Saturday, June 02, 2007

at home

I’ve been so busy trying to catch up and coordinate and breathe I forgot to post. I mean I remembered that I needed to only after I was in bed going over stuff in my head.

Stanley was discharged from Bridgeport Hospital on Thursday. He was supposed to go home in the morning but we didn’t get out of there until around 6:00 pm. There was a lot of stuff that had to be arranged and infectious diseases had to figure out what kind of meds Stanley needed to do at home.

Dr. Lobo came in and said he’s 60% sure it was Bartonella that set off the growth—but I think that’s because he can’t figure out any other causes at the moment. It’s still be cultured and there is an additional test that Dr. Lobo wants run—we really need to know the cause so we can avoid it in the future. The kitties have both been tested and we’ll find out the results next week and get them treated if they’re positive. Dr. Lobo said Bartonella can lurk in their saliva, so just make sure the cats don’t bite Stanley (Dr. Lobo has a prosthetic heart valve and a cat himself—he just said the cat is not permitted to show his teeth to him.)

Friday was ridiculous. Nurse number one, Debbie from the pharmacy, arrived around 10 am. She brought the antibiotics Stanley is to take until July 5 (well, she brought the first batch of them—they’ll be delivered automatically). She spent a lot of time showing Stanley how to push infuse one antibiotic and drip infuse the other one. He has to spend two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening getting antibiotic number two, and it takes ten minutes for the push antibiotic. Nurse #2, Steve from Visiting Nurses, arrived about 11:45. He’s the wound-care nurse.

After the nurses left, it was time for the first appointment (I spent time setting up many appointments Friday morning) at the cardiologist’s office for Stanley coumadin check. His level was 1.2, which is too low (it’s supposed to be between 2 and 2.5 I think). The nurse practitioner, Donna, was supposed to simply tell us what his next dose of coumadin should be and set up tomorrow’s test. But no, that would be too easy. She asked for Stanley’s history, and did not listen. She starts spouting off about why he did get some injection anti-clotting agent and pretty much panicking us about how low the coumadin level is and what a Bad Thing it is ... I told her that the docs at the hospital ruled out the injected anti-clotting whatever for a reason that I don’t remember—I think it had to do with the blood clots, and would she please call Dr. Robinson before she, a nurse practitioner second-guessing three surgeons and doctors and two physicians assistants, fucked up and did something to harm Stanley.

Donna couldn’t get hold of Dr. Robinson because he was in surgery—but at least had the good sense to consult with Dr. Michelson, Dr. Lomnitz’s colleague (Dr. Lomnitz, Stanley’s cardiologist, was making rounds or something). The doc repeated back what Donna had told him about Stanley, and it was all wrong. We corrected the information, and he just said, “Okay, we have to get the coumadin level back up, so take 5mg tonight and Saturday night and 2.5 on Sunday and get tested on Monday.”

So now I think Donna is an idiot—this is the second time she screwed up, or tried to. And this is the second time it was made clear to me that Cardiology Associates needs to put a post-op protocol into place—I was near tears this time (in tears the last time) with frustration. I could write it off once, but not twice. I’m wondering now if we’re allowed to get a copy of all our Stanley’s medical records so we have them instead of having to rely on our memory and notes and hope that somehow records will show up where and when they should.

Next week, Wednesday is shot—Stanley has Dr. Gagne for his calf clot at 11 on Wednesday, then we go to Bridgeport to see Dr. Robinson and get the staples removed at 3:30. Visiting nurse Steve comes on Tuesdays and Fridays between 10 and noon. I don’t know when a pharmacy nurse will show up again. Monday at 11 is the next coumadin check and from there, again I don’t know the schedule.

