Monday, December 17, 2012

Shriek

While waiting to get an MRI of my neck this afternoon, I met an 82 year old woman who was getting an MRI to see if the brain tumor she'd had removed four times (!) had returned.  She also said she had fourteen children!

The MRI technician said he'd had his chest cracked twice and was 52 years old.

You never know who you'll meet in the course of a day.

This evening when I was getting ready to turn out the light, I saw a strip of something underneath a framed picture on the wall right by the patio door.  I touched it to remove it from the frame, and it moved!!!!!  It was a lizard's tail.  I couldn't help my automatic reaction of shrieking.  The dog did nothing.  Poor Wayne was sound asleep.  He got up and caught the lizard and put it outside in the backyard.  I apologized about three times for waking him up like that.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Decorating with the Cats

My cats cannot resist playing with the Christmas ornaments on the tree.  I purposely put the "safe" ornaments on the lower branches of the tree, so they have something to play with, and I can hear them in the middle of the night swatting at them.

This morning, I found an ornament on the bed.  It made me laugh out loud to see it.
They bring all kinds of things to put on the bed.  I found one of Walter's tennis balls on the bed.  It's the funniest thing to see Henry hold a tennis ball in his mouth.  Somehow, he grasps the fuzz on the ball and carries it around the house, yowling in unearthly meows while he walks through the halls, calling for someone to come play with him.
Flu Shot

Yesterday I got a flu shot.  I went to my local CVS, and after signing paperwork, I was told to wait at the end of the counter.  While I was waiting, I read the handout on the flu shot.

I recommend reading everything you get especially if it's something that's going to affect your body.  I read that the flu shot had thimerosal, which helps preserve the ingredients.  Only problem is that thimerosal contains mercury.  I'd just gotten this book by Dr. Hulda Clark, The Cure for all Diseases, and she says "metal" is one of the causes of disease.

I recently had a crown because of a cracked tooth that previously had a metal filling.  That filling has been there a long time.  My dentist removed the metal filling and replaced it with a porcelain crown - no metal.

So when I saw that the flu shot had thimerosal, I thought about whether it was worth it to get a flu shot.  I kept reading and found out that a thimerosal-free flu shot was available.  When the pharmacist came to me with the flu shot, I asked her if the thimerosal-free flu shot was available.  She graciously said she would check.  (Shout out to Nicole at CVS - she's the nicest pharmacist I ever met, and she's so helpful and knowledgeable.)

While I was waiting, I browsed the card selections.  It was a long time, but Nicole came out with the thimerosal-free flu shot.  She said that the reason the regular flu shot has thimerosal is that the vial contains enough flu shot vaccine for about twenty shots, so it needs to be preserved, and that's what the purpose of thimerosal is.  The thimerosal-free flu shot is a single dose.

I was so grateful that Nicole did the research and found that out so I could get a thimerosal-free flu shot.  I don't need any more metal in my body.

Moral of the story:  read the brochures that come with your prescriptions, and read up on things that will affect your body if you take them.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

So Many Things To Do

When you retire, people ask you, "Are you bored?  What do you do all day?"

I do so much, but some days, I do nothing.  That's the beauty of retirement.

When I tell people I've had two knee surgeries, they say things like, "Oh, it's too bad you had to have surgery while you're retired."  I tell them, "It's still a good life."

I go to bed whenever I want, and I wake up when I want.  I leisurely read the paper, drink my coffee, and eat breakfast.  I don't have to rush.  I may have things that I want to do for the day, but I've gotten really good at being flexible.

For instance, today I was going to get my allergy shot.  I'm supposed to go every two weeks.  I was going every four weeks until I got a dog.  Now I have to get "dog allergy shots" every two week.  Oh, well...

But I decided to walk Walter.  Then the phone rang, and it was my cousin.  I sat down in my glider rocker, put my feet up on the glider ottoman, and relaxed while Nita and I caught up with each other.  It's my favorite place to sit while I'm talking on the phone.  I can look out through the picture window and see what's going on in the backyard.   Sometimes a cat will jump on my lap while I'm sitting there.

So after Nita and I talked, I realized that I needed some protein before my walk with Walter.  I made an omelet with green peppers, cheese, and spinach.  When I took the plastic top off the spinach container, I saw a recipe for spinach orzo salad.  Hmmm, that looks good.  I have all the ingredients for this.  I'll cook this tonight for dinner.

I took Walter for a walk.  That counted as my 30 minutes of cardio, and I thought about going to work out, but I figured that I could do the rest of my exercises at home.

It's after 3, and I don't want to drive in traffic when schools are getting out, so I'll get my allergy shot another day.

 Then I looked through the mail and saw a bill, so I decided to take care of that.  I checked e-mail, and then it was time to start cooking dinner.  The spinach and orzo salad was pretty good.

O.K. - then it's time to write - back to work on my novel.  I'm up to 142 pages and 51, 426 words.

It's 10 o'clock.  Finished with tonight's installment of my novel.  Let me write on my blog.  Just wanted to say that retirement is great!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Dreaded Dremel


This is not an instrument of destruction.  I ordered this on the internet, so I could trim Walter's nails without the worry of cutting his nails too short and making them bleed.

Wayne helped me figure out how it worked, and then I turned it on to show Walter.  He started barking and tried to bite it.  Yeah, this is really going to work...

Every few days, I'd bring the dreaded Dremel out and show Walter.  Same reaction, barking and trying to bite it.

I'd try to pick up his paw so I could use the Dremel tool.  Walter's not buying into this concept.

Well, every day is a new day.  I brought out the Dremel tool, and Wayne got Walter to lie down on the carpet in front of the sofa.  I tentatively picked up one paw and applied the Dremel tool.  Hey!  He let me file his nail down!

Now, as to the rest of his nails, that was a different story.  He'd jump up and run around the sofa.  Wayne called him to sit in front of us, and he sat.  He coaxed him to lie down again.  It worked!

I was able to trim all of Walter's nails without making any of them bleed.  Success!

I decided to try it on the cats.  Hah!  First, Zoe.  She whined and meowed, but she let me file down all of her nails.  Then Harry, and even Violet.  Henry was a different story.  I got ONE of his nails.  I will have to use the regular nail clipper on him.  And even then, I have to wrap him up in a blanket like a burrito kitty so he doesn't  get away while I'm trimming his nails.  He is my sweetest kitty, but he still tries to bite me when I trim his nails.  The best time to cut his nails is when he's napping.  If I pick him up and start clipping right away, I can get quite a few nails done before he's fully awake and realizes what I'm doing.

I've been trying to convince Wayne to let me pluck his eyebrows.  Yeah, he's as happy to let me do that as Henry is to let me clip his nails.  He's worried because he's seen the "haircuts" I've given the bushes in the front yard.  He jokes that I give them "Charlie Brown Christmas tree haircuts," and he shudders to think what he'll look like when I've finished.  He should trust me, right?  My eyebrows look fine....

Friday, November 23, 2012

Gremlin?

This is Lady, the Boston Terrier.  She jumped up on the sofa and had her ears down, but then she put her ears up.  It looks as if she's doing a good imitation of a gremlin.  And look at the TV in the background.  There are three elves.  It looks as if Lady is showing her solidarity with the elves.
Three Dog Night
All three of the Boston Terriers must love Wayne.  When I saw him sitting with the dogs, I thought of that group, Three Dog Night.  That's what Wayne's got.
Walter's First Christmas With Us

Wayne and I put up the Christmas tree tonight.  I'm hoping Walter does not pee on the tree!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Why Flowers Have Teeth Marks

I cannot have flowers in the house without the cats coming to investigate them and one by one, the leaves are ripped off their stems. The cats either eat them or bring them to another part of the house and play with them.  We may not find those leaves for months.  Then they start in on the flowers.  They pull the whole flower out and bite on the stem.  I have no idea why they like rose stems with thorns.  The last thing they do is tear the flower apart.  Petals everywhere.

I got two dozen long-stemmed roses in in pink, red, white, and yellow, and the bouquet is beautiful.  They're from my friend, Toni, who knows that I celebrate for 59 days this birthday.

The card read:
"Happy Belated Birthday!  I just thought I would extend the birthday celebration.  And you my beautiful, brilliant, and loving friend, deserve to be celebrated!  I'm so grateful to have you in my life!"

Doesn't every one need a friend like that?  I love the flowers, and so do the cats.  I hope they survive for at least a week in our house!


