Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Hospitals Reprised

Around 6 a.m. this morning Hubby had a bleed into his brain.  The ENT (ear, nose, throat) doc saw him about an hour later but didn't realize what was happening.  His report is that Hubby has a serious mass (not a tumor but some kind of infection) in his lower throat pushing on his vocal cords.  Surgery was / is still scheduled for 12:30 tomorrow to drain it.  When I arrived I began making all kinds of noises about this not being the Hubby I left at 6 p.m. last night (teach me to go home and try to catch some rest).  I had missed the ENT guy but soon others began to arrive and our primary care physician and our floor nurse listened to me about my rising concerns about Hubby's condition.  So ordered a CAT scan when Hubby finally offered up that he had a terrible pain in his head.  He was less than alert and got more and more "cloudy" as the morning wore on.  A STAT order for the CAT showed the bleed and the upshot is that Hubby is now in the ICU with thoughts that he may need to be intubated to make sure he can breath and swallow.  Right now they are inserting a PIC line in his upper arm to help deliver the meds.  The bleed did not initially look serious enough to require surgery but could be handled with clotting drugs -- which is the double edged sword when dealing the heart patients who throw blood clots into their lungs if their blood is not thinned. 

The mental condition of Hubby is what's so very scarey right now.  Hopefully we caught the bleed quickly enough to ensure a full recovery.  Prayers, please. 

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


I haven't given up on the blog but Hubby is back in our local hospital.  It's not heart related this time for which I'm very grateful.  He has been having trouble speaking, swallowing, and sometimes breathing for the last four years.  Also lots of problems with foods that aren't soft.  The last two weeks have been especially bad -- to the point where I thought he truly was in congestive heart failure.  But the pacemaker is still doing the job and the heart is beating fine. 

Yesterday the ER took lots of history and did a scope of his esophagus which was clear except for some polyps which they biopsied.  But he was having real trouble gathering breath after he had swallowed some aspirin so they determined it was time to look more intensely.  He was admitted -- on Labor Day rooms in the heart ward were scare so he got himself the VIP suite (very plush) -- and today they have CAT scanned and done a swallow test and scoped some more.  Maybe tomorrow we will know more. 

He was NPO (nothing by mouth) from 8 a.m. yesterday until 5 p.m. today so he happily downed the banana I got him from the cafeteria before I left for home.  He is only being given thin liquid and soft foods right now so he is pretty unhappy, laying about and NOT eating.  He announced that tomorrow "I'm going home, I don't care what they say," so we've had the encouraging talk which I think he completely ignored.  However, they don't keep you in the hospitals now unless they need to -- so I truly imagine he is coming home tomorrow. 

It's depressing sitting in hospital rooms 12 hours a day.  I'm not staying with him at night -- he's not in a precarious position, just miserable, and the dogs need to see a human at least for a bit each day. 

Peace out -- until we have some good news to share (or maybe just news).  M. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Acturally reading -- a book!

In my marathon TV watching of the 1990's series Reba and Murphy Brown, my brain (after a second miserable round of eliminating mood enhancement drugs from my system) suddenly said, "Hey, stupid, maybe you might actually enjoy reading a good book.  Not just a ladies magazine or a People-type magazine, but a real book."

Earlier in the summer I had optimistically ordered several Kindle books that promised (from their reviews) a good old-fashioned wallow in literature.  I had just never had the ambition to crack their spines, so to speak (Kindle books don't have spines, of course).

Earlier in the summer I had devoured Robert Galbraith's (AKA J. K. Rowling) The Cuckoo's Calling but after that my reading had been relegated to fluff -- or absent all together in favor of marathon TV reruns.  But yesterday I actually finished Elizabeth Gilbert's (of the Eat, Pray, Love fame) The Signature of All Things:  a Novel.  Granted, I found it tough going in spots and all the scientific philosophizing had me out of my depth but I read the entire 501 pages and can recommend it to my friends who care about botany or how Darwin came up with his theories.  It's a family saga, supposedly, not a mystery (my favorite genre) and nobody really has a happy ending -- but that's life, yes?  Gilbert can tell a good yarn and she is so very smart that all through the cataloging of mosses and orchids, one is mesmerized by how much she knows about such things. 

Now I'm finally ready to delve into the new Charles Todd (I've read EVERYTHING by this mother / son writing team) World War I novel, A Duty to the Dead which is a Bess Crawford Mystery and, based on past history, I probably won't emerge until the novel is finished. 

Brief update on the med situation:  the second round of pills was no better than the first.  Now we're ready to try round 3 with the adviso, that if this doesn't work, we are out of options.  Also last week, Hubby decided that big shiny steel machines at the Y was the just the things we HAD to try, so we went and I tried and was fine on the simpler machines, like the recumbent step, but then I moved on to something with weights and pulleys and back bends and spent all last Friday laid up in bed, moaning and groaning.  Now we've added in the muscle relaxers.  Hurray for good meds!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

It's the meds fault

The new pills, to help me gain energy and feel happier, kicked my butt big time.  Last Wednesday I slept  four hours in the morning, three hours in the afternoon, four hours after supper which was a can of soup, and then slept all night long.  This from a woman who is going to the doctor because she can't sleep.  Thursday was worse.  When ever I stood up I had to sit back down.  I slept all day and all night, and then most of Friday.  However, on Friday I was smart enough NOT to take any more of the new meds.  By Saturday I was able to go with Hubby to the movies which was fun -- we saw The Expendables.  Then on Sunday to dinner (at Denny's, no less) and back to the movies to see the highly recommended Guardians of the Universe which we hated.   This was actually the sum of my activities for the entire week.  Oh, I did make Hubby some tuna salad.  Otherwise, I watched TV and slept. 

