Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cleaning up the Blog Roll

I plan to clean up my blog roll and side bar here in the next couple of days.  If you haven’t blogged in the past month or two, I will delete your blog unless you suggest I shouldn’t! :-)  I feel the need to clean things up everywhere!!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Reviews

I have gotten a LOT of reading done lately.  I think it’s because A) I can’t sleep with this stupid brace on and B) I have happened to pick up some really compelling books as my reading selections. 

I am continuing to chip away at my reading challenges.  This past week, I read 2 young adult novels, both of which count towards different reading challenges, and 2 adult fiction books.

leftovers cover First, I read Laura Wiess’s Leftovers.  I had read Laura’s book Such a Pretty Girl quite some time ago (maybe 2 years?) and loved it, so I was excited to read Leftovers.  I got a copy on PBS and then I got very nervous, since people scrawled some rather uncomplimentary reviews about the ending in the inside front cover.  Still, it was important that I read it since I needed a book for the What’s in a Name challenge that had a food in the title.  This was my selection!

Leftovers tells the tale of Ardith and Blair, two girls trapped in families that seem to have abandoned them for totally different reasons.  Ardith’s parents are aging hippies who never left the drug and alcohol scene and whose son is following in their wasted footsteps.  Ardith copes by being a straight arrow, excelling in school, keeping her nose clean, all in a quest to someday become a podiatrist.  Blair, meanwhile, is being overshadowed by a mother who’s career as an attorney and ambition to become a judge cause her to completely change her family’s life, abandoning home, a beloved dog, and even her marriage in search for a seat on the bench.  Blair’s friendship with Ardith is a lifeline in a sea of change, until her mother attempts to even undermine that.  Ardith and Blair manage to stick together in the face of a number of bad situations and survive their family crises by sticking close.

I loved reading this book.  I loved how it ended and how the girls manage to resolve their family issues to their own satisfaction.  Of course, it was so calculating that I was also glad neither was my daughter, but I genuinely felt for both girls and wanted both of them to succeed.  The book bounces between Ardith and Blair as they both tell their story to a mutual friend.  At the end you find out exactly who that person is and why they do what they did.  It was really a great read, and I had a very difficult time putting it down.  I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads.

elsewhere The other YA book I read this month is Gabrielle Zevin’s Elsewhere.  Again, several years ago, I read Zevin’s book Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, which I greatly enjoyed.  I got Elsewhere via PBS some time ago, and just put it aside as one of those things I would get there.  I decided to read it as a selection for the Twenty-Ten challenge as my second Young Adult book choice (the first was Maureen Johnson’s 13 Little Blue Envelopes).

Elsewhere is the story of Lizzie, a fifteen-year-old girl who wakes up to find herself on a cruise ship, dressed in white pajamas.  She discovers that she was in fact the victim of a hit and run accident on earth and has died, and the ship is taking her to “Elsewhere”, where all the dead go.  In Elsewhere, she is met by her grandmother, Betty, a woman she never met, as Betty died before Lizzie was ever born.  In Elsewhere, everyone ages backwards until they are again an infant, and then they are sent back to Earth to live another life.

The story chronicles Lizzie’s struggle to acclimate to life after death, missing her family and friends, coming to grips with what has happened to her, missing out on things like getting her driver’s license, and yet still learning of the opportunities to reach her potential in the afterlife.

This was another book that I had a real hard time putting down.  I only gave it 3 stars on GoodReads, because I didn’t feel it was a great read, but it was definitely a good, solid read.  I related to Lizzie’s struggles and could see myself making similar choices (for instance, spending a lot of time at the Observatory, where you can witness your loved ones back on Earth).  There was so much to love about the characters that Lizzie encountered as well, from Thandi, her cruise ship bunk mate, a tough cookie from DC who had been shot in the head, Owen, the man of her dreams who ages backwards at a near rate that Lizzie does, and Curtis, a rock star who has died of a drug overdose and becomes a kind of guru to Lizzie when she needs guidance and advice.

