Sunday, 16 February 2014

Living in the Hospital - Again!

Yes, I'm here yet again, the wonderful world of St. Clare's. It is not fun although I know most of the staff and I'm on the same floor as always (right by Labor and Delivery - oh, the irony. Fortunately, I don't hear any infants; that would make me crazy. The L&D section is very separate with heavy security - I am at a loss to explain this, I can't imagine why this engenders that kind of tight security, but it's not my problem).

The trip to the ER was just awful. And I have some major complaints about the day crew who brought me in, such as making me walk to the rig, a practice we did not engage in on the volley squads - if a patient said they could not walk - as I had; heck, they did not walk. Ice? Not an excuse. If we did it, they could too. And there were three of them. It is not a stretch to get the patient there by whatever means necessary. I was pissed off about this.

I also was mislabeled a cardiac case; I have a perfectly healthy heart and this is not conjecture on my part: as a patient with muscular dystrophy, there is a 50/50 chance that I could get it in my heart since it is a muscle. But I get an EKG with every annual physical to rule it out. And when I was diagnosed with this condition, I went to a cardiologist who specialises in patients with this. He put me through the whole heart-check process: an EKG, an echocardiogram (which was fascinating) and wearing a heart monitor for twenty-four hours (I wore it on Thursday into Friday, so I was actually on call while wearing it - I figured this was a great time to do it, since calls are usually filled with adrenalin; perfect to see the heart at rest and at work. We had an accident call that night, too). I passed all the tests with flying colours, so it is unlikely I will develop this kind of issue. I think I can face that with complete fortitude.

The new paradigm considering my vomiting - the thing that lands me in the hospital all the time - is the fact that I have tinnitus. This is commonly known as ringing in the ears, a misnomer as it really is not that kind of sound. It sounds like constant, high-pitched "white noise", and when it gets really loud, it cause...a kind of "pulsing, I guess is how I would describe it...that causes me to put my arms out to keep my balance and is excruciatingly painful. Think about this: your balance is housed in between your ears; it stands to reason that tinnitus, which directly affects the ears will directly affect your balance. Have you ever had vertigo or a severe ear infection? Same principle; shorter (hopefully) duration.

AAAHHHHHH. I just got my pain injection via I.V. I don't normally care for the feeling, but the relief from pain it so positive that I can put up with it - hospitals are not known for their comfort: the beds are not anything like my wonderful waterbed.

I miss my babies, Luiseach and Siobhan. My little puisín, I know she misses me, too. Siobhan undoubtedly does, in her own crazy way - she has actually gotten to the point where she will sleep with me on the bed. This from the least affectionate cat I have ever been owned by; but my little puisín (Irish Gaelic for kitten) is very loving and will be attached to me for the next three weeks when I do get out.

Have you seen the "Pusheen" stickers on FaceBook? That is the Anglicised word for kitten in Gaelic. But you know me - I'm a purist. You get it in the real Gaelic, just as Siobhan and Luiseach get their names, not to mention me.

The full Moon is coming. I can't see it from here, not there has been much in the way of a clear night to see it. I miss seeing the Moon, too. And the four-foot icicle outside my bedroom window.

On the other hand, I have seen entirely too much snow. Enough to last a bloody lifetime! We had gotten just over 20" on Thursday; the second time this season (!) we have had totals in one storm. We received another five inches over the weekend, and are slated for eight inches on Monday night into Tuesday. Then more possibly come this weekend. It has gotten old at this point. We received some 40" in the month of January; we are already up to just under that for this month and it is only the 16th. People keep asking when it will stop, but I have seen the rare and freaky snowfall in April; it happens as much as once in a decade, sometimes more, mostly not. This season, however, anything could go. As it stands, most kids will have lost two or three days of their spring vacation; if this keeps up, the little critters'll be in school through August. (Which they should be anyway; in this day and age, most families have two working parents to make ends meet. What do they do in the summer when the kids are out from late June to mid-September? They have to shell out massive amounts of money to put the kids in camp.)

I did not sleep well last night; tonight I hope I sleep like the dead (no easy task in a hospital). It isn't just missing my bed; I miss my husband and cats, my wonderful 60" telly (we are all slaves to our technology, are we not?) and TiVO. But some good news: the technology with my MacBook Air and iPad has reached the point where I can actually watch movies on Quad, our server at home, which is five miles away! Got to love the modern world in some ways.

