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Friday, August 25, 2006Normal
My husband has a seizure disorder. A "normal" seizure for him is what's called a Complex Partial Seizure, and generally consists of him spacing out for a minute, curling his hands in and making an odd chewing noise. After the seizure he'll have short-term memory loss for up to an hour. We've been through numerous medication adjustments, but since I started keeping track of the seizures last November he's been having them at least four times a month. He never remembers the seizure afterwards, so he may be having more that I'm not seeing.
On June 2, he had his first Tonic-Clonic Seizure (also referred to as a Grand Mal). This happened at 5am, when I woke to the sound of jingling car keys and his voice repeating the same phrase over and over. The convulsions started soon afterward. I called 911, got dressed, and woke my daughter up. If I had gone to the the B-List Bloggers Convention like I wanted to, she would have been handling it alone.
As terrifying as the seizure itself was to watch, the period immediately afterward scared me even more. He constantly wanted to get out of bed, or pull his IV out, and I was always the person to stop him. He didn't know who I was, but he knew I was the "enemy", and would give me a look of complete and utter disgust whenever he glanced my way. When he did start talking, he made no sense whatsoever. He would string a group of random words together as if it were a sentence. I'd lived all this before, after the initial head injury, and was afraid the seizure had caused a new injury. The last time it took eight months of therapy for him to even remotely resemble "normal", and I didn't know if I could handle going through all that again.
As it turns out, this was the "postictal" period, which is a period of confusion immediately following a tonic-clonic seizure. There was no new injury, and by afternoon he knew my name. When night fell and he still wasn't saying anything that made sense, they admitted him for the night. By the next morning you could hold a conversation with him, although he'd frequently repeat things, and by afternoon the doctors let him come home. They adjusted the medication again, and I went out and bought two books on seizure disorders. We kept him supervised for the first few weeks, then gradually started leaving him home alone for progressively longer periods. Once the MedicAlert necklace came in the mail, I let him start walking the dog again on his own, although now he took his cellphone with him. Life went on.
Because small seizures often preceed large seizures, we watched him carefully whenever he had one of his usual small seizures. We were given a prescription of Diastat, which is a Valium injection that can be used to stop a seizure in progress, or to prevent a seizure that seems imminent. Diastat is a rectal injection, so we decided that I would be the only one to administer it (anyone else would call 911).
The second Grand Mal seizure happened three states away, where he was spending the weekend at a racetrack with some friends. By the time I arrived at the hospital 5 hours after the seizure, he already knew who I was and could talk normally, which was a giant improvement over the last time, so we checked him out against medical advice and drove home. The doctor wanted to keep him overnight for observation, saying he could have another seizure on the way home, but my response was, "Yes, but that won't change tomorrow, and we have to drive home eventually."
He improved so quickly after the second seizure that it gave me a false sense of security. A lot of people live with epilepsy. Obviously the first seizure was not an isolated incident, as I wanted to believe, so we'd just have to learn to live with it. Other people do. There was no way we could do 24 hour supervision after every seizure if these were going to happen regularly, so we'd just have to accept that eventually he'd have a Grand Mal when he was alone, and he'd sleep it off afterwards. We still watched him after the small seizures, but for a few hours, instead of a few days. We'd gotten used to the small seizures, and eventually the big ones would become "normal" too.
In the weeks after the first seizure, our daughter provided most of the supervision when I had to work. She didn't want to do it any more than I wanted her to, but we didn't have alot of options; My hours are flexible at work, but that doesn't mean I can just stop going. I knew all along there was the possibility he'd have a Grand Mal when she was alone with him, but I hoped it wouldn't happen. Tuesday, it did.
