Friday, April 28, 2006

"How far is heaven? ..."

Every single time that I scoop the litter box, Maggie comes to watch ... and before I'm finished, she has climbed INTO the box and is using it. I guess she isn't much for the whole "privacy" thing.

Speaking of the cat ... last night was the first night in a loooooong time that I wasn't awakened 47 times by cat breath in my face. Maybe the night before when I lovingly showed her the way to the floor ... over and OVER again ... had something to do with it!


Jimmy is home today, and is working in the yard this morning. Wow, what absolutely perfect weather we've had lately.

There was some celebrity golf thing in town yesterday ... I saw Kevin Costner and ummm ... well, Kevin Costner on the news last night at some red carpet thing they were all attending downtown. I can't remember if it was Costner or some other "celebrity" that said it, but someone said something like, "The city of Greenville is amazing ... good people, perfect weather ... blah blah blah." Yep, we get perfect weather every year ... for about 7 days. The the humidity arrives. But you have to agree that the weather had great timing this year ... perfection on the very day Kevin Costner came to town.


I got a call from Grandma's oncologist yesterday. He asked how she was feeling. He seemed genuinely sad to hear she had passed away. That led to lots of thinking about Grandma for me ... it was this time last year that we were making plans to bring her up here from Georgia. We were so worried about her money running out, it seemed vital that we get her to an assisted living place that would accept Medicaid when the time came that she needed it. As it turned out, she never needed it.

I'm really glad we did get her up here, for my sake. She was unhappy, and wanted to go back to Georgia even before she got here ... but I'm happy I had the time with her. If we had known ... I guess we would have left her where she was, so she wouldn't have had to spend so many hours thinking about how to get back home again. But I cherish every memory I have of the past 11 months with her ... even the times she had me gritting my teeth and rolling my eyes.

She always greeted me with a smile and a hug when I walked in the door. And man, she could tell some good stories about her life when she felt like it. She loved Hershey Bars ... "You know now they say that some chocolate is good for you!" She kept them in her room at the assisted living place, but in the nursing home, I would just keep one in my purse for her ... we felt that if we kept them in her drawer, they would disappear when a CNA needed a snack. One day in March, I woke her up when I got there, and she gave me a big smile and said, "Ohhhh good! It's my candy man!" If nothing else, she liked seeing me because I brought her chocolate. :-)

I still haven't gone through her belongings that we brought home from the nursing home. It makes me sad to even think of it.


Yesterday, I gave in and called the damn insurance company again. I tell myself I did good because it's been over a week since I called before. The first person I spoke to said, "Oh you don't need approval for this surgery ... it's a covered benefit. After you pay your deductible, we pay 100%." I knew that, but what the hell? I don't need approval? What am I waiting on then? He told me to call the Care Coordination department ... I said, "I thought I did!" He gave me the number, and I called ... and waded through the damn menu ("If you'd like to hear the alphabet in Russian, press or say 2"), and then waited on hold forEVER. Then I was disconnected.

I smiled politely, took a deep breath ... and redialed. The Lexapro might be working, folks ... ya think?

This time, I got a snippy bitch, who told me that she couldn't tell me anything about "my file" since it was in NeverNeverLand. Actually she said it was in "Clinical Review", whatever that means. I asked how long it might be there ... she said anywhere from 1 or 2 days to weeks. Oh, so helpful.

Anyway, she said as soon as it was out of clinical review, a decision would be made, and I would get a letter informing me of the decision. I didn't even ask her why the first guy I spoke to gave me such an off-the-wall response. Every time I call there, I get a different version of what's going on.

*deep sigh*

I guess maybe I'll hear something in 2 weeks. Thanks for putting up with me.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"Don't wanna be an American idiot ..."

My dreams came true on Fox TV tonight. (It doesn't take much for me, folks!) Andrea Bocelli sang ... if that's what you want to call the miracle that comes out of his mouth when he opens it. His voice is straight from heaven. Guess what CD I'll be listening to all day tomorrow?

AND ... best of all, Kellie "Too Dumb For Words" Pickler was sent packing. Thank GOD. "What's a ballsy?" I can't stand her.


From the comments:

This isn't an arena for me to just randomly type.... I should be commenting on your "blog"

Sister, you can type whatever you darn well please in my comments. But you don't need a 17th dog. Really, you don't.

And ...

Don't worry - the date will be here soon enough. Then we'll all be jealous of you!

I love you Brandy. :-) I don't want you to be jealous of me though. Promise you won't!!!


