Monday, December 13, 2010


Orrrrrr, can you see???

This morning we had to be at the hospital at 5:15am for Ronny's surgery at 7:30. After we checked in, were ushered from the Surgery main waiting room to the surgery waiting room and then from there they took him on back to his own private little surgery waiting cubicle with a lovely curtain door, a gurney, a locker for his clothing, and a flatscreen TV with a fabulous corded remote/nurse button combo.

Now then. Let me say first of all that hospital gowns have drastically changed since I wore one. Ronny's gown had a vacuum sized hose connection port for a heater fan, of all things. A heated hospital gown. It still showed his cute lil fanny when he got up. But it was a warm fanny.

So there we were discussing the latest medical miracles such as the aforementioned heater gown connector hoses, when I became conscious of shuffling outside his curtain. Presently, a female who was presumably walking down the hall stopped at the spot where the shuffling was coming from and said "LENNY! WELCOME BACK! Feel ok? So.....can you see???"

WHHHHHHH-Huh??? I wasn't sure whether Ronny heard, so I made an attempt not to react visually. Not sure I was very successful, for as I scootched over closer to the curtain to eavesdrop on the conversation following the comment that had singlehandedly shredded any faith I had had in what was about to occur, the tips of his ears turned beet red and he stifled a chortle - or a scream, maybe. At the time I thought it was a chortle.

"Well that's not good," he mouthed to me. Then one corner of his mouth turned upwards in a grin that he saves for mischievously ironic situations. I know the look. It's accompanied by a stiffly raised eyebrow on the same side of his face - as if someone from above has pulled a string connected to that side of his face.

"HELLO, good morning, hi hi hi, I'm Lenny. Your operating room nurse."

WHHHHHHH-Huh??? Lenny appears to be in his late 50s, is tall, lanky, moves gracefully and with confidence and enviable stealth.

I'm starin' at his eyes. Just sayin'.

Lenny checks Ronny's vital signs, asks him his name and why he's there. "Can you tell me what you're having done this morning Mr. Culpepper?" and I am praying he's asking for verification purposes and not because of whatever event it was that caused Lenny to be welcomed back and asked repeatedly about the quality of his eyesight.

Lenny steps out for a moment. Ronny snaps his head toward me, sticks his index finger out in my direction and looks down the barrel of it, squinting. "Do NOT make an issue." I have to report that a man in a hospital gown puffed up with warm air does not exact authority. He wondered why I didn't take him seriously. (Really?) "I mean it Caren. That guy's gonna be the second most important person in my operating room. DON'T piss him off."

First of all, my poofy love, Lenny doesn't even rank in the top two. He's a close third. Secondly, I do have the insight or foresight or some kinda sight to keep our operating staff happy. Which may be more than I can say for Lenny. On the other hand, I'm in a pickle. By this time three passer-by nurses have welcomed Lenny back and inquired as to his eyes. When responding Lenny lowers his voice to a whisper. When medical folks whisper there's a reason. In this case it didn't take a medical degree to figure it out. He didn't want his patients to feel insecure about the fact that his eyesight was diminished. I say diminished because I know for a fact he wasn't totally blind. While he was tending to Ronny, I moved across the room twice and he followed me with his head. Stealthy, I tell ya. I never knew sneaky moves until I became a Mom. Since that time however, it's become a way of life. There is more than one way to skin a cat. While Ronny and Lenny were eyeballing each other, I strolled down the hallway and stopped beside one of the nurses.

"This is Lenny's first day back?"

"Yeaaaaaaah, he's been out a little while. We surely did miss him."

"I can tell. Everyone's so glad he's back. He must be a great nurse."

"Oh Lenny's the best OR nurse in the world. He's tops. He trained us all. So glad his retina healed. It was detached. The HR department said he could come back last week but he said he couldn't see well enough to be in the OR so he stayed out longer."

Stealthy, I tell ya. Got my intel, made a buddy. Headed back down to Ronny's Surgery Waiting Cubicle and flashed Lenny a smile. He smiled back. Life's good.

As Lenny wheeled Ronny out of his cubicle and down the hall, I walked alongside. As I walked, Lenny calmly, gently described to me what would happen when they got my husband in the operating room and at what points he would call to update me. We approached a crossroads in the hall and Lenny turned to me with a twinkle in his eye and said, "This is the kissing corner." So I kissed my sweet hubby bye and left him in the care of The Best OR Nurse In The World.

