Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Back in the Hole

So I just had to sign the paper that says I'm in the hole by 42 PTO hours.
I had actually ventured into positive territory in April - made it all the way up to 7 hours. Turns out I've used 12 days so far this year. I'm not sorry though. I'm glad I took the time off to stay home with Gma and my family, even if Mom's extended family drives me nuts at times.

In fact, some of the days were really nice. The week before Gma went into the hospital, I decided to stay home even though I didn't really need to. My Mom and aunt Lisa were there, so I didn't need to take care of Gma, but we had a lovely day. Bobby and I worked on the company for a couple hours in the back room, and then we spent most of the day on the back patio, watering the grass and plants, having a nice lunch, napping on the hammock. Very relaxing - like we were on vacation or something. I'm really sad that she is gone, but at the same time, I'm glad she suffered so little and was surrounded by her family (regardless of how quirky they all are), and I'm really glad I took the time off that I did to spend with her.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Gma died a little over an hour ago. Thankfully she was in relatively little pain. Jessica and Nathan made it out this morning (my Gpa told my mom no one should have to pay to come out, so he essentially bought their flight out), and yesterday all of her children were together for the first time in 20 years.

I called Jessica yesterday morning to tell her I didn't think Gma would make it through the day. She and Nathan then arranged to come out ASAP, with Mom's help. Yesterday the family also arranged for Gpa to come out from the nursing home (hired a transport). He was over for about an hour, and although she was very weak, she was lucid for our little party. After they took her back in the house, my aunt Marie came out to tell Gpa how glad she was that he was able to come out and he just broke down. I've never seen someone sob like that; it was incredibly heartbreaking. I looked into the house and saw all my cousins with swollen eyes, and it was all I could do to make it into the front yard before I broke.

Today she was in bed all day, but thanks to Mom and her diligent siblings, all were there to make her as comfortable as possible, and administer her morphine regularly to keep her from pain. She stopped breathing at 8:28pm.

I am sad to see her go, but I am eternally grateful that she did not suffer long, and that she was surrounded by so many people that loved her.

Terminal Anxiety

When I got home from the flood there was a big truck in my driveway. It looked familiar, and I'd even pegged it as my chiropractor's truck, but it seemed really strange that she would be over in the middle of a Saturday night. (My chiropractor is more than my chiropractor, she is also my mom's and Gma's chiropractor, and a family friend - she and my mom have been good friends since high school.)

When I made it inside, I learned why Nancy was there. Gma was experiencing terminal anxiety - she was afraid that if she went to sleep she wouldn't wake up. My mom and aunts would sit with her and convince her to lie down, but then she would immediately try to get back up, but she had become very weak.

Mom and The Aunts were doing everything they could to make her comfortable, talk to her, soothe her - but Mom was finally at a loss and called Nancy.

Gma has scoliosis, and has been seeing Nancy a couple times a week for years. They had become very close over the years, and Gma would have said that Nancy was one of her best friends.

Nancy was truly a calming force for everyone. She continued to just try making Gma as comfortable as possible, and acted as relief for Mom and The Aunts. When I got there, I sat up with everyone for a little while, but I realized there was nothing I could do to help, and guessed that someone would need to get some sleep so they were coherant in the morning. I told Mom that I trusted that she would wake me if she needed me for anything, and went to bed.

Finally, very late this morning, Gma was sitting up and just passed out with her head resting on Nancy's chest. She slept like that for about an hour, and after that they were able to get her to lie down and go to sleep.

This morning I woke up and tried to make sure everyone had soemthing to eat. It was a full house again, with all The Aunts and Uncles doing what they could.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Flood

Brian came over yesterday and he and Bobby went to bed at about midnight, then woke up at 4am and headed to the job site, so while I was barbecuing with my family, they were working. Just before 8pm Bobby calls, "Babe! I need you to get the shop vac and bring it to the job site now!"
"OK, what happened?"
"A flood, babe, just get down here."

I get our wussy-ass shop vac, put it in the Accord, and start out. About 5 minutes down the road, he calls back.
"I'm sorry I was short. Did you happen to bring the floodlights?"
Did you ask me to bring floodlights, I think to myself. "No"
"OK, I found a shop vac here that we are using, but I need you to turn around and get the floodlights and bring both down here."

So I turn around. When I finally get there, I walk over to the stairs and see a paper that reads "Century Transport, 2nd Flood" It was a typo, supposed to read "2nd Floor" Appropriate typo though.

Then Brian walks up. He is covered in black I-don't-know-what. (A little trivia for y'all: the water that comes out of fire sprinklers when they go off is not the nice clean water you see come out in the movies. It is greasy and black and disgusting, and will ruin your clothes or whatever they happen to spray on.) Bobby said that Brian looked better than right after it happened. Then he'd looked like he'd just struck oil. A sprinkler had broken and started dumping huge amounts of water that then leaked down to the first floor onto the first job. Bobby was so stressed out - worried that he was going to have to pay for damage. They tried cleaning the walls, but it just rubbed the texture off so they stopped.

So Bobby asks me to go to Home Depot and pick up a bunch of janitorial supplies and a good shop vac. $450 and over an hour later, I return. Just before I left to pick up dinner (they were clearly going to be there awhile cleaning up), they turned the system back on. Bobby called Brian, who was in the other room) to asked what he wanted to eat, and Brian answered with, "The firetrucks are here." Turning on the system had triggered a silent alarm, but when Brian walked up to the truck covered in blackness and said, "We had a sprinkler bust," they just nodded and drove off.

After I ate with them I went back home while they stayed to clean up. They didn't make it home until about 3:30 in the morning. Luckily Gma's bathroom is attached to the garage, so when they did get home they didn't even have to walk through the house to get to the shower. But then Brian plugged his phone in inside the truck, and closed the door that self locks - locking his phone and the keys in the truck that is not running but is on to charge the phone.