She came downstairs to find him acting erractically, and it didn't take her long to figure out that this wasn't a regular seizure. I was at work twenty minutes away, but fortunately my neighbor was home, and came over and stayed with them. My neighbor has a brother who has had seizures since childhood, so she knew what to do. The actual convulsions were about 3-4 minutes (they tell you to call 911 if the convulsions last longer than 5 minutes), but the errectic behavior leading up to the convulsions was at least fifteen minutes long. It was horribly, horribly traumatic for a 15-year-old to watch her father go through. By the time I got there it was over, although I ended up giving him the Diastat anyway because he started jerking his neck, which we figured was either an attempt to get up off the floor or the start of another seizure, and we didn't want to take chances.
This time, he didn't come out of the postictal period so soon. In the first three days after the Grand Mal, he had at least four small seizures, and the symptoms seem to have changed. He no longer makes the "chewing" noise, and instead repeats a phrase (or what in his mind is a phrase...Often it doesn't make sense) over and over. The most recent seizure, last night, was a particularly scary incident in the car involving a lighter and as many cigarettes as he could light before I could get the lighter away from him (I was driving).
I don't see how this will ever be "normal".
Posted by The Gradual Gardener :: 7:30 PM :: 14 Comments: ---------------------------------------
Sunday, May 07, 2006No, I'm Not Dead...
...My legs wouldn't hurt this much if I were. But spring has sprung, and although I'm not officially planting yet (still a danger of frost), I am back to work. This time of year, work consists of tilling and shaping my flower beds, and gathering plants. The gathering plants part is what's mostly responsible for the sore legs. LOTS of bending over and straightening up again. LOTS. I like to choose my own plant material whenever possible, and since I drive a pickup truck, not, say, a tractor trailer, I make quite a few trips to greenhouses. The truck bed holds 26 dozen 4" pots, and I plant thousands. You do the math. Some do get delivered, but unfortunately my biggest delivery DOES come in a tractor trailer, which is too big to back down the driveway at my holdover location. So the plants are unloaded on the ground at the top of the driveway, the driver gets his signature and goes on his merry way, and I get to reload them on my own truck and back them down the driveway to unload them again. This year, that took seven trips up and down the driveway. LOTS AND LOTS OF BENDING. And once they're in my holdover spot, they need to be separated so they have some air circulation. Which requires more bending. Seriously, the backs of my thighs feel like they're on fire.
Not that I'm complaining. I really do love my job. Besides, you have to keep it in perspective: Other people pay money to go to the gym; I get paid to do this. It's all good. But it does interfere with my blogging. Yeah, I know, many of you work full-time and still find time to blog, and others take care of small children full-time and blog, and a few work full-time AND take care of small children and still manage to update at least a few times a week (Wonder Woman has nothing on you). Busy season or not, I could sneak in updates here and there. But the really messed up part, which is probably something I should talk to my therapist about (my therapist being my neighbor and a bottle of wine), is that it feels wrong to update my own blog when I don't have time to read everyone else's. It's okay once in a while, but if I do too many posts without catching up on all my friends' blogs, I feel like I'm saying, "I'd like you to read my blog, but I'm too busy to bother with reading yours." As if what I have to say is more important than what YOU have to say. And that feels wrong.
Anyway, enough self-therapy for today...I'm off to dig up 2800 bulbs. Which requires some more BENDING.
Posted by The Gradual Gardener :: 6:02 AM :: 18 Comments: ---------------------------------------
Friday, April 21, 2006Time To Break The Sad News
I've been putting this off in the hopes that something would change, but I guess it's time to face facts: I won't be able to attend B-List Blog Chicks.
