Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I am so pleased, I actually, this time, managed to change my template without losing anything, changed my profile photo (no more dancing horse gif), and actually ended up with something reasonably good. I know I took that class in HTML, but somehow, my mind (like a stainless steel sieve) lost all that knowledge. I was reduced to cut-and-paste, and I messed that up a couple of times. Somehow, I couldn't upload the images for the template directly to blogger?? and had to create a Photobucket account and load them there? And my photo is from the at&t homepage? It all seems so cumbersome, I just hope it doesn't take half an hour to load.

Anyway, this is a nice boost for me, as I have been feeling truly old today, since today is R's(daughter's) birthday, she's, well she's (whisper) 26. I mean how could *I* have a daughter that old, I'm just a **few** years older myself. I mean, I don't feel any older....

Weather here in WV has been cold cold cold. Sunday the water line to the barn froze, and so it was haul-buckets-from-the-bathtub time. And then Sunday night, everyone but R went to bed, when she noticed the sound of running water in the pipes in the house, and realized no one was taking a shower, no washer was running, etc., so why was the water running? Alas, it was because the water line to the barn was unfrozen; but not before it had split the water line and gallons of water poured into the tack room, under the door, and down the path from the barn. SO there we were at midnight, sweeping water out of the tack room, after shutting off the line, and trying to fend off curious horses who were certain we must be out there to give them midnight snackies.

All is repaired now, and it turns out the heat tape on the line wasn't (blush) plugged in, so natch, the line would freeze, it was down to 8 degrees after all. No permanent damage done. I love winter, anybody want three muddy shaggy horses?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

How to Train a Cat

Made you look! You KNOW there isn't any way to train a cat, right? They train YOU. To feed them at a certain time, in a certain place, with a particular food. They train you to regularly empty their litter pans, and they *punish* you if you don't. They train you to scratch all the itchy places when they bump your hands or ankles and purr. They command the best seat in the house, the widest windowsill, the basket of fresh warm laundry. Paper bags must be placed on the floor to be explored, feathers must be dangled, crinkly bits of paper tossed to chase. Ah yes, it's a cat's world we live in.

Dogs on the other hand are easily trained. So why are there so many badly behaved ones? Because we are creatures of impulse, getting things without thinking through the responsibilities that come with ownership. So we see dogs that jump up and put their muddy paws on your clean clothes, ones that bark until the neighbors are ready to punch out their eardrums, dogs that lunge ahead when they're on a leash because no one ever taught them to walk on a lead, dogs that won't sit, stay, lie down or even come when called. It takes very little time on a daily basis to teach a dog to behave like a civilized companion, but it does take consistent effort over a period of weeks or months to get them to be reliable about what they should and should not do. It is well worth the effort. You'll be able to take your dog out in public, or have guests at your home, knowing that your dog will be a welcome member of any group, and you will have much less to worry about liability-wise if your dog is trained and well socialized. There's something really pitiful about a dog bouncing off the furniture, overturning glasses, and evading every attempt of his ineffective owner to corral him, because no one ever taught him the simple command "come!" Dogs have an inate desire to please their people, they only need to know what's expected of them.

Maybe I shoud give advice on child rearing too, while I am at it? The truth is, kids come pretty much hardwired in the behavior department, maybe because they're grown for 9 months before being hatched, as opposed to 60 days for dogs and cats. You can only modify their basic 'hardware' with 'software'. Your job as a parent is to teach them to be empathetic to the hurts of others, to share, to control their impulses in physical confrontations, to feel proud of themselves, to feel loved, to feel valued for who they are at every stage of their development and education. They need to have a sense of community, of knowing that they belong to a larger group than their own family, and that there are duties that are done for the family, and duties that one does as a member of the human race. This would include setting a good example by doing volunteer work yourself, things that you do for the simple joy of helping others, and not for money or status. It could be as simple as picking up trash along the roadway in front of your house, or picking out a toy to donate at Christmas. They need to learn to be satisfied with what they have in material possessions, not always lusting after what one doesn't have, because that way lies madness, and 'things' aren't a substitute for love. And they need to learn that you don't treat your family worse than you treat your friends; not by backtalk, rude remarks, name calling, stomping off in a huff, refusing to do your share, or anything else disrespectful to the family members. After all, friends come and they go; your family is in for the long haul, and long after you're just a dim memory to that friend, your "birth" family will still be in your life, and important even after you start a family of your own. Most of all, hug your kids...they're never too big or too grown up to hug, and hugs are one-size-fits-all, too. And finally, if you do your dead level best to be the best parent you can be, and your kid grows up to be selfish and violent and greedy and sad, don't beat yourself up with it. Everyone, in the end, is responsible for who they are, because everyone, young and old, makes choices, good or bad, and then lives with the results. That's life.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Hospital room eti-ket