Later Friday we went to Stew Leonard’s to get dinner and milk and stuff in for the next few days. Today we have to go off and do some banking and get cat litter and dog bones (and I get to change the litter boxes—oh joy.) Yesterday I was so exhausted I thought I was in hell, which made my temper worse than usual. I just wanted to beat up on someone, anyone, or sleep. So I took a nap, and that helped, but not enough. I’m really pissed off about this all, and there is, rationally, nobody and nothing to be pissed off at. I slept a long time last night, a good nine or ten hours, and feel much, much better mentally today, but I’m still pretty tired. One more good night and I’ll be okay. My main problem is I keep waking up to check to make sure Stanley is still breathing. That’s what I did the last time, too—so I know I’ll get over it pretty soon.

Tomorrow is Kate’s graduation from high school—I hope the weather is lovely and I hope Jeff and Mike get some good videos. Maureen will have her graduation party for her later when Stanley can travel and family from Michigan can make it. And I just realized I forgot to send Jamie a birthday card on May 29th, and my brother on May 20th—damn.

Once today’s tasks are done, I can work on the two stores I am skinning and get those live. I’m looking forward to getting into flow again when I do them. And the next couple of weeks I’ll be able to have Stanley working on websites so he can help me catch up on our webwork. I wouldn’t exactly call that a silver lining, but it will help. Tomorrow we have a lot of billing to get out, and that will help as well.

I just saw the time—gotta get going!

posted by lee on 06/02/07 at 08:17 PM
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Saturday, June 09, 2007

einstein’s dollies & an update

On June 5, Dad sent Einstein’s 11½-month-old photo. I meant to get this up on Tuesday. This one is titled “Einstein loves her doll collection.” Maybe she knows how prettily her gray coat contrasts with the white brides’ dresses. I wonder what she’s inspecting the carpet for? Click the photo to see a bigger version.

Einstein at 11.5 months old

Well, Stanley’s big day this week was Wednesday. He saw Dr. Paul Gagne, the vascular surgeon, in the morning. Dr. Gagne said he might have to go in and actually do the roto-rootering or a bypass, or he might be able to open up the blocked artery with a balloon and use a stent to keep it open. If the latter, it’s maybe a day in the hospital and then home, or maybe a day and overnight and then home. Stanley says his heel is still numb and his leg starts hurting if he walks more than about a half a block. It’s really bugging him that he can’t walk much and he’s worried that it might affect his work if it’s not cleared up.

At any rate, Dr. Gagne wants an MRI done so he knows exactly what’s going on—if Stanley can get one, which we needed to check with Dr. Robinson on Wednesday afternoon. Maybe three weeks until the legwork gets done.

We headed to Dr. Robinson’s office in the afternoon. Dr. Robinson removed the 50 staples, I mean 49 staples (Slink pulled one out—got his nail caught in it I guess. So I clipped the kitties’ claws. Fat lot of good that did—they just spent the past few days sharpening them again—the dresser in the bedroom didn’t start out distressed ... ) Said everything is looking good (it really is this time).

We asked about whether or not Stanley should be on iron supplements because he’s a little pale. So Dr. R sent him downstairs for a blood test. Hemoglobin is a little on the low side, but Dr. R says eat red meat and beans rather than take supplements (Stanley can’t have spinach because of the coumadin.)

Speaking of coumadin, his level on Thursday was 2.2—a good level for Stanley. He gets it checked again on Tuesday afternoon.

Nurses came and went. Everything is going okay. Stanley still hurts a lot from the surgery and gets tired easily—we were going to go to a farewell gig for a colleague at Compo Beach on Friday evening but Stanley had run out of steam by then and just couldn’t get it together to go.

And me? I’m still pretty tired. I haven’t been pushing things too much, but there’s been a lot to do as far as getting Stanley where he needs to go and all the work I should’ve had done by now. And the billing. I’m still worried about Stanley and won’t feel better about him until Dr. R pronounces everything to be good and his calf clot is fixed. We see Dr. R again on the 27th. (I hope—if we see him sooner, it means things are going wrong again.) I plan to sleep as long as I can stand it tomorrow—after which I know I’ll feel much better. I haven’t been able to sleep in since May 20—if I don’t get a weekly catch-up sleep or two, I feel drained.

