Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Urgent care for my Uvula

These were taken where I spent much of Christmas Eve morning. I love that place, on Montgomery east of Juan Tabo, in Albuquerque. I took the photos for the facebook group Zias and Pickups.

I'm better now, because they have great people. I'm very glad my (seemingly) life-threatening problem was NOT tomorrow/Christmas, but on Christmas Eve, when they were open (shortened hours, but I got in) and the pharmacy near me was open, and I was better in just an hour.

Uvulitis. I felt like something was stuck in my throat that was going to keep from breathing soon, because it was already keeping me from talking right and full voice, and I was afraid to swallow. I had tried hoiking it up, but that really hurt my chest and my head. I tried swallowing it. That was really not helping. Poor uvula.

I was very afraid, but as soon as the doctor figured out what it was, and showed her assistant, who was a medical school student, because the combination of my high tongue and uvulitis were a rarity, I was 50% cured, because I was able to be calm, and she said the fix was easy.

Three days of steroids (20mg Prednisone twice a day)
"Magic Mouthwash" (seems to be lidocaine in a pepto-bismol base, and I can gargle with it four times a day, and swish and spit and forget)
Allegra, because it seems I have an allergy, and that might've contributed to it all.

But the combination of those four things (five, with the knowledge that it was not a growth planning to reach out and kill me) had me calm and cheery very soon.

Other negative factors could have been dehydration (I meant to, and failed to, refill the humidifier last night that is there to counteract the...), fireplace (ashes, dust from splitting kindling), way-hot red chile on tamales yesterday afternoon (very hot), a margarita, and not drinking enough water or tea for a few days

So if you ever feel like there's something in your throat and you know it's not a foreign object, and you can't hoik it up, stop trying to. Gargle with salt water, drink tea (maybe with honey or lemon), try a cough drop, drink lots of water, relax if you can, or go to urgent care if you can't.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Amidar makes more sense there!

In a couple of Korean dramas, roommates sharing a house have made decisions or set up chore charts with the use of a sort of game on paper like this:

On a site called "DataGenetics," there's an article about this, and it's the way Amidar (the video game) worked. We had an Amidar game! There are screenshots, and some description,and it talks about the game the motions are based on.
In Japan, it's called "Ghost Ladder."
In China, "Ghost Leg."
In Korea, "Ladder Climbing."

The Japanese word is "Amidakuji" so... Amidar. Tadaa!

And then they have diagrams and explanations for how the randomizing game works, on that page, and I hope you'll look.

The blog "Ask a Korean" has an article with samples and stories: How do You Climb "the Ladder"?

I found all that (except the image, which I lifted from some drama or another) by searching for ladder randomizer Korea

Sorry he didn't have clothes on. He was getting dry after a bath. There was a "fig leaf" version of this photo, long ago, on some '90s computer. Found it (2024).

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Carousel in France, in snow

Pam Sorooshian took me to see several carousels in and around Santa Monica in 2013, after I had taken photos of carousels in lots of places (Leiden, several in England, some in the U.S.) and had become interested in the similarities and differences.

The one is this video (someone's video) has many elements I have seen before, but an airplane up high I hadn't seen (have seen them low to the ground), and the balloon was new to me. Back-to-back chariots (stationary benches) I hadn't seen, either.

It's pretty.

Some of the California photos: https://sandradodd.blogspot.com/2013/10/where-have-i-been-this-week.html

The carousel at Hollycombe Steam Fair in Hampshire:

Friday, November 22, 2019

A recent exchange with Mary Bess Whidden

Mary Bess Whidden
You're friends on Facebook
Works at University of New Mexico and Professor Emerita of English
Studied Shakespeare at University of texas austin
Lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico

9/29/12, 7:56 PM
UT is playing on TV which reminded me to come and look you up on Facebook. My facebook page can be a crazed tarbaby. My peaceful interface is here: http://justaddlightandstir.blogspot.com
2012 passed, and nearly five more years. Then I was at a gathering with Mary Bess, and she was asking about what exciting and exotic things Holly was doing, living in northern New Mexico. I wrote this:
1/29/17, 9:05 PM
Here's were the Wild Holly Dodd is working. It looks like a very beautiful, high-class House of Woo.

They sell singing bowls, and it costs $50 a head for the cave tour.

(There was a photo with this, at the time, of the dining room there.)

Origin provides nourishment, stewardship, community and space for personal and group expression within a 145-acre guest resort in the high desert of northern New Mexico.

Her Espanola yoga teacher (who lives in Taos) was leading cave tours, and when she heard that the owner wanted to hire someone to be a receptionist and figure out all the problems with their bookkeeping and correspondence backlog, to do billing and learn to do cave tours, the yoga teacher recommended Holly, and there it is. Real money, but not real benefits yet.

But they trust her with keys and accounts and money and passwords, and that doesn't surprise me beause she's competent and trustworthy. And she's kinda cute.
Glad to see you today!
She didn't see that, either, for not yet being on messenger, but I had sent it merrily out, and didn't check back.

12/12/18, 12:39 PM
Mary Bess Whidden just joined Messenger! Be the first to send a welcome message or sticker.
12/13/18, 10:42 AM
Facebook says you just joined messenger.
My husband ignores messages on facebook. Some people do.
Now you can see what I sent you last year!
Or, perhaps like Holly does, you'll ignore messages anyway.

It's interesting that more methods of contact haven't really made it a guarantee that people will get messages, and it's coming up on being rude to just call someone without prior agreement. (For young people, anyway)
And then another year went by, but I didn't notice, or mind.
SEP 28, 2019, 9:05 PM
I either saw a fleeting message from you and lost it (it might have been a very old one; my e-mail is messed up), or I dreamed I did.
Either way, I thought it might be worth checking.
I heard Angela had an accident. I hope she's healing, and home.
SEP 29, 2019, 8:13 PM

Mary Bess:
Thank you, Sandra. Broken collar bone and ten fractured ribs with pain. She should leave therapy place, not a bad situation, in about a week. She will be grateful for your concern, as am I. I miss your updates on Keith but am relieved they aren’t needed and have been replaced by peaceful photos of play with grandchildren.

I didn't know the injuries were so... numerous, and in such moving parts. I think a broken leg is a better deal than collar bone and most of the ribs. YIKES.

Just lately the stress came to me, about Keith's survival ordeal.
When it was happening, I was all efficient business.
I've had a delayed reaction, but I'll be okay.
I wanted to say it might happen for you, too. I didn't expect it.
Didn't know it was a thang.

Mary Bess:
You are good to think of that. You were strong and clear-thinking for a lonnng time for such a strong and suddenly bestuck man.

He handled it all better than I expected. I still don't let him drive his big pickup. He drives our smallest car, only in daylight, but he politely goes along with that.

I hope things go as well as they can for Angela and you, for the regular routines and requirements of what you were used to before.

Mary Bess:
Thank you so. To spite the world which reminds us that we are old, we persist, thanks to friends such as you. (Your grandkids pictures give me much pleasure.)

I'm very glad to know you.
There will be two more grandkids coming along.
Two, or twelve (not counting Holly, who is off to Austin (on the way back, by now) with her boyfriend who is 20 years old.
She'll be 28 in a month, and this boy can't go to the karaoke bar with her.

Mary Bess:
Congratulations to all of us!

When Ashlee announced their #2 (that's Marty's wife), I wrote:
I have done math. I have done a graph. I have projected into the future. By 2030, I think we will have 14 grandchildren. Check my figures. Babies born in 2017 (Ivan) 2018 (Kirby) 2019 (Tommy) 2020 (Ivan-sibling) and so on... I think my prediction will be marred if Holly joins in.
No one has pointed out I didn't count Devyn.
If they do, I plan to say that for statistical cleanliness, I have eliminated outliers—her and any baby that might be born in 2040.

