Down To the Nitty Gritty

When I went by today, mom said she wanted to go to Carillon, a large facility nearby that has various levels of care from independent to total assistance. She has known people who have been there and she likes the facilities. A friend gave us the name of a person to contact and the receptionist at The Garrison said that he is considered a health care professional and so can come see mother in quarantine. I need to call him Monday and make an appointment. We need to “get on the list ASAP.” We talked about estate sales. A friend had one and I’m trying to find his phone number to contact him to see who did his estate sale and get his recommendation.

We talked about getting me into Carillon as well. She wants us both to go there as soon as we can get in. This makes perfect sense to me with my health issues. I am fully capable of living independently, but if I have to go through chemo again (as I inevitably will), I’m going to want somebody checking on me on a fairly regular basis “just ’cause.” The last time I went through chemo, I had a heart attack, a bad reaction to two chemo drugs, and pneumonia and was in the hospital four times between January and July of that year. I dread the thought, but am hopeful that I will have enough time to get mom settled, have the estate sale, and sell her house and car before I have to get serious with the lymphoma again. I see the oncologist a week from this coming Monday.

As I was driving up the street to mom’s house to get some financial papers and check on the place, there were “Estate Sale” signs out where traffic could see them. I walked up to the house where they were having it and talked to the lady who was doing it. She told me how she charged and I got her card for future reference.

This afternoon I called AT&T and got her cable TV cancelled. We kept the phone and internet for the time being because we don’t yet know if she can have her own phone in the skilled nursing facility at Carillon (she’s had that phone number since 1975 and everybody and their cousin has it), and I don’t have unlimited data on my phone and can use her WiFi when I’m there. Tomorrow, I need to unplug and unhook her TV cable boxes and get them to the UPS store next week to return them to AT&T.

The next hurdle we face is getting the house in shape to sell (Estate sale to sell what we can, donating what we can to charity, and I think we’re going to need to rent a skip from the city . . .), and getting it sold. Her car is not that old and has fairly low mileage.

Mom is holding up pretty well considering everything that’s happening. She is having to face the fact that she won’t be living anymore in the house she has lived in since 1962. She is also having to come to terms with the fact that she won’t be living independently any more. However, mom is a realist. She has always been one to face facts head on, hitch up her big girl panties and get on with it. Right now, she is in limbo, with the future still undetermined. I think once we talk to the man from Carillon, that will help. I think she’s more worried about my situation than she is her own, but then moms are like that. Yeah, they are.

Ups and Downs

Monday, Mom started some rehab exercises. That evening, she called me to let me know that an employee had tested positive for COVID and they were under a two weeks’ quarantine. The policy was that only two family members were permitted to visit, and they had to be masked, gloved and gowned when they went in. (!)

Tuesday, the occupational therapist played bingo with a group of patients including Mom, and Mom had a bingo — but didn’t get her prize! (She did get it later — it was a snack.) During physical therapy, it was noted that her feet were swollen and they gave her Lasix, which is a diuretic. The physical therapist wanted Mom to have some sweat pants and sweat shirts for physical therapy so she could move freely (and modestly!). She also needed some closed house shoes with nonskid bottoms and adjustable closure, which I ordered.

When I talked with my cousin JP Tuesday night, who has already been down this road with his own mother, my Aunt J, he suggested I make a copy of both powers of attorney — health and financial, as well as a copy of her physicians’ directives to keep in my purse as well. That is a very sound plan. Also, I was to meet with the admission supervisor of The Garrison Wednesday to sign papers, and they also wanted copies of those “instruments” as they are known in the legal profession.

July is not exactly a good time of year to go shopping for sweat suits in Texas! I did find some at Target, though. I got her a matching top and bottom in pastel pink, and a pastel yellow shirt with pastel aqua bottoms. They were a little pricey, but then they were nice. She liked the colors and thought they were pretty, and I was glad she liked them.

