Thursday, January 24, 2008

Turning Toward Hecticity (I know, that isn't a word. It is now)

Hey all, sorry I have been neglectful of passing on information about Deb. She got her staples out on Tuesday. She looks like she has a zipper all the way down the front of her, from several inches above her bellybutton to almost to her privates. Now that's a scar. It matches the one on her hip and her knee, from when she became bionic.

Her pain control was pretty much nonexistant for a while there, but she is doing better now. She just has to monitor how awake her bowels are before deciding on whether or not to take the pain meds.

The dogs are all very happy to have at least one of us home to sleep with at night. (Really, they allow us to use their big king sized bed with them.)

My classes are off to a good start. I'm finding that I want to work on one much more than the other. No surprise there. I also am doing some independent reading for a sociology prof, and will get the credit next semester. Right now, I am reading a book called the Slave Ship. It is awesome!! I'm only 132 pages into it so far, but I am amazed that not only am I learning about history, I'm also learning how the slave trade of way back when still affects how we do things today. I'll give more of a review once I finish it. So far, it's a fascinating read.

I've gotta sign off now because I have to nap before my English class, where I'll get to hear the professor talk to himself about Homer's The Iliad. No, really, he's talking to us, but with the assumption that we haven't figured anything out on our own. The work itself is fascinating and interesting. Class, not so much.

The history of African-American Religion class has me re-thinking my whole view of religion in the United States. I think I have some insights into why we are having so much trouble attracting African-Americans into the Unitarian Universalist faith as well. I'm not sure if I'm ready to share those insights yet. I need to mull them over for a while yet. I did write several pages in my journal about it on the morning of Martin Luther King Jr. day (Monday). That was how I honored him, looking honestly at race relations in the faith community that I love. May even get a sermon out of it yet, if I can figure out a diplomatic way of saying some of what I want to say.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Deb's Crazy Journey of Recovery


Deb got through her surgery well. Last night, they finally let her suck on a few ice chips. Yeah!!
The surgeon found a piece of her descending colon that was free of diverticuli. He was able to save 8-10 inches, which is 8-10 inches more than they thought could be salvaged. The rest of the colon was riddled with the disease. She still has an NG tube coming out of her nose (that is a drain that empties the stomach of acid and bile since there is nothing in there to dilute it). She is hoping to get that out this morning. She still has a catheter in and pain control has been an ongoing problem. I talked to her a little while ago, and that finally seems to be going better.
She is tired, because as we all know, hospitals are very restful places...not. She is also running a fever and her breathing is not as clear as it should be. They haven't taken the dressing off of the incision yet, but I'm hoping that there isn't an infection developing. (Although on second thought, that would be better than in the gut itself.)
She's not yet up to having visitors or talking to very many people, hopefully now that her pain is under better control, maybe she will be ready for that soon.
The dogs miss her terribly. Poor Little Bit hates to be without people for 5 minutes, let alone 5 nights. As I get ready for work, her eyes dialate and her dog tags start clinking because she shakes so hard from the anxiety.
Deb will probably be in the hospital for 4-7 days from the surgery. I suspect it will be on the longer end of that simply because it has taken 2 days just to get her pain under control. She still doesn't have bowel sounds and they aren't allowing her to eat or drink even water yet. (And I whined about my post-op hospital stay. At least I got water.) I also think that if the fever doesn't resolve itself, that may delay her coming home as well.
Considering all of that, she is holding up fairly well. Her color looks good and she is getting up and walking as much as she can. She's really looking forward to getting the NG tube out. And eating pizza. Someday hopefully soon.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Turning from one to Another


As some of you know, Deb has been dealing with major health issues for the past 13 years or so.
The good news is, that in March, the FDA approved a new way of administering gamma globulin, which is what Deb needs since her own body doesn't produce enough of the right components naturally (IGG). She used to get it intravenously (directly into a vein) once a month, but it made her very sick most of the time, so she had to stop it. Deb started this new way of getting it subcue (under the skin) at home and she seems to be able to tolerate it pretty well as long as she takes Benedryl, Motrin and Alka-Aid oraly right before she sticks the needles into her. Her IGG counts have doubled since starting this treatment a little over two months ago!! Yeah! Her counts still are not in the "normal" range by any means, but at least she isn't as likely to die of a cold.
Because she is responding so well to the Gama globulin, she has been cleard to have surgery on Wednesday, January 9. Deb has been in a lot of pain on and off for the past year because of recurring diverticulitis. (Basically, "pockets" have formed throughout her colon and those pockets sometimes get inflamed and/or infected and bleed.) If this goes untreated, there is a risk that one of the diverticuli could rupture and pollute the rest of her body with feces as it seeps out of that tear.
So, at noon on Wednesday, say a prayer if you will, or send out healing light or just positive thoughts in Deb's direction.
The surgeon will be removing Deb's entire colon and connecting the small intestine directly to the rectum. If all goes well, she will be able to eat snd use the bathroom "normally" (no bag, but frequent use). We plan on it all going well, with your prayers to help in the healing process.
I'm not sure when she'll get home from the hospital, I'll post it here or make a few key phone calls and hope that word gets out when she does get home.

