Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Hair Cut

Yesterday my mother took her first voluntary, self propelled trip out of the house and back .,. the first trip since mid-April.

The time in between has not been boring. Three hospitalizations, many ambulance transports, and ongoing home care visits!

But the final result was ... ta-da ... a trip to get her hair cut!!

The trip itself was a bit of an adventure - not a nail biter - but a sincere effort for us both.
  1. I determined that the temperature, air quality and general weather conditions were good enough. Her oxygen ran low earlier in the week with walking so I wanted near perfect external conditions for this trip. We had it. Check!!
  2. Getting that darn wheel chair up from the basement, and then down my outside steps and then shoved into my trunk made me break out in a sweat. But I did it. Check.
  3. She descended the 20 outside steps to the car with only one rest period. Oxygen was pretty good. Check.
  4. She took the 5 minute car ride to my shopping center. Check.
  5. She sat in the wheel chair from the car to the salon and surviving my wheel chair driving. Her blood pressure probably went up when I almost dumped her on the floor of the salon. The wheel chair wouldn't roll over the salon door sill - but she arrived safely, mostly, so I count it is a Check!! :-)
  6. She got her hair cut. The salon chair had a foot rest that proved to be an obstacle but with the help of 3 people she surmounted it. Check.
  7. I thought she looked tired so we sat outside and enjoyed a Rita's icy treat - the temperature was perfect and we were sitting in the shade. A social moment. Check.
  8. The 5 minute ride home was uneventful! Check.
  9. The trip up the stairs to the house was a bit more than she could do without several rest periods, but she did it. Check.
  10. We arrived home and she was exhausted!
  11. Me Too. It took 3 hours to do that round trip. But she looks better. Check, check, and check.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pleeeaase take my button!

Before you can blink your eye, I changed the look of my blog again. Actually, I did have help from two fellow bloggers ...

It all began with a "button" quest! I wanted to be button-enabled! What is that exactly? Check out the right side of my blog and you will see a button that says "My Next 20" with red flowers. That's my button and I want you all to take my button and put it on your blog. Yes, it is shameless self-promotion, but isn't it cute? Don't you want my button? Of course you do! :-) Once the button is installed on your blog - it looks pretty there too. And then if someone clicks it, they are directed by to my blog ('cause its all about me, you know - LOL).

Anyway, back to the journey ... so I asked Chatty Crone, a blog friend ... how do you get one of those button thingys? If you haven't seen Chatty Crone's blog, you should. She most generously shared the name of a fellow blogger who might be able to help. That blogger is Diane at The Blue Ridge Gal Blog (who, by the way, has a wonderful deer and fawn video you must see.) And Diane spent time putting together a suggestion for both a header and a button! Can you imagine? I am just drifting by her blog making a request and she went to work!! It is an example of how friendly and generous the blogging community is.

And the rest is history! It started with a button and it resulted in a new face to my blog ... and a button!!

And I am thrilled with it. This new face is cleaner and not so busy. And it is more personal.

Thank you Diane. You are the best! I love my new face!

It is like a face lift!

Wow, Diane, I just had this crazy thought!

Do you do other face lifts ... to faces? I could use one of those too!

Happy Blogging Everyone ...

... and take my button ... please!!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Miracle of Cousins

(My cousin Linda, probably 3, on the right, and me on the left, probably 5)

Family histories can be pretty spotty. Mine certainly is, especially on my father's side. There were few pictures and few memories, because contact with my paternal extended family was limited to years very early on. By my teen years, I don't remember any contacts.

Memories fade some over long periods of time, but the knowledge that my paternal cousins existed always floated in the back of my brain.

The image of my cousin Linda's face in this picture below is one of the many memories I have of her from childhood. In fact, this is exactly how I remember her ... sort of serious and focused, but just below the surface there is the hint of a smile. I totally love this picture of us in the center holding hands. We were family and friends back then ... but as our families drifted apart we were left with just our childhood memories.

(From left to right: Linda's cousin, Susan, me, Linda and my cousin Ray, Linda's brother.)

Fast forward to the present. We are grown ... seniors actually. And most of our lives have been lived apart. So much time had passed.