Mary Bess:
You are and have always been a wizard. Fourteen! A lot of names and busy brains.

It's science, I think. Math. That's all.
I might go quiet now. Tired. Thanks for the update and the chat.
Good night!
Mary Bess:
Night night and love to all.

Friday night, November 22, Holly's boyfriend's 21st birthday, I saw a couple of notes on Facebook addressed to Mary Bess in ways that people address the dead, there. I finally found a note saying she had passed away of illness, on Thursday night.

There was a party at the McPherson compound in Corrales, on November 9, and Angela came, but not Mary Bess, though this had appeared on the event page:

It is very interesting that Facebook allows us to continue to leave messages for people after they cease to read them. I like it.

Mary Bess was a friend of Dave McPherson's, in my life, but I was glad to know her and to see her so often, over the years, almost always in Corrales at the McPhersons' house(s) —the last couple of times at the new casita).

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Keith, six months post-problems

I posted on Facebook, on the day, and we delivered a thank-you note to UNMH, with a photo.
The next day we took a similar note to the fire station, because it's the day A shift was to be there, but they were off at a meeting, so we left the card with someone who hadn't been involved, and he said he would put it in the kitchen.

At facebook there are likes and comments, but here's the text and the photos I put up on the 3rd:

Today, it has been six months since Keith's cardiac arrest. By the end of March 3, he'd had three of them. March 12, he had another one. That's beyond the point at which statistics are kept, it seems, but he's alive and well.

SCA friends helped with quick CPR (and taking off his chain mail before EMTs got there); EMTs got him going the second time, and made it to the hospital with him alive; emergency room and ICU got him through to evening, and wired and tubed him up to be refrigerated a bit and in an induced coma, pretty much, for a few days.

I still get scared, again, when I think about it. He was in ICU for sixteen days and other levels of hospitalization for three weeks after that. Lots of people helped keep him going.

He's swimming in the mornings, working in the yard, playing music, starting to sing around the house, and walking up past Tramway and back again.

He took out the old juniper bush by the mailbox, and because the dirt was stirred up and there was sunshine, morning glory seeds from past years got happy! I would've just pulled them out, because it was so late in the summer, but Keith keeps building them something to climb on.

They don't seem to know it's too late, so I guess I was wrong. :-) Down below the morning glories are lots of iris and day lillies Keith has brought up there from too-shady parts of the yard. They will probably do fine in the spring, and might be able to co-exist with the morning glories, having different seasons.

Keith takes baby Kirby for cruises up the park to swing, again. We got a bigger stroller, used, so it's easier for both of them.

Sorry I don't have a Keith-and-Ivan photo to go with this. Ivan's a blur when he comes over. :-) Very fast. Maybe he'll slow down some as Keith continues to speed up.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Ten books that influenced me

Without looking back at older lists, I did this exercise again (in a visual-request way) in 2019. (That time it was seven books.)

I found an older facebook post in which I had listed ten in 2014, and then listed what I thought would have been my list when I was 23 (1979).

Here is the 2019 list, and I'll make the images links to the facebook posts, which might still be there.

In that game above, the original "copy this and tag" chain-letter game had a phrase that irked me, and probably is what inspired me to think of "book" in a broader sense.

August 26, 2014 at 9:25 AM

Instructions: in your status, list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don't think too hard. They don't have to be the "right" books or great works of literature, but they should be ones that have affected you in some way. Tag 10 friends including the one who tagged you so they can see your list.
1. Whole Child, Whole Parent (Berrien Berends)
2. Conceptual Blockbusting (Adams)
3. Slapstick (Vonnegutt)
4. Zen Lessons, The Art of Leadership (Cleary, translator)
5. Slowing Down to the Speed of Life (Carlson)
6. The Monastic World (Brooke/Swaan)
7. Learning All the Time (Holt)
8. Man and his Symbols (Jung)
9. The American Heritage Dictionary (editions with the wonderful etymologies since 1969; not all have the etymologies)
10. Material World (Menzel)
No one tagged me, so I'm not tagging. It's just going to sit here. :-)

A couple of recent books I keep referring to and thinking of won't have as many years to affect me as the books above have had, but they're affecting me this year:
Smarter Than you Think (Thompson), about people, computers and the internet
Bad For You: Exposing the War on Fun (Pyle, Cunningham)
(I'll tag people who have already played, whose lists I read: Pam Sorooshian, Rose Sorooshian, Roxana Sorooshian)
I was thinking about what my list would have been when I was in my early-to-mid 20's. The only two above would have been Slapstick and The American Heritage Dictonary.Probably then, those didn't have the roots in me that they have now.

I think my list when I was 23 or so would have been:
Oliver Twist
The Bible
The Sneetches and Other Stories (still important ideas)
The Lord of the Rings
Life on a Medieval Barony
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (Child)
The Ballad Book of John Jacob Niles
The Annotated Mother Goose (Baring-Gould(s))
Joan Baez Ballad Book
Be Here Now (Ram Dass)
But the books I didn't list above that are important in my life are reference books, not read-start-to-finish books (The Oxford English Dictionary; Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable), and collections (The Children's Hour, which I've had since before I was in school; Grimm's Fairy Tales; Chaucer; Shakespeare; Poe; various Robin Hoods, and various King Arthurs and the art in them). I liked the Science Fiction magazines on newsprint, in the 60's, and LOOK magazine, and MAD magazine. I liked Childcraft books (which friends had, I didn't) and the series on sewing and needlework that someone was putting out in hardback in the 1970's (which I saw and borrowed but didn't own).

Friday, July 05, 2019

"Horn toads"

Yesterday morning, Holly showed me that in some rearrangement in her room she had found a little gold-plated horny-toad necklace from years ago.

A while later, I saw that a facebook friend had posted something about horn toads, and I responded:
Sandra Dodd:
Those were everywhere in my neighborhood outside Fort Worth when I was a little kid. They're pretty easy to catch, too. They'll get as big as the palm of your hand (even adult hands). "Horny toads," common kid-name, years back. Maybe still. :-)

Vicki Angeline Dennis
Still called horny toads but doubtful you would see many around FtWorth­čśą. Even 50 years ago not so many as our childhood and I believe spent some years on endangered list. This generation mostly says proper horned lizards but when oldsters lament about things from childhood no longer around is always horny toads.

After the article she had posted, I'll tell the story of the biggest horn toad I ever saw, and it was not in Texas. It was just a minor story in my life, until I found out they're less frequently seen now. It makes my story more exotic, I guess.

The article was about the Dallas zoo releasing some babies "into the wild."
Dallas Zoo sets 46 horned lizards loose with its first-ever wildlife release

Because articles aren't always kept forever, I'll quote it. The author is Charles Scudder, of the staff of DallasNews.com
In a statewide effort to stabilize populations of the state reptile, the Dallas Zoo released 46 Texas horned lizard hatchlings on state land about 100 miles west of Austin earlier this month.

It was the zoo's first wildlife release.

We always want to put things back to the wild," said Bradley Lawrence, the reptiles supervisor at the Dallas Zoo. "It's just so rare that we get to do stuff like this. We would love to do that like every day."

At Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area, a total of 139 hatchlings were released, including 93 from the Fort Worth Zoo, which pioneered breeding programs for Texas horned lizards.

For decades, the reptile has been vanishing from Texas landscapes. About 10 years ago, Texas zoos, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials and Texas Christian University researchers partnered to try to learn how to bring the critter back to certain pockets of the state.

As a side project in that effort, the Dallas Zoo works with wild populations of the lizard at the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch about 250 miles west of Dallas. That work includes collecting data on the wild lizards to help provide additional information for future reintroduction projects.

