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.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Scattered Thoughts from an Insanely Tired FurFace

It was only an hour ago when I finally arrived home (roughly 10:50 pm). I am very tired from work and the hospital so my post is brief, but I wanted all of you, my caring friends, family, and students to have an update.

1. My mother had her surgery today and it seems to have gone acceptably. She is now in the Intensive Care Unit and connected to a ventilator as the doctor had planned for her safety. She was awake for the few moments we could visit. I assured her that things went well and reminded her about how the ventilator and the ICU stay would be brief and she would [hopefully] begin to feel much better very soon.

2. Abbagirl74 has returned to posting and it makes me happy to have her back. In her recent comment to me she stated "If you are not happy with your job, what are you doing about it?" I wish to comment on that statement briefly below:

Abbagirl74, I apologize if my writings gave you the impression that I was not happy with my job. That was not my intent in that post. On the contrary, at this time I truly love my job, and most of the time I have always relished my role as a professor , researcher, and educator. What I was attempting to paint with my words in that post is that due to the overwhelming stress of my elderly mother's illness and the impact it has had on my overall family and the significant impact it has had on my immediate family, I felt sad that I was not feeling that usual sense of joy and expectation I normally feel at the start of a new academic year. It was not my job that was the problem, instead it was the other life circumstances that weighed so heavily upon me that even those things I do relish (in this instance my job and the start of the academic year) did not elicit the joy I so crave. In a very real sense, my teaching this week has been akin to a lifeline... it has given me something to focus on that has felt more normal and I have felt much more relaxed while being their than while at home or in dealing with the hospital situations. I was simply feeling sad that I was able to experience the typical invigorating excitement due to the other hardships I was experiencing.

3. A good friend has apparently misconstrued a comment I made to him and now seems to be ignoring me. For this I am sad. I am thinking of perhaps having a full comment on this at a later date, so I will not even attempt a skeletal framework now. But suffice it to say that I have reread the comment I wrote and I think what I said was not mean spirited. I think it was showing significant concern and care for this friend. I shall have to frame my words even more carefully for this future essay.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Reply and Update

I am going to be as brief as possible today as I am so beyond tired that I cannot stand it. My mother’s surgery was cancelled at the last minute due to fluid that developed in her left lung. This was drained and she seems to be breathing better but is in excruciating pain from the gall stones. She is scheduled to go to surgery on Wednesday.

* * * * *

Below, I am replying (as briefly as I can) to statements that my friend, Andrew, made to me on his blog 4th Avenue Blues. He has taken the intent of my message the wrong way. I hope to fix this situation for I do not mean to hurt his feelings for he is an excellent person:

Statement by Andrew: I found it sad though that you thought my car camping experiments were not living a “true, adult life.”

I did not say care camping experiments were not living a true adult life. I was asking you if your recent need to live in your car was an attempt to get away from the difficulties you were experiencing at home? When I did say you could live a “true, adult life” what I meant was that when you have your own financial control, your own living quarters, and have a place to call your safe place.... then you have the true, adult life.... a life in which you CAN explore the things you are suggesting (such as alternative ways of living, etc.) Hell, if you had those things in place, I’d be the first to say..... shit, go camping for a month or two. And I would even suggest, instead of going camping in the back of parking lots in your hometown, why not go camping in a new state, a new place you’d love to explore? I simply feared you were “camping” to avoid your father.

Additional Statement by Andrew: Also, due to the great amount of social anxiety that I experience, living in my car affords me a certain solitude and a feeling of safeness from encounters in which I do not wish to participate in. I am free from the prying eyes of my ever watchful family members.

To me, the above statement suggests you ARE very possibly car camping out of fear of your family (aka your father) instead of camping in the true, adult manner I described above.

Again, do not get me wrong sir..... I think trying alternative lifestyles, alternative method of living, camping, box car riding, Rving etc are ALL wonderful things to experience and wonderful things that I hope you do and will experience. And they can all be a part of a true, adult life. That is exactly what I wish and hope for you. The life in which you can chose to explore those alternatives, as an adult, not as someone who is avoiding others.

So, please do not be angry with me. I hope and wish the best for you. If you are working towards those goals, I am pleased. I will try to keep my mouth shut in the future.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Surgery Today

My mother is scheduled to have surgery today. Thoughts and prayers for a successful and safe surgery are greatly appreciated.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Standard & Not Standard

Today is the first day of classes for the new academic year.

It is nice seeing all the new faces of young Freshman, and it is nice for the return of a lot of activity on campus. I am not trying to complain, so please do not think I am whining... I feel very melancholy this day. It does not seem a new, fresh start for me. I do not feel the eagerness and the limitless possibilities like I typically do at the start of the academic year. For the first time that I can ever recall, this wonderful day does not invigorate me. It simply feels like a day like the last umpteen many days that I have to get through. I used to feel excited, enthused and strangely proud to be a professor... especially at the start of the year. Unfortunately, today it only seems like a job.

I no longer seem able to conjure up any emotions other than fear and sadness. The weight of responsibility of being the primary caregiver is enormous. I went to the hospital at 6:30am on Sunday so as to be there to see each of the doctors as they went through since it is not possible to learn of any anticipated times for their rounds (I have asked the nurses, and they hem-and-haw and say that 'we do not know when they may stop it, it could be anytime'). So, yesterday I sat on the lone, hard, wooden chair (the family chairs they provide in this hospital) waiting, and waiting, usually for a very hurried, brusque, minute-or-less session with each physician. I left at 8:35pm last night. Because it was Sunday, most physicians were not the actual physicians for my mother, but instead were those physicians covering for them so they could have a weekend off.

If I could suggest one thing to the health care workers it would be thus:

I know you work hard... you work damn hard! I am not complaining about the amount of work you do.

