Friday, December 06, 2013
In order to stem the tide of my streaming eyes and running nose I moseyed on down to the drug store to seek a cold remedy. As tends to be the case, I was overwhelmed by choices in selection but soon settled on one that said it was for people with high blood pressure. "Ah", thought I, "Just the thing for me!" And, indeed, the cold symptoms abated within a few hours...
At two in the morning I awoke, feeling very uncomfortable, rather hot and very itchy! When I looked in the mirror I was absolutely horrified. I was covered from head to toe in a red weals and totally uncomfortable. I was also worried that I had something contagious while staying in a place with many elderly people, including my mother! Every morning at around 5.30 a nurses' aide comes to my mother to put special support hose on her legs. So when she came in I stopped her and explained the situation to her. She thought it looked like an allergic reaction and called a nurse to come and have a look. The nurse agreed and brought me an antihistamine, Benidryl, and I waited. I also stopped taking my newly acquired cold remedy, Coricidin HBP Cold & Flu.
Happily, 24 hours later and the redness and weals and itching had all but disappeared. Later that day, while talking to my sister she said that she had only once had such a reaction and it was when she had taken some cold medication many years ago! The same medication!
By Thanksgiving I was completely recovered and we had a lovely celebration. You know, though what they say about troubles coming in threes? There was one final element to come -- but that was waiting for me as my visit was just coming to an end -- and no, I'm not going to relate that -- just yet!
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Mom has a fully equipped kitchen, but when she moved into the retirement center left behind most of her cooking paraphernalia. She has never missed having it! Every time you mention to her that she doesn't have to cook any more she smiles broadly. Not that she was a bad cook. She was in fact a very good, if plain cook. My father was a rather fussy eater -- he didn't like fish and he didn't like cheese! His dislike of cheese made us all laugh whenever he ate pizza, which he loved. Anyway, because her 'Other Half' didn't like to experiment with different kinds of food, my mother lost interest in really developing her cookery skills. My sister, is an entirely different story! The woman can cook!
So last Sunday night, while watching the final episode of Downton Abbey, and began to feel very uncomfortable -- an ache in my right side that persisted and kept me from having a good night sleep. Around 4.00 pm the following day, when the pain did not subside, but seemed to be getting more persistent I called the Surgery to see if I could see a doctor -- if possible the next day. Surprisingly, there was an opening with my favourite doctor 45 minutes later! I was worried that maybe I had appendicitis, but the doctor thought it was probably a pulled muscle as the symptoms didn't really point to appendicitis. However, if symptoms should increase or suddenly get worse, I should call the next day for an emergency appointment. He would not be that day, but if two days later I had not improved I should call reception and tell them that he wanted to see me again. Symptoms did not get worse, but did not improve so on Thursday I saw him again -- and remembered to bring the 'water' sample he asked me to bring! As soon as he tested the sample, he could see that I had a urinary infection.
So the third day of antibiotics later and the pain has abated significantly, but not disappeared. The doctor had me take a blood test and sent the sample for further testing and did not rule out the possibility of the appendix -- I haven't heard anything back, so I am hopeful to get an ''all clear" Monday. I've never not been able to take a flight and hope this is not the first time! In the meantime, it's all put rather a damper on packing and so on. I still have the occasional twinge. So glad I have insurance that covers me just in case I'm unable to make. For one thing is for certain, I just as soon not be in the USA if I need emergency surgery for anything! My flight is Wednesday morning -- I'm holding my breath!!
Monday, October 28, 2013
Unfortunately, this is the part of projects that both Sam and I hate the most: The evaluation. Now, it is possible this may sound like a good idea to you and I do understand the point of being able to assess ones work critically. However, this is not effective for Sam, who takes criticism like a dose of poison! Therefore, it stands to reason, he is not bent toward criticising himself. And if I make 'suggestions', the instinct is for him to stomp off and head for the stairs and a good long sulk, not to mention sass...
