helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
After a long week of holiday visiting, first with [livejournal.com profile] rialian's parents and then to a party to see friends, some of whom had come from the west coast, I finally visited my younger brother who lives in what was once my parents' home. I felt that I had abandoned him over Christmas, but he seemed satisfied with the fact that we all converged at his house for the holiday, even though it was two days late.

While I was at his house, he told me that he would be getting rid of the coats - my mom's coats to be exact, unless I took them home. I scoured the house for all the coats I could find. I am now the owner of about 20 'new' coats. I guess my mother must have liked coats a bit. They're nice coats, I guess. There are short coats, long coats, light coats, heavy coats, medium coats, down coats, wool coats, and little synthetic windbreakers. I will never be cold again in this lifetime. Among all the coats, I found the One Coat. In 1969 or thereabouts, there was a style of coat called the Maxi Coat. These were usually black but could be any color, and were fitted, floor-length coats. I of course had to have one (so I did). I always loved mine, but had nearly forgotten I owned one, except for a vague memory in the back of my mind. I thought for sure that my mother would have gotten rid of mine, since I didn't use it in nearly forty years. I found it. Mine, all mine. I have my maxi coat. I have no idea if I'll ever wear it, but no matter. I have it with me now, and it fits perfectly.


I need a new closet. No, I need a room. Actually, no, maybe a house -- in order to store these coats.

In addition to the coats, I found the remainder of the jewelry she left me. More accurately, my neice found it - apparently she can find things when others can't find them. Among the located items were my mom's cameo pin and her amethyst ring that I had been missing. I knew they were somewhere in the house, but hadn't been able to find them for months, but Kate found them almost immediately.

I also found a few things that I'd forgotten about - a charm bracelet that I'd had as a child that had many unique charms on it, and two heart-shaped lockets, and a little bracelet with my name engraved on it in Greek. These were things I had when I was seven or 8 years old (maybe younger) that my mom had preserved for me over the years. I also found my metronome that I'd had when I took piano at age 10 or so from my Dutch piano teacher Anneke Van Den Berg. I also found an antique toy cash register made of solid metal - they don't make those anymore because, well, the little tykes might hurt themselves on it (god we've pablum-ized life).

These treasures I gathered together, and I brought them home. I do not know where I will put them now. I don't care. They are mine, and with me they will stay.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
You would have been 90 years old today. It would have been some bash. Still hurting over early checkout. I hope somehow that you still are, and that it is good.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Was listening to "The Beekeeper" by Tori Amos this morning, and found this to be appropriate to the last several months. Her mother's failing health and the prospect of losing her inspired this song.

The Beekeper by Tori Amos )
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
My mom's life insurance check arrived in the mail. At first I thought it was some sort of ad. You know, the kind that say, "This is not a check - you may have won this amount" or "Get this amount as a rebate if you buy our million-dollar product". But it was not an ad - it was a check. After the initial reaction of "I don't want this money from the insurance company. I want my mother back", it began to sink in that I had a Check (TM). I should have kept my thoughts more of a secret from my house. My house knows when something like this happens. It always knows.

The week after I received the check, my A/C died a dramatic death. We found oil under the unit, and no refrigerant in the unit (we don't exactly know where that went, because there was no refrigerant under the unit). The A/C man who came by replenished the refrigerant for which he charged me quite a bit, but failed to find the leak. Five minutes after he left, the fan died and the refrigerant was down two pounds. We called him back. Several hundreds of dollars worth of tests later, he still hadn't found the leak. He was going to do some more tests, and was starting to recommend a new unit. I'd about had it with him. He was strange, slow, and possibly trying to get more money. I called him back and told him we were giving up on getting more tests. He called back and dropped the price on his new unit proposal by a thousand dollars, and offered to do the last test for free. I thought it sounded like a good deal. Too good. No dice.

So... Rialian hired another company who had serviced [livejournal.com profile] laurelinde's unit when it went bad. I wanted to get a second opinion. Of course, this one was even worse (money-wise) than the last. He gave me a choice - try to fix this one (if he could) which would cost about the same as the last guy charged, and give it another 5 years of life (maybe), or get a new one. At first I wanted to try to fix the old one. But then, the prospect of never having to worry about this ancient appliance again began to look attractive. He examined the inside unit as well, and also the furnace, which came with the house in 84 when I got it. It's probably around 50 years old. No parts exist for it outside of a junkyard (reminds me of Smurf). It still works, it's not emitting noxious fumes, and there were no holes that he could see in the coils. However, the coils were layered with about 2 inches of rust, dust, and debris, so he couldn't really tell.

