Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pain-free evening

Yesterday evening, Kevin, Joyce and I took a drive into Mt. Pleasant to celebrate something (see future blog post). Sammy was at a friend's overnight (such a social butterfly!).

Our destination: Applebee's. Purpose: The Perfect Margarita

Mission successful.

After 2 regular Perfect Margaritas (I can't type that without the capitalization; I've tried, I just can't...), I went for a 3rd and chose the Perfect Pomegranate Margarita. Superb. But, as I explained to the waitress, far too little in the container for $6.50 or so per drink. (Yes!) So she brought me a 4th at no charge. Sweet, wonderful young woman.

Kev did help drink some, by the way... I managed to remain quite upright. It was wonderful. We ordered some appetizers, and the 3 of us ate, drank and talked, and it was very nice. Big, fat onion rings with BBQ sauce for dipping... I would not have thought of BBQ sauce for them, but they were delicious.

Joyce drove us home, which is why Kev and I could cut loose.

And then she managed to get me to agree to a 3-year subscription to XM radio or something. For $350. That girl knows when to ask a question. And her timing was nearly impeccable...

She tracked me down out in the pole barn... where I had went to use our only functioning bathroom (and where Kev had found me... and that boy knows when to ask a question too!). Our toilets and faucets in the house are all on hold while the major dose of chlorine dumped into our well by the well guy yesterday does its thing. We can hopefully begin using them later today. We thought we had a Major Problem with our well &/or pump, and we kinda sorta did, but not with any mechanism. With ants. Yes, ants. They had invaded our well and were clogging it up. We have been drinking water which has passed through many ants. Our water was filled with anty-bodies. Gagging commenced.

I don't know what it is with ants this year, but they are EVERYWHERE. I don't mean there are a few more than usual, I mean the population of ants has EXPLODED. Our yard is full of them. Thankfully, they haven't invaded our actual house... yet... Kev is beginning the anti-ant campaign next week.

I'm not sure when I will next drink our water, but it won't be anytime real soon... *sigh* I write this post sans coffee, and that is a sad situation. I'm heading off to pottery, but I'm driving an extra 12 miles to get coffee first, gas prices be damned!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Coz I haven't done 'em in a while... bullet points!

  • I had to change my password at work. My previous password was “athome04” which I created earlier this year when I found out my medical leave was going to be extended, and “athome04” meant I’d be working “at home until early April.” After April passed by and I was still stuck at home, it just got too depressing to input that password all the time.

  • My cell phone ring tone song for when Kev calls me is “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.” It makes me happy. Like Kev does. (Most of the time anyway.)

  • For Joycie, I have a theme from the movie, “Braveheart,”... “A Gift of a Thistle,” which totally fits her... it’s beautiful and haunting in a way only Irish ballads can be. Like my beautiful, moody daughter.

  • For Sammy, I have the theme from the movie, “Caddyshack,”... “I’m Alright”... don’t nobody worry about me, and that’s my boy through and through!

  • Mike’s cell phone ring tone song for when Joycie calls him is “I Think I Love You.” Awww...

  • Posted on the inside door of each stall in the women’s bathroom at work is a sign that reads, “Please be sure to flush the toilet. Be considerate of others!” I don’t know what is worse, those signs or the fact that they have to be posted. Or the fact that some people still don’t pay attention to them.

  • A friend of mine here at work saw I was at my desk in my dinky little cubicle this morning and said, “Hi, Julie!” Only she didn’t say it, it was more like she hollered it out sharply... and it scared the livin’ piss outta me... so I jerked my head around, and... OWWWWW!!!!! She didn’t mean to startle me. But now my neck is hurting so badly that I just wanna lay my head on my desk and bawl. Seriously, I am writing this blog post only because I’m waiting a little bit for the Valium I had to ingest to take effect... and I don’t feel quite capable of concentrating right now. So I guess I will open my mail next. (Yuck.)

  • I used to use an old-fashioned letter opener to open my mail... but since I work in the area of payroll taxes (employer compliance), I get a lot of incoming mail. A veritable shitload, I tells ya. So a few years back, I had an epiphany and ordered those openers that have little razors in them so you can just zip, zip, zip open envelopes. Also, they are a beautiful shade of blue. I loves ‘em.

