Tuesday, December 27, 2005


The plan was to have Tam overnight between the 24th and 25th, because her mom's christmas dinner was on saturday and my parent's on sunday.

I worked until 3:00 on friday and then finished up my christmas shopping. Although Tam starts it early (try march or april) and has everything taken care of for us by november, there's still my own shopping for Tam and it hadn't been done yet. It went well and I was done by 5:00, which was good because I was due to meet Teresa at Freeport at 5:15 so we could visit Judy and Eric (he has Huntingtons too and had gone through a tremendously sudden decline, suffering in one year what Tammy had progressed through in about four). Judy wasn't there that evening and they were feeding Eric dinner (d'uh, I should have remembered that 5:00 was dinnertime at Freeport from when Tammy was there), so Teresa and I left without visiting. We did Jack Astors for dinner then saw Chicken Little and called it a night.

Saturday morning I did some housework and then swung by my parents to wrap Tam's gifts. I got home in the mid-afternoon and then waited until after 4:00 to pick Tammy up so that the feeding tube would be done; it's a ten hour run but they start it early in the morning so it will be finished by then. Officially we were due at Tam's mom's at 4:30 but I'd already called her and explained that I'd be waiting until the tube was done, and that it would be more like 5:30 or 6:00 when we'd get there; she said that was no problem.

I got to the home at 4:30 only to discover that the feeding tube still had a couple of hours left to go (in fact it was disconnected), and the nurses asked me if I could come back for Tam after 7:00! It bugged me but I kept my composure and explained about our dinner at her mom's, and asked if I could take the pump home with the full setup connected to continue her feed later that night. They were okay with that and I got Tam dressed, loaded into the car and then went back up for the pump. By the time I got them both unloaded at home it was already after 6:00 and I knew that we were going to be more than just a little bit late. I called Tam's mom again to explain the situation and let her know that we didn't mind if they started without us.

Of course then we discovered that some of the gifts for her family weren't wrapped because we'd run out of paper back in november... Fortunately I'd had the presence of mind to take mom and dad's paper home with me just in case, so we did get that taken care of. By the time I got Tam dressed and loaded into the car with all the gifts, it was after 7:00 when we started heading over. Her mom lives in Paris so of course dinner was long done when we got there, which actually worked out well because I could get dinner and eat while Tam's mom looked after her, instead of my usual double duty that takes forever and ends with both of us having to eat cold food.

We had a great visit; it was nice to see Tam's brother, sister-in-law, and grandfather again; and we had a pretty good chat in the kitchen at the end that lasted about an hour. Her brother and I traded business travel stories, which isn't as boring as it sounds because we talked a lot about our San Francisco trips where we had each brought our significant other to combine business with pleasure. Tam even participated in most of the conversation, which is rare these days and made everyone feel great. My only regret is that I didn't take many pictures, all I have is two of Tammy's niece, which sucks because we've got lots of her niece and nephew but very few of her grandfather whom we don't see much of anymore. Ah well... hopefully we'll do the family thing again at easter and I'll make up for it then.

When we got home Tam was really tired, so I ditched the tube set on the feed pump and we went straight to bed, which was merciful given the results of my previous overnight visit with Tam. She only got us up once during the night; I was stressed out when the next time felt like only an hour later but damned if it wasn't 10:30 already! That was bad news because the feeding tube is a ten hour run; not including set up time, disconnect for bathroom and med breaks, then the cleanup time afterwards; and we were due at my parents for christmas dinner at 5:30! I geeked out and reprogrammed the pump to run 50% faster; I'd have gone for double but the nursing home said they'd speed it up a week or two after she'd started on it but then never did, and I wasn't sure if there was a reason for that and didn't want to push it. (Despite its glacial pace compared to regular eating, apparently people can upchuck if it runs too fast.) I called mom and dad and asked if they could make dinner for 7:00 instead, fortunately I caught them early enough and that was no problem.

After the pump was started it was time to unwrap our gifts. Tam wanted to start with our stockings but then began crying because there wasn't anything in mine or the cats'. She'd bought stocking stuffers and given them to her mom to wrap, but everything I'd picked up from her mom was fairly large and it all went under the tree. I started to unwrap her stocking stuffers (because she can't unwrap things herself anymore) and that distracted her a bit, but she was still upset. When we started on the big gifts the first one of mine that I opened had a whole lot of small stuff in it; the missing stocking stuffers had been found! That brightened Tam up completely and we had a good round of present opening after that.