I’m pretty sleepy right now—it’s very foggy out and the air smells like the Sound at low tide—it’s very strong. There might be thunder showers tonight, but not much else.

I’ve pinpointed why I’m so very angry this time. I was thinking that my anger is irrational—just the shock and turmoil stirring things up. But the more I learned about things, the more I realized that Stanley’s acute phase of endocarditis started in early April when he got the first clot in his calf, which he thought was a bad sprain (he described it as a charley horse that would not go away, though eventually the pain subsided). He went to see his cardiologist around April 27 for a checkup of the valve and the bypass.

Cardiologist David Lomnitz said he was doing great, no problems. Yet Stanley had been exhibiting classic signs of endocarditis for more than a month: persistent cough, fatigue, aching muscles, pallor, petechiae under his nails and in the whites of his eyes—and the continued pain from that “bad sprain.” WE didn’t know these were symptoms of a problem—we were never told to look for stuff like this—but the cardiologist sure should have spotted full-blown endocarditis when he was supposed to be checking Stanley’s heart over. All Lomnitz did was do an EKG and ask a couple of questions, order a cholesterol test and prescribe Lipitor to get Stanley’s bad cholesterol down from 109 to less than 100. No full-panel blood test, which would’ve shown a problem. No standard set of questions that I would think should be protocol for someone with a prosthetic heart valve. No physical exam to look for what was going on or to check the pulse in Stanley’s feet. No echo, which would’ve shown something was not right.

And what’s making it even more piss-worthy is that Lomnitz did not see Stanley while Stanley was in Norwalk Hospital, he has not called to see how Stanley is doing, has not asked him to come in so he could check him over—nothing. So Stanley ends up with a damaged kidney, months of pain he shouldn’t have had to endure, and loss of thousands of dollars due to missed work (his and mine) and deductibles, which we will have to pay twice since our medical “fiscal year” kicks in on July 1 and stuff won’t be finished by then.

Maybe Stanley would’ve still had to have the valve replaced if it was discovered in late April, or maybe they could’ve treated it with antibiotics—but at least Stanley wouldn’t have had to endure the agony of the renal infarction. And it would’ve been done without cutting into a new medical year. So, once things are under control, we will probably look for a different cardiologist not in the Cardiology Associates of Fairfield group. I certainly no longer have confidence in Dr. Lomnitz.

And I’m also not too crazy about most of the docs we encountered at Norwalk Hospital, with the exception of Dr. Gagne (so far) and the internist from Internal Medicine who was filling in for Stanley’s internist Jay Horn. The ER doctor tried to send Stanley home without a diagnosis; the other doctors who told me the cough was not related to anything (it miraculously went away when they started treating the infection) or those who kept ignoring me when I told them about the problem with the calf and numbness in the feet ... leads me to think maybe is wasn’t politics that led to them not getting certified as a cardio center ...

Oh, and about the MRI—Dr. R said “no” to it for at least six months. So Dr. Gagne will order a CAT scan, probably one of those contrast ones, so he can see what’s going on in the calf artery.

Now I’m going to go to bed and sleep for 12 hours if I want to. (I probably won’t—at about 8.5-9 hours, my back starts to bother me and makes sleeping longer counterproductive. Unless I’m really tired, that is, in which case I don’t awaken long enough to notice that my back is hurting!)

posted by lee on 06/09/07 at 04:21 AM
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wear a helmet. and don’t smoke

Time: about 6:00 am Friday
Place: on the road to work at Dunkin’ Donuts
Who: Kate, on her bike
What: creamed by an asshole driver
Prognosis: Looks worse than it is—she’s okay.

Kate was riding her bike to work Friday morning when some idiot driver failed to check to see if all was clear before he made a left turn. Creaming Kate. Needless to say, she wasn’t in “time to make the donuts.”

There were witnesses who called an ambulance, and she was taken to the local ER (I forget the name of the hospital in Natick, MA). The police notified Maureen and Jeff, bringing her bike home. Maureen said the bike wasn’t damaged too much. They rushed to the hospital and found that Kate was already CAT-scanned and stitched up. She suffered a concussion, a cut, and a helluva black eye and a few other abrasions. They kept her at the hospital for a few hours and sent her home. Her boss took her off the schedule so she would have time to mend a little—she’s going to try it again on Monday.

