Monday, October 31, 2011

ON THE MEND

(Todays blog is written by Susan Humphrey) 
Today started at the dark morning hour of 4 a.m., reminding me the tiniest bit of leaving on childhood vacations, up before the sun, packed and ready to go – this was a different kind of packed and ready to go. At 5:30 a.m. Jane bid Bob good bye, he isn’t able to be in hospital settings with his compromised immune system due to chemotherapy. Jane climbed in the van, Chris at the wheel and headed to Verdugo Hills Hospital to meet Tim. Mom was very stoic, brave, very few tears, telling us again how supported she felt to have her children together for the first time in over ten years, the incredible amount of love and support from family and friends, even people she has never met.

The night before she had pinched her finger in the new rolling bag bought for her hospital stay – traumatic, big tears, and painful….I think it was more about the hugeness of the day ahead than the actual pinched finger – we comforted her. (What are the odds of one pinching fingers twice in two weeks?)  

In the admitting department the nurse said her entourage of three would not fit in the triage room; she had to pick one of us. I being the one with breasts was chosen. I have never been so proud of my mother as I have been throughout this day!  She answered the zillion questions, many answered with humor others with tears. As the nurse stepped away to use the computer Jane fell asleep un-medicated, but upheld by the love everyone was sending her. 

Dr. Acosta stopped by to explain the procedure and explain she would get through it just fine. She gave him a gentle lecture having heard he rides a motorcycle. Jane was then whisked off away, all three of saying “I love you”. Chris, Tim and I settled in the, “Same Day Surgery” waiting area, texts, emails received from many. A friend of Jane’s from the Once Upon A Time days and now a Verdugo Hills Hospital Volunteer came to visit with us while we waited, (on her day off). Dear friend of many, many years, Diane stopped by to visit bringing separate decorative bags of Halloween treats. Susie H. of the Buena Vista Troop came and visited, we reminisced of living on Buena Vista. Such kindness of folks visiting the ‘waiters’ made the time waiting easier and go by faster than expected.

I stepped outside and missed Dr. Acosta’s report that everything had gone well with the surgery, well enough they placed the port for later chemo use – we would be able to see her in her room shortly. When she arrived, groggy of course, but looking well. Excellent color, tolerating the pain, what a trooper. As she became more alert even her well known humor emerged- so uncomfortable but still able to smile- she ordered lunch, when awake enough to eat she ate her ice cream first – She is is on the road to recovery!


There aren’t the words to describe and express how we as a family have felt supported and loved by so many during these challenging times first with Bob and now with Jane. An immense thank you to all!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY


THE CHILDREN HAVE COME HOME and I slept like a baby...... the whole night through which is unheard of. They all have lives of their own or I might coax them to move back in with us which would prove our dysfunctional nature beyond doubt.


What did we ever do before the modern day electronics? This morning we received a text from our elder Alaskan grandson with a picture to prove that they've had their first snow up there which is exciting each year. And on his Vietnamese bus ride, Chris sent us a little movie of the television entertainment (no subtitles and quite a lot of Asian music) with the caption "Are we there yet?" And now Susan and Chris are giggling their way through composing a song.


There's been talk of my upcoming "discomboobulation"....Tim gets credit for coining the phrase and while I fully expect to be discombobulated tomorrow morning as I enter the operating arena, the extra "o" is right on.


Something to remember is that much as I love all the interaction with you lovely people, I'm shy about having hospital visitors beyond immediate family. Every room at the hospital is private and very small and we easily fill up the room. Please don't think I'm being unfriendly.........false pride must enter into it somehow.




When I reminded the doctor that the surgery was scheduled on Hallowe'en he said he would be the one dressed as a surgeon and then he said, "And you"..............pause.............."will be Lady Godiva". Until that point, I'd pictured myself fully clothed during the coming ordeal.


Shelley, Mr. Bob's niece's daughter, joined us this morning for the Manor's Champagne Brunch in a sort of early hour Last Supper.






       So here's my immediate cheering section. I'm grateful that the good wishes fan out into your hearts and minds, too. Thanks for letting me know that.


I'll be back just as soon as I can.


Jane



Saturday, October 29, 2011

HOMECOMING


I AROSE THIS MORNING, vowing that there be no tears today. Enough is really quite enough and I used over my quota yesterday. As I do every morning, first thing, I looked at the mail and the blog (always hungry for your precious comments which make me feel so connected to the outside world) and facebook. It was on facebook that I found the following and yes, I've cried already this morning but they were happy tears and I'm not even dressed yet!

