Monday, November 30, 2009
I am certainly not opposed to online shopping. I do it often, although I much prefer to do it at home instead of at the office. I've done some Christmas shopping online already this year. But if retailers want to entice me to shop on "cyber Monday" they're going to have to step up their game. A lot.
If it's just a decent sale price then it's nothing to get excited about. Free shipping is great, but, frankly, I pretty much expect that. All the time. And if you won't give it to me on the average Thursday, one of your competitors will. Guess who I will buy from?
One of the great things about the internet is that it has taken competition for the shopper's dollar to a new level. Unfortunately, online retailers have not risen to the occasion as far as I can tell. But, then, I'm a person with my own high speed internet connection, which I was putting to use on Thursday, when the deals were better than they are now.
Do retailers just think we won't notice? We do. Really.
If you really want to compete for my money you've got to do better. Honest. Here I sit with a high speed connection and I'm blogging on it instead of buying on it.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
--- Albert Einstein
Of course, I think most of us would argue that Einstein was very smart, but there is some wisdom in this statement.
I've always been a great "starter" but not always a good "finisher." In the last few years I've made an effort to address that, and I have to say I've been pretty successful in making changes.
Part of the process has been to realize that some things simply take a long time to accomplish. I've been working on this novel off and on for eight years now, although I haven't had any brain power or energy for it in 2009. But, it has been a real learning experience for me. Some things do just take an extended period of time.
Friday, November 27, 2009
What I didn't get was much sleep. I will be rectifying that situation shortly. I desperately wanted to come home and nap, but knew that was a very bad idea because then I'd be up half the night. So, I'm trying to stay vertical until a reasonable early time to go to bed.
I also got some goodies for myself today. As always, I end up shopping for myself more than I should.
My big purchase of the day was a new phone. It's a droid - the Samsung Instinct. It's the fastest phone on the market at the moment and so far I like it. I say that even though I don't really know how to use some of the basic functions on it yet. Learning how to answer it is a must before I go to bed tonight. It's embarrassing to have to call people back and tell them I couldn't figure out how to answer the phone when they called. It does, however, provide a tremendous amount of amusement for folks.
One of my stops this morning was the local target where there was no parking in the entire lot, and hundreds of people waiting in line. I think it's the largest crowd I've been in for a black Friday sale. There's some fun involved in the whole experience, although I certainly wouldn't want to make a habit of shopping this way.
I think tomorrow I'll stay home most of the day. Without hundreds of other people around.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
It was disappointing that I couldn't go to Joplin as planned, but I decided to make the most of the day here. Amy invited me to join her group for dinner, and I really appreciated the offer, but just wasn't sure if I would feel good enough to be decent company. So, I bought a take out order of turkey at Roy's on Wednesday and today I whipped up some sides to have a traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner. Well, minus the things I don't like anyway.
Okay, and here's the big confession... I love that jelled cranberry sauce right out of the can. I know, it's not very sophisticated, but I like it. I've made cranberry sauce a few times, and I like different relishes people make, but I also like the stuff out of the can, with the rings imbedded in it. I don't know why, but I do.
I also baked a pumpkin pie for dessert. It was quite tasty, although not as great as it would have been with my own pie crust. But I just didn't feel like doing the pushing and pulling necessary to roll out a crust so I cheated and bought one.
Late this afternoon I went outside to see the Space Shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station pass through. It was really cool to see both of them at one time. The ISS will be visible again tomorrow night about 6, but it was really neat to see both of them tonight.
Tonight I started decorating the Christmas tree. Greg put up one of my small, 6 foot trees for me the other night. I wasn't going to decorate a tree at all, because I'm certainly not up to my usual tree and decorating extravaganza. But, I decided I wanted a tree of some sort. So, he set up this tree and brought up just three of my boxes of ornaments. So, I'm just going to use whatever is in them, as opposed to dragging out the other boxes too. Of course, every box has some precious things in it.
One of these boxes held this Santa, that I bought in Amsterdam while on a trip with Matthew.