I called mom Wednesday morning because I wasn’t sure where her powers of attorney were — of course, they were in the flat pack filing cabinet in the computer room filed under “P” — (Duh!) Just as I was walking out the door, my oncologist’s office (I have an appointment on the 9th) called to tell me that when they called the VA to get the insurance numbers, the VA said I was going to use Medicare, which is not true. I spent half an hour frantically trying to get hold of the person I needed to talk to at the VA, left a lengthy message and gave my cell number (they keep calling my land line, and I’ve been in and out — mostly out — helping Mom, and I miss the returned phone calls!).

I met with the admissions supervisor of The Garrison on Wednesday, and we got about half an inch of paperwork (no exaggeration!) sorted and herded all the ducks into a row. I had brought her the sweat suits and when I walked into her room, she was lying in bed receiving IV fluids because she was dehydrated again (Lasix!). She liked the sweatsuits. She seemed tired and a little lethargic, which was likely due to dehydration, but she was in fairly good spirits.

On my way home, I stopped by her bank again to order a debit card. (Mom is old school. Up until about two years ago, she wrote checks for everything she didn’t buy with cash. She had a credit card but she never used it unless she just had to. Finally friends convinced her that she should use her credit card to buy groceries and pay for things she would usually write checks for, because it was faster, easier, and she would get points (!) with every purchase which could be redeemed for gift cards to local restaurant chains. She has had the bills that were the same amount every month paid by draft, but she still paid her electricity bill, credit card bill, and some other bills by check.) Now, having a debit card on her account will enable me to pay her bills on line and save her (and me!) the bother of having to write checks and send them through the mail. Wednesday evening, the house dresses we’d ordered came. I got them washed and marked and ready for today.

This morning, I had to do the “hospital hike” again to get to Covenant Hospital’s radiology department for a CT scan. I thought it was going to be the standard scan my oncologist always wanted — neck, chest, abdomen and groin — but it was just of my neck. I was pretty upset about this because I knew my oncologist was going to want the full scan, and when I got the rest of the scan, I’d have to undergo a second dose of IV contrast, instead of having it all done at once. When you have IV contrast, you need to “consume mass quantities” of water to flush it all out of your system as soon as possible as it’s potentially toxic to your kidneys. Kind of hard to be drinking all that water while you’re out running around, never mind finding places to “undrink” it all.

As soon as I was finally done with radiology, I headed north. The VA clinic happens to be next door to The Garrison, and that was my next stop. I managed to catch my PCP there only because she was supposed to do a teleconference with a patient, and he didn’t answer the phone. She and I got everything hashed out. The new consult to my oncologist had just been approved. I am supposed to get a chest, abdomen and groin CT sometime next week hopefully, because I see the oncologist on the 9th, and it would be very helpful to have all those results available at the time of that visit. He needs to know what’s going on, and I need to know what happens next.

I then went next door to bring Mom her house dresses. She was eating lunch — which looked good. It had some ham and some cornbread, and some mac and cheese, all of which she likes, She has not been getting much rehab because they are trying to rehydrate her. I’m afraid she’s becoming a little disheartened. Hopefully, they can find a balance between the swelling in her feet and her tendency to quickly dehydrate, and help her get her strength back. She was having pain in her feet earlier in the week, but they restarted one of her medications (gabapentin) and that greatly improved her pain.

Fortunately, she has her cell phone with her, because she will be under quarantine for another 10 days and while she is quarantined, only CK (her recently adopted “niece”) and I are allowed in to see her. I suspect once she can start having visitors again and her friends can cluster round, that will help improve her mood and lift her spirits. She is very much a “people person” and this enforced isolation has been hard on her.

She’s usually right on top of things and in her element. It’s been hard watching her struggle to cope with a situation that has her so stymied. Still, to have gone nearly 97 years without any major illnesses, surgeries or ongoing medical conditions has been a tremendous blessing. This is going to be a difficult transition for her and I need to be able to be there for her and help her over this hump as much as I can. Again, my major concern is to get mom into a long-term situation where she is safe and well cared for. The results of my appointment with my oncologist are going to have a major influence on my ability to do this.

Still, I’m not one to borrow trouble. There’s no point in worrying until I know what I need to worry about. So here in a little bit, I’m going to kick back, listen to some music, knit, and go to my happy place for an hour or two. It’s what helps me stay calm and strong.

