Saturday, November 17, 2012

The long, slow slide.....

My mother is dying.  In reality, she has been dying for many years.  The strokes in her late 60's took much of her short term memory and some of her mobility.  That she is still alive is a miracle - mostly a medical one in that the doctors who have watched over her have fought the good fight to keep her various illnesses in check.

Now at 82, the illnesses are winning the war.  Every action causes a unwelcome reaction.  Each trip to the hospital saps her her strength and her mental acuity resulting in a subsequent trip to a nursing home for rehabilitation.  Each time she comes back but not as strong as before she got sick.

This time, it appears that there will be no nursing home visit.  Now it is time for Hospice to step in and work to keep her calm and comfortable.  The dementia has taken over.  When she is not sleeping, she picks at her blankets and gown.  She tries to pull off the pieces of medical equipment keeping track of her vitals, her wrist tags and her oxygen mask.

Today when she was fussing and crying out, I made out some of the words and I can only surmise that she was back in her twenties, reliving the loss of my stillborn brother.  I am so angry about that.  Why, at this time is her mind doing this to her?  Why is she only remembering things that bring her sorrow and pain?  Why can't her last memories be the happy ones?  Why does life and death have to be so cruel?

I am angry about a lot of things.  I am angry that she is leaving me.  I am angry that she is suffering.  I am so damned angry that I can't do anything to make it better.  The only thing left for me is to be there, hoping my presence brings her some comfort and some calm.  I refuse to feel guilty for hoping her death comes quickly and quietly.  I can't stand to see her suffer and this is not the way she wanted her life to end.  It is as if her body is at war with itself.  Part of it trying to die while part of it fights to stay alive.

The last few years have been a race. She has been wanting to go and do and not stop.  She had her beloved Salon appointments where they treated her like a queen.  Giving her hand and head massages.  commenting on her jewelry and outfits.  We would go shopping and eat out.   We started the restaurant Bucket List - trying new and different places around the valley.  Some becoming favorite haunts because the food was so good and it was easy for her to eat.  We spend afternoons at the art museum, Desert Botanical Gardens and the Japanese Friendship Garden.  She loved to go shopping at Biltmore Fashion Park because it was dog friendly mall and she could pet people's dogs.  Then there was Macy's jewelry counter and all the glittering gems that she liked to look at.  The older sales ladies so happy to show her the baubles and let her try them on.  She made them happy too - when we would buy one on sale.

My father died when she was in her forties and it has been her and me together all these years.  We had our ups and downs, but we had so many good times.  I remember taking her to Disneyland and getting her on the rides.  She loved it.  She loved to travel and see new places.  I miss her so much.  Her body is still alive and there might be a miracle yet, though I don't hold out any hope for it.  I miss her wit and the fun we used to have.  Even the last years, when her questions would be repetitive and would drag at my patience, she was still herself in many ways.

We all want to just go to sleep one night and not wake up - that is the perfect death in our minds.  Some would say that this long, slow slide gives us a chance to tell someone that we love them, to build good memories and make the most of the time left.  While that is true, watching your loved ones slip away mentally is heart rending.  I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

Update:  My mother lost her battle on Black Friday.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


I have been listening to the talking heads, pundits, politicians and big mouths letting loose today.  None of them seem to have a clue as to what the average American wants or doesn't want.  They focus on one thing only- whatever they think will get them attention.

Here is what I, as an average American, think.

Middle class Americans, don't expect miracles or want extremes.  We don't expect to own a Ferrari.   We feel the same about healthcare.  We don't expect unnecessary medical expenses to be covered.

What we do want:
  • Basic health care coverage.  To be able to go to the doctor when we are sick and be taken care of.  To receive the tests and medicines we need to get well.
  • We want to know that if we have a heart attack or get cancer, that we won't go bankrupt and lose our homes or jobs. 
  • We want to know that our kids are covered until they become part of the workforce.  
  • We want to be able to get insurance at a reasonable cost and not be denied because we burped when we were two and that is considered a "pre-existing condition".
  • We want our doctors, nurses, techs and hospitals to be paid a living wage for taking care of us.  
  • We want to be told the truth by our health care providers.  If a generic drug works and is cheaper - we're good with that.  If a test isn't going to do as advertised on TV - tell us - we'll get that.   
  • We want to be treated fairly.  
What we don't want:
  • We don't want to have our insurance  company cancel our policy because we got sick and they don't want to pay.

  • We don't want our insurance premiums spent on bonuses for folks who figure out ways to deny coverage.
  • We don't want to be procedured to death because that is how our doctor's get paid a living wage. 
  • We don't want to pay for Ferraris and mansions for Healthcare CEOs and COOs.  They deserve to get paid a decent wage.  They don't deserve to become multi-millionaires on the backs of the rest of us.  Especially not at the same time they are denying us the right to get well or even live.   Honestly, we want the Health Insurance Companies to be non-profit because no one should be making profit off of other's health misfortunes.

Some of the folks complaining about Obamacare death panels and socialist medicine haven't really bothered to find out the truth or even to look honestly at what we have in this country today.  We have death panels.  They work for the health insurance industry.  They are the folks who deny you coverage or the ability to get a particular test, procedure or drug.  If you get your care from an HMO - you have to go through a gatekeeper to see a specialist.  (Referral anyone?)  That is no different than what the English go through, so the ingenuous remarks are beyond overdone.