This September, Lawrence brought the hatchlings born at the zoo to the Hill Country and released them in a clearing surrounded by granite hills. Click here to read more about that project and how Texans are working to protect the Texas horned lizard.

In 1972 or 1973, that school year, I was at the University of New Mexico, and was living in a house near Lomas/Carlisle/Monte Vista. Four of us went up into the Sandia Mountains one day, to a little picnic area that no longer exists, on the east side of the road. People live around there now, but then not nearly as many.

We were able to climb up some, and then there was a huge vista, over toward what is now Edgewood. Not as many people lived there, then, either.

One roommate had gone to babysit us. She had brought a book, or homework or something. We needed a babysitter, because we were there to take LSD.

On the way up there, Alan and I had been telling Dev about horn toads (which little kids call "horny toads," but being sophisticated older people (I was 19, Alan and Dev were 23 or so, I think), we said "horn toads." Both Alan and I had lived in Texas as young children. Dev had lived in India, Ottawa (I think) and then New Jersey. No horn toads. He was fascinated, and a biology student, and asked us more questions. We only had little-kid answers. :-)

We got up there, and Alan and I were lying on our backs, looking up at trees. I remember saying "Look at that airplane, sneaking through the trees." Seemed like that. We were tripping.

Then Dev came back from his exploratory adventure saying "I think I found a horn toad!"

We didn't think so. It was a huge "probably not," because 1) he had never seen one, nor a picture of one, 2) I had never seen on in New Mexico, and 3) he was trippin'.

Dev's carrying a margarine container, out of the picnic stuff. Margarine used to come in plastic bowls with snap-on lids in the early 1970's. The bowls were about 6" across.

We looked, but the clear plastic lid was steamed up. Something live was in there, for sure, and it was heavy. It was as big as the bowl, whatever he had.

We opened it to see the biggest horn toad ever. It was twice as big as any I had ever seen. It was a grandaddy horn toad king. Poor guy was scared, too, but he was absolutely a horn toad, and we apologized to Dev for not believing him sooner. We held it a while, showed him that if you turn them over in your hand and rub their bellies they'll go to sleep (playing dead is probably what they're doing), and then he took it to release it. This was in the days before photos were easy to take, and before disposable cameras, and we didn't have a camera with us.
A horn toad, but not THAT horn toad:

I was very apologetic to Dev for having doubted him, but also shocked at the oddity of the find. I told that story later to someone who lived on the south side of Edgewood, and she said they had seen horn toads on their property.

II have two more stories now, that go both directions from that one.

When I was two or three, before my sister was born, I saw snow on TV and asked my mom about it. We were outside of Fort Worth in those days. She described it to me, beyond what was on the black-and-white TV. Not long after that, she was taking a nap (pregnant, maybe; drunk, maybe) and I was looking out the kitchen door window and saw what I thought was snow. I ran and woke her up and said "It's snowing!"

She was never nice about waking up. Whether I woke her up or she woke up naturally, I always got blamed, but she was the only one there to tell. She got mad and told me it was NOT snowing, and to leave her alone.

It hardly ever snows there, and she thought (reasonably, too) that I was trying out a new word I had learned. I went back and watched that "not snowing" some more, and when she woke up she hugged me and apologized and said that it was snow.

Somewhere there used to be a snapshot of the little snowman my dad made for me when he got back from work. It was him squatted and smiling, posing next to a little metal can, like vegetables come in, that he had tried to stick snow on, with a little snowball about 3" across stuck on the top of it. So it wasn't much snow, but it was snow.

Story #3 is that when I lived with Jimbo in La Mesilla, an area southeast of Espa├▒ola, between San Pedro and Arroyo Seco, my friend Michael was visiting us. So mid-70's. Maybe 1975. We had told Michael about "child of the earth," a odd, big alien-looking bug that people find once in a while, when they're digging in dirt usually, and it comes out of the dirt clean, and looks like it would glow in the dark, and looks kind of like the bugs in "Cootie" games, and nearly as big. Seriously. Scary and weird.
A child of the earth, but not THAT child of the earth:

I only found one image that had something to scale in the photo, but the bug had long antennae like I have never seen, so I didn't bring that one. They're big, though like 3" long in the body.

It was nighttime, and I went in the next room to get something to show him, and in a box of music books was... a child of the earth. I had never seen one inside a house. I had never seen one when I needed one to show someone. I caught it in a pan or something and we looked at it and let it go outside.

Lots of times in my life I've seen something that I had just lately been talking about, or heard a song that I hadn't heard for a long time when it would have the most effect, or met up with someone in an unexpected place, but these two stories of a creature appearing in an illustrative way are among the coolest things that ever happened to me.

The most recent story I've heard of a child of the earth was from Toby Tsosie in Santa Clara. Last month, one walked over his foot. Whoa. In Santa Clara Pueblo, which is just across the river from La Mesilla. I think he was sitting outside. Good.

Those photos are links to more info.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Two baby Kirbies

Baby Kirby Dodd, one year old, 1987 (background), and Baby Kirby Dodd, one year old, 2019 (the 3-D baby).

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Keith update (nearly normal!)

In the same way the personnel at UNMH seemed surprised that Keith lived, the follow-up doctors seem surprised he's doing as well as he is.

Dr. Hai, a DaVita cardiologist, second visit.
Echocardiogram, on June 24, showed the heart flow was 45-50 cpm. Dr. Hai says that's 90% of normal. People without heart attack history are 50-55. People who have had heart attacks are usually 30-35.

Results of a heart monitor he wore for three days a month ago showed no abnormalities in heartbeat. Over the course of three days, it skipped a beat a couple of times, but that's normal for anyone. There was nothing in that test to indicate problems.

Hemoglobin appears low.
Cholesterol looks good.
They had failed to do A1C, so he ordered one.

Lowered the dose of Amiodarone from 800 mg daily to 200 mg daily.

Next checkup in six months.

Note from Sandra: It would be nice to know more from the inserted monitor/defibrilator, but at the first appointment, it wasn't set up to upload data yet. We had another appointment scheduled for three months later, but it was pushed out from three months to four and a half. That's a long time to go without feedback, I think, so I'm glad that Dr. Hai ordered the external monitor. It bothered me at first for being duplication, but UNM doesn't communicate with DaVita.

Keith got copies of the records from his stay at UNM. 400 pages. Dr. Hai kept that to photocopy some parts.

Jacqueline Reeve, primary care, follow-up, third visit.
She wants to see the 400 pages of records from UNM, too.

Keith had blood tests right away for hemoglobin, A1C, and "an iron study."
Keith's been taking an iron supplement for a couple of months, just informally, on the physical therapist's recommendation. Reeve will make a recommendation when the lab work is back.

She listened to his heart just quietly for a long time and said she heard nothing like a murmur, and all was strong and good.

The kidney specialist, Dr. Chen, had recommended Saw Palmetto (capsules, over the counter) to help with an enlarged prostate, but she didn't say how much or how often. Reeve looked it up and recommends 160 mg twice a day. That's unrelated to heart problems, but when there's a big emergency, people seem to stop paying attention to anything else. He's well enough that they're looking at things other than his heart now, which is nice. They sent him to the kidney specialist (I think, it seemed) to make sure there wasn't kidney damage from the cardiac arrests, or from the effects of the ICU treatments.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Keith's wonderful recovery

Keith's progress is remarkable, so here I am to remark. :-)

This week, he has been out of the hospital as long as he was in. And Wednesday's out-patient physical therapy was the last of the set of ten. He doesn't need to go back.

In June, I might start driving him to the pool weekday mornings early. He will daytrip to Outlandish with Paul/Lavan, before then.