She was not wearing her helmet. She was riding her bike to work because she’s not allowed to drive the family car unless she quits smoking. So Stanley calls this incident: “The unintended consequences of nicotine addiction.”

Maureen noticed her glasses were missing. Kate has a long history of losing her glasses and they’re quite expensive, so Maureen went back to the scene of the crime and found them. Though they were bent every which way, unfortunately. So Kate had to get yet another new pair.

Don’t know yet if the driver got a ticket or what as they don’t have the police report yet—I remember when I had my accident that the police report took three or four days to be ready. Maureen said the guy who hit her didn’t even check to find out if she’s okay, which bothers her a lot. Probably he’s staying as far away as possible because he’s figuring his next contact over the accident, besides his own insurance company, will be from a personal injury attorney.

Below are photos of Kate now—click to enlarge the image. That black eye is going to be even more dramatic when it starts turning those lovely shades of brown-yellow, bloody blue ... and she’ll have a dandy scar to remind her that a helmet would’ve spared her all this. Ah, the common sense of 18-year-olds—makes me wonder how any of us survived our teen years. I hope that driver gets nailed big time—how self-absorbed do you have to be to not see a person on a bike?

Kate wasn't wearing a helmet

And if this was done for the stage, nobody would believe it

Poor Kate

Poor Kate. I hope she recovers quickly. This is too hard a way to learn a lesson.

posted by lee on 06/09/07 at 11:43 PM
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Saturday, June 16, 2007

another progress report

Stanley continues to do well, except for his leg. His coumadin level was just right when it was checked on Friday: 2.2. We had decided if the level was okay, then he could go to the weekly check instead of biweekly—a lot less of a pain in the ass.

We were running late getting to the cardiologist because of heavy traffic, so I dropped him off at the door before I went to park. We figured there’d be plenty of time since he usually has to wait before getting called back. Not this time—he was gone before I got there and wasn’t in the usual patient monitoring room. It figures, because his cardiologist, David Lomnitz, finally talked to him. Finally. And it’s not like he had to make any effort—Stanley was getting tested in the hallway outside Dr. Lomnitz’s office.

Stanley said Lomnitz said, “Your wife is quite a blogger.” Lomnitz also apologized for messing up on Stanley’s checkup, claiming that Stanley looked so well (which he didn’t—he was pale at the time, and had blotches in his eyes, a sore leg, and a persistent cough) that he didn’t think anything was wrong. Said he’s put in a phone call to Dr. Robinson to get info on Stanley’s case (Dr. Robinson always sends a copy of his report to Dr. Lomnitz and to Dr. Horn—I’ve heard him dictate several). And had Stanley set up an appointment with him in July.

We still don’t know when the CAT scan of Stanley’s calf artery is scheduled—Dr. Gagne’s assistant or scheduler said she’s still waiting to hear and that it takes two business days to hear from Oxford. That was Thursday, so unless we hear from them first, we’ll start the nagging process. Stanley’s leg really, really bothers him and it’s driving him bonkers. Or bonkerserser. We did hedge work today—Stanley trimmed and we both cleaned up—and I could see him limping.

But the hedge is trimmed. Sort of. We had to do it because it was getting way too hard to get out of the driveway—we live on a curve; every inch counts. So they’re trimmed about seven feet up, with the tops kind of bowing over the sidewalk. Enough so we can get out of the driveway and the city doesn’t give us a ticket for obstructing the sidewalk. Next weekend, when Stanley is more functional, he will get up on the ladder and do the tops. (I don’t do ladders. I’m a ninny about them.)

Stanley gets to start driving again on June 22. I am so looking forward to that. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll give him a dose ... I probably won’t. But I reserve the right to!

