30 June 2011

Feeling good

I made some delicious beef stew for my parents and took it over last night.  Yes, I know that summer is not beef stew season but remember, we live in the Pacific Northwest and it is not summery here.  So far this year we have had temperatures over 80 degrees just 3 times.  It's cool and breezy right now.  Plus, comfort food is satisfying in all seasons.  The stew is one of my few tried and true, reliable, great tasting meals.  I am not a cook. But, that's ok because my mom is not much of an eater.  She does love my stew though.

While I was there, my dad gave me the run down on the latest visit to the doctor.  Actually, they visited the Nurse Practitioner.  It was very encouraging!  My mom is feeling much better, and her oxygen saturation is staying well within the normal range.  I think the pneumonia is finally resolving.  Also, her inner ear thing (infection? something?) must be better as well, because her balance is much better.  She was feeling pretty perky last night.  That made me feel better.  Oh, and this: the NP told them that they have a couple of patients who have been in hospice for 3 and 4 years.  That made us all feel better.  My dad said, "Let's plan Christmas!"  Smiles all around.

Just so I could feel useful, I ordered one of those fancy walkers with a basket and a seat and bicycle style brakes.  You can get anything from Amazon!  It should be arriving today or tomorrow and I think it will really help my mom with her mobility.  She tires easily but still wants to be out and about.

All of this gave me a really good feeling yesterday.  She may not have as long above ground as I want, but she doesn't yet have a foot in the grave.

24 June 2011


I got a call from Raymond at the hospice office yesterday.  Unfortunately, he called my home number and not my cell or my work (both of which he has).  He left a message and said that it was not an emergency, but to please call him back.

I called the hospice office as soon as I got home.  Raymond had left for the day, but the gal on the phone explained what was going on ~ at least, somewhat.

It seems that when a patient is enrolled in hospice care, one of the first things the program does is order liquid morphine to be delivered to the patient's house.  This is to ensure that unmanageable pain is treated whether or not the patient can be seen right away.  Well, that's good.  Why the hell should she suffer as she is dying, right?

But, the question the woman couldn't answer was, why did Raymond call me?  Were the parents out of the house?  She didn't know.  She just wanted to be sure that we knew that the pharmacy would be delivering the morphine that afternoon.

I called my parents and let them know.  It seems that Raymond had called and my mom had basically told him to bugger off.  She didn't know who he was and she didn't have time for him.  She told him that she wasn't interested and hung up on him.  He called back and she told him to stop bothering her.  I guess she thought he was trying to sell her something.  Sigh.

At any rate, it got sorted out and there is now a bottle of liquid morphine on the mantel.  The nurse has called and given instructions as to its use.

Here's something else, though.  When I was talking to the woman on the phone, her tone of voice and phrasing were creeping me out.  She is clearly used to talking to people who are in distress, but I was expecting more of a matter-of-fact tone and not the unctuous sympathy and hushed voice that I got from her.  It was a little weird.

21 June 2011

Vascular Dementia

The lack of oxygen to the brain is a serious problem.  Whatever the reason for the lack of oxygen, the result is not good.  In our case, a softball sized tumor in the lung is pretty much blocking the efficient flow of oxygen, and has been for an unknown period of time.

Dementia, however, is kind of the same whether it's vascular, Alzheimer's, or any one of the other dementias, especially the age related kind.

Weese, if you are reading, I thought about you last night.

I was over at the parents house, they had just finished a light supper of blintzes.  We were talking about how my martial art school looked better after a recent coat of paint.  At that point my mom said, "Well, I remember when you told me that the rabbits were really loud at night."

Umm.... ok.

I said, "We don't have too many rabbits over there, but if they keep you awake, let me know."

What is it about rabbits?  Weese, didn't your mom have a rabbit thing?

20 June 2011

A Not Sad Post

It was Gay Pride weekend in PDX this last weekend and even with my life turned upside down, it felt like a good idea to get out and have some fun.  Plus, there was the work obligation.

We went out dancing on Saturday night.  There's a monthly dance called Hot Flash that is held downtown.  It started out as an old gals dance, but it's open to all women and during Pride weekend it's open to all queers and allies.  It's pretty fun ordinarily, and on Pride weekend it is packed to the rafters and you are likely to run into people you haven't seen in ages.  I had the delightful coincidence of running into some bloggers that I know only in the virtual world!

