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Sunday, December 1st 2013

2:44 PM

What I've learned while being a care-giver?

Things mothers already know
  • Sharp knives go blade-down in the dishwasher
  • Don't leave the stove unattended while heating milk
  • Food tastes much better when you're not the one who cooked it
  • They should make half-sized Saran Wrap for smaller bowls
  • The bathroom is a good hiding place
  • Washing machines have a separate compartment for the bleach
  • When dicing onions...keep your index finger clear of the blade
  • The Fuller Brush Man hasn't come in years
  • It's mace in eggnog...not paprika!! I'm sure I'll never hear the end of that
  • There's never a fingertip bandaid around when you need it
  • Making the bed every day is a waste of time
  • More detergent does NOT make the clothes cleaner
  • There's really no time to watch The Price Is Right
  • After the meal is over...there's still more work to be done in the kitchen
  • There's a light in the oven
  • Soap suds are very difficult to get up off the floor
  • The mail comes at 4:30
  • The next meal is planned as soon the last dish is put away
  • I need warning before having people for dinner
  • Knives go to the right
  • Be careful how much flour you use when making brown gravy
  • The fork has no friend
  • Dishwashers alone do not make glasses sparkle. And I thought...
  • Everyone should wipe their feet when entering a house
  • Keep the whites separate
  • I'm not allowed to sew anymore
  • Turkeys take four hours a pound to defrost in the fridge
  • Nobody uses mops any more
  • You need to clean the filter after every dry cycle
  • It's called plastic wrap now
  • Floors are the most difficult things to keep clean
  • Folding underwear is waste of time
  • Always compliment the cook
  • All houses should have a dishwasher AND a pan washer
  • Permanent Press isn't
  • There is no time for reading during the day
  • It's a long walk from the clothes hamper to the washing machine
  • There is no use for two quarts of extra brown gravy
  • It's very difficult to wash the floor behind the toilet
  • Folding socks is a waste of time
  • Taking a cat-nap is much better than holding the remote
  • Floor sponges hold no water at all
  • All houses should be one level
  • Never fry bacon in your underwear
  • There's no light in the freezer
  • Three meals a day is far too many
  • Never put any...I mean any, colors in with the whites
  • It's also very difficult to wash the back of the toilet
  • Most day-time phone calls are tele-marketers
  • Please wait till my floor dries before walking on it
  • The bathroom is a good place to cry
  • Maybe they should take off their shoes instead
  • It's incredible how much hair can collect in the bathtub
  • It's not nice to leave clothes where they fall
  • Bring back the old fashioned mop
  • Never say, "What! Meatloaf again?" to the cook
  • BTW...it's nutmeg
  • Sometimes I'm just too tired to have sex
  • Eating Chocolate makes me close my eyes and moan now


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Tuesday, October 29th 2013

4:54 PM

Now she's forgetting her crutches and walker

Imagine! She left the couch today and went in to the kitchen only to realize that she forgot her crutches. I guess that must mean that she's feeling better, no?
Or was it because of that sponge bath I gave her this afternoon. Not being able to take a conventional shower until her stitches are out this coming Tuesday (two weeks after surgery), she's been giving herself sponge baths. Everyone certainly knows how satisfying those are. Right!!!!!
Well, today I gave her a sponge bath. It's pretty straight forward, except for the fact that you still can't get the operation wet. To make a long story short, I'll just say that we had many laughs along with way, sprinkled with many giggles. You can imagine the rest. It ended up to be one of my better days. Ut-oh, that doesn't sound right. It was one of her better days. Oops, that sounds worse. What I mean is that it's the first time where she could get up enough energy to stick to it. Even taking the better part of a half hour...Pam was a trooper, for sure. I'm proud of her. 
Then we went into the kitchen so I could wash her hair. I don't have to tell you the two most important facts of life to know...the first is "the quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach," and the second is the quickest way to a woman's heart is to wash her hair."
Of course, the latter one being third to...the first two most important fact of life on how to keep a woman happy. The first being something about remembering anniversaries and birthdays, and the second ties in with the first...buy them necklaces and bracelets for those anniversaries and birthdays.
All you young fellows out there....take note!!
See you tomorrow.
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Monday, October 28th 2013