Does that sound shallow? Maybe, but the hospital is a lonely place, and yesterday, with snow and icy roads, no one could come to visit and I was very painfully lonely. Having movies to watch helps to both to pass the time and to keep me distracted and not thinking about being lonely and in pain.

This is called taking what I can get. I'll take a good distraction anytime. Music, movies, books - I have read On a Pale Horse, With a Tangled Skein, and am now rereading Patriot Games by Tom Clancy (R.I.P.; what a loss to writing he is). I read a lot anyway, but here I can really read fast. Other than interruptions for medication and vitals, I have time on my hands - far more than I do at home, and I have far too much of it there, too. (I really miss my 3,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, too, about half of which is done.)

And so I think it is time to finish this post and FaceTime Ray before watching The Clash of the Titans which I love not only for the acting prowess - who beats Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson? - and the music, by the very brilliant Ramin Djawadi. He did the music for Iron Man I, Person of Interest, and Game of Thrones, to name a few.

Good night.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Grist for the Mill - or in This Case, The Slaughter-house

It is Wife Swap time, meaning we watch episodes (from time to time) of Wife Swap. It's a good show in that it [usually] teaches each family to relax a little and meet things more in the middle, instead of being super-neat or super-sloppy, but just normal. By no means do we run around cleaning every day, which is too much; nor do we never, ever, clean but have the house cleaned top to bottom every two weeks. That is normal.

Well, this week, we have the Haigwood family swapping their wife/mother with the wife/mother of the Hess-Webb family. And what an adventure this is...

The Haigwood family, out in the wilds (well, farm) in Massena, Iowa, do not clean their house at all. No exceptions. Not even soapy water and a sponge. I might understand that chemicals are looked upon as poor, for whatever reason, but something - anything - needs to be used to clean the house once in a while. That is rather disgusting and incredibly unsanitary, but this by far not the worst thing about them. No, the raw meat diet and the stocking up the place so that they might survive 10 years in a rabbit hole are the heavier parts of the weirdness. Even the stocking up, while a bit weird, is livable...the raw chicken, however, is not. As in literally not livable. Uncooked chicken will very possibly kill you! And there are no washing of the hands after using the loo, milking the cows and then handling raw meat, and then there is the brushing teeth with old - yeah, you read that correctly - old, raw butter! Oh, and the kids are home-schooled. I know that non-religiously motived parents home-school kids, but mostly we just hear about the over-the-top religious people doing the home-schooling thing. In this case, this IS the case.

When Kim Hess-Webb asked about doing cleaning with any kind of bleach-based cleanser, he answered that these cleaners kill all the germs. Would God put anything on Earth that would hurt us? (I found myself thinking, "Sure he would. Arsenic, cat's urine, all kinds of things that are inimical to human life. Yes, he would. But he was quite confident, that upon discovering arsenic to be a poison, we would figure out that there are plenty of poisonous items found perfectly in Nature that no one should use.

The Hess-Webb family is so obviously the family from San Francisco, California - for one thing, I am not sure very many families take both parents' last names in Iowa. They are stylish, very well educated, overly cleaning-nuts, but basically okay people. They seem far more normal to me than the Haigwoods do, or ever will. 

The Haigewood's teenage kid, 15-year-old Lee, was a complete nutter, a drama queen, who launched himself off the couch, yelling out, "You ARE KILLING me!" Goodness me, kid, go outside, take a deep breath and for one week, survive eating healthy food - you know, the kind of chicken that won't kill you! The 13-year-old daughter, Aleesha, took all this more in stride. The husband cried like a baby, which was rather shocking. I doubt too many men cry with such abandon.

Anyway, I won't give you any blow-by-blow descriptions of these families dealing with the others. It is more fun to tell you that the wives surely came back with a slightly more balanced than they left their own lives. The Haigwood wife came out of this with a nice dress, her legs shaved, high heels, her hair up and she looked so nice. They also tried to learn Fung Shui, and are going to continue to do those kinds of cleanings. She did teach the Hess-Webbs to plant a small garden in their back yard, so that their kids learn where foods come from.

They did try egg whites raw, but that is okay to eat them raw...chicken? Not a bloody chance!

One could say that the episode ended on a different way than the others do, but not in the way you might expect. In fact, I doubt if anyone saw this coming. I found this article on some online magazine:

'An appearance on ABC's Wife Swap reality series almost found an Iowa couple in hot water for child abuse.

Barb and Mike Haigwood -- a couple who raise organic food with their two teenage children on a farm near Massena, IA  -- sparked Wife Swap viewers to contact the Iowa Department of Human Services after an episode featuring the family aired on Monday, February 19, The Des Moines Register reported Wednesday. 

