Friday, August 12, 2016

Here it goes again

Mom's back in the hospital today. Dialysis hasn't been going well and she's retaining water, had coma-level blood sugars, low heartbeat and crazy blood pressure that's been going very high and very low. Her doctors are trying to figure it all out right now. Please pray for her.

ETA (8/13/16): Mom called me this morning from the hospital. She sounds in better spirits today, although she admits that when she first went in the ambulance she wasn't sure that she would make it. If I understand it correctly, the best theory is that she's been retaining water from the peritoneal dialysis she's been undergoing, plus the night before all this happened she had low blood sugar and took insulin on top of that. When she first got to the hospital, her blood glucose was in the 20s somewhere (for comparison's sake, it's supposed to be around 100). One of her doctors thinks she should go home today, and another insists she should go home tomorrow, so I guess they'll go out in the corridors and solve their differences the ancient medical way (LIGHTSABER BATTLE!).

ETA (8/14/16): Mom called me this afternoon to let me know she was home again. I don't know if she's out of the woods, but at least she's healthy enough to be out of the hospital!

Monday, August 01, 2016

Busy, busy, busy!

Yes, like the notorious magician Professor Hinkle in the animated Frosty the Snowman special of yesteryear, we are going to be "busy, busy, busy" this month. At some point or other, we've got to pull off all of the following:
  • find and purchase a car for Miss V DONE! (WOOT WOOT CM'S DAD!)
  • find Miss V an apartment in another state DONE
  • make sure the deposit and rent are paid on said apartment DONE
  • get a rental car DONE
  • pack all of Miss V's stuff into the rental car DONE
  • move all that stuff, plus Miss V, three states away for college [IN PROGRESS]
  • unpack all that stuff into aforementioned apartment
  • visit the fam
  • drive home solo
This isn't taking into consideration all the other standard-issue stuff that happens every month (doctor appointments, dentist appointments, home/visiting teaching, general errands, Epic Late-Night Grocery Runs, etc.), so it looks like we'll all have our hands full. Wheee.

So, long story short(er), if you start wondering why I'm not making many updates on the blog this month, wonder no more.
I'm just seeing what I can pull out of this hat.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Well, that's over.

Looks like the Republican Party has officially gone off the rails. So I'm voting straight-ticket Libertarian this year, and cordially invite those of you with a similar bent to do likewise.

That, or you could just write in Obi-wan Kenobi for president. After all, he is our only hope.

I've got a T-shirt with this on it. Best political shirt ever.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Please pray for Mom

My mom is in the hospital tonight. Her health has gone rapidly downhill over the last few days, and when she was admitted this evening her kidney function had dropped to 6%, she'd gained 20 pounds of fluid weight in two days, and she was suffering from congestive heart failure.

I've been trying to think as calmly and positively as possible, and not to panic over this news. I know the hospital is the best, safest place for Mom to be, and I'm grateful to my sisters for insisting on taking her there. I know they'll almost certainly start her on hemodialysis in the morning, which should fix a number of ills. And I've done everything I can think of to do -- except to ask you to pray for her. Please pray that she'll make it through the next 24 hours. And pray for our family, especially those members who are not taking these tidings well.

Faith isn't just something you believe in when things go smoothly, but something you keep believing in when things go wrong. I don't know how this is going to go. But I am making the active choice to be positive, to look forward with hope, to anticipate happier days ahead. (You could certainly pray for that as well.)

ETA (Thursday, July 7):
Mom's still in the hospital, and will probably be there at least four more days. They had to start her on emergency dialysis not long after she was admitted. This morning she needed a blood transfusion. Her doctors are concerned about getting a UTI under control (which was probably what started this whole incident in the first place, and caused her kidney function to go downhill so quickly). My siblings and family members have been over today to visit Mom, who has been fully cognizant, eating meals, etc. One of my brothers was able to give her a blessing. Tomorrow morning she'll have surgery to install a more permanent hemodialysis port in her chest.

Thanks so much to all of you who have offered prayers and other support. You have no idea how much it means to us. I know there are many many things wrong in the world right now, but there are also so many people who do what they can to help make things right, and they renew my hope.

