The Thoughts of a Frumpy Professor

............................................ ............................................ A blog devoted to the ramblings of a small town, middle aged college professor as he experiences life and all its strange variances.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Popcorn Between My Teeth

My wife is a big fan of reality television, and hence if I am in the family room with her, I also watch. One of the very many shows that she (and hence we) watch is a newcomer called "Design Star" on HGTV. It is of a similar vein as "Project Runway" and "Top Chef" both from Bravo. It has promise. When the episode aired at 9pm tonight, I actually waited until a comercial break to step onto the porch for a pipe. And I greatly enjoyed the popcorn my wife made as well.

It has been a surprisingly quiet and calm weekend for my family. I am afraid to hope that it may last for a while, and actually feeling a bit skittish as I wait for another "shoe" to drop.


Sunday, July 30, 2006

Beard & Moustache Trim

Again, I am taking another day away from my troubles. I went to the barber for a haircut and beard and moustache trim. My barber is also a pipe smoker and because of this we had fun talking about pipes as well.


Saturday, July 29, 2006


Today is a day of respite from my harsh summer. I spent the day thinking about my father, whom I miss greatly to this day. So, today I will quote one of his more common phrases about beloved pipe tobacco:

"Pipe tobacco is a gift from God. When a man smokes a pipe, he is able to momentairly glimpse the beauty and essence of what Heaven will be like."

I have always agreed with my father on that quote.


Friday, July 28, 2006

Quiescence for Me and Yet, Fear for a Friend

I was able to have a very long, very emotional, heart-to-heart talk with my wife and from that discussion, she came back to me later in the day and told me about her understanding of me, my hopes, and my dreams in such a way that I could believe she DID understand me.

Some of you may find it odd that someone married as long as we have been would still have to work at these sorts of things... but I think it is always the case for all marriages and unions. Because there are two people involved, there will be two different personalities and hence two different strategies for living life that need to mesh.

We each have our strengths in understanding some parts of a person's personality, but other aspects may not be our strong suit. With me for instance, I tend to be very cerebral and engaged in thought, I tend to display my love through action.... by doing things for her or for the family. I figure when I do something with love to help the family, even if it is at a cost to myself, I have done good and I have expressed my love. She on the other hand tends to want love more through touch and intimate (not necessarily meaning sexual, just very one-on-one) time together. Those are our innate mannerisms and our tendencies for showing and wanting love... and in times of stress (like I am going through), we tend to use our primary love approaches and forget our secondary and tertiary forms because they are not as "natural" for us.

Hence, challenges occur because I keep trying to fix things by showing more and more love through "doing", yet she feels moody because she wants touch and intimacy. As my natural inclination toward touch and intimacy (again, recall I am not speaking about copulatory behavior) is very low, I have had to learn to become more touchy, more feely, and more intimate throughout our marriage. It is a good thing I have learned, to be sure.... but like a person learning a second language in adulthood, I am still not overly fluent in it. Likewise, she is definitely not fluent in the "doing" of acts to show love... for it is not her native love language. But yesterday, when she talked to me about my hopes and dreams, and how she did want me to be able to continue to grow and strive... that was a great, wonderful, blessed show of her love. It made me cry... this time out of joy. She understood! She cared!

With that growth, things have become much more even keeled at the moment. I feel wholly average. I feel even a modicum of hope for a future that can be filled with growth and increases in happiness and joy.

With my elderly mother's health also appearing to reach some form of steady state right now, the net effect is I am starting to once again feel like an "average Joe". I am not jumping off the walls with glee, but also I am not in the pits of despair.

Average it is.... neither happy nor sad. I shall embrace it and hold on to it with all my might! It is a relief. It is so much better than what I had been experiencing. And with both my wife's words, and my mother's condition, I may even allow myself a brief amount of time to look for a possible goal, perhaps to make a try at developing a new research strand, or take up photography, or anything so I can think and believe in my being able to accomplish something just for me. It could perhaps be only a pipe dream and the world could crumble down upon me again in a half hour if either of the above "shes" sours, but right now, I will accept this respite, and hope and pray for more.... more average.

As a side note, a very good friend of mine at 4th Avenue Blues is having a very, very difficult time right now. It makes me feel sadness as he is a person so deserving of autonomy, so deserving of happiness, and also so deserving of respect. I have been communicating with him the last few days and am hoping he will be able to win his battle to arrive at joy.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Bump on The Log

I made the effort to go to my office today at the University. I brought all of my comforts... honey toast, brewed a big pot of flavored coffee, had my pipes and several pipe tobaccos, and plenty of work to accomplish and perform.

I sat. I drank one cup of coffee. I lit my pipe once and then quickly set it aside. I looked around on the Internet for a few minutes, not really reading much of anything. I layed my head down on my arms and was quiet for a while, until the dam broke and the tears started to well up and flow down my cheek into my moustache and beard, the sobs started and at first were slow and rhythmic but grew deeper, harsher, more shrill and more desperate. I could feel the extreme contortions in my face as it grew hot and flushed from the wave upon wave of emotion. If I had looked at myself in the mirror, I know I would have been red-faced, my eyes swollen and puffy, my cheeks moist, my beard matted with tears. My sobs turned into gasps, and more and more saddness and despair eminated from deep within my soul. the low pitched sobs became tighter, higher pitched and were more and more histronic. My hands were clenched and white, as if I had held them so tight I had restricted blood flow. The wails that I made contorted my mouth and my whole body felt tight, pent up and filled with rage, sorrow, despair. After a spell, the gasps grew quieter as I could not sustain the energy and I sat there, the tears still pouring out of my eyes, my head resting on my arms as I lay them upon my desk.

During my life, several women have stated to me that crying helps them feel better. In no way is that true for me. Crying does not feel like a release for me, it does not help me to feel better. It drains me further, dessimates and dessicates me and my soul. I feel hollow, empty, and brittle after I cry.

I sat there, my head in my hands for several hours, not moving, not thinking, not anything. At 3pm, I got up, I shuffled some papers into my briefcase, shuttered the door behind me, walked through the lab, closed that door as well, walked down the stairs, and out of the building. I walked to the parking lot and my vehicle. I drove home.

I feel I am dead, a walking corpse.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Walking, Talking, Robot

My elderly mother is reasonably stable now. Of that I am glad.

But this entire summer has been a futile, demoralizing, and desctructive one as far as my own health and psyche is concerned. I am not sure how to even discuss or describe it. When I can think of nothing else, it seems a list helps me sort out all this crap:

1. My elderly mother's two major (the second one extremely stressful) hospitalizations. Both made time and day-to-day routines go topsy turvy. Both drained and depleted energy from my soul. The second hospitalization was ten times more harsh than the first because of her harsh and wretched cursing me out repeatedly. Even though she does not remember any of it now, it still hurts. Even though I realize it was due to her medicine/illness, it still hurts.

2. My wife is in what is best described as a rather late onset menopause. She had been slowing for quite a while, so we had presumed those earlier years were menopause. Wrong. The nastiness and the vehemence when she gets into a "mood".... it cuts away my very soul. Again, I know physiologically it is a result of hormone changes. I understand that intellectually.... yet, I do not need or require or deserve to be ripped a new rectum, nor do I need to be denegrated or demoralized. ESPECIALLY WHEN I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING WRONG.