One day my sister got restless at work and Googled our maiden name. Our name was unusual. And at the top of the list popped Linda's name. She was married now but had kept her maiden name (Thank God!).

After much excitement and tons of emails and pictures back and forth, we decided to get together ... after 40 years of absence! The year I believe is 2004.
(from left to right: Aunt Phebe, my mom, my sister, my cousin Leslie,
me and my cousin Linda)

This joy filled picture is the result of the 40 year absence. Linda and I (far right) are together again (I bet we are holding hands behind us.) And my sister and Leslie are an addition to the family: neither had been born at the time of the first 2 pictures. Since that 2004 picture was taken, we have remained close seeing each other several times a year, sharing lives and hobbies and love. It is one of the most wonderful experiences of my whole life.

My childhood memories of my dear Aunt Phebe are clear: she was a loving, affectionate person with a ready smile. I miss her now as she died several years ago, but we had our moment before life took us in different directions again. She is now at peace, and I still have the wonderful relationships of my cousins.

One last picture I must share.
(Here are my Aunt Phebe and Mom walking the beach together ... holding hands.)

This picture makes me happy and sad at the same time.

It makes me happy to see them together happy after such a long absence, just like me and Linda. My mom remembers Phebe as her friend, married to brothers, and young and happy at that time.

But I am sad my Aunt Phebe has passed on and my mom has lost her ability to walk unaided as she does in the picture. Her health is fragile and her memories are fading.

Time just marches on.

So I am forever grateful for the miracle of my cousins!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Blog change is good

Summer is now officially here and I thought it was time to change to look of my blog.

I struggle a bit with the tools Blogger provides. Eventually I get something that is pleasing to my eye. My eye loves "green".

Picking from the pre-designed templates is sometimes difficult. I don't know how others feel about them, but to my "eye", (it is all about me, you know), some of those templates are just too busy. Beautiful but busy. Once applied to the blog it looks terrible. And then the design template sometimes uses text colors that just fade out making it hard to read. I don't understand why those text colors where selected for the design. So I spend considerable time making adjustments to the pre-selected colors to make it easy to read.

And this time I wanted to add one of my own pictures to my header. I tried several times, but I kept getting the message that my file was too big. And I had no idea how to shrink it.

Oh well, I am pleased with this design and color mix ... at least until fall. This design feels very much like summer to me. And I hope that come fall they will have some new designs to choose from on Blogger!

How often do you change your blog design? How do you feel about the blogger design choices? How much effort do you put into adjusting the text colors? Have you used any of the blog design sites that allow you to select one of their templates to apply to your blog? How well does that work?

Or is it just me? Am I blog-disabled? :-)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Sunday Walk

A Normal Day!

Yes, they do occasionally happen to me. So that means nothing special happened to write about.

It seemed like a good day to spot lighted my walk and the beautiful community I live in.

Having lived here for 25 years, I sometimes forget just how lucky I am to have such wonderful and safe places to walk. Looking at the pictures I took today reminds me to be grateful.

Much of my walk looks a lot like this. Neighborhood streets that are devoid of cars and people. I don't mind because the neighborhood is well maintained and safe. But if I was walking around one of the local lakes, I would see a lot of people

And I get a kick out of seeing some of the houses. This flag hangs outside a pretty traditional house. House flags seem to be common in my area but this one was very different.

Most houses go more traditional when the choose to decorate, such as this house. Looks like they are planning for the upcoming 4th of July.

Today, once again, I chose to step out of the neighborhoods and take some of the back paths. All are beautiful. I don't do this often because some are very remote. But they are also very worth the trip.

This time the paths I chose ran very close to the backyards of homes. I felt very comfortable.

My walk ended back at my townhouse. This is the view of the terraced front area. As you can see, the townhouses in this group are up on a hill away from the parking areas. It is the main reason we chose this location. In our previous community, the headlights of the parking cars would shine in our windows. I loved the idea that we were away from the street. The downside is that you have to climb those steps when you are moving all your worldly possessions in, climb the steps when you have a car full of groceries, climb the steps when you are 85 years old and your daughter thought it would be a good idea for you to move in with her. :-) You get the idea.