Fluffy Bird

I wish I had a picture of what I saw as I was driving to physical therapy.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something in a garden on the main street in our subdivision.    I was intrigued, so I made a u-turn and stopped right in front of it.  It looked like a fluffy cat, but then I thought maybe it was an owl.  Then I made out the head and body, and I thought it was an eagle, but it didn't have a brown body and white head, so I thought it might be a hawk.  It was white and had brown speckles all over.  What a beautiful creature!

I was worried that maybe it was hurt, and that's why it was just sitting in the garden.  I reached for the camera I keep in my glove compartment, but when I turned around, the bird was gone.

I was happy and sad:  sad because it flew away before I could get a picture, but happy because it wasn't hurt and could fly.  If the bird was hurt, I wasn't sure what to do, and I thought of what number I could call so someone could come and get the bird and rehabilitate it.  But the hawk, or whatever it was, flew away, so I could relax.

That was a gift today.  Thank You, God!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

No Arches

Yesterday I found out I am flat-footed.

I read in a shoe catalog about how to find out if you have arches or not.  You wet your feet and then stand on a piece of paper, and from the outline of your feet, you can tell if you're flat-footed, high arched, or just in-between.

I asked my physical therapist, Jeannie Dufrene, what kind of new sneakers to buy.  She said, "it depends on your feet."  I told her about what I'd read, and she said, "I can tell you right now.  Here. take off your shoes and socks, and let me take a picture of your feet."  She got her cell phone and took pictures from the front and back view of my feet.

Wow!  Even I could tell I am flat-footed!  And feet are not the prettiest part of my body, even though I just had a deluxe pedicure, courtesy of my friend Amy, who gave me a gift certificate last Christmas, and I finally got around to using it two days ago.

My physical therapist asked if one leg was shorter than the other.  I said, "I think one is, but I don't know which one."  She said, "Lie down on this table and let me measure you."  She took a tape measure and measured from the point on my hip bone down the length of my leg.  "Your left leg is 1/2 inch longer than your right leg."

I said, "O.K. so I need orthotics for my arches."  Jeannie said, "Yeah, and you can try them for a while, and then see if you can get a lift for your right shoe."  I said, "I never knew, until I read that article in the shoe catalog, that having flat feet can affect your knees.  Maybe if I start wearing these orthotics, my knees will get better."  Jeannie said, "I'll start you off with these - they're mild.  You can use them for about six months, and then move up to moderate.  But only wear them for two hours a day, or you might have pains because of the new orthotics."  I said, "O.K., I 'll just wear them when I'm working out."

I am so happy to learn about all this, and I'm hoping this makes a difference.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Friends Pet Fest

Today at Lafreniere Park, there was a pet festival from 11 til 4.  We got there about 2 o'clock, and it was packed.

Dogs everywhere.
All kinds, all sizes, all colors.

Walter was overstimulated by all the dogs, and he was making his monkey sounds to indicate his excitement.  All sorts of vendors had booths around the park, and Wayne went to the ones giving samples of dog and cat food, so we got several varieties to try out on our animals.

Walter sniffed everyone he could.  He's so friendly and never met a person he didn't like.  He's an unusual looking dog, and people stopped us to ask what breed he was.  We said he was a rescued dog from SPCA, and we were told he was a mix of German Wire-haired Pointer and terrier, but we thought he looked like a smaller version of Irish Wolfhound. 


We were goggled by some of the dogs we saw.  There was a Kommondor, and I'd never seen one except on the TV when the Westminster Dog Show was broadcast.  The dog looked like he had rasta braids all over, and he was huge, even though the lady who had him on a leash said he weighed 115 pounds.




There were all kinds of  animals for adoption beside dogs.  There cats and rabbits and birds.  I even saw a huge tortoise.






I'd never even heard of one kind of rabbit; it was a lionhead rabbit.
Well, we didn't adopt any more animals, but we pet quite a few, and Walter had a grand time.  We left the petfest and walked over to the dog park, and Walter had more fun.  Everyone talks to everybody at the dog park, just like all the dogs mingle.
Walter got a bath when we got home.  Lots of dog slobber - the cats wouldn't appreciate that, and maybe Walter wouldn't either.

Back home, Wayne watched the Saints play the Raiders.  Thank goodness, the Saints won.  Now it's time to watch Treme.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cargo Pants

Who invented cargo pants?  What a great idea!  I love cargo pants with all of their pockets, kind of like my roll top desk with all of its drawers and cubby holes.

I don't usually carry a purse, so I like the idea of pockets, where I can stash lip gloss in one pocket, money in another, and my keys in another, and kleenex in another.  I especially like the pocket alongside of my thigh because that's where I put my fan, which is a necessity due to my hot flashes.  Wayne likes my cargo pants because that means he doesn't have to put all of those aforementioned items in his pants pockets.  He still tells me, "That's the only reason you want me around, because I have pockets!"  I tell him, "Not the only reason, but one of the reasons..."

What's great about these cargo pants I bought from Sam's is that they have a small percentage of Lycra!  What person doesn't love Lycra?  Another great invention!  Do you remember the days of lying on the bed to zip up your jeans?  I hate tight jeans now. I refuse to wear tight pants and feel uncomfortable.  Lycra makes pants feel "just right," as Goldilocks would say.

OK, so this ends my ode to Cargo Pants.  Just had to say it.
Triple Threat?

I was sitting at a red light and for some reason, I started thinking about people who can do more than one thing well.  Triple threats in the entertainment industry can act, sing, and dance.  Some actors learn a skill for a new role.  Wendell Pierce, an actor on Treme, learned to play the trombone, so he could portray a musician.  It's hard enough to be able to master one skill, but to be able to do two things well, or three things, wow!

I guess the reason I was thinking about this was because I just left a writers' group meeting at the library.  I went to the writers' group meeting because I'm writing a novel this month.  Yeah.  The reason I'm writing a novel this month is because I love to read and listen to books on tape, and I go to my library quite frequently.   I love my librarians, and every time I go in to return books, I tell them about what I've read.  Sometimes, they tease me and hide behind the counter when they see me coming, but they duck in full view of my line of sight, so they know that I know they're teasing me.  Any way, the librarians told me about NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it takes place in the month of November.  I've started several novels but never finished them, and I always said that when I retired, I'd write.  Well, I've been retired for a year now, and here was the kickstart I needed.  I thought at first, "I'll do that next year," but then I thought, "What's stopping you now?" and that's how I started writing my novel.  The idea is that you write 1667 words every day during the month of November, and at the end of 30 days, you will have written 50,000 words, which is the size of the novel, The Great Gatsby.   I thought, "I can do that."  First I had to give up Castleville.  For those of you who don't know what that is, it's Facebook crack.  Better to never get started on it.  It's a social media game and a supreme time waster.  I spent hours every day playing that game.  When you go to other players' "kingdoms," you realize that there are hundreds of people with OCD out there just like you!  There are lots of similar games, such as Farmville, Chefville, The Ville, etc.  The idea is that you have a farm, or a kingdom, or a restaurant, or a house, and you have to build it by completing goals, but you have to network with other players to get objects from them.

I had resisted getting on Facebook for years, but it wasn't until last Christmas Eve when my sister-in-law and my cousin's son started talking about Farmville and giving each other gifts, that it peaked my curiosity, and I signed on to play Farmville.  I found out that my niece was playing Castleville, and she generously shared her "neighbor" list with me, so that now I had hundreds of other players to help me complete goals.  It's like gambling but without money as the payoff.  Every time you complete a goal, you can't rest on your laurels and be satisfied because you're given more quests to complete.  I don't know why I got into it so thoroughly.  Whenever my husband saw me sitting at the computer, he said, "Are you playing Castleville?"  I felt like I should hide my addiction to this game, but then I just told him I'm addicted to this game.  I knew I was wasting hours a day on the game, but I rationalized, saying to myself,"Now that I'm retired, I have time to waste."  OK - enough time wasted.  I did it for almost a whole year.  The thing that made me stop cold turkey was NaNoWriMo.  Now I'm addicted to writing every day.  But at least, it's a creative addiction.  

So back to triple threats.  I thought I was a good social worker, and that gave me satisfaction, that I could help people and I was good at it.  I did it for a long time.  There are moments of self-doubt when I thought maybe I'm not a good social worker.

Now I'm retired, and I'm trying out the things I always said I'd do when I retired - most of them in the creative vein.  I was academic for so long, lodged in the left side of the brain, and only occasionally venturing to tap into the creative right side of my brain with dancing or taking guitar lessons or gardening or writing children's books and trying to illustrate them.  I didn't ever feel that I had mastered any of those creative attempts, but I wanted to at least try to do them.