ETA (Friday, July 8):
This morning Mom successfully had a port put in for hemodialysis. She was resting afterward and they were just about to take her to dialysis treatment when her blood pressure dropped precipitously. Once they had her blood pressure stabilized, they took an EKG to try to find out what was going on. Unfortunately, they can't really proceed with dialysis until they find out what caused her BP to go so low. So now we're playing the waiting game until her doctor has a chance to analyze the EKG. During all this, Mom's been fully alert and able to answer all her doctors' questions, even with the blood pressure drop.

ETA (Saturday, July 9):
Mom went through dialysis today. She had another incident of atrial fibrillation (which is apparently what caused the blood pressure drop yesterday), but they caught it immediately and she's now stable. Until the doctors can figure out what's causing her to go into a-fib, she's going to need to stay in ICU -- so it looks like she'll be there a few more days.

ETA (Sunday, July 10):
Well, Mom had a stress test and a chest X-ray. Her heart looks fine. The best the doctors can figure is that the a-fib incidents are from stress caused by all the extra fluid in her system. So she did another round of dialysis today (we were told she'd undergo dialysis every day she was in the hospital, so this was unsurprising) and they took 5 liters of fluid out of her (yes, 5! That's over a gallon!).

ETA (Monday, July 11):
More dialysis today... AND, better yet, they moved Mom out of the ICU! So that's good news. Hoping the improvements to her health will proceed apace.

ETA (Tuesday, July 12):
Another a-fib incident overnight. However, no dialysis today, which Mom was happy about (we talked a few times on the phone today) because dialysis makes her feel really cold. We'll see whether the day without dialysis is also a day without a-fib. I pray her doctors can figure out what's triggering them.

ETA (Wednesday, July 13):
Mom is home! She called me just before taking a much-needed nap (nobody sleeps well in the hospital). Hemodialysis will continue over the next few days. Her doctors will need to work carefully together to maintain her health, especially since a-fib incidents combined with chronic kidney disease dramatically increase the chances of stroke, but she's home.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Invisible battles

Today I was reminded again of the truth of a well-worn saying attributed to Wendy Mass: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about." And I was reminded that it's not just true for strangers I brush up against in passing, or people in obvious distress. It's also true for dear friends, close family members, intimates in my life. Even the people I think I know the best have internal struggles and burdens which they fear to share with others.

In fact, I believe the closer you are to someone, the more difficult it can be to share certain things with that person because when you're so deeply invested, you can develop a much greater fear of rejection from him or her. If I tell a stranger something that's hard for me to share and that stranger blows me off, so what? It was just a stranger, anyway. But if I share a deeply-concealed burden with my brother, my mother or my beloved, and I'm rejected for it -- well, that's devastating.

So. I'm trying to be more kind. I'm trying to be patient. And most of all, I'm trying to be brave enough to share long-held and closely-guarded burdens with loved ones. It's not easy, but I'm beginning to realize that it's crucial.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

An open letter to the parents of Brock Allen Turner [note: disturbing content]

Dear Dan and Carleen Turner,

It's absolutely critical that you understand something. So let me state it as clearly as possible: Your son, Brock Allen Turner, was convicted of sexually assaulting and attempting to rape an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.

I know this is an uncomfortable truth for any parents to face about their child. But it's high time someone took you aside and explained this to you. Because from the time you learned of Brock's arrest to the time of this writing, nothing you have publicly stated about your son seems to suggest that you have even a cursory understanding of the facts of the case.

Brock Allen Turner's mug shot
You have painted your son Brock in affectionate, glowing terms before the court, speaking of his happy-go-lucky personality, his fondness for steak and other snacks, his personal sacrifices to become a great swimmer. And it only makes sense that you would portray him this way. No parent wants to believe that he or she raised a bad seed. But none of these heartfelt personality sketches budge the recalcitrant fact that Brock was convicted of sexually assaulting and attempting to rape an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.