Eventually, as is no surprise, Lizzie ages backwards far enough to be returned to Earth as an infant, and I shed some tears as her grandmother lovingly lets her granddaughter go.  If Heaven is like Elsewhere, I suppose we could do a lot worse.

web-never-change1 Turning to adult fiction, the first book I read was Elizabeth Berg’s Never Change. Elizabeth Berg is an author I absolutely love, but I read her books rather sparingly as I find that they tend to cause me to weep rather hysterically.  I have read Talk Before Sleep exactly once, and I dare not read it again, as it just wiped me out.  I figured Never Change would be similar.  It follows the story of Myra Lipinsky, a visiting nurse who is suddenly assigned to care for Chip Reardon, her high school crush, who has chosen to forgo treatment for a brain tumor.  Myra was a quiet and reserved student and while Chip spoke to her once, she always admired him from afar.  She does not know what to make of their being thrown together, and becomes even more confused as their nurse-patient relationship develops into friendship.

Chip decides to spend much of his time reading.  He wants to learn about things and spends hours in the library, hoping to cram in as much knowledge as he can before he dies, although he recognizes the futility of being able to learn everything there is to know.  He and Myra discuss books and literature often.  I mention this as I am going to count this book towards the BBC challenge. :-)    Back earlier in the month when I had my scare with the blood clot in my arm, I spent my time reading books, and I even had the thought that if I knew it was time for me to go, I supposed I would spend my time reading my favorite books and feeling great comfort in being surrounded by stories and characters that I love.  Consequently, while this book did not touch me in a way that most of Berg’s previous titles did, I cannot deny that it was a book that impacted me on that level.

This book to me felt like Berg was trying to cram in a lot of thoughts about life and death that she felt were profound and would make a good book.  I thought the story of Myra emerging from her emotional cocoon into a world brightened by Chip’s friendship was a great one, and the story of Chip’s choice to end his life on his own terms was also compelling, but I could have done without the pontificating on life and death.  I gave it 2 stars on Goodreads.  It was Ok, but I didn’t totally love it.  This also counts as a Win! Win! on The Twenty Ten Challenge, since I am counting it towards the BBC Challenge as well.

41P4PP1602L__SL500_AA300_ Finally, I read the book When Katie Wakes by Connie May Fowler.  This is the true story of Fowler’s life lived under near constant abuse at the hands first of her mother and then of her abusive boyfriend.  Fowler was a young woman living in Florida and working as a bartender at a Bennigan’s after graduating with a degree in English.  She lives in near constant fear after meeting the man at her bar.  He talks her into the idea that only he can help her meet her potential as a writer, and that together they can take over the world and write amazing things together.

In fact, the man physically and mentally abuses Connie for years.  He drains her of her finances, what little self esteem she had, and constantly has her in fear for her life.  What keeps her sane is the love of her dog, Katie, and her emerging career working for a magazine.  She adopts Katie as a wormy and neglected puppy, and brings her home, against the wishes of the man she is with (he is never given a name, although often she writes as if she is speaking to him directly “You don’t come home” etc).  One night when the man gets particularly violent with her, Connie barricades herself in her bedroom with Katie, and they listen in terror while this man rages until he finally falls asleep.  That night, Connie makes the decision to leave him “when Katie wakes” up.

I learned so much from reading this book.  Often those of us who have not been in such a situation ask, “Why doesn’t she just leave him?” but the cycle is so much more complex than that.  I appreciated Fowler’s bravery in sharing her story so that others may find the courage to leave or that they may understand and perhaps help those attempting to leave as well.

I am also going to count this book towards the BBC Challenge, as Connie writes of her love of books and writing and how that helped her through many difficult times with this man.  I was inspired to think of the books that have helped me through challenges in life, and I was able to name quite a few.  I have spent much of my current convalescence deeply enthralled by these books and others.  Reading is great escapism for those of us who occasionally need it!  I am also counting it as a charity book for the TwentyTen Challenge, as I picked this up in a library’s used book store.  And four stars on GoodReads, although I could probably have easily given it 5.