Books Read in 2021

65.	Seven of Infinities, de Bodard, Aliette (novella)
64.	To Be Taught, If Fortunate, Chambers, Becky
63.	The House that Fought, Schwartz, Jenny
62.	The Galaxy and the Ground Within, Chambers, Becky
61.	What the Devil Knows: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Harris, C. S.
60.	Who Speaks for the Damned:  A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Harris, C. S.
59.	*Natural Beauty, Lyhne, Meraki P.
58.	*Fountain of Beauty, Lyhne, Meraki P.
57.	*Rising Beauty, Lyhne, Meraki P. 
56.	*Untouchable Beauty, Lyhne, Meraki P.
55.	*Claimed Beauty, Lyhne, Meraki P.
54.	*Natural Beauty, Lyhne, Meraki P.
53.	*The Wizard’s Butler, Lowell, Nathan
52.	*Bob’s Saucer Repair, Boyd Jerry
51.	*The Empress of Salt and Fortune, Vo, Nghi
50.	*Exhalation, Chiang, Ted
49.	Who Slays the Wicked:  A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Harris, C. S. (xre-read) 
48.	Why Kill the Innocent:  A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Harris, C. S. (xre-read)
47.	Where the Dead Lie:  A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Harris, C. S. (xre-read)
46.	When Falcons Fall: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Harris, C. S. (xre-read) 
45.	Who Buries the Dead: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Harris, C. S. (xre-read)
44.	Why Kings Confess: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Harris, C. S. (xre-read)
43.	What Darkness Brings:  A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Harris, C. S. (xre-read)
42.	When Maidens Mourn: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Harris, C. S. (xre-read)
41.	*Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy
40.	*In Other Lands, Brennan, Sarah Rees 
39.	Where Shadows Dance: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Harris, C. S. (xre-read)
38.	What Remains of Heaven: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Harris, C. S. (xre-read)
37.	Where Serpents Sleep: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Harris, C. S. (xre-read)
36.	Unicorn Vet, Chant, Zoe
35.	Why Mermaids Sing:  A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Harris, C. S. (xre-read)
34.	When Gods Die: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery, Harris, C. S. (xre-read)
33.	What Angels Fear: Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery 1, Harris, C. S. (xre-read)
32.	A Liaden Universe Constellation, Volume 4, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
31.	A Liaden Universe Constellation, Volume 3, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
30.	A Liaden Universe Constellation, Volume 2, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
29.	A Liaden Universe Constellation, Volume 1, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
28.	Fortune’s Favors, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (novella) (re-read)
27.	Shout of Honor, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (novella) (re-read)
26.	Trader’s Leap, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
25	*Vixen Ecology, Carriger, G. L. (Novelette)
24.	*In Other Lands, Brennan, Sara Rees
23.	Accepting the Lance, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
22.	*Neogenesis, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
21.	The Gathering Edge, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
20.	Alliance of Equals, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
19.	Dragon in Exile, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
18.	Necessity’s Child, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
17.	Dragon Ship, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
16.	Ghost Ship, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
15.	Saltation, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
14.	Fledgling, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
13.	Mouse and Dragon, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
12.	I Dare, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
11.	Local Custom, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
10.	Plan B, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
9.	Carpe Diem, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
8.	Agent of Change, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
7.	Conflict of Honors, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
6.	Crystal Dragon, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve (re-read)
5.	*Goblin Fruit, Lake, Celia
4.	*Masquerade in Lodi, Bujold, Lois McMaster (Novella)
3.	*Time Variance of Snow, Yu, E. Lilly
2.	*When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain, Vo, Nghi (Novelette)
1.	Crystal Soldier, Lee, Sharon and Miller, Steve	(re-read)


Cleared the First Hurdle

I apologize for the lack of a post yesterday, but when I finally got home Saturday night, I was so brain-dead-tired that by the time I got something to eat, bed was all I could think of.

I showed up at the hospital Saturday morning with mom’s purse and some clothes I had brought for her from home all tucked into this canvas messenger bag I have. I had her little calculator and her bank statement, and she reconciled it. I had gotten her mail, which included a check she needed to deposit, which I did for her this morning with the banking app (I use a different bank, and I’ve used their app for a couple of years now — great time saver!). Then she made a little list of all the things she wanted me to bring from home for her. (Insert here the obligatory allusion to the song from Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, The Mikado).

