Category Archives: Random Reflections

If we were having coffee…

This past weekend it would likely have been in the cafeteria or lobby Starbucks of the hospital. Of the past 9 days my grandmother spent 7 in the hospital, in two visits. This is wearing on me in a lot of ways.

It starts with a call in the wee small hours from a nurse saying they called 911 and have taken Grandma to the hospital. They say the name of the hospital, but on one occasion they were incorrect so I phone around trying to locate her. By the time I locate her and talk to her nurse I’m awake, the nurse always says don’t bother to come right away wait until morning.

To speak with the doctors you have to catch them while doing their rounds. Which means being on site. Grandma is all there mentally but she doesn’t hear well and her back up plan is to pretend she does hear and give a reasonable answer based on context. She’s very good at it and people rarely realize that she didn’t have a clue what they said. For that reason I like to hear for both of us, then I can explain it to her.

Hospital time is different. It seems like it is always wait then hurry up. As we waited for them to coordinate yesterday, we watched a “reality” TV show about weddings, with the sound off. Although it is a bit hypnotic, I think the premise is wrong. Four brides compete and judge each other for the chance to win a fancy honeymoon. Tens of thousands of dollars are going into these affairs. I guess what bothers me is the judgement and competition about the event itself. A wedding, in my old-fashioned view, is about recognizing a relationship and the formation of a family unit, not the dress, the venue, the food and the experience (the four judgement points for the show).

Somewhere I heard that there is not a correlation between the cost/elaborateness of a wedding and how well the relationship lasts. What they were able to correlate was whether or not the couple took a honeymoon or not, and it didn’t have to be a fancy one. Probably not a surprise that spending time together is more important than putting on a show for others. I wonder whether turning the wedding into a competition has an effect on the longevity of the relationship.

Is this obsession with drama and competition over substance and relationships what is wrong with so much today?

Watching these shows and seeing these folks head off to Bermuda and other tropical locations on a dark day with a sliver of a view framed by two brick walls is a bit depressing. Especially since costs associated with this week of hospitalizations have probably eaten away any chance that we will get much of a vacation this year. Making it more depressing is that the second hospitalization is because the insurance company refused to approve a prescription ordered when they discharged Grandma on Wednesday and they gave her a medication for breathing that caused her heart rate to skyrocket in its place.

We took her home again today and are paying out of pocket for the prescription, which is way cheaper than the cost of just one day in the hospital. Supposedly we will get reimbursed when the approval comes  through…

Hopefully she is stable for a while.

When we got home we took the dogs for a walk to enjoy an unseasonably warm fall day. There is still a lot of pretty color, although some trees are looking bare. A nice, peaceful end to a stressful period.

I hope your weekend was peaceful.

Life lag

I got home from China a little over a week ago. Since I don’t work I don’t usually fuss about jet lag. I try to go to bed and get up at about the right times and not worry if I oversleep a bit or need a nap, after all sometimes that happens anyway. It takes a week to ten days to adjust.

I’d been home a few days when we got a call at 1:00 am that they had taken my grandmother to the hospital. It took over an hour of phone calls to find out where she was, which was a bit unnerving.  When I finally located her, I spoke with the nurse attending her and since she was sleeping stayed home until the next day.

I finally drifted off sometime after 3 and didn’t get going until after 9. The first sign that things were a bit amiss was seeing the blood on her carpet when I stopped to pick up a few things for her on my way to the hospital. There had been no mention of bleeding from the nurse who called me.

When I got to the hospital she looked awful, her left hand was severely swollen and bruised, seems the EMTs had botched a blood test and attempt at inserting an IV (at a guess they had dropped the sample resulting in the blood stain I saw). Also, the left side of her face was red blotches, more blotch than skin by a lot. The nurse, when I asked, said that Grandma had said it had been going on for some time, months. I said “no”. We had spent Wednesday evening with her and it wasn’t there then.  She hadn’t seen herself in the mirror and didn’t understand what they had been asking her about.

She looked awful, but the superficial wasn’t the real problem. She had coughed herself into atrial fibrillation. If you are my week ago naive self you don’t know what that means: In a nutshell the top valves of her heart aren’t playing nice with the bottom ones.

Because of her age, 95 years, and health history including a very bad reaction to one of the drugs they usually use to treat this and kidneys that are barely managing day- to-day life, the usual approaches needed modification. So we went from the nurse I spoke with on the phone the first night saying she was just being admitted for overnight observation, to “tomorrow”, “tomorrow”, “tomorrow”, “tomorrow”, “tomorrow”. She is finally home (at her nursing home) now.

While she is in the hospital I suffer from life lag. I have to drive over and be around to find out what I can. We have to arrange a wheelchair van to bring her back and it takes both of us, so when they keep saying “tomorrow”, we keep putting off our own life (vacuuming, grocery shopping, etc) so we are ready to bring her back.

