Park Logic 101… Again…

Spent the day in The Park with Mom for medical follow up.  We met “Robo Doc” to see if she is a candidate for “robotic assisted laparoscopic bypass”, which would be much less invasive than traditional bypass surgery. 

Alas, no robots – she passed the pulmonary function test, but since one lung must be deflated for “robo-bypass”, Robo-Doc (who is just as cute as a tall, scrawny, geek button) said that with her pulmonary hypertension, it would put too much stress on her heart.  It shall be traditional double bypass.

My regular readers might remember my last run in with Park Logic.  Today?  Another Park Logic Moment:

Robo-Doc said the biggest risk during bypass is pneumonia, driving the 4-5% possibility of fatality from the procedure.  Her chance of getting pneumonia more than doubles if she keeps smoking* before/after the surgery – so Robo Doc virtually demanded that she quit smoking for 2 weeks prior to surgery.  That meant no smokes starting today since she’ll need to be cut soon.

He prescribed Chantix. She immediately raised concerns about side effects, based only on info she’s seen on television.  “That stuff messes with your brain, doesn’t it?”.  He explained that it satisfies the craving without the nicotine, that he’s had many patients successfully quit using the drug, and that he felt the side effects were less threatening than those from smoking prior to surgery. 

In the car, as we headed to fill the prescription, she started whining about not wanting to deal with Chantix – the strange dreams (one potential side effect) would drive her batty**.  i helpfully pointed out that the side effect of smoking was that it jacked her chance of complications (including death) from bypass to over 10%.

Thinking “Woo-Hoo!  Take that!  Logic rocks!”

At the pharmacy, we learned that this particular drug is not covered by her new insurance plan.  Mom suggested we head home and call Robo-Doc back to see if he had a Plan B.  Thinking quickly despite the lack of sleep and caffeine, i asked the pharmacy tech “how much?”.  $117.62.  My charge card was out in a flash, drugs in my hand and we were on our way before Mom could finish her protest statements. 

She offered to pay me back, but of course i declined.  And again being the helpful daughter that i am, grinned at her and said “Besides, now you’ll feel guilty if you don’t use this stuff.  Paybacks are hell, ain’t they Momma?” 

Thinking “SLAM! DUNK! I am a logic MACHINE!” 

Still complaining about the cost of the demon medication, i once again went to my Big Bag O’Logic and reminded her that she spent $160 on four cartons of cigarettes the last time i took her to the cardiologist. 


We headed out for a late breakfast before i took her home.  i was feeling pretty good, having scored some serious logic points.  Ordering a healthy breakfast (Egg Beater omelette, fruit instead of fried potatos, english muffin instead of gravy/biscuits), Mom went for her usual:  Two eggs, basted in butter, 3 slices of bacon, 2 biscuits with a bowl of sausage gravy.  Yes.  i said “Bowl”.  i said “Gravy”.  When asked about the breakfast potatos, she said “I’ll skip those – the doctor said I need to start watching the fat in my diet”.


* Mom has been smoking for roughly 65 years.  Current rate is about 3 packs/day.  On her “pulmonary function test” results, amongst the demographic stats such as age, weight, etc. was a note: “98 Pack Years”.  Something akin to “Dog Years” i suspect.  i’m surprised it was that low… she must have lied…

** i get “Nyquil Psychosis” after dosing myself for 3 days.  i start to have amazing dreams – sometimes “Hostel”-like mad slasher flicks, sometimes hallucinogenic road trips!  Almost makes me look forward to going to bed when i’ve got a head cold!

Park Logic

Yet another day in The Park taking Mom to her cardiologist, the lovely Dr. M.  Prior to determining next steps – double bypass or not – Mom will need additional tests done over the next couple weeks before meeting with a surgeon in April.

When we last left The Park, the heart catheterization revealed that Mom has a substantial blockage in her left main artery.  Although it wasn’t immediately life threatening, the doctor recommended that we move quickly to clear the blockage.  Mom is at a higher risk of heart attack, and due to the location of the blockage, the likelihood of fatality from a cardiac event is high.

Do the people who (in theory) share my genetics understand that this means Mom does not need additional stress or trauma?  Apparently not…

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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?!?!?

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…

Safe and (Un)sound

At 55 years old, my oldest sister, S, is still ‘traffic-stopping hot’.  She’s a size 4, has Loni Anderson hair, looks fantastic in leather pants and rides her own Harley.  She is also hard-working, tenacious and very smart – having worked her way up from the secretarial pool to become the head of the IT department for a prestigious midwestern law firm – with no formal education beyond high school.  Let’s overlook for the moment her taste in men

Even with so much going for her, she has a near-crippling fear that she’ll be murdered, raped, skinned alive or otherwise assaulted.  I didn’t realize how bad this was until we took a short trip together last year. 

Since i own nothing but shitmobiles, we agreed to take her car.  As we were leaving her house, she said “i just don’t feel safe.  do you mind if i bring my gun?” 

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Will the real terrorist please stand up?

A few years back, as the ‘terror level’ of the people of the U.S. started to subside, Attorney General Ashcroft apparently decided that it had to be kicked back up a notch.  Bam!  Threat Level Orange!

In a now famous attempt to kick-start the fear factor going into a mid-term election, Mr. Ashcroft encouraged all Americans to be prepared for a chemical attack, by keeping duct tape and sheets of plastic on hand.

My Mom, knowing that i dabble in technology and stay current on such things, asked me if it would be a good idea for her to keep supplies on hand, ‘just in case’…

“Mom.  First i want you to do three things.  If you do these three things, then we can talk about the need for duct tape and plastic.”

    “Stop smoking 3 packs of cigarettes a day.  I know you’ve done it for almost 65 years, and other than the congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and persistent cough, it hasn’t hurt you a bit… and yes, we think the tar is holding some of your internal organs in place.  Still, it’s a significant risk factor in your life.

     “Wear your seatbelt every time you ride in a car.  Especially when you are driving.  While smoking…

      “Stop eating a bacon sandwich, with a side of sausage and gravy shots, for breakfast.  Oh, and try to get out and walk just a little bit every day.

      “These are the three things that are most likely to kill you.  You are also more likely to die at the hands of an axe-wielding mime than to suffer the effects of a chemical attack, so the fourth item on the list might be mime-repellant.”