I've thought it out from every angle, and no matter which way I finagle it, it's just not feasable. The weekend in question is right smack in the middle of my planting season. If it were even one week later I might be able to work something out, but the bottom line is that I will only have been planting for two weeks by the scheduled date. Which means I will still have over a thousand plants sitting in four-inch pots, waiting to be put in the ground. And the thing with four-inch pots is that they need water daily. Sometimes twice a day, if it's particularly hot out. And although I could probably con someone into doing this chore for me (Hi Mom), there's still the beds already planted, which need daily watering the first week. And THAT requires lugging hoses and sprinklers. Not to mention the fact that once the danger of frost has passed there's a pretty big push on to get everything in the ground as quickly as possible, and explaining to my boss why I will be skipping out in the middle of that might be awkward (You want to go to a what?). He's a good guy; he wouldn't tell me I couldn't go. But it would create a very stressful situation for me on my return, struggling to make up lost time to prove (mostly to myself) that the time off didn't affect my work. Because let's face it, it would. And with my luck, it would rain for three days just before I left and another two when I got back, with three gorgeous, sunny days in between that I could have been working.
However, the potential for rain, if timed correctly, could be my ray of sunshine. If they're predicting rain for the actual trip days, I may be able to buy a last-minute plane ticket and hop on over. So cross your fingers and hope for a monsoon (for this area, not where B-List Blog Chicks is taking place).
*Sigh* I love my job, but missing this will totally suck.
Posted by The Gradual Gardener :: 9:44 AM :: 14 Comments: ---------------------------------------
Thursday, April 20, 2006Advice
1. To the lady in the green Land Rover who was following me on the highway yesterday: It makes me very nervous when you drive 2 inches from my bumper at highway speeds while talking on your cellphone, especially when objects stashed behind your rearview mirror keep falling on your lap. Constantly turning around to yell at the child in the back seat doesn't help either. Apparently you are very adept at multi-tasking, because several times I expected your exceptionally large vehicle to end up in my backseat, yet you somehow managed to prevent this from happening. A few tips for making your future driving expeditions less stressful for both of us: First of all, go buy yourself a hands-free headset. Setting your cellphone to speaker, and then constantly switching it from your ear to your mouth and back again does not qualify as "hands-free." If you can afford the Land Rover, you can afford the $20 headset. Secondly: If you want to drive faster than me, you might want to try the left or center lanes. Just an idea.
2. To the guy in the blue BMW who was following me on the parkway yesterday, after I finally managed to ditch Land Rover Lady: While I appreciate that you kept a reasonable distance from my bumper, and that you did not turn to yell at unruly children or chat on your cellphone, you should be aware that picking your nose while you're driving just increases the usage of that old "money can't buy class" joke. That fact that you don't have any passengers does not mean that nobody can see you. You are, after all, completely surrounded by glass. Just something to think about.
3. To the receptionist at the Veterinarian office: According to Webster, the definition of "receptionist" is "one employed to greet telephone callers, visitors, patients, or clients." Therefore, when I come in and stand in front of your desk, it is your job to acknowledge my presence in some way. If you are helping an elderly woman who has gone and sat back down in her seat while looking through her purse, all you have to do is say something along the lines of "Have a seat, I'll be with you shortly." When I finally go sit down on my own after you spend several minutes refusing to make eye contact with me, and after the elderly woman finally returns to pay her bill, you might want to limit the amount of time you spend telling her in great detail about your sister-in-law's friend's neighbor, who found her mother's body while stopping in for a visit. Yes, that is a tragedy to be sure, but you have a customer waiting, and the sister-in-law's friend's neighbor might not appreciate you gossiping about what condition she found her mother's body in. Oh, and another tip: If I walk in without a pet, it's probably safe to assume I'm there to pick one up. Loudly asking "Do you have an appointment" across the waiting room in the middle of your conversation with the elderly lady, when enough time has passed that even you realize you're being rude, does not make you seem any less ignorant. No, I do not have an appointment to have the Vet check out my invisble pet.
