.

I went to Dr. Moon’s office this morning for a follow-up. He looked at the foot, pronounced it doing well, and re-wrapped it. I question his use of a purple bandage, but perhaps he was trying to get rid of that particular shade. I asked when I could start driving again, and he told me that it would be alright when he took out the stitches and started wearing a shoe on my foot again. He originally planned to take out the stitches next Friday, but his office is closed for the holiday, so it will be sometime the following week. I had hoped for earlier, but will settle for later.

I’ve just about finished updating the Day 105 through Day 108 posts. Anyone interested in reading about what happened during my sojourn at St. E. can find it there. Other people who were there may have different memories, or put different emphasis on the events, but hey, it’s my story. I’ll tell it my way. Finding something to compose after that experience will not be easy.

Day 109

Looks familiar, doesn’t it?

This is similar to the photo I posted on Day 24. I took it again today because it felt so good to wake up at home in my own bed. Everyone at the hospital was kind and friendly, even when they thought they should be brusque because the mood should be sombre. Maybe I’m reading too much into their demeanor, or want to give them a pass for having a busy day. Lord knows, they do hard work, and they did good by me.

I’m switching back and forth composing this post and updating the posts I did with my cell phone (Day 105 through Day 108). I’m not sure when I’ll be finished with the updates. I spent more than an hour on Day 105 this morning, working from notes, and incorporating things I remembered as I was sitting at the keyboard. This afternoon I have the added distraction of listening to the Tom Russell album The Long Way Around. I know I don’t have to listen now, but it really is a very good album. Tom Russell is an artist I came to late, but I would rather be late than to have missed him altogether. U.S. Steel is the track playing now. Nobody else writes lyrics like that.

***

I took a productive break from composing. I arranged a ride to Dr. Moon’s office for tomorrow. It has been nice having a day not seeing a doctor or a pretty young nurse. (Damned pretty young nurses make me feel old!) I found my wallet that went missing a couple of days before I went to the hospital. I also found an audio cd I had borrowed from the library and forgot to return. It was in the living room cd player.

Composing became easier when I switched to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Maybe I should use that type of music more often. I’m done today. If you want to get caught up, I’ve updated Day 105 and Day 106. I’ll work on the other two days tomorrow.

Day 108 – Updated

Home from the hospital. It feels good. Tomorrow I’ll start updating those days with the photos I took and text from my notes.

***

Not taken from my hospital room

I don’t know how it happened, but I failed to take a picture today. Usually when this occurs I will scramble and snap something, photogenic or not, and use that. Today, however, I went back and chose a picture that I almost used on May 5th. I hope no one feels cheated.

I started the day in the hospital (of course), waking up early because I was already anxious to be going home. It still wasn’t a done deal because I wasn’t going to hear from Dr. Meyer until sometime in the afternoon. So I ate breakfast and tried to keep my mind off leaving.

I had the nurse help me to the bathroom, which is something of a pain when you can use the walker and are not tethered to the IV rack. When I was finished I decided to not call for assistance, and just went out and sat in the chair. I figured, rightly, that the nurse would probably think the aide had helped me, and vice versa. The nurse came into the room a few minutes later and connected me to a new round of IV antibiotic.

Sara and Charlie came to visit, bringing a plant and a card. That helped my disposition a bit. While we were talking two women came into the room. They told me how much better I was looking. I had no idea who they were and told them I didn’t remember meeting them. They told me they had seen me before my surgery on Monday. I remember pretty much everything that had happened since I arrived at the hospital, but I don’t remember meeting those women. I don’t think I did meet them, but they meet so many people who I’m sure we are all one big blur to them. Also while we were talking, Dr. Shah’s nurse came in and told me that they were pretty sure I would be released that afternoon, and that they had scheduled appointments for me with my primary care doctor, and a follow-up with Dr. Moon. Excellent!

I ate lunch, and Mary came to visit me. She is like a sister in so many ways. The two biggest differences is that we didn’t fight as kids because we didn’t know each other, and she is a cat person. She even brought a balloon with cats on it. I guess that makes it my turn to find something anti-cat to give or send to her. Two o’clock came and went. Mary had left, the IV antibiotic bag emptied, I disconnected from the IV rack again, and Dr. Meyer still hadn’t shown up.

