Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.
Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net
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» Saturday, January 30, 2021Be Careful What You Complain About
The infusion routine, especially now that James is on the ertepenem and he only gets that once a day, has gotten commonplace. My main concern is still, as always, keeping sanitary enough not to piggyback another infection through the PICC line. So multiple handwashings are mandatory, and the skin on my hands are bearing the brunt of the routine. Sometimes I'm awakened in the middle of the night with them aching because the skin is so cracked, and I have to rub hand lotion into them before I can get back to sleep. Sometimes I just give in and use the gloves Coram (the infusion folks) sent, and continuously wipe them off with alcohol wipes. (Bless you, Clark Howard, for posting about ordering alcohol wipes from Staples so I had them in the house!)
During the week I have been still discarding junk and I finally dealt with the Christmas gift bags that would leap out at me when I went into the spare room closet to get the vacuum cleaner. Like stampeding cattle they have now been corralled.
James had three doctors' appointments scheduled this week and we also had a nurse visit scheduled on Friday and by the time we had two down on Thursday evening we were both feeling a bit Fed Up with this obscene routine of four days of work, two days of doctors' appointments, and a half a day Saturday where James has to prep breakfasts to eat before work. It seems all we have done for the past two months is work or sit on our fannies in doctors' waiting rooms.
Friday morning we had to get up at seven to get James' six month checkup at dermatology. I didn't sleep well and had to quick-foot it to the hall bath as James was still doing his morning ablutions in our bathroom. I headed out of the hall bath thinking "the first thing I do is take my pill" (the pantoprazole, so I can eat for the day without getting sick). I opened the pill container, looked at the four pills, and popped them in my mouth and swallowed.
And then realized what in the hell I did: the extra Claritin, fenofibrate, levothroid—not a problem, but within nine hours of each other, I had taken two atenolol, my heart medication, which, when taken too close together, can cause bradycardia, which slows your heartbeat to under 50 beats per minute and is bad news.
Yes, of course I panicked. I was already half-asleep, which is how I'd done such a damnfool thing in the first place. Since I've been walking most mornings, my resting heart rate is usually in the high 50s. It wouldn't take much to put me under. I got on the phone to the advice nurse. James cancelled his appointment. The advice nurse told me that basically I was on a new day, that all I really needed to do was keep moving and not take another dose tonight, but if I couldn't stay awake or my heart rate went under 50 to call someone immediately. I therefore spent a miserable four hours (on the toilet, of course, because I'd given myself a panic attack) of dizziness, sleepiness, and general ickiness constantly monitoring myself with the pulse oximeter (I did get down to 50) until I pushed past the grogginess caused by the combination of the atenolol and the allergy meds. We were able to have lunch with the Spiveys, get through the nurse visit, and even go to Publix.
Saturday, thankfully, was much calmer. All we did was clean out James' to-be-read pile, and I vacuumed and wrote a delayed Christmas letter to a friend who's not on Facebook (or actually much on the internet).
» Sunday, January 24, 2021Late Nights and Electronic Neep
I remember all those Saturday nights years ago when we used to do chat after episodes of Remember WENN (and long after it was cancelled) and yack long into the night, sometimes until three a.m. when the last fan logged on from California. We’d be plugging at the computer so long that poor Bandit, desperate for his night’s sleep, would fly behind me and cling to the blinds that covered the glass door and window that looked out on the driveway. And I would comment: “Gotta go, guys. Bandit’s hanging upside down on the blinds.” (Everyone would chorus, “Good night, Bandit!”)
This weekend we didn’t actually keep three a.m. bedtime hours, but we did stay up a lot later than usual.
Gawd, how did we do it back then? (Well, besides being 25 years younger!)
The week started triumphantly: I finally got Christmas put back up in the closet, and all the winter decorations up. On the up side, my new shoes (black Reeboks as always) came. On the down side, now I have to break them in. And that will hurt as always. James had a nurse visit as well.