Chris HumphreyToday I return home, to help my mother prepare for the first step in her journey as a breast cancer survivor.· · about an hour ago near Fairview, CA ·




Susan Humphrey I am at the Anchorage airport waiting for my departing flight to also return home to help my mohter, father, brothers feel supported during this important time.

GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU.......my cherished family, my dear friends, far and near, some of whom I've never even met face to face. You're all playing such an important part in this unfolding scenario. 


Help's coming, Bob and Tim! 


Thank you.
And again, thank you.


"Homecoming unites

 the past and the present."
                                     author unknown                   

Friday, October 28, 2011

TRUE CONFESSION

THERE'S SOMETHING I must tell you. I am surrounded by women, both acquaintances and longtime friends who love being independent. I admire that so much, but the truth of the matter is, now that independence is being forced upon me, I don't like it at all. Mr. Bob has always spoiled me and I've loved it and tried to show my appreciation to him. My attempts at reciprocation have not pleased him at all. He'd rather do things himself. It's taken all these years and cancer for me to realize this.


It started when it became necessary for me to become the family driver. I loved being chauffeured and Mr. Bob was always apparently happy to take me anywhere I wanted to go, even circling the block when I missed a good photo opportunity. After his accident our world became all-of-a-sudden much smaller and I could no longer take pictures out of the window as we traveled from here to there. It's been nearly two years now and my neuropathic feet still can't feel the pedals, but I'm pretty good at faking it.


Of late, he opts to stay in our apartment rather than riding along wherever we're headed. I honor that decision, but I miss his companionship tremendously. Today was a good example......it was a full day starting at 8 a.m. when I left for the hospital for pre-admittance. The woman processing me had a cold and blew her nose several times without using hand sanitizer, all the while handing me forms to sign. I didn't keep track of how many there were, but toward the end, she was licking her finger to pick up the next form and handing it to me. Not only do I not want to catch a cold this near to surgery, but we've been careful to guard Mr. Bob from exposure while he's undergoing chemotherapy. I've never thought of myself as having mysophobia, but today that was my middle name.


I thought I'd learned to be fairly straight forward in dealing with people, but I found myself unable to confront her, but my next stop was to see the admitting nurse and I was comfortable enough with him to tell all. He was astounded and promised to tell her supervisor. Next time I passed her window she wasn't there.


Next I had to go to the lab for a blood test. The lady drawing was good. I think I've told you that I've taken to asking the person at the other end of the needle if they're good at what they do, and if they brag that they are, they're usually not. Her answer when I asked was that I'd soon enough know if she was. I gave her an A+.


Then to the next room for an EKG. I made the mistake of asking the technician what she was going to be for Hallowe'en and her terse answer was that she doesn't observe Hallowe'en, so I zipped my lip.


Next was my appointment with the orthopedic surgeon who planned to talk about surgery on my knee which is becoming alarmingly knock-kneed, causing difficulty with walking. That was out of the question with what is planned for Monday morning, so it became a matter of whether to put cortisone in my shoulder or my knee. The knee won. Usually I'd have Bob's hand to hold and squeeze and I tried to keep my hand off the doctor's arm but ended up squeezing his elbow during the painful parts as he worked around the large floating bone spurs. Tears flowed, I'm ashamed to say.


All of these medical matters took quite a long time and when I got myself back to the Manor, I found it decorated for the coming day.




The costume party for residents and staff was scheduled for 2 this afternoon. Mr. Bob declined going down to fulfill his position of historian / photographer, so I filled in. Lots of creativity was evident.



Glendale has a very large Armenian population
and as a culture, are very family oriented, taking care of their own. I must say I've never been aware of a homeless Armenian, so Victor's costume was amusing and clever.
Excellent maintenance man, John
Carlos, in charge of many
departments.





Witch Hazel
One of the student interns





Ghostly nails on Jeanne, our hairdresser
Mr. Bob said he'd go for wine and cheese on the patio, but only to visit, rather than to imbibe. Once there, he drank wine, ate his share of cheese and every grape on the little bunch served to us. And then he stayed for supper, which was a good thing, even if the mixed messages mystify me.

I'm weary tonight. It was a very full day and my head aches.
Taking a bus from S.F. Chinatown
to Chinatown in Los Angeles.
And then to Glendale.
Leaving at 7 a.m. to get to
Burbank at almost 9 p.m

Susan and Chris will arrive tomorrow!


Let the laughter begin! I'm ready to be coddled and cosseted as in the days of yore. Tim's been doing a fine job and is ready for the back-up troops to arrive.



