Friday, January 30, 2009

Well, lookey here! Will wonders never cease! This has got to be some kind of cosmic joke on the racist good ole boys who have grumbled ever since Obama won the election. The RNC has elected Michael Steele as the president of the GOP. What are these GOBs of the GOP gonna do with all their epithets? I mean, who are they going to use them on now? They have a black man as the head of their party!

I had another of those GOBs as a visitor in my home today and had to just about bite my tongue into to keep from inviting him to leave. He was so upset about the election that he said he's considering moving to Costa Rica. I almost offered to help him pack, but didn't. So this unexpected news from the RNC just made my day. I had to laugh out loud when I heard it. More than once. I'm still laughing.

I know most Republicans are not racists, but the only ones I've encountered (up close and personal) lately are as bigoted as any I've ever known. They are stuck in the 50's and 60's with their John Birch daddies and haven't adjusted to the idea that white guys don't control everything anymore. They resent civil rights and women's rights, and try to dress it up in Christian piety, which makes me gag. Is there any hope that they will ever learn tolerance and respect and the benefits of diversity?

I just think the whole thing looks like another case of "me-tooism." The Democrats had a strong candidate and campaigner in Hillary Clinton, so what did they do? Go to Alaska and get Sarah Palin. Hey, she wears a skirt! What's the difference?

The Democrats run a strong African-American candidate who actually wins with a healthy majority, so they pick the only Republican African-American to have held elected office to run their party. Looks like desperate tokenism to me.

I'm sorry, but this tickled my funny bone.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

In an article I read today, Writers on Writing: John Updike by Richard Nordquist, I gleaned a couple of paragraphs that reinforce some thoughts I've had about blogging. Comparing Updike's writing to something as amateurish as blogging will seem irreverent to some, but these general principles can apply, nonetheless.

Setting Quotas
It's good to have a certain doggedness to your technique. In college I was struck by the fact that Bernard Shaw, who became a playwright only after writing five novels, would sit in the British Museum, the reading room, and his quota was something like maybe five pages a day, but when he got to the last word on the last page--whether it was the middle of a sentence--he would stop. So this notion that when you have a quota, whether it's two pages or--three is how I think of it, three pages--that it's a fairly modest quota, but nevertheless if you do it, really do it, the stuff will accumulate.(Academy of Achievement, June 12, 2004)

The Writer's News About Being Alive
There's a kind of confessional impulse that not every literate, intelligent person has. A crazy belief that you have some exciting news about being alive, and I guess that more than talent is what separates those who do it from those who think they'd like to do it. That your witness to the universe can't be duplicated, that only you can provide it, and that it's worth providing.(quoted by Mark Feeny in "John Updike, Literature's Wide-Ranging Master, Is Dead at 76," The Boston Globe, January 28, 2009)

My goal when I started this blog was to chronicle, from my own perspective, my observations of the world around me, current events and the not-so-current, whether my world is confined to the walls within my own house, the neighborhood in which I live, or the larger world that comes to me through newspapers, online stories, or the idiot box. And my daily quota is a mere three paragraphs, a held over rule from a business letter writing course I took in junior college, that a business letter more than three paragraphs long will not be read or appreciated. (Did anybody else ever hear that rule? Our attention spans were already getting shorter 40+ years ago, I guess.)

Well, as Updike said, "the stuff will accumulate," and I can attest to that. This is Post #974 since I started Ms. Sippi. That I have been as consistent with it as I have has astounded even me. And that I might have the nerve to publish some of the things I publish has astounded others. But who else sees what I see and sees it like I see it and tells it like I tell it. Not one other person in the whole universe! And that one or two other people find what I tell worth reading astounds me, too.

My daily quota has been met.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

If I have nothing beautiful all week, I can count on going to choir, either on Wednesday nights or Sunday mornings and finding beauty. My whole week may be full of mediocrity, but on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings, I will find excellence, and I am a part of it. It's my oasis in the desert.

Mike actually let me give him a bath this morning before the home health nurse came. The nursing assistant came at the same time as the nurse to bathe him and change the sheets on the bed, so we're going to have to work out a better schedule. His blood pressure was low, both his feet and ankles are swollen. I told her about his poor appetite, his weakness, his shortness of breath, and she's reporting it all to the doctor, still don't know if he will prescribe oxygen.

I've had a busy day. The Water Lilies ate at the Hilton for lunch. I love those ladies, and with them, I don't even feel guilty that I'm not doing water aerobics right now. They still inspire me. This afternoon my water aerobics partner and friend came in from her 6 week sabbatical on the coast unexpectedly, so we had a nice visit. My handyman was here to do a couple of odd jobs, then tonight I went to choir. Had it not been Wednesday, I would have spent the day inside by the fire with a good book, it was one of those cold, wet wintry days, but Wednesdays are much too busy. Yesterday we were in shorts and flip-flops; today we're all layers and sweats.

Gotta love Mississippi!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mike's condition continues to deteriorate. He's not able to do much but sleep and watch TV. His appetite is poor, his disposition is surly, his personal hygiene is non-existent, and he won't let me bathe him. I did manage to get him out of the bed long enough to change the sheets after he spilled his drink today. He sat on the cedar chest at the end of the bed and was so weak he was trembling the whole time and threatening to fall in the floor.