  • I just attended a department presentation. It included a congratulatory celebration for 3 people who led and finished some big projects. For each of the 3 people, someone presented for them by giving a short talk about the projects and the person. One woman talking used the word “project” about a kazillion and one times... which, of course, made sense, because it was about the person doing the project. But... instead of pronouncing it pruh-ject like usual (when it’s a noun), she pronounced it prō-ject, with a long o, like in oh, no!. She didn’t pronounce it prō-JECT like “you must project your voice out to the audience” (like when it’s a verb), she went with PRŌ-ject. Over and over and over and over and over... PRŌ-ject, PRŌ-ject, PRŌ-ject, PRŌ-ject. Little things like that make me forget to listen to what the person is saying, and instead, I start to wait for the next instance of PRŌ-ject. *sigh*

Mornings are best

Mornings are definitely best for me. It’s not just that I’m getting older (but that’s probably part of it, too), but my neck pain is more manageable from about 5:30am to about 11:00am. Not that I totally can’t stand it the rest of the day, but it’s just better in the mornings.

Since starting back to work in May, it’s been more difficult. I’m only working in the office 3 days each week for 4-hour stints. I do a lot of work from home, also. Actually, on the days I don’t go into the office and only work from home, I can put in more than 8 hours of work and get a ton of work done. When I go into the office, though, I would get home and more than one time, would just fall onto the sofa or the bed and stay there for 2, 3 or 4 hours... ugh.

I worked from home all day Monday and yesterday. Monday afternoon about 3pm, I went and laid down on my bed for a short rest. Sometimes it gets to the point where IJUSTHAVETOLAYMYHEADDOWN! And when those times happen, my lovely, lovely memory foam pillow is calling me.

Other times, after working at my desk for a few hours, I can tell I need a break, and the recliner in the living room calls out to me. Like yesterday... I didn’t realize how much time had passed, so I was at my desk for several hours. Suddenly, I was like, SHIT. Ow. Pain. Upright too long. So I hobbled like a very-old-person-walking-on-thin-ice-like-it’s-gonna-break-any-second on over to the recliner and carefully lowered myself down onto it and laid my head back against it’s wonderful comforting softness. Ahhhhhh...

But then, I remember... I need pain pills and I need them now. Do I get up? Are you kidding? I holler... Sammy! (pause) Sammy!! (pause) SAMMY!!! Usually he’s nearby, like up in his bedroom. Most of the time he’ll come out of his room and start directly down the stairs saying, “What do you need, Momma?” Because by now, my sweet, caring son knows the drill. “Tylenol, Vicodin, water,” I say. And he gets it for me. Other times, he’ll come out of his room and stand at the top of the stairs and says, “What?!” He is 13, after all.

So Monday afternoon when I laid down on my bed (ahhhhhhhh...), I holler... Sammy! (pause) Sammy!! (pause) SAMMY!!! I hear him at the top of the stairs, “What?!” I say, “c’mere.”



He comes into our bedroom and asks what I need. I said, “please, honey, just come lay down with me for a minute, I need a Sammy-hug.” (Sammy-hugs are getting less popular now that he’s 13; he loved giving them when he was little.) I can tell he’s not happy. “Please,” I say, “I’m really hurting right now.” (I pull the guilt card, oh yeah, I do.)

So he lays down next to me and hugs me, and I say, “Please just rub my neck for a minute.” He does. Ahhhh... He’s not super good at it, mostly because he really doesn’t want to do it. I mean, he cares about me and all, but y’know... So after about 1 minute, he kinda stops. I sigh. Even one minute is so very nice. For some reason, my son's hands, large for a 13-year-old (he's always been one of the tallest, biggest boys in his class), anyway, Sam's hands are always warm. When he was little, he usually didn't want to wear mittens or a hat in cold weather, or often not a coat, either, for that matter. And his hands would always be so warm.

Sam says, “Mom, are you ever without pain?”

“No, Sam,” I say, “I guess I’m not. I guess I haven’t really thought about it minute-by-minute, but yeah, right now I’m always dealing with some level of pain.”