So, if you’re keeping track of my reading challenges, here’s my latest tally on the Twenty-Ten Challenge:

Young Adult:
13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnston
Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

New in 2010:
Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich

Shiny and New:
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Someday My Prince Will Come by Jerramy Fine

Bad Bloggers
(None yet)

When Katie Wakes by Connie May Fowler

Older Than You:
Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susanne

Win! Win!
Secrets from the Vinyl Café by Stuart McLean
Never Change by Elizabeth Berg

“Who Are You Again?”
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Riegler
The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian

Up to You!
Crackhouse by Terry Williams
Dear Diary by Lesley Arfin

14/20 down!

BBC Challenge:

Ruined by Reading (Lynne Sharon Schwartz)
Confessions of a Jane Austin Addict and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict (both by Laurie Viera Riegler)
Places I Never Meant to Be (Judy Blume, Editor)
When Katie Wakes (Connie May Fowler)
Never Change (Elizabeth Berg)

At six books, I am officially a Lit Lover.  I don’t know if I will make it to Bibliomaniac, but I am still hopeful!

What’s In A Name Challenge

Body of Water:  Your Oasis on Flame Lake (Lorna Landvik)
Food: Leftovers (Laura Wiess)
Music: Secrets from the Vinyl Cafe (Stuart McLean)
Place Name:

Three books to go!!

I am abandoning ship on the British authors challenge, as I haven’t managed a single one yet.  C’est la vie!  Life gets in the way!

I have only managed to read 28 books total this year, and since I read 4 of them in the past 2 weeks, that’s kind of scary!!!  But I’m plugging away and we’ll see what happens.  I’m not exactly sitting on my rear end!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Exchange Student Blogging

AFS has suggested that host families and exchange students both blog about their year together. I've decided to do it. Since I've fallen apart on the weight loss blog (although still going!) and the 80 Plates blog (still dreaming about finishing it!), I think it will be fun and interesting for people to read our experience with our Thai student.

I'm trying to think of a catchy title. I wanted to sneak in the word Thai somehow.

All of I've thought of thus far are:

The Thais that Bind
Family Thai(s)
Thai and Dry

Not ideal. Not in the least. Haha

Anyone out there have any suggestions?

Also, if anyone out there is interested in hosting, AFS is desperately seeking families for 1200 students arriving in less than a month. AFS is an awesome organization with lots of family and student support. There is no fee to host, only that you must be willing to provide the student a bed (they may share a room with a same sex sibling) and meals, and to include them 100% as a member of your family. AFS provides health insurance and the students come with their own spending money for school activities, etc. Go to to fill out an interest indicator.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Two Book Reviews

I have read more this week than I’ve read in a good while.  I’m still reading!  It has been a great way to keep my mind off things going on with my health and whatnot.  Consequently, I have completed two more challenge books. 

sizzling-sixteen The first book is for the Twenty Ten Challenge’s New in 2010 category.  I was so excited to find out Janet Evanovich had a new book coming out and when I saw Sizzling Sixteen at Target for 30% off, I had to have it.  I was really excited to see what would happen to Vinnie (as the casting news rolls in from the movie, I keep hoping and praying they get Steve Buscemi to be Vinnie—he’d be PERFECT), and to of course get more of the Ranger/Morelli love triangle. 

While I am of the opinion that the book itself was fine and the story moved along nicely and contained a decent mystery, it lacked something quintessentially Plum for me.  I didn’t laugh out loud.  I am so bummed that Lula and Tank seem to have completely forgotten the other one exists.  Even Mooner’s entrance, which is usually enough to get any of the Plum books going, didn’t do a thing for me.  I read through it in less than 2 days and enjoyed it well enough, but I just didn’t love it.  3 Stars on GoodReads, and here’s hoping #17 delivers.  I am presently working on the new Miss Julia book by Ann Ross, but it seems to have gotten misplaced by someone who has been in or out cleaning the house at some point or other in the past 2 1/2 weeks.  I know where the cover is, and that’s as good as it gets.  I will find it, however.

