little chickens…

Last week, i took a day off work to haul Mom in to see her magically delicious competent and caring cardiologist, Dr. M*.  She’s looking marvelous, bright of eye, bushy of tail. She’s in great spirits, with blush in her cheeks and spring in her step. 

Mom is doing well, too, considering it’s been two months since her bypass surgery.

After an echo-cardiogram to assess heart function, we reviewed the results with doc, and she declared Mom healthy and on the road to a bright tomorrow!  Still a bit weak, but as long as Mom keeps up the daily walks, stays away from the smokes and continues to take care of herself, the doc will consider the bypass a complete success.

Mom was relieved – mostly that her heart isn’t going to fall out of her chest into her bacon and eggs** – and we left to run a few errands while i was in The Park.  Off to the pharmacy, grocery store with a final stop at the bank. 

Mom was insistent on meeting with the bank manager to verify that all of her deposits were fully insured to protect her from the looming catastrophic banking crisis that is perhaps only hours away.  Trying to calm her down, i reminded her that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) covers all assets up to $100,000 – even more depending on how the accounts are structured.  i also pointed out that much of the hype about this was purely alarmist media horseshit, designed to jack up television viewership.

Mom was having none of this, so we patiently waited for the next available bank manager.  After about 15 minutes, a manager appeared, escorting an elderly gentleman from her cubicle.  As we settled in, she patiently waited for Mom to explain the purpose of our visit.  The manager was reassuring as she walked Mom through the levels of safety employed by the institution.

As i sat there, lulled to sleep by the warm and comforting tones of the manager, i noticed another manager escorting an elderly woman from the adjacent cube.  And then collecting another senior citizen from the waiting area in the lobby.  Our manager prepared a detailed report on Mom’s account structures, and used the FDIC website to capture a snapshot of fiscal security.

And in the lobby?  Two more elder statesmen had arrived, and were waiting on deck…

As we left, we both thanked the manager.  i asked her politely – “Guess you’re seeing quite a few anxious investors these days, eh?”  As she smiled sweetly – not quite through gritted teeth but perhaps with the hint of a snarl forming around her perfectly painted lips – “Oh, it’s understandable with all of the media attention these days…”.

She’s a saint.  It’s only a matter of time before some addled bank manager storms off to a local news station and starts whacking on-air personalities*** with potted plants, and piercing their temples with bank pens, still attached to security chains.  i guess hyping economic catastrophe is what tides the bag-o’-shit media outlets over between the “frozen highways of death” season and the “hurricanes obliterating humanity – probably due to global warming” late summer season. 

Lurking in the back of my head is a touch of conspiracy theory – perhaps these fear-mongering media motherfuckers drive elderfolk to stash cash in their mattresses.  Then spend their weekends buying stained, flattened beds at estate sales looking for treasure…

* Got me a bit of a harmless “girl crush” on Dr. M – in the footnote here.  As much as i’m tempted to think it’s just wishful thinking on my part?  She does seem to enjoy engaging me in conversation, asks how “single life” is treating me and tells me i’m looking good.  Could it be… dare i say it… “mutual”?

** Mom had a bit of the irrational “my parts is gonna fall out” fears post-surgery.  i could empathize… after two c-sections to deliver my industrial sized offspring, i was freaked out about things coming undone.  Still can’t watch “Alien” – or even “Spaceballs” – without a twinge…

*** Not to be confused with “journalists”, or even “reporters”… that would require brain cells. 

If the Raisin Ranch is Rockin’…

This post is dedicated to the lovely nursemyra – an inspiration to all in her devotion to historical (and hysterical) medical research… 

On my recent visit to The Park i learned a most fascinating medical fact from the brilliant and pharmaceutically savvy Dr. M.

The last echocardiogram done on Mom showed potential signs of secondary pulmonary hypertension.  In short, her lifestyle choices* have not only destroyed the cardiac plumbing systems, but are starting to affect her ventilation system as well…

While we were discussing diagnostic options – to include heart catheterization in a couple weeks – i asked exactly what Dr. M was hoping to discover through the testing.  She explained – using the cutest little heart puzzle thingie i’ve ever seen – that she wants to know whether Mom’s misery is coming from the heart trouble or the lung dysfunction.  By determining the source, she can make a better decison about treatment options.

Knowing this was a possibility i’d done some surfing on the topic before the visit.  It was my understanding that there’s not much that can be done to treat secondary pulmonary hypertension.  Thanks to Dr. M’s diligence in staying on top of the latest research, i was delighted to have her correct me.

