Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hard work week

It's a hard work week - intellectual challenges for me with exciting clients - keeps me thinking, feeling, learning - and feeling drained by the end of the day. Coming home to dinners Chris has cooked and to liam, who brought his face close to mine for akiss before bed tonight, makes a tough time sweeter. I worry about Bob and look forward to the time he can life here with us all the time. Ruth and Chris both know I worry and offer comfort. I wish I could cheer up. I'm so fortunate to be where I am with the people I'm with.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The things I learn

Knife skills. I never thought I'd be learning knife skills at 59. I've been cutting vegetables for at least forty five years but all I was really taught was "cut away from yourself, never toward", which is good basic advice but nothing like the techniques I'm learning from Chris. I thought he was just magic, the way he cuts vegetables so tiny, especially onions, but more and more I'm learning that, though he is magic, cutting vegetables is about technique and having good sharp knives. This morning when Ruth was teaching the first session of her college class and I was making lunch, Chris gave me an effective lesson in mincing an onion. It worked - smallest pieces I've ever achieved. But there is more than that to it. If we weren't living together it never would have occured to me or Chris that he knew an ordinary kitchen thing that would make my life easier and my food tastier. We woulodn't have known and trusted each other enough for this morning's lesson to have occured. I think the thing I like best about the co-housing is the natural interactions that occur among us, the real connectedness without having to plan and design it.

Farmer's Market and parting with stamp collection

When I was in late elementary school through high school I collected stamps and I loved it - the clipping, soaking, categorizing, storing. I remember many happy hours moving stamps with tweezers, finding their places in albums, carefully storing duplicates. My active participation in this hobby waned in college, but I still enjoyed the albums. I hoped my kids or grand kids would pick up my fascination, but they just didn't. I guess Liam or Andrea or even one of the bigger grands still could - but I'm tired of storing the stamps and they just don't do for me what they did before - we change, interests, needs. That should be a nobrainer but it's taken me 59 years to get a slippery grasp on the concept. So today I spent the afternoon with my collection, last time - priced a bunch of items on eBay and found I have some good stamps but nothing of earth shaking value, so we've contacted a dealer to give us a bid. Feels good. Stamp collecting is moving out.

What's moved in is Saturday mornings at the Farmer's market with Liam and Ruth and Chris, choosing foods and spending time among people interested in sustainable living, greenness, ecokosher, whatever you want to call it - and just plain farm folk. I loved seeing a man a apparently in his seventies, in overalls
and practical hat, swaying and foot tapping to the same folksy music that had Liam up dancing. Three legged races being announced, introducing ourselves to
families with babies Liam's age, getting to know some of the farm families including hearing in detail the motor development of five month old Leay whose father grows green garlic right now and amazing peppers in summer, overhearing comments like "Last night when I went down to the barn..." said totally matter of factly....all of that just felt really really good even though
I am a city girl. And tomorrow I'll fix lamb and parsnips the way the farmer who sold the lamb does it for his family, that is if I have the sense to go to bed so I can get up to do it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sabbath again - reflection

Exhausting week - productive week. We made great progress toward getting out of our storage unit (lowered expense and a move toward not having more than we need), saw Liam through the delight of his graduation from the baby "Bug" class at Little Gym, passed the major milestone of closing on Joanna's house -gone that worry, and really streamlined the garage space for studio and computer desks as well as storage of things like holiday decorations. Ruth and I both like seasonal decorating, and materials for that are things we've chosen to keep. A jouy of this week is that Bob managed well his first week back in the classroom after his illness. We miss him this weekend, especially missed him at the Shabbat table.

The week ended sweetly. I came home from work a little before dusk to Chris in the kitchen preparing a feast up to his usual high standards. If you haven't tried cauliflower mashed potatoes you should - also grapefruit in your dinner salad. While he cooked, I straightened up week debris, put toys away, and Ruth and I sorted mail, finished the mundane of the week. I felt good about cleaning as Chris cooked, taking out the compost and the recycling, working mindfully, not rushing After Sabbath dinner and questions (Ruth's great new tradition), I finished cleaning the kithchen while Chris nd K.K. worked on her history review at the kitchen table. Yheyu continued working and then chatted while I wrote on my computer in my room and Ruth nursed Liam in his room. This sounds so simple, but it is so sweet, the kind of family life I missed when we were all living in nuclear families. It just seemed so right, the teacher helping the student, plenty of hands for the work, a shared sense of proper FridayI should be on my computer) but the spirit of set apart time is sacred and healing for me, however we handle the definition and the details. There is something so tender about beloved, week weary faces in candle glow, and the quietness of a house dedicated to winding down to simplicity for a little while, or resting and loving together. it feels so different from week nights.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Tonight Bob and I got out our guitars to play with the three grandsons (Danny immediately requested "Puff the Magic Dragon" a song I, too, associate with Bob and his guitar with much sweetness). Bob has had trouble with his hand for some time now and hasn't been able to play but decided tonight that he was up to it (yay for spontaneous recovery in the last few weeks!). I was delighted to hear and get to sing with Bob again. And it made me think.