We learned from mom’s nurse that she would indeed be discharged that afternoon and that people from The Garrison had said they would be coming to get her to take her there at 4:30. Then the nurse told us that the way it usually happens is that when transport teams are coming to get you, they will either be half an hour early or two hours late. Just our luck that the Garrison people did not come for her until almost 6:00. (Waiting for something to happen is a lot more tiring than you’d think!) But finally the Garrison folks came. She was able to get up and transfer to the stretcher, but it is obvious she has lost strength. So the Garrison folks wheeled her off, and I hiked off to my car to follow.

They had already gotten her to her room and put her in bed by the time I got there. I put her extra clothes away and the toiletries she’d brought from the hospital and put all the essentials like tissues and her cell phone where she could get at them. By the time we got her situated, it was sneaking up on 7 o’clock.

This morning, I went to her house to get the things on the list, got her mail, and headed north. It was almost 10:30 by the time I got to The Garrison, which is on the other side of town over by the University and University Medical Center. She had already eaten breakfast, which she liked. She seems to be settling in well.

Today, when I left The Garrison to return home, I was putting my key into the ignition when I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye. It was a local denizen going about his business on a Sunday morning. Young Jack went his way, and I went mine.

I’m glad mom was discharged on a weekend as this will give her some time to adjust to her new surroundings before she actually starts physical therapy. Now that she is out of the woods and on the mend, I am going to step back and let the rehab people do their job.

We don’t yet know how long she will be at the rehab facility, but she has decided that when she leaves rehab she will go to assisted living. Which assisted living facility she will go to has yet to be decided. We first need to determine what her care needs will be before we start looking. The next hurdle will be deciding which assisted living facility she will go to.

To returned to the regularly scheduled program, I haven’t knitted a stitch for over a week.

This afternoon, I was working on the Letticia shawl and solved a problem with the lattice lace that had been bugging me since I started these shawls — that ugly line of stitches that was at the right side of the lattice lace. It’s going to involve purling through the back loop, though.

Which is to say, I frogged the entire shawl. Tomorrow, I’m going to rework the pattern to change the appropriate purl stitches to ptbl stitches and add an extra stitch in between each of the lattice lace panels.

I’m also going to see if I can’t also add an extra stitch to the outside of the border to give it a little more substance. After all the tumult and stress of this past week, I need to take a little time to be quiet and still, and knit up the raveled sleeve of care – to coin a phrase.

The Rumor Is True

The nephrologist (kidney doctor) mentioned yesterday that mom was going to be discharged soon and that she is going to The Garrison for an as yet undisclosed amount of time for rehab. This was the first we’d heard of any of it. However, this does seem to be the case. On my way out today, I talked to the nurse and she said tomorrow is the day. The time is still not known.

Today, the physical therapy lady got mom up and she took a short walk in the hall. I had brought mom her mail, which included bills and a bank statement, and her purse, so she could pay the bills. She would have also reconciled her checkbook, but she is not used to using a touch screen, and using the calculator app on my tablet wasn’t working for her.

This afternoon, I got on Amazon and found her some house dresses that she liked and she ordered three of them so she would have something to wear until the catheter comes out. (She usually wears slacks.) They should be here by Wednesday. We talked a little bit about assisted living facilities and what they may be like. I think she’s decided it’s time.

On the way home, I stopped off at her bank to order her more checks. My name is also on her checking account, and her bank has a banking app. While I was there, I got one of the bank ladies to set me up for it, got the app downloaded and got passwords, etc. This will be useful for when she needs to deposit a check. You don’t have to take them to the bank anymore to deposit them. You use the banking app.

When I went to her house tonight, I got her little calculator so she can reconcile her checkbook. I also got her something to wear tomorrow when they come get her to take her to the rehab facility — whenever that is. I also got today’s mail from her dear neighbor JM who has been so good to my mom over the years. I will take that mail to her tomorrow.

Hopefully, things will go well tomorrow. I just looked at Google maps to make sure I know where The Garrison is, It’s right next door to the new VA clinic. Yep. I know where that is.