Unlike Canada, the citizens of this country don't have a egalitarian streak and that is too bad. Everyone is treated differently and while we know it on a subconscious level, we don't know the full extent of it.  What we need is a system where we all pay the same cost and it is a fair cost.  There are too many paper and numbers games being played with the true cost of health insurance.   The actual true cost of everything needs to be posted like it is in other countries.  We are told that we need to pay more attention to healthcare costs so that we understand the true cost.  That is difficult to do when the price of something depends on who you work for and what percentage they are paying, who provides the insurance, who provides the service, who is getting kickbacks, what day of the week is it, and if there is a solar eclipse that day.

Maybe the Affordable Healthcare Act isn't perfect.  It doesn't go as far as it should.  It needs tweaks.  But more importantly, the folks slamming it need to look in the mirror and do a "Pinocchio nose" check because the American people expect and deserve the truth and not the lies and obfuscations coming out of their mouths.  We are tired of the Hypocrites and Liars spieling away and the media talking heads hanging on every word like lovesick teenie-boppers instead of doing their journalistic duty by questioning the blanket statements and pointing out the lies.

It is hard to fix massive things like this, but it has to be done.  Ask anyone from another country who lived through the massive changes that occurred and they will tell you it was not easy; however, they will all tell you that they are happy with the healthcare they have now and wouldn't want to be in our shoes.    Our Senators and Congressmen need to quit playing games and do the jobs they were voted in to do.  They need to quit pandering to the extremes and the big money and start working together for all of us and to make this country a better place to live.  If they don't, American exceptionalism will go the way of the dodo bird and we will be just another footnote in the history books along with the Roman Empire.  We have been falling down the lists.  Pick a list and we won't be at the top.  We won't even be in the top ten, unless the list is "countries who spend the most on defense".

I would suggest that this is the way most of us feel.  We may not always agree on the fine points but we all have the same complaints about the big stuff.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Whether to worry about the weather

Have you ever felt afraid to enjoy something?  It's been in the high 60's and 70's - great for walks and being outside - but the joy is tainted.  Here in AZ we have had a strange winter.  It started last summer - summer started late but seemed to want to make up for it by sucking up the space that should have been fall.  We had those Monsoon Haboobs you saw on the news but not much rain.  We blew from summer into winter but then after having a couple of weeks of winter cold and some rain - boom - fall shows up and hasn't gone away.  Are we going to go from fall into spring with no real winter?  Will summer show up early and ferocious?  Will we have a baked earth summer?   I guess that all there is to do is enjoy it while it is good and pray it doesn't get bad.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

To do lists- we all have them.  I find that I have a hard time keeping up.  Mostly because some of the projects are large.  Seems that for every one I cross off, two more take its place.  The current project is scanning and labeling all the old photo's - I have three generations worth.  At times, it is downright mind numbing.  Some are not getting scanned.  Why on earth do we need to keep a photo of a cabin that we don't know who the owner is or where it is even?  Really!  All it says on the back is 'This is where we live, look at all the big pine trees we have".  Really!  Note to self:  Label all photo uploads so a stranger could figure them out.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Speaking of allergies

They decided to kick in big time today.  Right in the middle of lunch I start with the sneezing, itchy eyes and throat, runny nose.   I sound like an ad for allergy meds,   What a pain.

So, two calls come in succession

Neither one is anyone I want to talk to.  One number does not come up with a name in caller id.  I did a google search and many people have an issue with this #.  When they try to call it back - they get a 'mailbox full' message.  Someone says the $ used to belong to the DNC.  Sounds Plausible.  The next call shows up as XX for Congress.  

I hate "voting" season.   I'm not a phone person in normal times, I definitely am not one when all the calls coming in are begging for $.  The politicians should get a clue.  The economy is in the tank - we have no $ and what we do have will go to races close to home - not across the country.  Just because I signed your petition or received your newsletter - doesn't mean I can afford to pay for your campaign.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

So, 2012 is not starting out all that well.  Have been bothered with allergies this past week, thanks to all kinds of things growing due to the rain and warm weather.  Started getting worse on the 1st.  Now today, I went to the dentist to get a cavity filled and a new crown on that tooth.  When the crown came off, it looked like a root canal was in order.  The dentist was flummoxed.  Could not figure out how on earth I got a cavity where this one was.  Turned out after grinding for the fix - he found the game changing issue.  The tooth had fractured below the gum (and crown) line.  There is no way to save this tooth - so off with a temp filling and a referral to a periodontist to get an implant.  :-(
    Since it is a new year, I decided to try something new.  A blog.  Since I have a lot of interests but am not sure I want to stick specifically to one of them (and since I have no followers to direct me :-)  I think I will just remark on things that are in my mind.

    For example, have you ever thought that there should be a giant billboard outside of all malls proclaiming:  "Honey, just because they make it in your size, doesn't mean you should wear it!"?  I figure that since I have been around long enough and been enough different sizes (none of them actually the "right" size) I can be honest on this topic and not worry about being politically correct :-)