I want Liam to grow up with singing in the house the way I did. I still remember the absolute tenderness of Bob camped out singing me lullabies on his guitar. And I attribute my love of Folk music to his Peter Paul and Mary repertoire--those songs have always felt like family and love. Like a Dad is supposed to.

There have been a couple of times, over the years, that I've gotten to sing with Bob while he played and I've caught myself thinking "here it is--look at us--we are being a family!" and I've always dreamed of being able to do that for my kids.

So, when I was young, I requested and received a guitar for my (13th?) birthday. And I LOVE my guitar. It still makes me ridiculously happy just to get it out and drag the pick over the steel strings and listen to the resonance. It's a nice guitar and it was a very generous gift at a time that I'm not sure my parents had a ton of money to spare.

Playing the guitar has always fit with my self image and I think my mom and Bob got that. And so they didn't bat an eyelash. Didn't hesitate--they just got me the guitar and the lessons to go with it. And I was THRILLED. I still remember buying the grape seed oil and learning all about how to take care of my fingernails. I remember learning the opening fingerwork for Norwegian Wood and Brown Eyed Girl and feeling like I was finding myself.

I LOVED learning to play.

And then my teacher told me I would never get anywhere unless I learned my bar chords. And I couldn't get them. I tried and I cried and I wished. But I just couldn't do it. And I decided that if I wasn't going to get any better unless I learned something I couldn't learn then I should stop wasting my parents money and I asked to quit my classes. And so I quit--and I still played on occasion but I hadn't really learned much and I certainly hadn't gotten to the kind of social playing I wanted. And so I played less and less over the years. I lost my callouses and I forgot most of the chord progressions I'd learned.

I don't like that. I want to be able to pick my guitar up and sing when the boys request a song

So sitting there with Bob and the guitar he so sweetly got me and that I never really learned to play. I felt sad and guilty and loved and a whole host of mixed emotions. And I realized that I have that sort of experience far too often in my real life: I feel tenderness and regret and complicated emotions--and I want to say something: reach out in some what. But I stop short of saying anything about them.

Too often I tuck away my worry or remorse or concern or embarrassment or even love. And I act as if there is no deeper level to whatever mundane interaction is taking place.

I don't want to do that anymore.

So I'm not sure if I want to work on building up the callouses on my fingers or tearing down the ones on my interactions... maybe both?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happy Sunday

It's great to be home, catching up on organization, Bob feeling fine going through old slides full of memories, deciding what to keep scanned onto computer, what can go. Ruth is straightening out her desk and Chris just came back from the park with a sleeping Liam who has been missing playing outside during these colder days. It's in the forties now - first time in several days, so he got to wander some. I so like my life right now. I still have so much sorting to do - more clothes this afternoon, and then the deadly paperwork - more and more.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Home safe

It took us a while to get discharge and prescriptions, but the trip back was fine and it's good to be home with Ruth and Chris and Liam. Bob even got to read Liam a bedtime story. It's 21 out - cold for these parts. I'm glad to be in..Thanks for all the love, prayers and good wishes.

Homeward bound

We're done with the doctors and nurses - Bob all dressed to go home, just some paperwork left. I have Pearl all loaded and ready to go. Chris is planning Sabbath dinner and I'm eager for liam hugs - good to be going home to a home, not an empty house.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Normal echocardiogram and all is well

Finally the elusive echo was found and the sweet internist read it off the computer for us - and it's perfect- healthy heart for my big hearted love - no clots, normal valves, nothing enlarged, no reason to believe the AFIB was caused by anything but the clots in the lungs - so not likely to recur. It seems that, as long as clots are prevented, Bob will be just fine, and we know he responds well to Cumadin - so definitely good news here. I slept well in the guest house last night, loved my bath, and am hungry - off to lunch now.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Still good

Bob's been off oxygen most of the day and feeling pretty good. I walked to his apartment and cleaned a little, also brought back some books and some of the food I fixed for him this week that would have gone bad if it had stayed in the fridge. I froze what i could freeze for next week. Anyway, I keep being blindsided by how easily Bob could have died. He didn't. Now I want to work harder on valuing every moment - which may be backfiring a little because i'm so darn serious about making the most of every moment rather than being good at lightening up and enjoying. That balance is hard for me.

