My mom had several events she wanted to attend Wednesday and I went over and stayed with my 91-year-old dad while she was out. As I have mentioned previously, he is a very marginal ambulator and is very unsteady on his feet even though he uses a walker. He has become disoriented several times, taken wrong turns, and because he has severe macular degeneration, he can’t see where he is, never mind figure out how to get back to where he wants to be. He has fallen several times now, and the intervals between falls has been steadily shrinking. Frail though he is, at 6 feet plus tall, he is simply too much for any one person, never mind my 89-year-old mother, to lift up off the floor. Several times in the past, when he has fallen, Mom called the neighbors across the street, J and C, and she and her husband have come across to help get my dad sorted. (They are wonderful people. They’ve adopted my mom and dad, and they are always coming over to help them out. Every morning for years now, J comes over and finds the newspaper and puts it on the porch for my mom so she doesn’t have to get out in the yard and hunt it. They have put up the Christmas lights for mom for several years now. C has fixed several things around the house that needed fixing. The world needs several billion more people like them.)
I knew that sooner or later the law of averages was going to catch up to me, and Wednesday it did. My dad got up to go to the bathroom and tottered off in that direction. I’ve taken to following at a discrete distance and a good thing. I heard a terrific whump!. He’d lost his balance trying to get back out of the bathroom and fell against the bathroom door — mercifully without injuring himself — but he was lying in front of the door, which opens inward, and it was a tight squeeze to get to him. I was able to help him get back out into the bedroom. I knew mom would have their phone number entered in the phone book on their cordless phone. Sure enough, I found J and C’s number and thankfully they were home. (They are such lovely people!) They rushed right over. We were able to get him up into a chair, and from there back on his feet. We got him back to his recliner in the den without incident. Had they not been home, I would have had to either leave him there on the bedroom floor (sitting with him, of course) until my mom got home, or called for paramedics to come out.
My mom has bought a collapsible wheelchair that fits in the trunk of her car, which is a great help in getting him in and out of places like the doctor’s office, and the barber’s, but like almost all houses built at that time (1962), the bathroom doorways are even narrower than the regular doorways — too narrow to get even this smaller wheelchair through. But, even if my mom were to go to the expense of having the doorways widened, there’s still the fact that again, typical of houses built at that time, the bathrooms are almost claustrophobically small. As his strength and mobility continue to decline, the time is fast approaching when some tough decisions are going to have to be made.
Needless to say, I’ve always been daddy’s girl, and it’s been particularly hard for me to deal with the situation. Still, I can’t deny that we have been very, very lucky to have had him this long. Right now, I just keep thinking, “Please, let us make it through the holidays without a crisis.” — Not that a crisis will be any easier to cope with then than now. It’s just that if anything does happen during a major holiday, it will forever after leave its taint on that time. It will be hard enough to face a holiday without him, without that holiday also being the anniversary of some dreadful event. This has been brought home to me in a particularly poignant way this year. A lady I’ve known since 1999, a colleague I met through work*, has just learned that those abdominal pains her grandmother thought might be her gallbladder acting up were, in fact, due to stage 4 (terminal) metastatic pancreatic cancer and that her grandmother has only weeks left. She and I have both been medical transcriptionists for many years and we know what such a diagnosis portends. But for it to happen now, during the Christmas season, is like kicking them when they’re down. From now on, for them, every subsequent Christmas, they will not only be missing her presence in the family circle, but having to be reminded of the events of her final days overshadows and spoils the good memories of Christmases past and the family traditions she was a part of.
In other news, I dodged a dental bullet. My induction physical into the Air Force (1972) turned up a cavity in the incisor next to my right upper canine, and I was told to have it fixed before I was due to report for basic training. “Fixing the cavity” unfortunately involved a root canal procedure and because that incisor is so slender, the only way it could be done was for my then dentist (who has since retired) to replace the visible tooth with a post and crown. Lately, that tooth had become noticeably wiggly and my current dentist was concerned that this was because there was decay around the base of what was left of the tooth root and that the stage was being set for catastrophic failure. Last Thursday, I went in so that he could assess the situation and we were going to consider options. Turned out the tooth was wiggly because the crown was loose. When he removed the crown to reglue it, he assessed the situation and discovered that what he thought was decay was simply the dark amalgam used to anchor the post. He reglued the crown. Problem solved.