The weekend ended up being dull, but enjoyable, since we had only one doctor’s visit this week: getting James’ PICC line maintained. We were so hungry afterwards and it was so gloomy–it had been raining and we had to take the car to Publix, as well as to Kaiser, and I had to push James in a wheelchair because we can’t take the power chair out in the rain–that we stopped at Capriotti’s for lunch. I had their “Bobbie” sandwich which is a Thanksgiving dinner in a sandwich (turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce with mayo). I only had the turkey and stuffing and it needed gravy. Their chicken soup is okay, but not as good as Panera.
Friday we hit Kroger for mushrooms and milk (and a few other things), had to go by Kaiser Cumberland for the isosorbide that the pharmacy didn’t have last Thursday, and finally got to have some fun by going to Hobby Lobby. All I bought was a doily to replace the one I can’t find that goes under the light-up autumn tree in the downstairs hall. I have no idea where it vanished to. Must be the “blue guys” again.
Saturday we had nowhere to go, and, thankfully, nothing to buy. I definitely have too much month left at the end of my money this January! Did some laundry and a couple other things that have been needing doing for a while: I mounted a hook in the storage closet to hold the bag of tinsel, got a bag of lights out of my way by putting it up on a nail. But it was finally time for the one thing I’d been wanting to do for ages: re-scan all three televisions. The living room TV I scan every couple of months to see if we’ve picked up any new channels, but the little TV in the spare room and the other little TV in James’ “mancave” haven’t been scanned in several years. Since a year or so back they re-assigned frequencies on about half the channels, neither small TV was getting many channels. In fact James’ TV hadn’t been scanned in so long he was only tuning in whatever channel Svengoolie was on and a couple more, and he didn’t get that many in the first place because the only place we can mount his antenna is in the northwest corner. This is the reason I disconnected each television, one at a time, to bring in the living room to connect with the antenna upstairs, which points in the correct direction and will pull in the most channels.
Well, I was totally gobsmacked to discover that we are now receiving Georgia Public Broadcasting! Many years ago, when we used to use a set of rabbit ears as antenna, we’d get GPB sporadically (and never when it rained), but once we put up the Leaf antenna it went bye-bye. And now it was coming in clear as a bell. They must have installed a new transmitter or some type of booster, because I scanned the big TV back in November and there was no GPB to be seen. Plus we get all three PBS subchannels (Create, Knowledge, and Kids).
Since I’d already cleaned up the cords when I switched the spare room gadgets to the Ikea cart from the old microwave cart, it was easy to unplug and re-plug that TV and hitch it back up to the VCR/DVD and the antenna. Less so with James’ TV, which was trapped in a tangle of cords that rivaled Laocoön. Once I extricated the TV from the spider’s web, the tuning was nearly as confusing. I think we got his TV so cheap because it was a DC model made to go into RVs and/or boats. When it‘s tuned in, some of the channels appear on other channels (CBS46, for instance, is on channel 19 on his TV, and Quest, which is on 11-4 ordinarily, is on 10-9 on his). I also set up the new Fire TV stick he bought himself back on Prime Day, as the old one decided it didn't want to talk to the internet anymore. I just plunked the TV back downstairs and tested it when I finished, but on Sunday went back down there and sorted the cords with patience and zip ties, plus re-positioned his antenna so it received most of the channels (GPB, too, to my surprise), and replaced the power strip everything was plugged into, because if you picked it up, the plug slots were so loose half the plugs fell out. Alas, there was a casualty: when I tried out James’ old VCR, it wouldn’t even turn on. I thought it was the power strip, but it wouldn’t come on even in two different plugs, one in the library, one in the garage. Tried turning it on with the remote, in case the physical power button was broken, but that didn’t work either. Worse, it’s stuck with a VHS tape in it, but it was minimal loss, a half-hour anime pilot he doesn’t even remember.