OK, I've calmed down somewhat from my hospital ordeal, but I still want to pass along my experiences in a semi-private hospital room as an illustration of how NOT to behave if you find yourself there.

I should say at the outset that I asked for a private room, having been through this before*. The step-down unit of the ICU didn't have anything but a semi-private, but they promised me a private room as soon as one became available (ho ho). My roommate, Mrs. G., seemed nice enough, asking me if her TV bothered me, and I said no, it was fine. Little did I know then that she would have it on 24 hours a day; it wasn't so much the sound of it, but the light from the screen flickering, flickering all night long, I felt like I was taking part in one of those WWII military tests to see if strobe lights could drive people crazy (they can). At one point, about 1 am, I heard Mrs. G snoring, so I siddled up to her TV and turned it off. But alas, she woke up 20 minutes later and turned it back on for the rest of the night. The second night there, I had the Hub bring me my sleep mask and earplugs, which helped immensely. Therefore Mrs. G is still alive.

Secondly, there is the matter of visitors. I have noticed in the past the tendency of families in this friendly place to treat hospitals like venues for family reunions, and Mrs. G. was no exception. She had visitors ALL THE TIME, even outside of visiting hours, at least 2 at any time and one time she had 5, including one four year old and one 7 week old. This despite the big sign right on the front of the nursing station, facing everyone as they get off the elevator that says "No children past this point. No more than two visitors at a time. Please be quiet, our patients need their rest" The nurses came in to see Mrs. G. several times when she had 5-with-two-kids and never said a word to her or to them. Worse yet, her husband used our bathroom, how icky is that??? Instead of the public RR near the elevators. And do you know how hard it is to modestly get through such a crowd to get to the bathroom, all the while clutching your gown together in the back so as not to flash the entire room? And there was only one visitor chair in the room, need I explain who got to use it, when my family came they had to perch on the edge of my bed.

(*The last time I was in the hospital, they put me in a room with a senile old lady who was on her way the next day to the nursing home. She was OK, fairly lucid, while her (enormous) family was visiting, but after they left, she kept trying to get out of the restraints, the nurses had arguments about how to fasten them so as to keep her in bed and yet not strangle her if she still climbed over the side rail. Once they had her somewhat secure they left, and then she realized I was in the room, and she kept saying "Who's there? I'm gonna to get my gun" and "You better git or I'm gonna blow your damned head off". One can only hope the nurses checked her bag when she came in. Finally I'd had it, and told the nurse if they didn't find me another room I was leaving, AMA. I told them I wouldn't be held responsible if the crazy woman got out of bed and put her hands on me while I was asleep. They said, oh, no, there aren't any rooms, and I said, fine, I'll just call my husband to come get me. It was about 11 pm, I called him and he came right over, bless him. And lo, it seems there WAS another bed, a private, actually an isolation room with a little antechamber, so it was the most quiet hospital room I've ever been in. I'm not one to make waves or be confrontational, but that night I really went over the edge.)

Anyway, back to Mrs. G. She (apparently) had trouble getting to the bathroom in a timely manner, and so she had a beside commode. This gave me the singular blessing of eating my lunch while on the other side of the curtain by my elbow, Mrs. G was, ah well, you can guess. Loverly. In the entire 3 days I was there, she never washed her hands, bathed, changed her gown, or brushed her teeth. What ever happened to the draconian nurses who used to bully patients into all of these, plus walking in the halls? They all seem to be wusses now.