On Monday I was finally able to go back to water aerobics but still felt pretty out of it.  I also had an acupuncture treatment for my knees Monday afternoon.

Today Hubby picked me up at 1:00 and we went over to the Y to actually workout on machines.  It had become clear that Hubby was desperate to try all the iron equipment in the gym but wasn't willing to go without me, so I finally dressed myself up in workout gear -- that means real athletic shoes instead of my swim shoes -- and we trudged over.  The only machine I could manage -- and like at the same time -- was the recumbent step machine.  I tried the bikes but they were too high and I tried the knee presses but they were too complicated.  The recumbent step machine was comfortable -- and slow -- and nobody was on it because, well, it's recumbent, comfortable, and slow -- and according to it I used up 5 calories before I burst into flames and had to get off -- meaning, I began to sweat. 

The doctor has just called and announced I should stop talking the horrible medication -- you think?  But she also sent out a script for something else to try.  We'll see what happens this week. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Bad news

Yesterday I could understand why my sister-in-law explains every Christmas that she does not watch the news; it's just too depressing.

Tony Stewart ran down a 21 year old kid -- mistake or not -- and killed him after he had bumped the kids car off the track.

Stewart and his 21 year-old victim
 Michael Brown, an unarmed 18 year old, was shot and killed in the St. Louis area. 

Brown's mom
 Ferguson, MO erupted after his death with rioting and looting that has lasted for two night.

Teens in St. Louis demonstrating for the police -- Don't shoot!  I surrender! 
 President Obama goes on TV to remind us that the bombing in Iraq will not solve the ISIS problem; the Iraqi prime minister refuses to step down and the power struggle in Baghdad grown worse.

Iraq -- again
 Finally, our muse, Robin Williams felt he could no longer overcome the ravages of depression and took his life at age 63.  I especially loved him in Mork and Mindy, The World According to Garp, What Dreams May Come, Bicentennial Man, Good Morning Vietnam, Good Will Hunting, Toys, Moscow on the Hudson, Dead Poets Society, and of course, Mrs. Doubtfire.  I happily watched every episode of his 2013 / 14 TV series, The Crazy Ones -- it was sweet and always ended with a good moral.  I was sad when I learned it had been canceled.  I know he screwed up his personal life and I can only imagine what that kind of rapid-fire mania his brain must have experienced -- but he brought such joy to his public.  He was a genius with a good heart and he brought us much happiness. 

It was a bad, sad day yesterday.  Today we try to correct the problems and recover from the grief. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

One new doctor; couple of new meds

Dr. Megan McMannus

When our GP moved on to private practice he recommended a woman doctor for us.  We met her early this morning, got a pretty clean bill of health -- all the old meds seemed to be working fine and I got a couple of new ones to try.

I liked the new doctor a lot; I think because she was a woman I was able to open up to her about a couple of personal and cosmetic issues I had ignored with our male GP.  Consequently, I had a three annoying skin tags removed and I got two new scripts and had a skin culture taken.  Hubby came off even better -- he was pronounced just fine and jim-dandy and nothing new was added to his health regime.  I'm not so sure he liked the new doc as well as the previous three men we have seen but maybe I needed the change, and since Hubby's doing so fine right now, I'm happy to be the center of attention.

Interactive Therapy was prescribed in continuing doses and I'm thrilled about that.  I have an appointment next Monday for more acupuncture and then the next day for massage and I can hardly wait.  You can't beat having a doctor you really look forward to visiting. 

I was the only "lab" rat today with blood drawn for a couple of small issues -- just to see how the new meds for the last three months from the Interactive Therapy had been working. 

We started out at 8 a.m. and were both back home by 9:30 -- including labs, skin-tag removal surgery, skin scrapings, and new scripts called in to the pharmacy.  That's a pretty productive morning. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday afternoon movie

After watching CBS Sunday Morning and ABC Sunday news and walking two doggies and heating up a couple of day-old donuts (from LaMars -- um, um good!), we headed out to our favorite cinemaplex to watch an old-folks film, The Hundred-Foot Journey staring Helen Mirren.

Our theater ($4.25 a ticket during daylight hours) usually shows the top movies but, the marginally intellectual or independent films come four to six weeks late, or sometimes never unless they are nominated for awards.  However, over the years the business end of the movie theater chain has begun to realize that us "older" folks have income to spend on movies if we're not being offered mutant turtles or blood stained vampires at every showing. 

Only three times were offered for the Mirren film while Guardians of the Universe had two separate theaters and shows offered every two hours.  I figured the 12:30 showing of our film produced by both Speilberg and Winfrey would be well-attended but we hadn't expected a sell-out.  Even the front rows were filled. 

The movie is fun and sweet at heart -- not great -- but full of family value pronouncements and lovely scenes of France.  Hubby napped a bit, especially during the intense foodie scenes, but on the whole, we both thought it was a very good film. 

That's two movies starring older actors and decent plots that we've enjoyed this summer.  The Michael Douglas / Diane Keaton movie, And So It Goes, honestly was better and funnier and it had some pretty good scenery too -- not France but lovely seacoast scenes. 

Maybe the movie industry is finally getting the message that money can be made with established stars and well-planned plots if we oldsters continue to attend these well-made movies with handsome but aging stars.  Can't beat a Sunday afternoon with popcorn, a big soda, and an engrossing film on the big screen -- and toss in Michael Douglas, Diane Keaton, or Helen Mirren and you've got yourself some "dreamboat" material.  

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Christmas shopping

In my youth we would hit the road by 8 a.m. and go until 3 or 4 p.m. to make sure we had hit all the garage sales in the area.  We'd go on Friday (when I was teaching and it was summer) and hit the ones we missed on Saturday.

