Thursday, June 16, 2005

It's Always Something

Sometimes I forget that nonmedical people often are not aware of potential health disasters.

My ex-mom-in-law has diabetes. She's had it for years, and it's never under good control. She lives with one of her children (not the one I was married to, but uncomfortably similar), and he has a hard time denying her the high fat, high sugar foods she craves. And will then forget to check her blood sugar or give her insulin.

I don't see her often, although I am fond of her. I visited for a while after the divorce, but my exhusband used that as an excuse to not see her -- which upset her -- so I drive my son to see her, but I don't visit unless she's ill. And the ex STILL isn't seeing her, but now he has to think up other excuses.

She's gossipy, bossy, opinionated, barely literate, and believes everything the TV preachers and The National Enquirer tell her. She tries to do the right thing, though, and actually trusts me enough to sometimes take my advice -- amazingly, because in the beginning, she was very much against educated women; she changed her mind on that -- and other things -- over the last 28 years.

I have talked to her kids about diabetes. I have told them to check her feet every day. Her circulation is poor, and her feet are always purple, and sometimes blue.

Her daughter tries as best she can. But her sons just don't get it; they can't seem to understand that they can't wait and see if things get better when her health is so fragile.

A week ago, she complained to one of her kids that her foot hurt. Her daughter checked it, and there was a tiny sore. No one checked it again FOR A WEEK...mainly because the daughter was out of town...and only when she was unable to walk, did they check it again.

The 1.5 inch wide, .5 inch deep tunneling wound on her heel was enough for the kids to realize she needed to go to the hospital. Which is a good thing, because if they'd waited even a day longer, she probably would have lost her foot or her leg -- and she may yet, if the debridement doesn't heal well.

And finally, FINALLY, the kids agree that she really needs to be in a nursing home, because they themselves have not been able to give her the care she needs.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Adventures in Housekeeping

The pain got worse. So much so, that the doc found time in his busy schedule to perform another procedure last Monday.

It seems to have worked, although I have to say that the side effects of the conscious sedation lasted a lot longer this time. I managed to make it to work a couple of days last week, but that was about it...all I could manage was sleep.

Today I am almost pain free, for the first time in months. And this weekend, also for the first time in months, I CLEANED. I cleaned because I could walk, and bend, and move, and it didn't hurt. Of course, the crowd of people standing in the front yard with torches and pitchforks yelling "UNCLEAN! MONSTER! UNCLEAN!" had nothing to do with it.

There are plenty of people who could tell you what a lax housekeeper I am. This came to fruition about my second year of being married when I realized that he was never going to pick up his own dirty socks -- and I detest dirty socks -- so my philosophy became "if there aren't any bugs, and it's not a fire hazard, then it's OK". Then I had another 18 years or so in which I perfected this way of living...although, any time anyone else (like, gee, that guy I was married to who was the father of these kids and who insisted I work fulltime, cook all the meals and do all the laundry) was willing to help clean, I was all over it. But if no one else was willing, why should I do it all?

Once I had my own space, though, it was better; but it was also worse. Better, because my attitude was better, but worse because I now had two children, two dogs, and a cat. And the kids were slightly worse at cleaning than the cat, and only slightly better than the dogs.

Throughout this whole leg pain affair, it's been Gavin, the dogs, the cat, and me. I couldn't do much, and if you've ever had teenagers, you'll know that in order to get them to do housework, they require either a) a lot of nagging or b) the ability on the part of the parent to enforce draconian measures.

I'm not good at either of those. While (mostly) the trash got carried out, and (mostly) the dishes got done, and (mostly) the height of the grass in the yard did not exceed 6 inches...well...nothing else was done except for the odd loads of laundry.

And just to set the record straight, Gavin's sister Alex was much, MUCH worse before she married. So I have to believe, for his future wife's sake, that it is strictly a teenager thing.