2:24 PM

Pam is doing much better. That's great!!....or is it

Well, Pam's been home for seven days now, and it's been ten since her knee replacement surgery.
She's finally doing much better with her pain, which is a lot better now than a week ago. That's mostly because she has finally gotten into good regimen with her pain meds (that's short for medications...I'm learning so much). At first it was either too little or too many; the former being the worse, because it was very hard for her to do her physical therapy on a regular basis, having all that pain. So, one thing benefits the other, making her exercises the recommended three times a day now, which she had a hard time keeping up with in the earlier stages.
Like I said, her PT (short for Physical Therapist...see?) comes three times a week, and each time she comes she pulls out her goniometer to measure the operated leg. I just love using the trade terms. Makes me feel like I"m pre-med, or something.
Yes, that was goniometer....pronounced goniometer. It's a close resemblance to one of my woodworking tools.

So like I was saying...Pam is doing just great, and getting better day by day. One may think that's all good news. Not so. The guys will be more understanding as to why it's not that great a thing that Pam is moving around much better these days.
Let me back up a bit to better get to what I'm trying to explain here.
For the past forty-two years that we've been married, Pam has had one of those predominant woman's intuitions. What is it?
We husbands can get up from the couch for different reasons; getting a snack in the kitchen, getting the remote from the other chair, maybe a drink of water, getting the TV Guide to see when the game's starting. Here's where being a wife kicks in. It's the intuition where a wife somehow can tell when her husband gets up from the couch to go to the bathroom. It's a sure thing that it reminds her that she also has to go. Why is that? Like I said, it's been happening like clockwork for 42 years. We husbands always have to wait.
Well guys, that all changed this past week. I've been in my glory.
With her walker, it takes her forever to get to the john. As soon as I see her hand reach for the walker, I now jump up from the couch, run to the bathroom, do what I have to, including washing and drying my hands...and when I come out and head back to the couch...Pam isn't even halfway through the kitchen, let alone close to the bathroom.
I'm getting so confident now that I'm pretty sure I could even squeeze in a short shower, and still be dressed before she reaches the hallway. Then there's that telltale warning that she is getting closer; the thumping of the walker on the floor every time she takes one of her four inch steps.

Hmmmmm, maybe even a shave?
Guys!!!!! I'm in my glory. Or at least I was. She's getting better and faster day by day. I guess I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

I'll keep you all posted with her progress
If I'm still alive, that is....

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Saturday, October 26th 2013

4:41 PM

I took a furlough...then I had to do a wash

Let me set this up a bit for you, before we go on.
It's been more than a week since I've been outside. They were right when they said that the world of a care-giver isn't an easy one. Once in a while you'll find yourself sneaking over to a window, just to open it a crack to get a breath of fresh air. It isn't so much that the patient doesn't want you to do things like that...it's just that you don't want the patient to see you doing something that's not so easy for them to do.
You think this care-giving job is easy?
Today is when it happened. It's well known in the family that Richie and I act more like brothers than cousins.
I'll have to call him my savior! My cousin Richie called this morning just before I helped Pam with her physical therapy. When you're injured, or recovering from an operation like Pam's...it's called physical therapy. When you're healthy, it's called exercise. That's not me, that's just the way it is.
Anyway, Richie called and asked if I could come out to play. He was going to an electrical supply house in West Bridgewater, then to Attleboro to window shop at  Harbor Freight. You guys know what that is. For you ladies...Harbor Freight is....well....it's a...well...just think Macy's, or Bloomingdale's, or the biggest ladies shoe store you can imagine; all rolled into one. Hold that thought through the next paragraph.

Hanging up the phone I went into the den where Pam was icing her knee, after that strenuous session with PT (something else I learned. Us medical folks have abbreviations for just about everything). I told her that we probably needed a few things for the house. "One never knows when a light bulb will burn out, or a switch will stop...well....stop switching." I told her, and went on. "I'd better run to a few stores with my Cousin Richie to get some supplies. And besides, Pam...Suzie and the kids will be coming to visit for lunch. you'll be just fine." I said.