There are pharmaceutical approaches for treating pulmonary hypertension – depending mostly on the reason for increased pressure in the lung plumbing.  Among other drugs, Viagra has been shown** to effectively treat some forms of pulmonary hypertension.

Mom: You mean you might put me on Viagra?

Dr. M: I’ve got several ladies using it…

daisyfae: Good grief, she’s already a demon!  The men at church are terrorized! At least give me time to get a warning out on the church ‘prayer chain’!

Dr. M: Don’t worry – women don’t have the same reaction as men, so there wouldn’t be much effect on sex drive.

Mom: damn…


* maybe i’m being a bit judgmental here, but it seems that smoking 3 packs of cigarettes a day for 65 years will do a little something to your health…  add in the salt/lard/bacon-based diet and take away any form of exercise and you’ve got the equation for stroke, emphysema or heart-attack… or just a multiple-organ mutiny saying “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any longer…”

** Dr. M went on to explain that Viagra was first developed to treat pulmonary hypertension.  When the clinical trials were over, the men involved begged to keep taking it…

Bitches and roses…

i don’t want to get in the habit of just “ranting”, although it’s fun and relieves stress.  Since i spent most of the day in The Park, taking Mom to the cardiologist, it would be easy to drop into “rant only” mode – so the ground rules for tonight are “at least one positive thing for every negative thing”, but i can earn extra “rants” as needed by spending an additional 10 minutes on the elliptical trainer tonight.

Here goes… i’ll start with a bitch.*

Bitch:  Alarmist local media – waking up at 0500 to get Mom to the doc by 0900, the first bit of weather news was dire: Frozen Highways of DEATH!  Major Rush Hour Disaster Looming! Only the crazy should venture out!  Knowing that the trip to The Park today was mandatory (due to potentially serious medical issues for Mom), i had to steel myself for an awful drive.  The reality of it was – roads were fucking fine…  bastards… but hey, i got there in time for a cup of Mom’s Homebrewed Decaffeinated Sludge…

Rose:  Dr. M, the cardiologist of my dreams (see footnote about Dr. M here) was absolutely brilliant as she handled stressful news.  Mom will need additional diagnostics, to include extensive heart catheterization.  Dr. M was patient, attentive and communicated the issues effectively to Mom – minimizing worries about the impending procedure.  All medical personnel should be so considerate and genuine…

Bitch: Returning to Mom’s house after the doc appt, i needed to shovel the 4″ of snow in the driveway.  I had to walk next door to get the snow shovel from DQ’s house.  It was past noon, and both DQ and BJs cars were in the driveway – both home sleeping in on a weekday.  Neither had bothered to get up to take care of the chore at hand, or get Mom’s trash to the curb.  Or change 3 burnt out lightbulbs in the house….

Rose:  When discussing possible venues for the angiogram, we had the option to choose a hospital – either the ‘downtown’ hospital, known for exquisite cardiac care, or the suburban hospital, more convenient to The Park.  i asked Dr. M about prospects for more serious issues arising, such as the need for bypass, and if she would be comfortable working at the suburban venue.  She said “The Chief Surgeon there is Dr. B, and he’s very good. No concerns.”  I said “Wait a minute… i think Dr. B was Dad’s thoracic surgeon… is he tall, salt-and-peppr hair, and, um, and really hot?”.   And the lovely Dr. M replied “He’s ok… i mean, if i were eating a sandwich i’m not sure i’d look up if he walked by…”.  (i’m wondering if this isn’t worth two roses…)

Bitch:  Getting old…  We’re all circling the drain, man.  Whether it’s Mom quietly acknowledging that she’s not just in the fourth quarter, but at the two minute warning… Or me realizing that my life and plans must take a back seat to caring for Mom for the forseeable future – for both of us, it’s gonna suck.

I’ve said it a million times – we can’t really change the outcome, but we can influence the path.  Finding ways to help her feel better, so she can enjoy herself a bit, and have things to look forward to… That’s the best i can hope for…

Rose:  Looks like i’ll be spending more time with Dr. M** this year…


* quote from one of my favorite rap songs, Dr Dre’s “bitches ain’t shit”… covered nicely by Ben Folds here.  Strong language warning…possibly every other word, in fact.

** I always admire women who are intelligent, competent and accomplished.  But whenever i run into such a creature and she is also gorgeous?  Instant crush…  what the hell is up with THAT?!?!?

Ghost branch in the family tree?

When we last left Mom and her gummed up hydraulic and ventilation systems, her juicy-hot cardiologist* had determined the need to switch up the medications for her high blood pressure.

