June 29, 2010

Drunk as a skunk

My brother has discovered alcohol.  I mean, he had already discovered alcohol last summer, which got him into trouble.  Now, however, he's decided he can be a Class-A jerk about it and flaunt his consumption.  He walked into the house with cases of beer and a fifth of whiskey, and is recalcitrant to any suggestions of moderation.

Today, despite being "grounded,' he was allowed to go hang out with some friends.  He came home hours later in a strange, giggly-irritable mood and had had fourteen beers on little to no food.

Being inexperienced, he didn't recognize a good thing when he saw it, namely the glass of water I got him or the crackers I tried to convince him to eat.  Even drunk, he maintains his neurosis that I am out to get him and only exist to tell him what to do and pretend to be his mom.  Too bad for him, I am turning into our mother...and he needs all the parental attention he can get, with his foul mouth and fouler moods.

I'm starting to think my mother's refrain is the best one:

"He just needs to go to school.  He just HAS. TO. GO."

June 28, 2010

So am I Thelma or Louise?

My mom had her knee replaced about two weeks ago.  She's been having a lot of pain in it over the last few years, probably even the whole time I was in college, and she had arrived at the point of being unable to bend her knee and as a result, hobbling around like a pirate with a peg leg, her right leg swinging out and around to the side with every step.

When she was wheeled into her room on the ninth floor, we were already there waiting for her (having marginally beaten her up the elevator).  My brother, my mom's brother and his wife, and my dad's sister--all of us waiting to welcome her back from her anesthetized journey into the operating room.

I brought up her luggage and mine, too--we were both there to stay.  I put things away, trying for a bit of a homey touch but honestly, putting a few pairs of underwear in a cabinet and hanging an outfit from a hanger doesn't really add that much to the ambiance of a hospital room.

The whole first day, she does really pretty well: her leg is swaddled hip to toe in an enormous ace bandage, adding three inches to her leg's diameter.  She has a continuous passive motion machine that moves her leg from extended to a set number of degrees of flexion.  More importantly, she has a happy button, a self-medication switch that allows her to dispense morphine as needed (within safe limits) in order to monitor her pain.

The first night is restless and neither of us get much sleep.  The nurses and techs come in and out almost on the hour, checking her incision drain, her vital signs, the CPM.  The next morning, I get dressed and go to the cafeteria to forage for food once Mom has eaten.  I stay with her all day but by the afternoon I feel smelly and exhausted.  My friends are going to see Karate Kid and she encourages me to go.   I leave as she is napping to go home, soak in the tub, have dinner and see the movie.

When I get to the hospital, the pavilion doors are locked because it's after 10:30pm.  Not just on the second floor, in the skyway bridge to the parking garage--the ones on the ground floor are locked, too.  I slip inside when a woman in pink scrubs walks out.

Wednesday, Mom decides to wash her hair.  It is an ordeal.  Once she comes back upstairs from her physical therapy session, while she is already in the wheelchair we decide to go on an adventure.  I think by now, the nurses and techs have realized that a) Mom is stubborn and determined to do things perhaps ahead of schedule and b) I am her dedicated accomplice.  I wheel her down the hall, her shampoo travel bottle wedged in my pocket and a towel over my shoulder.  We overshoot the right room and ask a nicely dressed woman in an office where the beauty-shop chair is (it is in the shower room).  She holds the door as I wheel Mom in, and we quickly realize this is impossible for me alone to help her do.  Our tech comes and apparently the woman was her boss.  She says she was scolded for losing her patient, and calls us Thelma and Louise.  We decide that Mom can just stand at the sink while I help her scrub and rinse her hair.

Back in the hospital bed, Mom can blowdry her hair and it is obvious that she is pleased by this small accomplishment.  That night, I go home to sleep and it is blessedly restful.  In the morning, I bring real coffee and the crossword puzzle and Mom knows we just have to get through Thursday, the last day, all the way through before she can come home to her own bed.

The worst part was the steps up to her bedroom.  Seventeen of them, my hand on the small of her back but with my fingers curled around the gait belt; she, inching upwards, one step at a time, and I, praying that she doesn't lose her balance because despite using the belt correctly I am sure that I would not be able to support her.

We make it up the stairs, no problem.

June 12, 2010


This has been a pretty new summer.  New car, new school, new apartment, new places, new experiences, new responsibilities.  They merited a new blog design, and since Blogger lets you design your own template now, I thought I'd tweak one of the ones they had available for this nice, summery one!

I'm still getting used to my new car.  My van was old, not really past its prime per se but definitely on the decline.  I think it would qualify as a senior citizen.  If every human year is supposedly seven dog years, how many car years is it?  Maybe four or five?  Let's see...the minivan was eighteen...that's aged seventy-two to ninety, somewhere in there.  Definitely qualifying for Medicare and the Senior discount at twenty-four hour breakfast chain restaurants.  My car is "Barcelona Red Metallic" and my toenail polish matches (I'll admit it, I did it on purpose.  It's a nice color).  It has a sun roof and air conditioning, dark gray leather interior, and it gets fifty miles to the gallon.  Wait, what?  I own a car that gets fifty miles to the gallon?  I can't believe it either.  That's probably a full three times better than the van.

Something about all these new things feels really good.  I have this sense that I can start over, do whatever I want, reinvent myself if I want to, decide again how I will be perceived, reform myself and in general, improve.  It's a little scary, but it's an exciting kind of scary.  Like when you watch a really good scary movie and you're ready to freak out, and you drive home with the dome lights on in your car, but then for weeks afterward you remember how awesome the movie was.

At the same time, though, I was just reminded of how good old things can be, too.  In the past twenty-four hours I've finally seen and hung out with two of my best friends from high school: it's odd how we just pick up like before, as if we haven't parted ways or as if it hasn't been months since we saw each other last.  Seeing them makes me feel settled in my own skin, the way you feel when you wake up and it's just cool enough in the room for the warm cocoon of blankets to feel delicious wrapped around you, and you snuggle in and luxuriate in being wrapped up in a perfect, you-sized wallow in the bed.

June 4, 2010

Green Smoothie

My mom got a super-fancy blender like chefs use that's really a high-powered turbo food processor in the body of a blender.  As a result, I've been drinking tons of smoothies and making lots of purees.  I've been making green smoothies as a way to get more veggies (yay, spinach!), and usually they're delicious and you don't even taste the spinach if you make a mixed-berry smoothie with a splash of OJ or a little yogurt.

Today, however, I made the first green smoothie which I have not enjoyed.  Beware, ye of many vegetables!  The way to a terrible-tasting green smoothie is:

1/3 c. very ripe cantaloupe
juice of 1/2 a lime
4-5 chunks of pineapple with 1-2 T juice
a large handful of spinach, washed
a large handful of ice
3 large spoonfuls of yogurt

I think it was the cantaloupe, or maybe the cantaloupe + yogurt combination.  Or maybe it was slightly too much yogurt overall.  The smoothie wasn't inedible (I drank it) but it made me think slightly of spinach dip, or creamed spinach.  Not a good smoothie flavor...