When the nurse came in to check my vitals I asked her if it would be OK for me to shed the hospital gown and put on some of my own clothes. She gave me the go ahead and helped me into the bathroom to change. Shortly after that Dr. Shah came in to give me a quick check, and to assure me that I should be leaving after Dr. Meyer saw me. Still no Dr. Meyer.

Around 4:15 Dr. Meyer strolled in. He shone his flashlight in my mouth and unwrapped my foot. He looked at it and nodded. Then he told me the name of the bacteria that they found in the cultures they took (don’t expect me to remember the name) and that it was a staph infection. He said it could be treated with an oral antibiotic that he had prescribed. He said that he would give the scrip to the nurse and have her re-dress my foot; than I could go home. I called Cindy to come get me.

Twenty minutes later I was still waiting when the nurse came in and asked, “What’s up?” I told her I was still waiting to have my foot wrapped. She looked at it and said, “Who did that?” I told her it had been Dr. Meyer. It seems he had given her the scrip but failed to tell her she was to dress the wound.eing the good person she is, she started assembling the things she needed. That’s when Cindy walked in, ready to cart me off. I asked her to pack up my clothes while my foot was getting wrapped. She did, but with a scowl.

Of course, that wasn’t the end of it because we had to go through the discharge papers. Cindy took my things to the car while DeeAnn, the nurse, rolled me to the discharge office. Cindy found us as the kind lady was getting the paperwork ready. Cindy seemed irritated that I had called her and that she had arrived before I was ready to be wheeled out the door. She started making snarky comments, as only she can do. At one point she looked at me and said, “That woman is listening to us.” I remained silent but thought that, yes, people will listen if you talk loud enough. Finally the paperwork was done, all of the signatures were taken, and I was free to leave. Cindy drove to CVS and dropped off my scrip, then went to KFC to pick up dinner. She took me home, ate with me, and then left to catch the last half of BINGO. We all have our rituals.

Day 107 – Updated

Another day at the hospital. Maybe a decision on how much longer tomorrow afternoon.

***

My new look, for now

Today’s post will mainly be about things that I thought about while waiting for tomorrow, and a decision on how long I will be here, arrives.

 Anyone my age who has watched old war or hospital movies has heard about phantom pain. I was curious to see if it was true. But then I wondered that since I have neuropathy, would I experience phantom non-pain, and if I did, how would I know? Jill said I was over thinking it too much. I believe it is more likely I have been listening to and influenced by Arlo Guthrie monologues. You have to pay attention when he talks.

I want to give kudos to the staff here at the hospital. They have been unfailingly kind and caring. They are solicitous whenever using a needle. They always give a warning before sticking it in. They will say things like, “On the count of three, little stick,” or “Pinch coming, now.”  The one that caught my attention, however, was a girl who came to draw a vial of blood at 4 a.m. one morning. Her warning was simply, “Big prick.” I didn’t know if I should take it personally or not. I chose to simply go back to sleep.

At one point this afternoon it felt like there was a revolving door from the hallway to my room. I had been reading Boom! by Tom Brokaw for about an hour an a half, and now wanted to close my eyes and doze. I was just nodding off when the progression of people started. First it was a young woman who came to draw some blood. She left and I was almost asleep when the nurse came in to check my vitals. She left and I had just fallen asleep when a girl came in to ask what I wanted to eat for dinner. When she left I put on my headphones, turned on my MP3 player and closed my eyes. That didn’t stop the hospital chaplain from coming in to see me. She inquired about my health and I assured her that I was feeling much better, and that my spiritual life was sufficient. She gave me a quizzical look but accepted it. I shook her hand and she left after making sure she used an antibacterial hand gel. I think I actually slept for about ten minutes when something woke me up. I opened my eyes and saw Dr. Meyer, the Infectious Diseases specialist. I decided I had better wake up because he would be the one deciding when I could go home. He came over, shone his flashlight into my mouth, and told me he wouldn’t get results on the cultures until tomorrow. He thought, however, that I would probably be able to go home Wednesday afternoon after he saw me. YES!

I know that everyone has heard, or mis-heard, public announcements or pages over an intercom. The one that caught my attention was when I heard, or think I heard, a page for Dr. Hack. A quick google tells me that there is, indeed, a Dr. Hack in Lafayette, and my question is “Why?” Why would you not change your name? He is probably a top-notch gastroenterologist, but I’m just saying that it is not a name to inspire confidence.