To make a long conversation, short...she asked me why I was going out to get electrical supplies and not food. I told her that this is much more important and that I'd get the food tomorrow.
It worked!!
When Richie came, and just before I turned to go out to his car...I detected a hidden smile on Pam's face as I kissed her. I was thinking that somehow she knew.

We had a wonderful time. I kept the window open in the car all the way to Baynes Electric. While Richie was talking to the guy, I walked around the store touching everything in sight. I was in my glory. It was like I had forgotten how it felt. It was like tagging along with my father, years ago, doing things that men do. Will he take me to Home Depot on our way home? I shutter!

Then we shot over to Attleboro, to Harbor Freight. That's when it really hit me. All those tools! Compressors, wrenches, dollies, hatchets, hammers, cutters. I didn't know which isle to go down first. Richie seemed much more relaxed than I. He was used to this.
Sneaking into a corner, I called Pam on my cell to see if she was alright.
"How's it going," She said.
"It's a good thing I came out here. I didn't realize how many things we needed."

After the better part of an hour, we left Harbor Freight without buying anything.
The whole trip took three and a half hours, getting back just in time to visit with two of my grandchildren.
It was good to see Pam...smiling as she does when any of our grand kids come to visit.
Still feeling guilty for having such a good time, I did a wash. A white wash.
I found out today that not many of us men know how to separate the whites from the darks. There's more to it than meets the eye. Things like...what if there's a white shirt with a colored emblem? Or light pink panties? Socks with a thin dark blue stripe at the toe.
It's not easy.
Then there's cold water, cold-hot, hot, warm. Not to mention how much detergent...how much bleach.
The clothes are washing now. I'll just about have enough time to switch them to the dryer before setting the table for supper.
I'll end with one thought.
Why didn't I think of making a liquid detergent bottle like that. You can use the cap to measure, then,  because of the configuration of the bottle and cap, it goes back, without dripping.
Ingenious design. 

I'll have to remember to call my cousin later this evening to thank him for my "day out"


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Thursday, October 24th 2013

3:45 PM

The VNA nurse came today

The Nurse from the VNA came today at about noon, mostly for an introduction and to see if there was an actual patient living here named Pam. You all know the drill; date of birth, weight, and all of the other assorted bits of information that it seems the whole world knows by now. Think about it...how many times do we have to repeat the same information, day in and day out...at the doctor's office, checking into motels and hotels, gaining entrance to our grand kid's school, etc. It's a wonder that the the local supermarket doesn't ask us our date of birth, or what persuasion we are.
I digress.
The nurse came today.
I must admit to throwing Pam under the bus more than once or twice, telling the nurse that she wasn't doing her exercises as religiously as she should, and she wasn't drinking enough water. I found that was a big mistake right from the get-go.
She also checked Pam's incision and said it looked wonderful. A rebuilt '57 Chevy looks wonderful...a bikini clad twenty-something, looks wonderful. But an incision? Still tied with stitches? I guess it's one's perspective.

She told Pam that she could leave the bandage off from here on out. That was good news, for sure. Less irritation. The stitches come out a week from tomorrow, which puts it exactly two weeks after surgery. Wow, it'll be one full week tomorrow, which reminds me, I'm out of Ritz Crackers. Out of cheese too. Maybe get a little peanut butter.
Blood pressure was good, also her oxygen was good.
Oxygen!! I don't recall having any oxygen at all when I was a kid. Who knew how much we had in our system. If a person was pink, they had oxygen...if they were blue, they were choking. These days everything's oxygen. They say it should be in the mid nineties. Pam's was eighty- nine. She told Pam to take two deep breaths. It went up to ninety-five. The nurse was happy. Go figure. Are six points that important?