I was talking with a group of friends and looked over and saw a couple who looked familiar.  I did the usual trip through the mental rolodex trying to place them and finally realized who they were.  It was Jen and Sara from We are (having) so much fun!  I couldn't remember Sara's name at first, but I remembered Jen and I called Sara "The Splicer".  If you read their blog, you'll know that Sara is pretty handy with rope (although we are still waiting for the blog post on splicing, we have seen pictures).  I introduced myself, and we marveled at the collision of real life and virtual.  They are just as nice as they seem on their blog.

When we were ready to go, we were standing outside saying our goodbyes to various friends when someone said, "Hey, it's the Naked Bike Ride!"  How could we not look?  We walked to the end of the block and sure enough, there they were in all their pale glory.  We waved and waved and waved, and the line of naked riders kept coming and coming.  It was actually quite nice out, not too chilly, and not raining.  It looked like they were having fun!  In fact, it looked so fun that T actually said that she wanted to join next year.  We'll see about that!  We found out later that there were something like 10,000 participants.  Ten Thousand!  That's Portland, for you!

Sunday morning we got up too early and made our way downtown for the Pride parade.  I had gotten roped into serving on my work's Pride committee and we all had to be there early and help out.  We sorted, folded, stacked and distributed t-shirts, blew up hundreds of balloons, bagged up buttons, organized the tote bags, and then waited for our turn to step out in the parade line up.  The parade route was not long, I'm happy to say, but what with all the busy work and the standing around and the walking, my legs were tired by the end of the day.  We made it down to the Waterfront, had a corn dog and a beer, picked up some free samples of dog food, some condoms and lube,  and plenty of buttons and stickers and Mardi Gras beads.  Got to chit chat with friends we haven't seen since last year's parade.  It was a long day but fun to see our community in all their colorful glory.

Not a restful weekend, by any stretch, but nice to get out.  How about you all?  Is your city's Pride celebration coming up?  Do you have one?  Go out and get your gay on!

17 June 2011


Like many people, I grew up wishing on the evening star.  You know, “Star light, star bright…”- that wish.  I suppose when I was very young I wished for the kind of things that children wish for, like a puppy or a pony or a new toy.  I don’t remember those wishes.

From the time I was about 8 or 10 years old though, my wish was almost always for the same thing.  I wished for my parents to have a long and happy life.  I don’t know why I started wishing that.  I think it started when my maternal grandfather died.

I didn’t know my mom’s father.  I had met him twice, maybe three times.  He lived in Ohio and we lived in California.  It was a much bigger deal to fly across the country back then.  And, none of my family had money for that extravagance. 

The day we got the call that he had died, we were at our cousins’ house.  My mom’s sister’s house. It might have been someone’s birthday.  My mother and all of her siblings loved their father best.  Their mother was whiny and petulant (in retrospect I believe that she had a hard menopause), but their father was their champion.  He was the kind of dad who played with his kids, who was very fair and just and kind and loving.  He worked hard and loved them all and they knew that and felt secure.

My mother and my aunt fell to pieces when they got the call.  Their dad worked for the railroad at the time and had been hit by a train.  Later, the railroad tried to say that he had had a heart attack and fell off one of the cars, but in the end they settled with my grandmother and awarded her a miserly pension.

The pain, the crying, the despair, were overwhelming.  I had never seen my mother cry like that.  I had never seen my aunt cry at all.  They were strong young women with husbands and children and in an instant they were bereft little girls sobbing in despair.

I cried too.  I cried because it was sad that my grandfather had died, but mostly I cried because my mom was crying.  I sat in the front seat with her on the way home and she held me and cried.  And cried, and cried.

My mom was devastated.  I don’t know how long it took her to come to terms with her father’s death, but I think it was quite a while.  It worried me.  I worried that my parents might suffer some bizarre and tragic fate.  I was preoccupied with it at times, worried that my brothers and I would be left in the care of others, to be raised as poor relations.

Mostly, though, I couldn’t bear the thought of being without my parents.  I have the best parents in the history of parents.  I couldn’t bear the thought of them being dead and gone.  I couldn’t imagine how that could be.

And so, I wished.  I wished on the evening star every time I saw it.  I wished whenever we crossed a bridge and held our breath and lifted our feet off the floor.  I wished on birthday candles.  I wished on dandelions.  Any opportunity to make a wish and mine was the same.  “Please let my parents have a long and happy life.”  Always the same.  Always that need for the security of my family.

