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» Sunday, September 03, 2023From Pain to Pleasure
Poor James—he came down with a thump late Tuesday. Monday after the supposed dose of steroids during his surgery he had no pain at all and was walking tall and easily until bedtime. He even forgot his cane several times because he really didn't need it. Tuesday he had a little pain, but was doing okay. Wednesday the pain came back with a vengeance, especially after we went to physical therapy. Karen didn't have him do any arm exercises; just leg and hip and he was pretty miserable that evening, even though he told me he was "okay" at Publix. Thankfully, this let up a little by the end of the week and we could go on to have some fun.
One other doctors' appointment this week: his Procrit shot. Apparently it's raising his iron levels well. And he got some comfort food: after doing the shopping we picked up chicken and dumplings from Cracker Barrel.
» Monday, August 28, 2023The Surgery
Our day started at five a.m.
» Sunday, August 27, 2023Buffets and Benson (With or Sans Stabler)
Another week of chores. The big event was eating at the new buffet on Austell Road, the Atlantic Buffet, which bills itself as a Chinese/American/Mexican buffet. It was pretty good. We went on a Friday so there was a lot of seafood (I ate lots of shrimp and paid for it the next day). They had sushi, a hibachi grill, and then various Chinese dishes. The "Mexican" was a little rectangle of space with taco shells and various fillings. The "American" appears to be cheese pizza and lasagna and mac'n'cheese. Most of what we ate was okay and not all that salty, and I enjoyed it because they had steamers as part of the seafood and also coffee ice cream in the ice cream freezer (with the desserts they also had grasshopper pie).
But this place took over the old Golden Corral which has been closed for ages, and they announced the Atlantic Buffet "coming soon" for so long that we figured they were doing a thorough cleaning out. What a surprise to pretty much find out that it looks like the old Golden Corral setup, with minor modifications, and the old ripped up vinyl sofa that was there when GC closed was still there! I did like some of the food but the "remodel" was thoroughly disappointing. However, lots of working class folks in there for a big hearty meal.
Watching the Futurama revival on Hulu. Some funny stuff, but it seems to have lost its edge.
I've also been watching Law & Order: SVU from the beginning because of how people rave about it, and also curious about the fervent Benson/Stabler shipping. It's a completely different show from what it is now, which basically seems to revolve around Olivia Benson, more of an ensemble drama the first two seasons, and then as seasons three and four go on, more stories revolve around Benson and Stabler. Everyone's always on about John Munch (Richard Beltzer's character), and yet he has less and less to do each season, and seems to hang around just to make a pithy remark or offer some kind of conspiracy theory. Once in a while he gets a chance to shine. Same thing with Fin...they sort of toss him in every so often. I guess I still haven't reached the point where you start seeing this "thing" between Benson and Stabler. They don't even seem to have the rapport Goren and Eames had reached by second season.
I'll tell you though, after four or five of these in a row, the show is very depressing! Probably why we never watched the first time around!
» Sunday, August 20, 2023No More Squeaks the Hard Way
It's been a mixed-bag week.
The most fun thing this week was Ron Butler's birthday party at O'Charley's. There was a big crowd including a bunch of people from the other side of town who we don't usually see that often.
James got a new office chair this week. His old one had a cracked base and made the most dreadful squeaks and creaks when he sat in it. It's a nice chair, but it was hell and a half to put together. The holes that the screws went into to fasten the armrests to the seat and the back (which hold the seat and the back together) did not have screw grooves all the way through. So the screws kept getting cross-threaded. It took us a half hour to get eight screws into the holes, one of them never went in properly but is holding anyway, and James had to hold the chair back and seat in place while I pushed the screws in—one person could not have assembled this chair.
However, it's so nice now not to hear that chair screaming!
James had a good checkup with Dr. Shash (cardiologist) on Tuesday, and then we went to Trader Joe's. Pumpkin spice is already appearing on the shelves!
I also picked up my 2024 calendar for next year. Alas, no more lighthouse calendars from Jot.
» Sunday, August 13, 2023Too Hot and Taking Cover
The heat has been relentless, in the mid- to high 90s. We have not even been going out to do the shopping regularly, but stopping at Lidl on the way home from James' physiotherapy and then stopping at Publix erratically. It means staying inside, but it's better than not being able to breathe properly and having burning skin.