Now What?

Noises are being made about discharging mom. She will be going to a local skilled nursing/rehab facility for the short term. Several days ago, the social services provider presented me with a list of local facilities and their ratings, and I picked the two with the highest ratings for them to try first. Then social services has to see if either of them can take her (do they have room?), whether they will take her based on her health status and care needs, and whether they will play nice with mom’s insurance. The facility she’s going to was not one of those two, but it’s social services’ job to come up with the best fit they can.

My and my brother’s overriding concern must be to see that she goes to a place where people are taking good care of her and are keeping her safe, both in the short term, and in the long term. If trained medical professionals whose job it is to realistically assess mom’s physical limitations and determine if her house is safe for her to live in (and they can get the medical equipment she would need in through the front door!) make that determination, and can provide people who can keep her safe in that environment 24/7, then I’m sure my brother and I could agree to it.

But, sometimes real life is hard. Sometimes what somebody wants, and what somebody needs don’t always match up. Like my brother says, we need to let the social services people do their job.

Slowly, Slowly Climbs the Snail . . .

Apologies for going into such detail about mom’s troubles, but as I have noted previously, mom is a social butterfly loose in a meadow full of flowering friendships. She is also the 12th (and only one still alive) of 12 children, and I have cousins whom I reckon by the dozens. And everybody wants to know, “What Happened?” It makes my life easier to aim them at this space. I think I have texted more in the last 4 days than I have in the past five months!

Mom continues to improve as her kidney function returns to as normal as a 96-year-old woman can manage and as the antibiotics clear the infection. This morning she put a battery into one of her hearing aids by herself (you have to warm it between your fingers before you put it in).

(Above: View from the 10th Floor, where her room is.)

I brought her some of her newspapers and she browsed through them.

I teased her a little about her “striptease” (becoming confused and agitated in the evenings, pulling out her IV line, pulling off her gown and trying to get out of bed three nights in a row) and at first she confabulated about not knowing she had one of those little gizmos that control the TV and call the nurse and later about not being able to find it, and needing water, or a bedpan, seeing people go past in the hallway and calling out to them for help, and nobody coming, and that was the reason for her actions. You can tell she’s trying to make sense out of what has happened to her and is understandably confused, distressed and frightened by it. It’s difficult to have to watch. She tires very easily and her mental state tends to wane and she becomes more confused as she gets tired.

She gets cold. She had a sheet and a blanket when she got there. Monday, I got a second blanket for her and left it folded double lengthwise when I put it on to give her an extra layer. Today, I noted that it had gotten taken off the bed and put on the bench/sofa seating area. She complained of being cold shortly after CK had come by, and when I put this blanket back on her, we noticed that it had “Property of U. S. Government – NNMC, Shiprock” printed on it in black indelible ink.

Turns out that blanket belongs to the Northern Navajo Medical Center (NNMC) in Shiprock, New Mexico, which is on the Navajo Reservation way up in northwestern New Mexico. (Shiprock is located in what is called the Four Corners area, where the corners of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah come together. This area contains tribal lands of the Navajo, Hopi, and Ute nations and is under the governmental oversight of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Jim Chee Navajo detective novels of Tony Hillerman take place in this area.) I suspect that blanket was air-evac’ed over with a patient from Shiprock. New Mexico is a very medically under-served area and we have two major hospitals here, a level I trauma center, and high-level specialty care. I used to live near both hospitals, and the helicopters would come roaring over bringing patients in at all hours of the day and night to one hospital or the other. But I digress.

The big event that happened today was the neprhologist (kidney doctor) bringing up the idea of mom being discharged and what would happen next. She readily accepted the idea that she would be going to a skilled nursing facility (“I’m going to need something to wear. Did you do my wash?” — she doesn’t remember the several times over the past two days that I’ve told her I had), and made the comment that it might be time for going from there to an assisted living facility. I was dreading the potential uphill battle of convincing her of the unfeasibility of her living in her house. The nephrologist is the only one of her doctors who’s mentioned discharge. We have not seen the social workers yet, who are supposed to be arranging all this. One day at a time.