However, as long as I was there, he started me on a course of dental scaling and deep cleaning which entailed numbing the whole right side of my jaw, upper and lower. The dental hygienist did the procedures (the pain I can take, but the scraping affects me like the sound of fingernails on a chalk board — Gack!) and I went home with the whole side of my face thoroughly numb from the bridge of my nose down to the underside of my jaw.
Today, I had to get up at Oh-God-thirty to be at the dentist’s at 8 a.m. to get the left side done. (The cats are all comfortably ensconced on the bed, the alarm goes off, and they’re like, Srsly?) I get home with the whole left side of my face numb, thinking I will boot up my computer, read my feeds, and wait for my face to thaw out. Guess again.
Let me set the scene for you. For over two months now, my internet service provider, ATT, has been been sending out humpty gazillion emails saying they’re monkeying with how their email service is going to work and you need to run this updater program before December 11, because if you don’t, on December 11th your email will quit working. Every time I’d get a rash of emails, I would dutifully go to the website and run the updater program. On all five email accounts. This morning, I sit down, drooling because half my face is shot full of anesthetic and won’t move, not having eaten since yesterday, boot up my computer and try I try to download my email. All five accounts error out.
Was ist denn schon wieder los?! I call ATT. About halfway through their speech wreck call steering system, I get disconnected. I call back, wade through the whole speech wreck song and dance again and finally get an actual live person, an email techistani*. “Oh, we changed things again yesterday and you need to run the email updater program again.” So I run it again. On all five accounts. No soap. I go to the ATT website and double check that all my settings are what they say they’re supposed to be. On all five accounts. Still no joy.
I call back, wade through the whole speech wreck call steering thing again and get another techistani who tells me that because I want to use Windows Live Mail (WLM) so I can download and keep My emails on MY computer instead of having to manage my email through their servers using a web browser — which won’t work with MailWasher, BTW,— I’ll have to call Microsoft for assistance, because ATT does not support WLM. “Oh, and they charge by the hour to help you fix stuff. I’ll give you the number.”
I hit the roof. I informed said techistani that I pay an arm and two legs for their service and I’m not going to pay Microsoft for tech support because ATT’s email client won’t play nice with WLM. I want to speak with your supervisor. Now. When the supervisor finally came on the phone, it took her another half an hour to get things working, and she had to remotely connect to my computer to do it. Oddly enough, it took me less than five minutes to make the needed adjustments to MailWasher for all five accounts. (Mail Washer is a great antispam program that has cut my spam down from a gush to a mere trickle.)
This is the same internet service provider who after three phone calls to finally convince somebody that my internet was going in and out, two more phone calls in an attempt to get my WIFI to work, and after sending two service technicians to my house to try to get a replacement box to work told me that because their brand new box put out such an anemic and crappy WIFI signal that it dropped out five feet from the box, (the malfunctioning box they were replacing put out a WIFI signal I could pick up anywhere in the house), I would have to BUY A ROUTER TO BOOST THEIR BOX’S PUNY SIGNAL AND MAKE THEIR EQUIPMENT WORK! The third tech, who actually had more sense than God gave a doorknob, figured out that the problem was that a neighbor’s WIFI was on a competing frequency and was canceling mine out, determined what signal the neighbor was using and installed a box that used a frequency it wouldn’t compete with. I won’t even go into what it took to set my mom’s new modem up, starting with charging her $99 for a modem that was defective.
Today’s travail brings up another point. There appears to be a move by internet service providers to fix it so their email clients won’t work with Microsoft’s, so that their subscribers will have to use a web browser to access their proprietary email servers directly, and use their client, — which means all your stored emails are on their server — or else you have to completely bypass them and use something like Gmail that will play nice with Windows. I’ll tell you right now. I absolutely refuse to use a browser to access my email (or use Gmail, come to that) and have my stored emails sitting on somebody else’s equipment. In the first place, having to use a web browser to access my email is a pain in the butt. I don’t need or want all their little news services and shopping services, and happy little bells, lights, whistles and whatnot, all of which are designed to track where I go and what I do on the internet so they can sell the data to marketing firms, and I’m not happy with storing my emails where the National Furtive Agency can hack through their server security like it doesn’t exist, and browse through all my emails at their leisure. I want MY emails on MY computer. (If the National Furtive Agency thinks it has to know my business, the more hoops they have to jump through to access it, the better.)
*Since the advent of computers and computer modems, a sizeable percentage of medical transcription has been done by transcription services that employ people who work from home. While she and I have been friends and colleagues for a long time, she lives two states away, and we have never actually met face to face.