Encouraging morning

Bob woke up feeling much better this morning - took a shower without oxygen and without being tired out by it. That is especially encouraging since it was during his shower Monday morning that he realized he was so short of breath and weak he had to go to the hospital. I'm just so glad he didn't die. Today could be so different. We are still waiting on the echocardiogram results and for the cumadin and luvanox to get his blood thin enough that risk of further clots is reduced. I don't know how long that will take, before they feel he is safe to release. I'm still holding back emotionally a little until that doctor reads the echo, but mostly I'm in a good place, full of tenderness for all I love, especially Bob, and planning writing projects to make the most of this time away from other projects.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Peaceful evening

It's oddly pleasant being here at the hospital with Bob - the rest of the world on hold. I've got the drill down - the location of the ice machine, the hours of the cafeteria, halls to walk inside since it is cold outside and I go crazy just sitting and not getting any exercise at all. Bob seems stronger, shaved this evening. I still am nervous about the results of the echocardiogram and he still wishes his heart rate would come down more, but mostly we're enjoying this odd island of time. I keep chanting internally in odd moments "He's alive. He could be dead. He's alive." And then I give him a kiss. Of course any of us could be dead at any moment and everyone could use a kiss. I also am thankful for Bob's choice to be a teacher and for the medical insurance that comes with that choice.I remember the added anxiety of hospitalizations without insurance. The system of payment for health care is so broken - and I feel really fortunate to be on the right side of the chasm this time around (not that there still won't be expenses).

Quiet afternoon

Bob and I have been reading and dozing. I did get lunch in the little snack shop on the hospital first floor and will try the cafeteria for supper. Bob is finding the hospital heart floor food really bland. Both of us are missing your cooking, Chris, and generally missing home, but we are alsolucky he's alive anbd being taken care of. I'm beginning to feel more relief even without the echo results, great tenderness toward Bob and to everyone I love - still somewhat pulled back emotionally but more normal than yesterday. I wonder what Liam is up to. I just checked his blog and smiled at his smile.


Well the cardiologist came and he still hasn't read the echocardiogram because he's been "too busy" and "can only do one thing at a time" which I do understand, but somehow the whole encounter felt sour. His general demeanor felt doomful to me and definitely "not upbeat" to Bob, though he was perfectly polite and kept asking if we had questions but he never answered any of them. He did ask me to write my questions down, which is a good idea and I will. But something about his manner just bugged me - like he suspects something bad he isn't saying, or maybe he just feels defensive about not having read the echocardiogram yet. I hate to leave the room to get something to eat, but I don't really want to. Still, eating is important.

Back in sinus rythm

Bob's hear spontaneously went back into sinus rythm about an hour ago. Apparently this doesn't usually happen and he could have other spells of AFIB, but so far so good. He seems to be feeling pretty good right now, better than early this morning. I think bland hospital food and being constantly poked and messed with is getting tohim a little. I am still holding out in terms of relief for the results of the echocardiogram from yesterday. There will be no more new tests as far as we know. That's a relief for me. I know medical tests are our friends, often save our lives, but I have an irrationally hard time with anxiety while waiting for results and have been known to yell that I HATE medical tests, which really isn't true. I want those I love to get the best care and I'm aware of the importance of tests in this.

New Day (same diagnosis)

Bob is having a harder morning--less himself according to my mom. We're all thankful he's in the care of the doctors and nurses instead of on his own somewhere (scary to think that the docs were saying Bob could have just dropped dead anytime in the last few days from this!)

Mom and I have been spending most of our talk time working on details of closing the practice for the week but I did get from her that they've done a CAT scan of Bob's legs and (the tech was not supposed to tell them this but) he does have clots in his legs.

The doctors seem to believe that Bob is genetically predisposed toward clotting and are considering genetic testing to prove the hypothesis (But Bob is wondering if they should bother given that the info won't change treatment for him and he will not be having any more kids and we aren't genetically related to him so the grandbabes are not at risk)

Mom seems less scared (waiting for test results is always the hardest part for her--now that they know it's easier).

It's strange to say, with such a potentially serious medical issue, that we're not worried--but for the time being (while he's with doctors at least) I don't think we are.