3. Illness in children. Be they adults or not, it still hurts like hell when your kid of any age gets hurt. This summer, my oldest son was in an accident and received a skull fracture. The worry and fear felt, the pain and anguish that permeates every bone, muscle, and sinew. He has made very good progress, but we will worry still for several more weeks for a final resolution of the fracture.

4. Pressures from a bunch of wonderful "eager beaver" type students wanting to get involved in research with me. These students, normally just what I want, are instead only an added stress and worry in my life. I feel the rest of my day-to-day life only serves to make me seem inept and incapable, and so I feel shame and frustration at my work refuge as well.

Please do not think I am over reacting. This has been constant.... a continual rotation of horrors throughout the entire summer. Menopause, Elderly Mother's Illness, Menopause, Son's Accident, Menopause, Elderly Mother's Second Illness, Menopause, and on and on and on.

I am depressed, and angry, and find no joy in life. I miss me (as I stated before), I miss having even the illusion of control over my day-to-day activities. I miss being a professor.... for instead I have become a caregiver for an elderly woman, a menopausal woman, a son in an accident, and a bunch of very needy students.

Who am I? Do I ever get a life back? Do I ever get to feel back to where I was... my "norm" where life seems to have a modicum of reliability, where I feel loved, where I feel I can contribute? I do not know.... I am truly beginning to doubt it. Thinking about nothing, feeling nothing, expecting nothing... all those things help in the short term.... but it is so easy to fallout of soothing lack of thought back into thought... thought that includes hopes and dreams and desires.... all of which will only become smashed under foot again by those whom I love... yet they do not get or understand this. I have told them, I have had crying seesions, I have had arguments... all to no avail.

If I could just avoid any hope, any plan, any goal, and any desire in life, I could cope. That is why I need to simply become a walking, talking, robot. Subjugate my soul, my well-being, my life so as to keep the family going, all the while I slowly die inside.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Nothing to Say

I have nothing to say today, and I feel sad and hopeless.


Monday, July 24, 2006


I Miss Me

Yes, friends, let us have a "pity party" for me. I will say it, "I miss me." Perhaps better said, "I miss the predictable patterns of my life. I miss working on work with the gusto I once had. I miss the living life "large"."

There, it has been said. If I were to listen to the "esteemed" Dr. Phil, this would be all that is required of me to regain my happiness. One of my sisters is so enthralled by this man that she has tried to lend me three of his books that she has read and even highlighted page by page with three different colors of highlighter pen.

Well, that was enough introspection for a day. I will now head back into my blissfully unaware state of being.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Happiness in Nothingness?

This is perhaps the most comfortable day I have had in nearly two months. I did not think about anything valuable or meaningful. I layed like a lump on the couch for a few hours after breakfast. I mowed the lawn, ate, and cleaned out my vehicle. All the while, I purposefully did not try to think, nor did I try to stimulate myself with music, television dramas, etc. I did listen vaguely to the news on CNN, MSNBC, and NPR, but not with the usual rapt attention I devote to most matters. I cannot actually recall any particular detail I heard about.

Perhaps that is the key to happiness? Have no expectations, do not pay attention, do not have plans. Just float along.


Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Antarctic

A three part essay:

1. My elderly mother is experincing new issues that are worriesome. Her feet are swollen, and added furosemide is not fully alleviating it. It could be the switch to verapamil, but it could be something more sinister. The doctor (his nursing staff) does not seem to be particularly concerned for they do not offer any suggestions. Yet, accompanying this is a gradual decline in appetite, drinking, and greater sleeping again. She has an appointment with the heart specialist in a week, but I would prefer to have an appointment on Monday (actually I would have prefered last Friday, but they had no available space). They may not have space on Monday either.

2. My wife is driving her mother and father (and with a few of our kids) up North to my mother and father-in-laws childhood home territory to have a party with other of their relatives for my mother-in-law's birthday. My mother's condition preculdes my going. My wife may stay overnight.

3. I have always dreamed of goint to the Antarctic. I once sent in a proposal to work at one of the stations there on a biology experiment I designed, and was accepted. Unfortunately, issues at the time prevented me from taking the time off when my group was assigned to set camp. I am technically still on a list so that I can be put back into rotation for available slots. Sadly, I suspect it is only a pipe dream anymore.


Friday, July 21, 2006

An All-Nighter

An old trick I happened to stumble across while in graduate school when I would get jet lag from having to travel to research meetings or when I would get in an agitated mood was to stay awake all night, doing quiet, mundane things and then working a normal day the next day.

These all night sessions would very often reset my mood and help me get out of the lag or out of the doldrums. I have read theories about it possibly resetting some sort of circanular or more likely circadian rhythm in the brain, but it is as yet unproven. All I have is my own anecdotal evidence.

I shall try this out tonight for the malaise that has befallen me.


Thursday, July 20, 2006


Well, I have been trying to live a new "philosophy" today... that of simple acceptance. Acceptance for my role in life... which is primarily that of a caretaker for most everyone I know and love. I am mentally and emotionally letting slide the other aspects of my life because they are too difficult... by either being too time-consuming, or they need too much structure and predictability to have any hope of attaining them.

I shall no long plan and strive and work to try to uncover a bit of truly valuable new knowledge in my research. Instead, I will play at it, letting my research students simply "mess around" with their own efforts.

I shall no longer pursue the book I was hoping to publish, actually a textbook. Instead, I will just accept the books already available.

I shall no longer dream of writing a detective novel.

I shall no longer work to continually improve my ability to teach. Instead, I will simply just keep the same old notes, and give the same sorts of lectures and assignments.

I shall no longer participate in the community orchestra so as to not disrupt family care time.

I think that the above will make it easier for me, for my family, and for life in general. It saddens me, but that too shall dissipate as I get more used to it. And, it will make things easier... to not strive for difficult things will make life less challenging.

It is interesting that I just realized I had used "Drifting" as the title of this essay. In one sense it is a very good title, for it is my opinion that describes it fully..... sort of akin to "coasting". But on the other side of the coin, it reminds me of drinking. A few of my colleagues and friends at the U half jokingly / half seriously suggested I might want a few extra bottles of liquor to help in coping. But the (perhaps) odd thing for me is that during times of stress, or times of anger, or times of sorrow, or times of any harsh emotion... I do not feel like drinking in the slightest.

The intoxicating effects of liquor are something I relish and enjoy participating in, but for me, the only time I drink is when I am feeling happy and content. I believe for me, the reason for drinking only when happy is that for me I view alcohol as simply a substance that has as its effect the ability to intensify the feelings you are experiencing. That is why on those occasions when I am feeling confident and content, then I enjoy drinking and even sometimes do so with gusto... I end up exacerbating those great feelings. Unfortunately the same thing happens with the negative emotions as well. And why the hell would I wish to intensify frustration, anger, fear, etc.? I do not, and therefore, I end up not having any desire for alcoholic beverages at those times.