I might not have been so vexed if my own doctor hadn't been such a prick, but I've gone to his office to pay for a copy of my records, to take to another doctor next month, so that's the end of him.

Come to think of it, maybe that's why they call us "patient"? And have you ever noticed, that doctors only "practice" medicine? Do you suppose they ever do it for real?

Ah well, pass me another Xanax, thanks.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Into the Out Of

I just returned from three endless days at the hospital. It all started with chest pains on Monday while I was at work, bad enough that I finally convinced myself I should go to the ER. They did lab work, and admitted me so I could take a stress test on Tuesday. The ER doctor had seen me before for an unrelated condition, and he said that knowing that I am "stoic" and was complaining of pain, that he took it seriously. Tuesday morning my "family" physician came by, sneered at the program I was watching on TV, and proceeded to lecture me about over-reacting, since I'd had a full cardiac workup "just two years ago". He condescendingly told me that I should have gone to his office, he could have run an ECG, maybe done some labs, then sent me on my way. But since I'd come to the ER, it was "a free pass to be admitted" since no ER doc would send someone home that said they had chest pains.

Now I ask you, does this sound like someone you'd want for your doctor? I have only been seeing him since the fall, when my doctor of 25 years gave up her practice after developing stage 4 breast cancer. I'd only seen him once several years ago, and then about three times since the fall, but he is the one that she sent her patient records to. I reflected on the patient who, a few months ago, went to the clinic my daughter works in, complaining of chest pains; after he waited an hour they told him they wouldn't be able to see him that day, and he should go to the ER. Instead he went home, where he dropped dead in his front yard 2 hours later. Then there was the teacher who taught band at the kids' junior high, who was found dead in his car parked in front of the doctor's office, where he had been going because he had chest pain. So anyway, my doctor left, they did the stress test, which was abnormal. The hospital had withheld my BP medicine prior to the test, since taking it can give a false negative. When I got up to the floor again, I was really in misery, my pulse above 120, BP 165/95, and BAD chest pains. And found that lo, my doctor didn't order the BP medicine to be "held" prior to the test, but wrote "D/C" (discontinue)! And when they tried to page him, he didn't answer his page. Finally they contacted the doctor on call, who said to give me a dose that evening, and straighten it out with my doc in the morning. My doc didn't come in the next morning, but sent his partner, who was clueless as to why he would have done this, but wrote the orders for the hospital to reinstate the med, and ordered a cardiologist consult. The cardiologist did a stress echo-gram, said it was normal, and that as far as he was concerned, I could go home -- if --my regular doc concurred. So of course, neither he nor his partner returned their pages (it was 7 pm by then) and finally the doctor on call said I could be discharged. I think I'll find a new physician. It's probably just as well that I find this out now, for a fairly benign problem, instead of waiting to be in the ICU like I was in 2000 and 2002. My old doctor would never have questioned my judgement about going to the ER, even if she hadn't agreed that it was necessary in the end. I do, after all have TWO insurance plans I'm covered under, we pay thousands of dollars every year for coverage, it wasn't going to come out of anyone's pocket. And because I'm a medical technologist, and have worked in biomedical research for 30 years, in Memphis, San Francisco and here in WV, I have a reasonably good grasp of medical matters, and especially of lab tests. I'm not used to being talked down to about my conditions, and I am familiar with what physicians routinely handle for a given patient, and I know that my doctor dropped the ball this week. I'm going to make an appointment with someone that the nurses spoke highly of, and see if we have any kind of "rapport" to build on.

In the last year, I have lost my therapist after 5 years(retired), my doctor after 25 years, and last month my psychiatrist (retired), so I am feeling a little abandoned these days.

It feels good to 'vent' here some, just reading it all back over makes me feel better.

There's still my thoughts on roommates in the hospital, but I'll save that for another day.