For a time nearly everything in our house had been purchased at some garage sale or other.  The house filled up with stuff, a lot of things that needed dusting or were kitchen utensils that we used once-in-a-blue-moon.  Family and friends were pretty much in the same predicament.  Looking at other folks left-overs had lost its allure.

We stopped garage saling about eight years ago but every once in a while I'd get the urge and we hit a sale or two before I decided I didn't need anything else, especially something "used." 

This year I suggested to Hubby early one spring Saturday morning that we try a couple of sales for maybe half an hour.  We didn't last that long but we found a fun Christmas item to take to Houston for gifting.  We began to go out to the sales, probably twice a month, usually for less than an hour.  We bought some good used books and made a nice little heap of Christmas presents just for giggles in Houston -- nothing anyone would have to dust but could be put to interesting use. 

On my way to lunch with the Wyandotte retired ladies last Wednesday, I saw a sign for a neighborhood garage sale across the state line -- an area that had been pretty productive in the past.  We headed out about 9 a.m. this morning and managed just over 90 minutes before I was totally pooped from my efforts but we had a trunk full of some really great presents, mostly for the Houston crew.  All for under $10!  I'm probably going to have to spend more on the wrapping that I have on the actual gifts!

PS to my Houston family:  I promise not to bring down anything you will have to take care of or store!  Well, mostly not store, anyway.  So far everything I've acquired seems to be things you are currently using every day (or for entertaining). 

Friday, August 08, 2014

Love those naps

We dressed in our swimming suits and threw on shorts / shift over them and drove over the five blocks to the YMCA for our swimming class.  The parking lot at 9 a.m., always packed with cars, was nearly empty.  "Last minute vacations before school starts," we muttered to each other.

But as we got out of the pink Lincoln we were hailed by others who had already learned our pool was closed.  I had noted to Hubby on Monday that the water was getting a bit murky, especially in the "kids" area.  Then Wednesday we missed aerobics because I met with the Wyandotte Ladies Who Lunch (WLWL) for an early meal in Kansas City, KS.

Instead of swimming this morning we got me a Super Sonic Breakfast burrito from Sonic and I came home thinking I'd catch up on some of DVR TV shows.  One burrito and 20 minutes later I was sound asleep.

Now the salad has been made for lunch and the Sims 3 is booting on the tower and I'm feeling refreshed from "power" nap.  Hopefully next Monday the pool will be re-opened and fresh from cleaning -- but we have doctor's appointments to keep (we see the same GP so schedule together) and won't be among the active.  It's been quite some time since we had a break like this (over a week) from exercise.  We both miss it. 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

It's the company, not the food

This week my "old" school district is having teaching in-service in preparation for the start of school next week.  Two years ago when I retired, I met for lunch with a friend I had taught with and who had been retired for a year.  We kept expanding our list of attendees for our monthly get-togethers as more and more of our co-workers retired themselves.

Today we met at a very small, new BBQ joint in downtown Kansas City Kansas, sampled the brisket, ribs, and burnt ends, and shared how pleased we were to be able to go home from lunch and take a long nap.  Well, two of our group, actually sub for the district -- and being the fabulous teachers that they were (and are), they are often filling long-term sub positions.

I left home at 10:15, cruised my normal "to work" route from two years ago, and thanked my lucky stars that I had been given the gift of full-time retirement.  You can never tell if one day the economy may swing wrong and I find myself needing supplemental income, but right now I'm reveling in my freedom. 

The luncheon food was okay but visiting with the interesting ladies I had suffered the slings and arrows of educational devotion with was much better than the gustatory sensations.  I was feeding my soul and not my stomach. 

Here are some pictures from some of our previous lunches:

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Better than sex?

It was three weeks since my last massage which had worked such wonders (along with the acupuncture) on my knees that I had been skipping along pain free.  Until a week ago Saturday night when I caused the foot / toe damage by walking into the kitchen step stool.

When the staff at the therapy center asked, "How are you today," I answered with a long, sad face and a litany of my complaints -- I did manage to preface that I had felt better for a brief time than I had in 10 years.  But that had all but washed completely away.  "I feel like the last rose of summer," I summarized as I removed my tee and bra for the message.

The table was clothed in cool linens and this time the music was soft piano.  My masseuse is middle aged but her hands are soft, warm, and timeless.  She started with the misery that has been my right foot for the past week.  I was leery -- the foot hurts all the time and manipulating it wasn't going to make me happy.  At first it was slow and easy but then I began to twitch and jerk.  "I'm working on the tension, the sore spots, and some of this will also help the knees so I need you to breathe through it if you can."  So I did.

I had been having a headache for the last 24 hours and living on pain meds, even resorting to the stronger gout pain pills when nothing helped either the head or the foot.  Within five minutes the ache in my head eased.

She moved up to my back and then spent a lot of time kneading the knots out of my neck and shoulders.  When I turned over, she began with the left side of my body.  The ache in my right foot eased into a very manageable jolt now and again. 

Thirty minutes later and I felt, for the first time in days, relaxed and nearly pain free.

Before I left I made my appointment for two weeks hence -- to heck with this going once a month.  Like the Spike Lee movie proclaims, "She's Gotta Have It!"

Monday, August 04, 2014

Time for Friendship

In high school I had two friends I palled around with all the time but once graduation came we totally lost touch.  Each went a very different direction in their lives and we didn't maintain contact.  In college I had one bosom friend and that friendship lasted until I discovered she was a closet bigot with a mean streak and then she became my mother's bosom friend, and honestly, one of my worst enemies.  