Hope Springs

When I went to the hospital this morning and walked into mom’s room, mom exclaimed, “There’s (my name)!” She was more lucid than she has been since Friday. Her speech was more fluent. She asked questions, and understood my answers. I explained to her what had happened, and she seemed able to follow the sequence of events. (She still has no memory of what happened, or of being in the ER.) She recognized visitors and conversed coherently with them.

Her kidney function is slowly but surely returning to normal limits for her age. Her blood pressure is a little high now, but that’s OK. She’s a little “wet” from all the IV fluids they’ve been pumping into her to help her kidneys “catch up,” which is to say, fluid is going in a little bit faster than it’s going out again, and that extra fluid tends to build up in the lungs. She’s a little wheezy, but they’ve been giving her breathing treatments, and that’s helped.

She feeds herself, although she’s not very enthused about eating since she’s lost her sense of taste for everything except sweet. This is due to aging. Her poor little taste buds just wore out. But in addition to regular foods, they’ve been feeding her nutritional supplements like Ensure Plus and Boost which have a sweet taste, so it’s more pleasurable for her to eat than her trying to force down tasteless foods.

The blood cultures are still not back, but she’s been on antibiotics for three days now.

She still has word finding difficulties and some difficulty getting words out. This all gets worse as the day progresses and she tires. All she wants to do is sleep. They still have her on the remote monitoring and have the soft restraints on her arms because she’s pulled her IV out twice now (Saturday and Sunday), and they don’t want to risk her doing it again — they’re running out of good veins!

The problem remains that her back pain is chronic, will worsen, and there’s nothing they can do about it except dose her with pain killers. She’s a fall risk, and sitting, standing and walking are what aggravate her pain the most. When she leaves the hospital (possibly by the end of the week), she will go to a skilled nursing facility (SNF) for a while, at which time we are going to have to consider long term care.

Her house was built in 1964. Her en suite bath is too small for two people to maneuver in (her and a caregiver). (We learned that with my dad.) Both bathroom doorways are too narrow for a walker or wheel chair to fit through. (We learned that with my dad.) The hallway to the bedrooms is narrow. There’s a problematic turn from the den into the bedroom hallway that an ambulance stretcher can’t navigate. (We learned that with my dad.) Her bedroom is at the end of that hall, and the EMT’s had to carry her in a blanket sling out to where the stretcher was in the den. The only way she’s going to be able to stay at home is if we rent a hospital bed and put it in the front bedroom, and hire 24/7 care. We are facing some hard choices.

Out of the Frying Pan . . .

It was just after midnight Friday when I published the previous post. I had been scheduled for an eye exam with the VA, but the earliest appointment they could get me was in October, and it had been almost two years since my last exam. I was on the cancellation list, and at 11 o’clock Friday morning, they called and said, “Can you come at 3 PM this afternoon?” Yup. I called mom to let her know about the appointment and that once I drove home from it (after having my eyes dilated) I shouldn’t be driving any more until things settled down.

I called her again once I got back. She was on the phone with my cousin EJ, but she called me back afterward and we discussed the results of my eye exam. (Good, didn’t need my glasses changed.) We discussed the appointment she had Monday morning with the Spine Institute and when I should come pick her up.

We discussed when she should take the morphine pills they had given her in the ER that morning (one then and one at 10 pm). We discussed my coming over at 2 o’clock Saturday afternoon to do her laundry for her. She was oriented, rational, lucid, and in her usual mental state.

(Above: Brunch at IHOP after her spinal injection 7/9/2021)

At 10:30 Saturday morning, our good friend CK called me and said that she and several other people had tried to call mom earlier that morning, but had gotten neither answer nor call-back. I told her I would meet her there as I am able to get into mom’s house. We found her lying on the bed in an unresponsive state. She was ready for bed and had either just sat down on the bed or was trying to get up, and had just flopped backwards onto the bed with her legs hanging off the side. Her walker was out in the middle of the room. CK called 911.

The EMT’s said her blood pressure was very low, they could not rouse her either and they took her to the Emergency Room. Slowly over the course of the nearly 12 hours we were in the ER, she became more alert, but it was clear that something had happened.

(Not to put too fine a point on things, when I finally got home Saturday at midnight, I pulled into the driveway and discovered the battery on my garage door remote was dead.)