"Most of us would never consider getting our car repaired without first receiving an estimate of the charges, but this is exactly what we do when we need to go to a hospital for treatment."
                                                                                    
Dan Lipinski

Thursday, October 27, 2011

QUINAHAWK, ALASKA





Our daughter, Susan, a resident of Alaska, has often gone out into small villages in that state to give workshops to families who are caring for a "differently-abled" child. I think she has even slept on the schoolroom floor on these trips. It's a different world! 


A friend sent me the following clip. I sent it to Susan, whose response I'm including. I love the community effort exhibited in this film. I hope you'll find it 4 minutes well spent.

Begin forwarded message:


From: Susan Humphrey <humphrey.susanjan@gmail.com>
Date: October 26, 2011 9:14:33 AM PDT
To: Jane Humphrey <jane@humphreynet.com>
Subject: Re: Joyful school computer project


Yes and it still makes me smile and cry all at the same time. Quinahawk is like many villages I have spent time in.


On Tue, Oct 25, 2011 at 2:00 PM, Jane Humphrey <jane@humphreynet.com> wrote:







Had you seen this?
Mom
Done like you've never seen before. This video from the small
Yupiq Eskimo Village of Quinhagak, Alaska , was a school
computer project intended for the other Yupiq villages
in the area. Much to the villagers' shock, over a half million
 people have viewed it.
For your turn to view, Click: HERE  Runs approximately 4 minutes

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

LUCK OF THE DRAW





THE MORNING was chilly. The rain-dampened sidewalks dried in time for the invited pastors to assemble for lunch at the Manor and the dining room was filled with people of the cloth. Pray tell, where were the residents to dine? Downstairs, that's where. Tables had been set up, part of the kitchen crew were serving.......dinner went off without a hitch.





The special Manor salad was followed by pork loin garnished with apple slices, roasted potatoes and a medley of vegetables. Dessert was a maple pumpkin cheesecake topped with almond brittle. Sigh....................


Each table held two centerpieces of posies in the colors of autumn which were raffled off after we ate. Mr. Bob was one of the lucky winners, such a rarity for us. Aside from the bi-weekly Bingo evenings, we've rarely been prize winners.


The Powers That Be could have just told us they were sorry for the inconvenience; instead, each place setting had a note of thanks signed by the executive director and the CEO along with a golden box holding one delicious chocolate truffle.


There were a lot of centerpieces to be won and by the time Cindy got to the grand prize, I wasn't paying much attention. Somehow the winning number penetrated my subconscious. Did she say "4-9-3"?
It didn't seem within the realm of possibility but sure enough, that was the number on my ticket. I'd won a catered dinner for up to ten people!




It's a sign to me that, high risk or not, I HAVE to come through my Halloween surgery, somewhat intact, to collect my winnings.


"Forget the lottery. 

Bet on yourself instead."
                                                                         Brian Koslow

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

PHOTO SHOOT

ANYTHING UNUSUAL that happens at the Manor draws the attention of residents. "What are they doing out there on the patio?", "What's going on?", "Who are they?".........curiosity runs rampant. All I knew was that I had been asked to report at 2 o'clock so that my picture could be taken holding my iPhone.




Monee (pronounced "Monet", as in the painter's name) had arranged for a photographer to take pictures of comfort food. I missed getting a photo of the glass of milk and the stack of be.cookies because the crew ate the props before I arrived, but I saw them from my place at the dinner table.


When my turn came, I was instructed to "stand over there" and I always think of the time our photographer son, Chris, told me to hold my hips in, and to hold up my iPhone as though I was about to take a picture. I took 16 shots of the photographer and he must have taken a zillion of me. 




I think it had something to do with my Manor blog which has been mentioned in the corporate blog that is read by residents of ten communities in the be group. I'll let you know if I learn anything more.


SMILE!



Monday, October 24, 2011

OUR DAILY BREAD

"MEALTIMES are a big deal here at the Manor. For many who live here, life has become pretty much a matter of visits to the doctors and time to chow down. We eat earlier than most of us were used to in our previous lives. 11:30 for the midday meal, which is the largest; 4:30 suppertime is the one that's hardest to get used to. We can arrive any time between 4:30 and 6 which still is earlier than most of us were accustomed to sitting down to the evening meal.


In the summertime, tables are set on the patio. Mr. Bob prefers to eat inside, so that's where we settle even though I long for the freshness of the outdoors.




The food is good here, no doubt about it. We can order full or half portions, I always ask for my soup in a coffee cup, which lessens the chance of my getting it all down my front. And my green salad in a bowl so I can toss it without it escaping onto the tablecloth.