Pam's sister, Sue, came today. A two hour trip, all the way from Connecticut. What a nice surprise that was. Pam was in her glory. Sue brought a wonderful lunch, complete with three great sandwich salads...tuna, shrimp, and egg...along with jars of olives, pickled cucumbers, there were three cheese dips, tonic, crackers, and what-have-you. Thanks Sis!! It was great seeing you. 

Back to reality.
I had Pam go through all of her exercises after the nurse left, survived all thrown projectiles, bad language, and dagger slinging stares without a hitch. It took the better part of an hour. It's been three hours since her exercises and she finally started speaking to me again. I think it was because it took her that long to catch her breath. Ah...that oxygen again. Maybe if she spent more time breathing instead of holding her breath to show how upset she was at me for being such a drill sergeant about her exercises, she'd have more of that precious oxygen in her system.

I could slack off with my persistence but i do love that gal so.

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Wednesday, October 23rd 2013

11:27 AM

Things I've learned while being the care-giver for a knee transplant patient

1. While the patient is lying on her back on the bed
  • Never push down on the knee while trying to straighten the leg out those final few degrees (as the doctor ordered). . . without wearing a football helmet and hockey mask.
  • When putting that pillow under her ankle, to straighten out her knee, never use one with a thickness of over one sixteenth of an inch, unless you have a clear escape path to the door.
  • Pertaining to above. Never leave her crutches within arms reach.
  • While doing the quad-lift exercises, never, never say "let's do it one more time," while her hand is anywhere near your crotch.
  • In describing the knee, always pertain to it as 'swollen' and not, "I think your right knee is fatter than your left." (using the word 'swollen' is still borderline). Maybe, "your left knee looks thinner than your right." would be safer.
2. While helping the patient get into bed
  • Following her, on her walker, to the bedroom, never say things like, "Could you go a little faster? The commercial is almost over."
  • While helping the operated knee up on the bed, make sure her other leg isn't, is not... between your legs
3. While she is at rest in living room
  • Never say, "Are you drinking enough water?" If her glass is within arm's reach.
  • While changing her dressing. . . Never say, "Wow, that's a big scar."
  • If she wants to change the station.  Men...these are not normal times. Let her. Or, believe me...you will need a doctor to find the remote.
  • When helping her put on her calf stockings...Don't!!
  • While she's on a blood thinner, never say, "I'm going to have a nice big glass of wine."
Also, when preparing for her to come home, supplies you will need.
  • Ice packs for your forehead, and assorted bruises
  • Dark glasses to hide your black eye....or eyes
  • At least one arm sling...just in case
  • Crutches...for you. Men will understand why it'll be difficult to walk
  • Two bottles of wine
  • One bottle of scotch, for severe circumstances
  • Hide wine and scotch in the cellar
What has been the biggest surprise in all of this...
In our 42 years of marriage, I had no idea Pam knew such language. I've always thought it was reserved for the U.S Navy.
Wait, I was in the Navy. I've learned a few more choice ones this past week.
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Monday, October 21st 2013

3:22 PM

Pam's back home

The Eagle has landed!!
No, no...that sounds terrible.
The Dove has perched!!
That's dumb.
Lemmee think.
My Chickadee is home!!
Scratch that. I never did like WC Fields.

Ok, to avoid the risk of making it sound too profound.
Pam's home!!
That should be all in caps, too.

We just got home.
Sorry I didn't get my Morning Report out this morning, but I had to get to the hospital earlier than usual.

We dropped off a few prescriptions on the way home, then Pam got out of the car (she did it on her own)...used crutches to get into the house, managing the six brick front steps...then very nicely maneuvered the six steps in the house. I set her up in a nice straight-backed kitchen chair in front of the TV with her (my) clicker and returned to the store to pick up her script.
When I got back, she was still on the chair, fully decided that she needed a nap.
I just tucked her in. She also sounded very positive, telling me that her pain was a 2.
That's hospital talk for pain. I catch on fast. I've been getting very educated this past week. Let me tell you, a 2 is much better than two days ago when they couldn't get it below a ten for some time, so that was good news for me.
I must confess, as soon as I closed the bedroom door just now, I ran to the fridge and poured myself a tall glass of wine. Pam can't have wine while she's on those pain pills. She'll never know. I'll have to remember to use a little Listerine.