Things are good.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Keith update!

Keith is doing well, using a cane sometimes, probably won't re-up for another set of physical and occupational out-patient therapy sessions, even if they're offered.

He's been to another cardiologist (one of DaVita's) who wants to do some tests over the next month or two, and he went to a kidney specialist, at the request of his "primary physician." The primary physician he has seen twice is a nurse practitioner who saw him because he regular nurse practitioner was too heavily scheduled. He also had another consult with the pharmacist, who rearranged his drug-taking schedule a bit.

The cardiologist asked him to stop taking the blood pressure lowering med, because Keith was in there in the clinic, and reading 80 over I forget what—too low. But to Keith's request to stop taking the blood thinner for a week so the pain clinic would give him a steroid cocktail shot for his lower back pain, the doctor said it was too dangerous in the first six months. Oh, and the kidney specialist told him not to take over-the-counter pain killers for it, because they're bad for his liver.

When he was in the hospital, it seemed too many departments were pulling him one way and another without regard for what the others needed/wanted/had ordered. Now that he's home, UNM and Davita, and their various departments, are doing a similar scattery stretch on him. After this current round of tests and visits, I think I'll contact the insurance company to ask for some coordination of care.

That's what I thought this morning, and told Keith, too.

Then the mail came. These were probably mailed on May-last-Friday, May 3. That would've been two months after the initial cardiac arrest. Do you think they wait two months to be polite? Or did it take them this long to get this together? The only bill we've had so far was the ambulance. Thirty-seven envelopes saying "Physician's statement" have all arrived at once. They might not be bills, and we might not need to pay them if they are (someone we went to said Keith's deductible has been met for the year), but it's a scary-looking pile. :-)

I've been opening them as the photo loaded, and yeah... bills.

charges / payment-adjustment / patient balance

Still... it's good that Keith is alive to pay these. :-) Or at least to ask the insurance company which ones he should be paying. It might be the total of this pile that makes his deductible.

Thanks again for the sympathy and encouragement of friends and relatives. Keith's still frustrated, gets tired easily, and sometimes doesn't feel great, but other times he's strong, cheerful and whole!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Two weeks home, seven weeks post-incident

Keith is doing better every day. His balance is improving, he's walking with just a cane, mostly (still uses the wheelchair in the bedroom and his office, because it's more comfortable and he doesn't get as tired). Today he and Holly went to Costco, and he used the cart as a walker. :-) He gets tired easily, still—from a combination of muscle atrophy and of difficulty breathing.

The upper back side of his head above his left ear is still numb. That injury, nobody cared about earlier. It's probably where he hit his head when he fell back downhill on March 3. Because his long hair was all matted up there for a month, it wasn't noticeable until the hair was cut.

There are a few little oddities that will probably go away. He has kerosene cans with a side cut out, flat with the hendle out, as drawers on shelves in the garage, and though he used to know what they all were, now he needs to look in them. He might label them, or his memories might come back. That's not the sort of thing they could have tested him for in rehab—"What's in those cans in the garage?" He said when he's playing music, he's having a hard time not just with breath (lungs, ribs, sternum—that would affect air), but with fingering and rhythm. I think that could be weak muscles, and playing recorder uses muscles way up the arm, on lower notes, especially an alto or tenor, and he's still weak in the shoulders and chest.

This will come back too, but his speaking voice isn't strong, and he can't sing well or right, yet. I fell in love with him for his singing, and his musical ability, and now that's messed up!? Good thing that over the years I've found other lovable things about him. :-)

This morning we went and watched Ivan for an hour at Marty & Ashlee's house. Yesterday, Devyn was over to eat and hunt eggs, and baby Kirby was here. She'll be here tomorrow for a while, too. So he's able to do his grandfatherly duty, which is sweet. :-)

We still play Dr. Mario nearly every day, and we've been playing Five Crowns. Yesterday we played two games of Azul with Kirby and Destiny, and they left the game for me and Keith to play. We will.

It will still take a few months for Keith to get back to his own strong singing self, but he's doing well.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Keith's progress at home, five days in

Five days home, Keith is sleeping better, taking a few steps without the walker, mostly using the wheelchair to get around his office and bedroom, going outside every day with the walker, and sometimes going on errands (with me or Holly driving and helpking). He met a contractor at Marty's house, and he's been to the bank, to outpatient rehab, and a doctor's appointment. He got as pneumonia vaccine, on the pharmacist's recommendation.

Keith says he feels strong, but tires easily and his balance isn't as sure as usual. He's doing lots of things as well as he did before, but there are some lags. There are plans and projects he doesn't remember. He had put half a dozen big rocks all in one place (on a sidewalk in back, near where he had laid in a couple of flat rocks where a hole had been). I moved them onto the grass so the mattress delivery guys could get by. Keith asked where the rocks came from. He doesn't remember, and he hadn't told me, so I can't help him.

Playing Dr. Mario on the Nintendo 64 has been a test for us in the past. We've played until my stupifying drugs kicked in, on dental-surgery days. It cut down my anxiety to play happily until I quit moving pills, and Keith knew I was ready to go. We've joked that it's an Alzheimer's test—if one of us forgets how to play, that will be time to tell the doctor to check for Alzheimer's. Keith is playing Dr. Mario as well as ever. You might think "...or he's not, and Sandra has Alzheimer's", but Holly played with us too, and we were all winning some, and Holly won slightly more.

We play Five Crowns, a game with 116 cards. Keith can't shuffle or deal well. He said he has some fine-motor-skill catching up to do. It hardly shows, when nobody's asking him to shuffle cards. So others are shuffling and dealing, and that's fine.

For the next five weeks (and maybe more) he will go to Encompass Outpatient Rehab (same gym he was in when he was a patient there) twice a week, for two 45-minute sessions back-to-back. Physical therapy and occupational.

He's not nearly well, but he's getting there, slowly.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Keith is home, but things are still...

Keith is home and that's good. We stopped at Marty's to see the new stucco job. It looks nice.

We went to Albertson's to leave the list of prescriptions, and Keith talked to the pharmacist a while.

We came back and unpacked and rearranged, Holly helped, we had some Golden Pride ribs and coleslaw (not much, but Keith's first non-institutional food for a while, not counting yogurt), on the table that's now in Keith's bedroom (so he can eat there, or do things at a table while he watches TV).

The pharmacy called and I went to hear warnings and cautions, hear how to set up the insulin pen, and then came home to try to figure out how to use the blood pressure cuff (lining up some line I couldn't find with some artery I'm not familiar with). Then Keith figured it out. I wasted my time reading and thinking. :-)

Keith's resting on the New Matress with the same old cat, who must be very happy to see him.

Other changes to that room: Grab bars / handles on the toilet and a removable shower head. Holly and Marty helped with those kinds of projects, over the past few days. Paul and Dave helped setting up the base of the bed, again, before the new mattress came. Brie helped clean up high—top of the "headboard" (big piece of furniture), before that.

For those who are curious or know and care, here are the things we got from the pharmacy today:
blood pressure cuff with an electronic screen that will give heart rate, blood pressure, and another thing or two maybe
pill cutter

levemir (insulin cartridges and pre-filled syringes) for which insurance paid $388.26 and we paid $0.
pen needles, for that above ($31.54 we didn't pay)

metformin extended release tablets

lisinopril (to lower blood pressure)
metroprolol (ditto)
atorvistatin (for cholesterol)
clopidogrel (to protect the stents, I think—to prevent heart attacks)
amiodarone (to keep his heartbeat regular, and it's something never given as a home prescription, except after hospitalization)

He can get from the bed to the wheelchair, or get to the toilet with a walker. He can get to his desk chair/computer, or the refrigerator, easily. Mostly, though, for starters, he's wanting to be still and quiet in his own bed a while, I think.