Physicians, your responsibility is great, your value and benefit to the world is obvious. Please, though, do not assume you have to dumb down your talk to families.... while you may have to teach and explain... dumbing down your words, your wisdom only makes people fearful and distrustful. I also know you are busy, and I also know you need and deserve a life just like all of us. But please keep in mind that the people you deal with are in crisis, and the family of the patients you deal with ARE ALSO in crisis. Work on finding ways to better coordinate care, such as by having a REAL way to allow family to ascertain information when they need it. Nurses may be the traditional route, but they are also so damn overworked, that 9 times out of 10, they barely know the patient's name let alone her history, her progress, or her future plans.

Nurses, your responsibilities are great as well, especially because you are being spread too damn thin by most hospital bean counters. But you are the most obvious and critical lifeline between the patient and her getting well, you are also the most prominent link between the swirl of activity that is occurring and the family's understanding of the chaos. Yes, you are overworked, yes, you deserve better treatment. However, keep in mind how scared and how worried we are as family. Keep at the forefront of your mind that your idle chitchat about your lunch, your boyfriends, your frustration at the grocery store, etc.... while those are a part of damn near everyone's workday chit-chat, that sort of talk in front of patients or in front of patient's families only brings on more fear to them... we see you not being focused on our crisis, on our worries. We see unprofessional sides to you better left behind closed doors. So, please, strive to care more even though it is hard. And, for those of you who are LPNs (liscened practical nurses) or ADNs (associate degree registered nurses), keep striving to become stronger and more qualified. Consider going back to school to become at least a BSN RNs (bachelor degree registered nurses). The benefit to you (in understanding and in seeing the bigger picture) and the benefit to the patient and family (in quality of care and professionalism), and the [unperceived by the bean counters, but still true] benefit to the hospital (being a better and more skilled professional) are worth it if you care about your profession.

Nurse's Aids/Assistants - your role is great! You are to a large degree the people who get the grungy, dirty jobs that are not particularly appealing. But please do not lose focus... you are a tremendous asset to the hospital. You are overworked and underpaid, but please do not take it out on your patients.... instead, form coalitions and unions and groups to demand your rights against the administrative bean counters. Keep strong the idea of how fearful and worried we are as patients and patient's families. Try to cage in your language a bit... you are professionals, and slang, poor grammar, and "folksy" phraseology do not help to instill confidence in your work. I am not saying to be robotic grammarians... I am only saying keep your professionalism intact with your words.

Discharge Coordinators - your role is primarily useless. I dislike a particular one of you, who is named Peggy at the hospital my elderly mother is in. Do not jump the gun and get families startled and worried and further on edge by proclaiming in your pseudoauthoratative manner that a patient who is obviously MUCH sicker than she was when she arrived is ready to be "shipped out". For those of you discharge coordinators who want to do a good job (I have yet to meet one, but I suspect there may be many who do), keep the patient and family at the forefront of your mind. Do not presume you know a damn thing about us or our needs. Listen to US and OUR concerns and wishes. Do not use 1984-esque double speak to cover your rear end when we ask you simple questions such as.... "We did not hear anything about my mother being even remotely considered for discharge." "Who told you this?" "When are they thinking she will be discharged?" "She is obviously worse off now than she was when she arrived, this makes no sense. How can she be being considered for discharge?" Your *ss-covering maneuvers are horribly unprofessional, and are rude, belittling, and unpleasant. Your pseudoauthoratative air is aggravating and your smarmy disposition is annoying. I suspect Peggy was put in this role because she was so damn horrid as an actual floor nurse. If you want to be a good discharge coordinator.... keep at the forefront of your mind... DO NOT BE A "PEGGY".

Administrators and Administrative "Bean Counters" - all you think about is money. It is understandable because you are so removed from the drama and trama that the actual health care workers, the patients and the patient's families are dealing with. However, why not do your job WELL and instead of being penny pinching bulldogs who try to have maximum profit with minimal output, why not a) strive for solvency with a damn good and well supported and well developed staff of health care workers, and b) work to make the health care system a better place... and not the horrid, wretched mess of b*llsh*t it currently is. Be the advocate for your hospital for true, real, NATIONAL change in how health care occurs. Get off your *ss*s and do something meaningful.

I guess that is it for today. My mother is stable at the moment. And I was actually able to get one of my sisters to be responsible for being the sentinel at the hospital today so I may actually be at the U.


Sunday, August 27, 2006


I do not have much to say. My mother was moved back to a normal room today. Apparently, the medical staff does not take into account dehydration (due to vomiting from the prep for the colonoscopy), lack of eating for 36 hours (due to two days of prep for the colonoscopy), and general sensitivity to medicine when giving out medications. My mother had far too high a level of her blood pressure medications and this caused her blood pressure to bottom out leading to the ICU stay.

I would think medical staff would monitor this and make reasonable adjustments.


Saturday, August 26, 2006


My mother was moved to the ICU last night.


Friday, August 25, 2006

Expect the Unexpected

Of course there were issues in the colonoscopy/upper GI scope. A list will suffice:

Good News:

The ulcer that my mother had (suspected to have been induced by Gout medication) when she had the Upper GI last month has now healed.

Bad News:

The material my mother took to clean her intestines was not fully successful. She vomited once while taking the material and must have lost most of it. The doctor came out of the proceedure room (4pm.... I was there for 6 hours before this happened), he told me the results of the upper GI and then said they would need to redo the colonoscopy again because of residual fecal matter. And of course again, there is no set time for the proceedure.... so again I will end up being there all day. It is exhausting and uncomfortable.

* * * * *

Questions that Frustrate and Suspected Answers:

The time I am spending in the hopsital gives me ample time to ask a huge number of questions. Here they are and my suspected answers.....