Matthew and his family have been on my mind all day. I'm still not used to the idea that he's not out in the world. It just doesn't seem right to me.
But, today I decided to be thankful for the moments we had together, the great times we shared, the travel experiences we could have only had with each other, instead of lamenting that we won't have more. Matthew is one of the few people I have ever known who understood my desire to cram as much living into every day as possible. We were in sync on that, which is probably one reason we made so many wonderful memories together. I'm so grateful I have those memories and the trinkets like this Santa that bring them flooding back.
I hope you've had a wonderful day filled with gratitude.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 146
My friend, Dean, posted this quote about the abyss on Facebook the other day and it was just what I needed to read at the time. Isn't it interesting how often life provides you with just what you need?
Tonight I decided to search out the context of it and, again, see something I need to read - the bit about monsters. It seems I've been occasionally fighting monsters for awhile now, and it's obvious I've been taking the wrong approach. I need to just let them be and give them no more energy.
I walked away from some monsters earlier this year, but they circle around in other people's lives that are intertwined with mine, cropping up occasionally wanting to engage in my world again. No more fighting against that. I will take the direct approach, and remove the people from my life who are still involved with the monsters. It is the proverbial two birds with one stone situation, and requires no more fighting with monsters for me.
For the first time in months I feel like I'm on the right path. Tonight when I was writing in my gratitude journal I had a bit of a breakthrough that was long overdue. Again, life providing when one is open.
I'm at a turning point where I have to make a new life, a new way, a new path. I've been here before, but it has always been more obvious. This is more subtle but no less necessary.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
But I still write by longhand in journals. The writing done by hand is different. We now know that different parts of the brain are engaged when we type than when we write with pen to paper. I always knew this, as I'm sure any devoted diarist did, but science has caught up with us.
Since I've been writing in the blog, I have written more sporadically by hand in journals. Periodically I've thought this was an error, and would rectify the situation by going to my paper journals more often.
But, as we approach the end of this year, which has been a very difficult one for me on multiple levels, I realize just how critical it is that I spend more time with pen and paper. I have started with my gratitude journal.
Science has proven that keeping a gratitude journal is one sure-fire way to increase your happiness level. I need more happiness. I'm not clinically depressed, I am "appropriately sad" given the circumstances I've found myself in this year. There's a big difference in those two things.
It would be very easy to have my doctor medicate me so I don't feel sad. But, I know from experience, grief will have its due. Period. There is no short cut. And there's no point in delaying that. So, I'm grieving the losses of this year - from body parts, to an innocence about one's good health, to the death of a dear friend, to losing the holiday celebrations I had planned. Part of that processing has to be done with pen and paper.
At the same time, I am spending time with my gratitude journal each day. I have so much to be thankful for this year. Amidst the losses, I was blessed to get the news thousands of people are praying for every day - "benign." I was lucky enough to have friends who rallied around me at various steps in the processes. I had great care. I have a new job I really, really love, working for people I respect a great deal. I am also fortunate enough to be able to understand why some have drifted out of my life this year. I'm thankful to be feeling strong enough to release those people.
It has been difficult to be close to me this year - it has been a frightening journey at times and you can't keep from putting yourself in my shoes at such a time. I understand some people just don't want to go there. I understand - it's scary, it's difficult, it's painful. But I cannot carry any of those relationships into the new year. I'm overdue to bid farewell to them.
So I'm going through a process to let go. I spend some time thinking about the positives of each relationship I need to part with. I appreciate the relationships for what they were, and then accept that they are no longer beneficial for the two of us, for whatever reason. Then I say, "thank you for the time we shared. I wish you well on life's journey and I release the bonds we've built. Thank you for being part of my world for a time. May happiness, laughter and goodness be yours all the days of your life. Thank you and goodbye."