Now, after two days in hospital, we know she was very dehydrated. Because of the dehydration, one of her medications (a statin) caused a situation called rhabdomyolysis which was aggravating the kidney problems (from dehydration), a situation which can also also cause mental confusion. She also had some kind of infection in her blood (sepsis) (we’re still awaiting culture results), which can also cause confusion and delirium. Initially, there was some concern that the morphine she had taken (as prescribed) was also contributing to her difficulty staying awake and alert. But after two days in the hospital, the morphine has cleared out of her system, her dehydration is corrected, her blood pressure is back to normal, and she’s on IV antibiotics, but her mental state has not returned to normal. Clearly some kind of neurological event happened either Friday night or Saturday morning.

If you arouse her, she becomes awake, alert and responsive. She will engage with people, but she drifts off easily. She recognizes me, my brother, and CK, and other long-time friends when they come, but doesn’t retain the information that they visited. She has difficulty expressing herself. She either can’t find the word she wants, can’t form the word in her mouth, or she says something nonsensical or that has no relation at all to the conversation. When the ER doctor asked her why she was in the ER, she said she’d been in a car wreck (?!). The neurologist who saw her this morning asked her where she was (hospital); she said, “Ruidoso.” (Which is a town 250 miles away in New Mexico), and told the neurologist the year was 196- but couldn’t get out the last digit.

She’s had a CT of the head, which showed nothing obvious, but it was done without contrast, so the detail wasn’t great. She’s supposed to get an MRI of the brain which will give a lot more detail.

I spent most of Sunday at the hospital, although I did leave to do mom’s laundry, make her bed, take out her trash. There were dishes in the sink, and I put them in the dishwasher and ran it. The light bulb in her bedroom was burned out (?!), so I replaced the bulb. CK stayed with her while I was gone, and I went back and stayed til 10 pm.

And yes, when it rains, it does pour. This morning I heard thunder when I was getting dressed, and saw that it was raining, but not very hard. I was almost out the door when my PCP at the VA called to tell me that my biopsy results showed my lymphoma had recurred. Unfortunately, by the time I got off the phone with the VA, it was bucketing down so hard and so fast that there was water shin deep in the intersections, and there was so much water in the gutters that cars couldn’t get in that far right lane without risking drowning their engines. I practically swam to Battery Joe’s to get a new battery for my garage door remote (and I got a spare to keep in my purse!) and was at the hospital by 9 am. I spent most of the day there, but came home in the afternoon as I was exhausted.

Her mental state has improved somewhat, but it is nowhere near normal.

Right after they got her settled in her room Saturday night, she became restless. They only had her on a bed alarm and the nurses didn’t get to her until after she had pulled out her IV lines, pulled off her heart monitor leads and her hospital gown and was halfway out of the bed.

She did it again Sunday night after I left at 9:45. This is something called sundowning. It’s not a good sign. Sunday evening, they put this camera thingie (above) in her room so she can be continuously monitored during the night. (They have a special station with people whose job it is to keep watch through these cameras and alert the nurses proactively.)

This evening, I was putting clean sheets on my bed when the hospital called me at 7:30 to tell me they’ve had to put mom’s hands in soft restraints because she started trying to pull everything off again.

It’s pretty clear to everyone that mom is not going to be able to live independently anymore or to stay at her house. She is going to require round the clock monitoring. Our first priority is to get her someplace where she is safe and cared for. I’m not going to be able to address my own health concerns until that happens. The VA is supposed to schedule me for a CT scan with contrast from jaw to never-mind and I see my oncologist on the 9th. Right now I’m just taking it an hour at a time. I’m going to crash out now, and see if I can get some sleep.

Disappointments and Concerns

I had mentioned earlier that my mom has been diagnosed with degenerative scoliosis, and that the cause of her back pain appears to be a protruding intervertebral disk (“slipped disk”) at L2-L3 which is impinging on a nerve root. Friday the 9th, she had her nerve block. The nerve block does not take effect immediately. It takes a day or two to kick in. Monday it started working, and worked very well until Wednesday when her pain came back with a vengeance. It was so intense that she ended up in the ER yesterday and was given a shot of morphine.