Our townhouse is on this little hill. Not so high up, but still high enough to be a barrier for my mom. Those darn steps have kept our legs strong over the last 25 years - so there are positives.
This last picture shows the back of a group of town houses. Townhouse living has it pluses and minuses. The minuses are that you are very close to your neighbors. So if someone isn't so keen on keeping up their property, you have to live with that problem close up and personal. Thankfully, our community has managed to maintain the exteriors ... if the back sides of the town homes look good, you know the community cares about their neighborhood and property values.

Yes, I am very lucky! A nice community even after 25 years!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Weight Watchers

Today was Weight Watchers Day for my daughter and I. We are both looking to improve our health and ... oh forget that!

You don't believe that!!

We want to drop some pounds so we look fabulous for the May wedding. And I know that I ranted about our culture's focus on being thin. I still detest that. I am not into "thin" or "skinny clothes" or discussing my weight loss efforts adnausium with anyone who will stand still long enough (another thing I hate). I just know I need structure to drop some weight ... more than just eating in moderation.

But I am happy to share my findings about the current Weight Watcher program. My history with Weight Watchers goes way back. In using the program, I became a Life Time Member. Without getting into the fine details, a person becomes a life time member once they have reached their goal weight and held that weight for a fixed period of time.

The program has always appealed to me: it uses real everyday food, you don't need to buy your food only from them, it promotes healthy eating as a life style change, there are no forbidden foods, and it provides multifaceted support: group meetings, the Weight Watcher brand of food easily available at grocery stores, and online support.

But nothing is perfect and there is a downside for me personally. I know this will sound odd but I dislike the focus on food ... meaning, I just hate spending so much time deciding what to eat, examining food labels, measuring, tracking, monitoring ... I hate that part. But for me to be successful, I need to do that part. Otherwise I can easily eat more than I intend.

The program is based on a points system and you are allowed to eat a fixed number of points each day. The current hybrid of this program is called Points Plus. In the past, points were assigned to foods based on calorie counts, the fiber and fat content. Points Plus assigns points based on carb and protein counts as well as the fiber and fat content. The shift in focus brings this diet more in line with the diabetes diet which is a very healthy way of eating.

And I am such sucker for "tools". Since the program is new, they have all new tools (some are pictured above.) I bought this kit and it included a bunch of very useful stuff to help you understand and implement the program.

Yes, I am happy to start this program again.

Final Note: So you won't hear me blogging about this again. Come May 2012, when I post some pictures of the wedding, what I hope you will say is - wow, you look great! That will be good enough for me.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Meet the Upstairs and Downstairs Help

Townhouse living comes with stairs! Lots and lots of stairs!

I have 2 full flights of stairs that connect the 3 townhouse levels, and 4 steps from the front door to the first floor. That does not include the outside steps from the parking lot to the front door - of which there are 16. Yes, we have taken our fair share of steps over the last 25 years in this townhouse. I have the leg muscles to prove it.

But steps are not the topic of this post.

I am the proud owner of an upstairs vacuum cleaner and a downstairs vacuum cleaner. And not just any vacuums ... two Dyson vacuums!! (Now you know why I called this post the Upstairs and Downstairs help. Who would open a posting that said Vacuums!)

This is not an ad for Dyson products.
I am not being compensated for saying these things.
But I am thrilled with the product line and now that I have a new second one,
I am enthused all over again.
So just humor me!

My first Dyson (we will call her Bertha) is a DC17 Absolute Animal - yep, that is the actual name.

She's a big lady. And she has cleaned faithfully with no upkeep for 5 years. I only recently washed the filter that they said should be washed yearly.

Bertha is a workhorse machine for all 3 levels of this townhouse. With 2 cats and 3 dogs now - Absolute Animal Bertha has been one terrific machine.

Look at those muscles!!

But now that my mom lives here, we put in a stair glide from the first to the second floor.

Bertha and me ... we have made many perilous trips together up and down this narrowed flight of steps, and each time I thought ... there isn't enough room for Bertha and Harold (the Acorn stair glide) and me on this set of stairs.

This is an accident just waiting to happen, and I knew Harold would feel badly if it did!!

So last week I went out to purchase another vacuum, and, of course, is was a Dyson.

