Saturday, December 31, 2005

Soon my dear, soon

So I was about to call the nursing home to tell them that I'd be picking up Tammy around 8:00 tonight, when I noticed a message on my machine. It was the home, asking me to call back; urgently.

I called and got a hold of the nurse, apparently Tammy was being extremely difficult today. She kept repeating that nobody wanted her and was fidgeting to the point that she was sliding out from under the seat belt and fell out of her chair. She wouldn't talk to the nurses, wouldn't let them help her back into the chair, and wouldn't let them get her into bed. They had to put a pillow under her head and just leave her there lying on the floor.

They hoped that if I talked to her she would calm down and cooperate, and held the phone up to her ear. I told her I was sorry that I couldn't pick her up earlier but that I was busy cleaning up the front hall where our sick kitty had whizzed, and that it was taking longer than expected. All true, and she did know about the problem with our cat. I told her I was picking her up tonight and that we'd be going to Yas' place for his new year's eve party like we'd planned. (I've been asking her about that party for weeks without getting an answer, then wednesday she phoned me at work asking if we could go; it was so sweet.) She didn't answer me though, so I just kept repeating that, and that I loved her, until the nurse picked up the phone again.

I've got my dinner on now then I'll be off to pick her up. I wonder how she'll be when I get there???

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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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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Timbit, destroyer of trees


Friday, December 16, 2005

I'm on Pacific time

The problem with feeling energized at midnight is that you stuipdly don't go to bed until 3:00 a.m. and then have to drag your ass into work the next day.

Too bad I couldn't find a picture of the little dude hungover...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Free admission

Today at lunch it started to snow and it's still snowing. Most of my coworkers are bitching about this, and the headline in the Sun said 'more terrible snow' or some other bullshit doom and gloom, but you know what? Fuck 'em! How often is the whole world your theme park? Snow ball fights, snow men, snow angels, tobogganing, skiing, outdoor rinks, and especially; with now being December; the shimmer of falling flakes and a fresh white blanket elevating christmas lights to their magical best.

The part people bitch about most is actually the part I like best; driving. The entire city is a go-cart track and the admission is free, though to be honest I'm a bit disappointed with myself. Ideally I should dive into a curve, touch hard on the brakes with a bit of countersteer to get the whole thing yawing (with a ready hand at the parking break for backup), then power out with the front wheel drive before getting passed by my own back end. At least that's what too many WRC daydreams keep telling me. The reality of my hour and a half ride home (I took every side street whose entry corner didn't require a stop, for the sheer lure of the curves) is that while I was more aggressive with the snow than pretty much everyone else, my corners were still cautiously broad and shallow with far too much reliance on the parking brake for thrills, when I couldn't produce anything interesting through finesse alone. I think it's mostly a subconscious fear of repair bills, perhaps with proper corporate sponsorship I could be a lot more daring...

This has got me more energized than I've been in a long time; sucks I've got no one here to share it with. Typing away in the scent of Victoria's perfume that I picked up during that dance at Roxxannes doesn't help either.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Fucking Microsoft screwed me again!

So I've been using MSN Messenger for a while now, and had originally tried to sign on with my e-mail address. It let me do that but wouldn't let me validate it (for some reason it hates that domain, something to do with the sympatico/msn merger no doubt) so after two weeks I had to switch to something else and picked on my work e-mail address.

My company's head office lies in a hurricane zone, so recently folks have started relying on messenger when e-mail fails. That's all fine and dandy, but for me it's a personal use thing and I've always put phrases and stuff in my screen name with swear words or references to drug fueled parties that went on too long, and didn't want to have to censor myself for the folks at work. Solution: Change the e-mail address associated with my passport to my gmail address, so no new work folks would find me.

Microsoft's online help said the change would be transparent to everybody who already had me on messenger, but THOSE BASTARDS LIE! Suddenly everyone in my list was offline, and I was offline to all of them. I had to delete all my contacts and re-add them one at a time (just exporting and re-importing them didn't work) and then tell them to delete the old me and accept the new me. A real pain in the ass but after a week or so, I was re-connected to all my friends.