Both dogs have been shedding, and once I was finally able to vacuum, I think I acquired enough hair to make 5 more dogs about the size of Labradors. This is really impressive, because both of them still appear to have as much as they started with. In a couple of hidden corners, I found spiders had made homes and had started substantial graveyards of discarded insect parts. The patio was still covered in the last of the winter leaves, books covered every available surface (you can also substitute "dust" for "books")...and, well, you get the picture.

Plus my piles of tile are still waiting to be laid...and if I'm still feeling well in a week or two, that's next (I really don't want to get that started and have to quit in the middle).

There are a couple of really good things that happened because of this. One is that I really, really enjoyed cleaning over the weekend -- and it's been a long time since that was the case. The other thing is that Rog did not run away screaming...and over the past month has spent time with me in my house, despite the fact that he has allergies and drifts of dog hair were thick on the floor. He must be as smitten as I am.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Evil Bees

I have just been treated to what may be the most creative World Domination Scheme I have ever heard.

Gavin tells me that if he were to learn interpretive dance, he's sure he could use that to communicate with bees -- Africanized Killer Bees -- which would then become his willing slaves.

With these diminutive yet powerful minions, it would be "a piece of cake" to take power -- after all, the bees could be loaded up on trucks in order to infiltrate the Entire Free World.

He thought up and rejected several Evil Nemesis names (The Bee Keeper, Hive Master) until he decided on "Dr. B Evil", which he states, "works well on SEVERAL levels".

After some thought, though, he demonstrated " interpretive dance" for me and then said, "You know, it would be very hard for people to take you seriously if you have to be doing this sort of thing all the time" while leaping across the living room, drooping like a dying swan, and fluttering like autumn leaves.

Maybe Barysnikov could have pulled it off, but Gavin...yeah, he'd have to have whole countries jailed for laughing-- not just chuckling -- but loud, snorting, Coke-blowing-out-the-nose hilarity.

It's just as well, because I don't believe he thought through the whole winter/hibernating bees thing...

Balm of Sleep

I spent the holiday weekend working at my other job (hey, gotta pay for all this health care stuff!), 11-7 at the psych hospital. And you can't beat time and a half for holiday pay, especially when the regular pay seems just short of exorbitant.

Both times I was assigned to a kids' unit. Unlike adult psych units, the child units are usually uneventful at night. The units are kept a little bit too cold, so the kids snuggle into their blankets and avoid getting out of bed.

About half the kids sleep in their rooms. The rest "sleep out"; that is, they drag their mattresses into the hall and sleep so that they are watched all night long by staff.

Sleep outs for are actively suicidal or self-harmful children. Also, children who are at risk of sexually abusing others. Sometimes kids who are afraid of the dark sleep out. And sometimes there's a sleep out whose roommate is so flatulent that even the nurses hold their breath just passing by in the hall.

Every once in a while, though, you get a child who can't sleep. And even more rarely, you get a child who won't sleep.

This time, I had a sleep out child who said he couldn't sleep...but he did everything he could to keep from falling asleep. He was so tired that his eyes kept closing on their own; he'd jerk himself awake, complain loudly; when that didn't work so well, he'd sit up; when he begin falling asleep sitting up, then he'd get up and shuffle around, get a drink, go to the bathroom...I'd finally persuade him to lie down and then he'd start all over again.

Some of you probably understand what this is all about, and why, if these hospitalized kids are going to go over the edge, it's usually at bedtime.

Bedtime or nighttime, those are the times abusers often choose to torment their victims. So the time that most of us use to recover from the day and recharge for the day to come is the time that abused children dread the most. So they are afraid to sleep. And after all, if home was never safe, and your parents didn't love you enough to keep you safe, then it's easy for a child to believe that there are no safe places, and that no one will ever love them enough.

I finally persuaded this kid to lie down and imagine what it would be like if he were a student at Hogwarts...and he added "Fighting Voldemort?"..."Of course," I replied...and asked him to start with the Sorting Hat assigning him to a group...and he fell asleep within minutes.

It's a little scary to me that a world with Voldemort feels safer to someone than sleeping under the watchful gaze of two caring adults.