Monday, January 4, 2010

From the hospital

It's been a rollercoaster of a day, really thankful to have the support of both daughters and their guys. Right now Bob is not in crisis. In fact he's eating crackers and watching football. But pulmonary embolisms, his doctor said, are a major cause of sudden death, which could have happened any time during the last few days - freaks me out. I asked the doctor if sudden death is still a risk and he says not really, that the blood thinners give protection against further pieces of clot breaking off. There will be more medical tests tomorrow to look for clots in legs and heart and for possible genetic causes. Being with Bob, he doesn't seem very sick, not in pain or exhausted - I'm scared of the tests tomorrow though. tEsts are supposed to be good because they give information that leads to cures. I really know that. I'm just scared of information in situations like this. Completely irrational. I love it that you've been posting, Ruth, and thanks, Joanna for the ride and the love getting me down here in one piece. I'm glad Joanna took Lobo home and Chris and Ruth will take care of him. I'm just walking away from my practice, which feels crazy, for these few days - this week. I'm trying to leave messages, but people are just going to have to get along without me for now. I don't feel like I have any extra emotional strength for anybody.

new and improved update (now with actual information)

Bob called again to update me. My renewed list of "what I know" follows: (be aware that details may be screwy)

  • He has "spray"s of small pulmonary embolisms in both lungs
  • They think the embolisms may have caused the a-fib
  • They did an echo cardiogram and will be doing more tests on his heart to look for clots there (because clots in the heart go to the brain and that is BAD!)
  • They are taking it slow because they don't want to dislodge any clots that could be in his heart (again--trying to avoid the capital B-A-D)
  • He is feeling much better now (oxygen is GOOD)
  • He will be on cumadin (spelling?) for the foreseeable future
  • They are looking into causes (maybe genetic?)
  • They are projecting 3-5 days in the hospital followed by home rest with him back to work in two weeks (though I'm unclear if that is two weeks from now or two weeks of recovery--I'm guessing the later?)

Wait and See ?

I just got off the phone with Bob who sounds comfortable (and happily recounted for me the music and audio book he's listened to and the pages he's read while waiting in the hospital--so I'm pretty sure he feels better). They have done a CT and he's on a medicine designed to help with the a-fib. They are thinking/hoping/wondering that they may be able to get the a-fib under control (with meds or by removing a clot if there is one--they don't have results from the scan yet) and send him home. I'm not clear on a time line but it does seem like they are taking good control of him (and Mom is spending the night).

New News is No News

Joanna and I just spoke (quickly with two few details): Here is what I know now:

  • Bob will stay the night.
  • They are preparing to run "some kind of scan" (and had to run "a different one than usual" because of Bob's iodine allergy). Joanna did not know if the proposed scan was a CT as recommended by our doctor Uncle.
  • Nobody seems freaked
I'll continue to post as I get news but it looks like it won't be much and it won't come fast. (Such is the curse of the blessing of being non-emergent).

Still Waiting

I have no news. Last I heard (several hours ago) Mom and Joanna were in San Antonio (about a quarter of the way). I hope I'll hear more soon.

I'll post when I know anything.

Bob is in the hospital

We woke up this morning to a phone call from Bob telling us that his (doctor) brother had told him he should go to the ER to make sure he didn't have a blood clot in his lungs. He followed directions and took himself to the ER where he had a chest X-ray (which we are told looks like probably does not have such a blood clot) and it was discovered that his heart is in afibrillation (sp?). They are admitting him (Further testing? Observation? Perhaps a CT?). I'll post more when I know it.

Mom is on her way to Corpus to be with him (and take care of Lobo).

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Eve - Liam and Lobo

Last evening, Chris and Ruth reverted and joined a re-Prom party, re-creation of high school prom, but done as wise and experienced twenty-somethings instead of immature teens. Victoria and I (mostly Victoria) kept Liam. Liam slept peacefully until nearly 11:00, then awoke crying probably that no one was there in bed with him. Victoria, working on her computer in his room, immediately picked him up and started comforting. But he wanted Momma! So he cried. And cried. And cried. He accepted comfort from Victoria, almost falling back to sleep, but his insistence that he had a right to his Momma and anger that he wasn't getting what he wanted, won out. He cried off and on until Ruth and Chris, notified of Liam's stubborn state, could come and rescue him. When they arrived, immediately, he stopped crying.

The most fascinating thing, however, was how Lobo reacted. Liam has cried before, so Lobo is used to it. But when it didn't stop, Lobo decided something was wrong. He became agitated, running around, barking, jumping up close to Liam to sniff, then back on the prowl to find the bear or cat or other evil animal that was hurting Liam. He couldn't find it, and would come to me, confused, and then go back to hunting, growling, and barking. Several times, Liam would stop crying and watch Lobo for several minutes until he remembered his need to assert his displeasure. I calmed Lobo some, but he didn't seem really OK until Liam stopped crying.

Lobo, chronically afraid of all small humans (who he fears will pull his hair or poke him in the eye) has clearly fully accepted Liam as a member of our community pack!