And now, that evening star has let me down.  My mom has been happy but she is only 75.  I don’t feel that she has had enough time.  When I wished for a long and happy life I was thinking they should live to be 100.  That’s long.  75 is medium.  It’s not enough.  I’m not ready and she’s not ready.  I feel like I am being robbed of 25 years of happiness, or my mom is. 

What was the use of all that wishing?  All of that focused energy directed to a specific outcome?  What good was it?  It served no purpose.  I am losing my mom too soon.  Now I am the bereft little girl, crying and wanting to say, “Don’t take my mama!”

I suppose that eventually I will be grateful for what I had.  I suppose that comes with time.  I hope so.  My mom is my best advocate, my champion, my fierce defender.  Nobody picked on Kathryn’s kids, because they could not take the wrath of my mother.  Who will be my defender now?  Who will stand up for me and defend me and believe in me?

Yes, I will still have my dad.  He is the other half of that equation.  I’m counting on him.  The thought of him without my mom is strange but he must carry on.  We need him.  My brothers and I are still their children.  Even at age 52, I still need my parents.

I don’t know if I’ll bother to continue wishing on that star.  It hasn’t helped.

16 June 2011

The News

Well, it ain't good.

Stage 4, spread across the midline to both lungs, metastasized to the adrenal and lymphatic systems.  Surgery is not an option, radiation is not an option, and the oncologist doesn't think that chemo will be worth the risk.  The chemo won't significantly increase the length of her life, and will make her sick and weaker which could, in fact, shorten what time she has left.

And, what time does she have left?  He wouldn't give an estimate but said it would be measured in months rather than years.

I'm not ready to lose my mom.  Obviously I don't have a choice about that.  My choice is to see her every day and spend as much time as I can with her.


09 June 2011


I had a good reminder last night to get the hell out of my head.

I've got a lot on my mind right now.  The number one issue being my mom, of course.  Also, it's the busy season at my work and there might not be enough hours in the week to get everything done.  I'm working overtime every week.

On the flip side, my partner is underemployed.  It is aggravating to be working so hard and getting phone calls about how much fun it is to be downtown watching the ships come in at the waterfront.  (T is great for keeping me updated about her every move.)  I don't begrudge her the fun, I just wish I was having some.

So, after hearing (a couple of times) about her escapades downtown, I finally make it home through rush hour traffic.  I'm on the front porch struggling with an armful of crap while digging my house keys out of my backpack.  I'm in a hurry because I have to leave immediately to go teach a class across town.  I get in the front door to find her napping on the couch, completely out.

Ok, I confess that I closed the door rather harder than I should have.  I didn't slam it, but I made sure it closed firmly.  Yes, I was pissy.  I was disgruntled.  I was short tempered.

I looked down at her and said, "Are you comfortable?  You look a little warm with that blanket on."  Then I went upstairs, changed my clothes, came back down and gathered up my stuff and left.  I closed the door very gently on the way out.

Here's the thing.  On Monday and Wednesday evenings I teach martial arts to kids.  The class I am currently teaching is fairly small, only about a dozen of them, and ranging in age from 6 to 12.  These kids are awesome!  Two of them are preparing to test for their next rank.  They are so focused and determined.  I worked with these two for most of the hour, while the rest of the class worked on another form with an upper rank teenager who came to help out.  Everyone - the testing kids, the rest of the kids, the helper and even me- was completely present, working hard and having a great class.

My mood on the way home was a complete turnaround from the drive over there.  For an hour I left my worries and my crankiness behind.  It gave me a chance to take a breath, look at my actions and attitudes, and get a fucking grip!

I can't do anything about T's employment situation, but I don't have to be bitter and resentful about it.  I can't do anything about my mom's lung cancer, except hope and pray and hold the good thought and be there for her.  I can't do anything about my work except keep at it and relax after mid-July.

The old truth remains: I can only change myself.  My attitude is up to me.  Today will be better.

03 June 2011


I took the day off today.

I worked out this morning.  T and I had our therapy session.  After our appointment, as I was riding my bike to work and I just said "To hell with it!  I'm going home."

So, here I am.  I have a lot on my mind.  I am waiting to hear from my parents after the meeting with the doctors.  I am at loose ends, in limbo, on tenterhooks.  I am no fit company for anyone, and didn't want to spend the day pretending at work.

If you feel like it, email me.  I've got the time to respond.

AND (super important!): Thank you so much for your good thoughts, intentions and prayers for my mom.  I know it helps!