This time I got a smaller more lightweight model called DC25 Animal (lets call him Oscar). Oscar has the new Ball technology for easy steering. He is a gem of a machine. Oscar is the upstairs help and Bertha is the downstairs help.

We are all happy!

Thank you for reading.

Elaine (retired knitter), Bertha, Harold and Oscar

PS - Someday I hope to add to the help by finding someone else to push Bertha and Oscar around.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Dearest Daughter

How do you describe a daughter who is the best daughter in the whole world?
No sense challenging that statement.
I have done a look-around, and I know alot of daughters
and my opinion is indisputable!

Today is her birthday. I won't announce her actual age, females usually hate that. She is a daughter, a friend, a confidant, a joy, a beautiful and caring person, a Frenchie Mom, and so much more.

In fact this year, a most terrible year for me, this year she was also my crutch. Children shouldn't have to take that role in your life (at least no so early in life), but she did for me. She's been here most weekends helping me cope with the life I now lead. I look forward to her smiling face, our late night talks, her hugs, her grandma sitting, her advice ... without her, this year would have been unbearable. How do you adequately thank your daughter for that kind of support?

Remembering her birth years ago ... it was an easy event. Second c-sections usually are. She was a happy child and easy to raise. The biggest problem of her childhood was that she didn't sleep through the night until well past a year. I remember waking every night between 2 and 3 in the morning, dog tired, and she would greet me with a great big smile on her face, standing in her crib with her little arm hanging over the side, swinging her baby bottle around by the nipple like it was a toy - just as happy as she could be to see me. She had a Gerber baby face and an easy personality.

And she was a cuddler! From the moment she was placed in my arms, she snuggled close. And she was always close to me growing up. Despite having experienced many bumps in the road of her life, she still has an affectionate and giving nature.

When I recognized my son's birthday last September, I made many observations of what parenthood is like and how I would do it all again. The only idea that captures the scope of what it is like to have such wonderful children in your life is ... "Completely and Forever."

Your children completely steal your heart ... forever!

Nothing ever changes that.


Happy Birthday my dearest daughter!
If I had a 100 daughters,
I would still love you best!!

Completely and Forever!!

Love, mom

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Curves - mine!

Now that I have captured your attention ....

This post is not about my curves ... really, they aren't that interesting. And pictures of them would be most disappointing.

I returned to Curves after an absence of 2 months. Technically I visited twice in May, but we were not out of the woods with mom's medical stuff then. So May visits don't count.

I typically go in the afternoon - between 2 and 4. The area is pretty deserted at that time just like today, and it is how I like it. You have the freedom to start anywhere in circuit and stay on individual pieces of equipment as long as you want.

I really like Curves. It provides me the toning and strength that walking doesn't give me. Walking and Curves are like two sides of the same coin.

I love the look of this wall painting in the studio. Starting on Saturday, my daughter and I are going to return to Weight Watchers. We are going to get svelte and be just gorgeous for the wedding in May 2012.

This will be me and my daughter in 10 months!!

Woo Hoo!!

I think I will be the female in the purple top. She looks alittle older than the girl in the pink top (who will be my daughter), don't you think? Or maybe she has Mumps! Look at those cheeks.

Or maybe I am just delirious with the rush of circulating blood surging through my veins!

Here is a poster that hangs in the studio.

I find the message oddly relevant for me as I love French Fries ... except that I prefer my French Fries straight ... straight from MacDonald's.

They have the best fries and I always ask for extra salt!

Ahh, ... simple pleasures.

But this poster is a reminder that as the future "mother of the groom", I will need to give those little gems up in favor of carrot sticks or something.


So here I am at the end of my work-out!

Those are my feet! And those are my Curves shoes. Yes, I have Curves shoes. The studio wants you to use clean shoes on their equipment.

I managed to capture this picture of my feet, when no one was looking. You can imagine just how odd it would seem with me working out on the equipment, holding a camera pointed at my feet and snapping a picture.

How would I explain that??

"I take pictures of all my shoes." or "I love my feet. They are my best feature." or "Wow, look at those leg muscles. Must take pictures." :-)

No, better to just sneak a picture with no comment.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Best Friend

(Here is Grimace with his best friend, me.)