My friendships with women don't seem to last.  I've had several in my adult years but they always petered out after a time.  I missed having women friends. 

Hubby and I have "couple" friends and I love them dearly, but they are not "girl" friends.  We don't shop together or have sleepovers or meet to share broken hearts.  We go to concerts and dinner and we help each other out in sickness and worse, but it isn't "girly" stuff.  

When I got a contract with the #3 telephone company in the 1990's to provide consulting services, I worked with three women, two of whom became "friends."  We lunched together and shared life stories.  We attended family funerals to give support.  Even when my contract ended, they remained e-mail and Facebook buddies. One of these ladies was my boss and a big-time executive at the #3 which honestly, kind of limited some of the interactions we could reasonably share.  She's one of the smartest, creative, and decent people I know and I'm thrilled that our friendship has outlasted our working time together.  She no longer lives in town but we meet, periodically, whenever she's visiting family here in Kansas City.  We share books and pictures of her travels and stories of the wonderful places she's lived and visited since her time in KC. 

The youngest of the women I came to admire at #3 was the friend that you know is your friend, even when you have long, long periods without contact.  The minute we resume our relationship, though, it's like we were never apart.  I honestly thought I'd never have a friendship like this one so late in my life, but I bless our time together, whenever our paths recross.

After I retired we promised each other we would meet monthly for dinner, catch up with our lives and family obligations, and just chill together.  We've done okay as long as her kids weren't getting married or moving across the world or my husband wasn't in the hospital.  Which means that actually we meet once every three or four months. 

Bristol Seafood Grill in Leawood
Lately she's been having a tough time with family obligations and some angst on the job so I've been trying to be more persistent in our finding time to be together.  Sunday we met half-way between our residences (she's suburb while I'm inner city) for brunch. 
It's rather an anomaly that we have a pretty decent seafood restaurant in land-locked KC but this place has a wonderful Sunday brunch with salmon, tuna, boiled shrimp, grits, crab souffle, lobster mac and cheese, prime rib, ham, sausage and eggs, waffles, an omelet bar, and a huge array of desserts (as well as breads and salads). 

We arrived at 11:30, filled our plates, and ate and talked -- for three hours.  It was a muggy, rainy day -- perfect for girl talk and delicious food.  We told each other things we don't talk about with others, we shared family stories, we relaxed and reveled in warm, intimate girl talk.   Yes, we made plans for later in the month but nothing that would stress either of us or feel like a commitment, especially in her over-committed life.  We even have plans for a "girl's get-away" which I'm especially looking to with great anticipation. 

The seafood buffet only

Lobster mac and cheese  


Ours is the one of the more perfect friendships -- we meet when we can without recriminations about lost time.  We understand the obligations we each have to meet and when they don't overwhelm us, we find time for each other.  With my track record of choosing the wrong women for friendships or ones where we honestly have little in common, I finally found a winner. 

Friday, August 01, 2014

The Gamer

As a kid my favorite toys were my paper dolls.  I had a huge carton where I kept all the clothing for the dolls but I only played with two of the actual dolls themselves.  One was designated for whichever friend had enough imagination to play paper dolls with me; my doll was always Susan Hayward.  It didn't matter that the clothes may have come from other dolls -- we would cut and alter to make them fit the dolls we were playing with.  We had hundreds of outfits to choose from and we could imagine lifestyles for our "girls" that were, to us, wildly exotic and full of adventure. 

Sometime around age 12 I gave up toys but I held on to my box of paper dolls even into adulthood.  Along with nearly all my childhood dreams, they were left behind when I finally moved out of my mother's house in 1973.  She gave everything of mine away to Goodwill as punishment so now I only had my memories of the fun I had with those paper dolls.  At least twice a year I check out paper dolls on the web but quickly realize that those days have long passed me by. 

Sometime around 2000, I found The Sims computer game and bought my first edition.  The fun was that no goals were set in playing the game, you simply created a "virtual" human (a Sim), built him or her a house, and made a life for the creature.  I loved building the houses and decorating them.  I loved creating huge wardrobes for my Sim.  I wasn't much into the actual living arrangements of my creation but there were plenty of cheats I could access to make sure that my Sim had enough money to buy the materials to create the perfect home and live the perfect life.  There was also a great community of creative folks out there making lots of additions to the game and the company that built the game (Maxis) kept adding new versions (Pets, University Life, Vacation Life, etc.) to ensure I spent plenty of money to keep my Sim current.

The only problem was that if you downloaded enough of the user creations eventually you would find one that would blow the game off your computer.  The number of times I had to reinstall The Sims games and then sort through which download had caused problems finally made the game nearly impossible.  Plus Electronic Arts gained control of the game and issued a new version of it -- Sims 2  which I didn't find those nearly as much fun to play.  Each addition to the game began requiring more and more computer memory and high-end graphics and I finally gave up my Sim life. 

Still, I always remembered just how much fun the original game had been, and just like my paper dolls of eras past, I wanted one more go at creating a perfect Sim.  Just as I retired I discovered that the original Sims game was free for download so I accessed it.  Most of the great user created objects / characters had now vanished so the game wasn't nearly as much fun for me. 

I began looking at Sims 3, a game I had never tried.  The game could be downloaded now -- initially you had to buy it by disk -- so I tried it out for the cheap price of around $20 for the original plus two other additions / worlds.  It can also be played interactively with others, but I'm much too much of a loner to want others messing around in my created worlds. 

My addiction began all over again and this time around EA (Electronic Arts) had noted the user created problems and retained control of the process through an Exchange that only put out items that were safe to install in your game. They now offer Sim dollars (which you have to purchase in $20 increments) that allow you to add more objects and worlds to your game, besides all the free downloads.

