(not the teenage kind)

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Where There's Smoke

My eye doctor works out of two offices, one within walking distance of my house, the other not too far away in Burbank. I saw him on Thursday near my house and he wanted a follow-up appointment for Friday afternoon in his office in Burbank.

This worked out perfectly as I had been invited to have lunch with a group of people in Burbank and lunch and an eye doctor appointment were good diversions from the hell of not being able to read. As I left the lunch and headed for the doctor's office, I noticed a lot of smoke coming off of the hills up ahead. As I got closer, I could see the flames.

I turned on Newsradio just as the announcer said "And now for a special report on the fire in the Cahuenga Pass." I naively took this to mean that there would be a newsperson doing some actual reporting on the news that was the fire but instead they went to a hysterical woman named Maria who was screaming incoherently something like, "OH MY GOD, I never seen anything like this. There is fire. And it is so close and OH MY GOD. I have never seen anything like this. It is red. The fire. And OH MY GOD."

By this time I had pulled into a strip mall as I had time before the doctor and needed to stop at the ATM. There were several people standing outside looking at the fire, taking pictures with their cellphones, and talking on the cellphones. And I realized that one of them could be Maria. And then I realized that from my vantage point I was just as qualified as Maria to call up Newsradio and "report" on the fire and, if I did, I could say things like 'OH MY GOD, I just got my car washed and now it is being covered with ashes from the fire" or "OH MY GOD, I have a damaged cornea and the smoke from this fire is just about killing my eye." In the end, I decided not to unleash my news coverage of the fire on the listening public. I did, however, take this picture with my cell phone.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Eyes of March

So I was innocently sitting in my hotel room in the desert on Tuesday night, watching TV, when it felt like something like an eyelash had fallen into my left eye. I looked, saw nothing, tried to flush my eye but the uncomfortable feeling remained. It was late, I went to sleep, thinking that whatever it was would work itself out by morning.

It was still there in the morning. But I soldiered on....Julie and I went to aerobics class and then to the spa. By this time I decided that what I was having was an allergy attack from the weird weather even though I have never really had an allergy attack before. At the spa, I went into the eucalyptus sauna and the mineral baths thinking this would all be good for my allergy problem. Julie and I went out to breakfast and then I drove home.

It was 2 1/2 hours of discomfort and pain. While driving, I called my eye doctor's office and espoused my theory about the allergies and is it possible to have allergies in one eye? They said that it is, especially with this weird weather, that I should take Claritin and if the pain was still there I could come see the doctor in the morning. They said as long as my vision wasn't effected, it wasn't an emergency.

I got home, took a Clairitin and went to sleep. In the morning, things were worse. I went into the doctor. They did a vision test and I guess I am no judge of vision impairment because I could not see the bottom line with my left eye anymore. It turns out I had scratched my cornea. At first, the doctor could not find anything in my eye to cause the cornea scratch but then he said "Okay, I am going to flip your eyelid over and see if there is anything there." I said, "I wish you hadn't told me that." He said, "Oh, wait, look, there is a foreign object in there." He pulled it out and showed me - it was a little black thing, the size of a poppy seed, if that. One little poppy seed sized thingy, causing all that pain and trauma. He gave me two different kinds of eye medication to use every couple of hours and told me to go home and lie down. I have to go see him again today. I guess he is taking this seriously.

All I will say is that not being able to read is my idea of Hell, always has been, but on the positive side I am now the most well rested person in all of the world as I went to sleep yesterday afternoon and did not wake up until 7:00 this morning. There really was nothing else I could do.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Spring Break

So I thought I would get away for a little fun in the sun, my semi-annual trip to the desert, but those are not even raindrops you are seeing in this picture. Julie and I took a field trip up to the high desert and as we walked into our first shop, snow started falling. We ducked into one of my favorite coffee houses, Water Canyon Coffee, and sat upstairs, watched the snow, had some soup and coffee. I have seen falling snow exactly three times in my whole life and two of those times were this year. I do believe this is proof that the globe is warming. Or that I am doing a lot more traveling in the winter.

