Thursday, January 31, 2013


Mom has been in her new assisted living apartment for a few days now, and seems happy.  The nurses, who she says are very nice, help her to the dining room for meals and help her bathe and help her dress and undress.

She said her new home is smaller than her old one but big enough.  She sounds like she's trying to be really positive and cheerful on the phone, which I take as a giant improvement over being sad and panicky and in pain.

Her tv doesn't work, the maintenance guy has been by yesterday and today to try to fix it but hasn't been able to figure it out.  I'm hoping my brother and his wife will go visit again soon, they both are good at fixing that kind of thing.

The weird thing is the meals.  The nurses have been helping her go to the dining room, but she said the big room is nearly empty.  There were, she told me, six people at lunch today and eight at dinner.  At lunch she sat with a woman, they introduced themselves to each other, then the woman never spoke again.  Mom is convinced that only a few people live there, which seems unlikely.  I'm afraid maybe it's full of people who are not able to leave their apartments.

Mom had a parade of people visiting her in the two days before she left her old apartment, everyone there just loved her so much.  They were all so social, trading newspapers and making copies of crossword puzzles and bringing each other fruit from the big bowl outside the kitchen.  Actually, one of Mom's closest friends, Mickie, called her today.

I hate to think there may not be any possibility of friends or a social circle for Mom to be a part of.  I know this place has activities and chapel services and whatnot, which would imply they have residents who participate.

My sister is still looking into getting a motorized wheelchair or scooter for Mom that would make it easier for her to get around.  She really does seem to be so much better now, except for her trouble walking.  Her pain from the cracked sternum and broken vertebrae seems to be minimal now, and she's been sleeping well and eating more.

I am just massively relieved.  I've been calling her twice a day, and she just sounds fine every time I talk to her.  I sent her a pretty card in the mail, I hope she gets it quickly.  I'm thinking about sending her some flowers.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Mom has had a doctor visit, for what seems like ridiculous tests to be admitted to live in the assisted living apartment (she doesn't have TB, I promise) and has endured the longest car ride she's had in half a decade, has eaten a little bit for dinner, and is now in the new place.  Alone.

I just talked to my sister, who assured me that the facility nurse on duty knows Mom is overtired and in a new place all alone and will need help to get up to go to the bathroom (or to get up at all, for any reason).  There's a string taped to the nightstand for Mom to pull if she needs anything.

Greg keeps telling me to remember that they love her, too.  No one wishes Mom anything bad, everyone wants to take care of her.  And that's true.

Her actual furniture and her bed won't be there until tomorrow afternoon, so she's actually in a "show" apartment across the hall from her real apartment.  And there's no phone in there, so I can't even talk to Mom.

Anyway.  I am absolutely going to assume that everything is fine, until I know that it isn't.  Because maybe she is asleep, and comfortable, and just purely fine.  And maybe the nurse on duty will be sweet, and will check on her, and will come immediately when Mom calls.

That is certainly possible, even likely, and that is what I am assuming.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


I've been calling Mom two or three times a day since coming home, and she sounds good.  Except that she hasn't spent much time out of bed, other than sitting in her chair for meals and one shower. She has a day nurse, Helen, who has (I think) a Jamaican accent and seems determined to get Mom out of bed at least once or twice a day, and a night nurse, Dana, who we met when we brought Mom home from the hospital.  They both seem very nice, and competent, and kind.

My brother has spent the past two days having a colonoscopy. According to Mom it went fine with no issues or anything scary.  (Mom had colon cancer a decade ago, and I guess I need to go have a colonoscopy myself sometime this year...  Ugh.)  My sister has spent the past few days looking at assisted living facilities, and plans to move Mom next week.  I am fairly fearful that she is overestimating Mom's strength, but like Greg says, I have to remember that they all love Mom too and won't do anything to harm her.  I'm trying really hard to be positive and assume everything will be fine, and I'm hoping to go up for a quick weekend sometime soon to see Mom in her new home.