[Later: You’d figure I was done with this, but no. Monday I went in the spare room to finally take care of unfinished business. I’ve had the antenna in there hung in three different places, and today I found a fourth place where this TV, too, would get GPB. So I permanently tacked it up with Command hooks, took out the 3/4 inch brads in the other three places where it had hung (depending on what year it was, the signal to the TV came in better from a different location!), and zip tied all the cords on the Ikea table: the TV, the antenna, the radio, the VCR/DVD, and the RCA cable between TV and player. It looks like an electrical store back there, but now it’s a neat one. Plus, to make sure James’ old Fire Stick was dead, I tried to set it up on the spare room TV. Guess what–I guess it reset, because now it works again. Okay.
One disappointment I did have was the Proscan. This was a recorder/tuner I bought back in 2015 hoping to use it to record Doctor Simon Locke off RetroTV and other programs off broadcast TV. It would record to a USB stick. I discovered it was so old it would only discover about 40 channels, and was really almost too much work to record on, so it’s not a future option for using as a DVR when we “cut the cord.” So we either need to watch the few network programs we watch (Young Sheldon and stuff on PBS) at the time it’s broadcast or invest in a TiVo or some other type of DVR. Heck, the PBS stuff we can get through PBS Passport. All I have to do is keep pledging $5 a month!]
» Sunday, January 17, 2021Shoes and Gauze and Curtains Up...and Cabbages and Kings
Began the weekend exhausted, but I did get all the Christmas things down and mostly packed away by Thursday afternoon. It just wasn’t all put away into the closet yet as I had to pack the porch things and the divider items back into their plastic storage box. I’d lost a bunch of time from unavoidable delays: Monday was handicapped by my feeling ill, Tuesday by a trip to Kroger (I needed milk!). Wednesday I at least got interrupted by something happy–my new curtains finally came! (I ironed them immediately and put them up! They make the whole dining room look so much more cozy, and I am shut of those boring apple curtains at last.) Thursday’s distractions were the second visit to get the PICC line checked out (with Susan the Wonderfully Cheerful Nurse again) and a visit from the Home Nurse. We’d had a visit last Sunday in which the Home Nurse visits were set up; Thursday were with a different nurse who was originally from California. We’d thought she was coming Tuesday, so I didn’t change James’ bandage then and had to do it on Wednesday.
Friday we did the Publix shopping first, and then had the podiatrist visit. Once again, we compared last week’s and this week’s photos, and his foot does indeed look better, but I still think James’ leg could look better. The doctor re-wrapped what the nurse wrapped yesterday (nowhere near snug enough, James complained), and we went on to a very late midday dinner at O’Charley’s. A nice little 6-ounce sirloin steak and baked potato, plus a juicy green salad with balsamic vinaigrette on the side, were just what “the doctor ordered” for this girl. Then I exerted myself when we got home by bathing Tucker. I was shameless: I lured the poor animal in the bathroom with a dog biscuit. He looked so betrayed when I shut the door. But the first thing he did when I had him dry was eat that “cookie”! The funny thing is that Tucker feels so good after his bath. He races around and he “smiles,” which he doesn’t do that often ordinarily unless he’s playing. Even when James is petting him he looks very serious and plaintive.
Saturday we took a little detour from our appointed course, which was to do the shopping at the “Floyd Road Grocery Store Mall.” We got our stimulus check last week–even though they direct deposited the first one, we got the second one last week, via check–and it’s been sitting on my desk, making me nervous. I wanted it in the bank, and the last time I tried to deposit a government check via taking a photo of it in the banking app, it didn’t work. So I looked up the closest bank of mine that was open on Saturday after noon and went there and got that check deposited. Then went on to Costco for gasoline, and got to stop and do something fun by going to Barnes & Noble (besides, I needed the rest room by then). It was a wonderfully nice day, mostly cloudy with some breaks in the clouds and bright blue sky, but it was breezy and chilly, and that wind got down your neck and up your sleeves! It was especially chilly out there on B&N’s flat parking lot at the top of a hill! Got a couple of magazines and the history book The Secret Rooms, plus the new volume of “Strange Planet” cartoons, Stranger Planet. I love the little aliens and their commentary on human foibles.