P.S. Keith notes that he lost 25.5 lbs since he fell that day. He weighed himself March 1, and was 229 lbs. Today, home again, 203.5

Tuesday, April 9, 11:00 a.m.

Keith is home! Still recuperating, still taking serious meds (eight things), but he slept a long time, and can get around easily in two big rooms, so good!

I charted how long he was where, this morning. 36.5 days not home. Of those, sixteen were in intensive care (ICU).

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Edging toward home

updated Monday morning, April 8, 2019

The weekend was supposed to be slack time. I visited Saturday morning and we played recorders a while. Holly was coming to have lunch with her dad, so I went on errands by late morning.

On Sunday, Kirby, Destiny, Devyn and baby Kirby went to have lunch in the cafeteria, with Keith, and hung out afterwards until the baby was restless.

Keith expected the rest of the time to be just working on taxes or playing video games (he has his iPad now), but he had three assessments by therapists—speech, OT and PT all did evaluations, in preparation for his (planned, scheduled, predicted) departure on Monday.

I'll go up there at 8:00 or so Monday/tomorrow (/today/whenever it was, for those who read this later).

Five weeks and a day, since March 3. Recovery will continue at home, if all goes well, starting mid-day Monday. I'll update below when more happens!

Monday morning, April 8, 2019

Keith's stuff is all packed up in a big rolling suitcase. He's in the homegoing wheelchair. The doctor came by early, the case worker/coordinator came by, we played Five Crowns in the break room next door to pass time, and the pharmacist is the last character in the play. I think. I believe that after the pharmacists visits, we can go home.

4, 5, 6, 6, 6, 6, 5, 6, 7, 7, 7, 7, 7 All Natural

(My hand, on the final round, kings.)

Still waiting, 11:10. Impatient. Keith was arranging for transport of a tent to Outlandish, and then called Needham to talk about some things to see between Colorado and Minneapolis. We drove that (westward) with three kids, long ago.

A nurse just came in to talk to him about how to take his drugs at home, so this might take the place of the pharmacist's visit.

Home on Monday afternoon!

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Keith still in Rehab

UPDATED FRIDAY NIGHT, April 5 (update before that was Wednesday—I slacked)

Rehab hospital continues, Days 4-8

Monday, April 1, 2019

Keith's brother Gerry had visited him in the morning, and Keith missed lunch talking to Gerry, which disturbed his caretakers.
Later his blood sugar was low enough that they didn't give him an insulin shot, but maybe because he missed lunch.

At night, I visited and we worked on bills and taxes. I took his dirty laundry home. SO BORING! Good, huh?

Tuesday, April 2, 2019, Day 5

Keith had two physical therapy sessions in the morning that kicked his ass, he said.

Mid-day, Kirby took Keith a third pair of glasses from the house. The first two were falling apart. If these don't last, there's one more pair in the garage. Keith said it was a good visit, with Kirby.

Back at the house, we had a big electrical repair/upgrade all morning, and baby Kirby ws here in the afternoon. Holly helped with her after a while. I called Keith at the hospital to see if there was anything I should bring other than the clean clothes, and he said he had lots of company and I didn't need to come. Paul, Dave, Lori and Mark were all there together. Tomorrow, though, Keith wants me to come and go with him to an appointment with the cardiology doctor at UNMH. I get to ride in the van; Keith will be transported in a wheelchair.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Biggest news is that the projected discharge date has been moved to Monday, April 8 (from Friday-the-5th).

Successful visit to Cardiac Device Clinic at UNMH (Fifth floor, but not the same 5th floor Keith was on before.) We know more about the defibrillator. If his heart goes below 60, it will "pacemake" him quietly.

If he gets crazy heart beats, it will shock him hard. WAIT! NOT JUST ANY. If he has ventricular tachycardia, for just a few heart beats, it won't shock him, though it will be seen the next time they review the records that will be transmitted from the house to the clinic. If there are 20 heartbeats, though, that are dangerous, it will shock him then.

If he feels fine after the shock, we're to call Armando Sanchez (a physician's assistant; we met him today) and he'll see him the same day. If after the shock Keith feels unwell, then we call 911. If the monitor makes a noise like a European siren ("the auditory alert"), it means something is wrong with the equipment.

The battery might last 11 years. The amount left on it shows on the monitor at the clinic. When it gets to the red mark, it will mean he has three months left, and they'll schedule a replacement surgery.

Then we were driving back, in the rehab center's van, with Keith in the wheelchair strapped in all directions, me in the front. Dinner. Salmon and wild & brown rice. Really not bad at all.

Keith's really tired, so I'm going home and he's going to sleep.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Keith has rehab sessions three hours a day—one physical therapy, one occupational therapy, and one speech pathologist doing various evaluations sneakily worked around playing games or asking odd questions or having conversations. Stealth stuff.

Wednesday, there was a meeting about Keith, and he was given a copy of an evaluation sheet that goes from "Dependent" (needing 100% Assistance) through some other descriptions to "Independent." Let's think of it as school grades. That's easy. The only A's he had were eating and expression. Some A- (Mod I— "with a device, or needs extra time"):
  • wheelchair (can go 150 ft. with his feet because they don't let him use his hands, because of broken sternum and not-yet-healed chest implant)
  • comprehension
  • problem solving
  • memory/orientation

I am not used to Keith not being zippy with those things, but he'll catch back up, I'm pretty sure. Sometimes he does forget conversations or details, even from things this week. But after the haircut, he also discovered a numb place on he back of his head (kinda sore, but not discolored). The PT thinks maybe bone bruise. I suppose it's where he hit his head when he first fell back, in the park. Nobody bothered to care about a head bump, given all he rest. And maybe that's going to take some time to heal.

He didn't have any of the two "lowest scores".

Thursday, I visited and we played Five Crowns, and ate dinner together. He got his mattress replaced. A few days prior, he had been given an air-rearranging mattress to prevent bed sores, based on a score involving age and injury and time in the hospital and I don't know what all. But for three nights, it randomly aired-up here and there, and kept him awake and uncomfortable. Then a nurse figured out it was set up wrong and wasn't working. When she had it set up right, it looked like a soft roundy trough, and would have been hard for Keith to get in and out of. The lad nurse told him he could refuse it, and so he did. They switched it out nearly immediately.

Friday I was there for his physical therapy session, so I could learn about how to help him with some of the exercises, and to remind him about some things involving walkers, and for the therapist to look at some photos of the shower and toilet and the ramp, and to give us some ideas and reminders. No rugs in the bathrooms for a while.

Keith said that Thursday night he slept six hours, on the regular bed. When he gets home, he'll have a new mattress. It's here, but still airing out, and the base needs a tweak (Marty's coming Saturday to help me with that).

Before Keith fell, he was nearly through with our taxes, and told me that morning (March 3) that he just needed to check the numbers and we could sign it. Because he's still in the hospital, and they don't do rehab on the weekends, I took him all the papers, bundled and marked to match numbers on photos of each end of the table where the stacks of paper were—9 stacks. He worked on it a while, messaged me to bring him another form tomorrow (found it online easily; printed two copies, but this is the bad part: He doesn't remember any of that project. None of it looks familiar.

When his memory did start working again, when he knew where he was, usually, a couple of weeks ago, he couldn't remember anything past February 27. I thought that might change, but it hasn't, much. There are a couple of incidents he remembers, or remembers hearing about, but others are gone entirely. That's nearly a week.