Now I've started NaNoWriMo, and I'm learning about a whole new culture, that of "the writer," so I went to the writers' group meeting.  One of the speakers at NaNoWriMo recommended going to SOLA, Southern Louisiana Writers' Group, so I went online and found where the meeting would be held, wrote it down on my calendar and made plans to go.  It was at 10 in the morning, and anyone who knows me, knows that could be a deal breaker.  I stay up late every night.  After 35 years of working and getting up at 5:45 every morning, my greatest luxury in retirement is being able to stay up late, and sleep until I wake up without being jarred awake by my alarm clock.  Lying in bed, slowly waking up, thinking about random things, is so much better than rushing to get out the door in the morning and driving to work in traffic, to get to my job on time.  That has to be my favorite thing about retirement.

So getting up early on a Saturday to go to a 10 a.m. meeting wasn't the first thing I wanted to do.  But the speaker for this meeting sounded good, and I wanted to hear what she had to say.  Therefore, I got myself up at 8 a.m., even though I had stayed up until 2 (writing my novel), and drove over to the Eastbank Regional Library for 10 o'clock.  Well, it was definitely worth it.  I'm glad I went.  She offered some valuable advice.

But all of that got me thinking at the red light about triple threats.  Here I am at age 59, and I finally think I know what I want to be when I grow up: a writer.  And I want to be a good writer.  Who aspires to be just mediocre at what they do?   And that made me think about whether or not I really was a good social worker.  I thought about how hard it is for me to learn to play guitar and piano and to dance and to draw and paint.  None of those things come naturally to me, but I still want to try.

God bless the triple threats!  Those are talented people, and I admire them.  I wish I could sight read music and play it as soon as I saw the notes.  I wish I could sing, but I was not standing in line when God was handing out that gift.  I was probably playing Castleville.

I am not a gifted athlete.  I remember a girl in high school who was the fastest runner I had ever seen.  In comparison, I plod along.  It took me a year to learn how to do a cartwheel, and I am not fearless when it comes to doing flips on the balance beam.  Falling on my crotch once wiped away any fearlessness I may have had.  Ask Wayne about my dancing ability.  I wish I could pick up a step that has just been demonstrated.  It took me months to learn how to do the West Coast Swing, and when we dance, Wayne constantly admonishes me to "stand up straight, wait for my lead, start with your right foot."  Oy vey...

I want to learn how to use a potter's wheel, and how to sculpt, and how to blow glass.  I guess I should console myself that artists have been perfecting their craft for years.  Did you see my picture on an earlier blog of my knitting attempt?

I will continue to try new things.  I just will. Whether or not I become a triple threat at any of them...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Second Day of Birthday Celebration

People who know me know that however many years old I am is how many days I celebrate for.  I'm 59 years old, and yesterday was my birthday, so I'm celebrating for 59 days.  I don't remember when I started this.  It may have been on my 30th birthday.  That's the year I had my horseback riding accident, and since that was so traumatic, I figured I needed to celebrate more to make up for that day.

Another thing people know about me is that I gave my husband 50 presents on his 50th birthday.  I think I got that idea from my friend Gayle a long time ago.

For Wayne's birthday, I went into a fishing store and I told the salesman, "You have to help me.  I need 50 presents for my husband's 50th birthday."  He said, "Lady, just give him a $50 gift certificate."  I said, "No, I need you to help me get 50 presents.  He's a fisherman, and this is the store to find fishing presents."  He groaned, but he helped me find 50 things.

Wayne always tells me, I cheated because I counted one sinker as a present and one hook and one bobber, etc.  But I did get 50 different things, and I wrapped them up individually.

Then I made lobster bisque from scratch and a carrot cake, too.  Wayne and his buddy, Jay, had gone fishing on his birthday, so when they returned, I was hoping that Wayne and I could have a romantic dinner together, and then I'd surprise him with all 50 gifts.  Best laid plans, right?

Well, Jay came into the kitchen, lifted the pot off of the lobster bisque and sniffed it and he said, "Ooh, I want some of that!  And you made carrot cake?  Oh, I want some of that cake, too!"  Jay has never been shy, can you tell?

Well, we all three sat down to dinner...  After we ate, I figured Jay wasn't going any where, so I brought out the bag with 50 gifts and poured it out on the table.  Wayne and Jay were like little kids, opening up all the presents.  It wasn't exactly the night I had in mind, but it was fun anyway.

When I turned 50 four years later, I told Wayne I wanted him to get me 50 presents, too.  He rolled his eyes and shook his head (how often have  I seen this elicited response?), and he said, "I hate to shop."  I said, "I know.  That's why I made it easy on you.  I put together a little folder with pictures of stuff you can get and what stores to find them in.  It doesn't have to be expensive."  He asked, "Do I have to wrap all of them individually?" I shook my head, "Yes."  Can't I just put everything in one big box?"  I shook my head, "No."  He looked crestfallen.  I told him, "I'll show you some of the things when we walk around different stores.  It's not hard.  It'll be fun.  You'll see."  He gave me a look.  You can imagine.

Well, my 50th birthday came, and Wayne did good.  He got me lots of my favorite things, and he wrapped up each one.

He told me, "Debra, I did this for your 50th birthday, but I'm not doing it for your 60th." I told him,"Wayne, if I live to be 60, you're going to be happy to do it for my 60th birthday."

As I said, I'm 59 this year, so we'll see what happens for 60.  Last year, I told Wayne I wanted a microscope.  I want to be able to see what kinds of things are on Violet's fur, for one thing.  I know I'll be putting all kinds of things under that microscope lens.  I never got the microscope, but that's OK.  I'm not a stickler for having things exactly on my birthday.  I know eventually I'll get it.  Maybe now that's he's home recuperating from his heart attack, we'll go to Precision Instruments in New Orleans, and look at microscopes this month.

For this year, I wanted a telescope.  Wayne always looks at me funny when he hears these requests.  "No perfume?"  "No, I want a telescope.  I 'd like another dog - a little one, but I'll take a telescope because I know how you feel about more animals."

I tell people I see that it's my birthday.  And I tell them that I want a telescope.  If I know what I want, I say so.  Sometimes I don't have a clue what to ask for, but this year, I knew.

Well, my friend Beverly, the minister's wife, invited me to her house for lunch, and after that, we were going to work on some photo displays for our church's 25th anniversary celebration tomorrow night.

When I got to her house, I saw a big gift bag.  I had to restrain myself from looking in it until she said, "Before we eat, I want you to open your present."  ("Yay!!!")  She knows me so well, as do many of my friends.  They know I will recycle the gift bag, so they don't put my name on the little tag.  I opened the card first, and then I opened the gift.  It was this:


Name a Star Gift Box.  I knew immediately what it was because the first time I'd heard of it, I thought it was such a great idea.  A friend of mine gave her brother the gift of naming a star for him.  Now I had one!  Beverly said that when I got my telescope, I could look for the star named for me!

After a wonderful lunch of 13 bean soup, angel hair coleslaw, and sweet potato bread, we started work on the photo displays.  We worked hard, and we talked the whole time.  It was fun and work at the same time.  

When I got home around 5:30, Beverly had left a message on the answer machine.  She said her husband Tim was bringing by one more surprise.  Tim got there within ten minutes of her call.  He walked up with what I thought was a camera tripod, and I thought, "Wow, I needed a tripod,"  but that's not what it was.  It was a telescope!

He said that he and Beverly had been given this telescope by their friends Mike and Darla, but it had been at his dad's house and they hadn't used it in years, so Beverly asked him to bring it with him when he came back from visiting with his dad.

"What an extravagant gift!"  He said, "You have Mike and Darla to thank.  They gave it to us, but we haven't used it in a long time."  While Tim was telling me about the telescope, Walter was beside himself with joy and jumping up and making monkey sounds and trying to lick Tim in the face.  I could almost get a complex because Walter barely moves from the sofa when I come home.  I said, "Walter, you act like nobody ever pets you."  He just kept running in circles around Tim's legs.

When Tim left, much to Walter's chagrin, I called Beverly to express my thanks and delight.  I told her it was absolutely perfect, plus Wayne would be happy he didn't have to buy me a telescope.  Beverly said, "Now he can spend twice as much for the microscope!" "Ha!  I'll tell him you said that.  Beverly, this is just perfect.  I have a telescope and a star to find that's named for me.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!"

So that's the second day of my 59-day birthday celebration.  When people tell me, "Happy Birthday!  I'm sorry I'm late,"  I tell them, "Hey, you're not late.  I'm celebrating for 2 months now, so you're right on time."  After "Happy Birthday," they ask me, "How many presents did you get this year?"  I think they think I get as many presents as I am in years.  That's only for the milestone birthdays, but, hey, maybe it's a good idea to do that every year!  I can already hear Wayne groaning....