Secrets_From_The_Vinyl_Cafe On the other hand, I was thrilled to receive an email from Paperback Swap (PBS) that a copy of Stuart McLean’s Secrets from the Vinyl Cafe was winging its way towards me.  The Vinyl Cafe books have become beloved favorites of mine, right up there with Philip Gulley’s Harmony.  This edition of stories was no exception.  From the hilarious illustrations on the covers (inside and out), to the fun cartoon strips inside, to the many stories included, Secrets from the Vinyl Cafe had me absolutely weeping with the first story about Dave’s mom and laughing out loud  when 11-year-old Sam thinks his mother has become a shoplifter and he is the only one in his family who is walking the straight line.

Dave, the owner of the Vinyl Cafe, is a kind of Everyman who gets himself into trouble for doing the craziest things.  He always has good intentions, but things always go terribly wrong.  I love Dave as a character most of all.

But Dave’s family is not the only one showcased in the book.  Many beloved characters from previous books make an appearance here as well.  Carl of the Breadstarter, Kenny Wong of the Scottish Meatpie restaurant, and more all show up to lend hilarity and gravitas as warranted.  I gave this one 5 Stars for evoking sheer joy and emotion from this reader.  If you haven’t read this one, you surely should.

As for the reading challenges, I am counting this one towards the What's In a Name 3 challenge as a title with a musical term in it.  Vinyl refers to vinyl records, which Dave sells in his Vinyl Cafe.  I’m also counting it in the Twenty-Ten Challenge’s Win Win section for a book I used to complete another challenge!  I’m whipping right along again. :-)  Let’s hope I can keep some momentum going.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Saga of the Blood Clot

Ok, so this whole blood clot thing has been a nightmare!  Seriously, yesterday, I was mentally composing my will and letters to my loved ones on the off-chance that something horrible was going to happen.  I am very pessimistic about my health in general, so it was quite upsetting to find out what was going on and then not get any answers for 3 days.

I first discovered the clot last weekend.  I was taking the FrankenBrace off and looking at the bruising, which has faded to a lovely yellow, and the swelling, which is significantly decreased from where it was, when I noticed a weird lump in my arm.  At first, I figured it was just from where the two halves of the brace come together—maybe my arm was getting pinched or something—but it was rock hard and extremely painful to the touch.  Then I started thinking that maybe all the muscles I had messed up were all kind of curled up in there like a ball of rubber bands.  This did not especially cheer me since I figured if that was the case, they’d probably all die and I’d lose my arm.  I figured I’d be the first person in history to fall off a chair and require an amputation (see?  Pessimism!)

I had Michael feel it, and we made the joint decision to call the doctor on Monday.  I have still been sleeping A LOT, so when I woke up Monday afternoon, I put in a call to the ortho clinic first thing and they said Joe would call me back in a bit.  Joe didn’t, but the receptionist did and said that he wanted to see me first thing in the morning, was 8:50 OK?  Ok, now I’m all in a fluster about what this could possibly be, and it’s clearly something awful since they want to see me right away. 

We got to the clinic early, and Joe messed with the brace some and asked me how I was managing with it (“The word ‘hate’ comes to mind, Joe.  Never before have I blown $300 on something I have hated as much as this brace".”).  Then I showed him how the spot was right were the two parts of the brace came together and he felt around and said, “That’s a blood clot.  We need an ultrasound.” 

Immediately images flooded my head of death and dismemberment.  All I could think of was of the clot breaking up and going to my heart.  I’ve since learned lungs and stroke are likely victims too, even more fun things to worry about!  So the nurse came in and asked when they could schedule it and I said any damned time they liked, let’s get it done!  I gave her my cell phone number and we left. 

