Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mom's Adventures in Rehab Part II

Some people choose a nursing home facility based on the quality of care, while my mom's choice was based on the quality of snacks. This was my mom's third stint in rehab after her five day hospital stay. Her last visit was about two years ago, so we knew the schedule by heart. The old fashioned ice-cream parlor was open every day until 4:00, and on Friday afternoons they served pizza, and had live music. All of the activities took place in their Main Street area which was located next to the beauty shop.

Last Friday, I stopped off at my mom's room to drop off  her laundry before I met her at the beauty parlor. I noticed her roommate was just sitting there looking at the wall, so I asked if she'd like to go listen to the music downstairs. She was eager to leave, but was worried that her husband wouldn't be able to find her. I wheeled her over to the front desk and left word where we were going. Then I checked with her nurse to see if she had any dietary restrictions. After we got the okay, we ran into my mom's dear friends. I invited them to join us on the elevator, so they could surprise my mom. I felt like Dorothy leading her friends down the yellow brick road.

As I escorted the couple inside the beauty shop, I set my mom's roommate near a table, so she could listen to the music. Then I told her I'd be back in a minute to get her something to eat. She decided to also have her hair done in the beauty shop, so I brought her inside with us. She politely offered to wait until the beautician was available.

Though they had shared a room for three weeks, this was the longest conversation her roommate, and I ever had. It may have been the very first time she and my mom had actually spoken to each other. Their room was separated by a tall cabinet and curtain. Since they were both in wheelchairs, their paths only crossed on the way to the bathroom, or coming or going from the room. My mom was in charge of the windows and the air conditioning, while her roommate was in charge of blasting her TV loud enough, so my mom never had to turn on the volume on her set.

As my mom was busy socializing with our close family friends in the beauty shop, my first job was to keep the snacks coming. I brought in slices of pizza and a root beer float for the happy couple to share. My second job was to translate over the noise from the blow dryer, and background music. Meanwhile, her roommate was pleasantly perched on the opposite end of the room.

Suddenly, the mood changed as the hairdresser started whispering to the manicurist. When I asked what was wrong, she pointed to the oxygen tank on the back of the roommate's wheelchair. I didn't think it was a problem, because it wasn't in use. Then both the beautician and the manicurist explained how oxygen tanks and blow dryers do not mix.

After I apologized and offered to remove her from the beauty shop, she asked if my mom would mind taking a break, so she could quickly comb her roommate's hair before we all blew up. I distracted my mom with another slice of pizza, while she worked her magic, and then I whisked her roommate back up to the room. All the while, she couldn't stop thanking me for transporting her to and from the beauty shop. She kindly added, "Your mom is adorable, and she's way too young to have you for a daughter."

Fortunately, everyone made it out of the beauty shop alive. Then I noticed my mom's bangs were in her eyes, and asked why she didn't have the hairdresser trim them. She replied, "Do you think I could trust her to cut one hair on my head?"

My mom asked me to bring her a pair of scissors, but I thought it would be better if she waited a week to go to her favorite beautician close to home. A few days later, I noticed there was something different about my mom. Then it hit me. When I brought her caregiver for a visit, she must have slipped her some contraband scissors, so she could trim her own bangs. I told Mom she would be an ideal prison inmate, and without missing a beat she quipped, "Well, I do look good in orange."

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

IWSG: Reflections On A to Z


My first A to Z Challenge was in 2011, shortly after I began blogging. I couldn't believe how friendly everyone was. Not only did they willingly read my stories, but non-family members actually began to follow me. I signed on again for the next two challenges, and decided to take a break in 2014, as we were leaving on vacation toward the end of April. During the first few weeks before we left, it felt strange not participating in the challenge. As difficult as the challenges had been in the past, I missed the camaraderie of moaning and groaning with all of my blogging friends.This year it had an opposite effect, as it proved to be therapeutic in an unexpected way.