1. Why are the very minimal pieces of furniture for family always so damn uncomfortable?

The chairs are virtually indestructable... but they wreck havoc with the human body. I suspect these types of chairs are used to try to drive away the meddling eyes of family (even though research shows family present helps patients to heal better and faster). The medical staff prefers to limit multiple eyes from seeing what they are doing.

2. Why are the rooms so damn cramped?

Most rooms in the hospital my mother is in (and in many places nationwide) were originally designed for ONE bed. But in order to heighten the profit margin, two beds are stuffed it. Not only is profit increased, but the discomfort of the family members being in such close proximity with another family inevitably drives many visitors away.

3. Why cannot the results from the colonoscopy (from 3 months ago) be used and the upper GI (from 1 month ago) be used to give the green light for the gall bladder surgery (especially after BOTH ultrasound tests showed severe numbers of gall stones and also inflamation)?

Simple.... profit. The DRG fights against my mother staying in a hospital bed to reest and recover, but the medical staff will be sure as hell to get every chance to bill for a test they can even if it is not needed. I am not saying it is bad for my mother to have another colonoscopy and upper GI check.... that is nice... but it sure as hell DOES NOT need to be "for the gall bladder surgery". She needs to have the surgery for the gall bladder, and she needs it right away because of pain. She also needs it done quickly because it can throw her heart out of rhythm due to the stress of the pain.

* * * * *

I hope and pray that my mother has good results (both proceedure wise and health wise) tommorrow. If all is good, she could now have the gall bladder surgery on Monday. This is the first day of the semester.

* * * * *

Sometimes I think I have people who hang around me because I DO SOMETHING FOR THEM. In a lot of ways this is what happens with my mother now, happens with my wife lately, happens with my kids, happens with my students. Everyone wants something, and then when they get it, they go about their business.

When and if does anyone be with me to just be with me? Not too damn many people lately. It makes me feel sad. I feel like a slave, a robot.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

An Unexpected Deviation

My elderly mother now has been scheduled for a colonoscopy and an upper gastrointestinal scope for today. Unfortunately, the doctor could not tell us when this proceedure would be. He was not even able to tell us if it would occur in the morning or afternoon. So, to try to comfort my mother, who will be worried and scared all day about this proceedure, I will be at the hospital by 10 am (the earliest time I anticipate anything would occur).

I had planned to get up at 5 am today so I could rush to work by 5:30 am to spend a few precious hours there preparing for the upcoming semester. Unfortunately, my wife turned off my alarm clock for me. I honestly do not understand the mentality of her actions. The alarm clock is MY tool for getting ME out of bed and AWAKE ENOUGH so that I remember what my plan was for the day. She says she nudged me and I "woke up". Therefore, she thought all was fine. By "woke up" she means that I responded to her nudging. That does not mean I am awake and she should know that by now. After the many, many years of marriage, I still sometimes am shocked as hell by her seemingly limited understanding of me, her marriage partner. She should know damn well that I need to physically stand up (and better yet, walk) to my alarm clock and turn it off... especially when it is an atypical time setting... or I WILL FALL BACK ASLEEP. So, I did not awkake until I opened my eyes at 8:15am. There is no damn point in even attempting to go into work.

There is no malice involved on the part of my wife. I know that. But sometimes I just do not "get" how she does not pay attention to details like that and understand what I need on something simple like that after so many years of marriage.

I, on the other hand, remember most details of things I observe. I suppose in the same way, this frustrates her at times because she tells me I should not "keep all those things" in my head. I have learned over the years to not give too many details of observations and to "keep it simple" in terms of the amount of detail I give to her on recollections, for she finds it better that way.

I just wish she would not have turned the alarm clock off "for" me. It completely altered what little I had hoped to accomplish besides being at the hospital all day. I wish she would (she should have) known by now to NOT turn my alarm clock off. And it makes me feel sad.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Insomnia & Cannon

The amount of things that have gone on today are beyond anything I could even attempt to write about at the moment. I promise a listing of events as soon as I am able. My muscles are so cramped, my mind so utterly spent, my spirit so trampled, and whole body feels weak from exhaustion. I can say, however, my wife was amazing in the role she played today. She was able to speak to the boss of yesterday's major idiot (the discharge coordinator). Little Miss Peggy will be in significant trouble, I suspect. I will write more about the detals when I am coherent.

My total fuel for the day at the hospital.... until I arrived home at 9pm consisted of a bran muffin, roughly 12 cups of coffee, 15 or 16 pipes, and roughly 3 liters of water. When I arrived home, I did have some vegetable soup and a salad.

My mind is in one of those states where it is too tired to focus and think, but also too active to sleep. Insomnia is usually not an issue for me, but it is and shall continue to be tonight. Strangely, what sounds very, very good right now would be to fix myself a large, double gin & tonic over crushed ice. However, even though it sounds good, I will not have one for three reasons: 1) I could be called back to the hospital at any moment, so I need to be in tip-top driving condition, 2) Even though a gin and tonic would taste good and would relax me, I really do not enjoy drinking alone, and try to never do so, and 3) I find drinking when sad to not be particularly useful or helpful (even as a sleep aid). To me, it is really only fun to drink when you are in a happy, relaxed mood and you can have fun with faimily or friends.

Looking back, I just realized..... I believe it has been at least 8 to 10 weeks since I have gotten together for an afternoon of pipes and drinks with my elderly father-in-law. I miss that. Perhaps some day, life will be calm enough again to be able to enjoy something as simple as that.

Well, this is a rambling post. I apologize for the continued disorder. I think I will slide in another of my DVDs of episodes of Cannon. I really enjoy seeing the show again, but compared to television today, the pace is very slow, and I suspect it may just be the trick for my insomnia.