I plan to ask the nurse tomorrow if we need to consider hospice. She's got direct access to the doctor, and can give him medical facts to make the case for it. They started him on an antibiotic Monday. Tests on blood drawn on Saturday indicated a low-grade infection of some sort.

This experience has required me to stretch quite a bit. I'm finally over most of the anger I was feeling about Mike's self-inflicted injuries, and actually feel some compassion for him. His irritability is not annoying me like it used to, in fact, I hardly recognize the sweet, cheerful nurse who is attending this cantankerous old man. I think her name may be Grace. And she came as an answer to YOUR PRAYERS.

Thank you.

Monday, January 26, 2009

While I appreciate people praying about my Pro-Choice position, I resent the assumption that I haven't prayed about it. The bottom line is: I'm Pro-Life, too, but my concern is for more than the 9 month gestation period. It's Pre-Natal through Medicare; not just the 9 month pregnancy, but through age 99, if life lasts that long.

I care about women's health, their access to health services and family planning services. I care about women's protection from any political system that oppresses them and denies them the right to determine for themselves if and when they are ready to become mothers. I pray for people who are still blinded by the old patriarchal beliefs that men can rape and abuse and subject women to their rule.

So please don't assume that because I am Pro-Choice that I am not also Pro-Life. And please consider the possibility that working together we can cut down on the number of and the necessity for abortions. It's women in poverty who suffer the most from unplanned pregnancies and limited or no access to reproductive health services. Women of means will always have access to information on reproduction, contraceptives, and abortions with the simple purchase of an airline ticket. Poor women, more often than not, do not have those options.

Just as I would never ask you, "Why do you hate poor people?" please don't send me anymore questions like, "Why do you hate babies?" Nobody loves babies more than me. It's time we drop the hateful rhetoric and work together to improve the lives of all babies and their parents, the rich and the poor, the ignorant and the educated, the Christians and the non-Christians, the worthy and the unworthy. Let's focus our energies and efforts on those things that are Pro-Life for all.

Mississippians can take a step in the direction of authentic PRO-LIFE by calling Senator Thad Cochran at 202-224-5054 and telling him to support the SCHIP Reauthorization with the ICHIA Provision. Millions of children without insurance need this program which provides access to the health care they need to learn and grow.

To quote Bishop Duncan Gray: How much better would our common life be if we sought less to find the soil on the soul of the other and worked harder to discover the image of God in the one with whom we most passionately disagree.

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

This morning's Eucharist was especially enjoyable to me. The music seemed more meaningful, the sermon was good, the people all seemed warmer and friendlier than usual. I left with that happy, peaceful feeling that I'd been deeply blessed and that all would be well. Church usually makes me happy, but today was unusually good. One of the anthems we did a cappello has been singing itself in my head all afternoon. There is a video on YouTube of the same arrangement and the words are:

Lord, for thy tender mercy's sake,
lay not our sins to our charge,
but forgive that is past,
and give us grace to amend our sinful lives.
To decline from sin and incline to virtue,
that we may walk in a perfect heart before thee,
now and evermore. Amen

(from Lidley's Prayers, 1566)

Ron stayed with Mike while I was gone. He had not seen him in about two weeks and was distressed by how much worse his condition appears to be. Maybe I should have prepared him better. The last time he saw him was in the nursing home a couple of weeks ago. He had taken Mike out for a couple of hours to ride around, get some fresh air and change of scenery. Today he saw someone who can't get out of the bed and has trouble carrying on a conversation. I guess it was quite a shock. I'm glad they had a good visit before this one.

From everything I've heard and read about pulmonary emboli, it's usually fatal, especially when the patient isn't getting any kind of anticoagulant therapy or is unable to move around. The nurse and I both noticed yesterday that his left leg is larger than his right leg, like it's swollen. Is there a new clot in his leg? Possibly, but without another ultrasound, I'm not sure how to know.

We still need your prayers.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The home health nurse came today, much to my surprise. She said Mike is qualified for several services, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and assistance for baths, grooming, etc, plus the RN coming once a week to check on him. I should have asked about this sooner.

Our neighbor Art agreed to be "on call" while I left and went to a wedding this afternoon and the grocery store. I wish he would get over Obama winning the election and women having the right to determine what happens with their own bodies. How long has it been since white guys were in control of everything? Several decades? Sheesh! But he's got a lot of good traits and he has been very helpful to me, especially with Mike. We both claim to be Christians, so I'll pray for him and the rest of my Christian brothers and sisters, and depend on someone more powerful than myself to drag him into the 21st century.

The wedding was simple, but beautiful. The choir's music got several compliments, and it was lovely. I always enjoy the reactions of people who are surprised by the way we do weddings in the Episcopal church. It's a worship service, complete with communion, hymns, anthems, scriptures and prayers, not nearly as frivolous and secular as some.

Tomorrow Mike's friend Ron is coming out to stay with him while I go to church in the morning. I'll probably stop and pick up lunch for all of us before I come home.

As the Beatles said, I get by with a little help from my friends.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I wish I could wake up in the morning with a burning desire to do nothing but clean house, and enough focused energy to stick with it until it's done. Today I got as far as getting dishes loaded into the dishwasher before I was distracted and off in a different direction. That's the way it usually is with me. So today I hired a housecleaning service. Knowing they will be here Tuesday morning will make me do something with the clutter between now and then.