I have decided that on this Thanksgiving I am going to spend the day in a constantly thankful frame of mind. I think that will do wonders for my own good mental health. Yes, this year has had many losses, but it has also offered much to be thankful for. I'm going to focus on that and spend some time with journals, making those blessings even more tangible with words formed on paper.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
The Big Giant Head has made his inaugural appearance in the Hutchinson Kansas Christmas Parade. Greg and Sharon have been working hard on this for a couple of weeks. He looked magnificent!
Of course, I couldn't resist other scenes from today's parade.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
A few days before we went, I was at a Wichita CVB event where one of the actors spoke a bit about the show. We were in an area of Century II where we could see what was being used as the backstage area for the show. I took a little video to share.
The red and purple cases are makeup and hair. The black ones hold costumes - generally one per actor.
He said all the wigs are made by hand, with real human hair. It takes about 40 hours to make just one. He described it as much like making a latch hook rug.
All the shoes, masks and costumes are made specifically for the actor. They trace their feet so the shoes fit perfectly. Everything is hand beaded. He is the backup for the wizard and said the material for the vest was $200 a yard. But, he said of the costume designer, "She won the Tony. They give her the budget. She spends it."
There are 32 people in the cast. He said 75 people travel with the show, and that comes up to 110 when they add locals, including 12 costume people locally. Six of the orchestra members travel with them and the rest are local.
It takes 14 semi trucks to move the equipment. Originally there were 17, but they now do some of the magic by hand instead of with machines and that cut down on the number needed.
I tried for the ticket lottery the day I was over there for the CVB event, but was not fortunate enough to win. But, we ended up going after that anyway. It was quite a spectacular production and funny. Very funny.
At one point the green witch and the blonde witch are thrown together as roommates and are describing each other to their families. The blonde witch has a long list of ways she explains her roomie, but when it's the green witch's turn she just says, "blonde."
The blonde witch is very perky and excited about lots of things. I had a moment or self-awareness while watching it, thinking, "wow, I've always been blonde... I just never dyed my hair."
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The Cosmosphere sent a bouquet of these beautiful, brightly colored daisies today. They're a perfect complement to the lovely bouquet the arts center sent a few days ago. I just got those last night when I got home from the hospital because they had delivered them to the neighbors a few days ago. Trish brought a live plant to the hospital, too, so I'm surrounded by some nice nature even though I'm in the house.
I've had some time to think in the last few days and some questions keep coming to me. It's easy to push them aside when one is wrapped up in the hub-bub of daily living. It's more difficult when that is set aside and there's little to focus on except the basics - living, breathing, dealing with pain, moving on.
I'm so very grateful to be on the other side of this. And thankful for the great care I received. I will be happy to get back to some semblance of "normal," although it will be quite some time.
I'm reconciling myself to spending Thanksgiving in Hutchinson instead of in Joplin with Greg's family and going to see Andy Williams in Branson as we had planned. Last year Mia, Greg, Miss Joy and I went and it was like watching a 1953 Christmas special played out in front of you - just perfect. But I simply can't travel there yet and I want them to go ahead and go. I'll just have to live vicariously this year.
Of course, I had already accepted I would not be able to do my usual Christmas decorating this year - that would be wrapping up now, but I just couldn't do it. And ordinarily I would have all my shopping done but this year I literally started the day after I got back from Christmas last year on this medical journey and haven't focused on anything else. And, ironically, now I'm not able to go shop. So, I think I'm going to have to take a pass on the traditional holiday season activities this year.
It will be very difficult to not be with my family in Kentucky, for only the second time in my life, and the first time in 25 years, but I simply won't be able to be in a car for that long by then. I've never missed a Christmas with BC, but it just can't be helped this year.
This is also the first time I've ever gone a whole year without visiting Kentucky. But, there hasn't been a time this year I was able to do it when I had the time to do it.