The visiting nurse will be here tomorrow, following up with three times a week. They will be taking out the stitches in two weeks. Also, Pam's doctor says no shower for two weeks, until they come out. Just sponge baths.
Today was on-the-job training day. They brought Pam into a fully, set-up kitchen, with refrigerator, stove, sink, counter tops...the whole nine yards. They even had a make shift, full sized car in the corner. Everything they could think of to train her how to do things when she got home. It was amazing. The only thing they didn't have that I  would have liked to see was a lawn mower, and garden rake. But that's ok...I'm thinking that maybe the visiting nurses will tend to that training.  A little each day is much better.

Suzie is coming this evening with two of the grand kiddies. That should be the best medicine Pam could get right now. She said she's bringing a full chicken dinner, which will be the best medicine for Pops. That's for sure.
So, this will be the last Pam Watch email. Thanks to all for listening to my diatribes through all of this. It always helps to talk to friends when challenges face us, and I thank everyone for being so sensitive with me.
I know that I can get a bit wordy at times. At least that's what Pam says. I know...I know...it's hard to believe.
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Sunday, October 20th 2013

9:18 AM

The Pam Watch continues

Previously on the Pam Watch....
As you can see, I watch too much TV. Let me begin again.

I'll be going back to the hospital soon. It's now 8 am (Thursday). I just got off of the phone with Pam for her daily report.
She had a tougher night than the night before. Seems the pain was quite intense. Reason being is that it's the first night without the nerve block in the front part of the knee, so she said she felt new pains. The good thing is that they did finally adjust the meds to go along with the new situation. Another good sign is that they settled on two pain killers instead of the three she was getting the previous night. So that, without the nerve block, looks like a good sign.
Another thing is that her blood pressure was low during the night, so they worked on getting it back up. She did mention 90 over 68 at one point. I wish I had known that. They should have called me. All they had to do was tell them they saw a spider in her room. That would have done the trick.
I'll mention that to the staff when I get there later this morning.
Oh, they took one more hoses out this morning. I won't go into which one, for fear of embarrassing her. But I can say that Pam said that they'll be waiting to see if she can go on her own. Whatever that means.
Another thing is that they'll be leaving the IV in until they get that blood pressure steady, and back up to normal on a regular basis. Like I said though...that will be rectified when I get there. Maybe I'll bring one of our resident spiders.
She walked a little more yesterday and sat in a chair to eat lunch. They took the brace off while she was in the chair so she could bend the knee. Today it'll be learning to walk on crutches, graduating from the walker. They'd rather her not to use the walker at home.
She'll also be doing stairs today, in preparation for tomorrow's discharge. They were talking about her leaving today, but she wants to stay one more day until her original scheduled date, tomorrow. Not sure, but maybe that blood pressure incident will keep it to tomorrow.

Me? I'm doing just fine...heated up some macaroni last night, along with two meatballs and one hot sausage. Pam made a big pot of gravy, with all of the meat trimmings, before she left. But I do have to make my own snacks. I had no idea it was so easy to make onion dip. Just to let anyone who isn't aware, the instructions are right on the back of the package. Also, I was tempted to cook some of those mushrooms I picked last week, but I'd better wait for Pam's supervision for that. I can't wait.
I'll have to build some sort of tennis referee's chair for her and put it in the middle of the kitchen for when she comes home. She can coach me from there.
I'm starving!
And another thing. I can't, for the life of me, find the washing machine manual. Why in the world did they have to put four dials on top? Just to confuse people? I always thought it was "wash" and "stop."

And I'll have to make my own bacon and eggs this morning, that's one thing she didn't make in advance.
And Pam did all of this while raising three kids? And me?

