Tuesday, December 15, 2009

She Fell - The Nana Chapter

Well, I knew it was coming. And it probably makes me a bad person to be relieved that it didn't happen on my watch. Nana fell, and she one upped me. She really did break her hip.

I was in a meeting at work when a friend walked in to tell me "your Grandma's in triage". ( To which half the room exclaimed "Nana? Oh no - she's constipated again?") These friends know Nana well since they got to spend my 18th anniversary with me and Nana in area C while I had her worked up yet again for belly pain only to find out that she doesn't take her Miralax like she should. For the record, this year's anniversary sucked on many levels, and the ER with constipated Nana was simply the cherry on top. Digression complete.

So I grab my stuff and go out to triage where I see Nana on a stretcher all Christmased out in her festive sweater, Christmas tree necklace and other assorted bling. She begins to cry when she sees me and I sense that this time, it is not constipation but something that is going to suck worse than Anniversary Belly Pain ever did. And I was right.

I peel back the blanket at the same time she is saying "I fell off the senior bus and it's not Steve's fault so don't you be mean to the people at the Senior Center because they made us spaghetti and I fell and it was my fault and I know you told me to make them help me off the bus and now you are mad at me I can tell by your face". I heard all this, but I didn't hear all this, because all I could see was a skinny little leg facing the wrong way and all I could think was Shit Shit Shit Shit. This, I thought, is going to change everything.

I took Nana to my work area trying to kill two birds with one stone: take care of Nana and my assigned team at the same time. I popped an IV into her arm and gave her some pain meds, drew the blood for the surgery I already knew was going to happen, whether she was 92 years old or not. I ran around taking care of my other patients, and blessedly, got tons of help from my coworkers who alternately entertained Nana and covered my patients when I was at Nana's bedside. Nurses, the ultimate multitaskers. Never underestimate us.

Xray showed that Nana had a broken left femoral head, and a bad one at that. I went with my attending doctor to tell her this in time for her to vomit up her spaghetti dinner that the Senior Center so lovingly prepared for her. After this event, I will not eat Chef Boy-ar-dee products. Ever. Anti nausea meds, more pain meds, more vomit, more vomit and finally the moment I am dreading the most. Call my Mother. My turn to vomit, but only in my mouth.

Let's recap: Fall. Break. Trauma. Vomit. Vomit. Vomit. Phone Call to Sandra.

Now let's add: Drama.

Me: Hey Mom.

Sandra: Oh my God I am so tired I am never going to get packed and your father...

Me: Mom. Nana broke her hip, she is here with me.

Sandra: Expletive Expletive Expletive. I am coming up there. No one is going to say I didn't come help her. Click.

So the nice orthopaedic resident that everyone has a crush on goes to talk to Nana. Nana says "Well, you are a nice boy. Do you work with Bill?" Because in a hospital that employs over 10,000 people, Nana assumes that everyone knows me or Bill. But alas, Dr. Pifer endears me for life by saying "No, I work with your amazing Granddaughter; Kim". And Nana says, "Well, then you must be real good". And pats his hand. Nana may have a broken hip, but she can still work the floor.

Surgery is explained and goes in one hearing aid and out the other. I close out my team and drive Nana to her room on the 9th floor. As Karma would dictate, Nana's room is at the furthermost point of the hospital from where I work. I help get her settled in and my Mother takes her post in the chair in the corner, muttering things I don't care to listen to, as her attitude with Nana is about as joyful as a Bin Laden video.

Nana spends her first night flat on her back, refusing pain meds since they make her throw up. Which doesn't stop her from continuing to throw up. My Mother ends up joining the ranks of spaghetti haters, too. 23 hours after her fall she is finally taken to surgery, where an equally handsome Orthopaedic surgeon puts a new femoral head on Nana's femur. This takes one hour, long enough for me to fall asleep in a drooling mess on the waiting room chair. My mother delights in telling me to wipe my mouth as the cute Surgeon comes out to give us report. I listen to how well it all went and I fall back asleep until I am told Nana is in her room.

The saddest thing I have seen in a long time is my tiny little Nana in the big white bed, matching it in color since her hemoglobin is down to 7 and she needs blood. She looks old and frail and lost and frightened and I want to cry. And that's where we are folks. Four days post op, two blood transfusions, a couple clueless nurses and a bunch of nice ones. Nana is up to the bathroom with a walker and having physical therapy twice a day. She is pissed because they make her eat protein all the time. She is starting to realize the enormity of the situation. I can't tell if she is confused from pain meds or if she has also had a stroke, so I count the days til I can evaluate her from a drug free perspective. My mother is stepping up and standing guard, although I know in the end when the novelty wears off and we are thick into rehab, this will be my baby. I think of my fall last February, of lying on the cold ground wondering if I could get up. I think of Nana in the cold waiting for an ambulance. My old lady hip still hurts me. But far and above that; Nana's hip can kill her. Please fight Nana. This is not how I want it to end.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cable Guys - Spawn of Idiots

Oh, Cable Guys of the World. I am trying not to lump you all into a gargantuan pile of stupidity, but you are making it difficult for me to refrain. I have had more than my share of Cable Hell. Here are a few examples why:

To the Cable Guy who arrived at my home, bypassing the warning tape and wood blockades placed to keep you off my freshly rebuilt front porch: I do not apologize for the profanities I spewed when I opened the front door to find you standing there in your giant work boots, sinking into my freshly poured concrete. I do not apologize for taking pictures to show your boss because "really, Ma'am, could anyone be that ignorant?" Yes Siree, Mr. Boss of the Cable Guys, your staff is that ignorant. Even the Cub Scouts figured out to leave their bottle drive fliers at the back door. Maybe you should hire them instead. Yes Sir, Mr. Cable Guy Manager, I am asking for 6 months of free cable and for your company to pay for repairs. And yes friends, I received what I asked for.