Before all this happened with Mom, before the fall that fractured a vertebrae and before she was in the hospital, Greg and I bought a new bed. It was delivered last Saturday, and we love it so much.  It's a platform bed with drawers underneath and a (fake) leather padded headboard that's perfect for leaning on when reading in bed.  We also got new nightstands and lamps, and a new mattress.

Mattress shopping sucks a whole lot, and it's a scary thing to buy since you really have no way of knowing how much you will actually enjoy sleeping on this thing you are spending a buttload of money on.  After I did a fairly obsessive amount of internet research and after going to a half-dozen stores and lying on dozens of mattresses, we picked a Sealy memory foam mattress with latex and gel layers.

Oh man, we love that mattress, and the new bed, and the new bedding we got from Bed Bath and Beyond with their ubiquitous 20% off coupons.  We got a pretty gray duvet and an alternative down comforter and pillow shams and the whole thing is just so cozy.

Last night I was lying awake worrying at around 4am and thinking about how I was, at the very least, extremely comfortable.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Greg told me today that several people at his job, both co-workers and clients, asked after and expressed sympathy for us and for my mother.  I realized that if I hadn't called my boss on Sunday and told him I would be out a few days, it's entirely possible no one would have noticed.  I kind of assumed he would tell the department I sit in (even though I'm not part of it), but judging by the Oh hey, you're back, where have you been? this morning apparently that didn't happen.

I remember at my old job when I called my boss to tell her my father had passed away, she cried.  Here no one even knows me, really, or anything about what's going on.  I feel pretty adrift a lot of the time at work, being departmentless and kind of alone, but today I really felt lonely.

My mother hasn't gotten out of bed since she went home from the hospital.  My brother and sister haven't gone to see her, both being an hour or more away, and both being busy with medical procedures of their own and looking for an assisted living place for Mom.  Greg says I need to remember that they love her, too, and I can't control everything.  But it just makes me cry to think that there's no one there to be sweet to Mom.

I know she doesn't just need someone to be sweet to her, I know that won't change everything.  She's in pain and she's sad and she doesn't seem to want to be here anymore.

I just can't get over feeling like sitting at a desk working on spreadsheets is so stupid when there's no one to hold Mom's hand.

I don't really understand what's happening and I'm afraid I'm doing the wrong things at the wrong time. Everything seems so potentially important: should I call Mom's nurse and tell her she needs to get Mom up whether she wants to or not?  Should I call my sister and tell her to stop going to church stuff and go see poor Mom now? Should I drive up there myself? Is the fact that I seem to be freaking out more than anyone else a clue that I'm overreacting?

I guess it's possible that my brother and sister will get Mom moved into an assisted living place and she'll settle in there and get stronger.  But it seems like a remote possibility to me right now.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Mom can't really walk and has trouble sitting for more than a half hour or so. She's back home in her apartment now, but she can't get around at all, so she has a nurse with her all the time.  My sister is looking for an assisted living place to move her into that would provide medical care. I am hoping Mom can regain enough strength to sit up long enough to get around in the motorized wheelchair her doctor is getting for her.

Greg and I are back home. We left Gainesville at 4:30am.  I hated to leave because Mom will need to move very soon, hopefully within the next week, and I know it's going to be so hard on her.  She'll be moving into a place near my sister, and I know seeing her more often will be good for Mom, but leaving all her friends and her social circle and the routine she knows so well will be devastating for her.

I'm just so tired and kind of numb.  The last two days are just a blur of hospital stuff, nurses, problems and stress.  I told Greg at one point that I don't think I'll ever be able to do anything big enough to pay him back for how much he's helped me: making uncomfortable phone calls to my brother and sister to give them bad news about insurance and financial stuff, stepping in to speak up for me when he could see I was getting upset, making me eat and making me rest and holding me while I cried.