Oh, the kitties. I had them tested for Bartonella, the bacteria that can cause endocarditis via a cat bite (rare, but it does happen—and it’s still not established that Stanley’s endocarditis was caused by Bartonella). If they are carriers, the idea is to get them treated so they’re not—why risk it? Twitch does not have Bartonella—he’s in the clear. Slink tested positive for it, so he’s being treated for it with azithromycin for three weeks ($100 for the drug—geez!) Neither cat has ever bitten Stanley—in fact, I don’t think Slink has ever broken Stanley’s skin, so I really doubt they are the source, but I’m taking the safer route. If any cat gave him Bartonella, it was probably Lexi, a cat at the Connecticut Humane Society in Westport we were thinking about adopting until she bit Stanley so hard I thought he was going to faint.

Today was finally a gorgeous day—we’ve had several days of gloom and damp and COLD. Tomorrow, however, it’s supposed to start getting really hot and humid—it’s supposed to get up into the nineties this week! I think we’d better go dig up the box fan so we’re set for working (I really hate air conditioning unless it gets so hot I’m getting sick to my stomach—we try not to put the window a/c in until we really have to, like in early August).

posted by lee on 06/16/07 at 07:42 PM
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interweaving nature & history - art opening

Bowl with White Stripes by Candace Held
Bowl with White Stripes by Candace Held. (click to enlarge)

Our friend Candace Held, an artist who works in glass, has an opening coming up at the end of June. I love her work and we’re lucky enough to have several of her creations, which we treasure. I absolutely love glass and I think her work is extraordinary. Her website is: Candace Held glass works. The show is set to open on June 29 and will run until August 19, and is at the Slater Mill Gallery in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. (The address is 175 Main Street, and the phone number is 401.725.8638.) The exhibit, titled “Interweaving Nature & History,” features Candy’s kiln-formed “Weavings” glasswork (the photo here is an example) and watercolors by artist and illustrator J. Susan Cole Stone. We’re hoping everything is going well by then so we can make it to the opening—it’s been too long since we saw her!

posted by lee on 06/16/07 at 08:28 PM
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Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Today we tried to find out if Stanley’s CAT scan was authorized and if so, when. Diana, the scheduler from Dr. Gagne’s office, said she was frustrated because she hadn’t heard anything from Oxford yet other than it was under medical review. So I asked her for the referral number and called Oxford to see what was going on. Oxford has always been very good about approving diagnostic tests—in fact, when Stanley was prepping for his first heart valve replacement with the bypass, an MRA was approved and, to this day, we still can’t figure out why one was even ordered since the surgeon didn’t need it and the decision to replace the valve and do the bypass had already been made. MRAs are, from what I’ve been told, are pretty far up there expense-wise.

So I called Oxford and spoke with a customer service rep. She told me that the authorization for the CAT scan had been denied on June 13. I asked her why, and she said she didn’t have that information on her screen. So I asked her who did have that information, and was told the doc’s office did. I said they didn’t, because they would’ve told me already. She then said the authorization dept. had the info, so I asked for the number and was told they don’t talk to patients, only doctors and related medical people, so I could not get the denial reason from them. I asked why not, since I’m the one paying the bills.

I told her that Stanley’s calf clot needed removing and they would’ve done it in the hospital but they decided he was undergoing enough trauma and decided to wait and have him see Dr. Gagne after he was discharged. We followed the treatment plan. And I told her that Stanley couldn’t return to work until it was fixed. I think she picked up on the looming hysteria and said she would call authorization to find out what the story is if I would just hold.

Ten minutes later she told me that the authorization was denied because the medical reviewers needed some more medical information and she mentioned somethng about a doppler, which I assume is some kind of blood flow test but I’m not sure, and neither was the rep. I asked her what we could do about the denial of service, and she said we could submit an appeal, but said the appeal would take about 15 days to get processed. I was dismayed—Stanley has to limp around for at least two or three more weeks? He can’t go back to work with his leg like that.