To the Cable Guys who stand in my basement, gazing at the drop ceiling like it holds the 7th Wonder of the World, there is a splitter in there somewhere, and it's your job to find it. Thanks for cracking the ceiling tiles and leaving them on the floor for me to replace. Thanks for making me supervise you like a three year old after you comment about the cool sports memorabilia and copious amounts of wine in the rack. I need that wine after you leave. You stress me.

To the Cable Guy from AT&T who dicked around in my home for SEVEN HOURS before leaving and saying "I'll have to come back tomorrow, the outside hook up is not working": Newsflash! You NEVER came back. It's TWO MONTHS LATER! I have a box of your AT&T shit in the basement that I will allow my children to make a robot out of because you, yes you, were by far the biggest jackass ever to enter my home. And trust me, there have been many. You stole a friggin' dollar from my bedroom floor. You lied about it. You badmouthed your colleagues, who pranced across my newly seeded lawn despite signs asking them not to. (Can't any of you people read?) How did you pass the Cable Guy Bar Exam? For that matter, how did you pass the drug test, as I suspect most of you are on crack?

AT&T customer "service" (note the oxymoron usage): You need to be included in this post because you too, are in the running for the Cable Guy Jackass Award. We appreciate the recorded message you sent after 6 weeks of silence informing us that "your AT&T wiring problem has been fixed and we are ready to complete your installation!" Seriously? Send me a human to my (now really pretty) front porch and I will be happy to give them their AT&T robot to stick in their anal canal. You are the scourge of all cable. Do not send your moronic sales reps to my home to sing your praises again, lest I lock them in the basement and make them look for splitters until hell freezes over.

In the spirit of sharing, I encourage you to look in the lower left corner of my blog. There you will find the link to "Pantsless in Seattle" a brilliant blog by my friend's daughter. In it you will find "The Legend of the Bath Mat". Read it friends, it will not disappoint. And it will assure you that the nectar of stupidity is not only drunk here in Michigan, but by Cable Guys all over the nation.

Peace out, cable customers.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Gifts...

the people that make it worthwhile...

Right now I am in a vague, fuzzy spot in my career. A gray area, if you will. When that happens, I like to step back and analyze a little. Often I walk away with more clarity and a better frame of mind. So, here we go.

I have been a nurse for 15 years now. I am one of those people who can say "When I was young, I wanted to be a nurse and help people". That was a discovery I made when I was 14 years old. I was visiting an Aunt in the hospital. I sat down on the bed and massaged her hands with lotion after she said how badly they hurt. No one told me that sitting on the bed was not proper etiquette or that cancer patients die horrible, painful deaths sometimes and a hand massage was not going to make that any less so. I just knew that it felt good and right and I wanted to make people feel better all the time. The gift of realization.

Nursing school was a journey. A tough diploma program, non existent in this day and age, a six week old son, and new home and marriage, full time job and a full time school schedule left me spent. I am proud of my journey, which started with 120 students and graduated 72. I lost my Gramps during school and gained knowledge, strength and the realization that I could accomplish so much more than I ever thought possible. The gift of perseverance.

My nursing career started in the NICU. The patients there were like little baby birds who fell from their nests too early. Babies that weighed a pound or less slept next to big, beautiful babies who were expected to go home after their birth and grow up strong and healthy. That is, until something went terribly wrong. The NICU
babies touched my heart, and I had no problem putting myself in the mindset of their parents. I was the nurse you wanted caring for your baby. I made them name tags and dressed them up on Halloween. I took pictures, made cards and left them for their moms. I worked all night long. Sometimes I never sat down because we were working together to keep these babies alive. Some nights I sat down a lot - in a rocking chair with a baby who would scream from intracranial pressure if I put him down or stop breathing if I didn't stimulate her. I learned patience from my tiny patients. That was one of my first nursing gifts.

Sometimes the plans for these babies failed. Parents who never had a chance to hold their babies turned to me and I guided them through the shock of losing their dream. When I read back that sentence, I think I sound cocky. But I am not deleting it. Because I really did do that, and I am blessed because I received a gift from from those parents, too. The gift of compassion and strength. The gift of empathy as my heart broke wide open hearing a woman beg God not to do this to her. I did everything I could to make them look back on that horrible time and find some peace. I helped them bathe and dress their baby, made hand prints, took pictures that they keep forever and cut locks of hair that are touched and smelled and treasured. I tried to give them the gift of memories. To this day my chosen path is helping those through the journey of grief and loss.

That led to Hospice. A brief stint cut short by finding out I was pregnant with my daughter, and thus unwilling to drive alone around Detroit in the middle of the night with a box of narcotics next to me. (The gift of common sense). I did love it. I loved telling a wife of 60 years to get in the bed with her dying husband and hold him because they never slept apart. I loved telling little ethnic women to stop stuffing Jell-o down their dying loved one's throat. I did not love taking the Jell-o back out when they left the room. I loved educating and enlightening families. I saw amazing lives end in the most peaceful, spiritually moving ways I have ever known. I will go back to Hospice nursing someday, when I have 100% to give, because that is what people deserve when they are terminally ill.