It takes a week to ten days to get over jet lag; I wonder how long it will be until I feel like I’m over life lag, or if I’ll get over it before the next crisis: her heart isn’t really back to the old normal, and the coughing that popped it out of sync last time has been coming and going for years.

Have you ever had life lag? How did you cope? I feel like I need to have a strategy moving forward, because I fear this wasn’t our last rodeo.

Speaking of coffee…

If we were having coffee I’d probably be a bit talkative. I’m visiting my son in Shouguang, Shandong Province, China right now. There are a lot of different coffee shops. Each each shop is unique. While my son is at work I go walkabout and that, almost always, involves stopping somewhere, often one of the little coffee shops, for refreshment.

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Yesterday I had my morning coffee at a bakery, along with a…I’m not quite sure what to call it…it looked like it was savory: a bun with some corn and pepper visible and what looked like cheese on top. Turned out there was no cheese (it was a drizzle of a sweetish frosting-like substance) I was surprised, upon biting in, to discover that it also had a fairly tasteless hot dog inside. I should have known, this is my tenth trip to China and my fourth to Shouguang. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t the kind of treat that kept you eating after you were full, so I ate about half of it.

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At this bakery the seating for drinking one’s coffee was on the second floor and they have windows so you can look down and watch them decorate the cakes which is nice for those of us going solo. It’s much more pleasant to linger with something to watch.

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Today’s morning coffee was at Cat Kingdom…yes they had cats. I was the only customer. It was a Mom, Pop, and child shop. I think they had about seven cats. The boss cat was a fluffy grey.

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I realized, once again, that having a stiff-ish cup of coffee is a very cheering thing. As I sipped and watched the cats I felt my eyelids and my mood elevate.

Posted for Weekend Coffee Share

Pull up a Seat Photo Challenge-Week 4

PHOTO CHALLENGE OF PLACES WE SIT…OR MIGHT SIT…OR ART ABOUT SITTING

Welcome to week 2 of Pull up a Seat. Take a load off and share a favorite perch by linking your post to this one, either with a comment or pingback. For more detailed directions go to Pull Up a Seat page.

Thank you to everyone who is participating. It is really fun to see all the different ideas conjured up by the theme.

Follow up: the seat I showed in last week’s post was for jockey training.

Here are my photos for this week. They take a sober turn. I almost cried when I saw this and realized that someone had built a makeshift shelter from two dumped sofas and some other desert trash.

I took these photos in late August, in the desert, in an area where people, especially contractors, dump many things in order to avoid paying the fees at the local landfill. It appeared unoccupied, so hopefully its builder found a safer refuge from the elements.

Over to you (hopefully on a happier note).

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Keep Remembering the kids

I finally found a news report with an update about the children.

PBS Newshour: Fewer than 200 migrant children remain separated from their parents

I feel like the headline is misleading. What they actually mean is that fewer than 200 are eligible to be helped by the class action lawsuit.

There are an additional 220 children who are deemed no longer a part of the class-action lawsuit. If you add that to the 182 who are deemed part of the class action that is a total of 402 still in government custody. to my mind that isn’t brilliant progress, the article on September 4 said that 416 remained in custody. Although it feels like they are not necessarily comparing apples to apples from week to week.

I have not been able to find out what happens to those 220 kids.

In Loving Memory

For Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge: Open topic. I chose graveyards and this post is in memory of all who died from the terrorism on September 11, 2001, and all who have died since fighting in the wars it spawned. I embedded piano music to the hymn “For all the saints who from their labors rest” below, thinking that it makes a good backdrop to the slide show.

May this crazy world we live in move toward peace.

 

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Let’s keep remembering about the children

This is the PBS article on the August 31st update about the immigrant children separated from their families. 22 of the 497 children are under 5 years old. Those poor kids will be scarred for life.

There were two detailed podcasts on the New York Times website about how the situation came about and what is being done last week called Divided.

I am pleased that some media sources seem to be trying to keep this story from being buried. Kudos to them.

Let us not forget the children

This PBS Newshour article gives the weekly update on the number of children who are still separated from their families. 528, it was 565 last week, and the week before about the same. The judge called it “a very good trajectory”, I’m not sure I agree.

I am afraid that the busy news week has made many forget about the plight of these children. I have even seen people claiming that the situation is reasonable in view of the homicide in Iowa. It is not. The homicide in Iowa was terrible, and my heart is broken for the family, but it should not be used as an excuse for the reprehensible acts of the executive branch of the US government regarding these children and their families.

The standard we should all ( including the first family, Ms. Nielsen, and Mr. Sessions)  use is: what if this was my child or grandchild?