To me, when I drink, I drink to amplify the positive emotions I am feeling. When I feel happy I drink, and the alcohol adds to the joviality. When I am fearful, (or hurt or etc.), I do not desire amplifying those horrid emotions and therefore do not drink. So, if you had thought my title meant a fun frolic, alas I was using an alternative definition.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Too Many Expectations

After having been pent up with frustration, having feelings of rage and stress continue to build in my being, and with feeling put upon in an extreme manner, I finally broke down and cried and sobbed and released anger and rage in a discussion with my wife. The straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak, was utterly inconsequential. My wife commented on how the wireless aspect of her wireless notebook did not function. After a morning of waiting around, guiding my elderly mother through the paces of the morning, my mind was already awash with emotions and the feeling of my needing to perform ANOTHER task, one beyond the seemingly hundreds I performed INSTEAD of going to work threw me over the edge.

I knew I could not talk about it at home as my voice carries far and wide, so I told my wife we were taking a drive and went and parked at a defunct K-Mart parking lot. I began my raging and my ranting and spent the next half hour complaining about everything that has been happening, nearly ranting and pitching a fit. After expending an enourmous amount of energy proclaiming this anger and rage, I eventually broke down into a deep, resonating series of sobs, cries, and wails that lasted another good half and hour until my mind and body were both totally spent. These were not typical sobs, but instead were whole body sobs that kept me from hearing or understanding much around me.

My wife patiently listened and tried to console me as much as she was able, even though there was not really any possibility of my feeling better.

After I was utterly spent emotionally and physically, we drove home, and I ended up going to work for a couple of hours. The washing and airing of my emotions helped to clear my head, yet made me feel horribly guilty. Guilty for laying it all on my wife, guilty at having negative thoughts about my elderly mother, being guilty about my anger.

Yet, I am once again now going to try to struggle back into normalcy. I think I have been placing too great of expectations upon myself... to strive for brilliant research, to strive for award winning teaching, to be a "super" advisor, to "Live Life Large" as I had said earlier. Perhaps given my current life circumstances, I should aim lower. Maybe I should anticipate only struggling to get by with rare occasional chances to grow and develop more.

Perhaps that is the answer?


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Lacrimal Gland Fluids in My Fermented Barley

Things are progressing as well as can be expected for my mother. She is saying she feels good, and her eating is decent, her drinking is also decent.

Unfortunately the swelling in her feet has not been alleviated, as the heart specialist (actually the heart specialist's nurse did not clarify exactly what medication my mother was taking to the doctor, so his messages was *ss backwards because the medication (Altace) he said to remove from my mother's regime was one that was already removed when she left the hospital 10 days ago.

I am of the belief that what my mother's heart specialist *should* do is to either a) reduce her dosage of Verapamil by half (go from 80mg/day to 40mg/day) in order to elevate her blood pressure (this morning it was 90/65... a number low enough to cause swelling in many older people, and very different from the typical 120-130/65-75 she typically had on her previous medications, or b) remove all the Verapamil and put my mother back on Altace. In both circumstances, I think my mother should have her Furosemide (Lasix) levels increased temporarily.

Current medications for the heart include: Coreg (two tabs each day), Verapamil (two tabs each day), Digitek (one tablet every other day), Isosorbide (one tablet every day), and Klor-Con (one tablet every day). These are the medications SPECIFICALLY for heart function, which is also combined with blood thinners etc.

Her previous medications differed only slightly: Coreg (two tabs each day), Altace (one capsule each day), Digitek (one tablet every other day), Isosorbide (one tablet every day) Klor-Con (one tablet every day), and Slow-Mag (one tablet every day).

So, the difference is.... Altace and Slo-Mag were removed.... and Verapamil was inserted.

I feel so captive and imprisoned by this waiting and waiting and waiting. With my background and experience, I know what the physician will do in roughly 95% of the instances, yet knowing is not the same thing as being able to enact those changes. As I am not a practioner of medicine (I am a doctor (Ph.D.), but doctoral degree is one that that is typically not considered a real doctor by a large percentage of society), so I cannot really make those decisions for my mother's medication. But it so damn utterly frustrating to wait, and wait, and wait, and wait, for a return call from the person who can. They are often quite UNtimely in their efforts.

Enough griping again. I am getting sick of being a broken record. I should simply shut up about this like I have for so many years. Instead, I will offer up a story I found interesting, sad, and a bit surprising. Not that this occurs in the animal world... it does all the time... you can see birds loopy on fermented apples every fall. I was surprised by the odd tone... a bit sad (and appropriate) because of the loss of life, but also a bit jovial (and less appropriate) because it was about drunken pachyderms:

Wild Elephants Rampage Villages for Rice Beer

Guwahati, June 30, 2006 (IANS) Herds of wild elephants are running amok in Assam, damaging vast swathes of crops and also mud and thatch huts as they move out of their jungles to look for rice beer in human settlement areas in northeastern India.

The raids by the pachyderms have resulted in at least five people losing their lives during the past two months. Wildlife officials are in a quandary as the huge animals feast on the farmlands - mainly rice fields and sugarcane cultivations.

The latest raid by herds of wild pachyderms took place in the eastern district of Golaghat.

"The villagers saw the elephant herd and fled their homes fearing for their lives. The same herd is terrorising people in nearby villages as well, damaging their crops and properties," said Haridhan Tanti, a community elder of Soutali village in Golaghat.

Angry over the elephant attacks, villagers Thursday locked the local forest office alleging the officials were indifferent in chasing away the herd.

"This is a real problem. We are doing our best to ward off such marauding herds, but then it is not possible to deploy forest officials in each and every village to keep track of the elephants," a senior wildlife warden said.

During the past two months, the wild elephants herds have been wreaking havoc in several parts of Assam with the pachyderms fancying harvested rice stalks and the 'moonshine' country liquor that many of the villagers brew from fermented rice.

"We have noticed that elephants really relish guzzling rice beer which many tribal people and tea garden workers ferment at home," Kushal Konwar Sharma, a noted elephant expert and a teacher at the College of Veterinary Science in Guwahati, told IANS.

Experts say wild elephants have been moving out of the jungles with people encroaching upon the animal corridors. This in turn is leading to an increasing number of elephant attacks on villages.

"A shrinking forest cover and encroachment of elephant corridors have forced the pachyderms to stray out of their habitats to human settlement areas," Sharma said.

In the past, villagers drove away marauding herds by beating drums or bursting firecrackers. Now with man-elephant conflict on the rise, they poison the animals.

In the last five years, elephants have killed at least 150 people in Assam.

Angry villagers, in turn, have killed up to 200 of the animals during the same period, some of which were brought down with poisoned-tipped arrows. The last elephant census in 1999 recorded 5,400 elephants in Assam, more than half of India's count of 10,000.

The story above is from the Teluga Portal.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Bad Son

I am not sure how long this post will be because I am angry, furious, sad, frustrated, and ashamed all in one.

1. I am angry because my mother only told me moments (roughly midnight) ago that she had been experiencing swelling in her feet... after having had it since she got up Sunday morning. I am angry that she did not tell me earlier when I could have done something about it.