Everyone has a "best friend". My best friend is a Pug named
Grimace Roberto Geronimo Shanks.
He also happens to be one of my grand-dogs.

(Here he is in his "Hawaiian Guy" costume.)

Grimace came to our family at the age of 3,
being adopted from a Pug rescue group.
He came with the name of "Bud",
but who wouldn't change that to a more substantial name like
Grimace Robert Geronimo Shanks.

We know very little of his history before lucking out by going to our family.
But an individual that could give up that face,
didn't deserve to own it in the first place.
And now he has a papa, a mama-to-be, a grandma and an aunt as well as a very grand name.
And that is just part of his extended family.

How do I know that he is my best friend?
That is easy.
Of my 3 grand dogs,
Meathead loves me dearly, but he would choose his papa over me.
Milo loves me dearly, but he would choose his mama over me.
Grimace ... hands down!
He would choose me over anyone else in the whole world.

(Here I am sharing a very interesting and engrossing topic.
Here he is waiting for me to say words like "dinner", "walk", or "cookie".)


Grandmas should love all their grand-dogs equally.
I do.
But sometimes one raises to the level of a Best Friend Forever!

Grimace and I are clearly BFFs!!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Day 2 - Grave Yard View

Today's walk was overcast and looked like rain. I did the walk, but I decided to include pictures from another walk taken in May - that took me past this house in my neighborhood ... a house that has been here long before the neighborhood or the city.

The city I live in has house tours. The tour cost $20 and you can walk through 4 preselected houses. The range of selected houses span the scope of our city's history. We are young. This planned city of Columbia is 44 years old this year. But the span of house history in our county is pretty old.

The house pictured above was build around 1750 - yes, before we declared our independence from England as a nation. It is about a 5 minute walk from my house. I wasn't on the tour, so I couldn't walk through the house ... darn! But its most interesting feature isn't inside.

What makes this house special for me (besides being old and existing in the middle of a 20th century neighborhood) is the old family grave site attached to the property.

The graves date from the mid-1800s. The family name on most tombstones is Worthington.

What I like most about this grave yard ... besides its age and location, is the fact it is maintained enough to not to appear abandoned, but not overly maintained as to make it be in congruent with the age of the tombstones.

I also love that the house has been occupied since being built. Imagine the stories the walls and the graveyard could tell.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


This week I am starting again - Curves and Walking. It is on my calendar and it must happen.

The flower picture is just to put a cheery face on my sad state of affairs! But it is a pretty good picture, don't you think?

Fitting my stuff into mom's home care visitor schedule, her morning tasks, our scheduled other commitments, regular to-dos ... finding time for me has proved to be hard. I am totally de-conditioned. Again.

And this time I am the mother of the groom, so I must get back in shape.

So I am following "Happy One's" lead (again) and blogging about my walk once in awhile and documenting it in pictures. If you haven't had a chance to visit her blog, Life is Good, you are missing out. She shares her daily walks and bits and pieces of her life - alot like other blogs do but her focus is consistently - as her title suggests - Life is Good. We don't hear enough of that now adays.

Again I am taking my normal walking route around the neighborhood and again I am seeking out visually appealing snapshots to share ... and there is always something that catches the eye. And again, I am appalled after walking only 15 minutes how much stamina I have lost. But I push on anyway.


Here is the view from this day's walk.

I usually try to avoid these beautiful walking trails in our city. They are beautiful, serene, and a treasure for those who live nearby, like me, but they are somewhat remote. I guess I watch too much TV, but taking these trails is rare for me because they are outside my comfort level ... except today!
The trails are sprinkled with well maintained playgrounds. I seldom see anyone using them. Guess they are too remote for most people.

The trails frequently spill out into familiar neighborhoods just like this path did this afternoon.

It wasn't the longest walk I have ever done (29 minutes) or the most steps (3556), but I did get out the door on a day when I was feeling pretty down, and I returned feeling more reasonable.

Day 1 completed (again).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mother of the Groom

That is me!

Or will be come May 2012!!!