During the last few months my mom has groan progressively weaker. Though she has been using a walker for years, her legs have become more wobbly, and she has been relying more and more on her wheelchair. I took her to the doctor in March who in turn, referred her to three other doctors: a cardiologist, a rheumatologist, and a hematologist. I told my mom she didn't need to waste time visiting all of these specialists, but she insisted on seeing them anyway.

In early April she was scheduled for a lying down stress test with her cardiologist. By this time, she was so weak, that it was very difficult for her caregiver and me to get her in  and out of the car. After the results came back fine, I asked the cardiologist to test her legs for blood clots, check her for a urinary tract infection, and to also see if she was dehydrated. Though these are normally jobs for an internist, I thought he could send some orders down to the lab, since we were already at the hospital anyway. After he declined, we wheeled her over to her internist's office, but as my mom expected, it was her day off. After I dropped my mom off at home, I paged her doctor who made arrangements to have these tests taken by a visiting nurse the following day. For reasons unknown, all of the tests came back negative.

Over the next few weeks we went to the other doctors on her list. One of the offices was so filthy, that I refused to take my mom in. This building was so rundown that it only had a one person elevator that looked like it was on the verge of collapse. It was getting to the point where every time I saw my mom, I wanted to check her in to the hospital. My brother, and her friends in the retirement community were also quite concerned.

On April 17th, I picked my mom up to take her to the beauty shop. She had grown considerably weaker, and her doctor had ordered some follow up tests to be administered by her visiting nurse. During the ride home, I told her that this would be a great time to check herself in to the hospital. She refused again. I knew my brother would be visiting shortly, and mentioned that she would  probably be going at some point that day. Several hours later, my brother phoned me at 9 PM, to tell me they were heading over to the ER.

My mom spent a few days in the hospital, before she was sent to a nursing home for rehab. It turns out that she was suffering from dehydration, a urinary tract infection, and blood clots in each of her legs. She still likes her doctor, and plans on continuing to use her. Fortunately, she hasn't lost her charm, and has deservedly so mouthed the words, "You are dumber than dirt," to both my brother and me while the nurses weren't looking.


Being called "dumber than dirt," has unleashed a whole bag of insecurities for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.  I can't tell you how helpful it was to read through the encouraging comments during A to Z. It really was such a welcome diversion. I'd like to blame these events on getting so far behind in following up on the comments, but truth be told I still would've fallen behind. In any event, I hope to get back to everyone this week. Not only did your comments cheer me up, but my mom got a kick out of reading them too.

Thanks to Arlee Bird for another successful A to Z Challenge. I'd also like to thank Alex,  Rhonda,  Hilary,  Delores,  Joanne,  Robyn,  Yvonne.  Lee,   Chrys,  Cherdo,  Dixie,   Birgit,  Sue,  Jo,  Julie, and Al  for all of your support.

I'm also thankful for having this wonderful group cheering from the sidelines: Arleen,  Stephen,  Robin,  Gorilla,  Debra, and  Shady.  I also appreciate everyone else who took the time to pop in and say hello. I'm sorry if I left anyone out. Thanks for making my fourth A to Z truly memorable, and for keeping me sane in the process.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A New Zenith

Zoom in on April 1st,
No fools showed up for the meeting.
Hosts were gathered all about,
Could not have staged a warmer greeting.

Zealous writers all in tow,
Nervous energy glistened.
Arlee Bird tossed out the first word
While everyone attentively listened. 

Zipping through the alphabet,
The letters quickly flowed.
Followers danced around the Web,
While melodious notes started to unfold.

Zero days, the end is here,
Alliances formed everlasting.
Zonked out from lack of sleep,
As the zany euphoria is passing.

Note: This is an edited repost from my first A to Z in 2011.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Yearning For Yesteryear



Recently I watched an earlier episode of Mad Men which took place at a Howard Johnson Motor Lodge in the sixties. This brought back memories of childhood vacations. Our dad was vice president and comptroller for a large corporation that had a plant in Newark, Delaware. We spent many summers driving from Chicago to Newark at the Howard Johnson's where we enjoyed leisurely days at the pool, while our dad went to work.