And waited.  She didn’t call for several hours.  To the point that I said to Sherry that I though I must have given them the wrong phone number and I called the clinic back and gave them my number again (these people are going to hate me!).  The nurse called back and told me that they would see me for the ultrasound at 6pm in Lee’s Hill.  I got Sherry to agree to come back and watch Leah since Victoria had choir practice, and then my neighbor Jack agreed to drive me down to the imaging center.

The ultrasound itself was really no big deal other than to someone who is extremely ticklish like I am, it was torture attempting to keep still.  It took a while, maybe 30 minutes or so, but the tech was very nice and pointed out the veins and crap on the monitor.  Proof that I have them and all :-)  Then I started getting concerned that he hadn’t looked at the clot, so when I sat up, I showed him where it was in case he had forgotten anything.  He politely pushed me out of the room, saying the doctor would send his report over to the clinic and that would be that.

So I waited and waited, praying.  Seriously, I was sure this was the end.  I played with Leah as much as I was able and then plucked out my favorite books and ice cream and read and tried to keep calm. My mother, intercepting my tearful phone calls, can attest to the fact I was largely unsuccessful.  I started planning cleaning some things out so my crap would be easier to get rid of, thinking about how Michael would manage with Leah, being in a deep despair that she would never remember me and what I should leave behind for her (video, letter, etc).  I mean, I was in a full blown panic. 

Finally, I couldn’t take it any more and called over to the clinic to get the word.  No word, since Joe was gone for the day, but the nurse assured me he’d call in the morning.  Another night’s restless sleep full of handwringing, although I found a killer app on my iPod called Chop Sushi.  I think it’s free and it is totally addicting!!!  Also, for 99 cents, you can do worse than Cake Doodler, especially if you like to do cake decorating!  This morning I was downstairs with Leah when Sherry arrived and she kept me good company until about 9:30 when fatigue from being up at 4:00 overtook me.  I went upstairs and about 15 minutes later, Joe called and said the clot was not in my veins, it was in the soft tissue of my arm and I just needed to take anti-inflammatories and ice it.  He asked about my pain, and for some reason, today my arm is KILLING me, so I told him about that and he gave me some advice about that as well.  I mean, we are talking about I was considering taking a Vicodin, even though I haven’t taken one in a week. 

I called my mom and dad and sister and texted everyone and Facebooked the good news.  I felt like Scrooge waking up on Christmas morning, “I will keep the spirit of Christmas in my heart always!”  I was just elated.  It was such a relief, I can’t even describe how happy I am still, just to be alive.  I felt like a ticking time bomb for a while there.

Just as I was settling in, Sherry hollered up to me that Leah was walking, so I hightailed it downstairs and watched her take 3 steps in a row.  I got all teary eyed all over again!  Then I took some video of the knee bounce and then went back upstairs.  I fell asleep around 11:00 and didn’t wake up till 3:15, by which point Victoria was back and taking Leah out to swim in the pool.

I am so appreciative of everyone’s support and well wishes and prayers.  I am so glad that God has decided I have some more living to do!!!  :-)  Life is beautiful…  I’m going to go sit with my hubby now.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

How Can I Help?

I have been really touched by the number of people expressing their desire to help us out during my convalescence.  We have been so appreciative!

Right now we are in pretty good shape, truthfully.  My dad is keeping our bellies full and keeping me on the road as needed.  I am in a panic about next week, however!!!  My dad is going home on the 11th or 12th and will not be back till the following Sunday or Monday.

Right now, my list of can’t’s is quite long.  I can’t drive.  I can’t open jars and other containers.  I can’t change diapers.  I can’t lift Leah in and out of her bed or high chair or get her dressed.  I can’t get myself dressed.  Cooking takes forever.  And I’m not even doing serious cooking.  But I attempted to chop up onions tonight and nearly removed my thumb!  Simple tasks either take forever or are impossible.