Whoever thought up the idea of 'evaluation' did not think about the effort it takes to get some children, Sam is one, to sit down and work on a project. Reasonableness does not work. Threats work. By the end of the process and completion of the project we are both exhausted. The 'evaluation' is an unwelcome finale.
I say to Sam, "Sam, how do you think you could have done this better?"
Sam says to me, "It's fine. I don't think it can be better."
And so the final tussle ensues. The thing is I should probably let him write that. Except it's 25% of the final mark. That is 5 points out of 20. And now, why don't you guess how much it counts towards the final grade?
Nothing. Niet. Nada. Rien. Nul Point...
And now I want to know why I/we bother -- These 'projects' go on throughout the year. They are a headache. They do serve the purpose, but there should be more of a reward than, 'didn't he do well!'At least, that's what I think!!!
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Twenty-four hours later all was sorted and my sister had the rental and he had his. At the end of her stay on the 21st of August they met up again for Bill to be present when the rental was returned. For some reason, which I can not now remember, my sister ended up staying the night at my brother's apartment and the next day he drove her to catch her plane. She had never been to his place before. While she was there it seemed to her that my brother was a bit dis-oriented and it seemed to take him a long time to do things. She was not unduly alarmed, but was relieved to know that the following day he had an appointment with his neurologist and he felt that there might be a problem with his meds. How fortunate we all were that my sister had stayed with him would become very apparent only a few days later.
On the 24th of August my sister received a telephone call from my mother, who was very distressed. She had been trying to call my brother and he had not returned her calls. My mother was convinced that he was 'mad at her' and she didn't know why. Mary knew that my brother would never in a million years be 'mad' at my mother! Anyway, as she later said to me, 'alarm bells rang'! She called his son in Raleigh, who also tried to reach him, but wasn't particularly alarmed. But who heeded his Aunt. Eric wanted to call the office of the apartment complex to see if there was someone who could check his apartment.
Fortunately, my sister, notices things like names of apartment complexes and remembers! She went on the Internet and found the website and a telephone number. A woman from the office went over and found the apartment door was open. She called my nephew and told him she could not enter the premises, that they would have to call the police -- and that was how my brother was discovered by the police. He was incoherent and could not walk. The apartment was in disarray -- apparently there were pills all over the place. No one really knows what exactly happened. Except that the previous day he had seen his doctor and his medication had been altered.
When I think back on all the events of that day, I can't help but marvel at how a series of mix ups and unusual happenings can lead to crucial pieces of information that can actually save lives and end up exposing all kinds of secrets! Such as a girlfriend, who lives in Dallas, Texas, none of his siblings or mother had any idea about! As my sister, Tricia, put it -- "It's a shame the word 'awesome' is so over-used -- because she really is 'awesome'!
We also discovered how important it is to monitor the healthcare we and our loved ones receive. Because often it is very seriously lacking. We think we have found the best place for Bill to be, where there is the best specialist treatment for Parkinson's disease. He is now able to walk -- with the aid of a walker and not in a wheelchair and in a care facility that specializes in mental disorders. He has been referred to a specialist at the University of North Carolina and we must wait for further developments. There is still a long way to go, but we remain hopeful. He is also very near his son and daughter-in-law who are able to visit him every day.
Bill, his girlfriend (of some years!!!), and son were able to visit my mother and have said 'goodbye' -- this is heartbreaking, but inevitable. Fortunately, my mother is now pretty forgetful and doesn't fret too much about it. She did like his girlfriend and admonished him for keeping her a secret! "Why?" he asked her.
"Because, we could have become friends...." You tell him, Mom!
Thursday, October 17, 2013
This is a serious post about something that has happened in my own family.
On August 24th my only brother, who lives alone, was found by the police in a semi-conscious state in his bathtub. He could not walk and did not know where he was or what had happened to him. He may have been there for over 24 hours.