Diana & Steve came to visit this evening right after Cindy left. It was good to see them, we hadn’t talked in quite some time. Diana was telling me of some of the trials she has had with her mother and mother-in-law. We talked about her daughter-in-law’s fight with cancer. I talked about…hmmm…it must not have been noteworthy because I’m not sure what I said. Typical. I’m not a great one for conversation. When they left, I felt that I was ending the day on a high note.

Tomorrow!

Day 106 – Updated

Ditto to yesterday’s post, with the exception that I’m a digit shorter…or maybe it’s a shorter digit.

***

Cindy waiting with me

I see more worry in her face in this photo than I remember seeing when I took the shot. I was probably so busy feeling sorry for myself that I wasn’t all that concerned about the people who were there with me. Typical.

I didn’t sleep all that well the night before…first night in the hospital…nurses coming in to take blood, check vitals, talk to me…my mind going off in different directions trying to make sense of what was happening/deflect from what was happening.

For a while I put on the headphones and listened to my MP3 player. I keep the player on shuffle mode and that makes for interesting programming. I remember that one random sequence gave me Bob Gibson singing This Train, The Glenn Miller Orchestra with Tex Beneke doing Chatanooga Choo Choo, and Steve Goodman singing The City Of New Orleans. Later Steve Goodman came around again with Somebody Else’s Troubles. The second and fourth verses made me think, so I turned off the music before I could hear John Prine sing Please Don’t Bury Me. I didn’t want the nurses to think my laughter was hysterical.

To change my train of thought from train songs and death references in songs I started going over in my mind other things that were weighing on Cindy’s mind. Her mother, Flo, is in a nursing home and is rotating between the poles of being ready to die and wanting to be waited on hand and foot. Cindy had told me an incident concerning herself and her mother when Cindy was young. It reminded me of a similar incident from when I was young. In my case I was left in the car while my parents were in an Eastern Star meeting in LaPorte. That led me to reflect on the fact the my dad was a Mason, he and my mom were in Eastern Star, my sister was a Rainbow Girl. I was lucky, there was no DeMolay chapter in Rolling Prairie. I got to be in scouting instead. I was a Cub Scout, a Boy Scout, and an Explorer Scout. I don’t remember when I started losing interest in scouting, but it was probably around the time I was caught with a pack of cigarettes at Region 7 Canoe Base. So I’m not sure but I don’t think the Scouts had a secret handshake. That would make sense. How do you approach a stranger and test them with a secret handshake? I would personally find it weird if someone tried out a secret handshake on me. My first reaction would be, “What the…?” and then I would probably think, “You’re barking up the wrong tree because my tail doesn’t wag that way.” And so my mind kept moving around.

Cindy, Jill, Trina, JR, Marilyn & Barbara spent time with me during the morning, waiting for the surgery to start. Once they came to get me it all went pretty fast. There was very little prep since there was no general anesthetic, just local. They bathed my foot in antiseptic, administered the local, and got to work. Dr. Moon kept me informed, in general, what he was doing. He kept me engaged in conversation to keep my mind occupied (good call, that), and occasionally spoke in euphemisms like “you’ll feel some vibration now” meaning “I’m sawing off your toe now.” I forgot to mention that at some point he said he would be using a saw on the bone. My mind immediately envisioned everything from a jigsaw to a sabre saw, but decided it was probably nothing you would see on This Old House. Anyway he put in some packing, sewed me up partially, and wrapped the foot. The surgery lasted 16 minutes. They took me back to my room. Dr. Moon met Cindy in the room and explained what he had done, cleaning out all of the pus, dead flesh, etc. Specimens had been sent off for cultures and based on the results they would know what kind of antibiotic would be needed next. In the meantime I would stay in the hospital and keep getting the IV antibiotic.

A side effect of all of this was that I was not only hungry (I hadn’t eaten in 22 hours) and thirsty (nothing to drink for 14 hours) but I was also hyper. I was ready to talk about anything. I finally wore everyone out and they left. I put on my headphones, turned on my MP3 player, and crashed. I woke up later, ate another meal, watched some TV, and then slept better than I had in a long time.

Day 105 – Updated

Sorry. No photo or text (other than this) today. I got stuck in the hospital with a badly infected toe. Hope to be home soon where I can use a keyboard and not a cell phone.