I took a photo today, of something outside in one of the courtyards. They're physical therapy areas, extensions of the gym, with practice stairs, and a ramp, and a car (to practice getting in and out of) in one, and walkways and tables and a basketball hoop in the other, but there's also beauty, in colors, and some furniture, and many blossoms and blooms this month. I also did a sneaky photo of Keith, practicing on their steep ramp.

One more thing, for the record. It's from Wednesday, when we were at the cardiac device clinic. Keith had four cardiac arrests, because the incident on Tuesday, March 12, counted, too. His heart stopped between shocks (between two of the eight shocks that day), but the 260 beats per minute and the irregularity of them was what one doctor called "a lethal rhythm." He wouldn't have recovered from that naturally. Armando Sanchez said that they wouldn't have shocked him if they didn't consider it to be that. So Keith had four cardiac arrests—three on March 3 and one on March 12. Being a little slow to remember something, or not really speedy with a walker yet, isn't so bad. I think today will have been his last formal therapy sessions over there. Unless there's some major objection from one department or another, he'll be released Monday. Maybe he will have finished the taxes by then, poor guy. Good thing his room there has a desk, and he can sit in the chair about as long as he wants to, now.

April 6-8, in rehab

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Keith, Encompass, the weekend


This is an end-of-the-day summary. Now that Keith has his phone, we have communicated that way, and it's nice.

Keith got a visit today from the fire department captain from Day 1 / March 3, who swims at Sandia Pool where Keith swims (did, will) in the mornings and who recognized Keith while his guys were doing CPR.

There was an OT session in the gym in the morning, Keith ate very little lunch but didn't want me to send any food to him; said he wasn't hungry.

Holly took all the clothes Keith had requested. He's been feeling cold.
Bela was visiting while Holly was there, too, and Holly said they were talking SCA stuff.

Kirby, Destiny, Devyn and little Kirby went and had dinner with Keith in the cafeteria there. Keith said he fed the baby half his mashed potatoes and gravy. He was happy to be feeding her.

This is the first time there are no medical details. That's progress!

Tomorrow is our anniversary. Thirty-five years. Six before the wedding, if anyone's really counting everything.


Marty and Ashlee visited from about 9:30 to 10:00 and wheeled Keith to the gym for his only scheduled session of the day, which was to play Taboo (a game where people guess a word, but you can't use any of the clues on the list on the card). There were five players. I slipped in there pretty early on.

I ate with Keith in the cafeteria there. It was good, and not at all expensive. $5 or so per guest Mine was less. Depends what you order.

We went back to the room and I showed Keith the photos, on the blog posts of this last month. He texted with Gerry, his brother, about a Monday visit. Beau and Laurie came with recorders, and the fours of us played for an hour, in the meeting room next to Keith's room. It was good, and it was fun. Keith sounded great, even though he said his wind wasn't good, and he couldn't manage the tenor, but he wasn't missing the ends of notes and phrases. Probably way better therapy than that little plastic deal to breathe in and hold your breath, that they give post-surgical patients sometimes.

Keith isn't finding a great position for sleeping, because of the broken ribs. Also a big place on the back of his head is sensitive and sore. Probably it's good that I didn't manage to get his hair untangled. It would have hurt for me to mess wih a comb back there, as I turns out. Maybe it's where he hit his head when he fell, four weeks ago.

It's Sunday, and this started on a Sunday, so four weeks have passed.

I sent him a text, to see if there was info to add here; I came home because Marty was coming to help me with some of the bedroom rearrangements. Either Keith is asleep or off at dinner. Either one sounds very nice.

Monday through Friday, April 1-5

Friday, March 29, 2019

Keith at Encompass Rehab, Friday

UPDATED 9:30 PM, Friday, March 29, 2019

(missed) PM, Thursday, March 28, 2019

I had planned to write here when I got home from visiting Keith in his new-temporary home, but I was tired, and Holly was home with stories, and I forgot. Sorry.

It's a big room, people are energetic and attentive all around him, and he was going to have a shower, when I left. When I got home, he had texted that the shower went well.

Oh! I forgot to say that finally, that last day he was in the hospital (Thursday) he finally agreed to keep his phone and glasses.

8:39 AM, Friday, March 29, 2019

Another shower already! Part of the therapy is helping him regain skills and the ability to take care of himself so they can send him home.

Their target date for release is April 5, next Friday. Good, I guess, because that's the day the new mattress is arriving, in the morning.

He has three hours of therapy scheduled every day. This shower and him dressing himself is part of it, today. He said he dressed himself this morning for breakfast. I saw him stand up to transfer from a wheelchair to the shower chair, and he stood up on his own for maybe 20 seconds, holding to a door, but not a walker. They didn't send that walker with him from UNMH.

9:30 AM, Friday, March 29, 2019

Unexpected problem. Finally I was able to try to get tangles out of Keith's hair. For over two weeks, I've been carrying spray detangler and a very forgiving comb, in my backpack. So today, I tried. I couldn't get more than a few ends out of this:

After I tried with fingers for a while, and was not making it better, Keith suggested maybe giving up and cutting it. I thought about how difficult it would be for him to take care of it even if I did somehow manage to untangle it. He had another physical therapy session in less than an hour and a half. It just so happened that one of the few things Keith had asked me to bring from the house yesterday was a little pair of scissors, very sharp Fiskars, from his bathroom. He said cut it, so I started working on that. The big mass of tangle came off without even dropping hair. Then I trimmed the rest up.

The texture of what's left is really soft, and it's various colors.
The beard had been trimmed before the implant surgery on Wednesday.

"It will grow back."

Keith had a big breakfast and doesn't even want the Chobani yogurt drink I brought. He had eggs with cheese and green chile, a bit of French toast, coffee, cranberry juice, some fruit cup. The coffee gave him low blood pressure, seems, but he didn't get dizzy. All that dizziness and nausea from standing up and doing things at the hospital isn't happening here. Very cool.

9:30 PM, Friday, March 29, 2019

After Devyn's gym class, I took her to see Keith, and we met the rest of her family there (Kirby, Destiny, and the little-baby Kirby). We arrived just as they did. The purpose of the gathering was so that Keith could see this special announcement:

I had known for a whole three hours or so, myself. :-)

Notes on the weekend, March 30 and 31

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Implantation of ICD, and (maybe) the last few days at UNMH

UPDATED 5:52 PM, Thursday, March 28, 2019

6:15 AM, Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Keith called me at 6:15 to say they brought him the release papers to sign, and he's first on the list, not last, today, in the surgery.

I was planning to go up there, and I still might, if he calls me back and says he's in the room and recovered enough (if I could get back home in time to babysit mid-day). If it all takes longer, I'll go see him after 6:00.

He cut his beard short (last I heard—maybe shaved it off), so visitors should be prepared to see him look like his brother, Gerry. Maybe only family will know he looks like Gerry. :-) (Hi, Gerry.)

They shaved his chest, too. The plan is to put the icd on the upper right, because of his left-handedness. Plans don't always work as well as they might there, or anywhere, I guess, but it might be nice not to limit his movement so much on the left. Eventually he can move all around, but for the first some days or weeks, he's not supposed to lift his arm high near that device, and not have repetitive motion on that side (ever). One doctor assured him that splitting wood wasn't repetetive motion, nor was swimming. So I'm not sure what they consider to be repetitive motion, in a shoulder or arm.

10:18 AM, Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Keith called, back from surgery. They installed it on the right. He was asleep but not deeply sedated. There was serious local anesthesia.

A nurse said Keith could experience gaps in his memory about/after/because of this morning's procedure and anesthesia.

10:35 AM, Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Keith said they did ask one question, when he was already on the table, that hadn't come up before. "Do you use a rifle?" Maybe if he had said yes, they would have considered putting it on the opposite side of his dominant hand, but... they already WERE supposed to put it on the "wrong"/less normal side. The organiation of information acquisition and delivery, about that device, has been the worst of all the experiences in the hospital.