Right about then Bobby finds out that Brian and his wife had plans to see a movie that night - didn't expect to be out working that late. Bobby felt really bad, didn't know he'd been spoiling any plans. But having Brian there was really helpful.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Cat Loves Her

After work yesterday I went to visit Gma in the hospital. She had just awakened from her 2nd two-hour nap of the day. They have her on Vicodin and some sleeping aids, so her dementia was full on. She made very little sense, and seemed very week. I said Lucas missed her, and told her the story. That stuck. When the nurse came in, she said, "The cat loves me, isn't that wonderful?" Again, when my aunt arrived, "The cat loves me." She's known him such a short time, but he has become very important to her. Mom was telling me she wishes she could bring the cat to the hospital.

Today was long and busy. Mom called with an update. Whether Gma can come home or not depends on whether or not she needs an IV. If she needs an IV, they are going to need to put her in a nursing home, so Mom went to talk to the folks at Gpa's nursing home. She broke down and started crying while she was there. She hadn't done that yet. I'm sure she's figuring that she'll be able to cry about it when it's over, but today it didn't want to wait. I talked to Bobby. Mom told him that Gma's kidneys are functioning at 15%, and her heart at about 20%. She probably only has a few weeks left in her.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Pet Connection

When we got home today, our cat Lucas was distraught. He would meow and go to Gma's door, meow, look at her bed, look at me, and meow. Likes he's demanding to know where she is and when she's coming home. Amazing how animals can find a way to relate something to you. A little tougher for me to answer him.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Disneyland Passes

This morning we picked up Emma at her great-grandparents' house in Garden Grove, and went straight to Disneyland. We don't usually go that early, so we're not used to waiting in a line to park, and then the lady at the ticket counter took for-ev-er to renew our three passes. And because she couldn't find Emma's account, she just created a new one for her, meaning we had to go into California Adventure to pick up our passes that were already being printed out, then go into Disneyland to have Emma's picture re-taken to make her pass. We picked up ours and decided we'd wait until later in the day to actually pick hers up. We'd already spent too much time on this as it was.

But then we let her get her face painted... so when we went to get her picture taken right before we left, they wouldn't do it. The guy just wrote on the ticket so she can get in another day to take her picture. I felt silly.

When we got home and had something to eat, my aunt came by. She had just come from the hospital. She said that morning Gma was so weak she was sure she was going to die that day, but the cardiologist came to see her, diagnosed her with congestive heart failure, started treating her for that, and now she was looking better. Turns out the swelling in her legs was blood pooling because her heart wasn't pumping it back up. They wanted to keep her for 4 more days. All my aunts and uncles are taking turns being at the hospital 24/7.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Busy Afternoon

Near the end of the work day, Bobby called. Could I leave early, drive to Stanton to pick up an order before they close at 5pm, then drive it down to the job site in Huntington Beach? He and his brother were going to finish up most of the install. So I left early (even though I'm about a day behind), and did just that. When I got there, Bobby said his car wouldn't start. He'd been listening to the radio and working, and suddenly it had just cut out.

Luckily, I always carry jumper cables. So we hook it up and... nothing. Still won't start.

I'll call AAA, have the car taken to the dealer, go with it and leave my car for Bobby while they work. Then I'll just have Mom pick me up.
So I look at my phone, and I have a missed call from Mom. I call AAA first, then call her back. I tell her I was going to call her, and noticed that she had called, then explain the situation and ask if she can come get me.

"Um... " (long pause)..."yeah."
Then she tells me why she called.
Gma's legs have been swelling for awhile now. Apparently people with her type of cancer often wind up dying of kidney failure, and her kidneys were operating at about 15%, so the doc had recently taken her off some drugs for her heart that have adverse effects on kidneys. The thinking was that her weak kidneys were allowing excess fluid to accumulate in her body. We were told to limit her fluid and sodium intake.

This morning Gma had complained that she was so swollen that it took her 45 minutes to find a pair of pants that would fit her. So my mom called the doctor's office, and asked what to do. The doc wasn't in, so they said to just go to the emergency room. When they got there, they got her an oxygen mask, and checked her in, but she wasn't actually seen for another 4 hours - they had two different 5-year-old children come in, both of which barely lived (one had been choking on a peice of food and was still choking when they got to the hospital; they wound up having to cut his throat open to get it out), so they were a little preoccupied. Gma was patient.

Once she finally saw the doctor, Mom explained her diagnosis and the situation. When the doctor left, the nurse asked Mom if she had a medical degree. She'd spent so much time trying to understand everything the doctor has been telling her so that she could relate it to her family, that she sounds like a doctor. The doctors wanted to keep her at the hospital for a few days. So yes, she could pick me up, but she was going right back to the hospital later.

(In making calls to the family to give the update, Mom talked to Rachel, and later said it seemed to dawn on Rachel why Mom had previously said it was too much responsibility for her. I think she realized then that she really wasn't ready for that, and really it was just that her pride was hurt.)

Back at the job site, Brian shows up and they are talking about the car, trying to see if they can figure out what is wrong. Bobby pulls out the owner's manual, "No way!" They tried jumping the car again, this time reading the directions, and... it works! Bobby joked that he felt like less of a man for having to read the directions.

I call AAA back to cancel the tow, and call Mom to let her know. Then I go to get some food for all of us, when Bobby calls again. They've cut a hole in a pipe and now they need to drain the system. They bust a pipe, can I drive home, pick up the hose and bring it back? Ugh. OK. Seemed like I did a lot of driving that day due to some poor planning.