I'm looking forward to many wonderful moments in the Christmas season - they will just be different than what I'm used to. Maybe I'll find some new traditions I love. I always remind myself when I'm decorating that, "you only get so many Christmases in a lifetime." I'm going to relish every second of this one. Every second. A few months ago I wasn't sure I would even be alive at this time of year. But I am. And I'm thankful. And I'm going to express that gratitude by embracing the season.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
I've been working on Cosmosphere things from the hospital today. I'm glad I had the opportunity to check in on my work email or we would have missed a television interview opportunity. Technology is amazing. It's somewhat incredible I could communicate with the folks I needed to about that and schedule it, all from the computer and cell phone, while people are going in and out taking my blood pressure and asking me to rate my pain. Do not worry - I did not communicate with the outside world while the lortab was kicking in.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
I'm doing fine at Promise Regional Medical Center here in Hutchinson Kan.
I'm still in ICU as a precaution because the surgery was more extensive than expected and I appreciate my surgeon taking care. I'm astarting to see a trend that good surgeons are very careful surgeons
I will most likely go to a room on the telemetry floor tomorrow where they can monitor my heart for a fib
if a room there is not available I will probably remain in ICU although that's just my guess
I know who won oprah's karoke contest
my surgeon no longer seems to think I'm just a drug addict wanting painkillers but that I was actually in pain after being cut open - of course I'm being sarcastic but we seem to have found a better way to communicate which is certainly helped by me not having a tube down my nose and throat (who says communication degrees are useless)
I've been up to walk three times today and would have gone more if someone were available to go with me but they were very busy and I will go more before bed
the last time they let me go walk by myself
my nurse says I'm the best post op patient she has ever seen in her 30 plus years of nursing about getting up and walking (and I like to be best but I would so like it to be about something else)
I only have my phone to communicate with, which is why updates from me are sparse. Greg will have to find his own excuse.
My thumb typing speed has improved
Greg is bringing my laptop tonight but I have IVs in both hands and don't know how much I will be able to type anyway
I hope to be able to get a Facebook Fix
my nursing care since Bob (please wait for the angels to sing his praises because he was extraordinary) has ranged from good to excellent and I'm very thankful
if I could offer just one piece of advice to nurses it would be to slow down and take it easy
if I could offer one piece of advice to administrators it would be to create a circumstance where nurses can slow down and take it easy
I'm mentally and emotionally making adjustments about the holidays because I know I won't be able to travel at all by Thanksgiving and certainly not to Kentucky by Christmas (expect my tree to begin its ascent during the long July 4th holiday of 2010)
I feel really good, considering, but it will be awhile before I am normal again
My surgeon tells me this surgery was certainly as major as what I had in !anuary. I was not prepared for that. This was supposed to be simple.
I'm going to find out the name of the doctor who came up last night to see an elderly woman and declared, "That lady is a miracle." I like doctors who believe in miracles.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
sent from mobile device
greg will update u on any big news.
sent from mobile device
Doctor Holcomb just left; he has ordered that Patsy (still in ICU) get up and walk four times today in order to avoid blood clots and pneumonia. She sat up in bed at about 6AM and it was somewhat painful, so she's not looking forward to walking, but acknowledges the necessity.
She is currently in A-fib but they are giving her diltiazem to slow her heart to a normal level. She's normally on a daily dose of sotalol to prevent A-fib but it was suspended for the surgery. I had asked that her normal dose of sotalol be kept up as an IV solution but was told it is not available that way.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Moral of story: when a friend is in the hospital, always make sure the gadgets are doing what they're supposed to. Sometimes nurses do not trust the ability of patients to account for the passage of time since the last patient-controlled dose (probably often justified), and they don't know that Patsy is particularly good at this.
Her night nurse tonight, Keri, seems like a fine one - takes care of business and is considerate while doing so. Her day crew today was exemplary, too; there's a day nurse named Bob that we'd like to clone. Patsy is much happier and less scared of the possibility of un-attended pain tonight.
Sharon is sitting with Patsy and I in the ICU; Sharon will have to leave later as she has a day crew to run at her landscaping business, but I hope to stay here, or in the waiting room (discretion of staff) until Dr. Holcomb makes his rounds tomorrow AM. He's an early one...makes the rounds about 5:30-6:30 AM. He seems willing to take the time to explain anything he can although like most specialists I've met, will not engage in speculation as to when she might be able to ride in a car, etc.