So we talk. He asks how long it will take to 'get over this', and I tell him I guess about a year from the second surgery is what I hear. He says that sucks. I agree. He asks if I have to take pills for all that time, and I tell him I hope not. I hope I can get to a point where I won’t need them.

We stopped talking and just laid there, and after a while, I said, “You know, there was one time recently when I wasn’t really feeling pain. At Applebee’s when we went there after Michael’s graduation.” (I still have to post about my nephew, Michael’s, graduation commencement, but afterwards, while Joyce and Mike were still at Bay Med, Kevin, Sammy and I took my sister, Kathy, my brother-in-law, Bob, and my niece, Michelle out to Applebee’s to celebrate. Michael appeared for a minute, before he had to leave for the all-night seniors’ party. It is kind of like a tradition... does twice make it tradition? Hmmm...)

Sam laughed and said, “Oh, yeah. Those Perfect Margaritas.”

If you like margaritas, then you must find an Applebee’s near you and try their Perfect Margaritas. Seriously, they don’t call 'em perfect for nothin'.

I smiled and sighed and said, “Yes.”

Sammy said, “Yes, those 3 Perfect Margaritas.”

Um, no... I tell him that I had only 2. The 3rd one the waiter delivered was for Aunt Kathy. A 3rd one probably would've put me on the floor.

Sammy said, “That night was so much fun.” I heartily agreed with him, and we talked for a while about how much fun it was.

“We should do that again soon,” he said. I heartily agreed with him.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

No Escape

I'm not sure what the name of the department or group is where Joycie is working out in the plant; I think it's shipping & receiving of some kind. I know she is occasionally (or often?) around rail cars, warehouses, pallets, 55-gallon drums, semi-tanks and that type of stuff.

On one of her recent lunch breaks, she drew a picture in MS paint & e-mailed it to her Dad with a note that read, "I made this on my break, I thought that you would like it and maybe it would brighten up your day." I heard about it from Kevin, and I had him forward the e-mail to me... Joyce can't e-mail to anyone outside of the company, and she cannot access the Internet, either... which is pretty typical for SEEDs, and for co-op employees, too (also student employees). So last night when Kev was at a computer at work and logged on to his Outlook, I talked him through how to forward the e-mail to me.

Yes, that is the honest truth. He doesn't know how to forward an e-mail. The man doesn't even know our home e-mail address. Don't even get me started again on retrieving voice mail on his cell phone. It just will never happen. He fights every step of electronic progress tooth and nail. The day they manage to computerize any part of a chainsaw, for whatever reason they could possibly come up with, will be the day Kev will croak from absolute frustration. Do you hear me world? Don't mess with the almighty chainsaw. Some things are just too sacred to computerize.

So anyway, back to the topic at hand, and by the way, a bit of upfront info for you... the 55-gallon drums are often bright blue. I don't know if that's true everywhere or just in our chemical manufacturing facilities in our town.

Here is Joyce's artwork...

I love it that she used ellipses in it...

Monday, June 16, 2008

The long, long story of Joycie & her one good kidney

Joyce finished her 2nd semester and first full year of college, with exams done by Friday, May 2nd. In April, she had applied for a job at Dow Corning for the summer and was waiting to hear on it. Through Kevin's employment at Dow Corning and his membership in United Steelworkers Local 12934, Joyce was eligible for one of the SEED jobs available. SEED, Summer Employment for Employee Dependents, is a college student summer job program for employees' sons & daughters who are full-time college students. Joyce was very fortunate to get one of the clerical jobs at the local plant. The hours are 7:30am to 4pm Monday through Friday, and she makes $8.50 an hour... about a buck more per hour than most college students are making on a summer job in our town. And working no evenings, no weekends. Very nice. And, she's mostly in air-conditioned offices, though not super nice, sleek office surroundings... we're talking a chemical manufacturing site. But still, a super summer job for a college student. And she's a union employee, just like her daddy.

Her job started on Tuesday, May 27th, the day after the Memorial Day holiday. She would have loved to start earlier... she had most of the month of May off. Her first day on the job was mostly with all the SEED students and was all about site orientation, safety, the union, that kind of thing. Her second day on the job took place at the actual job she's working, and again was mostly orientation.

She missed the next 2 days.