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Freaked Out

I freaked out this morning.  I was I lying in bed trying to remember what I had been dreaming about, and I thought of a line I wanted to add to the novel I'm writing.

I started writing on November 1st.  My library is sponsoring NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month.  If you write 1667 words every day during the month of November, you will have a 50,000 word novel by the end of the month, which is the same size of The Great Gatsby - just to give you an idea of what 50,000 words look like.

Anyway, I went to my computer to add the line that I had been thinking about, and when I opened Word, I couldn't find my novel!  I didn't panic at first, because I thought, surely it's backed up somewhere on the hard drive.  I could not find it.  While I'm frantically scanning everywhere I can think to look, I'm simultaneously thinking how am I going to rewrite all those pages?  And to make it worse, the jump drive wasn't showing up on my computer's screen.  I've been leaving the jump drive plugged in.

I've used a PC for years, and this is my first Mac, so I'm not as familiar with its machinations.  I thought to touch the jump drive which is plugged into the back of the computer screen - it's different on a PC.  When I touched it, the jump drive icon lit up on the screen.  Oh, thank You, God!

I opened up the files on the jump drive, and there was my novel - all 30 pages of it.  Yay!
So I immediately printed them out in order to have a hard copy of it.  I will print out every 5 pages I write each day, so just in case, I will have a copy.

I wasn't worried about losing my novel on the computer until today.  Unlike with my dissertation, I had copies of it stashed everywhere, in case the house burned down.  I gave a copy to Wayne to keep at his office, my typist had a copy at her house, and I had two copies at home.  This was in the days of the floppy disc, and I had copies of the disc everywhere, too.  The dissertation was the culmination of 10 years of work, and if I lost it, I don't know how I would have coped.  Luckily, I did not have to find out because I didn't lose it.

When I first started out as a school social worker, I had a supervisor who lost my statistics that we had to hand in at the end of every month.  I loved Robert LeBlanc, and he was a good supervisor, but he did have a tendency to lose things.  The first time he told me he lost my statistics, which had taken a long, arduous time to compile, I started making copies of everything I handed in to him.  So that's when I started making copies of whatever I was working on and didn't want to lose.

Robert was the person responsible for me getting the job with the Orleans Parish School Board.  I had been working as a counselor/probation officer with the District Attorney's Diversionary Program, where first time felony offenders could complete a counseling program, reimburse victims for any monetary loss, and  be on probation for a set amount of time.  At the end of their probationary period, their arrest record would be expunged.  One of the clients who came through the program was deaf, and he was a student at McMain High School, where there was a program for deaf and hearing impaired students attending (deaf and hard-of-hearing).  Robert was the school social worker for the deaf and hearing impaired students, and when he came with his client, he told me about the program in Special Education.  I had no idea about school social work, but I wanted to be able to communicate with my client.  My boss at the time, Bob, agreed that I could attend sign language classes at Delgado Community College four days a week for 8 weeks.  The classes were in the morning for about three hours.

In order to become more fluent in sign language, we had to do ten hours of contact with deaf people.  One lady in the class suggested finding a deaf church, and I started attending the Canal Street Baptist Deaf Church in New Orleans.  It was a small group, but the minister, Donnie Wiltshire, was gifted, and I got so much out of attending there.  The deaf people were kind to me, and I was about the only hearing person there, so I had lots of opportunity to practice my sign language skills.  It got to the point that I used to talk to myself in sign language.  Every time I listened to the radio, I would sign the songs, even when I was stopped at a red light - that would get some looks from other drivers, and when I realized that it looked crazy, I signed below the steering wheel.

I worked at the District Attorney's office as a diversionary counselor for four years.  When Robert was going to switch from being a school social worker to working with the Pupil Appraisal Department with the school system, he called me and asked if I would like to take his job.  There were only four social workers in the city at that time that were licensed social workers who knew sign language.  Would I take the job?  He only had to say 3 months summer vacation and all school holidays off - twist my little finger.  Yes, I'll take the job.

I started working with New Orleans Public Schools in February of 1982.  I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Robert LeBlanc, who took me under his arm and mentored me.  He not only taught me the school social work duties, but he helped me to learn the streets of New Orleans.  I had 17 schools all over the city:  Uptown, Central City, Westbank, Garden District, Ninth Ward, Lower Ninth Ward.  I loved being the "deaf social worker."

It's been 40 years, but I can still remember some of the names of the schools:
McDonogh 24, McMain, Livingston, Beauregard, Schwartz, Edna Karr, Robert E. Lee, Fortier, George Washington, Danneel, Carver, Ben Franklin.  Navigating my way around the schools was another thing I had to learn.  Some of those school buildings were huge.  I remember so many of the students and can still see their faces in my mind, and all the different personalities.  Just the other day, I ran into one of the teachers from McDonogh 24.  What a full life I've had with so many people...

Some of the schools had large numbers of deaf students, and some had only one student who needed assistance.  I'd check in with each school weekly, but by the end of two weeks, I went to my supervisor's supervisor, and I said, "If you want to kill the only social worker you have that knows sign language, this is a good way to do it."  She realized that  17 schools a week was too much, and she cut the number of schools down to 11.  It was still too much, but doable.  I always did have a lot of energy.

Lots of the names of the schools have been changed because the people the schools had been named for were slave owners.  At the time they decided this, I thought to myself, "Yeah, change the names, but what about changing the environment?  The school buildings are falling apart."

The students I worked with had different levels of ability.  Some were extremely intelligent, and some were unable to communicate at all, couldn't walk, and some were blind as well as deaf, and some were autistic, blind, deaf, and developmentally delayed.  Back in the days I worked with this population, developmentally delayed was "retarded," but that term isn't used any more.  When I couldn't work directly with the students who were developmentally delayed in multiple areas, I worked with the teachers and parents of the children.

I was only one social worker with so many students, so I worked in groups with the kids.  Most of the time, I was teaching social skills.  Their parents hadn't learned sign language, so there were lots of things that were not communicated to their children.  I ended up teaching them things that parents should have been teaching.  That's where I got the idea for my dissertation topic of family communication patterns and self-esteem in relation to deafness.

The group of students at Danneel Pre-Vocational School were deaf, but didn't know much sign language, as they were developmentally delayed.  I communicated with them using art.  I would bring art books, and they'd draw what they saw.  Some of those kids were talented to the point of being savants.

I brought some figure drawing books, but that stopped when Jeffrey's mom told the teacher, "I don't want him drawing pictures of naked ladies."  So we improvised and drew other subjects.  That's when I started going to art galleries and getting ideas about things my kids could draw.  I would look at the art hung up in galleries, and some of it, I thought to myself, my kids could do better!  And the prices!  Why would someone pay $4000 for a big canvas painted red?

Well, it's almost noon, and I've only had one cup of coffee, so I'm going to eat breakfast and read the paper.  The front page of the Times-Picayune shouts "Obama Triumphs."  Gotta read all about it.

This has been a stream of consciousness entry.  I never know where this blog will take me.

While I was typing, I saw what I thought was some of Violet's black fur on the carpet, but it turned out to be a huge spider.  I screamed and stepped on it, but had to try to kill it three times.  It's hard to kill a spider on carpet.  Walter came in and would have eaten it, but I yelled, "Leave it!"

Oh, and today's my 59th birthday!  The last of my 50's...

We're going to take Walter to the dog park at Bonnabel, and then we're going to Baskin-Robbins for ice cream.  Going there is better than buying a gallon of ice cream from Winn-Dixie - we'll just have a little ice cream instead of a gallon.  I'm sure our cardiologist would approve....

After we come home from our outing, Walter is getting a bath.  And then, if there's time, I'll run to physical therapy and do my fitness routine.  At 6:30 tonight, the novel writing group is meeting, and I'm bringing my 30 pages.

I told Wayne I want a telescope for my birthday, so we'll have to go looking.  I'm not a stickler for having my present exactly on my birthday.  In fact, I still haven't gotten the microscope I wanted for last year's birthday.  I guess it's more the idea than actually having it.  I'll get it eventually.  And eventually we'll go out to eat at the Pelican Club to celebrate my birthday.

I can't remember where I got the idea, but I think around my 30th birthday, I decided I'd celebrate for 30 days, so ever since then, the days I celebrate my birthday have been increasing.

Then for Wayne's 50th birthday, I gave him 50 presents.  I remember I got this idea from my friend, Gayle.  Maybe she was the one who first gave me 30 presents on my 30th birthday, or was it 40 presents on my 40th?

