Friday, June 30, 2006

Second entry: This is the last day of June and June is Torture Awareness Month. I have registered with Bloggers Against Torture and have committed to its support by adding a comment on the subject on my blog. Here it is:
I was at the Tower of London a few weeks ago. This place existed through centuries and has a varied history, some glorious, some infamous. The latter includes the fact that official, state-sanctioned torture took place here. There is plenty of information for visitors about what offenses were believed to warrant torture, what forms of torture were permitted, and what results were expected. The people who lived then accepted the idea of torture as right and natural in order to elicit confessions, name conspirators, and punish wrong-doers. They believed that the torture of enemies ultimately kept their country safe. I hope the citizens of the United States of America never accept torture as a legitimate tool of the government, but I'm afraid many already do. How could so many be complacent about this horror? How can we explain to our children? We must take a strong stand against the use of torture by any country, any government, for any reason, at any time. You can learn more and you can help human decency prevail by visiting this link:
http://www.tortureawareness.org/
Okay, things are looking up--rather, my outlook is. I was able to get a bunch of errands done yesterday afternoon and today, will take more linens to the thrift store. One by one, I'm cleaning out closets, and boy, does that give me a lift. There's nothing like getting rid of junk to improve your attitude. Also, the cleaning service was just here and the house looks good, plus I got yet another letter to the V.A. written and ready to go. I'm constantly wrangling with them over paying doctor and hospital bills and we've been warring back and forth since all Pat's troubles started accelerating last year. When I deal with agencies and organizations, my mantra is "Kick and scream and hang on until you're dead and for three days after that." Works most of the time.
Pat doing all right, all things considered, and we're following our usual routine. I had chicken, gravy, and veggies in the crockpot last night and it turned out pretty good. Not sure what I'll serve tonight.
Looking forward to Joely's fourth birthday party tomorrow, and have invited Alison and Mike down for the 4th of July. Talked to sister Betty on the phone just now and we filled each other in on the new arrivals and other family news.
If you're a relative--or even if you're not--check out "Uncle Frank's Farm," the other blog I have listed here. I don't write it, I just record what my uncle wrote--explanation on the blog.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

As it turned out, I never got out of the house to run my errands yesterday. Pat went back to bed after breakfast and slept until I woke him about 11. He then got a shower, dressed, took his sugar, used the nebulizer, and had lunch and by the time he got into his chair in the living room, it was two-thirty. Ray stopped over--we always enjoy seeing him--then I went next door to give Frank and Barbara some packages left at their door while they were away. After that, it was time to start dinner and the day was effectively away from me. Brother Bill called and F. and B. came over after dinner for a pleasant visit.
Today, the visiting nurse comes between 10 and 11, then it will be time for lunch again, so I won't get an early start if I'm able to get out at all. Tomorrow the cleaners are supposed to be here and Saturday is Joely's fourth birthday party. I won't have to leave for that until about two, but I just hate trying to get errands run on weekends, as stores and so on are always so busy; anyway, some of the places I need to go to aren't even open. I want to have the prescription filled for my glasses, plus get a multitude of other chores out of the way.
It seems incredible that such a short time ago, I was able to come and go as I pleased without a thought. What a luxury.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Second post: Darned if the V.A. doctor didn't call about noon to say Pat's blood test indicates he needs to see a hemotologist. I think he's anemic. Already got an appointment with the cardiologist for July. He could go to the V.A. for the blood stuff, but we'd rather, of course, see a doctor down here. He probably should also see an opthomologist soon; there's just no end to the medical stuff.
We spent 2 1/2 hours at the pulmonologist's yesterday. We like him and his staff--especially his nurse practioner, Anne--a lot. Dr. J. adjusted some of Pat's medications, added others, and told us to get him an appointment with a cardiologist; I'll call today. He gave him some strong talk about his diet, too, and I'll try to get him to eat more healthily. We have another appointment in a month.
Last evening, neighbor Susan brought over her adorable six-month-old granddaughter, Sophia, to introduce to us. I got to hold her--what a cutie.