Any progress is good, but we need to remember why we are in this pickle. It comes down to a combination of pure meanness and incompetence.

Misplaced Energy

As always, it takes me much longer to wrap words around my ideas than it seems to do for others. This post is what I came up with as a response to Fandango’s One Word Challenge from yesterday: Energy. Warning: It is very oriented to current events in the USA and might not be of interest to people from other places.

Background: I’ve been practicing the discipline of staying up to date with current events since I got back from Mount Rainier.

My media blitz continues. Although I don’t know how much longer I can hold out. By Friday, yesterday, I was disgusted; I just looked at the descriptions of shows to get an idea of what they were about and skipped watching the drama. I did watch PBS Newshour.

Reflecting on this week I feel that there is a lot of misplaced energy.

This week’s events:

  • At the start of the week almost 600 children at the Mexican border were still not back with their families.
  • The Difficult Toddler sent out an almost presidential tweet decrying racism.
  • Damp squib white supremist rally in D.C.
  • Former aid helped the Toddler overcome the disappointment of his base by coming out and making sure that everyone remembers that he is a racist. For much of the week they had a good old “reality TV” session, entertaining by trading insults.
  • A bridge in Italy collapsed killing a lot of people.
  • Media coordinated editorial day on first amendment rights.
  • Oops: Fox “News” declared that the aid, Omarosa, had “won”. So the administration pulled out a back dated memo taking away former CIA chief’s security clearance because he knows the truth about Russia, thinks the reality TV type crap isn’t presidential, and had the kahunas to say it. (Not surprising he had the kahunas since he was instrumental in taking down bin Laden.)
  • Very brief mentions of serious questions about the Supreme Court nominee and that Republicans are blocking access to documents that are relevant to his qualifications. It seems that he lied during his confirmation hearings for his current judgeship and holds the checks and balances system, an essential part of our constitution, in disdain.
  • The Manafort trial continued and we heard a lot of speculation and inuendo about what various minutia might mean.
  • At the end of the week, last night, almost 600 children at the Mexican border are still not back with their families.

Here is what I draw from the past week:

First: I am beginning to wonder how free the “free press” is. While I am far from believing the press is “enemy of the people”, I do think it could do much, much better at not allowing the administration to set the agenda and distract us from important issues. At this time, I consider the following to be the most important issues this week: the children separated from their families, the Supreme Court judgeship, the state of election security, and some research into the state of US infrastructure. These issues got very little press coverage over the course of the week.

Second: A lot of energy went into the damp squib (I borrowed that phrase from The Economist) white supremist rally in DC. It felt almost like the press wanted something exciting (always bad in a situation like this) to happen. In my view the massive amount of coverage gives legitimacy to a movement that should have none.

Third: The Difficult Toddler being a racist isn’t news. The Omarosa stuff belonged in a gossip column, not on supposedly serious news programs.

Fourth: It is inappropriate, and a bit absurd, to spend so much time speculating about details of the Manafort Trial. When there actually is news, report it. But Manafort staring stoically at Gates during testimony and the jury asking a few standard questions is not news. Stick with the content of the testimony and do not conjecture about what it might mean. This kind of reporting can potentially lead to a mistrial. One of the concepts that sets the USA apart, for now anyway, is that people are assumed innocent until proven guilty. Keeping the integrity of our judicial system intact is very important and we all should do what we can to help, including refraining from conjecture.

Last, but certainly not least, if the press is going to coordinate efforts I don’t think editorials are the way to go. Do it by demonstrating the value of a free press. A few examples that might serve our nation:

  • At White House press briefings make sure that someone always asks for a progress report on reuniting families, no matter what the topic of the day is. All media venues should play the response. You needn’t analyze it every time. Just make sure the question is asked and the response played, every day.
  • Parenting 101: Don’t let bad behavior like removing Brennen’s clearance or overt racism get much attention. It creates positive reinforcement for bad behavior. It also demeans the media.
  • Focus on issues instead of personality. Try to spend a week without using the president’s name. Just report factually on issues and events.
  • How about dedicating a themed news day to a specific subject, for example, the plight of the children. Explore it in depth: how the situation arose, what is being done to reunite the families, and what is or isn’t being done to prevent such a situation in the future. Yes, a lot of reporting has been done, but it’s here and there. Yes, it would be a bit repetitive, but not more so than Omarosa and the Difficult Toddler trading insults followed by a string of people sounding off that he is racist, or trying to speculate what it might mean that the judge looked at his notes during the Manafort trial. Other possible topic for a themed news day might be our election systems or the Supreme Court.

The Difficult Toddler demeans the press, but the press also demeans itself by taking the offered bait whole heartedly. We also have responsibility. Ratings rule: don’t watch garbage. Some shows are good on some nights and not on others: turn them off when they stray into innuendo and gossip instead of solid information.