Mike is still in the bed, listless, debilitated, weak. I talked with the nurse at our doctor's office today, and she said he wasn't supposed to be trying to climb stairs at all. I was trying to get them to authorize nursing assistance from a home health agency, and she did say he would send someone to do a medical evaluation, but I didn't understand who or when. With it being Friday, it probably won't happen until next week.

He only climbed the stairs on Saturday and Sunday, and he's been in his bed ever since. If the doctor told me to keep him downstairs, I missed it. What I remember is his saying he should be able to do it, if he were able to do it before his fall. I don't think I imagined that. I remember mentioning that the hospital bed is still here, but what I didn't say is that it's in about 20 pieces and I wouldn't have any idea how to put it together. I also remember telling him that all the bedrooms and full baths are upstairs.

Things like this make me feel totally incompetent and crazy. I was trying so hard to pay attention to everything the doctor said. Did I get his instructions confused? Maybe I should have insisted on written instructions. Well, it's too late now.

I did get renters for the townhouse today, a couple from Pensacola. They went so far as to pay a deposit, so it looks like they were serious. That would be a huge load off my mind. Staying solvent ain't easy with a 3 month vacancy. The man was sold on the location when he crossed the spillway and saw all the fishermen below the dam. Let's hope everything turns out good when I check their references, something else that will have to wait until Monday. Cross your fingers.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Part 3 - Amazing Grace Sung at National Cathedral by Dr. Wintley Phipps

I knew it wouldn't take long. Here is Dr. Wintley Phipps in this morning's Inaugural Prayer Service from the National Cathedral and his amazing rendition of Amazing Grace.

I just watched the National Prayer Service from the National Cathedral in Washington DC. Talk about powerful! Wow. If you were not fortunate enough to see it, you can see it on the National Cathedral site. The program is available there, too. I watched most of it on C-Span, to get the whole service without commentary, and the video can be seen there, as well. And if Dr. Wintley Phipps' rendition of Amazing Grace doesn't bring tears to your eyes or run chills down your spine, you need to check your pulse. This morning's performance hasn't hit YouTube, yet, but his Carnegie Hall performance of this powerful hymn and a background story to go with it are here, complete with Bill Gaither's Homecoming Choir doing backup.

Mike still doesn't feel like getting up, and seems quite content to stay in the bed with the dogs on the bed with him. He seems to have a new appreciation for being at home. Nursing homes do that to some people, I understand.

I'm planning to eat lunch with the Water Lilies today. Sway's Restaurant is only about 5 minutes away from our house, so I can get home quickly, in case of emergency. I missed a couple of parties last night that I'd hoped to attend, but just didn't feel comfortable about leaving Mike here alone. With the temps going back down into the 20's, I didn't mind so much. His friend Steve is planning to come over tonight while I go to choir rehearsal.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"He'll never get the nomination. You know that, don't you?" my narrow-minded neighbor needled me.
"No, I don't know that. I know he's going to be our President. It's time."

"He'll never win the election. You know that, don't you?" the bigoted good-ole-boy badgered me.
"No, I don't know that. I know he's going to be our President. It's time."

"He'll never live to be inaugurated. You know that, don't you?" the grumpy old guy groused.
"No, I don't know that. I know he's going to be our President. It's time."

Monday, January 19, 2009

I've been cold all day, seems our high didn't go above 46*, and I've had on more heat than usual, and more clothes than usual, but still, I'm cold. Sure hope I'm not coming down with something. I've been exposed many times to all the crud that's going around, but so far, I've been lucky.

My patient has stayed in the bed all day, just didn't feel like getting up and getting dressed. It sure makes my house more comfortable not to have loud, vulgar TV shows blaring downstairs, and an explosive drunk stumbling around. I do hope Mike recovers and doesn't have to spend the rest of his life in bed, but for now he's an invalid. And he's much easier to help and manage when he stays in his room.

I'm back in the watching TV habit. I probably didn't watch it 3 hours while Mike was gone those 4 weeks, but with Obama's inauguration tomorrow and all the excitement surrounding this historic event, I'm once again interested in politics. The most gratifying part of all this is the number of Republicans who are enthusiastic and optimistic about the Obama presidency. I'll declare! I believe there's a new wave of patriotism sweeping the nation. God bless America and the planet she inhabits!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mike was still in the bed this morning when I got up about 7:30, and that scared me. I've never known him to stay in the bed that late. He didn't feel like getting up, he said. He looked pale. He dressed and came downstairs but was winded and immediately had to sit down, and asked me to fix his breakfast for him. After eating, he lay down on the sofa and stayed there for the next 4 hours.

He struggled again to climb the stairs so he could shower and get ready to eat birthday lunch with his friends. He was so tired after he got to the bedroom, he lay down again to rest and stayed there for 30 minutes before attempting to get in the shower. After he undressed and made his way to the bathroom, he sat down and said, "I really don't feel like doing this. Call Steve and Ron and tell them I'm sorry, but I'm going back to bed." He's in his birthday suit, appropriate for his birthday, I guess, and sound asleep. His color is a greenish-gray. He probably needs oxygen, but I don't have any to give him. He didn't want me to call 911, so I'm letting him rest. What else can I do?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It was 4:30 before the doctor came to sign the discharge order for Mike. It was about 5:30 when we got back home. It took only 30 minutes for him to lose his temper and become churlish. Ah me, my 4-week vacation is over. I did tell him immediately that I would not tolerate that attitude and language, and he apologized. The dogs are back in his room to sleep. Jay-Jay looked unhappy about it, but Gus settled in to the old routine like it was no big deal. He was more excited about seeing them than they were to see him.