On the way home we stopped at Lidl to stock up on various meats, fresh bread, lots more mandarin oranges, veg, and other things, and I dropped into the Mableton Publix across the street to get the things the Smyrna Publix didn’t have on Friday, including James’ no-salt-added chips. It was a good night to have soup for supper, and that’s what we did: I took the chicken-and-wild-rice we got at Publix Friday, mixed in dried vegetable soup flakes and fresh diced celery, cut it with no-salt beef broth to reduce the sodium content, and simmered it slowly for a half hour, until it was a perfect meal for a chilly night.
(Before bed I re-wrapped James’ leg. See, this is my problem. The doctor cleans the leg, puts medi-honey on the little abrasions that are there, puts non-stick gauze pads on the abrasions, wraps the whole with a little gauze bandaging for padding, then puts the Ace bandage on. But the Ace bandage is too loose and the non-stick gauze pads shift. Now the abrasions have the gauze bandaging on them rather than the non-stick pads, and when I remove all the gauze, it sticks fast to the abrasions, which have oozed and then dried. One looked completely healed at the doctor’s office Friday, but when I removed the gauze sticking to them, even as carefully as I did, it made the abrasion raw once more.)
Sunday once again the usual chores, but I got all Christmas put up in the closet, and set up the winter decorations. Plus I ordered myself some new shoes, as the ones I’m wearing are still the ones I was wearing when I retired three years ago. I had to get them from Kids Foot Locker, as neither Amazon nor Reebok had them in stock this year. I order a boys’ (“big kid”) classic leather shoe in 5.5 US size, which is wider than a woman’s size 6, which is what I’m “supposed” to take in a women’s shoe (when I don’t have to order a 6.5 to get it wide enough), and fits me better (and they’re $20/pair cheaper to boot, for the same shoe design–really, women’s clothing and shoes are such a rip-off pricewise).
» Sunday, January 10, 2021Doggedly, We Continue
So, with infusions going on, we are trying to live the semblance of a normal life, even if that exists with numerous doctors’ visits a week. James says now we know why our grandparents were always grumpy: they were constantly in pain and going to the doctor all the time!
Friday it was a sad sort of rainy day, the kind we would have liked to have gotten together with everyone for lunch. Alas, we asked at the last minute, so everyone either had (all together now!) a doctor’s appointment or something else already on the schedule. We’d thought of going to Hibachi Grill, then, not knowing the level of their COVID sanitation, chickened out and were headed for O’Charley’s, but saw Okinawa opened and thought they had in-facility dining again. When we got there it turned out they didn’t, but our friend Kayla works there and we wanted to give her some business, so we ordered and took the food home. Warm Thai food and a fire at night was appropriate for a raw sort of day.
Saturday was Hair Day, and we had a treat: John and Oreta brought home-made lentil soup with ham in it. I haven’t had lentil soup in years, and Mom didn’t make her own; we would have Progresso, which she said tasted pretty good compared to the home-made version. I’ve never been fond of lentils, but this was warm and savory and full of ham and I gratefully ate a bowl. James had two and took some home as well. We brought a bag of mandarin oranges, and there were cookies and a fruit bowl, plus Charles made a very spicy cheese dip. I, naturally, did not partake, but the chips were good.
When we finally got home, I finished decorating the porch for winter, then took down the door wreaths and put the candoliers and the wreaths up, plus took down the decorations in the hall bath. So that’s a start on Christmas coming down.
Sunday was my usual cleaning day and James worked, so we were sort of back to normal. I am just sad that he is having so much pain in the infected foot. It seems to have terrible spasms. When it gets bad enough he takes half a pain pill, but he refuses to get into that habit and more often “grins and bears it.” I wish I could help him and can’t and it makes me crazy.
» Thursday, January 07, 2021The Lost Christmas
I pulled the lights last night.
