Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Little Rest But Not Much Recreation

I came home from Connecticut last Tuesday after 9 days of dealing with the Father issues. The immediate crisis has passed but the question of just how long he will last and whether the system of support we've set up in Connecticut will suffice. One of the problems is that it is virtually impossible for us to organize a system whereby one of the brothers (who all live out of state) can be with Dad all the time. We've floated an idea of getting him to one of our houses - an expensive proposition but but potentially much better for giving him loving attention.

On the home front as fate would have it, Wife had a trip to visit one of the girls scheduled for Wednesday through Sunday evening. As I am on my way back to Connecticut (this being Sunday), that meant I got a whole 26 hours with her before she left. I should be home next Thursday barring any new crises.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rough Day

On Friday we were able to get my Dad home from the hospital. But it was a tough day all around. Any of you who have dealt with the medical system understand how difficult it can be to get all the pieces to work together so you can actually get out. In our case we had to have the 24 hour in home health aide hired and in place. That in turn required a doctor's certification to provide legal cover to the home healthcare company. And we needed to pass him on to hospice care - a separate organization. That required a doctor to take him under his care. However is primary care physician wasn't authorized to work at the hospital he was at plus he had been out of the office for a number of days.

Late in the morning, the pieces all finally came together and then (as I've seen a number of times before) the system seems to click into place and go into high gear because they ambulanced him home exactly when they said with the hospice evaluation taking place very shortly after he arrived.

But that's not what made it tough. What made it tough was earlier in the morning my Father asking me to stay longer. I was scheduled to come home Saturday with my other brother from Hawaii arriving Saturday morning. My Dad didn't feel that was enough time to do all we needed to to handle the contingencies going forward. But what made it tough was my emotional reaction because my Father has never made a request of me in his life. Even in a number of other highly stressful situations in recent years like Mother's death and the fire at his house, he never asked for help. In fact it was more like you had to shove assistance down his throat. So the mere act of asking was this pronouncement of his end in my eyes. And I was pretty much an emotional wreck for the rest of the day.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Working Through It

My older brother and I arrived in Connecticut Sunday late and drove to the hospital where Dad was still in the emergency room. We were there until around midnight when they (the hospital doctors) decided that he had enough going on combined with his weakness to admit him to the hospital. We drove to Dad's house and collapsed.

Next morning was the usual frustration in the hospital as we waited around until some sort of focus could develop on what tests to run toward the end of potentially finding out what. By the afternoon however, a series of tests were scheduled and run. The only negative to these was that my Father was totally beat up and worn out by them all so he looked and felt terrible.

Tuesday was better and worse. Better in that without anymore testing procedures Dad was resting and looking better, but worse in that the doctors were honing in on a diagnosis and unfortunately it was lung cancer. We went through discussions as to whether it made sense to have another procedure that would allow a biopsy. Dad was very firm that if it was cancer he was going to do no chemo or radiation put just wanted to go out as peacefully and painlessly as possible, meaning going into a hospice program. But we thought without the biopsy data that hospice would not be prescribed.

On Wednesday, we found that the doctors felt they had enough information to put him in hospice without the harsh biopsy procedure. That led to a frantic search on the part of my brother and I to research his options - going into a nursing home or having 24/7 care in home. It was really clear the later was going to give him a better quality of end of life. Through Wed and today more running around to get all the pieces together that will allow for this to happen - various MD sigh offs, contracting with this agency for home health care and that agency for hospice services, starting a claim against his long-term care insurance. And there were financial things to do in terms of getting powers of attorney so my brothers and I can act on his behalf.

Everything is supposed to be in order for him to leave the hospital and come home tomorrow. But from my own experience, I know that isn't going to go smoothly - it never does.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Stopped Before I Started

So Saturday morning I was already to head out to the hills for my first full day of hiking since the "Malaise". I've got my gear packed. I'm almost out the door. When wife staggers into the kitchen looking not well at all. She's picked up some kind of injury from water aerobics that evidently tightened up over night (something we found out afterwards after seeing the doctor) and she is in excruciating pain. Wife is a tough lady, so for her to screaming out in pain just trying to lift a glass of water is not to be taken lightly.

We spent most of the morning icing her area of pain and me helping her drink, eat and move. We surmised that it was a pinched nerve and she was showing some improvement. She decided to call her medical group and fortunately the muscular/skeletal injuries person was on duty. He told us it was in fact a muscle/soft tissue injury and gave her a bunch of muscle relaxants and pain killers.

So I figure I can go on something this morning, Sunday. I've got my gear packed. I'm dressed and ready to go when I make normal Sunday phone call to my Father. He tells me he's in bad shape and that he needs help. He NEVER asks for help. This precipitates calls to my brothers back and forth and the decision that I need to get out there. I was lucky to catch a flight and I'm now in Chicago changing planes on my was to CT.