My brother, Bill, has always "kept himself to himself". When he was a little boy he had a paper route and we sisters use to joke about how we never knew how much money he had -- only that he always had nice presents for us on Christmas! If he had problems we never knew what they were, only that he was looking kind of sad and eventually we'd find out if it was really serious -- like breaking up with his first girlfriend, for example. What a song and dance that was! I found that if I had a quiet word with him he would tell me -- but always I had to ask -- information was never volunteered!
Three or four years ago when I was home for Thanksgiving I inadvertently discovered one of his secrets. We were at my mother's apartment and I went into her bedroom for something. Bill was there and I saw him taking a couple of pills from a bottle that looked like a prescription. "Ah", I said, "Do you have high blood pressure, too?"
All of us were relieved to know because we had noticed that often his words were just slightly slurred and his speech a bit slower -- like when some people have a bit too much to drink and try to look sober. We had also noticed the slight shuffling of his feet when he walked.
I've thought a lot about Bill telling me he had Parkinson's and the way he told me. I really think he wanted to tell us, but didn't know how -- until I asked about what I had perchance observed. It has made me wonder how often it is that people aren't really secretive at all -- they just aren't able to share problems. Maybe they don't want to burden people with additional worries -- or maybe they don't trust anyone enough to thank they will care. I expect there are many reasons for reticence -- ranging from 'pride' to 'insecurity' and 'fear'. Maye it's growing up with three sisters, who when they are together can be quite a formidable force. That he loved us all has never been in doubt -- he always has gone out of his way to see us when we are visiting and he always seems really pleased -- even content -- to be in our company.
Several years ago my brother's second marriage ended and since then he had been living on his own in an apartment about an hour away from my Mom's residence. Mom and sisters all wished he had a girlfriend, but of that there was no evidence -- suspicions maybe -- but not a shred! He even admitted to me that 'I do get kind of lonely'...
Over the past three years I've been able to visit the my mother once a year for a few weeks at a time. In that time, I've seen some deterioration in Bill's condition, but on the whole he seemed to be doing quite well and it was good to know that he was there regularly for my mother. I was looking forward to seeing him in the Fall.
As you will see in my next post -- life often interferes with expectation...
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
What I like about Sam's effort is that he came up with an original idea and didn't just copy something off the Internet or choose a super-hero. He based his design on lizards -- he loves lizards and dinosaurs!! It has a definite 'tribal' element about it, I think.
But, my goodness my grandson is a lazy boy! The mouth is a mess because I explained to him how he could make the teeth by drawing them with a marker on a clear sheet of one of those plastic clear pockets you use to keep documents from getting wet or dirty. He could then paint the mouth -- with red nail varnish and put the plastic with the teeth -- painted in with tipex! So I did a rough example to show him -- after his eyes glazed over and the inevitable, 'huhhhh??' came from his mouth!
"That's good enough" he insisted. By that time I was so flippen' sick of pushing him to get the
On the day the project was due and out of the house, I was enamoured to download two more homework projects from the school's website -- geography and RE (Religious Education). The geography project is to find out about one tourist resort in Europe and then design and make a tourist brochure, webpage or advertisement to provide information for tourists.
The RE task is to write about or make a power point presentation about "The Life and Times of Moses".
I think I've died and gone to hell... :-(
Monday, September 30, 2013
The grandson has an art project for a homework assignment. He must make a carnival mask. He can make this mask out of any material he wishes and of any design he desires. As with all his other 'homework' assignments Grandma must keep on eye on him and
While talking to his parents via Skype we were encouraged to make this mask out of papier-mache, which I readily informed them I had never done before. They both assured me that it was 'easy' and 'fun'! Use a balloon, they said... Sam was about as keen as I was to try. We went found several instructional sites on YouTube and it all looked pretty straight-forward: Make paste out of flour and water; tear newspaper into strips, get a balloon, paste the strips on the balloon; build at least 3 layers, and make the top layer from strips of white paper, such as the paper in my computer printer.
Why is it that when you want something like balloons you never have any and the first stores you go looking for them don't have any? The super market had them though I had to ask the manager where they were. It took him a while and he helpfully advised I could buy a cheaper packet that said "girls party" balloons. I told him it was not a good idea to present Sam with anything that said "girls" on it and bought the slightly more expensive packet that didn't say anything about gender. Anyway, I digress.