***

The contents of Cindy’s purse

When I came downstairs this morning I saw this on the kitchen counter. It didn’t take me long to determine it was the contents of Cindy’s purse, but I was curious as to why they were in two restaurant carry-out boxes. It seems that when Cindy was with some friends at a restaurant Saturday evening, a bowl of cottage cheese jumped off the table and into her purse which was sitting on the floor beside her chair. She removed her belongings so she could wash out the purse, hence the carry-out boxes.

Shortly after taking the photo, Cindy drove me to the emergency room at St. Elisabeth Hospital in Lafayette. I have been seeing a podiatrist for almost a year because of problem with my left big toe, or Great Left Toe as the medical people call it. I think Great Left Toe sounds like it should be a spur to a mountain range, but that is just me. Anyway, overnight the toe went from being swollen to being swollen even more, turning an angry red, and developing ulcers on the top of the toe. I hadn’t been feeling well for a few days, so I was ready to go.

The first nurse to look at my toe in the emergency room asked what had happened to my toe and told us that they would be admitting me and starting me on IV antibiotics. That was confirmed a little while later by the doctor who came in and asked what had happened to my toe. While I waited for a room, a couple of vials of blood were drawn; I was visited by a medical student who was working with the ER doctor, she took a lot of notes on the history of my toe problems; another medical student came in and asked to see my toe because the word was that it was interesting, and wondered what had happened to my toe; and then I was whisked away to a room on the third floor. OK, my memory isn’t clear on whether the IV was hooked up before or after they transported me to the room, but it happened quickly. When I got to the room the nurse who was there asked what had happened to my toe and got me settled in. The doctor came in and asked what had happened to my toe. As good and kind as all of these people are, they should talk to one another so that I don’t have to keep repeating myself. The doctor said that he wanted to consult with a podiatrist, mine if possible, and an infections specialist. Since it was Sunday and a holiday it was not likely they would be in to see me until Monday.

That afternoon my podiatrist, Dr. Moon, came in the room. He looked at the toe, not asking what happened to it, and told us that he was ordering an MRI and an operating room for noon Monday. The extent of the surgery would depend on what the MRI showed, and what he found when he opened up the toe. He and I had discussed surgery in the past, and while he favored it, he was willing to try to heal the toe without it as long as we kept making progress. What had happened was definitely a set-back. The options we had now were minor surgery, partial amputation, or full amputation of the toe. I think he threw us the first option to give us some hope.

Around 9 p.m. they came and took me for the MRI. The tech was very friendly. The first thing he said was, “What kind of music do you like?” When I said either the blues, jazz or folk music; he said, “I can offer you country or classic rock.” Well, I chose classic rock. He said that he would be injecting me with contrast, and did I know what that was? I did. Then he got me on the bed of the machine and told me I need to be completely still because the machine was sensitive to movement. He put my foot in a sort of plastic boot, put headphones on me and left the room. What he hadn’t told me was that I would be there for about half an hour…expected to not move in that time. The headphones came alive and I heard static. About five minutes into this procedure the sound switched from static to country music. The tech told me that he couldn’t locate the classic rock. I told him he could kill the music. About five minutes passed and he asked me if I was moving, because he could detect movement. I told him any movement was involuntary, and asked him about the contrast that he was supposed to inject. He said that he wouldn’t be doing that for another ten minutes or so. That’s when it hit me that I would be there a lot longer than I had first imagined. He came on a couple more times to ask if I was moving, and now I couldn’t deny it because every muscle in my leg and foot, not to mention my other foot was having the occasional involuntary twitch. I tried to relax, but it didn’t work. Finally he came in and injected the contrast, saying it would only be about another five minutes. Maybe he didn’t realize that there was a timer countdown showing just above my head, but the first of the last two series of images started timing with 6:42 to go. The second lasted 4:10. He was obviously a poor judge of timing. At last it was over, and I went back to my room.

Day 104

Macey spent the night at our house

I felt guilty because it is the first time I can remember that I didn’t buy doughnuts for her. She said she didn’t mind, but I still feel bad.

This post is going top be shorter than yesterday’s. I seem to be going through phases of feeling weak, and then fine. I hope one of the fine phases comes on soon and lasts. With the weakness comes a seeming lack of keyboard skills. And my mind isn’t sparking on all cylinders. It’s best if I stop trying to compose now.