OK - must end stream of consciousness.

Happy 59th Birthday to me!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Crazy Socks


These are the socks I wore today with my brown suede clogs.  I just like the way they look.
New Toy

We were at Home Depot today after we'd gone to vote, and we were buying daffodil bulbs.  I walked down the Christmas decoration aisle, and I spotted the most unusual lighting display.  It was a peacock, and it was gorgeous.

I found Wayne, and I told him, "I'm buying this peacock!"  He said, "Good, that can be your birthday present."  I said, "One of them!"




Friday, November 2, 2012

Matching Halloween Costumes

I love costuming at Mardi Gras and Halloween.  I confess I have costumes for my animals, but they do not appreciate being dressed in the outfits.

This Halloween, as I have done for many past Halloweens, I put on my angel wings, and I coaxed Walter into His own angel wings and halo.  Then we went to the chiropractor's office.  Derek and Angelle Stratton are a husband and wife team of chiropractors.  They let me bring Walter inside the office.





 I had to take off my wings to get my adjustment, but Walter sat patiently while this happened.  He didn't even try to bite his halo.

From there, we went to physical therapy.  I brought Walter in, and he got lots of love from people there.  We were having so much fun, that I decided to pop into the post office next door.  It's so funny when people see you dressed up.  I think they're not sure how they're supposed to react.  Any way, I went inside the post office and asked for the lady who knows me and knows that I wear angel wings on occasion.  She wasn't in, but I asked the post office employees behind the counter to tell her that the lady with wings came by to see her, and to let her know that I brought my dog with wings and a halo to see her, too.  Can you just picture that?

Walter and I went home, where I praised him for being such a good sport.  I drove back to physical therapy, but this time, without wings...
Violet

Cats hide everywhere, and I read somewhere that if a cat wants to stay hidden, you'll never find the hiding place.

I was startled when I looked down and saw bright yellow eyes staring at me.

Violet found her way into the basket in the storage shelf of the headboard.
Egret

Every once in a while, you'll see an egret or a heron walking in the neighborhood.  A few days ago, I was taking Walter out for a walk, but when I saw this egret standing in the street, I rushed inside to get my camera.

The egret didn't stay long, but he just walked across the yard of my neighbors.  It was a nice little visit....
Roy

Wayne's brother came to visit from Hawaii.  They hadn't seen each other since Gramps' funeral in 1995.  He flew in on October 22, which is their sister's birthday.  This was JoAnn's birthday surprise - pretty extravagant, right?

Roy has been working in a lab in Hawaii for the past fourteen years, and he's been incommunicado until JoAnn tracked him down.  He started e-mailing and calling, and eventually, he said he would come and visit. I told him, "If you're going to come visit, do it soon.  You know your brother had stents in 2007, and his heart stopped on the table.  Don't wait too long."

Roy had already bought his airline ticket, and then Wayne had a heart attack on October 11.  I didn't tell either Roy or JoAnn until after Wayne was home and the crisis had passed.

Wayne got out of the hospital on Thursday, October 18, and Roy arrived the following Monday.  Wayne met him at the airport, and when I woke up, there was a message on the answer machine, "Roy was hungry, so we went to get a roast beef po-boy."  My heart fell, and I sighed, thinking of the amount of sodium in a roast beef po-boy.

Well, the rest of the week was a culinary tour of New Orleans for Roy as he indulged in all the things he hadn't had in Hawaii.  Wayne cooked a chicken, andouille, shrimp, and okra gumbo, and we ate that Monday night for the birthday party.  Of course, there was cake and ice cream (German Chocolate with Tin Roof Sundae).


The next day, we went to some of their old stomping grounds. We saw Gramps and Granny's house and visited another friend, Trapper, who kept us enthralled with stories of some of his adventures.  Wayne showed Roy some of Hurricane Katrina's handiwork.  That night, more gumbo.

Wednesday, we ate lunch at Drago's and had raw oysters, char grilled oysters, and fried seafood.  We drove to the French Quarter and walked through the all the booths in the French Market.  We got coffee and beignets at Morning Call in Fat City.  That afternoon, Roy helped me give Walter a bath.  Walter absolutely loved Roy.  I told my niece that she'd be jealous if she saw how Walter had taken to Roy.


Walter did something he's never done before.    He took a running leap and jumped on to Roy's lap while he was seated on the sofa.  Roy said it was like having a linebacker come at him.

The next day, Wayne and Roy went fishing with one of Wayne's buddies, Jeff, who is a fishing guide.  They caught masses of white trout, and they filleted all of them.  Can't remember - did we eat boiled crabs that night?

Saturday, we invited family and friends to come eat fried fish, boiled shrimp, corn, new potatoes, corn, and sausage.  Walter had lots of people to play with, but the cats pretty much stayed hidden under the bed until everyone went home.

Sunday, we met up with some more friends, Bob and Dianne, and we ate at another seafood restaurant, so Roy could eat boiled crabs and raw oysters.  Afterwards, we went to a grocery store so he could get some file, beignet mix, and Community coffee, to bring back as souvenirs for all the guys he works with.

Monday, we got up early so Roy could be at the airport for 6 a.m.  When we left the airport, Wayne and I ate at IHOP.  He was good - he had a heart healthy omelet.

Now we're trying to get back to eating according to his cardio diet:  low sodium and low fat.

It was nice having Roy visit, and I'm glad he got to be with his brother and sister.

I'm really glad JoAnn did the legwork of finding Roy and initiating communication again.  He already said he's planning to return in the spring.  Walter will be waiting....


Heart Attack!

October 11, 2012

We took Walter for a walk around 10 p.m.  We just walked around the block because Wayne said he wasn't feeling well.  He didn't even want to talk.  He said all he wanted to do was go home and go to bed.  About an hour later, he said he just couldn't get comfortable and he was hurting.  I asked him where his pain was, and he said in his jaw and in his biceps.  My internal alarm went off, and I said, "Time to call 911?"  He said, "Call an ambulance."  I sprang into action, and told the 911 operator that I thought my husband was having a heart attack because of the location of his pain.  She said an ambulance was on its way.  I told Wayne to take some aspirin and to sit up.  I grabbed a bag and stuffed it with our cell phones, wallets, a sweatshirt, something to read, and my interferential current therapy unit.  I got a thermos of ice water and my keys, and then I put Walter in the kennel.  I turned on the front porch light, unlocked the door, and I kept checking on Wayne to make sure he was still breathing (!).

It took the ambulance about 15 minutes to get to our house.  They emergency medical techs loaded Wayne into a stretcher and into the ambulance.  I watched from the back window of the ambulance as they put electrodes on his chest and did an EKG.  Then they said they were taking him to the emergency room at Ochsner.  I got in my car and followed right behind the ambulance, thinking all the while that Wayne was going to die, and I was going to be planning his funeral.  The hospital was only about 12 minutes away.  I parked the car and went into the hospital with the EMT's and Wayne on a stretcher.  It was about midnight by this time.

The EMT named Scott gave all the information about Wayne to the admitting nurse.  I was directed to someone else who asked for Wayne's insurance card.  Then I was back waiting in the ER hall with Wayne.  The ER doctor asked Wayne what his symptoms were.  The doctor seemed so calm, and so did all the nurses.  Pretty soon, a room in the ER was available, and Wayne was wheeled into the room.

We waited and had convinced ourselves that it was just Wayne's hiatal hernia acting up and nothing serious having to do with his heart.  Then all of a sudden, people rushed into the  room saying, "Cold stemi, code stemi!"  I couldn't figure out what they were saying, but I was rushed out of the room, into another waiting area.  Someone came back a few moments later, and he explained that a cardiologist was being called, and I was allowed to go back into the room with Wayne.  I asked the nurse what happened.  She said Wayne's traponin levels were elevated, and that was one of the heart enzymes that indicated he had a heart attack or was having a heart attack.  They had been saying: "Code STEMI."  It stands for S Traponin elevated, myocardial infarction, or in layman's terms, heart attack.  I asked who the cardiologist was, and the nurse said it was Dr. Subramaniam.  Small world.  Wayne and I had both gone to school with her, and Dr. Subramaniam had diagnosed me with Mitral Valve Prolapse about forty years ago.

Wayne was wheeled into the elevator, and I followed - we were going to the cardiac unit.  He was going to have an angiogram to see if anything was blocked.

He'd already been prepped and put into a hospital gown.  I kissed him as he was wheeled into the cardiac unit, and I waited in a tiny room right outside the unit.