Wednesday after Joyce got off work, she drove straight over to Mike's in Bay City. She planned to stay overnight with his family and go into work from there Thursday morning.

Joyce had complained of what I thought was a UTI (urinary tract infection), so I told her to eat yogurt and to drink cranberry juice (which she hates) and lots and lots of water. Joyce has a very high pain tolerance, though, so by the time she complained to me for what I thought was a UTI, it was likely already a bladder infection. She had a lot of pain Wednesday evening, so Mike took her to an urgent care medical place near their home. Her urine tested positive for blood, so they gave her a prescription for an antibiotic for a bladder infection, which Mike and Joyce filled on their way back home.

But... her pain increased through the evening, and by 1:00am she was deeply in pain. She called me and said Mike was taking her to Bay Med's ER. I asked her if she thought she could make it to Midland's ER, but she couldn't... it was a 5-minute drive vs. a 30-minute drive, and they went to Bay Med ER. She must have been in very severe pain by this time. They gave her morphine at the ER, and she told me later that it had helped.

An eventual CT scan showed that her right kidney was 3 times larger than normal. They admitted her to the hospital proper, and put her in Room 660. It was a room with 2 beds, Nos. 559 & 660, and it was a "kidney dialysis" room. I think they put her in that room just in case... She got to Room 660 about 6:30am, I believe. Mike was with her, and I got there at about 7:45am... just as the G.P. doc assigned to her, Dr. Ahmed, was leaving. Basically, he told her that he had not reviewed her CT scan, but instead had called for a urologist, Dr. Kershen, and that he would be there "soon."

Joyce was still in a great deal of pain, though they had given her a 2nd shot of morphine at the ER just before she was admitted and moved to Room 660. Unfortunately, the dumb ass in the ER that gave her that 2nd shot of morphine pushed it into her IV with one fast push... so Joycie ended up feeling very, very nauseous as a result.

That was the beginning of what seemed to be one stupid, unbelievably inept, uncaring instance after another at that hospital. We had to ask for them to give her something for the nausea about 3 or 4 times before they finally did so.

The urologist did not arrive "soon"... we spent the morning with them telling us he would arrive "soon" and then, later in the morning, he would arrive "in the afternoon."

By about 3:00pm, I once again talked to that RN. I had asked much earlier in the day for someone to contact Dr. Kershen's office and find out WHERE THE HELL HE IS. The RN told me that he had office visits at his Midland office all day, so that's why he wasn't there at Bay Med to see Joyce yet, but he should be here by 5:00pm. I looked at her and said, "You and I both know that if we see him here at 5:00pm, we will be very, very surprised, right?" She agreed and said it would probably be more like 6:00 or 7:00pm... then I said, "So he is NOT coming in this afternoon, he is coming this evening, right?" Right.

I think it was shortly after that time when they decided to move Joyce down to Room 66502. They had people being admitted that actually needed the kidney dialysis room, so they moved her... Outside of each room is a plastic placard with the 2 bed numbers, and then at the foot of each bed is another plastic placard on the wall with the specific bed number for each of the 2 beds in the room. This was the placard outside of the room they moved Joyce into...

But this was the placard at the foot of her bed...


By 4:00pm, when Joyce had a searing headache, I asked for them to give her something for it. The RN in charge told me Dr. Kershen would be there "soon" and he'd prescribe something for her.

Two hours later, at 6:00pm I was at the nurses stations yelling at them. I'm talking volume here. Those people had given us so much bullshit through the day and had showed so very little care for my daughter that it was way over the limit for me. I told them to give her a couple of Tylenol or ELSE. I told them I had some goddamn Tylenol (yes, they drove me to SWEARING, and that made me even more angry) in my purse and they had 2 minutes, then I was giving her some. The RN said, "Oh, no! Don't do that." I said, "Then get your ass in gear." Turns out Room 666 was right on, coz I gave them the very devil.

By this time, I wanted to take Joyce out of Bay Med and move her to Midland. (By the way, Kev and Sammy were there by this time, arriving soon after Sammy got out of school at 2:30pm, and Kev had talked to Sharron, his step-mom, who gasped when she found out Joycie was at Bay Med, and told Kev the nickname for Bay Med is Bay Dead. Nice.)