2. I am furious at constantly having to second guess what it is that she is thinking or planning or doing. As you know, my mother has been eating poorly and drinking poorly or not at all since a long while prior to her previous hospitalization. My wife came out to the garage to talk to me a moment at around 10 am Sunday to say the house smelled like someone (my mother) might have vomited. I went inside, and asked her, and did not actually smell the odor my wife thought she did. My mother denied throwing up so I let it drop. I really do not know if I should believe her or not. My wife sometimes thinks she smells things that ARE NOT there, so I don't know how to judge. Why cannot my mother simply tell me what is happening? Do I have to make a check list for every damn thing that I could possibly think of and have her answer it each and every morning (Question 1... Did you take your blood glucose?.... Question 2... Was the blood glucose below 100?... Question #368... Did you take your dose of morning medicines?... Question 1098... Did you throw up in the last 24 hours?... Question 1433... Are your feet swollen?.... Question 1467... Is there anything... anything under the entire universe that relates to your health that you have not told me about?)

3. I am sad because I work very hard to try to keep my elderly mother safe and healthy. I also work like hell to keep my wife happy during this time of frustration. I am tired and sad and feeling over burdened, and under appreciated. In my dreams I am often now experienincing images of running away, and I think it may very litterally be what my body is craving.

4. I am frustrated because I do not know what the hell else I can do? Is this all that life has to offer me?

5. I feel ashamed because I should be able to do this with more grace. I should be able to do this without feeling angry upset, etc. I should be able to suck up all the things I had dreamed about and hoped for in life and put them in a box in the attic to withdraw at some future time if I live long enough to see a time where I can live again. I know I damn well should not feel this way... but I do. THere I said it. I do.

That has been my life today. It has also been hotter than hell. I can only imagine what our A/C bill will be for this.


Sunday, July 16, 2006


Nothing much to report. Same old, same old. There is some improvement with my mother, but there are still issues that are slow to resolve.

* * * * *

Although I am a professor by trade.... something I had always enjoyed and actually wanted to become even as a youngster. Yet, there were other things I considered becoming.... a novelist, a high school teacher, a medical doctor, or a tobacconist. Each of the above was considered and eventually discarded..... the novelist was too chaotic of an income, the high school teacher would have to deal with too high a percentage of hellions, the medical doctor's life would not be good for my personality (I would take the hardships home with me), and the tobacconist job might make a beautiful hobby become too much like work.

One job though, that always has been a "pipe dream" sort of career is that of a private eye... a detective... a gumshoe. I have decided to curl up with a new detective novel and imagine myself as the 'ole gumshoe.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Anger Management

I am now in the phase that I call "anger management". I am feeling annoyed, angry, frustrated, and generally p*ss*d off about pretty much everything that deals with life. It typically happens after I try to pull myself up by the bootstraps and make life go back to normal. The feeling happens typically because that is a helluva lot harder and more difficult than you might understand or realize.

The crux of the issue at the moment is that my elderly mother is having a difficult time getting to the point of being able to take and do her normal daily routines by herself. I have drawn lists, checked and rechecked her medications, guided her to eat and take her breathing treatments. It is frustrating and exhausting. I have been up since 7am working on this... coaxing her to do it herself, making checklists for her to follow, waiting while she figures out the lists, waiting while she decides what the lists mean, waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting, and guess what more waiting. It has me on edge like you would not believe. It is now 10:45 and I have accomplished the following:

1. Got mom out of bed.
2. Got mom to take her glucose reading.
3. Got mom to decide what to do next from her glucose reading (eat a snack).
4. Got mom to eat a snack.
5. Got mom to do her breathing treatment.
6. Got mom to recheck her blood glucose.
7. Got mom to take her morning medicines.
8. Got mom to eat breakfast.

These activities should take at most 45 minutes!!!!!!!! Not nearly 4 hours!. I sometimes do not know what to do anymore. Hopefully the next phase will start soon... where she tends to follow the proceedures, I fall into a very brief, false sense of normalcy and then a few days later, the whole damn cycle starts again... either with my mother or with my wife getting pneumonia, etc.

So.... hurry up...... I need those very brief days (two or three) where I am falsely able to assume that there will be a period of normalcy. I desperately need them now.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Trudging Along

I am going to try to grit my teeth and get through the last b*llsh*t I have to get through today (Friday) and then I am going to try to have a relaxing weekend with some time to prepare for doing WHAT I WANT TO DO come Monday. Everything feels rather too aggrivating to me at the moment... so there is not a helluva lot for me to say. But I am still trying to keep my vow to pull myself out of these doldrums.

My elderly mother is improving fairly well now. That is good and wonderful news.

My mind and body feel like they have been through the wringer, and my body feels fat, flabby, and uncoordinated. That WILL change.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Getting My Damn *ss in Gear

Enough moping and feeling overburdened. Life can be awfully damn hard at times, but what the hell else is there? I am going to throw myself back into enormous amounts of work and pleasure, striving to regain what I lost when my mental computer was set to "restart".

Yes, I know I will probably work like a fiend for a few days then revert back to normal patterns. This is actually part of the predictable pattern of recovery from a severe mental/emotional trauma in the same way as my post from yesterday was... but at least this part feels a helluva lot better.

I am going to work damn hard at work... I am going to work damn hard to do something creative to enrich me... I am going to work damn hard to accomplish something really physical... and I am going to work damn hard to enrich my evening with my family.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Mental Aftermath

Today seems to be the start of what I term "the rebound". It is the feeling of mental and physical malaise I seem to feel following a severe emotional and mental stress. As has been far too frequent for me during the last several years, I have these life altering events occur every month or two. The vast majority of these situations have been dealing with illnesses of elderly relatives (especially my mother), but there was the bout of pneumonia my wife had this past winter and other things as well.

"The rebound" is the emotional state of being where things seem to be returning to "normalcy" in terms of day-to-day routines, but are accompanied by an awareness of all things that have been allowed to "slide" during the past crisis.... cleaning, yard work, work at the University, research. While technically I have been "keeping up" with the immediately essential aspects of all of the above, I have once again lost all sense of continuity and growth and development. It is discouraging and depressing. I feel exceptionally blue and hopeless that I will ever be able to be able to have any sense of continuity or development in my work or day-to-day life.

Dealing with these crises again and again and again... the best I can equate it to is that it is akin to me being a running, functioning computer in which the reset button is pushed every so often. The work, the efforts, the time that had been devoted on the machine previously is lost by hitting the reset "on/off" button. Even if the programs you were using have a contingency for saving a "backup", the files are usually partial files at best when the computer is restarted.

I am tired and angry. I also feel guilty for feeling this way because my mother is improving... so the effort of the last two weeks ended up being successful. But I feel I have again lost a part of me, a part of my life, a part of my well-being and soul. Oh well, it is not the first time. I will simply again start over (for the hundreth time) and pretend to be happy as I start building and growing and developing again... and will probably eventually feel happy again... for a month or so until the next damn crisis and then my mind can be reset again and I can lose all the effort again.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Evolution & Religion

My mother does seem to be improving. And, very happily she seems to remember and has been heeding the doctor's orders to eat more and drink more. I am keeping my fingers crossed that she will continue to improve and do well. Thoughts and/or prayers are all very greatly and kindly appreciated.

I am a man of science... my field of specialization for which I earned my doctoral degree is neurobiology/endocrinology. I have conducted significant research in this field and also teach in this field. I am a professor in a biology department at a medium sized university in a small town. I know, understand, teach and logically understand the tenets and ideas behind Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

I am also a man of faith... my religion of choice is Roman Catholicism. I ascribe to this faith because it gives me a philosophical framework that I believe is in keeping with what I believe is my purpose (if I have one) is here on this planet.... to be of service to others, to try to add joy and value to the Earth during my time here. I have faith, and can discuss the tenets and ideas behind my religion of choice and can explain why it is a very good fit for me.