Well now over the weekend, for no particular fucking reason, it happened AGAIN and I'm back to reconnecting everyone from scratch. It's probably wrong to bitch about a free service but... GOD FUCKING DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL YOU LAME ASSED MICROSOFT BASTARDS!

I feel better now (well okay, that's a lie).


So I picked up this souvenir from Greenbay for my friend Matt and...

Friday, December 09, 2005

Too bad all I had was a camera

My nice comfy 11:00 a.m. flight from Minneapolis to Toronto was cancelled (no plane available, due to the storm that shut down the east coast the night before) and I was re-routed through Chicago on a flight that didn't leave for hours and hours.

While waiting in the gate lounge a ton of people stormed the windows and I overheard words like 'motorcade', but dismissed them and went about the merry business of killing time until my next flight. About a half hour later I got up and looked idly out the window, and no fucking shit, there was air force one! I've always figured somebody should take a shot at Bush Jr., it turned out to be me but all I had was a digital camera...

I think they know he's unpopular because it left within an hour, spooling up at the nearest end of the nearest runway and taking off like a bat out of hell in the opposite direction to all the other planes, prevailing winds be damned! A pretty cool show of force.

Ah the dumb accidents of life...

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Mmm, fresh cookies

Ever heard of Midwest Airlines? Me neither, but apparently if you're flying to or through Milwaukie and/or Kansas City, you too can fly Midwest. The jet was small (a Fairchild 328, which I'd also never heard of) but the service friendly, and instead of the ubiqitous pretzels we were offered Pringles chips and chocolate chip cookies. And oh what cookies they were! Large with lots of chocolate chunks (not chips), and served warm and moist from a tray (not prepackaged).

The landing was interesting too. The plane's nose was pointed at the ground (mostly lake Michigan) until the last possible moment before touchdown. I guess that keeps the crash site nice and neat.

Will I fly Midwest again? Well no... but how often do I touch Milwaukie or Kansas City?

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Just what I needed

I'm having the lousiest day and I'm sitting in the Mr. Sub across from Comfort Zone blogging my sorrows, when two ladies come in with a guitare and sing me Feliz Navidad. For someone I'm pretty sure I don't believe in, God sure comes through sometimes... Oh wait, that's called coincidence.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

I don't wanna...

So today I was at the nursing home's christmas bazaar to sell amaryllis kits for the Huntington Society. The society's social worker thought of the idea at the last minute so there were only eight kits available, but this was just a pilot to see how well the idea would work. The real plan is to get all the nursing homes in her area with Huntington's patients (about 30 of them) to incorporate amaryllis sales into their bazaars next year as part of the annual campaign. I'm happy to report that all eight were sold within the first hour.

Tam's mom was down for the event as well to take Tam shopping while I manned the table, and as usual at such a thing, Tam bought a ton of stuff and had to be talked out of buying a whole bunch more. Tam lives for christmas and usually has her gift shopping started by april. Her HD progression has slowed this down a bit but not much, by mid-july the top of our wall unit (the traditional gift storage area in our one-bedroom existence) was already starting to fill up. Since her exposure to shopping is limited these days, it's mostly inexpensive crafts from the nursing home tuck shop; so of course when we got around to assigning, wrapping and tagging it there was a lot of stuff that we don't really want to give to anybody. Thanks to today, that pile of unwantable stuff has grown. Joy.

Anyways, I left the nursing home at about 1:00 and Tam wanted to come home with me. She was midway through the feeding tube and tired out to boot, so I left her with the promise that I'd be back at 7:00 tonight to have her home overnight, and for her first full day tomorrow hooked up to the tube at home (now that I know how to do it). Dumb idea. I caught the late showing of the latest Harry Potter flick last night (good one, way better than that Chamber of Secrets crap) then stayed up until 5:00 a.m. with a combination of web and channel surfing, then of course was up at 8:30 to head in for the flower sales.