Of course, he said, "I'll give you a package deal on a new furnace and A/C unit".

I have the money now. I may not have it later when the furnace actually goes, which also could be a dangerous thing. If I do it now that's one more thing I don't have to worry about. So...

My house always knows when I can do something like this. How does it know? How can it know anything - it's just a bunch of old wood and plaster. Or is it...?
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
This article obviously doesn't say who the victim was (my mom), or who the driver was (my uncle). My uncle and everyone else in the accident are ok.

Edit: For the record, she always went by her middle name Christy, not "Bertha". Bertha (which appears in all the records and reports) is actually a bad translation of the Greek name Panagiota (meaning All Holy), which was shortened to Pota, which became Bertha. My uncle Lou's real name is Leonidas, of all things. How cool is that. He should have just left his name as it was. I guess the idea back then was to avoid getting singled out in school for being different.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
I went to Borders to use a birthday gift card from my brother. After staring at rows of useless books, I ordered a copy of Wild Fermentation so we can have a lending copy but retain one for everyday use. Then I walked toward the music section, hoping they'd have something there that I'd like. On the way to the music section, I passed through the audio books and noticed a copy of "The Fallen". This is a story about a detective who falls out a window, and from then on he has synesthesia. His particular form of synesthesia allows him to see people's emotions as form and color, which is useful to a detective if the emotions don't match the words. I figured this theme had been done before (Steven King?), but thought to myself, "Mom would probably like this - maybe I should pick it up for her". And then the next thought was, "that will lo longer be necessary".

I quickly left the store. Just as well. It was time to head back, and there was nothing there.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
I went back to work today. The first thing I found out was that I'm losing my officemate JB. He found a job 5 minutes from where he lives. He's wanted to leave for a long time - they overload him and the commute is bad. This wouldn't be bad except I really liked him. He's quiet, he doesn't have BO, and I hardly know he's there half the time - plus I enjoy talking to him on the occasions we did talk.

He was, you see, one of my Dynasty. Wherever I've worked, there has always been a group of Chinese people that formed a most welcomed buffer between me and general office politics and other idiocy. They've required my editing services, and so sought me out wherever I was, and often shared offices with me and felt comfortable around me. This Dynasty has followed me to every job I've ever had. They're not always the same people, but are very similar people -- gentle-voiced, hard-working, and with high ethics.

So now I'm losing him. Who knows who they'll put in my office now. Hopefully just consultants who come in from time to time, and not the stinky guy down the hall who smells like sweat and perfumed laundry detergent.

On the bright side, last year when JB's eyes had been bothering him, I had requisitioned a flat panel monitor for him. He brought up that he wants to leave that monitor on my desk before exiting on his last day. I never did requisition a new monitor when I dumped Old Eye-Fry, and I am still using my own monitor at work. I finally get to take mine home next Friday. Not exactly the way I was hoping it would happen, but it may have been that this was the only way it would happen -- I never did get around to requisitioning one for myself.

In other news I talked to my brother last night. He's in the frame of mind to get rid of things - he just can't stand to see the totality of my parents' lives all around him, especially things they were just storing and not using. Unfortunately, he didn't let me know first, and he got rid of a 1950s sewing machine. We're going over there tonight for dinner, so hopefully we can rescue any other "useless junk" that he's feeling the need to throw away. Maybe the trash collectors didn't get it yet and it's still out back or something. Probably not.

Many, many changes are whirling around me. I hope I'm part of the new stuff, and not part of what's passing. I'm not sure yet. Is it a choice? If so, I choose to be part of what's coming in. Surf's up... Gets on surfboard. Achieves shaky balance. Doesn't fall off. Not yet.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
This poem was written by Arjun Janah (a.k.a., Babui), one of my college friends. He met my mother maybe 3 times 30 years ago. He remained in touch with me over the years (one of the two people who did -- the other one's in Switzerland).

Even though so much time has elapsed, and even though he only saw her a few times, he remembers my mother accurately.

He just sent me this poem:

Is She Gone, Then?

I knew her for a little while,
But still remember well her smile,
Her gentle wit, her calm, her grace,
Those eyes, so kind, that lit her face…

Where has she gone, those left behind
Now often ask, as in each mind
She lives, and does, with each, converse...
If only we could death reverse!

But no, she's gone, and won't return,
What's left is ashes in an urn…
And yet, and yet, she never died,
But only sleeps, from life untied…

Ah come, ah come, then wake again,
Feel sun and cold, and pleasure, pain…
This weekend, we will visit you,
Have coffee, yes, and cookies too…

Babui / Arjun Janah
2007 April 16th, Mon.
Berkeley, California
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Thanks to everyone for well wishes. In for a minute to eat, then back out to pick up groceries and go over to my brother's house to help him take care of the next couple of days.