I have never been the mother of the groom. I have absolutely no idea what is expected. I was a bride once, and my mom helped me, so I have some idea what the mother of the bride does. Of course, that was 42 years ago. And my husband and I were very young. Weddings then were primarily managed by the bride's family - especially if the parents were paying. I would assume that young couples today may still share the controls with their parents if they are young ... but more mature couples ... I am guessing that the whole process in very very different from my personal experience.

What to do! To start with I have offered my help! I am good at taking direction. There is always tons of stuff that needs to be done. (I am not sure what that will be ... I am such a novice.)

And then what!!

Buy a book!! Of course. That is always the answer for me.

And I love They have absolutely everything. I typed in "Mother of the Groom" and up popped a list of books on this very topic (who knew). I guess I am not the first one to ask this question. This book was at the top of the Amazon list!!!

Mother of the Groom by Sharon Naylor
One Click Purchase - and it is mine. Click!!

At Amazon's invitation, I decided to look inside. I skimmed the chapters headers.

Part 4 You Look Beautiful


I will need to look beautiful?? My brain began to race. I must loose weight. I must get a dress, I must have fancy shoes, I guess I will need to get my hair done. My nails are a mess. Maybe I need to get my teeth whitened. Eyebrows plucked. OMG!! ... I will have to wear makeup and panty hose. No!! I haven't done any of that for a long time! Eleven months can pass in a blink of an eye!!!


Thank God I am getting a book!!

Any suggestions from my readers? I am eager to hear your experiences.

One sane thought just occurred to me - no one will be looking at me!! They are all looking at the bride!

Calmness ... all will be well, because she is beautiful without any extra fuss!
My son is a very lucky man!

Friday, June 17, 2011

No Impact Man - A book review

No Impact Man
The adventures of a guilty liberal who attempts to save the planet and the discoveries he makes about himself and our way of life in the process
by Colin Beavan, published 2009.

Ironically, that book title must be the longest title in the world about the topic of minimalism! But don't be put off by the title. It is a great read.

The summary offered on the back of the book reads as follows:

What does it really take to live eco-effectively? For one year, Colin Beavan swore off plastic and toxins, turned off his electricity, went organic, became a bicycle nut, and tried to save the plant from environmental catastrophe while dragging his young daughter and his Prada-wearing wife along for the ride. Together they attempted to make zero impact on the environment while living right in the heart of Manhattan, and this is the sensational, funny and consciousness-raising story of how they did it. With No Impact Man, Beavan found that no-impact living is worthwhile--and richer, fuller, and more satisfying in the bargain.

I will admit, I am a sucker for stories about people who attempt unusual things. Added to that fact, as I get older the statement "More is Less", rings true to me. I am still working on decluttering my life. I am interested in making my life simpler. Just the act of having less in my space, reduces my stress. But I struggle with that concept as well. The "I want" bug still runs rampant in my hobby life.

This chronical is filled with the details of a life style that I would never consider attempting. For example, I like to be comfortably cool in the summer. Turning off the electric power and my air conditioning just doesn't appeal to me. While I could give up my car and use public transportation (especially in a city environment), I wouldn't care to limit myself to just walking or bicycling to get places. I could give up cable TV but I still want to keep my TV to see rented movies. And I am hooked on the Internet. I am more of a middle-of-the-road "more is less" individual. It is fascinating, however, to follow the author's efforts to have no impact on the environment. He tackles each change and challenge with humor and research. And he doesn't propose that this extreme way of life should be permanent. He committed himself and his family for only one year. But the journal of his efforts does raise awareness of the wasteful impact our culture has on our earth. I suspect that if there were more middle-of-the-road individuals on this planet, we could seriously retard the world's general ecological decline.

I strongly recommend this book - not just to increase ecological awareness, but to see what it is like to step outside the box and live differently for a year. I am sure it will have you looking at your world differently.

Thursday, June 16, 2011



Seems to be what I am most of the time.

There is no doubt that mom's hospital stays put me in a sleep deficit. The hospital provides everything you need to get well ... except rest! When you think on it, it is amazing that anyone gets well there without rest. Rest is God's way of replenishing the body. It seems to be the first thing we humans take away when we go to the hospital.

And then there are the nights at home. I sleep well about every other night. It has been like that for about a year. I guess I could ask for a sleeping aid, but I don't think that is the answer. I would be concerned that I wouldn't be alert if mom needed help during the night. So a sleep aid is out.