So I'm still waiting on the phone to ring. At my pre-op group sessions, I record my weight each time. At the 2nd one, I had gained a little over a pound from the 1st meeting. Then, after Grandma F passed away, at the 3rd meeting I was down 5 pounds. And this week, I was down again ... almost 2 more pounds. I have no idea why ... except for the week or so leading up to the funeral when I was forgetting to eat, I've been eating nothing but junk and sugar.

Anyway, tomorrow I'm trying something new. I'm going to eat basically as I ate on Weight Watchers. Anything I lose before surgery just makes it that much easier in the operating room ... and I'll be that much closer to where I dream of being. So. There.


Jimmy just came in from his monthly Texas Hold 'Em game. God, I hope he didn't win. Then we'll have to have all those engineer-types in OUR house next month.

Monday, April 24, 2006

"These days seem like years ..."

It was a quiet weekend here at the castle. Jimmy got some of his firewood chopped and stacked, and I finished up the thank-you cards from Grandma's funeral. I burned dinner last night. (Grr.) Then I watched The Sopranos and went to bed. The End.


Still nothing to report on the topic of INSURANCE. Other than to say it's on my mind 24/7. One of the girls in my support group who was gearing up to fight a denial by her insurance suddenly just got approved last week. And while I'm happy for her, I'm evil too. I'm jealous. Don't hate me because I'm honest about how I feel. Her surgery date is May 17th. Yay.

Needless to say, every time the phone rings, my heart jumps ... it's Kim calling with my approval and a date! Only it's never Kim. It's my mother-in-law.


Y'all have a great week, will ya?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

"Reality runs up your spine ..."

It has been a week since my last confession.

Maybe because I have nothing to confess. Ya think?


Finally spoke to Kim in Dr. Bour's office yesterday. I called on Tuesday, and got her voice mail. When she didn't call back, I tried again yesterday ... voice mail again. She called in the afternoon and said, "I called you yesterday on your cell phone and left a message. I sent your paperwork to insurance on the Friday before last ... April 7th. They will take about 30 days to respond."

I thanked her and then went to listen to the message she left on my cell. (Unless I'm sitting near my purse, I don't hear my cell phone ring ... but in this case, the darn battery was dead. I had to use the house phone to listen to the cell voice mail!)

The cell voice mail (left on Tuesday) said, "Just wanted to tell you that your paperwork was sent to your insurance a few days ago, and they have 45 days to respond ... so you have, ummm, about 40 days to go."

Hmm. A few days ago, or April 7th? 30, 40, or 45? Oh well.

Just to be as pesty as I could possibly be yesterday, I called the insurance company to see if they'd admit to having my paperwork. The girl said, "Yes, your paperwork was received yesterday, April 18th, and we have 30 days to give a reply to your surgeon."

Yesterday. Now I'm not saying anyone's making things up, but I got three different answers from two different people.

Oh well, bottom line is that my insurance FINALLY has my paperwork, and some time in the next 30 to 40 days, maybe I'll hear from Kim again with, "You've been approved!"

Not even gonna go to the "What if I'm denied?" place in my head just yet.


Adam and Brandy's new house is looking so pretty. We ate Easter dinner there, Emilie included ... Adam grilled yummy steaks on their new gas grill. Not your typical Easter dinner, but it worked for us.


That's all I got.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

"Tell me that you want the same things as me ..."

This has truly been The Week Of Procrastination. It's like my brain is on vacation, and I'm barely functioning. I need to do paperwork and get the desk cleaned off. The bathrooms are growing fuzzy things. I need to add more money to the IRA before the end of the week. I need to EXERCISE. I haven't cooked a meal in more than two weeks. Ugh. I hate feeling like this.

I did get caught up on the laundry yesterday, so that's a good thing. And I made another call the the insurance company, only to find out they STILL don't have any requests for approval. (When Kim gets back from vacation, I'm letting her know - in no uncertain terms - that she can't take another day off until AFTER my surgery.

Instead of cleaning bathrooms, I choose now to spend time doing a useless, silly, middle school survey I yanked off someone else's website:

1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought? “My hair is so damn thin, it’s ridiculous.”

2. When is the next time you will have sex? Is that any of your bidness? I didn't think so.

3. What’s a word that rhymes with “DOOR”? Shore

4. Favorite planet? Venus. I guess.

5. Who is the 4th person on your missed call list on your mobile? Jimmy. Sometimes I don’t hear my cell phone ringing, it’s at the bottom of my purse, or I’m in another room altogether.

6. What is your favorite ring on your phone? My phone’s rings are all very lame and boring. The ring I use is the sound of a phone ringing.

7. What shirt are you wearing? A navy blue shirt that I bought a few weeks ago, because I have NO clothes for warm weather.

9. Name the brand of shoes you’re currently wearing? No shoes at all, but later I will be wearing the ever present Birkenstocks.