The first week, I was super impressed with everyone and every thing. From about the 10th day on, I became less enchanted, until now on day 25, I react too quickly and sharply. Partly, surely, it's me getting tired, and frustrations building up, a bit. Nothing that people do now that seems wrong or neglectful can be the first or second incident. But partly, because Keith is no longer dying, he's way down on the priorities. It's a world of triage, where requests about a urine bottle someone is able to fill on his own (but not empty), or a box or tissues, or a drink of water... no urgency. The nurse call lights on the bed don't work, and haven't worked for years. I didn't know that when I pressed one because Keith was throwing up, last week. It's still lit, because they don't know how to turn it off. They're using the nurse call button on the TV remote now, but those others are still on the bed, looking like they ought to be good for something. And they light up! ...on the bed.

But Keith is alive, the defibrillator is installed, and though we've heard conflicting info on what it will and should do, perhaps there will be some actual paperwork somewhere, before he leaves, about exactly what was installed and what settings it has.

5:15 PM, Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Keith says when the physical therapist came by, she said she wanted to rescind her recommendation of skilled nursing, and send him to inpatient rehab. There are only two in town—Lovelace and Encompass.

Barb, a discharge planner, came to talk to him. She contacted Encompass,and someone from there will come and talk to Keith. I don't know if that's to evaluate him or what, but if it's tomorrow, I might be there, and will report here. :-)

10:25 PM, Wednesday, March 27, 2019

I was with Keith for a few hours. I took him strawberry rhubarb yogurt. He likes strawberry rhubarb pie, and was happy to find a yogurt. I got it there in time for him to count it on his dinner carbs count. Yay.

He had the papers, official box (with a same-weight and size defibrullator like the implant, for him to play with and show his friends, I guess...), lots of booklets, THE booklet that goes with it, two pamphlets. I read nearly every word. That's tiring. I read the interesting or new parts to him. He can't use a chainsaw anymore.

I'll go back in the morning.

9:20 AM, Thursday, March 28, 2019

Two days ago Keith and I were talking about how now that all the personnel have phones, there aren't loudspeaker calls for doctors and such.
Yesterday I heard one, though, that said "New patient arriving, room 5-something." So I told Keith I heard one.

I had just arrived on the 5th a bit ago and heard "Denny, you're needed in 560."

Keith's room is 560. Denny was the nurse yesterday. And today, turns out. I thought I would rush over there and help Keith with whatever he needed from Denny, but [SPOILER: Keith is fine] when I got to the door, Denny was in. And another guy was in. And Keith was on the floor. But they were all cheery, and Denny looked at me and said "He didn't fall."

Gabe, the tech, the other guy, had been helping Keith move from the commode chair to a sitting chair, so he could eat breakfast from a chair, but Keith felt light-headed, and said he felt like he was falling asleep. I think it's called passing out. So the best Gabe could do was gently get him on his back while he was "falling asleep."
Here is how I spelled that: I asked Siri "How do you spell the heart medication metopolo?" Because that's what I had written down when Denny said it might be (that).

I should've been asking Siri all this time!
Denny said it could be the Metroprolol. I asked what that was and he said a blood pressure medicine, and it could make him light headed.

Keith was totally sweaty, there on the floor, but was able to propose a plan by which those two guys could help him stand up to get on the bed, and it worked.

He ate nearly everything on the breakfast tray, plus a bottle of yogurt drink I had brought. Cool.

Then he called the roofing company to make the final payment on the roof at Marty's house.

Keith says they're keeping his blood pressure unnaturally low. He doesn't know why. Before this, I would have asked, and written it down, and looked things up, but now I don't care as much as long as he gets out of here at some point.

5:02 PM, Thursday, March 28, 2019

I'm home, but Holly's with Keith and he's being moved from UNMH to Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital.

More info later.

5:52 PM, Thursday, March 28, 2019

Holly says he's in his room there, recovering from the transfer. The facility sent a wheelchair van, and (I think) they picked him up from the room, and took him by wheelchair. For some facilities transfers, it's gurney and ambulance, but this wasn't. I'll visit tonight, and maybe later tomorrow I'll understand more what can be recommended for visits or assistance, if any/anything. Don't visit without checking, please, until we know more. Thanks!

Early on at the Rehab

Monday, March 25, 2019

Keith at UNMH, Week 4

(This first said Friday, but it was Monday; I had cut and pasted from elsewhere and not corrected.)

Last updated 3:00 PM Tuesday (March 26, 2019)
Keith is still in room 560, 5 West

9:25 AM Monday (March 25, 2019)

It was a Sunday afternoon when Keith came here (May 3). It's a Monday, so Week Four is on, for sure.

Keith ate lunch! Really ate. Drank all his chicken noodle soup. Ate almost all of a fair-sized piece of chicken breast with some sauce on it (and Mrs. Dash on all that), and some cooked carrots. Drank milk. Ate yogurt I had brought in.

He's able to rearrange himself in the bed really well. The only thing he's hooked to is oxygen, and that's an option. The machine is quieter with the little bit of extra oxygen. But if Keith wants to take that off, nobody will complain.

From the morning, I hoped I'd get to talk to the discharge counselor, and we waited a few hours, but at that time we thought it would be about Keith moving out to a rehab facility in a few days. Since then, some things have been learned.

A physical therapist came to work with him. He stood up and walked to the wall and back a couple of times, but he was dizzy, and so that's all they did. Because of this, the recommendation will be a skilled nursing facility when he leaves, and not rehab. She said inpatient rehab costs five times as much as skilled nursing, and the insurance companies don't like that. (And Ashlee pointed out later that the co-pays might be considerable.) Also the PT said that if Keith were to go prematurely to rehab, he could be "demoted" to skilled nursing, which would be another ambulance transfer, or if he got hurt or medically affected by the rehab, he might end up back here at UNMH. There is a possibility (likelihood?) of being at skilled nursing for a while and then transferring to inpatient rehab from there. She said I should advocate for that.

What we already did know about the difference between skilled nursing and rehab was that rehab expects one to have the stamina to do three hours of PT a day. Skilled nursing might only have one or two hours of physical therapy. When that was first said, it went with the idea that Keith might have to go to skilled nursing first if he still had any tubes in him (feeding, or drainage). With tubes gone, we thought rehab was a default, but he's dizzy.

The internal medicine lead came to talk to him and said that after he's out of the hospital, and out of rehab, there will still be at least three months of follow-up appointments with EP (Electro physiology), Cardiac, and his primary care physician.

Someone came by from cardiology to say that it will be Wednesday afternoon before they can implant the ICD, so his nothing-by-mouth starts tomorrow night, not tonight. (And he might still be bumped from the line, but she didn't say that this time. The last time she said if more pressing cases come along, he might be bumped.)

So at the moment, the vague plan is:
  • Tuesday: More sitting up, maybe sitting to eat (though he's not eating much).
  • Wednesday, no eating at all, surgery in the afternoon (with light sedation and local anesthesia)
  • Thursday... maybe (MAYbe) moving to a skilled nursing facility, or not... or having surgery, or not...

I told Keith I'm hoping we will look back and say that he was in the hospital for nearly a month. Not "for a month."

9:25 AM Tuesday (March 26, 2019)

I forgot to say yesterday that Keith reported to the internal medicine doctor that he felt weaker in the left arm than the right, and that he's a lefty. The doctor jumped at that, and started having Keith squeeze, push, pull, with both sides, both hands, arms, feet, and legs. It was perceptible, the doctor said, but minor, and might be from being in bed. Sensation seemed to be good on both sides, and Keith's face ("Smile big, raise your eyebrows, close your eyes, open your eyes") was still symmetrical, so no stroke symptoms.