Lenny called me four times during surgery. All four times after he told me what was happening with Ronny, he asked me if I had gotten a chance to eat anything, get something to drink, and walk around a bit. Then he ended the conversation by saying, "Don't worry Mrs. Culpepper, your husband's fine."

Of course he was. He had The Best OR Nurse In The World. Welcome back Lenny indeed.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One Hundred and Three - and whaddya know

but there are all manner of issues that come up which none of the rest of us Spring Chickens anticipated. Head scratchers, light bulb moments.

My darling Grandmother is one hundred and three years old. I spell it out not in obedience to rules of grammar, but because it is far too important a designation to be relegated to three. little. numbers.

I'll begin by admitting that each year in the weeks previous to her birthday, those of us who are her junior, which would be - well everybody, whisper things to each other like, "Well YES of COURSE we have to have a party. This one MAY be the last." That we've been uttering that sentiment back and forth for the past ten years is the very reason we KEEP uttering it, because now we have the certain foreboding that should we fail to say it, it actually will. Be. . . y'know.

Now back to the original thought. Since it is a rare occurrence to know anyone, much less have in your own family a person who has reached octogenarian status, we find we are discovering new and novel situations on a regular basis. Reinventing the wheel, so to speak. For example. A visit to the dentist is a horse of an entirely different color with a one hundred and three year old. The truth is a trip anywhere with a one hundred and three year old is a whole day venture, but that story's on another page. Dentists do not fill cavities or crown teeth on one hundred and three year olds. From a pragmatic standpoint there's little reason to go to the expense and more importantly, the pain and discomfort to the one hundred and three year old. (Yes, I'm going to continue to refer to her in this manner. It's not easy for me either, it's a whole buncha more typing, but lets get over it.)

When you take a one hundred and three year old to a gastro doctor and tell him she's having the same stomach troubles she's been having for two years only now it's worse, they don't do tests, they don't put on their research or diagnostic caps. They give you a look that says, "She's a hundred and three. What do you expect?" Which she doesn't see because glaucoma took the last little remnants of her vision just after her one hundredth birthday.

Ultimately the doctors are right and while they are using logic, compassion for the one hundred and three year old, and respect for the quality of her life and/or medical treatment, there is an underlying message that I feel in my heart each time I hear it again. She's biding time. She's waiting to die. "No sense fixing anything at this point" is what it all reduces to, back in the niggley little place at the back of my brain at the base of my neck, that place where my idiosyncratic intuits live.

And make no mistake. She's ready. But it still is a forlorn ghost of a thought that stays way deep in the pit of my tummy. Yep. Tummy too.

She doesn't turn the lights on when she gets up in the morning. No point. She's giving away little, sentimental things to particular family members, so she can make sure each gets what she wants them to have. It's all a part of life we don't generally get to experience, but for when you happen to be lucky enough to have a one hundred and three year old in your family.

I'm grateful and blessed that I get to learn these lessons that have come with my one hundred and three year old, for even though some are a little sad, they have become part of quite a family story that even my children enjoy telling their friends.

Perhaps the saddest phenomenon of all regarding a person that makes it to this stature is that when they do pass, the gathering for the service may tend to be small. Know why? All her friends are gone.

So this post is dedicated to my one hundred and three year old Grandmother, who has more life in her than many of us spring chickens, and most assuredly, more wisdom and a rich history of life experience to share.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spring Cleaning! or more accurately, catching up......

.....on cleaning and other house jobs I should've been doing on a regular, (boring) scheduled, (boring) continuous (boring) basis. I can't tell you how thick the layer of dust under my beds was. Really, I can't, because then I'd be ashamed to ever come back here again. But it was enough that three under-beds worth of vacuuming along with under a couple of other pieces of furniture I don't regularly move filled up the entire cannister of my little Bissell Vac.

Then I moved on to ceiling fans. One blade had "HELLO MOM" written in dust. I don't even want to know how my kid got up there to do it but it gave me a good laugh as well as a sharp reminder of how often I should be cleaning those suckers.