The new RN (because of shift change of course) came in, all cheerful... I told her it was 7:15pm and Dr. Kershen had until 7:30pm and then WE WERE LEAVING to take Joyce to MidMichigan Medical Center in Midland. She was not cheerful when she left the room. She said she would page him. I said NO SHIT. And I followed her out to the nurses station. I heard her on the phone with him, and she apologized profusely about bothering him, but that I was threatening to take Joyce home if he wasn't there by 7:30pm. That really pissed me off. So there I was shouting at her while she was on the phone with him, correcting her statement that I didn't want to take Joyce home, I wanted to take her to the Midland hospital where she would actually be CARED FOR in a professional manner. Whoo-whee boy.

When she got off the phone, she informed me that Dr. Kershen was currently 60 miles away and would be at the hospital as soon as possible. WTF?!! I was told he was in Midland, 30 miles away.

It was about that time that I started making some calls. I called our insurance 24-hour nurse hotline, and found out that if we just walked out, it's known as AMA (against medical advice). Going AMA would consequently result in that we would be fully liable for all charges incurred thus far; insurance would not cover any of it. No AMA, got it. Bay Med has a "patient representative" on staff, so I called and asked for that person. They only work until 4pm, so the best they could do is have me talk to a nursing supervisor... did I want to, they asked... oh, hell yes.

I also called my family doctor's office and asked for the physician on call to call me back.

The nursing supervisor was clearly on the side of the nurses and Bay Med. Duh. Not exactly a patient advocate. She explained that once Dr. Ahmed (who we hadn't seen all day long, since his first & only 7:45am visit) had consulted Dr. Kershen, then Dr. Kershen legally had 24 hours in which to see Joyce. That was his legal obligation. So my bitching about him not showing up basically was fruitless. I explained that I wasn't bitching about him not showing up so much as I was bitching about being told ALL DAY LONG that he would be here any minute and it was now 7:30pm. I told her how they were pumping stuff into Joyce via IV all day long with no explanation. Oh, I told her so much... and I told her how Bay Med SUCKS, and that no way were we going out AMA, so she could just get Dr. Ahmed's ass up here to officially release Joyce, and if he wouldn't agree to do so, then he'd better show up and tell me to my face. (Dr. Ahmed, by the way, agreed to release Joyce.)

About this time, my family doctor's office on call doctor called me. I had my entire conversation with him in front of the nurse supervisor, staring at her the entire time, repeating what he said for her benefit. He agreed completely, after hearing my telling of the day's events, that Joyce was not getting proper attention, but he told me he would definitely not advise moving her to Midland, because that would start the 24-hour process all over again... and Midland would likely call Dr. Kershen also. He also said if it were his daughter, he'd want Dr. Kershen.

So I got off the phone with him, told the nurse supervisor we were staying, but only because of the advice of a doctor whom I trusted. But that she should know, I was not the type of person to just let the events of the day go by... more would be happening in the days to come, I threatened. I was a momma on a mission. She could tell.

Finally, finally at about 9:30pm, Dr. Kershen arrived. Was he worth the wait? Of course. He's a wonderful, caring man and one of the best in his field in our area. I just wish the wait could've been so much better for my poor daughter, who suffered in an awful way all day long, with pain, nausea and hunger. (They had her on a clear liquids diet all day, which Dr. Kershen promptly put an end to, thank goodness.)

Dr. Kershen explained to us that what Joyce had was definitely a kidney infection. We had figured this out on our own, actually. But the infection was to her right kidney only, the enlarged one. This was due to the fact that it was functioning at only about 1 or 2 percent, maybe, so the infected urine wasn't being flushed out of the kidney. Very painful. He explained that she has what is known as a UPJ obstruction (ureteropelvic junction obstruction) to her right kidney, which is why it has become so enlarged over time, and that it is something that happens in the womb. All of her life, Joyce has relied solely upon her left kidney for all the functions kidneys provide the body. Dr. Kershen took Kevin and I, both of us in sort of a state of shock by this point, to another room and showed us the CT scan images. He explained how it was not an uncommon affliction, and also that lots and lots of people live long lives with only one kidney. He also told us how his grandmother lived into her 80's with only one kidney all (or most of ) her life. His recommendation was to treat the infection with antibiotics by IV, which unbeknownst to us, Dr. Ahmed had prescribed (so he did do something!), do another test in the morning, a renal scan, and get a blood culture test going tonight so they can be assured the antibiotics are the right ones for the infection.