Onwards to the mecca. After 20 years at one hospital, I moved to a Level One Trauma Center because hey, if you want to be an ER nurse you have to go big. The gifts I received from Emergency are some of my favorites. The gift of laughter is one. I work with people who are so warped they make me laugh until I cry. I have nights that are so difficult and emotionally draining that I cry until I laugh. I see things that leave me so incredulous I have no choice but to scream in hysterics when describing them to my friends. Through all of this, I have my comrades, my people, my fellow ER staff to lean on. The gift of support. The gift of belief. I see miracles. I watch still hearts start back up, I see talented men and women put the Humpty Dumpties of the world back together again. I share the frustration of dealing with addicts and the mentally ill, as well those who are faking both to manipulate us. Tolerance. There's a good gift.

Many gifts are not meant to be wrapped in a pretty ribbon and given in pomp and circumstance. You should take the ones that aren't, and treasure them, for they are the basis of your spirit. They will make you strong. I am so grateful for mine.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My Daughter, the Swimmer.

Casey begged to be on a swim team. I let her beg, turning a deaf ear for over a year, thinking "she's Casey, she'll move on to a new beg soon". Not. This one was a hard decision for me, because I was a competitive swimmer for the majority of my formative years. In those formative years I swore that when I grew up I would never:

Get up at ungodly hours of the morning to take my daughter to 5a.m. practices and watch her sneak out of the cold pool to stand in the hot locker room shower until her coach yells at her to get back in the (now colder, because of the hot shower) pool.

Buy a million pairs of goggles and swim caps, wash 9000 towels a year and invest in expensive chlorine removing shampoo.

Get up at ungodly hours (see the theme here?) to travel to swim meets far away and plant my ass on hard bleachers for hours on end waiting for her to swim a total of 5-10 minutes, max.

Buy bathing suits by the dozens. Smell the mildew on them when she forgets to take them out of her gear bag. Watch them fade and disintegrate before my eyes.

Be one of those parents in the stands who wears a stopwatch around their neck and can quote their kid's splits to the 100th of a second.

Get up at even earlier ungodly hours in Michigan winters to warm up the car for winter doubles.

Be on committees with overzealous parents who think their kid is the next Phelps.

But here I am folks. Ass firmly planted on the wooden chairs at the YMCA watching my daughter have the time of her life. Because she is Casey, the swimsuits, goggles and caps all match, and the kickboard is tye dye. Her gap tooth smile is constant as she learns butterfly and proper breathing technique. Soon she will understand that you can go a lot farther when you push off the starting blocks rather than collapse into the water like a stroke victim. It's coming. And it's sucking me in. Because this is the cutest time. Eight year olds in their tiny suits and hilarious attitudes having fun. Their feet pitter pattering in the family locker room as we beg them to "hurry, hurry, get dressed". They attend pleasant, short little 50 minute practices with lots of encouragement and no popping of their happy bubbles.

"I can do this", I think to myself.

Did I mention those were the best years of my life? My chlorinated, strong shouldered, eat what I wanted years. The medals, the trophies, the ribbons, the friends and the thousands of minutes in the pool made me a stronger, more committed person. My mom swears she had fun watching me, and I never understood that until just last week, as I sat, amazed at Casey's improvement in such a short time. She is looking more like a swimmer each practice.

Yes, I could have fun. Just not at 5 a.m. and NEVER with a stopwatch around my neck. Overzealous is not my thing. By the time she hits the age of required 5 a.m. practice, I had better have a laptop and a steady supply of Bigby coffee. I'll need something to broadcast my misery. And my pride.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Just Sad.

Travis and Leigh - October, 2009 Homecoming

When I was young I used to read that phrase "her heart was heavy" in books. I always thought it was strange. "How can a heart get fat?" I thought.

Well, with age brings knowledge. My heart is so heavy it hurts, which I made the mistake of announcing at work. My 2 nurse buddies jumped up, one heading for the EKG machine and the other grabbing my arm. Note to self: this is not a proper phrase to use in the ER.

My son has a dear friend. Her name is Leigh and I spend most of my time explaining how they are inseparable but do not date. They have been friends since they were five. Leigh is a ray of sunshine, happy, beautiful, smart and athletic. She is Trav's link to coolness at school, and the person that backs me up when I am ranting about what he should wear and how he should act. I adore Leigh, which speaks volumes. I don't adore many other people's kids besides my own.

Leigh's mom was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. She lost her fight Sunday. She was forty years old. Leigh and her Dad were at her side. My heart weighs a ton.

How is this beautiful girl going to make her way through life without her mom? Who helps with weddings, proms, first job interview? Leigh is not the first girl who asks these questions, the ones I cannot give a satisfying answer to. Of course I will be there for her, I will help her, I will hold her. She has always called me Mom but I am not the Mom she aches for. My heart weighs two tons.

Travis marvels at her strength. She got up the next morning and went to school, braving the typical teenage "Leigh is my best friend I can't believe her mom died" crap that will wane with time. I told Travis to stand back, that when the smoke clears, he will be the one she needs. He spent many nights over at her house when her dad was working and her mom was in the hospital. Yeah, I know, I have heard the "are you nuts, letting two teenagers spend the night". I can't help but to trust them. I believe in them. And in my heart I know they won't let me down. My son has grown through this as well.

Yesterday Leigh came over after school. She said, "Hi Mom, I just wanted to come in and hug you". I hugged her fiercely. Told her I loved her, that we all love her and we will always be here for her. I held it together until she left, when I broke and sobbed some really angry tears. I cried for Moms everywhere who have to leave their children behind. It was my son that hugged me, kissed my head and told me "It is going to be OK, Mom, she is really strong, she'll make it". My heart lightened up. A little. Life will continue. Leigh asked me to help her pick out shoes for homecoming. She chose her dress early, and got her Mom's approval. She asked me to do her hair and makeup and when I am done she will be a knockout. As you can see from the picture I added, she was.