Our only respite was Saturday, when James went to his club meeting. I followed him there to make sure he made it in okay—he told me he leaves when the other guys leave, so if he does fall, there is someone there to help him and call for help if needed, and he won't be out there lying in the heat—and then I went to Book Nook, but it was closed, so I went on to Walmart and then to Sam's Club next door. Got the most delicious-looking steaks and pork chops at the latter, both under $3/pound.
For supper we went to The Tomatoes Buffet (formerly Fried Tomato Buffet) and then went to Barnes & Noble. We stayed a lot longer than usual because as soon as we got into the store the skies opened. For several minutes the rain was coming down horizontally! Talk about Georgia Monsoon Season.
» Sunday, August 06, 2023The End of One Thing and the Beginning of Another
Several good things happened this week.
The big primary was that the chair lift got installed. They removed the railings on the stairs and then set it up. I don't know why, but I didn't realize it was going to be installed on the stairs; for some reason I thought it would hang from the studs in the wall. Now that I look at it, it being in the studs in the wall wouldn't make sense.
We also closed out the HOA post office box. There's no HOA anymore, so there's no use in having a post office box any longer. Thank goodness, no more trips to the post office for all that crap. Now to get the water turned off out front; in seventeen years we've never watered the lawn out there.
We also finished watching all of season one of Dark Winds. Outstanding! Waiting for season two to finish so we can watch that.
Did a bunch of chores this week, and worked on a piece of fanfiction.
» Sunday, July 30, 2023In Between Life Events
In opening news, the leg is looking better. There are still two small raw spots, one about a quarter of an inch around, another smaller. Still treating with MediHoney as it seems to work the best. You can tell the leg was swollen from the fall because of the skin now peeling off.
The weather has been terribly hot; despite this, we've had to venture out into the sun. It actually makes your skin sizzle, or at least it feels to me as if my skin is sizzling. This week we checked out the Lidl on Whitlock Road and noticed a restaurant next door called the Hoboken Cafè that I remember has been written up in Cobb Life magazine. We had lunch there on Friday with Alice and Ken, who have been juggling their own problems: Ken was at Urgent Care yesterday for high blood pressure. I had a great meatball sandwich! Afterward we tooled our way to Walmart for needed items.
James wanted a new keyboard on Saturday, so we went to MicroCenter, and got Zaxby's on the way home because they had two-for-one wings. Except I never got the discount, and I was rather pissed.
And today we made the monthly pilgrimage to Books-a-Million. Not happy with the way they've remodeled; like Barnes & Noble they have ditched a lot of books in favor of toys; you should see all the Funko Pop figures! I still bought a bunch of books, two remainders and three rom-coms and a Nathaniel Philbrick book about George Washington. Next it was lunch at Uncle Maddio's, and finally we went to BJs.
Tomorrow the chair lift(s) get installed. So here we go...
» Tuesday, July 25, 2023What We Discovered...
That line was supposed to be the end of the blog entry "Our Ten Days at Urgent Care." So it has been placed there. Go back, read it, and return. (I feel like Wil Wheaton on The Ready Room.)
So, anyway, on the evening of July 7, James had this terrible-looking scarlet scrape in the middle of his lower right leg, like the skin was flensed right off a big triangle, after his fall on the stairs. It looked even worse than the horrible blister he had on his foot and blisters on his leg after they couldn't put the compression sock on his left leg due to the foot infection in December 2020. I treated it with ointment/Medihoney for two days, and then sent off a message to Greta Agnew at the wound clinic. How should I treat this? I asked. Medihoney? Antibiotic ointment? Xeroform sheets? Should we come in?
God bless Greta. She responded the next day; told me to swath it in Xeroform (it's embedded with Vaseline; she told me to add Vaseline if I had to and make sure the wound was kept moist) and she had Byram Healthcare send us more Xeroform and also huge nonstick bandages 10x10 embedded with some other kind of medication, and said if it got worse shoot her a note and she'd get us an appointment. He's been on this since about maybe the 12th, and around the 20th I was seriously considering sending her another message—I also, without instruction, put Medihoney on it at least three days to draw out the excess fluid and Mupirocin ointment on it about three times because I was worried about infection—and I finally realized last night that, by God, it did actually look like it was really healing.