The other thing is that I am in such pain and so worn out that I am basically sleeping 4-6 hours per day.  It is really the only effective pain relief I get.  We were laughing today, I had to fill out the paperwork for PT and the question was “What positions aggravate your pain?”  I wrote, “Standing, sitting, or laying down.”  That basically covers it.

I am learning more and more how to do things each day.  I have managed to change Leah’s diaper once so far.  I have a few plans in place as far as getting Leah’s bottles ready in advance so that I don’t have to mess with the tops and stuff—Michael will have to help me unscrew and wash them at night.  I am able to grill, so we will have that available.

As I think I mentioned, the young lady out back is available to babysit in the afternoons, but not in the mornings, so if anyone has a morning they can sacrifice even once just to help me get Leah up and changed and downstairs safely, that would be a huge help.

I will go to PT for the first time on Friday and will find out then how often I need to go weekly.  Next week I will need a ride to all my PT sessions.  I will be trying to make them in the afternoon when I have the babysitter so that it is literally me hopping in your car and going to PT, which is less than 2 miles certainly and probably only a mile from my house in the Chatham Square Office Park.  I can’t guarantee they’ll have afternoon availability but I am going to try.  You can either wait or come back for me depending on what’s easiest (there’s a McDonald’s with a playplace right next door).  I am told that PT on a dislocated elbow is especially grueling, so I am very nervous about the process and about coming home to my very active little one afterwards, but it sounds like I might only go twice a week to start. We’ll just have to see what’s in store!

Amanda set up a meal schedule for people to bring us meals.  If you are able to have a pizza or subs or Chinese delivered, even if you can’t bring a home cooked meal yourself, it will be a huge help.  Visit and do a search for “Mike and Susan” in the last name box with a password of 0408.  You can pick a day to bring us dinner or have it delivered to us.  We REALLY appreciate those who have signed up and/or brought us something already. 

Leah has a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, July 13 at 10AM (I think—I need to confirm that!) over near Mary Washington Hospital.  We need transportation to and from the appointment.  She will be getting shots, so beware :)  We can take my car or yours, depending on what’s easiest.

Finally, we just need someone to call in case of emergencies—we ran out of Leah’s milk, we need to get a prescription, the house is on fire, that kind of thing.  We are going to stock up on groceries and hopefully make it through with whatever we can, plus whatever help we are offered.  We really appreciate it very much!

I hope I don’t sound like I’m begging or demanding.  So many people have asked that I just thought it would be easier to make a central list.  Again, Mike, my dad, and I all appreciate the love and support we’ve already been given, and i don’t know how to say thank you enough!!!  Thanks for reading and thanks in advance if you offer to help with our further needs.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Elbow of Doom…

Ok, so here’s how it all went down…

This past weekend was tremendously busy.  We had tons of people over to help wire up the general’s office, move furniture, put Penny’s furniture together, etc.  I mean, we were hopping!  Trips to Home Depot, running around to find tools, calling neighbors, kids running, it was a scene! 

By Monday, all the furniture was where it needed to be, the computers were back up and running, and I had had quite enough of painting for a while.  So my neighbor called around 9:30 to see if I wanted to take the kids over to the pool and to have a picnic.  I thought that sounded like a great idea.  When we hung up, I decided that it would really make me happy to come home and have all of my part of the chores done, meaning I could just hang up The General’s flag, posters, awards, pictures, etc. and be done with it.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know where the step ladder had gotten to.  It hadn’t been put away, it wasn’t in the office or any of the rooms it had been used in.  I was feeling impatient, though, so I decided to just go ahead and use The General’s office chair.  You know, the one that tilts. And swivels. 