I promise a more complete update tommorrow.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Wailing Roller Coaster Ride

I wish I could find something happy to post. Unfortunately I cannot. I also lack energy to do much of anything except try to list the essential details:

1. My mother has been in the hospital for over a week now.

2. She is much WORSE than she was when we went in. Her heart rate is not controlled yet, she is having almost not stop gall bladder pain, she is having great trouble walking, she is barely drinking 300cc of fluid a day (that is less than one cup). Her upper respiratory infection is worse.

3. So, what do I hear... the scheduled surgery on her gall bladder must wait until her cold clears up.... and they want to DISCHARGE HER until she is over the cold..... SHE CAN BARELY WALK, SHE IS NOT DRINKING OR EATING, SHE IS HAVING GALL BLADDER ATTACKS, HER HEART ARRYTHMIA HAS BEEN "NORMAL" FOR LESS THAN 10 HOURS.

4. She still has not been evaluated for home oxygen. I do not know what the hell their issue is.

5. A very, very rude and obnoxious "discharge coordinator" (who in this instance is an RN that has poor interpersonal communication skills and a like cannot be trusted to do actual patient care and was moved up to this position to keep her away from patients more) came in and was telling us to get ready, as mom would be coming home soon... and she sits there and can see my mother is inchoerent (because they gave her another dose of Fennigren... which she responded poorly to previously and was removed), cannot walk, and tells us we cannot complain because my mother refused physical therapy three times (and in the last 7 days, she was incoherent three of them due to medication issues, and has been wracked with pain from gall bladder attacks on three days).

I cannot try to write anymore. It is so sad, so pathetic, so demoralizing to try to exist in this sort of system. The hospital is not a place for patients to be taken care of. Now it is a place for sick people to come and each health care worker will simply come in and do their minimum daily requirement and not communicate with others, will not develop any sort of holistic care goal. For the most part this is due to a damn piece of bullsh*t called the "DRG" (the diagnosis related group). This assinine classification system is used by hospital and insurance agencies to allocate how much money they can charge for a proceedure. It is based upon the same sorts of actuarial tables that life insurance agencies use and is based upon a hypothetical average. Say for example on average a person requires 3 days for recovery from appendix removal surgery. The insurance companies (who universally adopt DRG will only pay for three days of hospital care... reguardless if the patient is actually better. This may work for an average patient, but for some with a slower respnse, it is plain bullsh*t. So, basically, my mother is being discharged (unless I can figure out a way around it) worse off than before, very likely unable to survive.... all because of a damn insurance table determined by bean counters with their head up their rear end.

I used to believe and have faith in the US as a nation. Now I see more and more surely how deceived I was.


Monday, August 21, 2006


My elderly mother is now being evaluated for heart surgery and a second abdominal surgery. The physicians believe these surgeries are critical but are assessing if she is strong enough for them.


Sunday, August 20, 2006


I had promised Abbagirl74 an essay based upon her comment. Unfortunately that will not happen today. I apologize. Life has been too chaotic this past day. I am too sad to try to explain at this time. I will try to explain and will try to post the essay I promised in my next writing effort.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Update and This Week's Thanks

1. My elderly mother is holding steady. She is still not doing great, but she is also not getting worse at the moment. Thoughts and/or prayers for her return to health are greatly appreciated.

2. My Saturday Thanks:

a. Abbagirl74 - Your kind and heartfelt words are ALWAYS greatly appreciated. You have become a highly valued friend and I look forward to your comments greatly. Your comment from yesterday (Friday) gave me special pause to think and shall be a major impetus for my essay on Sunday. Thank you for the inspiration!

b. Amy - Thank you for the hug and the coffee. Both are very appreciated. "You're damned if you do, damned if you do not"... is very appropriate. I have begun to think and wonder (and actually dreamed one evening that all this was caused by a voodoo man who cursed me) about it.

c. austere - I have really enjoyed your comments. Do you really feel there is that much of a difference in familial relationships between Asian and American families? I would really enjoy more of your impressions.

d. G@P - Thank you sir. I miss your comments. Yes, the posting you refered to was by far the most comforting of the week.

e. Laurent - Very comforting and philosophical words. In the first part of your comment, I find several points worth addressing my my essay tommorrow. As for the pipes... I have many, many varieties and the same is true for tobaccos... and I love to talk about them all. So, thank you sincerely for the pipe questions... it will nudge me enough to want to write about them again and.... I promise to have at least one pipe oriented episode next week

f. Lisa - Thank you so much for your prayers. I hope both you and I can someday see a just health care system.

g. Plark - Thank you for continuing to drop by, sir. I look forward to more of your writings as you go to this newest work opportunity.

h. Sean - Thank you very sincerely for your thoughts. To know that you care enough to think and wish me and my family well makes me feel a bit less burdened.

Friday, August 18, 2006

I Don't Know

My mother is staying roughly the same. She is very weak, cannot stand or move for more than a few moments. I do not know what to think or do anymore.

I do not know what to think or do anymore. I feel as if I let everyone down. I let my mother down by not being able to help her. I let her down by not being there enough. I let my family down by not being there enough. I let my family down by not being strong enough. I let down my wife by not being there enough. I let my wife down by not figuring out how to do it all, and do it all correctly. I let my job down and I let my University down by not being there enough. I let my job down by not having the mental focus and determination I used to have. I let my kids down by not being there enough for them. I let my kids down by not giving enough of myself to them. I let my life down by not having any focus on it. I let my life down by not striving to make something so good and so lasting and so real that it will live on beyond me, beyond my lifetime, beyond my community.