10. Bright or Dark Room? Bright, unless I’m trying to watch a movie or go to sleep.

12. What were you doing at midnight last night? Reading on the Internet, in bed of course.

13. What did your last text message you received on your mobile say? It was years ago, but I think it was a Happy Birthday message from Sister Laura.

14. Where is your letter box? I’m assuming this means my mailbox, and it’s at the end of the driveway, next to the street.

15. What’s a word that you say a lot? “Great.”

16. Who told you he/she loved you last? Emilie

17. Last furry thing you touched? Maggie Belle’s stomach. We had a smooch-fest in the middle of the night last night, when I woke and found her sleeping so sweetly with her head on my outstretched arm. Aww.

18. How many drugs have you done in the last three days? Just one Lexapro a day.

19. How many rolls of film do you need to get developed? None. I hardly ever take pictures. We are the only people in the USA that still use a film camera, aren’t we?

20 Favorite age you have been so far? I liked 35, but I hope the best is yet to come.

21. Your worst enemy? Myself.

22. What is your current desktop picture? I don’t use a desktop picture. The last time I did was years and years ago, and I think it was a picture of the beach. I don’t really remember.

23. What was the last thing you said to someone? “Ouch, damnittohell.” That was last night, when Jimmy jabbed his toenails into my ankle in bed. He was sound asleep, and never heard a thing.

24. If you had to choose between a million dollars, able to fly, which would you choose? The money. Duh.

25. The last song you listened to? “The Real Thing” by Bo Bice

26. If the last person you spoke to was getting shot at, would you jump in front of the bullet? I hope so – I’m wider than anybody I know, so I’d stand a good chance of shielding them … and maybe my fat would stop the bullet before it hit any of my vital organs. Sounds like a plan.

27. If you could punch 1 person in the face who’s in your life right now, who would it be? Tom Cruise. Granted, he’s not so much “in my life”, but he’s the one person on earth I’d like to punch in the face, because he’s an IDIOT ASSHOLE.

28. What is the closest object to your left foot? My right thigh, I’m sitting Indian-style.

Yikes, that was a stupid waste of time and typing, was it not?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"We all falter, but does it matter? ..."

Wow. Our non-English-speaking neighbor just kicked his wife out the back door ... in English, no less. Complete with a spit in her general direction.

We're under the impression that she cheated on him, based on the sounds traveling in our open bathroom window. So much for privacy.


Speaking of privacy ... Jimmy's goal for the night is to complete our tax return, and he's about to open an artery in there, attempting to remember the freaking PASSWORD with which he locked the incomplete return a few weeks ago. Why, you might ask, would he bother to password it, when it's on our home hard drive? Turns out that's exactly what he's yelling at this very moment in time. Gonna be a long night. *sigh*


Last night was my third pre-op support group meeting. The psychologist talked to us about relaxation techniques to relieve stress. Were you aware that if you can roll your eyes up so that only the whites of your eyes show, it's a good sign that you can be easily hypnotized? I learn something new every day. I am not easily hypnotized, but I did enjoy the 15-minute relaxation session he talked us through.

After that, one of the nutritionists on staff talked about the different phases our diets will go through after surgery.

For me, the best part of the meeting was FINALLY meeting a girl I've been e-mailing with for the last month. Her name is Melissa, and her surgery is a week from today. (I'm jealous.) She is as sweet in person as she is in E-mail. We swapped phone numbers, and I'm planning to go by and see her at the hospital next Wednesday.

I called the insurance company last Thursday, and found out that my pre-determination packet had not been submitted. I then called Kim at Dr. Bour's office. (Kim is the program coordinator/insurance guru.) She said they were STILL waiting on Dr. Russell's dictation to come back from his transcriptionist. She said it would probably be back to them this week. Then last night, I found out that Kim is on vacation this week ... so I'm probably hoping in vain that my packet will go anywhere this week. Aaaarrrghhhh!!!

Monday, April 10, 2006

"It's hard to say it, time to say it -- goodbye, goodbye ..."

Here I sit, a normal Monday morning ... and I don't know what to do with myself. It feels totally foreign to NOT be going to see Grandma F today.

The funeral was Saturday morning, in her hometown in south Georgia. The flowers were pretty, the stormy weather held off until we were ready to head back home again, and the time with family and friends was needed and treasured. Grandma had planned everything before she got sick, and we didn't have to make any decisions about her funeral. She had even chosen the songs to be sung. All we really had to do was show up.

On the afternoon of her death, I was there. I do have the assurance that she went peacefully and with no pain, because I saw it with my own eyes. We had all told her in our own ways that it was alright for her to go. But in the last moments of her life, there I was ... tears flowing onto her hands, and begging her not to go yet. I thought I would feel only relief when her death came ... relief for her, and for us. But instead all I feel is loss. It's really hard to say goodbye.