Dr. Kershen saw Joyce again I think it was either Friday afternoon or Saturday morning... the following hours merged for me into one hazy clump. Dr. Kershen said the antibiotics were fine, the infection was leaving (which I could tell by Joyce's improved condition), and that she would be good to go.

Joyce's barely functioning right kidney will remain in place hopefully for the rest of her life. Those kidneys, however, are prone to infections and stones, both of which are very, very painful and usually require a hospital stay... so if that becomes commonplace for Joyce, they'll just yank that kidney out of her. Dr. Kershen said removing the "dead" kidney will have no effect on Joyce at all, except it'll stop the infections and/or stones problems that would cause the removal, should that happen.

Later Thursday evening, after Dr. Kershen left, the nurse supervisor and the RN came into Joyce's room, very, very nice, and told us they were moving Joyce again, this time to Room 675. A huge, very nice private room. She also got cable TV (usually an $11/day charge). No extra charges for either. Everyone treated Joyce like gold from that moment on, until she was discharged on Saturday afternoon. They were even nice to me. Because she was in a private room, Mike could stay overnight with her. He had to sleep in a recliner, but he could stay with her. Joyce was doing so much better by then, which was after 11:00pm, and she much preferred Mike to stay with her over her dad or I, that's for sure.

(And sleeping in that recliner would have probably killed Kev or I!) Mike was so great through the whole ordeal. With his experience in hospitals, from the surgeries he's had, he knows stuff... and he didn't hesitate to tell the nurses what was needed. It was Mike who reminded them, sternly, about Joyce needing medication for her nausea early Thursday morning and finally got her some... he was awesome. He even gave her foot rubs...

That young man was (and is) wonderful, and having him there with her was the only thing that made me leaving late Thursday possible. I trust Mike with my daughter's life. They are that much in love, and he is that smart and capable.

This is Joycie talking on her cell to her daddy in her new, spacious room...

Now for the story of Room 675. First of all, it had a whole bank of windows on one wall... with a view you just gotta love from a hospital room...

That cemetery is an old, long-established cemetery in Bay City, and that photo shows only a portion of it. Turns out, Mike's gramma is buried there, but way down at the other end. It also turned out that when Mike's gramma became sick a couple of years ago, she went to Bay Med and stayed in Room 675. In fact, Room 675 is where his gramma died. Shortly after her death, like a couple of weeks, his grampa was diagnosed with colon cancer. I'm not sure about the details of the story, but because of the colon cancer, he was later admitted to Bay Med for treatment. And they put him in Room 675. Chills, right. When they took him for more tests for beginning treatment, they could find no colon cancer. They had films or whatever of it from a few days prior or so, but could find none then. Chills again, right. Izzy, Mike's mom, called me and asked what room they had moved Joycie to, and when I told her 675, she gasped. But then she said it was good, because her mom was a very spiritual woman, and she felt it was really good Joycie was in that room. I agreed.

But there's more. On Friday, Joycie's Grampa T., Gramma Sharron, & Uncle Rich (Grampa's younger brother) visited Joycie. Uncle Rich has had some health problems, and not too long ago ended up with having his left leg amputated just above the knee. Had something to do with his arteries; I'm not sure now of the medical terms. He had some problems, and was in and out of Bay Med. He lives about 6 blocks away, which is why he came with grampa and gramma to see Joycie. His final hospital stay was in, yep... Room 675. All good for Uncle Rich since then.

Freaky. But in a very good way. Joyce did not feel uncomfortable about being in that room; quite the opposite, actually. Knowing Mike and Izzy and her family, she was feeling more comforted than uncomfortable. She said she wished had been able to know Mike's gramma. I think in a way, now she does.