I'm crossing fingers that it actually completely heals.
» Sunday, July 23, 2023All Around the Neighborhood—and the Dialysis Pitch
So Monday morning I find Pam next door outside raising hell.
They have been painting different color warnings all over our end of the street for over a week because Spectrum was supposed to come through to bury a cable. Now I know you can't do a damn thing about utilities digging near the curb, the "the first three feet (or whatever) belongs to the city" thing. But we've had cables buried before; they basically dig a slit into your lawn and slip the cable between it; the lawn grows and you never notice again. They buried our fiber line when we had it installed; I can't tell where anymore.
But apparently, according to Pam, they were going to dig up the actual lawn, and here basically is where my charity stopped. She kept running out there to make sure they didn't topple over her mailbox, and I spent the afternoon in the foyer writing on my laptop with the front door open and the fan on me to make sure no one invaded our lawn. They did dig up the lawn of the guy next door to Pam (the House With the Red Door) and Tony's lawn beyond that (although I have to admit they did a fairly good job of putting the sod back down, it was still a mess out there).
On Tuesday James and I finally installed a couple of hand railings I got off Amazon Vine for free on the lower staircase. They're supposed to be shower handles, but they're nice looking, chrome with black handles, and after going crazy finding the studs (we have two stud finders, both giving us different results) and avoiding the metal supports at the corners of the walls and breaking one drill bit (me), it took about three hours, but we got 'em secured. Of twelve screws, we got eleven in the studs and only one in a wall anchor, and we used deck screws instead of the ones that came with the railings. I find myself using them, so it's worked out well.
We also have a date for the stairlift installation: July 31. I told James we'll have to name it "Harry." (July 31 is Harry Potter's birthday.)
This was the first year we haven't gone to the Hallmark Ornament premiere on opening day (James was too busy getting Libertycon memberships), so we went on Wednesday. All I got was the St. Joseph ornament, and James got this year's airplane and also the little Fisher-Price mini airplane for the tree. I found a sweet gift for Juanita's birthday there, too.
And, by God, The Avenue at West Cobb Barnes & Noble did have the new "Yankee."
Thursday James had another iron shot scheduled, so we went for that, then went down to the pharmacy to pick up his prescriptions. The nurse came to shag us down because we had to go back upstairs and listen to the Kidney Counselors for an hour. Not to be rude, guys, but we've done this already. They are sure prepping us for dialysis. They also told us that to keep Dr. Kongara, we would have to drive to Kaiser's Cascade facility three days a week. If we went to DaVita (we have one five minutes down the street) or one of their other clinics, we'd have to be at the mercy of their nephrologist. Oh. Joy.
Interestingly, they also told us that now you can do hemodialysis at home; you just have to have room for the equipment and I'd have to be willing to learn how to "plug him in" and do the sterile techniques. What fun.
Friday we had Hair Day—always good to talk with friends—and then James had a video appointment with Dr. Kongara. More dialysis talk; his numbers must be terrible. But he's peeing fine. The doctor was asking if he was losing his appetite, or experiencing nausea or vomiting. Um, no. In fact, the lidocaine seems to have worn off and he's walking better (with a cane rather than the walker) despite the chronic pain when he does.
Saturday was a double treat: Juanita's birthday party at the Longhorn in Kennesaw—and it's a good thing I looked at the invitation because James led me to believe it was the Longhorn on the East-West Connector—and then we came home to watch the long-publicized Strange New Worlds/Lower Decks crossover, which was a gas and a half. I loved the end when they "cartoonized" the Strange New Worlds cast—Spock's arm! 😂😂😂
And today Tucker had a bath. It was on my to-do list for this week, but became required when I didn't pay attention to the fact the poison ivy had grown back at the front of the complex, where, of course, I walked him this morning. Yes, I'm tired. So I threw his bedding in the washer and watched Law & Order: Criminal Intent. So there.