The snow stopped and we decided to continue to go up the mountain to Pioneer Town. Julie pointed to the outdoor temperature gauge in her car and told me to let her know if it got to 32 degrees because, if so, we would turn back immediately before everything would turn to ice and she did not feel like slipping and sliding down the road. I watched the temperature drop from 41 to 35 but we did not need to turn back. And I am so glad we didn't. I had never been to Pioneer Town before. There was a fire there last year (or was it the year before?) and the snow on the burnt out trees with the stunning rock formations was worth the risk of getting caught in a snowstorm.

On the way here I stopped again at the Morongo Casino and proceeded to lose $20. There is a casino across the street from my hotel and this morning on my walk I stopped in. I accidentally sat down at a $1 video poker machine rather than my usual 25 cent machine. I immediately won $60. It proves what I know to be true but am always too chicken to put into practice - you can only win big if you bet big.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Uncomplicated Grief

I am finally at the point where I can put most of my dad's files in the garage but last night I wanted to have one last look before deciding what should stay in the house, what should be thrown away, what stored. It wasn't a particularly easy day to begin with. It was my niece and nephew's one year birthday party and of course there were several mentions of my dad. My Uncle pointed out that it was the first time he had walked into my sister's house without seeing my dad in his scooter parked in the family room. My sister's mother-in-law said she really believed that his spirit was there watching. And don dokken gave a gift of magnetic yiddish phrases to the mother of the birthday kids and everyone agreed that no one would have loved those more than my dad. Also, for some reason, I woke up that morning and got myself furious all over again with the people who had transporated the flowers from my dad's grave to his house on the day of the funeral against our wishes.

In going through the files, I found the notebook that the hospice kept that for some reason we were told not to destroy for two years. I had never read the pages written by the hospice people on the day before and the day of his death. The nurse who was with us when he died wrote that he died peacefully with his family unit with him including me, his next of kin. She wrote that the family expressed "uncomplicated grief." I did not know what that meant but I thought it made us sound so....simple?

So of course I googled "uncomplicated grief" and learned that uncomplicated grief is actually "normal" grief and that us expressing "uncomplicated grief" meant this:

The first phase is one of shock. This phase begins immediately after a loss and it generally lasts two weeks or less. During this period the survivor is often in a state of numbed disbelief. Somatic symptoms include crying, dysphagia, chest tightness, nausea, and a sensation of abdominal emptiness. Individuals may feel lost, dazed, stunned, helpless, and disorganized.
Evidence from the files going out to the garage show that the "helpless and disorganized" part is not true. Looking back, I can not believe the business I took care of on the day that he died. I won't paste in the next two phases of uncomplicated grief but I will say that we are still uncomplicated in our grieving and right on track and that my anger at the flower people is all part of the Phase 2 process. I am so glad I found this as both my doctor and the pamphlet from my health insurance provider led me to believe that all this nonsense should have been over with at the six month point on March 8th.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Killjoy Me

I had a visit with my CASA kid today. We were sitting outside, it was kind of chilly, so she suggested we go to the cafeteria. She said there was a new machine there and you could get hot chocolate. Except it cost 25 cents. I told her I thought I could spring for that. We got there and it was a machine that dispenses fancy coffee and hot chocolate and it was not 25 cents, it was 50 cents, but I bought it for her anyway along with a Chai for myself which was so sweet that I had to throw it away.

We went back outside with our hot drinks and after a short while she told me that the doctor had told her that she needs to exercise and lose some weight and he had suggested that she walk around their campus twice a day. So we went for a walk and I soon realized that this was not really about following the doctor's advice but was all about showing off her hot chocolate. I realized this because walking around the path was definitely the place to see and be seen and every time we passed someone she would say, "Hey. Have you tried the hot chocolate from the new machine? See, I have one right here. My CASA bought it for me. It cost 50 cents." We ended up walking around the campus three times instead of the prescribed two so she could share the joy with as many people as possible. And not one of them had tried the hot chocolate from the new machine but everyone agreed that it looked really good.

