Tuesday, November 13, 2018

When life hands you the spoon

This particular viral video has been making the rounds for a few months now. (Yeah, I'm not a fan of the vertical video format either, but there's nothing I can do about it, so.)

When I first watched this, I laughed and laughed -- not because I'm wantonly cruel (at least I hope not), but because I immediately recognized a kindred spirit in Gabriel the cocoa eater.

I was only a year or two older than Gabriel when I managed to get into my maternal grandmother's kitchen cupboard. Grandma was an excellent cook, and also a notorious food pusher; we used to joke that if you ever left her house hungry, it was your own fault. Her little galley kitchen was almost always busy; not only did a lot of cooking go on in the tiny space, but it was also the primary throughway to all the other public areas of the house, and whenever the family got together it was like Grand Central Station in there, with aunties and uncles and cousins and parents and siblings going to and fro. So even though there were a lot of tantalizing little bottles and jars and whatnot in Grandma's cupboard, I never really had a chance to explore in there because some adult was always around to stop me.

And then one fine summer day, when everyone was out in the back yard splashing around in my grandparents' pool, I suddenly realized I was alone in the house. Well. Obviously I made a beeline for the cupboard. There was one particular little bottle I really wanted to sample -- the sauce inside was a vivid orangey-red, almost exactly the same color as the painted wooden Dala horse next to my grandparents' fireplace, and I was sure it was the most delicious, toothsome, savory stuff ever. I figured Grandma wouldn't cook with it if it weren't wonderful.

I got the bottle. I got a tablespoon. I put the sauce in the tablespoon. I put the tablespoon in my mouth.


About twenty seconds later, the entire extended clan heard my shrieks and rushed into the kitchen to see which of my limbs I'd severed. At that point I was too busy screeching and flapping to pay them much attention; I'd already tried, unsuccessfully, to down enough water from the kitchen sink to stop the hideous vinegar-laced chemical burn that seemed to be eating its way through both cheeks. In my haste I had completely abandoned the little orange-red bottle that was the source of the commotion -- the bottle labeled, in neat green and red letters, "McIlhenny Co. Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce."

There are plenty of times when life blindsides you with some misfortune you never saw coming. Sometimes nobody is responsible; it's just a natural consequence of living in an imperfect world. And then there are other times when the responsibility for your current trouble lies squarely on your own head -- when, after a few attempts at dissuading you, life just hands you the spoon and says, "Have at it, big shot." And hopefully, after spewing a fine dust of cocoa powder all over the kitchen (or drinking about four glasses of milk to quell the chile burn), you learn something useful from the experience.

(And sometimes you don't, but that's another story.)

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

"So, are you a Mormon?"

No, I'm not.

There was a time, not very long ago, when I readily would have answered, "Yes, I am." Regular readers may remember that I had a link here on the blog that identified me as a Mormon.

But that changed at the beginning of this month, during a session of General Conference. There, a man I recognize as a prophet of God rose and spoke about the problem with "Mormon" as a signifier for the Church and its members.

My faith has been branded with the name "Mormon" for a long time. Indeed, in the earliest days of the Church, the epithets "Mormon" and "Mormonite" were used against members of the Church as a way of mocking them for their belief in modern scripture -- kind of the same way Jesus' disciples were first called "Christians" in Antioch (Acts 11:26) or the way Paul was accused as "a ringleader of the sect [in some translations, this word is rendered as "cult"] of the Nazarenes" (Acts 24:5). Trying to put a brave face on it, members of the Church started co-opting the word "Mormons" to describe themselves -- even naming their world-famous choral group "the Mormon Tabernacle Choir" -- but no longer.

See, the full name of my church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I realize it's long and unwieldy, and people -- especially the news media -- like to shorten it: "the Mormon Church," "The LDS Church," "The Church of the Latter-day Saints," and so forth. But there's a problem with all these shortened forms: they cut out the most important part of the church's name, which is Jesus Christ -- the being I love, follow and do my admittedly broken best to emulate. We believe our faith is a modern (or "latter-day") restoration of the primitive church Jesus founded while he and his apostles were still on the earth. We further believe that the full name of the Church was given through prophecy by Jesus Christ himself -- so yes, it's kind of important to us! But our church has become so widely known as "the Mormon Church" that it's possible for people who don't know better to pose a question that, if one knows the proper name of the Church, seems ludicrous: "Are Mormons Christians?"

So no, I'm not "a Mormon." I don't worship Mormon, and this isn't Mormon's church. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you want something shorter, you can call me LDS or a Latter-day Saint. Or you can just call me "a Christian," because that's what I'm trying to be.

Thanks for your understanding.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

It's always something, isn't it?

Yesterday I got a text from my sister Jenny. It read, "Mom's in the hospital again."

Nurse at bedstead
After open-heart surgery, there's usually quite a bit of fluid that drains from the patient's lungs and chest cavity. This usually clears up some 7 to 10 days after surgery, but Mom's system has been merrily draining fluid for weeks. Over the weekend, her lungs began to fill and she was having trouble breathing, so Jenny (wisely) took her to the hospital. Fortunately Mom doesn't have sepsis, as her doctor first feared, but she will need followup surgery tomorrow (Monday) to fix her lungs.