In my personal beliefs, I feel that evolution is the mechanism that God utilized in His creation of our world and our universe. I have so many friends who are so incredibly polarized by these issues... the ideas of God and the ideas of Evolution. To me it is utter nonsense.... I see no disagreement between scientific ideas on evolution and on our origins as suggested by my faith. Here is why I see no problem:

Science and religion SPEAK TWO DIFFERENT LANGUAGES. Until people are willing to accept this very simple statement, they will not be able to see the inherent grace and beauty in both perspectives. Think about it in this way.... say you have read "The Diary of Anne Frank" the amazing account of a young girl's life as a hidden person of Jewish faith during the evil Nazi empire. I would suggest that probably 99+% of you have read this book in English. Yet, the original diary enteries by Ms. Frank were written in Dutch. The English translation say the same ideas as the Dutch version and vice versa.... BUT NEITHER VERSION IS THE SAME! See how simple that is?

Science should be taught in science classes. Religion should be taught in religious classes. It is in the individual's mind where the tennets of each should form an individual chimeric beast we can label an individual philosophy on life.

It is so damn tiring to hear people be so hell-and-brimstone about one side or the other. Give it a rest people, relax.


Monday, July 10, 2006

National Health Care

Thus far there has been relative quiet here at the household with regard to my elderly mother's health. She is seeming willing to eat and drink relatively adequate amounts and seems to have her regular personality back at this time. Hopefully, if things go well (sometimes this is a faint hope, but we will see) she will continue to gain strength and have a return to her full self.

Firefly commented to me in yesterday's post about disagreeing about national health care because it has problems in other countries. While I can understand his/her sentiments, I still disagree. I think the system we have now is wholly unfair. National Health Care as it stands in other nations may not be appropriate, but I have the following method that I think may be able to combine the "best" of both worlds and at the same time offer a real solution to combat several of both systems very big negatives:

I think that each and every employer should be required to contribute a "per hour" rate of money for each and every employee they utilize. The contribution from business and industry should be equal regardless of if they hire part time or full time employees. This would eliminate some of the b*llsh*t that places like WalMart do in giving people 39 hours of work a week to keep them from having "benefits". This should also apply to retirement as well. The amount of health care contribution should be based upon the overall NATIONAL health care costs for all our citizens and should be recalcuated and readjusted for each fiscal year. This cost would determine the per hour contribution each employer would need to make based upon the hours of work they have for their employees. While there would initially be some employers that would try to further shrink their workforce, I believe few would be able to do so in the long term and might be more willing to give people more full time positions so as to have better family incomes.

I think the above would be helpful in eliminating what is a grave injustice in our nation... that a person's health care is determined by whom he/she works for and can vary so damn wildly. I think everyone should have the same access to health care.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Day of Waiting For the Next... Shoe....

Yesterday was rather uneventful. My mother still is experiencing signficiant bouts of confusion and is extremely weak. She also is not eating as well as she needs to nor is she drinking enough. However, she is better than she was only a couple days ago.

Now I suspect the "profit margin" will start to come into play. She will be soon reaching the insurance company's designated payment maximum for a hospital stay. I suspect that she will then unceremoniously be released as "all better". I shall wait to see.

We need national health care so all of us have health care, and it is all fairly distributed.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

A Day of Quiet

My elderly mother *seems* to be staying lucid in her thoughts now that the Indometacin has been halted (see yesterday's post for more details if interested). I am still not sure if her improvement will be long-term or if it is temporary. As with most things in life, I will hope and pray for the best outcome (she recovers and is fine) and instead prepare for and expect the worst (her death).

The hosptial situation these past 24 hours have been quite uneventful. My mother rested. She ate adequate amounts of food. She drank some fluids. She walked to the bathroom unaided. The sheer NORMALCY of this past day itself is AMAZING to me. I feel somewhat like a fool when I say the normalcy caught me off guard and I have been feeling rather disjointed in my thoughts and plans ever since.

I simply hope the favorable outlook continues.


Friday, July 07, 2006

Really "Wonderful" Roxann

Some very interesting things have occurred today in my mother's care. The highlights have been both very horrible and also with a glimmer of hope. To set the stage, though, you must learn about a very evil, rude, obnoxious woman named Roxann.

Roxann was my mother's "nurse" today. More accurately she was a petulant, surly, obnoxious little cur, with whom I am extraordinarily, vehemently angry with.

I arrive at the hospital to see how my mother is doing. I had called earlier in the morning (around 7am) to make sure breakfast was ordered for her (the hospital she is at has adopted the same sort of "room service" food plan that most hospitals in my region have adopted... the patient must order his/her food when he/she wants it. I arrived shortly after 11am to help her in ordering lunch. I actually dreaded going in to the hospital today... I feared there was no hope.

Surprisingly, my mother was talking and acting reasonably close to her old self. I was quite shocked and rather amazed. She was still very weak and tired to be sure, but SHE was THERE and acting like her old self. Then she nearly knocked me on the floor by saying...

"Help me order lunch, I'm hungry!"

I ordered for her and she ate! For lunch she ate a bowl of strawberries, a kaiser roll apiece of angelfood cake, and some decaffeinated coffee (please bear in mind this is remarkably good for her). Within minutes of finishing her lunch, in strolled Roxann with a small paper cup and water.

"Here, take this, we forgot your dose this morning after breakfast." she said in a brusque, abrasive manner.

My mother reached for the cup, I glanced inside and saw a rather small, aqua-green capsule.

"My mother does not take Indomethacin any longer." I stated in even tones, although I was flabbergasted at what was in the cup.

"It is on her medications chart." she said, pushing the cup at my mother.

"Well, it is not supposed to be, she has been taken off the medication since Friday... nearly a week ago." I said with more firmness.

"I don't know about that. It is there now." she said, again pushing the cup at my mother.

Indomethacin is a common medication give to people who have gout. Gout, a painful inflammation of a joint or joints often in the feet and toes, is a result of build-up of uric acid crystals in the affected region. My mother had started to take the medication a week prior to being hospitalized. In rare cases, Indomethacin can cause debilitating nausea, ulcers, and drowsiness. After only three days on this medication at home, it was easy to see that my mother was one of those rare cases. I had called our family physician and he said to stop the Indomethacin as well as the Allopurinol (another gout medication) immediately. This was the Friday prior to my taking her to the hospital.

When my mother goes to the hospital, I have written out all of her major medical history (see the simplified version in yesterday's post), plus a listing of all her long-term medication and another page of her temporary medications. Examples include her hypertensive medication (she takes this every day and is therefore on the long-term list) and an antibiotic (taken for a period of 7 days). On the list of the temporary medications I had indomethacin listed and below it in BOLD PRINT in a font size double that of the previous writing I had typed "THIS MEDICATION IS NOT CURRENTLY BEING TAKEN, IT WAS WITHDRAWN BY HER DOCTOR ON JUNE 30TH". I did the same for the Allopurinol.

So, back to the story at hand.