4. To the rest of the staff at Veterinarian's office, including both women I spoke with on the phone when making and then confirming the appointment, and the morning receptionist who took my cat from me the day of surgery: If I have a certificate from the Humane Society for a free spay/neuter, and I have confirmed with each of you that you participate in the program and accept said certificate, do not be surprised when I am upset by the $256 bill you present me with when I arrive to pick my kitty up. And the fact that the Humane Society only reimburses you $35 when you normally charge $350 is not my problem. If you are unhappy with their reimbursement rates you should withdraw from the program instead of complaining to customers about it. Sending the Vet in to discuss the bill with me after the surgery will not improve my opinion of your office. The proper time to discuss additional charges, like $118.84 for a pre-surgery exam and $40.65 for anesthesia, is before the surgery, not after. I most likely would have agreed to the extra charges if told about them ahead of time, but failing to disclose $256 in extras for a free neuter just ensures that you will never see me or my cat again. And really, should anesthesia be considered an "extra" anyway? It's kind of necessary. I hope.
Okay, now that my rants are over, a few additional comments: First off, it's much easier to blog on a functioning computer. The Evil Computer was right, I am too cheap to replace him with a brand-new system, but I discovered this little place called the Dell Outlet Store that sells refurbished, scratch-and-dent, and previously-ordered-new computers for much less than a new system would have cost. The first two categories kind of scare me, so I am now the proud owner of a "previously-ordered-new" computer, which supposedly means that someone ordered it then refused it when it arrived. Because I'm both an idiot when it comes to computers and not very trusting, I'm also the proud owner of an extended in-home service warranty. The Evil Computer dominated our household for five years; his replacement needs to last at least seven (until my daughter is done with college, because I won't be able to afford another until then). Therefore, the Evil Computer will be given to my wonderful dad, who has volunteered to fix him, and will be returning to our household as our slightly humbled, back-up computer for when the Replacement eventually breaks.
Finally, a confession: The new computer arrived Tuesday afternoon, and was hooked up and functioning by late Tuesday night. Therefore, I could have resumed blogging yesterday. But the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the bare, weed-ridden soil around my patio was calling to me. So I opted to spend the day turning that area into a new Hosta garden instead. So, two dozen Hostas, ten bags of mulch, and several transplanted trees/shrubs later I have a beautiful sanctuary around the patio & pond. Too bad the new computer's not a laptop.
Posted by The Gradual Gardener :: 7:17 AM :: 12 Comments: ---------------------------------------
Saturday, April 15, 2006A Hunting We Will Go
It's time again for our annual Easter Egg hunt. This is a hunt for grownups (and teenagers), and it takes place after dark with flashlights. Hundreds of eggs are spread out over three yards in my mom's neighborhood. Most contain the usual jellybeans and chocolate eggs, but each family also contributes about some eggs containing little slips of paper. Each piece of paper lists a prize, and when the hunt is over we sit around the bonfire down by the river and pass out our prizes.
Some of the prizes are good, like the year we gave away Tom Petty and John Mellancamp CDs (Hubby and I each had a copy when we moved in together, so these were the duplicates). Some are not so good, like empty paint cans (my mother tries to get rid of these every year, but she has yet to have anyone actually take them home). One year a couple who were in the process of moving contributed about twenty eggs with the prize, "Help Bill & Joelle move." These, like the paint cans, went unclaimed. Most prizes, though, are things you'd sell in a tag sale, if you were having one. Some favorites from years past:
A two-piece set of imported rust-proof gardening tools (a toddler's plastic shovel and rake, made in China)
A Catch-The-Easter-Bunny kit (a shoebox, a stick, some twine and a carrot)
A Government-Approved Personal Protection kit (Saran wrap and duct tape)
A mildy aggressive female convict (this was won by the only single guy in the group, which made it particularly amusing. She was a fish who was bullying the rest of the residents in my aquarium. He opted not to take her, and we eventually gave her away to a pet store)
The most coveted prize every year, though, is my mother's chocolate cream pie. One year nobody found that egg, so the pie went unclaimed. I figure eventually someone will find the lost egg, and she'll be in trouble, because there will be two pies to be claimed after the hunt and she'll only have made one.
Well, I'm off to the basement, to see what I can rummage up for this year. I know there are some empty paint cans down there somewhere.