Nancy, you rest now. I love your daughter and I will do my best to keep her the strong, beautiful woman you created. I'll help Leigh down here, and you shine down on her from above. Together we'll get her there.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Life at the Gym

People, I give you The Gym. A place ripe with not only ripeness, but snarky thoughts from my frontal lobe.

You are hot. You are twenty-five and you may or may not have breast implants, I am not a good judge of such. But for God sakes, must you arch your back and stick the girls out to here for the no-neck defective running the desk? You are simply checking in. Go "work out", we all know you are here, although we are curious to why your Mom named you PINK and plastered it on the ass of every bit of workout wear you own...

Muscle head dude, I am talking to you. Why the growling grunt with each rep? We already smell you and clean up after your sweaty pigness when you don't wipe off the machines. We all know you are here. Please refrain from the verbal cues.

Old people in Reeboks and sweatsuits. You are beyond cool and I love you. Thank you for smiling at me sympathetically, and acknowledging my efforts as I huff away on the eliptical. I love to watch TLC over your shoulder as you pedal on the TV Recumbent Bikes. Thank you for using closed caption, so I can read every word of Kate's condescending barbs at John. I am so glad you take care of yourself and I don't have to see you at work all debilitated because you don't exercise. Rock on with your bad selves.

Skinny running dude. I envy you. I envy your smooth long strides and the fact that you actually know how high the treadmill can go because you run at that speed. I envy your long lean legs and marvel at your calf muscles. You entertain me. You inspire me. I pretend to be you when I close my eyes and chug along. I wish you many miles and half marathons.

Formerly Really Fat Black Dude - YOU ARE AWESOME!!! I am so proud of you. You and I have nodded at each other for a year now and I laughed at Christmastime when you wore your Santa hat while you elipticalled next to me. You have lost SO MUCH weight and you need to buy some better fitting clothes. I wish I was rich and I would buy you some myself. I have had a hard time with the tragic losses of my favorite Big Black Men: Barry White, Luther Vandross and Isaac Hayes, but now I have you to adore. Bless you - keep going, I cheer you on in my head every time I see you.

Over 50 ladies. NO. RUNNING. SHORTS. Cellulite does not discriminate. Your daughter is embarrassed to be seen with you. I see her face when you make a big deal about stretching. She is mortified.

My husband. Love to sneak peeks at you when you are working out. You are the cutest one here. You are exempt from the growling grunt rule. You love me because I try. Thank you for looking at the breast-y girl only when I cannot see you. You are a stellar man.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

For the Love of Dogs...

Flash and Casey 2003
Lillian - braving out 4th of July
I've been gone awhile. In case you haven't noticed. A few reasons - May is my favorite month. It gets me out of the house, into my garden, setting up my pool and swearing at it, cleaning out the disgusting garage, and fighting the ants. My husband and son's birthdays are in May, as well as the heralded 2nd favorite holiday next to Halloween - Mother's Day. I love May. It's promising.

Usually I do these projects with a dog at my side. First was Flash the Basset, then Lily the Bulldog. I would trip over Flash at least five times a day because he was always right there. It drove me crazy. Now, of course, I miss it. Lily would snore in the corner of the yard on her blanket, but she would still just be, so it was good company.

This May, I was dogless. My Lil died on April 21st, the same way she lived - quietly, nondescript. I was reading a book, she was snoring next to me. Everyone was asleep and I was content and happy. Then she stopped snoring. She looked at me and took 3 quick breaths and was gone. Just. Like. That. Talk about having the rug pulled out from under you. Nineteen months is not nearly long enough to have someone that you fell in love with. But I can say this - she had a GREAT nineteen months with us. She was The Queen. I keep that thought in my head to comfort me when I am so dog-lonely I could cry. I feel blessed that I was with her when she died, and that I didn't have to make the horrible decision I had to make for Flash. I had her cremated and she sits in her pretty carved box on my dresser, much to Bill's discomfort. But still, it hurts.

This is why I love rescue dogs the best: They know you saved them, on some level that only dogs can master. They appreciate their life, and are loyal beyond belief. You can argue the virtues of a puppy with me all day, I will never agree with you that it's the same. Rescue dogs have old souls. I love that.

After some healing, (less time than I thought, as usual) I looked into Greyhound rescue. A lady walks three of them around my neighborhood, and I love how regal and calm they are. I asked her about them, she sang their praises, as did my other friend who owns retired racing Greyhounds. I applied and got a home visit. The rescue lady brought a beautiful brindle male, just one week off the track and labeled as "perfect" for our family. Even Bill fell in love. That's a big deal, believe me. We asked to adopt the dog and named him Al. On June 8th the third dog to grace our home would arrive. We were so excited - until Sunday when we got a message from the Greyhound lady: "call as soon as you can". I could tell by her voice. It wasn't good. And it wasn't. Our Al was in the hospital - necrotizing fascitis had eaten his leg and was up in his chest. He was in pain, nothing could be done, and he needed to be put to sleep. He was euthanized that night, as far as I know. He never knew that someone (4 someones, even) loved him. How sad is that? I feel guilty, like I jinxed him, I am the Grim Reaper of Dogs, I am with them, I love them and they die on me. It's so unfair.