During the Wife Swap broadcast, the Haigwood children -- 13-year-old Aleesha and 16-year-old Lee -- said they don't go to school and Lee's home schooling includes counting the number of eggs the family's chickens have produced.  Barb, the family's 37-year-old mother, also explained that she "believes in eating every two to three hours" -- a belief that causes her to wake the children for late-night drinkings of a beverage containing kefir, a yogurt-like product.  

Prior to their Wife Swap appearance, Barb had told The Register that family's decision to eat "nothing but raw food, including eggs and meat" was part of their way of dealing with health problems related to Aleesha's attention deficit disorder. 

However The Register reported Iowa state officials do not consider "an unorthodox diet and messy housekeeping" to be child abuse, and added the parents have filed the proper paperwork to home-school their two children.  Iowa Department of Human Services spokesman Roger Munns told The Register his department "logged a number of calls" to its child-abuse hotline after the episode aired, and also received "at least 10 messages emailed to its website" as well as a fax. 

"DHS only investigates child abuse and neglect cases when there is a credible report that, if proven true, would amount to abuse.  None of these reports rise to that threshold," Munns told The Register.  "People who eat unusual food and feed it to their children are not abusive, nor are people whose houses are not tidy." 

Steve Pelzer, superintendent of the Cumberland and Massena school district, said that -- as the law requires --the Haigwoods have filed paperwork "proving competent private schooling."  Pelzer added a licensed teacher from the West Des Moines area "monitors the children's progress."  

Bard told The Register on Tuesday that the family could not comment unless reporters "went through ABC's public relations department."  A spokesman for ABC could not be reached on Tuesday, according to The Register.'
Can I just say for my part, I have problems with parents who are hoarders, slobs in a way that is not healthy for the kids or feeding them raw meat and these offenses should allow Child Services come in, check it out and get those poor children out of there? Yes. How is this good for them? Do you really feel that physical abuse is strictly in the manner of striking children? I think not. I was turning green watching the family eat raw meat; I turned green looking at a bathroom I would not consent to sit on. The children here were brainwashed and it made me sick.

You may want to give this a shot: Haigwood/Hess-Webb, aired 11 December, on Lifetime at 18:00. Watch it for yourself and tell me which family you'd rather be with.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Living in the Old Farmer's Almanac in December 2013

Wow. The end of 2013, beginning of the new year, 2014. Happy Yule! Good luck for the coming year.

Farmer's Calendar

If you are like most gardeners, you probably put your tools away at the end of the growing season and don't think very much about them until they are needed in the spring. But if you take a bit of time during the offseason to maintain and repair your tools, they will be safer and easier to use.

Wooden handles on tools such as shovels and iron rakes may become rough and splintery with weather, use, and age. Often, you can restore them by sanding the surface until it becomes smooth again and then applying linseed oil to protect the wood. Handles with deep are a hazard and should be replaced.

Repair rusted metal tools by cleaning them with steel wool or a wire brush and then wiping on 30-weight motor oil to prevent further rusting.

Chances are, the blades on your prunes, loppers, and hedge shears could use sharpening. USe a fine, flat file to touch them up. Be careful to keep the original angle of the blade's casting edge. While you're at it, sharpen the metal edges of shovels and hoes to make digging easier.

Well-maintained, quality garden tools will last for years and can even be passed down from one generation to the next. Perhaps you can pass down the wisdom of how to take care of them, too.

SKY WATCH ☆ Venus continues to climb higher in the west after sunset as it brightens to magnitude -4.9, its most dazzling display of the year. An easy 25 degrees high, it dangles beneath the crescent Moon on the 5th. The Moon floats above Green Uranus on the 10th is to the left of Taurus' orange star Aldebaran on the 15th. In its fat gibbous phase, the Moon diminishes the normally reliable Geminid meteors on the 13th and stands to the right of Jupiter on the 18th. Jupiter, in Gemini, conveniently rises by 7:00 P.M. and shines at a brilliant magnitude -2.7. The Giant Planet is now a telescopic showpiece in advance of its imminent opposition on January 5. Winter begins with the solstice at 12:11 P.M. on the 21st.


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Thursday, 21 November 2013

How New Jersey Am I? (A New Jersey Meme!)

