Crying “Uncle!”, or You Know What, I’m Just Done.

“Hey, how’s it going?”

Such an innocuous set of words aren’t they?  We ask them casually to friends, family, acquaintances alike.  We expect the same answer, or variations thereof: “It’s going okay.”

Guess what.  It’s not okay. I’m not okay.  I am ‘stick a fork in me’ done. This is My Own Little Soapbox after all, so you’re just gonna have to listen to me vent, kvetch, or as my Dutch grandparents or in-laws would have said, “brommen”  (grumble, growl, drone, mutter).  My grandfather’s usual context was to tell us to “Quit your brommen.

A month ago our youngest nearly died.  She was dying, actually, and her body was shutting down.  She spent five days in the hospital, most of that in ICU.  In medical terms she was mildly hypothermic, hypovolemic, in septic shock, and suffering severe DKA. In terms we all can understand she was cold, like under 90 degrees cold, severely dehydrated, and had a rare strep infection in her blood.  The DKA is a complication of diabetes wherein your body burns fat for energy instead of glucose, and the fat-turned-energy leaves an acid called ketones in your blood. Too many ketones and your body pH drops and you become acidotic.  Her pH was 6.8.   A nurse said they have a little saying about low body pH: Under 7, they’re going to heaven.

She had lots of fluids, IV antibiotics, lots of electrolytes, insulin, sodium bicarbonate — at one point there were EIGHT IV infusion pumps running at once and she was intubated to keep her body from quitting completely.

20170404_091012[1]

That was April 5. She pulled through and came home.

Last week Sunday we went to the emergency room because she has a spot on her leg from an intraosseous needle inserted into her shin — yes, straight through the bone into the marrow — that wasn’t healing very well.  She had one in each leg, by the way.  I thought it may be a little infected.  I called an Urgent Care and they said if she needed IV antibiotics they would send us to  Emergency since they can’t administer those.  Okay, ER it was.

The PA-C and a doctor both looked at her leg.  Both determined it was ugly, slow to heal, but not infected.  Now can we address the severe belly pain she’s had for nearly 2 weeks?  A routine urinalysis showed she had a UTI and  bladder infection.  I am my daughter’s Patient Advocate.  She doesn’t like to make a big deal of things, even when it’s a big deal. She was downplaying the pain, and I knew it. She was in tears. I requested an ultrasound just to rule out any other problems.  (I was thinking appendix or ovarian cyst.)  My request was ignored.  We were sent home with 7 days’ of oral antibiotics for the UTI.

Wednesday evening comes and the belly pain had not let up, and was actually worse than before, she said.  It was after 9:30 pm, so back to Emergency we go.  I was thinking they’d give her a prescription for some stronger pain meds and we’d be on our way.

Did you know that Emergency departments of larger hospitals have different rooms for different levels of “emergency”?  When our girl was brought in a month ago, she was in a Level 1 Trauma Room.  They are huge to make room for all the staff that needs to be on hand to save a patient’s life. There are Observation rooms.  These are decent sized spaces, and away from the noise of the rest of the ER.  Patients who need to be watched for a few hours come here. For example: sudden onset of pain after surgery or chemo, or other procedure, a runner needing hydration after race.  They need help, but won’t be admitted.

Then there are the “you’re not bleeding, dying, broken, shot, stabbed, and otherwise look pretty good, and we wonder why you’re here” rooms. The “Let’s read all of War and Peace while we wait” rooms.  That’s where we were taken Wednesday night.  O, I failed to mention they are not private in any way, shape, or form.  This room was semi-private so we could listen to the other fella in the bed next to hers have conversations with his friend who brought him, the staff, and hear the multiple episodes of Law & Order he watched.  Yes, multiple — remember, the theme of these rooms is “hurry up and wait,  and… wait.”

Around 12:30 am it was decided that she should have a CT scan.  FINALLY! Also by this point they decided she was going to be admitted for DKA — and we didn’t even come in for that! What seemed like ages pass and they take her down.  No, they don’t know how long it will take to get results.  At 2:24 am Thursday morning she is finally brought up to the ICU — again.

Neither of us was prepared for an inpatient stay.  We’ve learned to pack a hospital bag in 10 minutes at home before coming to the ER just in case she gets admitted. We didn’t have blankets, comfy pants, phone chargers, my tablet and headphones, eye mask, or earplugs — nothing!