The waitresses bend over backward to please and I've seen residents with memory loss send back their order when it arrives because they've forgotten what they originally asked for. I think I'd get a little snappy if I were the one serving, but I've never seen that happen.



We're urged to use comment cards, both for compliments and criticisms, the idea being that the kitchen wants to please and needs to know when a dish needs improvement. I've noticed that most residents are hesitant to fill out a card, so I try to do my part, often asking others at the table if I should include any of their ideas on the meal just served.




Once a month there's something called "Coffee Talk" where the chef tells us what to be expecting as the seasons change and holds an extensive question and answer period. And he does pay attention. Liver and onions appears on the menu now, by request. We're still trying to get spaghetti sauce that isn't watery and I have high hopes, now that a young Italian man has been added to the kitchen staff. I understand he's most proficient at baking, but I'm counting on his improving the marinara sauce.


Here you see Simone, a new resident who helped me recently when I hit a snag in my knitting. She lives across the hall and is originally from France. 


Bob (not my Bob) is drinking his V-8 juice, something that lots of people order, probably as a way to get another serving of vegetables. 


I wish I were more fond of vegetables. I eat them out of a sense of duty, but with the recent reports that we really don't need all those supplemental vitamin tablets we've been taking and that PSA tests haven't proven all that necessary for men to have........I'm hoping against hope that we might hear that the need for vegetables has been overblown. I don't think it'll happen. I'll eat almost anything except brussel sprouts but I'm nowhere near being a vegan.


"An onion can make people cry but there's never been a vegetable that can make people laugh."                                                                                                             Will Rogers 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

HAIKU

THE DISCOMFORT of the MRIs and the biopsies are behind me, but my smashed fingers remind me that I had an experience. It could have been worse had I not signaled that something was terribly wrong. As it is I got by with minor bruises, some scrapes and a diagonal cut reminiscent of how you'd make a plain radish into something decorative.


Tears flowed at the pain
Silent agony expressed
I won't press charges.



Remember the Q&A Journal I bought myself last August on one of Tim's Sunday Parents' Days? There's a question each day and places to answer for the next five years. Some of the questions this past week have been:

  • What's the most valuable thing you own? (my grandmother's Regina music box)
  • What famous living person would you like to meet for drinks? (still considering an answer to that one)
  • What was your last credit card purchase? (Books for the Manor library)
  • Who do you count on? (Before chemo, Bob; now, the kids.)
  • What new word have you learned? (Our new neighbor across the hall is French and has the most delightful accent, even after living  in Glendale for 35 years. She told me her favorite red wine which is "like velvet on the tongue" and now my new word is "Chateauneuf du Pape".)
Yesterday's directive was "write a haiku about your day.  5 syllables/7syllables/5 syllables". Mine is pathetic and has no graceful flow whatsoever but it sums up our Saturday:
           On Sundays Tim comes

           Painting in Pomona calls
           So today he's here.
                             

Certainly nothing to brag about. Tim's helping his friend paint the newly purchased condo this Sunday. He came with Tulip yesterday. and took my grocery lists, returning with every single item. Someone taught that boy how to shop! Could it have been his mother? While he was gone, Tulip missed him and most of the time sat against the door awaiting Tim's return.


The Master has gone
On a search for provisions
Why did he leave me?
    
            §§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§§



Company coming?
                 And your house is a big mess?

Just put on lipstick.

Friday, October 21, 2011

HALLOWE'EN FUN


WHILE WE'RE STRONGLY in favor of tradition, it's kind of fun for each celebration to have a personality of its own. I've not kept a record, so I can't say 1984 was the year we did such-and-such. It would be interesting if we could. 


Am I going to be reading this year on October 31? I doubt it.


Will we be going out to choose pumpkins at our favorite produce stand? No.
Will we be shopping for costumes and decorations? Probably not.


 




Will we
be getting ready to go trick or treating? Not this year.


How about carving a jack-o'-lantern? Possibly. Possibly not.


Might we be horsing around with Hallowe'en tricks? Not likely.












Will we don costumes to greet neighborhood children? No.


Instead of the above,
we'll be doing
what you see below.
Surgery is scheduled
for 7:30 a.m. on
the morning
of 
Hallowe'en.


I've birthed three babies, always in a hospital; had two cataracts removed as an out-patient and the picture above was taken when I had a digestive system malfunction a few years ago. Now it's time to go to the hospital again, for a mastectomy. Not my idea of fun, but a sure way of remembering Hallowe'en, 2011. 

On Hallowe'en the thing you must do
Is pretend that nothing can  frighten you
And if somethin' scares you and you want to run
Just let on like it's Hallowe'en fun.                                                    ~Author Unknown