"Do not make my mother take that medication. You need to go double check her medical record. She should NOT take that medicine. Call her doctor if you do not believe me." I stated, with a very firm tone.

Ms. Roxann then gave me a rather impolite look and walked out of the room.

Roughly two hours passed when my sister Dora (who is an RN) arrived. I relayed the information of the past few hours to her, and she was of course, equally flabbergasted and wanted to speak to the nurse and see my mother's exact medications profile.

We approached the nurses station where Ms. Roxann was chatting it up with another nurse, laughing and joking about some incident involving a microwave. Both my sister and I stood there waiting to capture someone's attention. Another nurse at the station approached us and asked:

"How may I help you."

"Our mother is in room 702 and her nurse is Roxann. We would like to speak with her, please." stated my sister.

At the mention of her name, Roxann turned and her face soured. She came over to us and brusquely said:


We went through our questions stating that we would like to check her medications profile because we know there is an inaccuracy at least in Indometacin.

She acted quite huffy, but pulled out my mother's profile. In the profile was the VERY SHEET I had typed that stated IN BOLD PRINT that she was not taking Indomethacin any longer.

I pointed out to her the very words I had typed. She became very defensive. She became very angry and told us that she would not speak to us now as she was very busy. She would perhaps have time later and that if we wanted to, we could wait in my mother's room.

By this time, her behavior was rude enough I was ready to blow a gasket, but both Dor a and I complied with her demand.

An hour went by before she came down to the room (I suspect she thought we might have left) and the first words our of her mouth were:

"I will not tolerate that type of behavior."

My blood boiled, I was about to tell her off, when she continued,

"My work is concerned with [spoken in dramatic sarcasm] her care and well being, not yours."

I glowered at her and replied in very low, even tones, "The same is true for us. My mother is my concern, not you."

She then showed us that yes, indeed, she had now made a change on her chart to halt any more Indomethacin. She then left in a huff.

So... in a nutshell, we found a very major problem. My mother had been put back on the very medication that was likely responsible for her disorientation, severe nausea and unwillingness to eat or drink. She started to receive this medication again on SUNDAY, the day we brought her in.... so she stayed in that horrible altered state and refused to eat or drink. She was on this medication for four days that were unnecessary and VERY HARMFUL.

I am hoping and praying that her improvement is long-term and real and not just a temporary improvement. If she stays in the mental and physical condition she was in today, then I think she CAN recover to her old self. Medicine and health is such a fragile thing and often ambiguous that I do not want to count on her being able to become well until after it happens, but I am feeling a bit of hope... which is something I never expected feel about the situation.

Please do not get me wrong. Mistakes (horrible as they can be) do happen in the hospital setting. I do not fault Ms. Roxann for that. Heck, it *probably* is not even Ms. Roxann's fault that Indomethacin was on my mother's medications profile. I do not fault her for that at all either.

What I do fault this rude, nasty, foul woman for her BEHAVIOR. As a professor who trains many future nurses in how to think (and indirectly on how to behave in a professional manner), her actions were nothing short of asinine and horrid. Ms. Roxann displayed behaviors that were the very antithesis of the role of the RN. She was not interested in caring for her patient, she was not the least bit concerned with the global perspective of her patient nor her patient's family, and she was flat out rude and crude. She is a disgrace to the nursing profession.... and she would not listen to a damn thing my mother, nor anyone who was a representative for my mother would say. That is why she is horrid.

I have debated on and off all evening on whether or not I should write her a letter (and cc copies to her nurse manager and the upper administration of the hospital to be included in her permanent record) telling them basically what I have stated above... but in much more eloquent, well thought out wording. I have decided NOT to write this letter, perhaps because it will be easier for me, perhaps because I do not feel like taking the time to do so, and also perhaps because after 7pm tonight (shift change) she was out from taking care of my mother. I asked, and found that she was not working for the next 8 days.

I just hope and pray that my mother may actually recover... something I had not thought possible only a day or two ago.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

The List

I am growing more grim about recovery for my mother. Physically, she has been rehydrated and her kidney function is returning to normal. All the medication issues are being addressed and physically she is stable. Yet, the crux of the matter hinges on her willingness to eat food and drink liquids. She has always been a finiky eater, but in the last year it has grown steadily worse, and in the last two weeks it has become almost starvation. On the last two or three days prior to my taking her to the hospital, she refused to consume more than 2-3 mouthfuls of food (perhaps 200 calories a day if lucky), and at most 1.5 cups of water a day. Neither quanitiy is appropriate to sustain life. She has been losing weight because she has become so adamant about not eating. A year ago, she weighed roughly 125 pounds and was thin but healthy. Last week she weighed 105 and today she weighed 101. She is killing herself by not drinking fluids nor eating food.

The lack of eating and drinking actually is the root cause of why she became hospitalized. The abnormalities in her kidney function and in her medication levels is a direct result of her refusal to eat or drink. Refusal is the wrong word.... "unwillingness to eat or drink by saying she has been eating and drinking plenty" is more accurate. For the last 7-10 weeks I have been literally begging her to eat and drink. I have been bringing her Dove Bars because 60% of the time she WILL eat them and get some calories (until last week when she started to refuse those as well). I know of no way to get her to change her mind and restart eating and drinking. If she does not start to eat and drink again, I know she will die soon. And it does not need to happen. If she would simply eat and drink she would again become stable and healthy enough to live her day-to-day lifestyle.

I am not really sure how to explain my mother's thoughts. She has and does have all the following symptoms within the last week:

1. Utter inablity to focus.
2. Extreme anger towards me and one other sibling.
3. Inability to understand (or lying?) time, day of week, etc.
4. Confusion about most subjects
5. Innaccurate belief that she has eaten and is eating sufficient food and drink.

I am at a loss on how to combat those inaccurate ideas about eating. I fear that her previous mental function may NOT return even as her kidney function is currently rebounding.

As a friend has written and asked me about the length of time I have been "caretaker" for my elderly mother, below I have cut and pasted from a document I have an abbreviated list of her history during the time I have been the designated "caretaker". I have this list (as well as a complete medication list) that I keep updated and in the glove box of each vehicle in the household. In this way, when she has an emergency need to go to the hospital, I have these lists (because they ALWAYS ask for the specific history EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE IT ON THE COMPUTER AS WELL. The list is abbreviated a bit to keep out some of the precise and lengthy specific items, but is complete. Please recognize that even though a topic may only be a single line, it can involve weeks of concern before, weeks of stress during, and weeks of recovery following:

November 27, 1990
D&C (cervical cancer detected)

December 1990, January & February 1991
Radiation Treatments for cervical cancer

Feb. 18-22 1991
Radioactive Implant as final step in treatement for cervical cancer

1991 - ~2001
pap smears for followup

1991 - present

April 1996
first bout of pneumonia

June 1996
blocked colon (emergency surgery) detected colon cancer

July 1996
reversal of colostomy and stoma after healing

September 1996 through February 1997
chemotherapy for colon cancer... five treatments in one week once every month for six months

1997 - present
various checks for colon cancer (colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, etc) every six months to one year

January 1998
bladder cancer detected

February 1998 - March 1998
Bladder Cancer Surgery... excised a section of the bladder and created a ~15-20% smaller bladder

June 1998 - present
cystoscopy every six months for check on bladder

January 2000
detection of partial blockages in heart

February 5, 2000
angioplasty with stints (two)

February 7, 2000
"heart attack" where the ventricles went into fibrilation

Spring 2000
Pacemaker/Defibrilator installed to protect against possible future rhythm problems with the ventricles

Continual....continued checkups for bladder, colon, cervix and now heart

colon problems due to adhesions... surgery to fix and also removal of severely scarred cervical region (full hysterectomy including ovaries removed)

~mid 2004
battery replaced in pacemaker/defibrilator

cataract surgery

2001 - present
several bouts with pneumonia

2004 - present
lung issues... lower lung volumes

2006 Gout

currently in the hospital due to very high levels of potassium and Digitek medications due to severe dehydration from refusal to eat or drink

The list above is simply the essential details. The time, the effort, the worry, the sorrow inherent in each of the above is difficult to place a value upon.