Oh, I do take the laptop into the hospital, so she's keeping up with her emails. Not quite up to answering them yet, but she does see them.
Thanks for listening. I need to talk to someone in this quiet house.
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Saturday, October 19th 2013

8:15 AM

The morning after the procedure

Hi all!
I'll try to make this brief, and to the point as I'm busy cooking breakfast and cleaning house, not to mention getting my own snacks last night. These house chores are quite something indeed.
Don't tell Pam though. I told her that all was going well on the home front. I was even able to cut my own cheese and pepperone for my Ritz crackers last night. I'm still not sure why she had to hide those band aids in the far corner of the linen closet. I just thought of something. It just dawned on me...maybe there's some in the medicine cabinet. Oh well...

Yesterday I got back to the hospital at about 1 pm. She was awake and alert. Not too shabby, being only five hours since her surgery. There was enough ice packed on her knee to service the USS Enterprise. There was also many assorted tubes attached to her, but we won't go into that. I'd hate to make anyone whoozie.
Hold on...I need to get a glass of cold water.
I'm back...whew, that was close..but I digress.

It wasn't long before the physical therapy guys came in. Two young strapping fellows, looking like they just came from the gym. It was obvious that Pam didn't mind that at all. I spent the better part of the next five minutes trying to keep the back of her johnny closed. Geez!!

Anyway, they helped her out of bed for her first walk. Imagine, here it was, no more than six hours after her surgery and here she was, going for her first walk.
Letting her push herself onto the walker from the bed, alone, they stood by her side as she walked to the door, and back. It was slow, but she did just fine. I think the anticipation was the hardest part for her. She did just fine. That's my gal.

Remember, she does have a nerve block for the front part of the knee, which I'm sure helped her through this part of the rehab.
Getting her back into bed and lying her on her back, one of the guys bent her knee while recording the maximum angle of bend. He was very pleased as it was 87º. Like I said, he was impressed and said that she was ahead of the game at this point. That was good to hear. He also said not to be surprised if there was less of a bend tomorrow (today), after they take the nerve block out.

Luckily, her roommate is a nice lady from the western part of the commonwealth. Her daughter is one of the nurses which I'm sure will help to have that connection. Who knows...maybe it'll get Pam an extra container of Jello. Oh, I almost forgot...Pam's on a liquid diet for now. She's hoping to be on solids by the end of the day, today. We'll see. Speaking of food, I had dinner with her last night. She had chicken broth with Jello, (one tub, humph) along with some tea and I got some cafeteria food. Chicken cordon bleu, broccoli and mashed potatoes. Pam said she didn't mind. I think she did. But that's Pam.
I got her a coffee from the caf. Pam's not a tea drinker.

She does have that nerve block, blocking the feeling in the front part of the knee, she's also taking two pain killers every three hours. They upped her dosage late afternoon, because the pain was getting worse. She called me this morning at six, telling me that they upped it again last night, after I left.
They woke her up every three hours for her meds and readings...or whatever they take.
She said she didn't sleep that well, but did get enough..off and on. They did tell her to call the staff if she wanted to turn onto her side, but she stayed on hre back all night. Pam's not a "lie on your back sleeper," but she didn't want to cause trouble, so she never did call them to turn her. That's my wife. She'd rather tough it out, than bother anyone. Anyway, all in all, I think she had a good night.

The PT guys said they'll probably take her down the back stairway today to get her ready for going home. Seems they can't let you go home until you can maneuver stairs. The plan is to come home Friday, but Thursday isn't out of the question.
I told Pam to push for Friday. It won't kill me to survive with saltines and water for one more day.

I'll keep you all posted as best I can.
Needless to say, she'll need lots of prayers and love to help get though this. Thanks, I'm sure she can depend on you guys.
Did I say I'll be taking her laptop in today? She'll be able to read all your emails.
That'll be nice, I'm sure.
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Friday, October 18th 2013

10:04 AM

The Doctor Called

Doctor Scott just called.
I guess he knows what he's doing. He said around ten. He called at two minutes before.
Anyway...he said all went well. She has full mobility and should recover very nicely.
Whoot, whoot.
Maybe I won't have to mow the lawn and weed whack this coming weekend after all.

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