Don't Mind Her, She's Just Happy

Why is it that in our society, if someone asks "how are you doing?" and you answer "not well" or "I'm crabby" or any other number of answers indicating a fairly negative moment in your life, most of the time, the asker says, "oh" or some other lame, half-hearted acknowledgment?
Why is it that in our society, if someone answers, "Awesome", "I'm happy" or "today is a good day" to that same question, the asker usually says something like, "why are YOU so happy"? Often, the tone of voice that goes along with that question implies that something is amiss with the idea of happiness.
Why, if someone spontaneously laughs "for no reason", those around them crane their necks and stretch their eyes to find an explanation. Or, they surreptitiously, but quickly, look away in the opposite direction with that "I don't hear you" look of a three year-old who has been caught drinking out of the toilet. As if spontaneous laughter is a sign of insanity or some odd communicable disease or just plain mischief. Sometimes, a rude "what's so funny?" is grunted toward the laugher. Is the impulse to find the source a way to reassure ourselves that there is no craziness afoot, or is it a longing to be included in the laughter?
I remember vividly the first time that anyone ever hugged me as a teenager (besides my mom, and even those were few and far between). I was 15 and at a church camp in Tennessee called "Mountain Top". I was walking down the path toward my cabin, passing several small groups of people, when someone from my church stepped away from his group and wrapped me in a embrace. I had NO idea what to do. I distinctly remember not returning the hug, looking at him blankly and asking him, "what was THAT for?" (Yet at the same time I was jumping for joy and laughing inside my head.) Don grinned and responded, "No reason. I just felt like it." I thought he was crazy, though later we became very good friends and his hugs helped me get through depression and an angry teenage hood.
Here's another thing: I used to be amazed if I'd go into a public place and the person I was with looked everyone in the eye and greeted them enthusiastically. It always blew my mind when I'd find out that my friend and this random restaurant patron didn't know each other, yet greeted one another like old friends. I remember the first few times, I was with my friend, Lizette. I was 22 years old, shy, and embarrassed in an odd sort of way that she was drawing all of this attention to us. I got used to it after a while.
Then, I had a job (the worst job of my life) in which one of the requirements of my employment was to look every customer in the eye and greet them: "Hi, how are you?" (short pause) "Is there anything I can help you find today?" (And later, of course, I would have to try to talk them into getting whatever piece of crap that they bought engraved.)
Through this humiliating ritual, I learned something that I never suspected: I like people.
I also learned to go ahead and force myself past my shyness. (It felt crippling sometimes, to be that shy.) Now people laugh at me when I tell them that I'm shy. I can get up in front of a crowd ans speak. I can shake hands and look "strangers" in the eye. I can smile at someone I don't know. I can ask for someone to tell me their story and really be present with them in the moment of their telling. I can walk into a party of strangers and introduce myself to some of them instead of standing in the corner, observing.
Even while doing all of this, I am able to refrain from saying "would you like that engraved with a special message for only 50 cents a letter?"

Looking back at the beginning of this entry, I remember now what these rambling words were meant to say:
*Allow yourself to feel happy at least once a day, for no apparent reason at all.
*Laugh out loud when you least expect it. Writers like Robert Fulgum, Douglas Adams, Fanny Flagg, Neil Gaiman and Erma Bombeck can sometimes help with this exercise. Try reading one of these authors while you are riding public transportation. Watch people watch you each time you burst out in laughter. It's a fascinating experiment.
*When you aren't in a good mood, accept that and be grateful that it is only temporary.
*Know that joy is our natural state of being. No excuses or reasons are needed. (Yes, I'm telling myself this more than anyone.)
*Greet each stranger as if they are a friend that you haven't met yet.

Question for the day: What are some "happy songs" that you can't help smile, tap or sing to?

Friday, January 4, 2008

Another Trip On the 23 Year Path to a Bachelor's Degree

The Winter semester for University of Michigan Flint begins on Monday. I will be taking two classes: Literature of Ancient Greece and Rome and The History of African-American Religion. The first one is my last reuired English class for my English degree. The second one is because I want to. I am trying to choose classes that will be interesting or will fit into what I think will help me if/when I go to seminary.
I've been back to work for two weeks now, so I guess I need to get back into the swing of school also. I'm looking forward to both classes. I have started reading one book from each one. So far, I've gotten through the intro for the Iliad. I hope the epic itself is more interesting than the intro. The one on Black Religion and Black Radicalism, so far is pretty good, but I am kind of disappointed that it is pretty much only talking about Christianity. I was hoping it would focus on Christianity but also more than just mention Islam and Judaism. I was also hoping it would touch upon other religions that are Earth-based, etc. I did find it interesting that Christianity was well established in Africa long before African slaves were brought to the Americas. Christianity was firmly established in Egypt in the third or fourth century. I never knew that. I had never really thought about it before. I'm looking forward to learning more.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Blanket of Peace for the New Year

I woke up this morning to a brand-new year and nature's own brand-new blank canvas. We got several inches of snow last night, leaving everything white and pristine. I looked out the window and 6:30am, so even the road looks beautiful.
I can't remember if I've mentioned this or not, but I love it when the snow refreshes the visual world. Everything seems cleansed of the dirt, oil and traces of salt. It always feels quiet and peaceful, until the snowplows come through.
Have an awesome new year.

Have you made any New Year's Resolutions (or Revolutions)?