To be continued.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Internet Unveiled!

Every wonder how your web browser and email system actually know how to find things and move things about? Ever wonder why certain things don't work? Ever feel like the Internet business is some big Loony Tunes cartoon?

A blogger, Mike of "Bloggin It" is a IT dude who put a post out a few days that explains this better than anything I've seen. I recommend going to his post and checking it out. I also strongly advise you have a beer with you when you do this (you will find out why when you get to the post.)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Inventing A New Cooking Technique

Well, I doubt if it is really new. I'm sure it's out there somewhere. But as far as my personal experience and research are concerned, it's new. I'd quote a bunch of anthropological stuff just to drive Joe nuts now but I'm too tired to look it up.

OK - so I've had this problem...not problem really...more of a challenge. I'm still on the under 300 calorie for dinner regime because Wife still has a ways to go on her weight loss desires. (Thank you two month long illness for pushing me through the barrier to my goal and some how changing my metabolism so I'm staying there in spite of the holidays and everything. By the way Wife says if I really loved her I would have gotten her sick so she could have lost weight too. But for crying out loud, I kiss her, cook her meals, breath on her. What more could I do?). Trying to come up with innovative flavorings to keep variety in the meals is an on-going challenge.

I've wanted for sometime to come up with a way to create a cream type flavoring/sauce but have been stymied because of the calories involved. This week I came up with the methodology.

I started with a cup of 2% milk, 130 calories. I added some stock to that, in this case fish stock because I was preparing shrimp as my protein. Then I added my flavorings to the combination. In this case I did an Indian spice blend and a couple of tomatoes. I let that simmer for 15-20 minutes while I partially steamed the vegetables (broccoli and corn) in this case and let the shrimp marinate in a dry rub. Then I strained the flavorings out of the milk-stock mixture. I added some corn starch to thicken. I finished the veggies in the sauce and added the shrimp at the last two minutes.

It came out very, very good and had that creaminess I was looking for. The caloric amount of the milk was about a wash for the usual 1 tablespoon/100 calories of fat I use in most of my other preparations. I'm excited on trying this technique with some of my other flavor profiles as well.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Getting Back In Shape

After the two months of illness immediately followed by the two weeks of family visit and wine inventory reduction, I got completely out of shape.

As soon as I put the last kid on the last plane, I started a series of walks and small hikes to build myself back up. At my age this is a royal in really painful. But I've been through it before and I have a system. The first few walks are not that bad. Then I start doing the local hike to the Meadow that is not too long but is a steep climb. The first one of those I really was gasping for air and my heart was racing a mile a minute.

Last weekend Gaius Derf and I went on the first, lower portion of the La Luz trail, a nice 4.6 mile hike with a gradual ascent but at higher altitude. I am happy to report that I had no breathing or cardiovascular problems at all. Legs were sore.

This coming weekend will be the first 'regular' hike, my six mile South Crest Trail go to hike. I'm really looking forward to it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Annual Sighting

The picture you see below is a rare occurrence. It is a picture of the top of my desk. Many would say that I am pretty anally persnickety person. And that may be true. But it has never applied to my workspace organization. Typically my desk is a series of piles - large diameter piles on the outside with many smaller diameter piles as you get closer to where the computer goes.

Fortunately, I took an archeology class why back when with a field lab so I learned how to grid off areas and go through strata to get to certain time periods. Because that is the way I usually end up having to find things. But once a year at the New Year, I go through everything on the desk, throw tons out and start all over.

However if you look carefully you will see that I've left my little starter piles to build upon. No sense have to do everything from scratch!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Book Bonanza!

I love to read. I love reading history. This week a location of regional bookstore chain, Hastings, that is just blocks from our house is being closed by the chain. So there's a big sale. Wife was in there on Monday and got four books for $13! So we decided to go in see what we could find.

As Mrs. de-I said, "You're fortunate that your tastes are so esoteric. There will probably be lots still available for you." And there was. I bought around 10 books. There were three books I had wanted from a favorite author, Bill Bryson (not history - and he's fairly popular). And the second to latest Terry Pratchett, Disc World book that I have read. I was surprised they were still around. But the things I was happiest about were the history books. Among them I got this one.

A complete history of British-Napoleonic Wars from 1789 to 1815.
I took the picture from an angle so you could get an idea of the size of this baby.
And there was this mega volume, one of the definitive histories of the American Revolution.

We also got a guide book for our trip this year to Spain and a map. But best of all, tops of all was this:

A Biography of Charles the Second of England and a history of the Restoration Period of the late 17th Century.

Can you imagine the arcane analogy material I'm going to get from this! I bet there's enough in here to drive Lakeview Coffee Joe nuts for a year.

I can't wait to start reading it.