On Saturday I reminded Sam that we needed to start this project and he got a balloon and excelled at blowing it up to a suitable size. Then I got out a mixing bowl and made the
Then the balloon kept slipping and sliding and bouncing around the table and floor as both of us were trying to hold it down and get newspaper strips stuck on -- strips which were so sodden they kept ripping and disintegrating into a mass of yuck. When we finally managed to get the
My apron, well covered in paste, as well as the sleeves of my sweater/cardigan -- from trying to hold onto a balloon that was slipping and sliding all over the place and all over me -- I managed to somehow hold down the balloon and apply two layers of newspaper strips and one layer of computer paper strips successfully. Sam helped a bit. Although he tried to escape, I wouldn't let him! This morning the mask-to-be was dry -- it took a good 36 hours. When he got back from school, Sam was able to stab the balloon:
Monday, September 23, 2013
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Some countries, including France, have banned the wearing of this veil in public places. This has lead to certain groups of making threats of violence against those countries. In Britain I have been surprised at the number of people -- at least those shown on television -- both members of the debate forums and those in the audience -- who believe that if women want to wear the veil they should be allowed to wear it. The people I am talking about are what some would call 'real British people' meaning 'white' and Anglo-Saxon.
Personally, my instinct when I see women attired in black Muslim dress and completely covered from head to toe is to recoil. But then I am pretty much a feminist and for me it goes against too much of what I believe women have had to fight against, have had to endure to gain their rightful place -- at least in western culture. And I wonder why those who would wear such a garment would choose to live in our world. Of course, many times the answer is that these are British women, born and bred who have fallen in love with a Muslim man and converted to his faith and so chosen this path. And so they are participating in their democratic right as a British citizen. The point being that it isn't always foreigners who make this choice. I do not have a problem with head scarves, or with the burqa -- if women choose that form of attire, far be it for me to object to that.
The authorities are now in a quandary about how to handle the questions that arise from this 'right'. A woman has been told that when she testifies before a jury she must uncover her face so that the jurors can see her when she testifies. Another woman was told that she could not teach her children with a veil covering her face -- she lost her job.
One woman wrote about wearing the full Muslim dress, that is the burqa and the full veil, to work and abandoned the idea because co-workers avoided her. This, is the crux of the matter for me. For me it represents a wish to 'separate' oneself from our culture -- more than anything else we judge others by how we see their faces. For all you know, as I am sitting here, I could be wearing a burqa and veil but because my 'veil' is the Internet, it is perfectly acceptable -- but 'face-to-face', in our culture, we want to see for ourselves -- the voice is not enough.
The judge decided that the jury had a right to see a woman's face because it was necessary in order to make a fair judgement. But it has occurred to me that if this woman had worn a veil all her life would taking it off place her at a disadvantage because she did not have the experience of being so exposed to people. But then if you live in a foreign culture, sometimes you just have to go with the flow...
There could also be arguments that this form of dress holds security risks -- how do you really know it's a woman hidden beneath that garb and not some wicked man!
Thursday, August 29, 2013
It is depressing to consider the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's momentous speech coincides with the present day horrors in Syria that dominate our television news. Where is there a leader that can uplift the hearts of humankind. We are caught in a web of suspicion compounded by concern for our fellow men and women being used by world powers to ensnare our better natures toward goals that lead us we know not where.
I do not believe that military action by super powers will accomplish anything other than to make matters worse. But that doed not help resolve the pain and suffering of those people caught in the bloody crossfire of political maniacs.
I hope that those mighty "powers that be" will allow the United Nation's team time to do the investigation they have begun and to back off the posturing and threats until some kind of determination can be ascertained. I do not believe the answers to the problems in the middle east can be found by western military intervention.
I do believe, however, that it is essential that we in the west support the countries bordering Syria as they try to cope with the onslaught of war-weary refugees.l