Tomorrow is Mike's 59th birthday. He's planning to eat lunch with a couple of buddies, and has promised he will order tea to drink. His friends have told me they will make sure he has no alcohol. Until his vision and reflexes have been tested, he's not supposed to drive. I probably need to go hide the car keys before he gets up in the morning. I hid all the wine and the corkscrews before I went to the hospital.

Mike struggled to climb the stairs this evening, and looked winded when he got to the top. He doesn't seem to have the stamina he had; another fall would be disastrous. But with all our bedrooms being upstairs, he doesn't have much choice, does he? He didn't mention the new paint on the walls. I'm not sure he noticed; I don't think he did. I'm not going to call his attention to it and see how long it takes him to say something.

This is not going to be easy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Whee! The painter finished just in time for Mike's discharge. He's coming home tomorrow. I've got major renovation to do in his bedroom before I pick him up. Everything got shoved in there out of the way of the painting. What a mess! Oh good, there's plenty of room under his bed.

Mike's prognosis is shaky. His doctors have decided against doing any anti-coagulant therapy, said the risk is greater with brain bleeds than with new clots forming. However, the clots they have found developed since he was discharged from St. Dominic's on Dec. 30th. They did an ultra-sound test and found none on that date. So multiple emboli have formed in the last 17 days. And the likelihood of more forming is high. The man is living on borrowed time, but he's said that ever since I met him. He's pretty good at beating the odds.

I still don't have renters for the vacant apartment, but two women looked at it today and said they wanted it. Let's hope everything checks out okay. One less worry would be nice.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mike had another dizzy spell this morning, same symptoms as yesterday, so this time the nurse called and said he needed to be seen by his cardiologist. I took him to St. Dominic's ER where they found multiple blood clots in his lungs and one in his right leg. Tonight they did a surgical procedure to place an IVC filter in his lungs, which will prevent a clot from going to his heart or his brain. Not sure what they will do about the one in his leg.

They knew there was a risk of this when they stopped his Coumadin after the fall, but they didn't start another anti-coagulant therapy because they didn't want the brain injuries to start bleeding again, one of those "damned if you do, and damned if you don't" situations.

He tolerated the minor surgery well without anesthesia. Since no one told us he shouldn't eat tonight, and since he had not had any food since breakfast and was very hungry, I ordered a tray of food for him, after they got him checked into his room. An hour later, the night nurse comes in and says, "Oh, you shouldn't have eaten. They want to do surgery tonight and if I give you anesthesia, it will make you very nauseated. So we can do it without anesthesia, or we can wait until in the morning, it's up to you, but the doctor thinks we need to do it tonight."

I couldn't believe it! I mean, what kind of choice is that? He elected to do it without anesthesia when the nurse described it as uncomfortable, rather than painful. Made me wish I hadn't been so "helpful" in ordering dinner for him.

We still need your prayers.

My painter called yesterday to make a deal about the walls I didn't get done, so I told him to come back and do them. He says he can be finished by noon on Friday. I've also decided to replace the old, ragged mini-blinds with new wide-slat blinds. He said he would install those for me, too. As my grandmother often said: When a job is once begun, never leave it 'til it's done. Be it great or be it small, do it well or not at all.

The Deedo in me will be much better satisfied with the complete job, rather than the half-assed one.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I was having a great day until Mike called and told me he had had a dizzy spell. It happened right after lunch, he said, in the therapy room. He was tossing a beach ball with the PT, got tired and had to lie down. They let him rest, then he tried to get up again and got dizzy. When they took his blood pressure it was low, his oxygen count was low and his speech was slurred. They walked him back to his room and hooked him up to oxygen. A couple of hours later, he called me, and told me what happened and said he felt fine. No one from the nursing home ever called, and I'm thinking they should have.

By the time I got there, the day nurse was gone, the night nurse was on and she didn't know anything about this episode. The doctor, who had been making rounds but got called back to the hospital for an emergency, had not seen him. When the nurse called the doctor, he said Mike needed to go to the ER, but they didn't offer to call an ambulance, and they looked to me to persuade him to go. I guess they expected me to carry him in my car. He refused to go.

His BP was okay when they checked it, the oxygen count was a little low, so they put the oxygen back on him, but his speech was not slurred and he insisted he felt fine. I'm really not qualified to diagnose his symptoms, but it sounded like a TIA to me. The nurse did all the checks for a stroke, but since he already has had a stroke, that's pretty much useless. I stayed with him for over an hour, and he was talking and joking, so I left for choir rehearsal. I don't know anything else I could have done, except call 911 myself and insist they take him. With him refusing to go, I'm not sure they would have.

I really believe the nursing home mishandled this. I've got to talk to them in the morning to find out what their policy is in cases like this. If he is their patient, aren't they supposed to be making decisions for him in his best interest? There may not have been any harm done, but if something like this happens again, I want him carried to the ER, whether he agrees to go or not.