So I asked her: “If I had to take Stanley back to the emergency room because of the unbearable pain in his calf from just walking, the CAT scan would get done and the clot would get treated right away, wouldn’t it? And Oxford would have to pay for it all plus the ER costs because we’ve already hit our out-of-pocket ceiling, right? So if a CAT scan gets approved in mere minutes in the ER, why does an appeal take more than two weeks? There’s gotta be a way to get it done faster.

She checked for me. (I really do like the Oxford customer service people—even when they claim something is impossible, they always seem to manage fixing things that are broken even if it is impossible. Plus they’re nice on the phone, even with a wife about to lose it.) Turns out there is an expedited appeal, with a two-day turnaround, and they have to notify me within 24 hours if they are not going to hear the appeal. She gave me the instructions for setting it in motion and recommended that I also get Dr. Gagne’s office to fax an expedited appeal.

I called Diana at Dr. Gagne’s office, who said she’d get right on the appeal (I told her about the reason for denial, which she said they were never told about and I believe her—that group has a good reputation for getting things done.) And we wrote the fax up and got that off. It was about 5:30 when we sent it so I don’t imagine we’ll hear anything until Wednesday morning (hopefully not—which would mean they accepted the appeal for review). I expect to know one way or the other by Friday.

Stanley really wanted it taken care of while he was in the hospital, but the docs decreed otherwise. I hope the medical second-guessers at Oxford just authorize the damned test—they don’t cost that much, but a lot more than we can afford to pay ourselves right now since we’re out so much money already. And he needs the problem fixed—it’s not getting any better. And I will take him back to the ER if I see him in the kind of pain he was in on May 22, or even half the pain he was in then. I suspect the denial was the result of the hospital report not being included with Dr. Gagne’s request. I have to remember to fill out the paperwork to get all of Stanley’s medical records.

Today’s dealings took two hours. Dealing with this kind of stuff takes up so much time ... just figuring out who to call and what information you need to have at your fingertips is a challenge.

posted by lee on 06/19/07 at 05:11 AM
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safari for windows

Type looks pretty, but it renders smaller than on IE or Firefox—enlarging the type makes it look blurrier. So it looks pretty but is harder to read.

Apple claims it’s faster than IE or Firefox at rendering pages. It’s not—it’s MUCH slower. Too bad—I was hoping ...

I like that there’s very little chrome. I hate the juvenile glass buttons and scrollbars, and it makes form elements class with websites unless they’re designed to be baby blue glass sites. Is there any way to change these? I haven’t look under the hood yet to see if there is or not.

I don’t like that the reload and the stop loading buttons are the same—sometimes I want to stop something happening on a page, such as submitting a form, but I can’t do that with Safari.

I hate the way default spacing is handled: too much space. Pretty type, ugly spacing.

I think it’s not ready for prime time.

posted by lee on 06/19/07 at 06:28 AM
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Thursday, June 28, 2007

many cats

Stanley finally got his CAT scan on Monday. Dr. Gagne’s office sent him on Friday for a blood test at Norwalk Hospital. On Monday, just before 2 p.m., we showed up at Norwalk Hospital’s Radiology Department for his test, which was a CT Angio with and without contrast of his left lower extremity ... scan with die in his left lower leg in humanspeak. Only, he wasn’t on the list.

On Friday, I heard “Norwalk Radiology” and assumed it was Norwalk Hospital Radiology. No, it was Norwalk Radiology, as in the one on East Avenue. It never occurred to me, or Stanley, that it wasn’t at the hospital, especially since Norwalk Radiology handles all the radiology at Norwalk Hospital (we’ve certainly paid them enough money to know this!) It’s a common error, I would imagine. Norwalk Radiology waited for us and took Stanley right in—we were out of there in less than 30 minutes.

Now we’re trying to find out what the results are, whether Dr. Gagne has even read the scan, and most importantly, when Stanley can get the clot removed. He cannot go back to work until it is and he’s so weary of not being able to walk without intense pain—he needs it to be taken care of this week. He regrets not insisting that it be taken care of while he was in Bridgeport Hospital—we didn’t know they wouldn’t until the evening before discharge. If we would have foreseen how difficult it would be to get it done, there’s no way Stanley would’ve left the hospital without it being fixed. We should know something on Thursday.