The main thing that stands out from the blur is holding Mom's hand, I sat on the end of her hospital bed and held her hand for what feels like the whole time I was there.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

It's late

Trying out the Blogger app on my iPhone. I'm in bed, Greg is asleep, and Alabama is cuddled up next to me. I have been crying and worrying and even panicking a lot the past few days, but now that I know that plans are made and bosses have been called and the alarm is set for us to be up at six and out on our way at seven I'm a lot calmer.

I do think Mom will be there in the hospital tomorrow when we arrive, and I'll see her and hear her voice and be able to speak to her.

My fear is that if I don't go now I won't have the chance later. I don't know if that's valid or me just freaking out, she's got injuries but no illnesses. But she's just declined so drastically since we were there three weeks ago, and she's apparently having such trouble walking and even sitting up, it's weird, and frightening.

Everyone here is asleep but me. I just wonder how Mom is feeling right now. I hope she's comfortable, and sleeping, too. She's so frail.

Mom fell again, and cracked two vertebrae. She's in the hospital. She doesn't seem to be doing well, and I'm scared. Tomorrow morning Greg and I are driving up there.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

If My Worrying Helped, The Whole World Would Be Problem-Free By Now

Mom had a bad week.  She had an ultrasound and it turns out her sternum is cracked.  The doctor gave her tramadol for the pain.

She's also been having problems with being very shaky, not just unsteady on her feet but shaky in general.  I actually didn't notice anything like that when I was there at Christmas, but she said it's getting worse.  Tuesday she couldn't walk very far at all, even using the walker, and she sounded really confused when I spoke to her on the phone.  She hadn't been down to the dining room at all for meals because she couldn't walk that far (they were bringing meals to her apartment), and couldn't sleep.  My brother and sister were talking about looking for assisted living homes for her to move to, and getting a motorized wheelchair for her.

I was pretty upset at work.  I can't help but think that, at her age, any serious physical problem might be the end.  I walked around at work that day all teary, trying to lose myself in thinking about work stuff so I wouldn't just worry pointlessly.  It was hard.  That night when I called she said she couldn't do the crossword puzzle she does every day, which scared me a lot.

But on Wednesday things got better.  The tramadol was messing with Mom's brain, she stopped taking it and has been herself again.  Her doctor thinks the shakiness is because of a thyroid problem and is sending her some new medication.  He also arranged for a home health nurse to check on Mom a couple of times a week, and a physical therapist to help her get back to walking (with a walker) again.

I spoke with the nurse ("You're her daughter?  Oh, your mother is just so sweet!") and they seem to think she'll be fine, that with the medication and therapy she won't need a wheelchair.  The physical therapist told Mom she'd be walking to the dining room again within a week.  Mom said she was going to throw away the tramadol.

In the meantime, she hasn't left her apartment, but her friends Mickie and Wilma and Marie are coming by to visit and help her out, which cheers her up.

I'm trying to calm down about the whole thing, but it annoys me tremendously to be so far away and to not know every single detail about exactly what is happening.  Despite multiple phone calls and emails with my sister, I still don't understand what the doctor thinks is wrong with her thyroid and why it would cause her to be so shaky.  But things are definitely better.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Off The Chain

I missed my movie-watching goal last year by about a million.  I kept the Movies page updated with every movie I saw, but it was way less than what I originally planned.  Honestly, I spent more time watching great tv shows: Downton Abbey and Homeland and Girls and Newsroom and Breaking Bad and Big Bang Theory.  And those were great and worth watching, so it's all cool, I guess.  I think I was inspired by several movie geek friends who watch 300-400 movies a year, but it's just not that high a priority for me.

Out of all the movies (few as they were) I saw last year, two really stood out.  The first was Midnight Son, an independent movie about a vampire.  I just happened to be walking through the room when my husband started watching it to review for his site and I got drawn in. It's spare and poetic, dark and beautifully shot, and it's not a typical vampire movie; it's realistic.  It's creepy without being terribly gory, and it's just... sad.  I enjoyed it tremendously.  Though it was pretty low budget, it's not hard to find, it's been on premium cable channels and it's available to buy or stream on Amazon.