I have lots of errands to run today, plus phone calls to make, bills to pay, and so on. Will try to get my glasses prescription filled, too.
Hmm...when I'm reduced to writing stuff like that, it suggests I lead a pretty dull life, doesn't it? But no--here's exciting news: I'll serve the flounder tonight, as we got home too late yesterday! I've already breaded it and it's all set to pop in the oven! Enthralling, right?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I keep forgetting this is supposed to be a food and weight blog, although it's morphed into something else (what?) Okay, we had pork roll sandwiches for dinner last night and my weight is out of control. Those are both dismal reports, so on to the next subject:
Went to Pat's primary at Fort Dix yesterday. He didn't have much to offer; he seemed relieved when we told him we have an appointment with the pulmonologist today. I hope the pulmonologist has something to suggest to make the effects of the disease easier.
Incidentally--or, in our case, vitally--Pat is covered under the V.A. so-called health system, as he has been for years, but he now also has what they call "community providers." That means he can go to doctors unconnected with the V.A., but to receive his medications at minimal cost, he must have the V.A. docs oversee everything. This became a possibility since we picked up AARP supplemental a few months ago. For a cost of $2160 a year, it covers the hospital, doctor, and rehab costs Medicare doesn't. Considering the $2200 I pay for my insurance, plus what we pay for Medicare B, plus the cost of driving to Philly and Fort Dix, plus what the V.A. does charge for the meds, plus incidentals, I figure we spend roughly $8000 a year on health needs. Is this more than most, less, or average? I have no idea. I know a lot of people in our community are covered by health plans from their former jobs who pay NOTHING for the insurance and owe NOTHING for doctors, hospitals, and prescriptions they need. However, I also know there are plenty of people who must pay a very large proportion of their income for medical care--or who simply don't get medical care. I spend an incredible amount of time making phone calls, writing, and arguing with the various agencies and organizations involved in Pat's care. Can't imagine what people do who don't have as much time.
Oh, the hell with it, let's get back to food. In my defense for serving the pork roll last night, I cooked chicken, baked potatoes, and peas the night before and usually have reasonably healthy (and more elaborate) dinners. Tonight, I gotta look in the freezer to see what we have or--more likely--I'll pick up some good fish, flounder for Pat, salmon for me. Can't get healthier than that, now can you?
Later: The visiting nurse was just here. She gave us a sheet on what Pat should eat as a diabetic. It's funny, downright funny, since there's a lot listed he won't even consider. The things he will eat lists portions are about one-eighth his usual serving. I just try to hold the line reasonably well--for both of us.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Darling daughter Alison came down this afternoon to help me do a few things. She tied up all the mountains of old newspapers so they could be put at the curb, started and drove Pat's car, swept the garage, cleaned out the dryer filter, and replaced the overhead light in the garage. She also helped me with putting things on the shelf in the guest room and stayed with her Dad while I took the king-sized quilt to the laudromat to wash and dry.
Other darling daughter Ellen called and spoke to Alison, Dad, and me. Tomorrow, she starts one of the professional classes she needs for additional teacher credentials.
Pat about the same. He asked that his car stay in the driveway, as he says he wants to drive it somewhere tomorrow or the next day. I hope he can.
Blog news: I started a blog called "Uncle Frank's Farm," and will add a section of my uncle's memoirs periodically. Of course, he wouldn't have been so grandiose as to call them "memoirs." He was a plain, soft-spoken Pennsylvania farmer who lived a low-key life. Reading about what he remembered gives a wonderful glimpse into life in the long ago. Check it out at:
http://uncle-franks-farm.blogspot.com (or you can just look on this blog under "complete profile.") If you can't get it, leave me a comment and I'll e-mail you the link.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

We got a terrific anniversary gift from Singapore son, Mike: Four beautiful filet mignons from Omaha Steaks. They come frozen in a foam container with dry ice and are about 5 oz. each. We don't have a grill, so we told friends Ray and Barbara we'd like to share with them if they'll cook them, then come over for dinner.