And this makes me even more nervous about bringing him home.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

This morning I met with Amy, the social worker at the nursing home, who had called a care team meeting together. Mike attended the meeting also. She told me that Mike did not meet the criteria for admission to MRC. The wheels in my head were already working overtime, trying to come up with a plan for bringing him home on the 19th.

I talked with Dr. Irby after that and told him that I had to have some system of accountability in place before I allow him back here to live. He agreed, "Absolutely!" and wants to do a thorough neuro-psych evaluation ASAP. Only by comparing new results with results they got in 2004 following the stroke can an accurate assessment be made, he said, and a proper course of action be prescribed. He thinks with counseling and AA, Mike will be okay.

For now, Mike is saying he wants to stay sober, so that pretty much negates the need for an intervention. I’ve also set some limits about his monopolizing the downstairs every afternoon with the noisy television (and the drinking), so he’s thinking of switching his gym and clinic time (PT and OT) from morning hours to afternoon hours, then maybe going to an AA meeting while he’s out.

All of his friends have promised me that their shared activities will not include alcohol. I don’t want him driving until his vision and his reflexes have been tested, and Dr. Irby said both those areas are covered on the exam he wants to do. Until I’m assured he can drive safely and is committed to staying sober, he will have to be driven everywhere he goes, not something I’m ready to do full-time, but will do short term, if necessary.

The painter finished his job today, so I've made a dent in the mess. I wish I had told him to do all the walls while he was working, but I was ready for him to leave, so that can wait a month or two.

Monday, January 12, 2009

What a day! If I ever get my house straight and clean it will be a major miracle. My painter has not finished, so everything is still out of place and getting messier every day. I'm usually okay with a moderately messy place, but this mess is even getting on my nerves. It's ridiculous!

This afternoon, I visited with Mike, who thinks he is coming home on the 18th, and he may be right. The brain injury nurse from MRC interviewed him today and gave him the impression that his injuries do not warrant in-patient hospitalization. I still haven't talked with her, so I'm not sure what the score is. I've got to have firm boundaries and some system of accountability in place before I will be comfortable with him here again. Even though he's been sober for over 3 weeks now, I don't trust him to stay sober by sheer will power. He will have to go to AA, get a sponsor, work the program, and go to counseling. He's ready to do whatever I ask, he said.

My night was capped off with a homeowners' association meeting where we elected the Board of Governors for the year, the same board members we had, except for one new guy. These people all deserve extra stars in their crown for the hassle they've been through in 2008. They did a superb job and got us out of the red. Our troublemaker didn't get nearly as much attention in this meeting as she's been getting in previous meetings. They called the sheriff whose deputy escorted her outside for disturbing the peace. Way to go, Ladies!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

There was a Q&A session with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefforts-Schori at our church this afternoon. It drew a capacity crowd to St. Philip's, something we rarely see except on Goat Roast Sunday. I was so impressed by her easy, relaxed manner and her sensible, sensitive responses to some really tough questions. The first question was about "changes" that have made one of our longtime communicants uncomfortable, and the last question concerned Leviticus 18:22 and whether we, as Episcopalians, consider it relevant today. In between those two bookends, we had a brave Baptist in the crowd who expressed his hope that the Episcopal Church continued to stay at the cutting edge and to lead Christians into the 21st Century, even though most will go kicking and screaming, and another poor soul who seemed quite resentful of "homosexuals who have invaded our church," plus several other inquiries regarding such varied topics as evangelism, Middle-East Conflict, the UN's Millennium Development Goals, and open communion. Our Bishop was calm and unruffled throughout. Unlike Oprah, I guess she has heard it all and probably knew pretty much what to expect.

Father Tom delivered another excellent homily this morning regarding the baptism of Jesus, and how radical he was and how radical we, as Christians, should be. Then we renewed our Baptismal Vows:

Celebrant: Do you believe in God the Father?
People: I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

Celebrant: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
People: I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Celebrant: Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?
People: I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

Celebrant: Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and
fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?
People: I will, with God’s help.

Celebrant: Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into
sin, repent and return to the Lord?
People: I will, with God’s help.

Celebrant: Will you proclaim by word and example the Good
News of God in Christ?
People: I will, with God’s help.

Celebrant: Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving
your neighbor as yourself?
People: I will, with God’s help.

Celebrant: Will you strive for justice and peace among all
people, and respect the dignity of every human
People: I will, with God’s help.

* * * * * * *
In between the morning service and the afternoon meeting, I picked up a lunch at Arby's and visited with Mike. He has shaved a small patch on the right side of his face and says that's all he intends to shave. The rest has a very scruffy 3-week beard on it. I'm wondering if his vision was impaired by the eye injury and he isn't seeing well enough to do the rest, but I didn't ask. He was quite touchy about the whole subject. He ate his roll and his dessert and left the fried chicken, potatoes, and green beans on his plate, said he had a big breakfast and wasn't hungry. He called this evening asking about the Bishop's session, and said he wished he had eaten more lunch. I have a feeling he didn't leave any of his dinner on the plate.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My day started on a happy note - a meeting with my Dream Group, then lunch afterwards, and a shopping trip to Hancock's. We've undertaken a sewing project to make patchwork/fleece jackets with our Chickadee insignia on each jacket, and I still had not bought my fabric. One of our members referred to us frequently as Chickadees, so we adopted the name for our group and another member designed a Chickadee logo for us. It should be a fun group project for a cold winter afternoon when not much else is going on.