Afterward, he would go swimming with us, have races, and take me for rides on his back. Our mom enjoyed sunbathing, and would occasionally walk in the water up to her knees.  We were warned not to get her hair wet under any circumstances. Children who accidentally splashed her were never seen again.

Our dad also delighted in taking us out for hot fudge sundaes, or the flavor of the month special at HoJo's.  Hot apple pie ala mode with chocolate ice cream was also a favorite he shared with my brother. We never made a visit without going to a barbecue hosted by his associate's family who became dear friends. 

The only downside were the long drives to and fro. I suffered from motion sickness, and never failed to have my dad pull over several times throughout the trip. In the meantime, my brother would be quietly turning blue with his legs crossed, and tears streaming down his face. All because he didn't want to ask our dad to make anymore unscheduled stops.

Our last vacation to Delaware was when I was fourteen years old. As an added bonus we drove on to a resort in the Catskill Mountains. It was a cleaner version of the one in Dirty Dancing. By day my brother and dad played a lot of tennis, in addition to swimming and playing volleyball with us. By night we went to see shows, or went dancing in a lounge with a live band. As always the vacation went by all too quickly.

Although our dad didn't feel well, he insisted on driving straight home like he always did. Mom suggested spending the night in a motel, or at the very least she would drive, but he wouldn't hear of it. Dad drove through the night, dropped me off at home, and headed to the hospital with my mom and brother. 

It wasn't until the next day that I found out Dad had a heart attack, along with latent malaria which he must have contracted in the Navy. Mom assured us he would be fine, so I didn't worry. My brother was smart enough to know better. This was Dad's second out of three heart attacks, and he was only forty six years old.  

One of our last family trips was when I was a high school sophomore, and my brother was a college freshman. My brother fixed me up with his friend who needed a date for a Naval ROTC formal. I could have taken the bus to Wisconsin, but Dad offered to have us stay at a hotel, and make a fun weekend out of it.

My dad probably wasn't feeling well at the time, but he never complained. He was so proud of my brother and delighted in visiting the beautiful campus, because he never went away to school. He also loved when my brother joined a frat, as he was president of his fraternity.

I had a great time at the Naval ROTC Ball, which my dad took pleasure in having been a Naval officer. More importantly, I enjoyed the family time that we shared. Sadly, I didn't realize how precious it was. Although he didn't say it often, these special family outings were our dad's way of showing how much he loved us. 

*A repost from the 2012 A to Z Challenge.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Sweet 16 at an X-Rated Movie Theater


In September 2011, IWSG founder and A to Z co-hostAlex J. Cavanaugh created the "Worst Movies Ever" Blogfest. This is a repost of my extraordinary extracurricular activities.

My first job was at a concession stand at a movie theater when I was 15. My best friend was working as a cashier, and called me to come in for an interview. I said that I was 16, and after the manager asked me a few quick math problems, I was hired on the spot. The theater was packed as the Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange version of King Kong had just come out for Christmas. 

These were the days before calculators when you had to add up all the prices in your head, but I still managed to shovel in plenty of popcorn in between customers. Once after working a double shift complete with enough popcorn for lunch and dinner, my favorite usher took me aside to tell me that he could see his reflection in my nose.

After King Kong left the building, we were inundated with one bad movie after another. I can't remember all of the titles, but they were loosely based on classic children's stories with a twist. The first movie that comes to mind is Pinocchio,  but this version was rated X. Yes, the respectable family movie theater decided to try out some X-rated films. Of course my parents didn't mind that I was working there. After all, a paycheck was a paycheck. 


Some of the other pornographic fairy tales included Alice In Wonderland where Alice plays an innocent librarian  who meets up with a rabbit, and Goldilocks and The Three Bares.

Unfortunately, I had to remove the Alice and Goldilocks posters.  I wish that I could provide more information about these movies. I just remember the ushers making a special effort to sweep up the theater several times throughout these showings. They were exuberant in their quest to pick up every extra kernel of popcorn. Fortunately, no one was caught exasperating in the balcony.