You believe your son should experience minimal jail time for his crime, and protest that he should not be permanently registered as a sex offender, claiming that the damage to his psychiatric health and reputation would be too great. You seem not to realize that Brock was convicted of sexually assaulting and attempting to rape an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. The woman he assaulted has publicly stated that the trauma he inflicted on her "doesn't expire, doesn't just go away after a set number of years. It stays with me, it's part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life." Why should your son receive only a specified time to experience the consequences of his actions, when the woman he dragged behind a dumpster, digitally penetrated and attempted to rape must live forever with the fallout from Brock's acts of sexual assault?

You seem to suppose that because your son is a talented swimmer and an Olympic hopeful, he should not have to endure a punishment that could ruin his promising future and chances for greatness. Sadly, Brock himself ruined those chances when he made the choice to sexually assault and attempt to rape an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. And there are legal and social consequences attached to that choice, which he should have discovered in court when he was convicted of sexually assaulting and attempting to rape an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.

You suggest that Brock was basically a good kid who never would have gotten into trouble if it weren't for "drinking too much and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that." First, there are signs that Brock isn't as good a kid as you suggest; other Stanford swimmers were disturbed by Brock's frequently creepy and inappropriate behavior, even before the assault. Second, there are plenty of college kids who drink too much at parties, but who don't sexually assault or attempt to rape unconscious people behind dumpsters -- in fact, it's a widespread social expectation that people will never engage in such acts, whether drunk or sober. Third, using the term "sexual promiscuity" to try to soft-pedal Brock's attempted rape of an unconscious woman, who could not give consent or fight back, isn't just a mischaracterization. It's a deliberate attempt to smear your son's victim as a drunk slut who somehow deserved to be raped behind a dumpster, and it's vile.

Finally, in a desperate bid to save your son from the legal consequences of his decisions, you go beyond all limits of common decency by describing Brock's acts of sexual assault and attempted rape of an unconscious woman behind a dumpster as "20 minutes of action."

There is only one effective way to respond to this, and it requires you to use your imagination, so please read the following very carefully:

I want you to imagine Brock going to that party, and drinking a whole lot more alcohol than he usually does -- so much, in fact, that he's teetering on the edge of passing out. At this point, another student at the party -- a large, muscular upperclassman who attends school on a sports scholarship, and who has also been drinking heavily -- latches onto Brock and pulls him out to a secluded spot behind a dumpster, where others cannot see what he is doing. Brock, now unconscious, cannot protest or fight back as the upperclassman pushes him down behind the dumpster, removes his pants and underwear, and flips him over to reveal his unprotected anus. The upperclassman proceeds to forcefully penetrate Brock's anus with his fingers, eventually removing his own pants and underwear as he prepares to penetrate your son's anus with his penis. When the upperclassman is interrupted by two passersby, instead of explaining that this is a fully consensual sex act, he cuts and runs, leaving Brock still unconscious, scratched and bleeding from the anal penetration, and covered in dirt and pine needles behind a filthy trash container.

Mr. and Mrs. Turner, was the act I described above merely "20 minutes of action" with your son? Or would you categorize it the way the jury categorized a similar act -- as the sexual assault and attempted rape of an unconscious person behind a dumpster?

I think you already know the answer to that question.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Playing tourist with Jenny

week my sister Jenny was here visiting from Utah, and as always, any incident of visiting family is a good excuse to play tourist in one's own city. We went to Chihuly Garden and Glass, we went to Dick's in Wallingford for a burger and fries, we went to Snoqualmie Falls, we went to some local stores and Pike Place Market, and we strolled up and down the Seattle waterfront doing typical touristy stuff. I also finally got to ride the Great Wheel (took me long enough, ne?). But you won't see pictures of any of these exploits, primarily because I just wanted to spend the time with Jenny -- there wasn't a need (or much of a desire on my part) to obsessively document what we were doing.

In fact, it got a little funny on the Great Wheel. The first spin around, I just took in all the sights I could see from every direction, both soaring up into the air and gently descending. Then I had a closer look at the people below, staring up at the structure. And then I began to notice my fellow passengers; nearly every one was busy taking pictures or video of the experience on their cell phones.

Eh well. It was a delightful experience, and I'll probably go back and give it another whirl.

Alas, Jenny has now returned home. We miss her, but it was a lot of fun having her here.