So go on, Al, and do that Rainbow Bridge thing that people keep sending me. You can do whatever you want now. But for me, find Lily and Flash and give them my love. I know you will like them, they are beyond cool and I miss them insanely.

Now I am alone, dogwise. I sit outside at night and drink my wine and feel incomplete because there is no one on my feet to keep them warm, or no one at my side snoring like a truck driver.

At home, we wait. While the lady at Greyheart looks for another dog to make our own. Those who love me know I am NOT good at waiting. So please hurry, Sue. My life is not complete without the love and companionship of a good dog...

Monday, April 6, 2009

It's the end of the world as we know it...(and I don't feel fine)

I want to apologize to my kids. I am sorry for the world that I will someday turn over to you. It's a sucky world, and you don't deserve it. Trust me, it didn't used to be that way. And I will tell you why.

Bill and I are fond of drinking wine, listening to music and pondering. We do it often, and because he is my best friend we talk about damn near everything under the sun. I especially like "remember when" conversations.

Bill: Remember when we were kids?

(Note - Bill and I met when I was 20 and he was 23, so we were not kids together, per se. We lived five miles apart but it might as well been a hundred, since we never crossed paths).

Kim: Yeah?

B: I used to play baseball all day long. I would leave the house after breakfast and play all morning (under the smokestack in Madison Heights that has since been shut down due to all the carcinogens it leached for a million years) then come home for lunch and ride back to the park and play until it was too dark to see.

K: (Whose dad worked on the road and mother was not nearly as liberal with boundaries) Oh man, I used to play in another kid's back yard. We actually spread across three yards and I was the youngest so I always had to play way-out-in-the-field-go-get-the-ball. It was the best.

Our conversation segued into confessions about petty theft: (me: Bonne Bell Lip Smackers; him: Penthouse), best candy: (me: straight up no nut Hershey Bar; him: Whatchamacallit), worst thing you ever did: (me: locking my brother out of the house in his underwear in February; him: starting a fire at Korvette's Department Store).

(You're wondering how he turned out so morally superior to me, aren't you? Shut up. )

Bill ate dinner with his family every night, at a table, with salad and a meat and vegetable. (My mom gave it a hell of a shot). We both went on family vacations and had amazing Christmases where we received over the top presents. (Him: a unicycle; me: record player and Aerosmith album - squee!). We both played any sport we wanted and had parents that carted us to practices and games and meets. We had an excellent childhood and no therapist will convince me otherwise.


I am afraid to let my eight year old play out in the front yard alone. I would not dream of letting her ride her bike around the block. Or walk home from school. Or be alone at the park.

My son, although an great athlete, spent way too much time in front of video games when he should have been outside running around like we did. (Although I am grateful that area fire departments did not have to respond to his handiwork). Why can't it be like it was?

Because people are crazy now. And they suck. And they could pluck my children off the grass and into a van and I would never be able to breathe again. Sleepovers? Not for her. There are scary Daddies and Uncles that I cannot bring myself to trust, no matter how nice they are on the surface. The Boy can only go on them now because he can punch someone out if the situation warrants. As an added bonus we can now hold our breath until he arrives home at night, scared shitless that someone decided to shoot him as he drives around with his mouthy friends.

Is this the same world we had thirty years ago? Were Bill and I just too naive to know it back then? Does every generation do this? I am terrified for my (someday) grandchildren, who will probably have to work until they are 90 and live in a box because we have screwed up everything for them.

Hurry up Obama. Put Humpty-USA-Dumpty back together again.

Oh, and I am sorry about the "we all sit down to dinner" thing, kids. Unfortunately, I inherited Mema's "I gave it a hell of a shot" gene. For the record, once a month and bank holidays is not the family dinner goal you are striving for when you grow up.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's a Boy.

There is a picture that I love. It's really simple, but it evokes so many emotions for me. It's a photo I took after my son finished his T-Ball season. He is six years old, and he is sitting on a concrete wall with four of his little friends. They are all eating some variation of ice cream - some have cones with sprinkles, some cones are dipped in heinous red hued stuff, one has a bomb pop. They are "all boy" as the saying goes - dirty, hats on crooked, scabby knees, and Dairy Boy ice cream all over their faces. It's beautiful.

I write about this picture because it's ten years later. My little boy is six foot one now, and he still loves baseball. He is a handsome, kind, decent young man. He is intelligent and funny and I am so incredibly blessed to have him. The world is open to him in a way that only teenagers can experience. Remember that? When you thought you grew up and automatically inherited a charmed life? Never mind, this post won't feature my typical acerbic bubble bursting, so we can stop on that thought and move on.

Last week Travis went for his first job interview and will (God willing) begin working at the ice cream shop he visited after his T-Ball season ended ten summers ago. Pardon my naivete', but how did this happen? I know I have been around for the last ten years, the Grand Canyon sized wrinkle between my eyebrows is sad proof. But when did my dirty faced baby get big enough to have a job? When did he speak to a store owner and make the impression that he is "just the kind of young man we are looking for"?

I know. I am not the exception. I am barely the rule. Moms all over the world lament their children growing up behind their backs. But this is me. This is my firstborn. He owns a huge chunk of my heart. He let me mess up and forgave me, many, many times. Bill and I worked hard to teach him respect, manners, compassion, and people believe me, it's not always easy or fun to parent that way. But it's so worth it. I listen to him laugh over his ridiculous Will Ferrell movies and yell at his fellow X-Box players while playing games I don't even want to know about. I will curse the girl(s) who break his heart. I hate the high school coaches who don't see his talent because of the cocky hotshots who preen in front of them. I want to scream "Look at my boy! I've taught him to be mature, to respect his sport, and you don't even notice!" Turd-ly coaches. It makes my heart hurt.