As always, if you pray, I'd appreciate prayers for my mom's recovery, and for the doctors in charge of her surgery to perform to the best of their skills and abilities. If you don't pray, you could remember my mom by spreading positivity to other people -- my mother is one of the most relentlessly positive and practically optimistic people I know, and there's a strong need for that kind of energy in the world right now.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Springing Mom from the clink

No, it didn't really look like this. It was rehab, not prison.
Well, Mom is finally home. This doesn't mean she's finished convalescing, only that her doctors and physical therapists feel it's safe for her to be at home now, as long as there's someone to watch over her at all times. Yesterday I went over to the rehab center where she'd been staying and, after she signed some paperwork, promptly busted her out the joint. Her immediate request was to be taken to Trader Joe's, because PRIORITIES. (Hey, I guarantee that her priorities would be yours too if you'd just eaten some three weeks' worth of institutional food.) After a minor purchasing bacchanalia, we returned home, put the goodies away, ate brie and baguettes for lunch (because of course we did) and Mom went on a Poldark binge for most of the rest of the day. After evening meds and such she ended up falling asleep in the recliner, and she seemed too comfortable to move, so there she remained for the rest of the night.

No recliner sleeping for Mom tonight, though; she's asleep in her own bed for the first time in weeks. Today was a dialysis day, and dialysis always leaves her spent, but we still managed to get in three meals, all basic meds, some post-op maintenance activities, a doctor's appointment and a whole lotta episodes of The Waltons. (I'm so full of wholesome '70s programming I might burst!)

Now, with Mom safely in bed, I can do a little of my usual duties (la la la, laundry fairy!) and otherwise perform some minor cleaning around the apartment. Also I'll write down the things to be done tomorrow in my bullet journal, which has been a lifesaver on this trip. Mom has a number of daily needs (mostly the timing of medications) that would be tough for my little ADHD-riddled brain to keep track of if I hadn't brought it along.

Oh, and guess what. Mom has another surgery scheduled for the 25th. Her latest fistula revision didn't take properly, so they get to fiddle around with her arm some more. yay.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Da momz

Well, Mom is recuperating very well from surgery. She's hit all her physical therapy targets and then some, her appetite is starting to return, she's doing more and more things for herself and she's feeling better each day. Her goal is to be checked out of the rehab center and home by Tuesday.

I still have a few concerns. Because her depth perception is off (and probably always will be, thanks to some old surgeries on her eyes), she is a potential fall risk and I can't pick her up. Her bed at home is also pretty high off the ground and can't be lowered, unless we dismantle the bed frame and put the box spring and mattress right on the floor. But at this point, I think she'll be relatively safe at home. That said, she's going to need someone with her for at least another few weeks -- I think her surgeon said six weeks is the average time needed to recuperate from surgery.

Thanks so much to those who sent prayers and kind thoughts to Mom. She's gotten better much faster than I anticipated, and it's a huge blessing.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

The final Mom update of the month

I don't dislike the rehab center where Mom is staying, but they don't have enough staff members to take care of everyone on the weekends. I found out that on Saturday Mom was left to fend for herself for about an hour, and no amount of her pressing the call button seemed to bring help. That's really not acceptable hang time for a recuperating heart patient. On several occasions while I was there, I tried using the call button myself and got no response; the only thing that worked was to trot down to the nurses' station and ask for what we needed in person. They are going to be sick of me doing this by the time Mom's ready to go home, but if showing up and pointedly asking gets the desired results, that's what I'll do.

Today I got Mom cleaned up and dressed for an outing, put her in a wheelchair and sprung her from the clink for a few hours. She enjoyed the drive and getting some sun on her face, and I took her home for a few hours, where she spent some time with Miss V, binge-watched episodes of The Waltons and ate a homemade hot lunch. However, by the time she was ready to go back to the rehab center, she was close to exhausted -- she hadn't sat upright for that many hours since her surgery, and she said the experience made her realize that she really wasn't strong enough to be at home full-time yet. As soon as she got back, she changed into her nightgown and got straight into bed.

The good news is that Mom is improving day by day. She doesn't need any pain medication to sleep through the night, she goes to physical therapy every day, and although she's still weak, she's much stronger than she was just a week ago. She is positive and in good spirits, and determined to do what it takes to go home.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Another day, another update

So yesterday Mom was discharged from the hospital. And there was much rejoicing. *yay* She went directly to the same rehab center where she stayed when she got her hip replacement, so most of the people there remembered her and greeted her like an old friend. She had something to eat, watched the Kavanaugh hearings (no, don't ask. I've got my opinions, but this isn't the appropriate place to vent them) and went to bed.

Today I was kept pretty busy getting everything ready for Miss V's 22nd birthday. It was a small but happy gathering. V went over to visit Mom and brought presents so she could open them in front of her grandma. We were also all wearing purple "Happy Birthday" tiaras and blowing into noisemakers, so I think we kept the nurses entertained. My sister and I stayed late and helped Mom get ready for bed. We left her listening to the Audible version of Nothing to Envy, about life in North Korea.
Later, back at the house, we sang V the birthday song, had ice cream cake, V's mom rolled some sushi, that kinda thing. I am slightly overfull right now, but not dangerously so. Hoping to keep it that way. I hope it was a good birthday for V.