Phone call

Apr. 12th, 2007 08:14 pm
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
my mom was in an accident. broken pelvis. cracked ribs. admitted critical. cardiac arrest. didn't make it. I am shocked/sick now.

September 24 1917 to April 12 2007. Died when she was in good health (still doing exercises every day), never had to experience the disability and loss of freedom that many people in their 90s do. So I rationalize. I stop rationalizing now - there is no rational now.

Mom, was it time now?

Did you want to go yet? you were doing great..

I guess if there is an afterlife you can see Dad now.

I guess.

If there is.


Can you hear me?


Good night sweet saint who loved me all my life and who never said an unkind word to anyone.

I loved you. I love you. I'm glad I saw you last Sunday.

I guess the birthday party's off, huh. Just like it was when dad died on april 8.

4 days apart.

Just like you, twins that you were.

I miss you



helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
My mom has had macular degeneration for a while, meaning the central vision is deteriorating due to weakening and bursting of blood vessels on the retina and subsequent pooling of fluid in the eye. She's been eating a lot of vitmin A-laden yellow and green vegetables and taking leutine, and it had stabilized for a while, but one eye recently got worse. She decided to try a treatment recommended by her doctor. We weighed the side effects and she decided that she wanted to go through with it, since the alternative was to lose vision in that eye. She had the first injection last week. There were no side effects so far (it's an ongoing treatment) and her vision in that eye has cleared up. I hope in the long term that there continue to be no side effects. I'm glad that she's able to see better. The fracture she got when she fell earlier this year is all mended - she can raise her arm over her head a lot more than anyone predicted, and since going off the bad medications has gone back to exercising every day. If an 89-year-old person can do her exercises, so can I...
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
I went to visit my mom today to see how she was doing. She seems to be doing really well -- at least for now. She continued physical therapy, and is now able to raise her arm above her head, whereas they told her she never would be able to do that. The dizziness and unsteadiness that caused the falls in the first place has pretty much disappeared since going off the Liptor and the anti-seizure drug they gave her (she never had seizures and her cholesterol is fine).

The only problem now is, she has to have an injection on the 14th to stop macular degeneration in her right eye. in most cases the degeneration stops after three injections of this stuff and in 40% of cases vision actually improves. The only problem is, there are possible side effects. We reviewed the side effects, and she made the decision to go through with it, since the possible benefits would be worth it to her. Let's hope this works and that there are no side effects.

Other than that, everything seems good. To my surprise, she told me that she'd done 45 minutes of exercises this morning. Wow. I'm rather impressed. If she can do 45 minutes of exercises at age 89, then so can I. I do anyway, but that's added incentive to keep going. Maybe that's who I caught the exercise bug from.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Good news and bad news. The bad news is, my mom does have a fracture. The good news is, she does not have to have surgery. We are so happy that she doesn't have to go through surgery that we're not half as bummed as we could be about the fracture. The fracture is not threatening her heart or lungs as the first doctor had thought. The specialist looked at the films and decided surgery was not adviseable.

So Yay. Sort of. She's not wobbly on her feet anymore since discontinuing Lipitor. I will be getting her some lecithin and fresh produce and grapefruit juice and kelp.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Last night I dreamed that my mother told me that dad was selling our houses and they and I were packing up and taking a plane to "California".

When I realized that they were going to take a plane rather than drive, because it would be "a forty-hour drive and we don't have time for that," I started screaming that I refuse to ever get on an airplane again in this lifetime. I also asked "what about [livejournal.com profile] rialian"? Where is [livejournal.com profile] aekiy going to live? But they said they'd have to find an alternative because, you see, we were going. I also asked about my job, but was told that none of that mattered. We were moving to California and that was that.

The whole prospect disturbed me much more than a deceased person trying to sell our houses.

California - I've always wished to somehow be a part of that hotbed of ideas where it all seems to start. I have also wished we would have some of that attitude here. But it also represents death - falling into the ocean. Secession from the union. The unknown. The jumping off point. California...
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Since my last post, two people have mentioned that they're on Lipitor, and one has mentioned side effects like the ones I described. Thus I feel I need to add the following disclaimer. Regardless of this disclaimer, I still hate statins, just so there's no confusion about that...



I am not qualified to dispense medical advice.