Then I visited Mike and had a very difficult conversation with him. He's homesick and wants to come home and promises to do whatever I say if I just let him come home.

I stood my ground as gently as possible without giving into his emotional plea. I'm not sure he understands that he has new injuries that need to be treated, so I explained it all again. He refuses to agree with me that his judgment is impaired due to prefrontal cortex damage, and thinks he can stay sober just by saying, "I'll never drink again."

He doesn't want more therapy except what he was already doing for the stroke, and he certainly doesn't want treatment for alcohol abuse. "I hate all that Big Book junk!" he told me. He claims not to remember drinking more than 2 glasses of wine on the day he fell.

Is it denial, memory failure, confusion, stubbornness, what? He did agree to cooperate before I left, and when I got home there was a message from him thanking me for caring enough to help him.

Just keep praying, that's all I can say.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Most of the painting got done today, some more to be done Monday, but the ladders and scaffolding and drop cloths have been removed, so I have easier access to my stairs. I should have made sure I would get two coats of paint before Jimmy started this job, but I didn't, and now he's insisting that one will be enough. The paint is a light shade of yellow, so thin spots and imperfections are hard to see. Maybe when the sun comes out tomorrow, I can tell if there are any and where they are.

Methodist Rehab is working on getting Mike admitted. Since Medicare is paying for him to be at the nursing home through the 18th, I don't expect the transfer to occur until the 19th, but they may want to do it sooner, that wasn't clear when I talked to the admitting nurse today.

He was right about the NASD exam, but it was scheduled for 1:30 today, not Thursday, and the rescheduling fee is only $75, not $200. In his case, there will probably not be a fee assessed, the lady said. I was pleasantly surprised that he was able to recall something like that. I've heard of blind people getting severe blows to their head and their vision is restored. Maybe his injuries will have some beneficial effects. Getting him sober and motivated to stay sober is the best benefit.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

My house is in the biggest mess. My handyman Jimmy got a bad headache from the Kilz he used in the stairwell and had to quit after painting for less than an hour. So now I have ladders, scaffolding, and drop cloths taking up most of that space, and making the stairs very difficult to traverse. Plus, I got a headache from the fumes, too, even though we opened doors and windows and turned on every fan in the house and a couple of borrowed fans. What other irritant will be rubbing against my raw nerves next?

I had a 2:00 appointment, then went shopping, mainly to avoid coming back to the house. The delightful surprise I got while shopping was to see that Size 12 jeans were too big for me in the waist. I could hardly believe it, but I tried on 3 pairs. The 10's were too small, the 12's too big, so for now I'll stick with what I've got. They're all 12's, but with elasticized waists, so they fit everywhere, a little baggy, but old and comfortable, like me.

Tonight I went to the meeting of RCFDW at the Pearl Library. I really enjoy this group of women. Sue Livingston gave me another picture, which I will scan and publish soon. She's the one who took the picture I used with the Nov. 16, 2008 post. When I told her that the blog got hits that day from all over, including Washington DC, she was thrilled.

Nothing has been resolved about getting Mike into Methodist Rehab. He's saying now that he needs to come home because he doesn't believe they can help him. I think they can, and I'm not ready for him to come home, so he may as well accept it.

He continues to call me before 8:00, which is the boundary I set from Day 1, and he doesn't understand what the big deal is about waking me up before the time I set, but then he's never known what it's like to consider anyone else's feelings about anything. The brain injuries have just exacerbated his worst traits, but now I can't blame the alcohol. It's very frustrating. Keep us in your prayers.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I don't normally watch Oprah, but Ed Bacon is one of her guests today, so I felt compelled to tune in. With 45 minutes of the program over, we've heard very little from him, so I'm disappointed, but I've heard some good advice from the other guests - Elizabeth Lesser and Michael Beckwith.

Okay, he just made his mark, "Being gay is a gift from God," which made Oprah's jaw drop. Then the other minister agreed with him, and she was stunned. Oprah claims never to have heard a minister say that. I would have thought Oprah had heard everything. Oh, well, I'm glad she finally heard it and that she heard it from one of my spiritual heroes.

I enjoyed a good lunch with the Water Lilies today, then went to the consignment shop in the same shopping center where I found the cutest boots, brand new, never worn, perfect fit, for $11.50! They definitely had my name on them. Now I'm headed to show the apartment (the woman who said she wanted it backed out), then the nursing home, then to choir rehearsal. The sun has been out all day, warm and bright, and my mood has improved considerably. Thanks to those of you who expressed concern. I am taking care of myself in every way I know how.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

We've had a typical January day here - cold, gray, raining, miserable. Some folks relish these days, and they do give us a great excuse to hibernate, but that's not always practical, is it? My blues just got a deeper shade of blue, and my anxiety surfaced several times. I've got to get a handle on this, but until certain matters are settled, I'm not sure how to do that.