» Sunday, July 16, 2023Mostly Around the House
Well, we have seen the vascular surgeon. It's actually the same vascular surgeon we saw five years ago; it's why we waited to see him and not another one. The vascular surgery is scheduled for August. And because James can't be hauling himself up the stairs via the handrail when the fistula is fresh, he has called a company and we have arranged to get a chair lift for the stairs. It will be expensive, but it has to be done since James can't have the knee replacement surgery with his bad kidneys.
We also got Apria to take away "the fishtank," as we called the oxygen concentrator he's had since October. We didn't take it with us—it weighs forty pounds—for Atomicon or for Libertycon, and he wasn't using it half the time, but when we got a note from Kaiser that they weren't paying for it any longer, we realized it meant they didn't think he needed it any longer.
Prime Day was this week. I wasn't inspired; all I bought were a couple of smart plugs. I put one in the library because the overhead light has been inoperative for years due to debris in the socket.
And we are going to LibertyCon next year; James was on the computer the moment memberships opened. They sold out in 24 minutes. [Got reservations at Staybridge a few days later, so we are in completely.]
Mostly this week we have been doing stuff at home. James has had to use a walker all week because he's still unsteady, but it seemed to be easing off by the weekend.
» Friday, July 07, 2023Our Ten Days at Urgent Care
If you were at Libertycon 35 and at David Weber's panel on Saturday, James apologizes. He's "that guy" whose phone rang and he answered it, just in case it was Kaiser (because yeah, they actually do call you when there's something wrong, even if it's late night or weekends).
Day five we got a respite. The on-call doctor at Urgent Care had called Internal Medicine and they said James could have a shot instead of an infusion! So they took out the IV, and gave him the ertapenum in combination with some lidocaine for any pain.
» Monday, June 26, 2023LibertyCon, Part 3
Of course, Sunday was better, but the con was almost over, too!
Another morning, another breakfast. Alas, no bacon today. Had to content myself with oatmeal, toast, milk, and a bagel and cream cheese. Walked Tucker in the green area behind the breakfast area/pool, and then it was back to the con.
I still hadn't found the art show or the dealer's room, so James escorted me there first. James bought an attractive piece of a spaceship against a starfield, and also an ironically whimsical print of an atomic cloud as part of a scoop of ice cream on top of a cone. He bought me a pretty blue-and-silver bracelet made of links. So blue. No purchases in the Dealer's Room.
LibertyCon always has a charity; this year it was Ronald McDonald House. One of the things that was auctioned for charity was a chance to play Larry Correia's roleplaying game "Gritty Cop Show," which is basically an amalgam of every cop show you've ever seen. Six people bid a total of $5000 to play, and we went to watch. The first hour was fun and I wish we'd stayed. Instead we went off to a panel that was supposed to be about care of your old books. But mostly the moderator talked about valuation and buying of rare books, which I find a bore. I don't buy books to collect, I buy them to read.
Finally we went to the tribute to Eric Flint. Yesterday was still affecting how I felt and I think I dozed through most of this. James enjoyed it, since Flint's 1632 universe is a favorite of his.
Finally we went to closing ceremonies, where they told us how much they earned for Ronald McDonald House, the guests for next year, etc., and then people complained or complimented and asked for different things for next year. It was lively and upbeat...
And then we emerged from the room and holy hell was going on outside!
It was pouring. Can't call it Georgia Monsoon Season. Let's call it Tennessee Monsoon Season. So we talked to Sue a little while and then walked the last time down the long, long hall, made it across the street without being drowned (the rain had slowed down). We waited a little while and the rain finally stopped, so we went out to go to McKay's Books (I bought a Valdemar book I didn't have and a book about a couple who sold their house and live permanently traveling in Europe) and finally get some decent food at City Café: James had a shepherd's pie (he should have sent it back; he said it was way too salty) and I had two exquisitely grilled pork chops, a baked potato, and of course City Café's outstanding chicken soup with broken-up spaghetti in it.
We brought a nice slice of Death by Chocolate cake back to the hotel. Whatever channel I found had Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episodes that were a tribute to Raul Esparza's Rafael Barba character, including the one where he left the show, so we watched those and went to bed at midnight—checkout time wasn't until noon, so why not? During commercials packed a few things up.
Monday morning we packed, made it down to breakfast just in time (have to remember ends at 9:30 on weekdays), then proceeded to walk Tucker, and pack, pack, pack. Then it was checkout time, and then getting on the road time.