After I finished ceiling fans I changed bed linens to spring/summer, washed walls in two rooms and changed out a couple of throw rugs to lighter, brighter warm weather ones. Now about the wash water after I'd done the walls. It was about the color of a Coke. HOW is that possible? No one smokes in this house or ever has, particularly since the LAST time I washed them. The walls, not the people. There are two possibilities I s'pose. Four little boy hands whose corresponding feet may well walk on the floor but those hands walk the walls too. Don't let anyone ever tell you human young are upright two-legged creatures. Mine walk on all fours- two on the floor, two on the walls & trim. It's a close cousin to the way they open and shut a door with ANY part of the door OTHER THAN the knob. The second thing is the gas heat. I noticed the walls around a vent were much MUCH dirtier. It's my firm belief that neither of those things are likely to change during the length of time we live in this house, so once again- a firm slap on the hand for me about how often I should be washing walls.

A few years ago I noticed that after I had vacuumed and/or dusted the house, I felt lighter and more clear-headed, and my vision as well as my outlook were suddenly 'brighter'. For many months after the initial connection came to me, I decided it had to be in my head, or potentially because I felt a sense of accomplishment at getting it done and out of the way. Then one day I went over to a buddy's house. The minute I crossed the threshold into her home I got the exact same feeling. I said "Hey, what have you been doing this morning?" She had vacuumed and dusted her home. There's something to this. Perhaps the same theory as when I de-clutter. I get the same feeling then too.

I'm gonna explore it in depth when I'm not so pooped.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I'm ashamed. I think about posting all the time but as you can see it's been nearly a year. As we say down heah', for SHAME. SHAME on me. I vow to do better. I vow to sit down and write on my blog after I work out, fix organic meals, dust the blinds, work in my yard, train my dog, visit with my friends and my family, finish projects, and call my Mother. Or, I could be realistic and say - pffffst. Goals. I do some of those things sometimes, others of them more times, but I should just come to my knees with the hard core truth that I can't (or won't - don't - ain't gonna) do all of them all of the time. And be happy with that. All these goals are worthwhile and (in my psyche) necessary, but writing is good for me. Just me. Perhaps that's why I have neglected it, and also precisely why I shouldn't.

So. What's going on with us, izzzzzz....... I'm planning a family vacation to Cancun for this summer. Lemme tell you about it. Ronny and I went to Cancun 15 years ago. BC. (that means before children, for those of you who are SC - sans children). So my hunky husband, who has no concept of the marching on of time and its consequences (that's a GOOD thing when it comes to gazing in his wife's eyes, or, errrrr, other parts....lower) or assessment of changes to our lifestyle and needs between that trip and this one, says to me, all wide eyed and smiley, "Oooh. Let's stay in the same place we stayed last time!" Gotta love that man. We did have a fabulous time. Large volumes of alcohol were consumed, sometimes from breakfast on through dinner. (Well, it WUZ 90 degrees at 7:30am, after all.) OMGosh that was back when I still wore bikinis. Whoa.


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OK I'm back from my memories. Dinners that lingered for hours at authentic 5 star Mexican restaurants were a nightly occurrence. We would wander anywhere, try anything, throw caution to the wind. But. (There's that big BUT. Precisely why I no longer wear those bikinis.) The face - rather, the complexion - of Cancun has completely changed. The face or complexion of our family has changed as well. Well, think about where YOU were fifteen years ago. How much have things changed with you? Cancun's no different. The hotel we stayed in has dropped a star. Reviews, on the whole, are not good, and, lets face it, it's fifteen years older. There's new stuff to be had.

There's a whole new section of beach, in fact. Riviera Maya. I'm just sure it wasn't even THERE when we went. I can't prove it, but I know it. Rationale in a whole nuther post.

Finally found a place that was family friendly yet attractive for us adults, and worked with our budget (so far as it can, anyway). Booked it, baby. Now I wanna pack. Today. Now then. The last time I went I packed jewelry and shoes for every outfit. This time, I'm thinking seven sundresses, two pairs of flip flops (one black, one brown) , a sleep shirt, a great pair of silver post earrings, and swimsuits. Done.

Boy, how my life has changed. Taken a turn. It's not about the outfits, the clothes, the all-inclusive deal. It's about taking my children to the country of their origins. Yep there are beaches there, ruins there, amber necklaces there, jade rings there, Modelo (well you HAVE to include beer), but there's also culture to be soaked up. Things to point out to my children and then watch their faces as their reaction unfolds. THIS. Is why I can't wait, and also why I'm packin two pairs of shoes for a seven day trip. It's a trip for the record book!!!