I was grateful for the Epiphany Service at church tonight. Having something like that to look forward to all day helps, not sure if it's the camaraderie among choir members or the beautiful music or the socializing afterward at the auction. It was fun, and I tried to enjoy it, but like Eeyore, I couldn't completely shake that dark cloud that's been following me around everywhere.
I really don't want to be the pitiful person whom everyone avoids, but I get the feeling several people are deliberately avoiding me. If you've ever been through a divorce, you know how it is. Some people act like they think I've got something contagious, and they don't want to catch it. Well, everybody has their own threshold of pain and discomfort, so I'm trying not to take it personally, but there were a couple of shoulders I thought I could count on that have suddenly gone cold, and it hurts. They may be going through a crisis of their own, so I'll try not to judge them too harshly. And I do have plenty of friends who care enough to listen whether I need to rant, scream, or cry. I am truly blessed with good friends.
My visit with Mike today was pleasant until we started arguing about an NASD test scheduled on Thursday that he said I have to take him to. The National Assoc. of Securities Dealers may be giving exams on Thursday for agents who want to renew their licenses, but I don't intend to take him over there, and I'm hoping he doesn't mention it again. Maybe the whole idea will disappear as quickly as it appeared. He sounded totally irrational as he insisted that he doesn't have a choice about it.
Getting Mike back into Methodist Rehab still requires that I agree to let him come home at the end of his treatment, according to Dr. Irby. I hope they have some way to instill in his addled brain the need to stay away from alcohol. I'm really apprehensive about the prospect of bringing him home anytime soon.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Are you missing out on the fun to be found at Facebook? The new finally wore off for me, but I still check in every morning with a status update and make the rounds among friends to see what's happening in their worlds. Facebook allows you to do that without intruding, and you can leave a comment on something they have posted, or not. I don't comment as much as I used to, but I still read their walls and get a feel for whether they are okay. I have a brand new appreciation for each of them, some of the most colorful, creative and compassionate people I know. We reveal things about ourselves that are not always possible to reveal in a personal encounter, so to me, that's a bonus. If you look for me on Facebook, I'm registered as Ceejay Garrett. There were already several Cathy Garrett's, and you know me, I had to be unique.

The "lack of privacy" bothers some friends I've mentioned Facebook to, but you can be as private as you choose to be. Some of my friends don't post nearly as often as I do, and don't tell nearly as much as I do, but "look, look, my heart is an open book..." (only you oldies but goodies will remember that). And even I have kept some things off Facebook and off this blog.

I've got my handyman Jimmy here today working on the hole in the wall. He's also going to paint the stairwell for me, and possibly the living and dining rooms. I got estimates last week on replacing the carpet, but decided to have it cleaned one more time instead. Eventually, I plan to take up the carpet and put down tile. The pattern I like the most is Salmon by Del Conca Roman Stone, with several colors all mixed in - red, pink, peach, yellow, tan, and gray. The picture here doesn't show all these, but they're in there, believe me. I've always admired Terra Cotta tile, but after I saw them side by side, I liked this one better.

Something tells me it's not the time to take on major expenditures right now. I may buy the tiles the old-fashioned way, monthly, a few at a time, until I have the number required for my 512 square feet downstairs. Then I won't have anything but labor to pay for when they are installed.

I talked to Mike and he was planning to take a shower, shave and brush his teeth before therapy. I'm sure his therapists will appreciate that. And I'm glad he's once again concerned about his personal hygiene. Sounds like we are headed in the right direction.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Mike called at 2:30 this morning, waking me from the 3 hours sleep I'd had, and robbing me of more until about 5:45. Then I had to get up by 7:30 to make the early choir rehearsal at 9:15. We had to go over the anthems for Tuesday night's Epiphany Service. So I was quite tired until I got back home from church, lunch, and nursing home, and got a nap. Tonight the phones will be turned off and I'll probably take a Lunesta. I'm trying not to rely on sleeping pills. These were prescribed for Mike and he claimed not to be able to sleep without them. However, he's not getting them in the nursing home and seems to be sleeping fine without them. Funny how leaving off the alcohol improves situations like this.

My friend Pam pointed out at lunch that he's obviously got serious brain damage to do stupid stuff like calling me at 2:30 in the morning. Is he incapable of figuring out that alienating me works to his own disadvantage? It seems that way.

He was cordial when I visited today and asked me to take his cell phone home to charge the battery. He's bathing again, but complained about the shower curtain letting water drip on the floor. He's used to a shower with the glass doors and is afraid that stepping out on to a wet floor will cause him to fall. I immediately pointed out that he should put a towel on the floor to soak up the water, then realized that once again, I gave him a solution to a problem that I should have allowed him to think through and solve for himself, or at least, try to solve. We mothers/wives do that a lot, don't we?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Bye Bye Birdie - Lot of Livin' to Do

Okay, it finally took, but in a seperate post. ENJOY!

I missed the rehearsal today for our Mardi Gras program, which disappointed me greatly. The time was changed from what I wrote down a couple of weeks ago, and somehow I missed the email that told me. Makes me wonder what else I've missed. Carelessness or stress? Or a combination of the two?
I was really looking forward to some dancing and singing, nothing, well, almost nothing, puts me in a better mood, but as it turned out they did none of the choreography today. And the songs are mostly new to me, since I haven't kept up with pop music lately. But we'll have a CD to help us learn the songs and YouTube has videos of them all.
One of the numbers is not new at all, "A Lot of Livin' to Do" from Bye, Bye Birdie. (I tried to embed the video, but it didn't work. Click on the link for a real treat.) The movie came out in the 60's with Bobby Rydell and Ann Margaret. Man! I always wanted to dance like her. That looks like the most fun imaginable.
I still regret not being permitted to dance as a teenager. My Baptist preacher daddy just didn't understand the bitter dissapointment I suffered from his not allowing me to attend the dances in high school. I did get to dance in the school musicals, and that was great fun, but I wanted to "twist and shout" with Richard and our other friends after the Friday night ballgames, and never got to. Of course, my friend Tonya and I spent many Saturday mornings dancing along with American Bandstand in her grandmother's living room. Still, it just wasn't the same.