My elderly mother gave up driving in 1988. I have been the primary (probably 97%) person responsible for taking her to hospitals, to appointments, and to vaccination clinics during this time.

I fear now that there will be no change in her condition except to worsen. I despise that the "reality" she believes... and hence her true reality... is one filled with hate for me. Her hate feels as if it negates that which was so very good. I do know it should not be thought of in that manner... but it is her current reality and hence it is also my current reality. I am having a very difficult time deailing with all of this. It makes me wish to cry nearly all the time. I miss her already, and yet she is alive.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Go to Hell

Tuesday has been the worst day of the lot, thus far, and I fear this may be the new "normal".

My elderly mother is still very delusional and believes I specifically in conjunction with my sister Dora, have conspired to shutter her into a nursing home. Nothing could be further from the truth.

She has lived with me for a long time now. When my beloved father died, my aunt (my mother's sister) moved in with her and they lived happily for several years. However, when my aunt became ill and passed away, my mother then came to live with me, my wife, and my kids. I have always felt it was the right thing to do, and also very special for us (and specifically my kids) to have their grandmother with them day-to-day. I made her part in our home as good and comfortable and freeing as I could muster. I strove to give her options of feeling independent or fully intertwined with the rest of the family as she would see fit, day-to-day. She has her own bathroom, her own bedroom, and a smaller "sitting room" with her desk and television and other items she wishes to cherish more privately. She has found those rooms comfortable and useful, and yet we have actively encouraged her to also just be within the hub-bub of the daily life of the rest of the family as much as she is comfortable as well. For the most part, she will eat meals with us (and will occasionally cook a meal), she has usually watched television, watched movies, played cards or played other games with us in the family room most evenings, and has seemed very happy.

Today at the hospital, her kidney function test (BUN) was still very high (83) but is lower than it was a few days ago. That explains from a biological perspective her disoriented behavior, but does not decrease the hurt and sting from her words. She has told me numerous times today to "Go to hell!" and to "Quit lying (about her being in a hospital and NOT a nursing home)!" and that I am being "Cruel and mean and hateful!" Both Dora and I were in tears again several times during the day as she let forth with her dialogue of hate towards both of us. It hurts beyond measure, even if I can intellectually understand that she is not in her "right mind" at the moment. It takes all the energy I can pull from within myself to have the following sort of dialogue with her:

"You vile and cruel man, I cannot believe you are my son." says she.

"Yes, mother, I am your son, and I love you and want you to become well."

"There is nothing wrong with me, you are just making this sh*t up to lock me in a nursing home and to take my money." says she.

"No mother, that is what you feel right now, but those ideas are not true. You are mistaken, and if you wait a few days until you can heal, you will be able to see that I am the same person I have always been."

"You are lying, you have hurt me, and you keep having them hurt me and say I am crazy so you can lock me up." says she.

I reply with as much calmness as I can, "No mother, unfortunately, that is what you believe at the moment, but if you can just wait a few days you will feel better and can gain your strength back and come home!"

"I am never coming home! You are seeing to that! You hateful man! You and your sister are both evil and nasty! I do not want to be in a nursing home. I want to die first. Leave me alone!"

"Mother, you are in the hospital, the same hospital you were in before for..."

"Don't lie to me! This is not a hospital, it is a nursing home!" she screams at me.

"No, you are incorrect. This is the hospital. You will be able to get well in a few days and will go back home."

"Liar! You sold all my things! You are so evil, so vicious and so cruel! Get out! Leave me alone! You wait and see! I hope both of you get to experience the same sort of hell I am. I will laugh in your face!"

"Mother, please, please try to hear me, and try hard to have my message stay with you. You are currently very ill and must stay in the hospital for a few days, but then you will be ok and will come back home with me. You do not believe it now, but please keep the idea in your mind, for you will see it will be the truth!"

"Get out!" she screams.

This is all in the span of ten to fifteen minutes and she is hysterical and will not listen. Then she quiets down some and then within a half an hour wakes up and starts the same thing over and over and over again. And please keep in mind her dialogue has been edited here for much of its sting and vulgarity.

There is no point in arguing with her, yet you must stay to help her, and you must try to present the truth to her. In the modern world, patients need advocates to make sure a sick person does not get lost in the modern medical system. We must stay in the room as much as humanly possible to be able to talk with the health care providers to know what is happening, but also to make sure their treatment of the patient is kind and fair. It is like being a soft loaf of bread that has been ran over by an 18 wheeled semi truck.

It is so very, very sad. I am at my wits end. I am fearful she will bring this hate and vehemence back to home with her and I cannot figure out how to bring her back to her normal thought patterns.

Life is so very, very sad at times.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Twilight Zone

Another day, another heartache.

It is too early to tell for certain, but there seems to be some *medical* improvement for my elderly mother. She actually ate close to a normal amount of food today and consumed almost half a normal amount of liquids. This added to the IV drip of saline and antibiotics will allow her to rehydrate well. Blood was sampled to check for improvement in her medication levels and in her kidney function. The results are not yet back.

However, even with these physical improvements, there is still sadness. She would not speak to me today, nor to my sister (the one who she berated so harshly yesterday (Dora), not the one who spent the night (Kate)). However, she was very talkative to the family of the room mate in her hospital room, and she was rather chatty to my sister who stayed overnight and to my baby brother who was only able to arrive today due to his summer teaching load. Other siblings have yet to visit, but have phoned. My sister Dora and I were the outcasts in her mind. It was easy to see the vehemence was still there behind her eyes.

Even though I am a neurobiologist/endocrinologist, I cannot fathom nor explain what sorts of maladaptive circuits fired (misfired?) yesterday to create the illusions that Dora and I were evil, cruel beasts, hell-bent on shuttering her into a beastly nursing home against her will. I cannot tell as yet if those will become forgotten thoughts or are permanently seared into the circuitry of her mind. If it is the latter, then I fear the outcome when she returns home with me after her stay in the hospital. If she continues to hold such rancor towards me or toward other members of my family in the household, it will be very, very sad, harsh, and devastating. I fear I may be entering into a new frame of interaction that may make all other hardships seem like happy times.

If you are a religious sort, please pray for me and my family, and especially my mother. If you are not a religious person, please hope for a positive resolution as well.