The night nurse has been a little concerned about Patsy's oxygen level being too low(hovered around 87-93, earlier) and says she needs to breath more to counteract the suppressive effects of the pain medication. It's better now...up to 95 right before I send this post at 9:14 PM.
I'll report when there's anything new.
Holcomb did not prescribe the morphine pain pump last night as they wish to ensure the stability of Patsy's vital signs first. Maybe she can have one after being released from ICU.
Ann hung around quite a while last night and helped out, and Sharon is furnishing some valuable back-up for me when I have to leave.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
She's not going to like the news of that hospital stay, having gone into surgery expecting only the hernia repair and a two or three day stay..
Thank you all for being concerned. - Greg
Patsy was taken back for her hernia surgery later than scheduled today, at just about 5:15 PM.
I've just been informed that the surgery on her hernia is just starting at 7:10PM. There was a slight delay due to having to deal with some adhesions that had formed, but all is going well. A small bowel resection had to be done, but without talking to the surgeon I have fews details on that.
Such adhesions may explain some of her pain these last few months.
Before she was taken to surgery, we were fascinated by all the technology. In the photo, Patsy is wearing a sort of inflatable gown that warms the patient via an attachable air blower. It reminds me of an astronaut suit, or one of those inflatable Halloween costumes. It pretty much works, but she had a tendency to complain her fingers were cold just as she'd hold those icy digits against me and cackle with girlish mischief as my life's warmth was tapped.
All that just to illustrate that although she has the normal apprehension about surgery, her spirits were fine enough to pester me.
Ann was not able to be her nurse, but did pop in as we waited and helped with an IV right before Patsy went back. Medical people don't usually have trouble finding a good vein for an IV in Patsy, but this time they did. We think it's because she's a bit dehydrated.
I'll post again when I know more.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Sunday, November 08, 2009
This butterfly was out enjoying the beautiful day at Dillon Nature Center Saturday, like me and a ton of other folks. We've been having incredible weather and I've been disappointed I haven't felt up to enjoying it as much as usual. So Saturday I decided to go out for at least a short walk.
There's something magical about moving along the Earth under your own power. We take it for granted, but that physical connection with putting foot to ground is important. All the great prophets and thinkers throughout history have gone to nature at some point. We all need our time of wandering in the wilderness, literally and figuratively.
Unfortunately, there wasn't much solitude to be found there. But there were plenty of sights to remind us of how fortunate we are to live in a world where color and form abound.
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Friday, November 06, 2009
I'm amazed at what you can learn about a person's life from those brief status updates in Facebook. I feel like I have a small sense of what Jami's days are like and I love that. I'm so very glad we are able to connect in that way.
For a long time I had a note on the bottom of each blog post, asking people to friend me in Facebook, but it has been rare that anyone has, although people will often tell me when they meet me that they've wanted to. So, this is an open invitation - if you're a blog reader and want to connect on Facebook, please do. I'm there under my own name, so you can find me easily enough. Of course, I don't have the benefit of knowing who's reading, but I'm always flattered when I meet folks.
It's always a rare treat to get to spend a few hours in conversation with Martha and I treasure those times. She said something at dinner tonight that really made an impact on me.
"Clearly, you have transitioned."
I'm not even sure what that means yet, but I know it was a moment of real truth. You can recognize those when they happen - it's as if time stands still and the angel choir sings. I wrote it down because I immediately knew it was truth.
I suppose in some ways we are always in transition - good or bad - we're generally in the midst of some kind of change. But, I believe what Martha said is true. I have transitioned. So, now I have the task of defining myself as this new person. I'm not even sure what this person does differently, but I'll figure it out. At this point I just hope it's for the good.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Sunday, November 01, 2009
The Big Giant Head made his inaugural Halloween appearance tonight. Greg, Sharon and Mark were all working on getting him set up at one point.
We had a steady stream of trick or treaters tonight. Annie stopped by, which was fun. I believe a good time was had by all.