I am afraid that nothing will be able to be done for her pain except the surgical removal of the portion of the disk that is compressing the nerve root, which I am afraid the doctors won’t do because of her age (nearly 97), never mind the severity of her scoliosis. She’s fine as long as she’s in her recliner (which I am so glad I was able to talk her into getting), but the minute she stands up and starts walking, the disk puts pressure on the nerve, and she is in severe pain.

At the start of all this, she had me unearth my dad’s collapsible wheelchair which she had tucked away under a sheet along with miscellaneous other things including boxes of Christmas decorations. I found it, got it out of its case and set it out by the wall. It’s been sitting there this whole time. I’m afraid that’s the next step. Chronic pain is debilitating on both the mind and the body, and controlling it with drugs takes its own toll. We’re supposed to go back to the Spine Institute Monday morning (the earliest they could get her in) to talk to a nurse practitioner.

In the meantime, I have my own health concerns. Thankfully, my heart is not one of them at the moment. The echocardiogram I had two weeks ago was normal. In February, I flunked my mammogram, which I usually do because of fibrocystic changes I’ve had for years and years. I invariably get referred for a sonogram, which I usually pass. Only not this time. I was supposed to have a follow-up sonogram in March, but it didn’t get scheduled until July 7th. The radiologist spotted something in my left armpit he wanted to biopsy, which happened Monday the 12th. Still awaiting results of that. It could be one of three things: reactive lymph nodes resulting from the COVID vaccines, both of which were in that arm, and no biggie; a recurrence of CLL and a real bummer; or it could be a whole nother can of worms. The good news in this situation is that there is a new rule with the VA that took effect in 2019 which says if I live more than an hour’s drive away from a specific VA facility (the VA hospital in Amarillo is two hours away), I am entitled to community based care. My PCP at the VA has already made note of the local oncologist who treated me in 2018. If I have to go through that whole song and dance again, I can go back to my local doc and the VA will cover it without insisting I go to Amarillo for it.

In the knitting knews, I was watching a YouTube video with “advanced” knitting tips, and he was talking about if you didn’t like how the wrong side of a p2tog looked, do it through the back loop. The lightbulb in my head lit up bigtime.

The “stripes” in the Smuggler’s Moon shawl are:

RS: p1, k1, p2tog, yo, k1, yo, p2tog, k1, p1.

WS: k1, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k1

It’s that second p2tog that looks wonky on the wrong side (see above). This is because those p2tog’s incorporate a stitch that is “made” from a yarn over that was knitted on the WS row. But, in the first p2tog, the “made” stitch is the second of the two stitches being purled together, and it ends up on the top. In the second p2tog, the “made” stitch is the first stitch and ends up on the bottom. Bcause of the way the bar from the yarn over twists as the stitch is worked, that makes it look wonky. I tried purling that second p2tog through the back loop (which is a neat trick if you can do it!) and — no more wonky! No. I’m not going to frog the whole thing back to the “moon” part, because this is all about how three stitches on every other row look on the wrong side of the work. But that little trick gets filed away for the next one . . . .

One thing this guy brought up was something I’d never thought about (at 7.54 in the video). All yarn is twisted during the spinning process, and many yarns are twisted again during the plying process. That’s what holds the fibers/plys together. But, when you pull from the center of a cake or pull-skein, the mechanics of that situation means the yarn is being twisted yet again as you pull it out of the cake. This added twist can affect your tension and/or the stitch definition in a noticeable way — especially if it’s twisting in the opposite direction from the twist the yarn was given when it was spun/plyed. (Could this be why you have so much trouble with yarn “splitting?”) This is especially important when knitting with a single ply yarn like the Malabrigo worsted — center pulling it could “untwist” it, compromise the tensile strength of the yarn and lead to fraying and/or pulling apart. But, not to worry. I never center-pull from a cake for the same reason I hate pull skeins (those tools of the Devil!). At some point, the cake implodes and yarn barf happens. However, go ahead and use that “cake” winder, put the cake in a bowl and pull it from the outside of the cake. No problem.

I’ll leave you with the Smiley Face Bush all dolled up for 4th of July.