I grabbed my staple gun and the big US flag and climbed up there.  The first staple, no problem.  Leah thought this looked like great fun, so she sat right under the chair to watch.  I started lining up the flag for the second staple, and something went wrong.  The chair tilted and swiveled at the same time, and I just remember thinking, “don’t land on the baby” a split second before I mercifully crashed to the floor and avoided her. 

Pain rocketed through my arm and Leah started screaming.  I sat up and I knew I was in trouble.  I could not see the bottom half of my arm at all.  From my elbow on, it was gone.  I pulled my shoulder around and my arm flopped into sight, hanging loose like a floppy noodle.  I knew I had to get the phone from up on the desk, but i thought I had broken my arm.  Still, I leaned on the arm anyway, and it must have snapped back into place at that point.  I called 911 and they said they would send over paramedics.

Unfortunately I didn’t know The General’s new number at work, so I had to go find my cell phone, and when I dialed it went straight to voice mail.  I left him a tearful message, hung up, and called Melissa and told her I needed help.  She said she’d be right down to get Leah and would meet us at the hospital.  In an attempt to keep calm, I tried to call Lisa back and my mom, but then my cell rang and it was The General.  He told me he had called Lisa and she was coming to get Leah.  He was getting a ride and would meet me at the hospital as well.  I sat down in the living room and pretty soon a fire truck roared up.  I thought, “No way in hell am I riding to the hospital on top of a fire truck.”  Lisa roars in, the ambulance right behind her, and I’m yelling to the firemen to come in while Lisa is screaming to them that the back door is always open and pulling her son, clad only in a diaper, to get Leah.

Somehow, the paramedics had been informed that I had ripped my arm off, which is why they sent the fire truck, apparently.  The first fireman in was a left arm amputee, and that’s when I really started flipping out.  No sooner had Lisa gotten in than they stood me up and walked me out to the stretcher and loaded me into the ambulance.  I was hyperventilating and they kept asking me the same questions over and over and telling me to calm down, which I couldn’t.  Finally they decide to run an IV, which given my fear of needles was not going to go well.  The EMT kept telling me not to hold my breath, why was I so upset, but until she injected the morphine and strapped an oxygen mask to my face, I could not settle down.

Melissa got to the hospital no more than 10 minutes after I did and sat with me before and after the x-rays.  It got to the point that she could answer the questions as well as I could.  The answers were basically:

1.  No, I cannot possibly be pregnant.
2.  My birthday is 8.23.xx
3.  I fell off a chair.

The General arrived and then Dr. S came in.  He offered me some more pain meds, so I just asked for Tylenol.  Of course, just like with my leg, the meds never came until the bitter end.  Finally Dr. S came back and told me the x-rays were clear and I had probably just sprained it.  Here’s 20 Vicodin, you’ll be better in a week.

Now I knew damned good and well I hadn’t just sprained it, so I told Melissa to get me an appointment with Sunshine.  She got on her iPhone and found OSC but her phone wouldn’t dial out, so she used The General’s phone and made the call.  They weren’t able to see me till Wednesday, but we got an appointment with Joe Gowaty, who had helped me with my knee a couple of years ago, so I was happy with that.

I told Melissa I wanted some chicken mcnuggets, so we went through discharge, she dropped me home, and she and Mike headed out to get the Vicodin and the mcnuggets.  Lisa was upstairs with the little ones, so i went up there and let her know I was home.  She helped me into bed, and Leah snuggled right up to me and wouldn’t leave my side.  Daniel kept running around entertaining us and Melissa arrived with my nuggets.  I fed the fries to the babies and then Melissa and Mike got back with the meds, so Lisa felt free to go home.  I popped a couple pills and Melissa offered to take Leah home with her for the night, so I agreed.  I talked to both my parents, and my dad said he’d be down the next day, so Melissa said she’d keep Leah till Dad got here.  I passed out cold.