Conversely, when I am sitting in the bleachers, freezing or sweating (depending on the season), and my son drives in the winning run I could ask for nothing more in the world. To see the light in his smile makes tears well up in my eyes in a way that I would normally be mortified about. I thrive on comments from his teachers and other moms who tell me that Travis is the kind of son everyone wants to have. These are the people who matter, I tell myself, not some washed up dude trying to relive his glory days.

We have so much ahead of us. Road tests, proms, graduations, college decisions. Before I know it ten more years will pass and the Grand Canyon wrinkle will divide and conquer my face. I pray he will still be a kind, decent person. I may have moments where I wonder. If I do, I will walk downstairs (where he will probably still live) and see my Ice Cream Boys picture on the bookshelf. And I will smile.

I love you Travis.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Weddings and Showers and Websites, Oh My...

I got married over 17 years ago. I had a bridal shower, it was lovely. I had my son 16 (almost) years ago. I had a baby shower that I really don't remember since he arrived early and was 6 days old when the shower happened. I know I was miserable and tired and scared and the last thing I wanted to do was put on a dress and be cheerful. But I survived, we all do.

I am grateful to have all of that behind me, although I do believe you should get a bonus shower on your 20th anniversary, a shower that you receive new sheets, towels and wine glasses for the worn out and broken ones you have had for 20 years. These days, I am surrounded by young people who are marrying and birthing and it seems that every month an invitation arrives for yet another function. Sometimes I am genuinely thrilled to attend these events and look for the perfect gift designed to delight and surprise the Bride to Be/Mom to Be. Other times, not so much.

Based on the events of the last few years, I have designed a guide for those struggling to combine and add to their lives with the addition of a spouse or baby. We'll call them:

Kim's Subtle Suggestions for Weddings and Showers

1. Do you know my preferred alcoholic beverage? Do you know my kid's names? If not, you have not spent enough time with me to invite me to your shower. So please don't.

2. Kindly do not instruct me what to buy you. Also, please refrain from suggesting that I bring an additional gift of a box of diapers to "help the new mommy with expenses". Seriously? Skip registering for the butt wipe warmer and Brainy Einstein vids and buy your own diapers. We all did. If I like you enough to come to your shower I will be working hard to pick the perfect gift for you. That said, I will add that I believe butt wipe warmers are the root of the spoiled, sissy children who will someday be running our fair planet. Teach them young that sometimes things are cold, wet and necessary, and thus must be sucked up. Please.

3. Don't be offended if I don't sign your Wedding Website guest list. I probably never viewed it. If I know you well enough to attend, I have already seen the pictures and know the stories. I don't get the hoopla over a wedding website. But then I don't get the hubbub about letting everyone know your every move via Twitter, either. There's a lot to be said for intimacy in relationships, and you won't find it on the internet. Unless it involves the letters XXX.

4. I know a person who collects "Save the Date" magnets. You know, the ones with the tasteful engagement picture on them? Anyhoo, after the Save the Date Couple's marriage tanks he draws a black bar over their eyes. Genius.

5. Re: the above. I do appreciate Save the Date magnets. If I like you well enough to attend I can get the day off. If I don't, I can schedule myself to work. Thoughtful and practical. Thanks!

6. If you find yourself considering the pre-printed thank you notes, I am done with you. Just done. Put a pen to paper and say something, anything, or I will be compelled report you to Miss Manner's hit list. When I see the girl who sent us a pre-printed thank you for the wedding my husband attended alone,  all I can think of is: "there goes Loser Classless Pre-printed Redneck Thank You Card Girl".

Along the same line - DO NOT ask me to address my own thank you card. For Christ sakes, I bought you a gift. Do a little legwork on your own. I will leave my envelope blank and proclaim to all who will listen that you neglected to send me a thank you card. Try me.

OK - done now. Had to get these off my lobe and onto the screen. I will probably never get invited to anything again. But please, do join me for my sheet- towel-new wine glass shower in 2 years, OK? And bring a bottle of dry red to help the old mommy with her liver failure. Save the date!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

She fell...

When you are a little kid, falling is a weekly, if not daily (if not hourly, for my daughter) occurrence. But when you are old, falling is an event. As in: Did you hear about Kim? She had A Fall!

Walking my daughter's friend home in February, I fell. And with that fall, I crossed the threshold into old-ladydom. I slipped on some ice in front of the lovely foreclosure home a few houses down and I slammed into the ground at warp speed. I had my hands in my pockets and Lily's collar around my wrist. Lily is a dog that walks, at best, 2 miles an hour, so I am not one of those people getting pulled along like a damn fool by their dog. How is that even fun? Apologies; I digress.

So, hands in pocket, nothing to brace my fall, I am going down. And fast. I live in fear of my teeth being knocked out so I had the good sense to turn my head to the right. In doing that, my body turned that way as well and my left shoulder, hip and knee greeted the sidewalk.

I lay there in the cold, silently triaging myself. Can I move my neck? Yes. Flex my wrist? Yep. Arm? O.K.

Casey's friend Sara, who tops out at 40 pounds is holding her hand out, offering to help me up. I have a visual of Sara flying through the air as she attempts to help my injured ass off the ground so I refuse. Sara contents herself to chase Lily, who has made it about four sidewalk squares down. Meanwhile, I triage some more.