If you decide that the side effects outweigh any possible benefits and want to discontinue the statin and take another approach (which is what I would do), I would recommend finding a licensed physician who takes a more nutrition-based approach to lowering cholesterol levels, and who is a minimalist about prescribing drugs for everything. I have heard that cutting the trans fats, processed starch and (especially) all sugar, and upping the fresh fruit, vegetebles, whole grain, and lean, fresh meat (not processed) lowers cholesterol better than anything else. Combine that with some daily exercise for teh win. Again, my opinion only, not telling anyone what to do.

I would also recommend doing a LOT of research on your own, not only about the effects and interactions of any medication you're taking, but also on the effects of stopping it. If you can find a doctor covered by your insurance who matches the rather hard-to-find description above, I'd recommend consulting with someone like that. They may be hard to find, but they have to be out there.


That said, I definitely still HATE statins, to reiterate what I said before. That stays the same.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Yesterday I found out that my mother's doctor had prescribed Lipitor to lower her cholesterol, because "her cholesterol was too high". Instead of recommending dietary changes, or higher fiber content in her food, he prescribed something that causes symptoms similar to muscular distrophy.

As a result, she was very wobbly on her legs, and a few days ago she lost her balance and fractured one or more ribs. The CAT scan showed that the fracture was angular, meaning it could puncture her heart or lung "if it's in the wrong place". She may require thoracic surgury.

Prior to the fall, she had been complaining of wobbliness, muscular weakness, and swelling ever since she started the Lipitor, which had increased when they added Plavix to her prescriptions. She had experienced some small blackouts over the past several years. They examined her, took an MRI, found nothing, and prescribed Plavix "to see if it would help".

Here are a few facts about Plavix. According to the above website, this fine medication can cause gastrointestinal bleeding or brain bleeding. Mixing with aspirin is very much not adviseable. Her doctor told her to increase her aspirin intake to make sure her blood pressure was low.

The drug store fact sheets that I read for both of these crugs said not to mix Lipitor and Plavix, and recommended not to give them to the elderly or the very young.

My conclusion is that the insurance companies don't want to pay for my mom to continue living any longer. She's taking out of their system more than she's coughing up. So they intend to kill her.

In stead of making a big splash about it by trying to convince old people to have an "assisted suicide", I think they're actually giving doctors kickbacks to prescribe drugs that are intended to, and will kill her. They prescribed the same stuff to my dad (Lipitor) and he had the same symptoms similar to muscular dystrophy. He could hardly hold a spoon toward the end. We thought he had a stroke, but there had never been any sign of a stroke. His muscles just slowly stopped working. LIPITOR IS BAD NEWS PEOPLE, DON'T TAKE IT, DON'T LET ANYONE PRESCRIBE IT TO YOU, IF YOUR PARENTS ARE TAKING IT TELL THEM TO STOP.

My family's main fallacy is to assume that doctors, though flawed, are basically good people and want to help those who are ill. While this may be true of some, I see now that it's not always true, and most of them are just interested in being accepted by the club and keeping on top of the bottom line.

f they continue to help her live a healthy life into her 90s, they'll go bankrupt. They want her to die, and they're prescribing medicine to make that happen in a timely fashion. They're trying to kill my mother.

I had told her to quit the Lipitor and Plavix before she fell, but she told me that it was to help her and she wanted to take it. After the fall she stopped taking them. As soon as she quit taking the Lipitor and Plavix she stopped feeling wobbly. I hope the thoracic surgeon says she doesn't need surgery - it doesn't hurt as much as before - but she has an appointment later today to make sure. Doctors are good at fixing bones and getting rid of bacterial or fungal infections, and that's about it.

God. They didn't even know what the blackouts were - at first they assumed "small strokes" and then they tought "seizures". They just prescribed Plavix "to see if it would help". Good god. I think I'm going to be sick. She has thalacemia and partially blocked neck arteries. It was probably a combination of those two things. But they used that as an excuse to prescribe something that would kill her. No, I think they should be the ones to go, because quite honestly I like her better than I like them.

Hence the title of this post.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Rialian is back home after having a wonderful time at some friends' wedding! Congratulations go to [livejournal.com profile] amberite, [livejournal.com profile] heron61, and their significant other. He finally got to meet [livejournal.com profile] metaphorge and [livejournal.com profile] xanadumalion, both of whom he has wanted to meet for a long time. He also got to meet the designer of the game Nobilis, an RPG based in a skillfully crafted world with superb artwork.

But while he was gone, a bunch of weird stuff happened.