I remember very little about the next couple of days.  I remember Melissa coming back and my dad arriving and all of us eating Chinese food.  Wednesday morning, we dropped Leah off with Lisa and went to see Joe.  He had reviewed the x-rays and agreed that I hadn’t broken anything but listened while I explained exactly what happened and said it sounded like a dislocation, but that he’d need an MRI to be sure.  He also didn’t like the sling from the ER and prescribed a hinged elbow brace.  OSC made the appointment for the MRI that afternoon, and Dad and I went and got Leah and did the grocery shopping.  Melissa came down again to watch Leah so we could do the tests and we headed to the hospital.

Apart from the pain of getting my arm up over my head, the MRI wasn’t bad.  It was very noisy, but not bad.  When I got out, we decided to go see about the brace.  The pharmacy at the hospital directed us to Homecare America, which directed us to an orthotics fitter in Old Town (Mobility Prosthetics and Orthotics on Caroline Street).  We went and met with a guy named Donnie, who gave me the bad news that our insurance had a $300 deductible on the brace that I’d have to pay up front.  I told him I would rather meet with Joe again to discuss the MRI results.

Friday I went back to Joe for a final assessment.  It was bad news:  every last tendon, etc. holding my elbow and thus two halves of my arm together is torn.  Consequently, my elbow can dislocate itself again at any time.  This is the real reason, Joe told me, that I need the hinged brace.  It will hold my arm in place, giving everything a chance to heal itself.  I asked if I was allowed to drive, and I am not for at least a month.  If I were a professional athlete, I’d be a surgery candidate, but I am not.  As such, the don’t expect I will ever gain full extension of my elbow again, but I hope to prove them wrong on that account!  In about 3 months, I should be able to lose the brace. 

So we went back to see Donnie, I ponied up my $300 and got my brace fitted.  It is a monster of a thing, and when we went to the store afterwards, people were falling all over themselves to get out of my way!

I have done a good job keeping things in perspective.  For one thing, for weeks, I have been complaining of exhaustion.  I figure this is God’s way of making me take a break.  We have had to cancel our planned trip to RI and I cannot even think about NYC at this point. 

Secondly, my dad is here.  Considering that we spent half of this year not speaking, this time together now is an extraordinary gift and chance to mend our relationship. 

Third, it’s not my leg or something even more serious.  Yes, the fact is that I am in constant pain.  But unlike last time, I can independently get up and walk around.  I can (mostly) shower without help.  The things I can’t do are tough, I’m not going to lie.  I would love to be able to wrap my arms around my daughter and pick her up.  I’d like to put on a bra by myself!  I’d like to be able to put toothpaste on my toothbrush and chop up a tomato and take the lid off the Tylenol unassisted.  But in 5 days’ time, I regained the movement in my fingers.  I remember I got real depressed when I broke my leg four years ago, and my buddy Joe was visiting.  I was complaining to him about everything I couldn’t do and finally I said, “Why the hell did it have to be a leg?  Why couldn’t it have been something else?”  He replied, “Like what, your neck?”  I gained perspective in an instant.  I am mindful of the fact that i fell flat on my back from 6 feet in the air and all I did was dislocate my elbow.  That’s pretty damned lucky.

Finally, my main concern away from Leah beimg Ok and my own health was being able to sing with my choir on Saturday night.  I was devastated by the possibility that I might not get to perform.  I deliberately took fewer pain medications and slept during the day to conserve energy, but I got to sing with that choir, and I sang with all my heart and a huge lump in my throat.  I was so proud of myself, and I am so grateful to Dad, Mike, Melissa, Andy, Paul, and Kris for coming to share in that moment with me.  Honestly, it was one of the proudest moments of my life, thank you for coming and recognizing how important it was to me.  I was honored to sing for you.

So that’s where things stand.  Tomorrow I will post some answers to the question I am asked most often:  How can I help?  I know that we will need the most help July 12-19 when my dad is up in NY.  I just need to get over to the PT office first before I send up a cry for assistance.  Thanks to all who have asked!!!  I will have answers soon. :-)