I texted our minister, Wayne's boss, his sister, my brother and cousin, and several of Wayne's friends.  I didn't expect anyone to answer because it was so late.  Wayne had been worried about who was going to take his place at a meeting he was supposed to be going to at 9 in the morning.

Any time you have to go to the emergency room, you know it's going to be a long wait.  I was thankful I'd packed a protein bar, gum, and a sweatshirt, and that I'd brought water, a book on tape, and my interferential current therapy unit.  I sat and listened to my book and waited.  After about 40 minutes, Dr. Subramaniam came out of the unit and talked to me.  She recognized me from all that long time ago.  She said that he had one artery that was completely blocked and she'd put a stent in it.  He would have a follow-up visit with her in two weeks.  I was relieved.  I'd been through this before with stents and knew this procedure.  But Wayne had never had a heart attack before.

It must have been about four in the morning by this time.  Wayne was wheeled out of the cardiac unit, and he was a little drowsy from the fentanyl and versed he'd been given.  I kissed him, and the nurse said to give her about 20 minutes and then I could come to his room in the ICU.

I found his room and sat in the chair next to his bed and held his hand and rested my head on the bed.  I was so grateful that he was OK.

The nurse gave me a brochure and a small card that explained about the stent implant location.  His stent was in the OM - Obtuse Marginal.  Wayne is supposed to carry the card with him - the card has a sticker with the stent's size, lot number, and reference number.  Who knew?

Messages started coming in on the cell phone.  Our minister said he would come by about 8 a.m.  Wayne's boss texted me, "Which Wayne?  Who is this?"  I think it was hard to believe that this had happened, and when it happens to someone around your age, you think it could happen to you, too.  Everyone was shocked when they heard what had happened.  Our minister had e-mailed the prayer request in to Al, who leads the prayer meeting, so everyone in church was praying for Wayne.

Wayne's niece had phoned Geri, her stepmother, who works at the hospital in the transplant division, and she came by to see us.  It was so comforting to see someone we knew.

About 6:30 or 7, breakfast was brought in for Wayne.  The doctor had said that from now on, it was low sodium for him.  Our minister and his wife came to visit and pray with us about 8:30.  Another comfort.  You have no idea how much it means until you're in the hospital yourself.  I remember waiting to have surgery, and Earline, our assistant pastor, came in to pray with me.  When I saw her, I announced to all of my fellow patients in the holding room awaiting their surgeries, "There's my minister!"  All of us were happy she came to see me!

I was worried about Walter needing to go outside to pee, and I called our pet sitter.  Thank God, she had a key to our house even though we haven't gone on vacation in two years.

After Wayne talked with his boss, who reassured Wayne that he didn't need to worry - he would make sure that someone from the office would be at the 9 o'clock meeting, I decided it was OK for me to go home and sleep.  I kissed Wayne and let him rest.

I drove home in a daze, but so grateful.  I took a shower, fell into bed, and slept about four hours.

There were lots of phone calls and texts to return.  My brother and cousin and stepmom offered to come.  I told them if I needed them, I would definitely ask, but it was OK right now.

I returned to the hospital and stayed with Wayne until the ICU visiting hours were over.  He'd told me the doctor said there wasn't much damage to his heart.  I hadn't even known to ask that question when Wayne's sister and stepmom had asked me.  Dr. Subramaniam said it was OK for Wayne to go home the next day.

I slept Thursday night, and then, Friday morning, I was awakened by the phone.  It was Wayne saying, "Come get me!"  I got dressed quickly and got to the hospital.

The only restriction Dr. Subramaniam gave him was that he couldn't lift anything more than five pounds.  She had given Wayne three new prescriptions, so we stopped at CVS on the way home.

Wayne took a shower, and I know he was glad to be home.  He didn't have any pain at all.  Our minister came by with a salad and some fruit that his wife had put together for us.  We were trying to institute compliance with the doctor's orders.

Wayne slept well that night, and the next afternoon, our friends, Bob and Dianne came over to visit and brought three (!) low sodium cookbooks and three bottles of Frere Jean low sodium Cajun seasoning.  It was four o'clock, and both of us were still in our PJ's.  Dianne had said that she didn't call before they came over because she thought surely we would be dressed.  I told her, "What for?  We were resting all day!"  Wayne and I quickly threw on some clothes. That night we had the rest of the salad our minister's wife had made for us.

We were both in church on Sunday, and everyone came up to Wayne to hug him and tell him how glad they were to see him.  They'd all been surprised to hear that he'd had a heart attack.  Many of the women asked me how I was.  I told them I was OK, but that it was going to be hard to keep Wayne on a low sodium diet.  I was trying not to be hyper vigilant about salt in his diet. They sympathized with me and hugged me. They told me they would be praying for Wayne and for me, too.

Wayne and I took it easy that afternoon.  We watched a movie, and we took a short walk with Walter.  Both of us were recovering from the whole hospital ordeal.

We thought everything would be fine.

I woke up at 6:30 Monday morning to Wayne shouting, "Debra, wake up!  Call 911!"  I'd been sleeping hard, and it took Wayne several times of shouting, "Debra, wake up," before I clambered up from the depths of sleep.  I asked, "What's wrong?"  He said he was having chest pains.  As soon as I realized what he was saying, I popped up out of bed and ran to the phone to call 911.  I told Wayne to take aspirin.  The ambulance got there in about 10 minutes, and then another ambulance came.  The first EMT's were going off duty, but they were closer, so they came to the house until the the second ambulance and EMT's got there.  I was rushing around grabbing things - insurance cards, cell phones, water, book on tape, protein bar, etc.  All of a sudden, I realized my neighbor, Amy, was in the house.  She asked, "What can I do?  Do you want me to come to the hospital with you?"  I asked her to please walk Walter and gave her a key to the house.  Outside some more neighbors were gathered by the ambulance, and I told them what had happened.  The EMT's gave Wayne an EKG in the ambulance and also gave him nitroglycerin.  They told me they were bringing him to Ochsner's ER.  I followed in my car, praying that I wouldn't be stopped by the police because I was speeding.

When we got to the ER, the nurses said, "I remember you.  Weren't you just in here?"  Wayne joked that he missed them and wanted to come back.  Dr. Subramaniam was on her way - the EMT's had alerted the ER, so the cardiologist had been called already.  She said they were going to go back into his heart with the angiogram, and she would do the procedure the next day.

Wayne was going to be admitted from the ER to the hospital, but it was full!  We had to wait until the afternoon until a bed was available.  Finally, he got a room.  This was a private room with a shower.  I joked that it was like having a hotel room except he was hooked up to all kinds of monitors.

I went back home, showered, and fell into a deep sleep.  I woke up hearing a lawn mower, but went back to sleep.  When I finally got up, I listened to the answer machine messages.  My neighbor, Amy, told me that her son, Reiss, was cutting my grass.  That was so nice.  I have wonderful neighbors.  Reiss cut the back yard, and my next door neighbor, Denise, cut the front yard.

Wayne was scheduled to have the angiogram Tuesday morning, but Dr. Subramaniam had an emergency.  She walked into Wayne's hospital room around 1 or 2 that afternoon  and explained that she wasn't going to do the procedure at 5 or 6, since she'd had the emergency, but that she'd do it Wednesday morning, first thing.  Wayne said, "Good.  I want you fresh!"

I left the hospital that afternoon, got something to eat, and then returned to sit next to Wayne.  I was texting and calling everyone to keep them up to date with what was happening.  After a while, I left and went home, fed all the animals, took my vitamins, and went to sleep.  I was going to get there early for Wayne's procedure scheduled for 7:30.

When I got to Wayne's hospital room Wednesday morning, our minister was already there.  He and I walked with Wayne as he was wheeled into the cardiac unit.  Tim waited with me through the procedure.  I told him I appreciated him waiting but that he didn't have to do that.  He said that with heart procedures, he felt better about waiting with me until we knew what was going on with Wayne.  About 40 minutes later, Dr. Subramaniam came out into the tiny waiting room and explained what had happened.  She did the angioplasty, and she couldn't get the stent in until she used the balloon to expand the artery.  She put one stent in, and then she put another further in to open the artery.  The first stent was in the proximal RCA - Right Coronary Artery, and the second was in the Ostial RCA.  Still not sure what ostial is except that it was further in.

Wayne was wheeled back to the Cardiac ICU, and I sat with him.  His food cart came at lunch, and he ate a little and went back to sleep.  I left to go get some lunch.

All through this, since last Wednesday, I had lost my appetite, but I was eating just for fuel.  I was trying to take care of myself to be in good shape to be able to take care of Wayne.