I do not know how to proceed. I do not know what to believe. I do not know what to feel. I do not know what I DO feel. I do not remember driving home. I do not remember any television that I watched. I do not care to eat. I do not care if I eat everything under the sun. I do not care if I exist.

I am an empty shell. I am a walking zombie. I am devoid of life.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Look at a Frightening Future

The cardiologist is planning to give my elderly mother Cordarone and it scares the living sh*t out of me. I had always heard of problems with this medication, but I had never looked at specific side effects and percentages of occurrence until now. Many very debilitating side effects occur in up to 1/3 of people given this medication.

I will have to give up an entire day of work tomorrow to attempt to be at the hospital when the cardiologist arrives. As you can never know or predict when the physicians may do their rounds, a family either has to blithely accept whatever the hell happens, or they have to man a 24-hour surveillance to get even momentary access to the doctor.

I would like to ask the doctor to be more conservative. I am going to "remind" him (he may not know my mother's recent medical history as he is a "specialist" who has not seen my mother before) of the history of recent pulmonary and medication issues that could have stressed the heartleading to a current and perhaps temporary problem. I am going to explain she has never had home oxygen before. I am going to ask him to consider not using Cordarone and to remove Verapamil and try this for at least a week or two WITH HOME OXYGEN to see if she perks up.

I doubt he will listen or consider it as I am not an actual "health care professional" but I have to try. I doubt it will work though.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Confused & Unsteady

My elderly mother received medication to reduce her leg swelling and slow her heart rate. But now she is showing signs of the severe mental confusion again. After I left her at the conclusion of visiting hours, she called home five times asking why I was not picking her up to go home. She was not sure where she was at.

Sometimes life is too damn hard.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006


At the physician's office for my mother, the doctor in thought it was best to admit my elderly mother back into the hospital as she was experiencing problems both related to pulmonary function and cardiac function.

As soon as she received the oxygen at the hospital she felt some significant relief. Hopefully things will stay even-keeled and she will improve.

If only the damn Medicare rules would have granted my mother home oxygen LAST WEEK, when this all started, we would probably not be in this current situation. I despise our health care "system". The doctor's suggest one thing, the various insurance agencies balk about any sort of treatment, and I damn well know it is a shell game with them. The know that if they put up roadblocks (even temporary ones), that they will improve their massive profit margins further because people will give up or die waiting to wade through all the red tape. It is a huge mess and this nation should be utterly ashamed of itself for having this sort of lumbering, ineffective, bloated system where some people get health care, others get health care if they kick and scream enough, and still others receive no health care.

We need equal, high quality health care for all. Pure and simple.


Monday, August 14, 2006


Last night we almost had a blowout... actually we did, but it was smaller than it could have been.

My elderly mother grows more confused. Sometimes she is lucid and her normal self, but other times she is highly confused. When she is confused, her ideas about things are almost invariably the polar opposite of what logic would dictate. It is very hard to deal with, and it makes me feel edgy for it is much like what she was like all the time prior to her hospitalization in July.

When I question her and try to guide her back to normal thought, she suddenly grows aware and then will start to cry. She then becomes embarassed and will not talk with any of us and goes to hide in her bedroom. This hurts her, but also hurts everyone in the family. For me as an individual, I can feel elevation of my blood pressure, a tightening in my chest, clenching of my jaw, worry/anger/fear/frustration/trepedation flooding my body, and pressure causing pain behind my eyes. It is this sort of emotion that makes me want to go screaming through the streets.

Today my mother has another medical appointment I am taking her to at 10am, and then she has an evaluation for home oxygen. I hope it goes well.


Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Comforting Evening

Today is a rather calm day at the moment and for that I am glad. Last evening, my beloved wife had returned to her prior self emotionally and my elderly mother held stable physically. Even more of a surprise, my wife offered to me the option of engaging in physical love with her, something that has grown more and more rare as menopause has settled in. The plethora of physical feelings and mental emotions I felt were profoundly beautiful. The sensations as I would push against her cervix as I probed as deeply as her space would allow, the warmth of her moist flesh enveloping me, the gentle, profoundly stimulating friction we provided each other. My mind could sense peace and harmony, and I felt loved in ways that had seemed so much a distant memory. After we had spent our physical bodies we layed upon the comforter of the bed embraced in each other's arms and could feel the beat of each other's heart, the rhythms of our internal music. After we layed there a while, my wife touched my very soul by taking a small towel and drying the perspiration off of my brow, my face, and then my chest, and then took her small comb and gently combed my moustache, beard and hair back into order as they had grown disheveled during our passions. It has been at least a year since she nurtured me by combing me in this way and it brought tears of joy to my eyes. She then gently layed against me again, and quietly rubbed her hand on my chest, deeply working her hand into my chest hair. It so soothed me,helped me feel loved, and we both fell deeply asleep until morning.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Sincere Thanks!

I wanted to take this post to thank several very kind friends who have commented to me during the last week:

Abbagirl74: Your words and suggestions have been very comforting to me during this time of significant emotional turmoil. It feels nice to have you care. I have also written down the kumquat recipie so that I may try it. I had eaten the other bundle of these fruits we had, so I will try to get some during this week's shopping.

Amy: Thank you for your comment about the health care "system". I agree it is a horror and to me is shameful for a country such as this one.

Austere: I have found all your posts so wonderful and refreshing. I truly enjoy your perspective from your living in India. I was able to visit India in 1999 to attend a scientific conference. It was an amazing experience.

Becky: Thank you for the encouragement about walking and the commiserating about the evils of our nation's health care.

GaP: It is always refreshing to see a post from you sir. Your comments are very fun and encouraging. When I am again able to someday have an enjoyable liquid afternoon with my elderly father-in-law, I will also think of you sir, and wish you could join us as well.

Guy: Thank you for your memory of kumquats.