I currently have all the worlds and many of the upgraded venues.  My Sims creations are numerous, though I'm not exactly creative.  If I know you, you are probably in my Sim game, living in a palace filled with exotic furnishings and taking vacations to China, France, or India.  You might or might not have children, but you certainly have a pet -- a dog, a cat, a horse, or something only a Sim could create (like maybe a unicorn).  Nearly all my Sims have been to college and most have a degree.  You don't have extensive wardrobes like in the past but you live in the most grand creations that take hours of my time to build and decorate.  Most of you live by the sea, though mountains are plentiful, too.  You can travel to the future, snorkel in the ocean, live on a houseboat, and "woohoo" with the most popular Sim in the game. 

Instead of blogging I'm busy creating my own fantasy world, filled with only rich, educated, smart people living the grand life.  Incidentally,  EA is releasing Sims 4 in the fall.  I've actually had to have the conversation with Hubby about getting a more "graphic" computer, so I can continue my life of game playing.  Clearly this addition is not abating. 

Here is what Wikipedia says about The Sims:

The success of The Sims resulted in Guinness World Records awarding the series five world records in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008. These records include "World's Biggest-Selling Simulation Series" and "Best Selling PC Game of All Time" for the original The Sims game, which sold 16 million units, 100 times EA's original projection of 160,000 units.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Vanishing Poster

Just when I think I've finally decided to end this blog once and for all (because if you are only posting once a month -- or less -- you really aren't blogging!), I think about the 600+ previous posts that document the last eights years of my life and I just can't delete Milly's Muse.  All those posts about Hubby,the boys, employment, teaching, holidays with family and all of life's intervening events -- and I just can't let go.

So I made a new resolution.  These posts don't have to be long and I really can take pictures of my life -- I have two notebooks, a lap top, and a wonderful Canon camera, as well as the tower.  Like all the new phone applications I'm not all that quick at taking a decent shot, finding out where it's filed, editing it, and finally posting it -- but I CAN do this.  I can make posts out of pictures of my life and maybe that will teach me more about using the new media (which I seem to be resisting like crazy). 

Here's what has occupied me this week:

Funny how in this photo it doesn't look as bad as it has felt.  Saturday night I walked into the metal step stool that I have to use in the kitchen to retrieve objects from the kitchen cabinets that the crazy ladies who built this house put in at eight feet height.  The bruising goes right down the top of my foot (it's still green and very swollen) and covers the back side, too.  Walking has been quite problematic.  I missed water aerobics on Monday, went on Wednesday but had to hop around on one foot instead of really exercising.  I probably won't go on Friday.  The pain was been pretty incredible -- and that seems to make me very tired, so I take naps and then pain pills at night so I've slept a lot.

Oh, yes - Monday was our 36th wedding anniversary (41 years together).  Dear friends treated us on Sunday to a wonderful dinner of heaps of meat from here:

Jess and Jim's Steakhouse in Martin City
 And this is what we devoured:

Hubby had pork chops, I had steak and lobster tail, Nancy had prime rib, Debby and Lou each had steak!
Most of my informal posts are now on Facebook which I really enjoy.  Lots of my Paseo High School kids have become "friends" and it's fun to see how well they are doing.  I like the immediate feedback of the Facebook postings (however, I have no use for Twitter, yet) and feeling connected.  Here on the blog I just see that 40 people accessed this blog but only two left comments and I feel isolated.

Weather here in KC -- quite cool for the end of July.  School starts next week.  Gee, I'm pleased to be retired!  Here's to blogging tomorrow and meeting my newest resolution.  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday Feasting

Barbecue, corn on the cob, watermelon, fried chicken, potato salad, and sparklers:  this is connotative of  the 4th of July.

We met friends last weekend at a local famous fried chicken joint so that taste had been satisfied.  The potato salad and summer fruit was calling to me still.

Saturday we went to the local expensive market -- not a supermarket but a smaller independent grocery and I got a five pound bag of potatoes, a couple of potent onions, and two bone-in very thick pork chops (for $7.30 just for the chops), along with grapes, cherries, oranges, apples, and honey dew. 

After CBS Sunday Morning and ABC with George Stephanopoulos, or weekly Sunday TV fare, Hubby boiled the potatoes, pared them, added the onions and turned it all into a nice potato salad.  I broiled the pork chops in butter and garlic salt.

We feasted, gorging on the chops and sharing the bones with boys.  We were too full to even have the fruit for dessert.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Seeing Our GP Tomorrow

I grew up in the 1950's and came of age in the 1960's.  Since Hubby and I are visiting our GP tomorrow (for the last time with Dr. Patel since he is graduating and moving on to his own practice), I've been thinking how much patient treatment has changed throughout my life.

Of course I remember when doctors actually visited your house.  One memorable Christmas my mother got strep throat and the flu, and though she made it through the dinner and the gift giving, Grandmother called the doctor at his home at 5 p.m. and he came to our house to take her temperature and give her a shot.  On Christmas evening.  Into the house, right into the bedroom, and sat with the patient.  Then visited with the family and had a piece of mincemeat pie before he left.

The message, today, of course, is -- if this is an emergency call 911 and go to the hospital immediately.  Our clinic site runs an emergency clinic for walk-ins, because it usually takes five to fifteen days to get an appointment with your assigned doctor.  I made our appointments for tomorrow in May to make sure we would get to see Dr. Patel before he left "our health world" forever.

I don't remember we saw as many specialists, either.  I remember when I broke my elbow when I was 10. I was taken to St. Luke's hospital but both my mother and my grandmother consulted with the GP who then called in Dixon and Dively - the bone specialists of the city.  My arm had to be set under aesthetic because of the severity of the break but I wasn't kept in the hospital overnight.