So much for that cat.

The past couple of days have been more like August than late June. Very hot and muggy. Very difficult to move. Even the cats didn’t move much (click the photos to enlarge them):

Slink silhouette by Lee Fleming

It was so very weird to see a cat lying on his back, legs up in the air. Slink is kind of a strange cat anyway. He’s like a tank; he doesn’t lay down, he drops. When he closes his eyes, he’s sound asleep and that could be anywhere. He makes the dishes rattle when he jumps down—a solid thump. He steals the dog’s treats and leaves Pupperoni crumbs all over my side of the bed. Twitch spent most of the day atop the Hoosier cupboard. Slink hasn’t figured out (yet) how to get up there, so Twitch can relax and keep track of everything unmolested.

Twitch on the cupboard by Lee Fleming

And here’s another photo of Slink in the window, stretching. I expected him to fall off the windowsill, but he managed not to. I’ve seen him stretch and turn and fall off the bed, a chair, the counter ...


There was a fairly wild storm around 9 p.m. or so, and Ginger vanished under the desk. She shook so hard she exhausted herself. Here are a couple more photos I’ve been meaning to put up. They’re from Stanley’s stay at Bridgeport Hospital. The first is of the flowers in his room—peonies and irises from my garden and a beautiful bouquet Claudia sent him. The next one is the view from his hospital room. (They’re not bars—they are blind slats.) And the third one is of Stanley on the day before he was discharged. His chest looked like there was a zipper in it.

Rx: Flowers

View from Bridgeport Hospital Telemetry room

Stanley on aortic valve 2, May 31, 2007

Right now, I’m not doing so well. I got some very bad news about a loved one’s health and it’s taking me a while to deal with it. On Monday, while I was waiting for Stanley to finish his CAT scan, I read the Lives column is the Sunday New York Times, Diminishing Returns, and it hurt to read it because I recognized the pain the author wrote about, even though she wrote about her husband and my fears were about a close relative. And the next day, my fears were confirmed. I have to write about it. But I can’t just yet—the pain is still too searing.

posted by lee on 06/28/07 at 04:11 AM
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Friday, June 29, 2007

bad thursday morphs into good thursday, kinda

The day started with phone calls to the vascular surgeon’s office to find out what’s happening as far as Stanley getting his calf clot dealt with. I’d been trying to speak to the doctor or at least find out if he read the CT test and find out the next step since Tuesday morning. Gee, Tuesday, that was just a coupla days ago. What’s the rush? Somebody limping around in pain and unable to go back to work is the rush. I got two “we’ll call you right back"s today until, miracle of miracles, Dr. Gagne (Southern Connecticut Vascular Center) called! He didn’t have the film, he said, only the report, and he can’t make a surgical decision based on the report ... I asked him why he didn’t have the films since Norwalk Radiology said they’d be delivered in a couple of hours. I offered to get them and hand deliver them to Dr. Gagne wherever he wanted me to ... I was pretty close to tears I was so frustrated.

Dr. Gagne called me back a little while later, explaining that, through the miracle of the Internet, he was able to access the CT scan online—he said he wasn’t sure if the new software they just had installed would work, and he seemed pretty pleased that it does. Not as pleased as I was. (Wow, medicine is up to Internet speed—1998 Internet speed.)

He said the best deal for long-term success is to go into the artery via Stanley’s knee (doesn’t have to cut muscle that way) and clear the clots (yes, there is more than one, alas) or bypass the artery with a vein from his leg if the clots are too, well, clotty I guess. Inpatient, since it’s an operation, and recovery is relatively quick since no muscle would be cut—about a week. He said he’d proceed on getting things set up, cautioning me that he is going to proceed as if everything will be approved by Oxford, that there were things that had to happen to make it all happen, and would try for Norwalk Hospital. I told him we’d go to any hospital at any time, the sooner the better, with the only requirement that it be a hospital in the Oxford network.