There is always a bumpy transition when reducing the dosage of the old drug, and ramping up the new one.  The edible Dr M reviewed the process carefully, and painstakingly went over the symptoms which would trigger a call to the office – spike in blood pressure, drop or spike in pulse rate or heart palpitations.

When we got back to the house, I asked DQ to come over from next door to go over the dosing schedule for the next three weeks, as well as warning signs.  Heads nodding in understanding all around – like a Smoking Bobblehead Convention – i was confident that marching orders were delivered and received.

Three nights ago, I got a call at 11 pm from DQ.  Mom had been having heart palpitations for a couple days, and just told DQ about it an hour earlier.  DQ, remembering that this is one of the bad things, wants to call me (she’s a reliable and diligent soldier when given orders). Mom argued with her about bothering me so late – but DQ did call.

After beating through it, and spanking around on the web, we decided it could wait til morning – but that it would be prudent to call the cardiology shop first thing in the morning.

The next day I called mom while driving home, to see what the doc said….

Mom:  “I didn’t call”

daisyfae: “What?”

Mom: “I felt a little better this morning.  I don’t want to be a bother….”

daisyfae: “Ma, this is why we pay them. Haven’t you noticed all the Mercedes and BMW’s in the physicians parking lot?  They don’t mind….”

Mom: “I was afraid you’d have to take off work and come down here if they put me in the hospital for tests…”

daisyfae: “Thoughtful of you, Momma, but I’d rather deal with that than deal with you stroking out on us….”

In my head, I quickly climbed the limbs of her Appalachian-American** family tree.  Czech, German, English….  Nope.  Not Jewish. 

So where does that “I’ll just sit here quietly in the dark until my heart explodes” thing come from?

* Dr M is about 35 years old, gorgeous, considerate, wicked smart and has the patience of a saint. She wears those sexy Tina Fey “smart girl” glasses.  Yeah.  I’ve got a girl crush on her.  Get over it.  Of course, that’s not the only reason I take an entire day off work every few months, get up at 5:30 am, do full “hair and makeup”, drive 120 miles round trip and spend an hour in the waiting room listening to Mom recount the details of every meal she’s eaten for the past week.  I am there to ensure Mom gets to spend a few minutes with the cardiologically brilliant Dr M.  Really….

** Redneck

A day in The Park

I took the day off work, and went to The Park to take Mom to visit her cardiologist.  A few vignettes from the day…

     – when i arrived to pick her up, she was having breakfast on the couch.  coffee and potato chips.   she then tells me the story of DQ, Jr (12 years old) and a friend getting arrested at a movie theater for taking video for the last few minutes of the Hanna Montana movie.  No charges filed, but damn good drama all around…

     – the doctor asks many questions, including “how are you doing with your sodium?”  Mom answers the question, saying she has switched to sea salt, and thinks she’s doing ok.  i wait… until i can’t stand it any longer and casually mention her daily breakfast of potato chips and the fact that she unloads at least a half shaker of salt on everything (including her coffee) prior to tasting it.  65 years of smoking will do that to your tastebuds, i suppose.

     – Mom’s blood pressure is high (170/60) and her pulse is low (55).  Time to change her meds!  she tells the doc that it’s been like this for a few months – and that there was one night in December her pulse was 48.  doc is concerned.  i am concerned – and frustrated, because this is the first i’ve heard of this.  remember that little surprise we dropped on her a few weeks ago?  it really could have caused a stroke…

     – driving from the doctors office, she finished her cigarette in my car.  picking her up in front of the cardiology building while she’s blowing smoke rings out her nose? doesn’t really phase me much anymore.  i don’t care for smoking in the car, but it’s not like smoke will make the shitmobile smell worse.   on the highway, she mentions that she isn’t sure the cigarette went out the window.  it didn’t.  i managed a quick recovery of a smouldering butt from the back seat, while driving 70 mph leaving only a small flesh wound in the upholstery.  good thing i don’t care…

     – at the house, DQ (niece next door) comes over to review the medical info.  DQ, Jr. is asked to take the 5 month old baby, DQ, III, into the other room so Mom and DQ can smoke.  I’m encouraged that they are at least not trying to smoke near the infant.  As DQ lights up and blows a big ol’ cloud of smoke toward me, she informs me she’s pregnant again.  That it was an accident – “…we were being careful…”.  What?  By only screwing on days that end in “Y”?

As far as these things usually go, it really wasn’t bad.  Just another day in The Park…