However when I was 12, my appendix "went bad."  I had had several attacks over the summer but we hadn't recognized what was going wrong.  One Saturday morning in October my dad called upstairs asking why I had been vomiting since before dawn, and when I explained my tummy hurt and I kept throwing up, Mom took my temp and the doctor was called (at home).  Once he heard the symptoms I was again dispatched to St. Lukes and the appendix was removed before nightfall.

I stayed in St. Lukes for five days -- and loved every minute of my time there.  Grandmother and Grandfather paid for a private nurse -- anybody remember them? -- for me for the first two nights.  She was a fascinating creature with blood red nails and the most elaborate nurses cap perched on her long blond hair.  Remember those nurses caps and the starched uniforms?  My room was filled with roses and carnations and she spent most of her time prepping the flowers, because at 12 I mostly slept the nights away.  Finally, she told my grandparents they really didn't need an RN for a kid that really wasn't sick and she was released -- and I cried when she left.

My time in the hospital was filled with backrubs in the afternoon and before bed, ice cream treats in the afternoon and after dinner, and trays filled with food that I got to order myself.  I don't think I had a TV but the room was filled with books and craft materials -- brought in by my grandparents -- and folks waited on me hand and foot.  I was nearly hysterical on having to leave the hospital because I'd never been so pampered in my entire life.  My mother was hugely embarrassed and angry with me, claiming I made her look bad as a caregiver.  The entire nursing staff gathered round to hold my hand and assure me that if I got home and got sick, I could come back.  

Interestingly I don't remember ever having seen a doctor while in the hospital, but I must have.  I have no idea if I had a special surgeon or not; quite possibly the GP performed the surgery.

As a child I had an old fashioned pediatrician, Dr. Coward, well-known in the city.  I went to him until I was 12 -- probably right about the time of the appendectomy.  Then I transferred over to the the family's GP office.  I went to them until I got my first teaching job and my own insurance.

At age 20 I got a gynecologist because I had horrible menstrual cramps -- and the philosophy of the GPs was that once "you have a baby you will no longer experience this pain."  Nobody was ever able to solve the menstrual cramp problem, even when I finally found what I thought was the best gyno in the city -- and that pain got worse as I aged.  Then came the problem of infertility -- and finally we solved the whole shebang by removing the offending organs -- the best decision of my lifetime up until retirement.

I spent a lot of time with Total Health Care from Blue Cross and Blue Shield -- and grew to depend on them for full payment of all my health needs.  My gynecologist became my primary physician and for 18 years he dictated my health care.  I saw him usually every three months, sometimes (like during the infertility treatments) more often.  He managed to see me naked nearly as often as my husband.

When I quit teaching in 1990 I spent some years without "real" health insurance, paying my way through whatever treatments were "desperately" needed.  My gall bladder was removed the hard way -- cutting me in half and leaving a scar that transects my entire body.  I had kidney stones that I managed to pass without invasive treatment -- OHHH the pain!   When in pain I got pills; when in distress I got pills; when depressed I got pills; when the flu fell me I got pills.

During these years doctoring seemed to changeradically.

Now I can't seem to get pills for much of anything, though that said, I'm taking more "holistic" meds than I ever thought reasonable.  My current GP has never seen me undressed.  I can communicate with him personally only through email and then he will call me after a week or so has passed.  I can call his office and talk to his nurse and SHE talks to him and then SHE calls me back.

It's actually an okay system.  I'm not the sick one in our family and Hubby has been taken care of beautifully and on point.  He has never been denied help -- and only once was I thoroughly put off that, as he was going into congestive heart failure, it wasn't identified in the GP's office.

It's the emergency room techs who get the real credit, though.  They are the ones on the front line that handle our emergencies, they diagnosis and admit us to the hospital, they call for the tests -- and then they notify our GP and consult.  They hold my hand when I'm terrified for Hubby and they tell me if I should be worried, terrified, or just "go on about my business."

I'm sure that nurses are much more comfortable without those starched uniforms and caps of my youth -- and they can certainly do a lot more work in pants and scrubs.  I don't really want or need my doctor to make a home visit.  I'm actually delighted that Dr. Patel will not have a memory of a naked Milly on his exam table and since my lady parts are mostly departed and I'm reaching really old age, I'm sure he's as delighted.
I would like it to be easier to get pills to soothe the troubled spirit but I understand why they are not so readily dispensed these days.  It would be nice to get an appointment more quickly or not have to go through the clinic nurses to get info from the doctor, but if the system works for them I'm not bucking it.

Times have changed and we have to go along with the flow.  Your doctor won't smoke a cigarette during your exam or recommend you have a cocktail before dinner and a tranquilizer after. Instead she'll suggest you put flax meal on your rice and lentils. You won't get a script for diet pills but a recommendation for a 30 minute walk after every meal.  The memory of those hospital backrubs and late afternoon treats linger, of course, but hospitals are not for relaxing and resting any longer.  Now you go to the spa for your rubdowns -- and your insurance simply won't cover it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Silver Sneakers helps make retirement a joy!

I never thought, living in the landlocked heartland, that I would start my retirement days in a lovely pool of warm water.  But I am doing just that and it is the very best thing about retirement.

Three days a week, at 9 a.m. Hubby and I do water aerobics at our neighborhood YMCA.