We had no groceries in the house, because Wayne had been in and out of the hospital almost a week.  I went to the grocery store to get a few things.  I got no-sodium chicken broth to make a spicy pumpkin soup I'd seen a recipe for in the Sunday paper.  If Wayne couldn't have sodium, he could have other spices at least.

Thursday morning, Wayne called.  He said Dr. Subramaniam was releasing him.  Yay!  It took a while for the paperwork to be processed, but he finally got discharged about one that afternoon.  On the way home, we dropped off some more prescriptions from Dr. Subramaniam.  Wayne was feeling good, and it was beautiful outside, so we took Walter for a short walk around the block.

I checked in with him a lot:  "How are you feeling?  Any pain?  Do you have your nitro in your pocket?  Did you take your medicine?  Did you see how much sodium that has on the label?"

I told Wayne that I was trying not to be a nag, but he should be glad that I was concerned.  It's a fine line between being concerned and being a nag, especially when one's husband can be a little (!) stubborn....

Any way, here it is November 2nd.  Wayne's doing well.  Wayne went to church that Sunday.  Everyone was shocked that he had gone back in the hospital again, and they were so happy to see him after all of that.

He's not supposed to used a razor because he's on blood thinners.  We haven't gotten an electric razor, so he's letting his beard grow in.  It's all white, so he looks a little like Santa Claus.  I want to get him a blue sea captain's hat because that's another thing he resembles, a Greek sea captain.

Every day is precious, and I'm glad he's OK.  We're both taking it easy, and he's not going to work until next year.  His boss told him, "When you come back to work, you're taking a day off every week."  I'm so happy he said that.  After the first hospital episode, Wayne was saying he'd be back at work after two weeks.  I didn't say anything.

The the next heart episode happened, and he said he'd be back at work by December 1st.  I suggested that since December had a long Christmas break, he might as well consider taking that month off, too, since he has the sick leave and vacation leave available.  So he decided not to go back to work until January.

He has his follow-up visit with his cardiologist next Monday.  I'm going with him.

I've been needing to write all this down, but this is the first time I've been able to write.  As I have been writing, I realize how much happened.  He got out of the hospital October 18th.  It'll be about 6 weeks before he starts cardio rehab.  He said the doctor wants to make sure the stents are firmly implanted before he does cardio exercise.

Wayne's brother came to visit on October 22nd, but that's a story with pictures for another time...

This is my longest post yet.  And I started it right after I wrote 1823 words for NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month - a program at my libray.  OK - enough writing for one night.  I started writing at about 9:30, and now it's 3 o'clock in the morning.  Go to sleep!


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Gaining Weight

Remember when you were younger and you saw overweight middle-aged people and you said to yourself, "That will never happen to me," - hah!

How did that happen?

It's been a year now that I've been retired.  I have had three surgeries, and my activity level has been limited.  I've taken up cooking  and haven't really worried about dieting.

So I went to my cardiologist for my annual check-up.  He was upset about my cholesterol levels.  I told him I'd tried an experiment and stopped my cholesterol medicine and started taking red yeast rice instead.  Well, my cholesterol is higher than it's ever been.  So much for that experiment. I told my doctor I'd gotten a dog, but since the surgery, I hadn't been able to walk him that much, but Wayne had been walking the dog and lost 15 lbs.  Then my doctor said, "And you found them!"  I was shocked because he's never said anything about my weight before.

When I told him I started cooking since I've been retired, he asked, "Are you watching those cooking shows?"  I said, Yes!"  He said, "Are you trying to kill yourself?"  Now my doctor is a very unassuming man, and I never expected him to be so upset about my results.

OK, so I'm back on Crestor, just 5 mg a day.  I've been able to do more minutes on the recumbent exercise bike at physical therapy, so I'm getting more activity.  I go back in a few weeks to see if my cholesterol levels have decreased.

The same week, I went back to my orthopedic surgeon to follow-up on my knee arthroscopy.  I was concerned because there's more swelling around the knee.  He comes in and looks at my knee, listens to what I have to say, and then he says, pointing to one side of my knee "This is fluid," and then pinching the other side of my knee, he says, "but this is fat!"  Oy vey! Two doctors in one week giving me grief about fat!

I tell very few people how much I weigh.  I told one friend, and she said, "you don't look like you weigh that much!"

I remember when we were going to take a helicopter to fly to Havasu Falls, in the western part of the Grand Canyon.  The helicopter people asked each of us how much we weighed.  I made Wayne go far away so he couldn't hear me tell them my weight.

I never get on the scale at the doctor's office.  The scale is right out in the open, and everyone can hear how much you weigh.  I don't know how medical personnel don't realize this is as confidential as all the other information they collect.  When they try to get me on the scale, I just tell them, "I don't weigh."  I figured out a long time ago, that if getting on the scale at the doctor's office was something I hated so much that it would prevent me from going to the doctor, then I would not get on the scale.  I'll tell them how much I weigh if I'm in the examination room, but not in front of everyone.  I've gotten better about it, especially because the nurses asking me my weight look like they weight the same as I do, if not more.

It's the same reason I don't have a problem getting in a swimsuit at the health club.  I figure there are people there who are bigger than I am, so if it's not a problem for them, it's not an issue for me.

The moral of the story:  learn to be comfortable in your own skin, no matter what your weight is.






Where Do We Sleep?

You see four cats on the bed.  This is a king size bed.  I didn't put the cats there.  They did this all on their own.  They didn't leave much room for us, but I don't really think they were that concerned about us.




Walter Got Blessed!

This afternoon, our church had the second annual blessing of the animals.  We didn't have Walter last year at this time, so this was the first occasion he got to participate.  Walter is excitable by nature.  I'm wondering how old he will have to be to become a good visiting pet therapy dog.  I got him to sit down in front of me, and I stroked his ears over and over.  It seems to work in calming him.  The whole experience only lasted half an hour.  I told Walter that now he had to be good because he was blessed and didn't have any choice in the matter.  We'll see...
Walter's First Boat Ride

For years now, we try to do at least one fun thing every week.  I told my students to do one fun thing every week so often, that the first thing they'd ask me on Monday morning was "What fun thing did you do this weekend?"  It's a good plan, right?

So yesterday, Wayne suggested taking a boat ride at the Bonnet Carre Spillway.  I said, "Let's bring Walter!"  I wish I'd brought my camera and taken a picture of Walter on the boat.  It was unlike anything he's experienced before - I'm guessing, since we didn't have him the first six months of his life.

It took a bit of coaxing to get Walter to jump from the pier to the boat.  He sat in front of me while Wayne was behind us at the steering wheel of the boat.  Walter was taking everything in as we motored slowly away from the dock.  Then Wayne gave the boat gas, and away we flew!  Walter didn't know which way to look.  He finally settled on looking toward the back of the boat, letting the wind part his fur.

Wayne cut the motor so we could drift and get close enough to see an alligator.  All we could see of him was his snout and his eyes. Just from that, Wayne could tell that the alligator was probably about four feet.  We saw three kinds of birds: egrets, anhingas,  and great blue herons.

At the end of the boat ride, Walter was ready to get all four paws on steady ground.  It took more coaxing to get him to jump from the bow of the boat onto the pier.  This may be the start of Walter's going out fishing with Wayne.  I guess that now we need a life jacket for Walter...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pupils

I went to the eye doctor today and got my eyes dilated.  Can you tell?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cat in the Fireplace

Every once in a while, the cats will get themselves in unexpected places.  I was doing exercises on the floor, and I just happened to look up when I saw my gray cat in the fireplace.  Don't know why he likes it there, but it's not the first time he's done this.
Babies on the Doorstep

My friend, Patty, said that one of her all-time bucket list items was to find a baby on her doorstep.  Easy enough to help, right?  I went to the Dollar Store and found a baby doll, got a basket from the attic, and put the baby doll in the basket, left it on her doorstep, and then rang her bell.  She was amazed and laughed so much.  You should have seen the delight on her face.  Who wouldn't want to make someone that happy?  I'm always looking for new baby dolls whenever I go to the toy departments of stores.  Lo and behold, the other day, I saw twin baby dolls!!!!  Of course, I had to buy them, because what's better than one baby in a basket on your doorstep?  Twins on your doorstep!

I went back into the attic to find another basket (I have a lot of baskets - not sure why), and I arranged the twin baby dolls in the basket.  I put the basket on her doorstep and left.  Later that day, I got a call.

"You made my day!"  Funnest thing ever, right!  Find out what's on your friends' bucket list, and if there's any way you can be instrumental in helping them complete their lists, do it.