Joyce is all better now, and went back to work that following Monday. They were really great to her at work, and were quite concerned about her. No flack from 2 days absence. You'd think of course there would not be, but at some places, there would... Her only complaint is that she doesn't have enough work to keep her busy, so her job is boring. I told her to find something to do. Actually, Joycie improved much, much more quickly than I did. Being there Thursday from about 8am until about 11pm, with no comfortable place to sit (for my neck) and being so tense and upset for most of that time... ugh. I spent most of the hour ride home that night bawling... from all of it, from pain, for my daughter's kidney... then back in the hospital with her Friday and again Saturday morning... I spent the remainder of Saturday, after we got home from Bay Med, and all day Sunday in bed.

So now, we have to get Sammy checked out on his kidney situation. Just because Joycie has this condition, doesn't mean Sammy does, but statistics do show that when one sibling has it, other siblings can be prone. No medical proof though. Of course, not... as far as my research shows, they don't know why this UPJ obstruction occurs. It just happens. Nowadays, they can discover it in utero via ultrasound, and sometimes repair it in utero. Also, by the way, this condition does not affect Joycie's ability to have a child. Though, you can bet, the ultrasound to check for this condition will definitely occur once (or if, I suppose I must add) she ever does become pregnant.

So there it is. I told you it was a long story... a long, long story.

One more thing... last, but not least, here is a photo of the big, rolling granite ball fountain in the front entrance of Bay Med...

It's an awful cell phone photo, but no photo could do it justice anyway... you have to see it in person. It is so cool. So big. So rolling. So watery. So soothing. So mesmerizing. I want one.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

One month and one day ago...

Back when we had our short, fleeting moment of springtime, Joycie and I drove over to my folks one beautiful, early evening in May, and we took a ride on their golf cart. I had to talk Joycie into this little adventure; she was oddly reluctant. I wanted [her] to dig up some new, little sassafras trees and plant them on the edge of the woods near our pond. I love sassafras trees, and we have none on our 80 acres, nor anywhere on the state land surrounding us. Weird, I know. They're pretty doggone common 'round here. But we have none. My sister, Kathy, has zillions, and she mows them down like the weeds she believes them to be. But I want some! Leaves shaped like a hand waving Hi! to you, beautiful fall colors and snarly crookedly beautiful tree skeletons in the winter. I don't want some, I want lots of them.

So Joycie and I searched for baby sassafras trees. Unfortunately, I couldn't identify which of all the growth were those, and they went undug and unplanted (to this day, I might add, sadly). We then drove the golf cart down to the West 20 near the river to view all the lush, green growth. It was so beautiful. Well, of course, it still is beautiful, but that day was just about perfect. It was a wondrous assault on one's senses... the newly risen green, green, green ferns, the springtime swirled up brown of the river, the wildflowers...

... the dog shit we ran over and embedded in the knobby front tire...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Feeling blue

The little guy below, an Indigo Bunting, has shown up at the feeders... still trying to get a better photo of him, but here's my best one so far...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A post! A post!

My lack of posting lately has been because... because... I'm tired. That's really my only excuse.

So much has been going on, so much good matter for posting. Like...

My nephews, Michael and James, both graduated from high school. I got to see Michael's commencement and his Valedictorian speech. James' high school is an hour away and on the day of his commencement I was busy checking Joycie out of the hospital. But we did get over to James' open house, which was awesome. Considering my brother and sister-in-law put on that huge party (with tons of great food) the day after a major storm and thus with no electric power, using generators, it was an amazing get-together. We've had lots of thunderstorms in Michigan, and thousands of folks without power as a result. Not here in our neck of the woods, more south of us. Oh yes, Joycie has only one functioning kidney... her left one is the hard-working organ; her lazy right has been lazy since birth. Three days in the hospital from an infection, wherein we discovered her unique kidney arrangement, and subsequently discovered it ain't so unique. She recovered more quickly than I. Her hospital stay was... unique.

Let's see... my in-laws had a helpful neighbor cut down a relatively small tree for them. Unfortunately, while they were gone, on a very windy day (did I mention all the storms we've been having?) and after he'd had a few. The tree missed their house, but took out the power line attached directly to their house, and since it was attached to their house, you know, really, really well... when it came out, it took some of the house with it. What a mess.