I could not, however, stop myself from telling her at the end of the visit that, if she was really serious about losing weight, hot chocolate was not the best choice of beverages. She looked shocked and really puzzled and I think that until that moment she truly believed that hot chocolate had the same nutritional value as spinach. However something must have clicked because after thinking for a moment the puzzled look disappeared and she started listing all the kids who live there who are diabetic.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Rudy Update

I know Rudy looks all dejected and sad in this picture as opposed to the picture in the previous post where he is at least much more alert. Well, I think he is getting kind of depressed. You see, he has developed a "seroma" which happens a lot after surgery especially to active dogs. It is basically the surgical site filling up with fluid. I took him to the ER the other night and they drained it but the next day it started filling up again. Look, here's a picture:

Nasty, huh? I took Rudy to see his wacky vet today who said there is nothing to do. There's no point in draining it again. He also gave me the news that we will be postponing the removal of the stitches for another couple of days. That news, coupled with the just as distressing rumors that Veronica Mars is going to be cancelled, is really making for sad times at our house.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Rudy Conehead Aviator Braveheart

Rudy had surgery to remove a "large mass" near his ribcage last week. Actually, he had more than that. They also cleaned his teeth, did some sort of gum procedure, did an ultrasound and a urinanalysis. And he wasn't even under general anesthetic, just sedated and the paperwork said something about "morphine."

A new (to us) vet performed the surgery. Rudy had the same vet since two days after I got him and, I won't go into too much detail, but basically she stopped being a good communicator. And also the last time we went in there was undigested dog food vomit behind the reception desk. When I pointed it out to the people that work there, they said the vomit was from the vet's dog that he vomited up his food and then ate the vomited food. "That's just what he does," the receptionist said. Which is fine, I guess, but it seems a little uncouth to just let your dog vomit at your workplace.

The new vet is a bit of a drive but came highly, highly recommended. His associate had done the initial consultation so when we went in for the surgery, the vet was meeting him for the first time. I felt like I was on an episode of Grey's Anatomy as the technician introduced the doctor to Rudy, "This is Rudy. He is here today for a mass removal and a teeth cleaning. There is also a possible issue of crystals." The doctor looked at Rudy and said, "Hello, Howard Hughes." He then checked him out and took him away saying, "Don't worry, we'll move him into the 21st century." I thought he was a bit eccentric but in a good way.

I did not understand the Howard Hughes reference until I picked him up and then I was mortified. It was Rudy's long nails which they had trimmed in a way that Rudy's nails have never been trimmed before. They were short, neat, and perfect. Rudy was loopy for the first few days after the surgery but he adjusted well to his conehead. For some reason it calms him down. Without it on, he paces. Since he can't see anything with it on, he usually just curls up and goes to sleep.

We went for a one week follow up yesterday. And here's where I have to brag about Rudy's apparent genius. The two other times we were there when they called his name they immediately took him to the scale to be weighed. So this time when they came to take him he walked right to the scale and sat down. They said that he is a very smart boy. His gums look great but the surgery site is swollen. The doctor is not worried, though. I said (and I do not know why) "Well, he seems great. He just seems very happy." And the doctor said, "Well, he's very, very brave. Far braver than I could ever be." I am not sure how to take that especially since I was just making toast and Rudy bolted out of the kitchen in fear when the toast popped.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Side 'Do

Many years ago I was working for a company that had casual Fridays and one casual Friday I was unexpectedly called into a meeting with the CFO. I was ranting and raving to the guy who had been called to go with me (he was a dweeb then but is now a big mucky muck who I sometimes read about in the business section of the paper) about how I would have dressed differently if I knew this meeting was going to be happening. The dweeb/future mucky muck was quite amused. As much as I tried to explain the difference between just seeing someone and having to be taken seriouly in a meeting, he could not understand what the difference would have been if I had just run into the CFO in the hall. Bottom line, he said, I shouldn't have dressed in a way I did not want to be seen. Period. And I do know it is true that some people put on full make-up and get all decked out just to go to the market but that clearly is not me.

Last weekend I was reading Crazy Aunt Purl and she mentioned the "side ponytail" in her post. I hadn't thought about side ponytails in a long time and for some reason thought it would be "fun" to put my hair up into one. Because I can. So I did and then I went out for my walk.

I was heading back home when I realized that someone was running after me and calling my name. I did not hear him initially because I was rocking out to Tom Jones singing "What's New Pussycat?" on my iPod. It was a client. We started chatting about weighty matters like PC versus Mac and whether one of his employees was a good manager when I caught sight of my shadow and remembered that my hair was in a side ponytail. OMG, I was talking to a big client with my hair in a side ponytail. Mortified. The only saving grace was that the rest of me actually looked okay.

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