We get to go swimming free through the Silver Sneakers program.  If you are over 60 and NOT a member, please check with your insurance carrier NOW! Coventry, AARP, Humana all offer the Silver Sneakers program.  It is a free membership and once you have your card, you are entitled to so many activities.  The only one we use is the FREE membership to the Y which is an all inclusive membership, allowing us to partake of all the Y activities, including water aerobics as many times a week as we choose.  This is a huge benefit for retired folks on a fixed income and all it took was a call to Coventry and our membership cards were in the mail.  We took those cards to the Y and got our free memberships from them.

The 8 a.m. aerobics class is more athletic but it is just too early for me so Hubby agreed to the 9 a.m. which is more for the really old and arthritic, which actually is Hubby (arthritic -- not really old).  The water temp is nearly always perfect, the pool is well maintained, even with lots of use throughout the week, and the participants are diverse and friendly.

These are actual shots of the pool in which we work out.  

On Mondays and Wednesdays the babies come in at 9:30 for "swimming lessons" -- mostly just splashing in the pool and learning pool-side safety (no running, no jumping, etc.).  Us olders love to watch the tots as they, either with great glee or fearful wonder, explore the shallow end of the pool. It's hard for us to maintain our focus on our own workouts.  On Friday the mentally handicapped children come at 9:30 and it is just as joyful to watch them whoop and clap as soon as they see the water.  

However, the 8 and 9 a.m. hours for the pool are NOT open to the public and we oldsters doing aerobics have the whole, huge pool for our enjoyment, except for the 9:30 classes.  

My personal well-being is greatly enhanced with my "communication" with the water; I love being in the pool and every day we go is a better day for having spent an hour exercising in my "rejuvenation juice."  I thought my swimming days were behind me but life has handed me a lovely surprise and I'm very grateful.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Oooh, my aching head

Since 1968 I've had a headache.  That's when I remember it as a long term event, anyway.  Having my first "career" job,  I would climb out of bed at 6 a.m. and dash to the kitchen for a swig of diet Pepsi and two aspirin -- every morning.  Usually that would last me until bedtime. 

Around 1975 Hubby introduced me to Vanquish, a form of aspirin high in caffeine.  By then I'd realized that caffeine had the ability to keep the headache at bay, even though most people believe it causes headaches.

The thing is, I've never had a migraine -- or at least what most folks describe as migraines.  I don't see auras, I don't throw up, I don't have to lie down -- I simply have an ache in my head.  Mostly it's not even worth calling it a pain and usually two Vanquish when I climb out of bed sets me up for the day, especially since I've been retired.

By the time I quit teaching I was taking the Vanquish a ridiculous amount of times a day -- but it also seemed to help the arthrtis aches, as well, so I wasn't especially worried.  Once I quit pounding concrete floors and feeling stressed out, the headache lessened enough to need only 2 capsules in the morning.   

I don't tell my doctors about the headache but I do list the Vanquish on my list of meds that I take daily.  Most doctors have suggested that Tylenol might be a better solution but that simply doesn't work for me - ever, not even for the smallest pain or ouchie. I believe I could swallow a whole bottle, and except for getting sick to my tummy, I wouldn't touch a single ache.  

The lit says that Vanquish is actually an aspirin/acetaminophen caplet with two buffers and a heap of caffeine.  Anacin is supposed to be its equivalent, but for me it doesn't come close.  Of course this may be all in my head (like the headache) but it could also relate to the extra dose of caffeine in the Vanquish.  

My new physician, Dr. Parvin, of the Center of Integrative Therapy, is the first person to question why I take Vanquish every day -- rather than just try to substitute something for it (or ignore it all together).  I told her about the headache so my last acupuncture was actually to relieve "headache" - as was my last massage.  Parvin also suggested some alternatives to the Vanquish but she actually realized my resistance and reliance on the medication, and said, "Okay, take two in the morning -- yes, every morning -- but try to limit intake after that."

Bless her.  

The headache is still there -- for me it really feels like one long stretch of minor "ache" since 1968.  I can't remember a time I didn't have it in some degree of strength.  I've been diagnosed with a pretty severe case of TMJ so that probably contributes but my jaws never, ever ache and I'm NOT wearing that mouth guard they hand out (I'm sure I could NOT breathe with it in my mouth -- even if I could I'm SURE I couldn't).  When I had severe allergies the headache was worse but then three years of allergy shots really helped during the 1980's.  

High humidity days also seem to make the headache worse.  As well, of course, as lack of sleep.  Lately I've developed a brand new sleeplessness -- I don't sleep at all at night and I stumble through the morning like a zombie.  Then, in the afternoon, if I sit down to read or watch TV I fall asleep sitting up.  So the following night I repeat the pattern -- up all night, zombie-like all day.  

This morning the headache was a pounding, nasty deep pain in the front of my head.  I've had the two Vanquish but I can tell that this is probably a six Vanquish day -- if not eight.  Napping won't help -- it will only keep me up longer tonight when I do finally try to sleep.  Sometimes, if the headache is really severe (and this actually quite rare -- probably like most people who get a pounding head once in a while), laying still in a dark room may help.  

Otherwise, you just grin and bear it -- and be very grateful that Bayer keeps producing Vanquish.  I can't find it in the stores these days (it was popular only during the 1960's and '70's) -- but I can order it in bulk on-line.  I get a case a year of the stuff, delivered right to my door.  It's salted in all my purses, pockets, and travel bags.  It's probably a case of "if you believe," the pain will abate.  The 40 year headache may not go away but it can be ignored and most of the time, actually not noticed.  

Like the "bad" back pain, the headache is just something I've learned to live with and accept.  Interesting the things we are willing to accommodate - and those we find totally unacceptable.  Being retired, this lack of sleeping at night is probably really not so problematic.  I could actually sleep anytime I really wanted to -- but THIS problem I want solved.  I don't even mention the back or the head to my doctors; I only complain about the sleeplessness. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Hero Dies

She said:  When you learn, teach, when you get, give."