I come from a family where nobody really gives gifts to anybody over the age of 14 (maybe a box of chocolates or something), so it took time for Tam and I to get used to christmas together, because in her family everyone gets something for everyone else. Tam's the best/worst of them all and gets everybody multiple gifts, usually five to ten for her mom! You'd think we would have compromised somewhere in the middle, but after one christmas of her bawling me out for not getting her enough (you mean I have to fill your fucking stocking up too?!!) she didn't change and I found myself buying the full amount of crap (ahem! gifts) demanded by Campbell family standards. At least we get to give as a couple, so the extra load on me is just the stuff for Tam. Theoretically. I've pretty much financed everything from the get go and did all the wrapping ("I had to do all the shopping, the least you could do is wrap"); and now that Tam's incapacitated I'm along for every shopping trip too. Okay, my cheerful christmas story is bumming me out so I'll shut up now.

Unwrapping our gifts took over an hour and then we settled in to watch ET. That was my christmas coup. Now that I'm older than 12 I find it sappy and loathe to watch it, but Tam has always loved it, even before she started regressing back into a kid. A week earlier we'd got a christmas card from her aunt Debi with an HMV gift certificate in it; I figured instead of just showing it to Tam that I would go out and buy something I could put under the tree. I didn't know what I could get at HMV since they've always struck me as having nothing but overpriced top 40 crap, but quickly discovered the rack of two-for-$30 DVDs. I got The Sixth Sense for me and the ET anniversary collectors edition for Tam.

That idea was a total hit! She loved getting a wrapped gift from aunt Deb and was thrilled with both movies. After we watched ET we re-discovered The Sixth Sense, which neither of us had seen since it was in theatres. While she just enjoyed the movie, for me it also brought back great memories of Orlando, circa February 2000. She was with me on a business trip and the theatre where we saw it was right beside the giant FAO Schwartz toy store on International Drive. I'm not sure which one we spent more time in, FAO Schwartz or the movie theatre...

Despite programming the pump to run faster, it seemed like it would never finish but I didn't want to stop it early because Tam hadn't gotten the full dose the day before. Finally at 7:00 it was done, and if I got Tam ready quick enough we could still be at mom and dad's for 7:30 and only be fashionably late. I bet on the fact that mom would be running behind on dinner anyways, which is usually a pretty safe bet. (Sorry mom.) When I started trying to get Tammy dressed though, she had a meltdown and didn't want to go because I hadn't given her a shower. For one thing we'd had no time, but I also wasn't sure if there were any special precautions we had to take to keep the feeding tube site from getting infected, and I didn't want to take any chances. I explained that and told her she looked fine (which really, she did!) but she wouldn't stop crying and would not let me get her dressed.

Finally after a half an hour I called mom and dad to say we weren't coming, and I started getting Tam dressed into her regular clothes without her cooperation (tough!) to go back to the nursing home. That broke her out of her funk and suddenly she insisted on going to mom and dad's because she wanted to see them unwrap their gifts, and I had to re-dress her into her christmas outfit. I called mom and dad to say that we were coming again and that they could warm up dinner; mom was thrilled but I'm pretty sure that dad wasn't -- he'd already gotten changed into more comfortable clothes and didn't want to get changed back. I know what a pain in the ass we can be these days and told mom that he didn't have to.

We got there sometime after 8:00 and once again I was fortunate enough not to have to feed Tam, since mom and dad had already eaten and mom was happy to take care of her for me. Hot meal for me, yay! By the time we were done dinner, had the gifts opened and ate dessert, it was after eleven. Once Tam was back at the home, changed and tucked into bed for the night it was after midnight when I started to head home in a state of utter exhaustion.

I'm glad that Tam and I had a good christmas this year, but damn... I slept in the next day until 5:30 when the phone rang and it was mom and dad asking if I wanted to come by for leftovers -- a no-brainer if ever there was one. Uhm, yes! I was still at their place when my out of town friends called to see if I was on my way over. It was 7:45 and I had arranged the week before to be at their place at 7:00, which I'd completely forgotten. Ooops...

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