1. What is your age?
 Under 18 Years Old
 18 to 24 Years Old
 25 to 30 Years Old
 31 to 40 Years Old
 41 to 50 Years Old
 51 to 60 Years Old
 Over 60 Years Old
2. What is your gender?
3. New Jersey is also known as what?
 The Keystone State
 The Garden State
 The Pollution State
 The Empire State
4. How many issues of Weird New Jersey have you read?
 One or two
 Between three and ten
 More than ten
5. Have you ever eaten taylor ham with cheese on a hard roll?
6. Have you ever found yourself at a diner at one o'clock in the morning?
7. In the summer, do you "go down the shore"?
8. Does summer for you begin on Memorial Day weekend and end on Labor Day?
9. Have you been to places featured in HBO's The Sopranos?
10. The PNC Bank Arts Center was once named what?
 Garden State Arts Center
 Madison Square Garden
11. Do you have fond childhood memories of the boardwalk?
12. Who of the following is not from New Jersey?
 Frank Sinatra
 Jon Bon Jovi
 Bruce Springsteen
 Bob Dylan
13. Are you Italian or do you have very Italian friends?
 Yes (very Italian friends!)
14. Do you remember Action Park?
 Yes, and something wasn't quite right about it
15. Do you think that New Jerseyans have a weird accent that results in them pronouncing it "Joyzee"?
 I don't know
16. Do you feel both offended and proud when Hollywood mocks New Jerseyans?
17. Does it bother you that New Jersey sports teams are refered to as New York teams?
18. Can you drive for five minutes without going past a mall?
19. Do you know how to pump your own gas?
20. Do you know which color the Empire State Building is lit up as this week?
21. Do you suspect the neighbor down the street is in the mafia?
22. Do you live within ten minutes of three different highways?
23. Have you ever stopped at a Pennsylvania fireworks stand to get some fireworks?
24. Do you know where to get the best slice of pizza on the boardwalk?
25. Do you enjoy all four seasons?
26. Have you been to Midgetville?
27. Is getting stuck in traffic just a way of life for you?
28. Are all your TV and radio stations based in a neighboring state?
29. Have you "watched the tram car"?
30. Do you know where to get some good bagels, good sushi or good Indian curry?
31. Do you call it "miniature golf" and know a good place to play?
32. Have you gone into New York City by boat, bus, car, and train at some point?
33. Have you gotten out of traffic tickets just by showing up at court and talking to the prosecutor?
34. "You guys" vs. "ya'll" - Which would you say:
 You guys want to see a movie?
 Ya'll want to see a movie?
35. Would you laugh if someone says "pop" instead of "soda"?
36. Did you ever get excited when you caught channel 12 giving a shout out to your town?
 I've actually waited until they got to my town
37. Ever had a fat sandwich from a grease truck?
 No, but I've heard about them
 What the heck is that?

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Friday, 1 November 2013

Living in the Old Farmer's Almanac in November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Farmer's Calendar

After a treacherous voyage and first brutal winter spent along the shore of Cape Cod Bay, the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony had a stroke of good fortune. Members of the Wampanoag Nation offered to teach them how to gather food from the wild and cultivate native crops such as corn. The first harvest, in 1621, proved so successful that Governor William Bradford ordered a feast to celebrate. We now call this the Pilgrim's first Thanksgiving, although they considered it simply a harvest festival. The event, however, was a far cry from today's observance.

The thankful colonists soon joined by their generous Native American friends, took part in a 3-day party that included singing, dancing, musket and bow-and-arrow competitions, and footraces.

Historians can document with certainty only two items on the menu for that day: fowl provided by the Pilgrims and venison provided by the Wampanoag. Seafood such as bass, cod, eels, clams, and mussels may have been on the table, possibly along with game such as harbor seal, waterfowl, rabbit, and grey squirrel. Roots, fruit, and nuts were also common fare of the day. We don't know for sure whether turkey was served, but it somehow become a tradition--and that's another reason to celebrate.

SKY WATCH ☆ The year's only total eclipse, of the Sun, occurs on the 3rd and is visible from the equatorial Atlantic Ocean and west central Africa. Saturn is gone, but Venus starts to show some elevation gain as it noticeably brightens to -4.8. The Moon, dangling before invisible Pluto, stands above Venus on the 6th. The Moon hovers just above Uranus on the 13th, to the lower right of Jupiter on the 21st, and to the right of faint Mars on the 27th. The Orange World is now rising at 1:00 A.M. Mercury, at magnitude -0.7, appears low in the east at about 40 minutes before sunrise, where it closely meets returning planet Saturn, which which shines at a bright magnitude 0.6, on the 25th and 26th.


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