Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Miss Christie!

Turn Around
Written by: Harry Belafonte / Alan Greene / Malvina Reynolds
Where are you going
My little one, little one Where are you going My baby, my own
Turn around and you’re two Turn around and you’re four
Turn around and you’re a young girl Going out of the door
Turn around, turn around
Turn around and you’re a young girl Going out of the door

Where are you going
My little one, little one
Little pigtails, petticoats Where have they gone
Turn around and you’re tiny Turn around and you’re grown
Turn around and you’re a young wife With babes of your own
Turn around, turn around
Turn around and you’re a young wife With babes of your own

Where have they gone My little ones, little ones 
Where have they gone My babies, my own 
Turn around and they’re young Turn around and they’re old 
Turn around and they’re gone And we’ve no one to hold
Turn around, turn around
Turn around and they’re gone And we’ve no one to hold
Where are you going
My baby, my own?

* * * * *
Do you remember my singing this to you when you were little?
Where have those 43 years gone?
Are you singing ithis yet to your own girls?

Turn around they're gone ... and we've no one to hold ....

But we have wonderful memories.

Happy birthday, my daughter.
My prayers are for you today.  

Sunday, January 24, 2010


M had his angiogram, but not angioplasty.  The next step for him is bypass surgery, but he's not there yet.  His cardiologist says he will do the bypass when the choice is life with a bypass, or death.

G doesn't get his eye repair -- yet.  His cardiologist won't let him stop taking his  blood thinning medications  long enough to please the opthamologist.   The opthomologist doesn't want his patient to bleed out on the table because his blood won't clot.  Catch 22.

After his bout with anaphylactic shock with resultant near death experience and hiatal hernia, Ray used to quote the ER doctor.  "You can live with a hiatal hernia," he said, "but you cannot live with a heart that won't beat."  

"The hiatal hernia is an issue," Ray used to tell me,  "but I'd rather live with it than not live"

So I say to G, "Life does not require good vision.  Life does not require any vision.  Vision, however, requires life."   It's a disappointment to be offered something you want so badly, only to be knocked down by someone else who sees a whole different set of issues.  What's the cliche?  When  life hands you lemons -- make lemonade.

Look hard for a positive in one of those negatives in your life.   Give thanks for that positive something.  Give thanks for the ability to find it.  Don't forget to pray ....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Doctors and More Doctors

Two friends are scheduled for surgery in the next week.  One is happy.  One needs to stay optimistic.

G has had vision issues most of his life.  As I recall, he came to college with a goal of medical school, but dropped out because his vision would not tolerate the amount of reading required of a pre-med student.  Big Bummer.  As his dreams shattered, I suspect that some of his self-image smashed along with them, creating a huge ball that he's been dragging around with the proverbial chain ever since.   He still spends a lot of time muttering that he never lived up to his full potential.  Now a doctor is offering him a procedure that could bring his vision from the practically-blind-even-with-the-glasses to just-some-guy-who-wears-glasses.   He has the procedure on Tuesday morning.

M has been fighting circulatory issues for a years.  He's had bypass surgery that didn't work.  "But it's OK," he says.  "My body created a natural bypass."  He's had at least one angiogram.  He's a PAD (peripheral artery disease) patient, making even simple exercise like walking difficult.  His doctor says he has smaller-than-average arteries even when they are clean -- which his apparently haven't been for years.  He is a beef eater and a milk drinker -- both contributors to arterial congestion.  He has another angiogram scheduled for tomorrow morning, and expects it to be followed immediately by angioplasty so that he comes home with at least one stent.

M told me yesterday that he'd just go and have the procedure done, then call his daughter to pick him up when it was over.  I thought about all people I know who have had similar procedures, and all the people who care about them who hang out at the hospital and worry and read or do needlework or chatter mindlessly to a friend until the procedure is over, then hang out a bit longer until their loved one is ready to come home or be admitted to a "guest room" for one or more nights.  We're there to hold a hand, offer a prayer or an encouraging word, talk to the doctor as soon as he or she has something to report.  Sometimes we're there to support the spouse or children.  We're there, and we stay there, because we care -- and because that's what we hope someone will care enough to do for us.