Jennifer: Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Also thank you for the advice on Photoshop! Also, please accept my condolences about your mother's passing.

Jonathon/Andrew: Thank you for letting us know how you are doing.

Lisa: Thank you for trying out my blog. I appreciate your blessings greatly.

Sean: Thank you for the encouragement. I suspect you may be similar to me in almost having a "craving" for routine at times. This entire Summer has been so harsh and chaotic, that I am trying to grab onto any of my old routines I can.

* * * * *

I like this idea of looking back over the week and highlighting you, my friends who have been able to comment on my writings. I hope you know that I sincerely enjoy and appreciate the time and concern you give to me by reading and commenting to me. You have been many of the brightest spots in my life this rather horrible summer.

I am considering making this "review" of the comments a weekly entry. It makes me feel good to specifically highlight your words to me.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Steps of Frustration

I do not feel expansive in my writing efforts tonight. Instead, I will list a bunch of issues that are helping me to feel like crap:

1. The continual run-around in health care issues with my elderly mother's latest health issue.

She was discharged from the ER stating she NEEDS home oxygen. It has been over 48 hours of numerous phone calls and visits and she still has none. The assinine agencies governing oxygen service say they cannot accept the oxygen reading from an emergency room... it needs to come from a hospital or clinic. Trying to get an appointment for an oxygen reading (all it requires is a damn device that you place on your finger and it reads oxygen saturation in 15 seconds) is like pulling teeth. Some of the assinine people I have spoken to have offered an appointment for MONDAY! It is bullshit.

2. The continual interuption of any time I have for myself to actually get work prepared and ready for the Fall semester.

The workshops I idiotically volunteered to do 10 months ago, the several hour ER visit with my mother, the babysitting needs relatives have heaped upon me, my wife's crankiness requiring me to tiptoe around and take 10 times longer to get any of the b*llsh*t household crap done. The continual influx of students needing "advice" during the few moments I can actually spend in my office. These items and more are interfering so much I do not have a single syllabus ready and classes start in just over two weeks.

3. The lack of getting to do any form of exercise (walking prefered).

With all the sh*t happening, all attempts to walk flew out the window and I don't end up having a moment to spare anymore. My work day has been starting at 5:30am each day and from that moment on it is nonestop doing all of the above and more until I can finally sit and relax at roughly 10pm. I may watch one show (often I fall asleep) on television, then I help everyone to bed at 11 -11:30. I travel down here for a few minutes of peace and end up often writing my entry for the blog (the one relaxation besides the hour of televsion), then I try to do some of the work I did not get to do in my office each day. Finally, I typically get to head to bed at roughly 2am.

4. The rather cryptic and ambiguous posts of my friend, Andrew at 4th Avenue Blues.

Andrew is a good friend who has been having some really harsh issues with a relative of his. This relative is trying all sorts of obnoxious and rude tactics on him. This rude relative loves Andrew, but he seems to be obsessively controlling and literally wants to institutionalize Andrew. Unfortunately, Andrew vascillates between standing up for himself and cow-towing to this relative's wishes. The aggrivating part is that Andrew has now started to write in a crypitc manner about being sent away, and yet has not explained what is occurring. I and many others are worried about him and feel in the dark.

5. An obxnoxious and conniving student at the U.

There is a student named Samuel who is trying to play very loosely with the truth about what others in the Department have said. Sam wants a prerequisite waiver and has lied repeatedly about being granted permission to break this prequisite policy. I have refused to give in to his demands, but I suspect he will travel up the administrative ladder to higher and higher people and try to sway their answers and make me, my chairperson, and my department look like mean, bad people. He became so irate at the assistant chairperson that he swore at him and called him an *ssh*le.

6. My elderly mother's weasling and whinning about eating and drinking.

She is already starting the same unbelievably aggrivating tricks to not eat or drink that she did previously. We are getting into some heated discussions because she is stubborn. The fact is she needs to eat a certain amount of calories a day and drink a certain amount of fluids a day. I despise having to be almost a policedog about it and cajole, and coax her to eat and drink.

I guess my post is longer than I had anticipated. I shall stop with the gripes here. I am sorry that most of the crap I have written about lately is always complaining and dull. If and when this current situation relieves itself, I think I will be able to get back to the rather more fun, exciting, scientific, philosphical and artistic discussions I much prefer to have.

The only question is WHEN?


Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Capable Robot

My elderly mother was released today with a relatively vague diagnosis. The only specific they gave was an antibiotic and an "urgent" requirement that my mother go on home oxygen.

All well and good. I supose. Until I start to call and arrange for home oxygen service. As the hospital will not make such a determination, we are told to work through our family doctor to establish said service. So I call her family physician, he of course is not available, but his nursing assistant who runs the front desk is there. She tells me that this is normally something the *hospital* does [sigh]. So I ask her what I should do? She says it may take a while and she will have to be evaluated to determine if she is elligible and this may take several days.

I do not understand this crap. My mother, who normally has a pulse/oxygen level of 98 or 99% in room air, was discharged with a pulse/oxygen level of 86%, a decree of needing oxygen, and yet it will take SEVERAL DAYS?!?!?!?! What the hell is this crap?

My entire day has revolved around performing my teaching duties (I am teaching several workshops to practicing K-12 teachers), while scrambling to be able to contact and interact with a bullheaded and "I'll do it when I damn well please, and you just have to take it!" medical system. Why should it be so hard for my mother to receive help? If she had to handle this medical nightmare for herself (including the new outsorced perscription coverage she has had for the past three years), she would simply have a) died because she could not successfuly navigate the health care system, b) died because she would not have understood the 21 day time-delay in submitting a perscription and actually obtaining the medicine from the damn mail-order pharmacy in New Jersey, or c) died because she was ignored AND also given the wrong medication in the hospital.