Since arriving home this afternoon I have done nothing but more channel surfing, cat napping and magazine reading, and am even more tired. I have not done the grocery shopping required to sustain us for the rest of the weekend (literally, I'm down to just Brita water), nor have I installed the cat door to the laundry room like I meant to today. Back story: My windows were replaced thursday morning and the workmen left the laundry room door, gateway to the litter box, closed. I arrived home to a front hall funky with cat whiz that I have not yet had the energy to do anything about. Although the superintendents know about it and have promised me a free steam cleaning, in the meantime it's only getting funkier. I digress.

So yeah, I made this stupid promise to Tam and I could break it; I want to break it; but what would I gain? Nothing really, odds are that I'd continue to do sweet fuck all for the rest of the weekend and just end up hating myself for it afterwards, re: useless. So with this blog as my inspiration to get my ass up off the couch, here I go to head out shopping, hydrating, dinner eating and Tam collecting. But I don't want to.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Merry christmas pretty girl

So Wednesday night I was visiting Tam at the nursing home (5th day in a row I'd seen her, boy it's been a while since that has happened) and she asked me if I could be there the next day for a christmas party. Tam has always lived for christmas so I wasn't about to turn that one down, and yesterday I was at the home yet again.

I have to say that they put on a really good party for the residents. They had a Santa and Mrs. Claus make an appearance, and he was really good... chock full of cheesy jokes (the kind that kids, families and old people love while the rest of us groan) and doing magic tricks to boot. The residents (and their families, and their families' kids) just loved him, as of course did Tammy. He even had a cheesy joke for me: "I once gave a bald man a comb and you know what? He wouldn't part with it!" Yeah, jokes like that. ;-)

What was sort of neat was that we ended up sitting at a table with Leonard and his wife Irene, and it was our third christmas party in a row with them! Our first was at Freeport hospital when Irene and Tammy were patients there, then last year at Lanark when Tammy and Irene were residents, and finally this year with Leonard now also a resident. Not that that really means anything, but while we were sitting there I mentioned it and we all thought it was pretty cool. Leonard and Irene have been married for 61 years. Damn!

Tammy also introduced me to her friend Sam and his wife Fritzy. Tam wouldn't let go of Fritzy's hand the whole time we were at the table with them, and vice versa too! I don't know what it is, but Tammy and the folks there just seem to have such a bond. I really tear up when I think about it because I doubt that most people Tammy's age, upon finding themselves in a nursing home, would adjust to it like that. All the middle aged residents were consolidated into the one wing a few months back, and having got to know some of them now I can honestly say that Tam's the only one who fits in that well. There are times that Tammy tells me how much she hates being in a nursing home, but they are far outweighed by the ones like last night when she's genuinely happy.

"and god bless us, everyone!"

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Is there anything more Canadian?

than changing your wiper blades in a Canadian Tire parking lot during a snowstorm? I think not.

Not so scary anymore

So Tuesday morning I was at the nursing home for an hour and learned all the ins and outs of setting up the feeding tube, and it's not as difficult as I'd thought. (For one thing, all the containers and tubes are disposable and you start with a new kit every time, which although it offends me as an environmentalist, makes the whole thing a helluva lot easier.) I still haven't actually had Tam at home and hooked her up yet, but the feeling of being kicked in the gut that I've been walking around with for the past two weeks has at least disappeared.

I'd say that we'll see what this weekend brings, but she probably won't be at home. There's a craft sale at the nursing home Saturday that she wants to attend with her mom, and the nursing home contacted me asking if we'd like to set up a table of our own sellling amaryllis kits for the Huntington Society, so I'll be there myself taking care of that. After that Tam will likely be too wiped out to come home, but we'll see what happens.

Oh, and at the grand weigh-in on Monday she'd only gained 0.3 kilograms, so they haven't reduced the tube feed and she's still on it for 10 hours a day. At least her weight went up and not down...

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