Ankle? So far so good. Knee - ouch, sore but mobile. The moment of truth arrives. I try to get up. Seriously intense pain rips through my hip. I am stuck on my hands and knees on my street. I am grateful for the foreclosed house, if only because there is no porch light on to illuminate my pathetic form. I move at the speed of Lily, slooooowly getting on two feet. I make the old person noise. My hip and shoulder begin to throb in unison. I am The Old Person That Fell. This was An Event.

I manage to get Sara the rest of the way home and make my way back the ten or so houses to my own. On the way I ponder how injured I really am. Any emergency room nurse will tell you that they need to be near death to seek treatment at their place of employment. I am no different.

Lily and I make our way into the house and discuss My Fall with Bill and Travis. They make the proper sympathetic inquiries and offer their help, but they don't really understand that I am dealing with two things - one physical and one mental. The physical, simple enough. 800mg Motrin, ice, wrap my knee. Move to vicodin when that doesn't work.

The remaining part is harder to wrap my brain around. I have evolved from the "bounce back from a fall young adult" to "the elderly fall victim". I know, 44 is not elderly, but damn! I still hurt and it's been 6 weeks! I limp when I am tired and my hip aches all the time. When I get to eight weeks of hip pain I will see someone about it. Because I am scared. And I have to get a mammogram soon and I can only handle one painful thing at a time. It effects my workouts and my regular work and my housework and my ability to lie on the floor and hug my dog and I am starting to get angry. Soon I will be a bitter, crabby old lady who falls. Pray for me friends. Light a candle for my acetabulum.

Monday, February 2, 2009


I have a Nana. That is her on the right, doing a jello shot at last year's Christmas celebration. She is technically my Grandmother, wife of my beloved Gramps. I lived with her and Gramps when I was little, while my Mom got divorced from my bio-father and before she married my way better adoptive father. I am sure my brother and I were the center of the universe for them, and a welcome diversion to whatever my mother was imploding in her life at the time.

So now, Nana is 92 and still a major player in the movie of my life. She lives with her cousin in an old lady bungalow (that even has mint green living room walls!) in a yuppie infested city. I am sure the neighbors are waiting for the day that those two old ladies head to the heavens and someone will bulldoze their home to replace it with a McMansion that will increase their property tax values. (In Michigan, no less. Dream the hell on.)

Nana and her cousin prove my theory that even as you mature in life, you simply cannot live with a roomate. They fight like Don King protegees. Nana bitches about cousin Dorothy in top decibel on the phone, forgetting that she is deaf as a doorknob and cousin Dorothy's ears hear quite sufficiently. Nana is as subtle as an oncoming semi truck.

My friends are regaled with Nana-isms. And now you will be too. Here are some of my favorites:

Pulling up to the drive through at Taco Bell:
Welcome to Taco Bell go ahead with your order.

Nana: I would like a Taco Bell.

Excuse me?

Nana: A Taco Bell. I would like two. No lettuce. I have diverticulosis.

Ma'am, I cannot understand what you are asking for.

(This is where I cave, and jump in to help the Taco Bell associate)
Nana would like two soft taco supremes minus lettuce with sour cream.

Nana - "Like I said, two Taco Bells".

Phone call from Nana:

Nana: Kimi, we need to go to the bank.


Nana: They are going to close and take all my money. These banks are going broke and they will steal my money and we must go get it out tomorrow.

Nana, you belong to a bank that has been around for 100 years. Your money is insured by the FDIC.

Nana: They are crooks. Damn fool crooks. Damn George Bush.

(I would like to point out here that I pick my battles with Nana. Non-negotiables include: Thursday is hair day, world without end, amen. We go to the Kroger with all the other old people. We will not utilize the drive through at banks because that tube will surely get lost and Nana's money will be stuck underground. We only go to the Comerica bank in Birmingham, because branches located elsewhere simply cannot be trusted. We deal with Dorothy and Paulette at the bank because no one else knows what they are doing, and Dorothy and Paulette are "lovely colored women". Her words, not mine).

Knowing full well I am beat, I pick Nana up the following morning and we travel to Comerica in Birmingham. Nana ignores the appoinment sign in sheet and the half door designed to keep senior citizens at bay. She storms up to Dorothy the Bank Lady's desk. She plops her File Folder of Important Bank Papers on Dorothy's desk and announces to Dorothy that she is here to take all her money out of the bank.

I would like to add that I adore Dorothy and Paulette the Bank Ladies. They know exactly how to handle my Nana. They are the epitome of class. They have long laquered nails and use a pencil to push buttons on the computer and phone. I could take lessons in patience and manicuring from them.

Dorothy: Mildred, surely you don't want to take your money out of Comerica?

Nana: Well, Dorothy, what am I to do? I know those bosses of yours are shady characters and they will surely steal my money. I watch those men on FOX news, before the Young and the Restless comes on.

Dorothy: Now, Mildred, I assure you that your money is insured here, and we are financially secure. We would never let anything happen to your money. Please, let's keep it in it's place.

Nana: Oh, Dorothy, I knew you would tell me what to do. Thank you. I think I should leave my money here. I was telling Kimi that very thing on the phone last night. Now Kimi, you can take me to lunch.

I raise my glass to Dorothy the Bank Lady, for the knowing look you give me, and for all you do for my Grandma. We all know I am a dumb ass who knows nothing.

Scene: Kim is trying to discreetly shop for underwear at Marshall Fields. She is in line with her purchases, and Nana is on the prowl in the lingerie area.

Nana: Kimi, come over here.

Nana, I am in line, I will be there when I am done.

Nana: Kimi, let me see what you are buying?