We had stopped at "Buc-ee's," one of those giant rest stops, on the way up, so I could pee. Buc-ee's is a chain from Texas, with a restaurant, lots and lots of gas pumps, and a huge store that specializes in jerky. They have opened about a half-dozen of them down here, and one is on the way to Chattanooga, in Calhoun. Walking in is overwhelming: it's a big store and people everywhere, and noisy. I went in and pee'd and that was it. We talked about stopping on the way back, especially as Tucker had gone crazy when he saw the tumult, but we were tired.
So of course there was a traffic jam. We waited over a half hour in Adairsville for them to clear a fracas that appeared to have involved two tractor-trailer trucks. It was exhausting.
We got home safely, and the house was okay (the big storm we'd had in Chattanooga roared south and had hit Atlanta like a cannonball in some places; supposedly trees were down in Cobb County, but around us was safe). I shoved clothes in the washer and that was the end of LibertyCon.
We will go up on Thursday next year (if we get in) and stop at Publix or whatever, and buy food like pot pies or Hungry Man dinners. $26 for meatloaf indeed!
» Saturday, June 24, 2023LibertyCon, Part 2
Alas, there are bits of Saturday I don't remember.
As always when we go away, I don't sleep all that well. And then the stress and the heat saw me awakening to lower GI problems. James had to help me get dressed, and we did make it down to Staybridge's outstanding breakfast bar: three waffle-making machines! Two kinds of bread and bagels to toast! Three hot foods (today: eggs, bacon, and sweet potato tots)! Oatmeal! Three kinds of cereal. Cream cheese, butter, and a bunch of other seasonings. Four kinds of "juice mixes," and coffee and tea of course. I had to raid the milk-for-cereal pitcher for milk. They still have their "grill out" suppers, too, but they're during the week.
Walked Tucker, and then James went off to the convention center. I laid down for about forty-five minutes, then joined James for David Weber's panel.
We are sorry, David Weber fans, that James was that guy during the panel. His cell phone rang and it was fucking Kaiser! They wanted him to go to Urgent Care right away to get an IV antibiotic! James finally had to leave the room because the woman who called seemingly could not understand that not only weren't we in Atlanta, we weren't even in Georgia, and kept arguing with him.
James went off to the Baen Books panel. Here's where things get fuzzy. I know I fell asleep in a chair in a deserted hallway at the center of the convention center. (I was thinking the deserted location might be great for a police chase story!) There were writers' panels I wanted to see, like "The Art of Editing" and "Writing from the Perspective of a Historian," but I never made it to them. I did walk the dog early.
At some point we had dinner at the restaurant. They had big beef brisket sandwiches and we tried those. James wasn't impressed. He said brisket is supposed to be tender and this was chewy; that it certainly wasn't Texas beef brisket anyway! The onion rings were good.
And at 9 p.m. we did get to see the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company perform Ron Butler's "Resurrection Eve," about a wealthy, self-absorbed woman of the future who wants her "darling husband" resurrected so that they can have a family together. The results are...well, let's say things don't go well. They also did an adaptation of Larry Correia's "Maple Syrup Wars," which is a humorous tale about aliens who discover that maple syrup makes them...well, very high. Several of the alien species are willing to pay for the maple syrup, but one species wants to take it by force. We fight back, of course.
Usually we stay afterwards and talk to folks, but we were both so bushed we just headed back to the hotel, and went to bed.
» Friday, June 23, 2023LibertyCon, Part 1
James has always wanted to go to LibertyCon.
LibertyCon has been going for 36 years now (having skipped 2020, of course), initially held in July, hence the name (there were three years it was held in May and for the last few years it has been reassigned to June). It is a small convention with a membership cap, and many of our friends have been going for years and years, until basically now it's like a fannish family reunion.
2020, James decided, was the year we were going to go. He bought tickets. And, of course, shit happened, and everyone's memberships rolled over to 2021. 2021 we were unable to go, and they rolled it over for us. Well, in 2022 we were unable to get hotel reservations in time. At this time, the convention was being held at the Marriott Hotel connected to the Chattanooga Convention Center, but the Marriott isn't pet friendly. However, the Staybridge Suites (our favorite hotel) at the other side are, and it costs more to board the critters than it does to pay the pet fee, so we wanted to bring them—Snowy has always loved "little rooms with teevee"!