Usually I get a little choked up about this. I love Christmas: the colors, the conviviality, giving gifts, the music, the colder weather, the activities. Of course, this year none of the activities happened. There was no "opening volley" like the Georgia Apple Festival or the fall library book sale. I wasn't feeling well for Thanksgiving, so we stayed home for that. No Apple Annie craft show, no Marietta Home Tour, no Candlelight Tour at the Atlanta History Center, and we never even got to the Lights of Life display. The Lawsons cancelled their Christmas party/game night, we missed Christmas dinner at the Butlers, Bill and Caran cancelled their New Year's Eve party which has been going on for years now, and we also cancelled our Twelfth Night party.
But last night I was just numb. I pulled light after light until I was done, shut off the lights out front, and even replaced the candoliers with the welcome lights with little emotion. I feel we lost Christmas. There are decorations still up, but I haven't really taken joy in them in days. Only the tree, shimmering tinsel magnifying the lights, can managed to make me smile.
On New Year's morning James' medication showed up as promised, and I watched the instructional video for the infusion that Coram provides. The actress playing the instructor was very soothing and reassuring, but there are so many ways for this to go wrong. The main way would be a germ getting into the intravenous line, which would happen if I didn't stay sterile enough. There can also be air gaps in the line which could cause an embolism. However, later the nurse (Elisa) showed up and she walked me through everything. I was extremely nervous, but of course James followed along and we did checks and balances on each other later on when we actually did the process (we waited until nine o'clock because it needs to be done every twelve hours). We got through it, but my hands were shaking! And the infusion took so long. It was supposed to take an hour at a 100 "opening" on the flow dial, but it was more like two hours. We were exhausted by the time we got to bed. I called the infusion people back and they said we could up it to whatever opening got us to an hour infusion. Let me tell you, it was never the same time period twice. One day it was forty minutes, another day, on the same setting, it was an hour and twenty minutes. Bizarre.
Of course I've gotten more comfortable with it in the last seven days.
As expected, since James was discharged from the hospital, he now has lots of doctors' appointments. We saw the podiatry doctor on Monday, and he showed James the hospital photos; where the big blister on the arch of his foot looks dreadful to me, all full of fluid and black and blue as if it is bruised, it doesn't look anything like it did in the hospital when it formed. And his toes are definitely more pink than red now. Wednesday we saw another doctor at Cumberland just for a general followup (I'm guessing Dr. Mobley was not available).
Today he had his first checkup at the infusion center at Kaiser TownPark. We got this incredibly cheerful nurse named Susan who really did brighten our day. She (or someone else in infusion) will be changing the dressing on the PICC line once a week and making sure it is working properly. She says I'm doing a good job so I'll take her word for it. (And we felt lucky, as someone was in there getting their chemotherapy. I hope whomever it was does good on it and gets well.)
Last but not least we got a call from the doctor who attended James in the hospital. He said they had identified positively both things that were infecting him: one was strep (which can be hideously dangerous; Jim Henson basically died from streptococcus) and the other was anirobes, which I had never heard of. So they were changing his medication to something that was only to be infused once a day—thank goodness!—and came pre-mixed. He had the first dose of the new medication given to him by the nurse just in case he had an allergic reaction. She was the chirpy type, but very nice, and she showed us, just in case, what to do if he had a very rare reaction on the second dose (basically epinephrine and call 911!). That made me nervous, but the first infusion went off without a hitch. It's also quicker, thirty minutes, it's supposed to be, instead of an hour.
In non-medical news, we had Aaron Lawson come over to help us with some household chores. He is on vacation from his pharmacist college in Wyoming. He put LED lightbulbs in the garage door openers for us (there were "pigtails"—icky compact fluorescents—in there, and James's side was burnt out and mine had a bulb and a half on), and replaced the light bulb that was out in the overhead in our bedroom. (I usually do this, but lately when I put my hands over my head like that I get a little lightheaded.) He also dragged James' old desk chair downstairs for us, and the old microwave cart that was supporting the television and DVD/VCR in the guest room. After he left I set about assembling the new little cart I had bought at Ikea to replace it. It looks so much roomier in there now (the two front bedrooms are pretty small).
Now it's time for me to start taking all of the Christmas things down. I'm not going to hurry. We had hardly enough time to enjoy it...