Exercise is probably part of the answer ... I have slipped off the exercise wagon this spring. I have had many starts, but in keeping it up I fall short. Maybe if we could get out from under the health care visitors we have each week, and I could give up house cleaning, and I could hire a cook, and mom's own exercise needs weren't such a priority for me, and the heat wasn't so oppressive when I do have time, and I wasn't such an excuse maker! Maybe Exercise would be the answer. Maybe.

Maybe I just need to get more sleep. Energy for everything else would fall into place.

Off to check my to-do list for today.

Wonder if I added "rest" to that list, could I do it.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Thank You Letter

June 12, 2001

Dear Howard County General Hospital,

My mom and I came home this day. She is doing much better thanks to you.

It is good manners to thank those who were there when you needed them most. We are not strangers to you, and you have always been there for us when we needed you most.

Thank you Emergency Room!

I dislike a lot of things about you ... your noise, your bright lights, your uncomfortable beds and chairs, and the hours and hours and hours we spend waiting for test results.

BUT, the care we receive each visit is outstanding.

Have you considered piping in some classical music???

Thank you Cafeteria.

I won't starve when I am there. I am not gastronomically impressed, but I can keep up my strength, at least.

You might consider serving the same items you give your patients. My mom had the most wonderful meals brought to her room. I would gladly pay to eat some of those.

Thank you Coffee Shop.

Your coffee and lunch salads are excellent. But on Sunday you were closed!! What is with that?

Sunday is a big visitors day. Why are you closed? I had to buy 2 cups of coffee from the cafeteria today. That would have been two punches on my brand new coffee club card toward a free coffee!!

Oh, well. I am sure we will meet again.

Thank you Gift Shop.

I bought the most beautiful bag there. It made me feel better when I bought it, because I was a little down about missing my day trip to The Mannings Spin-In Day in PA with my cousin on Saturday. It was also supposed to be a day out with my husband - just the two of us. We don't get too many of those.

I know what I did was shop-therapy, but still. You were there to give me that little boost!

Close up of the stitch work. Isn't it beautiful? Everything about the bag is beautiful and well thought out. It is American-made as well.

Even the last day nurse we had commented on the bag. Apparently she saw it in the gift shop as well and thought seriously about getting it.

Then it was gone!!


Thank you Reception Desk. You always greet me with a smile, even though I was the "crazy lady of December" fame!

And thank you "little old lady in the red blazer from December" for not calling the Behavioral Unit on me - when I probably should have had an intervention!

I am much better now!!

Thank you Waiting Area.

This lovely spot is just down the hall from my mother's beautiful room. I love the water fall down the pane of glass, the beautiful picture on the wall (right), the nice chairs for relaxing and the view of the front entrance of the hospital. It is a nice little respite space.

The picture on the right was a favorite of mine.

For the record - this beautiful picture in that Waiting Area is bolted to the wall!

Yes, I checked. I love this picture. My snap shot does not do it justice.

(Please do not ask why or how I know about the bolt on the wall. I will admit to nothing.)

Thank you Human Resources for hiring such wonderful and dedicate staff members. My experiences with all of them - including the red blazer woman - were exceptional.

A special thank you to mom's new Home Health physician, Dr. Kristen Clark. This wonderful physician has visited mom only 2 times previously. Her focus is to keep her out of the hospital. Of course, mom seems to get very sick within hours of our first symptom so it is hard to head off a hospitalization if you wait for the first symptom. While in the hospital mom was well cared for by a hospitalist, Dr. Mahin Choudhury. But Dr. Clark took the time to review the hospital records remotely and brain storm ways we can avoid other hospital stays in the future. She called me in the hospital with her ideas. No other doctor has ever called without me initiating the call. Dr. Clark - you are what all doctors should be!