Around 4 am all the staff finally leaves the room so we can get some rest.  It takes that long to get IVs started, meds ordered and brought up, vitals taken (again), EKG monitor pads affixed, the same questions asked with the same answers given, the IV infusion pumps attached to pole, set and running.  And my girl is still in pain because they haven’t given her much to control it.

Daylight comes bringing a shift change, more questions and the results from the CT scan.  It shows she has a kidney infection with a possible abscess on it.  She will be staying for a couple more days, at least 2, until they can scan the kidney again to check on the “spot.”

This news induces a wave of tears, anxiety, stress and fear.  I’m too exhausted to feel all the rage I want to knowing we could have been 3 days ahead on healing if they had just listened to her mother on Sunday!

What brought me to tell all y’all about this?  Thanks for asking.  I was supposed to join my friends for a group run Saturday (yesterday) morning.  I fell asleep in the recliner in the hospital and didn’t make it.  It turned out that wasn’t so bad after all.  She got discharged and we left the building around noon. If I had been running I would not have been able to take her home.  Sidenote: I slept all 3 nights in the hospital with her, if you can call what I did “sleeping.”

My plan was to run today.  I’m training for a 25K that is next weekend, and a marathon the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. My plan was 22 miles. My goal was to be out of the house around 2 pm.  That came and went.  I ate, drank water, started getting my gear together.  I wandered around because I can’t focus.  My head just wasn’t in it today, certainly not my heart.  The straw that broke the camel’s back?  I couldn’t find my headphones, and I couldn’t remember where I had put them.  I couldn’t find my new bottle of electrolyte capsules either. I would need both to survive 22 miles on my feet.  It was now 4:45 pm and I called it.  “Uncle!” I said to my husband.  I just can’t today.  And now you know why I am ‘stick a fork in me’ done.

Tomorrow is another day.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As for more tomorrows, our daughter is now a legal adult.  She has over $30,000 in existing medical debt.  These last two inpatient hospital stays have not been added to that total.  Please read her story, and consider a generous contribution to help save her future before it has a chance to really start.

Taking a Break to Make Decisions

I’ve just gotten off the phone with a friend who was asking if I’d be using or be interested in selling a science text book we have. She wanted to know if we’d be using it for Sugar Bug when she gets old enough.  I told I was still thinking about sending Sweet Pea to the co-op class that’s starting in a couple of weeks, which would use the book.  Problem: no money to sign her up, or pay the class fees.  She’s a good friend, and would probably let me make installments over the semester, all I’d have to do is prob’ly ask.

There’s a history/Lit/Bible class also offered.  It would be worth 3 high school credits, which Sweet Pea needs to have.  She wants to go to MSU and go through their Veterinary Medicine program and, well.. be a vet.  She loves animals, but thinks she wants to take care of large ones– horses, hippos, elephants, giraffe.  I think she’d cry just as much as any family to have to put a sick or injured animal down.

Sonny Boy has been tolerant of his parents of late.  He’s convinced we’ve screwed up his life, which isn’t entirely true.  We (read: I, me) have made some mistrakes with parenting and schooling decisions, and they can’t be undone.  I need to sit with him, have a long talk and ask for his forgiveness.

I was trying to work hard at getting caught up on a lot of housework that’s been pushed aside for a very long time when I got that call. I decided to take a break, grab some lunch and write. Only I haven’t eaten yet.  I think I’m actually making progress– with the housework, but I’m not nearly done.  I’ve decided to save laundry folding for later tonight, after sunset, so I can do it and listen/watch some TV. I’ve got stacks of books that need to be sorted and re-organized into subjects.  That may be a good job for tomorrow, after my walk.

Tomorrow is my next long (group) training day.  We have 14 miles on the agenda, but I may do 16.  Last week was supposed to be 16, but I didn’t see that until after I was home, showered and ready to devour a side of beef.  I wasn’t going to go back out to finish those last 2 miles.  I’ve realized the marathon is just 7 weeks away now! I have fundraising to do still– almost $1500. Any takers!?!  No? well, how about $30 or $50? As much as I’d love for an anonymous stranger to just 15 Benjamin’s into my lap, I know that’s not realistic– well, as realistic as winning tonight’s Mega Millions $134 Million jackpot.

So, to recap, I’ve decided: A) Sweet Pea should take the co-op classes.  I’ll have to find the money from somewhere. B) I need to talk to my son, really talk to him and apologize for not being the parent he needed. C)  Fold laundry during Numb3rs tonight D) Go eat some lunch, then scrub the kitchen floor.  E) Resist the urge to spend $1 on the voluntary tax that is the Michigan lottery.