I never actually sat through any of these films, as I was too busy minding the Junior Mints. But I did catch a glimpse of Pinocchio telling a lie, and quickly walked out when I realized his nose wasn't growing. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Wally The Worrywart

Wally the worrywart,
Would waste the day away.
Warding off suspicious germs,
With Lysol he would spray.

Wanda the wild woman,
Worked at the strip club.
Waitressing in flimsy attire,
While serving up watered-down grub.

Warbling was her true passion,
Wishing for a clean slate.
Winking strangers made advances,
Wanda never took the bait.

Wally was stuck at a stoplight,
Wiping off a spot on his console.
Wanda didn't see the light change,
When her car began to roll.

Wrestling to pull them free,
Wary that they'd survive.
Weakened by the crash,
Willful to stay alive.

Whilst visiting in the hospital,
Waiting for their bandages to unravel.
Wally and Wanda shared common interests,
Whistling birds: love of travel.

Whiplash brought them together,
Wacky as it may sound,
Worrywart and wild woman prove,
Wanderlust has no bounds.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Vanity Game


A heavyset man walks out of the shower at the gym. After he finishes drying off, he throws the towel on the floor, and starts walking toward his locker. Then he bumps into an acquaintance, and proceeds to have a lengthy conversation with him, and two other clothed men.

Forty five minutes later, a young man barges in with a TV crew. He approaches the naked man and says, "You're it!" The man looks for a towel, and tries to cover up with a dirty sweat sock from the floor. "Oh, don't worry about that. We'll just shoot you from above the waist. Will somebody bring him a towel? Doesn't mean I need to look at it though." The camera starts rolling, as the conversation continues.

Naked Guy: What's going on?

Host: This is a pilot for a new game show that's a combination of  Candid Camera, Punk'd, and America's Funniest Home Videos.

Naked Guy: (tightening his towel)  I don't feel comfortable being seen without my clothes on.

Host: That's funny 'cause we know you've been talking to your buddies over here wearing nothing but deodorant. And this isn't the first time. We have footage of you for months on end. Some days you just head right to the showers, and don't even pretend to workout.

Naked Guy: How do you know all this? Who sent you here?

(Camera pans to the door as his wife walks in. She's all decked out in designer yoga attire, shiny bling, and a spray tan.)

Vanessa: Hello Victor.

Naked Guy: I knew this was a setup. What do you want from me?

Vanessa: Just keep embarrassing yourself, and when you win the prize I'll give you a divorce.

Host: What are you planning on doing with the prize money Vanessa?

Vanessa: Oh a nip here, a tuck there. Victor says I don't need these things, but what does he know? He's all washed up. (the crew laughs)

Naked Guy: Look at her. She's already beautiful. Her vanity has gotten the best of her.

Vanessa: I'm not vain, I'm practical. And what about you?

Naked Guy: I'm standing here naked in front of millions of viewers. There's not a vain bone in my body.

Host: Well, let's not forget this is cable...

Vanessa: What about all of your manscaping? You could spend hours plucking and trimming your chest, but you let your ear hair run wild.

Naked Guy: After my lousy haircut grows out, you won't even see my ear hair.

Vanessa: But I'll know it's there. And what about all of your facials, as well as your weekly pedicures?

Naked Guy: Well look at me. You know I can barely reach my toes. I just try to look nice for you.

Vanessa: Then why did we join a health club if you won't even use the equipment?

Naked Guy: I knew YOU wanted to join. I tried a few times, but I started huffing and puffing so loudly that I thought I was going to explode. Not to mention how much I was sweating. Even old ladies laughed at me when I had trouble keeping up with them on the treadmill.  I didn't want to drag my vivacious wife down with me. (Vanessa moves closer, and takes his hand.)

Host: Okay, we are done here people. (motions to crew) Stop rolling.

Vanessa: So did I win the prize?

Host: You won big time, and it's all wrapped up in that nice, fluffy towel.