It is insane. I cannot understand why we as a nation do not riot in the streets for national, equal, fair, health care for all.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Pipe Dream Gone Sour

I should have known better. The post from yesterday was another post that spoke of hope and spoke of dreams of a life of calm, predictable, day-to-day routine. As of course I was too dense to recall... that is not the life I can lead currently. My life is framed around chaos.

I had a good day teaching the special workshop on Organization of Life to the middle and high school teachers who signed up for this enrichment workshop. When I ended my participation for the day at noon, I went for a brief lunch (~30 minutes) and afterwards sat outside beneath a tree in a wooded area of south campus and had a pipe and a Frozen Coke. When I arrived back into my office at 1pm, ready and actually eager to tackle some long-delayed work projects, I decided to check in on my elderly mother before I immersed myself in my books and files.

I asked her how she was feeling.

She told me, "Not well."

"How do you mean?"

"I don't really know. My legs are swollen, my arms and chest feel tight, my breathing is difficult." she said very quietly.

I became very alarmed.

"When did this start? You were fine this morning when I left. Your legs looked wonderful... no swelling." I stated.

"Oh, it started a couple hours ago...."

"Why didn't you call me or my secretary?!?!?!" I asked incredulous, frustrated, angry, and frightened.

"Oh, I thought it would go away, but now I think I should go to the hospital."

"I will be right home!"

With that, I of course closed up shop in my office and went out the door to my vehicle and rushed home as quickly as I could manage through traffic. I arrived in 12 minutes.

I immediately took her to the emergency room. It was roughly 1:45pm.

I arrived home from the hospital at 9:45pm.

I will write more of her condition in my next post. But rest assured she is again stable.

When will I learn to accept my role, my fate? I want to stop slipping into moments where I dream, plan, or have goals. I have to fail at them far, far too often. It would be better to have NO DREAMS, NO PLANS, NO GOALS and to just drift through life... buffeted by whichever wind is strongest until I am worn away and all my individual rough edges are lost as the hurt smooths out my features, my creativity, to do anything else.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lets Get Physical

During the rough last 2-3 months, I have unfortunately let my typical exercise routine fly out the window. I have missed it greatly and want to get it back into being an every day routine. My prefered exercise has always been brisk walking, and I have been rather consistent over the last 20 years or so in walking daily. This 2.5 month period of very spotty walking has been the longest and most severe deviation from the consistency I have had.

In talking with my baby brother, he has told me he has been working on getting himself more active physically as well and has even set up a blog site to record his every physical parameter. I do not think I shall be that obsessive about recording every bump and hair on my body. Since he posts so irregularly, however, he, himself has no entries. I wish he were nearer to my home (he is roughly three hours away by automobile), but alas he is not.

So, I have as a goal to start walking my five miles again, starting today! My plan is to do so this afternoon as I got a late start this morning (I woke up at 6:30 am) and by the time I had consumed my requisite coffee, pipes, cereal and toast, it was time for me to head to the lab.

Wish me luck!


Monday, August 07, 2006


A very good Internet friend (the same one who last week was going through a very difficult issue with his father) of mine has not written in his blog for over two days. This is very atypical for him and it makes me concerned. It is my hope that he returns to blogging very soon today and tells us all is ok. I fear, however, that something is amiss.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

It Seems Wrong

For household use, we recently purchased one of the Dell budget laptop computers to compliment our regular desktop in my den and the older desktop we have in the family room. We selected this computer (Inspiron B130) because it came with an internal wireless card and also a router to attach to the regular desktop. All for less than $500. Now we have a computer to travel around anywhere in the house or yard, and we can also take it on trips (if desired) and use free wireless enabled areas.

The one issue I have, is I wanted to install and old copy of Photoshop I have (Photoshop 4.0). Something or other called "Director" comes on and says I need to have 3MB free memory to run this program. Even though this computer is simple and basic, I damn well know it is far more powerful than our older desktop, and is a helluva lot more powerful than virtually ANY computer from 1997, when I believe Photoshop 4.0 came out. I had this exact same message appearon the desktop in my den when I one time uninstalled Photoshop 4.0 because it had become corrupted and reinstalled it. The "Director" said I needed 3MB free memory to run the program. I called Dell then, and they walked me through how to "fix" this, and I could then reload the program successfully. I suspect if I could remember what they had me do, I could do the same for the laptop so I could load my Photoshop 4.0. Does anyone know what I am attempting to do?


Saturday, August 05, 2006


The kumquat is an odd fruit... in reality a bit like an orange the size of a cherry tomato. As far as I know, the only way to eat these little bite-sized citrus fruits is to eat them whole. In my old, grey lifespan, I have purchased these items only 4 times, mostly on a lark to show a friend or one of the kids, or to use in a joke.

Have any of you ever read or know of a recipie that uses the kumquat as a major ingredient?


Friday, August 04, 2006

Chaos is the "New" Homeostasis

Homeostasis is a term that describes a physiological condition of "normalcy"... of ranges and boundaries of function that are "typical.

I was far too easily swayed into thinking that life had taken a turn back towards a calm, day-to-day sense of activity... get up, exercise, eat breakfast, go to work (and get satisfaction in expressing creativity), come home, have family time, dinner, more family time, and then relax and watch a little television and go to bed. I had almost a whole week that was relatively homeostatic, relatively normal. It was a mirage, and the shame of it is that I damn well should have know this, and I damn well should have not allowed myself to let my guard down and allow myself to once again start to feel some contentment. I simply need to accept and embrace that for now and for the forseeable future... as far as my mind can venture forward... my life is not one iota about feeling content, relaxed, or "normal". And hell, the ideas of feeling "happily excited" or "joyus" or "invigorated" are so distant a memory that they literally are only pipe dreams. Instead, my new norm will continue to be the "Hoeostasis of Chaos". Nothing, no one, no situation in my real-world life will remain predictable and I will simply have to continue to struggle each and every day with illness, bad moods, anger, rancor, and utter unpredictablity.