But James waited too late to get reservations.
He managed to talk them into rolling us over one more time. It must be all that customer service he learned for IBM tech support.
But this year we were in and we were going to go.
I have to be truthful: I was ambivalent about it. Trips are hard on me now; since James' back and knee makes it that I have to do all the carrying, there's a lot of work for me. I have lists upon lists so we don't forget anything important, including his medical supplies which include bandages and tape in case his legs get a blister, the insulin, water for Tucker so he doesn't get diarrhea from strange water, etc. Plus, this is basically a science fiction writers con. I started out on Heinlein with some Asimov, but don't read any modern SF. There were a few writers' panels, but basically I'd be there to chat with friends, which would be the good part for me.
Let's not even go into having to travel in the summer...
So we packed a little day by day, and I had a long lead time to take stuff down to the truck; since we couldn't check in until three, we didn't need to leave until after noon.
We left at one and should have left earlier: Chattanooga used to be a nice 75-minute drive, now until you get out of the Atlanta metro area it's a morass of traffic. The freeway was backed up, so we tried the highway instead and, of course, traffic lights. Plus we hadn't covered the bed of the truck and we ran in and out of rain during the nearly two hour trip. Apparently Interstate 24, which splits west at Chattanooga and was the way we had to go, is always backed up during daytime hours. Of course Waze took us through teeny city streets, including one steep hill on which I was convinced the chair lift was going to scrape bottom.
However, we made it to Staybridge unscathed. Dropped all the stuff in the room, took Tucker for a walk—alas, Snowy never got to see another "little room with the teevee"—and then hurried to the convention center to get registered as there was a panel tonight that James really wanted to see.
Staybridge is literally across the street from the convention center; you can just enter at that end and walk the length of it—we didn't know that at first and walked the outside till we found a way in—a big long hall with meeting rooms on one side and big exhibit halls and banquet halls on the other (with more meeting rooms as well). I think at least six different exhibitions can be held here. When we got there there were two different church groups; one stayed all weekend. Also a hunting exhibition was there on Saturday. LibertyCon was all the way down the long hall at the Marriott end.
There was, alas, no food. The restaurant was horribly expensive—seriously, $26 for meatloaf?—so we ate some sandwiches from the downstairs café. I went to see a panel given by a woman who now works for child advocacy groups, but she was talking to us about serial killers. She is the daughter of a psychiatrist and a psychologist, and spent part of her childhood at the nurses station in a mental hospital. Her dad was one of the shrinks who examined Albert DeSalvo (the Boston Strangler, for those of you who didn't grow up hearing about this dude on the news).
James was at a panel about "Guns of the Future," so I went back to Staybridge to take Tucker out before dark, then came back to the hotel. The panel James was looking forward to, "No Shit, There I Was," was at nine, but I wasn't all that interested. I had my tablet with me and I found a nice little nook off the hotel lobby and sat and edited a manuscript until he was done.
The Staybridge room (James got the baby suite, with a separate bedroom) was quite nice and they have feather pillows. As always, there is a little kitchenette and dishes and pans, stove, sink, even a tiny dishwasher, and a living room together, then the bedroom, and the bath, which was handicapped accessible, had a pocket-panel door. This was good. However, I was a bit ticked at a jerry-rigged repair. The roll-in shower had a low shower head, for a person in a wheelchair, and then a higher, removable shower head on a long vertical pole which, theoretically, could be adjusted high or low. But the handle that kept the shower head up didn't tighten, so it slid down when you had a shower, and, because the hook that fastened the removable shower head to the pole was broken, they had made loops to hang it with two zip ties!!! And they didn't even clip the ends, so we both nearly poked ourselves in the eye several times.
Oh, and body wash. I hate body wash. Give me a nice bar of soap every time. I hate "pump, pump, pump," wash one arm, "pump, pump, pump," wash the other arm, "pump, pump, pump," wash your stomach, on and on and on. We had soap with us, but there was nowhere in the shower to put it down. Sigh.