The other was Finding Hogwarts.  I read about it and saw a trailer last summer on and pre-ordered it (which means my name is in the credits!).  It hasn't been distributed so it's only available on their site, and it's clearly very low-budget, even having a few obvious technical problems.  Having said that, I loved it.  It's a documentary about the Harry Potter fandom in general and a few friends in particular who go to Scotland in search of Hogwarts.  The interviews with people who have been inspired by the Harry Potter books were touching and I really found myself liking them, and obviously as a Harry Potter fan I can relate to the intensity of the emotions. This movie is probably only for Harry Potter fans, but I'm really glad I bought it and I know I'll watch it again. 

Today Greg and I got up relatively early (for a Saturday) and went to see a 9:30am showing of Django Unchained.

I absolutely love Quentin Tarantino.  I love his over the top dialogue, his pop culture and movie references, his strong female characters, his originality and his badassery in general.  I've loved him ever since I saw True Romance - twice - in the dollar theater in 1993.  Our little cat is named after the hero of True Romance: Alabama Whitman Worley.

Patricia Arquette as Alabama: "You call for a date?"

From Joe Morganstern's review in the Wall Street Journal:  Django Unchained is "wildly extravagant, ferociously violent, ludicrously lurid and outrageously entertaining, yet also, remarkably, very much about the pernicious lunacy of racism and, yes, slavery's singular horrors."  Ferociously violent is right, there were two scenes that were horrifically bloody and tremendously disturbing and I'm sure I wasn't the only one in the theater who looked away. For a long time. But there are also some very touching moments, and one truly hilarious scene that still makes me laugh when I think about it.

Overall it's a revenge movie, and despite the disturbing parts, it's fun, because it's over the top, intense, and truly BAD ASS.

So I am discontinuing my movie watching goal, however it does occur to me that it's been a long time since I've seen some of Quentin's movies.  Greg and I watched Jackie Brown not too long ago, but I haven't seen Reservoir Dogs or Natural Born Killers in years, and I never did get around to watching Kill Bill parts 1 and 2 together.  Maybe I should have a new Quentin Tarantino goal...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Eve

Greg and I went to our friend's party last night.  In the decade that we've been together, we've spent new year's eve at parties, hanging out with friends and even spent a couple of years at home just watching tv (including last year). Last night we actually had invitations to three different parties, which made us feel unreasonably popular.

Our friend Sue is a great hostess.  I actually wasn't feeling so great yesterday and seriously considered staying home, but Greg said that even though he was willing to go the party alone he was sure he would have a 75% better time if I went.  So I went.  I mean, he'd done the math.

There was a lot of good food and good champagne.  We got to spend time having conversations with several of our very favorite people.  I heard how a friend's medical problems are still bothering her, how  another friend's parents reacted when he came out to them, and learned a new way to tie a scarf.

Greg and I have lost so much weight we are 2 sizes smaller, so we went shopping last weekend and bought some new jeans.  Greg looked super great in his new jeans and new shoes, and was happy wearing the cool Chainsaw Massacre t-shirt that used to be too small for him.

Sue had left her laptop out in the living room still logged into Facebook, which was too tempting for Greg, who posted as her:  I love Greg, he is the awesomest person ever. His new skinny jeans and kicks are hawt. Oh yeah, Ellen is pretty cool too.

I spent an inordinate amount of time by myself, wandering around taking photos with my phone of things like Sue's pretty light in her dining room, and having conversations with other people on Twitter.

Doesn't the house look cozy and warm from the outside?

We hung out around a fire outside.  The weather here in Florida was in the 50's, so just chilly enough to enjoy a fire without being too uncomfortably cold.

It was a good party and I'm glad I went.  Happy new year!