Finally, let me say thank you to the hospital on behalf of my mom. She may not be grateful right now. In fact, as each day passed and she got better, she awakened each morning with a major chip on her shoulder. She was not grateful for your help, or her improving health, or for the family who has surrounded her every step of the way ... no, she seems to fall back to the "glass is half empty" mentality. I am soooo not that kind of person. So this morning, I set her straight - no pity, just a recitation of all the wonderful blessings she has and how lucky she is, and if she couldn't change her attitude to recognize all the good stuff, her most ardent supporter (me) would sit in the downstairs lobby rather the hospital room with "her-most-ungrateful-self". My voice was raised and my anger was evident. I think she heard me. Once my mom gets home, she may be grateful as well for your excellent care and beautiful surroundings! She wouldn't be as well today if it wasn't for all of you. So my mom sends her thanks, too. Trust me on that.

With that said, let me say that I share my mom's desire to never return here. Five hospital stays in 6 months is a bit much.

But I also recognize that we will be back.

It is comforting to know that when we need you, you are there.

A Grateful Resident and Daughter

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hospital Journey

Saturday night! I sit in a dark, quiet hospital room typing away on my computer while my mom sleeps nearby.

Thank you all for your notes both on the blog and by email regarding our return trip to the hospital. Your well wishes and shared experiences really were wonderful. She is very much improved this evening. I must admit that 6 months ago if anyone had said that we would have 5 hospitalizations, 2 sub acute rehab experiences and 2 home care experience, AND I would be changing my mom's doctor to a person who makes house calls ... I would never have believed it! It has been a challenging 6 months, but we are both "still standing" and as of today, she looks and sounds great! We are hoping for a discharge tomorrow.

Her health continues to be fragile - many serious conditions to manage, and as with all elder care, the future is unpredictable. But while I sit here in the dark of this hospital room, I am content. We have made huge changes to support her many needs and our knowledge base has grown significantly as well.

I have gotten to know this hospital very well. I'd like to share a bit of it with you.

Howard County General Hospital is an excellent facility. Thirty-five years ago this month my daughter was born here. It was very much smaller and things were very different. Today, patients have private rooms (mom's room is in the new wing - very state of the art). Here is a shot of the one side of the room. To the left is the patient's bed and to the right is a couch that opens up to a bed for family members. I don't open it, because I need very little space to sleep. But it is comfortable.

The physician, nursing and support staff are excellent. The patient's food is great. In fact, they call it "room service" because you order what you want off a menu and all the choices mom's has had were excellent. I even love the gift shop. I purchased a bag there that is perfect for these hospital jaunts - it holds everything I need including my iPad in an organized way - many interior pockets. There is a great little coffee stand in the lobby with great salads, sandwiches, and coffee. The cafeteria for staff and guests is adequate - except when you have 5 hospital episodes in 6 months ... then it looses its charm.

We are lucky to have this facility within 15 minutes of our house.

To conclude: I have developed a "short list" of things I wish I didn't know about this hospital. For example:

I now know a few of the ER staff. I would rather meet them for coffee outside of work hours rather than visiting them at their place of work all the time. :-)

I know how to adjust this thing-a-ma-jiggy! It is part of the fluids and meds administration for mom's IV. When the alarm goes off (which is does alot), the flow of the IV is automatically stopped, adjustments to the patient's position are made, and a restart button is pushed. I have even learned to read the screen as it is working. (You have been somewhere too many times when you can work their professional equipment.)

I decided to get a "frequent flyer" card for the coffee shop in the lobby. Ten cups and I get one free! I have one cup marked off. I wish I took a card the first time it was offered to me back in December. I am sure I would have earned quite a few free cups by now.

I discovered exactly where the hospital "behavioral unit" is located. No, they didn't need to send psychiatry after me. I was well behaved this trip. In December, however, I was close to taking out one little old lady at the main reception desk who was totally absorbed in her name tag duties. I still remember her eyes shifting from side to side as I leaned over the desk giving her a piece of my mind and waving my ratty name tag in her face. She was probably all of 90 pounds and very smartly dressed in a little red blazer. I was very tired, very sick myself and very worried about mom. I am sure my hair looked stringy and in a disarray. I know I was rumpled from sleeping in my street clothes. I was in no mood for her rigid adherence to "name tag protocol". I haven't seen her since and I feel badly now about that episode, but at the time, I am sure she was thinking that a call to the "behavioral unit" might be in order for this guest. I found the location of that unit on a floor plan this trip . It isn't something I really want to know.

Tata for now.

Hoping to report good news tomorrow!