A little while later, Diana called and said that Stanley’s operation is scheduled for July 10th at Norwalk Hospital at 11 a.m.—assuming approvals from Oxford go through in a timely manner. He has to check in on July 9th, and she said she’d send me a packet with all the information we need so I’ll know exactly what is going on and when it’s supposed to happen. I really, really hope Oxford doesn’t screw around with this—I’m still worried that parts of the clot will break off and wreak more havoc and I’ll be scared about this until it’s, rather they’re, removed.

As it is, we’re both very disappointed that Stanley has to endure this almost two more weeks more. He was hoping to get back fully to work by July 6, when his coumadin and transfusions would be finished, but now it won’t be until July 16th. And he’s just so frustrated with not being able to walk very far. Not to mention the thousands more it will probably cost us since we’ll be in a new “fiscal year” with our health plan—I’m hoping like hell that it’s a calendar year before out-of-pocket zeros out again, but I doubt it. I will find out next time I call Oxford ... maybe. But, while disappointed that it’s taking so long, what a relief that we finally have a date for when the problem will be fixed!

Meanwhile, between phone calls and emails that I had to deal with, I’m trying to finish up the last bits of five stores I’m working on—so very close to finished! Just a few more hours of work if I can just be left alone to do it—which I thought would be this afternoon and early evening since we had no place we had to be and no plans other than grilling salmon for dinner. Then I could move on and put together another store for a very patient client, spec out a website for another, and begin building yet another one for a third client, start a small ad campaign for another, plus concentrate more on editing ... a lot on my plate, but all interesting.

But that was not to be. But not for a bad reason. My nephew Brian, the truck driver, called. He has a layover in Milford at the Pilot truck stop there, and could we please come and get him. Stanley went to get him and I was very happy to see him—I always am. I waited for Stanley’s drug delivery because someone has to sign for them, and tried to get some work done, otherwise, I would’ve gone as well. I think he lucked out that this run brought him so close to us and gave him time to stop over night because he’s between paychecks and had nothing but molecules of air in his wallet. Not one dollar. No money in the bank until well after midnight when he paycheck dropped in, and no credit card. So he was glad we answered the phone!

We talked for quite a while, catching up on his life and family things, and he told us about his new house, which he recently bought. It’s in Dearborn Heights, about halfway between his mother’s house and his Aunt Jamie’s house, with a good 6.2% 30-year fixed mortgage and his payments, including taxes and insurance, are not much more than he’d be paying in rent. He said he paid about $13K less than its appraised value. He’s hoping that the piss-poor market in the Detroit area will turn around sooner or later and he’ll be able to sell at a profit some day—but at least he’s got a place to live that he’s not throwing money away on so even if it doesn’t appreciate much, he’ll get his money back. And that’s a pretty good mortgage rate for someone in his early 20s! His brother Aaron and a friend and her daughter are living there—as roomies— now. They help defray expenses and the house isn’t empty when Brian is on the road. We’re looking forward to seeing it when we hit Michigan later this summer.

We wanted to barbecue chicken for Brian, but it was storming out, so Stanley made grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. We watched Earl and The Office and chatted until it was time to take him back to his truck. We couldn’t bear the thought of him being on the road with not even a dollar, so we gave him a bit of cash for his birthday, which is July 3. It was kind of nice taking a ride up to Milford. Stanley and I tried to stop at the Dairy Queen in Fairfield on the way back, but we got there about 15 minutes too late. Damn—I’ve been craving a blizzard for about three years now. Will just have to wait.

So the day started out overwhelming and teary and frustrating, but we got an end-date for Stanley’s clot problem and I got to see my nephew, so it turned good. Although I’ll have to hustle to get stuff done tomorrow, it was worth the visit.

I’m still grappling with my mother’s diagnosis. I find I can only accept it a little bit at a time. So many things fit, it’s hard to deny it as much as I long to.

posted by lee on 06/29/07 at 04:37 AM
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