I asked if his daughter wouldn't be there at the hospital with him. "Oh, no!" he said.  "She has to work."  So I was pleased this afternoon when he told me she -- and her husband -- would pick him up at some horribly early hour, take him to the hospital, and stay there until he was ready to leave.  He didn't expect that she'd do that.  I did.

Give thanks for the advancements in medical science that make these new diagnostic and repair procedures possible.  Give thanks for the doctors, nurses and technicians who use these procedures often, with skill and caring.  Give thanks for family and friends who care enough to be there in support of someone they love.

Don't forget to pray ....  

Sunday, January 10, 2010

You never know

I should have visited my dad yesterday.  That was the plan.  He told people all day that his daughter was coming at 4:00.  I didn't get there.  Mother had a bad bout of vertigo and was afraid to get up and move.  It was not fair to leave her alone in that state.  But today she was feeling better, so off I went to visit my dad.

He greeted me warmly.  He called me by name.  I pulled up a chair, looked at his fingernails (he has been complaining because they were long), and pulled out the travel kit that holds my clippers, scissors, files and other paraphernalia for nail maintenance.  He was pleased.

"How lucky I am," he said, "to have a sister who has all the equipment and the willingness to do this!"  Sister????  I let it pass.

He is still pleased to share his new photo album with his friends at Oahu Care Facility.  "It even has pictures of me when I was 3 years old." he tells them.  "Don't you want to see?"   He is also pleased with the cat photographs, recycled from last year's calendar featuring the Ka'a'awa Cats of the Chesney-Lind household.  Nine kitty portraits overflow the bulletin board behind his head.  People must be commenting.  It makes him feel special.  That makes him happy.

Then, out of the clear blue sky, he commented, "Tomorrow I am being beheaded."

My eyebrows must have gone clear to my hairline.  "Excuse me?"

He repeated himself.  Then it dawned on me.  Tomorrow is haircut day.  He has missed haircut day for the last 2 months.  In December when I asked the staff why he had not been given his monthly haircut, I was told he "didn't feel like getting up."

I scolded him.  "Next time they come and tell you it's time for a haircut, get out of bed and go.  Your hair will be curling around the bottoms of your ears if you don't go this month!"    I've repeated the direction twice since, on separate occasions.  I have showed him on the calendar taped to his wardrobe door which Monday in January is Haircut Day.  Apparently, this is a message he remembers.  Tomorrow is indeed haircut day.  Will he follow through?  Will staff be sufficiently insistent?  Will they remember their suggestion that he be the last in line and not brought in until the last possible moment so he does not have to wait?

You never know.
Give thanks for those moments when the dementia patient's memory finds something to hang on to.  Don't forget to pray .....

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year, New Beginnings

January 1, 2010.  Only one 0 following that 2 -- how far we've travelled since the New Year when the world welcomed the 21st century....

Some parts of the US are buried in snow.  In Chicago the temperature didn't get to 20.  In Colorado and Utah it was in the 30's.  In Boise, ID and in Groveland, temps in the 40's were promised.  In Seattle it was 54 when I looked, with a forecast of rain all weekend.

In Honolulu, it's 80.   My mother is cold; she has the house closed up, and is wrapped in a fleece blanket.

As I look out across the back garden, I see masses of color -- oranges, greens, golds, reds.  This Red Ginger, blooming in the front garden under my bedroom window, missed being part of a Christmas bouquet by being the only red ginger in bloom.

There are Monarch butterflies in the backyard, probably drawn to the badly overgrown crownflower plants, which they love.  They also enjoy the Cup-and-Saucer bush.  A year ago this bush was so heavily pruned that it was nothing but 4' tall stakes.  Those top branches are now about 8' in the air!

Here's a close up-up of the flower so you can see how the plant gets its name.  The cup-and-saucer bush reminds me that plants grow stronger after occasional strong prunings.  People do, too.  I need to remind myself of that more often.  In a little book that has been on my bookshelf at home since college years, titled The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran writes on "Joy and Sorrow".  He says,

...Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain....

I must look for things about which I can be joyful, for which I can give thanks.  Today I give thanks for the sunshine, the flowers, and the butterflies. 

Don't forget to pray ....