Having to continually assess my elderly mother and my wife for signs of abberations from quiescent normalcy is draining enough in itself. For the lion's share of this summer, I have been on pins and needles, as I wait around and attempt to observe the both of them and continually read their body language.... my elderly mother for signs of health difficulty.... my wife for signs of her grouchy rancor lurking beneath the surface. It is beyond tiring to do this, but if I do not at this time... then I risk one or several major emotional/physical blow-outs. Either my elderly mother will ignore or not recognize which symptoms she is facing are serious enough to warrent attention. Or it could be a mis-aimed glance, or a slight misinterpretation of something I say that could cause the damn to burst, and send my wife into one of her "moods". Or even more excitedly, there could be a synergy between the two of them and they could feed off each other's attitudes and behaviors and make everything in the household exponentially more chaotic.

It is an odd realization, but even at my grey age, I have come to learn more about certain forms of behavior than I had ever anticipated. There is a stereotypical type of man who would rather spend his time after work in the evening sitting on a stool at a local watering hole, rather than be with his family. I have never been that sort of man, for I desperately value and love my time with my family. I do enjoy drinking on occasion, but the idea of sitting on a bar stool all evening, akin to what happens on Cheers (only usually in a grungier, more unkempt setting) while your family sits at home.... just seems so utterly sad and unlike how family life should be. However, the events of this horrid summer have made me UNDERSTAND AND SYMPATHIZE with the man in the above scenerio. In many ways, the idea of going to a bar where "everybody knows your name" but that there are no expectations, no intensive emotions , no worry upon worry heaped up to the ceiling.... sounds pretty damn appealing at times to me.

So, what is going on, you ask. Now, my elderly mother is still experiencing the cough, and she has some swelling (edema) in her legs. She also is complaining of "stomach" issues. What this will lead to over the weekend is anyone's guess. My wife is in a state where she makes a cooked lobster look pale pink in comparison over some new idiotic policy at work. It is not something she needs to do, but she is too timid at work to take a stand and so she is angry that she will end up adopting this policy. The rancor spills over into her behavior outside of work so she is pretty much a crab since reading the letter.

Do not worry, my readers, I am not planning to spend my every evening in a bar to drown my sorrows. Although I understand the mentality far more than I had before, I instead shall attempt to carry on as I have been carrying on... accepting the nerve-wracking chaos of health and emotional issues, and the cornucopia filled with stress and anxiety as my new "norm". Basically I will (to use a coarser phrase) "suck-it-up" and just deal with it, and let my inner self grow dormant, my psyche wilt. It is the right thing for a man to do for his family. It just is, what it is.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Too Good To Be True

As I should have known, the seeming stability and gentle normalcy of life was too damn good to be true. My elderly mother, who has been relatively stable in her medications for almost one whole week is now starting to cough like she is coming down with cold again. Of course, she denies all of this, and so we all ask her each time she coughs if she is feeling ok, if she feels she is coming down with a cold, etc. Probably by tommorrow, we will start looking at her tissues that she discards for signs of yellow/green mucous again. That color of mucous of course means infection.

The infection means that she will have to take some form of antibiotic, and the antibiotic will give her diahrea, and that will make her stupidly think that she should stop eating and drinking again no matter how often I try to talk common sense to her, and that will of course dehydrate her and that of course will cause her other medications to go out of whack again, which will again mean there will be another hospital stay and that of course means she will be acting mean and rude and hurtful again, and that will mean i will be traveling back and forth between the U and between home and between the hospital.... and that of course means again, that I loose what little sense of freedom and normalcy I had... and that of course will make me feel angry.... and that of course does me no damn good... and will of course only make a hard situation harder... especially with the start of the fall semester only a few weeks away.

Life is b*llsh*t. Why is this crap happening in such a non-stop fashion? I barely had ONE damn week where things seemed reasonably normal..... I am not asking for rapturous joy, or an eternal party, or never-ending riches.... I am simply asking for a stretch of time where things are half-way normal and not in damn crisis mode every minute.

I am tired and angry again. It is so, so very annoying. I have been through this hundreds of times over the last 20 years... but it would happen perhaps 2 or three times a YEAR... and there would be long periods of normal life. Now it is 50% this crap, 25% dealing with annoying menapausal issues with my wife, and 20% cranked up student and/or administrative issues. One day out of 20 being normal is utterly unfair, utterly demoralizing and debilitating to my own mental and physical health.

What else is there to say? Nothing, it is pointless.


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Waiting and Power Point

As I await word about my friend I spoke of yesterday, I will be attending a workshop at the U that will train me in several different ways to make animations using electronic images and Power Point. If the workshop goes as I hope, I will be able to create some interesting teaching tools for the fall.

Let us all hope for the very best for my friend who is at a crossroads today. He is a good, kind, gentle, intelligent fellow and does not deserve the hell he has been going through the last several days.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Making the Right Decision

A very good friend that I know from the blog world is contemplating a major life change where he shall relinquish control of his life for (at least) six months. He is contemplating saying he is suicidal (which is not true) to get himself checked into a treatment facility for a minimum of six months. He is doing this at the urging of his father. I personally do not think he wants to go to this facility (nor do I think he needs to), but he is feeling unable to withstand the pressure from his father.

It makes me very sad, and I do not know how to help him.

If he goes through with his plan, he may disappear off the face of the Earth (at least figuratively) on Wednesday.