Hint, hint, I would like to taste Cristalle champagne.  Recently got to taste Dom Perignon champagne, so I have that completed.  Oh, and I would love to see the Northern Lights....

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Newspaper

I caught up with reading the newspaper today.  I read Friday's, Saturday's, Sunday's,  and Monday's paper.  I read accounts of people who had to be rescued from the flood of Hurricane Isaac.  It never fails to make me weep.  Part of me wants to turn away because I can hardly bear to read it, but part of me has to read it to bear witness.
Hurricane Isaac

We lost power sometime in the middle of Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.  We'd put the thermostat on 66 degrees to make the house as cold as we could because we knew we'd lose power and that meant no air conditioning.  We'd spent Tuesday battening down the hatches, in preparation for high winds.  Wednesday, Hurricane Isaac made landfall.  Wind and rain all day long.
Wayne and I played cards and talked and napped.  We had power bars for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch and dinner. Every hurricane season, you know the drill:  buy bread, peanut butter and jelly, tuna fish, Vienna sausage, crackers, chips.  It's either that or wait in line to get MRE's (Meals Ready to Eat).

MRE's are a whole topic in themselves.  I don't think any of us not in the military had ever tasted one before Hurricane Katrina.  They're about 3000 calories each!  During recovery from Katrina, I ate everything in one before I knew that.  When I told Wayne that I was so full, he said, "I guess so - they have 3000 calories.  Those are for soldiers!"  The funny thing about MRE's is that all the entrees taste the same.  My favorite part was the dessert.

 It wasn't too hot in the house yet, so we could sleep all right that night.

When we awoke Thursday, we surveyed the damage.  Not too bad.  Just a lot of tree limbs down.  The fence was leaning more than it had before the storm, but it was still standing.  The backyard was a swimming pool because of all the rain.  We had trouble using cell phones - even texting wasn't working.

Wayne had trouble getting the generator to work.  We'd bought it in 1996 in North Carolina because we'd been through Hurricanes Bertha and Fran.  Our neighbor across the street offered us coffee because he'd gotten his generator working.  Thank God for coffee!   He was so sweet, he even offered to cook us eggs and bacon for breakfast.  He had a gas stove.

We started picking trees limbs up and raking all the leaves and moss from the lawn.  Everyone was out in our neighborhood and checking in with each other to see how they'd done during the storm.  Some people had lost shingles and had major roof damage with leaking.

Wayne was finally able to get through on his cell phone to one of his friends who gave him some ideas about getting the generator started.  Generators are LOUD, but they are necessary if you want any kind of electricity after the storm.  He was able to get it to work, and we gave our next door neighbors an extension cord so they could run their refrigerator and fan.  Usually when there's a hurricane, everyone loses all the food in the refrigerator, and it's a big, stinky mess.  Luckily, that didn't happen this time, mainly because we didn't evacuate.  We had thought we would, but according to the weather reports, Isaac would only be a Category 1 or 2, so we stayed.  The newscasters did say it was slow-moving and there would be a lot of rain.  Isaac was 4/5 the size of Katrina, so it was a big storm.  There was storm surge, too, so lots of homes were flooded in St. John Parish and across the lake.  A levee down in Plaquemines Parish broke, and there was widespread flooding.  Shades of Katrina.

We got all our information from a battery-operated radio that Wayne has had forever.

Mother Nature presented us with a 7th anniversary Katrina present:  Hurricane Isaac.  How ironic is it that Isaac made landfall the same day as Katrina?  I think we will all know the date of August 29th.

I worked in the yard until my legs swelled - knee surgery 6 weeks ago - not exactly the physical therapy I should have been doing.  But I'm glad we worked as hard as we did just to get it done.  I showered and rested the rest of the day.

I had plenty of batteries so I could listen to my book on tape:  The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane.  I also used my flashlight to read another book, The Summer Guest.  I felt like a little kid reading by flashlight.

Friday,  we were able to make coffee by unplugging the refrigerator from the generator, just long enough to get the coffee brewing.  Wayne had to service the generator every morning and evening, making sure it had enough oil and gas.  I'm so glad he knows how to do that.  I guess I should learn, too.

Wayne reported for work Friday even though, officially, the state government offices were closed.  That's how it goes.  I decided to start cleaning inside.  I went through different parts of the house and cleaned the kitchen pantries, the utility room counter and drawers, the bathroom closets and drawers.  I had to do something so I wouldn't go crazy.  My cell phone died, so I couldn't reach anyone.  No TV or computer.  I listened to the radio while I cleaned.

Wayne came home that night with Popeye's fried chicken.  Best fried chicken ever!  Not technically, but just a nice change from what we'd been eating.

Saturday, he went back to work, and I tackled the garage.  Wayne's very picky about me cleaning the garage, because he says that's his territory.  I'd told him I would just do the corner by the door in the garage.  I started early in the morning, which for anyone who knows me is unusual because since I've retired, I keep vampire hours.  But without electricity, I was up with the chickens.  And earlier was better because the heat became worse as the day progressed.

After a few hours, I was dripping with sweat.    I was satisfied with what I'd accomplished in the corner of the garage.  I went to take a shower.  The water was cold enough to stop your heart.  I told myself it was like jumping into a pool.  Aghhhhhh!

I figured out how to charge my cell phone by taking out the lamp plug from the power strip attached to the generator.  I don't know why I hadn't thought of that before.  Simple things become complicated during storms.

Back to reading the rest of the day.  The heat just seemed to get worse, even with the fan blowing on me.  I'd been OK with the heat the previous days because it rained off and on every day, and it was cloudy.  Saturday, no rain and very sunny.  The cats just laid around, hardly moving.  Walter was having anxiety.  I could tell because he was chewing everything.

Even standing directly in front of the fan, I could not cool off.  My head started throbbing, and I felt like it would explode.  Wayne called me to tell me that some friends of ours had gotten electricity the day before and had invited us for dinner.  Oh, yes!

I left about 7:30 to drive to their house.  It was a little scary because the lights were out and lots of businesses hadn't gotten electricity back.  That meant no stop lights.  I'd already gotten rear-ended Monday during the evacuation traffic, so I was a bit skittish about driving, although it was nice having the car air conditioner blowing on me.  People actually seemed to be pretty orderly when stopping at the "unlit" stop light and taking their turn to go.  At first, I couldn't understand why the street was so full of traffic, but then I realized it was because the stop lights weren't working.

I got to our friends' house and was so happy.  Wayne arrived a short while later, and we ate dinner.  Dianne had lots of vegetables with the chicken, which was wonderful.  During hurricanes, you don't exactly eat vegetables.  You're eating tons of carbs.  Not the best time to be on diet.  So I was thankful to be eating vegetables.

While we were with our friends, Wayne got a call on his cell phone.  It was our neighbor telling us we had electricity!  She didn't say that actually:  she said we had air conditioning.  When you live in the humid, muggy, hot south, you come to appreciate air conditioning.  I did a happy dance, and after thanking our gracious friends, we left and drove home.

Thank God for air conditioning!  It had been 86 degrees in the house that day.  As soon as we turned on the thermostat, we started to feel the house cooling down.  How wonderful to be in a cool house.  We both slept well that night.

Sunday, Wayne had to report for work again.  this is exactly what he had to do during Katrina.  I went to church - they hadn't gotten power back yet, but they had a generator and ran a fan.  Everyone asked the same question: "Do you have power yet?"  Some people never lost power!  Don't know how the power grid works.

After church, I started doing laundry.  Lots of it.  The week of no air conditioning had made everything in the house damp - even the tile floor was wet from condensation.  It was like living at the beach without the waves.  And I made lots of phone calls  - checking in with friends and relatives to let them know we were OK.  I was able to get on the computer and connect with people and find out what they'd experienced.

It's Labor Day - September 3rd.  This is the one year anniversary of the day I retired.  Life is good.  Even with three surgeries this past year and Hurricane Isaac.

Wayne had to work today, too.  I gave Walter a bath.  And I did more laundry.  The washing machine and dryer have been going almost the whole day.  The house is starting to feel better.

Wayne came home with ground meat.  After a storm, you never know what you'll be able to get at the store.  It was wonderful to eat spaghetti with meat sauce tonight.

I put in the last batch of laundry and am getting ready to take my shower - in hot water, not bracingly cold!

I think all of us who've experienced hurricanes are so grateful for things that we so often take for granted:  food, air conditioning, telephones, gasoline, dry homes, safety.

Jesus said for us not to worry about tomorrow because you just don't know what the day will bring but He'll provide.  I have to remember that.