Gone From My Sight

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and starts
for the blue ocean.

She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud
just where the sea and sky come
to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says;
"There, she is gone!"

"Gone where?"
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull
and spar as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear her
load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.

And just at the moment when someone
at my side says, "There, she is gone!"
There are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad
shout; "Here she comes!"
And that is dying.

We are all better people for having known her.

Thank you, Grandma.


Sunday, Jimmy and I went to check out the kids' brand new house. We helped a bit ... Jimmy helped hang a ceiling fan in the bedroom, and install the washer and dryer. I went shopping with Brandy for a few things they needed, and then unpacked a box or two. The house is oh, so nice. Spacious, clean, and beautiful. Even the things they had in the apartment look new all over again in the larger rooms. I'm very happy for my kiddos, and proud of them, too.


Speaking of kiddos ... Emilie, you are enough. Don't ever forget that. I love you.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

"She's an angel, let her fly ..."

Annie Geraldine
"Grandma F"
November 22, 1912 - April 4, 2006

I know your life on earth was troubled
And only you could know the pain
You weren't afraid to face the devil
Were no stranger to the rain

Go rest high on that mountain
Your work on earth is done
Go to heaven a-shoutin'
Love for the Father and the Son

Oh, how we cried the day you left us
Gathered round your grave to grieve
Wish I could see the angels' faces
When they hear your sweet voice sing

Go rest high on that mountain
Your work on earth is done
Go to heaven a-shoutin'
Love for the Father and the Son.

Go to heaven a-shoutin'
Love for the Father and the Son.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

"It's something unpredictable ..."

Another short update:

Grandma spent the day yesterday unresponsive and breathing fairly evenly. There were a few short episodes of apnea, but the time spent not breathing was short, 3 or 4 seconds each time. From what I've read, apnea in a dying person can sometimes mean longer stretches... up to 20 seconds or so ... with no breath taken, and then breathing resumes. She also got a lot warmer as the day went by ... when I first went in, her hands were like ice, but by mid-afternoon they were warm again. Her hands and wrists are very swollen ... you can see the fluid move just under the skin in her hands. They don't even look like Grandma's hands anymore.

She opened her eyes off and on throughout the day, but only once did I feel as though she saw me and knew who I was ... I got a sweet smile.

I kept her mouth moisturized with water on a tiny sponge, and spoonfuls of thickened water when the nurse gave her meds ... and kept Blistex on her lips. Everyone at the nursing home is being very nice, asking me if I need anything, etc.

The wind blew like crazy yesterday afternoon, and the temperature was near perfect, so I opened the windows and let the breeze blow through the room ... hoping she could feel it and enjoy it. Also hoped she could hear the birds singing over the hum of her oxygen.

Heading back over to sit with her shortly.

Monday, April 03, 2006

"I will love and have no fear ..."

Just a quick update for those who are not here:

Grandma F is still with us. Her breathing is even and her pulse is, too. Michael and Patti made the long drive back up here over the weekend, since her condition had worsened on Thursday. It was good to have them here, as things didn't get any better over the last three days. She knew they were here, and spoke to them both. She blessed her grandson Michael with the sweetest smile and showed her love to him the best she could. Actually, it blessed all of us to see it. She loves both her grandsons with all her heart.

On Saturday, a pressure sore was discovered on her tailbone. She is so painfully thin now, and nowhere is "skin and bone" more obvious than her tailbone area. There were 2 open, painful sores there on Saturday afternoon. There are three now. The hospice nurse came and dressed the sores on Saturday, and again yesterday. She ordered an air mattress for Grandma, and it was on her bed within an hour. That seemed to make her more comfortable immediately.

She had diarrhea on Sunday, which the hospice nurse said was a major drain on her energy and overall well-being. She said it was the main concern now. She said no more dairy for Grandma. Which isn't really an issue, since she was only alert and interested enough to swallow about 2 teaspoonfuls from her lunch tray. At dinnertime, I couldn't wake her to even eat a bite from her dinner tray.

By Sunday afternoon, her hands were filling with fluid. The hospice nurse explained that her heart was not working as hard to do non-essential jobs like pump fluid from her extremities. Her right hand was more swollen than her left, and her feet and ankles are a little swollen too.

Hospice has made all the difference in the world in her comfort level ... between the air mattress and the medications to slow her breathing and calm her overall, she is as comfortable as she can possibly be. Of course, the medications keep her sleeping most of the time, too ... but as I told Jimmy last night, sleeping is so much better than gasping for air. Bless her sweet, sweet heart.

I heading back over there as soon as I post this.