Pat's health about the same. Even slight exertion, such as putting on his tee-shirt, leaves him breathless for several minutes. Rose, the visiting nurse, was here yesterday. She's a good person, and very conscientious, but aside from taking his vital signs, recommending some minor comforts, and encouraging him to move around more, there isn't much she can do.
We went to the endocrinologist Thursday and he adjusted Pat's insulin dosages. I hope this improves his blood sugar levels. Monday, we see his primary physician and Tuesday, the pulmonologist. I have an 9:30 eye doctor appointment myself this morning. Must get Pat up by 8:00 and complete all the early chores before I go. Alison offered to come down for respite care either today or tomorrow, so I can go somewhere, and I asked her to come tomorrow. If it rains as it's supposed to, I may ask her to just help me with various chores I can't do myself.
Went to Manahawkin yesterday to return the shoes and slippers I had bought Pat; got a new pair I hope he can wear. His feet are often swollen because of the edema and his shoes are hard to get on.
I was delighted that also yesterday, I was able to finally clear out my crammed closet in our room. Put winter clothes in my huge suitcase, and will store it in the guest room closet, which I also started cleaning out. Took lots of stuff to the thrift store and feel virtuous as hell in getting around--finally--to going through the things that have been "stored away" since we moved here. Now to tackle the study closet and desk--ugh!
Got a nice message from Cincinnati cousin, Marifran, who has a refurbished web site--very interesting and attractive. Take a look at www.SoulfulSolutions.com.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Alison, Pat, and I got to Creevey's for dinner last night (Mike had another commitment). I was a little shocked at the prices. I've had lunch there often and we've been there for dinner several times, but those times were for the Early Bird specials (we're old fogies). I also had Pat's birthday party there, and that was pretty reasonable. This wasn't, at all. We had a fifty-dollar gift certificate, and Alison still had to put in a lot more. Our entrees were $24 each, and I had wine, Pat dessert, but still, I thought it was a lot.
Pat was okay and seemed to enjoy himself moderately well. However, he was exhausted when he got home, just from walking from the driveway to the door. We go to his endocrinolgist today, and I'm a little worried about whether they have steps. I'll call them to see if they have a wheelchair available.
Well, it's a food blog, as I keep forgetting, so I'll add what we ate. I had lobster tails, which I haven't had for ages, and they (3 of them) were delicious. Alison had a broiled seafood platter, and Pat had filet mignon. All main dishes were very good, we agreed, although the salad was so-so, and the cheesecake much too heavy, I thought (Pat shared his).
More of the enthralling goings-on in Little Egg Harbor tomorrow! (Wake up there, reader, wake up...)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Second entry for June 21: Today, dear niece Carolyn welcomed a baby girl named Claire (or Clare or Clair), so twin sister Betty now has a little granddaughter! Love and good wishes to all!
Forty-eight years ago today, Pat and I stood at the altar of St. James Church in Ventnor, NJ, and became man and wife. We were young, thin, and eager to start our new life together.
A year and a week later, we had our son, Hugh P., Jr., two years after that Alison Anne, two years later, Ellen, after that a child I lost at term, then Michael Terence. At that point, I started "artificial birth control."
When Alison was 4 months old, we bought a house on Lower Ferry Road in Ewing Township, NJ, and lived there for the next 41 years.
This happened and that happened and the other thing happened--lots wonderful, some not-so-wonderful, some bad.
Of course, all this is boring and meaningless to the general reader--if you live long enough, you have a variety of experiences. I'm not going into depth or detail; too much to say and too great a probability that what's said will be misinterpreted, so I'm just setting down facts.
Now, I guess, Pat and I are both relegated to the "elderly" box. I don't feel old, but I'm always amazed when I suddenly see myself in a mirror--I look my age. I don't think I act it and I don't think my belief patterns are old, although I could be kidding myself.