The 60's dancing video was the second reminder I got this weekend of Tonya. One of the friends I went out with last night reminds me of her so much. Wish I had a picture of Paula to put beside this one of Tonya. They could easily pass for sisters.
The other fun thing I did today was to eat breakfast with the Rankin County Democrats at Golden Corral. Some of the nicest people I've met in a long time, and so intelligent.
My visit with Mike was not fun. He's still not accepting any responsibility for his current predicament, and doesn't want to talk about it. Ah, me. This is not going to be easy.

Friday, January 02, 2009

When I visited with Mike today, our conversation sounded more like mother and son than wife and husband. He was immediately defensive when I asked if he had managed to get his shower without any trouble. "Don't start on me about taking a damn bath!" he snarled.

I changed the subject. He let me know real quick that I had interrupted his TV show, so I waited for a commercial to say anything else. He told me he was going home this week-end. "How are you going home?" I asked.

"Same way I got over here, drive my car!"

I told him again where he is and why he is where he is and how he got to where he is and why he won't be driving again until we're sure it's safe. He gave me a look full of daggers, but didn't say anything else. I only stayed about half an hour, telling him I had errands to run. It was clear to me that he has decided I'm the culprit in this whole fiasco and has a lot of anger about it. His attitude softened some when he realized I was leaving and he told me I looked real pretty. Is he trying to butter me up so I'll take him home? Probably.

I failed to say in yesterday's post that Dr. Irby is the one who told me Mike has pre-frontal cortex damage. One of my astute readers pointed that out. He had not reviewed all the records or the discharge notes from St. Dominic's, and wanted to do that before making a recommendation. I have a lot of confidence in Dr. Irby, especially since he's known and worked with Mike ever since his stroke. Since I haven't heard from him today, I guess it will be Monday.

Some Democratic friends have planned a GNO (girls night out) and have invited me to join them. I've never eaten at the restaurant where we're going. Maybe they can catch me up on all that's been happening in politics since the election. My interest has been minimal since then. I haven't watched the news or the talk shows, or read the paper or magazines. I think Mississippi Democrats are planning an inauguration party in Jackson, but I haven't heard for sure.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Here's what Wikipedia says about the part of Mike's brain that was injured in the fall - the prefrontal cortex:

This brain region has been implicated in planning complex cognitive behaviors, personality expression, decision making and moderating correct social behavior. The basic activity of this brain region is considered to be orchestration of thoughts and actions in accordance with internal goals.

The most typical psychological term for functions carried out by the pre-frontal cortex area is executive function. Executive function relates to abilities to differentiate among conflicting thoughts, determine good and bad, better and best, same and different, future consequences of current activities, working toward a defined goal, prediction of outcomes, expectation based on actions, and social "control" (the ability to suppress urges that, if not suppressed, could lead to socially-unacceptable outcomes).

With that information, it's easy to see why rehab for alcoholism might not do much good. What I don't know is whether the injury is permanent or temporary. He's still planning to resume "Bub Days" (lunch dates where he over-indulges), according to what he said tonight when our friends Jon and Trish were visiting.

They, by contrast, are planning "Bub Days" where no alcohol is served at someplace like McAlister's. It's looking to me like Mike can never be trusted again with car keys and money. I'm afraid he will head to the nearest liquor store or bar. He may have to be confined from now on. We still have a lot of questions to answer.

Please pray that I get the information I need to make the wisest choices possible. And thank God he didn't injure or kill someone else when he drove intoxicated. December 21st, 2008 could have been even more tragic than it was.
Eating greens and black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is supposed to bring good luck. Since there seems to be a shortage of that around here lately, I plan to partake at my friend Pam's house this afternoon. She called to invite me a little while ago, which immediately kicked my mood up a notch or two. BAM! See it's already working.

I enjoyed some stiff competition on the Scrabble board last night from the best competitor I've found, so far, the computer. He beat me twice, but just barely. Then I read some in my Women Who Run with the Wolves book 'til I got sleepy, so I was probably asleep before the ball fell in NYC. This book has helped me to remember who I am instinctively and what my strengths are. Living with alcoholism will wear a woman down until she forgets how to thrive. She may survive a severe wounding, but will she heal and thrive again? And it gives me great joy to say, SHE WILL!!!

I finally got around to washing laundry this morning. And I've made a to do list that includes shampooing dogs and exercising. According to one of my wise friends, Exercise is the BEST way to manage anxiety/panic without meds. I do need these reminders. Thanks, Karen!

Sometime this afternoon, I'll visit with Mike. He's so much easier to take in small doses when he's not in the same house. And when I've had enough, I can get up and leave. Plop, plop! Fizz, fizz! Oh, what a relief it is!