The day has been utterly exhausting. I have told my wife that my mind, my psyche and my soul are so spent that I need to take some time to myself. I know I will be unable to sleep for several hours yet because if I were to lay on the bed I would simply toss and turn and would only keep my beloved wife from resting. Therefore I have informed her of my plan, which I am going to pursue after writing it here as well:

I have retrieved a six pack (is it appropriate to call it a six pack when it is actually six glass bottles?) of beautiful LaBatts Blue beer that I have had sitting in the basement refrigerator for several weeks waiting to drink with my baby brother as we are nearing a milestone in the work we are doing on the car we have been working on sporadically. However, the beautiful dark ale will be more helpful for me tonight. My plan is to sit in my den, in the overstuffed Lazy-Boy that is in the far corner away from my numerous bookshelves and my writing desk, by the small television I have in that room. I have a large floor-sized pipe rack/ashtray (similar to this, but with a wooden, circular pipe rack under the ashtray bowl) beside the chair as well as the television. I shall sit back in my chair, pipe(s) and bottle(s) in hand and watch as many episodes of the "Twilight Zone" marathon being shown on the SciFi Channel as I can.

For those of you too young to know or remember, "The Twilight Zone" was a remarkable and brilliant television series that ran from 1959 until 1965 (or was it 1966?). I remember in my youth watching each episode for the first time and being in awe of their artistic, creative, and wholly thought-provoking story lines. It is my hope that the gentle massage of the alcohol, of the nicotine from my pipes and the sounds and images of those wonderful episodes will allow me to mentally transform back to some of the joy of my youth, and will allow me to forget at least for a little while, the pain and worry and grief I have been experiencing.

For those of you who may wish to sample "The Twilight Zone", the marathon apparently continues all day of July 4th, so if you have the SciFi Channel, you could easily catch an episode.


Monday, July 03, 2006

The Evil Son

I awoke Sunday morning with gloom in my mind and sadness in my heart. It was much nicer to be in the world of dreams and to simply sleep life away. Real world interaction can sometimes be so painful.

I began to try to awaken my mother at around 8:30am. When I went to speak with her, nothing had improved. She was still very confused, still very rude and belligerent, and still very adamant about NOT going to the hospital. By 9:30, she had refused to eat or drink or to get up out of bed and I finally told her she WAS going to the hospital, even if I had to carry her myself to the car to get her there.

She then got up and decided she needed to take a shower prior to going to the hospital. She was still very obviously weak and extraordinarily confused and angry and mean. Of course she would not allow me nor my wife to help her to get ready. A slew of very rude phrases and words came from her mouth. After nearly 2 hours of this she finally had taken a shower and was ready to go. As we started out the driveway, she then realized somehow that she had not actually washed her hair with shampoo but had instead used cream rinse. She wanted me to head back home so she could rewash her hair. I simply told her "no".

At the hospital, she was admitted and yet was very angry, very vocal, and extremely rude and unpleasant. She not only accused me of trying to put her into a nursing home, she called me every name under the sun. When one of my sisters finally arrived 5 hours after I had called her, my mother let loose with the same torrent of vehement hate and rancor at her. My sister cried. I had had tears streaming down my cheeks for much of the day, already, so it was nothing new to me. I hoped my sister realized what I have been dealing with for the last several days. I am not sure if she does or not.

With my sister there, I was rather unhappy and fed up sitting there and taking more abuse. So, I asked my sister to give me a two hour window where I could go home, take a shower, shave my neck, and just relax a bit before I had to come back.

In the rush to the hospital today, I had forgotten my pipe and pouch and lighter, so when I got home, I went to the back yard for a bit to smoke my pipe and to try to regain composure. As I sat there smoking, tears streamed down my face and I started to sob.

Suddenly my wife comes out the patio door and said that one of the workers from the hospital called and needed to speak to me immediately.

My mother had started to be more belligerent and was demanding to leave the hospital. My sister, as is typical, was unable to handle the situation, and so it escalated even further. I raced back to the hospital where my mother was in hysterics and was cussing and cursing and calling each of us every vehement, horrid, nasty thing she could formuatle in her mind. She was livid and was p*ssed as hell saying that we had put her into a nursing home. She told us point blank we were lying about her being in an emergency room at the hospital, and nothing I nor anyone could say would change her mind. This went on for at least three hours, upon which the emergency room physician finally came back with some results about her blood work.

Her oxygen levels were fine, so it was not that. Her blood pressure was fine, so it was not that. What it turned out to be is exactly what I had been worrying about since Thursday... her eating and drinking..... or to state it more clearly... her delusions about eating and drinking. Since Thursday, she had consumed AT MOST 250-300 calories each day, and if she had consumed even a full cup of liquid on any of those days that would be a lot.

Because of her refusal to eat and drink, she created a situation in her body where her kidneys started to malfunction, and also one where several of her heart medications became catastrophically too high. All of these aspects helped to explain her really negative behavior.

But instead of treating her condition immediately (at roughly now 6:45pm, nearly 8 hours after arriving), instead the staff said... "Oh, we will wait to move her now until after shift change (7:30pm). Being between a rock and a hard place is not a helluva lot of fun, but there was nothing to do but wait it out and let mom yell and curse at us some more.

At 7:30pm, just as the staff was starting to begin to consider thinking about having my mother actually be moved to a floor of the hospital for treatment (meaning leaving the emergency room), another of my sisters decided to show up.

I got my other sister up to speed, and told her I was dead tired and psychologically torn apart. I asked her very firmly to stay overnight in the hospital to check on mom and make sure she did not try to flee or pull out her IV or other ports. She agreed.

We will see if she remembers what she said tomorrow as the fluid will hopefully have reduced her levels and improved kidney function. To be perfectly frank, I am not the least bit optimistic. I suspect many of you may wish to tell me... you cannot subscribe to all the b*llsh*t your mother hollered at you about... she was not in her right mind at the time. You are correct, yet it still hurts like hell to hear something like that come out your own mother's mouth. Only time will tell if there is any sort of return to normalcy.

I am angry, hurt, and I am going to bed.


Sunday, July 02, 2006

No Better, Much Worse

In the f*cking train wreck that is my life, nothing has improved and the sh*t only gets worse. I believe my elderly mother has full blown dementia and I am thinking it will be more likely than not likely that sometime on today (Sunday) I will be taking her to the hospital.

I have asked her several times today about how and what she is feeling. Her new tactic is to suggest I am trying to make her sick so she has to go to the hospital. Or that when I ask her to describe what symptoms she is having, that she gets extremely angry and tells me that I am know what is going on (which I do not). She has been extremely rude and extremely hurtful to me the last three days.

I am suspicious that her blood oxygen level may be on the low side and I suspect that this may be the trigger for me getting to take her to the hospital.

I am damn mad at the world. I am damn mad at her. I am more than damn mad at my siblings (at least those close to my location) who never lift a finger or do a damn thing to help out unless begged to.

Not much else to say. I am sure [sarcasm intended] that this entry will undoubtably win a Pulitzer because it is so well written too damn valuable for words.


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Damn F*ck*ng Mad at the Whole World

I am angry, no actually I am completely p*ss*d off at the whole damn world and universe . I am so damn sick of illnesses and people being sick and angry feelings that I cannot stand it. I have reached a point where I think my life is some sick, cruel joke or that a higher power is simply deciding to punish me.

I am truly at a point where I do not care and I do not give a damn anymore.