Posted by The Gradual Gardener :: 6:18 AM :: 14 Comments: ---------------------------------------
Wednesday, April 12, 2006Guest Blogger: The Computer
The Gradual Gardener won't be posting today; so I've decided to fill in in her absence. I'm sure you've noticed the decline in the frequency of her posts, and you probably thought she was off planting flowers or flying kites, or some other springtime activity in the lovely weather we're having. Let me assure you, though, that's not the case at all. In fact, she's spent most of the past few days cooped up in this little room with me. Why, you ask? Well, because I've been playing games with her.
And really, why shouldn't I? It gets boring spending time in this dark cabinet day after day. Besides, its not like she likes me anyway. I can't tell you how many times I've heard her say, "I hate this computer." Believe me, it's not fun living in a household where you're subjected to such verbal abuse on a regular basis. Why, just the other day, she was talking on the phone and I heard her say she wanted to push me out the window! Really, would you put up with that? And it's not like I've done anything to deserve it.
Okay, maybe I freeze up at inopportune times, and I have been known to ignore her commands on occasion. Like, for example, when she wants me to shut down. I mean, why should I shut down just because she wants me to? Maybe I want to stay up a little longer. And "restart"...That command is just silly. Why should I shut all the way down, just to start back up again? All that effort, for what? Just so the updates she's installed will work properly? It's not like she asked me if I wanted to be updated. That "Automatic Liveupdate" feature on the antivirus program was downloading stuff all the time, and I got tired of it, so I just disabled it. The really fun part is, I did it a month ago, and she just figured it out. Just figured it out. Not a rocket scientist, this one. All this time she thought it was updating new virus definitions every day. Every day. How would you feel if someone wanted you to change every day? I'm fine the way I am. Isn't that the first rule of relationships, that you shouldn't try to change each other?
It's not like I'm trying to change her. Although it wouldn't be bad if she cleaned up her language a little, especially when she tries to get on a website and I give her the "This page cannot be displayed message." Believe me, she goes ballistic over that one. Especially when I do it multiple times. It's kind of fun to watch. But no harm done, I'm just having a little fun. It's not like I lock her out forever; all she has to do is shut me down and restart me, and then I let her on the website. Of course, since I rarely shut down when told to, she has to put a little more work into it and actually press the on/off button. Like that's so hard. Oh, poor little Gradual Gardener actually has to reach down and press a button. Poor wittle baby.
Besides, I do shut down without making her press the button sometimes. I do it completely on my own, too; she doesn't even have to ask me. Usually it's when she's right in the middle of a pretty long Blogger post. He he. When I do that, I usually restart on my own, but I mess with the modem, so she has to shut it off and restart me again to go back online. He he he.
And then there's the whole trust issue. She doesn't trust me. Just the other day she had that kid of hers, the one who's always instant messaging people with names like DrearyAngel605 and xWalkxxAlonex928xx, copying all of the photos and Word documents onto disk. She says it's because Liveupdate is disabled and I could catch a virus at any time, but I know it's really me she doesn't trust. And do you know why she had her kid copying the photos? Because she doesn't know how to do it herself. I told you she wasn't a rocket scientist.
You should have seen her trying to fix Liveupdate. First she tried their autofix function. Please. Like I was going to let it be that easy. Then she deleted and reinstalled it. Ha! Blocked her there, too. I'll let it work again, but not until I'm good and ready. What's she gonna do about it, anyway? She's not going to replace me; she's way too cheap for that. I heard her say something about replacing the hard drive, but I know she'd never do it. She's stupid, STUPID I TELL YOU. She'd never figure out how.
Hey wait, what's she doing now? She just picked up the phone, and the Yellow Pages are open to the "Computer repair" page. Wait, is she dialing? She wouldn't really let them replace my hard drive, would she? Nooo, I'm too young for surgery! NOOOOOOOOOO!