The first thing that happened was that my mom landed in the hospital. She has been having intermittent partial blackouts that she thought were strokes. I didn't even know this until Saturday when she told me. Usually they pass in a few seconds, but this weekend my brother called and said she'd had a partial blackout that seemed somewhat worse than the others. She didn't lose consciousness, and was able to function normally during the entire episode, but had no recollection of what happened during the episode. He said she was having trouble getting re-oriented afterward, and it took about a half an hour for her to be able to think clearly again. We took her to the emergency room where they conducted a CAT, MRI, and other tests - all negative so far. No sign of a stroke, no sign of alzheimer's or any of that. No brain damage, no sign of neurological problems of any kind. They did a cardiac test this morning and we're waiting for the results of that. I'm thinking it could be blood sugar. I hope they find out what it is and that it's something treatable.

Also while he was out, I did a really dumb thing and let Matilda (my ball python) see my hand which was holding the feeding tongs (the tongs were holding her dinner). She got distracted away from the dinner and toward my hand (oops). Already in "feeding" mode, she calculated a precise trajectory through the chink between the lid and tank where the feeding tongs were entering the tank, and struck. Next thing I knew, she had grabbed my middle finger with her needle-sharp teeth and proceeded to wrap my hand and attempt to swallow my finger (my finger tip looks like vampire victim). Hopefully she decided I tasted awful. I used suction on the finger and dowsed it in alcohol and antibiotics. It wasn't at all infected by this morning, so I think it'll be fine. However, it's very bad to allow something like that to happen - snakes aren't the sharpest pencils in the pack, and once they associate something with "food" it's difficult to convince them otherwise.

The next thing that happened (much less serious) was that our Siamese cat went into heat and was waiting to yell at [livejournal.com profile] rialian when he got back. We unfortunately can never have her fixed, because we determined that she's very allergic to innoculations which are required for neutering. We're also afraid to risk anasthetic because we're not sure which other chemicals she might be deadly allergic to. She was done with the preliminary presenting and well into "shriek week" by the time he came home. I usually make a special effort to remind him that, well, you know, his cat? She's in heat. (In case he missed it). His usual response to that is "Thank you, thank you very much. That's really ... helpful."

Anyway, I'm glad he's back...
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
My mom turned 88 today. At dinner, she told me she won't be driving anymore. The macular degeneration has progressed too far to correct with glasses, and one eye is getting a cataract. Also, the arm she broke a few months ago caused her to stop driving for a while, and that arm still isn't too strong (it's healed a lot but still needs therapy).
I suggested surgery for the cataract, but I don't think she thinks it's worth it.

I had always wanted the decision to stop driving to be her decision, and it was. I never said anything. She said it herself. My uncle had tried to pretend he was talking about something else when he whispered to my brother "the doctor said her vision is marginal". He was trying to get us to make her stop driving. What I guess he didn't know is that her doctor had already told her and she had told me.

Later she said that when she's feeling low, a little drink of Drambuie before bed helps.

Having no idea what Drambuie is, I looked it up...
Ah, so it's a type of whisky. Its name derives from a Gaelic phrase meaning "The drink that satisfies". "An dram buidheach."
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Wellp, just got back from my mom's house - thanks to everyone for well wishes. She seems ok, but will be needing help with anything that requires lifting arm over head (which isn't happening for quite a while), such as changing upper garmets and such. I'll be going over daily to assist with that. Her arm is, well, black and blue and other assorted colors (worse than my foot was when I broke a metatarsal several years back), and her face looks like she was in a boxing match. They put her arm in a sling - apparently for this kind of injury a cast is not used. She's supposed to dangle the arm twice daily and rotate it from side to side (but keep it close to her side - not try to lift it outward yet (that comes later). They're still considering whether to go for surgery, which would restore more mobility. Right now they're leaning away from that because of her age. She will need my help changing upper foundation garments for a while. My brother has the shopping under control, and they have a cleaning lady come in to do the housework - so all she has to do is to be careful. She's on codeine, so I'm worried she might be woozy and slip, damaging things further. Once it mends a little more they'll probably add motions she's supposed to do with that arm. [livejournal.com profile] rialian and I did some reiki and other energy work on her while we were there, and she commented that we had "magic hands"...

Apparently she didn't see a small step that was outside the auto mechanic's office and her foot rolled off the step - she had fallen before she knew what had happened.

I just noticed that now my own right rotator cuff is sore for no reason. (This is why I can never, ever work in a hospital).
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
I just found out that my mom fell flat on her face, bruised her lip badly, broke her arm, and damaged her rotator cuff probably semi-permanently (will require therapy for a long time). I'm going over there now. See you when I resurface.

April 2010



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