The thing I regret most is smoking. We both smoked. A lot. Pat is reaping the dreadful consequences now.
Alison and Mike are coming after work and the four of us are going to Creevey's for dinner--Pat's first outing since he left the hospital this last time. He said he wants to do it and he'll will enjoy it, I hope.
I know I will, just as I've enjoyed these last 48 years. Looking forward to more? Absolutely--I hope we both make it to our 50th.
It's all good.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Visiting nurse was here today. I'm glad she emphasized the importance of Pat getting on his feet at least every hour, and also of keeping his legs elevated, which I had forgotten about. (His edema has increased somewhat.)
Pat thinks he's a little better, although if so, it seems a very marginal difference to me. He has an appointment with his primary physician (the one we can't stand) at the V.A. on Monday, the pulmonologist (the one we both love) on Tuesday, and we're awaiting a call back from the endocrinologist for an appointment there.
Nothing much else going on at this end of the world. Wonder the queen is doing...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Had a quiet, but nice, Father's Day. Joel, Jen, and Joely came down for lunch and Jen and I then took little J. to two parks. Alison called; she and Mike were tied up for ages in traffic, so didn't get down. We hope to see them on Wednesday, our 48th anniversary (and my little great-niece's BIRTH day). Darling daughter Ellen called to say "Happy Father's Day," as did Patrick, and, of course, Alison; Mike called last night.
Friends Dennis and Leslie are coming over for a short visit in a few minutes. We look forward to seeing them.
Incredibly, we think there's a possibility that Pat has Lyme Disease. He has a kind of "bulls-eye" on his upper arm; we're going to the doctor tomorrow to see. That's all we need...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Well, I'm back from England and it was wonderful! In London, son Mike got me a nice apartment just under his and his family's, a half-block from Harrod's and not far from all the great attractions. Went to Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Dickens' house, the Globe theatre, and lots of the other obligatory tourist locations. On Saturday, greatly enjoyed going to Paula's boarding school (the purpose of the trip was her reunion), about 30 miles from London, a lovely place with some old buildings (I'm talking the 1000's), and some tasteful new. We then enjoyed a ride down the Thames--there, in Eckham, Surrey, near Paula's alma mater, it's just a little, slow-moving stream--in a flat-bottomed boat. (Took a Thames sight-seeing boat in London, too, where the river is much wider and more robust--and dirtier.) Later on Saturday, we toured nearby Windsor Castle, then I went back to London and Mike and Paula went to the dinner dance at the school.
One day, Mike, Vickie (the Nanny) and I went to Hampton Court while Paula cared for almost-two-year-old Vivian--that was one of my favorite places. It's just incredible--1800 rooms and there are still a few "grace and favour" residents there.
After the city, we went to the Four Seasons in Hampshire, a fabulous place set in rolling hills in the countryside and with every possible amenity. Stonehenge is less than an hour away, and we went there, too--very strange and impressive.
The weather was great: sunny and very warm most days, with just one of clouds and showers.
The food? Most of it was very good. Starbucks is right down the street from the apartments and we got coffee there every morning. It seemed odd that they put out only milk--skim and regular--rather than cream, but I understand the English don't usually use it in their coffee. I also had to ask for it in a restaurant we went to. The coffee was okay, but I thought it was a little more bitter than American-style. We had fish and chips (French fries to us) twice and enjoyed them; you have to ask for catsup for the chips; the Brits put vinegar on them.
The food at the Four Seasons was superb. I had duck for dinner when M., P., and I went to their excellent restaurant; Vickie and Vivian getting room service. Breakfast the next morning was also great, as was lunch at the smaller restaurant on the premises.
The biggest shocker in England, though, is (are?) the prices. It's expensive in London beyond belief and as for the Four Seasons--well, I had a glass--not a bottle, mind you--of chardonnay that I later found cost 10 pounds--that's $18.48! As Mike paid for my whole trip, though, I drank up happily (ha!).