Also, from yesterday, the nurse had said that if Keith wanted, after the physical therapist left, he could have pain meds—either oxycodone or Tylenol. Keith, after standing, stretching, taking a few steps to the wall and back, twice, and lying down for being light-headed and tired, said his pain level from down from a 3 to a 2, because he had stretched his back and it felt better. Nice.

Today I'm babysitting (a bit later), and was here to meet an electrician, so I'm home, but here's info from today (per Keith by phone) is that he sat up for dinner, sat up for breakfast, but standing up is still difficult. They wanted to do a shower, but it's down the hall and around, and would involve some standing, and it seems too much for now.

That was all written this morning, but I didn't post it. The electrician came by, I went to print out some articles about cardiac arrest and an ICD, and the baby showed up. Sorry...my P.S. from 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday

The thing I was looking up was about Keith driving. The cardiologist who is doing the procedure tomorrow visited him, with the resident who had talked to us before. The doctor said it wans't true, that Keith couldn't drive. He would be safer driving than before. That goes against everything I've been told, and read, including the dumbed-down-for-patients printout from last week. So I was printing out studies, and didn't get back here.

Week 4 continues here

Friday, March 22, 2019

A few days of waiting

UPDATED 7:20 PM Sunday (March 24, 2019)
Keith is still in room 560, 5 West

9:25 AM Friday (March 22, 2019)

Feeding tube is out, Keith is taking pills himself with water.

He's having a bit of his breakfast, and with the pineapple and orange slices (real, not canned), I made a bit of juice for him. "Glucerna carbsteady therapeutic nutrition", chocolate, on corn flakes was the best part. (Better idea than full skim milk and artificial sweetener on cornflakes.) Still, he doesn't want much.

He's wanting to go home, but there's no way. Because the feeding tube is out, and the chest tubed is clamped off again (trial to see if it's really needed). When the chest tube is out, he'll be waiting for physical therapists and being frustrated that he'll probably be here another week. He said he's getting bored, which means he's better.

Kim from occupational therapy is here. Hooray!!

10:05 AM Friday (March 22, 2019)

He sat up on the bed, transferred to a toilet chair, got tired and hot, and got back in bed. That's a pretty big deal, and though his joints are stiff, he still has his strength, and bodily awareness, so I'm guessing physical therapy will go smoothly.

Here's how aware he is: He told the PTs that he was having an xray at 10:30, ordered by Pulmonary. That's true. Nice.

11:15 AM Friday (March 22, 2019)

The chest tube is gone. (Third chest tube, removed about 10:45.)
They said they might need to turn the oxygen up, later, but the nurse just came in and turned the oxygen down. Keith's sensor was disconnected (by PT, or X-Ray, or Pulmonary), so when she hooked it up he was like a genius of oxygen-breathing.

10:20 PM Friday (March 22, 2019)

Kirby visited Keith after I left, and said Keith wanted him to make sure I knew that Keith does NOT want a mechanized electric bed, when he gets home. Fine. But he's willing to have a new mattress. Good.

I posted this on facebook just now:
A little Keith report:

On the 17th (five days ago) I wrote "Yesterday Keith was so much better that today I'm taking his glasses and his phone to him."

He still hasn't wanted his glasses, or his phone. He said he doesn't want to try to focus. Sleeping is his favorite thing, but it's hard for him to stay asleep because so many people are in and out, including me. I've tried to go less, or not stay as long, but sometimes it's good that I'm there for one reason or another.

He'll probably be out of there in less than a week, and into a rehabilitation facility for a while, and then home in April, sometime.
He seems to have all his mental facilities in there—not always all unhindered by exhaustion, frustraion and confusion, but he's remembering details about the work being done at our old house where Marty lives, like company names, his contacts, the name of the woman who answers the phone at one office, what we owe, and what needs to be done before final payments—his passwords to online banking. This are the kinds of things I can't remember on a healthy, calm week!

Every day I carry the comb and detangler Holly sent with me nearly two weeks ago, and a bag that has Keith's phone, his charger, and his glasses. I offer glasses every day or two, and so far he has said no. I think tomorrow might be a hair-combing day. I have little rubber bands, and if I can get it combed, I plan to make a braid.

5:45 PM Saturday (March 23, 2019)

I was at the hospital in the morning and left for a few hours, during which Bela came but Keith was sleeping and he went away for a while.

My trip out was to buy a new mattress (to be delivered April 5), and to go home and look at some bills, to come back and report, and to print something out from Keith's computer notes. Done and done done.

Keith is eating a few bites of this'n'that now. Three bites of grilled chicken, a couple of bites of mashed potatoes, some cooked carrot, and some leftover pears. Ate all of some salad with italian dressing. Drank skim milk. End of dinner report. :-)

Outside his door is a sign about letting him sleep. They've tried to let him sleep in the daytime, too. I was sneaking in this afternoon and his oxygen monitor beeped. Being awake in the day might help him with this, though:

6:10 PM Saturday (March 23, 2019)

Two days ago when Keith found out he can't drive for six months, he said maybe we should go on a cruise to the islands of Denmark. So I thought a bit about getting him a passport, and visiting Carolyn in Sweden, and whether we would really do it.

This morning before daylight, all the electricity went out at the Albuquerque airport. Backup generators failed. Big mess. I didn't know, but Keith had seen it on the news, and told me when I got here. What I had seen, to tell him, was that a Viking ocean-going cruise ship was disabled off Norway, in bad weather, and all the passengers were being taken to land by helicopters that held 15 to 20. That was going to take quite a while, to get everyone off, but at least the ship didn't sink. That's good.

Those are not good omens for a Viking cruise tour of the edges of Denmark, but on the other hand, the odds of it happening twice are small. (Right?) Like the odds of having two (or three) cardiac arrests in one day, and living to talk about going to Denmark as a distraction, if one couldn't drive (to the swimming pool and to breakfast, to music practice, to SCA events, to Lowe's to buy lumber, to Steve's to work in the shop and swap stories, to Costco, to take my van to get gas at Costco, to take Holly's pickup to Costco for gas...)

Keith's asleep, but his oxygen went below 90, so the machine is beeping. He woke up. I told him if he could let that machine train him to breath deeply when it beeps, he wouldn't hear it so much. He went to 87 before breathing it back up to 91, where the beeping stops. He's not using outside oxygen at all now.

He's not able to get out of bed, or walk, but he can rearrange himself in the bed, and I saw him turn over completely on his side yesterday, to go to sleep, before I left. He's starting to watch TV, too. He's still not interested in having his phone or iPad, though. He wore his glasses briefly, to look something up on the computer, and then said they were too uncomfortable, in the bed, at that angle.

I'll go home soon, and tomorrow I'm doing some things around the house.

9:00 PM Saturday (March 23, 2019)

I just got home. When I left, Keith was watching figure skating on TV, and was hoping to see Saturday Night Live, if it's on, but he was also sleepy. He reminded me to get gasoline on the way home; the van was below a quarter tank, and he's usually the one to buy gas. I asked if he cared where I got it, and he said no, but closer to the house would have better prices than there by the hospitals and the freeway. Very Keith-kind of thinking. :-)

7:20 PM Sunday (March 24, 2019)

I didn't go in today, but I have reports from two groups of visitors that he looked great, was mobile in the bed (could rearrange himself easily), was chipper and talking politics. I'm glad to have missed that part. :-)

Monday/tomorrow I'll go to hang out and see if it's time to start his exit strategy. If all goes well, he might be out Wednesday or Thursday, to another facility, but we don't know where yet.

Week 4 in the hospital; read more