And she did.

We sing her praise and remember her with gratitude.

Maya Angelou's body died today - but her spirit lives in us all.  She IS our teacher. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Kim and Kayne Got Married

The nuptials between Kim Kardashian and Kanye West was really all the world seemed to acknowledge this Memorial Day weekend but in our little part of the world we had a quiet birthday / remembrance celebration by staying at home.

We picked up barbecue from Gates ("Hi, May I help you?") late Sunday morning -- just before the rush hit the restaurant; they always have a crowd on the summer picnic holidays.  It was beef and a half sandwiches for us both with fries for Hubby and potato salad for me.  The sandwiches were big enough to feed two starving Schnauzers and two adults for both Sunday dinner and supper. 

Hubby offered either fried chicken from Stroud's or steak and baked potato from Jess and Jim's in Martin City for a more formal celebration, but I just wasn't feeling it (the new vitamins are sort of playing havoic with my digestive track).  Dinner at home without underwear sounded so sweet so we went for it.

Hubby had gotten me a small chocolate cake from the fancy Swiss bakery just up from the Plaza, Andres, and a box of their handmade chocolates.  We completed our lazy Sunday afternoon bathed in a chocolate glow. 

I got the small box - the big one costs a fortune!
Hubby happily watched Cannon, the Love Boat, and Rockford Files on ME TV (he's become hooked on any shows from the 1960's and '70's) and I read my Kindle.  We didn't have a jet set party but we did have a nice, quiet celebration at home. 

how to party withOUT your underwear!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Winning, little by little

I freely admit, even though I'm vastly overweight, I will NEVER go on a diet again.  I've tried all the fad stuff in the 1970's, even used those diet pills.  I was clearly on speed and I acted like it but I did lose the weight, faster and easier than I thought possible.  But those nasty little pills screwed up my head and changed my personality so when I re-gained the weight after I stopped the pills and began eating again, I found I couldn't stand what they did to me when I tried them yet again. 

In the 1980's I went on the Nutrisystem diet.  I hated every single m minute of it but, again, I stuck with the program and lost 60 pounds in three months.  What? you say.  Didn't you know that you wouldn't keep the weight off losing like that? 

Here's the thing, though -- fat people, at least this fat person, deeply believes in all the diet hype and that suffering is the only way to actually lose weight.  I was miserable the entire three months I stayed on Nutrisystem and felt more and more deprived with every passing day.  Seeing the pounds fall off did not alleviate the misery. 

Nutrisystem gives you prepared meals that you eat three times a day and twice you are allowed snacks (a sliced cucumber in the afternoon and one of their own snacks like a brownie after dinner).  The meals were so tiny that I always felt starved.  I can remember licking the box I had nuked the meal in to make sure I had gotten every last morsel.  Also, the food tasted really bad.  You ate it only because you were so very hungry. 

The Nutrisystem food plies your system with lots of preservatives but no starch or fat.  For me, all this weird eating eventually caused my gall bladder to belly-up (now this is a known problem with the diet -- but then I had no idea the problems I was causing myself -- after all, slimmer people are healthier, right?). 

Just as you suspected, the minute I stopped eating Nutrisystem food I regained all the weight and a few pounds more just for good measure.  That was when I announced to the family and Hubby that I was no longer going to diet.  If the weight caused me to drop dead five years earlier than expected, that was just five years of dollars that I wouldn't need for my retirement benefits. 

I tell all my doctors that I'm not going to diet.  The woman physician I saw when I was teaching was aghast and kept telling me all the horrors that awaited me as I aged at this weight.  I never bothered to explain to her that I'd had misery after misery on diets and always, eventually failed, so her litany of problems just washed over me.  My current GP, Dr. Patel, has patiently tried to introduce better habits a little at a time.  He champions the water aerobics and he's pleased that I walk the dogs once a day while he tries to persuade me that a walk with the boys after every meal would increase all our happiness, both the boys and me. 

At the Interpretive Center I've been clear that I am not going to diet.  However, I did agree to add in some of the fresh veggies and fruits every day, even if what I was really eating for a meal was Fritos (it's not sweets that call me -- it's the crunchy, salty stuff).  I'm also gun-ho for the seafood portion of the meals, like shrimp -- except I put a lovely cream sauce on mine.  I'm just not telling the doc about that. 
Today's lunch was a scoop of cottage cheese, a stalk of fresh broccoli, a cucumber sliced and marinated in my grandmother's sweet / sour dressing (onions, vinegar, sugar), a scoop of Hubby's apple / orange / honeydew fruit salad, and a small plate of Spanish rice made with some hamburger (from Hubby's diabetic cookbook).  I enjoyed every mouthful and at the end, I was actually fully satisfied.  I didn't even need a cheese cracker or a Frito (all of which I do have in the house -- because, like Scarlett O'Hara, as God is my witness I am never going to go hungry again!).

I picked up the pills from the script for the vitamin D (10 drams) today and the vitamin B complex and melatonin have arrived in the mail.  Tomorrow I will begin adding in the new meds into my daily regime.  We did water aerobics this morning and the water felt fine.  I'm having a lot more pain because I'm off nearly all the pain meds but my mood has not suffered accordingly and I'm withstanding my bum knees pretty well (though at water aerobics the instructor asked what was wrong when I tried to pull my knee behind me and grab my ankle -- good gravy it hurt!). 

For the moment -- and I know this is all new so therefore exciting -- all systems are "go!"  I'm not counting the days or the calories or the pounds; everything is based on improving my mood and feeling more positive about life -- and finally getting a good night's sleep. 

In case I need some dessert