Got back all right, although when I got to where I was supposed to get the Airporter at Newark (it goes to the Hyatt and Alison was to pick me up at 8:45), I was told it was cancelled, as they couldn't get a driver! Grrr--finally got the next one, Alison picked me up and I fell into bed at her house, exhausted, but thrilled to have gone to the U.K.
Found Pat about the same, with little stamina or ability to do much. Waited until Alison and Mike got home from work yesterday, then we packed up and went home. It was a glorious week and the BEST part was seeing adorable granddaughter, Vivian, a precious child who is very quiet, sedate, and self-effacing--not! She really is darling, so smart and so pretty. However, she has a mind of her--well, the mind of a little fiend, at times, but she's so cute and funny, you have to laugh at her. Of course, it helps a whole lot when she acts out to simply tell the nanny to take her somewhere else. Yes, I recall--and I'm sure my sister, Betty, recalls--when we were caring for our children (we each had 4), we just passed them off to the nanny when we had had enough.
Anyway, only two regrets and they couldn't be helped: I would have loved to be in Jacksonville at brother Larry's big 50th anniversary party on the 10th and in upstate New York today at my great-nephew's wedding, but neither were possible. I'm glad Alison and Mike were able to go to the wedding, anyway.
When we got home about 8 last night, friend Ray helped Pat into the house, then he and Barb invited me to come over for cake and bring Pat a piece, too, which I did.
Travel is wonderful and I hope to enjoy more of it, but yes, Dorothy, yes, there's no place like home.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The big day is tomorrow and we'll transfer to daughter Alison's tonight. There's an incredible amount of stuff that has to go and I hope I can get it all in the car, including Pat's oxygen concentrator, walker, medicines, and clothes, plus my big suitcase full.
Darling son Mike e-mailed with various instructions and admonishments, including "don't overmedicate." Ho, ho, he's a card, but he does get to be just a teensy bit judgmental, moralistic, holier-than-thou...young mothers, this is what happens when they grow up: They become your parents!
Anyways (a folksy bit there), Alison will drive me to Newark at 4:30 am, then it's off to London at 8:20. I'm still torn about going, considering Pat's condition, but our children think I should. Mike's generosity in covering this whole trip, and the constant support--emotional, financial, and otherwise--of all four are proof to me of my incredible good luck through life.
Pat's pulmonologist--one of those doctors you wish all doctors were like--actually called yesterday, out of the blue, to see how he's doing. Mind you, we hadn't called him and Pat's latest hospitalization was for erratic blood sugar, not the COPD, yet Dr. J. cared enough to call. We had a nice chat and confirmed that we'll be on the same plane tomorrow (he's going to a pulmonology conference at Oxford), so I may get a chance to meet him--I've only spoken to him on the phone, but have never actually seen him.
Oh, yes, this is a food blog: I made barbecued country ribs in the crockpot last night and they were good. Dessert was the last of the strawberries Alison had brought to the hospital, adorned with Cool Whip.
Good friend Marge called to tell me to forget what's going on at home and just concentrate on having the best time of my life. Yes! I'm going to do that. It's been a long time since I was on a trip and I know it will be glorious. So looking forward to London, although the very best part will be seeing Mike, Paula, and Precious Angel Vivian.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Pat home after 9 days in the hospital, as of 1:30 today. His blood sugar and insulin seem finally to be regulated and things going all right. Had spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, then Fred and Marge came over. Fred finished setting my computer up to work again, telling me to call Comcast, which I did. They visited for just a while, then Walter and Susan called to ask if I'd like to go to Rita's for a water ice. Yes, indeed, and it was so good. Pat said he'd just have ice cream when I got home, and he did. Three more days to London!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Quick note: Pat's getting out of the hospital today. Have reheasal for our June 2 and 3 (this weekend!) Drama Club show at 1:30, and will pick him up after. Marge and Fred had me over for dinner last night--spaghetti and meatballs from Vespusio's, a restaurant in Tuckerton. I brought some Country Red (wine) and we had a pleasant evening. I was home at 7:30 and just vegged out until bedtime.