Nana, I am buying underpants. (I have a total aversion to the word "panties", I refuse to say that word out loud.)

Nana: Well, show me which ones you bought.

I proceed to tell her that they are the ones on the rack to her left. She begins to look through the rack, and I present my purchases to the saleswoman.


What Nana?

I turn to see Nana holding up underpants suitable for a 70 year old 400 pound woman. They are so big they totally hide her head, making it look like my tiny Nana has a head made of giant underpants, a la Pee Wee Herman in the 80's.

Nana: Put those other ones back, these are the size you should be wearing. You can't have underpants riding up your crack at work. People will talk.

I take a cleansing breath, because you see I am so immune to this behavior by now that I am not even one bit mortified. The man behind me, however, is. I calmly motion for the clerk to ring my order up. I tell the man behind me that he has chosen a lovely bra and panty set for some lucky girl, and accept my bag of new underpants. I approach Nana and gently remove the giant underpants from her hand. I bribe her with a promise of lunch at Beefcarver. As we leave the store, she says, "You should listen to me. You'll be sorry when you have to pull those underwear out of your crack when you are doing that CPR on people".

Nana always has the last word.

The Spelling List

I have a second grader. She is adorable, hilarious and at times frighteningly reminiscent of blondes on 70's sit coms. Think Suzanne Somers, Loni Anderson, Jan Brady. One loves her, yet one worries.

Did I mention my girl is smart? This helps me cope with the 70's sit com thing, and allows me to sleep at night knowing she will succeed in life. My girl is a spelling savant. We rarely go over spelling lists more than a couple times for her tests and she always does well. I tell you this because tonight, as we were reviewing "Unit 21, Spelling Long e", I read the following out loud: teach (cue high pitched voice coming from bubble bath where she is dousing Littlest Pet Shop animals with my expensive shampoo) t-e-a-c-h! Many m-a-n-y! easy e-a-s-y! eat e-a-t, and....
me m-e!

Double take.

Eat. Me. ?

Yes, friends. Eat Me. Words one and two of the third row of my daughter's neon yellow spelling sheet.

Remember the blonde thing? I told you that for a reason. She totally missed it. I excused myself from the couch and trotted in to the family room to share with those who I am sure would appreciate such an educational gem; my husband and fifteen year old son. They did not disappoint. Isn't it great when you present something and are rewarded with guffaws and snorts? It's the best! One teenage sense of humor and an adult with a teenage sense of humor came through for me. We gleefully pondered if Mrs. A, the teacher, read the list in eat me order out loud to the class, and if second graders giggled into their sleeves? I wish I was a fly on the wall on spelling test Wednesday.

My husband was compelled to take the spelling test to work in order to photocopy it. Eat, Me. Preserved for history in my daughter's childhood memoirs.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Puzzle of Kim

All day long, I take care of people who are often at risk of life changing health problems. Most of them can only blame themselves. Not eating right, ignoring advice from doctors, not taking medicine they need, thinking they can beat the system by not committing fully to treatment, deciding that they/the book they read/the web site they visited know better than the truth staring them in the face. "Manifesting" their way to health. What bullshit. I could give you a thousand examples. By the time they get to us in the ER they are having major pity parties over their poor health/unfixed injury/chronic pain etc. Yet there they are again, weeks or months later, with yet another health problem or flare up of the thing they never took care of last time. And I get really sick of those people. You make decisions. You may decide to eat poorly - that is your decision. When you end up diabetic after being warned it was coming and you could have changed that, I don't feel badly for you. When I tell you that you will not fit on the CT scan table because you weigh more than 450 pounds, I don't feel sorry for you. You chose to put yourself in that position. When you complain about your pain from the condition that you chose not to follow treatment for, I again do not feel sorry for you. When your breathing treatment doesn't work because you reek of cigarette smoke - well, it sucks to be you. Go ahead and say I am a bitch, I really don't care. Try my job (which I do love, BTW) for a couple months and you will see exactly where I am coming from. If you are elderly, injured, sick, indigent, a victim of poor parenting, a child - you have my heart in your hands. I am 100% there for you. I am just not feeling those who choose their own destiny and then whine about it. Bitch about the medical profession all you want, the bottom line is you should be taking care of yourself. We are not your watchdog.

If you have come this far, you will see why I wrote what I wrote.

I realized that this also applies to me. I am my own watchdog. I have no one to blame but me if I don't fit into the gown, onto the stretcher, into the lawn chair. My knees hurt. Because I put too much weight on them. I am at risk for diabetes. Because I don't take my meds regularly and make poor food choices. I am the patient that I abhor caring for. So I began what I call The Puzzle of Kim. It includes little pieces that when properly put together, will make a whole new me. I began at the gym, whenever I could, doing whatever I could withstand. I moved off midnight shift after 22 years of depriving my body of sleep. Now I work 12pm-12am and actually get 7-8 hours a night. It's heavenly! I have learned to say NO to things that don't interest me, or that I don't have passion for. I stopped eating fast food, or food in the middle of the night. I take my pills first thing in the morning. I have lost a fair amount of weight. I still have a long way to go, but I am getting there. And I have the people listed above to thank. They made me re-evaluate myself and practice what I bitch about. I will heal, with no real goal other than healing. Then I can continue to pour my heart into the people who deserve it, and go through the motions with the ones who never learn. I know with the economy and my life choices, I will have to work for many more years, so I need to do it in the best way possible. I have been doing this for about 7 months now - I just went to my new shift last week and I am so pleased with how I feel. The puzzle is coming together. I will keep you posted.