Must dash off now, hunger beckons, and the cookies are screaming Eat me! so I better find something healthier than that.

Politics and Pipe Dreams

I have been reading “The Case against Barack Obama” and find it to be very compelling and revealing. I know hardcore devotees will think it as lopsided propaganda, but I do suggest you read it, even if you are one. If there were one on John McCain I’d read it too, just so you’d know.

Up until the book, I was somewhat neutral on the man and his campaign. I’m beginning to dislike Mr. Obama and his legislative track record the farther into the book I get. Many of the people who could complain the loudest are Democrats, and they won’t rat out one of their own. The Republican’s who are speaking out are being accused of running a smear campaign. The author is letting Mr. Obama’s record speak for itself. And for the record, the “record” isn’t just how he voted on legislative issues; it includes his campaigning tactics, his candidate endorsement record, among other things.

The farther into the campaign season we travel, the more I dislike both sides of the aisle. Michigan ends up being kind of “purple”— Red in the West and U.P and Blue on the more populated East side. There has been a growing trend of voting Blue on the West side as of late, but I still think we’re more Purple.

I wish there was a viable party that fits what I believe in. One that supports and values all life; holds corporations to good stewardship of the environment without radicalism; believes the gov’t is meant to lead and assist but not be primary source of income for individual citizens. I want equity in education spending, and pay based on performance of teachers. There are districts paying some of its tenured teachers $75,000+, and still the students are failing. Would it violate the rights of citizens to require teachers to send children to the schools in which they teach? How much would change then? Don’t police officers have to live where they serve? Judges too? It will never happen because the teachers’ unions are too powerful and politicians know where the money comes from.

There are days I wish PAC’s could be disbanded too. It seems the lavishly funded ones are the ones telling the Senator’s how to vote, because of the campaign contributions made and therefore expect the favor of a vote in return. That’s not “of the people, by the people, for the people”.

I also think the system of 2 Senators, and 435 members in the House in DC do not adequately represent the population as a whole. The Senators are overworked and hold too much power when partnered with their like-minded representatives in the House. I don’t like that Representatives serve two-year terms. It seems they are always stuck in campaigning mode and can’t devote enough time to the work at hand. Of course the requirement of 2 Senators and the two-year terms are written into the Constitution (Article 1, Section III and Section II, respectively). Just imagine what fun both Houses could have with 150 Senators and one Representative for every 250,000 citizens. With a population nearing 305 million, our Rep’s are representing just over 701,000 people—EACH! If the ratio were brought to 1:250,000 we’d need to elect 785 more to the U.S. House of Representatives. The Constitution provides that there may not exceed one per 30,000! I’ll do the math for you real quick: that comes to over 10,166 Representatives in Washington DC. Even if the ratio were moderate at 1:500,000 there would still be over 600 elected officials in Washington. If there were that many working for the people, do you think the Political Action Committees would carry as much clout? I don’t think so; they’d still exist, but with less strength.

Currently Michigan has 15 officers elected to the H of R in DC, ranking 8th in population according to the 2000 U.S. Census. These places have only one, (estimated populations in parenthes.)

Alaska (670,000)
American Samoa (60,000)
District of Columbia (580,000)
Delaware (854,000)
Guam (174,000)
Montana (945,000)
North Dakota (635,000)
Puerto Rico (3,960,000) [Rhode Island has 2 Reps in DC, with a population of about 1.1 million]
South Dakota (782,000)
U.S. Virgin Islands (109,000)
Vermont (624,000)
Wyoming (515,000)

That’s 9,908,000 people, nearly the same as Michigan in 2000. All things being equal, Puerto Rico should have 6 Reps in DC, yet they have just the one.

If we reconfigured for the 1:250,000 ratio, Puerto Rico would have 15, Michigan would jump to 39 and California to 153. I suggest the district lines be redrawn to make them larger with multiple Reps per district, so the work load can be shared, with staffing and office needs reduced. *Thinking to self: Perhaps even limiting the total number of districts per state*

If people aren’t voting because they feel they aren’t being heard, would changing the number of Representatives in Washington DC make a difference. We won’t know unless someone successfully runs for office, implements the changes and makes it happen. Pie in the sky dreams, aren’t they.

All that said, because I started reading a book about one candidate…