Oh, yes, our niece, Stephanie, daughter of my husband's sister, Lisa, also graduated from high school; she was Salutatorian. They live in Nevada, in the Las Vegas area. Huge, huge high school. Nope, we did not attend commencement ceremonies there either. Pretty awesome Stephanie was Salutatorian, though.

And we have another high school graduate; our friends Jay and Sue have their eldest graduating, too. They live in Texas, near Houston, and Kelsey is another smart one. I think she's attending a college near Boston. Not Harvard, I believe, though she's smart enough to get in there. We'll get to see Jay, Sue & Kelsey, along with the other 2 of their brood, Drew and Brooke, toward the end of this month. Now that will warrant a blog post...

Our friends, Sandy and Brian, who have lived in Texas for about 23 years in a very busy metropolis area between Dallas and Ft. Worth went and bought 10 beautiful Texas acres and are having a house built. Their contractor said they'd be moving in by July 4th, and I do believe he's getting done early. Imagine, a contractor building a house and getting done early! The guy has a stellar reputation, and from the photos Sandy has e-mailed to me, the house is absolutely gorgeous. We're planning a quick Texan trip later this summer to see them, and oh, yeah, their new house, too. I can't wait to see her KITCHEN. She is having all the stuff I want... double ovens, 6-burner cooktop, etc., etc., etc. Since Sandra Jean is about the best cook I know, the woman deserves a dream kitchen. Sandy, I'm so happy for you; I will have to post a photo of your gorgeous new home.

Sammy had his last day of 7th grade yesterday, and then party, party, party afterwards. I'm so glad school's over. And yes, Sam is also glad. Though he always misses his daily socializing that school provides... But also, with my still less-than-full-time work schedule, it will be so nice not to have to daily arrange Sammy's transportation. What I would have done without my sister, Kathy, through this whole neck thing, I do not know. My sister, Kathy, has been above and beyond for me, and not just helping with Sammy... helping me with my mental stability as well. I love that woman.

Let's see... oh, we had another graduation! My niece, Alana, received her B.S. degree from Alma College. My sister, Janet, kindly had a backyard barbecue where we could all gather and celebrate. Alana plans to go on to CMU and become a Physician's Assistant.

And speaking of CMU, Joycie completed her 2nd semester, first full year, of college at CMU. She's moved back home, thank the Good Lord. It's so wonderful to have her home again. Joyce was lucky enough to get a summer job at Dow Corning, and she's officially a Union member. Dream summer job for a college kid.

Mike graduated also! From Bay City Central High School, and Joycie was released from the hospital (Bay Med) the day before his commencement, so she was able to attend his commencement ceremonies and a family gathering afterwards. That was a close one, though... we thought she would have to be in the hospital still... I think she would have left her hospital room and went down the street (the high school and Bay Med are right next to each other in Bay City) to see him graduate! Mike's open house is coming up in a couple of weeks. That's another nice thing about Joycie living back at home... we get to see our Mike a lot more often.

I've also got to go into Space Studios & work on some pottery pieces a few times lately... starting back very, very slowly. That's where my very little free time and very little extra energy has been spent instead of posting. Pottery. Ahhh... That about covers it. It's my spirit-lifting-stress-relieving-happy-time. I'm a card-carrying member of The Clay Club now, and every time I think of that, I get a happy little ripple from my head to my toes.

And of course... work. Work, work, work. My backlog from being gone from the office from January 18th through May 12th is just as you could imagine... GINORMOUS. Working from home through my medical leave, keeping up on e-mail, was one saving grace... I also had great help on the incoming mail, and received some things at home to keep up on. But the work. Oh. My. Heck. And I'm still only working 4-hour increments 3 times per week. It's not enough time in the office of course, but it has turned out to be more than enough time for me. It's physically draining to a point I would not have believed possible. Yesterday I worked my "4 hours" (plus a little more), came home, actually put on my PJ's and fell into bed for 3+ hours. I worked from home on Monday and Tuesday, and I really kicked ass... each of those days I put in way more than 8 hours total. But I can do that at home with breaks, and Tuesday even included a short nap. Got tons and tons done. I had planned to renegotiate with my doctor to get more time in the office, but I'm holding off on that for now...

So... if you have made it this far, reading all the way down to here, the point is: lots of posts to follow with more details and photos.