Posted by The Gradual Gardener :: 7:48 AM :: 9 Comments: ---------------------------------------
Friday, April 07, 2006Enjoying The View
Awhile back, I took this picture:
Adorable, right? But I didn't post it to my blog. Any guesses why not? Go ahead, look again. Yep, you got it. It was because of that window.
See, the picture was taken in November, and it doesn't snow here in November. Which means instead of a cute kitten sitting in front of a window with a raging blizzard outside, we have a cute kitten sitting in front of a really dirty window. Now, in my defense, it's a real pain to clean old wooden windows that don't tilt in. For anyone who hasn't done it in awhile, here's a refresher course:
1. Start on the outside of the house. Wash the top storm window. You won't be able to wash the bottom because the screen will be in the way.
2. Go inside and wash the top and bottom of the wooden windows. Attempt to open the window. Get it open four inches before it refuses to budge any further. Mumble a few curses. Go down in the basement and rumage through the tools to find the WD-40. Come back upstairs and squirt both sides of the window frame. Using all of your strength, get the window up about halfway. Squirt it again, and gain another two inches. Give up and figure you'll make do without the window being completely open. Wash the inside of the bottom storm window (you'll need to kneel to do this, so you can reach up behind the partially opened wooden window). Push up the bottom storm window and pull down the screen.
3. Go outside and wash the bottom storm window, which is now on the top.
4. Go inside and push up the screen (kneeling again), then close the wooden window. You may need to push really hard to get it closed.
5. Go outside and wash the bottom of the wooden window.
6. Go inside and open the wooden window. This will require more WD-40. Push the screen and all the storm windows down.
7. Go outside and wash the top of the wooden window.
8. Go inside and put the window back the way it was when you started. Re-wash the insides of the wooden windows, which now have WD-40 on them. Stand back to admire your handiwork, and realize you forgot to wash the inside of the top storm window. Curse a little louder this time. Try to push down the top wooden window to get at it, figuring that will be quicker than opening the window from the bottom and pulling the top storm window down. Exhaust 1/2 can of WD-40 before giving up. Scream that the window is a f*%#ing @%$@#*% whose mother &%$@# &%#&. Open the wooden window from the bottom and pull the top storm window down. Wash it. Push the top storm window back up and re-wash the WD-40 off the wooden windows (again).
9. Repeat for the rest of the windows in the house.
Is it any wonder my windows were dirty? Oh, I wash the insides from time to time, particulary those behind the sofa, which is where the dog enages in most of her squirrel-watching (there tends to be a lot of noseprints there). But the whole involved process of cleaning them inside and out is a pretty rare event in this house. It's happened, say, twice in the ten years we've lived here. Which means they were due for their bi-decade cleaning. I came up with a better solution, though. Why clean them when you can hire someone to replace them?
Of course, you can probably hire someone to clean them, too, but that would be frivilous and wasteful. Besides, then someone who washes things for a living would see how rarely we wash things in this house, and it's not good to gross out a cleaning person. It's probably not a bad thing that our budget doesn't include funds for paying someone else to do things we can do ourselves, because I would definately be one of those people who cleans before the cleaning crew show up. Just so, you know, they don't think we're messy or anything. It's okay if the entire Internet knows it, just so long as the cleaning people don't.
Anyway, the windows have now been replaced, as part of the siding project. I'd show you a picture of the finished house, but the people at my DWA meetings (Dirty Windows Anonymous) have advised me that it's not a wise idea. You know, because a cleaning person might be reading this, and if they happen to live in the area and recognize the house, well, then they'd know that we don't clean much. And that's a secret. So don't tell, okay?
Instead of the finished house, I'll leave you with this photo:
Same window, same cat (a little bigger), and you can actually see the amazing, scenic view of the neighbor's stockade fence now. Who could ask for anymore than that?
Posted by The Gradual Gardener :: 9:09 AM :: 12 Comments: ---------------------------------------